Delta desperately wanted to watch Seth, to watch her work be enjoyed and admired but she managed to pull herself away as the man settled down to drink water with Giant. The large frog was actually very sweet when he deemed Seth as a guest and not a challenger.
It was pure ego to stalk each and every visitor. That, and maybe a little bit loneliness in the weirdest terms.
Delta had many friends now. Her monsters, Nu, and even Sis! But there was something about people who chose to come to Delta that made those kinds of relationships more surprising and a little more valued at times.
The love of one’s family and the company of those that chose to befriend Delta.
Floating down to the third floor, she let her mind expand, a slow awareness of all that was within her space. She felt her mind wash over the map room with the model of the world and its craggy edges, then seep to the library and its guardian in wait, the creature content to be as unaware as possible.
She swept past Gnashly snoozing in the troll cave and Jeb stirring more Troll Stew. The horrid mixture broken down into several strands of Mana, the multi-levelled bonds that made the thickness of the stew… the shimmering tiny threads that formed the vapor and scent… the simmering Mana that was forming the taste.
There was pure creation in Jeb’s cooking pot and only by allowing her Dungeon Senses to take over her human ones could Delta appreciate what was happening.
Jeb didn’t get ingredients or harvest food, he stirred his pot, concentrated, and the Dungeon made the Stew like magic. Countless complicated mathematical Mana equations magic but still… wonderful when simply observed.
It was so faithful to what Jeb thought Troll Stew should be that it was actually vile to anyone who tasted it. Jeb himself was a walking light show of shifting orange Mana. His arm was slightly brighter than the rest as it was still healing.
Delta floated there, comparing Jeb to what she saw in Cois.
Cois was a wild inner energy, energetic and constantly reshaping itself as if to remind Delta of the fact Goblins had sheer potential for anything if given the tool.
Jeb was slower… sturdier. His Mana was like growing moss that promised regrowth no matter the damage unless it was from fire.
The Gargoyles, while all different shapes, had the same inner ethereal Mana that showed their stone forms were not their whole being. The Mana sometimes floated in and out of the gargoyles’ bodies as if tasting the air.
It showed how even if their eyes and other senses were of stone, their spirits were far more aware of their surroundings than one could guess.
Jack, on the other hand, was hidden mostly from Delta’s senses. Perhaps due to the nature of being a Contractee. The tiny flickering of Orange Mana barely shone within Jack but what little sparks Delta saw revealed a deep fissure of many facets. Like a cracked diamond.
Beautiful, but a little sad.
Delta floated through the floor, carefully observing the Feast Hall, Fera’s various bubbling dishes that couldn’t be prepared in a tiny kitchen on the upper floor, and soon arrived in the Garden of Choice.
She didn’t use a Menu in this mindstate. Delta looked at the room and bubbles of potential rose from the sea of Mana. Where things had been chosen by Sis to be worthy of Delta’s attention.
The Giant Nu statue had various ideas. Delta tilted her head and saw how, with a staggering amount of Dungeon Points, it could come to life. At the thought of her rare currency, the world shifted to reveal something Delta had never really given proper thought to.
Dungeon Points… Delta held out her hand and a tiny crystal with a shimmering rainbow surface floated over one of her fingers. It was barely bigger than a teardrop.
A single Dungeon Point. It was a crude term for what Delta could now see was something deeply precious. It wasn’t a gemstone. This crystalline form was only how Delta’s still learning mind could best see it.
The true nature of the energy was far harder to grasp but Delta decided to tackle that another day.
DP was gained when the Dungeon broke down an object or… person. The more unusual or powerful the item, the more DP Delta gained. Her slightly detached mind turned the gem over and saw the lights bend and dance to unheard music.
It was not one type of Mana or even a few. It was almost like the Dungeon condensed the history of the item itself into a single point. Every experience, every second of existence.
The pain, the love, the growth. It was all squeezed down into a single point.
Potential in the purest form. It was siphoned from the item and fed into the System where this energy let Delta make child's play of the world’s rules. It was so easy now that Delta could see that the very thing she used to make a jungle from nothing — life and an ecosystem from nothing — was fueled by…
Creation and Potential itself.
But it was also in this moment Delta saw why people gave the most DP of all, short of legendary items no doubt.
Delta detached herself more.
She peered into the memory of the System. The machine and operation run by a being with nothing much else to do, so each part that Delta could even comprehend was neat, tidy… sterile, She tugged and lured the moment when the farmer died in her Dungeon. So long ago but so very recently.
The man died, the echoes of regret and pain reached Delta in this mindset even now. It felt painful and sore but human. Delta used it as a lifeline, knowing which way to go when she was done.
Ready to go home once she was done.
The Farmer died and his being was absorbed. His Mana was taken. Mostly a bit green and brown with hints of red. His history of a hard-working man of the earth but with passion for his loved ones.
“My name is Se-”
“I’ll do what I want, you old bast-”
“I loved you… you… you slept with hi-”
“His name will be Dil, like my grandpa!”
“My name is Se-”
The words exploded out the Mana patterns. Like echoes of the man’s memories. Delta let them wash over her, like a burning river. She didn’t look away. Delta didn’t dare look away.
From between the grasp of the Mana flowing from his body, between the love and the pain, between the regret and the pride, a single mote of pure blackness broke free.
The Dungeon System consumed it and broke it down… this wasn’t simply a creation of the Brother recycled by the Sister in a dance of the Sun and Moon. The System told Delta this.
This was a brand new resource. Claimed in the act of consuming Man.
Delta watched the scene over and over.
Why did people have this darkness in them? Why did the System explode with so much DP from devouring it?
“My name is Selvil. I’m just a farmer.”
Delta gasped and slammed back into herself. Stars and flashing lights blurred her eyes. She knelt in the Garden and tried to remember to breathe. It took time as if her mind was wading through sludge and muck… struggling to remember why she had to breathe.
Delta looked up at the box of Nu. His words were softer than normal.
“I got… lost,” she said without thinking.
The sarcasm helped ground Delta and she managed to stand with a weak smile.
“I dunno, better my head than my butt,” she teased. Nu turned as if offended.
Nu actually shivered. Delta had no doubt it was due to the memory of himself having some of those aforementioned fingers and toes.
She smiled, feeling better already. Still, the memory of the floating black mote of… not-Mana haunted her.
“Can you ask Sis about the black spores in people?” she asked, the word ‘spores’ slipping out as if no other word was appropriate. Nu paused.
“You report to her? Are they, like, essays to her? Do you report on how you learn valuable lessons every day?” Delta grinned. Nu went quiet. Delta pretended to dab a quill and write in the air.
“Dear… Princess… Sislestia…” she announced aloud and Nu twitched; and at the bottom of his box a leg formed—pants leg, boot, and all—and kicked her in the shin. Delta yelped, hopping on one foot at the contact.
“That hurt!” she whined. Nu huffed and vanished.
“Come back! Clearly you just write sarcastic comments and underline how I mess things up!” she called but she was alone.
“Our Dungeon is run by those two,” Dragon announced from above. Delta looked up to see Dragon and Dozer watching with amusement.
“Kinda explains a lot,” Dozer nodded.
“Haha, no comments from the peanut gallery,” Delta waved them off with a huff. Both goyles landed next to her.
“Oh don’t be like that! We love it!” Dozer said. Dragon leaned in.
“Like watching a show about dysfunctional couples on the magic box of TV! By the way, when can we get a TV?” Dragon asked in a whisper. Dozer shook his head.
“Siblings, they give me more that vibe,” he said and Dragon’s maw dropped open.
“That chemistry?! No way! That’s like angry rivals who hate each other right up until they kiss!” Dragon argued.
Delta glared up at them but they didn’t seem to notice.
“Nu is pure protective, that’s deep sibling fluff!” Dozer stated. Dragon threw his claws up.
“That’s the knight-and-princess dynamic!” Dragon said with exasperation. Delta raised two hands and tried a new idea.
She gathered more Mana to her fists and slammed both down on both gargoyles’ heads. The two hit the ground with a hard thump. Confused, they looked up at Delta who puffed her cheeks out, still blushing as she glared.
“You both get no booze from Fera,” she announced and the order pinged Fera two floors up like an arrow. Dozer and Dragon looked like Delta had gutted them.
“Wait! No! You’re really an unlovable spinster!” Dragon wailed and tried to hold on to her leg. Dozer ran, as fast as his wings could flap, as Delta turned, eyes blazing orange and hair moving in an unseen wind.
Nu, the ever emotionally supportive friend, stated a while later as her third-floor monsters gathered to charge another door.
“Nu… I will hurt you,” Delta warned. Dragon twitched.
Delta ignored him. The short trip into Jeb’s cooking pot, courtesy of chanting Pygmies, had given the gargoyle a phobia of tiny things with spears and masks.
Delta eyed the next door. Doctor reported with some snooping that there was a large amount of… things moving behind this door.
It was the laboratory according to Jack. His exact words, when Delta asked for advice, was as followed:
“Burn it. Burn it all to the fucking ground,” Jack hissed. Everyone stared at him. He met each and every one of their eyes. Even Nu’s, which was impressive since he generally didn’t have them.
“The things they made me drink… the things they made others inject? It was a real sick man’s dreamland. It was like they were looking for the best way to simply make people want to die before they melted,” Jack winced in memory.
Delta turned to the simplistic black wood door and she… was really… beginning to dislike these people.
“Let’s burn some nerds,” she said and Vanguard kicked the door down so hard it flew off the hinges and smashed a goopy puddle of black slime and chicken bones.
“No fire… but Jeb ready to smash more moldy chickens!” Jeb announced proudly as he crawled through the door and almost caused a roadblock.
That was a bad omen. Delta just knew it.
Seth enjoyed the jungle. It was nice and lacked a lot of things that made most jungles a little...bothersome.
There were no bloodsucking flies, bloodsucking frogs, bloodsucking trees, bloodsucking rocks, or bloodsucking leeches.
The last one was more forgivable than the rest but Seth did not enjoy the Crimson Jungle by any means. The gathering of Blood Mages giving lectures there was very informative, though. Seth still had the buttons they handed out with their group slogan!
‘No bad blood between friends!’
Lovely people. Really, Seth particular enjoyed their Blood massage therapies. Pricey but good.
Delta’s Jungle was like the blood mages without the death jungle on the way. He stared at an actual river of slow-moving gold. The moat of swirling honey surrounded high rising stone pillars where dark clouds swarmed and worked.
The moat was broken into several tiny pools where the largest bees Seth had ever seen used their stingers and nimble legs to widen the pool. The odd thing was that in each of the pools, the honey looked a little different than the main honey river.
Wandering near one, the bees moved away but they did watch him. Seth bent down and stuck his finger into the reddish honey and tasted it. He blinked at the rich texture and the feeling of heat rising from up from the pits of his stomach.
“They’ve been busy bees! Makes lots of honey from different jungle flowers. Best not to take too much without asking! It’s not nice beehavior!” Inchy squawked.
Renny the Mime looked up and with one hand, reached up and petted the nearest bee. It was a little small compared to the others, but it buzzed happily and began headbutting Renny’s hand over and over with it’s stinger actually moving side to side...
Dear Gods above and to the side… that was adorable.
“This honey is very Mana rich. Does Delta let all things in her Dungeon become Mana enchanted?” Seth asked with excitement. He watched three Bees dive, splashing honey onto themselves, one from each pool, before they flew softly around the biggest spiral, smearing the many flavors of honey on the rock. The many smells made Seth’s stomach rumble.
Renny looked at him, the feeling of amusement coming off his frame.
“Renny is right. Mama Delta doesn’t let or deny anything. Mama is just happy we do our thing!” Inchy said with a tiny warm voice rather than his obnoxious one Seth had come to enjoy.
“Aren’t you all worried that some monster might try to use that? To grow and become too strong for anyone to stop? Delta seems like she would hesitate to end anything she created. Some monster might abuse that,” Seth asked as he bent to examine a blue-hued honey pool that made the air smell minty.
The silence was only noticeable after a few seconds.
Not just from Inchy or Renny (not that the Mime made noise unless he wanted) but every bee... every bird song... and the very jungle itself had gone silent.
Inchy spoke and the jungle seemed to back him up in support of various noises.
“No one who is a child of Delta would ever harm her. If such a thing would come into our home?” Inchy ruffled its feathers.
Renny flexed and a nearby boulder cracked with a single hand grip done by the Mime.
“It will be punished. We don’t hate people or anything. Hate isn’t a thing we have,” Inchy landed on Seth’s head.
“But we’d hate this monster you speak of. Someone who would harm Delta by playing with her love... will not be welcome,” Inchy said calmly.
The lack of puns was making Seth sweat just a bit. He was vastly outnumbered by Delta’s monsters and there were a lot of stingers.
But... he petted the bird. His interest just peaked more.
“I’d like to meet your mother, she seems like the kind of lady who would leave a lasting mark on my life,” he grinned and the humor didn’t seem to fly as well as he hoped because Inchy lowered his head down and stared into his eyes upside down.
“Perverts are pervertented from meeting Mama,” he declared and pecked Seth’s forehead once.
“I am a charmer! A lover of people! Not a plain pervert!” he protested and Inchy pecked him again.
“Pervert protests too much! Seth the Perv! Seth the Perv!” Inchy sang.
Seth didn’t like the ways the bees were buzzing to each other... like a giant chain of spreading gossip.
That name... was going to spread.
Well... Seth had been called worse. Renny helped him to his feet and then bowed to the spire. Seth followed him on instinct but was confused until a bee quite unlike the others appeared from the hive above.
The golden crown was sort of eye-catching.
The frame was powerful and her wings were like pieces of glass in motion. The sheer aura she gave off commanded respect and Seth’s attention.
Her stinger was curved like a dagger and glowed orange.
She landed in an almost human pose on two legs and folded her wings in like a shimmering coat. Her face had features similar to her kids but more angular, and the eyes were more sharp in shape. Her antennae ended in little puff balls.
She looked down at them and the royal demeanor that showed nothing but faint interest made Seth put this Queen on a solid 8 out of 10 for Queens.
Amazing entrance, unique style of power and position... and damn curvy for a bee.
Seth made sure to loosen his ponytail a bit and put on his best smile. He was a bit of an old hand at charming Queens and Kings.
Sometimes at the same time.
Delta’s Dungeon was simply... amazing.
Bob gurgled as Quiss petted the giant hell worm.
“I have the feeling that I left Seth alone for too long,” he sighed. Rale burped and passed the flask to Bob who opened his mouth and let the frog pour the booze into its mouth.
Quiss was resting his eyes on the sand next to them.
Sure, their meeting had been a bit... explosive... but Bob turned out to be a good guy for a worm.
“He’s not iney the rhiver,” Rale said seriously, slurring like a champ. Nearby, two crabs were building a sandcastle. One of them wobbled and face-planted into the spire and it collapsed on top of the other.
For two assholes... the crabs were good at making sand castles. Even while being drunk.
He sighed and pushed away from the happy haze he was in.
“I need to find my friend. He’s prone to sleeping or making best friends with, anything and anyone. Being the middle child of 15 kids kinda gave him needy habits,” Quiss mused. Bob whined and Quiss leaned in and butted his head on the nice looking glowy body of Bob.
“Hey... I’ll be back. It’s my job as a PeaceKeeper to PK assholes who give the dungeon shit. I’ll bring you a ball or something,” Quiss promised. Bob slowly sank back into his pool like a metal chain being let go.
He stood and something rustled nearby. Rale looked over and frowned heavily.
“What are they up to?” he mumbled. Quiss was having bad flashbacks to needle darts and screaming.
From the bush, came three tiny little mushrooms in leafy skirts and big goofy wooden masks. They barely came up to Quiss’ knee at best.
“I’m scared, they’re not shooting first,” Rale said quietly.
“Do we run?” Quiss hissed. Rale shook his head with enough energy to make his face wrinkle.
“NO! They’ll get excited,” he warned.
From behind the three came a new figure.
A slow moving figure in robes and holding a tiny mushroom capped staff. This Pygmy Mushroom had more of a... unique soul to it.
“Oh it's one of the Uniques,” Rale bent down and peered as if this was a rare sight he didn’t get to see often.
Uniques... more than one. Urgh, the little demons were evolving. The Priest pygmy - for it was giving off that weirdly holy aura that the faithful developed - chittered at Quiss.
“...I object to that claim?” he guessed. Often, he got more complaints than compliments so the odds were in his favour.
“They’ve come to bargain. The teachings of Delta have… oh wow... Delta got mad at you all?” Rale said in surprise as the Priest chittered and chirped.
“I’ll share but it’s mine,” Quiss hugged his flask; months of inscribing space and storage sigils let him hoard enough for days like this.
The little priest shook its head and pointed at Quiss and then did some off pose with both its hands held up like it was holding something.
“They want your golden wires. I think they mean hair,” Rale translated. Quiss touched his beard and hair.
“Mage hair is very private, you can’t just take it!” he protested. Rale blinked.
“Can other mages use it to harm you?” he asked in shock. Quiss snorted.
“No, but hair growing spells are complicated and potions take months to make. Every time a mage loses hair it comes back naturally one shade lighter until you’re grey at the age of 15 or 25!” Quiss waved his hands in annoyance.
“Having hair sounds like a pain,” Rale admitted.
Quiss eyed his smooth greenish skin.
“May your warts be forever off-color!” he grumbled. He turned back to the waiting demons.
“Why should I give you my hair?” he asked. The priest twirled its staff and whispered something. Rale gasped.
“They’re offering to show you the secret tunnels that could potentially let you bypass Wy-” Rale began but Quiss snorted.
“Do you think I need such a handicap? If that’s all-” he began to turn before more chittering came.
“-and direct access to all you can eat buffet of the third floor and they can get you they so you don't have to talk to anyone!” Rale added.
Quiss reached up blank face and pulled out a full of hair.
“Lead me to the abyss, demons,” he commanded.
The Pygmies began to dance in a circle and word began to travel back to the village. The Golden one gave many golden wires this day.
They would have to find more things to trade for even more!