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Giant rats and giant grubs!

The buried landfill was my playground. So many things to kill, so much Exp to be had. And this System's Exp formula was insane.

I needed seven thousand Experience Points to gain a level. That number was fixed, regardless of my level. Each point of rarity cost a thousand points, and sub-Classes were counted as (Common). So, six for my main Class plus one for the sub.

The caveat was that the Exp award was based on your current level when you earned the kill. Stuff your own level was worth 100 points. For each level above, you gained a multiplicative 25%, for every level below, you lose 20%. So a monster one level below me is worth 80 points.

Therefore, I had to farm the hell out of these monsters in the landfill before I attempted to scavenge the surface. My diode will need to wait.

Without any better way to do it, I did the following. Using the shafts I erected to extend my Domain, I built walls around each cube, closing in a hundred-foot cube of garbage along with all the grubs and rats inside. To avoid a collapse, I started from the bottom of the crevice.

Once I had a cube enclosed, I would start recycling everything inside. A million cubic feet of garbage. Which when unattended, was promptly converted into SP and DM. Along with the oxygen. I say unattended because I couldn't affect the materials and air around the monsters... Creatures had a magical aura that stopped me from just absorbing a warrior's armor, for example. But leave an item unattended for too long and it now belongs to the Dungeon.

I started a vault of resources

The Exp started raking in. Nothing nice in killing things by asphyxiation and the grubs could survive a long time without any oxygen. Grubs were numerous but lower leveled. The diminishing returns started to kick in fast.

 

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained the Glistening Blades Perk: The edge and tip of blades you craft have 100% more durability.

 

That's five. Another cube. I got close but didn't gain another level.

 

> You gained a level! You gained +8 Intelligence, +4 Wisdom, +7 Will, +5 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.

> You gained the Perk, Domain Beacon. Spend 5 DM/minute to project your domain in a 30-degree cone, reaching (Wisdom*2) yards away from the origin. Using this Perk may draw attention to your Dungeon.

 

Level six. The new Perk seemed like a trap. A double-edged detection power. I could see further but then something would be out there and come to eat me. No, thank you. I'm fine clearing up this mess of a landfill.

 

*


*

 

Sometime later and a lot of stone cubes later, I finally found another usable electronic device. A discarded videogame console.

I was about to absorb it when shit hit the fan. A massive magical impact from above dug a hole hundreds of yards deep into the landfill. It sent all my senses on high alert. I sent caution to the wind and used my new Perk. I cast a Domain beacon from the edge of my domain straight up at the source of the hole.

I sensed people. Five humans.

"Hey, Lee, something scanned us from below," A man said.

"Activate countermeasures," The guy named Lee replied.

My sight went dark.

In the few moments I saw these people, they were dressed like anime fantasy adventurers. Magical armor, swords, spears, even a girl in a blue robe with a gnarled wooden staff. Soon the darkness covered my normal Domain. it was like that section was detached from my Dungeon. A dark bubble I couldn't sense into.

I quickly absorbed the video game console, noticing that most of the components were beyond my ability to understand. All I got was a list of "????" entries in my components book. Poking them, and I got a message.

 

> You need to either improve your Intelligence score or acquire more samples of this component to fully understand it.

 

I had twenty points to spend. What would give me an edge against these people? Nothing. I decided I would not fight back. I needed to hide. They were clearly stronger. What should I do? Shock them? What good would it make? I doubt they would die like giant rats.

In a panic, I spent all the points in Hardness, raising my armor to level 14.

Name: Skip May Neming Species: Dungeon Core /
Plant (Apple)
Main Class: Electronic Apple Orchard (L) Level:  6
Sub-Class: Architect of Destruction (V) Exp/ Level: 1,240 / 7,000
Attributes Base Score   Efficiency Modified Score

Intelligence

56 (200%) 112

Wisdom

34 (200%) 68

Will

52 (220%) 114

Clarity

60 (220%) 132

Hardness

92 (220%) 202
Resources Base Current   Maximum

DM

160 371 371 (232 / day)

SP

160 342 342
Materialization 136 Armor:   14 (70%)
Traits Puzzle Dungeon Dungeon Automation Replicate Electronics
Sanctuary Orchard Dungeon Domain
Skills
Engineering III
  • You can visualize a blueprint. Doing so reduces the chances of mishap by 5% per rank.
  • Your contraptions are 5% sturdier per rank.
  • Discount 5% per rank to repair traps.
Implements
of Demise I
  • When designing a new project meant to cause harm, it deals 5% more damage per rank.
Perks Minor Levitation (2ft) Telekinetic Button Pusher Domain Beacon
Traps Bb.gum Shock (18) Shock (50)

 

The dark bubble soon reached one of my shafts. The close proximity to the Dungeon proper allowed me to hear what they were saying due to proximity. I still couldn't cast my senses into the protection spell they were using. Why didn't the System give me an Appraise, Judgment, Identify, or any information magic?

I stopped whining in my head to listen.

"What is this? Stone? It's too smooth and perfectly square," The first guy said.

"It is obviously magical. I can sense a lot of Mana woven into this stone," a woman's voice, probably the blue robe girl.

"Try to break it."

"Why your first reaction is always to try to break something?"

The guy who suggested just grunted.

Something attacked the shaft. The stone only chipped.

"Damn, that thing is hard."

"You hit like a girl."

"Hey!"

"Dude, I put all my Strength behind it. This stone is almost indestructible."

"What if we take it and use it to build us some fortifications?"

"One, how are we going to break this stone? And two, I sense it would lose its properties if removed from here." The girl conjectured.

"Monsters incoming. Giant rats."

"Are your childhood traumas surfacing again?"

"Let's get deeper. We will follow this weird stone and see where it will take us."

They stopped talking and the bubble followed the shaft. I had no idea how they were moving but I knew the hole they punctured in the garbage was oddly stable. They were hundreds of feet under the surface and the garbage hadn't yet collapsed on them. Soon they reached one of the enclosed cubes.

"This stone was grown to form cubes. And this one is massive. My sonar indicates it is at least a hundred feet big."

"What's inside?"

"No idea."

"We should try to find an entrance."

Panicking, I started thickening my sphere by filling the inside with more rock. It was a huge mistake.

"A Mana reaction from deeper down," the girl said. "Something is gathering a lot of Mana. Thousands of points."

Thousands? Was Dungeon Mana different from normal Mana?

"Is it an attack?"

"It doesn't seem so. I sense a conjuration taking place."

"Hurry up. Spaz, point in the right direction. Lee, prepare to punch a hole in the garbage."

"The upkeep of this tunnel is already more than my regen," Lee complained.

"Drink a potion if you must. We need to finish this commission. Let's go!"

"Less talk, more digging," the fifth member finally spoke with a squeaking voice.

They kept their silence and continued digging, straight down as any Minecraft player shouldn't, then they reached the main tunnel easily. They were sixty feet from my sphere.

"That way," the woman spoke.

They walked over the tunnel and reached the sphere. When the dark bubble covered it, I was overwhelmed and lost all senses as my Domain shut down, unable to cope with the pressure. It was like everything went dark.

 

*


*

 

I came back to my senses in a cubic space that was about a foot wide. If I had a heart, it would be jumping out of my throat. I didn't have my Dungeon anymore and no Resource generation. What happened? Was I kidnapped?

I was unharmed and sitting on... velvet? It took a few minutes after waking up for my Domain senses to come back. Yes, black velvet. Like that on a jeweler's display case. My form wasn't hurt and my Resources were capped.

My sight returned last. I was in a glass case and though my Domain couldn't extend beyond the enchanted glass, I could see I was on the stage of a theater, with a man in a tuxedo beside the case talking to an audience wearing domino masks. I couldn't sense any of their auras. The glass must've been blocking magic in both directions.

It took a while for my addled crystallized fruit brain to understand. I was being auctioned. Like some odd post-modernist art sculpture.

The auctioneer spoke excitedly about me, waving a hand my way several times. Then the bids started. People were placing bids with small signs with numbers. I had not much in the way of pride but this was horrible. Nobody should be treated as merchandise.

Also, Dungeon Cores were instinctively camera-shy. The feeling I had was that if the enemy had a line of sight to the Dungeon Core, the battle was already lost. The Dungeon had failed, not that I had one right now.

At the height of the auction, the lights went off. I could still sense inside my case but beyond the glass everything was dark. Violent vibrations shook my case, probably from explosions. If the glass wasn't enchanted, it would've been shattered.

Something lifted my case whole and I was tossed against the glass when it tilted and started to bob violently.

Oh, boy. I became the target of a heist. Kidnapped from my kidnappers!

Gravity lurched and I was pressed against the glass. Then I was free-falling. Bang against the magical glass again. This won't do. A flash of light. the case was covered in a thick canvas bag.

Perfect.

I activated my floating Perk, and quickly wrapped myself in a sphere of rubber, the insides weren't solid but a honeycomb lattice with lots of air pockets. Then I wrapped it in a half-inch sphere of copper, infusing it with Dungeon Mana to increase its hardness. Thus armored and cushioned, I started absorbing the glass. The enchantments resisted for a while and it was a great way to replenish my Dungeon Mana.

Against the erosion of a Dungeon's Domain, most objects couldn't resist. I think Dungeons have a place as the scavengers of the magical ecosystem, consuming everything and recycling it into Mana and monsters. Well, not me because I was stunted by those aliens. This enchanted glass case? It was food now that I wasn't being watched by hundreds of people.

But the Glass was unaffected while the enchantments held. I knew I would have to be fast in my escape because the moment the enchantments failed, my captor's aura would take hold. I hope he didn't have one of those sense-depriving black bubble powers.

Then it happened. The enchantments lost potency, I could sense everything around me and forced myself to consume it all. Glass, velvet, wood base, some crystals that had shattered underneath, some silver circuitry, and part of the bag disappeared.

 

> You learned...

 

Not now, System!

I was free-falling.

In my domain, I saw a black-clad person in a wing glider staring at the shining copper... oops, big mistake. Where was I? Staring at my copper armor against the backdrop of the night.

Oh, stars and moons, how I missed you. Wait, what? Moons? Our dear Luna was there, but now there was a jealous red moon that was about half its size too. Damn.

Underneath me laid the ruins of some metropolis. I didn't recognize it, could be downtown New York, São Paulo, or even Tokyo for all I cared. No landmarks I could see either, just ruined high-rise buildings.

I wrapped the copper in a sheath of black rubber. That should add bounciness and some impact resistance.

Then I dropped into one of the ruined buildings like balls of metal and rubber do when they fall from the sky.

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About the author

MDW

Bio: The author would like to reinforce for the umpteenth time that the characters' opinions are their own, may be intentionally wrong, do not reflect my (MDW's) personal viewpoints neither are included in this work to further any political agenda (I don't even live in the same hemisphere or country as you, whichever those are. I'm writing from the Earth-Sun L3 point for all I care). My works serve no purpose other than to tell stories with conflicting viewpoints. Use of the reader's critical sense is highly advised.

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