Saga of the Soul Dungeon – 1.2 – Minor Evolutions

“If a man cannot buy his freedom, then all the world’s wealth shall be as a grain of sand by the sea”

-Istan Triant, after the great slave revolt of 1540 AC

Caden assessed his options. Without any mana to work with he was forced to admit they were more limited that he would like, other than spending AP. There were two skills that he had seen after his research that he did want to buy. The problem was that he was fairly certain that the man had some idea of his skills from analysis spells. That made everything harder and, for now, he decided to hold off on buying anything. However, that did not mean he couldn’t approach the situation as intelligently as possible. The first thing he tried to do was stop everything that he was doing by instinct. He stopped the flow of mana into him after a few minutes of trying. It felt very strange, almost akin to stopping in the middle of going pee. It felt natural to draw in mana continuously.

The mage perk up when he did this. Caden decided that since he could not understand the man he needed to give him a name. He was fairly certain he was going to call the man That Annoying Mage, or Tam for short.

Tam looked surprised, excited, and cast more spells into the air and examined Caden even closer. His dungeon half was even more agitated than before, if that was possible. He tried to start and stop the mana flow over and over again during the next few minutes. It was one of the few things that he was capable of doing, so he was going to learn to do it on command. Eventually, after an hour or two of practice, he could do it with a thought; it didn’t even feel all that uncomfortable anymore.

Now that he could turn it on and off reliably, he wanted to see if he could direct it and make it more efficient. The skills he could purchase had suggested that it was possible to resist mana drain, as well as harvest mana more efficiently. If he wanted to have any mana at all to work with then he would need one or both of those to happen. He decided that he would practice harvesting mana for as long as the man was in the room. Any time he wasn’t he was going to see if he could resist the mana drain.

—-

Not much had changed since he started work on controlling the mana flow. Tam had left a few times and come back. The lights on the ceiling would dim, presumably for the night, and then they would brighten a few minutes before he came back in the morning. The most exciting thing that had happened was Tam appearing with a chair and a book, actually more of a tome. It was thick, heavy, and handwritten with drawings that made zero sense to him. Shortly after sitting to read, as Tam was mumbling to himself and occasionally glancing up at Caden, he cast a spell.

From then on, this summed up all of Tam’s daily activity. He quickly grew used to the stiff sound of the pages rustling as they turned in Tam’s fingers. Tam’s breath, softly in and out, filled the room with a faint sound. The sound of Tam’s feet on the stone heralded his arrival, and followed his exit. Even the sound of his clothes softly swishing and sliding over skin made a noticeable sound. Without Tam in the room Caden found himself consigned to silence. Humans are never fully silent. The pulsing rush of blood in their veins, the high pitched sound the eardrums manufacture to fill the silence of a room; these were gone. Caden had no breath, he had no pulse, no stomach gurgling, or muscles tensing. In their absence he could hear the faintest of sounds, but the silence of isolation was almost maddening. So he had turned inward, focusing as much as possible on working.

When Tam was present Caden continued trying to pull mana from Tam’s direction. Tam constantly leaked mana into the air around him, though he had no idea why. Was it because Tam was a spell-caster, or did all living things do this? Since Tam was the only living thing around, it was impossible for him to say. Every time Tam cast a spell at him, he could see the structure. It was somewhat like looking at layered glowing glass, a translucent indefinite mess. These spells wrapped around Caden and delved into his crystal. He carefully examined what Tam was doing, even as he tried to pull the spells apart. The spells leaked some mana as they functioned, and dissolved into an even larger amount when they finally collapsed. By the end of the day when Tam went off, presumably to sleep, Caden had improved slightly. He could now exclude a tiny portion of the area around him from drawing mana. He had a long way to go before he could actually focus his mana feeding, but the fact that he had made any progress was encouraging.

He didn’t seem to need any sleep, an ability he would have found immensely useful in his old life, especially in college. He was no longer tired physically or mentally. Caden was not sure if he could even feel that way any more. He was sad about losing dreaming though, but at least he could stay awake and keep working. The constant pull of the mana draining down and out actually felt a lot like his own mana absorption, just in reverse. He knew how to turn that on and off so he tried doing that to the mana draining out of him. It didn’t seem to change anything, but he would need to practice a lot before he knew if he was going about it in the right way. This, he knew, could take some time.

It did. Caden spent days just focusing on this routine. Tam continued to show up and do… whatever it was he was doing. He considered trying to contact Tam by turning his mana absorption on and off in sequence, like doing the numbers, 1, 2, 3, etc… However, he decided that was a bad idea for the moment. He didn’t speak the language, so even if he made Tam realize he was intelligent they would not be able to communicate. Also Tam might get even more fascinated and or paranoid about Caden and change up his routine, which would make his escape even harder.

His skill with mana absorption kept getting better. After a few days he had finally gotten to the point where he could exclude one third of the room and while still drawing from the rest. As he got to that point he got a pop-up.

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Your skill Mana Absorption I has changed and improved through your efforts. It is now:

Directed Mana Absorption I

Raw mana within your aura can be drawn into your core to increase your available mana. You can choose ro focus on the most mana rich areas to increase your efficiency.

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You have been given a new title!

Skill Evolution

You have altered a skill’s capabilities beyond normal through concerted effort. Use it to acquire your dreams, or just richer mana.

+100 Ability Points

Slightly easier to acquire merged or improved skills

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Huh, that was not actually what Caden was expecting. He had expected to simply level up in his Mana Absorption skill. This meant that there was a different way to level it up. Actually… now that he thought about it, it was probably simply speed. He had tried to be more efficient in where he got the mana from, but drawing in mana faster would probably have worked just as well, if not better. Oh well. For the moment, his ignorance appeared to have worked out in his favor.

Now that he had this skill he decided he would try again, but only when Tam took one of his breaks. For now he did not try to change anything about his focus and just kept absorbing from Tam’s side of the room. he needed to work on his speed anyway.

As Tam continued about his routine he tried pulling the mana into himself faster. Caden felt it improve almost immediately; apparently he had not been using his maximum speed this entire time, either that or the new skill he got improved his speed. However, since his speed had not improved until he focused on it, Caden guessed that it was just his own fault for overlooking it.

Caden endured Tam as he poked and prodded at the crystal with magic in reaction to his sudden increased performance. Since Tam already knew that something had changed he decided to go for broke and started focusing his mana drain more.

The difference the skill made was amazing. He had pretty much just been teaching himself, fumbling about trying to master a skill on his own. Now directing his focus was so much simpler. It was like techniques and practice had been downloaded into his head, or well… crystal. It still was not perfect, but he could focus his entire drain onto a sphere no more than a foot wide.

Tam smiled in excitement as he put the book on the ground and stood up. He focused his entire attention on Caden and cast more spells. This time as he focused all his skill onto the spell something new happened. All seemed to be as normal at first, but when the spell ended he could feel the sudden influx of mana. He called up his status and was shocked. He had two mana.

The dungeon part of Caden shouted about summoning a monster, but Caden immediately tried expanding his aura. Since he had mana to power it, it felt effortless, easy. It could even expand in any direction selectively. He didn’t know how much he would be able to expand so he tried to work quickly, pouring the power in as fast as he could. He really did not want Tam to notice what he was doing, so he expanded down around the stand, trying to keep his aura as thin in diameter as possible. He quickly covered the entire stand, including the white crystal at the bottom, and then proceeded into the floor.

He could expand into the stone almost as easily as the air, but he could feel a distinct difference. The mana in the stone felt sluggish and thick. Caden decided he would focus on that later, and kept expanding his aura. He was actually pleasantly surprised with how far his aura was growing with the mana. He supposed it made sense since dungeons are often massive constructions in fantasy, but considering he knew nothing about how it actually worked in this world, it was nice to be getting so much for relatively little. Eventually he expanded a small foot wide corridor of his aura through the stone of the floor to the back wall. There he expanded his influence as much as he could without actually touching the surface of the wall. His mana ran out shortly after he expanded to the wall, but he did manage to cover an area behind the wall about three feet across.

As far as he could tell, Tam had not noticed anything. Caden felt slightly different. He could feel that the stream of mana entering him was slightly more than before, even when he was focusing his absorption elsewhere. It looked like there was some passive element to the absorption so long as he was letting mana in at all.

Tam looked like he was going to continue his routine, so he decided he would keep expanding his aura as spells ended. He briefly considered trying to save up mana to level up but decided it was a bad idea. His mana was still being absorbed, after all, and even if it wasn’t he was reasonably sure that the diagnostic spells Tam was casting on him would notice if he had any mana. He was trying really hard to look at the spells that Tam was casting, and then when it burst he frantically expanded his aura with the spent mana. By the end of the day Caden had covered the entire back wall. It had started getting difficult to expand his aura farther up though. He thought that perhaps his aura was becoming too stretched out to be efficient, so he decided that tomorrow he was going to expand his aura under the floor instead.

Tam went off to bed, and the lights in the room faded to a dull glow. Caden’s attempts to halt the mana flowing out of him had so far had no results, so he decided he needed to try a different approach. This time he decided to just watch for a while. He could actually see the outside of the white crystal very well now that it was in his aura, but he still had a hard time seeing inside. He knew that his mana was trapped inside, but that was it. He studied the runes on the stand. They still didn’t mean anything to him, but he could see his mana flowing through the metal towards the crystal. Actually Caden could see his mana flowing around something inside the metal. It was like invisible hands were guiding the mana down and away from him.

Caden couldn’t see whatever this was, but he was fairly certain he could learn more. There was mana passively moving towards him from his aura conduit through the floor. He tried to condense the mana flow around the stand and he could suddenly see gaps. The mana swirled like fog flowing around glass. He could not get very good detail, but the shapes of the mana were gradually becoming clearer as he focused on them.

He traced the invisible shapes upward until he reached the top of the stand. There he could see that they actually reached into his crystal and pulled power right out of where his mana was stored. Caden’s other half was outraged at this violation, but Caden ignored it as usual. He didn’t know how much this knowledge would help, but at least now he knew right where to start.

Saga of the Soul Dungeon – 1.1

Saga of the Soul Dungeon – 1.3

Please feel free to comment.
There are what I am always most interested in hearing:
1. What promises have I made to the reader?
2. What do you think is going to happen?
3. What confuses you?
4. What do you like, so that I can be sure not to edit it out?
5. Misc issues in grammar, spelling, etc…

And of course, general discussion about everything else.

Comments on the series as a whole may be placed on the Table of Contents, spoilers are allowed there.

Saga of the Soul Dungeon – 1.1 – An Unexpected Death

Soul Dungeon Core.jpg

I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.”

-Leonardo da Vinci

Death is never the end. Though the Gods are reluctant to provide details, even we mortals can perceive the soul. That uncertainty adds a certain poignancy and joy to the life we do live.”

-Funeral speech attributed to Theins the Cleric

Caden was staring down at his own body and felt conflicted. Certainly there was the usual denial, anger, disbelief, and the other disparate emotions of a newly displaced soul, but there was also a feeling that the moment was almost tawdry, pedantic. It felt so cliché. The scene of the scattered car wreckage and the distant sound of sirens approaching could have come from a bad movie, especially if it featured a person looking down at their own corpse. The world started to fade away and become bright light. And it was in this moment that the cliché was disrupted. Caden felt himself yanked sideways through the world, moving in a direction hitherto unknown, and suddenly saw the inside and outside of the car, his body, and the concrete simultaneously. Everything jumbled together with other impossible images and then reality snapped back into place.

He found himself in a room carved directly into stone. The room was fairly simple, with a single archway that lead out into a hallway that then became a corner and turned abruptly out of sight. The stone itself was mostly grey and tan, though a few stray veins of something marble-ish ran through it. His emotions were dulled; he was curiously detached, and he simply existed and observed. There was no concern; there was no curiosity. Both of these emotions would normally be appropriate, as he was not where, or what, he thought he would be after dying. Not to mention the issue of dying should have caused some small emotion all on its own. He thought these things, noted them, and continued on in perfect apathy.

Caden found he could see in all directions simultaneously, though the view below him was mostly blocked by the object he was resting on. He was now a clear red gem. He could not actually see himself, but red stained shadows pooled beneath him like blood.

The room contained other items that ought to have attracted his interest. Most notable were the balls of light floating just below the ceiling; they gave off a soft warm glow. A close second was the presence of another crystal. This crystal was black and roughly the size of a man’s heart. The surface of the crystal was translucent, which hinted at inky depths. The crystal was placed on a stand. The stand was about waist high on a man and was composed of two hollow circles linked by a helix. One circle rested on the ground and the black crystal was held aloft by the other. Above the circle on the ground, a milky white crystal glowed dully and was held in place by metal prongs. The metal of the stand reminded him of silver or stainless steel, though the faintly glowing writing that spanned the outside of the helix was decidedly not normal.

Time had no meaning for him in his current state, and a timeless moment later a man entered the room. If Caden had been capable of expressing an emotion, he would have been surprised. He had, correctly, overturned his entire world view and decided that he was here due to magic. This would normally have been far more difficult, but lack of emotion does have some benefits for pure rational thought. Caden had subconsciously expected the standard mighty wizard look: long white hair and beard, possibly glasses, an ancient face like a crumpled brown bag, robes, a gnarled wooden staff, a pointed hat, etc… What he got was far more mundane and practical.

The man was wrinkled, but it was the wear and tear of someone who had spent many days braving the elements; wrinkles were carved into the face as water shapes stone. He was balding, with neatly trimmed salt and pepper hair forming a half circle near the level of his ears, more salt than pepper. His nose was thin, short, and perfectly straight above teeth like polished ivory. The man wore brown leather boots, with pants and a long shirt both the same shade of whitish tan. His hips sported a leather belt studded with various pockets and pouches across the front.

The first thing the man did was examine him. He moved his hands and spoke words. As far as Caden could tell nothing happened, but the man’s eyebrows rose and he smiled broadly while nodding his head. He repeated more gestures and incantations several times, each time smiling afterwards. Finally he looked between Caden’s crystal and the black crystal on the stand. With a smile he rubbed his hands together and took a piece of chalk from a pouch at his waist.

First the man drew a circle around the perimeter of the entire room. He then drew two more circles, a large one and a smaller one. Each circle touched both the outer edge of the circle around the room directly across from one another, and each other. Within the larger inner circle he drew two new circles. These circles did not touch each other and were several feet apart. Caden, along with the stand that held him, was placed in the center of one circle, and in the other the man placed the black crystal on its stand. Between the two circles the man wrote out runes in a straight line from the edge of one circle to the edge of the other. Off that line the man drew branches of runes in many different shapes. Sometimes just another simple line, but sometimes these lines branched or had other shapes; there were spirals, zigzags, and curving lines of text. Additional runes were placed at the perimeter of all of the circles, though these were less complex and did not cover the entire perimeter.

Once all the runes were drawn the man carefully checked that each one was correct. Afterwards he did the same thing again. He made no corrections, but moved with glacial slowness, not risking any errors. Once he had finally finished he carefully moved until he stood in the center of the smaller inner circle. With a few gestures of his right hand, the chalk around the room lit up with light. He kept his right hand in place and carefully moved his left into a pouch on his waist. He emerged with a handful of silvery dust and tossed it into the air. The dust drifted down towards the chalk and stopped an inch above the ground, forming the runes and circles in the air. With a gesture of his left hand the chalk flashed and vanished.

The man started to gesture with both hands and spoke firmly and clearly. The silvery runes grew steadily brighter as the man continued. Eventually the light grew harsh and blindingly bright as the runes blazed with contained power. Caden, however, missed much of this. As the chanted words progressed he found his view more and more constrained. He found himself focusing on the black crystal with inhuman intensity. The black shape grew before him. First it was like a dark moon, then a black world beneath him, then like a deep cave, and finally all he saw was darkness.

When Caden awoke his mind was functioning properly once more, although he had some doubts about that. Mainly because the first thing he saw was a few pop-ups that looked like this:

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Your status has changed!

Status

Name: N/A

Type: Dungeon Core – Soul Hybrid

Level: 1

Crystal Status: 100% – Undamaged

Status Effects: Mana Drain

Available Mana: 0/25

Passive Mana Generation: 10/Day

Next level: 15 Mana Cost

Subsections Available: 1

Ability Points: 100

Skills: Mana Absorption I,

Limited Omniscience (Dungeon)

Soul Mana I

Dungeon Aura Expansion I

Titles: None

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You have been given new titles!

Reborn Soul

Your soul was captured just after death and reborn into something new. You are aware of yourself as a soul in a way few people ever are. Take this new chance and make the most of it.

+250 Ability Points

Learn and level up soul related skills in half the time

First of its Kind

You are the first of your kind, a dungeon with a mortal soul, and are potentially the progenitor of a whole new existence. The weight of the world rests on your shoulders, but you have unlimited potential.

+500 Ability Points

Learn the first level of any skill in half the time

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New Quest Obtained!

Freedom or Dominion

You are being held captive. Some of your abilities are removed. Escape or kill your captor to gain your abilities back. Exceptional accomplishments in this task can earn greater rewards.

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What?

Caden’s mind was a tumultuous blend of emotions, and the pop-ups were not helping. He was first confronted with his recent experience of becoming post-mortal.

He died! And… he was reborn… sort-of. And he thought that he might be in a game, or a place that functioned like one. And he was going to rip the throat out of this petty magician that dares to.. wait. That was not entirely his thought.

Caden could feel that he was no longer alone within his own mind. He shared his crystalline existence with something other. It was darker and more primal, a creature of urges and instinct rather than intellect. By comparison anyway, as humans were not exactly shining examples of intellect triumphing over instinct themselves. He could feel the impulses of this other half, and how it was tied irrevocably into his own mind.

Caden’s other half resented being trapped. It wanted to expand and protect itself, to bury itself in tunnels deep within the earth. Most of all it wanted to lash out at the man that posed a danger by being too close. TOO CLOSE!

He marshaled his thoughts, trying to remain calm and tamp down the raving of his other half. He focused on what was happening now. He still had sight in every direction, but he could now feel and see everything within a few feet. Mostly he was focused on was the man (too close), who was, in turn, examining him with great interest. Caden was now also keenly aware of himself. Unlike before he could see himself from inside and out. He was now a purple crystal, more of a gem really, a large oval with dozens of small facets. His lower end was firmly held by the same stand the black crystal had been in before.

Caden could see even more. He could see faint movements of currents in the air. And contained within the air he could see… something. He did not know what to call it, but his other half’s instincts recognized it with hunger as power. This power was everywhere, it gleamed faintly in the air, and he could see it slowly swirling inwards toward him. From there it condensed into a stream that entered into his core. Then, however, it was pulled away and diverted down into the helix of the stand were it followed the runes along its structure until it was stored in the white crystal below. Caden’s other half wanted to rave and rant about this as well, but he refused to listen; his attention had already been caught by something else.

The old man had made a few gestures accompanied by words. Unlike before, he could see something radically different. As the man’s hands moved, traceries of power formed into a web. The web finished and sank into his crystal, leaving a filament of power that connected back to the man. The man squinted slightly, and his eyes went back and forth while he looked unfocused. If Caden had to guess, the man was reading something, probably something that was similar to the pop-ups he had gotten earlier.

He had been trying not to think about that. He was a dungeon, or rather a hybrid dungeon, and he was dead. Of course, that was not exactly true. Caden had died. He found his mind was rather focused on this. The idea of death tended to periodically occupy the thoughts of anyone capable of understanding what that would mean. And now he found himself past that. This was quite a shift. He was not dead but rather undead, formerly dead, not as dead as he used to be, the dungeon formerly known as dead. He tried to shake his head and nothing happened. It was the strangest feeling he had ever encountered, because he felt like something should have moved but nothing had changed at all. He hoped that he was not going to deal with phantom limbs.

Focus, focus. He was getting distracted, and he was letting himself because he was avoiding the suddenly massive issues facing him. He died. His former life was over. A lot of the time characters in books and movies got transported somewhere else and whined and moped about how much they wanted to go home. That was not an option for Caden; the going home part, he could moan and whine all he liked for all the good it would do him. He was dead. He repeated that in his head, because while he understood that on an intellectual level it was hard to convince some remaining part of himself of that truth. His friends were going to mourn, his parents and family cry over a grave which would contain what remained of his flesh after organ donation (assuming the crash left donation still feasible). His old life was over.

He was something else now. From what he could tell his soul was more or less the same, which was a relief, but the rest of his world was vastly different. He was in a world with magic, and one styled like a game at that. There were infinite possible worlds, and Caden supposed he should be grateful he landed in one that was within his ability to comprehend at all, but it was beyond merely strange. He was a dungeon… sort-of. He was a crystal. The heart of a dungeon to be, even if all that belonged to him for now were a few feet in every direction. He could feel the intense possessiveness of his dungeon soul; it might not have much but it was his.

Caden finally read through the pop-ups now that he had calmed down somewhat. The mana drain status explained why he could see that energy passing through him as he consumed it, as well as what the energy was. He was obviously being kept at zero mana so he could pose no threat to the man studying him and keeping him captive. The mana that was siphoned off of him seemed insignificant compared to the total amount around, especially around the mage, so he assumed that the man was not trying to use him as some kind of mana battery.

However, he still didn’t understand the mage as he spoke. He had been half hoping that he would gain that knowledge from the dungeon core, but no such luck. He guessed he had better get familiar with himself. He focused on each of his abilities.

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Mana Absorption I

Raw mana within your aura can be drawn into your core to increase your available mana.

Limited Omniscience (Dungeon)

You can see, hear, and feel everything within your aura. Living entities and dense mana sources can block your senses.

Soul Mana I

Unlike any other dungeon, you have a mortal soul. Mortal souls naturally create raw mana. This mana flows into your available mana.

Dungeon Aura Expansion I

You may convert any available mana to expand your area of influence (aura).

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Right, well that all actually seemed straight forward. He could draw in or create mana and then store it, and then he could use it to expand his influence, known as aura. He also had some perks because he was both unique and reborn. He assumed he needed to level before he could do anything else, but that was not going to happen as long as he had no mana. He needed to find a way to fix that.

Caden focused on his ability points and a massive array of purchasable options appeared. They were neatly organized and he could even search in various ways. His dungeon half lacked the wherewithal. and or interest. to understand anything he was doing, so he assumed it would just do this kind of thing on instinct. Most of the options were plants and animals, some both, he could learn to create, but since none of the associated mana costs were zero (no surprise there), he would need to do something else before he tried getting any summons. He searched through the list, finding what he could on mana. It looked like he could not buy an increase for any of his current skills, or if he could that option was not available yet, so there was no help from that.

There were a few skills that looked promising. There was a skill that resisted magic with the dungeon core as its target, or which altered its immediate area. Another would allow him to resist magical drains of any kind within his area of influence, and from the description it looked like it would benefit monsters in his dungeon to a lesser extent. Many others allowed him to get far more mana under certain conditions, like the death of his own monsters or other creatures, but would not be helpful now.

Since he had special affinity with souls he looked up anything with that too. There was not very many options for that available. He was not sure if that was because he was not high enough level or skill to get them, or simply because he was the first dungeon who had a soul that could use them. There were some options for undead creatures using the souls of killed adventurers. Another option used the death of creatures to generate soul energy, though he had no idea what he would even use that for. The only remotely currently useful option he saw was for some kind of soul perception, it could more accurately see the power of creatures and people. Mostly he was looking for ideas of what was possible.

The titles that Caden received had actually provided him with vital information. One skill said that he would gain the first level of skills easier. That meant that he did not have to purchase skills in order to learn them. He could potentially learn any of the skills that were available for purchase, which was good because most of them were not cheap and he did not want to waste his Ability Points. Most of the ones he had looked at could not even be purchased yet. He wondered if certain skills could only be purchased though. At the moment he had no idea how many points he would get each level. If he got 100 per level then they were rare enough that he would want to conserve them. He could end up getting a lot more, or a lot less. He had no way of knowing. So long as he was not in any actual immediate danger, he was not going to waste his resources. He wasn’t just going to sit around though. He didn’t want to kill the old man like his alter ego demanded, but he sure as hell was going to escape.

Arc 1 – (Re)born In Captivity

Saga of the Soul Dungeon – 1.2

Please feel free to comment, I love them!
There are what I am always most interested in hearing:
1. What promises have I made to the reader?
2. What do you think is going to happen?
3. What confuses you?
4. What do you like, so that I can be sure not to edit it out?
5. Misc issues in grammar, spelling, etc…

And of course, general discussion about everything else.

Comments on the series as a whole may be placed on the Table of Contents, spoilers are allowed there.

Arc 1 – (Re)born In Captivity

“So many worlds, so much to do, so little done, such things to be.”

-Alfred Lord Tennyson

“As the gods cast us from paradise, more still remain.

And when, with balanced hearts, men come forth again,

Then shall they return, eternity to claim.”

-From The Mourner’s Lament – Anonymous

Arc 1 – (Re)born In Captivity

“’The exact nature of dungeons is still unknown, though they can be defined by common shared characteristics. Various legends account for their origins in different ways. Most involve at least one of the three celestials.

One of the earliest accounts is from the Voice of Heaven an ancient text of the Treatic. The relevant text begins when mankind is evicted from paradise into a cold and desolate world by Yamash, for failing to keep the world in balance.

“For behold darkness passed over the face of Yamash at the suffering of men but he could not relent, for even as they had embraced chaos or order, thus should men suffer contrition.”

He charged his children Otga and Shurum to govern the new world. Each would have complete dominion over the world for a time, and at others, they would share it. Thus mankind would be placed in a world constantly shifting between order and chaos, and only find respite when those powers were in balance. As one of his final acts, Yamash created dungeons. In this text dungeons were described as a balancer, and man would struggle and achieve rewards or death in proportion to the risks taken.

Since other texts refer to dungeons creation and existence in different contexts, no definitive answer as to their nature can be specified. However here are a few traits of dungeons that are nearly universal:

One, dungeons are governed by a core. In the majority of dungeons, the core is black. Removing the core of a dungeon will cause the dungeon to collapse and eventually to be fully destroyed.

Two, dungeons will not allow anyone to get close to their core. Oddly, a dungeon’s core is almost always accessible. Though any intruder can and ought to expect the core to be exceptionally well defended for even an undeveloped dungeon.

Three, dungeons provide resources. The exact nature of the resources provided varies wildly from dungeon to dungeon, but in the main dungeon areas slaying beasts, avoiding traps, and solving puzzles will result in rewards from the dungeon. These rewards are colloquially known as “loot.”

Four, upon founding a dungeon a signal is produced. Human mages and scholars have attempted to understand, or even perceive, this signal for many years, but have so far had no success. However, Adar, or at least those who are sent into human society, seem to be universally capable of receiving and locating the signal. Due to the inherent nature of the connection between Adar and dungeons, they will be discussed later within chapters 4 and 5.

Five, dungeons start underground. While there are a few exceptional dungeons that eventually create a presence on the surface in some form, all dungeons start beneath the surface. Indeed, most dungeons stay beneath the surface during their entire development. Those few which are an exception, still surround their core with layers of stone.

Six, dungeons produce life which is exceptionally mana rich. Most organisms produced by a dungeon cannot be removed without the death of the organism. Occasionally, however, creatures with more stable variants escape, breed, and introduce an entirely new form of life into the world. Speculation on how this may have led to various hyper focused ecosystems is discussed later in the text, see chapter 7.”

-From the introduction of The Origin, Nature, and Habits of Dungeons

Saga of the Soul Dungeon – 1.1 – An Unexpected Death