After a full ten days of careful planning and intense work, Smit was just about to complete his maze. The maze was a massive network that spanned well over a thousand kilometers in length, if one was to measure the entire length of all the pathways and halls. It was truly a massive structure, which, if one was to attempt to map it in its entirety, would require the better part of a year, by Smits estimate.
This, of course, gave Smit a thorough sense of accomplishment. In his opinion, the traps were placed rather haphazardly, as if a giant had thrown the traps at random. Some halls had only one trap for several hundred meters, where others had numerous traps almost right next to each other, creating a truly painful experience for anyone unlucky enough to trigger them. The combination of pit traps with hallucinogenic darts was particularly terrifying, as it could create a situation where the victim becomes disoriented and subsequently falls to an unknown level, which increased the risk of injury and becoming lost. Although this combination was not particularly lethal in the short term, the consequences of becoming lost in a maze like this was certainly something to be feared.
Additional traps, with effect such as inducing temporary paralysis or creating disturbing sounds, were also incorporated for the purpose of intimidation and demoralisation. The fear of being paralysed in a hostile environment whilst unsure what sort of creature will crawl up to you in the darkness is not to be underestimated. Even the slow scraping sound of stone grinding against stone, or a quick shuffling noise behind you is enough to make your hairs stand on end, as they force your imagination to go into overdrive, imagining all sorts of horrors lurking in the dark.
These “harmless” traps were enough to render most people paranoid. The strain could cause people to make many mistakes that would otherwise easily have been avoided. Of course, this environment was the sort of place where one simple mistake could result in death.
Naturally, Smit was quite satisfied at the thought of the future mental strain caused by these traps.
However, he was not heartless. His dungeon was barely five floors, after all! It would not be fair to destroy all hope for the adventurers that dreamed of conquering his halls. Or rather, he didn’t see the need to do so quite yet. Smit had no desire to mindlessly kill anyone that stuck their heads into his halls. Though he could benefit from taking the lives of his enemies, there would be no one to entertain him nor would anyone come to admire his creations, were he to gain a reputation for being nothing but a deathtrap.
In other words, the benefits of being a bit lenient towards adventurers far outweighed the drawbacks.
That being said, he was at a loss on how to add appropriate benefits to the adventurers for venturing into his maze. He had managed to add a few positive features, such as creating beneficial pitfalls that would let you skip an entire day’s worth of walking if you managed to fall into them, as they would drop you on the correct pathway on the floor below. The catch to these “lucky” pitfalls would activate randomly if you stepped on them. As such, when maps would be produced, not every group of adventurers would be able to make use of these traps as shortcuts.
He had also made several “safe zones”. These were areas where monsters and other dangerous animals would avoid wandering into and, of course, there were no traps there, making them ideal places to camp for night. He had even added a few patches of blood moss in these rooms as a small boon for adventurers, allowing them a chance to treat their wounds.
However, despite these few mercies, Smit felt that something was... lacking.
He gazed upon his maze with a thoughtful stare and looked it over. There were countless creatures and traps in the halls of his dungeon, hundreds of walls and rooms, a multitude of dirt golems, hundreds of thousands of elemental spirits, dozens of bathrooms.… for the most part, one would not consider the maze to be extremely dangerous. One might even call it considerate. However, the sheer size of it was a weapon in and of itself, as it raised the level of difficulty many times over.
Smit was certain that once the adventurers came to realize the real danger of the maze that their interest in progressing would drop sharply. Who would willingly put themselves in such an unfavourable position for nothing in return?
He played with several ideas, such as leaving treasures for the adventurers to find, or creating rooms full of valuable plants, or even creating minable veins of ore along the walls of his maze. However, the idea of creating every weapon and armour individually and having to decide how to place it and who should get what… sounded thoroughly annoying and exhausting to Smit. Even for someone like Smit, who had the power to create almost anything that he could imagine by manipulating mana and the elements around him, it would be a very time consuming process. He had no doubt that it would also be irritating to distribute all these treasure individually, too.
Smit had better things to do with his time than to craft hundreds of items for any common Joe that entered his dungeon. He wasn’t some sort of mindless construct.
Thinking this, he decided to put the idea aside for now, as he focused back on the last detail of his fifth floor, the last floor of his maze: the boss room.
This time, the boss room was the location of his dungeon heart, as well. Therefore, he put a little more thought into it. He crafted a large room, the room itself was circular and dome shaped, with a diameter of about one hundred meters across. There were no pillars to support the weight of the stone above the dome, as there was no need for them. The magically infused stone of the dungeon walls, along with the masterful architecture crafted by Smit was more than sufficient to create a stable room like this.
Satisfied, Smit smiled as he finished carving the room.
|Congratulations! You have completed the 5th floor of your dungeon. Abilities have been released.|
|Ability [Loot Craft] has been released. Native inhabitants of the dungeon (monster, animals, or constructs) will now drop loot after a fixed amount of time has passed after the death of the creature. The loot will be based on the type of creature that has been slain. As a superior species of dungeon core, you may also create customized loot.|
|Ability [Treasure Management] has been released. As a reward for completing five (5) floors in your dungeon, the ability to create treasure and loot, and the ability to manipulate the laws that revolve around both treasure and loot, have been granted.|
Ability [Luck of the Draw] has been released. As a reward for completing five (5) floors in your dungeon, the ability to place fixed drop rates for items from your deceased creations is available. This ability may also be applied to treasure stashes or treasure chests.
Blinking at the announcements, Smit hummed thoughtfully and looked over the abilities, examining them carefully. The abilities seemed to be awfully convenient to him, given that the troubles that had been plaguing his thoughts not but a few minutes ago had been solved with these abilities. However, perhaps these abilities were set to be released after a dungeon matures to a certain extent. If dungeons had the ability from the get-go, it wasn't hard to imagine a situation in which a young dungeon with only one floor would swiftly be plundered by small-time thieves, hindering its growth. Or perhaps the dungeon would be wholly ignored by the world, as the rewards would be too pitiful to be worth even traveling to, and after a while it would be forgotten in its entirety. After all, a dungeon with only one floor would only have what you could consider trash-items or pocket change.
Either way, it was fortunate for him that these abilities came to him now when he felt they were truly needed. All three abilities sounded quite useful, and he particularly wished to try out [Loot Craft], considering that it might give him a new and enjoyable hobby. He would have to make time to experiment with his new abilities once he had finished decorating and adjusting the rest of the third floor of the maze. While he had the skeleton of his maze completed, it was nothing more than blank hallways and rooms, which would be amended by his hand in moments.
Satisfied with his new abilities for the moment, Smit set himself to finish all the details of his dungeon. He added the intricate designs that he had utilized for the previous two floors of the maze, carving the stone into intricate shapes that seemed impossibly lifelike.
The decoration process took a total of two more days for the third floor, and he finalized it by creating a cluster of fire spirits that lit up the boss room spectacularly, making the room look as if it was bathing in a silvery-yellow light, as if the moon itself had blessed this spot in his dungeon. As a final touch, he added a simple set of bird golems that he located at the top of the dome. The four owls were placed right into the ceiling, making them seem as if they were stuck in the night sky. Their eyes were so lifelike that any normal person would have thought that they were truly real owls.
|Congratulations! After creating a vast number of intricate dirt golems of many shapes and sizes, you have advanced your experience with constructs far beyond your level. As a reward, you are able to craft fully functional golems out of the following material: Wood.|
The announcement came as a surprise to Smit, who, in truth, had forgotten completely about fact that he could create golems for battle. In reality, given that dirt golems were weak enough to be taken out by normal people, it made much more sense for him to use his animals or kobolds to fight invaders. Additionally, because his dirt golems had no real instincts of self-preservation or teamwork, not one of his dirt golems had survived long enough to evolve during the battle frenzies in his dungeon. In fact, most of them had not even survived an hour before being destroyed.
In reality, the only “golem” in the dungeon that had any fighting capabilities at all was Echo, but she was a clear exception to the rest. This was simply because she had not been created as golem, but rather, she had been two separate entities; a statue made of stone and a soul entity. Since the statue had later been infused with a soul, Echo could even have been considered a type of possessed statue at the beginning, rather than a traditional golem. One could even say that Smit had cheated his way into creating a powerful golem far beyond his normal capabilities when he created the current Echo.
However, it seemed that creating an obscene amount of golems of a variety of shapes and sizes had somehow unlocked some hidden requirements, which allowed him to advance his race of constructs, at least with regards to his golems. It didn’t take a genius to realize that the step up from dirt to wood was huge in almost every aspect. To begin with, the durability of packed dirt was infinitesimal when compared to that of wood. Though wood would certainly prove vulnerable to fire attacks and the like, the basic abilities of a golem made of wood would certainly skyrocket when compared to those of a golem of packed dirt.
In other words, his golems would finally be useful!
Excitement ran though Smit as a whole new set of possibilities suddenly opened up to him. Wood golems could be camouflaged in settings with lots of plants, particularly if there were trees there, making them excellent for surprise attacks. They could team up with other creatures as well, acting as shields that drew the enemy’s fire, leaving other creatures free to the invaders with abandon. The only true weaknesses of the wooden golems would be their elemental weakness to fire, and, if the enemy was skilled enough, slashing attacks. On the flip side, the wood golems would be resistant to lightning and water based attacks, and even normal penetrating attacks such as knives or arrows would simply get stuck without penetrating too deeply.
Without hesitation, Smit decided to try out his new ability.
To begin with, he wanted his first golem to be the raw embodiment of the element of wood: Slow, durable, and strong. He created a tall humanoid figure out of redwood, and he gave it a smooth, rounded head with no mouth or nose. The neck of this golem was short, but thick, leading into broad shoulders reminiscent of what you would expect from a boar or a bull. Dark tree bark covered it in armour, protecting its thick upper chest, forearms, and shins. Its arms were as thick as a man’s thigh, making its upper body heavy and strong. Smit didn’t add joints, however, letting the wood bend via magical forces beyond what the rigidity of the wood should have allowed.
In addition to this, he carved blank eyes into the golem, giving it an eerie look that made it hard to discern where the golem was looking. The weight of its upper body created an imbalance, but that was planned for. Smit made the arms quite long, allowing the golem to hunch over and rest thick fists on the ground. This golem would be able to walk similar to how a gorilla could, albeit without the same speed or flexibility.
Satisfied, Smit looked at his golem only to realize that it would not move. And then he added the final touch: a magic core, placed right where a real gorilla’s heart would be.
Traditionally, magical golems all required a magic core, otherwise known as “the heart”, which was the centre of their system. Even his dirt golems contained a miniscule magic core that allowed them to move. Of course, this magic core was also a weak point. Should it be destroyed, the golem would be destroyed as well. Of course, the challenge for the enemy was to find the magic core and destroy it. More often than not, however, the enemy simply would bombard a golem with enough strength to destroy the majority of the golem to compromise its structural integrity. If a golem was damaged sufficiently, it would simply cease to function. Of course, one could also drain the magic out of the mana core to “kill” the golem, but that method was typically more dangerous, as one had to be able to approach the golem, identify the magic core, and absorb the mana directly. Few wizards could do this in the midst of battle, even more so if the golem was particularly aggressive or had a large amount of mana to be drained.
Once the magic core was introduced into Smit’s wood golem, its lifeless eyes changed. They glowed a bright green, showing that the golem had finally awoken like some ancient construct. In addition to this, its posture seemed to gain some vigour, making it stand a bit taller. Smit looked over the golem and nodded to himself. This creature would certainly be slow, but its power would be nothing to scoff at. He estimated that, in terms of sheer physical strength, the golem would be almost on par with the average black bears of the mountain. However, its durability far outstripped that of a common bear. In terms of raw strength, the only two creatures in his dungeon that had a half decent chance at beating this wooden golem on a one-on-one fight were Echo and Pala. Perhaps one of his grizzly bears could have pulled it off too, but those odds were slim.
He called this golem design “Brute Golem”, due to the fact that they were designed for close combat and using their fists in a crude fashion, swinging them down onto their enemies like hammers, while they absorbed large amounts of damage.
Next, Smit proceeded to create a second type of golem, basing this one on a specific type of tree: the weeping willow.
This design was far different from the last. The golem was tall, but rather thin. Standing at a hundred and eighty centimetres in height, the willow golem still stood a good thirty centimetres lower than the brute golem. It also had only about half of its width. Its head was more elongated than the perfectly round head of the brute golem and Smit even decorated it with long, flexible branches with leaves that extended down to the waist of the golem, like a mane of hair. Smit made the limbs of this willow golem long and two long and flexible whip-like branches extended from each of its wrists. Since the willow golem could control these long appendages at will, they were meant to incapacitate or distract adventurers.
Furthermore, to increase the flexibility of the golem, Smit made sure to give the golem appropriate joints, allowing its range and flexibility to come much closer to that of a creature of flesh and blood, thereby improving its handling of its whip-like branches tremendously. Of course, these joints would also be weak spots, but it was a fair price to pay in exchange for the significant increase in its functionality.
He added the finishing touches by giving this golem two eyes, much like the previous golem, but this time he carved the outline of a nose upon its face, making it appear significantly more ghostly and gaunt in the dark twilight of the maze. Lastly, he placed the heart of his golem in the centre of its head, where the brain of most organic creatures should have been.
The willow golem powered up, and a green shine came into its eyes. Smit decided to call this golem type a “Whip Golem” for obvious reasons. This golem was designed for mid-range support during combat and incapacitating enemies via immobilisation or distraction.
Together, he suspected that these two golems could be rather effective, especially when supported by other creatures or traps, but the fact that they lacked the ability to function at a sentient level was quite the drawback. Still, they could carry out simple orders such as “defend this area” or “stay hidden until an enemy walks past you and then attack”. However, anything more complicated than that would be nigh impossible for them to comprehend.
Still, this was good enough for now.
Grinning to himself, Smit decided that the fifth floor of his dungeon would see wooden golems. They would be a new hidden enemy that would appear occasionally, while Pala himself, along with some of his troops would be the boss monsters for the fifth floor.
He would also be certain to make Pala and Echo practice their fighting skills with these new golems of his. Surely they would prove useful sparring partners that would help his two precious children with increasing their abilities.
With such thoughts, Smit smiled to himself as he turned back to work. He had lots of golems to create.
Ikfes had left the capital ten days ago, under the order of the king. He had taken a number of adventurers with him and was already well on his way. Meanwhile, the search for the murderer of two royal guards was still in full swing.
One could describe the entire debacle as chaotic. However, this was not something that concerned Hasef. No, he was more than happy to let it all play out. Soon he would have his reward, and he would be well away from the royal city of Naref. Perhaps he would simply relocate to another nearby city, or he could leave the kingdom of Hyspa entirely and seek his fortune elsewhere.
Both options had their up- and downsides, but he minded neither option. He had done his bit and in doing so earned enough gold to live comfortably for the rest of his life… or lavishly for a decade. He chuckled at that thought. Perhaps he would even get himself an elven slave and a mansion in the countryside. Elves were a beautiful race. If he could get his hands on one of those beauties he would make sure to thoroughly take advantage of the options his would-be slave opened up. Perhaps he could even get himself a bastard child or two to sell. Half breeds could still go for quite a good price, after all.
Grinning at these thoughts, Hasef slipped through the shadows in the dead of the night, approaching the place where he would be getting his reward. It had been painful being patient enough to get such a large sum of money, but pay day was here at last, and he was going to collect.
The location was the same as always, under a rundown old bridge at the outskirts of the city, where the sewers of the capital ran off into a small river that carried the waste far away to irrigate some farms in the south. The moon cast shadows all over the area, giving the impression that anything could be hidden amongst the shadows, but Hasef paid it no mind. Who would even come this far off from the city at this time, other than him, that is? Even if anyone was to be found, he was quite confident that he would be more than capable of dealing with them. He was the man that had taken the lives of two armed guards in the middle of the royal palace, after all. Who could possibly beat him in a game of shadows? He was confident that he was the best in the city. He would bet his left arm that he was even amongst the best in the entire country, for that matter.
Thus, with a confident strut, Hasef walked into the sewer that was under the bridge. A few minutes of walking saw him to the designated location, marked by a pile of broken barrels and scraps of trash. It was the perfect place to hide such a payment.
Humming to himself, Hasef started pulling things aside, tossing them ever more roughly into the sewer, as his excitement increased. His heart hammered with excitement as he imagined a treasure chest of coins, a bag full of bars of gold, an ingot of orichalcum, a magic item that could be sold for thousands of gold! Anything like that would have made all his troubles worth it and more. Thus he didn’t leave a single scrap of trash left unchecked, no rag left unturned. Everything was dismantled until he finally found it.
There sat, below everything, a chest that was maybe forty centimetres wide, thirty in width, and perhaps thirty more in height. It was decorated modestly, but Hasef knew that this was what he was looking for. Grinning like a kid presented with cake, he heft up the treasure chest and was pleased by the weight of it. Clearly it had been filled with something worthwhile, as it was heavy. Not as heavy as if it was filled with gold, but there was certainly something in there. Perhaps he would be lucky and he would actually get an orichalcum ingot!
Filled with excitement, Hasef hurriedly opened the treasure chest.
An explosion rocked the sewers violently, gouts of flame spreading down the halls of stone as it consumed everything in its path.
|Species: True Dungeon||Rank: 2|
|Name: Smit||Age: 2 months|
|Mana: 11,332||Anima: 472|
|Mana Reg.: 861 MP/h||Anima Reg.: 19.27 AP/day|
|Floors: 5 (Max Floors available: 5)||Inhabitants: 70 Species|
|Titles: Creator of Dungeon laws; Creator; Guide of the Bloody Evolution; Legendary Craftsman;Master of Concentration; Reincarnated One;|
|Abilities: Absorb matter; Alter environment; Bestow Knowledge; Break down components; Craftsmanship; Creation; Digging; Destroy creation; Dungeon Laws; Enhancement; Equivalent exchange; Ether manipulation; Evolution; Interdimensional Storage; Life bestowal; Life-energy harnessing; Loot Craft; Luck of the draw; Mana absorption; Masterful mana manipulation; Modification of creations; Monster Link; Telepathy; Trap building; Transfer dungeon; Treasure Management.|
|Resistances: Magic (general); Mind control|