Everyone has been on edge for the last 12 or so hours, not only has Madam Erin been franticly trying to find Two-Twelve, but the sudden string in dungeon core deaths have exceeded 25 in the time since Two-Twelve’s loss of communication.
All hands are on deck with the Elders as they try to track just where Two-Twelve disappeared to, but they have had their hands full. Last everyone had heard, Two-Twelve was in Dungeon Core #764 Barry’s dungeon, but of course Dyson and Madam Erin have both thoroughly searched every inch of it since he and the other cores disappeared, but they haven’t found a single trace of any of them.
The Elders have even been so desperate they have asked me to assist them, but I promised Two-Twelve I would keep Tobes and his dungeon safe in his absence, and with a dungeon cores dying less than 30 minutes apart, I don’t dare leave or risk breaking that promise.
Even though 3 of the dungeon cores that have died so far are from our group, none of them are the ones that disappeared along with Two-Twelve. Unfortunately the way those items the traitors use work, that doesn’t mean none of them have died as well, it just means we don’t know about it yet.
I know Two-Twelve and his daughters are at least still alive, because I have been keeping in constant contact with my people that I have sent to each of their dungeons, but I don’t know the status of the rest of them.
Not that they needed me to tell them, but I told Two-Twelve’s bunnies to not let their guards down for even a second. I am not too worried about my own dungeon, but I am worried that if one of the traitors that are strong enough to cause problems to the Elders, attack here, I don’t know how I will fare now that I am a dungeon core.
It hasn’t started snowing, but the weather seems to be acknowledging the situation we are currently facing as it is cold and dreary. The townsfolk of Tobes are rather oblivious as they smile and laugh quickly making their way through the streets on this cold morning.
The college is also quite busy, and I am surely going to need to create some more buildings soon as even winter hasn’t slowed the influx of new students, young and old alike, arriving daily, but of course all that is going to have to wait till Two-Twelve has returned safely.
I curse under my breath as I step into the Adventurer’s Guild, as I have to tell Scylla that even though the night has past there is no new information about the disappearance of her Master, or husband.
Once I walk through the door Listel runs up to me raising her arms for me to pick her up, so I do so, and her mother starts to get out of her chair looking at me with pleading eyes, but I only hug the little squirrel beastkin girl and shake my head.
Scylla collapses back into her chair with a heavy expression, I move over and sit down on one of the couches setting Listel back on the floor to go play, and the other two children crawl over and begin climbing my legs.
I pick both of them up placing them on either side of me while giving them hugs as well. “Don’t worry little ones. Everyone is doing their very best to make sure all of your parents make it home soon…”
Scylla: “Have they found anything?”
I can do nothing but shake my head. “I’m sorry, but they have to be relatively close to Barry’s dungeon, because I doubt they could have misled Two-Twelve into arriving too far away from Barry’s dungeon without him realizing it.”
Scylla: “Are they positive it isn’t Barry that is responsible?”
“I think that is the only thing they are sure of right now… They had already started raising suspicions about Megan, the one that gave them the information about Barry, before they lost communication, but with how they got cut off right at the point in which Barry was set free, I am not sure if Two-Twelve will stay suspicious of Megan, or double down on thinking Barry is responsible.”
Scylla: “What about Megan’s dungeon, surely the Elders would have searched it as well?”
“It’s completely gone… From what the locals said, Megan’s dungeon was destroyed over a month ago, so whoever the Megan is that is with Two-Twelve now, it isn’t her.”
Scylla: “Surely with Dyson’s [Observation] ability they should be able to find them!”
“Dyson has been scouring every Adra core all night, but if they are in a secondary dungeon that he doesn’t know about, or in the unlikely event that they are not even in Adra anymore, the chances of finding them that way is slim.”
Scylla: “Now I fully understand what Belinda must have felt like with Master was kidnapped… Now, it is even worse because it is all of them, and not just Master…”
“Everything that can be done is being done, so I promise you, we will bring them home.”
The traitors don’t look to be slowing down either, as I sit there for a little while playing with the kids while keeping Scylla company and two more dungeon cores have perished within that time. After a while I am bouncing Rory and my knees while making her laugh when Lilah appears in the room.
Lilah: “Master told Lilah that if anything went wrong that Lilah should ask Ceres for help, so please help!”
I quickly set Rory down and jump to my feet. “Is Two-Twelve’s dungeon in danger?!”
Lilah: “Lilah isn’t sure it will come to that or not, but they are not targeting the monsters as much as they the adventurers in the dungeon, and Ceres should know how much trouble that would cause if all the adventurers were to die in Master’s dungeon at once.”
“You’re right. I anticipated them attacking the dungeon, but not the adventurers! This could get ugly fast. Quick transfer me to the group of adventurers that are nearest to the enemy!”
Lilah: “But it’s…”
Lilah transfers me into Two-Twelve’s dungeon, and I quickly look around. I am much deeper in the dungeon then I anticipated, and find myself staring down a familiar group that just finished up a group of monsters in the room and are currently harvesting reagents from the corpses. It is Tanya, Exavier, Sandra, and one more adventurer that I do not recognize.
“What are you doing here?!”
Tanya: “I can say the same about you, how did you even get here?”
“There is no time! We have to get you out of here!”
Adventurer: “I don’t know who you think you are, but we were here first, this is our hunting grounds!”
A voice from behind me then speaks. “Oh this is a surprise, no wonder they couldn’t find you at the university, but hiding in this puny dungeon isn’t going to do you much good.”
I quickly turn to see a canine beastkin man wearing a full-plate armor that could easily be described as being inferior to none, other than Dyson’s armor. I don’t know who this person is but I one thing is overly clear to me. He is a dungeon core.
“Leave this place now, and I will let you live!”
The beastkin man then laughs. “No one told me you had a sense of humor. How about instead you leave and I will give you 30 minutes to prepare your own dungeon until I come for it as well.”
Tanya: “What is he talking about?!”
“It doesn’t matter we have to get you out of here!”
Adventurer 1: “I already told you we were here first!”
The adventurer with Tanya’s group then tries to draw his weapon, but before he even gets the blade unsheathed the beastkin man rushes past me so quickly that the pressure of his movement alone causes me to have to brace myself to keep me from falling backwards.
The others aren’t as lucky as most of them are flung across the room, the only one that doesn’t move is the one that was attempting to draw his weapon, but he instead is gone, and in his place is the beastkin man surrounded in a cloud of red mist.
Tanya: “Who the hell is this guy?!” –She says trying to pull herself back to her feet.-
But the beastkin man completely ignores Tanya, and turns back to me and says. “Oh, you didn’t even fall over? Well it doesn’t matter. You should have run while you had the chance.”
“Tanya, you have to trust me. I am going to get you and your group out of here, but you have stay out of this!”
Beastkin Man: “No weapon, no armor, not even a year at the game yet, and you think you have a chance against me?”
“If you know who I am, then you surely know what I was before, so are you sure you want to do this?”
Beastkin Man: “It’s a shame you lost all of your power, I would have liked to have taken it all, but no matter I will take what you got left.”
He is right, I am not as I once was, and I haven’t even tried to fight since becoming a dungeon core, but promised Two-Twelve, and I can’t let him down.
“Lilah! I will take full responsibility, transfer Tanya and her group out of here! All of you listen, you are going to feel the pull of teleportation magic, let it take you or I won’t be able to save you!”
Tanya: “What does Lilah have to do with this…? I don’t understand.”
“Just trust me! Lilah now!”
Tanya and her group then disappear.
Beastkin Man: “Instead of worrying about their lives, you should be more worried about your own.”
“What is it you are planning?”
Beastkin Man: “You think just because I am going to kill you I would lay out our plans, just like that? No, those rabbits of Two-Twelve’s listening in would spoil the surprise, unfortunately you will have to just die without having any answers.”
I might not be strong enough to beat him myself, but if I can use his own attack against him I might stand a chance, so as he rushes across the room in less than a blink of an eye, I have little time to react to use his own momentum against him. Without any room for error I manage to grab and flip him, sending him crashing into the wall hard enough that I am quite certain if it wasn’t a dungeon wall he would have gone through the stone wall.
Beastkin Man: “Bitch!” –He says pulling himself back to his feet.- “But if you think something like that is enough to save your life you are sorely mistaken.”
He charges again, but as I try to grab him he completely disappears, so I quickly dive to the side as a large blade comes crashing down from behind me hitting the floor with ear shattering sound.
Beastkin Man: “This is bullshit! They said you lost your powers when he made you a dungeon core. How can you possibly gotten this strong in under a year?”
“That’s what you get working with people too scared to come out of the shadows. They lie. They never expected anything out of you, or why else would they send you here, and order you not to kill Two-Twelve, while all the other dungeons are being killed on the spot?”
Beastkin Man: “How do you…? No, he hates Two-Twelve, he sent me here to make Two-Twelve suffer before killing him!”
“Wake up, they used you and threw you away when they no longer had any use for you!”
Beastkin Man: “You lie!”
After the beastkin man screams he charges again trying to hit me with the massive sword he tried to hit me with moments before, mid-arc however he disappears from my sight again leaving the sword to careen though the air of its own accord, so I dive out of the way again barely avoiding a massive axe that came crashing down from directly behind me.
This time however by the time the time the axe crashes into the ground, the beastkin man is no longer holding onto it either. Instead he stands right in the path in which I dove. As the massive sword finally crashes into the wall the beastkin man brings his heavily armored leg around kicking me, and sending me into the opposite wall.
Something like that wouldn’t have even registered to me before, but pain rushes through my body so intense that I am having trouble pulling myself off the floor. The beastkin man quickly appears next to me and shoves a smaller blade into my shoulder while stepping on my other shoulder.
Beastkin Man: “Lucky, that is all you were, but let me see you get out of this one.”
The pain from the kick and the wall was bad enough that the pain of the sword entering my shoulder is barely even noticeable, and the weight of his foot on my other shoulder might be keeping me from getting up, but it isn’t preventing me from moving my arm.
A short, light spear forms in my hand, and from this position I am able to wedge it between the lower and upper sections of his armor, shoving the spear into his lower back. His reaction time is however far too high and he disappears and reappears twenty feet away before suffering any major damage.
He is off me now at least, so I pull myself to my feet while pulling the sword from my shoulder, he likewise pulls the small spear from his lower back and we both drop each other’s weapons to the ground.
Beastkin Man: “Struggle all you want, but something like that is not going to save you.”
“I could say the same to you.”
The beastkin man laughs a loud and prideful laugh. “I haven’t even begun yet, and yet you already have one foot in the grave!”
“We will see about that!” –I say while using magic to bring forth 4 celestial wolves as they leaps at the beastkin man all at the same time.-
The wolves are each the size of a dire wolf, but their fur is so golden it looks to be giving off its own light, the beastkin man manages to disappear before the wolves reach him, and before the wolves collide into each other they shift their bodies to push off from one another landing gracefully on the ground.
As soon as their feet hit the ground they are already charging towards the location in which the beastkin man reappeared. While the wolves keep the beastkin man occupied I cast a healing spell over myself. I manage to close the wound on my shoulder, and recover most of the internal injuries I sustained in the kick, but I am still in quite a bit of pain when I hear the whelp of the first wolf that takes a small hand-axe to its neck.
Instead of collapsing and dying the wolf simply poofs out of existence as the other three spread out filling in the gap. The beastkin man continues to wield his small hand-axe while using a large shield to bash and keep the wolves at bay.
I am not completely healed yet, but all of his attention is on the wolves, so I form a long winged spear in my hand and I throw it at the beastkin. He of course manages to deflect the spear, but I expected as much, it does distract him enough for one of the wolves to get past the shield and grab ahold of his shield arm.
I also take the opportunity to close in forming a small curved blade in each hand. With the wolf holding on to the beastkin man’s shield arm it makes the shield unusable, but it also leave the wolf wide open as well.
The beastkin man brings his hand-axe around burying it in the skull of the wolf holding his arm. The wolf fades from existence like the other, but not before I have reached the battle and us a dual dagger technique.
My two curved blades spark and ping against the beastkin man’s armor no less than twenty times, before the technique is exhausted and the curved blades shatter under the strain. The beastkin man shakes the shield off of his arm letting it fall to the floor while another small hand-axe forms in his hand.
Hardly defenseless, but at least without a shield now the wolves try to tear into the beastkin man, but he completely ignores them turning his attention to me. I quickly form a large tower shield just in time to stop a blow from the beastkin man’s hand-axe.
The beastkin man waylays into the shield with both hand-axes, each blow pushing me across the floor and denting the shield even further, no longer being able to completely ignore the wolves he quits his onslaught against the shield just long enough to plant each hand-axe into the head of the remaining wolves.
I bash him with the tower shield before tossing it to the side, I thrust my hands forward again, this time a spear forms in my hands, the tip in which only completely takes shape inches before I wedge it between one of the shoulder joints of his armor.
A mace appears in the beastkin man’s hand as he brings it down shattering and splintering the shaft of the spear, in his other hand a dagger quickly appears and he tries slashing at me with it. I jump back in time to dodge the swipe of the dagger, I then dive in using a hand to hand, flurry of blows technique.
The first fist fall to come into contact with the beastkin man’s armor is flesh on metal, but by the second punch my fists are covered in a heavy leather glove with metal across the knuckles, and by the third punch spike like protrusions form over the metal knuckles which manages to even start denting the beastkin man’s armor with each consecutive hit.
It was only a second at best, but I managed to get in at least six good blows before I have to give up on the technique to dodge out of the way as he brings his mace around to hit me. The mace blow misses me, but he then throws the dagger which I don’t manage to dodge and I catch it right in the gut.
I quickly pull the dagger from my stomach with one hand, and begin casting a healing spell while a hooked sword takes shape in the other and I try to pull the beastkin man’s legs out from underneath him.
Beastkin Man: “Damnit woman! How many weapons do you have?!” –He says while gripping the mace with both hands and bringing it down against the hooked sword.-
Instead of fighting against the mace I just release the hooked sword and take another quick jump backwards as I aim and fire a crossbow bolt at the beastkin man before the crossbow even finishes forming in my hand.
The bolt is enough to pierce the beastkin man’s armor and it hits him square in the chest, and the actual damage is minimal, but it is enough for him to call out. “Enough!” He then throws the mace to the floor, but he seems far from have given up.
Beastkin Man: “[Bleeding Chains]!”
As the beastkin man calls out I feel sudden rush of pain through my wrists and ankles as they are suddenly pierced clean through by spike like implements that are attached to chains that are snaking out of the stone floor.
If the pain the spikes inflicted wasn’t bad enough, they quickly pull tight slamming me into the floor causing my head to hit the stone floor and causing everything to muddle.
Beastkin Man: “I have had just about enough of you…” –He says while walking over to the sword he stabbed me in the shoulder with and picks it up off the floor-
My pain is intense, but even with my ears ringing and my vision foggy, I know it is only going to get worse if I don’t free myself from here. I quickly try to pull my wrists from the spikes, but the ends of the spikes have flared after going through my arms making it impossible to pull my arms off of them.
The beastkin man then appears at my side with the sword in his hand, he then shoves the blade back into my shoulder in same position he had it before while saying. “There that’s better. I didn’t give you that wound for you to mend it! Now, let’s see. You had three, no four cracked ribs last time?” He then kicks me in the side with excruciating pain.
Beastkin Man: “Well they are all on the same side this time, but I guess that doesn’t matter, now where is that dagger?”
I feel a sudden pull on my chest in what I assume can only be Lilah trying to transfer me, but even as I try to let it happen I am still pinned to the floor.
Beastkin Man: “Now, now, that won’t work once my chains have gotten ahold of you, I told you to run while you had the chance.” –He says while shoving the dagger back into my stomach right back in the partially healed hole in which I pulled it from.- “Now that we have that taken care of, let’s see how many new wounds we can give you before you give it up.”
“If you are going to kill me just get it over with!”
Beastkin Man: “I guess you are right, I do have other matters to attend to, don’t I? It seems a bit of a shame though. –He says picking up the large axe from the floor.-
A voice then speaks from the other side of the room, and between being pinned to the floor and my muddled vision I can’t see who it is, but the voice is one I haven’t heard in a very long time…
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
The beastkin man quickly turns to look at the one speaking, and he then says. “And what the hell are you supposed to be.”
“Your death, if you don’t release that young woman there.”
Beastkin Man: “This dungeon is full of jokers isn’t it? Alright, you first then!”
I don’t even twitch a muscle as the beastkin man rushes across the room, as he tries to bring the large two-handed axe down on my head, but the blade stops inches away from it.
“Is that it?”
The beastkin man franticly swings the axe several more time in wide arcs trying to hit me, but the blade always stops inches before it makes contact. I finally just deep sigh and say. “You know I was just trying to catch a bit of sleep until you came around making a bunch of racket.”
I cock my head to look up at the axe’s blade that just came to a stop a few inches from my forehead. I then blow out a small bit of air in the direction of the axe causing the blade to rust in an instant and crumble into dust.
Beastkin Man: “Just what the hell are you?!”
“Just a tired old man, that doesn’t like it when his sleep gets interrupted.”
The beastkin man doesn’t seem to know what to do now, but he was sent here only to cause havoc in the dungeon, so he must feel there is no reason dying for a simple mission like that so he tries to flee with a teleportation spell.
However light forms around his ankle that is attached to a string of light that disappears into the floor causing him to crash to the floor rather than teleporting anywhere.
Beastkin Man: “How did you do that?!”
“When you have lived as long as I have, things like that just come naturally, now I believe I asked you to release the young woman.”
Beastkin Man: “If I do, you will release me?”
“Now, I am sure you are not naive enough to believe that, but releasing her will save a bit of effort on my part, and I do hate having to put forth any effort…”
Beastkin Man: “What kind of monster are you…?”
“I resent that remark, I was born long before any monsters had even dreamed of being conceived, I am the great sphinx Akil! And you have begun to bore me, so it is time for you to go.”
I then open my mouth and release a roar that shakes the walls of the dungeon, it causes the beastkin man to cover his ears and begin screaming, but Ceres who is just dozen or so feet away is unaffected. The beastkin man continues to scream until the roar stops and when it does a dried up husk falls and the armor clinks on the floor as it does.
I step towards Ceres and stare sternly at the chains pinning her to the floor, which then smartly choose to fade back into nothingness instead of having me get rough on them. After I gently blow on the dagger and sword piercing Ceres’s body, they age away into nothingness before I heal her. Once she is completely healed, she sits up, but instead of gratitude all she shows me is confusion.
Ceres: “What are you doing here?!”
“That’s a fine welcoming after such a long time… Now that man didn’t intend to damage the dungeon, at least not directly, so my promise to you was upheld, but then again you are a dungeon core yourself now, so I guess in saving you I did break my promise after all.”
Ceres: “That still doesn’t tell me why you are here.”
“That boy of yours is quite interesting, and you know me, so I thought why not hide out here, and keep an eye on the boy at the same time.”
Ceres: “You have been living in Two-Twelve’s dungeon? Does he know?”
“You should know him well enough to know nothing goes on in his dungeon without him knowing about it, I can feel them constantly watching me and judging me while I sleep. I miss the times when an ancient being such as myself could move into a cave or basement somewhere and be worshipped like one of you guys, instead of being treated like some dungeon monster.”
Ceres: “How long have you been hiding in here?”
“Not nearly enough time to even take a decent nap…”
Ceres: “You slept through 500 years of turmoil, and still claimed you didn’t get enough sleep when we woke you up!”
“I think you are just upset that little boy of yours didn’t tell you about me, or should I say your “big brother”?”
Ceres: “Well truth be told, regardless of the circumstances I am actually quite happy to see you.”
“This is the second time I have saved your life, and this time it was even while you are a dungeon core and I promised not to interfere with dungeon cores. I think I have done more than my fair share, and should be allowed to take a nice long nap now…”
Ceres: “The others of my kind are returning and causing havoc left and right, the dungeon cores are manipulating the one that is supposed to keep them in check, and I am without my powers… I could really use your help…”
“It was really a good thing you planned ahead and made that boy, wasn’t it?
Ceres: “Maybe in a couple hundred years, he would be ready, but we just don’t have that kind of time!”
“You underestimate him, he already saved your life once, give him a chance he might surprise you. Beside as his “little sister” you can be right there by his side and make sure of it.”
Ceres: “With what just happened, that should prove to you that my being here as a dungeon core, isn’t enough.”
“Well I think I pulled a muscle with that roar, so give me some time to rest up… I’d say by the time you two deal with those rogue dungeon cores, which should be plenty of time for me to rest up and point you in the direction of what comes next.”
Ceres: “But this is what we need help with!”
“Sorry I promised a young a beautiful goddess that I wouldn’t meddle in the affairs of dungeon cores.”
Ceres: “You were eating them, and letting their dungeons collapse around you so that your mate couldn’t find you!”
“And if she finds me here, you really won’t get my help! Now, I need to rest now. Little bunny! I am ready to go back to my room!”
Ceres: “Wait, Lilah! Don’t send him back yet!”
“If you don’t, you have to explain to your dear Master why the xp he acquired from me is gone, because I had to find a quieter place to sleep!”
Ceres: “Lilah, wait!”
I feel the pull of the magic flowing through me so I smile to Ceres and wave one of my big paws at her before returning to my room.
I thank the little bunny girl as I curl up in my room, but after a big yawn I say. “And don’t worry about your Master, I promise you he will return soon.” I then cover my head with my wings and go to sleep.