What enchantment do you think Nao should put on Keira's dagger?
Cold Streak - swinging the dagger in a specific way causes explosive shards of ice to fly out of it.
2.55% 2.55% of votes
Shortstop - can parry any blow by instantly draining the kinetic energy behind it.
21.54% 21.54% of votes
Recall/Daggerang - the weapon will teleport back into the owner’s hand a few seconds after being thrown.
12.79% 12.79% of votes
Reverse Recall - the weapon teleports its owner to itself a few seconds after being thrown.
43.98% 43.98% of votes
Copycat - pouring mana into it produces a temporary physical copy of the blade, but it breaks after 2-3 hits
2.5% 2.5% of votes
Nothing - Boxxy already has too much shit
14.34% 14.34% of votes
I have a better idea in the comments
2.3% 2.3% of votes
Total: 2001 vote(s)
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“Power creep?” repeated Nao. “Hmm, the phrase does ring a bell. I’m sure I’ve heard of it before somewhere, but I can’t put my finger on it.”

“I think she means that PMS thing, bro,” called out Kuro from the side.

“Oh! Right, of course!” exclaimed the Hero of Magic with a clap.

“I see, I see, so that’s how it was,” said the catgirl with a smile and a nod as she casually unsheathed the mithril dagger at her waist. “So you two want to get cut after all, don’t you?”

“What?! No! C-c-calm down Keira! Kuro was just kidding! Let’s put the shiny knife away and talk about this!”

Even if Boxxy knew it was a joke, the terrible timing involved triggered a fit of anger which it failed to contain completely. Suggesting that its health issues were somehow caused by Keira’s menstrual cycle was ludicrous to say the least. Under normal circumstances the shapeshifter would’ve just laughed it off, but Kuro’s talent for pushing its buttons was already at VIP level.

“Sorry, that joke was a bit overboard,” apologized Keira almost immediately. “I’ve just had it with that guy’s attitude.”

“In my defense, that one wasn’t on purpose,” claimed the culprit. “It’s just that this guy here isn’t all that familiar with adventurer jargon.”

“Yeah, I usually let Kuro handle the talking with strangers.”

“Okay, fair enough. Wait, then how come he wasn’t around when you visited my house?”

“I was, actually, but, uh, I got a bit lost,” he admitted reluctantly.

“… Lost?”

“Okay, listen, I don’t want you to go all knifey-wifey on me again, but I was trying to hit on your girlfriend. I didn’t know she was taken back then. So, I escorted her on her shopping trip, but she was having none of it. Then when the Clash warning popped up she disappeared in a huff and left me in the middle of a crowd with no idea how to get back to your place.”

“You lost her?” asked Keira with an incredulous look on her face. “But you’re a Berserker and she’s just an Alchemist! How do you lose someone like that?!”

“She’s a local! She knows all the shortcuts and back alleys! Not to mention the timing to those funky flying platforms you people have around here!”

“Wow. I am almost speechless,” remarked the catkin as she shook her head. “You are like, the worst bodyguard ever!”

“To be fair,” butted in Nao, “I was the one who agreed to him leaving. The city seemed peaceful enough and I thought I’d be perfectly fine in that out-of-the-way house. Plus my visit was pretty low profile, so very few people knew I was even here. Then you showed up with that impeccable timing that only a Hero of Chaos can pull off. And once the misunderstanding was cleared up I sent him a Message to stay away lest he complicate things even further.”

“… Oh. Yeah, alright, I guess that makes sense,” conceded Keira. “Wait, when did you manage to send a message? I didn’t see a Comm-crystal or anything.”

“No, no, a Message, as in the Psionic Spell. Instant long-range telepathic communication. Picked it up about a year ago when I was visiting the southern continent. More importantly though, I’m surprised you’re asking about Milton-Presley Syndrome.”

“Who-the-what-now?” asked the confused catgirl.

“Milton-Presley Syndrome,” repeated Nao,” or MPS for short. Not PMS. That’s… something else entirely. Point is, it should be far too early for you to worry about it.”

“Maybe, but I want to be prepared for when the time comes. Unfortunately, I’ve only heard of it in passing, so I’m not sure what it’s actually about.”

That was more or less the truth. Boxxy knew that power creep was something bad that happened if an adventurer that got too many Levels too quickly, but that was the extent of its knowledge. The monster never had any problems with its explosive growth, however, so it had never worried about it before. Something that the benefit of hindsight showed had been an error.

“I suppose someone with four Jobs is more susceptible to it than not,” admitted Nao while scratching his cheek. “Well, I’m sorry to say, but I’m a bit sketchy on some of the details myself. It’s been a long time since I looked it up, so I don’t trust my memory too much.”

“Oh. That’s okay. I’ll just look it up in the library or something.”

“There’s no need for that. I have one on hand, actually. Stand back a bit, if you don’t mind.”

Concentric rings of light shot out of the Hero of Magic, and Boxxy immediately recognized the pattern as the Summon Familiar Skill. Seeing this happen second-hand for once left the Mimic a bit stunned, as it wasn’t sure how to react, but it managed to keep its cool this time around. Keira had been in the company of other people’s familiars before, so it would likely be fine. Even if the ‘Boxxy Show’ was popular over on the other side, Hamilton had forbidden any denizens of the Beyond from divulging anything they might have seen in it to mortals. Its secret was probably not in any direct danger, but it still undid the MLG hidden in Keira’s torso. It was a precaution just in case the one called out was a beholder that might be asked to scan the room for anomalies.

This proved to have been a wise decision, as the demon that popped out of thin air did indeed look like one. He had marble white skin, a single giant eye with a triangular blue iris, and a total of six eye stalks growing out of its floating head of a body, which was about one and a half meters in diameter. He didn’t seem all that impressive at first glance, but Boxxy knew from its Demonology Skill that the peculiar shape of that eye was something no common demon would have. A triangular iris was the sign of a beholder that had Ranked Up into a gazer, and this revelation immediately put the Mimic on edge. This was the first time it had seen another Warlock with a ‘ranker’ under their command, so there was no way it wouldn’t grow more wary of Nao.

The Hero of Magic, it would seem, was potentially dangerous in more than one ways.

As for the demon, he took a brief look at his summoner and barely even glanced at Kuro, but his stare then lingered on Keira and her forced smile for several seconds.

“Hah. Hahahaha! AAAAAHAHAHAHAHAA!”

At which point he began laughing in a deep, booming voice.

“What is it this time, Ogbolg?” asked Nao, clearly miffed at this disrespectful behavior.

“Aaaah, it’s nothing, master,” said the gazer with a toothy grin. “I was just thinking it would be amusing to watch you and that pretty face of yours get ripped apart by a vicious monster in a dark cave somewhere. A creature that is like nightmares made real - a merciless whirlwind of steel, teeth, and death.”

This guy, is he trying to expose me?! panicked Boxxy inside its head.

“Tch, that guy’s still quite the charmer, ain’t he?” said Kuro from the side.

“He… does this every time?” asked Keira.

“Pretty much,” confirmed Nao. “Ogbolg here doesn’t like it that I only use him to remember stuff in my stead. He talks big, but I keep him on a tight leash, so he’s harmless.”

“Foolish mortal! We’ll see who is harmless when the unspeakable horrors of the Beyond pour through the gates of this reality, eager to tear into your magic-rich blood and devour your very-!”

“Yes, yes, I’m sure I’ll suffer greatly,” he said dismissively. “Now shut up about that and tell us everything you know about Milton-Presley Syndrome.”

“… The phenomenon formally referred to as Milton-Presley Syndrome and is informally popularized to as ‘power creep’ or ‘leveling fatigue’ is the anomalous occurrence whereby an overabundance of amplification sources begins to overextend the legitimate and essential characteristics of a physical vessel, both of biological and inorganic composites. Research into the condition was spearheaded by the humans Ashor Milton and Jennifer Presley, for which it was ultimately and officially named after, despite being widely known as ‘power creep’ or ‘leveling fatigue’ within the various non-scholastic circles and communities for centuries prior.”

“Have a seat,” whispered Nao to Keira. “This will take a while.”

The two of them sat on a nearby bench as the demon continued divulging the requested information. However, his dull and drawn-out tone of voice combined with the needlessly pretentious wording and tautologies threatened to put his listeners to sleep. Kuro failed to resist and dozed off in his chair off, but the other two were not so easily swayed. The Hero of Magic was actively taking notes while Boxxy listened attentively to every syllable. The doppelganger was eager to get the full scoop, as it had only heard of the term in passing and as such only knew that the idea behind it was that ‘too many Levels too quickly can be bad.’

As it turned out, that wasn’t entirely accurate. According to the lecture, MPS manifested itself whenever an adventurer gained too many permanent Attribute bonuses, be it from Jobs, Skills, Perks, or ‘special actions.’ Attributes dwelled within the body and amplified certain mental, physical, and, in the case of Natural Affinity (AFF) and Faith (FTH), spiritual traits. However, such supernatural luxuries were not without their burdens. There was only so much ‘boosting’ a living being could take before the cumulative stress upon the body caused side-effects to manifest.

Unfortunately, that was all Boxxy was able to gather before it lost track of the presentation. The deluge of words pouring out of Ogbolg’s mouth made it extremely difficult to follow along and understand him. Terms like ‘fait accompli,’ ‘arcanophilogical’ or ‘ventral superluminal resistance’ in particular made it seem like the demon was speaking in a foreign language altogether. The whole thing was likely the gazer’s way of exerting his ‘right’ to malicious compliance. He was technically fulfilling his master’s orders, but was trying to do it in a way that rendered the exercise largely pointless.

Yet Nao didn’t seem to mind in the slightest as he continued scribbling in his notebook without being perturbed by Ogbolg’s verbal diarrhea. Whether it was because he understood all the technical mumbo jumbo or because he was used to such shenanigans was unclear, but Boxxy couldn’t help but be impressed. The Hero of Magic didn’t even wait for the gazer demon to finish his lecture before he cut him off, tore out a page from his booklet and handed it to a thoroughly confused-looking Keira.

“Here.”

“Uh, what?”

“This guy likes to throw big words around for no reason, so I took the liberty of jotting down the important bits without all the filler,” he explained.

“Oh, you did all that for me? Lemme see!”

The catgirl took the piece of paper and eagerly gave it a once over.

Power creep / Leveling fatigue / MPS

Varies between people, but usually starts at around 2,500-3,000 AP (Attribute Points) in non-rankers. Which symptoms manifest first depends on AP distribution. MPS can easily be avoided by focusing only on 1 main + 1 or 2 side Jobs, more than that is not advised. For reference: Lv 50 Job + max Skills = 700~800 AP; Lv 100 equiv = 1,700~1,900 AP.

Stage 1 - Appears 1-3 days after exceeding AP limit. Causes relatively minor problems, but should not be ignored!!
Symptoms: lethargy, sore joints, mood swings, difficulty concentrating, tooth pain/decay

Stage 2 - Appears 400-500 AP after Stage 1. Causes sensory problems and resistance to restorative magic
Symptoms: blurry vision, partial deafness, periodic numbness of left side of body, alchemical intolerance, reduced effect of healing Spells received.
NOTE : MPS starts getting worse over time from here on out, even if no AP is gained.

Stage 3 - Appears 200-300 AP or 30-40 days after Stage 2. This is where the brain starts being affected.
Symptoms: memory loss (short+long term), dementia, blacking out, sleepwalking, spasms

Stage 4 - Appears 7-10 days after Stage 3 sets in regardless of AP gain in interim.
Symptoms: full body paralysis, coma, death (not really a symptom, but whatever)
NOTE : MPS becomes terminal, incurable and untreatable if allowed to progress this far.

Treatment options:
1. Grow up - Those under the age of 15 are far more susceptible to MPS than adults.
2. Bulk up - Building up body muscle mass through physical exercise and eating right can stave off physical symptoms of Stage 1 MPS. DO NOT USE ALCHEMICAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR THIS!!
3. Job Removal - bit extreme, but AP reduction is the quickest and surest way to get rid of MPS. Highly recommended for stage 2 sufferers.
4. Rank Up - Raises AP tolerance by a factor of 2 (double all the AP numbers above). Can theoretically cure even Stage 4, but no confirmed cases.

 

Boxxy greedily soaked in all the concisely written information and began processing it. It wasn’t sure how much it could trust it though, as this data had been gathered with people in mind. It obviously wouldn’t apply to a monster directly. Especially one that had Ranked Up three times and even changed species once.

However, the shapeshifter could not deny that its current abnormal condition could easily be attributed to the early onset of power creep. Not to mention that its combined Attribute scores clocked in at around a staggering 7,300. This was two-to-three times higher than the average limit for baseline enlightened beings, which surely should not be ignored. Then there was the fact that it had gained over five hundred Attributes during the latter half of its last trip, so the timing was definitely a fit.

With the diagnosis out of the way, the next question was an obvious one - how could it address this? Aside from the obvious desire not to make this MPS thing worse, it also hated being temperamental and constantly feeling tired. It wanted to be rid of it post-haste, yet none of the treatment options listed here were especially tasty. That was okay though, as the Mimic had already came up with a fifth one that should work in theory.

However, that was something it would test later tonight. Right now it still had a Hero’s favor to curry.

“Oh my God!” exclaimed Keira. “You managed to get all of this from that?! And in such clean, beautiful handwriting, too! Nao, you’re amazing!”

“Ehehehe,” he laughed awkwardly at the sincere compliment. “W-well, I knew a good deal of that already. Just had to double-check my facts, is all.”

“Still, you went out of your way to arrange this, even after I shut you down earlier. I really don’t know what to say, other than thank you! You’re the best!”

The catgirl then leaned over and gave the beastkin sitting next to her a quick peck on the cheek.

“You’re gonna make some woman very happy one day,” she added with a brilliant smile.

“… Sure it can’ be you?” asked the blushing wolf-boy.

“I’m pretty certain I’d have noticed if I’d have developed a craving for men over the last two hours,” she said while rolling her eyes. “But if that happens in the future, you’d be the first to know.”

“Uh, thanks? I guess?”

“Pfaaahahahaha!”

The gazer demon abruptly burst out laughing at that exchange, clearly aware of the literal man-eater hidden behind Keira’s cheerful facade. The sudden loud noise made Kuro stir from his drivel-induced coma. The Berserker mumbled something about ‘five more minutes,’ then continued napping.

“Your pain shall be legendary, whelp!” it taunted in-between fits of guffawing. “I shall forever treasure your inevitable demise!”

“Alright, that’s enough out of you,” declared the demon’s master. “Away you go!”

And with that, the security risk in the room had been forcibly dismissed and sent back whence he came from, much to Boxxy’s relief.

“Again, sorry about that,” said Nao to Keira. “I always struggle to keep that guy’s bad attitude in check. I’d tell him to shut up, but that would defeat the purpose of using him as a portable personal library.”

“You don’t have to apologize. I already know all demons are jerks. Frankly speaking, I’m surprised you even have a familiar. You didn’t mention you were also a Warlock before.”

“Because I don’t consider myself one. The Job’s only at Level 16 since I was curious about the Demonology Skill and the knowledge it offered, but I had to also get Summon Familiar since its a prerequisite. It wasn’t like I went out of my way to make a contract possible. I haven’t even hired anyone besides Ogbolg, though I’m rather ashamed that I have to rely on that asshole in the first place.”

“You don’t need to explain yourself to me, Nao. I trust you know what you’re doing when it comes to this sort of stuff. Besides, even if they’re insensitive pricks, I’ve seen first-hand how scarily effective demons can be in a pinch, so I try not to judge.”

“Yeah, I had a feeling you’d say that. I just wish everyone else was as understanding as you,” he added while furrowing his brows. “People who catch wind of me having Summon Familiar take one look at my boyish face and instantly assume I’m a hormonal teenager who wanted a succubus for immoral purposes. It can be quite frustrating trying to explain I only have Ogbolg.”

“Sounds troublesome. How come you don’t have more demons, though? Seems odd to have the potential yet not use it.”

“… I’m afraid of what would happen if I have to keep tabs on more than one of them. I’m not very perceptive. Or attentive. Or confident. Or strong-willed, for that matter.”

“Okay, okay, I get it,” grumbled the catgirl, interrupting the one-man pity parade. “But even if it’s one at a time, having more options couldn’t hurt, right? I mean, no offense to Kuro, but look at him.”

The bodyguard in question was still quietly snoring while laying back in his chair.

“Oh, that? Don’t worry about him. Looking after me can be a bit demanding, so he needs to get all the sleep he can,” deflected Nao. “You’re actually to blame for that, you know. We were supposed to remain incognito as much as possible, but our meeting kind of blew it.”

“Th-that was then, this is now,” insisted the catgirl. “And what that guy is doing right now hardly seems proper behavior of a protector.”

“I trust him to know his limits,” insisted the younger wolfkin. “He has a good nose for danger, so he’ll wake up the instant he feels a threat is near. Not that I expect anyone with malicious intents can get to us down here, in the Consortium’s basement. Unless it was someone who could barge past the collective security forces of several adventurer guilds, but Kuro wouldn’t be able to stand up to that sort of absurd being anyway…”

“But a fiend might,” was Keira’s counter argument. “They’re stupidly strong and tough, after all. Or one of those spider-things could catch them unawares. Or maybe that Oldblob or whatever his name was could see the threat coming before it gets here, giving you time to escape. What I’m getting at is that even if it’s only one at a time, demons can still be made to keep watch. They don’t need food or sleep or anything either, so they’re perfect for the job!”

Nao opened his mouth and raised a finger as if to protest, but stopped himself in the next moment as he realized that was a very valid point. Using demons as sentries was by no means a strange concept. Just like Keira said, they were uniquely well-suited to such duties. It was also possible that, should his gazer be given something more to do in the physical realm than just holding onto information, then he might actually mellow out a bit. The Sandman himself had supposedly earned genuine loyalty from his familiars, and he was by no means the first one to accomplish such a feat.

Granted, one usually needed to be an unbelievably scummy piece of shit to be liked by the denizens of the Beyond, so Nao always took such suggestions with a pinch of salt. However, Keira’s words had far more weight behind them than he expected. Heroes often led turbulent lives and had to be ready for anything, but none embodied this more than the Hero of Chaos. Unforeseen consequences and extreme circumstances were more than just an eventual possibility for the spunky redhead in front of him. They were a way of life. He had seen for himself how unsettling and upsetting the random occurrences of Chaotic Disposition could be, yet she still handled them with grace. Aside from the rare fit of strangely creative swearing, at least.

Bottom line was that Nao would be a fool if he dismissed her sincere advice regarding his personal safety without at least giving it proper consideration.

“Yeah, you may have a point,” he said after mulling things over. “I’ll think about it.”

Your actions have altered the flows of chaos.

“… Oh, crap.”

It would appear that Keira’s gentle nudge had set in motion a chain of events that, given the context, would probably end up affecting the Hero of Magic in a major way. This entire conversation was supposed to be Boxxy offering some helpful hints free of charge, as it seriously wanted Nao kept alive. He had been such a wonderful source of information that it would honestly be a shame if he were to bite the big one, especially after all the effort it put into him. The Mimic wasn’t going to risk its life for the guy or anything, but it wouldn’t mind stopping an assassination plot or two if it happened to stumble upon them. But if the flows of chaos were going to have their way with him, then a coward like Nao was unlikely to escape from them unscathed.

“What is it Keira? Did something happen?”

Meaning that this was probably the right time to tell the Hero of Magic he was in for a wild ride. While the outcome of Agent of Chaos was largely unpredictable, the existence of free will meant that it wasn’t necessarily set in stone. It was possible it could be steered towards a relatively favorable direction, so long as one knew that ‘something’ was coming. Of course, the mere act of notifying the man might backfire and make things worse, but it would probably be better if he was on high alert for the time being.

“Remember the Agent of Chaos thing I mentioned? It just popped up in my head, so I think you need to be extremely careful how you handle those demons of yours.”

“Oh.”

“…”

“…”

The two stared at each other in total silence, but it wasn’t the ‘contemplating how to handle things’ silence. It was more of the ‘nice day, isn’t it?’ sort of atmosphere.

“… So?” asked the catgirl.

“Hmm? So what?”

“What are you going to do about it?”

“About what?”

“About the Agent of Chaos!”

“Did something happen?”

“Yeah, it just activated.”

“What did?”

“The Agent of Chaos Skill! It just became active!”

“I don’t follow.”

“Argh! Listen to me!” she screamed while shaking him by the collar. “I’m telling you some weird shit is about to go down!”

“Hey, hey, hey! Put him down!” shouted the freshly woken up Kuro as he broke the two of them up. “What’s this all about?!”

“It’s about that dense guy over there!” she insisted. “I’m trying to warn him something extreme is going to happen to him in the near future!”

“Him being a bit slow is hardly cause for you to accost him like that,” he said sternly. “You already know he can’t deal with violent girls! You should be helping him overcome that, not making it worse!”

”That’s not the point!”

“Then what is it, ya psycho?”

But no matter how much she tried to tell them that something big was about to happen, the message simply failed to sink in. It was as if her words didn’t even reach them, or at the very least like they were literally going in one ear and out the other. The crafty catgirl tried writing down her warning instead, but that also failed no matter how many times she tried. Either the quill would snap, the page would tear, or Kuro would sneeze into the paper and his snot would make the writing illegible. Not even roundabout explanations or awkward flailing that may or may not have been interpreted as language were getting through to either of the beastkin.

It had become readily apparent that this was Cornelia’s meddling, and that no amount of effort on Boxxy’s part would allow it to overcome her divine influence. After it had a chance to think about it why this was happening, it remembered the Goddess of Gambling once said something about hating spoilers. It would therefore make sense that some sort of divine censorship would keep the ‘secret’ from spilling out and possibly affecting the outcome. That was the only reasonable explanation why the only thing Keira had to show after five minutes of trying to warm someone that ‘some funky shit is about to go down’ was a pair of confused-looking wolfkin.

“What’s this really about, Keira?” demanded Nao. “I know we’ve not known each other for very long, but this sort of cryptic attitude doesn’t seem like you.”

No. I’m being extremely direct with you right now, retorted Boxxy inside its head. I’m being so honest that it actually hurts a little.

But, with no other options on the table, the Mimic had to give up on that, and so decided to move on another topic.

“… Okay, I’ll stop beating around the bush and say it. I want to find out what happens if we fully charge and set off the maybe-Divine item I showed you when we first met.”

No amount of examination from the Hero of Magic was able to reveal a single thing about what that blasted pink gem’s main function. He therefore determined that the only certain way to figure out what would happen if it was activated was to, well, activate it.

“Ah, I see. Hmm,” responded the younger sibling while rubbing his chin in thought. “I must admit, even if it’s dangerous, I’m itching to find out what it really does.”

“Here we go again,” groaned the older one while rolling his eyes. “You and that mystery fetish of yours are gonna be the death of one or both of us. And this one smells especially fishy. You know what they say about curiosity and cats, right?”

“Careful Kuro, you’re starting to sound like Ogbolg,” cautioned Nao while still lost in thought. “Alright Keira, tell you what. I don’t feel confident about setting that thing off by ourselves, but it should be fine if we ask lady Imiryl for assistance. She was once my teacher, so she should understand my concerns regarding safety and secrecy.”

“Great! Let’s do that!” suggested Keira.

“Unfortunately,” he continued, “she’s currently away on some business for her guild, the Broken Mirror, and won’t be back until a day or two after the new year celebration.”

“More like she’s off to booze it up where her drunken self will cause the least amount of collateral damage,” mumbled Kuro while shuddering slightly. “The last time I saw her party it up unsupervised she turned the Seven Spires of Solitude into the Seven Piles of Rubble. We spent the next five weeks cleaning that up.”

“… Nao? Is that why you were saying something about putting mountains back together?” asked Keira.

“W-w-well, that doesn’t really matter right now,” he claimed dismissively. “The important part is that I- uh, we should wait for her to return so she can lend us her expertise.”

He also mumbled something about ‘if she’s sober’ under his breath, but Boxxy pretended not to hear. It had a more pressing question in mind.

“But… that’s going to be after the next year rolls around, right? Will you still be here when she comes back?”

“Where else would I be?”

“I thought you had to leave in, like, four days from now.”

“You do realize the new year starts the day after tomorrow, right?”

Keira’s eyes opened up so much that one would think they were trying to escape the confines of her face.

“I completely forgot!” she shrieked.

With all the magic lessons, fruitless Foundation baiting and power creep business going on, Boxxy had completely forgotten about that affair. It wasn’t like the turn of the year held any special significance to the monster though. It was just another day in the calendar as far as it was concerned. However, it was a very special day for Keira. More specifically, for Rowana and her family, who she was supposed to celebrate it with.

“I need to buy presents for Rowie and her folks! I should also get something for Lia and the others! I also have to get a new dress! And shoes! Oh no, I even promised I’d get my hair done for once, but I haven’t made an appointment! I can’t be wasting my time here!”

The hyperactive catgirl paced around in a circle as she listed off all the things she neglected to arrange, then abruptly turned on her heel and ran towards the exit. She was already one foot out the door before Nao realized what was going on.

“Wait, hold up!” he called out to Keira, stopping her in her tracks.

“What?! Oh, sorry about this, but I really need to get going!”

“Can I borrow that mithril dagger you, uh, showed me earlier?”

The catgirl cocked an eyebrow, then unsheathed the weapon from her belt and held it up so everyone could see it.

“You mean this?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“I want to run some experiments on it.”

“What kind of experiments?”

“Oh, nothing special. Just some minor things to satisfy my curiosity.”

“… Can you swear my shin- my treasure will survive your ‘curiosity?’ I only just got it on my last adventure, you know.”

Keira’s Boxxy-ness very nearly spilled out in the middle there, but she managed to keep her act together. Despite what its Facade had stated, that weapon had been the shapeshifter’s constant companion for almost as long as Snack and Arms. It wasn’t like the blade held any particularly special meaning or sentimental value, but it getting ruined in some magical malfunction would not be tasty at all.

“I’ll give it back better than new,” promised Nao. “Even if I somehow break it, I’ll make sure to replace it.”

“… I’ll hold you to that, then. Hey, Kuro-!”

Keira flipped the weapon in her hand and grabbed it by the blade with three fingers.

“-Catch!”

She then abruptly threw it at the towering Berserker a bit faster than she should have.

“Hey, watch it!” he exclaimed as he just barely managed to catch it by the handle. “If I didn’t know any better I’d think you were trying to- Aaaaaand she’s gone.”

The frantic catgirl had already shut the door on her way out, long before he could finish voicing his complaint.

“… Must be nice,” lamented Nao.

“What is?” responded Kuro while handing him the borrowed blade.

“Having so many people to give gifts to.”

“Meh. Seems like just a waste of time, energy and money if you ask me. I don’t need some fancy holiday to go get pissed with my buddies, you know?”

The younger wolfkin ignored the snide comments as he looked at the old yet tenderly cared for weapon in his hand with a soft smile. He wasn’t initially sure why his patron insisted coming all the way here would be a learning experience, but now he understood. One could study arcane sigils, ancient artifacts and peculiar pink gems all they wanted, but it was people who remained the biggest mystery of them all.

And Keira? She was definitely one of the major ones. He wouldn’t go so far as to say meeting her had changed his life, but gaining her friendship had certainly been… enlightening. Just like a book that always had another page, he couldn’t help but feel there was always more to her than one would think. That enigmatic personality was what initially intrigued him about her, though the pretty face, nice figure, flawless skin and cheerful demeanor certainly helped draw him in further. It was a shame their relationship didn’t pan out like he was hoping, but it couldn’t be helped. Nor would his failed attempt at romance dissuade him from giving his new friend the type of gift only someone in his position could give someone like her.

“Come on, Kuro. I’m eager to find out how much mana this thing can hold!”

An enchantment that only a truly inspired Hero of Magic could produce.

“Just take it easy with this one, okay? My back still hurts from the last time you had that ‘inspired’ look in your eye.”

“Oh, nonsense! We got all the shrapnel out, didn’t we? Besides, that axe was steel, not mithril, so it’ll go much better this time around. In theory.”

Provided the weapon survived the treatment, of course.

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About the author

Exterminatus

  • Chestiest Chest That Ever Chested

Bio: I'm a programmer, a mythical creature that survives completely on beer and cynicism. We skulk in the dark, secretly cursing and despising everyone else. Especially other programmers.

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Ink Deity @Ink Deity ago

Thanks For The Meal~!

DracoThorn @DracoThorn ago

Thanks for the chapter!

sincron
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sincron @sincron ago

thanks for the chapter

Nemuria @Nemuria ago

how about an ability that lets boxxy plant something like a puppet parasite in his victim when he stabs in say the spine thus allowing keira to use that ability more openly cuz yk it would be just an enchantment on her dagger or maybe having the dagger be able to absorb blood which could not only be usefull for demonoligy rituals but maybe also be used for some sort of release ability with the dagger like a "bloodlust" buff where boxxy gets a damageboost equal to the blood absorbed. personally i like the blood one better.

    Wiggy @Wiggy ago

    Even if those were desirable, that'd be a very odd choice for Nao to make.

      Nemuria @Nemuria ago

      well the first one yeah but the blood one not so much. keira could after all request it empazing the usefullness such a thing could have cuz after all she does have her serious moments implemented into her personality which would make the request believable.

      Fred @Fred ago

      Keira doesn't even know he's going to enchant it, so she can't request anything.

      Nemuria @Nemuria ago

      unless i missed something the subject of enchanting her dagger wasnt even brought up in the story yet right? so when it is brought up keira can just request an enchantment. nao is hardly gonna just steal her dagger and randomly enchant it without asking her what kinda enchantment she wants.

      Fred @Fred ago

      Did you read the end of the chapter? He borrowed the dagger, saying he's going to run some experiments on it, but he plans to enchant it as a surprise gift to her.

      Nemuria @Nemuria ago

      yeah just did sorry taking that one back but still nao IS the hero of magic and a pretty smart guy so he should be very much thinking about efficiency and whatnot and a dagger is not a weapon made to fight but to assasinate so by allowing it to absorb blood to then temporarily give a damageboost one shots would be made much easier. nao doesent even know boxxy has the assasinate skill so he would be thinking that keira is a totoal novice with assasinating and dagger techniques so a damageboost would make sense

    jackalope @jackalope ago

    I'm sure Nao would want to make enchantments like those for the non-doppelganger, non-warlock hero of chaos.

    Nemuria @Nemuria ago

    looking at the popularity of the reverse recall you could even combine that with blood absorbtion and release ability by giving the dagger not only the bloodlust damageboost but multiple abilities including the reverse recall which are activated by different actions for example: activating the ability and throwing it could, by draining a certain amount or percentage of blood, lead to a reverse recall effect while activating the ability and striking with it while targeting an unsuspecting target could again consume a certain amount of blood to trigger the damageboost. I would think this kinda stuff should be within the hero of magics scope.

      Olinn @Olinn ago

      sure, nao could probably make those enchants, but why would he believe that kiera would want those kinds of effects?

      Nemuria @Nemuria ago

      its not about him believing she wants those but about what would be logically efficient and nao should be able to see thatb these enchantments would be really efficient

      jackalope @jackalope ago

      There are TONS of potential enchantments he could make that would be 'logically efficient'. Thats not a good enough reason for Nao to make specific enchantments for Keira that would just happen to be really useful for a doppelganger warlock.

      Nemuria @Nemuria ago

      The blood enchantment is focused on a ranger catgirl with high finesse and a bladedancer job that would instead of making one hits make many small hits thus drawing much blood so it makes extreme sense

      Olinn @Olinn ago

      again, he's making a gift for keira, thus the enchantment should be something that *he* believes *keira* would like. when has she ever shown herself to be the type of person that'd appreciate a gift like that?

      qwormuli @qwormuli ago

      Sorry to say, but it does not. Not by a longshot. You don't take blood with bladed weapons, you open wound channels and damage organs. Draining blood with "many small cuts" is even more far fetched, as then there is little contact with the opponent for the effect to proc, not to mention, that most(~all of it) of the bleeding occurs after the laceration. So giving her a dagger for some blood ritual, where the weapon in question is lodged in a large vessel for long periods of time(in a fight, nonetheless) is as weird as they come.

      Dagger isn't commonly an assasination tool(an assassination tool might be a dagger, but a dagger isn't very likely an assassination tool.), but a utility tool and a sidearm. So just presuming a ranger sidearm, that doesn't get in the way to be for puncturing throats of unaware, unarmed opponents would tell more about Nao than "Keira". With that in mind, wouldn't a transport enchantment make a lot more sense, considering that Keira has shown a penchant for dagger throwing, so reloads or rapid relocation would be a perfect fit. Also, the bloodrage or whatever would need a supply of blood from prior combat to give any damage advantage, so it would be more than just a little illogical for an assassin. Also, if Nao would suspect Keira to be an unpractised assassin(=doesn't have a lot of need for it), why would he want to give her something to improve her assassination, however inefficient the aid would be? And even without that, the contrived use of the encantment would place it quite far from being "efficient"(not a straight up unconformity like the rest, but still), if the latest chapters have anything to say about it, even if they could provide stacking benefits for someone of a different set of skills, than Keira "or" Boxxy.

      I might have come across as a bit snarky, but considering that i came up with all of this in a few minutes or so, saying that the would-be encantment you claimed fitting to be a farther asspull, than some of the shit in most overly grimdark settings would be selling it short. KISS(keep it simple, stupid) is a fitting rule of thumb in most of any design, and this doesen't seem to be any different. No need to pull a rulebook the size of a brick for a single effect, considering how convoluted a simple relocation effect could/will be.

      Exterminatus
      Premium
      Author

      Nemuria @Nemuria ago

      ok so first of all about the blood: the point of a bladed weapon is as you said to damage organs and cause bleeding. the point of the bleeding being to eventually cause bloodloss symptoms like dizzyness, loss of conciousness etc. if the weapon can absorb blood that would lead to faster bloodloss therefore making sense. the amount of contact a dagger has with a wound in a fast battle (cuz the assasin bit i will admit is when i think about it complete bullshit i will admit to that) is indeed a bit problematic but that depens on how much blood the weapon absorbs. i would think 0,5 seconds of contact to be kinda realistic maybe a bit much but if we say the weapon aborbs 100ml per second which i would think to be realistic if not kinda weak that would be 50 ml per hit meaning 1 liter in 10 hits and that much already causes severe dizzyness thus heavily impacting combat perfomance at which point a killing blow is well within range of possibility. secondly if a dagger isnt an assasination tool in a world without guns then what is? a dagger is light, easy to hide and fast to use. what else would you use lol. thirdly about relocation and bloodrage. relocation is indeed extremely usefull but i think that for an enchantment made by the hero of magic thats just not enough just my opinion and about bloodrage...well i didnt think that one through but if you for example say it needs 500 ml of blood to work for lets say 10 seconds then you could use it after 5 hits to finish an opponent faster so it kinda works tho like i said the assasin thingy was bullshit sorry bout that so ye yk imma defend the blood enchantment.

      Nemuria @Nemuria ago

      sorry bout that lol but here you go sir another wall donald trump would be crying tears of joy if he saw this shit

      Olinn @Olinn ago

      why would keira use a dagger in combat when a sword would be so much better? also 0.5 seconds of contact per hit would be optimistic at best and with a 100ml per second that'd ber 50 ml per hit, meaning 1 liter in 20 hits, not 10. and if 500 ml of blood would be 10 seconds of blood rage, then it'd take 10 hits, not 5.

      a dagger is simply not a good weapon for anyone. sure, an assassin might use a dagger, but they might also use a bow/crossbow or poison or any number of things, including magic. an assassin would really only use a dagger if they can sneak up on their target when they're sleeping, but in a fight against anyone that an assassin would be sent against, using a dagger would be suicide.

      qwormuli @qwormuli ago

      @Exterminatus You know me, my man(Well, probably don't, but could)! Also, you're the actual novelist here, i'm just a slightly drunk fiction and history loving cynic engaged in wallbuilding with fellow readers.

      @Nemuria About the uses for a dagger. What i meant with "an assassination tool might be a dagger, but a dagger isn't very likely an assassination tool" - is, that while an assassination is plenty possible with a dagger, 99% of daggers are not made nor worn with assassinations in mind, so Nao would be quite a heat seeking missile of refrigerator logic, if he just made a conclusion that a dagger for a ranger(a woodsman) would be for assassinating anyone. Also, assassination with magic. Not going to comment on the blood sucking enchantment anymore, as that ml stuff is just the type of in-universe metagaming, that doesn't really do it for me. Also, a laceration or an anticoagulant enchantment would be a shitton more efficient, effective, easy and fitting.

      Lol. better build textwalls on the internet, so Trump deasn't have to go bully the Mexican government for money. Or increase the symbol limit on Twitter again...

      @Olinn As a ranger, an unintrusive sidearm/universal tool would be of great help, but as she already uses a sword, you're quite correct on the sword bit. Maybe as a parrying tool/thrown weapon(historically different designs, but wthn?) Also, why almost every decent assassin wouldn't use magic predominantly is a good point. A lot less incriminating and easier to deny, than a crossbow with a poison tipped fragmenting bolt. Not to mention, that an assassin who has to fight before the target is dead is a bad assassin.

      Lastly, don't mid the typos, I'm using an unfamiliar laptop and i'm a bit tired and drunk.

       

      Fred @Fred ago

      At some point you guys will just have to accept that Nemuria is really committed to the blood draining dagger idea and will not be discouraged.

meddiman @meddiman ago

how about a charm ability it would ironic since nao had a crush on her

Sloth330 @Sloth330 ago

great chapter as always. btw every evolution for a monster is like a rank up for an enlighted especie?

Als @Als ago

REVERSE RECALL to make the ultimate grappling hook.

    Metrux32 @Metrux32 ago

    Uhh... It's actually NOT the ultimate grappling hook, since the hook is used to bring things to you, not only you to things. I do agree that the first part (bringing you to things) is much better than a common grappling hook Very Happy

Draconic @Draconic ago

Thanks for the new chapter!

About the dagger... The enchantment doesn't matter but it needs to become more shiny!