[Vol. 1 pt. 22] Advanced Tactics
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Before I turned my attention to those shiny rocks in the wall, I had to convert those crystals into aether.

But I was curious about something.

Similar to how the separated backend of the centipede stayed around after converting the main portion of its corpse, I ordered my construct to try and break one of the crystals into smaller parts.

It worked. Well, it worked to some degree. A whole crystal was worth ten aether while the broken, smaller ones were worth anywhere from one to four aether each. They each counted as their own aether-rich item as far as I could tell, too.

The problem was that they didn’t add up to the same total aether as a whole crystal. A whole crystal worth ten aether might break down into two chunks worth four aether each, three pieces worth two aether and one piece worth three, and so on, but they wouldn’t equal ten again. Furthermore, if the crystals were broken into small enough fragments, they would no longer be convertible at all.

Seeing as how aether still wasn’t really a problem, I didn’t care too much. I would rather reach that requirement for converting a certain amount of items than worry about something like missing out on one to three extra aether each time.

Next were the shiny rocks. They might have originally been attached to the cave’s natural walls, but now they were connected to mine. The downside to this was that my dungeon’s wall cut off the golden stones from the rest of the ones embedded inside of the cave’s wall.

It was a surprise that the stones were even hanging from my wall since they looked barely attached to their new base.

Unfortunately, said shiny rocks seemed to only be that at the time. I could not convert them, nothing popped up after I had my construct pull them off of the wall, nor was there any obvious use for them.

There was, however, one chunk of rock that my aurbold seemed interested in above all the others.

She set me down to pick it up, examined it all over, and then seemed to really focus her attention on one spot in it – a crack. She then picked up one of the other rocks that had a jagged edge thin enough to fit inside of the crack and… smashed it into the crack of the first rock.

Remember what I told you before about how mountain kobolds excel at finding high-quality metals and rocks? Well, seeing as how an aurbold is just an evolved mountain kobold, that means that my aurbold was more than capable of detecting something from within the cracked rock.

The result of her work proved her natural instinct correct.

The rock split apart, revealing the core within it.

Bright and golden for the most part, orange and reddish streaks decorated the smooth, spherical core.

Aether-Rich Item: Condensed Firegold
Would you like to convert this item into Aether?
[Yes] [No]

Between my aurbold looking so intensely at the condensed firegold and the need to convert more aether-rich items for that research trait… I didn’t waste any time converting the new item into my aether.

Condensed Firegold Converted
+50 Aether

It gave me way more aether than I was expecting it to. One of the whole crystals only gave me ten aether, but this one “condensed firegold” gave me five times that! Sure, I still wasn’t really good at the whole math thing, but I understood that bigger numbers were better when it came to dungeon points and aether!

My aether pool was already at its new hard cap of one hundred and ten. It would take almost a week for me to run out of aether, and that was only if I didn’t generate any more aether by converting more monsters and items into it.

Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like there were any more of those golden treats hiding inside of the rocks. My aurbold looked each one over but didn’t seem to care.

Oh. Right. I should also tell you that after I converted that first condensed firegold that she – well, she wasn’t very happy with me. Have you ever seen a lizard aurbold pout before? Because, let me tell you, she was trying her best to pout with what facial features she had available. I could also sense how unhappy she was that I converted the rock into aether in the first place.

Of course, she still ended up picking me back up since she no longer had any other special rocks to distract her.

All she needed was me.

And yes, at the time, I did feel a bit jealous over some other rock getting attention when, previously, her attention was always dedicated to me. No, I no longer get jealous because of other rocks.

You have to give my confidence some more time to grow still.

Speaking of growing, I tried to expand the room’s size some more, but… I was too low on dungeon points. All of the expanding and territory claiming was draining my dungeon points far faster than I had realized.

The good news was that one of the entrances to my dungeon was visible from the caved-in tunnel that all of the snakes seemed to be coming from.

Since those snakes seemed to think that my aurbold looked like a tasty snack, all I had to do was order her to sit by the entrance and wait to draw some more enemies in. This might have only led to getting about two of them a day for a few days, but it was enough to prevent the aether from draining too quickly while also building up the dungeon points again.

Admittedly, though, my ambitions outgrew the rate at which I could acquire more aether and dungeon points. I was actually starting to get worried seeing as how there weren’t enough snakes to fully counter the aether I was losing daily. Plus, acquiring the trait I was going for would cost two hundred and fifty dungeon points, but I kept on using all of my dungeon points on expanding my territory.

I needed to either find a way to passively generate enough aether to ensure that there would be no aether issues, or I needed to hope that a new and better source of conversion would arrive.

And so there I was, being held by my aurbold while looking through the research tree again to find any potential traits that I could easily acquire which would also help me out. It seemed like most of the aether-generation-focused traits were attached to the trait I was already going for, though.

Then, while I was looking through traits…

“Hey, the map doesn’t say that there should be these walls here.”