Down is not an option anymore. If Kronos works as I do, anything I send in there will just make it stronger.
Charlotte watched as Keystone nailed a sign to the entryway to the floor leading to Kronos's Dungeon, or at least the entrance we know about. Simple planks. Etched lettering. the sign didn't actually prevent anyone from coming or going, which was good since I had a continual cycle of creatures that would take turns watching for anything.
'No Delvers past this point.'
'Hostile Dungeon Kronos's Territory.'
Below the warning were a series of runes. Presumably to note that this was an official proclamation from the Dungineer Confederation rather than Joe Schmucko Rando.
One of the downsides of being me is that I have no idea if this is a Me thing, a Dungeon thing, or the like, but details are hard to focus on. take the entryway to what I heard Arin refer to as 'The Forbidden Floor' when they saw it get put up.
How would you put a secret entrance in a library? behind a bookcase right? Nope. It was a set of double doors that looked like a blank wall with the trigger on the delver-safe side being a wall hanger on the right side that needed to be pulled down. On the delver-unsafe side, one could just push against the doors and they would swing outward.
No, I can't block them. Generally, I can put resources, furnishings, or whatever object that's inside of my dominion anywhere I like. It's a bit like hitting decorating mode. Things just kinda turn into an outline until I finalize the move then it is just... there.
Part of me feels that would have been handy once upon a time. the rest of me is getting tired of these partial memories. All sensations and whispers, but no Information. It's getting annoying.
What's also annoying is how Small I am given there is this terrifying 'will answer the door with violence' neighbor. I've got two rooms that you'd hold sermons in for maybe thirty people each, a couple of rooms attached to each, presumably for storage and support of the function. There are two rooms I've described as crypts. Each was long, with high ceilings, and in spite of having space enough for a double wide precession to walk through? To me, it all felt cramped. Both of these chapels, with attached crypts connected via a big room, had to serve some function beyond 'get people moving to the right set of dead people.
I also keep hearing about a Damala. I needed to know more. Granted yes it's likely Damala was some kind of uber-dungeon that controlled the whole area I was in, but I needed to know more. Especially since there was a non-zero chance I came to be because of leftover power when he... she? It? went blewy.
Pretty sure dungeons die if you destroy the Core. That's why mine is still in a jar in a place nobody would really look, but how hard is that to do?
Arin, Keystone, and Finnal were in the guard post that replaced the library concealing the entrance to Kronos. This guard post was sparely furnished, but it had chairs for everyone and a map of the floor below us nailed to a wall. as well as a table. Granted it also had weapon racks and other such odds and ends, but I'm glad the room was somewhere the Delvers could sit.
My main awareness was focused on them, but there were others poking about. Thanks to events I had pulled the skeletons down to the training room, and set the tarantulas after them. They were not a 'new' addition per-se, but they'd been more incidental. 'Oh hey that spider is different, and throws needles at us instead of flinging webbing.' that kind of thing.
Now they, and Laginn's hands had to pick up the slack, at least for the minute. I was grateful it wasn't a permanent swap because the Tarantulas were seen as 'cheap.' Essentially kiting Delvers about, using their small size to avoid attacks while chipping away at their opponents. All the while, Hands would leap at Delver's weapons or their faces.
If I were less interested in visitor satisfaction I might even see this as an improvement. As the matter stood though? Even setting aside the fact I liked most of the regulars? I needed them so I could grow. Technically I had enough mana to expand outward, but I wanted enough to make changes, possibly even expand outward again. Try claiming as much surface territory as was feasible so I could build up strength.
Or, more likely, lay down as many traps as I realistically could to hopefully provide any sort of delay if Kronos decided to deploy.
"All I'm saying," Arin gestured to the way leading down that was hidden behind the false wall, "Is we should try getting the guilds to pool resources? If Kronos popped up right in Damala's heart, it probably has some nasty stuff going on."
Keystone's head shook, "Which is exactly why they wouldn't want to send anything other than a survey team." Fat dwarven fingers drummed on the wood table as he was, for a moment, mostly lost in thought. "You're a mage."
Arin nodded slowly, "Nature and Kinetics."
"Then think of it this way." Keystone's voice was gentle. "Which would be more efficient? Use your magic to grow a single tree large enough to bare fruit to feed a small village, or spread your magic out enough so that everyone's crops do just a little bit better?" Before Arin could speak Keystone held a finger up with his other hand, "Also keep in mind you need some magic for other things, and that one big tree might die or get chopped down."
The leifellin druid made a small 'oh' sound. "Right, so you're saying the dungineer confederation would view a Damala successor as too risky to directly get involved with?" Their look and tone suggested complete disbelief.
"Aye," Keystone's fingers stilled and he looked to the map. "Excuse me what?"
Yea I was with Keystone here. The map said there was an Invader, capital I, in my second room. How the hell did it get past Bonehead?
My attention shifted. this Invader was clearly not of the same caliber as Ishida and Uchiumi. This looked like a glob of silly putty, including the bright pink coloring, but enough of it to fill an 'egg' the size of a watermelon. There were several skeletons there, all focused on bashing training dummies. Each dummy was mounted on a wheel so that when it spun, the skeleton would have to focus on evasion, or defending the inevitable counter.
The invader stopped, and I could almost see exactly what it was thinking as it tried to back away from the training equipment. It either could only look in one direction or was so focused on the training skeletons that it didn't notice Bonehead standing in the stairwell.
The Bone-Guard Captain looked down at the intruder, empty eye sockets staring at the pink blob.
I wish I knew what, if anything, these guys talk about. The best I can get are impressions and emotions. Something had the blob spooked enough to run into an occupied dungeon.
Bonehead seemed to come to the same conclusion as it pointed to the blob, then beckoned for it to follow.
I'd never sent anyone past my borders. Bonehead paused at the threshold. Charlotte hopped onto his shoulder and then the two stepped outside.
It was weird. My awareness around them was constricted to such a very limited bubble. Yet I could tag along as the pair followed this pink blob-thing. My dungeon, as it turned out, was buried in a large hill. As Bonehead continued on Charlotte looked back. Noting that the two crypts, one of which contained my core, were barely visible, more so by the paths than the actual structure.
There looked to be far more hill above each. Yet it had been flattened, left bare. No grave markers, nor other structures. As my hill faded from view I considered what it would take for me to build something there. Standing Stones seemed to be the least problematic and the most confusing. There would be no roof, but I would need to make the lintels. that is to say, the stones that sit atop the ones that stood, on top of the vertical rocks. Doable, but unless there was some sort of magic at work, my workforce would really dislike me.
Yet such a thing would fit in with what was here. It would provide a ward and guard against prying eyes and ears. Give place for Delvers to rest.
Mentally I sighed as my attention focused away from those future plans, back to the here and now. the pink silly putty blob caused Bonehead to walk through a gravel path that was lined with raised structures, each large enough to park a car in, and each with a family name over its door. So, a cemetery of Mausoleums. Perhaps more simply, this place was a Necropolis.
Even with Bonehead's limited perceptions, I could tell there were dozens of these structures, possibly hundreds, and my hill(?!) was at the center of it all. Hopefully, Bonehead could find his way back. I paused and snorted at the realization. of course, Charlotte was spooling out a silk line for him to follow. Probably the main reason she tagged along.
The blob changed directions, heading towards one of these small mausoleums. Bonehead paused as it seemed to just... goo through the cracks between and underneath the door. Like its fellows, this building was mostly gray stone, possibly granite, possibly something else. there were minimal flourishes, but the edges were beveled, and some minor ornamentation to the door frame to mimic the fronts of columns coming out of the stone, but I thought the structure looked plain. Was this what my crypts looked like if one scooped the dirt off of the hill?
Bonehead raised his right hand and rapped knuckles against stone door.
Surprisingly the door opened. The slime made a tendril it used to make a sweeping 'follow' gesture before rolling down a now exposed stairway. As soon as Bonehead crossed the threshold I could feel a change in the air, a nameless sensation that told me I was in another's territory.
Hello? I tried calling tentatively. I was led here by one of your creatures.
INTERLOPER! THIS IS NONE OF YOUR AFFAIR.
One voice hissed.
A second voice. Much weaker.
Two dungeons, at war. Bonehead saw the same gray stone here as made up most of my construction. Same construction styles, and the same measurements. Other than that feeling in the air, this could have been part of Me. Except it wasn't.
I saw through Bonehead a blob similar to our guide being torn apart by a swarm of two-foot-tall vaguely humanoid creatures. They giggled like children as they stomped until it was too dispersed to maintain cohesion. Only then did they look to my minion. Revealing too-large black eyes set in a head too large for the minuscule body it was attached to.
Yet they came at Bonehead, cheerfully screaming as pickaxes raised. Well, we were obviously brought here to help, and given the creature they murdered was much like our guide?
Bonehead kicked one, sending it sailing into a far wall with a loud 'Oof!' Why did they have to sound like children? Bonehead didn't hesitate in drawing his blade. Nor did Charlotte hesitate in spraying any she could with webbing.
They didn't bleed. Bonehead acted almost as if he had cut into shaped still pliant clay rather than muscle and bone.
More of the creatures came. I told Charlotte to scout ahead, to find this Dungeon's Core. Bonehead continued fighting.
From my own dungeon, more skeletons ambled, following the line Charlotte left. They made surprising time given they were naught but bone. Some wore robes. Others wore armor. All were armed in one manner or other, and I saw an extra hand holding their weapons. Still, reinforcements would take time.
The Bone Guard was on its way to serve their Captain.
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