We are already a week into the New Year. Maeve and Logan both have already returned home, and I am still no closer to finding a way for these other dungeon cores and I to get together at one time. I sent messages to the teams of monsters we have out gathering xp, to try their best. I tell them if they are getting a steady supply of xp with where they are, they should keep at it rather than trying to find another location, at least for now.
Bandy and Poppy’s groups are still the best performers bringing in as much between their two groups as all the others combined not including the groups in Shima. I am tempted to ship their two groups back to Shima, but I think at this point any group will do well in Shima, but only Bandy and Poppy’s group can do well anywhere.
As for our two scholars in Merretta, we had to recall them because with the tensions rising in the capital after the death of Merretta’s King and its prince, they were starting to be followed and it just wasn’t safe for them there anymore.
After Ceres started opening up to us, they didn’t really learn anything that Ceres didn’t tell us directly, so it wasn’t that big of a loss. Even as mages, they have no combat experience and their power level is extremely low at level 1, but they know quite a bit, so between helping Scylla and at the Mage’s Guild they have remained busy.
As much as we saw Ceres before Rory’s birth, I am starting to get worried that we haven’t heard from her since. I really want to ask her if there is something she could do with her sister that controls [Menu] to get her to help us out, but I think even if Ceres was here, she still wouldn’t do something like that…
We have had another death of a dungeon core, and I am not sure what it means, but it wasn’t at Dyson’s hands this time but that of Beatrice again. I don’t know if they have given up using Dyson as a fall guy, or if this Beatrice is acting on her own.
From what Chansey said Beatrice wouldn’t have been capable of killing Draco, but the core that died this time was much weaker, but the biggest problem is that he was one from the group I am trying to build. I can’t say that is making things any easier with the others, I am afraid if I don’t get them together soon I might start losing some of them.
That also means if we didn’t have any of the traitors in our group before there is a possibility they now at least have one of our communication parchments.
Belinda has started to return to work, helping Scylla, but between Listel and Rory she is pretty much just serving as a babysitter while freeing Scylla and Kline up to take care of matters more quickly. I suggested hiring a babysitter, or even perhaps summoning someone with that intention in mind, but Belinda firmly rejected saying maybe after a while when she starts working for the dungeon again, but for now she wants to spend as much time with Rory as possible, so I guess I can’t blame her.
So far all of Tanya and Exavier’s training has been academic so Tanya has thrived leaving her to help her husband out, but I am sure once actual fighting is involved it will quickly switch. So far they have stayed out of the inn choosing to remain here with us, so we just have to be a bit more careful with dungeon matters when we are at home. It isn’t any worse than when Mindy was here, so it isn’t much of an issue.
The runic magic stones the Mage’s Guild make, are now everywhere… Several businesses, especially Tobes largest entrepreneur, Denova, have been using them to replace several of her businesses functions. Always bragging on it with gimmicks like “Our rooms are cleaned thoroughly by use of magic stones daily!” and that sort of thing.
I don’t honestly see what the difference it makes in cleaning by hand or by magic, but it seems to be working for her because even in the dead of winter, her inn is packed and her businesses are constantly growing. Her employees must be drained of magic at the end of each day though, for all the amount of simple tasks they preform now require for them to use magic on.
Magical aptitude has also started to become a key factor in hiring process in some of the other businesses as well, even though they use far less of the magic stones.
As for the dungeon, with the heavy winter it hasn’t seen much action mostly the only ones entering are the soldiers and the mages. They keep the pathway up to the dungeon clear enough that a few groups that got caught in Tobes for the winter are still visit the dungeon every so often, to make enough money from items gathered inside and the commissions, to keep out of the cold.
I wanted to introduce new species of demi-humans into the gnome village by now, but with the way we are trying to save xp right now, I guess it will have to wait till after we get this figured out. As for progress on the portal, I don’t think anything I can do will change the way this one functions.
I might have luck making another from scratch, but that would cost another 25,000xp, and if it turned out the same it would just be a waste. I decide to give it a try anyway, I will make sure the location for the portal is a wide open area of Tobes, that way even if the portal works the exact same way as the other, I can at least take the stone somewhere like the capital and at least give them a one-way portal to Tobes.
After summoning the magic stone I stop to think hard about how the portal in Uthaira and Madam Erin’s portals look. Building an archway instead of carving the runes directly onto the stone would be easy enough, but even though it works well with items, I don’t know if I could connect the magic stone to the archway in a way that the stone would access the runes on the archway to activate the portal.
So far I can either activate runes directly with [Runic Activation] magic like I did on the weapons, armor, and monsters during Hecate’s attack, or carve the runes into a magic stone using the rune for [Runic Activation], but I don’t know if I can separate the two.
Everything I have come up with has shocked and awed the Mage’s Guild, so I doubt asking them will do any good. Madam Erin was already worried about what I have accomplished with the spells she gave me, and we aren’t exactly on the best of terms right now, so I am not sure about asking her.
Maybe I should take a step back. Instead of using the expensive magic stone, maybe I should try it with weaker stones and spells.
I take one of the standard swords we use in the dungeon out of the dungeon’s inventory and begin using [Runic Writing] to carve in the runes for the [Fire] spell. I know if I active these runes with [Runic Activation] it will bathe the sword with flames, or if I carve the same runes into a magic stone and then embed it into the sword it will have the same effect.
My question is can I carve the runes into the sword while using a stone with only the [Runic Activation] rune on it… I quickly however find the answer to that question is no. I try to up the quality of the magic stone by one, but it still will not work.
I then spend the better part of the afternoon trying to invent the right rune for such a task, using commands like [Link], [Combine], [Pair], [Merge] among others but that still doesn’t allow it to work. I then switch it out to treat them as separate objects giving the magic stone’s [Runic Activation] a target, but using commands like [Sword], [Attached Object], [Touching Object] among others still doesn’t allow the two to work together.
I then forgo putting any runes on the magic stone, putting them all on the sword including the [Runic Activation] then set to find a way to make it use the attached magic stone as a source. If I don’t figure this out soon it is going to drive me crazy.
Ok back to the drawing board. If I summon an enchanted item the item itself is its own magic stone per say. It doesn’t cost much xp because any weapon I summon while altering its appearance automatically gains an enchantment, so even a standard steel sword receives an enchantment albeit a very poor quality one, but for what I plan on doing it should prove the point.
I summon the steel sword and it comes with an enchantment that keeps the blade from dulling, nothing special at all, but the sword should be functioning as a magic stone now. [Fire] might even still be too much for that kind of spell, so I try a simple [Light] spell carving its runes into the sword.
When it is completed the sword begins to glow faintly, but after a few seconds the entire sword cracks and breaks… Even a simple [Light] spell was too much for that sword, but the enchantment was already using the sword’s magic power, so I guess if you try to use 100% of its magical power twice things are bound to go wrong.
I did learn however that it is possible to use an item with an enchantment as a temporary magic stone, but I think I am starting to veer off of what I am trying to accomplish. I may be able to make a one-time use emergency portal on an enchanted item, but to use it to bring the dungeon cores together it won’t help any.
An enchanted item is essentially a magic stone, so the actual physical stone isn’t important. I already have mastered the art of changing the appearance of items I summon, so maybe I can try to change the actual magic stone.
I decide to give it a shot. I find one of the cheap magic stones in [Menu] and prepare to summon it. This magic stone is too small to be used for much, so I am not sure on what to do with it so I just focus on a dagger as I accept the summoning of a magic stone.
The result is a small crystalline dagger, but when I mean small, I mean small… It appears I can’t change the objects size with this type of summoning as the small crystalline dagger fits in the palm of my hand from tip of the hilt to tip of the blade.
It won’t make any difference if it doesn’t work, so even though the dagger is practically useless I still use [Runic Writing] to carve in the [Fire] runes into it. Carving the runes into an object with [Runic Writing] works about the same as [Menu] or the Adventurer’s Guild magic, by giving you a small screen in which you draw in the runes and it carves them into the object. If you tried to carve them in by hand I don’t know how you would be able to put it on objects that small accurately.
Besides doing it by hand I don’t know if they would be able to be used magically. Madam Erin draws out the runes by hand, but I already know her special ability for being an Elder involves the use of runes, so that could be the reason she is able to.
In any case it doesn’t take long until the runes are carved and I activate the dagger holding the hilt between two fingers. Well, it may never be a weapon, but it might make a good fire starter for a hearth or stove. Now that I know it works I need to try to increase the size.
I try several different things, but one thing is sure the size of the magic stone can’t be altered, so I end up with a half dozen dagger shaped toothpicks… Using my [Dungeon Jewelcrafting] skill I can change the quality and alter gems that are stored in my dungeon’s inventory, so would a magic stone count as a gem?
With [Menu] open I try to use the skill selecting one of the dagger like magic stones I stored in the dungeon inventory. This gives me the basic stats of the item including quality it allows me to remold the magic stone back into a small stone like shape.
There is an option for secondary ingredient which is used to add the jewel to a foundation in jewelry, but what if I select a sword instead? It lets me select the sword and add the stone to it. It says the alterations will cost 25xp, but that’s no big deal so I accept and pull the sword from my dungeon’s inventory.
The magic stone is embedding in the sword in the exact same fashion as if I used my [Enchanter] skill rather than the [Dungeon Jewelcrafting] skill. Just to be sure I use [Runic Writing] to carve runes into the sword and stone, but still get no results.
“Damnit!” –I call out slamming the sword down on the desk startling the bunnies currently monitoring the dungeon.-
Lilah: “Is Master alright…?”
“Yes… I just can’t get this to work at all.”
Lylah: “Hang in there Master! You will figure it out!”
“I’m not sure there is anything to figure out… I might just be trying to do the impossible.”
Lilah: “Master does many impossible things. If Master puts his mind to it, Master will get it done.”
“I wish I had your confidence…”
Lilah: “Maybe Master just needs a break? Master has been working for hours and hours.”
“Maybe you are right…”
I stretch in my chair looking through the screens and see that the sun has already setting. I have been at this all day, maybe I should give it a rest and start again in the morning.
“Alright, thanks Lilah. Maybe I will have better luck tomorrow.”
Lilah: “Master doesn’t need luck!”
I move over to Lilah rubbing her head, which she seems to enjoy, but maybe a bit more then she should. Making me wish I didn’t do it… “Alright, I will see you girls in the morning.”
I then transfer back to the house while thinking I need to be more careful around Lilah, after what she announced a few weeks ago… When I enter the living room I am surprised to find Azami there. She is sitting in the chair across from Belinda and Rory making something with her [Elven Crafting] skill, but I am not sure what.
“What are you all up to…?”
Belinda: “Shush! Azami is concentrating!” –She says while urging me to sit down with her.-
“What is she making?”
Belinda: “She said she wanted to make something for Rory, and went to it.”
“How long has she been going at it?”
Belinda: “Since I got home.”
“How long was that…?”
Belinda: “Just a few hours. Now quiet.”
“A few hours…? With her abilities she can make a full sword in that time.”
The light fades and the object comes to rest in Azami’s hand as she says. “There it is complete.”
The object she is holding is a short shaft with a large ball looking thing at the end it almost looks like a miniature mace without any sharpness to it, and it is made from the blueish mythril.
“What is it…?”
Azami: “Forgive me if she is still too young, but human children age much faster than elves, I did not wish to be too late.” –She says holding the object by the shaft and shaking it causing it to make a metallic rattling sound, she then hands it to Belinda.-
“You made my daughter a mythril rattle…?”
Azami: “I need to practice my skill on simple objects, and assumed it would be the perfect way to do so. Now if you will excuse me, Moss was derelict on his training while I was busy, so I need to ensure he is still working.” –She then transfers from the room.-
“What was all that about…?”
Belinda: “I don’t know, but I thought it was sweet. She could of made anything, but she wanted to make that for Rory, and there is the time she came to breakfast with everyone when my brother and Maeve was here. I think she is trying much harder to be part of the family, and she just doesn’t know how.”
“Well I am happy she is trying to fit in more.”
Belinda: “What have you been doing all day.”
“Nothing as exciting as crafting a mythril baby rattle… “ –I say jokingly, and then continue with a sigh.- “I was working on making the portals better, but every step I seemed to take forward made me end up right back where I started.”
Belinda: “Well I am sure you will figure something out, you might be stuck now, but I am sure you will figure it out, you always do.”
“Lilah said the same thing…”
Belinda: “Well Lilah is a smart girl. She may be a little too attached to my husband, but she is smart.”
“You know about that…?”
Belinda: “Of course, you can tell by the way she looks at you.”
“I was hoping she would grow out of it, but she is starting to get old enough now, that it is becoming quite troubling.”
Belinda: “You are the only real example of a man she has, she doesn’t interact with many people. You have always been there for her, and given her everything she has needed, so it is no surprise she is attached to you, and she is at that age where things like that can easily get confused.”
“What do I need to do with her then?”
Belinda: “Well a little bird told me you already had to refuse her outright. These crushes at her age are not always rational. I remember I had the biggest crush on my mentor when I wanted to become an adventurer, which of course didn’t make sense, and like me, Lilah will just have to realize on her own how foolish she is being, but until then you just might want to make sure you don’t encourage her.”
“I thought your mentor was an old man.”
Belinda: “So that you choose to remember… Yes, and I said it wasn’t rational and I was foolish. I am just glad I didn’t have Lilah’s courage to come out and tell him ,or I really would have looked like a fool, and don’t you ever tell anyone that story, you hear me? Logan and Amy would never let me hear the end of it…”
“As obvious as Lilah was to you, I am sure you were just as transparent to them. Even if not Logan, I am sure Amy noticed.”
Belinda: “Oh…” –She says looking sullen, but she then shakes her head.- “No, I am sure if she knew she would of brought it up…Probably…”
Belinda and I speak for a while longer before heading to bed, and over the course of the next few days I continue to work on the runic magic stones for the portals but I haven’t gotten anywhere. We then receive a visit from the local Faron priest.
Priest: “I am sorry to disturb you, but I have received word from High Priest Martin that he would like to speak with you.”
“Did he say what it was about?”
Priest: “He didn’t, but he said it was quite important that he speaks with you.”
“Alright, I will contact him…”
The priest thanks me and then departs. I really wanted to continue working on those portals, but I haven’t found out anything in days, so a break might do me some good. Besides it might be concerning Ceres and why we haven’t seen her since Rory’s birth, so it might be a good idea to find out what he knows.
After informing Belinda on what I am going to do I set off for Faron’s Grand Cathedral. I haven’t been back here since Ceres restored it, but it really does look like it returned just the way it was before Faron’s death.
It still being here means Ceres is still alive right? Or would it even matter now that it wasn’t built by a dungeon. In any case I am quickly allowed entrance. Passing through the halls everything looks the same, although I think if look at Faron’s statues hard enough, they might seem more feminine then they did before, or maybe I am just looking into it too much.
I am greeted by several of the High Priests, but I don’t see Martin among them. “Archjusticar! The Archjusticar has returned!”
“I am just here to speak with High Priest Martin… I was appointed Archjusticar to deal with the burning of the churches and now that the situation has been taken care of I am just Two-Twelve.”
High Priest: “But the churches still burn! The fires are indeed not as fierce, but many of churches have faced catastrophic damage.”
“My part in Faron’s church concluded when I brought Martin to you, so I just need to speak to him so I can return home. I have a new baby to take care of after all.”
High Priest: “The blessed child has been born!”
“No! Don’t even start that… Rory might be special to her mother and me, but as far as everyone else is concerned the only thing special about her is that she is a princess of Gowen, and even then she is down on the bottom of that list.”
High Priest: “But Martin said that your child was blessed by Faron himself!”
“Then there seems to be more I need to speak to Martin about, where is he anyway?”
High Priest: “He has grown quite troubled as of late, and has taken to sealing him off in his chambers. The message he sent out to speak with you was the first we had heard from him in days.”
“Well show me to him.”
The priests nod and take me to Martin’s chambers. After a knock on his door there is a panicked “Who is it?!” and after the other priests announce my arrival the door slowly creeps open. Once he sees me Martin quickly drags me into his chambers and shuts the door.
After releasing me he quickly makes his way across the room. The room looks like it has been thoroughly trashed. Martin moves across the room pushing toppled books and parchment scattered on the floor out of his way as he moves up to the far wall and places his arm in a shackle attached to the wall. He then throws the key at my feet.” I’m sorry, but it is a precaution for not only my safety but for yours as well.”
“What exactly is going on…?”
Martin: “I am no longer bound to your dungeon so the great hunter could use me to try to hurt you, so this is for the best.”
“That can’t be all. You look like you haven’t slept in days, and this room… It’s a mess.”
Martin: “It’s Mistress Ceres. She hasn’t spoken to me in weeks and the great hunters attacks are getting more brazen. I fear something terrible has happened to her, and I was sure if anyone knew what happened to her, it would be you.”
“I haven’t seen her in weeks either… In fact I haven’t seen her since Belinda gave birth.”
Martin looks slightly relieved when he hears that, and he says. “Then Mistress Rory has been born?”
“How do you already know her name… ? And what is the deal with you telling the others she has been blessed by Faron?”
Martin: “Ceres told me of course, and we both know that Ceres is the new Faron and she has great plans for your Rory.”
“I don’t care what her plans are for Rory, Ceres isn’t getting her hands on her no matter how nice she has been lately!”
Martin: “If Ceres is truly gone, we may need Rory.”
“Rory is just a baby!”
Martin: “But she has been chosen.”
“I have learned enough about Ceres’s ability to see into the future to know it isn’t infallible.”
Martin: “That’s true, there are events in time that will come regardless of the direction one takes and nothing can change that, but how you get there and what happens leading up to that point shapes what the next said event will entail. Your daughter’s birth was one such event.”
“That can’t be true, because Ceres spoke of a possible future that instead of having a child with Belinda I would have had one with someone else.”
Martin: “That we before your daughter became the next event. Before her conception the event was the conception of a new generation dungeon core. If your decisions caused Belinda and Zoey’s death then this event would have been the birth of the child between you and Roxy. I believe there was even a small chance Belinda could have died yet Zoey survived leaving you to birth a child with the elf Azami.”
“That is impossible.”
Martin: “The chance of you birthing a child with Roxy was actually a far more likely of an event. Belinda and Zoey’s death was almost inevitable, and you and Roxy would have taken comfort in each other over the loss. The opportunity to summon a divine beastkin would have appeared to you and then… well, I am sure you could figure out the rest.”
“None of that even matters, because Belinda, Zoey, and Rory are all safe and sound.”
Martin: “That is exactly right, and now the question is, after Rory’s birth what has become the next event?”
“You said Ceres could only see from one event to the next, yet there have been times she has mentioned things past Rory’s birth.”
Martin: “Anything past the next event is barely better than a guess. Without Ceres though we now have no way to know what the next event is. With Ceres’s sudden disappearance, and the great hunter growing more aggressive by the day. I can’t think it is something good. Ceres put a great deal into that child of yours, so she maybe the answer.”
“She is only a child, and as long as I have a say in the matter, she will grow as any other child until she is old enough to make decision what she wants to do herself.”
Martin: “That is good in theory and all, but you said it. If you have any say in the matter…”
“I came here in hopes to get answers about Ceres, but I am not going to stand here while you keep saying my daughter is some sort of savior or something. If I find anyone from Faron’s church nosing around I will not take it lightly, so stay away from my daughter.” –I then kick the key at my feet under a dresser and leave the room.-
After a few of the high priests start to bother me as I am leaving I then just cast [Gate] then and there heading back home. Belinda is sitting on the couch feeding Rory, and after seeing the look on my face she says. “I assume that means it didn’t go well?”
“They don’t know what happened to Ceres either, butif you see any of Faron’s priests anywhere near Rory I want to know about it!”
Belinda: “What happened…?”
I sit down next to Belinda and rub my hand over Rory’s silky little red hair. I then tell Belinda what I heard at Faron’s Grand Cathedral.
Belinda: “That’s ridiculous, how can they expect anything from an infant!?”
“Your guess is as good as mine, but that is why I said if you see any of Faron’s priests around I want to know about it.”
Belinda: “Ceres seemed just fine when she departed during Rory’s birth… I hope she shows up soon and clears this all up.”
With trying to figure out the portals I have been neglecting my evening trips to Shima, but if someone is going to be coming around bothering Rory we need all the levels we can get. I send a few of the girls messages seeing if they are up for some training and then spend the time until we are set to depart with Belinda and Rory.
When the girls arrive I give Belinda and Rory a kiss before equipping the skymetal gear and head to Shima.