This was probably the most awkward breakfast in Victor’s life.
He and Chocolatine stood at each end of her kitchen table in embarrassed silence, neither of them willing to address the elephant in the room.
“So… did you enjoy Samhain?” the werewolf tried to make conversation, but only made both of them cringe.
“Sort of,” he replied, shifting uncomfortably on his chair. “It was enlightening.”
|You have taken weak [Psychic] damage from the awkwardness.|
Yeah, at least the last rendezvous had been refreshingly direct.
He had just left a meeting with Isabelle, his demonic mistresses, and all of their assorted lawyers. The exhausting session had ended with a settlement, although one that left the Vizier less than pleased.
“That’s an agreement I signed for most of my progeny.” Victor finally mustered his courage, showing Chocolatine a document. “To make it short, I recognize all of my children as trueborn, although my daughter with Isabelle Maure goes first in the inheritance order. Isa signed a separate agreement with the other fiends, with all their children being guaranteed a place among Braniña’s corporate board once she becomes a demon CEO in exchange for specific concessions. I agreed to pay alimonies, child support, and provide housing in my mansion.”
“Alimonies?” Chocolatine said, refusing to look at the document. She had never cared about legal technicalities.
“Yeah,” Victor sighed. “There was a clause in the summoning contract saying that if I were to ever impregnate members of the Demonic Harem by accident, I become their exclusive employer. Which means that I must pay a ‘perpetual concubine retainer fee’ until I die for the fourth time.”
“This sounds like a nuptial agreement,” Chocolatine said, clearly frustrated with this.
“They didn’t use the term, but yeah.” The financial penalties were so high, that the lawyers had suggested suicide and revival as a cheap alternative. “They say it’s to guarantee that all new children will ‘belong to the hero of Happyland’, but truthfully, they’re just ripping me off.”
And his troubles weren’t done. He still had to visit Haudemer to do a paternity test there.
The werewolf seemed angry, but for what he expected. “I can’t believe you married demons first!”
“I thought you were okay with an open relationship?” Victor frowned.
“Yes, but…” She crossed her arms, embarrassed. “I would have loved a pretty fur dress.”
Victor sighed. “Choc, I am telling you this so you know where I stand about us.”
The werewolf remained awkwardly silent.
“If…” Damn, why was it so hard to speak about the subject?! “If you decide to keep them, I will legitimize our children and take responsibility.”
“If I decide?” Chocolatine cut him off, uncomfortable with this conversation. “Vic, don’t say that. The two of us have to decide.”
“I will be okay with either choice,” Victor replied. “If you decide to… you know, I will respect your decision, and nothing will change. I’m addicted to you, and if you will have me, I shall remain by your side. It will be like before.”
“You’re addicted to me?” Her face brightened.
“I am,” he said. “I can’t explain it logically. I’m not sure if this is love, but if all the girls I messed with had ghosted me, you would have been the one I would have fought tooth and nails to keep in my life.”
In spite of her eccentricities, in spite of her dangerous grip on sanity, she held a tighter grip on his heart than anyone else.
By now, the werewolf had turned red. Chocolatine was horribly cute that way. “Vic,” she spoke up. “I told you before that I had no intention to settle down.”
The Vizier nodded.
“But... I’m addicted to you too, and I think we have something special: two weredragons, and two wereslimes.”
Victor thought he had misheard. “Two wereslimes?”
“Oh yes! According to Isengrim, they’re like werewolves, but they become slimes during the full moon!”
Which god decided to make this crap a reality? “Choc, I must warn you. You know me, I don’t think I’m the best person to be a dad.”
“You will learn,” she replied warmly. “I will help.”
He rose from his chair, she did the same, and they hugged.
As he held her tight against his chest, Victor remembered the early days of their relationship; the fear he had felt, compared to the anxious warmth he experienced now. True, she was crazy, but also caring and loving.
At this moment, he wouldn’t have traded her for anything.
A newcomer that the Vizier had never seen before suddenly entered the kitchen, shattering the tender moment. A creature looking like a scarecrow with a pumpkin for a head, and clearly in need of a fix. “Jack is hungry!”
“Choc, who is this?” Victor asked, still keeping the werewolf in his arms.
“Jack, my new tenant!” Chocolatine said. “I’m renting him Croissant’s old room since Samhain. Jack, this is my boyfriend Vic!”
“Jack says hello,” the creature said before immediately focusing on the important matter. “Jack asking where are the Garfield cookies?”
“In the freezing slime fridge!” the werewolf said. “But you will get fat if you keep eating my pastries! Allison said I put too many calories in them!”
“Jack never gets fatter,” the monster replied while searching in the kitchen.
Victor raised an eyebrow, using [Monster Insight] to read the strange entity.
Soulcrested Fomor (Fairy/Undead).
Strong against: Fire, Necromancy, Plants, Unholy, Spirit, Fairy, Magic, Curses, all negative status ailments.
Weak to: Dragon, Deadslayer, Frost, Cold Iron, Starmetal, Candies.
The patron fairy of Halloween/Samhain, and the inspiration of the Jack O’Lantern myth on Earth. A maladjusted loner among his kind addicted to candies, Jack declined to join Odieuse’s crusade, but stole one of her Soulcrests as a prank. Benign if bribed on Samhain, he is now confused by his newfound, perverse fascination with Chocolatine’s food (and Murmurin in general).
The Vizier froze, ready to fire a deadly spell at the monster. “Choc, behind me.”
“What?” his girlfriend replied, clueless.
“Do you know what he is?”
“A f—you knew?”
“Yeah, he told me,” the werewolf replied casually. “But Jack is very nice! He is helping us with farming since he doesn’t have any money.”
“Jack confused,” the fomor rasped. “First time Jack lives among mortals without a disguise.”
Victor blinked repeatedly, before whispering into his lover’s ear, “Choc, what are you thinking?”
“Vic, I helped build Murmurin so all monsters could live in peace and be good neighbors,” Chocolatine pointed out. “Even fairies. He’s behaving, and he isn’t even from Prydain, so what is the problem?”
“That he is living at your place,” Victor replied protectively.
The werewolf blushed, before kissing him on the cheek. “I’m fine, I swear! Besides, he will never harm a cook as good as me!”
“Jack has been treated,” the fomor said. “So Jack will play no trick.”
The Vizier looked on as Jack knocked on the fridge with his finger, as if expecting someone to open from the other side.
Victor was torn. True, he had wondered if they could make peace with fomors in the first place if their souls allowed them to empathize with the ‘lesser races’ that they denigrated. But even if this one looked clueless, Jack remained a fomor; a creature about as dangerous as a dragon. To have one living in Murmurin, at his lover’s place to boot...
Still, Chocolatine had a certain talent for dealing with monsters, and his [Monster Insight] hadn’t detected any ill-will from that pumpkin scarecrow. He was willing to take the risk; although he would have the fairy watched at all times.
A Soulcrest? “Jack?”
“Yes, werewolf boyfriend?”
“Could you show me your Soulcrest?” the Vizier asked. “Just for a short while.”
With his newfound Tier VIII spellcasting, Victor had funded the acquisition of magical scrolls to learn new spells; including the famed [Pocket Dimension].
A spell which he had, of course, promptly mastered.
His private sanctuary was relatively small as far as dimensions went, roughly six hundred meters square, divided into three ‘floors.’ The dimension took the form of a mansion floating in the middle of a dark, cold void between dimensions. How gravity still worked as normal escaped him, but who was he to contest such powerful magic?
As she had asked, Isabelle had decorated the place in the most expensive style, from marble pavement to fine wood doors. She had even found a way to include a planar-powered Jacuzzi in the bathroom, and a magical laboratory for Victor’s own use.
It was there, on an operation table meant to create undead, that the Vizier examined a crest of bones and solid darkness.
Although Victor did have an assistant to help him with it. A double of himself, who had traded his heavy armor for a plague doctor’s uniform.
A [Fetch] was a clone created by the tier VIII spell of the same name, a duplicate born equipment, and fueled by a piece of his soul. While it kept most of his Perks, the duplicate had only half his stats, lost HP and SP at a slow rate, and couldn’t recover them. It couldn’t gain exp, nor create a second clone of itself.
Thankfully though, the clone’s memories returned to Victor once it exhausted its health points, so it halved paperwork and research time. The Vizier had all but delegated the task of gathering information from [Harvest] to his double.
Congratulations! As a powerful monster and Vainqueur’s breeding policy officer, you earned the [Miniboss] personal perk!
[Miniboss]: you permanently gain +120 HP, +40 SP, +4 to all other stats, and your personal/monster perks will inflict +10 damage.
It sounded a little insulting, but also welcome.
However, he noticed that the System now openly considered him a monster instead of a human. Was it because of his [Monster Knight: Red Dragon] class? Or because he had slowly drifted apart from his human roots?
Victor looked up from the table, to see the goddess Camilla sitting at the edge.
“I see that you haven’t waited for our lesson,” his mentor said, examining the extraplanar laboratory. “You learned some of the best spells of that tier already.”
“It’s a shame the [Fetch] can’t gain levels or exp,” Victor said. Although he did discover that the clone could learn new spells and transfer that knowledge back to him afterward. “Because that would have made an excellent spell fantastic.”
“I told you balance broke down around Tier VIII,” the deity replied, “Fighter-classes get better at killing people, while we spellcasters get better at killing the laws of physics.”
“I sense an undercurrent of classicism there.”
“I do not denigrate other classes. I wouldn’t have gone as far as I did without Jesty or Veran to cover my weaknesses, and vice-versa. However, I always thought that Spellcaster-classes offered more options for creative people.”
Probably. Victor freshly remembered his encounters with Furibon and Akhenapep. The former could stop time, the latter demolish an [Epic] level team single-handedly.
“Once you cap off [Weathermaker], you should be able to cast Tier IX spells, perhaps even Tier X with your other classes.” She smiled at Victor’s confusion. “[Moriarty] is a swiss-knife class with many powerful abilities, but nothing that can increase magic. [Fiendish Rake] however…”
Both Victor and his [Fetch] groaned at once.
“Did you know?” the original asked Camilla. “About [Skeleton Key]?”
“I admit I didn’t. Jesty was our only [Reaper], and whenever I tried to set him up with a cute dark elf, he abandoned the dates midway to build a Mithras-tailored deathtrap. In retrospect, that sounds a bit suspicious...”
“Any way to get around it?”
“Physical protection, but with your current Strength…” Camilla gave him a sympathetic look. “There is a more permanent solution, but I doubt it will take due to your high Vitality and regeneration. Between your Perks and stats, you have become too powerful for standard methods.”
The Vizier grumbled, much to his patron’s amusement. “Victor, you will get used to it. I maintain a harem, and I also had accidents at your age. You shouldn’t let that stop you.”
“You are starting to sound like Vainqueur,” Victor complained.
“Well, Jesty suggested we switch to a Dynasty-based game and—” The goddess caught herself. “You will soon face the fomors, and you need as many levels as possible. [Weathermaker] caps at ten, [Chaos Rider] too, and I believe [Moriarty] ends at twenty. You will need to fill the rest.”
“I’m sure there are other ways…”
“Victor,” she gave him a knowing gaze. “You know that there is only one way to level up [Fiendish Rake]. And at your level, it is nigh-impossible to level up in a new class.”
Victor gathered his breath. “BLEEP.”
“That was why you worked hard to get this class in the first place, no?”
Yes, but he didn’t understand the terrible consequences when he did!
The karmic irony wasn’t lost on him. The Vizier had chosen one of the most difficult and powerful classes to better get laid, but he couldn’t level up in it without risking getting more troubles eight months down the line.
“I will try to get a new class anyway,” Victor replied dryly. “I have made a vow of abstinence.”
He would rather have less children than more levels. His agonizing wallet would thank him.
“We will see how long that holds,” said an amused Camilla, before she glanced at the Soulcrest and changed the subject. “Is this what I think it is?”
“Do you know the worst part?” Victor asked. “That this thing could have been made without killing anybody. A tiny amount of blood and bones were enough to achieve the same result. Mag Mell simply went with the most violent solution available.”
“But without this device, the fomors’ power is crippled.”
“They have more than one,” Victor replied. “From what I gathered from [Harvest] and the tidbits Jack told me, I believe that they have at least five of them. Maybe more.”
Like it or not, as dragons before them, fomors with class levels would remain a fact of Outremonde.
Camilla remained silent for a while, as she pondered the implications. “You need to learn more spells,” she declared.
“Anything that could help me with animal growth?” Victor asked. “Because we are going to welcome a thousand dragons, and we don’t have enough cattle to feed them all.”
His current solution was to open portals to the elemental planes and lure food into Murmurin, like when the dragons ate their way through Happyland during Vainqueur’s Bragging Day.
“Clones,” Camilla replied with a smile. “Clones solve everything.”
“You are not feeding me to Vainqueur’s guests over and over again,” Victor’s [Fetch] warned.
“I wasn’t going to!” the original replied.
“We are the same person, I know how you think!”
“The lesson will wait,” Camilla interrupted. “I mostly returned because I made progress on your favor.”
Victor’s head perked up. “You can cure Kia’s curse?”
“While I would have preferred something more pleasurable than helping a [Paladin],” she said, sounding a bit bitter, “I have convinced Seng to grant you an audience. Although I did have to bribe her with a gallon of ghoul vodka first...”
“Grant me? Not Kia?”
“No, she doesn’t want to see the apostate,” the goddess said, before adding with quiet sarcasm, “I wonder why.”
So Victor had a chance to argue with the goddess and convince her to overturn her decision. Time to put these new Charisma bonuses to the test. “So, where and when?”
“In her planar realm, and right now.”
“Can’t this wait?” Victor asked. “I know I’m asking for much, but we have a war—”
“That will not wait,” Camilla replied firmly. “She wanted to sink Bekele’s country last time we spoke, and one whiskey ocean is enough.”