Ally uses her glamor to create an image of a warrior in leather armor. “Let’s take the dodging warrior as an example. He gained his class and filled up all his skill slots.” The illusionary warrior goes through a few actions to show his ten skills. “Later on though he gets drafted and ends up on the front line and shoved into heavy armor. Not something his dodge skill would be useful for. When he completes his current warrior path all he can choose is the next warrior path.” The little warrior looks happy but then another illusionary warrior appears next to him. This new warrior slaps his full plate armor in glee. It looks to fit much better than the original warrior who now has his face turned down.
“His friend there had almost the same paths and skills. The only difference was he never learned dodge. This gave him the chance to learn the skill for his full plate. Now instead of just getting an ever increasing number added to the warrior path he had the option to instead chose a better path. He was able to receive the heavy warrior path. While not some legendary path it does two important things. One is it resets how many points it takes to complete the path. Along with the fact that better paths provide more stats he will be able to learn more skills. That’s right, he gets more skill slots.”
“When you open the skill panel, it will normally note how many skill slots you have and of course your skills. The exceptions to this is that skills like your database will expand to show what they contain and when you have advanced a class. The heavy warrior will find that despite the warrior path being gone in his paths the skill screen still lists the warrior skill slots.”
“However advancing your class like this is not some easy path to power. While the higher on a path you go the more it costs it also increases the rewards.” The original illusionary warrior is now living through a sped up life and never changes from his warrior path. Then what must be years later Doyle watches the scene of the warrior meeting the heavy warrior again. The heavy warrior gloats at the regular warrior and shows a system panel which says he is now a Heavy Chaotic War Infantry II. The regular warrior takes a glance at his class path which is still warrior but it has advanced to Warrior X. They fight it out and despite all the skills the heavy brings to bear on the warrior he loses. The warrior showing greater power and skill in what he knows.
“Some of the most powerful beings under the system have only a single path which they never upgraded. Mind you, this is somewhat a matter of survivors bias so don’t think you shouldn’t. Rather, the takeaway is that they focused on what they are good at and became masters of it. If you get the choice to upgrade your dungeon core path don’t turn it down without at least a look. Read the description and see if it goes with what you believe fits you best. After all, while those powerful beings didn’t they are also the oldest beings born in this dimension. All the other powerful ones who did not take just a single path are all much younger. Slow and steady will get you there but it takes a long time and is filled with more danger.”
Doyle nodded his core, ‘that was interesting. So what’s next? I have a path and skills. Do we just start building now?’ Ally flies over to a wall and touches it. “This is as far as you can currently see and you can only build in your territory so we wouldn’t have much we could do. No, first you need to expand. This will be both easier and harder for you. A dungeon more rooted in their dimension would have somewhere to dig into. You, however are floating next to your dimension in the void between. What you see is all there is so while you aren’t limited by physical matters like having to dig down because the surface is above you. It limits you as it will cost a lot more to expand. It is much harder to create a literal space from nothing than convert some that is already there into your own.”
“To expand your territory will be one of the few things you can do that is not a skill. Similar to how humans don’t get a skill for growing up. The expansion is your natural growth even if you can control it on a conscious level. Now to get this right will take some time. In fact, I expect you to spend the lion’s share of the time we have left on this. The first step will be easy enough, you need to sense your territory. Go ahead and give it a try. Meditate on yourself and try to sense not just the material the room is made of but the level below that.”
Finished with her instructions Ally settles down on top of his core and mediates while she waits. Doyle doesn’t pay much attention to this as he has gone into a state of meditation as well. As his thoughts fall away the first thing he notices is how much he knows about the room. Everything from the composition of the air which is being kept at the earth standard mix to how the walls mimic a lava tube even if they are a little too uniform and flat. But that isn’t what Ally told him to look at so he goes deeper.
There is what almost seems like a breeze but isn’t. This too isn’t what he is feeling for but after he meditates on it for a few hours, he realizes what it is. This flow is the mystical energies from outside his territory. Weak to the point of unnoticeable. If there had been any stronger stimulus, this influx of energy would have been lost. Now though it provides a clue for Doyle. As the energy comes in from each of the walls, he can sense it slowly be whittled down until none of it reaches his core.
This siphon in the space must come from his territory and so he focuses on it. More hours pass until he can pinpoint where he stops and the material begins. Now that he can feel the difference it is like one of those 3d images where you have to cross your eyes. Even though it is all lined up, he can still tell it isn’t one image.
He comes out of his state of self exploration to Ally having just gotten up again. She nods and with a big smile comments that he was, “relatively quick for an intelligent dungeon. Most of the time you lot get caught up on something that blinds you to what is right in front of you. Though it helps that your dungeon territory is so dense right now. You need enough to spread out a good bit if maybe not a full floors worth and it is all stuck in this one room. A small room at that. There isn’t anything for you to judge it against so you might not have noticed. An average sized human would need to duck to stand in here.”
“Anyway, now that you have a feel for your territory you need to let it disperse outward. Later on you will be able to control the direction but for now an even expansion is more than enough. It is all kept together at the moment or else newly born dungeons would all die as their territory tries to just keep expanding. In the normal course of events a newly born dungeon core would just sit around until the density reaches a point that it explodes outwards. You can’t do that as to support your mind you need more energy than you take in. Quite fatal for those who turn into a core without any guidance. But enough about that, measure the edge of your territory. There should be a layer that is denser. You could look at yourself like an egg and now you need to hatch. There is no wrong way so just try a lot of different methods.”
Doyle bobbles and then focuses again. He had already felt along the edge of his territory. The room that he was is a perfect square which would help him. His territory was already trying to push outward. While somewhat evenly spread this attempt to move outward gathered more of his influence at the corners. This would be where he started.
Doyle could not move his territory yet but in such a compressed area he would have more to work with. A poke here, a prod there. Try to twist it and twirl it. Though what finally worked was a simple push. The territory wanted to go outward so while the other attempts would make it twitch, a good shove proved successful. This shove at the lower corner opposite of Ally exploded outward. Not literally, the stone stayed where it was, but his territory flooded out.
At first it sprayed out like from a hose but soon this wanton spray petered off. Instead, at the dense border this bound up territory started to ooze outward. Now that it wasn’t streaming out so forcefully Doyle was able to see what was happening. While his territory could move through itself any place that wasn’t his already would absorb it like a sponge. After enough of his territory disappeared into the void, it would instead become a part of him.
This discovery was almost enough for him to miss the other big change. The burst corner allowed a stream of mystical energy to enter his realm. It was a mix of all kinds of things but once within his territory all these energies soon broke down. Before he didn’t notice because the inward flow of energy was so slow but it seemed everything ended up as the same thing when he was done with it.
‘Hey Ally, I did what you said but I also have a question. I have all this mystical energy flowing inward like you said but it all seems to turn into the same stuff. Is it all the same or am I missing something? You seemed to be very careful to call it mystical energy or some specific type like mana.’
Ally forms a circle with her thumb and finger then glances through it. Doyle is able to notice a glow to them before she stops though the purpose is clear. She easily points out the opened corner and flies over to it. With her hand flat against the ground an invisible pulse radiates out from her along the ground. As this pulse passes around the room all the territory still caught up in the older border bursts as well. She claps the nonexistent dust off her hands and turns back to Doyle.
“A little of column a and a little of column b. At the moment what your making is quintessence. All mystical energies break down into it, however the conversion rate is abysmal. You do need quintessence to run your core but that is like a glass of fresh water compared to a sea. That fresh water is needed for a human to live but if all you want is to put out a fire either works just as fine. As all you need at the moment is quintessence, that is what gets made. Once you have some monsters and other such consumers of energy, your core will only create as much as you need.”
“Instead, it will reduce all the mystical energies to basic types. Stuff like mana, qi, and prana. Then that will be mixed up nice and fine into what the System will call world energy. I compared created monsters to balloons. Quintessence would be the thin rubber wall while the air is the world energy.”