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475 Inside the Dungeons, Selecting the Slaves

 Day ▋▋ - ▋▋:▋▋ ▋▋ - Inner Dungeons, Stone Fortress, Eastern Mountain, Spirit Dimension

The dungeons of the Stone Fortress, being called that name, many would think that it was a gloomy place that no one would want to go.

This place held those that committed crimes within the territory of the King of the Brown Duendes. As such, many thought that it would be the worst place to be. Those that were brought here for their crimes learned that it was the opposite.

The Dungeons of the Stone Fortress was not a dark place.

It was a bit dim, but definitely not dark. The gloomy flames of torches or braziers were nowhere to be seen. Instead, the walls were inlaid with glowing magical stones that released light like a fluorescent lamp.

And the most noticeable thing, unlike how it was in most castle dungeons where the walls and floors were rough and dirty, it was different in the Stone Fortress.

The Brown Duendes was a proud race in terms of earthen architecture. Even their dungeons had smooth walls and floors. The corridors inside were not any different from the hallways outside. And the cells were being cleaned thoroughly every day. The cells even had their own place for comfort. This way, the cleanliness was further maintained in the dungeons.

Looking at it, it did not look like any prison at all if not for the metal bars imprisoning the criminals.

It was a pleasant-looking place, except for one large cell, where the walls were cracked, the metal bars were bent, and the floor was smashed to pieces. They have yet to repair the damage done by a particular outraged individual the other day because of the battle with the Giant and the Celebration yesterday.

About the security, it was nowhere to be found. It was not that there were no guards, but rather, they were hidden in small slots in the walls. Duendes, after all, were tiny people. Aside from the guards hiding, there were also the statues. These were not just decorations but were actual gargoyles. However, unlike the demon-like ones that were seen in movies, the appearance of the ones here was different. They looked like sculptures of the races making no one suspect until they saw the statues move.

As for the people being held inside, there was quite a variety.

Many of them were criminals before the outbreak. At present times, however, most of them were criminals driven to the edge after the apocalypse started.

Different races were being held inside.

There were quite a number of Tikbalangs, though. This race of horseheads was among the most troublesome race after all. And even though they were directly related to the half-horse women of the Anggitays, the men and women were complete opposites. Of course, it was entirely to the individual's choice. After all, there were more decent ones than the actual troublesome fellows.

Unlike the first group, however, Danaya did not recommend the others. It was because they were involved in more substantial crimes. Mostly because of their high libido. They were those that could not control their lust and resorted to forcing others as an outlet. Thus, Mark would surely not like them in the slightest.

As Mark was free to look at the cells, Danaya and Merio followed behind him, Mei and Aephelia.

And to say, Mark had some complaints inside him. It was okay if they were ugly. However...

'Why in the world that most of these creatures look hideous?!'

However, he could not really blame anyone. Even if one were to list all known Mythological Creatures of the Philippines, around seventy-five percent of that list would be hideous looking creatures. Thus, avoiding the repulsive-looking ones, he decided to look at the others.

He wanted those that could be of use in terms of strength and capabilities, not those that could scare the enemies to death just by their appearance. Furthermore, these creatures might not only scare the enemies. Even their allies might flee.

Looking around the cells, Mark found some intriguing fellows.

One of what Mark saw in those spacious and taller cells was an Agta. A giant man who was about three meters tall. These creatures live in large trees and smoke cigars. Many thought them to be related to Kapres. However, they looked too different. Their skin was pitch black that they could be seen like a shadow even during the night. And unlike the Kapres, their bodies were not hairy. They were known to do many petty things, though there were no stories of them inflicting harm on people.

This guy was not really ugly or anything. However, aside from their skin color and height, they had no redeeming features either.

Thus... Pass for now.

Another was a Lampong, which Mark took some interest in. It was rather strange to see a beautiful, white deer with red eyes being imprisoned in the cell. But remembering its appearance, he was not deceived. This fellow was surely an Old Dwarf in disguise. A kind of creature known to shepherd deers.

In another cell, there as a red-skinned man with slightly pointed ears, yellow eyes, and green scaly hair. And seeing this man, Mark immediately asked about why he was imprisoned.

This man was known by the race named Tamahaling. They were Earth Spirits that live in balete trees. And the only thing they were known for was their love for animals. When the Wind Spirits called Sylphs had the title of Callers of the Wind, the Tamahaling were titled as Keeper of Animals.

After hearing the question, Merio immediately supplemented the needed information.

Apparently, this Spirit managed to reach this place after the infected attacked their home. He was together with some of the animals he was keeping. However, he came while being chased by some infected creatures. Panicked, he did not realize that a sentry was trying to stop him from suddenly entering the forest. Thus, the sentry was run over by his beasts, and they entered the forest. And because of the illusion, he got lost inside and was separated from his animals.

In that incident, the sentry was also taken aback as his call to stop them was not heard. Furthermore, the animals the Tamahaling was riding and the herd behind were very agile animals. He was hit by the stampede with minor injuries. However, even if that was an accident, it was an offense against the soldiers of the Eastern Fortress. Furthermore, his animals caused a ruckus inside the Forest of Illusions, causing more injuries to those that tried to stop them.

The animals could not be accounted for the harm done, the owner was. And thus, he was held here. The animals, on the other hand, had already turned to supplies of the fortress. It was a rather harsh punishment for an accident, but that was how it was here.

Mark decided to pick this one and the Old Dwarf who had the offense of killing a few people.

Why?

The Old Dwarf had a pet white deer that he cherished. However, some of the races decided to steal it. The Dwarf managed to find the thieves...

They were amidst grilling his friend whole.

The Old Dwarf flew onto rage and killed some of the offenders and causing a ruckus among the refugees. He ended up injuring even those that were innocent. He was caught along with those thieves that survived.

Aside from these two, Mark found it hard to find other interesting ones. Of course, he decided to take those Sylphs imprisoned in the dungeon. There were ten of them. Nine were caught for stealing fruits. One was rather unique though. She was caught trying to explore the fortress, even the parts that visitors were not allowed. Of course, she would be imprisoned.

At the end of the first level of the dungeon, Mark found another interesting one. It was actually a Dryad. This one was caught for infiltrating the personal garden of the Queen. Apparently, she wanted to find a good place for her to take root. She thought that the garden would be suitable for her and take root there.

It caused some precious magical plants the queen was raising to wither as the trees of Dryads require large amounts of nutrients to maintain itself without absorbing it from other people. And of course, she was caught for Royal Offense. However, this dryad was rather hard-headed and did not want to take the blame. Thus, she was still being held here.

In the first level, aside from the group of Tikbalangs, and Sylphs, Mark only chose three.

When the three heard that they would be taken in as slaves, they were not comfortable with it. However, instead of being banished, it might be better if someone was to take them. When the Old Dwarf and the Tamahaling heard that Mark decided to take them to take care of animals in his base, they readily agreed. That was how they live their lives and wanted to continue it.

As for the Dryad...

"Him? My master? I don't want to. He looks ugly."

That was her reply.

Hearing that, Mark shrugged. He was not offended by the least. If she did not want to, then she did not have any choice.

The person who was called ugly had no problem. But it did not mean that the ones beside him were the same.

The Dryad wanted to throw more insults and make Mark not want to take her, but she could only gulp with fear. A black knife already had its blade touching her throat. She might not be afraid if there was a tree nearby or she was connected to one. However, she was currently in her true body. This knife would surely kill her.

Mark sighed.

"Mei'er you don't have to do that."

That was right. After Mark was called ugly by this girl, Mei appeared inside the cell in an instant and held her knife on the Dryad's neck.

Even Aephelia was not able to react. Well, it was not like she was against it. Someone had just insulted her master. It was a capital offense.

"Gege, what do you want to do with this thing?"

Mei asked.

"Nothing. Just return here."

Mark replied. However, Mei really wanted to inflict at least a wound on the Dryad.

"Mei'er, just don't bother. I rather have you by my side rather than inside that cell."

Hearing that, Mei finally agreed to let the Dryad go. She appeared beside Mark in a flash.

As for the Dryad inside, she fell unto her knees. That was surely a frightening experience for her. Even the guards of the queen that caught her did not release such kind of bloodlust.

While she was trying to recover from that fear, Mark spoke.

"I already chose you so you don't have a say in this. Just behave if you don't want to be killed."

And thus, the Dryad could only nod weakly.

Yesterday, Mark and Aephelia received five girls for training and because Dryads do not live in tribes and all were women, there as no dryad among those five.

Mark wanted this one so she could take control of the plants and trees around the base and use them for defense. Even if this girl did not want to, a slave crest would surely make her agree.

Then, since the Dryad was in the last cell on the first level, what they faced now was a door.

"Can we go below?"

Mark asked Danaya and Merio.

"Are you sure?"

Danaya wanted to confirm.

The door leads to the second level, where the cannibals and murderers were being held. Of course, this level was not comparable to the third level. However, it was still not good either.

"Well, if you can give some, I don't mind."

Mark said.

Although Mark was going to be given some slaves in exchange for the Brigands, it did not mean that he could only take slaves. For others, these repulsive creatures that committed murder were nothing but manual labor and useless after being killed, to him, it was different.

It was fine if these criminals were given to him. Even more acceptable if the crimes they did were punishable by death.

What Mark needed was not their lives. What he wanted to get were more crystals.