Rale was examining the room with interest as Delta stared at the menu before her.
Delta was smiling as the very thing she had planned had appeared. It was expensive, however. Delta would have to make sure she got the important things done first. The rising water was a gimmick to scare or to challenge people.
She still needed proper trees, more locations for monsters and people to travel to. The room was far too empty really and Delta couldn’t wait to fill it up.
It was all one big room and it was a little different than was she had planned but that was alright. She focused on the room behind the waterfall and frowned. While the rising water had appeared, options to do with the two-bed frames and feather-stuffed pillows and mattress had not.
“Nu, any idea why the system ignored them?” she asked and Nu’s box, busy with making sure the water wouldn’t flood somewhere it shouldn’t, floated closer.
Delta rubbed her throat at the words. Nu was so mattered in fact but Delta still tried for a weak smile.
“Thanks, I would rather not see those kinds of options,” she agreed. Nu dinged once.
Delta just pinched the screen side and Nu yanked out of her touch, making small grumbling text appear as he moved away.
Nu’s words made Delta perk up.
“Make it homely... yeah, I think I can do that. I had an idea as well, not sure if it’s possible but do you know for anyone who beats Fran to just skip the first level? Like if they could teleport directly to the second floor and skip the walk? The inn room might make a good spot for it,” Delta explained, using hand gestures that didn’t really mean anything.
They way he talked about the menus made Delta think the system was something that Nu... felt protective over.
“Do we help it mature by getting new levels?” she said, not pushing to know more about the relationship between Nu and the system. She knew the menu was having trouble with his existence as it was.
Delta nodded and looked upwards.
“How are they getting on?” she asked and Nu took a moment to answer.
Delta felt curiosity but she didn’t go to look. She had made a promise to work on the floor to Nu. She could control herself until they met Fran.
It was only one hallway between them. Five more minutes won’t hurt.
“-then I said ‘that’s no sword, that’s my teeth cleaner! This is my sword!’” Cram said and the goblins cracked up. Billy just shaking his head, amused as Numb guffawed into the meaty broth Smalls cooked over the fire.
The smaller man rolled his eyes as Cois cackled some sparks out his nose.
Hob and Gob nudged, grinning each other.
“Gob ran into spider, and spider tried to web us!” Hob began and Gob began to laugh as he remembered.
“I say to Hob ‘this is a sticky mess’!” he howled and Cram snorted and had to take a moment not to choke on his broth. Mr Mushy applauded the joke and Smalls shook his head.
“Horrible, who taught you how to make such bad jokes?” he mock-chided as he offered more of the bubbling liquid to the goblins. They all shared a look and then looked down at the ground.
“Mother!” they all cheered. Mr Mushy looked pleased as Smalls used his pot to cook the broth.
Down the hall, the Greater Mushy rippled as he tried to ignore the happy people. He looked down at the ground where a series of rocks and pots stood close to the wall.
Gifts of his brother, Mr.
The tentacle mushroom softly began to tap the pot side, then one of the rocks, then to another large pot.
Low thud, high tap, low knock, high tap. The rhythm begin to form and the series of noises pleased the demonic looking plant.
Greater tried to remember how Mother hummed.
High tap, high tap, low knock, long tap.
Not quite but it was closer.
Delta had added a table, a few chairs and a campfire. It left her with 15 mana to toy with. The people upstairs were giving her small but steady mana. It was going well. She closed her eyes as contentment and laughter flowed to her.
She tilted her head as if to listen harder.
Her monsters, her goblins, were having a good time. Delta smiled without opening her eyes. She soaked in the feeling of joy and merriment. She added a stone sconce to a nearby wall and spun, sending her skirt spinning as she laughed.
Opening her eyes, she found the room to be a slightly better sight.
“Can we smooth the walls and ceiling slightly?” she asked and a box appeared.
It wasn’t Nu but what had to be the system.
“Please,” she nodded and the room glowed as the rough stone walls and roof smoothed into a more artificial space. She would have to edit the campfire to respawn wood like the pond room but as far as Delta could see, the space was looking better by the second!
She imagined tired explorers putting their feet up. Pictured the relieved looks people would have if they saw the beds, the warmth of the campfire.
“Yes!” Delta cheered and the box closed and a new one appeared.
“Nu, don’t worry about it, not yet. I mean no one had ever seen the second floor, who knows how long it will take them to even see this place... I hope they like it. I really do,” Delta clasped her hands behind her back and smiled at the small space.
Delta spun, a large smile forming on her face but Nu interrupted her.
Delta blinked as Nu vanished. She turned to Rale who was relaxing near the waterfall.
“Rale! I’ll be back soon, I’ll make you some friends soon! Oh, I got to hurry!” Delta said quickly, making her frogman blink slowly at her departing voice.
“I shall await your return, Mother Delta,” he said seriously into the empty air. He dived and tried to lift a rock near the bottom. He tried to imagine it was some foolish human and heaved.
Fat humans wore metal and didn’t do well in water. Rale would have to build his already impressive arms to a new level of power to have a chance at doing as Mother requested. He would lift all the rocks, he would carry the humans to safety, he would make them praise Delta for her kindness.
That was his duty.
Fran often felt like he was a little mad. He and Bacon sometimes had full conversations where Bacon said nothing but spoke all the same. Mostly, he was sure it was due to the lack of... use he was doing. The spider invasion never reached him... the children had been amusing but not a threat at their current teamwork level and well... Mr Mushy was too nice for Fran to bait into a fight.
But he stood, every inch of him trembling with excitement as people came. Two new ones. New people, new powers, new threats.
Delta was nearby, watching.
“...Good luck, I’ll cheer for you!” she called and Fran felt his heart swell at the words. She wasn’t making him back down or submit if they challenged Fran...
He could accept.
A fight. He could finally fight.
“Woah, nice room,” a loud voice called as it walked in. Bacon inhaled and Fran mirrored it. The new scents were exotic and familiar. One of wood and old blood, the second of scented things and cooking.
“Yes, it’s basic but I think it has a very nice aesthetic to it. I like the arena theme,” the calmer voice called and Fran preened just a little at the praise of his room. Bacon snorted and Fran shushed him.
It wouldn’t do to ruin their first grand entrance.
“So, you see those rules? More rules and a chance to back out, nice of this place,” the loud one called.
“The dungeon has manners, they are a thing, my dear Cram,” the smooth voice chided.
He urged Bacon forward. He spoke as he and his steed left the darkness of the hole in the wall.
“Challengers. Welcome... to the boss room,” he almost purred with excitement. The two men eyed him, not as startled as Fran would have liked but they nodded in greeting and respect.
“I am Sir Fran, are you here to challenge me?” he asked, voice like steel. He practised in front of Bacon. Every posture and phrasing to appear as bossly as possible.
The larger man, not quite human, spoke.
“I guess we are. The name is Cram,” he nodded again as the smaller man bowed in an elegant manner.
“I am Ruberoi Smalls. A pleasure to meet such a well-manned boss. Most are usually gibbering gnolls or war chiefs. A knight is... interesting,” he praised and Fran wanted to squee slightly as they praised him.
Delta was watching, the goblins rushed into the room and sat high on the stair-like wall the edged the room to watch the fight. This was everything.
His challengers were worthy, his time had come.
Sir Fran swept his iron lance around like a flag.
“Then you will hear my rules. This will be a fight but I will not aim to kill on purpose. If I am to win, you may leave but if you take such a mercy and use it against me, your life is forfeit. I know that death is nothing to me but I hope you may show me the same respect,” Fran said, voice almost shaking. He was too excited and even Bacon was trying to appear even more majestic in the light.
Cram and Smalls looked at each other. Smalls bowed again.
“I wish to sit out. I am not a fighter. May I watch with the goblins?” he asked and Fran hesitated, a little let down to have already lost one of his foes. He nodded and Smalls gave Cram a friendly pat on his back. He jogged up and sat neatly down next to Billy who nodded.
Fran focused on Cram, seeing the man’s huge muscles and a wide grin.
“Well, I could never say no to a friendly tussle. Any more rules or can we get started?” he flexed a few times and the axe at the man’s side flashed. Fran grinned back.
“No rules, just a request. When you leave... tell the world of Sir Fran. Tell the world. Sir Fran is ready!” he shouted and Bacon stamped the ground a few times and charged. Cram laughed and put his own head down to meet the boar in mid-charge.
Delta could only watch with a hand over her eyes, peeking between the fingers.