Chapter 32: Adair, Phobos, and Queen

I woke up after only a few short hours of sleep, this cot is uncomfortable but I only have to put up with it a few more days tops. After crawling off the cot I put on the armor I was given, and the two swords I was awarded in my battles in the dungeon.

I guess I should consider myself lucky Dyson allowed me to acquire Mythril items before I even had my own dungeon, I should be able to keep the armor, but I am not sure about the swords because they were part of the training, but I guess I will worry about it then.

I quickly look over [Menu] and find the criminal humans huddled together in the floor looking rather pitiful. I don’t see how the other cores refer to Dyson as human he is clearly far superior in every way… Well I guess I don’t have to deal with them anymore after this battle.

I got enough xp saved up to finish the next 24 hours, and still have plenty remaining, I have been using all rifts other than the humans this last week I wonder if any training cores have ended their training with this much xp left over.

I wish I didn’t summon my boss monster so carelessly, and I would have probably struggled a lot less this month if I didn’t lose it on the first day. At least now I know to get my dungeon well established before I summon one for my actual dungeon.

I transfer myself to the dungeon and kick the humans huddling in the corner.

“Time to get up, the battle will take place in 10 minutes. Soon you will have the gold you have been dreaming about.”

The men slowly begin to pull themselves to their feet and begin equipping their gear, for a group of vagabond cutthroat humans we have managed to collect quite a few sets of decent armor and weapons. Using the normal configuration I plant the humans dead center of the middle of the first room, with quite a few beastkin filling the back of the room.

The next two rooms are full of beastkin I haven’t had any attacks reach the back room in over a week. Awaiting what could be the final battle a sense of accomplishment fills me. I understand the battles are harder than they have been in the past, but to do this well despite all that I feel I will have no problem on my own now.

The pride I feel however quickly vanishes when a large head sticks into my dungeon… With a roar that fills the dungeon causing the humans to lose control of their bodily fluids the large land dragon quickly charges in smashing into the group.

As most of the humans are tossed aside like leaves in the wind, the few that are left are too scared to attack. I quickly order the beastkin forward to attack, but as their weapons clash against its scales they don’t even leave scratches.

I quickly charge into the room using the beastkin as cover, make my way around the back of the dragon. While the dragon chomps on one of the humans it rends several of the beastkin with its claws. Once I reach its side I plunge both of my swords into its side.

This quickly backfires as it turns all of its attention to me swinging around. I try to hold onto the handles of the swords as it begins to spin, but the dragon’s blood causes my hands to slip from the hilts flinging me across the dungeon hitting the wall hard.

I quickly pull myself to my feet in time to see the dragon preparing to release a breath attack against me. I have no choice but to transfer from the room back to the core room. After I am gone the dragon then returns to destroying the targets it has left.

I quickly go through [Menu] trying to find anything that might be able to stand against the dragon… Slimes, Goblins, Kobold, Beastkin, Lizardmen, Fairies, Skeletons, no matter what I see nothing even comes close to the power of a land dragon…

I don’t even have any weapons that can penetrate it hide now, but I can’t do anything. I have to think of something. As the dragon finishes killing the last remaining beastkin in the first room I quickly summon two dozen skeleton mages. With their darkness based magic they should be able to ignore armor, so that should slow the dragon down a bit.

I order the beastkin in the second room to charge at the dragon as soon as it begins to enter trying to keep it as far from the mages as possible, but once the mages cast their first volley of [Darkness Blade]s at the dragon it quickly ignores the beastkin charging right over the top of them heading for the mages.

I order the beastkin to try to make use of the swords buried in the dragon’s side, but anytime a beastkin reaches them it uses it tail to swipe them away, and continues to obliterate the mages. I can’t die here, but I have to do something or Dyson might write me off completely…

I quickly summon another dozen skeleton mages into the crystal room. I then use the last of my remaining xp to add another room to the back of the dungeon I find the smallest door possible to connect it to the rest of the dungeon then move my crystal back into it.

Now there should be no way for the dragon to be able to get in the crystal room. Ignoring the remaining beastkin as soon as the skeleton mages are gone the dragon charges into the third room. I quickly have the beastkin follow it into the third room.

The large land dragon over 20 beastkin and 10 skeleton mages now remain in the room leaving almost no room for anyone to step. I have to get my swords if I am going to stop it, so I quickly transfer into the third room right next to the dragon grasping the swords.

I manage to pull one of the swords free before the dragon’s tail swipes me across the chest throwing me across the room into heaps of beastkin. I then transfer to the crystal room, and after a few minutes the door crashes open.

The dragon can’t fit though the much smaller door, but he manages to stick in long neck, and one front leg through. I quickly begin to attack its head while trying to stay out of its range. The dragon bites and snaps at me with its jaws as it struggles trying to pull itself further into the room.

I manage to begin causing damage on the dragons head before it withdraws its head back a few feet back out of my reach. Now I can’t reach it, but if I step forward I will be dragon food. We stand there eyeing each other for a brief moment before it starts to prepare its breath attack again.

I have no choice to flee to the core room as the crystal room is filled with arcing lightning that bounces off the walls. Once one of the bolts strikes the core I receive the message that I failed. Once the dragon slowly retreats I see Dyson enter the dungeon.

I transfer down to the first room and pull the table and chairs I use for his visits from my dungeon inventory placing them. After sitting down at the table Dyson draws a straight light in the air reaching past it into it his hand disappearing when it passes the line. When he pulls his hand back he is holding a bottle with several crystal glasses.

After filling the two glasses I sit down and he slides one my way. I sniff the drink, and it’s very stout liquor probably of dwarven origin. Dyson quickly downs his glass, and while pouring himself another he asks me.

Dyson: “So what did you learn from the battle with the dragon?”

“I want to say it was impossible, but surely that can’t be the case. If I just gathered more xp maybe I could of…”

Dyson however cuts me off.

Dyson: “You were closer to the truth on the first guess.”

“Pardon?”

Dyson: “Not all battles can be won. As a human many times I had to retreat from battle and regroup before trying again.”

“But as a dungeon there is no retreat. You can’t remove your crystal, so its fight or die…”

Dyson: “You had the right idea with the smaller door, but you made a critical error. By the time you tried that you were completely out of xp. If you wouldn’t have wasted all that xp on the skeletons you could have created two rooms with the small doors, and the dragon wouldn’t have been able to get near your crystal.”

I can’t help but sigh I then quickly drink the alcohol which causes me to choke and cough. Dyson simply refills my glass then says.

Dyson: “Of course if you did that I would have sent in the lizardmen I had as backup, because the point of this battle was to prove one simple thing. There is always someone out there that can end you, and if you are not prepared for when they come knocking at your door it’s all over.”

“But you’re the strongest dungeon core there is, surely you don’t still feel that way?”

Dyson: “Sure on a one on one battle I could easily kill any or all of the elders, but squaring my dungeon against theirs? Even two of them would leave me in a bad spot. Unless of course it was Fredrick…”

“Then what could I of done differently?”

Dyson: “It’s all about allies. At any given point I have at least 12 cores that would come to my aid without any reason given. In your month of training you managed to build a great relationship with the adventurer’s guild in town. With the amount of human gold you are holding right now you could have easily commissioned 50 maybe even 100 mercenaries to defend you.”

“Would that of changed the outcome of the battle?”

Dyson: “Probably not, but it would of given you more time to prepare, maybe even finding a way to hide your crystal.”

For the next twenty or thirty minutes Dyson continues to give me tips on surviving, and after a while I ask him.

“So how do you feel your chances are on becoming the next elder?”

Dyson: “I would say 50/50 if it wasn’t rigged from the start.”

“What do you mean?”

Dyson: “Well from my sources I have learned Laura pretty much failed out, but Maric has one of the judges in his pocket, and I killed another one of the judge’s lover before I rejoined the dungeon cores. The vote has to be unanimous, so doesn’t look good.”

“You haven’t told the elders? Surely that has to be against the rules.”

Dyson: “If Maric wants it that bad I say let him have it, I don’t need the elders as I said I have powerful allies in my own right.”

“Then why go along with this whole thing?”

Dyson: “I believe given 50 or so years you will be able to become one of them powerful allies for one, another reason is I got my eyes set on one of the judges myself.”

Two-Twelve’s PoV

The last week has progressed rather normally, I keep an eye on the elder candidates while Lilah watches the dungeon. We were finally able to talk Zoey into removing Scar’s collar after a few days. So far Zoey has continued to visit with her, and Scar became an adventurer.

She however changed her name to Roxanne, Zoey however just calls her Roxy. After becoming an adventurer Roxy began to accompany Zoey and Scylla along on their commissions in town. I made sure Zoey understood though that Roxy would be unable to join them if they went hunting though.

On the day before the evaluation and elder selection I managed to watch Queen’s final battle, and Dyson’s advice afterwards which made me change my views of him quite a bit.

I check with the others, and find out Phobos managed to win his final battle if only just by the skin of his teeth, Laura even seemed to pull out some of her monsters during the battle to give him more of an advantage.

Adair managed to win his final battle as well, and by Greaks telling it sounds like Adair is going to be the next great dungeon core. Simon however is a little more down to earth in his retelling of the battle. If what Dyson said was true about Maric having a judge in his pocket, maybe it was a mistake having just one person watch each core.

I know it’s not me, Simon seems to be leaning to choosing Maric, but doesn’t seem like he is biased in any way, Bless is obviously the one that lost her lover, so that only leaves Greaks or Bella. Bella seems focused on Laura though, so it probably has to be Greaks…

If Greaks is hiding the things Maric is doing it would explain why he was able to get away with it without us being able to catch it. I kind of like Dyson better, but I probably won’t fight it if everyone is on board for Maric…

Everything however is turned upside down that evening when I receive a message.

Dungeon Core #245 [Simon] has perished at the hands of the adventurer Molock

“Belinda, quick. Send a message to your brother, and ask him if they destroyed the crystal at Leona ruins.”

Belinda: “But last I heard they were still a long ways from the bottom floor, what’s going on?”

“Simon was just killed.”

The judges window under communication has quickly begun to move.

Bless: “What’s going on, Two-Twelve isn’t your boss monster’s brother in Simon’s dungeon what happened?”

Greaks: “Thissss issss not good.”

Bella: “What does this mean for tomorrows vote?”

“I am trying to get information now, but last I heard they were still at least 10 floors away from the bottom of his dungeon, and to kill his dragon… I didn’t think they would be able too.”

Greaks: “He had a dragon? SSSSSurely lowly humanssss didn’t do it alone, maybe Dysssson was behind it?”

Bless: “I have been watching Dyson closely, but it is possible you can’t trust the humans.”

“Everyone calm down, no use jumping to conclusions, as soon as I find something out I will let you guys know…”

After I move the screen out of the way I receive another message this time from Madam Erin.

Madam Erin: “It is indeed unfortunate to lose one of our judges this late in the selection process. After discussing it with the others we have decided to continue on, as the vote has to be unanimous being short one judge should not change the outcome.”

“What of Simon, do you know what happened?”

Madam Erin: “All we know at the moment is the Gowen royal army was attempting to destroy Simon’s crystal. Should you find any information though your “information network” that may be relevant please inform us.”

“Belinda anything yet?”

Belinda: “No, but with the crystal destroyed they will have to exit the dungeon in a hurry it may take hours or even days before I hear back from him.”

I spend the night unable to sleep, just staring at the screens and waiting for a reply from Belinda’s brother. At some point Belinda curled up on my bed and fell asleep, and after Lilah fell asleep in the chair next to me I sent her to bed.

I talk with the other judges at several points throughout the night but we are still unable to uncover any new information. Once I see the sun start to rise from the screen looking out the front of the cave I notice a light from a rock just off the side of the pathway to the dungeon.

Madam Erin exits the light and proceeds to walk to mountain path. I get up and gently wake Belinda.

“Hey, it’s time for me to go.”

Belinda slowly sits up rubbing her neck from the awkward position she was lying on the bed.

“I don’t know how long it’s going to be, they said if we can’t make a unanimous decision we have to stay there until we do agree so this could take a while…”

Belinda: “Did my brother ever send a message back?”

“Not yet, if you get a message from him while I am gone don’t wait, send me a message right away with the information.”

Belinda: “Ok… Be careful ok?”

“You too, if Simon’s death had anything to do with the selection of the new elder, our dungeon isn’t that far from his they may try to target us as well.”

Belinda: “He is at least a week and a half away though. Surely you will be back long before then?”

“All the candidates are high level dungeon cores I wouldn’t be surprised if they have teleportation magic, the elders surely aren’t the only ones that can do it.”

Belinda: “It won’t come to that, just get back to me safely alright?”

I receive a message from Madam Erin telling me to hurry up, so I kiss Belinda and she wraps her arms around me hugging me tightly. When she finally lets go she kisses me again and I head out to meet Madam Erin.

Madam Erin: “What took you so long pup? Then again you are starting to build yourself quite the harem I guess I can’t blame you for not wanting to leave.”

“I don’t know what you are talking about… Let’s go.”

Madam Erin: “If you say so…”

Madam Erin leads me to the rock and we teleport. Making our way through the hallway Madam Erin stops just outside the door to the large room. She squats down and places both hands on my shoulders and looks at me with a serious expression.

Madam Erin: “Before we go in there, where you able to learn anything about Simon’s death?”

I shake my head and say. “No, I still haven’t gotten any word, but I do know that Belinda’s brother shouldn’t have been able to pass the last 10 floors of Simon’s dungeon and kill his dragon in the few days since Belinda last talked to him.”

Madam Erin: “She is able to talk to him from that distance? Did you take the entire royal family as dungeon monsters?”

“Sorry, I can’t really say, but if I learn anything helpful I will be sure to let you know…”

Madam Erin: “Curious, but I trust you enough to take you at your word. Ok lets go.”

When we enter the room we seem to be the last to arrive. All the other elders are in their seats up on the podium, the other judges are behind the table, the three training cores are sitting in chairs in front of the podium, and their teachers are standing behind them.

Madam Erin makes her wait to her seat and I sit in mine, the other judges quickly ask me if I have learned anything but I shake my head and Draco beings to speak.

Draco: “Welcome to another year of hatchlings into our family.”

Faron: “As you all know, this year is special so lets get started.”

Madam Erin: “Maric, how do you feel Adair’s training went?”

Maric: “Elders I greatly appreciate this opportunity, to even be considered in this task. As such I tried my best to prove I am capable, and with Adair’s help I believe his progress speaks for itself. He may have struggled in the beginning, but after my guidance I believe he will prove to be a vital dungeon core in the future.”

Fredrick: “And Adair, how did you feel about Maric’s abilities as your teacher?”

Adair: “I feel grateful to be able to train under such a dungeon core as Maric. As we dungeon cores are born with a great deal of knowledge, it is still refreshing to know that there are dungeon cores like Maric that are willing to go the extra distance to help us put it all together to make us the most successful cores that we can be.”

Lucille: “Laura, how did Phobos preform?”

Laura: “Under the normal conditions of dungeon core training I believe Phobos would have performed within expectations, however with the new intense training he struggled a great deal. I do believe that he has proved himself capable despite any setbacks he may have encountered during training.

Draco: “Phobos, what of your feelings toward Lucille’s training?’

Phobos: “I feel she gave me a great deal of space in the beginning of my training to allow me to make a great deal of mistakes, but the only true mistake is the one you don’t learn anything from. I feel her follow up in the second half of my training was just that, she then pinpointed everything I did wrong, and showed me the way to correct it.”

Faron: “So despite your low successful battle count you believe she trained you adequately?”

Phobos: “Yes, even if I am unsuccessful I believe it is not due to her training.”

Fredrick: “Dyson, how was Queen’s performance?”

Dyson: “I don’t believe I have anything to say on her behalf. Her actions alone are all you need.

Lucille: “And Queen what do you have to say on Dyson’s training.”

Queen: “I think you would be foolish to underestimate Dyson. Many dungeon cores look down on him for spending time with humans, but humans and other creatures like them are the only ones that purposely seek out dungeons just for the sake of our destruction. With me standing here is proof they are quite successful at that, or you would never have to train new dungeon cores. As Dyson is the one core uniquely capable of providing the intel any new core needs to defend them from what will surely be their ruin not choosing him would be not only a failure in your part, but also could be a fatal flaw for any future core born from now on.”

Draco: “You defiantly have no problem speaking your mind like your teacher.”

Faron: “Adair and Queen if you would wait in the hall until called on.”

Adair and Queen then stand leaving the room.

Madam Erin: “As Maric, Laura, and Dyson one of you will become the next elder, and the one responsible for the new cores from here on out. What are your takes on Phobos? We already heard Laura’s opinion, so what are your opinions?”

Maric: “I believe what Laura said to be true, from my understanding of his circumstances under the normal conditions Phobos would have passed no problem. It was only due to pure neglect on Laura’s part I feel he didn’t have the chance from the start, and feel it unfair to judge him based on Laura’s disinterest with his training.”

Dyson: “As much as it pains me I have to agree with the pretender. If Laura put half the focus of her human political meddling into Phobos’s training he would have proved successful. I would go as far to say if you give me two weeks with him I could whip him into shape.”

Fredrick: “Are you suggesting we extend his training for another two weeks? That has never been done before.”

Maric: “That is absurd, we have been training cores this way for over 300 years and it has worked why change it now?”

Dyson: “Because isn’t that the exact reason for this whole mess, because it isn’t working anymore.”

Draco: “What are your thoughts Laura?”

Laura: “I think as it stands despite his shortcomings Phobos will make a successful dungeon core. Of course Dyson is also right, and any core would do better with additional training. That may be something to look into, if the increased difficulty is not beneficial to the new cores maybe giving them more time in training would be more effective, but being stuck on the old ways is not helpful for anyone.”

Lucille: “We have reached our decision.”

Draco: “Despite some reservations we will allow Phobos to be granted his own dungeon. Phobos, if you would collect the other two from the hallway.”

While Phobos opens the door calling in Adair, and Queen, the elders instruct the three trainers to take the seats in front of the podium. Madam Erin stands from the podium and spreads a map across the table in front of us judges.

After a moment the map begins to grow covering the table, the forests begin to grow, as do the mountains. Lakes a rivers fill with water and by the time the three training cores reach the table it has fully formed to the map I used to choose the location of my dungeon.

The three training cores read a message that apparently appeared before them then they step up to the map.

Madam Erin: “Adair, you’re up first.”

Adair finds a ruin a small distance from the eastern coast placing his finger on it, he then disappears.

Madam Erin: “Alright Phobos you’re next.”

Phobos quickly selects a small cave on the northern coast next to a large city, as he to disappears.

Madam Erin: “Queen, you’re up.:”

Queen: “I heard there was a recent vacancy, so I guess that would make us neighbors. I look forward to working with you Two-Twelve.”

Queen points to a familiar place on the map… As Queen disappears heading to Simon’s old dungeon all the judges look relatively confused, but I feel a shiver down my back.

Greaks: “What wassss that about?”

“She choose Simon’s dungeon…”

Greaks: “How could ssssshe of known if Dyssssson wasssss not ressssponsssssible for Ssssssimon’sssss death?

“You are jumping to conclusions again, everyone received the message last night including the new cores, she could have thought it was a perfect opportunity to take over a well-established dungeon without a fight.”

Bless: “I agree with Greaks this seems way too convenient.”

Madam Erin: “Well that us up to you guys to work out.”

Madam Erin then rolls up the map, and when she does it returns to its original small flat size. She then returns to the podium.

Faron: “Very well, Maric, Laura, Dyson you may now leave, we will inform you when the judges have made their decision.”

After the three leave, the Elders leave as well leaving just us in the room.

Bella: “I assume it’s safe to say Laura is out, that leaves either Maric or Dyson.”

Bless: “It has to be Maric then.”

Greaks: “I agree.”

“You guys aren’t even going to attempt to think about this?”

Bless: “What is there to think about? Laura’s student damn near didn’t even pass, and I refuse to vote for Dyson, so Maric is the only choice.”

Greaks: “Maric isssss clearly the besssssst choice.”

“Maric has been up to something since day one don’t anyone of you care what it was?”

Greaks: “I watched Maric all month, he never sssssstepped out of line.”

“That comment alone is suspicious, Dyson pushed the boundaries several times, Laura pushed the boundaries at every turn. Maric should be no different.”

Greaks: “Maybe Maric issss a jusssst and honorable man.”

“There is also what Dyson said about one of us working for Maric.”

Greaks: “That is ridiculoussssss.”

“I am glad you think so, since you where the one at the beginning of the month that seemed like you held no favorites, yet you now are dead set on Maric.”

Greaks: “I have been watching him all month, and I have grown to ressssspect him.”

Bella: “You seem dead set against Maric how do we know Dyson hasn’t bought you?”

“I just want to make the best decision rather it be Maric, Dyson, or Laura.”

Bella: “I think we can all agree Laura is out.”

“Not so fast… Sure Phobos didn’t do so well but he did manage to pass, a lot of core born don’t even pass the normal conditions, and here we have three that managed to pass a more rigorous test. That in itself is an accomplishment.”

Bella: “This is ridiculous…”

“All three of them were here because at least 1 elder felt they deserved the chance, I think we have a responsibility to give them all a fair shake.”

Bella: “Fine, what do you suggest then?”

“Let’s start at the beginning, what makes you think that Laura would not make a good elder?”

Bella: “She has never had her own original idea, everything she has ever did she copied or stole from someone else. She followed Lucille for so long she knows nothing else. As for training dungeon cores, she clearly left Phobos to fend for himself for the first two weeks just throwing monsters at him.”

“You don’t think what Phobos said holds any weight? After all she wants to be an elder so why would she ignore Phobos when this is her big chance to become one?”

Bella: “Maybe in the past she wanted it, now I think she is too concerned with her new boss monster and his human politics.”

“Anyone else have reasons why Laura would not be the best choice?”

Greaks: “We were insssstructed to find the besssssst dungeon core for training new coresssss I believe it isssss obviousssss Maric isssss the right choice.”

“I am not asking about Maric, why does Laura not deserve it?”

Greaks: “We are getting nowhere like thisssss.”

“So that’s a no? Bless what about you?”

Bless: “Even if she did give her best effort I believe it just wasn’t enough for her training core. Part of training a new core is learning their strength and weaknesses. You build on their strengths while finding ways to cover their weaknesses, and she clearly failed to do that in Phobos.”

“You sure you have nothing to add Greaks?”

Greaks: What about you? You are passsssing the quesssstion around without ansssswering it yoursssself.”

“Very well, I think Bella made a good point about her being too concerned with King Aaron. I heard her talking of becoming an elder as being a bonus but not required in their plan, if she really wanted it she could have put quite a bit more effort into it.”

Bella: “Then Laura is out then?”

“I am not counting her out just yet, but it does look like we can mostly agree she is probably the weakest choice at the moment. Ok Bless next is you, why not Dyson?”

Bless: “Other than the fact I refuse to vote for him for any reason, he spent the entire month having sex with every woman in his dungeon, and not paying attention to his responsibilities.  Any interactions with Queen were short and far in-between. Her success was purely her own, and can’t be contributed to Dyson in the least bit.”

“I found enjoyment in watching Queen’s progress, so I was able to see quite a few of the interactions between Dyson and Queen. Although they may have been short the information he shared with her was very informative. I even managed to learn quite a bit listening to it.”

Bless: “He is a murder and should keep to his humans where he belongs.”

“I don’t know much about Dyson, but from what I observed this month he seems to know how to handle humans. And I think we can all agree that humans pose the biggest threat to us dungeon cores. If he can teach that to other dungeon cores I think they would stand a far better chance out there in the world.”

Bless: That’s just because he is one of them. He has killed hundreds of cores himself he serves at must as a danger to us as the humans do.”

“He has only killed 43 cores and only 13 of them have been within the last 195 years since he got his own dungeon.”

Bless: “How can you possibly know that?”

“It is in his description in the Dungeon Core Information book.”

Bella: “Only training cores and elders have access to that book.”

“Leland’s copy disappeared after his death and it’s still out there, let’s just say I have seen it.”

Bless: “How a dungeon core as young as you to be able to find Leland’s lost Dungeon Core Information, and not to mention your unique crystal, I am not starting to wonder if you may not be more dangerous then Dyson.”

Bella: “What is the deal with your crystal anyway?”

“You can read the human report at the adventurer’s guild if you really are interest…Hold on I just got a message from my boss monster. Let’s take a break for a few minutes while I find out if she learned anything about Simon.”

 

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