Chapter 158: Finding Another Way

 

Ceres was true to her word, and her first night as a dungeon core was celebrated with a large banquet in which I can’t possibly understand how she put together in such a short time. Not only that but she acquired enough xp that night to build a second, over the top, lavish building the next day throwing another celebration for it.

This continued for a few days, but her pulling, what amounts to the entire Mage’s Guild, to these banquets of hers is really putting a strain on the xp I acquire each day, and not only that but it is causing issues with the mage’s. After their late nights they are struggling in the dungeon the next day, because they are too afraid to tell Ceres no.

I finally make a deal with Ceres that will allow her to collect xp from me and my boss monsters in exchange of letting the Mage’s Guild get back to their normal routine.  I can’t acquire xp from my girls anyway, so it works out in the end.

Belinda and I often don’t get to sleep before midnight anyway, but being out of the house at that time is leading to quite a few very late nights. Our mornings are spent together, relaxing, as a family, so it hasn’t brought any issues up, but I am worried about the strain it is having on the girls.

Ceres’s xp consumption has climbed through the roof, these buildings she is constructing must be taking a massive toll on her, because even without any training at all her first night resulted in her reaching level 2, her second night resulted in level 3, and by her fourth night she already reached level 4, and I am not too sure she isn’t nearing level 5 already.

She doesn’t acquire skills the way the rest of us do, and I was worried that would mean she would fall behind, but instead each time she has gained a level her abilities have increased by 100 points, meaning if this rate continues even without skills she will surpass me by level 20, and if she starts training that won’t take any time at all.

As for the progress in my own dungeon with the portals, I have hit a brick wall, I even happened to catch Akil awake so I asked him what he meant by using [Blink] instead of [Gate], but he shrugs his large lion like shoulders and said it was just a thought.

“I thought you knew what you were doing and that why you suggested it.”

Akil: “I know a great deal, but you are doing something that hasn’t been done before, so there is no knowledge for that you seek, you must pursue it on your own.”

“What about Uthaira? How can I make a portal like that?”

Akil: “That is beyond your current means, but I have to ask is bringing all these dungeon cores together really necessary?”

“I know you would suggest I take a nap instead, but these dungeon cores don’t trust me, and if they don’t trust me, I can’t convince them to help me. The only way I know how to build their trust is a face to face meeting.”

Akil: “There… No mention of bringing these dungeon cores together was mentioned.”

“What do you think a face to face meeting is…?”

Akil: “You have means of seeing great distances without ever leaving the comfort and safety of your own dungeon, wouldn’t it be more prudent to find a means of making that ability work both ways.”

“Is that even possible…?”

Akil: “Is making the portals work the way you wish even possible?”

“At this point, I don’t have anything left to lose, so it is at least worth considering…”

Akil: “Or heed my advice, and if at first you don’t succeed, give it up and take a nap.” –He says with a yawn and then pulls his wings up over his face.-

I return to the dungeon core room while thinking about Akil’s words… Would just being able to see and speak to one another without actually being in each other’s presence really work? It isn’t like I would even know how to go about such a task.

“You know I could really use a way to use [Communication] between multiple cores with screens displaying their image!” –I say out loud, to no one in particular, causing the bunnies currently on duty to look at me funny.-

I have been doing that more and more lately, trying to communicate with Ceres’s sister that controls [Menu], but instead I end up just talking to myself. The bunnies are sure to think I am starting to lose my mind…

In their defense, they may be right, but if I don’t find a way to get all of these dungeon cores on board, so we can put a stop to those who wish to do us harm, then there won’t be any dungeon cores left to defend… We just lost another one yesterday, and it is sad to say, but I was just relieved that it wasn’t another from our group this time.

Well, the problem isn’t going to solve itself, so I put the portal work off to the side for a moment and try to understand the ways the screens work in [Menu]. I start off with the screen I currently have open displaying the living room with Belinda playing with Listel while Rory peacefully sleeps nearby.

I can see anything I want within that room because it is part of my dungeon. I can change the view of the screen to cover the entire room, down to read the fine print on some of the books on the shelf. The “eye” that shows me these things on the screen of course can’t be seen or touched, or it would have been discovered long ago, but if I am going to make any part of Akil’s suggestion work, I am going to have to find a way to replicate this “eye” and [Menu] screens.

We have already determined that [Menu] can be replicated in some fashion, because that is how the Adventurer’s Guild magic works, but with Ceres being an unofficial leader of the Mage’s Guild, then perhaps she is the one that created it.

In either case that leaves me with two options, I can ask Ceres directly, or get in contact with the Mage’s Guild in Calhoun as they are the ones that focus on Adventurer’s Guild related items. It is nearing time for my training in Shima, and once we return I will have to spend the evening in Ceres’s dungeon anyway, so I will speak to her then.

I decide to leave it there for the day and spend a bit more time with Belinda and Rory, before training. My training sessions in Shima have allowed me to finally reach level 40, but with only a few hours each evening while training against the Oni, it is going to be a long time till I gain another.

This time I brought along a few of the unsung heroes of the dungeon, the hardworking dwarven crafters. They have gained enough experience to be able to fight on their own, so I brought them all along, separating them into groups and using myself as the lure to bring the Oni to each particular group.

After training they invite me to join them in their evening of drinking, but they seem to have a bottomless stomach when it comes to alcohol and more than once it has led me into a predicament. Besides I have to go to Ceres’s dungeon, so I decline their invite and return home to collect my girls.

Ceres’s dungeon is starting to look like its own district of some noble section of the capital, with half a dozen overly lavish and decretive buildings made of stone and glass. Adding these buildings with [Menu] would be simple enough with the right amount of xp, but the problem is the humans. Under the guise as the most powerful mage in the Mage’s Guild though, the humans take the additions Ceres has made without question.

She now only has a few gawkers from Tobes that come out to see what changes she has made each day, and those who pass by along the road heading into Tobes. Humans truly are an adaptive bunch…

“So what’s the purpose of the new building today?”

Ceres: “We are going to need plenty of lecture halls.”

“So you are serious about the university then?”

Ceres: “Of course, and if I am going to build it, I am going to make it be the best university there is.”

“Well it can’t be a good university without staff, and you have yet to acquire a single staff member.”

Ceres: “Oh, but that is where you are wrong. I have members from the Mage’s Guilds from all around retiring their positions to be granted the honor of teaching here, and not only mages, but I have a few more surprises in store as well.”

“So far you don’t even have any books in this school of yours, just a bunch of empty buildings, even with teachers you are still short of many items you will need.”

Ceres: “I was hoping I could count on you, I know your dungeon has access to thousands upon thousands of books, I was hoping you would summon some for me with proper compensation of course.”

“I have quite a bit on my plate as it is, and I can’t afford to spend xp like that, but there is something you could help me with and we might be able to talk about some of the cheaper volumes I can produce.”

Ceres: “Marvelous, I would also like to ask your permission to hire those two scholars of yours. I know they are your monsters so I wanted to run it by you, but they would make a great addition to a theology department.”

“If you can make an offer they are willing to accept, then it is their decision, but just remember, as my monsters if I have need of them…”

Ceres: “Yes yes… I get it. What about the favor you wanted to ask me?”

“I had a suggestion that I might be thinking of this portal thing all wrong, instead of bringing the dungeon cores all together, I just need a better means of communication between them all. That means mimicking aspects of [Menu], and we both know that is something the Adventurer’s Guild has already done, but as the head of the Mage’s Guild, I am sure you had something to do with that.”

Ceres: “This isn’t some small favor you are asking… Even if I was still capable, we are talking about manipulating my sister again.”

“I am talking about helping your sister, to get rid of those causing harm to her, and the dungeon cores!”

Ceres: “You should know by now, that if it is something my sister felt necessary, and it was within her power to do so, she would help you.”

“I am not asking to move mountains, I am just asking for an extension on something she has already done in the past. Back when I took part in the selection of the new Elder, she allowed me to use [Communication] to speak with multiple cores at once. From what I can recall it disappeared after Dyson was selected as an Elder, but I am just asking she brings that back along with a way to visually see one another.”

Ceres: “Giving you that temporary ability along with her not taking [Observation] away from you after the Elder selection process, was her way of trying to figure you out. After all you were our creation and not hers.”

“She made me the Archjusticar to protect the integrity of [Menu] but with the tools I have available to me, I am coming up short. If she wants me to help her, she is going to have to up the stakes in this game of hers. I can’t protect her without her at least putting in a bit of effort to protect herself.”

Ceres: “Changing the way [Menu] functions is no easy task even for her. When you throw the ones currently manipulating her on top of it, she may not be able to help even if she wanted too.”

“There has to be something we can do?”

Ceres: “You are a very resourceful individual, and I am sure given enough time you will work something out.”

“That’s the problem. Time is something we are short of…”

Ceres then shows us around the new lecture hall, before visiting with us until midnight, we then return home. I find myself fiddling with [Menu] the next morning while spending time with Belinda and Rory,

Belinda: “If you need to take care of it, go ahead.”

“It’s alright, I am just playing around a bit, besides I am using screens to get another look at my beautiful ladies, so I don’t have to miss a moment of it.”

Belinda looks at me suspiciously, but doesn’t say anything more. After a while I sigh while closing the screen and move over picking up Rory. “What do you say we give your Mama a break today, and I take you to work with me?”

Belinda: “What about feeding her?”

“You just fed her, I am sure you would be fine for a couple of hours, just go do something for yourself, or relax a bit. I will take care of things for a while.”

Belinda: “Are you sure…?”

“Do you not trust her to me…?”

Belinda: “Of course I do! It’s just… Alright I’ll do it.” –She says giving me a kiss.- “But if you need anything just message me.”

“I’ve got it…”

Belinda: “Alright…” –She says then gives me a kiss again before walking out of the room.-

“Alright Rory, let’s see what kind of trouble we can get into.” –I say then transfer to the dungeon core room.-

There isn’t much difference in my work having Rory with me, as I spend most the time just going through [Menu] anyway. I have to get up a few times while rocking Rory, but my screens follow me, so even that isn’t a problem. After a few hours though Rory is starting to get fussy and she has just about sucked all the feeling out of my finger and still isn’t satisfied, so I finally have to give it up and return Rory to Belinda.

Belinda almost seems relieved to get Rory back, but she looks far more rested then she has the last few days. Belinda gives me a deep kiss and whispers that she will thank me later into my ear, before returning to the couch to feed Rory.

I then head back to the dungeon core room to continue but I find myself unconsciously rocking in my chair… I find myself unable to concentrate for the rest of the day even after Lilah teases me by offering to sit in my lap and let me rock her. At least I hope she is just teasing me…I don’t end up getting anything accomplished, but after a few hours of training that evening and a few hours in Ceres’s dungeon I return home and Belinda holds true to that promise.

I wouldn’t go near as far to say I would die without sex, but having gone without since Rory’s birth, its return is most glorious. I would never say it out loud, but I find Belinda’s new, larger breasts quite pleasurable to play with. That is until I choke after accidently getting a mouth full of breastmilk that ruins the experience for me, but Belinda gets a good laugh out of it.

Between Belinda not letting me get to sleep and Rory’s waking me up, I am surprisingly full of energy and ready to go the next morning. I prepare breakfast for everyone and Zoey can’t help but make a comment about the return of Belinda and my romps between the sheets.

After thoroughly using [Clean], and even a bath I don’t possibly even know how Zoey was able to figure it out, but she continues to pester me and ask awkward questions, that is until our royal visitors arrive in the room, and they luckily defuse the conversation.

After breakfast and spending a few more hours with Belinda and Rory I head to the dungeon core room. I then crack my knuckles, stretch and resume working with renewed vigor.

At this point though, I don’t know what avenue to direct my energy towards. With Akil’s suggestion of [Blink] coming up with absolutely nothing, and with Ceres’s certainty about the difficulty of pursuing Akil’s other suggestion, I am not just wondering if the portals aren’t our safest bet, because we know they will work. It is just their cost that is concerning.

Wait… That first experiment I made with [Runic Writing], it was that status stone for the Mage’s Guild, and it had its own screen when you used it. I quickly access my dungeon’s inventory pulling out the stone. After casting [Runic Reading] I look over the runes.

There are a few runes in which I don’t know even with [Runic Reading], but the ones I can read, I know exactly what they do, so I focus on the ones I don’t know. I start off summoning a small rectangular blank slate of stone, using [Runic Writing] I use the runes that I don’t know one by one to see what effect they have.

It isn’t till I add the third rune that any effect at all occurs and that brings up a small screen over the slate tablet displaying its properties. That means either the third rune is responsible for the screen or a combination of it along with one of the others, the third rune will be the one causing the properties to display.

I start over adding the third rune by itself causing a blank screen to display… Alright, now we are getting somewhere. I start playing around a bit with that particular rune in combination of some of the others and come up with some interesting things.

It costs a small amount of magic to use, but I can now make runic magic stones that can display a small screen telling you how much magic has been stored in it, what spell it uses, and how powerful spell is and/or how long it will last.

Adding the runes to magic stones embedded in weapons will have the same function. It will even tell you if the item has taken damage and if it is close to breaking.

No matter what I try though, I have still yet to figure out how to get the screen to display any kind of actual image, so I have the screen part now I just need the “eye”.

Making things with runes is cheap and easy, and communication parchments are easy to come by as well, so I put in the tablet with the blank screen and a communication parchment into [Artificer]. Now the question is, what do I do for the optional slot?

As it stands if it doesn’t fail completely I should end up with nothing more than a screen version of the communication parchment, but I need something that represents the display of an image… I could just put in some xp and hope for the best, but I seriously doubt that will work.

I wish I could use [Menu] options so I could throw in [Observation], but I need to find some physical reference to it. What would be a physical representation of that… I could use a mirror, but that is just a reflection. Maybe a painting, especially a portrait…

I find a cheap portrait to summon from [Menu] and then add it as the third optional item. Between the painting, slate tablet, and the communication parchment I am out maybe 20 xp and a bit of gold, so even if this fails I am not really out anything.

After I hit accept however I don’t receive an item, but instead a message.

[Advanced Communication] option has been added to the [Archjusticar Menu]. [Advanced Communication] allows the Archjusticar to speak with multiple dungeon cores at once, even though visual communication, as long the other willing participants are within their own dungeon. The Archjusticar may use this function with his appointed Justicars regardless of their location.

“That is definitely not what I had in mind, but I will take it, so thank you…” –I say to the screen in front of me.-

I want to see just how well this works before trying to contact everyone, so I open up [Advanced Communication] this type of communication asks for dungeon cores and dungeon cores only so I guess I can’t even use it to talk to my own monsters, but for the moment it is what I need.

For now I add Maeve, Dawn, and Twilight to the list and accept it. Three small blanks screens appear before me and nothing else happens… a few moments pass and then one of the screen opens up to an image of Maeve with a confused look on her face she gets close to the screen and then says. “Papa…?”

“I assume you can see and hear me just fine?”

Maeve: “How are you doing this…?”

“It seems [Menu] has decided it has had enough with the ones attacking us as well.”

Another of the screens then begins to light up and Dawn’s image appears, Maeve then looks to her side and says.” Who are you?!”

Dawn: “Papa! And…Another lady?”

“You can see each other?”

Dawn: “I see a screen with Papa, and a screen with another lady, wait, is this my sister Maeve, she looks like a Maeve!” –She says getting extremely close to the screen pressing her beak against it.-

Maeve: “Your one of the twins… Bright feathers, so you’re Dawn?”

Dawn: “Now Papa just has to introduce me to our new baby sister, and I will have met all our sisters!”

“Where is Twilight, I sent it to her as well.”

Dawn: “She may be busy, she went to the village for a man!~ And she complained about me…”

“Well it only works if you are in your dungeon, so that is why she hasn’t shown up, and what’s this about a man, is he human?”

Maeve: “You meddle in their sex lives as well?!”

Dawn’s feathers get ruffled as she gets embarrassed. “Papa doesn’t meddle, he worries! But I seriously doubt it, and not that Twilight couldn’t stand to lighten up a bit, but she doesn’t like humans…”

“You two are being careful, aren’t you?”

Dawn: “Of course Papa!”

“Alright, now I need to know more about this ability we are talking through, how did it appear to you when I sent it?”

Maeve: “I received a message in [Menu] asking if I was willing to speak with the Archjusticar, and when I accepted you appeared in a screen in front of me then, Dawn showed up shortly after.”

Dawn: “Same here! But when I accepted I received a screen with each of you!”

“I just wanted to check to see how this works, I am going to send a message with the communication parchment and try to get everyone to agree on a time in which we can all speak together.”

Dawn: “It’s been so long since I last saw Papa, and that is it? What about Mama and the baby? How is my baby sister doing?”

“They are doing well…”

Dawn: “When can I see them?”

“Well Belinda is already feeling better after the birth, and Rory has already made a couple trips through the [Gate] portals, so if we can find some time, I am sure we can come visit, or bring you and your sister here.”

Dawn: “I would love to see how Papa’s town has grown since our training! What about big sister Inari, when can we see her again?”

“I don’t know, she has been really busy for a while now, and I don’t know when she will be in touch again.”

Maeve: “How do I close this thing…?”

“Sorry Maeve… I will send the message though the communication parchment and we will talk again soon.”

Dawn: “Ok!~”

I then close the screen and the three screens disappear…This might just work. We are going to have a whole bunch of dungeon cores at the same time though, so we are going to have to find a way to make sure everyone is heard without everyone trying to talk at once.

With the communication parchment we just separated the page and each person only wrote on their own line, but this is going to be much harder to maintain. I send out a message about acquiring an ability to allow us all to speak with one another and spend the rest of the afternoon trying to negotiate a time in which we can get everyone to agree on speaking…

By the sounds of it I maybe have to break it up into about a half dozen smaller groups and handle it that way. That will also help cut down on people trying to speak over one another, but eventually we are going to have to all speak as one…

It also looks like it will be tomorrow before I can even get the first group together, so for the remaining bit of the afternoon I work around with the rune that makes screens and the [Artificer] function. That evening after my trip to Shima for training, I tell Ceres about her sister pulling through for me.

Ceres looks genuinely surprised, but she doesn’t say anything else about it.

“It looks like you didn’t add a new building today.”

Ceres: “Like you said, I will need some staff, so I need to start saving for them as well.”

“You are going to summon some yourself? I have been a bit curious on just what kind of creatures you can summon, but if you are planning to use them as staff they must be some kind of sentient humanoid.”

Ceres: “You will see when that time comes. Until then you can just keep speculating.”

“In any case, just please don’t cause any trouble with the townspeople.”

Not that I have any complaints, but I didn’t get very much sleep the night before, so when midnight hits I am quite tired, so we then quickly return home and retire for the evening.

 

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