Delta left the deliriously happy Renny to whip his new performers into shape. She walked past a snoozing Wilhelm and back into the jungle in time to see tiny scampering Pygmy Mushrooms running by with the new popcorn in their hands.
She cleared her throat. The three little creatures froze and looked up at her with wide round eyes. Their masks turned to the side to allow them to better rub the popcorn against their faces.
“Are you lot causing trouble again?” She asked, voice intentionally blank. One squeaked and hopped a few times. The middle one squealed as well. Delta knew while they didn’t have mouths, they were able to sort of toot the air in their caps out compressed spaces to make noises. It was like passing gas but done conversationally.
“And you have no intention of luring poor folk off the path with the popcorn?” She asked as their words translated to her mind.
Be it cute farts or mind-numbing teeth-clicking horror… Delta could hold conversations with any of her monsters at this point.
The Pygmies explained how they wanted to collect the ‘golden balls of deep desire’ for the tribes and share it with their new friend. That raised alarm bells until they described ‘He of golden fibers and fire’.
Delta’s alarm bells turned into whistles of groans at the thought of Quiss interacting with her adorable little devils. These little guys were the biggest troublemakers in her Dungeon - and she had goblins!
But… the fact they were bonding with Quiss showed a remarkable improvement over their previous behavior. Delta guessed it paid to be firm with them at times. She let them go and they vanished into the distant underbrush with more singing of their caps.
How could something so cute cause so much trouble?
Delta honestly wasn’t sure she’d ever make something that would rival their cuteness and their penchant for mischief again.
Mule watched as the foaming murderous giant wolf bared its teeth at him. The Domain it had set up gave it power and minions to control like puppets. It had yet to form proper intelligence but Mule gurgled at it.
It was fluffy! Delta would have liked fluffy. He was picked up and flung about as the Master Wolf tried to rend him blob from blob. Mule waited until he was sure the creature was confused, and then formed two black eyes that blinked right into the wolf’s red eyes.
No, this fluffy was no good. It had too many seeds in it. Another Domain gone wrong. That’s why Dungeons were so much better! Delta would have made a much cooler wolf that was nice. Mule’s orange body shifted and he left the happy piece of himself that Delta had created to be overtaken… protected by his true nature.
Something he hoped to slowly introduce to his Delta pool of Mana.
It was definitely odd to have two ‘selves’ but it was also a new experience. Mule didn't get to feel a lot of those.
The thought faded as a new emotion surged forward. His black beady eyes snapped open and a red slit cut its way down the black orbs.
The eye of a king stared at the beast holding him. His body turned red and grew, breaking the wolf’s fangs with sheer mass as it went.
Danmulecus rose and rose until he was a king once more.
Then he removed the small forest.
A few moments later, Mule chirped as he hopped out of the sizzling wasteland of heat and blackened trees. His shrinking form orange once more. He had a new goal now.
Find a fluffy.
One that was nice.
It was good to have goals!
Delta was glad the Pygmies were the worst of her troublesome creatures besides Wyin. While the tree woman seemed calmer, that bloodlust of hers seemed to bubble to the surface a lot.
She froze as her stores of Mana and DP sharply rose and Nu popped into existence.
Delta gaped at him.
“I didn’t do anything! I only made supernatural popcorn and created the circus of the damned! I’m innocent!” She cried in her defense. Her Mana was pumped into making more random rocks and hanging vines with blossoming flowers nearby to make sure she didn’t get too close to the upper limit.
Mana Maxing sucked.
Nu was turned into a horrid shade of neon pink. He trilled in alarm.
Nu was spinning in panic and Delta didn’t do anything as he deserved it for taunting the System herself.
Nu was reverted to his preferred blue and he deflated, shrinking to a small window as if he had been scolded.
“You’re going to say something wrong to her one day and be forced to speak in rhymes for the rest of your days. Don’t mock or tease the powerful not-god children. They’re nice but they know how to get revenge,” she said.
“Well I did have a younger brother,” she beamed.
Nu’s screen went blank and Delta was about to ask if something was wrong. Her words died as her mind replayed her own words, so innocently spoken.
I have a younger brother. I have a younger brother. Young. Brother. Young. Brother. Brother. I had a brother.
Nu’s screen was right before her face and the light made the darkness at the side of her vision fade a little.
“Nu… I had- have a brother!” She gasped and her Dungeon suddenly felt too cramped. It was as if no matter which way she turned, she saw walls and no way out besides that white barrier at her entrance.
She struggled to breathe before she let her mind Dungeon a little. The detached version of her dungeon powers able to filter the chaos for a moment. She had no idea what had happened. Why was she suddenly remembering… things?!
She moved, not bothering with flying and instead commanded herself to the core room. Her pedestalled orange orb was where she had left it. The sea of orange looked the same until she glimpsed something.
A small mote of white. It seemed to swirl like a snowflake.
Frowning, she turned her Dungeon senses on her core. The sheer complexity of the sight was staggering. It was as if her Dungeon was flowing lines of numbers and perfectly structured motes of orange Mana.
Her Core was a white hole. It exploded out with waves of pulsing orange, a liquid so thick in this room that it made it hard to see her own hand in front of her face. It seeped into the wall where it was siphoned off to the countless processes needing the energy.
Delta’s Core was thousands of interwoven lattices of thin crystal and symbols. Each one pulsing in time to a rhythm, giving the overall core the appearance of something alive. A heart with the folds of the brain.
A shell to hold a being. The white snowflake bounced off a symbol and it seemed to jolt a single symbol on another layer. Delta felt like her head was pounding but she focused on that white mote. It was…
Renny. Her Mime. The mote was that scene he had shared over their bond. The scene of love and endless affection for his father. It had formed a physical aspect in Delta’s core for a moment and was breaking down every second it bounced about. The flakes jolted that lone symbol that looked like a sideways W but the ends were twisted.
She looked to that symbol and under the crackle of orange Mana, there was a faint hint of white, like the sea bed under the ocean. The flickering memories of a sibling rose from those.
Delta tried to grab the symbol or do something but she was utterly unable to affect her own core.
The memory was fading. While she would have the information of her brother, the memory linked to him would be buried once more and Delta couldn’t stop it. It was…
Her mind buzzed and there was a soothing noise, like an echo of a voice on the wind. Delta snapped her head up as her Mana was weaved by someone unseen and the core began to open like a lotus flower.
The world felt very odd at that moment as the complex core was blooming before her eyes. Delta felt peaceful and serene as the being she now knew was Sis manipulated the runes, and the symbol she was after rose like an island to the outer surface of the core. It blazed white and then slowly orange.
The core resealed itself.
The memory was back and… it wasn’t fading! A window emerged at her side.
“I don’t- I… Thank you! How did I do that?” Delta tried to hug the window. Sis had just helped her save her memory!
Nu took over, his blue shade appearing over the orange box.
“I don’t need them. Just having myself back… even slowly, is amazing. Thank you! To both of you!” Delta laughed and Nu looked lost on what to say in return.
“Here, let me show you!” She said with a wide bright smile. She used that weird pushing sensation of her Dungeon powers towards the menu and system.
The flash of a young boy… His features blurry and hard to see, appeared.
“I don’t want carrots so you can have them. You like them,” the boy said, lying through his teeth but trying to play it off as cool. Delta fell to the step leading to her core, laughing and crying. Her head hurt and her chest felt heavy but that lone memory…
Delta would never forget it.
Delta snapped her head up and had to cover her mouth in a burst of delirious giggles. Nu went quiet for a moment.
Delta blinked oddly as her vision went dark and she found herself in a plane of flat darkness.
Up and down had no exact relation in this place. Delta watched as two… things moved ahead.
It was like a spiralling galaxy that turned on an endless axle, the end of the end, the beginning of all. Delta saw potential and destruction- The two shapes abruptly shifted to a small girl and a familiar smirking boy. The pressure on Delta’s mind eased off at the same time. Like the sight she had been looking at… should not have been seen directly.
The boy was Brother. Delta turned to the girl in the white simple cotton dress who was sniffing sadly. That had to be Sis!
“I won at guessing the number. You really have to stop picking 10,” the boy chided. The girl wiped at her eyes.
“It's the first two-digit figure! It’s cute…” she said sadly.
“Well, that means I get to create the next monster,” Bro announced and the blackness below Delta faded out to show the world below. A long beam of energy was surging up to the moon above in several long streams, emerging from the flat world below at several locations.
The two siblings were hovering somewhere between.
“I think a double-headed lion that shoots ice and fire could be awesome! Or maybe a snake with a head on its end instead of a tail… “ Bro rubbed his hands eagerly. He slowed his smile as Sis sniffed again.
He rolled his eyes, looked again, and grunted.
“Actually. I think. A. Rabbit. Would. Be. So. Cool.” he gritted his teeth, force each word out but Sis seemed rather obvious to the falseness and looked up with her little yellow eyes alight with joy.
“Me too! I wanna have a unicorn rabbit!” She pleaded. The name made Bro twitch as if he was tasting something vile.
“Horned Rabbit would be fine, I guess,” he said and they grasped each other’s hands as they began to shape a form.
Delta never got to see the end result as the vision ended.
“Bro is such a big brother,” she smiled and Nu shuddered, shaking off the last of Sis’s power. She must have used him to transmit the vision to Delta.
Her surly friend asked. Delta hummed as she thought about it.
“How’s the Third Floor? Any changes?” She inquired and Nu took a second to answer.
The news was pleasing.
“Let’s go see how the Hidden Jungle Garden is doing!” Delta decided and left her Core, humming and feeling like the world was bright and lovely once more.
Everything was horrible!
Shy-Nina filled another tankard as the deadly boss Sir Fran did his best to out-drink the smoking Cois. The fire goblin had been exploding the fortress room and came in boasting about how he was the true dangerous goblin in the Dungeon.
Fran was nearby and decided he couldn’t let that slide. So, for some reason only known to the goblins, they tried to drink each other under the table.
The problem was that they drank so fast, Shy-Nina had to rush back and forth like a rabbit to fetch the drinks, wash mugs and handle other orders as Lady Fera cooked and handled the other floors.
“Another!” Fran roared, face purple. His cute little pig friend snorted and gave off a massive passing of gas that made the dangerously evil-looking Billy, the ranger goblin, pass out in shock since he was right behind the pig.
Shy-Nina had long learned to use a rag as a mask to pass through the cloud and slammed more Ember Whisky down on the table. It was some concoction using actual ground fire crystal! That stuff was potent enough to kill a human if ingested! They would burn if they didn’t simply die from the poisoning!
She had no idea how Fera made it drinkable or smell of cherries. Honestly, both facts made Shy-Nina more afraid of the female goblin.
Between the forbidden Shroom Pop and a series of drinks that looked so much like failed potions… Shy-Nina hoped this bar wouldn’t get anything more dangerous to serve. It was playing havoc on her nerves.
She ran back and forth and stopped to give a deep sniff and a half-sob at her fate.
The room… went deathly silent.
The next thing she knew, she was in a chair and Fran was looking into her eyes, his purple cheeks at odds with his firm eyes.
“My lady, please forgive us. I had become too wrapped up in our game to see the harm we were doing,” he began and Cois opened his mouth with a smirk before Fran lightly pushed the back of his neck and made him bow hard enough that he bounced his nose off the floor.
“I… apologise. Now let go of me!” The fiery goblin hissed. Fran sighed.
“Making a Lady or fine Sir cry is something Mother would absolutely detest. I am to be better than that. Please, do allow me to cover you for a break. Madam Fera would not protest as you are legally entitled to an hour’s break in your shift,” Fran nodded seriously.
“I get breaks here?” Shy-Nina asked. All the goblins shared a look.
“We have legal rights?” Cois asked in more alarm as if dismayed by the news.
“Feel free to waive your own to continue your right to explode yourself,” Fran said dryly. This seemed to cheer up the fire-loving goblin greatly.
“I’m not sure if I should-” Shy-Nina began but Fran was already behind the bar.
“I have seen Fera do this many times! I am sure a boss of my skill can do this as well,” he began and then grabbed the bar wiper, some cleaning chemical and a bottle of burning shots called ‘Goblin Tears’.
“Surely the more types in one drink the better?” He mused, and the glass he had begun to fill with many types of drinks began hissing like an animal while it filled.
She had a bad feeling about this…
The garden had been busy.
Delta stared in awe at the sheer wall of life. She moved through it as bundles of flowers, plants with fruit and other things all flourished over the Mana vent. A vent that must reach Brother’s stolen eye somehow and leaked to the surface.
Nu offered as he too took in the scene.
“Anything of note?” Delta asked and Nu went quiet for awhile as he sorted through the recent logs. Delta took the time to enjoy the scenery and move about.
She snapped her head at the box with excitement.
“I have a flower named after me?!” She beamed, her mood even brighter. She turned, looking for it despite the fact she had no idea what it was.
Delta froze, looking straight down at the small patch of orange buds that had no flowers growing around them within a foot radius.
“Bad mutations or cool ones like in the comics?” She asked with a small voice.
“Nu!” She said with appall in her voice.
Delta knew her luck was both too bad and too good for it to be ‘harmless’.
“How… harmless?” She pressed.
He told her and Delta felt bad for a moment when she agreed. It was a little mean.
The question of who was the strongest Goblin on average and at base strength had been answered by the time Delta appeared in the bar. Fera threw Fran into the wall with a scowl. She marched over and dragged the terrified boss monster by his foot back to the center of the room.
“You wasted valuable drinks and mixtures! You wasted my personal mix! You created things I had to burn!” She yelled and Fran reached for Bacon for help but the pig was too busy trembling under a table to see his master’s fate.
Delta stared at the chaos as a shell-shocked Nina looked haunted by something she had seen and one side of the room looked like something had violently been burned into it. Trails of a crusty slime coated the stone.
Fera turned to Delta and huffed,
“You want a test subject? Fran just volunteered!” She growled, and the boss shot Delta a pleading look for help.
“Is Fran sure?” Delta asked after a moment. Fera nodded.
“He is. I’m sure he’d be eager to help out as compensation,” she said tightly, as her first floor boss monster nodded in defeat, not wanting to say anything that could draw attention to himself. Delta decided not to get in the middle of goblin politics.
She created some of the Delta Blooms which Fera took great delight in mixing with what little drinks she had left.
The result was a spicy orange drink that fizzed.
“Bottoms up, Fran,” she grinned darkly. Fran, never one to shy away from a challenge, took it and downed in one gulp.
“I didn’t even get a chance to look at it...” Delta said and was worried she about to see her first floor boss explode. Fran smacked his lips a few times.
“I don’t feel anything- uuughaaah,” he hacked suddenly and shuddered violently as his eyes began to bulge in surprise.
He grabbed his head in surprise and Delta was about to try and help him when Fran did exploded. With hair.
His bald head suddenly began to flow with long golden locks that waved and danced until it reached his lower back. The hair was the purest of gold and they moved in a wind that didn’t exist.
“My goblin just mega evolved into a Fabio Goblin!” Delta shrieked. Fran gingerly touched his head and followed the trail down.
“I think getting into my helmet will be a bother now,” he admitted. Fera was grinning like a loon.
“Fran the knight who swoons maidens hearts. Be sure to pluck a few for my cooking!” she cackled and Fran turned to Nina who was staring in wonder.
“I am sorry my own hair is now longer than yours. I mean no insult,” he said apologetically.
Delta needed a drink.
“N-none taken... it’s very pretty...” Nina said in a weird voice.
Delta decided she would just take shots instead.