Perhaps it was the silence. Perhaps it was the after effect of Deo.
Delta couldn’t say, but the dungeon felt more empty after everyone had left. Hob and Gob gone to help Quiss carry the teens back home to the nearby town. As soon as they had gone various things began to be absorbed.
Delta felt a little spoiled, but was just happy that none of this came at the price of one of the teens’ lives. It took a moment for her menu to form the results of the gains.
Delta felt bloated as her mana soared from 54 to 79.
Now, normally she would be panicking, running around like a chicken who was on fire and maybe be about to also explode, but not today. Delta knew exactly what she was going to spend her mana on. It was a clear weakness in her dungeon, something the spiders had used to their advantage, and something that Delta just plain wanted.
Delta started at the entrance chamber. She placed the door just a little in and it formed like sand from the ground up until she had a door that looked like five uneven pieces of wooden planks nails together with a single wooden beam across the top and bottom. The hinges looked liked stone. All in all, it was a crappy door that Delta could imagine Deo pulling off its hinges like some comedy skit as he got too excited.
But, and Delta was pleased to remain positive, it wasn’t just one door she was going to be adding but ten! Delta rushed around, placing doors at the entrance and exit of every room. Excessive? Delta didn’t really care if it meant future spider attacks were slowed since they lacked thumbs.
Or would some monster spiders have thumbs?
Would Delta be assaulted by Spiderman? She hoped not, her pun game might not be up for the challenge. Delta placed her final door after the goblin camp and stretched with relief. Sure, she was down 40 mana but her dungeon now had the first set of barriers!
Curious, she held a finger to the door.
“Come on! I’m hilarious!” Delta argued but couldn’t help but enjoy the little comments being added to her lists. She paused to think on that.
“Menu, what are you?” she asked aloud and a window appeared.
Oh, well that explained nothing. Delta flicked through her menus as she hummed.
“But why are you helping me?” she asked a moment later. The menu paused for a few seconds before answering.
“Thanks? I think... Well, I’m glad you’re here, do all dungeons get a menu?” she asked brightly as she eyed the research list. Locked doors sounded useful for later.
“Delta Points!” Delta grinned as she argued. It just felt nice to speak to someone without a mouthpiece.
“Delta Points are better, plus I am Delta... not ‘the dungeon’,” Delta reminded and the menu flickered.
Delta wasn’t sure the menu knew how to deal with her chosen method of human interaction. So, she purchased both the copper and the low-grade steel researches.
That opened up a lot... of things.
Delta smiled at the menus added comments. It was odd to see text gain some semblance of a personality but Delta just took that as a sign of how little she really knew of this world.
Looking down the list again, she would be hard pressed to see where she would use spikes. Outside of the normal useage, Delta couldn’t find any.
Maybe as a deterrent in front of the core room? It had to have a flaw or no adventurers could really pass it. She put her nosey finger to it.
Delta made a face but hesitating she spoke aloud.
“Menu, what can be used as a trigger for a trap?” she asked and a window appeared.
Delta was impressed by the sheer ways one could trigger a death trap but thinking back to her gaming days, she could remember all of these happening in one game or another.
There was one that stuck out...
“What’s a rule?” she pointed to it with a unsure voice.
“So, if I made a rule that a all people who had to enter had to quack like Waddles until they left that would be...” she trailed off as the menu chimed.
“Ah that makes sense. So, solve this riddle or say the right word and the door opens! A puzzle room that doesn’t require setting up pressure plates...” Delta paced as Francois entered the room core room.
“Master, the dungeon been invaded by mimics! Doors have appeared everywhere!” he warned and Delta blinked at him.
“Francois. I put the doors there,” she said calmly and the goblin looked at the orange orb.
“But... they look bad! I thought they were bad mimics so I hit one and it it just fell apart...I... set it on fire,” he shuffled backwards as Delta’s mind went blank.
“You... burned my new door?” she repeated slowly.
The menu at her side shifted.
Oh yeah... it did say that before. Delta just inhaled and went to replace the door near the pond. They weren’t crappy. Just... rough. Delta grumbled as she respawned the door and with a huff upgraded the doors with the solid wood upgrade, dropping her DP back to 47.
The door in front of her and near the spider room glowed as the shoddy wood creaked and became much tighter packed together. The actual wood itself became sturdy and Delta guessed it would even take some serious blows from the spider to budge them if they could be properly closed.
Delta put her hands on her hips and smiled, pleased by the result. There, now Francois could stop-
“MASTER, DOOR CHANGE SHAPES! I PROTECT YOU!” Francois screamed, the smell of burnt wood filling the dungeon once more.
Delta turned and stomped down the hall.
“Menu. how do I strangle my monsters?” she demanded.
Her anger melted away with sudden blankness... her emotions hiding behind the veil of cotton, unsure of what she just heard.
“Avatar...?” she repeated.
“H-how much?!” Delta demanded and the menu was quiet for a moment.
Delta stood there for a moment. To talk... to greet, to smile, to... ask people not to attack.
It had only been three days and Delta was going mad. With no sleep, she was constantly aware of what she couldn’t do.
To think if she just got new floors, she could speak to Deo, laugh with Ruli... throw puns at Quiss.
It was a temptation she couldn’t resist.
But she needed at least 200 DP for the next level. That was more than she had at any one time. Delta wasn’t worried, however. She clenched her hands into fists and marched forward.
Delta was going to be the best damn dungeon in this world, the best, safest, friendliest dungeon in the world.
First... she needed to stop Francois from burning down her dungeon. Second, she just needed someone, anyone, to stop by and help her out.
At this point, Delta hoped it was anyone.
Holly Dabberghast was not one for wasting perfectly good sunlight. She smiled at Von the Banker as he fled from the first rays of the sun. Ah, such a lovely man. Like a Louna Tear, the man bloomed best under the moon’s touch.
Holly hummed as she walked through the town, basket on one hand. She nodded to people as she passed, knowing her cheeks were their usual rosey red. Holly couldn’t help her naturally cheery complexion.
Holly hummed as she stopped to pick up a Pippypop. A common daisy off-shoot with a rather bitter smell. Holly put it in her basket and kept walking. People would call the plant a weed but Holly knew if it was cooked at a low temperature with some goblin spit, it made a lovely poison. Not that Holly had much use for poisons besides the odd insect purging. Still, it was relaxing to brew these days.
She smiled as Haldi appeared from the shadows and quickly entered his shop, something wriggling in his hands. That reminded Holly that she needed some cheese for tomorrow's dinner. Her Dayre Cups blossoms were done for the season and Holly couldn’t count on them for any fresh cheese. Quiss walked past, arguing with two little goblins. Holly watched as one drooled and Holly patted her pockets but sighed as she had left her collecting tubes at home.
Ah well, next time. At Quiss was making friends, even if they were a bit odd.
Holly went past the baker and stopped to sample today’s selection. Velki the woman behind the counter stood to attention.
“Early as usual, Mrs Dabberghast, the suns only just come up,” Velki said politely and Holly knew the woman was one of the more recent arrivals in town. Holly liked her, the poor dear was clearly nervous about being in Durence and it showed in the way Velki didn’t meet anyones eyes.
Yes, well this town did have that reputation. Holly beamed on, hoping to show Velki a proper neighbourhood welcome.
First, she felt down with her magic and strangled the growing brickabrambles that would begin to dig into the woman’s shop and do untold amount of damage. Holly loved her plants, fungi, roots, thorns, mutant tomatoes, the occasional dryad party, and even the odd tree boss, but she wasn’t going to ignore how much some people just weren’t equipped to deal with them.
“Velki, your shop smells amazing. You must rise even earlier than me to have all this done! Are you by chance a secret baker of the Taua Mountains?” Holly teased and the girl blushed with a pleased expression. Holly eyed a desert that looked like it was jam spread over a strawberry. It looked good.
“No, Mrs Dabberghast, I just learned in the capitol! It got expensive so I moved here... I think my teacher’s teacher once served a hero back in the day but that's about the extent of my history. I... didn’t expect this town to be so...” Velki suddenly blushed and Holly smiled, the dear is was a Blushing Bride Bloom in human form.
“So like the rumours? Don’t worry, just be yourself and you’ll find a place in this town of your own! I’ll scrounge up some old recipes from people and see if I can help you take advantage of the more unusual markets around here!” Holly promised, her curly black hair falling into her eyes before Holly brushed it back.
Velki looked deeply pleased and handed Holly the desert she was eyeing.
“Then I insist you take this for your troubles,” the girl said, looking away and Holly accepted the gift. Ah it was like the good old days.
Help those in need, get the treats. Holly would have to make sure Velki became active in solving her own problems where she could. It wouldn’t do if she started making requests of the wrong people.
Holly encourage the Sweet Suckles on the roof to grow faster, it would cheer the girl up a tad.
Saying their farewells, Holly continued down the road to the outside of the road. She picked several more plants as she spotted them and headed out of town towards the forest. Quiss’ announcement was certainly a good one.
At first a dungeon did seem highly bothersome until Quiss told them about it’s good nature. Holly hummed loudly, several bushes and trees around her, swinging to her tune.
Dungeons did contain the best plants and while Holly didn’t expect too much from the new dear, any hints of good growth would make Holly’s life interesting.
What if it grew Divine Saint Beans? Queen Jewels? Oh, it could even maybe grow legendary-but-unwanted Death Blossoms.
They were a bit gothic and had a habit of spinning their flowers around, firing seeds at people in a perfect circle as it hissed. In return, one could escape death in some fashion for a period of time.
Holly Dabberghast also knew that if lacking options... one could influence how a new dungeon grew by giving it a particular set of tributes. It was highly frowned upon as it could rob equal opportunity from other adventurers and job classes but Holly didn’t see any harm in allowing a dungeon the option. Webs, mushrooms, goblins, mud...
This was nature aligned dungeon for now and Holly was all too happy to keep it that way.
Well, the first floor anyway. The dear could have fun doing what she willed with the others. Holly had put scrambling down 70 floor dungeons on a shelf as soon as she had her first child.
It was one of Holly’s best memories. When her water broke in the dungeon during the final boss, the dungeon had been so freaked out it had the boss murder itself so Holly could leave faster.
She should send a letter to it. It had been some years. If Holly remembered right, the Fairplay company had set up shop and the dungeon wasn’t able to grow past its current floor due to the company preventing it from doing so with their meddling.
Holly let a frown appear and nature went quiet around her.
If one man never left the dungeon or took shifts... then the dungeon could never improve itself. The bosses respawned regardless of people being there or not, the company took advantage of that...
Holly had remembered seeing the complete map, trap, treasure, secret tunnels, and all sorts of unsavory things available for people to buy.
People flocked to the building like Flesh flies on dung.
Holly sniffed once and then tried to let it go.
That dungeon was still there, it hadn’t broken itself in frustration. Holly could only hope something happened and the dungeon kept people out for a long time... the sheer mana pains the poor thing must be in.
All that mana and no place to use it. It would be hell.
Holly paused as she looked around to see she had been surrounded while she was in deep thought. Ten or so hungry black dire wolves. Holly looked over her shoulder and saw another 3.
“My dears... now is not really the time,” she said disapprovingly and the lead wolf snarled as he met her eyes.
The rest growled and Holly saw some still had blood on their muzzles. Holly wondered if this was really how her day would start...
But... she looked down and saw a rare Fedut Bud.
“Well, this is just perfect,” Holly smiled and the one wolf barked and snarled, sending drool dripping down one side of its face.
“You see.. This little beauty can live off water, sugar water, some ales, some wines... and blood. So, let me tell you little cute things something,” Holly put a hand to her mouth to hide a smile.
“You think yourselves the crows who have found a wriggling worm just so juicy. But you see... I am no lovely worm. I am a root that you’re nibbling at. You see, where you annoy the root, the tree gets angry,” Holly warned and the wolves all began to circle her.
“And you wouldn’t like my tree angry,” she said, voice sugar and poison. A wolf lunged and a solid wood spear pierced up through the ground and out the other end of the wolf.
The ground rumbled as Holly’s guardian, ever following, ever silent, broke free of the soil.
Holly bent down and stroked the rare plant as it became very well watered.
After a moment, she hummed and walked off to the dungeon entrance.