“Crap! Crap! Crap! Crap!” I cursed. “We’re screwed!”
“I find it increasingly depressing that this is the dungeon that ended up taking my life.” Diamond seemed to have recovered from her broken state surprisingly quickly.
She had appeared next to me and could see roughly the same thing I could see, which was the group of girls preparing to enter my dungeon. They were tightening their armor and sharpening their swords. It all felt rather frightening.
“Hey! I never asked to be a dungeon, and I certainly didn’t ask to be hunted by a bunch of greedy bitches.” I cursed back and then thought of something. “Wait, you’re a C-rank, right? They’re only an F-rank team. You could defeat them?”
Diamond wasn’t just a low-level heroine. These adventurers should be much weaker than her. None of them should be a strange freak of nature like Misty who has over-the-top sword skills that don’t match her rank at all.
“I could help you.” She responded, checking out her nails dismissively. “What’s in it for me?”
“You…” I glared at her. “If you don’t help me, you’ll die too!”
“I’m already dead!” She responded. “As long as I hide and wait for your death, then I’ll be able to leave this place on my own. I see that as a win.”
“Don’t you have any loyalty at all?” I cried out. “I brought you back to life!”
“You’re the reason I’m dead too.” She shot back, her cheeks turning red as she looked at her body. “You couldn’t even leave my corpse in peace.”
Her body was still standing, a vacant expression on its face. She was naked, and liquids were running down her legs. It was not a flattering look.
“You’re the one who had me raise your corpse,” I stated. “And if you listened to me in the first place, maybe I’d not have to punish you.”
The pair of us glared at each other for a moment. That’s when I felt an alarm in my head. It was the signal that the dungeon had finally been broken through. They were on the first level.
“Tick tock… running out of time.” She put on a dark smile.
“Wh-what do you want?” I mumbled.
“What’s that?” She put her hand to her ear in a mocking gesture.
I shook slightly. “I said, what do you want? T-to protect me?”
“I have two conditions for helping you.” She declared, holding up two fingers. “First, you won’t possess my body again. If you even think of touching my body in any perverted way, I’ll never help you.”
“That’s fine. I agree.”
Who wanted her flat-chest body anyway? As for what happened before, even I was a little worried about that. I was a man. Even if I was a dungeon, my identity as a man remained strong. I wasn’t going to become some futanari hybrid or turn into a cock-obsessed slut. If anything, I’d make women worship my cock. Playing with her body might have been pleasurable, but it had too high a chance of making my mind go weird. I promised myself from then on I wouldn’t inhabit a woman’s body. I felt the same for animals. If it didn’t have two legs and two arms and a dick, I wouldn’t control it. Ah… well, maybe tentacles, or a blob. Of course, the bone dildo is on level four. Also, animal-human hybrids were fine, as long as they walked on two legs. However, that was it. I swore.
“Good, then second. I’ll help you deal with this problem and your Misty problem. Then, I want to leave.”
My eyes flashed. “L-leave?”
“Let me leave the dungeon, is that so difficult? I won’t be your slave. You brought me back to life. I’ll help you with your stupid little problem and then we’ll split ways.”
Although I was a spectator with nobody, I felt my teeth clench. I had spent a lot of points to get her, and she was powerful enough to protect me. Furthermore, she knew about this world far more than I did, and that could always come in handy. Yet, I couldn’t get her help, so it seemed like my only choice was to make such an agreement.
“Fine, I agree.” I held out my hand.
She didn’t take it, and I realized that was because I was a ball of light with no hands. “Then, let’s watch.”
She turned to the screen where a group of four girls were cautiously moving forward in my hallway. They were moving far slower than either Misty or Diamond did. It was like they expected every step to be a trap. They tapped the floor ahead of them with a stick, and every step was performed cautiously like the dungeon was swarming with traps.
I continued to watch as Diamond reentered her body and put her clothing back on. When she was done, she sat down on the floor, looking like she had no intention of stopping them.
“What’s the big idea?” I demanded.
“Eh?” She looked at me while picking at her ear with her pinky.
“Are you going to kill them?”
“That might not even be necessary.” She responded. “These guys are an F-rank team, and not even a good one at that. I’ve heard of these Passion’s Fruit people before. They have a reputation for doing shoddy work. The fact they think they can take a dungeon is laughable.”
“It’s Passion’s Summit!” I responded, coughing awkwardly. “I’m weak right now. My second level doesn’t even have anyone, and with how careful they’re moving, there is no way they’ll fall into a pitfall.”
“Then send the rat king there.” She shrugged, but when I still gave her a look she gave me an irritable look. “Your dungeon is strange and it was even challenging for me to handle. Calling you strictly an F rank is a bit off. Just the fact you have intelligence is enough to consider you a C-rank threat. Besides, I’ll take the role of your boss. If they make it through, isn’t it better to allow them to exhaust themselves through four floors first? You also get to keep any points while they’re in here, right?’
“That’s true!” My eyes brightened.
Her words made far too much sense. I had been too eager to remove the threat, but with Diamond as backup, I had nothing to fear. I now had four fresh bodies in my dungeon, and my points were slowly increasing. An ideal situation would leave them stuck in my dungeon for weeks.
“W-wait… if they are defeated before they arrive, didn’t I agree to your terms for nothing?”
“Do you plan to back out?” her face darkened.
“No! Not at all!” I groveled, moving to kiss her feet, but then remembering that she didn’t want me touching her at all. “I will listen to you. Please step on me!”
“Stop embarrassing yourself, even as a ball of light, you disgust me.” She pulled her foot away with a grossed-out expression.
I let out a slight sigh of regret and then returned to watching the team slowly progress. They had still yet to even reach the first pitfall. I then recalled the rat king and sent it to level 2. Not all bosses were created the same. Some bosses could only be placed in boss rooms. They either couldn’t physically fit or were somehow inhibited if you tried to place them elsewhere. The rather cheap rat king wasn’t much different than a mob in that respect.
“Where are the other rats, anyway?” Diamond asked as she watched the rat king scurry away.
“Hmm? What rats?” I asked.
“Seriously? You have a rat king and no rats?” She broke into laughter.
“Why’s that a problem?” I frowned.
“A rat king has little offensive or defensive ability. The only reason they’re dangerous is because they can control rats. In other words, they’re a control-type mob. With a few hundred rats at their disposal, they can be quite strong. They can cause people to break down and panic in large crowds, and their small sizes make them difficult to deal with. When I saw the rat king, I thought you were hiding the rats as a trump card. Did you buy a rat king without any rats? You are an idiot!”
“Ahh…” I didn’t even know how to respond.
I didn’t know anything about this world. All I had was a list of names and prices. Everything else was guesswork. For example, when I saw a cheaper summon ghost, how could I have predicted I’d be summoning her? As for the rat king, how could I know that his skill was only with rats?
“The rats of this world are normal-sized, right?”
“What do you mean by that? Rats are about… oh… this size.” She held her hands out.
“That’s the size of a big house cat!” I cried out. “What is this, New York?”
“That’s right, rats are the same size as cats, whereas the rat king is about the size of a dog. That’s how you can tell the difference.” She explained. “What is New York?”
“Never mind.” I coughed. “In that case, are there rats in the forest too?”
“There are rats everywhere. Exterminating rats is the most common quest guilds get. Based on the number, it’s a rank F quest, but if they have a rat king, it becomes rank D. Why?”
“I can summon rats for points, but if we could attract rats into the dungeon, could the rat king take them over?” I explained my plan.
She blinked, and then slowly nodded. “If you put out some bait, the rats will show up. A rat king can control any rat. Once they’re under his control, they would become your power. Not bad, that is a cheat. No wonder they consider dungeons with intelligence to be a greater threat not equal to their accumulated mana.”
I preened a bit at her words. Her compliments came far and few between, but I was a positive reinforcement kind of guy. When people criticized me heavily, it made me depressed and more likely to just hide and eat. That was part of the reason I ended up in the basement. My dad had been especially criticizing. He criticized my weight, my lifestyle, and my prospects. I started to hide in the basement more and more until I eventually just stopped leaving.
“A pitfall!” One of the girls cried out.
“Oh… finally. I was starting to think this dungeon was empty.” The leader snorted.
“How are we going to handle this, boss?”
“Just use the bridge.” The leader announced.
The larger of the girls pulled a giant backpack off her bag and opened it up. Nearly the entire inner pocket was filled with a large item. When they finally pulled it out, I realized it was a retractable latter. They brought it out to a full length of about twenty feet, and then carefully laid it on the ground.
“Dungeonco.” Diamond shrugged. “They’re a company that sprang up a few years ago. They sell heroines an assortment of items to face any and every challenge they might encounter in a dungeon. Most of it is a waste. If you have any skill, you can get passed most challenges. Dungeons follow certain rules. They have to be defeatable.”
“Ah, I know… they could jump right over those pitfalls.”
“Dungeonco is mostly junk for those who lack confidence. They have a few decent items, like treasure detectors and dungeon scanners, but even those only work sometimes, especially those treasure detectors. They only find one out of every ten treasures. Like I said, it’s just a money-making scheme. I wouldn’t take anyone who uses their stuff excessively.”
She said that, but the two of us could only watch as the group crawled across the latter on all fours, easily passing the traps before moving on as hesitantly as before. Every girl seemed to have a different device in their hands, and they were keeping their eyes out like vultures. When they reached the trapdoor, that was also overcome with ease. Soon, they reached the stairway leading to the second floor. At that point, they had already taken six hours to pass a space that’d normally take fifteen minutes.
“This dungeon is tough.” One of the girls complained. “So many traps. That last pitfall was even hidden. If we didn’t use the Dungeonco probe stick, we would have fallen to our deaths!”
“Is there another four floors? How is this an F-rank dungeon?”
I found myself speechless at their whining. I had thought they got through the dungeon far too easily, but their complaining made it sound like they had just survived an ordeal. I couldn’t help but glance at Diamond who was laying back with her hands behind her head like none of this had anything to do with her.
“What? It’s the fear of the unknown. If you haven’t trained your senses to detect things automatically, then your only choice is to progress forward with your nerves stretched taut. Normal girls can’t even handle the stress of it, every step could mean a trap aiming for your life. Every moment, a mob could jump out and attack you from some hidden alcove. Getting over panic and fear is what separates F rank from D rank.”
“Oh? Then what separates D rank from C?”
“Skill.” She responded simply.
“I detect enemies on this level.” One of the girls spoke hesitantly. “Just one.”
“Just one? Doesn’t that mean it’ll be a stronger mob?” One of the other girls asked.
“It could just be a goblin or something.” The leader tried to reassure them.
“It could be a goblin, but it could also be an ogre!”
“Will you stop panicking!” The leader snapped. “We’re going back to the first floor. We’ll camp for the night and then tomorrow we’ll tackle the next section.”
“Seriously?” I couldn’t help but cry out.
Don’t get me wrong, I was delighted, but this was a level of caution that bordered on ridiculous. They only did a single floor in a day? Admittedly, they had started around midday and it was near dinner time, but they also retreated up a floor.
“Didn’t I tell you? This is how a party progresses in a dungeon of the same level. No one wants to die in a dungeon, so such a thing is common. They take things slowly, making sure to rest regularly and be ready at any moment for a fight to the death. Only if you’re far higher rank than the dungeon would you act as relaxed as me.”
“What about Misty?”
“Misty is a clumsy idiot.” She made a face. “Don’t confuse my confidence with her dumbness.”
“Okay… okay…” I held up my nonexistent hands in defeat, but Diamond only snorted. “Um… why return to the first floor then?”
They don’t know what mob is on the second floor. They don’t want to be sneak attacked in the night, so they’re aiming for a floor without mobs. Mobs rarely switch floors.”
“It’s not that they can’t,” I spoke up. “However, there are limits. I can’t do anything to a level that currently has someone on it. I can assign mobs to a floor, but if they leave that floor they take a status hit. They’re weaker on any floor that isn’t their assigned space. I can reassign them to a different level, but that costs points. I went ahead and reassigned the rat king to level two since you’re going to act as my level five boss.”
It wasn’t a lot of points to reassign something, just 200, and I had already earned that much and more with this group appearing. Diamond listened to my words consideringly. Although she knew about dungeons as a heroine, she only knew about the other side of things because I explained it to her. Dungeons stores and dungeon points were all a new concept for her, but she grasped their intricacies pretty quickly.
“Can you create another goblin?” She asked.
“Yes, but I can’t put it on floor one. If I put it on floor two, wouldn’t they realize I was intelligent?”
Diamond raised an eyebrow my way. “You even thought of that? Maybe you’re not as dumb as you look.”
Diamond hadn’t said it explicitly, but it seemed like being an intelligent dungeon was dangerous for me. If the guild knew, they might just kill me in principle. These girls were already reluctantly attacking me to cover up their tracks. If I suddenly beefed up level two in response to their appearance, they could reason out I had above the expected intelligence level of a dungeon my rank. They could then justify their report that called me dangerous. At that point, they could leave the dungeon and report me for destruction, and then I’d have no choice but to await annihilation.
“You keep saying I’m dumb, but didn’t you fall for it?” I responded bitterly.
“Shut up, bastard! Don’t forget, it was Misty who defeated me, not you.” She glared. “Anyway, don’t worry about it too much. Just summon a goblin.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Heh, to mess with these sluts.” Her expression turned scary, and I couldn’t help but gulp.
I was supposedly the monster, but wasn’t Diamond even meaner? I still summoned a goblin, who made nonsense babel and then started to pace back and forth. It seemed to ignore Diamond completely. She nodded and then slipped away. I watched as she headed up to the first floor, but when she got to the stairway, she quietly hid herself.
Meanwhile, the four girls set a small campfire and pulled out small pouches. They boiled the pouches in water. Each girl got a pouch and a small spoon, and when they opened them, steam and a unique fragrance came out. They were this world’s version of an MRE, dungeon rations.
“Do think we’ll find any treasure in here?” One of the girls asked as she ate her stew from her pouch.
“I hope so.” Another answered.
The girls chatted and gossiped for about an hour. It was all rather boring, and even as a dungeon that couldn’t sleep, I found myself struggling to keep my eyes open. Finally, the girls found their bedding, but one girl remained awake to watch. It wasn’t the leader, but a girl who would be very mid if it wasn’t for her pink hair and eyes. Her body wasn’t particularly fit, and her chest wasn’t particularly large. She was certainly not a beauty like Misty, and she didn’t even have the cuteness that Diamond could have when she wasn’t glaring. She held a large staff in one hand and a lantern in the other and she looked out into the darkness while holding up both.
A half-hour passed, and I wondered how Diamond could stay still for so long. When she finally started moving, I very nearly jumped out of my spectator mode. Silently climbing the stairway, she reached out and grabbed a pebble along the way.
Tic. Tit. Tut. The pebble bounced behind the woman guarding. She spun around instinctively.
“Who’s there?” She hissed.
Misty pounced, striking the woman in the back of the head while covering her mouth. The woman was instantly rendered unconscious. Barely a sound was made. She then pulled the woman down the stairway. Had one of the other women been awake, it’d have looked like some dark harbinger emerged from the darkness and pulled one of the girls back into hell.
She pulled some rope from her storage ring and then hog tied the girl. She then brought her back down to the boss’s room, dropping her on the floor in front of me. She gave me a grin that seemed filled with malice.
“What are you doing?” I asked, feeling a bit worried to see one of them so close to my home. “Why didn’t you kill them while they’re asleep?”
She made an annoyed huff. “Do I have to spell everything out for you? They’re worth more points alive. We can kill them whenever we want, so why not fuck with them first? The others will be panicked when they wake up in the morning, meanwhile…”
“What do we do with her?” I asked.
“Stop acting dense.” She rolled her eyes. “Misty already told me anyway. You stripped her clothing off right? I know you touched her.”
“Th-that! You can’t be serious.”
“Don’t give me such a shocked look. I saw how perverted you were before. I’m doing you a favor. You got a goblin on standby, so why don’t you have your fill?”