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The Sovereign States Alliance, which occupied the southeastern quadrant of the western continent called Atica, was a coalition of twenty-six city-states. It was among the most densely populated areas around, and the main reason why the Lodrak Empire to the west did not control the southern half of the continent. Individually these independent mini-nations would stand no chance against the military might of the Imperial armies, so the Alliance was formed to keep the human superpower at bay.

Which wasn’t to say humans were not a part of the Alliance. There were many tiny kingdoms and provinces that refused to yield and be absorbed into it, and all kinds of people and cultures made their home here. Humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, beastkin and even raptors had claims here, and their citizens were free to move about as they pleased ever since the Alliance’s formation roughly sixty years ago. The entire area had become something of a melting pot, to the point where it was impossible to say whether there was a dominant race or not.

Unfortunately, with so many societies, there were certain barriers that could not be overcome just because of a common enemy. Such was the case of the isolationist city-states of Valona and Eteria. These neighboring territories were the last bastions of the once-great Addams Theocracy, an ancient civilization that once dominated the heart of the continent. That was back then, though. These days the only thing it dominated was the bottom of the Oculus Sea.

Nevertheless, though the nation was gone, its people and traditions lived on. The enlightened in question were a race of beings known as nosferatu, and they were definitely the black sheep of the civilized world. The typical nosferatu had deathly pale skin, long beak-like noses, especially large and sharp canines, short pointed ears, a bald head and either red, yellow or black irises. The pretty ones, at least from their point of view, would also have facial scarring, lumpy scalp deformities, bloodshot eyes and crooked noses.

This race’s sense of beauty was not the only backwards thing about them. They were also nocturnal, rising with the sunset and going to sleep with the sunrise. A childhood filled with a certain amount of violence and misery was considered to be a good thing in their society, to the point where bullying was somewhat encouraged. They were also the only society in the world to primarily worship Mortimer, the God of Death and Commerce, which they did openly and without reservation. That was why their houses and buildings were all decorated with images of skulls, skeletons, gravestones, spikes and other macabre iconography.

A good example of their religious fervor was the castle-sized temple at the heart of Valona, known simply as the Black Cathedral. The massive stone structure was pitch black, as the name would suggest, and had a grand total of four wings and zero windows. The main hall was a wide and spacious area with bare stone floors, dim lighting, and religious symbols and scripts etched into the walls, giving it a depressing tomb-like atmosphere. Which was quite fitting, considering it was a temple to Death itself.

The grand double doors that served as the entrance to this place swung open, allowing a procession of six people in two loose columns to pass through. Four of them - the two in the front and two in the back - wore heavy black robes with white skull badges sewn onto the shoulders and right breast. The ones wearing these religious habits were nosferatu, though the long hoods obscured their features. One of the two visitors they were escorting was also of the same race, though his outfit was of a dark red vest, white undershirt and black trousers. The one next to him stood out even more, as he was a man way over two meters tall, wrapped in a billowing dark blue cloak and sporting a cloth face wrap that obscured all but his sharp yellow eyes.

“May I ask what you think of our magnificent temple, Esteemed Envoy?”

The fancy-dressed nosferatu spoke in a shrill, grating voice that sounded a lot like a bunch of rats trying to imitate enlightened speech.

“It certainly lives up to its name,” Sandman replied. “I’ve not seen a single statue, carving or surface that wasn’t completely and totally black. Even the torches and chandeliers burn with black flames. It’s like this place could eat the sun or something.”

“I thank you for those kind words, Esteemed Envoy.”

Those were by no means ‘kind words.’ Boxxy liked darkness as much as the next murderous man-eating box, but things were at their shiniest when bathed in light. Well, typically speaking anyway.

“And for the last time, stop calling me that. It’s weird.”

“If the Esteemed Envoy must insist, then I shall oblige. What should this faithful one call the Esteemed Envoy, Esteemed Envoy?”

“Just Sandman will do.”

“Ah. How… quaint. Right this way, please.”

The nosferatu, who had identified himself as ‘Cardinal Zeke’ earlier, guided his guest through one of the doorways lining the cathedral’s main hall. This part of the building must have been the dorms, as it showed actual signs of life as opposed to the barren decor of the previous chamber. Some rather questionable art lined the walls, a dark red carpet covered the black marble floor and the lit candles bore flames with a warm and familiar yellow glow.

Cardinal Zeke and his entourage guided Boxxy through the snake-like halls until they reached some sort of common area or mess hall. A total of thirty six masked youngsters in stereotypical form-fitting assassin garb were lined up in three neat rows, already standing at attention. They wordlessly saluted Zeke and Sandman’s arrival by slamming their left fist against the right side of their chest before clasping their hands behind their backs.

“Greetings children,” Zeke said as he stood front and center. “As all of you have been told, we have a special guest visiting us today. Esteemed Envoy, would you mind introducing yourself?”

The pompous cretin had ignored Boxxy’s request to drop that needlessly pompous title, so the shapeshifter paid him no attention in return. It instead strode over to the young boys and girls and stared each and every one of them down with a sharp glare. Their bodies were of a height and build resembling that of humans in their mid-to-late teens, though their limbs were slightly longer and their hearts were on the right side of their body. The shapeshifter was curious how the flavor of these blood pumps would compare to those of humans, but it could sample the local delicacies later.

“Ack-hem!” Cardinal Zeke forcefully cleared his throat. “Esteemed Envoy, may I have a word?”

Being ignored so brazenly had obviously injured the nosferatu’s pride. He was something of a local big shot, a member of some religious cult that called itself The Gravewalkers. They were essentially the ruling class of both Valona and Eteria, so he could not just keep quiet at Sandman’s blatant show of disrespect. He then reminded himself that, even if he was an outsider, and a particularly filthy one at that, Sandman was still a guest in this domain.

“Mister Sandman?”

“Yes, Cardinal Zeke?” the mercenary responded over his shoulder.

“Would you permit me to make a suggestion?”

“Of course. Asking is free.”

“Since this is a rather important decision, I think it would be best to start things off with a show of ability and skill. These students have been trained by us Gravewalkers since they were toddlers, and are eager to demonstrate the fruits of their training.”

“That would be pointless.”

“It… It would?”

“I am not looking for a show pony. I am looking for an assassin. A silent killer who will not be caught dead performing their duties. Frankly speaking, just the thought of them holding a ‘demonstration’ is an insult to their craft.”

“Ahah… y-yes… I suppose… Still-!”

“Besides, nearly anyone can learn to stab things to death. What I’m looking for is alertness and adaptability. An agile mind capable of making snap decisions when faced with unexpected circumstances is far more valuable than a strong sword arm or quick feet.”

“I will agree there is some wisdom in those words, but how do you expect to adquately test for such a quality?”

“I already have. You there! Step forward!”

The trainee Boxxy had pointed to was a young girl with the body of a sixteen year old human, if a little on the skinny side. The others threw her sideways glances filled with surprise while she calmly walked forward from the middle of the third row until she was standing right next to the towering visitor in front.

“What, that one?!”

“Do you have any objections, Cardinal Zeke?” Boxxy asked coldly. “Reasonable ones, that is.”

“I… I suppose not. Though the girl’s face and attitude are a bit unfortunate, she is no less capable than the rest of her peers.”

“I think you might be selling your disciple a bit short. Come girl, tell Zeke whether you noticed something out of place.”

The masked nosferata’s bright red eyes danced between the stranger and the Gravewalkers big-shot until a reassuring nod from Boxxy got her to speak up.

“There’s an intruder in the room.”

Her voice was quiet, crisp and clear, a far cry from the standard raspy and wheezy tones the shapeshifter had heard from the rest of her backwards race.

“And where is this intruder?” Sandman pressed.

“Right there.”

She pointed towards the upper right corner of the ceiling, right above the doorway that the congregation had walked through. The robed clergymen and the other assassins-in-training stared intently at the spot, but try as they might they could neither spot, hear nor feel anything that would constitute a foreign presence.

“Wait no,” she corrected herself. “It’s gone now, but I’m sure something was there just a minute ago.”

“And why didn’t you say anything?” Boxxy asked.

“Because I was told to keep my mouth shut unless spoken to.”

“What if your silence had allowed this intruder to, say, kill Cardinal Zeke?”

The girl stared at the flabbergasted cultist and grinned widely under her mask.

“I fail to see why I should care.”

Zeke’s face twisted in rage and disgust. He turned away from Sandman to hide his expression, but the monster’s MLG had already seen it. Those were doubtlessly words he had spoken many times to this girl, and was not enjoying being on the receiving end of them.

“I see,” Sandman nodded. “I suppose there’s not much point in keeping others in the dark anymore, though. You can come out now Claws.”

The room was gripped by a tense atmosphere, though nothing seemed to happen.

“Okay, let me put it this way. Come out now, Claws.”

Being ordered to rather than just asked, the tundra webstalker had no choice but to reveal herself. The ice-clad spider-demon dropped her optical camouflage, appearing seemingly out of thin air while dangling upside down from an string of webbing, right above the congregation of trainees. Dozens of pairs of surprised eyes were on her instantly, causing a certain amount of commotion such as hushed gasps or barely audible murmur. Drea’s pale blue cheeks turned several shades darker as she waved awkwardly to her confused audience.

“I’ll be taking this one, then. Thanks for the help, Cardinal Zeke. I’ll come back if I need a new one.”

Sandman picked up the girl he had selected and threw her over his shoulder like a bag of yams. She squirmed and struggled at being manhandled, but she was summarily ignored as Boxxy carried her out of the room. She quickly deduced that she had been pawned off to this guy without her knowledge or approval, so she stopped flailing about and let herself be carried out of the building and through the streets. She was smiling the whole time under her mask though. She greatly disliked Cardinal Zeke as a person, so seeing him being put in his place like that was quite entertaining.

“Uhm, are- Are you going to put me down now?” she asked once the pair were outside the city’s boundaries.

“That depends. Are you stupid enough to run away or try to stab me?”

“I don’t think I am.”

“Good enough.”

Boxxy put the petite girl down and gestured for her to follow it down the road. Which she did, though she had to jog lightly to keep up with the towering mercenary’s stride.

“So are you going to tell me what’s going on?”

“What, you weren’t told?”

“I’m never told anything. I’m not the most popular spectre cadet.”

“What’s a spectre?”

“Uh, hmm, it’s hard to explain to an outsider… I guess they’re something like a secret police. Mostly investigations, spying and scouting though, not so much stabbing people.”

“I see. Well, believe it or not, you were just chosen to audition for the position of Hero of Death.”

“… What?”

“You know what a Hero is, right?”

“No, I do. It’s just that, I thought Gods chose their own Heroes.”

“Usually yes, but Mortimer’s a special case. He lets his representative pick who will replace them upon their inevitable demise, under the condition that he trains and educates them.”

“But… You’re not the Hero of Death.”

“And how would you know that?”

“Because Zeke would’ve kissed your ass a lot harder otherwise.”

“Hm. That’s true, I suppose.”

Strictly speaking, the man in question knew Sandman was ‘an envoy of Mortimer in need of a youth skilled in subteruge,’ but that was the extent of the divine revelation his cult had been sent.

“So… Why are you here picking out the next Hero if you’re not the current one?”

“Because the previous one messed up and got himself and his protege killed. The line of succession is broken, so Mortimer has to start over from scratch. I was hired to come here on his behalf and pick out the most suitable one from those Gravewalker people’s disciples.”

“My question still stands. Why you, of all people?”

Simply put, it was because Boxxy got a Quest from Mortimer. It actually got quite a few of those from the celestial undertaker following the completion of the first one. The Mimic could only speculate at who took out its final target and why, but it wasn’t about to complain. The purging of Necromancers from the Order of the Black Wand was officially settled, and the shapeshifter didn’t need to waste time on crossing the southern ocean. It just wished someone had done the same and offed Edward and his pals in its stead, though it did earn a nice prize for its efforts.

The Gilded Hand had gathered a total of seven low-class dungeon cores before they fell from grace, and Boxxy had used the confusion to claim all of them for itself.

“Because I piss rainbows and shit gold.”

Back to the topic at hand though, it didn’t need or want to tell this girl anything, so it gave her a sarcastic answer.

“Gross. So you’re going to be my trainer or something, right? What’s the first lesson?”

“Depends. Mind telling me who you are and what your deal is?”

“You don’t even know who I am? Did you just pick me at random or something?”

“Answer the question.”

“Fine. My name is Kaede and-”

“No it’s not.”

“… How did you-”

“I have a nose for bullshit.”

In truth, it was the monster’s pilfered Eyes of the Dead God Skill. It clearly showed this nosferata’s name as Mira, not Kaede. The girl opened her mouth as if to question that statement, but decided not to argue over trivialities.

“Sorry, but I refuse to call myself by the name given to me by my piece of shit parents.”

“Explain.”

The nosferata began telling her life’s story. The short version was that she was abandoned as an infant, likely because of her exceptionally ugly face. She grew up as a street rat ignored by society at large, mostly due to her face. She learned from a very young age how to not be seen, and was so good at it she obtained the Stealth Skill while she was still a snot-nosed brat.

Her life changed shortly afterwards, with the catalyst being some random boy she saw in the street and got a crush on. She tried to introduce herself, but her disgusting face made him run away crying. So instead she followed him around while hiding herself so that she could learn more about him without scaring him with her face. Eventually she learned the kid had an abusive mother who beat him nightly. Not the ‘disciplining an unruly child’ kind of beatings, but the far less productive ‘taking out one’s frustrations on an innocent’ sort of abuse.

Thinking this older boy might overlook her unfortunate face if she helped him out, the resourceful hoodlum snuck into their home and put some poisonous herbs into her wine. The first stage of her cunning plan worked, with the mother dying under mysterious circumstances a few days later. Thinking this was her chance, Mira covered her face up in some filthy rags and revealed what she’d done to the boy, hoping to earn his gratitude. However, never knowing a parent’s love herself, she had underestimated how much the woman meant to her only child.

It was at this point she was thrown in jail for first-degree murder, which was where the Gravewalkers found her. An orphan who had killed someone because she didn’t know any better was apparently the perfect type of child to be indoctrinated into their cult to the God of Death. Mira was then enrolled into the spectre program, which involved rigorous training and a specialized education. She was, however, more interested in the safe place to sleep and three hot meals a night than their religious propaganda.

In fact, she liked them so much that she started calling herself ‘Kaede,’ which was the name of a local blood sausage dish. It was her favorite food, which helped her overcome much of the malnourishment she suffered in her youth, though she was unable to recover from it completely. She was as healthy a young woman as she could get, but her figure was thinner and flatter than other nosferata, to the point where she could pass for a male if she dressed right. Assuming she concealed her facial hideousness, of course.

“So you grew up a fucked up person because of your face, huh?” the shapeshifter summarized.

“More or less,” Kaede confirmed with a nod.

“Do you have a complex about it? You won’t freak out if it’s exposed or anything, right?”

“No, but walking around without a mask makes me feel uncomfortable.”

“Better start getting used to it then,” Sandman cautioned her. “Looks can be just as much as a weapon as any blade. And trust me when I say that yours are like a crossbow that fires swords that explode into more swords.”

“Oh? You mean like psychological warfare?” she asked, cupping her chin thoughtfully. “Come to think of it, I’m often told my smile can make people vomit. I just haven’t thought of using that in combat until now.”

“That’s… not quite what I had in mind. Right now I want you to practice on reversing that thinking of yours. That getup you’re wearing right now should represent your true self, while this will be your mask.”

Kaede’s concealing headgear was removed with a sudden hand movement on Boxxy’s part, revealing that she was indeed a hideous freak by her people’s standards. Which meant she was unbelievably gorgeous by anyone else’s. The flawless white skin, bright red eyes and short black hair gave an exotic allure that could rival even Keira’s weapons-grade cuteness. In fact, the nosferata’s physical appearance had given Boxxy a few ideas on how to subtly make its fictitious catgirl character even more beautiful.

“This… isn’t this just you being an asshole?” Kaede mumbled, clearly disturbed by this turn of events. “Please give me back my mask.”

“No. I told you, you need to get used to this. Trust me, it’ll be better for you in the long run.”

Boxxy would have to thoroughly educate this ignorant girl that it was just this insignificant society that thought of her as ugly. She likely had no idea that was the case, as the nosferatu city-states had closed their borders tight as part of an isolationist policy that only allowed a select number of people in or out of their territories. Though such a thing probably had its benefits, there were some very clear downsides.

Most notable of which was the fact that the average nosferatu knew nothing of the world outside their homeland. The vast majority of them hadn’t even seen an ‘outsider’ nor did they wish to. This xenophobic attitude, though understandable, made them unsuited to serve as chosen Heroes of the Gods. After all, Heroes had to travel far and wide and make contact with many different cultures and races as they went about their lives and carried out the wishes of their patron deities.

That was why Mortimer requested one of the Gravewalker kids. They had the training and religious education he was looking for, but were still impressionable youngsters that weren’t completely set in their elders’ close-minded ways. Kaede’s ‘unfortunate face and attitude,’ as Zeke put them, were a big part of why Boxxy had chosen her over the others since they would help her blend in with the rest of the world. One could say this was the main reason why the shapeshifter was actually here. There were many people who could teach Kaede the finer points of being a silent killer, but exceedingly few who could show her how to fit into a society. And Boxxy T. Morningwood was arguably the only one who could do both.

First things first though, now that the Mimic knew what sort of person it was dealing with, it moved onto what she could actually do in a fight.

“What’s your Job composition like?”

“Uhm, I’m a 41 Rogue and a 25 Ranger.”

“Uh-huh. And how old are you?”

“Six.”

“I see.”

This was yet another way that nosferatu differed from the world at large - their accelerated life cycle. A nosferatu pregnancy would only last for about a hundred days. Once born, the infant would develop rapidly, becoming physically, mentally and legally an adult in five years compared to the fifteen that other enlightened races needed. However, this accelerated aging also meant they had significantly shorter lifespans, with the average nosferatu dying of old age roughly two decades sooner than their human counterparts.

And yet they had still managed to dominate a continent, which was only made possible by the fact that nosferatu gained Skill and Job Levels nearly twice as fast as ‘normal’ people. This trait allowed them to achieve much in their relatively short lives. In theory, they had the potential to have three times as many Rankers per capita as the rest of the continent’s residents. The only problem was that achieving Level 100 invariably required getting out of their city-state-sized comfort zone, so in practice nosferatu VIPs were practically non-existent.

All of this was very good news for Boxxy, because it meant that this Kaede woman would be a very fast study. And the sooner she got her act together, the sooner it could get ‘paid’ in the form of having its pesky Cat Job removed.

“Uh, Mister Sandman, was it?”

“What is it, Kaede?”

“Where are we going, exactly?”

“I was told there is a retired potion seller and alchemy teacher living in this area. We’re going to have him teach you the basics of the Alchemist Job. That way you can use your downtime to get stronger, make your own specialized poisons, and also give you a potential source of income. Oh, I’m also going to have you take care of any transactions or haggling that happens at that Alchemist’s place. That way I can see how well you handle your finances.”

“Finances? Really?”

“Of course. Mortimer is the God of Death and Commerce, so his Hero needs to be able to handle both murder and marketplaces to a professional degree of competence.”

“… So you’re not having me pay just because you’re a cheapskate?”

“Definitely not. This is serious Hero business.”

“Uh-huh, sure it is. Unfortunately, I did not bring any money with me. Partly because you kind of kidnapped me, but mostly because I don’t have any in the first place.”

The Gravewalkers provided for her by feeding her, clothing her and giving her a roof over her head. It was not an arrangement that involved a regular salary or allowance.

“That’s fine, I’ll loan you some gold to start with.”

“What? Why would I want gold?”

“Because that’s what money is made out of?”

Surely this girl wasn’t that out of touch with reality.

“No it’s not. I don’t know what ass-backwards country you come from, but we trade with lead coins here.”

“Okay but why though?”

“Uh, because lead has value while gold is worthless?”

“Excuse you and your entire race?”

“What? Gold’s ugly, soft and heavy. I fail to see why anyone would be interested in that junk over the flexibility and ruggedness of lead.”

At that moment in time, Boxxy began to wonder if Mortimer would mind if the nosferatu ‘accidentally’ went extinct. Then again, if these folks considered gold to be without value, then couldn’t the shapeshifter acquire all they have dirt cheap? Assuming they had any, of course. Not to mention that the entire reason it liked money was because money was shiny, but this was not so in this particular culture. It was an idea the monster could easily get behind since it would feel much easier about spending its wealth.

“In any event, you better give this your all,” it warned the nosferata. “Your life depends on it.”

“I, uh, better take notes then.”

And so she did, though perhaps not quite the sort of notes she should have been taking.

Kaede’s observation log

Night 1

This ‘Sandman’ character is kinda weird. He’s supposed to be a Warlock yet he’s way too good at sneaking about, especially for a guy his size. I tried following him after we parted ways for the day, but he just disappeared somewhere around a corner. Makes me feel silly for training the Ranger Job. Tracking people was kind of the whole reason I got it in the first place. Well, I guess that’s to be expected considering Mortimer sent him, but I have much bigger problem to worry about - where am I supposed to sleep?

Night 2

I got scolded tonight. Apparently breaking into a farmer’s house, tying them up and locking them in the basement just so I could sleep in their bed was a no-no. Not sure why Sandy cares, he’s killed hundreds of folks. I think. Pretty sure he’s the same ‘Demon Tamer’ me and the others were warned about awhile back in that security briefing. Wonder if he’ll let me meet his familiars?

Night 3

Damn, those were some ugly familiars. The stalker Sandy used to test me back at the cathedral was kinda cute from certain angles, but otherwise - ew. I probably shouldn’t talk since my face is terrible too, but that blue skinned one with the freakishly large breasts - that was a wake up call. I guess what they say about demons embodying the worst parts of mortals was true after all.

Night 5

Learned that Sandy gets real mad if I try to steal his gold. Also learned that healing potions, open wounds and foreign objects stuck in said open wounds are not a pleasant combination. Note to self - don’t ever touch his gold, even as a prank.

Night 8

We raided a cave today. Not sure why, but we did. Well, ‘we’ isn’t right. I was sent in to clear it out of monsters alone. I think it was intended to be some kind of test, but he was seriously underestimating me if that was the case. Nosferatu can see in the dark, and I’ve been killing giant spiders for almost a year now. It’s how us spectre trainees get our Levels most of the time.

Problem is I still don’t see a reason why he had me do that. Nothing in there but a bunch of glowing crystals, and I’m fairly certain those don’t have any practical use. They just sort of fall to pieces if you try to remove them from the walls, so that leads me to believe he has other plans for this place. I’ll just sleep here and wait until he comes back tomorrow to find out.

Night 9

He blew it up.

Night 10

Left the country tonight. Didn’t even bother with checkpoints or security, just teleported across the border. The walls should have anti-teleportation countermeasures, so what gives? Then again I’ve never heard of that Transfer-something spell so… whatever.

Night 11

First time in a human village. The elders weren’t kidding, these humans are repulsive. Not just the faces, I’m pretty used to seeing ugly every time I looked in a mirror. What really ticks me off is how filthy they are. How can they live with that much sweat on them? And the air had this prevalent stench of manure. Granted, I’m not much to talk since I don’t get to wash my body as often as I’d like, but I’m on the road with a shady mercenary. These humans have no excuse. It’s shameful, really. Don’t they know that cleanliness is next to godliness?

Night 16

Okay, it’s been a while since my last entry. Mostly because I’ve been too tired to bother. Who knew haggling was so hard? I learned a lot though. Like the fact that ‘getting my point across’ and ‘stabbing someone in the face’ were not synonyms. Or that murdering someone who ripped you off causes more problems than it solves. Oh, and that people with authority are dicks. I mean, I already knew that since cuntface Zeke’s one too, but it’s good to know the rest of the world is like that too.

Night 17

A huge six-legged cat-thing I hadn’t seen before crept up on the camp we made on the edge of a forest. Sandy said it was a janther, though not before he grabbed it by the neck and suplexed it into the ground for a one-hit KO. I didn’t think I would ever see several hundred kilograms of monster being flung about like a ragdoll, yet here we are. He then continued fiddling with a weird bundle of metal plates and wires as if nothing had happened.

Actually, he’s been doing that for the past few days now. Wonder what it’s all about.

Night 18

It was a bomb.

Oh, also saw Sandy’s face. It was incredibly handsome. Lucky bastard.

Night 20

So I finally got praised today. I made my first Superior-quality necrotic poison with alchemy. Sandy seemed impressed, but I guess he didn’t know nosferatu had a knack for that sort of stuff because of our sensitive noses. Still, gotta admit it felt pretty good to be complimented on something I’d put together on my own. It was pretty fun too, doing things with my hands. Well, other than stabbing stuff or stuffing my face with food.

Incidentally I’ve gotten more used to the taste of janther meat than I would like. It’s no kaede sausage, but at least it’s free.

Night 22

Arrived at some island off the shore of the Oculus Sea. Was filled with vampires, ones that have been there for a long time. Seeing the undead version of my own people was… not pleasant. Neither was the Blight. Or the sunlight. Vampires hate it even more than living nosferatu though, so we managed to accomplish our objective of slipping in and out of the old fort there without being swarmed. We salvaged some type of relic, looked like a ring made of bone with a tiny laughing skull instead of a gemstone. It was a cute design, but I have no idea what sort of meaning it held beyond the obvious connection to Mortimer.

Night 23

We continued clearing the island today. Mopped up most of the small fry, but took a while since they were spread out. Had a pair of old stone golems roaming around too. Probably some type of old security system judging by how they ignored the ‘residents.’ Sandy told me to take care of those myself, knowing full well that daggers and poisons have no effect on them. Still won though. Managed to lead the brainless dolls to a cliff overlooking the sea and make them tumble down it. They probably survived the fall but won’t be able to make it back up the cliff without causing a rockslide.

I’m more worried about tomorrow. We’re going to tackle purifying the central fort. And while I’m more than happy to release my ancestors (I assume) from their cursed existence, I am worried whether we can do that. There were a LOT of vampires in there.

Night 24

Nevermind. Sandy just blew it up.

I think I’m starting to see a pattern here.

Night 27

Joined a guild today, place called ‘Wet Bandits.’ No idea what’s up with the name, probably some idiotic inside joke. Wasn’t thrilled about the idea, but Sandy made me do it since my Rogue Job reached Level 50 with all the killing we’ve been doing and I needed a trainer to keep it going. He made me advance Ranger too, even though I only use it for the Tracking, Fleet Footed and Throwing Arm Skills. Got a bunch of weird looks when I was asked to take off my mask. Or, ‘put on my mask’ as Sandy kept calling it.

Anyway, my job for the moment is to get used to the adventurer life on my own while my boss went off to handle his private matters. Joke’s on him though. Now that he’s gone I can finally slack off!

Night 28

Or not. I couldn’t settle down after spending nearly every night for the past month either fighting or on the road so I did a quick monster elimination Quest. Damned Sandy and his boot camp, now I can’t even relax unless I know I’ve done something productive. At least the inn I’m staying at offers a wooden tub and complimentary hot water for bathing, though I think they don’t like me asking for that at sunset, midnight and sunrise. Well, I earned some money today so hopefully I can use it to buy off their displeasure.

Seriously though, paying people with gold feels weird as fuck.

Night 30

Came back to the inn to find that ring from the vampire-infested island on the nightstand along with a note from Sandy. He told me to wear it at all times and that either he or Mortimer will contact me ‘when the time is right.’ I don’t mind since the ring looks neat, but I can’t seem to take it off now. I’m gonna be pretty pissed if it turns out I got slipped cursed equipment.

Night 31

Someone tried to rape me today. Cornered me in an alley while I was in casual clothes, even demanded my body and tried to force me down and everything. I was flattered, but he wasn’t my type, so I gave him the slip. As in I slipped the retractable knife hidden in my boot into his groin. I really should thank Sandy for making that thing for me, it really comes in handy. Or is that ‘comes in footy?’ Is that even a thing people say?

Whatever the case, I’m just glad it didn’t explode.

Night 33

Finally got that ring appraised by an enchanter. Good news is it’s not cursed. Bad news is they couldn’t identify it. It’s clearly a magic item but I still have no idea what it does. Well, I guess I can live with it so long as it isn’t cursed.

Night 34

Met a bunch of humans and dwarves while out on a Quest. Well, not so much ‘met’ as in ‘saved them from a roaming pack of undead ghouls.’ I really wish these pinkskins would learn to tend to their dead better. You’d never see this many walking corpses back home. Or any, for that matter. Even if they appear they’re purified with extreme prejudice, and I think I’m starting to understand why Mortimer hates them. They’re super fucking gross.

Thankfully I had a Shower In a Bottle on me so I was able to rinse myself off right away. Man, those elves up north come up with some really handy stuff, don’t they? I should pay them a visit once this Hero apprenticeship thing is settled. Assuming I’m still alive, of course.

Night 37

Apparently I now have a reputation around town as ‘the Soggy Princess.’ Humans are weird.

Night 41

Okay, I’ve been giving some serious thought to what Sandy was talking about with that mask business. I’m used to being treated differently whenever my face was on display, but these people don’t ridicule or avoid me like my countrymen. They give me things. Like discounts. Or flowers. I thought it was out of pity since they’re good folk, but now I’m not so sure.

Not after that guy from the guild, think his name was Alex? Anyway, he straight up proposed to me in the street. He was quite serious too, had an engagement ring and delivered a speech and everything. I shut him down of course. Mostly because he always reeked of booze, garlic, and grilled cheese. Just because my self-esteem isn’t the best doesn’t mean my standards are just as low, you know! Still, the way he was talking about ‘ethereal beauty’ and whatnot got me thinking.

Could it be… these people don’t actually find me ugly?

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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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Comments(122)
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bloodadept @bloodadept ago

Thank you for the chapter

Edit: Perfect timing, i had just sat down at my computer after walking the dog when the notification popped up. smile

Fab-sama @Fab-sama ago

Mira is gonna be an amazing character.

 (it always suprises me how fast people click on these)

HyugaisJester @HyugaisJester ago

Thanks for the chapter! Gonna read this before a night out!

Belgarion @Belgarion ago

Thanks for the chapter!

PrimeOdin @PrimeOdin ago

Thanks for the chapter. I love the journal entries.

StartingLine @StartingLine ago

Basically short-lived drows, huh? Nice to see our destruction-orientated-murderbox from a different perspective.