Time and More Runes – Chapter 71
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Ally nods, ‘your stats are coming along quite well, especially your agility with those runes. Though now that I think about it we haven’t checked the description for it yet.’

‘Hmm’, Doyle thinks about it and nods, ‘I think you’re right. [System, can you show me the description for Agility please?]’

{Agility: The finesse of one’s dungeon. Your basic ability to have things like moving bits and pieces. Whereas normal creatures’ agility will represent their ability to dodge, dungeons instead gain the ability to move their territory in the outside world. Enough points in agility will allow a dungeon to shape their influence and even move depending on entrance type.}

Ally claps, ‘now that is interesting! Go take a look at the area outside your dungeon. We might have just gained some ability to help those founders keep your energy well secret.’

‘Sounds like a plan’, and Doyle shifts his view to just outside the dungeon and he could feel the difference right away. Before the border of his influence was like a mist wall, constantly shifting. Now though, it has solidified enough that he could draw a line where it ended. This sudden clarity reveals and yet at the same time provides a solution to a new problem. The area is expanding.

The founders had already put up a basic earthen berm beyond where they thought his energy well ended, but Doyle can see the range has already reached that wall. His increased agility allowed him to pull the edges inward. Not by much, but enough that there was a handspan distance between it and the berm.

Doyle turns his attention back to Ally. ‘Okay, just headed off a potential problem. The range of my energy well was expanding, but with the increase in my agility I was able to pull it back. The only downside is I wasn’t able to control my energy well and influence separately. Maybe with more agility that will be possible, but for now my sight will be limited to the dirt berm they made.’

Ally shrugs, ‘we don’t really need to be some all seeing being on the outside. For now, I am more interested in why your pattern database went up so much. You haven’t done much with it that would boost it like that. Databases tend to be some of the slower growing skills in the first place, and we are past the point of accelerated growth.’

‘Okay’, Doyle nods, ‘let’s take a look then. [System, show us database please.]’

{Dungeon Patterns: goat lv11, material patterns lv7 > 9, armor patterns lv5 > 8, food patterns lv6 > 7, shrubbery lv6 > 7, kobold lv5 > 7, axe beak lv5 > 6, clothes lv5, Basic Rooms lv5, assassin vine lv4 > 5, weapon patterns lv4, vines lv2 > 3, clover lv2 > 3, horned rabbits lv2, prey insects lv2, horned lizard lv1 > 2

Weapon Patterns: axe lv4, sword lv3, dagger lv2, bow lv2, arrow lv2, mace lv2, staff lv1, wand lv1

Armor Patterns: gauntlets lv1 > 8, greaves lv5, boots lv4, tunic lv3, helmet lv3, shield lv2, cloak lv1

Material Patterns: metal patterns lv2 > 8, dungeon soil lv5, leather lv5, cloth lv5, Earth standard air mix lv2, volcanic rock lv2, wood lv2, wax lv1

Metal Patterns: iron lv1 > 5, copper lv2, tin lv2

Food Patterns: herb patterns lv6 > 7, olive lv3, bread lv1, salt lv2, sugar lv1, wheat lv1, lemon lv1, strawberry lv1

Herb Patterns: sage lv6, aloe lv5, pepper lv2 > 4, mint lv1 > 3, rosemary lv1 > 3, lavender lv1 > 3, peppermint lv1 > 3, tea lv1 > 2}

Ally whistles, ‘your herb patterns are doing well for such passive options. Of course, the real star is how gauntlets and iron have skyrocketed. I guess you got something out of Sammy’s quest after all. With iron at level five you should probably put some ore for it on your next floor. It should have enough density that it is actually worth mining. Making steel is a lot easier with magic involved, so the settlement should be able to use it.’

Doyle nods, ‘giving them some metal to work with would be a good way to keep those founders in control. How long until I can make a third floor?’

Ally shrugs, ‘you could do it right now. You left the counter up in my room and I have been keeping an eye on it. Since you funneled all the sapient sourced world energy into it and how they have been frantically diving for food, it didn’t take long. Most dungeons are slow to grow not because they couldn’t grow faster but because without being awake things are done instinctively.’

‘Of course I don’t advise you to do it right now. Wait until after the wolves come through. Too much change would probably cause problems for the settlement and tip your hand on the fact that you’re awake. Honestly? I don’t care if those founders find out. They are going to find out soon enough anyway. What I think we should prevent is outsiders knowing. The outside settlement is well on its way to being an insular commune or some such, so they aren’t a problem. However someone might notice from simple things like making a floor too quickly. And yes, I am being paranoid.’

Doyle chuckles, ‘fair enough. I’m sure we will get more than enough nonsense in the dungeon during the wolf horde to explain gaining a third floor. Now the question is what do I do?’

Ally shrugs again, ‘wait? There isn’t really much more for us to do. Just keep improving your walls, maybe tweak your mobs, you could even go and carve more things up like you did the cliff.’

In the end Doyle didn’t have a better answer, so settled in for a wait. At first, time seemed to drag, but at some point it was like a switch flicked in his head. The world flowed by outside as he slowly improved the minor things in his dungeon. Stone got denser, monsters would be nudged around the floor, and as people delved bits and pieces got streamlined.

Throughout this the settlement developed. They firmed up the dirt berms at first. Then the settlement’s only carpenter went around and made an actual wall out of logs and rough planks. All the while the founders cycled through the other twentyish people who planned to stay. One by one they were sworn in. One by one they were sent into the dungeon to test themselves on the cliff and train their combat skills.

In the end only 27 of the people decided to stick around and swear the oath. Of them, not a single one failed to complete the cliff and gain the limit breaker path. Ally to the side only shrugs and comments, ‘the difficulty is completely a matter of willpower. It doesn’t require you to exceed your actual limits, just your perceived limits.’

Doyle can only shake his core as he goes over the list of new runes.

{Least Personal Rune of Jim: +1 Destiny

Least Personal Rune of Bill: +1 Strength

Least Personal Rune of Tess: +1 Strength

Least Personal Rune of Kellinger: +1 Wisdom

Least Personal Rune of Kelly: + Intelligence

Least Personal Rune of Doctor: +1 Intelligence

Least Personal Rune of Zachariah Treeman: +1 Destiny

Least Personal Rune of Jimmy: +1 Strength

Least Personal Rune of Sarah Bell: +1 Luck

Least Personal Rune of Josh: +1 Intelligence

Least Personal Rune of Justin Smith: +1 Wisdom

Least Personal Rune of Annie: +1 Presence

Least Personal Rune of Dan TheMan: +1 Strength

Least Personal Rune of Garry Johnson: +1 Constitution

Least Personal Rune of Billy Brown: +1 Karma

Least Personal Rune of Lucy Miller: +1 Agility

Least Personal Rune of Nancy Williams: +1 Agility

Least Personal Rune of Mos: +1 Wisdom

Least Personal Rune of Larry Davis: +1 Destiny

Least Personal Rune of Daisy Peachblossom: +1 Luck}

He doesn’t even have a chance to figure out who any of them are except Jimmy and even him only because he was the carpenter who built the walls. When he checked his stat line, this was an impressive boost.

{S[16 > 20] A[19 > 21] C[21 > 22] I[15 > 18] W[17 > 20] P[13 > 14] D[18 > 21] K[26 > 27] L[17 > 19]}

The biggest winner being his strength, but every stat gained at least one point. Presence still lagging, but he can work on it later. For now, he sinks back into what Ally called immortal’s passing. As she described it, it is a state of mind most immortals innately can go into that lets time pass by for them. An important thing to keep their minds as stable as any long lived being can be.

Finally all the settlement’s preparations have been completed. There is an inner wall around the gate and an outer wall, both with an opening lined up to lead directly to the dungeon’s portal. They armor all 27 of the people who plan to stay in crafted wood gear. Most important though is that Jan and everyone else who doesn’t want to stay are now standing just outside of the outer wall.

Ace is at the gate along with the eight other public founders, and of course Jim is there as well. Jan is standing in front of all the others who plan to leave, and at this point she drops the mask. With a sneer a mile long she laughs, “well I don’t think we will be seeing you all later. Once the wolves are gone, we will be back to salvage whatever can be saved. Please don’t lose anything too good in the dungeon when you inevitably retreat into it.”

Ace sighs but keeps on a diplomatic smile. He still cares for the rest of the people who plan to leave so can only keep up a front for them. “Well, good luck to you all. We plan to live through this but I don’t know how much will survive the fight. If you do come back here, plan to have to start from zero.”

Jan rolls her eyes, “as if you can live through what is to come. I had some people go out and double check on what the forest hobo said. That horde of wolves is exactly what he said it was. Good luck killing even half of them!”

With a sad smile, Ace shakes his head, “I hope all the people behind you stay safe.”

Jan sticks out her tongue, “without you nine, I finally have full control! I will come back to dance on your graves. Don’t think I didn’t notice you pushing me away from the group. How you could do that to one of the founders is beyond me. We all saved us from those thugs after all.”

Ace points out away from the forest, “just leave already. Watching you pretend you actually care about others sickens me. When you come back, we will be standing here strong. Be ready to get your butt kicked if you think you’ll be welcomed back into the council at that point.”

Jan sneers, “Of course I won’t be on any council. Why would the queen need to be on a council?” Then she turns away, putting on a plastic smile. The people behind her seeing this believe she is putting on a fake smile to hide the sadness of leaving her companions.

This is almost enough to break her mask, but in the end she just waves at them and yells, “time to leave! The other founders promise to kill as many of the wolves as they can to keep us safe. After talking with Ace, we both agree that going out three days should be enough. Once we get there we send back a couple scouts and if things are safe, we can return. Now MOVE OUT!”

As the large crowd of people turn to leave, Jan can’t help but cackle in her mind. ‘As if I didn’t realize that scum, Ace, had put some spies in my group. Going to send them back to scout and then intercept them with my own people. A day after their return date, I can send out one of my trusted people to check on things. It will be too perfect of a chance to remove traitors.’

Ace stands back by the wall and shakes his head as the people leave. He stands there with a solemn look on his face until everyone has gone out of sight over a distant rise. Ace turns back to the settlement and smiles. “Now we can really have a fresh start. We might have killed the thugs, but the rot remained.”

He looks over his shoulder one final time and sighs. He really did worry for the ones who left, but they made their choices.

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