Chapter 137: Losing Hope

 

I can’t say that it is any relief, but after finding out the identity of the last of the dungeon core that has entered my dungeon along with Hecate, I am still no closer in finding a way to put a stop to the attack. Dungeon Core #729 [Laramie] seems no different than the rest of the group Hecate has brought along.

Between Hecate, Dungeon Core #312 Echo, Dungeon Core #385 Emery, and Dungeon Core #634 Rosalinda not a single one of them I feel my dungeon could be able to take out, and even a few of the other sentient humanoids that remain appear to be out of my league as well.

I can at least say that even though quite a few of them are way beyond my levels I have at least held them off for the remainder of the day, now with only half of the switches located I am sure they will be unable to locate the other 5 before midnight. In fact that seems to be the exact matter they are debating about over their communication parchment.

The debate is enough that it slows them down even further, and by the way they are talking it looks like they are worried they are running out of time. That means if I can just hold them back a while longer something is sure to give.

They finally elect to leave the weakest ones behind and only the few that are of substantial levels depart for midnight. I could push to kill the weaker members and try to change the locations of the switches, but I really doubt I would have time to do all that in the short time they will be absent.

With only an hour remaining till midnight I think with how worried they are about me gaining their xp, taking out the weaker members now would be my best bet, so at least 1 of the stronger members will have to remain.

On that note I hold nothing back sending hellhounds, liches, and death knights after the non-sentient monsters. The dwarf watching the door doesn’t have time to warn Hecate and the others about the switches, because he too comes under attack.

By the time the wave of attacks end there is only 15 minutes remaining to midnight, and I managed to rid the dungeon of half of the attackers, I wasn’t able to take out any more of the dungeon cores, but a few of the sentient members of the group that were not dungeon cores, and all of the non-sentient monsters have been eliminated.

I avoided the members I knew I could not defeat, but the few that I was unsure of that managed to survive were able to warn the others what had happened, one of which was the dwarf watching the door, and he informs them that only 2 switches remain pressed.

They begin to argue then about just who will remain, and almost run out of time, but all the non-dungeon cores, and Echo remain, but Hecate and the other dungeon cores depart. That still leaves quite a few remaining one of which is a dungeon core.

The additional xp they provide above the norm is equal to what the demi-humans were providing when they died, so that means even the weak members of Hecate’s group are 10x the strength of the demi-humans from the day before.

I don’t know if I will be able to kill any of the remaining members of Hecate’s group if that is the case. They still have more than 10 people though, so I can only hope a few of them are weaker and the others were strong enough to offset the amount of xp acquired.

I haven’t been taking any chances with the dungeon cores leaving their screens open with the [Archjusticar Menu], so while they are gone I get a bit of good news. They all seemed to teleport to the same outdoor location, and have begun to argue.

Apparently Dungeon Core #385 [Emery], and Dungeon Core #729 [Laramie] are not to keen on returning to my dungeon.

Emery: “I told you I would only help you under the condition you made it worth my while, and so far I have been sitting on a switch all day long acquiring nothing in return.”

Hecate: “This dungeon core killed Maric, don’t you at least want revenge?”

Emery: “Dyson was the one to kill Maric, and I only was willing to tangle with Two-Twelve because I had your assurance Dyson would not learn of my involvement, but you are just about out of time, and I am not about to tangle with Dyson.”

Laramie: “I want to avenge Maric as much as you Hecate, but Emery is right, you just don’t have any time left…”

Rosalinda: “It’s too late, you are in it now, if you don’t help us finish this before Dyson arrives, do you think he will care you bowed out of the attack early? We must kill Two-Twelve.”

Emery: “What’s in this for you anyway?  I was under the impression you could care less about Maric?”

Hecate: “It doesn’t matter! As you said we don’t have the time to fight over this, and we need to return before any of the others fall.”

Emery: “Then you can do it without me.”

Rosalinda: “You will regret this!”

Emery: “I really doubt that…” –He says and then teleports in a similar fashion then what Dyson does.-

Through his screen it appears he returns to his dungeon, and he sends a message to Dyson about the attack on my dungeon. Unfortunately Byson will receive that message rather than Dyson, but maybe after Byson can’t reach me he will be able to contact Madam Erin if Zoey, Azami, or Sorin don’t make it.

I really wish I could use my [Archjusticar Menu] to contact the Elders, because it seems to be something they either didn’t anticipate, or have no way of blocking. I could spent a few justicar points on someone in hopes the elders will try to find out what is going on, but I need to save what I have just in case I have to use them against the group attacking me.

Laramie as well apologizes to Hecate again and then teleports with the [Gate] spell. He as well returns to his dungeon, but he instead seems to go straight to bed.

Hecate: “Damnit we can’t afford to lose anyone else now.”

Rosalinda: “If worse comes to worse I can summon some monsters from my dungeon.”

Hecate: “Not to sound like Emery, but what is in this for you? You have already done a great deal and will to do this much more?”

Rosalinda: “Let’s just say I owe Dyson one, and Two-Twelve is by far the best dungeon core to use to hurt him.”

The next few hours go by pretty quickly as they try to recuperate what they lost. All the switches the non-sentient monsters were on Hecate had been to herself, so she was able to gate to them placing one of the others in my dungeon on them.

They only had a general idea of the location of the switch in which Emery was on, so it takes them a bit of effort to find it again, and by the time the sun is starting to rise outside they have only managed to recuperate all that they lost during the night.

They have kept mentioning the time over and over again, so I am hoping that means soon the restriction on [Communication] and the communication parchments is soon to be lifted. I might not be able to get ahold of Dyson once it does, but maybe Madam Erin would be enough to convince Hecate, and deal with Rosalinda.

I can’t leave it up to chance however so I need to come up with another way just in case. I have the xp I gathered at midnight, and from the two dungeon cores that died, so I decide to add to the dungeon just in case they do make it past the labyrinth.

I add another floor to the dungeon at door just past the labyrinth. From the bottom of the staircase I make another 100 by 100 room, but when I try to make the floor lower than the doorway it only allows me to go down 50 feet.

I don’t know if this will work, but I add another floor starting with a room connecting to the one above with the same 100 by 100 size, I then edit the first room to see if it allows me to remove the floor. This time it works.

The 8th sub-level is pretty much the standard distance below the labyrinth, but on the 9th sublevel I used the technique I used on the upper floors making the stairs as long as possible. That makes the room in the 8th and 9th sublevel a grand total of 200 feet tall.

A single misstep off of the stairs and that is a long drop. I give the room no lighting at all to add to the danger of it. I had to place a stairwell from the 8th to 9th sub-level for me to be allowed to add the floor, but [Menu] doesn’t seem to have a problem with me blocking that stairwell off preventing entry, now that the rooms are connected.

I don’t know how much damage a 200 foot fall would cause, but one of the adventurers that was with Hecate that got knocked off above, survived the 100 foot drop, so not to take any chances I line the bottom of the floor with spikes.

For the price of the room, the two floors, and the spikes I am already sitting at 30,000xp and I haven’t even added any monsters yet. I decide to search though my monsters by ones that can see in total darkness and that can fly.

The results are pretty limited, with the dragonkin that are low on the evolutionary line it wouldn’t be any use at all, the feathered serpent, the most expensive of my monsters the elder earth dragon, and then all variations of the liches.

Only the liches would be able to maintain flying indefinitely, so I add five of them to the room totaling another 175,000xp. Then about halfway up the wall on the 9th sub-level I add two small rooms off to either side using the one-way entries like I did for the labyrinth and add 2 dozen of the dragonkin.

I don’t think they would be able to do any damage, but the swarm of them flying about could at least serve as a decent distraction, or a means to block attacks, allowing the liches to do more damage. I am still rather surprised after all the dragonkin I have summoned I haven’t unlocked a higher tier yet.

Maybe there is a requirement that I don’t possess to unlock them, or maybe the specific type I can summon just end their evolutionary line at this point. I could use the forced evolution thing from that skill I required, but that seems even more of a waste to use it on the dragonkin then it did on the elder earth dragon.

Back at the top of the room across from the stairs I add a door. Now to cross the room they will most certainly have to be able to fly or float. For an added measure I give each of the dragonkin a key to the door on the other side of the room, but none of which actually open the door, or I wouldn’t be able to have the dragonkin wait in the rooms off to the side.

Instead the actual key to the door lies at the bottom of the room among the spikes. Falling on the spikes would sure to be fatal, but even if you did make it down to the spikes somehow traversing the spikes to find the key would be no easy task.

I would say the next room I create is another massive labyrinth but even looking at the map view it might appear to be the roughly the same size in reality it is a lot smaller. Most of the space is taken up by 5 large rooms that span both the 8th and 9th sub-levels, while the labyrinth itself is only a single floor.

This time the labyrinth is broken down into 4 smaller rooms each with its own set of switches blocking access to the large rooms or the path forward. They are set up in such a way however that you may have to enter the room from one side to access some of the switches, but the door the switches control is through a entrance from the other side of the labyrinth.

That means to enter each other large empty rooms it will take at least 11 people, each to man a switch and one to enter the room. Once in the room however they will have to deal with a monster equal to the strongest elemental monsters I have.

These huge boss like rooms are like the pit room however connected all the way down into sub-level 9, but the real trick to it is instead of going with the elemental orbs again I placed two switches in each of these boss like rooms.

When making the rooms on sub-level 9 before I connected them to the rooms to sub-level 8 I made them as a single room, but blocked off with walls from one another. That means they will have to pass through the labyrinth on sub-level 8 to enter each boss like room, and then leave 2 people behind to man the switches there.

That means it will take at least 10 people to enter the room, but 12 to man both switches in the first room. Leaving the two extra behind and moving on to the next one. That means before it is all said and done it will take no less than 20 people to activate all the switches, and even then that is at only 2 people being able to attack the boss like monsters at a time.

Once they finally make it that far and manage all 10 of the switches on sub-level 9 it will open the path to a single tiny room containing my crystal. I can’t really afford to add many monsters to the labyrinth right now, so I just throw in a bunch of the dragonkin as cannon fodder in hopes that it will unlock the higher tier.

Still no luck however, and after placing the boss like monsters in each of the rooms I am running quite low on xp yet again.

Lilah: “Master barely added any monsters there, how is Master planning to stop them with that?”

“I just don’t think we have any monsters strong enough to stop them out right, we have to find a way to out think them. This new set up should double the amount of people they have to have, and even then they have to be strong enough to take the likes of a griffon or the phoenix in groups of 2.”

Lilah: “Rosalinda is a dungeon core, she can return home and summon as many monsters as they need now.”

“But the question is can she summon monsters strong enough to take the phoenix, griffon, or others in that quantity? I am also banking quite a bit about their worry about running out of time. Not only that but Zoey and the others should be reaching Madam Erin’s soon, and Byson should be working on trying to contact Madam Erin as well.”

Lilah: “What about Madam Erin’s monsters? Should we send them in to slow Hecate’s group down?”

“I really want to not risk sentient monsters like that, if worse comes to worse we will use them on the new floor.”

Lilah: “Master said that about the Labyrinth…”

“They still have quite a bit of the labyrinth to go, why don’t you get some rest.”

Lilah: “Master barely got any sleep at all yesterday, so Master should get some sleep!”

“As long as they are in the dungeon I don’t think I can get any sleep…”

Lilah: “Then Lilah will stay up with Master!”

After I finally agree we continue to watch as Hecate’s group makes their way thought he labyrinth, in just the time it took me to set up the new area of the dungeon they have managed to find a total of 8 switches now.

I guess the new floors was a good call, I was expecting a single dungeon core to attack us, but not several, so we are at one hell of a disadvantage. We keep throwing what he have at them, but it isn’t doing any good.

By midmorning there is a loud thud as the large circular disk hits the floor after the final switch is located. The dwarf quickly informs Hecate, and Hecate along with Rosalinda quickly arrive back at the large door.

Hecate: “Is it the crystal?!”

Dwarf: “It appears to be a set of stairs.”

Hecate: “Impossible, his dungeon should in no way be this big!”

Rosalinda: “There is the xp he has been gaining from you the last two days, it shouldn’t be surprised he is putting it all into making the dungeon larger.”

Hecate: “I have dealt with enough monsters to easily cost him more xp then he is receiving!”

Rosalinda: “That is to say if he replaced them, he is smart enough to know the monsters can’t stop us, so he is just trying to bid his time now in hopes help will come.”

Hecate: “Well standing around isn’t going to get us anywhere, come let’s check it out, we can then use [Gate] to gather everyone back up.”

Hecate, the dwarf, and Rosalinda move forward down the stairs, once reaching the end of the stairs the door at the end of the stairs is intentionally hard to open, so when the dwarf slams against the door it swings wide leaving him nowhere to go but down.

Hecate tries to grab him as he goes, but the lack of light and the surprise of it makes her unable to grab him, and she doesn’t dare try to [Blink] into the darkness. Rosalinda seems unaffected, and doesn’t even budge.

The sounds of the dwarf’s scream is ended by the scrapping as he finally hits the bottom impaled on the spikes below.

Rosalinda: “That distance… He had to have connected this room to several levels.”

Hecate: “Like you said he is just trying to slow us down. There isn’t room here to recall the others. I can see well in the dark, but not the pitch black, can you see what is in there?”

Rosalinda: “Only enough to see movement. Here, close your eyes. [Solar!]

The room is then filled with a blinding light as it appears like a mini sun forms in the center of the room. It is enough that the 5 liches just evaporate into the air without a chance. That was a far greater waste of xp then I anticipated…

Hecate even after closing her eyes tight also uses her arms to shield her eyes from the blinding light. After the initial burst of light the giant ball still remains, but the light is only blinding if you look directly at it. It seems to remain in the air just spinning in place.

Hecate: “I don’t see any other doors down there, or the crystal. Did we miss something?”

Rosalinda: “The spikes are pretty thick, the crystal could be hidden under them somewhere, but that doesn’t seem like Two-Twelve’s style.”

Rosalinda then casts a spell stepping forward into the air without falling. She is slowly descending, but slow enough it would probably take a few minutes to descend enough to not to be able to reach the door again.

She begins walking around the room in the air, till she passes to the side of the mini sun and sees the door on the other side.

Rosalinda: “There is a door on the other side, but it can’t be that simple…”

Hecate: “I could probably find a way across, but I can’t fly. Maybe that was what he was counting on?”

Rosalinda: “In any case…” –She walks over to the door trying to open it.- “As I figured it is locked.”

Hecate: “If the key was somewhere back in the labyrinth somewhere, we might never find it.”

Rosalinda: “No, I can tell this room is new, perhaps even newer then a few hours old. I don’t think he could have hidden the key in the labyrinth. I think it has to be here somewhere.”

Hecate: “Down we go then I guess?” –She says casting [Shadow Pocket].-

Hecate begins to pull out a rope, but there isn’t really any place to tie it to, but that doesn’t seem to bother her, because with one end still within the [Shadow Pocket] she just grabs ahold of the rope and jumps…

She quickly falls though the room as the rope pulls out of the [Shadow Pocket] but by the time she is about 20 feet above the spikes she twists her wrist and the [Shadow Pocket] closes tight against the rope, causing her to jerk about, but even though the rope stretches it doesn’t appear to be enough that it still would have ripped my arm off if I tried to do something like that, but Hecate seems unaffected.

Meanwhile Rosalinda just points her feet downwards and begins to descend at a much faster pace now. The wall now opens up and the dragonkin then begin to pour out into the room. One quickly slashes Hecate’s rope.

At this distance it will far from kill her, it might not even hurt her, but it’s enough that she lands awkwardly, and has a bit of trouble moving. Rosalinda quickly swings her hand around and balls of fire quickly launch from the small sun causing it to shrink in size each time.

The rain of corpses start to fall on the spikes as Hecate tries to right herself, coming across a dragonkin corpse that lands right next to her she uses its body to give herself something to stand on, and she finds the key around its neck.

Hecate: “I found the key! It was around this dragonkin’s neck!” –She then looks over at another corpse not a few feet away and curses.- “Damnit, never mind! There is a key around that one’s neck as well, and I am sure not all the keys fit the lock, so don’t burn them to bad where we can’t get the right key!”

Rosalinda disposes of the dragonkin while Hecate proceeds across the spikes from body to body trying to recover all the keys, and by the time they are done the small sun is the size of a large ball. Even at that size it still emits enough light that there is no difficulty seeing around the entire room. Rosalinda then begins to help Hecate recover the last of the keys.

Hecate: “They all look relatively the same, do you see any of them that stand out?”

Rosalinda: “Not so far, we will just have to try them all and see.”

Hecate: “Alright, I think that is all of them, now we just have to get back up to the door.”

Rosalinda: “I am sure you didn’t come all the way down here without a way to get back up?”

Hecate: “I didn’t plan on the rope getting cut, I was going to use my magic to move the [Shadow Pocket] to the other side, I could always use a few castings of [Blink] to reach the door, but I have no way to hold myself there.”

Rosalinda: “It’s a good thing you brought me along then isn’t it? Here put this on, and think of a winged creature. –She says while tossing her a small ring.- “Just be sure the creature has hands and is small enough to fit though the door after we get it open.”

Rosalinda then puts on a second ring, and her shape quickly changes to that of a creature that if I didn’t know any better, I would say it was an Avian, but somehow it looks more, feral? When Hecate puts on the ring her shape doesn’t change much but she sprouts large butterfly like wings, and resembles more of a top tier human sized fairy.

Dungeon Core Information doesn’t work anymore so I can’t tell if Rosalinda’s name disappeared from it, but if it is the same kind of ring she used to turn into a merciless troll, I must assume it is the same as the rings I can make. If that is the case just now many of these rings does she have?

Rosalinda reaches the door first but has trouble staying in one spot with her massive bird like wings, and it takes her close to 10 minutes to go through her small handful of keys. Next up is Hecate, and her wings seem to serve her quite a bit better then Rosalinda’s were, and even though she has at least three times as many keys it only takes her the same amount of time.

Hecate: “None of them fit… We must have missed one.”

Rosalinda: “What are the odds we happened to miss just the right key? No we should have thought it before, those dragonkin where hidden behind a wall, that means they couldn’t of had the right key. He got us good with that one…”

Hecate: “Then where is the right key?”

Rosalinda: “I think our first assumption had to been right, it has to be among the spikes somewhere.”

Hecate: “Damnit! We don’t have time for this!”

Rosalinda: “This room is brand new, and he has to be scrapping the bottom of the barrel on xp, so we should still be able to make it.” –She then swoops back down towards the spikes looking for the key.-

Hecate heads down and begins looking as well. They continue to search until they finally manage to find the key, but it is now getting close to noon. If they were worried about time this morning, they should surely be in quite the hurry now. With a soft click the door releases and they are able to proceed into the next room.

Hecate: “Son of a bitch, another damn labyrinth, and you can be sure he is going to be using the same damn switches.”

Rosalinda: “No more messing around, you return to gather the others on the floor above, and I will go get us a few more hands to take care of this.”

They then both teleport from the room, Hecate arrives back at the floor above where the others have all now gathered at the door that has relocked itself, but with the portal of [Gate] still open they return to the 8th sub-floor.

A few more hands is an understatement… I watch though the [Archjusticar Menu] as Rosalinda returns to what I assume is her dungeon and she then opens a pathway back to my dungeon and begins summoning monsters. One after another the creatures pour from her dungeon into mine.

They all seem to be types of werewolves, but then again werewolf implies that they ware wolves. Maybe a better way to say it is werecreature, because they are limited to wolves as much as a beastkin is limited to a single species.

The one thing that seems universal is they are all types of predator animals, wolves, cats, bears, even a few birds of prey that make me understand the creature she took the shape of with the ring. The worst part is they just don’t seem to stop, as one after another just pour into my dungeon.

They don’t even stop once they pass though the portal and immediately trudge off into the labyrinth. By the time there are at least 100 of the werecreatures in my dungeon Rosalinda finally steps through the portal herself and it closes behind her.

Hecate: “Good god, do you think that is enough? The cost of so many monsters…”

Rosalinda: “You think we would have been able to make it through another labyrinth otherwise?”

Hecate: “You may be right, but are you sure?”

Rosalinda: “To late to be asking that now isn’t it?”

With the werecreatures tearing though my dungeon as quick as they can even with Belinda, Roxy, and all the bunnies’ assistance we can’t keep track of them all. There isn’t even much in the way of monsters to slow them down.

I was thinking we would be able to delay them till nightfall, but I will be lucky to be able to hold on for another hour at this rate!

They don’t even check to see if a switch is the correct one now as every switch that is found now holds a werecreature. A dozen or so of the creatures pour into the first of the boss rooms and even though the griffon is able to take out 3 of them, they finally manage to pin it to the ground and literally begin to eat it alive.

That of course unlocked the summoning of said werecreatures, but right now I am far too busy to pay attention to such things quickly closing the screen to get it out of my view.

First was the griffon, then the crab, next was the phoenix, and then the small earth dragon. They have managed to take out quite a few, but there is just so many of these werecreatures that it doesn’t look like there are any less then when they started, the last room holds both of the hellhounds I summoned, but I don’t know how much better they are going to hold out.

Like Hecate the werecreatures seem to have a weakness against the hellhounds, but even as they keep falling, I know it is only a matter of time before they eventually manage to take them out. Even if they can’t then the labyrinth is complete and Hecate and Rosalinda will have no trouble at all.

When it looks like we no longer have any hope remaining someone appears in the dungeon core room startling us all.

Zoey: “I’m Back!”

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