The box before her seemed to shiver as Delta closed it.
“It’s not a problem. Nu, tell the system I’ll get on that soon,” she said, feeling relaxed as she stretched. Having just moved her core behind the circus to enjoy the benefits of a free mini-boss, Delta felt a lot better. The Bloodcurdling Mushroom seemed to contain itself nearby. Waiting for Delta to look away before it bred, no doubt.
Delta pursed her lips and something tugged at her mind. The upgrade box had said something about a mushroom... the nice looking Lumen mushroom. Delta liked those ones. Her brain went up and beyond itself as it pulled another tiny tidbit.
Nu talking about the Bees.
How they could have multiple hives could cause a war...
Delta’s stare made the mushroom shrink down on itself.
Nu informed her and Delta flexed her fingers and checked her resource meters.
Thankfully, Nu had not dipped into the important DP.
“I’m not plotting Nu. I am commencing war,” she corrected as Renny went about the tent, sweeping dust off of the seats with a mimed broom. The giant ape beast, lying about on its side, lifted the entire four-row bench stand with one hand, letting Renny get better access.
The ape had looked around at its new space and seemed to look a little restless at the tiny space. Delta couldn’t blame him. He looked like he was used to acres of wildness to move about in.
The words came with a sigh and Delta waved him off.
“Nu, this thing is following me and is infecting everything I do. I need to work on defences, my attitude about being a dungeon core, how to make this place a success to make sure it’s not us against the world but before any of that stuff. I have to beat this thing,” Delta pointed with a jab at the mushroom.
Delta opened up the menu and flicked it with a grin.
“I kinda stop need going after them like they are a mistake in the system. They’re not. They’re good little creature's who have to obey the rules just as much as anything. I know that they can’t grow out of control or block the way so I’m thinking its time these little suckers had some competition. If I can’t get rid of these damn things, I will utterly subjugate them with my own mushrooms!” Delta laughed and a lumen mushroom sprouted next to the black bloodcurdling.
It wriggled before going still.
Delta leaned down and pointed at the black mushroom.
“I know we have never gotten on and I know this system behind your existence is beyond anything I can understand but I know you can hear me. Stop breeding and you can stay. If you infect anything else, the gloves come off,” she warned.
Silence answered her and Nu moved closer.
Nu went silent as second black mushroom sprouted near the first.
“Nu, these guys are pretty powerful, speaking effect wise. I think we don’t need to erase them, just cull them,” she hissed as stroked her pretty Lumen Mushroom. The Bloodcurdling would only continue to grow worse at this rate. Comparing the two, the Lumen mushroom never spread where it wasn’t supposed to nor mutated without permission. It was a good shroom and Delta needed it to act on her behalf.
It just needed some...additions.
The contract with Renny, the ape surprise, the mushrooms, her guilt at not being a good leader... all the rampant emotions firing through her after today, they all narrowed down into this single goal.
“Open the Lumen upgrade menu!” she ordered and Nu eagerly shifted to be the menu he sometimes acted like.
Delta felt a rush of victory seize her as the options appeared.
“You know, it’s not too bad showing some tough love,” Delta mused as she swiped her finger down the entire list.
The black mushroom shivered as the Lumen mushroom glowed brightly.
The light died down the simple cream covered mushroom now looked slightly different.
The cap had become like a thin membrane with holes so one can peer into the core of the fungus. A single stem grew inside the cap now, at the end was a single point of light. It was brighter than the soft glow the Lumen Mushroom had before, it now pierced the shadows when it moved, casting the light through different angles and intensities of the membrane.
It was a star and it gleamed with a tempting light. It swayed slightly and Delta gasped as the light made the cave look mysterious yet...inviting.
She looked down and grinned.
“Spread, to the jungle, to the pool, to the bees... shine your light everywhere!” she encouraged and the mushroom’s light began to softly change colours and it became almost hypnotic.
Nu silently switched to its menu.
Delta turned and cleared her throat.
“Do not eat my bees,” she warned sternly. The Starlight only wriggled.
Another grew out from the nearby wall and the allure of the room only grew. Delta watched as the two mushrooms seemed to point their starstalks at the black mushrooms, pulsing with a blue light.
“I swear, if those Bloodcurdling mushrooms grow red starstalks to fight back, I am going to get sued,” Delta mumbled but perked up as she felt... better. A rush of ‘doing something’ made her want to do more!
She spun as Renny set the pile of dust, a hill almost bigger than Delta, outside the tent. She hadn’t known she would claim everything in the room. Now she had special dungeon dust. It was going to be fun trying to think of a use for that outside pocket dust surprise attacks from her gobos. The giant ape sniffed and then exploded the dust mound with a sneeze, making Renny go from porcelain white to chalky grey.
He paused and then gripped something by his side and poured it over his head.
The magic made his hat slink down as if suddenly soaked, yet no water dripped. The dust slid off of his form and washed into the soil. Odd to see it happen when there was nothing actually there.
“Renny, how are you feeling?” she asked and the mime put a hand to his chin to think. He nodded and patted his stomach, looking pleased.
“Good to hear! Uh see!” Delta corrected herself before she looked around.
“So, besides the war of mushrooms I just unleashed, can I do anything to make your space better?” she offered and Renny nodded. He beckoned her to follow and he stood at the entrance, he turned around and then walked dramatically into the Circus room.
He stopped and peered unimpressed by the cave. He gestured to the empty space and at the entrance.
Delta looked between them and replied hesitantly.
“You want something to impress people?” she guessed and Renny gave her a thumbs up. Delta felt almost fluent in mime at this point.
She looked at the large space before the tent and drew a blank for a moment. She didn’t want to put any old idea down, not another tree or pond... This was Renny’s home, where his family laid resting.
Delta blinked as her brain went for a record and supplied a thought that hadn’t occurred to her before.
“Nu, did we... absorb the bodies and stuff? Renny’s family?” she asked quietly and Nu seemed to rewind, scrolling back through his series of announcements.
That wasn’t too bad. She would be a little torn and horrified if she had gained them as summonable monsters. The ape was one thing but thinking people...
She looked at the space and smiled softly as an idea came over her.
Sure, Delta wouldn’t bring back the dead on purpose but that wasn’t the only way to see an old face again.
She flexed her and felt her mana jumped as her goblins above returned with more goodies. Same old things but Delta was beginning to see each trip was bringing in less mana as Delta wasn’t absorbing anything new.
“Nu, why do I gain less and less mana from absorbing the same things over and over? It’s gonna bug me if I don’t know,” Delta asked as she began to picture how she was going to carry out her plan.
Nu took a moment to think before continuing, his box floating around as if he were pacing.
Delta had just stood there, transfixed at Nu’s words before she closed her mouth.
“That makes perfect sense! But what about people? Dungeons keep eating them...” she asked and Nu rippled with what looked like a snort.
Nu looked to be a little lost in thought and Renny put his hands behind his back and pretended to look abashed and shy at Nu’s words.
“Well, good to know. Shame, munching on an easy a cop-out would really make this whole dungeon thing a joke. But it's alright, I took on this challenge knowing it was gonna be hard. I can do it a mana e mana,” Delta bounced on the spot, faking some punches at Nu’s box.
“My puns are all I have here, I don’t have any epic loot for people so they’ll just have to deal with mushrooms, my puns, the challenge rewards, and some honey!” Delta beamed.
“Oh, they can swim with Bob! Bet no one has done that before,” she grinned and focused on the room.
“One grand sight coming up. Nu, if I think really hard about something when I make stone, I can shape it, right?” she asked, gathering mana.
Delta pushed the mana into the ground and watched it dip low as her creation began to rise out of the soil and rock next to the dirt path in front of the circus.
A hand first, quickly followed by the rest of the man.
It rose to stand on a platform.
Renny’s hands dropped to his side as the rough shape and figure of his father, Renaird rose from the ground. The stone statue held one arm above him holding his top hat. Delta narrowed her eyes and removed some of the rough edges. Without having Renaird’s actual body in the system, she was going by pure memory.
The statue held out one hand as if to invite whoever was at the entrance to come lose themselves at the circus. The kindly smile of the man that Delta remembered best formed last. Renny moved forward and jumped back as a hidden sconce in the statue’s outstretched hand erupted and the man held a cheery fire to light the way to the circus.
Delta wasn’t quite done as she formed a wooden sign to hang from the high ceiling.
She saw it would be impossible to see without more light but her mana... She turned and nudged the Starlight mushroom with her will, gently, trying to see what would happen if she gave it mana.
“Time to live up to your name,” she said with an encouraging tone. The glowing fungus shuddered and then a fair distance away, slightly up the wall, a new mushroom popped out of the rock with a pop, it shuddered and a lot higher, another mushroom grew from a crack. Each one glowing like a star, lighting up the room as it went. Banishing decade old shadows this room had in it.
The mushrooms finally hit the ceiling and grew outwards, becoming a sea of stars. Only the slight hint of movement giving them away for what they actually were.
Delta closed her eyes and added the last few touches. A touch of grass to grow naturally... some rocks to add charm...
Then she stood back to admire her work.
A circus on a slightly rocky platform, surrounded by nature and looked down on by a sea of stars.
It was the closest Delta could make the room look that night. She put on a shy smile, turning to say something but paused when Renny wasn’t near her but kneeling in front of the statue. He put a hand on the base that held the statue firm. He mimed holding a knife and his hands trembled. He breathed and carved the statue. Delta felt the pinpricks of the knife in her mind.
Renny stood up and looked around before bowing low enough, at where Delta had been, his hat touched the ground. He was still and Delta moved closer to see the carving.
Renaird: Father and Guiding hand of outcasts. I love you - R
Renny stood up and dusted himself off. He looked around and seemed to sway to some unheard beat.
Even the Tyrant Ape looked happier.
“I’m going to call him Wilhelm, he looks like a Wilhelm,” Delta decided and Renny shrugged, he waved his hand if names weren’t the most important thing to him.
The ape snorted and closed his eyes to sleep again.
“Then my job here is done,” she grinned and opened the menu for Wilhelm.
Delta smiled and left Renny to get some more of the circus cleaned out.
She felt a little done in but decided she still had work to do.
Delta stared at the entrance of her dungeon and looked around.
She couldn’t do too much here but it was good to try and imagine how things looked from a new person's point of view. Due to her nature as the dungeon core, being aware of most of the dungeon made her...zone out on some things.
It would be personally walking through these halls and seeing what she could do to really amp up her first floor that would make all the difference.
“First things first,” she said and eyed the open hole.
“Nu, show me what we go,” she asked and a box appeared.
Delta stood there and her mind went blank.
“DP? That’s not too bad,” Delta grinned and the system brought up a new box.
Delta felt her mind go blank at the number but swallowed back a slight wail.
“So, I can do a door!” she forced a beaming smile. Nu dinged.
He took the last of Delta’s mana, dropping it down to a solid 3 as he made a large stone door. It froze near completion and a box appeared.
Nu’s box grumbled and the stone door shuddered as the front became carved with a spinning dial. The dial had four layers with the words Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta written on all of them In the centre was an orange globe that seemed to gleam and up top a carved arrow pointing down towards the globe.
“Nu... at least you didn’t add a claw key mechanism,” Delta said dryly and Nu turned to face her.
Delta, the word, was closest to the core in the middle.
The door finished and clicked into place.
There was a moment to wait before the door split down the middle and opened, the orange globe cut perfectly down the middle as the door slid seamlessly into either side of the entrance.
“Okay, not gonna lie. That was neat,” Delta grinned.
“My condolences,” Delta rolled her eyes and turned to walk deeper into the first floor, she shrieked and jumped back as a sign suddenly popped out of the sidewall.
A warning sign to let newcomers know about sudden warning signs - Nu.
Delta was on the ground, eyes wide and heart beating fast.
“W-why would you do that?” she asked with a wave of her hand as the sign vanished back into the wall.
Delta blew her hair out the way and then couldn’t help but smile.
“You’re gonna to scare someone to death before they even reach the first room,” she said, not able to stay too mad at him.
Delta put her hands on her hip.
“My dungeon is not scary!” she protested as glowing moss above illuminated the room of web ahead, tiny red eyes staring at the scene silently as if waiting for someone to come closer. Where the pond room beyond held her Dark Drake which guarded a secret tunnel to where her Abyss Worm rested.
Delta eyed the spider room where the glowing eyes watched.
The spiders were on their agreed break time and enjoying the antics apparently.
“Not... much!” she amended.
Delta couldn’t really argue with that.