Chapter 11: Entering the gardens of bliss

Originally released 27-06-2016

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Instinct


When Waynor returned I felt immense relief, all while he was with the explorers I was worried that they would somehow harm him. I knew rationally that there was no real way to harm Waynor when he was just a disembodied will like this, but the worry was still there. If something happened to Waynor, I……

But nothing did, so there’s no reason to think about something like that…..

“So, were the explorers as interesting as you hoped they would be?” (Instinct)

I felt Waynor open up the connection between us and send me all his feelings on the invaders. He was already thinking of them as guests of a sort, but Waynor thought of “guests” in a rather twisted way. For Waynor if his guests died in his dungeon then that was fine and could even prove to be amusing and bring him joy depending on how it happens, and Waynor didn’t seem to see this part of his concept of “guests” as abnormal in the least. It was another facet of Waynor that was contradictory and more than just a little scary, but I have come to expect such views and concepts from him over the years.

I think that everything went well, instinct…… I quite like the woman called Erica, she’s very beautiful, do you think that Hanna could get her to stay here forever as a part of the negotiations? (Waynor)

I tried to suppress the feelings of jealousy that surfaced the moment Waynor brought up the human woman. Jealousy wasn’t an emotion that Waynor really understood anyway no normal dungeon really did, to them there was no need for envy when they could just create whatever they wanted. I only really understood the feeling due to my rather unique circumstances and by reliving the memories of countless humans.

…..That’s good, but I don’t think that Hanna will be able to convince these people to have …..um, Erica….. stay with us.

I doubted that the girl would ever even think of something like that, something I was very happy about. I would rather Waynor not pick up another human pet, ESPECIALLY not another female one that he found beautiful. Hanna was already more than enough and I still hadn’t quite convinced her that she was nothing more than a pet yet, adding another human to things would just prolong that process….

Oh, that’s a shame….. Although Hanna seems to have gotten them to offer up some of their memories, that’s rather nice……. I think I’ll start looking through those now…. (Waynor)

I felt Waynor break off the connection while I watched the thin boy keep touching the orb Waynor made for smiles from Hanna. I’ll give the girl credit though, she does know how to manipulate others and she knows how to make a sale even when what’s being offered is horrible.

It was rather fun watching the humans jolt and make shocked or pained noises when they touch the orb, but I still didn’t quite like the stance that Waynor decided to take with those that enter his dungeon. I felt we should prioritize his core’s safety and security over attracting and interacting with more of the seven races, although I could see the appeal. As I watched the explorers move on with Hanna leading them, I thought about what lead me to accepting this.

Waynor had shared his thoughts and feelings on the subject of how to deal with invaders many times, he craved the knowledge, opportunities, power, and entertainment that they could bring to him. Soon enough I also began to crave those things, both for him to have and to a lesser degree for myself as well. Eventually the idea of getting the races to come to the dungeon and just keeping them from getting to Waynor and my core room became rooted in my mind.

And now that very idea is beginning to come to fruition……. Maybe if I’m lucky one of them will even kill that damned muse pervert for me………. Although…….


Hanna


It was actually kinda fun watching these skilled and experienced explorers flinch, and in Feris and Cecilia’s cases scream a bit, from touching the orb of pain. It reminded me some of my past when I would take time to train slaves every day, those were simpler and better times.

………..if Waynor was there in those times everything would have been perfect… well if he was human, why did I ever think it would’ve been fine if a dungeon core was in my old life? ……..Wait why would I want Waynor to be there at all in any form? Could I have really fallen for……….. Nope, couldn’t be…. Waynor’s a rock and since I’m a human girl I’ll fall in love with a nice human guy…… if not human than maybe an elf or an arcane, but not a rock….. Even if that rock is shiny….. And nice…. And so smooth to the touch……

I began to pick up my slow pace as I tried to banish the twisted and strange thoughts that had been growing inside me for the last month or so. I was leading the explorers through Waynor’s immaculate, beautiful, well-lit and well-furnished entrance floor, it was as splendid as always and I was taking my time until now so that these people could take it all in. The explorer’s were looking at everything and kept looking to me to see if it was ok to go somewhere or touch something.

“Miss Hanna, could I go over and look at that?” (Cecilia)

I slowed to a stop and looked over at the young elf girl, she was pointing at an elaborate chandelier of different colored crystals that hung over six long dining tables that all spanned well over fifty feet of space. It was the room Waynor made for hosting large and elaborate meals, and it was made to a quality that would awe even the highest of nobility a fact I could confirm as a noble myself.

………..Well, maybe former noble is a more accurate description now………. But regardless I have seen countless luxury dining rooms in the past including the main one inside the royal palace and THIS is the one that is the most amazing…… there really isn’t even much of a comparison between them and this one……..

“Feel free to do so, as I have said before there are no traps or any other such dangers on this floor….” (Hanna)

The girl smiled and began running towards the room without hesitation, as she went the half elf woman Johana sighed and began to follow her while calling for her to slow down and be careful. I watched as the two looked around the room, one in obvious wonder and the other in reluctant and distrusting amazement.

“This place is rather different from normal dungeons….. Miss Hanna, you said while we were walking before that you lived in this dungeon right? Could you tell me why it’s like this and why the dungeon seems so friendly towards us?” (Darek)

I looked back at the armored man doing my best to ignore the fool Feris who seemed to be practically drooling while he stared at me, I was also ignoring the silver haired Erica who I was totally not feeling envious of at the moment for having Waynor’s attention. Darek was a large man with a large shield and a large axe, he wore so much plated metal that I wondered how he could move at all let alone with that level of quiet and speed he maintained in his gait.

“Well I honestly don’t know all that much about what Waynor’s inner thoughts or anything like that, but I do know that he is a really nice guy-….. Er…. I mean dungeon normally so how he acted wasn’t all that surprising or out of the norm for him. I also know for sure that Waynor was really excited to meet more humans besides me and my brother, the fact that there was an elf in your party and that you are being led by a half elf probably just made him happier….” (Hanna)

As I watched Johana and Cecilia walk back and rejoin the group, I noticed the momentary shock that registered on the half elf’s face for a moment before she put back on her mask of neutral politeness. I was almost positive that she was the only one to notice my little…. Episode…. earlier, and by how she has been acting she seems to have either disregarded or discredited her own memory of that time. That was good since while I might not want to admit it, I know that my mental state isn’t in its most…. stable state…. and as such it would probably be for the best to keep that fact to myself.

………….They didn’t think I would reveal all that to them so freely, it was written all over her face…… Well, this works out well doesn’t it? I gain more trust and favor from them that I can use later at the negotiation table and all it really cost was some information that doesn’t really matter…… there really isn’t anything that I told them besides Waynor is “nice” and that I have a brother who is probably here as well, all things that are useless to people that came to negotiate and won’t be going past the tenth floor….. But if they DO try something like that, well……. Ralt has been saying he’d like another “honorable battle” with the invaders lately……….

I smiled at them all again and began to walk forward again, there were a good 39 rooms on this floor and it would take some time to lead this group through them all. Sure I didn’t strictly HAVE to do that to get to the next floor as there was a straight ten room path to the next floor, but these people asked for a tour so I would give them one.

Besides, I still have to give Ralt some time to get to the entrance of the gardens…… without him to help guide ME we’d all get lost by the third floor….. Huh, maybe I should ask Waynor for some sort of magic map or senses to help me navigate his dungeon on my own…… I really should remember that, maybe it can be a part of my reward if the negotiations go well…..

“And this large room upcoming on the right is what we here like to playfully call the invader’s resting room, I know right now it might seem rather bare-bones but it’s improving all the time. Besides the beds are all rather soft and comfortable so……..” (Hanna)


I was looking out at the vast seemingly endless field of plants and sunshine, each time I see it I still get the same awed and shocked feeling I did the first time I saw this place. It truly was a paradise, in fact it even outshone what the priests of Hersi described as the gardens of their main temple.

It was probably then when I first realized that fact, when I realized that I had all but lost all my faith in the gods…… If not even the holy followers of the goddess of nature can match Waynor, a dungeon, in something that they were supposedly unsurpassable in like gardening…….. Well I guess ever since then I stopped seeing the gods and divines as perfect and absolute beings……….

“Wow! This is even better than the sacred forest grove I grew up in! I knew that dungeon expeditions were fun and amazing already, but I didn’t think that they were at THIS level! I KNEW becoming an explorer instead of an acolyte of the order was the right choice…..” (Cecilia)

“Very pretty. I’d expect no less from the great dungeon.” (Erica)

“That’s……. That’s a lot of flowers…….. Hey, um….. Hey guys? Is it just me or are some of the flowers, like, walking around?” (Feris)

“Yep, it looks like those things are monsters of some sort. I was only half considering it before but maybe this really would be the perfect first dungeon for my daughter…… then Kara and I could show her some of the ropes without having to wait so long, plus she would absolutely love this place….. Hmmmm……” (Darek)

“I…….I-I…………I don’t………. What IS this place?” (Johana)

“This is the first level of the dungeon that Waynor calls the blissful gardens, but in all honestly we are all still coming up with an official name for this level of the dungeon. We’ll have to wait for a little while before we move on though, my associate seems to be running a bit late…… Shame he can’t just port to places in them dungeon like Loria, that would make things so much easier…..” (Hanna)

“Your associate?” (Johana)

“Oh, yes I almost forgot to tell you all….. Well, truthfully this level is so huge not even I know how to navigate much more than the first three floors and the tenth floor. That’s why it’s probably best that we wait here for my associate to arrive before we move on, until then I’d be happy to answer a few questions about the dungeon if you have them.” (Hanna)

I watched them as I said this, they all had different reactions to what I said. Cecilia looked like she just wanted to go run and frolic through the floor without a care and I was beginning to see her as a rather dumb puppy, she was cute but had no real sense or survival instincts that I could see at all. Erica seemed to not care but was pleasantly surprised by the floor itself based on the way her eyes sparkled and she would nod as she looked around. Feris gave a thoughtful nod and then went back to trying and failing to discreetly check out my ass in this dress. Darek crossed his arms and held his chin with one of his hands as he seemed to think deeply on something, that man was damn near impossible to read with all that armor on though. Then there was Johana whose eyes widened, narrowed, and then seemed to shift around in an unsure or undecided fashion before she seemed to regain her composure.

“Yes, well then, I do have a few questions if you don’t mind-……” (Johana)

“Can I go exploring on my own big sis? This place looks so amazing and fun!!!” (Cecilia)

…………….A dumb puppy with a VERY short attention span…….. Maybe not even puppy but some sort of clueless song bird chick? Yes I think that fits Cecilia much better……. I wonder if she can even SURVIVE this level on her own, I mean it is fairly easy but…….. Well you do need to have a good bit of intelligence and sense to avoid the illusion traps and fend off the wisps and pixies…….. CAN she even beat a flower soldier in a one on one fight? ………..Um maybe I should pay EXTRA close attention to her to make sure the girl doesn’t just get herself killed in here………

I looked at the girl who was holding onto Johana’s left arm and jumping up and down with a pleading look. Whenever my father spoke of explorers he did so in tones of respect, I doubt he would’ve ever imagined that one could be like….. well… this.

“No! You can’t go off alone in a dungeon if you can’t even defend yourself properly! You’re a healer Cecilia, do you even KNOW any offensive magic because I know for a fact that staff is less than useless as a weapon in your hands……” (Johana)

“I DO know one big sis…..” (Cecilia)

“Oh, and what is it then?” (Johana)

“…….A basic mana ball………” (Cecilia)

I watched as Johana’s left eye began to twitch spastically, I truly pitied her in that moment.

How did she even pass the explorer’s guild admission tests? It couldn’t be that someone pushed her through them even knowing she was like this, right? That would just be an act of cruel bulling towards her party and Cecilia herself……… No, the explorer’s guild is really respectable, father always said so after all, there’s no way a staff member of the guild would ever do that……….

Johana turned back towards me and gave me a smile.

“Excuse us a moment Miss Hanna, I have to give my junior here an educational lecture…. Erica if you would be so kind as to help me with her…..” (Johana)

“That’s fine, please go ahead but do be careful as there are traps on this floor as well as creatures that will attack you.” (Hanna)

I watched as the half elf practically dragged the younger elf away towards a sole nearby tree as Erica followed along behind them.

“Um, fair golden haired maiden? I wish to inquire something of you myself….” (Feris)

And then there’s this one…………. Alright, business face Hanna….. give him just enough so that he doesn’t lose interest or develop a negative impression, but not so much that you seem interested in him at all in THAT way……

I looked at the thin redheaded boy who I was beginning to wish had never come to the dungeon with his wondering eyes, then I gave him my kind and sweet business smile.

“Yes Feris?” (Hanna)

“My heart yarns for you! Might you take my hand in matrimony lady Hanna?” (Feris)

I just stared at the boy for a while.

That’s weird I could’ve sworn that I heard him ask to marry me……. Huh, that’s weird usually I imagine Waynor doing something like that…… Maybe I really am starting to lose my mind? No, that can’t be it….. I’m just a little emotionally and mentally unstable right now, something that’s perfectly normal for someone in my situation, right? Yeah…. I bet I’m actually doing better than most would in this sort of position too……… And all those weird feelings and thoughts are just my minds strange coping mechanisms, as long as I remember that I’ll stay sane……. But then it wouldn’t really make sense for me to imagine Feris saying something like that would it? Maybe I just misheard him………

“I’m sorry what did you ask again?” (Hanna)

The boy smiled and went down on one knee.

“I asked if you would join me in blissful matrimony here in this flowery meadow of dreams. We can even consummate our love here if you so-……… ARRRRHHHGGG!!!! FUCK ERICA!!! DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA HOW CLOSE THAT WAS TO HITTING MY DICK!?!?!?!?” (Feris)

I looked down at the boy who was now close to tears as he rolled on the ground hugging his thigh and trying not to touch the knife embedded in it. I recognized it as one of the butter and pastry knives from our meal earlier, but how it got into Feris I couldn’t tell. I didn’t even see anything happen, not even a flash, suddenly Feris was just on the ground shouting at Erica in the distance.

……………Ok, so the explorers and Erica in particular do in fact live up to what father said about them being incredibly skilled and dangerous…… Noted…..

While I watched Feris roll on the ground as he tried to remove the cutlery from his inner thigh I felt a light tap on my shoulder. I turned around to see Darek smile at me and step back a bit.

“I, unlike the kid there, have a few ACTUAL questions…… Would you be so kind as to answer what you can Miss Hanna?” (Darek)

I smiled back at the armored man, at least he was polite and had a nice fatherly aura about him. Feris could go bleed out and die while I answered this nice man’s questions for all I cared now.

“Why I’d be happy to Darek, please ask me anything you’d like…….” (Hanna)


“I see…….. Yes, if that’s the case than this would be perfect for little Cass…. As long as Kara and I make sure to be careful of any wisp attacks…….. Yes, I do believe that Cass, Kara, and I could come to this place even as soon as I get back to them. Thank you for all the help Miss Hanna, I’ll be sure to fill in the guild master after she’s done with her lecture as well” (Darek)

I just glanced back at where the others were. Feris was tied up and suspended from one of the tree’s tallest branches, Johana was gesturing and pointing at a kneeling and downcast Cecilia, and Erica was sitting in the shade of the tree eating what looked to be carefully packed leftovers from our earlier meal. I looked back at Darek again, the man had been diligently listening to me for the last hour and had even taken out a piece of paper and a pencil to take notes.

………………..Father, I finally meet explorers but really only one is anywhere near as respectable as you said they were…………. Although, I’m sure Johana is strong and I know for sure now Erica is……. I almost feel sorry for Feris, but then again he did try groping me so………… Yeah, he deserves this……….

“Lady Hanna, I apologize for my delay, it took some time to get here from the mazes even using the most direct path……” (Ralt)

I looked up at the hill to my right as I heard the tinny voice of the one we have been waiting for. Even as I saw him and a few of his siblings crest the hill I noticed that Darek had his weapon and shield drawn and had put himself between myself and the mites. The other explorers also gathered around the two of us with weapons out ready for battle in what seemed like no time at all. The only one who was missing was Cecilia, but I could see the girl running towards us from the tree she had been kneeling nest to for the last hour.

“The number looks like seven…..” (Darek)

“Yes, but what rank are they? They can’t be that high since they’re on the first real floor here….” (Feris)

“They’re all probably at least rank 4, you can tell by the way they move and by how their carapaces seem to reflect light like there’re metallic. Be careful people, those mandible jaws, clawed legs, and stingers look sharp…. Assume their poisoned too just to be on the safe side. Erica you and Darek will be the front line, Feris you help, guard, and do not GROPE Cecilia, I’ll be mid and long ranged support……” (Johana)

I was listening to what Johana was saying and had to admit she was good, she didn’t even flinch under the pressure of a perceived ambush. Her orders were clear, used everyone’s apparent strengths to their advantages, and likely would’ve worked in most cases. Unfortunately for her I had no desire to see who was the better leader and warrior between her and Ralt which meant it was time for me to diffuse this situation.

I stepped out from behind Darek and walked to meet my eight legged companion and this group’s new guide.

“Hello Ralt, I see you brought some of your battle-kin with you as well….” (Hanna)

As the giant insect creature reached me, he dipped his head slightly and his kin did almost a full bow with their head dips. I just waved and gave a slight curtsy to Ralt since he was a good guy for a giant bug after all, plus he was named which from what I understood of what Loria told me made him like monster super nobility or something akin to that.

“Yes, they shall serve as guards for us both as Master Waynor is unsure of whether or not the flower soldiers will see us as enemies for aiding invaders. They are rather simple creations after all, the wisps and especially the pixies shouldn’t have any such problems though.” (Ralt)

“Oh, I see then I must thank you Ralt. I also extend my thanks to you all, Honored battle-kin. I place my life in your hands.” (Hanna)

The mites began making that screeching noise that sounded like sharp metal scraps scraping against each other that I knew as their laughter. The mites really were fond of little jokes among allies and friends. Of course the explorers were not well versed in the subtle arts of mite humor and all tensed as they heard that sound.

“Ah a fine use of metaphor lady Hanna, your life will be completely safe in our ‘hands’…..” (Ralt)

I felt a cautious tap at my shoulder that seemed to linger just slightly longer than was really necessary, I turned to see Johana holding her bow out but not drawn anymore and looking at me with rather confused eyes.

“Um, Miss Hanna? Is this monster by any chance the associate we were waiting for?” (Johana)

I smiled at the woman before I stepped back to send all of the explorers the same expression and message.

“Why yes he is, allow me to introduce you to Ralt the warrior mite and his nameless escort of battle-kin. Ralt as you know these invaders are Waynor’s guests and I would like them to survive this tour if at all possible, could you see to it that this happens?” (Hanna)

The mite looked up at me for a while before giving a single nod.

“Only if it does not impede your or my safety, that is after all our primary concern Lady Hanna. Otherwise we can only hope that their deaths provide some joy to Master Waynor…..” (Ralt)

………..Wow Ralt, you could have really just kept that last bit to yourself……….

I just looked back at the explorers who didn’t really seem all that surprised or angry about that declaration, well except for Cecilia who just seemed to be rather confused but not really troubled by it.

“Yes well…….. Now that we all know each other and know that we’re not threats to each other let’s all get moving shall we? I’m sure that our guests will be pleasantly surprised by many things in this level of the dungeon. Oh, and everyone do remember to watch out for traps Ralt and I won’t set them off but that doesn’t mean they’re not there……..” (Hanna)

I began to walk ahead of the explorers and mites leading the way forward for both groups and hoping that they would not kill each other even if they didn’t join up together.

……..So this should be fun…….. now I just have to think of ways to get them to offer up all their knowledge, lots of books, and more people to “visit and try the dungeon” in the negotiations afterwards to make Waynor happy……………. Which I am doing SOLELY out of my sense of obligation and duty and not this false construct of a desire to have him praise me…….. Yep, totally not that………. Hanna already knows she’s a good girl………. Shit I’m doing it again….. I am not a pet I want to be more than-……. Er… I am not a pet…….I am a proud human………… I am not a pet……. I am a proud human……………………………


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