Chapter Seventy-One: Miscellany - Dungeon Life (2022)

I don’t know what I was expecting when I asked Leo to capture and try to turn a mole, but I’m pretty sure I wasn’t expecting him to get Jello’s help. The two barked and burbled at each other before she followed him, and now she has a mole in a little pocket of air inside her. The mole looks pretty upset about it, too. I have no idea how Leo will turn it, but I’m sure he’ll figure it out. Even if it takes a few practice moles to learn.

Jello has started wandering a bit further, now she’s had a taste of the surface, too. She seems to really like watching the various delvers gather resources, or maybe she just likes catching the invaders that want to nibble on my nodes. Either way, I don’t tell her to get back down to the tunnels. I go ahead and tell Rocky he should patrol.

In fact… he really should patrol. I’m not sure it applies to someone who I don’t think breathes, but cardio is a big part of boxing. He seems happy at the idea and jogs down through the catacombs, occasionally throwing a punch or juking his head. I wish I could get him a real mouth guard, but I have no idea where to even start with plastics. I might be able to manage something with some leather, but that’s going to taste terrible… though Rocky probably wouldn’t care.

Slash is still learning how things work around here, but I think he’s fitting in well so far. He’s met all the other scions now, and I think they’ve all given him what advice they have to give. From what Teemo says, it mostly boils down to: Yes I’m weird, yes delvers are cool, you’ll probably get a weird job and/or title soon, don’t worry about it.

He’s also found the ratlings doing their mining, and he seems to have decided his best job for now is to help them. I’m not going to complain. The rock parts like weak styrofoam for him, which makes the expansion on the library a lot easier.

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I don’t have access to a research lab room, but I’m not letting that stop me. I seriously doubt it’ll stop Honey, heh. Maybe she’ll even be able to turn it into one? Her workers on expeditions have been bringing her all sorts of interesting things, and even Queen has been taking an interest. While Honey seems to want knowledge for its own sake, Queen is hungry for new things to try alchemy on.

She’s been working on making a lot more go-juice, as well as liquid steel, but storing it is a bit of a problem. The alchemy lab doesn’t really have many options for industrial storage of products, which is annoying. I might need to figure out how to make glass to get her storage. I know it needs silica sand, but I don’t know how to actually identify that. The stone in the caverns might be silicate, but I honestly have no idea.

I’m leaning towards the shallower stone being silicate, but even if I have the right rocks to grind to sand, I don’t know if I have the right heat. I might be over-thinking it, though. The ratlings have been able to make steel in the forge, and I’m pretty sure that’s supposed to be a pretty big pain in the butt to make without modern processes. Maybe glass will be easier than I thought? Either way, I ask Slash to grind some of the stone as fine as he can, and the ratlings to take it to the forge and see what they can do to get it to melt.

If it works, I expect it’ll be dirty and cloudy, but that’s fine. I’ll probably try to line a barrel or something with rough glass before trying to get anything clear. I think I read something about it needing sodium carbonate to make clear, but that’s probably as useful to the full process as knowing stainless steel has a bit of chromium in it.

The trio, who I’ve stopped thinking of as terrible now, have started to puzzle out the water jars. Mostly, they’ve realized they can put water into them from the little fountain up there, and putting the wrong weight of water will wash them out to do the whole thing over again. They seem to understand that they need four gallons, but they haven’t realized they need to math it properly, instead of trying to guess and pour the right amount into the five jar.

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Still, I doubt they’ll be too much longer in solving it, and then be on to the final puzzle I’ve made for them. It’s kind of like an escape room that’s been cut into thirds, like three escape hallways. There’s sliding blocks, scales and all sorts of complex things they’ll have to figure out, with the solutions only obvious with proper communication between the three. I think they’ll understand what they need to do fairly quickly, but the execution will probably take them a bit.

I turn my attention elsewhere as they seem about ready to wash out again, and instead focus on Freddie and Rhonda, who have just returned from the ratkin’s hunting tunnel, and presumably Violet. I poke Teemo to go and chat with them and see if there’s any new updates with the little baby dungeon.

The kids are taking a little breather with the ratkin and with Aranya, and my little kobold is possibly even more interested in Violet than I am. She’s been asking all sorts of technical questions that the kids just don’t know the answers to, but she relents once Teemo makes himself known.

“Hey kids. Aranya still trying to chew your ears off about stuff you don’t know?” My kobold blushes a bit at that, but the kids laugh it off with smiles.

“She just knows so much more about dungeons than we do!” exclaims Rhonda with a tone of wonder, and Freddie nods.

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“Yeah, she needs to talk more with Mr Tarl once he gets back. I think they’d both learn a lot. WIth us, though… it’s like showing advanced axe forms to someone who’s only just picked one up for the first time.”

“I’m sorry,” apologizes Aranya, before she continues. “It’s just that I’ve never been close to a nascent sanctuary before! The legends mention them, but usually focus on the First and his children once they’re established. There’s so many questions!”

“And speaking of questions: anything new with Violet?” asks my Voice, and the kids nod. Rhonda pulls out her little notebook while Freddie gives the basics.

“The borders seem to have stabilized, so I think it’s fully established now. It still just had the mushrooms and centipedes, no scions yet, either. I saw a couple stronger centipedes and a different mushroom, but Rhonda has the actual details on them.” Freddie looks to his friend, who now has her book open to the correct page.

“The nascent dungeon had least centipedes, but now has some lessers mixed in. Miss Telar told us a few signs to look out for if they got specialized, but I don’t think they have yet. The mushrooms have also upgraded a bit. They are still mostly aggressive cordyceps to deal with insects and such, but today we saw a spotted sweet demise. They’re a poisonous mushroom that I think it’s using to help deal with the mice down there. The rodents love to eat the caps, which doesn’t go well for the mice.” Rhonda realizes she’s talking to a rat about pest control, and looked a bit abashed. Teemo, however, just laughs.

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“I eat mice all the time, so I’m not going to feel awkward about Violet killing them.” Rhonda relaxes a bit before he continues. “Still, if Violet is a bit more situated, it might be time to say hello.”

The kids look confused, so Teemo explains. “See, the Boss has been wanting to talk to the little dungeon ever since we found it, but he doesn’t want to freak it out. But with it now more established, we might be able to make contact. I’m a Voice, after all. I should be able to talk to it.” He looks over at Aranya before continuing. “The Boss also would like to ask if you want to come, too. Just because it should be able to understand me, doesn’t mean I’ll be able to say anything it wants to hear. You know a lot about dungeons, so you could help with what I should actually say.”

“Do you think it’ll listen?” asks Rhonda, looking a bit nervous. “What if it’s more like Neverrest than like you?”

“That’s why the Boss wants to talk to it. If it’s nasty like Neverrest, he can just subsume it. If it’s friendly, like it seems to be with you two, he might be able to give it some pointers. Everyone is always going on about how the Boss does things differently. Well, he wants to see if doing things differently will work out for dungeons besides himself.”

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