Kora was sitting cross-legged on the floor of Boxxy’s home dungeon while hunching over slightly. She had a pair of her arms crossed at her chest, a hand on either hip, one more cupping her chin and the last one scratching the side of her head. As if that wasn’t enough to suggest she was deep in thought, one of her eyebrows was raised and her lips were pursed together while she let out insightful hums. Even the floating horns that formed her crown seemed to be giving away the metaphorical churning of her gears by doing laps around her skull.
The thing that had so thoroughly captivated the demon’s interest was a treasure chest filled to the brim with sparkling jewels of all shapes, sizes and colors. Her task was to pick out the single most valuable piece from the hundreds of stones before her. A significant challenge to be sure, but one she had to overcome. It had barely been two days since she ‘Side Ranked’ into a hoarder demon and she was still coming to grips with her new desires and getting used to her new Skills.
The ability this particular piece of ‘homework’ was supposed to test was Sense Treasure. As the name implied, it was a passive Skill that allowed her to home in on nearby treasures, which it defined as items with an estimated value of over 1,000 GP. Its current range was thirty meters, which would improve by another ten with each Level of the Skill. It also had a secondary effect that allowed her to discern the monetary value of items, like a sort of wide-area Appraise Item Spell. It was nowhere near as accurate as a Scribe’s, however. Trying to find the most expensive gemstone in that pile of treasure was like trying to find the sharpest needle in a needlestack.
She would, of course, be doing a lot better if not for that constant wailing in the background distracting her.
It had been going on ever since she and the others got back here about a day ago and there were no signs of it stopping anytime soon. It was the sound of Xera getting her just rewards for her exemplary performance, ingenuity and loyalty while her Master was indisposed. Boxxy had tied her up within its torture chamber, which it made for her especially, and had been overloading and hyper-stimulating the djinn’s pain and pleasure receptors for nearly twenty four hours straight. The only time it stopped was to take a short break every now and then, during which it came back to check on how Kora’s training was going.
It obviously couldn’t do that right now though, so it had Lavender oversee and supervise the reborn fiend in the meantime. The voluptuous dungeon master was hovering over Kora, her ample bosom swaying lightly every time she moved. And move she did, for the alraune seemed incapable of actually standing still and rocked herself and her knockers back and forth while humming an idle tune. Needless to say, having those things bob in and out of Kora’s peripheral vision was not exactly conductive to the demon’s concentration.
“Time’s up!” the buxom flower-girl cheerfully declared.
“Argh! I don’t know… this one!”
Kora thrust a bare hand into the open chest. Her boss had naturally asked her to remove her gauntlets prior to beginning this exercise, lest she scratch up its shinies. It took the demoness a few moments of rummaging around before she grabbed hold of her selection. It was a beautifully faceted diamond that was almost as large as an adult human’s fist.
“Let’s see,” Lavender cooed.
Her shapely examiner then leaned forward and stared intently at the gemstone for a few seconds before straightening her back out and triumphantly raising an arm.
“Nope!” she declared with a bright smile. “That’s a miss!”
She then gracefully took the gemstone from the demon’s grasp and carefully placed it inside the treasure chest whence it came.
“What?! You gotta be kidding me!” the hoarder complained. “Didn’t you see the size of that thing?!”
“Sorry, but that’s only the third most expensive thingy in the box. You were close, though!”
“Third? Well, what were the other two?”
If Kora’s master had been the one handling her greed training, then she would’ve gotten an immediate answer to her question. Lavender, however, lacked Boxxy’s encyclopedic knowledge of the treasures within the Dryad’s Domain, so she had to rely on the dungeon core’s Item Allocation module for assistance. In addition to storing and keeping track of all valuables within its sphere of influence, the crystal core could provide an in-depth analysis of any item with accuracy far surpassing that of any Scribe. It made the alraune fully capable of administering this exercise in Boxxy’s stead, though she did need a few seconds to operate the relevant menus inside her head.
“Okay! So, like, the more valuable objects are…” she paused for a second to rummage through the open treasure chest, “this, and this!”
In her left hand was a midnight ruby in a rectangular emerald cut, and in her right there was an orange topaz set into a mithril brooch. Neither of which matched the size or brilliance of the diamond Kora had chosen, but instead had other traits that added value.
“Seems the red one is made of a rare mineral with magic in it while the other one is enchanted and has ‘artistic merit,’ whatever that is,” she read aloud from the information screens in her head. “That’s why they’re more expensive than the one you picked, even though they’re, like, way less shiny.”
“Well, fuck,” Kora’s shoulders drooped. “They all felt the same to me, so I just went with the biggest one.”
“Oh yeah, they are pretty close. The red one is 8 GP more than the white one, and the yellow one is 7 GP more than the red one.”
Amounts that, when compared to how expensive the jewels actually were, were like a few drops of water in a full cup.
“You gotta be kidding me! That is so rigged! How the fuck am I supposed to tell a difference that minute?!”
She wasn’t, actually. Boxxy had recognized that, while her Sense Treasure Skill could cover a wide area, it lacked in precision and accuracy. That’s why it had Kora focus on getting used to the Skill as much as possible, as it was the most obtuse and esoteric of the five new greed-based abilities. And in order to properly motivate her and stimulate her newfound desires, it had promised her that she could keep whatever treasure she picked for herself.
Provided that she guessed right, of course.
“Complain all you want, you still failed the test for the eighth time in a row,” Lavender joyfully reminded her. “Don’t worry though, you have another ninety two tries to get it right!”
The shapeshifter had prepared one hundred piles of treasure for Kora to sift through, which meant one hundred possible rewards. However, while she was rather stoked to be allowed to keep shinies of her own at first, the hoarder was rapidly realizing she was no match for her master. As expected of the creature that inspired her to embrace her greed, it did not want to part with its belongings so easily. The tests so far had all been as ‘rigged’ as this one, leaving the demon to become more annoyed than motivated.
“Wait… I get it!”
She then had something of an epiphany. She had been presented with an opportunity to obtain fancy stuff through hard work and effort. However, that didn’t mean there were not alternative means of acquiring what she wanted. Having realized the ‘trick’ behind these tests, Kora rose from her seated position while staring at the alraune with a rather vicious smirk.
“Hm? What is it, Mistress Arms?” Lavender asked merrily, completely ignorant as to what was about to happen.
The hoarder then lunged at the dungeon master, but the busty flower-girl disappeared before she could lay a hand on her. Her purple flower reappeared several meters away while she simultaneously put the jewel-filled box away inside the dungeon core’s extra-dimensional item repository.
“Hehe, sorry!” she playfully stuck her tongue out at the six-armed demon. “Boxxy said you might try to cheat, so I was ready for you.”
“God-damnit, boss!” Kora roared. “Just how badly do you not want to give me your stuff?!”
“Quite badly, I would imagine. These are Boxxy’s precious shinies. It is my duty to protect them above all else, after all.”
“… Is that right. Well, you’re not doing a very good job.”
Lavender tilted her lovingly smiling head in confusion. Kora replied not with words but by throwing one of her arms back with her palm wide open. A bubble of bright green energy then wrapped around her hand.
She swung the limb in question in a wide swiping motion in front of her, making it leave an unnatural scraping noise and a faint trail of green light as she grasped the air in front of her. She then smirked and opened her clasped hand to reveal a finely crafted topaz-and-mithril brooch. The alraune’s eyes went wide open in surprise as she looked down at her own hands, only to realize one of the two precious items she was holding onto had disappeared.
“Hey! Give that back!” she complained.
Rather than comply, the demon simply opened the portal to her Vault, tossed the gemstone inside and closed it back up.
“Whatever could you be talking about?” she asked with a shit-eating grin.
“You know! The thing you stole! You didn’t earn that!”
“Sure I did. I got it by applying my Skills, so it’s mine.”
It was a technicality, but Kora’s assessment wasn’t entirely untrue. After all, her master hadn’t specified she couldn’t use Skills other than Sense Treasure.
Hand of Avarice
Description: The fastest way to get new stuff is to take it by force.
Requirements: Level 10 Hoarder
Activation Time: 1 second
Cost: 75 MP
Range: 25 Meters
Effects: Steals a random item from the target by teleporting it into the user’s hand.
Increases the effectiveness of the LCK Attribute on this Skill by 50% per Level of this Skill.
Increases the number of items affected by this Skill by 1 for every 5 Levels of this Skill.
This Skill may not be activated more than once every 120 seconds.
Hence why the hoarder had no qualms about using Hand of Avarice to pull a fast one on the dungeon master. It was just a shame she couldn’t use it twice in a row, otherwise she would have swiped the midnight ruby as well.
“That’s not how this works!” Lavender kept whining. “That’s not how any of this works! Boxxy said you have to listen to me, and I’m telling you to give back the thingy you stole!”
“Sorry, but I physically can’t do that,” Kora shrugged her many shoulders. “Skill cooldowns, you know?”
Indeed, though her Vault operated in a manner very similar to Boxxy’s Storage, it had quite a few quirks of its own.
Description: A hoarder naturally needs a secure location within which to store their spoils.
Requirements: Level 5 Hoarder
Activation Time: Instant
Cost: 100 MP
Range: 2 Meters
Effects: Allows access to a pocket dimension fit to hold a large quantity of items irrelevant of weight for up to 5 seconds.
The user is aware of everything in their Vault at all times.
This Skill may not be activated more than once every 30 minutes.
Reduces the cooldown period of this Skill by 3 minutes per Level of this Skill.
Reduces the MP cost of this Skill by 5% per Level of this Skill..
Most notable of which was how the hoarder version of the ability could not be accessed freely until Level 10 of the Skill. At least its capacity was a few times bigger than the mimic equivalent, meaning Boxxy could potentially have her use this as a long-term storage depot. Other than that, it also allowed Kora to bring the monster trophy collection she had from a while back with her wherever she went. And this was important, because those decorative pieces granted her power through the ability of her particular variant of the hoarder species.
Description: Allows the hoarder to draw upon mementos of past victories to aid in future battles.
Requirements: Be a Trophy Hoarder
Activation Time: N/A
Effects: Bestows benefits based on the types and monetary value of trophies within the user’s possession.
Increases damage dealt by 1% per 1,000 GP worth of trophies from target’s species.
Reduces damage taken by 1% per 2,000 GP worth of trophies from target’s species.
This Skill can benefit no more than 5,000 GP worth of trophies per target.
Increases the upper limit of this Skill by 1,500 GP per Level of this Skill.
All those numbers aside, the Skill essentially boiled down to acting as a replacement for the Slayer series of Perks, something familiars like Kora were incapable of obtaining. It was also only one of the two purely combat-oriented abilities she had gotten. Which wasn’t to say that the other three were useless in a fight. Hand of Avarice, for instance, could potentially be used to deprive an opponent of their armor or weapon, provided the user was lucky enough. Sense Treasure allowed Kora to track those that carried expensive gear while Vault could be utilized for some creative dodging if she decided to take a page out of Boxxy’s book.
However, all of those things were situational utilities at best. Trophy Case, on the other hand, was a straight up boost to offensive and defensive power.
Description: Hoarder demons enjoy a bit of flair and opulence in everything. Combat is no exception.
Requirements: Level 20 Hoarder
Activation Time: 1 second
Cost: 40 MP/sec
Effects: Melee attacks cause gilding to targets struck, limiting movement for up to 5 seconds.
Increases the duration of this Skill’s effects by 1 second per Level of this Skill.
Increases the strength of this Skill’s effects by 10% per Level of this Skill.
As for the fifth and final Hoarder Skill, it was something that only shone in the heat of battle. Quite literally at that. The ‘gilding’ effect was quite similar to a basilisk’s petrification, only instead of turning the target’s flesh to stone, it coated their bodies in a heavy metallic substance with a golden luster. It was perhaps Boxxy’s favorite Skill of the lot. Even if the gold was fake and would disappear after a few seconds, its fleeting shininess was nevertheless on par with the real thing.
Unfortunately the former fiend couldn’t use it for extended periods of time since her abysmal INT Attribute score coupled with her Idiotic Strength Skill left her with a pathetically low MP pool. Boxxy had an Artifact that could potentially help her out in that regard, but it had other things to attend to at the moment. As did Kora, for that matter.
“Give it baaaaack!” Lavender tried to plead with her. “Please? Boxxy will be super mad if it finds out I failed to do a good job!”
“Eh, you’ll live,” the demon brushed her off. “Now will you stop whining and bring out the next treasure chest already?”
“No! I’m not going to do anything until you give the thingy back!” the alraune put her foot down.
“Oh, well! Guess I’ll go see how Blondie is doing.”
Then, before the flower-girl could utter another peep of protest, Kora took advantage of the special addendum to her contract and returned to the Beyond under her own volition. She could’ve done the same at any point while facing the Demonbane wielder, yet she somehow thought that getting away from Lavender’s whinging was a more appropriate use for it. Her chest-minded employer would naturally be thoroughly displeased with the way she was behaving in its absence, but Kora had never been one to worry about consequences.
Upon arriving in the demonic realm, she instantly found herself surrounded by hundreds of its residents, all of them eager to speak to her. As an archfiend, Kora had been regarded as nothing more than a moronic deviant who landed herself a prestigious contract through sheer luck. To say that many of her peers resented her would be an understatement. However, she was now the first of a new breed of demonic beings. It was a momentous occasion and an incredible achievement to say the least, so it was only natural she’d be approached by all kinds of brown-nosers.
Kora didn’t get to enjoy the attention for long, however, as she suddenly found herself being pulled through the boundaries of the Beyond before appearing in Roberto’s divine space.
“Oh… Uh… Hey.”
The hoarder awkwardly greeted the pulsating mass of grass, clearly not expecting this meeting. Then again, she really should have. This was, after all, the first time she’d returned from the mortal realm ever since Boxxy summoned her inside Lucius’s domain. She wasn’t even sure how the God of Synergistic Management Solutions would even react to what she had become.
“Just look at you! All brimming with the need to take things and claim them as your own, all for the sake of your self-satisfaction!”
Though if Toby’s tone was any indication, he was positively brimming with excitement.
“And you kids managed to make it happen without me even having to step in! Or without Boxxy’s Agent of Chaos lending a hand! I’m just, I’m so proud of you!”
Carlton took a moment to wipe a stick of lotion away from his zipper.
“Ah, I’m actually crying a little bit. Sorry about that. I know it’s unbecoming, but I’m just so happy I don’t know what to do with myself. Just gimme a moment, will you?”
“Uh, okay? Not like I have a choice.”
Mirabell continued to rub her elbows with her bran muffins for a minute or two before she finally calmed down.
“Right. So. Here’s the thing,” Bernadette stated in a more serious tone. “You’re now the first and only hoarder demon. Care to take a guess what this means?”
“… I get to boss lesser demons around?” she asked hopefully.
“Oh no. You’re not an Overlord, silly. Not even close. What I had in mind is just as important, possibly even moreso.”
“Really?!” Kora asked excitedly. “What is it?!”
“You need to start having children.”
“… Come again?”
“As I said, you’re the first and only hoarder demon. The former is fine and all, but we need to do something about the latter. Don’t you worry, though. I’ve compiled a list of one hundred and twenty eight candidates that will help propagate your new species and firmly establish them within the Beyond. Once enough of you are floating around, the realm should be able to use you as a blueprint of sorts to make new ones autonomously from scratch. Then again, it could be another djinn situation where hoarders can only appear through Rank Ups, but we won’t know until we try, will we?”
The dry and clinical way in which the deity spoke made Kora more anxious than anything else. Rather than being treated as a hero or celebrity, it felt like she was regarded as nothing more than a science experiment.
“Uhm! Shouldn’t I go check on how Teresa’s doing!” she suddenly shouted. “I bet she’s worried with that attack and whatnot!”
“Oh, right, she did mention she wanted to speak with you,” Jonathan thoughtfully twiddled his toothpick. “Alright, I’ll send you over, but you’re not getting out of this.”
The Goddess of Gambling snapped her fingers, once again hurling Kora through the boundary between realms and promptly delivering her into Teresa’s divine space. The demon landed on one of the solid white clouds floating around the place and sighed with a mixture of dread and relief.
“Koralenteprix Khusuuszun Caonthioxxaa!”
An unbelievably loud voice then flooded her skull as the Goddess of Truth and Justice materialized in front of her. The deity had grown even more beautiful ever since giving birth to the nephilim, especially in the booty region. She was, of course, also completely naked aside from the blindfold on her face, though it was her swaying golden hair that captivated Kora’s attention.
“What has become of our daughters?!” Teresa demanded, snapping the hoarder out of her gawking stare. “I swear, if so much as a hair on their heads was harmed, I will personally-”
“Calm down there, sugar-tits,” Kora urged her. “They’re fine, honest. The boss just had them stay with this old guy who could teach them the ‘value of hard work’ or something.”
“Then why can my divine sight not see them?!”
The real answer to that was because the demon in question was so ancient that he knew how to hide from the gaze of the Gods, but Kora didn’t have all the facts.
“I don’t know, but the guy helped save my soul. That’s worth at least a little bit of trust, right?”
Teresa’s eyes narrowed behind her blindfold.
“And your… master believes he is trustworthy?”
“The boss doesn’t trust anyone, but it seemed convinced they’d be safe.”
“That abominable creature ‘seemed convinced,’ did it? Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
“Look, say what you want, but believe me - we’ve got the situation on lockdown.”
Teresa looked as if she was about to explode into another tirade, but then lunged forward and hugged Kora across the waist.
“I’m sorry,” she said softly. “I saw you fight those animals, but I had no idea you were willing to sacrifice your very being for our daughters.”
Even though she knew the demon acted for the wrong reasons, the Goddess couldn’t help but feel deeply touched by that realization.
“Eh, it’s all in the past,” Kora shrugged lightly. “Besides, I got better. Haven’t felt this good in centuries, actually. It’s like my existence finally has actual value, you know?”
“Don’t try to get philosophical. It’s not your strong point.”
“Heh, yeah. I guess not.”
“Speaking of which, how are your ‘strong points’ doing?”
Teresa playfully stroked the taller woman’s groin over her metal codpiece.
“Why don’t you see for yourself.”
Kora pushed the blonde deity back with a smirk. She then flexed as if to show off her rippling bod, causing all of her armor to explode into hundreds of glittering particles. After disrobing in such a needlessly spectacular fashion, she grabbed Teresa by the shoulders and head, then buried her nose into her crotch. The Goddess found her face sandwiched between Kora’s bright red shafts, which were already standing at attention. She didn’t seem to mind the rough treatment though, given the gentle way she ran her delicate fingers up and down their length.
“Oh, my,” the deity swooned. “Is it me or has this part of you gotten even more manly?”
“You would know better than me, Blondie. Now what say you we celebrate my promotion in style?”
“Well, I have been feeling a bit stressed over the last couple of days,” Teresa’s cheeks flushed red, “so I wouldn’t be opposed to some recreational activities.”
“Come now, you’re supposed to be more honest than that, right?”
Kora picked the goddess up by the thighs with one pair of hands and forcefully spanked her rump with another.
“Okaay! Yes, I was hoping to get double-dicked the instant I laid eyes on you!”
“Ask and ye shall receive!”
The two of them then proceeded to vigorously reenact the process that led to the creation of the nephilim race. It was an act Teresa enjoyed more than usual, as she found Kora’s greedy side to be far more to her liking. Having a forceful and dominant partner was enjoyable too, but the tight embrace the hoarder kept on her the entire time was strangely refreshing, not to mention romantic.
Once Kora had come and gone, Teresa realized her avaricious partner had left her with a small parting gift. Not another litter of daughters, but a pair of gilded handprints on her butt cheeks. The Goddess could, of course, will them off her form, but she decided to keep them there for the time being.
After all, if anyone had earned the right to boldly claim her slappable backside as their own, it was Kora.