Chapter 182: Zelios

 

I am not sure how I got into this situation, last I recall we were training in the dungeon when Ceres appeared out of nowhere claiming we were in danger, and next thing I knew the adventurer we brought with us today was dead.

I am not even sure how it happened, but a beastkin man entered the room after Ceres and he killed the adventurer faster than we could see. I honestly can’t even be sure the adventurer is dead because it happened so fast.

All I can be for certain is that after Ceres called out to one of those rabbit beastkin that are often around my sister’s house, and Exavier, Sandra, and I all got teleported back to just outside of the dungeon entrance.

“How did we get here?”

Exavier: “It had to be Ceres right?”

“I’m not so sure, she kept calling out to Lilah of all people, like she was the one that was supposed to teleport us.”

Exavier: “I know several of your sister’s associates can teleport, but I wasn’t aware that any of the rabbit beastkin could.”

“I don’t know, but I am worried about Ceres, do you think she is ok? That beastkin man was out for blood…”

Sandra: “She is the leader of the Mage’s Guild. When I go there to study, they talk about her like she is some kind of a god…”

“She is still a mage though, and that beastkin man seemed to be the up-close and personal type. Someone with that speed would be the worst possible enemy for a mage.”

Exavier: “But what can we do? He killed that adventurer we took with us, before we even saw what had happened… I don’t even remember his name.”

Sandra: “Maurice… His name was Maurice.”

“That beastkin man said something about Ceres losing her power. Maybe we should go back and make sure she is ok…”

Sandra: “I don’t think that is a good idea. Even if she doesn’t make it, she died trying to help us escape, so returning now would just be a waste. Besides it would take us hours to return to that section of the dungeon.”

Exavier: “She is right. The best thing we can do now is head down to the Adventurer’s Guild and tell them what happened.”

I reluctantly agree with them and we quickly try to head down the mountain to warn the Adventurer’s Guild. By the time we arrive however the guild seems to be in an uproar already, and we find Ceres speaking to the Mayor.

“How did she…?”

Sandra: “What does that matter? She is alive!” –She runs across the building towards Ceres.- “Ceres!”

Ceres and the Mayor both look quite worried, but Ceres quickly puts on a smile to greet Sandra. Exavier and I make our way that way as well, in hopes to get some answers as to just what is going on…

Ceres: “I am glad you all made it out of there, but what about the one that was with you? Were you close?”

Sandra: “No, this was the first time we took him along with us, but we have never lost anyone in our group before.”

Ceres: “By reaching the level you all are without suffering a loss of a party member is quite rare, but I am not going to give you some story about it getting easier, because that just isn’t the case. What little comfort I can offer you though is that the one responsible has perished as well.”

“What exactly happened in there?”

Ceres: “Maybe we should speak about this in Scylla’s office.”

We agree and are then led into the office where we take a seat. There are several people in the office already including several children including my sister’s daughter. The Mayor asks the others to leave, and has my sister’s maid take the children out as well leaving only Exavier, Sandra, Ceres, Mayor Scylla, and myself remaining.

“So, what exactly happened up there in the dungeon?”

Ceres: “We are still piecing it together, but it seems that beastkin man had intentions of entering the dungeon to not kill monsters, but adventurers.”

Scylla: “We believe it was an effort to either anger the people of Gowen, or even the dungeon itself. You have seen how much of an effect the dungeon has had on Gowen, so it stands to reason there are those out there that would wish for that symbiotic relationship to end.”

“It may be a dungeon, but that could be considered an act of war.”

Ceres: “I don’t think they expected their presence to be known, making it to look like the dungeon was responsible. Besides even after getting caught, we still don’t know who was behind it.”

“What about the adventurer’s ID? You should be able to find out his affiliation though where the ID was registered.”

Ceres: “Unfortunately he had no such identification.”

“So, what happens next?”

Scylla: “There isn’t much we can do, we won’t know for sure how much damage has been done till the adventurer groups start returning this evening, but we are estimating between the mages and normal adventurers he killed 7 full groups before Ceres was able to stop him.”

Sandra: “That’s horrible!”

Ceres: “It would have been far worse if he went through the elemental wings, the demi-human village, or even the soldier’s training ground, I am sure. I actually consider us quite lucky that the damage was as little as it was.”

“What about my sister, and her husband, I thought they were supposed to be back by now. Don’t they usually deal with situations like this?”

Ceres: “They ran into a bit of a problem, and it may take them a few more days then they expected.”

“We have been training here in Tobes for almost a year now, and I now see how much effort my sister has put into Tobes and the dungeon. It would be devastating to my sister, if something happened to the dungeon while they were gone!”

Scylla: “More then you even know, but my husband is with them as well, and last I heard so was your oldest brother, so I can assure you they will return as soon as physically possible for them to do so.”

Ceres: “Besides, they left things in good hands, and after dealing with that man earlier I can assure you the dungeon won’t be a problem.”

“What about how you got us out of the dungeon? You mentioned that rabbit girl of Two-Twelve’s like she was the one that was supposed to take care of it, but it worked differently than the magic spell Two-Twelve and my sister uses. I admit those rabbit beastkin are quite peculiar, but I also know when I asked Belinda about it in the past she said they weren’t capable of using the teleportation magic.”

Ceres: “I will tell you all I can, but only after I am able to speak with your sister. There are a few sensitive matters concerning the dungeon that I obviously can’t say without permission from the royal family of Gowen.”

“But I am a member of the royal family!”

Ceres: “Even before becoming the princess of Exeter though your marriage, you claimed your Duscae heritage over your Gowen one, so you can understand why there are some things you can’t be told.”

“You make it sound like my sister sold her soul to the dungeon or something…”

Exavier: “Would that be so strange…? Not the sold her soul part, but the Gowen kingdom working with the dungeon. I admit there are many things I don’t even know about Exeter, but there have always been hushed rumors of Kingdoms making deals with dungeons. When you consider how much Sofia’s training teaches students to respect the dungeon and treat it like a living being. It doesn’t seem that farfetched.”

“That is ridiculous, even if the dungeon was a living being it would be like a beast or an animal. Even the gnomes that claim to speak for the dungeon claim that it can’t speak directly.”

Sandra: “I know it is possible because I…!” –She says quickly but hangs her head then continues.- “I mean it just seems to make a lot of sense to me…”

Ceres: “I think you are misunderstanding the situation, but that is fine, because as representatives of Exeter you have a responsibility to protect Gowen interests.”

Sandra: “I am not part of Exeter or Gowen, but I think under the situation we find ourselves in I owe it to somebody that I trust to not say anything…”

“This mysterious boyfriend of yours keeps getting more and more interesting.”

Sandra: “He’s not my boyfriend!” –She says while blushing.- “

“Then the mysterious benefactor who is not your boyfriend, that still gave you equipment fit for a princess, and the funds to travel half-way across the world to become an adventurer. Who must have only been as generous as he was handsome, because you turn down the advances of every man that takes an interest in you because they and I quote: “Don’t stack up” to this mystery man of yours.”

Sandra: “It isn’t like that! I wasn’t even with him for more than a day!”

“You must have made some impression on him then.”

Exavier: “Is this really what we should be worried about right now…?”

“Well it seems Ceres and the Mayor are going to remain tight lipped on anything else regarding the dungeon, so getting this little glimpse into this mystery man of Sandra’s seems like it is not necessarily a fair trade off, but at least it is something.”

There is then firm knocks on the Mayor’s door and she says. “I am sorry we couldn’t tell you more, and I am glad that at least you three made it out ok, but I am afraid there are matters concerning Tobes we must get back to.”

“Just when we were getting to the good part, anyway, whatever happened up there in the dungeon thank you Ceres for helping us get out of there alive.”

We get up and start to leave the room when the knocks hit the door with a bit more urgency this time, so we quicken our pace, but once we open the door Sandra yelps with a surprised expression as her face turns scarlet.

A man dressed in armor of pure darkness enters the room followed by two winged beauties that quickly latch onto his arms as soon as they follow him through the door. One of which wearing armor only as magnificent as it is revealing, while the other wears an armor this is quite familiar looking…

Although I have not seen the women before, the man I have, and between what I know of this man and Sandra’s expression everything seems to click into place all at once, as the man’s eyes lock onto Sandra.

Sandra: “It’s you…” –She says meekly.-

Dyson: “It has been a while. I trust they are taking good care of you here in Tobes?”

Sandra: “Very much so, if fact they just saved us from the dungeon earlier.” –She says as her eyes start to wander to the two women accompanying Dyson.-

Dyson: “I see, you must have gotten yourself caught up in quite a mess, but under the circumstances if you did get caught in the middle of what I think went down, and lived to tell the tale, than I believe are being well taken care of. Forgive me for cutting this short, but regarding that matter I have questions for the Mayor of Tobes and Ceres.”

Sandra: “I understand… Will you have time to speak with me afterwards?”

Dyson: “I doubt I will have the time. Besides I believe it is for the best if we leave matters here.”

Sandra’s lip quivers a bit as she bites it, but instead of saying anything else she just nods her head and walks from the room. Exavier however seems quite awestricken by Dyson, not that the impression he gives isn’t intimidating, but I quickly learn it is for another matter entirely.

Exavier: “That is the great hero Dyson’s armor?! Then it is true, it truly is made from adamantium?”

Dyson: “That is right, now like I said pressing matters to attend to.”

I apologize on behalf of my husband and end up having to practically pick him up and carry him from the room while he remains in awe. Once he reclaims his voice he starts ranting about the impossibility of the existence of Dyson’s armor, while I meanwhile find Sandra downstairs with tears in her eyes, and a drink in her quivering hand as she sits at one of the tables for the Adventurer’s Guild.

Between what happened up at the dungeon, Exavier’s encounter with Dyson, and Sandra becoming reacquainted with him, it seems like my day is far from over…

 

○○○○○○

 

Dyson: “After receiving the message about the death of a dungeon core by Akil, I came as soon as possible, but as you can understand we Elders have been quite busy.”

Ceres: “You knew of Akil being in Two-Twelve’s dungeon?”

Dyson: “Of course, I was the one that sent him here, and as much as he refused to assist me, it seems he didn’t have the same misgivings about Two-Twelve, but I figured as much. I take it by the conversation when I entered that the situation in the dungeon is taken care of completely?”

Ceres: “He was the only one to attack Two-Twelve’s dungeon, but he spoke of others poking around my dungeon, and although I have seen some suspicious people wandering about, they can’t seem to locate the entrance to my actual dungeon.”

Dyson: “That is a small silver lining at least.”

Ceres: “What is more concerning is the fact that the deaths of dungeon cores were coming almost like clockwork thirty minutes apart, but after Akil was able to stop the one in Two-Twelve’s dungeon, I haven’t seen one since.”

Scylla: “What about Two-Twelve, has there been any new developments?”

Dyson: “Perhaps after losing one of their own they are starting to scale back, and to answer your question, the answer is no, we are still no closer to finding Two-Twelve or those he took with him.”

Ceres: “About that, when I confronted the traitor in Two-Twelve’s dungeon he wasn’t trying to destroy the dungeon as much as he was trying to just cause trouble between Two-Twelve and the humans. He went as far to say that even Two-Twelve’s disappearance isn’t meant to take his life, but is part of some plan to make him suffer.”

Dyson: “But why…? After the dungeon cores they have already killed why are they so interested in making Two-Twelve suffer instead of just killing him like the others.”

Ceres: “Your guess is as good as mine, but now we might be able to use this to our advantage find out who is responsible for the traitors.”

Dyson: “Can’t you use your god mojo to just tell us who is responsible?”

Ceres: “I have already told you and the others, that it doesn’t work that way, my sibling that controls [Menu] has been manipulated in such a way to shield the traitors from my view even before I became a dungeon core, and as for looking into the future. Other than some random glimpses of possible future events, the last definitive thing I saw before my gift was lost to me were the moments right before I became a dungeon core.”

Dyson: “As far as gods and goddesses go, you are doing a piss poor job of it.”

Ceres:  “I already told you that as well. After Two-Twelve made me a dungeon core that is all I am now, and what about you? The self-proclaimed most powerful being on the planet, how are you still coming up short of expectations?”

Angela: “Master, you don’t have to stand for these insults! We already found out what we wanted to know, so there is no reason to belittle yourself by continuing this conversation!”

Desiree: “Stay your tongue Angela, as it stands, you are the one insulting Master, by telling him what to do.”

Angela: “I didn’t…”

Dyson: “That is enough out of both of you. If there is one thing you both inherited from your original Master, it was his stubbornness, and besides I never claimed to be the most power being on the planet. Part of my strength is also knowing my limitations, that claim is just what others have said.”

Ceres: “You have never tried to deny it either.”

Dyson: “It keeps the rift-raft from endlessly challenging me at my doorstep, so it has its uses.”

Ceres: “So, is there any new news regarding the traitors?”

Dyson: “Well if what you said is true, then Two-Twelve should turn up on his own accord pretty soon, but then again their plan in his dungeon seems to have failed them, so he might not be out of the woods yet.”

Ceres: “After the encounter in his dungeon, I am more worried about the other dungeon cores, if he were to lose all them that he took with him, especially the ones he considers his daughters, I don’t think he would ever fully come back from that kind of loss.”

Dyson: “Then you better hope he pulls off another one of his miracles, because as it stands he is on his own…”

 

○○○○○○

 

I am not sure how long I slept, but I awaken with a jolt. I quickly check the screens and see that I couldn’t have fallen asleep for more than a couple of hours. There are a couple more messages about deaths of dungeon cores, but it isn’t any that made it back here.

It seems all the dungeon cores that haven’t made it back to the first floor except Emery, are now gone. I don’t know if that means Zelios will now go after Emery or come back here, but either way I decide to return to the front lines to see how things are going now.

I didn’t get much sleep so I let the others that are still sleeping continue to, but some of the others still haven’t gotten any sleep yet, so should consider myself lucky. As I head over to join the others who are holding back the lizardmen, I notice their numbers have gone down considerably.

Their numbers have reduced enough that even those who are not sleeping are able to take turns on the front line giving some of the others a brief rest to recuperate.

“Ithros, how are things going?”

Ithros: “After the other dungeon cores perished it seems the respawn rate of the lizardmen went down considerably, and now it looks to have stopped completely, Teku and I have been holding on to our magic in case of an emergency, but if you like we could probably wipe up the remaining lizardmen in a couple of minutes.”

“Have there been any more appearances from the named Lizardman?”

Ithros: “No, since he couldn’t get to us, my guess he just settled for the others that were still out in the dungeon somewhere.”

“I hope Emery makes it back alright. If the lizardmen really have quit spawning, I think we should have them wiped out in no time, so I would save your magic just in case.”

Ithros: “Understood, and It is going to take more than a lizardman monarch to cause Emery any trouble, even if it received ranks in the heroic skill for each dungeon core it has killed.”

“What about Megan, have there been any signs of her?”

Ithros: “None at all.”

“I think it is fair to assume she is one of the traitors, but I still don’t understand why she would have saved Queen’s group if their intentions were to kill the dungeon cores from the start.”

Resting has allowed me to recover a fair amount of my magic, so before joining the others in wiping out the lizardmen I decide to use some of it to heal the others, but I make sure to save enough to use my special skill just in case Zelios returns.

After a short while the numbers of lizardmen really are decreasing at an accelerated rate, and the corpses have even begun to quit disappearing causing them to start to stack up. I don’t know what else this dungeon has in store for us, but whatever it is, it seems like it is going to have to happen here pretty soon.

Once only a few dozen lizardmen remain, Zelios appears from within the group charging in a wide arc trying to avoid Ithros and Teku. The hesitation he shown before seems completely gone as he attempts to go after Kenta.

Inari activates her own special skill, growing wings and an extra tail launching herself across the room to knock Zelios away before reaching Kenta. I am a fair amount closer to Kenta then Inari was, but she still arrives first, but even with her special skill active she is having trouble keeping Zelios at bay.

By the time I reach them I know Inari only has seconds left, so I try to talk Zelios down one last time.

“It’s over Zelios, you are not going to claim any more dungeon cores here today!”

Zelios: “Maybe, maybe not, but my Master gave me one final order, and that was to take as many of the dungeon cores as possible before I die!”

“There is no reason for you to die! I can unbind you from your Master!”

Ithros and Teku have just finished taking out the last of the other lizardmen and begin to head this way as Zelios says. “Save your pity for someone worth saving, there is no coming back after all the things I have done for my Master.”

“You were under the effects of ultimate commands, at least let me try to save you.” –I say while using my special skill to try to bind Zelios to my own dungeon. I then call out to Ithros and Teku have already reached Zelios. “Hold on!”

I receive the notification about Zelios becoming one of my monsters and Zelios hesitates for a moment.

Zelios: “It appears there is no saving me after all, there is one thing I can do however.” –He then turns from trying to attack Inari and Kenta to attempt to attack Ithros and Teku instead.-

“Wait!” –I call out, but it is too late as Teku reaches forward chomping down on Zelios.-

Teku quickly spits Zelios out onto the ground but it is already too late. We don’t have time to dwell on it however because we quickly begin to look around as the dungeon begins to shake.

“What is going on?! He wasn’t actually a dungeon core was he…?”

Inari: “Impossible, this is Barry’s dungeon, he said he was sent to us to kill as many as he could, so perhaps while he was attacking us the traitors went after Barry.”

“In any case, how do we get out of here before the dungeon collapses?”

The dungeon itself seems to answer my question, because the wall behind the base camp that leads out of the dungeon then begins to collapse revealing the natural cave like tunnel. The shaking of the dungeon wakes the others that were sleeping, and even though we are this close to the exit and should have plenty of time to leave the dungeon we don’t waste any time exiting it.

Once we exit the cave it is still early enough that the sun hasn’t even begun to rise yet, but even still we can tell something is wrong. The cave we just exited from is not the same one we went in.  Instead of the mountainous Adra region that we should be in we instead exited from a cave in a small hill overlooking a wide plain…

Many of us are confused and looking around while I quickly open the [Map] within the [Archjusticar Menu] and see that it is displaying us hundreds of miles away from the Adra mountain range and we are standing in the plains of Calhoun.

“Impossible, I checked the map multiple times! How did we end up in Calhoun?”

Inari: “We are in Calhoun?”

“That is what my map is saying now, but I never felt any effects of teleportation.”

Ithros: “Regardless we suffered quite a few losses, and we have now escaped, so I believe it is best to get as far away from here as possible for the time being.”

“Emery is still inside, and we can’t just leave him behind.”

Inari: “Are we still under the effects of the traitor’s item? If not perhaps you can use your [Menu] to see if he is still alright.”

I start to open my [Menu] again, but before I am able to navigate to the proper screen, two dragons the size of a bear come barreling out of the cave entrance followed quickly behind is a third dragon with Emery on its back.

Emery quickly jumps off his dragon and says. “Damnit, which one of you found the crystal?!”

“None of us, the dungeon just started to collapse, so I guess that means you weren’t the one responsible for the dungeon either.”

Emery: “I searched every inch of that dungeon, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Just when I gave up and started to leave is when the dungeon started falling apart.” –He says as he begins to look around noticing the same thing we did after exiting the dungeon.- “Where the hell are we?”

“I think for now we should go somewhere a bit safer, and we can then discuss everything that happened. For now I think our best bet is to go to the neutral zone, because I should inform the other Elders what we discovered as well.”

Everyone eventually agrees, but Ithros and Teku do not seem particularly happy when I ask Teku to shapeshift, as there just isn’t enough room for Teku in her true form and everyone else as well. Everyone is making quite a bit of noise but we manage to make it to the neutral zone without problems.

We apparently made enough noise though that our voices carried down the hall because the door to the waiting room flies open and Madam Erin is there with a startled, but relieved expression. We spend the next few hours catching Emery, and the Elders up with what had happened in the dungeon, and the Elders fill us in what has happened outside as well.

When I tell them about Megan’s disappearance they don’t seem surprised, as they tell me about the real Megan’s dungeon being destroyed over a month ago. It seems that the traitors were somehow able to stop the message about Megan’s death from send out to the other dungeon cores allowing the imposter to take her place.

Although Barry is still being closely monitored, they told us that we had apparently never even stepped foot inside of his dungeon, and the reason he was used as a scapegoat is not entirely clear. After discussing it we figure he was just one of the traitors targets and they were just using him, or perhaps it was the simplistic design of his dungeon that he was chosen, because it seems the traitors replicated every single point of his dungeon, so we wouldn’t realize that the dungeon was a fake even with the [Archjusticar Menu].

There is no information on how the traitors were able to get so much information on Barry’s dungeon, and we still can’t figure out how they were able to make a dungeon without a crystal, and were able to lock us inside of it.

We start to send the other dungeon cores back to their own dungeons, and I can’t help but worry about them, but it is not like being here protects their dungeons at all, so there is not really any other reason for them to remain here.

After sending the others home the Elders tell me about the attack on my own dungeon, and I send Belinda and the others home as well to reassure Ceres and the others back home that we are alright. Apparently after the attack on my dungeon the traitors claimed a few more dungeon cores before losing another one of their own, and the attacks then abruptly stopped.

We are not quite sure if it was due to some kind of a time constraint or what their reasoning was, but it seems to coincide with the time in which the lizardmen quit respawning in the dungeon we were trapped in as well.

After figuring up the totals between the dungeon cores I lost, and the ones that died on the outside, it appears the traitors managed to double their dungeon core kill count in less than two days, and as for the two traitors there were killed, we don’t know how valuable they were to their overall plan…

With close to only 550 dungeon cores remaining things are not looking very good. Especially with my group, as our first attempt to hit the traitors back was nothing but a trap that we dove headlong into.

By the time the time morning rolls around we have covered about everything we can, and although we still don’t have a plan of action going forward, everyone is exhausted after 2 days of being on edge, so the Elders agree to regroup after everyone is able to get some rest.

When I arrive home, I can only assume that the sun is already in the sky because a cold dreary winter day conceals it behind thick clouds that have begun to release large snowflakes over Tobes. As tired as I am the weather can’t bring me down as I hold Rory in my arms while I try to catch Ceres up on what happened before  falling asleep on the couch in the living room.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s