Chapter 17: The Elder’s Summons

I wake up the morning in which Belinda is supposed to return, with a message from Madam Erin.

The elders have chosen you to take part in a meeting held on this day at noon. A representative of the elders will arrive at your dungeon a little before noon to collect you. If you refuse to attend no consequences will be given, however future assistance from the elders might not be readily available.

                                                                                                                                                Dungeon Core #36 Madam Erin

Well hopefully Belinda has returned I can get her to keep an eye on the dungeon while attend the meeting. Although it seems kind of odd, I didn’t know the dungeon cores held meetings. I quickly message Belinda.

“Hey, you make it back to Tobes yet?”

It takes another hour before I receive a message back from her telling me that she in on her way. Once Belinda, Rufus, and Tanya step onto the area outside the cave a message pops up.

Monsters have returned from battle

Battle results:

Monster Rufus has reached max level

Monster Tanya has gained 9 Levels

Monster Belinda (Boss) has gained 9 Levels

Acquried: [Chainmail Dog Armor], 5 Small Healing Potions, 1 Small Magic Stones, 2 Small Magic Stone (Healing Wounds), 1 Small Magic Stone (Fireball),

Losses: Mindy has perished.

4420 Xp gained from external source. 442xp bonus for Belinda (boss) participation, 442xp bonus for xp acquired in another dungeon, 44xp bonus for battle lasting more than 1 week, -221 for attacking neutral dungeon, -44 xp for monster death.

5083 XP total rewarded

Due to Rufus reaching max level you may now summon Attack Dog at any level up to max level, for additional xp cost.

Once Belinda transfers to the core room I move Rufus and Tanya to the empty room down the hall from Thirty-seven.

“So, how did it go?”

Belinda: “Well not as good as I hoped, but we surely where able to bring in some xp right?”

“You did as well as can be expected.”

Belinda: “Thank goodness… I was afraid that after we lost Mindy, and only reaching the 6th floor instead of the goal of the 10th it wasn’t going to be enough.”

“It was actually a bit more than I expected, enough so, that I believe you earned your own room. However it’s going to have to wait till I return.”

Belinda: “Return? Where are you going?”

“I am going to have to ask you to keep an eye on the dungeon, I have to go to some kind of meeting the Elders have put together.”

Belinda: “When you were telling me about dungeons, you didn’t say the elders had meetings.”

“Honestly I didn’t know, I got surprised by the message this morning saying I have to meet with them at noon today.”

Belinda: “Today? Noon is just a few hours away, and I didn’t even get to tell you about my adventure. How long are you going to be gone?”

“They didn’t say, just that they would send someone for me just before noon.”

Belinda: “It’s not fair! I spent almost a month gathering xp, and I even had to ride back to town from the capital with your brothel girls, and now you are leaving.”

“Well surely it won’t take long, and you can tell me all about your trip when I return.”

Belinda: “Then I need to head back to Tobes for a few hours and make sure everything is ok before you leave.”

“Ok, they said someone would be here for me just before noon, so as long as you are back by then I guess its ok.”

Belinda looks upset as she nods, then transfers herself back to the entrance, after a few moments she heads back down the mountain towards Tobes.

After looking at my xp amount after Belinda’s xp is added, I now have enough to add another floor, but not enough to add rooms to it. Plus I don’t really have any monsters on the third floor so I need to focus on that first I guess.

I set 2000xp aside for Belinda to use to create her room, and begin to use the 8000 for monsters. I move the crimson kobold brutes, and elder down to the third floor, and add two new rifts in the old crystal room. I now have 3 crimson kobolds in full-plate armor, one with a halberd, one with sword and shield, and one with a great-sword. There is one crimson kobold with a bow and black leather armor, and a crimson kobold mage with a battle-staff and magician’s robes. I wanted to up the quality of the weapons and armor but even without raising it, I only have enough xp left to replace 2 more of the golems that Listel destroyed.

With just over 2000xp left I close [Menu], and spend the rest of my morning watching a group of adventurers working their way through my dungeon. I curse when the group retreats after clearing the first floor, then head down to Thirty-seven with some food.

“Here you go. I have been summoned to a meeting with the elders, so I don’t know how long I will be gone, but Belinda will make sure you have what you need while I am gone.”

Thirty-seven: “The elders summoned you?”

“Yea, I don’t know what for, but surely it won’t take too long.”

Thirty-seven: “The elders usually meet around this time of year to discuss the dungeon cores that are going to be born in a few months, but they only call the dungeon cores that are going to host one of the training cores. Surely they don’t attend to have you train a dungeon core after only one year.”

“Well I guess I will find out when I get there. Although I don’t know if I am ready for something like that, that’s for sure.”

Thirty-seven: “Your crystal is unique, so even the elder’s curiosity might have gotten the best of them. You might want to be on your guard. Don’t give any information that you don’t have to.”

“Thanks, I will be careful.”

Belinda then sends me a message saying that she has returned, I then part ways with Thirty-seven, and return to the core room.

“Ok, There is only one prisoner right now, and he should be good for another 2 days, but surely I will be back by then, but If I am not then go ahead and release him. Just keep a close eye on the groups that enter, I added some more monsters to the dungeon, but there is 2000xp to use in case of an emergency.”

I cover a few more things with Belinda, and then allow her temporary access to the full [Menu] with no restrictions.

“Ok, they should be here at any moment. If you need anything I should still be able to receive messages, and use the xp sparingly. Any of the xp left when I return is what we are going to use for your room, so the more you have left the more you got to work with remember that.”

After a few more minutes, and questions from Belinda, someone arrives in my dungeon that just doesn’t fit in.

“Oh look its Madam Erin, remember the dungeon core I told you responsible for the tower of the gods? She came to pick me up personally, that’s rather odd. Anyway, I better go be careful ok? Remember my life is in your hands right now.”

Belinda nods showing some determination, and then I head down to meet with Madam Erin.

“Long time, no see, how have you been doing?”

Madam Erin: “Not bad pup, not bad at all. Although I don’t know if I would call 7 months to be a long time.”

“Well for me it’s been most my life.”

Madam Erin laughs then pulls out a piece of caulk, she leads me outside the cave then starts to draw on a large rock. She stops after a few moments looking down at the ground then around.

Madam Erin: “Just where does you dungeon end pup? I can’t use this magic inside your dungeon.”

I lead her down the trail a bit, once she picks out another sizeable boulder she begins writing with the caulk again. She draws a large door frame, but instead of just lines each line is a glyph of some kind. She still manages to complete the door in less than 5 minutes.

Once finished she simply knocks on the stone, and it sinks in around the frame. It then slides sideways into the solid rock revealing a portal much like the ones I seen in her dungeon. Madam Erin then grabs my wrist, stepping into the portal, dragging me along with her.

After the pull on the back of my chest, we arrive in a familiar corridor. It seems to be the same one that I was in for my evaluation. She leads me to the large room where the evaluation was performed, stopping just outside the door, looking me dead in the eye she says.

Madam Erin: “Now this is going to seem rather strange for you, everyone here is going to have so much more experience then you, but don’t let it get to you. You deserve to be here just as much as them. Don’t let any of them give you a hard time. Oh and don’t let slip any information about your dungeon, although if you want to tell me about it now I wouldn’t mind hearing about it.” –She says with a wink then we enter the room before I even have a chance to reply.-

The room looks very similar to when my evaluation was held, except the chairs in front are now filled with 2 people I recognize and one rather beautiful older woman who I do not. In the first chair sits dungeon core #1 [Maric], next to him is the woman I do not recognize, and in the last chair sits dungeon core #400 [Dyson].

Madam Erin sends me to go sit over where the teachers where sitting during the evaluation. There is a creature sitting at the table next to me, he looks rather serpent-like.

Madam Erin joins Draco up at the elder seats, and they begin to talk quietly to each other. The other chairs remain empty as the creature next to me speaks.

Creature: “I am dungeon core #2 Greaksss, itssss a pleasssure to meet you.”

“I’m dungeon core #212, I haven’t ever chosen a name but you can call me Two-Twelve.”

Greaks: “Ssssso you are Two-Twelve, many rumorsssss about you for sssssuch a youngling. I heard your crysssstal isssss not of a known element. Issss that true?”

“All I can really say is that my crystal is a polychromatic diamond, other than I can’t really say.”

Greaks: “I Sssssee, very wisssse to be cautiousssss. Good to ssssee a youngling with a good head on hisssss shoulderssss.”

The elder Faron enters the room trailed by a small girl that reminds me a lot of Sarah, although this girl’s face appears much older, and she has small leathery wings sprouting from her back. Faron takes his seat and the girl sits at our table, but ignores us completely.

The next to enter is the elder Lucille, trailing behind her is another dragon-like man however unlike Draco he appears to have far more human-like features. Lucille takes her place with the elders as the other man joins us sitting right next to me.

Dragon-like man: “I heard you would be here, I am dungeon core #245 [Simon]. I believe you have heard of me?”

My face pales a little and I gulp but I manage a normal enough greeting.

“Yes… I am dungeon core #212, you can call me Two-Twelve.”

Simon: “Rather pretty young princess you found yourself. I was surprised to find that the Gowen bloodline had monster blood in their lineage. I don’t really mind you training your little monsters in my dungeon, but be warned if you go past the 20th floor I will retaliate.”

“Sorry.”

Simon: “Like I said not a problem in the first few floors.”

My awkward conversation is luckily ended when the last elder Fredrick enters the room. Behind him walks in a dungeon core I have seen before, dungeon core #790 [Bella] the dungeon that trained Newt. Bella joins us while Fredrick joins the other elders.

Once everyone is seated Draco rises.

Draco: “As many of you are wondering why you are here, let me be the first to say regardless if you sit in one of these chairs.” –He motions to Meric, Dyson, and the other woman.- “Or over there.” –He motions to our group.- “It means you show great strength and wisdom, even among other dungeon cores.”

Draco then sits and Faron rises.

Faron: “As many of you know the elders have been short a member for two years now, and we believe it is time to fill the empty chair.”

Faron sits and Madam Erin picks up where he left off.

Madam Erin: “That is where you three come in.” –Motioning to the Maric group.- “We have decided one of you three will take up Leland’s place as the six member of the elders.

Lucille then takes over for Madam Erin.

Lucille: “The rest of you might be wondering why you are here, well that’s quite simple. The elders know far more about other dungeons then you even know, and as such we each have unique biased opinions of the three before us.

Lastly Fredrick takes over for Lucille.

Fredrick: “So we each have chosen our own core to take our place in the judging. The next birth of new dungeon cores will take place in four months, and the three that will host the new cores are Maric, Laura, and Dyson. Doing things a bit different this time we have decided not to only choose a few of the new cores.

Draco takes over for Fredrick speaking once again.

Draco: “However regardless if one or all three pass, then you five. –Motioning to our group.- “ Will then decide which teacher preformed the best. The one you decide that excelled at the task of training new dungeon cores will become the next elder.”

Madam Erin then takes Draco’s place

Madam Erin: “Any questions?”

Dyson: “Yea I have one. All of your “judges” that you have selected have been trained by one of you five. How are we supposed to think they are any less biased?”

Laura: “I tend to agree with him, as much as it pains me to do so.”

Lucille: “We are choosing a new elder to work with us, and each of us has major reservations against at least one of you. This way it takes us out of the equation.”

Madam Erin: “But if it makes you feel more comfortable about our decisions, which of our judges have you got a problem with?”

Dyson: “Personally I think dungeon core #212 being here is a joke, he isn’t even a year old.”

Madam Erin: “I chose Two-Twelve myself. He may still be young, but has already proven himself during his evaluation. He also has the unique honor of the only dungeon core to bare the number of a fallen elder, so I thought Leland would have wanted his namesake to help choose his successor.”

Maric: “I agree, I believe that is a good idea, as for the others I trust the judgement of the elders and look forward to the day I am standing proudly beside you having proven my worth.”

Laura: “Quit with the endless prattle “pretender”, What about Simon? How can we assume anything he says doesn’t come straight from your bed chamber Lucille?

Lucille: “That was long ago, and hasn’t happened since, but if you like to remove Simon, how about we bring in Llywelyn instead?”

I am not sure who Llywelyn is but Laura’s reaction to his name is almost hostile, as the ladies continue to bicker back and forth I decide to stand, clearing my throat, and speaking.

“If I may speak, I know nothing about most of any of you, but I believe you continued debate is going to cause more biased then anything. Before your objection Laura, I knew nothing of you. Now it’s plain to all of us you have a problem with Lucille, and if you can’t work with her as an elder how are we supposed to choose you.”

Greaks: “My thoughtsssss exactly.”

Laura then calms down, sitting back down.

Madam Erin: -Laughs- “Ha, I knew I made the right decision pup. –She then switches her attention to the three in front of her.-  Regardless of any objections you might have on the matter, this is what we elders have decided, if you want to be part of this group I suggest you get over your petty grievances already.”

Dyson: “I have no objections.”

Maric: “I will prove that I belong the rest of you up there, I have no objections either.”

Laura: “Fine, we will play your little game.”

Draco: “Splendid, now you three are dismissed.”

After Maric, Laura, and Dyson depart the elders address us remaining.

Lucille: “Now, we really would like the five of you to choose the best among the three as a suitable replacement for Leland.”

The small woman with leathery wings speaks for the first time. “What exactly is in it for us? I agreed to come here today, but not this.”

Draco: “We have all decided that you will each receive an imitation crystal, once the new elder has been appointed.”

I am not sure what an imitation crystal is, but the rest of my group seems to get excited, so it must be a worthwhile payment.

The small woman with leathery wings tries to hide her excitement and says. “Very well, I guess I will do it.”

Madam Erin: “Any further questions?”

After no one answers the elders split up leading their representative back into the hallway one at a time. When I am alone with Madam Erin she says.

Madam Erin: “By the unchanging facial expression you had when we mentioned an imitation crystal, I assume that is something you don’t have the knowledge of? Either that or you have gotten really good at deception.”

“Well I have no problem doing this for you, simply because you asked. Besides the way the others acted I felt even if I didn’t know what it was the reward was well worth the task.”

Madam Erin: “Depending on how you use it. It can either be a saving grace, or second dungeon. It essentially functions in every way the same as your original crystal, with the exception you don’t die if it breaks. You can use it to hide your original crystal where humans can’t get to it, or use it to start a dungeon away from your original.”

“That sounds rather convenient, do man dungeons have them?”

Madam Erin: Not many, often by the time you can afford to buy one with xp your dungeon is large enough it is no longer necessary, Draco is the one exception, he uses quite a few of them, building smaller dungeons on the lower ends of the volcano he resides that adventurers explore.”

“Well how much do they cost then?”

Madam Erin: “For you first one it cost one million xp.”

“….for the first?”

Madam Erin: “Yes after you buy the first the cost raises greatly with each one bought.”

“And you guys are going to spend that much just for us helping you out?”

Madam Erin: “Well succession of an elder is something that has never been done before, and we wanted to make it special.”

“Don’t you think with that kind of reward the others in the group will say whatever the elder that choose them tells them too?”

Madam Erin: “Well, you are probably right, but to me it doesn’t matter really which of the three becomes the next elder, I am fine with any of them. But if you want a friendly suggestion, I wouldn’t let Laura’s outburst earlier get to you. The only reason Laura and Lucille don’t get along is because they are both exactly alike.”

“I will keep that in mind”

Madam Erin: “I have also heard you managed to get a copy of the Dungeon Core Information I don’t know how you managed to do that outside of training, but I wouldn’t let Dyson’s information worry you either. He seems like a hard-ass, but all the dungeons he destroyed had it coming in one way or the other, even if death was a little harsh of a punishment.”

“Ok…”

Madam Erin: “Oh and don’t let Maric’s sunny disposition and smiles let you think he is some kind of saint. They didn’t start calling him pretender just because he took the original Maric’s name and dungeon location, remember that.”

“For not caring you sure have a lot of opinions about them.”

Madam Erin: “I am just trying to keep you informed, because I am sure you are the kind to not jump to conclusions about people any way.”

She starts to lead me out of the room then adds.

Madam Erin: “Oh and I never got the chance to congratulate you on your selection for a boss monster. Very wise move if you play your cards right. But be careful if the kingdom is weak and falls other kingdoms might try to take you out just because your dungeon is associated with the Gowen kingdom.”

“Thanks, I will keep that in mind.”

Madam Erin: “Also if you send her my way, I will make sure to put her to the test real well. After all Simon seemed pretty mad that you went in his dungeon.”

“Does everyone know about that? I thought nobody would know…”

Madam Erin: “You would be surprised about how fast information spread between dungeon cores. Oh and one last thing, I heard the hero Listel paid you a visit.”

“That’s right…”

Madam Erin: “I don’t want to sway your decision so I won’t say too much, but just be extra careful around her.”

“Then she is associated with a dungeon, and by her kingdom of choice I would have to guess Laura.”

Madam Erin: “I keep forgetting you have access to a Dungeon Core Information…”

“Speaking of which, do the other cores not have access to one?”

Madam Erin: “It is an item restricted to the elders, and training cores, but when Leland died his copy disappeared, after that we bound them to the dungeon core room so they don’t fall into human hands. Although Leland’s copy is still out there, somewhere.”

“If that is the case I probably know exactly where it is”

Madam Erin: “You found it?”

“Not exactly, I bought mine from [Menu], but when Listel entered my dungeon it looked like she pulled one out of thin air, she used it to determine how many monsters I had left in my dungeon threating to destroy my crystal if I didn’t bring them all out.”

Madam Erin: “it concerns me you were able to buy it, must be some effect left over by having Leland’s number, but I will keep that our little secret as you might of done the elders a great service just now.”

“Is it really that special?”

Madam Erin: “Well like you said she knew exactly the number of monsters you had, how many rooms, floors, traps, what do you think would happen if that kind of information fell into the hands of the adventurer’s guild?”

“I see your point.”

Madam Erin: “Let’s keep the fact that Laura has Leland’s copy a secret. At least until the selection of a new elder is over. This is starting to turn into more fun than I anticipated.”

After talking a bit about Thirty-seven, she begins to ask me question about Belinda, I dance around a few questions answering only things that should be obvious. Keeping things like her race change a secret, because by the way Thirty-seven responded to it, which should be impossible.

Madam Erin pats me on the back with a wide sly smile when I shut down a few of her questions, and she changes the subject, as we walk through the hallway. When we finally part ways she sends me though a portal and I end up standing in front of the large rock I left at.

The portal fades after I pass through and then even the chalk marks disappear. Once I reach the dungeon I head to the core room and find Belinda lying on my bed holding her head.

Belinda: “I am so glad you are back…”

“What happened?”

Checking though the screens I find the first floor and even the second floor is completely empty.

Belinda: “It was a nightmare, I don’t know how you do it so easily.”

“What do you mean?”

Belinda: “Trying to control that many kobolds at once, I don’t see how you do it. I had a group of adventurers come though, and by their power level they seemed far weaker than some of the groups I have seen come up here, but they were just killing kobold left and right.”

“Well it looks like we lost the prisoner, but you seem to have at least held them back.”

Belinda: “Only by sheer luck. Once they armed the prisoner, and headed into the third floor I sent all 4 golems, Rufus, Tanya, and the kobolds at them. Luckily one of the golems where able to block them from being able to exiting, after they seen Tanya and Rufus I couldn’t very well let them go. You know I didn’t become your boss monster to kill adventurers.”

“Well it’s just the nature of it, adventurers come in here most of the time with the grand dream of wanting to kill us, so why is killing them before they get the chance much different?”

Belinda: “I know… It’s just… I know… How did things go on your end?”

“I am not entirely sure. Everything seems too good to be true, so I am going to wait till I actually see it, before I start to celebrate.”

Belinda: “What do you mean?”

“Well remember how I told you my number is a replacement for one of the dungeon core elders? Well they have decided to fill the empty spot, and want me to be one of 5 to judge who becomes the next elder.”

Belinda: “Oh, that sounds fun.”

“The problem is the candidates we have to choose from… One is Dyson, yes the Dyson, another is Maric, he is the first dungeon in the second generation. He seems to be a good man, but Madam Erin told me to be careful of him. Then the third is Laura.”

Belinda: “Who is Laura?”

“Apparently the king of Southern Merretta has made a deal with her, and he appears to be her primary boss monster, according to Dungeon Core Information. Listel is also one of her secondary boss monsters from what I learned at the meeting today.”

Belinda: “You can have more than one boss monster?”

“Technically you can have as many as you want as long as you find them and pay double their cost in xp, but summoning your own you can only do a few times. The more worrisome part is that as easy as Listel walked through our dungeon, the king of Southern Merretta must be stronger to be her primary…”

Belinda: “What are you going to do then?”

“For now I just have to go with it, the reward for participating is enough that any dungeon core would jump at the opportunity, so I guess I should consider myself lucky Madam Erin choose me.”

I continue on to tell Belinda about the imitation crystal, and when she asks me what I plan to do with it I tell her it’s a secret, at least for now.

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