Delta watched with a little fascination as the last of the Slimers fell into the mudpit. It didn’t take long for her to notice the small-algae covered monsters weren’t exactly... bright. The scraped at the walls and Cois, looking rather tired, blasted it with a fireball that was noticeably smaller than the previous ones.
“Don’t push yourself,” Delta cautioned and Billy growled as he ran out of arrows. Delta knew they would respawn but not for a while. The dead Slimers were already vanishing into resources and Nu was chiming every few seconds.
Nu sounded pleased, it was understandable. Delta could also feel the niggling of pride for her friends' battle prowess. Hearing the Slimers scream, even after they had long gone silent, had blackened her mood.
Nu’s words both relieved and confused Delta but she obeyed and looked at her mud. It took her a moment to see that the mud was losing its sludge element and turning into the thick solid ground.
“They’re draining the water!” Delta said in a tight voice.
The maws of black mouths and eyes looked up at her goblins, they were hissing noise, now more like sucking sounded out.
Delta couldn’t help but snort as the Slimers were stuck in the solid mud as they drained it of the water.
“Master... I have no more arrows,” Billy said regretfully and Delta turned, menu opened.
“Sorry... I can’t just upgrade your weapons. Nu, what can I do? Should I just make arrows for him or is there something I should try first?” Delta requested seriously. Nu seemed to think about it.
“Cois is all tired out. I’m not sure what you’re getting at...” Delta said as a Slimer a leg off to escape the mud, it would still need to climb and it didn’t seem great at it.
Nu seemed to get distracted but Delta had gotten the message, she turned and spread her hands out.
Delta closed her eyes and breathed hard out once. This was needed, she had to do this to survive. Delta wanted to live, she also wanted to be a good person. Dead people couldn’t do any more good. If was flimsy logic to hide behind but Delta felt fear make her fingers shake. These Slimers scared her, their sucking noises and empty eyes. What option did she have for this, other than to defend?
“Nu, do we have anything for monster capturing or something, anything we can use to turn these things into something we can use?” she asked quietly. Nu hesitated only for a moment as if seeing Delta’s trembling hands.
Delta nodded once. She opened her eyes and then clenched her fists. She looked down into the pit and saw all the Slimers were not gathering in some mini-hill to reach the edge, with 6 left, it wouldn’t take much.
“Thank you... for your tribute,” Delta whispered and filled the pit with torches. Spending a mana per torch, 20 of the flaming sticks rained down and the screams returned.
“Please... be free of that hate. Please come back somehow... and I’ll make your time fun. I promise! If I can come back... maybe you can? Maybe things can be different!” Delta called to the pit as the noises died down. Smoke rising as things began to vanish.
The rising mana and DP number only added to the weight she felt.
“Please don’t... hate me.”
The dungeon was brighter than it had ever been but Delta didn’t feel warm.
Delta watched as the Steelfish did some funny dance. Delta gave it a small smile. She was sure it couldn’t see her, maybe just feel her presence in the pond. Numb appeared, looking out of his element as he tried to sink to the bottom of the pond. His bulging cheeks and nervous shooing of curious fish made Delta sit up with blinking eyes.
He opened his mouth to speak but he choked and flailed. She looked at the Steelfish and sent it a command. It pushed Numb out of the pond who was still flailing on the sand. Hob and Gob laughed as their new equipment shifted.
Having an excess 89 mana, Delta knew she shouldn’t let it go to waste...
So both goblins got a stone axe and a wooden shield. Some rough wooden helms with a basic wooden armour piece. It did make them look slightly scarier but it was 20 mana well spent.
She was still 9 mana off due to her max being increased to 60 with the new room now conquered. So, she filled the room with glowmoss. Nu had tried to tell her something... but Delta needed time.
“Master! Room explored! Numb look but not find Slimes!” he reported with a heaving chest. Delta bent down and just eyed her silly goblin.
“Thank you... you don’t need to drown yourself, I can hear you if you just call for me,” she reminded gently and Numb saluted, sending a tangleweed flying into the face of Cois. It wrapped around his face and Cois wiped at it furiously.
“Master felt bad! Master need time! Cois said Master is good soul!” Numb repeated with a large smile that made him look... innocent.
“Umgh!?” Cois shouted, weed muffling his voice. He held up one finger and the thing burned to ash.
“Nasty weeds...” he grumbled and ran up to Numb’s location.
“Master, box is back... but I like this one!” he beamed and Delta took a second to understand. She opened Cois’ menu and sure enough, an option was glowing.
“Woah...” Delta’s dark mood was slightly lifted at the golden light. She reread the list and could see how some dungeons would struggle to do this. If they couldn’t name their monsters until floor 20... then a human had to name it. If a human named a monster then that meant it was dangerous or special.
Refusing an evolution? Delta was almost confident no dungeon would do such a thing at level 1. Delta grinned.
“Suck it! Delta is the best dungeon!” she boasted and then looked at Cois once more.
“Nu, what is the ups and downs of rare monster?” she asked and the menu appeared slowly.
Delta watched as the menu grew larger and larger as Nu rambled.
“So, Cois is going to be a unique, respawning, loot creating badass?” she summed up and Nu dinged in agreement. She hummed and eyed Cois who was dancing with excitement.
“Do you wanna do it?” she asked and Cois almost cackled with cheer. Delta couldn’t help but giggle with him. The mudpit needed cleaning and her values felt stupid as she hypocritically tried to stay peaceful while burning things alive...
But her friends made this moment feel okay.
“I allow you this evolution!” Delta shouted and Cois began to glow. The golden light engulfed Cois until even Delta couldn’t see him. Honestly, Delta expected a back-choir to pitch in and have random church windows smash as Cois’ transformation died down.
Delta felt her brows shoot up as they did.
Cois’ face was covered by a wooden mask that depicted an evil looking dragon. His loincloth robe was now a straw-skirt and a fur pelt that acted like a cape. Some red beast that had the colour of the new sun. His staff became blackened and the tips glowed with embers.
“Fufufu... power... power....POWER!” Cois crowed, staff erupting with fire. Then the Waddles, rudely woken from his nap, sent a wave of water at him with a furious flap of his wings. Cois looked less majestic after that as his staff steamed and his mask tilted to one side. Cois’ face had markings of red bands along one eye.
“Master...I wish to burn the duck,” he said with a growl and Delta giggled again.
“You look great!” she praised and Cois puffed his chest as Numb stared in awe at the mask while Billy eyed the staff with interest.
Delta held one finger to Cois.
It really was amazing...
Delta followed her goblins as they headed to the new room.
Nu’s words made Delta hurry faster to the new room.
“A spring of mana? Like a fountain or something?” she asked and Nu’s menu kept pace.
Delta moved into the room and saw it for the first time. It was a rounded space with many trenches and alcoves. Odd stains of dark gain were still fading away but Delta could see where the Slimers had stayed in one spot for a long time.
It was around a single crack in the ground. It glowed with a blue energy and every so often, an orb of mana floated out of it. Patches of grass and tiny insects buzzed around it. Delta knelt down and stroked the ground.
“It’s beautiful!” she said with delight and Nu dinged in agreement.
Nu’s words held a tone of victory and Delta also began to smile.
182 DP... 12 mana per day on top of guests and her gobs collection...adding any more spider attacks.
It was picking up and it wouldn’t be long before Delta would be making some very important choices.
“What are mana springs? Why do they exist?” she wondered.
Delta stared into the crack and narrowed her eyes. She then...reached inside.
It was... warm and then it was cold...It turned solid and Delta panicked for a moment until it suddenly became air.
The mana was cycling through states of being. It was everything, yet it was nothing.
“So, I have to make this a shrine or something?” she asked. She imagined the room as some church-like space that would draw people to stare at her glowing crack. Delta paused and after pulling the bad image out of her head, decided to just call it the spring. Nu seemed to chuckled.
“Hide the treasure under the junk... Nu, that’s rather devious!” Delta grinned and Nu seemed to jingle.
Delta nodded and then bit her lip. Slimers as a monster could summon... The idea just sat with her, heavy.
“Nu, lock the Slimer option away so I can’t see it in my menus unless I ask for it or you think it will save a life, please,” she requested and the option faded from her menu. This made her feel better. Delta did wondered how many more monsters she would lock away in the coming days?
She shrugged and stood. Looking at the room, she knew exactly what a storeroom needed. Something that any good place should have for new blonde kids coming out the forest for the first time.
Pots... and barrels.
Lots of them.
Delta would not regret them per se... but she definitely did not see what crazed mania she would inspire in Mr Japes, the Potter of Durence in the coming days.