A swarm of 20 or so giant spiders skittered through the tunnels of the Yellow Zone. This part of the dungeon was a cave system not unlike the Green Zone, but its residents were mostly of the arachnid or insectoid persuasion.
The dungeon core is in danger.
Such a message was relayed to all monsters that belonged to this place and the oddity in the dungeon’s thick mana was guiding them to the object they were programmed to protect. They were certain they were getting close to the source of the distress signal, but less certain about the odd rumbling that could be felt through the walls and floors of this passage. They were approaching a bend in the tunnel when the ones in front spotted the tell-tale red glow of the dungeon core being nearby. And judging from how it increased in intensity with every flash, it was moving towards them.
However, the first thing to pop out of the corner was a wooden box with eight imitation spider legs of its own. They were oddly similar, yet also quite different from the actual spider legs of these monsters. And out of the opened lid streamed out three tentacles, each gripping onto a shiny dagger, though one seemed to be different from the other two.
Not that any of them had time to appreciate such things. The arachno-chest bore down on them at great speed, easily surpassing their own, and they immediately recognized it as an invader - an enemy. And the feeling was proved to be pretty much mutual when it started stabbing and slashing at them as the Mimic tore a path right through the middle of them.
Proficiency level increased. Dagger Mastery is now Level 3. STR +1. DEX +3.
6 of the monsters were gutted in an instant as the chest kept on running. A few of the simple beasts might have wondered where it was off to in such a hurry, but such idle thoughts were beyond them. They would have gotten their answer almost immediately though.
A giant, crystal ball at least 2 meters in diameter rolled out from the tunnel ahead of them. It seemed to be so large that it barely fit in this narrow tunnel. There was a loud impact right before it unnaturally changed course. It was just enough to make it ricochet off the cave wall at speed and roll towards the slightly stunned spiders without losing much speed.
It then rolled over them and mercilessly turned them into paste. As for the Mimic, it was in too much of a rush to worry about some spiders. The dungeon core behind it had been rapidly growing in size and weight over the last 5 or so minutes. If the orb kept increasing in size like this, then it would undoubtedly get stuck in these narrow tunnels and prevent any attempt at bringing it outside the dungeon. Which, incidentally, was exactly what the greedy chest was trying to do.
It was a simple solution, really. Since the core fed off the mana in the dungeon’s air, all that needed to be done was to remove it from the dungeon entirely. With its energy source gone, it would surely stop growing and maybe return to a more manageable size. Of course, it had to kick itself and its familiars into high gear if it hoped to do such a thing.
“Take a left at the next fork, then immediately a right!” shouted Xera from behind the core.
“Whatever you say!” replied Kora from in between Xera’s soft thighs.
The fiend was currently busy pushing and guiding the boulder-like crystal through the winding paths at less-than-safe speeds while the succubus sat on her shoulders and acted as the navigator. This posture was humiliating for both of them, but they had no say in the matter since it was a direct order. It was mostly Xera’s fault anyway. She had trouble keeping up with them due to her low physical Attributes, not to mention she was the only one who could be trusted with reading the map. And the one who came up with this ridiculous yet surprisingly effective solution was none other than their master.
“Get ready!” shouted Xera again while peeking over the top of the gigantic core. Kora pulled back her right arms in response.
Kora’s powerful double punch knocked the nearly 400 kilogram core off-course and steered it down the path her co-contractor had indicated. She then did the same with her left arms and knocked it down the tunnel on the right at the next junction. All without once breaking out of her run. Xera on the other hand had to cling onto her with all her strength just to avoid being thrown off. It’s a good thing the fiend’s horns were there for her to grip onto.
“You think you can be a bit more gentle down there?”
“We can trade places if you think you can do a better job at pushing this thing!”
“That’s what I thought, bubble-boobs!”
The Mimic was in front mostly due to self interest. It was a precaution in case the ever-growing core got stuck in the passages. If that were to happen, then the Mimic could at least find its way out of the dungeon rather than be sealed inside again. Well, it also got some valuable Skill XP along the way so it really seemed like the best way of doing things. It felt bad about having to abandon its little ‘festival,’ but it really had no other choice in the matter.
“To the left!”
“No, MY left!”
“Wha-? We have the same left, you stupid cunt! DOORYA!”
At first it thought the seemingly endless onslaught of monsters was a really good thing - like pigs walking into the slaughterhouse all on their own. But it underestimated just how many monsters were in this dungeon. Regardless of how strong they were, the Warlock and its two familiars still needed time to rest and replenish their HP and MP. Kora had already succumbed to the multiple injuries and died once, dropping the core she was still hanging onto in the process. It rolled around on the ground near the Mimic. That’s when the chest noticed that its prize had gotten significantly bigger than it had before.
“Didn’t we miss our turn-off just now?”
“No that was only the second junction, we want the third one! Are your eyes just for decoration?!”
“I can’t see over this fucking ball you know!”
That’s when it decided to retreat immediately. Dragging the core along was really slowing them down, though. It had to create an opening using the remainder of Xera’s MP in order to re-summon Kora. With the demonic forklift back online, they were able to move at a much faster pace.
“Left on the crossroads up ahead! It’s a hard turn so watch it!”
Kora once again adjusted the course of the ball with a paired punch. It bounced off the cave wall and into the right tunnel, but it lost more momentum than expected. Something that was easily rectified by the fiend’s multiple arms pushing it along. Rolling it like this was a pretty fast way of moving it along, though it was hard to control. She could technically deadlift this thing, but didn’t have the headroom to do that once it got to about 160 centimeters in diameter.
“Master, we’re in the Green Zone now!” reported Xera over the thought link while struggling to read the map in front of her face. “We should be out of the dungeon shortly!”
“Good,” came the response from the box in front.
“Are you sure we can’t just leave this thing behind and run?” she asked for the upteempth time.
“I told you, we’re bringing the shiny with us! Now shut up and steer!”
That’s right, it still wanted the shiny thing. There was more to it than that, though.
Give it up and become a corpse already, loser!
The entity on the other side of those messages kept taunting and insulting the Mimic ever since the core had started flashing. Whoever or whatever that thing was, it was obviously connected to this dungeon in some form. Was it the dungeon itself? Or an overseer of sorts? Could it be some malignant being with a secret agenda?
“Did you just wet yourself up there?!”
“Just your imagination, dearie!”
Details like its real identity didn’t matter though. The important thing was that the malicious box had already shifted the feelings of resentment it had towards its birthplace onto this mysterious presence and was looking forward to getting some ‘payback.’ And since the core was apparently nigh-indestructible, taking it out of its dungeon seemed like the best way of doing just that. This whole expedition had boiled down to it trying to piss off someone it didn’t even know for no good reason.
Mimics, as it turned out, could really hold a grudge. Even if it was woefully misguided.
“Turn right here! After that it’s a straight shot until we’re out of this place!”
“I’ll go further ahead. Keep going until you’re out of this cave!”
“Yes, Master!” replied the two demonesses in unison. One might actually get the wrong idea they were getting along if they saw them like this.
The speedy arachno-chest picked up the pace even more and, after several seconds of dashing, burst out from the cave and into the wide cavern that served as the entrance to the Litigar Dungeon Complex. It immediately noticed a group of adventurers, maybe 5 or 6 of them, all huddled around the alabaster-like pillar that served as this dungeon’s Waystone. They all seemed to be staring wordlessly at the bloodied dwarven waist and legs that had arrived without a torso attached to them.
Well, let’s just say that this particular adventurer’s Portal Key did not quite save them from a mysterious Power Overwhelming-enhanced Shadowbolt. The teleportation effect triggered at the same time as the Spell found its mark, leaving the upper half of the poor bastard splattered on the walls of the dungeon. And since they were all conveniently bunched up and not facing where the Mimic was, it took the opportunity to get the drop on them. It shifted back into its Xera-assisted casting stance and started chanting Dark Explosion.
“Master! The exit-”
It cut off whatever Xera was trying to say and re-focused its attention on the Spell.
Just as it was about to finish, the flashing boulder-sized crystal crashed into the slightly-too-narrow cave exit. Its momentum carried it through the mouth of the cave, breaking off the rocks and stones in its way and making one hell of a racket in the process. The gathered adventurers all turned to face the origin of the noise. That extremely bizarre sight of a giant red ball rolling behind a naked, well-endowed albino beauty made their brains momentarily skip a beat.
“Dark Explosion ~♪!”
Much like the goblins before, all the people gathered there either became red mist or were flung through the air, dying on impact with the walls and ceiling. The dungeon core then smashed into the cavern wall hard, finally coming to a stop. The Mimic quickly retracted its spell-slinging side and went to check on its prize. The extremely hard crystal was partway embedded in the wall, but completely flawless otherwise. Its familiars were a bit further back, having suffered some damage when they burst through that tight opening along with the core.
“Stop wasting time and get my shiny out of there,” it demanded.
“Yes Master!” responded Kora. She seemed to be quite fired up for some reason, which was the polar opposite of the succubus that had fallen off the other demon’s shoulders during the impact. She looked like she had ran a 40 kilometer marathon despite doing none of the physical work.
With the immediate area secured and its minions busy dislodging its prize from the wall, the Mimic finally had a few moments to verify the new Spell it had learned earlier.
Requirements: Level 17 Warlock, INT 60, MNT 80
Cost: 75 MP
Range: 10 Meters
Effect: Increases your target’s STR, AGI, DEX and INT Attributes by 20% for 30 seconds.
Your target will be stunned for 5 seconds once the effect expires or is dispelled.
The stun component of this Spell has no effect on Undead, Demons and Golems.
A significant boost in combat potential followed by an extremely dangerous downside. The Mimic would hesitate to use this on itself, but it was possible to empower its familiars ‘for free’ as it were. It was eager to try it out, but needed to raise its MNT Attribute to 80 before it did that. Otherwise the Spell would backfire and the resulting magical feedback would injure the Caster. It already suffered that pain breaking through the steel grating weeks ago and had no intention of reliving that experience.
There was a loud cracking and rumbling noise as the Mimic finished recalling that painful memory. It seems that Kora had managed to get the ball out of the wall by punching it real hard. If someone were to ask ‘Did she punch the wall or the core?’ the answer would be ‘Yes.’ Smashing things seemed to be her go-to solution for pretty much every problem. Such an approach would normally be questionable at best, but it was hard to argue with results.
“Good,” said the monstrous chest. “We’re almost out, so let’s go!”
“Yes, Master!” they replied in unison once more, although Xera had significantly less pep in her voice. She was currently lamenting over her immediate future where she would most likely be ordered to babysit a gigantic fucking ball for no good reason. Just the thought of a boring assignment like that seemed to be enough to make her depressed.
This was in stark contrast to the Mimic, which was very much looking forward to worshipping the gigantic ball of shiny. And then it walked over the border of the dungeon with its prize in tow. With the link severed, the dungeon no longer flashed with that obnoxious red. The annoying pop-ups had stopped too.
You have left the Litigar Dungeon Complex.
Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Grand Theft Arcana.
All Attributes +10.
Oh right, Perks were a thing.
The box had completely forgotten about them, what with all the running around it had been doing ever since breaking free of this place’s control.
Grand Theft Arcana
Description: It takes a special kind of person to steal a dungeon from a dungeon.
Requirements: Remove a dungeon core from its dungeon’s sphere of influence.
Effects: Provides a permanent boost of +10 to all Attributes every time you accomplish this feat.
Number of pilfered dungeons: 1
It would appear that its selfishness and stubbornness had yielded an unexpected boon. The +10 to all Attributes was tasty without a doubt, but finding out this new way of growing stronger was perhaps even tastier than that. Granted, it had no plans of entering another dungeon, but it might end up doing so anyway in order to take advantage of this Perk. Gaining 5 Levels worth of Attributes was nothing to sneeze at, especially considering how slow Leveling Up had become of late.
Although it seemed that the cocncentrated mass of mana had two more things left to say.
You are now the owner of dungeon core AD-0429-PR.
All functions of dungeon core AD-0429-PR are currently unavailable.
Please establish a dungeon to unlock them.
Dungeon core AD-0429-PR is over maximum MP capacity by 953%!
Catastrophic meltdown will occur in 8 minutes and 19 seconds!