Kemy stared at the boss monster that sat next to her. Well, where his voice came from. His question was blunt but not without purpose.
“Will we fight you?” Kemy echoed. The taller goblin merely sipped his drink as he waited for the answer. What kind of question was that? Kemy fidgeted with her empty glass and felt torn.
If this was a normal dungeon... this wouldn’t even be a question. It would be a certainty. Bosses are guardians to the next level of death and reward. You beat them and you know you were strong... worthy of what came next.
In this place?
Everything Kemy had experienced had told her that violence wasn’t the answer. This dungeon of Delta’s wanted to see something else... expected something else. Every monster she had met had allowed her to live.
It was kinda clear they had the power to say otherwise.
But this was new.
“Do you want to fight?” Kemy finally answered. The boss monster’s aura went charged for a moment.
“Yes but not to the death if you can help it. I may return but you lot are a bit more limited edition,” Fran admitted. There was a clunk as Kemy guessed Fran put his glass down.
“I’ve been a boss for a while and I’ve only had one good fight. The thrill, the energy... the dancing of blades and wild spirits was... beautiful,” Fran’s voice went soft with a tone Kemy would normally hear from those in love.
Fran was someone Kemy would never understand, she already knew that but that didn’t mean she couldn’t empathize with him on a level. A boss with no boss encounters sounded lonely.
“We can try! I mean, no harm in trying if everyone knows it’s more like a spar than a deathmatch!” Kemy nodded. Fran actually burst out in a laugh.
“No, I want you all to try and kill me. I can get better from that,” he said amused.
“Sounds like you’re handicapping yourself then,” Kemy shook her head. She resolved the curious sniffing of the large wet nose of the pig sitting nearby.
She giggled and petted it.
“I guess but until some real warriors turn up, the ones that feel the same as me... friendly spars aren’t so bad,” Fran admitted mostly to himself.
“We use magic and arrows as well, is that okay?” Kemy suddenly said, worried that Fran might expect swords and shields. Fera the bartender snorted.
“Franny, she’s worried about you. Stop stealing the poor girl’s heart,” the goblin laughed. Fran’s reply was hissed too low to be heard before he cleared his throat.
“It’s fine. I want your best so I can see if you’re ready for the next floor. You know anything about it?” the boss asked lightly. Kemy sat up straight.
“Nothing! Anything you could share would be helpful!” Kemy said eagerly.
Fran’s smile could almost be felt on Kemy’s skin.
“It’s green,” he said before draining his drink and burping so loudly that the bar shook.
Kemy winced and next thing she knew, she had downed another drink and another and another.
Soon, Kemy felt very happy and rather... springy.
Delta watched as her goblins carefully guided a rather drunk Kemy back to the entrance of her Dungeon. She would have to make sure Fera warned people that her Shroom pops had a slight buzz to them. She felt a tug from Nu on the second floor, so she zoomed off down the stairs.
She sent a silent thanks to Kemy for her visit.
Soon, the tunnels exploded into lush jungle and life. Delta loved her jungle, to have seen the vibrant green grow from nothing. Delta’s efforts... her imagination... her wonder was a reality before her.
Really, she would never grow bored of this. If there was no going home, wherever that was, and no getting out of the Dungeon... then Delta honestly didn’t mind making new floors. It was such a deep-seated satisfaction to see her results... but it also gave rise to a new feeling.
Delta wanted to do more soon... the next floor would be hers and she was going to make it amazing! But first, she was going to make her second floor even better! The jungle was here, the monsters were here, the secrets were here, and the purpose was here.
But it just needed those extra touches to make it spectacular.
Delta spread herself and felt the new spaces more clearly.
“Thanks for that, by the way,” she smiled, eyes closed. She cracked one open to read Nu’s reply.
“Nu-speak for ‘you’re welcome’,” Delta chuckled as she floated gently over the tree tops, observing the world below.
“Before I rush to make more things, let me just take it step by step,” she asked and her travels ended as she came near the bridge that she had the frog monster, Giant, guard. His massive frame and still posture only shifted as Delta called out a greeting.
He nodded slowly but said nothing.
Delta didn’t mind, she could almost feel the shy affection leaking off the giant’s body. She smiled at him.
“Doing a good job! Get your key?” she asked and Giant opened one hand to show a brass key. It looked like a toy in his palm.
Delta gave him a long look.
“You need to put it somewhere for when you get challenged, any ideas?” she asked gently. Giant nodded and walked to the middle of the bridge. The creation was one of Delta’s grander projects but she saw Giant had been slowly sliding branches in some of the nooks and holes to give it a more ‘bird nest’ vibe. Giant easily reached over and slipped the key onto the longest branch that stuck out.
“Mid-way... in view, but not easy... I like it,” Delta said before she peered over to the gentle river flowing below that looked safe to fall in.
“Kinda ruined by the scenery, let me fix that,” she promised and closed her eyes.
First off... her Mana dipped and the river below sunk until it was double in height. A little more of a risk now. Next up, she opened the bridge menu and browsed the options.
Delta grinned. With careful picking, she picked the mist, the reverse-falling gimmick and the key branch. The results were rather sudden and cool.
A weird ripple of orange energy flickered over the air below the bridge before it faded. Delta could barely see the weird web of energy that would catch those that fell. Next up the thick mist rolled in from both sides of the river and when it had settled, Delta could hear the river but the mist was the awesome cinematic kind. The kind where it curled and danced on the spot. She swore she could see ghostly shapes forming, fingers beckoning the onlookers.
She couldn’t see the river and that made any who saw it wonder what was below...
Joke was on them, it would be Rale or Bob. Harmless softies. The last effect showed the branch holding the key glowing with orange veins as it grew farther out from the bridge. The tip curled thickly and trapped the key in its grip.
Delta floated over and saw the wood looked stronger. It would take more than some fancy arrow or a lucky sword throw to chop this wood. She turned back to Giant whose left arm glowed with the same orange veins for a moment.
The connection clear. Giant flexed his arm with intent and the branch swayed to his command.
“Oh that’s neat. Now you can reward people if they pass your test!” Delta clapped her hands with excitement. Giant’s averted eyes and slightly bluish cheeks showed Giant was pleased about this.
“My home... is exciting?” he echoed. Delta nodded and Giant looked even more pleased.
Delta loved the big lug. She waved goodbye and floated above the jungle again.
Next on the list was...
Should Delta go by distance or alphabetical? Eh distance it was! It was less hassle to think.
Delta landed in one of the happiest places in her Dungeon, Fera’s bar aside. The domain of the bees! As she touched down, Queen Lizzie’s face appeared near the highest pillar hive and greeted her warmly in the humming buzz of hers.
“Hey! How goes being a mother to uh... well... a lot of kids?” Delta asked politely as Nu’s box tingled with a sigh.
Lizzie buzzed her affection and after five minutes solid of her listing her children’s names.
Bzzt, BzZzt, Bzztt, Bzzztz, Bzttt, GARNASH, Bzstt, Tzzb, John, Bz-zt, and Bzt were some of Delta’s favourites.
Delta saw that at the very apex of the pillar was another brass key covered in dry honey, covering it in a shell of honey amber.
Several of the mutant large bees floated around it. They were rather adorably fat once Delta got past the stingers larger than her hand. And the buzzing noise like a wood chipper making love to a helicopter... And the angry red colour. But really, the chubbiness made them kinda cute after a while.
Delta focused back on the Queen.
“I was making sure this place was ready for any adventurers. I can see the key is up there, but how are the... people suppose to get it?” Delta tried ask politely as the red rock loomed over them.
“No... people don’t have wings,” Delta promised. Lizzie buzzed again.
“Most do not have more than two arms to climb with,” she explained.
Silence stretched for a moment. Then Lizzie buzzed a long moment. Delta pursed her lips.
“I guess compared to a bee, a person is rather boring biologically but they can do a lot of neat stuff, I promise!” Delta assured the Queen before she looked at the pillar and made a bunch of hand holes and crevices for people to climb on to reach the top. The leaking honey didn’t get too far and most of it was used to build more min-pillars or even works of art by the bees. Delta dipped the ground lower and the pool of honey deepened as a moat of golden honey formed around the royal pillar.
The last touch was several stepping stones to the base of the pillar.
Not only did it look rather awesome, it gave anyone who fell from the top of the pillar a chance not to go splat on solid ground. Not too deep, as they could drown as well. Honey could be heavy!
Lizzie buzzed politely and said the moat of honey looked nice at least.
“A queen needs a proper moat or she just doesn’t have that cool-factor,” Delta explained. This seemed to give something for the bee to think about, and Delta bid her farewell. Next up would be Gramps. She skipped Luna just now, ideas still forming there.
Gramps was an odd monster. He rarely left the spawn room, tending to it and making sure it looked at peak condition.
Not that dirt and dust were a thing in the Dungeon but Delta appreciated it nonetheless.
“My Delta,” Gramps greeted, sensing her before she even spoke. The old hunched frog didn’t hobble but Delta wanted to look after him all the same.
“Hey Gramps, how is it going?” she asked. The frog smiled a relaxed smile.
“The room is calming. I find the water soothing compared to the chaos out there,” he stated without any hint of shame. Delta giggled, looking at the stone altar resting in the middle of the shimmering green water.
The Frog Spawn room had a calming quality if one liked wet places.
“I came to grant you an upgrade! I was thinking I have quite a few frog monsters and if something was to go wrong, it would be good to have an overreaching authority. Like a chief!” she explained as she walked across the water calmly. Gramps rubbed his chin.
“You want this old hermit to look after all of them? Did I do something wrong?” he asked, clearly jesting but Delta merely shrugged.
“You don’t have to accept if you wanna stay just Gramps,” she promised. Something she would never do unless dire circumstances demanded it was to forcesuch a change on her monsters. Gramps waved her words away with a webbed hand.
“It would be an honor and I can see the need for someone to keep Rale and Giant from causing a mess,” he rolled his eyes as he walked forward with both hands behind his back. Delta could only imagine the falling trees if both of them wrestled... then if Bob got involved...
She shivered and was glad Gramps was open to the idea.
“Just give me a minute, this won’t take too long!” she promised as she came to a stop on the water, closest to the statues of Rale and Devina. She opened the menu of Gramps, seeing the generic options.
She highlighted the ‘Chieftain’ evolution and watched Gramps become covered in strings of light that formed a cocoon around him. The light grew brighter and brighter and from the sphere, several lines of gold flew out the cave like strings.
The whole scene died down to reveal a frog that was no longer quite as hunched. Gramps had gone from old and gnarled to old and kinda impressive.
The first thing she really noticed was the headdress made of several of her local birds woven together to almost form a cloak and hood. He flexed, and several popping noises and cracks showed he had not only grown upwards but also in size. His wrinkly frame now had sleeping powerful muscles under his yellowish skin.
All down his chest and torso, black marks that looked almost burned into the skin were visible. It showed a winding painting of three frogs holding up the flipping trifor...
Wait, no... that was the Delta symbol! Delta almost sighed with relief. She had far too many pots and monsters to have a silent green boy appear...
The Delta symbol was painted orange and it was the centerpiece of the tattoo. It pulsed once and Gramps took a step forward. His kilt was made of fox pelts and something dark. In one hand he held a staff with a solid head carved into a generic frog’s head.
Overall, the effect was pretty good on Gramps. She took a quick peek at his menu as he seemed to take a moment to gather himself.
It was everything Delta ever wanted.
Gramps tapped the staff once and the water in the Frog Spawn room shivered as if afraid. The grim face showed a soft smile as he stared at her.
“My Delta,” he breathed before frowning. He spun the staff and it pulsed in the air. In the distance there came a masculine shriek.
“RALE, do not surf Renny down the river, you thick-headed rock of a frog!” he snarled. He shook his head.
“I enjoyed being a hermit, but now I gotta feel all these rascals pulling each-other’s legs or doing something stupid. But... I can still stay here and tend to the room. I find it peaceful and I’ll need peace before long,” Gramps snorted as he tilted his head.
“Devina, dear, that would be lovely. I shall boil some water if you fetch the honey,” he promised to Devina. Delta blinked and found the female frog quite a distances away.
“You’re connected to them all?” she asked with interest as she walked in time with him to the entrance of the room that was high up.
“More like I am... aware of them. I’ll learn to mute them eventually,” Gramp’s smiled returned before he nodded to the jungle.
“Do not fret. You have much work to do and it won’t be long before more people come. You need to secure yourself and grow,” he encouraged warmly. Delta blinked before she smiled, she threw her arms around him, only feeling a bare fleeting sensation before she pulled back.
Hugging while being a ghost was hard but she did what she could.
“Try and leave, the fake light is good for you!” she promised and took off with a jump, gliding across the sky.
She twisted and flipped slowly. Flying... to think she could just fly when it suited her. Delta laughed as she fell on purpose. Her feet went through trees and rocks until she slowed down to land on the surface of the hot spring. She looked down to see the surface barely rippling as she moved.
It was just so... magical. Delta shook her head at her thoughts.
What about this place wasn’t magical?
Even the mushrooms could shoot laser beams now.
“Heyo, Mum,” Luna called as she pattered over to the edge of the hotspring to wave cheerfully at her.
“Luna!” Delta quickly hurried over and gave her youngest sounding frog a once over. Still looking graceful in her kimono, Luna was the picture perfect image of style. Even the black boot heels seemed to just add to her character.
Now Delta was going to give her something else to have.
“How would you feel about being a ninja?” she asked with excitement. Luna blinked once or twice.
“Do I still get to be in charge of the springs?” was the first question. Delta shrugged.
“It’s an evolution, not a job. So I think you can do both,” she reasoned out. Luna leaned forward, her hands on her hips as her mouth stretched into a smile.
“Do ninjas kill people in cool ways?” she asked almost innocently. Delta gave her a long look.
“Normal ninjas do cool flashy attacks, and appear from the shadows like ‘you’re already dead!’. They use laser swords or giant monsters to fight for them,” Delta said with a bright smile.
Luna’s eyes were so wide they almost fell out of her head.
“I wanna be one!” she demanded.
“But I don’t think you-” Delta tried to explain that the evolution would most likely be the more historically accurate but less cool version but Luna was already swinging some invisible blade and making whooshing noises.
Delta merely shrugged and purchased the Frog Assassin evolution for her.
Unlike Gramps, the cocoon that surrounded her was made of pulsing dark and orange fibers. They fell away like shadows under the sun and a figure that was Luna stood there for a moment. The only thought Delta had proper was...
At least there were no laser swords.
Black baggy top showed Luna’s torso was tightly wrapped with bandages. Her shorts were much the same but no one... and no one, should be wearing that many belts and fishnets.
Legs, arms, neck, most of her body showed Luna had fishnets over her skin. Also, why did she have three belts on each arm?
You only needed one belt and none of the ones she wore were in the correct place! Instead, a deep purple sash seemed to tie her black outfit together.
“I am the night... I am the silence... I am sooo cool!” Luna gushed over her new outfit.
Nu’s annoyed words only made Delta stare longer.
“I may have put ideas into her head about ninjas. They may be entirely the wrong ideas,” Delta admitted.
Luna twirled and a deep thunk echoed through the springs as Luna threw a handful of hidden needles that buried themselves into the wood with ease.
“Spine... heart... lungs... liver... brain... so many targets... so exposed..” Luna said as she spun lightly and to Delta surprise, the ninja garb was replaced by her Hot Spring’s guardian outfit. The change was almost instant.
“Oh good, I still have my heels,” Luna said cheerfully. A few twirls showed that she wasn’t just changing outfits, she was leaning her being towards her ‘job’ and her ‘evolution’. Switching between them like a press of a button. Delta guessed it would take time for her to balance both.
Until then, no one would suspect the graceful Luna to actually be an assassin... or maybe they would. It was hard to say.
The only thing left to do now, while Luna was doing her best Wonder Woman impression, was to upgrade the hot springs themselves.
Now... Delta began to smile very slowly at the innocent bubbling water.
She had a rather fun idea.
After all, Luna still needed a good test, right?
“Yo... Nu? Why is Mum cackling?” she heard Luna whisper.
“Woah... she can hurt people’s souls. That is so cool,” Luna’s awe was clear and Delta’s laugh trailed off as she had an inkling Nu was right.
Still, it had never stopped her before. She just needed to gather some items, upgrade a few flowers... and invest in an incense burner.
Delta put that next on the agenda list, right after she popped into Renny’s circus and finally helped the Mime get a decent home. Jeez, so much work.
Delta turned and beamed.
But she couldn’t lie... she loved it.
“And the truth….truf is that I love you, in a nice way, not like a married way!” Kemy explained to the stoic bartender back in Durence. She felt her bestest sister in the whole world, Aneya, sigh.
“Kemy, how did you come back drunk?” she asked again. Kemy pushed a finger to Aneya’s lips.
“Shhh, it’s not drunk. It’s pop!” she argued. She would never get drunk on a holy pilgrimage. Never intentionally!
“Girl’s redder than Quiss’ behind after I was done with him,” the loud wonderful woman known as Ruli said.
Kemy gasped as she stumbled over to her.
“You... punished Quest? Quish? Quiche? Was he bad?!” Kemy said dramatically and looked at the scowling blond man.
She did a prayer for his immoral soul.
“Oh he was very bad!” Ruli slammed her mug down, laughing at ‘Quiche’.
“I shall… redeem you!” Kemy announced and stood on the table.
“By the power of truth...truth....hic... I say this is the best town in the world!” she cried, beaming so brightly she hiccuped once more and toppled back into Gonga’s waiting arms.
“Okay, Delta got her pissed. I need to know how,” was all she heard before she was warm and embraced by love and truth and Aneya’s grumpy mumbles.
She would have to remember to gift the goobers...gooblins....gobbers something nice for bringing her home.
Some love! Yes, that would be nice.
Everyone needed Kemy love.
Delta especially. Kemy would give her all the love… for more POP!
The girl giggled in her sleep.