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Chapter 761

“We’re in a dungeon!” I protested as Garnet continued to walk.

“What about it? She asked.

“You can’t continue to live here!”

“Why not?” She asked, seemingly curious.

“Wh-why not?” I shook my head, completely floored that she’d even ask that question. “Because it isn’t real?”

“Do you think it isn’t real? Then is the treasure it produces not real? Are the people here not real? Hey, are you real?” She looked at a portly male walking by.

“Huh? What are you saying? Crazy Dwarf.” The male snorted and then quickened his step.

“Garnet, this place is filled with miasma. Over time, it will start to affect you, change who you are. This dungeon will turn you into part of itself.” I tried a different approach to convince her.

“It doesn’t bother me so much…”

She turned, entering an open hut. The feel of heat emanating from it immediately told me that this place was a forge. A man in a thick apron and the sounds of hammering only confirmed it. I stopped at the entrance, watching as Garnet casually tossed on her apron.

“You’re back again, little miss?” The Blacksmith said. “You work almost as hard as I do, I feel bad I’m not paying you.”

“You’re letting me use your items and supplies?” Garnet responded, “That’s enough for me.”

“Garnet…” I protested.

“Out there, I was a slave, or I was ignored. In here, there is a war and need for Blacksmiths. Old man Smith here has orders backed up for months. I can keep working in peace without the risk of being arrested or enslaved. A slave mark is meaningless when your Master exists in another world.” Garnet shrugged.

“Is this guy bothering you?” The Blacksmith asked, making sure to glare at me and show the girth of his arms, which were almost wider than my waist.

“It’s okay, he’s an old friend,” Garnet responded. “You are a friend, right?”

That question seemed to have more meaning than that. It seemed to imply that a true friend wouldn’t press her or make her leave.

“I’ll be trying to defeat this dungeon. If I complete the terms, I’m not sure what happens when this place is destroyed. Normally, you’d just be expelled, but since this place is in a bubble not connected with our world, you may end up… somewhere else.”

I was going to say that she might end up dead, but I didn’t know what happened if you fell between worlds. Despite having once traveled across dimensions, I knew nothing about them.

“If that happens, it happens.” Garnet shrugged. “Besides, I have a once in a lifetime opportunity. In two weeks, there will be a shipment of Silvthril.”

I blinked. “What’s Silvthril?”

“it’s a magical metal like Mithril, but this one is imbued with divine strength. If Orichalcum is a metal created by dungeons, having properties of darkness and miasma, then Silvthril is the exact opposite.”

“He’s a Magic Blacksmith?” I asked in surprise.

“Hmph!” He snorted.

“He is! Isn’t that lucky?” Garnet grinned. “When Master shoved me in here, I had no clue where I’d end up. However, I was found by the blacksmith here, and he’s been helping me learn magic blacksmithing. I’m already a level four Magic Blacksmith. It took a few years, but I figured it out!

“I thought you were twenty-two years old! Wait, you’ve been in here a few years?”

I felt stupid as soon as I said that. One day equaled one month, and she was in here before I was. No wonder she didn’t want to leave this place. She had already been here for around 30 months, or over two years. Me telling her this place would be gone in two months probably didn’t seem real.

“Why, Deek, I am twenty-two!” She responded, grinning as she picked up the hammer. Just because time moves differently in here doesn’t mean you age faster. Interestingly, it would have taken me years to be a Magic Blacksmith, but now I’ve achieved it in less than a month. Imagine how far I can go if I stay here? So, I hope you understand why I need to stay?”

“Yeah, it’s funny how things work out.”

I ended the conversation with her and walked away, but I had a frown on my face. The Demon Lord didn’t do anything on accident. What if Garnet was dropped in this world exactly to become a Magic Blacksmith? Just what was that guy planning?

Chapter 762

“Your food is always the best, Deek!” the barmaid said, pouting her lips in a suggesting manner.

“Ease off the boy, he likes… ahem… other women.”

Being hit on by the barmaid, even if I wasn’t interested, still was a morale booster. Unfortunately, the obnoxious innkeeper always found a way to kill that mood. Two weeks had passed since I had found Garnet, and I was now at the halfway point in this dungeon. I only had six weeks to go.

Since finding this village, I had decided to stay nearby as I continued to level and grow myself. Of course, I wasn’t sleeping in the same room as Garnet anymore. I made sure to nip that in the bud, although the innkeeper still was convinced, we were in some kind of relationship. Maybe we were. I was unwilling to abandon Garnet, and I figured that if Lord Aberis did have some grand plan for her, then it made sense that I should stick by her.

I had gotten a map from one of the village heads, and they had helped me locate any area that I thought might be a safe room. I did daily excursions across the countryside, and with Portal, I was able to make it all around the dungeon. I had explored well over half of it at this point. Although there was no wall to show the edge, there was an impassable mountain range. I decided not to try to fight my way past it, even though I could technically teleport to the peak and glance over with a single Portal. I decided that was too much risk.

Either way, I had done twenty-three of Xin’s trials at this point, netting the majority of the armor toward a full star suit. I had also gained levels in various jobs, continuing to get stronger with each passing day. I could still feel Carmine in the castle, but the demon castle and the city that surrounded it was the one place I didn’t go.

Today was a rather rare break. I had more spots of interest to visit which may be other safe rooms, but lately, I just needed a day off. At this point, the town was convinced I was a suitor who was courting Garnet. Although it was known she was a dwarf, I still couldn’t shake some of the negative stigmatism associated with being interested in a younger woman. The barmaid still occasionally made passes at me, and for that, I had to blame my high charm. I had recently unlocked Charm Plus from True Hero, which made me devastatingly charming, or at least I imagined it did.

Garnet had also passed around the tale of me making food for everyone back in the Miner’s town, and so even though I didn’t have any passion for making food as the current me, I was encouraged into cooking for the whole village. Impassioned or not, I had the Cook job and could whip something up that was better than most of the meals in this world without too much difficulty. Thus, the entire village had gathered around for an impromptu celebration. The innkeeper was providing the supplies and I was providing the cooking skill.

There were only about thirty people in the village, so passing out the food didn’t take long. As I talked and joked around with the village, I couldn’t see these people as some fake creation of the dungeon. They were real people with histories, memories, and personalities. I started to remember the theory of infinite dungeons, where the entire world we knew was just a dungeon that has existed so long that it couldn’t even remember its lore anymore.

The only thing that kept me from jumping on that theory was that I still had to find a dungeon within this dungeon. The closest thing to it was Xin’s challenges, and they didn’t feel quite the same.

Garnet had already lived here for years. This village and its people were a part of her. I wasn’t sure if I had a right to take that away from her. If I destroyed this world, wasn’t I consigning all of these people to death? The dungeon might desire a conclusion to its lore, but to the inhabitants, Dungeon Divers like me or Xin could be seen as world enemies, seeking to end everything these people knew.

It was enough to give me a headache. I didn’t have to destroy this dungeon, I just had to get past the Demon Lord and through the portal, and then past the Demon Lord on the other side who was holding the portal open. Should I leave these people to their fate, eternally repeating this cycle of a violent war, or do I end the cycle, condemning them to nonexistence? In the end, no matter how much I thought about it, I couldn’t come to a solution that satisfied me.

Chapter 763

“The Silvthril shipment hasn’t arrived.” The Blacksmith frowned. “This is worrying.”

I wondered about the Silvthril. If it was anti-miasma, then it was probably effective against all dungeon creatures. That being the case, why would the dungeon contain any Silvthril? I shook my head putting those thoughts out of my mind. I had to assume that the SIlvthril was here and existed, rather than that the Silvthril was some kind of illusion in the story. Maybe, every cycle he waited for that shipment, and every cycle it never came, but I felt I had to treat it like it was real.

Part of that reason was that Garnet was looking at me with begging eyes. This was the day after the celebration. The shipment was supposed to arrive last night, and instead, they got bupkes. Garnet had come to my room early that morning, her eyes filled with worry as she asked me to come to the forge. Coming down with Garnet in hand, I had to dodge the innkeeper’s smug looks and the barmaid’s unhappy expression.

They had to have seen her come up, so they knew there was no time for us to get up to any shenanigans. I was pretty sure they were just giving me a hard time at this point. It was no secret that the only reason I remained in town was for Garnet.

Thus, I ended up in the forge, with the blacksmith laying a request, as well as a bag of gold. “You’re an adventurer and a hunter. This is well known. I’d like to pay you. It’s bandits, assuredly. Track them down, kill them, and take back the Silvthril. I can pay you this again as long as you come back with it. I’ve also made you some armor more to your style. I know you’ve been collecting that Star crap, but it doesn’t suit your fighting style at all.

He was correct. I hadn’t worn the Star Armor since getting it. There were numerous pieces of thick full mail, and it covered every inch of the body. I was someone who needed to see my environment and be able to move quickly. It didn’t suit me at all. As to why I collected it, it was just a consequence of unlocking the saferoom network, and I thought the armor might do well for Carmine. When I got her back, I’d present her the armor as a gift.

At the moment, I was being shown armor of my own. I was surprised to see it glow a bit.

“Magic?” I said in surprise.

“Mmm… it’s just steel, but I infused magic into it. It’s a lot stronger than it looks, and lighter too.”

I picked up the chain-link material which looked a bit like a shirt, and while it felt like it should weigh ten pounds, it only felt like one or two.

“It’s beautiful,” I responded, looking at him with a bit of respect.

Magic blacksmiths were worth respect. All of Aberis only had one Master, and this was another.

“Don’t look at me.” He snorted, nodding to my side.

I looked to see Garnet blush. “I made it …”

“Then, thank you. I will go and recover that metal.” My hands tightened on the armor for a bit. “Then, I will be leaving.”

She looked up at me with shock, a flash in her eyes. “Leaving?”

While still looking at the armor, I spoke. “I’ve made my decision. I can’t wait to see if Lord Aberis has some master plan. I can’t just keep reacting to him. I have to take the initiative. I will head to the demon castle. I have to reach Carmine, and return to the rest of the people in my life.”

It was never really a question, but I had procrastinated here because I was afraid of failing again. I supposed losing Carmine and the fort had caused me to run away from my problems for a bit.

“Then… there will be a cost for that armor.” Garnet put on a stubborn look, the one I had grown to understand as something she wouldn’t budge on.

“What is it?”

“I’ll be going with you to take out those bandits.” She responded. “I’ll recover that metal with my own hands!”

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