Chapter 26 - Reuniting With An Old Acquaintance
What gave him away the most was the unique man signature I remembered as if it was just yesterday. The king before me was the warlord spider that had decided to leave my domain and spare my life decades ago.
He had developed quite well and was of an even higher Tier than me, though if it came to an outright fight between him and my dungeon I was sure I would be able to whittle him down. Anyways, the question now was if I should reveal my personality to him.
I would risk agitating the king and making him kill me or I would be able to get on his good side by unveiling my secret identity. Choices, choices, I pondered the right decision while listening to the announcer.
He told the king and the court of me and informed them of my feat of strength, ridding the Kingdom of a threat. I didn’t know why the King didn’t simply go there himself and make quick work of the beast, but there had to be some other reason why he wasn’t able to.
Once the announcer finished his speech the king addressed me personally.
“Are you the one that has defeated the wuxinglóng and freed the kingdom of his kidnappings”
Somehow I noticed a hint of amusement in the spider's eyes, though the glint quickly shimmered away and I was left wondering if it was mistaken or not. Though not wanting to anger the honor full king I quickly answered anyways.
“Indeed, Royal ruler, I defeated the dragon with my last breath, though I would have died if not for your troops' untimely rescue, for this, I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
The little speech I just presented was a bit embarrassing and quite embellished, but better to be safe than sorry. As I waited for the king's answer I again saw a mischievous shimmer reflect in his faceted eyes. Though this time I was sure that this wasn’t a trick of the mind.
I took a risk and asked the King directly, it would be quite humiliating if the Spider knew all along who I was and was laughing innerly at my foolishness. Before the king could follow up on my previous statement I interrupted him, which earned me the stern gazes of the royal guards.
“Sorry for the interruption, but do we by any chance know each other”
Though it was hardly noticeable on the spider's immobile mimicry, I could see his mouth form a smile. I now was sure that he was the one I assumed him to be and he wanted to see if I would remember him.
It was a good sign till now that the spider didn’t immediately kill me even though he knew of my true identity. So I assumed that the aggression between us was lifted and a thing of the past.
“You finally remembered who I am … Dungeon Core” “It has been a long time since we last saw each other”
After the king uttered these words, silence filled the hall. Luckily, after an awkward eternity, the spider broke the silence and ordered me into a side room. I quickly complied with the king's order, curious about the conversation we were about to have.
Once we were both inside the weaved room made out of spider string and the curtain was closed the conversation began. We started off by explaining to each other how we came to be here together.
I talked about the challenges I had to overcome and how I had to flee my place of birth. The spider King, I now knew to be called Arthur. He began his story after he fled my dungeon.
Not seeing anything good to come by remaining in the vicinity of my dungeon he traveled far. Past the plains that once flourished in the area, we were now. Past the mountains, I once saw in the distance and now knew to be inhabitant by dwarves and gnomes.
Beyond everything I was able to see then, Arthur settled down some distance past the mountain range in a crystal forest. The breeze from the sea creating a clear sky with lots of suns to brighten up the area.
Over the years in the forest and various interactions and clashes with humanoids, Arthur slowly evolved. The nature attribute from before was replaced by light-mana and the interactions with bipedals changed him into a more humanoid form.
He left the area once he reached the peak of Tier 5, close to tier 6 he thought he was ready for the journey to come. The environment couldn’t support his rapid advance and wasn’t optimal for founding a spider swarm.
With his new spider-Humanoid hybrid form, the aranea, he dared risked the adventurous journey back to the place he was born, the lost crater. Throughout his travel he was with one challenge after another and thought his previous belief, that he was one of the most powerful, to be ridiculous and foolish.
After a year of travel, he arrived at his place of birth, though now at Tier 6. The adventurous travel had hardened him and gave him the look of a veteran, though he still wasn’t ready for what he saw before him.
The area he was born in had experienced a drastic makeover. The small mountain range from before had developed into a hellscape of fire and death. Large volcanos spewed forth tons of lava and boulders larger than himself.
Though not everything was for naught, the area surrounding the “portal to hell” flourished. The high heat, rich nutrients, and plentiful mana created a deep jungle telling tales of life, nature, and adventure.
Exactly the thing Arthur was searching for, a perfect environment in which he could grow and develop his own kingdom. At first, everything was great, he quickly climbed to the top predator in a part of the jungle and founded his swarm.
The unique and highly intelligent subrace of aranea was perfect for the environment and his kingdom flourished. Trade was established with various races living in the surroundings and things were looking splendid.
Though everything had to be destroyed. On one cursed day, an object flew down from the sky. With an earthshattering rumble and sky splintering screech it crashed into the largest volcano. The resulting explosion tore trees out of the ground like they were blades of grass, catapulted boulders into the air larger than some hills, and sent out a burning shockwave, cooking all the animals in the jungle.
On this fateful day, Arthur’s love was killed and the spider king was toppled from his throne. After months of remorse and grieve he picked himself up again, the encouraging last words from his wife motivating him to start anew.
Though his fast rise was again halted. The colossal explosion had lured in a related species of spiders, the driders. The dark counterpart story he told me then was very similar to one I already knew all so well.
At last, he ended his story by summarizing that they now were in a bad position and the rivaling power of the driders was winning the war they fought.
The story he told me was a lot to take in and a minute of silence filled the room after we both finished our tales. Each of us went over the years of adventure, joy, and misery we went through and connected with each other innerly. Both of our stories sounded all too familiar to the other and this strung up a spiritual bond that would last a long time.
Now that we were up to date on each other's adventures and quickly connected with each other, we talked about the here and now. I told him about my little exploration of my surroundings. He told me about his precarious position in the war against the other spider swarm.
After discussing our problems and exchanging tips and lessons we learned on the way I came up with a proposal.
I offered that I would help him get the upper hand on the fight with the driders and get him in a winning position. After I helped him secure a proper position he would help me with my upcoming war against the orcs and delegate a nest to me.
This would then allow both of us to stay in contact and have something that connected us to each other, furthermore, it would provide me with a splendid idea for the 9th zone. After some minor tweaking of the terms, we both agreed.
Our little talk had developed into a long discussion and it was already late. Neither of us was all too tired, though my wounds and Arthur's fleshy body were showing signs of fatigue.
We agreed to meet up again tomorrow and take a look over the war strategies together with other generals and tacticians. Before I could get back to my hanging nest one of the maids led me into my new nest, closer to the palace.
The next day at the meeting the king introduced me and was met with surprisingly few frowning visages. Once he began the discussion, the generals listened attentively, took notes, and changed maps according to the new plans the king drew up.
With the introduction of myself into the equation, someone who could defeat a Tier 8 weak dragon, a lot of things have changed. Both sides only consisted of about two to three Tier 8 creatures, so this changed quite a lot.
Here and there I added my own suggestions and slowly involved myself more and more in the strategization process. Then, before, frowning visages transformed, now following my every word and frivolously taking notes. Even Arthur was surprised with my knowledge and experience in this subject, not falling all too much behind him, even though he specifically evolved into this direction. What he didn’t know though was that I too heavily specialized in the subject and was tutored and mentored by my own creatures.
Over the time of two days, a quite detailed plan was drawn up. Preparations were made and Plan B’s and C’s were developed. Slowly but surely the kingdom was revitalizing, again having hope for victory.
After the plans were designed and the preparation finished, my first personal encounter with the enemies didn’t let me wait for long. On a scouting trip with the king and his personal escort, we were attacked by an assassination party. In retrospect, the party was more of a wounding party, here to heavily or permanently injure the king and die in the process.
They probably would he succeeded with either of the two goals If not for my presence in the fight. The high Tier umbral and dismembering driders were quickly defeated, but not before taking out the majority of the escort.
The driders careless and risky attack was telling me a lot about them. They thought themselves to be in the clear winning position and were taking risks left and right. A clear sign of a young genius tactician or leader, who was always able to win every fight and hadn’t yet learned what it meant to lose.
With something like this I could work with and my confidence in devolving the war quickly rose. The coming week after the assassination, or dismembering- assault, was filled with small skirmishes and battles.
Mostly high Tier individuals exchanged blows and the large force of foot soldiers was held back, both sides still fearing a full-out battle. The enemies were slowly being pushed back and their assaults were getting more desperate the longer the assaults went on.
Throughout all of this, an uneasy feeling developed in my stomach. The quick retreats and the speed with which we were getting the upper hand seemed unreal to me. After sharing my concerns with Arthur he told me that he too felt uneasy about this.
As the war began to heat up and things were getting closer to the all-out battle I and Arthur feverously developed backup and emergency plans and searched for any aces we could find.
Two and a half weeks after my first meeting with Arthur we both found ourselves at the final battleground. The enemies forces were drawing close and the uneasiness was getting to our heads. As both armies stood opposite each other the battle started with the rumbling strings of the cellos.