Wizardquest Part 13: Conflict in the Coliseum City

Chapter 111

 

You awaken to feeling like a piece of meat that was tenderized a little too long. Groaning in pain, you roll over onto your side. Owww, damnit, everything hurts. Maybe going back to sleep is a smart option because you certainly don’t feel like getting up today and doing anything like eating, drinking or, you know, living.

The wagon had pulled into Cair in the early morning hours, before the sun was fully up, after driving all night. All of your party, horses included, were ready to collapse, so you found the closest inn and immediately passed out.

Rolling over again, you come full 180, your face on the pillow as you grumble to yourself. You really do need to get up though, there are things you need to do today- like make sure you aren’t possessed by the vengeful spirit of a Lamia or something, though that seems rather trivial to you for some reason.

You feel Bubs crawl over onto your back, making little circles in your clothing before laying down like a cat.

{Morning big guy.}

“Murmgulphurglub.”

{Yeah, I slept pretty well too, found some excellent bread downstairs in a corner, it was just the right level of mold.}

“Burmgungledurg.”

{Mhm, I hear ya, I hear ya, it’s a pretty nice day outside, around maybe one in the afternoon or so.}

“Furmdundle?”

{Oh fine, it’s 12:47 and three seconds, are you happy?}

“Snurb.”

{I swear to the Gods, you two are idiots sometimes.} You hear distantly from Harmony. Groaning, you roll over again, Bubs leaping off and scrambling up next to the staff, poking her with his tail. The cheeky cunt.

“Morning Harmony…” You grumble, performing the monumental task of lifting your ass out of bed.

{Oh don’t you morning me! The vermin said it was afternoon and I’m tired of dealing with this uppity little snake while you sleep like a log the moment you get into town.}

You feel a flare of anger from your [Sack of holding+ 1].

“Do… Do staves get tired?”

{Ugh, that’s not the point Wizard!}

“Yeah, yeah…” You say, wandering over and picking up the staff. Turning to your bag, you open it to take out your [Essential Wizard’s Beard Kit] and you hear in your mind,

{How DARE you leave me with that insufferable wench all evening!}

You pinch your nose. “You’re not even alive, the concept of time is immaterial to you.”

{I’ll be the judge of what is and isn’t immaterial to me! You listen here, I have offered you nothing but power and glory and you subject me to torment by talking stick and a flea ridden rodent!}

{Hey! I don’t have fleas!} Squeaks Bubs. {Not anymore, the Wizard combs my fur.}

Chaika does that snake hissing thing in reply and Bubs shrugs, which is… odd on a rat. Regardless, you start trimming your beard, the satisfaction of well-groomed facial hair allowing you to get through this.

“Look, Chaika, you laughed at me while I was being raped and murdered a little. I’m not overly impressed by what you’re bringing to the table here.”

{That is because you refused my help!}

“No, I refused to be used. Both Bubs and Harmony help me in mutual agreement, but you demand I pay some kind of… blood price.”

{Semen, actually.}

“Whatever. Look, it would be easy to crush you and remove your stain from this world, but I’m not going to because I did make a deal with you.” You glare down at your bag, “But if you don’t shape up soon, I will subject you to Bubs’s stories about his father.”

{He killed three seagulls once!} Cries the rat, rodent eyes sparkling.

Harmony shudders. You shudder. Chaika shudders.

{Grrr… You haven’t heard the last of me.} She says, relenting. You shrug and put away your beard care tools before crossing toward the door, entourage in hand, pocket, and bag.

The inn you’re staying in is quiet at this time of day. From the little you know of Cair, it truly comes alive at night, most people spending their days much the same way as you, though for different reasons. You wander down the stairs slowly to see the innkeeper, a tall, stern looking woman who assesses you critically before sneering and thumbing over to the tables. You look to where she points and see Tabitha, Blake, and Hala there, chatting over mugs of something.

As you approach, you notice that Hala looks to be in high spirits while Blake looks worse for wear. Given how late, or perhaps early, you got into the city, it’s not surprising. You still feel like shit yourself!

Tabitha still seems to be Tabitha though, and she glances at you before looking back at the other two, as if dismissing your presence. You scratch your head before sighing out, “Good day.”

Blake looks up wearily and nods. “Good day, Wizard.”

“Wizard.” Greets Tabitha.

“You look like shit.” Says Hala.

You sit down at the table and stare at the Wolf Girl. “My, what a charmer.”

She shrugs, “Just saying it like it is, right Blake?”

He sighs. “You could be a little more delicate about these things.”

“That’s no fun!”

“Where’s Veronica anyway?” You question, looking about.

Hala shrugs, “I think she was still in her room, complaining about being tired. Honestly, she gets attacked by one little goo Monster and-“

“Didn’t you get bisected or something yesterday?” You interrupt as the innkeeper slides something frothy towards you. You stare at it before looking back at the woman. Her eyes bore into yours so hard that don’t have the heart to refuse it.

“Hmm? Oh, yeah I’m better now.” She says, lifting up her shirt before Blake slaps her wrists. She looks a little abashed, “Oh, right, the clothing thing, sorry. Anyway, thanks for the healing Wizard.”

“Don’t mention it, please. And yes you’re right, I do feel like shit, I think most of us do.” You rub at your temple and look to Blake. “I know we need to keep going on this quest, but all things considered, we could use some rest.”

Blake nods, taking a drink of his… probably some kind of ale. Honestly you just swore off the stuff and here is someone trying to enable you. “We were just discussing this before you arrived. I am of a mind of agree with you, although we do need to resupply and evaluate the north road before setting out anyway.”

You nod. “Yeah, oh and maybe we can look into that Dullahan head, which I have no idea why you kept, or something.”

“I don’t know, I’m sure you kept Victoria’s head in your bag too so-“

You both stop as Tabitha slaps the table with her open palm, causing everyone’s drinks to jump. Both you stare at her and she looks back and forth between both of you before growling out, “Quiet, both of you.”

Quiet descends as she continues. “Look, I’ve had it about up to here with your little bickering between this group on your adventure or whatever this is. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, the only reason I’m here is to duel him.” She points at Blake. “You’ve evaded me constantly with these little life-threatening incidents, but now that we are in Cair, I will not give you an excuse.”

Blake looks between you and Hala before sighing. “Look, Tabitha, I’m hardly in the condition to-“

She holds up a finger. “One day, you have one day to recover and then you and I will enter the Coliseum.” She grits her teeth. “If you lose before facing me, then I will leave. If you refuse to enter, I will leave. I have no allegiance to you or your quest, but by the Gods you will not escape our duel much longer.”

Everyone sits there, stunned as the Lizardman bores down upon Blake. He takes in a deep breath, his eyes very tired, then steeples his fingers before replying slowly, “Very well, Tabitha. While I believe you are a valuable member of this party, I suppose it cannot be helped that you would push for this.” He closes his eyes,

“I will enter, but do not blame me for the consequences of your actions.”

Tabitha narrows her eyes before standing up slowly and leaving. You don’t bother to ask where she’s going as she slams the door to the inn behind her. Looking back at Blake, you see him pinching the bridge of his nose.

“Coliseum?” You ask, cocking your head.

Blake nods his head wearily. “I’m surprised you don’t know of it. Cair is famous for its gambling, trade, and all sorts of vices you can only find here. Above all of that though is the Coliseum, a battleground where anyone with the will to fight can make a name for themselves.”

He sighs, “This place is disgusting, but because it offers such sport the city has never been conquered in during a Monster Invasion.”

“And she wants to uh… duel you here, huh?” You say, scratching your head.

Blake pinches the bridge of his nose. “Things are going to get really complicated with her, really fast. She’s a fantastic blade and we need her, but if I best her then…” He groans and Hala rubs his back.

“Hey there, shhh, shhh. It’s alright. Hey, you know what? How about I cheer you up?” She says, a mischievous grin appearing on her face. He looks up at her, brow furrowed before a look of comprehension, followed by embarrassment, appears on his face.

“Oh! Oh you mean… But the Wizard is…”

You wave a hand, “Not like I haven’t seen you go at it like animals before, although I’d prefer if you did so upstairs.”

Hala rolls her eyes, “You know what, why don’t you just go back to that Cat Girl with the tails, huh?”

Blake looks up to Hala, then to you. “Cat Girl with the tails? What is she talking about, Wizard?”

 

Chapter 112

 

You glare fucking daggers at Hala before you lick your lips and shift to Blake, “O-oh, Hala was just messing around. You see there was some uh, Cat Girl with two tails that was following me about in Derrick, nothing to be uh, concerned about.”

“I could have sworn she had nine…”

Hala, I will fucking end you.” You hiss, low enough that only the wolf could hear. She blinks at you, taken aback, before smiling wickedly and sticking out her tongue.

“Nine tails? A Cat Girl with nine tails?” Blake’s brow furrows again, concentrating, “Why is that familiar… I can’t seem to remember but it sounds like a Monster I should know…”

“Aha, ahaha, oh Hala! You jokester!” You press, taking the mug of ale before you and downing half of it in one pull. Gods this is some cheap shit. “You’re playing me good, haha.”

“Does this have anything to do with what Victoria was speaking of before…?” Blake says, trailing off. You stare at him over the rim of the mug, your eyes meeting. You waver for a moment before looking away.

“A mere trick to anger me. As you saw I… lost my cool. She was a crafty one.”

Blake continues to look at you, one eyebrow raised. You gulp and put down the mug before stretching and turning to the staircase. “You know what, I think I’m going to go check on Veronica, mhm.”

“Very well then…” Blake says. You’re certain he’s still staring at you despite your back being turned. Without another word you skedaddle upstairs to where you’re fairly certain Tabitha and Veronica’s room is.

You take a moment to catch your breath outside the door. Gods damn it Hala, you did NOT want to have this talk right now. Looking after Veronica was just a clever excuse, but damn it, you may not be able to avoid this for much longer. Gritting your teeth, you move to knock on the door, but pause when you hear a faint noise from inside.

You press your ear against the door and hear… moaning? A low, soft moan comes from inside the room from Veronica. You furrow your brow as you think to why she would be making that noise. Did she have a fever? She hasn’t been looking that good since the Swamp Horror attack. Not that it really bothers you that much how she’s feeling, but she was the only one to defend you before. Might as well at least check on her. You follow through and knock on the door, to which you hear a gasp and a furious shuffling of sheets followed by a hurried, “C-come in!”

You blink, shrug, and open the door, scrunching your nose at the strange smell in the room. You see two little beds, one nice and tidy with Tabitha’s belongings near it, the other occupied by Veronica. You notice she’s fully covered up by the blankets, her face flushed as she pants.

“Oh… Oh Solos, it’s you Wizard.”

You look at her with concern. Maybe she really did pick something up in the swamp, because she’s acting really strange. You perform a quick [Fast Scan] and find nothing out of the ordinary at all. In fact she is the picture of health, yet she looks feverish.

“Hey there Veronica, you uhm… You feeling okay?”

“Yes! Never better, w-why do you ask?” She asks quickly, a little defensive.

“Well, you’ve kind of been acting strange since you woke up from the Swamp Horror attack. I’m just wondering if you’re feeling okay.”

“Nope, I’m fine! Just a little tired is all.”

You purse your lips. She’s hiding something, even you can tell that. Normally you’d just let it go, but if this could be related to something that Swamp Horrors did, then you better not risk it. Nodding, you walk up to her and kneel down.

She blushes furiously and scooches back as you raise a hand to feel her head.

“H…hey, what are you? Stop that, you don’t need to-!” She says, fidgeting away from you as you move closer. She squeaks and raises a hand from under the covers to grab yours and you feel a warm, sticky fluid.

Both of you stare down at her hand for a long while, then back into each other’s eyes. Her mouth is open and she looks utterly horrified as you slowly, delicately, remove her hand from yours. You take a slow, shuddering breath, try not to scream, and look back into her eyes.

“Veronica… What did that Swamp Horror do to you?”

The Aspirant looks at her hand, then lowers it, her gaze going to the floor. “Nothing. Well, nothing physically, you saw to that, but it made me feel…” She blushes, “Feel really good, made me realize things that maybe I’ve been bottling up for a while.” She blushes with greater intensity, “And I… I couldn’t stop myself from, uhm…” She shrugs and holds up her hand, still slick with love nectar.

You wipe your hand on the bedspread and take a deep sigh. Gods. Damnit. This is REALLY not what you want to talk about today. It takes every ounce of your will to keep from fleeing from the room. “Okay then Veronica. Apparently you’ve recently found out what puberty is and are exploring your body. That’s great, that’s wonderful, neat. Uhm, maybe you should get some release before you end up being too busy looking at Blake’s abs to defend yourself though.”

“He does have great- Wait, Wizard, what are you implying? Are you propositioning me?”

Your eyes open wide and you stand up, shaking your head and hands, “Nonononono noooooo. Nohohohoho, no. Look, I don’t know what you got out of that, but it’s not my business. Just uh, just take care of this and uhm. Look, just take care of yourself or whatever. Say some prayers, I don’t know.”

The awkward situation has become even more awkward. You stand and rush for the door when Veronica calls, “Wizard… What am I supposed to do? Blake is with Hala and…”

You groan, wanting nothing more than to get out of here. Searching for something to say, you reply, “This is a city full of bars and you’re rather attractive, so I don’t know, maybe look past the Hero or something.”

“I…I see.”

“Yep, great.” You say, opening the door and shutting it quickly, your heart pounding. Oh boy, relationship advice is not your strong suit, and you’re fairly certain you just told her to sleep around or something, but Gods damn it, you made sure she was healthy so you’re NOT getting involved in this further!

Oh who are you kidding, things are never that simple.

 

Chapter 113

 

{I think you handled that rather well.} Sends Bubs in your pocket.

{I think you handled that rather poorly.} Sends Harmony in your hand.

{I think you’re all idiots.} Sends Chaika in your bag.

You grumble and open your door again, entering the room before searching your bag and pulling out the [Lamia Tail Bone].

“Look, Blake is having waifu duel in the Coliseum after getting sucked off by a Wolf Girl while his training buddy flicks her bean to the thought of his sweaty naked body on top of her. There’s a lot of shit that just happened right now so what will it take to shut you up?”

“Your sem-“

“No.”

“Oh very well, that vessel you promised then.”

You close your eyes and lean back your head. “Fine, sure, whatever.”

{Boy you’re taking this resting thing to heart, huh big guy?} Says Bubs as he runs up the table to look at the ingredients you’re removing from your bag. {Looks like some kind of knife again}

{A knife? You will NOT put me in something as mundane as a-}

You slam down the vial of [Arachne Venom] and Chaika mentally smiles. {Maybe it’s not so bad after all.}

Pulling out a [Centipede Leg], you start working at it with some tools you picked up at the Hero’s Hall. Basic things like files, knives, etc. that you use to form a blade similar to the [Wightbane]. It’s not a difficult process since you’ve done it before, but it does take time. It would have been more relaxing if your merry band of magical retainers would shut up though.

{No, no, if this accursed device is to house my essence it should be more, I don’t know, wicked!} Chaika shouts in your mind.

{You’re already wicked enough!} Harmony sends.

{I mean, you’re both pretty mean.} Bubs mentally yawns.

{How dare you, you verminous little-}

You mix the [Arachne venom] in with some [Crushed Wizard’s Chalk] to form a paste. The final mixture will require soaking the [Lamia Tail Bone] in it, to absorb her essence while hopefully not killing the spirit inside. For good measure you add a little bit of [Concentrated mana potion] which also increases its consistency, though you grimace as you touch this stuff, knowing what it’s made from.

{Why don’t you come over here and say that too my face?}

{Maybe I would, but I’m afraid I’d choke on the splinters!}

{Children! Both of you, Dollora forsaken children!}

Chaika screams this, causing you to fumble about in surprise. You curse and slam your hand on the table, causing everything to jump and the bottle of venom to fall over. Snagging it before it can fall off the table, lid still sealed, you round on the three stooges.

“I am performing delicate work here, and you three choose to bicker like children!”

{Told you.} Says Chaika with a smug, mental expression.

You point at your bag, not that she can see it, and you growl, “You know what, you don’t get a dagger for now until you learn to behave yourself.”

{Oh for Dollora’s sake Wizard, just because it’s-}

You hold up your hand. “No, no, no. You don’t seem to get it. I have the power here and if you choose to act like a haughty bitch, then I’m not going to help you.”

{We had a deal, Wizard!} She growls.

“Yeah, well, I never gave a specific time frame, did I?”

{You bastard!}

“Bite me.” You rub your head then growl and scoop the excess materials into bag before taking the [Lamia Tail Bone] out and dropping it into the foci mixture, which you needed to do anyway. You feel an angry pulsing and you roll your eyes. She can chill out there for now, although you’ll probably still feel her annoyance in your mind for some time

{Hehehe, serves her right.} Bubs sends, skittering up to you before stopping in his tracks as you point your finger before him.

“You too. I know she’s a murderous psycho-bitch, but you need to calm down, especially around Harmony.”

{H-hey, she started it!} He protests but you shake your head, crossing your arms.

“Bubs, you’re going to stay in time out.”

{B-but…}

“No buts! I love ya buddy, but you need to learn to play nice too.”

{Well what about the staff? She got in on it also!}

You look to Harmony who is giving off an air of pure innocence. If she was alive, she’d flutter her eyelashes and say, “Who, me?”

“Yes, she gets to stay also.”

{W-what?”} She sputters, her facade being unmasked. {I didn’t do anything to deserve punishment!}

“Harmony…”

{I mean… I kind of egged them on a little but…}

“Harmony…”

{And I uhm…} She pauses and then mentally sighs. {Poo.}

You clap your hands and look at the three of them. “I’m going to go out for abit to try and clear my head. Maybe you three should spend a little time getting to know each other. If I come back and find you bickering again…”

Letting that hang in the air, you turn about, taking your [Sack of Holding +1] in your hands before opening the door and slamming it shut behind you. You absently seal the door shut with a simple spell and let the bickering voices in your head die down. Sure, you can still feel each of them trying to get your attention, but you figure they’ll calm down when you ignore them.

You look through a window at the end of the hallway and see that it’s late afternoon, the sun casting red and gold rays as it slinks under the horizon. Sighing, you put your hands in your pockets as you walk down the hallway. You don’t have anything to do at the moment, but maybe getting outside and looking around the shops or taking a smoke break will help you relax. Given the events of the last few days, it’s something you need.

Of course, it may also give you time to think. Something you really don’t need.

Sighing again, you notice a door opening across the hall. Veronica sticks her head out of the door and you blink in surprise at seeing her. It’s not because she’s leaving, but because she’s wearing a dress!

It’s blue affair of a simple design that leaves her toned arms and back bare, yet it’s accented with a line of white frills along the long hem of the dress. It has a deep neckline as well, which she fills out quite nicely, exposing ample cleavage of her silky skin. Certainly you’ve seen her nude before, not that it was your choice, but seeing her in this dress is far more shocking, mainly because she fits it so well. You would have never believed the armor toting, mace wielding, Aspirant could look so much like a woman.

And you and just implied that she should go whore herself out.

A wave of regret runs through you as you remember what you did. Yes, she’s one of Blake’s little orbiters, yes she has some issues, and yes she may have been raped by Swamp Horrors, but damnit, overall she’s much nicer than Hala is these days.

You pause, thinking of the Wolf Girl. She used to be so docile and friendly with you, perhaps too much so, and now she’s… well, a bitch. It’s not like you hate her, but you certainly don’t appreciate her attitude much these days. Honestly, you need to take her down a peg or two, or her dick lust might get her killed. More importantly, it might get YOU killed. Can’t have that, can we?

Veronica notices you by this point and she’s blushing furiously. You notice that her hair seems brushed and it hangs loose around her head and… wait is she wearing rouge? Where the hells did she hide a fucking glamor kit in her belongings, and why did she think she might need it on a quest to kill the damn Monster Lady? Goshes, maybe she was more of a girl than you gave her credit for.

“Oh, uhm… hello Wizard.” She says, fidgeting while giving you a glare. “If you say anything about the dress…”

You hold up a hand, “No, no, it looks uhm, nice.”

She blushes again and nods before taking in a deep breath and saying. “Right then, time to hit the town and uhm…” She rolls her hand and you feel the regret again.

And then it clicks. How to solve your both problems at once. You look back toward where Blake and Hala’s room is and the gears turn faster. Okay, okay… alright that might work. You turn back to Veronica and shake your head.

“Wait, wait.” Walking up to Veronica, you place a hand on her shoulder without thinking. Both look at if before looking into each other’s eyes. You gently remove the hand and cough. “Right, sorry. Look, about what I said before… maybe I was a little too rash, caught up in the moment. I think you deserve better than to…” You roll your hand.

Her eyes narrow. “Wizard, it took a lot of effort just to put the damn dress on and now you say this?”

You shake your head. “Oh, no no no, that’s not what I meant I just…” You look back. “Look just wait abit, alright? I’ll uh, I’ll get you something nice, okay?”

“If you’re talking about your-“

“I’m not talking about my cock, no.”

She sighs and turns away, entering her room again. “Fine Wizard, whatever.”

As the door closes, you zip over to the Hero and the Wolf’s room and lean down close to the door. As you get close, you hear the sound of repetitive motion, punctuated by grunts and moans with the occasional low barking. Yep, that’s fuckin alright you reckon. You take just one moment to consider that what you’re about to do might be wrong on some moral level.

You put the plan in motion anyway.

 

Chapter 114

 

You cast a quick [Privacy Barrier] around yourself and open the door a crack. In truth, you planned on drilling a hole in the wall, but they didn’t have the sense to lock up before going at it like dogs. Which they are, because Hala’s face is pressed into the bed, her backside thrusting in the air as Blake pounds at her with his flesh stick.

Focusing on Hala, you reach out to perform a [Fast Scan]. With a little effort, you twist on her humors, setting them to imbalance before you cast [Indigestion]. The effects are basically immediate as Hala lets out a long, painful howl, then slides of Blake’s dick and rolls over onto her back, clutching her belly. Blake takes this as a que and sliesd forward, performing the lewdest thing imaginable: sex in the missionary position

Hala, in agony, slaps the Hero upside the face, causing him to stagger backward as she jumps off the bed, holding her abdomen. You quickly close the door before walking away and setting yourself in a nonchalant pose, looking nothing more like a bystander. The door bursts open and a naked Wolf Girl runs out of the room towards the chamber pot. You watch as she runs, tearing open the door to the chamber and throwing a man, pants half to his knees, out before you hear moans of agony.

You look back to the room and see Blake, who had the decency to put pants on, if not a shirt to cover his rippling abs, stare out where Hala went, then over to you. You succeed at hiding your glee and furrow your brow. “Uhm. What the fuck was that about?”

Blake shakes his head and looks at a fresh claw mark on his chest. “I don’t know, we were just, ah, well, engaged in something, and she ran out of the room.” He looks down the hall to where she’s moaning. “Is that…?”

“Yeah, I think so. Honestly with all the raw meat she eats, it’s a wonder this doesn’t happen all the time.”

“I try to tell her not to…” He groans and rubs his head. “Think she’ll be okay?”

“Well…” You tap your chin. “In my professional opinion, she’s probably going to be out of it for awhile. Despite being a Monster, I think your uh… ‘engagement’ is off for now.”

Blake sighs when the door to Veronica’s room opens. “What in the name of Solos just-” She stops, staring at the shirtless Hero before blushing.

Blake looks back at her, his mouth slightly open. “Veronica! Ah, hi, sorry about the uh…” He coughs into his hand. “Where are you off to?”

“Just uh… going out for a little while.”

You cough into your hand as well and Blake looks down at himself before blushing himself. “Oh! Right, sorry, let me just get a shirt.”

Veronica shoots a glare at you though you just shrug in reply. Look at you, acting like a sly little minx, you devil you. Turning back to Blake, who is busy grabbing his shirt from a pile in his room, you cough again. He looks up and you shrug.

“You know, seeing as your little romp was cut short, maybe you should go with Veronica, see the town or something.”

“Wizard please, I can’t just leave Hala and-“

“Shhhh, I’ll take care of Hala, you go ahead. It sounds like you two haven’t seen each other in a long time before we went off on this quest, I’m sure you have things to talk about.” You point at a different, nicer shirt he has hanging.

He looks at it, then back to you before sighing and putting it on. Of course it looks great on him, the fucker could make meatloaf look good, but at least it’s nicer than some dopy tunic. He leaves his room, running a hand through his messy hair and making it immaculate, before smiling at Veronica.

“Hello.”

“Hello.”

They look at each other with awkward smiles before you cough and Blake starts. “Ah, well Veronica, since Hala is a little indisposed, I was wondering if you’d like some company tonight?”

Veronica’s eyes go wide and she turns her head away sharply, cheeks flushed. “No! Wait, I-I mean… if you want I guess that’s… fine.” She looks back at him out of the corner of her eye.

Blake smiles and walks over to her, proffering his arm. She looks at it with hesitation, then slowly takes his arm, drawing up next to him. The two start walking and Veronica looks back at you, mouthing, “thank you,” before they turn a corner and out of sight.

Planting your hands on your hips, you beam. Job well done! You just helped out Veronica, punished Hala, and made Blake’s love jumble even more jumbly. You’re a real artisan, you know that? Ah, but the fun doesn’t stop there, nope, you have more work to do! With a smirk, you saunter up to the chamber pot room and rap on the door.

“Dearest Hala, might you be alright in there?”

“Oh Gods, fuck you Wizard you shit eating sack of rotten dicks!”

“That’s not very nice to say to someone looking after your best interests.”

“I bet you did this you spineless fuck basket.”

“How does someone living in the woods have such a colorful mouth?”

“Stick it up your cloaca!”

“Okay that one doesn’t make sense.”

“Fine then, fuck y…oh Gods, here we go again!”

You hear very unsavory noises in the other room, so you cough into your hand. “Yes, well, that’s disgusting alright, but I can make this all just go away, all you have to do…”

You smile wickedly, “Is give me a little ‘wan wan.’”

Muffled groans reply from the other room. “F-fuck off.”

“It’s not so hard Hala, just a few little sounds and this goes all away.”

“Is this because of the… Nrrgh, the thing with Veronica in your bed?”

“Jackor’s will be done, but forget that. Think about how this might last for hours more, if you’re lucky.”

She whimpers in the other room. “F-fine.” You hear a rustling sound, her obviously fidgeting before you hear a soft, “Wan… wan…”

“I can’t hear you, you’ll have to speak up.”

“Wan wan.”

“Louder!”

The door bursts open, throwing you backward before a naked Hala pounces on your chest, her paws at your neck. “WAN WAN MOTHER FUCKER WAN!

You cough as she chokes you. With effort, you snap your fingers, placing her humors back into place. She visibly relaxes and slumps onto your chest, her naked form resting on you in all of her glory. You blush furiously and try to push her off, but she just breathes heavily on top of you, relief evident on her face.

The sound of footsteps comes from behind, and you crane your head to see the man from before staring wide-eyed while the innkeeper crosses her arms, her scowl practically enough to light a fire on its own. She grunts at you in a way much like an Oni.

Managing to pull Hala off you, you help her up, the Wolf Girl staggering to her feet, looking around drunkenly. At the innkeeper’s glare, you start laughing without any good reason, utterly embarrassed and terrified as you drag Hala to her room before shutting the door firmly. As soon as you get in, you exhale sharply and drop the wolf, who staggers over to the bed, falling onto it naked.

You stare at her swishing tail for a moment before you groan. “Damnit Hala, you couldn’t just collapse when you got back into your room, could you?”

“Fuck off Wizard, my ass hurts.”

“Guh. Fine, whatever.” You say, rubbing your temples. At least you got your holy revenge.

“Mrmph.” She turns over, still fully exposed though you’re sadly used to it at this point. “Where is Blake anyway? I’d kind of like him to finish what he started.”

“I think he left, believing you indisposed.”

She growls, “Damnit, I’ll have to take care of this myself then.” She cocks her head. “Unless you want to help- oh right, you can’t. You have that Wizard thing going on.”

You narrow your eyes, “What are you talking abou-” You cut off as Hala starts fingering herself with her long, furred fingers. She lets out a soft moan and you whip around.

“Gods damnit Hala, why the fuck are you doing that here?”

Not even stopping the lewd sounds behind you, she says, “Because this is my room and you rudely interrupted me, so what else would I be doing?”

“I don’t know, looking around the town or something, just, ugh, Gods.”

“You are such a Wizard, you know that? I can’t believe I found you attractive once.”

You pause at that. Yeah it made sense that she found you attractive on account of wanting to jump your junk, but you never thought of it more than just an animalistic lust, you know? To hear her say that is actually rather encouraging for some reason.

“Hala… look, I don’t know why you’re so aggressive these days, but you had to know something like this was coming.”

She goes silent for a few moments before she sighs and hops off the bed. You hear a few light footsteps behind you before a hand grasps your shoulder and flips you around, forcing you to stare at the bare naked form of the Wolf Girl again. You close your eyes, but she takes your hand and places it firmly on one of her breasts, her Monster strength keeping you from pulling away.

Hala sighs and nods before dropping your hand, walking away. You dare to open your eyes as she starts to don her town clothing. Confused, you look down at your hand, but see nothing out of the ordinary. You furrow your brow and look back to her. “Uhm. The hells was that about?”

“Just confirming something for myself. Look, I’ve lost the mood for this anyway, so I might as well prowl about.” She looks at you with a flat expression. “You can come if you want.”

Apparently the tables have been turned on you. “So you’re the one in charge now, hmm?”

“Of course I am, I’m the pack leader’s bitch.”

It hits you like a brick to the head.

The aggression, the open acts of sex, the stupid fucking antics… it’s been about fucking dominance. Hala had been securing her position with Blake, keeping everyone else away from him while making herself isolated. It’s ingenious, placing herself as needing his protection while getting ever closer.

That or she actually is an idiot and everything she did was because she couldn’t think things through. Damnit you just have to know if she’s actually some kind of ruse master now.

You rub your head and sigh, figuring you can confirm your suspicions if you follow her. “Yeah, sure, whatever.” Not like you have much else to do while your retainers stew together anyway. Your thoughts drift to the carnival and your mix of anger and sadness at being ditched.

Well, maybe having some company could be… fun?

 

Chapter 115

 

Hala sniffs as she finishes dressing before walking outside, you in tow. It’s readily apparent however that she has no idea where she’s going. Not wanting to say anything, you just wander through streets lit by bright, colored lamps in front of shops peddling all sorts of merchandise, as well as gambling halls, brothels, and restaurants. It’s a busy city, especially with the sun set and, despite your lack of any real direction, you maybe kind of enjoy looking at the city.

How far you’ve come.

Hala continues to act like some sort of leader, turning here and there with confidence in her steps. You shake your head as she turns you around a full block once, but whatever, the air is nice and you don’t really have to think or do much of anything. It’s sort of relaxing, especially compared to the past few days.

In time the Wolf Girl’s air of superiority vanishes in a puff of smoke after she leads you into a dead-end. She paws at the wall for a moment before groaning. Guess you confirmed yours suspicions that she actually is an idiot. A shame.

“Well shit.” She says, staring at the wall in front of her. “Who put this here?”

“Probably a construction crew I’d wager.”

“Not helping, Wizard.”

“I suppose not.”

She turns about and looks you in the eye. “Wizard, what is your problem?”

“I could ask you the same thing. You act without grace, have sex in public and are rude to everyone- Hells you’re not even a very good fighter. Honestly though, for a moment, I thought it was all a ruse, that you were playing people to secure your pack dominance.”

You rub your head and laugh, “Man, I actually thought you were some kind of genius for a second.”

She looks down and grits her teeth, “Maybe I’ve acted the fool and wronged you at times, and maybe that’s just who I am, and for that, I’m sorry.” When she looks up, defiance is in her eyes. “But I make no apologies for what I do in regard to Blake. I know that those other two want him, but I can’t let them have him, because…” She trails off, blushing.

“You love him, eh?”

“He treats me right. After I lost everything, after you… well, he gave me a family again, and I will not let anyone take that away, not you, not Tabitha, and especially not that Paladin.”

Oh hmm, interesting. You may have made a mistake earlier tonight then.

Gods, things were much simpler in your little house with your little Communion Matrix and your little mountain elixir. Hells, things were easier when it was just you and Blake! But beginnings are often easy and the rest is, well…

“Haha, look, some sorcerer and a mangy mutt are about to fuck in the alley!”

You both turn around to see a someone standing at the opening of your alleyway. Squinting your eyes, you find it’s a Hellhound, quite the rarity in this part of Deleor, and she’s got a shit eating grin on her face as she points at you.

She wears barely any clothing, just some tight-fitting undergarments of black cloth that nearly blends in with her dark black-brown skin and fur. The fires around her eyes flare bright as her black-sclera eyes mock you, the light of her eye-fires glinting off them and the baroque collar she wears.

The oddest part about this is that you recognize the Hellhound, which is odd since the only ones you’ve ever seen were at the… oh hells this was one of the Hellhounds from the parade in Sanctifrond.

You start to panic as a carbon copy of the first, this one wearing red clothing, walks up and puts a hand on her hips, eyebrow raised as she mocks you.

“Well well, looks like we interrupted what was to be quite the show. Oh no, please go ahead, pay us no mind at all.”

“None at all, we’re just here to watch.” The other says.

As they snicker, you hear the sound of a cane striking the cobbled streets. A group of people congregate about in the periphery behind the Hellhounds, but you suddenly hear a voice you can’t forget as it cuts through the night.

“Bitches, bitches, bitches, what I say about wandering off on yo own?”

The owner of the voice turns the corner to stand in the middle of the two Hellhounds, putting his arms around them. He smiles up towards you before his face goes blank, then into a murderous rage in mere moments.

“Aww hells naw, what’s this bitch ass Wizard doing here before Franz Jakovitch?”

You instinctively whip your hand out and cast [Fireball]. You do not give any fucks about anything because this is Franz Jakovitch, the crispest pimp to walk the lands. If you don’t burn his ass again, then shit is going to go down. Your alpha strike should be able to catch him off guard, light him up again and allow you to finish him.

Of course, it doesn’t happen that way.

Jakovitch raises his hands and catches the fire between them. The red-hot intensity of your magical fire seems to coalesce in a ball of energy in front of him, becoming more and more dense as he packs it together, gaining control of your fire like a baker making morning bread.

Your eyes go wide as he raises the ball of condensed flame in one hand and it grows larger and larger as he feeds more power into it. This is way more intense then what he had used before. You can practically feel the heat singing you, despite the distance.

He smiles, tipping his darkened spectacles with his other hand. “Well now, if that ain’t the sorriest excuse for a fireball I ever saw. Little thang probably couldn’t even singe a fly, could it bitches?”

Neither replies to his quip. Grunting, he snaps his fingers before one starts and says, “Oh! Right! Yeah, that fire was so piss poor I was actually a little chilly.”

The other Hellhound smirks and gave a small chuckle, “Oh dear, you don’t think that’s all he has do you? What a shame!”

They both laugh at you and you feel your blood rising in time with the heat coming off the fireball. Bitches trying to raise your anger eh? Well fuck them, it’s working. You stare at the fireball in Franz’s hand, seeing that he wants to gloat before throwing it, so you take the opportunity to [Fast Scan] him.

Aye, you see that inky darkness again and realize it’s similar in a way, but different than the Swamp Horrors. It clings on tight, but you try to shift his humors, considering casting [Cancer] on his eyes before pulling yourself back and only working to blind him. You can’t use that spell again, not so soon after Victoria.

Nothing happens. You blink and push again. Nothing happens again. You stare at him, blinking in shock. It’s like when you try to push against his humors, this… thing that’s killing him stops you cold, fixating it in place. You aren’t trying to work on humors at all, you’re working on… whatever this is.

And it’s pushing back.

Maybe with Harmony you could strike at this magic or something, but right now, you can’t make it budge, not without plenty of time and energy anyway- which you surely do not have now. When you look back into his eyes his shit eating grin is even wider.

“Aww damn bitches, it looks like the poor Wizard doesn’t even know what do against the mighty Franz Jakovitch.” He shrugs, the fireball winking out of existence with a popping noise and a whoosh of air. “Ain’t even worth roastin him yet. Bitches, go play with him first.”

The one in the black licks her lips and steps toward you, eye fires blazing hot. “Oh, don’t mind if I do, he smells delicious…” You take a step back, drawing forth energy for a [Lightning bolt] when Hala takes one step forward and drives her fist into the stomach of the Hellhound.

The Monster doubles over in pain, falling to her knees as the air is driven out of her. Hala kicks her upside the head, tossing her backward. The other Hellhound pounces upon Hala, her eye fires brightly lit as she sends the poor Wolf Girl crashing to the ground, the two rolling in a furious ball of fur and flame.

You whip back around to Franz Jakovitch and fire off your [Lightning Bolt]. Due to the nature of the spell, Franz only has time to make a small corona of flames about him that stops the majority of the spell, channeling energy in random directions. This raises shouts of panic from the crowd as energy discharges wildly, but he is unscathed

He growls as you take the opportunity to gloat this time while preparing another spell. “Well, I suppose there’s more than one way to fry bacon up nice and crispy, hmm?”

He pulls back his hands and fires forth twin streams of flame. You pull stool from your [Sack of Shit] and throw it out before you, creating a sheet of ice over it in an instant to form a [Defense of Defecation]. The flames lick over and around the shield, creating a burst of light and putrid stink around you.

Your shield holds well, despite the heat, but you soon hear a sizzling sound, followed by that of multiple high-pitched squeals as fractures appear all over the ice. You grit your teeth, ready to reinforce it, when another ball of flame hammers into the shield, shattering it into multiple pieces that explodes outward, forcing you backward in a stagger.

It’s amazing that only a few of the shards impact into Hala who, through most likely luck, had positioned the Hellhound on top of her, the black beast absorbing most of the ice and shit shards into her skin. The Monster gives a yelp of pain. Without hesitation, you take the advantage and grab the shitsicles logged into her with your magic and fling her at the bacon pimp.

You assume his eyes widen as the body of the bitch flies at him, because he takes a step back and dodges her, barely, before looking back to you while snarling. This is fine, because the distraction gives you time to shape the other fragments into disks, which you send spinning at him

The sharp disks of ice meet another wall of flame, but there’s no way he can stop all of them, and one carries him off his feet as it rams into his shoulder, flinging him back into the crowd of people. They make a circle around him as he quickly comes to his feet, his bitches loping back to him, dazed.

“BITCHES!” He screams holding out both hands. “Give me your power!”

Both of them hold out a paw as they become lucid again, and their eyes burning with fierce intensity. You can feel Franz Jakovitch channeling fire into his hands, a massive heat that drives the people back from him.

This…this is not something you’ll be able to stop on your own. Maybe with Harmony, yes, but right now you can’t stop this. If only you had a way to cut off that supply of mana, something outside the box-

Your eyes grow wide and you thrust your hand in your bag, pulling out [Victoria’s Head]. “You think your spell scares me Baconbitch? I have slain the stalker! The spider died at my hands! Look upon her and know that should you strike, your death will be short in coming!”

The Hellhounds around Franz gasp in unison and take a step backwards in recoil. Their energy cuts off and Franz screams as power channels through him without stabilization. An aura of fire appears around him, driving people backward, although the Hellhounds don’t seem perturbed at all. He shakes and staggers before punching the ground and causing jets of fire blossom all about him, sending up a column of heat and flame that forces you backward, hand over your face to protect you from the pressure and heat.

When it’s over, Franz kneels there, one hand on his knee, the other slammed into the earth as he pants. You can see his dark skin drenched in sweat while his robes are singed and burned, revealing his muscled physique underneath. He glares at you with his black eyes from under his spectacles which had slid down his snarling face.

“CURSE YOU WIZARD! You may have stopped my bitches here, but that trick won’t work again. I will destroy you utterly and without remorse!”

One of the Hellhounds helps him to his feet and you prepare for more spells, readying to finish him off when you notice all the people about, scared but utterly enraptured in the spectacle.

Shit, they’re starting to press in again and the Hellhounds are shielding the poor sorcerer as he recovers. You feel the presence of Hala next to you and in your peripheral vision you see that her face and half her skin is red from the heat, while the other half has claw marks on it. She doesn’t seem notice this, nor the fact that her clothing has been torn away, again, merely snarling, her lips pulled back, at the Hellhounds.

Tch, well, might as well end this without causing more damage.

“You’re beaten Jakovitch, and I’ll keep beating you every time.” You point at him with authority, “Why don’t you just take your little cock sleeves and leave my sight right now so you can die from the inside out where I don’t have to see you.”

The Hellhound’s eyes flash with anger, and they crouch readying to pounce when Franz Jakovitch speaks up,

“Bitches!”

The two look back at him with confusion as he stands, shaking his head. “Ain’t no time to throw down more anyway. Bitch did aight, aight, but we ain’t lettin him off that easy, hear what I sayin?” He glares at you again before adjusting his spectacles. “Oh don’t worry, we’ll be seeing each other soon, ya dig? You ain’t leavin this city alive.”

He raises a hand and snaps his fingers before walking away, the crowd parting before him. You watch as he goes, Hellhounds following behind, before you sigh and slump to the ground in relief.

 

Chapter 116

 

During the fight you felt fine, but now that it’s over the rush of adrenaline is leaving your system and you feel like a sack of bricks. Some relaxing you’re doing, huh?

Hala places a hand on your shoulder and basically pulls you back to your feet. She still has a rather feral look to her, especially since she’s covered in scratches and is mostly naked. Well this takes you back.

“We should have taken him down, the fucker tried to kill you!”

“Wouldn’t be the first time…” You mutter, looking around the crowd who is whispering to themselves and staring at the Wolf Girl with lecherous eyes. You sigh lay your hands on her, casting [Soothe] before taking off your robe, exposing your light under shirt beneath, and draping it over Hala.

She blinks and looks down, only then noticing that she’s basically nude. She draw the clothing in closer as she looks around the crowd, an uncharacteristic blush on her face.

“Blake told me to work on not being nude in public and here I go again.”

“It seems to be a common theme for you I feel.”

“Bite me Wizard.” She says, smile on her face.

You roll your eyes and sigh before nodding to the exit of the alleyway. The two of you start moving through the people. They disperse quickly, having lost interest now that the fight and the nudity are over. This time you lead Hala through the streets as she keeps up behind you. Sure, you were lost before and you’re lost now, but at the very least you’re moving as the night wears on.

Both of you are silent for a long while, neither feeling the need to say much as thoughts play in your mind. Franz Jakovitch is here and he wants to kill you, of course. It scares you to think of what that fire would have done had it been unleashed. Still, he knows that you’re here and if he finds you again, he might just obliterate you instead of all his posturing, which seems unlikely, but the thought makes your spine tingle.

You prepare to turn what is likely a familiar corner when you feel a furred hand tug at your own. Blinking, you turn back to Hala and see she has a look of weariness on her face.

“Hey Wizard, could we stop for a moment? Just need to get my breath.”

You raise an eyebrow at the Wolf Girl. She ran with you for hours in the forest without issue, but now she needs to a breather? Hmm. Oh well, she did just survive a mauling, might as well take a break- Gods know you need one too. Looking around, you point at a nearby shop and both go inside.

The store you chose is apparently a women’s clothing store. You feel the urge to turn right back around, but Hala’s eyes grow wide and she goes through the store, pursuing the wares while everyone else stares at her, incredulous. She doesn’t seem to mind however, her tail wagging through your robes as she looks through the clothing.

Hala stops before a light creme dress which hugs the hips and curves into a respectable bottom below the knees. She ponders it for a moment before shaking her head and turning about.

“If you like it, why not try it on?” You ask, curious.

Hala looks over at you, then the dress, her expression becoming a little sad. “Ah, well, it’s nice, but it’s not meant for someone like me. I mean, I did just shred the clothes Blake bought for me in Varruck. I’d just destroy this too.”

You rub at your head, tired. “Look, Hala, we just got finished squaring off against two Hellhounds and a mad, magically enhanced sorcerer. I think maybe only your clothing being broken means you got off pretty lucky.”

“Yeah, I guess so.” She looks up at you and shrugs, “You know, sometimes I wonder about you. Why do you even stay with Blake? Why didn’t you just run off with your little cat or whatever? It’s obvious you don’t care about this quest and I hate to say it, but you’re more powerful than Blake, even though you make some rather scary decisions. You could make a pack of your own instead of staying in his.”

Your eyes go wide at Hala’s surprisingly insightful questions. “Uh… What makes you still think Blake is the alpha?”

“Because he’s more than just might. He’s charismatic, compassionate, and duty bound.” She holds up a finger, “In the forest, that would make him unsuitable for his position, but what I’ve seen of humans, this makes him prime alpha material. The other two certainly don’t follow him because of strength alone, Wizard.”

You scoff at this, “That’s just rude!”

“It’s the truth!”

You point at her, “When did you suddenly become so well spoken?”

“Maybe when I had to start thinking about the future, alright!”

You both stare at her each as other patrons quickly file out of the store. Your eyes meet in a furious little exchange, neither giving ground before you finally sigh and look away. “I have a quest of my own, alright? Something I’m looking for in the mountains, that’s it.”

You level your finger at her again. “I don’t necessarily disagree with you, but I will say that you better think before you treat me like some kind of beta.”

Leaning in close you hiss, “Oh, and if you mention Selene in front of the others again, I’ll kill you.”

She blinks and then smiles widely, which makes you start, “Now that! That is alpha behavior!”

You roll your eyes and pull the dress off the rack before hurling it at her. “Just try it on.”

She takes it with an air of dignity she did not possess before and wanders off to change. You sit down and sigh audibly. An attendant gives you a knowing look, which earns her a glare.

A short while later, Hala returns, wearing the dress and… wearing it well actually. Her heat touched skin ruins the effect some, but the Wolf Girl’s fine figure complements the dress well and there is an interesting contrast between her dark hair and fur and the creme of the dress.

She does a little twirl and you shrug. “I think Blake will like it, at least.”

Hala sticks her tongue out at you and you smile, paying for the dress. Whatever, she deserves this much after what you did earlier and it’s fairly cheap for women’s clothing, you assume. You shrug back into your robes and leave the store with the clerk sighing in relief as Hala holds her arms behind her back and hums happily on your way back to the inn.

As you open the door to the inn, you see Tabitha siting at a table, alone, staring at a mug in front of her. She takes a swig of the liquid before setting it down and looking over both of you. She grunts, to which you just shrug.

“I’m going upstairs to wait for Blake, goodnight Wizard.” Hala says, before narrowing her eyes at Tabitha and leaving back to her room.

You watch as she leaves before you sigh and sit before the Lizardman. “Hey,” You begin, but she doesn’t answer.

“Uhm. How has your night been?”

She takes a gulp of her drink.

“So…. duel tomorrow, huh?”

“Yes.”

You pause, looking at her. She has her normal, flat expression on, but it just feels like she’s extra angry at you right now, which is totally unfair. Okay, maybe only a little unfair. You groan and begin to say something when the innkeeper slams another mug of ale in front of you like before. You look up at her again and it’s like the lakes of darkness in the hells, depths that would send a man to the heights of agony and fear.

You take a sip of the drink.

The innkeeper leaves, glaring at you, and you gulp before coughing. “Ahem, uhm, anyway, what crawled up your cloaca and died?”

“You know damn well we don’t have those.”

“Could have fooled me.”

She grinds her teeth. “You, this quest, Bake, everything. Everything crawled up by damn cloaca.”

She pauses and then shakes her head, sighing. “I’ve never dealt with this before, alright? When you killed that spider, letting your emotions get the better of you, it made me realize that I was on the same path. If I don’t let loose all these bottled up feelings in a duel against the Hero then I don’t know what will happen.”

You look at her, frowning. “I thought you hated me or something because of that, but instead you’re just… what, stressed?”

She sighs in exasperation, “Yes, I suppose that’s it then, stressed. And no, I don’t exactly hate you, I was merely disappointed and took it out on you. For that, I am sorry.”

“Well, thanks I guess.” You rub at your head. “So, you’re not serious about leaving the party, are you?”

“When have I never been serious, Wizard?”

You pause at that, of course she’s always serious. “Well… you have a point. But really, we do need you for this quest. Your sword skills are impeccable and honestly I think you’re the one most grounded in reality.”

“This coming from a Wizard.”

“EXACTLY!” You exclaim.

Tabitha just shakes her head and finishes her drink before starting on yours. “Look, I mean what I said. If Blake turns out to not be worthy, then I see no reason to stay here. Hala and Veronica are annoyances and again, I care little about whether the Monster Lady succeeds or not.”

“What if I asked you to stay?”

She blinks at you, emotion playing on her face for once that isn’t anger and she smiles slightly, “That’s cute, but no, not even that.”

You scratch at your forehead before raising the hand up in a sign of defeat. “Fine, whatever, if that’s your choice, I can’t force you, but think about it.” You stand up to go and look back at her, “There will be hells to pay if he does win though.”

She smirks and polishes off your mug, apparently not concerned that it might affect her tomorrow. “Now won’t that be interesting? Go on, the fights start at the second bell tomorrow.”

You nod your head and look up the stairs, sighing. It’s been hours since you left, so you hope that your retainers had time to be amiable or at least get tired, either would be good after the night you just had. Unsealing your room, you step into the darkness before casting a simple fire spell to light the room. Looking about, you locate your staff, the jar of magical foci that was pickling, and one sleepy rat.

“Good evening everyone.”

 

Chapter 117

 

There’s a general rustling in your mind as the others reply in answer.

{Oh why good evening dear Wizard.} Sends Harmony, her words oozing with honey in your mind.

{Ah, indeed, a fine evening, quite.} Sends Bubs, putting on a fake, refined accent.

{Indubitably, a fine evening.} Sends Chaika, dignity radiating off her in waves.

You look around at all of them and narrow your eyes. “What’s going on here?”

{Dear me, whatever could you mean?} Asks Harmony.

“You’re all too damn nice, and Bubs could never be that refined.”

{I say! I’ll have you know I dine on gruyere instead of cheddar in the garbage!} The rat scoffs.

You sigh and check on Chaika. Mmm not done sitting yet, damn. “What about you?” You ask her.

{I can’t fathom what you’re talking about.}

“I’ll give you some semen if you tell me.”

{Fuck this then. We all decided to act pleasant so you wouldn’t yell at us, now give me, give me.} Chaika sends, her voice like a hungry child.

You roll your eyes and cross your arms. “I thought so. Well at least you agreed on something so that’s a start anyway.”

A sense of abashment comes from them at your words, except Chaika who is mostly just pissed. You sigh and shake your head, “it’s fine though, it’ll take time to figure this all out. Besides…” You begin, gritting your teeth, “We have bigger concerns.”

You tell them all about your evening as the night wears on before you crawled into bed, gently falling asleep.

 

————————————————————————————–

The morning is uneventful for you and your three retainers. Chaika’s essence isn’t done absorbing the venom yet, but you pack her away in a portable container anyway. After this and otherwise preparing for the day, you leave your room before first bell, according to Bubs. Looks like you have plenty of time before the duel. You briefly wonder how Blake and Veronica’s little date ended up when you see Hala turn the corner, looking worried while wearing the dress from last night. When she sees you, she walks up in a hurry.

“Have you seen Blake? He didn’t return to our room last night.”

Your heart lurches and you look over at the door to Tabitha and Veronica’s room. You gulp and walk over, knocking on the door. It opens a few moments later and you see Tabitha wearing her undershirt, cap, and undergarments.

“What?”

“Did Veronica come in last night?”

“No, I didn’t see her, why?”

“Uhm. No reason.” You say turning away and biting at your finger.

“Okay… I’m going to head to the arena soon, and I need to get some things in order.” She closes the door, leaving you with Hala, who looks at you curiously.

“What’s that look for, Wizard?”

“Uhm.” You say, thinking things over. Oh shit. “Nothing much, I’m sure he’ll be back to get his armor any time now.”

Hala bites her lip. “I guess… alright I’m going to go wait for him again then.” She wanders back into her room.

As she enters the room, you hear the sound of footsteps and look over to see Blake and Veronica, blushing as they walk side by side. Their clothes looked disheveled and Veronica’s hair is messily put into a pony tail, as if in a hurry. When they see you, their eyes go wide and they step apart.

You just stare at both of them before groaning. “You didn’t.”

“Uhm.” Coughs Veronica, blushing. “We might have.”

You take a deep, shuddering breath before slowly putting your palms together in front of your face and stare at the two Order warriors like puberty-stricken teenagers before you. Closing your eyes, you think things over, rationally. Like some kind of Wizard or something.

So, these two were out last night in nice clothing while Veronica was aching to get some. And the man is Blake, the charismatic Hero who would put his dick in ANYTHING. Surely, surely they just lost track of time. Maybe they were a little drunk, decided to stay at a little place overnight and did not fuck each other like monkeys.

Surely.

When you open your eyes again you point shakily at Blake. “You. Go wash yourself and don’t tell Hala about this, you have a duel to fight.”

Before he can reply you point at Veronica, “And you, same thing. I hope you got this shit out of your system.”

Veronica takes a step forward, hands raised, “Wizard, look, it wasn’t anything like you’re thinking. It was a one time-“

You cross your arms. “Oh no no. That’s what they all say, and then wonder dick here causes trouble. Nope, nuh uh, I want nothing to do with this.”

Blake sighs and rubs at his head. “Look, it just sort of… happened. I’m sure if explain this to Hala reasonably-“

You shake your head furiously, like a cat is attached to your cranium. “Oh no nononononono, I am not dealing with that catastrophe waiting to happen. I swear to the Gods, I’m not dealing with your little love quadrangle bullshit, not this time.”

“But Wizard, you’re the one who told-” Begins Veronica, before you cut off her off.

“Yeah, and I fucked up, I fucked up real bad. Glad you’re all happy and satisfied but if he knocked you up ohohoho, no.” You turn about and head to your room, but only get a few steps before you’re stopped when Blake puts a hand on your shoulder and whips you around.

“Wizard…” He growls softly, genuinely angry. “You think this shit is easy for me too? You think I like leading these women around like this?”

“You didn’t seem to have a problem sticking it in Veronica last night, despite knowing Hala was waiting for you.”

He presses on his forehead with one hand for a long moment. “Yeah. I fucked up.”

“No shit you fucked up, no shit I fucked up. And now you’ll have to deal with the fallout from this duel on top of this.”

“I have a plan for that.” He says, brushing it aside.

“Oh, hmm, good, neat.” You reply, getting a little too worked up. “Oh, and Franz Jakovitch is back, and he’s mad after having his ass kicked again.”

Blake’s eyes go wide and he blurts out, “What? That sorcerer from Feldergrod?”

“Yep, the ol’ bacon pimp himself. He’ll probably try to incinerate me, you, bystanders, whatever, before we leave the town. Maybe in the arena? I don’t know.”

You throw up your hands, “I’m not sure I even fucking care right now! All this bullshit is getting to be too much! Fucking hells, maybe I should go my separate way!”

Blake punches you in the face. Hard.

You stumble backward, blinking in surprise. Did… did he punch you? Like, initiate violent force against you in a manner to make you be quiet? That just happened, right?

You look up at him as he stands there, not looking enraged or anything, just, well, annoyed. Maybe somewhat concerned, but mostly annoyed. Veronica steps up next to him and cocks her head, staring at you, then to Blake.

“What was that for?” She asks, confused.

He straightens his back as the doors to his room and Tabitha’s open, the occupants staring at the scene. Tabitha cocks her head and leans against the doorframe, arms crossed while Hala walks out, face concerned.

“Uhm, what’s going on?”

Blake ignores them and stares at you. “Wizard, I deal with a lot of your shit, literally at times. This quest isn’t easy, hells it’s practically suicidal! But when you get on my case about my life decisions, whether good or bad, it does not help anyone. This party is a team, and acting like this, you’re a liability.”

“You’re nothing without me!” You snarl at him, outraged that he of all people would dare speak with you like this. Did he not realize that he’d be dead multiple times over without you? That without YOUR magic, all of them would be dead? He clearly doesn’t have the strength, or the spine, to stand up against the Monster Lady on his own, and he says this?

Blake inclines his head. “Maybe so, but for now, I think you need to cool your head Wizard. Hopefully by the time the arena matches start you will be calmer.”

You narrow your eyes and look around at the three women and Blake. All of them, even Hala, look at you with what appears to be pity. After everything you’ve done for these ungrateful bitches…

“Fuck this.” You say, glaring at each of them in turn before you push past and head downstairs.

As you leave, you hear a sniffing noise behind you followed by a loud, “What the fuck?!” from Hala before a general commotion that was evident to follow this level of dramatic bullshit.

You don’t even care right now. Fuck that guy and fuck his drama.

Harmony pulses in your hand, {Wizard, are you alright?}

You grumble something unintelligible before walking out of the inn, door slamming behind you.

 

Chapter 118

 

It’s a bright and cheerful day, nary a cloud in the sky. Children laugh and play in the streets, sending up melodies of joy and good tidings while townsfolk go about their daily lives.

It makes you sick.

{Big guy? You’re kind of scaring me here, you’re not really going to leave them, are you?} Asks Bubs, popping his head out from your pocket.

“And if I am?”

{Well… I mean, I guess I’m going to take your side on this, but it seems a little…} He fidgets, searching for words, {Dangerous?}

{Oh pshaw.} Interjects Chaika. {The Wizard knows what’s best for him, just as that playboy knows what’s best for himself. The way he played that was quite masterful honestly.}

You furrow your brow, “What are you talking about?”

{He knew that there was going to be trouble afoot because of his actions, so he obviously made you get so worked up in the face of the others to give a common problem and help anchor him as he diffuses his other situation. Ingenious, but that man’s talents seemed geared toward this, no?}

You grit your teeth. “He… used me?”

{If you want it put it that way, then yes, he did.}

You take in a deep breath, shaking. He got you riled up, or perhaps he KNEW that you’d be riled up regardless and played that to his advantage. Maybe he figured that you’d just get over it, believe this to some sort of normal shenanigan of his and go back to how everything was before. Son of a bitch, if what Chaika said is true, then you really underestimated Blake.

For some reason you don’t feel so much rage as you do admiration for the bastard. Yeah, you’re sort of super pissed off, but Gods damn, that was quite the con he played.

{What are you going to do?} Asks Harmony.

“I’m going to continue being mad for awhile and then go to the arena to jeer at that asshole.”

{And after that…?}

You sigh, “I don’t know. It might truly be the best option to go on my own. Well, with you three of course.”

{Aww, that’s so sweet of you, including me.} Says Chaika, sarcasm obvious.

“I don’t need your lip right now.” You snap back before hesitating as a thought comes to you. “Actually, maybe I do need your lip. What do you know about darkness in humours?”

{Hora hora, that’s an odd question. You speak of this… Jakobitch?}

“Jakovitch, but that’s also good.”

{Hmm.} She thinks as you walk through the city. {Well, it sounds as if Tolosh, that conniving cunt, infused him with dark magic through her connection to Dollora. By doing his, his humors were not quite replaced, but saturated in this magic, enhancing his body.}

She seems to smile somehow, {Of course, all magic requires energy. Once cast to sustain even a divine spell, energy must be taken- in this case his life energy. The trick I believe to stopping this is to undermine the connection by severing the roots of the magic.}

“That sounds… complicated.” You say, confused. “I tried to manipulate his humours, but I couldn’t do anything.”

{Of course not, you were targeting the wrong thing! The darkness itself should have been your target!}

“I’m not… certain I know how to deal with that.”

{Well, fortunately for you, I do. Of course, as I said before, everything requires a price.}

You groan. “I’m already making you a dagger.”

{Yes, yes but this mana potion will only sustain short bursts of power, something like this needs much more.}

“I’ll think about.” You say, stopping at a bakery and purchasing some bread and cheese, chewing on it thoughtfully. It’s not quite a heated bread pouch, but it’s good all the same.

{Hey big guy? Don’t look now, but you’re being followed.} Sends Bubs in a whisper, despite the whole telepathy thing.

You immediately raise your head and look around to spot a black tail vanish into the crowd.

{Oh come on! I just told you not to look!}

“Well it’s instinctual!” You whine, watching where it went. “Well, I guess they know where I am. They’ll probably follow me again later, huh?”

{More than likely. I’ll keep an eye out, okay?}

“Thanks Bubs.” You look up as a bell chimes in the city, the first bell. Won’t be too much longer before the arena fights. At the very least you’ll be able to blow off some steam watching the fights or something. It isn’t like Franz Jakovitch would attack you in the Coliseum with all the people around, right?

You take a few unnecessary turns to avoid suspicion of where you’re going before you duck into a decrepit building and behind some cloth covered crates. Bubs informs you that no one followed, so you breathe out a deep sigh and pull out your [Plague Doctor Mask]. Well, since you have some time and a magical timekeeping rate, might as well finish this dagger. It’ll be therapeutic.

You take out the mixture you had made as well as the vial of [Matango Spores]. Licking your lips inside the mask, you slowly open the vial and immediately contain the spores before they can go anywhere. With delicate care, you take a few spores and add them to your foci mixture, smoothing them into the paste. Chaika grumbles as her vertebrate is pushed about, which means she’ll probably just love what comes next.

{What are you doing with that?} She asks in a nervous tone as you pull out a pestle.

“Transcending the boundaries of the Gods.”

{Oh.}

You crush the vertebrate segment into the mixture. Normally you figure this would straight up kill the bitch or… figment of the bitch, but the magically rich slurry allows her presence to stay in your mind as you mix it together, although she feels weaker and sort of hollow. You quickly add in some more [Concentrated Mana Potion] and mix until the solution is a pure, sticky paste.

Grinning, you pull out the unfinished dagger, adding in the mixture like before with the [Wightbane]. It melds into the dagger without much issue and you pack it in tightly before applying low heat to accelerate the process of drying. As you do so, you slowly feel Chaika’s consciousness grow from the blade.

{Nrrgghhh… I… What?] You feel from Chaika as she comes to. {This is… odd. I feel connected to something yet…}

{You get used to it.} Sends Harmony, {It’s strange at first, but you get used to it.}

“Guess it worked, huh?” You say, staring at the blade.

{Hmm.} Sends Chaika before you feel a wave of dark energy pulse from the blade, causing you to drop it in alarm. You stare at the dagger as it pulses and you hear a low chuckle in your head before the power dies down.

{Oh yes, this will do.} She sends with a wicked tone.

Maybe just giving her semen would have been safer in the long run.

 

Chapter 119

 

{Uhm, yeah, hate to interrupt this disturbing moment, but the fights are going to start soon.} Sends Bubs.

You groan and scoop your stuff up, placing Chaika into a secure pocket before heading out quickly to the Coliseum. It’s not a long trip, and Bubs feels confident you weren’t followed, before you make it to the circular structure.

The building is immense in its size and built in an ancient style based on old Lizardman designs taken during the second Monster Invasion. It managed to withstand multiple invasions due to bribery and tenacity, a testament to the undying passion of combat.

You manage to work your way through the crowd around the building without much trouble as you make your way up the stairs to the seating. As you crest the top, inside you see the vastness of the structure firsthand as multiple thousands of people fill the stands, cheering on as the opening ceremonies finish, musicians and fighters leaving the golden sands of the oval arena.

You look around and find an empty seat, pressing through people while Chaika begs you to stab just one person. She uses very sweet words like, “please” and “I won’t kill you if you do!” What a charmer. Regardless, you find a seat easily enough and sit down to watch as the crowd roars around you.

The first fight is an Ogre versus a Tiger Girl. It’s interesting you suppose, the speed of the Tiger Girl allowing her to avoid the Ogre’s club without much issue while dealing small blows here and there. Unfortunately her speed doesn’t mean everything as she slips at one point, the Ogre taking the advantage to grab her opponent and swing her around and around before letting her loose. The Tiger Girl flies up and over the arena to slam into something invisible before falling back to the ground in a heap.

You narrow your eyes and look with your [Mage Sight] to see a barrier erected with multiple pylons and kept going by sorcerers, forming a very, very powerful magic shield. So this is how they have magical duels without people dying eh?

The next match is Tabitha versus a human swordsman. The fight isn’t even a contest. The man charges the Lizardman and, in one swipe of her sword, he finds himself laying on the ground, clutching a wound at his chest. It’s not fatal, but damn does it probably hurt. The Lizardman just calmly sheathes her sword and turns back the way she came, coat fluttering behind her.

Your eyes narrow as the next battle turns out to be Blake versus… a Minotaur. How cliché. The creature is armed with an axe, and she bellows when she sees Blake, causing the whole arena to erupt into cheers. This fight might very well just knock Blake out of this. Goshes, with that strength and size, he might just end up dead! Would serve him right.

“Oh, I wouldn’t worry about Blake.”

You start and look behind you to see Veronica, decked in her full armor, sit down next to you. You grasp for words before looking about for Hala, though you can’t find the Wolf Girl.

Veronica raises an eyebrow at you then nods her head. “Oh, the wolf. Yeah, she got rather mad when she smelled us, but Blake… I don’t know what he did, but he made us more worried about you and the ‘validity of our quest’ than Hala’s little rage.”

She shakes her head. “Guess I’m a homewrecker. Solos I hope I can-“

You hold up a finger, “I was serious when I said I don’t want to hear this bullshit.”

She smiles wearily before pointing at the arena. “There, see? I told you.”

You look down at the match and blink in surprise. The Minotaur is being pushed back by Blake who is expertly parrying, dodging, and thrusting against her blows. He strikes out with his shield, unbalancing the larger Monster, then slashes with Lionsedge, driving her to her knees as the blade bites into her legs. As she falls, he places the sword at her neck, staring into her eyes. The Minotaur growls, then hangs her head in defeat.

The crowd goes ballistic at the unexpected event and you even have to raise an eye brow. He was never anywhere near this good in battle before, as evidenced by you having to constantly save his ass over and over. What gives?

“Yeah… It’s odd, isn’t it? The man’s track record in real battle is less than stellar, but put him in the controlled environment of a duel and he’s unbeatable.”

You look sharply at Veronica. “Wait, he actually DID beat Tabitha?”

She raises an eyebrow, “Of course he did, although she made him work for it.” The Aspirant sighs. “It’s going to be something though when he wins. He can’t lie about it this time.”

She shrugs, “Of course, not that you care.”

You look down as Blake bows, then walks off the field, the other matches starting soon after. They’re interesting at least and watching them keeps your mind off other things- mostly how in the hells Veronica found you in this crowd, but whatever. You still haven’t decided to come back to the group or anything.

Around the time you have this thought you notice Tabitha walk onto the field. Looking at the opposite side, you’re not surprised to see her opponent be Blake. Looks like it finally came down to it, huh? Well, regardless of the outcome, you hope Blake gets at least a little beat up. That would be nice.

The two square off as the audience cheers, their voices almost deafening in your ears. Veronica joins in on the noise as well, which doesn’t help your ears at all. You do, however, clearly hear the voice of a certain rat inside your head.

{Hey big guy? I think I just got a whiff of some crispy hounds and they… yep they’ve spotted you.}

You grit your teeth and see through Bubs’s eyes the position of the Hellhound. Despite being hidden in the crowd, you see her eyes locked directly on you, studying your movements. It’s the one in the red clothing- her sister or cousin or whatever the hells they are, likely nearby in the stands.

She doesn’t immediately move to attack or find Franz Jakovitch, instead putting on a curious expression as she watches you. Well… as long as she’s not attacking, then it’s probably fine, right?

You feel a slight push on your shoulder. When you shake back into your body you see Veronica looking at you funny.

“You okay there Wizard?” She asks, eyebrow raised as she pushes your shoulder again.

You shake your head before putting up a hand. “Yeah, yeah I’m fine. I just think I’ve attracted some unwelcome attention.”

“Is it that Hellhound that’s looking at you?”

You look at Veronica, dumbfounded. “How…how did you?”

“Wizard, she’s a Hellhound, they kind of stick out.”

{She’s kind of right big guy.} Chimes in Bubs, who is most certainly NOT helping.

“Well, what did you do to her?” The Aspirant asks, looking over at her.

You push Veronica’s view aside, which is a stupid thing to do because it draws MORE attention to your situation, but oh well, too late. The deed is done and you can only watch as the Hellhound bolts away through the stands.

“Damnit.” You curse, standing up. “That Hellhound was with Franz Jakovitch.”

“Jakovitch? That guy you fought in Feldergrod? Blake told me about him and how you started a gang war or something.”

“Ugh, that wasn’t my- Uh, look, that’s something for another time. He’s here and he wants me dead, and he’ll kill all these people to do it.”

Veronica’s eyes narrow and she stands up with you, nodding toward where the Hellhound was running toward. You both give chase, pushing through crowds of people who curse at you as the fight below commences. You distantly hear the current Lord of the arena, a thin man with a pencil mustache and elaborate robes named Count Gabralto address the crowd.

“My, what a day of spectacles we have seen here today. Truly, fights worthy of the Gods themselves!”

The crowd cheered in unison, their blood pumped and ready to watch the two fighters go at it. You can feel the blood boiling in the arena and your efforts to move through the stands became harder and harder to pull off as people stand in anticipation.

“Now, as we stand before our finalists, let us give praise to those who fell before, that we may honor their defeat upon which victory stands! To do so, my wife, the lovely Jadde will speak the ancient words of glory!”

You spare a glance across the arena to the lord’s box and see an immensely corpulent Slug Girl sitting upon a reinforced couch. You have no idea how she even got on that fucking thing, but she giggles as a sorcerer walks forward and cast a small spell to amplify her voice. You flick on your [Mage Sight] instinctively, catching the weaves of power. Oh, interesting, it was basically a reversal of the [Privacy Barrier]- you can use that!

It’s impossible not to hear her loud and clear as she gurgles, “Oggotta nogradono da lo Solo go cheeka!” She licks her lips and you shudder, almost tripping over someone as they stand and cry out with furious energy. They do not look amused as you bumble past and Veronica shoves you forward, breaking your view to the Monster across the arena.

“NOGOOTA!” She cries as everyone goes fucking ballistic, one heavy-set Holstaur jumping up and slamming you off your feet into another crowd of people with her large… tracts of land. You about fall into a rowdy gang of people before Veronica grabs you and pulls you to your feet. You nod at her in thanks, looking for your quarry.

Your eyes brush past the battle on the sands and you can’t help but pause and watch.

Tabitha makes the first move, dashing toward Blake, her scaled feet throwing up sand. Blake stands his ground, sword and shield held at the ready. He anticipates her strike and blows, flowing with a slash of his own, pushing the Lizardman backward. She twirls past his backslash and presses inward, readying to-

You catch sight of the Hellhound again. It appears that she had gotten bogged down by a Lizardman whom Bubs assures you smells like mint. She’s trying to fight her way out of it but is having a difficult time, on account of Lizardman. Taking the opportunity, you raise Harmony at the Hellhound and begin channeling magic. Before you can get started, she looks back at you and curses, pushing past the Lizardman and dashing into a hallway leading to the outer complex.

You point to Veronica, but she’s already started pushing toward that area. Shrugging, you go, breaking free of the crowd and hurrying through. As you move into the hallway, you chance a look back at the arena floor and see the duel before you.

Tabitha’s coat is off, revealing a short undershirt underneath. Her cap had come off her head, exposing a length of immaculate brown hair that flows in time as she lashes forward with a blow to strike at Blake. He parries the strike off his own blade, having discarded his shield in favor of wielding Lionsedge two handed. He expertly twists off her blade and drives a slash at her which she leaps over in crazy, eastern theatre-esque trick before landing a few steps back. You can’t see her face from this distance, but you can swear she’s beaming with joy.

The scene is broken as you enter the less populated outer ring and look about for where the Hellhound went. In this area she could probably go on all fours and take off in a hurry, allowing her to cover ground quickly.

A man rubbing his shoulder and cursing to himself catches your attention. Both you and Veronica nod before running in that direction.

You dash past him, the man giving you an incredulous look as you pass with an armored woman in tow. The sounds of paw pads hitting the floor come to you, yet you cannot see the Hellhound just yet. You push for an extra burst of speed, turning around a bend only run right into someone wearing a red robe.

Both of you fly forward into a heap, crashing to the ground and sending out cries of alarm from the people nearby as a group of Coliseum security barrel toward you. Groaning, you start to stand on your own before you’re bodily picked up and restrained. You pull at the people holding, stopping when you notice who you ran into.

“JAKOVITCH!” You growl.

The Sorcerer is also restrained by the guards and he glares at you with malevolent rage, pulling at his captors. “WIZARD!” He shouts as you feel the air around you start to heat up.

Veronica comes to a halt next to you as the Hellhound prepares herself to fight next to Jakovitch. The guards look at them carefully as more security begins to pile into the arena, swarming you. You look about between them and Jakovitch as you both come to the same conclusion.

I can’t kill him before they kill me!

 

Chapter 120

 

“Troublemakers, in my Coliseum?” Says a dry voice from the press of guards.

You look over and see a guard in a finer outfit, wearing a large, peaked cap. He looks between you and Jakovitch before raising an eyebrow. “My, I know that look. One of you must have lost a bet or something and is trying to dodge payment, oh how delicious.”

“It ain’t that you mutha fucka.” Growls Jakovitch, earning himself a quick slug to the gut. He coughs for second before the heat around him intensifies and the guard captain raises an eyebrow.

“Oh ho ho, we got ourselves a couple of sorcerers here. Hmm, you know, I think we haven’t had a magical duel in sometime, have we?”

“Sure wut ain’t we won’t.” Says one of the guards holding you.

“Yes, that sounds like ample punishment, doesn’t it?”

You and Jakovitch look each other in the eyes before snarling.

“Just what I was about to suggest.” You say, anger spiking

“Saves me the trouble,” Growls Jakovitch.

“Wait wait wait, this is crazy.” Interjects Veronica as she puts her hands on her hips, glowering, “This man is under suspicion of violent crimes of magic as per the Order statute-“

The captain breaks out into a small chuckle. “Darling, that’s cute, but the Order has no power here. If you feel so inclined to interject, you can fight as well.”

He points at the Hellhound who is making low growling noises now, her eye fires flaring softly. “You, fire tits. You can fight with your fuck toy there. Make a proper two versus two.”

“That’s ludicrous! You can’t force people to fight to the death for amusement!” Veronica says, hand drifting to her mace.

The captain saunters close to her and grabs her by the chin, placing a knife there. “This isn’t Sanctifrond girl, here I can do whatever I want.” He smirks and then flips about, throwing a hand in the air. “Take them to the waiting rooms. Let Count Gabralto know there will be a special encore fight.”

The guards run off, hustling you and Jakovitch in different directions before either of you can cast a spell to annihilate the other. Damnit again.

It’s a short walk to the waiting chambers below and you could hear the roar of the crowd through the door leading to the arena. It seems the duel is still going on. Man, they’re fighting for what, like ten minutes? How can they still swing their swords like that?

Two guards are posted on you and Veronica, the latter of whom fumes as she grips her mace. The guards seem utterly unfazed by her, apparently used to this sort of thing. Honestly, how do you find yourself in these situations?

A viewport in the side of the room allows you to look out onto the fight. Taking the opportunity, you figure you might as well watch as you wait for your own grudge match.

Blake and Tabitha look like they were dragged through the dirt by a pack of angry Centaurs. Both sport multiple cuts and bruises from their battle, each panting heavily as they pace around each other. It’s clear to you that you missed quite the fight, which kind of makes you angry. Stupid bacon pimp. Your attention becomes fixated on the fight however as Tabitha makes the first move.

Her lunge, while exceptional despite her condition, is ultimately a mistake. As she pushes in, trying to break through Blake’s space to move into a better position, the Hero levels his blade and allows her to slide across it. Tabitha, unable to stop her momentum in time, opens her eyes wide in shock as she realizes what she’s done. In a swift, fluid motion, Blake moves his wrist and expertly breaks Tabitha’s hold upon her blade, sending it flying into the air to land in the dirt, point up, before falling into the sand.

Both duelists pant heavily as they look in each other’s eyes. Tabitha slowly sags to the ground, her knees sinking into the soft sand as Blake places the blade to her throat. The crowd grows deathly quiet as they await what will happen next.

Tabitha, despite losing the battle smiles wider than you’ve ever seen from her. Still panting, she takes a quick swallow of air before shouting at the top of her lungs, “Blake Beauregard Boudreaux! You have… Haha… bested me! Do me the honor now… Hah… of marrying me!”

The crowd goes utter monkey fruit, jumping up and down as the intensity of the fight leads to this. They scream in raw, pent up energy and drama and the whole arena SHAKES as they stamp their feet in glorious exultation. It isn’t every day someone proposes on the blood sands!

The cheering lasts for a full three minutes and seven seconds, as per Bubs. You notice that Veronica is standing next to you as you watch, straining to hear what happens next. You roll your eyes and look back, wondering what Blake’s master plan is, assuming he has one.

{He does.} Sends Chaika. {Oh that one has plans for everything.}

You ignore her, watching Blake as he looks about the arena, waiting for everything to die down. As soon as the noise becomes a dull roar, he slowly retracts his sword, sheathing it in its scabbard before taking a deep breath and looking Tabitha in the eyes.

“No.”

 

Chapter 121

 

The crowd goes silent.

No one moves as the single word echoes in the arena, the audience stunned by the simple power of it. Then, as if water bursting from a dam, they lose their shit again, booing and jeering at Blake with the full force of jilted voyeurs. They throw things, which is silly as the magical barrier is in place, yet their words are much harsher.

The Hero doesn’t seem to mind as he looks down in the Lizardman’s eyes. You’re surprised to see her still smiling brightly. She shrugs and says something you can’t hear before Blake nods, sighs, and then offers her a hand. She takes it, standing up and looking over the crowd, nodding at them, then back to Blake. The two head toward the door after she grabs her sword, the mass of angry fans roiling behind them.

You look over as the door to the arena opens and the two step into the waiting chamber. When Blake sees you however he takes a step back, shocked.

“What the-? Wizard? Veronica? What are you doing here?”

Veronica sighs. “The Wizard here picked a fight with that sorcerer and security is forcing us to duel.”

He blinks, rubbing at his head, “Wizard that’s-“

You hold up a hand, “Yes, it’s reckless and irrational to-“

“It’s brilliant actually. Fighting in a controlled area such as the arena would allow you to have your battle with minimal collateral damage.” He smiles. “I guess having some time to calm down really helped.”

You give him a flat stare. He smiles back.

“You can’t be this dense.” You say, rubbing at your eyes.

His expression changes exhaustion as he looks out to the field, the attendants combing it while the Count announces the next duel. He sighs and looks back to Tabitha and Veronica before nodding at you.

“No, of course not, but despite how circumstances lead you here, it ended up being for the best.” He looks at you with knowing eyes and you glare at him.

“For the best huh? The best for whom?”

“Everyone, Wizard. I know my actions may seem strange to you, Gods they seem strange to myself at times, but back in Derrick, when I asked if we were friends, I was glad at your answer.”

He shakes his head. “Not that I deserve it I suppose. I’m sorry.”

Your eye twitches. The fuck was… where the hell did this come from? You can’t even get mad at the guy as this is just confusing! Briefly, you wonder if the fucker is some kind of sorcerer because Gods damn that was some magic messing with your head.

{He’s not a sorcerer.} Says Chaika, pulsing with interest. {But he does have wonderful spunk, in both senses of the word. I don’t feel so bad being decapitated by him.}

“Anyway, we can talk about this more after you deal with the sorcerer.” He turns to Veronica. “You’ll be alright?”

She sniffs, “Do you even have to ask? By the way, what did you say to the Lizard after the duel?”

He blinks and looks back at Tabitha, who smirks. “Nothing much. She threatened to chase me to the ends of the earth until I agreed to marry her.”

“And if that requires us to kill a Monster Lady, then so be it.” Tabitha says, nodding. “I’ve waited before, so I can continue to wait until he sees reason. I will be patient with his faults.” You’re certain you see her eye twitch at that and know what it means.

Blake shrugs, rolling his eyes, obviously not entertaining that thought before wiping some sweat from his forehead. “Quite. Now then, good luck you two! We’ll be watching from the stands.”

“Oy, dun you wun yo winnins?” Pipes up one of the guards.

Blake looks at him and nods before smiling sheepishly. “That first I guess. Better find Hala too.”

You wave your hand dismissively as you remove Bubs from your pocket, nodding at him. “Yes, yes, I have work to do.”

“Good luck, I mean it.” He says before nodding to Tabitha, the two following one of the guards out.

You hear a loud roar of the crowd from behind and you look out to see an attendant rasp at the door. One of the guards nods and opens it before pointing at you and growling. You roll your eyes and remind yourself to make him shit himself in the near future before stepping out onto the sands.

The full force of the cheering assaults your ears. Your eye twitches in response before you take a breath and ready yourself. Franz Jakovitch and his Hellhound are already on the sands as you approach. His gaze settles on you and he sneers. Your reply is to stick out your tongue. He takes a step forward as the amplified voice of the Lord of the arena comes over the Coliseum.

“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you our special performance today! A magical duel that will rock your heart and steal your breath as powers far beyond our comprehension vie for dominance in the sands!”

The crowd roars in approval as he continues. “Despite the raw power, worry not! For our team of expert sorcerers have erected an even more powerful barrier than normal, to keep you safe from any stray magic. Your enjoyment and safety are our top concerns of course!”

You look down at Harmony and nod to her. A strong pulse of excitement comes in reply followed by a cool indifference trying to hide glee from Chaika. These two, you swear.

More cheering comes as the sounds of the [Amplify] magic shift. You wince as you hear a loud, wet sound echo from the Slug Girl.

“GOOBADA!”

You can’t speak slug, but you’re pretty sure that means, “Start.”

 

Chapter 122

 

Horns blare a discordant tune as the battle begins. You look to Jakovitch and curse as you see him already casting fire at you. You quickly create a wall of [Ice] before jumping to the side, the fire smashing your hasty wall apart in melting chunks. You point Harmony at the man, channeling a [Lightning Bolt] through her.

He weaves a wall of flames, prepared for your attack this time and absorbing the energy before sending the wall flying out toward you in a wave. You counteract by sending out your own, smaller wave of fire, which contacts his and makes a small opening, allowing you to dodge through it, the intense heat of the flames making your sweat, but not burning you.

As you come to your feet however, you notice the furred shape of the Hellhound pouncing at you from the wall of flames. Hidden by the heat, she slams you into the ground, laughing as her ridiculous strength latches onto your arm. You can feel your muscle straining as she grins wickedly. Her joy is short lived as she quickly looks up and jumps back in disgust, a mace flying through the air where she just was.

Veronica charges in over you, yelling as her armored form presses the Hellhound back, giving you the chance to roll over and get to your feet as Jakovitch casts another fireball. You barely avoid the attack, rolling again and casting [Ice] at his feet.

He growls and diverts attention to melting the ice, allowing you to gain your footing and channel your magic into a powerful [Lightning Bolt] amplified by Harmony. Together, you fire the bolt, and the cascade of energy flies toward the other practitioner.

Jakovitch sends up a corona of flame again, but electrocuted by the raw power of the spell. He drops to his knees, gasping. You take the opportunity to toss another his way, but he raises a hand, which glows red with fire, and the electricity seems to catch there. The raw power of your spell spits and cackles on his hand as it rolls over him, discharging in the flame.

You began to prepare another [Ice] to slow him down when the Hellhound flies out in front of you, blood trailing in the air as she hits the sand, hard. The Hellhound rolls onto all fours and snarls as blood trails from her lip. Holy hells, did she just get hit in the face by that mace and survive? Veronica isn’t all glowy at the moment, but by the Gods that’s impressive.

Jakovitch, taking his own opportunity, begins to channel energy in one hand while muttering to himself before pointing and firing pinpricks of fire at Veronica.

You shout in warning but the Aspirant doesn’t have time to dodge. The small bursts of fire ping against her, igniting her exposed cloth and scorching the armor plating it touches. Thankfully it doesn’t hit her exposed head, but she still utters a cry of alarm and takes a step back, trying to put out the flames.

Unfortunately, this gives the Hellhound enough time to pounce on her.

This diverts your attention to helping Veronica, but you hear a cry of alarm from Harmony and look up to see a sphere of pure fire roll onto the sands before you. Your stomach drops and you scrabble backward as you realize what you’re seeing. Fucker charged up a fire bomb. Oh boy.

You throw up a hasty wall of [Ice] and turn around as the explosion sounds. Thousands of tiny shards rain into you, pelting your robes with their glass-like edges, piercing in some places and causing you to scream out in agony as you stagger forward, your back pulsing with pain. Gritting your teeth, you turn about to see Jakovitch juggling two more of the bombs in both hands.

“That looks like it hurt Wizard! Let’s see how much more pain I can cause you!”

Your eyes go wide as he tosses another one and you quickly point at the projectile and cast a [Fireball] The two connect and detonate, causing a pressure wave that pushes you backward and the two women on top of each other as heat washes over all of you.

Jakovitch snarls and raises the other one, but you focus on the ball and channel through Harmony [Dispel Magic]. The core of the spell comes undone, causing Jakovitch to blink in surprise as his spell vanishes into nothing.

You spare a glance to Veronica and see the Hellhound savagely swipe at the Aspirant, her armor turning aside the blow but staggering the woman due to its strength. The Hellhound pounces as Veronica goes off balance, teeth bared. Her fangs meet only holy steel however, and Veronica’s eyes begin to glow a soft yellow as she shouts and pushes the Monster back. Taking her mace in both hands, she swings it at the torso of the monster, sending the hound back multiple feet in a heap, gasping to breath and clutching at her chest.

Jakovitch looks at the fallen bitch and sneers. Veronica comes to stand next to you as you wipe sweat from your brow and assess the situation.

Okay, so Jakovitch is much stronger than you thought, and he’s wary of your antics. This is fine, it just means you needed an opening. The best way to get that is either having Veronica attack or break his concentration.

You opt for both.

Taking control of your magic you cast the [Amplify] you just learned and shout loud and clear, “Franz Jakovitch! You’re nothing but a pathetic welp who clings to the image of power granted by giving up your soul! I told you to let it go, but you didn’t! I’m giving you one more chance. Surrender or face my magic!”

The crowd goes apeshit at this. Good for them. Glad they’re enjoying the show, because you’re really working out here for them. You glare at Jakovitch with a cool expression and he screams, his voice echoing in the Coliseum despite no magic being cast,

“You ain’t nothing you mutha fucking bitch! I’ll burn yo ass into the dirt!”

You sigh and point at the Hellhound with Harmony. “So be it.”

You cast [Indigestion]. The Hellhound drops, clutching at her stomach as her eye fires flare brightly. Jakovitch’s eyes grow wide and he takes a step back as Veronica charges him, forcing him to focus on her. This allows you plenty of time to get into position and channel up your will.

It’s at that moment that you hear a cry of alarm, followed by a popping of your eardrums and a rush of magical energy around you. Holding your head in pain, you look about and see that the magical barrier has been broken, one of the mages supporting it falling into the arena, dead. From where he fell, you see the second Hellhound leaping down onto the field with a cry of, “Sister!”

Parts of the crowd begin to panic, while others increase their cheers as a new competitor enters the arena. Veronica’s push into Jakovitch is cut short as the second Hellhound slams into her, sending the woman flying. The Monster dashes to her downed sister’s side and picks her up, obviously more worried about her than about finishing Veronica.

Jakovitch snarls when he sees her, “Good! Bitches, give me your power, now!”

The two look at each other and nod as the sorcerer runs to them and begins to channel his big spell again. Veronica picks herself up, but too slowly to be of any use. You snap fire a [Lightning Bolt] but the power hits the heat about them and discharges wildly, sending people fleeing from the nearby stands as electricity smashes into the stone, sending up chips of rock.

“Fuck me…” You growl, raising Harmony. So, spells won’t work while he’s like this and the heat is too intense to run in and stab him, so that leaves…

Plagamancy.

You perform a [Fast Scan] and find the darkness in the humors again. “Chaika, I need your help.” You say as you isolate an effective humor in the chest. The dagger considers you before replying indifferently,

{Not much I can do without giving me something to work with.}

“Just tell me what to do.” You growl.

{Bah, just get underneath the damn thing with your magic and tear it out. There could be some side effects though.}

“Such as?”

{Killing him, for one.}

“I don’t see that as a bad thing.”

{Hmm, I suppose not. However, this doesn’t seem quite normal to me, I think you had best-}

{No time!} You shout in your mind before isolating the connection to a humour and prying at the darkness. It resists you fiercely, fighting back as you strike through Harmony, amplifying your power. You feel it slowly give way, tendrils sliding off one by one until, with a resonant snapping noise, you feel the darkness let loose and break away, freeing the humour.

Jakovitch staggers, his spell going out of control as he loses focus from the sudden outburst inside him. You continue to [Fast Scan] but you see something… off. The darkness you extracted is writhing somehow, like it’s alive, and all the rest of his humours are doing the same. It feels like he’s is being torn apart by these rampant humors. Looks like Chaika’s warning that this could kill him was true.

Except it wasn’t.

Jakovitch screams as power once more floods into him from his spell and you could feel it suffuse into his body. This time though, he doesn’t discharge the spell, but instead seems to drink it in as his body begins to shift and twist. He cries in agony and you take a step back, horrified at what you’re seeing.

“Chaika… what the fuck is this?”

{Shhh, I’m watching.}

“No, seriously, what the fuck is going on here, you never said he might-“

{Be quiet you insolent fool!}

You stare at the dagger before looking back to see the man’s flesh catch fire and blacken, his clothing burning away. His spectacles fall and around his black eyes, dark lines of red radiate like magma. He breathes in and out as the fires around him increase in intensity. Even the hellhounds take a step back, their eyes wide with shock.

“The High Priestess never said anything about this!” The one in black whines as she drags her sister with her to the exit.

“Fuck me, I was only here because he was a decent lay, I’m not staying around for this!”

You watch in rapt fascination as Jakovitch’s body becomes suffused with heat and darkness. This thing isn’t human, Monster, or anything in between. It’s a being of pure power and hatred, fueled by the gifts of a dark Goddess and channeled by the lingering rage of a dying man.

Wizzzzaaaaarrrdddddd.” It hisses, the sound like that of a sparks crackling off a fire.

You gulp and take a step back as Chaika sighs in your pocket. {Should have listened to me. Oh well, guess its time to die again!}

Veronica staggers up to you, shaking her off daze as the light reappears around her. She takes in the creature before her and clenches her jaw. “He’s become an abomination… The two of us have to destroy him.”

“No, not just you two.”

You look behind to see Blake, Tabitha, and Hala run up to you, taking up battle positions. They all nod at you, Blake giving you a smile before turning to the thing that was Jakovitch. Taking a deep breath, you nod and clutch Harmony in your hand tightly, channeling your will through the resolute core of the staff.

The crowd screams in a mix of terror, fear, and anticipation as they try to flee, but are captivated by the scene before them. Some are even at the edge of the arena, their knuckles white from holding onto the edge of their seats despite their fear.

Narrowing your eyes, you say with conviction, “Let’s finish this mess once and for all.”

 

Chapter 123

 

It feels like standing inside a volcano as heat washes over you, making you blink and tear up as you try to keep your eyes open. The rest of your party, minus the haggard looking Tabitha, also flinch but soon find their resolve and stand firm.

The thing takes a shaky step forward, tendrils of smoke and dark energy drifting off if as it does so. It gurgles and the fire showing in the cracks around it suddenly grow brighter. You open your eyes wide as Blake comes to the same conclusion and shouts,

“Scatter!”

All of you leap to the sides as a jet of flame shoots out from the beast in a concentrated line, so hot that it turns the sand to glass as it flies through. You shield yourself from the backwash of heat with Harmony outstretched before staggering back to your feet. Holy hells that fire was magnitudes more than Jakovitch could do before.

“Hero! I’m going to need an opening!” You shout as the creature turns its molten gaze upon you again. Seems that even in this form, Jakovitch’s fury yet burns.

{Aww, it likes you!} Chimes Chaika in your pocket, amused. {Certainly I’d be destroyed also, so let’s not let that happen. Still, you must admit this is astonishing!}

“Not helpful you damn snake!” You growl, leaping to the side to avoid another line of flame. Thankfully it’s either slow or still getting used to its new form, because if this thing was chain casting-

{You start talking to me and then never actually ask for my help. It’s a little insulting.} Chaika interrupts in your mind, huffing.

“Because you want to drink my god damn semen!”

You watch as Blake gives hand signals to Tabitha and Veronica. The two of them head to the flanks of the creature while Hala prowls on the outside, making her way to the back,

{You know,} she sniffs, {most men would find that incredibly attractive you ingrate.}

{Oh by the Gods, would you two shut up!} Screams Harmony, a little out of character. You both quiet down, a little in shock, before assessing the situation again.

With the melee fighters closing in on the thing its attention has shifted to them. Its eyes grow white hot again before firing a burst at Blake. He crosses Lionsedge over his shield and is brought to one knee as fire lashes across the enchanted blade, turning it bright red. Spillover fire dashes against his shield and the Hero screams, tossing it aside as it begins to burn him, despite his safeguards.

This little stunt was enough opportunity however for Veronica, light of Solos blazing within her, to move in and slam the creature with an overhead blow of her mace. Its staggers slightly at the force of the attack and it howls as the darkness around it begins to twitch and scatter from the light. A rent of flame bursts from the wound, sending Veronica backward, screaming as the intense heat burns directly before her eyes.

“Veronica!” Shouts Blake as he rights himself. “Get back! Get back now!” He points to Tabitha. “Go!”

The Lizardman charges inward with her sword, sweeping it in a way to get its attention, which succeeds quite well. It makes a clumsy swung at her, trying to knock the skilled Lizardman aside, but the blows meet only air.

You know she can’t do this for long, but Veronica’s strike give you an idea.

{Oh, so you’re finally going to ask for my help?} Asks Chaika. {I’d only require a modicum of your… what are you doing?}

You pull from your bag a vial of [Holy Water] and a ball of feces. Looking at the two, you nod, pouring the water onto the feces, which you manipulate to form a ball of soft, compliant [Holy Shit]. With careful work, you shape it into a projectile and coat it in ice before judging your shot. The creature is pushing Tabitha back, while Blake moves in, his blade biting into the thing. The slash causes a rent of flame to appear before it smacks the Hero backward ten feet as it roars.

There! You raise your arm high and send the projectile forward. The creature snaps to you as the [Holy Shit] flies forth. The layer of ice melts almost instantly before the shit catches fire in the aura of heat it exudes, releasing a smell the likes of which you assume only pious priest might enjoy on a daily basis, assuming he had enough dietary fiber. While intense, the heat wasn’t enough to stop the projectile from hitting the beast.

Its whole torso bursts into light and energy and it screams in agony as the [Holy Water] burns its dark flesh. A massive rent in its chest appears, where fire spills and sloshes like blood, falling to the sands. It staggers and moans in anger, “Wizzzzaaaarrrddddd.”

The crowd, those that stayed anyway, cheer as the creature appears defeated. They stand on their feet and the roar of their admiration is enough to drown out the furious beating of your heart. Did that kill it? Surely, a wound like that-

Its eyes grow white hot again and you jump back, alarmed. It stands tall, dark fire blossoming from its body with an intensity you hadn’t seen before. It takes in ragged, shuddering breaths as its body twitches and writhes, growing hotter with every passing second.

The crowd begins to scream and finally flee as you stare, wide eyed at the thing. Dear Gods, it’s going to obliterate all of you, and there’s nothing you can do against that level of fire. The pure heat of it is starting to burn your hands and you step back reflexively as wisps of smoke appear around you. You feel like your vision is wavering as you see waves radiating off the abomination. There is no way to combat this fire this… Wait.

You look around quickly and wave at Blake before casting [Amplify].

“Everyone, flee! Leave now while I deal with this abomination!”

The audience needs no warning, but Blake looks to you, his face red from the heat, worried expression on his features. You nod at him curtly and he grinds his teeth before waving at the others, who quickly escape with him to the outer waiting room, leaving you and the thing that was Franz Jakovitch alone in the sands.

You retreat to a safe distance before planting Harmony and channeling your will, eyes locked onto the thing. It feels like it won’t be long now, so you have to hurry. You’re certain that if Harmony had eyes, they would grow wide in shock as she realizes what you’re doing.

{Wizard, you can’t be serious! You might not survive if you do this! In fact, it’s almost impossible that you’ll survive!}

You grit your teeth as magical energy swirls around you and through Harmony, energy crackling and discharging all about. A chuckle escapes your lips as you look the beast in the eyes.

“Yeah, I guess so.”

You don’t want to die. No one really ever does. But you know that if you don’t try, you and thousands of other people will die in a horrific conflagration of flames. Try as you might, you can’t just ignore that.

My how things have changed.

{Wizard… why are you laughing?} Asks Harmony, still controlling and shaping the current running through her though you can feel an inexorable sadness in her voice.

You didn’t realize you were laughing, but you see that you’re shaking, letting out a peel of amused sounds.

“I was just thinking… this is just like my eastern theatre.”

With that, you pull Harmony, [The Staff of Gregory the Great], from the ground in one swift motion and point it at the creature, discharging a [Lightning Bolt].

Your timing is immaculate as the thing’s channeling appears to have just finished and its blast of flame is about to be fired. It never gets the chance as your natural disaster level of electricity smashes into the raw and intense heat of its body.

Everything goes white as the [Plasma Blast] rends asunder the Coliseum, and your consciousness.

 

Chapter 124

 

The Heavens are very fluffy.

That must be the case, because you most certainly are dead, killed by the blast of plasma. Somehow you have not pissed Solos off enough to be rewarded a seat in the Heavens. Why else would you feel so absolutely warm, comfortable, and surrounded by fluffiness?

You stretch out and feel a line of pain shoot through your arm and you gasp, grabbing tightly at the fluff before you as your body shudders in agony. Oh what the hells Solos, can’t you get some relief? You just saved lives from a rampaging abomination! You could at least have a little slack cut!

“Ara Ara, so rough Wizard.”

Your eyes shoot open and you look up, head swimming from the sudden burst of activity. You begin to really did wonder if you are in heaven, because before you is Selene, giving you a serene smile as she strokes a hand through your hair. With a start you realize that the softness you felt before is your hand on one of her tails and you reflexively let go, the length of fur twitching as you pull back. Looking about, you see that she has you with your head resting on her lap, tails wrapped about you.

“I… but… but you can’t…”

“Can’t what? Be here?” She asks, smiling her beautiful smile. “Who else would it be?”

“You… you said you would be gone, with the Lady.”

“True, and I did speak with her royal highness, but I was tasked to oversee Victoria’s little operation.” She smirks, giving you a noogie, which causes you to squirm as it presses into your slightly burned skin.

“Imagine my surprise to find the bitch dead and her minions scattered. You caused the Lady no end of trouble you know.”

“Owwww, owww… But Victoria, she had a plague and-” You shake your head, “She was acting against Tolosh. Her Dark Elves were trying to turn only the worthy or something into Monsters.”

Selene is quiet at that for a moment before sighing. “That explains why Tolosh has been so angry recently. She’ll be quite ecstatic when I report on this, I should imagine.”

You look confused and a little scared, “W-wait, report on this? You’re leaving? But you only just…”

She gives a wan smile and strokes your head again. “I only happened to be in the area this time Wizard, but perhaps it was fate that lead me here today.” She chuckles, “What was with that holy turd?”

“It was a [Holy Shit]…” You mumble, drinking in her warmth. “So you saved me from the plasma?”

“Yes, and no. The blast destroyed most of the Coliseum, and the force of it opened up a pathway to the catacombs underneath.” She shrugs, “I merely made the way under you open a little faster.”

Straining, you look about and see that indeed, you are in an underground tunnel system. Light trickles down from holes in the ceiling where the Coliseum once stood. You lean back against her and look up into her eyes.

“I guess I went a little overboard.”

“You did what you had to. I… Was scared when you started channeling that magic, but I was also so very proud of you. You’ve grown so much since we last met.”

“I-I’ve missed you Selene.”

She goes very quiet at that and you feel your heart skip a beat as she slowly lowers her head and presses her soft lips to yours. The warmth and delicate caress of her mouth sends a shiver down your spine. You place your hand against her cheek, unable to keep yourself from returning her embrace. Both of you stay like that for a long moment before Selene slowly breaks away, tears forming in her eyes.

“I’m sorry Wizard, I have to go.”

“Selene, please…you don’t have to serve her…”

“Yes. I do.” She whispers as she wipes more tears from her eyes. “I know about the Hero’s quest, and I can guess why you’re coming as well, but Wizard, you know what I am, who I am.”

You sigh and push yourself to a standing position, eyes level with hers. “Yeah. I guess I do.”

Selene joins you, stretching her long, sensuous body out before taking your hand, which sends jolts of electricity up yours. Both of you look into each other’s eyes for a long time. You make the first move and embrace her, causing her to gasp in surprise before returning the gesture with strong arms. As you break apart you both stare at each other, unsure, or perhaps unwilling, to make this moment end.

Your bag shifts and you remember something, the awkward tension forcing you to look for a diversion.

“Oh, I have something for you Selene! I uhm…” You reach into your [Sack of Holding +1] and pull out the tiny coin with the reindeer head you carved, retrieved from Victoria’s remains while grabbing her head. You look a little as you see it’s slightly burnt, but Selene carefully takes it from your hand and looks at if before pressing it to her breast, eyes closed.

One of her tails moves upward and cuts off a lock of her hair, causing you to jump. She takes it and wraps it together, before kissing it gently and placing the tiny lock into your hands. Her eyes catch your gaze and you see they’re coated in thin veneer of tears, “For you, my love. I’m sure we’ll see each other again, but until then…”

She kisses you one more time before standing and taking a step back. “Oh, and you can tell Harmonious that she never payed me back for that save from those elves.”

Cocking your head, you look over to see your staff before picking her up gently and feeling a pulse of pouting anger. You look back to Selene, who starts walking down the hallway, her tails parted enough to give you a view of her tight ass.

“And do not rely on that thing in your pocket. It is devious in ways I’m sure you’ve only begun to know.”

Chaika pulses indignation in your pocket, but you ignore her as you watch Selene fade out of sight. Almost without realizing it, you raise a hand to your mouth and shout down the tunnel,

“Selene! I… I…”

She pauses before turning around to you. Your mouth goes dry.

“I…hope we meet again soon!”

She blinks in surprise before a smirk comes to her lips. She nods head and dashing out of sight, leaving you alone as you hear footsteps and shouts from above.

 

Chapter 125

 

It’s Hala who finds you, shouting to the rest of the party and the town guard to help get you out of the tunnels. They’re utterly stunned to learn that you had survived your ordeal and when they find you, Hala gives you a big hug. This is immediately followed by Veronica doing the same, and even Tabitha gives you a smile and pats your shoulder. You don’t fully understand why they’re so relived, but when you see the devastation wrought, you can understand their shock.

Over half of the Coliseum is just gone. The area closest to Jakovitch had been obliterated, a gaping hole in the ground leading to the catacombs now evident. Sections of the ancient structure still standing behind you crumble slowly. It’s only a matter of time before if all comes crashing down from loss of integrity.

The building is annihilated, yes, but unfortunately your blast killed many people as well. Those too slow or too stupid to escape the Coliseum, which included the Count and his wife as well, were lost in the explosion. The fact saddens you, but in your state of exhaustion all you can really feel is numb. Of course your option wouldn’t be without sacrifice, it never is.

The guards who survived want nothing to do with you, either showing respect for the creature you killed, or fear from your awesome power. You don’t stay long in ground zero due to the danger, so you quickly return to the inn to rest and recuperate.

Blake received his payment before everything exploded. He considers giving the purse to the families of those who died in the blast, but relents as soon as you return to the inn he leaves and starts purchasing supplies with Hala. Thanks to the mess just made, the plan is to leave first thing in the morning. That’s fine, because after everything you just went through and having seen Selene again, your mind is in a fuddle. Despite Blake and the others wanting to speak with you, you just ignore all of them and collapse onto your bed.

Harmony is conspicuously quiet that evening along which Chaika, both caught in their own thoughts. Bubs slept most of the time as well, the poor guy having been caught in the shockwave of your blast, despite hiding through the fight.

That night you slept, dreaming about creatures of fire and tails of fluff. It was a good dream.

————————————————————————————–

In the morning, you meet with the others, who had prepared to leave the town after a few quick errands. When they see you, they smile as Blake waves for you to sit.

“Feeling better?”

You sigh and creak down onto a chair on the other side of the table, looking around to all of them. “Yeah. Yeah I guess so.”

“Excellent to hear. Well we’re going to head out for the fort soon, if you need anything-” He cuts off as you hold up one hand to Blake, then the other to the inkeepeer who has a mug of ale in her hand behind you. She seems a little startled and the backs away, still holding the mug.

You take a deep breath and look the Hero in the eyes. “You really hurt me yesterday, Blake.”

Everyone goes quiet as Blake carefully puts a map away before looking back to you, face serious.

“I know.”

“I’m sure you know I’ve been thinking about leaving on my own.”

“I know.”

“That I’m tired of watching you take me for granted, tired of you screwing around with these girls, and tired of your attitude.”

“I know.”

You lean back and let out a deep breath. “Then what in the name of Solos do I have to stay here for?”

“Because Wizard, we need you.”

You narrow your eyes and lean forward, arms on the table. “You need me?”

Blake leans forward as well, eyes intent upon yours, boring into your soul like a drill. You shudder at the intensity.

“You’re right, we have taken you for granted, like you’re a permanent fixture, always there, always willing to do whatever is necessary, though in your own way. We just assumed that it would be like that. I assumed it would be like that.”

He looks down, eyes filled with deep emotion. “But with Victoria it all seemed too much, too alien, and I’ll admit- I was scared.”

“Scared?” You ask, surprised.

“Yes, I was scared. Scared that you were becoming something else, that you were growing too far apart.” He clenches his hands, “Scared that I didn’t have the power to do what needed to be done.”

You take a deep breath and close your eyes. “You don’t.”

“And you’re right. I don’t. That’s why I need you, Wizard. That’s why we all need each other or else this quest will end in failure, and the Invasion will continue, unabated.”

“Why then, did you cheat on Hala?”

Blake pointedly does not look at either woman, though they do look at each other. The Hero looks up into your eyes, which you’ve reopened, his expression sorrowful.

“Because I could feel the hollowness in Veronica. It’s not an excuse, it should never be, but-“

“Wizard, Hala, you have to understand, I was the one who came onto him.” Says Veronica, abashed. “I shouldn’t have taken the Wizard’s provocations, but I’ve…been unable to keep my urges in check and I-“

“You raped him?” Asks Hala, eyebrow raised, tooth bared.

“…Made love to him.” The Aspirant murmurs. “Please Hala, I know you’re angry, why shouldn’t you be? But…”

The Wolf Girl looks to Veronica, and then to Blake before sighing and leaning on the man. “Even I can see bigger things are happening here. I have enough in my heart to forgive you, especially because I can see you actually care for the idiot.” She smiles wolfishly, “But if you do this again…”

Blake nods and looks at Tabitha, who shrugs. “I’ll follow you, betrothed, and I’ll even slit the Lady’s throat. You won the duel, and proved to me your worth, as I always knew it.” She bows her head, a smile on her lips. “I see no reason to cause conflict now.”

They all look at you and you sigh, rubbing at your head. “You make it sound like everything is fine, swept under the rug, like it won’t be an issue in the future.” You stare in Blake’s eyes. “Can you promise me it won’t?”

“No. I can’t.”

“Good, because I wouldn’t want you to lie to me.”

The Hero nods, “I will say though that we all understand where went wrong, what we want in the future, and why we are here.” He breathes out, “We don’t want to lose you because of our… well, MY mistakes.”

“I’m sorry for acting so rough and for putting you through my problems, Wizard.” Says Veronica, shifting her weight in her polished armor.

“I know we’ve had our own little faults here and there Wizard, but when we thought you were dead…” Whispers Hala, “I was so scared, I don’t want to lose anyone again.”

“He’s right Wizard.” Says Tabitha. “I don’t think we have a Yeti’s chance in the hells if you’re not around.” Everyone looks at her and she sighs, rolling her eyes, “And… I guess I would be disappointed if you left.”

They all look at you and you can almost feel the emotion pouring off them. It’s… overwhelming, in a way. You never really had friends before and now here are these people you barely know, pouring their hearts out to you, wanting you to be in their lives. Even worse, you actually feel kind of relieved knowing that they wanted you here.

My, things really have changed.

You rub at your head before exhaling loudly. “I guess that just leaves you Blake.”

“You know that while I don’t deserve it, I would like to consider you a friend.”

“I swear to Solos, that’s not what I’m talking about.”

He nods, “You’re wondering if I have the resolve to do this, to lead everyone into their potential death at the hands of the most powerful Monster in the world and kill her.”

“Basically, yeah.”

He is quiet for a long time before nodding again, slowly. “It’s not a question of whether I can or cannot, but merely that I must. You showed me time and again that I can’t just run away from the issue.” He looks into your eyes, and you’re surprised at the conviction you see there.

“I’ll do it. I’ll take her head if that’s what it takes to save Deleor.”

You lean back, arms behind you head, and take in a deep breath. Exhaling, you look back at him and roll your eyes. “Oh very well then, you have a Wizard.”

Blake hangs his head, smiling, while the women cheer and go over to hug you despite you pushing them away, muttering things about inappropriate Wizard behavior. Not long after you hand Blake a list of things you’d like, a rather short list, but a list nonetheless, and go to prepare yourself to leave as well.

Harmony and Bubs seem pleased that you managed to come to a peaceable solution for now while Chaika is still an insufferable bitch. But that’s fine, you ignore her as you load up into the wagon soon after and set off on the road as the bright sun hangs overhead and the shapes of mountains begin to

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3 thoughts on “Wizardquest Part 13: Conflict in the Coliseum City”

  1. So the fight ended just like one of his japanese anime? Seriously though, at first our Wizard was an asshole just at a TFS Alucard Abridged level, but he keep this up he may end up being a decent human being.

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