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One for the History Books (By Ezlo) (Non-Canon)
One for the History Books
Beethro scrutinized the cave opening from his vantage point on the top of a nearby hill. It looked dark and foreboding, as caves generally do. He really didn’t look forward to going in, but go in he must. He started to trudge toward it, back aching all the while.
“I’m really getting too old for this.” he muttered under his breath. Beethro technically was already retired, he had been since he escaped from The Underground Empire. He had started that jaunt hoping to find something related to mysteries of dungeon seeding, but had ended up overthrowing a hidden Empire and defeating an evil pit demon that had possessed his nephew Halph’s body. Nothing related to seeding had been found. Eventually he and Halph got out after three long years. Beethro immediately quit, sold the grill, and devoted all his time into solving the seeding problem by himself. He buried himself in old documents found in the back of the Smitemaster's Guild Hall and searched for early reports of seeding. After another three long years he finally had made some progress. It seemed that the first ever reported case of dungeon seeding was, as a matter of fact, in King Dugan’s Dungeon! Or as it was at that time, King Morfan's Manor.
“Not again!” Beethro had thought, but after further research he found a report from 20 years earlier stating that a cave not far from Morfan’s had filled up with monsters soon after being cleaned by an exterminator for practice. This being the only lead to check, Beethro set out to investigate it.
After stumbling down the hill, Beethro paused a moment to rub his back and think out loud.
"What in the Eighth am I doing? I don't even know what I'm looking for!" and with that, he entered the gloom.
A few yards in, when it started to get darker, he realized his mistake. He had brought a lantern, but he had nothing to light it with! He dug around in his pockets for something, anything, that could help him out.
"Greckles, cutting knife, pocket watch, what's an anntenea doing in here? Bit of a fuse, odd piece of rock, half-eaten roach burger... Wait! A piece of fuse!" With that he droped the six inch long piece of fuse on the ground, and stepped on it. Then he quickly picked it up and lit the lantern with the burning end.
"There!" he said with a smile of satisfaction on his face. And he set off again. Down the winding path he went. Passing all sorts of rocks and stalagmites and stalagtites and the like. On and on he trudged. Occasionally a lone wraithwing would flit by, but since he wasn't being paid to exterminate the cave he didn't bother with hunting it down. As he continued to walk down the lonely path he started to worry.
"This is starting to seem an awful lot like The High Path. I've been walking at least 15 minutes already, if I don't find anything in 45 minutes time, I swear I'm heading back." And on he trudged. Surprisingly enough though, within 5 minutes he could see a light at the end of the tunnel. With new found confidence he plodded onward. As he got closer he could tell that the light was not the light of a lantern or candle, but the oddly ambient light of a dungeon. Soon, tiles began appear on the ground instead of dirt. Upon closer inspection they seemed to belong to the now discontinued Palace style of decor.
"I'd better watch out for spiders!" Beethro muttered, "Spiders always seem to be around when you have a floor like this!" Sure enough, as soon as Beethro uttered those words, a spider ran out of the gloom ahead of him. He neatly stabbed it and it died in a shower of blood. But as Beethro started to walk forward, he found that his shoes were stuck. He glanced down, and gasped at what he saw.
“Flaming Fegundo! Spider webs! The highest I’ve seen them is way below even Rooted Hold! How did they get up here!” Spider Webs had the nasty habit of rooting you to the spot for a few minutes before losing their sticky fluid and dissolving. After scrutinizing the path ahead for further blockage he weaved his way through the web and made it to a much cleaner area of the hallway. In fact, as he looked around, he saw he had reached a dead end.
“But not quite an end,” Beethro said, “some sneaky sneak thought I’d miss that secret wall over there did he?” Beethro hacked his way through the wall into a secret vault on the other side. The vault contained everything from old vases to papers and even a few odds and ends that looked like the workings of a portable orb! Beethro picked up the only piece of information that might be useful to him, the papers. He pulled back the chair from a desk, sat down and began to read. As he read his eyes widened, his mouthed opened, and his mind triumphed! He now knew who started the seeding, why, and who was currently doing it now. It was all detailed in the few pages clutched in his hands! Shouting with glee, he ran toward the exit. But as he stepped on a block near the entrance to the passage proper, his foot suddenly gave way underneath a pressure-switch. A low rumble started from the back of the vault. Beethro recognized it at once.
“Jeebus… It couldn’t be. It just can’t! Not now, not now!” Beethro said as he watched for the tell-tale signs. Sure enough he soon saw a trickle of water from the back of the passage. It was The Flow. Beethro began to run as fast as his aching back would let him. Which didn’t seem to be fast enough. Since The Flow was trapped in a narrow passage it didn’t take long for it to begin gaining speed. Soon it was lapping at Beethro’s heels and he knew that his time had come. He couldn’t out race The Flow with his bad back, it was futile. All he could do was relax and let the acidic waves take him. And that he did.
But he soon realized that The Flow wasn’t caustic like it normally was back in Rooted Hold, here it was just water! Or actually, that would’ve been what he would have realized if he hadn’t of banged his head against a stalagmite, knocking him unconscious. Next thing he knew he was laying in a bed in his sister’s Vonnifa’s house.
“Uncle Beethro? Are you awake?” The voice belonged to his nephew Halph, who now at 20 years of age owned his own vegetarian restaurant “Leaf Juice Tavern: Home of the World’s Best Grassburger.” It had become an instant financial success, becoming much more popular in the first month than the “The Roasted Roach Grill” ever had. He was also the only one who Beethro had told about his continuing quest to solve the seeding issue.
Beethro sat up, his head hurt like a thousand Gondola Wasps had made a nest in his skull.
“Yeah, I’m up. How long have I been out?”
“About two days. The new river washed you up right in front of Weskin’s house. Or, what remains of the Weskin’s house. It got washed away. Fortunately they were the only ones to be damaged. It flowed straight through town and down the mountain into the River Dugan. Did you manage to find any information this time?” Beethro franticly dug into his pockets looking for the papers, hoping against all hope that they were safe. He found them a little damp, but they were still readable. He gave them to Halph and he began to read aloud.
This diary is the only thing that is going to keep me sane! Living among these idiot surface dwellers is so mind numbing that it almost makes me want to run back to the Empire and their silly rules again. But that is not possible. I have been exiled and they would never let me back again. The only thing that makes me happy is my new found job. To earn currency for my day-to-day life I have taken up a job they call “Exterminating.” The job requires me to go down into the dungeons of the surface-dwellers and smite the “monsters” that have taken root there. Every roach I stab feels like I have struck a blow against the Empire itself. Plus, since I know all the inner workings of all the monsters I have proved quite efficient at it. They have bestowed upon me the highest ranking for one of my profession. Smitemaster they call it. There is even talk of me becoming hallholder of the Smitemaster’s Guild someday. There is only one problem, there is a limited supply of dungeons to clean. Knowing the bureaucratic system of the Empire, waiting for them to give the Architect’s more monsters to put in the dungeons will take ages, so I have figured out a system myself. In each dungeon I have cleared, I have placed an item that looks like a standard floor tile, but is actually a carefully designed trapdoor. Controlled by a instrument panel hidden in my office in the Guild hall, it will open up and reproduce all sorts of monsters that will spread across the dungeon. Now I can have a steady supply of dungeons to clean so I can be happy. On another note, I think it almost time to tell Bombus about his heritage, he was only a baby when all non-engineered citizens were exiled from the Empire, he doesn’t remember it at all. I hope he will take it well.
The rest of the papers went on to describe his promotion to hallholder status and his training of his son Bombus in how to work the monster breeder so he could take his place. After finishing with the last entry, Halph sat for a few minutes, stunned speechless. Eventually though he spoke up.
“So, Bombus Gadhan was originally a citizen of The Rooted Empire? And he and his father have been secretly seeding dungeons so they could have fun?”
“That’s the idea.” Said Beethro, “I always wondered why Godric appointed his son as the next hallholder when he died, Bombus never seemed to like delving at all.”
“But now that you know, who are you going to tell? No one will believe this!”
“I’m going to talk to Bombus himself.” Beethro said while standing up. Ignoring Halph’s warnings, he left Vonnifa’s house and headed for the Guild Hall. It took him a good half-hour to figure out how to cross the newly formed river to the other side of town, and another half-hour to answer all of Old Lady Grunderkin’s requests about how he was doing in every aspect of his life. So by the time he reached the hall it was already after sunset. He entered the building and headed back to Bombus’ private office. When he got to the door, he took a big breath, and knocked.
“Is it important?” Bombus’ voice cried out from behind the door.
“Bombus, I need to talk to you in private.” Beethro said in as steady a voice as he could manage.
“Come on in.” Bombus said as he opened the door. “Have a seat.” Beethro obliged.
“Now what’s the problem?” Bombus asked.
“Well, Bombus, you remember the three years I just disappeared from the guild while off business?”
“Yes, you said you were off traveling with your nephew.”
“Well, that’s not the whole story…” And so Beethro told Bombus everything from going down into Dugan’s Dungeon from the side entrance, to his encounter with the first of many slayers all the way to killing Halph to slay the Pit Demon and traveling the Underground Sea for the Great Spoostle Fish so he could resurrect Halph. But then he went further and explained his resignation as a Exterminator and continuing search for the cause of the seeding epidemic. At this Bombus got a little pale, which made Beethro even more determined to get to the end of his story, so he told him of his trip into the cave and the papers he found there, which he then showed Bombus. As he read them over, Beethro said:
“Please, after all these years of searching, I just need to know. Is this true?”
Bombus sat there silently for a while before saying, “Yes, every word of it is true. My father and I were exiled citizens of the Empire, and we have been seeding dungeons for decades now. But what of it? If I stop then roaches will cease to exist! With the Empire gone I am the only thing that’s keeping the common dungeon roach and countless other species from becoming extinct! I can’t just let them die out! They are a relic of an civilization that was way advanced beyond our dreams! Even if the rest of the world just doesn’t realize it, surely that counts for something!”
Beethro thought about what Bombus had said. He inwardly struggled with his view point of the roaches and tried to imagine what Bombus must be feeling. Eventually he said, “Put into that light I have to agree. It even turns into something of a noble cause! I’m sorry to have bothered you Bombus. Maybe we could pretend this never happened? I promise not to tell anyone.”
“Wait! I’m not done yet! I still have a problem! What happens when I retire? Who can continue my father’s legacy when I am gone? I have no children, and no one will believe our story about the Empire! All I need is someone who understands the poor dungeon creatures side and will continue to seed while I am gone! Someone young with enough social standing to influence the public opinion of the common roach and his cousins. But no one like that exists in the world! No one!”
Beethro had to crack a smile at this, he knew someone who fit that description like a glove. “Well, there is one person…”
The next month all anyone could do was talk about was Bombus Gadhan’s unexpected resignation and appointment of Halph Budkin as the next Hallholder. Even more so was Halph’s acceptance speech, proclaiming his plan for the building of an underground zoo where people could see all kinds of dungeon creatures in a safe and interactive environment. But as Beethro relaxed on his comfy chair is his messy living room, all he could do was congratulate himself on a job well done.