Blood and Bone

Charlotte scuttled along. A spider the size of a large hand. Hair fine near invisible thread trailed behind her. She wasn't making a trail through this place for Bonehead to follow. Unlike my layout? The floor beneath the crypt was compartmentalized. Walls just high enough that a Halfling would need to stand on their tip-toes separated the space out, lending a layer of confusion on top of my limited perception.

Laginn and his kind were nimble and could climb, albeit slowly, but Charlotte was more nimble, scuttling into a pile of cast-off goo as creatures passed. Unlike the little ones Bonehead was still fighting, these were all rawbone malnourished with green leather-like skin. Like the little ones they had bulbous eyes, but yellow instead of black.

One of them poked at the goo that was Charlotte's hiding place before moving on.

I grinned. Had I a face it would not have been a wholesome or inviting expression. These were not of the same caliber of beings I had seen Kronos use unless that one had invested everything into its twin Guardians, but I doubted it. Where they were lithe grace and almost elemental force. These were ugly and misshapen. Where I could see the life and emotion in Ishida and Uchimi. These things were locked in a caricature of contempt, a sneer was all they could manage. Ugly things. Yet they told me much of their maker.

So, I was dealing with a peer rather than a predator.

Charlotte snaked a winding path through their legs, the line spooling out faster than any spider from Earth would have been capable of.

Earth. huh. File for later, too many balls in the air right now.

A single thread of silk wasn't going to hold one of these creatures, much less the half-dozen stalking through right now. Charlotte knew this and continued sprinting on spindly legs. Leaping. Jumping. One such caused one of the creatures to look down, swatting at her, but seemingly unaware of the line trailing behind.

Alright girl, get their attention. Make them stay clumped up.

Charlotte obliged, making sure they spotted her long enough for one to take a swing, causing the rest to swarm to try catching her. Then away she would bound. Again, and again she would do this until the line was cut, and she would jump to one of the half-walls in this place. I swear one of her forelimbs snapped to a salute to the cluster just before they fell in a tangle of limbs.

Off she scuttled. As I had every confidence in her my attention focused on Bonehead right as he shoulder-checked something larger than the green-skinned goblin-looking things Charlotte had dealt with. Maybe this was the leader of them though. Same green skin. Same bulging eyes, and pointed ears. About as tall as my skeletal captain though, and wearing studded leather armor.

I swear Bonehead grinned when his opponent stabbed him. , As soon as the blade touched the leather his body shifted a fraction, causing it to slide between ribs. When Bonehead twisted, to strike his opponent with the pommel of his sword it was disarmed, and then beheaded. The body fell to the floor, blood spilling from its neck.

Now Bonehead had two swords, though the creature's blade was of far inferior make it would still serve. As Bonehead approached more of the greenskins I could feel the air shift. So could he, and with a flip of his borrowed blade to a reverse grip he started off again.

Hurry. They are in my heart room. ... Where the Core is. Follow my directions. His Champion is here.

I relayed directions and could feel the Bone Guard rushing through the crypt's stairs just as Bonehead took the stairs down to the next floor.

Unlike my chapels, the stairs spilled out at the end of the room opposite its pulpit. Behind that I could see a glowing gem in the hands of another greenskin. More of those ruddy brown creatures stood between Bonehead and our quarry.


The voice cried in delight as the ugly green hand squeezed the gem, eclipsing the pale pink light of this dungeon's core.

Bonehead threw his borrowed blade, not at the creature, but at the pulpit, knocking the pulpit over, and causing the creature to lose its balance momentarily. It regained its footing but lost its prize.


Bonehead already had bow in hand. The arrow loosed.

Then even as the greenskin fell, clutching at the arrow shaft in its eye, more arrows. Just because the largest threat was dealt with did not mean this place was safe, nor its owner's survival assured. Briefly one of those little brown things held up the pink gemstone of this dungeon's core, only to have an arrow slice through its wrist.

It and its fellows shrieked. Somehow its hand reformed as the horde turned to their new opponent.

Bonehead responded by drawing his blade and making a show of decapitating the nearest of the lot. One down, a dozen or more to go.


Oh, you sweet deluded moron. With your minions distracted, they never noticed Charlotte scuttling about. So they didn't see her make off with this Dungeon's core.

That brought me breathing room. The Bone Guard stormed through. My awareness expanded. Now I could see the mud-brown creatures coming in through a tunnel made in the supply room to the rear of this place. Bonehead confirmed my suspicion as soon as he crossed into the tunnel. This was definitely the belligerent dungeon.


It howled as more of those mud-brown creatures set against my skeletons. Had I killed all the greenskins? How long before they respawned? Was there any way I could convince this thing to stop attacking its neighbors? Didn't it know we were all living on top of-


Foolish. Shortsighted and foolish. I was willing to extend to you the same offer I'm going to extend to the other. Cooperation. Pooling knowledge. Training our creatures against each other. Now. You are a distraction I don't need.

The Bone Guard spilled out into another chapel. Man whoever built this place must have been working off templates. This one looked like the last one, and both looked a lot like mine. Sure the lectern was replaced by a black staff holding an egg-sized gem with black talons rather than a pulpit, but structurally still the same.

The robed skeletons of my guard surrounded the staff. How did they know magic? As each formed a section of shielding around the staff I got curious and floated my awareness closer. Etched onto their skulls were runes that glowed as their magic was being cast. Each only had a single spell, but that cut this dungeon's core off from the rest.

Why not just kill it? Creatures began spilling in. The greenskins, the Champion, more of those brown creatures.

The sword armed skeletons beat the flat of their blades against their chests as they formed a ring around the casters. Hands that had ridden along during the march here leapt out, weighting down weapon hands, grabbing at faces, gouging eyes, and in general being a nimble hindrance that kept the attackers open to my defender's blades.

Again, why not just kill it?

The answer came to me as a pink putty-blob made its way into the room. Again that unwholesome grin. fair is fair.


The voice screamaed as the black staff was engulfed in pink goo.

Fight smarter. Not Harder.

Was the last words it heard as the dungeon it hoped to conquer consumed it.

Yet this place's now former minions continued their assault. With the core eaten my robed skeletons cast their magics onto their fellows. Bonehead rapped his sword against his leg twice, producing a loud clang each time. The formation paused as his jaw moved. then they advanced outward, calmly and efficiently slaughtering everything that offered resistance.

Thankfully not everything resisted. A few of the brown creatures knelt and were passed over. This place's Champion paused at Bonehead, stopped, and knelt to the Bone-Guard Captain and held its sword, handle in one hand and blade with the other, up to him.

Your call man.

Bonehead paused before taking the blade. I could see the creature tense. Too-Large eyes closed, expecting the worst. Instead, Bonehead offered its sword back, handle towards the creature.

Then Bonehead lead the Champion to the chapel room as the pink gemstone from the other dungeon was carried by charlotte to the putty slime covering the staff that held this dungeon's core. When the putty peeled itself away the staff now was a dark oaken thing with bronze claws cradling its new gemstone.

I thank you for your help.

Bonehead gave a deep bow.

I have been perhaps too focused on mapping this place we have been born to, but maybe it was good that I had set JW out to watch the Delvers coming and going to the lonely hill.

Huh. Them going to my dungeon over others would also mean everyone else here is being starved. This could be part of why- The other dungeon's agreement to the sentiment was less word and more sensation.

There was a long pause. then the new dungeon was approached by the old dungeon's Champion, who knelt to the staff. Good. good. I already had troops, and this guy needed something more substantial than silly putty guarding it.

Now that things were winding down and my Bone Guard were leaving, each pausing by the dungeon's core to touch it, giving some of their own essences if I was seeing the right of what was going on, I had time to think.

Yes. I actually meant what I said to the other guy. I have no idea how this will work, but always better to try making friends where possible.

I saw a notification:


As soon as I agreed, which took more than a stray thought. Seemed whatever this is needs enough effort of will to make sure you don't mis-click and agree to something you didn't mean to, I could see the whole place. Combined both dungeons were literally the size of my two crypts and chapels, but that wasn't what caught my attention.

This dungeon had rooms I didn't. The now deceased dungeon had a forge in the room behind its chapel, and my new ally had two rooms each filled with the sort of lab setup one thinks of with the word 'lab'; beakers and chemicals, and glass tubes leading this way and that. HUH, that meant the slimes didn't naturally spawn. they have created beings that could divide themselves a number of times. Though if they were divided too much before gaining new mass they quite clearly died.

That gave me an idea I wanted to try. Bonehead needed to be up for it, but if he was going to be first in-last out, I wanted to make him better than he was, and I didn't want to 'upgrade' him into being a zombie. Hey, buddy, whaddaya think?

Huh, he at least wasn't saying No, but he wasn't exactly jumping up and down with Joy either. Always hate it when people throw the ball back to me when I want their opinions. Ah well, heavy the head that wears the crown. Worst case it can be undone, so nothing permanent.



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