Delta was idly petting one of the spiders with a shaky finger.
“These aren’t so bad, I m-mean compared to some things, they’re just multi-legged hamsters!” Delta laughed nervously and the spider scuttled off, insulted.
“No, wait!” Delta said and stood up to brush the non-existing dust from her skirt.
“Nu, I will go back down eventually. I just need to get over the fact that I gambled and summoned the hell worm from the blood sea of Mars!” Delta slightly waved her hands and Nu scoffed as he flashed.
Delta put her hands on her hips, narrowing her eyes.
“Don’t make me sound so bad. I’m not used to worms bigger than my arm! Or bigger than me for that matter! I’m not used to them looking like they were born in some evil research lab for monsters!” Delta argued and Nu dinged.
Nu joked and it made Delta give up her petulant argument.
“How about we do some needed work on this floor and give the bees a chance to get to work and our new trees time to drop some acorns?” she offered and hid a smile.
Nu was a rather complicated being but if there was something the little box loved more than anything, it was upgrading the dungeon.
Delta grumbled and went to the pond, flexing her fingers.
“No monsters, just nice little fishies...” she whispered and was about to get to work when her gobs returned. Hob carrying 2 buckets on a stick while Gob dragged a bundle of plants, eggs, berries into the dungeon in a sack.
“Master! Forest gone,” Hob grunted as if this was just something interest. Gob stretched.
“Spiders look angry. Saw much more!” he added happily and Delta closed her eyes slowly and inhaled.
“Nu, I swear I will drown you,” she threatened and Nu just dinged cheerfully away. Delta thanked her goblins for their work and let them go take a break at the goblin camp. Thankfully, her goblins had already killed anything in the buckets, simply emptying them on the ground caused her dungeon to devour the fading life.
The additions weren’t amazing but it was tiny things to really spruce places up.
This was welcome as it boosted her mana to a decent 24 mana and this gave some more things to do!
Delta tapped her chin, wondering when someone else would come to her dungeon. Just one or two would be great for her mana gathering.
“Vas, there are loud children at the door requesting you,” Japes called over to Vas. It tried to bury itself deeper into its work.
“I’m very busy, Master. Perhaps another time?” Vas responded in a high tone. Japes paused and eyed the frantic golem’s hands. Not actually doing anything except looking busy.
He leaned down, purring as he spoke. Vas froze as if a predator was now lurking over it. Smart child.
“Vas. Are you ignoring these people? Why is that?” Japes asked curiously and Vas shook its head.
“I don’t want to go outside! The loud one thinks I am his friend,” Vas explained with annoyance and Japes was startled to see such a display of open emotion. It wasn’t swaying nor blank acceptance.
“Are you not? You had an adventure together, no? They do build bonds of companionship,” Japes commented lightly which made Vas shiver.
“I don’t think I want these bonds. I am simply to help the fungi stop besmirching the art of pottery... not...that,” Vas tried to explain and Japes was absolutely delighted. The usually unflappable child of his was trying to wriggle out of social interaction!
“Aww... I understand, Vas,” Japes smiled brightly and the golem looked up, looking relieved at Japes’ words. Japes picked it up, opened the front door and neatly deposited Vas at the feet of the grinning child, Deo.
“Have Vas back before dinner, if you will,” he warned and Deo saluted.
“I SWEAR IT! COME VAS! RULI PROMISED TO TAKE US BACK INTO THE DUNGEON!” Deo spoke. Japes felt one of his ears ache before Deo physically dragged Vas away, able to ignore the golem’s polite but futile resistance.
Japes felt his monstrous grin appear as they turned a corner.
His golem was developing faster than he could have ever imagined! These spawn of the people around him had a purpose other than to annoy him!
He simply must thank this dungeon for providing ample fertile room for his child to grow.
Maybe he’d give it one of his old pots he barely cared for? Japes was sure whatever laid within the pots he barely touched would barely be worth a risk or a danger.
Japes went back to resealing one of the captured prizes. It had... outgrown it’s current pot.
“I see fresh people are very busy around here,” Seth commented as Deo dragged Vas past them. Quiss watched the golem go a little limp and give Quiss a wave. He returned it half-heartedly.
“They’re going to the dungeon. Ruli seems to be growing attached to the little goblins,” he sniffed and Seth nodded.
“Goblins are very attackable. But you said dungeon is... how do you speak... kind?” he tried and Quiss nodded.
“Yeah, Delta, the core, does not kill,” he stressed his words and Seth followed him as he began to lead Seth around the village.
“Dungeon is not normal. It does not ham?” he asked seriously and Quiss almost miss his step.
“Oh... trust me, she does. But she does not harm. Delta likes people, she makes her monsters talk to us and even lets Ruli fish in her pond,” Quiss explained and Seth choked.
“Ruli do what in what? I feel Ruli must not over excite her person in such a way. I think we should reason to her how such dances do not...” Seth trailed off and Quiss stared blankly at him for several seconds.
“Ruli does not hyonunt, she comunops,” he tried and Seth’s eyes lit up.
“Ah, Ruli swings meaty staff for seabirds!” Seth said sagely and Quiss felt his lips twitch as he felt nostalgic for the old magic school days now long behind him.
“Yeah, sure... close enough. Come on, I’ll show you where the inn is. Prices are fair but the owner is peculiar about how you pay,” he explained.
Seth looked worried.
“I did not bring gold or objects for proposal!” he said and Quiss knew the man had counted on bunking with Quiss.
Quiss was all for it, except for the fact that Seth had taken a very peculiar course as his secondary education in magic school.
Dream Oracling for near future or past.
In other words...
The man rambled about imminent near doom on a micro-scale all night and no one would room with him. Except possibly the Shadowmancer in 5C.
That guy seemed to love it.
“Trust me, Sana is fair. Just expect to be doing things that might... make you feel a little nervous,” Quiss beamed which made Seth pale.
Words or not, he found Quiss’ expression to be all to clear.
First up was the sly but bright Yellowbelly Cod. Delta tapped open the menu and examined it.
Delta liked the fact there was no option to give them venom or make them toxic. It was rather refreshing. She hit the evolve and the fish glowed.
The yellow on the belly turned a more dark colour and spread across the fish’s body. When the light show died down, the fish swam in a dazzle of light that the even the dim lumen mushrooms could make look delicious.
The Silvertail examined his new friend and then swam around in excitement.
Delta checked the new menu.
Delta eyed that last one. A locked evolution.
There were only a few reasons Delta could think of that would cause it.
The fish itself needed to around or resist being caught, Delta herself was lacking something or Delta just wasn’t able to provide what the evolution needed.
It could one or all the above but Delta just put it aside for now. Happy to have just upgraded the fish.
She selected the next one on her list.
The scuttling Crayfish who looked excited as new things appeared in the pond.
Delta smiled and hit the evolve button, making the red crayfish turn blue and it claws to grow elongated. The feelers on its head looked like fine wire.
Delta cheered and was about to select the next fish when a screen appeared.
Delta blinked then opened the pond room upgrade without a word.
A few things had appeared since she last purchased everything.
Delta felt stunned for a while then she began to laugh cheerfully. This was amazing!
“Nu, not everyone is going to be able to fight. I have a boss room but... I think this dungeon should be equal opportunity. So, if you can’t bait a win out of Fran, maybe you can hook some success with fishing and earn your way onto the second floor! Nu, this is incredible, it says those ‘who caught’, not those who have those fish in their possession. People can’ just buy their way down to the second floor!”
Delta shrugged and purchased the Deep Pond and the tunnel without a thought. The room began to stretch and the walls seemed to take several large steps back. Her already decently large pond room became a small hall with a glimmering pond in the middle.
Waddles looked around as his alcove grew slightly.
“Quack...” he grumbled and went back to sleep.
Delta looked at her barren floor and some rocks.
She spent just a tiny bit of mana to install some grass and it looked better.
“I still have no idea where the tunnel leads...” Delta muttered and sighed. It was just so relaxing, to sit by the pond, feel the fish move past her feet, the solid arm-sized pinchers just grazing where she was sitting.
Delta’s eyes shot open and looked down.
The giant worm thing from the second-floor hole looked up at her, it’s eyeless face and gaping mouth slightly poking out the water. It looked naked without being buried in the silt and dirt but it wriggled in greeting before it tiredly drifted back down a small round hole that Delta couldn’t see until the worm vanished back down into it...presumably back to the second floor.
Delta felt herself calmly stand up, pulling her feet out of the water and stiffly walk away.
It... had come to say hello. It had moved through her, it had no eyes.
Delta swallowed and managed a weak smile.
“It’s friendly! That’s...good!” she managed. She walked fast and stiffly made it to Fran’s room where there wasn’t any water. Delta chided herself for being a coward towards the rather friendly death worm but she couldn’t help it, she needed some time to get her bearings around the thing.
It was good to know if someone unsavoury types did sneak past in this tunnel she had some form of defence waiting... The waterfall did empty into the outside of the abyss pool after all.
Fran’s door looked at her. The line between the sides of the door cut down the middle of a menacing boar with the tusks acting as curved handles to push the door open. On top, Fran’s visage stared down, gleaming orange gems for eyes.
The door was made of some dark metal and felt hot to the touch. The Greater Mushy seemed to moved closer to it and enjoyed the heat. Delta moved through the door and stood in the now much-improved boss room.
All around her, lining the edge of the room was rows of actual carved stone seats, slight stairs made reaching the top easier. The whitish sand looked firmer, less likely to be kicked up if moved through.
Delta willed the room to work and from the door, two torches in stone pillars burst into light. Another two on either side of the room, then again until the two torches standing on either side of Fran’s gate lit up.
The crisscrossing metal gate lifted slowly, creaking like a coming warning. Delta was impressed at the ominous image as a stone boar statue above the door lit two hidden torches in its eye sockets, making it look demonic.
Fran walked out with Bacon at his side.
Delta’s heart lit up at his unharmed state.
Fran grinned as Bacon happily kicked some sand up in a playful manner. The pig zoomed off as if high on sugar.
“Mother, this room is great! I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw it,” Fran began and Delta just rubbed the back of her head as her cheeks went pink.
“It was nothing, you deserved it after how well you did!” Delta praised and Fran crossed his arms to look away.
“I lost... but I do not regret it. Will you let me fight again?” he asked with such hope that Delta felt her heart hurt a little.
“Sure. Anyone can challenge you, after all. Just don’t go overboard and become bloodthirsty!” she warned and Fran rolled his eyes but his grin grew.
“I need to practise my entrance. Cram will be spreading my legend! Many people will come and I can’t wait to send them scampering!” he cackled. Delta blamed Nu for the goblin’s evil laugh. It just seemed something Nu would encourage.
“I’ll be back later. I’m glad you’re alive,” Delta called and Fran looked confused.
“I’d never die unless you die! Which will never happen cause I will guard you!” Fran laughed merrily and Delta smiled as she left the room to pause at the goblins camp. Numb and Billy were stacking pots as Mr Mushy happily sat listen to Cois wax his love for the eternal fire.
Odd fellows but Delta loved them all.
Delta jumped but turned to see Nu hovering near a goblin hut that was neatly pushed back against the wall.
“You have my attention, number two,” Delta joked and Nu ignored her timely reference and opened a map he drew himself. It looked identical to the current layout Delta had now except one corridor.
It connected the back of the storeroom to the goblin camp.
“Seems nice but kinda defeats the purpose of the other rooms,” Delta pointed out and Nu made a quick adjustment.
Writing next the path was big bold letters.
“Oh, that makes sense but how do we make a secret passage?” Delta wondered and Nu made a noise sounded like a small horn.
Delta looked at Nu with concern but didn’t voice them when Nu was in building mode. He would just get irritated.
“Oki doki. Later guys,” she waved to the monsters who all called back in various ways. A quick jaunt later and she stood in her somewhat cluttered Storeroom.
It was a decent selection. Delta guessed she hadn’t really done too much with the room for it to be offering many options but Delta visibly winced at the mana vent purchase.
That was... more DP than she was willing to pay right now. If it gave her just measly 1 mana for the upgrade... Delta shivered and pushed that thought away. No gambling on upgrades for the unseen future...
Delta tried to stay firm on that decision.
She picked the wall upgrade for now as it would work better with Nu’s plan.
All around, the loosely packed dirt and loose boards shimmers and grew. Solid wood panels and proper wooden planks now formed the wall and floor. It looked really nice and Delta beamed.
She made a corridor that bent into an L-shape and connected the goblin room and the Storeroom. The openly exposed dirt tunnel made the storeroom look odd so she opened the menu again.
“Secret... disguised...hidden...uh... false wall... don’t-let-anyone-see-this!” Delta chanted and the menu appeared.
Delta jumped, cheering at her apparent mastery of the system.
She purchased it and a wall, a perfect replicate of the rest, appeared. Delta saw a new screen appear.
Delta thought about it and then summoned Nu.
“It’s all your idea, so you should get to choose!” Delta grinned. Nu was quiet for a moment.
Delta blinked at the request and the screen flashed as it accepted the trigger.
She moved through it and saw a similar door on the other side. This one was disguised as the rough stone wall of the goblin hut.
“Must be the same opening trigger,” she mused and she invited Billy over.
Given him clear instructions, Billy knocked and spoke the password.
The fake wall swung open silently. There was a pause and Cois whooped with excitement as he no longer had to worry about the mudroom.
The tunnel was smooth but Delta noticed there was a little nub that formed near the middle, an almost turn off. Delta guessed she hadn’t focused enough when forming the tunnel. She eyed the space and wondered what to do with it.
“Kinda lonely in here, I doubt anyone would want to be in here...” Delta mused and then came tug. She turned and followed it to see the Greater Mushy coiled up and waiting. It looked like it had packed its life together and was waiting for some cab to take it to the airport.
It tugged again and Delta eyed it.
“You want to go... into the tunnel?” she tried and the Mushy’s eyes glowed red. It seemed to relish the idea of the isolation, or possibly just the peace and quiet.
“What would you do in there?” she wondered. Greater Mushy put a few stones down and tapped them, making quiet thudding noises.
It would entertain itself. It would tap rocks or make music.
Delta guessed that was all the reason it needed. She spent some mana to lift the monster and send it into the passage.
It fit snugly into the little nub.
Delta was glad to see it stretch out and explore its new surroundings.
She eyed the tiny rocks and objects it used to make music. Feeling like she was a bad caretaker. She focused and a set of drums, a small copper harp with thin wire. It wasn’t tuned and it sounded a little rough but Delta wondered if she could... ask Ruli to get her a piano.
The plant took some tentative smacks on the drum and froze at the clear banging noise. It hit again and one vine played across the harps.
It was definitely rough but the Mushy seemed to shiver.
Delta smiled and walked away. The secret passage closed and once it did. The sounds of drums echoed throughout the storeroom and goblin camp. The sound travelled and meeting in the pond room.
It sounded like a war drum and the spiders all raised two legs and did their ceremonial war dance and the goblins looked relaxed.
Fran roared and yelled for more as he practised his lance jabs.
Delta could only smile sheepishly at Nu’s disapproving box.
“It’s just a drum, it won’t be too bad,” she promised and Nu only moved closer to her face.
Delta made a face and stubbornly enjoyed the drumming.
She was sure, absolutely sure that the drumming and music was just harmless fun.
All around the dungeon, the mushrooms perked up as if called.
The Lumen mushrooms glowed slightly brighter. The edible mushrooms looked fresher. The gutrot curled and looked nasty.
Deep down, on the second floor.
The Black Bloodcurdling Mushrooms seemed to dance.