(Just a little warning my proof reader told me to put a Guro warning for this chapter, I honestly didn’t realize it was that bad, but I trust his opinion, so here is the warning. If you are squeamish you might skip the first section of this chapter until it switches back to Two-Twelve’s PoV. Thank you for reading.)
After setting up my girls with gear we arrive at the base of one of the mountains along the Adra mountain range. There are plenty of dungeons up in the mountain range, but that is not our destination this time.
I can’t risk accidently leading my non-replaceable entourage into one of the traitorous dungeon core’s dungeons so I decide to stick to a dungeon that I already have an agreement with. Stretched out before us is a grand estate, it has tall thick rampart like walls surrounding the property, but that doesn’t matter because we appeared on the inside of them
Our arrival hasn’t gone unnoticed however, because we have already seemed to cause quite a stir. Horns bellow as armored guards quickly begin approaching us from all directions. Angela looks quite frightened, but Desiree places her hands on the hilts of her swords as she says. “Master, are these our enemies?”
“No, but if you desire their deaths, I am not one to stand in your way.”
Desiree starts to draw her blades as the guards approach but a large feral lion beastkin man wearing an elaborate set of heavy armor runs up while calling out. “Wait! Wait! Everyone, stand down!” The horns then stop and the guards stare at the beastkin while sheathing their weapons.
The beastkin man approaches and says. “Forgive me Master Dyson, we were not expecting a visit! Not that you need to explain yourself to us, but please forgive my men. The civil war in Merretta has put everyone on high alert. There have already been quite a few powerful people in Merretta that have jumped ship and have tried to establish a powerbase in Adra even if that means taking out one of the dukes in the process.”
“Well Desiree, what is it you want to do?”
Desiree: “I guess we can let them live, for now at least.” –She says while taking her hands of the hilts of her blades, which causes the lion beastkin to breath a deep sigh of relief.-
Beastkin: “I thank you for your mercy, but I must apologize again, as my Master is not in at the moment. Because of the attacks I already mentioned, the Dukes have been called to the capital to discuss a plan of action.”
“His presence isn’t required, only his dungeon.”
The beastkin looks a little confused as he looks at Desiree, but he then turns his attention to Angela standing behind me and then nods. “I understand, but using Master’s dungeon without him here…”
“Is there a problem?”
The beastkin wears a pained expression while instinctively straightening his back as if he just received a lash from a whip as he says. “I understand… Follow me.”
The beastkin man starts leading us towards the estate, while Angela grabs one of my hands with both of hers as she trails slightly behind us. When we enter the building we are met with beastkin of every sub-species imaginable all of which are female and wearing skimpy maid like outfits.
All of which seem wary of our presence here, but they also seem quite relieved. Their appearances cause Desiree to lick her lips, and she seems disappointed when they quickly start going back to their duties while the beastkin man leads us through the building. We head down a set of stairs and are met with large solid wooden door. The door creaks loudly as the beastkin man opens it and he stops aside for us to pass him.
I have been known to use torture, in fact this whole trip started with my torturing of that would-be assassin, and I find it quite useful for a manner of reasons, but the torture chamber we enter here is still the largest and most well equipped that I have ever seen. I have seen this place a few times before, but it never ceases to amaze me how much Duke Dionysus not only uses torture as a punishment, but does it to even his own monsters just for the sake of enjoyment.
Upon one of the racks there is a naked young beastkin woman strapped to it, or at least what is left of her. She is strapped to the rack spread eagle, but is missing not only half of one of her legs and all of one of her arms, but several fingers at different joints on the other hand, all the toes on her remaining foot, one of her long soft rabbit ears, and even one of her eyes.
If that wasn’t bad enough she has quite a few large gapping wounds over her body each with some kind of implement sticking out of it or being used just go keep the wound spread open. She is clearly a dungeon monster or she would have never survived some of the wounds on her body much less the blood lose that would have been associated with them.
When the rabbit sees us enter a tear streams down her face and Angela quickly closes her eyes tight as she buries her face into the back of my armor. With a voice muffled by my armor says “What is this place…?”
Angela’s reaction causes the lion beastkin to notice the rabbit beastkin on the table and he quickly starts to move towards her but instead he looks to me and then stops in his tracks, clinches his fists, and turns his head.
“This is Duke Dionysus’s dungeon. Now if I am not mistaken a trip to the capital would take several weeks am I right? The Duke should know to put up his toys when he is done playing with them. I’m guessing he just forgot. Now I am sure if his toy broke while he was away he would be quite upset, so maybe you should take care of it for him. He can always pick up where he left off when he returns.”
The lion beastkin looks troubled, but he keeps looking at the bunny girl strapped to the wall, and he eventually makes his way across the room to her. “Bunny…I’m sorry but this is going to hurt, but I got to take these things out of you before I can move you and so you will heal…”
She doesn’t or can’t say anything as more tears roll down her cheek as she stares at the lion beastkin with her remaining eye. The lion beastkin starts removing the items stabbed or wedged in the bunny girl’s wounds. Each time she lets out a scream that doesn’t even sound human, and each time she does Angela’s grip on my only gets tighter as she hugs my back.
Once all the implements have been removed from the bunny girl the lion beastkin takes her down from the wall and wraps her in the cape that adorned his armor. He gives me a conflicted look, and then looks to Angela who is still grasping me tightly. He doesn’t know what to do other than nod his head and he carries the bunny girl up the stairs and out of the dungeon.
Angela’s grip finally loosens on me as she asks. “Why would anyone do something like that to somebody?”
“Torture has its uses, and I would even do much worse than that if the situation called for it, but Duke Dionysus does it for the sheer enjoyment of it.”
Angela: “She surely couldn’t have deserved anything like that…Why didn’t you help her?”
Desiree: “Master choose his words carefully when he said what he did. It allowed the other beastkin to help her without either one of them suffering a worse fate once the Duke returns.”
Angela: “Master could have at least healed her!”
Desiree: “Would that have really helped her?”
Angela: “What do you mean? Of course it would have!”
“What she means is, that girl was clearly a dungeon monster, or she would have never been able to survive with wounds like that. That means it may take months, but she will eventually heal on her own re-growing the limbs and organs that were removed.”
Angela: “But your healing spells could have taken care of that in an instant!”
Desiree: “That may be true, but then Master would be overstepping his place within an ally’s dungeon.”
“Besides, even if the limbs and organs will return the pain of their removal was surely far more then what she is feeling now. If I were to heal her, when Duke Dionysus returns he could start over from the beginning, but if she has to wait for the dungeon’s natural healing to take effect she won’t have to suffer through that again for months.”
Angela: “I don’t like it! He needs to pay for what he has done!”
Desiree: “The Duke is one of Master’s allies he can’t do something like that.”
“Hold on. I let you choose if you let the guards live or not, so now its Angela’s turn. Is Duke Dionysus’s head what you desire? If it is, I will assist you, but you must be the one to take it.”
Desiree: “Master… That is truly a cruel thing to ask of Angela…”
Angela: “No, it’s alright… I want him to pay for treating his own monsters like that. Please Master, help me make him pay!”
Desiree: “And what of his monsters? Even if Master does help you acquire enough strength to kill the Duke then his monsters will die along with him!”
“She is right, you know. The question is, do you feel that a swift death for his monsters would be better than their constant torture at his hands?”
“You have time to think about it, we did come here to train after all, but I expect you to make up your mind before we are done.”
I then move over to one of the walls, I press on one of the blocks causing a loud clicking sound, and it causes part of the wall to slide out of the way leading to a passage way.
“Now come, it is time to start your training.”
Madam Erin: “Come have a seat pup, we have a lot to talk about.”
“Do we? I offered you and Dyson, no, as a matter of fact I offered the chance to all the Elders to join my group. If you wanted to know what has been going on perhaps you should have taken me up on that offer.”
Madam Erin: “You are still an Elder yourself now! You have a responsibility to keep us informed.”
“I have seen you and Dyson break those rules time and time again, and we both know the Elders only share what they want to share. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate all that you and Dyson have done for me, but it’s time for me to do things my way. The offer still stands though, I would be honored for you and Dyson to join my group so as long as you are willing to follow my rules.”
Madam Erin: “And if I refuse?”
“Then we have nothing else to talk about, and I have a family to get back to.”
Madam Erin: “There is too much at stake to just leave it into your hands, but forget about being an Elder for a second and just as someone who wants to put a stop to the threat we are facing as much as I do. Will you answer some of my questions?”
“I can’t guarantee I will answer, but I suppose I do owe you enough to at least hear you out.”
Madam Erin: “Your recent disappearance, you were gone for months, does it have anything to do with the ones trying to kill us?”
“Going into it, I thought it was a possibility, but no, it didn’t.”
Madam Erin: “What were you doing?”
“That includes information that it sensitive to not only my dungeon, but another as well, so I can’t answer that without their permission.”
Madam Erin: “Then who is this other dungeon?”
“That information alone might be too much, so I’m sorry but I can’t answer that either.”
Madam Erin: “Does it involve the old god Ceres?”
“You would have to ask her.”
Madam Erin: “What can you tell me about this, Ceres? You kept telling us about this old god Ceres, and now she is a dungeon core. What reason would a god have to become just one of us dungeon cores?”
“Again, you should ask her. She has made no attempts to hide, and even her dungeon seems to be an open book, so why is it so hard to not ask her yourself?”
Madam Erin: “Being an Elder you get to personally meet every dungeon core that passed though the neutral zone here on their way to become a dungeon core, but Ceres skipped that step as you made her a dungeon core yourself. Perhaps since you know her personally you could introduce us?”
“I find it hard to believe that you haven’t spoken with her, just because you haven’t been introduced. Besides she said you have already met, and she gave you the opportunity to speak with her, but you choose to remain hidden.”
Madam Erin: “How did…” –She says quite surprised, but she stops and collects herself.- “Reasons like that alone should be why we are properly introduced. If this Ceres is one of the old gods we should be careful how we deal with her.”
“You are afraid of her…?”
Madam Erin: “You don’t have to be afraid of a dragon to know not to stick your head in its mouth.”
“Fine, if it is just an introduction that you want, I am sure that wouldn’t be a problem, so are you ready to meet her?”
Madam Erin: “What…Now?”
“She was at my house when I left, and when her and Belinda get talking… So now should be a perfect time. Besides if you have questions its best to get them out of the way, right?”
Madam Erin seems reluctant and even a little bit worried, but she finally agrees so I cast [Gate] making a portal that leads back to the house. When we arrive I can hear Belinda, Ceres, and several of the others still laughing and talking in the living room, so we head that way.
“While taking the girls home I found a stray, so I thought I would bring her by.”
Belinda: “Madam Erin!” –She says jumping to her feet and gives her a hug.- “It’s been quite a while, what brings you here?”
Madam Erin looks to me and I say. “I ran into her at the neutral zone and she wanted to ask you a few questions about Rory. She might have been around for a long time but she hasn’t been a mother before, so I am sure you could give her some advice once her own child gets here.”
Belinda: “I’d love to!” –She says taking massive hand and pulls her though the living room.-
Ceres is sitting on the couch playing with Rory, while Scylla, Kline, and Listel sit on the other. Roxy is holding Wolfric while sitting in a big arm chair. Wolfric is kicking his feet hitting Zoey in the head while she is oblivious, sitting in the floor with her head in Roxy’s lap, and is sound asleep.
Belinda pulls Madam Erin to the couch in which Ceres is sitting and having her sit down next to her filling up the rest of the couch and causing it to creak. I don’t know what makes Madam Erin more nervous, the fact she is sitting next to Ceres or when Belinda takes Rory and hands her off to Madam Erin.
“I guess you two haven’t been properly introduced yet either, so Madam Erin this is Ceres, and Ceres, this is Madam Erin.” –I say while motioning to them.-
Ceres: “It’s nice to finally put a face to the name.” –She says while shaking Madam Erin’s massive hand.-
Madam Erin awkwardly shakes Ceres’s hand while carefully trying to hold Rory in the other. Meanwhile Belinda asks her. “How is Elexia doing anyway, and when is she due?”
Madam Erin: “She still has a few months left.”
Belinda: “Are you sure? Because Rory came long before Wolfric and Roxy and I both got pregnant pretty close to the same time. I don’t know if it is that way for all of these new dungeon cores, but Rory was quite a bit earlier than we expected.”
Madam Erin: “For us it is the oppisite, so we are actually basing that off of the child’s growth, as succubi usually have a very short pregnancy and Elexia has already been carrying this child for twice the length of it took for her other daughters.”
“Other daughters? You mean those succubi that perished in my dungeon that you called them her daughters, I thought you were talking figuratively, but you mean they were her actual daughters?”
Madam Erin: “That’s right. Lilith is actually only the 3rd succubus I have ever summoned. All the others are either Elxia’s daughters or granddaughters.”
“I’m sorry…I wish I could have done more at the time to prevent their deaths.”
Madam Erin: “Elexia was more than prepared for what would happen when she allowed them to help you.”
Belinda: “You said daughters and granddaughters, but what about sons? Has she only had girls?”
Madam Erin: “Succubi have no males in their race. A succubus will always birth a succubus no matter their partner, the only exception is when they breed with incubus, but then if the child is male it would just be an incubus rather than a succubus.”
Belinda: “Oh, I see… I guess that means you know you will have a daughter then, right?”
Madam Erin: “That’s right.”
Ceres: “I am glad you were one of the dungeon cores that were able to have a child, and they all weren’t wasted on the likes of Draco. With my sister giving Two-Twelve the ability to make dungeon cores himself, and me no longer able to help, I don’t know if my siblings will lift the restriction to let any more of these dungeon cores like Rory and your child to be born.”
Madam Erin: “You can’t speak to the other gods now?”
Ceres: “My sister that controls [Menu] and I have been able to pass a few quips when I have used [Menu] to summon things for my dungeon, but to speak to any of them directly it looks like big brother has a better chance at that then I do.”
Madam Erin: “Your big brother?”
“She means me… Since I made her a dungeon core she has been insisting on calling me that.”
Ceres: “Aww, big brother is blushing. The truth is even though my race is still that of a Demi-God, at least according to my adventurer’s ID, I am 100% dungeon core now.”
Madam Erin: “Demi-God…? What about your powers?”
Ceres: “Miss Elder! Asking a poor young dungeon core like myself to spill all her secrets…?”
Madam Erin doesn’t seem to know how to respond to that, but Ceres then laughs and says. “I’m only joking. I still have my powers, at least I think I do, but I have never had a status before, because I just… Was, but now that I have abilities, skills, and magic, some of my powers are out of my reach for now.”
“It’s a little late now, but are you sure you want to tell all that to Madam Erin…?”
Ceres: “Why not, that’s the whole reason she came here tonight, to find out about me, wasn’t it? “
Belinda: “But I thought she came here to ask questions about the baby?”
Ceres: “Of course not. She is a “Dungeon Core Elder” she thinks she knows all she need to about having a child, but the truth is she doesn’t even know, what she doesn’t know about raising a child. It won’t be till after the baby is born that she will realize there are questions she has. Big brother saying that was his way of being polite instead of just showing up with an Elder and saying “here she wants to know all about you”.”
“And I thought you said you couldn’t use your powers.”
Ceres: “I don’t need my powers to read you like a book, big brother! Besides if we want Madam Erin and Dyson to join our group it is best to be honest with them from the start, right?”
“If you want her to know then that’s fine, but I just didn’t want to make that decision for you.”
Ceres: “And so I did. Now Madam Erin, I told you about me, so why don’t you tell us what it would take for you to join our group, because I am pretty sure if we can get you on board, Dyson will follow suit, and with you two then many more will follow as well.”
Madam Erin: “It isn’t that simple.”
Ceres: “Why not, do you not trust Two-Twelve?”
Madam Erin: “I trust that he is a decent man, and he has the best of intentions, but that isn’t enough. He lacks the strength to pull off what he is promising.”
Ceres: “I don’t know about that, he has already saved your life once before.”
“No, Madam Erin is right. I do lack the strength to save us from the traitors, but that is exactly the point. The entire reason I am making this group is because together we will have the strength to take them down.”
Madam Erin: “There is too much room for error, there is still so much we don’t know about the traitors.”
Ceres: “Even more reason to pool our information. Look, all of the dungeon cores that are in our group, are part of our group on their own free will. Just give Two-Twelve a chance, and if you like what you see, then tell Dyson, if not then we won’t bother you with it again.”
Madam Erin: “And if I think your group is just as dangerous as the traitors.”
“Then you do what you think is best for all the dungeon cores.”
Ceres: “But don’t think we will just roll over either. Not being with us doesn’t mean you are against us, but if you want to be our enemy we will be sure to give you a run for your money, I promise you that.”
Madam Erin: “If nothing else, it would be worth at least hearing what you have managed to find out after all this time.”
We haven’t learned much, but I tell her the small amounts of information we have learned about the traitors, she asked about my disappearance again, but I tell her I still have to clear it with the other dungeon core first.
I think she realizes it was for Inari, and I am sure she can work out that it was concerning one of the corrupt dungeons, but at least the details of what went down are still unknown to her. Most of the communication between us and our group had been done with the [Archjusticar Menu] but just for the sake of argument we also give Madam Erin one of the communication parchments as we do use them every now and again when we are trying to reach everyone at once.
Even if Madam Erin doesn’t remain with our group for long, I seriously doubt her copy of the communication parchment would end up in the wrong hands at least. Ceres then tells Madam Erin a bit more about herself and we even head to that side of town to give Madam Erin a proper tour of Cere’s university.
By the time Madam Erin leaves heading back to her own dungeon it is already quite late.
Ceres: “So what do you think? Do you think Madam Erin is going to stick around?”
“I am sure for a while she will only do the minimum required, just to see how things are going, but I saw in her the Madam Erin I was used to, and not the one that was plagued with fear about the traitors, so I think it is promising.”
Ceres: “And even if she doesn’t stick around, maybe it would be enough to at least gain a few more stronger members before she decides to leave.”
“Well if Madam Erin is going to be watching over our shoulders, I guess we should really get to work to try to have some actual results for a change.
Ceres: “What exactly do you have in mind?”
“I think what we need to do first is find a way to give some of the weakest members of our group a bit of a boost. We choose a dungeon core, go to their dungeon and find ways to improve not only their income, but their own strength as well.”
Ceres: “The rings you made for the Elders and a few of the other dungeon cores have started to be pretty widely used among the traitors, so it might be time to start considering giving them out to our own members as well.”
“I didn’t want just anyone to have them, because I was afraid how they would get used, but at this point when all of our enemies have them but none of our allies do, it kind of defeats the purpose, so you may be right.”
Ceres: “Alright, so who should we help first? Or better yet, who do you think is our weakest link?”
“Dame and Kenta are our youngest dungeon cores, but Kenta already has a secondary dungeon, and they both have the rings already, so I think the weakest dungeon core in our group would be Dungeon Core #712 [Sara].”
Ceres: “Alright, first thing in the morning you make a ring for her, and we will both prepare some monsters to help guard her dungeon and provide her with xp. We will then take them to her and give her some help to make sure she is making the most out of her dungeon.”
“Alright, I will see you in the morning then…”
I then part from Ceres and head back home, it seems everyone else has already went back home as well so I head upstairs. I find Belinda putting Rory to bed, so I give her a hand, and then we head to bed ourselves.