“Level 27 is another underwater level?” I suggested.
“I’m not so sure, Master.” Miki pointed to the ceiling, which stretched more than ten feet above the waterline. “There appears to be room for a boat. If I guessed, the trip underwater would probably be very perilous, while the boat ride would be much easier.”
“If that is the case, then wouldn’t that make the boat ride the temptation?” I offered, thinking with my brow scrunched up. “And if the boat ride is the temptation, then doing it would assuredly have some kind of setback. Unless, the rewards at the bottom are the temptation, in which case…”
I realized I had landed into a conundrum. The dungeon wasn’t very clear and cut. I couldn’t say whether I should brave the bottom of the sea or skim over the top. Either one could be considered a temptation, and thus could also include a trap. At this point, the dungeon did provide an actual threat to our lives. We had lucked out passing the labyrinth, but we didn’t know how powerful the enemy was now.
In fact, if we avoided the underwater enemies in this level, then it could be that we would be completely blown away by the enemies on the next level. Perhaps that was the trap here. You were lulled into a sense of comfort, spending days wandering and sailing around before finally encountering something dangerous.
“Ah!” I gave a cry, causing the girls to jump. “The more I think about it, the more insidious dungeons can be. There is just no predicting them. You know they’re trying to kill you, but you never know exactly how they’re trying to kill you. It’s maddening!”
“That’s the way of curses, Master…” Lydia hugged me, her soft chest pressing against me and calming me down a bit.
“So, what do we do?” I asked. “Do we go over the water, or into the water?”
Lydia suddenly pulled away and didn’t meet my eyes. “Th-that’s Master’s decision.”
“What? Aren’t we all a party? I really need input here!” I glance at the other girls, who all look away too.
“W-we’re slaves,” Miki coughs. “We will trust Master’s decision, as is proper.”
“Now you’re all being proper! You won’t hesitate to bully me in bed, but when it’s a life or death decision, suddenly you girls are silent?”
“It’s just, Master’s decisions are always just!” Miki argued.
“What about when I say I want some alone time and I don’t want to snuggle in bed with all of you?”
“Well, then Master is making a bad decision, and we must correct him!” she responded smoothly.
As we were arguing, Celeste pulled a fish we had captured, preserved, and stored in one of the storage rings. It was from one of the higher levels but still felt as fresh as if we just caught it. She casually walked to the edge of the water and tossed the fish into the water. Immediately the water exploded with bubbles and hundreds of tiny fish that looked to be more teeth than body attacked it.
The conversation ended as we watched a two-foot-long fish monster be devoured in a few moments, and then tossed out. The bones land a few meters from our feet. Celeste glanced over at us with an innocent smile on her face.
“Master, I think we should use a boat!”
These fish were too plentiful. I realized now that I couldn’t see the fish with Sense Life because the fish were everywhere. Sense Life identifies centralized lifeforce, but these small fish were so plentiful that the entire place was carpeted with a light pink color. I only realized it now that I carefully compared the area on land with the rest of the water.
I opened a portal, and the group left the dungeon to return to Chalm. After Celeste floated through, Shao turned to me.
“I still can’t figure it out.”
“Is Celeste really dumb… or really smart?”
That really was one of life’s mysteries.
“A boat?” The craftsman scratched his head.
I was in Chalm, asking the various craftsmen if anyone could construct us a boat. I really didn’t want to depend on something made for the sea though, because navigating a closed-off dungeon would clearly be a different experience. I couldn’t imagine how the King and his party had managed to pass that level without having an ability like Portal. Did Adventurers just keep a boat in their storage rings just in case? It was no longer a mystery to me why so few made it past the 25th level.
Getting to the 29th level was headache-inducing. It left me appreciating the mana starvation method that had been used on Terra’s Dungeon. I realized now that had I tried to enter her dungeon at its prime, it would have been impossible for my party back then to complete it. Of course, things were a lot different now, so I was eager to make that last push. Once this mission was done, I could truly focus on building the war effort. I’d prefer to reach that point before Lord Reign and the Imperial Cloud Meadow knew that I was preparing for war.
“We need a narrow boat that can make sharp corners. A low sail would be good as well. It needs to fit six.”
He shook his head. “I can’t do boats. You’d need to go to a harbor town for this kind of thing.”
That was the answer I had universally received. If I wanted a boat, I needed a craftsman from the sea. We were landlocked and as far in Aberis from the sea as we could be. It was nearly a six-month journey to reach the other side of Aberis. I didn’t have that kind of time.
“Without a competent shipwright, we’d be at risk any way it is.” I sighed.
Shipwright was the name of the craftsmen who could create and design boats. I could just have them construct something using my memories and ingenuity, but we were talking about testing it against a dungeon. A single mistake could end up meaning death. If any of my girls fell into the water, those creatures could filet them in under a minute.
“What are we going to do, Master?” Lydia asked, the girls all watching me with just a hint of anxiousness.
I shook my head slightly and sighed. This King was certainly a difficult guy to find. When we finally got to the bottom of this dungeon, what we discovered better be worth all of this. I was starting to feel like I was really in a game. One quest led to a side quest which led to a fetch quest. I finally made my decision and stood up.
“Pack up, girls. We’re heading back to the Capital.”
“We’re going to look for a Shipwright slave?”
“That’s an option, I admitted, but I’m thinking it’d be better to take the Traveling Guild’s portals straight to the sea so we can buy something that already exists. Perhaps the Shipwrights will be able to modify it for us. Perhaps, we can also look into establishing some more trade. In that case, she would be useful.” I ended up mumbling that last part to myself.
“You can also have fun with your big-breasted elf maid!” Lydia spoke up a little too excitedly, causing some of the craftsmen to shoot us looks.
Blushing, I turned my head angrily, “Her name is Faeyna! And no, I wasn’t thinking about her ample breasts! You know, I don’t make every decision with my penis, right?”
Why were all the girls looking at me doubtfully? That hurt a little.
It was still morning, and we had gone to the dungeon, found it impassable, traveled back to Chalm, decided we needed a boat, and then traveled to the Capital. Having already used Portal three times, I had one more Portal I could use thanks to the trick I had learned using True Hero’s Second Job skill. Usually, I treated the Portals like currency. That is to say that I left my 4 free points free, and only when I decided I needed to create a portal would I drop a point to use the once-a-day spell. Each additional use cost another point.
Portals already took a bit to cast, so I might as well take a bit longer by accessing and fiddling with the dungeon point store. Before I stepped through, I checked my breath and my hair. It had nothing to do with Faeyna! I wasn’t excited to see her again! It had been a couple of weeks since I had last met her. She was just a really dependable woman. She was very regal, and her personality was sweet, yet commanding. Not like that phony princess in the castle, although I’m sure Eliana would have been crying if she heard that opinion about her. The elf maid just held a dignity the other woman couldn’t compare with. Faeyna was diligent. That was the word.
It had nothing to do with two large things that happened to be on her chest and her status as a mythical fantasy creature that was even rare by this world’s standard. It was her personality that I enjoyed. If the five slave girls who made up my party were like the fun, hot girl who was your friend, always made you laugh, and was someone you could go out and have a great time with, then Faeyna was more the stoic woman at home, who would take care of you and pamper you. She was a dutiful wife.
Not that I was saying she was my wife! There was really no reason to get worked up over her anyway. It’s not like we could have sex. Elves in this world imprinted on the first person they exchanged bodily fluids with. That meant sex. I mean, we kissed once, but that’s probably not enough. If it was, that would be truly pitiful. She never mentioned anything like that, so it was fine. However, if I had sex with her, then she’d definitely become all but sterile. I’d have to father all of her children. I didn’t know if they would be elves or half-elves, but surely it would doom her race.
It was much better if she got with someone who would live as long as she did. As for me, I had women in my life, so there was no need to be selfish. Besides, who knew how fertile I even was. I quickly decided to ignore Raissa as an outlier. I hadn’t gotten any of the other girls pregnant!
I stepped through the portal, and she was right in front of me. While I was fretting with the portal open, it turned out that Faeyna had been alerted to my presence and appeared in front of me. She bowed low, and her chest hung like two ripe watermelons.
“I’m back!” I said, putting my backpack in front of my pants.
“Master, welcome home.” She smiled.