Wizardquest Part 5: Big Trouble in Little Varruck

Chapter 38

 

In the near distance you see the town of Varruck, a low wooden wall surrounding the town proper. Multiple farms dot the landscape all around, providing sustenance to this town it seems. As you pass by children peer at you through shutters and doors, slamming them closed when they catch you looking. It’s an odd feeling, but seeing other humans again makes you feel fantastic. At least they won’t try to rape you or, if they do, you can defend yourself pretty well against that sort of thing.

As you bask in the sensation you notice Blake and Hala exchanging looks. Their expressions are worried, perhaps even on edge. You cock your head and listen, a thought coming to you.

“Shouldn’t there be… more monsters around?”

Hala nods her head. “It has been years since I visited, but yes, there were others who lived out in the farms, and around this time they should be active…”

You turn back, looking puzzled before shaking your head. Well, less Monsters means less rape threats, and that’s fine by you.

It isn’t long before you reach the town proper, the sun’s rays beginning to play down upon you. Your party approaches just as a poorly equipped watchman opens the gates for the day. He freezes upon seeing you and looks over your party, his eyes lingering on Hala before being drawn to Blake as the Hero begins to speak.

“Good sir, we are travelers from Feldergrod and we have spent much time traveling through the night. Might we enter that we may take lodging in your fair town?”

The man licks his lips and begins to say something before coughing into his hand, “Yes! Yes of course, we just… haven’t seen much of your kind in awhile. Feldergrod you said? That means you came from the forest?”

“Of course.”

He peers at you before shaking his head. “Place is pretty dangerous these days, the damned beasts out there…” He looks at Hala and chokes up, “The uh, Monsters, have been quite aggressive recently. Please, come in, the inn is the two-story building down a ways.” He points into the town and Blake nods, looking to both you and Hala, the latter of whom is staring openly at the man, her eyes narrowed.

You’re tired, you’re hungry, and you still don’t like the look of this place. As Blake chats with the guard, you lean over to Hala and ask, “Wasn’t this place supposed to have Monsters in it?”

Hala’s spine stiffens and she looks at you, taking a moment to think before speaking in a low voice, “There… Are some here, I can smell them, but not nearly as many as there were before. I imagine with the midnight walkers in the forest, Monsters would likely move away, but not like this…”

She bites her lip and thinks. “Perhaps the witch is real.”

At that you take in a sharp breath and look about, opening your magical senses. You sense… Well, nothing. Okay, perhaps not nothing, your senses do get tugged toward a large, stone building in the center of town, but it’s faint and not concerning. Hells, you even look over the guard, and perform a [Fast Scan] to find that the man’s humours are fine.

Just…fine. Which isn’t fine at all. In all likelihood this witch is probably real and she probably is controlling the Wights. The way you figure it, the fact that the humans aren’t being attacked is what confirms it. With all opportunity to do so, the Wights away, meaning their assault is a malicious act to, dare you think it, remove Monsters.

You whisper to Hala, “Stay close to Blake for now, at least until we can find a good place to drop you off.”

Hala blinks in surprise before frowning and shaking her head. As she reaches Blake, the watchman chokes up again and Blake nods back before thanking the man and leading your party into the town.

It’s a small place, perhaps maybe a couple hundred people live here, but it has some charm to it with its wooden houses and shops, interspersed here and there with larger, stone structures that wind around hard packed dirt roads. There is no real order to the place, and you suspect that it grew up over the ages accommodating monsters and humans at various times, buildings changing to fit the needs of the occupants there.

As you walk down the road, you start to see people setting up shop, baking bread, and otherwise preparing for the day. You are surprised to see a few, very stubborn looking Monsters every now and then, their eyes wary of the people around them, but they don’t seem overly dangerous, as if they know the consequences of any actions they might take.

While walking, Blake explains that there’s only one inn in the town, but that it can accommodate your horses and any Monsters. “The watchman seemed a little hesitant to tell me about the place, but he couldn’t say no to a Hero of the Order it seems.”

“Are you certain it’s a wise idea to stay there?” You ask, looking about in worry. “This place seems like we may not want to trust anyone. Perhaps a better location is more suitable, somewhere we may not draw as much attention.”

Blake sweeps his arms wide and townsfolk follow the gesture with obvious glances. Ah, right. Travelers with horses and a Wolf Girl, you quite clearly cannot evade any notice at all. Well fuck, okay, inn it is you guess.

You manage to stable your horses and get checked in with an overweight, sweaty man who seems rather bemused to see travelers. His fees in that regard are pretty high, but when he sees Blake’s sigil of office, he started blustering and quickly lowers the price for a great Hero of the Order. How odd that a place like this would even remember the Order, let alone praise it. Oh well, having Blake around finally pays off!

Which is good too, because you manage to score an excellent room on the second story with good vantage points to see the whole town through shuttered windows. Although the room only has two beds, they are fairly large. Perks of knowing a Hero apparently. Immediately after entering you collapse onto one of the beds face first and inhale the sweet scent of washed linen.

A thump next to you shows Hala bouncing on the bed you’re on while Blake sits in a chair next to the window, looking out at the town with a pensive look.

Hala has the stupidest grin on her face as she plays on the mattress, her breasts bouncing up and down in a manner that catches your attention. You shake it off quickly and roll over onto the floor, then onto the other bed in a strange, writhing motion that is neither quick nor painless, but it uses the least amount of effort.

Blake watches you out of the corner of his eye and sighs.

“We better get what rest we can now. We aren’t going to do any good tired as we are. We’ll restock our supplies later, maybe look into the routes toward the capital in case the Wights patrol those as well…”

“Murmph, that sounds nice…” You mumble, eyes feeling heavy.

“We’ll need some more food, some water, fodder for the horses…” His voice starts to come in and out as you begin to drift off. “Repairs on gear, oh and Hala, you need new clothing.”

You start to mumble, “She’s not coming with us,” but it comes out as a groan, and next thing you know, all is black.

 

Chapter 39

 

You wake up as someone shakes you violently. Your eyes flutter open, taking in bright sunlight. Raising a hand to shield your eyes, you blink in surprise as Hala’s face appears before yours, startling you awake.

“Wake up Wizard! We’re going uhm… Oh, Shopping!”

Oh. Okay.

…Wait, what?

You narrow your eyes, mainly against the sunlight, but also in a “the fuck are you talking about” expression. It’s a struggle to rise, but Hala falls back away from you, rolling on her feet in a bundle of energy.

Rubbing the sleep from your eyes, you yawn and look around the room. Blake has taken his armor off and is busy polishing it/ cataloging dents with grunts. Apparently he had found time to patch up his little wound as well, and looks none the worse for wear. He also seems to have locked the door and jammed his sword beneath the handle, probably when you went to sleep.

What a class act!

You search your mental link for Bubs and find him passed out in a pile of Blake’s bags. At your mental prodding, he stretches out and looks at you, still as dazed as you are. Poor little guy, he deserves his Bubby snacks while you’re out.

Ah, right, out. With a groan, you stretch and Blake nods to you. “Welcome back to the world of the living, Wizard. Ready to provision up?”

“I’m ready to get out of this town of that’s what you mean.”

Blake looks outside and sighs. “Might not be the best move considering the time of day, but let’s see how quickly we can gather our things.” He rises and places his armor together before slinging it over his shoulder and nodding again to you and Hala.

“Alright, let’s get going. Stay on your toes, I don’t like this place as much as the Wizard, but from what I could see outside, things seem fairly normal.”

You shrug while Hala nods her head with determination. With a signal to Bubs, he crawls into your pocket where you place a heated bread pouch that he goes at with glee. Seriously, you have no idea where he puts it all. Actually, you do, but it’s best not to think about it, even as a Copromancer. And with that lovely thought in your head, your party heads downstairs and outside.

To say that you gather attention is an understatement.

While the morning people gave sidelong glances, in the bright afternoon everyone openly stares. Hells, even the few Monsters you see gawk, partially at you, but mainly at Hala. She’s forced to bare her teeth at more than one curious-eyed Kitsune along the way.

Your first stop is a smithy, where a broad-shouldered man works alongside a powerful looking Monster with red skin and horns atop her head. As you approach the man turns to you while the Monster continues to hammer metal with steady beats.

“Armor eh? Can’t say I’ve worked on any of that in a long time, eh…”

The Monster, an Oni if you recall correctly, quietly walks over and inspects Blake’s armor before grunting. “Is not so bad, just needs hammering into place again. Well used, like kettle.”

The blacksmith nods and smiles, “Oh Bertha, what would I do without you?”

Her expression becomes grim and she shakes her head, going back to work. The blacksmith’s expression becomes downcast before looking back at your party. “It’s… Not really her fault, when Chakrandas was deposed she became…” He starts waving his hand and then stops, seeming to catch himself before saying something.

“Ah, well, nevermind. It’s not something to worry travelers about. Haven’t seem your kind in a while you know! Hope now that things are a little more hospitable to human folk, we might see more!” Bertha grunts in the background and sparks fly up as she hammers.

With a timeframe of a few hours, you continue walking thought the town, looking around with [Magic Sight] and [Fast Scan]. Still, you get nothing. Even the Monsters in town look pretty clean to you, no traces of the Wight blight in them. In fact, all you can really see is that most of the people in town give the Monsters a wide berth while some actively steer clear of them or even antagonize the creatures.

Despite what is said, the Monsters don’t fight back, even though one Cat Girl looks like she’s about to flip her shit when a young boy yanks on her tail. Taking a deep breath, she composes herself and just walks off, muttering curses under her breath.

You trade glances with Blake and Hala but say nothing as you arrive at your next destination, a series of food stalls. Here and there people are buying up food for the evening meals, and even some Monsters stalk about, gathering up items, despite the glares of some of the townsfolk. The first stall you approach for travel provisions has a lean, angular looking man behind the stall. He shakes his head as your party approaches.

“I ain’t never seen your face before, but if you have one of THEM with you, then I’m afraid we can’t do business.”

“Now see here…” Begins Blake, as he put an arm in front of Hala, whose hair begins to bristle up.

The man holds up his hands and smirks. “Hey now, don’t want to make a fuss, or else the ol’ witch will do what she did to Chakrandas eh? Now be a good mutt, and scram.”

Hala is about to deck his ass, but Blake drags her away before she can start a fuss. You follow behind, staring down the smug looking bastard. He just raises an eyebrow and waves you along, still smirking the whole time. Well, if he wants it that way. You pull a simple effort of will and drag some dog feces into his stall without him noticing until it’s too late. Everyone immediately vacates from his stall and he looks about, horrified as the smell permeates his stall.

It’s your turn to look smug, although you don’t let anyone see it. Teehee.

Blake puts you and Hala in a corner and asks you to stay there while he goes off shopping. Unfortunately with the looks Hala gets, there’s no other way to get it done. As you stand there, Hala puts her arms behind her back and leans against a wall.

“I didn’t know too many humans before you and Blake, so I didn’t really know what to expect but…” She sighs. “Everyone here seems to hate us.”

“Mhm” you say as you look around the area. For some reason you feel a magical presence nearby, but where is it? Bubs is in a food coma, but even still he doesn’t seem to feel much more in the way of danger than you…

“It seems that staying here might not be a good idea… It seems safe but… I wonder…”

“Yeah huh…” Over… To the right? You look in that direction and don’t see much through the stalls and the people, although all the Monsters seem to move out of the street while the humans chatter to themselves. What the…?

“Well, maybe… I could just stay with you two? I think that would be very… Nice.”

“Sure, sure…” Hmm, that sensation is coming closer and-

You turn to Hala, only now realizing what she said, “Wait, what?”

The sounds of the crowd grow silent and you hear a jovial voice declare, “What ho! Travelers? Goodness me, it has been quite some time!”

You turn back to see a tall, well-built gentleman in a very rich suit, twirling a massive mustache and smiling ear to ear. Next to him stands a rather short, demure looking lady in a long dress of pure white silk, holding a parasol to shield her face. You can tell from the small amount of exposed skin that she’s incredibly pale, and when she raises the parasol to glance at you, your heart skips a beat at her beauty.

Not just her physical beauty mind you, but her magical beauty too. Power radiates from her like heat from a fire, and you’re shocked that no one else notices just who this person is. You flounder for words for a moment, and the man laughs with gusto,

“Oh ho! Has my wife’s beauty caught you off guard fair traveler? I’m afraid I’m rather attached to her though!”

“Uhm, I uh… Yeah…”

He smiles and claps your shoulder. You grunt a little, taken off balance. Hala comes in close behind you, and the man smiles at her.

“Oh, do not be afraid little wolf, it is all in jest. I’m afraid I haven’t seen the likes of your pack in some time either.”

Hala grits her teeth and squeezes your other shoulder rather hard, causing you to grunt in pain before shaking them both off. The man steps back and smirks while the woman shows a faint smile before masking it again.

“Ah, but where are my manners! I do apologize, I just get so worked up! I am Mayor Devore, and this is my beautiful wife, Samantha.”

She bows her head to you and you flop around like a fish before shakily bowing as well. Fuck, fuck, fuck.“Uhh err, a pleasure.”

Mayor Devore breaks out into laughter and claps your shoulder again. “Oh no need to be so nervous my boy! Tell me, what brings you to our fair town?”

“Just err… Passing through on the way to the capital.”

“Truly! I heard tell you came through the forest with a Hero of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood, is that true?”

“Uh. Yes?”

He beams. “Excellent! Truly, I have heard that the forest is quite a dangerous place for humans and Monsters as of late, and it is such a shame too. I know our fair city had a less than stellar reputation before Chakrandas was deposed and I was elected into office, but I feel that our fair town is finally coming to be peaceful once again. Who knows, maybe we’ll see more travelers, and perhaps even the Order will come to establish a presence here in the future, hmm?”

He slaps your shoulder again and laughs heartily. “Ah, but enjoy your stay, and please be careful at night. Things can become quite dangerous I hear!”

He winks at you before offering his arm to Lady Samantha, who bows to you before they turn to walk away. You notice that she looks back to regard you as she fades into the crowd, and you shiver uncontrollably.

Oh yes, there’s a “witch” in town, and it’s the Mayor’s wife.

 

Chapter 40

 

Hala touches your shoulder and you shake her off as you take in a deep breath, then gave her a tired look. “Right, uhm, what were you saying before?”

Before Hala can speak, Blake arrives, carrying a large bag of supplies. “Seems I missed quite the commotion.”

“Tell me about it.” You mutter under your breath.

“Well, let’s get back to it then. Oh, and I got the carrots and cheese though I really don’t see why you need more though.”

“Bubs is a very good rat!”

Blake stares at you, then just… points at another stall where an assortment of clothes is laid out with a lazy looking Cat Girl poking at some string. She tenses up when you approach, but her eyes lock onto Hala and a grin splits her mouth. “Well, well! A customer! Oh, and I have the cutest outfit in mind for you!”

In the blink of an eye, the Cat Girl grabs Hala, drags her behind the stall, and then furious sounds of a cat and dog fighting are heard. This leaves you and Blake alone, wondering what the fuck is going on.

“Uhm…” You say, looking at the stall with worry.

“Yeah…” Blake replies, rubbing the back of his head.

Awkward silence.

“So Hala wants to stay with us I think.”

“Yep”

“Oh, and I think I know who is controlling the Wights.”

Blake rounds on you and opens his mouth to ask who but then looks around, straightens up, and gives you a “we will talk later” look. You’re okay with that for now and just take to waiting.

And waiting.

And waiting…

Geez! Women! Monster women! Ugh! Clothes!

What seems a practical eternity later, the stall flaps rustle, and Hala emerges from the back, blushing furiously in an outfit that, while much more intact than what she had before, is just as loose. It consists of two long, white leggings that stretch up and connect to a pair of very short black pantalets which tastefully go with the tube of black cloth that covers her breasts. To top it off, she wears a green scarf which hangs around her neck loosely.

Hala squirms nervously, her eyes flicking back and forth between the two of you and the ground. Blake fish mouths, trying to form appropriate words while the Cat Girl behind Hala seems proud as all get out, the cheeky bitch.

You, on the other hand, feel the corner of your lips start to twitch and you shakily raise a hand to try and cover your mouth in time, but too late! You can’t help it and a stray burst if laughter pops from your lips. As the old saying goes, once you pop, you just can’t stop.

It’s not like you even know why you burst out into laughter, but maybe it’s because of the absurdity of what she’s wearing. Sure, it’s appealing or something, but come on. You’re on a Gods damned adventure through Wight infested lands with Monsters who would kill her in a heartbeat just to rape you, and she wears this? It’s barely less revealing than her previous outfit!

Everyone looks at you, horrified, but you can’t stop the laughter. Hala’s face becomes incredibly red and she hides with her paws while the Cat Girl runs up to comfort the obviously shaking Hala. Blake just gives you a “what the fuck?” look of pure, confused outrage, but shit that just makes it worse.

Hells, even passersby are looking at you like you’re insane or something. After maybe two minutes of this, Blake finally get sick of your shit and shakes you violently to get you to calm down. It succeeds, sort of.

“Wizard! What the hells is wrong with you!” Blake demands, gripping your shoulders.

“I…pfffff, I just, I mean, come on! It’s so… Aha… It’s so unprotective and shows off… Hehehe, it’s… It’s barely better than what she was wearing before!”

The Cat Girl seems incredibly pissed at this, but she goes back to soothing the now even more shaken Hala while Blake leans in close and whispers furiously, “Damnit wizard, I know you can’t have sex or whatever, but when a Gods damned woman of any kind asks how she looks, you at least smile and nod, you got that?”

You smile and nod.

Blake narrows his eyes, then turns back to Hala. “Hala, please forgive our companion here, he was merely thinking of your safety first. What you are wearing is incredibly lovely.”

Hala parts one of her fingers and looks at Blake with one eye as she sniffs, “Really?”

“Yes, truly. The Wizard just… was concerned that it would not be adequate protection for you, right Wizard?”

You smile and nod. Gods you’re a cheeky bastard.

The Cat Girl glares daggers at you and then sighs, thinking for a moment. “Ugh, protection, as if she even needs it. Bluh, wolves, wolves…” She goes into the back for a moment and starts to dig around for something while Blake pulls Hala into a hug and strokes her hair.

{You shouldn’t have done that.}

You look around, blinking in surprise. Huh? Who said that?

{Probably not smart.}

Well, there’s no one else around, so who could it be? You go to turn on your [Mage Sight] when the voice speaks again.

{Can I have that other snack now, you promised.}

You realize now that you’re mentally communicating with Bubs. Woooooah. You fumble for a moment and then think, {Uh hey, Bubs.}

{Hello Wizard. Snack now?}

{Y-yeah sure just… Wait, since when could you form thoughts into words?}

{I don’t know, just now I suppose. But really, can I get that pouch?}

You pull a heated bread pouch from your [Pocket Dimension] and place it into your other pocket where Bubs is. A furious tearing motion jostles your robe as he goes to town on the thing.

{These are so good, they might as well be magical!}

{This coming from the talking rat.}

{Kind of your fault big guy.}

{Of course.} You think to yourself for a moment.

{What do you think about the situation here in town?}

{I don’t know, I’m just a fucking rat. You figure it out.}

{Uh. Oh…okay. Then what do you think about Selene?}

{Scary cat lady? Makes my skin crawl, don’t like her one bit. I’d stay away from her if you could.}

{How are you able to sense all this danger anyway?}

{Come on man, I’m a rat. Danger is my middle name. If I had one. Can I have one?}

{Uh sure, later I guess.}

{Neat.}

Bubs goes silent again but you can feel a sense of contentment emanating from him as he devours the treat in your pocket.

Well that was a very surreal experience, and by the time you’ve shaken yourself back to reality you notice that Hala is wearing something totally different now. The gaudy outfit is replaced with a leather jerkin which is snug, but manages to cover her entire torso, leaving her arms mostly bare past the shoulders. Covering her legs is what looks like a divided skirt. With overlays of leather straps, studded in places, she has about as much protection as you’d expect to get without sacrificing mobility. She looks at you for approval, her expression flat.

Well this is honestly utterly ridiculous on her, but you learned your lesson and you don’t have to look at midriff anymore, so fuck it, you smile and nod. The Cat Girl looks annoyed, but she takes Blake’s money anyway (which you feel is utterly outrageous for what you get). It doesn’t escape your notice that he pays for the other outfit as well. Hmmm.

Hala seems mildly uncomfortable in the leather suit and she itches at it every so often, mumbling to herself about not needing no stinking protection, but you smile inside. Awww yes, it’s quite the boner killer indeed.

Your party goes through the rest of the markets, but don’t see much of interest. Mainly it’s food stalls, a few vendors of lumber, wool, finished products, etc, but honestly it’s all very common, very boring stuff. Hells, you even ask a shop owner if there’s some kind of magic shop in town, and he looks at you like you’re a Gods damned retard. Well fine then! You’ll make your own magic items and they’ll be better than anything these losers could dream of!

On that train of thought, you stop as you pass by some forlorn little building on the other side of town. A small sign out front proclaims it as, “Antiques and other trinkets.”

Going inside, it’s obvious that whoever owns this place doesn’t need money because the vast majority of the wares are junk. You notice Hala fiddling with a rusty sword before Blake takes it from her, shaking his head.

As you begin to despair that you won’t find anything, Hala tugs on a carpet, causing a pile of junk to fall all over her. Oddly enough, the shopkeeper looks amused but doesn’t try to help her and instead watches her make a mess. What a dick! It’s okay though, she pops up a moment later, piles of trash falling off her. Well, you would say trash, but something DOES catch your eye and you snatch up a little brass compass atop her head.

Hailing the shopkeeper for the price, he just shrugs and asks for “like, five coppers or something.” You stare at your gold coin and Blake rolls his eyes before paying the trivial sum and dragging Hala out of the mess.

Looking over the compass you begin to have thoughts on how to make use of it. Such items are fairly rare in Deleor, especially so well preserved. As long as the internal mechanisms are working then there’s a lot you can do with this-

Oh, it’s broken. Poo.

Well, you’ll have to just make do with what you have. Blake ushers you out of the shop and you follow, stuffing the [Compass] into your pocket.

Around this time, the sky is starting to darken so you navigate back to the blacksmith who has Blake’s armor all nice and ready. The Oni merely grunts when Blake gives her his thanks, although you think she might be blushing a little. It’s honestly hard to tell what with her skin being red already, but all said and done she did a really, really good job hammering out those dents.

Pockets lighter, and with a rumbly in your tumbly, you head back to the inn to discuss your next course of action. As you enter the inn, the sweating innkeeper’s eyes grow wide and he blusters about for a moment before pulling out a letter in one hand and a towel to wipe his forehead in the other.

“The Mayor’s aide came and dropped this by for you earlier. Oh my when the Mayor’s aide comes it’s surely a good thing indeed! It seems the Mayor has taken interest in you, ho ho!”

Blake casually opens the envelope and the two of you look over the flowing calligraphy on the paper, which reads:

“Dear Hero and party, you are cordially invited to dine at the Mayoral estate this evening. Your presence is requested and there is much interest in your travels and future. A full course meal will be served for you and your two guests, please arrive by 7pm.

-Lady Samantha Devore”

You have a feeling that this isn’t a good thing at all.

 

Chapter 41

 

All three of you glance between each other. Okay, so you know this is probably the most blatant trap ever set, but Hala and Blake might not. To the Hero’s credit, he seems rather concerned to receive the invitation, and Hala, well, you’re pretty sure she can’t read.

“Eh? Does that have something on it?” Hala asks, her curiosity confirming your suspicion.

Blake looks up and nods, “Indeed, it appears that we are invited to dine with the Mayor and his wife at seven.”

The innkeeper starts sweating even more profusely as he blabbers, “Dinner with the Mayor? Oh my that’s quite the honor, quite the honor indeed! Oh but seven? Good heavens, that’s only an hour away!”

“Oh,” You begin, “Blake, Hala, if you would come upstairs with me so we can prepare for the evening.” And with that you quickly head upstairs, leaving Blake and Hala to follow behind you in bewilderment.

Crap crap crap crap, you think to yourself as you dash to the room.

{I don’t think you should go, that place seemed kind of spooky.} Bubs thinks, a little jittery.

{We might not have much of a choice.” You think back.

{Humans and your… things… I’ll think of a word, just you wait.}

You don’t give him a response. Entering the room, you sit down on one of the beds, thinking. Hala and Blake enter a moment later, the two choosing to stand.

“Well?” Blake asks, crossing his arms.

You take a deep breath, “Remember when I told you that I knew who was controlling the Wights? Well I’m fairly certain it’s Mrs. Devore. Looking back on it, with a name like that, it’s fairly obvious.”

“I don’t see how her name has anything to do with this, but are you certain?”

“Positively. She oozes with a malign magic, the same signature as the wights.” You shrug, “Seems fairly obvious to me.”

Hala’s tail bristles as her ears perk up. “That bitch! If what you say is true, then I’ll kill her!”

Blake puts a hand on her shoulder and shakes his head. “Calm down Hala, nothing will be accomplished by flying into a rage.” She seems to cool a little, but mutters under her breath some fairly inventive curse words. Blake looks back to you, “What should we do then?”

You raise your arms up and then drop them. “We have dinner I guess? After this, skipping town may not be the best option in the world.” You sigh and lean back onto the bed, staring at the ceiling. “Guess we’ll see what’s what when we get there.”

Blake nodded his head, “I wouldn’t have it any other way. Very well then, we shall take it by ear.” He sniffs himself and blanches. “Perhaps a little freshening up is in order. I’m certain the innkeeper can draw up a bath.”

He looks at Hala and shakes his head. “Perhaps you might be interested in one as well?”

Hala, covered in mud, blood, scrapes, bruises, and all other variety of madness of the years blinks. “Bath?”

Blake smirks and rubs her head. “It’s a basin of water with which you may wash the dirt and clean yourself. With warm water, it’s very soothing.”

“I’ve jumped in the river before, is it anything like that?”

“Sort of! But not quite.” Blake rubs the back of his head and sighs. “There’s no helping it, I suppose I’ll have to wash you then.”

Hala seems excited by this new experience and she practically bounces up and down as Blake takes her downstairs, leaving you blissfully alone with Bubs. Seriously, did Blake have to look so… happy about the prospect? You bet they’re going to do something lewd.

{Why are you so worked up about this anyway?} Bubs thinks, crawling out from your pocket to sit on your chest.

{Because I…} Wait, why are you worked up? You literally don’t give a shit about either of your companions, right? And you certainly don’t care about Selene and her “love” and-

Awww fuck. It was that Gods damned heart to heart and the kiss. You knew something felt weird with your magic after that happened. Shit, you let your guard down, and this is what happens. You’ll have to mediate or something to clear this little impediment, Gods damn it.

{Uh huh, that’s what I thought.} Bubs thinks again, before jumping down and rummaging in the sack of provisions, eating some cheese. You don’t feel like stopping him.

“You know, for a familiar, you’re pretty cheeky.” You say audibly.

He merely wiggles his tail from inside the bag and you groan. Ugh, a bath sounds great too, but you need the time to prepare for this. Of course, you can’t just go looking like shit in a handbasket, so you dig out your [The Essential Wizard’s Beard Care Kit] and rejoice in the glory of a fantastically trimmed beard. After a week, it’s glorious to feel so… Wizardly again.

Blake and Hala aren’t back yet, the lewd fucks, so you give yourself time to think.

Alright, so you’re going into the lair of a witch who wants to have dinner with you. Either the food will be poisoned, she’ll have you executed by a Wight army, or maybe she’ll just try to capture and torment you. Either way, there area few things you need to do to assure none of this happen.

Thing one: Magical detection at all times. You bet she knows you’re some kind of practitioner also but that doesn’t mean you can’t be on the look out for her magical tricks. You resolve to continually [Fast scan] and [Mage sight] everything.

Thing two: Surveillance of the house. You look to Bubs, who seems none too pleased by the prospect, but he relents anyway. Good, this means you’ll have an early warning system for anything trying to sneak up on you.

Thing three: Offensive power. You doubt that they’ll just let Blake bring his sword inside, but Hala is a weapon in her own right, and you’re a Gods damned Wizard so you’re okay. You can smuggle Blake’s weapons in with your [Sack of Holding +1] but she might be too clever for that and you really need your Hero to be armed with something.

You eye [Wightbane] again and think it over. Oh, that sounds good.

“Hey Bubs.”

{No.}

“Awww come on Bubs. I just want to tie a magical knife made from the legs of a dead Monster on you!”

{Do you hear yourself speak?}

“Sometimes, now get over here.”

You manage to catch the little rat despite his attempts to flee and tie the [Wightbane] with some string onto him. Oh ho ho, you’re super smart, mhm.

{If you’re so smart, why can’t you channel magic through me yet?}

Seriously, you liked it better when he didn’t sass you, but he has a point. “Can I?”

{Well, I don’t know, I didn’t read the book, but I know your thoughts.}

You think it over and point Bubs towards a candle, bringing up your will. Somehow you slip it into a conduit through your mental link. Bub’s eyes glow bright red before a small amount of fire flows from them and lights the candle.

You both stare at the flame, then each other. Guess you just learned how to [Channel Magic].

{My eyes feel like burning.} Bubs thinks, blinking.

“That means it’s working.” You say, putting the rat down. He scratches at the blade for a moment before running in a circle and then hiding under a bed.

You shake your head and feel something rattle in your pocket. Digging in there, you take out the [Compass]. Hrm, the compass… You have such plans for this thing, but should you make something now?

You figure this won’t take long, so you pop off the glass and take out the dial. Once done, you reach into your bag and pull out the Wight hand. The magical energies on it are almost spent, so soon you’ll soon just have a severed female hand in your bag, but that’s a thought for later. You strip down a digit and remove a metacarpal bone, (you assume, you’re not a doctor or anything) and drill a tiny hole into it before placing it onto the center part of the compass.

Closing your eyes, you envision what you’d like this to do, and you pour in your will. The compass needs to pick up on similar energies to the Wight bone, which is a rather simple spell, but a bitch of an enchantment. Thankfully, the vessel is very in tune with what you need, and the process is much smoother than making the [Wightbane].

With a push of effort, you feel the power snap together and you open your eyes to find the bone pointing towards the Mayoral estate. You move the compass around to test it and, sure enough, it always points that direction. You snap the glass back onto the front and admire the [Malign Compass] you just made.

As you put the device away, the door opens to admit Blake and Hala, washed and clothed in their armor. They’re both smiling and have a redness to their cheeks, which you can’t help but feel is blushing. They look at each other funny and you cough into your hand, loudly.

“Have fun you too?”

Hala bounces towards you, her dark hair glistening with moisture. “It was so good! Blake washed my tail and I’ve never seen it look like this!” She waves the tail in front of you and yes, it is quite fluffy. She blushes obviously and looks away, “And in return, I washed his…”

Blake coughs into his fist. “Back, she washed my back. Very nice of her.”

{I’ll bet.} Thinks Bubs. You’re glad you’re the only person who can hear him.

“Yes, well then, I trust you’re prepared to leave? I doubt we have much time left.”

Blake’s expression turns serious and he nods. “Of course. I doubt I’ll be allowed to carry in my blade however, so I suppose we’ll have to be prepared in other ways should there be an assault.”

You pick up Bubs, and he squeaks at Blake, knife still attached. Blake’s eye twitches. “Very well then. Anything else you thought of?”

You shrug, standing up. “Just keep aware of your surroundings, and if I say anything, you follow it without hesitation, got it?”

Blake and Hala both nod in affirmation, and you gather your things to head to the estate for an unforgettable dinner.

 

Chapter 42

 

As you approach the Mayor’s house, the Devore Manor, you can’t help but feel creeped out.

Over the years it must have been repurposed for both humans and Monsters, especially this Chakrandas you’ve heard people talk about. The building bears signs of remodeling which makes it look both imposing and disturbing, which is perhaps the point. You look down at your [Malign Compass] and, sure enough, it points to the house. Fucking stellar, but at least it your little trinket is still working.

The three of you stand in front of the house, where a man in a butler’s outfit bows to you. “Ah, the Hero and party, we have been expecting you. If you would come this way.” He opens the doors for you and leads you into a large sitting room. The plush room is built with hardwood paneling and decorated with portraits of former Mayors and buildings. You notice that some areas of the wall are bare and that there are no Monster portraits however…

The butler bows. “Ah, excuse me sirs, but I’m afraid I’ll have to take your weapons and baggage, if you’d be so kind,”

You and Blake inwardly curse, but hand over your staff and his sword, along with your [Sack of Holding +1]. You left the [Pocket Dimension] back at the inn. It’s way too valuable to bring here. The butler nods and tells you to wait a moment.

When he leaves you check your connection to Bubs and find that his earlier infiltration was successful. He doesn’t like the feel of the place at all, but he keeps you informed, looking around the building for signs of trouble.

The three of you sit down on a large couch, Hala in the middle. With nothing better to do, you wait, Hala growing agitated for some reason, rubbing at the leather armor. You kind of feel bad for making fun of her earlier. Your hand twitches and you strain before gently placing it on her head and patting it, causing her to shiver and look at you.

“It uh, it’s going to be fine.” You really don’t need to be getting any closer to her, but at least you can be nice. “And…I’m sorry about earlier. I just think that uhm, you’ll be better protected with this armor is… all.”

Her eyes grow wide and she’s about to say something when the door opens and the butler informs you that it’s time. The three of you nod and head with him through a long corridor, then through a set of massive double doors. As he opens them, you see before you a long table that can fit maybe ten people. At the end sits the Mayor, his smile from ear to ear.

“Oh it is such a pleasure to see you here! I am glad that you came for the summons, I was just dying to speak with all of you again, and boy I am glad I am not disappointed.”

He turns to Samantha, who is sitting next to him, and waves a hand. “Please say hello my beautiful wife, oh you must excuse her earlier, she has been a might sick for some time and the sun does so get to her, so please, please, say hello.”

Samantha regards you impassively, her alabaster skin nearly the same color as the white tablecloth. For a moment you see something dark flicker in those eyes, which you can now tell are a deep green. Then, she does something unexpected. She smiles very gently towards all of you and bows her head before speaking in a high-pitched, excited voice.

“A Hero, sorcerer, and a Wolf Girl, my what a party indeed. Please be welcome in our home, the food should be served shortly.”

All of you just… stare. This bubbly little beauty of a woman is the dreaded witch?

Blake bows politely, quickly taking the initiative.

“Thank you for your gracious invitation my lady, my lord. It is a pleasure to be in your presence.”

He looks back and forth between the two of you and jerks his head slightly. Hala and yourself quickly perform sloppy bows. You can tell Blake is mentally sighing, but whatever, you aren’t some courtly gentleman Hero thing. You’re a Wizard!

Samantha looks at the sight with a look of bewilderment of her own and then breaks out into giggling laughter, covering her mouth with the sleeve of her dress. The Mayor merely twiddles his mustache, beaming.

“Manners, oh manners a plenty! My that’s rare these days, yes it is. But please, please take a seat, take a seat.”

He waves his hand and the butler appears behind you, holding out a chair for Hala, then yourself, and finally Blake. Before you sit down however, you open your [Mage Sight] and note with surprise that magic permeates everything in here. It doesn’t seem hostile, but it does seem like a strange mishmash of different malign energies, saturating everything. Some obviously is Samantha’s doing while the rest feels like it’s from multiple other individuals.

Oddly enough, the butler seems fine, as does the Mayor, with only a subtle trace of her touch upon them. Samantha though… Well, Samantha just oozes with magic energies. You notice she has a twinkle in her eyes that tells you she is smiling at you behind her sleeve. Well shit, looks like she knows what you’re doing.

You take your seat graciously and avert your gaze, shutting off your [Mage Sight]. You look to your companions and find that Blake is seated regally, smiling at the two hosts, while Hala fidgets in the seat, trying her best not to either play with the cutlery or jump Samantha- you can’t tell which.

{Bubs? How’s it going?} You think to your familiar.

{Nothing yet big guy, but I feel like I’m onto something here.}

{Stay by the dining room in case we need you.}

{Fiiiiiine.}

You shake your head and come back midway into a conversation, catching the Samantha saying, “Dear me, must have been troublesome.”

“Huh wha?”

Everyone looks at you and Blake coughs, waving a hand to the Devores. “As I was explaining to the good lady, we are on our way to the capital through Varruck, due to an unfortunate incident in Feldengrod.”

She smiles, “Indeed. Truly, you must have faced quite the hardships coming through the forest. The Monsters have been quite troublesome recently, although I cannot fathom why.”

Hala growls, “Perhaps because of the damn midnight walkers slaughtering us out there.”

Samantha’s eyes grow wide. “Dear me, whatever do you mean? I had heard there were some strange noises from the forest recently, but what in Deleor is a midnight walker? Some form of Monster?”

Hala growls again, and Blake puts a hand on hers, giving her a sidelong glance. “You must forgive her, she has been quite distressed since we found her on our travels. Her entire pack was slaughtered by these midnight walkers, or Wights as I’m sure they’re known.”

Samantha puts a finger to her chin and looks puzzled. “Wights? I’m not certain I’ve heard of such a thing, but oh you poor dear, I am so sorry to hear such a thing occurring on our lands.”

“Your lands?!” Hala says, her teeth flashing.

“Now now, no need to be like that, you see we just meant the surrounding areas of Varruck of course, of course.” The Mayor says, holding up a hand. “Ever since ol’ Chakrandas was driven out, we’ve been looking to expand the borders again to open things up and get PEOPLE back here.” He twirls his mustache, “Which is why we’ve asked you here my boy, we’d like to bring the Order back into town after so many years, make things right again.”

Blake goes very quiet for a moment, looking down at his plate before responding. “And what of the Monsters who live here and in the forest? What do you intend to do to keep them safe?”

Samantha shrugs, “Well, certainly we would discourage anyone from going into the forest if there are such brutes out there, but until they attack humans, I’m afraid there is not much for it. If Monsters wish to leave because of it, it is sadly not our concern.”

Blake folds his hands in his lap before taking in a deep breath. You can tell that he’s just as furious as Hala, knowing what he does about the situation, and here this smooth bitch is, asking him to bring in a group of Monster hunters to… to secure this place from Monsters.

Shit, that’s what this is about. She’s using the Wights to clear monsters out from the forest and causing those in town to leave in fear or desperation. With the supposed ill will generated by this Chakrandas before them, the Devore’s plans certainly doesn’t seem too bad to the humans of this town.

The real question you guess is, why? If she’s already in such a position of power why does she even need to attack the Monsters outside of town? You scrunch your brow in thought, but as soon as you do, a bell rings and the Mayor stands, spreading his arms.

“Ah ha! The food is prepared, let us break from his business, and dine!”

The butler comes in soon after with a trays of food, which he loads onto the table. You see multiple forms of mutton, poultry, breads, wines, cheeses, and vegetables. It’s a rather rich spread, and your mouth waters at the thought of digging in to it. Before you take some however, you perform a [Fast Scan] and find it blissfully free of any taint.

You nod to Blake and Hala and they both partake of the foods as well. Blake cuts his food delicately and eats with perfect manners while Hala stares at her fork in confusion until the Butler comes by, ties a napkin around her neck, and waves for her to proceed. She starts shoveling it down without delay. Such a refined lady she is.

Samantha does not look amused as she watches Hala over her wine glass. For your part, you don’t really care what Hala does because, dear Gods, this roast is amazing. Is that rosemary? Wow, and the potatoes just… And that bread! Gods you’re so happy that it isn’t poisoned, because next to your heated bread pouches, this is heaven.

As you chew on a piece of roast, you wave your fork toward Samantha and ask. “Sho, how did you knowsh I was a uh… Schorceror anyway?”

Samantha’s lip twitches, and she takes a sip of her wine. “I figured by your clothing and staff. I am not wrong I take it?”

You finish the bite and Blake looks at you, horrified, as you spear more food. “Indeed you are not. But are sorcerers common in Varruck?”

“Not especially, no.”

“Interesting.” You put the bite into your mouth and chew, staring her in the eyes “What about this witch then?”

The Mayor chuckles, “Oh not that story again. Now then good sir, I can assure you that there is in no way any magical hijinks involved in the removal of Chakrandas, you see?”

Samantha daintily raises a hand and the Mayor becomes quiet. She looks you dead in the eyes and replies. “He is correct. There is no witch in Varruck. Chakrandas was driven out by a very motivated individual, of whom we shall never know her name.”

Uh huh, suuuuuure. “I see. I’ve heard her name many times, but who was this Chakrandas? Why was she so hated?”

A scowl came across Samantha’s face. “Chakrandas was a Monster who came from the north and took advantage of the people of this town. They’d lived with Monsters for so long that they’d forgotten how cruel they truly are. It wasn’t hard for her to become a tyrant and subjugate the people into what might as well be slaves.”

She sniffs. “It’s good that she’s gone.”

“Ah, hmm.” You say, feeling uneasy under her hostile gaze. Coughing into your hand, you ask, “Well then, this is a lovely house. Perhaps we could have a tour after the meal?”

“Ah, I am afraid we cannot, but thank you for your compliments on our home.” She dodges the subject nimbly and looks back to Blake before beginning to ask him about the Order and how to bring people back to Varruck.

Hmm, your question seemed to to unnerve her for some reason. Wonder what she doesn’t want you to see here… Seems kind of stupid to invite someone into your house and not have them want to see it…

You sit there and chew on your food, thinking to yourself. She knows that you know something is up, but she doesn’t seem overly concerned about the fact. Either she’s planning something, or she doesn’t find you a threat. It’s entirely possible that she’ll just let you walk away! Hells, you don’t even have to lift a finger and you can survive the night without any issues. Sure, Blake and Hala might not like it, but they said they’d follow your orders, right?

There’s also the option of burning everything down to the ground as a nice backup too.

As you ponder this fact, you feel a nervous squeaking in your mind and the thought appears,

{Hey…hey big guy, I think I found something here. I think there’s some kind of passage in this study. Not certain yet how to open it, but it feels… Ugh, it feels awful down there.}

And there it is, the other option. Whatever she used to control the Wights must be down there and perhaps other malign artifacts to boot. If you have the proper excuse, you can explore this study well, but would your companions be okay without you?

Ugh, all the hard choices left to the Wizard once again.

 

Chapter 43

 

Samantha pays you no attention at the moment which suits you perfectly fine. Taking the chance to zone out, you communicate with Bubs.

{Bubs, tell me what you’re seeing.}

{Uhm. Books? And chairs? Oh, a desk! Desks are spooky, right?}

You mentally roll your eyes. Right, he’s a rat. Just some kind of super intelligent, magically attuned rat, but still a rat. Let’s try a new tactic.

{Bubs, I’m going to need you to be perfectly still for a moment.}

{Are you going to make my eyes burn again?}

{Maybe!} And with that, you force your will into him and SEE.

You feel a strange motion, as if being pulled into a great vortex and suddenly you see the world through strange eyes. Everything is little off in color, and it makes your head hurt for a moment trying to figure things out, but wow, that chair is massive, isn’t it?

Wait, massive… chair? You look around, only able to use your eyes, and see bookshelves, paintings, a desk… you realize with a start that the spell worked! You can see through Bubs’s eyes and, on top of that, you can use your [Mage Sight]!

{Oowwwwww, this is really weird Big Guy!} Thinks Bubs, and you rock back, the power of his thoughts magnified in his head. Shit, that kind of hurt!

{S-stay calm Bubs, just… Just try not to think and look around slowly.}

{Whatever you say.}

{Ack! Damnit!}

You feel that the last thought was vaguely malicious, but he scans anyway.

Okay, you see some books of standard fare, a desk with some boring papers, some chairs… and a pulsing beacon of malign magic behind a bookcase. Well shit, guess there is something here. You notice there’s a small trail of magic leading to another book on the shelf, and you guess it must be the trigger to open it. The spine reads, “Open Saysame: A Guide to Doors and Door-like Objects.” How obvious.

With a release of your will, you drop the power and are flung back to your body, to which you start, cause a mild clatter of plates, and look around, dazed.

Everyone stares at you with mixed expressions of confusion, pity, and amusement. You cough into your hand and say, “Uh, choked on uhm…” You drink some water instead of continuing to speak.

With that everyone ignores you again and goes back to speaking. For Blake’s part, he’s admirably dancing around the subject of bringing the Order into Varruck while Lady Devore keeps trying to move him into position. It’s like lingual chess with the Mayor merely sitting there, twirling his mustache as a silent arbiter.

Well then, there really is nothing for it: you’ll have to get to Bubs and see what’s past that dark portal one way or another. You look at your [Malign Compass] that you stowed in your pocket covertly, just to confirm. Sure enough, it’s pointing toward where you can feel Bubs.

While spooky scary things can also mean spooky scary treasures, you’re forced to realize that the reason you want to do this is that you can’t allow her to keep getting away with it. The danger she possesses is too great and you’re the only one who can stop it.

Or, to be more precise, you have a feeling that it would bite you in the ass not to stop her Wights since you still have to leave town at some point and don’t want to be murder-raped.

{Alright,} you think to Bubs, {Looks like we’ll have to explore this place, see what’s behind all of this.}

{Ruh roh…}

{You uh, you okay Bubs?}

{Head just hurts a little, and I can smell shit in my brain, which is really weird and means you should bathe more.}

{Coming from the sewer rat… Listen, just stay hidden. Who knows what’s lurking here.}

{I do, and it’s nothing around here, but fine, you’re the big magical boss.}

And with that, Bubs goes to go hide somewhere. Probably, you think so. Maybe. Regardless, you needed to find an excuse escape the dinner table, but how do you get out of this shit and into that shit?

Shit, of course. It seems to be your prerogative.

You look down at your plate and take a deep breath before shoveling it in like a Gods damned madman. Everyone looks at you funny again, even Hala. You chew very slowly before taking a big swallow, then putting a hand to your stomach and exclaiming, “EXCUSE ME, I NEED TO GO TO THE TOILET!”

You can feel Blake’s cringe like a physical force upon you while the Mayor and Samantha ooze a mix of incredulity and hostility. Hala does her best not to break out laughing, and mildly succeeds! The Mayor and Samantha look at each other, then she rolls her eyes and claps before you can take more than two steps.

The butler appears a moment later and bows to you. “I shall lead the way for you sir.”

You feel caught off guard by his sudden presence, but you just deal with it. You hate that you’ll have to do something about him, but what are you going to do? You have to find the place with Bubs, so… off you go. Before you leave back to the hallway, you look back towards Blake and wink. Based on his surprised expression, he either got the message or he thinks you’re flirting with him.

Nah, he obviously got the message, right? Right.

As you walk with the butler he doesn’t say a word, which you find kind of eerie, but it fits the environment of dark hardwood and emotionless portraits of people. You can vaguely see that some portraits have been altered in some way, leaving only a man and covering the other person, or the outright scratching someone out. You flick past a cloth covering as you walk and see a happy looking Kitsune next to the unknown man in the portrait.

“Please do not touch the paintings sir.” Says the butler, not even looking at you.

“Oh! Ah, uhm, s-sorry.” You scratch your head, feeling awkward. “Uh, so you serve the Mayor huh?”

“Yes.”

“What about before him? This uh, Chakrandas?”

“I cannot fail the Mayor. Any Mayor. Ever.”

You get real quiet. So this man served this Chakrandas beforehand, but he doesn’t seem to give a shit about her being replaced. Ah, a shame that you’ll force him to give one. You quickly [Fast Scan] the man and then give him some [Indigestion].

The butler keeps walking for a moment before he staggers and holds onto the wall. You don’t make the urge overly strong, but you need it to work fast and be long acting. He begins to breathe a little heavily and you put a hand on his shoulder. “Good sir, are you quite alright?”

“M-my stomach is…”

“Dear heavens!” You say, trying not to sound sarcastic. “You need to use the toilet far more than I! Please sir, go, go! I shall wait for you!”

The butler hesitates, a look of pure agony crossing his face that you aren’t certain is fully from your spell. He then looks to a room down the hall, gulps, and quickly runs to it, flinging the door open, then slamming it closed. You start to hear moans followed by sounds you’d rather not describe, so you take the opportunity to skedaddle and never look back. He should be preoccupied for a while, poor guy.

It isn’t long with a combination of your compass and Bub’s link until you find the study. Bubs quickly pops out of hiding to sit on the desk in front of you as you approach. You take [Wightbane] from him and he crawls onto your shoulder, sniffing. Patting him on the head, you then look at the bookcase until you find the right one. When you try to pull it from its shelf, and it tugs back and the whole bookcase seems to push in, then slide off into a side compartment, revealing a set of stairs.

Ah yes, just like in the Hungry Boys stories. Ah, to be young again. Of course, they had to deal with masked villains while you now have to deal with dangerous and malign magics. Eh, it’s only marginally different you guess. You look at Bubs and nod, then draw your compass and descend the stairs.

Thankfully the place is lit by some glowing orbs suffused with magic which give off a faint light. The walls are your standard stone dungeon fare and as you descend the stairs you can see multiple side rooms, probably used for storing wine or other provisions in the past. Each of them are filled with troves of cloth covered items now. You look at your compass and see that it points further down the hall, but you but stop in a side room anyway and lift up a cloth, scattering dust everywhere.

What you see is generations worth of paintings, antiques, and furniture, all clearly depicting Monsters or are items made for their use. These pictures are almost exclusively of them, and they seem fairly happy posing for the artists who painted them. Apparently this town used to truly coexist with Monsters years and years ago, but the current Mayor does not want anyone to remember that.

Frankly, you’re surprised they didn’t just burn the stuff, but perhaps there’s a reason for it that you can’t quite fathom. You flip past a very large portrait of a cruel looking Lamia and stare for a moment but find no name on it. Hmm, why is this one different?

{Big guy, let’s just get what we need and go, okay?}

“Yeah yeah…” You say to Bubs and start back down the hallway, checking the compass. It veers you off down a right turn, and you wonder how long this complex is when you hear a loud, ear splitting scream. You stoop to cover your ears, and stare around in panic, but find nothing. It was a totally different scream from that of a Wight, but it still chills you to the bone.

You listen carefully for the scream again but hear nothing. Shaking you head, you slowly creep forward while keeping your [Mage Sight] open as well as keeping in communication with Bub’s senses. He’s basically on track with your compass, which begins swinging wildly back and forth as you stop in front of a door.

{This looks like the place.} You think to Bubs. He almost flies into your pocket, not saying a damn thing. You take in a deep breath and slowly open the door. Inside is a large, darkly lit room, and it takes you a moment to adjust and see what’s in there.

It appears to be a sort of magical laboratory. It’s set up with a long row of shelves and cabinets along the outside, with a chest high counter space covered with jars and specimens that mostly look like organs. In the center of the room runs some long tables with questionable stains upon them.

The smell is abominable and even you have to hold your breath as you look around, the entire area saturated in magical energies that make you sick to your stomach. Your compass suddenly snaps to the side, and you notice a chest in the corner of the room. When you move to investigate you hear a sliding sound and the rattling of chains.

You stop cold and slowly turn around, casting a small fire spell above your fingertip for light. What you see not twenty feet away from you is the chained form of a naked Lamia with pale blue skin covered in multiple scars and ritual tattoos. Her purple scales are dry and crusted in blood, excrement, and all sorts of other filth. Long, silver-white hair hangs in clumps to her scalp, giving her a ratty and horrific expression as she stares at you with one large, red eye. Your spine shudders as you see her gaze is filled with malice and pain in such quantities that you can scarcely imagine it.

Taking two quick steps away, you press your back against the wall, realizing what you’re seeing here. It’s the same Lamia from the painting, just so abused and filthy that you couldn’t tell who it was at first. Your heart starts beating quickly as you notice the blood all around her little corner, stained so heavily that it’s permanently red, as well as the multiple torn and slashed portraits of Monsters, especially of her, strewn all around her in such quantities that it’s absurd. She starts panting heavily at the sight of you and strains at her bonds, but as she does they glow faintly blue. She screams again as they flare to life before sliding back, whimpering. It’s around that time Bubs screams in your head.

“My goodness, didn’t anyone teach you that it’s rude to touch things that aren’t yours?”

 

Chapter 44

 

You whirl around to see Samantha standing behind you. She looks directly at you and shakes her head before sighing and striding past you to the Lamia. Without hesitation, she slaps the miserable creature, who recoils back, hissing with venom. Samantha merely giggles in response and lifts the Lamia’s chin, her eyes glowing a faint blue.

“I swear Chakrandas, you never learn do you? You will never be better than me. Now be a good girl and scream.”

Chakrandas complies, recoiling as far away as she can into the corner. Samantha breathes in deeply, savoring the sound.

“Oh it’s ambrosia is it not? Gods does it make me feel young again!” She turns her head to you, smile stretching across her face. “Ah, oh sorcerer, you didn’t truly think your little charade was convincing enough to grant you passage in my domain, did you? A pity, I did so want to let you live, but you had to insist on your little tour.”

She shrugs, “I suppose after I dispose of you I’ll have to go back for your little mongrel and the Hero too. More’s the pity, for he could have been what would truly free this town from its monstrous taint after so many years.”

Eyes never leaving yours, she walks past you and opens the chest to take out a large, silver chalice. She takes a deep breath and you feel power pour out of it and into her. Suddenly Samantha’s maniacal expression is gone, replaced by cold impassiveness. You’re shocked as very air around her turns cold and violent while her already beautiful features become even more exaggerated.

Exhaling a cloud of vapor, she says, “Ah, well then. Any last words before I kill you and your Monster loving friends?”

You lick your lips. Well this is a pickle. Stuck in a dank room with a psychotic witch and tortured Lamia on the verge of your own death. At least it doesn’t look like she’s going to rape you as she seems pretty intent on killing you, the preferred of the two choices. Of course, you’d rather neither of those choices, which means you have to get the drop on her somehow.

You take in a deep breath and concentrate your power ever so slowly and delicately behind her. The offal and waste around Chakrandas began to flow and congeal into two little stakes, which you began to coat in ice while looking Samantha in the eyes.

“Well… uhm… I guess I do have two words to say…” You breath in dramatically, finishing the spells behind her.

“EAT SHIT!” With that, you fire the darts of frozen feces straight into her back.

Samantha staggers ever so slightly at the impact, her expression not changing as the shitsicles impale her back. You don’t have the best aim in the world, but when she turns back to look over her shoulder, you can see that you hit her square in the back, almost certainly penetrating some internal organs or, if they didn’t, it had to hurt like a bitch.

Samantha just stares impassively at the missiles, then back to you. She doesn’t so much as whimper, let alone acknowledge the attack. Okay, new plan, same as the old plan. You throw a [Fireball] at her. As far as plans go, it’s often overlooked due to its simplicity, but the simplest answer is often the correct one

Casually removing a hand from the chalice, she holds it up and a shield of pure ice appears before her, stopping your attack cold. Get it? But no of time for jokes, this is serious. You start to sweat a little despite the now sub-arctic temperatures in the room.

Samantha, had she the ability to show emotions on that cold face, probably would have looked amused as she lowers her shield. By that time however, you’ve already created a [Fire bomb] and set the mental timer, throwing it forward while a small, furry shape darts away from your pocket.

She watches the projectile fly right over her shoulder to bounce against a wall before rolling on the ground in front of Chakrandas. The chained Lamia stares at it in mute fury and terror as it pulses with explosive energy.

That moment of distraction is all the time you need to construct your [Circle of Shit] from the filth around the room. You snap the lock in place as Samantha casually picks up the bomb, turns it over in her hands, and then looks at you, before snuffing it out with contemptuous ease. She goes still as she watches your defensive circle and then opens her mouth to speak.

“You are much more skilled than most sorcerers should be.”

“I try.”

“But such a paltry defense shall not keep you alive for long. What do you hope to accomplish with such a thing?”

“It seemed a good idea at the time.”

“Clearly.” She stalks over, staying about five feet away as she inspects the barrier.

Well, you’ve effectively trapped yourself in here, allowing Samantha time to look for a way to bust you out. If she comes a little closer, you can probably drop the barrier and slash her with your [Wightbane], but you know that the distance currently is too great and throwing that knife would be way too risky a gambit. Better try to distract her while you think of a way out of this.

“So, why are you on some kind of uh, genocide?” Nice, nice, smooth.

“Because Monsters deserve to die. They are a blight upon this world and are nothing but savage beasts who need to be put down or taught obedience, such as this one.” She doesn’t point, but it’s clear she means Chakrandas.

“What did she do to you that warranted this?”

“This creature was a tyrant who forced men to copulate with her and her subordinates, drove out or kidnapped traders and travelers, and transformed women into Monsters to better serve her. Those of us who were spared her immediate attentions were kept under careful watch and guard like sheep, working under her rule. I had power, I stuck her down, and now I will make certain that no others do the same as her ever again.”

Give a girl a silver chalice that sucks away her emotions and grants her power and she’ll spill her life story apparently. Wait, silver chalice that takes emotions? That’s weird, haven’t you heard of something like that? A phy… phyl… flycatcher? No, that’s not quite right.

“Then the Wights, are they your doing as well?”

“Clearly. I had exhumed fellow human women who had been slaughtered over the years and gave them new form and purpose. Every Monster they kill or poison with magic is one less in this world. Eventually I will slay the Monster Lady as well.”

Wait, that doesn’t click right. “But the Wights are a form of Monster…”

The chalice pulses for a second and Samantha’s eyes flash hotly as she replies. “They are NOT Monsters!” As quickly as it comes, it’s gone. Interesting. Very interesting.

Licking your lips, you press this. “Of course, of course. But you must have learned how to summon the energy to animate them from somewhere.”

“The wretch in the corner. Her blood makes for ample reagents to empower my Wights and myself. Though I am loathe to let her live, I still have need of her.”

For emphasis, she whirls one finger, and a razor of ice cuts the wretched lamia. A trickle of blood flows onto it before flying back to Samantha, who places it in the chalice, and breathes deeply.

For fucks sake, she empowers herself through Monster blood? The fucking Wights have a locus via Monster blood? This bitch isn’t just hypocritically crazy, she has to be a fucking Monster herself at this point. Some kind of magically strong Monster with deft control over ice and death and has strong ties with a magical artifact called a- oh fuck, it’s a phylactery.

“Lich! Back away from the Wizard, or I shall merit judgement upon your husband!”

Both you and Samantha turn to the entrance of the room to see Blake and Hala, the latter holding the bound form of the Mayor, his eyes staring at Samantha with a feverish intensity. Blake managed to find and archaic sword and shield from the house somewhere, and he holds them at the ready, his armored form standing as if he ha everything under control.

Samantha merely turns back to you and whispers a word of magic. Without warning, your barrier breaks into nothingness, leaving you stunned. Her eyes lock onto your yours as you hurriedly step backwards, though she makes no move to chase you. Instead, she addresses Blake without looking at him.

“I know not what a Lich is, but I thank you for sparing me the trouble of hunting you down later. I do not appreciate your kidnapping of my dear husband however, but I shall see that he serves his purpose in the end.” As she speaks ice begins to form at the ground beneath her, jagged pillars that raise her as the temperature drops even further.

“But I believe I have spent enough time bandying words with you. I shall end your existences now.” And with that, the pillars of ice shatter into spears, and hurl straight at you and your companions.

 

Chapter 45

 

Many things happen very quickly. First, you hit the deck like a drunken sailor in the middle of a typhoon. Next, you channel your will into a wave a fire, throwing up a corona of flame that melts he ice coming at you. Finally, as all this occurs, you channel a [Fireball] through Bubs who mentally screams at the force of your blow. Sorry little guy, but it’s necessary.

The ice spears hurtling toward the rest of your crew are not affected nearly as much as the ones around you- it seems that channeling through Bubs diminishes the power of a spell. The more you know, huh?

The ice is weakened enough however, and Blake is able to cover Hala and himself with his shield, blunting the blow and staggering him, but otherwise no damage beyond a light spray of ice and water.

You look up to see Samantha striding toward you. In response, you scuttle backward on your behind. Throwing a [Fireball] at Samantha in a snap shot while you backpedal, she merely moves her head to the side, your fire barely warming her cold flesh as she methodically pads towards you.

A wall touches your back and you curse, finding yourself cornered. You slash at her with your dagger, but she bats your arm aside and picks you up like a puppy before throwing you into the wall like uh, like a puppy. You bounce off it and hit the ground hard, the wind driven from your chest. Wheezing out in pain, your thoughts are all in jumbles as you try to pick yourself back up.

Uh oh, there are two Samanthas now, and she… No, wait, that’s just your vision. Things return to focus as you see her sending a spear of ice toward Blake without even looking at him. The man deflects the blow with his shield before charging her. Hala ditches the Mayor and bounds up the other side of the room from Blake, preparing a charge of her own when a wall of ice appears before her. She slams into it face first, scattering multiple jars and vials across the room as she rebounds into one of the tables.

Finally focused again, you noticed Samantha is much closer to you, a spear of ice firmly in her hand. You don’t have time to admire the craftsmanship, but gosh does it look pointy. On reflex you shove your hand up and force a spray of liquified feces towards Samantha in a disgusting wave. She doesn’t even try to stop it and becomes drenched in the waste of her captive.

Speaking of which, Chakrandas is laughing manically at the whole charade, pulling at her bonds, despite the massive agony they must be causing her. She foams at the mouth as she screams obscenities and things that don’t even sound like words to you, her frenzy becoming so intense.

Samantha looks down at herself for a moment but gives no indication of emotion at being drenched in such filth. She readies her spear to impale you when Blake charges in, shield ahead of him. On the other side you notice the recovered Hala leaping through the air in a mighty pounce.

Being a Lich must be codeword for badass, because Samantha delicately moves thirty-two degrees exactly, slams her spear into the corner of Blake’s shield to force him off balance, and then kicks him, sending him tumbling towards Chakrandas. In the same motion, she sweeps the back of the spear and thrusts the butt into Hala’s chest before gracefully forcing the Wolf Girl into an arc that sends her flying into the opened chest, knocking both over into a heap.

Well shit, that was cool! Oh wait, no, that’s actually really bad. You thought for sure that your little shit-show would give Blake an opening, but you were quite wrong. Grunting, you throw another [Fireball] and a [Lightning bolt] at her, both of which she deftly parries. Frustration builds in you as you scream,

“You’re a Lich, you crazy bitch! You turned yourself into a Monster! You are LITERALLY no different from Chakandras right now!”

While nothing else seemed to phase her, at this she stops and stares at you, eyes burning with blue light. Some color and expression return to her face as she snarls. “I am NOT a MONSTER!”

“What the fuck do you think a Lich is, you psychopath? You and your people got kicked around by that fucking tyrant over in the corner, so you kicked her ass, and then what? You decided that, in order to make up for all her injustice, you’d just go and raise an army of undead, fueled by fucking MONSTER BLOOD and decide, ‘maybe I should have some of that myself?’ I don’t know very much about how people become Monsters, but I’m going to go off on a limb and say that maybe using the energies in their fucking blood is a good way to do it!”

The whole time you’re speaking, Samantha’s rage grows exponentially. Her nostrils flare, eyes growing huge and filling with a deep animosity as she grits her teeth and forces out. “I…am nothing… like that beast.” She points over her shoulder at Chakrandas who is facing away from you in her corner, hunched over and making quick motions of her body, as if she’s working something.

“I am a HUMAN and I FIGHT FOR HUMANITY!”

You cough and look down to see some spittle on your hand. At least it isn’t blood.

“Sure you do. That’s why you’re a pale, undead raising, phylactery bearing, ice chucking bitch of a Lich who’s trying to rule through fear and genocide.”

You point a shaky finger at her. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you’re gunning to be the next Monster Lady.”

With that, Samantha howls in rage and draws back her spear to stab at your heart, eyes wild, body tense and rigid. In her rage, she doesn’t notice a lithe, furry mass which smashes into her from the side and throws her to the ground before dashing past.

Samantha quickly rises, glaring daggers at the culprit. Turns out it’s Hala, who’s grinning like a madwoman as she raises something up in her paws. The silver chalice shines between her black fur, and she waves it in front of the Lich, who seems to deflate a little in her magical power. Samantha’s eyes grow panicked and she reaches out towards Hala, who dances backward and cackles.

“Not so high and mighty without this, are you, you stupid bitch?” Hala taunts, looking smug as all get out.

You notice the form behind her too late. Hala jerks, spasms for a second, and then she slowly turns around before gasping and falling to the ground, the chalice tumbling from her hands as a flow of scarlet blood leaks from her back.

The Mayor bends down and wipes his knife on Hala’s fur before picking up the chalice and stepping over the Wolf Girl’s recumbent form to hand it back to Samantha. His wife reverently takes it back like a family heirloom, pressing it close to her bosom.

“I say my dear, you can’t go letting the dogs play with such important things like this.”

“Oh my husband, I shall be more careful in the future.” Color comes back to her face as she gives him a deep, passionate kiss, to which he reciprocates, open mouth. You feel like a voyeur or something, watching the event. Before you can so much as throw a [Lightning Bolt] however, it’s over. Samantha coos in ecstasy, taking in a deep breath before looking back to you, her skin going pale and eyes becoming flat again.

“Do you know what separates man from Monster? Love, dear sorcerer. Such creatures can never understand a concept as love.”

The Mayor nods enthusiastically. You are now utterly convinced that the man is genuine. He’s not enthralled, not coerced, not undead, but instead utterly in love with the Lich.

The irony is not lost on you as they walk toward you, knife and ice spear at the ready. Guess this is how it ends, killed in an underground lab while your Hala bleeds out on the ground and Blake… Wait a second, where is Blake anyway? You saw him get thrown toward Chakrandas and-

Oh by the Gods.

You hear the sounds of a man screaming in pained ecstasy, and then a deep, throaty laughter fills the chamber. Everyone turns to see Chakrandas wiping a white liquid from her chin, before licking it off her hand with a long, serpentine tongue. She practically oozes malice as she chuckles and, with two swift motions, breaks her fetters from the wall. The magical runes upon them flare bright before winking out for good.

 

Chapter 46

 

You watch in mute horror as Chakrandas cracks her neck, the sound like a tree snapping, and takes in a deep breath, her eyes fluttering in ecstasy. Her tattoos glow red before your eyes and her skin turns deeper shades blue. You can literally feel the magic oozing from her. While it doesn’t quite eclipse that of the Lich, it is still daunting.

Blake must have some incredibly potent semen because this is a full 180 for the crazy snake lady. How much worse could it have been had Hala not washed his uh… back?

As you try to stagger to your feet, Samantha shoves the Mayor behind her and forms a shield of ice, right before a plume of, well the best way to describe it is “dark energy,” hits, causing a wave of purple light to flash across the translucent shield.

“Eheheheheehe hahahahhaahaha! Little sorceress, or perhaps I should say, Lich? My, what a wonderful little Monster you have become. Did you enjoy my blood? Because I enjoyed watching your change.” Chakrandas cackles as she summons forth more dark light.

“Ah, but there is plenty of time for you to wallow in your hypocrisy as I tear you slowly limb from limb and eat your organs while your husband is raped beyond his wildest dreams.” She lets her long tongue hang out as she licks her lips. “Oh the things I’ve waited to do to him.”

“You beast!” Shouts Samantha as she form spears of ice in the air. “This time, I will break you so thoroughly that you will never even dream of escaping again!”

With a flick of her wrist, the spears shoot forward, but Chakrandas is ready, and destroys each one with a shattering blast of dark energy. Samantha takes a step backward, forming another spear while Chakrandas slithers up, her hands glowing purple, the air around her cloying with malice. When the two meet, Chakrandas let loose a rain of punches with her enhanced fists, screaming, “HORA, HORA, HORA, HORA,” while Samantha does her best to parry the blinding quick blows.

Now seems to be the time to get the fuck out of dodge. Unfortunately, Hala is bleeding out while Blake is over in the corner, lying motionless with his dick out. Fucker. But… damnit, you just can’t leave them, even the furry little bitch who wants to jump your junk. Damn you for being a Wizard with a semblance of a conscience.

{Bubs?} You think, searching for him with your mind.

{Big guy, what say we skedaddle the fuck out of here and never look back?} Bubs is obviously scared as the hells as huddles under some jars on one of the workstations in the lab.

{Look, just go check on Blake, we need to grab him to get the fuck out of here.}

{You sure? Because the door is open right over there.}

{Gods damnit, three Bubby snacks!}

{…Fine.}

You can feel Bubs begin to move cautiously as flicks of ice and dark power are scattered about, breaking jars and other items, their contents spilling everywhere. With that taken care of, you do your best to scurry over to Hala, who is lying on her side, pool of blood spilling out around her.

Her breathing is shallow and she looks pale. You aren’t a physician, but damn, that looks pretty bad. Thankfully there’s only one stab wound, but it’s low down so maybe it hit an important organ. Her armor didn’t do too much to stop it, but you feel that without it there, the damage could have been much, much worse.

Pressing part of your robes onto the wound to slow the bleeding, you perform a [Fast scan]. Her humors are not terribly out of balance, but you can feel that she’s fluctuating, and obviously painful. You need to close that wound quickly and deal with the consequences of whatever else comes after later.

A bolt of dark energy flies past your head and you duck down in reflex as it shatters beakers of fluid near you. Damnit all to the hells. You quickly put your hands close to the wound and concentrate your will in the finest area possible under the circumstances and try a quick [Fireball].

Yeah, you really aren’t that good at this. Hala spasms in pain as searing heat cauterizes her wound and causes the area around it to scorch and burn. You quickly apply a sheet of ice as soon as you can to help alleviate the pain. Hala flips and twists around in your care, screaming bloody murder before collapsing to the ground and falling unconscious again.

“Awww, now that isn’t right. When a dog has had her use, you put her down. Don’t you know anything boy?”

You whirl around to find a boot coming for your face. To your credit, you at least think strongly about dodging it before it connects. The blow causes you sprawl out along the floor, shaking your head as you gasp in pain.

“See, now there’s isn’t much I can do for my little miss in that titanic battle over there you see, but I can do this.”

He brandishes his knife and runs toward you with it. This time, you do more than think about dodging and roll out of the way, avoiding the slice. You manage to scrabble to your feet as he comes in for another strike, doing your best to parry with your [Wightbane] but come on, you aren’t a knife fighter. The Mayor however, appears to be.

His slash takes you across the cheek and you feel a surge of hot pain well up followed by the oozing sensation of blood. You wipe some of it off your face, staring at it. It’s so very… red.

“Oh oh ho! So you do bleed my boy!”

He comes in for another slash at your face and you skirt to the side again, the blow slicing right under your chin and narrowly missing your throat. As you stagger backward you feel to make certain he didn’t get you only to find that for some reason part of your beard feels-

“My oh my, what white hair you have for one of your age my boy.” Says Mayor Devore as he holds up part of your lustrous beard. “But I think a sorcerer looks better clean shaven, don’t you?” He lets the hair scatter to the ground.

Sorcerer.

Sorcerer.

Sorcerer.

Gods. Damn it. That’s it, that’s the last fucking straw. You have taken these people’s shit all fucking day: calling you a Gods damn sorcerer, cutting your beard- No, that’s it. You’re done.

You stare down the Mayor as your hair drifts to the floor. He staggers back for a moment at your ferocity, and then chuckles.

“You think that’s going to stop me from killing you? Oh boy, have you got another thing coming.”

“No…” You start to shake your head violently as you raise your hand toward him.

“No, no, no, YOU WILL DIE!” As you scream this you fire a rapid chain of [Lightning Bolts].

The Mayor never stood a chance. He twists and screamed as electricity wracks his body. You swear that you can see his skeleton light up as his skin blackens and burns under the raw power of your electricity. He staggers back, a horrific corpse on legs, and topples to the ground, knife clattering to the floor.

“NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” screams Samantha as she watches the Mayor die. She turns to move towards him, emotions taking full control over her. This is likely is why she failed to see Chakrandas throwing a massive blow at her, purple energy hitting Samantha in the back with such force that she flies into the stone wall, shattering through it and colliding into a pile of antiques.

Chakrandas begins to cackle madly, wrapping her arms around her body as she spasms in laughter.

“Oh yesssss, yessss yessss yesssssssssss! It feels so good! Oh your pain, your agony! It is beautiful!” She turns to you and licks her lips, panting.

“Very well done my sorcerer, very well done indeed. Ehehe, yes, yes, I think you deserve a reward for such an act.” She slides forward as she says this, tittering in laughter every few moments. You merely grit your teeth and close your eyes as she slowly slithers about you.

“Tell me what you desire, and I can make it a reality. In my new order I will need men like you. With your talent, I might make you one of my…” She leans in close to whisper, “Personal concubines.”

You take a deep breath and clench your teeth as she drags a hand slowly over your body, her fingers toying around your waist. Through said clenched teeth you ask, “What do you intend to do in this new order?”

“Last time I thought small, just ruling this little peasant territory. But now I think I’ll just rule the world, with you at my side. Anything you wish, gold, jewels, other women… Oh the things I will do to you….”

You exhale slowly and open your eyes, focusing intently on the face right before you. Yeah, these things may sound great to some normal person, but at what cost? A slave to be used for sex everyday to power her new little empire? Someone who gives away everything they love and hold dear just to be on call for fucks? That’s not what you want, it has never been what you want. You may have thoughts that could cloud your judgement, make you feel things that might lead you astray, but in this moment of perfect clarity, you know one thing:

You’re a fucking Wizard.

“No.”

“Eh?” She asks, looking confused at your statement.

“I said no. Oh, and I’m not a petty sorcerer.” You build up your will, the power nearly palpable in the air.

“I’m a Gods damned Wizard.”

Chapter 47

The previous impediments to your magic abate in that moment of clarity. Filled with purpose and raw magic, you unleash your full fury upon the Lamia.

First, you thrust your fist into the air and begin the [Irate Frog Song] which forces Chakrandas back, confusion on her face. She doesn’t notice then when you concentrate your will and bring forth a pillar of [Ice] straight into her chest, throwing her backwards a good fifteen feet and causing her to land on the ground in a heap.

Oh but you aren’t done there. Sheathing the [Wightbane] you perform a [Fast scan] and then haphazardly throw in a [Miasma]. It doesn’t slow her down overly much, but it does have an effect to make her cough, which allows you time to raise a flow of shit from her corner and utterly drench her in the slop.

By this point she’s managed to right herself, but she screams in confusion as you keep throwing magic at her. With one hand, you toss a [Fireball], the heat of it warming your skin through your robes. It contacts her and causes her hair to go alight, causing her to scream in pure agony as her own feces and flesh catch fire and fed upon themselves.

With your other hand, you throw out a [Lightning bolt] of such intensity, the electricity becomes blinding for a moment and, while this [Plasma Blast] doesn’t occur, she does go perfectly rigid and lock her jaw as the power runs through her, magnified by the pure heat rushing off her. Despite this, she slithers forward, reaching toward you as she burns, but she veers off course, spasming, and collapses to the ground mid slither. As she spasms, she slides across the dirtied floor, glass cutting into her body as she twitches and burns.

She raises one hand toward you, tries to choke out a word, and then collapses to the ground, unmoving.

You pant heavily at the devastation around you and, with a mighty roar, you slam the ground, screaming out your rage, frustration, and resolve. It’s over, the two Monsters are dead and you, your friends, such as they are, and your familiar, are alive.

Take that, fate.

You slump to your knees and sigh, the adrenaline and power draining from you and leaving you incredibly tired. Taking a nap sounds awesome right about now, and your eyes start to flutter closed when you hear a sharp voice in your head,

{Big guy, look out!}

You turn behind you and see Chakrandas. Her smoldering body, burned almost beyond recognition, is above you, one good eye blazing in hatred as she holds up a hand which glows in pure purple light.

Oh. Well shit.

She screams and slams her fist forward. You just bow your head, closing your eyes. Well, you did your best. Hey, maybe this blow will kill you so you won’t have to suffer being raped. That would be nice. A shame you can’t say goodbye to Selene, but maybe that’s for the best.

Nothing happens. You open one eye very slowly and see a hand mere inches from your face. You blink in surprise and see Chakrandas staring down with that one eye at a large, gaping wound in her chest from which a sword now protrudes.

“Skronk?” Is all Chakrandas could say before the blade slides out of her chest, and in one, clean motion, her head is severed from her neck. It tumbles to the ground, and her body collapses near you a moment later, spasming for a second before becoming still.

You just stare as Blake wipes off the blade and nods towards you. No words are needed as he helps pick you up from the ground. You nod your head towards Hala and Blake heads over, looking at her wounds.

“I think she’ll live.” He says after a moment, sighing in relief.

“Might be some kind of… Health potion or something here. I dunno.” You say in a tired voice You move to find somewhere to sit, to just… take it all in, when you hear a noise from the hole in the wall, causing both Blake and yourself to come to attention.

You listen for a moment and… it sounds like crying? Slowly, painfully, you both creep toward the wall. On the other side of the hole you spy the form of Samantha, lying broken in a pile of antique chairs, which are also broken. She cries miserably, her limbs cracked and splayed in every which direction. It’s obvious that had she not been a Monster, she would have been dead from the impact, but as it is, she’s no threat. She’s just a broken woman, with everything taken away from her again.

You look down at the [Wightbane] at your side and see that it is still magically attuned. Looking up at Blake he sighs, shaking his head.

“Do what you think is just, Wizard.”

You sigh and draw the knife, slowly walking toward the broken Lich. She barely seems to notice you as she cries, unable to move except in twitches and spasms, and she coughs up blood as you kneel down next to her. Her eyes shift to the side, and you see that she’s looking at the silver chalice which had been knocked out of her hands when she was thrown.

It’s somehow still in one piece, the runes upon it flickering in and out of intensity, as if its power is trying to cling to life. You crouch down onto your haunches, staring at her.

“N-no. P-please.” She mewls pitifully. “I-I can… I can give you anything just… Oh Gods he’s dead.” She starts to mumble incoherently, and you sigh, rubbing your head.

“Why?”

Samantha freezes, staring at you with wide, tear filled eyes, a look of pure horror on her face as she whispers, “I don’t… I never meant to-“

“Yes, you did. There’s no hope for you now, this is your last chance, so why?”

Tears stream from her face as she wails, “I didn’t want this! I never wanted to become a…a…”

“Monster.” You finish for her.

She chokes up and then squeezes her eyes closed. “Yes…yes I see it now. But I wanted to punish her so badly that I… nrgh, I would do anything, and… and…” She starts to fitfully laugh as she sobs, “I raised an army of the dead. Dear Gods, I turned my dead friends into Monsters as well. Hahaha, oh Solos, what have I done?”

She looks to you, eyes pleading. “Please, let me go, let me change what I… what I’ve done. Please, please, I won’t do it ever again, just let me go, let me go, please?”

You look up and take a deep breath before saying, “You know I can’t.”

Samantha begins to weep furiously again, and it breaks your heart to hear her pitiful protests. But you have to do it, for the sake of everyone in this town and everything she’s ever done, this is justice. You take a deep breath and gulp, then steady the blade in your shaking hands. She stares up at you, pleading. “Don’t…”

You plunge the [Wightbane] into her heart before she can finish.

Samantha’s back spasms and her mouth opens in a soundless scream, her eyes fluttering open wide as tendrils of blackness shoot through her veins. Her eyes turn into black orbs which melt like the rest of her body, becoming a pile of disgusting filth and destroying her utterly in mere moments.

You don’t know how long you sat there, hand clenched on the knife before you finally realize Blake is shaking you, saying, “Wizard, Wizard! It’s over.”

It takes you a few moments to comprehend what he said. Looking down at the knife, you slowly withdraw it, your knuckles white from holding it so hard. Gently, Blake takes the knife from you, one finger at a time, and you stagger over to the wall, steadying yourself as your emotions roil around in your head.

Blake picks up the chalice and turns it over in his hands. “Phylactery. We’ll have to destroy this to put her down for good.”

You feel sick to your stomach. “Just do it.” Blake nods, setting the chalice to the ground. You hear a sickening crunch behind you and turn to see the object smashed apart with his shield. The runes upon it wink out, and do not return. In that instant, it feels as if a great blast of fresh air washes over you, and you stagger back, blinking. It feels like… like all the malice and pain you had felt from Samantha before is just… gone?

With shaky hands you pull out the [Malign Compass]. It doesn’t point at anything anymore, the finger bone just drifting lazily in the device. Well shit, it’s finally over you guess. If the source of power for the Wights is gone, then they’ll probably just become corpses again. True, they’ll be human corpses in the middle of a forest of Monsters, but you have the feeling that’s nothing new.

You sigh as Bubs crawls up your robes and paws at your face.

{You gunna be okay Big Guy?}

{Yeah. Just… just give me a minute.}

{Sure.} He scurries into your pocket after that, giving you time to rest and think things over.

Dimly, you heard Blake picking up Hala and call to you, “Wizard, we should be off before the butler raises trouble about this. I do not envy her traveling in her condition, but we can’t stay here.”

“Ah, but to the contrary, I think you can.”

You both look up at the entrance to the lab and see the Butler, holding a rather large crossbow in his arms, pointed directly at Blake.

“You will stay where you are until I hear further word from the Mayor.”

You sigh and point to Devore’s corpse. “He’s right over there, if you want to ask him anything.”

The man’s eyes grow wide as he lowers the crossbow. “Dear Gods no, I’ve failed another one… But… But I can’t fail the Mayor! I can’t! Not again! What will I do, oh what will I do…”

Blake grits his teeth and fishes out the sigil of the Order from under his armor. “You want a Mayor to serve? Fine, by the authority of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood, I enact authority sixty-six, the right of a Hero to temporarily be given command in an emergency situation where there is a power vacuum.”

The butler stares, mouth agape as he stutters. “B-but no one’s used that authority in 486 years!”

“Indeed, but I was not aware that the authorities were voided?”

The man drops the crossbow to the ground. “No, no of course not! My lord, how shall I serve you?”

Blake sighs and nods to Hala. “First things first, help me get her to a bed and get her some medical care.”

“Of course, of course!” He hurries over and stops midway, staring at Chakrandas’s corpse.

“Is that the former…?”

“Less talking, more helping.”

He quickly jumps up and helps carry the unconscious Wolf Girl away, leaving you alone in the basement with your rat and two corpses. You feel bone fucking tired and the thought of a pint of ale and a good night’s sleep sounds amazing. As good as this sounds however, you still need to search the lab to make sure it’s clear before going to bed.

Gods you’re so tired though.

 

Chapter 48

 

You rub at your eyes, take in a deep breath, and push yourself off the wall. Alright, you can rest later, let’s see what’s in this damn lab so you can forget about it later. Scanning around your immediate area, you see what’s left of Samantha’s corpse and many, many antique chairs. Well, a fair amount of antique chairs and a multitude of splinters anyway.

Your Wizardly bones a-creaking, you crawl out from the hole in the wall to survey the lab proper. Yeah, it was dirty before, but holy hells, it’s straight up battlefield now. Various fluids cover the floor while the corpses of the Mayor and Chakrandas are slowly being coated in blood, feces, and a host of other, foul smelling things.

Searching through the chest and Chakrandas’s corner, you find nothing of value. The drawers also have nothing worth taking, but when you start looking at the cabinets you find some things of interest. There’s some books- a few on basic magical theory, one on the philosophy of the undead, and a bloodstained, obviously used often book titled, “Field Medicine Magic.”

You take the book from the cabinet and turn it over in your hands, opening it up. Half the pages are covered in smeared blood, as if Samantha had quickly needed to pick it up and flip to pages during her studies. You can easily find the pages she went to frequently, because they’re almost illegible with smears. Looks like keeping the Lamia alive was difficult at times. You take interest at a page labeled, “Laceration litanies” and scan a few spells there used to treat wounds. Might see about helping Hala later with this or something, though you replace the book, not wanting to keep something so torn up.

The cabinet to the left of the one you’re currently looking at is more useful however. Row after row of vials filled with white liquid line the shelf. Oh good, the “non-Monster” had a stockpile of semen, how charming. You notice at the bottom of the cabinet though that there’s a book lying next to some red potions. You pick it up, scanning the title. It reads, “Potions, Brews, and Elixirs.” Hells that sounds amazing, let’s totally start- Waiiiiiiit. You open the book and look at a recipe.

Yep, as you thought, semen is the base.

Next page also has semen as the base, and the next one, and the next one. Fucking Monsters and their semen-based magic. It kills you that no human has been able to replicate alchemy like the Monster witches without using semen. You notice a tab in the book and open it up to see a picture and description of a health potion. It matches the three sitting there and you sigh, scooping them up. You leave the book where it is for now, feeling sticky after touching it.

{That all Big Guy?}

“I think so, can’t say I saw much else.” You say.

{Yeah, guess not.} He pauses for a moment. {Some real shit went on down there, huh?}

“Tell me about it.”

{Yeah… You know, despite being in mortal peril all the time, I just…} Bubs pauses, trying to mentally gather his words. {Just wanted to say thanks for making me more than a filth chewing rodent.}

You look down in your pocket, and you sort of… choke up. You swallow and look up, take a deep breath, and try keep everything in check as you croak, “Yeah… Yeah me too little guy.”

You smile as you continue, “You do still eat filth though.”

{I’m only rat. Unless you could make me a dire rat, I’ve always sort of wanted to terrorize dogs.}

{We’ll see little guy, we’ll see.}

As you walk out of the room however, you pause and look back to the corpse of Chakrandas. While burnt horrifically, you can still feel power emanating from the corpse. It couldn’t- no, no that would be silly. But… what if?

Biting your lip, you walk over to her body and take out your [Wightbane], looking over the knife. You take in a deep breath and then cut off the last vertebrate of her tail, which is admittedly huge, and place the chunk of [Lamia Tail] into your pocket. Hopefully no one notices until you get your bag back.

With that, you trudge back upstairs, scanning the other rooms briefly. There are no magical signatures that you see in the rooms, just paintings and chairs. Seriously, why so many chairs? It… You know what, it’s not important at the moment. You just make it back upstairs without falling somehow.

As you make it into the study, the Butler walks by, pausing as he catches you.

“Ah, master sorcerer…”

“Wizard.”

“Yes, yes of course. Master Wizard. By the acting Mayor’s request, I have begun transfer of your possessions to the manor house from the inn as well as taken the liberty to prepare a room for you this evening. Is there anything else I can do for you?”

You close your eyes and sigh. Gods, a room in a manor house has to have an amazing bed. Ugghhhh, but first you should check up on Blake and Hala you guess.

“Show me where Bla… The acting Mayor is with Hala, Mr…?”

“Sal, Fredick Sal.”

He bows deeply and you follow him to a large staircase which brings up to a set of double doors, obviously the master bedroom. He bows to you again and nod your head when you think of something.

“Do you think you can bring me a pint of ale?”

“Of course, of course, I have just the brew.”

You slowly open the doors and see a large, well-furnished bedroom with multiple hand carved wooden dressers, chests, and other items, all centered around a large, four posted bed. Hala is under the covers, her eyes closed, while Blake sits on a very fancy upholstered chair, one of seven in the room, holding her hand. He looks up and nods as you enter, holding a finger to his lips. You nod wearily and shuffle towards him, looking at the sleeping Wolf Girl.

She is obviously naked under the sheets, her armor off in the corner, and she squirms restlessly as Blake holds her hand. Despite being a Monster who killed and ate other Monsters in a forest of doom, in this position she looks almost like the young woman that she is, vulnerable and delicate. For a moment, you wonder how much different they truly are from humans.

Blake whispers to you, “Find anything?”

You nod, “Mostly some health potions,” you say as you pull one out. “Should help her recover well. I can do some scans later, see how she’s feeling.”

Blake nods gratefully as he considers the potion, then takes the stopper off and pours the viscous solution into her mouth. Hala coughs but immediately looks far more relaxed to you, her face no longer wracked in pain. A moment later her eyes flutter open and she looks up at the two of you.

“Did we get them?”

You can’t help but smile as Blake squeezes her paw. “Yeah, we got them.”

Hala smirks and lays her head back, her hand tightening on Blake’s. “Serves the bitch right. At least my pack can rest easy now.”

“Of course. Now then, time to get some sleep, your body needs it despite the potion our Wizard found.” Blake says as he stands up, but Hala holds fast to his hand, giving him puppy dog eyes.

“Would you…mind staying with me?”

Blake blinks and flushes a little before nodding slowly. “Of course.”

She smiles back at him and you just…walk away. You’re too tired to even sigh, so you leave the two beaming at each other, closing the door quietly behind you. Gods damnit, you feel like there was a tender moment there which just became… romantic. Ugh, well as long as you’re not part of it.

You look around wearily and see some other rooms down the hall. Trudging toward them, you find that the closest one has a small, but freshly made, bed and a table with a tall mug of frothy liquid. You practically slump into one of the five, seriously, there are five, chairs and smell the liquid. It’s pure, amber bliss, and you take a swig, the rich hoppy flavors coursing through you. Gods damn that Butler knows what you want better than you do.

Out of the corner of your eye you see something and notice that it’s your [Sack of Holding +1]. You dump your new items into it before savoring the rest of your ale. As the last drop flows down your gullet, you shrug out of your robes with massive effort and fall onto the bed, whose softness is on par with anything you’ve ever felt. Despite the tide of emotions and memories now starting to vie for control of your mind, your eyes drift closed, and sleep takes you.

 

Chapter 49

 

“Master Wizard?”

You you slowly open your eyes to a sunlit room. Groggily, you look about to see the Frederick standing at the foot of your bed. “I apologize for waking you, but your companions wished to speak with you at your earliest convenience. The acting Mayor seems as if he wishes to journey forth soon after implementing a new political structure.”

Good for Blake, what a go-getter. As for yourself however, you shift under the covers and consider if you should just go back to bed. Of course, there’s still shit to do and if Blake is going to upset the entire political structure of the town, you better be there to make certain he doesn’t get killed doing it. He still owes you.

You nod to the butler and yawn, “I’ll be there soon, just… let me freshen up abit.”

He bows, “Very good sir, the acting Mayor and mistress Hala are in the dining hall.”

Stretching, you pull back the covers as he leaves and set about putting your kit back together. You can feel Bubs stirring from his place under the covers on the other side from where you slept. It’s amusing to watch the little lump scurry to the edge and reveal small rat nose before pulling himself out fully.

{Morning Big guy, where’s my snacks?}

“You’ll get them when our stuff is delivered from the inn.”

{Bah.} He mentally sends before skittering down the bed, up your leg, then into your pocket. He pokes his head out sniffs, to which you give him pats before slapping your cheeks and heading downstairs.

You reflect upon how different this place feels as you descend the staircase. Maybe it’s because Samantha’s magic is gone, or maybe it was because you’re not in in mortal peril anymore, but the overwhelming sense of darkness is just… Gone. Sure, you can still feel the years of malice and pain sunk into the very foundation, but overall it’s quieter, as if a great beast could once again rest.

Gliding down the stairs, you notice that the paintings have been uncovered and some new ones from downstairs are once again hanging. Where the Frederick found time for this, you have no idea, but all other thoughts leave your mind as you smell the heavenly aroma of cooked meats and fresh bread.

You practically run into the dining hall, eyes wide at the spread of breakfast foods in front of you. Did you mention that breakfast foods were you favorite? No? Well. They are.

As you slide into the room, Blake looks up at you, a piece of steak cut perfectly upon a fork while Hala crouches up in a chair, a hunk of ham hanging out of her mouth. You notice she’s wearing a shift, looted from Samantha’s wardrobe, however it’s obviously too small for Hala, so it fits rather snug on her frame.

“Heysh Wishar! Morng!” She tries to say with a full mouth. She obviously is feeling much better after last night, and she practically seems to glow to you as she chews upon the meat with a happy expression. You perform a [Fast Scan] and note that there’s no trace of her humours being displaced at all, which either means that she’s really good at healing, or that potion did wonders. Maybe if it wasn’t made of… Ugh, anyway, Blake and Hala could have as muuuuch as they want.

As you take a seat Blake nods to you. “Good morning Wizard, I trust you slept well?”

“Like a stone.” You start to shovel food onto a plate, piling it high. “How about yourself?”

Blake coughs and you look up to see him and Hala exchange little glances before looking away from each other. Hala blushes while Blake stutters a little. “F-fine. Made sure Hala recovered well.”

“Yush!” Hala says, still chewing, although she looks down, her face growing redder.

You eye Hala with a sideways glance. “I take it she’s…?”

Blake and Hala share another look between each other. The man coughs and says, “We discussed it last night and Hala feels… attached… to our little party. I don’t think it would hurt to have her around, especially since she doesn’t have any family left and… well.” He looks off to the side.

You look between the two and sigh, shaking your head. Well maybe she won’t be after your junk anymore, which is great! And she can keep her head! That’s also okay you guess.

As that thought passes your mind, you wonder why you didn’t see Selene last night. Your room had a window and no one but Bubs was in there, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to at least leave you a little present. But there was nothing. Nada. Zilch. How odd…

As you chew your breakfast in bliss, Frederick raps upon the door and announces, “Mayor, your items and horses have been delivered. Is there aught else I can do for you?”

Blake wipes his mouth and puts down this fork. “Ah, excellent. Yes, please summon the townsfolk in the square at noon, and please wear your finest clothing.”

The butler looks at him, confused, and then bows again. “Of course. It shall be done.”

He exits, leaving you staring at Blake with a questioning expression. He shrugs and goes to pick up his items, looking them over. You notice he has his sword close at hand, but he also has that antique shield in the corner too. Interesting.

“Don’t worry, it’s nothing too major. Just setting things up in town for when we leave.” Blake says, picking up your items and handing them to you.

You take the [Pocket Dimension] gratefully and Bubs starts squirming in your pocket, making little laps around. You roll your eyes in good nature and pull out three heated bread pouches, place them on a plate, then set it out for Bubs. He leaps out of your pocket and tears into them with vigor. Such a good little guy.

“Seriously, where do you keep getting those?” Asks Hala, who has finished her current chunk of meat.

“It’s magic, I don’t have to explain shit.” You say, making sure all your items are accounted for. Yep all there, great.

“Uh huh.” Hala says, choosing another piece of ham and sniffing it before taking a big bite. She closes her eyes in delight as she starts to worry at it.

“Sosh, whas upsh afta thish?”

Blake raised an eyebrow. “Manners, Hala. We talked about it.”

She lowers the piece from her mouth and pouts. “Hmmph. You humans and your ‘manners.'”

“Many Monsters respect proper etiquette also.”

“Thash right.” You say, chewing openly.

Blake gives you a flat look and you smirk at him. “Yes… Well, as for that’s next, after this business is sorted out, we make for the capital. It’s maybe a five-day trip via wagon as we discussed before.”

You groan. “Five days? Come on, that’s like, eight mortal encounters or something.”

Hala blinks at you and Blake sighs deeply. You look back and forth between them and shrug.

“Well, I’m just going off prior experience. Just want to get my glass in one piece, you hear?”

“Of course, as you’ve said before.” Blake says, looking a little skeptical. Jackass. “Once we arrive, we’ll set up with the Order, get you your glass and see about getting you home in one piece.”

“Good!” You say, smiling.

“However! I believe you will wish to speak with the Lord Commander before we can requisition anything.”

You groan and lean forward on the table. “Great….”

————————————————————————————–

The rest of breakfast is uneventful, and you go to fix your beard, making it somewhat presentable before Blake’s little speech. Once finished, you make your way to the master bedroom where you find Blake and Hala finishing their own preparations.

“Ready to go then, Wizard?”

“Yeah, yeah.” You say, waving your hand in a bored gesture.

Hala pouts as she messes with her leather armor. “Stupid… itchy armor.”

Blake taps her on the head and you all leave together out to the town square before the manor. There, just about every human in the town and the outer farms is packed around in their nicest clothes, while the Monsters stand out in the periphery, if they are present at all. When they see your party walk up, a tide of hushed whispers goes through the crowd, until Blake holds up a hand for silence.

When everyone quiets down he looks about and projects his voice out, clearly heard even in the back.

“Mayor Devore and his wife are dead.”

The crowd erupts into screams and yells of outrage and terror. Blake holds up his hand again and shouts for order, to no avail. Obviously he didn’t think this over too well, because that really isn’t what you start out with saying. You sigh, walking up next to Blake, and slam your staff down, creating a column of fire that shoots into the air, silencing everyone. You step back and Blake coughs into his hand.

“Thank you. Now, I know you are obviously shocked to hear this news, but it was discovered that lady Samantha was not who she appeared to be. She was, I am afraid to say, a Lich. She had become a Monster of pure hatred who had kept the former ruler of this town imprisoned, but alive, under the manor.”

At this, the Monsters in the back begin to yell furiously. The people in front of them about to yell back, and you can feel the tension in the air rising. You give Blake a “seriously?” look and make to shoot off more fire when Hala gives a deep, resonant howl that seems to drive even the Monsters to silence. When they do quiet down she says,

“Hey, shut the fuck up! Turns out she was the bitch who sent the damn midnight walkers into the forest to kill us. But she’s gone now, so maybe you could stay quiet for a damn moment and let the man talk?”

Everyone keeps quiet at that. Blake nods to the two of you and sighs before continuing. “Yes… That is true. As a Hero of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood, it was my duty to slay her.”

Well, you slew her, but that’s just a minor detail.

“And as a Hero, acting under the terms set upon all provinces under the King of Deleor, it is my right to act as Mayor in situations where order is clearly needed.” He takes a deep breath and focuses.

“This town has had much and more in the way of abuse over the years. From the tyrannical Chakrandas, to the genocidal Lady Devore, human and Monster have both suffered. But I know this town used to be a place of harmony and trust between the peoples of the forest and the town. I know that it can be again. Look toward each other, do you truly hate one another?”

The people and Monsters give each other uneasy looks as Blake continues. “This will take time to heal, trust is something that cannot be mended overnight, but is living in fear of the night, or punishing others with nothing but pained memories as guidance truly what you wish to do? Look into your hearts, I know that all of you can once more live in harmony,”

Despite how comically cheesy it is, even the Monsters seemed placated at this. They shift uneasily as the humans nearest them seemed abashed.

“To facilitate this process, I am using my authorization to elect a new Mayor, one who has worked with both humans and Monsters, and knows more about the laws of the land and it’s people than anyone.”

He waves a hand to Frederick, who walks up nervously.

“You all know Frederick Sal, the Mayor’s aide? Well, meet your new Mayor.”

Frederick look at Blake with incredulity and he starts to fumble at words when the crowd suddenly erupts in cheers. Even Blake looks stunned as people seemed elated at the news. Frederick starts to tear up a little, wiping his eyes.

“Thank you everyone, I promise, I will not fail you. Ever!”

Another round of cheers goes up, drowning out all other noise.

————————————————————————————–

A few hours later, you finish loading up the wagon and step on board next to Hala who is admiring the covered canvas above by prodding it with her finger.

“Are you certain you cannot stay?” Asks Mayor Sal as Blake finishes hitching up the horses.

“Afraid not, we have to make for the capital. Besides, I think things are in good hands.”

The new Mayor smiles and nods his head. “Certainly. Though it was perhaps not on the best of terms, I am glad that you came here, and helped put everything at ease. This wagon and provisions are the least I can offer your efforts. Safe travels.”

Blake hops up on the driver’s seat and waves to the Mayor. He slaps the reins and Mr. Ed, who got his carrots, and Blake’s horse, who also got carrots, pull forward. As your cart trundles down the grassy path out of town, you look back and wonder if everything will be alright. Meh, it’s no longer your concern, right?

You lean back in the wagon and Bubs crawls out to sit on your chest as you ponder the late afternoon sky.

Bubs shift in your lap and thinks, {Hey big guy, you know that she’s watching us, right?}

{She?}

{The super strong, psychotic cat lady. I can feel her following us pretty close. Guess we can expect a visit later, huh?}

Oh. Of course she is, and she isn’t even trying to hide it. It’s going to be a long night, isn’t it?

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2 thoughts on “Wizardquest Part 5: Big Trouble in Little Varruck”

  1. I find myself looking at the spell components for Witch’s healing potions- in a new light. It’s a sort of “Now That You Mention It” moment…
    I think I’m going to need to take a nice long hot shower for a few days.

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