Chapter 2: A high roost must first start down on the lowest soil
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— From the hearts of the largest cities, to the deepest, most obscure corners of the world, dungeons exist.

Dungeons are important natural locations, where the magical energies of leylines come together, mixing in with the landscape at the point of conversion. These magical pressures result in the organic creation of a ‘dungeon-core’, the literal beating heart of a dungeon.

It is assumed that dungeon-cores can be underway in the form of a physical avatar, or they can simply possess their dungeon, thereby leaving their body and living as the dungeon itself. We do not yet understand why they would choose to do this. But it is imagined to be a very strange, abstract sensory experience.

A dungeon’s purpose, like with any other living creature, is to explore, consume and expand, in order to fulfill its natural drives.

Whereas a living animal might seek food to produce new offspring and thereby further its lineage, a dungeon will consume resources from anything ranging to dirt, all the way to the bodies of the dead, in order to grow and expand itself outward.

A dungeon-core serves a dual purpose as the lifeline of a dungeon, but it also acts as the head of the snake and manages all processes related to the dungeon's decisions as well, similar to the brain of a person.

Dungeons are highly adaptive during their birth, seemingly taking on any specialization, depending on their location. But after specializing, dungeons remain rigid in their patterns for the rest of their lifespans.

A young dungeon-core, who has specialized in the attribute of FIRE, for example, will always head further down this path. Dungeon-cores do not seem to have free choice over their attribute, but rather it will be given to them at birth as if it were the color of their eyes or hair.

Author’s Note: FIRE dungeons are somewhat rarer and are typically found down in old cave-systems or in the far-lands of the north-eastern regions. But they make for a striking example for this explanation.

 

~ Excerpt from Barnatus Barnacious’ Big Book of Dungeons

 


 

“ISAIAH!” shouts the creature, looking at a particularly odd thing that is sitting before itself, on the edge of the waters of the river.

 

*Ribbit* says the frog, before hopping away.

 

The creature gasps, watching the frog leave. Apparently, the frog is not ‘Isaiah’.

 

It rises back up to its feet and runs towards a big tree, looking at it.

 

It is a very big tree.

 

It is bigger than the other trees around in this part of the forest. The thing, the creature, points at the special tree with a sharply taloned finger. “ISAIAH!” it proclaims.

 

The tree does not respond. Instead, its massive body simply sways in the gentle wind of the day.

 

The creature frowns. No. This thing isn’t ‘Isaiah’ either.

 

It rubs its head in frustration, looking around the area. The forest is lively. Birds are singing and frogs are croaking and the trees are joining in to the merriment by shaking their leaves in the warm, spring-tide winds.

 

The winged entity frowns, looking over towards the wide, clear river. “Isaiah?” it asks. The river babbles on and on, but offers no coherent response to the question.

 

Frowning, it bends down and looks at the water, seeing the thing down below itself, bounding off its glossy surface.

 

It blinks, reaching down towards the strange thing that it sees there. The shape that it sees beneath itself in the water is kind of runty and a little gangly and it has a strange, colorless face with golden eyes and odd features and two, very large, black-feathered wings. They are larger than its body and protrude out from behind itself. With long, taloned arms, it reaches down and touches the thing in the water, which looks back up its way and copies its movements. “…Isaiah?” it asks. Their talons meet in the middle.

 

This feels right.

 

The thing in the water doesn’t respond, but the creature is confident that it has found Isaiah. Whatever that means. It isn’t even sure why exactly it was looking for this thing. But it knew that it had to find it.

 

It lifts its head. It wants to find something else.

 

The sun is starting to leave and the air is becoming cold for its soft, pliant skin.

 

Gazing around, it looks out over the landscape and watches as birds land on the trees, alongside the edges of the water of the river. They make themselves at home in the large boughs and thick crowns of the forest.

 

— Of course!

 

Birds have wings.

 

It too has wings, just like the birds, who lives in the trees, just like Isaiah, who lives in the river.

 

Since it really doesn't want to live in the river, that means that it also has to find a tree, like the birds. Well, isn’t it lucky that it just so happened to find a very big tree not a minute ago?

 

The creature, who is most definitely not Isaiah, turns its back to the thing in the water and looks up at the very big tree. Nodding to itself, it grabs hold of it and begins trying to climb up it.

 

However, it promptly falls down after a second, not having been able to get a grip with its sharp talons. It frowns, rubbing its bottom and looks around at the birds again. How do they do it?

 

Another bird flies down across the river, swooping into a tree.

 

It gasps, understanding and a moment later, its wings begin to move and the creature begins to hover up towards the top of the very big tree.

 

~ [Flight] ~
SOUL: 07/12
Cost: 1 SOUL / Second

 

Grabbing hold of a thick branch, it pulls itself up onto it. That was surprisingly exhausting.

 

The entity sighs, but then smiles. It did it! It made it up to the top of the very big tree! “Very-big-tree,” mutters the creature to no one.

 

This feels right. This feels good. This is where it should be. The ground feels odd to be down on. When it’s down on the ground, the entity feels vulnerable. But it doesn’t quite know to what, exactly.

 

Tilting its head, it looks down and towards the water, towards where Isaiah is, down beneath its surface. Apparently, Isaiah really doesn’t mind being down there, let alone being beneath the river.

 

Oh well. To each his own.

 

The creature leans back against the large tree and stares out over the world. The view is good up here. It feels safe. It feels protected and sheltered, if not a little cold. But that’s fine.

 

It understands that tomorrow, the sun will rise again and it will be warm.

 


 

There is nothing in the water.

 

The thing that it saw there was only a reflection

 

It itself IS Isaiah.

 

Isaiah opens its eyes, having had a very sudden realization in the middle of the night, as some connection inside of its brain was reestablished during its restful sleep. The leaves and branches, which it had broken off of the tree to cover itself with, fall down to the dark forest ground. The world is awash in the glow of a full moon.

 

“Isaiah,” it mumbles to itself in a sleepy, half-dazed voice, which is trapped between reality and the dream-state.

 

Okay. So. It itself is Isaiah. This is good to know.

 

But what is it going to do with this information?

 

Isaiah rubs its tired, sleepy eyes, not sure why this thought had woken it up.

 

It leans back against the tree and returns to its rest for only a few more hours. Not having any loose leaves and branches left and not wanting to go down to the dark floor of the forest to recollect them, it closes its wings as tightly around itself as it can and yawns, quickly falling back to sleep.

 


 

A new day is here and Isaiah stares at its own reflection in the river, touching its face and body as it watches its mirror-image do the same. This is its final verification of the matter.

 

So it really is true. It is Isaiah. Although it still does not really understand what that means.

 

A growl escapes its body.

 

Isaiah holds its stomach and looks around for more berries. The red berries from yesterday were very good. There don’t seem to be any here now, however. This is very unfortunate.

 

It frowns. But its frown doesn’t bring any berries to it either. It needs to come up with a better plan than that.

 

— Something splashes.

 

Isaiah watches as a large bird, gigantic and beautiful, swoops out of the water. It holds a big, juicy fish in its talons and soars off and away into the world.

 

Of course! The birds have so many lessons to teach.

 

Isaiah flaps its wings and hovers into the air, rising over the river.

 

~ [Flight] ~
SOUL: 11/12
Cost: 1 SOUL / Second

 

It looks around, looking for any fish to snatch. The concept of eating a fish sounds very nice. Somehow, it’s a vaguely familiar idea.

 

It looks around the water for a time, looking for any shadows that move beneath the surface.

 

If only it had a fir-

 

~ [Flight] ~
SOUL: 00/12
Cost: 1 SOUL / Second

 

“AAAH!” it yelps, plummeting down into the water, as its wings suddenly give out. The naive creature splashes and kicks around, being carried away by the river.

 


 

There is a new plan.

 

Isaiah has returned to the spot it was at, after a very frightening journey down and then, thankfully, back up the river.

 

On the way, it had found some blue berries and ate many large handfuls of them. They’re not enough to fully fill its belly, but they’re enough to give it some energy.

 

- {Blue}(Normal)[Wild-Berry] -
A blue wild-berry. They are toxic to humans and are generally only safely eaten by birds and small critters.
Blue: Restores: 01% SOUL Effect: Restores: 10% STAMINA
Weight: 0.03kg Value: 001 Obol(s)

 

~ [Isaiah] ~
(Isaiah) ate {21} * {Blue}(Normal)[Wild-Berry]
Restored: 100% STAMINA, 100% SOUL
STAMINA: 24/24 SOUL: 12/12

 

During the return journey, it had developed a plan. It doesn’t really know how it made this plan. But it knows that it will work. Because the amalgamation of conjoined and twisted memories tells it so.

 

Isaiah looks at the water and lifts its hands.

 

~ [Isaiah] ~

(Isaiah) used: [Summoned Worker {1}]

Cost: {4} SOUL

SOUL: 08/12

 

A golden glow, bright like the sunlight of the new morning, surrounds its strange fingers and then merges away into a glowing, red sphere, not far away from where it stands.

 

~ [Uthra] ~
Class: Minion Element: HOLY
Type: Worker Category: Spirit
Rank: F
Level: 01

An Uthra.

Uthra are small, celestial light-world entities. Born out of the magical cosmic rivers, known as leylines, they are composed entirely out of holy-magic. Uthras serve as guardians, wards and builders.

They are similar to fairies, cherubs and sprites.

HP: 05/05

SOUL: 05/05

 

Isaiah looks at the odd thing. The sphere blends together into a shape of something roughly akin to its own form. It is just a lot smaller and still significantly different. It has wings, but its wings are tinged lightly towards a shade of crimson.

 

Isaiah blinks, looking at the entity and the entity looks back towards it.

 

“…Well?” asks the small uthra.

 

Isaiah tilts its head. “Well!” it repeats, liking the noise that the creature had made.

 

The uthra rolls its eyes. “Well, what would you like?” it asks.

 

Isaiah clenches its fists in excitement and looks at the odd thing, making noises towards itself. Is this communication? Is that what it feels like, when the birds chirp at each other? How exciting!

 

“Well, what would you like!” mimics Isaiah, pleased with its efforts. That sounded really good! The entity will surely be happy about the attempt.

 

The uthra floats there. “Uh…”

 

“UH!” nods Isaiah.

 

Wait… ‘Uh’?

 

What a familiar sound and movement it is.

 

‘Uh’…

 

Isaiah stops and thinks for a moment. It recalls that movement and that sound from some distant memory.

 

— When it was a baby bird! Of course!

 

Isaiah points at its mouth and then lifts its head up and down hungrily, like a chick in the nest, waiting to be fed by its mother. “Uh! Uh!”

 

“…Are you… hungry?”

 

“Uh!” affirms Isaiah, pointing at the water. The uthra follows its finger and then shrugs.

 

“Sure. A fish? I can get a fish. No problem,” says the uthra. It looks around itself. “But we should probably get set up soon. The first predators are going to show up before you know it.”

 

“…Uh?” asks Isaiah. ‘Predators’… it knows that word too, it…

 

— Isaiah’s eyes go wide. “POOK-POOK-POOK!” it chirps, flapping its arms wildly at the confused, small uthra. Predators? There are predators?! This is bad. This is terrible. This is the worst! “POOK-POOK-POOK!”

 

“…Yeah… I’m gonna go get that fish, okay?” it offers. “Maybe summon a couple more to help you out here?” suggests the entity and then flies off over the water.

 

~ [Isaiah] ~

(Isaiah) used: [Summoned Worker {1}] x 2

Cost: {8} SOUL

SOUL: 00/12

 

Drained of its magical energy, the creature falls down to its bottom, feeling very exhausted again.

 

Two more uthra appear. They look vaguely like the first one, but they have different colors and patterns to their wings, as well as sizes and shapes to their bodies. One has blue wings and one has yellow wings.

 

They stare at Isaiah curiously. “What can we help you with?”

 

POOK-POOK-POOK!” chirps the desperate creature, still trying to warn about the apparent danger close.

 

The two new uthra look at each other and nod, apparently understanding. “Would you care to gather, or should I?” asks the one with blue wings.

 

“I would very much like to build,” replies the other one, with yellow wings. “Would you please handle the resource collection today?”

 

“Yes. Of course.”

 

They politely nod to each other and then fly away, leaving Isaiah sitting there, a little confused and very hungry.

 


 

Isaiah snacks on a heap of blue berries that they had gathered and watches in glee, as the red uthra returns with a giant fish. The fish dangles down towards the ground in its small hands which, by all assumptions, shouldn’t be able to hold the weight of a creature several times their own size. But the uthra doesn’t seem to be bothered and flies on entirely unhindered.

 

The blue one has been gathering branches and stones from around the area. It has been collecting them in orderly heaps next to the very big tree.

 

New Area
~ [Dungeon] ~
Stockpile {Level 1}
A simple, outdoor collection of materials. Everything is collected in rough heaps.

Level {1} Effect: Allows storage of building materials, equipment, food and all other items and resources. But it offers no preservation or protective effects for anything stored here.

 

~ [Stockpile] ~

- Perishables -

  • Berries
    • Red: 04
    • Blue: 18
  • Fish
    • River Salmon: 01

- Raw Materials -

  • Wood
    • Dead Wood: 06 kg
  • Stones
    • Assorted: 19 kg

 

The yellow one has, in a fascinating process of magical construction, created a small fire-pit. The yellow and the red one set the fish down onto a big stone slab and begin cutting it apart.

 

New Area
~ [Dungeon] ~
Firepit {Level 1}
A rudimentary outdoor cooking area. Food and raw materials can be processed here in order to be used for the rest of the dungeon and its monsters.

Level {1} Effect: Allows the preparation of simple food items

Firepit: 01% chance of summoning a [Fire-Spirit] every day

 

Isaiah doesn’t really understand why. But they seem to be removing all of the insides. “UH! UH!” it says.

 

“Yeah. Hold on,” replies the red uthra. “I got this,” it adds on in annoyance, pushing the yellow one away. “Go make something or whatever.”

 

“Now, now. There’s no need to be pushy,” replies the yellow one, flying back into the air.

 

The red ones waves it off. “If we get eaten by a wolf, because you didn’t make a wall, we’re going to have a long talk.”

 

“‘A wall?” asks the blue one from the side of the clearing. “Did I hear someone say ‘a wall’?” it asks. “Why, I just so happen to have the stones for a wall!”

 

The red one rolls its eyes and stabs the fish with a giant stick, spearing it through and then placing it above the fire.

 

It turns its head, looking at the other two and then sighs, as it spins the stick around to cook the fish. Immediately, a deeply rich smell begins to fill the air. The fire is so warm and pleasant and the fish looks so tantalizing. If not for the fact that Isaiah wasn’t down on the ground, this would be perfect.

 

“So, dungeon-core, huh?” asks the red uthra.

 

Isaiah shrugs. “Yes!” it replies, mimicking a word the blue one had said before. “Dungeon-core!”

 

“Okay, first thing’s first, we’re going to teach you some words,” says the red uthra. It raises its voice, looking over its shoulder. “It would be nice to have some intellectual conversations now and then!” it says snarkily, looking at the other two, who are setting up the foundation of some kind of barrier around the area with large stones and pieces of dead-wood, that are far too heavy for Isaiah to carry.

 

“Intellectual dungeon-core!” says Isaiah proudly, having learned many new words today.

 

The red winged creature rolls its eyes. “Ye- AGH!” It swings its arm out, fussing and hissing like a snake. It had gotten too close to the fire while it wasn’t paying attention and burnt itself. “Aaah, that smarts,” it says, shaking out its hand and stopping the spinning of Isaiah’s long awaited fish.

 

~ [Isaiah] ~
(Isaiah) used: [Minor Heal] on (Uthra {Red})

Cost: {4} SOUL

Restored target HP to 100% {93%}

SOUL: 08/12

 

The fairy-like creature’s arm glows and the pale skin, burnt, reduces from its strong red shade, that was akin to the color of its wings.

 

It sighs in relief. “Thanks.”

 

“Words!” nods Isaiah, staring hungrily at the fish.

 


 

“We set up a perimeter,” says the yellow entity. Isaiah looks around from the top of the very-big-tree, where it is making its roost. The little creatures have erected a wall around the base of its tree. It is fairly tall. “Standard dimensions for a low-level floor. Twenty by twenty meters.”

 

Isaiah looks around at the space around the tree.

 

It feels safer.

 

…But it does feel a little cramped.

 

Isaiah looks at the yellow entity. “Big.”

 

“Big?” it asks. “Should we make it bigger?”

 

“Big!” repeats Isaiah. A series of memories and instincts have come into play here. Isaiah points up towards the sky, towards the setting sun. “Big!” Being high up means being safe from predators. Being high up means having an overview of the landscape and it means having access to resources easily. By being high up, it will be safer, it will be better. It doesn’t exactly know why it is like this, but it is. High places are the best places for a nest.

 

“That’s uh… hmm… that’s pretty big,” replies the yellow uthra, following Isaiah’s finger, pointing at the sun.

 

BIG!”

 

The three uthra look at each other and shrug.

 

“Big it is,” replies the yellow one and they set to work, making the first walls of the dungeon, the first walls of the home of the creature named Isaiah — big.

 

~ [Dungeon] ~
Your dungeon has been established!

Current number of floors: 2

1: Ground floor (3)

2: Roost atop the very big tree (☠️)

Estimated difficulty: Very easy Estimated intruder level: 01
Estimated defender level: 01 Monster count: 03
Bosses: 01 Traps: 00
Chests: 00 Dungeon territory: 0.5km
Rank: F

 

 


I'm doing occult trivia again, for anyone who remembers them from Dungeon Item Shop!

This following lore is always based on real-world mythology and not in-universe stuff. =)

 

~ [Note for occultists]{UTHRA} ~


Uthra are angelic entities from the ethnic religion Manfaeism/Savainism, which is a system of faith practiced in the regions around Iraq and Iran by only ~100,000 people these days. They are essentially the equivalent to angels of this faith, their spiritual origins being traced back to a place that is literally called the 'World of light'. Uthras are held to be pretty chill dudes and they really just spend their days being cool and productive. They are said to be telepathic entities. Uthras in mythology typically serve the role of protectors and guardians of places held to be life-giving rivers, such as the Great Jordan.

Uthras are super interesting, obscure creatures and there are actually quite a lot of them in the lore, akin to how there are a bunch of different named angels in the Abrahamic faiths. Interestingly, there are other interpretations of the lore that describe them as female consorts. But we run a clean show here in this dungeon.

One further, small note, Uthra are usually underway in pairs and they tend to have rhyming names.

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