Billy had run off when they had all turned their back to see the fabulous loot of Nu’s challenge. Delta stared in complete horror at the rewards. She could just bloody hear that menu cackling.
“Look at the cool red sweater tops!” Kemy gushed as she held hers out, admiring the spiderweaved tops dyed with various flowers. Deo had his on already. The vaguely orange Delta symbol stitched into the front on the breast like some badge of honor only made it worse.
“I’ll save mine for when I’m feeling like black is too popular,” Amenster said casually. Mushy offered to carry it to prevent the lad from being burdened. Poppy, now fully human and looking peaceful, hugged hers as some emotional drain let her just enjoy the moment.
Grim eyed his.
“I feel like a target for wearing this,” he mumbled.
“At least none of them got a purple body suit, empathic powers and no piloting skills…” Delta mumbled. Then she perked up as she remembered something else.
“If Grim hits puberty before he leaves then my Dungeon will have grown a beard and I’ve made it!” She fist pumped the air.
As annoyed as she was at the obvious redshirt jokes, to be fair, Nu had weaved some subtle spider material into the top. It wasn’t going to block arrows but it was better than any average clothing.
Deo waved his tusk sword with a flourish (having it catch somehow,(catch in/on what?) before he managed to pull it out) and they moved on to a room that Delta hadn’t actually seen in proper action so far in her career as a Dungeon. The Fort Room. A tremor ran through her entire Dungeon. Delta frowned as it quickly subsided. It wasn’t coming from below or inside… the tremor hit her from the side. Odd, that had shaken the land around her.
Did Durence get earthquakes? Nothing else seemed to happen so she watched the Goblin Fort meet their intrepid challenges!
Holly Dabberghast’s eyes were as black as the Blackthorn Trees, their vengeance howling inside her being. The cataclysm of unbound human gluttony that destroyed her home, her purpose, stood before her in all its baleful glory. Holly stabbed at the air and a massive maw of bound wood and roots emerged from the ground, soaring into the sky with the bitch in its jaw.
The corpse of the Blackthorn forest, her dead home, had been woven into a creature of destruction; the Rotting Dragon of Thorns. This was Holly’s gift to the human known as Perhal. The foot fungus of a swamp troll grunted as she barely managed to keep the jaws from ripping her to meaty chunks. Holly did her best to push them shut.
However, no normal person could do what Perhal the World Eater did. Holly’s dragon cracked and her foe exploded out the opening, skin red and roaring mouth elongating to inhuman proportions, racing for Holly’s throat. Perhal’s gleaming white eyes contrasting Holly’s cold and abyssal black ones.
Holly roared in equal measure and her body shifted. Her body, with all its curves and heft, was still the fine-tuned weapon she had made it into. Her fist struck Perhal’s jaw and the woman was sent crashing across the clearing, leaving deep trenches in the earth. Holly leapt onto her Dragon as it raced pastbut Perhal was already standing upright as she inhaled. The air around her was suddenly, violently, sucked into that gaping maw. With an explosion of blood and flesh wings erupted from Holly's back. Deftly, Holly used the sudden surging torrents of air to dart forward, closing with the fiend before it could release its attack.
The destructive sphere of pure pressure ripped through her dragon, making it explode. From the scattered carcass it started reforming, growing from bones weaved into the wood. The defiled and angry bones of her family, their wrath providing Holly all the power she needed. Her dragon crashed down, fully healed before the attack even completed. The ball of compressed air would have crashed into Durence but a barrier made up of seven shifting layers struggled for a moment before dispersing the attack.
Only seven… Holly was hoping it might have been closer to ten by now, but Delta was doing her best.
Holly pointed her staff and two more wooden dragon heads emerged from the ground. Perhal grinned at the sight. Holly swore to herself shewould soon make that smile turn to a scream.
“Pretty sure your sister managed five,” Perhal called conversationally. Holly’s blood turned to ice.
“Then again, that’s why she was sent to fight me while little Holly was sent to run? Makes sense,” Perhal mused.
Holly rushed in, intent on crushing her throat with her own two hands. Perhal moved, sucking in ambient forces, making her go from merely fast to a blur.
Holly saw the sky and her head smashed into the ground the next moment. Perhal leered down, mouth a tear in space. Her dragons rushed in and Perhal leapt back to avoid them, giving Holly some time to get her feet under her.
“I don’t think you’re going to be as fun to eat as Mistle. That sister of yours was the best thing in years,” Perhal sighed. Holly couldn’t hide her cry of anguish as she tried to focus her next attack.
Something smashed into Perhal’s face and she screamed. The knight stumbled back as her face began to dissolve.
“Don’t… you dare make my Holly cry,” a cold voice rang out. Perhal spun, her melting face struggling to reform as another flask hit the ground below her and screaming smoke boiled Perhal’s skin.
Holly saw her husband walking casually towards them. She felt fear and panic, but then she noticed something else. Her love’s skin was golden.
He… he had drunken the potion… for her?
“Wh…who do you think you are?” Perhal’s voice was not amused anymore.
“Just a potion maker. But I’m also Holly’s husband and I tend not to get involved when my wife has a goal. I love her independence, her wildness, but I won’t stand by while you dare attack her in a way she can’t defend herself against. I am Kota,” the man said calmly.
Perhal’s face went ashen.
“You… are forbidden. You are not allowed to mess in affairs here or anywhere on this world!” Perhal screeched.
“Kota usually behaves, but what can I say? My love does tend to surprise me with bouts of passion and nights of wild madness,” Holly chuckled as she stood to her full height. Her love did really behave when he wanted.
Their children did get their mischief from one of them.
Holly Dabberghast, the cursed druid or Kota Dabberghast, the man who used a minor god as an ingredient for a potion?
Holly just could never tell.
Kota clenched his fist and divine light engulfed Perhal and the area around Durence flashed white.
Mila turned her magazine and dog-eared a page with a new type of scope made for bows. It had dragon glass and some auto-aim enchantment on it.
She was getting old. Having a bow do all the work wasn’t that bad, right? There was a flash as Kota’s power exploded, briefly lighting the night. Mila sipped her tea calmly, not looking up as the air howled past violently, making a mess. Well, there went the peace. They could expect the fallen crusaders of Hoisk now. Those bloodthirsty meatheads would want Kota’s head for revenge. She wished them luck. Most of them wrote poetry to their dead god and it read horribly, like something Ruli had written when she was twelve.
The couple walked past her, making out passionately, as one glowed with godly aura and the other of dark bloody nature.
“Get a room, or a cave… or a godly plane,” Mila griped. She did glance off into the distance where a skeleton whimpered as flesh regrew and hatred bubbled.
Well, Perhal was alive. Shame about that. Despite the fact Mila had asked they hadn’t killed any knights yet.
Mila turned and the runt that the knights had brought with them was staring.
“What?” Mila snapped. The boy jumped and he looked so shell-shocked that Mila did feel a little bad. Damn kids. While Mila wouldn’t say she wanted to be a grandmother, since the idea of Ruli spawning was enough to give Mila wrinkles, some instinct that Mila failed to smother wanted to give the brat candy or something.
“How do you all not kill each other?” He whispered. Mila thought about that.
“Magical pacts, deals, promises, blackmail, threats, and alcohol. Instead we just make kids, or get apprentices and make them fight. Less property damage.” Mila grunted.
Insurance claims were a curse no one wanted to draw upon themselves.
The boy just wandered off, looking too scared to ask more questions.
Mila twitched and , with impeccable aim, tossed a piece of hard candy into his pocket, without him noticing. Mila quickly went back to her ‘Arrows for all Occasions’ magazine and went over the bows that could turn into different weapons.
Some of the things were silly, but she couldn’t deny that a bow that was also a scythe that was also a stick to whack youngsters with was somewhat appealing…
The price was a bit grim, however.
Vas was flapping his too long red sleeves as he enjoyed the gift immensely. He had no idea what was going on, but ever since he had stepped foot into the Dungeon, he felt… odd. Was that the word? Odd? Maybe not. Perhaps… strange?
Strange was better. The air seemed to make his sculpted flesh quiver and the inner workings of his golemness were working like he had feasted on pure coffee beans. Magic coffee beans grown by stressed druids on seasonal deadlines.
He spun slightly and wacked Grimnoire in the face by accident. The sound made Vas giggle and he swooshed and swayed.
Sounds! Vas was so alive and he could prove it.
“I think, therefore I pot!” He announced. He got some odd looks but everyone’s attention was drawn by the lone goblin standing near the edge of the wooden fort.
“Dirty surface breathers, I, the powerful and mighty Cois, welcome you to your death!” The goblin cackled before a peaceful goblin whispered something to him.
“…Death isn’t PG- what?! Fine… welcome to your vaguely implied destruction!” The goblin corrected himself.
“We vaguely take insult to that comment!” Amenster shouted.
“Don’t yell over my speech!” Cois the goblin warned.
“Or… what?” Poppy asked with a small smile. Cois hefted something and threw it, a shoe of some kind. Vas watched the flying object fly and turn, almost hitting Grim before he ducked. Vas picked it up and decided he would keep it.
“You get a boot to the head!” Cois rumbled. The boot was made nicely and even had some sticky spider web to pull the sides tight and snug as it stuck to some leafy pad on the boot itself.
“WHY ARE YOU GIVING US FREE BOOTS?” Deo asked confused.
“Because we’re not allowed to shoot you in the face with fire arrows or explosive bombs because life is unfair!” Cois roared and threw another boot.
“Ah, is that the best you have?” Grim smirked. The goblins vanished and Vas watched as Grim’s smirk also vanished when boots just started to fly over the walls.
“The best? You don’t deserve the mighty Cois’ best! I must be content with burning you with my insults! Undeveloped adults! Nosy nose snot noses! Your curvy parent was a rodent and your hairy parent stinks of Trollberries!” Cois roared and the boots ignited into puffy smoke projectiles. A stuffed pig made of pillows and stinking mushrooms came down next.
“This pig farts in your direction!” Then that was followed by stools from the bar, and Vas stared in wonder as the goblins rolled,down the hill, a familiar sight.
“Isn’t that the giant clam-” Vas pointed out helpfully as Grim shrieked and dove for cover. The clam angled itself and went over a slight bump and flew through the air, landing like a spinning coin on the rim of the slightly bigger well to the side of the room. The clam dropped and there was splashing below.
After the clam the goblins went quiet. Kemy went forward.
“I’d like to use my pass to move on from the room,” she called up, waving her piece of paper she had gotten from the clam in the Pond room. Cois stuck his long nose over the edge and sniffed.
“…It’s legit,” he called to the others.
The goblins warned the others to stay back or they’d fire more boots.
Vas heard others tell her not to split the party or leave them but Kemy strode forward, the gates opened, being let through..
Behind the thing they saw her figure go into the hall before them as the goblins shrugged and went back to grinning at the group. Kemy then came running back out and jumped lashing out with her legs to kick Cois and Billy off the edge of the fort so they rolled down hill to the main group.
“I’ll handle this one!” Kemy yelled and turned to the confused goblin with bandages on his hands… Vas was sure he was called Numb.
“If I wasn’t a dark evil necromancer, I’d totally crush on her,” Amenster said casually, sighing a little as Deo pushed on…
“Not because you’re a nerd and she’s too cool for you?” Poppy asked dryly.
“Poppy. Ruining. Goth.”
“I’LL HELP KEMY!” Deo called and Vas trotted after him wondering how he would make it past the gate-
Deo used his bare hands to punch the door and the wood cracked, torn asunder as the sides slammed open. Deo went for his new sword, the tusky weapon getting stuck before Deo managed to get it free and pointing the wrong direction.
Vas supposed he should help. He crouched and leapt, clearing the space in a single leap as his red sleeves flapped like flags in the wind. He crashed down as the serene goblin known as Numb did some soft jabs at Kemy.
“I am trained to guard my master from various assassins, criminals, and people with clipboards wanting signatures. I will be your foe,” Vas said, pleased to see his sleeves dangled when he took his stance.
Deo appeared swinging his tusk sword and completely missing as he flew down the hall.
The chaos was immense as Grim and Amenster took on Billy while Cois and Poppy squared off.
Numb bowed once.
“Let us enjoy jolly senseless hand to hand combat,” he said and Vas bowed as well. Vas lashed out and his leg was stopped by a double arm guard from Numb. The goblin’s eyes lighting up as he saw Vas wasn’t boasting.
They exchanged testing blows, a fist here, a sweep of a leg there, before Vas began to pick up speed. He leaned in, splitting the goblin’s guard as he leapt over his briefly stunned form. Kemy stayed back, thankfully.
Numb spun and Vas winced as he was sent staggering back from a roundhouse kick. He caught the goblin’s next punch and pulled, yanking the goblin into a raised knee.
That was when Deo appeared, his sword swing on target. Numb was forced to use one arm to block the tusk and another to catch Vas’ foot.
“FEEL THE TUSK OF JUSTICE!” Deo proclaimed. A wave of fire and ice filled the room and Vas wasn’t sure whether to shiver or cook.
“FEEL THE GLORY OF FLEEING!” Deo added and Vas felt himself being dragged into the hall along with Kemy as Numb and Deo pulled them to safety.
“Looks like Cois lost his temper,” Numb sighed.
“POPPY JUST LOST HER… WELL, EVERYTHING. SHE’S A GIANT ICE LIZARD!” Deo pointed.
“I would have lost, so you three can go rest if you want?” Numb offered kindly and Vas shook his head.
“You were holding back, a lot,” he pointed out as Grim, Billy, and Amenster rushed into the hall next to avoid being flash cooked or frozen. Numb’s smile was bright.
“I lost for what I was allowed to really do. That’s the point,” Numb said as Grim shook snow out of his hair.
“Poppy needs to be told she doesn’t have to lose it and let it go all the time. I swear she gets so into these things she just loses her cool,” he complained and Vas giggled at his joke.
Since the Fort Room was just a steam room now, they decided to go for their rest.
The lady Goblin, Lady Fera didn’t look impressed but fed them all stew, mushroom slices, various fruits and even a selection of drinks!
When the steam began to slowly enter the bar, Fera stormed out and returned with a frostbitten Cois and a soot covered Poppy in each hand.
“Enough rabble rousing,” she warned the two. The two didn’t seem angry. In fact, Vas thought they looked friendly to each other.
“So, if we instill fire into the ice ball,” Cois went on as if they hadn’t just been chastised. Poppy nodded.
“A much bigger boom. I liked the rune thing you did. I turned it inside out on my ice and it made more ice, did you know it could do that?” Poppy asked. Tom the book was silently adding notes as they talked.
It seemed the book was catatonic from the new information he was learning.
Vas guessed when one knew almost everything, anything new would be pretty awesome!
He sipped a drink and Vas went still as his hair turned leafy and he grew branches.
“Delta’s Surprise,” Numb told Vas between bites of chicken. Vas just…
Vas tree’d so hard.