Ah, I love my life...
"Garami!! You got-*Splurt*-!?" - Alf
The vampire arrived, only to get knocked out with a nosebleed.
"W-w-w-what are the two of you doing!?" - Alf
"Enjoying life." - Garami
"No, I get that, it's a feast for my eyes, thank you very much, but that's not the point!!" - Alf
Alf had a lecherous look in his eyes, which snapped back to serious-mode after he slapstick himself.
We're currently on the third floor of the first Dungeon, which has been transformed into an Underground Lake-type. I even splurged on some natural lighting that doesn't hurt the undead. And some swimsuits. To all the girls. Including Mira, who was flirting with me just a moment ago, but left in displeasure after seeing the disturbance that just arrived.
What? When you build an underground lake, it's obvious you gotta enjoy it! And no one's in the position to blame me for wanting a break. I mean, this last week has been used solely for Dungeon-building. The result was something like...:
|Dungeon Maker Menu:|
|Domain Size:||11 km²|
Something like this. Seriously, give me a break!! And I mean it!
"Well, fine~," I said, leaving the sunbed as I faced the guy in front of me.
"And more importantly-" - Garami
"Who are you?" I asked the man faking the appearance of Alf, while he was blocking Mira's attack with the spear in his hand.
"...Something on this level is not enough to fool you." - Alf(?)
The man's appearance started to fade like a mirage, and what was left was a large ogre with a well-built body, sharp ogre-horns, and clad in a dark-brown military uniform. He's got an eyepatch over his right eye, along with accessories adorned with runes. The spear that had taken the appearance of Alf's customized halberd was also scribbled with runes.
I know this guy... just from the stories. The ones I was forced to listen to during Regina's drunken rampages.
"And what is the boss of Troopers doing in my place?" I asked the General representing the Earth attribute; Woden Damrung.
"To put it simply, I have work for 'your place'." - Damrung
? Work for... ahh. Customers.
Half an hour later. ??? PoV:
Stupid desert... so dry... so huuuungry...
How long do we need to walk through this hot piece of hell?! I glared at General Damrung's back, channeling every bit of my resent at-
"Alright, scrubs. We've reached our destination." - Damrung
C-crap! I-I didn't glare at you, master General~. *Dry whistling*
"Listen up. You are to attack two Dungeons in the span of one week. Either one is fine, but you have to do it together. No solo-performance is allowed, and trying to gain an upper hand over your teammates is both useless, unnecessary, and will be punished with death." - Damrung
Hiiiie! Why must this ogre be so brutal!?
Us twelve combatants looked at the large stone monument that the General pointed toward. It stretched towards different cardinal directions, making it look like a huge, natural wall.
"Both Dungeons are located inside that piece of rock. A map that shows the entrances will be granted to everyone, but that's it. Remember, the goal is to reach the fourth floor of either Dungeon, and that's all. Good luck, and may as many of you as possible survive." - Damrung
Survive... SURVIVE?! What do you-*Bang!*-, cough, cough, Van Gogh! A smoke bomb!
"Damn... he escaaaapde!!"
"Come on!! Please give us more information if you want us to conquer something like a Dungeon!"
"Even an evil organization has to treat its employees better than thiiiis!!"
Everyone is panicking. Seeing everyone else do it actually calmed me down... not. But it stopped me from shouting out my fears like the others, even if I'm just buckling them up inside me.
"Calm down! The General only told us to arrive on the fourth floor. He said nothing about us needing to lay the place to waste. Dungeons out in the wilderness are never any mentally challenging, so it is just about evading any incoming monsters."
One of the more level-headed combatants calmed us down with his reasoning. Yes, if we are just careful, we may escape this public execution disguised as a test!
As everyone agreed to the combatant's suggestion, we started to make way for the closest Dungeon entrance...
Present time: Garami's PoV
"Hmm, in other words, we're weeding out the slackers?" I asked General Damrung while watching the intruders discussing strategy outside the second Dungeon's entrance through the monitor that's placed in the Mansion. It's one of the special items you can create when Facility reaches rank D. Other types are hand-held devices, which are pretty much iPhones and tablets. You can't play games on them though. Tch.
"It is closer to say we are 'granting the weeds a final chance of redemption'. It is fine if you want to snap their necks and be done with it." - Damrung
Whoaaa, as expected of an evil organization. Worse treatment to the rank-and-file than in a sweatshop...
The two Generals of evil (me and the rune-ogre) looked at the screen while drinking the refreshments given by the Zerbreuses and Dark Elves. I'm normally keeping it more relaxed, but seeing how this guy's a closet pervert, I grabbed some girls that looked bored and had them dressed up as maids.
It's super effective. The ogre has a nosebleed so heavy that it's both endangering his life, the Dungeon's storage of napkins, and it's already extinguished any hopes for this guy to be seen as an evil General. He's more a (lol) General at this point.
"Isn't it more than you want them gone? That's why you did that show before, to make us believe those drop-outs were real invaders." - Mira
Hmm, so that's why. Thank god Mira's got her day off today. Things would take longer if she wasn't here. Still, couldn't you change your clothes at least? The golden-trimmed bikini with a light-blue pareo around your waist is a little distracting when someone with a dynamite body like you is wearing it, even if you got a katana at your hip. And it's super-effective towards me as well!!
However, I'm not gonna say it out loud! My colleague seems to agree. Heck, even I haven't changed outta the silver-colored swimwear from before. At most, I have a black windbreaker on top of it, but that's that! It works to improve our relationship with Trooper's head, so that's good!
Hmm... should I have Mira keep the bikini for tonight's "discussion session" regarding why she should be allowed to spin the gatcha...?
"? Speaking of, what happened to Alf?" - Mira
Alf? Alf... ah, that's right. This guy copied Alf's appearance with those runes of his. Almost forgot. Had more important stuff to think about.
"Alfred Loxley should be at the entrance of this Dungeon. He told me the story beforehand, including you taking over the Ruin-type Dungeon." - Damrung
Oh yeah, this guy is Alf's and Noire's former boss. No wonder... but you're still gonna be punished for going behind my back, Alf! No desserts for a week.
"How did you see through my disguise anyway? My illusion-based runes are rarely broken on the first time." - Damrung
"Experience, good eyes, and intuition." - Garami
Plus the alarm notified me.
"Hey, those guys have started the invasion now." - Mira
Finally! I looked at the screen and saw the combatants, now divided into two parties, entering the cave that's the second Dungeon's entrance.
Ignoring the low-ranked monsters that sometimes visited, this must be the first time either of the two Dungeons has been invaded. The Desert Skeletons don't count, since the Dungeon couldn't be called a "finished product" back then. This is gonna be fun!
"Excuse me, but what is the construction of your Dungeon? Alfred Loxley mentioned something about each Dungeon having a different 'theme' or something?" - Damrung
"Just lean back and watch, then you'll see. The terror of the Swarm Floor, that is." - Garami
After the smarter guys in charge figured out a plan of attack, we split up into two parties and entered the Dungeon. The place is notably damper than the desert outside. Some guys started to talk about the possibility of there being springs inside. I just want a hamburger...
Huh!? A doll? That's manning a stall!?
Everyone looked confused at the strange sight of the doll and its stand, filled with items locked behind solid-looking glass cases.
"Ah! I've heard about this! This is one of those 'Dungeon Shops'! It's something you can only find in Dungeons and you can trade items and money for whatever is sold here!"
"Why would the Dungeon sell stuff to its invaders!?"
"...Then one has to question why there are treasure chests in a Dungeon that the invaders can plunder to get items and weapons."
Everyone started to throw out comments and ideas until one went forward and looked at the merchandise...
"Hey, there's some really good stuff here!"
"Hmm? ...You're right! And they look fairly priced as well."
"Huh? I would have made the stuff as high as possible."
"About that, there are some rumors that say the D.Shop's merchandise are priced according to the Chaos god's appraisal of them."
The last comment was enough for people to throw away their doubt and start buying potions, bottles of water, and most importantly: FOOD!! *Nom, nom, nom...*
"Alright, ladies and germs. We've obtained a good start already, so let's keep this going!"
One of the Party leaders inspired the rest of us, and we walked deeper into the Dungeon.
At the meeting room:
"Why the stall?" - Damrung
"The money that the invaders pay go straight to us. It's also a method to gain popularity with adventurers, making them return to the Dungeon more often, and we get to pawn off the potions Revi keeps on making." - Garami
"Quite the confidence you have, granting the invaders a greater chance in securing the Dungeon." - Damrung
"No, no, not at all. Quite the opposite. Like this, those guys are bound to get cockier thanks to those easy-to-obtain potions. That will make them more likely to fall in a trap." - Garami
"...You have quite the nasty personality." - Damrung
"? Hey, they're getting closer to the floor's real trial. Pay attention." - Garami
Back to the second Dungeon:
"Bleargh! What's this?"
One of the combatants in the front stopped all of a sudden and tried to pick something off his face.
"...Silk? No, a spider-web?"
"Damn. As if these dark, gloomy caves weren't bad enough, spiders?"
Spiders... they don't taste that good. Especially those with venom...
"Incoming enemies!" shouted the front-line warriors suddenly.
Aw, come on! People around me voiced the same disdain as I had. We've had enough with scorpions on the way through the desert! One of the combatants informed us that we're facing a group of Lesser Sandstalkers, the big one in the back is a Cave Scorpion, and the black spider-creature is unknown. It doesn't seem to be that strong though.
"No need for worries! Just stay calm-*Clang!!*-urgh!?"
Right when the leader tried to calm everyone down, he was hit in the back of his head with a washing pan of all things! Why did that happen!?
"...Threads! There's a lot of threads here that activates primitive traps!"
"What are you talking-*Bang!*-guuuhh..."
Ahh, another one got hit. I looked at the fallen combatant and noticed something on his feet... the guy from before was right! It's a thread! It's almost too thin to be seen, but it's definitely a thread!
"Repel the scorpions while watching out for the threads!"
"Grr... fire! Someone, can someone use Fire attribute moves?"
"I can!" I shouted, took a deep breath, and-
And caught the whole tunnel on fire, burning all the small threads that had snared themselves around us......*Cough*...
"Hmm? Didn't you say there was no one with talent in that group?" - Garami
"Let me warn you, that one is not a dragon. If they were, the group would have had casualties by now." - Damrung
"...True there." - Garami
"Also, are you not a little cheap with the floor? The only traps there are the creations of the spider-type monsters." - Damrung
"That's the goal. Some random traps placed haphazardly will cost too much, plus they will be in the way of the swarms of scorpions and spiders. The floor is more of a trial-ground for the monsters while emphasizing on saving Dungeon-resources." - Garami
"Are not the monsters part of those 'resources'?" - Damrung
"They are, but newly-created monsters, or those of too low ranks, don't have that much value." - Garami
"...You fit this line of work more than you think." - Damrung
*Sniff*, it wasn't my fault, it wasn't my fault that the webs were that easy to burn...
The large scorpion and the black spider ran away after that, leaving the weaker, Lesser Sandstalkers (?) behind, so I helped us survive through that pinch! Blaming me is unreasonable!
"Hey, I think that's the staircase."
"Be on guard. Who knows what traps they may spring out on us this time."
Everyone was exhausted by the constant hand-made traps. Isn't this a Dungeon? Use some hidden arrows or tumbling boulders, or a pitfall at least!
We moved slowly towards the stairs, ready for anything... and found nothing. No traps, scorpions, nor spiders. Nothing!
"D-damn, that was tiring..."
"Why did we even think there would be a trap right before the stair anyway?"
"No, with how this floor has treated us, it's more of a surprise that there ain't anything here..."
Yeah... the whole place was filled with spiders, scorpions, and whatever traps and blockades they can build. Many of the female combatants have fainted from the experience alone. I must be tougher than the most... or is my girl-power too low? Please don't let it be that...
"The second FLOOR!!"
"Be quiet! And me as well!"
The first room on the second floor... is empty. Except for another one of those Dungeon Shops. There are even one of those machine-based shops here as well. Those that look like a metal box that's attached to the wall, with flashy buttons that you push on after placing enough money in the opening on the machine. We saw two of them on the first floor, and they saved our lives. The potions they sold, I mean.
"Alright guys, resupply your provisions, and let's get going!!"
No need to tell me twice!
"...Hey, that over there..." started one of the others, pointing at the corner of the room. Some sort of magic circle was placed on the ground, with a pedestal right next to it. A red-purple orb was attached to the pedestal.
"That must be a Return Terminal. It brings us back to the entrance of the Dungeon."
So, we don't need to push ourselves through that gauntlet of crawlers when we want to leave? Perfect!
"That's a strange orb."
"It's supposed to be based on the Dungeon Core, located at the lowest level."
"Then we should look after that then!"
"No, you idiot. We're trying to reach the fourth floor, then try to get out of this place, alive."
"That also works."
After the idiots had stopped fooling around, and everyone had stocked up on potions and items from the Dungeon Stores, we made ourselves ready to restart our Dungeon Dive.
Like we did half-way on the second floor, we started by using fire-based skills and magic to clear the passage for any traps or threads. Nothing. Huh? There aren't any spiders on this floor? Maybe they are deeper in...
"Alright, the first man to the next floOOOOOORRR?!"
What the-!? The guy that charged as a loose Bloodrush Bull stepped on something, which started to suck up some kind of light from the bull-idiot! And he collapsed. HELP HIM!!
One of the combatants that specialized in recovery walked up to the idiot and took a look at him
"...He has Mana-depletion. That light before sucked up his MP."
Oh, just that. No biggie-
"Aw, don't tell me this floor is going to be filled with 'normal' traps this time?"
Aaand they stepped onto another Drain Mine. I just love those things! Not only do they suck up the victim's MP, but it also converts it to CP for me! Too bad I can't have Dungeon monsters step on them for improved CP-gains...
"Ah, another arrow-trap." - Mira
The doofuses started to make funny dance-movements to dodge the Iron Arrows that were shot outta the holes in the wall. It's pure comedy! Okay, maybe not that funny, but I get to see the effect of the traps, and that's putting me in a good mood indeed. Maybe I'll try the gatcha myself later?
"Hmm, from a floor that relies on its inhabitants, to one filled with traps instead. Quite the difference. Dungeons normally have the same theme for each floor." - Damrung
"So I've heard lately. Though, the second floor's traps are only at 50% right now." - Garami
"Taking it easy on them?" - Damrung
"That depends on how you look at it. I'm gonna troll them about it afterward. That they couldn't take over a Dungeon that was going easy on them." - Garami
"Cruel... but it sounds like a good medicine for those slackers." - Damrung
"Garami is a master in both medicines and deadly poisons after all." - Mira
"Really? Then I will leave it to your capable hands... ah. A tumbling boulder." - Damrung
Hey, I'm the one who's gonna be doing the aftercare for those guys afterward? Come on... but, if I can get my hands on some goons with the [Party] skill...
"BOULDER!! TEN O'CLOCK!!"
People ran away from the boulder, giving the shield-users the job of stopping the big rock. After that trap was taken care of... some idiot stepped on another one. Another one of those mana-drainers.
"Be more careful!"
"S-sorry. It's just, my head started to hurt..."
Now that he mentioned it, I'm starting to feel a little dizzy as well. Don't tell me, this is another trap!?
"......Bats! There are bats here!"
One of the combatants shouted such while throwing their weapon towards one of the offsprings on the cavern walls. A big bat flew outta the shadows and fled deeper into the Dungeon.
"Wait, first spiders, and now bats!?"
"Hey, wasn't Dungeons supposed to have one sort of monster-species?"
"In some cases, there may be several different varieties of monsters. That there being bats, spiders, and scorpions in the same Dungeon is not that strange."
The intellectual guy gave us the info we needed again.
"Should we try to lighten more torches? Don't bats hate places with much light?" - ???
"...True. This floor seems to be limited monster-vise for bats who do not step on the traps laid across the floor. There's no need to fear any roamers! Focus on having the bats stay away from us!"
After we ignored the fear of attracting more monsters (in hindsight, the traps already did that), we made more torches and kept the caverns as bright as possible. The bats had a clear dislike for our moves, as we heard them fly away in haste as we made progress through the second floor.
"Stop. That's a bad one."
Of course, even with the extra torches and doubled precaution to where we place our feet, there are some things we can't risk challenging head-on.
One of them is the room right in front of us. Despite all the torches we have, the room is completely drenched in darkness.
"Another Dark Zone... We're going to ignore this path unless thereæs no other options."
We encountered a Dark Zone on the first floor as well, not far from the staircase to the second floor, but like with this one, we made sure to stay clear of it. It's not only the light but smells also turn unrecognizable inside there. At most, you can hear what your comrades are telling you, as long as you're some steps away from them. Too risky to enter.
"Damn, a poison swamp! Let's turn back."
And now we've arrived at a purple swamp. If the color didn't tell us its identity, then the poisonous smell sure does! M-my poor nose...
"Hey, isn't that a Treasure Chest? On the island in the middle of the swamp."
"Forget it. It's not worth the antidotes to get that shabby thing."
True, we did find two Treasure Chests on the first floor, and one on this, but none of them contained any good items. The stuff we bought from the Stores was of way better quality.
We kept on ignoring the more dangerous paths, and soon, we finally saw it: the staircase to the third floor!
"Hmm, they have started to learn from their mistakes." - Damrung
The one-eyed ogre started to look at his subordinates with a more intrigued look in his eyes. Just how bad were they before if their current semi-decent behavior is all that's needed to make him see them in a better light?
We watched as the two parties entered the third floor... and was met with the sight of a gigantic gate that looked like it was carved out of obsidian, blocking anyone from going past it. A pedestal with ten keyholes is placed in front of the gate.
"Now I see. So that is the reason for the mentally and exhausting first two floors." - Damrung
Tch, he already figured out the trick.
The gate is a "Gate of Puzzles". It prevents anyone from going deeper into the Dungeon, except for those with the ten key items, the "pieces of the puzzle" that's spread 'round the last five floors... is the limit for this facility, but since there are only three floors, well, it's limited to those three. And I can't place a key behind the Gate either. And the key items are automatically returned to where they were found, should the invaders be defeated, or they flee the Dungeon.
To make the gate as safe as possible, I've placed the keys in the most forgone places of the trap-labyrinths that are the first- and second floors. The cheap-looking Treasure Chest those guys found before... is a fake. There are three different swamps placed around the second floor, and only one of them contains the key.
The Dark Areas works in the same way, and there's one of them on each floor, but only the one on the first floor has an item hidden inside. Also, there are two Dark Zones on the two first floors, and both are connected to a further room inside. These "secret rooms" contains one Dungeon Store of both types are located, a Spring of Recovery, and a Treasure Chest. The second floor's "secret room" even holds one of the key items for the gate.
As a further precaution, those Dark Zones are connected with Transfer Arrays. Meaning, you enter one Dark Zone, then you exit the Zone on the other floor. And the clincher is that you don't exit into either of the "secret rooms" if you keep on going forward, but instead, you exit to the rest of that floor you've been transported to. It's a trap meant to confuse and tire the invaders even further.
Basically, the second Dungeon is to tire the invaders to the point where they make a mistake, while also being a trial ground for the weaker arachnids on the first floor. There's also supposed to be Cave Scorpions and the Reha Zera-species on the first floor, but I gave the combatants a special service and made them stay clear of the invaders this time around. The second floor is planned to have undeads and poisonous monsters guarding the swamps, but that's a plan for the future.
And even if the invaders manage to gather all the items, the troops on the fourth floor will have more than enough time to prepare a final line of defense in the Large Room that's right after the gate room. Dark Elves that starts the battle with a rain of arrows, Zerbreuses' magic blasts, Lesser Fiends and Ushi-Oni ready to clobber anything that gets too close to the rear line... yeah, you'll feel bad for the invaders at this point.
It seems like the combatants have arrived at the same conclusion. Many of them have fallen to their knees in desperation, some fainted from the revelation, and there's even one who's started to cry... hmm?
"Hey, of what species is that one? The brown-haired one with the red vest." - Garami
"That is Lily. A Growth Chimera that joined the organization after Blot saved her and her people from someone back in Solomar. Not that it has made her any useful. She easily eats for ten, and her status values barely increase, not even with a level-up. Once, she gained a total of 0 points." - Damrung
Zero!? That girl got a rough life... But if she's a kind of chimera, then it explains that weird body of hers. She's got a horn, a lizard tail, and a little fur on her exposed left wrist. Not to mention her eyes have a striking orange color. That's not something you can find that easily among human races, even in this world.
As the icing on the cake, no way a normal human can spit fire as she did on the first floor. Yikes.
"In any case, it seems like they have given up today." - Damrung
The screen showed the combatants using the Return Terminal I had placed in the same room as the Gate. That's more CP for me since the Terminal requires the users to pay a small MP-fee, which is then converted to CP for me. Those related to the Dungeon is free of charge. Rather, we can't pay at all, which means there's no extra CP through that method either! Tch.
In any case, it seems that Revi and Iron won't be getting any action this time around. They both have been waiting in the farm-area that's the fourth floor, gathering monsters from both floors thanks to the Transfer Array I've placed on both Dungeon's fourth floors. A wasted effort. Gotta find a way to thank them for their trouble.
Maybe I'll have Noire take care of their work tomorrow? She just returned to the first Dungeon with the scouts that have the mission of mapping the desert... hmm...
"Looks like today's Dungeon diving is finished. Then, mind if I crash somewhere here?" - Damrung
"Sure... or, could you do me a favor then?" - Garami
"If that is needed. What is this favor of yours?" - Damrung
"Teach those with talents some of those rune-tricks of yours." - Garami
The one-eyed ogre looked surprised for a moment, but he agreed readily. Ku-ku-ku. My army of monsters are gonna improve even more now!
...Growth Chimera, was it? Hmm...