Chapter Four: A Dungeon’s Joy
Brandr watched as another party of adventurers left after reaching the second floor.
He grinned. ‘They are learning.’
This particular group of adventurers made it past his gu wasps without losing a single man. It was not because they were more powerful or skilled than the ones who came before them. They were simply better prepared. They huddled together in a strong defensive position, employed targetted if excessive use of fire attacks and carried vials of the curse cures he had made standard in the wasp loot.
It was a tried and true strategy for beating his first floor and one, Brandr suspected, that would be the first of many. Each new batch of adventurers came better prepared to deal with the challenges his dungeon posed. None more so than the party that had just left. It was their second time employing their technique, and it was already more refined than the first. If the trend continued, the first floor would very quickly cease to be a threat to those at rank three or higher and maybe even the better rank twos.
However, Brandr was not worried. He had received a lot of constant traffic over the last few days. This he attributed to the steadily growing numbers of adventurers on his doorstep. Already he received more essence via passive absorption than he did from the deaths among those two very first adventuring parties so long ago. Each day saw thirty to fifty adventurers traipse through his caverns. Thus far, none had reached the third floor. All who made the mistake of challenging Magni were slaughtered. Well, nearly all. The bear king made sure to let a few slip away so the next batch would fare better. It was only a matter of time before they developed strategies and weapons to beat him as well.
He looked forward to it. The first four floors were created as trials. They served to weed out the weak as well as give the victors a taste of what he had in store. Starting with the fifth floor, things would get a lot more challenging and rewarding. Simple, static strategies were useless against his asuras. Only true skill and power would see you through.
Brandr was a dungeon, a creature that fed on the essence and souls of the creatures it lured into its depths. He planned to dine on the best and use their powers to fuel his cultivation. Nothing less would suffice. He had already established his chaosworld. All he needed to do now was grow.
The thing he was most concerned with right now was getting eyes into the adventurers camp. Information is the weapon of Generals. Understanding what the adventurers were up to would ensure that he always remained five steps ahead. To this end, he began designing a new gu. This needed to be much less noticeable, secretive even so he could not give it a lot of power. It needed to be able to gather intel, so it required superior senses. It also required to cover a lot of ground, so it needed either hypermobility or numbers. Slowly, a Brandr came up with his new gu.
|Name: Ten Point Ant||Rank: One|
|Gender: Female||Affinities: Fae|
|Description: Ever hungry. Ever curious. Ever industrious. Ten Point Ants spend half their time exploring the area around their nests going further and further away from home with each outing as they search for food and curios to carry to their queen. These industrious creatures are never lost and can sense food from distances up to twenty metres away.|
Brandr looked up from his work, satisfied with his results. His new creation was relatively inconspicuous. Ants were everywhere, and you could never truly be rid of them. These ants were normal ants with their senses and geolocation skill multiplied a hundredfold. He was careful not leave any traces of influence that could be traced back to him. They needed to look like creatures from the forest and nit his dungeon. he would not even control them, just direct the first few sets to make nests around the dungeon. They would carry on from there.
The ability to gaze out of the eyes of his monsters never looked more useful than it did now. Wherever there were people, there was waste and food. With the last came insects. The ants would simply go about their business and he would reap the rewards. The adventurers would never know. Initially, he worried about losing control over them once they were out of his hands. The queen was his and so were the first litter but what about successive generations born outside the dungeon. Would they still have the link that bound all dungeon creatures to the core?
He need not have bothered. A quick check revealed that though that might be the case for ordinary dungeon creatures, gu were different. They carried his spiritual imprint. Despite being living creatures, they were also a spell. If the spell was ever broken, they would all die, but so long as both him and the gu lived no matter if it was one or a million generations, his spiritual imprint would never fade. That was how the immortal gu cultivators back in his homeland had succeeded in refining enough gu to blot out the sky over entire countries. In time, one hive became two. Two became three and so on until infinity. The only real limits were the resources and time required to create the gu as well as the available Soulforce the gu master had to bind the gu.
A mental itch caused by a change somewhere in the dungeon pulled him from his musings. Magni had fallen! Sighing, Brandr put his new project away and went to comfort the spirit of his second-floor guardian. It seemed the poor bear was finding it difficult to come to grips with his defeat.