A lich, a Paladin and a succubus walked into a forest. Although it seemed like the beginning of a bad joke, this was currently Valeria, Fizzy and Xera’s reality. The gnome glanced up at the floating undead several times before screwing up the courage to speak up.
“Uh... uhm… Valeria?”
“Hm? What is it, little one?”
“Why did you stand up for me back there?”
“Oh that? I was simply doing my duty.”
“What sort of worthless woman would let her future husband’s precious little pet waste away like that? You’re so small, weak and fragile that I couldn’t help myself.”
Anger once again flared up in Fizzy’s eyes. The surge of rage that had been somewhat dispelled by the monster’s ridiculously named ‘Operation TASTYCOCK’ had come back with full force. Not because she had been called a pet, the gnome had already come to terms with that reality and accepted it as a fact. The reason she was angry was because this incorrigible pervert had taken pity on her.
“No need to thank me,” said Valeria, adding more fuel to the flame.
The gnome’s grip on the handle of her improvised warhammer tightened and she grit her teeth. Just whose fault was it that she was feeling so miserable in the first place?! She wanted to take a swing at this stupid bitch and smash her teeth in. But she couldn’t, her reason wouldn’t let her. The difference in Status and Levels meant that act was the equivalent to suicide. Even if Paladins were the natural enemy of undead, liches were their antithesis and were well equipped to fight the living. So a fight between just the two of them at this stage was sure to end in the gnome’s demise.
“Sorry to break this up,” butted in Xera, “but the Master has need of the lich.”
The yellow dots in the Valeria’s eyes almost became heart-shaped for a moment.
“Yes. Something about having to go back to that white tower,” added Xera.
“Then I shall return to my darling’s side immediately ~♡!”
She bolted off back the way they came from, twirling and spinning merrily through the air as she did so.
The reason Boxxy had called her back was because it wanted to return and retrieve its forgotten dagger. Even if it wouldn’t be very useful against golems, that didn’t mean it could just leave it behind. However, that weapon was in the middle of a Blight-infested stretch of land crawling with the undead. If it didn’t have to deal with those pests then it could make it there and back in half a day.
Which is where Valeria came in. The lich had started bragging at length about her Skills shortly after she was… recruited. The Lord of the Dead Skill in particular was what the Mimic was interested in. It was a Skill that appeared to be exclusive to liches, something no human Necromancer could ever hope to obtain.
According to Valeria, it not only strengthened all minions under her command, but also allowed her to dominate and control the feral undead that appeared naturally due to the Blight. If she was telling the truth, then she could direct those rotting vermin away from Boxxy, allowing the Mimic to travel unhindered. Doing so would not only allow her to rebuild her private army, but would also allow Fizzy plenty of time to rest and recuperate.
The Mimic had determined that this course of action was the most efficient, and was not, as the delusional woman was assuming, going for a romantic moonlight walk.
Now that it was just Fizzy and Xera, the gnome found herself temporarily at a loss.
“You should get busy,” suggested the succubus. “If you drag my Master down with your poor performance then you will not be forgiven.”
“Ah… Right. Th-then you will help me hunt, right?”
“Haah, I suppose I should.”
The two of them then roamed the sparsely forested area for a while before running across a large black bear. It was then charred even blacker by Xera’s magic and died in an instant. Even if it was big and looked menacing, it was only a Level 20 beast. The gnome took out her dagger and started carving up its meat into appropriately sized steaks. She would then grill them up, eat her fill and preserve the rest with salt, courtesy of Boxxy’s Storage.
The succubus sat down on a nearby rock and merely watched the gnome work with a vaguely dissatisfied look on her face. The Paladin noticed her glare, which made her feel a little uneasy.
“D-Do you hate me?” asked Fizzy in an effort to strike up a conversation.
Her choice of topic was perhaps a little weird, but the succubus was already feeling bored. Exciting and fun things happened all the time whenever her beloved Master was around, but that also meant that things were incredibly dull whenever it wasn’t. Therefore, she felt she might as well indulge the gnome with a bit of idle chatter to kill time.
“Don’t take it personally though. I dislike all mortals that aren’t Master. Also most of the immortals, now that I think about it.”
Silence once again dominated the scene, broken up only by the wet sounds of a knife digging into flesh.
“Can I ask what your real name is?” continued the gnome.
“You know there’s no truth to the myth you can control a demon if you know its name, right?”
“Th-that’s not it! It’s just… your name isn’t actually Snack, is it?!”
“Hmm… Actually, you’re right. It isn’t. I should see if I can have it changed to that.”
“I am my master’s Snack. Is it really so wrong to have a name that reflects that?”
“You… You like being eaten?!”
“No, I don’t you foolish creature,” said Xera. “I love it. I adore it! I need it! Being devoured the instant I was back in the physical realm was the best welcome back gift I could’ve asked for! Hnnn! Just thinking about it is… Mmmmnn!”
Realization dawned on the gnome as she watched the succubus’s expression grow twisted by lust. Come to think of it, didn’t this demon eagerly shout ‘Do me! Do me!’ during this morning’s incident?
“That is why I’m sure I will never lose to that uppity ghost. Master likes my flavor the best!”
That’s not something to be proud about! retorted Fizzy inside her own head.
Still, that made it official. The number of incorrigible perverts around Boxxy was not 1, but 2. Actually, given this pattern, it was highly likely that the red demon was one as well. How come they’ve all gathered around a monster that had absolutely no sex drive? That Mimic had made it clear it did not enjoy the act very much and simply used it as ‘practice.’ A fact the gnome was inclined to believe, given how it didn’t assault her all this time. If it wasn’t for Valeria, she wouldn’t even be in this situation where she feels disgusted to be inside her own body. Maybe she should just kill herself and-
Fizzy immediately shook away the dangerous thought that crept itself inside her skull. She decided it would be best if she simply ignored that hopeless slut of a demon and resumed preparing the bear’s meat. After separating what looked to be the best pieces, Fizzy started a fire and grilled them roughly. She then gorged herself on as much of the tough, bland meat as she could stomach and packaged the rest for later. It should last her for a few more days before it goes bad. Once she was done, she walked over to a random, soft-looking patch of grass and instantly fell asleep under Xera’s watchful eye.
Fizzy partook in what could only be called the sleep of the dead. She was so tired, she couldn’t even dream, let alone have nightmares. In fact, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the real nightmare was when she was awake. But, at least for tonight, circumstances had conspired to let her enjoy a proper rest for the first time since she was imprisoned. She slept from before sundown until well after sunrise, for a total of 13 hours.
The gnome sprang to her feet the instant she regained consciousness and looked around in a sort of panic. She was so used to being woken up with violence hat her subconscious mind perceived her late, peaceful morning as something out of the norm. It took her a minute or so for the haziness to clear from her mind, and she calmed down soon after. Looking around she saw the succubus was exactly where she was when Fizzy fell asleep - sitting idly on a nearby stump and staring off into the distance. The scorch marks in her surroundings suggested she had taken to flinging Fireballs to alleviate her boredom, although there were a few charred remains scattered around as well.
She didn’t seem to notice the gnome had woken up, so Fizzy greeted her to get her attention.
Xera’s eyes turned away from the unseen horizon and stared contemptuously at the pint-sized Paladin.
“Oh, finally awake?”
“I hope you got plenty of rest and do not embarrass my Master.”
“I won’t. Trust me, upsetting Boxxy is the least- the last thing I want to do.”
“Hmmm, well so long as you understand.”
“And uh, wh- where is-”
“On its way back. I think they’ll be here in about half an hour, so we better get back to the entrance.”
“Alright. You, um, you didn’t do anything weird to me while I slept, right?”
Xera was the individual who was responsible for manipulating Fizzy’s memory in the first place, and she always did it after putting the gnome to sleep with magic, so this was a very valid concern. One that Fizzy’s tired mind failed to take into account the night before. However, the succubus didn’t answer her with words. She merely smiled mischievously before turning around and heading off toward the tall black spire in the distance.
“Hey! You didn’t do anything weird to me, right?!”
The worried Paladin kept asking the succubus over and over, but didn’t get any response one way or the other. It was highly possible that Xera didn’t do anything and was simply stringing the poor girl along just for kicks. However, Fizzy couldn’t accept a naive answer like that. She searched through her memory in an effort to spot anything out of place, any time she might have lost. Unfortunately, it was all there. The imprisonment, the abuse, the violence, the horrible event that took place yesterday morning - all of it was vividly brought up.
She kept worrying over this until they made it back to the outskirts of the Spire of the Jade King. They arrived at roughly the same spot where the group had split up the day before. Kora was already there, waiting for them while sitting down on the ground.
She greeted the two with a wave of her hand. Her only hand.
Fizzy recoiled in horror when she realized that mountain of muscle had been mutilated horribly. She was missing both left arms, half a right arm and most of her left leg. Large chunks of the left side torso had been ripped out, and both her magnificent horns were snapped off.
“Are you okay?! What happened to you?!”
“Nothing much. I was just giving those golem guys a try to see how strong they were. I got a bit carried away and challenged 3 of them at once.”
“So? How were they?” asked Xera, matter-of-factly.
“They’re hard, and faster than they look. I guess about Level 40, maybe 45. They’re pretty good with those shields and the spears are quite bad as well, but those short swords are the worst. They’re much sharper than they look.”
She wiggled her stumps as if to prove a point.
“Swords? What swords?” asked Xera.
“They pull them out from somewhere if you break their shafts. They get super pissed and start attacking like mad.”
“Shouldn’t be a problem once the Master gets back.”
“Yeah. Wish it’d hurry up already, though”
“How can you two be so calm?!” shrieked Fizzy. “Bitchface lost two arms and a leg, and you two are just-”
“You wanna die, you little shit?!”
Kora’s strangely cheerful atmosphere disappeared in an instant as she let her bloodlust flow freely. Having been suddenly threatened like that, the gnome could do little more than reflexively scream and jump behind Xera for cover.
“Come on,” shouted Kora, “call me that again! See what happens!”
She stood up on one leg and took a few threatening hops towards Fizzy and the slightly sniggering succubus. Even if she only had about 60% of her body mass left, Kora was still as intimidating as ever.
“I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I don’t know what I said, but I’m sorryyyy!”
“Like fuck you don’t know! I told you to only call me by my name, didn’t I?!”
“But I did! It’s Bitchface McWeaksauce, isn’t it?! … Huh?”
Kora had grandly introduced herself yesterday, so Fizzy was dead sure she got her name right. So how come it didn’t feel right? The fiend in question felt her anger subside for a bit due to the weird situation. Her eyes moved between the succubus and the gnome, as if she was trying to piece something together.
“You… Your name was Corny Fizzle-something, right?”
“N-no. It’s Cornhole Jizzbu… cket?”
Both of the confused women stared at each other with dumb expressions.
The sudden silence was interrupted by Xera, who was unable to contain her laughter any longer.
“Ahahahaha!” she erupted. “Hah hah haaaahahaha!”
“You whore!” roared Kora. “I’ll get you back for this!”
Having realized exactly which part of her memory was tampered with seemed to dispel the effects of the Dreamweaver Skill from Fizzy’s mind. The implanted memories faded away and the real ones rose to the surface. The gnome naturally realized that Xera had been messing with her after all. A fact which caused her to snap.
“Uhm, excuse me, Koralenteprix?” she asked with an almost innocent smile.
Having someone properly call her by name like that seemed to drastically improve the fiend’s mood. She gave Fizzy a toothy smile while puffing out her chest.
“Yep, that’s me!”
“Can you hold down Snack for me, please?”
“You don’t have to tell me twice!”
The fiend then jumped through the air and crashed right into the still giggling succubus, knocking them both down to the ground and pinning her under her weight. Fizzy then walked over to where the slightly stunned Xera’s head was and took out her weapon.
She repeatedly and rhythmically smashed the succubus’s face in as Kora kept her pinned. Fizzy didn’t hold back at all and really put her back into each swing.
Both Kora and Xera were a Warlock’s familiars. That meant two very important things. One - they were unable to go against direct orders, and two - re-summoning them would get rid of any and all injury, even death. Those two morsels of information were something that Boxxy explained to Fizzy and Val the day before. However, Fizzy had briefly forgotten about them from the shock of seeing Kora’s mutilated form.
But now that she remembered, she rationalized that it was fine to kill the slut, right? It’s what the masochistic bitch seemed to want, so it was fine if she smashed her head open like a fucking tomato, right?!
She stopped after the sixth hit and held her bloodied wrench overhead. Was it really okay? She decided to ask Kora, just in case.
“It’s fine if I kill her to death, right?”
“I wouldn’t if I were you,” said Kora. “The boss gets a bit mad if you make it waste MP like that.”
“I think she’s good for 1 more hit though.”
“Fuuuuuu,” exhaled Fizzy while relaxing her hands.
She put away her weapon and smiled weakly at Kora.
“Thanks. I really needed that. Hitting things in the face is strangely relaxing, huh?”
Even if violence was the main cause of the gnome’s stress, it might just prove to be the outlet she was looking for.
“I know, right! I gotta say, you hit well for a pipsqueak!”
“I’d appreciate if you stopped calling me that.”
“I call ‘em as I see ‘em, pipsqueak. I mean, you’re so tiny you barely get up to my kneecaps!”
“Bet I’m taller than you when you’re on 0 HP.”
“Oh? Is that a challenge?”
The bloodthirsty look in the fiend’s eye immediately made Fizzy bow down on all fours with her forehead touching the ground. It was a magnificent grovel that would undoubtedly get 10 out of ten points if someone were to score it.
“I’m sorry! I got carried away and became cocky! Please forgive me, miss Koralenteprix! Ma’am!”
Of course Kora couldn’t actually kill the gnome. Boxxy had given them both explicit orders to keep Fizzy alive. However, that didn’t mean the fiend couldn’t bitchslap her for being an uppity cunt who didn’t know her place.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought, pipsqueak.”