Dungeon Walk Prologue and Chapter 1

Title: Dungeon Walk

Author’s Notes: Third start. Will figure out which to focus on later.

Prologue:

He didn’t remember dying. But, as he awoke to find himself falling through an empty darkness, he found it certainly seemed that way. Especially as the last thing he seemed to recall was an especially bright light.

Then abruptly, reality seemed to reassert itself as he seemed to fall through a glowing ring that appeared before him in the blink of an eye. Gravity suddenly reversed and he found himself falling onto his back. He landed with a thud on his back, onto a smooth, hard stone surface.

“Well, he’s certainly a scrawny one, isn’t he?”

The voice was contemplative and rather high pitched, but certainly sounded male.

“Yes, yes. I know, I know. We need someone with brains, not some sack of meat. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t hoping for a properly imposing presence!”

There was another pause.

“Really, there’s no need to be rude about it!”

The words were odd, blurring syllables that didn’t quite match what he found his mind supplying him with. It was like… well, he’d never really gotten to fluent in a foreign language, but it was close enough for him to approximate. Forcing himself up, he rubbed against his head for a moment, trying to work out the throbbing pain behind his eyes before slowly opening his gaze.

Almost immediately, he shut them again as the light was too bright for him to bear.

“Ah, sensitive one. Probably just the post summoning backlash. He has been on quite the trip.” It was that voice again, more distinct now, gnarled and aged but still filled with vigor. “Well, hopefully this won’t take all day. We have so very much to do still.”

Slowly, he tried to open his eyes again, taking care to do it in small increments, letting the light in bit by bit.

“Well at least he seems to be coming about,” the voice noted the fact with a grudging acceptance. “So, maybe he’s not completely useless.”

Turning his head towards the sound of the found, he found himself facing a peculiar sight. The creature, for it was surely no man, was hunched into what looked to be his twilight years. Only, a human’s skin  did not look like the color of a dulled egg plant, with bulging, bloody red eyes and long spindly arms that reached almost to the ground.

When its lips parted, it revealed rows of jagged, worn yellowed teeth that to him, looked half rotten.

A monster, or at least the decrepit remnants of one.

 

“Well, at least he has enough brains to note the obvious.” It was only after the creature grumbled out the words that he realized at least some of his thoughts had been spoken aloud.

Taking a slow, deep breath, he then swiftly let it out. “Okay then. This the whole clichéd summoned to another world for some sort of task with an inverted twist?”

“An inverted twist?” The creature was obviously curious as it tilted its head to the side.

“Well, I’m guessing that I wasn’t summoned to be the hero fighting a demon lord,” he drawled out with a trace of sarcasm.

“True,” the creature admitted with a nod of its head. “That would be a bit… unseemly.”

“For you at least,” he stated with a faint nod of his head. “So, why exactly am I here?”

“We have been abandoned by the dungeon lords and as our dungeon lands is the passage between the adventuring realms and the dungeon lands, we rather prefer to not end up on the pointy end of the sword,” the creature stated flatly.

“Do you know how hard it is for something like me to get to such a distinguished age of decrepidation?”

“I can imagine,” he agreed with a nod of his head before sighing. “So, what do I have to do to get sent home?”

“Oh, that?” The creature shrugged a bit, as if not really caring much about the answer. “Build a portal, upgrade it enough so it can open the way.”

“I see,” He rubbed lightly at the bridge of his nose. “Something that’s a bit difficult I imagine?”

“Only if you can’t create a thriving dungeon that can easily harvest an abundance of wealth and life force,” the creature answered smugly.

“Which solves your problem along the way,” he noted with a sour mutter before sighing. “So, how exactly am I supposed to build this dungeon, because as you might’ve noticed, I’m not really built for doing this by hand.”

“Before we begin all that… How exactly are you managing to remain so calm? We were quite prepared for a much more… pronounced reaction.”

“By focusing completely on this,” he stated flatly and gave the creature a loo. “I’m sure that when I finish all this and am left alone for a bit and have time to think, I’ll freak the fuck out. In the mean time however, I can and will make sure that I know as much about what’s going on as I can.”

“Sensible, I suppose,” the creature muttered with a huff of irritation. “I can already tell you’re going to be trouble.”

“And I can already tell you need a kick in the ass,” he shot back. “Keep it up and I’ll find a donkey to do it.”

“A great deal of trouble,” the creature agreed with a puckered sourness to his features. “And feisty to boot.”

“Can we get on with this then?” He asked with an edge of frustration in his voice. “The longer this takes, the more likely I am to place the blame for this solely on your shoulders, and then I start to indulge in the petty desire for vengeance by making your life a series of unpleasant instances just frustrating enough to slowly chip away at your sanity and hitting you often enough that you never get the chance to recover, ensuring your slow descent into decrepit madness where I leave the care of your insensate form as punishment for the next idiot.”

The creature blinked it’s bulging eyes and took a moment to consider the incredibly vague and yet highly detailed threat. “Noted. We need to your help to survive. We hate that, but we don’t have any choice in the matter. So, we summoned you.”

“Kidnapped,” he corrected with a trace of sullenness.

“Summoned, kidnapped, same difference,” the creature waved off correction dismissively. “All depends on who’s responsible.”

“I’d still call it kidnapping even if it was a fucking king who did it, and by the laws of my country, I’d be right.” He stated flatly before grimacing as he gave the creature a glare. “So, please, explain to me why I should willingly help you when you’re kidnapping me?”

The creature sighed in irritation, “This was why I was hoping you’d at least be a little hysterical. I suppose that pointing out that we’re your best bet at survival means little?”

“I need to build a dungeon and make a portal, which apparently you can’t do. Something that doesn’t incline me against plotting against you as soon as keeping you around no longer outweighs my resentment at what you did to me.”

“And something to disincline us from doing the same once you’ve seen us out of our predicament, I imagine,” the creature agreed with a frown on its face as it nodded. “Truly, far more trouble than I was expecting.”

“Well, considering I wasn’t expecting to be kidnapped…”

“I suppose a binding contract would be out of the question?”

“Not without incentive.”

That was the crux of the situation. The man refused to just go along with the creatures who had effectively kidnapped him and were trying to press him into their service. On the other side of things…

“And we don’t know that we have anything to offer,” the monster admitted grudgingly as he looked back at the man with guarded eyes. “And we used most of remaining resources to summon you because of the situation.”

“What even is the situation? Hells, what’s your name even?”

“… Sock,” the creature admitted with more than a little reluctance. “And yes, my mother was an evil hag. I took great pleasure in pissing on her grave when I made it my first century older than she ever did.”

“Right,” he noted with a sigh. “I’m Chase. Now, what’s the damned situation?”

“Well, I suppose I should start from the beginning then, hmm?” Sock noted idly before taking a seat on a large stone crudely craved into a stool. “Once upon a time, the world lived in an age of endless glory! Monsters could ravage and pillage at will! The kingdoms were sheep to be slaughtered and we had riches beyond measure!”

“Lemme guess, even the lowliest rat monster had gold to carry around with them?” Chase asked, feeling the situation was more than a little familiar.

“Precisely!” Sock agreed with a pleased look on his face.

“Then someone summoned some heroes?” Chase prompted expectantly.

“… And then someone summoned some heroes,” Sock agreed sullenly, glowering back at him. “You’ve heard this story before.”

“One like it,” Chase admitted. “So, correct me if I’m wrong. Monsters got their hands on the rituals and then did some summoning of their own?”

“It lead to the Dark Age. Everyone summoning beings from other worlds, escalating again and again until finally, the summoned were numerous enough and angry enough to form their own side. They killed everyone that they thought had access to one of the rituals,” Sock stated bluntly.” Then they all just vanished. Well, that’s how they like to tell it at least.”

“It doesn’t really explain my current situation, now does it?” Chase agreed with a slow nod of his head.

“Yes, well, in truth, only most of them vanished. Some of them decided to stick around for whatever reason. They’re the ones who built all the truly grand dungeons.” Sock stated in a matter-of-fact tone. “I used to work for one in my youth.”

“And they just told you how to summon someone?” Chase’s skepticism was heavy as he looked down at the creature, arms crossed.

“Abyss no!” Sock immediately protested. “I stole his journals and spell book while the rebelling Dungeon Lords killed him. I was planning to use it to fund my retirement, but the bastards made even possessing them a death sentence!”

“And you suddenly decided to risk it now because…?” Chase prompted with narrowed eyes.

“Well, that brings us to the modern day,” Sock noted delicately as he looked anywhere but at Chase. “You see, this is Dung Drop if you listen to the Dungeon Lords, or Dirt Hole if you listen to the adventurers.”

Chase had a sudden sinking suspicion. “So, the kind of place new adventurers go?”

“New adventurers, old adventurers… Adventurers interested in  accessing the Dungeon Lands…” Sock admitted with a wince. “We’re the quickest route between the adventurer kingdoms and the dungeon realms.”

“Okay,” Chase took a slow deep breath.” What’s the punchline?”

“The Dungeon Lords have abandoned us,” Sock stated with some degree of irritation. “So, that means no supplies, no funds, no relief and a degree of greedy adventurers.”

“And of course the greedy monsters don’t want to give up their loot,” Chase noted sardonically.

“In my experience, no one, and I do mean No One wants to give up their loot,” Sock protested with a glower. “We monsters are simply better at keeping ours!”

Chase groaned softly as he rubbed his face, “Ok, so let me get this straight.  I’ve been summoned to another world, to save an abandoned, shit hole of a dungeon that is the only way into the Dungeon Lords’ realm, which is filled with loot to be had?”

“Oh, it’s not the only one, just the quickest and most convenient,” Sock noted with a chuckle. “And the safest to boot.”

“… then why don’t you just collapse the entrance?”  Chase asked with a groan. “I mean…”

“Dungeon built stone.” Sock complained as he knocked on the stone wall of the dungeon. “You need major magic or gnomish explosives to damage it. Even then, it’s hard to keep it damaged. The stuff just loves to reconstruct itself.”

“And just leaving is a problem because….?”

“Because then we’d be seen as traitors to be hunted down and executed in the Dungeon Lords’ realm and monsters to be exterminated in the Adventurer Lands,” Sock stated with a growl. “And I’m not going to spend my twilight years being hunted like a rat!”

“Isn’t summoning me a death sentence as it is?” Chase pointed out.

“Of course it is!” Sock sounded affronted that he wasn’t aware of the facts. “But, I’d rather die with a fighting chance.” He paused before reluctantly adding. “And honestly, these old bones are horribly achy, an absolute nightmare to try and run with.”

“In other words, you can’t run, you can’t hide, and you’re hoping that somehow, I’ll be able to make this situation at least survivable,” Chase stated with a grimace of disgust as he could feel the start of a headache building at his temples. “Sock, I do believe I’m developing a particular dislike for you.”

“I suppose it was inevitable at this stage,” Sock noted sadly. “I imagine it means it’s going to cost me even more now?”

“You really need to ask?” Chase demanded incredulously.

“My poor, poor retirement,” Sock bemoaned with a sigh. “Fine, I suppose you want to take the last things of value this poor old monster has?”

“Yes,” Chase agreed with a flat glare. “Mainly because I doubt you stopped at just one or two or even several dozen things to sell.”

Sock’s hunched form slumped forward even more, “So, so cruel to a poor old monster like me! I’m practically at Death’s door as it is! Can’t you show a little pity for an old man like me?”

“If you’re that close to dying, what use to you have for them?” Chase countered with a bit of the stress of the situation starting to edge into his voice.

“Er, well, maybe not that close, but still…” The quick change in Sock’s tone made Chase glare.

“You know what, Sock?” Here’s how we’re going to do this,” Chase stated wearily as he could feel the stress of the situation reaching past his ability to safely ignore. “You’re going to show me where I can get some sleep. I am going to try and deal with all this and then hopefully actually get some of said sleep. You’re going to get together your loot and a meal for me.”

“So, you’re planning to just take all of my wonderfully hard earned…” Sock’s melodramatic protest was cut off by a slash of Chase’s hand.

“Sock, how much of your ill gotten gains will be something I even have a use for?” Chase asked tiredly as he gave the greedy creature a long look.

“It’s the principal of the matter!” Sock protested. “They’re my beloved treasures! I earned them through violence, guild and sneakiness!”

“And if you were expecting me to be impressed, you have only managed to instill me with the desire to see your painfully messy end,” He warned with a glare.

“Fine,” the creature huffed up before his shoulders slumped back down. “I suppose you want me to go get it all together while you have your belated response….”

“Sock… Just take me to a room I can sleep in and go organize your little treasures,” Chase stated with a slow, carefully measured tone. “Otherwise, I cannot guarantee my continued ability to maintain a cordial exchange.”

The monster must have seen or heard the strain in his voice, because its mouth snapped shut while it hobbled to its feet and lead him to a particularly Spartan room with a rickety, straw filled bed.

As it stood, Chase barely seemed to care as he promptly allowed himself to fall into a shock induced oblivion.

 

 

Chapter 1

Chase did not sleep well, not that he expected to. Everything was… He stared up the ceiling of the cave like room. Oblivion had been too short of an experience, at least as far as he could tell.

The whole situation was unreal, he was somehow in a world with monsters. Monsters that talked and reasoned. Monsters that summoned people across dimensions. Monsters that talked about Dungeons and Adventurers. And, of all things: salvation.

That was the word for it though, as much as it left him uncomfortable he was being looked to for salvation. His face twisted in distaste as if he had swallowed something sour that wasn’t something he was particularly keen on, too many people offered it like a drug. Too many empty promises.

He didn’t want to be the one to offer up such false promises and empty possibility.

And then there was Sock and whomever else was responsible for him even being here to begin with. All that left him… It took him a moment to really decide exactly how he was feeling.

Anger. That was at the foremost of all of it. Resentment. Indignation. Fear. Terror.

There was the fact he didn’t even know if he could make his way home. And he knew nothing of what he was getting himself into. Not to mention the politics.

He grimaced. There was only one way to completely ignore politics. That was to be so powerful you are above them. Power he definitely didn’t have.

His life though… A part of him wondered did he even really want to go back?

Besides a handful of friends, distant family, and a few coworkers, was there for him?

Civilization, entertainment, knowledge. Familiarity.

But he was going to end up here for a while. So, he was going to need to figure out exactly what this place had to offer., Sanitation alone…

It was then that he experienced a shift in his perspective. Suddenly, he was aware of the “dungeon” such as it was and he quickly realized it was not much. Along, somewhat twisting cord or that exited the mountain on either side with a cluster of dilapidated rooms in the middle that anyone passing through would be forced to venture through.

It was almost completely worthless, with horribly design layouts that would invariably lead to advantaging the invaders instead of the defenders. And he couldn’t make sense of why it would be like this for anything but a death trap. A death trap for those assigned here.

So, how could he change that?

There was a pulse and he was surprised to see a menu of all things in front of them. Only it wasn’t a menu, not really. It was more of a sudden understanding of the categories of action he was able to take and his mind interpreted that as a menu.

That was his working theory at least.

So. He had options. There was an… understanding ingrained into him. He was able to draw and magic, magic of all things, from the environment. He could feel it, slowly drifting up from the dungeon area like vapor. Not just from the rooms, but all along the long winding corridor.

That gave him something. Now he needed to understand what he can do with it the answer came to him moments later as he realized he could summon… something.

Experimentally, he called forth one whatever it was, causing it to appear before him. It was odd looking, short and chittering, like an insect big bulbous eyes. And just stood there expectantly.

J stared back at it for a long moment, before sighing and trying to figure out what to do next.

And it was not going particularly well at the moment.

“By the abyss, a sprite!” Sock’s voice called out in shock along with the muffled sound of something being dropped. “I haven’t seen a sprite since I was a spawnling!”

“And a sprite does… What exactly?” Chase asked as his brow arched up and he looked at Sock expectantly.

“They build and maintain dungeons of course! They dig, they claim, they fortify, they mine, and they haul!” Sock was looking extremely excited. “With sprites, you can even expand the dungeon!”

Chaise looked blank faced at the little sprite before turning and looking back questioningly at Sock. “Not seen it.”

“Well, not until you give it some commands you won’t,” Sock stated sarcastically. “What, you are expecting a magical construct to have a mind of its own?”

“Not my world,” Chase reminded him. “So, I need to… Ah,” Chase slowly muttered the words to himself as suddenly the sprite began to strike into the wall near him and started creating a new passage. “So that’s how it works.”

He paused before noting the ease with which the sprite made progress through the stone wall. “Dungeon built stone, huh?”

“That’s a sprite! Of course they can work with dungeon built stone without a problem! They’re the ones that make it!” Sock shot back with a huff. “Honestly, I thought you were smarter than that!”

“Well considering the fact that no one mentioned that it was a product of these sprites instead of magical reinforcement done by the builder…”

Sock glowered back at him, irritation visible on his face but did not try to refute him. “You did limited on what it was to build, right? We’re not going to end up with the whole mountain collapsing on us, right?”

“I only had it… huh, gold vein,” Chase blinked for a moment before shaking his head and continuing. “Just making another room this size.”

“Gold?!” Sock’s eyes seemed to gleam as he rubbed his hands together. “Gold is good! Gold is very good!”

“Not that much gold,” Chase corrected with a sigh and a thoughtful hum. “Going to need a lot more to…”

He paused then looked at Sock expectantly. “Sock, start explaining how dungeons work. Now.”

“When did I get drafted into the role of minion?” Sock whined for a moment before he slumped forward even more. “Yes, yes. I know, when we summoned you. Doesn’t mean I have to like it.”

He seemed to take a moment to collect himself before continuing. “Right. Dungeons work off of 3 principal forces. Magical power, used for the creation of magical constructs, instant effects like fireballs, wonderful, wonderful fireballs, and other similar things. Wealth, gold, jewels and other various precious metals that are used to form dungeon territory into a variety of rooms /forms/materials, provided you’ve developed the knowledge and blueprints. Finally, life force is used to increase the power and efficiency of things/creatures. Dungeon Lords typically use it to strength and advance their favored minions.”

“All right, so I can upgrade monsters too, good to know,” Chase muttered a bit under his breath.

“Weeeeeell… Not really. You’d need a Dungeon Lord for that. Dungeon Lords use life force on minions, Builders on items and dungeons,” Sock corrected with a shake of his head. “It’s how they were able to overthrow the Builders to begin with. Personal advancement and power.”

“At the cost of equipment and locations,” Chase finished as he frowned a bit at the implications.

“Eventually, yes. At first the Dungeon Lords could still order around some sprites, but without a builder to keep it all together…” Sock’s voice lead off and he shrugged helplessly. “Poof.”

“So, right now the dungeon lords keep control by controlling who gets stronger and who doesn’t,” Chase stated before taking slumping back in resignation. “Right, so how is life force gathered?”

“The joys of dungeons! You should acquire a small amount for every living creature in your dungeon. This increases with strenuous activity such as fighting, or running away after barely surviving a situation. This can backfire as you end up training adventurers to be stronger inadvertently. I recommend just raking it all in by just killing them.”

He paused, tapping his chin as he looked thoughtful for a moment. “Of course, the stronger they are, the more lifeforce you can acquire on their death, so all it would likely take would be a sudden difficulty spike at the end to do in most of them.”

Chase grimaced at that. He was rather… squeamish at the thought of deliberately thinking of, or more accurately planning someone’s death. “Other ways?”

“Torture works, takes a bit longer, but with the right effort, quite rewarding,” Sock stated with a disturbingly dreamy voice. “Especially pixies, giggling little empty headed pieces of dew droppings!”

“Please don’t ever do that again,” Chase stated flatly as the disturbing sight of Sock sounding so very dreamy about the idea of torturing the creatures made him shudder. “Ok, more gold. Now, let’s see…”

The layout of the dungeon was pretty abysmal Chase noted before grimacing. Level design. It was coming back to the job he’d so recently been let go from.

He pushed down the feelings of frustration lingering over it. He could deal with it another time. “So, exactly what can I… huh.”

That… was going to be problematic.

“Is there a problem, builder?” Sock asked with a frown.

“Yes,” he agreed with a look of displeasure on his face. “I have rather… limited options. As in, I can make sprits, living quarters, and something called a slop pit.”

“Oh! I haven’t seen a slop pit since I was a wee young thing! They convert ambient mana into nutritious slop for your creatures!”  Sock exclaimed before admitting. “Not very tasty of course, but, nutritious!”

“… Right,” Chase stated as he thought about things for a lingering moment. “Well, that’s something at least. How am I supposed to be able to build more rooms?”

“Find the plans, design them, buy them…” Sock started to list off as he tilted his head to the side. “Have some minions research them… There are a broad variety of ways to approach it.”

“Research, right…” Chase muttered under his breath before frowning as he realized he wasn’t sure what a research room would really be, beyond some tables and book shelves as well as the corresponding chairs.

As he visualized it, he could feel what the amount of gold it would take to make such a room solidify in his mind. “That…”

Then he stopped himself and looked back at Sock. “Show me what you brought, Sock.”

“Ugh, I had hoped you’d forgotten about that,” Sock noted with a pained sigh then back to the entry way to the room, no door Chase absently, and pulled out a heavy burlap sack that looked twice the creature’s size. “You know, yu could make a sprite to help poor old Sock.”

“I was always told that manual labor builds character, Sock,” Chase drawled out in response as he crossed his arms about his chest. “I figured you’d appreciate me helping you with your deficiencies.”

Sock paused, staring in disbelief for a moment before grumbling audibly. “Of course you’d say that. What, is that some sort of Dungeon Builder code?”

Chase shook his head. “No, just sounds like your previous Dungeon Builder came from where I did.”

“Well, then maybe you can read this,” Sock said as he pulled out a leather bound journal and deftly tossed it at Chase.

Blinking as he caught it, Chase flipped it open and then glanced through it. “You can’t read this?”

“I barely read dungeon script, let alone whatever that is,” Sock stated with a huff while crossing his arms. “And I do just fine without it, thank you very much!”

There was a pause before Sock’s curiosity got the better of him and he asked, “What’s it say?”

To Chase, the tome, while written by someone with handwriting worse than his own, was plainly in English. After a bit of silence while he read, he closed the journal and pondered what exactly he’d found. It was… unexpected. Both disappointing and yet, welcome at the same time.

“Well?!” Sock demanded when after a moment of silence he failed to get an answer. “What’s it about?!”

“Civil engineering.” At Sock’s blank look, Chase grinned slightly. “Specifically, how to create sewage systems, septic treatement…”

“Running water?!” Sock demanded, a sudden zealous look on his face. “Please, by all that’s bad and unholy, tell me you can make running water!”

“Hum…” Chase opened the journal up again and began to brose through it again. “Hot and cold, temperature control, exceptionally big rooms, bath houses… Huh, I now know how to make a public library and a school.”

“Who cares about that other rubbish!? Hot water baths! Do you know how many dungeons have hot running water?! Three! One of them it only works half the time and its horribly awkwardly designed, but they’re still the three most popular dungeons!” Sock looked positively rapturous. “You have to read that! Cover to cover! Who knows what other wonders it holds!”

“Right,” Chase drawled out before shaking his head. “What else is there?”

“… You have the unholy grail of luxury, and you want more?!” Sock demanded incredulously. “Is there no end to your greed?!”

Chase ignored the hypocrisy of Sock’s statement as he responded. “This saves me time. But, I already knew the underlying principles of this stuff.” Well, of vaulted ceiling construction and using gravity to create water pressure and a heat source over pipes to make hot water. The septic system was a godsend, not that he was going to tell Sock that. “I just don’t have to do the trial and error now. I only really needed two things to make running water.”

Sock boggled at that. “But, but…!”

“Hot water is just as simple, but it requires running water to work right. Beyond that…” Chase grunted as he realized a few things. “I’m going to need to completely redo this dungeon. And find a safe water source and…”

Sighing softly he pondered things. “How suspicious would it be for the entrances of this dungeon to collapse and then reveal another dungeon nearby?”

“Terribly suspicious, but not unheard of,” Sock admitted with a slight nod of his head. “The builders did have a number of private projects after all.”

“Right,” Chase nodded his head. “Does the dungeon stone extend all the way to the entrances?”

“Never,” Sock stated flatly. “After all, the… well, most of the builders weren’t stupid. Some of them were questionable.”

“So, the trick will be to figure out how to mimic a natural collapse, or at least make it happen in a way we can believably blame on the adventurers,”  Chase mused thoughtfully.

“You’re plotting!” Sock suddenly exclaimed before grinning evilly. “Plotting is good! Not something builders are usually good at mind you, but…”

“Most builders were likely summoned to do just that, build. At least, that’s what I imagine. And I guess that well, ‘magic’ here has at least some sympathetic properties?” Chase mused as he allowed a bit of his inner fantasy pen and paper RPG geek to shine through.

“Err… Sympathetic properties?” Sock repeated as he looked more than a little confused. “I’m afraid that magic tends to be rather merciless, quite admirably so really, though not as much in a tool”

“Intent influences/guides its effects,” Chase clarified with a snort.

“Oh! Well, yes. Why didn’t you just say that to begin with?” Sock demanded with a grumble.

Chase opened his mouth, then shut it for a moment before replying. “… We’re not actually speaking English, are we?”

“What in the name of the pits made you think we speaking the Builder’s… tongue,” Sock trailed off in his statement before looking slightly sheepish. “Right, Builder.”

“Multiple meanings for the same word,” Chase admitted with a sigh and a grimace. “Just be glad I’m not Japanese. Then you’d really be in trouble.”

“I’m afraid to ask,” Sock admitted after a moment of thought.

“They’re crazy. You’d get…” Chase paused a moment as he thought about it before continuing. “Well, you might’ve found it amusing. That or mind scarringly horrible.”

“How horrible could it possibly-…” Sock started to protest before Chase actually answered him.

“Teenaged girl, obsessed with love and justice, insisting on wearing inappropriately frilly and nonsensical garments, making you and everyone else in the dungeon look cute, with a love of bright and or pastel color schemes and an architectural style of ‘cutesy.’”

“Excuse me a moment, I think I’m going to vomit,” Sock swayed over to a corner and proceeded to do just that before looking back at him with a horrifyingly haggard expression. “That was a truly horrible image.”

“You’re lucky,” Chase noted his head. “You just have to imagine it. I’ve actually seen what they come up with and worse.

“What could be worse than that?!” Sock paused as he realized exactly what he said and tried to back step it. “Wait, I take it back, I don’t want to know!”

“Turning you into a pretty, effeminate male with the brain of a female, interested in other males so they could watch!” Chase stated with an entirely too satisfied cold, dark grin.

“”I told you, I didn’t want to know!” Sock whined as the image started to play throughout his mind.

“And?” Chase asked back with a sweet smile. “Sharing is caring after all!”

“No, no its not!” Sock protested vehemently. “Are all Builders some cabal of secret sadists, cloaking their intent with honeyed words and declarations of well meaning?!”

“You mean, are we all trolls?” Chase asked with a faint bit of amusement.

“Why would you be one of those smelly, stupid brutes?” sock asked, suddenly looking confused.

“Right, language,” Chase muttered sourly and sighed. “In my language, troll is also a fishing technique, using a bait and hook and waiting for a fish to bite it. Because of that, it also came to mean a person that says or writing something specifically to get a reaction out of someone else, hooking them in when they do.”

“For what purpose?” Sock asked, as he tried to wrap his head around the concept.

“Typically?” Chase answered after a moment’s thought. “Personal amusement.”

“All of you, evil to the core!” Sock muttered under his breath. “And not in the good way!”

Chase chuckled as he didn’t bother to deny it. In a lot of ways, it was evil. But, he was currently trolling the evil little bastard that was responsible for his kidnapping. He figured that evened things out.

“That, or we hold grudges exceptionally well,” Chase couldn’t help but point out. “I know which the case is personally.”

“Right then, I’ll just be going and leaving you to…” Sock started to say as he realized what Chase was implying, his hand reaching slowly towards his sack.

“Sock,” Chase interrupted with a look of casual foreboding. “You weren’t thinking of doing something to make me even more irritated with you, no were you?”

Sock froze in place, trying to look back at him innocently. “Err… now, why would I do a thing like that?”

“Because you’re a greedy little bastard who thinks more about grabbing things than about what grabbing them will cost him.”

“Typically you grab things because you don’t want to pay for them,” Sock noted as he stared longingly at his bag of treasures.

“And in this case, grabbing them costs you a drastic increase in my irritation with you,” Chase clarified with a glare.

“I suppose that would be a bad thing,” Sock reluctantly admitted.

“A very bad thing,” Chase stressed with narrowed eyes.

“Right, then I suppose I’ll just be going then,” Sock stated nervously as he slowly slipped back out of the room, giving his sack one last, longing look before leaving it behind.

Chase watched him go, then breathed out a deep, long sigh. Things… Well, he needed to study the book. And he needed to figure out the rest of Socks’ things.

Now the question was prioritizing… And finding out if the author if the journal had decent bed designs somewhere in this.