I seemed to be having a somewhat pleasant dream when I am awoken by a light tapping on my door, and I can’t recall what the dream was about. I roll out of bed and start getting dressed when I hear the light tapping on the door again.
“Alright, give me a second!”
After I say that there is now a scratching at the door. So I walk over and fling the door open and Zoey is standing there surprised.
Zoey: “Morning boss… Belinda wanted me to make sure you got up alright.”
“Alright, I’m up… Now can I get dressed?”
Zoey: “I don’t know Belinda might like that half-dressed look.”
I sigh and say. “I will be ready in a few minutes” I then shut the door and finish getting dressed but every few seconds I can hear the scratching at the door…
Once I step into the hall Zoey then hightails it downstairs. If she was going to wait that long she could have waited for me… When I reach the lobby there are quite a few groups that seem to be making their final adjustments before setting out, and I find my girls off to one side.
Belinda: “Good morning. We are ready when you are.”
“Well I think we got everything we need now so let’s get to it.”
Heading north out of the city towards the dungeon the ground looks in far worse shape than it did before. The few farms that do remain on this side of the city seem to be struggling with withered looking crops, but most of the farms look to be abandoned.
Belinda: “This is starting to look pretty bad, you said the cause of this in Lodia was dungeon didn’t you?”
“Dungeon Core #502 I think he goes by Archbishop Hayden or something like that.”
Belinda: “You do remember?!”
“I don’t know how to explain it, I mean I don’t remember it, but as you asked the question it just came to mind…”
Azami: “He is one of our mutual friend’s allies. I don’t like the way he is killing the ground, but he is a very strong dungeon core, so there is not much we can do about it. Then again his strength is probably equal to that of Laura’s so as we are setting our sights on her Archbishop Hayden doesn’t seem that far of a stretch.”
Belinda: “Well I wouldn’t want to make Dyson mad… But maybe we can at least talk him into asking Hayden to not spread past Lodia?”
“He seems to try to stay out of others business, but if we can find a way to make it worth his effort then maybe. Especially given the fact Hayden is one of his allies.”
Belinda: “But if Hayden keeps spreading like this it will begin to threaten the other dungeons as well.”
“Well like Azami said, we are not really in the position of being able to do anything about it as we are.”
Belinda: “Growing up I always thought that being a hero was the peak of power, but now that I am one it’s not all that it is cracked up to be…”
“Well there are always those out there that are much stronger then you.”
Belinda seems a bit discouraged now as we continue along the trail. Even though the farms have been abandoned the road still looks to be heavily traversed. Once we start to arrive at the location of the dungeon we find there is the semblance of a small town here, the buildings are shoddy at best, and are barely one step up from a tent. They are all geared to sell goods to adventurers as they come and go from the dungeon.
The amount of adventurers here is also quite staggering. I am starting to wonder if we will be able to get any training done at all with all of these adventurers about. As we pass by there are several vendors that that try to pull our attention but nothing looks the quality of what it was back at the city and for at least twice the price.
Even once we enter what I assume to be the first floor of the dungeon I can’t be certain it even is part of the dungeon because there are no signs of monsters but still dozens if not hundreds of people wondering about.
We don’t even find a single monster as we progress deeper into the dungeon till we reach what I assume to be the 5th floor, and even then there are groups fighting over who gets to deal with them. Things start to thin out by the 10th floor, but it’s not till the 15th that we get to fight our first battle.
Even then we are interrupted part of the way through by some rude adventurers trying to get in a killing blow.
Adventurer: “Get lost! This is our floor!”
“These hobgoblins are barely worth our time, but we were here first and your attitude gets on my nerves.”
Adventurer: “Oh yea! What are you going to do about it? I will have you know I am a hero.”
Belinda: “Two-Twelve this isn’t worth our time, let’s just keep going.”
Adventurer: “Yea listen to your little princess.” –He says in a mocking tone.-
Belinda: “First of all I am a princess. Belinda Gowen 3rd princess of the Gowen kingdom, and second of all, I am a hero myself. Along with Azami there and Two-Twelve is a hero 4 times over, so when I said you were not worth our time I meant it.”
Adventurer: “Yea sure…”
Azami: “If he really is a hero like he claims his xp would be quite nice, my friends could easily deal with him so we don’t waste our time.” –She says while drawing a line in the air and casting [Shadow-pocket].-
“No, Belinda’s right it’s not worth our time.” –I say while Azami’s mud monsters start oozing out of the line she drew in the air.-
The adventurer looks to begin to panic watching the creatures coming from thin air, but he puts on a brave face and scoffs while stomping away.
“This dungeon is chaos…”
Belinda: “It is as busy as The Tower of the Gods during the peak season, but at least there things seemed to be organized.”
Roxy: “I would like to get Zoey a few more levels under her belt before we fight things much stronger then hobgoblins, but I guess she is still level 20 despite it saying she is only level 1, so we should be ok I guess.”
Zoey: “I’m not worried, remember them dire wolves and gnolls we have beat.”
Roxy: “And they were tough fights, and we had more people then. Besides that has been practically a full year of you lounging around the house since then.”
Zoey: “I haven’t lost my touch!”
Roxy: “I’m not saying you have… I just would like to ease back into it is all I am saying.”
“Well it doesn’t look like we have much of a choice so we should move on…”
We continue down to about the 17th or 18th floor fighting a few random stray hobgoblins. It is enough to make Azami and Zoey level up a few times, but as they were level 1 to start with that isn’t saying much.
By the time we reach the 22nd floor the adventurers have started to thin out enough that we are no longer bumping into one another, but with hobgoblin heroes and hobgoblin magi being the monsters roaming about we need to still head deeper.
Actually having to fight our way down now makes going on quite a bit slower and by the time it starts to get late in the evening we have only progressed to the 24th floor.
“Well we probably shouldn’t sleep in the dungeon, so we should think of using [Gate], but the question is do we go back to the inn or back home?”
Belinda: “Well it doesn’t change the magic cost no matter the distance, and I think if we stay at that inn much longer we will end up broke… Besides sleeping in our own beds would be nice.”
“We just need to focus on getting back here first thing in the morning then instead of wasting time.”
Belinda: “I don’t think breakfast is a waste of time… But I promise no breakfast tomorrow.”
Once I get a good handle on the appearance of the room I cast [Gate] and we then filter though heading back to Tobes. Leaving Azami in the forest we transfer back to the house were we run into Belinda’s brother.
He seems really curious wanting to know how it is going, but we haven’t really gotten started yet so there isn’t much to tell. Roxy and Zoey quickly bow out heading home, and it seems to upset Belinda a bit when I retreat as well leaving her to deal with her brother.
[Menu] really is wonderful, as soon as I enter my bedroom I store everything with it and crawl into bed. Just as I start to get comfortable there is a small knock on the door. I sigh and quickly roll out of bed. Finding my things in [Menu] would be a pain, so I grab a robe hanging on the back of one of the chairs in the room and put it on real quick answering the door.
Belinda: “Oh… Were you heading to bed already? Aria wanted to borrow something but it’s still in your room. I didn’t think you were going straight to bed, I will just tell her I will get it later.”
She has already seemed to store her gear, but is still wearing her traveling outfit.
“Well I am back up, so I guess it doesn’t matter.” –I then open the door further to let Belinda in.-
Belinda quickly moves over to the vanity going through several of the drawers but she keeps eyeing me in the robe. After grabbing a handful of make-up she then moves to the armoire looking though several colorful dresses until she picks one.
“What exactly is your brother and his slave up to?”
Belinda: “They are going out tomorrow, and she just wanted to look nice instead of wearing her adventurer’s outfit is all.”
“I didn’t think their relationship went that way.”
Belinda: “Well it doesn’t as far as I know, but despite his intentions Doug did save her from what was sure to be a bad situation. He has kept her as a slave, but treats her nice so it’s no surprise she has a least a little bit of feelings for him.”
“Under the circumstances I don’t know if you should encourage that kind of behavior though.”
Belinda: “Well you are one to talk!”
“I’m sorry, you’re right…”
Belinda: “No… I should be sorry. I didn’t mean to snap at you like that. It’s just frustrating. You finally found your way back home to me, but it’s like you’re still not here. Then you will say or do something exactly the same way Two-Twelve always did and there is the short rush of excitement only for it to come crashing down again. I just miss you so much…” –She says as she starts to tear up.-
I don’t know what to say or do, so I simply walk over and put my hand on her head. When I do she buries her head into my chest and begins to cry while wrapping her arms around me. There is little else I can do so I let her just let it all out.
After a few minutes she finally lets me go standing back up straight. With the dress and make-up still in her hands she wipes her eyes with the back of her hand.
Belinda: “I’m sorry…”
“Look I know it must be hard on you. I know I would give anything just too even be able to just hold Listel again, so I can’t make any promises, but if you just don’t want to be alone. You can stay here tonight.”
Belinda: “You really wouldn’t mind?”
“I did kind of steal this body from your husband, so it seems like the least I can do.”
Belinda: “I’m going to go give this stuff to Aria real quick and I will be right back ok?”
Belinda then quickly makes her way out of the room. I don’t know what I am doing anymore…But I couldn’t just leave her with that look on her face. I seem to be getting nervous the longer Belinda is gone.
If she is going to be sleeping with me, maybe I should at least put on some pants. I quickly scramble to put on some pants and then there is another soft knock on the door. Belinda hasn’t been gone that long, but when I answer the door her hair is now loose and she is out of her traveling clothes and wearing a modest pair of pajamas.
The most sensual part of the outfit is the fact the last button on the shirt is just above her navel so rest of the shirt is just loose fitting, and the bottoms are even full baggy pants, but I can’t help to grow even more nervous when she walks in the room in them.
After I close the door Belinda looks over at the bed and back towards me and chuckles saying. “Is it weird that I am kind of nervous right now?”
That doesn’t help my nerves at all… But I try to act like it doesn’t bother me as I say. “Well technically I am still Two-Twelve, I just don’t remember anything, so just think of me as him and it should be alright.”
She begins to blush as she says. “I think that makes it worse…”
“You slept with your head on my shoulder the other night, and it wasn’t a big deal. If we think about it too much we are just going to lose sleep over it.”
She nods and then we head to bed. After several awkward apologies later we finally have settled in to bed comfortably with her laying on my arm, with her head on my shoulder, and one leg wrapped around mine.
I am sure I can’t fake it now as I can feel her heart beating very quickly I am sure she can feel mine doing the same. When I pull the blanket over us my arm brushes against her and I can feel the cold chills pop up on her arm. She lightly giggles which I would say causes my heart to skip a beat but within which the speed its beating it’s more like 4 or 5 beats.
With her scent filling me with every breath, the heat of her body, and the beating of her heart I can’t say sleep comes easy, but when it finally does it feels more relaxing then I can ever recall. I dream of Belinda, I can’t remember what the dream is about, but I know it was about her.
When I finally open my eyes Belinda is lying with her chin on my chest just staring up at me with a quaint smile on her face.
Belinda: “Good morning.~”
I run my hand through her hair it’s not quite as thick as Listel’s hair, but it is at least twice as soft. I then sit up and Belinda crawls out of bed. I don’t know how long she was awake, but she seems to be fully dressed now instead of being in her pajamas. She moves over to the mirror while putting on of her long ribbons in her mouth she stars to work on her hair.
I recall something like that happening in the past, but the ribbon was a different color, and I don’t think she was wearing clothes at the time. Maybe it was just that dream I had or maybe it’s some of Two-Twelve’s memories, but I can’t help but to just stare.
It doesn’t seem like it has past her notice either as I have seen her smile get bigger every time she peaks over her shoulder through the mirror back at me. When she starts to make the finishing touches to her hair I slide to the edge of the bed opening [Menu] and after a few moments I am set and ready to go.
“Did you sleep well?”
Belinda: “Thanks to you, I got the best sleep I have had in quite a while.”
“For as little as it is worth I am glad I was at least able to help a little bit. It looks like I slept in a bit though so we better hurry.”
Belinda: “I didn’t want to wake you so I sent a message to the others, they should all be waiting for us with Azami now, so if you are ready we can go collect them and leave right away.”
After Belinda and I transfer to the edge of the forest Belinda is beaming while Zoey has a mischievous smile on her face, but Roxy quickly elbows her. With a quick cast of [Gate] we return to the dungeon.
Over the course of the next few hours we continue to make our way through the dungeon, and even for being so early in the morning there are quite a few adventurer groups already about as we run in to one about every four or five rooms.
Most of them seem to be gathering for their commissions in the area they are in so we leave them behind as we progress deeper. Zoey and Azami have managed to gain a few more levels but they are the only ones.
“I think we will start hitting the orcs soon, so I want to check to see if we can get this cuff to work so I can gain xp.”
We check what my xp is in my status screen and then I have Belinda activate the cuff, and I watch as my status screen becomes blank. I check several other menus and they still work fine, but when I pull out Two-Twelve’s adventurer’s ID it is blank as well. I then pull out Arngrim’s ID and it has his number, home location, and number of completed commissions, but everything else is the same as what Two-Twelve’s was displaying.
We then continue to work our way through the dungeon traveling through several more groups of the hobgoblin heroes, and hobgoblin magi before I have Belinda disable the cuff and check on the results. Arngrim’s ID has become blank again, while both of Two-Twelve’s display information and my status screen fills out with information again.
Even without my appearance or name being changed by the cuff it still seems to allow me to gain xp like a normal dungeon monster. Hopefully soon we can start testing out other items with the enchantments to see what works best. As it stands the elders are sure to know I am playing around with it before too long.
I ask Belinda to reactive the cuff, but this time when she does I feel something tickle my nose. I take my helmet off and rub my face, and I have a rather thick but well-groomed beard and mustache.
“What is this?”
Belinda: “I was just curious what you would look like with it…”
“Please ask first before changing things on my body, but this won’t affect anything so just leave till we are done.”
Zoey: “Next time just do the mustache, the beard is too much.”
Belinda: “I think your right.”
I sigh and put my helmet back on and we then resume our training. It takes us the rest of the day but we finally reach the 26th floor and encounter our first group of orcs. By fighting the hobgoblins Zoey and Azami have already reached level 10 again. I was a little worried about Zoey, but even against the group of orcs she doesn’t have any problems although she is having a bit of trouble getting used to using magic but once she does she quickly surpasses Belinda.
Belinda: “It’s not fair… I think I am your weakest boss monster now.”
Zoey: “Now you know how I felt.”
“Don’t worry Belinda once your skills start to rank up you will catch up to the others again.”
Belinda: “So should we [Gate] back home now?”
“I wanted to get more orcs killed, but I guess we can start fresh in the morning.”
At the end of the third day we have finally reached the level of the dungeon where we can start our training. After everyone is ready we return home and I have Belinda disable the cuff. When I head to bed I half expected for Belinda to return again tonight, but it doesn’t look like she is going to, and I think I am actually disappointed.
Belinda’s scent has returned to the bed, but it is not as near as strong as it was before, so it doesn’t affect me much while I drift off to sleep. When I wake up early and prepare I start to think we will finally begin to get our training in, but I receive a message that may derail us quite a bit.
Dyson: “Madam Erin and I have been talking about you after your number disappeared from the Dungeon Core Information yesterday. We would like to meet with you to discuss the progress you have made in understanding the items Laura placed on you.”
“My monsters and I are currently training, and it would be rather inconvenient at this time to drop it to meet with you.”
Dyson: “May I remind you about our agreement, and the help I sent you after your disappearance.”
Dyson: “And bring the collar and cuff with you. Someone will be along shortly to collect you.”
I thought I had more time, are they really watching me so closely? Well I decide to head downstairs and inform the others. When I reach the entryway of the house they have all their gear prepared.
“Change of plans. The elders already found out about using the cuff and want to meet with me, so you guys can have some breakfast. Hopefully this won’t take long, and let Azami know what is going on.”
Zoey: “Yes!” –She says as she makes a dash to towards the dining room.-
Belinda: “You think they are going to be mad at you for using it?”
“They don’t really have a reason too, but they might try to take it away, and if they really try there isn’t much I can do.”
About that time there is a knock at the door.
Belinda: “Please be careful…”
I nod and answer the door, I am not quite sure what I expected… But I wasn’t expecting Madam Erin herself, so when I see her I am quite surprised.
Madam Erin: “Don’t worry princess I will have the pup back before long.”
“Well like I told Dyson I am quite busy at the moment, so if you please can we get on with it?”
Madam Erin: “Well you are quite snippier then you used to be.”
“Can you blame me? After everything I went through only for the elders to tell me “too bad” and “tough luck”, but now that they want something they are knocking at my door again.”
Madam Erin: “Well fine then. Let’s get to it then.”
Madam Erin leads me out of the house and to the edge of town back behind the girls’ houses. Drawing some ruins on a tree a portal opens up and Madam Erin shoves me though. She follows me and we arrive in a small stone room with three archways with runes on them.
Madam Erin: “Alright, I’ll let Dyson know we are ready now.”
After a few seconds she then erases some runes on one of the archways and fills it out till a portal opens and Dyson steps though.
Madam Erin: “Welcome to my little abode, why don’t we go somewhere a bit more comfortable and have a chat.”
Madam Erin then leads Dyson and me through a few hallways and opens a plain looking wooden door. On the inside is a small room with a few seats. After we head in and sit down Dyson is the first to speak.
Dyson: “Still living rather simply I see.”
Madam Erin: “I don’t get as many visitors as the great Dyson, so no need to waste xp on pointless things.”
Dyson: “So first matter at hand. How are you holding up? Any of your memories return?” –He says turning his attention to me.-
“A few random pieces here and there, but they are all jumbled together and I can’t make heads or tails from most of it.”
Madam Erin: “What about Laura? Have you heard from her or seen anything suspicious around your dungeon since your return?”
“Not that I know of, I upped the security in my dungeon a bit after returning, but not enough that would stop Laura if she wanted to cause a problem.”
Dyson: “Yes a griffon and an earth dragon quite a feat for someone your age.”
“Well I gathered a bit of xp while under Listel’s care.”
Dyson: “It sounds like it. Now on to the other matter, did you bring the collar and cuff?”
“I didn’t really have a choice did I?” –I say while casting [Shadow-pocket] pulling the items out.-
Dyson: “I assume you added them to your inventory to see if you could duplicate them?”
“Well I didn’t know about that at first and had stored them already, and I learned to summon quite a few new items when I returned so I haven’t managed to see if I could replicate it or not.” –I say while handing both items over to Dyson.-
Dyson: “I see.”
Dyson takes the items holding them in front of him he then appears to be looking through a screen. He sets the collar down and continues to stare straight ahead. He then sets the cuff down and sighs.
Dyson: “The collar is normal enough, just the basic slave collar with a mind alter enchantment, but the cuff is a jumbled mess and I can’t make any of it out. Whoever made it definitely knew what they were doing.”
Madam Erin: “So what have you been able to discover about it so far?”
“Pretty much just how to turn it on and off.”
Dyson: “Care to demonstrate it for us?”
“Well not on myself, and I am sure you don’t want me to put it on either of you.”
Dyson: “Well Madam Erin it’s your dungeon, do you mind?”
Madam Erin: “will a mudkip suffice?”
Dyson: “Not another one of them hideous little creatures. Since we are inconveniencing Two-Twelve why not making it something else he can add to his collection.”
Madam Erin: “I already gave him a dwarf.”
Dyson: “I gave him the human and sent that elf to help track him down.”
Madam Erin: “And don’t think I won’t hold that elf against you when the time is right.”
“Well if it matters, the elf became a boss monster so I am still unable to summon elves.”
Dyson: “There you go give him another elf.”
Madam Erin: “Favored element of earth remember, and elves require wind.”
Dyson: “Earth is the worst. All of the earth based species are quite bland.”
Madam Erin: “I thought all you cared for were your precious humans anyway.”
Dyson: “All the women Two-Twelve summon are quite interesting I have actually been considering trading him for one of his beastkin.”
Madam Erin: “I never thought I would see the day.”
“I thought you said this wouldn’t take long…”
Madam Erin: “Fine you think I can’t summon something that can get your jolly’s off. They don’t call me Madam Erin for nothing.”
Dyson: “I’ll take that bet.”
While Madam Erin begins to pound away on a screen I start to wonder if they even remember I am here. When Madam Erin is done the monster she summons causes Dyson to smirk.
I am not sure exactly what she is but she has got to be the most gorgeous female specimen that has ever roamed the earth. She is quite tall but her proportions are perfect, her hair is do dark it would give Dyson’s armor a run for its money, and long it flows all the way to her heels. Her skin is like caramel and her eyes are a blue as Belinda’s.
At first I think she may be a beastkin of some kind due to short horns that curve back on top of her head, but her tail is flesh with a tip like a spade, and she has a large pair of bat like wings growing from her back. When Madam Erin clothes her the outfit, if you want to call it that, would make a brothel girl blush.
Dyson: “A succubus? That’s quite impressive, but not exactly an earth monster is it?”
Madam Erin: “I said I could make one that could even impress you I said nothing about it being an earthen race.”
Dyson: “That being said isn’t that a little advanced even for Two-Twelve?”
Madam Erin: “Damn you! I got wrapped up in it I forgot what we were even doing this for.”
Dyson: “Well regardless it should still at least serve our purpose. Maybe afterwards we could come to an agreement for a trade.”
Madam Erin: “You have your humans. I think I’ll keep her around for a while just to spite you.”
“That’s nice and all, but I would really like to get this over with so I can return to my training…”
Dyson: “Maybe I could just borrow her then? You are Madam Erin after all.”
Madam Erin: “This is going to eat you up isn’t it? I’m going to enjoy this.”
Madam Erin: “Fine fine pup put your little cuff on her and show us what you got.”
I place the cuff on the girl, and active it, but nothing happens.
Dyson: “Well what’s supposed to happen?”
“Is she in your monster list?”
Madam Erin seems to be scanning a screen with her eyes, and then says. “I don’t see her anywhere.”
“Well there you go.”
Dyson: “That’s it?”
“Well what did you expect? When I was wearing it and it was active I am removed from Dungeon Core Information and even my adventurer’s ID was different.”
Dyson: “What about your appearance?”
I then deactivate the cuff and reactivate it this time trying to change the girl’s appearance. Now the room has two Madam Erin’s in it, but one is wearing the scantly looking clothing.
Madam Erin: “If you wanted to see what I looked like in that get up all you had to do was ask.”
“Sorry… I didn’t think that through very well.” –I say while disabling the cuff again.-
Dyson: “So you can control the appearance when you active it?”
“That’s about what I got out of it.”
Madam Erin: “That’s all you got?”
“I only had one day to work with it because you two were in a rush to have a meeting.”
Dyson: “Hmm. I honestly thought there would be more to it than that. If that was all it did how did Laura prevent your escape?”
“That was a different collar all together, but Listel removed that one before she sent me back.”
Madam Erin: “Damnit then this was all a waste?”
“You’re the ones that called the meeting, and didn’t give me any choice in the matter.”
Dyson sighs. “Mind if I keep the items for a while to look into it more?”
“You can keep the collar, but I still want to do more investigating on the cuff myself.”
Dyson: “Do I have to remind you of our agreement?”
“You are demanding I hand it over not offering me anything worthwhile in return, so even by the agreement I have no reason to turn it over.”
Madam Erin: “Let him go. You can always just keep an eye on him with [Observation].”
I then remove the cuff from the girl.
Dyson: “So about the succubus.”
“Fine I am leaving…”
Madam Erin and Dyson seem to begin bickering and not even paying attention to me so I use [Gate] to return home. Looks like I managed to hold on to it at least for a bit longer… We really need to see if I can reproduce it.
When I enter the dining room Belinda seems relieved to see me.
Belinda: “You made it back alright?”
“Luckily they found something more interesting to bicker about so I was able to duck out. I don’t know how long I am going to be able to hold on to the cuff though, especially if Dyson starts watching our movements he is sure to notice I am going to be leveling too quickly.”
It’s a late start, but we decide to resume our training now, I have Belinda activate the cuff and we return to the Ruined Colosseum Dungeon.