Chapter 35 - Out of this world
As the pain grew to unimaginable heights I sensed a separate instance of my dungeon, which I normally used for experimentation or testing, open up. The tremendous pain I was under found its origin in a colorless miasma forming a large ball in the first zone of the experimentation instance.
The semi-organic object increased in size and I could slowly sense the outline of a creature form from the substance. As the object transformed into some kind of creature the pain I suffered under slowly diminished, allowing me to take a closer look at what was happening in my dungeon.
In the time it took for the creature to form I theorized about the origin of the thing. After a bit of thinking I came to the conclusion that it had to have something to do with the wave of force that emanated when I evolved the bit of mana. Hinting at the connection between the force wave and the strange phenomenon was the similar feeling I got from both of them.
Contrary to the mana which invigorated me and was the closest thing to drugs a dungeon had, the feeling the miasma caused in me was one of utter disgust. Not only this, I even felt a hint of fear rising up from the depths of my core, increasing in intensity the further the miasmas transformation got to completion.
Taking the 6th sense of my instincts into consideration, something I learned to just do and not think about during my earlier years, I moved to act against the phenomenon. Out of fear of the substance wreaking even more chaos if it came into contact with anything alive I opted to contain the phenomenon instead.
While the dark purple substance contorted and stretched in unnatural ways below me, creating disgusting squelching sounds, I created a barrier of mana around it. At first, I took my time, still too interested in what was happening to really concentrate on building the bubble as fast as possible.
Though this quickly changed once the first tendon-like tentacle sprouted from the ball of dark flesh and touched the barrier I build around it. Once the tentacle touched the barrier it backed away like a kid from the hot ovens. Though unlike any of the humanoid kids in the city above my dungeon, instead of learning from its mistake and avoiding the barrier, it is again near the wall of mana.
This time, instead of shunting away in pain or fear, when it came in contact it increased the force on the bubble. At first, nothing happened and I carefully observed the peculiar action, though this changed quite quickly.
Like the spark of a flint lighting the wet embers of a waiting fireplace, something happened to the creature that began to change it rapidly. The slow stretching and writhing from before developed into rapid contortions of the whole organic mass, like the heartbeat of a newborn.
The pulses increased exponentially until the ball of dark goo exploded and cover the mana bubble around it, blocking my view in. My inability to sense what was happening inside the barrier was the first hint I got that there was something wrong and I quickly regretted not fully concentrating on fortifying the barrier.
Like acid corroding the ground, the mana bubble began to grow thinner, until it popped like a soap bubble in the bathhouses. The contorting mass from within had developed into a writhing mass of tentacles, eyes, mouths, and random body parts. While trying to analyze the Tier and name of the creature I was too surprised to evade the wave of gooey matter ambushing me from below.
My incorporeal avatar was pierced by the tentacles and I could feel my vision grow weary. The last I remembered before I faded away was the creature sniffing around the room and after it found what it searched for, quickly making its way further into my dungeon.
I awoke sometime later, my core throbbing in pain, similar to the time after I was ambushed by my ex-diplomats. At least this time there was no crack or split running down my core and ruining my precious body, literally. After ordering my mind I quickly remembered what happened before I fell unconscious and hastily took a look through my dungeon.
The first thing that shocked me was the total absence of any sense in the first 6 zones. It was like they never existed in the first place, though a phantom pain reminded me of my missing “appendages”. The seventh zone was where I found the supposed culprit of my missing limbs. From the 2 (6,5) by 3 (10) meters from before, the creature had grown to a respectable 10 (32) meters in diameter, being equal in size to some of the largest defenders in the 7th zone.
Writhing and contorting the ball of flesh had taken a slightly humanoid form, mixed with the head of an octopus, which also bore the various tentacles and appendages sprouting from its joints. From afar it could easily be mistaken for a ball of flesh, though its form was quite efficient in design for its chaotic origin. And even though the trepidation and fear I felt the closer the creature got to the zone’s end, I could not be amazed by its alien movement and build.
Nevertheless, once the creature left the 7th zone and entered the Time Machine Trials, the fear won over the wonder and I was able to get my mind working on a plan to stop the approaching horror.
Using the information I gathered while the creature was born, combined with the data from its run through the dungeon I was able to glance at a hint of weakness. When fighting against opponents that were of a higher Tier than the creature fought against previously it would take more hits and take longer to defeat my defender.
This of course was normal, as any creature of a higher Tier represented a generally higher danger for any attacker. Though this “Tier-difference” between two creatures was significantly larger in the fight of the contorting mass of black goo, I named Shoggoth and my defenders. It was as if my dungeon creatures had some kind of aura surrounding them that weakened the Shoggoth every time it fought against a creature significantly stronger than those it defeated previously.
While the Shoggoth continued on into the 8th zone, simply ignoring all challenges that didn’t involve fighting, making the fight against the guardian significantly more difficult, I tried to get some insight on the hint of a weakness I gleamed.
After again taking a look at the first moments of the creature, especially its interaction with the mana bubble, I think I found the solution to defeating the creature. It was quite simple actually, somehow, defying logic and the laws of nature, instead of getting stronger when absorbing mana, the creature instead was weakened by the mystical energy.
This assumption of mine was further enforced when I took a look at how the creature continued to get stronger. Instead of, as I assumed, absorbing the mana and getting stronger, the creature instead somehow negated the mana and absorbed some kind of “opposite-mana”. It was like the two different poles of a magnet, a recent invention from the dwarven community.
The adverse forces were attracted to each other and would try to combine, though with mana and the other force, once combined they simply seized to exist. The creature was using this mechanic of attraction to “summon” the opposing force through some kind of method, though instead of letting them combine it absorbed the opposing force and grew in strength. My explanation for the witnessed effect left a lot of unanswered questions and was not even close to a coherent thesis, but this was the closes I got to explain what was happening.
Having understood the fundamental working of the creature I finally had a plan I could use to destroy the creature. I abandoned the 8th zone and let it fend for itself, absorbing all bits of stray mana and collecting them in the 9th zones elemental area.
All the elementals from the area were called to the cornerstone in the center and the weakest of them were taking some damage from mana poisoning. It better let them die in the center and contribute to my plan than feeding the approaching shoggoth.
The Shoggoth entered the 9th zone through the entrance, being the first creature to enter my new zone got me quite excited to see if everything worked like I imagined it would. It wouldn’t do for any of the enchantments to fail and destroy the whole experience I aimed to create.
Once the monster began to make its way down the “Sea of shadow” it had to slow down due to its body getting stuck in the smaller passages than before. To my surprise instead of finding one of the bigger tunnels towards the first area’s center, the Shoggoth instead compressed into a more compact form.
The fatty meat from before formed corded muscles and the squishy tentacles formed into chains of steel, though still as bendy as before. The liquid shadow gas didn’t obstruct the creature in any way and it swiftly made its way towards the first cornerstone.
To my disappointment, most of the shadow and umbra creatures were not able to harm the shoggoth in any way. To mitigate my growing temper of my creatures being unable to do anything serious against the Shoggoth I argued that it may be in line with one of the darker elements, though I couldn’t make sure because I was unable to analyze the creature.
Though the straw that broke the camel's back was the inability of the prediction ability of the area's guardian against the Shoggoth. The rage that I previously tried to ignore and put at the back of my mind surged over the mental dam I build for it and I did something I would later regret.
I wanted this creature to cease to exist, the fear and the rage it was building in me led me to place the singular Tier 2 unit of Rock mana in the center of the next areas, to make sure that the beast would be dead for sure. Having defeated the “Sea of Shadows” the creature ignored the cornerstone and made its way further into the zone, somehow zeroing in on the epicenter of the next area.
This cut the hour-long journey I imagined down to just half an hour and I had to move the precious point of mana faster than I wanted to. In a careless moment, I let the point of man drop out of the mana bubble I moved it in, still being unable to swiftly move the extremely powerful energy.
It flowed down from the central room into the corridor the Shoggoth chose to advance towards the cornerstone. Once the Shoggoth sensed the rock mana it was like a fly saw a cow's shit. The powerful creature launched itself towards the unit of mana and gobbled it up in one go, giving me only moments to slow its leap towards the rock mana.
After absorbing the mana the Shoggoth simply stood still, like a stone statue, I used this opportune moment, believing it to be vulnerable due to consuming the rock mana too hastily. I bombarded it with all the mana from the elemental zone and slowly witnessed its body grow weaker.
The bulging muscles and thick skin weakened like the body of a boy grow into that of a geezer. With most of the muscle mass gone after a while, the skin began to wrinkle and the flexible bone created a drastic contrast in the old skin. Step by step I could see the creature lose the war against me, the rock mana it had wanted to boost itself did not help my efforts in defeating the Shoggoth.
After a while, only a crippled and wrinkly mess of loose skin and excess bone remained that turned into dust after a while. The Rock mana weakly floated in the center of the Shoggoth’s grave and gave the creature the last push it needed.
Eager to get the precious point of mana back into my core room, I oversaw the dust slowly forming another ball just like the one who started all this. I only sensed the creature reincarnating after it was too late. The essence had already formed some kind of core and would soon begin the same process as in The Mouse Kingdom.
Though before desperately trying to destroy the creature I could feel all the mana around me flee my control. I felt my soul tense up and get stiff, like a deer in the face of a dire wolf, below the reborn Shoggoth a rift opened up. The other side of the portal was unimaginable, I literally could not think about what was on the other side, it was as if I was not part of the reality that lay beyond the rift.
The Shoggoth was slowly sucked into the portal to another realm, feebly trying to escape the force that was banishing it. Though luckily its struggles were for naught and with a final squeal the Shoggoth disappeared inside the rift. Before the rift closed completely I saw the hand of the Monster reach through one lost time, it was able to clasp the singular unit of rock mana and got sucked into the void hopefully now for good.
Even though I wanted to swear in frustration over losing the Tier 2 mana I worked so hard to get I stood still like a tree in a windless forest. I noticed the attention of the thing that had called forth the rift slowly move towards me and for the first time in my life truly felt my destiny be in the hands of another.
The raw power that came from just being in the focus of this thing was utterly terrifying, though somehow relieving, like all burdens and hardships of life simply seized to exist. It was the stern rule of a father and the somewhat gentle care of a mother combined into one.
I felt the thing inspect myself and my core and could feel the relief rising once the attention slowly moved away from myself and the pressure diminished until I was finally able to move around again.
What happened in the last about 10 hours was so “out of this world” that I truly didn’t care anymore, I had to somehow get my mind off the happenings of today before I fell into a month-long ponder of what happened. And even though I was probably one of the oldest creatures on the planet I had to put today's events in the back of my mind like a child, too ignorant and naive to understand what really transpired here today.
So, with the second area of the 9th zone finished, let's get back to building the third one!!!!