When faced with an army of giant mutant spiders, Delta’s mind wanted to find a nice safe place to close her eyes and wait for them to go away, but she pushed that feeling down as she watched Renny and Missy take down several spiders without fear.
Delta wanted to run and scream, but not now. Not while her monsters were doing their best. Still, she kinda wished she had the power to at least throw rocks at them. Wilhelm smashed a few more in a wild frenzy. Wherever this ape had been before had given it a resilience to fear as it didn’t even blink as the spiders leapt for his thick hands.
Remembering how she burned the Slimers, she tried to summon the menu to install a gate or some form of fire. Raising monsters in a past life via handheld games had taught her that when little kids and brats charged at you with bugs... you had to burn them all!
The only issue was a strange purple miasma that was flowing into the Dungeon through the Spider tunnel. The Menu flickered into existence but it was heavily distorted as she tried to focus on the room to seal the tunnel.
Stable what? The information box twitched and a flood of blue took over as Nu took its place.
Delta grinned, nodding as she understood that just fine.
The lone room rumbled as the flow of spiders suddenly slowed and Delta had a slight spark of hope that maybe they had run out of the little nightmares when her tooth began to ache as if a cavity was forming in record time. The tunnel beyond cracked open wider as a spider pulled itself through.
If the first wave were giant spiders then this thing... was a Titan Spider. It loomed over the black mass of spiders and when it walked, it even crushed a few of its own allies to reach the Circus room. As it came closer, Delta felt that vile presence grow again. It was like this giant beast was more important than the common spiders.
Delta urged everyone out into the open space outside the tent and the Titan spider rampaged forward, eager to sink those massive fangs into flesh. Odd, given the only creature not made of Mana was Renny and he had been a mummy not that long ago...
As the first three legs appeared from the opening near the tent, Wilhelm leapt up and landed on top of the tent, the insides buckled and wood groaned. Delta was quite glad she had repaired the damn thing before this all happened.
The giant silver ape reached down and yanked the Titan upwards, the beast hissing loud enough to make Delta’s skin prickle. The Titan was quick to recover, turning to wrestle Wilhelm atop of the tent. The Spider was slightly bigger but Wilhelm had power and leverage as he managed to snap one leg and use it as a makeshift spear.
“WHERE’S GODZILLA WHEN YOU NEED HIM?” Delta screamed as the tent entrance exploded with a wave of black legs and fangs. She turned to see Missy being carried out by Renny, the little Mushroom firing beams over his shoulder.
Delta was quick on their heels. A spider leg passed through her avatar and it felt like her body was filled with hot acid. The sheer contact of the spider made Delta gasp and falter in her flight.
Her stomach churned and it was hard to breathe, but she kept moving. Being buried under a wave of that was... not going to happen! She turned to see the Titan spider being thrown hard into the rock wall and Wilhelm swinging the stolen leg to crush the waves of spiders climbing up to aid their commander.
Thankfully, he was a part of the circus and if anything happened, she could bring him back. By the looks of it, he wasn’t going down without a fight.
Renny was slowed down as he carried the slow Missy away from the hordes of Spider. They seemed to get more excited as they finally entered the main section of the floor sucking at the air madly and the sound made Delta ill. A small spider moved quicker than the rest and the tip of two of its legs ended in sharp barbs as it leapt at Renny’s back as Missy aimed at the mass of the invasion.
“Renny!” she yelled and the Mime turned and hefted his free arm up as if lifting something. Delta winced as the leaping spider seemed to impale itself on an invisible spear. It began sliding down slightly before Renny dropped his construct. He put Missy down and gestured to the thick trees, implying that the young mushroom should take cover. Missy shook her head, grabbing at Renny’s hand, urging him to follow.
Delta could feel what was not spoken, and she wished she could hide them all away, but the monsters gave no time for her feelings to magically make things better. Renny pushed Missy behind him and his normal ghoul smile turned feral and scary as he snapped his fingers for Missy to run.
The faster spiders that Delta had chosen to name as Assassin spiders - as their leaping and barbed feet gave her the impression they weren’t exactly trying to give Renny a hug - leapt, and Renny’s hand went flat, causing them to crash into a flat wall. The five or so assassins quickly scuttled sideways, trying to find the edge. It was then Delta saw what Renny had already figured out. Missy’s eyes were flickering as if she was struggling to keep up her lasers for such a long period.
“Missy, go!” Delta ordered and the Mushroom child didn’t seem to get an option as she was lifted off her feet and carried into the forest by the tiny forms of the Pygmies. They had taken Delta’s order as intended. Renny snapped his head to the far side as he held up both hands to push back against the wave of spiders. One of the assassin spiders had found the end of the Mime wall and eagerly leapt for the tired Missy and the unaware Pygmies.
“Missy!” Delta rushed forward, her form rushing through the Spider in mid-air. She flew through it like she expected but her body just moved. The full contact of the monster made Delta’s insides shriek in burning pain as her avatar body crashed to the floor. She blinked in confusion as the spider also seemed to veer off course. It curled up and rocked as if also in pain.
What? Did she do... that?
The Pygmy forces were almost into a dense collection of trees while Renny’s wall trembled under the fury of the Giant spiders. However as Renny used his powers to snag two more assassin spiders, the last two spiders leapt for Missy as if sensing an easier meal than Renny.
Delta tried to move, maybe crash into them again but her body burned. In her head, that watcher, that controller of this army was also in pain. The feelings transmitted through the Miasma and spiders themselves.
The two spiders bared their fangs and swung their barbed limbs at Missy as the young Mushroom tried to power her laser on in a hurry but the energy was sluggish to rise.
Delta began to crawl forward, desperate to do something! She didn’t want to see Missy hurt... she couldn’t just sit here and do nothing! Delta needed to help!
She needed... help.
The trees parted and the two spiders had a split second to see their doom raise two fists above its head and swing them down at their heads. The Jungle was quiet for an entire three seconds, as everyone took stock of the newcomer.
Delta managed a shaky smile at the sight of Lord Mushy... Lordy... shake his fists of the green guts before he reached down and grabbed his scepter-like cane. The Pygmies and Missy had frozen in awe at the sheer size of Lordy.
“I dare say... what foul guests dare invite themselves to their end?” he called and all around him mushrooms began to sprout, their caps beginning to buzz.
“No kidding. Who invited these chumps to the party? Just looking at them is killing my groove,” Maestro said with disinterest. Renny leapt back and his wall fell but the giant spiders didn’t rush, not yet.
They eyed Lord Mushy with hate-filled eyes. Missy carefully stood up and bowed her little cap to Lordy and the Mushrooms carrying Maestro’s voice.
“Do not fear, for I am here,” Lordy promised as he took a few steps forward, his crowned head bent slightly as if glaring at the army before him with displeasure.
“How dare you hurt my mother and sister!” his voice boomed and the cane in his hand seemed less decorative and more like a dangerous weapon. Maestro’s own tone turned heavy with promise.
“Please, let me know what request you want for your final dance,” the singer urged.
There was movement as two forms appeared on Lordy’s crown. Delta blinked at the tiny forms of the Priest and the Fungalmancer. The Fungalmancer seemed to beckon at something and all in a neat row, Starlight Mushrooms burst out of the ground on little feet. The Priest chanted as all the mushrooms, including Lordy began to glow a soft orange.
Lordy clenched one fist as if feeling the blessing take hold. Below, the Starlight mushrooms took aim and began to fire tiny lasers into the crowd, their speed much faster due to the blessing. That was enough to get spiders moving as they started forward again.
“Have at you! You gutless worms!” Lordy yelled and rushed forward. His crown and cape flowed with heavy yellow spores. He spun and the spores flew out, making most of the spiders falter and even causing the closest to just spasm to the ground as his cane began to crush heads and legs.
Black Mushrooms appeared on the spiders at the Fungalmancer’s power and they ruptured violently in a cloud of spores and spider legs.
Maestro cackled and his mushrooms began to let loose with horns of war.
“You guys...” Delta finally stood and while the sight of her monsters defending their home was amazing, it was hard to feel confident when they were still outnumbered.
That thought was washed away, along with many spiders, as Rale came exploding out of the river. He did not come alone, as he rode Bob into the chaos.
“BOB TAKES OFFENCE AT THE WORM COMMENT!” he roared as Bob swept his head wildly from the water. Rale leapt off his head as Lordy smashed two spiders together.
“My apologies! I shall instead refer to these cretins as honorless thugs!” Lordy promised. Rale’s muscles bulged and he began to grab assassin spiders out of the air to use as a shield against thick green acid being fired at him by the green glowing spiders at the back. His trident being thrown at another incoming one.
“Tch, I’m a man for close combat! Perhaps I can get some support!” he called to the thick trees. A shadow rushed from the top, using a jumping assassin as a springboard, raining thin needles down on the ranged Spitters. The thin metal needles made them into a pincushion as Luna landed near the back, her high heels buried deep into the body of one of the Spitters.
“THE EPIC NINJA OF THE BLOOD MOON ARTS IS HERE!” she yelled as she twirled onto another spider, heels acting like daggers as she slashed and cartwheeled death into the back row.
“Don’t get surrounded!” Delta warned as the still coming Giant spiders tried to do exactly that to her. Luna scoffed as she stood there encircled.
“You think I don’t have a plan?” she informed them as from the shadows of the trees... glowing green spirits began to race towards the unaware spiders who only had eyes for Luna. Devina walked forward, her eyes glowing with power as her spirits entered the Spiders’ bodies and began to cause their legs to act out or even a few to just lash out at those around them.
“Ninja escape!” Luna yelled cheerfully, backflipping over the possessed Spiders as the Witch Doctor continued her efforts to make the spiders turn on one another.
Rale swung again, the river seeming to surge at his command - but he was a little overrun as he was bitten several times. Still, his bulging body fought on despite his veins turning dark.
He was aided by Giant who wandered in and began to swing a tree he had pulled from the ground, the great log creating space for Rale to catch his breath. Lordy was stunning as he went, but the spitters were beginning to spread their acid over the area and it was slowing the noble mushroom down.
That was, until Renny landed on his shoulder, holding what Delta had to see as an umbrella, the acid sliding to the side. Lordy laughed with joy as he felt the pain fade. The Priest and Fungalmancer came out of hiding and got back to work.
The whole scene was just chaos and death. Still... something was missing.
It hit her then that there was one little critter missing from the trio of hero Pygmies. The answer also came by sounds of furious buzzing and the faint tones of Flight of the Valkyries starting up. The air support had finally appeared.
The sky above went dark as the first wave of drone bees arrived.
But in the lead was the Tinker. He rode on the spearhead of the swarm. He raised one hand and then slashed it down. The bees swerved over the oncoming black wave and dropped bundles of Gutrot Mushrooms. The sheer speed and impact caused them to rain death down on the encroaching army.
Delta cheered and whooped as it all came together. The blasts scattered the main lot and more than a few scampered into the deep trees and rushed off into several directions. The spiders controller... the Queen was learning and taking measures.
The purple fog flowing out of the Circus was very thick but Delta could see a wave of blue and orange pushing back at it. In the middle was Nu’s screen as he seemed to be giving off the aura.
His entire focus was on it and Delta couldn’t seem to reach him.
She looked up as the Warrior Bees dived, stingers thicker than daggers, at the spiders but they were learning and headed to the trees to avoid open areas like the Circus entrance. Rale was looking ill but he was surrounded by spider corpses. Luna and Devina had to retreat as some spiders with armoured bodies and stinging tails forced Luna back since her needles and pointed heels couldn’t as easily pierce their skin.
Delta hoped they would be okay, but she had to see where these spiders were going.
The Queen of the Miasma also seemed to be helping her monsters push back the green energies of Devina.
A few headed towards her core but worse, more than enough went towards the stairs leading to the first floor. Delta would not let these things reach her entrance. The Scarlet Moons could be back anytime or anyone else!
Durence could handle themselves but these new adventures… Delta wasn’t going to take the risk that even more people might have arrived.
She flew off into the air.
“DEFEND OUR HOME!” she called, hoping what little encouragement she could offer was enough.
“TO ARMS!” Lordy responded. His form blurred even faster. Rale roared, charging and grabbing a scorpion spider that was about to sting Devina.
“YOU ARE NOT WORTHY TO TOUCH LADY DEVINA!” he said furiously and ripped the tail off. Bob vanished into the water as he followed some spiders upstream.
Delta raced from the battlefield and hoped Nu could handle this from here.
She had spiders to hunt down.
It wasn’t a Dungeon.
Nu knew that, like how he knew Delta was hopeless. Just a fact. There was just something not quite as complex as a Dungeon in this flow of power. Corrupted Mana. Unlike the almost pure Mana Delta leaked from her entrances, this Mana had been so twisted by this... queen, for a lack a better title, that to a normal eye, it would look like a sickly purple haze - but to Nu, who saw things in the basic of Dungeon existence... it was a Spider.
The very Mana had been forced into the same existence as the Spiders. It was good for them. It only worked for them, and any other in this tainted field would be weakened, struggling to use their powers effectively.
Interesting idea, really. If a Dungeon did the same then it would be better defended but it would also easily lose its main source of income.
That’s why Nu just couldn’t respect such a thing. It was selfish to the point of suicide. Did this Queen think she would control the world? Without Mana to others, food would be scarce, life would be just Spiders, and problems would arise.
Honestly, ecosystems were there for a purpose. Nu had half a mind to rant at this Queen if not for the fact he was doing his best to act as a bandaid to her flavor of trouble. Nu knew that if this was another Dungeon… things would be rough and even worse, but this?
He could handle this.
Hunger... Mana… give to me! Give! Give!
It was pure intent and Mana that sounded the Queen’s desire. Nu responded in kind.
“Stop having so many kids and lose a few pounds. Your Mana is heavier than Bacon filled with gutrot,” he challenged. The miasma twinged with anger and the focus the Queen was trying to give to the battle was diverted to Nu.
That’s right… split your attention, you dumb idiot.
Nu felt the twisted Mana lash at him. He felt his box crack a little under the pressure. The joys of not being the Dungeon Core meant that in events like this... his power was a little less effective.
“S-s-Sys, can’t you lend a hand?” he called.
Her response was uncharastically sharp.
Nu shook himself and he began to just throw random pieces of Delta’s puns at the purple mana, puns he had stored outside his memory to preserve sanity. The Spider Queen paused.
It seemed to struggle to digest the information for a second before it bristled and grew furious beyond belief at the jokes. The strict control she had shook slightly and the ranks of Spiders began to become confused.
Nu tried to think about what Delta would say in this instance.
“You’ve been watching us for a while, trying to figure out the best way to eat us. I guess you really are a spy...der,” Nu tried and the pun hurt him somewhere deep inside. The Queen went absolutely silent and her Mana even froze.
Then she began to scream in utter rage.
“And I thought I couldn’t take a joke...” Nu mumbled as the pressure grew and his screen cracked harder.
The scattered forces of the spiders went into many different directions. Most went straight for the stairs, crossing Giant’s bridge in a frenzied rush to find more food.
They climbed and climbed until they burst into a room where the solid ground turned soft and sandy. The eight spiders all felt the very air began to crush down on them. The Queen, the Mother Queen, her touch seemed so far away...
They moved forward, agitated. They could smell pig! Juicy pig...
The leader, the one closest to evolution, neared the hole that smelled of chewy goblin and pig.
Food, so close!
The leader went still as a long metal object went through its mouth and the juicy pig walked out of the entrance and the seven left felt fear. The goblin that was supposed to be prey stared down at them.
“You think you can walk into my house and act like you’re kings?” the goblin spat and he flicked his weapon and the spider on it fell and smacked against the wall.
“It’s time you runts learned the pecking order,” the goblin growled and the juicy pig... licked its lips.
They felt fear and they wanted their mother.
The lone spider rushed about in a panic as its fellow warriors had gone missing. The dense trees and hanging vines hid death. It reached a small clearing and hissed at everything. Where? WHERE? It turned as fast its legs would let it.
It should weave a web, create defenses! It shot a single spool of the white thread and as it touched the branch, spears and rocks hurled itself at the web. Tangling it before it could do anything.
The death shadows were here! The spider bared its fangs in a show of power and something came crashing through the trees. It almost leapt by sheer instincts but it stopped when it saw it was one of its fellow Spiders!
Its legs had been hogtied and a dozen little fluffy things covered its body.
The fluffy things shouldn’t scare it, but they did.
It turned to run and found the trees all around it filled with little wooden faces. It froze as it tried to spot a way out.
The fluffy things were blown from little wooden tubes and it felt numb....then it was being carried off into the darkness.
The shadows of death had captured it. It prayed to the Mother for a swift end.
The scene of clean water and pure Mana drove a squad of assassin Spiders to scale the wall to a hidden place. They grew excited. Hidden places must hide the Source of Mana! The Queen had told them to find the source!
The room beyond was mostly filled with water and a single road with two statues. The lead spider scuttled forward as the rest scaled the walls for ambushes. The only thing in this room was a small tiny frog. Unlike the two large ones or the small fast ones... this one looked old and frail.
The leader moved forward, drooling as it readied to enjoy a quick snack of Mana.
The old frog looked up and the leader paused as the feeling this thing gave off was not fear but... annoyance?
That wasn’t right-
It felt the world spin and light exploded behind all eight eyes. Confused it shrieked for help and tried to climb to its feet but the old frog had cast off it’s cloak to reveal powerful muscles and glowing tattoos.
“May Mother Delta have mercy on you because this old man has had enough of you youngsters and your damn invasion games,” the frog said with a deep growl. He bent and his legs filled with power. Before it could understand, two of its brothers were smears on the walls.
It turned to web or maybe bite the frog but a webbed foot smashed down on its head and it could only briefly feel surprised before its life ended.
Gramps walked forward at the last spider.
“You’re hurting my family. For that, I’m gonna have to destroy you. They annoy me, and they’re too loud but I love my fellow frogs...” he sighed and then eyed the spider as it tried to flee.
“Good thing they aren’t going to be told that - because you aren’t going to live to tell them, and I would rather eat Mother Delta’s mushrooms than admit it,” he promised. He dashed forward, cracking the stone below his feet as he grabbed the spider by the back leg and slammed it onto the side of the entrance. Soon, he was left holding only a leg and he chucked it to the jungle below. He stared out at the jungle as battle raged on.
“Rale... you idiot,” he said quietly and took off into the trees with an agility that didn’t belong to such an old looking man.
Delta nodded as Fran made skewers of the Spiders, turning her attention to the largest group of invaders away from the main force.
About 15 spiders were rushing towards her Core and Delta couldn’t help but feel worried as the idea of those spiders touching her core filled her mind. She shot off, flying across the room to see them squeezing into the door... why wasn’t it shut?!
She phased through the tree wall and the air inside the Boss room was... chilling. She watched as the spiders marched forward through the mist.
She felt Wyin’s excitement... tangible as if the mist itself was like a mood ring, turning pink then red the longer the spiders took to search the room.
The tree in the center unfurled her branches like a bird and she looked up at Delta with a smile.
“Let my love for you be clear,” she sang, her soft and willowy branches flexed and became whips of thorns as others pierced the spiders like javelins.
Delta watched as Wyin tore the spiders apart, her glee and joy growing brighter as the mist grew redder.
It took no time at all and while the Spiders tried to harm Wyin, her bark was strong and she easily brushed them off with a shake of her body. Delta could see she was playing... taking her time to end this.
The words were out her mouth before Delta even knew it. Wyin merely hummed.
“I’m just doing my task,” the tree almost purred as she slowly pierced another spider. Delta felt the pain of the invasion, the effort her monsters were putting in to defending her... and watching Wyin invite danger in and toy with it made Delta bristle.
“Enough!” she snapped and Wyin froze.
“I...” she trailed off as she looked at Delta’s angry face.
“This is is no time for this. You want to play games, do it on your own time. My family is doing their best there. I don’t know you... not yet but if you don’t respect their efforts to at least take this seriously then I won’t stand for it. Do your job or I’ll find someone who will,” Delta said quietly. Wyin looked as if she had been slapped.
The last four spiders exploded in gore and Wyin’s face looked sullen.
“Happy, oh mistress?” she bit out.
Delta shook her head.
“Not until this over. Just... give me time and we’ll talk. But now...” she winced as she felt Nu struggle.
“Easy... do not force yourself. Despite your feelings. I do care. Go and worry. I shall keep the door locked and your core safe. I give you my word. My word!” the tree said with sudden heat.
Delta hesitated before she nodded. She flew off and straight for Nu.
Wyin watched as the orange blur vanished. She felt angry... ashamed...
Of course showing off now would be a stupid thing to do... Wyin cursed herself and slashed a dead spider to pieces in frustration.
Mother was going to talk? Someone else do her job?!
Wyin felt her very branches curl at the idea.
This was her task. Her existence!
The door before her locked tightly. The feeling of fighting and tearing the spiders to pieces was almost amazing. It was so... pure. But now it felt tinged with this shame and Wyin had no desire to invite more in. She wanted to rest... to sulk, if she was being honest.
Mother was never in any danger.
Wyin would burn before she abandoned someone.
She would never leave a loved one. Not like…
Not like... Wyin had been?
Hmm... odd. That was a new feeling.
Wyin closed her eyes, feeling the war beyond her door rage on. She felt, for the first time... trapped and helpless.
Wyin loathed it.