I felt extreme anger and frustration. I could feel a distant Carmine, but it was at a distance where I couldn’t tell how she was doing other than she was alive. He had seemingly teleported a long-distance across the dungeon, and it was clear it would be many days of travel to reach them. That didn’t matter for me though. She was my slave, and that meant she was marked by me. I could see her on my Map, and I could open up a Portal directly to her.
The problem was that opening up a Portal took time, and I was being swamped with demons as they poured in. On top of that, I wasn’t thinking too clearly. The second he put his hands on her, I grew filled with righteous fury. I tried to cast Portal immediately, only to be interrupted seconds later when demons attacked me. Fortunately, I still had the Star sword out, so I started to use it, slashing and hacking at the enemies.
I took several hits, but I casually switched to White Mage and continued to battle. I felt numb, going for the kill with each swipe, and depending on White Mage spells to regenerate me. Although I cut down five or six, there were now nearly a dozen around me. Still, retreating didn’t even occur to me. I was lost in the anger and the pain and the frustration, too stubborn to quit and turn back.
Someone managed to catch the back of my leg, and I looked on in shock as my body flew down to the ground. Demons surrounded me, looking down with malevolent grins. All I could hear was the blood pumping in my ears. I had died before, and before it happened, there was always a feeling that shot through my body. It was a calming feeling of acceptance like I had come to the end and now there was nothing left to do but die.
In this dungeon, there would be no resurrection. My soul would be consumed, and I would become part of the lore. Maybe, I would end up combining with the Karma of the commander, and from then on be Commander Deekson, the undead. I’d like to think if I died and was taken by a dungeon, I could at least make a pretty decent boss.
Those seemingly useless thoughts were buzzing through my mind as all of the demons raised their weapons as one. I held my breath, but the incoming blow never happened. There was a sudden shockwave, and I felt my own body lift off the ground and get thrown several feet. For the standing demons, it was far worse, and a large group of them were suddenly flung against the wall.
“Commander! Are you okay?” I squinted up into the light, and the face of a beautiful woman appeared. “No… you’re not Commander Stone. You… feel like him. His karma?”
“I know you…” I said, my voice croaking slightly.
The woman suddenly spun, a large staff in her hand whipping around and knocking out six demons with a single sweep before she turned back to me.
“Who doesn’t know me? I am Xin, the Princess Hero! Now, who are you?”
“I thought Elaya was the hero?” I responded blankly.
My mind started to work again, even though I had taken lots of blows. With a few white spells still taking effect, even as we spoke, I was patching myself up again.
“You know Elaya?” She turned away and knocked down another wave of demons, knocking them aside with ridiculous ease.
“Yes, we’re… um…” If I told her Elaya was my slave and technically my monster pet, it would be bad. “She’s a friend.”
Her eyes flickered. “She’s dead. It would have been before you were born.”
“It’s true! I know a lot about her. Ask any questions! I can answer it!”
“What’s the name of her child?” Xin demanded.
“Anyone would know that!” She growled, but then, a moment later, she let out an irritated sound and pulled away. “Come! If you want to live!”
I didn’t see how she appeared, but she didn’t run toward the entrance at all. Instead, she went back into the keep. I knew where she was going; so, I followed quickly without concern. We were heading to the safe room. Of course, I had a lot of things running through my mind, but as we were being pursued by the demons, it wasn’t the time to ask.
The demons were in hot pursuit up until we reached the safe room. I went straight to touch the kiosk, but Xin held up her hand and stopped me. A moment later, I heard a yell from outside.
“Where did they go?”
“Dungeon created creatures don’t see safe rooms. They are truly safe in every sense of the word.”
I remembered back to the first time I entered the dungeon as our group from Chalm desperately tried to barricade the entrance thinking the zombies would follow us in. It turned out that in general, that was something that couldn’t happen. Well, I’d probably still close the door, at least. It seemed like dungeon rules just existed to point out the exceptions.
Xin had also told me something else when she revealed that. She had told me that she was a real person. I had thought that Xin was some kind of creation of the dungeon. This dungeon had some relation to Aberis, so it made sense that some approximation of Xin, his mother, might appear in here. Yet, the mother he said he had killed was alive and before me. I found it difficult to believe. Part of that reason was that she wasn’t Osterian at all!
“You’re not… wait… do you know Greggar?”
I wasn’t sure why I went with that question first. It just occurred to me that if she knew about the safe rooms and was traveling by them, then she might have some knowledge about him.
“So, you’ve taken some of my challenges.”
“Your challenges?” I let out a noise of surprise.
She raised an eyebrow. “Princess Xin Greggar, of the former country of Osteria.”
“Now that you are in a saferoom, the karmic curse inflicting you should diminish and you should regain your mind a bit,” Xin informed me.
“Ah… it wasn’t hurting me. I have a strong resistance to miasma, so I’m okay.”
“I see…” She responded, watching me carefully and keeping a bit of room between the pair of us.
“I had never heard that you were an Osterian princess,” I spoke up. “I only knew that you were Elaya’s follower, and her, ahem… friend.”
“I’m the last of my royal line. The name Greggar was one I abandoned a long time ago. I just hold their bloodline, nothing more.” She responded bitterly. “It wasn’t like I ever ruled. In the end, I wasn’t even strong enough to take back the throne on my own. I had to depend on the Maid Hero instead.
“They called me a Princess Hero, but I was a princess without a kingdom, and I only got that name through birthright. Elaya was the true hero, and she rose from the ground up. She earned her place as queen. As for him…” There was a flash of anger in her eyes, but then it drifted away. “I can’t blame him either. It’s been so long; I cannot live with a grudge any longer.
“I’m sorry, but I’m still filled with questions. What happened after you had Demon Lord Aberis? Did he toss you in here? What have you been doing in the last twenty years? Didn’t you go to the forming Ost Republic? Why did you set up those challenges?”
“Hmph… I’ll answer with a single question. Why should I tell you anything? I’m still looking for a reason to let you live!”
“B-but, Elaya, and I do know each other! And I’m close to her son! Eliana, his sister, is my fiancé! I’m the Hero of Chalm!” I cried out defensively.
“Chalm? Isn’t that Lord Karr’s city? That foolish man who fought against the slave trade and failed?”
“He’s dead, I’m the current lord of Chalm.”
She looked up with an ugly expression. “That means you’re a lord of new Aberis.”
“It was Elaya’s kingdom too! Those kids are Elaya’s kids!”
She bared her teeth, her hands tightening on her staff, but rather than respond, she turned around. “I came to this outer fort to rescue the commander. Recently, the dungeon’s cycle has grown disturbed. Events are not moving forward how they were supposed to.”
“That’s because Aberis shoved me and a bunch of gladiators into this dungeon for sport. We’re supposed to reach the end. The first one to reach the end wins. We’re probably the reason the dungeon has changed. The karmic infusion has caused us to take on the roles of people in the lore, and our actions differ from theirs.”
“Then, it’s your fault!” She snapped angrily. “Every cycle, I’ve been subtly altering the lore, manipulating it, and trying to drive it to a conclusion. I was nearly going to succeed too, and then you guys showed up.”
“What?” She sneered. “Did you think he just suddenly decided to toss a bunch of powerful gladiators into the dungeon on a whim? He must have realized this was what I was doing. I was nearing escape, so he tossed you in here as a wrench to my plans. You’ve doomed us to be trapped in this dungeon for all time!”