She was hovering.
Delta knew that, but it was hard to pull herself away from another human being. There was something that felt like relief whenever she saw another person. Her home was lovely, her friends just as great but knowing that there was life beyond her walls... it relieved Delta to a great degree.
Muffet decided to cling to Kemy for a while longer as Cois loudly declared how she was lucky to be getting such a tour. The girl was interested and she listened intently, asking questions as they approached the pond room.
The glowing ceiling moss and torches made Kemy’s form look... peaceful. Odd considering she was in a Dungeon but Delta took that as a compliment.
“What is it like living in a Dungeon?” Kemy asked as Muffet’s legs undid her work and began to make another hairstyle. The spider seemed to greatly enjoy weaving Kemy’s hair into styles. The more she did, the more Muffet seemed to get better at it and would chitter cheerfully.
“What’s it like being out there? I think it has to suck,” Cois, ever the graceful one, stated. Kemy stumbled ever so slightly.
“What? No, if anything, it must be so small in here... It’s easy to see how one could feel trapped,” Kemy argued. Delta gave her a point for that. She had... at first.
It was odd how much Delta had adapted to these walls... to never seeing the sky proper. The Jungle helped but Delta hoped she could make some sort of working sky on one of her Floors. Maybe floor 3? A large plain or something with stars twinkling...
“Trapped? Everything is clear. This is my world, it changes a little everyday. Everyone here works for the same reason, Mother. We can argue or even dislike one another but no one doubts our loyalty. You lot can’t even grow up together and be sure of that. Besides, our world is small now. Mother is immortal... as are we. Our World will grow into the biggest... weirdest... oddest... quite frankly I am expecting mind-shattering wonders of the world. I shall experience every inch. In my own time,” Cois said with conviction.
Delta stared until Kemy’s small voice broke the silence.
“I didn’t think about it like that... but what about the sun? Meeting new people or being able to choose how to live your life?” Kemy asked quickly. Cois snorted.
“I choose to be myself. Otherwise, I’d be some smarty polite git. I wanted fire but I was originally destined to serve as a greeter. I hated it but accepted that... but not Mother. She freed me from that and I am the goblin you fear. Freedom? I have far more freedom than you. I was literally freed from my fate,” he growled with a hint of warning.
“Cois...” Delta said, her chest tight. She hadn’t guessed that her actions had meant that much to him.
Kemy was quiet for a few seconds as Cois took the keys from the waiting Waddles.
“What is Delta like? I keep feeling like she doesn’t make sense but she sounds…” Kemy stopped to pick her words carefully. Even Muffet seemed to stop braiding to listen.
Delta felt her chest tightening but she said nothing.
“Mother... is mother. How can I... any of us, describe how warm the air is when she speaks to us... how the ground beneath us is solid with her compassion? How our magic and thoughts flow free with her consent. She is our world and we are her children. ‘Human’ is almost insulting,” Cois said quietly.
“Quack,” Waddles added, making Kemy jump.
“Mr Duck!” she gasped.
“Even those that are more employed than raised feel that Delta is better than any ole smelly human,” Cois translated with a smug grin.
Delta would take the compliment, Cois so rarely gave them.
“I’m a smelly ole human...” Kemy protested weakly.
“We’re working on that,” Cois agreed. He took the key to the storage room and walked loudly with his staff so Kemy could follow with her ears. Kemy did so, stopping before she felt a bumping into her knees. She bent down slowly and touched the feathered head of Waddles.
She gasped as she smiled.
“Mr Duck...” she said as she picked him up.
The duck looked unfazed as Kemy carried him off. Spider in her hair and a duck in her arms... Kemy looked odd, yet cute at the same time. She seemed to pet both of them with slow motions, as if feeling something besides spider hair and duck feathers.
She inhaled through her nose as if her Dungeon had more than the scent of damp earth and mushrooms.
Every step, Kemy seemed to be learning something that Delta couldn’t see or hear. It made the petite girl more interesting by the second. Delta knew she should go to the second floor and start working while Kemy presence locked the first floor down but... she was just having too much fun with this.
How often did a girl blindfold herself and then do your Dungeon blind?
Delta was confident it couldn’t be often.
The hot springs of the second floor were at odd contrast with the rest of the Jungle.
Hypocritical of Renny to say, as his own turf was a circus of all things, but at the end of the day these two places seemed to enhance the Jungle; as if tripping onto secrets that the jungle graciously allowed you to find.
Renny hadn’t visited the place himself and he might have to come more often.
The Jungle itself was warm but this place was just relaxing as steam and scents of cleanliness soaked into him. His dark mime suit was a little damp but after years of being in hibernation underground, Renny guessed it could do with a clean.
He wouldn’t get in the water, as his access to the softly bubbling pool was blocked by a young frog in a dress and heels of all things in the jungle. Her slight bowed legs and already tall nature made Renny crane his neck.
“Master Renny, welcome to the Delta Springs. A pool of peace and trust,” the young girl bowed. Then she looked at him for a split seconds.
“People can become over-cooked and drown in hot springs... isn’t that neat?” she asked brightly. Renny would have to disagree but he wasn’t here to start a fight.
“My name is Luna, guardian of the springs. Not much to see but Mum is going to spruce the place up when she gets a minute,” Luna explained, brushing her robe down which was covered in stars and half-moons.
“So, you’re a key guardian as well?” Luna asked lightly. Renny tilted his head before nodding.
Interesting concept for Delta but he would roll with it.
“I still haven’t figured out my test but I can wait until I get some improvements. I was going to visit Wyin, the doors unlock for us monsters without keys, which is nice. What’s your trial going to be?” she asked, saying this all very quickly.
Renny felt the key in his pocket.
Trial... yeah, he would have to do something to make people work for it. The bees had it easy... as did the little crazy mushrooms.. Even Bob was simple in his design.
His quick guess was the large frog, Giant, would be doing physical combat for his.
He and Luna?
It was tricky, she had a point in that both their areas were massively underdeveloped by Delta. Not that he minded. The statue of his father and space for Wilhelm was more than he could ever ask for.
Well... that and having his hunger dealt with. That was something he had never had in his life. Even with his father... his ghoul nature had... issues. He ignored the troubling memories and focused on Luna.
He merely gave a shrug of one his shoulders.
What more could he say?
“Yeah, I feel the same,” Luna blew out a sigh.
Renny merely looked skyward.
He had a feeling... that the second floor was about to get interesting. That he and Luna wouldn’t have to wait long for those desired changes.
The question was if they could handle it? Delta did have a habit of...
Well, to put it bluntly, being scary. Her power and changes were not normal. Under a less kind Core, Renny might have been worried. Under a lesser Core... he might have done his best to break free.
Not with Delta. He merely waited to see what odd thing she would do next.
It was bound to be funny for a while before becoming terrifying in hindsight
Such was Delta’s Dungeon.
Kemy felt the creaking wood close behind her. Cois the goblin had lead her to the storeroom, she was sure of it. The clicking of the locked door, the smell of pots and stored wood of the shelves. The taste that mingled in the air was the slight feast of apples, honey, cooked meat... it was enough to make Kemy drool but she remembered the mouse.
Oh she remembered that mouse.
But Cois had lead her on and despite the room looking small... he grunted something and soon they walked on. Some secret tunnel? Something only monsters could open? Kemy didn’t know but the tunnel felt warm and moist. The growing smell of what she was rapidly coming to know as ‘mushroom’ was becoming strong.
Almost the same level as that Grove of mushrooms. Her hair felt a slight tug as Miss Muffet rearranged her hair again. It was nice, having such tiny hands... er... legs tugging and messing with her hair.
She had no idea if the spider knew of human hairstyles but short of a disaster, Kemy wouldn’t mind.
The duck in her arms was quiet but Kemy also took comfort in his warm frame. He was so light that she had little trouble carrying him for so long.
Soon, Cois’ tapping staff stopped and Kemy came to a halt.
“I’d take you onwards but all that listening stuff made me think you should take a minute here. Well, that and ‘Stro wouldn’t let us pass without at least a comment or ten,” Cois grumbled. His voice soft as prickly thorns.
“Here?” she asked politely. The heat had risen to a new level but Kemy’s senses tingled. Something was all around her. Her nose smelt mushrooms and her ears picked up slight rustling.
Cois didn’t answer but a new voice did.
This voice made a shiver dance its way down her spine.
“The place where all the cool cats hang, sweet thing,” the voice said in mirth all around her. The male’s words seemed to dance against her body.
“H-hello?” she called, holding Waddles tightly.
“Greeting, salutations, I can’t wait to celebrate this meeting,” the voice laughed. There was no malice or tension but the voice rang through Kemy. In a familiar way.
She had heard this voice before.
“My name is Kemy,” she bowed slightly.
“Kemy... Kemy... well, that is a lovely name. Not as much as mine, of course but I am biased. I am Maestro!” the voice boomed and Kemy took a step back startled. Maestro... a musical monster? How odd...
“So, no eyes and all ears, I can’t say I hate it at all,” Maestro chuckled. He had a nice laugh, not a mean one. He laughed as if everything was just that funny. Like life was not as serious as Kemy thought.
“Cois, my lad, why don’t you go grab a drink before Mother bans you?” Maestro offered. The goblin snorted.
“I doubt she’ll follow through with that threat… but I better drink just in case,” he agreed. Kemy didn’t hear the staff so couldn’t follow the goblin as Maestro talked over his steps.
“Kemy, tell Maestro what you’re doing here,” the voice encouraged.
“I came here to... see the truth of Delta,” she repeated.
“Blind?” came a surprised question. Kemy nodded as she shuffled forward, her foot touching a solid stone step. She blinked. Maestro sounded like he was right in front of her...
“It’s easier to open your mind if you stop judging everything with your eyes. The truth will form easier if I stop seeing everything the way I want to,” she explained.
“Sometimes what you see... is what you get,” Maestro suggested. Kemy shook her head.
“A rock can hide precious metals. A seed can grow into a medicinal plant. A drunk on the street could have been a great soldier or hero at one point,” she said with a solid conviction that came from her faith.
“Appearances can be deceiving?” Maestro summed up.
“Basically,” Kemy said, her cheeks going red. That was when she heard the slight sound of strings being played.
“Sometimes, a bad person just looks bad but I see your point. Ah, who knows what hidden music each person can hold? Tell me, do you sing?” Maestro asked. Kemy blinked behind her blindfold.
“Not well... just a few hymns from my church. Why?” she climbed another few steps. Maestro’s voice seemed to come from both sides of her.
“I happen to also use different methods to judge someone. You ignore the eyes and I ignore the physical appearance. I also use my ears,” Maestro said, his voice subtly changing to be lower.
“Music... music is hard to fake when one puts their soul into it,” he added.
Kemy stopped climbing this odd staircase.
“Tell me, Kemy. As you seek the truth of Delta, will you allow me to see your truth?” the room went quiet as Maestro’s voice came from directly above her. It seemed to be the first time she had heard him speak from his own lips.
If he had lips, Kemy had no idea. What was Maestro exactly? He didn’t sound like a goblin.
“I... you want me to sing?” Kemy asked, hesitating for a moment. Maestro laughed again.
“You make it sound so grave. I am no sea witch, you can sing without fear. If you do so... honestly... then I shall share a secret of Mother. A little treat, hm?” Maestro tempted into her ears. Kemy shivered.
“Sure, I guess! Like I said, I don’t know more than a few hymns and a fair few drunk bar songs because of Gonga but I’ll stick to the hymns!” Kemy said quickly, almost sensing Maestro smiling.
Still, if the tip wasn’t any use to Kemy... it could be something useful for the Moons. Any little info helped a guild in the long run!
“Okay, here I go!” Kemy inhaled and tried to get her stage fright to calm down.
“Sing... I’ll help,” Maestro encouraged.
The hymn Kemy used was her favourite of all.
‘The Truth of Love’. The song was quaint and not often sung when Kemy was a simple sister of the church but she slowly began the first line of the song.
Closing her eyes, despite her blindfold, she pretended she was back at her small chapel. The days that seemed more magical due to the power of memories. The way the main hall looked like a secret realm as the sun shimmered through the stained glass depicting her Goddess in various acts through her tales.
As she sang, the sound of a piano and soft harp strings sounded out in time. It almost made Kemy stumble over the next few words, but she caught herself.
The song was about her Goddess and how she praised the love between two people. The pure honest affection and love they displayed had moved even her Goddess. The song went through hard talks they shared, the love they declared... the honest words when they promised each other they would never be apart.
Kemy felt braver and more relaxed with each line she sang. Maestro somehow managed to make the soft strings and the piano sound just like her music teacher of the chapel. Each note softly in time but not overpowering or harsh.
For the longest of moments, Kemy felt like she was home and she felt Muffet reaching down to catch a tear she hadn’t felt fall.
Kemy was neither the best singer or the most dedicated learner. She was sure she had missed a few words and notes but she sang until she was out of words.
The music slowly stopped and then there was silence. A warm pause after all was said and done.
“Wonderful. I can see why she likes you,” Maestro said, breaking the moment. Kemy shrugged and gathered her scattered emotions back together.
Maestro sounded affectionate in an odd way. Kemy shuddered as she breathed.
“You were a very good player... the instruments were well practised,” she praised back, needing to say something.
“Oh hush, you little charmer. I am a monster of my word. A tip for you,” Maestro’s voice dropped into a whisper.
“Kindness gets you much farther than a blade. If it comes down to combat to death... you’ve missed something,” he said
Kemy was beginning to see that her for herself.
“Mother said your voice is great and you shouldn’t be shy,” Maestro said suddenly. That made Kemy blush just a little harder.
“Well, let’s get you to Fera. Turn around and stick your hand out,” Maestro instructed. Kemy did so and something grew from the ground until it bumped into her hand.
Soft and spongy.
“The mushrooms will guide you, don’t worry. It wouldn’t do well for my feng shui if you fell unconscious at the bottom of the stairs from tripping,” he chuckled. More mushrooms grew until they formed an almost safety rail.
“Thank you!” Kemy burst out with a smile. Holding on, she reached the bottom of the stone steps and the rail carried on, twisting around until Kemy reached another tunnel. Waddles quacked and Muffet chittered.
“Onwards!” Kemy agreed.
Delta watched the girl walk slowly towards the kitchen area of the bar. She would be okay.
“Little Kemy has got a tune, not like Isanella but she’s pretty good,” Maestro said to her, his large demonic face and thin fingers that looked designed to drag unfortunate people under the water, flexed.
“Maestro, was she happy or sad when she sang?” Delta asked quietly. Maestro examined his fingers for a moment before answering.
“One can be both. I felt the sadness was more of a... homesick vibe. Felt awful, good thing I never plan to leave home,” Maestro announced.
“Yeah, you get to live here and rent-free as well!” Delta complained but she was smiling just a little.
“I do the music! How can you ignore my amazing contributions to our lovely home?” Maestro gasped, acting as if Delta had wounded him.
“Because half the music you try to play is rude or Benny Hill when something happened to the Moons!” she reminded. Maestro chuckled.
“I can’t wait until you make large fall areas, I have the Wilhelm scream lined up,” he admitted.
Delta shook her head and floated after Kemy.
Kemy hesitated as something pushed in her hand.
She had merely opened a door before some gruff woman had escorted her... somewhere. The scent of cooking food and rich aromas had taken her by complete surprise. Why was there such delicious smells in the Dungeon?
Something hissed... something bubbled...
It was like a kitchen almost.
The woman had sat her on a stool and for an odd moment, Kemy felt like she might have just drifted off to sleep in Durence and woken back up in the tavern.
But that was popped when Cois nudged her.
“Come on! Have some Shroom Pop!” he encouraged.
The mug in her hands felt cold so Kemy gulped slightly before sipping it. She slowly put the mug down.
The taste was... well... Kemy sipped again.
It was kind of earthy, but it turned sweet as it passed her tongue. After a moment, the sweetness melted away into a distinct mushroom aftertaste.
Kemy liked mushrooms but this was giving her tongue a midlife crisis. It tasted good like pop of the capitol, but it was also made from mushrooms.
“How about something harder!” a new voice called from the back of the room.
“Numb, you ejeet! The girl looks as old as me, she ain’t getting no ale until I know better!” the woman growled.
“Sorry, Fera...” ‘Numb’ said, cowed.
“Thank you for the drink,” Kemy said and sipped more of the complex liquid.
“It’s alright, dahling, you’re a guest. Momma said to treat you right. You’re a nice girl, shame you got Cois as a guide,” Fera snorted. There was a grunt as Cois put his staff on the bar.
“What did you mean by that?” he asked with annoyance. Fera was quiet for a moment before she put something heavy and made from metal on the bar as well.
“What do you think I mean?” Fera said back, voice smug. Cois grumbled but to Kemy’s amazement, he didn’t back-sass Fera.
“You gobbos think you are all so stronk,” Fera said before refilling Kemy’s drink without asking Kemy if she wanted more.
Kemy sort of did... but also sorta didn’t.
This drink was upsetting her on a spiritual level, but Kemy didn't reject the refilled mug.
“Where… am I?” Kemy said, holding her moral dilemma in the form of a drink with both hands.
“Swarthy Hog, dahling. My place and a rest point for folks. The last room before the big cheese himself,” Fera explained as the sound of a wet cloth began to wipe down the bar.
“Big cheese?” she asked, afraid that Haldi had found her and came with more cheese.
“Fran the Pig Knight,” Fera answered. There was a sudden clatter of mugs as every person in the bar, and there was more than Kemy had known about, all cheered.
“TO FRAN!” they called and drank.
Kemy sipped the drink in her hands. Excited but unsure at the taste.
“Here ya go Muffet. Spiders in the corner are waiting for you. I think that’s what they’re saying. That or they’re so drunk they’re just dancing for dancing,” Fera seemed to pass something to Muffet. The spider crawled down Kemy’s face, seemed to nuzzle her before she crawled away.
Kemy giggled and waved.
She was feeling rather warm! She drank more of the pop. Waddles quacked, more a demand than random noise.
“Listen, I can’t make that drink. I don’t have access to ‘Souls of the Nyxian river’ or ‘Infernal Brimstone’. Just drink water or pop for now!” Fera grumbled.
Those were odd ingredients. Then again, alcohol had always been a dramatic business. Kemy was sure it was some weird duck drink that had barely any buzz to it.
She giggled again, Duck drinks...
She drained her mug and Fera filled it up again for free!
Kemy was so happy!
“Fran the Pig Knight, he sounds important,” Kemy said finally.
“He is the boss of this floor. He deserves some respect,” Fera agreed. This made Kemy sit up straight.
“The boss? The bar is next to the boss room?” she said with shock.
“Isn’t Momma nice?” Fera agreed.
Kemy felt her heart speed up as she was less than a tunnel away from the most deadliest creature in this dungeon so far...
Kemy drained her mug in a single gulp.
She hated this drink. But she also loved it!
“Is he dangerous?” Kemy asked aloud. Fera cleared her throat.
“He’s serious about his job, I can barely get him to come here for a drink,” she admitted. Kemy was nodding before the woman’s words caught up with her.
She almost spit her drink out in shock but swallowed it due to how good it was.
“THE BOSS CAN LEAVE HIS ROOM?” she screeched just a tad.
There was a silence before a new voice spoke.
“He can. Not often as I find training takes up too much of my time. Mother... encouraged me to be social,” the deep voice called and a wave of power crawled over Kemy’s skin. This feeling. It pricked at her very senses.
Inside, a tiny voice screamed for her to run.
Bosses had unique energies. A deeper, more violent coursing pulse of Dungeon power than anywhere else. It was usually so unique that one could not mistake it for anything else.
But the feeling hitting her now was not the blood soaked aura she expected. It was like steel, solid and polished. The feeling coming off the boss who took a stool next to her made her think of... a knight. Solid and unwavering. His purpose and life dedicated to the kingdom he lived in.
Fran the Pig Knight.
Kemy felt more awed than afraid for a moment.
“Fera... I’d like a pop,” Fran’s deep words called. Kemy was still until something large and wet pushed into her face. She yelped as a tongue reached out and gave her a curious taste.
“Sorry about him, Bacon doesn’t meet new people often,” Fran’s almost gentle tone made Kemy finally able to speak.
“My pig, I ride him into battle for glory,” Fran’s tone remained pleasant.
Kemy nodded slowly.
Truth... was really stranger than fiction.
She needed more pop… she heard the mug being refilled and winced at the fact she would have to drink another one… another delicious drink.
This place hurt her head.
Kemy kinda liked it.