It was raining jelly this morning.
Victor knew that there were moments in the life of a man, where the world didn’t seem to make sense. His life had stopped making sense long ago, so he only bothered with raising an eyebrow at the sight.
He had been busy mimic-walking Vainqueur Junior around town with a chain leash when it started. Colored clouds appeared out of nowhere, before raining green, blue, red, and white jelly monsters. Puddle-sized creatures of colored goo landed on the houses and the ground, each looking like a blob with two vitreous eyes. Victor used his [Monster Insight] Perk on a blue one, which released some residual electricity around itself.
Strong against Physical, Water, Acid, and Electric.
Weak against Earth and Magic.
A young slime with the ability to generate bio-electricity. While incredibly weak and vulnerable to most spells, their body makes them immune to physical attacks. Often used as dungeon cleaners or pets by bigger monsters.
“Interesting, a new magical weather,” Furibon said from within the scythe; by now Victor always carried it around for safety reasons. “Is it the start of a slime season?”
The slime let out screeching sounds which Victor translated as crying.
“Babies?” Vainqueur Junior said, with a hint of concern and affection. Oh, yes. Victor had forgotten Mimics were Slime-types. These creatures were Junior’s distant cousins.
Victor figured that in any other city, a rain of monsters would have been cause for alarm, but the citizens of Murmurin took it in stride. “Free food!” a gnoll merchant rejoiced, immediately moving to capture the slimes in bottles.
“Sweet, fire-starters!” a werewolf transformed into monster form to grab a fire jelly, probably to use it in his chimney.
Instead of the defense of a village against a monster army, the event quickly turned into a slime hunting party. Even Victor participated, albeit reluctantly, as his pet strained against its chains and forced him to move around.
“Babies!” Junior shouted as it grabbed the crying jellies with its hands, putting them on its back. The scene reminded an amused Victor of a mother hen putting chicks on its back for safety.
It was a pretty fun moment, if stressful, as Junior seemed intent on rescuing more slimes than the other citizens could capture. How long would that rain last—
Victor found himself teleported to the temple district, leaving his chained pet behind to meet his master. Unlike the rest of the city, this area, located closer to the mountain, didn’t suffer from the rain yet.
“Minion!” Vainqueur angrily pointed a claw at the new Temple of the Twelve Gods under construction. The Church of Shesha, careful of the local population, had brought mostly beastkin workers from abroad to build the place, overseen by dwarf engineers. Built on a hill next to the volcano, the final design would put Haudemer’s cathedral to shame.
“It’s the new temple,” Victor replied. The place was nowhere near finished, with only the main walls raised. “Why, you want it gone?”
“It looks taller than my statue in central square!” Vainqueur complained, incensed. A crowd of monsters and workers gathered nearby to look at the giant dragon. “No way this merchant con’s statue can overshadow mine! Fetch me Mot!”
Here we go again, Victor thought with a sigh, grabbing the bottle around his belt with his free hand which carried Junior’s chain beforehand. “Mot, come out.”
The genie appeared in a puff of white smoke, his expression sorrowful upon seeing Vainqueur. “Oh.”
“Minion of my minion, make the biggest statue of me that you can!”
“Another statue?” Victor could see the light in Mot’s eyes slowly dying out with each new wish, replaced by the familiar, empty gaze of a jaded veteran of Vainqueur’s antics.
“But one made of rubies this time,” Vainqueur clarified. “So it looks crimson like my scales. Make it taller than that temple.”
“Mot, please create a pure ruby statue of His Majesty,” Victor said, sympathizing with the creature. So far, Vainqueur had mostly used the djinn for whimsical demands.
The genie let out a heavy sigh and snapped his fingers. A giant representation of Vainqueur slightly smaller than the Statue of Liberty, made of the purest rubies, stood in front of the new temple. It would have been an amazing, impressive sight… if Mot hadn’t represented the dragon ready to take flight with an arm extended like Superman’s.
Obviously, Vainqueur was too enamored by his own image to find the subtle ridiculousness in the sight; and the crowds were too amazed by the impressive display of magic to laugh at it.
“Make a smaller statue of my chief of staff next to it,” Vainqueur added. “Onyx for the clothes, and lapis-lazuli for the skin.”
“Do you have any use of my phenomenal cosmic powers outside of landscaping and making money?” Mot asked, increasingly frustrated.
"No," Vainqueur replied bluntly.
The genie made an exhausted face. While he had taken reimbursing Victor’s debt in stride, Vainqueur’s demands had slowly eaten away at his enthusiasm.
“A dragon does not rule a city full of dung,” the Emperor declared. He had gone on a wishing rampage after visiting Murmurin for the first time since his month of seclusion, due to finding the place sub-par. “His land must be as shiny as his hoard!”
Victor had to admit that Vainqueur may have a hidden talent for architecture. After wishing away all lead in his dominion—Mot turning it to gold—Vainqueur had used the genie almost exclusively for landscaping: creating extravagant marble-paved roads, adding golden dragon statues on every street corner, and overall transforming Murmurin into an impressive capital worthy of a dragon emperor.
“I wish to rule a city of gems,” Vainqueur ordered. “The shiniest place in the world!”
“Is that an actual wish?” Mot asked with a frown, Victor nodding. The genie let out a heavy sigh; like a condemned criminal resigning himself to his death. “I will grant it.”
“I will leave you both to your landscaping,” Victor said. “I have to catch Junior before it does something stupid, and then meet with Kia at Allison’s place.”
“Minion, I changed my mind,” Vainqueur said with a serious voice tone. “I do not want you to breed with Knight Kia. She is a terrible influence on my niece, and she will be one on you too.”
“It’s fine, I’m taking someone else out to dinner tonight. Hopefully for the last time.”
“Good, we shall go return the bottle to the quest giver tomorrow,” Vainqueur declared, surprising both Victor and the djinn.
“You will?” Mot’s head perked up in joy. “You truly will?”
“A dragon does not go back on his word,” Vainqueur replied with pride. “I said I would return the bottle to its owner, and I will. He shall get the bottle, and we shall keep you, Minion Mot. You shall never stop working for V&V, I swear it!”
If there was a picture for ‘absolute despair’ in the dictionary, Mot’s face would have had to be the top pick. Victor absentmindedly used [Monster Insight] on him, in case his species had some tricks up its sleeve.
The same result as Melodieuse. Maybe his Perk only worked on lower level monsters?
But then why could it work on Vainqueur himself?
After returning Junior and its newly adopted slime litter to the castle, Victor flew to Allison’s place. As Rolo’s mechanic, she shared a house with the golem and recently agreed to let Barnabas settle in her workshop. From outside, their workshop looked like a mad scientist’s haven, with robot parts littering the ground alongside gears, reservoirs of oil, and forging tools.
He found Kia waiting for him in front of an open garage, Allison, and Barnabas the troll tinkering with Rolo’s gears. “Sorry I’m late,” he told the knight. “Got a few problems with the rain. I think we caught most of the slimes.”
“I know,” Kia nodded at a glass lamp above the garage’s entrance. A sleeping red slime provided the light. “They’re strangely cute for blobs of goo.”
“Do you think we could produce an electric current with enough of them?” Victor asked, unsure if other countries had tried to tame them.
“You would need a lot of them, and they remain wild monsters,” Kia pointed out. “A few alchemists tried to domesticate them, but most turned to powerstone study after the initial failures.”
Then again, most civilized species lacked Perks useful for dealing with monsters, such as Victor’s [Monster Student]. If he had managed to tame something as alien as Junior, Victor thought he could still make use of the creatures.
“I haven’t found anything on djinns,” Kia said, as Allison and Barnabas finished their check-up of Rolo, the golem flexing his arms. “You would think a species capable of granting wishes would have more lore about it.”
“Yeah, I wanted to do more research on his kind before wishing for stuff, but Vainqueur hated lead too much to listen.” At least he convinced the dragon not to wish anything too spectacular or sensitive for the moment. “I don’t trust him. Vainqueur wants to return the bottle to Barsino, and that would help us fact-check that map.”
“I cannot say if it would be wise to give the djinn to Barsino or not,” Kia admitted.
“Isn’t he a hero of the Century War?”
“Yes, but he only supported Gardemagne because he saw an opportunity to claim territory for his country. I met him once, and he struck me as cunning and charming, but also as an opportunist.”
Still better than Melodieuse. Thinking of her… “By the way, I asked Mot to locate Melodieuse, and he came up short.”
“So she is either using a pseudonym or blocking his power?” The paladin sighed. “Of course that would be too easy.”
“Thanks, Barney!” Allison thanked Barnabas, as they finished working on Rolo.
“Been thinking about testing these new Agarthan gears for a while,” the troll grumbled. “Advanced design, but shoddy work.”
“I feel as good as new,” the golem replied, before bumping a fist to the heavens. “Nothing can stop Rolo now!”
“Hi, Vic, Kia!” Allison welcomed them with a bright smile, cleaning her oil-stained hands with a towel. “What’s up?”
“I’m looking for love,” Victor joked.
“In my garage?” she deadpanned back, Kia chuckling at the scene.
“Well, I gotta start somewhere,” he replied, before turning to Rolo, “I visited a tower full of golems recently.”
“The Tower of Sablar? That takes me back.” So indeed, the golem Farmer had come from that place. “I received my first Crest when I managed to fight my way out of it. Is the vile Akhenapep still sleeping at the bottom?”
“I’m looking for supplies to help kick his ass,” Kia confirmed, glancing at Barnabas. “Do you have any item effective against ancient mummies? Like rings protecting against Earth-based attacks?”
“I can forge an [Amulet of the Sandstorms],” the troll replied, eager to create new magic items. “High resistance to the Earth and Wind elements, immunity to the [Sandstorm] weather and its debuffs, and immunity to Curses.”
“The Pharaoh enjoys the benediction of Sablar, for his crimes against nature,” Rolo warned Kia, Allison frowning at his words. The poor state of Ishfania and the rise of Brandon Maure had been a direct result of Akhenapep’s magic. “Time effects do not affect him, and magical protections never resist him for long.”
“I’m not attacking that monster until I have the team assembled and the perfect set-up,” the experienced knight reassured him.
“Do you have information on his abilities?” Allison asked her golem friend. “You worked for him before achieving sentience.”
While Rolo, Allison, and Kia discussed Akhenapep’s abilities, Victor turned to Barnabas. “I’m also looking towards upgrading my arsenal. Items which could help me heal Vainqueur in a fight.”
Vainqueur had the physical part covered, but had no means of regenerating health. Since Victor could never match his master in sheer firepower, he thought he would better learn how to support him; and thanks to his new Perk, he should get a nice discount.
“Money first,” the troll said. “You’re indebted.”
“I was,” Victor replied, before presenting him his purse, full thanks to Mot’s wish. “Here’s more than enough to satisfy you.”
The troll blacksmith glanced at the coins but refused them. “Nah, I don’t accept fairy gold.”
Victor blinked at the same time as Kia and the others, at the mention of fairies. “Come again?” the vizier asked.
“I don’t take fairy gold,” Barnabas replied. “It is either cursed, fake, or blood money.”
Victor connected the dots. [Monster Insight] did work on dangerous monsters.
The Perk just didn’t recognize one specific kind.
“Vic,” Kia quickly unsheathed the sword. “Mot is not a djinn.”
Because djinns didn’t exist in Outremonde. They were another name for...
“Damn!” Victor immediately rushed outside, Kia, Allison, and Rolo following him. With all the wishes he granted for Vainqueur, it was only a matter of time before—
Before Mot snapped.
His frustrated scream echoed through the city and with it a foul purple light. “[Greater Blessing]!” Kia immediately cast on herself, surrounding herself with a golden aura…
But the purple blast canceled the spell at once, instantly turning her and Allison into gemstone statues. Only Victor and Rolo remained unaffected.
Of course, Mot would take out the woman who defeated Balaur first.
“Allison!” Rolo paused in fury, before rushing towards the source of the scream.
The bottle's protective magic had protected Vic from the wish, and Rolo was an artificial creature with natural resistance to magic, but no one else was as lucky. As the two raced through Murmurin, they passed by citizens transformed into gemstone statues.
They found Mot in a devastated townsquare, busy materializing tons of gemstones atop Vainqueur and burying him underneath. The genie had already pinned the great dragon under a large pile of them, his Spell Purge unable to counter the effect.
"You like gems? You like gems?!" Mot snarled, with a twisted, maddened look on his face. The great wyrm would have easily crushed the 'djinn' in a fair fight, but he had been taken by surprise.
“MINION! Minion, stop—” Vainqueur shouted from under the enormous mountain of gems, more falling to drown his head. Even the almighty dragon didn’t have the strength to lift so many precious stones at once; the tip of his tail waved outside the pile, showcasing the emperor’s fruitless struggle to escape.
Mot glared at Victor and Rolo with contempt. “Ah, my ‘master’ and a traitorous golem. What a wonderful pair.”
“Mot, what have you done?” Victor glared at the ‘goblin.’
“Vainqueur wanted a city of gems,” Mot said, with cruel glee in his empty eyes. “Now he has it. No more new statues!”
“Can’t believe you lasted only a few days,” Victor taunted him. “I maintained my sanity for months!”
“Yes, when bound to that bottle, I may look like you, a lowly slave... but deep down in my frozen heart, I know who I am.” His voice turned deeper, echoing with the sound of freezing winds. “An eater of men, the shaytan of legends...”
The goblin grew and changed until Mot wasn’t little anymore. His enormous shape, bigger than a mighty troll, overshadowed his ‘master.’ The creature seemed made of bones of ice, a skeletal eater of children with goat horns; the spine moved to attach itself to the bottle around Victor’s belt as if only half the body was allowed out. Two blue stars shining with malice replaced its eyes, as it glared at the vizier.
“A fairy lord of the fomors.”
“The destroyer of the land,” Rolo grumbled with a hint of terror.
“You’re the creature on the tower’s murals,” Victor recognized it.
“The Tower magnified my powers until Akhenapep could wish the land of the elves dry dead,” Mot said with a vicious kind of pride. “When you have wished for my freedom, when I can strangle the mortal children myself, I shall lay waste to the land and finish what Balaur could not.”
“Yeah, smart to tell me that, never going to happen now,” Victor deadpanned. “You should have played the long game. I would have released you if you had been on good behavior.”
“I intended to, but found something worse than being trapped in a BEEPing bottle and providing gifts to mortals against my will,” Mot said, glaring at the buried Vainqueur. “Serving that dragon!”
“I can wish for those turned to gem to become flesh again,” Victor pointed out.
“I will make flesh out of your statues, so they become alive and eat you,” Mot replied. “Or I shall make everything flesh, from bones to brain. Any wish you shall make I will twist, no matter how you word it. Unless I am set free.”
Yeah, no way in Happyland. But if Vainqueur’s own [Spell Purge] could not suppress Mot’s ancient magic, then only another wish could counteract the chaos. The genie must have had a weakness of some kind. “You can’t kill people.”
The monstrous fairy chuckled. “You would be surprised by what I can make you live through. So? Deal, or agony?”
An idea crossed Victor’s mind. “Okay. Let’s make a contract.”
“Yes, wish for my freedom, and I shall—”
“No, I mean a written contract.” Overseen by the few evil creatures as good at twisting words as a genie. “I’m calling my lawyers!”