Chapter Thirty-two: Dungeon Plan
The plan was simple. He was a dungeon, a living mystic realm that lured in creatures with the intention of devouring them or adding them to his ranks. His growth depended entirely on his prey. So, why not up their calibre? Instead of letting every Tom, Dick and Harry into his dungeon why not make it so only individuals with a certain tier of power would dare. Quantity was a quality of its own, true, but it was no excuse to not seek better things. At the end of the day, a single turkey provided more meat than a dozen sparrows.
By declaring himself an elite dungeon, Brandr hoped to deter weak adventurers from coming in whilst attracting strong ones. It was just like the mystic realms he had explored in his youth. There were many that lower tier cultivators were restricted from entering. Those who did were just going there to die. This did not stop people from entering. On the contrary, because these realms were so dangerous, not to mention filled with resources that were only useful for people of a certain tier, they incredibly popular instead. For the powerful, the chance of further increasing their power was something they could not resist and for the weak, the knowledge that there were great resources just out of reach was one of the greatest motivators in existence.
“We will turn the first three floors into a testing ground. A place for adventurers to get used to this dungeon and the things in it”, Brandr told his assistant.
“For example, that sure kill trap you complained about a few days ago, the one that released spikes from the ceiling, floor and walls. I will redesign it, reducing its area and adding a conspicuous glyph that will flash twice before the spikes are released, the first when the trap is triggered and the second right before actual release. In truth, the actual trigger will be a weak proximity ward that senses mana signatures. Hopefully, they will eventually take note of this and work to either disable the ward or deceive it. To this end, I will make the ward’s mana fluctuations more obvious. After the third floor, however, I will take away the glyph, leaving them only the ward and its fluctuations.”
Thorn’s heart went cold at this. That was a trap not even he was confident in evading. The glyph would help but he doubted anyone could adapt to its mechanism as quickly as the dungeon core described.
“I will also add a similar trap with a reverse pitfall instead of spikes”, his master was saying.
“The mechanism will be the same they will only differ in effects”, Brandr explained. “As for the floors themselves, they will be hunting grounds. I will not add anything fancy to them. The creatures and herbs will be all the reward the adventurers get. They will be allowed to hunt and forage as they please on the first. The second floor is where I will start adding challenges. Deer and pheasant will roam the second and third floors. They will be lead by elite that will fight off hunters in the case of the deer and hunt them back in the case of the pheasant.”
“You want pheasant to hunt adventurers?” Thorn asked in disbelief.
Brandr smiled. “Do not worry. I have plans for that.”
“What about loot?” Thorn asked.
“The loot screen has been very helpful”, his master admitted. “All creatures are automatically set to drop some of their parts. I will leave that unchanged for the first three floors. Like I said, only those capable of beating the guardians will receive my treasures.”
“What do you have in mind?” the sprite lord asked inquisitively.
“Equipment mostly”, Brandr answered. “You mentioned that some creatures drop potions and cores but I am not a master of alchemy but of the forge so I will stick to what I know best. Beast cores are rewards that I will only start giving on the fifth floor.”
“Really?” Thorn questioned. “Mana cores were special but not that special. You could usually guarantee on them dropping from a tenth of all dungeon creatures. He made this known to the dungeon core but all it did was shrug and say, “Mine are different.”
“Is the armoured bear settling in?”
“Yes!” Thorn answered. “Nettle was worried when all it did was eat at first but it has calmed since. We haven’t heard much since so my guess is that it is probably lying quietly somewhere. We should get a report when it starts hunting again.”
“It is resting in one of the dead-end tunnels off the first floors main chamber”, Brandr said. “Have someone check on it and lead it to the second. Once it has fallen under my control, I will modify it and make it the guardian of the second floor.”
“The second?” Thorn asked in surprise. “What of the third?”
“I am still considering that one. I am already committed to making the first three floors a trial. Thus, each floor should test something. The first will test composure under fire and the ability to cope with multiple opponents. Conversely, the second will test how they fare against a single, overwhelming powerful opponent”, he revealed.
“I would like the third guardian to be a test of how they will act when faced with a more skilful opponent. Sadly, we do not have anyone currently capable of filling that role. If that does not change, I will build a construct to act as guardian but until then, we will leave the post empty.”
The sprite lord’s eyes widened. Having become somewhat accustomed to his master’s standards, he tried to imagine what a test would be like if designed by the dungeon core and faltered. “Why not make the third trial a test of magic?” he suggested. “The bear is physically powerful and the blightwasps are many. Neither of them tests magic. While you design a skill check, you could have the adventurers face an opponent that can only be defeated with magic.”
Brandr thought it over. “That is a splendid idea. It does fit the theme. We can then have the first three floors be a test of power. The fourth, our true introduction, will and the ones that follow, affinity and skill. Power. Will. Skill. The only problem is what to use.”
Just then, an idea occurred to him.
“Have the wisps come to me!”
Author’s Notes: So now we know what Brandr has in mind for the poor unwary adventurers that be coming his way. Any xianxia/xuanhuan fan should see the Brandr’s trial grounds…cough… I mean dungeon taking shape. Fantastic rewards so long as you’re a one in a century/millennia genius. Everyone else? If you’re alive, take whatever crumbs you gained and f$%k off! Some part of me wants to pity the adventurer’s, they do not know what is coming. But I won’t!