It took me a long moment to regain my composure after that surprise. I’d have to ask later how she managed to learn English, as there was no way that she had simply learned it by studying dungeons. Dungeons could write, but not speak, and you can’t perfectly reproduce an unknown language verbally without a proper sample.
Shaking my head, I looked back to the rest of the group. “As you all know, I am Dale.” I spoke to clear up any misgivings that might be caused by my form. “I have asked for people to be chosen from each of your races, so that I may be able to communicate through you when the need arises.”
As I watched them nod, I felt a small smile creep onto my lips. “Good. Now, I imagine that most of you have families to return to. Loved ones that will miss you if I keep you here for too long. Or, battles to finish.” I gave a small nod towards the heroc, who simply laughed at that. In order to translate my words to each of them in turn, I had spent a single point in the system before descending, turning my words into a message that entered their minds.
Of course, this would not allow them to speak with each other, but I had an idea for that. “In the future, I would like to ask that everyone studies to learn my language. Doing so will make it possible for you to communicate with one another while you are here.”
For a moment, I saw the maid beaming a proud smile at the realization that she had completed her first task before it was even given to her. “I will have guides for the language delivered to all of you shortly, so that you may more easily learn it.”
“Keeper!” The heroc spoke up, stepping forward. The others looked curiously at him, unable to understand his words. Though, I did catch the brief glare that the kitsune maid sent before she retracted her gaze. “We have no god. How are you to deliver this message to us?”
His concerns were valid, but… “I never said that I would have the gods deliver them.” Though really, I planned for just that. Sorry in advance, Aurivy… “Once we are done here, you need only wait a short time, and the guide will be delivered to you.”
He gave a brief nod at that, seeming to accept the answer. Turning to look at the rest, I smiled slightly. “Now, I give you all a choice. You can return to your people, or you may live in the Sky Citadel.” Just a brief glance from the Admin Room had told me that there were over thirty bedrooms in the Citadel. As well as a communications room.
“If you choose to remain here, there are some things you will need to know. I will not always be present, as I have matters to attend to outside of this world. You will be capable of contacting your people to deliver my messages, but you will not be able to fly the Citadel itself, or use any of its weapons. You will be able to live the most luxurious life, but it will be one of solitude, with only yourself and the others that choose to remain.”
Three people stepped forward immediately. Unsurprisingly, the first was the maid, a resolute look in her eyes. Next, was the human woman, though I could tell that she had more greed than anything else. Even a look at her thoughts told me that she simply wanted to live in the greatest palace, already planning for how to make herself my ‘queen’.
The third was the halfling girl, who had the simplest excited expression of all three. Curious, I looked at her thoughts, and found that she was just excited for the chance to be able to live in a moving fortress, to see places she never knew about before.
“You three wish to remain?” I asked, and they all nodded their heads. Thankfully, nodding still seemed to be a universal way of saying ‘yes’.
“Very well… Then the rest of you may return to your homes.” I spoke, and the golden mist once again surrounded the other seven, whisking them away to where they had originally been pulled from. “As for you three, I will send you back as well. You have half a day to gather whatever belongings you wish to bring with you, and then you will be summoned again.”
Before the three could voice any complaints, Aurivy had likewise sent them back as well, before showing herself once more in her throne. “That seemed like fun!” She called back, looking at me.
“The halfling… is she your incarnation?” I couldn’t help but ask with a tired expression, knowing how mischievous Aurivy could be at times.
“Nope! She just made herself look like me with ki. Just like the milk cow that the humans sent did.” Aurivy shook her head quickly.
“Milk cow…?” I blinked at Aurivy, surprised at the words that she had used.
“Oh, come on! You could tell that they were fake, right?” She asked, a wronged look on her face.
“I… honestly wasn’t even paying attention.” I answered with a shake of my head. Maybe because of the company I kept in the Admin Room, but I had grown far more accustomed to beautiful women than I had been in my previous life.
Yet, my answer seemed to be the correct one as Aurivy put on a happy smile. “Good. But the maid… You have to admit she was cute, right?”
I narrowed my eyes as I looked to her, almost suspecting that the maid was Aurivy’s incarnation. “Is she…?”
“No, Dale.” Aurivy rolled her eyes. “But I did help design the outfit. Way back just after the incarnation system came in and that war was over. Went in and spent a few lives showing them the merits of having servants that could double as bodyguards. Eventually, they took the hint.”
“So… how does she speak English?”
“Oh! That was my doing.” Aurivy said with a grin. “Their last test was also a test for me. I made new dungeons for them to run through, and the prize was a quest book to learn the Keeper’s language!”
I nodded my head briefly, suddenly curious. “What new powers did you get from your domain, since you said that it was a test for yourself as well?”
“Oh, it’s so cool!” Aurivy called back, leaning back in her throne. I could see her arms stretching out to either side of it. “I can possess a dungeon briefly, and while doing so have access to functions that they themselves don’t. I can make monster spawners inside of a dungeon, and even create a few traps that the dungeons normally couldn’t make.”
I was about to ask her for an example, when she began explaining anyways. “Like this one trap that I set up in one of the test dungeons. It was a maze with only a single small room. Saved a lot of space that way. Basically, they had to go through the doors in the correct order, and until they did they would simply be sent right back to the same room.”
Being able to create monster spawners was something I had expected, but I didn’t think she’d be able to go so far with the traps as well. “And there’s no danger to the dungeon core from having you possess it?”
Aurivy went quiet at that, almost long enough to make me worry. “They said it gave them a bit of a headache, or as close to a headache as they can get. But their health didn’t decrease, and they seem to still be doing fine now. So… I guess that there’s no danger?”
If I had to guess, more than likely the possession that Aurivy was talking about would normally shorten the creature’s lifespan… But the dungeons had a unique racial trait that gave them an infinite lifespan, so they were no doubt immune to such an effect. It would only cause them a brief pain, if that were the case.
“I take it you’ve already started experimenting with making new slimes in your original dungeon?” I asked, remembering that she had originally been complaining that she didn’t know how to do that. But now, she had the ability to simply spawn monsters in.
“Oh, yeah! I need to take you to see it again some time! He’s learned so many new things! It turns out that you can trigger special evolutions in some slime races by having them eat a particular monster’s core. I’m still trying to find all the combinations, but so far I’ve found a lot of fun things! Like, there is this one monster. It’s a monkey that lives in the deep mountains of the heroc’s second continent. It has the special ability that lets it throw spikes of metal from its body. I fed one of those to my earth slimes, and the one that ate its core began to change. Now it’s an iron slime that can actually change its body into different items. I think I’m getting really close to creating a mimic!”
I wasn’t sure whether or not she seemed too excited about the idea of creating a living, murderous treasure chest. She probably was… Still, this seemed to be her passion, so there was no point trying to go against it. “Alright. Well, would you like to explore the citadel with me?”
No sooner had I asked that question than I found myself being pulled from the throne, Aurivy holding onto my hand and showing an amount of strength that simply wouldn’t be possible if she weren’t a goddess. Laughing, I followed along. “I’ll take that as a yes.”
As we walked, I sent a message up to Tubrock, asking for information on the rooms as we arrived in them, as well as any secret passages that we might miss. As it turns out… there was at least one secret passage in every room or hallway, usually more than that. Each required one of ten ‘keys’ to open them, the keys being spell diagram components.
That is to say… knowing one key would grant you access to a tenth of the secret passages. Each passage led to a torch-lit hallway that connected to another room. It was only when I learned the eighth key that I saw something strange. Like the other passages, this one simply shimmered slightly when active, allowing myself and a rather eager Aurivy to pass through.
What was strange was that this passage led down. And the entrance was already on the bottom floor. “Ooh, I wonder what he hid down here!” Aurivy asked in anticipation next to me.
I didn’t remember looking at this part of the map, so I myself didn’t know either. However, Tubrock’s deep chuckle echoed in my mind a moment later. That be the key to the ‘secret’ rooms. I made these for you to do certain things while you are descended.
The room that we entered next had a large circular platform emitting a faint white glow. Above the platform hovered three spherical rocks, each carved to look like one of the three worlds that I owned. And in the corners of the room were statues of a certain halfling goddess, causing Aurivy to gasp in surprise.
This be the control room for the citadel’s long distance travel. In order to work, I also had to make it a shrine to the little lass. Just touch anywhere on the three globes, and the Citadel will move.
I quickly filed this under rooms to never show the representatives. Thankfully, the ‘key’ to this room was a third tier spell component, something that is unlikely to be discovered any time soon, let alone used as a key to crack a lock. Still, I was curious, so I studied the three spheres. One was obviously Desbar, as it was far smaller than the others. Another took me a moment to recognize as Earth, which I focused in on. Walking around the platform, I waited until I found the tiniest little dot carved in the ocean beneath the beastkin and elven continents. Reaching up, I pressed my finger against that dot, and instantly felt something change.
“Oh, this is weird!” Aurivy spoke up, shivering slightly. I felt a large portion of my mana and ki suddenly drained from me, and could sense Aurivy’s divine energy activating.
It’s possible to borrow the divine power of a god or goddess under certain circumstances. Tubrock explained. First, you have to be a priest of that god, and be located in one of their shrines. After that, it’s just a question of knowing the proper craftsmanship techniques.
And since I was technically a priest to all of the gods, that seemed to mean that I could use this. And that nobody who wasn’t a priest of Aurivy would be able to… Though, judging by the amount of energy that was suddenly pulled out of me, I doubted that any mortal would be able to handle that level of drain anyways.
The drain only lasted a few moments, before everything seemed to grow still again. Beneath my finger, a small circle had appeared around the island that I had chosen. No doubt the map’s way of saying ‘you are here’.
“Okay… well, let’s keep going, and see what else we can discover before we call the others back.” I muttered under my breath, this time having to be the one to pull Aurivy away from the platform before she could activate it again.