With his head held fashionably high, so all could see his crown shine under the sun, Vainqueur paraded through the streets of his capital like a lion among sheeps. His kobold minions formed two columns at his sides, driving a wedge through the thousands of monsters singing his name.
“Vainqueur! Vainqueur! Vainqueur!”
As a good emperor, Vainqueur smugly pretended not to hear them.
Secretly though, he relished the attention. After spending so long holed up in his vault, hunting down his foes, and practicing wizardry, it was good to be reminded of how important and loved he was.
Once they reached the central square, Vainqueur sat in the middle of the area, the Kobold Rangers ordering his other minions to create a circle around him. A crowd of gnolls, goblins, fiends, trolls, undead, and countless new creatures had gathered to see him. Ghoul minstrels played drums and kobolds trumpets.
“Oyé, brave minions and citizens of the V&V Empire,” Pink Ranger announced. “Bow before our great and beloved ruler, His Majesty Vainqueur Knightsbane, First of His Name, Great Calamity of the Age, Defender of the Hoard, Emperor of Murmurin, Ishfania, and the Albain Mountains, Greatest Gladiator in the World!”
His subjects all prostrated themselves before his Majesty, and Vainqueur basked in their adoration.
“Exceptionally, His Majesty will personally hold court before you, listen to the complaints of his citizens, and deliver justice onto the wicked!” Pink Ranger continued, while Black Ranger approached with a pile of scrolls, so she may write down this glorious day in the registry. “His Majesty will begin with great news!”
As his Vizier had asked, Vainqueur would show himself to the population of his new empire, and bless them with his enlightened dragon leadership. His greatest minion was occupied questioning Croissant the Useless in the castle, who had apparently turned into a traitor. How could he after Vainqueur treated him like a beloved minion, the dragon would never understand. How ungrateful. He had even made his sister, the Sweet Chocolatine, cry.
Vainqueur had welcomed the opportunity to change his mind after his magical training turned out to be tedious and boring. He had done everything needed to train as a spellcaster; even briefly switched his crown for a wizard hat, and uprooting an olive tree to make a wand. He had tirelessly practiced his magic on summoned demon dummies, trying to make magical weeds grow beneath them.
Nothing had worked.
Vainqueur had lost count of how many times he cast ‘Weedgardium Leviosa’ or ‘Bogus Botanicus’ on the farm soil with nothing to show for it.
Magic was hard!
Thankfully, being amazing was easier. “Yes, I, Vainqueur Knightsbane, greatest adventurer in the world, has great news for you!” the dragon addressed the crowd. “To celebrate my perfect, flawless victory in my latest quest, and my ascension to [Augustus], I hereby order the creation of a great gladiator arena!”
His declaration was welcomed with howls of adoration.
“A great arena, where you will see me and my glittering minions eat our enemies while you cheer me!” Vainqueur continued. “A great ring where blood and gold will fall like rain! Where any minion can show his worth in front of a daring audience! A Colosseum with unique attractions, like rising water, fire, and sparkles!”
It would be like the arena where he fought grasshopper Maure for the first time, but better! Dragonly!
“And to inaugurate it, I announce a great minion tournament for the summer solstice! My lackeys will showcase their might for all to see! Once and for all, we shall determine who is the strongest minion of them all!”
The ambiance turned electrical, as lightning slimes let out thunder strikes at his announcement. None were more excited than Vainqueur’s own soldiers, from Red Ranger to Barnabas the Troll.
This would be the perfect opportunity for his minions to level up and prepare for the inevitable war with Furibon. He would show off his power and increase it! Win-win!
The crowd clapped and whistled in enthusiasm, Vainqueur basking in the sound.
|The bloodthirsty love of your people has filled you with energy! You will recover SP twice faster today!|
Vainqueur raised a hand and acclaims dying down. After the fun, time to dirty his claws and govern.
"As you have no doubt been informed, the V&V Empire now has an official currency.” Blue the Koblood took steps in front of Vainqueur, raising a beautiful golden paper note. “The Vainqueur Dollar, with my face on it!"
And Manling Victor's own on the back.
"This currency will be the only one allowed in the borders of my empire,” Vainqueur explained, as Blue presented variations of the dollar, such as the lesser silver version. “Your coins will no longer be accepted by my minions, even if you use the under the table manling ritual of bribery. Your gold will be safeguarded and exchanged against Vainqueur Dollars at a fair, advantageous rate."
Advantageous for Vainqueur of course. Generosity began with oneself.
Unlike the ovation he received after the arena project, his lackeys exchanged worried whispers. As he had expected, Manling Victor’s idea was a bit too radical for most of them; and who could blame them? One could feel the texture and warmth of gold coins, while paper was cold and soulless.
But a true dragon argued their case to the bitter end.
"I understand your wariness, and so, I will ask you a question," Vainqueur asked, raising his arms to expose his chest. "Do you see me carrying my hoard with me?"
Obviously, no one objected, and so the dragon continued. "Yet, once I did! It was so comforting, to carry my shinies with me. I thought myself invulnerable, underestimating the evilness of paupers lusting for my gold. And then… I faced the cruel Furibon, on this very mountain!"
The dragon waved a hand at the volcano in a dramatic gesture.
"My hoard…" Vainqueur's voice broke at the memory. "My hoard… was poisoned to death. I saw it die before my eyes."
|Charisma check successful. The crowd is feeling your pain and grief.|
As they should. The memory of this ghastly atrocity brought Pink Ranger to tears, while her teammates lowered their heads in shame.
Never forget. Never forgive.
"None should feel the pain of outliving their hoard," Vainqueur declared, his grief turning to resolute determination. "Ever since, I have stashed my gold in the most secure place known to dragonkind: my lair! A vault protected by the strongest of minions! A place which none of my foes could breach!"
Carried by emotion, Vainqueur raised his voice and went on to do the best speech of his Emperor career.
"Are you ready to live in fear, carrying your gold in your purse for thieves to take, or stashing it in your backyard for a lich to poison? Or will you sleep well, knowing you hide it in the safest place in the world? That you have put your hoard next to mine, where none will dare touch it, while you safely carry Vainqueur Dollars? Remember: I am the richest dragon in the world! If I do something, then it is right! How do you expect to become almost as wealthy as I, if you do not follow my example? Safety is the greatest tribute one can pay to protect their hoard!"
Vainqueur pumped his claws into a fist and raised it toward the sun.
"Protect your gold… with Vainqueur Dollars!"
|Charisma check successful! It’s a critical!|
The shouts were deafening.
His undead minions moved stashes of Vainqueur Dollars, with the common people almost warring between one another to exchange their gold for them; knowing that they would be safe in the castle’s vaults. “Vainqueur!” his name was shouted. “Vainqueur! Vainqueur!”
Congratulations! For your inspiring speech, extreme charisma, and popularity with the common folk, you have earned the [El Presidente] Personal Perk!
[El Presidente]: You gain a +10 Charisma Bonus when addressing large crowds with speeches or drunken rants.
Governing was such fun! Why didn’t he think about it doing it centuries ago?
“I shall now listen to your puny complaints, and answer them with the wisdom dragonkind is known for,” Vainqueur declared. “Bring me the first complainers!”
“Show us your royal tickets!” Red the Kobold ordered, sorting out the citizens. The first two were a gnoll, and a ghoul; the latter carried a green slime with him.
“Before my judgment, each of you shall kiss my ring.” Vainqueur presented his hand and blinkblink. “For I am your Emperor, and I am wealthy.”
Both did as he asked, and the dragon allowed the peons to expose their problem. “Your Majesty, this ghoul and I share the same house,” the gnoll said, “We both adopted a slime, but when I returned home, his was gone, and he pretended mine was his!”
“Liar!” the ghoul protested. “Your Majesty, this living is a jealous racist trying to deprive me of my beloved pet, after he lost his!”
“This is a difficult case,” Vainqueur said. “Are there witnesses?”
When both shook their heads, the dragon reached a decision. “Ranger Red, bring me the jelly.”
So did the kobold, raising the slime before the Emperor. The big, fatty creature watched Vainqueur back with huge eyes.
“While greed is the greatest of virtues, each of you will learn that one can gain without taking,” the dragon raised his claw. “The slime shall be cut in half.”
And with a swipe of his claw, he did so. Within the blink of an eye, Kobold Red now carried two smaller jellies, each in one hand.
|You have successfully divided one Mature Green Jelly into two Young Green Jellies!|
“Each of you shall now have their slime, and cherish it as they would their gold,” Vainqueur ordered, each of the citizens getting their pet. “I shall tolerate no discrimination among my citizens, for you are all equally below me.”
“The Emperor has spoken!” Pink Ranger said, having wiped away her tears. “Bring the next citizen!”
A cadre of undead guards brought him the two new claimants: a dirty-looking werewolf, and a walking cactus wearing a scarf and a straw hat.
“The Emperor shall settle the matter of Farmer Greenspike versus Pierre the Wolf,” Pink Ranger announced after both kissed Vainqueur’s ring. “You may now expose your problem to imperial justice.”
“Your Majesty, I found this werewolf preying on my sheep flock yesterday,” the cactus said. “I called the guards for help, and he confessed his crime. Most of these sheeps were destined to become part of the food tribute I owe to Your Majesty.”
“I confess my crime,” the werewolf replied, “But I only stole these sheep to feed my family—”
Vainqueur glared at the heartless thief. “I decreed that those who would not say ‘sheeps’ will be sheep! This is your first offense. Your second was your horrible, horrible crime; to steal a sheep from me is like stealing my gold!”
“But Your Majesty—” the villain protested, but the dragon did not let him finish.
“You will start with helpless cattle and then escalate to murdering baby coins! Guilty! However, you shall be allowed to feed your family.” Vainqueur turned to the guards. “Send him to Rolo, so that he may replace the sheeps he stole.”
“No, please!” the werewolf panicked, as the guards moved to seize him, “Please don’t turn me into a sheep!”
“Do you not wish to feed your family?” Vainqueur asked him, “By becoming a sheep yourself, certainly your pups will be well-fed.”
“I am a family of one!” the werewolf admitted to his lie, as the dragon had known all along; he had tricked him into revealing himself.
Vainqueur was many things, but a savage was not one of them.
“Then you have lied to your Emperor, making you a forsworn and a thief,” the dragon said, “You are unfit to be food, so you will be sent to work in the mines. Take him away!”
The guards dragged the screaming werewolf out of Vainqueur’s sight, the farmer bowing before following. “Your Majesty tricked him into revealing his lie so easily...” Pink Ranger muttered in admiration.
Of course he did. He had heard almost every thieving excuse under the sun from those foolish enough to try stealing from his hoard. The dragon took no pleasure in the decision, but it had to be done.
A ruler could be merciful, but he also had to show a strong hand to a crime against his belly.
“Farmers are the ones keeping your Emperor fed with their tribute of meat,” Vainqueur decided to explain the way things were to the population. “You shall honor farmers, the way you do your parents. This shall be henceforth known as my fourth commandment. The fifth shall be, do not steal, for there is no greater crime than thieving from one’s hoard.”
Pink Ranger scribbled the orders on paper, so that she may update the laws of the realm accordingly. Vainqueur cleared his throat to order the next one to come forth, but a shout interrupted him.
The word was said with such a strident voice, that it echoed through the square. Vainqueur’s eyes squared firmly on the cause, one of the demonic lawyers who defended his rightful case against Mot the Fomor. He and a cadre of fiends pushed away the crowd, trying to get past the guards and approach the Emperor.
“Get in line with your ticket, like the others!” Red Ranger replied, unimpressed.
“Your Majesty, Malfy has been poisoned!” the fiend ignored the ranger. “He’s on his deathbed!”
Vainqueur’s head perked up. There could only be one culprit. “It is the work of Furibon, who is evil and at work among us! We shall stop him henceforth!”
But the fiend did not listen to his wisdom, blaming someone else.
“No, Your Majesty, it’s the angel! She poisoned Malfy with holy water!”