Nu asked as Delta made a window and began to write with her finger as a pen. Rough squiggles and chicken scratch transformed into elegant victorian era quill type calligraphy with large flourishes and loops so grand that you could drive a car through them. Delta snorted.
“I would love to write like that but let’s be honest,” she chided the window. The text blurred again and changed into simple black text. Delta smiled and turned to Nu.
“Well, the whole thing with Bro happened so fast that it’s just now a ton of questions are coming to me. Like you can hardly blame me, I was kidnapped by a tree and rescued by the world’s oldest annoying sibling!” she complained.
She pointed to the first line.
“Like for example. Did I choose my name or was that some compulsion? Since Alpha, Beta, and Gamma are around that means all four of us went with greek lettering to our numbering. That’s unlikely to be a random thing,” she stated.
Delta hesitated but decided the nagging feeling of never knowing would be worse than just knowing, no matter what the answer was. She could learn to deal if she knew. Delta would never heal her mental trauma if she refused to learn.
Nu was gone before she finished speaking. Delta hovered over her core on its platform and eyed the glowing four inside.
She had latched on to the name for the longest time due to that symbol. It felt so long ago like the beginning of a book that had too many chapters. She distracted herself by adding more questions to the ‘important questions to ask next time kidnapped’ list.
He declared this with almost no sarcasm. Delta made a little wave with her hands to celebrate.
“So not mind control, just us being uncreative and thinking we’re cool,” Delta summed up. Nu shrugged.
Nu asked interested.
The question surprised her but her answer was quick to come.
“Darth Fluffy the destroyer of mankind and deliverer of muffins,” she said easily. Nu merely turned to her list.
Delta stuck her tongue out at him but read off the next one.
“If Bro made monsters, then what are Domains and why do monsters go for dungeons if they’re supposed to be working together?” she mused. Like the Spider Queen.
Damn… Nu was good at this!
“But I’ve only killed one person! I don’t have a lot Spores around,” she reminded.
“Kinda wish we could ask the Spider Queen but I kinda… oh..” Delta blinked and then smacked her head.
“I absorbed her remains and her kids. I should be able to sift through their memories or something,” she said and Nu was quiet.
“So is sitting here being bored. Slap me if I start chanting backwards or grow extra legs!” she beamed.
“Wing it,” Delta answered him and closed her eyes.
Right. She was Delta. She was the air she floated in. She was the ground around her. She was the very light that touched the rocks.
She was the world around her and she was no longer just Delta the human-shaped girl. She was… everything. To go from seeing through two eyes to being a Dungeon aware of every bit of movement and sound was always going to be weird.
But the cool detachment allowed her to focus on her goal. Nu also vanished and seemed to be with her in spirit. A sliver of purpose and distrust. Not towards her, but towards all that wasn’t Delta.
He went with her like a sparrow perched on her shoulder.
His presence brought comfort, despite Delta knowing she didn’t need it in this mindstate.
Delta began to move through her logs. Her human nature making it sorted by time instead of importance or usefulness. It made flipping back easy.
She felt more touches of warmth as she refreshed herself on the previous days events. Fighting, slimes, explosions, Jack—…so much had happened—but she flipped back and found the moment she had… slightly exploded the Spider Queen.
Her form, her soul at least, had been devoured by the Dungeon and refunneled into Queenie who was in Fera’s bar, drinking shroom pop.
Breaking him down was an option but Delta discarded that thought with ease. No, she would have to do with a pale imitation. Queenie was worth ten of the Spider Queen to Delta. She focused on the exact moment the Spider Queen had been devoured. Her dark ugly being that was burning.
Delta weaved her Mana together and did her best to restore what her Dungeon had eaten. It was like building a 3D jigsaw puzzle - with half the pieces cut in half and no picture to guide her.
A shriek of arrogance and awareness came from the puzzle and Delta neatly snapped that particular piece back in half. She wasn’t interested in sparring with the dead queen unless she had no option. No, Delta focused on the part that was shaping up like a web. The Memory cortex of the Queen.
It was an intricate thing and Delta saw it was messy, incomplete. Even with her best attempts to rebuild it, the damage had been great.
Still, like silver beads on the web, powerful memories did cling to it.
Delta was quick to move through them. Most were of the Queen’s eventual evolution paths. From tiny worker to beautiful queen (in her eyes). Strong stuff, but Delta had to work fast before she became a little too detached.
A few memories showed battle with various people, one of them being Ruli… a very young Ruli. She was… adorable as she exploded spiders and cut more in twain. A recent memory revealed a distorted image of the Queen and her army being pressed into submission by a figure with a horrible grin.
He was sucking something from the Queen with a jar.
Delta watched and the Queen roared, holding on to that last bit of darkness. The man walked away with ease.
From the fraying memory, the Queen despaired at the loss of the darkness. But what was left… led her downwards.
The Queen was severely weakened from the man sapping that dark cloud… a cloud of Spores from her. Delta had faced off with that weakened Queen.
Delta returned to herself. Back to her human mind and shape. She blinked slowly.
“That was… confusing,” she blinked.
Delta frowned and crossed her arms.
“Can’t we ask Sis to hold on to one for us or something?” she suggested and Nu was quiet for a while. His screen slowly filled with text.
Valid idea but Delta was thinking quick.
“But what about challenge windows? They appear before people and you even talked through them,” she reminded.
Delta raised one brow and waited for this idea to emerge from Nu’s tricky brain.
“And I have a bunch of them coming to do a mock fight with the Dungeon… I could just invade their personal and physical space to feel for a spore. I’m sure that will go down well,” she replied dryly.
Delta thought about it.
“Nothing earth shaking, but I kinda wanted to know if I was allowed to not work with Alpha and others if they turn out to be bad people. I’ll do my best to put my own issues aside if it saves tons of lives but I hope I have some right for myself to not have to work with them if it comes down to it,” she blew out a sigh.
Nu’s window shook slightly as if chuckling.
Delta hid a smile from Nu’s complaining on her behalf.
She floated to the stairs and hummed.
“Maybe, but if they turn out to be okay… I couldgive them some tips!” she giggled. She was sure she was beginning to grasp this Dungeon thing. After all, she had made it to floor three in her first month. She had tons of rare monsters and a circus!
Did Beta have a circus? Delta doubted it.
She snorted at her own cockyness but decided her little holiday was meant to be fun so she floated back to Wyin’s room with thoughts of how she was doing pretty damn good for ‘a sappy human’.
A memory hit her and Delta paused.
She looked down at the ground with a frown. Delta just remembered she hadn’t apologised for vomiting on Bro’s tunnels.
She hoped he didn’t hold that against her.
Brother was poking the orange patch with a stick.
He hadn’t known what to do with the remnants of Delta’s essence but it seemed to have it’s own ideas as it slowly crawled along the inner paths of his body as if searching for something. Feeling interest, amusement and fondness at the same time, Brother teleported the stain about 34 miles in the direction it was heading. Nothing was important between there and where it had been.
The stain seemed to pause and then carry on its way to an old series of pillars and pulsing images.
On each pillar was a set of very old, incredibly potent, words of power. The verbal equivalentof runes. These simple words would enable an individual to bend existence. Brother had tons of these ‘ruins’ where words of power hummed and pulsed all across the world. Each one had a particular purpose like ‘gravity’ or ‘soil richness’ or ‘poison ivy’. The last one deserved its own spot because people who actually enjoyed sleeping in the wild should be punished.
This particular set was very large. One of Brother’s biggest.
It controlled Monster species balance and creation.
The orange splatter seeped into one of the pillars and began to turn the picture from a dull brown to a brightly glowing orange thing.
Brother stared, his smile growing even wider.
This was going to be fun! Sure, the stain only had enough to convert one style of monster and only a tiny fraction of it, but still.
Brother was loving it.
On a grassy plain far above and under the gentle rays of the sun. A batch of slimes bubbled into existance out of pure Mana to start doing what slimes did best. Eat.
Except the smallest one of the new batches was still. It looked to the sun and its small round body and black button-eyes blinked a few times.
“Pu…” it yawned as its bright orange body glittered like a jewel.
This little slime didn’t feel hunger as strongly as it felt something else.
“I’m sure it’s no big deal,” Delta explained to Wyin.
“Of course, my sweet creator, no big deal… but this boy, this brother, seems like a cur and you need not worry about him. But I am vastly interested in this ‘upgrade’ you mentioned. I do love being slightly… immune to things,” she smiled wickedly and Delta shot her a look which made Wyin shrug.
“I’m a tree. I’d like to not be set on fire,” she said with no shame. A fair point, Delta had to imagine.
“How would you put it? I’m not inflammable?” Wyin tried, and the sheer pain this attempt at a joke was clear in her voice. Delta stared.
Inflam… oh! OH!
Delta’s smile went wide and she felt laughter rising in her chest like a fizzy burp.
“That’s a good one!” she said and Nu looked between them with disgust.
“It’s a play on the word ‘infallible’ where-” she began and Delta waved her hands with a slight cry.
“No! You can’t explain it or it isn’t funny anymore!” she protested. Wyin frowned and Delta did some quick thinking.
“Imagine the sheer torture by not sharing the joke!” she encouraged and Wyin perked up like Delta has given her a gift.
“Oh yes… I can imagine that. Very well, I shall practise more cutting remarks and to add salt to the wound… puns. I shall suffer them so my foes will die from them!” she cackled and her branches all erupted into thorns.
She saw Delta’s flat expression and cleared her throat.
“I mean, how they will groan in traumatic pain for years to come… alive. Un-maimed,” she said weakly.
Delta guessed that was the best she was getting for a while. Maybe after a few real fights, Wyin would cool off and take up knitting sheaths for swords or quivers for arrows or something.
Delta could only hope.
“Let me talk to Maestro first since this affects both of you,” she said.
The few mushrooms scattered about the room twitched.
“I was listening to this lovely gaggle of gals. I, the amazing and fabulous Maestro, agree to the upgrade. A chance for more of my fans to see my glorious self in person! Honey, put the pen away, I already signed the ‘yes’ box with a kiss!”
“Excellent, the mushroom and the tree are in agreement. We want to be upgraded,” Wyin gestured with one lone willowy branch as if to encourage Delta to hurry. Rolling her eyes at her needy houseplants, she brought up the menu and purchased the hefty 200 DP upgrade for them.
The Dungeon was quiet for a moment, then Wyin’s bark began to crack and deep light flowed from within
The mushrooms were pulsing and shaking as Maestro’s sing-song voice began to tremble with surprise.
“By the sweet mercy of Momma! This feeeeels intense!” he said, voice shaking as if he was vibrating.
Wyin exploded, like a caterpillar escaping its cocoon using a heavy dose of C4 and dynamite. Wood chips were sent flying and a storm of leaves made Wyin into the eye of the storm.
Before, her brownish bark looked a shade lighter but now it had tiny pulsing green veins that were slowly turning orange. Her face, which had only been shaped somewhat like a woman, was now perfectly detailed, as if it were sculpted by an artist. Her lips pursed as ivy and thin moss made waves of hair that cascaded down to the tree’s navel, which even had a new belly button.
She stretched, feeling out out her new form, and Delta covered her eyes.
“Wyin, you’re really detailed all the way down!” she yelled, face going red. Wyin’s legs still merged and fused into the roots of the tree, but her body–which looked smooth yet natural, with leaves and mushroom caps as decorative accessories–as her arms still split into dozens of branches.
“Hm… yes I see that I have rather supple thighs now!” Wyin said pleased.
That was not what was concerning Delta.
She peeked to see Wyin shaking her head out as flower buds grew in the vines and exploded into bloom with vivid red and white blossoms. As if the flowers had been stained with red.
“I’m just teasing… see?” Wyin’s soft purr of a voice tempted Delta to look once more and she sighed with relief as the tree now had a thin veil of leaves that acted like a thin cloak or towel.
Her shoulders were bare and the attempt at decency didn’t seem to be a very good one, as when Wyin moved the leaves parted to tease a show at any given time.
Still, Delta respected her monster’s choices in the long run. If Wyin wanted to be… natural in her own time, it was only fair to respect that. But if she was going to be fighting young men and women then she had to respect them too!
“Do you want to taste my sweet fruit? It’s bursting with juice and one nibble could make it leak,” Wyin offered, leaning down. Delta gaped and the tree blinked confused before her words seemed to catch up to her.
Instead of shame or embarrassment, Wyin seemed amused.
Her arms lowered to show an orange peach-like fruit. Delta eyed them.
“Why are they peaches-” she began and Wyin cut her off.
“Because they look like butts and I like making you flustered,” she grinned. Delta pointed a finger at her with a scandalized look.
“I saved you from Seth and his wandering… words! To think you were just as bad!” she accused. Wyin merely hid her smile behind a branch.
“I am naught but a childe of Delta. I am innocent but delicious. Bite me gently, sir or madam,” she cooed and Delta covered her ears.
“Lalalala, I can’t hear this!” she yelled. Wyin’s clear, bell-like tinkling, laugh sounded out. It wasn’t a cackle or even a mean sound but something rare.
General amusement and affection.
“You are too sweet for this world, how I worry for you,” Wyin smiled.
“I didn’t sign up for a seductive murder tree…” Delta grumbled. Wyin leaned down and wrapped her branches around the space where Delta stood.
“We can’t often choose the people we consider family but we simply have to do our best, mhm? Now I suggest you go check on the drama king. He is being far too quiet for my liking,” Wyin suggested.
Delta had to agree but she narrowed her eyes at Wyin.
“We could have kids coming to the Dungeon and one kinda sweet girl. You are to be on your best behavior!” she commanded. Wyin blinked three times.
“Oh lovely creator. The Wyin tree is about love, didn’t you know?” she giggled and stretched to her full length. Delta was beginning to think this upgrade had given Wyin something to make her feel good.
Either that or Wyin was getting her torture jollies from somewhere Delta had no idea about.
Yggy, as Beta often called him, was feeling ragged. Not only had his very soul been singed so bad that it hurt to be… hurt to think. And his attempts to track that ‘Delta’ back to her source had been met with…
Something… he couldn’t quite remember. He had fleeting images of a round sphere of screens. Of a Girl… and her furious expression.
Then the parts he had made for invading areas had simply ceased to be. Gone and lost. His memory somehow also cut loose as if the girl wanted no stone unturned in her attack.
Yggy was furious as he retreated to lick his wounds as it were.
But what was worse was the damn feeling of… others. He was the World Tree! There was power in that title for Yggy to play with but he sensed two others now.
Two new potential World Beings. So tiny… so pathetic, but still growing.
And one of them was semi-aware of him! It radiated mockery and cruelty at his fury. It seemed to grow and sigh as his own rage built. He was the World Tree and this tick had taken his power! In the mockery came a name that made Yggy feel both cold and curious.
That was… not possible.
But there was another that just seemed content to sing and damned if most of the tunes weren’t stuck in Yggy’s head.
He sulked… healed… and plotted.
Delta eyed Wyin as her mood only seemed to get brighter.
Odd tree… very odd.
Delta decided to get to the root of her other issue and left Wyin to start her own branch of bad jokes. All this excitement was gonna get to Wyin eventually, she was going to need to lay down soon for… rest.
Delta had to stop in the middle of the jungle as fits of giggles tried to escape her.
Yes. I can see it now. You truly were meant to be the deadliest dungeon that ever existed.
Nu’s words were as sweet as ever and Delta couldn’t help but flutter her eyelashes at him.
“I Nu you’d understand,” she grinned.
Nu’s glare was powerful despite having no eyes. Delta took off flying, her laughter making the jungle come to life with echoes of joy and noise.
She couldn’t wait to see Maestro.