Sky Dungeon—Chapter 8: Transformations

 

As Hebe’s hibernative state continued, massive changes were taking place in her body. The ambient magic in all of Sruhl’s horn mountain was temporarily attracted to the cloud and grand temple parts of Hebe’s body to fuel these changes as they took place. Normally a much smaller area would have been affected by the transition from rank 1 to rank 2, but due to the mana-deficient local environment a much vaster disturbance occurred. Hebe’s pale-white pearl core flashed with dimmer rainbow soul lights than usual, the gaseous haze in its center quietly swirling in strange patterns as Hebe’s subconscious dungeon instinct took charge to direct her evolution from a rank 1 Basic dungeon to a rank 2 Simple dungeon. Hebe’s conscious mind drifted in a strange slumber, filled with images of her entire waking life of 23 days, her foreign memories, and indistinct images of creation of the heavens and the earth.

The first few days of Hebe’s evolution were the most energy intensive as her whole being experienced a rebirth. The ambient magic of Sruhl’s horn mountain strengthened every fiber of Hebe’s body, making it all able to withstand hundreds of millions of kilos of strength (10^8 kg) from its previous resistance of millions of kilos of strength (10^6 kg). Even the soft mountain of a cloud part of Hebe’s body was vigorously reinforces such that its elastic power could do so. During this process all the materials that made up Hebe’s dungeon, including the statue golems, had broken up into fragments to be baptized with pure magical energy and then reformed with Creation magic. The only intact things were Hebe’s pale-white pearl core, which experienced a quiet shifting of strength and power as its soul and mana deepened, and the souls of the statue golems, that were bound to serve the dungeon core even in death due to them being Bound dungeon monsters that had a one-way soul contract enforced on them from the moment of the creation. These 11 statue golem souls had their bodies break away but had their souls flooded with pure magical energy and strengthened with Creation magic as they too were reborn.

After that aspect had been completed, the surging of Sruhl’s horn mountain’s ambient magic ceased and the next phase was quietly carried out by Hebe’s pale-white pearl core. This phase was much faster, the Creation phase! The Creation phase would only take roughly a day of time. At that point, everything, including the rank 1 fountain of youth that was Hebe’s first treasure and all 11 statue golems, had been perfectly recreated just as they were before, but with stronger foundations. Hebe’s floating core had its gaseous haze surged outwards within the hidden chamber in two pillars of colorful soul beams, connecting with the dungeon body more firmly than usual. The Dungeon Rule ability that Hebe had was unconsciously strengthened by the rebirth phase of the evolution and was brought into play, messing with the enormous store of magic in Hebe’s dungeon body and even warping space-time itself!

Suddenly, the previous dungeon body, that had a ‘normal’ distribution of magic equal to that in its environment, had its magic saturation increase by 50%! Now, within Hebe’s dungeon body would always be ambient magic that was 1.5 times as dense as its surrounding environment. In other words, if one was to cultivate their magic within the dungeon’s interior, they could advance their realm of power 1.5 times as quickly! Furthermore, the mysterious Dungeon Rule ability had warped space-time. This allowed for the creation of four more floors in the dungeon, in spite of the exterior of the dungeon having retained the same size, and made time within the dungeon’s interior pass 2 times more quickly than outside of the dungeon. Spending one hour inside the dungeon would be only thirty minutes in the outside world!

The dungeon’s evolution was nearly complete, but the Creation phase had still not ended as the four newly created floors inside the dungeon, that ascended to the skies, were still empty. Behind the rank 1 fountain of youth, the previous sliding stone doors that lead to the hidden chamber containing Hebe’s core were gone, replaced by a huge door-shaped swirling portal to the next floor. The door-shaped portal was fully revealed to any that stepped within the dungeon, as the towering fountain of youth was a short distance in front of and to the right of it while the massive throne was in front of and to the left of it. Hebe’s hidden chamber containing her core was now located in a remote corner of the empty fifth floor of the dungeon.

To fill the four empty floors, the Creation magic of Hebe’s gaseous haze soul pulled at everything within her, including the shining ring of Hebe’s that was gifted to her by Morrigan but never used. The shining ring, that was actually a large inter-spacial storage module, released a large stasis cube that was quickly absorbed by the two pillars of soul light. These stasis cubes contained a wide variety of living samples of various eggs, seeds, larvae, and young organisms for Hebe to absorb and analyze. It seemed that the reason Hebe had not touched the ring was because she could not mess with it. Morrigan had primed the shining ring to release the stasis cube when it was time for Hebe’s first evolution, with their presumably being seven more such stasis cubes within the shining ring- awaiting her future evolutions. In any case, these samples alone were not enough for Hebe to design the next four floors and her foreign memories and short life experiences were also dragged out from Hebe’s hibernating consciousness and molded by Hebe’s dungeon instincts, which already had a wide range of knowledge unlocked at rank 2 concerning how to Create a multitude of environments and habitats.

Hebe’s mind dreamed of a forest, a vast woodland that she moved through as an alien and unfamiliar race. The trees in this woodland were much taller and thinner than those on Sruhl’s horn mountain and let in a lot of sunshine to shine of the earth and encourage the formation of thick undergrowth. The occasional friendly dryad waved to her from their treetop perches and will-o’-wisps were frequently seen floating through the air. This unfamiliar race was blessed such that she felt connected deeply to the element of wood and moved swiftly and freely in the woodland forest with carefree and twinkling laughter. Her skin was toned and glistening, pure and smooth, truly fantastic in all respects and though her strength was no more than humankind, her magical prowess was 100 times greater. Hebe felt strange foreign memories provide her with the name and details of this formidable humanoid being. ‘Elves.’ it informed her. ‘A magical race with formidable magical prowess and skill. The entirety of the elf race is blessed with the element of wood, with a few rare variants being additionally blessed by the element of darkness (Dusk and Shadow elves) or element of light (Sun elves or Moon elves). It is said to be a race that descends from another, more ancient race- the fae.

As Hebe’s mind wandered through the unusual dream that represented her deepest fanatsies, born from her brief life experiences and her vast sea of foreign memories, the four floors changed accordingly, replicating the woodland forest perfectly with Creation magic. All the animals, plants, and scenery were incomparably real as they were manifested fully with the help of the many samples of organic life that Hebe had absorbed and analyzed. Here Morrigan’s gift made itself especially known since without it, though the forest could still be formed with Creation magic, all the living beings within would have only been simulacrum without souls or true flesh and blood- unable to exist without the support of the dungeon itself. Hebe’s monster forming capacity had also increased with the evolution in rank, from 3 species to 4 species, and Hebe had only previously formed the state golems at birth. Now, Hebe unconsciously used Creation magic to birth 3 more monster species with souls and cores, though in this batch only the sub-boss of the fifth floor would be a Bound dungeon monster (with a one-way soul contract binding it to Hebe) and thus be undying.

The first monster specie created was the dryads, which were sparsely spread throughout the vast four woodland forest floors. The dryads were beautiful nymphs that feasted on the nectar of the trees that they were bound with for life, possessing strange wood elemental powers and great fertility. The second monster specie created was the will-o’-wisp, which were formed all throughout the forest- almost as plentiful as insects. The will-o’-wisps were spheres of colorful floating living energy, that were basically weak free-formed magic spirits, and possessed the power to drain spiritual energy. The third monster specie was the false elven monsters that appeared identical to the elven race in all aspects but had overall weaker capabilities, low bestial intelligence, and laid eggs instead of having live births. The false elven monsters were divided into three main types: the drones- which were all female, could not breed, and had to take orders; the queens- which produced its kind in large batches of eggs and commanded its kind; and the elites- the independent males of the species that fertilized the queens. The sub-boss monster on the fifth floor was a single, powerful, elite false elven monster.

Hebe’s last creation to complete her new set of floors was the second treasure graced to her by her rank up. Her creation magic for treasures was already set, so the second treasure- the rank 2 fountain of youth- was swiftly created in the deepest depths of the fifth dungeon floor. From rank 1 to rank 2, the carving of the indistinct woman remniscent of the radiant moon was the same and the fountain was still made out of lumniscent silvery material. Moreover, just as previously, ten servings of water was its max, with up to two servings of water being replenished every twelve hours. However, the actual water of the rank 2 fountain of youth made a stunning change in appearance, and presumably utility. The rank 1 fountain of youth on the dungeon’s first floor had water that carried a whiff of vitality and vigor and glowed softly  like starlight. The rank 2 fountain of youth had water that was as dark as the night sky with a single radiant star shining out of its waters. If one scooped up one gelatinous ‘serving’ of water from the rank 2 fountain of youth, that serving of water would also look identical but with the single radiant star far dimmer than with all ten servings of water combined.

With all five floors of Hebe’s dungeon body complete, the then thin, string-like strands o soul beams retreated back into the pale-white pearl core and collapsed into very faint gaseous haze. Exhausted mentally and physically, the dim rainbow soul-lights of Hebe’s consciousness within the gaseous haze grew even darker and Hebe fell into an even deeper coma. The shining ring gifted to Hebe by Morrigan helped out once again at that moment as it seemed to have its own limited spiritual intelligence, and nourished the gaseous haze of Hebe’s core with hundreds of strands of Morrigan’s stored magical energy. The mini shining ring floating in Hebe’s core of 20 cm in diameter thus gave Hebe the ability to make a swift recovery after her evolution from a rank 1 Basic dungeon to a rank 2 Simple dungeon. With the assisted rate of recovery, Hebe would regain clarity and be at peak strength within a day.

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Grace (Human) POV

The dire wolves, that were the size of gargantuan carriages, took two and a half weeks of traveling to forcibly kidnap Grace to a distant location, far from Sruhl’s horn mountain. During that time, Grace was sensible enough not to try too hard to escape as she knew that these large dire wolves, in spite of not even being magical creatures, had the strength to fight off her dear Novice realm friend, Ran Dewbleeder, and could instantly explode out with a strength of several thousand kilos (10^3 kg). Let alone a little girl like her, even a small stone house would be easily destroyed by them! Luckily, the dire wolves were surprisingly friendly, albeit determined to take Grace to an unknown destination.

“Aiii! I am seven years old already! If I can’t walk then can I at least ride your back?” when Grace had said such at the beginning of the journey, not only did the five dire wolves understand her- they even acquiesced and let her take turns riding on their wide backs. As a result, Grace had soon seen the majority of their journey as a marvelous adventure and had even urged the dire wolves to stop by various locations along the way, so that she could play more contentedly or safely explore some fairly safe areas under the dire wolves’ protection.

When they finally arrived at the unknown destination about two weeks and a half later, at about the same time the adventures many kilometers away were approaching the dungeon and entering its domain, Grace was surprised to see a small, ancient, dilapidated temple. Above the altar of the temple was a statue of a beautiful woman with two beasts by her right and left sides, with ancient script written at the statues’ base that apparently depicted the statue’s name.

“Are those dire wolves? Why do those ones look so different from you guys? Flaming fur and burning claws, how fierce!” Grace exclaimed upon seeing the altar in the small temple. At that point she had grown accustomed to the dire wolves and would often speak to them, though she seldom received a response to her ‘babble’. This time however, she was shocked to see all five dire wolves displaying submissive postures as they lay down outside of the open temple and urged Grace with whines to enter its premises.

“You want me to go in? Why are you guys so afraid, aren’t they just statues?” Grace cheerfully said, as she casually skipped into the temple without a care in the world. The moment she crossed the boundary of the temple’s open doors, the statue of the woman briefly seemed to come to life, her hair becoming long flowing magma, as she looked sharply at, the then stunned, Grace. The statue’s eyes showed approval and its hand pointed to Grace and crossed space to touch her forehead, after which Grace fell unconscious with a glistening ruby left on her forehead where the finger had tapped. Meanwhile, the fiery dire wolves by the woman statue also seemed to temporarily gain a spark of life as they stood up from their laying positions and raised their heads to the sky, giving a resounding howl that traveled as far as a kilometer away. The already submissive dire wolves did not dare to move a muscle under the threatening prowess of the two fiery dire wolves and merely watched them with somewhat excited eyes, despite their evident fear. When the fiery dire wolves stopped howling, five globes of burning blood came out of their chests and floated in the air before them, each glob unexpectedly trembling and then splitting into two. Half of the ten burning globes of blood went into the five dire wolves, with one per dire wolf, and the other half all flew into the body of the unconscious little Grace, without leaving a trace of their presence.

The five dire wolves began to let out loud howls and whimpers as they suffered excruciating pain all over their bodies, even their delicate internal organs not being spared. As for little Grace? The statue simply waved her hands and a globe of glowing earth left her chest and dove into her body, beginning much less painful alterations on the little girl. A moment later, all traces of the life vanished from the statues and they looked identical to how they originally were. If not for five howling dire wolves rolling around outside the temple’s doors and the unconscious little Grace quietly changing beneath the statue’s altar, perhaps one would think that there was nothing at all unusual about the statues.

 

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Sky Dungeon—Chapter 7: With the Death of 10…

Hebe (Dungeon) POV

The prey was dead. It did not take long for it to happen either. Only two of the eleven statue golems were even needed to do the job. Is this all there was to her prey? Is this what she was so deeply anticipating? It was funny since Hebe did not know why she felt the need to kill all intruders and absorb them as nutrients for her pale-white pearl core.

“I guess its just my instincts?” Hebe muttered quietly to herself as she enjoyed the sensation of her core being bathed in the mana of a Novice realm warrior. Her pale-white pearl core got the final push it needed and grew by about a tenth of a cm, from a diameter of 18 cm to a diameter of 19 cm. Only then did she find it a bit odd how fast her core had grown from 10 cm to 18 cm from just absorbing the ambient magic emitted by her elder sister, Morrigan.

“Elder sister really is awesome!” Hebe exclaimed quietly. Apparently a little more than two days, total, of absorbing Morrigan’s emitted ambient magic directly into her core was equal to about ten times the mana that she could absorb from a Novice realm prey.

“I wonder what will happen when my core gets to 20 cm? What is rank 2 like?” Hebe wondered out loud. She could feel that her expanding core would cross some threshold at a diameter of 20 cm, changing her existence somehow. She felt regretful that stronger prey had not yet been attracted to her domain, as her foreign memories told her that there were eight approximate realms of power that such beings could possess: Apprentice, Novice, Adept, Master, Archmage/Champion/Hero, Sacred, Demigod, and God.

The being that her foreign memories belonged to was also of the monster race, and monsters grew by devouring energy (in the form of magic, as well as flesh and blood). Since the amount of energy devoured was mainly dependent on how long the monster lived, as time-rather than luck- was the primary factor that determined how much and how well a being could eat/absorb, monsters’ realms of power were typically determined by their age. 100 years was Apprentice realm, 300 years was Novice realm, 500 years was Adept realm, 700 years was Master realm, 1, 000 years was Archmage/Champion/Hero, 10, 000 years was Sacred realm, 50, 000 years was Demigod realm, 100, 000 years was God realm. Additionally, unlike the other races, monsters’ power was not as uniform, with different monster species having varying power levels and starting off at separate realms of power, monster species like true dragons often starting at Demigod realm while monsters like Basilisks start off at Master realm. Therefore, while Hebe did not know the precise difference between each of the realms for the other races, such as Humankind, she still hoped that stronger prey would come and die, catapulting her to the heavens with one step. Otherwise it would likely take a very long time for Hebe to gain the power that she needed to allow Morrigan to return and to keep her by Hebe’s side.

Even though Dungeon’s were ranked a bit differently, having 9 realms of power that did not necessarily correspond to that of all other beings, just going from a rank 1 Basic dungeon to a rank 2 Simple dungeon would have taken consuming 100 prey of the Novice realm level without Morrigan’s help. Moreover, Hebe’s foreign memories were pretty vague about dungeon growth and power levels and she was forced to rely on her dungeon instincts to understand he possible transformations.

“How long will it take for me to get to 20 cm and become rank 2? How long will it take to be strong enough for elder sister?” Hebe whispered, frustrated.  All she could do was wait. Hebe immediately immersed herself in her foreign sea of memories, searching for useful information and reaping as many ‘feelings’ that she could to fuel her future magical endeavors. The ‘intents’ of magic, or their formations, formulas, incantations, knowledge, that was needed was a problem as she no longer had Morrigan to teach her but she was confident that the sea of foreign memories would provide that as well. Plus, Hebe could always absorb knowledge directly from the dead bodies that she absorbed using her innate Creation magic.

It took two and a half weeks before Hebe saw any other prey. This time the prey was prepared. A large party of twelve prey stepped onto Hebe’s green jade staircase, one by one, and was instantly detected by her. The leading prey was cloaked in black and radiated waves of magical energy that were far stronger than her previous Novice realm prey, while the eleven following behind were of the same approximate level of magical energy and were clearly also Novice realm prey.

“Could that prey be of the Adept realm?” Hebe quietly muttered. She would only be able to tell once the strong prey fought with her monsters. Her foreign memories could differentiate the various races realms of power when they fought. Apparently the monster queen who originally possessed her foreign memories had been ancient to the point that she had witnessed all of the other eight races prowess in full over time as they pursued her and her horde in the sea or as she and her horde invaded various lands.

A few minutes later all twelve preys had ascended Hebe’s staircase and had entered her grand temple. At the orders of the leading strong prey the eleven subordinate preys spread out in the audience chamber, admiring Hebe’s beauty with many positive remarks and warily inspecting her statue golems. Unfortunately for them, these preys did not share her last preys luck and her tile traps, which shifted randomly across the several hundred meter space of the audience chamber at unpredictable times, were activated. Hebe’s mural on the ceiling that showcased a starry sky and a radiant moon, the opposite of the blocked daytime scene that lay outside the grand temple, suddenly fired out destructive rays of magic from a small cluster of stars. One female prey, a mage by the look of the staff in her hands, tried to deflect the magic ray of starlight but failed due to its stunning speed. The prey that had been targeted was temporarily bound in place by pressure magic and died a tragic death in moments.

“William!” shouted out the mage female prey, with anguish.

“Stop spreading out! There are traps here, why didn’t you detect them Raymond!?” the strong prey leader asked, with a rumbling voice.

“How can I possibly detect them, given the insane levels of magic this whole place is giving off!? Not to mention the fact that I think the floor is shifting,” Raymond grumpily responded.

“Shifting?” the strong prey leader asked, in his gravelly voice.

“Yes, its entirely possible-” Raymond was interrupted by a blast of magic from the human mage statue golem that was closest to the entrance. The distracted Raymon had his head blown to pieces directly.

“Get into formation! Be careful of traps!” the strong prey leader commanded, pulling out a large black axe that was somehow hidden beneath the folds of his black cloak. The surviving nine preys rushed to get into a strange formation, looked like a crudely drawn flame from a higher vantage point. During their frantic movements, another tile trap was triggered but this time, the mage female prey managed to push the victim out of the way with a swift point of her staff and a cast wave of magic.

“This place has to be a dungeon! Traps, insane levels of magic, monsters…We’ve hit the jackpot!” exclaimed one wiry male prey, excitedly. The other nine preys around him became enthusiastic at his comment and chattered on excitedly as well.

“Here they come! Stop jabbering and get brace yourselves, this is going to be difficult,” the strong prey leader said grimly, his gravelly voice solemn. The other preys instantly calmed down and held their respective weapons firmly in their hands. The mage female prey chanted an incantation and the crude flame formation came to life forming a red barrier around all ten preys and focusing its power on the mage. Hebe curiously probed the formation with her senses and felt out its mysteries as the battle between her monsters and the preys began, focusing on it intently in an attempt to learn as much as possible before they died. The two dead bodies had already been absorbed by her, their energies invigorating Hebe’s consciousness and nourishing her growing core.

The first few minutes of the battle was quite orderly and precise, as all ten preys made their power and professionalism known. They could attack from within the crude flame formation while attacks that they received as they steadily progressed deeper into the audience chamber were shielded by its red barrier. Even the tile traps that they activated did nothing to the group as the destructive beams of magic starlight merely rippled the flame barrier by a bit. The human mage statue golem was held off by the mage female prey using the gathered power of the crude flame formation and the other nine preys easily worked together to hold off the increasing waves of statue golems that ‘awoke’ as they passed by. Swords flashed to and fro and sword wind cut through the air with shrill screams as several thousand kilos (10^3 kg) of strength was staunchly displayed by eight of the preys.

“Adept realm!” Hebe quietly exclaimed, briefly distracted from examining the crude flame formation by the strong prey leader when he finally made his move to combat her roaring giant statue golem. The giant had uttered a real, deafening roar, its carved steams of frost becoming real, as it had bounded over to assault the group of preys with its gleaming mace. Its mace had split the air with tremendous force as the 15 meter tall giant statue golem had swung down with a strength of hundreds of thousands of kilos (10^5 kg). Hebe noticed that the cloaked strong prey was an Adept realm warrior when his large black ax swung up with identical power and clashed with the giant’s mace with a thunderous boom, loud enough to shatter the eardrums of ordinary people and kill them off directly with sound alone. The collision sent waves of force rippling across the barrier of the crude flame formation.

The fight ramped up to another level as the dwarf statue golem wielding a hammer with a strength of tens of thousands of kilos (10^4) and the elven woman statue golem wielding a magic bow with strength identical to the humans at several thousand kilos (10^3) began to coordinate with the giant statue golem as the tank.

The eleven woman statue golem that was acting as a ranged combatant along with the human mage statue golem began sniping at the ten preys whenever the giant statue golem collided, mace to axe, with the adept realm prey- making use of the resulting shock waves and the shaken preys to strike through the barrier of the crude flame formation  and at the preys with more force. Due to the magic penetrating nature of the arrows fired from the elven woman statue golem’s magic bow, the arrows that she had been firing had always been able to pass through the flame barrier but they had been weakened considerably as compared to then, when she used the ripples of the barrier produced by the shock waves to maneuver past its weak points.

The dwarf statue golem also coordinated with the strikes of the giant statue golem to strengthen its blows as well. It burst out with increased power, temporarily overdrawing from its core-weakening it at an even more prodigious rate, when the shock waves rippled out across the flame barrier. This made the eight preys that it was fighting against less relaxed, as they were forced to deal with more of its superior force.

“The formation can’t hold!” the mage female prey shouted amidst the controlled chaos of the battle. “Prepare to fight, ‘unclad’!”

The mage female prey, to Hebe’s great frustration, broke the already collapsing crude flame formation, that could not handle the being besieged by three such monsters, with a chant. Additionally, the unfocused power of the lingering formation was gathered completely by the mage female prey as she cast out one last magic with a shout. A beam of revolving fire, far more complex than the previously simple bolts and waves of magic that the mage female prey had been casting to contend against and slowly destroy Hebe’s human mage statue golem, tore through the air with a piercing screech. The revolving fire tore a hole directly through the place where a human would have their heart located, destroying the human mage statue golem’s core and killing the golem. The mage female prey collapsed unconscious on the ground, exhausted, with all traces of magic gone from her body.

“Scatter! Get back alive if you can,” the strong prey leader desperately shouted amidst his brutal combat, scooping the mage female prey from the ground. He saw another three statue golem’s, ‘awakened’ and heading their way. Hebe’s enchanting winged fae woman statue golem began to cast spells with its magic sword that fiercely tore through the air and accurately landed on the bodies of the eight weaker preys. The spiky furred magical creature statue golem directly turned one of the eight weaker preys into a pincushion as it leaped towards a second victim. The feline eyed demon statue golem had a wide smile on its handsome face as it used it supple spear to increase the pressure on the six preys still fighting the dwarf statue golem.

Meanwhile, the Adept realm prey scrambled to duck and weave around the giant statue golem’s gargantuan body and huge mace as he ran deeper into the audience chamber with the unconscious mage female prey slung over his shoulder. As the giant pursued the adept realm prey, it breathed frost magic on his body to slow him down, which he countered with magically hardened flesh. Hebe looked on with rising anticipation as the adept realm prey struggled to sprint to the throne at the far end of the audience chamber. The strong prey leader was being zapped continuously by magic beams of starlight from triggered tile traps, that he had to hold off with swings of his  black ax, in addition to  everything else. When he swiftly passed by the beastman and three struggling monsters (monarch of the skies, leviathan of the sea, titan of the earth) statue golems and was then chased by those four statue golems as well, Hebe was practically bursting with joy.

“Meteor dash!” the Adept realm prey rumbled out loudly. His form blurred as flame flowed out from behind his body. The Adept realm prey really did look like a meteor as he flashed across the remaining distance with explosive force, even as he sustained further injuries in the process. At that point, only the monarch of the skies monster could keep up with the adept realm prey’s swift movements.

“Where is it!?” the Adept realm prey said, as he desperately looked around the throne for something. His cloak had long since been torn by then, revealing stunningly handsome features, and blunt wounds dotted his ragged, bleeding body like small craters. Strangely enough, even as he simply stood there searching frantically, his body could be seen slowly healing its serious injuries with its last remaining magic.

“There!” the Adept realm prey exclaimed upon noticing the fountain towering behind the humongous, magnificent throne, that largely hid the fountain from sight. A screech sounded from right above the adept realm prey and Hebe silently cheered. The monarch of the skies monster had dived down towards the magic-deficient strong prey leader and reached for his head with its glaringly sharp talons! In the split second before the Adept realm prey was torn to pieces, his extremely honed warrior instincts kicked in and he rolled on the ground with the unconscious mage female prey towards the fountain behind the throne. The monarch of the skies monster pulled up with a severed arm, holding a black ax, in its talons grip.

“Aaah!” the Adept realm prey deliciously screamed in agony, with his gravely voice bellowing pain and hatred. Hebe was shocked that he was still alive but she was confident that he would die very soon, as all of his other prey subordinates (minus the mage he was still carrying) had been doing so far. Hebe enjoyed a pleasant buzz from the streams of mana that had been infusing her core non stop from the dead and absorbed weaker preys, that the Adept realm prey left behind.

“Die! Die! Die!” Hebe fiercely whispered as she rode the pleasant high. Her core slowly grew towards its benchmark of 20 cm in diameter as it received more nourishment.

The Adept ream prey acted swiftly and decisively, despite his great agonizing pain, and sprang from his roll at the edge of the towering fountain. His eyes barely registered the indistinct female figure carved from luminescent silver stone, that faintly reminded one of a radiant full moon. He awkwardly set down the unconscious mage female prey from his shoulders to the marble floor and grasped two objects from a small bag attached to his pants on his hip, a cube carved with many strange small symbols and script and a ruby ring. The cube began glowing with a blazing red light that covered the Adept realm prey, and the unconscious mage female prey at his feet, in a thin film. Concurrently, the Adept realm prey somehow stored the glowing water pooling at the indistinct woman fountain’s feet, presumably in the ruby ring. The monarch of the skies had dropped the strong prey’s severed arm and dove back towards the Adept realm prey once more by the time the blazing red light of the cube had covered them in a thin film. The last of the remaining subordinate preys was also killed and the four other statue golems, that the Adept realm prey had outpaced, had finally caught up. The four instantly proceeded to attack the Adept realm prey from four different directions.

“What!? Where did my preys go!?” Hebe screamed out moments later. The cube had flashed once, blindingly and the two fallen preys had disappeared. The monarch of the skies monster had its attack land on thin air, while the four other attacking statue golems’ collective attacks shattered the marble floor that could handle millions of kilos (10^6 kg) of strength.

“Hmph!” Hebe then sounded indifferently, as she was somewhat appeased by the last infusion of mana into her core from the tenth Novice realm prey that she had absorbed. Her pale-white pearl core reached 20 cm in diameter! Hebe fell into a hibernative state as she finally crossed the threshold of energy needed to evolve from a rank 1 Basic dungeon to a rank 2 Simple dungeon. Her grand temple closed its doors for the first time, hiding what was happening within from the outside world, even more fully than the shroud that usually covered the entrance.

 

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Sky Dungeon—Chapter 6: Reporting to the Adventurers guild

Ran Dewbleeder (Human) POV

 

Ran Dewbleeder was an experienced adventurer of 60 years, kept youthful by his relatively swift advancement into the Novice realm. As magic users, both of the warrior and mage variety, increase their realm of expertise- their bodies begin to adapt even more to magic and changes in many beneficial ways. When Ran Dewbleeder advanced to the Novice realm, just like any typical human Novice magic user, his bodily systems were flooded with enough magic to extend his lifespan from the 150 years of the Apprentice realm to 300 years. Only now, faced directly with death so close to the eve of his adoption of the little orphan girl, Grace, did he regret rashly intruding on an unknown place, filled with potential dangers. He obviously knew better than to do so, but was caught up in the surprise of the structures’ mysterious appearance at the peak of the Sruhl mountain and was driven by a sense of greed, as he wanted to be the first to lay eyes on its treasures.

 

“Curse my rotten luck!” Ran swore, as he recovered from his daze and rolled across the floor. Not even a second later the dwarf statue golem’s huge hammer smashed into the spot he had just occupied with tens of thousands of kilos of force (10^4 kg). Ran Dewbleeder paled in fright. He could only muster a fraction of that force, with his strength of a few thousand kilos (10^3kg).

 

“I have to get out of here alive! I have a daughter to live for,” Ran shouted out as he sprinted for the nearby entrance. Unfortunately, a well coordinated magic blast from the statue golem of the robed human mage prevented him from moving forward very far.

 

“****,” Ran swore emphatically, as he decided to get rid of the statue golem of the human mage first. He agilely dodged another hammer strike from the dwarf statue golem behind himself and his large physique cycled his magic even more fiercely than before.

 

“Lightning burst!” Ran shouted, as a large quantity of his magic concentrated on his legs. His flesh then rippled, his powerful muscles tearing from the resulting force, as Ran Dewbleeder shot forward like a human canon towards the human mage statue golem. With this self created technique, Ran Dewbleeder was able to strike out with as much as ten times his usual amount of strength and he reached the level of tens of thousands of kilos (10^3 kg) from his typical force of several thousand kilos (10^4 kg) easily.

 

Though Ran Dewbleeder anticipated sending the human mage statue golem flying with that level of force, he miscalculated one thing. Despite being an experienced adventurer, Ran Dewbleeder mostly fought with humans, vicious beasts, and the occasional rare magical creature. Thus, he was completely ignorant as to the species of monster that he was currently facing, a golem. The golem species of the monster race were renowned for their physical defense! These particular statue golems were even particularly heavy as they had their mass measured in millions of kilos (10^6 kg). Predictably, when Ran Dewbleeder’s magic infused steel sword slashed out at the human mage statue golem’s neck- all he managed to do was chip its hard surface! All that force simply resulted in a small wound to its neck region…

 

“What kind of monster are you!?” Ran exclaimed in shock, when he saw the small wound and witnessed how the statue golem was merely forced to take a few steps back to ablate the force of his charge.

 

Those were the last words Ran Dewbleeder ever uttered, as his head was smashed to a pulp by the disproportionately fast dwarf statue golem that had quickly followed his tail. Had Ran Dewbleeder been given a few more seconds to allow his blessing of water to take effect and heal his legs and muscles to working order perhaps he would have survived long enough to reevaluate his opponents and come up with another strategy for dodging past them to get at the exit of the grand temple, that was only a hundred meters away. Of course, who knew if Ran Dewbleeder would have gotten his head blasted off by magic in his attempt to flash across that distance or if he would have survived the tile traps that had laid between him and the exit, that he was ignorant of? It was safe to say that Ran Dewbleeder was destined to die in the grand temple dungeon from the moment he set foot through its gate.

 

The statue golems returned slowly to their pedestals and froze in their original positions as though they had never moved. Other than the smear of drying blood that caked the bottom of the dwarf statue golem’s huge hammer, the chip on the human mage statue golem’s neck, and the slight wisp of ozone smell that emitted from the gnarled staff, perhaps on would even be convinced that nothing had taken place and that they were truly nothing more than harmless decorations. The pooling blood and gore from Ran Dewbleeder’s corpse disappeared along with the dead body itself as the dungeon absorbed it to fuel its own growth. All traces of the upbeat adventurer had been cleaned away and silence resumed in the grand temple’s boundary once more.

 


Grace (Human) POV

 

Days passed by one by one and yet Ran Dewbleeder did not come back home. Grace, who was excited the first day as she waited for his return, anticipating her first sword lesson with joy. When Ran Dewbleeder did not return home the first day, Grace was suspicious.

 

“You just don’t want to teach me how to use the sword, right!? Well, jokes on you…” Grace angrily muttered as she fell asleep on the guest bed that first night.

 

But, it soon became clear to Grace that something had gone terribly wrong and she was anxious to find Ran Dewbleeder. Being young, she knew that she should not go into the terrifying forest alone and she ran around Wimborne trying to convince others Ran Dewbleeder was in danger and that they needed to arrange a search party to search for her dear older friend. It was a shame that none of the villagers believed her, even including Ran’s own friends. After all, Ran Dewbleeder often left for long periods at a time and even if he went missing, what were the weak villagers who could not even face up against Apprentice level opponents supposed to do about it? Frankly, even Grace herself only thought that he was in danger due to her sharp intuition. Otherwise, Grace would have figured that Ran Dewbleeder had simply gotten caught up in something again as usual and would return within the week.

 

“Fine! If none of them will believe me or help me, then I will find him myself!” Grace angrily muttered to herself on the fourth day that Ran Dewbleeder was gone, grabbing one of his cloaks from his house and heading off into the woods by herself. The village orphanage did not note her absence due to her habit of going off into various corners of Wimborne to explore and play quite frequently. Besides, in a small town like Wimborne where everyone knew each other, they thought that Grace could hardly get lost and the orphanage ladies merely scolded her for her naughty behavior and extended absences whenever they got a chance.

 

“I will make it a real live adventure! A quest to save Ran,” Grace cheerfully said as she fearlessly ran off into the surrounding forest.

 

Several hours later, the little girl was lost and shivering in the forest and night was falling fast. Going up the mountain was easy for Grace, but avoiding everything in the forest was not. Luckily her blessing of fire could, among other things, allow her to sense nearby heat signatures and her frequent outings in the forest area right outside of Wimborne, that she had with Ran, taught her how to conceal her presence. Grace could even hunt, using the small dagger that she was gifted by Ran for her last birthday, so she probably would not starve in the long run.

 

“Stupid forest! Where is the adventure in this?” Grace whispered in the dark. She rested beside a tree as she continued her trek up the mountain. A few minutes later she broke past the treeline and witnessed the sight of the dungeon in the clearing on the mountain peak.

 

“Wow!” Grace said excitedly, at the majestic view. After her awe had run dry minutes later, she realized that Ran had never mentioned such a thing being on the mountain peak when he narrated his daily treks and adventures before.

 

“Suspicious cloud, where are you hiding Ran!” Grace said angrily, puffing her small cheeks. She was forced to spend the night in the forest so she picked a tree and climbed it, exhausting the last of her seemingly infinite energy, before falling asleep.

 

“Huh? What’s going on!?” Grace shouted the next morning in shock. She was being carried away by carriage-sized dire wolves, by the scruff of her cloak, to an unknown destination. Struggling was pointless, so Grace bizarrely went with the flow instead. It was unknown how the situation came about or why Grace had not woken up the whole time while it was taking place…

 


Lario Adventurers Guild, Random Adventurer POV

 

‘Normal’ warrior and adventurer Wolly P. looked at the adventurers guild’s request board as he searched for a proper quest to make some cash. Bounty poster, herb gathering request, horse taming job, beast hide request, etc.- the things on the request board were varied and often strange and dangerous tasks. Scanning the request board for any tasks that he was interested in, he saw a particularly intriguing request near the center of the board. ‘Investigate mysterious appearance of unidentified object on the peak of Sruhl’s horn mountain. Will be paid handsomely if either of two missing persons, Grace or Ran Dewbleeder are found within- dead or alive’ went the request on the bulletin board. Two pictures of a cute little redhead girl and an imposing blue-eyed man with blue-tinged black hair were drawn quite realistically below. The request was tagged as a C ranked mission.

 

In the adventure guild requests were evaluated by an experienced board of retired adventurers and given an appropriate universal ranking from the legendary S and the mythical X ranked missions down to the lowest and easiest F-ranked mission. F-ranked missions could be done by anyone registered by the Adventure guild. E-ranked missions could be done by Apprentice realm Adventurers. D-ranked missions could be done by Novice realm Adventurers. C-ranked missions could be done by Adept realm Adventurers. B-ranked missions could be done by Master realm Adventurers. A-ranked missions could be done by Archmage/Hero/Champion realm Adventurers. S-ranked missions could be done by Sacred realm Adventurers. And finally, X-ranked missions could be done by Demigod realm Adventurers.

 

Wolly P. took down a copy of the request from the bulletin board as he was stunned by its difficulty level. C-ranked Adept realm adventurers were exceedingly rare in all of Ocrium, even in the capital city of Lario. Most adventurers in the country were normal F-ranked adventurers or E-ranked Apprentice realm adventurers, with only a minority of elites being higher ranked than that. Even the reclusive guild master herself was only a C-ranked Adept warrior, so how could such a high ranked mission be casually posted on the bulletin board!?

 

“Miss Catherine!” Wolly P. called out to the receptionist by the door, as he walked to her, the request in hand. Like most adventurers in the guild he was both acquainted with and friendly towards the pretty, young receptionists of his local adventurers guild.

 

“Do you know what this mission is about? Who posted this?” Wolly P. asked curiously.

 

“That mission is much too high ranked for you Mr. P. I do believe you are only qualified to take F-ranked missions,” Catherine said politely, with a small smile, to a somewhat embarrassed Wolly P.

 

“I am well aware of that Miss Catherine. I just want to know what this about, is all. It’s pretty unusual to see a mission like this, even in the capital city, you know,” Wolly P. said with a slight grimace.

 

“That particular request was handed in this morning, given by a few folk from a certain mountain village called Wimborne. I hear that the man mentioned in that mission was a D-ranked Novice realm adventurer!” Catherine said with a slight flush on her face, as she quietly gossiped.

 

“D-ranked!?” Wolly P. said with awe.

 

“Indeed. That is why it is ranked so highly. If a D-ranked adventurer went missing due to that circumstance then clearly adventurers of at least the C rank will be needed,” Catherine informed Wolly P.

 

“I see! Thank you Miss Catherine,” Wolly P. said, to which Catherine merely smiled. Wolly P. returned the copy of the request to the bulletin board in short order as if his pants was on fire, nervous sweat could clearly be seen dotting his brows. While Wolly P. was not foolish enough to even consider taking a C-ranked mission, assuming he was allowed (which he wasn’t), he had been harboring thoughts of tagging along behind the adventurer or adventurer team that took on the said mission to check out the sights.

 

“No way am I risking my hide to check this out, not even from a distance,” Wolly P. sagely nodded to himself. He grabbed a typical F-ranked herb gathering request and put the intriguing mission out of his mind. Nearby, a cloaked eavesdropping adventurer had their interest perked and walked calmly up to the board beside Wolly P. The stranger grabbed a copy of the C-ranked mission and left, with Wolly P. staring after their mysterous cloaked figure.

 

“Yup, I am surely at least smarter than that poor son of a *****. There are truly all kinds of suicidal weirdos out there,” Wolly P. quietly said to himself, with a sneer. He left the adventurers guild immediately, returning to his banal life as a low ranked adventurer. Regardless of what else was going down around him, he still had to make a living after all.

 

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Sky Dungeon—Chapter 5: An Unexpected Visitor

Hebe spent the next few hours of the day furiously practicing her newfound ‘aura’ technique and wallowing in self-pity. During her furious practice, Hebe discovered to her great astonishment that her ‘aura’, while set in quantity, was seemingly infinite! Unlike a standard organic lifeforms, Hebe’s dungeon body never tired after all. Since ‘aura’ came directly from one’s bodily strength, unless Hebe largely exhausted her mana supply and felt too mentally exhausted to project her ‘aura’, her dungeon body would never lack for aura. Moreover, her ‘aura’ could be projected from any part of her several hundred meters long and tall body, including her core.
Concerning the power of her ‘aura’, it would naturally increase as her dungeon body grew stronger. Hebe absorbing more ambient mana and expanding her core was one way for Hebe to make her dungeon body stronger. As Hebe’s pale-white pearl, which had grown from a diameter of 16 cm to a diameter of 18 cm from absorbing Morrigan’s thick ambient magic, grew bigger- Hebe’s dungeon body also steadily increased in strength. With that, Hebe had basically mastered the aspects concerning the implementation and development of her ‘aura’ and only needed live test subjects to confirm ‘aura’s’ uses.
Having calmed down, Hebe remembered an anomaly that she had conveniently forgotten due to Morrigan’s soothing presence. When she had been exploring the distribution of her mana supply, Hebe had noted long ago that her mana supply would increase or decrease based on the ambient magic in her environment available for her to absorb. And Hebe had then been shocked to note that the direction that the mountainous cloud part of her body had been flying in was slowly decreasing in ambient magic. Since then, a day had passed and the 1,000 spheres of mana that Hebe had open to ‘spend’ had fallen drastically by 550 spheres of mana to just a little over 450 spheres of mana! Since Hebe’s newly created tile traps cost 400 spheres of mana to maintain, that left Hebe with just over 50 spheres of mana to ‘spend’.
Although a quantity of 550 spheres mana might not seem very large at first glance, one must remember that Hebe was of the dungeon race. The dungeon race had the greatest magical density of all the races, dense to the point that their magical density was said to be equal to that of the gods! Compared to other races, even one unit of mana, or a ‘sphere’ of mana, was many times denser and thus many times greater in its quantity of magic. A loss of 550 spheres of mana to Hebe was like the loss of 5, 500, 000 spheres of mana to a human mage! It was evident that the ambient magic in the environment Hebe had flown deeper into, during that day that she was distracted, had fallen by quite a bit when compared to outside its domain.
“Ahh! This place is awful! What a waste…” Hebe exclaimed to herself.
Heb immediately looked for a place to land her cloud, her dungeon instincts’ sense of preservation activated. Just like many raptors, she looked for the tallest place in her surroundings to land on so as to have an advantage against any prey that she came across. As her mountain of a cloud descended from above, Hebe spotted a mountain range quite close to her present location. The mountain range oddly looked like an amphibious beast of burden that she could identify using her foreign memories, a Sruhl.
A Sruhl looked like a water buffalo but with a tail fin instead of a buffalo tail and a single horn growing from their head. The tallest place on this oddly Sruhl shaped mountain range was its towering horn at the ‘head’ of the range. Hebe’s mountain of a cloud landed on the Sruhl horn’s tip, at the peak of that mountain.
The Sruhl horn mountain was covered by a thick forest that became thinner as one neared its peak. At the somewhat flat peak of the mountain, the forest was more or less completely cleared, making for a nice, large clearing. Hebe’s mountain of a cloud rested on that clearing, looking like the true pointy tip of the flat mountain top. The green jade staircase that wrapped around the puffy, white cloud rested neatly on the surface of the clearing and led magnificently to the grand temple part of Hebe’s dungeon body, that rested atop the cloud portion of Hebe’s dungeon body. Overall the ambiance of the scene made for a truly breathtaking sight.
“Hmm? Prey approaches already?” Hebe uttered coldly, as she sensed a lifeform approaching her position, a few minutes after she had settled down. Hebe was very curious about the various creatures that she had seen within her foreign memories. Other that Morrigan, who was present even before Hebe’s consciousness was born, and the statue golems that she had unwittingly created, Hebe had never personally seen any living creatures before. Hence, Hebe was both a little anxious and a little excited at her first real encounter.

Ran Dewbleeder (Human) POV
Ran Dewbleeder walked confidently through his hometown and domain, the mountain village of Wimborne. Ran was a handsome fellow, clad in fine leather armor and a sturdy sheathed steel sword, with a large, muscular physique, blue eyes, and odd blue-tinted black hair. As he passed, respectful villagers easily made way for his large physique, men staring intently at him with admiration and women ogling him with blatant lust. He smiled as he casually greeted those he was on a friendly basis with, giving mere nods of his head to acknowledge the random others that eagerly sought his attention with their utterances of phrases like, ‘Good morn Master Dewbleeder’ and ‘On your way to climb the mountain again, Master Dewbleeder’. Of course, in a small mountain village like Wimborne, even those random other passerby were all for the most part Ran’s acquaintances.
Strangers rarely bothered to visit a destination as out of the way as Wimborne, situated smack in the middle of Sruhl’s horn mountain. Most people gathered instead in the large city at the base of the mountain, Lario, that also happened to be the capital of the human country of Ocrium. The country of Ocrium was large and spanned the entirety of the Sruhl mountain range, having one major city at the base of each of the 11 mountains composing the imposing mountain range. The country was populated solely by humans, with the other races being exceedingly rare figures. Lario was the largest city and was the capital of the country due to it being located at the base of the most magic-rich mountain of the Sruhl mountain range. The rest of the mountain range stretched deeper into gradually magic-deficient territory, behind Sruhl’s horn.
“Ran!” called out a little orphan girl who was could be considered one of Dewbleeder’s few close friends. The orphan girl was quite pretty with cream white skin, blazing red hair, and enchanting green eyes. She would certainly grow up to be a lovely beauty in the future, a rare sight in Wimborne.
“Yes, Grace?” Ran responded, slowing down his gait to match the little girl that had run up to his side.
“Don’t forget your promise, ok? You said if I properly learned my letters you would teach me how to use the sword!” Grace excitedly said.
“Did you really learn them already?” Ran asked with suspicion.
“Absolutey! It was easy! No more excuses, you promised!” Grace said, with a pout.
“Ok!” Ran laughed, watching Grace’s resulting beaming smile with fond eyes. “I’ll teach you as soon as I return.”
“Can I go with you? I want to see the mountain peak too!” Grace then slyly asked.
“You know I can’t take you with me. There are some pretty dangerous beasts in the forest, especially as one nears the top of the mountain! Besides, you are still too short, there’s no way you would be able to keep up,” Ran teased.
“No, you’re short!” Grace retorted before running off in the direction of Dewbleeder’s house. She apparently planned to wait there for his return.
As Ran no longer had any living family members and was approaching middle age, he considered Grace his family. Ran often allowed her to stay in his large house for days at a time, in one of its many bedchambers. Unbeknownst to Grace, Dewbleeder was even preparing to adopt her from the dreary village orphanage in short order, after having come to terms with his spent youth.
“Stubborn lass,” Ran muttered, as he continued on his way. Picking up his pace, it only took him minutes to leave the village limits and to enter the surrounding forest of the mountain side.
Though most villagers would only cautiously enter the forest in large groups, Ran Dewbleeder was a popular figure largely due to his strength, that was already in the realm of a Novice warrior. Even in the capital city of Lario, Ran could get a prestigious assignment as a personal guard of the city lord. A human Novice warrior could summon thousands of kilograms (10^3 kg) of strength due to the enhancement of their magic. Unlike, magi that used magic externally, warriors mainly applied their magic internally to enhance their bodily prowess. As a Novice warrior, Ran Dewbleeder could even use his internal magic to form strange effects on weapons and body parts.
Moreover, the Dewbleeder Clan that Ran was descended from were one of the rare human families blessed by an element, the element of water. The blessing of the water element helped Ran to heal his wounds much faster and more efficiently than normal warriors. The strange effects that blessing could have on magic users, be they magi or warriors, made them valued by all. Unfortunately, the human race was rarely blessed thusly. The only other person in the mountain village of Wimborne that had a blessing was young Grace, who had the blessing of fire.
Ran strode swiftly through the forest, obviously as familiar with the terrain as he was with the back of his hands. His goal was to make his daily trek up the mountain to its peak and back. On the way, he hunted up a hare with his sword and took a break for lunch. The smell of roasted hare attracted a small pack of vicious dire wolves, the size of gargantuan carriages, but Ran was still at ease.
“Old boys, still stalking me are you? You should know that I am a tough bone to crack by now,” Ran Dewbleeder casually stated as he got to his feet and drew his sword, facing the circling pack of dire wolves. The dire wolves had clear hatred in their eyes, as they were intelligent enough to hold a grudge towards Ran who had killed several of their pack by then.
The alpha wolf howled and two carriage-sized dire wolves rushed directly at Ran from his front and his back. Ran grinned as he pushed his internal magic to begin cycling, strengthening him immensely. His sword was also enhanced by his internal magic, as he delicately drew forth some magic to strengthen and sharpen the blade. Ran then agilely doged one dire wolf and slashed at the other with a strength of several thousand kilos. The cut dire wolf yelped as a deep gash appeared across its back. The leftover sword wind produced by Ran’s strike cut down several trees in the surroundings. At that point, the alpha wolf signaled the attack of the two remaining dire wolves.
A bloody dance then began as Dewbleeder agilely weaved between the growling, carriage-sized dire wolves, slashing at their backs with his magic enhanced steel sword and occasionally receiving injuries from sharp fangs and claws. Ran was very careful to dodge the dire wolves whipping gray tails and fierce headbutts. After all, the saying went that wolves had ‘steel heads, iron tails, and tofu backs’. After a while of these exchanges with the four wolves, Ran was covered in scratches and bite marks, where pieces of his flesh had been torn off, but the dire wolves were in worse shape, with wounds freely bleeding everywhere and with many bones broken due to Dewbleeder’s prodigious strength. The surrounding land, within several meters of the fight, became similarly pitiful from the various attacks of both Ran and the dire wolves. In addition to there being many felled trees, cut by stray sword wind or obliterated by missed slashes of Ran’s sword, the dire wolves themselves left many small craters on the ground and their claw marks dug deep furrows in the soil. The alpha wolf, that had not participated from the beginning to the end, gave off another loud howl and the five wolves retreated into the forest. The alpha wolf’s stink eye as it joined its retreating brethren made Ran grin even wider.
“Bitter fools, the lot of them,” Ran laughed as he concentrated his internal magic on healing his wounds. His blessing of water showed itself well as his wounds swiftly closed and his torn off flesh regenerated without issue. Dewbleeder was only amused at the carriage-sized dire wolves due to having fought them countless times now. Just as Ran made it his daily ritual to climb the Sruhl horn mountain to its peak, the dire wolves made it their custom to fiercely assault Ran at least once during his journey up and down the mountain. If the Ran of the past knew how much flak he would catch from the vengeful dire wolves for ambushing and killing a few of their kind to complete a mission from Lario’s adventure guild, perhaps he would never have accepted it.
“In any case, I suppose their constant attacks do make for good practice,” Ran nodded, as he spoke to himself. “Truly an excellent way to keep my skills sharp!”
Ran continued on his way up the mountain, leaving the stomped on remnants of his roasted hare behind. The rest of his several hour long journey was mostly uneventful, as Dewbleeder only encountered a surly mountain lion laying on a tree branch on his way up. Though the forest, especially near the mountain’s peak was dangerous, that did not mean that Ran would necessarily run into danger at every step of his daily hike. In fact, only coming across a few deadly beasts during the hike up and down the mountain was quite normal.
“What is that!?” Ran exclaimed upon exiting the sparse forest at the top of the mountain and entering the clearing on the mountain’s peak.
“****!” Ran then swore as he remained stunned at the awesome sight before him. A mountain of a cloud stretched up into the sky, wrapped around by a beautiful green jade staircase. A grand temple of white quartz, that reflected the blue sky, sat on the cloud like a building housing the gods.
“This was definitely not here yesterday! Am I hallucinating? Did I eat a bad mushroom again!?” Ran mumbled in shock, shaking his head side to side as though he wanted to shake something of his head. A short while later, he accepted the structure before him as reality, when his medicines that he had stored in a small bag at his hips did nothing to ‘cure’ his mushroom poisoning.
“Well, might as well check it out then,” Ran said, jogging up the green jade staircase. It took him a few minutes to actually jog up to the grand temple of top.
“What a fearsome presence!” Ran exclaimed upon reaching the open gate of the grand temple. He could feel a presence akin to a primordial beast faintly emanating off the grand temple with his sharp senses.
“Perhaps there is treasure within? Could this be one of those mysterious treasure sites that is said to randomly appear throughout the world?” Ran muttered, as he started to cycle his internal magic and held his steel sword at the ready. He cautiously made his way inside the grand temple, its interior was oddly shrouded such that he had to enter it to see what lay within.
“Beautiful!” Ran shouted out when he saw the interior of the grand temple. Marble tiles shone like gems upon the floor while gorgeous statues lined the white quartz walls. A moving mural on the ceiling depicted an image of a starry sky with a radiant moon clearly in a realistic manner. Across from him, at the far end of the room, was a large, magnificent throne with a grand staircase leading up to it. Behind the throne a giant luminescent silver fountain could be seen. The audience chamber of the grand temple was breathtaking.
As Ran Dewbleeder was admiring the interior of the grand temple, his guard relaxed and he missed the movement of the closest statue, depicting a mysterious robed human mage. The robed mage statue raised the gnarled staff in its hand calmly as the statue golem’s core charged the gnarled staff of oak with magic. Just as a bolt of magic was released, Ran Dewbleeder snapped to attention and blocked with his gleaming steel sword.
“What!?” Ran shouted out in shock, as the bolt of magic smashed onto his steel sword. It had enough force to effortlessly throw him aside, and he shortly slammed into a distant wall. Near the wall where Ran Dewbleeder then lay in a daze, the statue of a dwarf holding a hammer many times bigger than itself then came to life, the statue golem’s eyes shining with magic as it turned to face the downed Novice warrior.
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Sky Dungeon—Chapter 4: How Beastmen fight

Right on time, as the curtain of daytime rose outside the dungeon and nighttime began within the mural of the dungeon’s ceiling, Morrigan silently flew back to the hidden chamber of the dungeon, bypassing the new tile traps effortlessly since she never set foot on any of them. Morrigan then shifted back into her human form, the ring on her right hand’s ring finger even brighter than it was the day before, so bright that it almost succeeded in capturing Hebe’s attention this time around. Alas, when Morrigan spoke but a moment later, Hebe swiftly put it out of her mind and focused on her words with all of her being. Her mind felt as sharp as the keenest blade as she awaited the next lesson.

 

“Little sis! I see that you have succeeded, and have managed to add to your dungeon’s reportaire no less! Just as expected from one such as you,” Morrigan complimented, with a wily grin gracing her beautiful features.

 

“Big sis, what is the next thing you wanted to show me!” Hebe impatiently asked, skipping any formalities to get straight to the heart of the matter.

 

“One step at a time, little sis! I love what you have done with yourself and all but those traps are still useless, even against land-bound intruders,” Morrigan commented with a click of her tongue.

 

“Useless!?” Hebe was stunned. The traps that she had worked so hard on and felt such pride for were actually hailed as useless by her elder sister! “Why are they useless? What did I do wrong!?”

 

“Now, now, its not that you did anything wrong per-say, rather its ineffectiveness is due to your inferior experience,” Morrigan responded lightly.

 

“Please guide me, big sis!” Hebe immediately said, after she heard her elder sister’s response and calmed down.

 

“You probably did not notice before due to it being done effortlessly by your dungeon instincts, but haven’t you wondered why you have absolute control over the things within your dungeon? I mean, you created a few statue golem monsters to guard your audience chamber and yet they never once made any aggressive movements toward me. Moreover, your pitfall trap utilizes a vacuum that by all rights should suck out both your ambient magic and any intruder, acting like an open wound or leak, but only the air part of your atmosphere is affected instead, thus safely pulling in intruders whilst leaving you unharmed. These occurrences are, in fact, not natural for any being other than dungeon’s and perhaps gods. What you are unconsciously using is the unique dungeon ability that is called the ‘dungeon rule’,” Morrigan informed Hebe.

 

Hebe did not bat an eye when Morrigan gave extremely precise commentary on her traps’ functions despite having never seen them in action before, since she took it as natural to be able to see through such magical phenomena. That somewhat odd reasoning and acceptance that was observed by Morrigan caused her to silently wonder why the dungeon was so confident that the intruders would not be able to do the same. ‘Maybe its her instincts?’ Morrigan thoughtfully reasoned.

 

“You can also use the dungeon rule to have the tiles be hidden from magical senses and to have them constantly shift around, that way intruders would be hard pressed to avoid them even if they had prior warning,” Morrigan said to the surprised Hebe.

 

“Furthermore, you can use your ‘dungeon rule’ to command the traps of the dungeon to only work on certain magical densities, that you can specifically target every race other than the monster race and prevent your spawned monsters from activating the traps themselves. Just be particularly careful when setting a ‘dungeon rule’ and traps in an area with your spawned monsters, since monsters’ magical densities vary according to their species and may even match that of the intruders’ themselves,” Morrigan continued, cautioning Hebe as she expounded on the use of her ability.

 

Hebe wasted no time and reached within her herself naturally as she willed the world within her dungeon body to change its existence based on her whims. The traps were instantly molded to respond only to magical densities other than the level possessed by her statue golems. Heb could feel that her subconscious desire had been keeping her statue golems from assaulting Morrigan thus far and expanded on that desire. With an exertion of her will another ‘dungeon rule’ was formed, nothing in her dungeon was ever allowed to hurt her big sister! The last ‘dungeon rule’ was still in line with Morrigan’s suggestions as she made it so that the tile traps’ were hidden from magical senses and would at unpredictable intervals of time shift their positions randomly, such that the tiles were as spread out and the more powerful traps were placed away from the others.

 

“Now that you’re done with that, little sis, the true lesson can begin. Listen well little sis, for this will be last lesson that I impart onto you,” Morrigan said, with an odd amount of solemnity that Hebe did not manage to catch.

 

“Mnnn!” Hebe responded, satisfied.

 

“I learned this from a guy that I once dated, of the beastman race,” Morrigan said with a blush covering her cheeks, giving her already pretty features an even more seductive allure.

 

“You see, the beastman race, as I have explained to you before, is a non-magical race. While they can absorb massive amounts of magic with their excellent physiques and use it to temper their bodies, they can’t use that magic at all. Its like, the magic simply flows like water through their grabbing hands an dissipates like smoke into their bodies, vanished into oblivion. Yet, in spite of the beastmens’ great strength they still have to compete with the various magical senses and abilities of the world’s magical races,” Morrigan said, to the curious Hebe. ‘What would it be like without magic?’, she briefly wondered.

 

“So in order to combat the magic wielding races of the world they developed a technique that later on became widespread amongst warriors, ‘aura’! This technique can be used by any individual with a powerful body, but it works best on the beastmen race. ‘Aura’ is a manifestation of a body’s presence or pressure, yet its also like an extension of the body’s 6th sense. ‘Aura’s’ goal is to manipulate or damage senses by targeting the sense receptors and nervous system of the body, particularly sense receptors which are generally weak spots protected by certain body parts such as eyelids, tusks/teeth, flaps, etc. It can however be used to combat magic at higher levels once the body becomes powerful enough and the ‘aura’ does more than manifest as an ethereal construct, condensing into a tangible physical form,” Morrigan said.

 

“However, it must be understood that when ‘aura’ manipulates or damages the body’s nervous system or sense receptors, it messes with the physical body in a different way than the way ‘mental’ magic messes with the mind or ‘soul’ magic messes with the spirit. ‘Mental’ magic alters and manipulates memories. ‘Soul’ magic alters and manipulates the spirit, changing potential and possibly leading to the weakening or the withering of the body or the reverse effect of strengthening and revitalizing the body,” Morrigan clarified.

 

“But how do I use it?” Hebe asked.

 

“You have to feel your body down to its every last particle and rip out your own 6th sense. Though magical aura is a different phenomena all together, you can also use magic to leverage this 6th sense and exert your body’s pressure or presence. Thus, having a powerful body and plentiful internal magic, or mana, helps immensely. Using ‘aura’ takes extremely fine control or talent,” Morrigan said as she released a fine ‘aura’ from her body. To Hebe’s amazement, Morrigan actually wasn’t as great at using ‘aura’ as she was at everything else and had to carefully focus on her task.

 

Morrigan used the ominous and alluring ‘aura’ to form a barrier around her human form and disappeared completely from Hebe’s dungeon senses. No matter how hard Hebe tried, she could not find Morrigan’s whereabouts. Nothing within the dungeon could escape Hebe’s control or perception, yet Morrigan was nowhere to be found! Even when Hebe attempted to use magic to actively scan over the entire dungeon, wasting a few mana, it was like there was never anything there to begin with.

 

“Big sis?” Hebe called out, fearfully. Luckily when Hebe tried using her ‘marking’ magic a moment later, her cloud glyph lit up and revealed that Morrigan was still in the same spot as before.

 

“See? Your senses were totally fooled. That is about my limit when it comes to using ‘aura’ though! My old fling was able to do a lot more. He could make chains of ‘aura’ that bound and slowed down a person’s speed and reaction time. Set up waves of ‘aura’ that would slowly disintegrate the body’s nervous system and sensual organs for defense. He could form rains of ‘aura’ to confuse and beguile his enemies. He was even so skilled in ‘aural’ manipulation that he could use a vortex of ‘aura’ to counter magic and aura alike by cutting, draining, and dispersing them. His ‘aural’ vortex would tear bodies apart in such a pretty way,” Morrigan said with a smitten look in her eyes, after she re-materialized when she dropped the barrier of ‘aura’.

 

“Go on, try it,” Morrigan said, crossing over to the throne in the audience chamber in one step to sit and wait for Hebe’s efforts to bear fruit.

 

Hebe went into deep mediation as she searched through her entire dungeon body for any trace of her 6th sense. For her, this should be an easier task than others due to her large and powerful body and aided by her enormous store of mana. Minutes turned to hours as Hebe patiently searched for that spark that would help her manifest her aura. Even the impressions that she got from her foreign memories were called into question as she leapfrogged from one experience to another to find the sensation of the 6th sense.

 

The 6th sense is supposed to be a supernatural extra sensory organ that detects fluctuations in a person’s space-time continuum. From mentions of their name a town away, to premonitions about their impending future, the 6th sense is defined in many various ways. In the queen monster’s memory, though she did not train her ‘aura’, she did have a strong 6th sense that would warn her of impending danger long before it arrived and that would highlight her prey’s fear, even if they hid it exquisitely well. For Morrigan, her 6th sense helped her to attune herself to a target’s potential and helped her to steer their path in a different direction, often one that leads to adventure- the failure of which sometimes led to pain and misery. But what does Hebe’s 6th sense do?

 

Build. Create. Make more, make bigger. Command, delegate, defend territory.‘ Hebe’s dungeon Instincts were a mile long and presumably also the source of her 6th sense. Hebe took her Dungeon instincts and projected them outwards with a push of her will. An aura of chaotic creation began to emanate from Hebe’s dungeon body and her pale-white pearl core. She easily formed barriers, walls, chains, even spears of ‘aura’ effortlessly. Manipulating her ‘aura’ was surprisingly supremely simple. Morrigan was stunned, she thought that Hebe would be a good match for the ‘aural’ technique, but this…! Wasn’t Hebe basically a prodigy in using ‘aura’!? It took Morrigan months to gain enough mastery to make a simple barrier…

 

“Alright little sis, let us celebrate your success with a contract,” Morrigan said, with a defeated look on her face as she stepped away from her seat on the throne to the pale-white pearl core’s side.

 

“Ok!” Hebe happily responded.

 

“You should be able to instinctively initiate such a contract with me. A soul contract! One of equals, where both participants give up a part of soul to the other to connect them for a lifetime,” Morrigan said, with a shaky smile.

 

The two, a dungeon and a mysteriously powerful raven bound their souls together for a lifetime, as equals. Hebe at the time was absolutely bursting with happiness and did not notice Morrigan’s sad expression.

 

“Here, take this, as a binding gift, little sis. May we meet soon again in circumstances just as bright!” Morrigan said, throwing the bright ring on her finger onto the pale-white pearl core. The ring sunk into the pale-white pearl and floated within the gaseous haze harmoniously like a newly born star within a nebula.

 

“Meet again?” Hebe asked, confused.

 

“Farewell, little sis. I will return when you are strong enough to handle a relationship with me! It was fun, but I don’t want my enemies to find and destroy your beautiful heart. Get stronger quickly, ok!” Morrigan said, as she returned to her true form as a iridescent black raven that shone purple under the light.

 

“No, big sis! Stay!” Hebe yelled with panic, attempting to lock Morrigan in the hidden chamber. She failed. Morrigan swiftly flew away into the distance with a sad caw of sorrow.

 

Hebe was crushed. The last thing that she expected today was for her elder sister to leave. Apparently when she meant that she would be giving her last lesson, she really meant it as in the last lesson that she would give for some time. Hebe swore to herself then, on the new soul connection that she felt strongly binding her to her elder sister, that her strength would grow. Fast enough to see her big sister again as soon as possible. Grand enough that when she did Morrigan would not be able to so easily escape her grasp again!

 

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Sky Dungeon—Chapter 3: Learning how to wield more magics

The next day quickly arrived as Hebe the dungeon swiftly digested the lessons that she had received the day prior and observed the fluctuations of her mana closely. Of the 10,000 spheres of mana that she currently possessed, only 10% or 1,000 mana were reliably ‘free’ for Hebe to spend. Of course, the mana fluctuated quite often as she observed throughout the rest of last night, sometimes freeing up the mana that she could use by as much as 500 spheres!

 

Unfortunately, during the night Hebe finally noticed as she kept track of the various mana ‘costs’ that she was paying that a large portion of her mana, as much as 60% or 6,000 spheres of her mana was currently being used to propel the cloud part of her body through the air. One mustn’t forget that Hebe was a unique dungeon whose body did not consist solely of a grand temple of white quartz and a winding green staircase of jade but of the cloud that the grand temple rested on and the stairs wound around as well. Thus Hebe resembled a gorgeous fluffy white mountain moving through the skies that had a long winding staircase climbing up its surface to a grand temple of several hundred meters on its peak.

 

In any case, despite Hebe’s best efforts to run her body more efficiently, even the 500 spheres of mana was just a temporary fluctuation at best. A fluctuation gained by taking advantage of the magic saturated location in the sky that Hebe happened to fly through at the time. In actual fact, as Hebe flew further along the sky through the cloud part of her body, she noticed an alarming increase in the rate of her mana consumption that indicated that even the 1,000 spheres of mana that she currently had ‘open’ would soon be closed off to her. As far as Hebe could tell, the cause of the new mana that was being siphoned away as part of her upkeep or maintenance ‘costs’, was a drop in the surroundings’ ambient magic as she continued to fly forward. Was this level of variance in ambient magic normal?! Hebe frantically wondered as the amount of ‘free’ mana that she had steadily dropped. Just as Hebe was about to halt her flight forward and reverse her direction the booming sound of flapping wings reverberated in her audience chamber as her elder sister in her raven form flew in.

 

“Ready for your next lesson?” Morrigan asked with twinkling eyes, as she jarringly let loose her croaking laughter at the moment she shifted into her human form. As always, the sound of Morrigan’s laughter deeply contrasted her beautiful and seductive appearance. A shining blue ring was conspicuously placed on her right hand’s ring finger, but the impatient Hebe completely ignored it after very briefly noting its existence.

 

“Yes!” Hebe practically screamed, as she eagerly responded. Morrigan crossed the remaining distance between herself and Hebe’s pale-white pearl core with a single step, sliding past the doors of the hidden chamber that contained it and the huge silvery fountain that was attached to one of the said doors without batting an eye. As Morrigan passed the fountain, her hand stroked it tenderly in an imperceptible motion given the speed of her movements.

 

“First I will teach you two of my favorite magics! They are very useful things to have in any situation, eh? You will love them, little sis. I guarantee it,” Morrgian said, hyping up her magics a bit to Hebe with a proud expression. Hebe’s excitement skyrocketed and tainted the air around her pale-white core with happiness. Even the gaseous haze within he core flashed with brighter colors.

 

“The first is the one that I use the most often, magical ‘marking’,” Morrigan said with a somewhat sinister expression on her delicate features. She raised a hand and gathered her mana, manifesting a magical apparition of a mischievous raven. The raven cawed once, loudly, and dived into Hebe’s pale-white pearl core, dissipating on contact. It left behind the distinct glyph of a raven, with spread wings and an ominous presence, next to the runes of Hebe’s name. Hebe could feel a strong connection had formed between herself and her elder sister, intangible and with seemingly infinite variations. The glyph could be gentle or fierce, it could harm or aid, it could track or shroud- all based on the whims of the caster, Hebe had no control over it at all. Hebe could feel that if Morrigan desired it, the glyph could even hide itself from her perception and seemingly fade away into oblivion, its connection faint and light as a feather.

 

“To use this magic you have to fill your magic with the essence of your being. Let the magic be a shadow of your own nature and cast it away onto another,” Morrigan explained somewhat vaguely to Hebe’s utter confusion.

 

“I understand you must be confused, little sister, but just try it. You will see,”Morrigan gently urged with a confident voice. Hebe’s enthusiasm undaunted, she flung her confusion aside and focused on following her elder sister’s instructions, having faith in Morrigan’s judgement.

 

Hebe reached inwards and sought the essence of her being. Who was she really, aside from a dungeon? Too young to have acrued many other facets to her persoality she found it easier than most to find her essence. Riding free and unrestrained on the winds of the world, chained down by only a singular object that was the target of her emotions- her elder sister. A cold adventurer, only inexperienced and as of yet too naive, Hebe’s essence was unlikely to change within her lifetime. Hebe took that essence and envisioned a shadow of its nature into existence. A cloud, cold and distant but free and unrestrained, formed in the air and with but a thought, it flew onto the unresisting Morrigan, dissipating into a cloud glyph which tattooed her left wrist.

 

Now Hebe could feel a bond, many magnitudes weaker than the raven glyph, that came from herself and bound itself to Morrigan. It could similarly be used in an infinite variety of ways, though it felt oddly stifled on Morrigan’s body, like a tiny mouse posturing before a mighty dragon. In any case, Hebe understood that if her elder sister wished to cast off the glyph, she could do so effortlessly. If the young dungeon wished to forcefully use the ‘marking’ magic on others, they would have to be within an acceptable range of her own abilities.

 

“Excellent!” Morrigan smilingly said.

 

“Now for my second favorite magic, magical ‘pressure’,” Morrigan exclaimed, demonstrating the said magic a moment later, with bravado. Her magic burst out of her body like a gale and rushed into the surroundings, covering the entirety of the hidden chamber, before dissipating, seemingly vanished or spent. The next moment proved that conception to be false as the air swiftly became denser at a huge rate per minute. It soon became so dense that the marble floors and quartz walls of the hidden chamber, that could withstand the terrifying impact of up to 10^6 kg (1 million kilograms), began to show webs of cracks on their pristine surface. The air itself was so dense that it had quickly gone to a liquid phase as it had compressed in the hidden chamber, trapping everything within- other than Morrigan and Hebe’s core- in a cage of liquefied gaseous substances. Hebe was aghast as the liquid gases, which consisted primarily of nitrogen, released a freezing temperature of more than -200 degrees Celsius. Just the cold alone was more than enough to kill Hebe many times over if it touched her core, let alone the crushing grip of the condensed gases. Luckily, Morrigan made sure to protect Hebe’s core with a shield of magic during this process.

 

Hebe was about to speak to Morrigan telepathically once more, thinking the display of the ‘pressure’ magic over, when to her horror, she saw the show was still in progression. Next, the condensed gases were gently lowered back down to their original pressures and gaseous states, as if the liquid gases were to be released they would have exploded with titanic force the moment that they came in contact with the warmer air and lower pressure of the atmosphere in the adjacent audience chamber. But that is not all that occurred, as the ‘pressure’ magic than pushed the air molecules out of the hidden chamber, lessening the density of the gases, until the whole chamber became a vacuum in moments.

 

Hebe’s floating pale-white pearl core remained unaffected, due to its hovering being caused by gravity magic but her mana seemed to want to burst out of her core and fill up the empty space. Like a balloon with many minuscule holes ripped into it, Hebe’s core began leaking despite her best efforts. Hebe was stunned. ‘The ‘pressure’ magic is sucking away my magic!?’ she thought. And indeed it was, since as time passed the vacuum’s vortex seemed to grow stronger and pulled away greater portions of her magic. The leaks became streams and the pale-white pearl’s gaseous haze started shrinking. Fortunately, Morrigan noticed and slowly reversed the ‘pressure’ magic. Releasing the ‘pressure’ magic abruptly in this instance was as similarly dangerous as with the previous demonstration of it. Had Morrigan abruptly released the ‘pressure’ magic, the adjacent’s room’s atmosphere and magic would have rushed into the hidden chamber like an unstoppable tsunami and completely destroyed the space.

 

“How do I use it! Big sister, please teach me how!” Hebe immediately asked with great excitement. Her language skills at this point could be considered to be quite good, her foreign memories boosting her progress by a great deal.

 

“Ok, ok. Calm down,” Morrigan said with a raucous giggle.

 

“The atmosphere here consists heavily of various gases and ambient magic, with a minimal amount of small solid or liquid particles being scattered about as well. To use ‘pressure’ magic you simply need to disperse your magic into the surroundings and bind them to the atmosphere. At that point attracting more of the atmosphere to gather using the bit you have in our control will increase the pressure of atmospheric particles in the vicinity and can be used to bind a target, repressing their movements and mana flow. Repelling the atmosphere is even easier as you only need to banish the atmosphere in your control to the periphery of an area. This will make the target lighter and faster but it will also drain their stamina and mana at a much faster rate than usual as their oxygen and magic drains out of their body. Alternatively, the vacuum created by repelling the atmosphere can also be used to deprive the target of ambient magic, useful for beings such as monsters that rely on it to thrive,” Morrigan explained, making Hebe a bit uncomfortable at the thought of being denied ambient magic.

 

“But how do you liquify the air like that? Can I do that too!?” Hebe stubbornly asked.

 

“Yes, little sis. You can. With practice,” Morrigan wryly responded to the slightly disappointed Hebe.

 

“Go on then. Let’s see what you can do, eh?” Morrigan immediately urged Hebe, wanting her to strike while the iron was hot.

 

Hebe attempted to do as Morrigan had instructed and sent a burst of magic from her core to the surroundings, filling the hidden chamber. However, binding the magic to the atmosphere the first time failed. Hebe felt frustrated, thus far everything she had done had easily succeeded.

 

“Well, I will leave you to it,” Morrigan said, bored as soon as she saw that it would take Hebe a while to figure the magic out. Morrigan returned to her true form and took flight, shooting out of the hidden chamber and then out of the dungeon entirely in one flap of her wings. The disconcerting sight of a raven emitting a sultry female voice occurred, Morrigan’s voice trailing behind it: “I’ll see you tomorrow for your last lesson!”

 

Another attempt was made by Hebe as she released her magic, and once more she failed to accomplish the task. Again and again Hebe stubbornly tried, and time after time she failed to properly enact the ‘pressure’ magic. Eventually, Hebe was forced to admit defeat as she carefully considered the problem.

 

“What am I doing wrong?” Hebe muttered.

 

“I did exactly what big sis did! Yet…!” Hebe said, with frustration lacing her voice.

 

That is when Hebe remembered an important facet of magic, its ‘feeling’! Every time Hebe has ever used magic she guided it with two things: intent, which determined the form that the magic would take and had to be backed by a certain knowledge or instinct, and ‘feeling’, as she used emotions, thoughts, or memories to help the magic manifest. Without having the appropriate ‘feeling’, of course Hebe would continue to fail to evoke the ‘pressure’ magic. For Morrigan, casting the spell obviously had a dominating ‘feeling’ of binding the atmosphere to her will. She ruled the area like a queen and commanded it to do her bidding as though it were natural for it to do so and the magic responded likewise.

 

“That’s it! ‘Feeling’! How could I forget!? But what do I ‘feel’? How do I bind the atmosphere with my magic? Clearly just releasing a burst of my magic alone is not enough for me to claim the vicinity? But if not that then how!?” Hebe absentmindedly said.

 

Then Hebe’s experiments began. She recalled every thought, emotion, or memory that she had that had to do with binding. Unfortunately, with Hebe’s limited experience, her ‘feelings’ were basically limited to what Morrigan told her and her dungeon instincts…

 

“Wait! The foreign memories. They are the key!” Hebe exclaimed after a long but fruitless brainstorming session. If she could not properly ‘feel’ the ‘pressure’ magic due to her lac of experience, then she could just plunder from the convenient bounty of experience that was right in her own mind, the foreign memories.

 

With that idea in mind, Hebe dove into her foreign memories for what had to be the fiftieth time. The foreign memories simply encapsulated far too great a period of time for Hebe to properly make heads or tails out of it. Other than the memory with the fountain and certain key memories of important that had greater emotional weight attached to them, the foreign memories were but a blur. However, this time was different. Rather than aimlessly perusing the seemingly endless sea of foreign memories, Hebe only called out to it to show her its strongest memory bound to the idea of binding.

 

Hebe was transported to a vivid memory of being caught by a vicious trap that a brave and powerful group of adventurers had set up. Despite her power being so much greater than the human ‘ants’ and in spite of the huge numbers of her fearsome legion of monsters, the human adventures had trapped her. And in her sea domain no less. As the monster queen raged futilely against her bonds, she was forced to watch, powerless, as the adventurers pilfered her castle and made away with some of her treasure. That day the traps bound not just her body or her magic but bound too her complacence, replacing it with the resolve to become even stronger. To reach the true apex such that she could not be helpless even if she begged for it…

 

“A trap?…A trap!” Hebe exclaimed as she set about adding one of the few essential things that her dungeon lacked.

 

With a brief exertion of her will, some of the tiles in the audience chamber began to change. The first trap that she made was also her most powerful, ‘spending’ 100 spheres of mana to create a tile that would use her newly learned magical ‘marking’ to attach a tracking glyph onto the body of whoever stepped on it then would summon a streaking comet from the realistic ‘living’ mural on the ceiling of the audience chamber to smash the ‘marked’ individual with said comet. At the first rank of the tile trap, a spherical comet of 20 meters in diameter (a volume 1.7 times bigger than an Olympic swimming pool) and 10^7 kg (10 million kilograms) would crush the ‘marked’ individual into oblivion. Even the marble floor would be destroyed by the comet when it hit, as it could only handle strength up to 10^6 kg (1 million kilograms) and the impact would exceed it tolerance by ten times. In spite of the trap only being effective for a few uses, it was definitely sufficiently powerful.

 

Inspired by her trap’s power, Hebe then confidently went on to use the ‘pressure’ magic to form traps of similar power. Dozens of other tiles began to change in the several hundred meters of the audience chamber haphazardly. The weaker traps collectively cost 100 spheres of mana and could be used repeatedly dozens of times. These traps bound the target that stepped on them in place with increased pressure magic while summoning destructive beams of magic from the ‘living’ mural on the ceiling above. During the daytime, the mural depicting a starry night sky would use the closest cluster of stars to send down the beams of destructive magic. During the nighttime, the mural depicting a sunny blue sky would use the drifting clouds to send down beams of destructive magic. The stronger traps of the other hand were two tiles, one that only worked in the day and one that only worked in the night. These two tiles only worked a few times and each cost 50 spheres of mana to maintain. They would send down gargantuan beams of destructive magic from the ‘living’ mural’s moon during its depiction of the night and its sun during its depiction of the day. These solar and lunar beams had enough destructive power to melt the sturdy marble floor in a radius of 10 meters around one of the two tiles, when activated.

 

Lastly, Hebe gathered her remaining energy and ‘spent’ 100 spheres of mana on a group of unique tiles. When someone stepped on any one of the group of unique tiles, that collectively covered 30 meters of space, a pitfall trap would be activated and a 30 meter wide hole would open up that led all the way through the hundred meter thick grand temple and its mountain of a cloud to the sky below. Presumably that hapless individual or group of individuals would then fall to their deaths. Of course, ‘pressure’ magic was also cleverly utilized here by Hebe to form a vacuum throughout the long tunnel, leading downwards. This vacuum would inevitably suck in any nearby individuals that triggered the trap to their early demise. The vacuum was also cleverly made weak enough that an individual with a mass equal to or greater than her prodigiously heavy 10^6 kg (1 million kilogram) statue golems would be safe from its suction.

 

Observing her creations and her surprisingly flawless use of ‘pressure’ magic, Hebe smiled and looked forward eagerly to the morrow. In the meantime, Hebe used her remaining time to dive back into her foreign memories in another search for knowledge. This time, Hebe attempted to direct her search through the massive sea of foreign memories to important moments depicting various ‘feelings’ and to instances where magics of note were cast. Next time Hebe had to learn a new magic or cast an unfamiliar spell, she would be ready!

 

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Sky Dungeon—Chapter 2: The might of a Dungeon’s magic

“Is there a…system? One for magic, that you use? To measure it. To compare ‘feelings’. To know for certain and be safe,” Hebe carefully structured her questions in a somewhat odd manner, though her communication skills improved by leaps and bounds with every passing hour that the unlocked foreign memories were given to seep into her soul.
“Eh, a system for measuring magic? I suppose there is. Why is this so important to you? You know, with your kinds’ instincts it would be hard for you to actually overdraw your power,” Morrigan asked with a cocked eye-brow and a faint smile hanging on her cherry-red lips, as she skipped over the space between them to stand by Hebe’s core from her perch on the throne.
“Better safe than sorry,” Hebe gave a firm reply that elicited a chuckle from Morrigan.
“It’s better if I just show you than if I tell you though. Especially given your instincts, this sway will be far more clear,” Morrigan said as she strode back out of the hidden chamber with one stride and into the reception hall once more. Hebe’s consciousness expanded and followed. Observing any events within her own body was but mere child’s play to her and was done effortlessly.
Morrigan stood before one of the statues closest to the entrance. The statue of the mysterious human mage. She reached out her dainty hands and summoned forth a small flickering flame.
“Your race, the monster race of dungeons, can be said to be a truly unique and awe-inspiring marvel of nature. No other race can compare to you when it comes to the sheer magnitude of your creation magics. It is said that the density of a dungeon’s magic is equal to the gods themselves,” Morrigan said with a slight twitch of her lips as she continued to hold the small flickering flame aloft before the statue. Hebe listened intently, an apt pupil afraid to miss a single word.
“I am now showing you one sphere, or one unit, of internal magical energy, or mana, by summoning this flame. Of course, this flame is only enough to be equivalent to one sphere of a human’s mana, which is said to have a magical density that is 1/10,000th the magical density of dungeons,” Morrigan calmly explained before flashing over to a second statue, that of the sturdy dwarf bent over the forge.
“The dwarves and the giants ironically share the same level of magical density! They are said to have 1/1000th the magical density of dungeons. This is one sphere of their mana,” Morrigan said with a light snicker and a twinkle in her eyes, savoring some joke that only she seemed privy to. A small fireball hovered above her outstretched hand. She flashed to the next statue, the alluring elven woman that wielded the bow.
“Elves are said to have 1/100th the magical density of dungeons,” Morrigan patiently continued to explain. Hovering over her palm was a giant fireball that shone with a dim light but concealed fearsome power. In the next moment, she was before the statue of the enchanting, winged, fae woman in the blink of an eye.
“Fae are the best magi of the magical races, with only demons being close to their match. Fae are said to have 1/10th the magical density of dungeons with demons being a bit worse at around 1/15th. This is one sphere of a fae’s mana,” Morrigan said. The tame giant fireball that was hovering above her pretty hand was replaced by a raging inferno that sought to consume all in sight.
“Last but very far from least, this is what one sphere of your mana should feel like,” Morrigan said as she stepped over many meters to the side of Hebe’s 16cm wide pale-white pearl core. One of the fingers on her left hand gently tapped on the pale-white pearl, to guide its internal mana into the ‘feeling’ of one unit of magical energy. Meanwhile the single sphere of mana that represented a dungeon’s magical density was showcased over Morrigan’s right hand. The sphere of mana was a blazing star of heat and flame, a concentrated ball of licking flames and pure destruction. A few seconds later, the mana stopped and the magic vanished from the air.
Hebe was in awe of Morrigan’s knowledge and the control that she had displayed. She was also internally amazed at the magical superiority of dungeons. The young dungeon totally missed the implications of Morrigan being able to casually produce the magical density of a deity for her perusal. Instead Hebe pensively imitated the demonstrated flow of mana as she ‘felt’ how many spheres of mana she currently possessed.
“10,000 spheres!?” Hebe exclaimed in shock. Of course, most of that mana was being passively funneled into various uses, such as maintaining the statue golems’ power and infusing the dungeon’s body to give it insanely swift regenerative properties. Only a meager 10% of Hebe’s mana was actually available for use, with 1,000 spheres of mana open for her to ‘spend’ at any time.
“What about the other three?” Hebe asked the amused Morrigan after she calmed down enough to let more of her curiosity shine through.
“The magical density of monsters and magical creatures vary widely, though monsters are consistently known to have far greater quantities of mana than any other races. Beastmen, on the other hand, are not considered a magical race as they are bereft of any magical gifts. Beastmen’s forte lay in their immense physical strength and their unique physiques that absorb far more magic than any other races in order to nurture their bodily prowess. They are a bit like the animal version of spiritual herbs, containing plenty of magic but with no feasible way to use it,” Morrigan quickly asserted, with an elegant flip of her long, flowing, iridescent black hair.
The young dungeon was skeptical to hear from her elder sister about the beastmen’s lack of magic. To a being like her whose very existence was sustained by draining the ambient magic in her body’s surroundings and that had a soul as inseperable from magic as a fire was inseperable from heat, she simply could not fathom being magic-less. The idea was as odd to Hebe as the notion of a sky without a sun or a night without the moon. Her foreign memories however, did contain many vestiges of interactions with the so called ‘spiritual herbs’ that Morrigan spoke of, so Hebe had some inkling of what her elder sister was trying to convey.
Spiritual herbs are normal plants that due luck, peculiar genetics, or special environments were able to absorb the ambient magics around them, much like dungeons do for sustenance, but on a much smaller scale. These miraculous plants still underwent photosynthesis for sustenance and only used the absorbed magics to improve on their bodily constitution, inevitably accruing a significant amount of beneficial magics over a long period of time. Sometimes, the spiritual herbs in Hebe’s memories even had other special effects, like the ability to emit the hottest fires or to radiate the iciest frost. Hebe dearly wished to see such wonders with her own senses.
“I suppose if you are still that worried about conserving your resources, I should tell you another important detail,” Morrigan said recapturing Hebe’s attention, as she mistakenly construed her extended silence as she contemplated spiritual herbs and beastmen to be unassuaged worries.
“You would have discovered it for yourself soon enough anyway, eh?” Morrigan muttered.
“When you summon things using your creation magic, there are two methods of doing so- each of which have their own distinct advantages,” Morrigan said to the eager Hebe her hovering consciousnesses giving one the sense of a wide-eyed little girl. Evidently, as Morrigan suspected, Hebe had not yet realized that her creation magic did not always work the same way.
“The first method is simple. You use your abundant creation magics to form a structure or a living being out of condensed magical energy. These energy structures can be called manifestations of magic and are naught but simulacrum of their true counterparts. The living beings made this way will all be incomparably real, their souls formed from strands of your own soul/magical energy source, but since they were born of magic, they belong to the monster race. As I told you once before, as a rank 1 dungeon, you can summon three different varieties of monsters, an example of one being the statue golems that line the audience chamber,” Morrigan explained.
“Of course living things are not that simple and can also be formed by your creation magic as nothing more than common wildlife and trees instead of as monsters. The only caveat is that they will not be true living creatures. Though such creations may possess flesh and blood, they will lack the souls unique to the living. These beings are nothing more than shadows, incorporeal dreams that seek life but never find it,” Morrigan stated firmly before continuing with her main point.
“This first method of utilizing your creation magic will be much cheaper and your creations will become magical residue when killed or destroyed, easily re-absorbed by your dungeon body. The monsters, on the other hand, can also be re-absorbed but since they posses true flesh and blood, they must be broken down and re-converted to magical energy in a process that only dungeons know how to instinctively activate. This process is incapable of being used to dispose of living beings as their souls will hold their bodies together and resist external influences. However, even when the process is successfully carried out on a dead individual, powerful fragments will often remain behind, as will the cores of monsters, which are simply too dense to break down in a short period of time. Any objects formed with the first technique will lose their cohesion and break down outside of your dungeon body if they do not possess a core,” Morrigan said to a speculative Hebe, briefly lost in thought as she wondered about the varied applications of this method of using creation magic.
“As for the second method that your creation magic is used, the execution is complex. The second way is to convert magic into actual substances, essentially ‘creating something from nothing’ so to speak. When you use this method, you need to have an intimate understanding of the object or the living being that you wish to create or else it will fail. The moment of your birth, when you substantialized your entire body in the form of the grand temple, was a singular exception, as dungeons can always bring to bear their first forms rather easily. Luckily, though you have not yet experienced this phenomenon, dungeons have the ability to gain an intricate understanding of objects that they break down and absorb. The only downside to the ability is that the more complex or powerful the object or being in question is, the greater the magnitude of its kind you will have to absorb to attain the necessary level of insight to replicate their forms. Additionally, success of this second technique is limited as the price to accomplish the task of substantializing even a simple pouch of coins can be great,” Morrigan finished.
Hebe thanked Morrigan and begged out of lessons for the remainder of that day as she had a considerable amount of new information to think through and analyze. Morrigan easily gave assent and returned to her raven form, flying out of the dungeon and into the night sky as she went out to do who-knows-what until the next day arrived. Hebe heaved a mental sigh of exhaustion. Despite having no need for sleep, as an untiring dungeon monster, she felt utterly wiped by the sheer amount of information and quantity of perspective changes she had unexpectedly received that day.
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