“To be as strong as the river, you must defeat it,” the giant frog man said, eyes closed in deep thought. Numb looked at the gently flowing river and only hesitated for a moment before he raised his fist and ran at it, screaming.
Rale was wise, so Numb would trust his word! He flung himself into the water and only then remembered that much like his brothers, he could not swim. He floated there for a moment then began to swing his fists and legs at the cool water with furious effort.
The back of his fur gently tugged and Numb was lifted out of the water until he was eye level with Rale.
“You have much energy, this will serve you well, mighty goblin, but we must work on your thinking,” Rale smiled and put Numb down.
“Like Cois thinks too hard and makes fire?” Numb tried and Rale paused.
“A fire fist would be very powerful but let us work on the basics,” he lead Numb towards the tools and weighs around a giant pond that came from a huge waterfall. Numb stalked up to the pond and glared at it.
Maybe the river was too hard but this puddle would be easy for Numb! He kicked at the edge and he yelped as something fought back. He stared down at the two crabs that had a toe each. The looked back at him, pincers ready to grab another toe.
Numb shook his foot hard and a crab went flying back into the pond with a splash that made the goblin grin with victory.
He picked the other one and turned to show Rale his mastery of the water. The frog was sitting on a rock and his greenish face had become very wide with a smile.
“Do you think your size gives you power?” he asked and Numb looked at the tiny crab and then nodded.
“I is bigger so I am the scary one,” he stated. While Numb didn’t know goblin life like Hob or Gob, he was sure that was the rule. When Fran became bigger, he became boss.
“So, I am stronger than you?” Rale stood, picking up one of the stone weighs with one arm, his arm bulging with powerful muscles.
Numb hesitated. Another rule of goblins, as he just thought about it, was don’t act to big for fur skin around big ones.
“Numb could take you once he evolves!” he said regardless. The sheer world made Numb giddy. Seeing Cois go from a normal gob to a fire...gob, it made Numb almost hungry. It was odd, Numb had never felt hunger but he really wanted to evolve.
Mother hadn’t gotten around it and the more Numb looked at Cois the more Numb wanted to be special too. Cois had said he had done something special and Mother had rewarded him. Which is why he was on this floor.
He felt weak and... soft on this jungle floor. It wasn’t as nice as his camp and tunnels. Being here made it hard to breath. Rale hadn’t wanted to train him but Numb pestered him and the frog finally gave in.
Numb had seen Cois and the other frog arguing as the odd silent creature seemed to make the river shoot out of a tube that didn’t exist and put out the burning jungle.
Cois made weird friends.
“Evolve? I do think you have it backwards, my little stout friend,” Rale pointed out and Numb itched at his head as it began to rain. Only on himself.
This jungle was weird.
“The strong evolve to become better. The power must exist before it is refined. Waiting for evolution to grant you power is wasteful! You must grab it by the horns and train yourself!” Rale commanded and Numb stared at him.
“What horns?” he asked and Rale made that smile again.
“First, we’ll see how you handle Bob,” he said simply and Numb waited as the rain grew stronger.
“What’s Bob?” the goblin asked, suspiciously and Rale pointed up and Numb followed the direction to see something that was the source of the dripping on his head.
“...What is that?” Numb asked...numbly.
“That’s my friend, Bob. He’s going to be your horns for this lesson,” Rale informed him and Bob picked Numb up and the goblin was pretty sure that he was not designed to be this high up. He saw two small red flashes and saw the crabs scuttling over Bob’s head, dancing with gleeful joy as Bob, the giant worm thing that was going to scare Numb for a long time.
Bob slowly lowered into the water...with Numb still in his carefully gripping jaws, so gentle that Numb could see how much the worm was holding back.
“Rale! I want to be weak! I don’t want horns!” Numb said and Rale laughed with a joyous noise.
“Fight the river! I shall be in after you in a few seconds if you cannot escape!” Rale shouted cheerfully.
Numb felt the water surround him and something pinched his nose and he went crossed eyed as one of the crabs waved cheerfully.
Numb growled and struggled against the maw that held him to swat at the thing. His fear becoming hotter than Cois’ fire.
He would beat this worm, swat the crabby, and bite Rale’s beefy leg with the fury of a thousand goblins!
He closed his eyes and struggled harder.
Never seeing how his skin glowed a deep crimson.
“Crap, why would I want of any this crap? It’s all stupid looking and hardly any of them look good!”
Delta stared at the little brat in her entrance hall. Mr Mushy looked down at the pots he had put for people to buy. Mr Mushy hesitated and picked up a pot that he had worked on with Vas.
“Listen to me, I don’t want your pots. They aren’t even magical and they’re ugly,” the boy with a pale complexion. He shifted and the giant backpack on his back clanked as things moved. Delta alone could see cooking pots, rope, pickaxe, a simple wood axe, unlit torches, two daggers on his belt, goggles on his head, and his pockets bulged with various items.
Delta had never seen him before but the boy instantly made her bristle with fury. Mr Mushy lowered the pot in his hand and hugged it.
He shook his head and closed his little eyes as if to not to listen.
Delta reached for him but she only passed through his collar with her fingers. She stared as the boy reached for one of his daggers.
“Maybe you’ll drop something worth it...” he mused and Mr Mushy looked at him. Even sitting cross-legged on the floor, Mr Mushy still had to stare down at him.
He looked at the dagger with confusion.
“Don’t you dare touch him! Do not touch him!” Delta warned, voice very thin. The boy only hesitated slightly before he slashed out with the knife. Even with the backpack, he had something of decent technique.
Delta’s heart stopped as Mr Mushy’s entire hand closed around the boy’s and there was a slight pause.
“Oh...” the boy mumbled and stumbled back as Mr Mushy held the dagger between two fingers.
“Mr Mushy, hug him, make him do the same noises as Cois, but not like the rabbit!” Delta said quickly. Mr Mushy smiled with his eyes and reached for the boy.
His pale face went deathly white he fumbled with his hands for a moment before he threw something from his pocket at Mr Mushy’s feet. A small sack that ruptured and a black substance splashed over the mushroom’s feet. Delta blinked at the quickly thickening tar stuff that coated Mr Mushy’s feet.
“The hell you do to my mushroom!” Delta demanded but Mr Mushy struggled to lift his feet and ended up sitting in the sticky tar.
“I sharpened the dagger on my Granpa’s teeth... I- I’m coming back for that!” he threatened and ran.
Not away but deeper into the dungeon.
Delta felt a panic rise up then stared at the many shattered pots that Mr Mushy had crushed. He managed to pick up a shard and stare at it.
“Hey... are you okay?” she asked and she froze as a trail of thin yellow liquid leaked out of one of the button-like eyes.
Mr Mushy held the shard close to his chest and just sat there.
Delta stood and her voice was very tight as she spoke aloud,
“You do not come into my house, hurting my friends. You do not call the pots ugly, you do not run away like a brat, and you do not make Mr Mushy cry,” she called and a cold wind blew down from the entrance and the torches wavered and then with a splutter, died out.
Delta moved forward, determined to get this little demon child out of her dungeon and stop Mr Mushy from crying.
She paused as smoke billowed out from around the corner.
“You did not!” she shouted and sprinted towards the spider-room. Ahead, the brat was trying to burn through the webs with a torch he had lit. On the ground were Lady Silklegs and Lord Royalthread, crushed by the furious stomping.
The boy had a green vial to his lips, ready to drink it.
“Stop it!” she just shouted and as if by her order, the other spiders eagerly leapt at the fire like moths drawn to the flame.
Delta stared with horror as they seemed to jump to their death.
One by one, they all fell down as the boy eyed the berries and reached for them.
“Finally... something decent!” he sighed. Just as his finger touched one, the began to rot with a speed even Delta had not expected.
“Hey!” he protested and Delta took a moment to smirk at his back.
“Just as rotten as you!” she huffed.
The boy brushed a piece of web out from his face and the scowled as it refused to budge. He moved his hand and he seemed to struggle as the web clung to him harder. He moved to burn it and the silky web danced away.
Delta looked back and saw her fallen spiders had been covered by another web, as if respectably protecting them from further harm.
Delta looked up and the 8 red eyes that seemed to focus on her.
“D-do it. Make him regret this... but don’t kill him. I don’t want his horrible body in my dungeon!” she called and the red eyes seem to close in satisfaction.
As if pulled by some puppet the master, the web in room came to life and snaked towards the pale boy who screamed when it entangled his arms and legs. He dropped his potion and waved his torch as hard as he could.
The almost see-through spider lowered herself so the fire reflected and made her entire body cast a huge shadow over the wall.
The Spidergeist...Muffet, yes that was her name! She had named herself...
Delta watched as she lifted one leg and the boy’s hand moved in time. The spider began to twitch many legs and the boy’s body, tightly bound, began to dance.
“L-let go! Damn! Deo never...mentioned this!” he grunted and his fingers went near his neck as Muffet made the boy slowly dance towards her drooling fangs. Delta watched with honest fascination at what was her monster.
“Deo reads the damn signs!” Delta said coldly.
The boy brushed something on his neck again and that was when his body simply moved through the web and he yanked open the door and fled the room.
“...What?” Delta said numbly and Muffet had frozen in shock.
“Did...how did he... wha?” Delta mumbled and chased him. The boy had slammed the door shut and was quickly taking off a burning piece of metal around his neck.
“Gramps is going to kill me for wasting his Fleetfoot necklace...” the boy moaned and Delta’ hands failed to grab the boy’s neck in a muffled screamed.
“Stop cheating! Stop using your family's overpowered accessories!” she yelled pointlessly at him. She turned, poked her head back into to the room, to look at Muffet before chasing after the idiot as he walked on. “You did good girl.”
“Need better cooldown CC-control if I’m going to get out. Gotta be something good soon. No other reason they keep this place shut off but let Deo go,” he grumbled and he pocketed the necklace.
“You could have at least left the necklace,” Delta grumbled as the boy headed towards the pond and Delta felt a smile appear but instead, at the last second he turned to the left and headed towards the storeroom.
“Get in there and have a bad time!” she pointed back towards the pond room.
Delta could only watch as he eyed the shelves and barrels, then the buffet table.
“What? Is it not good enough either?” Delta asked snidely and the boy smiled.
“Nice, I mean, if it doesn’t rot again...” he said and then stopped as the screen appeared.
“Merry? Whose... there was a challenge back in the spider room... maybe... I mean that one was too easy I thought it was joking but this? I mean, maybe if I do them, I’ll get something at least?” he mused and Delta felt like going ‘duh’
It was then Delta spotted a little tag on the backpack.
Property of Grimnoire. Private!
“Grimnoire...I will remember this,” she promised.
“I accept!” the boy cried and pushed the accept button like he was accepting some grand destiny.
Then there was silence then a subtle squeaking. Delta looked down as did Grimnoire.
“That’s... Merry?” he asked, looking amused. Delta slowly turned to look at him.
“You’re going to scream and I am going to laugh. Oh yes, I am going to laugh,” she smiled as the mouse sniffed a serving bowl of nuts and a large wooden spoon on the lip of the bowl.
Grimnoire pulled out something that looked like a vial of blue dust.
“Some Sandelf dust and little mousey is all mine,” he bragged and Delta’s face froze.
“Merry! Give him HELL!” she screamed.
The little brown mouse moved faster than should have been natural, a spoon full of nuts slapped into Grimnoire’s face and his blue vial went flying, vanishing into a barrel of apples. Delta stared at it.
That was... her Sandelf dust now.
Just like that green potion and that dagger.
“Merry! Shake him down!” she added quickly as the mouse leapt to the top shelf of the nearest set and items began to fall onto Grimnoire’s head.
“Ow! S-stop it! Was that an arrow?!” he demanded and the shelf creaked and toppled towards him as the mouse’s little leap seemed to generate enough force to send it toppling.
The chaos was beautiful but Grimnoire’s bag seemed almost sealed shut.
“Enchanted bag? Whats next? Underwear that lets you instagib bosses?!” she yelled.
Merry leapt for the next shelf but with surprising reflexes, Grimnoire was already jumping for it with two of the wooden bowls he stole from the buffet table. Merry had to swerve and midland. Wild-eyed, Grimnoire leap after it with the bowls, trying to trap it.
“Gimmie the reward!” he roared and Merry rushed under a shelf and it wobbled but the boy simply jumped into it, sending it crashing the other way and cutting Merry’s path off.
The bowl slammed down and Grimnoire roared with triumphant as Merry became trapped.
“I spent my childhood catching rat-princes for pocket change!” he laughed. He lifted the bowl and Merry sat there, defeated.
“My mouse...” Delta whispered and Grimnoire sat down with a wince.
“Ow... jumping into shelves was a bad idea,” he mumbled and then without thinking he slid Merry an apple that rolled near his feet.
“You’re crafty,” he said and stood something seemed to hurt so he rested against the nearby wall for some relief.
Something flashed and Grimnoire seemed to hold a small raggedy cat doll.
Delta blinked and tried to remember what Sys had set. It got excited because Devina had made it possible...
Delta had no idea how the system had set up multi-rewards with various chances and rarity but they had done it here.
90% chance to get a nice mouse hat...10% for that doll.
Delta frowned as Merry seemed to devour the apple and promptly fall asleep like he was drugged.
The doll did something but she couldn’t remember the details. Grimnoire shook it and it hissed then a ghostly blue cat of the scarred variety appeared, snarling and pacing before Grimnoire like some bodyguard.
“It’s a voodoo ghost cat doll...” the boy said and blinked.
“I mean... I guess?” he shrugged then the doll hissed and the ghost vanished with nothing to do. He shook it again but nothing happened
“What? I need to charge it and it's limited? What is this? One a day? Talk about lame classics,” Grimnoire scowled.
The last shelf topple and fell over towards the boy and Delta wince as he moved out the way and a side of the secret passage was slightly revealed.
“Merry!” she said to the sleeping mouse. Grimnoire bent down and pushed more of the broken stone away, the wooden wall covering it cracked by the falling shelf.
He looked immensely pleased and was about to start pushing when music sounded out.
It was soft and haunting, this seemed to lure the boy in more.
“Sweet treasure,” he sounded almost intoxicated by the idea then the sweet music stopped and Grimnoire screeched and crawled away as the wooden wall began to melt and smoke as green acid ate through it, flailing thorny vines reaching for him.
“Trap! Trap!” Grimnoire yelled over and over as he crawled back out the room, cat doll in one arm.
High pitched drumming sounded out, like a bird’s heartbeat.
“Woah...” Delta stared at the acid. She had never seen her Greater Mushy in action before.
She stared with dismay at her ruined room before following the boy.
He stood and brushed himself off.
“I could just... bomb it but I need to conserve resources,” he said, voice a little high. That worried Delta.
Who would give this kid a firecracker, let alone a ‘bomb’?
“MUM! I CAN’T FIND MY NOVACRACKER! I WAS GOING TO GO SHOOT SOME FIREWORKS FOR POPPY TO CHEER HER UP!” Deo said calmly to his mother.
Her long red hair swayed and she turned with a small frown.
“Oh... well, I’ll help you look. You’re usually responsible so it must be in your room somewhere. Did you take it anywhere?” she asked softly, voice barely higher than a whisper.
Deo thought about it.
“SHOW AND TELL! MY FRIEND GRIM TOLD ME HE PUT IN THE TEACHER’S ROOM CAUSE I WAS LATE WITH MY HOMEWORK!” he beamed and the woman closed her eyes then pulled her son to her shoulder for a hug.
“Oh...my Deo...” she sighed.
Grimnoire eyed the pond then sniffed, turning away.
“Smells like Deo,” he sighed and Delta glared at him.
“Mister ‘I can do what I want and everyone loves me’! I come to class looking a little tired and ‘are you doing drugs? Are you upset?’ are the comments I get. Deo comes in stinking of fish and covered in spider goo and no one bats an eye!” he ranted as he headed towards the mudroom, ignoring the pond entirely.
“Maybe because Deo doesn't steal, murder, complain, act like a spoiled brat and generally makes life better while you just ruin everyone’s day,” Delta said conversationally.
Grimnoire frowned as if almost hearing her.
“Dungeon is crazy. Mushrooms everywhere, mice, stupid ponds and now this!” he exclaimed, waving a hand to the mudroom.
“Well you know what, my gutrot mushrooms suck but they’re better than you. You’re just...just... allrot!” Delta shouted.
Grimnoire stared at the platforms.
“Hm... different paths but I expect some collapse into traps, like spikes hidden in the mud or maybe the mud rises if I get stuck. I’ll need to test the stability of each platform but those walls look patchy...I’ll have some time limit to choose the correct path,” he deduced and Delta crossed her arms.
“You scream like a 3-year old,” was all she could say.
Grimnoire ran back and Delta saw him return with a bunch of apples.
He began to lob them at the platform. Some wobbled, some were solid as the apples landed.
“I...guess that was clever,” she admitted and then glared at him.
“But you’re wasting my apples,” she added. Grimnoire stepped forward and the challenge appeared.
“Easy enough, this dungeon needs some interaction clause so people can’t just figure it out before the challenge appears,” he said aloud and Delta could see that, she would have to pull the challenge back or expand it somehow.
It didn’t take him long to get over it and he was beaming with success and he eyed the pile of logs.
“Uh... no thanks. Deo said you can hear me so...uh...give this to Deo next time he is in. I stole something of his but I redid his exam so he got a pass instead of the 2% he was gonna to have. That these logs should make us even,” Grimnoire said quietly and walked on.
How could he have gotten 2%?
“Impressive scores...I do believe you are the brightest man to walk through my doors,” Mr Jones smiled as Seth. The petit water mage nodded.
“You’re house of many brains is very pleasing to my eyeballs,” he agreed. Mr Jones stared and Quiss cleared his throat.
“He means your educational building is impressive,” he said.
“No, he is quite correct. I have many doors to ancient knowledge here. Some connected to still alive brains,” Mr Jones smiled again and Quiss eyed him.
“They all signed consent forms,” Mr Jones added and Quiss said nothing but just stared at the only other person in the room.
In a seat that was near the back but closest to the window, Ruli stared out as if something awaited her.
If it wasn’t the nice uniform, black trousers, shirt and a tie, it was the pigtails her hair was in. She looked and scowled at them.
“It’s only how she sees herself. This place is something of a changeable environment for students. Each student will see and have the best suited learning place for them. Outside, inside, homely, barren and studious, dark, warn, and so on. Only a few students never mesh right,” he explained and Ruli moved back too fast and the illusion of her school uniform was broken and she was dressed back in her usual furs.
“Well, she doesn’t look happy. How can we let her leave?” he asked and Mr Jones pursed his lips.
“I am reasonable. I just need her to finished her last 3 years of education and she is good to go!” he beamed.
“We don’t have that kind of time. I was being nosy- I mean investigating a serious matter,” Quiss explained and Seth drummed his fingers.
“Rights of master. I offer you a dance!” he declared and everyone looked at him. Seth frowned and then made stabbing motions.
“Oh, a duel!” Mr Jones nodded then the world around them went dark with miasmic energy.
“I can fight if you wish...” he offered, a voice both loud and almost hard to hear.
“No no! I fight you with brains!” Seth smirked and Mr Jones frowned again.
“The consent forms don’t cover swing them by their spinal nerves...” he said almost sadly.
Seth stood and pointed to a smoking exam paper.
The single name on it was bright and sunshine yellow
“I bet I make true score a pass in 3 days,” he offered and Mr Jones looked disbelieving.
“You? Where I could not?” he blustered.
Quiss stared at them and then got up to say goodbye to his not-best friend of Durence.
He would sneak her a drink where he could over the years...
Deo hummed as he threw up a bottle of fizzed up Root-soda and made explosion noises. Poppy peaked out her window and smiled softly at the display.
“THIS ONE I CALL THE MOON KISSER!” he said and gave the bottle a twirl when he threw it and Poppy applauded shyly.
Deo was pleased. He had lost his Novacracker but he still made Poppy smile.
That was one of his ten happy things a day list almost complete!
He hoped to see Grim soon, he was in a hurry earlier and dropped something.
Some sort of lizard ring which Deo put straight into a box so he could bring it to school tomorrow and return it!
It looked important.
“WHERE IS MY CAMOUFLAGE RING!?” Grimnoire screamed as Boary bucked and tried to sent the boy flying.
Delta sat down on a rock and sighed with pleasure at the noise.
Honestly, the boy was rude as hell and Delta wanted him to scream more but she was interested in what he would lose or use next in the fort room.
The demon child was her very own treasure goblin.
She couldn’t wait for the legendary items.