Gob picked up another ‘room as they wandered the forest. A few more sticky flowers and a few branches in his arms. Master Delta needed more ‘rooms, her dungeon was becoming filled with them and that had to mean she loved them that much.
Except in her special room, Gob understood. The orby room had to look impressive! Maybe it could do with some paint or sheep skins on the wall but Gob was not one to suggest silly things to the master.
Gob dreamed of a giant mushroom holding the master orb! Such… ‘roomness. Gob sighed, his tusks making his squat face looked delighted.
A branch broke and Gob turned, branch in one hand. He snarled as his brother, Hob came running with a large rock in hand.
They paused as a little man stared at them. The long hair and puffy fur it wore made the manchild look like some lamb. Hob hesitated and then looked to Gob for guidance.
“Man see us…” he said, clearly unhappy about being snuck up on by a manchild. Hob grunted.
“Smash?” he wondered and the manchild made a mewling sound and fell back as she tried to turn too fast.
Normal gob culture would dictate that if hungry, manchild was food. If full… it was toy. But this was no longer about Gob ways anymore.
A new element existed for them.
“I don’t… want to kill people.” Delta, the safe protector and rescuer of him and his brother, did not want man blood in her name.
“No smash. Let go… no time for games,” Gob reminded and quickly gathered up his forest bounty. Hob snorted and made a dismissive growl towards the lamb child. It got up and ran for the break in the trees where the forest ended and fields began. It stopped to look back and Gob gave it one last look before he ran off towards the dungeon. He heard another man calling, where there was manchilds there was plenty of mans.
One on one, they made gobs look weak,
To beat a man, a gob must be clever, quick and ready to die, or at least bring lots of other gobs. Gob grinned as he ran into the dungeon a few minutes later.
To beat a man in a dungeon, a gob only had to collect ‘rooms.
Delta pondered that she kept missing the changes in her menu due to her short attention span.
She hovered in the boss room, watching with pleasure as Bacon swallowed another mushroom. Her feelings towards these ignorant fungi was quite odd but Delta just accepted it. Aside from the vile taste, the mushrooms gave her an ample target of focus her anger on targets she could actually affect.
So, after focusing again, she looked at a new upgrade purchase she had missed.
Oh no. Whichever choice would Delta be forced to pick? What grand choice would she be forced to give u-
Delta mashed the boss upgrade ‘button’ with a furious scream.
Death to the mushrooms! Vile little demons, Delta would only spare her Mushys!
Fran just shook his head at her voice. Delta felt her face go pink and she quietly left the room as she had forgotten Fran, as well as all her monsters, could hear her. The Core room was grinding and shifting as she approached.
It didn’t take long to settle into its new decor. The singular earth spear that held her orb was now replaced with a pillar rising from the ground and another reaching down from the ceiling.
The two pillars met at her Core and sealed it into place. The orange light glowing slowly, looking like it had been unearthed and a stone platform around the middle of the room had been erected around the pillar as if to worship the orb in some manner. Only three steps separated the platform from the soil.
On either side of those steps was two medium statues of Fran on top of Bacon, holding their spears above the steps like a door arch one had to cross under. The two statues like mirrors, perfectly similar down to what Delta could see. The details weren’t amazing but it was good enough that Delta had no trouble making out Fran’s eyes in the slit of his helmet.
The pillars holding her orb had six sides and on the side facing the stairs. The title ‘Sir Fran, the Pig Knight’ was carved clearly,
It still left a lot of names for the other six sides, more if the top pillar could also hold names… and an almost endless amount if names could share space on a side…
Delta walked slowly around the room, feeling pride glow in her chest. Sure, she didn’t know this would be the result but Fran… the boss room… her new Core room.
Delta had earned it with the help of her monsters and her own general messing about. It wasn’t much in the grand, or any, scheme of things but… to her. This was important. This room symbolised one very important thing to her.
Delta slowed and sat on her new stairs, trying to pretend like she was hugging her knees.
Progress meant that she hadn’t given up. Delta hadn’t sat down and waited for someone to find her and… end her. Delta hadn’t cried, too scared to do anything while Hob and Gob never got the contracts. She hadn’t stopped trying even when the mushrooms made her feel ill.
Maybe… this room didn’t mean progress. Perhaps to adventurers, it would be the ultimate progression.
But to Delta?
She stood and stretched her arms wide as if refreshed by the room. It showed how brave she had been… and how silly this all was in the end. That was important to hold on to. Delta saw how easily she could lose herself. Delta the dungeon core that became Dungeon Core Delta.
Same words… different girl.
It was almost intoxicatingly wonderful to create and expand but Delta looked at her orb and inhaled. Progression for progression sake was pointless. This all had to mean something to her.
Or she go mad… or crazy… or turn into some machine that saw little kids barely into their teens as walking bags of Mana. Delta walked out the room, determined to see what else she could do. Determined to ask why’ to each and everything she built, mutated, grew, forged, unearth, summoned, and designed.
Becuse she would take a hammer to her own Core before a kid was reduced to a walking Mana battery in her eyes.
Delta felt the Mana roll and barely even choked as Hob and Gob returned with more branches, berries and mushrooms.
She really needed a glass of water or something… Delta blinked as the idea appeared. Water?
But she had no buckets or…
Wait. She had wood and stone? Why didn’t she have bucket design? Delta opened her mouth and her menu beat her to it.
Delta closed her eyes and counted to 10 and gave up at 5.
“Are you telling me… I can make things if I know them?!” she tried to throttle the menu and it vanished with an alarmed ding.
“Stone Spoon!” Delta yelled.
“Stone goblin figurine?”
Delta twitched and when she opened her eyes, she was laying on the ground. Something throbbed and Delta assumed it was the leaky remains of her brain after her menu seemed to have a nervous breakdown.
“Ow.” she groaned and Hob yelped as she spoke next to his snoozing form.
Delta made a very subtle mental note not to rush the system that governed her existence to the point it was needed a glass of wine before its husband came home. Delta rose to her feet and saw her Mana growing from 12 to 24.
A decent amount…
Delta grumbled as she moved down the tunnel… it was time to do something she had been somewhat dreading. This whole… discovering how things worked as she went was nice but it left her suspicious of everything.
So just before entered the lair. Delta flicked a hand and a side tunnel and room dug itself out and the dark space inside waiting to be used, Delta felt a little sick, but she spent some of her large pool of 73 DP to fill the room.
She filled it with mushrooms… a whole grove of them.
What? But… the menu said this was decorative? Just… something to look at.
Delta frowned as another menu opened.
She could swear her eye twitched.
The room began to smell of dampness, the walls looking a little runny as the soil became a mulch and moist, the small pond in the centre a bit rank. Then, one by one, as if summoned by some hellish devil, mushrooms sprouted out of the soil.
All those ‘Gutrot’ ones. Delta backed away as the room seemed to stretch again, space promptly washing its hands of the room. The dampness gave way as a boar, smaller than bacon but mean looking prowled past. A few of the mushrooms tangled up in his matted fur.
Delta flicked through menus until she found the special menu for this room.
It wasn’t the grandest menu, and she opened the produce one.
Delta felt hatred burn in her stomach. It cost 10 mana to produce these frigging things?! But she only got one in return when she bit the bullet and eat one?!
Delta closed the menu and paced as she angrily sniffed and snorted like the new boar in the room. After a moment, she opened the second option.
Delta pursed her lips. More mushrooms? More mushrooms?
She opened her mouth and then closed it as she thought about her Mushy’s feelings, it could hear her…
She had a feeling she wouldn’t be able to enjoy these nice sounding edible mushrooms since she was the one making them… or would she?
Something chimed and her Mana rose by 2. Oh...a day had passed. Maybe her nap had taken some time away from her?
That was concerning…
Delta saw she had 11 Mana left. With a quick command, Hob and Gob went out with the new wooden bucket… she held her breath but the object didn’t seem to vanish as it left her dungeon.
“Yes!” Delta jumped with excitement. Her first loot to leave the dungeon was… a bucket. Delta stopped dancing and stared at where her feet should be. Legendary knights and wizards would come from afar to raid her loot...only to get a bucket for their trouble.
Delta felt a heavy mood settle over her as a mushroom poked through the soil.
Delta, the dungeon of mushrooms and buckets, the stuff of legends.
Maybe she could add a few mushrooms to the bucket… like a crappy gift basket? No... Really, Delta insisted that all adventurers got a free mushroom, or more! Take them all… Delta begged someone.
Well... if things got boring, she could mix in the apples and berries. She wasn’t sure how valuable the apples were but… it had to be better than a Gutrot mushroom, right? Delta perked up and went off to see her new nameless Goblin talking to Fran.
Aw, Fran was making friends.
Good on him.
The guilt followed her, so she quickly started the development of the edible mushrooms.
What was next? Gourmet Mushrooms? Delta snorted and wondered what smuck wanted these’ rooms?Which a quick check on the grove, Delta froze.
She expected… one mushroom to be forming. The ground in the middle of the room was growing between 7 and 10 mushrooms at once.
“No...nononono, too many!” she waved her hand with a shrill noise and checked her DP. It still happily said 63 DP after her purchase of the grove and the developmental ‘room...
Did… the room menu actually mean… she could make or produce these little monsters… in bulks? Then how many normal Gutrot ‘rooms would she get for 10 mana?!
Oh… God… Delta felt sick at the thought of mushrooms on every surface of her dungeon.
Delta splurged 5 more DP and a shoddy looking wooden door appeared, and she used it to seal her nightmares behind five planks of wood and a cracked metal door handle. Delta prayed that those tiny hinges would keep the demons back.
The new goblin rounded the corner and blinked at the door.
“Boss? Name’s Francois… Fran said... I should have old name,” he said aloud, looking a little nervous.
Delta looked at him. He… oh…. Delta felt her mind latch onto an idea as the mushrooms inside continued to develop on the other side of the door.
In her heart, she agreed to Francois, but in her cold mushroom-hating calculating mind she called him a second name.
Delta’s home-grown food taster.
“François!” she sang, and the goblin showed surprising intelligence as he ran away as fast as he could but Delta just beamed. She was the very ground he ran on, she knew all the dead ends.
If she could make someone else take over mushroom eating duty, she’d gladly been seen as a evil witch to her little gobs.
“But Momma, I saw them… little green men with big teeth!” the girl whined. Quiss waited for his poached sunbird eggs to be cooked by the barman. Nibs was a greasy man but it wasn’t a bad quality, he seemed to slide between people and move away from caring about people’s problems like a man who was secretly trained by River Scale Eels.
Quiss envied the skill as the girl’s voice rose higher in the pub. People wolfed down gamey meat and shimmering, steaming fish.
“They were collecting those bad mushrooms and branches...they saw me!” she said and the mother sighed.
“Goblins eat little girls, no goblin saw you or you’d be in its belly!” the mother chided.
Harsh but true. The girl had a fighter spirit in her however and refused to back down.
“They said they had no time for games and ran off,” she added and Quiss chewed that over as his eggs arrived, cooked a little extra, just the way he liked it.
What made goblins not eat a girl and not torment her? Orders… orders meant a war chief in the making.
His old Peace Keeper booklet had a quick page on signs to look for when chiefs rose in power.
People begin to go missing. Goblins act strangely. They become quieter…
Quiss chewed his eggs. He chewed them with a scowl.
This was beginning to sound like actual work.
Quiss Firesmasher stood. He shrugged on his wizard name like an old coat. The name was made from the ancient ritual of picking two words out a magical hat at the same time. He considered himself lucky after Boader Ladywhipper or Samual Rainbowdream.
He dared not dwell on the rare person who got three names.
Solomon Leakydarknesshole, you were never forgotten, Quiss admitted but you were never mentioned in public…