“I’ve been trying to pick fighters.” The Guild Master declared. “They are a bit trickier to catch, but I reckon the more we do, the more aggressive the remaining will be.”
The guild master might be a tad manipulative at times, but when it came to organization, he was a master. He had quickly started putting my plan into effect, capturing one person after another. He went specifically for Adventurers, soldiers, and guards. Once these men woke up again, they would both have the mental fortitude to deal with what happened, but also the knowledge to assist in the future.
No one seemed to recall much more than falling into a dream-like state. Did Elaya use the Siren to obtain her goals? That certainly seemed like a possibility. The Siren could have easily lulled everyone in the city into a deep sleep, allowing Elaya to insert the karmic infections into their souls. Since they didn’t remember anything, I’d be waking the children up last. They’d already have their mothers and fathers around, and thus not experience any trauma whatsoever.
At first, the Guild Master and Ruby went out and brought back a person every ten minutes or so. Meanwhile, Alysia took her human form and helped restrain the townsfolk while I used Mimic to adjust their karmic influence. It was a slow process. It wasn’t just a matter of finding the right people, but also doing it without letting the crowds become alerted. Once they knew we were here, they would attack.
Although the people in the city were being used to produce miasma, they were also being used to protect the city as well. They were the dungeon’s eyes and ears, alerting them to any threat. Eventually, the dungeon would notice something was happening and respond, but I wanted to push that time off as long as possible, so some subterfuge was in order. If they did get alerted, it’d be difficult to cure them, let alone preventing any from getting hurt.
Thankfully, many of the people woke up soon after being cured of their infection. Once they woke up, they volunteered to begin helping. Naturally, the guards weren’t as skilled as the Guild Master, so at first, I waited until there was an adequate group to make a small team. However, as more teams were sent out, more people were brought back more quickly. Some remained behind to restrain the captured while I continued to cure them one at a time.
We started to set up a triage unit, spreading out to the entire Adventuring Guild, which had been expanded and was now a fairly massive building complete with a full bar, rooms, offices, and hospital. I went from infected to infected, restoring their minds one at a time as fast as I could. Even with them getting all the wait period out of the way, I could only move so fast. It took about two minutes per person to heal them. Although my mana regeneration had become impressive, I still found it slowly wearing down from the continuous use. I occasionally drank some of my remaining stores of Waters of Life, but I couldn’t keep going forever.
That said, the Adventuring Guild slowly became crowded as more and more people awakened and became eager to get to work. This was a hardy group of people. Chalm had been destroyed twice now, and they wouldn’t hesitate to build it all back from scratch if they had to. These were my people, and as I saw them busily working, I felt a sense of pride.
“Y-you’re alive.” A girl’s eyes widened as she recovered from her infection.
Not everyone fainted. There were those of a particularly strong spirit that managed to remain awake despite their soul being tinkered with. Also, after innumerable times doing this, my Mimic was leveling up, as was my ability to manipulate karma.
I was sitting on a chair at this point after healing her because after having used mana all day, I was near to the point of collapse.
“Yeah, I’m alive,” I responded.
“You… don’t remember me, do you?” She asked awkwardly.
“The guild receptionist?” I blinked after I squinted for a second.
She nodded, smiling slightly. “I was the secretary working in the Adventurer’s Guild when you first arrived in the new old Chalm.”
I had learned that was what they called Chalm’s crossing. It had been originally called Chalm, and then I reclaimed old Chalm, which became Chalm, and thus the original Chalm became new old Chalm. I had no regrets about renaming it. I had even incorporated the original name in it so that people didn’t get confused.
This kind of redundant naming convention wasn’t even unique to this locale. After all, the country of Aberis was run by the Aberis royal family in the capital city otherwise named Aberis. Also, Aberis was the name of the Demon Lord who had originally been in control of this land back when it was part of Osteria.
Don’t even get me started on the church, which could mean the Church of the Mother, the Church of the Daughter, or the Imperial Cloud Church. Well, at least I had heard the original church up north had never broken apart, so if I understood it correctly, the churches of Aberis and the Ost Republic were just the broken apart church of the offshoot of the Imperial Cloud Church that had once been in Osteria. Then there was Osteria, which was both a country and a type of people.
I was letting my mind wander because I was tired. The secretary girl was looking at me with a slightly guilty and awkward expression on her face. I had almost forgotten this girl, but she was one of the first people I had spoken to when I arrived in this world. I raised an eyebrow, realizing she was waiting on me to say something.
“How have you been?”
Her face grew flushed. “Back then, when you walked in that first time looking to be an Adventurer, I never thought you would come this far.”
I blinked and then smiled. “I never thought I’d be here either. At the time, all I was hoping for was a good meal and a house. Had I known I’d end up being the lord of a small region and have so many people depending on me… well, I don’t think I’d have changed too much.”
“I… I was pretty cold to you back then.” She bit her lip. “I was especially mean to that girl, Miki, the nine-tail fox?”
That was right. As she spoke, I was remembering that she did tend to have an attitude. She was particularly resistant toward Miki once I brought her home, and her rallying up a crowd was one of the reasons I left town. Of course, there was some reasons for that. Her family had died when the ghosts were released from the mansion, and nine-tailed foxes were a taboo existence among the animalkin.
In reality, it was Astria who was directly responsible for her family’s death. She didn’t know that, and Astria and her had never crossed paths. That was probably for the best.
“I remember,” I responded shortly, suddenly feeling awkward myself.
“I just… want to apologize.” She responded. “I’ve begun to realize that you shouldn’t judge people by appearances. First you, and then Miki.”
“R-right… accepted, miss receptionist.”
“Ah… I actually don’t work at the guild anymore. I’ve started to work at the orphanage… If you ever need to find me.”
“Then… if I ever need some children… I mean…”
My face turned red, and so did hers. I had been just giving well-wishes before I realized I was misspeaking. I needed to be more careful propositioning women regarding children! I didn’t even know where half of my baby mommas were.
“Then, please… keep working hard. For the children.” She responded, using the opportunity to bid farewell and leave.
I let out a sigh. “On to the next…”
“Five more minutes.”
“You need to wake up now!”
“Geh!” I felt a boot kick me and I jerked up. “I’m awake! I’m awake!”
I looked up to see Ruby glowering down at me. “You fell asleep last night while still purifying people. I know you said you can’t teach others how to do what you can do, but it really would be much faster.”
I was speaking the truth though. If I could just wave my hand and cause someone else to learn Mimic, I would. Unfortunately, the way I had learned it was by getting a karmic infection and using my high resistance to miasma to overcome its control. The fact that everyone here had become controlled by the dungeon already proved that they didn’t have what it took to learn Mimic. Well, there might be other ways to gain Mimic.
Overall, it’s a job that I’ve never seen anyone else possess, and Aberis was far too unknowledgeable about the job system as a whole. I’d need to go to the Imperial Cloud Meadow if I wanted to learn more about jobs other than my research.
“I got it, I need to work on more people,” I grumbled as I sat up.
Ruby gave an awkward expression. “No… we wanted to give you some more time to sleep. It’s only been a few hours. It’s still not even completely light out. However, someone has emerged from the dungeon, so we thought it was best to get you immediately.
“Someone?” I jerked up. “Elaya?”
“We can’t tell. She’s had a hood up. She demanded that we send our master immediately, and then refused to engage with anyone else. Based on what you said before about the infection, we figured she meant you.”
That would probably mean Dungeon Master. I must have conquered enough of the dungeon that they were starting to notice a rival Dungeon Master down there. I hadn’t issued an official challenge, but I likely had conquered a few percent just by doing what I was doing. I had intended to smoke Elaya out rather than come in there and fetch her, so this suited my purpose just fine.
“We don’t know how long she’ll wait though…” She tried to pressure me to hurry.
“I understand.” I began to get dressed, causing Ruby to spin around. “S-sorry.”
I had grown so used to always having a woman around when I changed clothing and especially when I got up that it hadn’t occurred to me that it was a problem. Even now, Alysia was back in her blessing form on the back of my hand. She saw what I saw, which means that she saw everything. Thankfully, she didn’t talk about it with me. Actually, the next time I had sex, that might be awkward. I coughed and sped up my changing.
“We’ve managed to re-conquer half the city so far. The infected people aren’t too difficult to handle with a full team. After recovering the alchemists and a few mages, we just use spells and potions to knock them out. At the moment, we’re waiting on you. It also seems like we don’t get hungry or thirsty, so we don’t need to worry about all the food that spoiled these last two months.” Alysia spoke with her back to me.
“Makes sense.” I nodded. “The miasma provides you the energy you need. If dungeon creatures needed food, dungeons wouldn’t be able to function.”
“I-I see…” She looked back at me. “Are you ready?”
“Let’s see how she reacts to seeing me.” I agreed.