Chapter 37: Madam Erin’s Dungeon

While everyone was saying bye to everyone while preparing to depart, Two-Twelve gave me a ring… I almost died right then and there, but he then told me it was a magic ring, and it would help me during my trip.

He shouldn’t toy with a girl’s heart like that so I punched him hard in the shoulder. As revenge I still make him slide the ring on my finger, but when he does I can’t help the surreal feeling that washes over me, causing me to blush.

I wonder if all dungeon cores are like Two-Twelve, and Thirty-seven… I know they both have emotions but sometimes I wonder if they are able to just shut them off… Even after all this time with Two-Twelve I can’t actually figure out how exactly he sees me.

After Amy’s trick during my birthday, he seemed so calm and collected after we were both naked together. Yet when I joined his dungeon, and became nude then it seemed to catch him off guard, and he got emotional.

Then at the lake side with Thirty-seven he was calm and collected again completely unfazed by Thirty-seven and I, but the expression on his face when Listel was in the dungeon though… I wish he would look at me with eyes like that…

Two-Twelve suggested we let Thirty-seven name the golems, and I was skeptical, but last time I just named the little golems after my sisters as a joke, so I guess it can’t be worse than that. As I expected she simply designated them #1 and #2, oh well they are just golems.

I give Thirty-seven a hug then present myself to Two-Twelve, but he just stares at me for an awkward few moments, so I decide to leave.

Susan heard from one of the hunters in the village that there was a trail off of the mountain road that led all the way out of the forest, so I am using it to bypass the village. Sure enough after a few hours of travel I break free of the tree line.

If I follow the road dead ahead of me it will fork off after a day’s travel, heading east it will go to Kartova on the outskirts of the kingdom, but I have to keep following the road north around the forest. After a while I get tired of walking so I sit on top of one of the golems as it follows the trail.

That only lasts for a short while before the bouncing on the hard stone as it walks becomes sore on my backside. When we set up camp I move back into the forest as not to freak anyone out that might be using the road.

I can’t use my name to get me by this time with the golems, so I use the excuse that my father is a powerful mage, and when I decided to become an adventurer he created the golems as my bodyguards. I use the excuse at the guard tower on the road at the kingdom’s border, and the knights seem skeptical but they let me pass. Just a few more days now, and I will make it to the Tower of the Gods.

From the reports I have been receiving from Susan it seems Two-Twelve is managing things in my place well this time. Although I didn’t leave anything up to chance this time, and I even hired a temperary worker just to make sure.

The Tower of the Gods truly is impressive, It’s been three days sense I could first make it out in the distance, and I still have at least one more day before I reach it. A half of a day from the tower I bump into a group of adventurer’s making their way to the tower from Kartova.

They recognize me as a Gowen princess, but I convince them to keep it a secret. I even manage to get them to act like I am part of their party to make travel through town far easier. Once reaching the adventurer’s guild I realize things function way different in other kingdoms.

Instead of commissions granting rewards, they cost gold to take, which serves as a pass that allows entry into the tower. Depending on the commissions you take you are strictly confined to certain rooms, and floors of the dungeon.

If you don’t manage to complete the commission in the time frame allowed you can even be denied being allowed to take further commissions in the dungeon. I am told even with all this, the D-ranked and C-rank commissions are all gone mere minutes after they post the new ones at midnight.

While waiting for them to post the new commissions I inform Two-Twelve of my arrival. Once the new commissions are posted I manage to grab four of them, that look possible for me to complete, but when I try to get them accepted at the guild counter I am denied three of them because they don’t count the golems as party members so I am treated as a solo adventurer.

The group I arrived with offers to allow me to go with them, but since I can’t get xp for the dungeon that way I give them the other three commissions, and just take the one I was allowed. The commission I took says I have to collect 10 tiny magic stones from golems on the 6th floor of the dungeon between the hours of 9am and 12pm, but I then have till midnight to turn them in.

“What’s with this unreasonable time frame?”

Guild receptionist: “The commissions that take place between the hours of midnight and 9 am are responsible for clearing the first 5 floors, the commissions for the next 5 floors must be completed between the 9 am and 9 pm, and the last three hours are reserved for floors 11 and 12.”

“But it says I only have till noon.”

Guild receptionist: “Your commission is a gathering quest that takes place solely on the 6th floor so you time so it must be completed early so the other commissions can be completed on the higher floors.”

“What about floors beyond 12?”

Guild receptionist: “Commissions beyond floor 12 take at least two days to complete, as floor 13 is a safe area you camp there your first night complete, and tasks on the second day then return. However there are very few C-ranked commissions at that level, and none are solo commissions.”

“…”

I decide to rest till 9am then head into the dungeon to complete my commission, but I quickly learn there was a flaw in my plan. When I enter the dungeon at 9am I am informed I am severally late. Apparently groups wait till a floor is cleared, and then move forward till they reach the level of their commission.

As such I have only three hours to make my way up to the 6th floor, and complete my commission while the other groups are already starting on that floor right this second… It takes me an hour and a half to reach the 6th floor, and by then the floor has practically been sweep clean already.

I manage to find a room that was bypassed, by the other adventurers and inside are 3 golems Tanya’s size. Luckily I brought the large golems this time, as even though they are Tanya’s size, the four of us struggle to defeat them, I almost lose Tanya, and #2 in the process.

We continue to search the 6th floor but as we run out of time, I still only have 3 of the 10 required stones…As it was my first commission I am forced to pay a penalty but still allowed to take further commissions.

I decide to rest up before midnight. I am still exhausted when I wake up shortly before midnight, but I must get the commission now, or I will have to miss a day. This time I manage to grab two commissions that take place within the first few floors that can be completed by a solo party, and another one between floors 6 and 9 that has 6pm deadline.

This however means I have to begin right now. The commissions on the lower floors are much easier, and we have them both completed by 8am. At 9am when we are allowed to enter the 6th floor, and wave after wave of groups swarm the 6th floor.

It seems like the battle against the monsters is far less than the fight to establish a hunting ground. This time the commission is for the actual stone from the golems, which is used as a building material, luckily I have the golems to transport them.

Many of the fights are in such close proximity to other groups I honestly don’t know if we are even gathering xp for Two-Twelve or not.

Once 6pm arrives the golems are all cracked and crumbling, and I am so tired I don’t even care about turning the commissions in, but I have to do this for Two-Twelve. After turning in the commissions I hit my cot and pass out.

When I wake up it is shortly after midnight… I rush to the adventurer’s guild but the commissions are already gone… Still in my pajamas, and with my hair sticking in every direction I let out a deep sigh, and plop in a chair ordering a stiff drink.

A young beastkin woman takes my drink from the server, and brings it too me sitting down at my table.

Beastkin: “New to town?”

“Thanks” –I take the drink, drinking it slowly.- “Yea this is, or would have been day three.”

Beastkin: “You’re doing pretty well for a solo runner, sure you have some golems to help you, but the battles are the least of the trouble up in the dungeon.”

“Yea I see what you mean.”

Beastkin: “Things start to slow down here in a month when harvest season kicks in full swing, then it really slows down once winter hits. You plan on sticking around long?”

“Just two weeks, I got business to take care in Gowen after that.”

Beastkin: “Gowen aye? Heard there is a new dungeon down that way, have you heard of it?”

“Yes, I am from the capital but, I spent some time in Tobes after it was discovered.”

Beastkin: “From the capital Aye? Are you some kind of noble’s daughter or something? Nice armor like yours, and golem body guards to boot.”

“Yea something like that.”

Beastkin: “Well my group heads up to the dungeon twice a week, if you decide you want to hit the 11 or 12th floors look us up.”

“Thanks. I will remember that.”

The beastkin woman then gets up leaving me to my drink. After I finish my drink I head back to bed, and when I wake up in the morning I decide to explore town a bit.

I learn that the commissions for solo adventurers tend to be the ones groups tend to reject so they open them up for the solo adventurers. Even though the adventurers have to pay for the commissions the items they gather not required for their commissions net them quite a bit of gold out in the market.

Several shops sell items needed for gathering commissions at two or even three times the going rate…If I knew that I wouldn’t of had to fail the commission the first day. I am sure if I kept doing that though I would end up without any gold very fast.

After resting the afternoon away, I prepare early for the dungeon. Once midnight hits I am able to grab a few decent commissions and set out. The next few days continue much in the same way, so far I have managed to at least get some kind of commission everyday but the one.

By the end of the week my days and nights are all mixed up, with each day seemingly getting longer and longer. Today I managed to grab 4 commissions including my first one on the 11th floor, but that means I will be up almost 24 hours by the time they are all completed.

The groups lighten up a lot on the floors above the 10th and I even manage to complete the commission relatively early, but that still mean in two short hours the next day’s commissions will be ready. Worn out and exhausted, I’m battered and bruised, the golems are on their last leg, and I debate about skipping another day when I receive a message from Two-Twelve.

Two-Twelve: “I have some great news!”

“Really what happened? I could use some good news after the day I had…”

Two-Twelve then proceeds to tell me that he can now summon feral beastkin in the dungeon, which is indeed great news but something about the way he says It seems off. When I ask him about it things begin to sound fishier and fishier.

He finally confesses that he ended up giving a merchant pass out blind to one of Denova’s connections, which normally would have made me angry, but he actually done really well by making a 24 hour stipulation to the pass. Giving the fact the person in question was Denova I consider that a major achievement.

Much to my guesses the merchant turned out to be a slave trader, at least he could only sell his slaves for one day…  Things however take a turn for the worse as apparently though some misguided notion Two-Twelve bought one of the slaves!

It turns out it is even a small child, the last thing I think Two-Twelve should be reasonable for is a small little girl… He has also already seemed to turn her over to Thirty-seven as some kind of living stuffed animal. I just don’t have the energy for this right now.

I decided I am taking the day off, I tell Two-Twelve that I am heading to bed, and I do just that. From the hours shortly before midnight, to well after noon I sleep, and sleep soundly. When I finally wake up I feel truly refreshed.

With a renewed spirit I look back though the messages of Two-Twelve from the previous night, I don’t know how but it seems the girl he bought was a dungeon monster, so that means she won’t have to eat, and such stuff so I don’t have to worry about her staving at least. But wait…If dungeon monsters don’t age does that mean she will remain a small child forever?

I have discovered if I use healing magic in conjunction with the pieces of stone left behind by the dead golems in the dungeon I am able to recover the golem’s health at a much faster rate than their natural healing.

So with what of their health is still depleted once evening falls I use several of the stones, and healing magic to make them all right as rain. Once midnight hits I dive in headlong to the commission board managing to grab some choice commissions, and like that we set back out into the dungeon.

The next four days pass by smoothly as I manage to grab very good commissions on every day but one, however the commissions that day seemed sub-par clear across the board. This time I manage to catch a great commission on the 12th floor, and although we only have been too the 11th floor twice I feel confident we can handle it.

It’s the only commission I grabbed so we catch some sleep and head into the dungeon around noon. We make it up to the 10th floor with still a few hours before the 11th floor opens. I happen to see the beastkin I ran into on my third day in town, and she introduces me to her group while we wait.

They have a commission on the 11th floor so they enter before me while I wait for the all clear to move on to the 12th. Once reaching the 12th floor I still have over an hour and half to complete the commission of collecting the magic stones from the larger golems that look like #1 and #2.

With just under an hour to go we have managed to collect all but two of the stones but the pickings are beginning to get slim. We are pretty worn out but we manage to finish with 30 minutes to spare. I turn them in to a guild representative on the 12th floor, he stamps my commission, and we being to make our way back down.

Once reaching the 10th floor I hear a group of adventurers talking, and it turns out to be the Beastkin woman and her group. I start to greet them but their conversation causes me to halt.

Adventurer: “What are we going to do, all the golem have been wiped out already, if we don’t finish this in 30 minutes we are going to lose permission to enter the dungeon for sure this time.”

Beastkin: “What about the girl, you know the noble from Gowen, she has two golems that would let us at least complete the commission.”

Adventurer: “Yea and we could sell that fancy armor of hers, and make a huge profit.”

Adventurer 2: “Won’t that cause problems for us down the road?”

Beastkin: “Not if nobody finds out about it.”

Adventurer: “Hey there she is.”

Beastkin: “Hey! You manage to complete all of your commissions? Us too! You want to head back down to the guild with us?”

I quickly order the golems to guard and ready my halberd.

Adventurer: “Damn she must have heard us talking. Get her!”

The three adventurers charge forward, they swarm Tanya first quickly beating it down with large maces. The beastkin finishes it off with an ice spell.

#1 and #2 move in swinging their massive fists breaking the group up, but it’s too late for Tanya. The adventurers however are experts in fighting golems here in the dungeons so they easily avoid them.

The maces work well against the golems, but the spells are killer so I focus on the beastkin woman. Focusing my magic into my halberd I use my [Lunge] technique catching her completely off guard. Once penning her to the wall with my halberd I use a magic stone that I stored a [Fireball] spell in launching it right into her face.

The beastkin woman screams out in pain, and even with all the damage she still fights against my halberd. One of the other adventurers breaks off from fighting the golem knocking me hard in the back with a swing of his mace.

I focus my magic again using [Whirlwind Swipe] causing the Beastkin of fly across the room, the mace wielding adventurer however takes little damage. Somehow the Beastkin manages to pull herself to her feet, and casts a spell my way.

I manage to dodge out of the way, and sweep the feet out from under the mace wielding adventurer in the process. The two golems still attack the other mace wielding adventurer, but he is so used to fighting golems they can’t land a single blow while he slowly causes damage to them little by little.

The beastkin changes spells throwing a [Fireball] at me, and I somehow manage to use [Fire Protection] in time for it to absorb the spell.

Beastkin: “Damnit the little bitch can cast spells too.”

The mace wielder that I knocked to the ground has managed to return to his feet smashing me hard square in the chest knocking me back to the floor, and knocking the wind out of me. I quickly regain my breath, throwing a [Freeze] spell at the beastkin.

With all the damage she has taken she barely manages to dodge the spell by diving to the floor, but she lands awkwardly, and that in itself looks painful. The other mace wielding adventurer manages to drop #2 while still avoiding #1’s blows.

The mace wielding adventurer attacking me attempts to slam his large mace down on me while I am still on the floor, but I manage to roll to the side. I then swing my halberd around catching him right in the neck with the axe like blade.

Much to my surprise however he twists away from the attack at just the right moment, while only suffering a rather serious injury, but far from fatal.

Beastkin: “Hurry up with that damn golem, and help us out.”

Adventurer 2: “Easy for you to say you guys are fighting two on one, and I was fighting one on two.”

The beastkin tries to stand up but it appears her leg is broken so she casts a spell from the floor targeting #1. I try to stop her by casting another [Freeze] spell, but my spell hits her too late. #1 looks like it is going to crumble at any second.

Even though my spell managed to kill the beastkin woman, things don’t look so good, as there are still two more adventurers, and I am having trouble breathing. I pull myself to my feet as the adventurer charges me.

I am unable to fully dodge the blow causing me to take considerable damage and knocking me to the floor again. The other adventurer manages to finish off #1, and he begins heading this way. I throw a [Fireball] at him to delay him while the other attempts to smash his mace into me again.

The [Fireball] hits the other adventurer but doesn’t seem to cause much damage, I attempt to roll out of the way of the crushing blow of the mace, this time the adventurer does a follow-up swing that causes me to roll across the floor.

It manages to give me some distance, and a slowly drag myself back to my feet. I am now standing there battered, bruised, one of my eyes hurts to bad to open, I am covered in blood, can barely breathe, I even think one of my arms is broken, and several of my ribs.

The two men now regroup themselves as they bare down on me. I slip out another magic stone releasing the [Fireball] within crashing into the man that is most injured, it manages to surprised them enough for me to bring my halberd around burying it into the man’s skull.

Adventurer 2: “Damn you bitch that was my brother!”

He swings his mace at me I am too weak to dodge, and can only muster enough energy using my halberd to block the blow. My halberd cracks a breaks, but still doesn’t manage to completely block the blow only deflecting a fatal one.

The mace crashes into my right shoulder even with my armor I can hear bones pop and break. With no more energy left remaining in me, and no weapon I fall to my knees.

“I’m sorry Two-Twelve, I wasn’t good enough.”

Adventurer 2: “What did you say bitch?!”

He grabs my hair pulling my head back. Tears well up in the one eye I can still see out of as he then brings his fist down into my cheek causing my to hit the floor.

I can’t keep my one remaining good eye open any longer as I hear something from across the room.

Voice: “What the hell is going on here?”

Adventurer 2: “This crazy bitch killed my brother, and our party leader!”

Softer voice: “Wait that’s the princess!”

Adventurer 2: “What are you talking about?”

Voice: “Step away from her!”

Adventurer 2: “Are you guys crazy too? I said she killed my brother and our leader.”

I hear the clashing of battle but lose conciseness. When I open my eye up again I see the face of one of the adventurers from the group from Gowen I met with as I was coming into town.

Softer voice: “She’s still alive, quick do something!”

Voice: “I don’t…”

I fight trying to get out the words. “…Y…Bag..H..al.ing.. otion..

Softer voice: “Where is her bag?”

Voice: “Is this it?”

Softer voice: “Quick check it for a healing potion.”

I feel as the liquid enters my throat, it begins to burn, but the fog in my head starts to clear.

Softer voice: “Any sign of any party members, or her golems?”

Voice: “There are some piles of rocks over here that look like the used to be golems.”

“They are gone…”

Softer voice: “Any other party members?”

“No, just them.”

The burning sensation has stopped, I still hurt all over, and I still can’t open my other eye, but I can feel my strength beginning to return. I wince in pain but manage to sit myself up.

Softer voice: “No no, don’t move. The potion was only enough to stop you from bleeding to death.”

“I’ll be ok in a minute.”

I begin casting a healing spell on myself, but even after expelling all my remaining magic I am still in bad shape. I am however able to pull myself to my feet, and I look around. All three of the adventurers that attacked me are lying dead on the floor, along with #1, #2, and Tanya.

Voice: “Princess, are you sure you should be standing?”

“What time is it? We have to hurry. If we don’t make it out of here before midnight, the monsters will begin to respawn.”

Softer voice: “but you’re in no shape to be moving.”

“It’s ok, I will heal myself once my magic comes back.”

The four adventurers from Gowen assist me as we head out of the dungeon. The softer voice belongs to a woman named Kara, and the other voice was that of the party leader Trenton. Styles, and Goby make up the remaining members of the group.

 

“I am sure lucky you guys came by when you did.”

Kara: “Not luck so much as fate…”

“What do you mean?”

Trenton: “We got stuck in a teleporting trap. I have never even heard of teleporting traps at these levels before, but after triggered the trap we ended up in the room rest next to you. What was lucky though was we managed to recognize you the other guy was saying all kinds of bad things about you.”

“I will have to ask him to thank her for me I guess.”

Kara: “What was that?”

“Oh nothing… The guy wasn’t exactly lying though, because I did kill the other members of his group. He just left out the detail they attacked first. They were short on magic stones to complete their commission so they decided they would take the ones from my golems.”

Kara: “That’s horrible they would do such a thing. Are you going to be able to replace them?”

“I don’t know, but I will figure something out.”

By the time we reach the bottom few floors of the tower I have been able to heal myself to at least walk on my own, which allows us to pick up the pace, and we barely manage to make it out of the dungeon before midnight.

I visit with the group for a while before parting ways with them. I rest up the rest of the night, but then decide I can’t do anything else in the dungeon, so I begin heading home. I wait till that evening before breaking the news to Two-Twelve I however leave out the details on how close it actually was.

Without the golems I manage to hitch a ride with a caravan heading to Kartova. Heading back into the kingdom I use my seal at the border so that the caravan can easily pass, to thank them for giving me a ride.

Once we reach the split in the road I wave farewell to the caravan then continue the rest of the way to Tobes on foot.

I reach Tobes late one evening, and once I reach the adventurer’s guild a small bunny eared child covered in fur runs out the door she almost runs right into me but nimbly turns at the last second and avoids me.

Two-Twelve: “Hold on Lilah.”

Two-Twelve steps out of the adventurer’s guild and our eyes meet.

Two-Twelve: “Oh, Belinda your back.”

When I see him tears begin to well up in my eyes. I didn’t tell him how close I came to losing my life in the dungeon, and I wasn’t planning on it. But when I looked into his eyes I am overcome with emotion, and quickly wrap my arms around him burying my face in his chest and begin to cry.

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