Delta took a moment as her mana jumped up because of the new day. Until she had a clock or sent Hob or Gob out to watch the sunrise, Delta just had no idea what time it really was.
With a decent haul of 41 mana, Delta could really dig her teeth into some ideas. But she took a moment to sit down and just... relax. There was a very real urge to just not think about what happened in the last day and keep building, upgrading, researching, absorbing...
It was escapism and it came with a handy menu. Delta returned to her boss room, just to have some company as Fran and Francois... Cois, talked.
Cois was bragging about the spider he set on fire and Fran was laughing his little butt off as he listened. Delta smiled, happy they weren’t just doll-like creature's who stood around until it was time to kill.
It made Delta care about them and feel better about just taking a break. If she just kept rushing blindly ahead, things could get worse in many ways.
“First... the spiders,” she said quietly to herself as Fran began his own tale of the ‘Bacon Explosion’.
Hob and Gob took their eggs, thinking they were berries or such. They hatched and escaped, possibly telling the other spiders. Delta could see how that could look bad and maybe even show Delta that the attacks may be warranted out of fear or some need to protect their young.
But... there was something Cois and Quiss had let slip over the the last day.
Monsters were drawn to dungeons and Delta didn’t really know why.
“Menu, why do monsters attack dungeons?” she asked, not sure the extent of her aid’s knowledge of the outside.
“That’s... well, for one that’s dark. Two, monsters, not my ones, but actual monsters feed off mana?” Delta felt like someone had said that to her...
Delta smiled and leaned against the dungeon wall.
“I try. Thanks, Nu,” she said and stood as Bacon’s eyes lit up as a lumen mushroom popped into existence. Those handy little things were beginning to grow places as well, unlike the unspeakable evil, they were super handy.
“You know, Me...Nu. I name everything, it’s a coping mechanism for the fact I have no mouth and must pun,” Delta declared proudly. Honesty was the best policy.
Delta didn’t want to pretend that the fact she was a powerful, monster-making, magic building dungeon didn’t bother her. It was one thing to lose an arm or a sense.
This? This new existence was heavy and Delta could only unpack things one at a time. There was a lot she had been forced to give up and thinking on them before she felt ready just wasn’t a good idea.
But as long as she didn’t lie to herself, she would... find some peace one day, if something else didn’t break her first. It had only been a few days after all. Delta took it as passing a test of character that she was doing so well already.
“Alright, now the people,” she began to pace and felt better.
Ruli, Quiss, Deo, Poppy, Amanster, and a supposedly whole town of people. How does those affect her?
Well... so far it had been nothing but a good experience. People had been nice, Deo had been funny, Ruli was awesome, and Quiss gave her a duck, indirectly.
But there was a whole world out there.
A whole world...
“Nu, what is this world called?” she asked quietly.
Delta spluttered and waved a hand at the screen.
“Nu, you can’t just say things like that!” she protested and the menu chimed in a low tone.
Delta patted her cheeks, the action more real than any actual body part she may have had. Nu was just so... oblivious.
“Nu... you’re a boy menu,” she grumbled and the menu didn’t respond but the simple grey box flashed and turned a perfect shade of blue that was the copy of Quiss’ coat.
“That’s not what I... you know what, how about we just... go spend some mana and see what we can improve?” she offered as the menu opened to the various sections.
Delta bit her tongue as words instantly tried to slip out, a tune playing in her head.
“L-l-li...” Delta sweated with the effort to keep it in as the menu went quiet.
“Torches! Quickly!” she commanded and a new box appeared.
Well, a lot of this was for DP. It made sense as DP was the one time purchase and mana was the ability to reproduce the effect or item as many times as Delta could or wanted to. All in all, Delta could easily split her menu into two sections.
Purchasing menus for mana spending. Upgrades menus for her DP purchase.
It had an odd feeling to it that DP quickly outshined mana in a short time until Delta remembered one thing.
She only had one level and there was only so many rooms.
Having no monster slots left, Delta was basically wasting mana on small things which made it feel... subpar. Delta shook her head, annoyed at herself. When the next floor came she would be spending mana out the rear to populate it with monsters and traps. It would become precious again. Then it would roughly decline as she hit the max monster cap and room cap, then she would build up... get the next floor and...
Well, mana actually didn’t seem so bad once Delta gave it some thought. She went to Grove and spent some mana on making more edible mushrooms. Delta smiled as she left the room.
As time went on, more and more ‘special’ rooms would appear. They would take mana and make things. That was something Delta was dismissing far too easily simply because it was mushrooms. Special loot, rare potions... it may all be much cheaper in these rooms. Following that though, she opened the menu to the flat cost of just summoning a edible mushroom.
4 mana for the same amount if she used her menu but only 2 if she grew them via the Grove.
Dungeon System? Meet Delta’s friend, her name is ‘Breaking The’. Delta tried to cackle but sort of ended up clearing her throat.
Until Quiss came back, Delta had no idea if more people would come ‘adventuring’. It was sad because Delta wanted to make coin purse with some coins but... something made her stop.
This wasn’t a video game. Monsters dropping endless money would destroy any economy in the long run. How did... this kingdom have any currency if they used coins? Delta pondered that for a moment.
Maybe dungeon coins had a tell? Maybe they just kept investing and building new towns and spread the money thin? Maybe people left it in chests in random places in the world and that kept things in balance?
“Nu? How different is real money to money I make?” she wondered and Nu appeared with a chime.
Nu vanished and Delta felt mild panic until she felt the awareness of life.
Someone had just entered the dungeon.
Delta turned and rushed to the entrance as some jolly woman whistled her way into her entrance hall.
“Hellllo! Deary? My, such a lovely scent already. I can tell I’m going to like you!” the woman laughed, her rosy cheeks making her look like she ran some frozen tundra toy factory. Delta had Cois rushing over already, slowed by the fact he had to open all the doors without burning them.
“Well, let’s see,” the woman read the signboards and put a hand to her cheek, a soft smile on her face.
“Oh, by the sweet roots of Mother Nature, Quiss was right! Oh, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for me!” the woman laughed and Delta felt herself smiling back as Cois slowly approached the tunnel.
“Oh, hello there, my good goblin,” the woman greeted and Cois cleared his throat and nodded.
“Master welcomes guest to the dungeon,” he said without Delta having to tell him to do so. He was improving!
He seemed to swat at something, like a fly that Delta couldn’t see. The woman peered at him.
“Deary, if it’s bothering you, just have the dungeon turn it off. I meet a talkative Ent once who for the life of me couldn’t stop playing with fire. He had the same problem. A hobby is a hobby, not a life commitment!” she laughed as if Cois was some old lady friend who had been around since forever.
Delta looked at Cois with confusion.
“Turn what off?” she asked and Nu might be handy right about now...
“Box wants me to evolve,” he admitted and Delta blinked then smiled as the woman waited patiently.
“That’s great... right?” she tilted her head and the goblin tapped the ground with his staff.
“I... don’... annbe a Diplomat...” he mumbled and Delta took a moment to piece that together.
It was odd that her menus were locked but Cois’ wasn’t. That stank of potential game-breaking so Delta moved on quickly. Her goblin had unlocked a special evolution that wasn’t in her menus. Delta could only guess it was due to all the talking she was making the goblin do.
A diplomat goblin sounded handy and if Cois became one, then she could get one whenever it was needed. It also seemed to be free, so, all in all, it was an opportunity an only an idiot would pass up.
“I deny you that evolution,” she said and Cois shivered, looking around as if looking for a ghost. Cois was her monster, her defender, her voice to the people, but most importantly he was her friend. Delta would sooner eat nothing but mushrooms than forcing her monsters to be something they detested.
Delta didn’t want to be a murdering dungeon, so her monsters shouldn’t have to be something they didn’t want to be either. It was childish logic and Delta didn’t care. Cois hadn’t let her down so far so why mess with what worked just to fill out a menu or grab a small advantage?
“Master... thank you,” Cois whispered and the woman looked soft as she spoke.
“This dungeon is truly exceptional. I have forgotten my manners, please allow me to introduce myself. I am Holly Dabberghast, wife, mother, gardener, good neighbour, lover of life, and less impressively, an ex-archdruid of the Bloodthorn Forest, please allow me to enter your dungeon,” the woman did a little formal courtesy with her white apron and messy bun making the image more... real rather than silly.
“I... yes! I would love a guest!” Delta yelped as the woman’s eyes sparked with a green glow for a moment. It didn’t seem like a threatening gesture but one of assurance and promise.
Delta whispered what to say next.
“Master says welcome... Mrs Dah...Dabbah...Dabbahbahahgasp!” Cois stumbled over the long word, more nervous than unsure and Mrs Dabberghast bent down and shook the gobs clawed hand.
“Call me Holly. All my friends do, or at least I want them to!” she joked and Delta looked on with amazement as the dried flower in Holly’s hand seemed to ripple and flush with life, looking like it had just been picked off the ground. She slid the flower behind Cois’ ear and nodded seriously.
“Dungeon Core Delta, let me enjoy this quest. I bring tribute but I shall wait to give them so you may take them and absorb them just as I leave. No good leaving tribute on the floor! Hm, deary, you need an offering table. All the good dungeons have them!” Holly seemed to find good news in every shortcoming. Delta loved it.
Quiss was running, he breathed hard and the look on his face was enough to send people scattering out of his way.
Under both arms, he held Hob and Gob. Their slow run was only going to damn Quiss. Mrs Dabberghast was in the dungeon. The thought repeated itself in his head as flames leaked from his nostrils.
The damn woman was going to see those mushrooms, those spiteful spitting mushrooms and she was going to bring them back here and make him look for something in her garden again! Mrs Dabberghast only needed to see the creature... study it to make her own version.
Quiss saw Ruli ahead and the woman looked ready to stop him and talk.
No time! He put his foot down and the earth under her feet shot up and sent Ruli into the air where Quiss caught her with the aid of a wind spell and some luck. Quiss was three seconds away from sending Ruli into a garbage can but thankfully, she landed on his back.
“Quiss, what the fuc-” she was cut off as she looked down.
“Oh, hey guys. You Delta’s gobs?” she said, conversationally.
It was to Quiss’ shame that this was not the first time he had kidnapped Ruli due to an emergency. The goblins were new, however.
“Dabb...ghast! Dungeon!” Quiss shouted and Ruli pushed off his back and began to outpace him down the road.
“Holy fucking shit, move your blonde ass! That woman is going to turn my fishing spot into some Snapdragon hell!” Ruli said with horror.
Quiss thought of getting Mrs Dabberghast’s husband but decided the man would be too busy running the tea shop.
Besides, the man doted on his wife so much he wouldn’t be able to do more than give her a wry look and a shrug at Quiss.
Love, it was useless in the art of war! Quiss pounded the ground harder as he left the village behind. His mind chimed in about the Moon Clan. A long-existing group of mages that used the emotion love and other forms, as energy for their eye-melting beam attacks. Effective but Quiss would sooner drown himself in Delta’s mud than watch the same naked magical dress-up sequence 5 times in a row and listen to their religious speeches on love. Thankful- Sadly, the clan had been attacked by rabid demon rabbits that dug holes through their most sacred of texts a few years back.
They never could function quite right after that.
Who needed love when one had beer, a bed, fire spells to practice and Ruli to annoy. Life was perfect... well, not perfect but it wasn’t something Quiss found repulsive.
Then came Delta and so far, that had been a lot of problems Quiss couldn’t set on fire. Mostly due to guilt as Delta badgered him for rights and innocent questions of this world.
Now, Mrs Holly ‘Cursedthorn’ Dabberghast was doing a little visit...
Quiss wondered how it had all gone so... rightly wrong.