Wizardquest 2- Chapter 1: Solid Foundation

A boot crushes a pile of leaves, old refuse from the fall and subsequent winter. The wind is still a little cold, but with the sun shining overhead, the coming of spring is not far away. It is a time for travelers, a time for those who have journeys to make to leave their homes and set forth to the open road. It is a time for adventure, a time for exploration,

And a time to settle grudges.

You stop at the crossroads, looking upon the old, wooden signpost. The oldest names pointed toward cities such as Port Dorning to the southeast or Feldersgrod to the west. There are newer additions as well, pointing to small villages like Ponning, and Grun, but whether they were inconsequential before recently or just newly formed, it’s hard to say. Of the former, there was one particular addition that you note. It points to the southwest reading, “Havenforth.”

You narrow your eyes and tap your staff, a length of maple wood etched with various runes, on the ground, grinding some of the refuse under the butt of the staff. Taking a deep breath, you then exhale and continue down the path, walking with a slow, assured gait.

{Hey, how far away are we?} A small voice says in your mind, indistinct and muffled, as if being spoken from a great distance.

{Too far by my reckoning.} You reply, making a mental sigh. {But it’s fine. A few days walking at most.}

{Why not just use your magic, it’s a lot faster.}

{Because it’s also tiring and I need to upkeep my strength.}

{You aren’t seriously going to fight him, right? That’s just a joke you keep making?}

{You know it isn’t.}

No reply comes from the voice within your mind and you look around the open fields, new growth grasses swaying in the breeze. No sign of your familiar. Why they insist on vanishing all the time, you’ll never know, but it’s not like you’ve had the bond for very long. How long have you been a wizard again? All of four months? It’s not like you could be expected to know everything there was to know about magic in that short of a time. Hells, most wizards barely understood their own magic until they were at least a year out from being granted their powers.

But you aren’t most Wizards, no, you have a goal, something that’s burned in your heart for years. Once you obtained the powers of Wizardhood, you put your full might into practicing your powers, becoming proficient in at least one aspect of magic. With that under your belt, you set off with your familiar Erwin the fox.

Most Wizards nowadays would likely find the journey taxing, for they had forgotten the ways of the past. You remember though, and have made sure to keep yourself fit and trim, not overdoing it, but not being a flabby commoner either. As such you are of above average height with a toned physique and strong jaw line covered by a silver blonde beard that you keep well trimmed. Your hair is short and of the same silver blonde, which contrasts with your sharp, green eyes.

As is tradition, you wear loose, muted brown robes that hide your fitness from others. Though the Monstergirls, or Monsters, of this land are now far more docile than before, more “integrated” (such as it is) into society, you cannot trust them not to rape you and try to make you their husband. In the past, such a thing would have lead to the loss of your powers, but now, after The Grand Wizard’s tampering, such fears are irrational. Intercourse will not lead to the loss of your powers however the thought of such a thing fills you with disgust.

Walking past a copse of trees, sunlight filters down into your vision and you blink a few times, holding up your hand to block the rays. It seems that it’s already past noon and in a few hours you’ll have to think about where to stay for the night. Fortunately the signs pointed in the direction of a riverside town known as Nereim which shouldn’t be too far off. This suits you just fine because you’re tired of sleeping outside at night with a spell ward around you to fend off any predatory Monsters and common beasts.

Shouldering your {Backpack}, a far more useful item than a mere {Rucksack} (despite the fact that they are basically the same damn thing), you continue on down the road, calling your plan out to your familiar. You get a small note of confirmation, but frankly you doubt you’ll see them until you comfortably find yourself in an inn with food.

In the distance you hear the whistle of a Leyway, a popular addition to the rather quiet devices. It fades away to nothing, leaving you once again alone on the old dirt road. You haven’t gone away from your home very much in the past… practically forever, not unless you absolutely had to, but when you did the press of people all around you made you irritable. The glare of the sun above didn’t bother you much, as you spent enough time outside to hone your magic, but being out in the open like this was unsettling in its own way.

{Awww, hey buddy, I’m still here for you!}

{Thanks. Thanks a lot.} You think, rolling your eyes.

{I know you’re thinking, “Well gosh, my familiar is an idiot sometimes, but I love ’em because they’re my only friend.”}

{I was not!} You think, before stopping yourself. You sigh and shake your head before mentally grumbling, {A good FRIEND wouldn’t run off as soon as we start moving again.}

No response. What a sack of shit.

{I heard that!}

“Uggghhhhh.” You groan, putting a hand to your head. Dismissing the conversation, you continue to walk down the road toward your destination, figuring you’d reach the town a little before nightfall.

You are, of course, wrong.

The sky above is a shade of red, heralding the coming night , and you are nowhere near the town. Your lovely familiar has made this obvious to you by laughing and saying “you’re getting warmer!” You’re fairly certain they don’t know where the fucking town is either, but Gods damnit if they weren’t going to bully you.

You look up at the sky and then shake your head, realizing that you’d be stuck out here in the dark if you didn’t do something. With the rankling feeling of your familiar smugging at you, you look around you until you find an outcrop of stone nearby. Walking off the path, you step up to the rocks and look about them until you find a large, flat boulder. Sighing, you step onto it and tap the rock with your staff, casting, [Rock Throw].

>Spell known: [Rock Throw]

>Aetheric alignment with earth (rocks, ground, dirt) allows you to manipulate these objects under a certain size and hurl them intended targets

>Modification known: <Rock Slide>

>For short periods of time, you can slide a piece of rock across open ground at increased speeds

The ground shifts and trembles under your magic, and as you feel a pressure upon your mind, the rock trembles forward and slides out of the outcrop onto the grassy plain. You turn your gaze toward your destination and the rock trembles before sliding forward, picking up speed like a Leyway as it digs a furrow through the grass. Soon enough you’re speeding down the road at a pace far outstripping what you were maintaining while walking.

The early evening countryside whisks by on your platform, though you no longer have the luxury of appreciating it as you put all your focus into keeping up your spell. You weren’t kidding when you told your familiar that this taxes your strength, as moving such a large object, even though you’re able to cruise through the ground as if a boat through water, takes a lot of energy! By the time the walls of the town come into view, you feel utterly exhausted, and with a sigh of relief, you cut the spell a little ways out from the gates. No point in spooking the guards after all.

You reach the gates as the sun finishes its descent under the horizon. The guards present look bored, but they let you in without a fuss. Clearly they just want to have an easy evening and you look like some weird sorcerer, which is par for the course as far as sorcerer’s go. With the advents in magitek, you’re not exactly seen as a threat anymore. Somehow, that makes you angry.

As you enter the town you stop and wonder how your familiar is going to get into the town. A smug sending tells you that they’re already here and have been here for awhile. They punctuate it with the word, “slowpoke” and once again you feel that you may have made a mistake in familiar choice. Once again, you continue forward into the night time town.

 Neriem is a fairly large town at the crossroads of the Yangrove and the Dorning river, made noticeable due to the traffic through it from Port Dorning and Feldersgrod. There wasn’t much other reason for the town to exist beyond being a crossroads of sorts, so inns and merchant houses predominated, though with the advent of a Leyway line being built in the town it had grown far larger than it was in the past. Someday it would be a city, but for now it was still a sleepy little town during the evening.

You walk down the cobbled streets lined by brown painted, wooden buildings interspersed with larger, stone structures. Light from lanterns hung from posts down the paths grow brighter as the night creeps further in, making the passing shadows far more noticeable than they would be in the day. Men and women, some of them smiling and happy, others frowning and annoyed pass by the pools of light, everyone on the way to their own destinations. You are not concerned with them, but instead your gaze tracks the other creatures that lurk in the night.

A young girl running about, giggling with joy and happiness collides into you, bouncing off your knee and falling to the ground.  Behind her, you notice a couple running up, a young man and woman, calling to the girl, “Jessabell! Oh what are you doing you silly little girl!” They catch up to the girl and the man stoops down to pick her up while the woman bows her head and says, “I am so sorry for that sir!”

The man sighs and says to his daughter, “You apologize to this man right now, you hear?”

The little girl shuffles awkwardly and bites her lip, to which you notice the glint of sharp, canine teeth. “S… sorry mister.”

You look down into the adorable face of the little girl and you see a bright future in those eyes. Sighing, you make ready to pass it off when you pause, noticing something that eluded you in the darkness beforehand. Atop the girl’s black-haired head, sit a pair of black, canine ears. Looking down, you notice she has canine paws for her feet and hands, and even a tail wagging back and forth. She’s a Monster, likely a common Wolfgirl.

Looking up, you notice that the woman is of the same breed, her expression utterly abashed on her gorgeous face. Your mouth works a little soundlessly for a moment before you mutter, “It’s fine…” and hurriedly walk away, staff clicking against the cobbles.

As you walk past you notice more and more Monsters in the crowd, many wrapped around the arms of men, or carrying young girls. All shapes and sizes of Monsters, from lithe Catgirls to heavyset Minotaurs, to the equine Centaurs all about you, more than you’d seen before. You feel your breaths begin to quicken and your knees grow weak as the fatigue from the before sets in harder than before. Your vision begins to swim and you stagger off the path finding yourself inside an alleyway, though you barely notice.

Using your staff to stabilize yourself, you place your other hand to the wall and lean forward, panting. You feel your insides roil inside you and you have to breathe in and out from your nose to keep from retching. As you wobble there, you feel a hand on your back and you stiffen, turning around as best you can to stare at the newcomer.

Though your vision is hazy, you can see the form of a young, fit woman wearing a fairly revealing piece of clothing. You’re unable to make out her other features, but she rubs your back and says, “Oh dear, are you alright? Have you had too much to drink?”

You blink your eyes and shake your head, turning to look down at the ground as things come back into focus. A musical chuckle escapes her lips and she pats your back before sliding her hand to your head, softly patting it. “Haha, I see. If you’ll excuse me however, I need to find my sister so I’ll be leaving now. If hope I don’t find you passed out on my way back, I hear these streets can be quite rough at night.”

You feel her soft fingers slide off your head and see her step away, her footsteps looking a little off to you for some reason. Her skirts sway in your vision and you hear her say, “It would be a shame if anything happened to you. You remind me of my Father after all.” With a chuckle, she hurries out of your vision, and you look up, noticing something trailing in the air behind her. Tails… they’re tails, each tipped with some strange bladed implement.

Something about that should be relevant, but at the moment you’re more focused on getting your stomach settled. Something moves within your mind and you feel a familiar presence behind you, that being you familiar.

{Well hey there sunshine, feeling alright?}

You groan and stand up, taking a deep breath and feeling slightly better. Was it because of something she did or was it just having a moment to recuperate? Either way, you grit your teeth and stabilize yourself preparing your next move. As you think it through you hear a young, female shriek from where the girl had left further down the alleyway.

You blink a few times, trying to piece out what you heard. Was that?…

{Hey, move it slowpoke!} Your familiar says, nudging you. {Let’s go see what it’s about.}

You frown, but head down the alleyway, your own curiosity getting better of you. As you get further down the path, you begin to hear the voices of men talking amongst themselves and when you turn a corner, you see a dead end with group of men at the end.

Pulling back against the wall, you take a look at the situation, seeing six large men wearing dark jackets and cloaks, various weapons held in their hands. Their attention is fully on the wall of the alley, lecherous looks on their faces. You frown and look past the gaps in their ranks to see two feminine forms illuminated by a lantern held by one of the men.

Instantly you recognize the outfit of the woman you helped you before, but next to her stands another woman of identical height dressed in grey and black robes and holding a staff in her hands. Something seems very much off with both of them, but before you can figure it out, the gap closes and you curse.

{Are we going to go in there and help them?} Your familiar asks, sounded a mixture of excited and concerned. {This is your chance!}

“I…” You say, still feeling fatigued. As your mental war wages, one of the men, taller than the others, steps forward, jacket worn over his broad shoulders fluttering in a light breeze. As the light plays over them, your eyes go wide when you realize that it’s not a man at all, but instead a Monster!

“Heh, what do we have here?” She says, chuckling with a hungry gaze. Her skin reflects a deep red in the light and two large forms sprout from her forehead, keeping in place a cap which does nothing to contain the large, white hair spilling down her back. She raises her muscular arms and slaps a spiked club in massive fists. “You two don’t look like you’re from around here. Seems you got a little lost!”

“We are quite alright thank you.” Comes the voice of the woman from before. “You can go along on your way.”

“Nah nah.” The red Monster, clearly a Red Oni, says. “If you two sweet things run around at night unescorted, you might run into some bad people, and we can’t have that.”

“Come on, can’t you guys just pick on someone else?” Another voice says, likely the other woman. Her voice sounds very much like the woman from before, but it has a different cadence, less refined. “I’m pretty sure you’re the bad people.”

The Oni laughs, her voice resonating deep down the alleyway. “Now you’ve gone and wounded me! I was trying to be nice, but now my feelings are hurt. I think you two owe me and my boys something for this insult.”

The men chuckle and step forward, brandishing their weapons. They don’t seem to have noticed you, so you could just leave and no one would be the wiser. But what would a true Wizard do in this situation? A REAL Wizard and not the fools that people think are Wizards these days.

{Well?} Your familiar sends, waiting for your move.

“Alright.” You say, gripping your staff tight. This is no time to back down from a challenge. You can’t stand up to some thugs, there’s no way you can stand up to him. Though your head is still sort of swimming and your stomach feels like it’s trying to claw its way out of your abdomen, you take a steadying breath to calm yourself and stand resolute.

{Heh, that’s what I like to see.} Your familiar says, walking forward into the dim light of the alleyway. You spare a glance to your companion as they come into focus.

Familiars are animals or spirits which act as assistants, companions, or tools for the workings of magic. This is what the textbooks will tell you, however like most things in life, that can only prepare you partially for the reality of such things. See, your books mentioned that the familiar would gain some intellectual capacity. They did not mention that your familiar would be a fucking smartass.

{So.} You familiar sends, surveying the situation. He sits back on his haunches, surveying the situation as his long, orange and brown furred tail swishes back and forth. He brings a black paw up to his muzzle and strokes it, blue eyes glinting with intelligence, or curiosity. You can’t tell which.

{Yes, I do suppose you could throw the lot of them off balance with that rumbly spell of yours and then clobber the big one over the head with a rock?} He sends, not bothering to look at you.

{Erwin…}

{Ah, and when the ringleader is down, we use the ensuing confusion to throw rocks at the heads of all the other thugs. A solid plan I think.}

{Erwin!}

The fox startles, looking over at you with surprise. {What is it? If you don’t hurry they’ll beat and then viciously rape those poor girls. Even that Oni! I think she swings that club for the other team, if you catch my drift.}

{No, I don’t… ugh.} You send before shaking your head. {Let me handle this.}

{You know you’re just going to do exactly what I said.}

You let out a deep sigh, knowing that the smug bastard was right. Why did you have to pick a fox for your familiar? You could have found a rattlesnake or an eagle or something, but noooo you had to pick the damn fox that hung around your house. Damnit, a mole would have been more thematic even!

“Whatever…” You say, stepping out from around the wall. The thugs haven’t seemed to make any moves yet thankfully. As you think this however, the Oni raises her club toward the women and shouts,

“Get them!”

“Ah fuck.” You say before slamming your staff into the ground and casting [Tremor].

At first, nothing happens. You watch as the men tense and begin to spring forward, knowing that had they stood still this would be a lot less traumatizing. In a few moments the still earth begins to grumble and at the mouth of the alley the cobblestones shift and rumble, vibrating furiously under your spell.

The men, their footing suddenly jarred out from under them collapse into heaps, some men managing to hurt each other with their weapons in the fall, others falling to all fours to stabilize themselves but falling nonetheless. The lantern falls from its bearer’s grasp and almost clatters to the ground before being caught in a red, meaty hand.

“What the fuck was that?” The Oni shouts, her legs spread out, her body moving in time with the tremors. In her stable position she had time to keep herself upright, and she shines the light toward your direction. As the beam of illumination shines upon you, something whistles forward and smashes into the Oni’s face, causing her to let out a shout and stagger backward, lantern light playing about randomly as it swung from her hand.

{Nice job. Should have shouted something inspiring though, something with flair and pizzazz though.} Erwin thought, nodding his head in a very un… actually it’s a very fox-like, manner.

{I don’t NEED to do something so silly.} You send back, preparing another cobblestone to throw.

{Yeah, well, you didn’t NEED to make silly noises while practicing your magic back at home either.}

{For the love of-}

“WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR PROBLEM?!” The Oni shouts, focusing the light back on you. From the illumination you can see the Red Oni’s face, her hat having been knocked off. Upon her left cheek was a massive bruise starting to form, right in the shape of a cobblestone. Instead of knocking her out like you had hoped, she instead looks fucking furious.

She takes a step toward you, her heavy footfalls not minding the prone forms of her gang, and she steps on the back of one who cries out in pain from the impact. A sick, popping sound echoes and the man whimpers as the Oni continues toward you, murderous intent in her eyes.

“The FUCK made you think that was a good idea? Throwing a rock at me? I’m going to beat your face so badly that when I rape you, I won’t be able to tell if it’s your ass or your face I’m looking at!”

{See, this is where shouting something would have been far more effective!} Erwin sends, taking a few steps backward, his eyes focused on the threat coming toward you.

You raise your hand up and take in a deep breath before shouting, “Turn around now and leave those girls alone.” Loose cobblestones rise up from the streets and hang in the air around you as you stare down the Oni, feeling only a little nervous. “Or else there is more where that came from.”

“HA!” The Oni chuckles, shaking her head. “You’re an interesting one alright, not a bad looker either. I think I’ll only partially rough you up. You don’t need arms, right?” At this she charges forward, swinging her club back to strike at you.

Your eyes go wide and you throw a barrage of stones at the Oni, but she anticipates it and raises her arm, the projectiles bouncing off her powerful musculature, causing little more than flesh wounds. You hurry and cast [Rock Throw] again, shouting, “CHEEKI BREKI IV DAMKE!” in mild panic.

{Yeah wow, I take that back, that sounds super stupid.} Erwin sends as you gasp and drop down, missing being splattered by the club by the barest of margins. You roll to the side, clumsily you may add, and avoid another blow by the club.

“Stay still you little bastard!” She shouts, bringing the club around again.

You grit your teeth and slap your hand on the ground, channeling power into and causing a localized [Tremor]. The Oni recoils, staggering back from the shock and loses her momentum, allowing you a moment to stand and gather yourself as you shout, “You couldn’t have just left them alone, huh?”

“Of course not! Don’t you know who they are? I’m going to make a fortune ransoming them back to Mommy Dearest.”

“Ransoming nobles? Gods, I thought Monsters had SOME honor.”

“Ha, nobles. Something like that, I guess.” The Oni said, placing her club over her shoulder before setting the lantern down. With her free hand, she grabs a flask so large it might as well be a whole bottle, and brings it to her lips.

A rock shoots forth and expertly flings the flask from her hands, sending it sailing off down the alleyway. The sound of metal bouncing down the street echoes in the silent night as the Oni stands there, lips prepared to imbibe whatever fluid she had in the container. She looks down at her empty hand, then to you, and then sighs deeply, placing her free hand onto the club as well before snapping her head back to you and shouting, “YOU LITTLE PIECE OF SHIT!”

“Hmm.” You muse. Perhaps you shouldn’t have done that. Raising your staff up, you prepare to fight her off again when Erwin sends,

{Dodge to the right, to the right!}

You hesitate for the barest of moments before throwing yourself bodily to the right. As you sail through the air you feel a wave of heat come over you, followed by a blinding light in the dark and a cry of pain. You collide with the ground, using some of your magic to soften the fall before rolling to your feet and turning about to see the Oni’s jacket burning brightly as flames wreathe the garment.

“What the…” You mutter, watching the Oni shout and hurriedly take the loose garment off. With her attention upon the flames however, she never saw the form that dashed in close to her, blades flashing in the dark. Nine sharp tips pierced the Oni’s back and she screamed before the black furred objects they were attached to yanked backward and dragged her to the ground. The blades pulled out before she hit with a earthshaking “thud.”

Seizing the opportunity you look about and use your magic to manipulate the largest stone you can find, roughly the size of your head, having it hover over the prone Oni’s form. She stares at it with a dazed expression before groaning and saying, “I just wanted to be rich.”

You slam the rock onto her face and she slips into unconsciousness.

Groaning, you use your staff to stabilize yourself once again, but the fatigue from before washes over you and you find yourself slipping as weariness settles in. Distantly you hear the padded footsteps of the two women come closer to you, but you don’t have the energy to say much, feeling your own consciousness slipping.

“Hey… he doesn’t look so good Sophie.”

“Goodness, it’s the same man from before. I thought he was a drunkard but it seems he’s a practitioner.” You feel a familiar touch on your face, but softer as black fur strokes your cheek.

“So, he’s some kind of sorcerer I guess?” The other woman says, padding around you. “Oh look, has a cute little familiar too!”

“No, not a sorcerer Sylphie. Take a look at his hair, this man is a Wizard by my guess.”

“Hey… you don’t think that he might? You know?”

“I suspect we shall have to ask him in the morning, because I think he’s about to pass out.”

She was very correct, and in the next moment you topple to the ground, vision growing black.

—————————————-

{Wake up you sluggard.}

Your eyes snap open and you blink as your vision returns to you. With a groan, you reach your hand to your face and rub your forehead before dragging your hand down your face. Cloth rustles against your chin and you blink, realizing you’re still fully clothed. Frowning, you push yourself up to find yourself on a bed in a quaint inn room.

The room is small, with one bed and a stand with a wash basin on it. A single window plays soft morning light into the room, and you notice your [Backpack] leaning next to the table, your staff sitting against the wall. You look about the room but don’t see your companion anywhere however. Gritting your teeth, you send to Erwin, {Where are you?}

{Downstairs. Get your ass out of bed.}

{I should have left you in the fucking forest.}

{Love you too ba- ahhhh yeah, right there!}

You blink, confused at the shift in his sending. {Are you… alright?}

{Mmmmm, hmm? What? Oh, yeah fine, just come on already.}

“Fucking fox.” You grumble, getting out of bed and stretching. Despite what happened last night, you feel rather well rested now.

You pause, remembering the events of the evening. The two strange women, the Oni, passing out. Beyond that, you don’t recall anything about how you got here. You’re certain Erwin knows, but he’s not telling you.

Something tells you it’s fine, but you look to your [Backpack]and take out its contents, making sure everything is there.

>Inventory

>[Camping supplies]

>Bedroll, cooking utensils, some food. Nothing fancy

>[Port-O-Glass]

>An Aceis “Besto” version, this moderately powerful Port-O-Glass is actually not the best, but far above the worst. Allows you to connect to the Communion Matrix if there is an active Leyline connection nearby.

>[Geomancy and You! A Beginner’s Guide to Geomancy]

>A starter’s guide for practitioners of Geomancy. You’ve read it here and there but never had the attention span to really read much past <Rock Slide>.

>[Knife]

>It’s like. It’s made of steel? Good for cutting stuff?

>[Beard Care Kit]

>Reintroduced after the resurgence of Wizards and those who wanted to look like Wizards, this kit has everything someone would need to take care of their fantastic, silver blonde beard.

>[Trenchcoat]

> A stylish, long brown coat with many pockets. The two inner pockets are enchanted to be deeper than they appear

You nod your head, finding everything where it should be. Casting a longing glance to your [Beard Care Kit], you sigh and place it back in the pack, not wanting to dawdle any longer. Once all your items are set, you grab your staff and head out of the room and down the hall toward the stairs.

Small chatter from various patrons of the inn drifts in from the common room below. As you descend the stairs, you hear a musical laughter from a familiar voice. One of the women from last night? You reach the bottom of the stairs and look about before Erwin calls, {Over here!}

Being a nebulous voice in your head, you can’t actually tell where the voice came from, but you can feel the tug of your [Familiar Bond] pulling gently to the right. You turn in that direction, heading over to a booth in the corner where you feel your familiar, stopping in place as you reach the table.

Erwin is laying in the lap of the young woman wearing the black and grey robes, her paws in the air as she scratches his belly. His face has a look of utter contentment as she drags her black furred, sharp-nailed fingers across his belly fluff. You feel yourself grow a little nervous as you look up to see the woman’s face, which is full of mirth and joy as she rubs your familiar’s belly. But it is not her face and her cheery green eyes that bother you, no, it’s the pair of brown-furred feline ears that sit atop her head, nestled in long, brown hair tied in a pony-tail behind her, bangs framing her face.

“Ah! Good Morning!” Another voice says, and your attention drifts to the second Monster, the first you had met.

You have to blink a few times to make sure you’re seeing things correctly. While this Monster’s attire is far more revealing, consisting of a red, high-collared vest that exposes her above average cleavage and waist before condensing into red skirts, her face is almost identical to that of the robed Monster.

“Is something wrong?” She asks, cocking her head, feline ears twitching. She blinks and a black furred tail, tipped with a curved blade appears from behind her to flick in the air lazily. You notice either others behind her, of which the other has as well. Her expression lights up suddenly as she says, “Ah, of course! I’m terribly sorry, you must be so confused.”

The Monster rises from the booth and gives you a deep bow from the waist before rising. “My apologies. Please allow me to introduce my sister and I. My name is Sophie and this-” She begins, but is cut off as the other Monster waves her hand in the air with excitement!

“Oh! And I’m Sylphie! We’re twins!” The other Monster chuckles and rubs Erwin’s belly. “Your familiar is super cute. I wish mine would let me pat his belly like this, though I guess that would be kind of hard…”

Sophie gives her sister a side-long glance before rolling her eyes and nodding her head. “Yes, as she says, we are twins. I’m sure you’re quite confused as to why you’re here. Well, if you’d take a seat, I would like to explain everything over breakfast.”

When you fail to do so, she frowns and says, “Is this about what the Oni said last evening? I assure you, that was a one off situation, we did not need your assistance, however we are quite thankful for you rending it all the same.”

“I know who you are.” You say curtly. The twins look at each other with surprise before looking back to you.

“Uhm. R-Really?” Sylphie asks, her hand sliding over to a staff seated behind her.

“Yes.” You say, nodding to their tails. “You two are Cat O’Nine Tails. Two of three in the whole world as far as I know. Daughters of the Monster Lady and the Grand Wizard.”

Sophie looks at you with a neutral expression, but you can feel tension under that mask. She takes in a small breath and says, “Correct.”

You look down to your familiar, who seems utterly uninterested in the conversation, before gritting your teeth and saying, “If you two are here, that means your father is nearby. Where is he?”

The two look at you with surprise, clearly not anticipating this response. Sylphie gives her sister a nervous glance and Sophie inclines her head ever so slightly. “What business do you have with him?”

“My business concerns him and him alone. I just need you to tell me where he is.”

“Sister…” Sylphie mutters, looking between the two of you with worry. “Maybe?…”

“I will be plain about it.” Sophie says, her voice absolute. “Our father is not here.”

“Then I’m going.” You say, turning you back to the two. “Come Erwin.”

“You will not find him in Deleor.” Sophie says, causing you to pause and turn about to look at her. She stares at you with a firm expression before saying matter of factly, “No one knows where he is.” Her neutral expression breaks as a chilling smirk appears on her face.

“No one, except us.”

Annoyance builds within you and you narrow your eyes as you turn about to face the two Cat O’Nine Tails. Sylphie looks nervous still, but Sophie keeps that smug look upon her face as she waves for you to sit. “Come now, sit down so we can talk over a little proposal mister…” She frowns. “What is your name again?”

“Just call me Wizard.” You say, but Sylphie shakes her head.

“Ugh, no, that reminds me way too much of Dad. Vetoed.”

You stare at her before sighing and rolling your hand. “Fine, call me Rommel.”

“I see.” Sophie says as you grab a chair and sit it in front of the booth rather than sitting next to the one of the two Monsters. You see Sophie’s lip quirk at this, but she keeps quiet, instead folding her hands together on the table. “Excellent. I’m glad you can be as amenable as your familiar.”

You feel an amount of smug that shouldn’t be physically possible emanate from your familiar at this, but you merely roll your eyes and focus back on Sophie while Sylphie rubs Erwin’s belly again. Placing your hand on the table, you ask, “What proposal did you have in mind?”

“I see you’re quite interested in meeting our father, many people are. Our brother in law certainly does!” She chuckles, jovial expression on her face. “However…” She begins, a fierceness burning in her eyes. “Do you plan on harming our father?”

“No.” You say, mostly telling the truth. You don’t wish to harm him, but if he won’t do as he must then…

Sophie studies your features for a long while before she sighs and speaks in a less serious tone. “Good. I must wonder however, what your business is with him before I can permit you to know his whereabouts.”

Damnit. If she’s telling the truth and they’re the only ones who know where The Grand Wizard is, then you had to play along, for now at least. You grunt, “I need to ask him something. Something he did during his Quest. Something very important relating to Wizards.”

Sophie’s eyes narrow but she looks to the side as Sylphie places a hand there, shaking her head. “Come on sis, he’ll tell us if he wants to. I at least believe that he doesn’t want to hurt Dad.”

“Sylphie…” Sophie begins, but her sister cuts her off, speaking directly to you.

“You see, we need your help.” She lays it out plainly, a little edge in her voice. “Our Father has gone missing and we know where he is but… it’s going to be a long journey and having a Wizard around would certainly be helpful.” She looks at you with kitty-cat eyes, although instead of pity, you feel a little annoyed at such an obvious ploy.

“Well.” Sophie says, nodding her head. “That is the long and short of it. We want you to accompany us to find our father.” She laces her fingers together and looks into your eyes.

You look back and forth between the two Monsters, studying their expressions. Sylphie has a look of determination that barely conceals her nervousness while Sophie’s calm demeanor is clearly overlying a worry of her own. These two want something from you, but what? You’re not a cruel man, but you’re not stupid either, especially when dealing with Monsters, though your interactions have been limited.

“Why?” You ask with a matter-of-fact tone. They both jump a little before turning to each other.

“Well, because three people are better than just two!” Sylphie says, a little too much haste.

“Because another spellcaster would be an excellent addition, and since you say you mean no harm to father…” Sophie says, letting her words trail off.

{The cute one is lying.} Erwin says, still laying on his back while nuzzling toward Sylphie’s hand.

{They are identical twins you furball.}

{My point still stands.}

Like you’d thought, both of them aren’t exactly telling the truth. You believe that their Father isn’t here, they do seem sincere about that, but as to why they’d ask a stranger, especially some dodgy old wizard they’d never met before, to accompany them off to who knows where? Trusting, these two were far, far too trusting.

“I see.” You say, standing up without warning. You grab your staff and beckon to Erwin before reaching into your pouch and pulling out a silver coin to place on the table. “Thanks for the room.”

Turning about, you start to walk away, but feel something latch onto your arm, keeping you in place. You pause and look down to find a very soft, black tail curled about your robe and you frown in disgust before looking to the source to find Sylphie of all people leaning across the table, tail outstretched.

“W-Wait!” She says, pleading in her eyes. “You can’t just leave like that!”

“I can, and I will.” You say, grabbing her admittedly incredibly soft, tail and yanking it off you, careful to avoid the serrated edge of the blade at the end. “I have no mind to be dragged around by two kittens who won’t even be up front with me on why they want me around.”

“Odd words coming from a man who keeps his own secrets.” Sophie says, not moving from her position at the table. You give her a level look and she closes her eyes before sighing out, “Sylphie is emotional, but I cannot fault her for that. It’s her- our first time off on our own.”

Cocking your head, you turn to regard her with confusion. “The daughters of The Grand Wizard and the Monster Lady have never been away from home alone?”

“Well, I mean, when you put it like that it’s a little…” Sylphie says, rolling her hand. She thinks about it for a moment before sighing and shaking her head. “No, she’s right, we haven’t…”

“Let me get this straight.” You say placing your hand to your forehead and taking a deep breath. “The two of you want to travel to Gods know where to find your Father who, assuming from the desperation in your voices, may be in a situation he himself can’t handle, and you’ve never been away from home alone?”

You throw your hands up in the air. “Here I thought you’d have some crazy training in both magical and martial arts, the best tutors in the world, and be fantastic adventurers, but you’re nothing but kittens, aren’t you?”

Sylphie’s ears flatten against her head and she sinks down into the seat, looking like nothing more than a beaten puppy (or perhaps kitten, in this case). Sophie wraps a tail around one of her sister’s as she settles her jaw, gathering her thoughts. She takes a deep breath before saying, “What you say is correct, in a manner of speaking. Yes, we have had training in various field. I am accomplished in using my tails as weapons while my sister is well versed in magic, however we have always been accompanied by our maids of sorts and have never had to… well.”

“Dirty your hands with anything.”

“Yes, that.” Sophie frowns and cups her hands together as she looks down at the table. “If you want honesty, we could likely have dealt with the thugs last night, but we were caught off guard at first, surprised. We had thought ourselves more than capable to handle dangers, but in that instant we were nothing more than… bah, ‘scaredy cats.'”

She scowls at herself, clearly finding the play on words or their behavior distasteful. “Your assistance allowed us the opportunity to deal with the off-balance thugs and to take down their leader, of which we thank you. I had intended to let you be after that, perhaps pay a minor reward for your services, however…”

Sylphe’s ears perk up and she looks at you, a little afraid. “I mean, you’re a Wizard, right? Wizards are powerful, sometimes rude, and sometimes downright weird, but at the end of the day every wizard I’ve met has wanted to help people, right?”

People. She used the term so casually when referring to herself, as if she didn’t understand the inherent dichotomy between actual people and Monsters. You feel your grip tighten on your staff as your blood boils. Helping people? Yes, Wizards helped PEOPLE, that was what they did. But something about her tone rankles you, though you can’t explain it. In the end you hiss out, words dripping with venom:

“Not all Wizards are like that. Perhaps only the ones you’ve met because of your Father, but I am nothing like them.”

“No, you’re not.” Sophie says after a pause, a deep frown on her face. “You’re like Father was before he met Mother. You’re exactly as Blake described him when they first met, aren’t you?”

“So what if I am?” You retort, gaze shifting to her.

Sophie studies your expression again before shaking her head. “Very well then.” You turn about at this, assuming it to be a dismissal, but as soon as you take a step away, you hear her say,

“We will pay for room and board on the journey. Other supplies as such may also be purchased within a budget, however you are expected to perform as a bodyguard, using your magic to keep us safe from harm. Should any particular obstacle be in our way when we find our Father, you will also be expected to do your best to help us remove said obstacle. Once Father has been secured, you may, of course, do as you please.”

You hang your head and turn about once more, noticing the fire in her eyes that wasn’t there before. A look of confusion crosses your expression as you ask, “What?”

“As I have just explained, we are willing to contract you on our journey to our Father. Should you accept these terms, we shall depart later today.”

Incredible. You shake your head and say, “Why should I travel with you two, inexperienced kittens after everything you just told me? Gods, why would you want to travel with me?”

“Because.” Sophie says, straight to the point. “I do not quite care for you or your attitude, nor do I fully trust you, but I think it is very clear to me now that you MUST speak with Father.”

Sylphie blinks in surprise, and even Erwin looks over at Sophie with some confusion. You narrow your eyes and say, “What if I’m lying about wanting to hurt him?”

“You aren’t.” She says, squashing the argument. “Wizards are incredibly versatile additions to our team. I am certain that we can make this journey more agreeable to everyone involved if we work together.”

“Isn’t that right, Mr. Rommel?”

Sylphie places her hands together and looks up at you, a little nervous. “Please? I promise we won’t be a burden! I know a lot of magic, I just get kind of… nervous these days is all.  That fireball you saw was just  taste of what I can do!” She points to her sister. “And Sophie is waaaaaay more skilled with her tails than I am, really!”

{They seem earnest this time.} Erwin says, padding up next to you. {Wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world to have them around. Tactically speaking it would be much better than going off on our own.}

Sophie places her black furred finger upon the coin and slides it back to you. “You can keep this, of course. You will have separate accommodations when we happen to have rooms available as well.”

“What, you don’t want sex like all the other Monsters?”

Sophie’s lip twitches a fraction before she says, unable to contain amusement in her voice. “With you? No, I wouldn’t dream it.”

Part of you feel insulted by the words, but the rational part takes that as a good thing. She honestly appears to have no interest in you sexually, and when you look over to Sylphie, her expression blanches and she shakes her head almost violently. This seems a little odd to you, considering that she is a Monster Witch, but you keep that thought to yourself.

“I’m afraid we can’t sit in one place for too long. We have quite the journey ahead of us of course, so I will need to know your answer now.

The two Cat o’Ninetails look at you once again, waiting for your answer.

Your throw your hands up into the air and exhale loudly, making a few of the other patrons eye you with annoyance. Dropping into the chair, you let your staff slide against the table as you sigh out, “Fine. I’ll babysit you two, as long as it gets me to your damn father.”

“Excellent, now-“

“HOWEVER!” You say, straightening up. “There’s a few ground rules we’re going to have to put into place here. First off, since you two clearly need the help, I’ll be in charge. You want my protection, then you’re going to need to listen to what I say.”

“Hey, that’s a little pushy don’t you-” Sylphie begins before you cut her off.

“Do the two of you have camping supplies? Extra rations? Wards?”

“Ehm.” Sylphie says, thinking.

“I thought not. Second off, where are we even going?”

Sophie nods her head. “The Ectrian wastes.”

“Right, the Ectrian…” You pause, turning to stare at the more proper of the two. “I’m sorry, did you say the Ectrian Wastes?”

“Indeed.” Sophie says, sighing. “Father sent us word some months ago saying he was heading there, but he has not returned since. I believe he was headed to the Kingdom of Setet.”

“The Kingdom of…” You mutter to yourself, not quite certain what that meant.

“I’m not surprised you haven’t heard of it. Most Deleorians, even those who spend all day on the Communion Matrix know little of the desolate region to the East. The Kingdom of Setet is a realm ruled by a Pharoah known as ‘The Prophet of the Twins.'”

You drag your hand over your face and sigh out, “Great. So the desert, alright then, I think I’m not even equipped for that.”

“Yeah but you know Geomancy.” Sylphie says, nodding. “That’s kind of a benefit, right?”

“How much sand do we really have around here?” You shake your head and say, “Anyway, so we’re going to the desert. Because of that we’d have to go over the mountains, yes? That’s difficult in its own right.”

“Not necessarily.” Sophie says, holding up a finger. “Ships leaving out of Port Dorning make stops in Port Amun’ra quite frequently as trade is always booming between the two regions. I believe it would be best to go in through there.”

“What? Sis we talked about this!” Sylphie says, a hint of fear in her eyes. “You know I’m not so keen about boats, and besides, Dad went through the mountain passes out of Borne, we both agreed that’s probably the route he took. What if he’s still over in that region?”

“Sylphie, please, Father clearly has been able to get through some silly mountains. We’ll make better time on the ship.”

“But we have Mr. Ed! You know he doesn’t like boats either.”

“Mr. Ed doesn’t seem to care much about anything.”

“Hey, you don’t know that! He-“

“QUIET.” You growl at the two of them and the immediately pull away, backs going straight as they look at you at attention. Well that’s… an interesting response. They seem to find it odd themselves, and Sophie mutters something to herself before shaking her head. You rub your temples, knowing this is going to be tiresome, and continue speaking.

“We’ll have to find one method of travel after we stock up on supplies. It’s a ways out to either of those routes, though we’ll probably be able to get desert supplies around those towns. We can get the basics here.”

“Sounds reasonable.” Sophie says, nodding. “We both have a [Bag of Holding] with some basic supplies each. We would appreciate any tips you have.”

“Here’s one, you two should hide your tails.”

“Hide our… huh?” Sylphie says, looking a little confused.

“Ah, I see.” Sophie says, nodding her head. “To make us less of a target, like with that Oni.”

“Correct.” You reply. “I want to avoid as much trouble as I can, especially if anyone is looking for you two.” You pause and think about it for a moment. “Speaking of which, where is your Mother in all of this?”

“It is not appropriate to speak about the Monster Lady’s whereabouts in a public space.” Sophie says, a little too quickly.

{Ohhhh she’s hiding something, though she’s kind of right.} Erwin sends, jumping back up to Sylphie. The Cat o’Ninetails begins petting his head again and you frown at him. Smug little bastard.

“I’d be careful petting him, he just wants you to scratch out his fleas.”

“Well, yeah, he’s a fox.” Sylphie says, rolling her eyes. “Of course he has fleas. Don’t you, you mangy little thing? Who’s a cute mangy little kit. Is it you?”

{It is me!} Erwin sends, even though Sylphie can’t hear it, rolling on his back again. He flashes you a smug smile that only a fox could produce. One of these days, one of these days, zip, bang, zoom.

Alright so you don’t actually hate your familiar, but it won’t do for him to get so smug. You’ll have to try to keep him in line at some point, but anything else at this point is just going to make you seem like an asshole. Appealing as that might be, it’s probably better for the situation to look firm but not too firm.

Sophie looks at her tails and frowns before bunching them all together and twisting, turning the blades inside carefully and forming a large and fluffy tail, if a little off looking. Any Kitsune would know it’s a load of horse shit, but she now looks like a different person.

Turning about in her seat, she looks over the tail and shrugs. “Mmm, Mother was right, it isn’t that difficult to do.”

“Uwah…” Sylphie utters, trying to do it with her own black tails. She somehow manages to form a knot with two tails and looks to her sister with a pleading expression. Sophie rolls her eyes and undoes them, saying,

“Yes, well, maybe you should keep yours inside your robes.”

“But that’s going to be really hot!”

“Deal with it.” You say, shrugging.

“Uwah…” Sylphie mutters.

“Right then.” You say, holding up your fingers. “So, we’re going to follow my lead, we’re going to the desert, we’re going to get supplies so we can make it TO the desert, and you two are going to keep a low profile.” Looking between the two, you continue, “I believe I have made everything clear. The last point is payment.”

“I said that your charges would be covered.” Sophie says. “If you should require other equipment or money you shall speak with me. You will not receive any other payment until our Father is found, at which point you will be paid whatever is deemed appropriate, as well as you will conclude whatever business you have with him.”

You feel your hackles rise at this challenge, but you keep quiet, noticing Erwin’s look out of the corner of his eye. Fine, it was a small concession to make anyway as you highly doubt you can get them to allow you to hold onto all of their money, however much it may be. Considering the nonchalant way she spoke of money, either she was very naive or had plenty to go around. Based on her clothing, you’re thinking the latter.

“Very well. But it will be over 50 Gold.” You say, nodding your head. Sophie pauses, then sighs and holds out her hand to which you reach  and pause before you touch her fingers. Looking into her eyes, you say, “I forgot to mention as well, but if either of you try anything sexual, this deal is over.”

Sophie rolls her eyes and grasps your hand, the soft feel of fur against your skin feeling strange, but comforting somehow. “Mr. Rommel, I can assure you, neither of us have the remotest interest in anything but your magic.”

“That’s what I want to hear.” You say, shaking her hand once, sealing the contract.

Sophie shakes her head, letting go of your hand before she sighs and says, “Honestly, Monsters have changed in the past twenty years. This world is not the same place it was back then, Father and Mother made sure of that.”

“You don’t have to tell me that…” You mumble, wiping your hand on your robes.

“What?”

“Let’s go and get this started.” You say, covering up your mumbling.

“In a moment. I did say we were having breakfast, yes?” Sophie looks over her shoulder as a server walks up with a few plates of breakfast fare. “Might as well eat up, we have a long journey ahead of us.”

————————————-

Breakfast was actually really good. Clearly they were in a nicer inn because the food was downright edible and you couldn’t stop from eating seconds. The two ate with far more gusto than young women should as well, but maybe it had to do with being Monsters or something. Either way, when you’d finished, Sophie paid off the rooms and the three of you went to review your supplies.

Feeling a chill come on, you changed into your [Trenchcoat]. From the outside it looks like a large, brown coat with multiple pockets, but on the INSIDE it looks like a large, brown coat with multiple pockets. The trick is, this coat happens to have two pockets enchanted on the inside that are deeper than they should be, and can be used to store items. Not exactly as large as a [Bag of Holding] but it be very useful for storing items. Oh and it also had another, rather costly to enchant, pocket which kept hot things hot and cold things cold. Sometimes you have to ask yourself, how does it know?

You wish you could think of a cool name for it, but [Pocket Coat],[Pocket Protector], or [Coat of Arms] sound super fucking gay, so you just stick with trenchcoat.

With your [Trenchcoat] on, you shift some items from your [Backpack] into the larger pockets. Your [Knife], [Port-O-Glass], and [Geomancy and You! A Beginner’s Guide to Geomancy] get moved while your [Wizard’s Robes] get shifted to your [Backpack].

As you place the book into your pocket, you pause and flip it open, noticing it has a table of contents, like any proper book should have.

  1. Introduction to Geomancy
  2. Rocking it out, various types of basic rocks and their properties
  3. My first spell [Rock Throw]
  4. The earth beneath you, a treatise on [Tremor].
  5. Building a better [Wall]
  6. Improving Walls: Warding Circles
  7. A Finer Hand: Particulate manipulation
  8. Discussion and Afterward.

So it’s a fairly short book when you look it over. Most of the chapters are about the theory of the magic rather than anything particular, but it is a beginning  place to get started for this kind of magic. You wonder if it’s possible to get a more advanced book in this town…

Putting your book away, you head off to the meet the girls and look over their supplies which, it turns out are fairly well stocked.

Each of them did have bedrolls, a little bit of food (most of it perishable it seems), a few cooking supplies, though clearly they haven’t been used yet. They have some water, not enough, and generally you get the impression that they didn’t consider how long this journey was supposed to be. Beyond these supplies, Sophie has a variety of outfits, most impractical for travel, and a make-up kit while Sylphie has a small chest filled with various items for enchantment as well as a book or two on magical theory.

Picking up one of the books, you look it over, seeing it titled as [Elemental magic]. That’s it, there’s nothing else special about it, it’s just a book on basic elemental magic of Pyromancy, Fulgromancy, and  Glaciemancy. You notice however that this book also has a mention to [Aeromancy] which is very odd considering it isn’t often considered as basic elemental magic.

The other book was [Wild Empathy: Magic and Mundane Monsters]. You frown at it, but Sylphie plucks it from your hands, saying, “It’s about animals, don’t worry about it.”

Rolling your eyes, you say, “Fine. So we need to get some extra supplies, a few magical wards, and some potions for starters.” You frown at that and say to Sylphie, “Where are your mana potions anyway?”

“Mana potions?”

“Yeah, you know, those bottles filled with jizz you Monsters drink for your magic.”

“Oh, that.” She sighs. “I really don’t like drinking those.”

You give her an odd look as she says that. “Don’t you Monsters like drinking semen or something?”

“Yeah, I guess, I just never felt it was really all that necessary until I got older, and it blew my mind when Mom sat me down and told me what was in the potions.” She sighs and finishes with her pack. “I’ll have to buy some in town I suppose. Maybe some apple juice to cut it with.”

“You’re a strange one.”

“Yeah, but I like it that way.” She says, smirking. “Okay! Ready to go Sis?”

“Yes, I believe so.” Sophie says, finishing packing her clothing. You notice that she managed to hide all of her small clothes so deftly you never once saw them while she was unpacking. Erwin thinks she doesn’t wear anything, but whenever he walks near her skirt, the mono-tail swats him away. You find this amusing.

The trip around the town was fairly uneventful. Since you needed to walk around town, bringing along Sylphie’s familiar wouldn’t be overly advantageous, and Mr. Ed was fine staying and eating hay anyway. A general store was able to provide all of you with multiple days worth of travel fare (This included heated bread pouches and mountain elixir for you), waterskins, a lantern, and some juice. Sophie wished to purchase wine, but you vetoed that, reminding them you needed to stay focused. She did purchase various easy to keep vegetables and a few other perishables, though frankly you think they’ll just go to waste, even with a bag of holding’s ability to keep things a little fresher longer.

 Since you had bags of holding handy, a tent was also purchased, something both of the girls seemed comfortable about having, but at the same time you don’t think either of them know how to put one up. (You really don’t know either, but it would be good to learn).

The stop to a magic shop ends up being the last stop. Both you and Sylphie get a little excited entering the store, looking about for various items. Unfortunately the woman (read: not a Monster) running the shop points to a sign as you enter which reads (No animals: Especially not familiars).

{Discrimination!} Erwin cries. {I have half a mind to run her out of business!}

“There there little guy.” Sylphie says, patting his head at his agitation. “We’ll be back for you later, okay?”

Erwin makes a small whine before nodding his head and curling up into a ball outside the store. Sophie decides to stand outside as well, though she keeps looking at the sky with a little nervousness for some reason. She hands over a coin pouch and you and Sylphie both enter the store and look about.

This town’s fare is fairly regular, most goods coming into the town being destined for Sanctifrond or Feldersgrod so no exotic items were present. [Bags of Holding] are well in stock, but your group basically has four of them, so what’s the point in another? Beyond some simple items like [magesight goggles] and some weird, sound cancelling soles for shoes, nothing much else of interest lies in the store beyond a decently well stocked library, mainly with magical basics. You do happen to find a copy of a book called, [Clay in a Sculptor’s Hand: Golem creation and theory].

Out of curiosity, you look about for anything on summoning, as it had been something wriggling about in the back of your head ever since you spent that one week just reading stories about Dullahan and the theories associated with them and the various Fay Monsters. Of course, no such book existed, as summoning was not a branch of magic that sane people want anything to do with as it mostly portends with dealing with spirits, which is usually illegal and also gets Nerg’s attention sometimes. 

“Uhm, well there’s like, ghosts and such.” Sylphie says, holding a few vials of [Mana potions] in her arms as well as two [Health potions]. She shifts them around, and you take the vials of red [Health potions] from her arms, noticing that there were none left on the shelf. Shrugging, she says, “Shop is run by a human, you know humans can’t do alchemy. She must import them so supply is probably low.”

Setting down the potions on the counter, she turns to you and says, “But anyway. I think Mom talked about summoning before but she basically said, ‘Don’t do it or I’ll make you spend a week with only Chaika and a mop.'” She shivers as she says this. “Anyway, I wouldn’t go looking into that if I were you.”

“You seem to have the capacity for multiple types of magic.” You say, placing your own supplies on the counter, adding in some [Pentagramic wards]. “Odd for a Monster.”

“Yeah, through my studies I found it a little weird too that I could do well, anything it seems. I always thought it was because Dad was a Wizard, but Mom can do this too, so I don’t know? Maybe our species are just super special or something?” She shrugs, clearly not thinking much about it before handing over a gold coin to the shop keeper. The woman breaks it into silver pieces and some coppers, handing back the change and watching as the two of you bag your items.

>You obtain [Clay in a Sculptor’s Hand: Golem Creation and Theory]

>A small book expounding upon manipulation of various materials to create golems as well as the means of which to control them remotely.

>You obtain 2x [Health Potions]

>A magical restorative potion, these semen based Monster creations can fix all but the most severe injuries in almost no time. Now in Jizz berry flavor!

>You obtain 4x [Pentagramic wards]          

>New and improved, only requiring five wards for the same effect as six! Set them up and create a barrier that will keep most threats at bay!

>Any claims that it attracts succubi is unsubstantiated.

“Oh, I forgot.” You say, nodding back to the [Magesight Goggles]. It might be best we purchased a pair of those.

“Why?” Sylphie says, cocking her head. “I can already do that and so can you. Waste of money if you ask me.”

Already do? Hmph, this kitten was a bag of surprises.

The two of you walk out of the store with your items on hand and meet a moping Erwin who pines for Sylphie’s attention (and receives it) as well as Sophie who says, “We should get going soon. No sense staying here.”

Sylphie blinks and looks over at her, noticing her sister shake her head. You frown and ask, “What are the two of you on about. You’re very nervous about time it seems. Is there something you should be telling me?”

“Ehm.” Sylphie says, waving her hand. “Well, you see uhm, it’s about this ah, this friend of ours who ah…” She sighs and looks to Sophie. “Can you just tell him?”

“If you must know it is because there maybe someone looking for us.”

“What, more thugs?”

“Not…quite.” Sylphie says.”You remember when I mentioned Chaika, right?” You nod and she says, “Yeah so we sort of… left home without telling her we were uhm… leaving.”

“Chaika. The one from the book? The spirit of a dead Lamia who sucked off the Lord Commander of the Order of the Heroic brotherhood before being killed and then tried to tempt your Father into dark magic until she eventually became a half decent person… knife?”

“Oh, you’ve read Wizardquest? Yes, the one and the same, though she is currently within a construct body.” Sophie says, seeming not the least bit taken aback. “She has been one of our caretakers and may still be at a minor sabbatical in Feldersgrod.”

“And why in the name of the Gods would you leave home and not tell your psychopathic murder bot maid that you were going on a journey?”

Sophie raises an eyebrow. “You barely know us and you called us inexperienced and naive. Do you think SHE would have let us go?”

“Yeahhhhh, she almost might not know about the letter from Dad.” Sylphie says, chuckling a little. “We left her a note though!”

“So basically… she’s going to be gunning for both of you to come back home if she finds you.”

“Likely so.” Sophie says, expression becoming hard. “And if she does, this journey will be over and your chances of ever seeing our Father will be slim.” She leans back.

“It is THAT important to you, right?”

“Tch.” You say, looking to the side. You think it over for a moment before wiping your hand across your face. “How long ago did you leave?”

“Two days ago. I expect she will be in Feldersgrod a little while longer, however she is quite fast. I suspect if we can make some good distance from here she won’t be able to find us so readily.”

“A blue blur, if you will.” Sylphie adds. When you give her an odd look she says, “Her current chassis is cobalt blue.”

Looking up at the sun, you judge it’s about noon, so plenty of time to get some distance in if you hurry. “You two are playing with some serious fire.”

“And you, Mr. Rommel.” Sophie says, winking at you. “Still took our contract.”

—————————————————————-

After a quick stop back at the inn to get Mr. Ed, your little group was off to the east, traveling  along the main road along the river. River travel would have probably made it too easy to find the two if anyone were to ask around, and frankly Sylphie seemed horrifically opposed to the idea, which set her into a small argument with her sister that you had to break up again.

Because of this you walked, or in the case of Sylphie, rode, in relative silence which worked well for you. Having those two little kittens cat fighting would seriously put a damper on this contract. Frankly, you’re still a little surprised you took it, as well as Erwin, who kept pace with you for once in his fuzzy little life.

{You’re taking this better than expected.} Erwin sent, a mouse he had caught in his mouth. He tore it apart while sending, a strange habit of his.

{And you’re getting rather cozy with the ditzy one.}                                

{Well, maybe if you had soft hands and long nails, I’d be cozy with you too.}

{I could have made it a stipulation of no petting the fox.}

{And I could bite you in the ankles when you sleep.} He finishes the meal and tosses the rest of the carcass over to the side. {Mmm, they grow them plump around towns. Still, I figured you’d be a bit more uncomfortable. Didn’t you always go on about how Monsters are scum?}

{I don’t have a choice. They’re my only way to reach that bastard.}

{Yes, I gathered.} Erwin padded ahead, quiet for a moment before sending again. {But is it really so important for things to go back to the way they were?}

{Yes.} You send. That’s all it was, but Erwin nods his head slowly.

{I see. I am bound to follow you, and know that I won’t betray you but… what if things CAN’T go back to the way they were?}

You remain silent and Erwin mentally sighs before dashing off into the tall grass and away from view.

The sound of hoof beats comes from your other side and you see a tall, bay gelding in full tack walk up next to you, his steps in rhythm with your own. He gives you a look and snorts, to which Sylphie reaches down and pats his mane.

“Aww come on, he doesn’t smell that much like moldy cheese.”

“Your familiar thinks I smell like moldy cheese.” You say in a flat voice.

Sylphie shrugs. “Uhm. A little bit. But it’s probably those bread pouches in your pocket. He says they’re still warm.”

“They are.”

An awkward silence pervades the scene before Sylphie coughs into her hand and says, “Soooo, you’re a wizard.”

“Correct.”

“And you know… magic.”

“Also correct.”

“So like… you know a lot of magic?”

“Geomancy.”

“Oh! Yeah, Dad and Mom don’t really do much geomancy so I don’t know much about it.”

“I know.”

Things get quiet again before Sylphie sighs. “This is going to be a long journey, huh?”

“Most likely.” You both turn away from each other and the young Monster frowns, her tails flicking in agitation under her dress. Mr. Ed gives you a sidelong glance before looking back ahead. You sigh and ask, “What magic do you know?”

“Oh! Uhm. Hmm. Well, I have a decent grasp of the basic elemental magics of pyromancy, glaciemancy, fulgromancy, aeromancy, hydromancy, animal empathethics, a decent understanding of plagamancy, luxmancy… a few others I dabbled in. Oh and I read a book on alchemy but that requires… you know what it requires.”

You look at her with surprise. “That’s quite the list.” You remember the events of last evening however and then say, “How many can you cast appropriately?”

“Uhhhhh.” Sylphie says, looking embarrassed. “I mean, I can cast all the spells fairly well, it’s just… sometimes things don’t come out right, or I get nervous and well, suddenly fireworks become a firestorm or something.” She waves her hands quickly, “I put it out super quick though!”

“You need some discipline it seems. Why didn’t you Father teach you this?”

“I had discipline when I was younger I guess, but then Dad got really busy and so did Mom and I just…” She trails off before shaking her head. “Anyway, I’d be happy to practice spells with you want. Sophie was never big into magic.”

“What was that about me?” Sophie asks, coming up alongside the two of you.

“Nothing!” Sylphie says. Mr. Ed increases his speed a little without any obvious signs from her, leaving you with Sophie who just looks at you in confusion.

You shrug your shoulders. “Nothing, it seems.”

——————————————————-

The three (five) of you find a little place sheltered near some trees off the main road as nightfall approaches and set up camp. Sylphie gets Mr. Ed unpacked and brushed while Sophie collects firewood, using her tails to slice apart dead wood from trees overhead, somehow having a good idea for such a thing. You end up figuring out how to put the tent together, manipulating the earth a little to drive the stakes into the ground nice and firm. Only way this thing was being moved is if you move it yourself. This being finished, you set up a set of wards around the campsite, nodding as they hum in activation.

In a short a campfire site is made and Sylphie lights it with a small spark, to which her sister begins to set up the cooking equipment with more speeds than you’d imagine. In short order she tosses together a meal in the pot and frankly it smells quite good. When you question her about it, she smirks.

“A girl needs to have some marketable skills for a future husband beyond her good looks, don’t you think?” She thinks about it for a moment and chuckles, “No, I suppose you wouldn’t.”

Deciding to ignore the quip, the three (four, as Erwin reappeared right as meal time starts) of you eat the rather good meal and you begrudgingly compliment the chef. She gives you a look so smug you think only Erwin could have made it, and says, “I know it’s good.”

“Could use more salt though.”

“Dear sir, I think you produce enough of that on your own.”

The other two snicker at that and you swear that Mr. Ed’s neigh was also mocking you. Grumbling and looking down at your bowl you say, “We still haven’t decided on a course of action yet. To the mountain pass in the northeast or the Port in the Southeast?”

“The port is closer, we would make better time that way.” Sophie says, nodding. “It would likely be a safer journey, even if we have to travel past Dead Man’s Port.”

“Ugh… come on Sis, the Mountain pass is the way to go! We’d also be a lot harder to find, don’t you think?”

“Alright, alright, that’s enough.” You say, stopping the argument before it starts. “I can see neither of you can reach a compromise, so I’m going to have to choose our path.”

“But-” Sylphie begins, but you hold up a finger.

“No buts! You agreed to the contract, didn’t you?”

The both look at each other, then back to you before nodding their heads.

“Good.” You say, stretching. “Give a moment to think this over then.”

The pass to the north or the port to the south… both will get you where you need to go, but what is the better option? Without any direction you’ll never get where you need to go and frankly you’ll need to be quick about it in case Chaika comes looking for you.

After much deliberation you nod your head and say, “The mountain pass is the obvious choice.”

Sophie frowns while Sylphie pumps her fists in the air. You give her a disapproving scowl and she blushes, pulling back. Her sister eyes the scene before asking, “Your reasons?”

“For one, I don’t know much hydromancy, so if any deep sea shenanigans occur, there’s not much I can do. Two, I think your sister would have a heart attack. Three, horses don’t swim so good, and four, Chaika won’t expect it.”

“He has a point sis.” Sylphie says, still looking smug. “We didn’t exactly say how we’d be getting to the desert, only that we were going there.  If I were to search, I’d go to the port also.”

“Hmph.” Sophie grunts before sighing. “I see. This is the course you have chosen and thus we are obligated to keep with it. I just hope the Wurms aren’t too fiesty this time of year.”

“Wurms?” You ask, confused.

“Yes, Wurms. The pass can become infested with them as it’s a popular trade road and it’s in close proximity to Blackfire Reach.”

“The home of the Lizardmen?” You say, cocking your head. “The one unlawfully stolen by the Wurm Queen under the orders of their Danuki masters?”

“Yeah that’s the…” Sylphie says before narrowing her eyes. “Wait a second, most people don’t believe that story.”

“I’m not most people.” You say, shrugging and eating another spoonfull of the stew.

“Clearly.” Sophie says, rolling her shoulders. “I suppose we should be up early tomorrow, we have a fair amount of ground to cover after all. A shame Leyways don’t run out here to Borne.”

“I prefer horseback anyway.” Sylphie says, shrugging. “A shame the two of you aren’t mounted or this would be much faster.”

“I can travel quickly, for a time.” You say, explaining your <Rock Slide>. Sophie seems to think of it without much interest while Sylphie’s eyes light up.

“Woaaaaah. That’s really cool! Aww, you have GOT to teach me that.”

“Hmph. Lend me that book of elemental magic and I’ll lend you mine on geomancy.”

“Done and done.” Sylphie says, holding out her hand. You look at it for a moment and she blinks before pulling back and staring at her fingers, clearly wondering if she had something in between them. Finding she doesn’t, she merely pouts some.

“Well, in that case I think it’s time for us to retire.” Sophie says, finishing off the rest of the meal. You and Sylphie agree and help clean up the supplies from dinner, both feeling a little tired. Once everything is taken care of, Sylphie yawns and walks over to the tent. Her sister stops her with a tail, pulling her backward.

“Not so fast, dear sister.”

“Whaaaaaaa.” Sylphie says, frowning. “I’m tired!”

“Yes, I’m sure you are, but we need to decide on watches.”

“Whaaaaa.” Sylphie says again.  “But… but we have wards!”

“So did Father, and he still got jumped all the time.”

“Yeah but those were Monsters who wanted to rape him! Who would come and rape us?”

Both of you stare at her with blank expressions and she blinks a few times before clicking her tongue. “Oh. Right.”

You roll your eyes and say, “Sophie is right, we need the watches, if nothing more than to teach some discipline. Besides…” You say, giving her a sidelong glance. “You can practice your magic during your watch.”

“Man…” Sylphie says, sighing. “Fine, fine. So what’s the order on watches then?”

“I’ll take the first watch.” Sophie says, stoking the fire. “I’m not overly tired anyway.”

“Kay.” Sylphie says, stretching. “I’ll take the last watch I guess.”

You shrug. “That’s fine.”

The three of you nod to each other and Sylphie enters the tent, flap drifting down behind her. You watch as it does and notice something orange and black try to slip in, but you use a mild [Tremor] to throw him off balance before scooping up your familiar.

{HEY! What Gives?} Erwin sends, squirming in your grasp. {I have a right to be comfy!}

{You’re getting a little TOO comfy!}

{But… but soooofffft!} He whines.

{You’ll manage}. You send back.

“Don’t bully your familiar.” Sylphie yells, throwing something out of the tent. You bend over and grab it to find it to be the book on elemental magic, which you bring over to your bedroll, along with your familiar.

He whimpers pitifully in your hands as you take him over to your bedroll. You set him down before opening the bedroll and getting inside it. Laying back you notice Sophie watching you from over at the campfire.

“What?” You ask, a little annoyed.

“You’re not using the tent I see.”

“Too close together.”

“Mm. I see.” She said nothing else, merely poking the fire before pulling out a little book from a pouch in her clothing that you had no idea existed beforehand. She begins to scribble something in it, not seeming to care that you’re watching.

Sighing, you roll over in your bedroll and slowly fall asleep.

—————————-

“Hey, you’re up.”

You blink a few times and look up to see Sophie standing above you. A tightness forms in your chest and you feel your breath coming shallow. Your hand grips toward your staff and you feel a spell on your lips when you notice Sophie’s brow furrow. You stop and shudder, taking in a deep breath before closing your eyes and stabilizing.

“I… I’m awake.” You say shakily. Sophie gives you a critical look before shrugging and giving a yawn.

“Very well. Make sure you make Sylphie do her job.” She turns away from you and walks over to the tent, opening up the flap and disappearing inside.

You place a hand to your chest, feeling your heart beating quickly. Gods damnit, you really thought you were over this, but clearly the past two nights have shown that you clearly aren’t. With some trembling, you pull yourself out of bed and look about for your familiar. He’s nowhere in sight and you have to concentrate on your bond to find him toward the tent. That little fuzzy bastard!

Grumbling, you sit down next to the campfire and use your bedroll as a back rest as you take a look around the camp. In the darkness of night, there’s little going on and that’s fine by you. The wards are still holding, you can feel the magic, and Mr. Ed is sleeping over by a nearby tree, trusted enough by Sylphie to not be tied up. Seeing as he’s older than the two of them, it’s hard to say that he isn’t wiser.

“I wonder what stories he’d have to tell.” You wonder, thinking it over. “At least he’s a loyal familiar.”

You feel an odd stirring from the tent, but pass it off as nothing. Tapping your fingers on the ground next to you, you figure you might as well do something productive. You reach into your [Trenchcoat] and pull out the [Geomancy and You! A Beginner’s Guide to Geomancy]. Flipping to chapter five, you begin the process of reading.

“When one thinks of Geomancy, they think of flying rocks, earthquakes, and walls. Yes you read right, walls. If you don’t think of walls, then one questions how good a Geomancer you’ll make!

Manipulation of the earth and rock to create walls requires a base understanding of the composition of the rock around you. The height, density, and overall strength of your wall depends on what you are manipulating. A wall can’t be made of sand, but a wall of mud is not quite as strong as a wall of rock! Knowing what you’re manipulating is a good foundation for wall building and geomancy as a whole.

Remember the lessons on [Rock Throw]. Spread your magic through the earth and tune it with the aethertical density surrounding all the matrices of the particular matter. Don’t forget that most materials are not homogenous. Once you’ve created your net, draw it together. While in [Rock Throw] you’re trying to use the net as a sort of sling, this is fusing it together to merge the magic into a solid form. Try to visualize this now.”

You don’t.

“Good! Now that you’ve made this image, it’s fine to take this next of earth and draw it up from the ground. What you’re really doing is taking the ground around you and reshaping it into a solid wall or other object (see ‘The Artists of the Earth” for more information). The nice part about this magic is that once you’ve drawn up your wall, you can release the magic and it will stay in place! You can also keep a hold on it and manipulate it further, or even move and shift the wall, but that takes much more effort.

Try to make a wall now. Don’t try to make one very tall or you may require more mana than you intended! Did you make one? Good! Now practice with other materials and build the walls of your dreams! Remember, this has further applications as we will discuss later in the chapter…”

Yeah that’s enough reading for now. You close the book and think it over. The basics make sense, you just never really thought about it that way. Being able to use rocks as projectiles are super useful, but if you’re going into the mountains, forming walls and other barriers are very important.

Concentrating on the soft earth around you, you spread out your magic, becoming in tune with the soil. You magic permeates the ground and you feel a net of power form that you tighten. With a grunt, you pull it up and a block of formed earth appears from the ground, the area around it rushing forward to climb and make it taller. Releasing your power, it stays put.

>[Build the Wall] learned!

>Non particular earth matter can be fused together and form a wall. The size and strength of the wall depends on the materials present, as harder materials form smaller, but sturdier walls.

Looking about, you find that it’s still very late and very boring. With a sigh, you pull out your [Port-O-Glass] and find a connection to a Leyline, firing it up to look through a few things on the Communion Matrix.

News about Monster revolts, people still questioning if it was an attack on Helmscrag half a year ago, rumblings about Galmathoria… Nothing new and yet it was still concerning.

Anyone would tell you that the relations between the Monster Nation and Deleor were stronger than ever thanks to the current Monster Lady, but there was the little issue of Galmathoria, the formerly human nation to the northwest. After losing most of their men to some strange magic used by the former Monster Lady and having most of their women turned into Monsters, they were desperate for human males in order to reproduce.

In old times brave Heroes and powerful Wizards would step forward and save the country from invasions, but eventually the Wizards went into solitude and the Heroes became weak in the times of peace. It took the threat of a new invasion to rouse the country to action, and only the promise of replacing a damn communion glass could have made Wizard give a damn about the outside world.

The world was saved by the hand of the Grand Wizard, and everything changed. Wizards crept out of their isolation and became eccentrics, Heroes began to be hailed again, and Monsters began to live peacefully with the people of Deleor. Things looked good! Beyond the thread of Galmathoria, everything was fine!

But what will happen when it’s not fine? When Wizards of power and fortitude are called upon again? Can these men who cast aside their virginity and allow women into their arms truly be powerful enough to stop it? Already it’s known that the number of new Wizards, which was never very large to begin with, had begun to shrink. Why continue to be chaste when there were no consequences? Who really needed that power? It is the current year, isn’t it?

Clasping your hands together, you look over to the tent where the two kittens are sleeping. You feel a shiver run down your spine again at remembering finding Sophie over you when you awoke, the panic you felt. It’s not that you hate either of them, but they’re Monsters. They are who they are and you are who you are.

But what choice do you have?

To take your mind off all of this, you take Sylphie’s book and read through some basics on elemental magic. It’s the most simple of the magical types and very easy for a Wizard to pick up. There’s explanations on some more advanced applications of certain spells, but you go through enough to get the basics of [Fireball], [Ice], and [Lightning Bolt]. You do happen to spend a little extra time on the Aeromancy section because it’s written a lot differently than the others, as if the original authors found some deranged Aeromancer in a corner mumbling to himself about how headwinds won’t suck him off.

Anyway, you do read enough so that you pick up the basics of [Gust]

>You learn [Fireball]

>Summon a ball of fire and throw it at things. What more do you want?

>[Ice]

>Make some ice, throw it at people, etc. Really, that’s about it. Nothing else to see here.

>You learn [Lightning Bolt]

>Come on you have to know what this is, it’s like. It’s Elemental. Get it? No? Sigh, it’s a bolt of lightning that you make with magic.

>You learn [Gust]

>Manipulate winds to create blasts of concussive air. Or blow things around.

Deciding to check out the rest of the book later, you look down at your [Port-o-Glass] and notice the time, stretching and standing up to open the tent. Inside, you find the forms of the two kittens, curled up together as they sleep in their bedrolls, their tails entwined.

You frown at the cute little scene and move to poke Sylphie with your staff, rustling her awake. She blinks a few times before yawning and looking over at you. Her eyes, still full of sleep, close again and she cuddles something in her arms and you notice it’s your damn familiar looking cozy as can be.

Instead of poking Sylphie again, you poke Erwin and he yelps, jumping up and causing Sylphie to startle also. She looks about and then sighs. “Oh… is it time?”

“Yeah.” You say, nodding outside. “Come on, I’m tired.”

“Ugh.” She says, crawling out with an annoyed Erwin behind her. You frown at him and he merely rolls his eyes, wandering around the tent and out of site. Turning about, you walk over to Sylphie and hand her the geomancy book, which she stares at without comprehension until you snap your fingers in front of her.

“Gah!” She squeaks and shakes her head. “Damn, it’s early as the hells…is this what traveling is about?”

“Yep.” You say, walking over to your bedroll. “Get used to it.”

“You too.” She grumbles, opening the book and reading it. You watch her for a few moments before turning over and falling into a troubled sleep once again.

——————————

The morning ends up coming faster than expected, and you were surprised that Sylphie remembered to get the two of you up. You were even more surprised when she showed you that she could cast [Rock Throw] with some modicum of skill. Of course, when you tried to give her pointers, she got a little nervous and a rock flew off course and almost nailed Erwin, but it was fine.

A simple breakfast was prepared by Sophie and then it was off on the road again. The mild chill in the air feels good as you travel, your [Trenchcoat] pulled close around you. Sylphie dozes some in the saddle while Sophie keeps up a good pace, her fetching form keeping up with the rigors of travel much better than you’d expect. Taking a small break during the day for lunch, you continue on until the late afternoon you reach small town at the crossroads between Borne and Port Dorning. The sign outside the town reads, “Kittering.”

“We’ll stop here for the night and continue further in the morning.” Sophie says, looking around the little town. You noticed earlier but didn’t comment that she had changed into another outfit of rich blue which was no less revealing than the other this morning. Despite her having her tails folded up, she attracts many eyes of the various townsfolk, mostly men with lecherous glances and women with scowls.

Sylphie gets a few looks of her own but she is utterly oblivious, looking about while leading Mr. Ed on a lead rope. She too has her tails hidden, but you wonder just how well these two can stay incognito with their looks. Can they really pass off as just Catgirls?

“Hey there kitty cats, want to play?” A voice calls from behind you.

Turning about, you see three men walk up, grins on their faces. All three appear to be in their late twenties, fairly muscular, and dressed in light protective armor with swords at their sides. Mercenaries by the looks of it, since they seem to have more of a swagger than a common bandit. They stop before your group, and the lead one with black hair places his hands in his pockets, leaning to the side a little as he utterly ignores you.

“Damn, aren’t you two little sex kittens. Hey now, how about you ditch your pops here and come with us for a little fun eh?”

Sophie’s eyebrow raises as she studies the men. She doesn’t make a move however and instead turns her gaze to you, seeming to want something. Sylphie, on the other hand, blushes and takes a step back.

“U…uhm.” She stutters, face going red.

The lead man walks forward and bumps your shoulder a little too firmly, sending you staggering back some as he corners the blushing Monster. “Oh, someone looks interested. Damn, you two are twins huh? It’s my lucky day!”

Sylphie backs up further, finding herself standing against Mr. Ed and with nowhere to go. The lead man chuckles and slides up close to her, hands still on his hips. Licking his lips, she says, “Damn now that I’m close, you’re kind of cuter than your sister there.” He throws a look to Sophie. “Though you’re a damn fine sight too sugar tits.”

“I… uhm. I mean uhm. That is uhm.” Sylphie stutters, holding her staff close to her. Mr. Ed snorts, but the man merely gives the horse a glare.

“Back off ya furbag, can’t ya see I’m working the moves?” He returns to Sylphie and runs a hand through his hair. “Come on, you’re a Monster. You can smell the rich semen I got packing right? I bet you’re a fucking waterfall down there already.”

You can’t watch this any longer. It’s not that you really care about whatever these two jam between their legs, but you’re really annoyed by these guys. Sophie’s expression never changes, but you notice something in her eyes, a question lingering there as well as a smoldering anger. If you didn’t do something, she would, you can sense it.

Unfortunately, anything she does would expose the two, and frankly it would reduce their trust in you, one of your greatest bargaining chips. Steeling yourself, you take your staff and clack it on the ground, sending power into the dirt.

The lead Mercenary reaches his hand out toward the blushing Monster, but before he can reach her a wall of dirt bursts forth between the two, sending a cloud of dust into the air. The man stares at it for a moment before looking around in confusion before spying you. He frowns at your staff before understanding, then anger, dawns on his face. He takes a step toward you, but a wall appears behind him.

He quickly turns about and looks at it before whirling back to you, confused. You nod to the side and he turns to see another wall appear behind his friends. It is at that point that the man notices what’s going on, and he shouts, “GET HIM!”

“I don’t think that’s happening.” You say, casting [Build the Wall].

The last wall appears, cutting the men off from your group. You hear their furious curses and the sound of swords being drawn before watching the steel slashing through your admittedly dirt walls. Of course, there’s plenty of dirt handy, so you just repair the walls with little effort, drawing more up from the earth.

“Tidy, I suppose.” Sophie says, walking up and inspecting the wall. “I half expected you wouldn’t do anything.”

“I didn’t do it for you.” You say, shrugging. “I did it because he called me old.”

You ignore Sophie’s knowing smirk and walk over to Sylphie, who has a hand to her breast, catching her breath. You push her back from the box as the sword is thrust through the wall. Looking over at it, you then look back to her and say, “You alright?”

“I…yeah. Yeah, I am.” She says, getting her wits back. She looks at the wall and shakes her head before nodding to you. “Thanks.”

“Again. Not for you.” You say with casual disinterest before looking back to the wall. They’re now running into it. Eventually they’ll figure a way out, it’s not like this is made of stone or anything. Wait a second… stone.

You turn your head to find some fist sized rocks lying around the streets and use your geomancy to call them to you. Gathering them in your arm, you say to Sylphie, “Take some, we’re going to have a lesson here.”

She blinks a few times. “A uh… a lesson?”

“Yes. You just learned how to cast [Rock throw] right? Well, let’s put it into practice.”

She looks between your arms and the wall before comprehension dawns on her face. “Ohhhhh!” She says, flicking her hand and summoning some of the rocks to her with minimal effort. “I see. Practice.”

“Please don’t harm them too badly.” Sophie says, rolling her eyes. “We don’t need law enforcement on us.”

“Geez sis, I promise.” Sophie says, looking at the wall. “How are we going to..?”

You tap the ground and beneath your feet a wall appears, rising up like a platform until you can see into the box you created. Sylphie’s eyes twinkle and she giggles at the ride, rocks floating about her. You cock your head and then shrug before looking down into the box, which looks more like a pit from this angle, and say, “Are you prepared?”

The lead mercenary points at you and shouts, “I’m going to fuck your face!”

“Odd, I thought by your words you wanted to fuck her face.” You say, pointing to Sylphie. The Cat O’Ninetails blushes and then smacks your arm with the staff, but a small smile is on her lips.

“First, I’ll fuck yours, then I’ll fuck hers!”

“You’re going to have to get through her horse first.”

“I’ll fuck him too!”

You cock your head. “You’re a gay horsefucker? Damn you must make all the Centaur’s jealous.”

“GRAAAAAAAAH I HATE YOU!” The man cries, preparing to throw his sword before his two friends restrain him from doing so.

You smirk, feeling a little overconfidence flowing through you. Since you were young, people like these jerks pissed you off more than you can express in words. True, over the past twenty years, you dealt with them very little, but the memories of when you were younger and dealt with such bullies. Nah, you’re justified to feel this way.

Cupping your hand over your mouth you shout, “I hope you guys know a good plagamancer or a hospitalier. You are going to need one when this kitten is done with you.”

“The fuck-?” One of the side mercs says before a rock flies into his chest, hitting his breastplate with enough force to make him stagger against the wall and dent it.

“How was that?” Sylphie says, looking to you.

“Hmm. You hesitated to throw it at anywhere vital. I assume you were aiming for the middle one too.”

“Uhmm. Well, yes. I was.”

“Indeed. See, you’ll want to focus the magic around the rock, not keep it spread out like you are. I don’t even need [Wizard Sight] to tell you that. You’re unfocused.”

“R-Right.” She says, taking a deep breath. “Focus, right.”

“Alright, do you feel good now?”

“I think?”

“Don’t think. Do.” You point at the second flunky. “Fire it right at his crotch.” She gives you an odd look and you say, “Or you can wait until he has his cock out and it’s in your face before shooting, don’t hesitate!”

“Right!” She shouts before casting the spell. The man yelps but this quickly turns to a shriek as a rock hyper accelerates into his junk, causing him to fall forward with tears in his eyes, squealing like some kind of castrated piggie. You know what that sounds like, no one can say you don’t.

“Oh! I did it!” She says, jumping up and down. You nod your head, looking over the carnage.

“Yeah, I guess you did.”

“Did you see that sis?” Sylphie says down to her sister. “I broke his balls!”

“Very good.” Sophie calls. “However, you two are drawing a crowd. Perhaps finish so we may depart?”

“Huh?” Sylphie says, turning around. All along the street stand people and Monsters watching you with confusion and some concern as some pig creature squeals within your box-pit. “Oh.” She says, looking embarrassed.

Rolling your eyes you drop all but three rocks and hold them up before you. The lead mercenary growls, “I’m going to get you for this.”

“I look forward to it.” You say, helping yourself to a smirk before casting [Rock Throw] upon the three rocks, throwing them to strike each man in the head with enough force to knock them out cold. Once you see them go down, you lower your wall into the earth before preparing to lower the other wall.

“On second thought…” You say, rubbing your chin. Shrugging, you turn around to the two girls and say, “Come on, let’s find that inn.”

———————

“That was so cooool!” Sylphie says, leaning back in the chair inside the inn’s common room.

The sun is already on its way down and your group decided to lay low within the inn you’re staying at for the night. People all over town are talking about the sorcerer and witch duo who beat up that unruly group of mercenaries. Staying in for the evening seemed a prudent course of action.

“Sister, perhaps it is not the best to find throwing hard objects at men’s reproductive organs to be, ‘fun’.”

“Tch, you’ve talked about how you think it would be neat to grab a man’s-“

“Okay okay, that’s enough.” You say, holding up your hand. “Just. You can have girl talk in your room tonight, I don’t want to hear about men’s junk anymore, alright?”

“I suppose you touch enough every day.” Sophie says, and you cast her a frown, to which she holds up a hand in apology, though you know she’s not apologetic.

“Yeah, I guess.” Her sister says, one tail sneaking out to hold her chair from falling over. “But I mean, that spell felt easy to cast once you told me about focusing the magic. The spell was easy to learn as the aetheric attunement to earth is easy to feel as it’s similar to the pulsating leyline energy scattered through the earth itself, but because it’s so diffuse around, it’s hard to control just a single element, unlike fire.”

“Quite.” You say, nodding your head.

Sophie looks back and forth between the two of you before groaning and placing her head down on the table. “I don’t understand any of that.”

“There there sis. I don’t understand the point of eye shadow.”

“It’s to add depth and dimension to the eyes, to make them appear larger and draw people’s gazes to them.” Sophie grumbles into her arms.

Sylphie looks to you with a conspiratorial look. “It’s like we’re on two different wavelengths here.”

You look between the two of them and shrug before eating some of your evening meal. “Everyone has their own talents.”

“And what are some of yours?” Sophie asks, looking up at you. You pause and think about it for a moment before saying,

“History.”

She blinks in surprise. “That’s an odd answer. I expected something like magitek or enchanting or something. But history?”

“Yes.” You say before chewing another bite. “History is a very important subject. By learning from the past, we can change the future.”

“I guess.” Sylphie says, shrugging. “I never took much stock of history.”

“Then you never knew that the sixth Monster Invasion was technically lead by an abnormal, but very magically powerful Monster Witch known as ‘The Baphomet.'”

Sophie frowns. “Mother said that the sixth invasion was lead by a Satyr.”

“Some would think that, as she was a goat-like Monster. However she was very short, and had a fixation upon a man she would call, ‘Papi.’ This was ultimately her undoing however as when her forces came into Sanctifrond from the East, her lover, who’s name is unimportant to this story, was found to have been captured by a Dryad bearing tropical fruit.”

You chuckle, “In her anger, she diverted her forces to annihilate this Dryad, thus allowing the Deleorians to scatter her ranks and break the Horde to badly, it allowed the King of Deleor to enact a plan of retribution against the Monster Nation.”

The laughter dies on your lips as you continue. “This lead to the genocide of entire races of Monsters, including all but one survivor of the Cat O’Ninetails race. In retribution, she single handedly annihilated an entire human city before returning to the North. Tens of thousands died, not even knowing why they were killed.”

Silence descends between the three of you as you finish your meal. Sylphie’s ears flatten against her head as she looks down while Sophie glares at the table, her mind focused on something distant. You stand up and take your staff before saying, “You two stay out of trouble. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Without a further adieu, you head toward the stairs, feeling a mental tug of Erwin behind you.

{That was uncalled for.} Erwin sends, padding up beside you. {There was no reason to tell that story in particular.}

{There was.} You send, walking up the stairs to your room. {They were growing too comfortable, too quickly. I had to remind them the seriousness of things.}

{I suppose, but you could have been nicer about it.}

{I’m not here to be their damn Father!} You snap.

{Could have fooled me earlier.} Erwin sends, walking the other way down the stairs and to the outside.

The little room is nothing much to speak of, very similar to the one two nights ago, although this one is somehow smaller. That’s fine by you, as you don’t really need the space. Setting down your staff, you wash your face in the small basin before sighing and staring out the window.

“Maybe I was too harsh.” You say to yourself, frowning. But getting too friendly with them wasn’t the answer either, things might get out of hand before you know it. They ARE Monsters afterall. It’s their nature to do things, things that you’d rather not dwell on. Your memory shifts to this morning and you shake your head, patting your cheeks.

Looking up again you notice something the far distance. A cloud of smoke? No… it looks like it’s moving, but then it would have to be like… a dust cloud? Was something moving so quickly it was throwing up a cloud of dust? What in the hells could do that?

{Hey, are you seeing this?} Erwin sends, breaking you from your stupor. {There’s something weird getting closer out here and the horseface is getting agitated out here near the stables, but he’s not making sound.}

“The hells…” You mutter when the sound of padded feet on wood comes to you before your door flies open to show Sophie, panic on her face.

“It’s Chaika! Sylphie says Chaika is coming!”

“What?!” You say, standing up. “How did she find you?”

“Damnit, someone might have blabbed in town yesterday.” Sophie says, biting her fingernail while looking incredibly nervous. “I didn’t think she’d catch up so quickly though. I don’t think we can afford to stay here though.”

“She can’t find you that easily, can she?” You say, gathering up your stuff anyway.

“Chaika has lived with our whole lives, she can find us, trust me.” Sophie turns around as Sylphie runs out, looking terrified.

“Oh Gods, she’s here, Mr. Ed noticed the cloud and the aetheric disturbances sent off by her thrust units. Oh Gods, oh Goooooodddsss.”

“Hey, HEY!” You say, snapping your fingers. Both of them look at you and you take a steadying breath before speaking again. “Alright, we need to head outside and see if we can’t sneak out of town. She’ll assume you’re going to the docks, right? Then we’ll just slip out and head to the North east before she can track us down. Hide in the cover of darkness, alright?”

The two look between each other before nodding their heads and clasping hands. “Right.” They say in unison before heading down the stairs with you. Sophie slaps some coins in front of the innkeeper before heading out to the stables where Sylphie hurriedly saddles Mr. Ed.

“No, leave the horse.” You say as Sylphie begins to mount her familiar. She looks at you in utter horror, but you shake your head and say, “Not like that. Let him leave town on his own. It’ll be too difficult to slip out with him in tow.” You nod at him. “I’m sure he can take care of himself.”

Mr. Ed snorts and stamps his hoof before nuzzling Sylphie and leaving the stables, heading soon out of sight. Frankly you have no idea how he’ll make it outside, but somehow you know he will. He’s a survivor. You nod to the other two to do the same and begin to take some backroads between buildings.

Unfortunately, this town is walled with three exits, leaving you sadly in a bad position to either go down the southeast exit, or the northeast exit. Good think northeast is where you’re headed however, and you stealthily make your way about.

Pausing at an intersection, you turn your head around a corner to see the coast clear. As you make to take a step down it however, Sophie hurriedly grabs your coat and pulls you back, her ears twitching furiously. She puts a finger to her lips and has the three (four) of you hunker down behind some trash. A moment later, a metallic, clanking sound echoes down the corridor.

Clank. Clunk. Clank. Clunk. Clank.

The sound cuts off near you as whatever it is stops moving. You hear the sound of something… servos? whirring, before a feminine voice says, “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

Sylphie squeezes your coat tight, and you know that this has to be Chaika. You feel your fingers grow sweaty and the contents of your pockets shift some as you tense up. If she finds you, it’s all over. She’ll take the two back and probably beat your ass for helping them. Not that you’re afraid of that, but losing out on your goal would be too much.

“I’m not angry you know. Dollora told me to come protect both of you! Of course, she won’t care if I paddle both of you a little for running away when I had my back turned.”

Her servos whirr again and she continues to speak. “I mean, I’m more disappointed you didn’t clean the house before you left! Well, you can be sure that we’ll change that when we get home! Oh the stories I’ll tell your Mother and Father when they get back from the desert, mmm mmm mmm.”

Sylphie squeaks and you hear Chaika whirl around. Her footsteps echo closer and she says, “You two always were good at hide and seek, but I could always find y- huh?”

Her words cut off as Erwin dashes out from the debris and stares at her before yipping and running off down the alley. Chaika’s servos whirr again before she says, “A fox? Bah, damned creatures in all variations. Oh well, time to find some children elsewhere.”

You hear her footsteps start up again as she walks down the alleys and away from you. After a few moments, long enough for her steps to have vanished from hearing, you stand up and feel your heart beating fast in your chest.

“T…thanks Erwin.” Sylphie says, panting. Sophie also nods appreciation as the little fox returns, looking smug as can be. You nod to him, for the little guy deserves the praise, before heading out to the northeast gate again.

“Alright, we should be close.” You say, noticing the wall on the other side of the town getting closer. Running down the alleyway, you reach the edge close to the gate and stop, cursing loudly.

In front of the gate stands a group of mercenaries wearing armor similar to the ones you fought earlier today. In fact, as you look around, you see the leader of the band you knocked out, a wicked knot on his head that he touched with tenderness.

“Damnit, there must be ten of them or more.” You say, looking the group over. Some of these men look experienced and while your magic may be able to take them down, it wouldn’t be without making a ruckus, something that Chaika was sure to hear. You nod to the other two and say, “We’re going the other way.”

This gate too was guarded, and before the group stood Chaika, her arms crossed as she spoke with one of the men. Sophie’s ears picked up that they were describing the two to her, and Chaika passed them a few coins, which made them look exceptionally eager before she turned around and started stalking through the city again.

Pulling back into the alleyway, you clench your jaw and think. Chaika isn’t stupid, she knows there’s only a few ways out of the city, and going over those walls, made mainly of wood, or damaging them would lead to a commotion you couldn’t afford to have. Fighting the men at the gate would lead to Chaika appearing also, and waiting it out would lead to her hunting you down.

“Damnit.” You say, punching the wall. “I don’t know a way out of this.”

“I do.” Sophie says, looking a little perturbed. You turn to her and she says, “They’re looking for us, right? But not necessarily both of us… if I can lead them away from the north east gate, draw Chaika’s attention to me, then you two can escape. I’ll tell her that you got out, and that you headed to the Port. We’ll end up in the Ectrian Wastes regardless of what happens, just…”

She shakes her head and says, “Not together.”

“No!” Sylphie says, shaking her head furiously. “I won’t let you do it! It should be me instead! I’ll lead her away, use my magic or something to get everyone’s attention. When she catches me, I’ll say you went to the mountain pass, and you two can reach the docks. Without a horse, you can meet us faster.”

“Sister, I appreciate the sentiment, but you can’t-“

“Oh yes I can!”

The two bicker between each other, both seeming rather distraught at the situation. You frown, knowing that there was likely no good way out of this. Their plans could work, allow you to slip out of town but… you’d be leaving one of them behind until you could reconvene later. Who would it be though, and what route should you go down? Your answer could change the entire adventure before it even begins…

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4 thoughts on “Wizardquest 2- Chapter 1: Solid Foundation”

  1. It appears that the COWARD has struck again. This story had a 5.00 to it when I started reading. After reading it, I too gave it a 5. Now the 3 vote average comes up at 4.00.
    Which according to my calculations, means that someone else gave it a 2.
    I wonder who that Knave is.

    Well, I for one am interested in another Deleor story. Perhaps we’ll get to get to see some more character development of the ‘Succubus of the Sword’?

    1. Eh, Ratings are just e-peen stroking. As much as I like the titillating fingers upon my electric snake I don’t expect these stories to get many upboats. It’s way too long for that.

      Maybe Moon, guess you’ll have to find out!

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