Wizardquest Part 11: The Spider and the Croc

Chapter 94

 

With the sun full in the sky, your group departs down the path to Cair. While the countryside around Derrick is nice and tended farmland, Blake mentions tomorrow that you’ll be traveling through a patch of swampland in which dangerous Monsters are said to live. You question why Blake neglected to mention this during the planning. He didn’t think it would be an issue.

Bubs laughs as you smack the Hero upside the head.

So again, you’re on your way with your party in your wonderful covered wagon just waiting before you get attacked, because deep down you know it’s going to happen. It always fucking happens.

Perfect example, this solitary figure on the side of the road. They’re just standing there, looking about with a funny little leaf on their head and-

Oh fuck, it’s a Danuki.

Faster than a speeding Harpy, you dash to the front of the wagon and push Hala out of the seat next to Blake. The man just stares at you, bewildered.

That.” You hiss out, pointing at the Danuki. “Do not stop for that, do not exchange words with that, do not LOOK at its eyes, just keep driving.”

“Wizard, she’s just a Danuki-“

“Just a Danu-?!” You blurt out before covering your face in shame. Oh these poor fucking normies know nothing.

“In the immortal words of Benny, ‘Danuki slayer,’ Garritine,” you say, taking a quick breath, “Around Danuki, shit gets spooky.”

“That’s surprisingly intolerant of you, Wizard.” Says Blake. He blinks before reconsidering. “Actually no, no this is perfectly in character for you, continue.”

“Look, just keep driving. We don’t want anything to do with this, okay?”

About this point the Danuki notices you and she waves her arm, calling you forward. When you get close, you dare give her a glance and notice that she looks a little worse for wear.

She is about average height and wears traditional loose, eastern style clothing, though her furred legs and racoon-like banded tail are matted down in a layer of dried mud. Her leaf is intact on her head although it too has a coating of sludge upon it, as well as all over her short brown hair and furred ears. In fact, mud is kind of everywhere on her and, despite her hooded eyes doing their best to keep themselves sharp and focused, you can tell she’s horrifically weary as she readjusts the pack on her back.

She smiles at your wagon as you approach and you get real close to Blake, hissing a light rendition of the [Irate Frog Song] which sounds much like you hissing in his ear. He just glares at you as you and stops the cart. Your eyes go wide and you make pleading gestures before he waves towards her, forcing you to put your face in your hands

Fucking normies, man.

“Hail fair travelers!’ Says the Danuki as she walks up to your cart.

“A good day to you too fair Danuki, what brings a fine merchant such as you this way?” Asks Blake, his smile shining in the midday sun.

{Harmony,} you think, clutching the staff. {We may need to zap us a Danuki. I need to know you’re with me on this one.}

{Uhm.} Harmony sends, clearly confused. {What?}

{Harmony, we have to do this for the good of everyone. I NEED you on board with me here.}

{Uhm. O-okay.}

{You’re the best.} You send looking back at the Monster.

{What?} Sends back Harmony, still confused as the hells.

The Danuki chuckles and blushes, an obvious ploy. “Oh such a charmer! Ah, alas, I am a traveling merchant who has come to some misfortune in the swamps ahead.”

You peer out from behind Blake and she looks at you oddly before continuing.

“I had lost a cargo shipment there when I was attacked by some unseemly Monsters in the murk. Sadly I lost sight of the human crew I had with me as I fled.” She puts a hand to her head in obvious mock sadness.

See? Seeeeeeee?” You hiss towards Blake. “Can’t be trusted, not a single one of them. Let’s just zap her and go.”

Blake ignores you. “I see. That is unfortunate, but what kind of Monsters did you see?”

“Aha, well, I didn’t get a good look, but I believe they were some form of Crocodile Girl? Truly, I am blessed by the Gods to have survived.”

“Thank you for the warning, we will be vigilant.” Says Blake.

“Aha… Yes, yes, a warning.” The Danuki says as she brings her hands up together and begins dry rubbing, “I did however, also wonder if you were interested in a-“

She stops as you flip a copper coin through the air behind her, the distinctive sound of coinage causing her raccoon ears to pinpoint the sound and track it. Her eyes follow it for some distance before she shakes herself and continues speaking with Blake.

“A-anyway, interested in a possible business venture? You see, I am quite interested in having those goods returned, and I would be willing to pay a sum for such a feat.”

Blake considers this as you whisper in his ear, “Don’t do it, don’t fucking do it, I see that look on your face, don’t do it.”

The rest of your party stares at you as you say this, except Blake who just sighs. “I am afraid we cannot spare the time to search for these supplies, but should we see them, we can have them delivered to Cair. Would you like a ride as well?”

The Danuki chuckles while rubbing her hands faster. “Oh no, after my misfortune I believe I shall retire to Derrick to recover myself. Ah, but should you recover my goods or my… associates, please let the master of the Cairoline trading house in Cair know. You will be compensated for your time.”

Blake looks back to the rest of the party and shrugs before nodding to the Danuki. “Pleasant travels.”

“Of course, of course, you as well good sir.” She pauses for a moment and smiles back again. “Ah yes, and if you do happen to find my cargo, it would be best not to open it. The damp air and all.”

Blake nods and waves farewell before slapping the reins and driving the horses forward again. As you leave you stare at the Danuki from the back of the wagon. It doesn’t escape your notice that once you are a sufficient enough distance away, she tears into the field, searching for your coin.

Filthy creatures.” You mutter under your breath as she fades from sight.

Veronica just shakes her head and goes back to polishing her mace. “You’re one sad, strange, little man.”

————————————————————————————–

After spending the rest of the afternoon fuming about having to be near a Danuki for more than a few seconds, the sun starts to set and Blake calls a halt for the night. Your campsite is near a copse of trees in sight of a small brook, which you use to get your water for the evening meal. After you set up your wards and defensive circles, the smell of stew wafts to your nose as Blake, the chef supreme, seasons it to perfection.

“Alright.” He says, waving his spoon. “We’ve been pretty lax about watch schedules, so tonight things will be different. With five people, we have more to work with, so I’d like to try and have a rotating schedule.”

He points at Hala and Veronica with the spoon. “You two will be on first watch. You better remember what we talked about earlier.”

The two women grumble but shake their head. His spoon drifts to Tabitha and you.

“Wizard, Tabitha, you’re on second watch. No problems, I trust?”

You look at the Lizardman who shrugs, going back to polishing her blade. “Fine by me.”

“No objections.” You report as Blake nods his head.

“Very well, then I’ll be off watch tonight. We’ll rotate out someone tomorrow, agreed?”

Everyone nods their head in agreement. This is a decent plan because no one is going to try and jump Blake’s bones since someone is going to watch the other person. Seems Blake took your advice. Also, every few days you’ll get a break! Woooo!

As you enjoy your meal around the campfire, you realize that this is much different than when it was just you and Blake, or even you, Blake and Hala. Two more people makes this seem much more… you don’t know, like some kind of adventuring party from the stories. Maybe Blake did have a point.

Drifting off to bed soon after dinner, your thoughts drift to your ad hoc party. You don’t exactly like any of them, but you don’t really feel like you outright hate anyone either, not even Hala, as much as it irks you. It’s an odd situation, but you don’t feel wholly perturbed about it.

Maybe this will all turn out okay?

 

Chapter 95

 

You wake up a little while later with Tabitha rubbing your shoulder. “Wake Wizard, we’re up.” Dragging yourself up, you yawn, looking around as Tabitha sits upon a nearby log, still looking over her blade in the firelight.

With another yawn, you look about for somewhere to sit. Unfortunately, the only place that isn’t the damp ground is the log Tabitha is on. Scratching your head, you sigh and walk over to sit down next to her.  She glances toward you before nodding and going back to cleaning her sword.

Feeling a little too awkward, you pull out your canteen and take a drink before looking to Tabitha, then at the ground, then back to your canteen.

“Yeeeep.”

“Mhm.” She hums, absent mindedly.

“Mmmyep.”

Tabitha sighs and sheathes her blade. “Wizard, why did you act like a fool when you saw the Danuki?”

“Fool?” You ask, aghast. “Surely, you of all people should understand the threat posed by the Danuki.”

She rolls her shoulders. “Not really, no.”

“Oh dear, dear sweet Tabitha.”

“Don’t do that.”

“Very well, but surely you’ve heard rumors about the Danuki? How they control all the trading guilds? How they secretly move information through the court? How they orchestrated the assault on Blackfire Reach?”

At this, Tabitha turns her full attention to you. “Blackfire Reach? Surely you aren’t suggesting that the Danuki-“

“Oh yes…” You say, pressing in. “The story they want you to believe is that a rampaging band of Wurms set on conquest destroyed that Lizardman city, but think about it, how many intelligent Wurms have you known?”

She considers this, and thus takes the first step. “I don’t-“

“Now then, consider, what would the Wurms have gained by attacking there? The stories say they wanted the warm lands to build homes, but where is the Wurm city? All that’s there now is ruins and a mine owned by-” You roll you hand.

“By Sokun, the Wurm Queen. She runs the mines with her Wurms and makes…”She trails off as she considers this further.

“Yes… Yes, consider: how did the Wurms know there was a gold deposit there that the Lizardmen never found?”

“No…” She exhales, her breathing becoming rapid and shallow. “That’s impossible…”

You lean in close, forgetting that she’s a woman in your fervor. “The Danuki did it. They did all of it.”

She shudders and turns away, holding herself. It is but the way of these things. The red herb doesn’t taste the best, but it is medicine the body NEEDS. You let her shudder alone as you congratulate yourself for walking another down the path of truth.

When she recovers, she takes in a deep breath and steadies herself before addressing you again. “You have given me something to think about, Wizard.”

“If you want, I have even more reasons why-“

“I think that will be fine for now, thank you.”

You grow quiet and twiddle your thumbs, feeling a mix of satisfaction and awkwardness. Did you really just talk that much and with that much enthusiasm to a woman who wasn’t Selene? Wait, why would Selene be any different? The internal conflict plays out in your mind the rest of the evening, keeping you awake, if not particularly intent on guard duty.

————————————————————————————–

Around noon you reach the first signs of entering the swamp as large, foreboding trees appear, making everything dark and gloomy.

Though you expected the wetland, you didn’t expect the humidity, and you begin to sweat profusely in your robes. The rest of your party, Veronica in particular, suffers as well, all except for Tabitha, who seems very comfortable.

Things are starting to get very wet, and even the road sloshes into mud under the horse’s hooves. At one point, you come across a wooden bridge and cross if carefully, keeping an eye on the water for any danger. All you see though are some run of the mill crocodiles who dive under the murky water as you approach, however.

About midday you stop at a larger patch of mostly dry earth along the trail, an obvious favorite for those who travel this path, as evidenced by the hard-packed earth and signs of wheel ruts. You have a nice lunch, munching on simple travel fare while Tabitha stands watch. She said isn’t hungry and feels more comfortable keeping watch despite it being midday. You have a feeling she’s still just going over what you said last night.

Still… something seems off. Ever since entering the swamp you’ve been on edge, and the feeling has only intensified over time. You perform a quick look with your [Mage Sight] and see nothing of much interest. Sighing, you turn off your sight and realize that the normally noisy swamp has become rather quiet.

“It appears they are here.” Says Tabitha, drawing her sword to a fighting stance.

Blake follows suit while Veronica grabs her mace and Hala slips on her claws. As you train Harmony about, looking for targets, Hala’s ears twitch and she points at a patch of the swamp water.

“There, something is moving-“

As she says this an unearthly screech echoes from all around you and you place your hands over your ears as you try to cut down the noise. Fucking hells, this sound is awful! It makes it hard to see or do much of anything! You do your best to try and focus, but with your head pounding like this…

You look up with one eye open and see a large, black tentacle dragging itself out of the murk. As you watch, more and more pull themselves out as a feminine looking body slowly crawls its way onto the land, swamp water rolling off in sheets.

It’s…hard to describe what you’re seeing here. The body is clearly humanoid in form, but the skin is a pure, inky black that seems as if it would ooze if you touch it. From its back and arms sprout a multitude of the tentacles, which flail about in every direction, grabbing and stroking tree branches, logs- whatever if can find. Its head is another enigma of black, but a mouth-like opening screams the sound that stuns you, and above that are a pair of red, glowing eyes.

“A- a Swamp Horror? Here?” Grunts Blake as he covers his ears. “Damn things are supposed to live to the west, not here!”

As he says this, you notice two more sets of tentacles appear from the murk, and the first Swamp Horror is joined by two more as they slowly advance upon you, shrieking their horrifying song.

{Wizard! Hey, listen!}

You hold your head as a voice in your mind cuts through the cacophony. You cling to it like a plank in the ocean, using it to stabilize yourself.

{H-Harmony?}

{Yes! Wizard, you need to cut off the sound!}

{H-how?}

{The [Privacy Barrier] you dunce, now hurry!}

Right, right, that thing you know with the magic and the power… You should probably do that, which you do. Using Harmony as a mental focus, you project the [Privacy Barrier] outward to surround your party, cutting off the outside noise.

“That… Hah…. That should buy us some time.” You say, staggering to your feet. Still, you watch nervously as the Swamp Horrors trudge ever closer, their mouths still open despite you unable to hear their screams.

The rest of your party rights themselves and gets back into battle positions. Veronica looks to Blake and nods, sweat on her brow. “Orders?”

Blake thinks furiously for a moment before looking to you. “Can you blast them with magic?”

“Can I blast them with fucking magic…” You mutter before turning back to the Monsters and raising Harmony. Focusing inward, you gather your will into Harmony.

{Harmony, this time you have permission to go all out.}

{You got it!}

Coursing power through Harmony, you fire out a [Lightning Bolt] which flashes faster than you can believe possible into the middle of the Swamp Horrors. It slams into one, sending the creature staggering backward, its tentacles flailing wildly as it loses its balance and falls onto the ground, sparks of electricity jolting around the body as it twitches.

Fuck yeah, that worked wonders! You stare at the one on the right and gather your will again when Tabitha calls, “Wizard, it’s not dead!”

Your concentration breaks and you turn back to the first Swamp Horror, which begins to rise again. In the center of the chest where your [Lightning Bolt] hit can be seen a hole in the black ooze. Underneath that though, pink skin shows, the center reddened by the energy of your magic. The creature seems to stumble for a moment before it turns its gaze back on you as oozing blackness once more fills the gap like nothing happened

“Blake… What the fuck is that?” You ask, taking a step back. “Is there is something under all that shit?”

“I- I don’t know!” Blake says, gritting his teeth. “Swamp Horrors aren’t seen too often and tales of those who survive them are patchy at best!”

“Well what the fuck do you know?”

“They are abominations and must be purged!” Cries Veronica as she brandishes her mace, a soft yellow glow infusing her eyes.

Raising Harmony again, you swing your staff wide and cast [Vine Whip], causing the multitude of vegetation around you to burst forth and hold down the Monsters. They squirm awkwardly under the crushing weight of the vines before abruptly stopping. Everyone looks around in confusion before inching forward, wondering if it’s safe to attack, when the vegetation holding the Monsters down splinters and tears as a barrage of tentacles and black hands rip their bindings apart. You stare in horror as they advance again, tentacles flailing with even more abandon.

Hala howls as the first of the Swamp Horrors pierces your barrier. That horrific wail comes back again, but this time your party is prepared and bears the cacophony. You step back and prepare a spell as Veronica dashes forward and takes her mace in both hands, yellow light infusing it as she delivers a devastating blow to the midsection of the foremost creature.

It staggers, the black skin seeming to blister in reaction to the light, but it soon turns its unfazed gaze on the Aspirant. A multitude of tentacles grabs her and hauls her off her feet, writhing about and immobilizing her arms as she struggles against the power of the Monster.

Hala dashes toward the Monster holding Veronica, awkwardly slashing apart tentacles as new ones appear, the creature’s defenses being pushed back as the Wolf Girl’s furious onslaught tears into the creature. She raises her fist to pierce her claws into the chest of the Horror when another set of tentacles grasps her by the ankles and pulls her feet out from under her. She cries out as she’s dragged toward the next Swamp Horror, which came from behind. Before she can be pulled more than a few feet however, Tabitha steps in and cuts the appendages with a well-placed slash of her blade. Black muck flies apart, freeing the Wolf Girl, who bounds to her feet and charges the new threat.

For Blake, he charges, shield first, into the last Swamp Horror. He connects into it, forcing the Monster to step backward before he way slashes with his sword. He doesn’t seem to make much progress, but his blows keep it distracted and on the defensive.

You focus your will and try to drown out the din of combat as you think. Alright, so it seems electricity isn’t going to cut it with these things, so you needed to try something else. But what is that underneath their outer layer? Is it their true body? You bite your lip and stare at the Monsters, scanning with your [Mage Sight] but are unable to find anything.

You hear an odd noise come from Veronica and your head whips over to see her still held in place by the tentacles. Her yellow glow is gone, and her mace hangs limply from her wrist as she stares off blankly into space. Tentacles slide all over her body, finding their way into joints in her armor and causing her to shudder and release a moan of ecstasy as they writhe about her.

Hala cries out suddenly, caught off guard by a pack of tentacles as well. Two of the tentacles wrap their way up Hala’s leg and into her pants, pulling them down and exposing her lewd opening. They begin to explore the inside of her body and she screams, dropping to her knees as her ears go flat and her face becomes slack-jawed.

Despite having tentacles violating Veronica and Hala, there’s still plenty to put Tabitha on the back foot, the Lizardman doing her best to avoid the same fate. As for Blake, he somehow still has his pants on. He parries a pair of tentacles and thrusts, causing a wound in the side of the Monster, which seems to bubble up like when Veronica hit her prey, and a trickle of red mixes in with the black. The creature’s screaming changes pitch as well as it bears down on Blake.

Fuck it, these things need to burn and burn quickly or it’s game over. You prepare to let loose a [Fireball] when you feel something brush against your neck. You look down in horror as an inky black tentacle slips tight around your throat.

Oh fucking hells.

A weak cry of terror leaves your throat before everything goes white.

 

Chapter 96

 

“Let loose your lust, fuck us, let us in, let go, join us, be one, give in, we love you, hold us, fuck us senseless, let it inside you, let us go, join with us, give in, feed us your semen, give us pleasure, give you pleasure, let loose.”

A cascade of sound washes over you like a tidal wave as two voices speak in a disjointed unison, causing your mind to reel backward. A warm sensation rises inside you from your nether regions and flares in your chest as you feel your body react to the greedy lusts of the Swamp Horror.

Yes… yes, let the creature explore you, let it taste your body, join in with it and let your semen explode inside it for eternity. It sounds so good, so wonderful- your whole body aches to have your clothes ripped off and to plunge your manhood inside the darkness of the Monster. Nothing could be more important than to feel its mass squirm about you, bringing you to a slimy and sensual climax. Stupefied, you can only imagine the pleasures that would be felt as you slowly give in to the influence on your mind.

{H…hey…}

Hmm?

{Hey! Hey!}

Huh, that sounds familiar somehow.

{Hey, listen!}

Your consciousness drifts out of the pool of inky darkness as you notice a soft light nearby. Huh, weird. You slowly reach out a hand for it. As the pleasurable blackness tries to pull you back in, a feathery wing takes hold of you. When you feel the softness of these feathers your eyes widen as a beautiful face appears before you, smiling.

“Hello there Wizard.” Harmony, looking just as you’d imagined Harmonius would, says as she stares at the mass of darkness that has encompassed your mind. She raises her other wing and cries,

“I’m the only one allowed in his head you black bog bitch!”

She swings her wing down and, with a gust of wind, the blackness blows off you like dust and your mind feels as if it’s suddenly freed from a terrible weight. Harmony smiles at you again with an all too human face before things go white once more.

You shake your head and find that you’re still in the swamp. Blinking, you look down to find that the tentacle around your neck has gone limp. Gritting your teeth, you throw it off and point your staff at the Monster it belongs to, shouting, “It’ll be a cold day in the hells before I stick my dick in you!”

You cast [Ice].

The creature regards you as she is coated in a layer of ice that quickly thickens, amplified by Harmony. Its movements become sluggish, then stop all together as it becomes a chunk of black ice. External tentacles that resisted being frozen squirm about outside the ice, one of them holding Hala. Tabitha dashes in and quickly severs the appendages holding the Wolf Girl before whirling about and delivering a devastating kick to the creature, fracturing the ice. She flips about again and, with her tail, gives a mighty smash that shatters the ice, spraying chunks of frozen black goo everywhere. As ice rains down around you, you can see an inner core beneath, which is clearly the naked torso and lower body of a human woman.

Tabitha steps back and growls as you twist to the next Monster, the one which has Veronica in a stupor. You repeat the process from the first one and the Aspirant drops to the ground, her breathing labored and her eyes unfocused as she lays on the damp earth.

Turning to the last one, you find that it has embraced Blake, somehow sticking to his shield. The Hero’s face writhes between terror and lust as he struggles with changing emotions while the Swamp Horror slathers onto his face in some sick amalgamation of a kiss. Unable to cast your spell, you run up to the occupied creature and jam Harmony into its side, forcing your will through her.

The Monster stiffens and pulls away from Blake as ice appears all around, climbing up its body and freezing it from the inside out. Tabitha tears back Blake before it can freeze him utterly. Pulling Harmomy out of the Monster’s side, you take her in both hands and beat the ice mercilessly, causing chunks of blackness to slough off until you see the face of a young woman, her eyes unfocused, yet glowing red. Redoubling your efforts, you tear her out of her icy black cocoon while Tabitha does the same to the others, and soon you have three naked woman, lying catatonic on the earth, though their breathing is at least regular.

You stagger back and sit on the ground, staring at your unconscious companions and the women with their strange eyes. Fucking hells, no wonder these things were called Horrors, there was no way in the hells anything could have survived that attack without some serious magic. Looking down at the one Blake had fought, you see a scar where he pierced it with his sword. Apparently these host bodies, or whatever they are, can bleed, so maybe they can be killed? You hesitate to do the deed however, staring at the naked women with trepidation.

Tabitha walks up next to you, wiping ooze from her jacket before readjusting her hat,

“These… creatures. To tell the truth, I wasn’t expecting this at all.” She points at the women and you sigh.

“When one of those things touched my neck it spoke to me. It was like two voices trying to coerce me into letting down my defenses and accepting my basest emotions. I think that’s what happened to Blake, Hala, and Veronica.”

Tabitha shakes her head. “Sometimes, I wonder why Dollora created certain Monsters. I do not deny my heritage from the Goddess of Monsters, but neither do I understand her at times.”

You shrug and look over as one of the women you freed stirs. Standing up, staff in hand, you watch as her eyes seem to come into focus, still glowing a deep red. She looks down at her hands, inspecting them before opening her mouth and uttering in that same, disjointed voice.

Why did you resist? Why would you deny yourself such pleasures?”

“Uh. What the fuck?” You ask, pointing your staff at her.

She makes no move but to trace her hand over her body. “We do not understand. We have such sights to show you, and you deny us. We are reverted to this weak, fleshy body.” She looks up, her eyes locked on you still as they glow red. “Give us your semen so we may return to our proper form. It will be very pleasurable for you.”

Your eye twitches as you notice a small amount of black goo dribble from her mouth while she starts to crawl towards you. It might be sensual if it wasn’t creepy as fuck.

“Uh, yeah no thanks.” You point your staff at her and she stops, staring at it. “What are you?”

“We are Sarah, and we are not Sarah. We are the human who has accepted the power of the Monster and we are the Monster who has granted her uncounted pleasure.”

“W-wait, you’re a Monster that lives inside this girl?”

“We do not live inside, we live with. We are this girl, and we are not this girl.” The eyes flash red. “Give your seed that we may once more become whole again.”

You quickly [Fast Scan] the girl and find it to be true. Her humors all stained black, not in the way of Franz Jakovitch, but as if her humors have been replaced with another living creature. Her body is basically human, and yet… it is not! This isn’t something that could just be removed, no it quite literally is a part of her now, for fuck’s sake.

With a gulp, you raise your staff as you stare at the degloved Horror, more of the blackness leaking from her mouth and ears. It seems that she’s trying to reform the dark outer coating about her, although by the looks of it, it’s going to take some time. As it stands, she and her companions are basically helpless to you. You stare at Harmony, then to Tabitha, who nods grimly, raising her sword. It seems she’s of the opinion to rid yourself of this threat. Considering what they did to your party, it would be wise, but…

Can you just execute them like you did Samantha?

 

Chapter 97

 

“Okay… Okay wait. Answer me a few questions and I’ll- I’ll uh, let you have some of my uh…” You struggle with the words. “Yeah.”

The naked Swamp Horror stares at you, then sinks to its knees, legs splayed out in a very unladylike manner. Her expression is trained intently upon you as she twitches, black drool leaking from her mouth.

Groaning, you do your best not to look at her full exposure. Beyond the red eyes and dribbling black ooze, she’s really pretty. Maybe that’s why you end up stalling for… anything. “Uh… Right. Look, Sarah, was it?”

“We are Sarah, we are not Sarah.”

“How did you end up like this? With this uh…” You wave you hand. “Relationship.”

“Sarah was selected by the spider. We were scared, we did not know better. We were presented to the others, who showed us such sights.”

The girl’s eyes to shimmer for a moment before a black tear rolls down her cheek, although she makes no notice of it before continuing.

“When we had accepted and enjoyed the pleasures, we begged to be joined. We were given to us, and baptized in the dark waters. When we emerged, we were no longer only Sarah. We were whole.”

She shifts towards you and you keep your staff trained on her. “Easy there. We aren’t done.” You point with your free hand at your unconscious companions. “What about them, will they turn?”

“The male and the Monster cannot be joined, but they can experience the pleasure we have to offer. The male would provide us all much pleasure, much energy. It would be very pleasurable.” She considers Veronica. “The woman had fought, but she was submitting. She is viable, but not one. She should be baptized. It will be very pleasurable.”

You breath out a sigh of relief. “So she’s still human?”

“Unfortunately.”

“I see. You said, the spider, who is that?”

“We know not. We were scared, but now we are whole. The spider brought us here however and promised us more humans to show our sights to. She was correct, however we did not expect this. We are cold.”

You grit your teeth. “Where is this spider?”

“She is here. We know not where, yet we know she is here.”

Closing your eyes, you stand up before waving over Tabitha, who walks up beside you. The girl watches you carefully as more goo starts to dribble from around her mouth, sloshing over her naked breasts, and coating them in a thick sludge.

“Wizard?” She asks, leaning in close.

“We can’t let these things live Tabitha, it’s far too dangerous.”

She looks back to the girl and considers. “Are you certain? Shouldn’t we ask Blake?

“I am, and he’s not conscious enough to make this call. I looked inside them and… there’s no helping them. They are Monsters now, there’s no saving them and, if what she says is true, then they’ll keep attacking people and pulling them into the swamp to make more.” You shudder as you speak, the words difficult, but necessary.

“We barely stopped them, how would anyone else?”

Tabitha furrows her brow as you speak but eventually nods her head. The Swamp Horror cocks her head as Tabitha walks forward and, with one quick motion, decapitates the girl.

As the head tumbles from the body, the eyes lose their red hue and a look of confusion crosses her face before the eyes become lifeless. The body twists and flails as black goo squirts from the neck, mixed with red blood. The headless corpse staggers toward you, before falling to the ground and flailing about.

You curse and step back, casting [Fire] and setting the corpse ablaze. Tabitha removes the heads from the other two and you quickly set them alight as well. The Lizardman keeps a grim guard over them until they stop trashing and the fire consumes them utterly.

You put your hand to your head as the bodies burn. Damnit. Damnit damnit damnit! This would have been so much easier if they still looked like Monsters, but this- No, it had to be done. Your mind flashes to the broken form of Samantha, crying as you executed her. Some… sometimes the only option was to kill.

You have to believe that.

Still, you hold your stomach before hobbling over to your other companions. Tabitha looks over the macabre sight and nods. You can still smell the burning flesh and filth as you leave though. It’s sickly-sweet, which makes it all the worse.

You do your best to drown it out as you [Fast Scan] your party members. Hala is in good condition beyond a coating of goo in basically all of her orifices, which is fucking disgusting. You should probably tell Blake not to stick his dick in that for a while. Speaking of which, the man didn’t get violated much, but his humors seem a little out of wack, so you realign them for him and he slips into a calmer sleep.

Two down, one to go. Your scan of Veronica shows that her humors have a taint within them similar to Sarah, but it’s a separate entity that is clearly defined, as if something is trying its best to work its way in. You probe at it with your magic and it reacts, twisting against your touch. Gritting your teeth, you try to [Soothe] it away, but instead it reacts violently and Veronica starts to moan, her breathing becoming shallow and rapid.

Well, fuck this then. If you can’t heal this away, you’re going to break it to your will. Summoning your power, you reach out with your Plagamancy and put a vice grip on the entity. It squirms again, causing Veronica’s eyes to pop open as her back arches. She lets out a cry of ecstasy as you wrench the damn thing free and tear it out, a small cloud of black goo flying from her mouth. It twists and turns before you slam it into an empty vial and seal it with simple binding spell. The bottled [Swamp Essence] struggles for a moment before going still. You feel like it’s looking at you.

With a sigh, you sit down as Veronica slips back into peaceful sleep. Tabitha walks up from behind and crouches down in front of you. Confused, you blink in surprise as she reaches forward and picks up your chin.

“Wizard. You do good work, do not doubt this.”

“Huh? Where’s that coming from?”

“From one warrior to another. Sometimes you have to do what is necessary, but remember why you do it.”

“I’m not really following why you’re saying this.”

“Look…” Tabitha fidgets for a moment before looking to the side.

{Oh for goodness sake.} Sends Harmony, annoyed, {She’s trying to say thank you, Wizard. You need to understand women better.}

{The stick is right, big guy.} Bubs chimes in.

{Oh, and now you’re awake you lazy vermin? You could have helped me during the fight.} Harmony mentally spits in reply.

{Well I’m sorry if my ears were too sensitive to those things screams, okay?}

{Ugh, this is why rats shouldn’t-}

The two argue in your head and you tune it out as you look Tabitha in the eyes and give her a weary smile. “It’s fine Tabitha, I get it.”

Her eyes widen for a moment and she turns to the side, looking back at the smoldering bodies before coughing.

“Yes, of course. Let us gather up our companions and see if we cannot rouse them. We cannot afford to tarry here for long.”

You nod and the two of you gather up the other three into the wagon. As you do so, Hala awakens first. She stretches in the back of the wagon before coughing up a glob of goo, shrugging, and smiling.

“Oh man, I had the best dream. Beyond this voice talking to me about some kinky stuff, it felt super awesome.”

“That wasn’t a dream you bitch, you were actually being raped.” Says Tabitha as she tries to awaken Blake, his head in her lap.

“Oh.” Says Hala as she starts inspecting herself in the most obscene way possible. “Huh. Still nice though.” She looks over at the unconscious Blake and Veronica before huffing.

“At least something finally touched the woman, but I’m mad that they went after my Blake.”

Tabitha’s jaw sets, but before she can say anything, Blake stirs and his eyes flutter open. He looks up into Tabitha’s eyes and smiles weakly.

“Hey there.”

She blinks twice, then slowly moves him off her lap before looking away. “About time you’re awake.”

He groans and sits up. “What happened?”

“Oh, you know, you were almost raped by horrors from the swamp.” You say, shrugging.

Blake puts a hand to his head and sighs. “That explains that dream I guess. What happened to them?”

“I… eliminated them.”

Blake stares at you with surprise before he looks down, crestfallen. “That’s to be expected I suppose. I’ve heard even seasoned Paladins won’t go near them.” He looks over at Veronica and grimaces. “Is she okay?”

You shrug. “She was affected heavily and some of those things were inside her.”

“It felt pretty good to be honest.” Says Hala. No one complains when Tabitha smacks her with her sheath.

“Anyway, I took it out, but I don’t know if it did anything to her.” Everyone goes quiet at this, contemplating your words. Eventually Blake sighs before moving forward on shaky limbs.

“Well… we need to start moving again. Let me get the reins…” He wobbles and you take his hand.

“I’ll drive, okay?”

He stares at your hand, then his, before sighing. “Very well Wizard.” He leans back in the wagon and stares wearily as you climb to the front and up the reins. Mr. Ed stares at you as he chews swamp grass. Seems the big guy is getting real tired of all this nonsense.

He’s not the only one.

 

Chapter 98

 

Rolling your shoulders, you get the horses moving again through the swamp road. Despite the return of the sounds of life in the swamp, you feel uneasy as you move through the dark lands. Blake and Hala fall asleep in each other’s arms while Tabitha keeps an eye on them. Veronica continues to sleep, snoring in a rather undignified way. Not that Hala is any better…

As the day stretches on, you catch brief glimpses of the sun through the canopy of trees, which is the only way you can tell time here. Despite the sun becoming increasingly difficult to see, you can tell that it’s getting dark. Seems that finding a campsite now will be important out here, so you rouse Blake to help with selection. While scanning the area for good site, you notice something odd in the road before you.

“That must be the Danuki’s wagon” says Blake as he points it out. You stop as you get closer to it and Blake hops down to inspect the other wagon. Curious, you follow in turn to see that it has been viciously torn apart. There’s no blood as far as you can see, but there’s also no sign of any cargo.

“This could have been done by Jaga-Jaga…” Murmurs Blake as he turns back to you. “But something seems off about this. People have used this trade route for years and the Jaga-Jaga are generally quite friendly. They rarely attack unless they are hunting for mates but they don’t do this. It’s just strange-“

“Strange? Strange isa you outsiders continuin to bring yo filth inna our swamp!”

You and Blake spin around to see a tall, dark skinned woman with brown-green scaled arms and legs point a spear of bone at you, her scaled and meaty tail slapping the ground angrily. Upon her head like a hat sits the head of a crocodile, its blank eyes staring off into nothingness. She calls, “There a more a dem!”

Soon, ripples appear from the water around you as more of the Jaga-Jaga appear from the murk, quickly surrounding you and forcing both you Blake to go back to back. Hala and Tabitha look out from the wagon, both ready to pounce into combat, but clearly waiting until the situation escalates.

The Monsters make no move to come to you until one last ripple shimmers in the water and the head of an albino crocodile appears. As it reaches the shore, the body of another dark-skinned beauty pulls itself from the water, her scales albino white to match her red eyes. In her hand is a staff carved with runes and festooned with fetishes and jewelry, which she wears herself.

“Well now, whata we havin ourselves here? Mor’a dem humans coma playin in our home bringin in dat filth in ya crates? Oh naw that won’t do at all. I’m afraid this time ya won’t be as lucky as that coon, ya hear?” She brings a vial of white liquid up to her lips before taking a drink and shaking her staff. You can feel magic energy gathering about her as she prepares to cast a spell.

The rest of the crocodile Monsters gather up their spears and halberds and inch closer, ready to close in. The jingling of charms and fetishes reaches a fever pitch and you feel the magic in the air start to roil over you. Blake grits his teeth and grips Lionsedge tight. You see Hala mutter under her breath as she adjusts her claws while Tabitha scans about for the best route of attack.

You, however, plant Harmony firmly into the wet ground and stare up at the sky.

{Wizard?} Asks Harmony, tension in her voice. You just stare into the sky and do the only thing you can in this situation.

Laugh.

You open your mouth and laugh like there’s no fucking tomorrow, which there very well might not be. It’s so fucking ridiculous, how can you not laugh? This situation? Oh come on, it could be seen a mile away! This is just, come on!

As you laugh, head thrown back, Blake stares at you, horrified. “Wizard? Wizard, we need you! Don’t lose it, stand firm!”

He cuts off as he sees a Jaga-Jaga level its spear to charge, but you just stare at the Monster and shake your head.

“Can’t you see that’s what she wants?”

The crocodile Monster blinks and stumbles, her momentum lost.  She looks at you, confusion all over her face. This, in turn, causes others to stop or stumble and they too get confused. You look up at the albino caster and shrug, still laughing.

“Do it, and the Danuki win.”

The magic around her seems to waver, then solidify as she regains control over it. She stares at you, gritting her teeth as she holds the power within her. “Eh naw? Was all dis den eh? You tryin take us for a ride ‘fore ya drop to da Jaga-Jaga? Who you be talkin bout?”

“Haha… the Danuki, of course.”

“I donna see no coon here naw, was dis all bout?”

You roll your shoulders and cross your arms, sighing. “The Danuki, she set this up, obviously. A situation where we’d fight each other and she’d get her precious cargo back, killing three birds with one stone.”

“Wizard, I swear to the Gods…” Hisses Blake, but you don’t even acknowledge him.

“Tell me, great shaman, why are we fighting?”

“Because you an yours a bringin dis filth inna our swamp, ya twit. Da coon brought some with er an now we ain’t takin no chances.”

“Mm, I see, I see. But think for a moment, why would we come through this swamp with more of this cargo if we knew we’d be attacked? It makes no sense. A Danuki would never risk their profits without reason, and there are other trade routes, so why would we be carrying cargo for her?”

The shaman seems to consider. Distantly, you hear Tabitha groaning from the wagon. You choose to think of that as a groan of understanding.

“Yes, think about it. We are all victims here of the Danuki. She told us she was attacked and she looked so pitifully helpless… All a ruse! Her true aim was to have us wipe each other out! With the mighty Jaga-Jaga weakened and us gone, who would know when she rolled in here and claimed the swamp and turned it into some trading outpost?”

You point to Tabitha. “Just like the Danuki did to Blackfire Reach!” You point to Blake, “And just like the Danuki did to the reputation of the Order!”

“Uh, the Danuki didn’t-” Mumbles Blake, but you talk over him.

“Look upon us and see the damage such desires can bring!” You shout, conspiracy levels reaching critical mass as you raise your arms into the sky.

“The Wolf! Look upon the Wolf! She too had her home raped and abused by the whims of the powerful! And look at her now! What a pitiful sight!”

“Hey, fuck you!” Shouts Hala, fuming.

You wheel back upon the shaman. “Good, I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your magic. Strike me down with all your hatred and your journey into the Danuki’s paws will be complete.”

The shaman grits her uneven teeth as she considers. The rest of the Jaga-Jaga mill about, looking between each other nervously as they consider what they have been told.

You just keep staring at the shaman, who looks about nervously, and you feel her magic start to waver and she staggers, losing control of it. With a cry of frustration, she points to you, then shakes and yells, tossing the magic into the swamp. It causes an explosion of dirty water and swamp critters, leaving the shaman panting, each breath causing the charms and bones on her breasts to clack and shudder.

“Ya betta not be shakin ma leg ya hear? I ain’t be thinkin I be nice twice.”

You bow to her and take up Harmony again, who is fuming in your head. She’ll get over it.

“You are quite wise. If you would wish to inspect our cart you may. You will find none of this… filth, was it?” Well, unless she looks in your [Sack of Holding +1], but you doubt she’s talking about actual feces.

She nods and points to the wagon. Two Jaga-Jaga move in and inspect the cargo before shaking their head to the shaman, who sighs.

“Looksa like you weren’t yankin me. I gunna have to express ma sorrow at ma mistake, ya hear?”

You nod to her. “Indeed. All we wish is to pass quietly through the swamp to Cair.” You rub your cheek. “However, I will admit, I am curious as to what the Danuki was carrying.”

The shaman considers and then shrugs, “We no destroy it yet ya see, but we gunna do so soon. You can see it afore we let you go, eh?” She waves her arm and one of the warriors jumps into the swamp to fetch something.

You stretch and look to Blake, his eye is twitching. “You’re kidding me.”

“The Danuki are a true, and realistic threat to this world.”

“How in the name of the Gods did you give a speech that diffused a potentially deadly situation without fumbling or dropping your words?”

“Sauce covered noodles, my dear normie, but it is merely because I feel so strongly about this.”

He puts his hand to his face and turns about, taking a deep breath before breathing out. “Okay, sure, fine.” Sighing, he looks about. “I think I’m going to go and speak with the Jaga-Jaga, maybe see what they know about the Swamp Horrors.”

You put a hand to your mouth and chuckle, “Oh but Blakey-poo, your dear wolfy is watching.”

He looks at you over his shoulder, utterly devoid of emotion, and your spine shivers before he turns back around and speaks with a nearby pack of Jaga-Jaga, who immediately start checking him out. They can’t really help it you guess, the man might as well have “good breeding stock” written on his armor.

“Big mista man needs be careful der eh? Not many men coma down this way.”

You turn about to find the shaman standing next to you, smiling as she leans on her staff. Now that she’s close, you can’t help but admire her uh… assets as they rise and fall, barely covered by thin layers of dirty cloth. Ahem.

“Oh, he’ll be fine. That Wolf Girl will probably keep him in line at least.”

“An whatabout you mista? You got onadem ladies keepin you meat warm?”

You blink at her, trying to comprehend… Ohhhh, she means your penis in their vagina! Clever!

“Oh! Oh no, I uh, not one of them but uh-” You fumble for a moment, realizing what you were about to say. Dear Gods were you about to say something about Selene? You do wonder what she’s up to though…

“Oh I seein, I seein.” She presses in a little close, patting your groin, which may be a little hard, and winks, “You let me know ifin you wan a little rollin and tumblin, ya hear what I say? Madam Rapodaie gun give you a good time ya hear?”

“Uh, sure, yeah, okay.” You cough into your hand and pull away. “Hey uh, Rapodaie huh? Do you know another Jaga-Jaga named Madam Apolline?”

Her eyes shine as she smiles a jagged toothed grin. “Well naw! Lookin like ya met ma bigga sista eh? How she been since she move to da cita eh?”

“Good! Good, she’s uh… Good.” You lift up your [Sack of Holding+1]. “I bought some things from her, good selection.”

Rapodaie holds her head back and laughs a snaggle toothed laugh before she slaps your shoulder, which hurts like the hells despite your enchantments. “Well thassa be everytin den! Gooda on her. Still mad she left da swamp but I glad to hear she doin good.”

She blinks as she spots something and then stands straight. You turn to see the warrior from before lugging a crate in both hands, and you both walk over as she sets if down. Rapodaie grits her teeth before nodding to you and opening up the crate with little effort. Inside sits multiple vials of a green liquid packed in straw. You blink and cautiously go to pick one up when Rapodaie slaps your hand.

“Aww now, I wouldn be sayin I gon let you be touchin dis eh? You get look before I dispose of naw.”

You nod and open your [Mage Sight]. The bottle bursts alive in a plethora of colors which are all green, brown, and black. Just looking at it makes your stomach roil and you quickly see that this is an alchemically prepared formulae.

It also reacts strongly to Plagamancy.

You turn your head as you shut off your [Mage sight]. Ugh, that… whatever is in those bottles is pure filth. The only thing you can think of which would be that nasty would be a plague, but what would a Danuki be doing with this?

You turn to ask the shaman about this when another warrior swims up in a hurry. They burst forth from the murk and speak to Rapodaie, panting. “Madam! Onea de prisoners is gone and so is da contents of a crate naw.”

Rapodaie’s eyes widen. “Wassa dis? Why he no be guarded?”

“He wassa, but when I check, there be nothin but spida webs and a dead guard.”

You and Blake look between yourselves, eyes wide. Oh shit.

“Eh? Wassa dis, whatchu be know der?” Rapodaie asks, noticing your expression.

“I think…” You say, gritting your teeth, “I think I know who hired our little Danuki problem.”

 

Chapter 99

 

You tell Rapodaie about Victoria, the Danuki, and what you saw when you looked at the vial. You make it clear that you’d have to study it to fully appreciate what’s in there though, and if she tries to destroy it without proper containment, things could get really bad. She frowns and crosses her arms under her breasts as she considers.

“I thought I be sensing da bad juju from these tings, but thisa more than I bargain for. Temple Guardian? Sheet, we Jaga-Jaga went south to get away from da Monsta Ladies and naw dey in our swamp? Oh naw naw naw.”

She looks to her warriors and nods her head, pointing in various directions with her staff. Teams of Jaga-Jaga jump into the swamp, soon disappearing under the murk. You watch as they go and look to Blake, who nods back.

“Madam, please allow us to be of assistance in this matter.” Asks Blake as he puts a hand to his chest.

The shaman looks over at Blake and raises an eyebrow. “Eh? Thisa thing for da Jaga-Jaga, we dunna need outsidas helpin here eh?”

“Perhaps, but if this event involves a Temple Guardian, then I must insist we help you track her down. I am also quite keen on stopping her from leaving with these… solutions.”

She sighs, “Oh very well, very well. Wassa you want?”

Blake looks to you and you sigh, holding Harmony close. Honestly, you just want out of this damn swamp, but this stuff is disgusting. It’s likely to kill a LOT of people if you don’t do something about it, and even if you don’t give a shit about most of them, there are a few you’ve come to know which are okay. Besides, you really don’t want to contract whatever this is either.

Guess that mean’s you’re going to fight a Temple Guardian in a swamp. Lovely.

Sighing, you rub at your forehead and think. “Alright well, let us examine the scene where the prisoner escaped and the body of the guard. Our little doggie-“

“Fuck you again Wizard!” Hala shouts, her keen ears picking up your voice.

“Will pick up the scent and follow it while we study the rest and continue after her.”

Rapodaie rubs her chin. “Thassa might work. Aight aight lessa go den.” She starts running down a muddy trail while both you and Blake trade glances.

“Wagon won’t fit down there. Someone has to stay to watch Veronica.”

“I’ll do it,” says Blake as he rolls his shoulders. “Take Tabitha and Hala, but be careful. I’ll drive this down the road some and keep my eyes open.”

“Fair enough.” You look back to the wagon. “Come on girls, field trip time!”

“Fucking magic piece of shit and his… robes…” Grumbles Hala as she vaults from the wagon. She meanders over to you, stopping along the way to grab Blake behind his head and pull him down for a long, sloppy kiss. You feel awkward watching and even Blake seems confused at first before reciprocating enough to have Hala let him go.

He pants, a little out of breath, “Some… ha… Some warning next time would be appreciated.”

She winks at him, slaps his ass and then heads over to you. Tabitha merely jogs calmly to your side and the three of you join Madam Rapodaie as she heads down the muddy side trails.

It isn’t that far of a journey into dense, insect infested swampland until you find a series of wooden structures in the water, suspended on stilts and connected with a series of boardwalks. Crude candles burn at intervals, atop what looks to be monster skulls, along with other various bones. It sends a mild shiver down your spine seeing this aesthetic again. You have to admit though, Madame Apolline did a great job capturing the feel of this place back in Feldergrod.

Rapodaie leads you to a larger structure which appears relatively unadorned. As you enter however, you see a series of doors with wooden bars inscribed with glowing runes. By the looks of it, this must be some kind of prison?

While most of the cells are empty, two doors with faded enchantments hang open. Looking about, you can also see what they were talking about with the webs. In the corners and atop the ceiling, many large, sticky webs are stretched about the place, as if some giant spider had claimed it as its nest. To be fair, as far as you understand Victoria, she IS a giant spider, so this isn’t that far from the truth.

In the corner lays a Jaga-Jaga corpse with a ragged shroud atop it that doesn’t cover the full body. You look in surprise as you see massive necrosis in the exposed areas, which still seems to be spreading. Is this from an envenomation?

As you move to study the body closer, you notice two Jaga-Jaga fussing over something. Turning to watch, you find them tearing open a large sac of webbing and pulling out a man who seems half crazed, crying as they free him.

“Oh, oh Gods, oh Gods, oh Gods.” The man keeps repeating as they haul him out and sit him down.

You walk up to him and crouch down. His eyes snap to you and he takes in a sharp breath. “A-another human? Here? No, no you shouldn’t be here!”

You slap the man. “Calm down faggot. Tell me what happened.”

He blinks and puts a hand to his cheek, surprised. “I uh… I don’t…” He takes in a deep breath. “Look, I was just hired by this Danuki to help transport some crates to Cair, alright? I didn’t know what was in them.” He points his finger at the Jaga-Jaga. “Then these Monsters came and attacked us on the road and threw us in those cells!” He looks down, eyes pained as his voice becomes quiet.

“They… they raped us.”

One of the guards shrugs. “He wassa okay lay.” The other guard nods in confirmation.

“Yeah well, maybe that’s what you get for trusting a Danuki.” You say, feeling no remorse. “Now then, what about the spider?”

“Th-the spider. Sh- Look, we were just resting in our cells, waiting for our next uh, “session,” after one of the guards left with a crate when all of a sudden we saw her. She Just drifted down the ceiling on a strand of silk and put a finger to her lips before crawling to the guard and biting her in the neck. The guard just dropped to the floor, dead. After that the spider she… she uh…” He gulps. “She took some key charm and opened the door, grabbing a crate. Before she left though, she opened our cage and took Chuck, ‘for later’ before wrapping me up in this cocoon.”

He shudders, “She ah… she said that I should ah… should let them know that she’ll be back to settle the score with these uhm…” He looks at his captors and blanches. “Fine ladies”

“Wha she really say?” Asks Rapodaie.

“Ah ha, uh, ‘Cold vagina scale whores.'”

“Ey naw!” Shouts one of the guards. “Our vag ain’t cold, id it?”

“NO MA’AM!” He shouts back, clearly afraid. She just ruffles his hair, smiling. Well, you’re pretty this guy just found his wife.

You look about and nod to Hala. “Can you get a scent?”

The Wolf Girl mutters about not being some common mutt, but still sniffs the air before pointing to the north west. “Yeah I think I can follow it, sort of. A little hard in the swamp, but we’ll see.”

“Good. Tabitha, go with her and take some Jaga-Jaga. If you see Victoria, be very, very careful. Looks like she’s as dangerous as can be.”

The Lizardman nods and pushes on the Wolf Girl’s shoulder, gesturing for the two to head outside. You think for a moment after they leave and pull Bubs out of your pocket.

{Hey hey hey Big Guy! What gives?}

{Go with them and report if you see anything. I-}

{Ufufufufufu, so the big guy doesn’t want to see his lady friends get hurt by the big bad spider huh? Aww, that’s cute.}

{You know, let’s see if that exploding thing is real, shall we?}

{Yeesh.} Bubs sends as he jumps from your hand and scurries up Hala’s shoulder. This causes the Wolf Girl to yelp and glare at you, but you just smile and wave. She grumbles and runs off into the swamp, Tabitha and two Jaga-Jaga trailing after her.

“Hmm.” You turn about to look at the corpse of the guard from before. By the Gods, was the necrosis even worse? You begin to walk over to her when Rapodaie grabs your arm.

“Wassa you up to now? We dun take kindly to thosa who meddle with our dead, hear?”

You blink and look back over at the corpse. “I was just going to check her for whatever Victoria did. I’m thinking it was venom, but…”

Rapodaie looks at the corpse and grimaces. “Very well, but you donta be messin with tings eh?”

You nod and kneel down to remove the sheet. Your stomach turns a little at what you see.

Starting at her neck you can see a concentric area of necrosis spreading from the initial site. Blackened flesh left a large, deep hole in her neck where it exposed the bone. This is much faster than it should be, and it terrifies you to know that Victoria’s bite is that potent. You’re quite aware that Monsters are much stronger than humans in just about every capacity, but they usually aren’t this dangerous. How in the hells does she give a blowjob-

Damnit, stray thoughts. Anyway, death was probably swift but very, very painful. There really isn’t much to glean from a quick [Fast Scan] otherwise so you sigh, rubbing at your head as you look back up at Rapodaie. “It’s a mess, and she might continue to decompose quickly but… At least it was fairly quick.”

Best to leave out the painful part.

Rapodaie nods and grits her teeth before slamming her staff on the floor, causing the charms to jingle and clatter. She utters no words but you can feel her fury warp the air around her as she struggles to keep her magic in check. You sort of, kind of, do that thing where you put your hand on her shoulder. It disgusts you how natural this is beginning to feel.

“Look, uh, it’s going to be fine. We’ll find her and, well, we’ll find her.”

The Jaga-Jaga blinks in surprise before a snaggle-toothed grin splits her face. She chuckles and quickly wraps you in a tight hug, crushing your chest and causing you to gasp for breath as she squeezes you into her strong, muscular body. You do your best to try and push her away, but it’s futile. You just sort of sag and accept it. Right before you think your ribs will collapse, she lets go and you stagger backward, only able to stand up due to the balance gained by planting Harmony firmly down. (Though she doesn’t take kindly to being used as a stick again).

“Hahaha, I tinkin I needin tha eh? Eh, you be fine missa Wizard, you be fine.”

“Guh… Y-yeah.” You take a few moments to catch your breath and get the pain out of your chest. When you look back at her she nods, smiling her toothy smile at you. “Maybe next time, a little less death hug, huh?”

Rubbing at your back, you look over to the room the crates were being stored. “I do wish I knew what she was doing with that concoction though. I’m afraid if she manages to unleash it, we might end up being in trouble without studying it. Having a sample on hand would be good as well.”

Rapodaie considers you sadly before looking at the room. She shakes her head. “Is bad juju. Very bad juju, I donna think I have da powa to contain it ifin it open.”

You puff out your chest and thump it with your fist. “Well, I just so happen to be a master of Plagamancy. I’m sure working together we could contain and eliminate if while the other chase down Victoria.”

{Liar. Big, fat, liar.} Sends Harmony. You just uh, ignore her. Yes. She doesn’t enjoy that and starts mumbling in your head about you being a phony.

Rapodaie thinks about it for a moment. Her eyes suddenly widen and another grin “Mm… I tinkin by yo aura dis be true eh? But…” She opens a pouch and shows it you, the various little slots for vials empty.

“I be outta de juju juice eh? I be needin more ifin I gunna let you do dis ting eh?” She looks back to you, eyebrow raised as she waits for some kind of answer.

Harmony escalates from mumbling to yelling in your head.

 

Chapter 100

 

“Uh, ha ha… What?”

You stare at Rapodaie as she shifts her weight onto her other leg, hips rising in sync. Harmony is blathering in your head but you just can’t seem to focus on the words because you’re taken aback by the sudden request for your sticky white goo.

“Well? Wassa you waitin fo?” Asks the Jaga-Jaga, a wide, toothy grin splits her face. “Oh I seein, you wan a little help there eh?”

You hold your hands up and take a step back. “Oh, uh, no, no thank you, I have this ah… under control.”

She chuckles and crosses her arms under the breasts. “Oh izzat so? Well well well, you bes get started, we ain’t got all day missa.”

“Uhm.” You say, scratching at the back of your head. “I have some mana potions, will that wor-?”

“Naw it will not. Thissa be strong magic here naw, we needin dat fresh stuff, ya hear?”

“Right… Right I’ll just…” You start fumbling at your belt before you look up at Rapodaie and the guards still in the room. All of them are looking at your pants with predatory stares, making you start to sweat a little. By the Gods, if you dropped trout here then you might as well just be asking to be raped, even by these relatively civil looking savages.

You slowly take your hand off your belt and lick your lips. “I’ll just go over somewhere, ah, private.”

Rapodaie seems somewhat disheartened and the guards mutter between themselves angrily as you declare this. Didn’t their friend just die? Shouldn’t they feel some kind of shame? The shaman sighs and picks up a bucket, tossing it at your feet. You stoop down and pick it up, staring at the wooden pail. It is… quite large. You raise an eyebrow and Rapodaie shrugs.

“I expectin good tings eh?”

Whimpering, you take the bucket into a side room in the structure, one that is fully enclosed, and you sigh, leaning against the closed door.

{HEY LISTEN GODS DAMNIT!}

You jump, startled by the noise in the head. With surprise, you look about before you remember that the voice belongs to Harmony, who has been trying to get your attention all this time.

{Uhm. Hey.}

{Oh don’t you just ‘hey’ me mister!} She spits, clearly fuming. If… staves could… fume… This is still very strange to you.

{Sorry, sorry! I was just kind of… taken aback you know?}

{Oh I know all about it. Ugh, you aren’t going to do it, are you?}

You scratch your chin and look away, not that it matters since she’s in your head. {Well, I mean… I mean! Yeah? I guess what choice do I have? We need the sample and killing her isn’t a good option.}

She mentally huffs. {That’s so dangerous! What if you lose some of your powers! What if they smell your spunk and suddenly jump you for more?}

{Did you just say spunk?}

{Maybe. Look, there’s tons of things you can do with someone’s semen if you’re a Monster witch and none of them are all that good!}

{Like… using as mana?}

{Like, tracking you wherever you go, finding your magical signatures, etc etc.} She mumbles off as she says this last part.

You furrow your brow as she mumbles. You haven’t known her that long, but this isn’t like Harmony.

{Harmony, what’s the real reason?}

She pauses before answering. {I don’t know what you’re talking about.}

{You’re the imprint of Thunderbird powering a magical staff, what in the world could you possibly be upset about?}

She seems to mentally fidget as she something mumbles in your head.

{I don’t want you to…}

{Speak up.}

{I don’t want you to, okay!}

You both go silent after this, making things awkward. You aren’t uh, aren’t certain what to say to that. What is going on through this staff’s wooden head?

{I’m sorry…} Harmony sends a moment after this thought of yours. Right, right she’s in your head. Then that means she should know-

{Ugh, yes… I… Just do it if it’s so important to you.}

You sigh and place Harmony over in the corner and you shake your head. {We need that vial, and if all it takes is a little jizz then… well then I guess I’ll give it a yank.}

She goes silent as you turn about and undo your pants, revealing your member, which is flaccid and uninterested in your wishes. You take in a deep breath and retreat within yourself, focusing on the task at hand. Slowly, you come to attention and begin to process of release that you had performed so many times before when alone on the Communion Matrix. This is a perfectly legitimate form of meditation for a Wizard and you don’t question it as it helps clear your mind from unwanted thoughts. It’s more difficult than back at home, as the pressure bears down. You don’t really feel like it, especially since you know this is going to be consumed. It just feels wrong somehow.

You huff, exasperated as you stroke with no real success until loud banging on the other side of the door causes you to jump.

“Ey der mista magic man, wha you doin in der? Sound like you ain’t jackin it! Ifin you dun hurry up in der I gunna have to come in an get it meself eh?”

“I’m fine! Just a minute! Don’t come in or I’ll blast you!” You shout and return to concentrating as she laughs. Shit, shit, shit, she probably would come in and just straight up ignore your magic in her cock lust. You didn’t want to find out if that’s the case.

Okay, back to it then. You need to picture something good, something that makes you happy like… like Selene’s fluffy tails! Yeah, that’ll work! You imagine her tails which are so soft and delicate, making your whole body feel warm and comfy.

Your hand starts to stoke slowly as you delve further into this thought.

Imagine just being wrapped in those tails again while you rub her soft hair, your hand going through her locks with no resistance as its sheen glints in the reflection of the firelight. You can feel as she places her warm hand on yours, squeezing it gently while one of her tails slowly traces down your arm, another caressing your cheek.

You take in a deep, shuddering breath as she smiles and kisses your hand, the light touch of her lips on your skin sending shivers up your spine. The weight of the world starts to melt off your shoulders as you bask in the warmth pervading you, and you feel another fluffy tail begin to travel across your chest and down your robes where it caresses the interior of your thighs.

In reality your strokes increase in intensity as the scene continues to play out.

You gasp as the tail slides along your thigh and gently wraps around your stiff, thick manhood, and begins to apply pressure through your pants. You keep playing with her hair, a little more forcefully and she mewls softly at the tension.

Her free hand rests upon your other leg and she starts rubbing it slowly as she guides your hand to her shoulder, allowing the smoothness of her skin to tingle your fingertips. She sighs and nuzzles her head into your hand, stroking her hair and ears, and she lets out a low purr before smiling at you mischievously.

The pressure on your cock increases and you shiver again as deeper sensation leaks through your clothing and into your erect flesh. At the same time, she directs your hand down toward her chest, your fingers resting upon a soft mound of flesh. She squeezes your hand on her breast and lets out a low moan before increasing the intensity. The smooth, fatty orb feels like a piece of heaven in your hand. Before you know it, she lets go of your hand andm without being bidden, you explore her breast, gliding under, over and around her. Your fingers stop upon her erect nipple and you unconsciously pinch it, causing her to gasp in surprise and look at you, whispering, “Ara Ara…”

In retaliation, she squeezes your cock, and you grunt as a wave of pleasure washes through you. She continues this intense pressure as you tease her back, scratching at the back of her ears and fondling her breast with your other hand. She starts to squirm as you do the same, feeling yourself pulse in her grip. As you feel a familiar sensation wash up through you, the pressure on your member vanishes. You gasp, looking down at Selene as she smiles wickedly before flipping around, placing her face before your penis.

You can see her bare chest hanging in front of you as she gently reveals your girth to the sky and takes you in one of her soft hands. She breathes gently on the head, and you twitch violently at the pulse of warm air. Slowly, she pushes back one strand of hair in front of her face behind her ear and looks up at you, a gentle blush on her face before she opens her mouth and lowers it to cover your-

You feel a powerful sensation take hold of you and a massive feeling of release pulses out, shocking you back into reality as cum fires like from you in jets, smattering the bucket before you in strings of white. You fire out more than you could believe possible forcing you to grab the bucket when you come fully to your senses and direct the stream into it. By the time you’re finished, there’s about a two inch deep pool of your hot, steamy jizz in the wooden pail.

With shaking hands, you set down the bucket and fumble at your pants, trying to stuff your manhood back into hiding. It resists, as if it were a prisoner being freed from isolation, and stands firm, waiting to be taken again

This doesn’t sit well with you, but you’re so full of conflicted emotions that you can’t figure things out enough to bother finishing the task. You just… just masturbated to… and such a vivid dream that felt so…

Sinking down against a wall, you put your face in your hands. This is so very wrong. You’ve masturbated so many times before but it was never like this. It was never as good as this either, and it disturbs you. Is it because of your repression for so long on this journey or was it because of your… source material?

You don’t want to dwell on his fact as you glare down at your rebellious penis, which throbs gently, as if to mock you. Rarely have you had it stay hard for multiple sessions, not that you needed it to, so you aren’t quite certain how to resolve your current situation. You could probably rub out another one, but your head is in such a tizzy that you’re utterly afraid to do so. Gods, what if you thought about Selene again?

Another knock sounds at the door. “Imma comin on in ifin you ain’t done missa.”

You look at the bucket and panic, scooping it up before waddling with your pants around your legs to the door. You open it up a crack and peek out, handing over the bucket.

“H-here you go! Freshly uh… squeezed.”

She looks at you flatly, then raises an eyebrow at the bucket. “Little sloppy der but is good amount eh? Mussa been thinkin bout someone mighty fine, eh? Or was it jus little ol’ me?”

“Aha… Uh, no. Anyway I just need a moment here-“

“Oh? You needin help cleanin up der? I won be opposed-“

“NO THANK YOU!” You slam the door in her face as she breaks out into laughter. Heart pounding against your chest, you realize your boner is still going strong. You think about some disgusting things to try and make it go away, and it helps, at least enough where you can shove your pants back on and hide it with your robes. Grumbling, you grab Harmony before going back to the door.

{…Pervert.}

You pause and look at the staff. {What was that?}

{Never mind…}

She’s clearly upset, but… you’ll have to deal with that later. As you open the door again you see Rapodaie filling vials up with your semen. She licks a stray strand off one of them, causing her to shiver and shake.

“Mmm mmm mmmm mmmm MMM! Tha is prime right there missa, you better watch yoself or I swear you, otha Monstas gunna eat you right up.” She smiles wickedly before slurping down another morsel.

Some men would find this very attractive. You, instead, find it very disturbing, and you kind of wish you followed Harmony’s warning.

As she finishes filling the vials, she takes in a deep breath and nods to one of the guards who fetches a crate from the storeroom, her expression upset. Curious, you look over to see the other guard currently giving the poor prisoner a blowjob, apparently unable to take the smell of semen in the air without doing something about it. No wonder the other guard upset, but at least the man looks alright, even though his expressions transition from terror to ecstasy.

The guard places the crate in front of you and then delicately takes out one vial before setting it on the floor. You nod to Rapodaie and draw a circle with your [Wizard’s Chalk], then reinforce it with multiple anchor points. The shaman watches you intently and nods as you channel power into the circle. She affixes a few charms of her own to the outside and you can feel a deep magic pervade the area, synergizing with your circle. With a slow breath, you nod to her and she holds out a scaled hand which you take hesitantly.

She nods resolutely and then slams her staff on the ground, channeling magic as you gather your will. You open your [Mage Sight] and see the same visions you did beforehand. Vile, sick stuff, but not as bad now that you’ve seen it before. You and Rapodaie channel magic into the circle and the vial breaks apart, releasing a contained cloud of vapors that swirls within the magical cage.

“What do you see, Rapodaie?”

“Hrm… Issa strange. Is like a Monsta in a way, the magic signitua, but is not quite that. Is like… Is like it some kinda Monsta plague? Thassa makin any sense?”

You scratch your head. “Not really, no.”

She points, manipulating some magics and you see with your sight subtle changes appear. You can tell where this might end up attacking the humors but what exactly would it-?

You feel a shift in the miasma as you probe it with your Plagamancy and you reel back as it reacts forcefully. You look at Rapodaie, face going pale. “Is… is this alive?”

“I thinka so. I thinka this not jusa plague, but the plague issa Monsta livin an a breathin.”

You inhale sharply. “Victoria’s going to release this in Cair, and when it reaches the people there…”

“Issa probably gunna kill mossa dem, but othas, the ones dat live? They may not be human no mo. The women anyways, I no know wassa happen to da mens.”

She breaths out, a dark look on her face.

“But issa no be nutin good.”

 

Chapter 101

 

You stare at the vile concoction and take in a deep breath. This is far worse than you could have anticipated. If she manages to get even single vial of this out there, there could be thousands of people killed, or worse. This is way more insidious than Tolosh’s plan, and far more short sighted. Victoria is truly a monster among Monsters, and if the Lady herself is worse…

{Big guy.} you hear faintly in your head from Bubs {Big guy, I think… I think we may be close to her. Something’s not right out here though, there’s all these faces in the trees but…I dunno, the wolf says she smells her, but we don’t see anything. I think we might need some help.}

You look to Rapodaie. “They found her. Let’s get rid of this.”

“You still wan keep some? Deal is a deal but…” She says, hesitating.

You lean back and take a deep breath, looking at the ceiling. For fucks sake this is not something you want to deal with right now, but by the Gods you’re going to have to deal with it. You bet Jackor is behind this. Is this divine punishment for not pranking Hala back yet?

{Alright, don’t engage until I get there.} You send to Bubs. {I’d like if Blake could be here, maybe one of the Jaga-Jaga can fetch him.}

Bubs thinks back quickly, {Yeah okay, but what am I supposed to do to get these two to stop? Because I’ve been nibbling on the wolf’s ears for fun and she doesn’t respond anymore. Kind of boring.}

You internally sigh, {Look just cause a ruckus, draw something in the dirt, whatever.}

{I’m not really sure what I’d draw there big guy-}

{You know what? I’m assuming direct control.}

{H-hey wait!} Bubs shouts before you connect with him and see through his eyes.

Once again, it’s a disorienting process at first. Tabitha looks over at Bubs, concerned. You have the rat shake his head, which concerns the Lizardman even more. Rolling his rat eyes, you have him stare at a nearby tree and, with precise casting of [Fireball], you burn the words, “Wait for the Wizard.”

By about the point of “the” Bub’s eyes are watering, but you finish it anyway. Tabitha nods her head at the message, understanding it. It occurs to you that she may not have known how to read, but it seems like you got lucky. The next message would have probably been an intricate picture of an angry spider but you didn’t think Bubs would appreciate that.

Pulling back to your own body, you shake your head and look at Rapodaie before sighing out, “Alright, we’re ready to hunt her down and… I guess I should take a vial. If this gets loose, then we’ll need something to analyze to try and stop it.”

She nods. “Deal made, deal kept missa man.” She motions to the circle. “An da rest of it?”

“We torch it thoroughly. No traces left.”

“I wouldn have it any otha way.”

You both concentrate your magic on the plague in the circle and it reacts violently before succumbing to your arcane might and seeming to just… stop, as if it died or something. Which would fit with what Rapodaie said earlier, though that disturbs you. Where did something like this even come from?

You direct the Jaga-Jaga guard to fetch Blake from down the road and see if he can group with the rest of the party before you and Rapodaie go and destroy the rest of the vials. During the process Bubs keeps you updated, though he grows increasingly nervous. Hala is on edge, like an animal in a cage, and Bubs has the sneaking suspicion that Victoria is up to something, but you can’t figure out what.

You speed up the process of destroying vials accordingly.

When you come to the last vial, Rapodaie hands it to you. Carefully, you seal the [Monster Plague] and put it into your [Sack of Holding +1]. You sigh in relief when it’s all taken care of, and the shaman puts a hand on your back.

“Is all good missa man. We gun go out der an exterminate eh?”

You roll your eyes. “Oh like it’s that easy.” Your gaze stops on the body of the dead guard for a moment and you mull something over.

“Actually, we might be able to make this a little easier. I know you won’t like what I’m going to ask but… I need some of the venom.”

Rapodaie traces your eyes to the corpse and then stiffens. “Ey der missa man, is bad juju to go rootin in da bodies of de Jaga-Jaga.” She shakes her head. “I canno do dat.”

You frown. “Look, I understand it’s part of your culture but this could keep us alive.”

She narrows her eyes, “I be understandin, but you need to be understandin too. We don do dis ting. We consign the bodies to da swamp, to defile dem is…” She shakes her head.

“I can’t force you to do anything. I’ve already asked you too much as it is, but damnit, do you want her to get out with that plague?” You stare intently at Rapodaie whose lip curls up as she looks to the side. You press your advantage. “That’s going to be some seriously bad juju there. And those Horrors you saw before? They’ll be back if she escapes.” You point to the corpse, “Just a little bit of venom is all I need and we can stop her, here and now.”

Rapodaie growls and closes her eyes. She stays this way for a few moments before pointing to the corpse, not opening her eyes. She hisses through her teeth, “Do it quickly missa man. Before I dun change my mindin.”

You nod and remove from your bag something you didn’t think you’d have a chance to use: the [Hakurai Homing Needles]. Gently, you coax some of the venom, which is still eating away flesh, into your needles and the rest into a vial. As you stow the [Arachne venom away], you feel the needles hum gently as they react to a biological signature. These better work the way they’re advertised.

Setting them back in your pouch, you take a deep breath and sigh out, “Alright. Let’s do this.”

Rapodaie opens her eyes and nods at you before following you out. As you cross the threshold, the prisoner yells, “H-hey! What about me?!”

You look back at him, then the guard covered in his spunk, who looks at you with pleading eyes. You sigh and shake your head, “Such is the price of working with Danuki. I’m sure you’ll be happy together though.”

Turning back around, you leave the building as you hear terrified squealing followed by deep chuckles from the guard. It disturbs you that you consigned this man to such a fate, but you had more important things to do than get in the middle of a relationship. Like squash a spider. With magic.

Rapodaie picks up two more guards and you quickly move through the swamp as the natives lead you along hidden paths. Bubs informs you that Blake has met up with the rest of the group and that a Jaga-Jaga is guarding the cart and the unconscious Veronica. This is great news, especially since Bubs believed that Victoria is still present.

In actuality, this not great news, because why would she still be there? There is plenty of opportunity to run away, so why stay around? This is feeling all sorts of wrong, and as you slog through the murk you begin to feel very, very nervous.

You pass into a section of swamp which is thick with vegetation, blocking out most of the light. The trees here begin to have strange, twisting shapes to their bark, some looking almost like faces. This must be the dark section of forest that Bubs mentioned before, and the Temple Guardian could be anywhere…

“Rapodaie, do you feel anything?” You ask after carefully doing a sweep with your [Mage Sight].

She sniffs the air and then jingles her staff. “Mmm not a ting missa man.” She looks at the guard with her. “Anyting?”

The guard shakes her head, “Naw, nutin Madam.” She sweeps around again as you keep walking. Something feels weird though, like… you don’t know, something is missing? It’s strange.

A few moments later it hits you and you wheel around at the guard before cursing. “Rapodaie, where is the other guard?”

The two Jaga-Jaga look at each other before becoming extremely cautious, searching every which way. You curse again and flip about, almost shitting yourself when you come face to face with the corpse of the guard, freshly killed and hanging from a net of spider silk, a look of surprise on the Monster’s necrotizing face.

 

Chapter 102

 

“Fuck me, she’s here!” You shout, holding up your staff.

You step backwards towards Rapodaie and listen carefully. A slight rustling in the trees comes and you slowly take the [Hakurai Homing Needles] into your hand. As you ready them to throw, you hear a sickeningly sweet voice start to recite from all around you,

“Darling Hunter, I hope this letter finds you well, because I am coming for you. The whore and the stalker are the sun and moon but I have only eyes for the stars. I am caught in the waves without a paddle, but as the world turns I seek dry land. The land is changing and the mountains will crumble, but know this, my eyes are on the prize and if deer still run in the woods, then magic still remains.”

Your heart starts to beat faster and your hands grow sweaty. Oh hells, that was the letter you sent to Selene. The only way someone would have that is if-

Another creaking noise sounds and you spin around to see another body fall from the trees, suspended by more webs. You start to breathe heavily as you realize it’s the Dark Elf you freed, her eyes blank and dead, staring at you in what feels like accusation. On her chest painted in blood are the words, “The price of failure.”

You grip Harmony tight to your chest. “She’s here!” You hiss at Rapodaie, who slowly brings a vial of your semen to her lips, looking about cautiously. Your hands start to sweat even more as the heat of the swamp mixes with your anxiety. At least you aren’t that other guard who starts to hyperventilate as she grips her halberd.

“I be knowin. Wha was dat before?” The shaman asks as a faint glow of magic appears around her.

“Don’t worry about it right now.”

“Oh, she has every right to worry about it.”

You both spin about to see the source of the voice and you drop the [Hakurai Homing Needles] into the muck in your panic. You curse and look down, but when you look up, you see hanging in front of you an upside down face, smiling as six eyes blink at once,

Boo.”

You jump back, cursing profusely and fire off snap shot of [Fireball] but Victoria dodges it easily as she rights herself, laughing. Despite breathing heavily, you’re able to see the Temple Guardian fully.

Victoria’s torso is that of a mature human female, with slender abs and large, firm breasts held in place with the barest of cloth. Her hands and arms are a curious creation of brown chitin and when you look at her face you see short, black hair and three sets of blinking, pure black eyes like look at you smugly.

At about the point of her cloth covered hips however, she has no human legs, but a set of pedipalps that twitch slightly as the structure of her abdomen takes on the form of a spider’s with eight, multi-jointed brown legs and a slender brown abdomen.

Victoria cocks her head and smiles. “Oh, a little closer next time Wizard, you might even make me sweat some.” Her legs twitch as she taps her cheek with her knuckles. “Hmmm. I wonder how long it will take for your friends to arrive. Truly, they are quite the fools for thinking I wouldn’t know how to leave a false scent trail.”

She shrugs, “Amateurs will be amateurs.”

“W-what do you want?” You ask, still a little shaken.

“Oh, why to see an expression like that, of course!” She says, delighted. “But I suppose I would like to know why one of my little failures her has something like this this letter? I don’t really take kindly to my pawns being used.”

She huffs, “Only I can use them!”

Rapodaie starts to gather magic, “Why you be bringin dis mess inna our swamp? You lookin fo a fight?”

“Oh, a local, how charming.” Victoria shrugs, “I don’t need to explain myself to you or yours since I’m going to kill you anyway, I just wanted to ask something of the Wizard.” She smiles wider, “Of course, if he wants to just submit to me, then his interrogation will be much more pleasurable.”

The guard with you is really freaking out by this point, and when Victoria starts gloating, she screams and levels her halberd before charging the spider. Victoria merely looks at her and rolls her eyes, tugging on something. The guard keeps running, then seems trip and go crashing into the murk, dropping her halberd. Victoria moves to her, grabs the halberd as it falls, twirls it, and plants the blade into the neck of the Jaga-Jaga with little apparent effort. She leans on the haft as the Monster dies instantly before smiling at you.

“Where were we?”

Rapodaie’s eyes grow wide and she screams, throwing a bolt of green magic at the Arachne. Victoria narrows her eyes before dodging quickly to the left, then straight upwards and out of sight. She starts to chuckle but you can’t make out where she is.

{Bubs, how’s it coming man?} You send, fear touching your thoughts.

{Big guy, we’ve been webbed! We’re doing our best to get to you, but the bitch left a path of silk on the way here. It’s slow going!}

You grit your teeth as Victoria says softly, “Well if you won’t talk, then I guess we’ll just have to have a little fun.”

Your first instinct is to run. You know this is wrong though, because the second you start turning tail, she’ll be on you like predator and you’d be her prey.

It would be over in an instant.

Instead you calm yourself and assess the situation. There is a high-level Monster hunting you and Rapodaie and you can’t see her or hear her. Your party is trapped in her webs and will be delayed. You can’t run or you’ll be massacred.

That means the only open course of action is to find the spider and delay her, or take her out. And the easiest way to do that…

You look back down at the water, but as you do, you hear Rapodaie scream as she pushes you aside, “Where ya be lookin ya fool!”

A whooshing sound comes from above you and you turn to see Victoria’s abdomen disappear into the treetops again. You grit your teeth and nod to Rapodaie, “Thanks for the save.”

“Is nutin, but you need be lookin ahead missa man.” She twirls and fires a bolt of green energy that smashes into a tree, causing it to splinter about as a crater of force digs into it. You hear a cackling laugh about you after the explosion, followed by a sing-song melody.

The itsy-bitsy spider stalked the stupid lout. Down came his flame to flush the spider out. Now he panics in his tiny brain, and the itsy-bitsy spider will laugh at him again.”

And she does laugh again. This is really fucking unnerving. Your calm begins to slip and, despite knowing that she is doing this to ruse you, it works. Perhaps if you dig into your [Sack of Shit] you can form a miasma? No, that will only work if you could affect her humors, and damnit, you can’t even see-

You jump as a rustling noise causes you to fire a [Lightning Bolt] into the brush. A vibrant cloud of water explodes into the air as power discharges in arcs, but nothing else comes of it.

“Really, this is just too much fun.”

You whirl about to see Victoria hanging upside down again and you reflexively raise your arm, but not in time to stop her from landing a punch square in your face, causing you to fly backward into a tree and forcing the air out of your lungs in a gasp. Stars dance in front of your eyes and you feel a wave of nausea hit you. Staggering on your feet, you rub blood from your nose, which is dripping profusely into the murky water.

Only then do you remember to check your surroundings.

Your eyes go wide as you see Victoria backhand Rapodaie and take her staff from her, tossing it into the swamp before embracing the bulkier Monster. You cry out as the Arachnae grins wickedly, then sinks her fangs into the neck of the shaman before slowly releasing her and giggling. The shaman looks on in horror, then staggers, falling to her side in a twitching motion.

Weakly, you raise Harmony again and channel your rage into her, casting a full force [Lightning Bolt]. Victoria nimbly dodges to the side and stares at you like you’re some kind of idiot. She starts pacing towards you and you quickly throw up a [Shield of Thorns] to protect you. Roots from the mighty swamp tree behind you come up and form a domed wall in front of you, blocking her from your view.

Everything goes quiet beyond the normal sounds of the swamp and the pulsing of your heart. Fucking hells, this wasn’t supposed to be like this. But she’s so damn fast and powerful, you just… you didn’t expect it go south this fast.

Taking the time, you quickly fix your damaged nose and listen carefully. Nothing… not a damn thing. You can drop the shield, but she’ll be on you in a heartbeat and if you try to randomly cast magic out there you’ll just tire yourself out.

Panicking, you send to your familiar, {Bubs, ETA, now.}

{Sorry big guy, we’re clearing the last of these webs, but it’s going to be at least another few minutes.}

You growl. Damnit, that’s going to be too long! If only you can reach the damned homing needles, you’ll have this in the bag. In desperation you cast an amplified [Cold Blooded] through Harmony, hoping to somehow affect her. Spiders hate cold too, right? All it seems to accomplish however is make your breath steam out in front of you despite being in a swamp.

Chirp chirp, thump thump. The mundane sounds of the swamp almost become deafening in your ears as you start to breathe faster. This is panic on a primal level- you feel another wave of nausea come through you.

As you consider trying to leave your fort and dash out to grab the [Hakurai Homing Needles] you hear a faint noise, like something heavy being dragged on the ground.

You strain to listen to where the sound is coming from. It sounds like it’s getting closer and closer… And then it stops. Your heart hammers in your chest as you slowly put your ear to your wall.

The blade of the halberd suddenly spears through the shield of roots, splintering it apart. You scream as the sudden surprise causes you to stagger backward and fall on your ass as the blade wriggles free, exposing a hole in which Victoria’s frosty and smiling face appears.

“Heeeerrrreeee’s Vicky!” She cackles.

You reflexively cast [Vine Whip] to try and catch her but she’s already out of sight, though you can hear her hacking at your wall. It will only be moments before she’ll be through. Damn it, there’s no time, you have to get out of here, you can’t just wait!

{Wizard, stop!} Screams Harmony in your head, but you don’t heed her warning and drop your shield to scramble toward the homing needles. You barely make it five feet before you feel a huge weight slam down upon you, forcing your face into the muck. Raising your head, you gasp for breath and feel a pair of soft globes press into your back as your arms are pinned to the ground, causing you to drop Harmony.

You struggle to be released, but it’s no use- you’re pinned. Warm breath plays on your neck and a soft, wet tongue slides gently up to your ear, where it caresses your lobe tenderly before you hear a soft whisper,

“Caught like a fly in a web are we? Oh dear, dear Wizard, you really didn’t think you could beat me, did you? You’re but a simple little man, and I, a Temple Guardian.”

 

Chapter 103

 

You feel the tickle of her breathing in your ear again as she chuckles, “So strong and muscular, how rare for your kind, so I’m told. Mmm, and your smell is absolutely divine. Such a waste it would be to just end you, I suppose.” You feel the pressure against you intensify as her breasts splay out across your back.

“Just tell me about your relationship with that bitch Selene and I’ll make sure to reward you. Your life will be nothing but constant bliss as you are warmly wrapped in my soft silk.” She purrs into your ear before chuckling,

“And that, is a double entendre.”

She starts nibbling on your ear and, despite yourself, you feel a growing tightening in your pants. It’s no use, if you try to cast something she’ll bite you and it will be all over. You can try to lie to her, but she’ll just rape you anyway, make you one of her little semen factories or whatever Selene had said.

“Don’t try and stall for time, your friends will only find a corpse if you do. You have ten seconds to answer me.” She licks her luscious lips and begins counting.

“Ten… Nine… Eight…”

You think furiously. No spells, no party, no time. Your best course of action is to… is to…

“Seven… Six… Five…”

Submit. That’s all that is left to you. You close your eyes and hang your head.

“Four… Three… Two… One….”

“I-” You begin before you hear a mighty roar and the light around you flashes a brilliant shade of green. Victoria screams in agony as she is bodily pushed into you, forcing your head once more into the murk before the pressure upon you is quickly lifted amidst a skittering noise.

You push yourself up out of the swampy water and flip about to see one of Victoria’s legs standing in the murk, still smoking. Surprised, you look up to see, standing a distance from you, the battered form of Rapodaie. She breathes heavily and sags to her knees, holding her neck before screaming in pain.

“Missa man! Hurry!”

You blink and nod, understanding. Quickly, you pick yourself up and dash forward, using your [Mage Sight] to locate your homing needles and [Vine Whip] to propel them out of the water and into your hand.

Victoria screams in rage in the trees, hidden but for her fury. You concentrate your power into the needles, activating them, and then, with all your strength, you toss them into the air.

The pieces of metal fly up in a lazy arc before suddenly stopping, as if held in place by some force. They twirl about in odd circles and then, in unison, point in one direction before firing off into the trees. You hear a muffled cry of alarm before Victoria outright screams and comes crashing down from the tree tops onto her back, legs flailing as she cries in pain.

The homing needles pierced her abdomen in some places, but a few of them slammed into her torso: two puncturing her breasts, one going into her stomach, and another straight into one of her eyes. She writhes upon the ground, causing muck and water to go everywhere.

You quickly scoop up Harmony and channel your might and force a [Vine Whip] to hold her down with multiple roots binding her arms and all her legs.

Victoria struggles vainly, staring at you with outright fury as she struggles to be let go.

“WORTHLESS MAGGOT!” She screams, “I offer your pleasures unimaginable and you do this?! I will devour your organs!” She screams again and trashes about, but gets nowhere under your bindings.

You lean onto Harmony, catching your breath as you stare at the Temple Guardian. One of the four strongest Monsters, caught like… well, a fly in a web. The irony makes to chuckle, and Victoria looks at you, aghast.

“What’s so damn funny you faggot?”

You just shake your head and keep laughing before turning your back on the spider and walking towards Rapodaie. Victoria screams furiously at being ignored and her trashing increases proportionally. You whirl about and point Harmomy at her. Another root appears around her neck and slams her head into the ground as it constricts her. You narrow your eyes and keep walking.

Rapodaie is on her knees, breathing heavily as you approach her. You can see her holding her neck, a slowly spreading area of necrosis held under her fingers. It’s obvious that she’s using her magic to stem the flow of the venom, but you can’t be certain as to how effective it is in the long run at keeping her alive. You grit your teeth and kneel down next to her as she looks at you, her eyes sunken and pleading.

“Shhh, it’s alright.” You dig into your [Sack of Holding +1] and pull out a [Health Potion]. Opening the stopper, you put it to her lips, urging her to drink. She does, but coughs as the thick solution pours down her throat. She spasms for a moment and then sighs before her eyes flutter closed and she collapses in your arms.

Quickly, you [Fast Scan] her to see she’s alive and the potion is rapidly rebalancing her humors. The venom is fighting hard against it however, and the two seem to be in a stalemate. With some effort, you manage to pull out the venom with your Plagamancy and throw the vile poison into the swamp. Rapodaie’a unconscious form shudders and her breathing normalizes.

You sigh and then turn back to Victoria to find she’s no longer struggling. In fact, she merely looks at you with hate filled eyes as you pick yourself up and walk back over to her. You just stare at her before casually waving your hand, willing the [Hakurai Homing Needles] out from her. She cries out in pain as they tear out of her body, but you just narrow your eyes and, with an audible snapping noise, one of your vines breaks another leg.

Victoria lets out a choked cry as her torso tenses up and her eyes go wide. She struggles before settling down and breathing heavily, her eyes staring up at the sky.

“What’s with the plague Viccy?”

She pants some more before looking at you and licking her lips. “Fuck off.”

You raise your hand again and she grits her teeth, preparing. “Don’t make me do this.”

“Fuck. Off.”

Obliging her, you snap off another leg. She writhes again but this time starts to laugh.

“This the best you have Wizard? This is what you call torture? Hahaha, my most worthless Dark Elf could torture better than this.”

You pinch between your eyes, “I don’t want to torture you. I don’t want to be doing any of this, but what choice have you given me? It’s a simple question: what is the plague, and why did you hire the Danuki?”

“Heh…haha… the Danuki? That garbage? She was just supposed to transport the crates without drawing undue attention, but no, the coon couldn’t even get that right.” She hisses, “Fucking overgrown lizards had to stop the wagon, so I stepped in.”

“You haven’t answered the whole question.”

“Why should I?”

You point Harmony at another leg and manipulate her humors, which are surprisingly malleable now. Hesitation stays your hand for a moment as you consider what you’re about to do. Sometimes you have to do what is necessary, right?

Heart hardened, you easily cast [Cancer].

The leg seems to ripple for a moment before slowly, it begins to swell as it grows larger and larger. Victoria stares in mute horror as her leg becomes one large tumor, and she screams in terror and pain.

“Not a good feeling, is it?”

“W-what have you done?” She demands, trying to break free again.

“Just answer the question and I’ll end it.”

“T-the plague…” She seems genuinely terrified now as her leg becomes more and more grotesque. “It’s meant to be a bio-weapon, kill the humans and spare the worthy, make them malleable and ready for their ascension.”

She stares at you with a strange fervor in her eyes, “That is the true word of Dollora! The true will of the Lady, not the bullshit that Tolosh preaches! Everyone becoming a Monster? Preposterous! Only the worthy should live in this new era!”

You rub your temple and wave a hand. The cancerous leg snaps off, eliciting another cry of pain.

“You… You fucking bastard, you promised!”

“I said I’d end it, and I did.”

Victoria stares at you, searching your expression. Her five remaining eyes widen as a sick smile cracks the corner of her lips. “You… you’re a sick monster just like me.”

You clench your fist as a wave of revulsion washes through you. Dimly, you can feel a presence in your mind drawing closer, but you can’t seem to focus on it as you stare into Victoria’s inhuman eyes. “What are you talking about?”

“Look at yourself. You have me caught in your little trap, taking me apart leg by leg, making me scream! I bet you enjoy it, I bet your dick is hard as diamonds now. Watching me squirm just gets you off so badly that you want to take me right now and fuck my brains out as you tear into my flesh.”

She starts panting as she continues. “Yes, yes you want to demean me, make me unable to escape, where I’m nothing but your delicate little fuck toy, hmm? Well then, break me, rend my flesh from my bones! BREAK ME! TAKE ME!”

She starts to struggle even more than before, desperately reaching towards you. Her words are those of an insane mind, someone who’s rationality had left them. You wonder if this is some kind of ruse or if she truly wishes to be violated in ways that transcend the physical. Honestly though, the worst part of it is she’s kind of right. The thought of dominating this murderous little whore is appealing.

As soon as that thought comes to you though, you feel sick to your stomach.

{Wizard…} Sends Harmony through your link. She seems to mentally stare at you in revulsion.

“I…” You begin, searching for words, “I’m not like that.” You don’t know who exactly you’re trying to convince.

“Oh yes you are! I bet that’s why you are searching for Selene, hmm? Because you use pain for your pleasure!” She strains even further, her grin manic, “Did you know she gets off to being whipped with her own tails? What a sick little slut!”

You stare mutely at the Arachne as your heart begins to beat faster at these words. Unbidden, you grip Harmony and grit your teeth as you hiss out “Don’t.

“Hmm? Don’t what? Talk about the Lady’s prim little toy? I bet she has you wrapped all around her finger, doesn’t she?”

“I said, don’t.” You say, raising Harmony up towards the spider. You feel a pulse of panic inside you as Harmony tries to get your attention. Behind you, you hear the sound of footsteps in the mud but you can’t seem to care.

“Hells, I bet deep down inside, you think you love her, don’t you? Oh that’s so very cute. They say that I am the monster, but I am nothing, NOTHING compared to her!”

Your eyes grow wide and you summon your will within you, a raging torrent of fire that you channel into Harmony. You feel her try and stop your magic, to keep it from bursting out from her. Fine. You snarl, raising your other hand and using it to channel your magic.

“Wizard! No!” You hear Blake shout from behind you.

You cast [Firebomb] anyway.

The glowing orb of fire lands onto her torso and she stares down at it, laughing manically. “You Gods damned fool. You should have kept me alive! But I go now to meet Dollora, and you are left with nothing!”

She smirks one last time, “Oh, and that man I stole should be out of the swamp by now. I wonder how far he’ll carry the infection?”

The firebomb detonates with a roar and you are pushed back by the force of it, staggering into the muck behind you. You shake your head as you try to clear your senses when you feel strong hands take your arm. Jerking free, you turn around, raising your staff at-

Blake.

You blink and concentrate on the man before you. His expression is… horrified. Like he just saw something fundamentally terrible. But why is he looking at you like that? That’s silly, you didn’t-

Shaking your head, you turn around and look at the scene playing behind you. Moss is burning on the swamp trees as their damp bark smolders in a few places. Some grass burns softly as well, but where Victoria lay before is nothing but a crater littered with severed limbs and smoking flesh.

Your eyes are drawn to something and you see it’s her head, burned on one side, expression twisted into a sick smile. Even in death, she still mocks you it seems.

“Wizard…” Blake says, putting a hand on your shoulder. “Wizard, stop. She’s dead.”

You continue to stare at the head, her multitude of eyes staring lifelessly at you. Shrugging free from Blake, you walk over and pick up the head. You stare into her lifeless eyes and then turn to your party. All of them, the Jaga-Jaga included, look away from you, except for Tabitha who stares you straight in the eyes, no emotion playing in her icy stare. Sighing, you tuck the head under your shoulder before taking in a deep breath and scanning the group.

No one speaks.

“What?” You say, your voice flat and emotionless. “She’s dead. We have other things to worry about.”

You start to trudge forward through the muck. When you hear no other sounds behind you, you whirl about and scream, “YOU FUCKING HEARD HER! We have to stop the plaguebearer!”

Everyone continues to stand still.

An unexplained rage builds inside you. “Oh, oh I see, you think I went a little overboard huh?” You raise her head up and point at it, “This! This was a monster who preyed on the weak, terrorizing them in the dark, making them her little playthings. She deserved her fate, and I will not apologize.” You look to Blake, “This is a war we are fighting and I just ended one of their generals! I’m a fucking hero!”

Blake looks aside, eyes narrowed. “This isn’t what being a Hero is about.”

“Then what is it about? Huh? Tell me, is it about dragging Wizards from their homes and going on merry little adventures, never really accomplishing the big things huh? If you don’t have the stomach to do what needs to be done, then I will, just like with the Lich, and just like with those Swamp Horrors.”

Panting, you try to recover your breath after your little speech. You look everyone in the eyes, and they all look away, except Tabitha. She grips her sword in her hand and walks towards you deliberately. You tense up in response as she comes to stand face to face with you, barely an inch away. You both stare each other in the eyes, her cool expression the utter opposite of your hot fury. Her lips part slowly and she says, with conviction,

“Shut up.”

You blink in surprise at her words, utterly taken aback. Tabitha just shakes her head and starts walking down the road. Bubs, riding on her shoulder, looks at you, sadness in his ratty eyes before he looks away. Slowly, the rest of the party begins to move in the same direction, the Jaga-Jaga that came with them carrying Rapodaie. You just stare at them as they trudge onwards.

“Harmony…” You whisper. “I’m… I’m not a monster… am I?”

Your staff doesn’t respond.

 

Chapter 104

 

The rest of the party trudges on into the swamp, quickly leaving you alone with Harmony and your thoughts. Now that it’s over, you have time to catch your breath and think everything through. The events of merely moments before play in your mind in slow motion and you clearly see that Victoria, despite being your captive, always had clear control of the situation.

You grit your teeth and grip Harmony hard as you realize that you were played at the end like a damn fiddle. She knew that she had lost and instead of having you continue to torture her, she goaded you into ending her and her wealth of information in a remarkably spectacular fashion.

Looking down at the head in your other hand, you stare into the dead eyes. She needed to die though, no one can argue that fact, right? It was necessary to kill her, right? You’re not a terrible person… right?

It’s not like you don’t have a burnt head in your hand or anything.

You groan and lean your head on Harmony, opening your thoughts to the staff. A sense of unease permeates from her, a certain tension which makes your heart lurch as you gently speak to the spirit of the staff.

{Harmony… Are you there?}

You feel the tension shift, as if someone is uncomfortably trying to ignore you. Closing your eyes, you breathe out slowly.

“Harmony I’m sorry. I should have listened to your warning. I wasn’t thinking and let my emotions get the better of me.” You shake your head, “Harmony please, just say something. I’m not asking you to forgive me, but this silence it… it’s just too much right now.”

The uncomfortable feeling increases and you hear a faint mumbling in your mind. You don’t press her on what she said, but you get a general impression that maybe she’s relenting some. It gives you a great sense of relief, but at the same time revulsion. What must you have looked like to make her act this way? Your emotions must have been a tangled train wreck to force back onto the staff like that. It’s scary, in a way.

Leaving her be for now, you start moving to catch up with the party. There will be time enough to fix everything with them, they’ll understand. They’ll have to or… or this party won’t survive this quest. You feel that maybe Tabitha understands this, but the others don’t seem to fully comprehend the world of shit they’re a part of. This isn’t a game and you’re starting to get sick of playing clean up.

You look down at the head again and find if growing heavy in your hand. Stopping, you open your [Sack of Holding +1] and place [Victoria’s Head] inside. As you do, you feel an odd sensation, like what oil would feel like as it slides over water. Your spine shivers slightly as you feel a familiar presence. It isn’t a bad feeling, not really, just… wrong somehow. You quickly close your bag and put it out of your mind. Probably just your nerves, you do have some freaky shit in the bag as it stands.

Moving quickly brings you back to the rear of the group, having to support Rapodaie as it is, but you keep your distance, which seems to suit everyone fine. Blake looks back at you every so often but says nothing, while Tabitha pointedly trudges onward. It’s a very uncomfortable silence and when you finally reach your wagon, it feels as if you’d spent eternity in a warm, humid purgatory.

As you approach, you notice that Veronica is awake, leaning next to the cart and supported by one of the Jaga-Jaga, which she seems none too keen about. She looks a little pale, her hair plastered to her head, although it may be more the heat than anything else. A wan smile comes to her face before her expression goes serious as she studies the faces of the party.

“Hey… what’s wrong?” She looks at Rapodaie and the Jaga-Jaga holding her up. “What happened while I was out?”

Blake, Tabitha, and Hala look between each other and glance back toward you. Looking down, you say in a cold voice. “Victoria, the Temple Guardian, is dead.”

Veronica’s eyes go wide and she whispers a prayer to Solos. “By Solos, that’s… that’s wonderful!” She studies the expressions of the others before asking cautiously, “But… something happened?”

“There was a disagreement in method.” You answer, anger tinging your voice as you walk up to the wagon and hoist yourself up on one of the seats. Leaning your head back, you stare at the covering, feeling exhausted. “The end result is that the Monster is dead, but not before she released a plague carrier. We need to hunt him down and-“

You turn your head, looking Blake in the eyes, “Quarantine him.”

Blake narrows his eyes in response before shaking his head and pointing for the others to load up. Hala and Tabitha do so quietly and you watch as Bubs tepidly crawls down from Tabitha’s shoulder to crawl up your leg and sit on your knee, looking at you on his hindlegs.

{Uhm… Hey, big guy.} He sends.

{Hey…} You return, tired.

{Yeah, uhm.} He seems to fish for words. {You going to be okay?}

You look down at the rat and he shudders. Shit, you must look really angry or something. {I don’t know, are you?}

Bubs pauses and seems to hesitate before answering. {“I think you did what needed to happen big guy. I guess it was just a little shocking, you know? You kind of got really intense and… well if something gets that bird brain so worked up, maybe it’s with good reason. I don’t know, I’m just a rat.}

You snort, {A magic rat.}

{Yeah, heh, I guess so.} He circles on your lap before crawling into your pocket. The familiar warmth makes you feel worlds more comfortable. Sighing, you look over at Blake, who is helping situate Rapodaie with the Jaga-Jaga. You see her slowly open her eyes and look around, her attendants doing their best to keep her calm, not that she seems to be panicking or anything.

The shaman looks around at the people about her, before her eyes lock onto you. She smiles and a rasping chuckle escapes her lips. “Hehehe, eh der missa man… You lookin a lil pale eh?”

You blink and then close your eyes before snorting, “I don’t want to hear that from some half-albino crocodile.”

Rapodaie closes her eyes and chuckles again, before going into coughing fits. She raises a hand weakly when one of her attendants tries to calm her down. The fits stop enough and you can see her eyes are sunken some, but she’s not in any danger. Nothing some rest and fluids won’t cure. Or when the potion fully kicks in, that too.

“Ista bitsa spida deadin, eh?”

You nod your head and she sets her jaw. “An the plague?”

“She… infected the captive and set him free. He’s somewhere outside the swamp.”

Rapodaie growls and tries to stand, but is kept in place by a gentle hand from Blake. “Madam, you’re not in a fit state to go anywhere right now. While we would appreciate your help on this quest, I’m afraid the best thing you could do is recover. It’s a miracle you survived.”

She guffaws, coughing some, “Is no miracle, is dis missa man. He good one eh?”

Blake looks back at you and sets his jaw before slowly answering, “He does what needs to be done.”

You feel a flash of anger at Blake’s thinly veiled criticism, but you say nothing. Idealistic bastard, he’d be fucking dead without you and he knows it. But, you let the charade continue as Rapodaie shakily comes to her feet, placing a hand on her head.

“Aight… Aight… I feels ya. Dese bones is creakin eh? We gunna return home den, but de swamp always be welcomin ya, ye hear?”

Blake nods and bows to Rapodaie. “Thank you for your kindness, Madam.”

She shakes her head, “Is not kindness, is respect. Now den, go stop dis plaguebearer, eh?”

“Of course.”

She nods as Blake and Veronica load up onto the wagon, setting off with a gentle slap of the reins on horseflesh. You watch the Jaga-Jaga slowly recede into the swamp’s embrace as you trundle down the path that could be called a road, on your way to end the life of another soul wrapped up in this mess.

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4 thoughts on “Wizardquest Part 11: The Spider and the Croc”

  1. Wow, nice job with that last fight scene and illustrating the resulting tension within the group. Still find it odd though that out of all the people they’ve had to snuff out, her death is the one that causes his party to give him the cold shoulder. Yeah it was a pretty brutal kill but it was fairly obvious she was manipulating him.

    Glad I found this series

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