Misadventures Incorporated

by

Spicy Space Squid

Chapter 54.5 - The Librarian, the Pervert, and the Grouch

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Chapter 54.5 - The Librarian, the Pervert, and the Grouch

Sylvia Redleaf hummed a mesmerising tune as she went about her everyday chores. Most of them had already been completed; it was late into the afternoon, and the orange fuzzball had spent the entire day adulting. She caught three fish, dug a dozen holes, and peed on every sleeping mirewulf she came across. They were all principal duties, but none were as important as the responsibility that had eaten the latter half of her day, chasing butterflies around the meadow.

The proctor was by no means the dungeon’s best bugchaser, but what she lacked in skill, she made up for with diligence. She never shirked her duty, often putting extra hours despite openly voicing a countless number of complaints. She knew how important it was. The lost library couldn’t possibly retain its function without all its monarchs herded. Failing to redirect them could amount to a torch’s untimely death and a subsequent deviation from the plan—not that the plan was always followed to begin with. Her own birth served as quintessential evidence to the contrary.

“Finally! That took forever. I can’t believe this one ran all the way to Borrok Peak. Geez,” huffed the fox.

She had been active for more than seven consecutive hours, but her magic had kept her from tiring. The vixen had next to no stamina. Without the occasional vigour-restoring note, she would have found herself long beyond the brink of exhaustion. A perfect illustration of the duality of bardkind.

“I wonder what Claire’s up to.” Sylvia yawned as she stood up on her hind legs and stretched her spine.

“Care to find out?” A man wearing a crooked pointy hat walked out of the tree next to her. One of his hands rested atop an old oaken staff while the other stroked his beard. “I was just about to go through a few of her recordings myself.”

“Oh, sure! It’s been a whole five turns since I last saw her and I haven’t really had a chance to check anything since Mom’s been hogging the terminal. She’s really paranoid that Dad’s gonna cheat on her the moment she takes an eye off him so she freaks out whenever I try using it.”

“Right.” The wizard pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ll have to get you one of those later. I nearly forgot about Dixie’s… tendencies.”

“Yeah, Mom’s a bit weird. She’s really nice most of the time, but she always gets really on edge if Dad doesn’t show up for more than a cycle.”

“I just hope that doesn’t also run in the family,” said the celestial.

“Hey! What’s that supposed to mean? There’s no way I could be anywhere near as crazy as Mom!”

“She was relatively normal before she suddenly got attached to a torch.”

“I’m not even really that attached!”

“You clearly are,” argued the old mage. “You’re not even sure if you should be manipulating her anymore.”

“Oh, shush! You’re only saying that because you know I’m still not over it yet.”

“Maybe I am.”

Alfred smiled as he tapped his cane against the forest’s floor and shifted the pair to his quarters. There was no transition, no smoothening or filter. One moment, they were surrounded by trees and grass, and in the next, they were situated in front of a warm, cozy fireplace with books and shelves on all sides. But that wasn’t all that had happened. The demigod’s magic went beyond mere transportation.

Both parties were placed atop chairs formed just prior to their arrival. If not for the mana that leaked from the perfectly imperfect spells, the seats would have been invisible. They were constructed entirely of conflicting vectors numbering in the hundreds of thousands. The display was certainly an impressive one, but even though she understood just how awe-inspiring it was meant to be, the Llystletein woodfox thought nothing of it. She was desensitized to the celestial’s antics; it had been over a decade since she last took notice of his mastery.

A wand that appeared out of thin air waved itself and created a large display for the pair to observe. It sat right in front of the fireplace and took up nearly the whole wall, hiding the crackling flames behind its dark crystalline base.

The old man teleported a pipe into his hand as he settled into his seat. “Whatever the case, I wouldn’t be too stressed about it. There are a few things I’m not quite over yet myself.” He took a long slow drag, puffing out a cloud in the shape of a lanky man before resuming. “Like that time the goddess of order panicked and threw a fit? Can you believe she banned catgirls from entering the library? How am I supposed to get to them if I’m stuck in here and they’re stuck out there!? All this because she didn’t want me to become the next god of life! I don’t understand!”

“Didn’t that whole sequence of events only happen because you were being really creepy?”

“Does it really matter?” said Alfred with a grumble. “I’m the only celestial that’s figured out the trick to creating real life. None of the gods have got it under their belts either. They can do cheap imitations at best,” he said, leaning back into his chair. “The last creator god has been dead for thousands of years. Why not let me take over?”

“Because you’re a pervert, duh!” said Sylvia. “I don’t think it matters how good you are if you’re a total weirdo.”

“Weirdo is a tad bit of a stretch, isn’t it? I’m not that bad.”

“Gosh, Al, you’re such a liar. Are you forgetting that you made it so that the mirewulves don’t grow up if we don’t pee on them? If that’s not being a weirdo, I don’t know what is!”

“That is a misunderstanding,” he said, his voice almost perfectly steady. Almost. “That is only because stricter conditions allow for a drastic increase in power from the same budget. And besides, Llystletein fox urine is highly nutritious and rich in magical residue. It’s the perfect fertilizer.”

“Yeah, but you could’ve chosen anything else! You could’ve just made it so they’d get really big and strong if they were watered at really specific times and stuff! But you had to go and make it about pee. You don’t have to hide it, Al, we all know you’re a pervert.”

“Ok, fine. Maybe I do happen to have a few peculiar interests, but I still wouldn’t say I’m much of a ‘weirdo.’ I certainly don’t mind being described as a pervert, but I prefer to think of myself as a gentleman with a healthy interest in the opposite sex, a connoisseur of sorts.”

“If you say so, Al, if you say so,” said Sylvia, as she flopped onto her belly. “So what are we gonna watch? Is it something exciting?”

“Well, we can either watch her climb the mountain, or we can watch her fight. Take your pick.”

“Mountain climbing sounds really boring, almost as boring as the time you made me watch her wander around the marsh. I still can’t believe you made me sit through all that! What the heck was even the point?”

“I thought it was rather entertaining. Can you believe she thought the candle was guiding her? She didn’t even notice when I shifted her around. Quite comical, really.”

The dark crystal screen that was the display flickered to life as the degenerate waved his wand. On it was the halfbreed, face to face with one of the cyclops that the celestial called watchers. It wasn’t the most creative name, but neither was it entirely offensive. Only slightly, as all things should be.

“Mmmmnnn… Claire’s a bit weird. It’s kinda hard to get a read on her because she acts funny. The other day, she was talking in her sleep and repeating a bunch of things in some really weird language. I had no idea what she was saying, but it was hardly ever any different. She must’ve said that one phrase like a thousand times in one night!”

The fox’s tail flicked from side to side as she recalled the memory. The movement was rhythmic but uneven, starting slowly on each side and suddenly accelerating after a brief delay.

“Ahhh… yes, that. I remember seeing something similar. Even noted a few strange happenings before the bug in her log was destroyed.” Alfred raised a hand to his chin and stroked his beard. “One way or another, she managed to gain a new skill in her sleep. Quite abnormal, quite abnormal indeed.”

“Wait, it was destroyed?” Sylvia’s tail and ears shot up, standing vertically as she turned from the screen and blinked at the ancient human. “Uhhmmm… Doesn’t that mean… uhmmm… divine intervention? Are you sure you should let her be a torch? That’s starting to sound like a really bad idea.”

“It doesn’t matter. You weren’t planning on seeing the process through either way.”

“I don’t know… I might, but I’m not sure. And now I’m really not sure.” The fox’s ears drooped. “I do kinda want to see the outside world just to know what it’s like, but I’m not like Grant. I’m pretty happy here in Llystletein already, and I kinda think it’d be okay if nothing ever changed.”

“Because you like chasing the monarchs around?”

The furball averted her eyes. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

The question prompted a sigh and a long drag from the man’s pipe. “Sometimes, I regret making you foxes.” He pressed his brow into his hands, frowning as he slowly shook his head from side to side. “I knew I should’ve tested the prototype catgirl circuitry on something else. For ‘helpers,’ your mental facilities are… not exactly ideal.”

“What happened to catgirls being perfect?”

“They are. Their feline impulses are a part of their charm, but this and that are different.”

“No they aren't!”

“Enough about that, child.” The wizard pointed to the crystalline screen. “The fight’s starting.”

“Wait, she’s fighting one of the watchers? Wow! That one looks like a strong natural variant too. Is he from the herd?”

“Yes, he’s one of their hunters. Quite the impressive fellow, really. Though I can’t say I was expecting them to fight.”

Alfred pulled his pipe from his lips and emptied it against the arm of his chair. The burnt leaves were carried off to a garbage bin by a gust of wind, another perfectly constructed set of vectors. “She was supposed to befriend him and have him help her plan out her attack. Very interesting, how this has gone. With her behaviour the way it is, I’m surprised she didn’t attack you on sight.”

“I bet it’s because I’m cute. Look at how fluffy and adorable my tail is!”

“Cute? No, no, that isn’t right. You don’t meow enough to be cute,” said Alfred. “That reminds me, I almost can’t believe you’ve managed to trick her into thinking you’re just another one of the forest’s critters. You’re a terrible liar. What happened to everything I taught you? I could’ve sworn I gave you a three-day-long lecture on the art of deception just the other week.”

“I dunno! I tried, but somehow, it just doesn’t really work. I don’t know why,” said Sylvia. “But it’s not about how I do it, right? Just that I do?”

“Yes, but I don’t understand. You’ve clearly been outed for several lies already. It’s a wonder that she still trusts you.”

“I think she just doesn’t really care,” said Sylvia with her eyes on the screen. “I’m not really sure why thou—oh wow! That spitting thing she just did was really neat.”

“It was, yes. Likely some sort of racial trait,” agreed the celestial. “But that doesn’t explain the magic...”

“Hmmm?”

“How is she adapting so well to force magic? It’s supposed to be useless if you don’t spend a few too many hours using it to engage in autoeroticism. Picking it was meant to be a poor choice, but for her, it seems to be paying off, one way or another.”

“Well um… I’m not really sure about the whole autoeroticism thing, but I think it might be because she’s got good intuition. It’s kinda like when she fought the hellhog. Remember that? That was really dumb, and I thought she was dead for sure but she pulled it off because she just kinda knew how she was supposed to kill it!”

“That was quite the surprise, yes. I was convinced that the watcher would kill her as well, but it seems she’s proving herself rather resilient.”

The battle taking place on the screen was already over. One of its two participants lay in a pool of blood, while the other was basking in the glory and relief of a level up.

“Wait, what is she doing, sawing off its leg like that?” Alfred crossed his arms and leaned forward, his brow furrowed and wrinkly as his hat. “I wonder if she’s going to shove it up its arse and get some of that good old revenge.”

“Ummm… I’m not really sure about that, exactly...” muttered Sylvia. “Oh wait! I bet it’s because she’s half lamia, and they don’t do too well in the cold. She’s probably gonna use it to make something and warm up.” The fox made a sewing motion with her paw.

“Ahhh, yes, right. Half gorgonian lamia, half bloodwinged cer—”

“Wait, wait wait! Stop! You’re gonna spoil it!” Sylvia shouted as she pounced across the room and pressed her paws against the human’s lips. “I was having so much fun trying to get her race out of her! You can’t just tell me all of a sudden! What the heck, Al! That was awful and you know it!”

“Right, I forgot that she never told you,” he chuckled sheepishly as he grabbed her by the scruff and set her down on an armrest. “My apologies.”

“You owe me a snack later, some nice fish or something,” said the fox. “She was being really secretive about it for some weird reason. I’m not really sure why she didn’t want to tell me. Wait, are you sure it starts with a ‘cer?’ Her ears make her look an awful lot like a rabbit. She kept telling me she wasn’t one, but she might’ve just been lying. I don’t think a rabbit and a lamia could have kids though. That doesn’t really seem possible.”

“A question about interbreeding? I can say with confidence that you’ve come to the right person.” Alfred smirked before inhaling another lungful of smoke. “As the prospective god of life, I can assure you that while it is unlikely, it’s not outright impossible. You see, lamian genetali—”

“Shut up, Al! I don’t want to know!” Sylvia once again used her forelimbs to silence the celestial. “You’ve already taught me way too many weird things! I still remember that weird, super in-depth lecture about foxes and elves! I really, really, really don’t want to know!”

“Well… your loss, I suppose.” Alfred shrugged. “It would’ve been a rather entertaining explanation.”

“No thank you!”

A wide boyish grin appeared on Alfred’s face. It was entirely unsuited to a man with thousands of years under his belt, but somehow seemed natural nonetheless. “Oh, I think I should mention, Sylvia, the spoiler was entirely intentional.”

“Ughhhh… I really hate you sometimes, Al! You’re so mean. This is why you’re still single.”

“I’m only single because Flitzy refuses to acknowledge beauty in perversion,” grumbled the celestial. “Damned snob and her rules. I don’t see why she doesn’t think I’d make a good god.”

“Maybe a good god of perversion…”

“I wouldn’t mind that at all,” said the celestial. “It would be perfect, in fact. I could force fetishes onto people without any prior warning.”

“Don’t you already do that?” The fox raised a brow. “Because I’m pretty sure you’ve been forcing all the torches to like catgirls and stuff, and then there were all those pranks you played on Grant, like that time you made it so he couldn’t eat berries anymore.”

“Well, yes, but it’s not quite the same. With another ascension, I would gain the power to give out fetishes the way other gods give out blessings. I could give them to everyone and anyone without recourse.” Alfred rubbed his hands together as a dark smile came across his face. “Wouldn’t it be fun to give all the worst fetishes to the people you hate?”

“Al… I just want you to know, I’m judging you right now. You’re being really weird.”

“Listen, Sylvia. Just listen.”

“...Fine.”

“Imagine Grant.”

“Mhm?”

“You know how he hates children? Imagine if…”

“Please don’t finish that thought, Al.”

“Too late, my dear child. Far too late!”

Alfred fought back a fit of laughter, slamming his hand into his chair over and over. Soon joining the racket was the creaking of a door. An older fox with a winter coat entered the room, a basket of grilled greens in tow.

“Oh, speak of the devil,” said Alfred, between chortles.

Grant looked at him for a moment before setting down the basket and slowly shaking his head. “You better not have been thinking of screwing with my fetishes again.”

“What the heck! How did you know?” asked Sylvia, wide-eyed.

“Alfred! How many times does this make it… You even started the damned replay without me, you old coot!”

The older fox picked up a nearby book and hurled it at the head librarian. It whizzed through the air, nearly breaking the sound barrier, but of course, it failed to reach the celestial, stopping in place just before it did.

“Sylvia, please!” said Alfred, with a groan. “I know you’re a terrible liar, but you really didn’t have to out me like that.”

“It’s not like it’d make a difference! He already knew!”

“I did have a feeling, yes,” agreed Grant.

With two judging glares staring him down, the old celestial found himself awkwardly clearing his throat and turning his eyes to the screen. “Right, so anyway, she doesn’t really do anything for a while. Let’s skip ahead. If the dungeon’s logs are to be believed, something interesting should be happening not too long after she awakens.”

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Spicy Space Squid

Bio: Surprisingly tangy and delicious.

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