A note from Exterminatus

Get your fanart! Hot off the presses!

Warden Stain concept art, by dmaxcustom
Keira and Rowana, courtesy of Joe The Armadillo, art by Red Matsumoto
Prologue comic, by ironmane
Succubus Xera, by Klumb
Puddy the Fleshmaiden, by Lion Mask

Ages woke up feeling groggy and a little bit ill. It was a bit embarrassing that a man of his Level would get seasick, but it was understandable. The Shimmering Ocean was known for its turbulent waters, with sudden storms and inexplicable typhoons being more common than clear skies. It wasn’t as bad as the center of the Oculus Sea, but it was still rough sailing year-round. Which meant that it was nigh-impossible for anyone without a Mariner’s Reinforced Balance Skill to avoid feeling queasy. Well, other than being able to afford an airship, a griffon, or some other form of above-cloud air travel, but for nobodies like Ages and his mates travel by ship was the best they could do.

It wasn’t the ocean’s ceaseless rocking that woke up the veteran adventurer though. That was part of it, but the main thing that disturbed his sleep was the odd noise that could be heard through the glass of the cabin’s tiny round window. It was like a distant drawn-out drone that seemed strangely rhythmic. Sitting up in his cot, Ages realized he wasn’t the only one that heard it. Three of the eleven other people with him were also looking around in a slightly confused state. They were the mercenary group’s three scouts - Scrap, Bellamy and Junior - all of whom were men around the same age as Ages.

After exchanging a few silent glances and quick nods, the four of them quietly got up, threw on their gear, left the cabin, and headed to the deck above. The ship’s alarm hadn’t been sounded so it was unlikely this was an emergency, but they couldn’t just ignore that anomaly considering they were right in the middle of a Shift. They had already discussed that particular business at length and decided to worry about it after coming back from this Velos mission. Even if they wanted to bail, suddenly violating the contracts they’d signed would probably get them banned from the Mercenary Guild, which would cut off their main source of income.

And without income, they couldn’t stockpile supplies and equipment to weather the coming storm.

The four mercenaries exited the ship’s tight hallway and spilled out onto the deck, at which point a couple of things became immediately clear. The first of those was that the weather was quite calm. The sky was covered in gray clouds so thick that not a single of the morning sun’s rays could punch through them, but it wasn’t raining or thundering and there was even a refreshing tailwind. The other thing the group noticed was that the noise they were hearing was not made by some magical anomaly or sea creature, but the chorus of a song.

Help me Bob, there's nuthin' in the valley,
Weeey heeey, nuthin' in the valley.
Help me Bob, there's nuthin' in the valley,
Nuthin’ down in Cradle Val.

The four of them walked over to the side of the ship where several deckhands and a few of the other passengers were leaning on the railing. They didn’t even need to ask what that racket was before the smirking sailors gestured towards the ship sailing alongside them. The angelic figurehead clearly marked it as the S.S.S. Teresa’s Judgement. As for Keira - the one most likely responsible for this sudden performance - she was dangling upside down from the crow’s nest, her untamed crimson hair fluttering in the wind like a flag.

Annie was a girl in Cradle Valley,
Weeey heeey, nuthin' in the valley.
Annie was a girl that I loved dearly.
Nuthin’ down in Cradle Val.

Help me Bob, there's nuthin' in the valley,
Weeey heeey, nuthin' in the valley.
Help me Bob, there's nuthin' in the valley,
Nuthin’ down in Cradle Val.

For seven long years I courted little Annie!
Weeey heeey, nuthin' in the valley.
All she did was dilly and dally.
Nuthin’ down in Cradle Val.

Help me Bob, there's nuthin' in the valley,
Weeey heeey, nuthin' in the valley.
Help me Bob, there's nuthin' in the valley,
Nuthin’ down in Cradle Val.

Ages and his companions stared aghast when they realized the sea shanty was making light of the Calamity of Monotal. The slightly jovial tone they had while singing about that gruesome event was extremely appalling, especially for citizens of the Empire. The crew manning this naval convoy were mostly human too, which made their crass attitude even more worrisome. To make matters worse it seemed to be spreading, as the sailors on their ship were starting to hum along as well.

It was then they realized a harsh but undeniable truth - though they were all human, that didn’t mean they were brothers. All six of these ships belonged to a nautical guild based within the Sovereign States Alliance, who were almost constantly at war with the Lodrak Empire. One would think a privately owned organization had nothing to do with the government, but they’d be wrong. The close relationship between the guild and the Alliance’s leadership was evident in how all of their vessels bore the ‘S.S.S.’ designation, which literally stood for ‘Sovereign States Ship.’

It was therefore hardly surprising that the men and women who served aboard these crafts would make light of the Calamity and the problems it caused for their old enemy. As for the Hero of Chaos, she fought against the Empire during the Calamity Conflict about three years ago, so she probably wasn’t their biggest fan either. Her hostility towards Ages when they bumped into each other at the harbor made a lot more sense now that he thought about it. However, as the man watched that girl singing that grim song, he couldn’t help but feel an odd chill go down his spine. Perhaps it was the distatestful performance, or the way her voice seemed to fade in and out due to the wind, but neither he nor his companions could deny there was something very wrong with that child.

In reality, this foreboding sensation was caused by the fact that the thing they were looking at was no mere girl, but a monster that had slaughtered thousands of their people. Though the mercenary group was not aware of the exact cause of their unease, its source was Keira’s Butcher of Humanity Perk. The sailors on the other ship were under the influence of the shapeshifter’s Pheromone Control Skill, which completely counteracted the Perk’s side effects. As for the crew members next to Ages, they were idly looking at the other ship as a whole rather than focusing their attention on the Hero of Chaos in particular.

Of course it also helped that Keira Morgana was an adorable, attractive and approachable Facade, unlike the gloomy and creepy ‘Mister Morningwood’ that once stalked the city of Erosa.

Now Annie she’s a pile of dust - oh.
Weeey heeey, nuthin' in the valley.
Least she still got a healthy glow though.
Nuthin’ down in Cradle Val.

Horrible songs were still horrible though, no matter how pretty the face that sang them.

“Ugh. I know we were going to look for a Hero to buddy up to, but I don’t think we’ll get far with that one,” Scrap grumbled.

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Ages agreed.

“Excuse me, gentlemen? Mind if I ask a quick question?”

The blond Ranger nicknamed ‘Junior’ called out to one of the sailors next to the group.

“What’s on your mind, friend?” the tallest of them responded.

“Are they sure what they’re doing is wise? Won’t that loud singing attract krakens?”

“Nope. Kind of the opposite actually.”

According to an old maritime superstition, singing about disaster, death and other depressing matters while sailing would ward off monster attacks and freaky weather. It was based on the belief that the sea was one spiteful bitch of a mistress. If the crew made it seem like they enjoyed and welcomed misery, then it would not give them any. On the other hand, if they appeared too happy-go-lucky, then it would punish them for being cocky.

This was the actual reason the crew went along with that macabre song. Land-dwellers would consider the idea ludicrous at best, but the Shimmering Ocean was a much more mysterious and mythical place than any stretch of dry land. From the perspective of those who braved these godless waters regularly, these seemingly nonsensical rituals were as real and serious as a Fireball to the face.

“What’s that, then?”

However, the experienced mariner did not got to explain any of that before Junior pointed over the side of the ship, towards the water. This prompted the sailors to peer into the murky depths below, whereupon they noticed a worrying amount of bubbles rising to the surface, just next to the ship’s hull. The one that seemed to be in charge didn’t even stop to think about it and grabbed the tube-shaped flare launcher hanging off his hip, sending a bright red light streaking into the early morning sky.

Alarm bells across all six ships began ringing in unison, as if to welcome the mighty sea beast that was rising from the depths. A conical head that was as tall as the ship’s mast and half as wide burst from the water, the resulting waves forcing the craft to rock dangerously. Covered in barnacles, spikes and eyes, the Kraken mollusc let out a piercing screech and rammed the ship, making it tilt even further to the side. Ages and company failed to maintain their balance and rolled across the deck, which was probably for the best considering the massive tentacle that slammed down on the place they were standing on.

The monster then began wrapping its other limbs around the ship and squeezing down on it, like an unruly child trying to hug the stuffing out of a toy bear. The other five vessels were circling around to lend their aid, but the way the craft creaked and groaned within the kraken’s grip made it seem like they wouldn’t make it in time. Unfortunately for the kraken, it had picked the wrong vessel to tangle with.

“Oi! What’s all this feckin’ racket, then?!”

Ages was only just now rising to his feet when he first heard and then saw a very irate-looking dwarven woman dressed in just some shorts and a sleeveless shirt. An old bat to be sure, but one whose arm muscles were so well developed they made the mercenary feel strangely inadequate. She was holding her head with one hand and looked around the deck in a disoriented manner for a few moments before finally spotting the monster.

“So yer the runt that’s aggravatin’ me hangover, eh?” Hilda grumbled, her anger rising. “We’ll see about that! Rearm!”

The stonekin dwarf was momentarily wrapped in a dull yellow light. Once it dispersed, she was left clad head-to-toe in black plate armor and holding a massive warhammer that seemed way too large for her small frame.

“Have at ye, ye slimy bastard! Doooorya!”

Yet Hilda handled that hunk of metal around as if it were made of paper as she flung it with all her might at the kraken’s pointy head. The weapon slammed into the beast with enough force to cause ripples of flesh to travel across its body, almost like a puddle struck with a stone. The monster let out a loud roar, the unexpected impact making it loosen its grip on the ship. Hilda brought out a war axe that was just as big as the hammer from moments before. She charged towards one of the monster’s four-meter-thick tentacles and cut straight through in just a few swings before moving onto the next one. The ridiculous display of top-tier violence made it seem as if she could handle this sea creature all by herself. However, even if that were the case, she would need a lot of time to carve away at the kraken’s six-digit HP. Time that the ship she was on did not have.

It was therefore rather fortunate that Hilda had six entire warships’ worth of veteran adventurers for backup.

Arrows and cannonballs rained down upon the kraken. Lightning, flame and acid burned away at its hide while shards of ice, blades of wind and eldritch energies ripped apart its flesh. Dozens of fighters crawled all over it, riddling it with wounds as they hacked away at the mountain of muscle they were clinging to. Nature magic and fortifying enchantments tended to the timber of the ship and kept it whole while divine incantations kept everyone safe from the kraken’s attempts to drag them underwater.

And that last bit was something the creature tried to do with all its might. It thrashed its massive body around wildly, shaking off the annoying gnats clinging to its skin. Its titanic tentacles swept across the deck in an attempt to either crush the adventurers or throw them over the side. It also released toxic fumes throughout the area and conjured serpentine water formations to defend itself. At one point it even caused a whirlpool in an attempt to make the ships crash together and sink, but the navigators and captains were one step ahead. They had seen the unnatural water formation coming and put some distance between the vessels and the kraken before they got completely caught up in it.

The sea monster used this opportunity and tried to escape. It let go of the ship Ages and Hilda were on and began submerging, but was unable to hide its massive body fast enough. Roughly thirty Cryomancers and Wizards converged on the creature, using their combined ice magic to freeze the ocean itself. They couldn’t risk doing this while it was clinging to that ship, but now that it had let go of it they were quick to trap it in a massive glacier that prevented it from running away. Weakened and injured as the kraken was, it could not break free of its bonds before it was beset upon from all sides by the adventurers.

It did not survive for long after that.

Feat of strength performed! You have unlocked a new Perk: Kraken Slayer.
All Attributes +5.

The people let out a series of loud cheers when the creature’s body went limp and began slowly sinking into the depths. Though all of them had prepared for the trip by studying various aquatic monsters, this had been the first time most of them had actually faced let alone killed a kraken. The ones who had already experienced this sort of situation before, however, were in a far less festive mood. Yes, defeating a colossal beast like that with zero casualties was a good thing and a tremendous feat, but these people knew it was about to get a lot worse.

After all, this was only day two of a ten day long trip.

By the time the naval convoy arrived at their destination, they had faced a total of sixteen monster attacks. Four of those occurrences were krakens, though groups of smaller ones rather than a single titanic individual. Two of them were ghost ships shrouded in mists of Blight, which were crewed by the wretched souls of those who died while lost at sea. There were also three packs of sirens, though the mind-afflicting properties of their voices were easily warded off by the Priests on duty, making them by far the least threatening.

The same couldn’t be said for the seven schools of drillfish that tried to puncture countless holes in the underside of each ship. Those were by far the most troublesome due to both their extreme number and the fact that most of the passengers had never participated in underwater combat until this trip. The freak thunderstorms and typhoons were another foe entirely, as the Shimmering Ocean’s severe weather refused to bow down to any Druid or Shaman’s attempts to calm it. It was honestly a miracle they managed to cross the damnable body of water while suffering only eight casualties.

It was an eventful voyage to be sure, but the most notable part of it by far was the encounter with a wandering island turtle. The creature’s name was quite literal, as it was so huge that its shell was like an actual landmass, complete with indigenous flora and fauna. It was said there were only six of these aquatic reptiles floating around the Shimmering Ocean, and even catching a glimpse of one was considered good fortune. That was why the elation and wonder both crew and passengers felt as they passed within spitting distance of this majestic beast was almost enough to blow away all of the misery they’d been through up to that point. Several teams of people also took this rare opportunity to investigate the island turtle’s overgrown back, though they failed to find any of the rare treasures and/or exotic minerals said to reside there.

However, that was mostly because Boxxy had already beaten them to the punch and absconded with any shinies of value before anyone else even set foot on its shell. There really wasn’t much to be found though. A bunch of old tarnished relics of long dead civilizations and some sparkling coral formations was all the shapeshifter could recover. Valuable objects to be sure, just not all that shiny. Still, they were unique items Boxxy had never seen before, so it was more than happy to stuff them in its Storage until it got back to Azurvale, at which point it would add them to the rest of its collection.

As for right now, however, it had a more pressing concern to deal with.

“So this is Velos, huh? Somehow I expected something more.”

Keira made her disappointment known as she looked over the port town her ship was pulling into. It didn’t seem all that different from the Alliance city they departed from, other than the fact it was much smaller. So small, in fact, that its docks could only fit four of the six warships at once. Admittedly the settlement didn’t have a lot of space to work with since it was built on a bay, but the fact still stood that it seemed just like any other place on the western continent of Atica.

“This is an Alliance colony, so it’s only natural it would look the same,” Nao explained as he leaned on the railing next to Keira. “Trust me though, once you leave the civilized parts, it’ll feel like a different world altogether.”

The wolfkin nodded towards the endless sea of green and blue trees that lay beyond the town’s walls with a nostalgic expression on his face, though not a particularly happy one.

“You’ve been here before?” Keira asked.

“Yes, I spent six months studying Psionic magic from the magisters here when I was seventeen. I haven’t ventured too deep into the wilderness before, but I’ve heard some worrying things about the harshness of the jungle.”

“Huh. That’s a surprise. I thought you said you’d never been on a ship before, though.”

“Well, not a sailing ship. I rode on Lady Imiryl’s flying vessel back then, much smoother and far safer than this one was. Shame we couldn’t do that this time around.”

The high elf Wizard had taken said airship on some undisclosed mission about a month ago and there was no telling when she’d be back. Taking the ocean route was much riskier, but Nao trusted things would work out one way or another as long as Keira was around. Nevertheless, that didn’t mean the Hero of Magic was thrilled to be on this expedition. The only reason he wasn’t in his warm and dry home was because his patron goddess had tasked him with finding out why this orc problem was so much bigger than usual. And since he couldn’t pay the fee of 3,719 orc corpses to have the LIAR give him the answer, he had to come here in person.

“I just hope there’s no ancient tombs, cursed artifacts or pissed off draconic guardians this time around,” he added with a grumble.

“Really, Nao? You’re bringing that up again?”

“Look, I’m just saying you have a knack for finding trouble. Or is that the other way around?”

“It’s not like I do it on purpose,” she replied with a pout.

“Yet you let your future wife come with you into a war zone.”

“It was her idea, not mine. Besides, nobody said she’d be going to the front lines.”

Rowana had a few good reasons for coming along with Keira. The people of Velos needed support and supplies to fight back the orcs, so she was here to personally offer her services as an Alchemist and apothecary. She was also bringing a shipment of reagents and potions courtesy of the Slyth household, though any negotiations and whatnot would be left to her brother, who was also with them. On a more personal note, Rowana was also quite interested in learning about various indigenous herbs and ingredients that might help advance her craft.

The main reason she was here, however, was because she couldn’t bear to be so far apart from her bride-to-be.

“That reminds me,” Keira continued. “You’re coming to the wedding in five months’ time, Nao.”

“I’ll try, but the autumn season is usually when-”

“I said. You’re coming. To the wedding. Nao.”

“… Yes, ma’am.”

The Hero of Magic may have gotten over his fear of women thanks to his succubus familiar’s ‘hip magic therapy,’ but Keira’s authoritative and demanding side was beyond his ability to deal with. It was no wonder why her students looked up to her with a mix of awe, respect and fear.

“Good boy. Now if you’ll excuse me, I think it’s high time I got off this damned tub and onto solid land.”

“Yeah, sure. Before you go though, I feel like I need to ask one thing.”


“This may be your last chance to back out. Are you absolutely sure you want to go through with this?”

Keira wasn’t here on some divine mission like Nao, nor was she here because of someone else, like Kuro and Fizzy were. She also wasn’t the type to selflessly lend her aid like Rowana. Sure, the catgirl was a good and kind person deep down, but also a pragmatic one. The catgirl could’ve easily sat this one out and nobody would’ve blamed her for it. And if Nao had a firm grasp on her personality - which he sincerely hoped he did - that was precisely what he expected from her. Yet she completely shattered his expectations in true Hero of Chaos fashion.

Meaning that her reason for being here was, frankly speaking, rather asinine.

“There are less extreme ways to work through your pre-wedding jitters,” he added.

“… Maybe, but I’d much rather face a horde of orcs than have to deal with all those nosy bastards meddling into my and Rowana’s wedding. It was supposed to be a private ceremony, not some sort of spectacle or political affair.”

In reality Boxxy was actually looking forward to making it as public a matter as possible, as it was trying to desperately reach Level 50 in its Doppelganger Job. A monumental and historic occasion such as the first same-sex marriage in the Republic could just turn out to be the last push it needed. That had nothing to do with why it was here, though. The shapeshifter had been feeling a bit stressed lately, and inflicting unspeakable amounts of carnage upon thousands of orcs sounded like a great way to blow off some steam. Not to mention that this was its first time on Velos, so it was eager to sample the local delicacies.

“I’m serious,” Nao insisted. “You could die out there.”

“So? I could die in Azurvale, too. Who’s to say some bigoted dissident wouldn’t hire an assassin to take me out after all the ruckus I caused? Or maybe some mega-disease will spill out of the ground and wipe us all out. Or it could be that the sun explodes and the world turns dead and dark in a matter of weeks.”

“True, but getting your face bitten off by an orc seems far more likely than any of those.”

“Come on, do you honestly think I’d pick a fight if I wasn’t sure I’d win. I’ve faced orcs in dungeons before and they couldn’t even touch me. They’re so predictable that I can dance circles around them with my eyes closed. And if any of them want to judge me because of who I am, then I can at least stab them in the face without feeling bad about it afterwards.”

Nao let out a long, drawn out sigh. It was actually rather scary how much Keira sounded like Kuro just now. She also had the strength and wits to back those words up. The catgirl had also raised a very valid point. If she was going to vent her frustrations through violence, then it was for the best that she did so by targeting a bunch of savage monsters.

“Besides, it’s not like I’ll be alone out there,” she continued. “Fizzy’ll have my back and keep me out of trouble. In fact, we’ve been itching to try out some of the new toys we’ve been working on lately.”

That dangerous glint in her eye was all the confirmation Nao needed that Keira did not even see the orcs as opponents to be feared, but as target dummies and test subjects. A realization that almost made the wolfkin pity the green-skinned beasts. Almost, but not quite.

“Well, can’t blame me for worrying about a friend,” he conceded with a shrug. “Just try not to wake up any ancient beings of terrible power, yeah?”

It was unknown whether any such beings existed in this wild and untamed land, but that wouldn’t be a problem for the Hero of Chaos either way.

After all, there was almost nothing that posed a threat to Boxxy T. Morningwood these days.

General Information Attributes Job Information
Name Boxxy T. Morningwood Name Value Name Value Name Level Progress Name Level Progress
Species Creeper (Hylt) STR 1128 LCK 324 Doppelganger 49 81% Wizard 50 MAX
Sex N/A DEX 1075 MNT 720 Mimic 50 MAX Alchemist 31 15%
Age 3 years AGI 1058 CHR 322 Warlock 81 22%      
Guild Hidden Arrow END 1609 PER 623 Artificer 48 73%      
HP 9992/9992 (+40.2/sec) INT 1328 FTH 61 Ranger 75 MAX      
MP 7636/7636 (+12.5/sec) WIS 786 AFF 273 Blade Dancer 75 MAX      
Spells, Martial Arts and Perks



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  • 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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