Victor awoke with his back against the sand, to the sound of saltwater and crashing waves.
He rose up back to his feet, his wounds closed, his armor fully repaired. From a cursory glance at his surroundings, he had been teleported onto a Prydainian beach, perhaps a few miles away from the site of the final battle. The V&V Army had taken over the heavens, chasing away the last remnants of Odieuse’s armies.
It took a few minutes for Victor to fully regain his composure, and remember what just happened. He remembered fighting Odieuse in Valhalla, being revived by a giant zmey, and—
Dragons triumphantly roared in the skies, as the heavens turned ablaze. Victor raised his head and saw it.
A new, dragon-shaped constellation had appeared in the heavens; fiery stars forming a familiar crowned design, announcing the birth of a new god for all to see.
The reality finally sank in Victor’s heart.
They had won.
The battle was over.
And Vainqueur was gone.
Congratulations! For tricking Mell Odieuse and helping your master defeat her with a fiendish plan, you earned three levels in [Moriarty]! You earned the [True Crime Profiler] class perk!
+30 HP, +20 SP, +3 STR, +2 VIT, +3 SKI, +3 AGI, +6 INT, +3 CHA, +3 LCK!
[True Crime Profiler]: On a successful Intelligence check, you can perfectly profile a victim with whom you are even casually acquainted with. You are always aware when they lie to you, even when they use magic to disguise their intent, and you can predict their actions with a high degree of success. Additionally, you immediately learn a damning fact about your target.
You earned the [Claimed by Sablar] personal Perk! For being claimed by the entire pantheon, you also earned the [Pantheist] personal Perk!
[Claimed by Sablar]: When you level up, you have an additional 10 percent chance to gain a Strength or Vitality increase. You are immune to all [Time] and [Earth] effects, except those caused by Sablar himself, and you no longer age.
[Pantheist]: You cannot take damage from [Prayer] spells and divine-powered perks, except those used by [Deities].
As if to underline that he hadn’t dreamed, Victor felt his left palm itch. He removed his gauntlet, to find a dragon-shaped mark on his skin.
You earned the [Claimed by Vainqueur] Perk.
[Claimed by Vainqueur]: When you level up, you have an additional 10 percent chance to gain a Strength, Charisma, or Luck increase. The rate of loot drop and your odds of finding treasure is doubled.
The sight left a bittersweet taste in Victor’s mouth, reminding him that he would be on his own for the future. Three levels put him at level ninety-one, which was still a long way to go to reach godhood. But the Vizier had made a promise, and he would fulfill it.
A great shadow passed over the [Reaper], bringing him back to reality.
“Vic!” Carried by Gorynych, Kia Bekele landed right in front of him and immediately climbed down on the sand. The [Plot Armor] she wore remained unscathed, her power of friendship having shielded her from any wounds. “Vic, finally!“
“Master!” the Zmey rejoiced to see his rider again. “Gorynych was so scared!”
“Kia?” Victor asked, realizing that Akhenapep’s [Time Push]'s duration must have run out.
“I came as fast as I could!” the [Paladin] said, desperate, her sword raised and itching for battle. “Where is Odieuse? Where is she? Where is she?”
Ah, poor gal. Victor tried to mince his words, but there was no way around it. “She’s dead.”
“She’s dead?” Kia sounded both relieved, and terribly scared. “Dead as in, undead, or…”
“We beat her, sealed her apocalyptic castle, and Vainqueur became a god.” Victor pointed his scythe at the heavens and his friend’s miracle. “It’s over.”
Once, a single sentence had utterly destroyed Kia Bekele, pushing her through an abyss of tears and despair. Having sunk as low as she could, the knight had managed to climb up back to normality through blood and tears.
Victor’s words put her right back at the bottom of the well.
“I missed the final battle,” the [Paladin] said, her gaze hollow. “I missed the final battle.”
“Kia, it’s okay,” Victor tried to reassure her, putting a hand on her shoulder. “We’ll find another.”
His words fell on deaf ears, the [Paladin] walking on autopilot on the beach, and muttering to herself as emotions built up inside her. Then, they suddenly exploded without warning.
“BLEEP!” Kia cursed loudly, her armor forcing her to mix family-friendly lines with insults. “Ohana means family! BLEEP this armor! BLEEP IT!”
Before Victor could even do so much as protest, Kia started removing the [Plot Armor] and throwing it on the sand, her fury overtaking her modesty. “Screw that armor!” she shouted, “Screw these lines! BLEEP them!”
“Gorynych can sing a song to cheer her up,” the Zmey suggested. “Can Gorynych sing a song?”
“It is kind, but I don’t think it will help,” Victor stated, as Kia kicked the cursed armor into the sea. As it turned out, she wore black underwear below her magical protections, but the Vizier had a nice view of pretty much everything.
Maybe that was the adrenaline, the exhaustion from all these trials, or just the sight of this perfect amazonian body but… well, his mind wandered off.
Kia and he remained silent a moment until an idea seemed to make its way into the [Paladin]’s mind. “Victor,” she looked at him dead in the eyes, her gaze filled with one last hope at personal fulfillment.
“Kia,” he looked at her, knowing this was now or never.
They said it at the same time.
“Do you want to fight/breed?”
The next day, at a camp built amidst the remains of Odieuse’s lands, a great summit was organized between the winners of the Prydain War. Grandrake was chosen as the dragon race’s main representative and arbitrated the debates in the same style as the Dragon Conclave. From Jajambe to the Averagist’s Supreme Leader, every participant earned a voice.
Victor informed Jolie of her new promotion to Empress of Murmurin, and Vainqueur’s niece accepted the charge with grace, and quite a lot of tears; however, having clearly no experience with ‘dragon imperialism,’ she more or less left Victor to do all the work. For hours, the Dragon Empress and the Grand Vizier sat next to heads of states around a stone table, Vainqueur’s constellation shining in the open skies above them.
Well, truth to be told, Victor had already done most of the work while Vainqueur was in power. Now, with his niece being too young to rule, it had become official. The fact their former dragon emperor had become a god and given him a mandate had only enhanced Victor’s aura in the eyes of outsiders.
In the end, Jolie officially promoted Victor from Grand Vizier to Grand Regent. Akhenapep would have been proud.
Vainqueur had made his new divinity apparent by Claiming quite a few of his elite minions, although he didn’t show up personally. The dragon was probably occupied getting used to his new divinity and System management, leaving Victor to handle things in the mortal world.
Overall, the summit went better than what Victor expected. While Gardemagne’s King Roland, his allies, and some violent dragons had hoped to end the fomor threat permanently, Victor, Jolie, and Grandrake managed to talk them out of outright genocide by agreeing to ensure a peaceful societal transition. And if necessary, back it up with force.
Prydain would keep its independence, with power granted to the fomors who helped the allies during the war; although the victorious nations would build fortresses and send ambassadors, to make sure there would be no foul play involved. The country would be demilitarized, its arsenal destroyed, and Odieuse’s major supporters would be tried on the mainland.
The V&V Empire would provide the surviving fairies with ethical Soulcrests, allowing them to develop souls and compassion. In exchange, the fomors swore a binding oath not to attack their neighbors and pay war indemnities, so long as they were left alone in return.
And so, for the first time since the beginning of civilization, Fomors made peace with everyone else. It may take decades for their culture to change, but like Murmurin, Victor hoped that they would become trading, peaceful neighbors one day.
Cait Sith didn’t manage to outlaw cat eating on the whole continent though, although Jolie honored her uncle’s promise to ban it in the Empire. You couldn’t win every time.
“We should do it more often, Breeder Victor,” Grandrake declared, while Jolie ratified the treaty. Kia, having traded the [Plot Armor] for her normal one, stood guard next to the empress, but as far away from Victor as humanly possible; she looked away in embarrassment whenever their eyes met.
“A conclave to settle our issues?” Victor asked Grandrake, still reeling from the [Paladin]’s slap.
“Perhaps one day, the international minion conclave will gain half as much prestige as our own,” the old dragon mused. “Under a dragon moderator’s rightful direction.”
“It is my dream to one day see minions take control of their own destiny,” Jolie declared proudly, before handing the document to Jajambe. The sharkman signed with his own blood for dramatic effect. “I swear that one day, dragons and minions will stand as equals!”
“You spoke about soul magic, Lord Grandrake,” Victor spoke, the older wyrm more amused by Jolie’s revolutionary ideas than anything. “I received confirmation from a higher authority that it once existed.”
“If it truly existed, then it can be relearned,” the Princess Hunter said. “I understand your trail of thoughts, minion of Vainqueur. You believe this could serve as a foundation towards long-term peace with the fairies.”
“Peace through trade.” Victor nodded.
Genialissime, who had watched the discussions without truly participating, remained doubtful. “These are truly strange times we live in,” he said. “We want to make friends with fairies, and dragons can die like minions.”
“You have reconsidered your position, Young Genialissime?” Grandrake asked his younger fellow.
“I admit my convictions have been shaken,” the dragon said. “But what my cousin did, facing death and clawing his way to victory anyway… it is inspiring. Maybe it is not such a bad way to live.”
“If you believe dragons can die, do you also think fomors can change?” Victor asked, curious.
“No,” the dragon replied. “But I am cautiously optimistic. We should try at least.”
“That is what Uncle would have wanted,” Jolie nodded.
“I am certain that he is proud of us all,” Grandrake replied, but immediately pushed for his ecological agenda. “But he would be prouder if you took your breeding duties seriously, Breeder Dalton.”
Victor sighed. Unfortunately, now that he had been recognized as regent and unmarried, the other heads of states had not so subtly approached him about dynastic alliances. King Roland Gardemagne himself lauded his niece’s beauty and intelligence in every conversation he and Victor had so far. “I have my fill of princesses, Lord Grandrake.”
Although, it might help him grind [Fiendish Rake] and rejoin Vainqueur...
Maybe when his current kids were old enough to attend Scholomance.
Leaving Jolie in Kia’s care and returning to the camp, Victor found many of his friends waiting for him. Malfy, Jules, Buzz Jelly, the Kobold Rangers, Rolo, Charlene, Allison, Noirceur the Nightmare… quite a motley of allies he had gathered across his travels.
“Hello handsome,” the dryad said, beaming at his arrival. Charlene, meanwhile, carried the teapot where Akhenapep had sealed the Tarasque Emperor; Jajambe must have helped in recovering it. “How did it go?”
“We have world peace,” the [Reaper] declared. In the background, he noticed Junior and his slimes making friends with the Gardemagnians, the mimic Witch Hut more or less shoving baby slimes in the hands of humans gushing over their cuteness. A bit farther, Averagist Dwarves pitched the value of Averagism to soldiers, encouraging them to cast down the elven bourgeoisie.
Nothing to foster friendly bonds than a shared war.
“Is it true you picked a fight with Kia Bekele?” Charlene asked, raising an eyebrow. “That doesn’t sound like peace.”
“Paladins cannot accept that their monopoly over healing magic is over,” Jules shrugged. The ghoul sounded almost happy to hear of this misadventure.
Victor sighed, still wincing from the wounds. “When a paladin and a necromancer spend too much time close, they start having unprotected Charisma checks. And when the necromancer fails the Charisma check, in spite of all his absurd bonuses, it turns into unprotected Strength checks.”
Allison chuckled, clearly amused by the rejection. “It’s not a question of charisma stats, Vic,” she said with wisdom. “It’s with whom you try. Some things are never meant to be.”
Truthfully, while he had made peace with having children—even come to desire it—Victor had enough women in his life. Having multiple dysfunctional families to manage, spending more time with Charlene, and the possibility of dynastic alliances would already be a challenge.
The [Fiendish Rake] never thought he would say this, but he didn’t mind being in the friendzone for once.
“Any news on Furibon?” Victor asked the group, worrying for the cranky lich.
“He hasn’t appeared since the battle at the castle,” Charlene said. “I suspect he survived, but Vainqueur’s ascension scared him off.”
No wonder. With Vainqueur now the supreme deity of Outremonde, the lich would look over his shoulder for the rest of his unlife.
“So what is the plan, handsome?” Allison changed the subject.
“My plan, after we clean up this mess, is to stabilize the Empire and found the Church of Vainqueur.” Without the red dragon’s greedy drive and children on the way, Victor no longer had any reason to keep adventuring. He could focus on kingdom-building, ensure the Empire kept what it had conquered, and settle the New World at his nation’s own pace. “We will build institutions, foster international trade, create alliances, reorganize the peasantry, make school mandatory—”
“That’s good to hear,” Charlene interrupted him. “But I believe she asked your plan for what we do right now.”
The vampire looked at the gathered dragon army as she said that, whose ravenous hunger had turned the countryside into an empty pantry. They had had enough fomor warbeasts and cattle to feed them so far, but they ate more in a day than Murmurin’s population in a year.
“Oh,” Victor replied. “Well, we will hold a feast to make our dragon allies happy and convince them to return to sleep afterward. Then we’ll have to figure out a way to survive the ensuing famine.”
Personally, the Vizier believed the dragons’ hunger might cause a higher death toll than the nukes.
Thankfully, his friends paid more attention to the celebration part than the unfortunate, expected aftermath.
“I agree that celebrations are in order,” Allison said with a smile, happier than Victor had ever seen her. Avoiding a nuclear annihilation and achieving world peace had put her in a cheerful mood. “We have won the war, Vainqueur is a god, and you returned to us alive. One would have been a reason enough to party.”
“Perhaps we could organize undead gladiator fights?” Jules suggested. “It would honor Vainqueur, and bring glory to the undead.”
“What about having gladiators fight demon beasts?” Malfy suggested. “Think of the PR.”
“Rolo will take on both!”
“Party!” Buzz Jelly jumped on place. “Hobo fight! Hobo fight!”
“Chief, chief!” Pink Ranger leaped on place. “Can I ask you something? Could you narrate your adventures with His Divine Majesty?”
“You want to make a book about them?” Red Ranger asked her.
“The best and most accurate ever.” The [Bard] nodded. “The Holy Book of his Divine Majesty.”
Maybe Victor hadn’t earned godhood… but life down there wasn’t all that bad.
Before the [Reaper] could open his mouth and invite everyone for a drink, an imp messenger hurriedly rushed in their direction. “Mr. Victor!” the imp shouted. “It’s happening! It’s happening!”
Victor’s eyes widened. “I need to go!”
He opened a portal to Happyland as fast as he could.
When Victor arrived, Isabelle was already breastfeeding their daughter.
The sight immediately froze the adventurer in place, for it was the most beautiful he had ever seen. His mistress was sitting on a king-sized bed, naked, as she provided a pale baby in purple silk with nourishment. His demon concubines were present, having probably helped with the birth, alongside Goblina. The goblin warlord was positively gushing over the new half-demon.
“Darling.” Isabelle smiled at her companion, both exchanging a passionate kiss.
“Vic, I am so happy for you!” Goblina said while showing her friend an advanced, gold-plated gun, “I brought her a gift, so she can shoot peasants from afar!”
“Sweetie,” Isabelle told the tiny babe in her hands, as she looked up at the newcomer with her big blue eyes. ”This is your father.”
Your father. Victor had to resist the urge to gush. “Your Daddy,” he said. “I’m your daddy, Braniña.”
“Daddy…” the little half-demon whispered with a soft voice, managing to form words already. He blamed the demon blood in her veins.
Just hearing the word made Victor squeal. “Can I?” he asked the mother, giddy with anticipation.
“Yes.” Isabelle handed him the child. “But be careful, we haven’t conceived a spare yet.”
“I'll protect her like my life depends on it,” Victor replied, before carrying the soft, tiny babe with the greatest of care.
The creature in his hands was so light, and yet so beautiful. She had skin almost as pale as her mother, although her eyes were those of a human. Besides these adorable features, she already had a patch of dark platinum hair, antennas, and tiny orange wings; no doubt his little princess would grow into a creature as enrapturing as her mother.
Time seemed to freeze while Victor carried his second child, his heir, and his light. He silently swore that he would protect her against all harms, and make sure she grew under better circumstances than he did.
Vainqueur had given him a chance to raise her. It would not go to waste.
“Daddy,” Braniña whispered.
“Yes?” Victor smiled at his daughter, ready to fulfill her every wish.
“I want a pony!” she squealed. “From Hell!”
“Everything you want, sweetie,” Victor said, kissing her on the forehead. “Everything you want.”
He had so much work to do, but the future had never seemed brighter.