Once Delta got all the gargoyles registered into the new Spawn point, a weight she hadn’t even noticed on her shoulders lifted. The haunting organ music was happily supplied by Maestro. The musically inclined fungi seemed to have Delta’s entire musical knowledge under his cap now, and was ready to abuse it.
The forge beyond had been cleared out, and Delta felt she still had a solid amount of DP to spend...
Max Mana: 350
Delta was sure in a short while she could start stockpiling for her megastructure projects. A giant tower, some stadium. A space elevator? She spent the needed 100 DP to reform the forge in repaired condition. The anvil was not made of the steel metal she had seen in games or tvs but a glassy black stone. The forge looked like she could bake bread in it and lose a few fingers. The once broken racks were new and smooth, the ceiling was de-cobwebbed. She brought up the menu for the room.
Demon Forge: The den of mighty creation.
-Allow the forge to burn at a much higher temperature. 10 DP.
-A stock of iron, copper, and alloys form on the shelves in ingots. 50 DP
-Allows materials from the dungeon to form on the shelves for Runilac to experiment with. 20 DP.
-Creates a wave of soot sprites to aid the blacksmith in tasks. 30 DP.
“Do... do the soot sprites have big googly eyes?” Delta whispered to the screen in awe. The menu flickered to edit itself.
-Creates a wave of adorable googly-eyed sprites to aid the Blacksmith in tasks. 30 DP.
-All items created in the Forge will have a mote of Delta in it. Effects unknown. 100 DP.
That sounded like a gamble. That wasn’t good. Delta had to think about this hard bef-
Her finger purchased the last upgrade without her consent.
“I need child locks on my menus,” Delta mumbled. The symbol of Delta blazed on top of the forge but not much else happened. Delta shrugged and purchased everything.
She needed epic loot to fight evil cult people. It was just a fact. Metal ingots formed on the shelves along with boar tusks, various flowers, blood of a frog, bark of a Wyin tree, Fera brews, Bob pincers, Ghoul teeth, and Dark Drake Feathers.
And of course, plump Gutrot mushrooms.
Delta glared at them with an evil eye. However, she was soon distracted by the wall leaking pure darkness.
“I don’t think that is normal,” she said slowly. Did she have to call a pest control guy? If it was dark, would an electrician for light be better? Soon a dozen wide eyes looked up at Delta. One or two would have been adorable, the undulating mass below her however, had hundreds of eyes that looked more like a single creature.
Delta silently left the room.
What is wrong? You look like you’ve/ you have seen a ghost...
Nu’s box appeared. Delta swallowed.
“Trypophobia...too many eyes in dark... holes... moving holes...” she gasped. She looked back and a few soot sprites left the room curiously. Their little hairy bodies and curious noodle arms wiggled. Her heart melted. The flood of them with their bulging eyes and mass followed quickly, swallowing the few isolated sprites like a creature who function in parts and Delta’s heart screamed.
A tremble went through the stairs and Grim frowned. His tongue felt tingly.
“Anyone else feel that?” he asked as the noise sounded like a wail of terror. Everyone shared a look before Grim sighed.
“Must be nerves,” he mumbled as they reached the bottom of the stairs. The thick layer of roots and leaves combined with the faux-sunlight dancing through the canopy above made for a breathtaking sight to welcome them to the second floor. The scent of clean air and a peaceful tranquility overtook them.
Grim remembered the giant worm, frogs, the mime, and such... and couldn’t relax like the others did.
“All this moisture is going to ruin my pages,” Tom the tome told Poppy sternly. Kemy gestured to a few stumps and fallen logs that vaguely looked like a perfect camping site.
“Why don’t we sit down and Grim can tell us what he remembers from his trip before we move on?” she offered. While full of food and rested, it was a good idea. The Dungeon wasn’t going anywhere.
Grim reported on the female frog, the giant worm thing, the bees... and the mime. The others digested this for a long moment.
“And that is old news. Delta should have made tons of changes by now,” Grim said bluntly.
“This is perhaps the oddest Dungeon I’ve heard of,” Tom admitted. Everyone turned to the powerful-looking book with a happy mushroom sticker plastered on his front. No one really dared to comment on it since Tom had a habit of going off into angry tangents about defacing books and the oppressed novels with no hands.
“What do you know of Dungeons?” Poppy asked calmly. Tom floated up to stare at her.
“Know? Know?! I know plenty! Ask away, do you wish to know about the great Swamp Dungeon that produced a toxic slime for miles? Do you wish to know about the great Automaton Dungeon who made nothing but puppets and things that pretended to not be puppets? I tell you, nothing quite makes a tale like getting up from what you thought was a kind bathroom break and finding you’re missing a buttock from a toilet mimic!” Tom harrumphed.
“What about that silver one you went on about before?” Poppy asked bored. Tom sighed.
“I could, but it’s a depressing tale. Much like the Capital Dungeon and the Queen or the Twin Cores and their duality. Dungeons rarely give rise to uplifting tales,” he said, then thought about it.
“The Silver Dungeon was a very old Dungeon,” he began. Grim wasn’t sure where story time came from, but he wasn’t going to ignore free knowledge... even if he had a weird craving to eat Tom to see what would happen.
“The Dungeon gained its name from its theme and its avatar. The gleaming silver halls, the silver knights and steeds... and the Avatar of the Silver Saint,” Tom explained, voice gone from whiny to soft and enjoyable.
“The Dungeon was said to have over 50 floors on record. Each construct the Dungeon crafted was of solid silver and usually warriors, knights, or majestic beasts. The Silver Dungeon was very pleasing to the eye, even as it tried to kill you,” Tom chuckled.
“Over time, it began to make alloys from moonstone and milk star metal into its traps and monsters. It retained its glowing appearance whilst also becoming deadlier. It was considered the most beautiful place in the northern lands,” the book flipped his pages to show illustrations of a detailed hall that gleamed in endless reflections and milky swirls. Kemy gasped a little as the picture moved to show a slight realistic viewpoint of the room.
“But one day, the unspeakable happened to the Dungeon,” Tom said slowly. The sudden tone shift shook Grim out of his enraptured attention.
“Did it get corrupted?” Amenster frowned, he had been mouthing Tom’s words to Deo so the boy could follow along.
“Smashed?” Kemy asked quietly.
“Worse,” Tom said gravely. The book leaned forward and with a deep rumble, spoke.
“It fell in love,” he whispered. The silence was suddenly pressing to the group.
“With who? How did that do anything?” Grim asked and Tom flipped pages until the visage of a young woman with a warm smile, calloused hands and a worker’s tan appeared.
“It all began with this woman, Tiamarie...” he said, getting into the story.
“Ah love, a terrible affliction,” said a sage voice from the shadows. Everyone spun to see a large frog covered in feathers and dangling beads, whilst holding a gnarled staff with rocks and pulsing orbs dangling off the top via strings and cords.
On her shoulder, an orange bird perched.
“Did you have to hop into our story time?” Grim asked annoyed. He was sort of into the tale now. He then thought about what he just said. The bird fluffed up as if sensing a foe encroaching on its nest.
“Watch your tongue!” the bird tweeted. Grim covered his mouth to hide his orange tongue. He narrowed his eyes.
“Stick a feather in your cap and flock off,” Grim said back. The bird expanded as if trying to appear intimidating. The frog looked pained.
“Children,” she said with force. Grim and the bird glared at each other.
“I am Devina, your guide on this floor. I shall be following behind, escorting the injured, and making sure all goes well on your adventure,” she bowed and everyone nodded back. Devina looked like she had seen some things from the way she went on to talk about the second floor.
“Unlike the first floor, with its straightforward passages and single rooms, rewarded with warm food and comfort when you reached the end, the second floor is more open. If the first floor rewarded your courage to move forward, the second floor will reward you on how you move from here on out. There is no correct path, only one destination,” Devina smiled as she saw she had their attention.
“The entrance to the boss room is barred by three doors. In the method of fairness, our Mother has declared it kind to tell you of the keys before you reach the door and force you to backtrack. I will not tell you where the keys are. But they are not buried randomly or in any tree. They will be in key points in the area,” she said smoothly and the orange bird cracked up with tweeting laughter. Devina closed her eyes for a long moment.
“There are six keys, but you need only three to reach the boss. Hints may be found on the doors themselves,” Devina went on after a moment.
“What happens if we get all 6?” Grim immediately asked and Devina gave him a look. He remembered this fro gvery well. Right before a giant worm nearly ate him...
“Maybe nothing... maybe something. Perhaps the lukewarm response that the trial will be the reward of experience... but that is nonsense and boring. Collect as many or as little as needed... but a warning. On this floor, hidden in shadows and in trees are terrible demons. If they know you are here... you will find your time to rest vastly reduced,” she smiled, and it looked like she knew what she was talking about.
“Delta wouldn’t let demons into her dungeon, well besides Miss Ruli... and Mister Runilac... and I guess maybe that mime I’ve heard about...” Kemy trailed off for a moment.
The group went silent as they digested that.
This Dungeon was very odd. Perhaps... too odd for some.
“Any advice?” Grim tried. Devina looked to the ceiling in thought.
“Try the popcorn,” she finally said and walked off.