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TDL BK I, CH 23: Ancient Artefacts?

Chapter Twenty-three: Ancient Artefacts?

Dunstan made sure to purchase the tokens in small batches to help keep up his cover. Elder Dorn and Elder Howatt stood next to him, staring in awe as a 30-piece bundle of the slate-shaped tokens hovered in the air above his hand, deposited there by a small portal. He handed it over to Elder Dorn, who immediately put it in his ring along with the others. Dunstan waited a few seconds before buying another set.

“So these are like barrier-breaking talismans?” Elder Howatt asked as he examined the small item. 

Each dungeon escape token looked like a small slate of white marble. Eight centimetres long, four centimetres wide and two centimetres thick, they fit snuggly in the hand. There were three main symbols featured on it; the ancient sigil the Sixth Preceptor had found for him to use on the dungeon artefacts, a swirling portal and a stick figure in a running posture. Each symbol had a soft golden glow and tactile feel that made them easily discernable.

“Sort of”, Dunstan said, answering the Great Elder’s question. 

“These do not actually break the portal space”, he explained for the second time since he wasn’t around the first time around. “Once activated, these tokens cover the user in a small barrier and pull them directly from the mystic realm before leaving them right outside the portal. They’re escape tokens, intended for people who find themselves lost, overwhelmed or outmatched when exploring the mystic realm.”

The man nodded to himself, the token disappearing from his hand, probably into his own spatial ring. “And we can make as of them as we want?”

“Technically, yes!” Dunstan admitted. “We just need to fuel their creation. The artefact will do the heavy lifting. We can make as many as we have mana stones to spare. However, I’ll advise against that. The primary draw of these things is that they are going to be necessary and in great demand. We’re going to want to keep our stocks low and then slowly increase them over time if we want to make the most out of them.”

The old man gave Dunstan a quizzical look at his words as if seeing him in a new light. “With these, our disciples can finally make use of our mystic realm.”

The young sect master glanced his way before turning his attention back to the task he was meant to be doing. “Our own internal supply and use will, of course, receive top priority. As for the mystic realm, I say we wait until we know more about the dangers involved.”

The man scoffed and said nothing. Elder Dorn, however, shot him a look of approval. 

“More money is always good, but I think we should set a hard cap on how high the price goes so as to not incur enmity. The only groups with the capital and reasons to purchase them frequently will be sects. This is a lifesaving item. If we price it too high, it will start to look like we’re ransoming the lives of their disciples”, the portly man reasoned. 

Elder Howatt scowled. “Enmity? Who cares about their enmity?” he growled. “Most of those bastards are already our enemies!” 

Elder Dorn frowned, conceding the point. “Fair enough. We should still set a hard cap on our prices, though a higher turnover might be better than a higher list price. Besides, a little goodwill would go a long way.”

“They are lucky enough they’re getting access to our mystic realm. They should be grateful”, Elder Howatt argued.

Dunstan turned the two old codgers out, his eyes trailing up to the flashing notifications icon on his interface. The number there worried him. He had it locked the function when it kept sending him junk notices back when he had yet to finalise his dungeon and hadn’t paid attention to it since. Now, he had accumulated thousands of unread notifications. Well, the dungeon was finished now. He had no more excuses. 

Most of the thousands of notifications he had concerned his dungeon’s fame and the corresponding AP rewards; however, there were a few that stood out.

[You have completed your dungeon! +1000 AP]

[New achievement unlocked: My Very First Dungeon! | Reward: One golden chest]

[New achievement unlocked: First Explorer! | Reward: One bronze chest]

[New achievement unlocked: First Kill! | Reward: One bronze chest] 

[You have defeated a party of adventurers! +10 AP]

[New Achievement unlocked: First Victory! | Reward: One bronze chest]

“Excuse me!” he said, interrupting the building argument. “I think we are needed outside. Someone has perished in the mystic realm.”


Elder Amarzele Westfall, also known as Westfall the younger on account of his great-grandfather on the Elder Council, stared down the mercenaries gathered in front of him. All twenty-three of the ruffians were instantly quelled when they saw an exultant step up to them.

“Please step aside!” he said to them. “Any further disruption of the proceeding will have you thrown out!”

The idiot, ‘Nick Adil,’ his mind supplied, fumed, but Westfall ignored him and gestured for them to leave the arena’s stage.

“At least let us retrieve our men!” His pinch-faced deputy pleaded.

“There’s no one to retrieve”, Westfall reminded him. 

The display that showcased the events on-going in the mystic realm had been centred on Adil, following his movements. When he fled, it defaulted to the last person remaining, the one they called Connell. The poor bastard did not last long. Everyone had watched with some horror as the crawling man pleaded for his life after being abandoned by his captain. The monsters, of course, hadn’t cared to listen and killed him anyway, putting an end to the transmission.  

“Their bodies!” the other man argued. “Let’s us retrieve their bodies so we can put them to rest!”

Really? That was their excuse? Westfall looked them over again; few if any, showed any grief at their loss, least of all their captain. The man, slightly injured by a black bolt to the back of his breastplate as he fled the dungeon, did not seem concerned about his dead comrades. His priorities were clearly evident from how quickly he had seized all the spoils from the other survivors. 

“There are no bodies to retrieve”, Westfall informed the mercenaries. “The mystic realm resets itself when you leave. All the monsters are revived, all items restored, and every trace of foreign matter is destroyed. If you were to go in now, it would be as if you were entering afresh.”

“It can do that?” asked the man in disbelief.  

Westfall nearly shrugged. He was just repeating what he had been told. It did seem a little far-fetched, and a week and a half ago, he wouldn’t have believed such a thing either. That spoke a lot to the things he had seen since then and how much the Vast Heaven Palace had changed.

“Before you return to your seats, would you like us to appraise your loot for you?” he asked, remembering the script he had been given.

Proving himself to be the brains of the outfit, Adil’s second in command stepped forward, saying, “Thank you, but we don’t need our stuff appraised as we do not have any plans of selling them yet.”

“Are you sure?” he questioned. “Those items were intended as rewards for the disciples of an ancient sect. They are, to put it simply, locked. Our sect has the means to awaken them, even identify them, so you know what you’ve got. You may go but understand that without being treated by the right techniques, they will never work as they should.”

“Really?” Adil asked incredulously.

“Of course!” Westfall. “We will, however, charge a small fee for the service.

The man had a look on his face that, if translated, would read, “I knew it!”

Westfall looked at him with disdain. “It’s an ancient artefact. Do you think doing this will come easy?”

The man thought about it for a moment before nodding. “How much?”  

“A single essence stone if you have it, fifteen gold coins if you don’t”, Westfall said with a pleased smile.

He took the sword with his right and, pulling out a small token from his robes with his other hand, he channelled some mana through it and directed it at the artefact. Both glowed before a series of words began to form in the air in front of Westfall, their font intentionally large enough for the curious eavesdroppers to read. 

Item: Fierce Longsword of Magical Potence | Type: Weapon 

Tier: One | Grade: Rare |  Durability: 100% | 

Description: To the bony gnarled hands that once held this sword, this weapon was its greatest treasure. Too bad he never got to use it in life. Once interred in the Mirthtree Mausoleum before being stolen by an errant adventurer, it passes now to you. With luck, it would serve you better.

Requirements: Lvl 1   

Effects: 

  • +26% Attack
  • +19% Effectiveness

Westfall looked at the sword, still shining with a corona of blue light. His mind was focused on the effects it held, assessing them using the guide he had been given. “This… this is a good weapon”, he admitted before reluctantly handing it back.

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