Wait, hadn’t the dragon’s last nap lasted fifty years?
“Your Majesty!” Victor panicked, shouting into the wyrm’s ear. “Your Majesty!”
“What, minion?” Vainqueur grumbled while waking up.
The Vizier breathed in relief. “Oh thank the gods, you weren’t going to sleep for decades!”
“I was taking a power nap,” Vainqueur replied, stretching his neck. “Also, do not thank your paltry gods. Thank me.”
“Thank Your Majesty for his kindness.” Victor meant for it to come across as sarcasm, but couldn’t help but crack a genuine smile. After so long putting up with Vainqueur’s insane ego, he had grown somewhat amused by it.
“Now, minion, why did you wake me up early? Are the fairies attacking? Have the dodos gone extinct again?”
“Not yet,” the Vizier replied, although he heard disturbing news about a high rate of ‘unexplained’ mutation in the Dodocare. Goblina had also informed him of an abnormal rate of cancer in the Teikoku Empire after their last battle there. “I need to talk to Your Majesty. I need advice, and… well, you’re my friend and the one I trust the most.”
“Of course I am.” The wyrm observed him in silence for a moment, before making a decision. “We will go to the roof.”
“That, and to watch the fireworks in my honor.” The dragon marked a short pause. “Because there are fireworks in my honor, am I right?”
Victor knew his dragon all too well.
This should be a joyous day. She had made the best sweets in the city and even brought her Red Riding Hood costume out of storage.
Yet Chocolatine de Gevaudan didn’t feel happy at all.
Everybody enjoyed themselves outside, knocking on doors asking for sweets; the werewolf had done the same in the previous Samhain, although there was much less diversity back then. But she wasn’t in the mood to participate.
“I’m sorry, Al,” Chocolatine said, stepping away from her home’s windows to sit around her dinner table, “I think I’m staying home tonight.”
“It’s fine.” Her friend, who wore a black cloak and fake vampire fangs, tried to comfort her. The dryad had planned to disguise herself as a mummy, but dropped it after it reminded her of the fiasco with that nasty Akhenapep. “I will stay with you. We can even play the new Boards & Conquests game I bought.”
“The one with the trolls and werebeasts nations?”
“Thanks,” Chocolatine replied, reviewing the pie and sweets that she had cooked for tonight. She had prepared a few for her brother and Savoureuse, intending to visit them tomorrow on the Moooooon.
“We can use a spell if you do not want them,” Allison said suddenly. “Personally, if I were in your situation, I would cast it.”
“I don’t know, Al,” Chocolatine replied. She did intend to have children one day, and had even fantasized about Vic impregnating her. But not now, not even in years.
Chocolatine knew a few people thought her crazy for her eccentricities. But she knew she would be a good mom if she wanted to! She would show her kids how to hunt demons for sustenance, and all the skills needed to survive in the wild! Vic wouldn’t bail out on her, so she could raise them with him too!
But Chocolatine was still young and cute. She could do without the eight months and all the hassle that would follow afterward.
She simply couldn’t make a decision yet.
Someone knocked on the door, probably her first visitor. “Coming!” Chocolatine welcomed the distraction, moving to open the door.
The creature at the threshold was a tall, willowy humanoid as thin as a noodle. His body was that of a wooden scarecrow, except for a pumpkin head lit by unnatural flames. The figure wore a cloak on his back, a peasant hat on his head, and a blue lantern around his belt. He smelled of forests, ashes, and sweets.
“Trick,” the monster extended a hissing bag full of screaming faces, “or treat?”
“Sure, I have cake!” Chocolatine smiled, giving a slice of pie to the visitor. “Here, I hope you like it.”
The strange creature looked at the piece, took it in one hand, and tasted a bite. “So sweet,” he said before swallowing the slice whole. “Jack O’Lantern thanks you.”
“Are you new?” Chocolatine asked with a smile. “I don’t think we’ve met!”
“Jack only goes out once a year on Samhain. Jack doesn’t like mortals, but he loves the taste of their sweets. Jack will return next year for a full cake.”
“You can eat it with us now,” Chocolatine replied kindly. “I love having new friends for dinner, and the cat is still in the oven.”
“Jack allowed in?” the creature sounded surprised as if it was the first time someone ever invited him for dinner.
“Sure. You don’t mind ghouls and vampires? My friends, Jules and Charlene will be joining us, but they’re very nice.” Rolo had declined, still too busy with farming.
“It is fine. Jack loves the taste of manlings too.”
“Then you will get along perfectly! Just don’t ask Charlene about book recommendations.”
Kia looked at the moon rocket with great satisfaction.
More specifically, at Orknoob being forced to board it at crossbow point by Kobolds. Buzz Jelly followed them, looking at the rocket with a mix of awe and nostalgia.
“Today,” she began addressing a crowd of monsters and Isekai followers that came to witness the launch, “we are gathered to celebrate the departure of Orknoob, Founder of the Esoteric Order of the Isekai, as he was 'persuaded' to leave the planet forever.”
“Yeah!” one of the Isekai worshipers acclaimed. “Time to bring the word of Japan to the stars!”
“Go get the green-skinned waifus!”
Executing him might have made him a martyr, and no attempt to expose his shady ways had worked. It was strange; the more proof they gave that Orknoob was a scam, the more his followers believed in him.
So instead, they would make this pest go away.
“Just so we can confirm,” Kia asked the dwarf engineer overseeing the launch, having insisted on giving the order herself. “You will send him to a planet at the frontier of our solar system?”
“Yes, as far as the rocket can carry him. Which is the safest, most tested rocket we have ever designed.”
“And he has no way of coming back?”
“I will return!” Orknoob shouted in response. “I will gather a harem of alien waifus, and then build an army—”
Buzz Jelly leaped forward and hit the orc in the face. “Board!” it ordered while bouncing back. “Get sword rocket!”
“Get sword! For country!”
The wounded scammer looked ready to argue, but the tiny slime intimidated him into silence. Orknoob climbed into the rocket, the metal door closing behind him.
“I love how even our prophet needs coaching sometimes,” an orc said. “This reminds me of the time Oji had doubts about letting the carriage run him over.”
“Yeah, everyone has doubts about going to Japan. He’s showing us that it’s okay.”
Kia kept her mouth shut, rejoicing at finally being rid of this idiocy. These cultists had harassed her about her ‘Isekai levels’ since she had first arrived in Outremonde; with Orknoob off the planet, she hoped that this scam religion would die out in a few generations.
Or maybe that was wishful thinking, but hope kept her alive. Even her patron Mithras hadn’t managed to lift her curse yet, and she needed whatever pleasure she could find.
“Three…” Kia counted down, with a happy smile. “Two, one… ZERO!”
With a catastrophic sound, the rocket flew upward, blowing dust everywhere. Kia put a hand on her visage to protect herself from the smoke, everyone watching the carrier go up and up. Buzz Jelly, in particular, looked mesmerized by the spectacle.
The rocket reached the clouds, ready to pierce them and continue its path beyond the atmosphere. Kia breathed in relief, finally freed from that odious annoy—
The rocket exploded into a thousand pieces in the middle of the ascent.
The [Paladin] froze in shocked silence, as she watched the debris go down in flames around the launch site. “Sabotage!” Buzz Jelly shouted. “Sword broken!”
“Invisible fairy bourgeois sabotaged the rocket!” shouted the dwarf engineer, but the crowd wasn’t panicking nor rioting.
In fact, Murmurin’s citizens looked more curious than anything. “Do you think we can go to Japan by getting blown up by rockets?” one orc asked another.
“I’m not sure… we should try and check.”
Kia looked at the smoke above her, and while she knew she should have felt somewhat regretful, Orknoob's sudden death made her happier. It wasn't very [Paladin], but after being forced to drink saltwater for the rest of her life and agreeing to fight a new Century War, she deserved it.
"I need a hobby," she told herself, once the dopamine wore off.
Maybe she should try Monster Poker?
While sitting atop his castle’s highest tower, his minion resting on his back next to him, Vainqueur observed his city at night. As usual, at this time of the year, Samhain had caused spirits to act up; ghosts swirled in the skies; flocks of bats gathered around buildings; werewolves, vampires, and other creatures paraded in the streets.
It felt like a lifetime ago when this place was nothing but a dirty farm.
“We are late!” Vainqueur complained as they watched a rocket explode above the ground.
“No, that’s just a test run,” Manling Victor said, although he sounded unbelievably pleased with himself. “Very nice view though.”
“It did not spray the sky with colors,” Vainqueur pointed out. “I want to turn all this black into gold and red.”
“Just five more minutes, Your Majesty.”
Vainqueur grumbled impatiently, as he realized that he could have napped longer. “What did you want to tell me, Manling Victor?”
“That I am going to have kids.”
The dragon instantly turned his head away from the rocket and towards his chief of staff. “About time!” Vainqueur rejoiced. “Minion, at this rate, I thought I would have to breed you myself at breathpoint!”
“I am thankful that Your Majesty trusted me to do it on my own.”
“How many?” the dragon asked for more details. “You did not breed with Knight Kia, I hope? You are too good for her.”
“No, I didn’t breed with her,” Manling Victor replied, before adding with surprising concern. “But I apparently have at least sixteen babies coming.”
Sixteen? “That is all?”
His minion didn’t understand. “That is all?”
“You must make more,” Vainqueur ordered his prized lackey. “We are at war, minion. My army needs at least three hundred more quality minions. Get back to work.”
“Your Majesty, I…” his minion struggled to find his next words, “I’m not comfortable with these ones, let alone having more.”
“Why so?” Vainqueur asked, puzzled. Was not breeding his second reason for existing, after being the dragon’s chief of staff? Then why did he sound so… vulnerable?
“I don’t think I’m cut out to be a father,” Manling Victor explained.
“Minion, I somewhat understand that this may feel a daunting task considering your obligations to me. While many wealthy wyrms have tried to court me, I was never interested in having spawns myself. They are a bottomless money-sink. But you are my Grand Vizier, your brood will always be properly cared for.”
As in, they would always get food and a minion job.
“I’ve got assets, connections, and plenty of magic,” Manling Victor replied. “While Your Majesty only allows me to keep one one-tenth of what I earn, I know I can provide for them. But I don’t want to be just a breathing purse, yet...”
“Friend Victor,” Vainqueur interrupted him. “How do you feel about this?”
His Vizier remained silent, trying to figure himself out.
“I’m afraid,” Manling Victor admitted. “I’m afraid because I know myself. I’m no father of the year material. I am bi-neutral, always on the move, and completely unable to stay faithful to one woman. It’s like getting a job I know I’m unsuited for, but that I must do anyway! I’m afraid because I never planned for this, and it fell on my lap without warning!”
Vainqueur turned away from his friend and pointed at Murmurin. “Minion, look at this. Look at this place that we made.”
His minion did so, although his master’s point escaped him.
“Now, do you remember why I came here in the first place?” Vainqueur asked.
“Your Majesty wanted a bigger cave to stash his gold.”
“Exactly. I never planned to rule an empire on which the sun never sets, but here it is. None of this was intended, but I have grown to love ruling this beautiful minion utopia all the same.”
“Your Majesty implies that I will grow to love my children, even if I never planned to have them?”
“I do, minion,” Vainqueur nodded.
His manling didn’t seem convinced, so the dragon further elaborated. “Minion, children are like the gems of your hoard. You may have started gathering a treasure for the love of gold, but you have a duty to care for and protect your personal wealth in all of its forms. Sometimes you will feel that a treasure that a suicidal manling delivered is not up to your standards, or you do not know how to clean that platinum statue, but you have to take care of them anyway.”
“Your Majesty lost me a bit with the analogy, but I think I understand the lesson,” Manling Victor replied. “I have a duty to take care of my kids, and that even if I may not be the father they need, I should at least try my best? And that I may grow to like it?”
Vainqueur nodded. “Take care of your hoard, all of it.”
Manling Victor’s sad face turned into a smile. “That is deep.”
“I know. I rarely share my dragon wisdom with you, because you are almost the perfect minion already.”
“And Your Majesty is the best friend a manling like me could ask for.”
“Who else?” Vainqueur asked rhetorically. “Now stop worrying about the future, and enjoy the moment.”
For his minions had finally decided to launch the fireworks. Both V&V members looked up at the skies, as exploding rockets sprayed the darkness with colorful smoke and lights. Vainqueur and Victor spent the evening watching the celebration in a happy kind of silence, until the dragon broke it.
“Not even the fairies will take this place from me, Friend Victor.”
“About that, Your Majesty,” Manling Victor trailed sorrowfully. “Do we really have to kill them all?”
“What do you mean, minion?”
“If they have souls and feelings now… is endless war the only way anymore?“
On a distant island, near the New World’s coasts, a group of winged women labored on an ash-filled ground.
They had worked for weeks, months, to dig out their buried master. Never once did they waver in their determination, especially after recovering their missing member. A woman named Sigrun gave orders, as they hit the volcanic stone with their spears and commanded ghosts to remove debris.
Finally, the earth trembled, and they formed a circle.
A mighty hand emerged in their midst, wielding a lightning spear.
And thunder echoed across the sea.
- Earth, Baltic Sea.
There was blood in the water tonight, and it brought a smile to his face.
The world of men was such a dreadful place for a fomor like Mell Lin. He could feel the magic that fueled him slip away, and even the System didn’t work on this side. The Pied Piper remained strong, but some of his Perks refused to activate. How odd.
It doesn’t matter, he thought, as he glanced at the human corpses carried by the waves. The golems that had carried out the massacre stood over the bridge of a metal vehicle, floating on the water; a great whale of steel, used by the apes to spy and exterminate one another.
The rift in space that they had used to cross the border between worlds remained wide open, large enough to make an army pass through. His sister Odieuse awaited on the other side, using ancient fairy magic to keep it open for the next hours. Long enough to move this whale to Outremonde.
What did the monkeys call it again?
A Typhoon-class nuclear submarine.
“Fascinating.” The mummy Akhenapep, Sablar’s envoy to his fomor ‘allies,’ examined holes in the metal whale's hide. “Beautiful.”
“Indeed,” Mell Lin said, peeking inside the holes to look at the giant arrows kept within. “To think that they keep them in storage to gather dust.”
Well, if the apes didn’t want to use their own weapons, the fomors would gladly requisition them. With the Apple of Knowledge to understand how to operate these arrows, they could equip his sister’s Crom Cruach and burn all their enemies away.
With the dragon’s farm first in line.
“Lord Sablar demands retribution,” Akhenapep said. “But this is the moment I have been waiting for.”
“Mmm?” Lin asked, somewhat curious.
“I said I wouldn’t wake up until Doomsday O’Clock... but I like to be early.”
End of Volume III.
Vainqueur "Best Dragon" Knightsbane
Level: 75 (Augustus 30/Witchfinder General 14/Kaiser 17/Dungeon Breeder 10/Geomancer 4)
Victor "Slimy One" Dalton
Level: 73 (Monster Knight: Red Dragon 20/Reaper 30/Moriarty 11/Chaos Rider 4/Weathermaker 7/Fiendish Rake 1)