Riding a dragon across the ocean was awesome.
“Is master liking Gorynych’s back?” the zmey asked, eager to please like a good dog. Vainqueur led the group, while Kia flew on her own griffin nearby.
“It’s a bit rocky, but I will get used to it,” Victor replied. In retrospect, his [Monster Rider] perk synergized extremely well with his [Chaos Rider] and [Weathermaker] classes. “I just wish you didn’t bring rain everywhere though.”
The zmey couldn’t help but summon rain around him, making the trip very uncomfortable. At best, he managed to make it a faint drizzle instead of a heavy downpour. It bothered Victor as much as Sigrun’s ghost glaring at him in silence.
“Gorynych can change it to [Hailstorm] or [Thunderstorm] if master wishes it!”
“Minion, do not enjoy this!” Vainqueur complained. “To ride on the back of a dragon is contrary to the spirit of minionship!”
The zmey tilted his three heads in giddiness. “Big V recognized Gorynych as a dragon!”
“An inbred, poor excuse of a dragon!” Vainqueur loudly complained, while doing his best to ignore Victor’s mount. “Minion, I am sure his mother and his sister are the same!”
“My mother is my sister’s niece!” Gorynych defended himself.
“Hey, guys, is that normal?” Kia glanced at the waters below them. The sea had suddenly turned from blue to orange, the corpses of dead fish floating on the surface. The very smell had changed from algae to that of a cocktail bar.
“It looks like alcohol to me,” Victor said as he glanced down. Having seen much weirder things in Outremonde, it wouldn’t surprise him.
“Who cares?” Vainqueur replied, catching sight of an island in the middle of that strange sea. “I see our destination!”
Floating in the middle of that strange orange sea, the new island that would become the final battleground between Vainqueur and Furibon was small; smaller than Grandrake’s own private resort. Covered in green grass, it would have seemed almost unremarkable except for its location.
However, Victor noticed hundreds of head-like statues lined up on the shore.
It appeared that they had found Outremonde’s version of Easter Island.
The group landed on the shore while the sun began to set. “So, what do we do now?” Victor asked, climbing down from his zmey’s back. “We train for cards?”
“Now, I rest,” Vainqueur said, falling on the sand. “I burned tons of fat to reach this place.”
“Me too!” Gorynych rolled in the sand, laying on his back right next to Vainqueur. The bigger dragon instantly crawled farther, turning his back on the happy zmey with snobbish zeal. Kia simply let her griffin go hunt the dead fish in the orange sea, following Victor on foot as they approached the head statues.
They all represented the same guy: Victor himself.
Everywhere, he could see dozens and dozens, maybe hundreds, of statues with his face, each wearing a different hat.
Only one statue, in the middle of the main line, differed from the rest. Instead of a head, it represented a muscled, idealized version of Victor carrying the giant god Dice on his back. The scene reminded the Vizier of statues of the titan Atlas lifting the world on his shoulders.
The builders had engraved a sentence on that statue’s pedestal.
"The rolling of the Dice."
“Wow, the resemblance is astonishing,” Kia said, completely oblivious to the statue’s true nature. “What a coincidence.”
“Indeed,” Victor deadpanned, realizing that they had landed on his island.
The Island… of Daltonia.
Or maybe Dicetopia? Since they were the first people to set foot on the island, Victor could give an amusing name.
“I BLEEPed up!”
… or maybe not the first.
Kia and Victor turned to the shore, noticing a strange mermaid sitting nearby while drinking away her sorrows. Unlike most members of her kind, she had a squid’s tentacles for her lower body instead of a fishtail, and held a bottle with each of them; the upper part reminded the Vizier of a Japanese yakuza, with all the tattoos on her skin and only a bra for modesty.
“Are you okay?” Victor approached her, worried. She looked completely depressed.
“I screwed up!” The mermaid complained, completely drunk. “I screwed it up!”
“You too?” Victor asked, curious. “How?”
“I, I turned the sea into whiskey!”
“Whiskey?” Kia immediately moved to the sea to investigate.
Victor, meanwhile, comforted the mermaid by patting her on the back and sitting next to her. “Hey, it’s fine. I mean, I destroyed Heaven, which is way worse.” Thankfully, Kia was too far away to listen.
The mermaid handed him a bottle with one of her eight tentacles. “Do you want a drink to forget too?”
“Guys, it’s really whiskey!” Kia shouted, having somehow summoned a bottle to gather as much of the precious liquid as she could.
“That would explain all the dead fish,” Victor noted out loud, sipping his drink.
“Yeah, I figure a whiskey sea sounds fun for us… but for the aquatic wildlife? It must be a very hostile environment.”
“I shouldn’t have!” the drunk mermaid kept ranting to Victor, having adopted him as her talking board, “I’m Seng! Goddess of the sea, dreams, adventure, and alcoholism! I shouldn’t have killed all these fishes!”
Just in case, the Vizier checked up on her with [Monster Insight].
Screwup Deity (Aquatic/Divine!)
Strengths and weaknesses: aim for the liver.
*Sounds of crying*
“How can you become a god of alcoholism?” Victor frowned.
“[Drunken Brawler] class,” she said, raising each tentacle. “With eight melee attacks.”
“Vic, please don’t encourage the drunk mermaid’s delusions,” Kia said absentmindedly, as she joined them.
The mermaid spat out her own alcohol. “Delusions?”
“Kia, that’s the actual goddess,” Victor pointed out.
The knight smiled at him as if he had said a particularly stupid joke. “Vic, honestly... does that shipwreck look like a goddess to you?”
The mermaid instantly began crying.
“I didn’t say that to be mean,” the [Paladin] tried to comfort the siren. “It’s just I have met three actual gods, and they looked much better.”
“You!” Seng crawled to Victor, “You know the truth! Defend me from this unbeliever!”
The Vizier opened his mouth until the situation dawned on him.
He was facing a red-drunk mermaid with a maddened look in her eyes, carrying bottles with each appendage, and who somehow turned the sea into whiskey.
“W-why are you looking at me like that?”
… yes, that thing was a goddess.
“Unfortunately, she really is the goddess Seng.”
“See, see!” Seng gloated to Kia, completely missing the unfortunately part.
“Look, I heard the rumors, Victor is very biased when it comes to pretty women,” the knight replied, the Vizier glaring at her. “It’s true! And telling that drunkard that she is the goddess Seng is blasphemous towards the real one!”
“S-screw you, paladin, I’m going back to my underwater palace!” The mermaid goddess fled to the sea, spewing insults and tears in equal measure. “I’ll show you! One day, I’ll show you, and sink your entire BLEEPing country!”
Seng vanished into the whiskey waters, while the Vizier silently sipped his drink.
Did it never occur to her that she could simply claim him or Kia and prove her divinity?
His eyes moved to his drink. How strange. It tasted like a very, very strong vodka, the kind that should have made him roll over… yet he felt perfectly fine. He finished the whole bottle, forcing himself to ignore the disgusting taste, and waited.
“I have gained resistance to recreational drugs,” Victor realized, crestfallen. “Including alcohol.”
“So?” Kia asked.
“So I can’t get drunk anymore.” Even a goddess’ alcohol wasn’t enough.
“You can always drink it for the taste,” the [Paladin] replied with smugness, consuming her own bottle with delight.
“Nobody drinks whiskey for the taste!” Victor replied. “Alcohol tastes like shit, and we only pretend it doesn’t because we won't admit that we only want to get drunk!”
This day couldn’t get any worse.
A portal in space opened right next to them, the Vizier glancing at it. He expected Malfy to step out, his new armor ready.
But it wasn’t a fiend.
“You two-timing little pile of horseshit!” Victor’s nightmare horse, Noirceur, glared at her rider, the rift closing behind her. “How dare you? How dare you dump me for a zmey!”
“Somebody called Gorynych?” The zmey immediately ran to the shore, throwing sand on everyone. “Is that a treat for Gorynych?”
“You… you… after everything I’ve done for you!” If looks could kill—and Akhenapep’s did—Noirceur would have murdered her rider a thousand times. “You rider of loose morality!”
“How did you—”
“How did I know that you dumped me? I’m a horse! I sense these kinds of things!”
“You didn’t even like me!” Victor complained, Kia looking at the scene as if he had gone insane.
“I’m your horse! I’m not supposed to like my riders to do my equine duty!” Noirceur glared at Gorynych. “What does he have that I don’t? Wings? I’m a horse, I can’t have wings!”
“Master likes me because I’m pretty!” the zmey replied with his three heads.
“Vic, are you having a conversation with your horse?” Kia asked, worried for his mental health.
“It’s a Perk,” Victor shrugged. “She is jealous that I cannot mark her as a mount all the time.”
“You can’t? Don’t you have a riding class of some kind?”
“I have. [Chaos Rider].”
“What’s the problem then?” she asked, before frowning, “Wait, how many levels do you have in it?”
“Two.” Victor frowned. “You know that class, Kia?”
“One of Balaur’s elite servants, the Green Knight, had that class and promoted it into [Horseman of Death]. He was a horribly persistent hunter of heroes, until Kevin and I put him down.” Kia shrugged. “From what I know of the class, you can increase the number of mounts as you level up in it. You should be able to create a stable of monsters and train them.”
“How many mounts could I have?” Victor asked.
“The Green Knight used at least five of them. Usually, he exhausted one to death hunting crusaders, and then switched for another.”
“Can Gorynych get levels too?” the zmey asked, wagging his tail. “Can Gorynych hump another Gorynych?”
Victor crossed his arms. “Thing is, I thought I should focus more on magic-oriented classes, increase my Tier access.”
“About that…” His fellow hero glared at him. “You don’t know [Hasten], Vic! How can you? It’s a spell tax everyone pays, and it’s only Tier III!”
“Give me a break, my curriculum mostly focused on necromancy and summoning,” Victor defended Scholomance. “Can [Hasten] cheat death, huh? Can it?”
“Maybe you wouldn’t have died in the first place if you could cast it,” the [Paladin] replied. “Vic, even if your build focuses on summoning allies, you should definitely get better at direct combat. You would shine as a magic knight hybrid.”
“So you suggest what? That I take a level in a hybrid class?”
“I think you have all the tools to excel in a fight, but you don’t exploit the synergies between your various classes the way I or even Vainqueur do. That’s why we have [Class Scholars] to help us milk our abilities for all they are worth. I can help you master your abilities.”
“You will max out this [Chaos Rider] class so we can get back together,” the horse declared with jealousy. “I can tolerate you fooling around with another mount on the side, but nobody dumps a Nightmare!”
“And where am I supposed to level up?” Victor replied. “By beating Furibon at cards?”
Kia opened her mouth to say something, then stopped. Her eyes became obsessed by something right behind Victor.
The Vizier turned around, to find himself facing a group of dodos.
As in, the actual, extinct dodo bird. They looked oddly cute from up close, like one-meter tall mutant pigeons with colorful feathers. They showed completely no fear, just animal curiosity at newcomers.
“Vic.” Kia couldn’t believe her eyes. “Do you see what I see?”
“Dodos?” Victor asked, unimpressed.
“They’re [Exp Dodos]!” Kia looked at the peaceful creatures with raw desire. “I thought adventurers hunted them to extinction! Do you know how much experience points they are worth? And I’m not talking about the loot that they leave behind!”
Natural twenty indeed.
“Can Gorynych take their feathers?” the zmey asked, the poor birds not fleeing as they should. Apparently, having been summoned to this world, they had never met a predator. “Gorynych wants feathers.”
“This must be a gift from Mithras,” Kia said, readying her sword. “It’s just too much. This can’t be a coincidence.”
“Wait,” Victor said, looking at these huge, peaceful pigeons. “Are you suggesting we exterminate the Dodo species again?”
Kia opened her mouth, closed it, and then sulked.
“On the other hand…” Victor considered the practicality of it. “We are going to fight fomors soon. We need all the levels we can get, and if they really give as much exp as you say… maybe we should. For the greater good.”
“Vic, you sound like a shoulder devil and you aren’t even doing it on purpose.”
“I mean, if it’s not us, it will be other explorers,” Victor said, trying to convince himself. “What is the worth of a bird’s life, compared to the countless children of Murmurin? I… I have to think about my country’s future.”
“Yes, murder them, level up in [Chaos Rider], and then take me back,” the nightmare horse encouraged her rider. “Nobody will ever know! Do it!”
Victor realized that Vainqueur had woken up, his head raised above the dodo flock.
“I listened to your conversation, and I heard a very beautiful word,” the wyrm said, glancing at the bird. “Loot.”
The poor birds looked at the hungry Vainqueur, with the eyes of someone facing their entire race’s extinction.
|Status of [Exp Dodos] of [Daltonia]: Endangered!|
The sight of the message caused Victor’s conscience to awaken. He had brought these adorable, suicidal birds into existence; he couldn’t exterminate them.
“Your Majesty, this would be wasteful!” Victor told Vainqueur before he could roast the poor animals where they stood. “If we kill them all, there won’t be any more [Exp Dodos] in the world!
|Charisma check successful!|
“Once again, my Vizier, your forward-thinking astounds me,” Vainqueur said. “I now understand the meaning of gold farming.”
The dragon suddenly grabbed two dodos with both hands, the other birds finally getting the memo and running away.
“I am going to breed them into a self-renewing loot source!”
… somehow, Victor wondered if that solution wasn’t even worse than the genocide option.
Vainqueur rubbed the two birds against the others, in a way that reminded his Vizier of a Neanderthal trying to make fire with silex stones. The dragon managed to send feathers flying everywhere but seemed increasingly annoyed by the lack of results.
It suddenly occurred to Victor that Vainqueur’s knowledge of other species’ reproduction may be… lacking.
“Yes, Your Majesty?”
“Fetch me a slime. I am going to… experiment.”