Things between Belinda and I have really been on the mend, enough that even Zoey has told us we need to go outside and get some fresh air. The New Year came with a small gathering at the house, and just in time for the New Year we receive word from Logan about the treaty between Longolia and Gown has been finalized so the war is officially over.
With the extra work load of the winter solstice festival over Scylla has really begun to shine as Mayor. Although the construction of the mage’s guild seems to be quite a strain at least she just has to deal with only the city side of it and the guild itself is dealing with the construction.
The mage’s guild has started to take shape and the building itself is very impressive. A lot of magic has gone into its construction and it has filled my dungeon with a lot of new items to summon that will come in handy with the dungeon.
With the addition of Leila the bunnies’ moods have really seemed to improve and we are seeing more of them without having to go to the dungeon core room. They have also done good work in the dungeon managing to add a few more rifts and opening up some of the rooms I had added before.
One day when I head to the dungeon core room I surprise them and find a little more then I bargain for. Three of the bunnies are surrounding a man standing in the middle of the dungeon core room wearing nothing but a colorful pair of one of the girl’s panties. The bunnies and the man quickly begin to panic when I arrive, and then I notice the man… It’s me!
“What is going on here!?”
The nearly naked me quickly pulls off a ring and turns into a much shorter but no less naked Lila, she then quickly pulls on her dress that was draped on the bed.
Lilah: “Master… Lilah can explain…”
I take the ring away from Lila and notice two more rings sitting on the desk, and as I pick them up as well I say. “You better.”
Lilah: “Lila found some strange rings in the dungeon inventory but couldn’t remove them. Lilah has complete dungeon privileges, so she took out the rings to see what they do.”
Lylah: “And we were just finding out when master arrived.”
“Wait you mean this is the…” –I check the rings and they are both of the [Ring of Fake Life]’s and the [Accursed Band]. – “There was a reason they were restricted, only the dungeon core should have been able to remove them.”
Lilah: “Complete access means Lilah has dungeon core access…”
“You should have asked! One of the rings would have killed you if you put it on!”
Bunnies: “Sorry…” –They all say with drooping ears.-
I can’t really afford to cut Lilah’s access, but I can’t take another risk like that either, so instead of putting the rings back into the dungeon inventory I store them in my [Shadow Pocket].
“Sorry doesn’t quite cut it…”
Lylah: “We read the description before putting on the ring, so we would have known not to put on the dangerous ring.”
“So you knew what the ring did? That means you intentionally had Lila remove her clothes and change her appearance to mine?”
The bunnies all hang their heads with guilty expressions.
Leila: “Biggest sister Lilah said it wasn’t really Master, so it would be ok to touch!”
The only three bunnies panic and quickly try to cover the littlest bunny’s mouth.
“My appearance aside, that would have still been Lila with the ring on, and that wouldn’t have been good.”
Lila: “Lylah promised to wear the ring next so I could touch to, so I said it was ok.”
I sigh… “I don’t know what to do with you four… Don’t let Belinda ever find out about this, and I don’t care if it just appearance, don’t do anything like that again…”
I don’t even remember why I came to the core room now… After scolding them a bit more and making sure they get the message I return to the house. I spend the next few days sporadically transferring to the core room, but I never catch the bunnies doing anything like that again.
After breakfast one morning I receive a semi-panicked message from Queen.
Queen: (Have you heard from Logan?! After everything with the war was finalized he was going to come pay me a visit, he was supposed to arrive last night, but he still hasn’t shown up. I have tried using the communication parchment several times but I haven’t gotten a reply.)
(Maybe something just came up or delayed him, but I will look into it.)
I get with Belinda and she tries to write him several messages as well, she too has started to get worried, so she heads to the capital to find out if she can learn anything. After a few hours pass I receive word from Queen.
Queen: (A group of Gowen soldiers has just arrived. They are some replacements for the fort here in New Leona. They said Logan was with them up to last night, but he just disappeared. They searched from him for hours then decided the best course of action was to make for New Leona for help.)
(We will come at once.)
I quickly message Belinda and tell her what is going on. I have no memory of New Leona, so I have to wait for her to come pick me up before we [Gate] there.
Queen: “I’m so glad you are here… Nobody has any idea what could have happened to him…”
We meet up with the soldiers as they are preparing to go back out to search for Logan with half of the fort.
“Tell me exactly what happened.”
Soldier: “We were running a bit behind schedule because some of the new recruits couldn’t keep up, so as it started to get dark we decided to set up camp. After Prince Logan’s tent was finished he headed inside to inform everyone what was going on. We didn’t see him after that, and when we checked his tent the next morning it was empty.”
“That was it? Nothing out of the ordinary happened? You had guards posted all night right?”
Soldier: “Of course…Nothing was out of the ordinary…”
“I would like to speak to the soldiers that were on duty last night.”
Soldier: “Yes sir!”
They quickly gather the soldiers that took watch. It isn’t a small number, even if there were three separate watches that night there would have still been at least 10 to 12 guards per watch.
“Out of all of you not a single one of you saw or heard anything out of the ordinary at all? Even if it didn’t seem important at the time, it might be something…”
One of the soldiers starts to say something but another stops him.
“Did you see or hear anything?”
The soldier that stopped him speaks up.
Soldier: “Forgive him sir, he is just a recruit, it was his first watch and just got scared of the dark.”
“No offense, but if nothing happened maybe you’re right, but Prince Logan is missing, so I want to hear it even if it is a new recruits over active imagination.”
Soldier: “…Yes sir…”
Young Soldier: “It was the wind sir… It sounded funny like a child laughing… It really freaked me out sir…”
“Nobody else heard this sound?”
None of the other soldier makes a movement.
“Where were you standing watch at?”
Young soldier: “On the east side of camp sir, just to the back of the Prince’s tent.”
“Nobody else bothered to check this out?”
Soldier: “There were two other guards not 5 feet away, and they didn’t hear anything.”
Young soldier: “After I heard the noise I called out to the other two, but they were zoned out and, it took me 3 tries to even get their attention!”
Another soldier says. “Listen here brat! I wasn’t zoned out!”
“Stop it, that isn’t helping… We need to get back to the location and see if we can pick up anything there.”
We then quickly set out from New Leona making for the area they set up camp. It is already starting to get late before we arrive, but they left Logan’s tent and things behind so it was easy to find the exact location.
Belinda, Queen, and I then search Logan’s tent. His armor, sword, shield, everything is still in the tent. Even his other belongings, his pack, all his communication parchments, everything has been left behind.
Queen: “You don’t think it was Longolia, because they were mad about the way the war ended do you?”
“That’s a harsh conclusion to jump to, especially the last time a Gowen disappeared they were blamed as well and look how that turned out.”
Belinda: “We were in their castle though, so there was more than a little evidence to say they had something to do with it…”
“And with the ink still fresh on the treaty, we don’t want to falsely accuse them with no evidence.”
Belinda: “You’re right…”
Queen: “He took out his communication parchments, so it looks like he was about to write, but got interrupted.”
“Nothing is out of place though, like he just walked out of the tent.”
We decide to check around outside the tent were the guard said he heard a noise. The ground is pretty hard but there are footprints, they are everywhere so there is no way to tell if any of them don’t belong. Although with skills like [Keen Eye] something does stand out.
I put my foot next to one really light footprint and it is half the size of my own. It really does look like a child’s footprint…We check to make sure but none of the soldiers have unusually small feet. Half of the reason for setting up camp there was the softer ground, so as we follow the footprints away from camp the ground becomes too hard and they disappear, but not before seeing another pair of prints with them and these look like an adult’s feet.
“What is off in that direction?”
Belinda: “West? Nothing… I mean there is nothing but open plains. Tobes is a week or so north west, but other than that Gowen is empty plains all the way to Lancaster.”
Queen: “Wait… Did you say Lancaster?”
Belinda: “Yea straight west is Lancaster, but that has to be two, or even three weeks out.”
Queen: “That little bitch!”
“What is it?”
Queen looks around then says. “Dungeon Core #514, she is the one that took Logan. It all makes sense now…”
“Are you sure?”
Queen: “She almost flat out said she would try something like this, and the child like feet were the dead giveaway, but that was almost 2 years ago, so I didn’t put it together.”
Belinda: “I can use [Gate] to take us to Lancaster, but we need to be sure.”
Queen: “That won’t work we have to go after them on foot! You know what she is capable of. I can’t have her take Logan away from me!”
“What are you talking about?”
Belinda: “Marion has some kind of charm ability or something.”
Queen: “That’s exactly what it is, when Logan, Kline, and I went to investigate her dungeon right after she placed it she told me, that if I didn’t make Logan mine she would steal him away. She uses that power to have the town do whatever she wants. If she takes Logan away from me I will kill her!”
“If it is her she has a full day on us, I am confident in my speed, but we don’t know if they are walking either, and it’s getting to late to try to pursue them tonight.”
Queen: “But she could have her creepy hands all over him already!”
I open [Archjusticar Menu] using the [Dungeon Core Information] option I put in Dungeon Core #514 and then open her location on the [Map]. She is between Lancaster and our current location, but hallway between.
“I don’t know how she is moving so fast, but she is already halfway back to Lancaster.”
Queen: “How do you know that?”
“I can’t track Logan, but I can track her.”
Queen: “The Archjusticar has its benefits I guess.”
Going back to the [Dungeon Core Information] screen I open the window that actually shows her. I see a small carriage made from bone and cloth being pulled by skeletal horses. Inside the carriage is Logan siting there with a blank look on his face and no clothing with a large doll looking girl sitting in Logan’s lap. Marion indeed looks very doll like, but with what she is doing to Logan means she is most definitely a woman.
I quickly close the screen… I don’t think I should tell Queen about this… Using the screen and [Gate] I could probably teleport straight to them, but I don’t know if I could stop the carriage, and I don’t really want Queen to see Logan like that.
Queen: “What’s the matter?”
“If she already has made that kind of distance, I think it is best to use our teleport spell to head directly to Lancaster and wait for them to arrive.”
Queen: “What if she does something to him before then?”
“There isn’t much we can do about that…”
We then tell the soldiers we have a lead on Logan, and to pack up his tent and belongings taking it back to New Leona in the morning. We take Logan’s gear packing it away and then use [Gate] to head to Tobes.
Queen: “I thought we were going to Lancaster?”
“We don’t know what the situation there is like. if Marion really can control the residents it might be bad to try to sleep there. You can rest here tonight then we will all go to Lancaster first thing in the morning.”
Queen doesn’t look happy about it but we finally get her to agree, once Belinda and I start to head to bed she says.
Belinda: “Something is wrong isn’t it?”
“Well she isn’t hurting him at least, so that is something.”
To be on the safe side the next morning we grab Roxy, Zoey, and Azami, and with Belinda, Queen, and myself we use [Gate] to reach Lancaster. I check Marion’s location with [Map], and it looks like they are getting close. The town is most likely not going to be their first stop, so we decide to head to the old Lancaster mansion.
From Marion’s stats in [Dungeon Core Information] it doesn’t look like her dungeon will prove very difficult, right now the main concern is Logan’s safety. She seems to want Logan, but if she can control him she might use him as a shield as well.
I keep a close eye on her location in [Map] her skeletal horses can not only seem to continue without rest, they are very fast as well. We take up positions out of sight I which we think they will arrive and wait for them. We don’t have to wait very long either as the carriage with skeletal horses pulls right up in front of the mansion.
For Queen’s sake I am glad they are fully clothed when Marion steps out of the carriage and then instructs Logan to follow. We had a plan to wait for them to get a bit closer but Queen apparently can’t hold back any longer as she steps out startling Marion.
“Give him back!”
Marion: “How did you not only find out but even beat us back?”
Two-Twelve: “I might have had a little to do with that.” –He says as he steps out as well.-
Marion: “I see, yes being married to the princess I can see why her brother might be important to you, but Queen has staked a claim on Logan. I saw the message about you becoming the Archjusticar of the Elders! That means since this is a matter strictly between Queen and I and you can’t interfere.”
“Just release him now and I won’t kill you.”
Marion: “I can see why you want him back so bad he is quite the man, but you had your chance and now his kingdom will be mine.”
Marion: “Oh but I did!”
I will not forgive her for laying her creepy hands on Logan, so I quickly draw both of my swords.
Marion: “Aw aw aw, not so fast.” –She says while Logan takes out a dagger holding it to his own throat.-
“You wouldn’t do it, you need him!”
Marion: “I don’t need him alive… I could make him last at least a year after death without raising suspicion and by then Gowen will belong to me.”
Two-Twelve: “I can’t let you do that.”
Marion: “But there is nothing an Elder’s pet like you can do about it!”
As she says that the front doors of the mansion slam open and all manner of undead begin to pour out of it. Most of which are simple skeletons, but others are quite grotesque made from sewn flesh. One however is a young woman, she has two different colors to her hair, two different colored eyes, and even though all her skin is deathly pale some are different shades then the other. She seems to be made of patchwork pieces like some of the other monsters, but it looks like great care was used in her creation. Meanwhile Logan is still holding the blade to his throat so I can’t act rashly.
Marion: “That’s right, everyone come welcome me home along with my soon to be husband.”
“Over my dead body!”
Marion: “Oh so you wish to join my family as well? That can easily be arranged.”
The young patchwork woman approaches Marion.
Marion: “There, there my daughter I want you to meet you to meet your new daddy. Why don’t you take daddy inside and show him around while I deal with our guests.”
Patchwork woman: “Yes mother.”
As the patchwork woman takes hold of one of Logan’s hands, Two-Twelve disappears and reappears right next to her grabbing her other hand. Logan’s blade presses harder against his neck, enough that a line of blood becomes visible on the blade.
Marion: “Don’t even think about it…”
Marion: “Get back or I will spill all his blood.”
I see Two-Twelve quickly say something quietly, and he then releases the patchwork woman. He then slowly backs away.
Marion: “He might be your brother-in-law, but with Queen staking her claim on him you are interfering with something you should not. Now quickly child, take your new daddy inside!”
The patchwork woman begins walking again heading to the mansion leading Logan by the hand. Two-Twelve is focusing close attention to them as he says.
Two-Twelve: “I think you are mistaken. I may be the Archjusticar of the elders, but that doesn’t prevent me from honoring an agreement I made with Queen.”
Marion: “What are you talking about?”
Two-Twelve: “Simple, I am to insure the safety of all of the Gowen family.”
Marion: “If that is true then you really can’t interfere, because if you did it will mean the end of his life!”
Once the patchwork woman and Logan enter the mansion they quickly disappear. Belinda and Two-Twelve’s other two boss monsters then step out from their hiding spots as well making Marion nervous. I don’t know what he is thinking but Two-Twelve smiles when he sees Logan and the patchwork woman disappear and he then says.
Two-Twelve: “That is simple, now just how far away do they have to be for you to control Logan to hurt himself?”
Marion: “I may not be able to order him to hurt himself now, but my boss monster is still with him and she can take care of it just as easy.”
Two-Twelve: “We will see about that.”
Two-Twelve then sends me a message. (Logan is safe now, on my signal you deal with Marion.)
What does he mean safe… How can that be?
Two-Twelve: “I will give you one last chance to do the right thing Marion. I the Archjusticar of the elders order you Dungeon Core #514 [Ferox Marionette] to release Logan Gowen or face the consequences.”
Marion quickly looks confused as she accesses her [Menu] and quickly orders the undead to attack. Two-Twelve quickly says. “Queen, Now!” He then starts attacking the undead alongside Belinda and his other boss monsters.
Marion looks confused as I start to rush towards her with my blades. She casts a spell causing two zombies to spring from the ground. I have no trouble slashing them down, but it gives her time to get a bit more space between us and throw a shadow attack spell at me.
Being made of mythril my armor is only considered light armor, so the shadow spell is rather weak against me, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt like hell. No matter how hard I try to get closer to her she always summons more zombies allowing her to maintain her distance from me.
I don’t have much in the way of spells, but since she seems to be a shadow dungeon core it is actually to my advantage as I sheath one of my blades and cast [Bullet of Light]. I don’t use magic very often so it wasn’t a very solid hit, but even still it seems to really do a number to Marion.
Marion: “I don’t know how you did it, but I will get you for this!”
Marion then uses her magic to summon more zombies this time there are 6 of them. They are not difficult to fight, but fighting them while Marion is casting attack spells makes it much more difficult. It isn’t long until the small amounts of damage she is doing to me begins to stack up.
I have to close the distance and turn this into a melee fight or she is going to win… After dropping the last zombie she begins casting the spell to summon more, but this time I charge right through the middle of them as they start to attack me.
Marion quickly tries to cast another spell to summon even more, but it’s too late I am already close enough to bring my blade down slicing her across the chest.
Marion pulls herself along the ground say. “It isn’t fair… The elders shouldn’t have interfered…”
As I raise my blade to strike her down a hand grabs the pummel of my sword.
Two-Twelve: “Hold on.”
He then stands before Marion.
Two-Twelve: “Dungeon Core #514 [Ferox Marionette] you have lost. Will you admit defeat and release Logan Gowen to us, and pay Dungeon Core #307 [Queen] damages your attack against her has caused?”
Marion: “Go to hell you cheating bastard!”
Two-Twelve then nods and releases my blade. I then bring my sword down ending Marion’s life. The door of the mansion busts open and shards of Marion’s crystal pierce my body and it feels me with warmth. I then receive the message.
Dungeon Core #514 [Ferox Marionette] has perished at the hands of Dungeon Core #307 [Queen]
Dungeon Core #307 [Queen] has received the skill [Heroic] (Rank 1)
Dungeon Core #307 [Queen] has received the skill [Puppet Master] (Rank 1)
“What about Logan where is he?”
Two-Twelve smiles as he points to the door of the mansion and the patchwork woman is leading Logan from the mansion. Logan has a severally confused expression on his face.
“But how…? Is that an Archjusticar ability as well to steal other’s monsters?”
Two-Twelve: “Not exactly, that was a one-time thing… Logan are you alright?”
Logan: “Two-Twelve, and Queen as well? What’s going on? I had a weird dream about some creepy doll.” –He shutters and then continues.- “This is Lancaster mansion though isn’t it?”
“I’m sorry it’s my fault. If I just told you this might not have happened.”
Two-Twelve: “Queen, are you sure you should tell him?”
“If not now, then when?”
Logan: “What are you talking about?”
“It wasn’t a dream, that doll was a dungeon core.”
Logan: “A dungeon monster?!”
“No not a dungeon monster, the creature behind the dungeon, and in the same since the dungeon’s crystal would be its heart.”
Logan: “You’re saying the dungeon was intelligent? How do you know all this?”
“Because…” –I take a deep breath.- “New Leona’s crystal is my heart.”
Logan: “That’s impossible. None of this makes sense, you are human and one of the great hero Dyson’s descendants, I met your brother and he is a splitting image of Dyson.”
“I’m not one of Dyson’s descendants, he just trained me.”
Logan: “That makes even less sense why would the great hero train a dungeon?”
Two-Twelve: “Because the man you met, that was not one of Dyson’s descendants either, but the actual Dyson himself, and he too is a dungeon core.”
Logan: “You knew about all this? And Belinda you were part of it as well?”
Belinda: “Calm down… It’s a lot to take in a first, but it’s not as bad as it sounds I promise.”
“Please just let me explain, and I will tell you everything…”
Logan: “How can you say that, first you tell me my girlfriend is a monster, and next you tell me to be ok with it?! How can I?!”
Belinda moves over to Two-Twelve wrapping her arms around him from behind. “They may be monsters, but they aren’t monsters.”
Logan: “You don’t mean… Of course… The elemental stronghold… It all makes sense now…”
“If you will just calm down, we will tell you everything…”
Logan is still holding the dagger that he had against his neck when he was under Marion’s control, and he now raises it up holding it in front of him.
Logan: “This has to be some kind of trick… I don’t even know how I got here, so you are not really here either!”
“It’s not a trick Logan…” –I try to take a step forward but Logan doesn’t back down.-
Belinda: “What about Kline, or Doug? Will you calm down if they explain it to you?”
Logan: “Not only Belinda, but you have taken Kline and Doug as well?”
Two-Twelve: “I haven’t taken anyone… Kline and Doug are doing what they want to do, and Belinda is the one that asked to join me, not the other way around.”
Logan: “How is this possible…?”
Belinda: “Just come back to Tobes with us, we will get Kline and Doug, and we will work though this together.”
Logan: “I…” –He slowly starts lower the dagger.-
“Please, I promise I will tell you everything…”
Two-Twelve: “Remember what I said when you asked my advice? Don’t make a decision till you heard her out completely.”
Logan looks defeated as he drops the dagger.
Belinda: “Thank you, I promise it will be ok.”
Belinda casts the [Gate] spell and leads Logan though and Two-Twelve’s other two boss monsters follow.
Patchwork woman: “What about me master?”
Two-Twelve: “Well I don’t know… What do you want to do?”
Patchwork woman: “I am glad you gave me a body, and I don’t mind that it is a female, but something about it feels weird… Regardless though you gave me a body so I will serve you till it is no more.”
Two-Twelve: “Well I am sorry about the body… I had planned to put the ring on a non-sentient monster, but this was the only way I could think to protect Logan at the time. What about Marion’s boss monster, is she still in there somewhere as well?”
Patchwork woman: “No, as soon as I took over the body she was gone… Why did you say sorry about the body? What is wrong with it?”
Two-Twelve awkwardly scratches his head then says. “Well let’s get things taken care of with Logan first, and we will deal with it afterwards.”
Patchwork woman: “But what’s wrong with it…?” –She says as she follows Two-Twelve though the [Gate] I quickly hurry following behind them as well.-
Even after a lengthy conversation between Belinda, Doug, Kline, Logan, Queen, and myself Logan seems a little hesitant to accept what is going on. He also doesn’t seem to be able to look Queen in the eye anymore as well, but he has at least calmed down now.
Logan: “I just don’t see how you can be ok with this Kline, after everything we have seen and everyone we have lost in dungeons.”
Kline: “Young Master… We have lost many friends to bandits or others during war as well. Should we hate all humans as well?”
Logan: “We have lost soldiers, and adventurer’s alike in New Leona dungeon, and not to mention how many adventurers have lost their lives in the elemental stronghold. Mindy’s husband lost his life in the elemental stronghold!”
Belinda: “You can’t tell me Korvasta didn’t get what he deserved. Besides when entering a dungeon everyone knows the risks. Two-Twelve and Queen don’t send monsters out of their dungeon to attack innocent people they only defend their dungeon.”
Logan: “But how can you look at him after knowing maybe even at this very second, people, our people, could be dying in his dungeon?”
Kline: “Young Master, you have fought plenty of battles, and know when the battle is over and the treaty is signed, or the area conquered you then must put down your sword and lift up and help those very people you were just fighting against.”
Logan: “But that is when the fighting is over, this is different.”
Belinda: “You are talking about it from the human side, but what about Two-Twelve’s side? Look at all he has done for Tobes and for Gowen all the while our people enter his dungeon with the intent of causing him harm, but never once do you see him complain.”
Logan: “And Doug you are all fine with this as well?”
Doug: “Everything I have learned about being an adventurer I learned from Two-Twelve and others from his dungeon. Not to mention that Aria is from Queen’s dungeon and she was the one to put Aria in my path, so I am definitely fine with it.”
Logan: “You mean Aria is a monster as well…?”
Doug: “Aria isn’t a monster! I don’t care if she was born from a dungeon or not I won’t let you call her that!”
Logan: “We have to tell father…”
Belinda: “Logan, you can’t…”
Logan: “No, you are the one that said Two-Twelve being a dungeon was not a bad thing, if you really believe that then prove it. If you can convince father then and only then will I be convinced.”
“It has already been a few years, how many more do you think it will be before he doesn’t notice something himself? It is best we tell him our way.”
Queen: “I would like to go too…”
Belinda: “Even Queen?”
Queen: “Two-Twelve and I both care for the future of the Gowen kingdom. If doing this convinces Logan, of course I will not hesitate.”
“Then it is settled, we will return to the capital and speak to the king.”