After catching up on some much needed sleep, and spending time with Belinda and Rory I checking over things in the dungeon and found that even though Zelios never made it back to my dungeon he did accept my skill, so in addition to multiple new types of Lizardmen, one of which is the Lizardman monarch.
Even though none of the situations we faced in the dungeon went as planned, and Zelios died just after I used my special skill, I did still receive a few justicar points for saving a sentient being from a wicked master. I also got a few more for the destruction of what [Menu] is calling an imitation dungeon.
A dungeon with an imitation crystal is called a secondary dungeon, so I am not exactly sure what an imitation dungeon is, but it looks like the situation with the traitors is getting more and more complicated.
That leaves me with a total of 21 justicar points, so I could create another dungeon core if I wanted, but at this point we might have to end up using these points to stop some of the traitors by binding their crystals, so it might be best to hold on to them for a while.
I tried to speak with Akil and thank him for saving Ceres and my dungeon but he did little but grunt before rolling over to go back to sleep. The gear the dungeon core that attacked my dungeon had on him was a nice addition to the dungeon, but after just upgrading everyone’s armor, it doesn’t help us much other than unlocking those particular items to be summoned.
Even though Akil isn’t part of my dungeon since he killed the dungeon core within my dungeon, my [Dungeon Defender] skill also increased in rank. That provided a nice boost to my own abilities in addition to allowing me to force evolve another monster.
It worked well for Desiree, but since I can’t use it on any of the girls I guess I will just have to hold on to the remaining uses of the forced evolution. I still have a lot to talk over with the Elders, so I don’t want to work of the dungeon to much right now, so after thanking the bunnies for their hard work as well, I return to the neutral zone.
Since my return the traitors have not claimed any other dungeon cores, but I am not sure if that is a good thing because Laura has started to accuse me of working with the traitors. Even though she doesn’t come out and agree with Laura, I am not so sure about Lucille either.
Laura: “Think about it! Dungeon Core #734 attacked his dungeon with clear instructions not to destroy his dungeon, and that sounds to me like he was just supposed to put up a good show to make it look like Two-Twelve was one of the targets.”
Madam Erin: “Ceres and Two-Twelve did not try to keep that information from us, so if that was really the case why would they tell us about it. I just think whatever future plans the traitors have, they plan to use Two-Twelve’s unique dungeon for something, so for now they are just attempting to weaken him.”
Laura: “I nearly forgot about you “saving” him from when Hecate attacked his dungeon. How do we not know you are in on it as well?”
Dyson: “This is ridiculous… Your little feud with Lucille is making you jittery. If Madam Erin and Two-Twelve were working with the traitors, they wouldn’t be bothered by showing up to these pointless meetings. If anything it is you that has brought no information to the table, so who is to say you are not trying to shift the blame because you are working with the traitors?”
“Look! I am the only one that has made an effort to put a stop to the traitors, and I just lost a lot of people that put their trust in me, not to mention a lot of my own monsters in the process, so the last thing I would be doing is working with the traitors. The traitors have now killed over 200 dungeon cores, and the Elders can’t keep sitting idly by. My group was a sound idea, but we just don’t have enough dungeon cores with any considerable strength. If you want to put an end to these traitors then help me!”
Dyson: “Then you have a plan?”
“There are not many dungeon cores out there that have been around long enough to gain any considerable amount of strength. We need to do a better job of protecting those that are left. I have already started to take steps in strengthening the younger dungeon cores of my group, but there are many others out there that could use our help.”
Lucille: “What good is that going to do? These traitors are strong enough to kill dungeon cores as strong as Maric, Faron, and Draco, so you honestly expect that providing assistance to weak dungeon cores is going to make any difference at all?”
“Maybe not right at first, but we wouldn’t only be building their strength but building allies as well. I don’t have all the answers, but I can only do what I know how, and unless someone else has a better idea that is all I got…”
We continue to talk for quite a while, but even though they don’t have any plans to join my group any time soon, they at least agree to start working a bit more amicably in the future, but before they leave Lucille and Laura are already at each other’s throats again, so I don’t know how well this is going to work.
Dyson and Madam Erin stick around after the other two leave to speak more, so not to any surprise but it looks like it is down to the three of us again.
“Lucille and Laura are both so difficult. They either trying to kill one another or willing to die for one another, we need to end this conflict between them so that we can get all the Elders on the same page…”
Dyson: “Their problem is they are too much alike. When Lucille was leagues ahead of Laura it was never a problem, but now that Laura has gained enough strength to stand up to Lucille, I don’t see the situation coming to an end any time soon.”
“Lucille doesn’t even care about the humans, so why is she so set on preventing Aaron from becoming king of Merretta? As long as Laura makes an agreement not to not use the Merretta army against Lucille it should not be a problem.”
Madam Erin: “You’re right, Lucille doesn’t care about the humans, but she doesn’t care to lose either. She may not have taken an active role in Merretta in centuries, but she still looks at it as having to concede Merretta to Laura.”
“Over 200 dungeon cores are dead! Can’t they at least put their squabble behind them until we deal with the larger problem?”
Dyson: “This feud was started when the traitors used the Merretta king and then threw him away. I would say that having Lucille and Laura at each other’s throats was part of their plan from the start, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they are aggravating the situation behind the scenes to keep them busy.”
“Then the situation with me being stuck in the dungeon could have been for the same purpose… I hate to say it but they may have used me to keep the two of you busy while taking out all those other dungeon cores.”
Dyson: “I am tired of just reacting to the situations these traitors are causing!”
Madam Erin: “If they are stirring things up in Merretta, maybe we should get involved. We can use the guise of ending the feud between Lucille and Laura to instead look for traitors that are pushing for it to continue.”
“Even if we don’t find any traitors this way it would still be useful to end the feud. Merretta is an absolute power house in terms of military strength, but they are also the suppliers of many goods and items traded to other kingdoms. It may not look like it, but this civil war between Merretta is rippling out even causing problems everywhere not just in Merretta.”
Dyson: “Mar and the other settlements of the Midden Badlands rarely “buy” or “trade” items from other kingdoms, and the only noticeable difference so far is the slave stockades have become full to capacity when people fleeing from Merretta get caught by the slave traders. I have however heard that many of the more powerful people fleeing from Merretta have begun trying to stake claims in Adra, by force if they have too.”
“Without anything else to go on with the traitors, I think this will be our best bet.”
Madam Erin: “The question is, who do we side with?”
Dyson: “That is simple Lucille might be useless, but she is the actual Elder, and Two-Twelve might finally be able to settle his score with Laura.”
“We need every powerful dungeon core we can get, and both Lucille and Laura qualify. Lucille might have years of experience, but the Merretta army doesn’t answer to her. Laura and her King Aaron have Southern Merretta’s army and if we can end this amicably all of Merretta’s army behind them. The humans might not be much, but with the army the size of Merretta’s, it could be quite useful against the traitors.”
Dyson: “For all your hatred towards Laura, every time she comes up you end up defending her.”
“For all that I hate about her, she knows how important the humans are to our future, and right now an army is what we need. If I can’t put aside my differences with Laura, then how can I expect her and Lucille to do the same?”
Madam Erin: “If we are going to try to end this peacefully we should split up the load, As much as Two-Twelve wishes to broker a peace I think he would still have better luck with Lucille, so he and I will speak with her, while Dyson, you try to speak to Laura.”
Dyson: “We might agree that putting a stop to their fighting is important, but we are still looking for the traitors, so I am going to be looking for people trying to spark tensions in Merretta, you two should split up and deal with Lucille and Laura.”
“Can’t we just bring them both back here and hash it out altogether…?”
Dyson: “This isn’t something that can be easily solved in a matter of a few hours. It is going to take a lot of convincing on either side before we can bring them together to settle it. Just remember this was your idea.”
Madam Erin: “I am not entirely convinced you are not suggesting we handle Lucille and Laura, so you can spend more time with your entourage, but after recent events I will give you the benefit of the doubt this time.”
Dyson: “I have a reputation to maintain, so I ask you keep that matter strictly between the two of us…”
“What are you talking about? Something didn’t happen to Desiree or Angela, did it? We had an agreement.”
Madam Erin laughs and says. “Don’t worry pup, Dyson’s care of those two is within the best of his ability, I can promise you that.”
Dyson scowls at Madam Erin while saying. “They are temperamental and hard to deal with at times, but I have upheld our agreement. Now, I should start focusing on the task at hand, so excuse me.”
Dyson then steps down from the podium and exits the room, but I can hear Angela happily call out to him from down the hallway, and before the door is completely shuts I can see her bury her head into his chest while wrapping her arms around him.
Madam Erin: “I have never seen Dyson treat any of his entourages the way he treats them two. Many of his girls have never seen the outside of his castle until he was bored of them, yet he doesn’t go anywhere without them two anymore. I don’t know how you managed to do it, but I would even go as far to say he genuinely cares about them.”
“Is that what he was worried about? He is afraid his reputation would be hurt if he shows real affection towards someone?”
Madam laughs a deep belled laugh and says: “No, he was speaking of something far more comical, but I assure you it isn’t a matter that you have to be concerned about.”
“As long as you are sure… Anyway, about Lucille, do you really think I stand a chance of convincing her to end the fighting between her and Laura?”
Madam Erin: “Even though your strength is much less than that of the older dungeon cores, if there was one thing I was ever sure of, it is your ability to do the impossible. I think as long as you can convince her compromising with Laura would be her win, than you stand a decent chance. Laura on the other hand…”
“I don’t think Laura will settle for anything less than all of Merretta, we just have to find a way to let Aaron take the throne while making Lucille think she is the one that is winning…”
Madam Erin: “And that is why Dyson said this won’t be an easy task…”
The door of the room opens back up and I see Angela’s head peek though before I hear her say. “No, he is still here, so can I?”
Even from this distance I can hear Dyson’s sigh as he says yes. Angela then bounds into the room shutting the door behind her before she says. “If it isn’t too much trouble do you mind if I speak with Two-Twelve for a moment?”
Madam Erin: “I think we are about done here, so I guess that is up to him.” –She says as she pats me on the shoulder, which never fails to almost make my knees buckle from the strength she puts behind it. She then steps down from the podium before heading for the door.-
“Is there something the matter?”
Angela: “I just wished to ask you a few questions if that is alright?”
“I guess it wouldn’t hurt…”
Angela then waits till Madam Erin leaves and the door is completely closed. I meanwhile step down from the podium myself, but before I make it too far she quickly flies right at me stopping inches away from me as she whispers. “Please, can you tell me about Sandra?”
Angela: “Shhh!” –She quickly hushes me and looks behind her at the door before whispering back to me.- “That beastkin woman that adventurers with your sister-in-law.”
“Oh… I have seen her around a few times when Tanya brings her around, but I can’t say I know her…”
Angela: “What is her deal with Master? I know there has to be something, because I saw the way he looked at her, and he won’t let Desiree into that part of his head.”
“All I can tell you is she showed up in Tobes one day to train to become an adventurer, with a weapon, armor, and gold that she got from Dyson. She sold the weapon and armor when she realized she was better suited to be a mage, but that is about all I know.”
Angela: “That’s all you know…?”
“She kept a necklace that Dyson gave her, which I thought was kind of odd, because I didn’t think Dyson was the type to give jewelry, but I never given any thought before now.”
Angela: “You don’t think he was in love with her do you?”
“Dyson is a man of lust not love.”
Angela: “That is not true! He loved his wife.”
“And he never let her go, and I think for that is a big reason he won’t ever love again. He has spent 100 years trying to recreate her, and even though Sofia not only shared her name, but from what I understand a near perfect resemblance she still wasn’t enough for him.”
Angela: “Something about this Sandra is special. You put a lot of effort into the agreement with Master to make sure I was happy, so if you are really concerned about my happiness can you promise me you will at least look into it for me?”
“I asked a lot of unfair things of you after you were summoned, so if this is what you want, then I will see what I can do.”
Angela: “Thank you, and promise me you won’t talk to Master about it.”
She thanks me again and then quickly heads out the door… Angela seemed pretty troubled by this Sandra girl, but after all the entourages and women Dyson has had over the years, I wonder why this is the one that is bothering her.
Since Sandra adventures with Tanya and Exavier it isn’t like it would be too hard to ask her a few questions, so if this puts Angela’s mind at ease, I guess it is the least I can do. I do have other pressing matters to attend to though, so I don’t know when I will be able to tell her what I find out.
I head back to the house and catch up Belinda and Ceres on what happened with the meeting. It is too late to head to Merretta today, so maybe I can ask Tanya to invite Sandra to dinner this evening and get that out of the way while I am at it.
I didn’t sleep very well last night, I don’t know why I reacted the way that I did. I was the one that said I didn’t want to get further involved, but when I saw him again after all this time, and with those two beautiful women, I couldn’t help to feel abandoned and jealous.
He was never unclear about the type of man he was and I know I was being ridiculous but after speaking with Tanya afterwards I at least know his name now… I am not sure what Tanya said was true or not though, because being the descendant of a hero makes since when he saved me from the dungeon, but he had a dungeon of his own.
Then there is Sofia… Even though I told her what I experienced, I never got a straight answer out of her association with Dyson, but when I was with him and he told me about summoning women to try to replace his lost wife, so I could only assume she was once of those women.
At first I thought the knowledge she had about dungeons was because she was created by Dyson, but once I started to see how things worked here in Tobes with the dungeon up in the mountain I began to have my doubts.
Everything always comes back to Tanya’s brother-in-law. At first I thought he was like Dyson, but after what happened yesterday I am not so sure. I have only spoken to him a few times when I went to his house to meet with Tanya and Exavier, or when we all bumped into him in town, but I did get the same impression of him as I did of Dyson.
I think either he is the master of the dungeon up in the mountain or that rabbit beastkin Lilah is. If it is her, she could be using Tanya’s brother-in-law to keep tabs on Tobes. The great hero Dyson’s descendant, Tanya’s brother-in-law, and the leader of the Mage’s Guild Ceres, they are all deeply tied to the dungeons.
Tanya: “Are you still thinking about Dyson? Who would have thought your mystery man was the hero’s descendant.”
“No…Well, I mean I guess I am, but not in the way you are thinking.”
Tanya: “I knew it. You always fidget with that necklace of yours when he is brought up in the conversation.”
“I didn’t even realize…” –I say as I notice that I was subconsciously playing with the necklace Dyson had given me.-
Tanya: “Forget about him! You saw those women that were with him, and that should tell you the kind of man he is.”
“It’s not like that I promise.”
Tanya: “Good, because now that my sister and her husband have returned she is throwing a dinner party, she wanted me to invite you, and I can’t have you dragging down Exavier and my reputations by being depressed all evening.”
“Wait… Your brother-in-law wants me to join you for dinner?”
Tanya: “They have these dinner parties all the time, and my sister probably wanted to invite you since you have been with Exavier and me this whole time.”
“You don’t think this has to do with what happened up in the dungeon do you?”
Tanya: “Well they do like to stay in the loop with things that happen in the dungeon, but Ceres usually shows up for these dinners as well, and she would be able to tell them far more then we could.”
“What about Lilah. Will she be there?”
Tanya: “I don’t know, all of those rabbits that my sister takes care of pretty much come and go as they please. My sister says she has them doing easy commissions for Tobes, and that keeps them pretty busy.”
“You don’t think that is strange?”
Tanya: “My sister and her husband are always taking in strays and giving them a hand, so not really…”
I didn’t know what to do with my suspicions about the dungeons, but now that I am going to have dinner with them all I can’t say that I am not feeling quite nervous. What if Dyson told them about me and now they are wondering if I know too much…
Tanya: “It isn’t that big of a deal, if you don’t feel like going, I can just tell them you weren’t up for it.”
“What if that just makes them more suspicious of me?”
Tanya: “Suspicious of what…? Are you sure you are feeling alight? You have been acting strangely ever since you saw Dyson again.”
“I’ll be alright… Like you said they have these dinners all the time, right?” –I say with a nervous laugh.-
Tanya: “Yes, and my sister is actually a surprisingly good cook, even her husband isn’t too shabby, just don’t eat anything if it was made by Zoey. The way Zoey talks I wouldn’t exactly trust where her ingredients came from…”
“You’re not making me feel any better about the situation…”
Tanya: “It will be fine.”
After what happened in the dungeon yesterday the Adventurer’s Guild held a wake for the thirty plus fallen adventurers, so we didn’t know Maurice very well, but we decided not to go to the dungeon and attend for his sake at least.
After it was over there was no point in going to the dungeon today, so we have been taking the day off, so that hasn’t helped my mind from wandering, but now instead of thinking about Dyson I am worrying about this dinner with Tanya’s family.
Maybe I am just looking too much into it. I have gotten to know Tanya and Exavier pretty well since we began our training, and they have been living with Tanya’s sister since they arrived, so if something was off with Tanya’s brother-in-law, they would have noticed it by now.
That at least puts me at ease long enough to make it until the time we are to meet for dinner, but as I start to get ready for the dinner I start to worry for a different reason… Tanya often says things that remind me that she is a princess, but for the most part I forget that Exavier and Tanya are royalty.
This is going to be a dinner with princes and princesses, even Ceres is the leader of the Mages Guild, and so I realize I don’t have the first clue as to what I am even supposed to wear. We spend all our time training in the dungeon, so I haven’t really gotten any nice clothes.
I wear a heavy leather reinforced robe that protects me and my clothing when we are training, but it isn’t perfect, so every outfit I own has mended at least once. Funding isn’t even the issue, because even after buying a small cottage in Tobes I made enough gold by selling that rapier and armored dress that Dyson gave me that I am still living off that.
It is too late to have something fitted, but I might be able to find something to at least get by with, so I quickly head to a clothing shop. It is the middle of winter, so most of the clothing is what you would expect, but that means there is nothing one would think to wear to a dinner with royalty.
I manage to find a dress, but it is rather light for this time of year, the size of it is off, and it is made for a human, so there is no place for my tail, but it is all I can do on such a short notice. The only advantage is that since it is out of season I get it quite a discounted price. Even still it is the most expensive clothing I have ever bought with the exception of the armored robe I wear for combat.
I quickly head back home and get changed. The dress looks pretty ridiculous, and it is a bit uncomfortable with my tail being bound up like it is, but I just have to make it through tonight, so I am just going to have to make it work.
The dress has no sleeves or back, in fact if it was cut just a bit lower in the back my tail wouldn’t be in such a bind, but I don’t want to risk ripping the dress either. Walking in the cold winter evening is enough to make me shiver, and that doesn’t help keep the dress on as I am practically having to pull it back up after every other step or risk falling out of it…
I however eventually make it to Tanya’s sister’s house and knock on the door. The door is answered by the house’s maid and I am quickly escorted inside.
Vetala: “Oh you poor dear, you look positively frozen… The house has a furnace so stand right here, and I will Master know you have arrived.” –She says while directing me to a small panel on the wall.-
The maid opens the panel and I can feel the warm air pouring out of the wall… I was impressed with my little cottage, but this place in on a whole other level, but I guess that shows you the difference in royalty and normal people.
I don’t have any objections standing next to the wall as the heat allows me to regain the feeling in my extremities. The maid then leaves the room while I continue to keep trying to warm myself up by the panel on the wall while continuing to pull my dress back up.
I then hear Tanya call to me from the top of the stairs, as she starts to make her way down them wearing a normal winter outfit… “Sandra…? What are you wearing?”
“You said it was a dinner party, I didn’t know what else to wear…”
Tanya: “It’s just dinner. You should have just worn your normal clothes…”
“Now you tell me…”
Tanya: “Did you walk all the way here in the cold, in that dress? I will ask my sister to teleport you back home after dinner. I don’t want to find you frozen to the road tomorrow morning…”
Tanya: “The dining room is right through here, but it looks like you would be more comfortable waiting right there for a while, so I am going to go see how long it is going to be till dinner is ready.” –She says then heads through a set of double doors leading to where she said the dining room is.-
After a few minutes I have warmed up enough to no longer cling to the panel on the wall, so take a seat on one of the benches next to the stairs. I have waiting for Tanya and Exavier here a few times before, but I never realized just how little there is in this room.
I mean it is just the entryway, but there is no artwork, or portraits hanging from the wall only a few generic tapestries. I start to grow restless again, and then the doors to the dining room open up as Tanya’s brother-in-law, joins me in the entryway.
“Thank you for inviting me to dinner…” –I nervously say.-
Two-Twelve: “I see there was be bit of miscommunication between Tanya and you about dinner, but don’t feel bad, it took me a long time to get used to things myself. Your dress is quite lovely though… I also brought something to help warm you up.” –He says while handing me cup of coffee.-
I have started to warm up a bit but the heat from the coffee cup in my hands feels wonderful just the same. I take small sip from the coffee, but even though it is very strong, it is also very sweet. I must have made an odd face because Tanya’s brother-in-law quickly apologizes.
Two-Twelve: “Sorry about that, I don’t usually put sugar in my coffee, but the girls usually do, so I didn’t know how much to put in it…”
“It’s quite alright, really.” –I say with a weak smile and take another sip.-
Two-Twelve: “Don’t force yourself. We can get you another cup in a minute, but I just wanted to know if it would be alright if I could have a word with your before dinner?”
“You went through the trouble of inviting me here, so it would be rude for me to refuse.” –I say nervously and take another sip of the overly sweet coffee.-
Two-Twelve: “Of course not, you have been a big help to Tanya and Exavier, and if we hadn’t been so busy this year we probably would have invited you much sooner.”
I don’t know what to say so I just take another sip of the coffee…
Two-Twelve: “Well, maybe I should have made the time, but Sofia said you were doing well, and you had Tanya and Exavier with you so I let things go for probably too long. You see I heard Dyson was the one that sent you our way, and I guess you can say Dyson is kind of a friend of mine, so maybe I should have checked in on you a bit more…”
“No, it is quite alright… I only learned of Dyson’s name yesterday after bumping in to him again. The truth is I only met him for a short time before coming here, so I don’t know much about him, he just gave me a fresh start when I needed it.”
I really don’t know much about Dyson, so maybe if I can convince him of that, I can put him at ease and he won’t think I know too much about the dungeon up in the mountain…
Two-Twelve: “I don’t mean to pry, but that in itself is quite strange to me, especially giving Dyson’s personality…”
Well that backfired… I nervously take another sip of the coffee before I say. “I was in a bad spot, Dyson saved my life, and he was quite the charming man, so we…” I then take another sip of the coffee while blushing.
Two-Twelve: “That’s alright. You don’t have to say anything else… Like I said I know Dyson quite, so I figured as much, but that is the part that leaves me confused. No offense, but Dyson has a bit of a problem with beastkin women…”
“He had those two beastkin women with him yesterday.”
Two-Twelve: “Exactly. I know we barely know each other, but from what I can figure you are the reason he no longer hates beastkin women and I am not trying to say you’re not a special young woman, but I was curious what made you special to Dyson…”
“Wait… That is what this is about?”
Two-Twelve: “I’m sorry… To be honest I owe one of those young ladies in a big way, and she knows you are special to Dyson, but I think she is a little jealous, because she doesn’t know why. She asked me if I could find out from you.”
I take a big swig of the coffee and then breathe out a sigh of relief.
“With the situation that brought Dyson and I together, it just helped Dyson realize something about himself, and I am not special to him as much as just a reminder of that realization. You can tell her she has nothing to worry about from me, I promise.”
Two-Twelve: “I am not sure I understand, but I will let her know. Now, why don’t we go get some dinner.”