I wake up early in the morning, and quickly prepare for my day ahead, but when I step out of my bedroom I quickly begin blushing and odd sound escapes my lips.
There in the living room directly in front of me is the bare butt of a young man sticking up in the air, with a large fluffy tail swaying back and forth in a cheerful manner while the young man gathers clothing and other articles off the floor. Large canine-like ears on his head twitch and turn when I make a sound and the face of the man nervously turns to meet my gaze.
The man quickly becomes startled and stands bolt upright, while looking down at his state he quickly begins to blush as well, and he grabs ahold of his tail using it and the clothes in his hands to cover his crotch.
“Who are you?” –I manage to say in a high pitched squeaky voice.-
Beastkin Man: “You must be the roommate… She said you would have been out already. I’m sorry, I’m Jake, and I’m one of Miss Sofia’s students.”
“Miss Sofia?” –Says a voice from the other side of the room, and we both look to see the young woman with chestnut colored hair wrapped only in a light bedsheet as she leans against the door frame of her own bedroom.- “That isn’t what you called me last night.”
“Student? What kind of classes are you teaching?!” –I say while still quite embarrassed, and the young beastkin man tries to quickly pull his clothes on that he was gathering off the floor while still blushing profusely.-
Sofia: “Jake here just wanted to earn a little extra credit.”
“You can’t do stuff like that with your students and count it as extra credit! What would Master say?!”
“Excuse me…” –The young beastkin man says while fleeing from the house while still only half dressed.-
Sofia: “Now look what you did, I was going to enjoy a bit of that for breakfast as well, and it was only a joke, Jake being in my bed, and being in my class are two separate matters completely. As for Two-Twelve there is nothing he can say. I made it clear when I joined the dungeon to be allowed to choose my own sexual partners.”
“What about Dyson, I thought you were waiting for him to come back for you?”
Sofia: “I’m sure that ship has long since sailed by now. Even if I did get to have him, after talking with that Sandra girl a few months ago it became abundantly clear I would never get to become “His Sofia”, so it was time for me to move on, and so I have.”
“But one of your students?!”
Sofia: “Over half of Tobes is taking at least one course up at Ceres’s university. If I excluded students I never would get laid! How about next time I grab ahold of two young men and we can make it a double date? I will make sure he wine and dines you, and it would be fun I promise!”
“I couldn’t do something like that with some stranger!”
Sofia: “You don’t have to sleep with him, if you don’t want, but you could at least go out on a date! You need to loosen up a bit!”
“I couldn’t possibly…”
Sofia: “Look… I would have a better chance to getting Dyson all to myself then you would be able to catch Two-Twelve’s eye.”
My face begins to fire as I start blushing even more while I refute Sofia’s words. “It’s not like that! I care for Master very much, but not like that!”
Sofia: “Really…? That’s not what you say when you mumble in your sleep.”
“I do…?” –I start shaking my head so hard my ears are flopping back and forth.- “I do not!”
Sofia: “Then prove it. Just one date, and will even make sure he knows where you stand, and you can part ways with him immediately after dinner. You just have to promise me you will at least try to enjoy yourself during dinner!”
“I…I’m late for work, I got to go!” –I then quickly flee from home with a burning face as I head for City Hall.-
I bump into Bell as I go to meet with Ceres and she is uncharacteristically late while blushing as red as an apple. When she realizes it’s me she bumped into she seems to only get redder, if that is even possible. She quickly apologizes profusely and runs off into the City Hall building.
I’m not quite sure what her deal is this morning, so I send a quick message to Belinda to have her check on her to make sure she is alright before continuing on my way to Ceres’s university. When I arrive at the university Ceres quickly greets me by sneaking up behind me and wrapping her arms from me while hanging from my neck.
“What are you doing…? Are you ready?”
Ceres: “Of course I am big brother, but are you? I didn’t see you bring any reinforcements for Sara.”
“I thought it would be far easier to come get you and your group, take you back to my dungeon, get my group, and teleport from there.”
Ceres lets go of me and begins eyeing me suspiciously. “You sure you didn’t just want to check out what I was going to take along before summoning your own group?”
“It isn’t a competition, why would it even matter to me what you summoned?”
Ceres still eyes me a bit suspiciously then breaks out in a wide smile while she shrugs her shoulders and says. “Ok! Now big brother, take my hand and I will take you to my group.” –She says offering her hand to me palm down like she is asking to dance.-
I hesitantly take her hand and she quickly spins into my chest and at the same time I feel the pull on the back of my chest as she transfers us within her dungeon. As soon as we arrive at our destination she spins back out and extends her arms out as she says. “Tada!”
“Somebody is in a good mood this morn…” –I say but my words trail off when I notice the room we are standing in.-
It’s a large empty room at least the size of two or maybe even three times the maxed size room summoned with [Menu]. It has the large windowless stone walls with the same feeling of being underground like the room she took me to speak in the other day.
Unlike the other day though this one is not furnished with any couches and chairs, but weapon and armor racks, and it looks like a massive armory. What’s more, is that there is a group at least 30 to 50 people strong, gathering and equipping gear from the racks.
Ceres seems unperturbed by the huge group of humans as she says. “Of course I am in a good mood! The group you made has been doing everything it can lately to just hold on to what they had, but last night we finally managed to talk Madam Erin into joining, and we are taking our first decisive action to improve the lives of the other dungeon cores! This is a huge step forward, big brother!”
“Who are all these people…?”
Ceres: “The ones I summoned to help Sara of course!”
“All of them?!”
Ceres: “Well they are all level one, but she can quickly begin training them inside her dungeon and they should level up quite quickly. Then she should be able to acquire a fair amount of xp from them while also using them to defend her dungeon if she needs to.”
“They are all humans though. How can you be sure they would all be willing to help Sara?”
Ceres quickly turns to the group and calls out. “Are you all ready to dedicate your lives to help and protect Dungeon Core #712 Sara and her dungeon?”
Every person in the room calls out in a unified battle cry that not only echoes in my ears but is loud enough to rattle the weapon and armor racks as well. Ceres then turns back to me with a smile and nods her head quite pleased with herself.
Ceres: “I spent the entire night summoning each one, one by one, making sure each one had their own aspirations, hopes, and dreams tied to Sara and her dungeon. They may not be her monsters, but I promise you they will care more for her dungeon then even one of her own boss monsters!”
“But isn’t this a bit…Much…? And how did you get the xp to pay for all of them?”
Ceres: “Maric used to provide every trainee that he trained with a monster worth 50,000xp once they acquired their own dungeon. That small gesture was enough to make the dungeon cores he trained some of the most successful dungeon cores currently alive, so something like this will not only make sure Sara survives, but also thrives. Remember it isn’t the humans we are worried about now but other dungeon cores, and even the dungeon cores Maric trained fell apart when you and Listel tore through them.”
I don’t know what to say while standing there dumbfounded…
Ceres: “Or were you planning on just summoning her a handful of goblins and calling it a day…?”
“I…” –Is all I manage to say and then I let out a deep sigh.-
Ceres: “You have to take this seriously Two-Twelve. These dungeon cores are going to be relying on you, and you are going to have to make them feel like they are important and safe if you have any hope of making them trust you enough to risk their own lives in this battle that you are going to want them to take place in.”
“I know you are right, but we have over 50 allies, do you realize how much xp it is going to take to do this for each one?”
Ceres: “If we do this right, I am sure we will gain a few new members before it is all said and done, so I think it would be fair to say at least 10 million xp bare minimum. Think of it this way though, you know how much xp you acquire from those groups of yours you send out, so for every one of these dungeons you supply monsters to you will be gaining xp back from them as well.”
“It is hard enough to recall the groups I already have once a month, much less fifty plus more groups.”
Ceres: “Who says you have to do it every month? Just choose a handful of groups and only do a little at a time. What about a ring for Sara, did you summon that yet?”
Ceres: “Well everyone here looks like they are about ready, it might be a good idea to make an adjoining room between our two dungeons like Dawn and Twilight have. That would make taking care of the rest of the dungeons a lot easier, because having to cast [Gate] even though your dungeon is barely a few yards away seems wasteful. In any case we can worry about that later, for now let’s move this group over to your dungeon and we can summon Sara’s ring and the monsters you are going to prepare for her.”
The bunnies were expecting us, but I am sure they are not expecting a small army, so I send them a message to tell them we are on our way so we don’t worry them with our numbers, and then I cast [Gate] while watching Ceres’s group march through the portal.
Even with the humans marching through the portal quickly and efficiently there are still so many of them I have to maintain the portal for extra time for all of them to pass through, but once they are finally through Ceres locks arms with me and says “Shall we?” and we follow Ceres’s group through.
I decide the first thing to take care of is the ring, and when I made Ceres’s ring I used the [Artificer] skill rather than just [Menu] and it seemed to work out pretty well, so I do a similar process for Sara’s ring and accept the summoning of it while focusing on what I know and remember of Sara.
Twintail-power Ring: Haters are going to hate, but twintails are justice. This unique ring was made by Dungeon Core 212 [Archjusticar —— Gowen] for one of his companions and first friends. They may have grown apart and unfortunate events may have led to Dungeon Core 212 [Archjusticar —— Gowen] losing most of his memories of Dungeon Core #712 [Sara], but fate has brought them back together and will lead to new and stronger bonds in the future.
This ring grants no effects to non-dungeon cores, but any dungeon core wearing the Twintail-power Ring gains double xp from all personal sources and it splits the xp between the dungeon and the dungeon core itself. If the ring is worn by Dungeon Core #712 [Sara] it will be granted additional powers based on the bond in which she shares with Dungeon Core #212 [Archjusticar —— Gowen].
“What is with these item descriptions lately…Is your sister that controls [Menu] just picking on me because I made you a dungeon core?”
Ceres: “If you didn’t I would be dead, so if anything she should be thankful, so what does it say?”
“It doesn’t matter, because it works, so next is the monsters…”
Ceres: “You’re no fun…”
“What should I summon… I think you have summoned more than enough humans, Sara is a wind dungeon core like Maeve, so maybe I should summon some things that would fit well in her dungeon.”
Ceres: “Or better yet, if you are not summoning humans, then maybe something from the opposing element that she can’t summon.”
“Speaking of that, how about a handful of dwarves? Not only could they help defend her dungeon, but if can supply them with the materials she could gain access to much better equipment.”
Ceres: “That isn’t a bad idea. She also said the requirements for Elves will also be quite difficult for the way her dungeon is set up, so maybe you can summon a few of them as well. She could get lucky and a few of them might be able to use elven crafting.”
Sara’s dungeon is underground, so I don’t have to worry about that, and as long as you give them plenty of ore and alcohol any dwarf would be perfectly happy, so I don’t worry too much about them as I summon a handful of both male and female dwarves equipping them with clothing before the light even fades from their summoning, which is an art I have finally mastered.
The elves might be a little harder, but she is in the middle of the forest, so their lives might be in a bit more danger then the dwarves, but they should at least be happy there, so my main focus on summoning them is a desire for crafting.
Instead of crafting it seems the focus was more on just production, as from the handful of elves, only 2 of which desire to be crafters, but all of them want to produce something. The one that wants to be a painter might be a bit of a problem, but this might have worked out because other than the two crafters and the painter, two want to grow things, and one once to be an alchemist of sorts, producing potions and elixirs.
With six dwarves and six elves that leaves me spending only a quarter of the xp that Ceres did, and I am not really trying to compete, but I also don’t want it to look like I am not taking this seriously either. I decide to go with a few more earth monsters, summoning a male and female pair of sentient gremlins, a few non-sentient earth based elementals, and one of the smaller non-sentient earth dragons.
That is a lot more xp than I planned to spend today, but Ceres was right about it being an investment, and not only should it pay for itself, it will also serve to keep Sara a bit safer so I guess it is worth it.
Now we just have to get all these monsters to Sara’s dungeon. Ceres and I contact Sara to inform her to have a room with plenty of space ready for us. We told her last night that we were going to come by to give her dungeon a hand today, but that was all we said, so needless to say she was quite confused by what we were asking her to do now.
Once she informs us she has a space ready I confirm it with the [Archjusticar Menu] and use [Gate] to open a portal leading to the room she created.
“I should probably go first to make sure she doesn’t panic when all these monsters and people arrive though the portal. You bring up the rear so I know it’s clear to close up the portal.”
Ceres nods to my request and I watch as the two gremlins quickly scale the earth dragon to take spots on his head while kicking him like they are trying to spur on a horse, and holding a hand forward pointing at the portal.
“Hold on you two, let me go first, we definitely don’t want the dragon to be the first thing she sees or she will keel over for sure.” –I say stepping out in front of them heading through the portal.-
When I arrive Sara is standing a few feet in front of the portal with a pigtail in each hand as she jumps up and down excitedly. “You actually came!”
“Of course I did, now step back. There is going to be quite a few monsters to come though the portal that are going to give you a hand.”
Sara: “Is that why you wanted a big room?”
“Yes, and this one still looks a bit small, so if you have enough xp or we are just going to have to make due for now.”
Sara: “Another one?! What are you bringing an army?”
I let out a nervous chuckle and then sigh. “Here, let’s just step back alright?”
I walk forward playing my hand on her shoulder and lead her out of the way as the dragon starts to emerge from the portal.
Sara: “Eeeehh! A dragon!?”
The gremlins are still riding the dragons head holding on tightly to its horns as they kick it with their heels. Even though a gremlin looks like a miniature goblin they are still stronger than even the toughest hobgoblins I can summon, so I hope they aren’t hurting that earth dragon as they keep kicking it in the head…
“Among other things, he is going to help keep your dungeon safe, so let’s stay back so the others can come through as well.”
Sara: “There is more?!” –She says while opening her eyes wide with a shocked expression.-
As the other monsters come through the portal her expression changes from shock to excitement and back again each time something comes through the portal, she can’t seem to sit still either as she bounces around pulls on her pigtails and rocks on her heels.
When the humans start coming though she really begins to panic and I have quickly calm her down and assure her that they are here to help.
By the time I finally see Ceres come though the portal I have been maintaining it for several minutes, so I finally release the portal and look around the room that is packed full of monsters. I think Sara is broken because she is pulling on her pigtails while rocking on her heels giggling while muttering to herself.
“Are you alright…?”
Sara: “There is even a ton of humans… How did you do all this?”
“Ceres helped quite a bit. Now, do you have a place for Ceres, you, and me to have a chat? It is kind of cramped in here.”
Sara’s eyes seem a bit glazed over as she opens her [Menu] looking around for a few seconds before she nods. Once Ceres manages to make her way through the crowd to reach us we each take one of Sara’s hands and she transfers us to another part of the dungeon. We arrive in a hallway that looks to just be part of Sara’s dungeon as she instantly become on guard.
“Are we in the normal part of your dungeon?”
Sara: “I don’t have visitors, so I always just stay in the core room.”
“We should be safe here at least right?”
Sara: “For a while…”
“There isn’t any part of your dungeon that the adventurers don’t enter? I thought you told us you have been doing well, lately.”
Sara: “I have felt a lot safer since I hid the crystal room like you told me to, but that is the only room that doesn’t have adventurers running though it all the time.”
“Well hopefully we can help you secure your dungeon a bit.” –I say while opening the [Archjusticar Menu]– “Alright walk me through your dungeon, anything you can see on your [Menu] I can see so we will just take it slow and we will see what we can do to help.”
We spend the next few hours going through her dungeon room by room, with Ceres and I making suggestions on how to make it more secure. Once we are done with that I ask her, “You said adventurer’s enter your dungeon at all hours, do you mean to say that you have adventurers in your dungeon all night as well?”
Sara: “Yes… There is a stupid mushroom that grows in my dungeon! I don’t even know why. I don’t summon them myself, but the still grow back every night. I guess I should be thankful because with the mushrooms being in my dungeon, it has prevented the destruction of my crystal, several times. It only grows at night and is apparently quite valuable to the humans, so a lot of them rush to stake claims on an area each night so they can scrap the mushrooms off the wall after they grow.
“Two of the elves that came with us want to grow things, so maybe they can find a way to make the mushrooms grow more frequently or in greater quantities, because if you don’t have a town as part of your dungeon, any reason for humans to want to be in your dungeon during the start of day is a good thing.”
Sara: “I never thought of it like that, I just thought it was a pain that I had to worry about humans being in my dungeon while I am trying to sleep.”
“Your dungeon looks to be made from natural like materials, but is it possible to make doors of some kind?”
Ceres: “Wind…Wind…Wind…Ah you have hanging vines available to summon right?”
Sara: “I have tried that, but humans cut right through them, because they are destructible.”
Ceres: “Being destructible is the trade-off because they count as locked doors. If you set them up in a open position where the adventurers can pass through them and just before midnight you close them only for a few minutes you might be able to double the amount of xp you are bringing in every night. Even if adventurers do destroy some of them their cost is very low and it should be well worth it.”
“I would start slow though, and pick a room with low amounts of the mushrooms and then spread out from there, so by the time you have them all around your dungeon the humans are already used to their presence.”
Sara: “I can do that…”
Ceres: “What are we going to do with the monsters we brought? It sounds like the humans that enter Sara’s dungeon are all from a pretty tight nit group, if we threw a bunch of new people on top of them there may be trouble.”
“I think the best way is for her to focus on another section of her dungeon leaving the entrance to it hidden like her crystal, then she can hold the new monsters in there and still gain xp from the while using their xp to increase her overall dungeon. She can then slowly have one human group enter the dungeon at a time until the humans get used to seeing them. I don’t know how far the nearest village is from here, but it might be wise to send them visit there as well. She can either add a few rifts to the new sections of her dungeon where she plans on hiding the new monsters, or just hold off until the humans are used to them before worrying about leveling them up.”
Sara: “Is their levels really that important…?”
“Of course! The higher there levels are the more xp you will acquire from them. A level 1 human will only give you 1 xp a day, but a level 20 human will give you 470 xp.”
Sara: “I didn’t realize there was that much of a difference between levels…All the humans that stay overnight in my dungeon must be really low level, because I only get 100 or so xp between all of them and there are at least 30 that frequent my dungeon at night.”
“You are the same age as me… How have you not known that after all this time…?”
Ceres: “That just goes to show you how very different your dungeon is compared to the normal dungeon. Sara’s dungeon seems to be right in line with the typical dungeon of her age. Most dungeon cores don’t even start taking off until they are at least 50 years old.”
“…I have always been told my dungeon is above normal, but I didn’t realize it was that different.”
Ceres: “Well that is why we came here, so Sara can begin catching up with you and your girls, so have you given her the ring yet?”
“I forgot.” –I say while removing the ring from my pocket.- “This should help you level up if you do some training yourself.”
Sara: “You want me to fight?”
“I know I have told you take skills as soon and often as you can, so you should be at least above average compared to the adventurers of your same level.”
Noticing Sara’s nervousness Ceres says. “Let’s just take it one step at a time, alright? We can worry about getting your dungeon secure first, and worry about the rest afterwards.”
We continue to talk to Sara for a while longer, but once we have to relocate due to an approaching adventurer’s group we start wrapping things up. We gave her a ton of information today, so we make sure she has it before we finally depart heading back to Tobes.
Ceres: “You may not yet realize it, but you just advanced Sara’s growth by thirty years. Once she starts putting our advice into play it won’t be long until her dungeon really starts taking shape.”
“I guess I have been so used to seeing dungeon cores like the Elders or the girls, and I didn’t ever stop to think what it was like for the normal dungeon cores.”
Ceres: “Your method of training dungeon cores changed everything, but I am sure there are dozens of dungeon cores out there ranging from 6 to 50 years old that are struggling just like Sara was.”
“Well our group comes first, but I think once we get them all situated, we can start recruiting new members by helping them like we did today for Sara.”
Ceres: “I think that would be a great idea.”
“It is going to take at least a week for me to recover enough xp to make another group like I did today, without dipping to far into my emergency funds, so I think we should spend the next few days just keeping an eye on Sara, and go from there.”
There is still plenty of daylight left, but Ceres and I part ways and I head home to spend time with Rory and Belinda. I find them at the City Hall building, but once they see me Bell quickly begins blushing and Belinda starts laughing. I don’t quite get the joke, but Belinda pats me on the shoulder while telling me it is nothing, and we head home.