Harvest Dungeon Chapter 51
51 Chapter 51
"Give them a chance. Buying the seeds from them is cheaper than making them through the dungeon." Zephirah replied. "Just be ready to cut their connection."
I looked over at the sprite. Did she really want me to give the company a second chance just to save a bit of energy?
Obviously Zephirah had been able to hear my thoughts as she rolled her eyes. "It isn't a little energy Jason. Besides they are our best source for the rarer seeds. That is where the real money is, not including bonuses that we can get from them for ourselves.
"She is right Jason." Lilian spoke up from Candice's shoulder. "The dungeon masters who have access to the rare plants guard them zealously."
"Still not selling me on this. Just because they have the plants doesn't mean they are going to be willing to sell them. They have only offered uncommon plants so far and only with impossible requirements." I responded.
"Still should wait them out." Selia offered.
"And if they are preparing a force to come in and take the core back?" I asked. "It is their normal response when the relationship between them and the dungeon master becomes strained."
Everyone was silent. "If that is what they have planned, cutting off their only access to speak with us won't help. They already know our coordinates." Zephirah pointed out.
I looked at the sprite critically. She had made two calls before and both times had ended badly for me.
I knew she could read my thoughts but she seemed unphased by that thought as she stared back at me resolutely.
"They aren't likely to try and take the core back." Vanessa said. "Their forces are trained to handle the first three tiers of the dungeon trials. While they do have stronger forces they would be aware of the fact that we have swarms coming in. Even if it is the same person calling in favors, I doubt the company and dungeon master acting against us are cooperating."
I sighed. "That is a lot of ifs, and an assumption that we are facing another dungeon master." I told them seriously. "And to date the company hasn't done anything to help me."
The girls were quiet after that.
"What about those seeds we got from Seth?" I asked Selia.
Selia tilted her head to the side. "I still haven't been able to identify them, but I can tell that they all require fire mana. The simple fact that I can't identify them means then are either uncommon or rare plants. Unfortunately that means we still need access to the common fire plants like red grass." Selia replied.
I nodded then looked to Zephirah. "How much trouble would it be to get samples of the common plants we might need. The company might be cheaper, but" I said and left it hanging.
Zephirah was silent for a moment as she stared into empty space. "I can get a few, but we have to be careful. It isn't uncommon for some dungeon masters to mix a little extra into the seeds they send in an effort to sabotage others. As dungeon masters themselves they know how I would examine them so" she replied.
I nodded. "Fine, try to find reliable sources for the seeds we might need the most. Hold off on purchasing anything for now." I told her aloud. Mentally I sent a different message. 'Buy it.'
"Any other thoughts?" I asked looking to the others.
I gave them a few more moments to consider other arguments but when they didn't come up with anything new I turned my attention to the orb. Even if I wanted to turn the thing off immediately I wasn't able too. I was positive I could break it if I needed too, but that didn't mean I could do it quickly. The orb had defensive measures to prevent a great deal of physical and magical damage. A precaution that I guessed was to ensure they could retrieve the core that was supposed to be hidden within, no matter what happened to it. Especially as there wasn't likely to be anything that could threaten it within the first three tiers of the dungeon trial.
Examining the runes and the flow of power through the orb I was able to identify six major energy channels that were supplying the rest of the orb with the energy it needed to operate. While these channels were heavily protected to prevent destruction, I noticed that there wasn't anything preventing me from slightly inhibiting the flow. I couldn't out right block the flow of the energy but at each point where energy branched off the main lines I could add a little material cutting down the flow of energy beyond that point. It was a small change, but adding it together with the many branches that came off each main power line and the results would cause many of the runes to be without power. As the systems failed from lack of energy I would be able to make greater changes to the orb.
While I worked I tried to learn as much as I could. The orb was at a much higher level than anything I had seen before, and while it was impossible for me to understand all of it. I could still make out bits and pieces. Those bits and pieces increased my own knowledge about runes, how they worked, and what I could do to improve my own spells.
After a bit more study I was able to start recognizing some of the spells built into the orb. One was a shield I had expected it to have. It was what had prevented any beasts from attacking before I grew the Neglism. While I didn't think the shield would be enough to help in our current situation, as it seemed to work by redirecting the beasts attention away from the dungeon. I might be able to use it as the base for something else that could help us. In fact, the more I looked at that part of the orb the more I understood and an idea for the first level came to mind.
"Is that really necessary?" a new voice asked pulling me back from studying the orb.
I looked up to find a new woman standing in front of me. Like the last one she was just an image but she gave off a different aura than Noralin. She had short light blue hair which seemed to fit her child like face which didn't fit her well developed figure or the sense of age that her eyes gave off. Her pointed ears gave away the fact that she had to be some kind of elf which might explain her appearance.
"Good cop time?" I asked her curiously. I had no idea what they would offer us now, but I didn't think it would be anything that I would be able to accept. Not after they showed such a firm stance through Noralin.
The new woman chuckled, "Not exactly." she replied.
I rolled my eyes then returned my attention back to the orb.
"Aren't you going to at least listen to my offer?" the new woman asked surprised.
I paused to look back up at the woman. "What are you going to claim? Noralin acted on her own? The council or whoever is in charge reconsidered the situation and decided to be generous? Or is it a residual effect from Seth or his father having access to your company?" I asked looking back down at the orb.
The new woman coughed a bit uncomfortably. "No. None of the above. Well partly the first but not entirely." she told me.
I looked up at her again and waited for her to continue.
"It is just business. We were made a rather attractive offer, which we decided to accept. Nothing personal against you Jason." she told me. "Noralin, just acted a bit too early."
While I was mildly impressed by her apparent willingness to be honest, I had an idea as to what was going on now. I waited to hear what else they had to say. I might be on a tight schedule as there was probably another swarm coming, but I wouldn't help them explain themselves. Though I pondered if there might be a similar situation with the other party who was attacking us.
Without moving I sent a new thought to Zephirah. 'Is there any way we could reach out and discover which group or dungeon is messing with us?' I asked.
'I can put out some feelers, ask around. Oh! You think they aren't able to follow through with that deal too?' she asked mentally.
I didn't reply but I was sure she could feel my satisfaction that she figured it out.
'What if they can?' Zephirah asked me mentally.
'Then nothing changes.' I replied back mentally while maintaining my silence in front of the woman from the company.
My silence didn't seem to be what she expected from me.
The silence stretched for several long moments so I turned my attention back to the orb. I had already learned a lot and was eager for more. The plans for the first floor made it worth it already so I was curious what else I could discover.
"Jason." the woman called to regain my attention.
I looked back up at her and waited for her to continue.
"While the company approves of the deal we thought it might be best to talk to you in case we might be able to come up with a more beneficial deal." the woman told me.
I smiled at the new woman. "So you made a business deal to screw me over, again. Yes I do count you kidnapping me from my world and placing me here against my will. No reason for you to try and push that on Seth right now. He might have chosen me, but it is your standard practice. Then your representative acted before the deal had been sealed. Now the other party is reneging" I paused as a thought hit me. "Or they no longer have the item they promised you."
'Zephirah did the living water heart reappear in the bathtub?' I mentally asked.
There was a pause as Zephirah mentally checked.
The woman looked fairly uncomfortable. She looked off to the side, probably looking for some que from her superior or someone else.
'Yes!' Zephirah told me excitedly.
That was good and solved one issue. Whoever was working against us must have promised that living water heart to the company. It seems as if I was still underestimating it value.
Now that I was fairly sure of what had happened I turned my attention back to the orb. I didn't like the company, and I was sure they would try and screw us over again as soon as they had an opportunity. Zephirah seemed certain the seeds from the company would save us energy. I might not trust her judgement on some things anymore, but I was certain she would know whether this would make a large enough difference to be worth the risk.
'It is.' Zephirah told me. 'Even if we can only get a hold of a small portion of the uncommon plants or one rare plant, it will be worth the risk.' Zephirah reassured me. 'Especially now that we have the living water heart back.'
Twice she had let me down, though it was partly her dependence on a system that wasn't trustworthy, and some outside influence. I just hoped I wasn't making another mistake. Then again she had been able to resolve our food issue all on her own, so I could give her one more chance.
Suddenly the image in front of my disappeared and a new one replaced it. Again it was a woman, but this time she was white haired and looked old enough to match the hair color, she had a beauty that made it apparent that back in the day she had been a real stunner but it had faded with time. She also looked tired, frustrated, and angry. "Jason Nellis. I am Chairwoman Xesilia. The company would like to find a way to reenter a mutually beneficial agreement." she told me.
I narrowed my eyes but before I could say anything she continued. "As such we are sending you a gift through the dungeon exchange as a peace offering. Please review our gift and contact us when you are willing to talk." she told me then disappeared.
I looked over to Zephirah who was looking at nothing. "I am examining it. There appear to be seeds, items, and one living creature." I can not make out the type of seeds, materials, or creature." she told me.
"So is it a gift or a trap?" I asked.
Zephirah shrugged. "Can't know until we open it." she replied.
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