Book III - Chapter 17

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Chapter 17

[Snake Report]

[Inheritor]

The gift I received.

The frog… person… God… entity… I’m still not quite sure what they were. But, when they died, I know they gave me something.

Something, with a purpose.

The title seems to infer as much.

Magic was a large part. In their final seconds, they fixed my Earth troubles once and for all. What’s more, is they gave me some of their own talents to go with it.

Still, it wasn’t just a simple gift. There was clearly more to it.

Knowledge.

The farther into their domain we traveled, the stronger I remember those vision had gotten. With their voice guiding me- guiding me until I couldn’t see anything else: I saw the edges of what they were.

Someone like me.

A person, or a ghost, or maybe just a soul? An outsider, snatched and forced to play a role, here in this strange place. Forced to play the games of killing for rewards. To be a [Servant of The World] as the title seems to suggest.

To gain that sort of power… how many people they murdered, I can only imagine. And yet, they made me witness enough. Just enough, until I could understand, what they hoped to accomplish. If only in a small part, I understand.

They chose me, to finish what they started.

Back down in the Dungeon, surrounded by my loyal Guards, looking up at this entrance of carvings: I think I’ve finally made a bit more sense of their message.

The faces stare ahead, stone given the imitation of emotion, as they fight and die in a never-ending battle. Swords, spears, teeth, and claws, all tearing one another apart. All meeting a horrible fate for the sake of war. Humans and monsters, together. Both sides, caught in a never-ending struggle of violence and war.

The truth was right there. Right here at the start, in these carvings.

This world is at war.

Not the kind where armies are pitted against one another, but war all the same. The kind of conflict where one side hates the other, so badly, that there’s nothing off the table of what might be attempted.

Hatred.

Something I’m all too familiar with, now. Personally, and…

Sss…

Down to the tiniest detail, riding along on Gorf the lump’s shoulder, I’ve got a pretty good sense of the dread that comes hand in hand with descending into a place that despises me. That which whispers in anger, at our very presence. That wants me to die, and die terribly.

I can’t hear it, exactly, but I can feel it.

Like a deep note, entire octaves out of range, but still shaking in my bones.

The World does not want me here.

[Enemy of the World]

I can almost feel that branded title pulse with rage.

The World doesn’t want me, or anyone, here. No one at all is permitted, unless they’ve bent the physical or metaphorical knee. So, someone like me, being here, is an act of defiance it can’t tolerate. Something that will naturally invoke retaliation of the grandest of scale, time and time again.

But, it probably should have thought about that before trying to murder me.

“Alaster, Steward: go to the hall entrance and keep watch. Granus, make sure there’s nothing else down here.”

Simple orders.

Nods of acceptance and now the Golem are… going.

I’m not entirely convinced these guys can carry out exactly what I tell them, yet. Not trying to say they’re entirely stupid, considering they understand speech, but they’re not quite geniuses, either. On the way down here, I saw Alaster hit his head so many times I had to rework the stairs.

Sss…

They’re good enough. I know they can fight, and if things go ass over teakettle, that’s what counts. The rest, hopefully, will come as the skill improves.

Hasn’t changed much down here, though. Which… well, it’s interesting.

I expected, from all the efforts to make the entrance open back up, there would be more differences from what I remember, but seems like that’s not really the case. Despite all the efforts to resurface and kill me, the Dungeon’s layout hasn’t changed much.

Still a large room, to start. Ruins and carvings on the entrance to go further in on one side, and almost natural cave-like layout for the rest of it. Minus, of course, the newly added staircase.

I tried to do a fairly narrow descent, but making room for the Golem crew was difficult on account of their size, so the new opening ended up being quite large. Little bit dicey on the approach, and I didn’t aim all that well. My interpretation of a glorious archway ended up in the far back, almost haphazardly bursting out and ruining the feng shui of the stalagmites.

Nothing a little touch-ups won’t fix, though.

Hmm… Alaster seems to be clunking around looking into the nooks and crannies, but looks like we’re in the clear. Nothing’s burst out of the shadows and latched on to their face, or anything.

Good start.

Steward’s actually the one in real danger, if there is any. They went right for the real entrance, down the incline a bit. Standing just inside the threshold of the passageway, any further and they would be heading into the winding hall, down to the Large Frog God’s throne room.

Or, what was his room.

Way down that long, winding, hall. Like a spiral to the center of the earth.

The farther in, the less I remember, but I imagine that’s where the monsters came from before trying to ambush on the surface. I’d bet good money they were drawn in from the deeper Dungeon, now that there’s no all-powerful frog to stop them. Either that, or…

You know, while I wasn’t in the best state of mind, I clearly recall there were some side tunnels towards the start. I think they were being mined by the people who were here before us, which means-

Ah.

There we are: I even spy with my tiny eyes, several boxes.

Mana crystals.

Looks as though they were never retrieved. The fake-wood crates are all piled, minus whatever Eveth, Alem, and the others must have brought out with them before they ran off.

Mine now, I suppose.

Gorf, your time has come. Start lugging those upwards. You’re on shuttle duty.

Yes, you.

Yep.

There you go. Just pick up-

Up, not down.

Gorf.

Ah.

Alright, I could see how this assignment might be difficult for you. I clearly didn’t think about how hard this was going to be for someone lacking in the defined “hand-structure” required.

OK- scratch that. Granus: your time has come!

Get to work, buddy. Just bring them back to Rocky. We’ll deal with them later. Gorf, you just… stick by me.

Yeah.

Hey, Gorf. Don’t feel bad.

Oh, come on now. Not having real hands is perfectly normal. I’m in a similar boat, and I seem to get by just fine. Your lumpy arms are great for other things, like pummeling monsters, or pounding giant pizza dough. You’ll get your chance to shine.

Sss…I have to admit, it’s amazing how a Golem that’s more soggy ginger-bread man than defined sculpture, can convey disappointment.

Didn’t expect that.

Gorf, I’ll tell you what. How about you go knock down some of those stalagmites.

I mean those weird pillar things, coming out of the floor. Give ‘em a good hit. Start swinging.

Yeah! There you go!

Nice job.

Good Golem.

Certainly got a knack for breaking things.

Keep that up, Gorf.

Man, he’s like a giant, extremely dangerous, sentient, wrecking ball of enthusiasm. He’s really going to town on those…

Right.

So, we’ve got our lookout guards, our package delivery, our demolition… Everyone’s got a job to do, now. So, I suppose it’s time I did mine.

Hear that Gaia?

This isn’t your Dungeon anymore.

No.

Starting now: this is mine.

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