Chapter Seventeen: Taking Form
Brandr gave a single glance at the stunned sprite lord, before monitoring his internal processes. His passive essence gathering was skyrocketing. He could actually feel his cultivation base increase slightly which was a surprise considering just how much essence he’d spent to expand his domain. Only now did he recall that it was his body that drew in ether and converted it into mana.
Initially, he’d assumed that it was a trivial statement but it wasn’t. If his body, the dungeon, was a sort of filter or converter then didn’t that mean that the larger it was the more mana he’d gain? It was something Brandr was willing to test but regrettably, he seemed to have hit some sort of cap. He was unable to expand any further no matter what he did.
Ar first, he intended to create the dungeon similar to how he’d forge an estate treasure but that idea was stupid. He was going to be breeding beasts and training up daemons. With this in mind, he imagined his domain as a holding space instead. At his command, everything started to shift. Claiming all the land he could grab only granted him an area of twelve kilometres. Using nothing but his essence and the strange sense that allowed him to know everything in his domain, he cut out the network of caverns he would need.
It had been relatively easy. The only thing that made it slightly difficult was the formation he was using to layout his domain. No cultivator would simply build willy-nilly especially not when he required a permanent home. Every sect, palace or major residence had a formation that acted as its foundation many had several including some fr gathering essence, defence and attack.
Brandr chose the [Five Spring Lakes Formation]. It was relatively easy to lay out. He had the tunnels act as river leading inwards and the general layout of his floor go southeast. Keeping in mind what Brandr said and drawing heavily on his memories. He carved out five major areas. The first three were relatively isolated, scattered lakes to his rivers whilst the fourth was a massive open area that would be his main lake. The final would be his boss room as the sprite had called it in his memories.
The [Spring Lake Formation] was not a defensive formation nor was it an attack one. It accumulated energy and if he’d laid it right will greatly boost the lives and metabolism of his creatures. He considered laying an attack formation first because of the troll but the troll was a momentary foe. He needed to build for the long term. Defensive and attack formations would come later, to discourage those who would have ideas on his core.
|First Floor Complete!|
Given that he could not expand any further and that the layout and structures were finished, it truly was. The only problem was that it was empty. Numerous hallways, massive caverns and nothing to hold. Thankfully, he had tonnes of ideas on how to decorate his place. Browsing his personal screens, he wondered if there was a way he could…there was!
|Floors: 1/5||Guardians: 0||Elite: 0|
|Assistant: Thorn Clearwing – Sprite Lord|
|CURRENT FLOOR: 1||MAP|
|Chambers: 5||Hallways: 11||Features||Fixtures|
Consulting his world link, he quickly grasped the meaning of what was displayed. The guardians were the creatures that Thorn called Bosses in his memories. They were usually the most powerful creatures on their floor, bulwarks that prevented invaders from making it to the next stage of the dungeon and closer to the core.
Elite were notable creatures. If the guardian was a king, they were his lords and generals. Some commanded armies, others led their people whilst others simply defended the dungeon to the best of their ability on their own. If Thorn wasn’t his assistant, a term Brandr already liked much better than guide, he would be an elite. The lord of his sprites.
The screen had a useful feature that allowed him to look at a single floor on a macro level. It was something he knew would be useful for when he had more than one level. For example, there was an interactive map and view that allowed him to see exactly what was happening to the whole floor or a single place.
It also allowed him to examine and customise his floor and its features. Brandr did not waste any time assigning his lightstones as a fixture of the floor and even the dungeon as a whole. This caused them to form automatically in the ceiling at certain intervals throughout the dungeon. Thinking ahead, he set them in a simple twenty-four-hour cycle. Each kind of lightstone would alternate between twelve hours of activity and inactivity so as to simulate day and night. As for traps, he understood what they were and their purpose but he chose to leave them for later.
He was more interested in his inhabitants and codex. The former displayed the floor’s/dungeon’s creatures and plants, as well as their homes, whilst the later had a complete list of all the things he had available, either by means of his world link, devoured essence or importation from the outside world. As of now, the only plants were the ones he had made in his experiments. As for fauna, he’d killed everything that stepped into the dungeon except the sprites and what they brought in.
Looking into the codex, he selected everything he could. Unfortunately, the only creatures he had available were insects, vermin, four birds and one particularly burly badger. Brandr left the more complex creatures out, plans for the badger already taking shape in his mind. As for the rest?
“Come with me!” he told Thorn. “We’ll do this on the move.”
That said, he took off down the hallway, moving away from the entrance and deeper into his domain. Thorn quickly followed and in so doing, became witness to a spectacular sight.
As they flew, the world came to life around them. More sun and moonstones appeared on the ceiling. Plants began to sprout from the ground, accompanied by the occasional beetle or insect. The effect was completely randomised but kept localised to the area around the dungeon core. This drained his essence faster than Brandr was prepared for. Despite how vigorously he channelled his method, he couldn’t quite keep up with the consumption.
At some point, Brandr realised that his assistant had fallen behind. Turning around, he saw the sprite lord simply floating in the air, staring around in wonder. Brandr nearly told him to snap out of it but he took a moment to look around as well and see the changes he had wrought.
His formerly dark, dank dungeon was now awash with bright sunlight. Plants of varying kinds including shrubs and the saplings of trees had shot from the floor, giving it a dense undergrowth that not only changed the look but the quality of the air itself. The once silent hallway had gained a chorus of insects who strove to make themselves heard. Brandr immediately sobered as he took in the implications of what he had just done. He could feel them. He could feel every single living thing in his domain. He could feel the rocks and air too but this was different. This was life! He’d been too focused on the actual task to see what he’d actually accomplished. He had created life with nothing but his will and an application of essence.
Even as a god, he’d never accomplished such a feat. He’d witnessed cultivators create forests in a blink of their eyes, seen others breed fearsome daemons and he himself had forged living artefacts but this was different. Was life really so easy to create? No! It definitely wasn’t. It was a concept that most beings of laws could barely touch. Nonetheless, he’d brought a world to life in a way that was wholly different from any estate artefact he had ever artificed and he had done so with hair-raising ease.
It was even more frightening when you considered that he’d soon be able to create not just more but create things of such order and magnitude that they’d eclipse anything he did now like the moon did fireflies. Adding to this, he’d have complete and total control of their lives, souls and fates. The realisation was sobering and haunting. ‘This is not a power that mortals can grasp’, Brandr said to himself in realisation.
He was a dungeon, a sort of mystic realm, a being created to alleviate the world’s essence needs. These were just simple tags. No mystic realm could birth life on a whim. Essence was life true but control of essence was not control of life. Having once been a Daolord, Brandr knew this for certain. That a supposedly simple creature, a newborn like he was supposed to be, could so easily achieve feats that most beings of laws couldn’t, did not make any sense.
What was he really?