Chapter 121: Two-Twelve’s Juggling Act

 

It’s been a few days since Belinda’s surprise announcement, and I still have to say I am not sure how to react to it. With the circumstances surrounding it, I find it hard to understand how I should be feeling about it.

I have been a bit worried about her condition when she wakes up in the morning, but she assures me that is normal for everyone. Just to make sure she is safe, I have been sticking pretty closely to her, while working with the runic spells.

Once I started to supplant the gems for magic stones things really seemed to progress quite nicely. I can now make magic stones that can use spells without casting [Runic Activation] the magic stones seem to need to be one grade higher than the spell, but I figure that is due to having to add the rune for [Runic Activation] they also don’t last near as long.

The gems I made that I used the [Runic Activation] spell on are still shining brightly in the dungeon core room, but magic stones are depleted within hours, they can however be recharged by focusing your magic back into the stone.

The only advantage of using the runes instead of just storing the spell in the stone manually is that you don’t have to know the spell that is stored in the stone to recharge it and use it again. Even non-magic classes have some mp, so even they could use simple stones over and over again.

Making stones with healing spells stored in them will really change the game for mages that use shadow magic, or parties that don’t have a mage. Even using a magic stone to store a simple [Clean] spell will change everything.

Belinda wants to replace the lamps and candles in the house with magic stones with [Light] in them, but I am hesitant for humans to find out about this just yet, and even though it isn’t common we do have the occasional visitor in the house.

As for our newest dungeon occupants, the dwarves, I am not sure putting Katie in charge of them was such a good idea. We have gone through three times the amount of alcohol then I anticipated, but even at level one they can make several items from steel each day or even items from dwarven steel every two days.

Dwarven steel is not quite as good as normal dwarven metal, but if I level them up like Katie suggested, it might not be long  before we no longer worry about the adventurers stealing equipment from the dungeon.

I am a little worried about them working themselves to hard, but when I have checked on them they don’t look like they could possibly be any happier, although they could just be drunk… We haven’t introduced them into Tobes yet, but there are rumors circulating in town about dwarves on their way to Tobes from far away.

Maybe once Azami learns how to craft mythril items I will summon a large group of elves to do the same thing. Although dwarves seem to live to drink and craft, were only small amounts of elves are crafters. Speaking of Azami, she seems rather discouraged. She hasn’t made much progress even though Kaelmathis keeps ensuring her that things are going faster than predicted.

Moss doesn’t seem too happy with Azami spending all of her time at the house, I tried to speak to him one day about it, but he told me something in elven that I am sure was not very friendly. Maybe I should summon a few more elves just so Azami and Moss aren’t alone in the woods.

The soldiers really had a hard time with the new room. They were not ready for the large scale combat, and even lost a soldier. It wasn’t one of the ones I summoned, but it was a hard message to have to send to Logan.

He did seem quite upset about it, but it didn’t seem to be at the dungeon. Doug and the commander of the troops seemed to have rather sullen expressions afterwards, so I think Logan chewed them out.

A small garrison has been commissioned to be built in Tobes now that can hold as many as 500 troops, it is at the far end of the town heading out of the forest, so I had to quickly expand my secondary dungeon by quite a bit to cover the area it will be on, but it also gives it plenty of room for expansion.

No more troops have left from the capital yet, but if the soldiers we currently have keep progressing like they are Logan plans to send another batch of recruits by the end of the month.

The soldiers were not here because of the mage’s guild, but the mages have still been pretty nervous about their presence, but no issues have arisen. The worst thing that has come about is mages swarming Sigrun to maybe gain insight on flight…

The Mage’s Guild is still trying to find a way to get to Maeve’s dungeon, and although she asked me to help them, I have been caught up with the situation with Belinda, and haven’t even giving it any thought. That is until one morning I receive a message from Maeve.

Maeve: (Papa! I got your monsters ready for you! Do you have my elves ready for me?!)

(You have summoned them already?)

Maeve: (I know it took me a bit longer then I said, but the wind was quite a pain, and I had trouble getting to a spot in Shima, where my dungeon wouldn’t leave me behind.)

(I haven’t summoned the elves yet, because I don’t know what you want for specifications.)

Maeve: (Just make it random, maybe half male and half female, but other than that it doesn’t matter, because I still expect to be able to summon them myself very soon.)

(Alright, give me some time to summon them and I will bring them to you.)

“Belinda… Maeve is ready to complete our trade, would you like to go, or do you want to stay here with Scylla?”

Belinda: “I would like to go, and can we tell her?”

“I don’t know… I am still not sure how I feel about Inari knowing, but Maeve is even a bit more…”

Belinda: “I understand…”

Belinda and I then return to the house, I inform the bunnies of what I am going to do, and start going through the process of summoning a dozen elves. I know I talked about summoning a group for Tobes, but summoning these for Maeve makes me want to all the more.

Belinda goes around equipping clothes on the elves after I summon them, and gives them names. Even though we do it in a bit of a rush, I think they all turned out rather well. I then find Maeve’s location with my [Archjusticar Menu] and we use [Gate] to reach her dungeon.

Maeve: “I am sorry Papa, I had to summon several tiers of several monsters to have enough to make it an equal trade, it might save you from having to spend the xp to learn to summon them all while still skipping the lower evolutions of them if you want.” –She says while surrounded in monsters.-

All my elemental creatures are pretty much down a single evolutionary line, so to see all these wind monsters is quite the sight.

There are several different sizes of plain wind elementals, several different kinds of low tier monstrous birds, a pair of normal looking goblins with the addition of wings growing from their backs, a few animals that normally don’t have wings that have wings growing from their backs like a dog, a large cat, and even a small monkey.

Not all wind creatures can fly of course, so there are there a few little creatures that look to be a cross between a dwarf and an elf. Elves and dwarves are already pretty short so these things barely come up to Maeve’s waist.

Even though there are quite a few creatures their evolution tiers must all be pretty low, so although I am fine trading the elves just to get the ability to summon these creatures, but Maeve seems to be getting quite the deal…

“I thought you said you said you would have enough monsters to trade me to equal the amount of the cost of the elves.”

Maeve: “I have the xp, I really do! But you are right. I can summon more of what I got to make up the difference, but with Papa’s dungeon like it is, you don’t have to breed them, so you only need one of each, so I thought I would leave it up for you to decide.”

“Just being able to summon all these new types of monsters would be quite helpful, but you should have told me before hand.”

Maeve: “I just really needed at least 12 elves to get started, and I was afraid you would say no if I didn’t have enough monsters to cover their cost.”

Belinda: “Maeve…”

“I will make a deal with you then. I will take what you got, and give you the elves, and you can owe me.”

Maeve: “That would be fine!”

“And just to make sure, we will bind it with contract.”

Maeve: “You wouldn’t take your daughter’s word for it…?”

“If you would have told me beforehand I might of.”

Maeve: “Even when I unlock more monsters they will be mostly higher tiers of these here, so it may take me a long time to unlock something completely new.”

“It’s a good thing we are family and keep in touch then.”

Maeve has a nervous chuckle. “Alright Papa… I will sign.”

After I make the contract and Maeve gives me a bit of a strange look when she reads that I put a stipulation in the way in which she treats the sentient elves. She doesn’t say anything however and still signs the contract.

Maeve: “Alright, I am you new master. I plan on treating you quite well, but there is still going to be some hard work to do. As you can see we are still too small to have our own forest up here, so we will have to make due for now. I ask you to stay out of the underground for now, but anywhere else you can go freely.”

The trees on Maeve’s dungeon are quite small, few, and far in-between, but the elves seem to collectively each try to pick out their own trees. I don’t know what they will be able to do with a single small tree like that, but they each seem quite proud of their selections.

We visit with Maeve for a while before returning home, but it seems having to sign the contract seemed to rub her the wrong way.  She doesn’t outright say anything, but it seems she is a bit more distant then she was in the past.

The contract wasn’t really worth loosing what we had with Maeve, so I hope she doesn’t hold it against us for too long. Once we make it home I receive a message about the newly available monsters.

The wind elementals seem to be all the tiers right up to the one that costs the amount of one of the sentient elves. The two winged goblins seem to equal the tier of a Hobgoblin Hero, and a Hobgoblin Magi but their wings make their cost double, leaving roughly the cost of another sentient elf.

Most of the other creatures are pretty negligible leading up to maybe the cost of a third elf. The elf/dwarf miniature creatures turn out to be a type of gnome. I know they are one of the intelligent demi-human races that have dealt with humans in some places, so even though these ones are quite cheap they should eventually unlock a sentient variety. Even if their cost is low I still value them at least as much as a fourth elf.

That still means Maeve shorted me for 8 elves. I keep telling myself these are new creatures so it is worth it, and we do have the contract, but it still leave a bit of a bad taste in my mouth. She was willing to summon multiple monsters to make up the difference in xp, but still.

Belinda: “How bad is it…?”

“Well I think we made her mad with the contract, but after what she did I think I am glad I did make it.”

Belinda: “I thought we raised her better than that…”

“Well, that is the disadvantage of our children being grown when they are born, we only get a month…”

Belinda: “Maybe we can do it the right way with this one.” –She says rubbing her stomach.-

It pains me a bit to see her talk about the baby that way already, if something is off with it I am afraid what it is going to do to her. “Yea, maybe…”

Belinda: “Don’t make that look, I know…”

“I’m sorry…”

Belinda: “I promise I am not getting too attached yet, it is just a coping strategy.”

“I was going to fill in the bunnies on what we got, and check to see how things are going. Do you want to come with me, or you going to head back to Scylla?”

Belinda: “I don’t visit with the girls enough, so why not.”

After storing the monsters in the crystal I transfer Belinda and myself to the dungeon core room. Lilah comes running up with one of the gems I was testing out with a sad look on her face.

Lilah: “Master it died…”

“It has been quite a while, so for the mp I put into the gem that was quite a long time.”

Lilah: “Can Master fix it? Lilah was calling him Lilaight”

Belinda: “Him…?”

“Well surely I can use [Runic Activation] and it would work for the same length of time.”

Lilah: “Please Master fix him!”

I cast the spell and the gem lights up, Lilah looks thrilled as she hugs the gem and returns to the chairs with the others.

Belinda: “I think they have been spending far too much time in the dungeon…”

“Every time we summon another one, the dungeon just gets busier…”

Belinda: “What if we get ahead of it then and summon two this time?”

Four pairs of eyes quickly snap to Belinda from the chairs on the other side of the room and each of them sparkling.

“Are you sure…?”

Lilah: “We still need Laila, Layla, Laylah, Leelah, Lyla, Lailah, and Leilah!”

“That’s a lot of bunnies…”

Belinda: “Your names are close enough as it is, how are we going to keep you apart once they start to be pronounced the same as well?”

Lylah: “Even when Master goofs we always know which one he is talking to!”

“What if we at least change it up a bit with Lele and Lala?”

Bunnies in unison: OK!~

Just like that our bunny headcount increased to a total of 6 and that doesn’t even include the full grown Delilah at the capital. The two new bunnies look identical, but that isn’t saying much when it comes to the bunnies, except for one having more fur then the other as one is a normal beastkin and the other is a feral.

“So which is which?”

The feral beastkin says. “I’m Lele, Master!”

The normal beastkin says. “I’m Lala, Master!”

And then both together. “And we are the twins!”

“Alright, while you two get situated, what is going on in the dungeon?”

Lylah: “We no longer have to summon a single steel weapon or armor set anymore, the amount of adventurers taking them went down quite a bit, but with the new dwarves pushing out so many new items, we are starting to have an abundance.”

“I tell Katie to have them spend more time to make the dwarven steel items then until we level them up.

Lila: “The elemental rooms are progressing. We have obtained enough xp to increase the each wing by one room. We moved the boss monsters to the next room while adding rifts of the newest tier of elemental based monsters to the old boss rooms.”

“I just finished my trade with Maeve, so there are a few new wind type monsters unlocked. They are all pretty low evolutions, and I hate to do it to a single element only, but start mixing some in to the wind rooms until we get higher tiers of them unlocked. If any of them start dropping items that the adventurers take a liking to, we might add that particular creature in with rifts.”

Bunnies: “OK!~”

“What about the soldiers?”

Leila: “After they lost the one soldier in the large room they have been acting far more cautious. They are now tackling the large room every day, but they haven’t progressed into the higher tier monsters of the next two rooms.”

“If they don’t step it up, then when the new soldiers arrive at the end of the month things might get a bit backed up… What about the main wing of the dungeon.”

Lilah: “There are groups reaching the clock room twice a week now, but Lilah has finished with rifts on that floor so she is now saving for the next floor.”

“Keep up the good work girls, and with Lele and Lala, we expect to see you all to take turns taking some breaks from the dungeon, you hear me?”

The Bunnies: “OK!~”

Before Belinda and I head back to the house I check to see how Lele, and Lala set up their spaces. Even though there is enough room for each to have their own it seems they decided to share a space and everything they have is in a mirror image to the other side of their space…

After returning to the house I collapse into one of the chairs and say. “You sure two more was a good idea?”

Belinda: “You are summoning new monsters all the time now, and we really do count on the girls up in the dungeon.”

“I guess you are right, it’s just the bunnies feel more personal than the others like the dwarves. I mean I don’t even interact with them every day, and I can’t even recall half of their names…”

Belinda: “Well you don’t expect Father to know everyone in the kingdom do you?”

“Well that is quite a bit different, and he didn’t personally bring every citizen of Gowen into existence…”

Belinda: “Thank goodness for that, I have enough siblings…”

“I don’t know you could use a few more like Doug and Logan.”

Belinda: “I don’t know 3 out of 7 isn’t exactly a good record.”

“Well your dad doesn’t seem that old, maybe he has one or two more good ones left in him.”

Belinda laughs: “Fat chance of that happening after mother went on her power trip in Duscae, and no matter how bad things are with mother, father is to loyal and proud to find a mistress that would actually care about him.”

“It seems being a king would be very lonely…”

Belinda: “What about dungeon cores? Aren’t there far more dungeon cores that never leave their dungeons then there are kings and queens?”

“I guess I never have been that kind of dungeon core, so I have never thought about it.”

Belinda: “There was a few months in the beginning you were full-on hermit. If I didn’t drag you from the dungeon you might still be that way.”

“So you are the cause of all my suffering.” –I say jokingly.-

Belinda then places her arms on my shoulders bringing her face close to mine with a scowl on her face. “But it was worth it wasn’t it?”

“Every minute.” – I then kiss her while transferring us to the bedroom. She giggles and we head to bed even though it is still long before nightfall.-

The next morning when I wake up Belinda is laying over me drawing circles on my chest with her fingers.  She then kisses me, after a few seconds her face contorts then she rushes to the bathroom… By the time she exits the bathroom I have already gotten dressed.

Belinda: ‘Aww, you are already dressed, I was going to see if you wanted to take a bath.”

“Today is the day that I need to collect the groups that are away and send them back out.”

Belinda: “They can wait a few hours!”

“The bunnies are working hard in the dungeon, and the groups are working hard out in the field to collect xp for us, I should be working hard as well.”

Belinda: “I don’t know, you seemed to be putting in a lot of hard work last night.”

“I doubt the others would agree that was work.”

Belinda: “I am sure you could at least get Roxy and Zoey on board to agree that it was hard work.”

“If I am only working hard to Zoey’s standards, then I really do need to try harder.”

Belinda laughs. “Do you want me to get dressed and help you with the groups?”

“Go ahead and enjoy your bath, I can take care of it.”

I head downstairs to get to work, but not before wrapping my arms around Belinda and giving her a deep kiss. Pulling myself away from her was probably the hardest work I will do all day.

I decided to heed Katie’s advice, so I start with the groups in Shima. Poppy’s group will be no problem so I start with them. After sending them a message, and Inari just so she knows I will be popping in and out I head to Shima and collect Poppy’s group.

Not quite as good as last month but they still pulled in close to 250,000xp just for their group alone.

“How is everyone doing?”

Poppy: “Well the monsters don’t change in Shima so there is little to surprise you. It gets pretty monotonous at times, but the xp we gather there is great.”

“You should be a dungeon core… It never stops then. I might have something that will break up the monotony of it, but you might not like it.”

Poppy: “What is it?”

“You saw how quickly you all gained levels in Shima, and although you are still bringing in a lot of xp, your levels have reached a point where they aren’t climbing near as fast. With your levels now, you should be able to do much more here on the mainland, so I decided to alternate the groups I send to Shima.

Poppy: “Did we disappoint you somehow…?”

“No, of course not, I am going to be summoning far more groups, and if I don’t give them the equal chance to level up as your group has. Then I will be losing out in a lot of potential xp that I could be gathering from all the groups instead of just the same two groups in Shima.

Poppy: “I understand…”

“From what I have seen of the adventurer’s in Shima, even spending a few months there you should be on par with the toughest groups here on the mainland, so I am quite confident that your group could go pretty much anywhere and gain fair amounts of xp now.”

Poppy: “Where would you like us to go then?”

“If you want to take a bit of a break there are plenty of places that would be more laid back, but if you want to continue to push yourselves, I think Exeter would make a fine choice. If you do decide on Exeter though, I would avoid the Ruined Colosseum Dungeon. As I made the dungeon core there quite mad already.”

Poppy: “What if we want to push into Lodia from Exeter?”

“I wouldn’t stop you, but I would really take caution if I was you. From my understanding a single dungeon core has the entire kingdom of Lodia in his grasp, and his strength is in the same range as Maric and Laura.”

After the group talks it over they do indeed decide to head to Exeter, so I take them to Exelka. From there I use [Gate], heading straight back to Shima to collect Bandy’s group, and then take them back to Tobes.

Bandy was the one that pushed for the better equipment claiming it would help them gather even more xp, and she didn’t appear to be wrong. Even though Poppy’s group even gathered a bit less than they did before receiving the weapons. Bandy’s group on the other hand increased their amount by 50% bringing in 375,000xp just on their own.

Bandy: “I told you.”

“That was indeed quite the haul, and after I give you a bit of armor to go with those weapons I am sure you guys will do quite well back on the mainland.”

Bandy: “You are taking us out of Shima?! That’s bullshit!”

Chase: “Bandy! You can’t speak to Master that way!”

Bandy: “After everything we done for him he wants to pull us out just when we find a lead on another of those corrupt dungeons! If you want to take our group out of Shima, then I believe we brought in enough xp that I wish to be unbound from your dungeon.”

Chase: “Bandy, you don’t mean it!”

“I would hate you lose you, but if that is what you really want I won’t stop you. Tell me about this other corrupt dungeon though.”

Bandy: “No, if I am going to be unbound, I will explore it myself.”

Chase: “Please Master don’t let her go! Just give us one more month, maybe two in Shima, and I promise we will then return back to the mainland!”

“Well that is up to Bandy.”

Bandy: “If you leave us in Shima, then I am fine with remaining with your dungeon.”

“I will give you one more month to investigate this lead you were talking about, but if it doesn’t pan out you return to the mainland next month. Agreed?”

Bandy: “Fine, and you can keep that armor. When we do find that corrupt dungeon we can’t have a bunch of armor weighing us down.”

“If it is a corrupt dungeon like the one Inari faced, and then you will need the armor just to deal with the types of monsters inside. You have all gained quite a few levels, but not near enough to meet the challenges of one of those dungeons.”

Bandy: “It’s your xp to throw away, if we quickly find better stuff inside.”

“From my understanding they got pretty far in before the gear got better then what they had, so as long as the armor keeps you safe till then I don’t think it will be a waste. As long as you promise before selling any of what you gather we are at least able to make sure the dungeon is able to reproduce it first.”

Using the Shima style Hihi’irokane material I make them each some armor. I know I told the bunnies I would split the xp the groups back into quarters, but the armor I summoned for them is enough that us used up all the xp they brought back.

If they really did find another one of the corrupt dungeons the xp they will be gaining should shoot up even more. Although I am worried what some of my boss monsters might say, as Bandy’s group now has better armor then they do.

I then return Bandy’s group to Inari’s secondary dungeon. When I do I find Inari waiting along with the group of fox beastkin of hers she had me bind to my dungeon.

“You didn’t have to see them off. I will bring them straight back.”

Inari: “Do I need a reason to want to see my Daddy? Besides you flew in and out so fast with Poppy’s group I didn’t get the chance to talk to you. I wanted to see how Mommy is holding up.”

“Well you know how easy she gets attached, and I can’t really blame her this time, but I am worried if something bad happens because of this.”

Inari: “You two have been through enough, and she deserves this, so I hope it works out… That’s not the only reason I wanted to speak with you though. I wanted to ask to borrow your group here.”

“Well they are your monsters. You are just letting me gain their xp.”

Inari: “But when they became bound to your dungeon they are technically your monsters, so I wanted to make sure it was ok.”

“It’s fine with me, but out of curiosity what are you going to do with them?”

Inari: “Well I want to prepare another secondary dungeon in preparation for new dungeon cores this year, just in case one of them would like to make Shima their home.”

“A second imitation crystal already… I think you already surpassed me.”

Inari: “Xp has always been the least of my problems, and even if I pass you in power. I will never be able to do some of the special things you can do.”

“Alright, I will take these ones back real quick and return them. I had Poppy’s group remain on the mainland to switch in some fresh faces, so let me know if they cause any problems alright?”

Inari: “Alright, tell Mommy I will be out of my dungeon for a while, but I am thinking about her ok?”

I then cast another [Gate], I have the fox beastkin return to my dungeon just long enough for me to receive the message about the monsters returning from battle, and then ship them back through the portal.

I spend the rest of the morning collecting and shipping back out my monsters. When it’s all said and done, even after summoning a new group of strictly humans, so I could switch out the other human group in Dalian to replace Poppy’s group in Shima, I still have close to 500,000xp from the groups remaining.

I already gave them their rewards, and summoned another group, so I split the xp in two giving half to the bunnies for the dungeon, and put the other in reserve to assist the groups working outside of the dungeon. 250,000xp for a month isn’t much, but each month it should slowly start to increase now.

Bandy’s group made me realize something though, if we don’t get out and start gaining some xp soon my monsters are going to leave me behind. I make a decision though, even if Belinda has to hide in the back, the Oni will focus on me because I am a dungeon core, so even if it is only a few hours a week I decide. My boss monsters and I will head to Shima to gain xp as well.

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