chapter 134 – back into the breach once more

It is a known phenomenon that not all monsters of the same species are created equal. From as far back as the Rending, when monsters had first appeared on the surface of Pangera, it had been noted that some monsters boasted far more individual strength than others of the same kind. The difference was so pronounced it could not be explained by a simple difference of levels.

Indeed, over the centuries, as all the sentient species of the surface delved into the Dungeon, eager to unlock its mysteries, it was discovered that some monsters are simply spawned stronger than others. Faster, more powerful, more intelligent and altogether more deadly.

When these monsters reached maturity they typically were able to display a leadership type quality amongst other monsters of their own kind, gathering together bands of followers, groups of monsters that grew in power rapidly due to the leadership and guidance they received.

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It is generally accepted that this is the reason such monsters came to be known amongst scholars as ‘Champions’. Mercenaries and freelance explorers were more crude and direct with their naming, out of fear these elite monsters caused in them as well as the strength they displayed, the common name for such monsters became ‘Brutes’.

It isn’t known why such monsters spawn, or how. They appear infrequently in normal times but numerous studies suggest that in times of great conflict or upheaval in the Dungeon the spawn rate of champions rises tremendously.

Some have claimed that Champion monsters can grow so powerful as to exert their controlling influence over monsters not of their own kind, forming armies of mixed monsters in the depths that rampage endlessly until they burn themselves out in endless conflict, or settle down and go into hiding.

Such claims are often rebuffed, as little evidence of such has reached the surface in the time of writing.

Excerpt from Chapter 4 – Dungeon Champions, from ‘The Dungeon Monsters, a primer’ by Hedger Oldfinger.


After breaking down the final bit of dirt the now familiar glow of the Dungeon assaults my eyes. The screaming of the monsters, the sound of claws tearing at flesh and pulse running through the mana veins on the walls, like the pulse of the very planet itself.

I almost missed this. Not quite, but almost.

Tiny certainly did though. Crouching in the narrow tunnel behind the sounds of vicious combat are like music in the ears of the ape. In an incredibly short amount of time he can no longer contain himself and shoves me forward out of the way, leaping into the Dungeon with a bloodthirsty roar!

Tiny is back in town!

I however, am crumpled on the floor with a rather heavy ape standing on my back.

[Get off me you goon!] I shout.

I don’t think he hears me, or if he does he clearly chooses to ignore me. Screeching with rage the giant ape hurls himself onto the centipedes, hounds, lizards and rabbits in his path, fists blazing with electricity.

We are not significantly deeper into the Dungeon here than the farm is but I can already see that the monsters spawning here are visibly more powerful, with some of the more dominant low level monsters appearing.

Even this little upgrade is enough to pump Tiny’s blood and wake his thirst for battle!

As the giant ape leaps into action the enemies rapidly crumple one by one as they are unable to resist those potent fists. Body after body is being blasted into the walls or smashed into the floor, never to rise again.

Hold on! Leave some for me!

I scramble to get my feet under me and hurl myself into the fight!

Ten minutes later we have cut down everything in our way in this section of tunnel and have settled down to munch on some Biomass.

[You happy now Tiny? You got have a decent fight finally] I say to my gorging pet.

He doesn’t even pause his eating but a frown creases his bat forehead as he ponders my question, turning the words over in his mind.

[No] he replies.

I’d figured as much. Although it was a little tougher than the farm it simply isn’t enough to satisfy the big guy. That’s ok though. We’ll keep digging deeper until we find something and start to level up once more.

Speaking of levels I actually gained one in this fight! Nobody was as surprised as me to finally get my level up from killing a thorn lizard but hey, there it is.

The little worker and JellyMaw have also leaped off their transportation (me) to stuff themselves once more, packing their miniature bodies with absurd amounts of food. I really have to name these two, thinking of them as ‘little worker’ and ‘JellyMaw’ is starting to feel a little rude.

Surely a bit more consideration wouldn’t hurt, right?

The worker is small and hyper active, full of energy and a complete pain in the gaster. Her name should represent her curious and exhausting self. I’ll call her Vibrant.

I’m not sure why, but the name just speaks to me.

Satisfied, I turn my attention to the ball of magical black rubber that is busy feeling its way around with small tentacles, trying to locate the next mouthful. So far the young JellyMaw has been fairly quiet, mind you I’m not sure if she can even talk back to me at this stage of her development.

I don’t have too much to go on.

Also, should I give a boy or girl name? Tiny is fairly gender neutral, maybe I should go down that road again.

What sort of name would fit a blind, tentacle monster of endless doom though? I’m fairly stumped. I may just have to pick something think sounds fitting and not worry too much about the meaning.

….. Crinis?

Eh, sure why not.

Sounds sort of Latiny, like most of the monster species names. I’ll roll with it.

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I’m not the sort to put too much thought into these things.

We find three cores amongst the remains and I take two, leaving one for Tiny to absorb. I make sure to give him a hard stare until he does, in fact, absorb the thing. He knows what’ll happen if he doesn’t!

Although it would have been troublesome, I could have taken these cores to the surface for skill grinding but I decided to straight up absorb them and return to the path of powering up my core. It feels nice to once again be on the path of strengthening oneself.

As we rummage around in what used to be the tail end of the escape tunnel I make something of a discovery.

It appears as if the loosely packed soil the colony had left behind was not enough of a deterrent to the Dungeon veins and they had remained inside the dirt we had left behind. It may have been spawning the odd monster inside the earth or something may have followed the trail of veins and dug its way through but certainly something has followed from below.

Right at the end of the old escape tunnel I find a hole that opens into a narrow passage that retraces the colonies steps back into the depths of the Dungeon.

….. Nards.

I was afraid of something like this. This means the human church isn’t only exposed to the small monster producing space we left behind but is potentially connected to the entire Dungeon!

[Tiny! Crinis! We have to get moving. It’s time to explore a little deeper]

Tiny is visibly pleased with the news but I don’t get a response from the small blob. Oh right I didn’t tell it what its name was.

I walk over to it at tap it with one leg.

[Climb on up. From now on your name will be Crinis. Pleased to have you on the team!]

The little ball wobbles with what I think might be joy before latching onto my leg and climbing up onto my back. Once Crinis is securely positioned I go to collect the little worker.

“From now on your name is Vibrant! Make sure to get the pheromone language mutation and then we can chat. Let’s go!”

Vibrant twitches back and forth with nervous energy as her eyes focus on me for a long moment, then she leaps up into her normal position and we descend further into the Dungeon.

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