[World Core Linked]
Those words resounded like a bell in Victor's mind as the forbidden knowledge of the more expansive universe frizzled out and became background noise. Something seemed to crawl around his mind, building walls and sealing knowledge as if knowing it would corrupt him beyond repair.
"We meet again..."
Victor whirled around, but the Goddess's shadowy figure followed no matter where he looked. Was she inside his mind? Victor stopped looking around and glared at the Goddess. "So you appear once more." Victor cursed. If novels were anything to go by, this is where he learned the sinister reason behind his reincarnation. "What am I? Why did you put me in this world? What is my purpose?"
"My name is Axon... destroyer of worlds." The figure laughed as it morphed into something much more sinister. "Your purpose? It has already been achieved. You cannot stop the inevitable." Axon floated over to the World Core and placed its hand on its burning surface.
Victor sensed a wave of power wash over the world core that had become part of himself, causing his ears to ring and a monstrous headache as he felt his non-existent brain being squeezed. The shadowy creature transformed into a withering mass of limbs, eyes, and mouths— but there was something distinctly robotic about its movements as if it were programmed to act that way rather than a living creature.
"You did very well." It screeched—its voice no longer resembling a human but rather a chorus of static noise that grated on Victor's mind. "Now, all you have to do is make way for the rifts."
Victor shook his head. 'Make way for the rifts? Obey the orders from a creature that calls itself the destroyer of worlds?' Victor thoroughly resisted the creature's attempts to twist and break his mind.
The World Core pulsed with power, and the mana wave made the creature vanish as if it were made of mere smoke.
There was a moment of calm. Victor had always been suspicious of the Goddess's true motives. After all, to let a world-ending creature such as a Netherborne have free reign in a world of mortals simply didn't make sense. A Goddess would want to protect the denizens, not expose them to needless slaughter. Moreover, his entire biology required constant upkeep through devouring lifeforce. There was no other path for him than destruction. But now it all made sense. That creature was never a Goddess... it was a world eater using him for a nefarious purpose.
'But what is my purpose that it spoke of?' Victor looked at the World Core that he had now become. It was weird having two perspectives, one from the many eyes of his Netherborne body and the other an omnipotent view of everything within the World Cores' jurisdiction, which included a hundred floors and the cursed forest. Naturally, he had to focus on one or the other as his brain was split, and he couldn't concentrate on everything at once.
Victor focused on his World Core body and felt... incomplete. There was a barebones interface, but it seemed to be lagging and refused to display his skills.
[You have received a unique class: Demon Lord]
[You have received a unique class: Demon Core]
Suddenly control over the World Core's features became second nature. He didn't even need skills to inform him of his powers. It was as easy as breathing. 'What the hell? Why do I have two classes now?' Victor was baffled. He had no idea linking with the World Core would produce such a chain of events. 'Does my system finally function correctly? How come I can now unlock classes?'
Victor decided to summon his stats:
[Name: Victor(Main Body)]
[Race: World Core]
[Class: Demon Core]
[Class: Demon Lord]
[Stat Points: 903+ Million]
(Life Force STABLE - 10451 Days)
[Raise Undead X]
[Shadow Magic X]
[Annihilating Aura X]
[Freezing Cone X]
[Doom Ray X]
[Spirit Movement VI]
'My life force is stable now? Is that due to my link to the World Core or because my Netherborne avatar is currently in the void?' That would require more testing, but for now, Victor pressed on the Demon Core class that seemed to stand out, and to his surprise, the system finally gave him some additional information.
Demon Core - Unique
[The vast world is managed by a group of World Cores. When one goes rogue and is corrupted, it will be designated as a Demon Core. A beacon will appear to mark the Demon Core's location, and the Demon Core will be barred from admin access to the system. All Demon Cores must be terminated for the world's continued safety from outside threats]
"A beacon?" Victor used his core vision and returned to the surface. The sky seemed to flicker red as a beacon of light manifested over the Grand Dungeon. The dragons all lifted their heads to glare at the beacon while others rushed toward the central palace constructed over the Grand Dungeon's entrance. It seemed some of them knew what the beacon implied.
'Well, that is rather ominous... but that message confirmed one of my questions. There are indeed more World Cores that I could convert.' It was hard to describe, but Victor felt the undisputable power the World Core provided him but also the threat of invasion. The other World Cores surrounding him were powering up and trying to eat away at his territory. It was slow... maybe a meter per second, but as he lost more land, his ambient mana generation also decreased, causing him to lose ground faster.
Victor ignored the incoming doom and clicked on the Demon Lord class for more information.
[The other World Cores have designated you as a world-ending threat. As a result, your system access is restricted, and the world's denizens will gain rewards for your destruction. Your allies have also been marked as hostile]
'So the system has designated me as an enemy? The ambient mana already resisted me, but now even the World Cores directly oppose my existence. Did Axon know this was going to happen?' Victor's hands were tied. On the one hand, he knew Axon wanted him to fulfill this Demon Lord role, cause destruction, and possibly pave the way for these rifts somehow. 'But I don't want destruction. My goal in coming to the Grand Dungeon's lowest floor was to search for a solution to my falling stats. Not to be forced on a war path with the rest of the world's inhabitants. I wanted to create a city that was a central hub for development and progress, so I would have entertainment for the rest of eternity...'
Victor felt his dreams slip away. He may be a void creature with dulled emotions and little respect for the living, but he had experienced life on Earth and knew the feats humanity could achieve. However, as an immortal creature with powers far beyond that of a kingdom, he had to be realistic. 'If I comply with Axon's plan, I will be the last creature in an empty and lifeless world. And what, then? Will Axon command me to conquer the next planet to sate my endless hunger? Will I ever be free?'
Victor vowed to find a way to maintain or expand his influence while stopping Axon's invasion. But first, he needed to stop losing land. He couldn't conduct his plans without any mana or land to work with. 'But how do I stop the land being taken by the other World Cores?' Victor had a general idea of his capabilities, but he still needed to thoroughly test his limits. He could achieve anything those dungeon cores in other novels could, such as terrain manipulation, monster spawning, item creation, and more. 'Maybe walls could help stop the other World Cores?'
Concluding a test was necessary, Victor decided to practice on one of the many islands on the lowest floor of the Grand Dungeon. His influence over mana was strongest here. It was relatively intuitive, all he had to do was imagine the change he wanted, and the dense mana reacted to the Demon Core's will. This was likely how all the floors in the Grand Dungeon came to be. How it came up with the ideas for the various floor environments and monsters was unknown, but that didn't matter. Victor was now a dungeon core.
First, he forced a grass-covered dirt hill on one of the many islands into the shape of a wall. Then, as the mana wave pulsed out from the Demon Core, the hill trembled as invisible hands mounded the terrain in a ten-meter-high wall... it was nothing impressive, but it worked... But, 'Wait, what's happening?' Cracks began forming in the dirt wall, and after a few moments, the cracks spread along the bottom, and then it collapsed to the side like a falling Jenga tower.
'Well, that didn't work... what was the problem?'
Victor tried the same process again; however, he made the wall thicker and shorter this time. To his surprise, the wall remained standing after a few minutes and showed no evidence of structural problems. 'So I can mold terrain, but whatever I create must be able to stand on its own.' Now that Victor thought about it, there was nothing in the dungeon that wasn't possible to appear in nature. A ten-meter-high wall made entirely of dirt simply didn't make sense. 'Can I create concrete? Or maybe a stone wall?'
Victor wasn't sure how he could make concrete right now, but after finding a couple of boulders on a volcanic island, he managed to pile them up into an ugly and unstable wall. 'I can move materials easily enough, but molding them into the shape I desire is more challenging than I thought...' Victor didn't want to admit it, but there was something he needed. Something every nation required no matter how godlike its king.
Without people, there is no kingdom, only a lonely influential person limited to their field of expertise. 'Luckily, I can subsidize basic manpower with the undead, but for specialized professions like blacksmiths or mages, I will need real people.'
Victor turned his sights to Necron.