“[Terraform: Landmass, Plains]!”
As Vainqueur shouted these magical words in the middle of the desert, a screen appeared right before him.
|How much SP will you use? 50 SP per fifty meters radius.|
“All of them!”
|1800 SP consumed.|
In the blink of an eye, the dragon’s beautiful magic expanded all across the land, spreading across an area almost two kilometers-wide in radius.
Instantly, the dry, lifeless desert transformed into grasslands before Vainqueur and his trainers. Tasty Malfy, Corpseling Jules, Untasty Allison, and her tinfoil golem ally could only whistle as plants grew beneath their feet, the sand turning into flat dirt. The effect expanded under the sun until it reached its limit, turning the area into a green enclave amidst a barren landscape.
|You have transformed the [Desert] field into a [Plains] field. [Plant], [Wind], and [Earth] attacks will be strengthened; grounded creatures will gain a bonus to Agility checks.|
The sight had floored all minions present. Untasty Allison, in particular, loudly rejoiced, her portable bonsai at her feet. “Amazing!”
“Rolo very happy,” the golem agreed. “Rolo says we should need more marshes and forests west, more grass east…”
Murmurin’s emperor listened to the praise, congratulating himself for his brilliant idea. Since they needed more arable land for the Conclave, and Vainqueur had to level up fast, the dragon had decided to use his [Geomancer] Perks to repair the entire desert.
He would eat two cows with one bite.
Unfortunately, while he could keep transforming the desert all day, his SP reserve was almost emptied after this show of force.
“I need meat juice!” the dragon ordered, so he could get back to work. Corpseling Jules presented a barrel for his master to consume, but Vainqueur couldn’t recognize the substance. It smelled of mint, berries, and chemicals. “What is this, minion?”
“[SPeroids],” the ghoul replied. “Your Majesty asked us to help him with his leveling, and Malfy and I devised a training regiment.”
“Indeed,” Tasty Malfy said while pointing at one of a crate full of strange food and trinkets. Another right next to it contained unshiny powerstones. “These are stat boosters. Extremely rare and valuable items that can increase any stat, except HP or SP, with a +2 enhancement. They cost a fortune and come in very limited supply, but we have managed to gather quite a few.”
“[Strength Spinach], [Skill Candies], [Agility Lettuce], [Vitality Milk], [Intelligence Powder], [Charisma Bars], [Luck Amulet],” Corpseling Jules added.
“They are also forbidden in official competitions,” Untasty Allison said. “And Your Majesty can only gain a total bonus of +10 after consumption. Every stat booster consumed after this threshold is wasted.”
“Which is still the equivalent of ten levels in pure stat growth,” Rolo said.
Vainqueur immediately noticed something very, very wrong in that scenario.
“Minion,” he looked at Tasty Malfy with a judgmental glance. “If they are this expensive, how could you afford them for me?”
If he had dared skim money from Vainqueur’s nine-nine-tenth…
“Easy, through Your Majesty’s brilliant decision to pump the Whiskey Sea!” the fiend explained, sounding very happy with himself. “By selling it through the Nightblades, we cornered all illegal bootlegging activities!”
“And then making undead out of the enraged competition, before putting them to work in the gold mines,” Corpseling Jules said. “Murmurin is basically printing Vainqueur Dollars at this point, even after Your Majesty takes their share.”
Ah, yes! Vainqueur had almost forgotten that plan. “Has the rate of dwarf death by dragon fallen?”
“Uhm, I suppose, although I do not see how that tracks?” Tasty Malfy replied.
Vainqueur did and congratulated himself again. For his plan was proof that one could make money without exhausting the most important natural resources.
“All of these stat boosters are for Manling Victor and me?” Vainqueur asked, greatly interested. While it wouldn’t increase his monthly stipend, more luck, in particular, meant more items from monsters.
“Well,” Untasty Allison scratched the back of her neck, “I suggested that we keep some [Intelligence Powder] for Gorynych though, due to his… handicap…”
“My idea is to combine a steady diet of stat boosters with [SPeroids] for Your Majesty,” Jules explained. “Since [SPeroids] temporarily boost SP recovery, Your Majesty should periodically consume them whenever you exhaust their points practicing your [Terraform] Perk.”
“Rolo and I will supervise the process so we can preserve an ecological balance long-term,” Untasty Allison said. “But I believe that for the first time since centuries, making Ishfania green again is within sight.”
“Which means more pasture for cattle.” Vainqueur nodded. “How many [SPeroids] do you have?”
“Enough for Your Majesty to geomance for four hours,” Corpseling Jules replied.
“That is not enough, minion. Gather everything.” Since his lackeys apparently failed to grasp his design, the dragon pumped his chest gloriously. “I shall not stop until I have reshaped this entire desert in my image.”
“Your Majesty wants to transform all of Ishfania in one go?” Untasty Allison asked.
“Unlike a manling, no dragon retreats in the face of adversity!” the emperor boasted. “You said that worm Sablar is responsible for the lack of greenery? Then I shall not rest until I have proven that I alone decide my empire’s fate!”
“This is…” The dryad struggled to find her words, before turning towards Corpseling Jules and Tasty Malfy. “Can it be done? Mathematically?”
“Are you doubting me, minion?” Vainqueur asked, finding her lack of faith in him disturbing.
“If we gather all SP potions available under short notice,” Corpseling Jules meditated. “We’ll need to order emergency production too, but in theory, we have enough.”
“Your Majesty, if you can do this, I…” Allison joined her tiny hands together. “I won’t be able to contain my joy. It will be a dream come true.”
“Do not ask if I can do it,” Vainqueur replied mercifully, “but when I do it.”
“Rolo will not rest until the vile Akhenapep’s work is undone,” the golem replied. “But Rolo will be greatly thankful. So will the goddess.”
“Happyland will also benefit from this.” Malfy nodded. “No longer will it be accused of greenwashing. Instead, we will help make the desert green again, and then exploit its newfound natural resources.”
“Enough talk,” Vainqueur declared. “Now, add the unshiny stones to the mix before I show nature who runs the place.”
His minions all frowned.
“The powerstones,” Vainqueur clarified. “I need to increase the power of my breath further.”
“Your Majesty, while I have reviewed your recent improvement of your breath attack,” Corpseling Jules coughed, “I am not certain consuming powerstones at all is a good idea. You could explode, die, or maybe—”
“I am a dragon,” Vainqueur reminded them of this timeless wisdom. “Add the glowing stones to my SP juice.”
Corpseling Jules wisely opened the second crate, revealing an assortment of powerstones. “Which element, Your Majesty?”
“Why not all of them?” Vainqueur asked, eager to add more elements to his breath.
“Your Majesty, allow to speak in place of Victor for a moment.” Untasty Allison made a strange face, which the dragon thought to be an excellent imitation of his Vizier's pessimism. “This is unbelievably dangerous! You can’t mix powerstones of opposed elements!”
After pondering it, Vainqueur admitted that she had a point. One should not mix gold and silver. “Add the golden ones,” the dragon ordered Corpseling Jules. “Those with the perfect color.”
“The [Light] ones, Your Majesty?”
[Light]? Argh, that was the element the cursed fairy had mastered! Of course she would corrupt everything golden in the world!
Vainqueur considered which element to add to his breath until one candidate came to mind. “No,” he changed his mind. “Add [Frost].”
“Excellent choice,” Corpseling Jules complimented. “It will cover your reliance on [Fire].”
And allow Vainqueur’s rival some measure of vengeance from beyond the grave.
At long last, Corpseling Jules added the stones to the mixture. The dragon grabbed the barrel and drank all its content, before the worried eyes of his minions.
Full of energy, the dragon glanced at the endless desert, pumped his chest, and showed his muscle. He could feel the stones and the drugs mix in his belly, refined by his stomach into the ultimate weapon of mass—
“What?!” Vainqueur snapped at the System for this obvious mistake.
|You suffer from [Unstable Magic] for twenty-four hours! Your magic and breath will behave erratically!|
That did not sound so unmanageable...
As Camilla teleported them in Seng’s abode, Victor could barely restrain himself from vomiting. This place stank of both alcohol and saltwater!
The reason being, that he was floating in both.
As befitting of her portfolio, Seng’s realm was an underwater bar beneath the waves. The decorations reminded Victor of a sunken ship, with fishes floating in and out of a hole in the ceiling. Jellyfishes provided light, while a mechanical octopus acted as the barman, serving sunny cocktails to the mermaid goddess. How the content avoided floating around remained a mystery.
As for Victor himself, he had no problem breathing or swimming. The water felt weightless and tasted like salted beer, while his fiery armor released some steam around him.
“This is unbecoming of your divine station, Seng!” Victor noticed a fiery man arguing with Seng, a marble king with a crown of flames and suns for eyes. While Seng was sitting near a map on the counter, the man remained standing. “Both cursing my chosen for a meager mistake, and threatening to sink a country!”
“M-meager?” the octopus mermaid complained, red with anger. She sounded completely drunk. “How would you react if a chosen of Deathjester ignored your divinity?!”
“I would ignore him, instead of lowering myself to that level of childishness.” The fire king looked ready to argue further, when he suddenly noticed the newcomers, glaring at the goddess of undeath. “Camilla.”
|You have taken heavy [Lightning] damage.|
Victor could feel the sheer tension between these two, especially as the goddess smiled hypocritically. “Still struggling with stamping out the Nightlands?”
“Still struggling to get your undeathstrial revolution off the ground?” the solar deity replied calmly, although Victor could taste the sheer hostility behind it. Bad breakup indeed.
“Victor, please leave us,” his patron goddess told the Vizier, her hand touching his shoulder like a hunting hawk's claws. “I hope you will defend your friend better than her patron deity.”
The Vizier wisely and silently left the two enemy deities behind to approach Seng. No sooner did he that they started arguing violently; their mermaid host raised a hand, the insults somehow muting into background noise.
“Hmm… hello?” Victor said upon sitting next to Seng.
“Victor!” she replied, clearly happy to see him. “My defender! You alone never doubted my divinity!”
Actually, the Vizier did doubt it, but unlike Kia, he had bothered to check before making a comment first. Not that he would mention this out loud. “Thank you for granting me an audience, Lady Seng.”
“How could I not? You and Vainqueur are among my favorite mortals! You ended slavery in the New World, crushed feudal governments left and right, and even finished the first world tour of Outremonde!”
Oh, this may go better than he expected! “If so, could you…”
“I know why you are here, Camilla told me,” Seng replied, trying to sound dignified. “Only someone capable of recognizing my greatness could prove caring enough to defend that sinner.”
I’m taking one for the team here Kia, Victor thought, unimpressed. I’m doing this for you.
“But I swore I would sink her country for her blasphemy!” The goddess showed him a map, pointing to an eastern country with her finger, “I am not a monster, so I won’t actually sink, sink it. Just unleash a little flood in the middle. Nobody will die!”
The Vizier frowned. “She’s not from there.”
Seng paused. “W-what do you mean?”
“You’re pointing at the Eversun Empire, and Kia is from Gardemagne,” Victor pointed out, putting his finger on the map. “That’s the wrong country.”
Seng said nothing. Instead, her hand reached for her cocktail, and she swallowed it the same way Vainqueur ate disobedient minions.
“Also, she is a reincarnated human from Earth,” Victor added, remembering his few discussions with the [Paladin]. “I believe she was born in Ethiopia before moving to the UK. So technically, if you want to sink her country of origin—”
Victor took a step back, as Seng suddenly exploded into tears.
“I screwed up!” she cried in her own arms, face against the counter. “I screwed up again! First, they ban me from the table after that whiskey sea incident, and now this!”
“It’s… look it’s okay,” Victor tried to comfort her, putting a hand on her shoulder. “Mistakes happen, even for gods.”
“Even mortals pity me!” Seng cried even louder, the barman octopus putting a beer bottle within arm’s reach of the goddess’. “I’m a goddess… a goddess! Why does nobody respect me?”
… she was a Vainqueur.
Outwardly regal and confident, but insecure inside; she didn’t want pity or sympathy. Thankfully, if Victor’s adventures in Outremonde had taught him anything, it was how to deal with this kind of majestic creature.
“I meant that such an action is perfectly understandable, Your Godliness. You operate on a level too high for mortals to understand.”
Flatter her to death!
“Y-your Godliness?” Seng raised her head at him, sounding both pleased and embarrassed.
“With a capital G,” Victor replied mirthfully. “Your fans can tell the difference.”
|Charisma check successful! You flattered Seng’s ego!|
“I mean, you oversee all the seas of Outremonde, millions, billions of creatures! How can you be expected to remember one mortal’s country of origin, when you decide the fate of the world?”
“Y-you’re just saying that to make me feel better,” she replied, unconvinced.
“But does that make it any less true?” Victor replied, knowing that she really wanted more praise, not less. “If I am reminding you of your exceptional successes, is this truly flattery? Or history?”
|Charisma check successful! It wasn’t very hard!|
“Are you a goddess, or are you not?” the Vizier kept tempting the fish with his lure.
“Yes, but… I don’t remember how I became one,” Seng admitted sheepishly. “I was drunk when I ascended.”
“Really?” Victor blinked, astonished. “That’s even more amazing.”
“R-really?” Seng looked at him in confusion. “How?
“Yeah, that means you weren’t even trying!” Victor said with sincerity. “In my case, I brought down Heaven while drunk on mushroom wine. I thought I had screwed up, and I did… but in retrospect, I’m also proud of myself.”
Somehow, Mithras’ shocked voice echoed through Seng’s background muting. The Vizier did his best to ignore it and focus on the mermaid.
“Yeah, I mean,” Victor gathered his breath. “Isn't it impressive that I accidentally succeeded, in one night and all on my own, where all of Happyland failed for eons? Imagine if I hadn’t been high. It would have been a slaughter!”
“Yes!” Seng pumped a fist. “I became a goddess without even meaning too!”
“And isn’t that impressive, when it took centuries of efforts from the others to do the same? Yes, they worked hard, but you, Your Godliness? It was all talent.”
Charisma check successful! You kissed Seng’s ass, and she loved it!
She loved it very much!
“You’re right,” Seng realized, her self-pity replaced with enthusiasm. “I’m a goddess, whether they like or not. I shouldn’t doubt myself.”
“Yes,” Victor agreed. “And that’s why I have come to petition Her Godliness, to please take mercy on one of her closet worshipers.”
The [Reaper] could feel burning eyes glaring at his back, but he ignored them in favor of the mission.
“Kia has been praying to you since the end of the Century War,” Victor argued. “When she took a bottle to drown her sorrow, you think she was looking for Mithras’ guidance? No. When she looked at the bottom of her glass, she was looking for yours, Your Godliness. Yours.”
“This is ridiculous!” Victor heard Mithras shout behind him, only for Camilla to drag him back into their quarrel. The Vizier vaguely heard her threaten to kill one thousand [Paladins] with vampiric syphilis, and not much afterward.
“I…” Now Seng looked positively embarrassed. “When you word it this way, that was very mean of me.”
“I’m sure she can take a quest to show how sorry she is,” Victor said softly.
“Maybe we can discuss it in the back?” Seng proposed. “I have a TV, and it’s almost time for the latest episode of Grandrake, Princess Hunter.”
The Vizier’s heart skipped a beat. “An actual TV?” He hadn't seen one since his reincarnation!
“Yes! I get all of Earth’s channels, and I can look at most of Outremonde too! Except for the areas which the other gods block.” She made an annoyed face. “Damn encrypted channels.”
“You know what?” Victor said as the barman gave him a cocktail while Camilla and Mithras still threatened each other with holy wars. “That will be a pleasure.”