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A note from MDW

Ghost of the Truthseeker

by Strungbound

 

A multiverse spanning cultivation story with LitRPG elements

They thought it was bad when an alien being descended upon Earth, killing billions of people. That was until the world was initiated into part of a universe-spanning Empire of cut-throat cultivators, beasts, and entities of ungodly power. Not to mention being forced to navigate a complex system of progression aided by a mysterious AI.

Alistair was just an ordinary college student, but he is now forced to find his way through an increasingly complicated world where power is obtained through conflict and death, where cultivation is key and the Peak is insurmountable. Alistair faces deadly encounters behind every corner on his path to survive and protect his loved ones, as he forges his own path to eternity.

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

The failure runs so deep in this story, the author forgot to fill the form to participate in the community contest. But who cares about ad campaigns and a month of premium?

All this troll here cares about is to write trashy novels about trash. So you get THREE chapters today to celebrate failure.


 

I remembered there was one thing I was missing. My daily daydream power was usually rather profound but useless. Now, with the opportunity to earn a piece of lost code — now, to be frank, that must be coming from somewhere. I bet these aliens downloaded the whole internet during the Apocalypse — I couldn't let it pass.

So, I used Daydreaming. No shouting ability names for me, because, one, it was lame, two, I didn't need to, and three, I couldn't speak.

I became one with the universe. My mind expanded beyond my comprehension, even being 11 times smarter than when I began this journey. And when it all ended, aside from a longing to meld with the great beyond and join the great flow of all creation, one little tidbit about reality remained.

 

There is no Mana in the void of space. Mana was created, supported, and fed by life. Only on planets where life teemed and a reasonable concentration of magic existed could Mana ever exist.

 

And that's it for today. See you next episode. No, not really.

Where was I? Oh, yes. talk to my new guests. Former slaves, now expatriates. Not prisoners. They were free to attempt to climb the smooth stone shaft out. I would even disarm the traps. I had a very good reason to want people living inside my Dungeon, though. You see, I had thousands of trees down here. They were eating carbon dioxide like crazy and pumping tons of oxygen into the air every day. So much oxygen I feared the lower floors would become toxic to animals. Having people in here would consume some of this oxygen and spare me the Dungeon Mana I was burning to... transmute the oxygen back into carbon dioxide.

 

*


*

 

I gave them some time to get used to their new reality. They roamed the four rooms and ate every herb I planted, leaf, stem, and roots. They talked among themselves about how this place couldn't be what Lord Marshall said it was, and some missed their families. Daughters, wives, and mothers were pretty much still a thing. But the reason why they weren't sent inside... I will spare my dear reader from the horrors these women were suffering from. Enough said, 'aight'?

They kept talking, and I let them. I also did a head count. Forty-three people, one more than the magical number. When I had the opportunity, I added numbers to the rooms in shiny polished steel right by the entrance corridors. I also created circular tunnels going from one set of rooms to the next but kept the walls separating these tunnels to the access corridors closed. I didn't want people to spread but eventually, I would need to move them to another room to let the plants in this one grow. I would also have to go up there and cast Plant Growth on the berry bushes.

More information. Almost everyone earned a sustenance Perk at level 40. It was something related to one of their Classes and required them to do something but it greatly alleviated the need for food. I had that "Third Fork" Perk that did exactly that. Guess I won't be needing my imaginary thinker dining partners to be charitable and put down their forks for me. They were also worried all this greenery would attract Infernali monsters.

The Infernali were drawn to life. Farms were no longer something to be put at the edge of settlements and expand up to the border with the wilderness. Doing that only let the Infernali destroy the fields and gardens, leaving barren land behind. Farms were now in the middle of settlements, with everyone living around serving as a shield against the enchanted greenhouses. There's flying Infernali too and they gave a shit about walls. Food distribution was greatly regulated and controlled by the owners of each settlement. Bread, one Adventurer reminisced, was a delicacy and something only high-level people had the ability to afford.

Money did not exist. People bartered using the magic stones from the Infernali, which were also burnt as fuel for several enchantments. The chips and dust from grinding and cutting the magic stones became the dollars and cents of this new world. Inflation was not a thing. The demand and consumption of more magic stones were always high.

Lord Marshall's expedition was basically funding itself. One Adventurer commented that it was hard to keep the soldiers from pocketing the stones from what they killed if they thought they could get away with it.

Saddened by what I heard, I shifted my focus elsewhere.

 

*


*

 

I needed to get Bad Bet in shape. My new Perk allowed me to fly and carry 100lb of weight along. So my mechanical puppet must be that lean. I wouldn't cut down the thickness of the armor plates though it was not necessarily a loss if I lost mobility. 10ft per second was a fourth of what Usain Bolt managed in the Olympic games and about seven miles per hour. While I had no doubt everyone above level 30 could run circles around me, I doubt many would follow me if I fled straight up.

The shoulder-mounted SPLINTER launchers were the first to go. Then I reduced the thickness of the head armor, the least important piece of the puppet. Still a bit above the weight limit. I managed to move the gyroscope a bit lower and then shifted the shoulder actuators to the sides, allowing me to remove armor thickness in the upper center torso. I made it so the whole head assembly could be jettisoned and then the hole closed by auxiliary doors that would slide to the middle from over the collarbones.

Finally, I removed some weight from the legs, making them just a little lighter, stopping when Bad Bet reached 99.9lb of weight. Not only I could now levitate my puppet with me but I could also combine ground movement with levitation to achieve better maneuverability. For the next two days, I got used to Bad Bet's new weight while I ran among the second-floor fruit trees, finishing their growth with my new humongous Mana generation. And Green Energy would give me a lot of power if I only...

Oh. That's an idea.

I created a "Core Room" between the first and second floors, surrounded by a hundred feet of Dungeon Wall. I want to see those assholes dig in through this, now. The access was through a shaft from the third floor and I had to fly straight up for five hundred feet to get to my core room. One minute of flight. This room would have bright light at all times and here I created shelf upon shelf of glowing Dungeon "walls".

Then I started growing bonsai trees. Grow, prune, grow, prune, grow, prune, rinse, repeat. When they stopped growing and also didn't start giving Mana, I became very angry.

"Bloody hell, System. These are adult trees. Even my spell agrees with me. Give me my Mana!"

I got no answer. Perhaps because I hadn't shouted that loud, or not at all. There goes my evil plan of having 1,000 trees in the range of my Perk. That would be game-changing, perhaps even game-breaking.

So, instead, I started growing gardening trees. A lot of species could grow to adulthood in a pot but I had one in mind. I remember a Netflix movie I watched with this mansion that had rows upon rows of tall, narrow pines one next to the other. The rocky mountain pine was exactly what I wanted. They could grow on a bed of practically just gravel, and the drier and rockier their substrate, the smaller they grew. I prepared the climate and the substrate using Dungeon Automation and then planted as many as I could in a circle with 30 feet of radius.

I followed their growth with great care, staking and guiding the trunks so they shot straight up. I also tied the branches so they would stay close to the main trunk and keep the tree crown within its own space. Still, each tree required about four feet of radius around the trunk. I only managed to squeeze 230 trees in the required radius but that would grow with my Wisdom score.

When I was sure these trees wouldn't compete too much to the point they would kill each other, I started growing the first one. This time it made sense to grow adult trees as fast as I could as each would give me more MP regeneration. The only problem was that these trees required 20 years of growth to be considered "adult". So each drained four times as much Mana as a red maple.

Still, in for a penny, in for a dime. Or was it the other way around?

 

*


*

 

A new day, and a new use of Daydreaming. I felt the cosmos fill my being and my mind expanded. It was something one could get addicted to. Then it retracted and I found myself a bit sad but still fulfilled.

It is practically impossible to fall into a large black hole. Matter with any angular momentum relative to the black hole's center of mass, even the faintest amount, would get spun around and enter orbit above the event horizon, spinning in the quantum soup of the accretion disk for millions or billions of years before being ejected out into the universe at relativistic speeds. To really fall into a black hole, one needed to go outside its host galaxy, kill any sideways momentum relative to the black hole, and then dive into a straight line, evading all the gravity wells in the way. Good luck trying that.

Whoa. It was as profound as it was useless. Gnu is Not Unix hadn't triggered.

 

*


*

 

I stopped my tree-growing session when Lord Marshall brought another batch of slaves to the edge of my shaft. I had been scanning them regularly with the Beacon but their mages had shielded the sensitive areas, including Lord Marshall's bunker, which was practically a mansion now.

But he brought a bit more than a hundred people, bound in chains. This time, I saw some women and even children among the slaves or prisoners. I started growing the steps leading to another of the six tunnels, one two removed from the chambers currently being occupied. I also opened the side tunnel leading to the new room and closed the one with people inside. I needed to leave a path open leading to my Core at all times or I'd lose the invulnerability Perk affecting the walls.

"Dungeon! Your crimes and murder will not go unpunished!" Lord Marshall shouted. "These people will avenge their loved ones! Go, and bring me the Dungeon Heart."

Dungeon Heart. That sounds like the title of an exciting story. If I only had a website where I could read it.

Since I had children coming, I also added a polished steel handrail to the steps, complete with a mesh to keep the little ones from slipping underneath. Marshall and the guards stared at it. I also commanded Dungeon Automation to not fire on the refugees. I mentally marked every person who was descending as such.

One by one, they were freed, given some old damaged weapon, a spear, a sword, mace, hammer, or dagger, and then ushered into the stairs. The people stared at the shaft with fear, and then at the guards who threatened them with their new and well-maintained weapons. The prisoners walked down the stairs without challenging their captors.

Hindsight was 20/20 as they said. If I knew I would be trapping and hosting people in here forever, I would've let... no. They could fly. I couldn't let people leave the Dungeon and carry information out. Some guards peeked down the shaft. One of them nocked an arrow. I readied myself. He let it fly and I consumed the arrow before it struck the man he aimed at. The guard cursed and the others laughed at him.

Then a volley of a hundred SPLINTER darts struck all of them.

 

> For killing level 27 guardsman, you earned 4 Experience points. You gained 12 Dungeon Mana.

[...] 5 similar messages were suppressed.

 

The other guards backed away from the shaft. the prisoners crouched in utter terror. I absorbed the bodies and their equipment but left the bones. People were always afraid of bones.

"Guards! Keep to your duties!" Marshall shouted. "Half rations to all of you idiots for a week!"

That put a twist of lemon in their moods.

"What the fuck are you doing? Send the rest of the slaves to the Dungeon! I will grant the title of Baron to anyone who brings me the artifact!"

That announcement spread like wildfire. Some guards volunteered to go after the slaves. The first joker that attempted to follow the downtrodden down the stairs earned a single dart to their breastplate. Call it a warning shot.

"Back away," Marshall said and walked to the edge. He was daring me to shoot him. I could see in his smug grin. I also knew my SPLINTER launchers would do jack shit to him. If the level sixty adventurers I killed with the wrecking ball was any measure of protection, this guy was as tough as my walls. Which meant I had ways to kill him but not without collateral damage.

He would get his due. Securing my new one-hundred-something guests came first. I left the first few steps there but withdrew the ones after that as the last former slave moved their faint aura away. At least they moved orderly until reaching the tunnel, then had the same reaction as the first group. But this time, Marshall watched all with a raptorial gaze. In more than one sense, I was sure of it, judging by the movement of his magic.

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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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