“Yes... I know... I know...I know,” Delta agreed as Queen Lizzie buzzed angry at the utterly theft of her royal honey. Several squirming larvae wriggled with hunger. The Queen seemed to compose herself and buzz softly. Delta floated near the crown of the stone pillar. The buzzing seemed to rise and fall in a lulling pattern.
Delta got the rough gist of it.
“Nu just got excited and I guess he lost his head. I’m having Devina fetch the honey as best she can but a lot of it is already mixed into the pitfall hole soil,” Delta explained. Rale moved the broken log to a field of flowers where it made a nice peaceful scene before he heaved the new and whole log bridge back into place.
The old log had many holes and cracks running through where Nu had... improved it. The vine traps with hoisted people by their ankles were already turned into nice scenery vines, the rather oddly placed rocks near the base of the tree where someone may cut themselves free and land and break their ankles... looked more decorative then dangerous now.
Delta felt a headache appear when she thought of the obvious fake treasure chest in Bob’s pool, place just so it was visible but out of reach. She simply pushed it to the bottom, giving the dancing crabs a castle to rule from and something for Bob to play with.
She did not want to even think of the spring traps in the beds...
It wouldn’t kill anyone, Nu was careful about that but people would need therapy for the noise and suddenly folding of the beds for years to come.
“Nu, go back to the corner,” Delta said calmly without looking at the floating box. Nu moved to face her.
Delta hesitated as Nu’s words grew bigger in his box.
“But... it all worked out,” she defended weakly and Nu just rippled.
Nu blinked and vanished. Delta stared at the space and sighed, putting a hand to her face as if to ward off Nu’s words.
But she wasn’t going to deny the fact that she came very close to dying when Renny appeared. If she hadn’t glimpsed the number vision and saw that glimmer of hope...
Delta would either be dead or have Ruli become a murderer for her.
The Queen buzzed and flew to hover never Delta’s nose. The bee touched it and Delta felt a flash of connection.
A dozen or so points of view suddenly filled Delta’s mind. Distorted visions of pollen and large petals, endless streams of ‘flower’ and ‘Queen’ flowed between the voices and they all collected in the Queen’s head. The Queen made a choice and some of the tired bees flew further and further from the hive to gather more nectar.
“But, they’ll not make it back healthy if they’re that tired,” Delta protested and the Queen twitched again and a dozen or so wiggling eyes appeared. The heavy pang of hunger surrounded Delta and she winced.
“But... the babies will die if you don’t make them,” Delta whispered. The Queen moved back, a feeling of regret and determination flowed through her.
“It’s not easy being in charge, is it?” Delta asked honestly and the Bee bounced off Delta’s nose and almost chided her in a series of buzzes. Delta itched the spot and looked around.
“It’s all here because of me. If I go... it all goes,” she agreed and Nu flickered into view with no words on his screen.
“We do this together. No more of the mad genius crap,” Delta said, eyeing him with a side look.
Delta rubbed her nose and raised one eyebrow.
“Well, happens to the best of us. I made Bob after all,” she reminded and Nu dinged.
Delta grinned but from behind Nu came a smaller screen that seemed to use Nu as a shield.
It asked almost meekly and Delta just stared then turned to Nu for an explanation.
Nu looked annoyed but Delta touched down on the ground.
“I shouted at you. Not the system itself. Besides, what’s it doing outside in a box? I thought you were our go-between? I already kinda have enough trouble with enough floating boxes around,” Delta waved a hand about. Nu seemed to shrug, curving his corners as if he still had shoulders...
Delta listened with a frown.
“The system was promoted? I accidentally made my menu a core and my system your little helper? So, what would happen if the system doesn’t return to its place?” she asked curiously.
Nu turned to look at the smaller box with an odd noise.
“Noted and remembered. So, now that we’ve all calmed down, we should really-” Delta began and Devina cleared her throat.
Delta screeched and spun with an accusatory finger.
“Devina!” she scowled and a sudden thwack noise came from behind her. Delta jumped again, spinning with an animalistic shriek.
Renny stood there with two sticks, smacking them together to make noise. He tilted his head and seemed to giggle. Devina hummed.
“I am still annoyed you almost ate me but I must say... good show,” Devina admitted, carrying a clay pot sloshing with honey towards the pillar for the bees to swarm around. Renny made a heaving motion and the pot lifted off the ground and rose as Renny pulled on the invisible rope.
It made the bees’ journey much easier and the moved the honey as fast as they could.
Delta blew her hair out of face watching the frog and the mime working together to repair the damage done to the bees..
Delta slowly turned to stare at Nu but the smaller screen moved closer.
“...Sure, I always wanted a circus. Just need a unicorn, a castle, and my prince,” she said dryly and hit accept.
The box twitched and a new option appeared.
Delta knew the resources that Nu had wasted were hard to bear when looking at the numbers but...
She looked at Renny, applauding a rather good flip from Devina as she caught the clay pot when it was released from Renny’s powers. She remembered that tent on a rocky hill with the sea of stars beaming down at it.
It wasn’t just a tent with some acts going on. Not to Renny.
It was a home.
The screen seemed to shiver and the convert option faded away.
The box fizzled and faded away and Delta shivered as a feeling ran through her. Like something that had gone numb finally regaining feeling.
The system was back in operations, Delta could feel where it was now.
Maybe because she had finally used the number world? Or maybe... because she felt what it was like without it?
“Nu, can you talk to the system?” she had to ask as the dark corridor that contained the circus began to emanate a glowing light.
“I like that. I really want to hear the system’s song,” she smiled as Nu showed her a shy side.
Delta laughed and ran after Nu’s screen as it flew off.
Devina looked at Renny who tilted his head at her.
“Just accept them. They are the sun and moon, different but both beyond our grasp,” she informed him and Renny nodded seriously.
“AND THAT IS HOW I SAW RULI VERY HORNY AS SHE BEAT UP A MIME!” Deo Brawndo exclaimed with a bright smile and Mr Jones actually paused before his casual smile appeared.
“Very good, Mr Brawndo but this was about your review of the book I assigned you last week,” The teacher explained and Deo blinked and then nodded with furious energy.
“I LIKED THE END OF THE BOOK BECAUSE IT MADE ME THINK AND I WANT A SEQUEL!” he added and Mr Jones nodded very slowly.
“It was the history of the 25th war between the King and Queen. There are many sequels, it’s currently on the 56th book,” he explained and Deo looked extremely happy.
It infuriated him. It made him want to scream.
He sat near the front, a perfect essay and well thought out criticism of the current feudal system with references sitting at a 70/100 while Deo got a hearty 40!
A mere 30 difference and all that screaming idiot did was talk nonsense about Mimes and mushrooms and a vase!
Grimnoire Pictus seethed. He eyed the comment near the bottom.
“Interesting thoughts but is still limited by personal biases. Also, this isn’t due, I haven’t even handed this out yet. Please wait until homework is assigned before finishing it.”
He was simply taking the initiative and destroying a foe before it could grow powerful!
Grim glared as Deo walked past, graded paper stuffed into a pocket as he sat next to gloomy looking Poppy and an irritated Amanster.
He could barely restrain himself until class was over. He drew details, plans and theories while the minutes passed. Plans for when he came of age, plans for the possible combinations of relics and magic to make himself utterly unbeatable.
The right combo of nullification and countering magic... it was going to be perfect.
Until then... he had a very tactical sandwich with ham when he exited the school building, eyes narrowing on Deo’s red hair, the idiot screaming to the world and to no annoyingend the world responded as birds sang and people waved at him.
Grim moved fast and cut Deo off, the other boy paused then smiled at him, utterly ignoring Grim’s level 4 glare attack.
“HI GRIN!” he shouted and the name made Grim see red.
“GRIM! You bumbling buffoon!” he snapped and Amanster smirked at his reaction. Poppy just shook her head but Grim ignored them.
Only Deo mattered.
He struck with absolute perfect ambush skills, practised of course by sneaking up on annoying birds trying to eat bread in the park. His fist grazed Deo’s cheek and the other boy beamed and nudged Grim’s face in some odd friendly gesture.
Grim saw the world spin and when it stopped, he was in a bush.
He just laid there for a while and Deo’s voice called over.
“I’LL SEE YOU TOMORROW GRIN! I LOVE OUR SECRET HANDSHAKE BUT I THINK POPPY SAW IT!” he warned and ran off.
Grim watched the sun overhead beam as if Deo’s voice could control even it with his inane ramblings.
It was unfair. It was so unfair that Deo wielded such power when he... Grim could not even impress his teacher. He fought his way out of the bush and threatened it.
It kicked him out and ran back into Dabberghast’s garden. Grim scowled at it and then spun, glaring at the amused looks of the people around him.
“Oi, stop fighting in the streets,” a bored voice called and Grim saw Quiss Firesmasher walk past without actually looking at Grim.
He wanted to retort with something witty but Quiss scared him so Grim just glared at his back and then winced as his cheek bled. Not Deo’s work but the bush and its thorns. He opened his back an ripped a page from the ‘Guides to various other guides’ and chewed on it. He winced as his body churned and the page became a lump in his stomach.
It then finally spread and he felt his cheek heal. Deo could shake the world with his voice and Grim could chew on old copies of his dad’s trashy romance novels and slowly heal cuts.
It wasn’t fair.
He stomped down the road and tried to think of how to trick the local blacksmith into enchanting a book so he could eat it and maybe finally get somewhere...
His Dad could eat any metal weapon and do amazing things! He used to eat spoons and do those embarrassing shows for Grim when he was young and wanted a bedtime story.
If he had that power then he could stand equal and maybe even last longer than a second against Deo.
He just had to be... better.
Grim slowed down and a quiet though entered his head.
If he had Grandpa Pic’s powers, he would win against Deo. But that wasn’t how inherited powers worked. Grandpa Pic could eat anything, his Dad could eat any metal because Grandma was a metal whisperer.
Grim’s own mother was just... normal. Grim felt a hint of shame for referring to his mother by that term but compared to most of the town, his Mom was just really nice and awesome but she had no special powers, she was just … Mom.
So why did his powers mutate like this? Why did he only eat books!?
Grim stomped down the road. Dad wouldn’t let him get any good equipment and all the rare books were gone. He couldn’t find anything. The local bookstore didn’t have anything beyond the oddest of books.
Grim wasn’t even sure he could do anything with magic books but he had to try.
To was either that or accept that he would never stand in the same world as Deo Brawndo and his stupid dungeon adventures!
Grim slowed again outside the bakery where that new woman in town blinked at him. He saw that she was nervous and he moved on quickly.
Dungeons dropped loot. Loot was magical. Magical books maybe? He hadn’t given the place much thought.
Like the spirit train that had stopped outside the town for a week and vanished after Quiss started quoting parking laws at it, New things had to really make an impact to catch his attention.
But... Deo had been going there and seemed to learn a lot.
Perhaps this den of wisdom was exactly what Grim needed?
After all, a dungeon challenges the person in the body and mind! It took them to their limits and pushed them beyond. It was a treasure trove of epic loot and cunning.
Grim felt a slow smile appear on his face as he chewed another page.
This dungeon had to be the cleverest or strongest if it decided to risk appearing here near Durence. Grim was now running home with a gleam to his eye.
This Delta had to be some powerful knowledgeable grandmaster that held the answers to his troubles!
“I DIDN’T MEAN TO!” Delta screamed as the newly formed guardian of the Circus room slammed down with a mighty roar.
The giant silver crested ape let loose a thunderous yell and beat his chest as if to challenge all.
Renny rushed in the ape froze as the Mime leapt at it. The ghoul wrapped his arms around the leg of the monster and the Ape inhaled through its nostrils.
It wrinkled its nose and picked Renny up with a flat look.
Renny mimed holding a ball and threw it.
Something thudded against the wall and the ape didn’t move.
Delta watched, mind blank, as Renny threw the ball again and the ape sighed with a long-suffering noise and went to follow the noise with the motions of having done this a million times.
Delta whimpered as a mushroom popped out of the ground in front of the tent and seemed to shiver at the space to grow into.