Getting a Grasp of the Status Quo — Part 3
The night came and went. It was morning. I’d woken up to a fresh new day with my head clear of all the confusion that’d come with my reincarnation. I promptly made my bed and activated Item Box. A sizable rift in space appeared right in front of me. It looked kind of like a bottomless void, but I paid it little heed and shoved my futon inside regardless.
Retrieving stuff from my item box was surprisingly simple. The skill came with a list that looked like something along the lines of a video game’s inventory system. It displayed all the items I had inside of it; it didn’t look like forgetting about the contents of my own inventory was going to be much of an issue. All I needed to do to retrieve a particular item was focus on it while reaching into the spatial distortion spawned by the skill. It was incredibly convenient.
With tidying up after myself out of the way, I decided to move on to figuring out breakfast; the module in the top right corner of the dungeon’s UI indicated it was probably time for me to eat. Like the item box’s display, the time and date module looked it belonged to some sort of video game—which made sense given that the dungeon had modeled my personalized UI off of some sort of game menu.
I opened the dungeon’s DP catalogue and began browsing for something I could turn into a quick bite. There were many options to choose from, almost too many. It took me a while to make up my mind, but I ended up settling on a slice of bread and some cooked bacon, which cost 15 and 30 DP respectively. I casually plopped myself down on top of the throne, the only chair in the room, as I started to eat.
Though I’d found myself a seat, I was by no means relaxed. In fact, I was feeling somewhat anxious. I needed to earn more DP. I’d only started with a thousand. My resources were sure to run dry if I just sat around, and I wasn’t exactly what I would call keen on starving to death.
There were a total of four different ways to get DP.
The first was to wait. The dungeon naturally generated DP as time passed. It seemed that the precise amount of DP gained depended on the dungeon’s size. My dungeon, which was apparently just the throne room for the time being, could only generate a single point once every three hours. The amount I passively gained was so negligible that I decided to rule out the passive gain as inconsequential until further notice.
The second method was also somewhat passive. The dungeon would generate DP while invaders were inside of it. Of course, another, more straight forward alternative was just to flat out kill the intruders. Any return resulting from either of these two methods depended on the intruder in question. More powerful enemies provided more DP.
The final method was allowing the dungeon to absorb corpses and food items. The method generated varying amounts of DP; it seemed the exact quantity depended on what the dungeon was fed.
This is silly. The dungeon kind of needs invaders to show up even though it doesn’t want them. It had to summon me in case they showed up, so they can’t bust up the core. But if they don’t show up, I’ll eventually run out of DP and die from starvation. Actually, on second thought, it isn’t really that silly. The dungeon’s an organism, a living thing. It needs to hunt and eat to survive. You know, survival of the fittest and all that.
I needed to get the dungeon up and running soon, but I wasn’t able to do it immediately. I needed to investigate the surrounding area so I could get a better grasp of the terrain. But more importantly, I first had to learn more about myself. I needed to figure out what it meant to be a demon lord.
The dungeon’s knowledge base had plenty of information. Biased information. It basically demonized all the potential invaders. I could see where it was coming from. Everything that attacked it was literally trying to kill it. But that said, it’s opinions weren’t very helpful.
“Alright, I guess I should probably move out.”
I shook my hands and brushed any remaining breadcrumbs off my body as I stood up and looked towards the room’s sole door. To be honest, I was a bit afraid of what I’d find on the other side, but there was no point in just sitting around and idling. I needed to open the door and examine my surroundings.
After psyching myself up and taking a few deep breaths, I made my way over to the door and slowly pushed it open.
I was immediately greeted by a facefull of cool air. I was in a rock-filled environment, a sort of cave. Massive crystalline stalactites hung from its ceiling. They were so large that they made my eyes go wide. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how long it took them to form. All I knew was that they just had to be absolutely ancient.
Beside one of the especially large stalactites was a crack in the roof, likely due to the influence of the crystal structure’s weight. A few rays of sunlight seeped through it. They bounced off the cave’s many translucent rocks and illuminated it with a dim, calming light.
One part of the cave was depressed; it was much lower than everything around it. Clear, clean water had gathered and filled the indented section. The water was so pure that I could see right through to the bottom.
The only thing that looked out of place was the door I’d come out of. It looked like something that’d suddenly appeared, whereas everything else had clearly formed over time through natural means.
Admittedly, I was totally blown away by the beautiful scenery laid out before me. But the cave was only just the beginning. There was still much more to come.
After confirming that there weren’t any other living things in my immediate vicinity, I started moving towards the cave’s exit, or rather, it’s entrance. My body was naturally drawn towards the bright, blinding luminescence that poured through it. My footsteps, though light, came back to me as heavy thuds. Every single step I took echoed through the cave.
My view of the surroundings opened up as I arrived at the cave’s mouth.
The first thing I saw was the sky. It shone a beautiful blue and extended as far as the eye could see. Below it was a luscious green forest. Its trees gently rustled as the wind blew by. A large river passed right through the forest’s center, glimmering in the sunlight as it brought life to the flora around it.
A majestic mountain range lay off in the distance. Its peaks rose into the clouds and towered over their surroundings. I could barely make it out through all the high standing mountains, but the horizon was the most beautiful I’d ever seen. Two brilliant shades of blue merged where the sea met the sky.
Large, floating islands were strewn across the great blue sky. One even featured a massive waterfall that hammered the earth below with a seemingly infinite source of fluid. The resulting mist converged the light that was shining onto it to form a stunning iridescent rainbow.
The world that unfolded before my eyes was baffling, magnificent.
It was more.
It was so gorgeous I found myself at a loss. I had no way to possibly put its beauty into words.
Tears began welling up in the corners of my eyes. Realizing that I might one day use my wings to soar through the painting before me had kicked my emotions into overdrive. I was so moved I wanted to prostrate myself before the dungeon core and revere it for robbing me of my humanity.
Speaking of, my wings were currently hidden out of sight. They’d gotten in the way when I tried to sleep, so I spent a good bit of time trying to figure out the best way to shrink or fold them. In the end, they somehow disappeared all on their own. It turned out that I could actually extend and retract them at will so long as I focused on them hard enough. Apparently, it was because they were constructed of magical energy. I was more used to being a human than I was an archdemon, so I’d kept them hidden away ever since.
It took me a while, but I eventually stopped staring blankly at the scenery and came to my senses. I needed to get back on task. Given that, I once again began surveying my surroundings. The first thing I checked was my altitude. It looked like I was halfway up a mountain. That was the only reason I could see as much as I could. The second thing I did was check whether or not there were any human settlements nearby. The answer to that was no. It seemed I was rather far from civilization.
Turning around, I found myself face to face with two things: the cave’s entrance and a giant, steep cliff. I wanted to get higher up the mountain, but I didn’t particularly feel like climbing straight up, so I began wandering around in search of a path that would lead me to my destination.