Placing my hand against the rough surface of the mountain’s base I wondered how I wanted to go about doing this. I was attempting something that as far as anyone knew was utterly impossible and probably completely insane, there had been attempts at dungeon transformations before and as far as I had discovered it had never once succeeded. The ritual I got from Thor wasn’t really a transformation though, it simply forced the mind and soul of the ritual conductor into the nearest compatible soulstone then forced that soulstone to begin absorbing mana from its surroundings until enough mana to sustain a simple consciousness within the soulstone had been obtained. After that becoming a dungeon instead of a sealed consciousness would be up to my own actions and willpower. The ritual was simple in concept, but the power requirements were insane and would literally drain the body of the average adult dragon of mana until it died and since the ritual conductor has to provide all the mana for the ritual I would only have one shot at performing it.
Ok, I’ll just cut away and smooth out the southern base of this mountain, make it as sheer and impassible as I can, then I’ll carve out a simple cave system… Yeah, I can use the eye of decay on this side of the mountain to strip it away and shape it how I want, then I can use my black flame to melt out the caves… Hmm, I should also probably reinforce the whole mountain afterwards, it would ruin everything if my renovating destabilized this place and caused a collapse… looking over the plan in my head and making small adjustments and changes as I thought things through I let out the power sealed in my left eye and watched as strong rock and packed earth turned to dust then nothingness under my gaze. Ignoring the noises of shock coming from the demon beside me I kept sheering away the mountain until it looked like it had been cut in cleanly in half, I was now looking at a now impossibly smooth and straight cliff face that stretched all the way to the mountain summit. Yep like that, perfect… No one with even basic adventuring knowledge would mistake a cave entrance here now for anything other than a newly formed dungeon… Though I hope monsters and animals still carelessly wander in…
As I stepped forward and brought forth a black flame I found myself frowning, there were so many things that I wanted to do to give myself an advantage as a dungeon but there were also many things I simply didn’t know and couldn’t prepare for. Dungeons themselves were strange beings, and after the ancient dungeon purges most detailed information about them was destroyed. Most of what I could find out about them came from ancient libraries and hearsay and all that information couldn’t really be considered entirely factual, but after talking things over with Umbra we had put together a decent collection of true information.
I knew for a fact that there were a whole host of difficulties that a newly born dungeon had to deal with, the sheer lack of resources, knowledge, mana, prey, and most importantly a sense of identity that the typical dungeon faces early on makes them practically crippled until some outside force comes along and acts on them. Usually that force came in the form of a dungeon guide or dungeon master looking to establish a bond with the infant dungeon, but there are also rarer times when infant dungeons simply get destroyed as an overly strong mana pulse or monster reach them first and destroy the dungeon before it’s even self-aware. Luckily I shouldn’t need to worry about that myself…
I directed my black flames to burn out a large cavern and then went on to burn out a huge winding system of interconnecting tunnels until I finally got through to the other side of the mountain. Breaking out of my daze I looked over to see the small demon girl staring blankly forward, I had a momentary urge to give up my plan for her and just absorb her when I become a dungeon. After some brief consideration I let that urge go and with a sigh I switched on my cursed eye of restoration and repaired the opening I had just made. I’ll just make a few more rooms and tunnels, reinforce the mountain, then I can make a core room… Now that I think of it maybe I can add some staircases leading up and down to even more tunnels and rooms that lead nowhere… Hmm… Maybe I should give myself a day to rest after this before attempting the ritual…
I looked around, the room was huge and had columns of stone that grew from the floor to the ceiling scattered around almost randomly. The room’s ceiling was high enough for me to fly and perch myself comfortably in my dragon form and the room itself was almost half the size of all the rooms I had burned out of the mountain above combined. At the far end of the room I looked at the chest high pillar and shook my head. No… This is where I’ll be spending the rest of my life, I refuse to make it this plain… I want something grand, intimidating, awe inspiring, and at the same time familiar. I want something… draconic…
Smiling I knew exactly who could give me what I wanted and I knew how fast it could work with the right motivations, letting one of my nails shift partially to become a small silver claw I cut a deep line into my palm and let the blood fall to the floor. “I seek the shaper of earth, the crafter of living stone… I summon the infernal architect!” At my mana infused words the blood flowed across the floor and formed a runic circle. “Come forth Tsmuga!” The circle flashed as a tear in the world opened above its centermost point, looking in I could see the swirling chaos of colors and light that formed whenever a connection between one of the lower rings of the abyss and this world was formed.
As a gnarled clawed hand reached through the tear and grasped at the air the small demon girl beside me moved to hide behind me. I looked down and boredly flexed my left hand as the wound I gave it closed up under the power of my cursed eye, looking over the hands that seemed to be no different than a human’s once more I felt a sudden sharp pull of mana as a new demon came into the world under my power.
“Who summons I, the great Tsmuga!?” as an aged and raspy voice sounded in front of me I couldn’t help but chuckle as I looked up.
“Ha, don’t tell me the great Tsmuga has forgotten me already… It’s such a shame I didn’t leave a stronger impression the last time I summoned you…” Tsmuga hadn’t changed his appearance since the last time I had seen him, he still appeared to be an impossibly old man with feathers for hair and clawed hands and feet.
“Ah, my apologies Nox… I seems my transition into this world has befuddled my head for a moment… I do hope you forgive me in this…” As the old demon made to bow his eyes suddenly sharpened as he stared at something behind me. “Nox, why is one as renowned and noble as you keeping company with a savage mutt?”
I glanced at the small demon girl trembling at my back before looking back at Tsmuga, I didn’t understand much about the strict authority and power hierarchies that governed the abyss but I did understand that named demons regardless of their level of power were respected and feared by their unnamed peers. “Is the company I keep in any way your concern Tsumga?”
The old demon shook slightly as he hurried to finish his respectful bow. “No, no it is not Nox… I asked merely out of concern for a friend and meant nothing by it…” As the old demon stood straight once again I couldn’t see any concern or fear in his eyes, even so I knew it was there.
“That’s good, I’m sure you remember how I deal with those demons who overstep their bounds…”
“Yes, I remember… Vividly…”
Smiling I clapped my hands in an attempt to dispel the morbid turn the conversation was taking. “Great, now I’ve called you because I require your expert crafting ability once again…”
“Oh? And what would the renowned demonic dark dragon desire the great Tsmuga to craft for him this time?”
“I want a life size advanced battle golem made to mimic the appearance and capabilities of my dragon form…” As I let my request sink in I gave Tsmuga a moment to consider the task I was giving him. “I can provide you as many of my scales, teeth, and claws as you may need for both materials and payment, but I require the golem to be ready within a day.”
“A Day!? Nox, my faction leader and I may owe you much, but what you’re asking me…”
“Is far from impossible for someone like you…” giving a small sigh I took a quick step and flashed right in front of the old demon, staring deep into his sickly yellow eyes I let a bit of my draconic nature show through my human form. As the aura of a powerful dragon radiated from my body and my eyes had taken on a familiar serpentine shape I felt myself smile threateningly. “Especially when I’m prepared to offer you and your mistress so much. But if you insist on making this more difficult than it needs to be then, well… I’m sure that my own mistress would delight in my leading a rebellion in one of the lower rings of the abyss. Maybe I’ll support the, what did you call them? Ah yes, the mutts… Loki does have a fondness for wolves after all…”
I heard the old demon swallow hard. “You would ruin your relations with mistress Abaddon…”
I kept up my smile even as my stomach turned in fear. “Yes, yes I would…”
There was a moment of tense silence before the old demon finally let out a tired sigh. “Fine, fine… Truly Nox, doing business with you takes centuries off my life…”
Stepping back I recalled my aura and let the innate humanity of my human form overtake the draconic features I had brought forth. “I’m glad we’ve come to an agreement…” Idly reaching out a hand and plunging it into a shadowy pool of darkness that formed in the air I pulled out a large sack I had prepared beforehand. “This is an infinity bag, in it you will find all the materials you will need as well as your payment…” Tossing over the bag I turned to leave before a tug at my side pulled my attention back to the demon in the form of a small elven girl.
“You… You know a named as powerful as the dragon of destruction?” The little demons eyes were wide and held hints of panic and fear.
“Yep, Abaddon has even attempted to bear my children a few times, but unfortunately for her nothing ever comes from our mating.
“How could…?” The little demon asked with confusion.
“My patron god made me sterile long ago, Loki doesn’t like to share very much… Now come along demon, I have something specific for you to do…” As I walked out of the room with the small demon girl following behind me I felt another pulse of anticipation shoot through me. It won’t be long now… another day to rest, and perhaps a day to perform the ritual itself, and then… Then I’ll have transcended mortality and become a being only a single step removed from a god…
Looking around the forest for something comfortable to sit on I finally gave up and simply turned to lean against a tree. For a few minutes I just watched the demon girl, it was always difficult to judge demons but they, like dragons, usually take on forms that reflect their age and personality. Judging on this demons form and how it reacted to Tsmuga I was pretty sure it was young, but then again young was a very relative term to beings like us. I myself have lived for over a millennia and am still considered an adolescent in dragon terms, this demon could be twice my age but still considered a small child by her species.
Eventually the little demon girl spoke up nerviously. “Sir Nox…?”
I sighed, she was getting better but I could still do without the “Sir” she added. “Relax…” Looking over the little demon more carefully I decided that it really was young, this could’ve even been the first time it had been summoned out of the abyss. “I’ve been wondering, is this the first time you’ve been out of the abyss?”
The little demon froze up for a moment before replying. “Yes… But I assure you Sir Nox, I can complete any task you may have for me!” Kneeling on the ground so hard she made an imprint the small demon looked up at me with apprehension. “Sir Nox, I ask that you please give me a chance to prove my worth to you!”
Demons, there were a lot of misconceptions about them that were usually negative. The mortal races thought demons and all other things from the abyss were inherently evil, that the infernal mana that flooded the abyss wouldn’t allow anything that wasn’t evil to survive there, but in truth demons and other things that originated from the abyss weren’t inherently anything. The abyss was simply a cruel place and even its lowest rings were hundreds of times more dangerous than this world, everything that lived in the abyss was forced to compete with everything else in that place for their very survival and that led to most demons wanting desperately to leave that cruel place for somewhere better. Most things summoned from the abyss, at least those that were summoned by someone with half a brain, have some sort of condition to their summoning that will allow their summoner to send them back to the abyss at a whim or on the summoner’s demise. Summoned demons will normally do anything and everything they have to in order to avoid going back to the abyss, and thus over time they earned their “evil” reputation doing all sorts of tasks for their summoners. In truth demons made the perfect servants since they would remain loyal to, attempt to please, and work to safeguard their summoner all so they could stay out of the abyss. If a summoner handled things right demons could become their strongest and most devoted allies, all a summoner had to do was show the kindness or respect that the average demon would never experience in the abyss and most demons would become putty in the summoner’s hands. Give the demon more than simple kindness or respect and that demon, especially if it has not been outside of the abyss much, will probably even develop feelings of love, dependence, or even obsession for their summoner.
With a sigh I leaned forward and patted the little demons head. “Really you should relax… I’m not going to send you back to the abyss.” Matching the little demon’s confused face with a pleasant smile I gave her silver hair a little ruffle before leaning back against the tree. “In fact if I have my way you’ll never have to go back to the abyss again…”
“Sir Nox…?” The little demon girl looked up in confusion as one of her hands held where I had patted her head.
“But first I think it’s time to give you a name, after all my new personal envoy can’t be going around nameless…”
With just that single sentence I could see the way the little demon girl thought of me changing, names were immensely important to demons as with a name a demon could be specifically summoned from the abyss like I had just done with Tsumga. Giving the little demon girl a name would serve two purposes, it would make her practically immortal outside of the abyss as whenever she died and was sent back I could resummon her and it would improve and deepen our relationship encouraging her to work harder for me on her own. Honestly I can’t believe the stupidity of other demon summoners… If I could, I would be sure to only summon demons who were unnamed and had never left the abyss before… Who wants some ultra-powerful demon servant when they already have a way to be specifically summoned by someone else and has been out of the abyss enough times that they wouldn’t mind being sent back to the abyss to wait for their next summoner? I’d much rather have the fairly innocent, inexperienced, and unnamed demon that has never been summoned before and wants desperately to never go back to the abyss and its cruelty… It’s a shame that the summoning is basically random unless you have a demons name…
As the little demon looked up there was a hint of tears in her eyes. “Sir Nox, it would be my honor to bear the name you bestow upon me!”
“Good, then I’m giving you the name…”
“So I take it you’re satisfied?”
I stroked the black dragon standing in front of me in wonder. “It will really obey me based solely on the resonance of my immortal soul?”
Tsumga snorted and huffed in disgust. “Humph, it wasn’t easy but I managed to get the monstrosity to recognize soul resonances. It should respond the way you want, hell even if you were to reincarnate a thousand times this thing would still recognize you as its master…”
I couldn’t help but smile. “You did good work again Tsumga, the payment is yours to take and you can leave for the abyss anytime now…”
“Bah, I should’ve been given more for making this monstrosity…” Tsumga scratched at his head with his clawed hands. “Truth be told I’m not even sure if this qualifies as a golem or an automata, I’m not even sure if it’s an artificial being or not…”
“I don’t really care what it is, it’ll serve its purpose…”
“Nox, I’m warning you now but even with your personal materials it won’t be as powerful or durable as an actual dragon would be. I might’ve been able to increase its potential if you had given me a dragon core, but without one…”
“Tsumga, I said this will do fine. Now leave…” Glaring at the old demon with more than a little force I decided to forget about his insane last comment. A dragon core?! The easiest way of getting one would literally be suicide, and trying to kill some random dragon for one could end… very badly for me… There wasn’t much on the list of things that could realistically expect to kill a dragon, but another dragon was high up on that list if it wasn’t already the first entry.
“Bah, my friend how can you be so cold to the great Tsumga after I’ve made this for you?”
“Easily, now leave or I’ll banish you back to the abyss myself. I have something to attend to today and as long as you’re here you’ll be in the way…”
“Ah, I see… Then the great Tsumga shall take his leave…” With a bow that was annoyingly arrogant the old demon burst into purple flames and burned to nothingness.
Letting out a sigh of relief I looked back at the massive black dragon that was standing in front of me. Hmm… Regardless of his warped personality, Tsumga does good work… I can barely even tell this is an imitation, if it could blink and breathe then I might even be convinced it was a real dragon… Walking closer to the dragon golem I reached out and touched the familiar black scales with the strange silver markings. It really does look like me… And it has my claws and teeth… Yeah this should work…
Looking at the dragon golem carefully I shifted to my dragon form. I’ll make the basin and pool first, and then… After carefully raising up a wide circle of stone I burned an uneven depression into it making a large pool of varying depths, then I raised a few support pillars and platforms in the pool before I was happy with what I had made. Stepping into the pool I had created in the middle of the room I turned around and stretched out to check the pools size. This’ll work… Shaking myself and preparing my mind for the pain about to come I turned to face the dragon golem again. “From now on you will be called Ness and your sole duties will be to obey me and guard me, in that order.” As Ness nodded its large head and let out an affirmative grinding screech sound I reached out my left arm. “Good, now rip off my arms and legs until I tell you to stop. Oh, leave the body parts and blood here in the pool and once you’re done let nothing inside this room until I say otherwise…”
After I spoke I could actually see the golem considering what I had said, then it reached out and grabbed my outstretched arm digging its claws in to the bone. With a grinding roar it pulled and I could feel my arm begin to separate below the shoulder, as my sight went red with suppressed pain and rage I fought down the scream threatening to climb up my throat. Fuuuuuucccccccckkkkk!!! With a pop, a wet snap, and a flood of blood my arm came free. As the golem dropped the severed arm into the pool next to me it paused and looked at me carefully, reaching out my other arm even as I used my eye of restoration on the stump of my severed arm. I decided to watch one of my arms regrow instead of being ripped off, with a pained sigh I growled out words I knew I would soon regret. “Hah, hah… Keep… Going…”