Waddles quacked a few times as Delta spoke aloud. He was a rather chill bird once he was left alone to swim and not say, being summoned into a pit of mud by an annoyed wizard. Delta guessed that was only fair.
“So, I dunno what I should do next. I mean I definitely need to aim for the second floor,” Delta mused and Waddles seemed to agree.
François cleared his throat.
“Seconds floor would be good. More space to build and make more protection,” he nodded. Delta agreed, trying not to blush as she had a perfectly good talking partner right there. Delta stood, blowing out a sigh at her 16 mana. She could do a few things like place the traps or a tower and a trap...
Walking around her dungeon, she saw as the entrance hadn’t budged from the spot it had been in before. But she saw the ground go down... and the door went down.
Did the second half go up or did the first half go down? Her menu said she definitely moved the first part down...
Delta just let that go and chalked it up to funky dungeon space again. Hob and Gob came running into the entrance and Delta was a little sad they didn’t stop to see her signs.
It came clear why as a spider about size of a donkey came rushing in after them.
“Holy fu-” Delta cut herself off as the goblins began to grow again, power returning to them. Hob waved his sword. Dropping his bucket of goods. Delta was only barely aware of her mana hitting 29 due to the approaching nightmare on eight legs.
The spider made Delta’s spiders look like puppies. The drooling large fangs and black void-filled eyes, Delta didn’t even know why she noticed her mana grow-
Wait. Delta eyed the bucket and its fading goods. There was something in her dungeon, why was her...
Delta could still open a menu.
“Oh my Gosh,” Delta whispered as Hob took a swipe with his sword again as Gob took out an eye with one of his stones.
“HP bar?” Delta waved her hands, her mind was going blank. Her friends were about to be eaten by a big evil spider! It didn’t even have a white line around its butt which made Delta’s spiders cooler!
Nothing happened so Delta gave up on forcing video game mechanics to appear for now and tried to think of what she could do. She couldn’t do much besides give Hob and Gob stone weapons, and she wasn’t sure how much mana she would need to upgrade them both and give them proper weapons.
“Run! Just run towards the camp!” Delta ordered and the gobs hesitated then took off, the spider hissing like a coarse brush hitting a brick wall.
Delta moved with them and almost froze as the spider tumbled, all 8 legs, over the tripwire, becoming covered in the silver web as it crashed into the far wall. She couldn’t believe that worked.
“What happened?!” Delta shouted and Hob just yelled back as he turned the corner.
“Waiting for us!” he panted. Well, that wasn’t good.
Delta opened her menu and map and saw that if the spider didn’t spontaneously combust, drop dead, piss off Waddles and drown or have some new world allergic reaction to mud then her first option would to be...
She mashed the confirm button on her purchase.
The spider ignored the grotto and moved fast down the wall, the hairs on its body refusing to stick to the silver web for long. Her gobs crossed the mud room faster than they had done in any of their previous attempts. They slowed at the sight before them, Delta nearly did to.
There was a splat and a sound like a demon being born. Delta urged her goblins onwards and stared at her purchase. The spider managed to pull itself up and over the far side after a minute.
It froze and Delta just nodded.
“Run away...” she whispered, trying to mentally will the thing to get the hint and the spider hesitated then launched forward. Delta watched as her newly evolved Mushy swung it’s large fists down and utterly crushed the front half of the spider’s body.
The Myconid was the second evolutionary path of the Mushroom Spitter. It lost its acid, it’s ability to strike from the shadows and a lot of reaction time if caught unaware.
In return, it grew short solid legs and rather beefy arms. They were effective beyond Delta’s expectations. Standing somewhere just short of 6 feet tall, the large mushroom had a round soft-looking belly and no longer had a mouth.
Instead, the beady eyes became soft and curious as it lifted its hand and tried to shake the green goo off that was quickly melting away.
Oh, it also seemed that in return for its physical power, the Mushy lost its hatred for everything and became somewhat fascinated by it instead evidenced by the way it was poking Gob curiously. Delta was trying to take this all in. Her mind supplying little things to keep her mind from screaming. Perhaps the fact she had just been invaded and the thing did not want to talk?
Maybe because it had shown how powerless Delta could feel until they hit her mudroom? Or maybe it was, despite all of Delta’s big talk, violence still was the end result?
Maybe it was because she hadn’t seen anything bigger than a bird die before her eyes? She had refused to look at the farmer’s death... but she made this choice and now she had to deal with it. All of this sounded very logical and understandable and it was all very neat.
Delta hiccuped as her dungeon ate the kill.
“Monsters are not mans,” Francois said as he exited the grove, shooing at the Guardian Boar who was trying to nibble at his robes.
“Monsters contain hatred. It becomes will to live with gobs. With spider it becomes hunger. Hatred makes monsters different from animals. Animals fight or run, monsters can do those too, but they also think and remember. Monsters can eat mana as well. Master is powerful and draws them... as well as boneheads,” François snapped and smacked both Hob and Gob with his staff.
Delta just looked at the spot where the spider was.
“Do all monsters hate?” Delta had to ask as her newly named Mr Mushy picked Francois up and put him on his cap hat. François’ face soured.
“Not all. That more monsters evolve or grow, the less hate holds sway. I not know if monsters can free themselves or just live with it. When monsters grow big enough, then hating is a choice,” François swatted at Mr Mushy’s attempts to pet him, it looked odd as the mushroom couldn’t see where the goblin was exactly.
“What about my dungeon monsters?” Delta needed to know and Francois just grinned.
“When I was born, I feel need to protect, not hate,” he said casually and steered the Mr Mushy onwards to the Grove.
Delta felt relief at that and then, unsure if she truly wanted to know, asked Francois one more question.
“Can you befriend monsters?” she wanted to know. Her question was delightfully cliche and Delta felt no shame in it.
François just shrugged.
“If Master wants it, she will find a way. I am confident in your power,” he complimented. Delta felt a little touched at the comment and moved to keep up.
Compared to all her terrible mushroom experiences so far, Mr Mushy was just adorable. If all her mushrooms could just be as cute as the Myconid then Delta would be a lot happier. Looking at him, she watched as the boar squealed and fled from the stomping odd the cheerful mushroom man.
He looked like a fun guy. Delta snorted and giggled which made Hob and Gob looked confused. François was too busy trying to avoid the mushrooms that hit him in the face as his impromptu steed ran out of control.
Delta turned and looked towards her entrance.
This wouldn’t be the last time she would have to kill. Delta just had to accept that life wasn’t going to bend and let her avoid the messy parts of being a dungeon. Hatred would drive monsters to seek her out, if Francois was right.
Delta just nodded with determination. As long as she got not enjoyment for it and didn’t lure them in, then Delta wouldn’t cry for the monsters that died.
Delta looked at the tunnel where the last of the spider faded, tiny green splotches of blood. She clasped her hands together, a little prayer in her head.
Maybe now... the spider didn’t feel the hatred and that was one tiny comfort Delta could take in from this.
“Thank you for your donations,” she nodded and moved on with purpose. First up was the tripwire.
With 29 mana and 58 DP, she could begin making progress in her Hill room. She owed it to the spider to make the most of the points.
Delta paused as her spiders were making angry noises as they collected their torn webs and discarded it.
“Oh... sorry,” Delta chuckled nervously. She direct them to throw it into the tunnel entrance and leave it for the next person to enter to pick it up.
“Don’t worry, I’ll get this dungeon in tip-top shape and make sure you guys get improved as well! After all...” Delta said as she moved through a web as she spent a point to add a few wooden supports to the centre of the room to give the spiders more places to attach webbing. It gave her berry bush a nice special feeling too.
“We dungeon folk have to stick together!” she offered and a spider shuddered and played dead.
Delta crossed her arms.
“I think I am hilarious,” she muttered.
“So, this is why outgoing magic mail is banned for the next few days to weeks,” Quiss called to the town square. Well, it was more of an oblong rectangle that had an errant triangular tumour hanging off it.
“But I need to respond to my girlfriend,” a whiny man complained. Quiss wasn’t going to say it, but he didn’t need to, Ruli was here.
“Your girlfriend that lives Teranda? Yes, come on, Colled. No one buys it,” Ruli said, her eyes closed as she tried to snooze on the chair. She was the only other person on the little podium that had once been summoned to debate one of the greater demons into selling his legal right to take the souls of their cattle.
In return, he got a lot of cheese. Quiss could appreciate the craftsmanship of the little desk before him and the way everyone seemed unable to ignore him as long as he looked ready to rant.
“Anyway, we decided that keeping a dungeon a secret from some of the town people was wrong, and we didn’t want to clean the junk out your houses if you die. So, the dungeon is there, don’t go into it without permission or without letting everyone know, so we can all take bets. As the king’s law states, you must either be over the age of 16, have a demon bound inside your soul, wield a sword that no one else can use, be mute and heralded as the hero of this timeline, have a magical birthmark tied to some prophecy or have parental permission to enter the dungeon,” Quiss reminded. Quite a few of the teenagers and younger kids grumbled at this.
The two blonde kids that were mute and had been hailed as heroes in some fashion in the crowd shrugged. Quiss knew one wanted to be a vet and the other was too lazy to go anywhere. Smart boys in his opinion.
“What's the dungeon like?” one excited girl asked and her little pigtails bounced as she jumped on the spot.
“Nice. Has a few spiders and goblins so don’t go wandering in,” Ruli answered for him. Quiss knew the kids loved announcements like these.
It got them out of school.
The only teacher in town, who managed 6 different classes of students in a single day stood to the side, smiling politely.
Mr Jones was a nice man and if Quiss ever felt the need to die slowly and painfully by having spawn, he wouldn’’t mind Mr Jones teaching them. He baked cookies, listened to students, never had a student fail since he took over in the last 5 years. It was the only hope this community had of reaching a standard education.
Quiss also knew the man was hearty. He confiscated a black wand from a student yesterday. In a town like this, magical weapons were a dime a dozen and outside of this town, they would all sell for a small kingdom’s annual income.
Thankfully, Mr Jones dispatched the skeleton army the brat raised before history class was over and had a stern talk with the mother of the student, the Black Bog Witch who was now the town’s glass and Metal crafts shop owner.
The woman could make cauldrons like no ones business. How she managed to make them of clay she kept to herself.
Mr Jones was alright in Quiss’ book. The fact he was a Knowledge Demon from the 142 layer of the abyss didn’t make the clean shirt and nice tie any less attractive. Many women and men had often fought with their spouse about who got to go to the parent-teaching meeting to stare as his straight teeth and lovely hair.
Quiss cleared his throat as the silence had stretched on.
“So, please don’t die or I will have to do paperwork,” he ended the meeting with a little gavel bang that ended the podiums magic and walked away.
“I liked it,” Ruli said as she caught up. Holding up one hand, she read off an imaginary headline.
“Don’t die, idiots, local Peacekeeper cautions” she announced. Quiss hid a small smile as they both entered the local pub.
Nibs nodded and poured them the usual.
It was good to relax and Quiss knew he’d better enjoy it. Delta would be cooking something up that appeared innocent but in reality would make Quiss feel old soon enough.
At least his Melody Mead tasted good. He burped and a little birdsong came out. He snorted as some heavy berserker metal flowed from Ruli’s mouth.
In the night that followed. Neither Quiss or Delta could predict the danger that would come.
This was not just the hungry spiders that moved closer but also one of the most dangerous type of creatures in the Kingdom.