Another two months, another level almost completely kill-free. As the frenzy for the "spineless Spinehounds" died down and most rich kids had a pet rabbit or a dozen, the ecosystem of the first floor bloomed and the wolves started farming me some decent Exp. I tried throwing mice into the equation but they were too small to give any Exp. Larger rats were also a no-no as people really disliked Blistermice or anything related to them. Which was a good thing to know if I ever wanted to scare the shit out of the people of this city.
But this was level sixty. It came with a Perk for each one of my Classes.
> You gained a level! You gained +10 Intelligence, +8 Wisdom, +10 Willpower, +6 Clarity, and +7 Hardness. You have 10 Attribute Points.
> You learned the Domain Multimeter Perk. You can measure circuit voltage and current with your Domain. This Perk does not work in areas under the influence of another creature's aura.
> You learned the Sharp Shrapnel Perk. Explosions you cause send a shower of sharp shredded materials, Increasing AOE and damage by 20%. This extra damage is mitigated by physical armor.
> You learned the Transpilation Perk: You can rewrite software to another programming language 300% faster but with 50% more incidental, unintentional bugs.
> You learned the Light Woods DLC: You can now spawn creatures who live in lightly wooded areas adjacent to plains biomes.
Marshall asked for another farm bunker for the trees. I obliged and his mages were now sweating their MP regeneration to keep the trees growing. Even with my Perks tripling the growth rate – investing a point of DM in each tree was trivial with floor 12 coming online – they still needed to invest five to six years of growth to get mature trees.
Floor twelve was all about prowling wolves. Two square miles of rocky hills, sparse trees, grass to stay in the plains theme, lots of places for rabbits to breed, and also lots of wolves to eat said rabbits and farm me Experience. The wolves would be cramped for territory but I figured that if they had enough food, they wouldn't fight each other. I also discovered I could despawn animals I created but the natural-born ones were immune to my whims.
One day, I noticed the camel-horse outriders / monster cowboys rushing into the city. They rode straight into Marshall's castle and then vanished behind the warded doors. I paid it little mind, focusing my coding chimpanzee squads. To keep them working around the clock, I spawned another ninety, teams blue and yellow, and gave them six-hour work schedules. While I now had workers around the clock, the working conditions of my monkeys were better than 99% of the people in this world.
I used Telekinetic Button Pusher and powered up the LCD monitor. The picture of an apple core with deep bites on both sides and shriveled brown skin appeared. I would do the RCA Indian but didn't have any. With brightness, contrast, horizontal and vertical alignments, skew, and proportions, the monitor did everything it should. I shed a salty tear. Replicated, of course.
> Your training and knowledge improved your Computer Sciences Skill to rank V. — You are better at splitting complex tasks. Lower their complexity by 5% per rank.
The next day, the outriders galloped out of town with the same haste in which they arrived.
"DUNGEON! Dungeon!" Marshall walked out of his small palace shouting at the top of his lungs.
<WHAT?> I drew on the walls, taking the time to study the man's face. He seemed worried. Afraid, even. I was worried about what could put this man on his back foot.
"How many people can you host in the underground?" He asked right out of the left field.
<On a whim?>
"Yes. Pretty much."
<About twice as many people as the population of this city.>
He frowned. "How many more can you host if you have a week to prepare?"
Bloody hell. What the fuck was going on? I was baffled. <What is going on?>
"We need privacy."
I broke the ground and erected four sets of triple mirrors boxing him in, and leaving the top open. The mirrors were facing outward so he was staring at their back. I pushed the mirrors up for a hundred feet, forming a weird tower. Then I infused them to become "dungeon walls" and wrote in the back. The mirrors were three sheets so the middle one would bounce back the light from the writing.
<There we go. A hundred feet up might be enough to keep sound from escaping.>
"Did you just trap me?" He asked with a smirk.
<I could've killed you anytime I wanted but I didn't want to needlessly slaughter the civilians you brought with you.>
"Oh. I could've used that," he tapped his chin. "Too late now."
<Reluctance, not refusal. I would murder a million people if it was the only choice between that and my freedom.>
"I'll keep that in mind," he returned to his business face. "There's a lot of refugees coming our way. We're talking about twenty thousand people or more."
<Stop skirting around the subject and tell me what is going on!>
He took a deep breath. "Our prosperous settlement has awakened the Jabberwock."
<THE WHAT?> I wrote in all caps.
"Jabberwock. A real World Boss Infernale monster. It is confirmed to have a Level above 200, his rarity is probably (Legendary) or Patriarch forbids, (Mythic). It woke up and is gobbling up every settlement between there and here. Its only saving grace is that it moves slowly. Slower than a sexagenarian with a crippled leg. But nobody that has ever allowed it to reach themselves survived."
<And it is confirmed to be coming this way.>
"Yes. In fact, we expect to see a rise in Infernali activity in the next months. My outriders report that our blooming metropolis is drawing in every Infernali in the region. Probably the continent. There's too much life here."
<What are you going to do? Fight it?>
"Hell, no. Culling one unlucky madman who was too dumb for his own good is one thing. That? We could throw thousands of warriors and it would only feed the monster. Actually, that's how we got it to sleep last time, seventeen years ago. We sacrificed whole armies to sate its hunger. A hundred thousand warriors and soldiers. It... wasn't pretty." He looked truly ashamed.
<Are you packing up and running?>
"I was hoping you would deal with it."
"You can create those animals. Can't you get a few thousand and send them to be eaten by the Jabberwock?"
<I don't know. They need to stay inside my Dungeon to remain under my control. Who named that thing?>
"I know 'Jabberwock' is a fictional monster from a book. Someone just named it that and the name stuck." Marshall shrugged.
<Let's assume I have a way of feeding the monster to the point it falls asleep. What happens next?>
"It sleeps? Hopefully for another seventeen years?"
<We need more than guesses. Will it at least go back to its home to sleep?>
"No. It slept right at the site of the last battle for seventeen years."
<So it would sleep right next to your city.>
"Our city." Marshall beamed his best winning smile but I could see the light of desperation in his eye.
<Don't say it if you don't mean it. Your Charisma doesn't work on me.>
"My city and your dungeon, partner," he put emphasis on the last word.
<Assuming I feed it to the point of going back to sleep, it will stay here? Until it wakes up and then what?>
"We would move out, of course. This place is doomed either way."
<I'm not exactly mobile.>
Marshall became serious. "You are. Your Dungeon, not so much, I reckon. But I know you can rebuild elsewhere. I could carry you with me."
<No, thank you. I am pretty capable of moving around by myself. How long do we have?>
"By the estimates of my outriders and reports from the refugee caravan, six months."
I could rebuild my whole Dungeon elsewhere in six months. There was only one problem. <If we run, will it stop?>
He frowned, "Nope. What are your thoughts regarding the life of a nomad?"
<How many Dungeons have you seen?>
"About a dozen. But you are the first one to talk back and not do the murder everyone in sight thing."
<Has anyone ever managed to wound the Jabberwock?>
The man made a pause. I saw the pain on his face, a mix of miss and longing. Shame. "Yes. My father. He was the world's strongest fencer. His Level was more than 250 when he fought the Jabberwock. Severed one of its tentacles. Moments later he was caught and eaten. Then the beast ate its own tentacle. We capitalized on the outrage and commanded the troops to do the last charge. The commanders remained behind." He ground his teeth. "If you kill this beast, I'll amend our contract to make me your servant and remove my termination rights."
<Hell. No, thank you. I'd rather work with my monkeys.>
He let out a dry chuckle. "Six months, Dungeon. Hell will descend upon this land in six months."
<I'll think about what I can do.>
"You do that. I'll think – and reminisce – a lot on my side too. Hey, can I keep the mirrors?"
"Look, if you manage to kill that, we'll be the richest people in the world. That beast's magic stone should be bigger than my castle and there are so many bounties on the monster's life people will need thousands of wagons to carry that many magic stones."
<You are exaggerating.>
"Yes for the bounties. Most bastards out there don't put their money where their mouths are."
He activated a ring and flew up and out of the mirror tower. Later, some of his Earth mages came to cut the mirrors and transport the panels for processing.
Marshall wasn't joking. A week later, a massive caravan showed up on the horizon. It had so many people, draft beasts, and wagons it created a dust cloud that covered that side of the sky. Twelve, twenty wagons abreast and never-ending, the procession of refugees had much more than twenty thousand people. It seemed that the whole population of the wastes came toward us. Hundreds of Infernali rushed from both sides but they had their own riders who were expert horseback marksmen. Horse-camel, I mean.
I extended a probe one mile toward the refugee caravan, thirteen miles away from my shaft, and then raised a pillar two thousand feet into the air. The top of the stone spire swayed in the wind even though it was reinforced by my Dungeon powers. From that vantage point, I cast my beacon. It gave me fuck all better visibility but it let me reach another three thousand feet into the air, a mile from the surface. From there, I should be seeing ninety-five miles in all directions. I found the end of the caravan but no sign of the alleged world-ending monster.
Perhaps I've been too modest. I thickened the pillar for a whole hour until it was two hundred feet wide. I hollowed it in the middle because while I had more DM than I could work with, Substance became the next bottleneck. Then I went up. A mile. I widened the base of the tower to three hundred feet and thickened the walls to twenty feet. Two miles. A pause to reinforce the inner structure with support beams. Three miles. I tapered it down in the last mile and reached the limit only because Engineering had ranked up in the process of creating this tower.
> Your training and knowledge improved your Engineering Skill to rank VII. Your massive structures are 10% more stable per rank.
At this height, the theoretical horizon should be about 150 miles away. I looked far in the distance. To the south, I saw an ocean and a familiar coastline. I was somewhere in the center of the USA though I couldn't pinpoint the exact city. My knowledge of geography had faded during the time I was rotting in that landfill. That was not important.
Focusing on the direction the refugees were running away from, I saw it. The beast was so massive it towered above the horizon. I could see only a writhing mass of flesh. I used Gadget Kitbashing to create a telescope. When I attempted to point it at the monster, the strong winds pulled it down. The telescope fell down and broke. The tube cracked open and dropped the lens, which was swept by the heavy winds. With a big sigh (I don't breathe!), I spent time designing and Replicate a proper telescope. And a proper shelter with a windbreak for the contraption.
The monster was beyond massive. A true eldritch horror. I had no reference near it to judge its size but the mere fact it was towering over the horizon was a hint. Its size was an impossibility. How could it not be crushed by its own weight? Tentacles span hundreds maybe thousands of feet. Three necks ending in dragon heads, because why the fuck not? I couldn't tell what was its body and what was a tentacle, only that the three heads had their eyes set on the refugee caravan's direction. Or perhaps straight back at me.
I could only imagine how many DM points that beast's magic stone was worth. And all that money was coming straight for us.
Marshall was correct. That was a true World Boss.
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.