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A note from MDW

This shout goes to my dear friend Bard, who's weaving a marvelous tale. Go check it out and tell him I sent you.

Enthadar: The Legendary Planet

by TheRottingBard

 


 

Welcome to Enthadar; The Legendary Planet, protected by those heralded as Champions of the Light, a prestigious position that gives them access to untapped magic and the ability to teleport across the globe through Iron Waystones. They explore the world, making their way through uncharted waters, as they combat the forces of The Great Darkness, a group bent on the destruction of the world. Erevan Burkwood, The Siege Mage, joins the Champions as one of their own and hunts his enemies with ballista, black powder fire arms, and telekinetic powers.  

People-watching was becoming one of my hobbies. That and gardening. Damn aliens. The four rooms on the third set became cramped with a hundred people. I thought for a while to open the way to another path but something was itching in my Domain.

I let the former slaves to their own devices and checked. It was in the shaft, and... there. A spot my perception skipped over, like two North pole magnets pushing each other apart. Something was there, on the shaft wall, and it was forcing me to ignore that space. It was like the blind spot of your eye, which you would not know exists until you did that weird 'two dots on a sheet of paper' experiment. It was moving slowly. I let it move away from the tunnels with people, down the shaft. I had a mile to work with.

Oh, well. If I couldn't perceive the spot directly, I could certainly perceive the area around it. I focused and concentrated on my Materialization. Then I wrapped that spot in a mesh of steel, all at once.

A person with a lizard tail, clad in black appeared. "Curses! The Dungeon detected me!"

Then I dropped ten pounds of TNT on a basket on top of the mesh. The lizard-person's head snapped immediately to stare at the explosives. "Wait, Dungeon!"

I didn't wait. I installed another much thicker mesh above and below his general area, a hundred and fifty feet away. Then I exploded the TNT by pressing a button on the detonator.

BOOM.

When I didn't get a kill notification, I noticed the lizard person was fine, but now missed a tail. Did they drop the tail to evade the damage? The mesh trapping him was destroyed and ashes of the tail dropped down with some tail bones clattering on the mesh below.

"Don't kill me! Marshall forced me to..."

I detached the section of wall he was stuck to. He fell like a cartoon, the wall slowly rotating to put him below it. Until it hit the mesh below. It reminded me of one of those vegetable dicers that had a metal grate and a lever and created perfect cubes.

 

> For killing level 57 infiltrator, you gained 853 Experience Points. You gained 69 Dungeon Mana.

 

The people in the shelters shook with the explosion but they were too far away to be affected by it. It generated very little soot either because of the high oxygen concentration. Despite popular belief, the atmosphere in the Dungeon didn't ignite. Pure oxygen doesn't, it requires fuel.

But that was concerning. People level fifty-seven could evade my perception. I needed to pay closer attention to my Domain, to see if I had any of those weird spots, and I needed to do a scan of my whole Dungeon. All the gimmicks I planned to make myself unreachable would become useless if I didn't know where each intruder was at all times.

No, it seemed I didn't have any other infiltrators inside my Dungeon. I was about to say myself. I wasn't the Dungeon, I was the discarded, half-eaten apple core that became a Dungeon Core. The Dungeon was just a construct I created to defend myself and give me more Dungeon Mana to work with. The shell of a hermit crab. Was the crab vulnerable without the shell? Definitely.

But would I discard this place and run away if it would benefit me? You can bet on that.

 

*


*

 

A few days passed. I remembered to use Daydream again. Earth became nothing as the galaxies danced and energy flowed. Nebula the size of whole universes flared with a thousand elemental discharges. As I stared at a particular piece of the universe, I saw a dragon floating at the edge of the milky way. It was going at ten thousand kilometers per second (3% of C) but still looked like it was lazily floating. She.

"Greetings," the dragon Goddess said.

"Greetings," I tried to answer. "I seek wisdom," I pleaded.

"Never let pride get the best of you," she counseled. "I did, and look what became of me. If there's a solution that relies on cooperation, take it."

The awareness receded. I was back in my insignificant shell. I also crystallized another point of base Dungeon Mana. I was left with the feeling that that dragon was drifting for a long time and it would take a long time still for her to find a place to call home. Her advice felt more like something she had to convince herself of than a nugget of wisdom for me but I would take it nonetheless.

 

*


*

 

Marshall decided to dump the debris and trash and even the excrement generated by his camp in my Dungeon. I wouldn't say no to free Mana and they even threw some corpses in as well.

No new batch of prisoners in sight but their camp was slowly (as compared to my own building speed) transforming into a walled settlement. The areas blocked by wards were increasing but I could sense more and more people coming in through a trade route.

I created small shafts eighteen inches in diameter for me to ascend and descend. They were connected only to the lowest level at all times to stick to the rules. These shafts had the same wall thickness as my "cultivation chamber", the one with the mountain pine trees. Which was still a work in progress.

But that allowed me to bring fresh fruit from the orchard on the second floor to the people above. I stored this fruit in baskets next to angled chutes, ready to be dispensed. The baskets had little metal wheels on the bottom, which would be important later. But first, I had something I needed to do.

A sign appeared on the wall of the intersection where the first batch of refugees housed themselves. I named my Dungeon too, a homage to my origins if you swapped the start of the words, trimmed the result to make sense, then added a preposition [1]. I also changed the lighting pattern to dim the rooms to a mere twilight and shone a bright focus on the shiny metal letters.

<The esteemed Garfield Babbage Dungeon welcomes you. Please stay away from this sign.>

People gathered around. "What is this? How could the Dungeon speak to us?"

<I am a person just like you. In a different shape. I think and feel. I also have no love for that Marshall guy. Do not approach this sign.>

That drew some laughter. "What happens if I approach this sign?" Someone said and tried to approach. His aura stopped me from changing the letters. I did what I could. I killed the lights.

"Dumbass! Do not piss off the Dungeon!" Someone slapped the guy. Despite it being dark, I could still perceive perfectly. I could even taste the sweat and filth in some of their bodies. It seemed some of the refugees were strong hygiene disbelievers. But they quickly calmed themselves. Some even mumbled words of apology.

After that, I created an actual sign a few yards down the tunnel and put a light only there.

<You were sacrifices. I do not wish you harm. But there are rules you must follow if you want to live here. Going back to the surface is not an option.>

"We have families up there!"

<I am aware of that. But do you really want to go back to the claws of that Marshall guy? He will send you back down here or just kill you. Let's be honest, he doesn't have food for everyone. But I do.>

"Then feed us!" Another man demanded.

<I will feed you. Once you agree to the rules. These rules are non-negotiable. I won't murder any of you but you will remain here, in these rooms. Compared to what is above, I have a paradise for you.>

Dissent started building. They were trapped and tense. Despite my best efforts to grow herbs from afar, they were basically grazing the grass recently. I needed to get them down to the orchard level at least. Probably build a fourth floor for these guys.

"Let's hear it out." One of them used some social magic and calmed the others down.

I wrote these rules on the wall.

 

  1. Those who enter this Dungeon shall never leave. No matter the circumstances.
  2. Those who disobey these rules shall die a fitting death.
  3. Garfield Babbage reserves the right to change these rules.
  4. Those who obey these rules shall receive shelter and food in adequate amounts. They shall be considered guests and will be free of harm from the Dungeon.
  5. Guests shall not harm the Dungeon, nor Garfield Babbage or his agents.
  6. Guests shall not use violence against one another.
  7. Guests must not attempt to communicate with the outside world.
  8. Guests shall share their Status screen with Garfield Babbage.
  9. Guests must keep themselves clean and presentable.

 

I stopped at nine rules for obvious reasons. I would not develop a god complex.

"How the hell will we share our Status screen?" One of them asked.

"Clean? What am I going to do, take a bath? Another chortled.

"Give us food!" Some of them demanded.

<First, you must agree to the rules and comply with them. And yes, that means washing yourselves.>

I connected the fourth room which was currently empty with a hall with doors that led to fifty stalls after a short corridor. A large towel hung from a hook in the middle of the corridor. Each stall had a hot water shower, a bar of soap, and a clean rag. Next to the shower, I had a chute that led to a chamber along with all the chutes, for disposal.

<Follow the yellow line on the roof. Each of you shall enter a stall, remove all your belongings and toss them in the chute. Then, thoroughly wash your body. You will be given new clothing and tools afterward.>

Some of them tried to protest but they were peer pressured into obeying. The men all filed into the stalls and I locked the doors after them. Though some refused to strip, most mellowed out once they heard the moans of pleasure from a hot water shower, probably the first they ever had.

 

*


*

 

Then I had a problem. Out of the forty-three men, twelve refused to take the shower. The ones who I considered clean enough were allowed to leave the stall and found new clothes and shoes neatly folded by the door.

were led to a military mess hall with steel tables and benches affixed to the ground. On the far wall, a counter with rails awaited the products to be dispensed. As the first ones entered, they were met with yet another sign.

<Please behave and share everything with everyone. There's plenty of food to be had, so no hoarding.>

"Food!" One of them shouted in excitement.

I dropped a few baskets down the chutes. A little trapdoor opened and the basket rolled on the rails, stopping at the end of the counter.

"What is that?"

"I think I know. Is this fruit?"

Some men recognized the word and scrambled to get to the basket. One of them punched a fellow guest and was immediately shot with a single SPLINTER dart.

 

> For killing level 12 worker, you gained 4 Experience points. You gained 2 Dungeon Mana.

 

Damn. I would have bile in my throat if I had the proper organs.

The man gargled and fell forward. Everyone but three people stopped. The ones who didn't start gobbling the fruits.

"Respect the rules," the charismatic one with social magic said. "Now, let's eat."

I dropped another basket and wrote on the far wall. <Stay away from the body. I'm going to clean it up.> Once it was available, I absorbed the corpse, earning another 2 Dungeon Mana for my troubles.

They ate in silence. I dropped another three baskets of fruit and the sweet flesh of my brethren quickly lightened the mood. Thirty men finished ten baskets of fruit, almost a hundred pounds of produce. They ate it all. Rinds, cores, seeds, some chewed even on the stems.

Then they wept. Some mumbled a woman's name with pained hearts, and others cried out of sheer joy.

 


[1] Not a hard riddle by any means. I'll reveal the solution in a chapter note tomorrow if nobody figures it out in the comments.

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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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