Vainqueur, best dragon of all, looked at the map from atop his hoard with skepticism. “Why manlings?”
His minion advisors, gathered around the war board, exchanged glances. “Excuse us, Your Majesty?” Marbré asked.
“Why are we using manling figurines to represent my kobold minions?” Vainqueur repeated. His minions had created a map of the western part of the Mistral continent, showing Prydain, Gardemagne, and his own empire. Hundreds of tiny figurines represented the armies on all sides of the conflict.
But most of Vainqueur’s own soldiers were manlings miniatures!
“We are using Boards & Conquest miniatures,” Allison explained with a frown. “My miniatures I should add. Kobolds, goblins, orcs, mimics, and other monsters don’t have representative armies in B&Q.”
“Neither do ghouls, even though vampires of the Nightlands have their own miniatures,” Corpseling Jules said. “Which I find racist.”
“This lack of Averagism thinking is exactly why a consumption-based model is doomed to fail,” Marbré nodded.
At least they had a tiny dragon to represent Vainqueur himself, but it infuriated him that the fairies and their monsters had their own miniatures. “You will order Troll Barnabas to craft new figurines for each of my minions, after he is done forging my new War of the Hoard veteran medals,” the dragon ordered, “because this is very confusing.”
“What is confusing is Victor’s absence at this gathering,” Knight Kia said, looking at a missing seat. “Alongside Maure's.”
“My minion is working on a great magical project that will give us the edge in the conquest of Prydain,” Vainqueur recounted his minion’s own words. “And hopefully, breeding our reserve force.”
“I still can’t believe he found the time to have sixteen kids,” Knight Kia said. “At least whores get paid for their service.”
“Maybe he should,” Batling Charlene said with a knowing smile. “But back to the matter at hand. Taking into account our colonies and the fact that every single one of our citizens can fight, we may field around seventy-thousand soldiers. However, even with access to the Nightblades’ black market and stolen reserve of Crests, only a tiny fraction of them are [Crested].”
“Five hundred and fifty-five, without including Your Majesty, Victor, or myself,” Knight Kia explained. “Obviously, we are also the only people above level 60 in the entire peninsula.”
"And Rolo," Untasty Allison pointed out.
"And Rolo," Knight Kia admitted, eager to swipe her shameful showing against the golem under the rug.
“The good news is, we can raise three-quarters of our fallen as undead if they die,” Corpseling Jules pointed out.
“We can also raise an additional fifty-thousand from our allies in Happyland, Agartha, the Teikoku, the Mooooon, and the Thaoten Empire,” Charlene said. “Bringing the total to one hundred twenty thousand troops.”
“That gives us a credible chance to attack Prydain, but they possess powerful magic, Fomors with class levels, and warbeasts,” Knight Kia said. “Not to mention Odieuse herself. A monster that powerful is an army in itself.”
“This sounds straightforward to me,” Vainqueur replied, annoyed by the ambient pessimism. “I am a dragon, you are minions. I burn a path forward, you clean up afterward. I will even empower you with my army-friendly Perks!”
“That approach may have worked in the Teikoku, but you had the backing of a goblin army then,” Knight Kia pointed out with a distasteful face. “I say you send emissaries to Gardemagne to gain their support. They are the nation with the strongest military, a bone to pick with the fomors, and I know their leadership personally.”
“More bodies to throw at the enemies are important, but we need something else more,” Corpseling Jules said. “Namely, [Crests].”
“I agree, Buzz Jelly has been thirty since forever, and have you seen his stats?” Untasty Allison pointed out.
“On Mr. Victor’s orders, I have used my contacts to gather Crests and stat boosters,” Tasty Malfy explained. “While we got our hands on boosters, in spite of the heavy expenses, Crests remain difficult to obtain.”
“Why?” Vainqueur asked, confused. “Do they not drop out of the skies after you win a difficult battle? Should they not fall into my minions’ hands as we attack Prydain?”
“Not necessarily,” Corpseling Jules replied. “No one can predict when Crests will appear. It would be better to locate existing ones than hope for new items to drop.”
“Nations hoard Crests to empower their own elite,” Knight Kia said. “And to prevent the proliferation of dangerous, [Crested] criminals.”
“My Nightblades gathered all of those available on the black market,” Batling Charlene complained. “We will have to go to foreign authorities for more, or invade dungeons ourselves.”
“That could open our soldiers to another venue of gaining more power,” Corpseling Jules said. “Namely, [Mook Promotions].”
“Now, you are speaking my language minions,” Vainqueur decided since the discussion had started boring him. “Is there not a dungeon competition waiting for us to win it?”
“Yes, but only small teams can participate,” Knight Kia said. “And they’re fishy as He—”
“Happyland,” Tasty Malfy cut her off.
“There are a few dungeons in the empire that remain unexplored,” Marbré said. “And in the underground tunnels of Agartha.”
“Then send experienced minion legions there, so they grow stronger and gather Crests,” Vainqueur ordered.
“Your Majesty, this is a good idea,” Knight Kia began.
“I know, it is mine.”
“—but I would like your authorization to return home to Gardemagne and lobby King Roland for Crests. I know I can convince him to send us a few more. Most importantly, my old party lives there, and most of them are either level 60 or above. They would be tremendous boons to our war effort.”
“Why would they help and empower a nation of monsters right next to their border?” Charlene asked.
“Because Gardemagne and the V&V Empire signed an alliance pact when His Majesty overthrew Brandon Maure,” Kia pointed out. “While Odieuse threatens us all.”
“Certainly, go home minion,” Vainqueur said, more than happy to get the [Paladin] away from his capital. With Manling Victor on a breeding frenzy, the dragon couldn’t let her tempt his chief of staff with her knightly wiles.
“I believe a thousand Crested would give us the advantage,” Corpseling Jules said, shifting the miniatures. “If we move an army on the west coast, another on the eastern, we can form a pincer attack and take over the southern part of Prydain.”
“Minions, I notice a startling lack of dragon figurines,” Vainqueur said suddenly, noticing the flaw in his lackeys' strategy.
A heavy silence followed until Untasty Allison coughed. “Your Majesty, about that...”
“How are we supposed to welcome thousands of dragons when two hundred almost bled us dry?” Batling Charlene said.
“A Tarasque feast,” Vainqueur pointed out the obvious.
“What about the water, the space, the—”
“Nonsense,” Vainqueur cut her off in annoyance. “My chief of staff said that he would do the thing, and he will succeed.”
“If Murmurin even survives this Conclave, how are we supposed to feed a dragon army for more than a day?” Batling Charlene kept arguing, while the other minions made strange hand signs at her.
“Easy, the battle shall not last more than a day,” Vainqueur replied, proud of his species. “Do not mistake the situation, minions. This is not a war. This is an execution by dragonfire. Your role is to sort out the ashes.”
“Dragon air support will be decisive,” Knight Kia said. “But the fomors have been preparing for such an attack for years. We need more advanced tactics—”
An imp messenger popped up in the middle of the meeting. “Your Majesty, emergency! Emergency!”
“This is a war meeting,” Malfy said. “Can’t this wait?”
“It’s Daltonia!” the imp hissed. “Daltonia… dodo hybrids have escaped Daltonia’s pens! The Tarasque has gone out of control!”
“I will deal with this myself!” Vainqueur declared, roused to action. “None shall spoil my feast!”
When Vainqueur crossed the portal to Daltonia with Knight Kia in tow, they found themselves in front of a monster feasting on a demon’s entrails.
The creature had the head of a dodo and the body of a bear.
“A [Dodobear]!” Vainqueur exclaimed in happiness. The experiment had been a rousing success!
“You named it?”
“I bred it!” Vainqueur boasted, Knight Kia taking a step back upon seeing the giddy joy in the dragon’s eyes. “I bred a dodo and a slime, then a bear and a slime… and then I bred the results! To create a [Dodobear]!”
“Why would Your Majesty do that?” the [Paladin] asked, unable to grasp her master’s grand vision.
“Because we are at war!” Vainqueur shouted, the knight taking another step backward until she hit a tree. “We are at war with nature! Two species, driven almost extinct by accident! Should I accept it? No! So I bred a new species, taking the best of both! Dodos that can thrive everywhere! What will you manlings say when they see these mighty creatures put their eggs into bears, only to have dodo-headed children coming out?”
|Charisma check successful! You terrified Kia Bekele!|
“Yes, minion! They will say that I, Vainqueur, bred a [Dodobear]! If there is a god of breeding, it is me!”
Vainqueur gathered his breath, while Knight Kia remained eerily silent. In the meantime, the [Dodobear] had finished eating, letting out a mix of a bear roar and a bird's screech.
The dragon looked around, realizing that the breeding program had gone out of control. The animals had escaped their pens, massacring the staff, and rampaged through the dodocare. Only the Victor-faced statues on the beach remained unscathed, dodos gathering around them to honor their maker and savior. A group of birds had sacrificed a fiend before Manling Victor’s ‘Rolling of the Dice’ statue, feeding on its entrails.
“Your Majesty!” A lone, winged bone demon had managed to escape the slaughter, flying to avoid the claws of two ferocious dodobears. “Your Majesty has come to save us!”
“What happened here?” Vainqueur asked, grabbing the two dodobears with his hands as if they were tiny horses. The creatures went limp in his hands.
“We did as your Majesty asked, creating the ultimate monsters!” the demon said. “Half exp bag, half superboss! But the first clutch started mutating due to radiation, and we couldn’t control them!”
“H-how?” Knight Kia asked, astonished. “How?”
“We cast a [Giant Size] spell on a fertile dodo broodmother, fed gallons of aphrodisiac to the [Tarasque Emperor], and—”
Fearsome roars echoed through the island, as its forest’s trees trembled. Vainqueur smelled the Tarasque and its progeny approach in great numbers. “Here they come!” the demon hissed, hiding behind a disturbed Knight Kia while she drew her sword.
Then they poured out of the woods, as beautiful as they were terrifying.
“Beware… the [Taradodos]!”
Dozens of dodo-headed, bipedal lizards the size of elephants trampled the trees. Their crimson scales were covered with fresh blood, while their eyes radiated with fury and hunger. A spiked carapace protected their back, while their sharp claws and iron beak could tear through flesh and metal both. Their radioactive, greenish father followed, a tiny, normal dodo nesting on its head.
The Tarasque let out a roar, his brood screeching in response like an army from the depths of Happyland itself.
“Minions!” Vainqueur snarled in response. “MINIONS!”
|[Alpha Magnetism (Scales)] activated! Charisma check successful!|
The taradodos and their mighty father immediately submitted to Vainqueur, belly against the ground.
“Return to your pens,” the dragon ordered, the creatures immediately protesting with screeches. “No weeaaaing with me, minions. Return to your pens!”
The creatures dispersed, the Tarasque leading them back into the ruins of the dodocare.
“See, minions?” Vainqueur told his lackeys, releasing the [Dodobears] in his hands; the beasts wisely fled. “They only need a firm, strong dragon master to teach them the minion way of life.”
“You bred a Tarasque,” Knight Kia muttered to herself. “Your Majesty bred a Tarasque.”
“I did!” Vainqueur boasted, proud of saving so many species from extinction. He should receive an award for it.
The dragon-made System apparently agreed.
Congratulations! For creating a new, horribly dangerous monster that will become the bane of adventurers long after you are gone, you earned a level in [Dungeon Breeder]! You earned the [Miniboss Breeder] Class perk.
+30 HP, +10 SP, +1 STR, +1 VIT, +1 SKI, +1 AGI, +1 CHA, +1 LCK.
[Miniboss Breeder]: All your monster minions permanently gain the [Miniboss] Personal Perk (+120 HP, +40 SP, +4 to all other stats, and +10 to damage with their personal Perks). They will keep the benefit of the Perk even if they return to the wild.
“Now, gather all my dodos and rebuild the dodocare,” Vainqueur ordered his fiendish lackey.
“The [Taradodos] regenerate faster than we can harm them, Your Majesty,” the demon said. “And their claws bypass all physical and magical protections. We need better guards.”
“I am half-horrified, half-amazed,” the [Paladin] admitted. “On one hand, these things can make for amazing shock troops, but on the other hand, I dread how many levels a fomor can gain from killing one.”
“Then we shall keep them to ourselves,” Vainqueur decided, amazed by his own brilliance.
And then they would raise them as undead, for double the exp.