Chapter 176: A Plan of Action

 

It has been a week since Madam Erin’s son was born, and we have had a few discussions concerning these new dungeon cores. Ceres only knows what she has already told us, as no dungeons like this have ever been born before.

We have begun to wonder about Draco’s children though. Out of the 5 available dungeon cores to be born 3 of them were taken by Draco, but with his death we are not entirely sure what happened to his children.

If the monsters that were carrying Draco’s children were his boss monsters, it is possible they are still alive, and even under normal circumstances, from the time Draco first started trying to summon a new dungeon core till now, it will still be at least another year before a normal dragonkin’s egg would hatch.

That means we can’t rule out the possibility of his children surviving for at least that long and perhaps even longer if something were to happen like it did with Madam Erin’s son. We just have no way of knowing until we or if we receive a message about their birth.

As for Cambion he seems to be doing just fine. Belinda got the chance to meet him and she even tried get Elexia to drop the Lord from the front of his name, but even after Belinda tried to explain the way a title works, but Elexia wouldn’t have any of it and kept insisting on Lord Cambion.

Elexia feels that since a dungeon cores name is not only what they choose for themselves, but in which they are referred to as well. She thinks calling him Lord Cambion he will have an advantage as he grows up.

[Menu] adds the Archjusticar title to my name, the Elder title to their names, and I have even seen a few Dukes among dungeon cores, but Dyson isn’t referred to as the king, so I can’t be for certain if Elexia’s idea will work the way she is hoping.

If you didn’t know Madam Erin you might think she is acting cold or unconcerned about Cambion, but from what I know of her it seems like she is doing the best she knows how. This kind of thing is completely foreign to a dungeon core, so it only makes sense that she is having trouble adjusting, but I only wish she realized it a few month ago, and maybe she would have adjusted a bit better by now.

Even though it is my birthday that is approaching it has seemed to have turned into a celebration for everyone, and I have used the opportunity to update the gear of many of the girls. It took a fair deal more xp then I care to admit, but between [Dungeon Jewelcrafting], [Elven Crafting], and [Dungeon Artificer] I have managed to produce some very nice gear for everyone.

Between the rings for the dungeon cores in our group, and the equipment for my own monsters, I managed to rank up [Dungeon Artificer] again. With the new rank, when I select an item as a base I can use the two other slots to put in items of different quality or material to attempt to increase the quality or material of the base item.

That has allowed me to create items that I was already capable of summoning, and change them into items I am not, unlocking that new item in the process. That makes all the work Azami did in learning to summon mythril to be a bit of a waste.

In truth she can still make items for zero cost to the dungeon as long as she has the time, so it isn’t completely wasted, but for items like Belinda’s armor the skymetal seems like a much better material to use then mythril. The cost of upgrading Belinda’s armor was far from cheap however as it took two suits of skymetal armor like the suit that I wear to combine with Belinda’s dwarven armor in [Dungeon Artificer] to make it skymetal as well, but it also had the added bonus increasing the quality from expert to master.

That allowed me to summon skymetal full-plate armor for less than it cost me to upgrade Belinda’s armor, but when you take quality into account combining several lower quality pieces of equipment together might be cheaper than summoning them at higher quality.

I try experimenting with it a bit on cheap steel weapons, but the results vary. It can take as few as two standard steel swords to make an expert quality steel sword, or as many as six. More often than not it takes four of them, which is the same cost of summoning it that way, so unless you can’t summon that particular item, or you are partial to the base item, it is easier to just summon it then to upgrade it.

Taking that into account, Zoey’s armor has been gathering dust since she started wearing the mythril armor, so I give it the same treatment, upgrading it to the skymetal as well, although the quality of her armor was already master, so it doesn’t increase any further.

Lilah is the only other one of my girls that has her own custom armor, so I upgrade hers as well. Between the full-plate of Belinda’s armor, the armor I wear, the Archer’s armor, Archer’s half-helm, Beastkin Tail-armor that make up Zoey’s armor, and Lilah’s battle dress, that leaves me plenty of options to summon new gear for almost all of my dungeon monsters that don’t already have custom armor.

In fact the only ones that don’t end up with new, or at least upgraded armor, is Azami, because I promised her she could make her own, Moss, who would probably prefer a set from Azami as well, Scylla who is the only one of my girls that doesn’t wear armor, and Bell who is the only one of my girls to wear light armor.

For the weapons I go through the same process making sure everyone has best weapon I can make for them, or at least that I can afford to make for them.

I even made some equipment for Kline now that he is part of my dungeon as well. We do have some family that are not part of the dungeon, so I decided to make some for Doug, Aria, Tanya, and Exavier as well, but I have to admit I didn’t spend as much effort or xp on their equipment.

By the time the party arrives and I present my gifts, it seems like we are gearing for war rather than having a celebration, but no one seems to mind. Even those who are not part of the dungeon and got lesser gear, are simply amazed due to the fact that since I summoned their gear it all holds at least some kind of enchantment. Of course Tanya and Exavier don’t know that part.

The bunnies look rather charming all in their own uniquely designed battle dresses, each varying slightly by their tastes. Lilah’s of course has the bunny motifs and engravings being just the upgraded version of the armor she already had, while Lylah’s is fluffy and frilly with flower-like designs.

Lila’s armor is very no-nonsense design with a bit of pink fabric and lace to still give it a bit of girlish charm, while Leilah’s armor is like much like Lylah’s except instead of flowers the designs are cute monster caricatures.

The twins, Lele, and Lala, are the only ones with a matching battledress which are still quite frilly but are made of a darker earthy brown and green colored fabrics. Like Leilah’s armor they have little monster caricatures on theirs, but instead of normal monsters they are of some of the demi-human races, with a few overly exaggerated angry little elves mixed in for good measure. Moss of course doesn’t find it very funny but Lele and Lala seem to love them so he doesn’t say a word.

Before the mythril armor Roxy wore a battle dress as well, but this time I made her armor like my own, giving her a bit more protection to offset that small buckler she carries for defense. Sofia uses a large shield, but with being a teacher now it would be better for her students to be able to see her footwork, so like Roxy I traded out a battle dress for half-plate like armor.

For Katie I just covered her from head to toe in skymetal, which she seemed to be a little upset it wasn’t dwarven metal, but even though she would probably not admit it out loud she does understand that the skymetal is a superior metal of dwarven metal.

Orichalcum is supposed to be the dwarven equivalent to mythril, but with the armor I learned to make from Desiree being only for a succubus, even when I summoned a set and tried to use it to upgrade the other armors because it being monster armor it wouldn’t allow me to.

Because of Desiree’s whip-swords being made from orichalcum though, I was able to summon and use them to make superior weapons, and also fulfill Lilah’s wish of replacing her normal barbed whip for one of those whip-swords.

Being unable to summon armor for Scylla and Bell I instead made them each an enchanted necklace from my available enchantments that would most benefit them. Sadly each of them cost about the same amount of xp as the equipment I summoned for the others.

Kline and Aria’s equipment were also a custom made archer’s armor, albeit Kline’s was of better material, each are complete with the half-helm, and tail armor. For Exavier I used [Dungeon Jewelcrafting] to change up my old scale-mail armor to make it more presentable for a prince and gave him that.

Tanya’s attitude has greatly improved, and she is even getting along pretty well with Belinda, but she is still rather vain so I took a battledress, and although I guarantee its protective quality, it looks more suited for a ball then combat.

For Doug I took Mariam’s overly gaudy mythril armor that I got in Merretta, and made it more suitable for him. I feel a bit bad about giving Doug mythril armor when Logan still hasn’t gotten any, but Logan has retired as an adventurer, and I guess that should be Queen’s responsibility now.

Of course Ceres wasn’t going to pass up the party, but we didn’t really prepare anything for her, and she didn’t seem to mind. All in all the party turns out rather well, and everyone has a good time, and once it is over we all return to our daily routines.

By the time Ceres and I have helped a total of eight of the weaker dungeon cores within our group, fall is already on its way out and it is giving in to winter. We have lost one more of our group to the traitors, but we have managed to gain three new members as well.

Ceres, Madam Erin, and I figured it up the other day. Since the traitors first began killing other dungeon cores we have lost just over 100 dungeons, and that isn’t even including the traitors that have been killed, or the few that lost their lives not related to the traitors.

There was only a dozen or so available dungeon core numbers before the traitors, so there is still over 600 dungeon cores left, but 1/8th of our population is by no means something we can take lightly. Our group however seems to be fighting a losing battle, as the traitors continue to get stronger by the day, killing other dungeon cores, our group is not gaining strength fast enough.

Madam Erin will help us when it is just Ceres and I, but she still won’t let us tell anyone else about her joining us. Lucille and Laura are still pitting themselves against each other in Merretta’s civil war, and Dyson has been hard to get ahold of ever since I evolved Desiree. All of which makes the Elders little to no help in protecting the dungeon cores from the traitors.

We finally catch a break when one of the members of our group, whose dungeon is in Adra, thinks they have uncovered one of the dungeon’s near to them are part of the traitors. The question is how do we find out for sure, and if it is true, deal with them without alerting the other traitors.

We can’t be sure due to the fact that the traitors have so far been able to go undetected, even with all the information I can learn from a dungeon core with the [Archjusticar Menu], but if this dungeon core is part of the traitors it should be one of the weaker ones, so it takes a few days but we come up with a plan.

Madam Erin finally decides to stick her neck out for us a bit by calling the dungeon core to a meeting with the Elders. She tells the dungeon core we are investigating that the meeting is about Draco’s death and the need to find a replacement, but tells the other Elders a bit of what is going on.

Even though the other Elders have been preoccupied with their own endeavors, it isn’t like they are not interested in finding the traitors as well, so she should be able to get them to at least show up for the meeting.

While the Elders are trying to prove or disprove that the dungeon core is one of the traitors at the neutral zone, I meanwhile will head to the dungeon core’s dungeon and see if I can try to find any proof there.

Even with the dungeon core being what should be one of the weaker dungeon cores, I am not going to take any chances. Inari is still working on helping the old gods in Shima, but she is still in the preparation stages for her next trip into a corrupt dungeon, so she has agreed to help.

Not only Inari, but I am going to take my other daughters along, as well as some of the stronger members of the group. Just to be sure we cover the dungeon thoroughly while the elders keep the dungeon core busy.

If something happens to me during this trip, I don’t want our group to just stop, so we decided to have Ceres stay behind just in case.

I can’t really blame her, but Belinda doesn’t want to be left behind this time either, and although her level has fallen behind, we are going to need all the help we can get. Scylla has her duties as mayor, but Kline and Bell are going to come along as well.

The bunnies have to keep an eye on the dungeon, and Sofia has her students, but Katie will be coming with us as well as Moss. I am a little worried about his fighting ability, but even with his age he has been training in Shima with us long enough that he can at least stick to the back and cause some trouble with his magic.

With all hands on deck we gather in the ballroom making sure everyone is prepared. Since Scylla is staying behind and is going to be watching Rory, Roxy decides to leave Wolfric with her as well to, so she can join us.

Belinda and I give Rory a hug and a kiss, while Roxy and Zoey do the same for Wolfric, and Ceres pats me on the shoulder telling me she will help Scylla keep an eye on things. We only have a few hours to a day at most to get this done, but for some reason it feels like we are in for more than when I went to help Inari, so I am a little nervous.

We then all start casting [Gate] while splitting up to gather our reinforcements, Belinda is going to Maeve’s dungeon to gather Maeve, Dawn, and Twilight, while I go to Inari’s dungeon to get her. My other boss monsters except Azami go to collect other members of our group that are going to join us, while Azami takes everyone else here to a staging area.

When I arrive at Inari’s dungeon I am met not only by Inari and her monsters, but Kenta and some of his as well. Among Inari’s group there is Inari, Takeshi, Satoshi, Saki, Chika, Rin, Akihiro, and several other fox beastkin that I have not met before. Even though she is technically part of Inari’s dungeon Akane is with Kenta along with several of what I assume are his boss monsters, most of which don’t appear sentient, but as long as they follow him it should be alright.

Inari quickly gives me a hug and introduces me to her new monsters.

Inari: “I am glad I am able to return the favor of helping you this time, and of course you know everyone else, so let me introduce you to the newest additions to our family.”

She has only had a few months so I don’t know how strong these new fox beastkin are, but weapons and armor is something she is in no short supply of, and each of them are decked out in that crimson hihi’irokane stuff that is equal to mythril.

The first of which is Yuuta, a young fox beastkin man that she introduces as one of her new boss monsters. His face reminds me a lot of what Yuji looked like, but not only is his ears and tail silver in color but his hair as well. His build is also quite different then Yuji’s was and it is closer to that of Satoshi or Takeshi’s.

Next is a young fox beastkin woman named Tsubaki. She too is introduced as one of Inari’s boss monsters, and although she has silver fur on her ears and tail, her hair is pinkish color that would match Ceres’s hair color. Her build is quite delicate like that of Saki, and by her equipment she too is clearly some kind of a mage.

Then there is Ryuu, he isn’t a boss monster, but he is definitely built like a monster. Takeshi is a bit more buff then Satoshi, but neither one of them holds a candle to Ryuu, and even though he is much shorter I would think he would even be comparable to Madam Erin. He may be a fox rather than a wolf, but I would say that even his appearance is close to that of Madam Erin’s as well, although I have to admit it looks far more natural on a male then it does for Madam Erin.

Hana is a female fox beastkin that looks to be a decked out in the heaviest armor in Inari’s collection making it hard to determine she is even a woman, if it wasn’t her being introduced as such. Her ears are completely enclosed in a helmet, but her tail is very light tan color that is almost blonde, and I can’t be for certain but I think her hair is the same color.

There is also the first male fox beastkin in Inari’s group to be a mage, and his name is Kazuki. His hair is black even though his ears and tail are red with white tips, and his build is quite muscular for a mage, but I am pretty sure it was by design because Inari puts a lot of effort towards the men she summons to be muscular.

The last of the new monsters that Inari introduces is a fox beastkin woman named Megumi. Yuuta’s face bore a lot of resemblance to Yuji, but the rest of him did not, and Megumi seems the opposite. There are obvious differences with Megumi being a female, but she would easily pass as a female Yuji. The fur on her ears and tail are not silver like Yuji’s was, but a duller grey color, but her hair is jet black like his was. She even seems to have the same class as Yuji did, and if it isn’t his equipment she is using it is awfully close.

There is still a lot that needs to be done, and not a lot of time to do it in, so after the quick introductions I cast [Gate] again, to join the others at the staging area. By the time we arrive at the staging area it is already bustling with quite an unusual group.

Several of my groups that acquire xp for my dungeon have been recalled for this task, so there are quite a few humans and beastkins. Bella has already arrived as well bringing with her a small horde of amphibian like demi-humans.

Ithros and his dragon Teku have made it as well, and they are talking to Emery who brought along 3 dragons of his own. Emery’s dragons are all smaller then Teku, but are still far larger than the earth dragon I use in my dungeon.

Between my daughters, and Kenta we have higher quantity of younger cores then older experienced ones. Queen only adds to that number as she has seemed to arrive with a few beastkin of her own, but the part that surprised me, is she brought along Logan as well. Belinda doesn’t seem too happy about Logan being here, and she seems to be in a heated discussion with them.

The few other dungeon cores that are here are much older than me but power wise they we are about the same level. I wish we could have brought more dungeon cores along, but I wanted to make sure we didn’t tip the traitors off to what we were doing, so I only invited the ones I was sure that they were strong enough to hold their own, and not part of the traitors.

I need to handle the situation with Belinda and her brother, but first I make my way to the others thanking them for coming, and handing them each a ring that I prepared for them. We might not get much use out of them today, but until Ceres and I make it to their dungeons to help boost them up the rings should at least help them some.

Each ring was custom made just like the ones for the dungeon cores Ceres and I have been helping, so it takes a little bit more time then I wanted to spend on handing them out and explaining how the rings work.

I still haven’t gotten to Belinda yet, but I receive the message from Madam Erin that the target dungeon core has arrived at the neutral zone, so we need to get a move on. When I do finally approach Belinda, Queen, and Logan, it seems Inari, Maeve, Dawn, and Twilight have managed to calm Belinda down, but she still doesn’t look happy about Logan being here.

Belinda: “Two-Twelve! You tell them, it is not a good idea for Queen to bring Logan along with us!”

Logan: “Here we go again…”

“I think I understand why you are upset about it, but the truth is Logan is a pretty decent adventurer, and we could use his help. Not to mention the fact as long as Queen is with him she will have to do everything in her power to keep him safe because of our agreement.”

Queen: “Exactly.”

Belinda: “But he has too many responsibilities to risk his life for this!”

Logan: “What about you?! If something happened to you, my niece would lose her mother, and if I sit by and did nothing, while something like that happened. I would never forgive myself!”

“Belinda, I am sorry. Maybe if we had more time I would listen to it from both sides, but we just don’t… Madam Erin said our target has arrived at the neutral zone so we need to get started.”

Belinda: “If something happens to Logan, how would I ever tell father?”

Logan: “I’m a big boy, and you can tell him the truth, that I died protecting my family!”

“I’m sorry Belinda, but we have to get started.”

Belinda is still upset but she nods so I then turn and get everyone’s attention.

“Thank you all for coming, I have already given everyone the rundown of what we are going to do here today, but just to make sure everyone is clear that we are here to stop one of the traitors, and if we can’t prove Barry is one of them we need to do the least amount of damage as possible. The information that Megan brought to us is pretty straight forward, and enough that the Elders are also investigating Barry, but just in case we made a mistake somewhere, I want you all to remember to not to destroy the crystal until we find out for sure. Now we choose this site because it is close to Barry’s dungeon while still out of sight from it or the nearby village, but once we start moving that can quickly change, so we need to make our way to the dungeon quickly before the nearby human village even knows we are here. Everyone knows what we have to do, so let’s get to it!”

Everyone then starts getting their monsters together, and we all quickly set out heading for Barry’s dungeon.

 

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