By the time I wake up the sun is well into the sky, but Belinda is lying on my chest with such a smile on her face that I don’t want to wake her. I do however cast [Clean] to get rid of the pool of drool, but I don’t hear Rory making any noise so I decide to stay in bed a while longer while looking through the massive amount of screens that appeared to me the evening before when I arrived.
The screen showing the battle results weighs heavy on me with the loss of all six of the fox beastkin that Inari summoned me. The xp I acquired is close to 4 million, but only a quarter of that is what I actually the amount I acquired, the other three quarters is from the bonuses.
With the amount of levels I gained I was hoping the amount we brought in would be at least that amount before the bonuses, but I guess with Inari or at least one of her monsters there at all times, during this trip I should consider myself lucky I was able to bring anything back at all.
Next is the list of skills that became available, and although it is one of the smallest of the lists among all of the screens, it has some promising skills. Unfortunately not a single one of them are the level 50 special skills. I guess those ones can’t be learned the easy way even for my unique dungeon.
It also seems [Menu] was pleased with what I have done, because I received 5 justicar points for assisting in the destruction of the corrupt dungeon core, 5 justicar points for saving an entire race of monsters, 1 point for using my special skill the first time, another for using it 5 times, and one more for using it 25 times, for a total of 13 additional justicar points.
That should leave me at 19 points, but instead I only have 16. I know I didn’t use any, but it said they are shared with my justicars, so Ceres must have used 3 points, I will have to make sure she used them for a good cause later. I would hate to have to already take the justicar status away from her, but if she wasted my justicar points I won’t have much of a choice, because I can’t afford to lose them for no reason.
The list of new items available is a bit larger than the list for skills, but the skills were at least useful, but the new items I acquired….Not so much. The list of new monsters on the other hand… The list is massive. I was worried that being a corrupt dungeon I wouldn’t be able to summon the ones that I didn’t use my skill to take control of, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.
The only monsters I don’t see on the list are the monstrosities, but even if they were, I don’t think I would ever feel comfortable using those things… I did receive quite a few more monsters that can be summoned as sentient, and some of them might even fit in as part of the demi-human village one day.
Speaking of which I am afraid I need to start checking on how everything has gone in my absence, so I am going to have to wake Belinda. I try to gently wake her with a kiss but that only causes her to snuggle up to me even tighter.
“Come on Belinda, it’s time to get out of bed.”
She then giggles while wrapping her arms and legs both tightly around me. “No! It’s been months since we were last together, and you have a lot to make up for!~”
“All at once?! We wouldn’t leave bed for a week!”
Belinda’s body shutters and after lightly biting my ear she whispers. “Sounds good to me.~”
“As fun as that sounds, what about Rory? It looks to at least be noon already. I am surprised she isn’t already crying because she is hungry.”
Belinda: “We have started to give her soft foods, so Vetala has been taking care of breakfast, so maybe not a week, but we still have at least a couple of hours.”
I honestly don’t even know why I am fighting it at this point. I have been gone for months, and even another week wouldn’t make much of a difference, so what is a few more hours… Needless to say we don’t leave bed for quite a while longer.
When we do finally make it downstairs it is already well into the afternoon. I head into the living room with the intention of giving Rory a hug and then heading to see the bunnies, but after arriving I get sidetracked by her pleading eyes as the holds her arms out to me calling. “Dadadada.”
These women of mine know exactly how to get me to do what they want… After being delayed a few hours by Belinda and then another hour by Rory I finally arrive at the dungeon core room.
Lilah: “Master is finally home, but now Master is too busy to come visit Lilah…”
“It was already practically morning when we went to bed, so I got a late start…”
Lylah: “She is only joking, we saw you playing with Rory in the living room, and we are happy that watching the dungeon for you allows you to spend time with Rory.”
Lila: “Belinda has seen to it that we are getting plenty of days off in your absence, but due to last night’s celebration we decided to double up today, that way no one became too fatigued.”
“Well good, how has the dungeon itself been doing the last few months?”
Lylah: “We didn’t change anything while you were away, we wanted to save it because we knew you had plans on what you wanted to do next, so we only used the bare minimum leaving us with close to 9 million xp, on top of what you brought back.”
“Well sounds like I got a lot of work to do, so I better get to it.”
13 million xp is a massive amount, but I know if I am not careful I will spend it all before realizing it, so I decide to start off with giving the girls and myself all the new skills available to us. The xp cost to give them to all of us is quite staggering for the bonuses it grants us, but once they begin to rank up it will be more then worth it.
Now to start working on the dungeon itself, I made sub-level 10 already, but wasn’t able to really put any decent monsters in it so I add more monsters to that floor before working on the next one.
Sub-level 11 is separated into four parts. Two of which lead down long winding hallways without any forks in the path, but they are long enough that it will still take a great deal of time to traverse them. I even make them 25 feet wide just to make sure any kind of monster I want to put down the hallways will fit.
Unlike the labyrinth floors, I now have the hang of making portals within the dungeon, I add only one large unattached room off to the side and fill it with portals so monsters can fill the corridors.
With that I can summon any kind of monster I want and put it anywhere on the floor. With the portals being only one way, that means I don’t have to worry about adventurers ever stopping the monsters from being able to spawn while they use the portals to reach different locations around the floor, even if someday that floor requires rifts.
Other than the winding hallways the third path is an area full of 50 foot by 50 foot rooms, with a maze of doors leading around the area. With all the rooms being identical it would be easy to lose track of where you are at. These rooms however are each their own room, because the sheer cost of making portals to each one would be quite staggering.
The fourth and final section leads to another set of boss like rooms that I fill with elemental monsters. Each boss like monster holds an orb like in the elemental wings, but these five orbs are not the only items required to open the path forward. Down the other three paths there are pieces to join the orbs together, so not only are the orbs required, but the connecting pieces as well.
Once all of it is joined together it opens a door leading to my crystal. There is quite a bit more I want to do, but between adding skills to everyone, adding monsters to this floor, and sub-level 10, I have already used up more xp then I wanted to.
My next addition is a little less conventional, as I add another set of stairs going down, but it is not behind the locked door, instead it is just tucked away in a corner. The crystal is not beyond it so I am able to seal the area off so no one can enter the stairwell. With these stairs I stretch them to their limit, and after that I just add another set of stairs going down even further.
I continue adding more stairs until my dungeon reaches sub-level 22, but then my xp gets low enough that I decide to hold off for now. There are no rooms for the floor beyond sub-level 11, so even if adventurers somehow did make it into the stairwell, they are not going to find anything if they go down them.
Once I start building my xp back up, and I continue down at least 2 more floors I can then start building rooms or hallways in the direction of Tobes. That will let me connect my secondary dungeon to my primary one within the next few weeks or at least within the next few months, depending on how much xp I put aside for it each day.
Now that I have all these new monsters that I can add to the elemental wings, I want to work on them as well, so I am not sure how much xp I want to put aside for each project. I could probably push the xp I have left and connect the dungeons now, but I need to keep enough xp on hand in case of an emergency, so leave it like it is.
Now, for the next item on the long list of things I need to do. Ceres took part in the dinner we had last night, but I told her to hold off on conversations of our group of dungeon cores until today, so I could spend last night with my family. That means I should probably go have that conversation now, as well as checking out this university of hers.
I thank the bunnies for their continuous hard work, and then transfer back to the house. It has been a few months since I last seen Tobes, so I decide to walk through town instead of just transferring to the edge of it.
The growth of Tobes has been quite rapid since I first formed my dungeon, but even though there is some construction going on in town, it appears the growth has begun to slow, or at least that is what I thought until I pass the soldier’s garrison.
Ceres’s university has grown in leaps and bounds in the last few months, but it is still all along one side of the road. The other side however has also been cleared of many trees, and they look to be in the process of clearing many more.
Not only is the area being cleared, but a few buildings and businesses have already begun to pop up across from the university. A few of them possess a familiar theme to them and even without stepping through the doors I know they must be businesses that belong to Denova.
It looks like I am also going to have to spend some xp into expanding my secondary dungeon, which is unless Ceres has already expanded her own dungeon across the road to cover the new additions. As for the university itself, it has come a long way since I left.
There were quite a few of the lavish buildings before, but there are now at least 20 of these exquisite stone and glass buildings taking up a great deal of what used to just be part of the forest. Almost all of them are bustling with activity as well, with young and old people alike entering and exiting the buildings.
I make my way for the first building that Ceres made. The administration building is the liveliest building of them all with a constant flow of people, and I don’t have the first clue as to where to look for Ceres in all this mess, but it turns out I don’t have to try to find her because she quickly finds me instead.
Ceres: “You sure like to make a lady wait. I was expecting you hours ago!”
“Sorry about that, there was a lot to deal with after my return.”
Ceres: “I would imagine, now…” –She says while looking around.- “Why don’t we go somewhere a bit quieter so I can catch you up?”
I nod and expect to follow her, but instead she grabs ahold of my arm and transfers us. After the brief pull on the back of my chest we arrive in a large room no less lavish then the rest of the buildings, except there are no glass windows.
It could just be an interior room, but instead I get the feeling that we are below ground. That can’t be possible though, because many of the buildings she built are several stories tall, so if she went up with her dungeon she couldn’t go down as well.
This room isn’t completely free of people either, as there are several men and women sitting in different chairs and couches around the room, some of which seem to be studying while others just appear to be reading.
After we each take a seat on large fluffy couches positioned across from one another, one of the young women sets down her book and quickly approaches us.
Woman: “Can I get anything for you?”
Ceres looks to me but after I shake my head she tells the woman we are fine, and the woman then returns to her chair picking her book back up.
Ceres: “So what do you think of my little dungeon so far?”
“It is a lot livelier then when I left that is for sure… Are you sure we are good to talk here?” –I say motioning to the others in the room.-
Ceres: “Perfectly fine, they are all mine.”
“Yours? You can summon humans?”
Ceres: “That comes as a surprise to you? I made you, so humans are easy in comparison.”
“That was before you were a dungeon core though, and here I thought you lost most of your power when I made you one.”
Ceres: “There are a lot of things I can’t do anymore, but there are some things like summoning humans that has become far easier now that I am a dungeon core. I am really starting to rethink just how strong my sister that controls [Menu] really is, to give so much power to so many dungeon cores. She just might be the strongest of us all.”
“Even more reason for us to be cautious of those trying to manipulate her, so speaking of which, how has our group managed in my absence?”
Ceres: “We have lost three more members, two have been killed and one has just quit on us, but I managed to recruit five new ones, so we are still in better shape than we were.”
“How did you manage to recruit more members? I noticed you have used some of the justicar points, so you didn’t use them to recruit the new members did you?”
Ceres: “I only used a justicar point on one of the new members, but it wasn’t to recruit her, but to reward her for bringing in two of the other new recruits. The other points that I spent were to assist some of our members that needed help, only one of the points I spent seemed to be for naught, because the member I gave it to was one that died shortly afterwards.”
“I brought quite a few points back with me, but after what you used that has taken us back to 16 points. I would like to get ahold of at least 20 as a safety net that way we can either bind a crystal or two, or even make another dungeon core if we really need to.”
Ceres: “My situation was quite unique, so I don’t know why you would need to make another dungeon core in a hurry, but because what happened with me I can’t really argue the point, so I will at least talk to you about it before using any more points.”
“You said we lost 3, who were they?”
Ceres: “Hecate said she fulfilled her deal with you, so it is no surprise that she was the one that quit. She still plans to pursue the ones that were behind Maric’s death, so we won’t at least have to see her as an enemy, but she just isn’t much of a team player. The dungeon cores that died were #63 and #270.”
“It hurts to lose any of them, especially Hecate, but I guess we should just be glad that we didn’t lose Emery or Ithros.”
Ceres: “One of them I recruited was dungeon core #790 Bella, she was the one that I gave the justicar point too, and I believe between her and the two she brought with her, they more than makes up for Hecate’s loss.”
“I worked with Bella during the elder selection, but there is still much from that time I can’t remember. Being chosen for the elder selection alone should speak volumes about her strength, but that also means she was close to one of the old elders as well.”
Ceres: “She was very partial to Faron, but between going after the ones that killed him, and what I did in regards to keeping his churches alive, she decided to join us. I can’t say I have been able to do much for the churches since I became a dungeon core, but there are still things I want to accomplish with them, so I don’t plan on abandoning them either.”
“Well having strong dungeon cores on our side is a double edged sword. They can help us a great deal, but they could also do even more damage to us if they wanted, so I am going to hold judgement on how I feel about that for now.”
Ceres: “Speaking of that, dungeon core # 101 Iakovos has been showing interest in our group as well, but he quite close to Dyson, and doesn’t do anything for free, so I haven’t reached back out to him yet, because I wanted to know how you felt about him first.”
“If we could get Dyson on board I would accept Iakovos without a second thought, because Dyson could keep him in check, but with Iakovos’s mercenary-like nature, he seems like the kind that could easily be swayed by the traitors as well.”
Ceres: “I don’t know about joining us, but I have spotted Dyson and Madam Erin sneaking around a couple of times around both of our dungeons while you were gone. They were using rings that you made them to appear like normal villagers, and even when I spoke to them they tried to hide their identities, so I can’t be for certain what they wanted.”
“How could you be sure it was them?”
Ceres: “I may just be a dungeon core now, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a few tricks up my sleeves. I was going to call them out on it, but they didn’t seem to be causing any harm, and appeared to be just curious so I let them be.”
“Belinda did say they were trying to find out what happened to me, so I guess they were bound to get curious after not being able to reach me for that long, I might send them a message later and let them know I have returned, just to make sure they don’t do anything else.”
Ceres: “What about Inari? Will she join us now that she has returned home?”
“Well I told you last night about running into Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi, but what I didn’t tell you, was that Tsukuyomi admitted to being the one responsible for making the corrupt dungeons. He also asked Inari into getting rid of them, so I am sure she will help us when she can, but with three of the old gods now pulling her strings, she is going to have her hands full.”
Ceres: “My siblings in Shima keep to themselves, and other then knowing that Inari had returned due to the gifts she granted your daughter, I wasn’t even aware that Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi had returned, but from what I do know about them it doesn’t seem that surprising. I will say between Inari and Amaterasu, your daughter should be in good hands. Tsukuyomi isn’t necessarily a bad guy, but it seems Amaterasu spends most of her time cleaning up his messes.”
“Well for not being a bad guy his “mess” has nearly cost the lives of every human in Shima.”
Ceres: “It has always been that way for those two, and that is probably why the humans worship them as the gods of the sun and moon, because they are constantly trailing one another with Tsukuyomi making a mess of things, and Amaterasu following behind and cleaning it up in an endless cycle. When Amaterasu cleans up after Tsukuyomi however she does so properly, so if they have tasked that to your daughter as the one to clean up Tsukuyomi’s mess then I am sure Amaterasu will see to it that your daughter has the ability to do it well.”
“I hope you are right. What about my other daughters? Have they behaved themselves in my absence?”
Ceres: “Their helping of one another has been a major contributing factor on the success of the group as a whole. Some of the closer dungeon cores have started to follow in their example and have similar exchanges with one another to boost their own xp acquisition.”
“I guess I was worried about nothing, I was afraid they would start butting heads.”
Ceres: “On the contrary, they seem to be living it up, and they have even started holding friendly competitions between each other just to pass the time.”
“That’s good, what about your dungeon? Have you kept it to the university, or have you begun to spread it across the road into that new section of Tobes that has begun to take root?”
Ceres: “Belinda helped me with acquiring ownership of the small piece of land on this side of the road from the edge of your dungeon all the way to the edge of the forest, so I will have room to grow if I decide to do so, so I thought it was only fair to leave the other side of the road to you, so not to block you off here in the forest.”
“Small piece of land…? I could fit every floor of my dungeon including Tobes on the area from here to the edge of the forest and still not make a dent in it. Even with Belinda’s help, how could you afford that much property?”
Ceres: “Well it is pretty much useless forest right now, and the Mage’s Guild has deep pockets. I also saved quite a bit of gold by offering to educate the royal family, other high ranking officials, and their families.”
“I don’t know, that just seems a bit excessive to me.”
Ceres: “for someone building their dungeon underground, then maybe, but I don’t plan on building any large tower, so my dungeon is going to have to spread far and wide.”
“That doesn’t offer you much protection.”
Ceres: “We shall see.”
Ceres and I then continue to talk for a while and she catches me up on the things before switching over to inform our group of dungeon cores that I have returned. The reactions from them are rather mixed, it seems some have preferred the way things have gone in my absence.
It’s only after Ceres assures them that she is going to continue to work alongside me in the future that some of them seem to accept my return. I guess I can’t really blame them. I did disappear for several months without any warning at all.
After I am done with the group of dungeon cores, I talk with Ceres for a bit longer before I return home. The next day I expand my secondary dungeon to cover the new areas across the road from Ceres, but spend the rest of the day with Belinda and Rory.
I then spend the next few days playing catch up from what I have missed out on the last few months. Once things finally begin settling down I invite Inari to the house to meet Rory.