I wake the next morning when Belinda moves over to the edge of the bed and sits up. I silently lay there while she looks to be messing with [Menu], using it she changes her clothes from her night gown to her normal clothes.
I reach forward wrapping my arm around her waist quickly causing her to jump.
Belinda: “Oh, you startled me… I didn’t mean to wake you.”
She brushes my hand with one of hers then interlocks our fingers. She raises my arm with hers then twists her body out of my grip, and standing up. She then turns around half crawling back onto the bed as she brushes some of her hair from her face when she leans in and kisses me.
I raise my other hand placing it on her cheek as I kiss her back and that feeling starts to rise in me, but as quickly as it does she stops kissing me and gets back up, slowly releasing my other hand.
Belinda: “I’m sorry, I want to stay… But I got a long day today, I have a shipment from the capital coming in today, and a man from the capital branch adventurer’s guild is supposed to be coming with them. I need to make sure everything is prepared.”
“There isn’t going to be a problem is there?”
Belinda: “Oh no nothing like that, I just need to make sure everything is ready.”
Belinda then starts to transfer herself, but she quickly comes back to bed leaning back down and quickly kissing me again albeit only briefly. She then transfers from the room. I find my self unconsciously trying to hold on to that strange feeling going as far as breathing in Belinda’s scent from the pillow next to me.
I think I am starting to understand Zoey… I quickly snap out of it though and crawl out of bed. I pick up my shirt and put it on while moving over to look at the screens. It is still pretty early with the sun not even starting to rise yet, so I let Lilah sleep a little longer while I take a look at the dungeon.
We have quite a bit of xp stored up now as we haven’t spent much since the girls returned, so I plan on setting up an experiment, but it’s going to have to wait till adventurer’s come in so for now I decide to look in on the other cores.
Maric is setting up a group of hobgolins that do appear to be wearing decent gear like a D-rank adventurer would wear, and Adair is in his dungeon prepping for the battle. He still has the horde of goblins in the three rooms but a few in each room catch my eye.
They are quite a bit tougher than the rest and are wearing better armor. Adair himself seems to be wearing Magician’s Robes now, and is even carrying a rather decent staff. Looks like today’s battle will prove more interesting, but it also looks to still be a while before they start, so I switch in on Laura and Phobos.
Laura is lying in a large bed with Aaron both still asleep, although when I look in on Phobos he is already beginning to prepare. His tactics still seem to be remaining the same with a few tough crimson kobold in each room. I then switch to Dyson, but find I already missed their battle, and he is sitting at a table set up in the middle of Queen’s dungeon talking with her.
Dyson: “I see you managed to recruit more humans to defend your dungeon again today. My question is what are you going to do once one or more finally survive the battle? Are you going to hold to your word, or are you kill them and collect their bounties anyway.”
Queen: “I keep my word. However I do have an idea we will have to wait, and see if it works when we cross that bridge.”
Dyson: “Well, I am going to give you 12 more hours to prepare for the next battle, and just as an added bonus I think I will set up something really special this time. If you succeed it will be a great boon for you, however it won’t be an easy task. Good luck.”
Dyson then leaves Queen’s dungeon and Queen has several of her beastkin grab the legs of 7 or 8 human corpses as they drag them out of the dungeon and into the city.
I manage to watch both battles from the other two, but nothing spectacular happens, they do both manage to win however. After the battle Maric sits with Adair as they talk more, Maric discusses the history of the Dungeon Core #3, and even mentions the supposed curse surrounding it.
After a while they part ways, and Adair beings training in Maric’s dungeon again. Phobos has also begun to train in Laura’s dungeon so I start to focus on the teachers when I receive a message.
Monster Lilah has requested entrance to Dungeon Core Room.
After I agree Lilah transfer in, she looks a little tired and warn down, but seems in a happy mood.
Lilah: “Master! Master, Lilah has just about got it figured out what she plans to use her xp on.”
“Good for you Lilah, oh by the way, when you see adventurer’s beginning to head up to the dungeon today let me know about the time they reach the lake I want to try something.”
I continue to watch the other cores for a few hours, Maric seems to be training Adair about like you would expect for teacher and student, while Laura seems to be taking a complete hands off approach with Phobos like Madam Erin did with me, and Dyson….Dyson I am still not too sure about, a lot he is seeming to do doesn’t make much sense to me, but I out of the three training cores Queen has begun to actually build xp instead of barely breaking even.
After a short while Lilah informs me of approaching adventurer’s to the dungeon, I check the screens and try beginning my experiment. After the adventurers enter the dungeon, and Lilah manages to chase them out I finish.
It’s going to take a few more tries but its looking promising. My experiment cost me 2000 xp but I have added 2 large areas connected to the dungeon along the trail leading up the mountain to the dungeon. A few more and I might be able to start connecting the lake to the dungeon.
Lilah asks me why I added the areas, and why I waited till the adventurers are there. I told her I am just preparing for the future. When Belinda returns that evening she looks rather tired, but is in a good mood.
“I guess you didn’t have any problem with the man from the capital?”
Belinda: “Well about that… I am not sure if it’s good news or bad news, but since it’s been about a year since the dungeon has been discovered, he gave the dungeon a classification.”
“Well was the classification bad or something?
Belinda: “It depends on how you look at it, we are classified as a beginner ranked dungeon, so the people coming here shouldn’t change, but if we are looking to start attracting stronger adventurers to gather more xp it doesn’t look good.”
“Well if my experiment I am trying works out, we might not have to worry too much about the adventurers for a while.”
Belinda: “I see the new areas…What is it you are trying to do? Are you trying to put the lake in the dungeon?”
Lilah: “Master is only expanding it when adventurers are present.”
Belinda: “I thought you couldn’t do that?”
“I still got to check a few more things out before I know if it’s going to work, so we will just have to wait and see.”
Lilah leaves the core room early to spend her xp in her room, But returns just before Belinda leaves.
Lilah: “Lilah only spent half of the xp. Can Lilah save the rest for later?”
“It’s your xp, do with it what you will.”
Belinda: “Why don’t you show me what you did to it?”
Lilah smiles brightly and says. “Ok.” Then they both leave the room.
Just before I head to bed I watch another battle between Dyson and Queen. The leader of the invading humans has with him a mythril sword, but even with it Queen’s group manages to defeat the invaders.
After grabbing up the mythril sword she leaves the rest of the gear to one of the surviving humans she had helping to defend her dungeon. She has one of the commissions she took from the adventurer’s guild and holds it out to him, but before he manages to grab it she pulls it back.
Queen: “Like I promised this is yours, and you can walk on out of here never looking back, or you finish out the month here, and I will give you 100 gold.”
Man: “100 gold?… What’s the catch?”
Queen: “No catch, you fight like you did today, as long as you live through the month I will give you your bounty, and give you 100 gold. I will even let you keep any equipment you manage to acquire.”
Man: “Make it 150 gold and I will do it.”
Dyson returns to her dungeon shortly after while the surviving human greedily looks though the loot he has acquired, and Dyson gives Queen 18 hours to prepare for the next battle.
Over the course of the next few days the training of the new cores progresses, Maric starts taking a very hands on approach with Adair, while Laura still maintains quite a distance from Phobos although she has started to interact with him more.
Queen continues to use humans who have bounties on their heads as recruits for her dungeon, with only a small portion manage to live their first day, and the ones that stay for the huge amounts of compensation don’t last but a few days at most.
Dyson doesn’t seem to directly assist Queen, but I have watched as he personally places new bounty commissions, and seems to influence Queen indirectly through other humans in his dungeon.
Talking with the other judges I so far think Maric looks the most promising for prospects, but Queen will probably end up being the most successful trainee.
I wasn’t able to complete my experiment as well as I hoped outside my dungeon because after adding one more area outside the dungeon down the mountain, I couldn’t place another without adding another floor to the dungeon.
Scylla and Zoey continue to do commission’s in Tobes. I am not sure if Scylla is spending any of her rewards, but Zoey’s gold all seems to be flowing into Denova’s place. One day after looking in on the other cores I head down to Tobes.
Once I enter the adventurer’s guild I bump into Scylla and Zoey on their way out.
Zoey: “Hey boss, we can’t really stay to chat. We just got a commission we got to take care of.”
Zoey then heads out the door.
Scylla: “Sorry master, it’s not really that big of a rush, but Zoey is out of gold again, and if she doesn’t complete at least 2 more commissions today she is not going to be able to stop off at Denova’s this evening…”
Zoey: “Scylla! Hurry we are running out of time!”
Scylla sighs then after nodding to me she heads out the door to catch up with Zoey. The girl’s commotion causes Belinda notice me enter the adventurer’s guild, and she quickly heads over to meet with me.
Belinda: “Hey, you didn’t tell me you were going to stop by today.”
“Is it a bad time?”
Belinda: “No, actually on the contrary.”
We head over to one of the tables and she asks me to sit while she returns to the counter, and gathers a couple large parchments bringing them to the table with her. Spreading them across the table they seem to be plots of land.
Belinda: “I finally gathered that information you were looking for unless you weren’t serious about building a house here in Tobes.”
“Oh, alright, let’s have a look.”
Belinda shows me three separate plots of land she was able to put together. One is in the far side of town in part of the new developing area. It seems to be the cheapest and the largest, but she appears try to hide it due to the proximity it has to Denova’s place.
The second plot of land is the most expensive and the smallest, but it also already has a small house built on it, Belinda tells me that it is right in the middle of town like I asked for, but the house and land doesn’t seem to big enough to house me and all the girls.
The third plot of land is connected to a unfinished street that now runs behind the inn, the land is unworked and is still part of the forest, but with a little extra work it seems to be the best bet.
Belinda: “I think all three will work, but it all depends on the size of house you want to build.”
“I haven’t really thought about it. I mean for the most part it is just going to serve as a place we can leave from without raising suspicion from the people of Tobes, but I figure it will have to at least appear big enough to house you, me, and all the girls. It also might not hurt to add a few more rooms just to be on the safe side.”
Belinda: “That wouldn’t be a house… that would be more like a small manor… Well if that’s the case this one is definitely out.” –She says while removing the parchment of the house in the center of town. – “I really hope you will consider the one behind the inn though, it is closer to most of the businesses I own…”
“And is a long way from Denova?”
Belinda: “I didn’t say that, but even though it would take a bit more work, and gold to set up, it is also the closest to the dungeon.”
“Being near the inn is a plus since that is where the adventurers always stay, but all the other buildings around are businesses and residential areas are a bit of a distance away.”
Belinda: “You make it sound like you plan on invading Tobes with dungeon monsters or something. You’re not are you?”
“Of course not, but if I start adding parts of Tobes to the dungeon area, the best places for it to be would be where humans sleep at night, not just where they are during the day.”
Belinda: “How are you planning on connecting the dungeon all the way from the mountain down here in Tobes?”
“If all the things go well with the elder selection, I plan on using the imitation core, to set up a secondary dungeon, and will use Tobes as the ground floor.”
Belinda: “Can you do that?”
“I don’t see why not, many dungeons have towns or cities surrounding or on top of their dungeons. I planned to do this from the start but the cave was a lot further from Tobes then I originally thought.”
Belinda: “But I thought you couldn’t add rooms if there are humans in the area?”
“That’s where my experiment came in up at the dungeon. I tried placing a room under the feet of adventurer’s as they entered or exited the dungeon. I wasn’t able to try all that I wanted, but I think as long as I don’t try to build anything in the area, and just expand the dungeon area I should be able to spread the dungeon throughout Tobes.”
Belinda: “Are you sure this is going to work? If we do this it’s going to use up all of the gold I have been saving up… It seems like such a waste for just fooling the villagers…”
“You can monitor the dungeon from anywhere within the dungeon, it just much easier from the core room. With Lilah taking over most of the work in the core room, I could probably use a bedroom of my own.”
Belinda: “You mean we could actually live in it?”
“Well why not?”
Belinda: “Oh just to have a window again… I didn’t realize how living in the dungeon would affect you, but it was starting to feel like I was locked in a prison… But what about the rooms we got? You spent so much xp on them.”
“Well I set it up where it was close enough to the rest of the dungeon with just adding a door I can connect them to the rest of the dungeon and repurpose the rooms.
Belinda: “Alright, I will get this set up, and working on it, leave it to me.”
Belinda gets up giving me a quick kiss then heads back to her work, and I decide to head back to the dungeon.
Over the course of the next two weeks things progress pretty slowly. The land Belinda purchased is finally clear of trees and they are beginning the ground work now, which is quite a bit slower than I anticipated.
The training of the new cores is coming along rather well, and Adair seems to have really begun to do much better than he was before.
Phobos is struggling pretty hard, and he loses as many matches as he wins. It seems Laura is beginning to move, I have noticed her do a few questionable things regarding Phobos’s training, but nothing serious enough to get worked up over.
Queen has managed to put quite a few rifts in her dungeon now, and is not able to pull in as many humans as she was, but the gear she has acquired from the humans that Dyson has sent into her dungeon is quite good. It’s pretty close between her and Adair now, as to who will be the most successful new core.
Bless is still dead set against Dyson becoming the next elder, but has still been unable to find anything to get him removed from the elder selection. Bella has pointed out all of the questionable things Laura has done even telling us of things I didn’t see, but again not enough to remove her.
Greaks hasn’t seen anything unusual happening with Maric, but I am still not convinced. Simon has been keeping a pretty close eye on Laura and feels mostly the same way as I do, but he is starting to lean more in favor of Bella’s standpoint on it.
With Laura’s questionable acts and Phobos not progressing very well it looks pretty grim for Laura to become the next elder so I focus more on the other two. Simon also agrees so he begins to focus more on the others as well.
The trips to meet with the other judges at the end of each week has turned into just filling in the elders, as we have managed to keep each other informed though [Communication]. When the elders first learned of the group communication they were as shocked as the other judges were when we first started to use it.
The elders press me for information on how I started it, but I can’t replicate it with anyone, and I can’t open a new one, so I can’t help them. They eventually determine it must just because of the way they are handling the elder selection, as apparently new options become available in [Menu] every so often.
When I return from my meeting with the other judges and elders one week before the end of the month Zoey asks to come to the core room.
Zoey: “Hey boss…Can I ask you for a favor?”
“…That depends on the favor I guess.”
Zoey: “Well you gave xp to Lilah a few weeks ago, so you think I could use some xp?”
“That depends on how much, and what for.”
Zoey: “I don’t need but 25xp… 75xp tops.”
“That doesn’t sound like it would be too hard, but what do you want it for?”
Zoey: “…Lilah said you didn’t ask her what she would spend it on…”
“Well Lilah is not going to use it to summon a lover, and if it’s something you plan on taking down into Tobes I need to make sure it’s not going to cause any suspicion to us.”
Zoey awkwardly laughs and says. “Of course boss… I was just going to summon a kobold, you know to get that 25 gold commission that Denova placed…”
“You mean the one for the female captive monster? Is that commission still up?”
Zoey: “I asked Scar about it, and she said Denova is still willing to pay if someone manages to bring her one.”
“I am sure there are a lot easier ways to come up with 25 gold.”
Zoey: “So does that mean I can’t have it?”
“I don’t think it’s a good idea to take a monster into town even if it is under our control, especially to sell it as a sex slave. I couldn’t even imagine what Belinda would say about that…”
Zoey slumps her shoulders then transfers out of the room. That evening when Belinda returns to the dungeon she asks me.
Belinda: “Did Zoey ask you for xp today?”
Belinda: “She told me she needed a small amount of xp to complete a commission, but when she asked you, you told her no.”
“Did she tell you which one?”
Belinda: “Well no, but I thought we were doing ok on xp now? She said she needed less than 100xp.”
“It was Denova’s commission she wanted to take.”
Belinda: “You’re kidding? What was she thinking? Uh-oh…”
Belinda: “Where is Lilah?”
“She went down to Tobes a little bit ago with Zoey and Scylla. She said Zoey promised her something.”
Belinda: “Are you sure it was just the three of them, and Scylla was with them?”
“Well that’s what they said… I saw the three of them head down the mountain.”
Belinda moves over to the desk and removes a screen from behind it looking at the rooms. Ike and Bo are in their room, Lilah and Zoey’s rooms are empty, and Scylla is reading a book in her room. Belinda quickly transfers Scylla startling her.
Scylla: “Master, Belinda? What’s the matter?”
Belinda: “Did you not go to Tobes with Lilah and Zoey?”
Scylla: “They didn’t ask me.”
Belinda quickly opens [Menu].
Belinda: “I didn’t see them on the way up they must already be in town…” –she sighs- “I am sorry Two-Twelve it’s my fault…”
After looking at the monster screen I see what Belinda means. There is a kobold named Lulu who is not present in the dungeon.
“How did she summon a monster without permission?”
Belinda: “Lilah still had xp left from what you gave her for her room, and you set it where she could use it for whatever she wanted. I told Zoey, if she needed the xp that bad to ask Lilah, and maybe they could work something out…”
“We better get down there and try to fix this…”
Belinda and I quickly head down to Tobes heading straight for Denova’s place. Once arriving we see Lilah sitting across the street and she starts to panic.
Lilah: “Master! Belinda too, what are you both doing here?”
Belinda and I both head inside of Denova’s place. Inside Denova is signing a paper she then hands it to Zoey. There is quite a crowd in the room with several of Denova’s girls along with several adventurers standing there looking at a female kobold shackled as it violently struggles against its bonds.
“What are you doing?!”
Zoey is startled and starts to panic…
Denova: “I see you came to admire my purchase as well? If even you two came by to check it out maybe I should hang on to it for a while, and charge a viewing fee.”
“Zoey… You didn’t just sell her a kobold for 25 gold did you?”
Denova: “As a matter of fact she didn’t. We came to another arrangement.”
Denova then hands a key over to Zoey.
Denova: “She seemed awfully fond of old Scar here so I thought a straight up trade would work well for both of us.”
“Zoey, can we talk to you for a moment?”
Denova: “Our deal is done, go right ahead.”
Zoey hangs her head as she approaches and Scar follows her. After we are outside I look over at Scar.
“Can we have a minute?”
Scar takes Zoey’s arm. “Master?”
Zoey blushes with a sheepish grin then nods asking her to go sit over with Lilah.
“What were you thinking? I told you it wasn’t a good idea.”
Zoey: “Yes but you didn’t say I couldn’t do it… Belinda told me to ask Lilah so that’s what I did…”
Belinda: “You manipulated me! You know I wouldn’t have agreed to this.”
“And what do you even plan to do with Scar now? You can’t possibly think you could take her home.”
Zoey: “Why not? I bought her she is mine now.”
“She isn’t a dungeon monster, and she wouldn’t be bound to the dungeon. She would learn too much about the dungeon.”
Zoey: “I will just keep here there then.”
Belinda: ”You can’t be serious? I thought you liked her? Now you are talking about locking her up like a caged animal…”
“Well we will talk about this once we get home, for now Belinda why don’t you take her to the inn getting her a room for now, and I will get Lilah and Zoey back…”
Belinda walks over to Scar talking to her but she shakes her head, and quickly moves back to Zoey.
Scar: “Master, she says I need to go with her, but I want to stay with you…”
Zoey: “its ok, Belinda will set you up a room in the inn for tonight. I told you my situation is a little complicated… I promise though I will come for you first thing in the morning.” –She then takes Scars hands and kisses her.-
Zoey and Scar slowly let go of each other than Scar and Belinda disappear down the street. Lilah, Zoey, and I then begin to head up to the dungeon.
“You know Belinda is not going to let you keep her right?”
Zoey: “But Boss! I worked so hard to get her…”
“And what do you have to say for yourself Lilah? You were there when I told Zoey no earlier.”
Lilah: “But Master saved Lilah. Lilah wanted to help Zoey save Scar.”
We make the rest of the trip in silence and when we arrive in the dungeon I transfer all of us to the core room. Scylla is still sitting there in a core room reading her book, once we enter she sets it down on her lap then looks at the others.
“Oh… Sorry Scylla you can return to your room if you want.”
Scylla looks over to Zoey who is hanging her head low with a sour expression, then Scylla smiles and sits up straight.
Scylla: “If it’s alright master, I would like to stick around for a bit longer.”
Lilah: “Can Lilah go to her room?”
“No Lilah we are waiting on Belinda…”
Lilah hangs her head as well. It only takes 10 or 15 minutes before Belinda can be seen heading up towards the dungeon. Once Belinda arrives in the core room she starts to chew out Zoey and Lilah for being so careless.
After 10 minutes of Belinda ranting at the girls she finally sends them off to their rooms, and Scylla is still sitting in the chair, and when Belinda’s gaze falls on her she quickly says goodnight and retreats herself.
With no one else in the room Belinda collapses onto my bed. Using [Menu] she changes clothes into her normal long nightgown then crawls under the blankets. She then looks up at me from under the blankets.
Belinda: “You know this is entirely your fault right?”
“How so? Besides I though in a way you would be pleased with Zoey for helping her friend.”
Belinda: “Well maybe your right… That is if she really means to help her, and not just keep her as a sex slave all to herself…”
“I don’t think Zoey would really go that far… I am sure she will take her collar off… Eventually.”
Belinda: “Exactly, the question just is how long is that eventually going to take?”
“What are we going to do with Scar until then?”
Belinda: “Well it shouldn’t be any problem for her to stay there at the inn, and I should easily be able to find her a job somewhere in town.”
I check on the other cores before heading to bed which causes Belinda to complain, but once I finally get in bed she quickly wraps her arms and legs around me.
“You do realize this is already the third night this week you have stayed the night in my bed right?”
Without answering she presses her lips against mine kissing me for a few moments she then looks me in the eyes finally saying. “And is that a problem?”
With the look she is giving me it makes it hard to look her in the eyes without the feeling building up in me, so I turn my face while blushing a bit before saying. “I am just saying…”
With a smile Belinda slides her head back down resting it on my chest, and we both slowly drift off to sleep.