Chapter Thirty-five: Evolution Boom
“Milord,” Lindrea announced. “I’ve come to report that it is happening again!”
The flustered sprite hovered in the air above Heim the faerythorn, right in front of the strange crystalline pavilion the dungeon core had created to house itself.
“The plants seem to be undergoing another major shift!” she announced. “… and dungeon creatures too”, she added as an afterthought.
Her excitement was palpable. It was an incredible thing to witness especially for a Lady of the Bloom. Plants transforming before your eyes as they ranked up, metamorphosising into new forms and gaining all kind of traits. Even seeing one or two would have been an occasion to celebrate. This was more than that. The entire dungeon appeared to be undergoing a major biome shift. At least a tenth of all its inhabitants appeared to be undergoing metamorphosis as they adapted to the high concentrations of ambient mana. Even those who did not experience the drastic transformations that came with the ranks ups were strengthened to a currently uncalculable degree by this.
They grew quicker, becoming more robust and fecund as time went by. Lindrea herself had seen a small patch of fescue completely colonise an entire passageway in a matter of days, all without aid. It seemed impossible. In fact, had she not seen it for herself, she would have said so herself. The same could be said about the animals and insects. They multiplied faster than she bothered to keep track of but she had seen amulet beetles pupate after only two months instead of two years. At first, she was concerned that this was detrimental and life-shortening but Brandr and the others put her fears to rest.
The dungeon’s influence, it seemed, was repurposing its creatures in several strange ways. The beetles, for instance, had been shifted so the growth phase was shorter and the adult, longer. This reduced the vulnerability of its larval stage and made it so its adult form, the one more useful for surviving in and defending the dungeon, would be more prominent. Whilst she was not sure how she felt about how even the more innocent of creatures were already adapting in preparation for conflict, she understood. It was for this same reason that the plants were growing so much more resilient and regenerative. In her mind’s eye, Lindrea could already see the sort of damage battles with adventurers would have on her groves and how the plants would recover, reclaiming lost land and clinging to life even when in tatters.
She prattled on, regaling the dungeon core with reports on the dungeon’s growth and development, suddenly aware that it was not just the plants and creatures that were changing. Brandr had not left his pavilion in over a week. Not only that, he had grown much larger. When they first took refuge in the dungeon, its core was small, a miniature figurine only six centimetres tall. Now, it was at least twenty. It had only been three months. This growth rate meant that it could grow taller than Hinell, the tallest sprite, inside of a year. It made Lindrea think Thorn’s descriptions of dungeon cores were not so farfetched at all; giant magical crystals several metres tall and wide.
More troubling was the fact that not all the changes thus far had been physical. Practically every sprite noticed that their master was becoming reclusive. He was spending increasing amounts of time with his eyes closed, sitting cross-legged in his pavilion. It had been over a week since he last stepped out. They were not sure what to make of it because, for starters, it was unusual for dungeon cores to move in the first place.
Still, Brandr increasing withdrawal was drawing concern.
Brandr gave the sprite a lazy look, wondering when this had become the norm. The primary reason behind the reports was so Thorn and Nettle could apprise him of situations that occurred outside the dungeon. For a moment he wondered if they had somehow forgotten the fact that he was practically omniscient when it concerned the happenings and goings inside his domain. Speaking of, the notifications he had muted during his cultivation had grown to clutter his field of vision.
[A Transformation has occurred! Amulet Beetle – Ward Beetle!]
[Congratulations! You have acquired a new creature! Codex Updated!]
He scanned them briefly, just enough to skim through their contents before dismissing them. They contained the same kind of information he had gotten from the last few shifts. Some dungeon creatures had ascended in rank triggering metamorphoses into variants of their species. Most remained the same only with the monikers Giant, or fast or voracious attached but others… He checked. The so-called ward beetle was just a bigger amulet beetle with the ability to extend its defensive abilities to envelop a small area around its body. Even so, being magical and rare, it was much better than the usual.
[A Unique transformation has occurred. Wisp tailed Moths — Etenvuur Mot]
[Congratulations! You have acquired a unique creature! Codex Updated!]
Brandr smiled to himself. This was more like it. Uncommon and rare variants were good but anything the world will recognised as unique was usually miles ahead of its contemporaries. Quickly selecting it in the codex, he read about it in detail.
[Race: Etenvuur Mot | Unique Species]
[Rank: 2 | Affinities: Fire, Darkness]
Description: For reasons unknown, moths are attracted to flames. That is not the case for this species of moth. Originating from the dungeon of Brandr Goldfire, nestled at the foot of the Battlehammer Mountains, Etenvuur or fire eating moths draw close to flames for one reason only, to devour their warmth. They are usually found nesting close to the dungeons unique sunstones from which they gain the majority of their sustenance. However, they also enjoy the tastes of the dungeon’s tinder fescue and even lay their eggs on these plants so their larvae can feed on them.
[MAG: G | CHR: G]
[Only found in the Dungeon of Brandr Goldfire]
-[Fire Eater]: The ability to devour flames
-[Darkness Descends]: Projection of a field of near absolute darkness
-[Moth Pyre]: Bursting into flames by drawing on devoured flames.
Brandr closed the codex, pleased with his new acquisition. These moths were bound to prove useful. Most rank two creatures merely had the ability to enhance themselves with their essence; [Mana Infusion], Thorn had called it. It was only uncommon creatures might possess a racial ability and rare creatures always had at least one but three? These moths deserved to be called unique. The best part, once one individual went through the change, it became easier for others of its former species to do so as well. he expected to have at least a dozen more by the close of the week.
That was a major relief. The more powerful the creatures in his domain became, the more they contributed to his growth. If there was one thing he needed right now, it was to grow faster. An increase in magical creatures was particularly welcome as that meant an increase in the amount of essence he harvested. Feeling the familiar twinge in his empty shell, he sighed in defeat and slipped back into cultivation. Essence was truly a scarce resource. With a sweep of his dungeon senses, he watched a group of sprites under the faerythorn practise according to the methods he had taught them.
‘I best find a solution before they realise’, he concluded. How he was going to do that when he was already stretched so thin, he did not know but he was going to anyway. He had to.
The term ‘evolution’ normally used in the genre to describe the ‘rank ups’ is a big misnomer. For one thing, evolution describes a gradual change in a population or species not he sudden change of an individual.
A more apt term would be metamorphosis which is the term used to describe the very similar change in butterflies, dragonflies, toads, newts, etc.
That’s not to say that those who use ‘evolution’ are wrong or that I know better. The reason for use of ‘evolution’ instead of metamorphosis is because the term was popularised by the japanese (pokemon, isekai lightnovels, anime,etc). The reason for this is that ‘metamorphosis’ the more suitable term translates as ‘hentai’ and If you have any knowledge of anime or japanese you will know that the word ‘hentai’ its meaning and connotations are perverse. Thus it could not well become the go to term for anything intended to be become popular with children.
There you have why we use evolution instead of metamorphosis. Unfortunately, I’m stuck at a quarry. I am not writing in japanese. There’s no need to avoid the word hentai. Should I use the more common ‘evolution’ or the more correct ‘metamorphosis’?