The Portal opened and I stepped through. As I walked out into the hall, I was immediately greeted by demons walking by. So, the demons had managed to conquer the other fort. This one was too valuable for them to destroy. Well, destroying their fort cost them nothing, because they started with two forts and in the end, they ended with two forts as well. I listened to two of the demons speaking.
“When they conquered this fort, those stupid humans never realized we had an entire contingent waiting underground in a hidden cellar. You should have seen the look on their faces when we did the same thing to them they had done to us. When we opened the doors and they looked on in confusion as an army was let right into their newly acquired fort, it was hilarious.
“That was probably the quickest turn around in ownership I have ever seen!”
The two men walked away, but I wore a scowl on my face. My Sense Life should have detected if there were any soldiers under us. I had looked over the Map carefully. The only two options were that the cellar had some kind of anti-Sense Life enchantment, or that the dungeon was interfering with Sense Life as it did with Portal. In dungeons, Sense Life usually couldn’t work through too many walls, and certainly wouldn’t travel to other levels. In that same way, it’s possible the dungeon wasn’t letting me use Sense Life like the real world but was treating the cellar like another level.
Either way, I now knew that I couldn’t depend on Sense Life anymore. It was unreliable. I began walking down the hallway in the other direction, and the two demon soldiers didn’t pay me any mind. I was in the proper uniform and I even had the karma of a soldier. Other than the fact that the soldier whose karma I borrowed was supposed to be in another station, there was nothing suspicious about my presence here. Considering the day they had yesterday, with this fort being lost and retaken, and numerous reinforcements coming from the Capital, it was easy to get lost in the crowd.
My goal here was the same goal I had in the other fort. I wanted to identify the safe room. It took about ten minutes, and I did try to keep my distance from any patrolling soldiers just in case which made it take a little longer. I eventually stumbled into the safe room. A glance at the mural, and I truly felt like the dungeon was mocking me.
The mural depicted the princess being captured and taken away by the Demon Prince. However, instead of being taken away from a lascivious demon, he was being taken away from the commander as his fort fell around him.
I didn’t know what to think about that. Xin had already been in all of these safe rooms, so my theory that they formed when the first person entered them seemed to be false. Then again, maybe every cycle, the murals reset, and it was the first time for this cycle. At least her trials didn’t reset after each cycle.
I had to wonder if I had entered this room before I had returned, would I have been warned about this, or would the mural have presented something else?
I shook my head. It didn’t matter what the lore said anymore. I was tired of trying to make sense of it. What I needed wasn’t to figure out what this dungeon meant. What I needed was to gain enough strength and defeat this dungeon for good!
I placed my hand on the kiosk, and the familiar transportation magic sent me to this trial. I wondered a bit how Xin had managed to set this up, but considering how long she had been in here, she had plenty of time to figure it out. It seemed like an ability I might be able to replicate if I increased my level in Dungeon Master a bit.
Looking around the familiar room, I walked up to the trial, reading the familiar text. This was the 4th trial I had managed so far. Even knowing it was just a time-waster, I needed better equipment if I wanted to make it in this dungeon. I had only been in this dungeon a few days in dungeon time. I still had three months to go. Perhaps, it was rushing things that had led to me losing Carmine and my army so quickly in the first place.
Patience is a virtue.
That was all this trial said. I stepped through the door and ended up in an empty room not completely unlike the room where I had fought the gladiator-like fight last time. In that competition, the goal was to wait out the clock, surviving as a monster attacked you. I had a feeling that, considering this trial talked about patience, it was a similar one where you had to wait out the clock.
I walked to the door at the end of the room, and there was a predictable door on the other side of the room, but it was closed. I tried to open it, but the door didn’t open. With a sigh, I sat down and waited.
Two hours later, I had enough of waiting. I went back to the door again, but it was still locked. I frowned, wondering if there was something else to the trial I was missing. Then, I remembered what Xin had said. These trials were meant to waste people’s time! If she wanted to slow someone down, creating a patience trial where you had to wait would be the best way to do it. I had thought that she had put more thought into it than that, but perhaps it was as simple as wait until the door opens.
“So lazy!” I said out loud bitterly, but there was no one in the trial to hear me.
More hours passed, and I was starting to pace back and forth recklessly. Perhaps, aiming to complete these trials was not the best use of my time. I had been thinking most of them would be quick things like the first two I did. Then again, those might have been much longer trials had I not had cheats to get through them. Perhaps the creature in the dark was some kind of temptation creature, not there to make you feel fear, but made to make you freeze up and be unable to leave for a while. Who but Xin knew?
Looking at the Map, it showed this room instead of the world. That made me think that these rooms also had another use. They couldn’t be seen by the dungeon. Just like I couldn’t find Carmine’s point, and only had a vague awareness of the direction she was in, the dungeon couldn’t pinpoint me while I was in this subspace. I wasn’t sure how to use that information, but it had to be helpful somehow. It was easy coming up with theories like this since all I had was time to think.
Time continued to pass, and I even went to sleep and woke up. At this point, I had been in this trial much longer than all of the other trials combined. I guess patience wasn’t my virtue.
I had finally reached the end of my rope. I tried to break down the door. It had been over a day since I had been in this room. Carmine was captured, and who knew what was happening as Bernard took control of those armies. I couldn’t depend on Xin to help, so I needed to work myself to get all of this resolved. I tried attacking the door with many different spells, but the door remained intact.
I had feared that it might penalize me for attacking it, perhaps by making me wait even longer, but I couldn’t help it. I used fire, water, earth, and wind… and it didn’t matter what element I used; I was unable to get through the door. Finally, I looked at the door carefully. It was made out of some kind of sturdy alloy that had to have some kind of magical property. Other than little scorch marks from my attempts to destroy it, it didn’t have a single dent on it. As I looked closer, I noticed just a bit of light coming from the other side. The keyhole showed the other side.
Kneeling, I peeked through the keyhole, and just as expected, I could see the other room. It had a familiar treasure chest that likely had some kind of star item inside it. However, more importantly, now that I had a visual in the room, I could access it on my Map. I created a Portal to that room. I didn’t know what the effect of this would be, but I didn’t have any choice. It said patience was a virtue, it didn’t say that failing to be patient would cause failure.
I took a step through, not willing to stay in that room any longer. If this stupid trial ended up killing me for it, I’d likely end up tied to the dungeon. I’d use my cursed life to purposefully give Xin a hard time. I decided that is what I would do if I failed here.
Yet, despite all my fears, I stepped into the room without a problem. Looking around suspiciously, I could see the door behind me was still closed, but I was definitely in the room with the treasure chest and the kiosk. I opened the chest after checking for traps, and all I found in it was a boot. It was a Star boot. Not two of them, just one. What could I do with one boot! I cursed Xin some more in my mind. Her damn trial was lazy and broken, and even her reward was broken! Now, I could understand why she was so dismissive of it. Yet, as dismissive as she was, it wasn’t like she set up a method for me to circumvent this room.
I still had one thing to test. I touched the kiosk, but there was a familiar glow and I was back in the safe room. At this point, my eyebrows were twitching though. After letting my aggravation diminish a bit, I used the kiosk to transfer back to the fort that had been destroyed yesterday. I had expected it not to work, so I was surprised when I appeared in the safe room. I slowly opened the door, only to see a crater with ruins all around. It looked like the safe room had survived a nuclear explosion. I guess I couldn’t underestimate it as a source of safety. Even Meteor wouldn’t take out a safe room.
Of course, with the place turning to rubble, there were no demons nearby. It was surrounded by rubble. It was time to start rebuilding.