The dome-shaped command room came to life as the rumbling of massive cogs and gears reverberated within the walls and illuminated the lamps outlining the room. The tremor underneath me was so powerful it felt as if the dungeon was about to collapse on itself. When it finally subsided, I cautiously got up off the floor and dusted off my skirt.
“Whew, that was fun!” Cortana suddenly appeared in front of me, shouting and twirling around in excitement. The blue essence around her pulsed brightly, seemingly reinvigorated, as she moved.
“What did I just do?” I asked curiously.
“You pressed the power button, silly,” she smiles. “Though we’re running on two percent currently, the dungeon should be able to last for approximately 400 days if any unused facilities are halted and disabled for now.”
“I guess this is the part where I tell you the story about the dungeon? ” Cortana smiled, encouraging me to sit next to her.
“500 years ago, during the golden era of men, there were medicines to cure every type of illness and mythical technology that enabled man to breathe in the darkest depths of the sea and fly in the endless skies for weeks. When the world was on the edge of losing its precious resources, mankind pooled their knowledge in search of a solution for a better world and probed the heavens for a new home. Anything you can imagine, man has created. However, the very nature of man of this time refuses sufficiency – adequacy was taboo and greed reigned supreme. Wherever there is an opportunity for monopoly, so does conflict.
“Foreseeing the approach of a most terrible war, mankind channeled all its technology to thrust into the belly of the earth in a desperate attempt to create a safe haven – a dungeon. It was at that time when this dungeon was being built, the creators installed a virtual power assistance systems into the dungeon to facilitate and reduce power consumption in the event of nuclear destruction to ensure the dungeon remains available and active for any survivors. This program consumed thousands of manpower hours and massive resources to ensure humanity’s survival. I was created during this crucial time as part of the dungeon to replace the creators’ role in the event of their termination after the cataclysmic event and the calculated survival of one percent of humanity. Unfortunately, the impact of the Great War around the world was so devastating, it shook the very core of this dungeon and disabled the virtual systems and affected its integrity.”
Her eyes were downcast as she spoke, ashamed and depressed at the loss of countless lives. Abruptly shaking her head violently, Cortana seemed as though she was trying to force herself awake from a nightmare. I realized then how lonely Cortana must have been all these years.
” Do you remember venturing into some parts the forest and seeing these rectangular-shaped sheets of metal scattered and broken all over? Those things are one of the many innovations of the creators, look at this!” she pointed at the massive walls in the front part of the room. Though my memory about being hunted was blurry, I could surprisingly remember those times when I foraged for herbs and flowers to grind and make vials of healing brews. The lights dimmed abruptly and the walls glowed, displaying pictures of rusted artifacts littering the forest and other larger parts standing on cliffs and on the edge of ruin.
“I’ve seen many of these artifacts before! I can’t remember when exactly, but I do,” I shouted excitedly.
” Well, the creators also built and implemented solar panels, wind-powered turbines, and photosynthetic power plants to generate power for the dungeon on the surface. However, most of these machines are now lost or destroyed during the aftermath of what is now known as the Great War.”
“That’s just terrible, I can’t even begin to imagine how horrifying it must have been for you. It’s okay, I’m here now,” I came closer, placing my hand over hers. Cortana smiled and stood, walking towards the square-cut glass I touched.
“When you touched the sphere, Natra, the authorization protocol was transferred to you, effectively making you the dungeon master. However, since many parts of the dungeon require extensive repairs, it won’t be able to function at full capacity until then.”
My jaw slackened in shock as I attempted to register her words. Me, a dungeon master? What am I even supposed to do? I muttered restlessly. Cortana must have heard me because she gently took my hand and placed it on the glass again carefully, and it glowed a warm light.
“This command interactive interface controls everything within the dungeon and its vicinity. Here, can you see it?” she points at the display wall showing a large, oddly-shaped triangle with uneven surface and jagged corners. “This is the continent of Eredium, which we are currently on. The blinking red dot there is our current location and it shows the time – “
“This is a map?! ” exclaiming in utter surprise, I had to remind myself to breathe. “And you’re saying we’re currently here, right?”
“Exactly, the dungeon is located within The Great Forest. If you touch this side of the screen here, it will display all the information you need about the continent or you can filter it out to display only the information you require.”
Cortana’s briefing continued for several hours, describing the dungeon’s facilities and critical elements which need to be resolved. Summarily, each of the dungeon’s 87 floors has its own climate and environment to suit different purposes of the dungeon, however, except for five floors the access to the other parts of the dungeon are currently disabled. The most crucial task was the restoration of power to the generators and power plants on the surface needed to sustain the dungeon and enable access to the rest of the floors.
After covering most of what was needed and guiding me through the interface, we took the elevator back to my room.
I had to think on all she had said now as darkness fills my vision.
The footsteps of a man echo within the silent, large room as he gracefully walks up the flight of stairs onto a wide, rounded platform. A sheathed greatsword strapped on his back rattles as he limbers up toward the massive stone chair in the center of the platform. Clouds of black fog rolled across the lower floor, just above the surface as if anchored and resisting the pull of the earth.
“Report,” he demands with a deep voice, subtle yet compelling. His armor was a chainmail hidden under a deep-brown leather vest embedded by a riddle of symbols of a long-forgotten language, glowing a phosphorous red against the white floor tiles of the hall.
Facing the large hall, an impressive column of five hundred well-armored men standing at attention occupied the open space below, spears in one hand at a slanted angle with its tip facing upwards and a tower shield in the other by the side. Their faces were fully protected by the helm, except for the two openings which revealed the furor in their eyes; an imposing pressure envelops the room.
Within a few spans of breath, wisps of white light seep through the cracks on the seemingly discolored walls of the hall and formed a massive sphere which almost fills it – a globe.
A new dungeon core has been activated. Location unknown.
Analyzing last detected signal..amplifying.
Analyze complete. Location remains unknown. Approximate distance?
“Show me,” a malicious grin forms on his face. His hazel green tint eyes, shadowed by the steel helm he wore were mad with excitement and greed. With a bright glow, a small part of the globe blinked red in distress.
Operation successful. Pulse signal detected on Eredium continent..
Proceed to set destination?