“Now do green!” Madeline exclaimed joyfully. “No, wait, pink! With red on the sides and blue at the top, and a bit of yellow right here!”
Xera sighed deeply as she changed her skin tone in compliance with the girl’s whimsical instructions. She had initially tried escorting her from afar, but that dumb blonde was quite insistent that they walk side by side. The nephilim had then figured out she could entertain herself by bossing the djinn around, which was why Xera had spent the last several minutes doing her best impression of a drunken rainbow. She hadn’t even been able to disguise her demonic nature because Maddie apparently really liked the djinn’s ‘exotic’ attire.
While the childish Bard was certainly having fun, however, the sheer amount of attention her antics were attracting was getting to be a bit much. People had only stared at the chromatic scantily-clad demon at first, but a bunch of them had started actively following them around now. This had gone beyond simple irritation.
“It’s basically a security risk at this point,” she finished her telepathic report.
“I see,” Boxxy replied. “Understood, you have permission to ignore any of Madeline’s requests that pertain to your appearance.”
“My gratitude, Master.”
“And make sure you gently chase off anyone that might be following you. Gently, you understand?”
Having obtained the necessary orders, Xera was finally able to yell at the nosy perverts that had been following her around just to ogle her lady parts. She was successfully able to drive them off with a combination of fiery threats and threatening fire, after which she disguised herself as an elven adventurer girl.
“You’re no fun,” Madeline pouted.
“And you’re an idiot,” the djinn rolled her eyes. “Do you want to be attacked by unsavory characters with a hard-on for murdering girls in their sleep?”
Madeline’s careless attitude diminished rapidly as if she were a child that had just been scolded for making her mother worry.
“… No,” she mumbled.
“Then why do you keep making my job more difficult than it needs to be?”
The girl didn’t answer with words, choosing instead to look away in shame while twiddling her fingers. Of course she knew her actions could put her in danger, but she couldn’t help herself. With Robin always being so dutiful and Lydia being far too serious for her own good, Madeline was the only triplet whose main goal in life was to simply enjoy it. It’s something that set her apart from her sisters, and as such had become more important to her than it should have. It had also made her the laziest and most immature of the three. Her messing around with Xera’s shapeshifting and illusory abilities had just been her way of trying to hide from the uncomfortable truth that life wasn’t all sunshine and giggles. Though Keira had shown her a glimpse of that harsh reality with the unicorn incident, it wasn’t until the attack two weeks ago that the lesson had truly begun to sink in.
“Well?!” the disguised djinn insisted.
“I’m sorry,” she meekly apologized. “I’ll be more careful from now on, so please don’t get mad.”
“Hmpf. I’ll believe that when I see it,” Xera scoffed. “Now put that butt in gear, your lollygagging is going to make us late.”
Having been reminded of her position, the nephilim continued on her way in total silence, for which their FIB escorts were most thankful. A few of the incognito agents had stepped in to try and reprimand the girl, but she had pretended to not recognize them. Wasn’t the first time they had had to protect a spoiled brat though, so they had taken her attitude in stride and focused on their work. They even collected the more persistent gawkers just to be safe. Probably not the best use of the ‘national security’ justification, but they were through taking chances.
The buildings around Xera and Maddie gradually shifted from wood to brick and mortar as they entered Azurvale’s Stone District. The population in this part of the city got significantly more racially diverse. It was the first time the blonde girl had seen so many dwarves and gnomes in one place, so she couldn’t help but gawk slack-jawed at them. This lasted until she noticed Xera’s disdain-filled look, whereupon she stopped staring at the shorties and started scanning for the place she was looking for.
Her search was turning out to be more difficult than she had originally anticipated, however. She had been told her destination was a theater of some kind, but she had only just now found out just how many performance halls there were around here. Though the Stone District was the city’s industrial core and home to all kinds of artisans and craftsmen, it was also something of a cultural nexus brimming with artists, actors and musicians. The person Madeline had been sent to for tutoring had been one such performer - a singer by the name of Cereb Abadin. What made him stand out was that he was one of the few Bards in town who was also a full-time adventurer.
The main reason people like him were so rare was that, unlike artisan occupations, the Job in question had practically zero applications in combat. There were certain benefits to employing performers during military campaigns since they helped boost morale, but that was it. Even the Level 100 Bard the Empire had on staff during the war was only able to contribute as much as he had because of an Ultimate Skill. Such exceptions aside, the battlefield was clearly no place for a songwriter, let alone a playwright, novelist or thespian. On the adventurer side of things, the only contribution a Bard could realistically make during a Quest was to either help negotiate on the party’s behalf or keep them entertained during a long trip. Neither of which were of any significant demand, hence why Bards and adventurers simply did not mix.
Yet this Cereb Abadin person was supposed to have been making quite the name for himself as a capable combatant despite spending much of his time honing his artistic aspirations. He had certainly caught Keira’s eye, which was enough to raise Madeline’s expectations of the man. He was supposed to be waiting for her at the Broken Leg Theater, a rather small venue that was more of a concert hall than a thespian stage. It had taken a bit longer than expected to find the place, but Madeline and Xera had arrived just in time for their meeting. They spoke briefly with the handsome dwarf watching the building’s main entrance, who directed them towards one of the back rooms upon hearing Cereb’s name.
“By the way, keep your mouth shut about me being a demon,” Xera instructed the girl as they walked down the hallways. “If he asks, just say I’m one of Morgana’s acquaintances.”
“Uhh… Okay? Why, though?”
She may not have been a Priest like Lydia or a Paladin like Robin, but Madeline had nevertheless been brought up to despise the act of lying on principle. She could still do it - frighteningly well, at that - but only when given ample reason.
“When he was a boy, his older sister had gotten into a relationship with some Warlock,” the djinn coldly explained. “Long story short, it turned out he was using his Domination magic and succubus familiar to keep her as his sex slave for years. The girl had already been sacrificed in a ritual by the time her brother found out the truth.”
Maddie could do little but gasp in shock at this revelation. This had been one of the most terrible things she had ever heard, and Xera took great pleasure in watching her innocent face contort with horror.
“As a result,” the demon continued, “the Abadin boy actively despises anyone who employs such manipulative methods. I’m technically a succubus, so he’d likely get immensely upset if he realized who I really am.”
“… Okay. I’ll try to avoid opening any old wounds.”
That had hardly been Xera’s intent, but it was fine so long as Madeline played her part. The awkward silence that followed that conversation was broken up by an energetic piano melody. It echoed softly through the empty halls of the building’s backstage area and grew louder as the visitors approached the room that the doorman had directed them to. It was a fair assumption that the man Maddie had come here to see was the one currently producing this splendid melody. The girl was also fairly certain that she could hear Cereb’s voice accompanying the tune, though the walls made his words muffled and incomprehensible.
When she finally found the chamber that was the source of the melody, she quietly pushed the door open. The inside appeared to be a spacious storage room filled with props and instruments alike, though the orchestral piano being played could be considered both. The man currently using it looked rather malnourished due to his hollow cheeks, slender frame and pale skin, all wrapped up in a loose white shirt and gray trousers. His vibrant green hair and lack of pointed ears made it clear that he was a half-elf human. His youthful and freckle-spotted face gave him a pleasing charm without making him stand out too much. The color of his eyes was a solid black, though Madeline couldn’t tell since they were currently closed, presumably to let him focus on performing his song.
“♪ Go suck a dick! ♪ Suck a dick! ♪ Suck a motherfuckin’ dick! ♪”
However, though he was clearly gifted with a beautiful voice, one couldn’t help but question his choice of lyrics.
“♪ Suck a diiiick! ♪ Suck a huge or smaaall di-! Oh, hello there!”
Cereb instantly ceased his vulgar yet joyful performance upon realizing he had visitors. He smiled broadly and stood from his seat to greet Madeline and Xera as if nothing had happened.
“Good morning, ladies. Forgive me for not noticing you sooner, I was just warming up the old vocal cords. Though I must admit, this is quite the pleasant surprise. I had no idea miss Morgana’s acquaintances would be such lovely creatures.”
He flew into flattery almost immediately like any true Bard, though he was just being nice rather than trying to flirt with promiscuous intent.
“Well, thank you,” the nephilim responded with a charming smile of her own. “I’m Madeline, but my friends call me Maddie.”
“Cereb Abadin, though I’m sure you already knew that,” he introduced himself with a slight bow. “A pleasure to make your acquaintance, Maddie.”
“And yourself, madam?” he turned towards the elf-shaped djinn.
“Don’t mind me, I’m just here to observe,” Xera politely stated.
“Oh? Are your stealthy companions ‘just here to observe’ as well?”
Maddie looked around at the human’s words, but couldn’t see nor hear anyone else. She was fully aware who Cereb was referring to, however, as her FIB escorts had no doubt followed her and Xera inside the theater.
“Y-yeah, they’re just keeping an eye on me,” she replied. “But how did you even sense them?”
“My pet has a very sensitive nose,” he smirked. “Come down and say ‘hi,’ girl.”
A massive four-legged beast dropped down from the room’s dark rafters, landing softly between the man and his visitors. It was a canine creature almost as big as a horse, its fur black with streaks of red. The wolf-thing was clearly demonic in nature, what with its blazing crimson eyes, glowing fangs, smoldering nostrils and the row of barely-visible spikes running down the length of its spine and tail.
The hellhound growled sharply, causing Madeline to back away warily while Xera stepped in front of her.
“Forgive the girl, she’s just upset because the music stopped,” Cereb reassured them. “Here Nuggz, go snack on this while I talk to these lovely ladies.”
He pulled out a large bone from a nearby backpack and tossed it to the demon-dog. Nugaguxhizaunz, or ‘Nuggz’ for short, greedily snatched it out of the air and retreated to a corner of the room, leaving a thin trail of drool in its wake.
“Since when do you have a familiar?” Xera raised an eyebrow. “Miss Morgana didn’t mention anything about it when we spoke yesterday.”
Which was her way of saying that Boxxy did not know Cereb to have a Warlock Job, of all things.
“Ah, yes, I only got bonded with Nuggz less than a month ago. I didn’t get a chance to tell her about it when we spoke since she was in a hurry.”
“But… Wasn’t it a Warlock who… y’know…” Madeline’s voice trailed off.
“I know, I know,” he sighed. “However, if I am to go after the bastards that manipulate people through magic, I need an ally who is practically immune to such vile magic. I chose a hellhound because I’ve always loved dogs, and Nuggz and I really hit it off. She looks mean but is actually a big fluffy softie so long as the tunes and the treats keep coming.”
“Oh, I see,” the blonde smiled. “Music soothes the savage beast, yes?”
“Heh,” the man chuckled. “That old saying is normally nothing but a big fat lie, but I suppose this is an exception. Now, why don’t we take a seat in front of the piano and you can tell me about yourself while I practice my keystrokes?”
Madeline then proceeded to explain her situation in uncertain terms, or at least as much of it as she was allowed to speak of. She told Cereb of how she had fallen in love with music at a very early age and spent her childhood singing and dancing rather than studying scriptures or practicing the blade. It was a happy, idyllic upbringing that she thought would last forever.
However, that naive mindset came to a screeching halt two weeks ago when a bunch of strangers attacked Keira’s house just to get to her and her sisters. She didn’t know all the details, but her parents apparently had powerful enemies that would love nothing more than to see her and her siblings dead. Though the triplets’ catgirl caretaker had ‘taken care’ of the ones responsible for that particular attack, there was no telling when or where someone might strike again.
And it was that thought that terrified Madeline to no end. Her sheltered and carefree upbringing had not prepared her for the level of violence and destruction she experienced that night, and the event had shaken her to her core. Though she tried her best to hide them, her feelings of helplessness and insignificance bothered her so much that she had trouble sleeping at night. She was actually somewhat thankful to Lucious for those two weeks she spent at his place. Yes, she had been forced to sing until she was literally coughing up blood, but the resulting exhaustion had allowed her to pass out the instant she crawled into bed.
Well, that and she did genuinely appreciate the cute maid outfits the Sage of the Sands had given her and her sisters.
“So while I abhor fighting, I want to at least be able to defend myself,” she drew her explanation to a close. “Or failing that, at least be able to run away so as to not be a burden to others. Keira must’ve realized the same, so she sent me here. To you.”
“I see. I figured it might be something along those lines.”
Cereb had been listening to her with a serious expression while his fingers idly danced across the ivory keyboard. He found that keeping his hands busy helped him focus during times such as this, not to mention the pleasing tune helped maintain a calm and rational atmosphere. Influencing the mood and emotions of one’s audience through their performances was one of a Bard’s traits, and Cereb was using it to put the girl next to him at ease.
“Worry not, Maddie,” he declared. “Miss Keira is as wise as she is beautiful, and the fact that she has entrusted your training to me could only bode well.”
Xera, who had been silently leaning against a nearby wall, had to try extra hard not to scoff at the guy. In truth, Boxxy had only handed over the nephilim’s training because it needed some alone time. It hadn’t tasted a single drop of Honeydew since Fizzy’s intervention, and the nectar withdrawal symptoms were about to become quite severe. Though bad enough on their own, they would also no doubt aggravate the fiendish taint on its psyche, causing its temper and irritability to spike like never before. The shapeshifter needed to keep those things under control, and having to lug those three pieces of divine baggage around was hardly conducive towards keeping its cool.
Which wasn’t to say that it picked their tutors at random, just that its primary motivation was a lot more selfish than those moronic mortals gave its Facade credit for.
“Are you sure?” Maddie asked nervously. “I mean, I’m no fighter. And believe me, I’ve tried.”
“What about your magical aptitude?”
“It’s… really bad.”
“How bad?” Cereb raised an eyebrow.
“You know that crown-thing they test people with?”
“It didn’t light up no matter how hard I tried…” she said in a gloomy voice.
“No need to feel bad about it,” Cereb reassured her. “There are a lot of people that simply have no talent for Spell-slinging.”
While any Caster Job could convey the knowledge of arcane incantations and mystical formulas, actually putting those to use was easier said than done. There was, after all, a big difference between knowing how to do something and actually putting it into practice. Even if a Spell could be successfully cast in a controlled environment or during training, doing so in the middle of combat or other high-stress situations was another story entirely.
“I myself am quite bad at it,” the Bard smiled, his hands continuing to work the piano. “It’s really difficult to maintain focus and concentration unless I’m thinking about music. Yet I am nearly a Level 40 Wizard and a Level 13 Warlock in addition to being a Level 45 Blade Dancer and Level 37 Bard.”
It was an impressive set of Jobs considering he was still in his early twenties, though he was technically a Bard since the age of thirteen.
“How is such a thing possible, you ask?” he continued before Madeline could respond. “Because I have a secret weapon, you see. A little trick to turn the music I love into a fearsome power!”
The idle tune he had been playing began to rapidly pick up in tempo and intensity. He opened his mouth and an exceptionally sharp yet smooth voice erupted from his throat. He didn’t sing with words, but merely vocalized vowels in tune with the rising crescendo his hands were producing. The opera-like performance drew to an abrupt close when a bolt of lightning shot out of his open mouth and zapped a wooden mannequin on the other side of the room, causing it to catch fire.
“Oh dear,” he muttered. “Nuggz, go put that out, will you?”
The hellhound that had been curled up in the corner bolted upright and extinguished the burning prop by smothering the flames in its furry bulk. Its Searing Blood Skill made it practically invulnerable to fire damage anyway, so it wasn’t like the act was causing it any pain.
“Terribly sorry about that,” Cereb smoothly apologized to Madeline. “I got a bit excited and put too much power into it.”
“What… was that?” she asked, her eyes as wide as humanly possible.
“It’s called the Arcane Song,” he declared proudly. “Lets me cast Spells not with chanting and mental imagery, but with rhythm and melody.”
“I’ve never heard of a Skill like that!”
Granted, the nephilim had not heard of a significant number of things, but she was sure she would’ve caught wind of something like this if it were common knowledge.
“Because it’s not a Skill gained from a Job, but a style of casting that must be learned the hard way,” the half-elf man explained.
“Amazing! So it’s like a secret technique?!”
“Quite so,” Cereb smiled smugly. “I’m quite proud of it, myself.”
“Wow! You managed to invent something like this?! Lunar must love you!”
“Ah-hah, sorry to disappoint, but I didn’t come up with it. I merely found an old book describing the Arcane Song tucked away in the corner of an old library. I have been able to make it my own, however, and it has served me well ever since! And I feel quite confident it would serve you just as well!”
“R-really?!” Madeline squealed. “You’re going to teach me a secret technique!?”
“Indeed. It would be an honor, a privilege and a pleasure to pass on this lost art,” he declared with a bow.
Though the nephilim looked as if she was about to burst from excitement, Xera couldn’t help but roll her eyes after seeing the whelp gush over something as ridiculous as that ‘secret technique.’ Though that was certainly a nice way of describing it, the Arcane Song was ultimately nothing more than a gimmick. Casting Spells the proper way was both quicker and more cost-efficient, not to mention it didn’t require that one be able to carry a tune or play an instrument. The Arcane Song was also rather unstable, meaning that Spells were far more likely to either fail or backfire when using this method.
There were upsides to it, however. For one thing, it could be used as a crutch to allow magically inept people like Cereb to wield the arcane arts with some measure of competency. It was also not as strictly formulated as chanting, allowing the caster to potentially alter a Spell’s properties on the fly in exchange for increasing its MP cost. One could, for example, make Fireballs fly in a curve rather than a straight line, pour a bit of extra power into a Shadowbolt, or float a conjured Frost Mine in mid-air instead of attaching it to a flat surface.
Boxxy had judged that the potential versatility of this Arcane Song was rather tasty, but couldn’t use it since the Bard-only Empowered Vocals Skill was, unfortunately, a requirement.
Madeline had already cleared that first hurdle, however, allowing her to begin her new training right away. Or at least right after she and Cereb found someone to give her the Wizard Job. Though she would need to go on monster hunting expeditions to develop it, the Firebolt Spell she got at Level 1 was more than enough to start practicing. She also needed a musical instrument to help her along, preferably something more portable than a piano.
She eventually settled on the violin, which she was already proficient in thanks to her Minstrel Skill. Not to mention she had already put hundreds of hours of practice into it during her two years at the Inquisition’s headquarters. Though her main aspiration had been to become a singer, she couldn’t exactly practice her vocals without instrumental accompaniment. And since everyone at her old home was always so damned serious all the bloody time, she had no choice but to make her own tunes.
After spending an hour or so on all the necessary preparations, Cereb took Madeline and Xera back to the theater storage room and started tutoring the blonde girl without any delay. He had chosen to start with Wizard because he felt it would be easier for a novice combatant to grasp than Blade Dancer. He was very much intending to teach her both Jobs though, and more importantly how to synergize them with the Arcane Song and certain Bard Skills. When properly combined, those elements would allow Madeline to become a true ‘Singing Spellsword,’ just like him.
However, a certain problem began to emerge almost immediately. Though Cereb had been quite hopeful and optimistic at first, he couldn’t help but grow increasingly disheartened at his pupil’s progress as the day rolled onward.
Madeline’s Firebolt flew from her lips and streaked across the dingy room, prompting Nuggz the hellhound to leap into the air and snatch the lump of flame out of the air as if it were a ball.
“Wow! Look at that, Cereb!” she exclaimed while waving her fiddle around. “I managed to make that one into a heart shape!”
“Yes, yes, that’s very nice,” he mumbled.
“… What’s the matter?” the girl noticed his lack of energy. “Am I doing something wrong?”
“No, not at all. Quite the contrary - you’re doing everything perfectly.”
“Then what is it? Why do you look so down?”
“It’s nothing, really.”
Cereb’s pride seemed to make him unwilling to come clean, so Xera decided to step in and expose his insecurities.
“He’s upset because his ego is hurt so badly it may as well be dead,” she spoke up from the corner.
“What are you talking about?” the oblivious blonde asked.
“Think about it. You show up out of nowhere saying you’re a total newbie, yet you surpass him at his own game in mere hours. I imagine his manhood has retreated so far inside his own body he’s liable to start referring to himself as ‘Cerebia’ or something.”
There was no deep motive or sinister intent behind the demon’s words, she just wanted to mess with the guy for her own amusement. She knew doing so might unnecessarily complicate the situation, but the boredom of having to babysit that vapid nephilim had made her want to throw herself under a speeding carriage. Well, more than usual at least.
“Is this true?” Madeline turned to the man.
“I… wouldn’t have put it quite like that,” he hesitantly answered, “but… yes. That is the gist of it.”
The Arcane Song was by no means a simple thing to learn. It had taken the man several weeks of rigorous practice to even produce a single spark, let alone invoke a completed Spell. He was still studying it even now and felt as if he was years away from even coming close to mastering it. Yet barely even half a day had passed before Madeline was flinging Firebolts like nobody’s business. And not only that, but he felt as if her technique had already surpassed his own.
However, this inferiority complex wasn’t the nephilim’s fault, but merely a byproduct of being in the same generation as Keira Morgana. Even someone like Cereb, who had acquired nearly a hundred combat Levels in just a few years, couldn’t hope to match her meteoric rise. Though her exact Status was a matter of confidentiality, it was widely believed that she had five Jobs with at least 200 Levels between them. To say that she completely overshadowed the young Bard would be a gross understatement.
Yet everyone that Cereb met couldn’t help but compare him to the Hero of Chaos. Not only were they both promising adventurers at roughly the same age, but also shared somewhat similar combat styles. However, one was an exceptional prodigy chosen by the gods, while the other was not. Keira was also known to constantly go on borderline insane death-defying adventures, while Cereb only tackled Quests and assignments that he felt safe about taking.
Having spoken to the woman herself on many occasions, the Bard honestly believed she had earned every Level and Skill at her disposal. He respected her as a fellow adventurer, not to mention he owed her his life. That was why he could not, in good conscience, feel envious or resentful of her. With nobody else to blame for his apparent shortcomings, all of the peer pressure he felt eventually coalesced into the aforementioned inferiority complex.
The Arcane Song had been the one thing he could do that the ever-brilliant Keira Morgana could not, so having that edge stripped away from him by her incredibly talented acquaintance hurt quite a bit.
“Come on, you can’t be serious,” Madeline looked at him in disbelief. “You do realize the only reason I’ve been able to get this far is because you’re such a great teacher, right?”
“You’re just saying that out of pity,” he brushed her off.
“No, I mean it. Like, remember when you told me half the words in that book you found were illegible? How you had to piece everything together through grueling trial and error? You saved me the trouble of having to do all that by myself!”
“I was embellishing,” he sighed in defeat. “What actually happened was that some of the words used were a bit too old and I had to look them up in a dictionary.”
“That doesn’t change the fact that you knew what I had to do and showed me how to do it. I would still be struggling to even get the tone right if you didn’t tell me to imagine singing through my skull rather than my mouth. I’m not very bright so that really helped me out. Besides, even if I can shoot Firebolts, I have no idea how to actually use them or what to aim for. Not to mention there’s a lot of Wizard Spells coming up and I haven’t the foggiest how Blade Dancing even works.”
She put a hand on his shoulder and smiled sweetly.
“I need your help, Cereb. Nobody else can teach me like you can.”
“… Okay, tell you what,” he replied after a few moments. “I’ll stop moping about if you never say such cheesy lines again.”
“Hee hee,” she giggled delightedly. “I’ll try, but no promises!”
Though her little pep-talk might’ve worked on most people, her fellow Bard had seen right through it. These people fought with words and gestures rather than swords and bows, so it was plainly obvious to the green-haired man that his pupil was merely putting on a show. She hadn’t truly meant all those things, though not for the reasons Cereb was thinking. Madeline and her sisters had all received Lunar’s blessing upon their birth, which allowed them to learn new things over ten times faster than the average person. It was also the reason why their minds were so well developed just two years after their birth. The nephilim girl obviously couldn’t reveal that she had such an unfair boon, so she had tried to act humble.
However, the part about her needing Cereb’s tutelage had sounded quite sincere and was objectively true, which genuinely felt nice from his perspective. Not to mention her dazzling beauty, sweet voice and cheerful personality were already more than enough to soothe his troubled thoughts. They may have only just met but part of him desperately wanted to at least attempt a romantic relationship, but he couldn’t. Even if he was fairly certain that Madeline had been giving him subtle hints and signals that she was interested in him, he dared not act on any of them for fear of losing his family jewels to a pissed-off catgirl.
Incidentally, Keira had also given the same ultimatum to a certain wolf-eared Monk and an animal-loving knight, though the Bard seemed the most likely to try anything.
“By the way, something’s been bothering me since we first met.”
“Ah crap, I didn’t have something stuck in my teeth the entire time, did I?”
Madeline’s remark snapped Cereb out of his romantic worries and prompted him to run his fingers over his pearly whites as he mumbled something about spinach puffs.
“Uh no, not that, your teeth are fine,” the girl reassured him. “I was just wondering, what was the deal with that song you were singing when we first met?”
“Hm? What song?”
“Y’know, the one about… s-sucking dicks?” she blushed lightly.
“Oh, that. I was hoping you’d have forgotten about that,” he scratched his neck in embarrassment. “I was just goofing around while improvising, didn’t think anyone was listening in.”
“Well, for what it’s worth, it was the best dick-related song I’ve ever heard.”
“Uh, thanks for the compliment, I guess. Wait, does that mean you’ve heard others?”
“Yeah, daddy got a bit… creative when I first said I wanted to be a singer,” she said evasively.
“How creative, if you don’t mind my asking?”
“Let’s just say I learned fifteen new euphemisms for the male genitalia that day.”
“Wow. And he said all that to his daughter? That’s one weird ‘daddy’ you got there.”
“Hmpf, you’re no bastion of normalcy yourself,” she pouted jokingly.
“Haha, no arguing with that. I mean, I am on a first name basis with the Hero of Chaos. Nobody gets to be in my position without being a weirdo, though Keira’s probably the weirdest one of all.”
The two Bards shared a light chuckle, though Cereb’s voice and face both turned deathly serious a few seconds later.
“Just don’t tell her I said that, okay?”