Wizardquest Part 1: Humble beginnings

Chapter 1

 

Your hands move with precision along the rune inscribed bones. Each tap of a finger sends a wave of magical power through your Communion Glass before becoming inscribed into the matrix of the Communion spell. This piece is the master stroke, your fingers weaving furiously as you form the binding point which will deliver the finishing blow across the magicked void. With a cry of exultation, you finish the weaving and send it forth, your runes proclaiming:

“Your waifu a shit.”

A shit eating grin splits your face. Take that you snide bastard with your awful taste in waifus. You’ll just let them stew upon that as you bask in the afterglow of your weaving.

The old wood of your chair creaks as you lean back. You are not particularly heavy, for any true Wizard knows the importance of being fit, but nor are you bristling with muscle. This is fine, because you are, as mentioned, a Wizard. There are many forms of spell casters in this world, each with a different, noble heritage. Witches, sorcerers, you name it!

But you, you are a Wizard!

Years ago, you were normal, little more than a common child in your village. But you quickly learned that women, sex, and lewd acts were the source of the great weakness in men. It came as a welcome surprise when you learned of Wizards and the source of their power. By shunning such wicked things until the age of thirty you were granted the ultimate dominion over magic.

You are thirty-two years old now, barely a child in the spectrum of Wizards, but when your power came to you two years ago, you knew that you were born for this. You quickly gained mastery of [Fireball], [Ice], and [Lightning Bolt], the elemental magicks that all proper Wizards should know. With time, and diligence, you’re certain that you could learn spells that could crack reality itself.

But for now you know only the three spells and, although you are formidable, you must remember that such power comes at a cost. Should you give into the seductions of women, your power would slowly crumble beneath you. With time, meditation, and resisting such acts, it could return to you, however if you commit the ultimate sacrilege and have intercourse with a female, you would lose your powers.

Permanently.

Shrugging your shoulders at the thoughts in your head, you dismiss them. It’s not like you ever go outside, so how could you be tempted by women? They aren’t going to come to your home either so you’re in the clear. True, this means you don’t have any actual experience slinging your spells in battle or anything, but why even bother going outside? Everything is shit anyway, and you have all that you needed with your Communion Glass, heated bread pouches, and mountain elixir.

Who needed to risk consorting with other humans, or worse, Monsters?

Yes, Monsters. Monsters are common enough in your country of Deleor. The come in all shapes and sizes, plants and animals, or… well, anything really. Each and every species varies in some way as to make it special. In fact, the only thing that they have in common is that they all have very attractive features similar to human females.

Oh, and they are universally very, very horny.

The thought of one of those things getting their hands on you does make you shudder. Pushing the thoughts away again, you return to your Glass with interest as an incoherent string of runic obscenities appears before you. Your grin widens. It seems your opponent had tried to combat you but is failing miserably in his rage. Best just to let him sit in his own shit for a while before beating him down some more.

With a wave of your hand you scry a different matrix of runes, scanning through the inscribed formulaic images and weavings. Oh, this should be good, you think. Someone is commenting on a story about a man who is trying to become lovers with a Dragon. You’ve been reading it for some time and you have to say, the weaver does not update enough. This makes him a prime target for weaving such as yours. Cracking your knuckles, you think of something disparaging to say and…

A knock echoes through your home.

You sit in stunned silence, the reverberations piercing your mind as you distantly try to piece together what it could be. It had been so long since you’d heard such a noise. What causes that again? Was it rats? No, no, not the right cadence… owls? Yes, it could be owls, but it’s daytime so…

Someone starts talking from down the hallway.

“Great Wizard! I have come to seek your aid for an adventure of an epic scale!”

A… Visitor? You haven’t had a visitor in…hells, two years? Not since you lit that kid’s hair on fire by accident during the Moonlight festival.

This makes the situation all the stranger. Who is this man, and how did he know you’re a Wizard? You slowly stand, back popping as you straighten. Sitting at the Communion Glass can do that to you, but you pay it no mind.

Slowly, you walk toward the door and stare at the oak timbers. Sturdy and powerful, you can’t help but admire the craftsmanship behind the piece. And now some asshole is beating his fist into it like it’s some common drum. Heathen.

“Wizard! Open your door and let me inside! I have great need of your services!” 

You open your mouth before pausing. It strikes you then just how long it’s been since you spoke with another human in something resembling sentences. Words tumble from your mouth like sauce covered noodles. “Don’t disturb! Ah, that is… uh… You couldn’t afford my service? … Errr, I mean to say uh.”

You grunt, clearly just stumbling everywhere. Taking deep breath, you decide on a very straightforward and commanding, “Fuck off.”

The banging on the door ceases, silence filling the void. A minute passes, yet you can still feel the man’s presence somehow. Annoyed, you turn and walk away when he shouts, “Aha! A will of steel and grit! Your services are much to be desired!”

And with that, you hear your door being slammed open.

How could that be possible?! Your house is securely defended against… You pause for a moment as you recall something. Right, locks. You don’t have any, because you’re a Wizard. Also nobody comes to visit you so you didn’t invest in any.

The man standing in your doorframe is a few inches taller than six feet and has a stunning figure. His body is chiseled and hard, as if sculpted by a master artist. Strong lines define his every feature, even underneath his gleaming cuirass and chainmail somehow. His most striking feature however is his positively radiant face, with dimples that could sink ships and eyes pale as the winter sky.

With a sooth motion, he pushes back his perfectly trimmed, brown hair and smiles with such brilliance it could light a cave. “Good day sir Wizard. I am the Hero Blake. Come, we go to adventure!”

 

You stare at the shining beacon of masculinity and shake your head before slowly turning around, walking to your chair, and sitting at your Communion Glass. Without looking back you say, “Leave me alone. The outside world is a terrible place.”

You now patiently try to ignore the man as you begin the rites of scrying once again. Unfortunately, you can’t help but notice that he’s in the corner of your domicile. It’s not that large a place, merely three “rooms.” A kitchen, bed chamber, and little sitting area you have converted for your Wizarding needs. A shuffling sound catches your attention and you turn about with a sigh. This “Blake” is holding one of your magical implements which just happens to look like a carved doll. 

It’s very important for Wizarding.

(And it’s in mint condition!)

He smiles while looking it over, and you’re certain you hear a baby’s laughter as he does so because it’s so perfect. “Such strange and arcane tools you keep in your possession Wizard. Had I not known better, I would say this merely a child’s toy!”

You quickly hop out of your chair, stumble forward, and take the doll, err, implement, from his hands. Giving him your harshest glare, you brush the hair back into position. He had already begun to eye another implement, and was reaching for it when you burst out, “Just say what you came to say and get out of here!”

His hand stops. He looks back to you, still smiling, damn him. “Ho ho! Truly? You would hear my request?”

Walking past you he takes a seat on your chair backwards, so his arms rest upon the back of the chair. Why…Why would someone do that?

“Wizard, you know of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood, yes?”

Stupid question, everyone knows about those self-righteous assholes. The Order is a group of gifted warriors who take strict vows to uphold the peace and fight back Monster Invasions when they occur.

The Invasions are horrific things, where thousands of Monsters would descend upon human settlements, lead by the most powerful Monster: The Monster Lady. They would go on a rampage, kidnapping the men to rape and transforming the women into their kind via “Monsterization.”

That is where the Order comes in. They’re known as the only human power to whom the mighty Monster Nation of the north truly fear, for they train in body and mind to be able to fight them and their temptations. In the past, many such Heroes had saved the Kingdom of Deleor from the hordes of Monsters, killing the Ladies and driving the Invasions back.

It had been quite a long time since any Monster Invasion had happened however, and the Order strongholds and members have fallen in both number and influence. Generally speaking, they’re respected, but no one takes them seriously anymore.

All that aside, you nod your head, irritated by his stupid question. He nods his head in return and thrusts out his chin in an overly dramatic fashion. “Well, I happen to be one of their number!”

No shit!

His expression becomes serious, jovial demeanor gone. “I have come here to tell you that Order has learned that the current Monster Lady is planning an Invasion.” He sighs and looks somewhat embarrassed as he admits, “Our numbers are… Not what they once were. We must ask for outside aid in order to combat this threat to humanity.”

And then it’s all gone, replaced once again by that happy-go-lucky smile. “And what is why I have come to you, mighty Wizard. I… No… Humanity needs your help.”

You stare at him.

He smiles at you.

You stare harder.

He smiles harder.

You stare really fucking hard.

His smile is like a beacon in the night.

This continues for about five minutes until you sigh in exasperation and throw your hands up. “Not interested! Now would you kindly leave me to myself? Surely someone else gives a shit.”

He licks his lips and says, very slowly. “Mighty Wizard… You don’t seem to understand the importance of my quest. Humanity itself needs you!”

“There are other Wizards…”  You mumble, scratching your stubbly beard. Honestly, it’s a fine enough beard, but you wish it would grow longer. At least when you gained your Wizarding powers your hair turned platinum blonde so it looks amazing anyway.

He looks down, abashed. “I… could not find the others. You were the only Wizard who had been seen in public…” He raises a hand quickly, “That’s not to say that your talents and skills aren’t great and mighty, oh Wizard!”

That fucking kid, you always knew he’d haunt you somehow for lighting him on fire. You pinch the bridge of your nose and take a deep breath before playing along. “What would you offer such a grand and mighty Wizard for his services?”

He perks up and says, “The glory and honor of saving humanity!”

“No.”

“The respect and adoration of your fellow man?”

“No.”

“Well, it would be accomplishment which would make you desirable to any woman in the world…”

You throw up your hands in a fit of blind rage at this fucker’s gall.

“Get the fuck out of my house before I blast you into oblivion!”

Yeah, fuck letting him off easy. Blake stares at you for a long moment before his expression becomes crestfallen. Eyes turning to the ground, he sighs, “Then it is up to the Order alone… thank you for your time and hospitality, Wizard.”

He stands up and starts to leave but his foot gets caught on one of the chair legs. He flails, arms going wide, before falling backwards.

Time seems to go in slow motion as Blake falls. It’s as if those few seconds are stretched into a thousand years. His back hits the table and you hear a sickening crunch as it collapses to the floor, Communion Glass dropping to the ground and shattering.

 

Chapter 2

 

You stare at the scene of carnage, a mix of horror and disbelief playing across your face. Your Communion Glass is…No it couldn’t be… Not after all these years…

Staggering backward, you put a hand to your head and barely manage to catch yourself on a wall. Taking deep, ragged breaths, you push yourself up to your feet and drag your body across the wall, legs moving in jerky spasms. You distantly hear the sound of glass shifting and snapping as Blake stands up, each pop and crackle another stab of pain in your heart.

You reach a cabinet and fumble at the door before tearing it open and shakily withdrawing a bottle of amber liquid labeled, “Jackson D’aniol”. It sits in your hand, mocking you as you try to remember what to do with it.

“…Mighty Wizard, I pray beg your forgiveness, I fear in my clumsiness I have…”

You hold up your other hand and he goes silent. Ah right, that’s what you do with this bottle. Putting it back in the cabinet, you instead withdraw and even larger bottle of Tacknequalia. The cork comes off with little effort and you take a massive swig of the foul-smelling concoction. It burns as it slides down your throat, but the stinging sensation brings you back to your senses faster than a slap to the face.

You whirl on the Hero, pointing at him with the same hand that’s holding the bottle. “Do you know what you just did?”

He looks flabbergasted as he fumbles for words. “Well I… I believe that is… With my rump and…”

“I’ll tell you what you did. Your clumsy ass just broke an arcane device so powerful that your mind could scarcely understand it’s most basic functions.”

This was only partially false. While Wizards could utilize the Matrix flawlessly and with great ease, non-gifted individuals could as well so long as they had the will to do so. This generally meant walking down the path of the Wizard, however.

You have a feeling however that Blake has had like, a hundred girlfriends.

“This device was crafted of the knucklebones of many dire boars, each intertwined together with the hair of leviathans to conduct magical flow.”

You take another swig from your bottle, exhaling forcefully as the liquid burns a hole in your throat. “Oh but let’s not forget the most important part, the one of which you still have shards embedded in your ass.”

Blake jumps and dusts off his behind to a chorus of crinkling sounds.

“Galmathorian Glass. Pain-stakingly-modified over years to amplify its power. As new rites and runes were discovered, they were added as well leading to that particular device being the most powerful of its kind.”

You take a step forward and jab your finger at his chest. “What are you going to do about it?”

Blake looks at you, shocked at your sudden outburst. Maybe it was the liquor that did it, maybe it was just your rage. Who cares, you’re mad, and that’s what counts.

He fumbles for words again before taking a deep breath and composing himself. “Wizard… I do not know how to properly apologize for my wrong. I, a guest in your house, have damaged your most valuable of property, and were I able, I would make amends in a heartbeat.”

He licks his lips. “But I cannot replace Galmathorian Glass.”

A fit of rage fills you. You throw the bottle to the floor, shattering it in a cascade of amber sparkles as you scream. “Why the fuck not?!”

He holds one hand up, the other sliding to the sword on his belt. “Peace! Peace, fair Wizard. I cannot replace the Glass, for it is merely an issue of supply. Galmathoria… has been taken by Monsters.”

You stare at him with such intensity that it could combust a star. Communion Glass is not really glass in a sense, it’s actually a crystal mined from regions which are permeated with magical energy. Sure, there are other regions which can produce this type of glass, but all were inferior to Galmathoria. Communion Glasses made from that Galmathorian Glass can conduct magical energy with speed and precision that blows all others out of the water. You would never, ever, ever, accept any substitute. Which makes it all the more painful to hear that the region which produces it can’t send a replacement. 

You slump, staring at the ground helplessly. “Get out,” you whisper.

Blake moves silently to the door. The only sound in the room is the shuffling of his feet and a small tinkling as your world crumbles to the floor off his behind. He pauses at the threshold and takes a deep breath. “I do not know how much it means, but I have heard that the headquarters of the Order has a stockpile of Galmathorian Glass.”

He sighs. “But without a member of the Order to vouch for you present, I do not see how they would give you any. Again Wizard, I… I am truly sorry for my conduct this day. I swear I will do my utmost to repay this debt, should our country not be overrun by Monsters.”

He looks at the wide world outside your door and steps out.

Well, he’s finally leaving. Yep. Right out the door. Mhm. There he goes, Yeeeeeep.

You stare in silence as he crosses out of your home. Slowly, you place your palm to your face and squeeze your temples. Okay. Okay. This asshole came into your house, asked you to go outside and fight Monsters, then broke your shit. Oh, and to top it off, all the replacements of the prized Galmathorian Glass are stored in his fortress monastery or whatever, because Monsters had taken over the only mining region worth a damn.

What a fucking time to be alive.

You look down at the remains of your beloved Communion Glass and a stab of pain lances through your heart. These aren’t tears, they’re just mana leaking from your eyes… honest. You aren’t certain what to do with your life now. Your whole world was that Communion Glass, and without it, what are you? Just some old, dumpy ass Wizard with nice abs. That sinks into your bones for a moment. For some reason instead of bringing a crushing pain, you feel a burning sensation, as if your soul is igniting, sending ripples of flame into your body.

How dare fate cast this upon you! You are a Gods damned Wizard! With a fucking z! And you are not going to just curl into a ball at the first little interruption to your life!

You quickly gather up your [Wizard Staff], a gnarled length of rosewood hand carved with runic sigils, your [Wizard’s Chalk], and your [Pocket Dimension], an enchanted storage sack which holds your supply of heated bread pouches. To finish the ensemble, you don your flowing gray robes and floppy Wizard’s hat.

Blake is barely two minutes from your door when you cry out. “Halt hero! You will repay your debts to me, and until you do, you are under my mercy!”

Blake turns and gives you a blank stare, before his mouth tears into a brilliant grin.

 

Chapter 3

 

Okay, so that was one hells of an entrance if you do say so yourself. Of course, looking back on it, perhaps it would be much cooler if you didn’t drop your staff on the ground, fumble to pick it up, then trip over your own robes to land in a clod of dirt.

The outside world sucks.

Grumbling to yourself, you shift your hat and squint. Everything is so warm, bright, and disgusting. The town is much as you remember it from the last time you were out here, years ago. You see little white and brown cottages mixed between large, wooden buildings with boring people walking around going about their daily lives. Oh how you loath this place.

Like most human settlements, this town, Havenforth, has no Monster population. Not because of any preconceived hatred of them, but merely because the Monsters which live in this area just aren’t amenable to society. As long as you don’t mess with them, they rarely mess with you. Because of this, peace flourishes in this town. It’s happy, it’s vibrant, and it’s full of joy.

Maybe it isn’t too late to go back inside…

As you turn to head back in, Blake puts an arm around your shoulder and starts dragging you along with him. You fold in on yourself under the intensely uncomfortable experience. He smells like sweat and raw masculinity, with a hint of rosemary. Bile starts to rise in your throat at the scent.

“Dearest Wizard! I did not truly to expect to see you again, and not with such an… inspired entrance!”

You mumble incoherently as he squeezes you.

“Rest assured however, that I will make amends. As it happens, I need to return to the Headquarters to make a report.” His smile becomes a little rueful. “They will not like to hear that you are not helping the war effort… But I’m certain they can part with some Galmathorian Glass…”

You grunt as he releases pressure, allowing you slip out of his grasp before adjusting your robes. As you look up, you notice under the brim of your hat that two attractive women, perhaps in their early twenties. Both are staring at you with a mix of revulsion and scorn.

Your lip curls and you glare at them before walking behind Blake. Another thing that didn’t change in this damn place.  Looks from women like that were the story of your life, so shunning them was the best decision you ever made. You have no regrets.

As you trek though the city you hide behind Blake, who is making brisk time while managing to wave at every passing man and smile at every woman. Maybe one hundred was a gross underestimation of his number of girlfriends.

Passing by the local General Store, it occurs to you that you didn’t bring any provisions in your haste to leave beyond your [Pocket Dimension]. You love heated bread pouches, but you feel that won’t sustain you forever. With a groan you tap Blake on the shoulder. “I don’t have any provisions and I doubt what’s in your own sack is enough to sustain you.”

Blake blinks, seemingly unable to comprehend what you said. When he gets it he snaps his fingers and chuckles. “Ah! Never fear dear Wizard, for it is an easy feat for one of the Order to secure such provisions.” He looks at the General Store and motions for you to stay put as he enters alone.

Okay, fine, play it that way.

He returns less than five minutes later carrying two massive sacks over his shoulder and laughing as a busty young maiden giggles at his side.

“Oh brave Hero, please return to us after your triumph.” She slides her hand down his arm as she says in a softer voice. “I would be quite sad if anything were to happen to you…”

He gives her a sad smile. “I cannot say what the future will bring, but I will do everything in my power to return, fair maiden.”

Hoisting the sacks over his shoulders like they’re nothing, he nods at you. The woman’s eyes follow the gesture and her face freezes upon seeing you. Her eye twitches once before she turns back to Blake and, with one last caress, she walks back into the store. Blake waves to her before saying, “Let’s be going then!”

Taking a deep breath, you follow after Blake on the first steps toward on your little, “Adventure.”

————————————————————————————–

 

About four hours have passed since you left and the sun is still in the sky. Thank the Gods you’re fit, because this would have sucked otherwise. The fact that you’re wearing long robes that don’t breathe terribly well does suck however. Still, things could be a lot worse- Blake could be singing!

Oh. Wait.

You groan internally as Blake sings the chronicles of Chaddigus the Brave, an ancient Hero of the Order. If this current verse is correct then this man slew a rampaging Wyvern with nothing but a stick and two lemons. Interesting as that may be, Blake’s singing is starting to annoy you. Looking around for anything else to focus on, you see something on the side of the road.

An odd puddle of light blue ooze seems to flow from the grass in a motion you can only describe as “fluid”, mainly because it looks like a damn fluid. As it moves, the ooze begins to shift and change. You can make out delicate features start to form as it emerges, coalescing into the shape of a young girl.

The creature has a thin waist and very full, accentuated breasts. A human-like face forms in the ooze with luscious lips and long, erotic lashes made of thickened strands of goo. It also has a strange impersonation of hair, which covers one eye poorly due to its transparent consistency yet adds a sense of allure all the same.

Your breath catches in your throat as images from the Communion Matrix come to your mind. You’ve seen something like this before. This can only be a Slime, a common inhabitant around human settlements.

Dear Gods, it’s a Monster.

You stumble backward and fall on your ass, uttering a sound akin to a pig being pinned to the ground by a saucy farmer. This is actually the first time you’ve ever seen a Monster in person and you’re having a hard time processing your thoughts. For some reason the first thing that comes to you is to use all your spells at once, in one massive orgasm of magic. Well, that thought comes after wanting to wet yourself in terror, but you’re a Wizard, so you only mildly soil your robes.

The Slime in front of you draws herself up and stares at you with translucent eyes, slowly blinking as she takes you in. She seems to shudder, which is more of an undulating motion for her gelatinous body, and speaks in a voice that sounds like honey dripping onto velvet.

“Oh my…. two delicious looking humans traveling down my path. I would normally just let you go by but…” She lets out a soft moan and glides closer to you. “Something about you, smells so… so very ripe. As if you’re a fruit just waiting to be plucked.”

Her body shudders again in what appears like anticipation as she glides a sticky hand over the curves of her body. “I can show you pleasures the like you can scarce imagine.”

You look around quickly, heart racing faster. That piece of shit Blake is far down the path, apparently too consumed in his singing to even notice your imminent peril. Gods damn you Blake.

Try as you might not to, you can imagine what she would show you and it terrifies you. If she were to get those moist looking hands on your person you have no doubt it would be very pleasurable. Of course, it would also destroy everything you’ve worked for all these years. A feeling of rage begins to build inside of you.

Like hells you’re going to let some shit-tier slime get the better of you!

You close your eyes and focus inward on yourself. You can faintly hear the sound of the Slime uttering a gasp of pleasure as she flows her body over the earth towards you. A mental wall forms in your mind, drowning out her temptations as you focus. Black clouds form in your inner mind and from it springs a current of energy. Deadly and quick, it dances through the cloud like an eel weaving through rocks. With that image securely in your head, your eyes snap back open and you point your staff at the Slime.

“I’m gunna taze you bro!”

Lighting, pure and elemental, springs from your staff and slams into the slime.

She barely has time to think before her liquid body goes rigid, face locked into an expression of agony as she screams an ear-piercing cry. Her form shifts and shakes, seeming to want to break apart, but the electricity conducts through her fluid body and roots her in place.

Soon enough, her cries abate, and only gurgling noises come from her mouth, a remnant of pain. Only then do you break the current, causing the slime girl to instantly drop to the ground in a puddle of ooze, her shapely curves now lost in a sea of flowing goo. You sit there, panting as you take in what you’ve just done.

You… You just fought a Monster and… won? Hells as far as you know, you just killed the damn thing! You’re a Gods damned Wizard! You aren’t afraid of anything because you have the power, that’s right, the power of A WIZARD. Despite your show of greatness however, you jump as a hand touches your shoulder.

“Well done Wizard! Well done! A show the likes I have never seen!”

Blake walks past you and inspects the puddle before shrugging. “Hmmph. She is not dead though, merely unable to hold herself in any coherent form for awhile.” He considers the Slime and then shrugs again, though the gesture and the smile on his face seem forced. “She is but a little, inconsequential thing. It is not worth ending her life.”

He turns to you and lifts you up with his big, strong, man-arms, smile positively radiant again. “Truly, your gifts are miraculous!”

You stare back at the puddle of Monster, then to Blake.

“Perhaps next time, ah,” You cough a little, “Perhaps next time you might keep your eyes open instead of singing, oh Hero. I do not wish for any Monsters to be so close to my person.”

Your breath flows onto his face, making him wince from the smell of heated bread pouches. “Do you understand?”

Blake looks chagrined and lowers you before making a placating gesture. “Of course, of course.”

Somehow, you seem to think he knew that Slime was there all along. Not like it matters now, so you shake your head and continue down the path, this time with less singing, thank the Gods. Still, you keep a one eye out for Monsters while the other stays squarely on Blake.

 

Chapter 4

 

As the sun begins its inevitable decline down past the horizon and the moon awaits the chance to take its rightful place in the stars, Blake stops in the middle of the road. You nearly collide into him as he does, pulling yourself up short in the nick of time. Muttering a low curse, which is unfortunate that you do not know any real curses, you watch the Hero take a good look around the area.

Tensing up, you also look around. Did he hear something in the brush? Around you are patches of tall grass interspersed with a few trees here and there that lead into a more thickly populated forest whose dark branches obscuring your sight. As far as you can tell, it’s as normal a place as it gets, but it isn’t as if you get out much.

Though you strain your hearing, the gentle rustle of leaves and grass betrays nothing sinister. Furrowing your brow, you quietly ask, “What is it you sense?”

Blake turns around, blinking in surprise at your tension or maybe the fact that you have both hands on your staff eyes darting back and forth in concern.  “Sense? I wouldn’t really call it sense, but I have located a good campsite for the evening.”

You stare at the Hero with a perfectly blank expression. After a few moments, you sigh deeper than you ever have before and loosen the grip on your staff. Damn your fingers are stiff.

“How long did you say it was before we reached Feldergrod?”

“At the current pace, perhaps three more days.”

“Then perhaps it would be wise to continue forward and cover more ground. I do not wish to be here any longer than necessary.”

Blake lifts an eyebrow. “You have never traveled on foot, have you? It is dangerous, even on such a road, to walk at night. Monsters which would normally leave a man be during the day become bold when they walk the dark.”

He looks at you seriously before saying. “You are a mighty Wizard, but I do not recommend this course of action.” Looking into your eyes a moment longer he sighs and looks down the path. “Still… I suppose we could go a little further though. This area is about the same wherever you go.”

He nods his head, coming to a decision, and continues down the path. You watch him as he travels down the path, back toward you. You didn’t think that he had that level of intensity to him. All you’ve seen so far is his comically jovial nature, except perhaps once or twice. Maybe he really is concealing a few more things from you than you expected…

————————————————————————————–

 

After about an hour more of travel the sky grows dark and Blake insists that you stop for the night. As he prepares supplies for supper he tasks you with building a fire. Thankfully this is very easy. You’ve built plenty of fires in your little fireplace at home so you have it down to a science:

1.Pile wood

  1. Point staff
  2. Magic
  3. Profit.

Blake watches your magic with some interest before pulling out sleeping rolls from the packs he’s carrying. Once that’s done, he begins to heat food over the fire, the smell of which fills the little clearing of your campsite

Though you’ve snacked on heated bread pouches pulled from your [Pocket Dimension] during the day and aren’t particularly hungry, you eat anyway. It’s best if Blake doesn’t know about your magical bag.

Neither of you make much conversation throughout the meal. It’s terribly awkward so you breathe a sigh of relief when Blake declares it’s time to sleep. According to him, the area has little, if any, bandit activity due to the Monsters. In order to keep the Monsters away then, Blake pulls out a slender looking rod tipped with a crystal that resembles and eye and puts it near the fire.

You can tell that this is an implement of magic. Intrigued, you watch as pulses to life at a word from Blake. Clearly it’s been enchanted to be used by normal folk and, from the way he carelessly crawls into his sleeping roll, you guess that it’s some kind of ward to keep away low level Monsters. Perhaps the ol’ Order still has some clout with the magical community to be able to get an item like this, though you have no idea what such a thing would even cost.

You ponder how you might replicate something like this but decide instead to turn in for the night. Sleep comes to you quickly, it’s grasp upon your consciousness strong as steel. You must be more tired than expected from all the walking. Ah well, a full night’s rest will be good for you.

————————————————————————————–

Unfortunately, you awaken with a start a few hours later as a familiar pain forms in your lower intestines. Oh no, you feared this might happen from eating all those heated bread pouches, but you didn’t think it would happen so fast.

Well, shit.

Feeling like you’re going to burst at any second you fumble at your bedroll, desperate to escape the warm embrace. As you stand you feel your innards shift within. Looking about in wild panic for a site to disgorge your leavings, the sensation gets worse and worse. Unable to think correctly, you do the first thing that crosses your mind: You hike up your robe in one swift and practiced motion, position yourself towards the flames, and let loose your fury.

The sensation is akin to a mighty river being let out of a dam, the tide flowing through you and into the fire, sending out clouds of embers into the night. So strong is your release, that pieces fly throughout the camp to land in various places near the fire itself. One of these various places is on Blake. His boots, his person, all over really. It could have been worse but… no, no it really couldn’t be worse

While the event lasted only a few moments, the stench of processed heated bread pouches is magnified a hundred-fold by its damnation in fire. It’s the smell of morbid satisfaction and putrid regret. Despite the horrific stench, you aren’t overly put off by it. It… it’s not your first time.

You notice Blake start to stir in his bed roll. Quickly pushing your robes into their proper position, you dive for the safety of your own sleeping roll, heart beating furiously in your chest. You hear a shifting noise, followed by a deep groan, some sniffing, and then furious activity punctuated by strings of profanities. Looks like Blake’s awake!

Steeling yourself, you pretended to awaken. “Mmrgh… What is the matter, dear Hero?”

Blake stares at you, one hand covering his nose, the other waving the air.

“Gods, the stench! Wizard! What is this madness?!”

You do your best to look around, surprised, and then pinch your nose. “Dear Gods! That does smell awful! Whatever could have done this?” Staring intently at the fire, you try not to make eye contact with Blake as you say with a completely straight face. “It could only have been Ghosts.”

Blake stands stock still as he studies you. “Ghosts?”

“Ghosts.”

He narrows his eyes before grumbling and wiping himself off. He stops for a moment, gags, and then looks toward you. “I think there’s a stream not far from here, take a torch and go down there. Gather some water to wash this…” His voice turns bitter, “filth.”

You look at the direction he’s pointing. From here the clearing leads into the dark tree line of the forest out in the distance. A light wind rustles the leaves and the stench of charbroiled shit once more fills the air. How very… ominous.

Taking one last look at Blake, you groan and take the proffered bucket, which is just the cooking pot. Blake goes to make a torch, but you cough and channel your will through your staff, causing the runes to light up in brilliant shades of crimson.

Blake rolls his eyes and, still holding his nose, makes the torch.

“Most Monsters do not know the look of a Wizard, but some do know and fear fire. Take the torch.”

Grumbling, you make toward the tree line when you remember that you’re a Gods damned Wizard and you can make ice! You slap your forehead with your staff and turn to face Blake, a cool pun on your lips. “Ice to meet you.” Oh yes, that’s the one you’ll use.

He’s got a stare like a man who’s just heard that being healthy is discriminating to fat people. Your comment catches in your throat. Know what? You can just cast the spell out of sight. That’s the smart thing to do.

Walking a little faster now, you quickly exit the perimeter of your camp. As you get about twenty feet out from the ward your skin feels like it’s crawling, and you become acutely aware of the world around you. Crickets chirp, frogs croak, and owls hoot, forming an elegant cacophony that defines the outdoors at night. It is both mysterious and natural, something that stirs the soul in ways that only poets could describe. For your part, you’re fairly certain you hate it.

It’s not long before you reached the thicker line of trees. Thanks to all the brush between the tall, sturdy boughs, you find yourself unable to pass. Looking to the side however you see a small deer trail. With no other good way through, you decide to head on over.

The dark path comes to life under the illumination of your torch. Thankfully nothing remarkable shows up on your way in, but the stillness in the woods set your teeth on edge. This is a new level of creepy which makes it clear that you do not want to be here long at all. While you can hear the little stream in the quiet night, you don’t bother going toward it. Finding the first clearing in the trees with enough room becomes priority. As soon as you find one you set the pot down before clearing your mind and holding out your hand, staff carried in the crook of your arm.

A cold wind gathers in your mind, gaining speed and momentum. Within it comes the promise of chilly days, frigid nights, and the oncoming winter. When you open your eyes, you focus on your hand and the pot begins to crust over with frost, its interior filling with ice in mere moments as you cast [Ice]. A quick inspection shows this to be satisfactory, so you close your eyes and envision the magic again.

This time your vision swims scarlet as power gathers within your mind. Slow at first, it quickly gains speed and traction until it becomes a raging inferno in your body, screaming for release. You point again at the pot and a bright orb of fire, a [Fireball], flashes from your hand to strike the makeshift bucket. As the fire leaves your hand, the clearing around you lights up with a stronger illumination than even your torch can provide, stretching shadows everywhere in a single flash of light.

Though you’re certain the ice in the bucket is now steaming water, but the blood in your veins feels practically frozen. In that brief instant of light, you saw your own shadow of course, but behind it was another, wider shadow with four points extending outward.

A soft, musical voice echoes from behind you:

“One little man, alone in the wood,

Thinking his fire will do him good.

He thinks of running, he thinks to escape.

But all it will do is delay his rape.

 

Chapter 5

 

You could calmly take a breath, close your eyes, and channel the fire within you into a focused blast to destroy whoever is behind you. You could also talk with it, try to find out who or what is there. These are very good options, something a rational warrior would do.

Instead, you flip your shit and shoot [Fireball] everywhere as you spin around, managing to knock the pot over and spill the steaming water. The balls of magical flame ignite the trees in a sudden conflagration and the world becomes a blistering inferno of light and heat. As you complete your tour du force in burning down a forest, you manage to get a good look at what’s behind you.

The creature behind you is a little over average female height and has a lithe, slim body, slight hips and average sized breasts. Six, slender arms extend from her torso, which is covered in rings of soft, fur-like material. Other than that, she is naked, showing skin which is paler than the midnight moon.

Her face is delicately crafted with sharp features that bring your attention to her eyes that seem to glow as red as the fires raging around her. Her most striking features however, are her wings. Delicately worked membranes flare out from her back, sparkling purple in the light of the fire, making it seem as if they’re encrusted with amethyst. This takes what was an already striking Monster and solidifies her into a mysterious creature of the night.

You don’t have to dig deep to figure this one out. She’s a Moth Girl.

The Moth Girl looks around at the devastation you wrought, and quirks an eyebrow, smiling with some sick satisfaction. It occurs to you that she was quick enough to evade your spell, though it wasn’t like you were aiming for her. Still, the fact that she got away from that unscathed sends a shiver down your spine.

With an air of mysticism, she walks past you and stands in the center of the clearing, her eyes sparkling in lust at the light around her. As she passes, you feel two of her hands glide gently over your shoulder and down your chest, causing you promptly break into a cold sweat. A woman, a Monster no less, had touched you!

You shiver as she begins to speak in that melodic voice again.

“Such a gift you do possess,

The power of heat’s true caress.

A beacon of light in this darkest hour,

Clearly you hold much power.”

She looks at you, clearly expecting some kind of reaction. The way she stares at you with that condescending smiles means she thinks she holds complete control of this situation. If you are to escape this alive, you need to dissuade her of the fact. Alright, so she knows that you can cast [Fireball], and she might even be expecting it. In fact, she probably saw you cast [Ice] too so that leaves…

You straighten your back slowly, never taking your eyes off the Mothgirl. She regards you the whole time like a slice of meat at the market but makes no move on you. Using that to your advantage you marshal your thoughts and gather your power. Once ready, you lick your lips and begin to speak, mimicking her voice as best you can.

“Roses are red,

Violets are blue.

You can’t stop me,

When my Wizard stick goes pew!”

With that, you quickly thrust the staff in your arm toward her, ready to disgorge a tide of electricity right into her smug face! Before you can do so however, you realize that your staff is being held up in the air by two of her hands while her face is mere inches away from yours. She smiles like a Cat Girl cornering a mouse.

Okay, so. Crazy fast Mothgirl has you in the palm of her hands. Literally. She leans into you, sniffing your face while uttering low moans of pleasure. Doing so unfortunately keeps you from casting your pent up [Lightning Bolt] and even if you cast it through your hands you’d probably hit yourself as well.

It appears that is not a nice place to be a Wizard. You actually hope that asshat Blake might have noticed your freak out or perhaps even the spreading the forest fire, but he can’t have had enough time to reach you yet. Without other options, this means that you need to buy yourself some time for him to get here, if he’s coming at all. Actually, you should probably assume he’s not coming.

Fucking Blake.

Your mind races furiously as you try think of a way to get out of this mess. Let’s see, you know from the Communion Matrix that moths are attracted to light, right? This seems correct based on the way her eyes shift to the fire with such lust. Unfortunately she also seems to be lusting after you, which means the fire isn’t going to be a way out.

Okay, so that’s a dead end. Hmm, you also know that they don’t take well to getting wet, but you spilled your pot. Mind racing for information on moths, something else comes to you. Yes… yes this could work, but dare you do it?

The Moth Girl turns her glowing eyes upon you and licks her lips. Well, clearly there’s no time like the present, even for something like this. It’s cheesy as fuck, and you wouldn’t be caught dead on the Communion Matrix doing this, but okay, here goes:

“In-interrupt a Wizard you shant,

Lest he-he start to pant.

If you do, can’t you s-see?

You’ll make him REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE.

Something most people wouldn’t know is that moths have possibly the world’s most sensitive hearing. Of course, you’re not most people- You’re a Wizard. Wizards who spend all day on the Communion Matrix know these things! It was a gamble, but without any other option all you can do was invoke the [Irate Frog Song] that now issues from your mouth.

As you screech in her ears, the sound seems to hit her like a verbal sledgehammer. The Mothgirl recoils from you, holding her head with four of her arms as she staggers backwards, insectoid feet squelching in the earth where you split the pot.

“What madness is this, this retched cry!

Stop this instant lest you wish to die! “

You don’t think you’re going to do that. In fact, you increase the frequency of your scream as you get control of yourself. Her confusion earns you earn a momentary reprieve from a now incredibly pissed Mothgirl, and maybe bought some time for Blake to appear.

While effective, the [Irate Frog Song] is also really, really tiring. You know damn well that you can’t keep this up forever, and the moment you stop, she’s going to come for you. That would be bad. As your face grows red with strain, you remember the charge of power that lingers from when you gathered your will to cast [Lightning Bolt]. It isn’t very powerful, but perhaps if there was some way to enhance it-

Your eyes snap to the puddle water that she’s standing in. Oh, that looks good. Preparing yourself to act quickly, you cut off the screech, taking in a short breath before croaking, “Fry bitch!”

The Moth Girl had already started to blur toward you the moment you stopped the screech, but she isn’t faster than pure energy. The [Lightning Bolt] hits the water and is conducted through it, up to the charging Monster. Her motion stops immediately as the energy surged through her, eyes wide in pain.

Aww yeah, chalk another one up for the Wizard! Ain’t no one going to mess with your mojo! You perform an impromptu celebration dance, but when you focus on her again you notice with shock that she’s moving, albeit slowly and painfully.

As her body twitches irregularly, she stutters out,

“R-r-r-regret that you shall, you m-mortal man.

I cannot be d-defeated by such a weak p-plan.

Your power is nothing, your fate isss sealed,

Take now the punishment that will be dealed!”

You’re fairly certain dealed isn’t a word, but you really don’t have time to argue such wordplay. There isn’t enough time to summon more electricity and you’re damn certain that if you try to book it, her predator instincts will kick in and she’ll run you down before you made it out of the inferno.

Despite your own demise coming to you, you offhand notice that the fire hasn’t spread anywhere. Odd, it was burning so fiercely before, you’d have expected it to have burned down the whole forest by now. You notice the kookiest things when in mortal peril, huh?

Anyway, things look bad. You instinctively take a step backward from the Mothgirl, her fur standing up on end, wild eyes locked on you in rage. Before she can reach you however, out of the darkness and into the ring of flames leaps Blake, sword in two hands. He gives a mighty shout and slashes a devastating blow aimed squarely at the Monster.

To give her credit, her reflexes are pretty damn amazing, even given her shock. Were she on normal terms, she may have dodged completely, but as it stands she could only pull back enough to keep it from being a mortal blow. Blake’s cold steel cut a long furrow from her left eye, all the way to her hip.

Greenish blood flies everywhere as the gash splits open. The Moth Girl screams in a primal mix of rage, fear, and pain. She pulls away from Blake, who shouts,

“Get away from here vile creature or face me in combat!”

The Moth Girl’s face contorts in pure, unadulterated rage as she clutches at her wounds with her six arms. She hisses, then leaps into the air, unfurling her wings and flapping them furiously.

“You think you have won? You think all is well?

Soon it will be that I send you to the hells!”

And with that, she zips over the ring of fire and out of sight, leaving you alone with Blake and a forest fire.

Both of you pant from the adrenaline pumping through your system. You look around warily for any sign of attack, but all you can hear is the crackling of fire and the snapping of wood. Blake slowly sheathes his sword and scoops up the pot, tsking as a small jolt of electricity shocks him.

“Put out the fire, Wizard.” He says, in an unnervingly calm voice.

You decide to follow his command, casting [Ice] to make a sort of hail over the trees. The chunks of ice quickly melt and smothers the flames, plunging you back into near darkness. Blake grunts and looks at you although in the darkness you can’t tell his expression. Without a word, he turns to move back to camp. You, of course, quickly follow him back to safety.

Exiting the tree line, you take one more look back. As you do, you hear a faint giggle. Your head snaps up and you scan the trees again but see nothing. Feeling some anxiety, you back away and head to the safety of the warded camp, mind troubled. You must be hearing things.

It isn’t long before you cast [Ice] again and made the water so Blake, who is rather silent, can clean up your mess. When he finishes he turns back to his bed roll and tells you to do the same.

You seem dubious that the ward would be enough to protect you from that raging moth, but he assures you that it is plenty powerful, and that the moth would need some time to recover before coming after the two of you. Nervousness only slightly placated, you put your head back down to sleep and slowly, but fitfully, the fatigue of the evening settles into your bones and drags you back to sleep.

————————————————————————————–

You awaken to the first rays of the sun tickling you face. Immediately you squirm to get away from it, shielding your eyes from the harmful light with your bedroll. As you squirm your foot contacts something, prompting you to flip over your covering with a start.

There, sitting at your feet, is the severed head of the Moth Girl from last evening, stewing in a puddle of its own green blood.

You stare blankly at the head, your expression mirroring the dead eyes that seem to bore into you. Severed head, huh? How interesting. With slow, deliberate gestures, you pick yourself up out of your bed roll, take a deep breath, and then freak the fuck out.

“HolyGodsintheheavenswiththeirmysticallittleangekwingsandthunderboltsoflightnigveryveryfrightning!”

Blake is up in half a second, sword in hand as he scans for danger. His gaze locks onto the severed head and he tenses up before walking toward it with caution. He prods the head with his sword carefully before pulling back. It just topples over face first into the dirt. You can see from this angle though the extent to which the head was severed. It wasn’t a clean cut, in fact it was quite messy and uneven, with strips of muscle stretched and dangling in odd angles.

There is no doubt that someone or something had ripped this Mothgirl’s head clear off her shoulders and then… Put it in your bedroll? You shudder more at the thought that whatever it was had managed to get past the ward than that it had the strength to rip off a Monster’s head. Of course, this then brings up another odd question. Why leave the head here, and only do that?

There’s nothing missing from the camp and, as far as you can tell, neither of you were molested. There was no reason you could think of to do this… Well, unless there’s organized crime ring which involves Monsters or something, but you highly doubted something like that could exist.

Blake doesn’t say anything. He disposes of the head silently, but you know that he’s disturbed that a Monster of any kind could get into his ward. It would have to mean that it was either some sick fuck of a human, or a very strong Monster. Neither option is incredibly pleasant. With a supreme effort of will, you wash off your bedroll and get ready to hit the road.

 

Chapter 6

 

As the day carries on Blake seems to come into better spirits, humming to himself. You, on the other hand, are still quite shaken judging by the way you look around nervously at every little twitch of grass. This journey is going to kill you, isn’t it? If it isn’t some damn Monster that gets you, it’s going to be your nerves!

You look to Blake, who is happy as can be, and grit your teeth. Why didn’t he say anything about what happened? He’s just taking it all in stride, walking down the road without a care. Perhaps he’s just used to a life of danger and uncertainty or perhaps he’s hiding something. Either way, it pisses you off.

Gathering yourself, you catch up to Blake and cough into your hand. “Ahem. Hero, perhaps you would care to comment on why perhaps there was a head in my bed last night?”

He doesn’t seem to pay you any attention at first. Perhaps he didn’t hear you? As you prepare to cough louder, he says nonchalantly, “Something apparently tore its head off after we fought it, then left it in the woods for some prankster to put in your bed.”

You aren’t buying and he isn’t selling either. He didn’t even turn around to look at you when he said it, just letting it hang there. An uneasy silence descends between the two of you, and only after a period of five or so minutes do you break the tension first.

You whisper, “It was another Monster, wasn’t it?”

Blake grunts in acknowledgement. “Yes, fair Wizard, it likely was. I do not know of what variety, but it seemed to have no ill intentions… For now.”

“I see…”

Blake goes back to humming and you look at his back with a sour expression. He’s a good swordsman, you’re reasonably certain by his actions last night, however that night also proved that if you were to survive, you’ll need to increase your magical prowess.

“Hero, perhaps we may take a moment that I might practice my magical arts.”

He stops and turns to look over his shoulder, one eyebrow raised in curiosity.

“W-well, you see, were I to practice my magic it could become more powerful and… Uhm…” You trip over your words a little under his gaze and begin to wonder if it was a mistake to ask such a thing.

Blake looks forward again and scratches his chin. He surveys the sky, then your surroundings, before finally shrugging. “We saved some time traveling further last evening, so perhaps we can spare some for training.”

He flexes his arm as he says so, expression changing from sour back to his traditional joviality.”My sword arm could use some extra practice as well.”

After a little more walking you stop at a flat, open area of short grass. There’s no people, or Monsters, anywhere nearby so seems like a nice area for a rest. As the noonday sun bears down, you prepare to train.

Blake sets down his gear and takes off his armor and undershirt, his rippling muscles shining with a thin layer of sweat from the heavy clothes. You aren’t gay or anything, but Gods damn can you appreciate that this man has a sexy body.

Looking away you shake your head and prepare your focus, thinking of a spell to cast in practice. Honestly, in the last few years you just worked on your three spells, more interested in mastering them as opposed to branching out. It’s quite apparent however, that you need something else to help survive this cruel world.

You think it over on your head. Defense is what you lack so the obvious option is to make a shield in which to protect yourself from the predations of Monsters… but of what? You know that some of your fellow Wizards can make shields of pure energy, but you never took much stock in such things. Mastery of the elements, yep, that’s more your style.

Furrowing your brow, you remove a heated bread pocket from your [Pocket Dimension], chewing on it as you think while Blake swings his sword in the distance. Okay, so the first option is to a make a shield of ice, but that likely won’t work. The ice is easy to project, but you can’t yet keep it together in one coherent form like a shield.

A fire shield is weak and lightning shield is just silly. Which leads back to ice. Perhaps if you had some other kind of focus with which to weave the ice into…

Your stomach rumbles again and you break into a small sweat. Oh boy, time to go another round. You look at Blake and blanch before slinking away behind a tree. When you’re sure you’re out of sight, you drop your robes and let slip the dogs of war. That’s when it strikes you.

It’s disgusting, it’s foul, but by the Gods, it might work!

Turning about, you face the pile of excrement you created and close your eyes. In your mind’s eye you see a sea of pure filth. Not just literal filth either, but metaphorical filth, such as shitweaving upon the Communion Matrix. From this sea rises a tower made of pure shit, and atop it is a golden turd, it’s shine a light that quickly fills your vision and consumes you.

You open your eyes slowly and point a hand at the shit. For a moment, nothing happens. But after a moment, the pile begins to twist and move, the individual pieces slithering over themselves to form a round disk. With another effort of will, you lift your hand, and the newly formed disk flies into the air and hovers before you. You give a cry of delight as you wave your hand, the shit slinging through the air.

Smiling, you concentrate your energy again and then snap your fingers. In a flash, the disk of defecation becomes frozen in a block of ice, yet you can still move it freely.

Turning about, you find Blake staring at you. Not really with any emotion, just… honestly there’s no other word, it’s just staring. And it’s creepy. Curious, you move your shield over towards him, putting it right in his face. He just keeps staring at it. You waggle it about in and he still does nothing. Did you break him? Well, if you did, then good, things might be easier this way.

“Hero! How do you like my magic?”

He speaks in an emotionless voice, “It’s shit.”

You give him, pun intended, a shit-eating grin. “Shit?”

“It’s shit.”

“Well, perhaps you’d like to try it out?”

“Wizard, why do you do this?”

“Oh come now Hero, think of it as training!”

He just shakes his head and sighs before drawing his sword and taking a stance. He wrinkles his nose  before going blank in the face again, then striking your shield with swift blow.

The frosty shit shield doesn’t even budge.

Blake steps back, looking at the disk before trying a few more blows. One manages to send a crack into the ice, but its integrity holds. Blake rubs his chin, impressed.

“Well, well Wizard! Your shield is sturdy, if disgusting.” He wipes his brow and looks at the sky. “Come then, we need to be going if we are to cross this section of road before nightfall.”

“Right you are!” You say, letting go of your spell, dropping the shield to ground. Picking up your staff, you follow Blake as he prepares to continue down the road.

————————————————————————————–

You set up camp for the evening in a similar fashion to last night’s little stop. With curiosity you notice Blake setting his bed roll up a little farther from you and the fire though. Someone is paranoid and it’s not you this time.

Supper consists of simple traveling fare again while once again the two of you sit across from each other in perfect silence. As soon as you finish eating, Blake sets up his ward, freshly scrubbed of your fantastic feces from yesterday, and it slowly hums to life.

You watch the ward with some curiosity and begin to consider perhaps making your own defenses to complement Blake’s. Perhaps you can use your [Wizard’s Chalk] to draw a circle around you and imbue it with energy? Such circles are powerful to a degree and channel magical energy quite well. Rooting around in your pocket for the chalk, you find with horror that all your falls have crushed it!

Well shit, what to do now? Ice spikes perhaps? Certainly, you could make such things, but unless they were utterly massive, they’d likely melt in short order and be nothing more than a cold nuisance. Besides, that would devour so much of your will, you don’t think you could move after casting it.

Mulling it over, you draw a few phallic symbols in the grass with carefully controlled bursts of fire, just to kill some time. Blake looks over your shoulder once but just shakes his head before stalking off out behind a tree to do some business.

Oh, of course! Duh, you totally have a material to work with. Before Blake returns from his escapade, you summon your will and draw upon his stool.

It’s much harder to move than yours, he obviously gets a ton of fiber, but you stretch it down into tight, fine, coils. You then set it down in the grass and loop it around the camp, forming a circular barrier. As the circle closes, you feel a subtle shifting and a slight magical energy hums in the air. It’s not anything major, probably weaker than Blake’s ward, but it should provide a little bit more to help deter Monsters. If that fails, then the smell should do the trick.

Blake sniffs the air, then himself, before grumbling about this whole place being haunted or something. He lays back in his bed roll and stares at the stars, a contemplative look on his face. Gosh, he seems to peaceful and serene. Would be a real shame if someone bothered him right now.

“Soooooo…” You begin. “Another two days until Feldergrod, huh?”

“Mmph.”

“What do you suppose our course of action will be once we arrive?”

“It depends on circumstances. We’ll probably stay there for the day and take a river boat out to Loveura before making our way to Sanctifrond.”

“And in the worst case?”

He grows quiet for a few moments before sighing out, “We’d probably have find other transportation and go through Varruck.”

You know what some of those words mean. Loveura is a riverside sanctum of beauty which has housed great gardens for centuries following the last Monster Invasions. The people there are kind, gentle, and even allow Monsters to live with them. They sound like real upstanding normies to you.

The capital, Sanctifrond, on the other hand is a metropolitan monstrosity which is surrounded by utterly massive walls and an attitude of superiority that looks disdainfully down at the peasants beneath them. The capital is ancient and has only been breached once, over a thousand years ago by the third Monster Lady, Terabithia. Since then, the inhabitants have held a strong love for the Order and, while Monsters are tolerated, they are not well loved.

This Varruck on the other hand is unfamiliar to you. You’re certain you’ve heard the name before, but from where?

“What exactly is this Varruck you speak of?”

“A region with a small town of similar name. The people there hold no love for the Order, and instead consort freely with Monsters in the region.”

He scrunches his face as if he ate something distasteful. Or perhaps it was still the smell of shit in the air. “While they have no real inclination to strike out from their forest, even though they have had ample opportunity to, the fact that they have bred so many Monsters could certainly spell trouble for us. It would be best if we didn’t venture there.”

You ponder over this and then nod your head, agreeing with that assessment. Sounds like a bad time you have to admit. Anyway, time for sleep. You wonder for a moment if the Monster from last evening will return, but soon sleep overtakes you before you can think that over further.

 

Chapter 7

 

It starts to rain around noon the next day.

In your Wizard robes and big, floppy hat you have the worst of it shielded, but the rain is still miserably uncomfortable. As you trudge through the forming mud, you grumble about the unfairness of the outdoors with their… outside-ness…

Blake, on the other hand, pulls a cloak from somewhere and wears it while looking even more heroic than before.

As you come around a bend ahead, the rain picks up, forcing you to shield your face with your staff in a futile gesture. Unable to continue, you look around for shelter and Blake quickly directs you to a copse of trees where the branches manage to shield you from the worst of the rain.

Thus you sit, rain pouring overhead. Who the hells knew how it got this bad so fast, but you’re pretty mad since this can easily delay your trip another day if you have to make camp and wait it out. Blake is also none too pleased, tapping his foot in annoyance while watching the rain go by. You’re about to go on a tirade about how boooooring this is, when Blake suddenly stands tall and puts his hand on his sword.

You bolt upright yourself and scan the area too. Ah, there it is, if you recall right, that’s the sound of a slow “clop, clop, clop” of hooves on the wet road. It doesn’t sound particularly fast, but it is coming your way, that’s certain. You ready your will and prepare to sling a spell at whatever’s coming while Blake slides out his sword. Could it be a Centaur? Damn, that would be quite messy if it is, but you aren’t afraid!… Well after the Moth Girl incident, maybe you’re a little afraid.

From around the bend rolls into sight a covered wagon pulled by a normal, everyday horse. A man atop it raises a hand when he sees you and stops the horse by yanking on the reins. “Ho there travelers! Seems you’re getting a little wet!”

Well that was anti-climactic.

The tension in the air seems to vanish abruptly as the man’s friendly words reverberate through the rain choked sky. You still hold your will ready, but Blake casually sheathes his sword and raises an arm to address the man. “Ho, fair waggoneer! Indeed, we are waiting out the storm before returning on our trek to Feldergod.”

The waggoneer, a small man hidden by a large cloak, replies, “Well, seems like we’re goin the same way, now doesn’t it? Might as be I’ve got some room in my wagon if you’d like a dry ride.”

Blake shakes his head, “I couldn’t possibly impose upon you.”

“Oh, it’s no trouble at all, and having a few strapping young lads like yourselves along would be nice for my peace of mind, eh?”

Blake hesitates, “We do not have spare funds for a trip however…”

The man’s eye twitches when Blake says this, but he quickly covers it up and says, “Oh, no, no! Think nothing of it, I’m just a good person, ehehe.”

You prod Blake in the back until he turns to face you. Your expression is a careful mask that does not in any way hide the fact that you want onto that damn cart. Because you do. True, you don’t trust this waggoneer, but you also don’t relish having to walk in the rain. It’s a necessary evil.

Blake sighs before relenting. The two of you walk quickly through the rain and pile into the cart. As you get in, the man looks back into the wagon from his end and nods his head. Through his cloak you can see that he has a bulbous nose and squinty eyes, but his other features are obscured. “You alright back there?”

“Quite comfortable, thank you” Replies Blake though you can see he’s lying by the way he shifts about.

“Here we go then!” You hear the crack of the reins and off you go again, the floor bouncing beneath you as the wagon trundles onward. It’s not the most comfortable, but it’s still much better than walking in the rain.

It’s a little dark inside the wagon, but you can see that it’s mostly filled with large, metallic containers whose contents made a sloshing noise as the wagon rolled on. There are about twenty of them, but thankfully there’s enough room for the two of you in the cart.

You settle back and look out the rear of the wagon at the receding landscape. Watching the rain-darkened trees and grey sky pass by, you consider taking a nap when you spot something curious. While hard to see, you swear you can see humanoid figure in the distance and you get the impression it’s watching you go. A moment later, it turns to the forest and dashes away with what appears like a long tail trailing behind it.

A shiver runs up your spine at what you just saw. Although it could be the cold which made you shiver, you seriously doubt that. With a perturbed sigh you gently lean your head back against the cart. Ahead of you Blake begins to speak with the driver in soft tones, his voice making you drowsy.

You know that you should be far warier, but as far as you can tell the man is just some traveling merchant. Besides Blake seems to be on top of things and damn it, you’re so very tired. Surely it’s fine to let your guard down a little, right? Blake has this in hand. In fact, at this current rate, you might just wake up in Feldergrod. Now wouldn’t that be-

You awaken to the sound of the horse screaming and furious shouts from the waggoneer. Before you have a chance to react a heavy impact slams into the cart sending it, and you, flying onto your side. Dazed but otherwise alright, you shake your head and grab your staff before leaping outside the wagon and into the pouring rain.

 

Chapter 8

 

Outside the rain is still coming down in sheets. Raising your arm to shield yourself from its wrath, you look about and spy few steps away from your cart a tall form looming over you.

She stands about seven feet tall, and is rippling with muscles, giving her a stout appearance, yet combined with her utterly massive breasts she is undeniably female. She has a hard-hewn face that seemed to be carved from granite and eyes that burn with an intensity which can bore a hole into the ground.

While her upper torso mostly human, her legs are covered in coarse, brown hair which is matted to the skin by rain and mud. Further examination shows that instead of feet, her legs end in cloven, bovine hooves. Atop her head rests two wickedly curved horns, the tips sharpened into fine points. As a final gesture, a bovine tail flips behind her leaving no doubt in your mind that this Monster is a Minotaur.

You stare blankly at her, a little confused as to what happened. Perhaps it was the fall but your position in this situation hasn’t quite reached your mind. Distantly you notice that Blake is crouching atop the flipped wagon, while the waggoneer is hiding behind him even though his horse is failing about, still attached to its harness. The man seems to be shivering and dry washing his hands furiously.

Your attention snaps into focus as the Minotaur bellows. “Merchant Goldman! We have seen your deception and demand the return of our village’s milk!”

Minotaur milk? That’s what he had in those containers? You’ve heard of Holstaur milk at least being sold and that the stuff is delicious and pined after by connoisseurs of the culinary. For your part, the concept of drinking Monster milk just seems disgusting.

Goldman cringes at the words and pleads to Blake, “H-help me, oh mighty Hero! I have dealt in good faith with this Monster and her tribe, but they seek to go back upon their bargain! Treacherous beasts, one and all!”

The Minotaur’s eyes widen in fury. She stomps a hoof in the wet earth, shifting her stance forward.”If you wish to share the same fate as this bastard, then so be it!”

Blake tenses and draws his sword before interposing himself between the Minotaur and the merchant. What a Hero.

You, on the other hand, decide to play diplomat, your greatest strength. “Monster! How exactly this man wronged you?!”

Her heated gaze swings to you this time, and your breath catches as the intensity of it bores into you. It’s almost a physical force at this point, and you flinch back in reflex.

“He has traded us false goods for the work of my village’s Holstaur’s and we demand recompense for this insult!” She stomps her hoof again. “I do not have the patience for the banter. Leave now or I’ll take all three of you back with me for punishment.”

You lick your lips with worry at that before looking over to Blake. He’s still in his defensive stance over the merchant, posture tense.

“Blake, it is entirely possible that this this merchant has acted in poor faith. This is none of our concern.”

Blake opens his mouth and speaks in a slow, but firm, voice. “By the Order, I will not allow a human being to come to harm. Even if he has allowed his greed to overcome his morality, it is not my place to judge, merely protect.”

Neat, you’ve got yourself a regular Paladin of virtue here. This answer, of course, makes the Minotaur flip her shit. She stomps the ground again, ducks down, and charges the Hero.

Blake shoves the merchant away forcefully and dodges to one side as the Minotaur absolutely obliterates part of the wagon, going through it in a cloud of splinters and popping wood. She quickly turns back and brays out a long cry before charging again.

This is where you come in. At this point it’s obvious that you two are targets as well, thanks Blake you bastard, so you need to either defeat her or bail because she clearly isn’t going to listen anymore. All things considered you like the bail option, though you need to create an opening. With a flick of your wrist, you release your will in a jet of [Ice], which quickly forms around the charging Minotaur’s ankles.

There is sharp, snapping sound, and the Minotaur cries out in surprise before slamming face first into the mud. Her hooves had been covered in your ice, but the momentum of her charge broke her free of the binding. She’s just laying in the mud now, clearly trying to piece out what happened. You are certain though that she won’t be down for long.

“Blake, we must be gone from this place!”

Blake looks at the stunned Minotaur, then you, before quickly grabbing his gear from what remains of cart and pulling the merchant along with him, sword still drawn. Despite hurrying, he manages to cut the horse’s tether to the cart, letting it loose. What a Hero.

You have mixed feelings about dragging the merchant with you, especially now that he’s starting to rave at Blake to finish her off so he can get his goods and shekels.

Blake ignores his protests and drags the man as you run. Your group makes pretty good headway before you hear that braying shout again. Looks like there’s nothing for it, you’ll have to fight, because she clearly is going to kill you. Or rape you. Or both! It’s basically the same for you.

Blake realizes the same thing and basically throws the merchant to the side as he readies his sword, eyes directed to where the Minotaur would be coming. You prepare yourself as well, cycling through your spells. Obviously, the correct choice was the [Circle of Shit], the spell you invented last night. It wouldn’t drive her away on its own, but it would buy you some time or even drive her away with the stench. Extending your senses for any feces that might be around you unfortunately find nothing, not even bird shit.

With a start, you look up at the sky and your eyes widen. The rain! Shit gets washed out in the rain! It didn’t occur to you that you’re unable to use Copromancy at all in this weather, as it would quickly run and lose its power. Guess you’re going to have to resort to your elemental magic then.

As you think furiously upon what to do now, you hear the clopping of hooves upon mud, and see the Minotaurcharging at you. You whip out your hands, quick as vipers, and a sheet of ice ten feet across appears on the wet earth in front of the Minotaur. Unable to stop herself, she slips and falls again to the ground with a resounding crack of her face on ice.

In quick succession you raise your staff and make a slashing gesture. A [Lightning Bolt] flies from your staff to slam into the fallen Minotaur. She convulses for under the blow but continues trying to stand though she fails miserably due to, well, hooves on ice. Crap, she’s barely fazed by your spells and you can’t keep doing this forever!

“We need to leave this merchant and go! Her quarrel is not with us, and this man has clearly wronged her!” Among other things you’re certain…

Blake shakes his head furiously and shouts back over the now tempestuous rain, “I will not abandon him Wizard! It is my duty to protect people!”

You search Blake’s eyes and find them to be utterly resolved.

You lift your lip in disgust. You have no real animosity towards Monsters, except the fact that they’re females who desperately want to rape you into normie-hood, but beating up this Minotaur just feels wrong. Sadly Blake doesn’t look like he’s going to budge as long as he feels he has to protect this merchant.

“Kill her, fair Hero! Remove this lying BEAST! Kekekeke.” The merchant says, dry-washing his hands as he hides behind Blake, though the Hero makes no moves to attack the Minotaur either.

Watching this you now feel certain that he set you up to take a fall. The Heroes of the Order are renowned for their steadfast protection of the people of Deleor, but also for their strong belief in justice. If Blake knew this man had dealt in poor faith, he surely wouldn’t protect him, even from a Monster.

You take a look to the Minotaur to be certain you have time, then run over to the merchant, screaming at him.

“Why did you steal the Milk!?”

He staggers back in surprise, stammering, “I d-d-don’t know what you m-mean!”

The bastard’s hood had fallen off and you can now see his red, curly hair in patches around his head. He’s sweating despite the rain and it makes him look disgusting. You snarl, “The milk! Why did you steal it?”

“I did no such thing! I traded for it fairly! Just because those stupid cows didn’t check the tools before they-” He cuts off abruptly as he realizes his mistake, gulping and taking a few steps back.

You narrow your eyes and shout to Blake, “Admission from his own mouth Hero, he is not innocent!” In a calmer voice you say, “Is it truly justice to harm her for no reason?”

Blake’s assuring falters, and he looks back towards you, “Wizard, I-“

And then the Minotaur girl slams into Blake, taking him with her for about twenty feet before throwing him to the dirt with a flick of her horns and mounting him. Blake thrashes the best he can after being slammed like that, but her strength is incredible. His protests amount to little as she laughs and reaches down.

Okay so, a Minotaur is about to rape Blake. Good for him… Is what you’d like to say, but the fucker is probably the only thing keeping you from dying alone on the road, not to mention your ticket to a new Galmathorian glass.

The question then, is how exactly do you resolve this quickly? She obviously isn’t going to listen to anything you say, and if you try to push her off, you’re certain she’ll back hand you into the jaw.

You’re fairly certain you don’t want to be backhanded in the jaw.

Which means, MAGIC. You can do magic pretty well you figure. Let’s see, [Fireball] was out, [Lightning Bolt] would probably hurt Blake, so that was out too. [Ice] though… A brilliant (ish) thought passes your mind and you raise your arms to the sky. In a flash, you cast [Ice] in an arc above their heads, causing a fine mist of cold to drift down in the rain.

The effect is immediate. As the magic touches their skin, a thin layer of frost appeared, causing Blake to shiver violently. The Minotaur, who was in the process of tearing Blake’s pants off, lets out a bray of frustration. Only then does she seem to notice the cold, and begins shivering herself, slowly slipping from Blake to topple onto the now frosty mud. She lays there, panting in hot breaths as she tries to warm herself up, eyes utterly unfocused. She isn’t going anywhere for awhile, not like this.

You quickly dash over to Blake and help him up, making a small flame and shielding it with your hand to help warm him up. He covers himself again and nods to you gratefully before staring at the Minotaur’s pathetic form, shivering in the cold, wet earth.

Blake grits his teeth. An internal conflict plays through him as he stares intently at the Monster. You worry for a moment that he’s going to ignore you and protect this man despite his deceit. Slowly, ever so slowly, he sheathes his sword and lets out a long sigh. “I cannot fight this. It would be a mockery of justice.”

Turning to the Merchant, he begins to speak when the man suddenly dashes toward the Minotaur, a knife in his hand and a frenzied, almost gleeful look in his eyes. It takes you a moment to realize that the madman is going to try and kill her as she’s recovering!

Blake is too far away to stop him, but your magic can reach in time. The merchant is about ten feet from the Minotaur when you point you staff toward him and fire out a [Lightning Bolt] on reflex. He begins to convulse immediately, dropping the knife and falling to the ground in a pitiful heap, twitching every so often.

You look toward Blake and see the man staring in surprise at what you just did. Waving your hand in front of his face snaps back out of it, however. “Blake, we must depart, the greedy fool deserves whatever fate he gets.”

Blake considers this for a moment. Ignoring you, he walks over to the Minotaur, who is shivering from the ice and rain, and crouches down, hand on his sword. Wait, is he going to kill her after all? It surprises you that you’d care about such an action, but should you stop him?

He makes no move to draw the sword though and instead asks in a gentle voice, “Are you alright?”

The dazed Minotaur looks at up at him. Her eyes seem to come into focus slowly as she realizes he’s there and not trying to kill her. She nods her head slowly. Blake sighs in relief.

“Did this man truly trade in poor faith with you and yours?”

She nods again.

Blake sighs again and rakes a hand through his hair. “What do you plan to do with him then?”

She opens her mouth, teeth chattering, “W-w-we will p-punish him as seems f-fit by the chieftain. Thirty rapings and renewal of our milk stocks s-seems fitting for such a crime.”

Blake pinches the bridge of his nose and mutters something incoherent before rising. He points at the merchant, “This man deserves justice to be met out. When he has been properly punished, you will return him to custody of humans who will met their own punishments.” He narrows his eyes, “Do I make myself clear?”

The Minotaur stares at him with wide eyes, clearly surprised by his declaration. She gives a jerky nod of her head and then looks to the man, lying in a pool of water and his own urine. A shuddering chuckle escapes her lips. “Heh, h-had circumstances been different, you would make a fine mate.”

Blake sighs and stands, turning away from the scene. Without ceremony, he grabs your arm and you both start down the road again, neither of you noticing the rain.

 

Chapter 9

 

A few hours later, the rain grudgingly abates in time for night to fall. Blake finds a clearing next to the road to camp and the two of you sit with your clothes drying over a fire while you warm up.

Blake stares at the glowing embers, not even seeming to notice the mild cold that followed the rain at night. He’s obviously lost in thought from earlier today, and you’re not certain what to do about it, or if you even should.

His actions today have given you a lot to think about. He seemed to fervently want to protect the man, yet he didn’t attack the Minotaur when he had the chance. Sure, the merchant was full of shit, but Blake clearly believed him at first. Was he just a coward who didn’t want to attack the Minotaur or was it that he had his own doubts about the man?

Deciding to leave it there, you turn in for the evening, shuddering under your bedroll in the cold.

————————————————————————————–

Something stirs before you. Groggily, you wake up and immediately sense another presence near you. Starting awake, your eyes lock onto a silhouette in the darkness, holding something in furred hands. You can distinctly see the shapes of pointed ears atop the head of rather attractive feminine body as well but at the sight of seeing you awake, she quickly drops the object and flees. Stunned, you watch her long tail trail behind her as she moves faster than you can believe into the nearby trees, vanishing quickly from sight.

Sitting up in your bedroll, you scan the darkness around you but see no sign of your mysterious stalker any longer. Slowly, you crawl out of your covers and look toward Blake. Fucker is still sleeping, of course. Seems that these Order types don’t get military training to just spring awake at the presence of silent intruders, nah, that would be asking too much.

You mutter a few curses and check the ward in the center of the camp. It’s still functional as far as you can tell, magical energy pulsing out around you. Looking toward your own defense, you find that it is similarly intact. The obvious conclusion is that you aren’t dealing with some run of the mill Monster here.

With a sigh, you look down at the object laying in the the grass. You carefully pick it up to see that it’s a stylized heart carved of wood. The work is rather immaculate, so someone clearly took a lot of care making it. Why would this Monster, for she had to be Monster, have such a thing and why would they give it to you?

This Monster didn’t seem to want to cause you any harm, at least not yet, so perhaps she was amenable to pleasant conversation of sorts. Yeah, and you’re a Monkey Girl’s uncle. You figure pretty damn well that with one misstep you’ll be raped real good and lose all of your powers. Which, as has been said before, you would like to avoid.

Still… This can’t keep happening. You can’t live in fear that every night some Monster will come and leave you a present. Best let her down gently. Mostly because if you make her really mad she might just kill you. You also don’t want that.

You grit your teeth and deactivate your [Circle of Shit]. Quietly putting your dried clothes on and taking up your staff, you step out toward the forest the Monster ran to. It only takes three steps into the tree line for you to see this is a bad idea. Come on, remember what happened like, two days ago? Criminy, but here you are, walking through the forest at night again. Alone. 

Sounds of the night forest sing around you but you hear nothing which would out of the ordinary and- Wait. The trees to your left rustle then quickly become silent. You tense up and gather your will, spell forming in your mind as you scan back and forth. It takes about a full minute of nothing before you exhale slowly and make to leave. Before you can however, a soft giggle fills the air.

Your heart tries to burst from your chest in surprise and terror as you attempt to pinpoint the sound but fail miserably. The giggling turns into little fits here and there, but it stays a low, constant mocking that torments you for what seems and eternity before you’re forced to respond, only mildly tremulous.

“D-don’t make me set this place on fire!” You’ve heard forest fires are a great way to get out of a date.

The laughter abruptly stops. A chill goes down your spine as you scan the environment. Oh fuck this. You make to escape when you feel two very soft, black furred arms wrap around your neck and pull you in tight toward springy bosom.

You fucking panic. Though you go ballistic and desperately flail to break free, the grip upon you is much tighter than you can break. You try and turn your head to see your assailant but find that your neck is pinned enough to stop even that. The oddest part of it though is that you don’t feel like you’re being crushed or hurt at all, merely restrained. It’s almost as unnerving as the purring vibrations you can feel through the chest of the Monster girl behind you.

It doesn’t take long for you to realize that it’s futile to struggle, so you stop resisting in order to save your strength. You can cast a spell if things get rapey, which you’re afraid it might. When you cease struggling, that same giggle tickles ear as you feel a hot breath upon it.

“Mmmm. You came out to see me, my love. You don’t know how happy that makes me! Oh, I do so hope you enjoyed your gifts.”

Her voice is a velvet purr that caresses your ear. Your mind becomes frantic though your body reacts in the opposite way to the texture of her voice. Licking your lips, you say, “Uhh ah, err, yes? I, ugh.”

You’re spilling your sauce covered noodles everywhere as you try to keep it together and make coherent sentences. Calm down, calm down, let’s try not to get raped. Taking a deep breath, you manage to squeak out pitifully, “I w-would appreciate if you didn’t leave them anymore though!”

She giggles again, “Oh dear me, someone is playing hard to get.” She nibbles on your ear and whispers, “That’s fine, because I relish the hunt.”

With that you feel the weight disappear from your shoulders. You whip around, only to see that gosh darn tail once more as she vanishes into the dark forest. Strange though, it looks large, like a fox’s tail but has an odd kink at the end. Did she hurt it somehow?

Ah, no time for such thoughts! You hurry out of the woods to your encampment and huddle up in your blankets. You aren’t that cold but you’re shaking like it’s sub-arctic temperatures out and you damn well know why. This creature wants to try and break you, to make you into something that would accept and love her, and she’s willing to wait for you to break down and willingly lose everything you had ever worked for.

 

Chapter 10

 

With such events as just occurred, you can’t get back to sleep, but you don’t want to wake Blake up either. While talking to someone may be beneficial, you just aren’t ready to deal with his bullshit. Unable to sleep and with nothing better to do, you resolve to train your magic.

Of course, you don’t want to wake Blake so you decide stick with subtler magics than your elemental spells. This then comes to the problem of exactly what you want to train. Your mind is currently a troubled mess however, still unable to dissipate the memories of your encounter.

How could she disregard these wards so easily? How was she able to get the drop on you and hide her presence so well? Was she just that powerful, or was it magic? Both? You let that thought wash over you.

Maybe she’s a Monster witch, huh? You had read of such beings, Monsters who could use magic, on the Communion Matrix, but you figured they kept more to their tribes or the Monster Nation in the north.

You shiver at such a thought. True, you thought of yourself as a capable Wizard, but every day since setting out, your confidence in your own skills has dropped. You desperately want to go back home, crack open a vial of Mountain Elixir, and eat like, twelve heated bread pouches over a good runic matrix about someone’s shit tastes in waifus.

Yet, unless you manage to survive this journey with your Wizardhood intact, this was a pipe dream. Blake broke your Communion Glass and you damn sure aren’t going to use second-rate materials. This means that you need to train your magic if you want to make it home again. And if you’re dealing with a Monster witch… then perhaps a way to dispel magic would be appropriate?

You nod your head and try to concentrate on dispelling. In theory, it’s the opposite of spell casting. While each different class of practitioner uses a different source of power to cast their spells, you take pieces of your will, tie it together with your thoughts, and shape it into reality. Which means for dispelling perhaps you merely need to deconstruct the magic at the mana level? Furrowing your brow, you look around for a source of magic to practice your theory upon.

Hrm. Well, there’s your circle of shit, but there’s also the ward in camp. You cock your head and look at the ward. Concentrating your thoughts, you try to activate an ability you’ve heard Wizards possess, but you’ve never tried.

By concentrating your connection to magic, your will, something begins to form in your mind’s eye. From the ward, colors begin to flow and shift, creating a vivid and intricate matrix of mana. The more you stare, the more you see as the delicate threads of magic forming the spell begin to take shape.

Your eyes widen as you take it all in with your newly opened [Mage Sight]. You’ve never actually seen the flows of magic like this before. It’s… beautiful.

Okay, okay, focus! Staring at the incandescent center of the ward, you try to understand what makes it tick. It takes you maybe five minutes to find a probable focal point of the spell. Reaching out with your will, you tap at this specific point of the matrix. The magic of the ward shudders, then collapses at your touch as the tendrils of magic snap and vanish. The core of the magic appears to go supernova and, in an instant, is blank.

You blink in shock at how easy it was to take down that ward. Sure, it’s not something you can do on the fly yet, but you can now cast [Dispel Minor Magic]!

Beaming in delight at the victory, you pump a fist into the air as you stare at the dead ward. It takes a moment for it to hit you that the ward isn’t coming back on. Oh uh, well… best just to ignore it then. If Blake asks, you can just use the excuse that the Monster did it- not like it was keeping her out anyway.

Of course, the thought of that Monster starts you to shivering again even though you just felt so triumphant. Damnit. Those terrible thoughts kept you huddled awake all the way until first rays of morning when Blake sits up, stretches, and casually asks, “Good morning Wizard, how fared your sleep?”

You stare at him with weary, bloodshot eyes, and reply. “Very well, thank you.”

He looks at you quizzically, obviously noticing your sleep deprived state, and shrugs, rising out of bed and gathering his gear. As he pulls out the ward, he frowns, shakes it a few times and then looks it over to you.

You shrug before gathering your things. You prepare your lie when Blake asks, “Wizard… Where did you get that?”

You look down, confused, and realize that you’re holding the wooden heart. “Uhhhhhhh. Uhhhhhhhhh.”

“Wizard…”

You gulp. You thought you were prepared to answer, but here you are, covered in noodle sauce again. “W-well, you see, last night uh, that Monster came by again and erm.”

You hold up the heart while smiling. “Oh and she broke your ward.”

Blake looks between you and the ward, then groans. “By the Gods… This is just what I needed.”

“What does that mean?” You ask, furrowing your brow. “What exactly do you need?”

He considers for a moment before shaking his head. “All we need is to make it to our destination. We travel to the Capital and return to you an owed Galmathorian Glass, no? You already said you don’t want to fight in our battles, so this is just out of debt.” His eyes betray an emotion of anger or perhaps disappointment as he says this.

Well, what he said is true, but you don’t feel satisfied with that answer. Perhaps it’s your suspicion or perhaps it’s the sleep deprivation, but boldness enters your voice as you ask, “Is that so? Tell me again, why does the Order need a Wizard when they have such talented warriors as yourself.”

He looks on in discomfort as you continue. “And for that matter, how could an organization such the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood only find me and not a Wizard of renown, such as Magnus the Shite- I mean uh, White?”

Blake rubs the back of his head and hesitates before saying quietly, “Can… we not do this right now? We’re almost to Feldergrod so… Can it wait?”

You narrow your eyes and cross your arms, waiting. Blake grits his teeth before sighing. Holding his hands up in defeat he says, “I’ll explain everything once we’re in Feldergrod okay?”

So the fucker is hiding something. You mutter to yourself and grab your belongings, including the carving for some reason, and look down the road. You can imagine farms out in the far distance and other signs of civilization.

Feldergrod huh? Well, you suppose you can wait a little longer before getting on Blake’s case. Besides, at least in the town things would be smoother for you than they were out here, right?

 

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