43- I Hope You Don’t Forget
The new elf was not like the old elf. She was ashen of skin, white of hair, and had impenetrable black eyes with red pupils. The black extended to where the whites of her eyes ought to have been. She was dressed in loose, flowing clothes belted at the waist, like a martial arts gi only semi-transparent and revealing her lithe body, a dark mirror of Auralla. She also had a pair of short swords behind her back, easily drawn by reaching behind her.
Damn but I missed Auralla.
The new elf regarded me impassively, though her eyes darted to the other women in the room and took in an awful lot of information. I dismissed further thoughts about spying; it was already happening. Also, this was wartime, and I’d just scored a victory down here, so it was less likely she had been sent to spy. Also the term ‘magekiller’ meant the Governor had supplied her for a very specific purpose.
Ryellin’s magekiller aura ability had come from another one of these elves, I bet. The Governor had specifically supplied her to fuck, and cultivate her magekiller ability.
“I’m Evan,” I told her.
“I know,” she replied flatly.
“This is the part where you introduce yourself.”
“Sechelle,” she said, and didn’t elaborate. Well, relationship established regardless. And also, fuck that. I wasn’t ready to handle another Hellera. She could handle the cold shoulder just as well as Hellera, I guessed.
I turned to the others. “Okay, we’re going to see about this chest and then move out.”
I peered down at the coin in my hand, and concentrated on it with my magic senses.
Storage Vessel: Copper Coin
Dimensional storage, unsurpassed quality, enchanted
Qualities: Never dulls or rusts, unbreakable, heightened effect, emits no aura
Abilities: This storage vessel contains space for up to 15 tons of materials by weight. Press against the vessel with your Attuned attribute and concentrate to produce the inventory to add or retrieve items.
I gave off a low whistle, and more when I peered inside it to find a bevy of items. Not fifteen tons’ worth, but a lot. Most importantly I discovered a number of healing potions and cleansing potions, on top of Bronze tier weapons. The first few I brought out weren’t your ordinary items, but had a non-soulbound effect each: flaming, forceful, electric, void-touched, celestial, and others. They didn’t require a specific shout, and they likely wouldn’t be as powerful as Giskennen’s uncooperative axe. Unlike the axe, they could be used immediately. One maul and one axe would be for me.
I handed out weapons and made sure to ignore the new elf who was supposed to help me win. I also pointedly didn’t hand a weapon to Hellera, who was staring at Velleth with a complicated series of emotions roiling over her face.
I grabbed up the brutal axe as well, before anyone got any stupid ideas, then made my way to Velleth.
She was staring around in confusion.
“What do you remember?”
“Quavallie dragged me under, but then all the rocks came down and separated us. I think they hurt her… she couldn’t get an air bubble around my head.”
“I couldn’t gather enough air,” Quavallie added, looking pained to admit her failure. “The pool was covered.”
I nodded, and reached down to help her up. When she stood, I embraced her, and peered around at the others. “What we discussed before is over. If you disagree with my judgement, you’re free to leave, but if you stay we won’t be discussing it again. The matter is closed.”
Shennalil was the first to lay a hand on my shoulder, and another on Velleth’s. I heard Quavallie emerge from the pool and approach as well, but Fayeen was next to lay a hand on my shoulder, then another on Velleth’s. Dallinya followed, as did Quavallie, leaving Hellera and the new girl still not with us.
Finally, I felt Hellera’s hand on my shoulder, and saw her hand come to rest on Velleth as well. The blue-skinned trickster raised her head and locked a teary gaze with Hellera.
“You’re staying?” I asked Hellera.
“Let’s get to work.”
“What about her?” Quavallie asked.
I turned to regard the new girl. She stood in a loose combat stance, regarding all of us with that same expressionless face, as though she might have to kill us at any moment and was fine with that.
“She’ll learn how we do things eventually.”
Shennalil fluttered over toward the gray-skinned elf, and landed, looking up at her.
“Are you with us?” she asked
Sechelle nodded curtly.
“Then come on. This is how they do it. It’s how we do it.” She took Sechelle by the hand, and when the new girl didn’t shake her off, led her over to where we were all standing. Finally, she put Sechelle’s hand on my butt cheek, slid it down below the leather skirt, and up over my bare naked ass. Sechelle snatched her hand away, but Shennalil was giggling, and Fayeen soon followed. They high fived one another.
“You’ve been spending too much time with Fayeen and Avya,” I groused, but with no venom. Sechelle however glanced around at the assembled party in confusion. This clearly wasn’t going the way she expected.
The last thing Quavallie had found from rubble pile of the dead elemental’s body was a large golden key. It fit into the large treasure chest smoothly, and the catch was well oiled. The lid popped open, though it had to be hauled the rest of the way by Hellera, Dallinya and me working in unison. Fucker was heavy.
A puff of ancient dust came out, and Shennalil fluttered up next to me to peer at the chest’s contents. The others were up on tiptoe to look down inside.
“Is the dungeon core supposed to be a naked woman?” Fayeen asked.
“Do you think she’s a monster?” Dallinya asked.
“So none of you have ever seen anything like this?” I asked, and the rest of them confirmed it.
The girl inside had skin and hair of literal gold. She was either a very convincing statue or a real person in magical stasis, and neither of those computed. She was beautiful, perfectly formed in every respect, from the body shape, the full breasts, the tight musculature, to the sloping cheekbones and her hair splayed out against the bottom of the huge chest, catching the light bouncing off the ceiling from the pools and gleaming.
I concluded that nobody would’ve sculpted a woman with hair fanned out like that, and I was proven right a moment later when she floated up off the chest’s bottom to where I could reach forward and take hold of her. As soon as I did so, the magic levitating her upwards stopped and she fell into my arms.
She wasn’t heavy, but it was awkward getting her head and feet above the edge of the chest, but Shennalil and Sechelle were there to help out.
As it turned out, she was… an item.
Avatar of Innarine
mythical quality construct
Qualities: currently unknown
Abilities: currently unknown
You do not yet possess the tier or abilities to fathom the Avatar’s qualities or abilities. You may attempt to unlock this knowledge by magical means, or by increasing your tier.
You do not yet possess the means or tier to bring Innarine’s Avatar to life. You may attempt the activation at Gold tier, with the proper activation items.
“I don’t even know what to do with…this. Her.”
That clinched it. The gorgeous gold woman disappeared into my new copper coin storage space. We had too much going on and nothing right now as going to give us any answers regarding her. Even with answers, there was no chance Bronze me was going to be able to bring her to life anyway.
Unfortunately the golden chest held no other treasures aside from sleeping beauty there, so it was time to get a move on. Before we did, I needed to take stock. I had a lot of stored messages from the evolving user interface. A lot of them were congratulations on starring up with various attributes, or gaining ranks in certain skills (Dodge was a big one, but also Grit and more ranks of Edged Melee and Blunt Melee). A lot of messages were about the damage I’d taken and the conditions I’d suffered through, a few were about looting the corpses of monsters, and one was about killing the Master of Mage District. Some of them were the relationship setbacks from the showdown over Velleth. My relationship with Hellera was barely a half star above Bronze. If we pissed each other off a bit more, I could kiss the mana bonuses and dragon transformation goodbye.
Honestly, it would be annoying to live without it, but I’d make do. I’d just deal with the lack of mana somehow. I couldn’t have someone in my midst who was constantly trying to undermine my decisions or the group.
Which immediately caused me to glance at Sechelle.
Oddly, she reminded me of my ex, Jen. The shape of the face and the loose ponytail were the two clear similarities. Jen had been quite sexual, but never wore see-thru martial arts gear, or went out as a slate gray elf for Halloween, but the bearing and the bone structure were similar. The boobs too, oddly enough, a couple of nice B cup handfuls with similarly sized nipples.
I tore my eyes away and admonished myself. I had all kinds of beautiful female flesh surrounding me, and suddenly there’s someone new and it gives me an instant homesickness boner? Get it together, Evan.
I focused on my stats. I didn’t know what would happen when I made it to Silver, but… oh, never mind.
I was still a hell of a long way off from filling anything with seven stars. Clever had two totally empty star slots, while Sly showed I wasn’t sneaking around or tricking anyone nearly enough. The third star of Sly looked to be about 90% full, but that was guesswork. Similar to the fourth star of Fierce, which I figured was going to come in shortly.
And only three stars of Charming? Really? Hadn’t I charmed the pants off like eight women so far? How much mind-blowing sex did a guy have to do to earn some validation around here?
Maybe the sex was the reward in and of itself, and I needed to accept that.
The first star into Bronze had been a quick get, but from then on each star had been a longer and longer grind. This tracked with any of the video games I’d played: you got through your first twenty-five levels or so without any issue, then suddenly every new level after that took for-fucking-ever.
The only trouble was… where to go? The only entrance to the cavern had collapsed, and there were no other doors leading further into the dungeon. I checked on the map, and zoomed in, but couldn’t find any secret entrances or exits.
We split into pairs and searched the walls for any clue as to where we could go next. It should’ve been obvious, and when we finally discovered the answer, I sure felt like a dumbass.
I was in the middle of trying to feel up a stone wall when I heard a distant splash. When I turned, two things were obvious: Quavallie had an idea, and Sechelle was working her way closer to me to try to talk to me… alone. I ignored the gray-skinned elf yet again, and headed to where Quavallie was swimming, deep down.
It finally clicked in my very Clever brain. Sometimes the way out is deeper down.
Quavallie confirmed this five minutes later, when she leapt from the water.
“You found a way,” I said, unnecessarily. I had seen the new layer of underwater tunnels she’d discovered on the map function.
She nodded. “All the pools are connected under the water. It’s a maze, but I found a place to surface.”
I handed her a mana potion from the Governor’s storage space and tossed it to her. “Let’s get a move on. We’re on a schedule.”
Quavallie, Sechelle and I emerged from another pool a good two hundred feet away from where we’d gone in. I had on the Swiftwind aura, and had several other spells on standby, but it was Jerry I was missing the most. Jerry was somebody I could trust and rely on without a single compunction. I had limitless confidence in his abilities.
Plus, I could smell through his nose, hear through his ears, see through his eyes. Not only that, but he would attack anyone at the drop of a hat, even the Governor if I decided that’s how we were doing things.
My rhythm of day and night were all wrong down here, so I couldn’t rightly say when the next morning was on its way, and when I’d have a new Jerry. Which meant, right at this moment, I had to hope this room wasn’t full of those succubus things.
I activated Empath’s Mark at the same time, but didn’t find any minds who were thinking thoughts or feeling feelings. I hoped this meant there were no succulacrums in the area. Those things were on par with the Governor spying on me, in terms of trouble.
“I don’t know what your magic allows you to do,” I told Sechelle quietly, “but if you can make sure this room isn’t full of traps or hidden enemies, I sure would appreciate it.”
She regarded me silently, before turning to the cavern and then vaulting out of the pool. Drawing her swords, she snuck forward and peered around. She moved with preternatural quiet, and with the way her clothes clung to her body, it was nice to watch her stalk off.
This cavern had stalagmites rising from the floor, which gave enemies plenty of places to hide, but Sechelle returned a few minutes later and met me behind the large stalagmite I’d chosen for cover.
“The room is empty,” she said.
“Good, now we can talk.”
“I’m active,” she said, “magically. I have served no Master with my body; the Governor made sure of it.”
“Are you considered an elf?” I asked.
“A drow,” she said. “Elf of the caverns and the dungeons.”
“I had no idea those were even a thing, and I’ve seen snake ladies and insect people.”
Clearly frustrated, she changed the topic. “I know you have taken the marks off your other slaves, so you have…” She waved her sword in a circle in the direction of my junk. “The issue is not with you.”
“How many dungeon elves are there? Drow you said, right? Are there always drow underneath our feet anywhere we go? Wait, I thought dwarves were the ones under the mountains. What do you guys eat? Bats and mushrooms and stuff?”
“Am I not pleasing to behold?” she asked. “Is this why you will not join with me?”
“You want me to just walk up and ram it in?” I asked. “I thought we could have a nice candlelight dinner first. Maybe take you on a walk around the park, talk about high school. Have a pillow fight. You know, date stuff.”
“Are you… unwell? Mentally?”
“Honestly you’re right, I have been on the road for the last three months… I don’t even know what date stuff looks like. I know a couple of clubs. You look like you could really turn heads on a dance floor. There’s a country western joint off I-94, or there are some plain old EDM style places in Ann Arbor. It’s a bit of a drive, so I’d have to have some money for the Uber. I’m going to go out on a limb though and say you’re not a big square dancer.”
She continued to stare, mouth open.
“I have an issue with one of my ladies presently, and I don’t need to have more issues,” I told her. “If you can do your magic, I’ll ask you to do it. That’s it. You don’t have to stay with me after this dungeon is over. You can find a Master you prefer, or get out of Surrek and never look back.” It was an offer I made to all of them, and so far none of them wanted to take me up on it.
Except for my OG, and damn that stung. I really, really missed Auralla, and I wanted to run my arms up and down the backs of her thighs while she held her ankles and folded herself in half like some human origami.
Okay now I was starting to get in the mood for a bit of Hide The Sausage. I needed a cold shower. Honestly, I’d been covered in monster blood, Master blood, sorcerer blood, and my own blood until taking a nice cleansing dip in the underground pools
“If you decide to stay, we get to play together, but only if that’s what you want.” And only if I found out she could be trusted not to try decapitating me in my sleep. Or try joining forces with Hellera to give me a sword catheter or something.
“Is this… a trick?” she asked.
“I wish. It’s my lowest attribute. Apparently I’m not tricksy enough.”
Two more heads appeared from the pool: Hellera and Velleth, along with Quavallie.
“You’ll take Velleth out scouting, and not engage,” I told her. “We can continue this talk later.”
She again gave me a searching look for several long moments, before nodding and turning to take Velleth. The two of them left, with Velleth casting just one look over her shoulder at me before they rounded the corner and disappeared from view.
Which left Hellera.
She stood at the edge of the pool and hadn’t moved, staring at me. I met her gaze and didn’t back off. This became a contest of wills after a while, until I heard Velleth and Sechelle returning.
“All good?” I asked.
I also nodded. “Your mark is incredibly valuable to me, so I’m glad to hear that. Your companionship is more valuable. Velleth is alive and here today because of you. I hope you don’t forget that.”
I produced several weapons and handed them over. A tiny part of me expected her to lash out, stab me through the gut. I’d have to kill her if that happened, but a lot more awful consequences would follow. For now this was the best outcome.
Fayeen, Dallinya, and Shennalil arrived just as my two scouts returned. It was quite enjoyable to watch as my beauties rose out of the water, clothes and hair clinging to their bodies in the gloom, lit from below by the pools. They dripped and their skin glistened, and it didn’t help my powerful urge to get down and dirty with at least one of them.
Eventually though Dallinya cleared her throat and I snapped back to reality. The scouts clearly needed to give their report, while I thought cold and boring thoughts.
They’d spotted more enemies a few twists and turns down these tunnels, more sorcerers of the flame’s eye and flame’s heart. These were in greater number: twelve of the ones who could summon the succulacrum, and half a dozen of the fireball sorcerers. Plus, one of them was a leader.
“Well shit,” I said.
“There’s another set of tunnels,” Velleth reported, still subdued. Sechelle nodded, and drew out the tunnel system on the cave floor. If we were quiet, we could sneak right by the enemy and work toward finding the dungeon boss, liberating the core, and getting this place dealt with. There was one spot where we’d be exposed, but Velleth bet we could close that up with a simple illusion and go the stealth route.
Dallinya wasn’t in favor of this though. These sorcerers were the real enemy; they were using the dungeon to sneak into Surrek. The Governor had mentioned that they had created a second exit, which meant they could probably generate more. If we let them pass, they might come out anywhere in the city.
“But we can use the side tunnel for a pincer attack,” Sechelle said.
“We can use the side tunnel for an ambush,” Hellera suggested. That was true. If we mostly blocked up the hole in the tunnel, we could attack through the tiny hole with teleport strikes. The trouble was, if a single fireball struck them, they’d be blasted into nothing.
“All we need are eighteen magic users who’ve used up all their magic,” I said. Actually, I had an idea.
A few minutes of planning and prep later, I watched myself walk straight into the lion’s den, then pull up short like he’d been caught daydreaming. A second later, five fireballs crashed into him. I could feel the heat roiling down the tunnel towards me, but it dissipated quickly.
Another Evan went strolling down the hall and jumped as if he’d only seen the eighteen sorcerers right then. He actually got a word in edgewise before a hail of firebolts blasted into him and the place where he’d been.
This reminded me of a movie, but I couldn’t remember which one. A superhero one, I thought.
A third Evan ran into the room waving his arms and going “Wait, wait!” only to be blasted to smithereens a moment later. A fourth Evan appeared out of Velleth’s hands, and a grim smile accompanied it. This new Evan sprinted in there, skidded to a stop, and this time said, “Look, this isn’t working, okay?” before he too took about twelve firebolts to the chest.
The sorcerers in the room were losing mana, but not fast enough. If the twelve flame’s heart sorcerers could mess with my interdimensional storage or generate those succubus spirits, I wasn’t going to be any good in this fight.
Two more Evan illusions dashed into the room, but this time nothing happened immediately.
“He’s down the tunnel,” one of the sorcerers said. “Don’t burn all your mana. They’re down this way.”
I turned to Shennalil. “It’s go time.” She fluttered off.
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Bio: I'm an avid writer who just can't seem to stop. So I'm leaning into it and writing my favorite genre - harem. It's my own spin on it all, and I hope you enjoy it!