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Chapter 172

“W-wait, what’s going on?” Celeste asked as Karr walked away and stood next to Astria. “Where are you going?”

 “We’re leaving.” Karr smiled. “We’ve reached the end.”

“N-no! Please… don’t leave me!” Celeste suddenly reached out. “Please don’t go!”

“It’s time we move on. Our souls are bound to this lore, however, we have found a satisfactory ending.” Karr explained.

“What ending?” Celeste demanded, tears running down her cheeks.

Astria reached out, her glowing had to cause a wave of light to spread out and touch Celeste. “You. My child.”

“M-mother…”

“I resented you because you reminded me of Karr… but in the end, what I really resented was that you reminded me of myself. I’m so sorry, my child. I’m sorry you had to live such a cursed life. I wanted to keep you from making my mistakes, but now that I know the truth, I can see that you and this hero follow a different path. It is time for me and Karr to step aside, to allow the younger generation to make their own mistakes.”

“It’s time we go!” Karr nodded. “But we won’t forget about you. Be a good girl. Put your faith in each other.”

“Mother… father…” Celeste reached out, but couldn’t get any closer thanks to the resonating light.  

“W-wait…” I held up my hand. “I don’t have all the answers yet. Who killed you?”

The light started to shine around Lord Karr and Astria. Astria’s bat wings had returned to looking like fairy wings, and while there was a dark aura around her, it was considerably lighter than before. Her beauty was starting to shine through, like a mature version of the still young Celeste.

“I don’t know?” Karr shrugged. “Perhaps, you will find that answer, along with my daughter.”

“When I found him poisoned, I read his journal, that was when I learned about what happened to my fairies.” Astria sighed regretfully.

I frowned, considering their words. He was poisoned and she happened to find him with his journal out to incriminate him?  On that note, what happened to his animalgirl slave harem? They weren’t trapped should being punished by this dungeon like Karr. In fact, they were mysteriously missing. I wanted to say something, but the glow was growing brighter. It was growing harder to see. Not to mention the mood was completely off with Celeste bawling and wishing her parents a farewell.

“Hero…” Karr’s voice suddenly exploded in my head, not being spoken, but somehow being magically sent. “I have some awareness of the world outside. I know that I am not only passing my daughter on to you but Chalm as well. Twenty years ago, I was poisoned. I had second thoughts about the fairies. I had planned to buy them back, one at a time, and the person I trusted to do this was the Harem Hero Artemis!”

“Y-you think he betrayed you?” I asked back.

“I do not know. Although you have granted me this new body, I’m afraid the only way to break the curse on this dungeon is my death. However, I didn’t adventure alongside a hero for many years without picking up a trick or two.  I don’t wish to leave Celeste or you with nothing… so, I’ve prepared a surprise. It’s a skill I learned thanks to Astria’s fairy dust. Please accept it. Take care of her as well, won’t you?”

“Ah… okay.” I wasn’t completely sure what he was talking about, but the least I could do was watch after Celeste and investigate into his death.

I was taking his mansion, after all! The light finally snuffed out, and Astria and Karr were nowhere to be seen. In the sudden silence after everything that had happened was almost off-putting.

“Is it over?” Lydia asked in the silence.

A pulsating light floated overhead. The four of us looked up at it. That was the dungeon lore. It kept moving until it stopped right over my head.

“Oh… crap!” I cursed, turning to leap away.

The lore was faster, and it came plunging down. I let out a cry as a burning sensation exploded across my shoulder. Karr’s lore was now becoming a part of me!

Chapter 173

The completion of a lore, the ending of a story, people often think that this means that everyone lives happily ever after. They want all of the holes to be filled, all of the plots to be explained, and for everything to wrap up in a tight little bow. Life is rarely so one-dimensional.

Take Karr, a young boy from a rich family who just wanted to do good. After witnessing a slavegirl being abused, he vowed to be a hero who fought for justice. He spent many years adventuring in his youth, seeking to be a hero like many young nobles fancied.

One day while pursuing a quest for the Water of Life, Karr nearly died only to be rescued by the fairies of a fairy spring deep in the forest. You see, the Fairy Queen had seen him battling, and had instantly fallen for him. She nursed him back to health and then began to lavish him with gifts. However, Karr couldn’t stay, and even though he knew the Queen had fallen for him, he was convinced her love would dwindle with time and separation.

Karr returned to his home with a large barrel of water of life, a product of the fairy spring. Selling it, he was able to help many adventurers and also accumulated great wealth. Pressured by those in need to collect more water, and also tempted a bit by his own greed, he made many trips to the fairy spring. Each time, she would lavish him with whatever he asked for, and the light and purity of her spring began to diminish. Karr decreased his visits hoping to create some space between himself and the Queen, so that she could finally move on and rejuvenate her spring.

After that, Karr used his gathered resources to build the free city of Chalm. He dreamed of a self-governed city where humans could live alongside all other demi-humans without any slavery. He built this city in a location not too far away from the fairy spring, deep in the wilderness and a distance from the countries who tried to subjugate his people.

As time passed by, other women began to throw themselves at Karr. He looked toward his friend Artemis, who often spoke of wanting a harem to the point that he eventually adopted the name, Harem Hero. Karr saw the misery caused when he rejected the slave women who fell for him and started to think that perhaps Artemis was on to something. Not every girl would be happy moving on and not every slave wanted to be free.

Years passed, and he returned to the Fairy Queen, wondering what had happened to the woman who had made everything he built possible. Although it had been nearly a decade since the last time he was there, the Fairy Queen’s colony which once included hundreds was now down to fifty, and the fairy spring that was supposed to have rejuvenated failed to thrive. It was because the queen had grown depressed in his absence and had mishandled her fairy colony until she and it might have died out after a few more decades along its current course.

Yet, when he pleaded with her to return to the mansion with him, she wouldn’t. She was bound to her spring, just as he was bound to Chalm. Around the same time, Karr was being pressured by the slavers for his slavery emancipation projects, and it was getting close to a war. Karr decided there was only one choice. He’d allow the slavers to take the fairies, and with her Colony destroyed, only then would the Fairy Queen finally abandon her dying land.

Returning to the mansion with the fairy queen by his side, Karr began to finally start accepting the love of the women in his life. At first, Astria was simply happy to be by Karr, but as she saw him canoodling with other women, she grew jealous. Worse, she was pregnant, and thus frightened, as she had never had a child before. Normal fairies, it seemed, were not born of a Fairy Queen. Rather, they were spontaneously created from an accumulation of fairy dust.

Then, one day, she decided to go to Karr and finally confess her insecurities, only to find him dead. He had been poisoned, and sitting on his bedstand, open to a certain page, was his journal with all of his deepest darkest secrets. She read his journal and learned about what he did to her colony. Growing filled with rage, she put collars on all of his servants, enslaving the entire mansion and closing the doors to the city of Chalm.

At this point, Karr’s death was already primed to form a dungeon curse, but Astria didn’t allow it to drift away. Instead, she bound Karr’s soul to the mansion. Even though she couldn’t get her answers, she wallowed in self-pity until the day she had Celeste. After birthing Celeste, the half-human/ half-fairy reminded her of everything that had happened. She threw a collar on Celeste too. However, a few weeks after she was born, a group of the enslaved staff tried to smuggle Karr’s child out of the mansion to freedom and failed.

At that point, Astria tied herself to Karr’s curse and used the energy to wipe out all of the humans and release the ghosts onto the city. After lashing out at everyone, she went into a deep slumber and allowed the curse to run its course, infecting even herself in the end. Her daughter whom she assumed died in the spell, survived as well. Her spiritual body combined with her fairy body, and she roamed the halls, lost and confused, having the broken thoughts of her mother channeled through their bond as Fairy Queen and fairy.

Twenty years passed, and then we came. When I told Celeste to be herself, she combined her ghostly form with a fairy form permanently, becoming one with her fairy self, which fell under her mother’s control. In her defiance of the current leading fairy queen, and perhaps with leveling help, she was able to evolve into a fairy queen herself and shed off her mother’s influence.

Then, I summoned Karr. Karr gave Astria the closure she needed, and Astria gave Karr the peace he needed. Was either of them good or bad? It wasn’t really my place to say. They both did bad things, and they both tried to do good. In the end, it was Celeste, their daughter, who had been hurt the most. What they felt about each other in the end, no one but they knew. One thing was certain, they both could agree to step aside and make way for their daughter Celeste. It was her future now, as a new Fairy Queen and slave to the next hero of Chalm. That was how their lore ended.

I finally stopped screaming as a shining tattoo formed on my shoulder. Like the previous one, it wrapped around from back to front like a serpent, containing text in an unreadable language.

{Congratulations, you have completed Karr’s Dungeon.}

{True Dungeon Diver has increased by ten levels.}

{For completing the lore, you have gained 10 dungeon points.}

{Karr’s lore is now a part of you. You have gained Karr’s Blessing.}

{You have increased affinity with nature. Animals and natural creatures will like you more.}

{Slave Bonds are now permanent. You cannot remove or swap a slave bond.}

“Wait… what was that last thing? Oh… you bastard!”

Chapter 174

The orb had shattered, and a new tattoo had embedded itself on my shoulder. Now I had one on my left leg, and one on my shoulder. I was a guy who never took to tattoos in the first place, so this didn’t really make me all that happy.

A door in the back of the boss room opened up, and I entered a bedroom, not unlike the one in Mina’s dungeon. Except, this time, three girls entered the room behind me. They were all looking around curiously at the world around them. Celeste was now a regular size, with long translucent wings which caused her to take up a lot of space. She seemed to do something and they disappeared for a bit, allowing her to go through the doorway.

As I glanced around, I found various coins, trinkets, and items. The dungeon was a lot more profitable than the young Mina’s dungeon. I found a treasure chest full of coins. I couldn’t even count how many were in there at the moment. There was a complete set of armor which looked extremely formal and refined, which must have been Lord Karr’s armor. I also found a few blades that looked pretty expensive. I found a blade I liked that seemed to be imbued with ice magic.

I made the girls each pick out a magic knife and Lydia got a new magic sword. Whether it was better than the sword she currently had was hard to tell. This wasn’t a video game where loot got a higher level as people grew a high level. Plus, other than magical attributes and maybe subtle things like balance and sharpness, one sword wouldn’t cut or do more damage than another. As for magician stuff, Karr seemed to be lacking in those kinds of items.

When I finally finished grabbing everything we could carry, my storage ring and backpack were full and we needed to carry the treasure chest directly. It was time to leave. I wanted to go back to the top floors and clear out those treasures, but the kiosk was inactive now and the door wouldn’t open. The remainder of the dungeon appeared to be collapsing or at least no longer accessible. It was possible all the remaining treasure in the dungeon was sent to the treasury when I finished the lore. That’d be kind of nice.

With one last look around the room, I put magic into the spell, and we left the dungeon we had been trapped inside for around a month. When the light faded, I realized we were standing at the front gate of the mansion, just outside the fenced-off yard. Shortly after we appeared, I heard a shout. There was a sparse population of people, but as they made noises, more and more people appeared. Soon dozens of people came running out to greet us.

“Deek!”

“Hero! You made it!”

“Lord, you’re alive and well! Good, Good!”

The girls all smiled and waved excitedly. Even though I hadn’t spent a lot of time with the Chalm citizens since we reconciled, even I felt a bit happy to see people welcoming me home.

“Ah… Mayor! Guild Master!” Two familiar faces showed themselves through the crowd.

“I felt a mana disturbance coming from the mansion recently. I was fearing more ghosts might flood out. Damn, I’m glad to see you, boy!” The Guild Master laughed and slapped me on the back.

“Ah… thanks. That was the dungeon being defeated. Actually.” I explained.

“You really did it?” The Mayor’s eyes lit up. “You’ve broken the curse? Since you went in, the ghosts out here have gone quiet. We’ve managed to reclaim all but the mansion, using the alchemy tricks you taught us. However, for you to reclaim the mansion. It truly is a miracle. You really are a hero!”

Just as he said that there was a loud creaking noise that filled the air, followed by a massive crash. The exploding sound was enough to silence the whole crowd. By the time I turned around, a wave of dust washed over everyone outside. There was some coughing, confusion, and a few shouts of worry.

“Wind!” I cast wind magic and blew the dust away.

When Celeste saw what I was doing, she copied me and did a better job. When the smoke cleared, I finally could see what happened. My pupils contracted to pinpoints and my mouth fell open.

“Oh dear…” The mayor said, “That is unfortunate…”

The mansion had completely collapsed. All that was there was a pile of rubble.

“I’ve never seen a mansion turned into a dungeon before, let alone seen one defeated.” The Guild Master spoke cautiously. “It appears that when the dungeon is destroyed, the building collapses.”

My mansion… the home I had fought tooth and nail for the last month to conquer, was now an empty pile of ruins.

“Ah! Master is crying again!”

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