The clockwork heartbeat of the city of Dragunov had gone silent. It was just a few weeks ago that the sound of factories, foundries and workshops working at peak efficiency had dominated these streets. The cacophony of it all had been so extreme that living in the city was impossible unless one used a set of special noise-filtering earplugs to dull the war cry of industrial revolution. And yet the ongoing march of progress had been stopped dead in its tracks, turned into a frozen wasteland that no longer saw the sun.
That wasn’t to say that all life had been extinguished, however. Although the various machinery, golems and automata throughout the town had iced over and broken down completely, the citizens were still very much alive. They had huddled together into several huge camps, using whatever Spells, magic items and alchemical supplies they had on hand to stave off the cold. The gnomes and dwarves of Horkensaft were a hardy people, so they wouldn’t let a little whiteout break their spirit.
Unfortunately, that sentiment was already 17 days old. With food dwindling and the storm showing no signs of abating, the citizens naturally grew more and more desperate. Whatever adventurers, mercenaries and guards were around had their hands full keeping the peace, but it was only a matter of time before the volatile situation came to a head. The grim future of neighbor killing neighbor over stale bread or two-year old canned beans seemed all but inevitable.
Those were the thoughts of one Sergeant Frostbrand. The aptly-named dwarven soldier had been stationed at a small outpost about thirty kilometers due west of the city prior to the appearance of this damnable whiteout. He and his men were forced to relocate to Dragunov when the storm hit, and were currently responsible for maintaining the security of one of the civilian camps on the southern edge of the city.
The officer had been tossing and turning in his bedroll for the past six hours or so, though he was hardly the only one. At least a dozen other men were in the room with him, drifting in and out of sleep much like he was. They were all huddled around a metal heater, which burned with alchemically-treated coal normally reserved for refining stubborn ores like mithril and orichalcum. The stuff gave off a steady flame and lasted for a long while, so it served as a decent enough heating element of which the city had copious amounts of.
Unfortunately, while heat wasn’t exactly a worry, almost everything else was. Having to ration food and drink meant that everybody was always hungry and constantly thirsty. Admittedly this was the ‘aching for a pint’ kind of thirst rather than straight up dehydration, but it still contributed to the overall feeling of misery and put people on edge. To say that morale was in tatters would be a gross understatement.
The gloomy atmosphere was suddenly pierced by a loud and strangely energetic voice coming from just beyond the former storeroom’s door. Frostbrand grumbled under his breath as he crawled out of the relatively warm confines of his bedroll dressed only in his underclothes. He hurriedly put on his beige trousers, crawled into a gray sweater and finally put on a black coat with frightening speed. He hopped into his boots and stood up just in time to see the one who had been calling for him open the door.
“Sarge!” shouted the baby-faced dwarf with all his might.
“Keep it down, you idiot!” barked Frostbrand. “What did I tell you about conserving your energy?!”
“But Sarge! The lookouts spotted someone approaching the perimeter!”
“What, is it a runner from the other camps? Or a straggler who’s just now coming in?”
“Neither! It’s a stupidly tall figure coming in from the south, along the rail line! We think he’s coming in from outside the storm!”
Those words lit a fire under the Sergeant’s arse. As dubious as it was, this was still the best news they’d heard in over two weeks. Frostbrand ordered the men to get in gear while he followed the private out of the room and out into the cold outdoors. He hurriedly dashed through the streets and climbed up the city’s perimeter wall, all while ignoring the people that were calling out to him. He ran over to where the lookouts were gathered, who greeted him with a curt salute when they saw him approach.
“Where is he?!” asked the dwarf in a borderline desperate manner. “Where’s our visitor?!”
“Over there, sir. Right on the mag-rail track.”
Frostbrand peered over the icy wastes in the direction his subordinate was pointing at. There was a thick gray cloud covering up the entire sky, a raging snowstorm in full swing off towards the horizon, and the ground was dyed almost completely pure white by ice and snow. This bleak scenery was more or less unchanged ever since this mess started, which was why the newcomer stood out like a sore thumb. Unfortunately he appeared as little more than a black speck surrounded by an aura of bright flames that completely obscured his features. The only thing that could be discerned about this stranger was his height, which was much greater than any dwarf, human or elf the commanding officer had seen.
“Send him a signal!” he ordered. “Let him know we’re here!”
Someone behind him shot out a Fireball high into the sky in accordance with his orders. It seemed to have worked, as the stranger changed their course and headed right for them. It was almost like a flaming boulder that left behind naught but steam and melted snow, moving at speeds easily matching that of a galloping horse. It reached the base of the wall in seemingly no time flat, at which point it jumped up into the air. The flaming figure easily leapt the 8 meter tall wall in a single bound, landing squarely in front of Frostbrand with a heavy thud and a painful groan.
It was then that the dwarves got their first real glance at the mysterious visitor. What they saw was a red-skinned fiend that was carrying a blue-skinned woman with unbelievably huge tits in her many arms. Both of them were naked and covered with sweat, with the former eagerly double penetrating the latter from behind and from below. Loud slaps seemed to echo in the otherwise silent surroundings as Kora continued to relentlessly pound away at Xera’s lower end, making her whorish tits bounce up and down in an almost hypnotic manner. An obscene bulge appeared on the djinn’s stomach with every thrust, making this pornographic scene so surreal that none of the soldiers gathered there knew how to react to it.
Kora then suddenly let out a primal roar as she bottomed out on the former succubus, unloading everything she had left into her. The deluge of seed that had been built up during her two hour long run-fucking session was eagerly swallowed up by Xera’s lower ends. Her anal and vaginal muscles clamped around the twin intruders so hard that not a single drop was allowed to escape her fleshy confines. This caused her belly to balloon out until she looked like she was pregnant before the fiend finally ran out of HP and collapsed out of exhaustion. The insatiable slut fell on the ground with a wet plop shortly afterwards, mewling and moaning to herself in ecstasy while the Kora’s body evaporated into nothingness.
“Uh… S-s-s-arge?” called out one of the soldiers. “What do we… do?”
Frostbrand never got the chance to muster a response as, much to his relief, the slutty demon suddenly disappeared in a puff of green smoke smelling vaguely of brimstone. What appeared in her place was a cloaked figure, easily as tall as the fiend that was there until moments ago. The soldiers would’ve normally put up their guards and surrounded him, but they were far too hungry, tired, cold, and confused to actually give a damn about protocol.
“Greetings, gentlemen,” spoke the masked man. “I apologize for my familiars’ antics, but desperate times call for desperate measures.”
The two demons’ fuck-a-thon had been Boxxy’s improvised solution to traversing the frozen wasteland by proxy. Snack’s flames could ward off the ice, but her weak body was unable to endure the harsh conditions for long. Arms, on the other hand, had so much stamina that she didn’t know what to do with it, but even her seemingly endless reserves were sapped dry by the impossibly harsh weather.
Individually they were unable to cross the horrible snowstorm, but together they could cover each other’s weaknesses. All it took was to have the djinn shield both of them from the worst of the weather with her fire magic while the fiend provided her with a steady supply of energy and stamina. And since Snack was originally a succubus, the only way to do that was through lewd acts, leading to their perverse marathon.
Not that either of them complained, of course. In fact, they were secretly hoping to do it again, as the rush of it all had added a new layer of excitement to the act. It was without a doubt the best fuck they’d shared in a long time, and the final climax had been so explosive that it left their unwitting audience wondering if it was all a dream.
“Uh, okay?” muttered the dwarf in charge. “Whatever you say, stranger. Ah, I’m Sergeant Frostbrand, the one in charge of this sorry lot.”
In fact, they seemed more than willing to forget they saw anything at all.
“You may call me the Sandman,” said Boxxy with a bow of its head. “I’m a mercenary.”
“A mercenary? Did the capital send you here to look for survivors?”
“No, I am here for another matter entirely. I’m afraid your colleagues in Gun Tarum don’t even seem to be aware of your plight.”
“… Damn. We sent six parties into that blasted whiteout to get help, but to think none of them made it to the capital…”
“Why not just teleport outside its range? It shouldn’t be all that difficult.”
“Aye, you’d think it would be that simple, but something about this storm is messing with the Wizards’ spatial magic. No matter how much they try, their Gates always end up in areas that are completely white. I’m surprised you managed to arrive like you did, to be honest.”
“Hmmm. Then perhaps we should go inside and compare notes?”
The Sergeant readily agreed and invited the Sandman into the temporary base of operations they had set up. He sent a runner to the central camp to inform them of the new arrival, then the two of them sat down over a cup of hot water and began exchanging information. The dwarf used a chair like normal, but his guest had to sit cross-legged on the floor due to his extreme height.
“As I’m sure you’ve probably noticed,” started Frostbrand, “we’re in a bit of a crisis. The thing that’s causing this is the Regulator that sits at the center of the city.”
“Is that the strange spire I saw shooting a beam of light into the clouds overhead?”
“That’s the one. Normally it maintains comfortable spring-like temperatures around here year-round, and also controls when and where we get rain. It’s a predictable weather pattern that’s pretty enjoyable once you get used to it. However, 17 days ago it went haywire and has been throwing snow at us ever since.”
“I see. Then the reason why the weather is relatively calm around here is because this is the eye of the storm.”
“Seems that way. How bad is the storm, exactly?”
“It stretches out to about seventy kilometers around the city in every direction. The outermost fifteen kilometers are like being attacked by a legion of angry Cryomancers. The next fifty or so are a bit better, but not by much. My minions would have lost their way a hundred times by now were it not for the rail.”
“Right, the mag-rail. Do you know what happened to the train itself?”
“I’m afraid I do. My familiars passed it on the way here. From what they told me, it seemed like the storm had caught it unawares and knocked it off the rail, wrecking it completely.”
“By my father’s beard…” muttered the soldier as he held his head in despair.
“My familiars didn’t have the luxury to check for survivors, but all things considered I judged it would have been a wasted effort anyway.”
“No, you’re right. It was foolish of me to hold out hope anyway. Even with the relatively calm weather around here it’s still been bloody cold. Had at least 400 people freeze to death in the first 2 days. 300 more the following week. Total death count’s probably over a thousand by now, though it would’ve been a lot worse if we weren’t this close to the Palace.”
“I’m sorry, the what?”
“The Palace of the Crystal Maiden. It’s a hardcore dungeon in the mountains north of the city. It’s covered with ice and filled with cold-attuned monsters and traps, so the local guilds and shops had a stockpile of medicines and magic items meant to help tackle frigid environments. We’ve been able to save a lot of lives thanks to those.”
“Interesting. Is the dungeon somehow linked to this Regulator?”
“Some folks seem to think so, but I personally doubt it.”
“And you can’t fix it or turn it off?”
“Doesn’t seem like we can,” said Frostbrand with a heavy sigh. “An entire city full of them twitchy Artificers and none of them can figure out how that century-old piece of shit works. They say the Original Artificer’s designs are way too advanced for them. Fucking disgrace, the lot of them.”
“Have you tried knocking it down, then?”
“Aye, we’ve thought about it. However, we’re none too sure what might happen. You know the Vault that’s near here?”
“I am aware of it, yes,” nodded the Sandman.
“It has some incredibly deadly automated defenses. They pop out of nowhere and completely decimate anything in their path should someone be stupid enough to try and force the door open. We’re worried that blasted tower might have those and decimate our troops before we can even make a dent. Not to mention we’ve no idea what would happen if we actually topple it. Ideally everything would go back to normal, but it may also wipe the city off the face of the map. As such we’ve put off on assaulting the place for the moment and waiting for outside help. However…”
The Sergeant took a sip of his hot water and stared at his cup blankly.
“With the response from the outside being this slow,” continued the Sandman, “there might not be anyone left by the time they finally get here.”
“I see. This is definitely a tough decision. One that I will be taking off your hands.”
The Sandman abruptly stood up and left the room in a hurry, slamming the door behind him. It took Frostbrand a few seconds to realize the mercenary had one-sidedly decided to go topple the tower, after which he got up and ran up to the door. He placed a hand on the handle and was about to throw it open, but stopped himself dead in his tracks. He confirmed the hunger in his belly, the fatigue in his chest and the chill at his fingers, after which he casually walked back to the table and sat down.
He stared absentmindedly at those two mugs of hot water. Melted snow heated with magic. The mere notion that this was what passed for a drink these days suddenly seemed incredibly poignant. He honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at how fucked things had gotten in such a short amount of time. Just like he didn’t know if he had the right, authority or even the desire to stop that mercenary from running off like that. This situation was so far out of his hands that the only logical course of action seemed to be to give up and just sit there and wait for either salvation or destruction to come knocking.
What ended up visiting him next, however, was neither of those.
The door was opened loudly and a very irate Lieutenant Highstone walked into the room. He was the highest ranking officer in the city, as denoted by how his pitch-black armor had actual war axe blades stuck onto his helmet and shoulder pads. Those always struck Frostbrand as strange, as he couldn’t help but think they just made the armor far less practical.
“Sergeant! The hell do ye think yer doin’ out here?!”
“W-well, I, uh…” he stuttered.
Being broken out of his stupor by the Lieutenant's voice had momentarily made him unable to answer. What was he doing just now? How long had he been just sitting here? The formerly hot water in front of him was literally starting to turn to ice by now, so it must have been quite a while. He didn’t get much of a chance to recollect his thoughts, as his superior immediately started demanding answers.
“Yer outpost received an actual outsider, who ye proceeded to casually invite fer a chat and a drink! And then just let him walk out on ye?! Are ye fookin daft or sumthin?!”
“S-sorry, sir! I just- I don’t think I was thinking straight!”
“Damn right, ye weren’t! Now I got a rogue element walkin’ around this god-forsaken city! As if I didn’t have enough shit to deal with! Do ye even know what he was here to do?!”
“I’m not sure, sir! However, he seemed really determined to bring down the Regulator!”
“Oh, now that’s just peachy. And who was it that gave him that brilliant idea?!”
“I apologize, sir! He said the capital had no idea about our predicament, so I just-”
“They what?! Then what happened to all those parties we sent out?!”
“… I don’t know, sir. He said the mag-rail’s been totaled by the storm, too.”
“Fuck! … Alright. Gear up, Frostbrand. Let’s see if we can’t find our… guest.”
The Sergeant quickly changed into his armor and met the Lieutenant out in the street. He followed him and his armed escort through the densely packed camp, wincing underneath his helmet at all the glares he was getting from the civilians. They were accusatory stares that seemed to put the blame of this entire incident squarely on his and Highstone’s shoulders. The fact that the soldiers were getting preferential treatment when it came to food and shelter did not help ease the citizens’ resentment, despite that being the most logical course of action.
As they were about to leave the perimeter of the camp, however, they heard a commotion from up ahead. It didn’t take long to see the cause of the disturbance, as the Sandman was quite literally towering over the crowd of people, who parted before him as he strode towards the armed contingent of troops. The soldiers raised their guards as if expecting an attack, which only served to put everyone on edge.
“Greetings, gentlemen,” said the towering man with a polite bow of his head. “Forgive the intrusion, but I am here to see Sergeant Frostbrand.”
“My name is Lieutenant Highstone of the Horkensaft Royal Army,” said the commanding officer in an authoritative voice. “Ye the mercenary who arrived from beyond the storm?”
“Indeed. I am known as the Sandman. A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Lieutenant.”
“Enough with the chit-chat! Why have ye come here?!”
“I am here on business, my good Lieutenant. My task is to track down a valuable item and return it to my client without incident. I have followed the trail here, but I am afraid it has grown, ahem, cold. As such, I must demand that you help me find my target.”
“Ye daft, mate? What makes ye think I’d jeopardize the safety of the citizens just to look for yer master’s baubles or whatever?!”
“Because you owe me for services rendered, Lieutenant.”
“Oh? And what ‘services’ might ye be referrin’ to?”
The Sandman pointed at the malfunctioning Regulator in the distance, its upper half easily visible over the rooftops due to its absurd height. He then snapped his fingers, and a total of five black spots appeared all over the massive structure. Those were all instances of the Singularity Spell, augmented by a combination of Power Overwhelming and Crystallize Magic. Each of the resulting Spell Crystals cost a whopping 3,000 MP and a magic focusing crystal to produce, and were then set in place and remotely detonated through virtue of the Warlock’s familiars.
It had taken a bit of doing, but the effects were immediate and devastating.
The five miniature black holes pulled out piping, bricks and wires from the spire’s midsection, quite literally ripping it apart. The people in the small square could only stare in disbelief at the destruction, watching as sporadic explosions engulfed the source of their misery. The tower became engulfed in flames and smokes as the purple light shooting out of its top flickered and died with a whimper. There was a particularly big explosion near its base, after which the century-old weather machine collapsed in on itself, the sheer scale of it making it appear like it was falling in slow motion.
The clouds overhead began to part almost immediately afterwards, bathing the city in the first traces of sunlight it had seen in over two weeks. The civilians and soldiers alike were flabbergasted. They were all pinching themselves and slapping their cheeks as if to confirm this wasn’t a dream. Just feeling the warm sunlight on their cheeks was enough to bring tears to their eyes. It would probably still be a day or so before a storm of this magnitude completely dispersed and possibly months before the climate truly stabilized, but nobody gave a rat’s ass about such things.
“We’re saaaved! The light of Solus shines down upon us once again!”
“Hail the stranger!”
“All hail! All hail!”
“Sandman! Sandman! Sandman!”
They were too busy cheering and chanting the mercenary’s name out of joy, applauding loudly all the while. Boxxy simply stood there, letting their praise (and Doppelganger XP) wash over it. It had initially gone to destroy that blasted tower because this snowstorm was a nuisance, but this outcome was pretty tasty all the same.
“Well, Lieutenant,” spoke up the Sandman. “What say you to my request?”
The dwarf-in-charge let out a long sigh. He would have plenty of time to lament his own incompetence, but for right now he was just glad that not all his work had been for naught.
“Very well. Follow me to the central camp,” he said with a jerk of his head. “I’ll hear ye out on the way.”
The mercenary and the armed escorts left the encampment as the cheers continued to rain down upon their savior. The good Sergeant remained behind, mostly to keep people in line and remind them that they weren’t out of the woods yet. The group walked the desolate streets, which were encased in varying levels of ice. Boxxy was then made thoroughly aware of the frozen remains of countless golems and automata that had been caught out by the vanquished whiteout. Fearing that Fizzy might have ended up like them, the Mimic decided to get down to the matter at hand right away.
“So, about the thing I’m looking for.”
“Aye, I did say I’d hear ye out, so lay it on me. What is it ye’re after?”
“A golem forged out of the purest mithril you’ve ever seen. Looks like a cute gnomish woman in her early twenties, extremely lifelike. Carries a huge wrench and answers to Fizzy. Ah, she should also be accompanied by a gnome called Moss and a dwarf called Drummir, both male.”
“… I see. Well, the good news I’ve already met Fizzy.”
“You have?! Where?!”
Unable to restrain itself, Boxxy dashed out in front of the dwarf and bent over at an almost impossible angle until they were face-to-face.
“Woah, there! Watch it, ye creepy-!”
“Answer me, meat!” insisted the shapeshifter.
“I will! I will! Just hear me out, right?!”
The Mimic didn’t say anything, so it merely rebuilt its composure and pulled its head out of the dwarf’s personal space.
“Sheesh! I gotta say, yer the most excitable giant I’ve ever seen. Anyway, as I was saying, I met Fizzy over at the Vault Beneath the Mountain, where I was originally stationed. The shiny lass not only got the blasted thing open, but also managed to slip inside. However, it closed up behind her and we couldn’t follow. Next thing we knew, the Regulator was acting funny and we were getting ice pellets for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
It would appear that, just as Boxxy had suspected, this entire debacle had been her doing. Whether directly or indirectly, she was definitely the one that set these catastrophic events in motion. It probably wasn’t intentional though, which was a good thing. Otherwise the environmental damage she caused would have resulted in her violating the Taboo of Zephyra, Goddess of Rain and Travel. The Lieutenant himself didn’t seem to blame her either, if his tone of voice was any indication.
“One of her companions - this Moss you were talking about - managed to dash into the Vault after her. The other one seemed to have been driven somewhat mad by the unnatural weather. We had him locked up for his own good, but he-!”
“I don’t care about the extras,” interrupted Boxxy. “All I want to know is where I can find Fizzy.”
“Yeah, well… this is where the bad news comes in. We tried to get into that Vault once the security system calmed down, but we didn’t get the chance. By the time we returned from our cursory investigation of the Regulator, the mountainside had been reduced to a smoldering pile of rubble. The Vault, my base, my… men. All of them - gone. We picked through the rubble looking for survivors, but-”
Highstone reached into the Bag of Holding on his waist and pulled out what appeared to be a warped mithril plate.
“-this is all we could find.”
Boxxy stared intently at the piece of precious metal as it glimmered in the recently restored sunlight. It took it out of the Lieutenant’s hands and flipped it around several times until it finally realized what it was looking at. The thing in its hand was Fizzy’s faceplate, which despite being badly bent from some extreme impact, still bore her trademark manic grin.
“I’m afraid yer pal Fizzy’s scrap metal.”
“… So where are the other pieces?”
“Like I said, that’s all we could find.”
“Then how can you say Fizzy is no more?”
“Look mate, face facts. Ain’t nothin’ that would’ve survived destruction like that!”
“You don’t know Fizzy like I do, meat. So either go out there and find my shiny, or I will crush your head like a grape.”
“I’d like to see ye try ye cocky-”
The Sandman delivered on its threat and grasped the dwarf’s head with its left hand, then simply squeezed.
The head quite literally exploded in the next instant, as brain, skull and helmet alike were crushed into a fine paste. The horrifically decapitated Lieutenant’s corpse then slid down to the ground, followed closely by the mangled remains of the other soldiers. Weakened by hunger, and the cold as they were, they were completely unable to react to having their commander murdered in front of their eyes before their lives were taken as well. The Mimic then gobbled up their corpses and disposed of their armor, making sure almost no evidence of its wrongdoing remained behind.
It then remembered that back at the southern camp, both the good Sergeant and hundreds of refugees had seen it depart with the Lieutenant and his team. It was also only a matter of time before the officer’s subordinates over at the central camp came looking for their leader. That was a lot of people that needed to be silenced, and the Mimic lacked a good way of doing so.
That wasn’t to say it didn’t know of a bad way to shut them up, though.
“Perhaps I should just slaughter them all…”
It was the first genocidal thought Boxxy had had in a long while, and it really wanted to act on it. It didn’t have to wipe out the city of Dragunov, but it certainly wanted to. After all, it went through all that trouble of saving them, yet they tried to weasel out of their payment. Not to mention that this had been the first time ever it had even entertained the idea that its prized shiny might have been blown to bits. It was a notion that somehow made it even angrier than the time it realized it had lost its life. Indeed, just hearing that ridiculous meatbag insinuate that Fizzy had blown up seemed to fill with with a violent rage, almost as if he had uttered the foulest of blasphemies.
However, just as Boxxy had all but decided to give the people of Dragunov something to really worry about, it had gotten a call from Demons ‘R’ Us. It didn’t want to answer it, but past experiences had taught it that keeping them on hold was a bad idea, so it decided to get this over with and get to murdering A.S.A.P.
“What is it, Carl?!” it snarled in a clearly hostile manner.
“Woah! Who shat in your breakfast?”
However, the voice that flowed into its mind was definitely not Carl’s, though it was definitely a familiar one.
“Yup. Just your friendly neighborhood God of Chaos here. Figured you wouldn’t appreciate being soul-yanked without warning, so I borrowed Katorolomaongott’s line for a bit instead.”
“Ah. Uh, thanks for the consideration?”
“You’re very welcome. Now then, here’s the thing. I got Mortimer here with me, and he’s been whining at me about how you curb-stomped two of his Heroes in a single night. Morty’s got a high standard when it comes to choosing his people, you see, so he’s not at all pleased you’ve left him without a worthy candidate.”
“Oh. Well, I was just trying to secure my own life against a bunch of assassins. It’s not my fault one of them lied to me and forced my hand.”
“Maybe not, but he’s still pretty mad. At the same time he’s also kind of impressed you managed to pull it off. All things considered, he’s willing to forgive you on two conditions.”
Boxxy wasn’t sure what being on the God of Death’s shit list entailed, exactly, but it was a safe bet to assume nothing good would come of it. Getting off said excrement manifesto was not the worst idea in the world, but whether or not the Mimic would try to do that depended on what Mortimer actually wanted from it.
“First of all, you have to do a bunch of jobs for him,” explained Betsy. “He’s even promising some kind of reward in exchange for your services, so you won’t be working for free or anything like that.”
“He’s not going to ask me to kill myself or something, right?”
“Uh, that’s a good question, actually. Hold on.”
Boxxy wanted to complain. Surely that would be the first thing to inquire about when dealing with the literal God of Death, right?
“Okay, he says it’s nothing like that,” said Philip after a while. “The things he needs done are more or less at the level of errands. Mostly about killing the right people.”
“So it’s just mercenary work, but from a god?”
“More or less.”
“Hrm, I guess I could agree to that so long as he’s paying. What about the other condition?”
“That one’s a lot more immediate. Y’see, we’ve been sort of watching you deal with that freaky weather situation for a while, and he’d rather you not wipe out that city just on a whim.”
“Huh?! Why not!?” complained the Mimic. “He’s the God of Death, not the God of Life, so why does he care?!”
“Because you’re about to pointlessly bloat his workload. He’s still sour at me for that Monotal thing and I’d rather not hear him bitch at me about Dragunov, too. So do me a solid and help me get this bony bastard off my back, will ya?! If you do, I’ll let you know where your precious Fizzy is!”
“… Fine. I’ll leave the snacks-on-legs alone.”
“Yes! See, I told you my Hero could be reasoned with!”
Howard’s voice suddenly grew oddly distant, almost as if he were in another room.
“Ah, you heard that? … Well, it is technically true. … Are you or are you not a fatherless cur who is comprised entirely of bones?”
It would appear he was speaking to Mortimer, who was presumably right next to him.
“That’s what I thought, bony bastard,” grumbled the Goddess of Instabilities as she turned her attention back to Boxxy. “So anyway, thanks for that. Mortimer says he’ll get in touch with you through this line when he has the deets on your first job, but it won’t be for a while.”
“What about Fizzy?”
“You square things out with Morty, and I’ll tell you where your shiny is. Don’t worry, she’s very much alive, just as you, uh, deduced. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to say ‘hoped,’ wouldn’t it?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Sure, you don’t. Well, good luck out there. And keep up the good work. Toodles!”
The Sandman-shaped Mimic sat down on the bloodied ice, letting out a sigh of relief. Hearing that Fizzy was merely missing and not actually dead had taken a tremendous load off its back. Now that it could think clearly again, it regretted for lashing out at those dwarves earlier. Not much though. The blunder in question was only at the level of a ‘whoopsie daisy,’ really. The important thing to take away from the past few minutes was that it seemed like it would be some time before it was reunited with its shiniest of shinies.
The Mimic decided that it would be far better to do something productive rather than sit around moping while it waited for Mortimer to get in touch. And nothing said ‘productive’ like gaining Levels, obtaining shinies, and securing a foothold in a foreign nation. It could accomplish all these things not only at the same time, but also at the same place, which just so happened to be conveniently nearby.
It was time to see just how ‘hardcore’ this Palace of the Crystal Maiden truly was.