Vainqueur Knightsbane, greatest of all dragon adventurers, checked his travel bag, in case he had forgotten anything.
The map, to find his targets.
Three sheeps, for breakfast.
Enough coins to build a makeshift bed, on which he could sleep.
There would be enough space within to gather treasures he collected, alongside princesses, if he caught one on his journey. From his spot near the Devil District, the dragon glanced at his beautiful city, which his minions were busy restoring after the damage the fairy caused; it irked him to leave it and his hoard behind, even for a few days.
The thought of that cursed Icefang getting the lead on him infuriated him more, however. What if that silver lover caught the Blue Rose Legion before Vainqueur did? He wouldn’t stand another humiliation, especially not after the fairy fiasco.
But he would leave tomorrow. Tonight, he would be busy commanding his elite minions for a sensitive operation, the most important since the War of the Hoard. He observed the small crowd gathered in front of him, each aware that their life would be forfeited should they fail Vainqueur today.
“Scrap golem?” Vainqueur began to check his lackeys.
“The feast is ready,” Rolo the golem nodded, having put on a white chef hat. “I have brought out my most precious vegetable and wine from storage, Savoureuse supplied us with the best cheese this side of Outremonde, and I can finally cook that Black Rabbit.”
“I spared no expense,” Savoureuse boasted. “My adorable Victor needs to settle down with the right, caring girl.”
“I still think we should have gone with a vegetarian dinner, or at least stick to fish,” Allison the dryad said, who had assisted the chef with the presentation.
“You cannot have dinner without meat,” Vainqueur replied, incensed by the woman’s lack of culture. “Even if my minion is obsessed with that apple vegetable, his dragon half will demand raw sheep meat. Where is Chocolatine?”
“Already inside,” Allison replied. “Malfy is coaching her on the proper script.”
Vainqueur suddenly realized he should have done the same with his chief of staff. Too late.
As a reward for reimbursing his debt to his dragon master, and dealing with that damn fairy, Vainqueur had decided to personally make sure the minion’s mating ritual would go well. Manling Victor had proved helpless at reproducing on his own, but the dragon had been an excellent goblin breeder in his youth. He knew how a minion’s mind worked.
Sometimes, it hadn't worked out so well, resulting in minion wars and Vainqueur's policy against minion harassment. However, Manling Victor had proved himself the best minion he ever had. The dragon knew his friend would be responsible; and if helping him breed with Chocolatine was the only way his lackey to bestow his eggs on a while, then so be it.
“Kobold Rangers, are you all ready?” the dragon asked his favorite servants; even though they no longer counted as Kobolds, the name stuck.
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Red Ranger nodded, a banjo in his hands; each of the five carrying a different musical instrument. “Pink made us practice the songs.”
“She wasn’t very enthusiastic about it though,” Yellow said.
“Because… because…” Pink seemed to hesitate with the plan, much to Vainqueur’s confusion. “Because Lord Victor belongs with the Emperor!”
“Of course he does, he is my chief of staff,” Vainqueur replied, confused by the ambient embarrassment among the Rangers.
“Don’t listen to her, Your Majesty,” Ranger Black said, putting his foot on Pink’s. “She didn’t mean it that way!”
“I can’t silence the truth…” Pink struggled to find her words. “I… I even… I even wrote a book about it!”
She brought out a scroll, too fast for the other Rangers to steal from her hands. “Pink, you lied to us!” Red glared at her. “You said you would burn it!”
“I couldn’t! His Majesty must know!”
“I must know what?” Vainqueur wondered angrily. “Are you hiding things from me, minions?”
“Your Majesty, please do not read this!” Red panicked, as everyone looked at the scene in confusion. “This is… this is a cursed work, that should never have been committed to paper…”
“Minion Red, I am Emperor of all I see. I can handle any hard truth of my territories. Pink, tell me of this book, but be short. My minion will arrive soon.”
“Yes, Your Majesty,” Pink Ranger opened the scroll, while the other rangers recoiled. “My Immortal Dragon, Chapter One: The Minion’s Wish.”
From the first sentence on, Vainqueur started to feel odd. The world began to chill like the frozen heart of winter, and he sensed a sinister force crawling on his back with every paragraph detailing Manling Victor’s forbidden love for his master. The other minions shivered in dread, perhaps none more than Allison the dryad.
|Charisma check successful! [Terror] and [Madness] negated!|
“Is this how Manling Victor feels?” Vainqueur asked, even more terrified than the other minions.
“I know in my heart, that he does!” Pink Ranger replied.
That poor chief of staff… Vainqueur would have to let him down gently. “I will deal with this myself. Until then, follow my grand strategy.”
Speaking of the devil, Vainqueur could smell his chief of staff coming. “Quick, in position!” the dragon ordered, the minions dispersing, while Vainqueur moved towards the entrance of Malfy’s newest casino, a den of iniquity and wastefulness.
Such a vile establishment… Vainqueur couldn’t understand why minions would risk wasting their hoard for nothing. Did they not appreciate their gold, the way a dragon did? If so then the Emperor would work tirelessly so quest givers would give him their coins to safeguard.
“Manling Victor,” Vainqueur welcomed his chief of staff, as his servant landed in front of the entrance; two demonic bouncers nodded at them.
His friend had made an effort to dress brighter for the night. “Your Majesty, have you come for my deathbed confession?”
“Pink Ranger informed me of how you feel towards me,” Vainqueur replied. “Which… I understand. Look at me. I am me. Everyone loves me on sight because I am good, smart and wealthy.”
“What is Your Majesty saying?” the poor minion denied his feelings. “I do not understand.”
“Minion, I cannot reciprocate your feelings for me. I know this hurts, but it is true. I owe this honesty instead of stringing you along.”
“What the Happyland are you implying here?” Manling Victor remained in denial.
|Are you sure you want to friendzone: Victor Dalton?|
Yes. It broke Vainqueur's heart, but he had to.
“Minion, while you are my most valuable lackey and friend, but my one true love shall remain my hoard and myself. I am too important to share.”
Charisma check successful! Victor Dalton now suffers from the [Confused] status!
You have successfully friendzoned: Victor Dalton.
“But rejoice, tomorrow we go on an adventure together,” Vainqueur cheered him up. “We will finally clear my name!”
“Yeah… I guess the next hour will suck, but it will be worth my peace of mind afterward.” His chief of staff excused himself, walking into the casino with a heavy heart.
Vainqueur activated his blinkblink ring and peeked at the summit of the casino, where the luxury lounge was located. The place had been emptied of everyone but Chocolatine, the staff, and the minions; Malfy had set a table where Sweet Chocolatine waited, having traded her usual clothes for a cow-leather dress. The Kobold Rangers had already started playing slow music, to put the minions in the mood.
When Malfy guided Manling Victor to the roof, he almost didn’t recognize the werewolf waiting for him. “Choc?”
“Hi, Vic!” She waved happily at him, before frowning at his lack of reaction. “Is something the matter?”
“Aw, I… I never saw you in a dress, that’s all.” He sat at the table, as Malfy handed them the menu. Hidden from Manling Victor, the fiend slipped a detailed script in Chocolatine’s card.
“You know, Vic,” Chocolatine began by reading the script, “It is so nice to have a date without background prejudiced comments.”
“You’ve suffered from discrimination?” Manling Victor frowned.
“Yes, because I am a half-breed,” she kept reading, “I’m half-monster, and half-monster.”
“Uh… I… I didn’t know.”
It hurt to watch, so the dragon decided to coach his minion.
“Psst…” Vainqueur put his head over the roof and whispered to Manling Victor. “Psst… minion…”
His lackey looked in his general direction. “Your Majesty?” he whispered back. “Are you invisible?”
“Show her your hoard…” Vainqueur advised. “Impress her with your hoard… show her your gold… she is poor, she will love it...”
Manling Victor’s face turned red. “Can Your Majesty not watch my execution? This is embarrassing.”
“Yes, yes…” Of course, Vainqueur didn’t stop watching, but he moved his head away to let them talk privately. Malfy the Fiend, who could see the Emperor while invisible, joined him near the edge of the roof to watch.
“She’s opening with the half-breed discrimination feint,” the fiend said, “I’m so proud.”
When Savoureuse and fiend servants arrived to serve the first dishes, Chocolatine had closed the menu; but much to Tasty Malfy’s horror didn’t keep it at her side. In spite of the distance, Vainqueur’s picky ears allowed him to listen still.
“I’m sorry if I’m embarrassing to be around,” Chocolatine said with a sheepish smile, “When I see someone I like I lose my way.”
“You’ve never dated before?” Victor raised an eyebrow.
“Yes, but my brother always cut it short,” she replied with a sigh, “I guess I latched on to you because you were the only one he wouldn’t chase away or eat. Besides your other qualities of course!”
“I’m not good at this either, to be honest,” Victor admitted, “I didn’t have any close relationship back at home, outside of my family.”
Her exchange with Manling Victor clearly wasn’t part of her coach’s plan. “She isn’t following the script,” Malfy muttered to his invisible Emperor. “Why isn’t she following the script?”
“It seems to work anyway,” Vainqueur replied, as Manling Victor’s dreadful expression slowly morphed into kind interest, as he and Chocolatine exchanged childhood tales.
“She is… actually being heartfelt?” Tasty Malfy didn’t understand the scene at all. “Or pulling a double-layer trap? I told her this was too risky.”
Savoureuse slipped towards him with a scowl. “We have a problem. Kia is coming this way from the north.”
“Heaven,” Malfy guessed. “They are trying to screw over my lobbying campaign by sending Kia Bekele to disrupt the closing.”
“I will not allow her to lead my chief of staff astray the way she did with my niece,” Vainqueur replied, stealthily moving away to intercept the paladin.
He didn’t have to fly long. Much to his annoyance, Vainqueur found her riding his niece towards the establishment; Jolie had even taken to wearing armor matching that of Knight Kia over her perfect crimson scales! It took every ounce of his bottomless willpower not to go on a rant at the sight.
“Blink,” Vainqueur declared, revealing himself in his full glory.
“Uncle Vainqueur!” Jolie rejoiced at the sight of him, which was almost enough to ease his anger.
“Miel told me Vic was facing an emergency,” Knight Kia said, seemingly very eager to ruin everything.
“My minion is undergoing a pre-breeding ritual, and considering his poor track record, I shall not suffer interruptions,” Vainqueur said. “It is handled.”
“Pre-breeding? I thought he was the kind of guy to skip straight to the fun part…”
“Kia, do you plan to breed someday?” Jolie asked, making the knight wince. “I can show you my cutest minions!”
“I… thank you, but I will pass—”
“No!” Vainqueur shouted, unable to restrain himself. “You are not keeping Knight Kia as your minion! She is not chief of staff material!”
“Uncle, I take whoever I want as a minion!”
“I am right here, and I take issues with that discussion,” Knight Kia pointed out, but the dragons ignored her. She sighed in disappointment. “Here I hoped for an emergency.”
“Kia, you wanted to fight?” Jolie looked up at her minion.
“I missed a big battle,” Knight Kia complained, disappointed. Manling Victor had given her the fairy bottle for safekeeping so she would hold up. “How is it that I missed a big battle again?”
“Because you are useless, and corrupt the youth,” Vainqueur snarled at the manling, as he glared at his niece.
“Stop being mean to Kia, Uncle! She’s nice and kind!”
Vainqueur couldn’t believe that Jolie would talk back to her uncle. Clearly, he and Genialissime had spoiled her too much. “Jolie, you leave me no choice but to use my parental authority,” he declared. “For letting a manling ride on your back and refusing to listen to your uncle, you are grounded! I am confiscating your minions and all of your elf dolls!”
“What? No!” Jolie’s eyes widened in horror since it was the first time Vainqueur ever punished her. “Uncle, you cannot ground me! I am a hundred and fifty!”
“As long as you share my lair and haven’t reached two hundred, you will do as I say!” It wounded Vainqueur deeply to discipline his niece, but this was for her own good. “So long as you allow Knight Kia to ride on your back, my punishment shall stand!”
Jolie began to cry, breaking Vainqueur’s heart... but he held true in face of her tantrum. When she grew older, she would understand.
“Look, what about we go on a quest?” Knight Kia tried to reassure Jolie. “We’ll go deliver the bottle to Barsino, and we secure the reward.”
“A… reward of gold?” Jolie’s head perked up.
“You better have a bigger hoard to show for that bottle when I return from my own,” Vainqueur grumbled, “I will allow you to finish that quest, but afterward Jolie, you shall not go out unless you see reason.”
“Is it wise to trust Mot’s map though, considering its source?” Knight Kia pointed out.
“My chief of staff saw that any negative effects of this fairy’s meddling were erased,” Vainqueur replied. “The map remained behind.”
“So the information inside is truthful?” Knight Kia frowned. “Very thoughtful.”
Of course. Vainqueur had started with sixty-four points in intelligence. Figuring this out was mere child’s play to him.
Kia convinced Jolie to stop crying and go on to deliver the Bottle of Mot back to the quest giver, with Vainqueur hoping this experience would teach his niece the value of upholding the food chain.
He returned to the casino under an invisibility veil to observe the ritual, and the results were decidedly mixed.
Manling Victor and Sweet Chocolatine exchanged words, in between consuming a marvelous buffet of sheeps, demon tomatoes, fishes, and solidified cow milk. The discussion grew slightly livelier over time, and Manling Victor even laughed at one point.
In the end, after they finished the meal, Manling Victor accompanied Chocolatine outside the casino, under the silent stares of the other minions present. As they reached the main entrance, they waved hands at each other and separated.
“So?” Vainqueur whispered to his minion, as Chocolatine left to return home.
“Well, we agreed to have a second date where everybody is not watching us. But it was nice. Nicer than I expected.”
While his minion clearly wouldn’t reproduce anytime soon, the mating ritual would continue. Vainqueur considered it a success.
Congratulations! For sparking some shade of interest between two monsters, you have gained a level in [Dungeon Breeder]! You earned the [Monster Empathy] Class Perk!
+30 HP, +1 STR, +1 SKI, +1 CHA.
[Monster Empathy]: you can make a Charisma Check to improve the attitude of monsters toward you, making them friendlier. This ability works even on wild monsters such as Beast types. Monsters who hate you for a personal reason or mindless automatons such as golems will ignore the Perk.
“Pack your belongings, we go on the hunt at dawn.”
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Bio: I'm a European warlock living in the distant realm known as France, spending half my time writing and the other half managing magical websites. I post Magik Online on my main website and RR both on Wednesday, and Vainqueur the Dragon twice to thrice weekly.