Chapter 24 – The Start Of A Journey
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Chapter 24 - The Start Of A Journey

It has been some time since I finished building the 8th zone and a lot of powerful adventurers had already delved into the new zone. My new concept of Puzzles, Challenges, and fighting found a lot of positive feedback. Now not only were adventurers delving my dungeon but crafters and inventors too. Seeking the rare opportunity to refine their skills through my different challenges. 

At first though the Puzzles and crafting proofed to be quite difficult for my mainstream delvers. They were mostly only skilled in fighting and had close to no experience in crafting, not to talk about puzzles. 

This small change within my dungeon, to more clever obstacles, set off an avalanche of changes throughout the subterranean kingdoms, surrounding my dungeon. With the large number of adventurers needing knowledgeable partners, a need clashed with an empty market. 

Some greedy businessmen didn’t let this opportunity slide by and quickly developed ways to earn some cash for the needy adventurers. Some offered up intelligent slaves, others sold tomes and books of vast knowledge, though the most successful ones were tutor -houses. 

These buildings provided a place to study and learn various subjects without ever having to perform the job that was taught. Though not only did the teachers working there lecture their students in practical subjects but theoretical ones too. 

This idea was very welcome among, not only the adventurers and later also nobles, but the peasants also desperately tried to get their children accepted into one. These new, knowledge-oriented, changes in society brought with it a rapid advancement in science and technology. 

Because the dwarfs were the first to introduce this new system, which they named school, the power-stability was losing its strong foundation. The two alpha kingdoms around the dungeon, the dwarfs and the Draugr, normally were at a stalemate. 

A battle between the two wouldn’t have started because both thoughts that it would end in a total loss on both sides, giving up their superiority to the other smaller kingdoms. But now that the dwarfs’ technological advancement made a large jump, things were looking quite precarious.

Nothing major had yet happened, but there was a certain tension in the air. The only thing stopping both parties from starting a war outright was I. The alliances and terms they had with me would be naught once they started the war, and they knew me to be a very powerful entity that could retaliate if they were this disrespectful. 

While both of the sides were in a stalemate I concentrated on some problems I saw with my dungeon. I had to prepare for any eventuality in which a war could break out within my dungeon and had to take care of some problems that could arise in this scenario. 

With my fixed amount of instances that didn’t allow people of other races to meet each other and get in each other's way, overfilling was a critical problem. To solve this problem, allow the races to speak with each other, if I allowed it, and make the instances more efficient, I developed a new system. 

Now each party entering my dungeon would delve within their own semi-instance. They would be slotted into different lobbies, through which I could decide which races met each other. This was so that the humans on top would not meet up with the subterranean races from below. 

Inside the dungeon zones, the parties would all be separate from each other, excluding any raid zones. But once they entered zones such as the entrance hall or preparation areas, they would share the space with others. Furthermore, if two groups from the same lobby delved into the same dungeon zone they could actually be in the same instance, this was to limit the amount of mana I lost through creating countless instances. 

Overall the new “patch” allowed the delvers to interact with more people more freely while reducing the upkeep I had to pay. 

Though this was not the only thing I changed, I too took a look at all the zones, especially the 8th one. Having had a look at the thousands of thousands of delves through my dungeon I perfected every single floor to allow more people to delve into them and give the adventurers a superior experience. 

While I worked on the different changes and updates I didn’t notice a piece of critical information, that I regretted later on. Only once I had finished with all the changes and went back to my merchant personality, which I had running on autopilot, I went through the various reports. 

Not a lot had changed in the two and a half months that had gone by once I finished my 8th zone. The town on top slowly developed into a small city with quite a lot of economic and militaristic power.

The report though that surprise me quite a bit told me of the increasing number of orc scouts that were seen around exulcastra. This was also something new, the refugee group had finally decided to name the town they lived in, after months of indecisiveness. 

Anyway, the rising number of scouts kicked me back into action mode. It was a mistake to dive down for close to three months and ignore everything around me. This was an error I would try to correct as sure as possible. 

I ordered all my subordinates and troops to imprison any orcish scout squads they found and to try and tighten the perimeter around the small city. I didn’t want to again have to head out and massacre some innocent orcish farms only to calm down the aggregated citizens.

While my troops followed their orders, the adventurers from both entrances explored my new zone, I went out to explore the surroundings myself, especially the area from the orcs. It was finally time to search for the rumored dungeon myself. 

Though the only thing missing to start my adventure was the perfect creature. Going through the thousands of creatures I had and thinking of various situations they would, and would not be, useful in, I decided on something else. 

Instead of deciding on a singular creature that I could only change out of through a long transformation, I decided on something else. This other thing was just a concept I drew up myself and I had not yet seen this thing developed in such a powerful way.

On its most foundational level, the creature I wanted to transform into was a shapeshifter, a form changer, a lycanthrope, or a were- something. The creature in question had various names. Though the solution I was searching for was a mix between all of them, the absolute shapechanger, a Lycamwerifter. 

A creature with no true form, not being able to be born any natural way. Though sadly, during my experimentations and the creation of the first prototype I was met with my first and also biggest problem. 

The lycamwerift was a Tier-10 creature. 

I was unable to create this creature for a long time to come, it wouldn’t matter which position I assigned it to. The most powerful creature I had currently was my minor Nightwalker a Tier 7, the sole boss guarding my core room. 

This was not the maximal strength possible for a creature in my dungeon, which would be my avatar at around Tier 7 peak to a very weak Tier 8 weak. And this would be the only creature from my dungeon that could develop this high, made possible because of two evolution specializing in this. The entrapping trait allowing me to have a creature a full tier above me and my warden trait allowing the creation of an avatar, the manifestation of my soul.

So sadly it would be impossible to create this creature yet. In the meanwhile, I had to go with the weaker version of the original creature, a Tier-8 weak, minuscule lycamwerift. This version was “only” able to change shape into 5 different creatures, for which I chose an elemental human, displacer kantast, Pure nargacuga, boring behir, and a deep aboleth. 

All of those creatures were around Tier 6 to 7 and would make the mix between them all quite formidable. Sadly I was not able to get the lycamwerift’s abilities to stay with the weaker version. Because normally the creature would be able to create hybrids between the chosen races and change their size. 

Nonetheless, I was quite happy with what I brewed up. This creature was truly something that would enable me to adapt to any environment freely and explore my surroundings no matter what. 

I informed all my subordinates of my journey and made sure that I put my dungeon in good hands. Some of my advisors recommended that I should travel with an escort, but I talked down their counsel because I would be more stealthy and faster if I traveled alone. 

My journey would take one month and on it, I would search for three main things, My starting area, the orc dungeon, and any other intelligent races. 

I started my journey from the surface entrance of my dungeon and first of all, got some distance between civilization and me. Once I was sure no one saw me anymore I transformed into a Pure nargacuga increasing my travel speed drastically. 

I flew over the deep forest and was then met with a cliff that split the vibrant jungle from a dark plains biome. Swaths of murky green grass covered a relatively flat hillside. The vast view I got from the biome was randomly dotted with dark rock formations, from which a heavy pitch-black gaseous liquid covered the surroundings. 

I flew down to get a closer look at the intriguing substance and once I touched down the liquidy gas somehow retreated from me. It was not, as I expected, a result of the wind I created. Rather it felt more intentional as if the black gas was scared of me. 

I changed into the shadow attuned kantast, during my transformation into the creature I noticed the shadow getting closer to me. Using my serpentine and tail-like tentacles, I tried to touch the heavy substance. 

Just as I was about to touch it, the gas fled from my touch and created a shaft directly to the grass below, though it was certainly blacker than the other turf. Next, I got closer to the origin of the gas and noticed a particular similarity in how the mana felt around the rock formation. 

The taste reminded me of the dark cave system close to my subterranean dungeon entrance. After thinking about it for a while and going through any possibilities from where this comes from I found a plausible origin. 

I rumored that maybe this gas was the waste product, from the draugrs production and experimentation facilities, that they seemingly pumped into nowhere. I was a bit concerned about what this substance developed into, even showing hints of intelligence but continued my journey. I would delegate the matter to one of my wardens, the area was close enough to my dungeon to warrant ignoring it for just a month. 

Finished with my short pit stop I continued on with my journey. I flew in a straight line towards the figurative border I created, marking the furthest point I would travel in my exploration. 

During the flight, I saw various places of interest. After the dark plains, there was an area of exponentially growing mountains. The one in the center of the area was so large it even touched the mountains. 

Here and there I even saw some hints of civilization and after a quick inspection they turned out to be gnomes and dwarfs that settled down in this fitting environment. 

After this came an area filled with various common biomes of forests, plains, marshes, and Riverlands, nothing special. Though once I got close to the edge of my journey I took sight of something eerie. 

An area filled with a large dark wood forest bordered a bright area filled with high birch trees. Dividing the two forests was a field of death, skeletons of various races wandered the place and the stench of death was visible. 

Through this necrotic hell, a winding road cleared a space free of the monsters. At least once this road would have been free of the skeletons. Now, the sigils and runes of banishment were destroyed or washed away and the abandoned road was once again haunted. 

The things that toped all of this in its interest to me though certainly were what inhabited the two forests. 

Strings of white and shiny silk in the light forest and clusters of dark sticky linen in the other. They reminded me of something that drastically changed my life in the past!!!!

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