[Remember why we came down here guys?]

[To escape our responsibilities?]

[No! Crinis, what the hell?!]

[Sorry, Master! I- I thought you said -]

[Never mind what I said! Those are things we keep between us. Special secrets that we never utter out loud.]

[But we aren't talking out loud?]

[Besides the point! No, let's focus on the other important reasons we're here.]

Crinis raises one of her thin tendrils to scratch herself on the top of her sphere.

[Well. We're here so you can absorb mana and survive long term…]

[Mission accomplished on that front. My core is ticking along great down here.]

[Wonderful!] Crinis considers again for a moment. [We also came to get experience and Biomass for Tiny and myself.]

[Right. Since we don't get much experience up above, or Biomass, we should find more challenging, highly evolved monsters down here.]

[And we want to scout out the strata for the colony, since the Queen will need to come down here eventually.]

[She will, and soon.]

[And you wanted to try and find traces of others like you.]

[Correct! More like myself and Garralosh. According to the Sophos, there are a few of us down there in the depths. I'd love to hear what they've been up to, so long as they managed to hold onto a little sanity.]

I think for a moment.

[Does it bother you that I was from another world and resurrected here as a monster, Crinis?]

[No? Why would it?]

[Uh. I have no idea. Perhaps you would think I wasn't a proper monster since I used to be a human?]

[Pfft. Master? Not a proper monster? Surely you're joking with me!]

Eh?

[What do you mean?]

[Come now, Master. I don't think you'll find another monster that's as strong…]

Well I mean, that's true.

[… or as wise…]

I am known far and wide for my great wisdom, it's true!

[… or as savage…]

Natura- … wait, what now?

[… as cruel and relentless…]

Hold on, really?!

[… merciless and ambitious as my Master!]

[That's really how you think of me?]

[Of course!]

Ouch. That's some serious psychological damage you're inflicting there Crinis. You don't even realise it, either. Actually, somehow that makes it worse. Am I really that nasty? I mean, I've done some stuff, but cruel? Savage?! I'm not confident that Crinis' views can be trusted on this one. She has a strange slant sometimes. In my mind I'm a perfectly lovable ant monster.

We finish munching on the Biomass of the defeated Shadow Beasts and I'm interested when a notification pings from the System.

[Master profile of the Dark Ghoul unlocked.]

Oh? I've not checked in on my unlocked profiles for a long time, but Formo did say that the master profile was a way of peering into the mind of the Dungeon itself. Which he seemed to think was important. There's no harm in it, so I may as well take a look.


Idly munching I bring up the full profile for the.. Dark Ghoul.

Master Profile:

[Tenebris Pallidi: Dark Ghoul, A Shadow Affinity monster with powerful claws and tricky movement. Beware the Shadows.]

Might: 56

Toughness: 33

Cunning: 15

Will: 18

Current Evaluation:

The Dark Ghoul is an iterated version of early base design Shadow Creatures. Despite the age and relatively crude design, the Pallidi has proven to be an enduring monster archetype, the Shadow variant particularly so. Perturbations were introduced to the evolutionary tree of the creature this cycle to attempt to find a better pathway to carry forward, as higher tier versions haven't lived up to the base monster's efficiency.

Interesting. So it seems these Dark Ghouls have been around for a long time, since the Dungeon finds them to be successful monsters, but the evolved versions are underwhelming? I've yet to see much of the evolved versions of this monster. No doubt I'll run into plenty down here. Not that I want to do too much fighting just yet. I think it'll be better if Tiny and I can acclimate to the conditions in this strata a bit before we go too crazy.

To that end, I decide it may be best if we leave this main passageway and explore a few side tunnels. We're less likely to run into any big bads, or stumble into an expanse if we stick to the smaller passages. If we use the body analogy, these big tunnels are the main arteries that connect the organs, or expanses, together. The smaller tunnels are like capillaries, the little veins that are useful for hiding and settling smaller monsters in. Sadly, I no longer fit in all of these but there are some that are larger than the others and I can get around alright.
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I direct the team to the left wall, dodging around some more weird corals and I stop when I feel something wrap around my leg. Not feeling too threatened I look down and notice the waving fronds another small plant like thing. It almost appears like seaweed. Long and wide leaves that float through the air as if we were underwater. I didn't notice them since this specimen seems quite small, less than a metre tall, just enough to wrap up the tip of one of my legs.

I pull my leg free with ease but when I do, a sharp stab of cold pierces into me. Ouch! What the heck was that?! Bringing my eyes closer for a better look, I spy small needle points line the edges of the fronds. It appears this stupid plant stabbed me! If only my legs were as tough as the rest of me…

I will have vengeance. Without mercy I turn and unleash a blast of acid at the offending seaweed and watch with satisfaction as it bubbles away to nothing. Still, checking my HP I notice that I've only taken a single point of damage from that strike, but the cold feeling remains, as if ice were injected in my veins. Poison is a strong possibility here.

[Crinis?]

[Yes, Master?]

[Could you cut the end of my leg off?]

[!?]

[Please?]

Protesting, but not as strongly as I'd expected she would, Crinis wraps the stinging leg in one tentacle and her barbs do the rest. Thankfully I can regenerate half a leg in no time flat. Ten minutes later and we are back on the move, wary of poison plant things.

Within another ten minutes we locate a side tunnel with enough headroom to accommodate Tiny and myself, so we plunge forth. The narrower space gives a sense of comfort in this lightless environment and I feel a little more secure, less worried about creatures springing from nowhere.

At least the - Oh god! Creepy spider!

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