Wizardquest Part 18: Cold Confessions

Chapter 169

 

“Spear fighting? Whatever would you want to know what for Wizard?”

Tabitha pauses in the cleaning of her sword to stare at you, her brow furrowed. It’s getting close to evening and instead of traveling the pass at night, you decide to camp close to the waterfall and get a fresh start in the morning. Besides, you’re all still a little tired as it is, especially those who had been possessed. Apparently having a ghost supercharge your libido is draining for the soul.

Who knew?

You shrug and point to your knife-stick. “Well, it became blindingly obvious during that last little encounter that I just don’t know how to use this thing. I know where the pointy end is, but that’s about it.”

{Thing, huh?} Grumbles Chaika from her perch.

Tabitha sighs and rubs at her eyes. “While I do know a thing of two about using the weapon, I’m by no means a master. Besides, isn’t that just your staff with a knife jammed into it?”

“Uhhhhh.”

“Yeah I thought so.” Tabitha stands up slowly and stretches before sheathing her blade.

“Well, I suppose it still wouldn’t do for you to accidentally stab yourself or something. Come on, we have some time before the food is ready.”

You nod eagerly and follow her out to a spot beside the waterfall, a gently falling stream that ends in a small pool which shimmers crystalline in the fading sun. Tabitha stretches and then takes off her coat, exposing her tight-fitting shirt underneath as she puts her hands on her hips, tail swishing behind her.

“Right then, show me what you can do.”

You blink, a little off put. “I uh… Do what now?”

“Show. Me. What. You can do.”

You look to Chaika and slowly pick her up in two hands before making a crude, thrusting motion with the knife-stick. Tabitha groans before walking over and grabbing Chaika from your hands before smacking you upside the head.

The blow staggers you back momentarily, your vision a little dazed. “What the fuck was that for?” You ask, more confused than angry.

“For being so terrible that I almost vomited.” She gently tosses Chaika up and down, feeling the weight before gripping the weapon and twirling it about her body in swift, elegant motions. Putting her weight into a forward step, she then thrusts the knife point to barely inches from your face.

{Boo.} Sends Chaika playfully.

You take a step back and try to work your mouth before looking to the side and coughing to gain some time.

“I…I thought you said you weren’t a master of the spear.”

“I’m not.” Says Tabitha, tossing the weapon back to you. “But I know enough to know your form is miserable.”

Holding her hands out before her, she takes a stance and mimics a spear held level in both hands, tip perpendicular to her body.

“Stand like this.”

You do your best to copy, finding that the knife-stick feels heavier than you expected it to like this. Struggling to hold the position right for a moment, you feel a solid impact on the back of your thigh, causing you to stagger forward.

“Did I tell you to move?” Tabitha breathes into your ear. When she got there, you have no idea, but you quickly adopt the same position as before and she grunts,

“Your legs are locked too rigid, loosen up and center your stance,” She says this she taps you with her sheathed sword. You readjust and when she’s satisfied she backs away, studying you.

“Hrm… Passable, for now.” She adopts the same position as you, however much smoother and more defined. “Now then, to thrust, you must motion with purpose and put your weight into it, do you hear me?”

She takes her invisible spear and steps forward, dipping the head before driving it forward with extreme force and impaling her invisible foe. You gulp before nodding your head and doing the same. Of course, as you do so you put too much weight forward and your spear point barely manages to avoid the dirt as your follow-through goes wild.

Tabitha growls and you feel the sting of her sheath again, “No, no, no! Do you want to die Wizard, because that’s what this looks like to me!”

You look up to her, rubbing your back. “By the Gods, Tabitha, what has gotten into you?”

Her eyes, filled with fire and rage, bore into yours as she says with venom, “What do you mean?”

“I mean to say, you’re more intense than usual, owww.”

She blinks a few times before realization sets in and her eyes go wide. “Dear Gods, I’ve become my mother.”

Wincing as she stares off into space, you rub your back before she unconsciously smacks you again.

“Did I say you could stop?”

You gulp and assume the position. Why did you think this was a good idea again?

————————————————————————————–

About an hour of intense training later and you’re sweating buckets despite the cold air, forcing you to strip off your robes and expose your bare, muscled chest. The sun is setting by this point, so you only a small modicum of light to see by, but you still train on. You thrust your knife-stick into the air again, with great force, if not amazing precision. As you do, Chaika lets out a powerful moan in your head, followed by lewd sounds and laughter.

{Ohh, oh yeah, thrust hard Wizard, again, again, faster! Ohhhh!}

Yes, it is really, really distracting, but you can’t afford to be done in by her annoying tendencies. As you perform one rather large thrust, much to the pleasure of Chaika who starts screaming incoherently for some Gods damned reason, Tabitha claps her hands.

“Alright, that’s enough, you can stop you worthless maggot.”

Her eyes go wide and she puts a hand to her mouth. “Gods damnit, I really have become her, haven’t I?”

Wiping sweat from your brow, you sit down, breathing in and out. Yeah, you’re fit and such, but you sure as the hells aren’t used to this kind of weapons training. Hells, even a professional soldier would get tired after this, right? Right?

A canteen is thrust into your face and you look up to see Saya smiling over you. Blinking, you take the water graciously, guzzling the cool liquid down before you breath out and wipe your chin.

“Gaah, phew, thanks pumpkin, daddy needed that.”

She smiles and takes the canteen back. “Well, you were training so hard, I thought you might need a little something.”

You smirk and look up to see Veronica, Hala, and Delilah sitting in the grass, smirking at you from a distance. You frown and you slowly pick yourself up, muscles hurting as you limp toward them.

“Enjoy the show?”

“Oh you know it.” Says Hala from her spot. “It was too funny watching Tabitha smack you like that.”

“Hmm? What? I was watching something else.” Says Delilah, her eyes locked onto you. “Are you sure you need to stop? Maybe polish your form a little bit? I think you’d get better mobility if you removed your-“

She stops as Veronica drives her fist into the top of her head. Delilah merely frowns.

“Oh don’t pretend like it didn’t get the rest of you hot and bothered, and I don’t even have a cunt anymore.”

The two other women look at each other before Hala quickly scoops up the head and stands. Veronica waves a hand to you, shouting, “Uh so, food is ready I bet, best get to the campfire once you’ve uh… Yeah.” She looks to Saya and takes a deep breath before smiling and nodding as she says, “Come along dear, your father will be along shortly.”

Hala rolls her eyes she walks off with the others, and you hear her say, “Maybe we can get Blake to spar with him?”

You sigh and rub more sweat away, the cold of the night breeze causing your sweat to feel almost chilly now that you’re cooling down. Stretching, you a feel powerful hand slap your back, causing you to grunt and turn to see Tabitha behind you.

“Good work out there.”

You nod and turn back to see the others returning to camp, leaving you alone with Tabitha. Rubbing at your cheek, you sigh and then address the Lizardman.

“Hey Tabitha… Do you know why Monsters are so attracted to me?”

She blinks a few times, looking blindsided.

“W-wha?”

“You know, as a Wizard. It’s like they can smell me out and get really weird about it. You have any idea?”

“W-why would you be asking me that?”

“Well… You’re a Monster too, and pretty level headed so…”

“O-oh! Yes!” She coughs into her hand before taking a breath. “Right, Uhm, well…” She scratches her cheek, seeming uncomfortable. “You… have this smell that some can pick up on. It’s… hard to explain, but, uhm, imagine you’re really hungry and there’s some freshly… cooked… meat…”

Not saying anything further, she grabs her sword, turning back to the camp. “It’s not just you, Heroes seem to have a similar smell, or at least those like Blake….”

You cock your head, a little confused. Was she really getting that embarrassed by such a question? She rarely seems to get embarrassed by much at all, except for maybe that passing the pipe thing earlier.

Speaking of which…

“Hey Tabitha, one more thing.”

“Yeah?” She says, looking over her shoulder, eyes not meeting yours.

“What does passing the pipe mean to you?”

Her eyes go wide and she flips about, holding her sword tightly. She fidgets for a moment before saying slowly, “Pipes in Lizardman culture are often filled with purple leaf, an… aphrodisiac. We, well, pass the pipe to our lovers and even when it’s not full of purple leaf it’s still an incredibly… erotic act.”

She shudders, “Anyway! I’m going back to camp!”

And with that she dashes out past the small tree line and back to camp. You shake your head, and look at Chaika, sighing.

“Women, right?”

{I’m a woman too you jackass.}

“A little edgy, aren’t we?”

{Shut it, I’m a knife now. Besides…} She continues, trailing off. {That smell she’s talking about isn’t just your musk, it’s all your pent-up energy, or lusts, what have you. It’s concentrated in you, making you smell and feel particularly desirable.}

“Concentrated where, my jizz? Because I’ve masturbated before…”

She growls, annoyed, {There too, but I’m talking about within your spirit. The more you deny your inner lusts the more it builds and the more we… they are attracted to you.}

She mentally smirks, {Someone like the Hero naturally has high quality spirit and semen seasoned by his personality. You, on the other hand, are a keg of wine that grows better with age. Since your kind doesn’t see the world much anymore, it’s a hard treat to resist.}

“Hum.” You say, rubbing your chin. “I’ve met Monsters who could keep their hands to themselves, but if you say it’s like that…”

{Make no mistake, any Monster who is not happily wed lusts after you, there is no exception. Some are better at hiding it than others, but hells, you saw what happened when the lizard was possessed, how she tried to violate you? That wasn’t all Ghost.}

You sigh and reach down to pick up your robe, working yourself into it. “Is there any way I can… I don’t know, mask my scent or something?”

Chaika chuckles, {You’d have to reduce your load there. You know, I’m quite willing to help you with that, and in exchange.}

“No.” You say flatly, finishing dressing and heading back to the camp. “Just, no.”

{Fine, if your precious cat means that much to you, have it your way.}

You’re getting used to ignoring her comments by now.

 

Chapter 170

 

You return to the camp to find everyone sitting around a fire as Blake spoons out some stewed fish into bowls. He hands you one as you approach and you sit back around the fire, digging in. The Hero may have many, many issues, but Gods damnit if he isn’t a fabulous cook.

As you slurp your food, you look over to see Tabitha perfectly composed as she eats, apparently unfazed by anything. Given how good she is at keeping her cool, you must really have flustered her earlier. Chaika’s words flow in your mind at this and you frown, shaking your head to banish the thoughts.

“Alright!” Pipes up Blake from his spot around the fire. “We’re on the last leg of the journey. If the maps are correct and this pass is solid, then we should reach the keep in only a few days.”

“That’s not very specific.” Says Veronica as she munches on some bread.

Blake shrugs, “It’s the snow. It may not look like it now, but I bet soon after entering that pass we’ll start seeing it and I can’t say how much it will slow us down.”

Hala nods, “Yeah, running through snow in the forest was always a pain, I can’t imagine how the poor horses must feel.”

At this, Mr. Ed neighs loudly and Hala begins to laugh, choking on her food a little before beating her chest to clear her throat. Tabitha merely rolls her eyes while Saya giggles.

You look to Blake and nod. “So once we reach the keep…”

He looks down, a grave expression on his face. “We’ll do what we must to enter and slay the Lady. I can only pray we aren’t too late, or that the other Temple Guardians aren’t present.” He grumbles, “If they are… Things will be much more difficult.”

You mutter under your breath, “You’re telling me.”

Supper finishes in short order and everyone prepares for sleep afterward. You draw your wards around the camp as the rest finish their chores and, as luck would have it, you’re on first watch with Harmony.

Hala jokes about the girls all going for a swim in the water before bed but is silenced by a stern look from Tabitha. That water must be freezing cold as it is and jumping in would likely be a mistake. The poor Wolf Girl grumbles about her “grand plan of catching Blake as a peeping tom” being ruined, but no one else seems to pay her much heed.

You finish tucking Saya into bed before you settle down on a rock, your back to the fire. Huddling up for some warmth in the dark night, you nod as Harmony sits down next to you, curling her legs up to her body and wrapping her arms around them.

“Copper for your thoughts?”

You sigh and rub at the back of your head. “Just… that this is really it. We’re coming to the end of this crazy journey and-“

“You’re scared?”

You shrug, “Well, yes, but it’s just…” Sighing, you shake your head. “I don’t know.”

“You’re thinking about Selene, aren’t you?”

A shudder runs down you back at the mention of her name. Breathing out slow, you nod your head. “I just don’t know what I’m going to do if she’s there. I only wanted to get the Ultimate Elixir, but if I have to face Selene… I don’t know what I’d do.”

Harmony is silent for a moment before looking off into the distance. “When Lady Juliant asked you what you knew of love, you were being honest, weren’t you?”

Her voice lowers to a whisper. “You actually love her, don’t you?”

You’re silent for a long, long time before you breathe out.

“Yeah. I guess I do.”

Harmony continues to stare out at the night sky. “Wow.”

“Yeah.”

The two of you sit there for a long time before Harmony sighs. “You’ve really grown Wizard, I want you to know that.”

“Thanks Harmony, that means a lot.”

She nods her head before letting go of her legs. “Right then, no sense in brooding! Might as well do something productive with our time on watch.”

“What, like watching?”

“Oh come on, how often have you been attacked while on watch?”

“Uhhhh.” You say, scratching your chin. “Three times?”

“That’s practically nothing! Come on there must be something to do.”

{You can start by keeping it down.} Grumbles Bubs as he crawls out form your pocket. {Damn kids and their infernal racket at all hours of the night.}

{Bubs, you’re rat.} You send back. {I’m also like, fifteen times your age.}

{I’m basically ancient.} Replies Harmony through the mental link.

{I’m 273 years old.} Sends Chaika.

Everyone stops and stares at the knife-stick, the spirit inside growling, {What the fuck are you looking at?}

{Uh… No, you look great for your age.} Sends Bubs slowly before crawling the rest of the way out and to the ground. {You uh, yeah you all showed me. Night, night gramps, grams.}

Harmony huffs as your familiar scurries off. “Such impudence from a rat.”

“He’s a good boy though.”

She waves a hand, “Well no matter, the task at hand then.”

You rub your chin. “Well, I already started working on infusing some of Saya’s bones… Besides, I wouldn’t want to work on that without asking her. Would be really awkward if she woke up with my hand in her chest or something.”

Harmony chuckles, “True, true.”

You rummage through your [Sack of holding +1]. “Uhh, well I should probably read this mental defense book at some point…there’s still the familiar book to finish out, I have some enchanting ingredients- Oh, hello.”

“Hmm?” Asks harmony, looking over your shoulder.

You pull out six glass orbs and place them on the ground. Harmony cocks her head. “Those are… What did you call them, bitch balls?”

Somehow you succeed in keeping your face straight, despite the absurdly rising notion to laugh your ass off, and you nod your head.

“That’s right. Never really used them before, might as well.”

“You charge those with magic and they discharge it later, right? What’s the point?”

You tap your nose, “It’s for the normies.”

She stares at you before nodding slowly. “Ah, of course. A little help when you can’t be there.”

You nod and pick one up. “Exactly.”

Closing your eyes, you slowly channel power into the ball and it softly glows to life with a red flame that increases in intensity the more you charge it. As you feel the orb’s limits press in, you cut off your power and stare down at the device, feeling a mild warmth in your hand from the charged ball.

In quick succession you charge another with fire, two with electricity, and two with ice.

Smiling at your handiwork, you put them back in your bag. You’ll divvy these up tomorrow, but for now… Meh, let’s read through [Defensive Magic Volume 3]. Volume 2 is getting boring anyway.

“Welcome to the final installment of this three-part series on defensive magic. If the reader recalls, in the final words of the second volume the concept of the inner guardian was discussed. In this volume this concept is expanded upon.

“The central tenement to mental defenses is that the true path of resistance is in your own mind. While technically a metaphor, it’s also quite real! Mental magic often takes root inside the mind of the target and twists their perceptions or inserts ideas. The most pronounced of this is the Illusionists, but even suggestive whispers and lesser emotional magic can have devastating effects as well.

“The inner guardian is created by the practitioner as discussed before by using mana and their concentration to form a manifestation of their guardian. Many choose something like a knight, or a wall, but anything can fit the bill as long as it is applied with the proper precision and will. The practitioner must create this being based on the need to defend their mind. Anything else will cause a non-functional form to be created and can possibly lead to nosebleeds, headaches, or sudden death.

“When assaulted by mental magic, the inner guardian may be used to locate, isolate, and render the magic impotent almost independently of the practitioner, as long as they continue to upkeep mana for its creation. While there are other uses for such a creation, this is its main purpose as described in this book. When used in conjunction with a proper circle, counter circle, and raw grit, a nigh impregnable defense is formed.”

You close the book and ponder over this. [Inner Guardian] huh? Hmm, you can’t really think of what you’d like to make into a guardian at the moment… Eh you’ll sleep on it.

Harmony looks over at you once you finish and is about to say something when Bubs chimes in, {Hey, your watch is over.}

You stand and stretch, Harmony aborting the gesture before going to wake Hala as you groggily head to bed, mind full of various thoughts and emotions. Drifting back and forth between training instructions from Tabitha, the information in the book, and thoughts of Selene, you feel it’s going to be difficult to get to sleep tonight.

 

Chapter 171

 

Getting to sleep was rather easy actually and as morning comes by, you groan, feeling your muscles ache. All for the sake of progress… Ugh.

Camp is quickly broken down and you hitch up the horses, heading on up to the path. You end up giving out the various bitch balls as you set into motion. The others seem either curious or dismissive of the balls, though you have to keep Hala from chewing on hers. Regardless you feel you’ve given them out appropriately and that at least Tabitha and Veronica could use them without killing themselves.

But back to the pass: it’s a narrow trail at first that’s just wide enough for your wagon and not much else, but after a few hours if starts to slope upward while opening up into a wider pass. Blake is on edge the whole time, his vigilance increasing as the temperature decreases until you pass through a thicket of evergreens to see in the distance a light coating of snow around a veritable sea of snowcapped mountains.

Your party stops, taking in the beautiful sight as the noon sun shines down onto all of you, casting a sheen of brilliance over the land. Even Tabitha has to admit it’s beautiful, though she starts to shiver, despite the thermal undergarments.

You smile, reaching an arm around Saya and pulling her in close as she views the wide barrier that separates the Monster Nation from Deleor.

“It’s beautiful, dad…”

“Yeah… It is.” Guess some things you just can’t get on the Communion Matrix, huh?

Soon enough however, it’s time to push on. As you trundle forth however, you notice out of the corner of your eyes gathering clouds on the horizon.

————————————————————————————–

“Fuuuuccckkk.” Hisses Tabitha, huddled into a ball. “This is why Lizardmen don’t live in snow.”

She glares outside the wagon as a heavy dusting of snow falls from the afternoon sky, the clouds rushing in faster than you could have expected. You feel the cold more acutely now too, especially after it sleeted earlier. You hold Saya tight as a small lantern burns in the center of the wagon, giving off some precious warmth.

“Oh?” Asks Blake, huddled in blankets at the front of the wagon. “Is that so?”

“Unless we’re chasing a man.” Tabitha says, forcing Blake to tip his head.

“Shhh.” Veronica cuts in, looking nervous as she whispers, “Don’t be so loud, don’t you know about avalanches?”

Hala cocks her head and asks loudly, “Avalanche?”

Veronica slaps a hand over her mouth, causing the wolf to growl under the hand while the Aspirant explains. “An avalanche is where tons of snow is dislodged from a mountain and rolls down. It’s very, very dangerous and loud noises can echo here and cause one, okay?”

Hala nods her head and grumbles as Veronica leans back. “Let’s just get through this and find a safe place to camp.”

Everyone else nods in agreement and Blake pushes the horses forward through the accumulating snow.

You sigh and prepare to take a nap when Bubs perks up.

{You hear that?}

{What?} You send back, straining to hear anything.

It comes to you a moment later, like a loud echoing bellow that washes through the pass, chilling everyone’s hearts. Blake pulls the horses to a stop, listening as the sound reverberates. For a moment, nothing is heard but the creaking of leather and the sound everyone’s breathing.

Then, another bellow echoes through the pass, louder this time, and you feel the ground around you rumble and shake. Veronica’s eyes grow huge and she screams,

 “GO GO GO FUCKING GO!”

Blake doesn’t need to be told twice as he drives the horses forward, practically forcing them to run as you see behind you snow falling from the pass in ever increasing amounts. Your heart seizes up as it starts to move toward you faster and faster. You shout back to Blake to speed it up, but you know it won’t be enough.

Gritting your teeth, you channel [Ice] through Chaika to try and stem the flow of snow. It succeeds, but not by enough, and you’re quickly brought to your limit as the tidal wave of snow threatens to engulf you. Saya grabs onto your leg and screams, forcing your heart to gain in resolve and you power through the magic again, slowing the tide as Blake screams about the edge of the pass and how you’re almost there!

You can feel your consciousness slipping as the strain on your mind grows too great. The world becomes darker, darker, darker, until you feel yourself teeter and fall out of the wagon, where only darkness and cold await you.

 

Chapter 172

 

Everything is very warm and fluffy.

In fact, that’s all that you can feel- a warm, fluffy pressure upon you. As your senses starts to come back to you, you remember a similar sensation and your heart races, quickly bringing you into focus.

“Selene?!” You shout, turning about in anticipation to come face to face with a large grin. You look down to see that what you thought was Selene is actually a pair of white, fluffy arms holding you in a warm embrace to a well-endowed chest.

The Monster nuzzles your cheek and smiles again before speaking in a bubbly voice “Selene? Nope, I’m Fran! Welcome to my cave, my soon to be lover!”

“Uh… Wha, gah!” You groan out as your captor gives you another full-bodied squeeze, causing you to break off mid-sentence.

“Hehe, aww you’re so cold! Here let me warm you up.” The Monster says, holding you even tighter.

You move to struggle against her but find that she’s just so damn warm and fluffy. You pause in your struggles and just… take a moment to appreciate your situation.

First off, you realize that you actually are bone cold, a situation being remedied by her cuddling, and second off, you’re naked.

Craning your neck, you spot a fire in the corner of the rocky cave you’re in, your clothes and Chaika sitting around it, dripping small amounts of water as they dry off. You try to remember what happened before you passed out. You recall a yell followed by an avalanche, using your magic and then… Nothing. Clearly, you must have fallen in the snow to be so soaked, but how did you-

“You know…” Says Fran, “You’re pretty lucky to be alive, that avalanche should have buried you! I’ve been holding you like this allll night long and now it’s morning!”

She beams, “But that’s not enough to stop little old me, no sir, like my old man always said, ‘if there’s a person to be savin’ then as a Yeti, ya gots to do it.'” A thoughtful look crosses her face, “Course that’s how me mum met him, saving him from being lost in the snow, darn Wendigos chasing him and such. Nasty business those Wendigos are you see.”

“Uh… Yeah…” You say, struggling to find a better position, even if the one you’re in is super comfortable as it is. “You took my clothes off then?”

“Well sure, you were gunna freeze with them on, and besides, you’ll get much warmer like this.” She blushes and you feel a little twang through you at the sight. Or maybe it’s just the proximity of your body rubbing against her warmth that makes blood rush hot through your cheeks and other places.

You struggle against her so that your blossoming erection won’t be in contact with her skin, but she makes a sound of annoyance before adjusting her grip.

“You’re not warm enough yet! I can feel it in ma fur, come on, just abit longer. You’re not afraid of little old me, are you?”

You feel your face heat up. “Uh, no, not really, I’m just a little… Uh, uncomfortable being so close is all.”

She blushes, “Oh? I’m making you uncomfortable?” She presses in close and her eyes go wide as your manhood slides against her thigh.

“Ohhhhh.” She says, her smile growing wider. “What’s this? Could you have gotten that because of meeee?”

You blush even more and try to push out of her arms. Oh shit, shit shit. Damn your body betraying you in this situation. You’ll have to scold it later, because this was not ideal in any way, shape or form.

“Oh ho, someone’s getting a little frisky.” Fran coos, before removing one arm to trace a finger down your cheek. “I like that in a man. Course you’re the first one I’ve seen besides my pa, but my ma told me all about what to do.”

“I think you’ve got the wrong idea, this isn’t what it looks like.”

“Well, I haven’t seen one before, but I’m pretttty sure I know what a penis looks like.”

You groan, preparing to have to cast magic to get yourself out of this. Well, you have one more gambit you can try before things get crazy…

“No that’s not what I meant, its uh, it’s not for you.”

Smooth as silk.

She frowns, “Not for me? But… But you…”

“Sorry, I guess your hug just reminded me about someone else is all.”

Her expression turns crestfallen. “O-oh. Someone else like a… wife?”

“No, no, I don’t have a wife!” You blurt out quickly, your concentration now shot.

“Then… Uh, what is it called, a girlfriend? That’s what humans say, right?”

“I… Uh…” You fumble with the words for a moment before sighing. Why were you getting so worked up? You just admitted last night that you loved Selene and yet you still get antsy about it? You really are a Wizard.

You pause and take in a deep breath before exhaling softly. “Something like that.”

“I…see.” Fran mentions, slowly letting you out of her arms. You stumble onto the floor, your balance all wonky from being held for so long, but you soon get your feet under you.

“Thanks.”

She waves a dejected arm at you. “Yeah yeah, that’s fine. It’s part of the job I guess…”

You rub the back of your head, feeling a little bad for the girl. Now that you’re free from her, you finally get a good look. She’s tall, perhaps a little taller than you are, and has some nice muscle without taking away from her feminine frame. She is quite well endowed but wears a similar outfit to the Frog Girl Croakly’s, despite the cold. Of course, the massive, white furred arms and legs, the same color as her hair, that terminate into paws probably keep her quite warm. Monsters come in all shapes and sizes, huh?

And yet, here she is, all alone in the mountains, helping those in trouble, and looking for love. Of course, since people don’t come out here too often, it kind of ruins that for her, huh?

You sigh and fold your arms. “Damnit… Look, I didn’t mean to come off like that or anything, I just… I’m already taken.”

She nods, not turning around, “Yeah, I get it.”

“Look, I’m thankful for what you did, really I am!”

“Sure, sure.”

You look to the side and sigh before taking a deep breath, walking up to the girl, and giving her a big hug from behind. She gasps and stiffens as you press yourself onto her. She starts to shudder before saying in a broken voice, “T-thank you.”

“I can tell you’re a good person, and you just want a little love is all. I know it’s lonely, living here on your own, trust me I get it, but if you keep believing someday, I’m sure you’ll meet the right guy.”

She sniffs before turning about and hugging you again, tears coming from her eyes.

“B-buh! That’s the nicest doggone thing anyone’s ever said to me! Waaaaaaaahhh!”

You pat her arms, trying to her push away. “It’s okay, it’s okay, don’t cry.”

She lets you go again and you stagger back. Smiling, she wipes at her eyes and says, “You’re a good guy mister…?”

“Wizard.”

“Mister Wizard. You’re right, I think I’m going to just buck up and keep my spirit as hard as uh…” She motions to you and you look down, remembering you’re naked and at full mast before gulping and covering your shame.

She giggles. “Your clothes should be dry soon. What are you going to do now?”

You shrug and walk over to the fire, the warmth of the flames not even close compared to that of Fran’s hug. At least your pants are fairly dry, so you slip them on before poking at your robe. Meh, it’s pretty dry on the outside since it’s waterproof, but the inside is a little damp… Maybe some warming spells….

As you ponder this you answer the question, “Well, I’m going to find my companions and get back to our quest.”

“Ooo, a quest? Whatcha doing?”

You pause and then turn back to Yeti, asking carefully, “How do you feel about the Monster Lady?”

“The who?”

You blink, frankly a little confused, “You don’t know who… She’s the leader of the monster Nation and… What?”

Fran waves a large, fluffy arm. “Yeah yeah, I don’t know much about all that. Think my ma may have talked about it once, but I haven’t heard much about no Lady.”

“Huh, well, anyway she’s moved to an old fortress around here and we’re sort of…” You roll your hand, “Trying to stop a war.”

She frowns, “Well that’s a noble goal and all, but fortress? You mean that big ol’ stone place out past the frozen lake?”

You blink, interest keen, “Sorry, what was that?”

“Yeah, big old place about two days away from here, maybe a little faster if I take my sled. Old, old place. I get a bad feeling about it.” She rubs at her cheek. “Now that I think about it, there’s been something flying around there recently. Didn’t much feel like making myself known, right? Figure maybe it’s one of them Manticores that roam around here.”

You rub at your cheek. Could it be… the Lady? Dragons can fly, right?

“Hmm. Thank you for the information.” You say as you put your robe on. Ugh, it’s still a little wet, but it’s fine. You can’t be sitting around here anyway, despite how warm and inviting the place is.

Searching out with your mind, you find that Bubs still has a connection, so at least the others got out. Like the last time you were separated, it’s faint and far away, getting closer at least. Maybe the pass is blocked now or something, you didn’t know, but sitting here won’t get you anywhere. Besides, you can make fire, what do you care about the cold?

You pick up Chaika to find the knife-stick laughing her ass off. No words, just laughter. Bitch.

Turning back to Fran, you bow. “Thank you for everything, and good luck.”

She walks over and hugs you again. “One for the road!”

You pat her shoulder and she smiles, waving at you as you head outside the cave. A gust of cold wind pushes through, rustling your clothing and causing you to fold in on yourself. At least it’s stopped snowing, but there’s still a veritable sea of powder all over the mountaintop. You sigh before channeling fire through Chaika.

“Alright, let’s get going then.” You say to the staff.

She just keeps laughing at you.

 

Chapter 173

 

A few hours later, still feeling cold despite the heat from your staff, you reach the top of a hill and sink down next to a fir tree to take a rest.

This situation may be bad, but thankfully you have your [Pocket Dimension] with you!  Pulling a heated bread pouch out, you take bite as you look down the hill to a small stream running through the valley. It’s funny how idyllic the scene is. Hard to believe that there’s a homicidal Dragon and her Guardians out here. Hells, it’s hard to believe that half the shit that happened to you was real as you look out over the scenery.

You take another bite, the steaming pouch filled with… tangy sauce grilled beef, and sigh. The others are getting closer, but they’re still a ways away. Stretching back, you chew on your treat while watching the river flow when you notice something off.

Swallowing, you look down at the abnormality and notice it’s… a person? No, not a human but it obviously has two arms and legs, though its arms are massive compared to the rest of its body. Obviously it’s some kind of Monster, but one you’d never heard of before- not that you know very many. It doesn’t seem to have noticed you however, so you slink down into the snow, trying to hide yourself while getting a better look

Of course, the details are a little fuzzy, but you can make out a slender, body female body with long, furred goat legs and two mismatched arms. One is covered in scales and ends in large talons while the other is a fine lion’s fur that ends in oversized claws. She had two wings, one small and draconian, the other oddly jointed and furred. Finally, she has a beautiful, serene face with long goat ears and a rack of curling, reptilian horns that match her sinuous tail.

You try to see more about what she’s doing there, but it’s just too far away. Finishing your last piece of bread pouch, you quickly cast a [Remote Sentry] to get a better view.

As the spell comes into focus on a tree about fifty feet away, you see the Monster snap her gaze to the device, then to you, picking you out from the snow in an instant. You curse and pull back, getting ready to run when you hear a popping noise followed by multiple zipping sounds.

Turning about, you come face to face with the Monster, who looms over you while hovering gently over the snow. Your mouth goes dry as overwhelming power flows through the Monster before you, almost literally freezing you in place. Your eyes growing wide in horror, she raises one of her large arms and places the tip of a claw on your forehead.

A surge of panic flows through you and then everything jolts out of focus as you feel something probing your mind, raking through your thoughts. You groan at the intrusion, and twitch as your memories are poured over like books in a library. No… Damnit you don’t want this to happen, but what can you-?

Suddenly you remember what you had just read in the defensive magic book! You marshal what concentration you can to form something, anything to repel this invasion. As power flows through you, you feel something form in your mind, a strong light that coalesces into a radiant, armored knight that stands firm before the intrusion, thrusting it back with a sword of pure light and cooperation!

Your vision snaps back into place, thanks to your [Inner Guardian], and you watch as the Monster slowly retracts her claw, staring at it before looking back down to you. Instead of being terrified, you’re instead surprised to see tears trickling down her cheeks, making lines in the otherwise neutral visage. You make to back away when she raises the other hand and brilliant purple light forms into a ball over her palm.

“Fuck me…” You whisper as she goes to throw it when a loud, bellowing shout echoes through the mountains.

“Thiiiirrrrddddddd! Return to your Lady!”

The Monster looks off toward the sound and then back to you. Breathing rapidly through your nose, she seems to consider something before slowly lowering her hand, the light winking out. Turning from you, she begins to float away into the distance.

The popping noise sounds again and she blurs in motion as she zips away through the air toward a distant shape flying through the sky. Knees weak, arms heavy, you fall to the ground like sauce covered noodles, a cold sweat on your brow as you pant furiously. Oh Gods, that was…that was a Temple Guardian and… and she just probed your mind before leaving to see what could be only the Monster Lady herself.

A shiver that has nothing to do with the weather runs down your spine as you grab Chaika and run through the snow toward your party.

————————————————————————————–

You reach them as darkness comes down the valley, being found again by Hala who, “is getting sick of this shit.”

It seems they had made it through a narrow section of the pass, causing the snow to back up and secure their safety, but since the area was backed up so badly, it was impossible to get to you. Harmony and Bubs figured out you were alive and moved the cart around to get a better vantage to search for you but had to stop when night fell. All in all, it hadn’t been more than two days since they lost you.

Saya gives you a mighty hug when you return, one which you reciprocate whole-heartedly. Settling down in the eave of the wagon around a campfire, your daughter at your side, you tell your party about your little adventure with Fran, leaving out the nude part, and then what you learned about the fortress and your run in with Third, the Chimera. The others take this very seriously, especially since you have no idea how much information she stole from you.

“We’ll just have to keep the plan how it is. It’s too late to turn back.” Blake says, holding his hands before him as he speaks. “At least we know the Lady is still here, there is that.”

“I suppose…” Says Veronica, pushing at her meal. “That Chimera sounds… Dangerous though.”

“We’ve done dangerous.” Says Hala, waving her hand. “It’s fine, we’ve gotten through some tough stuff before, we can do it again.”

Tabitha pushes down her cap before sighing, “Hala… I hope it’s that easy, I really do.”

Everyone goes silent after that and the warmth of your bedroll is little comfort against the coldness everyone feels at those words.

As you lay in your bedroll, having won the drawing for the night off guard duty, you stare into the clear sky and the moon overhead, your thoughts still full of turmoil. If Blake was right, then you might reach the keep by tomorrow which means…

Well, one way or another, this adventure is reaching the end.

 

Chapter 174

 

Ahhh fuck this!

You can’t sleep with all this stress, even though you know you need to. Sighing, you rise out of your bedroll, huddling for warmth in your robes. Leaving Chaika, you walk over to Veronica, who sits next to the fire, staring off into the distance.

“Where’s Harmony?” You ask, taking a seat next to her on a rough log Hala had found in the snow. The construct is supposed to be the second person on watch at night, seeing as she can’t sleep and all. Well, you can deactivate her like in the mansion, but she seems terrified by that prospect.

“Hmm?” Asks Veronica, looking up from her helmet that she’s polishing. You don’t see her wearing the thing very much, but considering that things are about to get hectic, it seems prudent to take all the precautions she can.

“Oh, she went to grab fuel for the fire, probably shouldn’t be too long.” She raises an eyebrow, “Shouldn’t you be asleep though?”

You shrug, “Can’t, nerves.”

A soft chuckle escapes her lips, “Yeah I understand that.” Taking a deep breath she gives a wistful look off into the night. “It’s hard to believe we actually made it, what with everything that’s happened.”

“Like that boat ride?” You ask, smirking

“Or that horrid carnival.” She quirks back before sighing, “Even Cair… Sorry about all that still.”

“Eh. I said we wouldn’t talk about it.”

“Right, right.” She murmurs, looking down.

You rub your hands together over the small fire, the warmth suffusing your frozen fingers. The two of you sit there in silence for a few moments before you sigh and shake your head.

“You know, when I first met you, I thought you were some ‘holier than thou’ stuck up bitch with a complex for Blake.”

“Wow, that’s the kindest thing I’ve ever heard.”

“Yeah, well through all of this, I’ve really come to understand a little more about you. That underneath that exterior you try to put up, you’re a kind, caring woman who does her best in the only way she knows how. Someone who fights for the good of humanity, sacrificing her own joys for that of others.”

You smile, looking into her eyes before continuing.

“You’ve really changed my opinion about the Order. Kind of makes me sad there aren’t more people like you.”

She just stares at you, her mouth hanging slightly ajar before she blushes furiously and starts to polish her helmet again.

“I-idiot! S-saying something like that before a big battle, are you trying to trip me up?”

You chuckle as she gets flustered before leaning back and staring up into the night sky. Gods, but it’s sort of magical to see such a clear night full of stars.

“Hey… You know, my opinion of you has changed also.”

“Oh?” You say, looking back to her. She’s blushing while looking down, but her eyes flick up to you every so often.

“When I first met you, I thought you were… You know, just some foolish shut in sorcerer who didn’t know how to talk to people- especially women.”

You shrug, “You aren’t wrong.”

“Shush. Now, through all this, you’ve done some… questionable things, but when the chips were down, you’ve always come through for us.” She shakes her head. “We literally wouldn’t be here without you.”

Taking a deep breath she looks up into your eyes, hers gleaming in the firelight, features seeming far more delicate and exposed than you’d ever seen before.

“Thank you for everything.”

You feel your own cheeks heat up as nod your head to her slowly. Despite everything you’ve been through, those words really threatened to send you back to spilling noodles everywhere. You start to say something before coughing into your hand and mumbling, “Uhm, yeah thanks…”

She chuckles, “Ah, now that’s the Wizard I know.”

All you can do is roll your eyes as the sound of crunching snow heralds Harmony returning with an armful of sticks and other scraps of wood for the fire. She looks between you two and cocks her head.

“Am I interrupting something?”

You and Veronica share a look before chuckling. You wave a hand at Harmony. “Oh, it’s nothing.”

Harmony stands there for a moment before shrugging and kneeling down to feed the fire, stoking it to life once more. As you bask in the warmth, Veronica stands and stretches, her armor clinking.

“I think it’s about time for Hala to be up. I think I’ll go get her.”

“Hmm? Oh, alright, have a good night.” You say, waving at her as she makes to wake the Wolf Girl.

“What’s going on Wizard?”

You look over to Harmony, who has her arms crossed, tapping her foot in the snow. Your lip quirks.

“I should ask what’s going on with you? It’s nothing anyway, I just couldn’t sleep and was chatting with Veronica.” You smile. “You jealous or something?”

She huffs, “No, of course not.”

You chuckle. “Look, I was just telling her how much I appreciated her is all. This whole ‘final battle thing’ feels like I should speak my mind, you know? Never know what could happen…”

“Oh.” Harmony says, looking into the fire. She fidgets before whispering, “Do you think we could really die here?”

“I guess? This is the Monster Lady and her Temple Guardians, if there’s any place we would die…” You shake your head and look up at her, “Look, Harmony, I know you’ve come all this way with us, but for most of it you were trapped in that staff. Now that you have a body you… you don’t have to do this.”

Harmony watches the crackling sparks from the fire, silent for a few moments before saying, “Do you want me to leave?”

Blinking in surprise, you hold up your hands. “What? No, of course not! You’ve been amazing, probably one of the best things to happen to me, and not just because of your magic. You’re probably one of the kindest, most level-headed people I know.”

She turns her head up to you. “People? Even after all this, you still think of me as a person instead of some imprint of a dead bird?”

Sighing, you put hand on Harmony’s, feeling the chill of her adamantium plating against your warm flesh. “I never knew the original Harmonius, but I do know you Harmony, and I’ve never thought of you as anything other than a person.”

She shakes her head, whispering, “You know what the greatest flaw in this construct is?”

“No?”

“It can’t cry.”

She pauses before sighing and looking up. “I’ve been in your mind Wizard, I know what you’re saying is true, but hearing it… For some reason it makes it so much more real.”

“Well, it’s true.”

“Oh I know, I know.” She looks down to you. “Guess I know what Veronica was feeling there.”

You cock your head. Huh? Oh well, whatever. “Alright then, I guess. What are you going to do?”

“I’m staying.” She says, resolutely.

You nod your head. “What if I asked you to go?”

“Would you?”

You pause, looking down and wringing your hands. “I’ve been thinking about Saya and… How I don’t think I want her in this.” Gritting your teeth, you say, “If I asked you to take her from here, would you?”

She hesitates for only a moment before saying, “If that’s your wish. I owe you too much to say no.”

“Thanks Harmony, that means a lot.”

“Heeeeeeeeeeeyyyyyyy, you two seem real chummy tonight.” Says Hala, placing her hands on your shoulders.

Your spine stiffens and you feel your muscles tighten as the Wolf Girl puts her face in close, smiling. “Oh don’t be like that, I heard everything anyway. What a nice guy you are Wizard.”

“That was a private conversation!” Huffs Harmomy as the Wolf Girl sits down on the log, wiping some snow out of her fur.

Hala shrugs, “Yeah, well maybe you shouldn’t be so loud about it.” She smiles wolfishly and bats her eyes at you.

“What nice things do you have to say about me, Mr. Wizard?”

“You’re a cock gobbling mongrel who eats food off the floor and doesn’t know a shred of manners or propriety.”

She looks away, waving one hand while covering her face with the other. “Oh my, I’m so embarrassed, that’s just too much for me.”

You roll your eyes and exchange a look with Harmony, who shrugs. Grunting, you poke the smiling Wolf Girl on the forehead, only causing her to smile wider.

“Fine, you want some heartfelt bullshit?” You say, taking a deep breath. “Hala, I first met you as a starving mongrel out in the woods and… Well, I was a little scared of you. But I guess I was scared of all women, to be fair. So when you went for Blake, I have to say I felt relieved and a little annoyed I suppose.”

A sigh escapes your lips as you continue to speak.

“I watched as you went from a scared, hungry Monster to a fierce, feisty, and funny one who’s lack of decorum may be embarrassing…” You cough into your hands, “And arousing, but you always manage to make us smile, even if it’s with a groan.”

She stares as you continue.

“I know I got a little upset with you over the whole… Blake thing, but you know what? I’m glad you’re with him. You make him happy and he makes you happy and that’s what matters here. I can see it in his eyes every time you get hurt, and every time you happen to eat with your hands at the dinner table.”

You scratch your chin. “I’m not sure how much sense that really made, but Hala, despite everything, it’s been good having you around, and I hope that after all of this, you can live a happy life with Blake.”

Harmony and Hala both stare at you as you cross your arms and sigh, “That feel-good enough for you?”

Hala blinks a few times before reaching up and wiping some tears from her cheeks, doing her best to smile, “Yeah! Yeah that’ll work, heh.” She sniffs and then jabs your ribs, “arousing huh?”

“Yes, I heard that too.” Says Harmony.

You cough, looking around you. “Uh, well, you see, look, you have a nice body and it’s hard to deny it, but I’m not saying anything about and-“

Hala leans over and kisses your cheek, shutting you up. “It’s fine, I understand. Thank you Wizard, for saving my home, my love, and my life.”

She then pokes your nose and before pulling back and stretching. “Ugh, I am going to rip that bitch of a Monster Lady’s throat out for making her lair all the way out here, it’s cold as balls!”

Blinking, she cocks her head, “Actually I don’t get that one. Balls are really warm, especially when you put them in-“

You hold up a hand. “Yeah yeah, okay I get it.”

She giggles and leans back, “Shouldn’t you be asleep?”

You shrug, “Too much on my mind.”

“Huh, well why don’t you just write down your thoughts.”

You cock your head, blinking, “I’m sorry, what?”

She blushes, “It’s something Blake does. Has a whole journal he’s been keeping.”

“Of course he does…” You mutter before thinking about it. You know, this whole, “adventure,” would make a fantastic cyan rune story. Nodding to Hala, you stand up and head over to the wagon.

“Thanks for the idea, I think I’m going to do that.”

She smiles wide, sniffing. “Well, I do have a very refined mind.”

“Don’t get too high and mighty there wolfy.” You nod to Hala and then to Harmony. “Have a good evening.”

The two wave at you as you walk over to the wagon, sitting on one of the benches and pulling out some crystals and your [Port-o-glass], booting up the magical systems within. When it starts up, you search for a leyline and find-

What the fuck? The Groodle tether? All the way out here? How? Only humans, really only Wizards, used the leylines. That means that at some point they must have lived out here and set this all up, right?

Maybe the Ultimate Elixir really is out here…

Well, you’ll put the effort into contemplating that later. You have more important things to do than think about why the strongest leyline has such a good connection in the middle of nowhere. For now, you jump into the Communion Matrix and start a new matrix, weaving runes to begin your tale about a Wizard who had an unexpected guest…

 

Chapter 175

 

You barely notice when the sun starts to rise as Blake knocks on the side of the wagon.

Blinking, you look up at him, rubbing at your eyes. “Huh? Blake?”

He sighs, shaking his head. “Were you up all night?”

You look down, seeing a few new weaves appear on the glass.

>inb4 OP gets fucked by a Dragon.

>OP is a faggot who loves a cat.

>Why didn’t you fug the frog? Fucking best girl you fucker.

>I liked the bear. Id hold her hand.

You shake your head and sigh. It’s was a good time with these faceless bastards as you detailed your adventure, but by the Gods it had taken hours. It never occurred to you how long you’ve been out on this quest, but wow, it’s been weeks. It’s felt like most of a year though.

Looking down at the glass, you type one last reply and powering down the magic of the glass. You stretch, then put the glass away, speaking to Blake. “Yeah, I was just, you know, journaling our adventures is all.”

Blake narrows his eyes and then looks to Hala. “I told her not to say anything…” He shakes his head. “Well, it’s fine, not that it matters much. Anyway, are you going to be alright? We need you at your best when we do this.”

You wave a hand, “I’m fine, I’m fine, don’t worry about it, this is nothing.”

He nods, “Alright, well, let’s get ready to move out, we can talk about our plan of attack as we ride.”

You hold up a hand as he turns to go, “H-hey wait.” He turns around to you and you take in a deep breath. “You remember when you asked me back in Derrick if we were friends?”

He nods and you close your eyes before giving him a resolute stare. “Blake, despite our differences, despite some of our… altercations… I-” You take a deep breath. “I would say we are friends.”

Blake stares at you, eyes wide. It’s like he didn’t expect this at all! Geez.

He rubs at the back of his head. “Thanks Wizard. I…well I honestly didn’t expect to hear that from you.”

You raise your eyebrow. “Oh? Why not?”

“Well… you always seemed kind of… I don’t know.” He rubs at the back of his head. “Awkward around people?”

Chuckling, you hop down out of the wagon and slap his shoulder. “Well of course I am. I’m a fucking Wizard.”

He searches your eyes before smirking. “I’m glad you’re here Wizard.”

“And I’m glad you’re still the same ol’ Blake.”

He blinks as you walk away to go sit next to Saya, helping her wake up. She stirs gently in her bedroll, her body a little sludgy, but forming back as she wakes.

“Hmm? daddy?”

You smile and stroke her hair softly. Well, as it turns into hair anyway. “Hey, good morning.”

She smiles up at you and yawns before stretching, then sits up, jiggling a little. She looks down at herself before concentrating and solidifying. “Good morning. How are you?”

“I’m great, thank you.” You say, patting her head. “Hey now, it’s time to get ready for the day.”

“We’re going to beat the Monster Lady, right?”

You rub at the back of your head before sighing. “Well, yeah, that’s the plan anyway.”

Saya cocks her head in concern and you shake your head. “Don’t worry about it, it’s fine. Get your stuff ready.”

She looks down and then nods her head, “Okay,”

You watch as she rolls up her bedroll and helps with breakfast before you go to packing up your supplies. As you do so Tabitha walks up and puts a hand on her hip.

“What’s that about?”

“Huh?” You ask, blinking up at her.

“You heard me, you’re acting strange around the girl.”

Your gaze turns to Saya before you sigh. “I’m thinking about sending her away with Harmony before the fight.”

“Uh huh,” Says Tabitha, looking at the girl who is cheerfully stirring a pot under the supervision of Blake. “Like you could do that.”

You frown at Tabitha, “What do you mean?”

She shrugs, “You’d tear yourself apart if you were away from that girl.” She smirks, “Much, much different from the Wizard I first met anyway.”

“Oh lord, did they tell you about last night?”

“Not in so many words, and I don’t want any sappy speech about how I’ve grown in your eyes. That’s just asking for something bad to happen.”

You finish wrapping up your bedroll before picking up Chaika. Dusting the snow off you, you say to her, “Well, if that’s the case, then I’ll just keep quiet about how much I respect you as a warrior and as a person.”

Turning to go, she catches your arm and you turn back to her, eyebrow raised.

She looks away for a moment before grunting and looking into your eyes, “Go on.”

It takes all your will to keep from beaming in smugness. “Well, I suppose I’d also keep quiet about how I really appreciate your training, your impartial thinking, your martial skill, and your commitment to your values.”

She quirks her lip. “Is that so?”

You raise a finger, “Of course, assuming I spoke up about such things.”

She shakes her head. “Well, I suppose I’ll have to keep quiet about how I think you’re a great warrior. I’ll need to say nothing about how you’re strong of mind and body, if a little strange at times, but have a good heart and a powerful will.” She shrugs. “If such things were said.”

You smirk, “Oh, well, I’m glad we aren’t saying that then.”

She outright laughs and then, the biggest surprise of them all, walks up and hugs you tightly. “Me too Wizard, me too.”

You’re caught totally off guard before she lets you go and resumes her normal, impassive appearance. She nods to you before pulling down her cap and returning to work on breaking camp.

You rub at your cheek, watching her go and remarking on how tender her hug was when a voice rings in your head.

{Uh huh, sure, leave me in the snow all night and go around professing your heartfelt love to alllllll the ladies.}

Blinking, you look to Chaika as she considers, {And the men I guess. Weird how you get along with Blake, but it’s kind of hot.}

You roll your eyes, {Do you want me to praise you snake-tits?}

She pauses for a moment before murmuring, {Maybe a little…}

You chuckle, {Fine. Look, I don’t appreciate how you try to twist me into darkness, but since you’ve come to speak with me, I’ve appreciated your sense of humor and your personality. Even though in life you were some kind of homicidal snake lady, I think as you are now… Well, I’m glad your here.}

{Heh, is that so? You’d even forgive the one who tried to kill you?}

{Well, technically you’re just the impression of a dead Lamia, so…}

{Bahhh…} Chaika begins, mentally dismissing you, before continuing on. {Do you know why I went to Varruck?}

You cock your head, thinking. Huh, you never really wondered before, you just sort of… thought she was always there.

{Uh, no?}

She mentally sighs. {Well, originally, I was a priestess of Dollora under the Monster Lady.}

Your spine stiffens. {What?}

{Not the current one mind you, her mother. She was a more… gentle soul than that brat. Regardless, I did my best to counsel them on the best way to further Dollora’s goals and the world of Monster-kind. Hells, I was even fond of them for a while, but in the end my true goal was to be the High Priestess.}

Her voice goes icy cold then, {Of course, that’s when Tolosh beat me out for the position. She forced the rest of us to follow her version of Dollora’s word and to focus upon monsterization and the Dark Magic.}

{Wait, wait,} you send, confused. {But you murdered, transformed, and enslaved people, what the hells?}

{True, in my rage at being defeated, I left south and started a little crusade to fight against her, forming up an army in the kingdom of man.} She sighs, {Of course, then that bitch beat me and chained me to a wall for years.}

You shake your head, {Is this story supposed to make me feel sorry for you? That you were beaten back and forced to enslave an entire town?}

{No…} She whispers. {It’s just to let you know who I was.}

Sighing, you shake your head. {I see.}

{Do you think less of me?}

{I know who you were, and I know who you are now. You’ve saved my life and are someone I consider a friend. I understand that you did some terrible things before, but what you’re doing now… Well, that’s what matters.}

{You’re going to make me emotional, you dumb Wizard.} Chaika sends, mentally tearing up.

{Seems we’re a little late for that one, heh?}

{Yeah…heh.} Chaika sends before taking a deep, figurative breath. {Right. Well, glad we had this conversation.}

{You’re an odd one, Chaika.}

{The name is…} She pauses. {Actually, forget it. Chaika works.} You feel a sense of ease and perhaps happiness in that mental voice. You shake your head and wander over to pick up Bubs, who’s hiding in a pile of refuse. Rolling your eyes, you pull the rat out as he whines in your head.

{Nooooooooo! Let me sleep another five minutttessss!}

{Bubs, you can sleep on the wagon.}

{Sure, but I lost five minutes EXTRA sleeping time.}

You sigh and rub at your forehead, {Fine, whatever, I’ll need you at your best when we search for the elixir.}

{Hmm? Not kill the Monster Lady, but search for the elixir eh?}

{Yeah, remember that’s our main goal.}

{What about your lover eh?}

You pause and look to the side before taking a heated bread pouch out of your [Pocket Dimension]. {Heeeeey, who wants a Bubsy snack?}

The rat eyes you, giving you a “Really, faggot?” look before rolling his eyes and jumping over to eat the bread pouch. As he munches he thinks, {You can’t run away from this you know.}

{Yeah, yeah…} You send, rolling your eyes before becoming a more serious. {Hey Bubs… are you happy being a familiar?}

{Hmm? Yep, mhm.}

{Are you sure? Do you… regret being through all this?}

Bubs sighs and then looks up at you, shaking his head. {Look, Wizard, I could have run away at anytime- it would have been easy. Hells I could have rejected your spell to make me like this, but damnit, you’re my bro and my boss, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.}

He chews on the pouch. {Besides, you feed me well, so whatever.}

You roll your eyes and pet his head, causing him to squeak in delight.

Finished with breakfast, everyone loads up in the cart. As you sit down, you notice Delilah staring at you, eyes blazing. Oh good, what did you do this time?

 

Chapter 176

 

“Uh… Yes Delilah?”

“You fucker. I was in this fucking wagon all night and you didn’t say a Gods damned word to me.”

You rub the back of your neck. “We-well, I was busy you see…”

“Uh huh, sure.”

Sighing, you pinch your nose. “Delilah, I’m sorry alright?” Feeling the power of tiredness and your emotions on edge, you don’t just leave that there though, “I’m sorry as well for destroying your body, for putting you in this position, and for asking so much of you.”

You chuckle, shaking your head, “And yet, despite this, you still helped us in the manor. Hells you haven’t even tried to kill us recently, so I thank you for that. Maybe when this is all done, I’ll find you a new body or something. If all goes well, we may have a glut of corpses as it stands.”

She rolls her eyes. “Fine, whatever. I just wanted to rustle you anyway.” You notice she’s blushing some and you sigh before reaching over and ruffling her hair, causing her to squeak.

“H-hey!” She says, blushing more. “Stop that! I am the night!”

You chuckle and lean back from the annoyed Dullahan, who puffs hair out of her eyes, grumbling about how “this is an injustice” and that “she doesn’t actually enjoy this” and whatever. All things considered, she’s got a good head on her… neck…

Shaking your head, you look over to see Saya wink and give you a silly look. You roll your eyes and rub her head as well, much to her delight. For some reason all your worries start to dissolve before you remember what you wanted to say. As your rubs subside, she looks into your eyes, concerned.

“Something wrong, daddy?”

Retracting your hand, you sigh out before looking at her. “Saya… Look, you know I love you, right?”

“Of course.”

“And I don’t know what I’d do if you got hurt…which is why I want to ask something very important of you.”

She studies your face as you take a deep breath. “Saya, I want you to go with Harmony and not enter the keep with us.”

The whole of the wagon goes quiet as Saya looks up, judging you. You feel your heart beating faster as one eye starts to shift to a spider-like state before switching back as she takes in a deep breath of her own.

“No.”

You pull back, spine stiffening. “What if I didn’t give you a choice?”

“Then I’d find a way out. Miss Harmony is strong, but she can’t stop me.” She gives a toothy grin. “No one can keep me from you.”

Hanging your head, you sigh out, “Saya, this is going to be very dangerous, any of us, me included, could die.” You grit your teeth, “I couldn’t live with myself if anything happened to you.”

She puts a hand to your cheek and smiles. “Daddy, please don’t worry about me. I know I’m your little girl, but at the end of the day I’m just some mixture of Monster parts. I’m a killer, regardless of whatever else happens and… I accept that.”

Shaking her head, she continues. “What I can’t accept is to let you go alone, worrying if you’re alive or dead. Without you I’d be lost and alone in this world. I… I might slip again if that happens and… I don’t want to hurt people again.”

Tears appear in her eyes and she looks up to you. “Please don’t make me go.”

You breathe in deeply before pulling her into a big hug. She starts to cry into your chest as you look up, trying to keep your own, tired emotions in check. You rub at her head before kissing her hair and whispering softly, “I love you.”

“I… I love you too daddy!” She wails. Everyone else looks on with appreciative eyes, but you ignore them, your world focused on Saya.

With a shake of his head, Blake starts the wagon forward, plodding through the snow up to the keep.

————————————————————————————–

A little while later you find yourself with some extra time on your hands. Saya has fallen asleep again and the others are talking to themselves. You decide that checking over your equipment sounds like a good thing to do to kill the time.

Checking over your [Plague Doctor Mask], you make certain its sealed and tight before assessing the condition of all your potions. Finding them to be quite well sealed and ready, you however look at the [Chilled Semen] in disgust. Chaika perks up in your mind when you pull it out however, and Delilah gives you a sidelong glance, lingering on the vial before you put it away.

Thirsty one, isn’t she?

Next you pull out the [Wightbane], checking its edge and seeing that it’s still quite sharp and menacing. You slide it onto your belt next to your mundane knife, which is maintained well enough since you had Tabitha help you sharpen it earlier.  Heh, your [Hexagrammic Wards] are still there, but they’ll probably be useless in this keep unless there’s minions about or something, but come on. Come on.

As you look over your [Robes of Protection], you notice Tabitha staring at her sword with consternation. Cocking your head, you looking around and see Veronica polishing her mace once again. You wonder why Tabitha would make such a face when- Oh.

“Let me see your sword.”

Tabitha blinks and then narrows her eyes at you before looking over the blade. “Why?”

“It’s obvious you want an enchanted weapon, so come on, give it here.”

She frowns but slowly hands over the blade as you pull out your [Wizard’s Chalk] and start to inscribe the [Sigil of Fire]. As soon as you finish the last line and infuse your power, the sigil shines brightly before fading away into the metal. A moment later the blade ignites into flames, causing everyone to jump back, cursing as they try to not be burned.

You sit there, flaming sword of fire in front of your face, and chuckle. “Wow. This is really fucking hot.”

Tabitha growls and snatches the blade from you, her eyes dancing in the firelight of the blade. She looks it over before quickly sheathing the blade, extinguishing the flames. Everyone looks between you and Tabitha, the Lizardman staring at you for a long while, causing you to sweat a little.

“Wizard…” She begins. “Am I a Salamander?”

“Uh…no?”

“Then why would you give me a flaming sword?”

“B-because I thought you’d like it?”

She narrows her eyes at you, causing you to shiver. A moment later, she smiles. “Well you were right. I do like it. Good for you, because if you had ruined my blade I’d have killed you.”

You wipe your brow before looking down, a little terrified. She might well have done it!

Blinking, you look up and notice that the wagon has stopped moving. Blake shakes his head at you before stretching.

“I think this is a good a time as any for a rest stop.”

 

Chapter 177

 

You pull over near a small copse of trees, thankfully under a fair sky, although it looks like the clouds may pull in soon. Everyone takes a food break, stretches, etc. After eating you sit there, rubbing Saya’s head. She giggles some, making you smile as you stare out into the wilderness.

{Hey faggot.} Sends Chaika from beside you.

You don’t even turn to her as you answer mentally. {Yes my angry little snake?}

{Give me some of that semen.}

You roll your eyes and look over at the knife stick. She pulses with a cool sense of restrained need, as if she’s dying to try and force you to give it to her but is somehow keeping herself from going full tyrannical bitch. It warms your heart some to see how far she’s come!

{Hrm…} You think. She does deserve a reward for being so good recently, and she has been a little starved for the white stuff. Maybe she does deserve a treat. Besides, it’s not like you’re going to use the stuff yourself.

Yourself… That thought takes you down a path of concern. The keep will be full of the most powerful Monsters in the world ready to kill or rape you- not to mention Selene herself. The thought unfortunately makes your loins stir and you have the sudden fear that if in the heat of battle you’re to be distracted or taken advantage of because of your, uh… “aura” then you’ll be in some deep shit.

You seriously consider this as Chaika grows ever more impatient next to you. Her frustration rising is almost palpable as you consider your options. Right before she’s to burst in anger, you stand up and grab her, shuffling uncomfortably.

“Something wrong, daddy?” Asks Saya, looking up at you.

You look down at her and smile, shaking your head. “It’s nothing, be a good girl and wait here for a while I run and go do something.”

She nods her head and looks back to knife she’d used earlier. You feel better knowing she has a weapon to defend herself, although in all actuality her own body is far more lethal.

You sigh and walk over to grab a bucket from the wagon when you notice Delilah staring at you intently. Feeling mildly uncomfortable as you take the bucket out of the wagon, you turn to hurriedly dash off when she whispers,

“Going for a little wank?”

Your spine stiffens and you look back to Delilah whose lip is curled in a smug smile. “How about you take me along and no one else needs to know, hmm?”

You look around before hissing, “I can’t do that, they’ll know!”

Her smile grows wider, “Not if I remove all the evidence.”

You groan and she rolls her eyes, “Or I could tell them what you’re doing, undermine their confidence in you after your big speech and…”

You throw up your hands before scooping up the head. “Ugh, fine.”

She just smirks and chuckles, “Death always wins out in the end.”

Grumbling again, you try to fumble the bucket, staff, and head, finding it rather annoying to do so. Everyone watches you with rather surprised expressions as you try this silly feat and, after a few moments, Veronica walks up, rubbing at the back of her head.

“Wizard, what the hells are you doing?”

“I’m uh, going to get some water.” You lie, like the smooth fox you are.

“With Delilah.” It isn’t a question but an accusation.

“I wanted same fresh air.” The head says, meeting the Aspirant’s gaze. The two narrow their eyes at each other, their expressions oddly similar as they try to somehow out glare the other.

Eventually Veronica throws up her hands. “Fine, whatever, but you’re going to spill the water if you keep fumbling like that, so leave your staff here.”

{Why don’t you leave your stupid whore m-} Starts Chaika before you cut her off with a very stern mental backlash. She grumbles as you address Veronica again.

“I’d rather have it in case anything happens out there.”

Veronica shakes her head, then thinks about it moment before sighing. “Alright then, let me see the head for a moment.”

“I have a name you know.” Mutters Delilah as Veronica takes her up and fishes out some rope from the wagon. She cuts a small length before expertly tying elaborate knot work around the head and then cinching it to your belt, forming a morbid little sling.

You stare in wonderment, sharing a glance with Delilah before you both look to Veronica.

“Huh, well, this will… work.” You say, your motion causing Delilah to sway.

“It’s acceptable. Where did you learn such skills anyway?” The Dullahan asks.

Veronica blushes before looking away. “I…may have been the daughter of a fisherman.”

Blake pops his head up from the papers he’s writing. “A damn fine one at that. Occasionally we’d go out and catch fish for the Order in our early training together and-“

Veronica rushes up to him and puts her hands on his mouth, blushing furiously. “Don’t tell them that!”

Blake pulls back, giving his million-gold smile, “But you were so feisty that day we caught that snapper, and I remember when you fell into the-“

She groans, pushing at him. The others chuckle before she turns about, glaring to you. “Just get out of here!”

You shake your head and turn about while Veronica huffs and fake punches the poor Hero. As you pass by Saya she looks up at you, eyes hopeful.

“Can I go with you?”

Your heart cracks a little at her tone, and your chest feels like a sledgehammer hit it as you grunt. “No, I’m afraid not this time.”

She pouts, flicking at the snow. “Oh, fine.”

As you get out of sight of the camp, Delilah perks up.

“That would have been very awkward.”

“What?” You ask, a little annoyed.

“Jacking off in front of your daughter. I’ve heard of worse but-“

You violently shake the head, causing her to look around in confusion as she tries to orient herself before glaring up at you. Shaking your head in a perfectly reasonable fashion, you just keep walking. She stares at you before sighing.

“No jokes when it comes to that one, huh?”

“Nope.”

“Oh very well then. Still, what’s made you decide to release a little?”

You grow silent until you reach a small river. With two flicks of your wrist you cast some quick [Remote sentries] to make certain nothing comes upon you as you… get busy. Seeing and sensing nothing, you sigh and detach the head, staring into her eyes.

“What, are you going to kiss me or something?” She says flatly, although you swear you can see a glimmer of surprise in her eyes. Man, fucking Monsters.

“You wish. Anyway, look, it’s only because I don’t want to be so full of what Monsters crave and maybe clear my head and-” You cut off there, looking off to the side as you grumble.

Delilah looks at you critically before narrowing her eyes. “And what, Wizard?”

“Nothing. Look, let’s just get this over with.”

“And WHAT Wizard?” She repeats with more force.

You pull back, blinking at the unusual amount of vigor she displays. “What’s got into you all of a sudden?”

“You’re hiding something.”

“We’re all hiding something, it’s the nature of our being.”

“True, but what I’m hiding is my natural instincts to magically bind you, roll over and suck your cock into oblivion, but at least I’m honest about it.”

You blink, seeming surprised. “Uh, what?”

“This is something emotional isn’t it? I’ve seen people in every sort of emotion, seen their inner psyche before they die, heard the whispers of the dead. I know that you’re keeping something from the others, what is it?”

You grunt and set her down before fumbling at your belt. “Look, just let me get this over with…”

“Keep your pants on.” Delilah snaps.

Your eyes go wide at the command, utterly shocked at her tone. The head glares at you, eyes nearly on fire in the snowy ground. You lick your lips at the force of it, slowly removing your hand from your belt.

{H-hey! Don’t let that head stop you! Come on, you were so close to-}

{Please. Not now Chaika.} You whisper in your mind. Surprisingly, she quiets.

Looking down at Delilah, you sigh. “Don’t tell the others this, but…” Your grip tightens on Chaika before saying softly,

“The temple guardian, Selene? I… I love her.”

 

Chapter 178

 

Delilah stares up at you, silent as the grave for a long time. A chill wind flows past and causing your robes and her hair to swing in the breeze. Finally, she grunts out, “Heh, a Wizard who loves a Monster. What a world.”

“Don’t tell the others, it… I might make things complicated and…”

She closes her eyes. “Oh I won’t tell them. You will, although when is up to you.”

“I…” You begin before looking down. “I don’t know.”

“Well, whatever then, either you will or you won’t, but let me tell you that if you don’t, things will be very, very complicated for you.” She looks over at the river. “Come on then, let’s get this water and go.”

You blink, looking confused, “Wait, you don’t want-?”

She huffs, “Of course I want a steaming hot load of freshly milked jizz, but what’s in your sack doesn’t belong to me, does it?”

Honestly you’re shocked by this revelation. That a Monster would outright refuse when the offer is… Well, you frankly didn’t expect it, especially considering how much she had practically bullied you for the stuff. It makes you realize just how seriously many Monsters take concepts such as loyalty.

But with that thought you feel the blood rushing through your body. Saving this for Selene huh? Would she even want that from you? You feel your cheeks heat up as you imagine her eyes sparkling in delight as you remove your pants, exposing yourself to the-

A shiver runs down your spine. No… No you can’t just… That’s unwizardly! Even if such thoughts are running through your head more and more often. Though, the thought of Selene’s warm body against yours, her fluffy tails draped across your arms as she brings her face to yours…

“Of course, it seems like you’re just going to let some out as it stands.” Mocks Delilah, snapping you to attention.

“What? Oh, no, I just…”

She chuckles. “Oh you can, if you want, but wouldn’t it be so much nicer to save a nice, big load for her?”

You grunt, picking up the bucket and walking through the cold snow to the river. Scooping some into the wooden container, you turn around, annoyed to find yourself blushing. Delilah just keeps chuckling as your cheeks grow ever more heated.

“Oh I’m only playing with you Wizard. Look, we’ll just forget this happened huh?”

You sigh and shake your head. “Fine, fine.” Looking over at the head you take a deep breath and then reach into your bag, pulling out a vial of [Chilled Semen]. Muttering, you cast a small fire spell to warm it up to nice body temperature before leaning down and offering the vial.

“Here, at least take something.”

She looks at you curiously before smirking. “Thanks. Put it up to my lips.”

You take the cork off and put it up to her lips where she runs her tongue slowly over the lip of the vial. She closes her eyes, pulling the vial in with suction while gently using her mouth to, well, please the vial. It’s hard not to feel hot and bothered by the expert way she uses her tongue to take up the contents, smoothly draining the warm liquid into her.

When the vial is finished, she lets it go before hanging out her tongue, a small string of thick saliva stuck to the lip of the vial. Licking it back in, she coos in pleasure.

“Mmm… An excellent vintage.”

You cough and wipe the vial off as she basks in the afterglow, her magical power increasing before your eyes. Next to you, Chaika begins to burn some hard to discern emotion, but she doesn’t say anything. It’s weird, she was so gung-ho before, but now she’s practically as bashful as a schoolgirl.

{Chaika…} You think, poking the knife-stick. {Do you want some too?}

She mentally fidgets. {Yes…}

{Say please.} You press.

{P-please.}

{Please what?}

She pauses for a moment before practically screaming, {Please give me some of your hot, sticky jizz!}

Your eyes fly open wide and you practically choke at the surprise of those words. Warming up another vial, you feel Chaika looking on eagerly as it reaches the right temperature. Only then do you remember that she can’t feel heat or anything, but hey, you’re not going to remind her. When it reaches a nice temperature, you take the top off and then pause.

{How I am to do this anyway?}

{Just pour it all over me.}

Your heart skips a beat at such a lewd request, but you take the vial and slowly pour its milky contents over the knife, the blade practically shining as the viscous liquid runs over it.

It occurs to you how weird this is when you notice that the semen begins to be absorbed into the blade itself. Chaika seems more and more animated with every drop that flows into her. You cock your head as the last of it vanishes, and you cough into your hand before mentally asking,

{Enjoyed it?}

She sighs out, {Wonderful…}

You shake your head and say out loud, “Okay that’s enough erotica for me today, let’s had back to camp and-“

“Wait.”

You pause, looking at Delilah, who sighs out, “Are you truly ready for this fight?”

Rubbing at the back of your head, you sigh, “I guess I’m as ready as I can be, I don’t see what much else I can do.”

“Are you certain you don’t wish to learn dark magic?”

You pause, thinking about it. Dark magic is powerful, but-

Selene’s warnings and her face appear in your mind from the time when you were first under Chaika’s influence. You don’t want to see her like that again, not for anything. You close your eyes and shake your head Delilah. “No, thank you.”

The Dullahan closes her eyes and then sighs out slowly. “Very well then. At least you have your morals. Come then, let me teach you a spell of thy lord.”

You blink, looking incredulous. “A-A spell of Nerg?”

“Plagamancy, aye. This spell was forbidden in the lands of men for centuries, and as the art of Plagamancy has been lost, so has this.”

“What…what is it?”

“[Fester]. It is a spell which can only be used against those who already have disrupted humours, however it focuses upon these faults and rips the humors apart from the inside, destroying them. Used on a living being it almost invariably leads to a messy, painful death.”

You blink then grit your teeth, feeling uncomfortable. “Look, that sounds… Well, devastating, but I’d already have to mess with humours and that’s… Well, it’s gotten more difficult.”

She sighs, rolling her eyes, “As well it should be, this isn’t something for the weak to play at, you must be committed if you wish to use this spell as it is literally a finisher.”

She locks onto you, eyes narrowing, “What’s it going to be?”

You grip Chaika hard, thinking it through. Eventually you sigh out, looking into the Dullahan’s eyes.

“Teach me.”

 

Chapter 179

 

About an hour later you wander back into camp with the bucket full of water, looking exhausted. You set down the water and plop down, feeling your exhaustion flow through you.

Blake grunts as you appear. “We almost sent out a search party for you. What took you so long?”

You wave a hand, “Delilah was quite the chatterbox.”

The Dullahan huffs as you take her off your belt. “Don’t try to pin this on me.”

Blake merely shakes his head. “Well, now that you’re all here, I wanted to go over our battle plan.”

Everyone perks up as Blake holds up a sheet of paper detailing drawings of a structure. It isn’t complete, but it also looks rather old, if the yellowing of the page meant anything.

“I received this from Lord Highfield back in the capital. It’s the only record of the Keep of the Forgotten. It’s incomplete however. Either the other parts are lost to time, or were just never finished, but what we do have is the bottom floors.”

He points to a few sections on the page. “There are three ways into the Keep. The front bridge, the aqueducts, and this escape funnel.”

“The front door is, of course, out of the question, and the aqueducts sound like a great way to die of hypothermia. Which leaves the escape tunnels. Fortunately, the chances of the Monsters knowing about this is slim as these things are usually hidden very, very well, but if they know about it and are waiting for us, it would be from here.”

Tabitha grunts, “Sounds like our best bet anyway. We can flood the tunnels with magic if we need to also.”

Blake nods, “Yes. Now then, the rest of the keep…” He points to the drawing, “I believe our best bet to find the Lady is to go up through these service passages. Sadly I do not know where they lead to, but I assume it would allow us to at least make it to the next floor before a proper defense can be mounted.”

He passes the page around and when it gets to you, you search for any signs of a chamber for the Ultimate Elixir and… nothing. Well, that would be too easy.

When it reaches Blake again he sighs and tucks it away. “We don’t know much else beyond that. I won’t lie, this will be difficult. At the very least we know that one Temple Guardian is there, but if the other two are also present, our best course would be to isolate and destroy them one by one.”

Your feel a pang in your chest as they talk about killing Selene, but you keep it to yourself. Now isn’t the time to tell them… right?

“How do you suggest we go about fighting them?” Asks Veronica, a stern look on her face.

Blake shrugs, “I’m not certain. We don’t know much about the Chimera, though it sounds like she’s powerful in magic. We will have to be very careful how we handle her.”

“And the other two?” Cuts in Hala, curiously on her face.

“Well… As for the High Priestess I believe if we destroy her hair, we should be able to remove her effectiveness. The Hunter though…” He shakes his head. “Her power is said to be immense.”

“I’ll deal with her.” You say quietly. Everyone looks to you with curious expressions as you look into Blake’s eyes. “She’s mine.”

Blake searches your expression for a moment before he narrows his eyes and takes a deep breath. “Very well then.” He says, before turning to the others. “The Lady, as a Dragon, will be strong, fast, and tough. We’ll have to work together to take her down, but Lionsedge should be more than capable of cutting through her hide.”

He smiles, his expression like a bright flame in the darkness. “We’ve come a long way together everyone. The end of our quest is in sight. Don’t lose hope and believe in yourself and everyone here. We will win and stop this Invasion.” He closes his eyes,

“We must win.”

Everyone nods their head at this, understanding the importance of his words. You have to win or else Deleor stands to be cast into chaos, everyone understands. But you… you still have your other goal at hand, and it wouldn’t be fair not to at least give some warning.

“Hero… Blake. There is something I must tell you. It’s something I’ve kept to myself since we left Sanctifrond, but…”

“Hmm?” He says, looking at you. Gritting your teeth, you force yourself to speak.

“Inside this keep, there is an artifact of great power to a Wizard. When we enter, I believe I may be able to track it down and..” You take in a deep breath. “If I believe I’ve found it, I will have to disengage from the party.”

A cold wind blows through as Blake lowers his head. “I figured as much. I always knew you had a different purpose for being here.”

He stands straight and then nods to you. “Well, we will appreciate your help throughout regardless. Thank you, Wizard.”

Everyone else nods and murmurs to you. You’re… surprised that they took it so well. Blake claps his hands. “Let’s pack up, not too much farther to go!”

Everyone springs to do so. As you place Delilah in the wagon though, you feel a hand on your shoulder. You turn around to see Veronica staring at you, her eyes searching yours. “Are you really going to just leave like that?”

You nod your head, “It’s very important.”

“More than stopping a Monster Invasion?”

“…Possibly.”

Veronica lets go of your shoulder before sighing. “Very well then.” She merely turns about and starts loading up her gear, not saying anything further. You grit your teeth. Damnit, you didn’t mean for it to seem so callous but… Damnit.

————————————————————————————–

Once again, a quiet has descended upon the wagon, whether through your words or Blake’s, but obviously their minds are elsewhere. You feel sleep pulling on you, but you also know that there is much more you can do to prepare yourself for the upcoming battle.

With a sigh, you pull out [Defensive Magic Volume 3] and continue to read where you left off.

“With an inner guardian summoned, the practitioner can now fend off mental attacks, or can they? The inner guardian is quite adept and defending from attacks within the mental sphere, but only when they actively are inside the mind. What about those which affect perceptions or are too hard to detect? A crafty sorcerer can enter the mind of even a defended person and slip in, doing their work before the practitioner ever notices!

“The obvious choice for this is an “overwatch” of sorts by the inner guardian. By projecting the guardian, at the cost of a hefty amount of mana, the inner guardian will proactively search for and eliminate mental attacks before they enter the mental sphere. Note that this can drain mana very quickly and has no physical application, even if the manifestation can appear visible to the eye.”

[Manifestation] huh? You close your eyes and focus on your [Inner Guardian]. The form of a shining paladin of light appears in your mind, his helmeted head still somehow smiling at you. You concentrate on this being and it seems or shimmer, as if understanding your will and, for a brief moment, you can swear it’s floating before you, staring into your physical eyes before it vanishes into nothingness.

Woah, that was trippy as hell. But probably very useful! Probably.

You lean back, puffing. Well, that’s most of what you can probably get from this book as the rest is just different applications and creation of various Inner Guardian forms. Theory which is interesting, but impractical. Though as you think about this, you feel your eyes slowly begin to drift downward, feeling the weight of the world start to pull you down into a thick haze of sleep…

————————————————————————————–

You awaken to a rough shove and you blink to find Tabitha shaking you. “Wizard, come on, it’s time to go.”

Shaking your head, you look about, confused. “Ready to go and do-“

You silence yourself as you look outside the wagon. In the near distance, looming on the side of a cliff-face is a massive structure carved directly from the dark rock. The sheer scale of the place is imposing as the hells with multiple towers, crenellations, and ramparts. What really chills your bones though is the cool ebb of power that leaks from it in small waves.

The snow has begun again, reminding you just how cold you are. Blake had pulled the wagon into a small copse of trees next to the cliff face, doing his best to try and make a warm spot for the horses, but he can only do so much. You sure hope Mr. Ed will be okay…

Gulping, you slide down from the wagon to stand next to the others as they put on their gear and prepare supplies for the trip in. You nod to each of them before making certain Saya is ready. Harmony is busy fussing over her already though, and you smile, getting a reaction from the girl.

“You sure about this?” You ask. She nods her head.

“Dad. Please.”

You bow your head. Of course she’s ready.

Finishing his task, Blake takes up his gear and nods to the rest of you. “Alright, let’s do this.” He turns about to lead the way when you hear that same bellowing roar as before the avalanche. This time, however, it’s more… feral in a way, more monstrous. Everyone looks at each other nervously, but Blake pushes on, not showing a hint of discomfort.

The trek through the snow is arduous and more than once someone trips and falls, but after about an hour of travel as the sky is darkening, you reach the edge of the cliff near the back of the mountain. Blake grunts as he searches about, cross referencing the diagram and the surroundings. You have a fear well up on you that perhaps Blake had been duped, that there is no secret entrance, when he chuckles and pushes on a piece of rock.

The wall of stone seems to shift inward, opening up to a gust of drafty air, forcing Blake to stagger back, holding up an arm. Everyone grows tense as this happens, but when no threats appear, Blake smiles and nods to enter.

The tunnel is large enough of fit three people abreast. Deciding on a plan, you enter with Blake and Harmony at the front and Tabitha at the rear, the rest of you in the middle.

It’s a simple thing of carved stone reinforced with brick columns. Due to the darkness, Harmony carries a lantern, the soft light playing down hallway. Everyone is on their full alert, you scanning for magic while Hala sniffs the air, but neither of you are getting anything at all. Which is good! Scary, in a way, but good!

The tunnel seems to stretch for an eternity, nothing changing. The longer you walk in here though, the more oppressive the air feels. It’s disturbing in a way. A shiver goes down your spine as you hear a small skittering noise and look down to see a rat who is not Bubs squeak away into the darkness.

Blake looks down at the diagram and frowns. “We should be reaching a larger intersection hallway soon, and then it’s not far to the service tunnels, just a little farther-“

Hala growls and the party immediately stops. At the same moment you feel magical force ahead, the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. Eyes forward, you scan, but see nothing yet.

“Grrrrr, three humans ahead, although they aren’t quite…” Hala scrunches her nose. “Right.”

Everyone looks to each other before nodding and dashing forward as a light appears ahead, growing brighter and brighter until you enter a large chamber of rock and brick, where three men stand.

Each man is tall, muscular, and scantily clad, despite the cold. One man has a sword in a hand, doing a strange pose with a knee up in the air while another has a spear he holds behind himself while crouched. The third has an arcane book held in one hand while the other covers his face,

They say nothing as you approached and spread out into the room, studying the strange display. You look around at them, still as statues, but they’re obviously see watching all of you. Frowning, you notice with surprise that Blake’s eyes are wide, his mouth open while Veronica looks on in furious rage.

“Chad? Todd? RJ?” Blake says, incredulous. “W-what are you doing here? I thought you were captured in Galmathoria!”

One of the men, the one with the sword smiles. “Blake, bro, it’s good to see you again!” He slowly shifts his position, the other two moving in synch with him.

“Of course, it’s a shame we’ll have to kill you here, but Mistress Tolosh told us to.”

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3 thoughts on “Wizardquest Part 18: Cold Confessions”

    1. Oh hey! Thanks for reading these, sorry for not commenting until now. I love seeing the emails with your comments, it really brightens my day. I’m sorry about the poor grammar and spelling, I will edit them out someday, but that’s directly how they were from the threads and the broken ipad they were touch screen typed on.

      Hope to see you at the end!

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