Well… it wasn’t a War Chief.
Quiss eyed the hole set into the side of a large clearing. The sign tacked to the top of the entrance was clear in its intent. Quiss rolled his tongue around, digging out egg from between two teeth.
Normally, a Dungeon usually did it’s best to lure people in byways of warmth, alluring entrances, women’s laughter, a flash of gold.
Things that might have the average man enticed.
Quiss had never quite heard of a Dungeon telling people to piss off; then again that would be clever. Nothing made a man, a little drunk after a long day, angry like an inanimate object telling him to keep out.
Seldom did men like being told what to do by innocent objects. In Quiss’ questionable education, he found that a Dungeon was usually one thing.
Well, he was being unfair. The richness of the hill grass around him, the blooming flowers hiding just out of sight in the underbrush, the screeching noises of animals trying to bed one another, usually in dangerous fashion, and even the clear babbling noises of nearby rivers sounded out.
Dungeons were good for the land. It was akin to a blackout that sucked up crappy mana and objects and leaked much better mana over time. Like a strict husband or wife that took in a lout of a man out of the gutter, bedded him, wed him, then cleaned up his act.
Perhaps that was Quiss’ own personal perfect logical thoughts on marriage shining through again, but he dismissed that thought before he shot the happy singing bird not far off.
Dungeons also had a high mortality rate. Quiss didn’t even find it funny anymore. Idiots waited in lines for months for a turn in some slimy dungeon and instead of training, they would sleep or gamble away their grandfather’s rusty set of Mythril armour that definitely would have saved their lives.
Quiss honestly found the Dungeon culture to be a bit of a mess. Verluan had a handful of the things. A great city had been built around one once and then it promptly collapsed as they failed to take into account such things as trade routes, seasonal changes, general meaning of what it would take to keep a city running off random-chance loot drops and chests that may or may not kill you.
Last he heard, the city had decided to downgrade to a heroic villa for adventurers to spend the day in a spa before heading off to strike mediocre riches or die from a slime that looked like a mundane slime but was actually a royal jelly.
Common mistake, not one people often made twice. His research into the deepest dark tomes and scrolls had revealed the way to discern the way to tell the difference. The royal jelly had a tiny crown and oozed with elegance.
Quiss turned and, without much hurry, walked back to the village. He needed to call a town meeting and that meant waking up Haldi.
Quiss’ features soured to the point he felt ill. Why did he have to wake Haldi? He sighed and patted his navy jacket. PeaceKeeper duties at their finest. He briefly entertained the idea of letting the dungeon be and ignore it until problems cropped up.
But… it sounded like it had already eaten one hunting party and a farmer… and maybe a pig.
Those were problems. Quiss rolled his tongue again and eyed the forest to the far side. The thought came into his head despite his protests.
The monsters of the forest would be drawn to this area. Goblins, Unreasonably Large Spiders, lizard people who decided to kill other people and angry bushes.
Quiss hoped the bushes stayed in the forest. He’d rather not fight them again. His allergies acted up at the worst times when he was casting a spell. A fireball was not meant to defy natural order like it did the last time he sneezed mid-cast and burned a goblin into a duck.
The room of webs was coming along nicely. Delta zipped in and zipped back out, doing the dance when she thought some web had pierced reality and touched her ghostly self.
She rubbed her face, the area feeling itchy. There was an oddly wavy line that one could traverse without getting the thick webs in their face but even to her eyes, it took an aerial view to see it clearly.
Sure… the adventures could just burn it all but Delta had planned for that! In the middle of the room was something she hoped would… stall the idea of fire.
Delta cackled as she suggested the idea to her powers and it came back positive. A berry could indeed germinate into a berry bush. It seemed with some additional mana cost, she could just up and skip the growth stage. The only off thing is that bush came without berries.
Sure, it was costly but in the midst of all the white web, a shimmering shape of green with royal red berries would entice the adventures. Delta definitely was proud of her little challenge room., her face wide with a pleased look.
Especially, since she wanted to make the spider room unavoidable as she messed the dungeon up.
Hob and Gob went back out with the bucket. Delta asked them to go back to the river and find her some fish. She would have made them some bags or a fishing pole, but she lacked some materials. Despite the fact her spiders could make the web, her dungeon didn’t register her to have the ability to make a fishing rod.
Or did video games lie to her? Delta perished the thought and hummed cheerfully down the tunnel as she waited for delicious mana to return. Still,… with nothing to do, she peeked into the grove and got another development going.
She randomly picked the glow in the dark ones and moved on.
Wow… she still had 78 Dp to spend… how fast was she supposed to be growing?
Shrugging, Delta read through the menu, looking for something to catch her eye.
Delta… looked around and then purchased it with a small thrill running through her body.
Then the dungeon shook.
“Uh… no, stop making that noise!” she begged as the entire floor shook harder. The walls began to glow softly and then like a firework, flashed brightly making Delta’s non-physical eyes go blind.
“Flipping flops!” she cursed and rubbed at them.
The shaking stopped and Delta blinked blearily at the almost solid looking dirt that her tunnels now had. Were that planks of wood across some patches?
Every so often, the dirt had oddly angled pieces of lumber nailed to support beams. Never straight and never fully hiding the dirt behind it.
The tunnels were also… a little roomier. Delta felt off like someone had added an extra ear to one side of her head. She tried to pace and the spacing made her confused. This was a little annoying. Her depth and spatial awareness were now shot to fudge. She paced and tried to ignore the extra foot and half of with the tunnels now had.
Delta paced, trying to find her stride, forgetting to purchase anything else for a while.
“Haldi?” Quiss called into the deep darkness.
The yawning abyss of the doorway before Quiss beckoned him closer like a snake with a hypnotic rattler. Quiss refused to parley with the darkness, ignoring it like the ex-lover that had spilt wine on his favourite ‘Mad Magicians Monthly’ and expected him to hurry up and get over it.
Well, sadly for the darkness, Quiss Firesmasher held grudges like a pro-mage. Often with no reason and often lasting until the grave took him and even then he would come back as a ghost just to spite them, it was just small things.
“Haldi!” he yelled and the air trembled as the being inside shifted. People on the street behind him grabbed their young or old and hurried away.
Quiss yearned for one of them to take his hand and hurry away with him. No one did and Quiss chalked that up as another reason to dislike people.
The master of this terrible place approached the sunlight and it seemed to move equally away from him.
“Haldi?” Quiss repeated and the figure moved closer.
“Ah, Quiss, come for another sample?” the old man offered with a smile. Quiss ignored the silver dish of various cheese with cocktail sticks holding them together. The man was a little over eternity, his features ranged from ghastly to nightmarish, his average speed per word was between glacier and time-stopping.
“Haldi, I need to use the bell,” Quiss said calmly, ignoring how one of the cheese samples was bubbling. Haldi nodded twice.
Quiss was sure seasons passed by the time it took Haldi to finish the second nod. The smell of the building wafted out, it wasn’t cheese. No, that would be normal for Haldi the cheesemaker. No, the smell that leaked from Haldi’s shop seemed like the forgotten space between the second and third layer of the abyss. Out of the 142 layers, the first 20 weren’t so bad in terms of dying.
So people just felt mild discomfort when shopping for cheese in this town. No one talked about it and its implications. No one really cared enough or had enough willpower to face Haldi in a conversation longer than 5 minutes.
The one conversation that did last that long had been legendary and the archmage had died on the spot, his ghost fleeing for hills.
Haldi had been ruling with a cheesy fist from the darkness… by accident.
He was actually a very nice man but Quiss wanted to cry. He was so boring. However, when most men were still presumably in the evolutionary stage of bacteria; Haldi had purchased the oldest church in town. It was the only church in town with a bell.
And by Durence law of the covenant of the pact overruled by the agreement between three wizards that was overturned by the Barbershop Quartet of the dark ages…. Town meetings could only be forced by the ringing of the church bell by standard practice still held today.
So, Haldi nodded and then opened his mouth.
“I learned the most interesting thing about cheese last month! Did you know…” Haldi began and the stairs at the far end looked blocked off by cheese crates. They would need to be moved but something had leaked over them, making them sticky to the touch.
“-warmed by a basilisk, then a fondue can actually not leak off the sweet stick!” Haldi went on and Quiss grew weak. He must hurry before the cheesy abyss took him!