The Conquest’s Finale — Part 4
Editor(s): Speedphoenix, Joker
My newfound status as the dungeon’s master made the return trip much easier than our initial trek. The complete and utter absence of any incoming attacks allowed us to make it all the way back out on deck in about thirty minutes.
“I assume it went rather well, given that neither of you appear to be injured.” Carlotta greeted us as we stepped out the door.
“Super well,” I replied, casually. “Burnt half the guy to ash and smashed the other half to pieces.”
“Y’all’ve gotta be kidding me,” said Griffa. “I ain’t so sure I’m ready to accept that y’all did in something that strong all by yourselves…”
“I mean, he still was tough. Gave me a good run for my money.”
“Friend, you be saying it too casual-like for me to think ya really thought he was a toughie…” Griffa heaved a sigh.
“Oh yeah, speaking of the demon lord,” I said. “You should’ve told me he was totally deranged. I went into that expecting to fight something at least a bit more sane.”
“What I’m trying to say is that he was batshit insane.”
Griffa had told me a bit about the demon lord’s attack patterns, but only just a bit. The adventurers had been overwhelmed by his summoning magic the first time they challenged him, so they weren’t able to provide any information about the rest of his arsenal. I mean, I guess if their encounter was brief enough, then it’s possible he had no idea… but I really would’ve preferred knowing ahead of time.
“Right… that. Sorry, I was sure y’all was already in the know, ‘cause that’s just how demon lords are. They ain’t sane. They’re stupidly proud, filled with all the malice that plagues god’s green earth, and kooky as they get.”
“Wow, rude,” I said. I am not kooky.
“I-I ain’t trying to talk you down. I was just thinking that someone like y’all two would’ve already known about demon lords.”
The seemingly obvious conclusion that the adventurer explained led Nell to comment in a voice too quiet for anyone else to hear. “It’s true… Yuki really does have a few screws loose…”
Woooow. Talk about rude. I’m just going to pretend I didn’t hear that.
“Oh yeah, Carlotta, you know how you asked us to grab the dungeon core?” I turned to Nell’s boss. “Yeah uhhh… sorry. I think I accidentally blew it up or something while I was trying to kick the demon lord’s ass, so we should probably book it before the whole place collapses.”
Dungeons were guaranteed to begin falling apart in the case that the demon lord and core were both eliminated. That said, the process was gradual and happened over the course of a few days. The expanded space that the dungeon took up would slowly contract itself back to its original size as it was drained of its magical energy. Once the process completed, the dungeon’s monsters would also begin to die, as they needed its mana to thrive. Another few days was all it would take for the last of them to vanish for good.
It was, in fact, quite possible for me to blow up my newly acquired second dungeon on a whim. A press of a button was quite literally all I needed to destroy it in exchange for a rather generous amount of DP. Unsurprisingly, the main dungeon had no such feature. Only my newfound attachment could be converted in such a manner.
Though it may have appeared more realistic for the dungeon to be destroyed, I chose to refrain from doing so. Nuking it off the face of the earth certainly did provide a fair amount of cash, but doing so provided only a one time boost. Keeping it around was actually better in the long run, as it significantly boosted my passive income. All I’m really going to do is move it somewhere closer to the Wicked Forest once we get a bit further away.
Haunted as it may be, the fleet was still a fleet. It was capable of moving at about the same speed as any other similarly sized armada. While moving the dungeon was fairly time consuming, moving between dungeons was not. I had already installed a door that would take me straight home. Coming and going was something I could do at a moment’s notice.
In the end, I hadn’t actually learned much of anything about dungeons or demon lords. Still, I felt as if not bringing everyone along for the final fight was still the better choice. Both armour and shields were worth nothing in the face of dark magic, and an abundance of bodies only made for greater ease of body-blocking; there would have been less space for us to dodge the same number of projectiles. Things could’ve gotten real messy real quick if the others tagged along. I’m nearly a hundred percent sure someone would’ve ended up dying.
“If even the two of you were unable to retrieve it, then I suppose it must’ve been impossible for us to get our hands on it in the first place.” Carlotta shrugged off our failure.
I mean, kinda, not really? And yes, Nell, I am in fact aware that it was my fault. You can stop staring at me like that now. Kthx.
“Well uhh… I doubt this’ll actually make it up to you, but we at least did get our hands on something you’ll probably find a decent use for.” I popped open my inventory and presented her with a beautifully ornamented dagger featuring an intricate crest alongside its owner’s journal. “Here, check it out. Hopefully it’ll get you off my back about the whole core thing.”
“Oh?” Her gaze narrowed as she took both items from me and began scrutinizing them. “This crest belongs to a former family of dukes.”
“Yeah, it looks like he actually used to be an Allysian noble. He got super angry and turned into a demon lord after one of his buddies stabbed him in the back and completely ruined him. His journal’s got a bunch more details.”
Like the core, the dagger and journal were both situated atop the demon lord’s desk. Flipping through the last of the three items had informed me of everything that had led him to his current situation. The pages were crammed full of all sorts of raves and rants about his rage and remorse. Many of them were decorated with crimson stains, evidence that he’d been squeezing his hands hard enough to spill his own blood.
I had to read through a good bit in order to figure out exactly what had happened. Long story short, he’d been purged from noble society following a betrayal. An old friend had led him straight into a trap that led to both the loss of his status and the execution of his whole family. He alone was left alive and “exiled.” They dumped him in the middle of the ocean with no supplies, no crew, and a broken rudder. It was a death sentence, one that forced him to confront both starvation and despair.
The seas around here were rough and stormy, and he’d thought that his fate was to eventually sink into them. Alas, he was wrong. He had, by some unknown freak of fate, become a demon lord prior to his death.
He continued adding entries to his journal even following the transformation, one of which happened to mention and at least attempt to explain the incident. I pinned it as an attempt because he didn’t really manage to provide any details or insight. He more or less said that the space around him seemed to distort, and then he suddenly found himself sitting on top of the throne, which had appeared out of nowhere with a brand new room to contain it.
It seemed, at least to me, that he’d more or less described the dungeon’s birth, which did make sense given that the area we were currently situated in was much like the Wicked Forest in that it was magically dense. Magical particles were quite literally everywhere. Still… What are the chances of that exact sequence of events happening to a guy that happens to be every bit as spiteful as a demon lord should be? This whole situation is pretty miraculous if you ask me.
Becoming a draugr was, naturally, not something he’d done on his own accord. Rather, his dungeon had remade him in a form that would best bolster his chances of survival, like how mine had turned me into an archdemon.
Surprisingly, he managed to retain his ego for a fair bit even after transforming, but the way he went about writing his journal made it fairly obvious that his sanity slowly began to slip away. His handwriting had always been a bit messy, courtesy of his anger, but the change in his mental state led it to begin degenerating to the point of illegibility. His vocabulary became simpler, and his prose lost its sheen. Before long, he was writing nothing but short, grammatically incorrect sentences. And in the end, once he finished his transformation into a true, hate-fueled undying overlord that wished for nothing but mankind’s destruction, there was nothing but gibberish. I’m starting to see why he was so angry. I’d probably become wrath incarnate too, if someone killed my family. Hell, I’d probably spend every waking moment trying to take over and destroy the whole goddamn world.
Alright, enough of that. Think happy thoughts, Yuki, happy thoughts.
“This reminds me of an incident that occurred some time in the past,” said Carlotta. “There was a power struggle that clearly had more to it than was shown on the surface, but it was dismissed before its details could be meaningfully discerned.” She flipped through the journal and scanned a few more pages. “This certainly is a very nice find. I never expected the once-duke to become a demon lord.”
“If I were you, I’d try to knock the asshole that screwed him down a peg,” I said. “I’m totally down to help, so gimme a shout and I’ll pitch in however I can.”
As I’d “said” to the demon lord, I had every intention of doing whatever I could to avenge him, within reason. As such, there was little incentive for me not to at least try to tear the guy’s heart out.
“That’s an excellent idea,” said Carlotta. “I have no intention of letting him escape, now that we have clear evidence of his crimes.” She put both items away. “Griffa, this is something you lot will have to keep under wraps for the time being. We’ll prepare a bit of a bonus as incentive for you to keep your mouths closed.”
“Y’all don’t need to be so worried, ma’am,” he said. “We ain’t heard or seen anything. All we did was show you around the place, right guys?”
“Of course,” said Lurolle.
“Mate, my lips are staying shut as a gate. Dying of a mysterious illness is not on my bucket list, especially not right after making it out of a place like this in one piece.”
Wow, Reyus. Talk about an oddly specific example.
“Nothing like that would have happened either way…” said Carlotta, with an awkward smile. “As for you,” she said, as she turned to face me. “I doubt you’d do anything that works against our best interest so long as Nell is working for us, so I doubt I’ll even need to ask.”
“Of course not,” I said.
“Well, then I guess I’ll have to apologize for being rude enough to consider it.” She threw her arms up in an overly dramatic manner, which prompted laughs for knights and adventurers alike. “Whatever the case, now that everyone’s back and in one piece, I think it’s safe to say we’re done here.” She looked around at everyone before taking the lead with a sweep of the arm. “Men, it’s time to head home!”
The mission that we’d set out to accomplish was finally complete.