A few more weeks have past, and I have been spending my mornings with Belinda and Rory, my afternoons trying to work on the portals, and my evenings in Shima gathering xp with different groups from my dungeon.
Now that Scylla has rejoined my dungeon along with Kline I took them on their first trip to train in Shima and Kline was quickly amazed by the training that is considered normal for the monsters of my dungeon. His level is close to some of the girls, so he doesn’t gain a level, but he is shocked by the amount of xp he is able to gather in a single day, he is almost as shocked as when he first discovered his status screen within [Menu].
I haven’t heard from Faron’s church since my visit, so at least I don’t think they are going to try anything stupid, but I still haven’t heard from Ceres either.
Another dungeon core has perished, but it caused quite an uproar for a few days. Another of our group was targeted, but this time Emery was able to kill his attacker which appeared to be Dungeon Core #160 Beatrice. He wasn’t familiar with Beatrice, but from what he could tell it seemed like her, except her power level far exceeded what she should have been capable of.
That is until he striped her from her equipment and after removing a pair of earrings she changed to Dungeon Core #611 Colette. That means we are no longer looking for just rings, and the death messages can be faked not in just the one doing the killing but the one that died as well.
[Menu] never corrected itself after that, and searching in my [Archjusticar Menu] it now shows Beatrice and Colette as dead. Now we can’t even be sure if Beatrice is still alive, or Draco for that matter.
I seemed to have pulled my two scholars from Merretta at a perfect time, because the reunification of Merretta and Southern Merretta has escalated into an all-out civil war. I know Laura is right in the thick of it alongside her king Aaron, but I am not sure what Lucille’s take on the matter is, or if she is involved at all.
I haven’t spoken to the other Elders, except for when Emery killed Colette, but the conversation never went past that. There are rumors that the Tower of the Gods has started to grow again for the first time in years, and the monsters held within have gotten quite fierce lately as well.
Mar is quite the distance away from Gowen, so I haven’t heard any rumors about it, but I am sure Dyson isn’t just sitting around either. I just wish we could work together again. In trying to unify the dungeons it seems the more powerful ones are trying to distance themselves even further from one another.
I continue my mornings with Belinda and Rory, afternoons working on the portals and dealing with the other dungeon cores, and my evenings training in Shima, until something finally gives. When trying to summon a sword and a magic stone at the same time while focusing on them being a single object it took me several tries until I received a message.
Dungeon Core #212 [Archjusticar —— Gowen] has acquired the skill [Dungeon Artificer].
Dungeon Artificer (Rank 1): This skill grants a dungeon the ability to create new items in [Menu] made either entirely from scratch or by combining other items. This skill allows the Dungeon Core access to the [Artificer] option within [Menu]. This skill does not increase rank by level but by the successful creation of new items.
The sword itself turned out a dud, but maybe this skill will be what I need. It takes me a while of messing around with the [Artificer] screen to figure out how it works. Similarly to [Dungeon Jewelcrafting] I am presented with two options I can use base materials or items in one section while putting different materials or items in the other.
The main difference between [Artificer] and [Dungeon Jewlcrafting] is that the items are not restricted to only jewelry, and I can also forgo adding material in one section, by using xp instead. I can’t however do anything unless both sections contain either items or xp.
I end up with quite a few failed attempts as I am having trouble trying to figure out just how this [Menu] is supposed to work. The few successes I have had are putting a standard steel sword and then throwing so xp at it, but the results are different each time.
Sometimes it will raise the quality of the sword, others it will give it a small enchantment, but it so far has been nothing I couldn’t do before by just summoning it that way and summoning it would actually be cheaper.
Combining two magic stones just increases the size of it, but again it is cheaper to summon the higher rank magic stone, then it is to combine two of the smaller ones. Now if I need a magic stone larger than the one I acquired from Dyson then I might get the ability to unlock an even higher tier magic stone, but at this point I don’t see the need to spend that kind of xp on it.
Even combining the magic stones with a weapon results in the same as my [Enchanter] skill I still can’t have runes on the sword while activating it with the magic stone. As it stands it doesn’t seem this new skill is going to do anything more then what I could already do with the collection of my other skills. That is at least until I can figure out how it works better.
The excitement of the new skill already made me late for my trip to Shima this evening, so I quickly wrap things up and go join the group that was set to train with me this evening… Unfortunately this trip seems to consist of Moss, but he has become more manageable alongside of Azami.
With Azami, Moss, Lala, Lele, Katie, and myself we head to Shima for some evening training, but not before Azami complains about my tardiness, and when complaints are directed at me it is something Moss really gets behind so he joins in.
Katie: “Master is very busy… We are lucky he is even taking time out of his busy schedule to allow us to get some training in.”
“It’s alright Katie, I told you all to be ready at that time, and I myself was not, so it is fair of them to complain about it. I acquired a new skill today for the creation of new items, and I got wrapped up in trying to figure out how to get it to work.”
Azami: “You already have quite a few means of creating items, especially with your unique dungeon. Is this means that much different.”
“That seems to be the problem. So far everything I have done I could accomplish with one of my other skills or just [Menu] alone. For a dungeon core that isn’t me, it might be a useful skill but so far I can’t find a way to make it work the way I want.”
Katie: “Well these training sessions are helping me a great deal, but I am still leagues behind you and Azami, so I don’t know if I could be any help, but you just let me know if I can.”
Azami: “You have already gained [Elven Crafting] skill from me and taught it to all of your boss monsters, so there is little I can do unless you have need of something from mythril. I am at least for now, the only one of your monsters that can make it.”
Lala and Lele: “We can help too!~”
“I appreciate it, but I think this is just something I am going to have to figure out on my own, but thinking of the way [Elven Crafting] works gives me an idea…”
The twins both gain a level that evening, but it is strange to think these young girls are at least as strong as the adventurers entering my dungeon. Moss isn’t far behind them and he should gain a level during his next training session. Azami is quite a bit behind me, but she had 30 levels prior to her level resetting so she is almost 20 levels or so ahead of me still. She still has a while before she gains another level at this amount of xp, but another few days of training like this and I might be able to finally reach level 40.
When we return home I am eager to try the idea I had for the [Artificer] skill, but it can wait till tomorrow afternoon. With Rory waking up several times during the night we have been going to bed a bit early just to make up the sleep we lose when we have to take care of her during the night.
There isn’t anything I can do about feeding her, so I am on diaper duty. Unlike Denova bragging on using the [Clean] magic stones to clean her inn and brothel, Belinda seems to be on the opposite side of the spectrum where she would rather physically change Rory rather than just using magic. I don’t see the difference except doing it by hand is more work, so when I have to wake up in the middle of the night, I cast [Clean] on Rory before going right back to sleep.
Spending my mornings with Belinda and Rory means we have been having breakfasts again pretty regularly. We don’t always invite everyone, but this morning was one such morning so we have a house full.
Tanya and Xavier have seemed to quickly adjust to the household, but I still try to keep the girls in check and don’t let them go too far in their conversations.
Doug: “How are you enjoying Sofia’s training course? Aria and I enjoyed it a great deal.”
Tanya: “It is positively horrid! My mind and body have never been so tired in my entire life! When it was just learning about the dungeons and being an adventurer it wasn’t that bad, but now that we have started the actual physical combat training on top of it, I don’t even know if I am coming or going half of the time.”
Sofia: “You have performed very well in the academic part of the lessons, but you have a lot to learn in regards to weapons and armor. You still have yet to pick a preferred weapon and armor of choice.”
Tanya: There is so much to consider, and some are better at some things while others are better at others. How can you positively pick a single one when that will give you a huge weakness during certain situations?”
Sofia: “That is where your group comes in to cover your weaknesses. Take Exavier for example, his chosen method is a bow or a pike, with his size it is good to keep his enemies at a distance, and he wears medium armor just in case something gets in range to hit him, but it’s still light enough for him to retreat to gain distance of them again. In a group setting he will maintain his distance from the enemies while his teammates make sure nothing gets in his face.”
Tanya: “That only leaves some kind of mage for the back of the group along with Exavier where it is safe, and I already failed the magic aptitude test…”
Sofia: “There is no “safe” place in combat, but even among those in the front lines there are those that try to avoid taking damage. Bell’s martial artist class, or Aria’s dancer class are both good examples of that.”
Tanya: “Those are both specialized classes though.”
Sofia: “If you want my opinion I think if you can get over your fear of being hit, I think a controlling role like that of your sister would be a good fit for you.”
Tanya: “But she just uses a spear as well.”
Sofia: “She uses a halberd, unlike Exavier where he uses his pike to keep enemies at a distance. Belinda uses her Halberd to control the entire combat area. She hooks, pulls, slashes, and jabs her enemies, and all the while she wears heavy armor, so she doesn’t have to worry while keeping the enemy within her area of influence.”
Tanya: “What about Two-Twelve? What role does he fit into?”
Sofia: “Two-Twelve is…Special. He is a front line mage using a sword and his magic he can fill a defensive role using his magic for evasion, he can use that same magic to fill an offensive role, or even a healing role. His style is unique, cultivated from his numerous abilities he has gained by his dungeon conquests.”
Exavier: “He is the only man my mother has feared to face in combat since my father.”
“I am not really that special… There are plenty of others out there that are far stronger than I am.”
Exavier: “I find that hard to believe, after all, I thought my mother was the strongest person alive, until she was beaten by you…”
“She won that fight.”
Exavier: “That is not the way she tells it…”
Belinda: “Tanya, if you decide in a role that uses heavy armor, I am more than happy to give you the armor that Father gave me when I become an adventurer. That is if you don’t mind the Gowen crest across the chest.”
Tanya: “I still don’t know yet…”
Sofia: “You better make up your mind quickly, it’s only a few short weeks before we enter the dungeon for the first time, and you need to have plenty of practice in before that time.”
Breakfast finishes and Sofia, Exavier, and Tanya depart discussing types of combat classes. Scylla and Kline both give Listel a hug and leave her with Belinda while they depart for City Hall. Doug tries to beg Lylah to tell him the gnome mask count today, but unlike the twins she won’t tell him, and Doug and Aria end up being late, so they leave in a hurry.
Katie didn’t join us this morning and neither did Azami and Moss, but Bell sticks around long enough to help me clean up before joining Scylla and Kline at City Hall. Zoey seems in no rush to leave after breakfast lounging around like an old man while Roxy fills her ear with the things they need to get done that day.
Listel is just starting to get around well on her own two feet, and is babbling in semi-coherent words, as she runs around the room until she sets her sights on Zoey’s tail that is wagging quite rhythmically to Roxy’s nagging.
Zoey teases Listel for a while with her tail before Roxy finally manages to drag her out of the house, but that doesn’t seem to faze Listel any as she has found a new target of interest and that is the ears of the bunny girl that has the day off.
Lila and Belinda play with Listel while I relax a bit with Rory until Lila finally decides she is going to go shopping leaving Belinda and I alone with Listel and Rory.
Belinda: “I can tell you have been dying to get back to work since you woke up this morning, why don’t you go ahead, and I will take care of the girls.”
“This is our time.”
Belinda: “I know, but I am watching Listel this morning that way Scylla will watch Rory this evening, I want to go with you to Shima this evening, and afterwards we can have a nice dinner just the two of us to make up for it.”
“Are you sure it’s not too soon?”
Belinda: “You didn’t have any problems with Scylla taking over as mayor this soon after giving birth, but yes I think I am ready to take my place back at your side.”
“What if Rory gets hungry while we are gone?”
Belinda: “I got it taken care of, I promise!” –She says giving me a kiss.- “Now I love you, but get to work and I will see you this evening!~”
“Well, if you are sure…”
Belinda: “I am, now go.” –She says with a smile that makes leaving the furthest thing on my mind.-
I give Belinda another kiss and kiss Rory’s forehead before transferring to the dungeon core room. I open a screen showing the living room, so I can watch them while I work. I then crack my knuckles and get to work.
[Elven Crafting] the art of making items with nothing other the pure magic energy. It works by you picturing a complete image in your mind, and while focusing your magic you slowly make that item take shape.
Now of course that sounds simple enough, but the art is in doing it well. If you make a mistake or can’t get a clear enough picture in your mind the results can be disastrous. Even with me changing the items in my dungeon as I summon them in a similar fashion it was nothing compared to [Elven Crafting].
And that I believe was where my mistake lies with [Artificer] I tried it like I do with everything else in [Menu] but maybe instead, I should treat it like [Elven Crafting]. Another mistake is the finished product I was trying to make a sword with a magic stone in it so of course it just combined the sword with the magic stone, but instead I need to focus on a completed product.
If I want the magic stone embedded on the sword to use the runes on the blade of the sword I need to focus on creating the item with the runes already on it with a clear function in mind. After casting [Runic Reading] and [Runic Writing] I then get to work.
After a few failed attempts I finally get the runes just right and as the weapon is created I receive a message.
New Enchantment Available
[Fire-breathing] Item cost x1.5 or 2500xp whichever is less (500xp minimum)
Fire-breathing sword: A standard steel sword that has the ability to shoot flames from the blade equal to the [Flame] spell with a spell power of 20, by focusing the wielders magic into the magic stone in the blades hilt.
Creation of your first unique item with [Dungeon Artificer] has increased its rank to rank 2.
The sword is nothing more than a parlor trick at spell power 20, that is equal to most level 1 mages, but it wasn’t intended to be more as it was just proof of concept for something much greater. I decide to check to see what the ranking up of the [Dungeon Artificer] skill consists of, and by the looks of it rank 2 of the skill allows me to add a third optional ingredient when I create something with [Artificer].
There are a few more things I need to figure out with the skill, so I start to run a few more tests. I spend the next few hours running a few tests. None of the results are great, but they are what I had intended, so I believe I have figured out how this skill works now.
The only problem is now that I have a grasp of the skill I don’t know if it is going to actually help me with the portals or not. I might be able to set something up like they have in Uthaira, but that would require me to have every destination in mind at the same time during the portal’s creation.
Even that would still only be good for the return trip I would still have to put a regular portal to the location of the meeting in of the dungeons. I think I am starting to see why the dungeon cores have never gathered together before…
While I continue to try to work things out, and before I realize it I receive a message from Belinda asking me if we are going to train this evening. I was about to send her a message back saying “Of course” until I realized the reason she is asking is because it already is that time…I let out a deep sigh and put everything away before returning to the house.
Belinda: “That look tells me, it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to.”
“Well it did, it just doesn’t help the way I was hoping it would. Who is going with us this evening?”
Belinda: “It’s going to be Bell, Sofia, Lilah, Lylah, you and me, and they are all waiting in the other room for us.”
I nod, we then go to join the girls, and then we make our way to Shima. Belinda is a little rusty, but it isn’t long until she gets back into the swing of things, and todays training goes verily well. Belinda looks worn out afterwards but it doesn’t stop her from dragging me out to dinner afterwards.
Our “date night” goes alright, but not matter how much she assures me Rory is alright, she never quits fidgeting and worrying about it herself until we end up heading back early to pick up Rory from Scylla.
I would like to say the next day lead to another revelation, but unfortunately another full week passes without making any progress on the portals. That doesn’t mean I haven’t made progress with [Artificer], but it isn’t really anything that will help with the portals.
Luckily in that time no more dungeon cores have perished, so I decide if this line of thinking isn’t working, then maybe I should start from scratch and think of another way to bring us all together.
Between what I have learned from my [Gate] spell and with [Runic Reading] and [Runic Writing] I am pretty sure I could replicate Madam Erin’s portals, but that still cost about the same amount of xp to summon a tome to teach the [Runic Activation] spell to all the dungeon cores, and it is bundled with the other two spells as well, so I am not sure it is a good idea to give all those dungeon cores access to those spells.
With no other plans I notice Akil appears to be awake, so decide to go have a word with him. Transferring down to the depths of my dungeon I find him stretched out along the snipers perch. I haven’t seen him move from that spot since he has arrived.
Surely he has had to get up and move around some, he has eaten a bit, but not enough that I would think it would take to sustain his large body. I greet him when I arrive and he sleepily opens one of his eyes to look at me.
Akil: “Stumped are you?”
“How do you know?” –I ask, and then he starts to answer but I cut him off by say.- “I know, at your age knowledge just seeps into your bones, but I have heard you say that plenty of times now, and it still isn’t a good answer…”
Akil: “It’s the truth.”
“Are you getting plenty of exercise? You also still don’t seem to be eating enough.”
Akil: “When you get to be my age, too much exercise is just as bad as not getting any at all, so why go through all that trouble when you can just sleep instead?”
“I just don’t want you to get sick… You said you knew I was stumped, but with all that knowledge that has seeped into your bones, do you have any advice for me?”
Akil: “Give it up, and take a nap.”
Akil: “If the teleportation spell you are currently trying to use is not working the way you want, try to use your other one.”
“I don’t have another one… Wait, [Blink]? I guess it is considered a teleportation spell but it is only for a very short distance and within a line of sight.”
Akil: “Well that is enough questions for today… I am quite tired you see…” –He says while bringing his wings up over his head.-
“But wait… How do I use [Blink] to help me?” –I say but receive no reply, and soon I can hear a soft snore from Akil. I then sigh and return to the dungeon core room.-
After returning to the dungeon core room I decide to look at the description of the [Blink] spell.
Blink (Shadow) (50mp): A limited teleportation spell that allows the caster to move instantaneously from one point to another. The target location in which the caster wishes to teleport to must be within view.
I read it over, then again, and then 2 or 3 more times, but I still don’t see how that is going to help. It is a much cheaper spell then [Gate] so I guess it won’t hurt to experiment with a bit. After a short bit of time I have a magic stone capable of letting you use [Blink] like every other of the runic magic stones I have made.
I start to study the runes that are carved in the magic stone when I receive a panicked message from Belinda telling me to return home quick. Quickly dropping the stone I transfer back to the house.
There are small pillars of smoke coming from charred spots on the floor leading to the living room, so I quickly rush in. Belinda is standing across the room cradling Rory with a worried look on her face. The couch in front of her is smoking quite badly, so I round the couch.
On the couch there is a young pink haired woman with damaged clothing and pools of golden liquid on her body dripping off causing scorch marks were it lands, and causing smoke to rise.
“Ceres!” –I quickly say moving closer quickly trying to cast a healing spell.-
No matter what healing spell I cast it doesn’t seem to have any affect, and Ceres doesn’t seem conscious and her breathing is strained and rough.
“Ceres, you got to wake up and tell me what to do.” –I say while placing my hand on her cheek, but a quick burning sensation causes me to pull back.-
A small drop of the gold liquid is on my hand causing it to burn like fire, I quickly try to cast a healing spell but it doesn’t have any effect with the liquid still on my hand. I try casting [Clean] but that doesn’t help at either, I then try to wipe it off causing it to smear and the pain to spread.
I eventually manage to get it off and cast a healing spell on my hand, but even with the burn removed I can still feel pain… I turn my attention back to Ceres. “You have to help us, I don’t know what to do…”
“Don’t be sorry! Just tell us what we can do!”
Ceres: “It’s… to late…” –She says while wincing in what appears to be incredible amount of pain.-
“It can’t be, there has to be something we can do!”
Ceres: “I’m not… Like you… Wounds don’t heal… Easily…” –She says just before coughing, causing some of the gold liquid to spatter my shirt quickly burning right through it.-
I don’t know what to do…I quickly turn to Belinda and she looks scared and worried as she cups her hand over Rory’s eyes. I can’t use magic to heal Ceres, and I can’t even touch her. She said she wasn’t like me and her wounds wouldn’t heal… I then get a stupid idea…