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Chapter 108: Revealed

Styx stood in a large laboratory where most of his latest research and experimental products took place.

There were currently over a thousand miners freed up after the mana shaft dig, many of which be repurposed into expanding the dungeon by digging new areas, including his new throne room. There were others which would be placed in the mines, extracting iron, copper, tin, and many other ores.

The mana shaft had also revealed giant ores of gems and other new materials too, which all needed mining and their own manufacturing lines for processing. With all the excessive materials, and now over abundance of mana to use, his next task was increasing his production capabilities.

One means was to replicate his current production lines several times, but this consumed an enormous amount of space and increased the time material spent in transit.

The better option was to upgrade his current devices, mainly the T1 Conveyer Belt and then the T1 Item Picker. A T2 version of each item would allow for more items to be processed along the same line, while also allowing him to increase the efficiency.

"Urgh, why is this so difficult!" Styx shouted in frustration in the laboratory after his experimental T2 Item Picker began to slow down while missing several items.

Beatrice and Rhea were assisting him with taking notes, drawing diagrams and assisting with design suggestions.

Beatrice eyed Rhea's swelling stomach with envy, her now well into her pregnancy and embodying one of the former's deepest desires.

"I'm sorry, I don't know enough about magic to be able to input anything," Rhea bowed her head in regret.

Styx's problem with the T2 upgrade was that such an upgrade brought an entirely new set of challenges, both on the mechanical and magical side.

The T2 Conveyer Belt wasn't overly difficult, it just had to move faster, but still needed a new design for a track to grip onto ores and items better and prevent slipping when they were placed on or taken off.

The T2 Item Picker was much harder as the faster the claw arm-like device moved, the more precise it had to be and smaller the margin of error could be. The existing design and magic array system could not accommodate this, so he redesigned it from the ground up.

The arm was a bit more bulky due to additional springs and wheels in it, and the mana arrays had been completely redesigned too.

"Let me have a look at it again…"

Styx turned the device on again and the array it was installed on, alongside several one the arm itself lit up.

He tweaked the array and tested it on several items, but the problem persisted as once it moved too fast, it would start to get out of sync and slow down to a crawl, missing most items altogether.

"Fuuu… New problems need new solutions. This on is back to the drawing board to understand why this is happening, and a new solution."

"Yes," Beatrice quickly scribbled into the notes the particular failures of the device to investigate.

Just as they were moving onto the next item, Styx tilted his head in puzzlement.

"Why are all the merchants hurriedly leaving our town?"

"What do you mean?"

"The monsters are watching many of the merchants in the dungeon town hurriedly packing up and leaving. It is strange."

Styx also contacted Therina and Irie, but they also didn't know what was going on.

"Someone is deliberately hiding things from me…" Styx muttered with a dark expression.

~~~~~

Duchess Euklid sat down beside her daughter, who had been much more silent these days than she used to be.

It was like she had become someone else entirely during her imprisonment at the malicious dungeon, even though it wasn't anything particular about her that seemed all that different. It was just an agglomeration of many little things

Rebecca watched the mana flow through her mother's body like an intricate network of tree roots and secretly sighed in admiration. She knew her mother was extremely powerful, much like Duke Ashburn, but even then, she had still severely underestimated her.

She currently suspected that had any of the Third Step guards fought her, they would lose instantly despite being at the same tier of strength.

"Becca, you have been smiling much less lately."

"I have been smiling plenty, mother."

"Do you think a mother can't tell when her own daughter's smile is fake? You are trying to swindle a swindler, I have much more experience than you."

Duchess Euklid wrapped her daughter in her arms and embraced her.

"I am still the same, mom. I'm just… conflicted. I don't know what to do."

"For now, we will be returning home with me to Orchidia."

"No."

"What?"

"Eh, what? Sorry, I spoke without thinking."

"Why would you want to stay?"

"Well, we didn't achieve the duke's support in helping defending Orchidia, did we? Home is in a desperate situation."

"His son died, on the alter no less. Well, he collapsed on the alter. Even though you two weren't officially married, I will be lucky if you aren't considered a widow or unlucky in the eyes of the nobles."

"…I can still do it. There are other noble houses who won't consider things that way. If we move fast-"

"Enough, Becca. We can try again in the future, but for now, we need to leave the city."

"…Why? I don't understand, mom."

Duchess Euklid bit her lip and lowered her voice, ensuring that only her daughter could hear and no potential eavesdroppers.

"Becca, I'm not supposed to tell you this as there is a silence order from the capital, and speaking of it is treason, but there are already rumors beginning to spread... The capital has dispatched a force of 40,000 Third Step soldiers to exterminate the dungeon where you were held captive…"

"What? Why?"

Rebecca's eyes opened wide in shock, whilst her confused emotions only fell further into turmoil.

"I don't know, everyone is keeping quiet as it seems this attack is supposed to capture that illegal dungeon lord unprepared. I do suspect that the disturbance from the Abyssal Forest a while ago is likely related though. It's hard to say for certain."

"Mother, they have a very powerful Fifth Step Monster Lord protecting the dungeon, those soldiers would be decimated!"

"You see the problem. What do you think will happen after that?"

"…They would seek revenge."

"Yes, and this dungeon city is the nearest stronghold of our kingdom. Duke Ashburn also isn't in his right mind either. He can handle losses on the battlefield, but his son dying truly stabbed him in the heart. I don't know what they are thinking, but I hope they have planned for the Monster Lord in advance."

"No, it isn't just one! There is another, much, much stronger too."

"Rebecca Euklid… what was that?"

"There is a second Monster Lord."

"…Why are you only just saying this now?"

"What do you mean why? I'm telling you, aren't I?"

The duchess looked at her daughter with an increasingly estranged look. She didn't know what it was, but there was something off about her daughter.

"Enough of this, we are going home immediately, before we are caught in the revenge strike of now two Monster Lords. Go wake your friends and pack your things, now."

The duchess left in a hurry to file a secret report to the incoming troops to prevent any plans they had catastrophically falling apart.

As Rebecca sat in the room alone, a dark, sinister voice echoed in her mind, so cold it sent shivers down her spine.

"I see… that is what's going on."

~~~~~

Duchess Euklid tied a wax sealed letter to the ankle of a hawk like bird.

There were magical means of communication, but there was no interconnected network throughout the kingdom and communicating long distances was incredibly cumbersome. It took a huge amount of mana gems to power such a formation, while even the adventurer's and other global guilds kept intercity and interkingdom communications down to compact messages that could be sent at lower costs.

Not to mention she would not be able to connect to the incoming battalion of Third Step soldiers to warn them of the second Monster Lord.

Thanks to the mana restriction, the bird was a heavily used means of sending messages among nobility, army commanders, and even common citizens. It was expensive to own a bird, but plenty of companies provided affordable intercity postal services and received a vast number of customers as a result.

Being just a common bird, it held a weak presence and even monsters didn't care enough to attack them, meaning letters were usually delivered without mishap.

This message contained everything she knew about the dungeon to the capital, who could then relay the information to the marching army.

This was one of Duke Ashburn's messenger hawks, his wife having given her agreement to using it while she also tried to get through to her husband about the dangers.

She sat the bird on a strange magic array, the system of magic not one she was familiar with, and selected the royal capital. Information on where to go was directly imprinted on the bird's mind and it immediately flew into the air.

"I can only pray now…"

~~~~~

As the messenger hawk flew enroute to the Maple Dragon Kingdom capital, the sky above it suddenly shot out a bolt of lightning. There was no prior warning, not so much as a cloud, and the messenger bird didn't detect it either before it was turned to charcoal, the message it was carrying crumbling to ash as it fell from the sky in an unknown wasteland of the kingdom.


CREATORS' THOUGHTS
Wolfick Wolfick

Back to the main story, and the rapidly approaching epilogue of Volume 2.

What will happen, how will it happen... I will let you all discuss your own theories and perhaps one of you will get close~

It is super late and I have to be up early for work, so I hope you enjoy, there are a bunch of great chapters on the way. I'm writing this tired, so while I fixed a few typos, I'm sure there are more than usual. I apologize in advance!

Don't forget to send those powerstones, help push this book up higher in the charts ^.^

Goodnight,

W

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