With so many interruptions, I had to keep reminding myself of what I already knew about this dungeon. It was a dungeon connected to temptation, known as the Widow’s Dungeon. The level 10 boss was a siren, while the level 20 boss was some kind of shapeshifter that took on your preferred form. You could call that temptation and deceit.
Meanwhile, we had a maid who coveted her master, a master who cheated with his maid, and the mistress who cheated on the master, and ultimately a murder most foul. The next image showed a common woman arm-in-arm with a noblewoman. It was very clear in the mural that one of them was dressed beautifully, while the other was dressed quite plainly. Basically, the pair of them were close, although it didn’t mention how this relationship came into being.
Then, the pair of them ended up in peril. They were assaulted by a monster and in a great deal of danger. A hero swooped in and saved them. In a surprising twist, the hero ended up falling in love with the common woman. Meanwhile, the noblewoman looked on in jealousy.
If the noblewoman was the mistress, it was likely that she was engaged to be married. This was just conjecture, but I felt I was getting good at guessing at these kinds of things. So, the mistress ended up marrying a man she didn’t love. However, I didn’t know how the hero or the commoner fit into it. Perhaps, the commoner was the maid. In that case, why did she go after her friend’s man?
There was only one more mural to go, and I wasn’t sure I’d understand the whole story even then. If you thought about it, a newborn dungeon grew to 10 levels right away. There were three murals to tell the story. However, as they grew, more murals became available. I suppose one could call this a two-edged blade. While yes, with each additional mural, the dungeon became easier to solve, it was also five levels deeper.
At the point where you reach a great dungeon, it would be near impossible to be it by battle. So, the twenty or thirty murals should make it perfectly clear how to fix the dungeon. If someone made it to the bottom, as long as they play their cards right, they resolve the lore without ever needing to engage in battle. While the curses could be forcefully expelled, the dungeon lore had an intrinsic need to want to finish itself, so in a way, the easiest path is the one no one takes.
I had a feeling that my understand of dungeons was radically different than most of the worlds. Then again, I was a True Dungeon Diver. It wasn’t known how many others had accomplished this feat, but compared to how many dungeons there are, the number is pitifully few.
I explained what I could glean from the murals to the girls. They made a face, not quite happy with the answer. This might end up being lore that I couldn’t complete. Yet, the biggest question of all was one that had nothing to do with the mural. That question was, where was the King, and what had left him trapped down here for the last two months!
We left the level 25 save room and began to make our way to the stairway. On the way, I had seen the orichalcum golem, but the girls prevented me from chasing after it. No, it was best this way. We couldn’t afford to spend all day looking for orichalcum. We needed to progress on to the 26th floor. Since we had a good deal of the 25th floor mapped out from chasing the boss all day, it was pretty easy to get to the exit and leave.
I frowned as we ended up on the 26th floor. This was because I didn’t see any bad guys. At my current level, sense life could go quite a distance, and I could usually always see a few red blips on my map at any given time. However, since reaching level 26th, I hadn’t seen a thing. Sense life even worked on hidden creatures that couldn’t be seen by a normal eye, so this wasn’t simply the case of a monster hiding.
“I don’t see anyone on this level?” I murmured. “Is there any information on the 26th level?”
The girls all shook their heads and Lydia spoke up. “Raissa said that anyone who made it this far refused to give out any information.”
Although this seemed selfish on the surface, and perhaps for some Dungeon Divers, it was, the vast majority withheld information after a certain point to dissuade people from risking their lives by going into a truly dangerous place.
“There are also no traps. A fair amount of treasure though.”
At first, my assumption was that this was some kind of mimic level, but after looting some treasure chests and not encountering a single hidden mob, a frown began to grow on my face. As we moved deeper into this level of the dungeon, that frown only deepened. There were many twists and turns. It was almost too easy to become lost.
“This must be one of those labyrinth levels,” Miki spoke up.
“The deeper you go…” Miki explained. “The more themed levels become. In the great dungeons, they say that some levels are actually entire ecosystems, complete worlds, and biomes onto themselves. They are completely different than with small dungeons. However, in Aberis, few have ever made it deep enough to encounter one.”
“What do you mean by a complete world?”
“I mean cities, indigenous people, even kingdoms,” Miki explained excitedly and then blushed. “I mean, that’s just a rumor I was told. Some say that each level connects to another world, and through dungeons, you can actually go to another world.”
“Really?” My eyes brightened.
Was that where the king was? Was he trapped in a dungeon level that equates an entire world? It would certainly make more sense. Wait… was there a dungeon that connected with my own world?
Miki noticed my eyes and immediately shook her head. “Master, this kind of dungeon level wouldn’t appear until likely after 50. No one in Aberis has seen one, although maybe the Imperial Cloud Meadow and Shie Gescar. However, before you see those, you do see increasingly more complex levels, like this one, a labyrinth.”
“So, this level is… a giant maze?”
“The goal is for you to get lost and not keep track. They use the treasure to distract you, but the goal isn’t for you to be killed by a mob. It’s simple to become lost and never find your way out.” Miki explained.
I’ve said it before, but dungeons can be very dangerous.
In the end, the maze was vast, but my mapping skill was top notch. There was no way I could become lost in this thing. My True Dungeon Diver had unlocked a skill at level 28 called Pathfinder. It couldn’t lead me to where I wanted to go, but it could lead me to where I had been. Thus, no matter how complicated the map got, I could have led us back to the entrance with ease.
Of course, with my portal ability, it wasn’t too big of a deal since I could just portal to the entrance if I needed to. The most advantageous way that I used it was to find treasure. As soon as I detected it with detect treasure, all I had to do was select it with pathfinder and I would instantly have a path leading straight to the treasure, even if it was outside the area I had seen on my map. Long gone were the days when I tracked an item all the way, only to find that it was actually on the opposite side of the wall down another corridor. I hated that in video games, and it was ten times worse in real life!
After a solid day of searching, I went home with the girls. After labyrinth work, we all ate dinner I prepared, and then the girls went to work on their duties. Lydia and Shao would train soldiers. Terra would work on the wall. Then, we’d all meet up late at night and go to bed in my large manor bed. I was a little worried about how long it would take to finish this level. To date, it was the first one I couldn’t finish in a single day.
My worries were unfounded though, because the very next day, around noon, we finally found the exit leading down to the next floor. I cleared up the rest of the treasure within view, but I kept finding more treasure that only popped up upon getting the next treasure.
It was clearly a temptation to slowly lead you away and help get you lost. This wasn’t a problem for me though, because my map and the pathfinder made both finding the treasures and returning easily. We ended up spending the rest of the day hunting down treasure before the girls finally convinced me to leave. I had netted nearly 300 gold coins on this level alone, not to mention a scattering of scrolls, alchemy products, weapons, and armor. Nothing was better than what we already had, but it all contributed to the black hole that was the Chalm rejuvenation fund.
As the day set, I realized we were taking far too much time playing around. I had barely covered 1/4th of the labyrinth, which meant there was much more treasure to be had, but we were on a deadline. We went home to Chalm again, and only at the beginning of the third day did I finally look back in regret before heading down to the next level. We had spent too much time on this level though, two full days.
Mind you, if any other Dungeon Diver heard that we had managed to conquer a labyrinth level in two days, they would likely shed tears in frustration.