The Scarlet Moons were an odd group. Not like Delta’s other guests. Everyone else, even Deo, Poppy, and Amanstar, felt like they were merely toying with her. This group had actually struggled on some level.
On one hand, Delta felt worried as they fled and hadn’t returned, on the other hand... Delta was glad nothing else was on fire. The group was good at fire, if nothing else. Kemy, ever the calm one, had gotten the idea while the older woman who seemed to act as her older sister, Aneya, was more on guard.
Gonga was simple but not a terrible person. Delta likened him to her own Cois. A fellow rather prone to bursts of chaotic fire. Delta wanted to blame him for everything but really, the issue was that Delta had no idea that Boary would transform...
It spoke of many menus and boxes that she had yet to learn of...
Condition box? Mini-boss potential?
Delta sighed but she perked up slightly as Mr-... Lord Mushy calmly seemed to go about helping the regrowing mushrooms look neat and... slightly bigger. The whole adventure of the group had been another eye opener.
Delta wasn’t weak enough to be beaten by teens. She was only beaten by Durence teens. That had been a slight mistake she had made and one she could now see as an error. Kemy... Aneya... Gonga... that other guy... were not ready for her first floor let alone her second.
What if Wyin had gotten a hold of them? Delta knew so little about her second floor boss but that was more due to time and upgrades...
Delta couldn’t risk these people making it past her bar let alone Sir Fran! What if they upset the bees or pissed off Rale! Delta shivered at the image of Bob swinging Kemy about like he had done Grim.
What if they broke?
Delta gulped as she floated down to the second floor. While the group had given her some mana and DP, it was far less than Ruli’s average visit or even Deo. Was there that level of difference?
Delta had no idea that Durence had such experts in its midst. Perhaps Ruli and Quiss were the strongest protectors? Some sort of guardians? Delta blinked slowly.
Ruli slacked off for a guardian... Quiss was just too mean to be someone people turned to as well! But she couldn’t deny their power. Dabberghast was nice but weird… Isanella... that woman was someone Delta didn’t know very well. How many more scary people called Durence home? Couldn’t be that many!
The thought made her head hurt and she didn’t even notice where she ended up.
“Powerful friends may become powerful foes,” Wyin said calmly. Her form appearing to be a suggestive woman shrouded in the mist but Delta could see her real form. A deadly wooden figure of thorns and glaring eyes.
Delta looked up at her.
“They’ve been nothing but nice, it’s just these new people that are the issue. Kemy is sweet but the rest expect me to be a murder dungeon,” Delta whispered. Wyin lowered her branches that acted as her arms.
“Then they will be unkind and come back with more anger. Best to deal away with them. Those who do not respect your kindness do not deserve it!” she said bluntly. Delta looked up startled.
As always, I find you being nothing but trouble. Other Dungeons may be animalistic and… quick to act but Delta has made her own path. If you have any self-respect as a boss, you won’t question that.
Nu’s text box announced suddenly. Wyin leaned back as if Nu burned her leaves in some manner.
“Mother encourages thought. If you protest that... then I have to assume you disagree and thus I should remove you...” Wyin hissed. Nu’s box was blank for a second.
Delta’s kindness is not to be disrespected or abused by anyone.
The threats and glaring were not helping her mood. Surprisingly, both tree and box seemed turn to her.
The concern seemed real from both sides and that only made it all worse. How could Delta tell one or the other off when they felt so honestly worried for her? Was Wyin just being overly-aggressive or was Nu being protective?
Did the Scarlet Moons deserve such treatment just because they did some damage?
“No. They did what was logical and reasonable for a Dungeon. If I am the odd one out... I can’t expect people to behave the way I want,” she said aloud, the thought finally hitting her.
Other Dungeons really did exist. Delta was the weird one and others had no... little to no issue with just killing. How did they think about that? Did they think?
Did wolves ponder the moral issue of eating deer?
Was Delta... really the freak in this situation?
That thought oddly liberated Delta in a way she hadn’t thought about before. Defying expectations and making her pit of death into a home... that made Delta happy simply because it apparently should have freaked her out.
“Wyin... Nu... thank you but I think that I should be wrong a lot and I should take action against folks I give too much leeway to. I should learn right? If I just keep repeating mistakes... I’m just as bad as the murder hobos coming to the Dungeon to grind,” she announced.
“Murder... hobo?” Wyin frowned. Her face made of smooth wood creased into a frown.
“Overly-passionate adventures that prefer… winning over the experience,” Delta amended.
She turned and looked at the first floor.
Learning was the key to making sure her dream would come true. Those who refused to learn were doomed to repeat it, right?
She moved and ended up in the Mushroom Grove. She focused and a single plain signboard appeared.
“Sorry Nu. Gonna have to borrow your gimmick,” she said sheepishly as made words appeared.
If you didn’t... I would have. Still, I have doubts these people will read it, let alone follow the instructions. Something about idiots and clear instructions do not mesh.
Delta snorted but tried to pretend like she was focusing on the sign.
Fire will result in explosions.
Could Delta get much more basic? She’d never make or encourage any Dungeon designs that would seek the death of those who would enter but if someone was stubbornly determined to bash their heads on the wall... Delta could only provide so many pillows.
“Do you think other Dungeons enjoy killing people?” Delta asked after a moment.
Nu was silent for the following moments.
No. Sys tells me that others don't enjoy as much as deal. A matter of life. A simple expectation. No more interesting than harvesting grain. You are far more interesting due to your odd oaths and choices. It has resulted in more... outcomes than I had imagined.
“Stop, I’ll blush!” Delta suddenly teased.
Weird outcomes but still, the results are not the same. You are the oddest Dungeon Core I have ever- Ever- Ever-
Delta turned and saw Nu’s box fizzle as if overheating.
“Nu!” she yelled and to her relief the box righted herself.
Sorry. I went down an odd thought pattern. I blame you of course. Only you can make me feel anything other than purpose and duty. Speaking of. I am... going to add more signs and a few tweaks while you decide what to do next. Hovering is not my style.
Delta couldn’t answer before the box fled but she had a feeling of sudden shyness from Nu.
“Sys, are there any more potential bosses or such?” she called and no such box appeared.
Looks like since Boary had room Guardian status, it was likely to evolve. After all, Maestro, Lord Mushy... Fera... Waddles... were rather beyond conditional bosses. Delta honestly couldn’t be sure how to feel about all that other than she was glad to have friends.
Delta thought about what to do and honestly, any grand plans were pushed back as she silently watched the fire damage reverse itself. Maybe in a few months... years... she would stop watching as the damage repaired itself but not now.
Right now, Delta needed to see that everything was going to be okay. Like an anxious parent after their child hit their head. Worried but still caring.
Mostly, she focused on the Grove and the Spider Room. The two biggest targets of Gonga’s flames. Gonga’s fire honestly didn’t upset Delta, something about the man seemed awkward with magic. Delta wondered why he didn’t use a sword when clearly his mana rejected the magic he forced on it.
Whatever it was... Delta felt deep will and pain when Gonga used the magic and she couldn’t dislike the man. His casting had a tinge of his inner soul and it made Delta want to know more. She hoped he... Aneya... and Kemy came back peacefully.
Just so she could find out more.
Lordy soon declared the Grove to be on a healthy-enough level to be left alone. He no longer waddled, but strode with a jolly step towards the stairs.
“I must see the little rascals of the second floor, no doubt they will be surprised!” he explained with a twirl of his mustache. Delta giggled and walked beside him. To her surprise, he extended one arm and nodded for her to slip her own through.
Amused, since the act was merely pretending since she still couldn’t touch things, Delta did so and let Lordy escort her like some lady.
“How do you feel? Evolving, I mean,” she asked, interested on what a second evolution felt like to someone like Lordy. The crowned cap tilted up as he hummed in thought.
“It is akin to waking up and having some of your dreams come back with you. You're not less but you are more. I was Mr Mushy, and still am, but now there is more to me that makes me Lord Mushy,” he said a little wistfully.
“Like the mustache!” Delta nodded in agreement. Her monster chortled as he twitched the mustache in response.
“Lord Mushy without his mustache is no Lord at all!” he agreed. Delta broke out into a laugh, smiling as they reached the stairs. She bid Lordy a good trip and turned, running almost through a box.
It wasn’t Nu but a general system message.
Dungeon had reached enough experience to gain a third floor.
Second Floor Boss. Summoned.
Four or more rooms: Formed.
General critters 5 or more: Created.
Monsters on level: 5 or more.
Of which are contracted: 1
Items absorbed on second floor: Minimal.
Mana vent found.
Correction: Additional points found by System
Theme: Jungle! Core developed heavily into this theme.
Unique evolutions! Rale the River Lord!
Thriving ecosystem developed!
Challenge gates for boss created!
Unique Boss summoned via rare magical seed.
Powerful monster summoned by chance. Guards secret tunnel!
Lost circus, victims of ?!%£!£ERROR found!
Rare monster contracted.
Creative use of fire crystal.
Monsters developed to think greater than most bosses. Able to think and react rather than repeat mistakes.
System states that enough points have been gathered.
Third Floor Purchase is now available at Core’s request.
“On one hand. I feel like I fail as a Dungeon. On the other, I think I did well despite that. One win?” Delta read closely.
“Oh come on, Grim passed out, that was hardly a... win,” she mumbled.
Finally! I was thinking the Third Floor was going to need some actual deaths to appear, glad to see Sys nudged it a little.
Delta looked at the blue box that appeared at her side.
“Should I be worried that you were willing to think about killing people to hurry things up?” she asked dryly.
No. Not at all. So, now we can go deeper. New opportunities… new monsters.
Nu was excited, if nothing else. Delta watched the box close. With some flicking of her fingers, she found the upgrade, listed right there as if it was nothing special.
Third Floor Purchase: 300 DP
Delta couldn’t help feeling a little amused. It wasn’t that much, all things considered. With some saving and the sheer amount of Spiders that her goblins have come back with...
Delta looked at her menu.
Delta could purchase it right now. The temptation was so strong for a moment that it scared Delta into taking a step back. Growing... making more of her home. That couldn’t be a bad thing, right?
To be honest... there was still a lot to do on the second floor. Some adjustments had to be made with the first floor. If she made a Third Floor right as of this moment, she’d be adding to her plate without really making sure her foundations were solid... if the foundations were on the ceiling, that was.
Spreading herself too thin might make the whole ordeal worse. Not to mention, there could be more things like the Slimers and Renny waiting for her. What if Delta couldn’t stop them due to a unfinished second floor to call for aid?
Delta pursed her lips. Her monsters found it easier to go down a level than up. Rale and the others struggled to climb the first floor stairs but Cois and the others didn’t have too much issue coming down.
Delta was assuming it had something to do with the level of Mana on each floor, like going to high on a mountain and the air thinned out for people.
So, if worse came to worse, she would be able to summon her monsters from the second to deal with any potential threats on the third.
But if she was going to go that route, then the Second floor deserved to be properly tuned up.
Delta nodded, she closed the box and ignored the sulking Nu.
“Come on, let’s go make sure the Spiders are getting on okay,” she smiled.
It wasn’t like the Third Floor was going anywhere.
Renny moved his hands round and round as he sat on a rock near the waterfall pool. He tugged as his powers felt resistance. He mimed struggling and soon enough, he managed to reel Bob out.
The two tiny red crabs clattered in despair and anger at Renny. He merely tilted his head as they grudgingly handed over their smooth and shiny pebbles.
A deal was a deal. The crabs would know better than to make a bet with Renny in the future. A circus worker never suffered bad luck in games. Bob wiggled and slowly lowered his head so Renny could pet the shiny body.
“Another win for the ringmaster Renny!” Rale boomed and his muscular body emerged from the river nearby. It didn’t seem to bother Rale that neither Renny, Bob, or the crabs could answer back
“This makes 34-0 to the Mime,” he mused. The crabs snapped their claws, annoyed. Renny had to admit, he was running out of pocket space for all these rocks. Rale smacked Renny’s back hard and nearly moved Renny.
That frog’s strength was insane. Renny was glad he was contracted before Rale evolved. Fighting a furious river lord would not be fun. A bush nearby rustled.
The form of Devina manifested as if created by shadows and green leafs. Her usual calm expression looked a little... displeased. Her bird, Delbird, was there but he too looked annoyed.
It wasn’t hard to see why when both of them looked to be covered in tiny fluffy darts.
“Ran into the munchkins? Great little things, right?” Rale beamed. There was a crackle of mystic energy as Devina’s eye twitched. The bird on her shoulder puffed up.
“They are little as-” the bird began and Devina softly shut its beak with her fingers.
“As ironic as Delbird’s comment is, they mistook me as an evil goddess coming to seduce their… god. Have you seen Mushy? He has evolved! He looks... he talks!” Devina informed the group. Rale was gone in an instant, swallowed by the water and a cheer.
Renny was almost tempted to follow but Devina walked up to him.
“I require... assistance to remove the darts. The crabs would pinch and Bob...” she looked up the creature.
He sang to her in confusion.
“Bob is here for emotional support,” she finally said.
Renny eyed the frog and the bird.
He would say to anyone, if he ever spoke, that the second floor was no slouch in drama compared to the first floor, and he would fight anyone who would argue.
Delta looked down as Kemy, the girl who just left her dungeon, wandered back in. The oddest thing was the pure white cloth around her eyes. A golden symbol of a hand stitched into the cloth, a little lopsided. Delta guessed that Kemy had stitched it herself.
“Oh Goddess of Truth, guide my path!” she called and began to slowly walk forward. Her hands stretched out in front of her as if to ward off bad vibes. The girl’s robes were a little dirty, signs that she may have tripped on the way to Delta’s; or Delta’s stairs needed a bit of a cleaning if she had that much dirt from one fall.
“I have no idea what you’re doing,” Delta stated bluntly to the girl that couldn’t hear her. Thankfully... maybe... Cois was on his way to act as a mouthpiece. Kemy managed to slowly walk into the tunnel but she was moving erratically. She stepped slightly right and the pop-out sign Nu had designed, missed her by inches.
“May the truth find me in this darkness. May I find the light in truth,” Kemy whispered to herself quietly. Cois rounded the corner, blinking as he saw a blind human walking with her arms stretched out.
He rubbed at his eyes and blinked, looking again to see he had indeed not gone insane.
“Cois do something, she’s going to walk into the wall!” Delta urged. Cois gave her a side look before he grinned.
“I live to serve,” he promised and Delta felt tingles of panic rising up. Cois slid across the wall and waited until Kemy neared, repeating her prayer over and over.
“Cois?” Delta both asked and warned. The goblin inhaled and with an attempted sweet and motherly tone that came out as crooked and sickly, he spoke.
“Turn left, my child!” he breathed, making his voice seem distant. Kemy almost stumbled there and then.
“Who... Who... hello?” Kemy stood still, holding her arms to chest as if to shield herself. Cois’s evil smirk made Delta regret this.
“Cois, don’t you dare confuse her!” she said with a frown. Cois shrugged before he continued.
“It is me, your Goddess... I have heard your prayers. You must turn left!” he crooned again. Kemy’s body shook just a little.
“M- my Goddess?” she breathed in awe before hesitating.
“You sound... odd,” she pointed out. Cois sniffed.
“The goddess has a cold, now child-”
“Gods can get colds? How does that work? I thought you existed as a light within us all?” Kemy mused to herself.
“Magical colds exist and I have a tough job!” Cois fired back, voice returning to normal for a moment.
“I think you’re lying. I know when people lie. Who are you?” Kemy responded, firm but not unkind. Delta sighed with relief, the girl had seemed rather aware of things.
“Well... I could have been a god!” Cois sniffed. Kemy bowed, but didn’t remove her blindfold.
“I don’t think you need to be a god. I find being a person is just as good. You can eat things and sleep. They are very nice things to experience!” Kemy said with honest feelings. Cois looked down at himself.
“Person, right. Okay, fine. I’m not a god but I’m better. I am Cois of the flame! Servent and warrior of Delta the Dungeon. I shall burn the cruel and feed their ashes to mother’s kindness and mushrooms,” Cois growled.
Kemy gulped a little.
“I... had enough of fire for now. I’d like to do a special ritual in the Dungeon if Delta is okay with it?” Kemy asked, fingers intertwined and nervously fiddling across each other. The goblin looked at Delta and she peered closely at her guest.
Not matter how deeply Delta looked or searched, Kemy gave off no ill-will.
“Sure, if she doesn’t mind explaining,” she finally answered.
“Mother said you can do it but we wanna know what’s gonna happen,” Cois repeated her words in a manner that was close enough. Kemy perked up.
“Oh, thank you! Delta is a really nice Dungeon! I’ll bring some mushrooms for her. I saw she really likes them!” Kemy bowed again and Delta felt a deep stab of pain in her chest.
“C-Cois, tell her no more! Tell her I don’t like them, not... most of them!” Delta pleaded and Cois dug into his ears with a claw.
“Hm... kinda... went deaf...” he mumbled with a grin.
Delta would ban the damn goblin from the tavern! Fera would understand.
“My seek...” Kemy began and touched the necklace she wore.
“I am conflicted about my time in Delta’s Dungeon. On one hand I felt nothing but a peaceful trip where the only issues came from my groups over thinking... but the Grove was different and I want to know what happened and experience the Dungeon in a new light. I will not trust my eyes for they see what they wish. I will trust my voice... my ears... and my heart. The Goddess of Truth will guide me as I travel the Dungeon once more,” Kemy breathed out and she seemed to gather a little more confidence about herself.
Delta stared then she couldn’t help but smile.
“Thank you... thank you for giving me a chance,” she said so quietly but the emotion made her choke a little.
A breeze brushed past Kemy and she jumped.
“Wh-... was that a woman?” Kemy asked, turning slightly as if to follow the breeze.
She shrugged as Delta held a hand to her throat.
“Hello?” Delta called but Kemy didn’t react.
Cois looked around.
“So, what? What do we do? Stay out of your way?” he scratched his nose and Kemy shook her head.
“Do as you wish, I am not here to alter things but to learn. My Goddess will guide me to where I must be,” Kemy responded with courage before she faltered...
“But... I would… appreciate some guidance through the spider room... I don’t want to mess up their webs if they’ve just started to fix them,” Kemy murmurred, head a little low as if burdening the blame of her team on to herself.
Delta wanted to keep her. The girl was just too much.
Cois shrugged before remembering that Kemy was blind.
“Follow the sound of my soothing voice,” he instructed gruffly. Kemy giggled and moved forward before she almost tripped on her robe.
“Okay! Mr. Cois, I am in your hands!” she said brightly. The goblin paused.
“Master Cois,” he corrected. Kemy faltered but she perked up.
“M-master Cois!” she corrected herself.
“Cois, don’t go making random girls into your students or slaves,” Delta chided at the smirking Goblin.
“Mother would like to remind you that she would like 10 mushrooms for the privilege of my guidance,” he said and Kemy frowned.
“I’m not sure you’re telling me the tru-”
“Look, you almost stepped on a spider!” Cois pointed to empty air. Kemy attempted to hover by lifting both feet off the ground, she managed to obtain flight for about three seconds before crashing down.
“Less backchat and more listening to my wisdom,” Cois said haughtily.
Delta was doing her best to ping Numb or Billy but both seemed to be passed out. Hob and Gob were gone as well....
Fera wouldn’t leave her bar. Boary was sleeping like a coma patient... Waddles couldn’t speak, and Maestro was everywhere but nowhere.
Lordy would be so helpful here…
Delta watched, following as Kemy re-entered the spideroom and all the little silver beings watched with surprise.
One danced the dance of ‘A guest!’. A fellow one nearby responded in the famous ‘I have eight eyes, I’m not blind’ dance.
Truly, this was a culture of great grace.
Muffet’s hidden form, much weaker and frail without the condition of the other spider’s deaths casually dropped on to Kemy’s head. The girl squeaked, raising her hands delicately to feel the soft form.
The chittering chat of Muffet must of been familiar because Kemy’s other hand went to the white earmuffs around her throat.
“The white spider... Muffet. That’s your name, right?” Kemy asked and Muffet raised one leg and the other spiders did a dance that was both a ‘Hail muffet’ and ‘Is it time for tea?’.
Kemy was careful in not moving her head to avoid making Muffet fall. Muffet slowly reached down and tapped Kemy’s nose with a frail leg and the action caused Kemy to giggle.
“Thank you for the gift!” Kemy breathed which Muffet chittered and clacked her fangs with a casual tone.
Delta was pretty sure Kemy couldn’t speak spider but the scene was fun to watch. Still, Delta’s eyes wandered to the rest of the Dungeon. The challenges that awaited Kemy’s journey. The Mudroom... the Grove... the fortroom.
It was… not easy for someone without eyes. The other route would be easier but that meant introducing Kemy to Maestro...
Which would work! Kemy was blindfolded and couldn’t see Maestro. He was a fantastic monster but he was slightly...
Nightmarish but in a good way.
Delta just needed to get Kemy past Waddles... and Merry... and...
What if Kemy went into the boss room?
How would that work?
Delta silently turned back to the giggling girl as Muffet began to tie her hair up and use her eight legs to make a rather nice bun for the girl to show off her face more.
It would work... Delta just had to take a cue from Kemy and have faith.
Faith that Delta’s own hard work would pay off.