Chapter One: Newborn
The earth was still, just like the earth was wont to be when it wasn’t rumbling and quaking. A moment later, that changed. There was no quake, no rumble but the earth was still no more. Mana, the lifeblood of the world began to gather around a previously ordinary ruby. Slowly, the ruby grew larger, absorbing the offered essence until it no longer could. When that happened, the strange consciousness within it, the very same one that had provoked that reaction, evolved completely, becoming something else. It became a dungeon core.The newly awakened dungeon core stretched its senses out, ‘seeing’ outside itself for the first time. Despite having no eyes, it possessed perceptive abilities that made it fully capable of determining exactly what was happening within its sphere of influence which at this moment consisted of a single centimetre around its crystal. It found itself encased in solid rock. Immediately, its instincts flared up and it absorbed the restrictive material.
|New material gained: Marble|
Instinctively pleased with this new notification, the hungry dungeon core continued to absorb all the material around it could find. This was good. Something told it that the more things it ‘ate’ the bigger it would grow and the greater it would become. Following this instinctive drive, it devoured all the marble it could reach, growing all the while. Time was meaningless to the crystal so over an undefined period, it went about its business, eating materials and absorbing mana. From a single centimetre, its influence grew to cover a radius of nearly a metre. Eventually, it encountered something that gave it pause.
There were several other crystals around it. At first, it wasn’t sure what to do. Extending its senses into the other crystals, it discovered that they were nothing like it at all. They were empty and devoid of life. Thus, it followed its instincts and devoured every crystal it found.
|New material gained: Ruby|
|New material gained: Sapphire|
The dungeon core was happy. It knew that each new material and notification made it more powerful. However, it was a little worried. It had been working in a single direction for a while now, guided by an inherent sense of direction. Being young, it wasn’t sure where it was going but it could tell that it should have reached there by now. The problem, some instinct informed him, lay in his diet. The marble was difficult to digest. Also, there was a surprising lack of something. It wasn’t sure what that was, only that it was important. It felt its first inkling of worry. Thankful, it had this confidence that when it reached its objective it would have lots of whatever that was.
|New material gained: Lapis lazuli|
|New material gained: Spinel|
Slowly, the dungeon continued tunnelling towards its objective. Picking up varieties of marble, ruby, sapphire, lapis lazuli and spinel, it grew more and more powerful. The material was strong and took a lot of time to absorb but it fed it quite well. With that and the surrounding mana, there was little to worry about.
Without warning, everything shook. A small rift opened in the open air of its corridor. From it came a small blur of gold, streaking through the air like a meteor. It had a strange energy but the dungeon could tell that it was something completely out of its league. The golden meteor fell out of the air, unable to sustain itself. In doing so, it revealed itself to be a damaged but golden humanoid figure about five centimetres tall. As if by the workings of fate, this figure fell a few centimetres away from the dungeon core, weakening at a shocking rate.
The core was filled with a feeling of impending crisis. Invader! Its instincts warned. It now knew that it had taken too long. It had no defences. It was not even fully formed. This was it at its most vulnerable. Alarmed, the core tried to burrow backwards but something gave it pause. It sensed from the strange intruder the very thing it had been missing, lifeforce.
Dungeon cores never form far from the surface. This is to ensure that the newborn core can actually tunnel its way there and create an entrance. Unfortunately for this particular specimen, it happened to spawn in solid marble. There was no dirt to be found. No dirt meant no easy route to the surface. It also meant no soil organisms. That was particularly bad. Dungeons grew from the materials they devoured. Sure it could get mana from its surroundings and from digesting the marble and gems it found but no living things meant no will, no creativity, no personality.
As soon as it sensed lifeforce, the dungeon went rabid. It was like a thirsty man finding an oasis after walking for days in the desert. Unable to help itself, it pounced. Dungeons need life to survive. Mana could sustain them but going without life was like going without water. The core did not know it but it was practically delirious and dehydrated. Many did not know it but it was exactly due to factors like this that many rabid or rogue dungeons were formed. Starved during their formation, they went wild, devouring every creature they came across and eventually, sending their monsters out into the world in search for more.
This one, however, had bitten off more than it could chew. The thing it was trying to devour was the fractured nascent divinity of a Dao Lord. The dying cultivator fought back with all it had and even on the verge of having his soul and dao dispersed it was still far greater than anything the young core could handle. It didn’t stand a chance.
|Warning: An unknown variation has occurred.|