What do you mean? I asked the voice.
Looking around, I couldn’t see or sense him. Actually, I felt rather odd and sluggish. Was it because I was here or because I was dead?
The strange voice didn’t answer me. I was left waiting in silence, surrounded by that darkness for who knew how many hours? All I could think about was how I left Nanya, Shanteya, and Ayuseya to die like that. I did nothing for them, absolutely nothing…
It’s my fault… It’s my fault… I kept telling myself while crying.
I knew I wasn’t the one who cut them, who stabbed them, who injured them, but I believed that somehow, for some reason, I was the only one at fault. There was something wrong with me that prevented me from doing the best I could or maybe because I didn’t try to use any of the other technologies in my world. For a moment, even using thermonuclear bombs felt like a great idea. After all, who cared if I destroyed the entire area and made it uninhabitable for who knew how many decades? It didn’t really matter if the girls and I could have survived afterwards. Those were details.
It took me a while to push that thought out of my mind. It sounded so tempting, but the cost would have been too great. I wasn’t a god to cast down his judgment upon this land, and there was nothing to guarantee my own survival if I launched something like that on top of Dankyun’s head. If the shock wave or heat didn’t kill me, then surely the radiation would have.
Maybe my mistake was not praying to a god. After all, I knew reincarnation was real and some strange entity did come down from the heavens to pull my soul away from my previous world. However, who could tell me that I was praying to the right god? Maybe every universe had its own God and there was an even bigger one governing a multitude of universes?
These thoughts sounded weird, but the only thing that calmed down my mind in regard to these thoughts was just one simple idea: could it have been possible that the gods and goddesses worshiped by the mortal people of this world were actually something akin to a godlike species working under the order of the big God of the universe with the single purpose of evolving them? It was a good idea to believe in, something I could work with.
Honestly, for the past hours I spent in that darkness, I thought of so many things that I lost track of them. In the end, it didn’t help me forget about my death and that of Ayuseya, Shanteya, and Nanya.
Thinking about the fact that I would never be able to embrace them, that I would never be able to hear their voice and see them next to me, stabbed my heart with lances soaked in venom. It hurt… It really really hurt, and there was nothing I or anyone else could do.
Is this my curse? I asked myself.
Time passed once more…
Hours… Days… Weeks? I had lost track of how much time came to pass.
AH! FINALLY! somebody shouted from behind me.
I blinked surprised and turned around. A strange individual appeared before me. He was a bit taller than me, with black eyes and short cut gray hair. The clothes he wore appeared to be a pair of dark-gray linen pants with black leather pads, and a black leather jacket with a white silk shirt underneath. He wore metal boots like those belonging to a knight, and a pair of metallic armguards. As for age, he was around 40 something in human terms, but he looked just like the other darkness manifestations, meaning there wasn’t even a spec of color on him, a cut-out from a black-and-white movie.
Who… Who are you? I asked him.
Me? I forgot my name, but that doesn’t matter. You really pissed off those guys back there. Took me a while to subjugate them and stop them from attacking you right now. Although they were all a bunch of idiots, so maybe that was going to happen anyway. he sighed and pointed back.
What? Who are you talking about? What do you mean ‘subjugate’? I asked him.
Yeah… You are confused. Should I start from the moment you were pulled back here? he asked me.
You mean from when I died? I asked raising an eyebrow.
Gravely injured, yes… Dead? Not so much. he crossed his arms and shook his head.
What? Wait… then? What happened to me? What’s happening outside? I asked looking at him and clenching my fists.
Oh? There? Sort of slowed down time? he shrugged.
Slowed down time? I asked furrowing my brow.
Hm, maybe I expressed myself in a bad way. he said rubbing his chin Well, I’m just going to explain this to you. Technically speaking, inside this place, we can think and speak at an incredible speed. Everything that happened to you from the moment you thought you had died until now happened in exactly 0.002348 seconds of outside time. he explained, but it sounded absurd.
You mean to say that time moves much slower for me… us then it does for everyone outside? Then… I stopped and looked down.
Yes, technically speaking, Shanteya, Nanya, Ayuseya, and you are still alive, but not for long. We probably have around 2594 years to spend here before all of us are completely dead. So, no rush! he told me with a smile.
2594 years? I said looking at him with big eyes.
I certainly didn’t want to spend so much time in here and just wait for our deaths. I had to get outside and somehow, someway kill Dankyun and save the girls. But, was it possible? No matter what strategy I thought off before, nothing seemed to work against that monster. It was frustrating and annoying, but I still believed it wasn’t impossible. Maybe I just wasn’t smart enough.
Talk then… I told him and for the moment decided to listen to what this guy had to say.
If he was lying or not about that insane amount of years, there was only one way I could verify it, but doing nothing and just letting time pass by like that wasn’t my style of playing.
In that case, I’m going to start by explaining this state of ours. First of all! You already know that time for us runs much faster than it does for the outside world. To be more precise, 2594 years in our perception of time is the equivalent of 172 seconds of outside time. Meaning that in 2 minutes and 52 seconds, we and the girls are dead. Of course, if Dankyun doesn’t give the final blow in the next few seconds. However, because of this difference, we actually have 2594 years to talk about things.
OK, so far I can follow you. Somehow… I told him.
Good! That’s why I like you! None of the idiotic dungeons newly born in this world understand the concept of different perception in regard to linear time! he said with a laugh.
What do you mean newly born? I asked.
Let me finish what I started and then I’ll tell you. he showed me his palm.
Sorry… I apologized.
Now then. Continuing from where I left off, this state is achieved through a great deal and effort by focusing all the processing power into the cognitive ability of this body. In other words, you lose function over everything else outside this body, including breathing and senses of any kind just to have this moment of extreme concentration. If prolonged, this state does ultimately lead to death or great amounts of suffering. We are far from that though. he waved his hand in front of him This state doesn’t have any name, but it isn’t willingly achieved. The only reason you could do it was because I made it possible. It did cost us the death of some of the lower minds inside the darkness, but their sacrifice was well worth it. Anyway, I am… Well, I forgot my name, but I know that I am what the oldest dungeons on this planet call a Primordial Dungeon. Also known as one of the First Dungeons. Long story short, the second generation of dungeons born on this planet included the Godlike as well as the other types of dungeons. Honestly speaking, I don’t believe any Primordial Dungeons are left alive at this moment. he scratched the back of his head.
Does this mean I can change my race from Godlike to Primordial now? I asked him.
No. The Godlike are a bit better than us from certain points of view. Besides, when you chose your race, it was decided it was going to remain like that for as long as you live, although, you aren’t yet… a TRUE Godlike. he smirked.
True Godlike? I asked a bit surprised.
Unfortunately, I can’t reveal any more information regarding this matter. he shrugged.
I don’t want to, but I’m going to give you a hint. All the Dungeons living on this planet are born not made. he winked.
From what he just said, I could only believe or presume that by True Godlike he might have been referring to a born Dungeon. I was more or less a dungeon’s version of Frankenstein’s Monster.
Tuberculus told me he made my body from many other smaller dungeons. Is that true? I asked him.
Yes, but not smaller or weaker, just not living anymore. I was the base around which he created you. My former body, or rather what was left of it was the center piece and the biggest one of them all. Around it, he added Godlike Dungeon parts and continued like that until he reached the Normal and Easy dungeons on the outside. That’s why you are rather squishy there, however, my core and those around mine are very hard to pierce or shatter. Even Dankyun’s sword stopped at my core, although, because of that, some of us were completely erased.
When you say erased, do you mean their minds? And how did Tuberculus even got his hands on your core? I asked.
Accident and pure luck most likely. As far as we figured out so far, he doesn’t even know about our existence. he shrugged As for the other question, yes, their minds, or rather what’s left of them. I am the only Dungeon in this darkness with most of its mind left intact. Many of the smaller ones have only bits and fragments of their time when they were alive. If the last remaining piece of the core of one of us inside this darkness is destroyed, then his memories along with all of his skills and abilities vanish as well. In my case, that tiny scratch Dankyun caused on my body made me forget what my name was, a language I used to know, and some skills, but they weren’t that useful to me anyway. As for my name… Meh, I can live without it. he shrugged like it wasn’t that important.
Then what about me? Why don’t I feel like I forgot anything? I asked him.
You… you are a bit different than us, and honestly speaking, it doesn’t make sense why you weren’t affected by his attack. It could be possible that among those memories I lost when I died was also the answer to this question.
Wait, what do you mean by special?
It’s pretty obvious just by looking at the two of us. You are surrounded by a strange light, an aura of sorts, while I am… well… like this. he pointed at himself.
What does that mean? I raised an eyebrow.
Simply put, you have a soul and we lost ours when we died. Yes, that means you are the only one alive in this place. Like I said, we are merely mental residue left behind from the time when we were still alive. Yes, some of us can still form a thought or two and have a will of our own, but we mostly go on repeat. We can’t gain new memories, we just act based on our old ones.
Isn’t what we are doing now called making a memory? I asked him.
Yes, sort of…
Then it doesn’t make sense what you said just now. If you can’t gain any new memories, then every time you meet me, we would be on repeat. Actually, you wouldn’t be able to function at all. I told him scratching the back of my head.
Everything from machines to living beings had a memory of some sort. It was the way any sort of entity could move through the world. Even those who suffered from periodic short-term memory loss could still gain new memories and keep them for a while. What this Primordial Dungeon was saying was absurd. He literally wouldn’t have been able to converse with me right now because every second that passed by would have been forgotten by him or not recorded at all.
What you say is true indeed, but these memories we gain… he stopped and looked down at his hands they don’t feel real to us. It’s like they are there but aren’t, like we knew we went through that event but doesn’t feel like we did. It’s… It’s a bit hard to explain something that only those in our situation could experience… he closed his eyes for a moment and took a deep breath before exhaling slowly. Opening his eyes, he looked back at me and continued to speak In either case, you only need to know and understand that what we view as new memories is very different from how you do. To help us out, we also read some of your memories and thoughts in real time. he explained.
Yeah… it’s hard for me to imagine what you mean by looking at a fake memory or a real one. Could you even tell the difference between them? Hey! Wait a second! If you can connect yourself to my memories does this mean you can see my past life as well? I asked him and for a moment, I realized that this could be a very dangerous situation for me.
No. his answer put an immediate stop to that train of thoughts.
No? But didn’t that guy from before said you are aware of my past life? I asked.
You constantly talked about it in your mind. We can hear some of those thoughts, but we have access only to the memories of your current life. We don’t have access those in the previous one, that’s why we find your behavior and decisions quite weird, illogical even from our point of view. I lifted a hand up to stop him so I could ask him a question.
What do you mean illogical?
Illogical. For example, when you saved Shanteya, all the evidence and proof suggested that you should have killed her immediately, not save her and even put yourself in danger afterwards. I would have never healed her until I pulled all the information out of her. The same goes for Ayuseya. All the information you collected pointed out that your reaction to her situation should have been a different one. You should have left her to die and ignore her request. Actually, in the first place, you weren’t supposed to try to heal her! Music isn’t something meant to appease a dungeon. Another illogical decision was listening to Nanya instead of forcing your own will upon her. That is something none of us could understand. Not to mention when you built your dungeon, you didn’t follow the basic rules and laws of a dungeon. Where were the lures? Where were minions and monsters? A dungeon is supposed to weaken adventurers and force them to waste as much Magic Energy as possible. Then you have to slowly kill them, boil them, and rip them apart! But you did nothing of that. Your dungeon was literally a death trap for anything Godlike and below. Sigh… well there are many other things as well, for example, how you allowed those insignificant humans to talk back to you like that. You are a Godlike! They are supposed to be the ones answering to YOU! he explained naming each and every thing I did wrong.
Needless to say that none of those things he told me about were illogical from my point of view. Actually, what he was suggesting was a bit weird. As for the teachers, I only listened to them because I was curious about this world and didn’t want to stand out that much. Besides, just because I was a Godlike didn’t mean I was the top dog around this place. Even Nanya said she could have destroyed me with ease because I lacked Magic Armor. Did this Primordial actually forgot about this little detail?
I didn’t wish to retort to his words because those were the things he and the other dungeons in this world believed to be right. Maybe for some, this was the truth, but for me, harming others and building stuff only with the intent of killing or torturing them wasn’t a good thing. My dungeon was strictly for self-defense purposes, although I may have strayed just a little bit from this idea. Thinking about it though, even when I was repairing the Magic Academy, I didn’t feel bad about accepting their requests, nor did I deny them, it was just that I felt a bit alienated from everyone there, like I was only a background character.
Most of these decisions of yours appear to be based on some past experiences and memories we know nothing about. On the bright side of things, it doesn’t appear as though you know a lot about advanced technology. Well, neither do I… but I seem to be able to understand and partially recall that Primordial Dungeons once knew a lot more about tech than any of the mortals living on this planet. What was the name of it again? Eldora? No, that’s the gas giant in this solar system. Terniach? That’s the second planet from this star. P-P… something with P. Meh, it matters not. he shook his head and gave up on trying, but so far I was looking at him with an open mouth. What’s the matter? he asked.
No, I’m just surprised you have knowledge of such things. I thought the technology on this planet was primitive or reliant on magic most of the time. I told him while rubbing my forehead.
Like I said, I’m a Primordial. The others probably have no idea what I’m talking about or gave them other names. he shrugged.
So, how does this entire darkness thing work? What’s your role? I asked him.
We basically take care of all the little details in your place, such as breathing, talking, conjuring up magic, controlling it, carefully measuring each amount of Magic Energy you need to put into your spells. You know that Magic Energy is counted with something like points, but you have no idea what each point can be quantifiable as. What’s the equivalent of Magic Energy in electric energy, number of electrons, or the rules of interaction between it and other elementary particles are? You don’t know, but we do, and we have to make every change based on this knowledge. You even presumed you picked up some auto-translator thing? Nope! We are the ones doing all of that stuff, including busting our necks over trying to figure out what in the name of all the known Gods you want to say half of the time! You think in three different languages at the same time! A normal dungeon starts a sentence in a language and finished in the same language. For example: Doko este the exit? Do you have any idea how frustrating and energy consuming it is to do this in real time? The only things you basically do is talk, move around in that flying form of yours, and order us around for what sort of skills you want activated next. But every little micromanaging process is done by us! You literally have no idea how to control ANY of the functions of this crystal form! he explained and then let out a long sigh.
They, why didn’t you try to take over my mind and rule the body instead of me? I asked squinting my eyes at him.
He remained quiet for a moment, maybe pondering if he should tell me or not.
Don’t you think we tried that already? More than once too! When Tuberculus created us, we weren’t fully aware of what was happening outside, so we immediately detected him and his gang as intruding Adventurers on our Dungeon Territory. We didn’t even know about the barrier meant to lock us inside our room. As a result, we all reacted in whatever manner we saw best. Some of them even sent out their minions in order to attack them. They were killed, and honestly speaking, I’m a bit surprised the minions survived in those dead crystals for such a long time in the first place, especially that kraken! Truth be told, I was the only one who didn’t immediately attack them. What I did was take over each of the lower dungeon minds who acted on instinct and reflex rather than logical thought. After I conquered them all and placed myself as the dominant mind, I stopped the attack to see what they were going to.
What happened then? I asked.
Tuberculus cast a spell on our body. It gave it life and pulled us all together. Instead of being the dominant mind and all of us having different bodies, we suddenly found ourselves being pulled together and forming only one entity: the Darkness, as you call us. At first, it was confusing for all of us and even my own thoughts were a bit hazy, but then I noticed you. Although weak and fragile, you were the only mind outside of the Darkness. I tried to control you, to call out to you, to trap you, but you ignored everything. Actually, we couldn’t even scratch you, even now I can’t. Then, something strange happened, your will and desire to reach out towards the outside world grew exponentially. It exploded, quite literally, and pushed all of us back. You didn’t appear to be doing this willingly, but subconsciously. I’m starting to believe that if Tuberculus didn’t cast that last spell on my body, me and the other Godlike Dungeons wouldn’t have been suppressed by you so quickly. he stopped and showed me a smile.
Being told something like that, I realized that this fellow, this Primordial Dungeon wasn’t a friend, he was my enemy all along, the leader of the Darkness. It was quite easy for me to presume that he was the one who ordered the sealing of my skill. He was the one who pulled me back into my body in those moments.
A bit of anger sparked in my soul, but I tried to keep calm and stay focused. Before I strangled him to death, I still had some info to pull out of him, besides, it didn’t seem like he was intent on dying either. He wouldn’t have shown himself to me unless he knew there was a way to fix all of this.
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