Kan Shaoni had been exploring inside for almost five hours as the evaluator of the Dark Souls Nightmare Dungeon.
She was truly an elite of the Dream Exploration Bureau of the Celestial Empire. Despite being over thirty years old, she still defeated Iudex Gundyr.
The sense of achievement of beating a strong enemy gave her the motivation to keep exploring the High Wall of Lothric.
Kan Shaoni found a treasure chest, but before she could see what was inside opening it, a slimy tongue suddenly stuck out. At the same time, sharp teeth appeared on the edges of the treasure chest.
Then, two long slimy arms stretched out from the two sides of the chest and held onto Kan Shaoni's waist… pulling her directly inside the "treasure chest."
The sharp teeth on both edges of the treasure chest kept biting her. Kan Shaoni's Health Points soon bottomed out.
The notification "YOU DIE" appeared before her eyes. Kan Shaoni immediately woke up from the nightmare…
"Symptoms of slight damage in her mind and memory."
"Delayed damage, internal bleeding in the stomach! Damage level is medium."
The beeping sounds of the medical equipment around Kan Shaoni rang in her ears. As an experienced Dream Explorer, Kan Shaoni soon realized she had already returned to reality.
She cooperated with the medical workers around her, who were evaluating her body condition.
Originally, since Kan Shaoni had been wounded in the past, the evaluation of Dark Souls should be done by the Dream Explorers of the Central Research Institute.
However, Kan Shaoni felt like she should help Qiu Ren with something. Besides, she had confidence in her abilities that she would be able to evaluate the degree of danger and characteristics of this Nightmare Dungeon, Dark Souls, most efficiently.
"How's the final result?"
Kan Shaoni covered her aching belly. The old wound in her heart was also stimulated.
"The data of the evaluation is out. 'Dark Souls' is a Nightmare Dungeon of delayed damage. Its degree of damage is medium. The risk assessment shows that it still needs to be stored in the Central Research Institute. After you defeated Iudex Gundyr, the damage you suffered was reduced for a while. And when you absorbed the unowned souls in the nightmare, the subsequent damage was also reduced a bit. At the same time, your mental strength had a tendency to rise slightly."
A researcher handed Kan Shaoni the evaluation report and the monitoring data of her body condition after he finished reporting.
"Maybe when I killed that nightmare guardian, the sense of achievement that surged in my mind alleviated the pain caused by previous torture and more than ten deaths. Even though it's tormenting, I haven't felt the pleasure of defeating a powerful enemy for a long time. I must say the design of this Nightmare Dungeon is indeed impressive… Speaking of design… Hm…"
Kan Shaoni trailed off as she stared at Qiu Ren, who was standing behind the attending doctors. The moment she saw him, she jumped off the bed, then rushed over to him.
"Qiu Ren! What's the treasure chest that has teeth and eats people?"
Kan Shaoni vividly remembered the feeling of being devoured by the treasure chest monster. It was much worse than dying in the traps on the death tower. It might not be as painful, but it still left her terrified.
"It's a treasure chest monster… Other games have it too? It's a very practical design." Qiu Ren remembered that there were all sorts of designs of treasure chest monsters in the games in this world, so it wasn't anything new to put it in Dark Souls.
"What about those enemies who always hide in corners and shadows?"
Kan Shaoni started asking about those malicious designs in the Nightmare Dungeon, as if she had caught the culprit.
"They hide in the shadows to wait for the enemies to come… Doesn't it make sense?" Qiu Ren's reply made Kan Shaoni speechless for a second.
"What about the dogs? Why do the dogs in the Nightmare Dungeon run faster than I do? Why are they so agile, and why are there so many of them?" Kan Shaoni had run around the High Wall of Lothric once. The enemies she didn't want to see the most were dogs, packs of dogs.
It wasn't a problem for her to fight one-on-one with the Lothric Knight, but those zombie hounds that came from nowhere were all so fast, as if they were equipped with jet engines. Their agile movements made her a bit helpless.
"Dogs… always run faster than humans."
What Qiu Ren said made Kan Shaoni gather her wits. The doctors and researchers all looked at her with a concerned gaze.
They seemed to be asking, "Captain Kan, do you need mental treatment?"
Kan Shaoni covered half of her face with an embarrassed look. She then immediately took Qiu Ren out of this dream-entering room.
They still had a meeting to attend. On the way to the conference room, Qiu Ren got the evaluation report of the Nightmare Dungeon, "Dark Souls." There were two results in the report that caught his attention.
"Captain Kan, what does 'having the potential to be a pledged dungeon' mean in the report?" Qiu Ren pointed at the last line in the report and asked.
"A pledged dungeon can actually be called an affiliate dungeon. Anyway, it means that only the Dream Explorer responsible for dealing with the dream invasion can have contact with the dungeon. It's easy to understand. Taking our current enemy, the Dream Eaters, as an example, the Dream Dungeon they chose to affiliate with is 'Superhero World.' That's their source of power when they invade the other worlds."
When Kan Shaoni left the dream-entering room, she had taken a tablet the Central Research Institute used for internal operation. She swiped on the tablet and showed Qiu Ren a screenshot.
That was a picture of Herring from Team T of the Dream Eaters. She was facing Gundyr with her daggers.
Every detail of the invasion of the Dream Eaters was monitored by the Central Research Institute. The two daggers made of an unknown metal in Herring's hands weren't things from the world of Dark Souls.
"Her two daggers are called Concealed Claws. They're weapons used by the villains in a Dream Game under Superhero World, 'Dark Side.' The Dream Dungeon she is affiliated with should be 'Dark Side.' So, she could bring the weapons in 'Dark Side' into the world of 'Dark Souls' during the invasion. Luckily, Dark Souls is a Level S Nightmare Dungeon. If not, when these Dream Eaters invaded it, they might not be using these cold weapons only. They might even have other powers from Superhero World."
Kan Shaoni's explanation was, in fact, easy to understand… It was impossible for everyone's core dreams to be marketable movies or games.
The Dream Eaters were professional soldiers on active duty or veterans who had retired from the battlefield. They certainly didn't have the energy and sense of art to perfect their Dream Dungeons. So, during their invasions, they must rely on the existing famous Dream Dungeons to provide them with power.
Herring and that Dream Dungeon Game called "Dark Side" had made a pledge, or affiliation, with each other. The power, equipment, and weapons she got in "Dark Side" could be brought into the world of "Dark Souls" in an intrusive way.
But for the other way round…
"So, Captain Kan… do you think any of those invaders will consider Dark Souls as their pledged dungeon?" Qiu Ren's question froze the expression on Kan Shaoni's face.
"There might be a teeny bit of possibility when they kill those dogs without being injured someday! Besides, using a Nightmare Dungeon as the source of power of their dream worlds is an act of betrayal only mad people can make."
Kan Shaoni didn't think any of the Dream Eaters would be so stupid to betray their organization and run to the world of Dark Souls to suffer as a Lord of Cinder, instead of holding onto the super-strong support of Superhero World.
Anyone who was a little sane knew how to choose!