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*Ring-ring*

*Click*

“Hello. You have reached Demons ‘R’ Us. What can I do for you today, Boxxy?”

“Hi, Carl. Bit of a sudden question, but is there any way I can make some sort of temporary contract with an unbound demon?”

“I’m not really at liberty to answer that.”

“Come on, Carl. I really need your help on this one. I wouldn’t even be asking if not for that stupid thing with Arms nearly dying. I think I deserve at least a little help.”

“So… I’m supposed to make an exception for you because you held up your end of the summoning contract?”

“Uh… Yes?”

“You do realize that’s not how this works, right?”

“I guess not.”

“What’d you need a temp contract for anyway?”

“Aren’t you watching the broadcast?”

“I would, but we’re not getting anything. Big man upstairs says there’s some kind of service interruption.”

“Oh, right.”

Tol-Saroth’s dungeon had been warded against all forms of scrying and clairvoyance, including whatever it was the gods used to peek on mortals. And Boxxy knew this for a fact, because its attempts to mind-dial Demons ‘R’ Us were met with silence until it stepped out just now. It definitely wasn’t a simple mind-jamming trick, as it could still telepathically communicate with Claws without issue. Incidentally, the stalker had not seen Minic enter the dungeon at all, so how that little thing got in there was a total mystery.

“I found one of Tol-Saroth’s familiars imprisoned down here,” it explained. “She’s been here for the last four centuries or so. Her name is Freallausiz Aurphoirriz Zalathraxas de Thotealphiol.”

*Takatakatak-taktak-tak*

“Oh, wow!” Carl exclaimed. “Our records show her as ‘presumed obliterated.’ Guess I can update that one, huh?”

*Tak tak takatatatatak*

Normally an unbound familiar would still contact the Beyond every now and then, but Frealla’s circumstances had prevented her from doing so.

“Wait, so this is the one you want to contract with?” the devil realized.

“Yeah. She has information I want and she’s refusing to give it up.”

The Enslave Demon Skill had allowed Boxxy to force the spire fiend into divulging what she knew of the dungeon and the research that Tol-Saroth carried out here. However, in a spectacular display of malicious compliance, she had managed to blab about mostly inconsequential things for the three minutes it took for the shapeshifter’s hold on her psyche to break. And now that she knew the creature could use Enslave Demon, she refused to let down her mental guard like she had during her fight against Kora.

Though the hylt creeper was currently keeping her captive and subdued, it had no way of making her reveal what she knew. Torture was pointless against someone that withstood four centuries of constant drowning, and she was far too prideful to strike any sort of deal with a mortal. Not to mention that there was no guarantee she would be speaking the truth even if she could be convinced or coerced into saying something.

“Uh-huh. Well, either way, I really can’t help you with that one,” Carl declared. “Sorry, buddy. I didn’t make the rules, I just follow ‘em. If you want to negotiate an exception, you’d need to talk to the big man himself, and he told us he’s not to be disturbed unless the world was quite literally ending.”

“Crap.”

When Boxxy last spoke to her, Laura did say she would be immensely busy doing whatever it was she was doing with Eren, the Old God of Destruction. The Goddess of Coincidences would probably respond if the shapeshifter used its divine IOU, but this matter wasn’t worth it. If Boxxy was going to resort to using that ultimate trump card, then it would just have Clarence purge the demonic corruption from its soul.

A prospect that was looking increasingly more tempting by the day.

“Anything I can actually help you with?” Carl asked.

“Apparently not. Thanks anyway.”

“M’kay. See you around, Boxxy.”

*Click*

Well, that went about as well as could be expected. Carl was nothing if not professional, and had zero obligations to comply with the shapeshifter’s request for information. Still, as the ex-mimic liked to say, asking was free. The only thing it lost for trying was a few minutes of its time, so it didn’t think much of it. It went back inside the recently unearthed dungeon and casually strode into the lab of pickled demons. There was a lot of grunting and snarling as Frealla tried desperately to escape from Kora’s sixfold armlock, but all she accomplished was scraping her face and horns against the floor she had been pinned to.

“So what’s the word, boss?” the hoarder asked. “You gonna make this uppity cunt your bitch or what?”

“No. She’s useless to me.”

On top of having no reliable way to make Frealla spew her guts, there was also no way of knowing if she had anything of value to say in the first place. It was worth a shot, but Boxxy had underestimated how powerful the trapped demon actually was when it endeavored to bust her out.

“Then it’s fine if I make her my bitch, right?” Kora asked eagerly.

“Sure, whatever, just make sure you kill her thoroughly when you’re done.”

Boxxy had already looted everything that seemed of value or interest from the dungeon, so it collected Snek, Tick and Minic and left just as the rape was starting. Once outside and in Keira’s skin, it called Drea down with a wave of its hand. The camouflaged stalker replied by whipping down from a nearby tree, landing silently next to it.

“I’ve got special orders that are to be kept secret from the idiots inside,” it whispered to her. “Keep watching the entrance. If that gray-skinned female fiend escapes, track her and watch where she goes.”

Arms was more than a match for her captive in terms of physical strength and adapted quickly in a fight, but she had always been easily distracted outside of battles. A fault that had only been exacerbated by her newfound thirst for worldly possessions. Frealla, on the other hand, was a far more focused and mature demon. There was a good chance she would find an opportunity to either turn the tables or escape her captivity. It was then Drea’s job to see if the wayward fiend happened to visit another of Tol-Saroth’s secret stomping grounds once she thought she had gotten away. That was highly unlikely, but there was nothing to be gained from just executing her on the spot.

“Tktktktktk… Understood, Master.”

As ‘Keira’ went about the rest of her day, however, she got a not-so-tasty report a few hours later.

“All done, boss!” Kora’s thoughts entered its skull.

“What do you mean done?”

“The axe-bitch. I kept filling her holes until she was begging for more, but then I got bored and snapped her neck.”

In other words, it would appear that Arms had, for once, done her job without issue. It wasn’t quite what Boxxy wanted, but it had nobody else but itself to blame for letting that small chance slip through its hinges. If deceiving Frealla was truly that important of a task, then it would’ve just done it itself instead of leaving it to someone who was about as subtle as a kick to the groin.

“… Good work, Arms. Watch the lab for now, I’ll let you know if something comes up.”

At the very least that fiend wasn’t going to cause trouble by running wild, which was good. The shapeshifter was in need of some serious temper management, so it was planning to just relax and do some mild experiments in Keira’s workshop while Jen worked on deciphering those documents. It also let Fizzy know that its tantrums were getting worse, and that she needed to be there to subdue it should things get out of hand again. Something the golem readily agreed to, though she wondered if she could pull that off a second time.

All things considered, however, Boxxy was doing a remarkable job keeping its violent urges in check. A prime example of its monumental self control was Rowana. The elf was quite simply overjoyed to have her future wife around the house more. Though she clearly had no idea why Keira was focusing so much on her alchemy and tinkering, she was just glad she was always a room or two away rather than off fighting monsters half the world away. There was just something magical about being able to wake up and have the first thing to enter her eyesight be the most beautiful woman in the world. At least in her opinion.

This particular morning was going to be a bit different though.

*BRRRRRRRRING*

“Ack!” Rowana suddenly shot up at the loud ringing.

“Ugh, Tiiiick!” Keira groaned next to her. “What’s the big idea?!”

The sentient alarm clock stopped producing that piercing sound, though it did follow up with a series of clicking and ticking noises.

“Snek snek. Snek, snek snek,” Snek helpfully translated.

“Great, just what I needed,” the redhead grumbled into her pillow.

“There, there, sweetie,” Rowana rubbed her shoulder. “It was just a misunderstanding.”

Today was the first day after Tick Tockleton had joined the Morgana household. However, being the simple yet dutiful timepiece that it was, it had neglected to consider that Tol-Saroth’s four hundred year old alarm schedule might have been slightly out of date. The catgirl continued to complain in a sleepy voice while Rowana affectionately hugged her from behind and took deep whiffs of her crimson hair. While she might’ve avoided sniffing her girlfriend like this when they first met, that was only because she thought it made her seem creepy or perverted. She no longer had such reservations, however.

The two of them kept cuddling for a few more minutes before they somewhat reluctantly got up. The undercover shapeshifter was already awake and wasn’t about to go back to sleep with an amorous elf literally breathing down its neck, so it decided to just go about its day. Keira and Rowana shared a slightly naughty shower, after which the redhead got dressed and went off to check something with her guild.

The elf, on the other hand, got busy with her daily routine. Or rather, the far livelier, mimic-enhanced version of it. She sat at her dressing table and looked herself over in its large rectangular mirror. She then turned her attention to Teenie, the butterfly hair clip that was sleeping on the table. She tickled it awake with her finger and had it start working on straightening out her wet and messy hair. Frankly speaking, though she loved having long hair, taking care of it had been a major pain before this miniature stylist started doing it for her.

The oil lamp to the right of the mirror then suddenly lit up, a shadow spelling ‘Good morning’ appearing on its crystalline shade.

“Well, good morning to you too, Lumi,” Rowana said with a smile. “I suppose I better get ready for the rest of your friends.”

She opened a drawer and retrieved a box of dried hylt fruit slices.

“Yip! Yip!”

“Snek!”

She barely even popped it open before both Minic and Snek were standing in front of her, begging for a snack. She happily fed them a piece each before Crusty the crustacean cookie jar showed up. Feeding this one was even easier since all Rowana had to do was reach into its hollow ‘shell,’ take out a fresh cookie and give it to the tiny pincers poking out of its bottom. Crusty immediately started munching on it, the cookies painted onto its ceramic surface doing a little dance to emphasize just how much it was enjoying its sugary treat. Tick also climbed up onto the table, though it was far more interested in its own reflection than the fruity treats. Mostly because its finely tuned internals could only process liquids.

Rowana's Lazy Morning, by dmaxcustom

Though Teenie doing her hair should have allowed Rowana to finish her morning routine much sooner, she had too much fun playing with the other mimics while putting on makeup. Lumi also liked putting on adorable shadow puppet shows, which only added to her distractions. It took almost thirty minutes for the future Mrs Morgana to finally get around to changing out of her frilly negligee and into some actual clothes.

She wasn’t planning on heading out today, so her choice of outfit was a short sleeved button shirt, a pair of loose calf-length trousers and some flip flops for her bare feet. She went down the steps and into the living room, where she saw a wooden mannequin already hard at work sweeping the floor.

“Morning, Manny,” she greeted it.

The living doll replied with a polite nod and a tip of its wide-brimmed hat. Rowana honestly wasn’t a fan of that particular piece of headgear, though. The royal purple color and white feather was a bit much for her. Still, Manny seemed happy with it, so who was she to rain on its parade?

“You went to see Homer last night, right? How’s he doing?”

The mannequin made an ‘OK’ sign with its hand.

“That’s good. And hey, thanks again for helping out with the housework.”

Manny waved at her in a distinct ‘don’t worry about it’ motion. It was made to be a housekeeper, so sweeping the floor, dusting the shelves and washing the windows were not things he considered work. After all, no matter how intelligent house mimics were, none of them could escape the feeling of fulfilment they experienced from carrying out the tasks they were literally created to do. Well, either that or feeding whatever obsession they had developed over the years. Traits that seemed to have been ‘inherited’ by their more monstrous counterparts.

“What’s on the menu for today, by the way?”

Manny pointed towards the adjacent kitchen, where Cookers the stone oven was already hard at work preparing something. It had used its four stubby legs to shuffle over to the counter next to its resting spot and was using a pair of rocky hands to slowly but surely prepare the ingredients for the day’s lunch. Which, judging by the card Manny had written, was going to be a pot roast. Rowana usually wasn’t a fan of heavy meals like that, but she was willing to give it a try. Last night’s shepherd’s pie had been absolutely divine, after all.

“I’ll look forward to it,” the elf said with a smile. “I’ll be in the basement in case I’m needed.”

Manny gave her a thumbs up, then resumed its crusade against every last speck of dirt and filth in the house. Not the laundry though. Washing clothes seemed to be where this maid-like mimic drew the line. As for Rowana, she headed into the Morgana residence’s private alchemy lab, which was quite literally carved into the hylt branch the house was built on. The lovey-dovey couple were about to run out of scented soaps and shampoos, so the elf intended to spend the morning mixing up a fresh batch.

While doing so she happened to notice that Keira had left an open tome on her side of the laboratory. A brand new edition of Barnaby’s Guide to Advanced Mixology, by the look of it. She got a bit curious and peeked at it, but was surprised to see that it was opened to the book’s chapter on honeydew. More specifically, the section that detailed the substance’s habit-forming properties when used by non-elves and how to best treat addiction. Unbeknownst to her, Boxxy had been researching a creeper-specific cure for its alchemical dependency and had neglected to put away its reference materials.

This was not, however, anything even remotely close to the conclusion Rowana had reached. To her, the only logical reason her girlfriend might have for studying a dangerous and controversial substance like honeydew was because she was trying to help someone. A friend, colleague or acquaintance of hers must have approached her, asking for help with their drug problem. And being the kind and considerate person that she was, Keira had taken it upon herself to do so as discreetly as possible in order to protect her client’s dignity and reputation. Hence why she hadn’t told her wife-to-be, even though the elf would’ve surely been able to help.

Having instantly convinced herself that this book and its implications were not in any way suspicious, Rowana turned her attention back towards mixing up a fresh batch of scented hygiene products. This was hardly the first nor was it likely to be the last time that she had been given a hint as to Keira’s more nefarious side. Yet after being subjected to over two years of Boxxy’s special brand of bullshit, she didn’t even bat an eye at any of them. It wasn’t that she was gullible, naive, hypnotized or brainwashed. She simply genuinely believed from the bottom of her heart and soul that Keira could do no wrong.

It was therefore practically guaranteed that, on that seemingly inevitable day when she found out the truth, her mind would likely snap like a twig that had been trampled by a griffin.

But, for the moment, the elf hummed pleasantly in her blissful ignorance. Her mind and eyes both drifted towards the alchemical textbook on the other side of the room. On one hand, she wanted to be of help to her beloved. On the other, she felt bad for invading her privacy. Eventually she decided that Keira would ask for her help if she thought it necessary and stowed that thought away in a corner of her mind.

Manny politely knocked on the basement door to inform Rowana that it was lunch time. The elf cleaned up her workstation, thoroughly washed and detoxified her hands, then went back to the living room. She was met with the almost overpowering aroma of freshly cooked beef, which made her mouth water and stomach growl. Keira had just come back from whatever she was doing, and the two of them sat down to enjoy a hearty and delicious meal. Cookers was the proud holder of a Level 10 Cooking Skill and Rowana’s sensitive nose allowed her to pick out the absolute best ingredients from the market, resulting in a dish that was nothing short of perfection.

Well, not good enough to satiate a certain monster’s instinctive hunger for human flesh, but close enough.

After eating their fill, Keira went downstairs to continue working on her ‘secret project,’ while Rowana went back to the living room. The productive morning, delicious lunch and healthy dose of mealtime flirting had put her in a mood that could only be described as ‘warm and fuzzy.’ She carefully sat down on her new armchair, the eloquently named Sir Seatmeister the Third. She leaned into it, allowing the living cushions to mold themselves to a shape that perfectly accommodated her slender back.

“Prrrrr…”

The chair mimic then let out a soft purr that originated somewhere around Rowana’s ankles. Unsurprising, considering that was where its mouth was. Manny then snapped its wooden fingers, attracting the elf’s attention.

“Hm? What is it?”

Rowana turned her gaze towards the mannequin, which gracefully handed her a piece of paper that had something carefully written onto it.

Miss Rowana,

In case you didn’t know, Sir Seatmeister the Third is quite adept at shoulder massages. I recommend you ask for one. They can even make wooden joints like mine feel as light as a feather. I personally guarantee their quality.

Kind Regards,
Manny

It was a bit weird that the doll styled all his messages like formal letters, but it was better than that weird sign language it had developed over the years.

“Massages, you say? Can you give me one, Seatmeister?”

“Grrrrr.”

“Heh. Sorry. I meant Sir Seatmeister the Third.”

The chair seemed to insist it be called by its full name. The oddity of that was just about to dawn on the elf when she felt a pair of foamy hands grasp her shoulders from above and behind. She jumped lightly in her seat from the shock, but relaxed when she realized they belonged to the (apparently) knighted chair. Rowana had no idea its shapeshifting abilities went that far. So far she had assumed they were limited to adjusting the cushions and changing the coloration to match the decor of whatever room Sir Seatmeister the Third was in. Needless to say, she had greatly underestimated just how much Tol-Saroth enjoyed the finer things in life.

“Mmmm…”

And fine it was. She wasn’t sure if it was magic, skilled fingers, or a combination of both, but the chair’s shoulder massage was deeply relaxing. Which, given her already laid back mood, meant she practically melted into its embrace. She closed her eyes, drifting off into the best damn nap of her life while her seat continued to tenderly work good vibes into her muscles. She was woken up about an hour later when the sweet smell of Cookers and Crusty’s freshly baked cookies filled her nostrils. She also detected another pleasant aroma, this one much closer to her.

She slowly opened her eyes to see Manny quietly and diligently polishing the dragon statuette in the corner of the room. It was made of Fool’s Diamond, a synthetic gemstone made through alchemy that glistened like the real thing. What struck Rowana as odd was that its pedestal should’ve been closer to the middle of the room rather than in the corner. Keira had that thing commissioned and liked to keep it there so that the sunlight coming in from the nearby window would make it bathe the room in pretty lights. The elf just assumed that Manny must’ve moved it in order to make room for the small round table that now stood next to her seat.

“Ahem.”

The same table that let out a noise like an old gentleman politely clearing his throat.

“Oh, is it tea time already?”

Indeed, the fragrant cup of freshly made tea that rested near Tablesworth’s edge would suggest as such. The living piece of furniture slowly rose and expanded its flat top, being careful not to tip over the flower-filled vase resting in the middle of it. This brought the cup close enough to Rowana that she could pick it up without having to move from her comfortable position. She thanked the table - again, not something she was quite used to doing just yet - and took a noseful of the tea’s aroma before lifting it up to her lips.

“Ahem!” Tablesworth said sternly.

“… Ah! Of course, how silly of me.”

Rowana extend her pinky out as was proper etiquette and, after getting an affirmative ‘ah-hem’ from Tablesworth, took a nice long sip of the tea.

“Mmm, lovely.”

She then set it back down on the table, which shrunk down to its previous, more compact dimensions. It would then expand once more when it anticipated Rowana would like another sip. Tablesworth was a butler of sorts, so it was quite attentive to that sort of thing. It was also rather adamant about manners and etiquette, which did not sit well with Keira. It wasn’t as if the catgirl was uncivilized or rude, she just found that stuff boring and restrictive for everyday use. Rowana, on the other hand, had been raised to pay attention to such things, so she didn’t mind the occasional ‘Ahem!’ from Tablesworth.

“Ah.. Ahehehem!”

However, this time it seemed to have seen something truly outrageous.

“Manny?” Rowana spoke up without moving a single millimeter. “I think Trunks got into my laundry again. Can you go discipline it for me?”

Rowana's Lazy Afternoon, by dmaxcustom

The mannequin nodded and went to apprehend the piece of luggage that was trying to sneak by with some of the elf’s freshly washed unmentionables. It was amazing how cocky that guy got even though Keira had threatened it multiple times not to do that. However, some of the house mimics weren’t as good at keeping their obsessions in check as the others. The troublesome ones were Minic, Crusty, and Trunks. Or, as Rowana had started calling them, the ‘container crew.’ They seemed to have way too much energy and not enough useful outlets for it, which regularly made them restless.

And when harmless critters with nothing better to do got restless, they started performing mischief. Still, there was a relatively easy, albeit temporary, solution to that. Once Rowana had finished her tea, reclaimed her underwear and sampled Cookers’ latest creation, she started preparing to take the container crew for a walk. That said, she was going to bring Manny and Snek along to help keep an eye on the hyperactive trio. She let the mannequin carry Crusty, put Minic on her shoulder and had Trunks compress itself into its briefcase form so she could carry it around. It never failed to amaze her just how light this panty thief was considering the bulkiness of its regular shape.

Mischievous mimics firmly in hand, Rowana and Manny left the house. The elf had traded her flimsy footwear for a more reliable pair of sandals, while the mannequin was wearing a long coat and had bandages wrapped around its head and hands. They rode one of the floating elevator platforms down to ground level and had to make their way through the crowds. This part of the afternoon walk was why the container crew had to be carried, as it was easy to lose sight of them when they barely went up to people’s shins. Not to mention that having animate objects bump into their feet would be quite startling for the other pedestrians.

Incidentally, not wanting to cause a disturbance was also the reason why Manny was dressed the way it was. Dressing like a smaller yet classier version of the Sandman allowed it to blend in with the crowd and move around undisturbed. Anyone would find out it was a puppet if they bumped into it, but it had four centuries to master the art of crowd surfing as it moved from one place to the next. It wasn’t as if it necessarily needed to keep doing that now that it was officially a member of the Morgana household, but some part of its mimic mind hated being stared at by strangers in the street.

Rowana and her assistant stuck to Azurvale’s main streets for a solid ten minutes before pulling away to a rather large park. It was a relatively quiet place where people could come whenever they wanted to escape the hustle and bustle of the capital for a while. It was also the perfect place to let the container crew run wild all they liked. Rowana had barely even picked out a bench to sit on when Minic leapt off her shoulder and ran off yipping into a bush.

That one was the most adventurous of the bunch, though. Trunks seemed content to climb trees or roll around in the grass and leaves, while Crusty dug up random clumps of soil with its tiny pincers. It also occasionally stuffed mud in its mouth only to spit it back out, which Rowana liked to think was because it couldn’t tell the difference between wet dirt and raw cookie dough until it had tasted them. As for Manny, it was mostly running around trying to keep them from straying too far from the elf and using some notecards it had left in its pockets to explain itself to any curious visitors.

“Ugh, I feel like I’ve been sitting all day,” the elf mumbled to herself. “And the food Cookers makes is way too good, even if it’s always baked. Well, it’s an oven so that’s only to be expected. Still… I hope I’m not becoming too spoiled.”

It was a rather valid concern. Between Keira bringing in so much money from her adventuring and being pampered by house mimics, the youngest of the Slyth family was at real risk of becoming a slovenly woman. Granted, not the most dangerous thing that could happen to her, but it was still something she wanted to avoid. Even if this was her day off from her clinic job, there was a limit to how much a responsible adult could laze around. The only remotely productive thing she’d done all day was spend several hours making scented soaps and herbal shampoos, though that was more of a self-serving hobby than anything else.

“Hmm…”

Thinking back on this morning, she remembered finding out that Keira was studying honeydew addiction. Rowana was quite knowledgeable about the subject, as she often used that potent substance during her clinic duties, including helping junkies get clean. She had a gut feeling that her girlfriend’s ‘patient’ was a rather special case, and felt compelled to help even though she didn’t want to admit to unintentionally spying on her. However, there was nothing stopping her from collecting some obscure yet helpful literature on the subject and ‘accidentally’ leaving it where Keira would find it.

Rowana therefore decided she would do her best to help without directly interfering.

After a few hours of watching house mimics playing in the dirt and occasionally playing a friendly game of cards with Manny, the elf took the group to a library. A regular one though, not the one within the Central Consortium. Though the latter was quite extensive, it only held general information that would be useful to adventurers. It was probably where Keira got that copy of Barnaby’s Guide to Advanced Mixology. Unfortunately, while certainly excellent, that tome was far too broad in subject to be of any real help to the catgirl’s chemical conundrum.

“Oh! Miss Slyth!” the librarian exclaimed. “Haven’t seen you in years!”

The elf that greeted her was an older gentlemen, his head balding, skin wrinkled, and face bespectacled. He was wearing a black vest with a checkered undershirt and a pair of plain brown slacks behind the counter.

“Good afternoon, Orian,” she smiled sweetly at him. “It has been a long while, hasn’t it?”

The old elf had been her private tutor on elven literature when she was still a teenager. He had since retired from teaching and had dedicated his twilight years to cataloguing and caring for the thousands upon thousands of books in this library.

“I say, what are those curious creatures you have with you?” Orian asked, adjusting his glasses.

“Oh, these are my… pets, I guess. This is Manny, Minic, Trunks, Crusty, and this one on my wrist is Snek.”

The mimics nodded, yipped, barked, chittered, and snekked, respectively.

“Ah. I see,” he frowned slightly. “I won’t pretend to know what’s going on, but pets aren’t allowed in the library. As you should well know.”

“Don’t be like that. They won’t bother anyone. I promise.”

Not that there was anyone else around to bother, but Rowana felt awkward about pointing that out.

“They’re dripping mud all over my carpet,” Orian crossed his arms.

“So… it’ll be fine if I clean them up?”

He stared at her sternly for a few moments before relaxing his shoulders with a sigh. He had always been way too soft on his students, former or otherwise.

“I suppose,” he conceded.

Rowana ushered the mimics outside for a moment before retrieving a Shower in a Bottle from the living briefcase’s Storage and opening it. One localized sudzy rainstorm later and the entire group was clean enough to placate Orian. Crusty even tried offering him one of its cookies as a sort of peace offering once it was carried back inside. The librarian hesitated for a moment since food was not allowed in the library, but he couldn’t bring himself to refuse the strangely cute ceramic crustacean. Well, that and the freshly baked treat smelled really good, so he accepted it anyway.

Once that was settled, Orian directed his former pupil to the section she was looking for. Rowana spent the next half hour or so rifling through the old, dusty tomes before finally finding the books she was looking for. Namely Tol-Saroth’s 101 Practical Applications of Hylt Sap, A Study on Metabolic Enhancers by Maurice Jaeger, and Encyclopedia Obscura Volume Four.

Though not immediately apparent from their titles, these books went into great detail describing the theories, substances and techniques used to create both honeydew and the various treatments for its habit-forming properties. They were also the kind of specialized literature that one wouldn’t know about without having a formal education in alchemy or consulting someone who did. Rowana was intending to leave them on her side of the basement laboratory. She would then casually mention to her significant other that her office had gotten a questionable batch of honeydew, so she had to brush up on her knowledge of the matter. And if a certain someone ‘coincidentally’ happened to read these books afterwards, then that would hardly be her fault.

Yes, it was an unnecessarily roundabout way of doing things, but Rowana was, at present, an elf with way too much time on her hands.

However, while Orian didn’t seem to question her taste in books while he checked them out for her, there was someone else in the library who had noticed the connecting thread between them. Or rather, something else. Neither the librarian, Rowana nor her mimics had noticed it, but a certain presence had been spying on them the entire time. A being whose curiosity made it leave its hiding place and stealthily follow the platinum-blonde beauty and her entourage until they left the building. It peeked out of the corner of a window and watched them walk off.

Yet despite clearly having an interest in her, this mysterious observer had ultimately decided against venturing into the wide open world. This quiet, dusty old library was far too convenient of a hiding spot to just leave it behind on a whim. So, with an inward sigh, it gave up on the elf and silently fluttered back to its resting spot. It was then suddenly caught, wrapped up, and suspended by countless strands of sticky spider silk, courtesy of Rowana’s other stalker.

Or, more specifically, her webstalker.

Once Kora had finished murder-raping Frealla, there had been no further need to have Drea lurk around the graveyard. As such, Boxxy had instructed the arachnid demoness to keep an eye on its primary XP factory since it didn’t have anything better for her to do. Drea had been silently and stealthily following Rowana everywhere since then, both in and out of the house. This library was no exception, so she was able to easily spot and capture her… competition.

She was, however, rather taken aback to learn that said competitor was a flying book that, upon trying to escape her webs, revealed itself to have eyes and teeth.

Both of which seemed to belong to a predator rather than a pacifist.

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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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charchomp @charchomp ago

What?!? Ext posted during the day?? I love it!

Sosseres @Sosseres ago

Reminds me more and more of Discworld as the strange things keeps getting added.

99Bigbear @99Bigbear ago

Hmm... one of the few mimics made Talsoroth that seem more like the mimics they evolved into than the ones he originally created. It must have more demon in it than the others.

    Vincent1875 @Vincent1875 ago

    It might actually be a monster book mimic. Or maybe it's a journal that he didn't want people reading. I guess we'll see.

      flssdd @flssdd ago

      If it's his, it might be one of the first tries to make the mimics into weapons and monsters rather than tools and pets. It certainly explains why it was curious about the others, but apparently doesn't know them.

999999 @999999 ago

keep up the good work

Bilbo12 @Bilbo12 ago

So I guess that creepy thing right above rowana in the 2nd pic is Drea? Was wondering what it could be.

Gelcube
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Gelcube @Gelcube ago

Thanks for the chapter!

skaiamechanic @skaiamechanic ago

Another delicious chapter! When I saw you were writing a different story for NaNoWriMo, I expected not to see any more chapters from you until December. But we've been getting some fantastic content! Thanks again for your hard work!