[Arc 3] Chapter 21: The Dungeon Core Seller
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And off with this part...

"Garami, are you... Hell's bell! What is this stench!?" - Blot

Oh, I've got company. I placed the dismantling knife at the table and took a break to welcome him.

"What's up?" - Garami

"That is my line! What is this mess!?" - Blot

"Vile Viper-dismantling." - Garami

I'm working on the snake that Lily had killed two days ago (with some secret help) and my [Dismantling] skill. It's reached Lv.28 already~. Snakes are always profitable regarding EXP and skill proficiency~.

Eh? Not going to the auction? WHY WOULD I!? They're selling Skill Scrolls now, SKILL SCROLLS! I'm not gonna get hit with another Waning, thank you very much! *Hmph!*

"O... okay... Are you ready for tomorrow?" - Blot

"For capturing the target?" - Garami

"Yes, the infamous Dungeon Core seller. Either capture him or kill him. Just don't let him escape." - Blot

Radical! Is there a need to go that far?

"Remember, we must stop this guy from distributing more Dungeon Cores." - Blot

"Wait, why's that so important again?" - Garami

"Did you forget... no, I forgot to tell you about it." - Blot

Probably. There was a Filyn in a bikini close by when you tried to explain.

"If we allow someone capable of distributing Dungeon Cores to roam free, those Cores may find their way to the Demon King. We are lucky they are still only known to the local region, but sooner or later..." - Blot

"Even Solomar will hear about it." - Garami

"Yes. The Demon King is the Dungeon Master of the Demon King's Castle, a title that is inherited by generations of Kings now. And that bastard would gladly betray the vow of the previous kings and commandeer other Dungeons instead of being good with the Castle alone." - Blot

Roger that... wait, what did that damn Glasses say!?

"Then, we are counting on you tomorrow." - Blot

And... he disappeared before I could ask him. 

...Dungeons are inheritable. Didn't know that. And how old was Solomar again? A few millennia? And the castle's been there for an equally long time... does the Dungeon stats work on the guys who inherited the thing? If it's been there for so long, then, won't it have A-rank stats across the board even without adding new Territories to the Dungeon?

...I think I wanna quit this job.

"Garami! We're back!" - Lily

"And with presents from Lady Filyn. The Skill Scroll for [Holy Resistance].  She mentioned something about you being able to share skills with the undead you create, so..." - Noire

...We-well, some perks come with the job... I'll stick around.

---

The next day, at the Relic Auction Hall:

"Then, for the next item-" 

I could hear the auctioneer introducing the next item, but that's nothing to do with me. I'm sneaking around backstage to look for the Dungeon Core. They've got some nasty security here, but honestly, it's just half a notch better than the mansion from two-days ago. Maybe I should let Blot know that developing security systems could be usable? But then I would reduce my own success-rate if they do, so no.

The storage room for the items-to-be-sold is guarded by some huge guys that look like they've got a "Bodybuilder" class or something. They look like all brawn and no brains, meaning they should be easy to sneak around. Not that I wanna fight them. I bet they could tear apart a Zahhak with their bare hands.

And the door to the room is a gigantic vault-door!  I'm not gonna that thing with brute force. Therefore, I kept myself on the roof, upside-down like some spider, and waited. Before long, a group of people came to retrieve the next item to be auctioned, so I snuck inside when they opened the door. Infiltration accomplished! 

...I shouldn't have called this place a "storage room". It feels more like a museum. All the different items are placed as if they're displayed in one at least. The fact that the "Relics" are mostly items with great historical value further increases that feeling.

There's stuff other than paintings and sculptures though. Weapons and armors, all of the Ex-rarity! Some look damn useful, like these knives or this staff. There are even outfits that are replicated after famous heroes, even their abilities! At least, that's what these signboards are saying...

There's a devil inside me to just snatch some of these things, but I'm bound to be busted. All these items are covered with anti-theft spells. Not even I can take them that easily. Not to mention that I would be busted the moment I showed these items to the public. They're all that unique...

But thievery's not the reason why I'm here! I gotta find that Core, and by extension, clues about the seller's identity.

As I inspected the items, I noticed that the items already taken to the hall were all those that were placed close to the entrance. Following that logic, the Dungeon Core scheduled for the latter parts of the auction should be found at the deepest part of this area. 

While enjoying the stories written on the signboards as I walked, I found the Core at the end of the room, as expected... huh? What's up with this dirty-grey color? It's far from my own Core, both before- and after I made the Dungeon. 

Let's see... "A Dungeon Core that will create a Dungeon that is specialized with the Wood attribute"... get outta here! There's nothing "green" about this thing! I'm not Identifying it outta fear of triggering the anti-theft spells, but I can see from the color that this Core has nothing to do with trees and flowers! Identify the goods you are selling, damn amateur auctioneers!!

Oh, whatever. I got a name, so let's regroup with the others...

---

Outside the auction hall:

What a way to treat an Assassin!!

After I reported the info I found to Filyn and Blot, they knew who the seller was. This "Eric Eligor" is a former adventurer with a Priest class, but after taking a nasty wound and turned handicapped, he stopped his adventuring and went the merchant-road instead. 

Oh, and Priests are simply Warlocks in a positive light. Probably more correct to say that their Karma Value is positive. They're not recovery-specialists. That's the Cleric class's work. And healing spells and potions need to be applied right away to escape lasting damage, plus only those of a high rarity and/or skill level will help against the worse damage.

Back to Eligor, he's been a pain to Blot's business plans. The lawful ones, except that he operates them under a false identity to not get caught by the Demon King. In any case, this Eligor has gone past the level of being "irritating" to "let's take 'im down!".

Sorry, old man, but you've unintentionally bought a fight with an evil organization. I pray you'll have better luck in your next life.

It was easy to find him. He was in the auction hall after all. Gonna ask for the cash they got for the Core right away, ay? Or, so I thought, but the old geezer left the auction hall without making a single bid. 

I followed him from a distance, as I wanted to know what his deal is, and where he's living... why's he not having any guards? He's a (suspicious) merchant, so shouldn't he have some sorta protection? Maybe he's a cheapskate? Or his pride as a former adventurer...? Who knows.

I saw him taking a rickshaw-like vehicle, but the wheels seem to be customized for the sandy town. To prevent from being spotted, I followed them from the rooftops... heck, I feel like a bonafide Assassin now. Either that, or a thief, or at worst, a street rat. 

The stalking went on for a while as I didn't wanna kill him publicly in broad daylight. I'm living close by, so I want my rep in this city to be as good as I can have it. 

After a while, a good hour or so, the rickshaw stopped and let the old merchant off, somewhere close to the eastern walls. Damn, did he just wanna go on a pleasure trip? The merchant walked away from the road and into a side alley that was close to the city walls. He started feeling up the walls, until... a secret switch?! Get outta here!

The switch opened up a secret door in the wall. A hideout? Or... a secret exit? Don't tell me he noticed me... right? I may have gotten a little cocky after all my sneaky successes lately, but I'm sure I didn't do anything to get caught.

Having no other choice, I followed the merchant into the wall while keeping my stealth-skills on max... and it was an exit. Damn, is he trying to leave the city? I should have taken care of him the moment he stepped into the alleyway. 

The old man walked with a speed you wouldn't believe was possible for a normal human like him at that age. Grr, things are bound to get troublesome if I let him leave, so let's take care of him.

The moment the old merchant reached the outside of the wall, I used the Assassin Art "Quick Death" and [Blink] to instantly cut the merchant's throat as he was blinded by the sunlight after exiting the tunnel. 

The desert sand was covered with the merchant's blood, but I didn't have the time to observe the red fountain. I took a quick look and hid behind an especially large rock to avoid counter-attacks from potential allies of the merchant that were waiting for him. [Presence Perception] did say that there was no one here, but you never know...

Hmm, empty. It's just me and the merchant here. Old man, you shouldn't go out into the desert without the right equipment. Not that he can hear me-

"Oh my, that is not kind of you to do." - Eligor

!?!? He-he's alive!?

I looked at the old merchant who was still bleeding from his neck... no, the wound's closing? It looks like it's regenerating on its own, without the help of items or spells.

"Now, where are you, you little weasel?" - Eligor

...It doesn't seem like he knows where I'm hiding. Is it only a high regenerative power? 

...I took a quick look at the guy with [Empyrean Eyes] and saw that his body had some strange, orb-like cluster with aether. One on each of his shoulders and one on each of his hips. Did he keep them hidden with a skill until now? And where have I...

I activated the Ghost Magic, "Whispers from the Shadows". It's something that sends your voice all over the place, similar to when a ghost is talking. 

"Using Cores on your own body, are you mad?" - Garami

The voice came from all directions and it was filtered so you wouldn't understand who was talking. I think it's a trial figuring out what is talking.

"Hmm, I will answer that question of yours as a reward for being able to harm me; yes, my body has received the blessings of the great lord of Chaos. Thanks to them, I can withstand even as horrid damage as this," the old merchant told, pointing at the now-closed wound on his neck.

Curious about his words, I Identified his status page, but no info regarding the Dungeon Cores came up. Not that surprising, since the power-ups werewolf had weren't displayed either. What did surprise me is that the merchant's Main Class is "Chaos Warlock" instead of a Priest-class. 

If I remember right, then Dungeons are made by the power of Chaos. So, after getting wounded, the former Priest somehow got enough negative Karma Value that made him lose or replace his Priest class with a Warlock class and started worshiping this "great lord of Chaos". He could refer to the Ultimate God himself, or it could be some subordinate God who's got the authority to give out Cores or something.

Eh, whatever.  In any case, they can't spread Dungeon Cores without this guy, so killing him here will stop the distribution of Cores. 

I used [Fartalk] to silently give orders to the Possession Ghosts that are possessing my Accessories at the moment. After a while, a flood of support spells was applied to me, drastically improving my stats and attack power. Now to-

*CRASH!*

Whoa!? The old man threw out a punch and the force of it was enough to smash half the boulder that I was hiding behind! Luckily, he got the wrong half.

"O-hohoho! You panicked there, didn't you?" - Eligor

C-crap, did he notice the magic spells? Is his detection-abilities just strong enough to pierce my stealth when I take a big enough of an action? Or is it that my stealth got weaker as I prepared to attack?

A-a-anyway, time to attack! You can never go wrong with attacking! Charge!!

"There you are! Now come and-" - Eligor

Sucker!

The old merchant tried to greet me with another of those k*meh*me-h* punches, but I didn't charge at him. Instead, I jumped onto the city wall and used a thread to hang on. It's the same trick I used to keep myself upside-down on the auction hall roof earlier today. And the old merchant...

Is holding his left shoulder with an expression of pain.

Assassination Art: Killer Needle. It's a throwing technique that's limited to needles, but it makes the thrown needle almost invisible for the naked eye and increases its power, which was already pretty impressive thanks to [Shooting]. Coupled with the extra correction thanks to the new skill, [Sniping], which I got by merging [Vital Point Knowledge] and [Aiming], and the damage is guaranteed. 

As expected, the implanted Dungeon Core isn't giving him the same abilities as if he was a Dungeon Master. Identification revealed that all of his "basic stats" except INT and LUC had been reduced by a quarter with the destruction of the left shoulder-Core. 

"Let's take care of the next one!", is what I wanted to do, but the old Warlock started to run up the wall. What gives!? Escape!

I used [Blink] to get away, just before the Warlock crushed a huge chunk of the wall with his fist. After that, I kicked the wall and landed on the ground. The Warlock's coming right after me, so taste a Chaotic Zahhak!! ...What!?

The Warlock, without even flinching at the dragon-heads, gave each of them a punch that destroyed the dragon-heads. What's wrong with that geezer!?!? There's no way he's handicapped! 

Needles to say, I ran. Using Genocide Drive and everything. But this old fart, he's fast enough to almost catch up to me even with Genocide Drive active!

Okay, I can't run. The moment I show weakness due to Genocide Drive's high costs, I'm gonna eat one of those killer-punches straight to the face!

Therefore, I stopped running and faced the Warlock with Carnwennan in hand. The Warlock looked surprised but didn't stop running at me with his fist ready. Steady, steady... now! "Flank Parry!"

The Self-Defense Art worked perfectly and the Warlock lost his foothold as he slipped past me, as if he's suddenly standing on an oiled floor. Not wasting the chance, I slashed at his right hip and destroyed the Core located there.

The Warlock forced his mouth shut to withstand screaming out in pain, then he turned around and attacked me with a swing kick. I barely dodged that! It feels like a giant's ax was swung right above my head! Scary!

The Warlock kept on attacking me, forcing me to use as few movements as possible along with Self-Defense Arts to protect myself while keeping the SP-usage as low as possible. While doing so, I also used the Evil Eye and [Aura of Darkness] to shave off even a little more of this guy's monster-strength. 

Straight left, parry. Upper-kick was met with an Impact Thread and Dark Bullet. Headbutt was dodged. Poison needles were broken with an ax-chop. Magic blasts were blown away with a roar. Ailment-attacks? I get some in, but the ailments aren't kicking in. I tried to [Bind] the guy in desperation, but nope. 

It's taking my best just to fend this damn geezer off! I'm using so many skills and spells now that my normally untouchable MP has reached the 20% mark! SP? Still got around 40% left, but it's decreasing by the second. And the [HP Auto-Recovery] is also struggling with the damage from the shockwaves from this guy's attacks.

I'm trying my best here, but this guy's scary! I'm feeling like dodging punches that are powered-up by a jet engine! And here comes another one of those devil-straights! 

The Warlock's left fist came at me... but a sharp *Crack!* was heard. The Warlock shouted out in pain as I backed away with [Blink]. Hey, that's my first backing with that skill!

While I was thinking about stupid stuff, the Warlock turned around and saw the Phantom. The one created by my [Necro Arts] skill.

I first learned about it from the books written by Jill Jimson. It's a special Attack Skill that allows Necromancer to create a Phantom, a fake undead created solely from mana, designed after the blueprints you have created with the [Necromancy] skill. The bad point is that they're unstable and they only last for a single attack, but since they can pop up from anywhere, they're damn nice for a surprise attack. And the Parallel Minds can generate the Phantoms on their own, plus I don't need to use Materials for the Phantom.

Only the left hip remaining! It was the Warlock who tried to escape this time, but no way I'm letting you away... my legs. My legs! I can't move them! Crap, did I place too much stress on them?

Plan B then! I took out some bottles from the Storage and threw them at the Warlock with [Shooting]. And... they got smashed. Thank you very much! 

I used [Liquid Control] on the contents of the bottles, which was some of the high-potent poison that I had extracted from the Vile Viper yesterday. The toxic floated in the air and plastered itself onto the Warlock's face and turning it to... something that shouldn't be described in a web novel or any other places, for the sake of the reader's mental health. 

But even with that, the Warlock was recovering from the damage. The intense pain (understatement) is distracting him though, so I fired a [Chaotic Bullet] at the last core, shattering it like the rest.

At the same time as the final Core was reduced to dust, the Warlock stopped in his track, like someone had pushed the pause-button on him. Then, like a doll whose strings were cut, the Warlock collapsed onto the ground. Some parts of his body had started to disintegrate into a black, dust-like substance. 

F-finally... the battle didn't take more than a few minutes, but I'm dead tired. So much that I can't stand straight. It's been a while since I've felt death breathing in my neck like this... 

Give me five... no, ten minutes... or hours...

SYSTEM MESSAGE:

Level has increased. Reached Lv.18

You have earned a total of 0.8 Skill Points

Due to "Champion of Alvatria", an additional 0.8 Skill Points earned.

Several Skills have reached their maximum skill level. Skill evolutions are now unlocked.

Acquired title: [Villain Killer].

Acquired title: [Dungeon Ruler].

Assimilating titles: [Dungeon Master] and [Dungeon Raider] into [Dungeon Ruler].

Gueh?! Lots of stuff came up! Rather, too much stuff!

DUNGEON MESSAGE:

The Dungeon has leveled up. Reached D-Lv.6

The Dungeon's CP-limit has increased by 100.

The Dungeon's FP-limit has increased by 10.

Acquired 5 DP due to level-up.

You have subjugated Pseudo-Dungeon Master: Eric Eligor.

Acquired 1*5 DP.

Through becoming a [Dungeon Ruler], a new bonus can be chosen for the Dungeon.

Here too!? Wait, 1 multiplied with 5? As in the amount of Dungeon Cores... no, that's one too few... was the one sold on the auction also counting? That would explain the strange color of it...

Eh, whatever. Now I wanna rest. Distributing DP and choosing bonuses can be done later...

Rather, I can't even stand up now! The recovery from the level-ups are there, but I'm mentally weak after that intense battle. Geeze, guys who won't die even after I kill them are the worst! Guess Iron's type is my archnemesis...

*Pop*

......Uhh... what are you doing here, Desert Cleaner, popping outta the sand like that... he ate the Warlock!? Oh, he's dirtying the desert? Fine... hey! Did you wait for me to kill that guy so you wouldn't need to? That's cheating! I wanna be compensated! 

Huh? An amulet?

Name: Desert Traveler's Amulet
Item Type: Accessory (Amulet) Rarity: Ex Quality: B Durability: --/--
Owner: Garami
Effects:
  • Improved natural HP-, MP-, and SP- recovery while in the desert.
  • Increased resistance to Sand attribute attacks: [Normal]
Description:

An amulet granted by the Traveler of the Desert. It is made of rock and has a carving on it that pictures the Traveler, hand-made by the same creature. 

This item is only given by those that the Traveler judges as good-hearted friends. It is the proof of the bonds between the owner and the Traveler

...Okay, this is kinda what I wanted, but also something I would never imagine I would get... you're an easy-going guy, right? Mind taking me to the city gates? I can't move... or rather, get someone over here! I fear that I'm gonna get crushed by those tendrils if you're not careful!

Kigal-Note/Titles: Dungeon Ruler

Title Name: Dungeon Ruler
Acquisition condition:
  • Create a Dungeon of your own and have the [Dungeon Master] title.
  • Destroy 3 or more Dungeon Cores.
  • Add 3 or more hostile Dungeon Territories to your own Dungeon.
Effects:
  • Improves natural recovery abilities while in your own Dungeon. [Huge]
  • Improves natural recovery abilities while in a hostile Dungeon. [Normal]
  • Allows advanced management of your own Dungeon. 
Rewards:
  • Bonus reward for the title owner's Dungeon. One of the following options:
    • One new Sub Attribute for your Dungeon.
    • One new, additional Dungeon Type to your Dungeon.
    • One new Monster-line for your Dungeon.
    • 3 Dungeon Points (DP).
Description:

Crap, this guy can rule, destroy, and conquer any Dungeons... I mean, good job! But please, don't harm any more of my poor Dungeons!! 

Further Information:

A title rewarded for a true ruler of Dungeons. It drastically improves one's recovery abilities while in a Dungeon, either one's own or a hostile one, and more advanced options for managing the Dungeon under one's own command becomes possible.

One can name the Dungeon and also name the different Territories, as long as they share the Dungeon's main name. It also becomes possible to allow Sub-Masters to create new subordinates for the Dungeon and allow them to use some functions, including Random Creation.

Mira's comment: Banzai! Banzai! Banzai for the Ruler!!

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