Chapter 19: XP Shortage

I am sitting at one of the tables in the adventurer’s guild surrounded by candle light, across from me sits Two-Twelve. He is happily eating meal I have prepared, and telling me how much he enjoys it. He then softly takes my hand into his leaning forward to whisper in my ear.

“Belinda, wake up! We have a huge problem!”

A dream…Wait what’s Two-Twelve doing in my room. I slowly open my eyes prepared to yell at him, but the look on his face shows that he is worried.

“What’s wrong?

His panic seems just as bad as when we found out the Listel was coming to the dungeon, so I begin to worry as well. He quickly grabs my wrist and transfers us to the core room. I am embarrassed standing in the middle of his room wearing nothing but a thin nightgown, but his face is oblivious right now.

I still feel uncomfortable like this, so I grab the blanket from his bed wrapping myself up in it. He quickly explains the situation, and comes up with a wild idea. I try to reassure him, and tell him I will head down to Tobes and check it out.

Something unexpected happens next, standing in the middle of core room my clothes just vanish. Luckily I am wrapped in the blanket but I still start to panic. Then as quickly as my night gown vanish I am now fully dressed.

I yell at Two-Twelve, for using [Menu] like that, and then after checking and rechecking to make sure the clothes are really there I head to Tobes.

I quickly check at the adventurer’s guild to see if anyone has heard anything about the group that went up to the dungeon yesterday, but nobody knows anything. I decide to use my brother’s adventurer’s ID to ask him if he has heard of this group before, but after a brief time I still haven’t gotten a reply.

Amy and I have been keeping in contact with the same method for a while now as well, so I ask her to check around the capital for me to see if she can turn up anything. I tell adventurers to take some of the town commissions because the dungeon has been reserved.

This however causes quite a stir, because although it’s not unheard of, it’s also never happened here before. By noon the adventurer’s start coming up with all sorts of ideas on their own about the group in the dungeon. They are starting to sound like Two-Twelve…

As most of the adventurer’s begin clearing out after lunch I finally receive a message back from Logan. He tells me that he doesn’t know the group but has heard of them before. They are based out of the town surrounding the Tower of the Gods.

He said there was talk of an odd commission coming out from there about the Ancient Kobold Stronghold, but he doesn’t know many details. Soon later I hear back from Amy and she found out, roughly the same information.

Amy however got more details on the odd commission. Apparently the commission asked for a high C ranked group to enter the Ancient Kobold Stronghold while pretending to be D ranked adventurers.

She goes on to say that the commissions asks for the group to reach the crystal room gathering all the information they can about the dungeon, but it specifically requires the crystal to remain undamaged for the reward to be obtained from the commission.

The other odd part of the commission is that the group does not speak about anything regarding the commission, or of their actual power level while in Tobes or the dungeon. The reward from the commission seems to be a very high sum of gold.

Well the reward is void if they damage the crystal, so that should make Two-Twelve a bit more at ease, but there is still the question of who placed the commission. They seem to know a lot of information about dungeons.

I then message Two-Twelve telling him what I learned.

 

Two-Twelve POV

When Belinda relays the information to me, I get a sneaking suspicion that Madam Erin is behind this. They just know too much information about the dungeon, and even come out of the town surrounding her dungeon.

I decide to confront her with it sending her a message.

“Are you the one responsible for these adventurer’s in my dungeon?”

Madam Erin: “I am not sure what you mean.”

“There is a group of high leveled C rank adventurer’s in my dungeon, that comes from the town outside your tower, with strict instructions that contains more information about my dungeon then they should possibly know.”

Madam Erin: “You sure are a bright little pup. How did you figure it out so fast? What gave them away?”

“The XP they gave when they slept in the dungeon was the dead giveaway about their levels, and after that it was simple as using my information network to find out where they came from.”

Madam Erin: “Gah they should of known better then to stay overnight in the dungeon, a mere oversight on my part. Even still you “information network” means your boss monster right? It should have at least taken 2 weeks, maybe 1 and a half before she heard back from the capital about the commission.”

“I have my ways.”

Madam Erin: “Well not all is lost. You still have to fend them off, and they might not get paid if they hurt you, but your monsters on the other hand won’t be so lucky, so they should still return with some valuable information. Besides I already learned something very valuable. Don’t underestimate your “information network.”

“Well we will just see how much you are able learn.”

Madam Erin: “Oh I am looking forward to it pup.”

I then message Belinda telling her what’s going on.

“But that still leaves a few problems. I can either pull all my non-rift monsters back into the crystal giving them free rain over my third floor, or we can try to defeat them.”

Belinda: “How do you suggest we do that? They are double my level, and I am your strongest.”

“If we don’t do something, my entire dungeon will be thoroughly mapped by adventurers. Even though I have the protection of Gowen kingdom, I don’t like feeling that venerable…”

Belinda: “Yea being so “exposed” like that, and having all your “assets” visible like that, who wouldn’t feel “uncomfortable”.”

“Exactly.”

Belinda: “…Never mind…”

“?”

As the group of adventurers pack up their gear on the second floor I make a quick decision to store the golems, Tanya, and Rufus in the crystal leaving only the one group of crimson kobold brutes, and crimson kobold elder.

I hate to leave just the one group on the third floor but even they will turn into a loss once the group takes them out… I would like to place something, hell, anything on the third floor but I can’t justify throwing xp away.

I decide to spend all but 20xp to add a rift with 4 crimson kobold. Using all the gear in my inventory I switch the monsters equipment around on the third floor and barely manage to equip everyone. I don’t use Garm’s gear just in case the group changes their minds about taking gear.

The crimson brutes and elder are then moved back to the huge room right before the crystal. The only gear I have left in my inventory is the equipment Garm wore, the equipment Korvasta wore, the two minor mana rings, and one more set of superior gear for a mage.

I am still not happy but as the group heads down the stairs I don’t really have much choice. With no diversity to the group in the hallway, the adventurers quickly take them out. At least they are rift monsters…

As they slowly make their way through the hallway and the two side rooms they begin getting restless.

Adventurer: “Everything has checked out from what we heard so far, except for this floor.”

Adventurer 2: “Indeed, the group we fought seemed unorganized compared to the rest, and the last two rooms have been empty, do you think they all fell back to regroup?”

Adventurer 3: “I wouldn’t think so with dungeon monsters, but with these kobold I wouldn’t put it past them.”

Adventurer: “There can’t be much dungeon left from what we heard, maybe it is just running out of monsters to throw at us.”

The mage and one of the other adventurers remain silent as the three continue their speculations. The mage then tells them to quit the chatter before they say something they are not supposed to. They cautiously peek into the grand room.

Adventurer: “The room beyond is huge, I only see 4 kobold though, they seem to be a higher evolved form, but their equipment is still inferior to the last group on the floor above.”

Mage: “Regardless, don’t let you guard down, you never know what a dungeon is planning.”

They carefully enter the room, even though my strongest kobold put up a decent fight, they are simply no match for adventurers of this caliber…

Mage: “I don’t believe any of this floor has been mapped perhaps we should double back and take a detailed record.”

Adventurer 2: “Surely this is the bottom floor, let’s just find the crystal room, and then we can map it on the way back out.”

The mage turns to the one adventurer who hasn’t spoken the entire time. He still doesn’t speak but just nods his head. After another brief rest they prepare to enter my crystal room…

Listel is the only intruder that has made it that far, and I am starting to get really nervous. Even if I hit them with everything I have left I couldn’t stop them even if I wanted to so I feel so powerless.

Once they enter my crystal room one of the adventurers speaks out. “Is this it?”

Mage: “Careful you know that crystals can spawn monsters, so don’t let your guard down.”

Adventurer: “I think if it had anything left it would have shown us by now… Look how small the crystal is, there is nothing “ancient” about this dungeon.”

Mage: “The crystal is however very unusual… I can’t figure out which element it is. The color keeps changing.”

Adventurer 2: “It’s just a crystal, we don’t get paid if it gets damaged, so that means we are done here. Let’s just get out of here now.”

Mage: “Actually I want to study this further. We can set up camp in the room right back there, and I will study the crystal. We can leave first thing in the morning.”

Adventurer 3: “But then all the monsters will have respawned, do we really need to hang around?”

When the adventurer that doesn’t speak nods however the complaints stop. The mage and him remain in the crystal room, while the other three return to the grand room, and begin setting up camp. The three at the camp talk amongst themselves while the mage watches my crystal.

The mage takes out parchment taking down notes, and sketching the crystal. He continues late into the evening all the while the unspoken adventurer just silently watches him. When one of the other three bring them food the adventurer that doesn’t speak eats, but the mage waves him off.

I don’t want to take my eye off of them for even a minute. When Belinda comes in for the evening I catch her up, she seems worried as well but doesn’t say anything.

Belinda takes Thirty-seven some food as I haven’t done it, and even as she returns to tell me she is going to bed, my eyes don’t leave the screen displaying the crystal room. The mage studies the crystal all night long, he approaches the crystal several times making me nervous but he never actually touches it.

When morning rolls around I am still carefully watching the mage. When the other adventurers wake up they begin pressuring the mage to wrap it up so they can go. Eventually the silent adventurer nods in agreement with the rest of the group and the mage is force to pack up.

Adventurer: “Staring at it any longer is not going to help. Anything you can learn from it you should have already been able to work out.”

Mage: “I know, I could probably study it for another week and not learn anything else, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to try.”

Adventurer 2: “There is a big fat commission awaiting us back home, and I don’t want to waste any more time here. Besides I want my old armor back, this cheap stuff is uncomfortable.”

Mage: “Hush, remember don’t talk about that.”

Adventurer: “Well let’s get out of here then and it won’t matter.”

At some point Belinda has joined me in the core room, but I never noticed.

Belinda: “Do you think it’s safe for me to head down to Tobes today?”

“It looks like they are preparing to leave now, so it shouldn’t be a problem. If they return to the adventurer’s guild, you might see if you can press them for any information, but be careful.”

As the group of adventurers begins to set out back towards the surface, Belinda exits the dungeon heading down to Tobes. They continue the same pace they have the entire trip on the way back out, so it is shortly after noon before they finally exit the dungeon.

I use well over half of the xp I acquired from them at midnight, to replace the crimson kobold brutes, and the crimson kobold elder. I pull the other monsters back out of the crystal returning them to their rooms.

Hopefully Belinda can hold off the normal adventurers for one more day, then at least the dungeon will be back on its feet. Even with my dungeon short on monsters at the moment I feel I can relax a little now.

I now notice the fatigue I have built up, but I decide I should at least hold on as long as I can. I then prepare some food for Thirty-seven and take it too her.

“Here I brought you some food.”

Thirty-seven: “More?”

“What do you mean?”

Thirty-seven: “Belinda made sure I had plenty to get me though the day before she left this morning.”

“Oh, yea I was a little distracted.”

Thirty-seven: “Does that mean we are going to live then?”

-I laugh.- “Yea it looks like it, but even if they killed me you aren’t bound to the dungeon, so you should have been ok.”

Thirty-seven: “But this room is sealed off from the outside, if you died I would have had no way to escape, if the dungeon’s collapse didn’t kill me I would eventually starve.”

“Oh… I am sorry, I didn’t think about that.”

Thirty-seven: “It’s ok, it doesn’t matter.”

“Of course it matters, because there is no reason for you to die just because I screwed up. We will have to come up with a plan, just in case something like this happens again.”

Thirty-seven: “Belinda told me the group was sent by Madam Erin?”

“I don’t think we were supposed to find out till the group was long gone, but using the trick Belinda and I figured out with the adventurer’s IDs we managed to figure it out quickly.”

Thirty-seven: “Do you think it was a test? Or did her curiosity about your crystal get the best of her?”

“It seemed like she wanted information, but there is no telling with Madam Erin…”

Thirty-seven: “I hope she doesn’t turn into your enemy.”

“Na, I feel a little cheated sure, but nothing so bad as to risk making an enemy of her.”

Thirty-seven and I continue to talk for a while, and I must of fell asleep because before I realize it, because before I realize it Belinda is standing in front of me with an angry face…

Belinda: “What do you think you are doing?”

“Oh.” –I yawn. – “I must have dozed off.”

As I start to wake up I realize I am lying in the floor of Thirty-seven’s room. Thirty-seven is sound asleep as well, but she is sitting on her knees cradling my head like the stuffed animal I gave her. When I get up it causes Thirty-seven to open her eyes.

Looking at her now empty arms, she looks over grabbing the stuffed animal from the table holding it tightly. She then closes her eyes back, and seems to fall back asleep.

Belinda: “So what’s going on here?”

“I don’t know when the adventurers left, I brought some food to Thirty-seven, and we were talking a bit. I must have fallen asleep.”

Belinda: “And how do you explain being in her lap?”

“I was sitting in the chair when I dozed off, so I don’t know.”

Belinda: “You expect me to believe Thirty-seven was the one that put your head in her lap?”

“It does seem odd for her to do something like that, but I have no other explanation. We could just ask her I guess.”

I go to wake her up but Belinda stops me.

Belinda: “Don’t you dare, let her sleep.”

“I thought you wanted to know?”

Belinda gives me another angry look, then scoops Thirty-seven up in her arms. They look roughly the same size but Belinda doesn’t seem to struggle at all as she carries Thirty-seven to the cot laying her down on it.

Belinda: “I told her about the adventurers entering the crystal room last night. She must have been worried as well, because she looked like she didn’t get much sleep when I brought her food this morning. She must have been exhausted.”

After Belinda covers Thirty-seven with a blanket, we transfer to the core room. Belinda tells me she was forced to pay the adventurers for quite a few commissions they completed in the dungeon, which also means she was forced to post most of the information they collected.

Things are going to get tough for a while, as the other adventurers in the adventurer’s guild seemed fired up at the news that the crystal had been reached on the third floor.

Belinda told me talks of becoming a hero filled the adventurer’s guild for a few hours until she had to remind them that the crystal is under protection of the kingdom, and the dungeon is small enough a title wouldn’t be granted for a dungeon that small.

She however couldn’t stop a lot of the adventurers taking the commissions to confirm what the other group learned. Many also talked about upgrading their gear with the items that the stronger kobolds hold.

“Most of the time the monsters are easier and cheaper to replace then the gear they carry… We might run into some serious trouble if they start taking the gear again.”

Belinda: “I think it is time, I go and collect us some more xp. You said the dungeon core of Leona, didn’t like the fact we were in his dungeon right? You also said Madam Erin said we could train there, and it is also her fault we are so shorthanded at the moment. Maybe I should head there?”

“If the adventurers that were just here are any inclination of the strength of the monsters in the lower levels of Madam Erin’s dungeon, then it might be too difficult.”

Belinda: “Rufus can’t advance any further so he wouldn’t really be any help, but Tanya should be ok for a bit, if it’s ok I will take two of the larger golems this time as well.”

“I don’t think that would really be a problem, we will just have to give them names. How long do you plan to go this time?”

Belinda: “I will have either go straight though the forest or around it, both will take about a week, but the trip around will probably be easier. If I spend 1 or even 2 weeks training, I could be back inside a month.”

“If you leave by weeks end, you should be able to make the trip 3 times before I have to start the task Madam Erin gave me for choosing the new elder.”

Belinda: “…I hate to be gone that long but wouldn’t it be easier just to make a two or two and a half month trip?”

“Sure, the smaller trips might not provide as much xp, but I don’t know if we can hold out for a full 3 months before getting the xp.”

Belinda: “Good point.”

“Besides I don’t know how I feel about you being that far away from me for that long.”

Belinda begins to blush deep red for some reason, and talks in a nervous tone of voice.

Belinda: “You…You would miss… Miss me that much?”

“I just don’t know if I could take care of the adventurer’s guild in Tobes for that long.”

Belinda’s face quickly sours, and she becomes angry again. She looks like she is about to say something, but calms herself down before doing so.

Belinda: “…Ok, I will let them know in Tobes, and set out at the end of the week.”

Without another word Belinda transfers out. I must of slept all afternoon because it is already well into the evening. I double check the dungeon, and mess around in [Menu] for a while before goes back to bed.

The next morning things seem to return to normal, and Belinda arrives in the dungeon core telling me she had breakfast with Thirty-seven already. After handing me food to give to Thirty-seven at lunch, Belinda seems like she wants to say something, but ends up leaving for Tobes before doing so.

A very large group enters the dungeon after a few hours, but they don’t seem very coordinated with each other. By listening to their conversations, it looks like Belinda set a limit on the number of groups that could hunt in the dungeon at any given day.

Something about that if to many groups are present the monsters won’t spawn right, and the gear would be less favorable. Well in a way I guess she isn’t wrong, but it looks like they are already trying to find ways to bypass the rules.

This group is actually three separate groups that formed up in hopes to acquire better gear. However after reaching the dungeon it seems they can’t agree on who will get what even before they have found anything.

The groups push through the dungeon almost working against each other as they work though the first floor. Even though with their size they should have easily handled the first floor, by the time it’s cleared their number has dropped from 12 to 10.

The 7 remaining members of the group seem to form an understanding after working though half of the second floor, and they begin working together more efficiently. Once the reach the back they lose three more members however.

Luckily one of the fallen members is a guy that stole gear from one of the prison guards, but when the last remaining 4 retreat I still lose [Superior Quality Leather Armor +], [Superior Quality Steel Sword +] from the other prison guard, and one of the members takes the [Top Quality Stout Large Bow ++] from the fallen archer before they escape.

From the 8 fallen adventurers I gain 275xp, but the bow alone was worth 300xp, the sword was worth another 100xp, and the armor 200xp. Any way you look at it this was a bad day. I can’t keep having days like this, so I decide to rearrange a bit.

I remove all the high quality gear from all the kobold except the brutes and elder on the third floor, I replace their gear with the best things I have, and then store the rest in the dungeon inventory. Then using almost all of my xp I give the kobold whose gear I took away with standard sets.

They broke one of the small chests, and I can’t even afford to replace it. The other one they emptied out is still in working order so I throw 50 of the small gold coins in it, and put it back. Human’s small golden coins are still confusing to me, but 50 should be enough.

For some reason I have still been unable to replicate the small golden coins with [Menu] but even after putting 50 in the chest I have 120 left from what I have collected from adventurers.

I would probably have more, but before Belinda joined the dungeon she advised adventurers not to bring their valuables with them in the event they were taken prisoner. She no longer gives the warning, but it’s kind of become an established fact now so only the extremely confident bring anything with them.

Apparently for a while that caused a problem in the inn, as they had a thief robbing the adventurer’s rooms while they were in the dungeon, but the town guard managed to catch the culprit eventually.

The next few days pass normally enough, Belinda leaves nothing to chance this time leaving me list after list of what to do in certain situations. She even gives me a list of buildings she wants built in Tobes for the next 6 months.

I ask her if it’s really necessary to go through all that, but she starts chewing me out about the brothel again. Apparently Denova often comes in giving Belinda a hard time, and Belinda has now barred her from soliciting customers from the adventurer’s guild, and the town square.

Belinda and I take Thirty-seven on a walk together two days before she leaves, and we even manage to talk Thirty-seven into starting to work our way closer to town. Thirty-seven however gets too scared, and we have to go back before Tobes is even in view.

On the day Belinda is leaving to the Tower of the Gods, I still have only managed to acquire just over 100xp. I give Belinda one of the [Minor Rings of Magic] that I got from Kovasta group before she leaves to help with her out.

She seems to get a really strong misunderstanding when I present the ring to her causing her to blush so brightly I am afraid she is about to pass out. She punches me really hard on the shoulder when I tell her what the ring is, and she gets mad at me.

She however still asks me, to put it on her finger. When I do she is no longer angry, and she begins to blush again. She seems to completely forget about being angry now as she runs up to Thirty-seven babbling at her.

After she gives Thirty-seven a large hug she runs back to me. She stares at me for a while before deciding it’s time to go. Belinda and I decide to let Thirty-seven give the two golems that Belinda is taking with her their names. Somehow I feel we didn’t think that through very well.

Belinda: “I made you promise to build me a bedroom if I brought back a lot of xp last time, so this time I want something even better ok?”

“It depends on how much xp you bring back, but I don’t see any problem with that.”

Belinda: “Promise?”

“Sure”

Belinda then seems really excited as she leaves, Tanya following close behind, with One and Two following in the rear… We really shouldn’t of let Thirty-seven name them… to avoid suspicion from Tobes, Belinda takes a hunters trail east though the forest, we were told it leads all the way out of the forest.

Once she clears the trees she will follow Kartova road around the forest till she reaches the Gowen border. From there it might get a little tricky with her being the princess and all, but then she will continue on to the Tower of the Gods.

After Belinda’s figure disappears within the trees I look over to Thirty-seven.

“Well, what do you say we go down to Tobes and relax for the day?” –I say jokingly.-

Thirty-seven looks worried as she holds her upside down cat up covering her face and shaking her head.

“Alright, alright, let’s go back to the dungeon.”

The next few days actually run pretty smoothly, Belinda has apparently hired another person to help manage the affairs of Tobes, so they go off a list she prepared for them only asking the occasional question.

Late one evening after finishing up in the dungeon, and in Tobes I am about to leave the adventurer’s guild when Denova enters. She looks all over the room, she turns and about leaves until she spots me. She walks up to me and asks.

Denova: “Your Belinda’s thing right? Hey I have been trying to find her the last two days where is she?”

“She set out for the Tower of the Gods, and she will be gone for at least a month. She however has left me in charge of her affairs, is there something I can help you with?”

Denova’s face quickly twists into a devious smile.

Denova: “Oh is that so? Perfect.”

Denova now moves closer to me pressing her bosom into my shoulder.

Denova: “You never did stop by to take me up on that freebie offer, I gave you. How about you come on by and we can “bang” out the details.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I am not interested. However if you do have a legitimate question I will at least hear it.”

Denova: “Oh a tough nut to crack? She must really got you good. You know an escaped slave like you will never be able to keep a princess for long. Eventually her prince will come and take her back to the capital and out of this little village. Then you will be left all alone, why don’t you make some helpful friends while you can?”

“Well if you change your mind about the question, you can reach me here tomorrow evening.”

Denova: “Ok ok, hold on, hold on.” –She seems to think hard on the question for a second then with another devious smile she says.

Denova: “You see I got a customer, I have been working hard, on convincing him to stop by this little village as he passes the forest. You see he is a kind of merchant as well, and I wanted to take a look at his goods. I finally convinced him to stop by, but I need the princess’s approval for him to be allowed to sell his wares.”

Somehow I feel something is not right about this, but if it’s just a merchant, it can’t really be too much harm. Besides if the business wasn’t legal she wouldn’t be asking permission.

“I’ll make a deal with you. 24 hours. He comes, conducts his business with you, and is gone in 24 hours and I give you the approval, and you owe me.”

She then kisses my cheek and whispers in my ear “you can come collect, anytime.” Then after filling out a form and stamping it I give it to her. She takes the form reading it over very carefully before smiling. She tells me that will work perfectly then she quickly leaves.

As I finish up and head back to the dungeon I can’t help but think Belinda is going to yell at me for this. At least I only set the it for 24 hours.

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