“So commences the anti witch meeting number 126,” Fox said with gusto, or Sylvie rather. I’m still getting used to calling her by her real name. She slammed her makeshift gavel down on the sand. It was really just a piece of the walls she’d chipped away from the adjoining orc training room as we sat here in the sandy arena.
“Eh? Is it really like that?” Asakura asked.
“Unfortunately it is,” I said.
Asakura then suddenly raised her hand.
“Yes?” I said.
“Um do we have to wear clothes right now? Because I could…you know…” she blushed. She also looks bursting with milk right now.
“Um let’s stay focused on business,” Sylvie quipped lightly.
“I guess we should ask the necromancer to consult with us too,” I admitted.
We decided to see if his information could be useful so I brought him out.
I’m curious what Sunghee would say but I have her guarding my sleep. And unfortunately because she is guarding my sleep it means tomorrow she might be too tired to help me, since she’ll have been up part of the day, and also much of the night right after.
We also have Cid hanging out with us for only a few minutes of brief two or three minute bursts since like hell we’ll ever trust him. But part of the deal is he’s lying face down in the sand which his hands tied behind his back right after we let him out. We’d love to give him more freedom but, let’s be real. He is a human killing necromancer, even if he’s funny and way too nerdy sometimes. So we have to watch him carefully.
He spat sound out. “Whatever. I’m tired of this. Can’t you let me go?” He seems both patient and annoying at the same time.
“No,” I said.
“I have to pee,” he said.
“Go ahead,” I countered.
“Yay! So untie me now,” he said.
“That is so not going to happen, especially someone who can cast spells,” Sylvie hissed. I think he got the hint. Besides we all knew he was full of shit.
“I meant in your pants,” I said.
He frowned. “So…unfair.”
“Life is meant to be unfair,” Asakura said.
“You are a necromancer and a former enemy. I’m sorry it had to be like this. We don’t know how far we can trust you. And we still are deciding what to do with you so don’t expect a lot of mercy,” I reassured him.
Cid nodded slowly while looking seriously somber.
“Are all …necromancers like him?” Asakura asked Sylvie directly.
“What do you mean by him?” Sylvie asked.
“He kind of looks a bit …I don’t know…um I think the word is shabby,” Asakura said.
Fox…Sylvie shrugged, “I…make a point not to associate with them. I hope Shun also does the same. Also we need to get rid of him soon.” She raised an eyebrow at me and was looking at me in the eye.
Does that mean she’ll be mad if I do make contacts with them?
Honestly playing with bodies, bones, and zombies doesn’t appeal to me. It sounds really gross.
Except maybe hot vampires. But is that possible or not? There were other rumors at the inn that vampires were hot too, though a pain in the ass to survive meeting. But none of the stories seemed to be first hand accounts.
Also what’s the deal with that? Why do all undead have to be gross little dirty calcium piles that run around?
“So what do we do with him?” Sylvie voiced my thoughts while she’s scratching her chin.
“That’s the million dollar question,” Asakura said.
He’s poison, and like an automatic weapon. Would you let any thug on the street have an AK-47 in the middle of a city? If we let the necromancer go or sell him that’s pretty much what we’ll be doing, and I believe both the two girls with me knew this.
They are smart. Some of the smartest girls I knew.
Cid spat out sand some more. After all, he’s face down with his mouth and part of his face in the sand. Right now he’s not trying to push back, but I wonder what he’d do if my back were turned? I decide that’s not going to happen either.
“So we need to focus on what we can accomplish right now. We can break this problem down bit by bit and take it in pieces till we get a full answer,” Asakura said to get us focused again.
“That’s true,” Sylvie said.
“OK, I got it,” I said.
But I don’t yet. I understand the principles.
It’s like I’ve got a circle of the problem of the necromancer, and I have the witch’s circle overlapping it but not totally congruent with it. And with the same pattern I have the chance of the dwarves discovering I’m not exactly human as another overlapping part but not of all of both like before. And then there’s still the other circle arranged in the same way as the others that represents the chance of eminent death that the 3 goblin and orc armies get inside the dwarven fortress.
All of those together represent the chances of different probabilities happening together or separately or combinations of each.
“Let’s talk about the witch part first,” Asakura suggested.
“Good idea,” Sylvie nodded in agreement.
“I agree too. Help me with this. I need to make the witch pay for what she did and get Rina back,” I said.
“I’m thinking. But I’ haven’t had many dealings with witches to be honest. So I can’t suggest some secret plan for them or their weaknesses,” Fox admitted.
“Eh!?” Asakura and I are both hopeful. She didn’t say she DIDN’T have dealings with them, but just not many of them.
“So you do know something,” I suggested.
She sighed and seemed reluctant to say something. She paced back and forth while we waited. She’s very stressed out.
“Well…my mom does have a lot of past with witches and much of its good dealings but not all good. But that would complicate things to see her,” Sylvie said.
“Why is that?” I asked. I give her a pleading look.
“Don’t foxkin moms work well with their families?” Asakura asked.
That’s a good question. I wish I’d asked it first. But it does confirm to me that Asakura is probably my most valuable asset and not only for being the only one that can give me milk.
“We do, but that’s the problem. We’re too close. If she finds out Shun and I are soul linked it’s the same as us being married. You might think that’s good but it’s not in her eyes at least. If he were a foxkin ironically she’d be happy of me eloping without her knowledge, but with a human when a lot of foxkin have had tragic meetings with humans is a bit different. I’ll have to explain how that happened without her blessing. And when she finds out Shun is human she’ll probably try to kill him in much the same way some beastkin and beasts cull the weak pups from the litter. She’s not heartless but we have a long history against humans,” Sylvie said worriedly.
“EH?!” we exclaimed again.
Sylvie shrugged. “Foxkin have had a lot of misfortune when we mix with humans it’s not her fault but it’s there. It’s soured the local politics on this continent for centuries of bad things.”
“So mom’s help is out then,” Asakura murmured while thinking.
“So tell me we have a plan B,” I started to say.
“Working on it,” Sylvie said.
“I should have had a plan B when I met you guys like an extra bag of bodies for undead summons or something,” Cid said but we pushed his face back down on the sand again.
“That’s so gross,” Asakura shook her head.
“By the way Shun, don’t let him stare at us please,” she added. Without even having to reference or point anywhere I know she’s self conscious about other people staring at her giant boobs except for me. Even the other girls looking at them too long can make her nervous when she’s not under the influence of my pheromone syrup.
“OK,” I agreed.
“That’s why I want to buy as much time as possible before she finds out about Shun. For now get his power up, get things moving forward. Have him acquire more skills. And it’s also because my mother is powerful. So if she were to spare him or not be able to kill him then the game would then be for us to try to fight off my ex suitors that may try to kill him after that,” Fox said.
“Sounds like foxkin are bloody!” Cid sounded horrified.
“Good, let him think that. It may help keep him in line,” Asakura whispered in my ear so he couldn’t hear.
“Right, this coming from a necromancer?” I shot back at him.
He shrugged, “corpses don’t really use blood. So if I murder a corpse is it really murder since they are already dead? But I can’t argue you don’t have a good point in terms of ethics,” he stuck his tongue out at me.
Weird…no wonder he’s a weirdo. His tongue is …branded by some kind of demon hieroglyphics. Did he have to do that for his power? To pledge his allegiance to demons? I can’t ask him actually, not without some way of sifting through the lies and falsehoods.
He hid his tongue as soon as he’d flashed it at me.
Asakura slapped her forehead at the same time I did. This isn’t going the way we wanted.
“It’s not like that. It’s just if humans are involved then we get bloody. In Foxkin culture also you can’t take out someone’s spouse normally. It’s just if they are humans and weak. Humans are seen as symbols of betrayal rather than as being weak if that helps any but we can’t help but pick on them. Once we had a nation of foxkin and the humans were our allies. Then overnight after placing their armies around it they killed and captured many of us as slaves over a period of time, and relentless preying upon us forever afterwards. So now you know why we’re pissed against them,” Sylvie explained.
“How did you end up with her again?” Cid asked again while spitting out sand. He flashed his tongue again. He’s like a kid that just found a scab to pick.
“Don’t answer that,” Sylvie sighed. She glared at Cid with her arms folded.
“Sorry Cid but you know how interrogation works right? You tell us what we want or else,” I declined him. Though I remained polite, he’s acting like I may have to punish him again soon to keep him in line.
Yeah it won’t be long now. He’s getting cocky. Does he think he can sneak attack us? I nodded at Fox to get ready.
“You guys really take this revenge thing too far. I mean, I was just doing a job you know. It was nothing personal. You guys aren’t so bad either. I needed money to live you know. And I was trying to install a new zombie processor in my warren. So I needed the extra cash,” Cid said.
“I don’t even want to know what a zombie processor is,” Sylvie cringed, despite her being the most fearsome out of all of us.
“Necromancers are weird huh? Have you decided how we’re going to get rid of this guy?” Asakura asked me.
“I’m still deciding…” I said.
“Wait! I can tell you more! I know lots of stuff!” he panicked while saying.
Oh he picked up on us closing around him again. He’s verbally and posturally backed off again away from being aggressive.
“I know you are going to try to get loose. When you do, I’ll cut your legs off first,” Sylvie said arching her back and neck like a bear.
Cid paled. “S-sorry.”
“Quiet Cid,” Asakura said.
“Yes,” he lowered his head.
Funny how easily he’ll do anything Asakura will ask now.
“Ok for right now the main problem is that the witch wants 50 silver a day or she won’t lift the curse,” I said to Asakura and Sylvie.
“Wait, it’s 40 silver not 50,” I corrected.
“Ahh right, sorry,” she said.
“That’s tight. Even really good adventuring companies don’t make that kind of cash. And bleeding money will put any equipment upgrades and other projects on hold too,” Sylvie said worriedly.
Where would we be without being able to ask Sylvie these things anyway? She’s an invaluable source of what to do in this world.
“Well let’s go over the options,” Asakura said.
“Option one, continue to farm mine poachers for the dwarven government. It might work out as income but only if you actually get a trustworthy contact that will evaluate your mineral contents honestly. By law I can get their ores and keep them as long as it’s documented which are in goblinoid hands. At least according to the guild receptionist,” I said going over the list.
This was a recent introductory proposal sent to us within the last day that looked promising but somewhat dangerous too. There were problems with it too in another way however…
“But I’m not a geologist,” Asakura said.
“Right, where are we going to get a geologist huh?” Sylvie sighed aloud too.
Right now none of us have a geologist, which is somehow what the government wants in order for us to get this supposed premium contract job.
“I don’t have skills in that area,” I admitted.
“Neither do I,” Fox frowned.
“You may have to get one for hire. But there are going to be problems with this job, dwarves think humans are stupid. They’ll never give you a fair rate and that’s been my experience with them. And if you hire a dwarven geologist he’ll expect he gets more loot and money than you do and that you are his ‘assistant’s,” Cid said.
“Dang it. I hate to admit it but he’s right,” Asakura scratched her head.
“Wait, he’s useful now suddenly?” Sylvie looked at Cid funny.
“What? I used to be honest once before I turned to crime. But you know actually robbing the dead isn’t a crime because there are no living victims see,” Cid said with a freaky ass chuckle and absolutely no shame.
We discussed this for several minutes. I actually want to talk about helping Rina more but we don’t have any clues at the moment. And we don’t want to go off all half cocked. Plus, the hope is that a clue in an another area might help unlock things in that area.
Of course Cid volunteered to help but it’s clear he doesn’t actually know geology or identifying ore like we think he does. And I don’t dare risk setting him lose.
Why haven’t I killed him yet anyway?
We argued this option for a little while going over various plans but nothing seems to fit.
“So how would you get a geologist or someone with mining and smelting abilities?” I asked Cid.
“You wouldn’t approve of my method,” he said unexpectedly.
“That’s probably true huh. I’m already guessing in my mind what your method is,” I said.
Rather than making him mad, my comment made his eyes twinkle with mischief. Yep, Cid is definitely a creepy little scum.
“More than just probably,” Asakura said dryly.
“So how would you do it exactly, just to clarify and confirm?” Sylvie asked him.
“Um…sorry don’t punish me for saying this but…I’d either kidnap someone or make a zombie with those abilities. I could also plant spies in funeral parlors around the city and figure out who had just died with the skills I needed. And it’d only cost me money for the spies and lookouts for when I loot the graves. Isn’t that badass,” he chuckled as a statement of pride rather than a question.
“Not badass, not badass at all,” Asakura groaned.
“So he’s a kidnapper too,” Asakura whispered in my ear so he couldn’t hear.
I nodded slowly.
“Yeah not even close to being badass,” Sylvie said right after.
Cid looks puzzled and doesn’t understand why we don’t think his nerdy punk ass is both grossly wanting to throw up bad and bat shit crazy. “What? Don’t you admire my cool skillz?”
“Skills hmm,” Sylvie scratched her, not knowing what to say in response.
“Yeah that’s not an option,” I said.
“I agree,” Asakura said.
“I’m so glad you didn’t agree. That means you were the right one to be with,” Sylvie said tearfully while giving me a look of admiration. She gives me a hug while she’s draped around me from behind. The others naturally look jealous for various reasons.
Unexpectedly a possible solution came up. It’s not one I like though.
“You know we ran into Saiya and Akira,” I said.
“Right the earth mage girl huh, I wonder if that might work?” Asakura asked.
“I doubt it, but maybe they know geologist people that aren’t dwarves?” I suggested.
“That’s a possibility, people in the same profession tend to know each other,” Sylvie noted.
“Those people are trouble. I was surprised that they ditched us but that’s just a signal they aren’t trustworthy. I would be careful how you deal with them and not all if possible. And don’t let them know where you are sleeping at night for any reason,” Asakura said shaking her head.
“I agree with her,” Sylvie said.
“I agree too,” Cid said.
What he’s part of the time now? Screw that. No way I’ll accept that. I’m glad the permanently naked Doppel-chan isn’t anywhere near him or us. And we won’t let him have an opinion either.
He doesn’t even know, he’s just trying to make us let him go free.
“It would be a lot of trouble and not worth it. Avoid them,” Asakura chimed in again.
“True, but…she’s an earth mage. I’m pretty sure she’d have a mentor in the field or connected though. Don’t you think that’s worth a try?” I asked.
“So we set up like some sort of fake contact to do the work through them without them knowing its us right?” Sylvie’s ears pricked up as she said it.
“Oh I like it,” Asakura said.
“That might work,” I said.
“Those earth mage guys are usually wealthy if they can figure out how to use their skills right. The problem is that they don’t like to share,” Cid seemed highly interested now.
Asakura kicked him just to be safe.
“I’ll be quiet. I promise,” he said.
“That’s true. She actually would be able to do that. Being of the earth element she probably hasn’t done it often but it’s natural for them to be able to identify which ores are valuable while we hunt mine poachers,” Sylvie said while her tails swished in the air.
I then explained the problem is how to get someone who won’t cheat and say this is trash let’s throw it away. Oh let me hang onto the trash for you. And that’s a common problem in medieval worlds. You need many people to have economic skills to keep each other honest. But then you can’t have the ones that have each other’s skills form a faction with each other against the person that doesn’t know as much either.
In short, people are hard to trust on any world.
I scratched my head.
And how much loss compared to income also came up. But this mine guarding and harvesting idea is interesting. But there are other problems too.
For example if the dwarves are bringing outsiders into a mine to get poachers it usually means two things; either it’s a dangerous mine that they can’t do themselves, or it’s a mine that’s already thought to be past its glory days with few miners willing to risk becoming poor by going there. Neither situation is perfect, but if we really had a geologist of some ability that might help us overcome these two hurdles.
Then we’d be able to buy time to save Rina.
We continue to try to brainstorm for another thirty minutes without wanting to mention Rina in front of Cid. There’s some unwritten unexplainable worry that I can’t let someone like Cid who’s kidnapped people before know a hot girl like Rina was snatched from us. It doesn’t feel safe to let slip out but he already does subtlely pick up that we’re very worried about something because he’s no dummy.
Part of the issue too in moving forward is that the quality of jobs from the adventurer’s guild have dropped to fewer in number because everyone is on alert for military duty summons’ having a possibility of going off at any minute. There could even be a total freeze or lock down of all jobs at any given point according to the three of them.
Eventually they’ll have to put people on the fortress walls and the tunnel entrances. And I doubt I’ll make 40 silver a day just doing some military grunt job that anyone can do. And I don’t want to deplete my savings either. I have to go forward somehow.
It’s puzzling to why that hasn’t happened yet either with the enemy making a move on the fortress. What could the enemy be planning?
“You know I’m bored up here,” Doppel-chan finally said looking down from above at us from the edge of the cage with only her chin and face sticking out against the bars . Her sudden interest in us isn’t good at all. That part I don’t like.
Huh? Her pheromone soup didn’t make her sleep for as long as I thought it would. Do I need to up the dosage? It got really quiet suddenly when we looked up. Even Cid can feel she’s not someone to mess with.
“Eh? Who’s she again? And why does she kind of look like the foxgirl? And…why does she feel so …dangerous?” Cid asked.
Hmm, so Cid has some danger sense skill doesn’t he? I suppose that might be necessary in a necromancer’s line of work.
“You don’t need to worry about her. But for your own sake don’t go near her or you’ll probably lose your life or a few limbs,” I said.
“Right…” he croaked.
I can see the look of fear on his face though. He can sense and feel that all of us are uneasy around her.
Several seconds pass by while eyeing each other.
“Be careful around her,” Asakura said to Cid, for his own good.
The likelihood of Doppel-chan being willing to work with Cid is like so low its negative. Hell I’m the only one with even a positive probability actually and even for me it’s low. But she may try to deceive him or anyone else that goes near the cage and kill them. Doppelganger rules we still haven’t figured out yet but it seems that they don’t play well with others.
“I can help,” Doppel-chan suddenly said.
We blinked in silence for a few seconds. It’s rare that Doppel-chan says anything good. We’re wondering if its serious or a trick.
“Let me help,” Doppel-chan again suggested.
“What?” Asakura looked at her with horror.
None of us dared say anything.
We aren’t sure what to say actually.
“This has to be some kind of trick,” Sylvie said.
“I don’t know. She doesn’t look as vicious this time,” I said.
Doppel-chan chuckled. “Of course it is a trick partly but not wholly. What do you expect from a trickster? But I’m good at being tricky. I think you really, really need tricky in cases like this. You need someone who always wins and you can’t argue that I don’t, except for when you caged me. Nobody has ever caged me before, but even if you caged me you didn’t defeat me really. These bars are a pain in the ass. I hate that they sap my strength. Makes fighting this cage a pain. And then that makes me sleepy. Have I told you how much I get tired of being sleepy?”
“Hey she’s pretty huh?” Cid said.
“Don’t even think about it. She belongs to Shun,” Sylvie said.
“I don’t have time for your games. We’re trying to save our friend,” I said to Doppel-chan.
“Ahh pooh…can’t you just try to give me a chance,” Doppel-chan asked politely. She tried to smile winningly but it ended out coming out devilishly like a cat peeking into a mouse hole.
“NO way!” Asakura and Fox both said at once.
“Not even if I show you my cookie again?” Doppel-chan asked. She puts her hand over the top of her miniskirt.
The girls force Cid’s head into the sand as he angrily has to spit up sand before he could react.
“Stop! Stop that! Sylvie said.
“Hey none of that around the guest,” I said.
“OK fine,” Doppel-chan said.
“It’s no use Cid. Even if you could peek you are on the ground, and she’s like thirty feet above us. You can’t see anything,” Asakura said.
Cid is spitting up sand still while cursing.
“Hey Shun. Please look at me! I’ll make it worth your while!” Doppel-chan sounded temptingly sweet with her soft alluring voice.
Then she tossed her shirt down. She’s topless again after we’d tried to get her to wear clothes about an hour ago. She’s not just resistant to being under my thumb but also resistant to clothes.
Fox kicked sand in Cid’s eyes before he could look.
I’m just glad they didn’t kick sand in my eyes. And they still are nice to me somehow. Pheromone syrup is wonderful.
“ahh! ACK! Fuck! No! I need hope! Please! Let me look!” Cid cursed.
“Nooo!” I heard the echo after he disappeared. I de-summoned him for now.
I almost laughed but I want to not have anyone see the girls I’m taking care of, even if it’s Doppel-chan.
Above us Doppel-chan’s arms and head are hanging near the edge but she’s back just enough that we can’t see the rest of her. She’s only tempting us, not allowing us to see…but I won’t take any chances.
“Will you let me go now? Please!?” Doppel-chan called out. Tempting her way out might work on some people but not on me. And if she is a doppelganger, the top blouse she took off, was it really a shirt or just skin that she’d shed actually? We’d tried to get her to wear clothes but we didn’t know if she could make illusions, or shed skin or if that was one of the real clothes we’d given her? All of her clothes might actually just be skin or whatever illusion tricks doppelgangers use.
“Why do you do that? You know Shun is strong and has high will power. He won’t fall for your tricks!” Asakura shook a fist at her.
I’m glad she has confidence in me. I’m not that confident though, because Doppel-chan has the best characteristics of Sunghee and Fox together actually.
“Oh please! This coming from the boob queen?” Doppel-chan stood up with her hands on her hips.
Asakura flipped her off while standing next to me. She has to protest that kind of taunt. “Sh-she’s wrong Shun. I’m not a boob queen am I?!” Asakura glanced at me worriedly.
Hmm actually she is but…I can’t say that can I.
“Yeah actually you are,” Sylvie said.
“Don’t worry about what they think. I like how you are,” I said.
“Oh good! Thanks Shun!” Asakura couldn’t help but smile.
“Can you be quiet? This is serious! We are trying to save someone. And we need money and access to anti-witch weaponry, which you clearly can’t help us with,” I said to Doppel-chan.
“Let’s go to the other room. We don’t want Cid knowing anything else anyway,” Sylvie said.
We’re about to leave when Doppel-chan calls out to us. “Please! Don’t leave me in here forever!”
We keep walking.
“Shun. I can make you a trade. I absolutely without a shadow of a doubt can help you. I have access to what you need to save that other girl. Her name was…hmm Rina right?” she called back to us.
I feel tempted. She’s saying just the right things. But is it a trick? Inside me I think it’s a trick but I can’t help but feel desperate to save Rina.
“Forget her she knows how to push your buttons,” Asakura put a hand on my shoulder. She has sad eyes. I somehow glanced at Asakura and her chest that’s sticking way out. I didn’t mean to but Asakura saw it. She’s not mad though but happy. On my other side Sylvie places a hand on my shoulder. From her height she sort of looks down towards us to talk, and it makes her legs look really long.
Sadly they are both right.
“Hehe, I like being taller. It makes both of you look so cute,” she said.
I’m tempted to listen.
“I’ll swear it on the honor of the demon lord that I will not deal falsely with you. Just hear me out,” Doppel-chan said.
Fox stopped in her tracks. “Stop. What did you say?!” she’s shocked.
Asakura and I were about to go forward when Fox stopped us. We’d also almost reached the arena entrance too. “What does that mean something?” she asked.
“yeah it does,” Cid said.
“Hey, I think she’s telling the truth. Not many demons will risk swearing on the demon lord’s honor,” Sylvie explained.
Could it be she has a way to rescue us from this hell?
I’m actually a bit curious.
“Fine. I’ll listen but don’t trust her. And don’t let her out of that cage no matter what!” Asakura said glowering at Fox.
“She’s right. It will work but don’t trust me. Keep me locked up here, but while I’m locked up I can still help you. And I’m the only one out of anyone in this whole wide world that can help you too,” Doppel-chan said.
“Eh?” I looked at her carefully regarding her coolly.
“But it won’t be for free OK? I just don’t do free stuff. I want one of those milkshakes you gave me yesterday. Those were so yummy,” Doppel-chan said while giving me a look full of lust and sex.
No way…was it actually working?! Or how far is it working is the question. She’s into the pheromone syrup shakes we made finally.
Could this mean we might get to actually put her to use?
Asakura’s mouth was hanging open like a dead fish. “What?” she exclaimed together with Sylvie.
“I don’t believe it,” I said.
“Milkshake now! Kneel before my…” Doppel-chan started to say.
“Cut the crap bitch. We’ll give you a milk shake alright but you have to help us. Or I’ll tear your face off with my bare hands if you betray us,” Asakura said angrily.
“That part about kneeling before her power can’t be good,” I said.
Sylvie was covering her face with her hands while peeking between the slit between her fingers. “I guess that means you two better get busy fucking to make me more milkshakes.”
“OK, time to put Cid away,” Asakura stated flatly with force.
“Ahh man, just don’t make me eat any more sand please!” Cid said.
+ Determination to get back at Lottie up
+ Determination to make money up
Possibilities of getting more money up if we can recruit a geologist
Still haven’t figured out how to get back Rina and make Lottie pay…though at some point the pheromone syrup will be involved.