Meeting the Neighbors

There was a fun problem presented to me. Delvers were actually enjoying what I had to offer, but I seemed to be off the beaten path just enough that it was something of a hassle. Which translated to, in my eyes, depressingly few visitors. Then again I'm apparently in a cemetery. Not exactly a prime vacation spot that you'd want to bring your buddies to on the weekend. Still, I got visitors. That one Rogue came back.

Didn't try running my challenges properly though. Just. Sulked about. He might have been babysitting a newbie. That would explain why the green-skinned urchin girl was there. Something about 'No traps to disarm, but plenty to cut your teeth on for footwork.'

Which got proven when three different spiders caught her when she failed to disarm the tripwire trap at the chapel chest. Two status spreaders, one tarantula. I should note that these eight-legged darlings were about the size of a person's hand if they had their fingers spread out. So, y'know, distressingly large by normal standards but still rather small for monster encounters.

Credit to the kid for not freaking out when she got hit with the first web spray. Her tact changed from acrobatics to a more dark-souls dodge roll approach.

While she danced about, I had gotten Bonehead to move to my crypt. When the Rogue looked at him Bonehead merely put a finger to non-existent lips, miming a 'shh' gesture, before pointing to the crypt. It seemed like the fellow got the hint and pretended to be surprised when they went to leave and there was that one final encounter. Confined spaces and Bonehead disarmed her by twisting when the girl's dagger went between two of his ribs. Points for creativity big guy, but that trick might not work so well on magical blades.

Her response was to dodge about while trying to get a read of the room. "Finnal!" She sounded at the edge of panic, but given her apparent youth, I wasn't going to hold that against her. "Help!"

The halfling shook his head. "I'm just the observer, kid, and the dungeon's not trying to kill you." His tone was patient as he crossed his arms. "If that changes I'll step in, but not before."

"But-" The girl protested, though before she could say more Bonehead lifted her up and walked towards the stairway to the chapel. She swore, kicked, and even tried headbutting him. However. She was sent back to the prior room, and all this as Finnel watched.

A shrug from the older rogue to his charge. "Sometimes folk catch you. Sometimes you trigger something nasty. I got a big head and this place let me off easy." He then grumbled, "Though I want that Tear back."

Should I be mean and give it to the kid? Nah. She's learning. He would just take it out on her. While deliberating, the kid seemed to almost fuzz at the edges, grow indistinct. OK, that could be handy in a crowd but-.

Fennal completed the thought, "Actually, I'm impressed you pulled that off Jen. Not that it's going to do any good here, but it's going in the notes section."

Jen groused as Bonehead carried her back to the prior room, resetting the encounter. "Gee I'm so thrilled." She dangled like an unamused cat, and just as bristling mad. Bonehead, for his part, stopped when he put her down and then pulled her dagger out of his ribs. He would then use the blade to gesture to his shoulders, knees, as well as other points she should be targeting either to disable his ability to strike or to put him off balance.

"Wait," Jen looked confused as Bonehead stood back up, giving the apprentice back her dagger. "Why are you helping me?" To which Bonehead answered by ... patting the wall before walking back to his prior position. "The... dungeon?" Jen blinked slowly before looking at Fennal. "Hey boss, the skeleton says the dungeon is why it's helping me."

"Yea kid, weird but Baz Lightfinger's got stories of a couple." He gave a pause, then on seeing no interruption, "Guild's got all kinda stories, but Baz's the most well-traveled I know of, or at least the most likely to talk about where he's been. Anyway. What do you think of the advice given?"

"Weird? Generally sparring partners don't actively want me to try kneecapping them." Jen sounded confused, "But this guy's a dungeon monster so, maybe it's OK since the dungeon will just spin him back out again?"

Well, there is also the fact Bonehead is getting to refine and work on his own technique too. So it isn't an entirely one-sided exchange. So I wasn't too upset when this time Jen rolled past Bonehead, and shattered his left knee by stabbing it from behind.

"Ha! Got it!" Jen's face lit up with a wide genuine grin. Careful kid. Don't celebrate til the xp rolls in.

Her triumph turns to a brief moment of panic when Bonehead tries turning to swipe at her. "oh. Right. Skeleton..." She danced out of his grasp then danced about to disconnect first his arms, and then his skull from his body. Only then did the encounter end. Bonehead faded away into mist, his respawn timer started up, and there was a deep blue soul tear where Bonehead was. there were flaws, but she seemed happy as she picked it up. "Oh wow..." She turned to Fennal, "Boss can you help walk me through appraisal?"

As the two exited my sphere of influence Fennal was explaining he'd want to get a couple of other newbies to make it a class project. I felt positive about the pair. Next time Fennal came back and did actual delving I was going to give him back this soul... tear... thing. I have no idea what they did. There was a power there, but without gear to experiment with or even trying to mimic what delvers do, I'm a bit up a creek here.

⁂ ⁂ ⁂

For a time there were no visitors. Which suited me fine since that let me focus on getting the second chapel in order; lights, and a treasure chest of its own. Didn't want to make it a complete twin to the other. So I had a couple of skeletons sitting in the pews with a third in robes guarding the pulpit. Pity I couldn't give any of them silly hats. Still. It made for a neat bit of set dressing.

To make it even better I left a dagger in the pulpit, in the section where one would normally put lecture notes. That wasn't something I could do before. Maybe it was because I'd finally expanded out further, or maybe because Bonehead had disarmed that apprentice. Come to think of it, after Laginn swiped that soul tear from Fennal I had that as a loot option. Interesting.

Another visitor as I set about covering the crypt exit on the west side of things with fungus. I figure spiders would be too overdone. Besides, I left a few hands in random urns. Nice little parting scar, but only a scare. They were pretty low leveled, and they were unlikely to attack unprovoked.

My awareness swung to the delvers right as they made for the stairs down to the next level and past my boundaries. I had the mana to spare for the expansion plus a few resource nodes. Bonehead and Charlotte were put on standby along with a few hands. Considering the lack of anything coming up from those stairs I was fairly confident this was overkill, but I wanted to be sure.

I had expanded into. Well. I'm not sure what. there was the expected big entry room, but the adjacent rooms didn't make sense. This almost felt like a singular large communal space with small apartments at the edges. Wait what was that? My awareness pivoted then I almost jumped at all the notifications that popped up.





That was great, new rooms were probably the actual prize here, but what got my attention was the avalanche of notifications about new items and resources discovered. Short swords, maces, shields... leather armor. Granted most of this was pretty low-level, but Bonehead got the idea pretty quick and swapped his robes out for something a touch more like what a soldier would wear. Yet while I expected him to take a sword, he grabbed a short bow, weighted bolo ropes, and a short sword.

Something tugged at the frayed edges of my memory when I saw him. the sword he picked up was curved slightly, maybe a couple of feet long in a dented metal scabbard painted a worn olive green. For a moment I got the same sort of feeling that now missing book gave off. I muscled through to try getting a better look at the sword, to make sure it wasn't cursed or something, and no. Mundane, though the flavor text noted that it had its own story to tell before winding up here.

Once I made sure none of the gear was cursed my mind wandered. Couldn't afford to focus too long on some things. Felt like it was important to know more, but also that it was painful.

Back to looking the new floor over. Lots of debris to clear out. Hands were sent scattering through to search for traps. Charlotte waved her little forelimbs when she spotted something. the stairway down was hidden behind a bookcase in a western section of the floor where instead of apartments, was a library. I'd have to go through these books later, but I remember enjoying reading. Charlotte you wonderful spider you. She started spinning a web above the bookcase to flag it as noteworthy.

With delvers running the floor above where I was, and I think one of them was Jen coming back on her own time, I had mana enough to expand again. this floor was a treasure trove. What would the next be?

As my awareness expanded, it then focused immediately on a pair of iron cages flanking a pair of heavy double doors. The bodies in each I somehow knew were former Delvers rather than magically crafted undead. Each were holding signs.




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