Harem Heroes: Heaven’s Gold Spear / Chapters 28-31


 

Been too long since I updated this. I promised I would post the entirety of the novel on this site, and I intend to do so. 


Chapter 28: Silas’s Expedition

Silas adjusted his headband with a harrumph and turned to face his two companions, Beatrice Vanderhousen and John Vasher Senior. They’d been chatting amicably for a few hours, not bothering to ask Silas where they were headed or how long it would take. They were too old for such foolishness. He was thankful for that. He’d never traveled with two older humans before, well past their prime in all honesty. But he’d known John since he was a boy, in truth he’d always been a bitter old man, his body just had to catch up with him.

The man had been terminally sick for a long while, Silas was honestly surprised that he was still able to move about. Although, that might have to do with that armor of his. That and that peculiar magic he knew. Indeed, the elder Vasher wore gleaming white metal plate, inlaid with ruby spheres at the joints. It was a magical artifact that Lord Vasher had obtained in his youth, a very powerful artifact that had earned him fame and infamy in equal amounts. The Lady Vanderhousen wore more mundane clothes, white blouse and red trousers with travelling boots. Though the sword by her side, Silas could sense, was also a magical artifact of some kind.

“Silas, what are the chances we’ll see my son?” Lord Vasher called out.

Silas pulled at his beard in thought.

“Unlikely I’d say. He’s a statesman not a fighter. You did your best to train him in the art of the sword, but he’d simply be a liability on the battlefield. Delilah is clever, she would likely keep him back and install him as a puppet ruler after her forces take Vasherton.”

Lady Vanderhousen wiped her brow.

“What of my daughter? Do you think she’ll be safe with that Rupert fellow?”

“Safe as the situation allows. Ice Queens are very powerful creatures, and they can control the ice and snow of their surroundings with ease. Rupert can cast several powerful healing spells and knows some enchantments for increasing speed, strength, reaction time, and things like that. She’s a fairly decent swordsman, though she has trouble with less conventional opponents like slimes, elementals, and other opponents that can’t be attacked in melee combat.”

As they walked in the sun, Lord Vasher groaned.

“I’m not a whiner, Old friend, but my patience is getting thin. I thought you knew where this tomb was? We’ve been travelling over a day now.”

“I said I knew the general direction. And here I thought I was lucky you weren’t pestering me all the while like a child. I suppose humans never grow up, hmm? We’ll be there soon, I think. It shouldn’t take another day. I can feel some powerful magic coming from that direction.” Silas pointed a finger out into the sand dunes. “I imagine that’s what we’re looking for. By the pace we’re going we’ll get there around nightfall.”

Lady Vanderhousen hummed to herself in thought.

“What are the chances enemy forces have already made it there?”

“Knowing Delilah, 50/50 chance I’d say. She’s smart but easily distracted. She’ll have definitely sent someone to fetch the Sands. Whether or not she sends them quickly though is the question. Regardless, I’m quite sure we can deal with whatever she can do.”

Silas suddenly stopped and held out his staff. He could feel something in the air. Yes, a powerful magic. This was it.

“We’re here.”

Beatrice scrunched up her face in confusion.

“There’s nothing here.”

Lord Vasher placed a hand on her shoulder.

“Let the old elf do his work, Lady Vanderhousen. I’ve known him most my life, and he’s hardly ever wrong.”

Silas had to admit, it was nice dealing with people who didn’t grate on his nerves for once. He held up his staff above his head and began to chant. He could feel the magic more clearly as he spoke. It was underground. It was deep underground. As he chanted the earth beneath them rumbled and shifted. Silas stood still, unperturbed. Beatrice and John did their best to keep their footing, but soon they were on their knees as the shifting earth became more violent.

Silas’s eyes burned a fiery green, and from the shifting sands, great buildings of alabaster stone erupted from under the sands. All around the three compatriots, a great ruined city unfolded, sand flowing away in great rivulets, leaving sandstone roads and empty homes of a bygone era. Silas’s chanting seemed to echo across the desert as Beatrice and John were forced on all fours to steady themselves from the great waves of earth reforming itself to bring this ancient city back to the surface.

Finally, some hundreds of yards off, the tip of a great pyramid broke the surface. It continued growing at a rapid pace, reaching out to the sky and towering over the rest of the buildings and ruins. As the base of the massive structure came into sight, a grand and opulent entrance was brought into view. It was paved with alabaster stone, and flanked on either side by great stone columns inlaid by lapis lazuli. The gate itself was solid gold, decorated with the familiar scarab and cobra motifs of the ancient desert region civilization. Finally, on either side of the gate were two dark basalt statues of fierce warriors, as if guarding the slumbering Pharaoh within.

Silas ceased his chanting and his eyes returned to normal. The earth laid still, and his companions returned to their feet.

“Good work, you old elf! Well done!” Lord Vasher exclaimed, clapping Silas on the shoulder.

Silas winced at the blow

“Watch yourself, you old man, that armor of yours does more than keep you from dying.”

“Hah, Sorry about that. Don’t usually wear it outside of battle.”

“Congratulations are indeed in order, Silas. I thank you.” Beatrice said, looking about the ruins.

Silas waved his hand in a dismissive fashion.

“Yes, yes, I’m amazing. We need to get going. We’re against the clock if you’ll remember.”

Lord Vasher nodded.

“Aye. I remember. But if you were the one to raise these ruins then I imagine we won’t be finding your demon friend inside.”

“That may be so, but the tomb is large, and most assuredly full to the brim with traps… and very possibly, monsters meant to protect the slumber of the Pharaoh. If we delay, they’ll catch up to us quickly. I guarantee it.”

With a self-confident sneer, the elder Vasher strode forward.

“Well then, what are waiting for? Let’s get to it. The quicker we get these Sands the quicker we get back and save my city.”

The three of them approached the gate of the tomb with confident strides. Their footsteps echoed in the empty dusty remains of the ancient city, and as they approached the gates, they realized that they were far larger than they first appeared. They found the gate locked, of course, and though Silas was ready to blast the doors down with another spell, Lady Vanderhousen placed a hand on his, and lowered his staff.

“Allow me, Silas. I’ve yet to contribute.”

The old elf nodded. He didn’t believe women should be on the battlefield generally, but Lady Vanderhousen was a champion, a rare individual endowed with the power of heaven. Even he had to admit that she was an asset in the field.

She took a battle stance and unsheathed her blade, a long silvery sword, with a simple cross guard and round pommel. The only ornamentation was a red cord and tassel wrapped at the end of the pommel by Beatrice herself.

With a single swipe of her blade, the sword glowed blue and the gate, though at first unscathed, broke apart in two pieces, falling with a clang onto the stone.

“Shall we?” she said, as she tucked her sandy blonde hair behind her head and sheathed her blade once more.

Silas looked up at the intimidating statues guarding the entrance of the tomb and made a note of the fact that they were male. A small fact that might go unappreciated by most. But to him it signified the truth that the current order of things was not permanent. This tomb was ancient, older than the current Overlord’s regime. What strange things they might encounter inside were set and forgotten before he was even born. For an elf, that was an impressive thing.

He let the thoughts pass as he led his small band inside, and with a murmur cast a light emitting spell from his staff.

The entrance of the tomb was a large tunnel, decorated on either side by hieroglyphs and pictures of the slumbering Pharaoh’s youth. It was the fashion of the extinct peoples of the desert region to document the lives of their entombed god-kings along the walls of their tombs. Silas had read about such things, but never before seen them in person. He wished he were here for some other purpose, as the colorful pictures on the wall fascinated him. If only he had time to study them.

Beatrice and John Sr. let their eyes wonder as well, feasting their gaze on the stylized representations of Zipporah’s life. The very entrance showcased what Silas guessed must have been her father and her mother, the next several pictures showed a grand wedding ceremony and gifts being brought from afar. Gold, silver, jewels, magical artifacts, exotic birds, horses, livestock, and slaves were depicted as being given to the bride and groom in lavish ceremony. The gold and silver, Silas noted, was inlaid with gold and silver to make it all the more realistic.

As they approached the end of the long tunnel, high above the threshold was a picture of a little baby, with rays of light emanating from its form, the rays of light being inlays of gold.

“They sure did waste a lot of wealth in building these tombs.” Lord Vasher sneered.

“The Pharaohs of old were given power directly by the chief god. They had powers akin to a lesser deity and were seen as such by their populace. According to their religion they were gifts from heaven to rule over them and lead them against the forces of death and darkness. As the legends have it the old peoples of the desert region fought against monsters better than any in the days of old, their Pharaoh’s having inordinate amounts of power.”

Lord Vasher laughed.

“Hah! Well they couldn’t have been that powerful, they’re all dead!”

Silas rolled his eyes.

“They were very effective in their time. As it so happens, they overused their godly powers and sealed themselves away to recover. Some new monster plagued them, a dark serpent with the power of the nether realm pulsing in its blood.”

Beatrice turned to Silas with concern on her face.

“What creature might that be? To give the Pharaohs pause?”

“They called it Apophis. A dark serpent more deadly than a basilisk.”

“Have you ever seen one?” Beatrice asked, curious.

Silas shook his head as he continued walking.

“No. I’ve only read of them in books. I’ve no idea what they might be like now, but I dearly hope we don’t run across one.”

The three passed the threshold into a small rectangular chamber bare of any decoration. However, what they saw gave them pause. There were three doorways, leading off into darkness. But what concerned all three of them were not the passages, but the lit torches hung by the doorways. Silas extinguished his light.

“Something is alive in here.” Beatrice noted.

John Sr nodded. “It would be foolish to split up, so I’m hoping none of you suggest it. Especially now that we know there are in fact monsters here.”

Silas agreed. “I was going to say the same thing. Vasher, you get in front. That armor of yours will act as a good shield for us. Lady Vanderhousen, you’d be best in the middle, to strike at enemies from the front and back. I’ll take the rear and keep our back safe. I’ve the best hearing of the group after all.”

With that agreed on, the three gathered into formation and chose to go down the center path. All along the walls, which were decorated only with etched hieroglyphs, were lit torches, making the experienced band nervous. They heard nothing but the crackle of flame and saw nothing but the walls lit with a warm glow.

As they continued, they began to notice that the once smooth floor was replaced with stone blocks, and the passage was becoming narrower. Briefly they discussed going back and starting from another passage. In the end they decided to keep going since it was thought that this might be a way to deter would-be intruders from the prize that they were after.

Lord Vasher stopped the troupe when he spotted something rather peculiar. The way ahead had its floor painted, with several blocks painted blue, and others painted with large red Xs.

“Well isn’t this curio-” He began coughing heavily, brought his knees by great spasms. Beatrice knelt beside him, a hand on his back in comfort.

“I thought that armor of yours would keep you healthy, Lord Vasher” She commented with concern in her voice.

“It keeps me healthy enough.” He brushed her away and attempted to stand, but after several false starts he grunted in frustration as he accepted her help, “I hate this old body of mine.”

Beatrice smiled faintly.

“Age comes for us all I’m afraid.”

Silas walked past them and looked at the strange floor.

“John, do you think you can make it? Be honest with me.”

Lord Vasher stood with a self-confident grin on his face.

“Haven’t heard you call me John in years… heh. I can make it, you old geezer. I’m not dead yet.”

Silas smiled, “look who’s calling who old.” But his smile did not last. “Are you sure you can go on? That illness of yours… no one has been able to heal it, magic or no. That armor you have rejuvenates you and gives you strength and stamina in great amounts. But the fact remains you have a limited amount of time left. If you collapse like that at the wrong moment, we’ll fail.”

Silas fixed his steely gaze at Lord John Vasher XV, and was greeted with a steely gaze in turn. Green eyes met blue, and the master of Vasherton nodded.

“It won’t happen again.”

Silas didn’t believe him.

“Good. Then let’s discuss this paint on the floor.”

“It’s obviously a trap,” Beatrice said. “Misdirection, to get us to follow the blue path. Most likely that’s the actual way to death.”

Lord Vasher shook his head.

“No, I don’t think so. Most likely there’s no trap at all, and this is just meant to stall. Why else would you bother? Just leave it bare.”

Silas however, was of a different opinion.

“I think its genuine.”

His two companions looked at him incredulous.

“Use your heads. These tombs were fashioned in the days before the Succubus took over the Demon Throne. So they would have built them assuming thieves, and monsters would be the ones attempting to infiltrate them. But,” he held up a finger. “the monsters they tamed to guard over their Pharaohs most assuredly metamorphosized along with the others. Meaning they no longer wish to kill humans, but capture them. So the Anubises, Sphinxes, Mummies, and the like still inside this tomb most likely have attempted to make the tomb less deadly, so that they can capture their prey.”

Beatrice nodded her head slowly, one hand on her chin.

“Ah, yes. That makes sense. All so that they can mate with them before they kill them. Yes, it makes sense.”

Silas had forgotten briefly that the Church of the Omnipotent still taught that monsters devoured humans. Misconceptions still plagued mankind. Silas supposed it was for the best. After all, who knew how many fool humans might end up like David if they knew the truth.

“Well that’s all well and good,” Lord Vasher crossed his arms, a skeptical scowl on his face. “but we won’t know until one of us actually goes down the corridor.”

Silas nodded in agreement.

“I’ll do it. If something happens, I’m the most skilled to deal with it.”

The other two gave weak protests, but Silas silenced them with a glare. He cast a few protective spells over him to prevent damage from spikes, fire, acid, and everything else he could think of before finally stepping onto the blue-painted stone. As he predicted, nothing happened.

He followed the path to the end of the painted section of stone with nothing of note happening and gave a wave for the other two to join him. As they continued on, they found more stones painted with red Xs and other painted blue. Once, Lord Vasher mistakenly stepped on a red X, and they all very nearly had a heart attack as an enormous metal spike fell from the roof down on top of him. Luckily, he reached up with his hands in time, and the armor he wore stood firm, keeping him safe. From then on, they all made absolutely sure to stay on the blue path.

As they walked, Silas couldn’t help but feel as if they were being watched. He attempted several times to cast a scrying spell, but something in the tomb was blocking it. Whether that was a runic spell of a bygone age, or someone actively thwarting him, he was uncertain.

Finally, they arrived at another open chamber; this time with three more passages. This time, however, there were markings on the floor of each passage. The right-most one had a red X, the center, painted solid blue. But the last one, was painted with a purple heart.

They all agreed to try for the center passage again.

With a start, Silas felt the stones beneath him give way. John and Beatrice scrambled to grab ahold of anything in the narrow passage, but there was nothing but the smooth walls and sconces. With a thud, all three of them landed in a large room, the largest one yet.

This room had various passageways all along its walls, and pillars holding up the floors that they had just passed over.

“I don’t like this, Silas.” Muttered John Sr.

“Nor do I.” said Beatrice.

Silas agreed and grabbed hold of them, attempting to teleport back up to the floor they were on. He felt sick as his spell failed.

“Damn it.”

Lord Vasher turned to him, a scowl on his face.

“What?! What is it?!”

“Something is preventing me from teleporting! Earlier I couldn’t scry either!”

Deep from within the passageways surrounding the room, soft moaning could be heard along with the shuffling of feet. All three of them shared a look as Beatrice unsheathed her sword, John Sr did the same, and Silas readied a fireball in his off hand. Silas was glad that not all his spells were denied him.

From within the darkness appeared a shambling creature covered head to toe in dusty linen, arms outstretched. A mummy. Silas wasn’t too worried. After all, they were weaker creatures. However, even as that thought crossed his mind, several more creatures shambled out of different passageways. First, one, then two, then four, then eight. More and more began appearing, all moaning and stretching out their arms grasping at the air. The chamber filled with noise.

Soon there were easily a hundred of them surrounding the three.

Without a second’s hesitation, Beatrice leaped into action, her blade slicing cleanly through the creatures with ease, a blue light following her every swing. But as she did so, they did not stop living. They groaned as she cut them apart, true, but while on the floor their linens came alive, and grasped at the fallen parts of their bodies, reattaching them and in seconds, they were back up, grasping at the intruders.

Lord Vasher joined Lady Vanderhousen with his own blade, slicing them not with magic, but the brute force allowed him thanks to his plate. He attempted to stomp on the heads of those he felled, but they were surprisingly strong, and were able to catch his foot as it came down. Silas was finding more luck with his fire, already driving off a large contingent of them. He hadn’t slain any, they suddenly became quite a bit faster when faced with mortal peril, but he had driven off many back into their tunnels.

Meanwhile, Lady Vanderhousen seemed to be taking the brunt of the attack, with several Mummies throwing themselves at her, attempting to restrain her. She cut them down as quick as she could, but several of the torsos at her feet grabbed ahold of her, and she stumbled, allowing more of the creatures to dogpile her, ripping at her clothes. With a heave and snarl, she stood up, throwing the creatures off, and retreated towards Lord Vasher.

The mummies it seemed, had lost the will to fight, and were retreating, gathering up their severed arms and legs as they did so. Silas held John Sr back from following them. He expected that this was only a scouting party, and that there were far more of the creatures deeper inside the tunnels.

As the Mummies retreated, one of them had the linen on her head fall off, showing not a hideous corpse, but the comely face of a woman. Though all three knew what they must have looked like, it still startled them, ever so slightly.

“Well it could have been worse.” Vasher said with a sigh as he sheathed his sword.

“We got careless. The paint might help keep us from immediate death, but they’ll still come after us and send us to non-lethal traps.” Beatrice said.

Silas couldn’t help but agree. He should have seen this coming. As he looked about the room, he rubbed his eyes in frustration. They’d have to choose one of those to go down. He couldn’t teleport and the floor above them was too high to jump up to. He tried to remember if any of the chambers hadn’t contained any mummies.

With a grumble he chose one and lead the way. He hoped they’d be able to find the damn treasury before something more powerful came their way.

As they wandered through several passages, this time with choice of stairs, they had no choice but to follow the blue paint. No more monsters accosted them as they continued their way for several hours. All of them were getting agitated, and annoyed. After a long time, they found themselves in a very large chamber, the largest yet, with a dome-like ceiling, and decorated more like a palace throne-room. For a moment, Silas panicked, thinking they might have stumbled across Zipporah’s chamber. But thankfully, there was no sign of a sarcophagus.

The room was littered with jars, shelves, scrolls, and statues of basalt, alabaster, and gold.

“Is this the treasury?” Beatrice asked, tracing her fingers along a basalt statue of a jackal.

Silas looked about, wondering that himself. It seemed too easy.

Suddenly, there was a low rumbling sound. Silas, Beatrice, and John Sr were startled to find that the many entrances to the chamber began to seal themselves off, trapping the three inside. From the top of the dome, several circular holes appeared as sand poured out of them and into the chamber. Silas cursed as he ran to one of the sealed entrances and shot forth a spell of concussive force. A great bolt of green light shot forth from his staff and hit the stone. But rather than destroy it as it should, several exotic hieroglyphic runes glowed about the stone door in a blue light, and the spell dissipated.

Silas’s eyes widened in surprise as he turned to another door, and another, the same scene playing out every time. He cast a bubble shield around him and the other two as the sand came up to their knees. Hopefully he could get them out of there before they suffocated to death. He shifted his spells to the walls and ceiling, to no avail, the same runes appearing every time and absorbing every spell.

Beatrice slashed her blade at every surface she could, leaving the safety of the bubble shield, and wading through the sand. Just like Silas’s spells, the waves of destruction were absorbed, and no harm came to the walls.

“Well this is just great! We escape one trap, and wander into another!” Lord Vasher barked as he stood helplessly within the shield.

Silas agreed, but wasn’t sure what else to do. They were doing their best given the information they had. He had no way of knowing how to navigate the tomb, and they had to persevere. They couldn’t leave without the Sands of Plenty. He snarled as he wracked his brain for a good spell.

He had it. Or at least he thought he did. The spells he had used so far, plus Beatrice’s weapon, used forms of energy. What if he used simple matter instead? With a wave of his hand he gathered a great deal of the sand and held it aloft in the air. Silas compressed it as much he could into a cylindrical shape, with a point at its end.

With a great heave he thrust it forward, and made satisfying contact with the blocked passage. With a smile, he rammed it again and again. The barrier cracked with every beat, and just as the sand was about to get so high as to keep Silas from even seeing the door, it broke, the stone shattering and tumbling behind.

Then, rather curiously, the sand stopped flowing, and froze in midair. The sand then began to reverse its flow, as if it was being pulled up and back into the holes from whence it came. All three individuals looked on curiously, readying themselves.

All at once, the torches went out as the last of the sand flowed back into the holes, and the holes sealed themselves. But rather than pitch darkness, the dome above them glowed brightly with tiny pinpricks of light, like shining stars. Among the faux stars, in the middle of the dome was a large silver disk, that glowed like the moon. A gentle laugh could be heard echoing through the chamber putting the three on edge.

“Wonderful! Absolutely wonderful! You three are beautifully skilled. Especially the elf! I’m so glad you made it this far~!”

The voice was that of a woman’s, though deep and throaty, with a slight squeal of delight at the end of her sentences. Silas shifted his gaze over the room, attempting to locate the source to no luck. However, he did notice the rest of the doors unsealing themselves, opening up he presumed not to let them out, but let something else in.

“I’m dreadfully sorry about all the traps. They were here long before I was, and I’ve done my best to get my servants to render them harmless, but without a man’s mana, they just aren’t all that bright.”

The disembodied voice this time was accompanied by the sound of something smooth scraping on stone.

“You know it’s been rather lonely down in the earth these few years. No real conversation save my little pet, and she was getting rather bored herself. Imagine my surprise when I felt the tomb returning to the surface! My surprise… and excitement.”

From the dark passageways, once more a small army of bandaged creatures entered the chamber. They walked slowly, but deliberately, this time not in random waves, but in formations. They poured into the chamber by the dozen, and before they knew it they were surrounded on all sides by mummies, silent this time, numbering perhaps five hundred.

“Cute aren’t they? I’ve often lamented that poor Zipporah had no Anubises or Sphinxes to turn, but I’ve learned to love these servants of mine. So loyal and obedient. they’ve been waiting centuries for someone to wander in here. I wonder, did you come here for treasure? Or something else?”

Beatrice gave an uncharacteristic grunt as she shouted

“’Show yourself! I, Lady Beatrice Vaughn Vanderhousen, command you!”

“Oh that’s cute! She thinks she has authority here. No dear girl, I’m afraid not.”

“I’m no mere girl, monster.”

“No, I suppose you aren’t. You are a bit older, you all are, really. But I’ll fix all that. I owe you after all, for unearthing this place.”

Silas decided now was the time for a more proactive approach.

With a gesture and incantation he knelt at the ground and laid his palm flat on the surface of the stone. In a flash, a great earthen hand, not unlike the one David had used on him, reached out and batted several of the Mummies away. His companions took that as a sign to fight, unsheathing their blades and preparing to slice every mummy apart that they could. Silas, however, had another idea, and a curved wall in the shape of a “C” shot up out of the earth to keep them away from the horde, and two more walls formed leading to one of the passageways.

“C’mon! let’s go!” Silas said as he ran towards the exit.

John Sr and Beatrice gave each other a look before chasing after him. The walls, however, did not reach very high, and soon the mummies climbed over it and ran after them, much faster than before.

The disembodied voice yelled after them, demanding its servants chase them down, laughing all the while. Silas found the tunnels a labyrinthian maze, and there were no red Xs to warn them of any traps or dangers. Though he supposed that was a good thing, meaning there was nothing that could kill them. The horde of mummies was right behind them, the narrow halls helping slow them down. Beatrice would turn around every few seconds and send a wave of blue energy into the crowd, slicing off arms and heads. But that barely did anything. The mummies who were cut down merely stopped to pick up their severed limbs and heads and reattach them while those behind them took their place. It didn’t even thin their numbers.

“Silas!” Lord Vasher cried, “What’s the likelihood the roof will collapse on us if we just drop it to block the way?”

“Unlikely, I think. But I’m not expert on ancient architecture.”

“Well I’m doing it anyway!”

With that, Lord Vasher turned on his heel and crouched before delivering an uppercut to the low ceiling above them. The armor glowed for a brief moment as he did so, and the roof flew apart, rubble filling the passage way… and trapping him inside.

Silas cursed and stopped, as did Beatrice.

“I-Is he alright?” She asked, a tremor in her voice.

“That armor of his would have protected him… except his head was uncovered. That was a damn fool thing to do. I could have done the same thing if he gave me a blasted moment! That damn fool!”

Silas reached out his hand out clawing and pulling at the rubble, trying to extract his foolish friend.

But what happened next stopped him in his tracks.

A passage opened up right next to them, as if the earth simply moved out of the way. Silas and Beatrice turned their attention towards the opening with a start, ready to fight. There was nothing there at first, but then they began to hear voices echoing out from the darkness.

“- telling you it’s this way, dear. Don’t worry so much.”

“I believe you, it’s just that… well I’m curious who raised these ruins, and why we haven’t met anyone ye-”

A short, brown-haired, blue-eyed man, wearing a white furred cloak and accompanied by a tall voluptuous demon walked out of the passageway. Behind them were other monsters that Silas couldn’t make out from the darkness.

He locked his green eyes to David’s blue, whose face was as shocked as his.

Silas steadied himself with a breath and strode forward confidently, though in truth he was quite nervous. It seemed David really was working with Delilah after all. He hated being right.

“So, it seems we meet again, David. Care for a rematch? You won’t last long this time, I assure you. I won’t underestimate you again.”

David narrowed his gaze and got into a fighting position.

“You and I could have been friends Silas, just remember, it’s your fault we aren’t.”

“He says, standing next to a demon.”

And then he struck.

Chapter 29: David vs Silas II

David and Nona’s love-making was beyond satisfying, the both of them almost instinctually aware of what the other one liked. David found that while Ophelia and Delilah were always squealing and smiling at his clumsy attempts at sex, they would also help guide him to become a more skillful lover. Nona on the other hand, made no suggestions, as for whatever reason, he instinctually knew what she liked. Holding each other tightly in each other’s arms and just slowly copulating with tender kisses were what she wanted, and what David provided.

It was not a frenzy, or manic display of wanton sexuality, but merely a loving embrace by someone who cared very deeply about him. He relished in her hug, and happily engaged in what he was so hesitant towards just early that day. With frequent kisses and longing looks in each other’s eyes, they finished their frolicking, and David could feel the bond between them strengthen immediately. It was as Nona and the others had said. His power over earth had greatly increased just from one bout of love-making.

They crossed the chasm with ease, as David was able to create a bridge with naught but a gesture. In no time at all they were on their way, following Delilah who held her device tightly. Though she assured David that they’d know if Silas were anywhere near the tomb, he remained skeptical. In fact, he wouldn’t be surprised one bit if the old elf was somehow able to mask himself from such sorcery. He’d lived a long life after all. He might even have shielded himself from such scrying ability so long ago he’d forgotten about it.

The others continued their chatting with him, attempting to get closer to him. Now that he was… open… to their advances, they were shameless with their flirting. Lakshmi especially like holding his arm and leaning into him, pressing her body onto his and acting innocent. No one stopped her, or even commented on it, rather, they all did the same. Calypso grabbed at his other arm, not being much of a conversationalist. Arsa, meanwhile bombarded him with dirty thoughts of she and him kissing obscenely as her tentacles writhed about his naked form, grabbing at his groin.

He decided after a while to leave them and walk in front with Delilah.

When they came to the ruins of Zipporah’s tomb, David was immediately on edge. The ruins, according to Delilah, should have been deep underground. While Ophelia and the others were quick to assume the ruins were raised a long time ago, and Delilah’s information outdated, David wasn’t so sure.

The fact that the golden doors to the tomb had been destroyed told him that Silas was definitely ahead of them. Though Delilah insisted that he would have shown up on her device.

They didn’t have to worry about traps or getting lost in the maze of tunnels within, as David could easily move the earth in front of them and create new passageways as they needed them. They followed Delilah’s device as David lead the way, removing obstacles and creating new paths whenever needed. They met no resistance along the way, which all found strange. Though Nona smiled happily and simply declared it good luck.

Staring Silas in the face, David thought it more the opposite.

Silas struck out with a red bolt of energy that David intercepted with an earthen wall, though it proved too weak to hold up, blasting apart and throwing the entire group backwards down the tunnel. David crossed his arms in front of him to erect a wall behind them, to keep them from falling backwards any farther.

David heard a woman’s voice up above him, and saw a figure talking to Silas.

“Go on ahead! I’ll keep them back! You’re the only one that can sense magic.”

“Damn woman, are you daft? He’ll destroy you! Let me take care of this. You can’t possibly stop him and that demon!”

David felt a hand on his shoulder and turned to see the aforementioned demon smiling at him.

“Let’s face him together, Love.”

He smiled and nodded.

“Alright, you and me will face Silas. But I think the rest should carry on to get the Sands, just in case. Give your device to Arsa. Arsa, Ophelia, Lakshmi, and Nona can go fetch it while you, me, and Calypso take him on.”

“So bossy!” she chuckled. “All right, it sounds like a good plan. Arsa?”

Arsanggha appeared with a serious look on her face.

“Yes, Lady Delilah?”

Delilah handed her the device with a smile, and gestured to Ophelia and Nona.

“You lead Nona and Ophelia on ahead. Nona should be able to pave the way just like Love did. Avoid obstacles if you can. When you get the Sands try and contact me telepathically. If the Pyramid blocks it, then find some other way to let me know.”

“At your command, My Lady.” She turned to David and with a smile, blew him a kiss. “Good luck, Sweetie. I’ll be looking forward to celebrating your victory.”

David blushed and smiled in turn, wishing her good luck.

She gathered the others and with a nod, Nona lifted up her dull clawed hand and swiped downward, creating another tunnel to take them away from the battle. Ophelia looked forlornly over her shoulder, twirling her shimmering white hair as she tentatively took a step forward. However, just before she left she turned around and grasped David in a tight hug. Though surprised, David returned it. As they parted, they locked eyes, and she bent down to kiss him chastely on the lips.

“You b-better w-win.”

“What’s with the stutter?” he playfully chided. “I thought you weren’t nervous anymore.”

“Well I-I’m nervous now, o-okay? I mean it. You b-better win!”

David held her hands and longingly gazed into her eyes, a look of determination on his face.

“I will.”

As they left, Calypso slithered to his side.

“If I take off my mask, make sure not to look me in the eyes.”

“I’m aware of what happens when someone looks a basilisk in the eyes, Calypso.”

“Not anymore you don’t.” she smiled at him, “It doesn’t kill. But it does… well, other things.”

David shook his head, exasperated.

“A Succubus Overlord… what strange and interesting times I live in.”

David put it out of his mind as he readied himself for the fight to come. The two women at his side did likewise.

He shot his hand out, palm flat at the rubble, shooting it out of the tunnel and up at Silas and the woman. Silas was ready, however and with a wave of his staff erected an invisible barrier, the rocks broke against it and flew apart onto the wall behind him.

The woman he was with, older with blonde hair with streaks of grey, blue eyes, and a scar along her chin and down to her throat, swung her blade. A great wave of magical blue energy forced its way down at them.

Delilah countered with a spell of her own, a red triangle appeared, and clashed with the blast, folding like a fabric and holding it in a glowing red ball. She spread her wings wide and crouched down before leaping upwards and flying over the red orb.

Silas was ready for her, however, and cast a spell to bind her, a hundred sparkling silver hands burst from his staff and flew towards her, and grabbed hold of her. Startled, she fell to the ground as her wings were bound, and the hands linked together, chaining her legs and arms and tail. The woman dashed forward, sword overhead, ready to end the demon.

From the ground, David popped up, his arm encased in stone as he stopped the woman’s blow from connecting.

The woman narrowed her eyes at him.

“So, you’re the infamous traitor.”

“You’ll find I had little choice in the matter.”

“A coward’s words. A pity my daughter had to shed a tear for someone such as you.”

David’s face was one of shock.

“You’re Bernice’s mother?!”

“I am.”

She retracted her sword and attacked him with a flurry of swipes. He found himself surprisingly able to keep up, blocking each blow with his stone gauntlets. The clanging of steel and stone echoed throughout the chamber as they fought, until David ducked under a swing and thrust out his hand. In an instant, his gauntlet flew off his hand and straight into Lady Vanderhousen’s waist, unfolding and slamming her against the opposite wall as it molded around her and fused to the wall to keep her secured there.

Delilah meanwhile was able to break free after pulsing her dark purple mana, shattering the silver hands that bound her. Silas sneered and held up his staff, summoning a silvery mist-like pack of wolves. He sent them after her with a whistle.

Delilah only smiled and waved her own clawed hand causing black smoke to emit from them and coalesce on the ground. Dark purple crystal formed in their wake, in the shape of a pack of panthers. The two groups intercepted and clawed at each other, cracking and shattering the other. Wolves burst into silvery mist, and panthers broke into bursts of black smoke.

Silas gave a grunt.

“Delilah… after all this time, still you torment me.”

Delilah shook her head, face pained.

“I don’t mean to, Silas, dear. I’m only trying to keep you from making a terrible mistake.”

“You know what will happen if you succeed. The world will end, the extinction of man and monster both. Its an established fact at this point, and to continue onward on your path is the height of folly. Or perhaps… yes, I think it would be apt to call it evil.”

“Listen to yourself, Silas! Do you really think me evil? I’m only trying to give humanity the second chance I was given! Purged of all that selfishness, that horrid jealousy! I’ve found a new life, Silas. I’ve changed!”

“I know that! You’re a blasted demon for God’s sake! And take your own advice! You would force others to monsterize because of your own warped ideals! I’m only trying to keep the world turning, and you thwart me at every turn. You think you were purged of selfishness?! HA! You act on your desires just like you did all those centuries ago. You’re more selfish than ever.”

The words struck Delilah, as she felt that there was truth in them. In her moment of reflection she missed the fact that Silas had shot a series of green ribbons in her direction. They flew past the raging battle of silver wolf and crystal panther and wrapped about her form and held her tightly. Delilah was caught off guard and fell to the ground in a daze.

With her distracted, Silas whispered a spell, and all at once his silver wolves exploded in violent fashion. The panthers burst into smoke and with them gone, Silas cast the spell once more, this time a silver stag burst forth from his staff.

David interfered with a large stone wall, causing the stag to burst into mist on impact.

Silas shifted his attention towards David as he noticed that Lady Vanderhousen had only just then broken free from her bonds. She slashed at David, who blocked it with yet another stone wall. Though this time, it blew apart sending him flying backward right next to Delilah.

Lady Vanderhousen stood tall as she positioned herself next to Silas.

“What’s the likelihood of Lord Vasher still being among the living?”

“Higher than zero, but I can’t make any kind of educated guess.”

“As I said before, I’ll hold them off. You need to go after the Sands. They’ve split up in case you didn’t notice. I imagine they plan to stall us here.”

Silas blinked, realizing she was right. He fixed his gaze at the two across the passage, and was startled to see a lovely brown-skinned woman with long aqua colored hair help the two to their feet. She had a milky white ambrosia clinging to her legs and wrists, which immediately let Silas know what she was.

“What is an apsara doing with a demon?”

David accepted her hand and got to his feet as Delilah broke free of the ribbons and did the same. David shook his head, frustrated.

“Lakshmi, what are you doing?! You were supposed to go with the others.”

She smiled at him and dusted off his clothes.

“Don’t worry about me, Mr. David, I’m just a distraction.”

Before he could ask what she meant, he spotted Calypso silently slithering behind Silas and Lady Vanderhousen. Her white hair covered her face, and in the peripheral of his vision he saw something laying in the tunnel he had created. Turning his head, he realized she had dropped her mask.

However, his looking about didn’t go unnoticed.

Silas was following David’s gaze with rapt attention. And the quick glance behind him did not go unnoticed. Realizing that Delilah and David had back up, Silas turned around, a feeling of dread in his bones.

The feeling was warranted, as a coiled red lamia was about to strike at Beatrice.

He cast a spell of entwining roots, capturing the creature before its claws could reach Lady Vanderhousen. It took a lot out of him, as he had to manifest the roots completely from his mana, as no plant life was here to use. The wriggling coils of the creature were bright red, which contrasted with the white hair and plumage. Wait… plumage? In a startling realization, it came to Silas that this was not a typical lamia.

The basilisk snapped her head at him as he looked away, sweat beating down his forehead, hoping he hadn’t been to slow. Luckily, he was still himself, and gave a sigh of relief. Then, he saw Lady Vanderhousen finally turn around. He wasted no time in tackling her to the ground before damage could be done. They landed heavily on the ground as Beatrice broke her normally calm and collected demeanor.

“Silas! What are you doing?! Let me finish off the snake!”

“That’s a basilisk, you idiot! One look into her eyes, and your life is as good as over!”

Beatrice’s eyes widened as the color drained from her face.

Silas then realized that once more, they were sinking into the earth. Not to be captured so easily, Silas cast a more powerful shield than he normally did to prevent David from applying his old tricks, a transparent dodecahedral shield that conveniently stopped a barrage of laughing black demons heads wreathed in fire, most likely cast by Delilah. Silas helped Lady Vanderhousen to her feet and heard the basilisk speak behind him.

“You think you got me don’t you? As long as you don’t look into my eyes? Well guess again!”

David watched on as his and Delilah’s attempt to take advantage of Calypso’s attack failed. Silas’s reflexes were quick, David mused. He had been sure he wouldn’t have been fast enough to capture Calypso before she could take down Lady Vanderhousen. As Calypso struggled against the roots, and Silas stood up with both himself and the Lady wrapped in a very impressive looking shield, Calypso reared back her head and said something to them.

Then she belched out a thick green cloud.

David instinctively tried to raise a shield in response, only for nothing to happen. He cursed remembering he could only move the earth. Delilah however, came to his rescue as she held up a hand and a globe of transparent orange surrounded them. David grabbed Lakshmi and pulled her into the sphere.

Lakshmi was the one to ask what was on David’s mind.

“What’s she doing?”

Delilah looked on with an uncharacteristic scowl.

“You two have heard of a basilisk’s deadly gaze, correct?” They nodded. “Well they also have that deadly venom in their claws, fangs, and a powerful breath attack. Naturally, its not deadly anymore. Still I wish she had warned us. We’re lucky I erected a shield in time.”

And her words rung true.

All around them the air turned a deep viridian green, until nothing could be seen outside the shield. David could feel a chill at the back of his neck as he looked out into the thick cloud of emerald green. Lakshmi latched onto him as if frightened, though he thought she might just be using the opportunity to press her body into his.

Silas couldn’t risk rupturing his shield, but he could cast spells outside of it. So why wasn’t he? He wondered if he was fighting Calypso right now, trying to get her to stop. Several moments passed where he could see nothing.

Then, to his confusion, the miasma began to move. It flowed back over Delilah’s shield and in the direction of Calypso, Silas, and Lady Vanderhousen. Great wisps of green smoke flew by and coalesced at the far end of the hallway, allowing David to make out the silhouettes of the combatants at the other end. The venomous cloud did not linger there, however, and instead passed between the far wall, which he now saw was a pile of rubble, likely from a collapse of the roof. It flowed like a river over the dome of Delilah’s shield and Silas’s strange dodecahedral one.

He realized that it was being sucked in through the gaps in the rubble, as if something was drawing it in forcefully.

The flow of the venomous cloud continued for a few more moments until the hallway was clear again. Silas stood with mouth agape, and David wondered if he knew what had caused the strange episode.

Then the rubble exploded.

David reacted fast, holding up both hands as he stopped the rubble in midair. Some bounced off of Silas’s shield, but he reacted fast enough to keep any rubble from harming Calypso. He let out a sigh of relief at that. He didn’t want her harmed.

Suddenly, the torches lining the passageway went out, leaving all in darkness, save the blueish glow of Silas’s shield, and the orange glow of Delilah’s. David let the rubble drop to the ground, as he prepared himself for whatever might have broken through.

Silas felt every one of his long years. Things had been going so well, how had they devolved so fast? No, he shouldn’t kid himself. Things had been going bad for a long time. He knew there would be trouble the moment he had recognized Delilah’s touch on the events that had transpired the past month.

But he had never expected to come face to face with an Apophis.

The creature that had taunted him earlier, the creature who broke through the rubble, was a large snake-like woman. Several readily apparent differences marked her as much more than a mere lamia. She was larger, of course, her torso twice as large as the average man, and her long coils extended perhaps to thirty feet long. Her skin was also a dark shade of violet, while her scales were an iridescent purple so dark, it looked black until the light hit it. She wore nothing but shimmering purple-tinged silver jewelry. Even on her breasts, she wore only pasties with dangling silver chains. Her hair was exceptionally long, nearly touching the floor, and was the same shade of purple as her scales.

Her slit snake-like eyes glowed like a yellow fire in the darkness as she observed the intruders milling about. In an upheld hand was a swirling sphere of green gaseous venom.

Behind her were a legion of Mummies, with the unconscious form of Lord Vasher limp in one of their slender arms. His armor was unscathed, as Silas suspected, but he did have a large purple bruise on his forehead. Though one of the Mummies was holding a poultice to it, the linen bandages free from her face as she looked down at him with concern.

“Well well, even more guests. We sure are popular today, aren’t we girls?”

They moaned and grunted, though none of them spoke.

Silas heard Lady Vanderhousen swallow as she held up her sword in shaking arms. He meant to lower her hands, tell her he had a plan. But those glowing yellow eyes had bewitched him, and he couldn’t move his tongue to tell her what she was doing was foolish.

“L-let him go, monster!

The Apophis lazily turned her head to Lady Vanderhousen, an amused expression on her face.

“Oh? And whom might you be?”

She squared her shoulders and stuck out her chin, ready to fight.

“I am Lady Beatrice Vaughn Vanderhousen, champion of Tenoria! And you will. Let. Him. Go.”

The large dark snake-woman, if she was threatened, didn’t show it.

“Its wonderful to make your acquaintance, Beatrice. My name is Zagira, and I am the Queen and Mistress of this tomb. Soon, I will be Queen and Mistress of a beautiful kingdom where the sun never rises. I hope for you to be a part of it.”

“Not so long as I draw breath.”

She made to leap at the Apophis, stopped by Silas who grabbed her harshly by the shoulder. He whispered tersely in her ear, trying to calm her.

“Don’t do anything rash. She’s an Apophis, an extremely powerful creature. With her here we have no chance of winning. I have a plan, but you have to trust me.”

She calmed herself ever so slightly, though she did not lower her weapon as she looked up at the smug self-satisfied smile of Zagira.

“What of Lord Vasher? How are we to rescue him.”

Silas hesitated, before looking over to his friend’s limp body. He grimaced as he realized he had no way of retrieving him.

“We’ll have to leave him,” he whispered. “The Sands take top priority.”

She looked at him in shocked disgust, unable and unwilling to accept his words.

“I will not abandon him!”

It occurred to Silas that she was still under the impression of the Order’s teachings, and that she most likely thought he was leaving the good Lord to be eaten. He doubted she would accept a rushed explanation that that was not the case. Still he attempted it, whispering frantically in her ear that he would be alive and well. But of course she shrugged him off with a scowl and a grunt of disgust. She thought he was lying, and he knew then that she would stay and lose to the many monsters that had surrounded them.

He supposed it was up to him alone then. Very well, it was hardly the first time.

David looked on the scene with rapt attention, taking in the large dark snake-woman and her minions in awe. She was incredibly powerful, and… incredibly beautiful. Heart shaped face, stunning radiant eyes, smooth undulating scales.

He shook his head and slapped himself. What was he thinking? In the middle of a battle? He looked at the mystery woman again with fresher eyes and paid attention to the conversation this… Zagira… was having with Silas and Bernice’s mother.

Delilah brushed a claw against him, trying to get his attention.

“Love, you looked stunned there for a second.” She said, a coy knowing smile on her face.

“I was just… surprised.”

“Oh is that so? Is that why you were staring so longingly at her chest?”

David’ ears turned red.

“I was not looking at her chest! I was looking at her face.”

“Imagining it looking longingly into your own I imagine.”

“Do you ever stop?”

She smirked and wrapped her arms around him.

“Never, Love. Never. You know, I never thought I’d see an Apophis. She’s quite impressive. Now, putting aside your obvious lust for the snake, what’s the plan?”

David felt comfort in her embrace as he ran a few thoughts through his head. Surprisingly, he came up with a rather simple idea that he was rather proud of. He patted his lover’s hand and told her to trust him. She only smiled and nodded.

David held his breath as he concentrated before getting the large monster’s attention.

“Zagira!”

The Apophis turned her head to David with a curious expression.

“Why hello there. Whom might you people be? You weren’t with the other three. Are you fellow grave robbers, here to-”

She cut herself off as she began to sniff the air. A smile grew on her lips as she continued to sniff the air and a long snake like tongue slipped past her lips and tasted the air.

“Oh my! What is that!? That delicious mana… I haven’t tasted anything like it before.”

Delilah whispered into David’s ear, causing him to blush as he remembered what Delilah said about the mate of a bicorn.

“That would be me,” David said. “And as for your other question, we’re here to stop that elf!”

David pointed at Silas, who was wearing a bitter expression.

“He and his two companions are here to steal something that once belonged to the Pharaoh Zipporah.”

The apophis, Zagira, crossed an arm across her bosom and used the other to rest her chin.

“Oh? Here to steal my pet’s little baubles? I suspected as much. Are you telling me you four aren’t? No use trying to lie to me now. I don’t much care why you came. I only really care that you’re here.”

She smiled with half-lidded eyes as she took another deep breath of the air, as if she was savoring the smell of some delicious meal.

David, however, was resolute.

“They’re here to take the Sands of Plenty. They also have a Heaven’s Gold Spear and are planning on making an army that can turn monsters like you back into man-eating beasts, so that they’re easier for men to kill.”

Silas looked furious at him, though he said nothing. Zagira however, had finally dropped her smile. In fact, she looked quite perturbed.

David continued.

“My name is David, and I’m aligned with the Monster Army, I’m here with two of the 78th Division’s generals to stop them. We’d appreciate your help, if you could give it.”

Zagira stood silent for second, looking pensive, before she blinked and nodded her head in a way that made it clear she had made up her mind.

“My, that… kills the mood. Yes, of course I’ll help you.”

As soon as the words left her lips Lady Vanderhousen leapt with her sword raised, and a battle cry in her throat. Zagira, however, moved in a blur. Despite her size, she was incredibly fast, and David was unable to even track her movement. Within a second, her body was wrapped tightly around her assailant, her sword clattering to the ground as her wrists were held by one of Zagira’s large hands.

“Apologies, but it seems I can’t play around with you like I wanted.”

Lady Vanderhousen spat on her face.

“I will not give you the satisfaction of a cowering helpless victim. So just kill me now.”

Zagira didn’t seem to mind, as she wiped the glob of spit from her face.

“Oh you poor thing, I’m not going to kill you.”

Zagira lunged forward and bit Beatrice deeply on the neck with outstretched snake-like fangs.

David used the opportunity to attack Silas, gesturing with his hands to direct four earthen pillars to strike up from the ground and slam against Silas’s shield. It held strong, and Silas didn’t move, seemingly content to stay inside his dodecahedral bubble. The Mummies that were with Zagira ran in a shambling fashion at Silas, and battered at the shield, but they were as ineffective as David. Delilah took the time to fly down the hallway and cut Calypso free, slicing the roots of her prison with her red claws.

Calypso thanked her before joining the demon on the assault of Silas’s shield. Though his Shield was now being bombarded with the physical attacks of hundred of mummies, a basilisk’s claws, and a demon’s spells, he still did not retaliate, or even move. David was about to join in the fray when Lakshmi pulled on his sleeve.

“Mr. David, look!”

David followed Lakshmi’s pointing finger to a pair of imprints in the dirt which seemed to be appearing at regular intervals down the hallway. With a start he realized that someone was running, invisible, away from the battle.

He turned his head back towards the fray, and looked to see if anyone was missing. Lady Vanderhousen was still in Zagira’s coils, and Lord Vasher was still being held by a group of Mummies near the back. Silas was still trapped in his own shield, being bombarded on all sides. But then David realized the truth. The Silas inside the shield wasn’t retaliating, or even moving much beyond shifting his feet, breathing, and blinking once or twice.

Suddenly David realized that the Silas everyone was attacking was an illusion. The real one had made himself invisible and was attempting to escape. Not having any of that, David reached out with a hand and created a large earthen hand to grab at the invisible man. It crumbled as it closed in, hitting an invisible shield.

However it was enough to break Silas’s concentration, and he appeared where the footprints had been. His illusion however, remained and through the noise, no one could hear David attempting to get them back over to him.

“Well, David, I must admit, you are an impressive Wizard.” Silas said with a snort.

“You do realize the consequences of what you’re doing right? You’ll revert intelligent peaceful creatures back into bloodthirsty beasts!”

“I’ll be saving humanity, and my own race as a consequence.”

“By causing the massacre of millions!”

“I’ll be saving them! You know what will happen if they are allowed to continue as they have. I already explained this to you, or have you forgotten?! Enough of this, I’ll not have you distract me.”

Silas pushed out his palm, ejecting an invisible force, and knocked David off his feet before pressing his staff to the side of the corridor. In a flash of green light a new passageway appeared leading upward, and Silas slipped away, closing the passage behind him. David got up quickly, and nearly decided to go after Silas by himself.

But Lakshmi grabbed him from behind, holding him close.

“No, Mr. David! Don’t go alone!”

“Lakshmi, we’re on a time limit! I need to stop him now!”

“Don’t forget Arsa, Ophelia, and Nona already have a head start! They may have even gotten the Sands already! You shouldn’t face him alone!”

David stopped fidgeting. Lakshmi was right.

He turned around to get the others.

 

Chapter 30: Apophis Arrangements

Zagira held the wriggling woman in rapt amusement. She was strong, yes. But her venom was stronger. She still held the basilisk’s gaseous venom in her hand, and played with the idea of giving the woman a dose of that as well. But seeing her writhe and moan as she began to drool, she decided that wouldn’t be necessary. She conjured a phial for the basilisk venom and placed it inside, with a flick of her wrist she teleported the phial to the treasure room.

The woman took in a sharp intake of breath as her face became free of wrinkles and softened. The grey of her hair vanished, and her teeth whitened. The skin of her body became tight, and her eyes regained luster and life. Zagira’s venom was working its way through her body, and she was transforming accordingly.

In the past, an Apophis’s venom merely made one a slave to the Apophis, mutated them into hideous snake-like forms. But much like Zagira herself, such things had changed. For the better, in Zagira’s opinion. Beatrice feebly resisted, pushing the dark snake with weakened arms, but Zagira merely giggled at the woman’s helplessness.

“Well now, champion of Tenoria, Beatrice Vaughn something or other, let’s get you out of those clothes.”

“N-no. P-please. Must save… Lord V-Va… John. I have to save John!”

“John?” The Apophis looked over her shoulder to the unconscious man her servants had pulled from the rubble. She smiled wickedly as she returned her gaze to Beatrice.

“Oh I see. A friend of yours? I was going to give him to my servants, but it seems he means much more to you.”

The older woman’s features continued to become ever more youthful and beautiful as she looked up at Zagira in horror.

“D-don’t hurt… him.” She struggled to speak, twitching every few moments as the venom coursed through her. Her ears elongated, and sharpened to resemble an elf’s, and her pupils slit, like that of a snake’s.

“Hurt him? Oh, Beatrice my little pet, I would never do any such thing. They were going to fuck him. He may be old, but his mana is strong and ripe. I was tempted to take him myself before I got a whiff of that other human.­”

Zagira’s fanged smile grew as Beatrice jerked her head and her tongue flopped out of her mouth, sweat dripping off of her body as Zagira tore her clothes to shreds and gently placed her now naked body on the ground.

“I’m a generous queen, Beatrice. I’ll give you your John. Just as soon as you’re done.”

With a final spasm, Beatrice’s legs melded together into a single long trunk. Lustrous pink scales began to grow from her navel downwards, and in a mater of moments Beatrice Vaughn Vanderhousen was reborn as a lamia under the control of Zagira.

“I-I, What have you done to me?!”

She tenderly touched her face, still flushed with a new burning lust that was completely contrary to her will. Zagira grabbed her by the cheeks with one hand and lifted her chin up to meet her yellow eyes.

“My little pet, would you like your reward for being such a good little girl?”

“I-I’m over fifty years old. I’m not-”

“I’m over 1000 years old, my pet. You’re all little to me. Now would you like that John of yours?”

Beatrice, now a youthful naked lamia with pink scales, looked over to John Vasher the XV with a very different look in her eyes.

“I’m…No. We’re too old. We missed our chances decades ago. Its our children’s turn now. I, we can’t. He wouldn’t. It’s not proper.”

Zagira merely rolled her eyes. With a wave of her hand, her servants brought the old man in the gleaming white armor to her, and with a sudden jerk, she lifted him up by his arms and bit him on the neck as she had Beatrice. With a jolt, Lord Vasher awakened with a grimace on his face. Zagira laughed and dropped him unto a startled Beatrice, who held him in a gentle embrace.

“I’m not one for tragic romance, I’m afraid. It bores me. I see no children here, nor do I see anything else to stop your consummation. You know… there are only female monsters. I imagine my venom will do something quite,” she giggled to herself in a self-satisfied manner. “-sinister, inside a human man.”

John Sr’s snow white hair stood on end as he thrashed in Beatrice’s arms, it took him a moment to realize who was holding him.

“Bea-” He caught himself. “Lady Vanderhousen? Wha-what’s going on? I’m burning up, I- I’m feeling dizzy. Did I stop the horde? Where’s Silas? God, my skin is on fire! Get me out of this armor! I’m burning up!”

Zagira leaned over him, causing his eyes to nearly pop out of their sockets as he beheld the large dark snake.

“By God, what the hell is that?! Beatrice, behind-” he spasmed before he could finish.

Beatrice, however, had been consumed by the Apophis’s venom, and only held him close, unconcerned with her transformation, and unconcerned about much of anything else. It seemed to her that the venom had brought clarity, un-fogged her mind. Made clear what she had hidden from herself. She had had a marriage late in life, to a man she cared little about to produce a child she should have had much earlier. She had chased him away so long ago for no reason other than detesting the idea of submitting to a man. She had joined the army, succeeded as one of their greatest champions, and in the end… felt empty.

She realized then that she was forcing Bernice to marry, less because she thought John Jr would be a good husband, and more because she did not want her daughter to travel down the same road as herself and make the same mistake. But now, she felt… she felt like she had given up too soon. There was a desire within her to take the old widower and make him her own.

Zagira, meanwhile, placed a hand on her hips as she enjoyed the show.

“My, he seems to be getting rather fidgety. Beatrice, take off his armor for him would you? Let’s get him ready.”

“I can’t, Lady Zagira. He’ll die if I force him out of it.”

“Die? That seems a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think?”

Beatrice only shook her head as John Sr reached up a hand towards her, confusion in his eyes.

“No, Mistress. He suffers from an illness. The armor is magical in nature, it allows him to stave it off so long as he wears it.”

Zagira tapped a finger to her chin. After only a few moments she shrugged.

“He’ll be fine. Monsterization cures your frail human bodies of such weakness. He’s not monsterizing of course… but he is becoming an incubus.”

Beatrice looked up at her new mistress with curiosity. What did she mean, incubus? Zagira looked at her annoyed, and as if reading her mind, explained herself.

“Do you know nothing? Men who are injected with monster mana become incubi. Essentially, powerful humans. You fought monsters didn’t you? How do you not know this?”

“I apologize Mistress, I only did as I was commanded.”

“Then you should be used to it. Get him out of his armor and go fuck. I’m bringing your tale to a happy ending.”

 With that, she gestured to a dozen Mummies who were looking on at the display. They took the two and escorted them off to a far wall. Beatrice meekly followed, the spasming Lord Vasher carried in his plate armor as if he weighed nothing. He was obviously confused and delirious as he kept trying to ask questions and struggle out of her arms. He became especially animated when he realized that Beatrice was naked. But the venom coursing through his body kept him from overpowering her, and with a motion from Zagira, a doorway appeared in a flash of yellow light.

The troupe disappeared inside, leaving Zagira with the other intruders.

The human with the delectable mana was staring intently at her, a curious expression on his face.

“Well. That was… interesting to watch.”

“I’m not one for long drawn out spectacle. Now, have you caught that old elf of yours?”

She took a moment to remember the human’s name. David, that was it. David looked at her with a look of disappointment. She had a feeling he wore that expression frequently it rested on his face so well.

“He escaped. That one over there,” He jabbed at where she had last seen the elf, “Was an illusion. I couldn’t get everyone’s attention fast enough and he got away. Worse, he seems to be able to recognize magical auras. So chances are he’s headed to your treasure room thanks to all the magical artifacts you have.”

Zagira nodded along, not nearly as worried as the silly little human.

“Well then, we have nothing to worry about. My most precious pet resides in the treasure room. He won’t be leaving with anything. Still, I suppose I can lead you there. But first there is the issue of payment.”

David gave her a cute confused look.

“Payment?”

Zagira chuckled.

“Well of course! For my services, you see. I just took care of two of your adversaries all by myself. And I’m about to take care of the third.”

Zagira closed the distance between herself and David, slithering around him and surrounding him in her dark purple coils. To his credit, he didn’t seem too concerned. In fact, from the whiff Zagira took, he was experiencing a bit of arousal. She smiled, glad that this was going all so smoothly.

Well, perhaps she spoke too soon. The demon, her name escaped Zagira at the moment, flew in the middle of her coils and looked at her with a smirk that Zagira found rather endearing. It reminded her of herself.

“Well, Zagira. My name is Delilah, and I believe you ought to negotiate that payment with me. After all, I’m the one in charge of this expedition. And the one in charge of the 78th Division. So tell me, how may we compensate you?”

Zagira was quite curious about the protective nature this demon was displaying. Did she fancy the human too? She briefly wondered if she would have to bite her and the rest to get to the human. She was going to have him whether the demon let her have him or not.

“I want the human as my pet.”

Zagira said nothing else, she didn’t have anything else to say. She only wanted one thing. She needed no gold, silver, jewels, or anything else they might have. She had all of that already.

She looked on curiously as the demon, Delilah, held up a finger and began whispering in the human’s ear.


David wasn’t so eager to become someone’s pet. He was even less eager to be a bargaining chip. However, Delilah saw things differently.

“Oh how perfect is this, Love?! She wants to be yours. How delightful.”

“Actually, she wants me to be hers, a bit different I think.”

Delilah merely waved her hand as she continued to whisper in his ear.

“Semantics, Love, Semantics. There’s no use denying that you’re attracted to her. I saw you undressing her with your eyes.”

David groaned at Delilah’s antics. Did she mean to hook him up with any slightly attractive girl he cast his eyes upon? Wasn’t it enough that he had six women trying to get into his pants?

“I can’t go sleeping with every pretty girl I see. That’s not right. How would Ophelia feel about it? She’s okay with you and Nona because she knows you two. This Zagira, we literally met a few minutes ago. We know nothing about her.”

“You’ll get to know her, Love. Did you forget our conversation?”

“That was different! I literally just met this woman! I at least have had a few conversations with Lakshmi and Calypso. Nona is a special case, and Arsa actually saved my life. I’m not going to lay with anything that will have me! I’m not a whore.”

Delilah’s smile softened.

“Oh, Love, that’s not the right way to think of it! You’re the man in the relationship. She’s a woman eager to join your ever growing harem of exotic beauties! That’s how you need to think of this. Sure, she thinks she’s gaining a pet, but she’s really gaining a Master~”

David knew she was just giving him what he needed to hear to agree to this asinine idea. Any red-blooded man would at least consider those honeyed words. But he still didn’t like being used as payment. But, he reminded himself, Silas was still getting close to the Sands, and he held little faith that Arsa, Nona, and Ophelia would be able to stop him alone. He pinched the bridge of his nose in thought.

He couldn’t deny she was lovely. She had a cute heart-shaped face, long silken hair, unblemished skin the color of amethyst, and eyes that shone like gold. Her lips were full and her nose was petite. And of course, he’d be a blind man not to notice her bosom that was proportionally as large as Delilah’s, yet due to the Apophis’s greater size, were much larger. They complimented her figure well, with taut stomach and flared hips that flowed into her sparkling iridescent scales. And the fact she wore naught but jewelry did add to her beauty in a more tasteful way than he’d imagined if he had merely heard about her rather than seen her.

He looked up at her coy, smug face. A part of him liked that she was lusting after him. The other part reminded him that he had literally met her a few minutes ago. Yet still another reminded him that he had no time to stand there and pout.

He sighed.

“If I agree to this, what guarantee do we have that she’ll be the sharing kind of monster? Even if she is, what if Ophelia doesn’t like her?”

Delilah considered his questions for only a moment before whispering back.

“Oh she’ll share. If she doesn’t like it, the rest of us can take care of her for you. And I have a strong feeling Ophelia would absolutely adore her. She and I have a similar mind on these things.~”

“… fine then. I agree. But from now on, I want this to be a pickier process. If I leave it to you I’m afraid I’ll wake up with a hundred wives before the month is out.”

“Oh no, Love. Not nearly so much. Maybe 12 or 20 or so. Something reasonable.”

David looked at her with eye’s bulging in a comical expression that expressed disbelief. She merely laughed and patted his cheek, in a way that said she was only joking. Though, David noted, she did not take back her words or actually say that she was joking.

Delilah spoke up then, to finally answer Zagira.

“He agrees. Help us, first, and he’ll be your pet.”

“I already helped you. But I suppose I aught to stop that elf anyway. I wouldn’t want to return to how I was. Very well, I agree. Though,” she chuckled, “You really didn’t have a choice to begin with.”

“I think you overestimate yourself, Apophis.”

“Call me Zagira, demon. And you’ll find I estimate myself quite well. Now lets go get that elf, and in the mean time you all can fill me in on how you came to be here.”

She uncoiled herself from Delilah and David, and motioned her legion of mummies forward, swatting away any that started towards David. Lakshmi held David’s arm as Delilah strode in front of them, and behind Zagira. Calypso, however had donned her mask again and decided to meet up with her fellow lamia. She seemed to be the one most eager to talk to the rare and powerful monster, and enthusiastically spoke about how their group came to her ruins.

Chapter 31: A Pharaoh’s Accord

Ophelia followed behind Arsanggha and Nona at the back of the group, both wishing they’d go faster, and wishing to go back. Lakshmi had gone and left them to return to David, and she had nearly followed. But she knew David fairly well, and he’d want them to get the Sands as fast as possible. So she put aside her selfish desire to be with him, and trod forward.

“Ophelia, sweetie, you’re being rather quiet back there, is everything okay?”

“I’m okay, Arsa. I’m just worried. David always seems to get hurt when he’s alone.”

Arsa laughed a bit before nodding her head.

“True, true. But he’s not alone, now is he? Delilah and Calypso are with him. Lakshmi too, the little sneak. I hope she doesn’t do something rash. She really isn’t a fighter. What’s the saying? Lover not a fighter?”

Ophelia fidgeted a bit while following her two friends. She wanted to believe David would be okay, but every time he was out of her sight, something bad seemed to happen. First with Sarash, then with Silas. Yuurazha and Arsanggha had to save him the last time. Would Delilah and Calypso be enough? She didn’t know much about Silas, but the way everyone talked about him he seemed really scary.

“You’re worrying too much, Ophelia. David will be fine.”

“…maybe.”

Arsa turned to her with probing eyes.

“You’ve never seen him fight, huh?”

Ophelia thought that a curious question.

“No, why?”

Arsa smiled and motioned for Nona to open up another passage as she looked at the device Delilah had handed off to her. There were no torches in these passages since they were opening them as they went. So they went by the light being emitted by Arsa’s own body, the soft lime-green glow of the orbs set in her body and the faint light of her eyes. It gave Ophelia a creepy feeling, if she was honest. But she liked Arsa enough to not be too scared by it. After all, Arsa had saved her David.

“Well, Ophelia, its because I have seen him fight. And he’s rather good. Nona, sweetie, it needs to be slanted upwards.”

Nona nodded and altered the passage. Ophelia followed after them up the slope, not wanting to be left behind in the dark.

“So you think he’ll be safe, Arsa? Really?”

Nona turned to Ophelia, determination in her green eyes.

“Master is using my power right now. He’ll be safe.”

“Well said, Nona. And yes, Ophelia. I do think he’ll be safe. Lakshmi though, that silly girl, who knows with her. But if our little purple wizard is there I suppose she’ll be fine. Or white wizard now, huh? Was that your gift, Ophelia? I heard some of the girls gave him gifts.”

Ophelia blushed in the darkness, a sheepish smile on her face as she remembered the event.

“Ah…yes. That was me. I’m glad he’s wearing it. It took me a long time to make.”

“I think its sweet. Makes me mad I didn’t give him anything. I’ll have to think of something when all of this is over. I wonder how the attack on Vasherton is going. It should have started today.”

“You don’t think anyone will get hurt, do you?”

“Probably. Our side will do its best to keep causalities to a minimum, but the Order still teaches that we eat people. So I imagine the humans are going to be fighting to kill.”

Ophelia stopped in her tracks. The Order taught that?! Why had Papa never said anything about that when she had left?! If she had come across another man other than David, would he have attacked her? Not even Mama had warned her about that, or any of her sisters. Papa she could understand a little bit, he was always so protective. But why hadn’t anyone warned her what humans thought of monsters? She suddenly became very grateful David had become her husband. Anyone else might have tried to hurt her… or worse.

Arsa caught on to her uneasiness, and after directing Nona to make another passageway up the pyramid, she turned to Ophelia to place a comforting hand on her shoulder.

“Hey there, sweetheart, what’s wrong? You look all shook up. I need you at 100% okay? We’re almost to the treasure room.”

“I was just thinking how lucky I was that I met David. If I met someone who had actually been taught by the Order… I could have really been hurt. I guess I was just wondering why my Papa and Mama didn’t tell me about that. Not even my sisters…”

“Hmm, well I can’t tell you why they didn’t warn you. But I’ll tell you what my Dad told me. There’s no such thing as luck. If something happens, good or ill, its fate. And in the end, you’ll come out stronger for it.”

Ophelia looked at her with doubt on her face.

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Arsa brushed a tentacle out of her face and with the utmost confidence continued.

“It means all things happen according to some greater purpose. It was fate that you met David, and it was fate that you met me. Don’t worry about what-ifs, and all that nonsense. Now come on, I think we’re almost there.”

Arsa moved with purpose back towards the front of their small line, Delilah’s curious little device safe in her clutches. Ophelia blinked a few moments, taking in her words. The way she looked at the world was strange, but it made her actions make more sense to Ophelia. If she really believed all things were meant to be, then she supposed her confidence and lack of worry made sense. Ophelia wished she could be like that, but still… she couldn’t stop worrying about her David.

Ophelia shielded her eyes as a bright light came from up ahead. Arsa said something and Nona responded with a happy sound.

“Aha! We made it!”

From the hole Nona had made, a bright light shone through the tunnel, revealing the dust that had been disturbed by the three girls’ passing. Arsa passed into the hole first, followed by Nona, and finally Ophelia. They were assaulted on all sides by the smell of powerful incense and perfume.

The room they had entered was extremely large, and from the high ceiling, large shafts of daylight were being filtered in by open slits in the roof. Large silk sheer curtains dangled from the ceiling in loops. All of them in colors of pink and blue. All along the floor were expansive rugs along the stone floor. Each of them the same three colors of blue, pink, and gold. The walls were decorated with depictions of a funeral procession, decked with gold and lapis lazuli.

Within the room large piles of chests, urns, and boxes were scattered about, each overflowing with gold and silver coins, jewelry of all kinds, diamonds, sapphires, amethysts, rubies, and emeralds. Even beyond them were statues of a large stately woman wrought in sandstone, gold, and basalt.

But that was not the extent of the riches displayed, as in addition to the many chests of coins and jewels were piles of precious items. Toys, games, alabaster pots of oil and perfume, jeweled weapons and shields, elaborate furniture, golden lamps, golden chariots, boats made of reed, and silken clothes aplenty littered the expansive room.

All three girls were awed at the unimaginable wealth stuffed inside the single room. Arsa especially was awed. She immediately began pawing at everything within reach, running a slimy tentacle over the many treasures that caught her eye.

“Wow. And I thought those humans had interesting things. Now this is a treasure room! I thought Zipporah was a nobody? Can you imagine what kind of riches one of those other Pharaoh’s might have had?”

“I’m glad you approve.”

Ophelia and the others turned their heads as a tall comely woman stepped out from behind a golden statue that greatly shared her likeness.  Immediately, Ophelia knew this was Zipporah, the Pharaoh of the very tomb they stood in. Ophelia took in her appearance and smiled lecherously as she did so.

The woman was tall, as most powerful monsters are. Slightly over 7 feet tall in fact. Her skin was bronzed, a deep dark golden brown that contrasted against her clothes. She wore a sheer white silk outfit, that looked more like a slave dancer’s outfit than that of a regal ruler. It consisted of two taut sheets of fabric that clasped onto a golden collar about her neck that was encrusted with lapis lazuli. The two sheets covered her firm sizable breasts but left the rest of her torso completely exposed as they hooked into a gold cord tied around her waist. Her long shapely legs were covered with the sheer fabric as well, tied to gold cords about her ankles, though they were slit up to her thighs, leaving the bare bronzed skin of her waist open to the air.

Her outfit was completed by an opaque white thong she wore underneath her transparent outfit, her womanhood the only thing not on display. On her regal head, resting atop her luxurious pure black hair, was a blue and golden diadem wrought in the shape of two intertwined cobras covered in sapphires, diamonds, and other precious stone.

Ophelia had awakened to the beauty of her fellow women the night Delilah had seduced her and gave her the power necessary to seduce David. And as she drank in the woman before her, she knew she had to have her. David would love running his hands over her beautiful body, teasing and kissing it. And Ophelia would be there to kiss her sweetly as she writhed under his touch. Ophelia smiled with a face red with arousal as she imagined sharing in the joys of David’s love with the beautiful Pharaoh.

She was brought out of her daydream by Zipporah clearing her throat, garnering the attention of the three girls before her.

“My name is Zipporah Nas Vashti Lancasta, and you three are trespassing. Please leave, or I’ll call Mistress Zagira.”

Ophelia stood forward, the first to speak.

“We aren’t here to steal from you, Zipporah. We’re actually here to help you.”

The Pharaoh cocked her head to the side, curious.

“Oh? Help me how? If you’re here to rescue me from my Mistress, I’m afraid you’re mistaken. I’m quite happy with Lady Zagira.”

Ophelia shook her head

“No, no. I’m fine with that.” In fact, a small part of her wondered if Lady Delilah might seduce the large beautiful Apophis. She secretly hoped so. The idea of gathering them into David’s harem excited her a great deal. “Its just that, well we didn’t raise this tomb. That was someone else. Someone we want to make sure doesn’t get what they came for.”

“And who did raise my tomb? And for what purpose?”

Arsa spoke up then.

“An old elf by the name of Silas. He wants the Sands of Plenty. He plans to use them to create thousands of Heaven’s Gold weapons.”

“And why does that concern me? Should he succeed in stealing from me, which he won’t. Though, for the sake of argument, I shall allow the premise. Why should I concern myself?”

Arsa continued.

“Do you know what Heaven’s Gold does?”

“Of course, it renders apart the soul, stealing from it the most unique aspect of the soul in question, ripping apart the piece of the soul that protrudes the most. This is often the ability to cast magic for wizards, strength from warriors, wisdom from rulers, etcetera, etcetera.”

Arsa, Nona, and Ophelia shared a look between them. They hadn’t known how Heaven’s Gold actually worked. Each of them nodded to each other, understanding the importance of the information.

“What do you think protrudes the most from monsterkind these days, Lady Zipporah?”

The tall stately woman relaxed her stance for a moment, and placed a hand on her chin as she thought. Then after a few moments her eyes went wide in realization.

“I see, he plans to return monsters to their natural state… That is… that is quite unacceptable. Mistress Zagira…”

Zipporah looked forlornly in the distance, obviously imagining her mistress returning to the deadly evil serpent of old. She shook her head, tousling her black hair in an unintentionally attractive display.

“Your goal is a good one. But I don’t see how you can protect my treasures better than myself. Not to mention, he can’t possibly get past Mistress Zagira.”

“He’s a very skilled wizard. One of the best I’ve ever seen.” Replied Arsa. “He’s already gotten past your Mistress, I’m sure of it. Not to mention he’s old and experienced with avoiding monsters and their charms. We can keep the Sands safe because we have an army of some the most powerful creatures known to monsterkind. We serve under Lady Delilah of the 78th Division of the monster army”

Nona stood up then and exclaimed quite happily her own opinion.

“Also, we have Master and he’s the best!”

Zipporah broke into a smile as she turned her attention to the small gnome girl.

“Well aren’t you adorable. What is your name, little one?”

Nona beamed.

“My name is Nona, Master named me.”

“You must love your master very much.”

She nodded, a smile on her face. Zipporah then turned her attention back to the other two, her gentle smile still on her face.

“I apologize. I haven’t asked your names. Would you be kind enough to tell me?”

They nodded, smiles on their own faces, each glad that this encounter was going so smoothly.

“My name is Ophelia, I happen to love the same man Nona calls master. I can vouch for his virtue. He’s a very selfless man. Though he doesn’t always realize it himself.”

“My name is Arsanggha, though most of my friends just call me Arsa. I can attest to the man in question. His name is David, he happens to be here with us. He and Silas have a bit of a history.”

Zipporah nodded as she turned on her heel and motioned for them to follow her. They proceeded forward, trailing behind the tall dark beauty.

“Mistress Zagira went to go find the ones who rose my tomb. If it was only the elf-”

Arsa shook her head.

“No, he has two other humans with him. A nobleman and a noblewoman. And if he brought them here, they most likely have some fighting ability.”

“Regardless, Mistress Zagira will easily deal with them. But on the off chance you three are right, I will give you the Sands… in return though, I feel I should be owed something. My Mistress and I are eager to share our bed with a man. Mana can’t be gathered from other monsters, after all. I would like your help capturing this elf, or perhaps the nobleman he brought with him. Any man should do, really, so long as they help me to regain some of my old power.”

Ophelia rubbed her hands together mischievously as she gave a look to Arsa and Nona, who each shared a smug smile on their faces. They all shared the same thought.

As they turned past another pile of treasure, Ophelia saw an enormous round bed adorned in dozens of silk pillows, and covered in a pink sheet. Beside it was a large golden sarcophagus, the shape of Zipporah’s pleasant form on its lid.

“Lady Zipporah, is this where you sleep?” Ophelia asked.

“Yes. I was buried here, with all my most precious things. When Mistress Zagira awakened me, and made me hers, I was kept here as her most sacred treasure.”

She smiled with a flushed face, obviously enamored with her Mistress and lost in the memory of her… conversion. Ophelia almost let loose a giggle. This was going to be easy. She shared a look with Arsa, who gave her a smug smile as she pointed a finger to her head, then pointed it up at Zipporah’s. She made a miming motion with both her hands as if casting a spell. Ophelia understood. Arsa was going to put some naughty thoughts inside the woman’s head, most likely of David and themselves all writhing together in blissful union.

Ophelia watched the Pharaoh’s face with enraptured anticipation. She was rewarded as the undead ruler’s face turned a brighter red than before. She blinked several times before wiping a thin sheen of sweat off her brow.

“This… David, that you two love.”

“Three,” Arsa interjected. “I love him too. I just haven’t officially… well, made it official yet.”

Zipporah looked at the tentacled woman with suspicion.

“Is that so? Well then… what does the man look like? Is he handsome?”

Ophelia took over the conversation then.

“Oh, he’s wonderful! Storm blue eyes, white skin, lithe muscular chest and well-developed shoulders. Chestnut brown hair, always clean, and trimmed. He frowns too much… but that’s changing! He’s a really good listener too, and he always tries to do the right thing.”

Zipporah continued her stride as she spoke.

“How… strange. I just had a thought about a man who looked quite similar to the man you’re describing. Though I’m quite sure I’ve never seen him.” She leered at Arsa with her bright hazel eyes.

“Do not do that again. I know what you are and what you can do. I will let it pass this time, but do not think to control me. Only Mistress Zagira can control me.”

Arsa had the decency to look sheepish.

“I wasn’t… I didn’t mean to control you. I just wanted to get the idea in your head. You mentioned just grabbing Silas or the old man he was with, but David is a better choice that both of those.”

“I was under the impression he was taken.”

Ophelia shook her head.

“We still have slots open! Especially for such beautiful girls as you~.”

Zipporah made a face saying she wasn’t sure what to make of that. She shrugged and moved ahead, past another pile of treasure.

“I’ll leave it to Mistress Zagira. My head still feels fuzzy from my revival. You don’t seem like bad people, but I’m just not sure. Ah, here we are.” She pulled a golden hourglass from atop a pile of objects. Its handles were in the shape of cobras, and the sand inside was quite unique. The Sands sparkled like shimmering diamond in a rainbow of colors.

Ophelia tentatively reached out a hand for the hourglass as Zipporah handed it over.

And like that, it was over. They had the Sands of Plenty.

Nona looked on with unconcealed wonder at the sparkling sands within, and Arsa seemed to be in a state of unbelief.

“So pretty!”

“I can’t believe we got them.”

Zipporah smiled down at the three, happy she could help.

“Remember, you’re taking them to keep them from that elf you mentioned. So I imagine you’d best leave.”

Arsa nodded absentmindedly as she continued to stare in awe at the artifact they’d come so far to acquire. However, as she did so, the tentacles that adorned her head perked up, and she threw herself to the side.

She narrowly dodged a large phantasmal hand that had lunged for her before it faded to mist. Zipporah, Ophelia, and Nona looked up to spy the culprit. None were surprised at the elven sage that greeted their gaze.

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