Fish were basic creatures.
Delta watched, flat on her back at the bottom of the lake, as the fish swam above her, the Lumen mushrooms glowing softly on the ceiling like blurry stars. Delta… really liked this room. Spending 4 mana to populate the room with Lumen Mushrooms, the once dark room now had a soft ambience that Delta wished she could claim she had planned.
Able to see the dark shadows of elegant fish, larger ones, a few Crayfish move about, seeing them mimicking normal crayfish habits like taking fake snaps at each other made Delta feel true peace for a brief moment.
Her creatures did not need to eat. In a world where one did not starve, life became… playful. Delta knew there was something deep she could say but she decided she was already deep into the pond as it was, at the bottom of it in fact.
Really, she should be studying her menus to target her next upgrade, plan the next purchase, aim for the next unlock, grind those numbers and… then what?
Delta didn’t care about any of those things at the moment. She just wanted to enjoy the creation she had brought about. Why rush off and make something else when she hadn’t even seen enough of what she had done right here?
A fish swam past and Delta held a hand near it, feeling a little bit of resistance as it passed. She couldn’t touch her creations yet but she liked to think they would enjoy it if she could.
As a pure logical thought, the pond would draw explorers to fish and stall in her dungeon. They would fishing and over a certain period of time, the pond would naturally refill it’s taken quarry. It would result in Mana farming.
As someone who wasn’t a machine that crunched numbers and didn’t see everything as a way to make her dungeon into some hyper-productive factory, Delta freely admitted she just really wanted a pond with fish in it.
There was no real ulterior motive behind the act on Delta’s side. She walked back to the beach. Part of her knew she had to add a few Crayclaws eventually but decided to let space exist peacefully for now…
Besides, she had a whole new room to have fun with! Stuff cost mana and Delta had an idea she wanted to try. The plans came together like a crayon drawing in her head but her powers did not protest.
The room needed to change a little for it to work, however.
“How do I lower the floor?” she muttered, hoping the question would be answered for her. Her prayers were answered as the menu appeared.
“Oh, thank you!” Delta said and the menu vanished without a word.
Opening her map, she tapped the room and held it. A menu appeared as she focused on the room.
Delta swallowed. That was a lot of numbers. She reread it again and sort of got most of it.
A special room could be inserted if they didn’t exceed her limits or the room could have a special trap that might reset per use instead of a time limit?
Delta inhaled and shrugged. She would just have to do her three P’s later.
Progress, Purchase, Pace.
She lowered the floor by 2 meters and then spoke aloud.
“I dunno, I kinda like the balls it has,” Ruli commented as she read the warning above the door. Quiss eyed the slightly sloping down path into the slightly larger tunnel opening than he expected.
“Well, don’t speak too loudly. We don’t know what will set this dungeon off. One wrong comment and we can be facing down a horde of who knows what,” Quiss reminded and Ruli pulled her knife out.
“Quiss, I know how to keep my yap shut inside the dungeon. Unless we’re already on dungeon ground and this entrance is a faux trap, I think I’m safe. Once we’re in, we use one or two words max and use gestures as best we can. Every second we’re inside we learn about the dungeon but it also learns from us. I don’t want some monster learning that we’re getting curious about it. I also don’t want some innocent builder Core being scared because we’re yelling about dungeon cores and murdered villagers,” Ruli said as she cleaned the blade despite the fact the blade was cleaner than some medical tools Quiss had seen in his time.
“I forgot you were part of that circus troupe of adventurers. The Bird feathers, or some such,” Quiss said distractedly, knowing full well the name of her ex-group.
“The Hawk Claws!” Ruli said with a snap, making her dark face turn ugly with a snarl. Quiss didn’t think about the attractiveness of Ruli’s face or such, he just decided she was uglier with a snarl.
“Right, them. You’re right, of course. We could be unlucky and strike one of the forbidden dungeons,” Quiss grimaced and Ruli actually recoiled slightly.
Forbidden dungeons were special types of dungeons that Quiss had only seen twice in his journeys.
Plague dungeons and Abomination dungeons.
“I forget… is undead still on or off the list?” Ruli asked lightly and Quiss jumped at the chance to distract himself from the thoughts he was having and also to feel smarter than Ruli at the same time.
“No, they’re legal again. The dark church of Urathain petitioned and managed to remind people that if the church of light and the gods can have unbiased dungeons then so should they since the dark church does not force their believers onto the angel/spirit/nature dungeons and should be respected in the same manner,” Quiss recalled.
Undead were always an easy topic to play with.
A plague dungeon used… viruses and plagues as the main method of killing people. The problem was that it was not content to sit and wait for victims and usually ended up wiping towns off the map in its haste to grow. All it took was one idiot to come out with spores in his lungs and then the kingdom was gone in a week.
Abomination dungeons were… broken. They started out fine in some manner. Then either through someone taking the core or cracking it in some manner or the core losing control of its senses, the dungeon became a hole of amalgamations of monsters. Mana went in but no mana came out. People who went in, often came out gibbering madmen or so broken that death was a mercy.
If one was found then it was eradicated. The land it was under was eradicated. The people who had interacted with it were treated in the most gentle manner possible before their brains just gave up. Quiss saw one being removed. A saint had called down the wrath of his God. Like an angry fist from the heaven, the hole in the ground screamed and leaked the vilest things he had ever seen. People that had been spliced with things and left partially unformed and mentally undone, people that had just stopped being human, seeing his fri-
Pain exploded over his face as Ruli lowered her fist, face hard.
“We don’t know,” she said softly and her eyes softened a touch. Pity and that brought Quiss to back to reality faster than anything.
“Really, did shaking me escape your boorish brain?” he grunted and he ignored the glint of relief in Ruli’s eyes before she snorted and stalked down into the dungeon.
“I shook your world once, never again,” she cackled and Quiss narrowed his eyes. He had a perfect shot of her hair.
One little fireball and she’d leave him alone for a week before trying to gut him in the street when enough of it grew back.
Quiss followed her down into the dungeon, chanting the spell for butterflies… just in case the temptation grew too much.
The room was almost finished. The mud had taken a little bit over 15 mana to fill up to her liking. Leaving her with 10.
Hob and Gob should be back but she wasn’t worried. Delta had asked them to go a little farther than normal and see what they could find.
So, with her last 10 mana, she made ten round wooden platforms in a spread out pattern one would have to jump on to get from side to the other.
Four of them were not big logs like the other three but small floating pieces of wood that if jumped on would instantly sink and send the jumper into the muddy pit!
Challenging, humiliating and potentially time wasting? Yes!
Delta was proud of her work, so proud she was suddenly scared her hubris had done something to strike out at her as all her menus closed down and the dungeon took on a feeling she had never felt before.
Life that she had no insight into had just walked into her dungeon. Delta was alerted to the fact that her monsters feel it too but Delta could see it was more just a… ‘something is here’ feeling then the feedback Delta got.
She moved to the entrance and froze as a woman in furs with dark skin and a wicked looking knife entered, followed by a man in his 30’s with a perpetual scowl. His long blue jacket, blonde hair and beard made him look rugged. His eyes held a depth that made Delta feel shy about staring into them for too long.
The woman looked more honest and Delta liked her eyes, a dark simmering red. Red eyes were cliche and often meant evil, but Delta had a feeling this was perhaps more of a ‘humans might have slept with something they shouldn’t have way back in the day’ situation and odd coloured hair or eyes might be common here!
Though, if one's hair colour began to change when one was powering up, Delta was done. She’d sleep with the fishies until her DP hit max and she opened up a wormhole and got out.
“Feeling?” the man asked and the woman grunted.
“Norm. Moving,” she said and headed down the tunnel. She was going to the spider room. Delta flailed on the spot.
People were in her dungeon! PEOPLE! Walking-talking-smart-real-not goblins! Delta followed as the began to turn the corner, almost tripping over a Gutrot ‘room in her haste.
“Mushrooms,” the man said and the woman paused.
“Gutrot, kill a man in a day if you eat it,” she warned and kept moving. Delta froze.
Kill...a man? These frigging mushrooms were man-killers?! Delta had been forcing herself to eat murderous mushrooms?!
“Slow. Webs,” the woman pointed out and the man snorted.
“Yes, I can’t see the huge swath of white web ahead,” he replied and the woman scowled in response.
“I’ll push you into them, don’t tempt me,” she warned and moved carefully into the maze. Her berry bush laid at the centre but Delta watched with held breath as the hunter woman took a look around.
Excitement filled her, could this first challenger traverse this sticky maze?! Delta almost screamed as the woman just examined the web, not moving as her eyes flicked to the spiders that had fled.
“Top quality here…” she muttered and Delta’s excitement turned to confusion as the knife the woman held took on a slight red edge.
The woman cut down the web in front of her with a slight hiss. It felt to the ground, folding in on itself as the woman hacked away at the sides holding it up.
She took out a backpack and began to roll the web up into a small sticky bundle.
Delta was numb.
“Ruli… really?” the man asked with exasperation. The woman just began to cut down another section.
“Quiss, this stuff can make nets, good fabrics, make-shift bandages and all kinds of magic shit, the fact you aren’t wizarding a chunk for yourself is just sad,” she accused. Delta felt faint as she just looked at her ruined maze.
Her plans… gone into the woman’s satchel.
The man eyed the bush in the centre.
“Want some berries?” he mocked and Ruli… snorted.
“Mana rich berries are too sweet for me,” she declined. The man, Quiss, popped a few into his mouth.
“They could be deadly,” Ruli said without much concern and Quiss smiled. He patted an amulet on his cufflinks.
“A mage-scout is always prepared,” he said simply. Delta eyed them and saw two tiny glowing symbols or was the symbol made of other symbols? The longer she looked, the more it hurt her head.
“So, mushrooms and webs? We could have a nature dungeon on our hands,” Quiss said as Ruli cut down more webs.
Each cut was like a blow to Delta’s pride.
“Useful, rare game to hunt and plenty of herbs that can bring a man back from death or worse, a hangover,” Ruli agreed and Delta felt a pink blush crawl up her next.
She didn’t have rare herbs… she had-
“The hell in all it’s layers is that?” Ruli asked as one of her Mushy’s flexed in the darkness. Ruli’s eyes seemed to have no trouble spotting it. Delta was sure that was cheating on some level unless it was mixed racial trait, then Delta could only follow them with a drag to her walk.
Delta felt like she was failing all the dungeon tests so far.
“What do you see?” Quiss wondered and his body rested casually on his belt were a holster rested. More fire guns? Just what her Mushy’s needed.
“It looks like a mandrake had a baby with a fungal creeper,” Ruli said bluntly and Quiss paused.
“Is it dangerous?” he asked and Ruli took aim with her knife, it glowed on the edge but the glowing light of the blade only did one thing.
It gave her Mushy a target.
It gurgled and fired. Ruli bent down but Quiss didn’t seem to share her night vision and got hit square in the chest with a full splash of Mushy’s best. He cursed and stumbled back as Ruli threw her knife with an unwavering hand.
Her poor Mushy gagged as the hot blade buried itself in its mouth. It went up in flames. Delta stared.
It hurt to see it wrinkling and turning black. Delta could feel the pain wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it should be, her Mushy feeling more overcooked than in pain. It still didn’t make her happy.
These people had come into her dungeon, tore down her maze, mocked her berries, killed her mushy. Delta was annoyed. She might even say she was angry, but… did that mean she was about to make the return trip for these people hell?
No. Delta couldn’t fault them. What did Delta expect when she left a Mushy in the darkness of the hall?
Petting? Hugs? These people acted logically and with common sense. A mushroom monster with glowing green liquid looking ready to fight. Delta would have run, personally, but for the brave, the course of action was so right that Delta just felt sad at how her visitors must see her dungeon now.
It was frustrating, to be this powerless. Delta so used to time being her foe, not this inability to act.
Delta turned and looked, making sure Quiss was okay. Maybe she could make Hob give them an apple or something… providing they didn’t also shank him.
“Shit, this stuff stings like a bitch,” Quiss groaned as he stood, his shirt soaked and skin turning red where the liquid touched it.
“Come on, I smell water ahead,” Ruli grunted and Quiss snorted at the image of Ruli sniffing the air like a Bloodwolf.
“Sure, let’s go bathe in dungeon water. I didn’t need my legs anyway,” Quiss said with a snark in his voice.
“Shut up, gotta get this gunk cleared off,” Ruli snapped and Quiss could only agree, unknown substances in a dungeon was bad. Almost as bad as finding some in your inn room.
“I dunno what it is about me and nature, first it was the damn bushes and now the mushrooms are out to get me too!” Quiss grumbled as Ruli lead him into the next room.
He stopped talking. He stopped complaining.
“Huh… this… beautiful.” Ruli said casually as the expanse of water reflected the glowing mushrooms like glinting stars.
The room was like a private paradise hidden away from the cruelty of the world. The soft white sand, the errant crabs that scuttled away at their approach. Ruli slowed and peered down.
“Water’s super clear, I ain’t seeing nothing but the usual fish. If there’s a monster down there, its got camo and we’re fucked either way,” she said cheerfully and Quiss just glowered at her. He bent down and used the water to begin to soak his clothes.
What did the dungeon make of them? It had to be watching. Was it furious at the destruction of its monster? Annoyed at him using this wonderful place to clean himself? Maybe it was neither and the trap was about to be sprung on them, the silent assassin monster in the water?
“Ya know… this place ain’t bad. Those glowing mushrooms don’t grow around here, never seen them I mean. The water looks nice. Shame I don’t have my pole,” Ruli admitted. Quiss ignored her.
He was too busy sipping the water.
“Its…. good,” he whispered and opened his sense of taste the world, letting it be more than mere signals to the brain.
Mana rich water. Not simply water created by mana. Quiss took a deep gulp and just felt better. Ruli blinked and took a sip herself.
“Huh, pretty refreshing, what gives?” she directed the question at Quiss and he tried to phrase it in the shortest way possible while not doing his education shame.
“The dungeon made the water good for your body’s mana. Like a super weak mana potion. You could probably float in it for a few hours and feel amazing. This dungeon is pretty creative or powerful,” Quiss said aloud. He could respect fellow workmanship.
Ruli nodded slowly.
“So webs, lots of mushrooms, and water, oh and those goblins that might be around. I think Nature feels good for now. But… I think we can be specific if the old timers need details,” Ruli grinned.
Quiss could only sigh as his skin’s irritation ebbed away.
“Sure… The town of Durence now has a Mushroom Forest Dungeon,” he proclaimed.
It would make a nice catchy title if they ever wanted to advertise the place. Saying it aloud, he was sure even the dungeon core might approve.
Delta was screaming and trying to choke the man known as Quiss with her bare hands.