After we finished, Salicia appeared to be healed. I was a White Mage, after all, so as soon as the curse was flushed from her system, my spells were more than enough to bring her back even from the cusp of death. Her wound healed up, and she looked as good as new. She looked even better than that. After becoming so close to her, I suddenly found it a bit difficult to see her the same way as before. She looked just a touch more radiant. As she looked at me, her cheeks flushed, and there was a slight bit of shyness that caused her to become more radiant and beautiful to my eyes.
She put her eyepatch back on, covering the dark brown eye, the only thing that indicated her as different from the original Salicia who had once died. After getting spare clothing from the girls present, she was starting to return to her old self. Furthermore, when our souls touched, I had also flushed out the contamination from Calypso’s miasmic attack. Although she had resisted Calypso once, there was no saying Calypso might not use her again. However, that mark had now been destroyed, freeing Salicia completely.
I looked out over the group of Bandits standing at the ready down in the arena. The rest of the girls walked up with me. Only a bit before, they had been battling these Bandit hordes to the death. Now, we all stood above them, and they looked up at me with reverence.
They were all controlled by me, and once I had ordered them to stand down, they had stopped fighting and had seemingly been loitering around. Given the angle of the arena to the stadium box, they weren’t able to see me with Salicia, but that didn’t stop them from being able to hear. Many of the men gave knowing grins and thumbs up as they saw me, having been well aware of what we were doing up here.
To them, I was nothing more than their Bandit King, although if they were asked why I became the leader, they’d just give a vague answer about how I defeated Calypso and am thus the strongest. In that respect, having a harem of beautiful women was perfectly suitable for a Bandit King, and perhaps even a sense of pride for the Bandits that followed me.
Many of them even recognized Salicia, so seeing her conquered by their new leader left them feeling quite happy. Some might have known her as Calypso’s right-hand woman, but many others had actually been Bandits under her back when she was the Bandit King herself. Of course, all of them had died, and these were only the remnant souls of those people.
Although their souls had been captured completely by this dungeon, they hadn’t been formed into miasmic bodies, but ground into food for the dungeon. Furthermore, these guys experienced endless amounts of death as they were sent out and encouraged to attack the countryside, creating more fuel for Calypso’s growing ambition. At this point, they were shells of what they once were, and even Salicia would struggle to pick out any one of them and recognize them as a bandit she once knew. It wasn’t like they could hold long conversations about the past, or act on any deep level.
“So, what should we do now?” Shao asked.
I thought about it for a bit, and then I made my decision.
“This dungeon needs to be destroyed.” I said after coming to my decision.
“Eh? But we worked so hard to capture it!” Celeste complained.
“Although I am the Dungeon Master at the moment, Calypso has the dungeon core. In short, while this dungeon seems like a strength, it has a terrible weakness.” I sighed. “Even if I had complete control of the dungeon, it wouldn’t be very useful to us.”
“How so?” Terra asked.
The Bandits in this dungeon are only mobs. They’re limited, and can only perhaps go a days ride away from any entrance this dungeon offers. That means, when it comes to the war effort up north, we won’t be able to use them. Furthermore, after dealing with Lord Reign, we may need to end up dealing with the Demon Lord Aberis as well. He was powerful enough that it took the combination of three heroes to defeat him last time. I can’t imagine he’s any weaker now. Simply put, this dungeon and the Bandits within do not give us an advantage.”
“Furthermore, without the core, this dungeon won’t be able to be maintained. I can already feel it weakening now.”
“Not necessarily.” Astria broke in. “You have the dungeon you created. You could spare some energy from it to keep this one fed. It’d be possible to create a connection between them, and feed this one like a mother feeds a baby in its womb.”
As she said this, she gave Salicia a coy look.
“Hmm?” The other woman asked, seemingly not knowing what they were talking about.
“It just seems like a shame to throw out all of this.” Terra sighed.
Of everyone present, other than Elaya and Astria who had traveled here using some powerful magic, Terra was probably the one who understood the potential battle strength of a dungeon the most. She had used her will and strength to create a prison that restrained the clockwork dragon for years. She had also had some kind of crazy idea about a mobile dungeon. I wondered how such a thing could work, but when I asked for details, she’d blush and insist that it just did.
However, there were limits to what you could do with an existing dungeon. The difference between a Dungeon Builder and a Dungeon Master is that a Dungeon Builder could define every step of the dungeon process, molding it to their will. A Dungeon Master could only influence. If a dungeon was a tree, then a master would be someone with shears, capable of pruning, and thus influence the shape of the tree, but only to an extent. A builder could guide the entire growth of the tree. The only limitation was what seed it started with.
In that case, the seed would be the curse, the core that was composed of the negative emotions and feelings that allowed the dungeon to grow in the first place. As a builder, I was able to create a seed on my own. For most dungeons, the seed was created spontaneously, and there was no control over the ultimate shape it would take.
“We don’t necessarily need to throw the entire thing out,” Elaya spoke up, catching everyone’s eye.
“Hmm?” I glanced in her direction, raising an eyebrow. “How so?”
“With the lore gone, it’s true that this place will slowly fall apart. The miasma will disperse and this dungeon will desiccate and break.” As Astria brightened, Elaya held up a finger. “You could maintain it by using some of the strength of your other dungeon, but rather than being more powerful, it’ll only force you to divide your power between two locations. Unless we recover the core, it will always be a weakness.
“However, there is another option. Since you’re the Dungeon Master, you can break down all the Bandits into miasma, and then clear out all of the miasma and send it to our other dungeon. Not only will you gain the templates, memories, and experience, but your dungeon will rapidly grow too.”
“How does this differ from what Astria did to the Widow’s Dungeon?” I asked.
“For me, I only drained out the miasma a bit and sent it home,” Astria admitted. “Although I had weakened Elaya temporarily, my conversion was extremely inefficient. Not only did I lose most of the miasma in the process, but there was no way I could take the elements of the dungeon.”
It was Elaya who explained. “As dungeons grow, they take on certain traits. You should know this best. Widow’s Dungeon held the trait of seduction.”
“Karr’s Dungeon held the trait of death,” Astria added.
Elaya nodded. “Your dungeon, on the other hand, is a blank slate, but because you have total control of it, any dungeon you’re able to consume in its entirety you can make your own power. This dungeon seems to hold the trait of strength. It exists to grind down a person’s stamina and challenge their fortitude. These Bandits, on the other hand, were created with a strong sense that the strongest is in charge.”
“So, if I’m able to absorb this dungeon, then I can make strength an attribute of my own dungeon?” I asked wonderingly.
“Mm…” she nodded. “You’ll be able to not only use all the mobs in this dungeon, but you’ll be able to infuse your levels with strengthening and weakening enchantments. You’ll be able to add horizontal levels and underwater levels. It will cause your dungeon building to grow by leaps and bounds!”
“Okay, then I’ll do it.”
That was all I needed to hear. Call me impulsive, but I’d rather just go ahead and do it and see what advantages it gave me. I had no reason to distrust these two on this. Elaya gave me the instructions. Slave Communication didn’t just transfer words, but it could transfer thoughts and emotions too. Elaya wasn’t a Slave, but she was a powerful enchantress, and seemed to be able to communicate in the same way. In many ways, it was a better form of communication than actually talking. Since I had to communicate with the girls the last week almost exclusively through Slave Communication, I had become extremely aware of this fact.
Now, Elaya was able to not just give me instructions, but include the feelings within those instructions. Strangely, it was much more informative. It wasn’t particularly difficult, and with Dungeon Builder reinforced by Dark Priest, it wasn’t too hard to figure out. Essentially, I was going to take all of the miasma in the dungeon, and forge it into a crystal. These crystals actually could exist in the world, especially with a dungeon that had been destroyed and buried, unable to resurface.
I remembered the pressure I felt when the entrance was cut off. Imagine a dungeon that experienced a sudden avalanche, cutting off its access. It would feel increasing pressure, and if it was unable to reach the surface, it would shatter and everything inside would die. Since the miasma couldn’t disperse, it’d slowly condense instead, eventually becoming such a crystal. If I ever found one in the future, I could use it to rapidly expand my dungeon. In this case, I was using my abilities to condense one, shortening what might have taken millions of years into a ceremony that took hours. Once she had finished teaching me the specifics, I raised my hands and began to harvest the Bandit’s Respite.