Chapter 90: Training Interruption

After reentering the Ruined Colosseum Dungeon after my meeting with Dyson and Madam Erin our training really begins. Zoey and Azami are leveling at a breakneck speed, Roxy and Belinda have even managed to gain a few, but unfortunately I still have yet to gain a single level.

We have been sticking to the same floors the last couple of days only encountering one other group of adventurers the entire time, but once the orcs seem to no longer be enough to keep the group leveling, we move deeper.

At the 30th floor the orcs and orc magi give way to orc brutes and orc mystics but there are still no ogres in sight. Even after a full week of training, and reaching as deep as the 34th floor, we are making far less progress then I would have hoped.

Azami and Zoey both have reached level 20 and that maxed out a quite a number of their skills, so leveling them up further without teaching them more skills might actually do more harm than good as it has with Belinda and Roxy.

Once we progress to the 35th floor the ogres begin to appear, but only after 1 day of working on the ogres we are interrupted.

Female voice: “Two-Twelve! What is it you are playing at?”

Needless to say the voice startles all of us, we quickly turn and find several well-armed beastkin men and one small girl in-between them. I call her a girl because of her height, but in truth her face and voice are both quite mature. She appears to be either some kind of beastkin or maybe even a succubus, like the one Madam Erin summoned, but I am just basing that on the bat-like wings, and don’t see any horns or tail.

“I’m sorry do I know you?”

Woman: “Is that how you want to do this? You look to have made quite a bit of progress since we last met, but you are still ages away from my ability.”

Belinda: “Wait, there seems to be a misunderstanding.”

Woman: “And who are you?”

Belinda: “Belinda Gowen, and Two-Twelve’s wife.”

Woman: “Wife she says… Dungeon cores live much too long to be trapped in something as mundane as human marriage.”

Belinda: “Dungeon core… Then you are?”

Woman: “That’s right, this is my dungeon.”

“My apologies I didn’t realize that Two-Twelve had some kind of agreement with this dungeon.”

Woman: “Two-Twelve… What are you talking about?”

Belinda: “Well if you are one of the dungeon cores then you heard about Two-Twelve’s disappearance.”

Woman: “Of course. That was you wasn’t it the one sending the message to all the other dungeon cores?”

Belinda: “Yes… Well it turns out Laura was the one that took him, and among other things he lost most of his memory.”

Woman: “What is she babbling about Two-Twelve?”

“What she is saying is true… So if we have met or had an agreement, I don’t remember it. I did think Belinda knew of all of Two-Twelve’s agreements though.”

Woman: “Interesting… You don’t recall the elder selection process at all then?”

Belinda: “Elder selection… Then you were one of the other judges? Then you were the one that was dead set against Dyson. Bless was it?”

Bless: “That’s right.”

Belinda: “I’m sorry. We didn’t know this was your dungeon.”

Bless: “That doesn’t change the fact you entered my home and destroyed my monsters. What are you going to do about that?”

“Well as far as damages go we haven’t seemed to kill any monsters that were not rift monsters so there hasn’t really been any damage, but if we have broken an agreement you held with me. As long as it’s reasonable we can talk about compensation.”

Bless: “No, I don’t like you, but you are a straight arrow so I won’t lie. We had no agreement, but perhaps you can so something for me for the headache your bumbling around in my dungeon caused.”

“If we have no agreement, I don’t see a problem.”

Belinda: “We could at least hear her out. You wouldn’t ask for less if someone else entered our dungeon.”

“Very well.”

Bless: “Don’t act like you are doing me any favors. You may be Dyson’s little pet, but being in my dungeon means that even he couldn’t kick up a fuss if I decided to end you here.”

“But doing you a favor is exactly what you asked of us.”

Bless: “Fine then.” –She raises her hand and the beastkin draw their weapons.-

Belinda: “Wait! Just tell us… What is it you want?”

Bless: “There that’s better.” –She says while lowering her arm and the beastkin sheath their weapons again. – “All I want is some information. Dyson has been an elder two years already yet he still hasn’t made any power grabs. I was sure by now he would have done something, so since you are his pet and all maybe you can tell me his plan?”

“Again, I have lost my memory, so even if I did know what his plan was I don’t any longer. Besides he doesn’t seem the type to have a hidden agenda. He seems to me to be the type that would tell you exactly what he plans to do, then does it.”

Bless: “Fine then, if you can’t be of use to me then just get out of my dungeon.”

I cast [Gate] and we retreat returning to Exolian.

“Well that didn’t go well.”

Belinda: “She let us leave, so that is something.”

“Well it doesn’t look like we will be able to train there any longer, so I guess we should turn in the commissions we have and then make our way to the capital. We didn’t achieve anything worthwhile enough for the queen to take notice of, but with Zoey and Azami’s level gains I feel we are better suited to do something that would get her attention.”

We head to the adventurer’s guild and turn in our commissions. It is still a bit early but we decide to call it a day anyway and head back to Tobes and get a fresh start tomorrow.

Belinda: “How about we invite everyone over and have a big dinner? I could even see if Logan and Amy are free, and swing by the capital to bring them by. After all Amy seems to be the biggest thing you have remembered, so maybe seeing her again could help jog some more of your memories.”

Zoey: “Belinda’s cooking? I’m all for it!”

Roxy: “Are you saying my cooking isn’t good enough?”

Zoey:  “Good enough? Yes. As good as Belinda’s? I love you, but no.”

Roxy: “Well we will just see what you get tonight then…”

Zoey: “That’s not fair!”

Azami: “If you’ll excuse me. I will pass, and return to the forest.”

Belinda: “Come on Azami… You haven’t even had dinner with everyone… Not even once.”

Azami: “If you order me to stay I must, but I ask you to please respect my wishes.”

Belinda: “Of course… I just thought we were finally getting to know you better, and it would be nice for you to be part of the family too.”

Azami: “I killed my actual family for my own gain, and joined you for the same. Would you really want someone such as that as family?”

Belinda: “Your circumstances were not good. Nobody blamed you for what happened. Your sister and Milano even tried to get you to stay with them.”

Azami: “The initial shock of my return hadn’t worn off. Once it did they would then begin to resent me for what I did.”

Belinda: “Is that why you told Milano to move on?

Azami: “I did what must be done, but the results meant I would always be feared after that. I still however have no regrets. Either that or I have no regrets because even though I will be feared by them now I know I did what must be done.”

Belinda: “Azami….” –She says while pulling Azami’s head into her chest hugging her.-

Azami looks at me with an odd expression while her face is contorted between Belinda’s hands and breastplate of her armor. “May I return to the forest now?”

“It’s alright Belinda, let her go.”

Belinda appears to want to argue but eventually nods releasing Azami. Azami straightens her clothes and simple says. “Thank you.” Then she transfers from the house.

Belinda: “You think it’s alright for her to be alone right now? She thinks she is a horrible person…”

“The truth is she has thought that way for the last dozen or so years, so one conversation won’t help. If you really want to help her though don’t give up on her and eventually she may come around.”

Belinda then pulls my head into her chest and I realize Azami’s expression… This is actually quite uncomfortable.

Zoey: “If boss wants to be alone we could always head home.”

“No.” –I say pulling myself from Belinda.- “It’s alright if Belinda is going to prepare a meal, then I will go check to see how the bunnies are coming along in the core room.”

Belinda: “You’ll eat with us this time won’t you?”

“Well on the off chance that the stuff I tried before was just not to my liking I can’t say I am that much like Two-Twelve unless I try more of your cooking can I?”

This seems to make Belinda happy as she says. “Alright, I will pull out all the stops and make my very best dishes.” She then disappears through into the dining room.

Roxy: “It seems even without your memories you can always find the right thing to say to her to cheer her up.”

“Well it is likely to only be temporary, as I assume she will be disappointed when I don’t like the food.”

Roxy: “Who’s to say? Belinda is a curious individual… Well in any case I better go help her, or at least make sure she takes her armor off before getting started.”

Zoey: “And she will need someone to taste test!”

They then both disappear into the dining room as well. I guess Two-Twelve could have done worse. Their hearts seem to be in the right place at least. I then transfer up to the core room.

Lilah: “Master is back early.”

“We ran into a bit of a problem with the dungeon core. Apparently I knew her and she didn’t take kindly to our visit.”

Lylah: “Everyone returned ok though, right?”

“Yes we didn’t have to fight her, but it looks like we might have to train somewhere else, so how is it going with the dungeon?”

Lila: “We have had to replace 3 skeleton heroes, 2 Lizardman Chieftains, and 1 of the medium flame elementals, but when the xp we have acquired from the adventurers it hasn’t been a problem. One group made an attempt at the dragon but we gathered their xp and gear. None yet have made an attempt on the griffon although quite a few have made it to the room.”

“What about the main section of the dungeon.”

Lilah: “Nobody has made it past the dragonkin still.”

Lylah: “With master adding the dark steel gear to the lizard men and skeletons more adventurers enter everyday trying to get a set. Replacing them is getting quite costly.”

“You said they killed some of the small creatures in the boss room, but have they come anywhere close to taking out the bosses?”

Lilah: “No master.”

“Alright let’s see if we can tempt some adventurers then.”

I open [Menu]. Mythril swords were a big deal in Exeter and Uthaira, so I see about summoning some. Most screens in [Menu] seem natural even the [Observation] screen that is unique to Dyson and myself, so it seems even though I don’t remember it I still seem to just know Two-Twelve’s [Menu]. When I start to summon one of the swords, I want the swords to look flashier to draw the adventurer’s eyes, so when I start to focus on changing the details of the items I notice something that doesn’t seem familiar at all.

Due to the effects of Advanced Summoning skill:
Critical Success chance during summoning 1%
Critical Success will result in [Devastating Mythril Longsword.]
Non-Critical Success will result in [Keen Mythril Blade]

“You girls can use my skills that affect the dungeon right?”

Lilah: “Of course Master.”

“When I tried to change the details of an item I summoned it showed me the chances of a critical success and even the standard item has and enchantment on it.”

Lylah: “Master is the one that always giving things fancy designs, and we aren’t good at it so we have just been summoning them without changing the details.”

“I guess I should have paid closer to Two-Twelve’s skills. If I used this when I added to the dungeon before it could have made some of the things I summoned much better.”

I summon 5 mythril swords, with no critical successes, resulting in 2 [Keen Mythril Blade]s, and 3 [Ever-Sharp Mythril Sword]s. This adds the [Keen Edge] enchantment as a new enchantment available to add to items.

I then add a weight activator to a wall mount in each of the boss rooms placing the swords as the counter weight. I add heavy metal doors to the activator so now if adventurer’s try to get the swords they will be trapped in the boss rooms.

Lilah: “Master used a lot of xp again…”

“If the adventurers are making it to the boss rooms, but not tempted into trying to fight the bosses.  Then maybe the swords will be enough to at least bring them in, and after they take them off the wall their xp is ours.”

Lilah: “What if they make it through the room?”

“Well it’s you three’s jobs that see to it that they don’t, but if this brings in even stronger adventurer’s and they manage to get ahold of one we might add more rooms.”

Lylah: “We will do our best Master!”

“Also, Belinda is making dinner for tonight, and she seemed pretty excited.”

Bunnies: “Yay! ~”

Using the rest of the xp we have been bringing home this past week I summon a handful of rings, testing out different combinations of the enchantments that I assume are on the cuff. With advanced summoning and dungeon jewelcrafting skills even the most mundane ring comes out looking like a masterpiece, and I end up with a bunch of unintended side effects.

[Hearty Slave Ring] Ring binding another as a slave giving them excellent stamina. If one places the ring on another’s hand it binds them with a [Binding Contract]. Through exceptional craftsmanship the ring also grants +25 Endurance.

[Band of Disguise] A ring that allows to wearer to change their appearance once a day, but the effects last as long as the ring is worn. Through exceptional craftsmanship the ring also grants the wearer minor traits of those in which their appearance is taken.

[Ring of Second Life] A ring that grants the wearer a single altered identity for as long as the ring is worn. Through exceptional craftsmanship the ring grants and additional benefit. If killed while wearing the ring, the ring will break leaving the corpse of the altered identity behind while causing the wearer to [Blink] to safety with ¼ max hp.

[Ring of the Faceless] While wearing the ring the wearer can prevent others from being able to discern your identity. Through exceptional craftsmanship it grants the wearer the ability of [Suggestion] to another that looks at the wearer. The effect only lasts as long as the affected has visual contact with the wearer.

[Band of Another] A ring that allows the wearing to truly become another, and on first use the wearer chooses their characteristics. Once chosen the effects cannot be changed and the wearers status will match the chosen characteristics. As long as the ring is warn the only abilities usable are that of the created identity. Through exceptional craftsmanship the ring can be broken down by the wearer destroying the created identity, but allowing the wearer to acquire a portion of the created identity’s abilities.

[Accursed Band] A ring that holds its own soul, when placed on the hand of another the ring takes over becoming a being only to serve the one in which placed the ring. The ring cannot be removed and if destroyed both the ring and the host will die.

New Enchantments Available:

[Hearty] Item cost x3 or 5000xp whichever is less (2000xp minimum)
[Sentience] Item cost x5 or 50,000xp whichever is less (40,000xp minimum)*
[Preservation]
Item cost x10 or 150,000xp whichever is less (50,000xp minimum)
*Creating an item with sentience gives it a will of its own. Depending on the item at which the enchantment is placed determines the intellect and abilities of said sentient item.

The first ring was just a test but the [Hearty] enchantment is nice. The [Band of Disguise] is just appearance so that probably isn’t what we need, and the [Band of Another] is going too far, but interesting all the same. If any of these are going to work my bet is on the [Ring of Second Life] or the [Ring of the Faceless].

Even though the [Accursed Band] added the ability to make sentient items, the ring itself is quite troublesome. I almost break it back down on the spot, but I might actually have an idea in which it may be useful. For now I just restrict access so nobody else can remove it from the dungeon inventory just to be on the safe side, and then store it.

I then store all the other rings but the [Ring of Second Life] and the [Ring of the Faceless]. I only have one chance with the ring of second life, so I start off with the [Ring of the Faceless]. Taking out one of Two-Twelve’s IDs, Arngrim’s ID, and flipping open Dungeon Core Information to Two-Twelve’s page I then place the ring on my finger.

Nothing seems to change, Arngrim’s ID is still blank, Two-Twelve’s ID, Two-Twelve’s  Dungeon Core Information page are still filled, and I can’t tell any difference in wearing the ring either. One of the bunnies has apparently noticed though causing her to jump.

Lylah: “Master?!”

The other two turn at Lylah’s reaction and they jump as well but after I tell them it’s me they relax.

“So what do I look like?”

Lilah: “Master looks normal now, but before… Master didn’t look different, but Lilah seemed to not be able to recognize Master as Master.”

“I can’t tell if this one will work for my purposes or not. I guess I will just have to wait till we start training again and see.”

Lilah then returns to paying attention to the dungeon then quickly sigh.

Lilah: “Master used up the rest of the extra xp…”

“Well if this works it will be worth it.”

The [Ring of Second Life] says it only can make one identity so I just put that in my [Shadow-pocket] and play around with the [Ring of the Faceless] a little bit. I decide to try to play a prank on Belinda but end up with some burns, a knot on my head, and a good scolding after I try to sneak up on her and she hits me with a cooking pan.

“I’m sorry…”

Belinda: “I have to start the sauce over again because of that stunt. If it’s not ready by the time Logan arrives you will be!

-While rubbing the knot on my head.- “Does that mean Roxy and Zoey went to go get him?”

Belinda: “Yes and they should be back shortly so go change.”

“What’s wrong with what I got on?”

Belinda: “Other than the fact it has sauce all over it now?”

I cast [Clean] on myself. “All better. See?”

Belinda: “Come on Two-Twelve. Please go put on something nice…”

I sigh and retreat to my bedroom. I go through the clothing and I don’t really know which to choose, but eventually I select something and change. Before I make it back to the kitchen I can hear several voices so it appears Roxy and Zoey have returned.

When I enter the dining room and bump into someone. She is about the height of Lilah but with olive colored hair and a large puffy squirrel tail.

“Sorry Amy…”

Amy: “I thought you lost your memory?”

“We were expecting you for one, so how wouldn’t I know who the mean looking squirrel in my house. Besides for some reason I have recalled quite a few memories about you. Although they are still don’t make much sense.”

She scowls at me and says. “You’re not just faking this to cover the fact you cheated on your wife are you?”

“I didn’t cheat on my wife… Well I guess I kind of did… It’s complicated.”

Amy: “Complicated or not I can tell this is eating Belinda up inside. I told her it was a mistake to trust some monster. If you don’t make this right I will make you regret it!”

“You do know I am a hero 4 times over now don’t you?”

Amy: “So? You still have to sleep sometime.”

“Well I have no intention of hurting Belinda, but without my memories faking it would be worse, and I can’t change what has already happened. I will do what I can though.”

Amy: “Just remember what I said…”

She looks like she is about to say something else but is interrupted by another voice.

Logan: “Hey! There he is… Glad to see you made it home.”

“You must be Logan. I would say it’s nice to meet you, but you know…”

Logan: “You seem to look alright, and be in good spirits so that is the important part. We were really worried about you for a while there.”

Amy quietly disappears back into the kitchen while Logan coaxes me into one of the chairs in the large dining room.

Logan: “I can’t even imagine what it would be like. Of course there are a few youthful indiscretions I wish I could forget.” –He says and laughs.-

“It’s quite the odd feeling almost as if I am two people in one body. I know I am Two-Twelve, but I sometimes even have trouble admitting it to myself.”

Logan: “Enough about the bad stuff. I heard you came back a hero. Several times over at that!”

“From what I understand the quick rise in strength was supposed to help with the conditioning. Honestly if it wasn’t for what Listel did there at the end I would still be there now.”

Logan: “I met her once… Just before she came to the dungeon here in Tobes the first time…”

“She was definitely something…”

Logan: “Oh I also heard you brought home a fancy mythril sword! First Queen with her swords and armor, then my sister’s armor, now even you… I’m really getting left behind.”

I know he is just trying to steer the conversation in a more positive way, but it isn’t like it is something I want to talk about anyway so I let it be.

“Would you like to see it?”

Logan: “Oh man, would I…? Queen doesn’t let me touch hers anymore after I accidently cut one of her chairs in two.”

I cast [Shadow-pocket] reaching past the line pulling out the sword, and hand it to Logan. Logan then stands up swinging it around a bit.

Logan: “I guess with all the gold we have made from the communication parchment I could probably afford one now, but I guess I’ll just have to leave the adventuring to you and my sister.”

“How are things going with the war?”

Logan: “With you back the tension has gone down a lot. If there was any chance Longolia was responsible for your disappearance, then father wouldn’t make any deals. Although finding out Southern Merretta was behind it is somewhat more troubling. King Aaron has been so passive since he took control of Southern Merretta.”

Logan seems to wear a troubled expression while setting my sword down on the table.

“I’m not sure why they wanted me, but I don’t think they will try to do anything else to Gowen.”

Logan: “I hope your right. Although I am sure Queen would enjoy it. She seems almost disappointed that the hostility with Longolia has slowed down.”

I don’t know what else to say, so things get a little awkward for a few minutes, but luckily Belinda walks in the room.

Belinda: “Why is there a sword on the table?”

Logan jumps up apologizing while I store away the sword.

Logan: “It’s my fault sis, he was just showing me his mythril sword.”

Belinda then sets a plater she is carrying on the table and then disappears back into the kitchen. Gathering everyone for dinner is kind of nice. The only one that doesn’t seem to be enjoying themselves is Belinda’s sister.

Belinda looks on hopeful while I eat, and I am not sure if she is relieved or disappointed when I don’t really find anything to my liking. After dinner when everyone slowly begins to depart Logan stops Kline as he and Scylla begin to depart.

Logan: “Miss Scylla, do you mind if I borrow Kline for a few hours? After all there is cause for celebration.”

Scylla smiles sweetly and say. “Just don’t keep him out to late he gets grumpy when he doesn’t get his sleep.”

Logan: “You don’t have to tell me that.”

They both laugh and then Logan continues.

Logan: “So what do you say Doug? Two-Twelve? Why don’t the four of us hit the town and catch up.”

“I’m sorry, we are going to be doing quite a bit of traveling tomorrow, so I better head to bed.”

Belinda: “Like you said it’s just traveling, so why don’t you go?”

Doug: “Yea, come on!”

“Fine… But just for a little bit.”

Logan: “That’s the ticket.”

Logan grabs Kline and me dragging us out the door while Doug follows happily along. Scylla and Belinda look on with smiles on their faces. People really seemed to respect Two-Twelve but I didn’t realize how much until passing through town with the first prince of the kingdom. They bow to him out of respect, but even he seems to take a backseat while they ask how I am recovering showing genuine concern.

Once we arrive at the tavern Logan quickly orders us all rounds.

“You know we have a bar at the house, we could have just stayed in and done this.”

Logan: “Even without your memories you haven’t changed you used to say the same thing all the time, but it’s good to be out surrounded with your people.”

“You mean your people. I’m not even mayor anymore.”

Logan: “Well father and I are hoping you will take back up the mantle soon. After all once the problem with Longolia is resolved, I would never admit it to her face, but we will need Mindy back at the capital to help get us back on the post war recovery.”

Logan then takes and finishes his drink ordering us all another while changing the subject.

Logan: “But enough about boring stuff like that. Kline! I thought you were going to die a grumpy old man all alone, but now married with a kid on the way. How’s it feel to be a daddy?”

Kline: “It is still a ways off, and I don’t think it has even dawned on me yet. Seeing how excited it makes Scylla though makes it all the worth it.”

Logan: “And what about you Doug? I heard from a little bird that you and that girl of yours are growing quite close?”

Doug: “Aria? She is very nice, and no offense to Kline, but she is just a beastkin though.”

Logan: “What’s wrong with that? And don’t try to use the slave card either because look at Two-Twelve, father welcomed him with open arms. Have I ever told you how Kline’s family came to serve ours?”

Kline: “Young Master!”

Logan: “We are all among family! Besides if it happened this day and age I could proudly call you cousin instead of a servant.”

Doug: “I don’t understand.”

Logan: “Right after Gowen’s founding our great great grandfather fell in love with a young beastkin woman. Of course that was before it was considered acceptable and with the kingdom just founding he had to take another to be his wife. He never did stop loving her though, and so their children and grandchildren wouldn’t be abandoned they joined the family the only way they could, by a servant’s pact.”

Doug: “So Kline and Amy…”

Logan: “That’s right, they are blood relatives albeit a few times removed. That is the reason father placed Amy with Belinda, not because of Mindy and Tanya’s whining, but because she was the only one that would treat her with respect.”

Doug: “Then Belinda knows?”

Logan: “I highly doubt it, I don’t think even Mindy knows.”

Doug: “It doesn’t matter. Aria doesn’t feel that way, besides I made a promise to you and father. After two more years I will have to marry someone father chooses.”

Logan: “There is nothing to say you can’t convince father to choose who you want.”

After that we continue drinking for a while, Logan keeps asking Kline what Scylla and him are going to name the baby, and such. Logan and Kline get pretty drunk but Doug ends up passing out with his head lying on the table. Even I have had a few more then I care to admit.

Once I receive the start of day message I decide it’s time we should start making our way back. We are drunk enough even between the three of us we can’t manage Doug, so I send Belinda a message to give us a hand.

When she arrives to help she has a stern look on her face, and Logan tries to crawl away. Eventually we make it to the house where Scylla takes Kline home, we get Doug into bed, and Logan retires as well. Belinda then assists me to getting to bed.

As she leans over my while fixing my pillow her scent fills my nose and I reach up pulling her to me. She seems initially shocked and tense but when I place my lips against hers she loosens up. Our lips only part long enough for me to raise her shirt off of her.

She then crawls over the top of me and begins unbuttoning my shirt. Soon her bra and pants join her shirt on the floor next to the bed and she starts to unfasten my pants but she stops. I reach up placing my hand on her cheek and notice she has tears in her eyes.

She lies forward on my giving me a brief kiss before saying. “I want you Two-Twelve, I really do, but not like this… If you still want me in the morning then I’m all yours.” She then gives me another brief kiss and that’s the last thing I remember before falling asleep.

 

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