Two - Delving
It's been days, at least it felt like days. Without windows I only had the doings of my critters to act as any sort of clock. Spiders have been almost too efficient at clearing out the beatle population. Charlotte's grown from something the size of a large marble to something the size of a golf ball. Frighteningly large by the standards of every spider I knew, but even then she shouldn't have been able to web up that hand. Here seems to have its own rules compared to... to...?
Why can't I remember? I have conceptual frameworks to hang off of. My reaction to being prompted if I want to take the local dead as my own proves that. Logically 'they're dead nobody's home thus the bodies are up for grabs.' Logically it would have even made sense, as even shambling mindless undead would be a far better guard than spiders and Laginn.
However, also thinking logically, that also attracts attention from the sorts of people who want to remove the un from the undead and they would be very... Very displeased with whatever had disturbed them.
Emotionally? What came to mind was abject horror at the notion. Leave the dead alone. Using a corpse without permission gained when they were alive is just.... No.
Besides, I'm in no rush. At least I don't think so. Laginn caught a rat sneaking about. Weird thing is it wasn't near Laginn's patrol. Twitched one of the spider's trip lines and suddenly Lagainn was on it somehow lifting it up and then smashing it down on the ground til it stopped moving. He didn't teleport. I didn't see the movement. It was almost like he'd followed the spider's silkin line.
I didn't know enough about this. How do I- Wait. laginn, go over there, do the whole teleport thing. Ah yea right OK that uses mana. Can you.... Not do that unless it's an emergancy?
Sure, but where? I don't like the idea of going Out. Sure anyone from outside can open the crypt's slab door, but for now, I imagine I look pretty normal to whatever's out there. Better to stay hidden until I have something more substantial. Which leaves the hallway going out and stairs going down. Better to take the hallway. Kinda dumb to open myself up to more problems. Plus the stairwell represented a chokepoint anything coming in has to get past. Having spider silk hanging loose as the alarm is good. People expect cobwebs in these places.
The hallway was a t-section. One of branch lead to a Biiig. Center... presentation... thing. Wait, is this a kind of in-mausoleum church? Some kind of monument? Laginn, over here! A roving skeleton somehow made hissing noises. Hey, are you friendly?
Nope! It tried stomping Laginn. So no sorry bonehead even if I could put you on the payroll I'm not here for workplace drama. Laginn scuttled around but because its opponent was ALSO undead there wasn't a lot that could be done.
Wait. It's a skeleton. a human skeleton. OK human... ish. Eh close enough. There's this spot on a person's back they can't reach. I tell Laginn to go there and grab it while I alert Charolette.
Good. The Skeleton was too busy focusing on dislodging Laginn to focus on silk being spun around its legs. This was beyond comical. Spidersilk is strong, but it shouldn't be able to find anything this big. And yet? When the skeleton moved, it slammed into the ground. The problem was how to finish it off? Charlotte and her crowd weren't really doing anything with bites, which made sense. Boney undead.
Laginn you utter genius. It snapped its fingers to get Charolette's attention, then pointed at one of the ornamental statues. Wait do you have enough strength to do that? Charolette looped the line around and around before handing a woven string of the stuff to Laginn as a quartet of other spiders joined in. All pulling.
the Skeleton, to its credit, was working to free itself, and had it been living? Might have managed it. As is? it only managed to start pulling the silkin bonds apart when its skull caved in.
Laginn even managed the double snap at the right time. Just how well do you hear me there man? I had no way to smile, or even any idea about the song that was stuck in my non-existent head, but we did it! Wow. that was a decent infusion of Mana. Enough to upgrade the spider lair a few times Tarantulas? Yes Please!
And I even upgraded the Hand spawner so the hands it spawned were clad in grey flesh instead of being bare bone, as well as made Laginn a Champion. He didn't get any bigger, but the flesh covering him looked less Dead than that of the other Hands. I supposed that meant he had more get up and go than them?
That took most of what boney boi had to offer up. OK. We're still good. No problems. Between several pairs of hands and Laginn supervising the mess got cleaned up. Decorative hoisted back into place and the bones ... dissolved? Well, maybe it was a construct rather than magically animated.
That left me to ponder the rooms I'd just gained. What I was going to call the chapel plus a couple smallish rooms ajacent to it one way. My crypt the other way, and th last way leading to a staircase headed down. Then there were the creatures I'd seen. Other than beetles, a few flies, and other bugs the only invasive things feel like leftovers. Like someone blew through a dungeon that had been here and all that's left are the stragglers.
This was a rather disturbing possibility. Not enough mana to make more resource nodes.
I need to sit down, or... whatever the equivalent of 'sitting' I can do anyway. Everything's moving. just. One thing after another after another.
Crypt. Some kind of central congregation area with a pulpit. Threadbear carpeting in that main chamber. I've never been good at drawing outside of strait edge and grid paper. Now? I don't even have hands.
My awareness moved back to the urn my crystal was in. Huh. Growth. Neat. Still plenty of space, and time, but I'll need to move it at some point. Probably put a resource node there when I do as a sort of memento for anyone thinking to check.
How can I see? I have no eyes. Same way Langinn sees maybe? Does he see? Maybe he has a sort of seismic sense. Better question. How does Charolette see?
I breathe. the air feels stale here. Not Rancid. Just, unmoved and stale. Is that even air? Maybe it's the mana of the place? I remember reading something about places becoming home to ill things if the chi of a place was allowed to fester, but that was fung shui, decorating. Not... I guess dungeon craft does have some similarities.
Food for thought I suppose. I'm tapped out.
And of course, that's when company makes itself known. An old voice grumbled from somewhere beyond the stairwell. Crap. Craaap. I'm tapped out. No, I don't want you attacking as they come in Charolette. Hang back. I don't know what the rules of this place are. If I am the new guy in an old dungeon maybe being overly aggressive is what got the last guy removed.
Stocky, ruddy red beard shot through with grey. Studded leather armor. Lone Dwarf grumbling. No party, at least where I can tell. No Laginn hang back. Watch. "hrmph. That's new." The old dwarf eyed the treasure chest in the room that's a t-section between my crypt, and the big center room.
Wait, did anyone come up the stairs on the other side? No. no stairs, just a storage room. I think. My awareness gets kinda thin there.
The dwarf putting a hand on the chest catches my attention. His eyes are closed as he mumbles something. "Minor artifact inside the chest. Nah I'll come back for it after I do a full sweep, but it's looking likely something set up shop after Damala."
The dwarf continued. "Several resource nodes. Low-level spiders." A pause. "Turning from the side room into the main chamber." Several hands paced him, and only when I gave the go-ahead did one of them advance. "low-level undead hand." He batted the hand away, sending it into a wall.
Sudden notification from the hand's lair about an active respawn timer. Good. I'd be annoyed if that was permanent, and I got some mana anyway. Probably far less than if I'd won, but it feels like this guy is checking things out after some big thing happened. I'd probably get stomped. I mean, he isn't proactively chasing after the other Hands. So I wave the lot of them off to go back to their patrol routes.
"Interesting. The dungeon had the opportunity to swarm with minions. Am beingpassivly watched." He moved from the side room with the chest to the main 'chapel' area. "Moving into the main hallway.... and not seeing a whole lot here. Some fungal resource nodes, Individual spider instances in high corners." He inspected the central pulpet. "No hidden switches or traps so far."
Cut me some slack man. I'm still cleaning the place up I haven't had time to lay out a proper welcome. "Strange. This may indicate this is not the dungeon's sanctum." The dwarf moved into the other side room. "Even less here. No nodes, no encounters. Moving on."
Ditto with the little room behind the pulpit. Probably would have been somewhere to change into and out of officiating robes or the like if this were an actual chapel. "Loot laying out undefended. Low-level robes."
Wait. What? Was that mine or something from the prior owners? Meh, if it's low level probably mine. "No obvious switches or puzzles. Tempted to class this as a Toybox." Oh, come on that's just plain rude!
"Going back to inspect chest." He started to open it, causing several spiders to drop from the ceiling. "Gah! Chest is boobytrapped!" The dwarf's professional calm faltered as he swatted at the arachnids. Funny. Even after he got clear of them his movements were sluggish. "Confirming lingering slow Debuff." I saw the dwarf pull a bulbous glass jar, maybe the size of a grapefruit, out of the chest and inspected the red liquid in the corked bottle. "Minor healing potion." A wry grin as he pocketed his spoils.
"Taking the other route. Should lead into an exit point from the underground." Charolette reared on her thin legs, pedapelts flared wide as she scuttled towards the Dwarf. "Spider Scion sighted." When he swung at Charolette, instead of flying into a wall she clung to his mace, climbing down the haft as Laginn approached.
No, I want to see how this plays out.
"Room probably contains dungeon core. Can confirm two scions. Spider and undead hand, flesh-clad variant. Currently in boss encounter with low-level spider scion."
Charolette tapped his helmet with a forelimb and hopped away, causing the dwarf to grin. "Nimble little thing. Wonder why you got that name." His foot came down. Missed. Again the boot. Bro, come on she's obviously out speeding you.
A third stomp, this one causing the ground to shake, splaying both Charolette and Laginn prone quickly followed by a second stomp, causing Charolette to get smashed, causing a respawn timer to start by the spider-spawner. I grimaced, I've got nothing but the wanderers if he goes after... did he call it my Core?
Instead, after he stomped Charolette he glanced about the room before checking the un-webbed urn. "Boss XP collected and urn looted. Monetary reward appropriate for encounter levels displayed." What concerned me is he stared right at the urn my core was in. "Core in a non-obvious location but it feels close."
He lightly touched the stone slab blocking the exit, speaking as he stepped out of my awareness. "Crypt door appears to only open from the inside. Suggest-" And suddenly his voice turned unintelligible; like I was trying to hear him through the water.
Well. that gave me food for thought. Mostly kind of insulted though. Fine I don't have much to offer, but I'm not going to give up my stuff for nothing, and ... the whole looking unimpressed thing. I'm pretty sure I've only been alive, or active, or whatever you wanna call it, for a day. Cut me some slack or leave me some notes.
At least I have mana enough to do some expansion and lay in some additions.
Project Make this place not suck is a Go.
Main Story Index
Current Arc Index