Chapter 153: Azami’s Progress

 

A few more days have passed since Rory’s birth, and things are starting to reach a new normal. For Ceres’s strange behavior we still haven’t figured it out, because she hasn’t made another visit since, and with how she was looking forward to the baby we found that rather odd.

On the other hand the message [Menu] sent out about Rory’s birth must have sparked a few interested parties, because even though it’s a week late a few more dungeon cores are now interested in what I have to say about the ones attacking us.

With only 50 or so current members, we can’t really afford to turn anyone away, so even if they are just hoping to get information on how I was able to have a child, maybe that alone will be enough to get the information out about the ones attacking the dungeon cores.

The Elders have been asking for continuous updates about Rory, but she is just a baby so it isn’t like there is much to tell them. They understand the process of birth, but just because it hasn’t ever happened with a Dungeon Core before you would think they completely forgot the concept all together…

Madam Erin was the first of the Elders to arrive in person to meet my daughter, and Dyson seeming to not be able to let that go arrives shortly later. He however brought several gifts, but none of which appropriate for a newborn infant, and even less so for a girl. I of course reject them all, but still allow them to meet my daughter.

After leaving Belinda and Rory to rest we return to the entranceway of the house when Madam Erin says.  “She really is a baby…”

“Of course she is a baby… You didn’t honestly expect Belinda to give birth to a full grown dungeon core did you?”

Madam Erin: “Well at least she is a dungeon core, so she doesn’t require the maintenance of a human infant.”

“She has no xp to speak of, so she is required to sustain herself like a human does until she is old enough to make that decision herself, so no, she is pretty much exactly like a human infant.”

Madam Erin: “That is ridiculous! I am not breastfeeding an infant!”

Dyson: “I am sure that would traumatize the child more than it would you…”

“Besides, wouldn’t it be Elexia that one that would have to deal with that end of it?”

Dyson: “What’s this?”

“You haven’t told Dyson yet…?”

Madam Erin: “No, and I hadn’t planed on it. I guess he would have found out eventually since there are those messages about the new cores being born.”

“We still haven’t told the other Elders about the rings yet, have you thought of a way to handle that yet?”

Madam Erin: “There are so many of those rings floating around now due to the ones trying to kill us are using them so readily, so I thought of just using the excuse that I acquired and used one from them.”

Dyson: “It’s not like there is anyone left to tell, Lucille is the only other original Elder left besides Madam Erin, and I think she will have her hands full enough with Laura, and not have time to worry about what we are doing.”

“As much as Lucille couldn’t care less about humans, she sure is making a big deal of which human has control over the land her dungeon sits on. They need to quit worrying about their petty squabbles and worry about what is really important, like the ones out there trying to kill us all!”

Dyson: “When that human is controlled by another dungeon core you can’t really blame her. Especially when with a single word from Laura she could now sink the largest human army there is, into Lucille’s dungeon.

“That is exactly what I mean! We are too disorganized and fighting among ourselves to even deal with the group that is united in wanting us dead.”

Madam Erin: “So that is the reason for your little message out to the other dungeon cores? You don’t actually expect any to answer you do you?”

“I have just over 50 dungeon cores, and even if they won’t help in the actual fight, if I can at least keep them informed about what is going on. Then at least maybe they will be able to protect themselves until we can do something about the ones trying to kill us.”

Madam Erin: “I am surprised you got the attention of that many… But haven’t you ever thought that the ones trying to kill us will use your little group here to gather information on what we know?”

“Of course I have, but even if some of the traitorous dungeon cores are in my little group at least they are where I can see them instead of hiding in the shadows.”

Dyson: “This is a dangerous game you are playing.”

“I take that to mean neither of you two are willing to aid me with it then?”

Dyson: “You may not like the way the Elders have been doing things, but there is a reason for it. Dungeon Cores very seldom see eye to eye. Sure a few agreements can be established here and there, but what you are talking about, it is going to eventually blow up in your face.”

“I thought you were the one that wanted to change the Elders? Now you are sounding just like Lucille.”

Dyson: “With the way things are going it is time to hunker down until we can deal with this threat, and not expose ourselves further like you are doing. You are a valuable asset, but even Madam Erin and I will be unable to help you once you lose control of this.”

“I thank you then, for coming to meet my daughter, but I think it’s time for you both to go.”

Dyson looks like he is about to say something else but Madam Erin places her hand on his shoulder, Dyson then nods and they depart. I collapse into one of the benches nearby and let out a deep sigh. Belinda enters the room and sits down with me.

Belinda: “It didn’t go well?”

“I was hoping I could get them on board, they are two of the strongest if not the strongest dungeon cores there are. Dyson always said that having allies is crucial to our survival, but now that they don’t know who or from where the threat is coming from they have decided its every core for themselves it seems.”

Belinda: “You have a few strong dungeon cores in your group already. You have Ithros, Hecate, and Emery all willing to help.”

“Ithros is probably a decent core, but his behavior is pretty erratic, and then there is Hecate. She is only helping because of the debt she owes, but once its paid off I am sure she is gone. Emery has already shown us during Hecate’s attack against us, that when nothing is in it for him he is quick to bail, so I don’t know how reliable he can be, and the list just goes on and on.”

Belinda: “You have a way to bring people to you, but the girls and I have always cared very much about you, so we know you will do what you think is best, but these other cores don’t know you that well. Trust doesn’t come easy to them and yet you have to get them to trust you if you plan to lead them. Maybe you should pay father and Logan a visit? We could take Rory to meet them, and you can get advice on leading… Well, leading an army.”

“I would say they are more like mercenaries then an army, but it might not hurt to get some advice.”

Belinda: “It may take a few days to set it up, to give you enough time to speak to them for that long, but I will message Logan and set it up.”

“Alright, in the meantime I think I am going to go pay Azami a visit. I am a little worried that she still hasn’t returned, and the messages we have received from her are sketchy at best, even if that is normal for Azami I would feel better knowing she is alright.”

Belinda: “Why don’t you take Roxy and Zoey with you just in case?”

“It has already been made obvious if it is due to the great hunters influence, then having Roxy and Zoey there would only be putting them in harm’s way as well.”

Belinda: “But our job is to protect you!”

“Protect me yes, but not throw your lives away for no reason. Besides I am sure it is just Azami being Azami.”

Belinda: “At least take our equipment with you, just in case.”

“Alright.”

I then give Belinda a kiss and equip the skymetal gear I acquired from Abigail and Luther. I then use [Gate] to reach the forest home of Azami’s sister.

Many of the elves first look shocked and confused, but when one quickly approaches me he realizes who I am and relaxes a bit.

Miliano: “You startled me a quite a bit. I assume you are here to see Azami?”

“Well that was the plan. We were getting worried about her, after she left without little to go on, and she hasn’t really filled us in.”

Miliano: “Yes, we were quite shocked about her arrival as well. She won’t let anyone see what she is working on, but from what Kaelmathis has told us, she should be completing what she is working on any time now.”

“Do you know why it was important for her to come back here to complete it?”

Miliano: “Not a clue… We haven’t heard anything from Azami, other then what your wife sent us, so Azura was quite happy to see Azami to return only for Azami to lock herself away and refuse to speak with anyone once she arrived.”

“You said Kaelmathis is still with her, is that right?”

Miliano: “Yes, he comes out to get food, and rest, but that is about all. We have gotten the chance to speak a few times, but he won’t tell us what Azami is working on, only that it will be completed soon.”

“Maybe I should go speak with them.”

Seemingly on que Kaelmathis exits from one of the tent like structures and quickly approaches. “I heard the commotion and knew it had to be you. With Azami being gone as long as she has, as one of your boss monsters, I am surprised you waited this long.”

“There has been a lot going on, including Belinda having the baby…”

Kaelmathis: “That is wonderful news, but if you have come to take Azami home I beg you to give her just a few more hours. What she is working on is near completion.”

“I don’t mind her completing it, but I would at least like to talk to her for a minute.”

Kaelmathis: “She is working on a very complicated piece, and any interruption may prove disastrous, especially being her first item made from mythril, so unless it is worth her failing to acquire the mythril crafting skill I must insist you wait just a few more hours.”

“I guess I can wait a few more hours…Maybe Miliano can catch me up on what has been going on around here since our last visit.”

Kaelmathis thanks me then returns to the tent he came from, Miliano shows me around a bit, but nothing has really changed at all. He then takes me back to his place, and I visit with him and Azura for the next few hours telling them what Azami has been up to while working with my dungeon.

Kaelmathis told us that Azami’s “friends” appearance are molded by the casters personality, so Miliano and Azura seem quite happy to learn that Azami’s spriggins are gaining a more humanoid shape. They are also quite shocked about her taking on Moss as an apprentice.

Azura: “I have to admit, when I heard she had joined you, I hated you for binding her to your dungeon, but it really seems she has come a long way…So, what I mean to say is. Thank you for taking care of my sister.”

“Azami is only bound to my dungeon for as long as she wishes to be, but as long as she is I promise to treat her like family, even if at times she finds that annoying, but she has almost completely stopped repeating herself when she speaks, so I don’t think she finds us as annoying as she claims.”

We share a few more stories before Azami enters the tent looking exhausted, but when she sees me she straightens herself up. “Two-Twelve…Why are you here?”

Azura: “Because like you having us worried to death about you, you have worried him as well!”

Azami: “Then I must inform you have learned the skill in which allows the crafting of mythril armor, but I unfortunately can’t allow you to have the ability to copy the piece I was working on as it must remain one of kind.”

“I am not sure I understand.”

Azami: “Azura took my place as my surrogate in marrying Miliano, but as per the tradition a gift must be provided to Miliano for not acquiring me as promised, so I created the best armor I have ever created with Miliano and the forest in mind, creating a unique item just for him.”

Miliano: “You are the one that said the traditions were put in place by the dungeon so we shouldn’t be bound to them, so this isn’t necessary.”

Azami: “The armor was made specifically for you, so it is too late to refuse.”

“You acquired the skill, that is the important part, and I think I understand what it is you are doing, so I think it is a great idea.”

Azami: “I am doing what is required per tradition and nothing more…”

“No use keeping us in suspense any longer though, I would like to see this “greatest work” of yours.”

Azami draws a line through the air casting [Shadow Pocket] and sets up an armor rack then pulls out the most beautiful mythril armor I have ever seen, placing it on the rack. The designs on it are clearly directed to that of an elf with the plates of the armor appearing as folded metallic leaves, and the chest piece itself is almost a canvas as it has carvings depicting a forest scene with animals, trees, and the lake that is just outside the village.

Miliano: “This is too much… I can’t accept this.”

Azami: “That is your choice, but if you cannot accept the gift, then my sister must be returned.”

Azura: “Azami!”

“The armor was clearly made just for you, just accept it.”

Miliano: “If Azami will go that far to ensure I accept it, then I will treasure the armor, and your sister for the rest of my life.”

Azami: “Then the agreement is complete. Now, Two-Twelve, I have exhausted the use of my magic, so I ask you to please take me home…”

Azami then collapses, but between Kaelmathis, Miliano, Azura, and myself we manage to catch her before she hits the ground.

Kaelmathis: “She really gave it her all, you should all be proud of her.”

After saying our farewells I cast [Gate] and while carrying Azami in my arms I step through the portal with Kaelmathis following behind. I receive the message about the acquisition of the mythril crafting skill and I ask Kaelmathis to wait in the entryway of the house while I transfer to the forest up the hill to Azami’s place.

Moss throws a bit of a fit about Azami’s state, but I ignore him while putting her to bed, and then return to the house. I then approach Kaelmathis.  “It has been a while. I bet you are ready to go home.”

Kaelmathis: “Indeed, but while teaching Azami, I too learned a great deal, so this was an exchange well worth my time.”

I then get the information from Kaelmathis and return him home with [Gate]. We arrive just on the edge of a forest, and he parts ways with me there, but I thank him one last time.

Kaelmathis: “With this my debt to our mutual friend is over, so now my family will be able to rest easy.”

“You might have been fulfilling the deal you had with Dyson, but you did me a big favor as well, so if you ever need anything, you know where to find me.”

Kaelmathis: “Indeed, and take care of Azami will you?”

“Of course.”

Kaelmathis then disappears into the trees and I return home. I find Belinda in the living room siting on the couch feeding Rory with Lele and Lala at either end of the couch peeking over the armrests watching Belinda with curious faces.

I pass Lele on the way to sit down on the couch and pat her on the head while sitting down next to Belinda. “You know, there is nothing wrong about being curious… If there is something you want to ask, just ask.”

Lala and Lele quickly jump out from beside the couch and start rambling questions to Belinda about Rory it takes them both about 5 minutes to calm down enough to realize they haven’t giving Belinda enough time to even answer one of their questions.

They then slow down and give Belinda time to answer them, and after Rory finishes eating they each take turns holding her for a while before they finally return to the dungeon core room. After the room quiets down Rory falls asleep, and Belinda asks me. “How did things go with Azami?”

“She is home now, we acquired the skill, and she seems to have worked some things out with her sister in her own way.”

Belinda: “We made a lot of progress with her, but I think working with Kaelmathis really helped he a lot.”

“Between Moss and Kaelmathis, it seems she does better when she is around other elves so maybe we should summon a few more of them and let her teach them elven crafting like she did for Moss.”

Belinda: “Dwarves love to craft, but it is only a small group of elves that study crafting, so it might take quite a few more elves then it would dwarves to reach what we have accomplished with them, and maybe even a full village worth of elves.”

“Summoning them wouldn’t be too difficult, but maybe we should come up with a plan to introduce them.”

Belinda: “Maybe you should slow down a bit… We have so much on our plate as it is, without having to add to it right now.”

“I guess you are right, if I summoned them they would have to stay bound to the dungeon because of the great hunter, but if something where to happen to me all those lives would be lost.”

Belinda: “We will get through this, and by then maybe it will be a better time. I did manage to get ahold of Logan while you were gone, and he said he and father could meet with us tomorrow.”

“I am surprised it is so soon.”

Belinda: “Me too, but I think father is excited to meet his granddaughter.”

“Ben has children doesn’t he? This isn’t your father’s first grandchild.”

Belinda: “Ben’s kids are strictly Duscae royalty as per the agreement when Ben married his wife, so even if they technically are his grandchildren he can’t claim them as such.”

“I don’t think I will ever figure out how this royalty thing works…”

Belinda: “For royalty titles are often more important than blood, that is why it was so easy for father to claim you as a son, but so hard for him to treat his actual grandchildren as relatives.”

“It still makes no sense to me.”

Belinda: “The deals between Gowen and Duscae have always been strange, and I am sure there is more to it then father is letting on, but I am not sure he has even entrusted all of it to Logan yet.”

Belinda and I spend the rest of the afternoon talking, and when Rory falls asleep just after sundown we decide to get to bed early as well. Rory wakes us up a few times during the night, but for the most part she is pretty easy to get back to sleep after feeding or changing her.

The next morning we set out for the Gowen capital to meet with Logan and Belinda’s Father. Logan usually greets us before we meet with Belinda’s father but this time it is one of the servants that tells us that he will inform the king of our arrival.

“It’s strange for Logan not to be the one to meet with us, he is here right?”

Belinda: “His message didn’t say anything about him being away, so he should be.”

We wait in the waiting room for a while before the servant returns to escort us to Belinda’s father. When we enter the room Logan and the king are both sitting there, and it isn’t until the king dismisses the servant and we are all alone in the room before he speaks.

King Rondsom: “Hurry child! Bring me my grandchild, I want to meet her!”

Belinda smiles and takes Rory to her father.

Logan: “Father was really looking forward this, he wouldn’t even allow me to meet with you before because he wanted to meet her first.”

The kings face lights up as he hold Rory in a way that seems to completely diminish his usual stoic personality. “She has her mother’s eyes and hair, but I guess I can say that is only due to the influence your dungeon had on my daughter.”

“I didn’t mean for Belinda’s hair or eye color to change when she joined my dungeon…”

King Rondsom: “I believe it suits them both quite beautifully.”

Belinda doesn’t quite know how to respond. It isn’t often she receives compliments from her father.

King Rondsom: “And you indeed decided to go with the name of Rory? I am sure my grandfather would have been glad to hear that. See Logan, this is what you are missing out on, if you don’t hurry boy you will be my age before get around to having children of your own.”

Logan: “If I join Queen’s dungeon will my age even matter…?”

King Rondsom: “I would like to still be around to see your children as well!”

Logan: “Forgive me for wanting to be sure about who I choose as my Queen, I won’t want them to leave me and undermined everything I do for the rest of my life!”

King Rondsom: “Your mother doesn’t undermined me, she is simply trying to doing the best she can for her own kingdom. The wedding in a few days between your sister and the prince of Exeter will not only benefit Duscae but Gowen greatly as well.”

Logan:” You have always had a blind spot where mother is concerned, she is only marrying Tanya to the Exeter prince, because she was afraid of the disadvantage Duscae had against Gowen in matters concerning Exeter.”

King Rondsom: “And had she married one of Ben’s daughters off, or one of the other princesses of Duscae we wouldn’t have benefited from it as well, but she chose Tanya, and in doing so solidified the agreement Belinda already managed to make with Exeter.”

Logan: “That is only because she doesn’t want to lose her own seat by allowing Ben’s wife, or one of her sisters to gain more power than her.”

King Rondsom: “I will speak no more of this. This is happy occasion, so if you wish to continue dragging your mother’s name through the mud you can do it someplace else. Speaking of Tanya’s wedding, however. My attendance in such an event would be practically impossible were it not for my daughter being capable of using teleportation magic, so if I could ask of you to give me hand with the matter?”

Belinda: “Of course! I was worried about Rory making the trip when I was still carrying her, but she made the trip here without even waking up, so I don’t see why we can’t attend and help you there as well.”

King Rondsom: “Excellent. Now I believe my other son had some questions for us as well?”

I spend a great deal of time picking the king and Logan’s brains for ways to help me deal with the other dungeon cores, and the king doesn’t turn loose of Rory until she begins to fuss when she becomes hungry, but even then he only parts with her with reluctance.

I learn a great deal of things I didn’t know before, and I don’t know how they will carry over between humans and Dungeon Cores, but it is at least worth a shot. One thing that is made clear is speaking with just communication parchment will always cause problems.

We need to find a way for the group to gather in a singular location to meet. The King and Logan both agree that having an actual meeting face to face with all of them will make a huge difference when it comes to building trust.

I am sure that is the reason for our enemies building that unified dungeon, as a way to easily travel to and from that location they can all gather at. That may be the easiest way to go about it, but I don’t know how many millions of xp that would take to create over 50 imitation crystals, and that is only if they haven’t made some already…

Another option is just making one myself like the neutral zone and then using those portals I managed to learn how to make to give access to that secondary dungeon, but there are quite a few safety concerns with that option.

If there was a singular access to all of our dungeons, our enemies could use that against us, but the cost of creating such a thing would still be in the millions of xp, so I don’t know if that would even work anyway. Not to mention I don’t know if some of the dungeon cores in our group would have enough magic to active the portals.

After the conversation between the king, Logan, and myself ends, we hammer out the details about using the [Gate] spell to go to Tanya’s wedding and then Belinda and I return home. This time Rory was awake for the passing through of the portal, and she still doesn’t seem to be effected by it…

Full grown humans lose their lunch after teleporting for the first time, yet Rory handles it without even blinking…

Belinda: “Was meeting with father helpful?”

“Well it created more problems, but it isn’t like those problems didn’t exist before, I just didn’t know they were problems. You can’t fix what you don’t know about, so we are at least in no worse shape than we started in, and I did gain a few pointers in handling the others, so it wasn’t a fix all solution, but it was a step in the right direction.”

Belinda: “And what about Father’s reaction to Rory? I have to say I was quite surprised.”

“Really? I thought it was just like your father…”

Belinda: “How is it you know my father, better than I do…?”

“I guess he just likes me better.” –I say jokingly.-

Belinda then hits me on the shoulder takes Rory to lay down. It is still a while before nightfall so I spend the remainder of the day working on the portal runic magic stone in hopes to at least make it function like the one in Uthaira or the portals that Madam Erin makes, where the location can be changed. I keep at it without success late into the evening until Belinda finally begs me to come bed.

 

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