Delta dreamed of microwaves.
The machine dinged and Delta snorted awake in alarm. With a moment dedicated to remembering who she was, Delta blinked a few times. She felt... odd as she stood. It took a moment for her to remember she had fallen asleep.
Sleep. It had been something she hadn’t done since... before the demon child. It had been awhile since she had thought of that being. Delta yawned and grumbled as she scratched her back. Her first tunnel twinkled with the Lumen mushrooms. It was bright but she guessed that for normal people it was only a low level of visibility.
She felt lopsided as if something extra had been attached to her left hip. It took some effort as she walked to not turn and tumble. The extra ‘her’ had weight to it like a twin had been attached to her body but Delta felt none of the emotional attachment. She stretched her awareness and immediately pulled it back in alarm.
Delta had never known how to view her floor in its entirety but now, she knew. It made her mind spin as she stumbled. It wasn’t just up and down she felt but down and around and up and away. Her true self, the core, felt odd. Delta rushed to her core room only to see a staircase in the core room and no orb. Hesitant, she moved towards the stairs and felt her vision blur as space lunged forward. Her sight cleared on a new space, her core now relocated to some new area.
The Second Floor
This was the second... her second floor. Delta gasped as she stumbled. Her knees hit hard as she felt this new space, it’s unknownness hit like a hammer. Delta had never been this low or this deep. It was a new challenge, it was a new opportunity. It was... scary.
Delta gasped as she tried to stretch her awareness out and only to have the feeling bounce back after a single room. Delta climbed to her feet. She had... bought this. Delta had wanted the second floor. Why? Her confuddled mind demanded answers and Delta could only rub her eyes in response as empty questions rose.
Delta inhaled and looked around the lone core room. She had wanted this... to expand her options. Delta had wanted this because... it was good for...
What were their names? Ruiss? Quli?
No, that wasn’t right. Ruli! Yes, the woman who made Delta felt like she had friends! Delta took a moment to go over everything. She had come from... Eearth...Earth? Had she been reborn a Cellar? Dungeon?
Dungeon felt right and she took a few steps forward and felt stronger as she kept stretching her awareness. She was Delta and she wanted to be... good to the humans. This rang true and Delta felt her headache ebb away as the memories returned. She was a human and she did not want to kill.
This hit her so strongly that Delta almost fell to her knees again.
Once she felt strong enough, she stood on her own two legs. This was her second floor and it felt like a tiny dark spot in her mind, so empty... so unreal. Delta knew she had so much more space and with a tremble, she forced herself to return to the first floor.
The influx of information was almost overwhelming and Delta stumbled again.
That familiar ringing. Delta grabbed onto it with everything she had left. It was so exhausting to think, so hard to remember.
Delta grabbed the blue light and it flashed.
“N-... Nu? Where am... I?” Delta rasped and the menu before her dinged.
The words were empty as words could be but Delta sniffed as she felt the concern emanated from the simple screen. She stood and felt power return to her body.
“I... couldn’t remember who I was and I didn’t... I couldn’t remember you or the gobs or the people!” Delta wiped furiously at her nose. Nu was quiet for a moment.
The words seemed to change like bad static as Nu seemed to force some words to change sizes.
“It’s okay. We’re here... and I feel okay. I think I’m going to be okay,” Delta took a deep breath to calm herself.
Delta sniffed back tears as everything came rushing back.
She felt happy to remember who she was. She felt sad to not have a working form. Delta felt so happy to have Nu.
It all mixed together and Delta sobbed as she tried to hug the screen. She felt some warmth before she opened her eyes to see empty air.
Delta watch as her menu faded away for a moment. She grabbed at the air where it was in futility.
“Nu? Come back, I... didn’t mean to upset you!” Delta whispered. She tried a few more times to summon him but only got the basic menu. After a few moments of silence and fear, Nu reappeared.
“Of course! What... Nu, tell me what does the second floor grant me!” Delta tried to order as best as she could without her voice shaking.
Everything was moving too fast and Delta felt scared. Her first floor had never scared her. It had always been a joy to improve, but to feel this? It made Delta afraid of looking too closely.
Delta was no dungeon at heart. Normal dungeons would take this change with ease but Delta struggled to even focus on it.
Delta blinked and reread the list. Several things jumped out at her.
First, the idea of having a burning anything near a jungle floor or a flooded floor was just silly. It was basically asking for a handicap. Having skeletons in water sounded like a good idea but Delta closed her eyes and the Slimers appeared.
Undead scared Delta silly, even by proxy. The empty gazes, the bare bones, the inhuman noises...
So she selected the Frog people and the Jungle theme by process of elimination. Sure, Delta could make the frog people work under water. But she felt a little attraction towards the Jungle theme due to one thing.
Her plant purchases would surely grow well on this level.
Delta felt more herself as she made an illogical choice and picked the frog people and the jungle theme. Her Core room flashed and the normal soil and wooden boards changed to a leafy green root floor and each corner gained an odd tree. Its roots formed the floor and its branches stretched across the ceiling as they grew rapidly. Smaller trees and dense thickets making up the walls of the room. A fog spread around her that she could not quite see through. But there was a feeling of distance there and luminous stones in the now very high cavern ceiling glowed with what almost looked like sunlight.
Delta gasped as the heat rose by several degrees and a thin wispy mist formed over the floor of the room. Delta wiped her forehead as she felt the heat get to her. It was still good to feel something other than awareness and dirt.
Delta bent down and examined the roots making up the floor of the room, they looked sturdy beyond reason and looking up, the ceiling looked very far away indeed. It made her feel so very big in her mind, like some unknown part of herself had awakened.
The mist? The trees? A benefit of buying this theme? Would the flooded mines have deep yawning chasms? Would the heated caves leak lava? Delta felt like she had purchased the right thing and with excitement opened the menu.
Delta smiled as she opened her map and her menu.
So much to do, so little time.
Delta tapped the tunnel button in excitement and it suddenly vanished. Delta blinked as the menu refused to reappear. The noise came from above and Delta followed the noise with her eyes and found herself on the first floor.
“-Uck you, get out before I make you,” Ruli growled at a young man with a large rifle in his arms. The man looked furious at Ruli’s attempt at preventing him from going beyond the spider room. His weak beard and rounding face made Delta guess he was younger than he wanted to appear.
“Miss DarknessBane, please move. This place murdered my father! He was stolen from us and the goblins murdered him. He deserves justice!” the man snapped and Ruli curled her lip.
“Your Daddy knew what this place was. He came in here after a pig. He knew what a dungeon was and what it could be. Your father was an idiot to come in here with a pistol. This dungeon only just woke up at the time and is still learning. It didn’t command your Dad to die!” Ruli pushed the young man back gently but even Delta could see how much effort it took for the man to remain standing. Delta covered her mouth as the man began to cry.
“Please! He was my Dad, he was my Dad... He didn’t ask to die, he didn’t ask for his pig to be stolen! He... I don’t want him to be dead!” the boy sobbed hard. Ruli stared him down hard.
“Delta would never have killed your father if she could prevent it. Dil, just turn around and get out of here,” Ruli begged. Dil just raised his gun.
“I am going to shatter her core, I am going to make her regret killing my Dad! Move!” Dil ordered, tears running down his face. Ruli just looked down, hair covering her eyes. Her voice was blank when she spoke.
“I can’t let you do that, Dil. Your Momma needs you, your little sisters need you. Go before Quiss see’s you here or hears what you’re saying!” Ruli snapped and her black hair began to move in some unseen wind. Dil sobbed harder, not making much sense as he gibbered on.
Delta fell to her knees, looking at the young man.
“I... so sorry,” she choked. Never able to forget the man who came in after a stolen pig, his death and fire crystal a boon but his death a stain on Delta’s soul. The warm wind blew through the entrance hall.
Ruli looked up and Delta could see her hard eyes.
“She’s begging for forgiveness. Can you feel it?” Ruli asked softly and Dil’s gun wavered.
“I...” he trailed off for a moment as he just cried. The fire rifle in his hands looking so heavy he might drop it at any moment.
“I am so sorry! Please... I would... I am sorry,” Delta pleaded and Dil just screamed as he fired at the ceiling in pain and anguish. Ruli let him, her hand on her knife going soft. Dil just kept screaming.
“Don’t say sorry! Don’t say so...rry. I want my Dad back! Give me back my Dad!” he screamed and his fire crystal went dark after a few shots. Delta felt the bullets like a sudden toothache, so minor compared to the pain Dil felt.
Ruli moved and Delta couldn’t even see Dil slip into unconsciousness. His eyes slipping back as Ruli’s hand moved back from his neck.
“Shh... sh...” she whispered as Dil let go of the gun and fell into Ruli’s arms. The dark-skinned woman looked up to the ceiling where the bullets had made large holes.
“I know yo- I know you would do better. Give him time. I am begging. Don’t judge us or him because of this. He is just in pain,” she called and cradled Dil like a child. Delta could only mumble more apologies.
Ruli nodded as the warm wind hit her again. It seemed like she was extra sensitive to it.
“Yeah. You’re too nice for your own good. Listen, I’m going to get Dil home. I’ll be back soon and, I get it, I understand,” Ruli smiled weakly as she began to move towards the entrance.
“You’re a dungeon and people die. Even with a nice dungeon like you. Don’t take it personally,” she said as she passed the white barrier but Delta was too numb to call after her.
Delta did take it personally. She took it very personally.
Dil... Delta would make it up to him. She didn’t know how or how long but Dil and his mother would never have to struggle again as long as Delta was herself.
They... deserved justice.
Delta sobbed as the memory rushed over her. She had killed the man and she had buried the memory under progression and upgrades. The guilt hit hard and Delta fled to her second floor where things felt more numb. It wasn’t until the next day she could gather herself and put her redemption into action.