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A note from Exterminatus

Yet more fanart.

Boxxy before it was Boxxy, by CheesusCrust
Golem of Divine Cutlery, by Lion Mask
Boxxy fanart, by Sadistic Rat
Minic and Snek colorized, by Treborkcol (original sketch by dmaxcustom)

It was another typical day for the tree named Yuul. It stood perfectly still with its feet planted in the loose dirt and its limbs raised towards the sky. The roots growing out from underneath it greedily sucked up the forest soil’s nutrients, while its leaf covered branches eagerly absorbed the sun’s rays. It thankfully hadn’t snowed lately despite the winter season, so the plant didn’t have to worry about ice or the ground freezing over. Such things were not much of a problem for a sturdy oak like Yuul, but they would most certainly be an inconvenience.

Of course, being able to think and have opinions also meant that Yuul was no mere tree. Though it certainly looked like one on the surface, it was actually a treant, a twelve meter tall plant monster that could walk on its own and swat annoying pests with a single swing of its arm. It wasn’t always one, though. Yuul used to be something completely different until it Ranked Up into a treant, which made it considerably more powerful than the rest of its kind. Not only in terms of Attributes, but also the various magics and abilities that were not normally available to the rest of its species.

The Deep Roots Skill was not one of those, however. This treant Skill not only allowed it to feed off of the nutrients in the soil and the sun’s energy like a regular oak, but it also greatly widened its perception when it did so. Yuul was able to spread its awareness in a staggering three hundred meter radius, gaining the ability to hear anything and everything that tread the forest soil. Granted, it was only limited to things that walked on the ground or swung from trees, but it was more than enough to spot any potential threats.

Such as those troublesome pair of feet that seemed to be wandering around the fringe of Yuul’s perception. The monstrous tree couldn’t see who they belonged to, but a lot could be gleaned from their shape, size, and the length of the stride. Using that information, Yuul was able to determine those footprints belonged to an adventurer who was the size and build of a female human, elf or beastkin that was a little on the heavy side. A very troublesome individual to be sure, as any creature that crossed their path seemed to wind up as nothing more than a wet smear on the ground in an instant. The minor tremors this stranger sent through the soil whenever they attacked indicated they did so with overwhelming brute force rather than magic or precision.

The most worrisome thing about this person, however, was the winding yet meticulous path they were walking. This was not someone who knew exactly where they were going, nor were they lost - they were searching for something. And given the body count that Yuul had racked up over the years, it was quite obvious what that superbly powerful adventurer’s target was. This forest certainly didn’t have any other creatures that warranted that level of overwhelming strength. The treant wasn’t all that worried though. After all, no matter how powerful this person was, they were ultimately but one being.

Yuul, on the other hand, had reinforcements that numbered in the thousands.

The visitor kept methodically searching the area for most of the day. They darted in and out of range of the treant’s Deep Roots as they were undoubtedly searching the entire forest. They did so in a methodical manner, somehow avoiding treading the same ground twice. It was rather obvious this person was used to scouring the wilderness, so it was rather inevitable that they’d eventually stumble upon Yuul.

Of course, the treant wouldn’t just sit and wait for the fight to come to it. Picking out an opportune time during the night, the monster uprooted itself from its spot and relocated to a part of the forest the stranger had already checked. It found a dense-looking copse of trees and planted itself among them, making sure to cover any tracks it made in the process. And on the next morning, the adventurer resumed their search, having no idea that their target had already vacated the area.

Yuul seemed to be in the clear, but about a week later the stranger appeared again, doing the exact same thing but going in the opposite direction. The treant once again gave them the slip much like it had the first time, and the same thing happened the week after that, albeit at a more fervent pace. That seemed to be their limit, as the foreign presence did not return the following week, for which Yuul was very grateful. The persistence of this mysterious figure was both infuriating and commendable, but that was merely more the reason for the treant to avoid them.

It was therefore quite startled when, about ten days after the last sweep, that same pair of feet it had been avoiding suddenly landed in Yuul’s thicket. The intruder was revealed to be a human woman, much like the tree-monster had deduced. She was wearing a heavy gray cloak, obscuring her partially scarred frame. A hood covered her raven black hair, though it could do nothing to hide the sharp glare in her yellow eyes or the ice-cold expression on her face. She held a plain-looking metal staff in her left hand, though the arm itself was unnaturally thick and covered in rough dark green bark.

The human looked around, her sight lingering on each of the seven trees in her vicinity. But, much as she had suspected, sight alone was not enough to differentiate her quarry from the actual trees. The information she was given when she accepted this Quest explicitly stated that, unlike normal treants, the one called ‘Blackbark’ could completely disguise itself to look like a mundane oak. Reports said it was also significantly more vicious and powerful than its contemporaries and also had access to Druid magic. The only way to account for this gap in ability was to conclude that Blackbark was a monster that had Ranked Up into a treant. Though it wasn’t known what its original species was, it was hard to deny that the extra Attributes, Skills and life experience made it into a terrifying opponent.

Which was precisely why the woman that once went by the codename ‘Zone’ was here to begin with, much to Opia’s chagrin. The elven Druid in question had been acting as Jen’s de-facto manager and occasional wrangler over the past two years. She was usually the one to act as a go-between with clients since the Monk had exceptionally terrible people skills. It also didn’t help that she was a fugitive from the Empire, though the elf was willing to overlook that side of her. She was not the kind of person to judge one based on their past affiliations, especially when Jen had been such a reliable and capable companion to her. She had grown to care for the Monk as a friend and as a comrade despite her spotty past, so she tried her best to keep her out of trouble.

Unfortunately, this was not a trip Opia could prevent. There was no stopping Jen once she had gotten wind of a superbly powerful entity she could truly test herself against, even if it meant infiltrating the Republic like she was currently doing. At the same time, the bounty offered by the guy who approached them with information on Blackbark was extremely enticing, as was the 1,500 GP advance payment. The reward seemed to be more than worth the risk, so Opia’s ‘bad feeling’ alone was not enough to dissuade Jen from undertaking the Quest of her own free will, so she decided to let her be. It simply wasn’t the elf’s place to tell someone else how to live their life, nor was she physically capable of stopping her in the first place.

That didn’t mean Opia was going to let her business partner go on this transcontinental trip by herself, however. Doing so was bound to end poorly in some way or another, but the elf was unable to come personally due to some prior responsibilities she had back in Velos. That was why she asked Snek to keep the Monk out of trouble in her stead. Not in the ‘don’t let her get eaten by a monster’ sort of trouble, but more in the sense of ‘make sure she doesn’t start another war.’ Reading people’s true intentions was one of the house mimic’s original directives and it honestly sort of liked the woman’s quiet and straightforward personality, so it agreed to keep her company.

And it was a good thing for Jen that it did, otherwise she would still be going around in circles. The snake-shaped bracelet had tightened around her right wrist when she was flying over this area, prompting her to investigate it. She had seen firsthand that Snek’s ability to sense danger was alarmingly accurate, and that signal just now implied it sensed a threat to its wearer. Which did not happen often, considering Jen’s ridiculous combat ability.

Now that it was in this grove, however, the sentient serpentine bracelet was unable to determine precisely where said threat actually was. It was capable of sensing danger, but that was more like a reflexive or instinctive reaction than a thing it could control at will. It knew one of these oaks was a terrible monster, but not which one. Jen didn’t seem too perturbed by this though, as she gripped her staff with both hands and widened her stance.

Recognizing the subtle look of ‘I’ll just smash them all’ on her face, Snek made the wise decision to untangle itself from the Monk’s wrist and slither away into the undergrowth. It didn’t need those abnormally accurate survival instincts to know it wouldn’t survive the forces involved if that woman went all out while it was still attached to her. That proved to have been the right decision, as Jen swung that metal rod of hers at the nearest tree. The resulting impact was so ridiculous that the oak’s trunk just snapped in half like an oversized twig. There was a deluge of splinters as the now severed upper half of the tree being sent flying and spinning, landing several meters away with a loud crash.

The Monk nodded in a calm manner as if to say ‘guess that one wasn’t it,’ then wasted no time and repeated the process, obliterating a second tree in the blink of an eye. When she swung towards the third, however, the tree fought back. Thick vine-like roots whipped out of the ground and towards Jen’s head, but they were batted away with one hand as if they were naught but a nuisance. The rebellious vegetation could do little to stop Jen from smashing up the next tree she was aiming for, though that also proved to be a normal oak.

Being next in line to be demolished by this crazy human, Yuul had no choice but to reveal its identity. Its branches fell off, its trunk split apart and its roots rose from the ground. In the blink of an eye, the ordinary-looking tree transformed into a twelve meter tall humanoid plant monster. Jen, who was still being pestered by a collection of vines and roots, had barely enough time to leap out of the way of its attempts to kick her away like a human-shaped ball. She did a series of cartwheels and backflips, putting a good bit of distance between herself and the monster.

And once she did so, she was finally able to understand why this monster bore the nickname ‘Blackbark.’ It wasn’t visible while it was hiding due to the extra foliage, but now that it was out in the open it was impossible not to notice the treant’s face. It was a visage that looked as if someone had carved a pair of eyes and a jagged maw into its bark, but it was burned so thoroughly black that it resembled charcoal more than plant matter. The eye sockets in particular were completely hollow and lacked the dim green light that would normally pour out of them, implying that this old wound had rendered the creature blind.

That did not stop it from swinging its hand down at Jen though. Admittedly it wasn’t completely on target, but with a fist that big, it didn’t need to be. The Monk sidestepped the blow, letting it miss her by a narrow margin so that she could strike at the limb with her weapon. Unfortunately the treant’s fist had caused the ground to shake, disturbing Jen’s footing and keeping her from putting as much force behind her counterattack as she wanted. It was still enough to knock the tree’s limb to the side, but the damage done was a glancing blow at best, nor did it throw Blackbark off balance.

In fact, the creature had pulled the hand away on its own in order to swing its other arm in a sweeping motion across the forest floor. This was the point where Jen’s Ultimate Skill, the Spirit Guardian, showed its face. The Monk’s blue-tinted ethereal clone leapt out of her body and punched the log-sized limb, parrying it so completely that it stopped in place. The flesh-and-blood Jen used this moment to leap at the treant, smashing it in the torso so hard that the lumbering pile of lumber was blown back with an ear-splitting groan. It stumbled backwards, yet managed to kick at the human without falling over, transitioning into another sweeping motion. Both attacks missed, but it was hard to deny Blackbark possessed a degree of balance and agility one would not expect from a creature that huge.

However, what followed was a completely one sided beatdown where anything Yuul tried to do was crushed with brute force alone. Any physical attack it made was either dodged or repelled, regardless whether it was using its own limbs or swinging around one of the fallen over tree trunks. Willing roots and vines to spring out of the ground to try and constrict the Monk proved equally futile. Conjured helpers such as golems formed from soil and mud or full-sized timber body doubles were reduced to dust and splinters with a few well-placed blows. Even covering the area in various toxic spores did little to deter its opponent since it lacked the mystic might to overcome her resistances.

But while the treant was unable to land a single clean attack on the Monk, each of Jen’s strikes were gradually smashing apart Yuul’s body. The monster was somehow surviving, but it was mostly by virtue of being large enough to have the Colossal Vitality Perk. This ability quadrupled the effects of the END Attribute, giving it four times as much HP as other creatures of a similar Level. Combined with the small array of defensive Skills Yuul already had, it turned it into a veritable walking fortress.

However, no matter how impressive its HP was, it was still a finite number. As far as its defenses went, while certainly formidable, they were simply not as potent when facing someone with a four digit STR Attribute.

Legendary Strength
Description: A being whose raw physical might is the stuff of legends.
Requirements: Reach 1,000 Strength (STR).
Effects: Increases base muscle strength by 10%.
Melee physical damage ignores 20% of target’s defenses.

All things said and done, it took the former Gilded Hand operative a grand total of three minutes to reduce the self-styled tyrant of these forests to a veritable pile of mulch. The treant had both of its legs snapped off at the knees, one arm completely torn off and its torso was missing about a quarter of the mass it originally had. Being no longer able to stand, Yuul was lying in the dirt with its back to the ground and Jen standing triumphantly on its wide face. She had her metal staff lodged in the monster’s mouth to prevent its chanting of Druid Spells and was staring down at it with a glare that demanded more of the monster. The gesture was entirely wasted on the blinded creature, but she wasn’t making it consciously. As entertaining as this bout had been, she had not had nearly enough excitement to warrant all those days she spent searching for this blasted thing.

But ‘old Blackbark’ had nothing more to give. Both its body and vitality were in tatters, and what little MP it had left would be worthless against this overwhelming foe. Its sightless eyes were closed in what appeared to be defeat, while a low continuous groan of frustration rolled out of its open maw. Yuul had been so completely beaten that there was no doubt in its mind the only way it would win against this opponent was if they were to somehow expire due to old age. That didn’t seem like it would happen anytime soon though, as anyone with this much vigor was unlikely to just drop dead.

Just as Jen was realizing the sentient log had all but given up, she suddenly saw a glimmer of something in the leaves and moss that made up the monster’s head. Suspecting- no, expecting that to be some last ditch effort to turn the tables, she dashed towards the disturbance and reached into the treant’s ‘hair.’ Her prosthetic left arm grabbed hold of something, which she brought out and pinned against the creature’s forehead.

The creature she had caught turned out to be a thirty centimeter bug-thing that looked like it had two legs and four arms. It had a clearly defined head and neck, with tiny mandibles, green gem-like eyes and what appeared to be a single broken horn adorning its forehead. Its long, slender, and vaguely humanoid body was covered in a shiny black carapace and it had two mangled insect wings poking out of its back that fluttered uselessly. The rest of it struggled in an equally pathetic manner as it chirped frantically, but could do nothing to escape the Monk’s grip. After all, it was a mere horned beetle sprite, a species of monster so pathetically weak even freshly born goblins thought of them as nothing more than afternoon snacks.

As for why such a creature was hiding inside Yuul’s scalp, it was because they had become something akin to partners. Both of them had lost something to adventurers - one was rendered blind, while the other had its ability to fly stripped from it. The agreement they somehow came to upon finding each other was rather simple. The treant would act as a mobile shelter for the mutated beetle and occasional food source. In return, the sprite would act as Yuul’s eyes, scratching at its scalp to inform it of the direction of the nearest enemy. Over time the two of them had become so in sync that even Jen almost forgot the treant was blind a few times.

An arrangement that was more than a little ironic considering Yuul must have eaten hundreds of beetle sprites during its youth.

The Monk knew nothing of these two’s symbiotic relationship though, nor did she care. All that she felt at this moment was disappointment and annoyance since she put so much effort into capturing what was, from her point of view, a worthless gnat. She therefore did not hesitate to crush Yuul’s ‘Bug-Eyes’ within her grasp. However, that distraction had given the treant a sliver of hope. Because it had no eyes, the monster had failed to realize the Monk had a branch for an arm, nor did its freshly deceased partner think to communicate such an oddity.

But now that said limb was pressed against its face, it was more than certain. It used the last few drops of its MP to seize control of that prosthetic arm with Phytokinesis and make it turn on its owner. Jen suddenly found herself with her own gnarled left hand wrapped against her throat, vigorously choking the life out of her. She immediately tried to pull it away, with her other arm, but it was no use. The Limbroot plant had completely adapted to her body, which meant any Skills, Perks or Attributes she had also applied to it. It was actually slightly stronger than her human arm, mostly by virtue of being made of a more durable material.

Feeling reinvigorated by this sudden development, the treant she was standing on somehow found the strength to throw her off, making Jen roll around on the ground as she struggled. At one point she completely gave up on trying to pry the hand away from her throat and instead reached for one of the pouches on her hip. She pulled out a crystal vial filled with a bubbling pink liquid, which she immediately poured into her mouth. She wasn’t able to swallow it, but she didn’t need to do so in order for the Rejuvenation Potion to take effect.

An intense warmth washed over Jen’s body. The heavy burn scars on the left side of her face and body began healing an obscene rate, restoring her skin to pristine condition. Then followed an excruciating pain from her left bicep, more precisely at the point where her stump was connected to the Limbroot prosthetic. The rebellious piece of vegetation began to loosen its grip and then fell off completely as it was cut off from its host. Bone, muscle and skin rapidly grew out to replace it, restoring the arm Jen had been missing for nearly two years in a matter of seconds.

Once the ordeal was over and the Rejuvenation Potion had run its course, Jen rose to her feet and turned her gaze back towards the fallen treant. However, what she saw was not the pile of sentient timber she was about to turn into kindling, but a collapsing Gate Spell. She rushed towards the dissipating portal through which her bounty had doubtlessly escaped, but it was already much too late.

“RRRAAAAAARGH!”

*THUUUUM*

The Monk let out a primal roar of rage and frustration, then punched the ground with her renewed left fist. The explosive impact produced a small cloud of dust and sent tremors through the soil, but ultimately accomplished little other than covering her in yet more dirt and mud. Feeling dejected, the Monk sat down on the forest floor, staring at her renewed hand as she slowly put its fingers through its paces. She had that blasted potion for months, yet hesitated to take it since she wanted to challenge herself.

That wood-arm might have been stronger and sturdier than its human counterpart, but it wasn’t without its downsides. Channeling Ki through it was quite difficult, and it wasn’t as flexible or spry as she would’ve liked. Having to fight with such a thing had been a surprisingly educational experience, but willingly hanging onto that handicap until the last possible moment had cost her the flawless victory. She was doubtlessly the winner, but letting her opponent slip away like that because of her own whims left a bitter taste in her mouth.

Though perhaps the most troubling thing of all was that, in some weird way, she was going to miss that Limbroot. Even if it did try to kill her, she still thought it looked kind of cool. Perhaps while she was here she should look into getting another Rejuvenation Potion then have both arms replaced with timber equivalents? It was a silly spur of the moment idea, but she ultimately decided against it. Those extremely powerful elixirs were known to drastically reduce one’s lifespan, and she didn’t want to spend what years she had left on such flights of fancy.

She might still do it if she managed to Rank Up into an ageless archangel, but it would be a long while before she found allies capable of helping her challenge the Dragon Festival. The first time she tried it she had the Gilded Hand’s backing, but now she was all alone. Well, save for Opia and Spittles, but those two would get wiped out in an instant if she dragged them out to that accursed island.

After calming down a bit, Jen noticed something lying on the battle-scarred ground where Blackbark was just minutes ago. It was a satchel, which upon further inspection was revealed to be filled with gold and mithril coins, along with a fancy envelope containing a letter covered in elegant handwriting.

Greetings Miss Jackson,

If you are reading this, then that means I saw it fit to interfere with your bout against Blackbark. I apologize if I caused any offense by employing such underhanded means without your knowledge or consent, but I would like to remind you that the task I hired you to perform was to incapacitate the creature, not destroy it. Your green-haired compatriot warned me you had a habit of losing sight of your objective, so I had to take certain precautions to make sure you did not annihilate the unique creature. Please understand I only did what I thought was necessary to protect my investment, and in no way wish to belittle your efforts or your intentions.

In closing, I would like to thank you for your services and have added a small bonus to your agreed-upon compensation to show there are no hard feelings. I would also appreciate it if you did not attempt to look into my personal matters out of some misguided sense of duty or curiosity, otherwise both you and your companions will find an Inquisition-shaped problem knocking at your door.

All the best,
Herman Shaw

Well, that would certainly explain how and why a treant that massive disappeared on the spot. And Mr Shaw did have a point - the Quest she accepted was one where she had to capture, not kill. The man honestly didn’t need to add that threat at the end though. As a former member of the Gilded Hand, Jen knew firsthand that secrets cost lives. It was actually rather frightening how many people she’d had to kill on Edward’s command simply because they knew too much. She also didn’t feel the need to chase after Blackbark to finish it off, as she had already seen all that creature was capable of and was thoroughly disappointed. Plus, she already got paid, so she really had no more reason to linger in what was essentially enemy territory.

Having decided to return home to Opia and Spittles, Jen let out a sharp whistle, prompting Snek to poke its shiny head out of a nearby bush and slither over to her.

“Snek?” it asked matter of factly.

“Affirmative.”

“Snek? Sssssnek?”

The Monk lifted up her restored arm and opened and closed her fist a few times as if to show everything was in working order, then lowered it to where her traveling companion could reach.

“Snek!”

The house mimic eagerly climbed up her hand and wrapped itself around her wrist. It preferred the left one to the right one by a wide margin, but found that abominable tree-arm rather off-putting. In some weird way, Snek was happier about the absence of the Limbroot parasite than Jen was. The Monk herself had already stopped thinking about that though. She was far too busy affectionately stroking Snek as she made her way southward.

As for her latest opponent - or victim, depending on the point of view - Yuul was just now waking up. It wasn’t sure where it was since it was still blind, but the absence of the sun’s warmth and the stone floor beneath its back made it abundantly clear the treant was indoors. It was also strapped firmly to the ground by a series of metal cables which prevented it from making any movements other than squirming a little.

“Already awake, are we?” a voice spoke from the side. “Good, would have been a bit disappointing if you let yourself be dominated by a Sleep Spell that easily.”

“Grrrnnn!” the treant groaned in response.

“Come now, you can drop the act. I know full well you can both understand and speak words, Yuul.”

“… That voice,” the tree-monster spoke after a few seconds. “I know. That voice.”

“Of course you do. It is the voice of one of my subordinates, a young doppelganger who approached you with an offer of cooperation roughly three years ago. The way you kicked them hard enough to send them flying halfway across the forest made your refusal quite clear, though it was quite surprising. I did not think you would be willing to harm one of your own kind without any provocation.”

“We. Are not. The same.”

Yuul may have been born a doppelganger, but it was not one raised in enlightened society. Abandoned in the mountains as an infant and lacking in many of the natural weapons and instincts that feral creatures had, it was forced to adapt to the wilderness if it was to survive. With only its fellow monsters as company, it had ended up living among them, masquerading as their own kind. The most time it spent in one spot was when it assumed the role of a hobgoblin chieftain, learning a lot about surviving as a bottom feeder in the process. It was during this time that one of its subordinates obtained the Druid Job by Ranking Up into a goblin sage, which was how Yuul got its hands on that particular skill set.

Unfortunately, that relatively cozy setup did not last as long as the young doppelganger would’ve wanted. Its wits and guidance allowed that goblin tribe to flourish under its leadership, but that only ended up attracting Level-hungry adventurers that wiped all of them out. Yuul escaped, and spent the next several decades hiding amongst other creatures with pack mentality, be they trolls, gnolls or wolves. Its Doppelganger Job slowly rose in Level, allowing it to evolve into a creeper due to its relatively high AFF Attribute, and then eventually ‘grew up’ into a treant.

In short, though it certainly started life as a shapeshifter, Yuul had abandoned that part of itself in favor for a larger, sturdier, and more stable existence.

“Come now, is that any way to speak to your savior?” the other party asked. “I rescued you from that detestable human at great risk to myself. Would I do that if I meant you any ill will?”

“... No. I guess not.”

Yuul’s feral upbringing may have taught it to embrace its savage side, but it was woefully inexperienced when it came to trickery, subterfuge and betrayal. That was why it did not question the exquisite timing with which its ‘savior’ had appeared. Which was precisely what the shapeshifting ringleader once known as Reginald Namhel was counting on. The ‘ganger capo was the one who hired Jennifer Jackson in the first place. From that point on it was merely a matter of taking advantage of Yuul’s blindness and the idiocy of its seeing-eye-bug to spy on it from the air until an opportune moment to pull its stump out of the fire.

“What. Do you want. From me?”

It would appear even this simple creature wasn’t stupid enough to believe someone would have gone through the trouble of saving it from near-certain death out of the kindness of their own heart.

“I want to once again extend an offer of cooperation, though this time around I will have to be far more insistent. Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to do what I say, or else I’m going to turn you into tinder.”

A hot, dreadful sensation accompanied by an ominous crackling filled Yuul’s senses as one of Reggie’s subordinates lit an open flame right above the larger monster’s charred face. Fire was a treant’s Bane, so it was only natural it would grow agitated when confronted with it. In fact, magical flames from an overly enthusiastic Pyromancer were the reason why it was blind in the first place. As part tree and part shapeshifter it could regrow almost any limb if given enough time and nutrients, but that particular injury was beyond its ability to heal.

“On the other hand,” Reggie continued, “if you do your part properly, there’s a good chance you can recover from those horrible burns and regain the use of your eyes.”

The treant’s squirming stopped in an instant when it heard those incredibly enticing words. Not even the crackling of the fire seemed to disturb it as it latched onto them like a velosian mantrap.

“What. Will you. Have me. Do?”

An inevitable response. No rational being would choose oblivion over salvation under these circumstances. There was a slim chance Yuul might have been just crazy enough to turn Reggie down regardless, but then it wouldn’t have been of any use to the doppelganger to begin with.

“I want you to learn how to befriend a dryad,” he began to explain. “Her kind have something of a soft spot for their fellow plant monsters, which is what I want you to shamelessly exploit. She will no doubt heal your eyesight if you get into her good graces, especially if you convince her it was a wound inflicted by evil adventurers with no respect for nature’s guardians. Then, once you have her ear, you will whisper into it on my behalf and I will offer you protection in return.”

The silver-tongued shapeshifter paused for a few seconds, giving the treant a chance to consider its words.

“So, what do you think? The deal is more than fair if I do say so myself.”

“… What’s a dryad?”

Reggie sighed while rubbing his forehead. On second though, it would probably be best if he arranged for Yuul to have some tutoring, especially on the subject of manipulating people. Deep down beneath all that bark and timber lay a doppelganger, so the treant would probably get the hang of things rather quickly. On the other hand, it was also debatable whether this dimwit was a lost cause or not, but he was the only one Reggie could rely on.

Creepers were exceptionally rare among doppelgangers raised in cities and towns, which made up the entirety of the elder shapeshifter’s underground network. Putting it bluntly, Yuul was not the ideal individual to handle that job, but the only one available at present. This automatically made it the best bet Reggie had of securing a dryad’s unwitting cooperation, and that part of his plan was vital if he was to achieve his ultimate objective. After all, one needed to have the favor of an elder dryad or three if they were to demolish everything the Foundation held dear.

As for how Reggie would deal with potential interference from the that anomalous abomination, well… that part of the plan was still a work in progress.

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A note from Exterminatus

Yuul was brought to you by Patreon supporter Speedskull.

Also, just in case some of you missed it (because I'm bad at doing stuff) Corrai in the previous chapter was also submitted by a Patreon supporter, The GrandMage.

Lastly, this will be the final chapter in the extended timeskip. The next one will resume Boxxy's story in earnest.


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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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ke5pay @ke5pay ago

Thanks for the chapter.

Karmagator @Karmagator ago

Thanks for the chapter!

And yay, story progress incoming! Maybe Boxxy will rank up soon...

iwannabeatiger @iwannabeatiger ago

You'd think Reginald would know better than to even think about messing with Boxxy...

    jonnnney
    Premium

    jonnnney @jonnnney ago

    I think his plans are centered around the idea of entirely avoiding boxxy when destroying the foundation. Honestly all he has got to do is give out a tasty quest that will take a long time.

      iwannabeatiger @iwannabeatiger ago

      I feel like boxxy wouldn't appreciate people making plans to deal with or avoid him

      jackalope @jackalope ago

      Appreciate is a human concept. Boxxy won't give a shit what Reggie is doing as long as it doesn't impact his bottom line, so to speak. Give him something tasty to do, he'll be happy.

      Neruz @Neruz ago

      Assuming Reggie isn't dumb enough to try and subvert Ambrosia, I see no reason why Boxxy would give even a single box-shaped fuck about Reggie taking down the Foundation. Save any possible interest in Reggie himself.

      jonnnney
      Premium

      jonnnney @jonnnney ago

      It depends on how successful Reggie is and the fallout resulting from his actions. Yes if the foundation gets quickly and quietly wiped from the face of the earth then boxxy wouldn't give two shits, but if it gets drawn out or the foundation attacks or outs boxxy in retaliation then the murder hobo will be pissed.

CrimsonWarden @CrimsonWarden ago

Still wondering when we're gonna get back on the main storyline.

Almarna @Almarna ago

glad to see reggie havent been lax

Zedred @Zedred ago

Thanks for the chap sect leader Exteminatus!!!