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A note from Exterminatus

PSA: I'm currently slowly chipping away at editing volume 4 for Amazon, so expect releases to slow down while I do that.

Boxxy had just gone from ‘commanding monstrosity’ to ‘comatose treasure chest’ in the span of a few seconds, leaving the rest of its troupe to stand there with dumb looks on their faces.

“So… Is Boxxy going to be okay?” Fizzy spoke up first, still gripping Gordon’s I. O. U.

“I’ll check.”

Xera, who had taken on Keira’s appearance in accordance with her orders, stepped forward and gently placed a hand on her slumbering master. The vaguely defined ‘Keira duty’ gave her enough leeway to do whatever she pleased so long as she maintained the catgirl’s shape, and right at that moment she wanted to make sure Boxxy had recovered. She enacted her Dreamweaver Skill to unobtrusively peek into the creature’s mind.

The countless gray cubes that made up the shapeshifter mindscape spread out before her. They were buzzing around at steadily increasing speeds as Boxxy’s subconscious was busy concocting some weird dream or another. She ignored this activity and focused on the manifestation of her master’s psyche that lay in the middle of it all. The gem-studded, castle-sized mithril treasure chest was there in all its glimmering splendour, as were the various carvings representing the shapeshifter’s numerous alter egos.

Xera performed a cursory inspection of this mental fortress in search for any signs of lingering demonic corruption. She had been tasked with keeping tabs on it on her master’s behalf over the past few weeks, so she knew what to look for. The good news was there was not even a single trace of demonic influence. The bad news was that this was because the once-contaminated areas of Boxxy’s inner self were straight up missing, resulting in a gaping, mangled hole in the side of the mental construct. It was almost as if the tainted areas of the shapeshifter’s mind had been literally ripped out of it, which was understandable considering the severity of the ordeal it had just gone through.

Thankfully this ‘damage’ didn’t seem to be permanent. Xera could clearly see the smallest building blocks of Boxxy’s mindscape already congealing around the gap. They melted into the cerebral structure and added onto it, slowly but surely restoring it to its former state. The djinn, satisfied with what she had seen, pulled her consciousness out of her master’s head. She stood up and backed away so as to not disturb the shapeshifter’s well-earned sleep while she gave the others the good news.

“Master’s affliction has been successfully cured,” she stated quietly yet confidently. “It still needs some time to recover fully, so we should let it rest.”

Fizzy felt relief wash over her as she heard this, as it meant things would hopefully go back to normal. She placed the slip of paper representing Greg’s godly gift in front of Boxxy’s sleeping form, then turned her attention to the monstrous nightstand it had conjured just minutes ago. The golem followed the shapeshifter’s instructions and repeatedly zapped the thing’s body until all that was left of it was a charred stain on the chamber’s floor. Once that was over with, she went outside alongside Drea and Xera, who had their own orders to follow.

Kora and Jen remained by the dungeon’s entrance, vigilant against any poor soul that might accidentally stumble their way into it. Well, at least Jen was. The hoarder demon got bored of just standing around almost immediately and parked her oversized butt on the cold stone floor with her legs crossed. She picked her nose, scratched her elbows, poked at the wall and rested her chin on her palm all at once, like some sort of professional slacker.

Jen, however, took issue with that.

“Suggesting that you take your post more seriously.”

“Oh, flock off, Feather-Face,” Kora grumbled in response. “Ain’t nobody gonna be stupid enough to just wander into a crypt in the middle of the night.”

The once-fiend was so thoroughly used to standing guard that she knew a pointless assignment when she saw one.

“Besides, there’s only one way in or out,” she pointed in front of her, “and it’s fucking closed.”

The others had made sure to trigger the mechanism that sealed and hid the dungeon’s entrance, leaving Kora and Jen to stare at the inside of a sliding door. The harpy couldn’t argue the point that having both of them guarding it seemed like overkill, but she was far too stubborn to admit that the demon was right. That, and she still resented Kora for setting in motion the chain of events that led to this entire debacle. Not only had her brainless bravado nearly gotten both herself and her master killed, but she had also been the one responsible for siring the triplets that had provoked the cultists’ assault in the first place.

Admittedly the whole thing had been a useful case study that helped Jen better grasp the ‘cause and effect’ part of her newly acquired faith, but that was hardly worth all the trouble it had caused both her and Boxxy. Hence why she continued to give Kora the stink eye even though she inwardly agreed with the demon’s assessment that their assignment would be a waste of time. The harpy also wanted to beat the shit out of the hoarder, though the only thing that would accomplish was giving Kora just the sort of distraction she wanted.

So the two of them just stood around, with the demoness desperately looking for some way to kill time without abandoning her post and Jen alternating between vigilance and resentment. A whole eight hours passed without either of them saying anything or making a sound, aside from Kora’s bored grunts and frustrated sighs. At that point the demoness was so thoroughly bored out of her skull that she smashed her head against the wall just to remind herself that she was, indeed, alive. Jen reprimanded her in her usual monotone, after which silence reigned more or less undisturbed for another six and a half hours.

It was only then that, after more than half a day of sleeping, Boxxy finally woke up. It yawned mightily, stretching its sore hinges in the process. It spotted the I. O. U. Fizzy had left for it to find and felt a wee bit silly for forgetting about something so important. Well, no harm had been done, so it collected the thing without raising too much of a fuss. A random assortment of legs and feet poked out from its underside, allowing the monstrous chest to waddle over to where Jen and Kora were. The two meatheads turned around as if to greet it, both of them visibly perking up at seeing it up and about.

“Morning, boss,” Kora said with a wave. “How’s it hanging?”

“Like a puppy from a noose,” it responded in an oddly jovial tone.

“… What?” she asked dumbly.

“What?” it mimicked her response, including her voice.

“Are you feeling alright?” Jen butted in.

“No, I’m not all right. At least half of me is left.”

“Uh…”

The harpy looked on with a subtle look of confusion, whereas Kora’s expression slowly turned into one of unease.

“Oh, that reminds me. Arms, I have something very important to tell you, so stand perfectly still while I get ready.”

Her anxiety only deepened when she heard those words, as she had a hunch about what would happen next. Her worries didn’t show on her face though, mostly because of her newly imposed contractual obligation to not move a single muscle. Her suspicions as to what Boxxy was about to do were more or less proven true when the monstrous chest in front of her opened up and a single arm popped out from inside it.

The limb was, in a word, grotesque. Though it looked relatively human in shape and coloration, its sheer size and bulk made it seem more at home on a giant or an orc. Or possibly a giant orc. The arm then grew larger still, its taut skin nearly ripping from the ridiculous amount of muscles the shapeshifter was pumping into it. By the time it was done, the hand alone was large enough to grip a person as if they were a doll.

Its bizarre creation seemingly complete, Boxxy clenched its titanic fist. It then spun itself and its new limb around with such speed and grace that it made the spectacle seem like an illusion or hallucination. However, it was demonstrated to be very much real when, after gaining momentum for twelve blindingly fast revolutions, it punched Kora in the torso. The massive demon was knocked off her feet with a tremendous thunk, smashed into the dungeon’s magically reinforced wall with a thunderous thud, then collapsed to the floor with a pathetic flop.

“Are we clear?” Boxxy asked in that same terrifyingly jovial tone.

Kora coughed, sputtered, then vomited out some black demon blood before finally managing a somewhat affirmative-sounding groan.

“Excellent!” it declared. “Now then, I am positively starving. Good thing I had Claws prepare breakfast!”

Boxxy casually exited the dungeon, then lazily chanted its Transfamiliar Spell. It disappeared in a puff of green sulfur-scented smoke and reappeared in the Dryad’s Domain, where a veritable feast of freshly caught Imperial immigrants was already waiting for it. This naturally left Drea stumbling around in the dusty tomb as she waited for the brief bout of disorientation that usually accompanied that Spell to fade. Once she had regained her balance and footing, she poked her head inside Tol-Saroth’s dungeon. On her left she saw Jen, who was just sort of standing there in what could only be described as ‘stoic bewilderment,’ and on the right she noticed Kora, who was lying on the ground in a mangled mess and slowly suffocating to death because of her ruptured lungs.

“So is it really, tkktktktk, that?” the arachnid demoness asked in a nervous chitter.

“Ghrh-hrh,” the hoarder gurgled in confirmation.

“Damn.”

“You know what’s going on with Boxxy?” the thoroughly confused harpy chimed in.

“Unfortunately,” Drea nodded.

“What is it?”

She might not have known the shapeshifter for all that long, but even she could tell something was ‘off.’

“Master is, tktktktkt, happy,” the spider girl hesitantly informed her.

“… And?”

“Master gets… weird when it is happy.”

After a filling meal, an afternoon nap, and a bit of devious planning, Boxxy sent a new command to its first familiar.

“Snack, we’ll be going on a trip for a short while. Handle it with the elf and get back to base.”

The timing was a bit awkward, to say the least. The sun had just set and Xera was currently stuck working out some asinine wedding plans with Rowana. Nothing important, either. The guest list, location and date had all been set, and Keira had hired some big shot wedding planner to handle everything else. All that was left for the engaged couple to decide were truly pointless details, like what sort of food to offer, or whether segregating the rowdy adventurers into their own little section at the reception was a good idea. The djinn was therefore quite glad to have heard her new orders, but there was just one minor issue.

Keira had no excuses to just flake out for a few days.

Usually Boxxy would spend a few days setting up some plausible story whenever it disappeared for a while. Things like an important Quest with hundreds of lives in the balance or a summons from Gregory, the God of Misfortune. Coming up with those on such extremely short notice was a bit much. Thankfully for Xera, she was able to get a little help from her arachnid coworker, whose only job was to press a little button just outside the Morgana household’s front door.

*Ding-dong*

“Hmm?”

Rowana stopped the ongoing conversation about floral arrangements and lifted her head towards the chiming bell in the upper corner of the room. The elf had initially been a bit skeptical regarding this ‘doorbell’ thing that Fizzy and Keira had installed, but she had to admit it had been a good idea. Mostly because they wouldn’t hear a knock on the door from inside their soundproofed bedroom if not for that thing. There was another chime on the ground floor so that the doorbell could be heard throughout the rest of the house, but that was besides the point, not to mention the least of Rowana’s worries.

“Do we have a visitor? At this hour?”

“Ugh,” Keira groaned. “That’s probably for me.”

“How do you know that?”

“Why else would anyone drop by uninvited when it’s dark out.”

Admittedly there had been those neighbor kids that found it funny to ring and run. They gave up on that prank once Keira demonstrated that she was ten times better at chasing than they were at getting away. Boxxy may have also inflicted some relatively minor psychological trauma in the process, given the way those children were now deathly terrified of bell chimes. Could have been a lot worse, though. At least all of this had gone down well before its recent temper tantrum troubles.

In any event, the djinn gave the elf a few reassuring grumbles that she’d ‘take care of it,’ went out of the room by herself, came back a short while later and gave Rowana ‘the news.’ She spewed out some bullshit about the FIB needing Keira to track down some loose ends from the Great Collapse case for maybe a week, two tops. The elf complained about how awful the timing was with the wedding ‘right around the corner,’ but she didn’t do anything to actually stop Keira from grabbing her gear, kissing her goodbye, then disappearing into the night.

Upon returning to the central dungeon platform of the Dryad’s Domain, Xera was met with a rather curious sight. She had heard from Drea that Boxxy had apparently been in a superb mood and was well aware of the bizarre and seemingly nonsensical behavior the shapeshifter exhibited whenever it felt jovial. The slutty demoness had therefore been prepared to see something ridiculous, which was why she barely even flinched when she saw Kora swimming around in a giant fish bowl. What surprised her, however, was that Fizzy, Jen, and a freshly returned Drea were in the tank along with that multi-armed mega-moron.

“Snack. You’re late.”

As for Boxxy it was currently hovering above the water with a fishing rod made out of glued together human legs, which had an oversized golden hook dangling from the end via a mithril chain. It was using this thing to poke, prod, and generally annoy the collection of monsters and demons below it.

“Apologies, Master,” the djinn bowed her head. “The elf was being bitchier than usual, so it took some effort to pacify her.”

“I see. Wonder if we can harness that bitchiness somehow?” it said thoughtfully. “A Bitch-Bomb. Now there’s an idea!”

“Master, if I may ask, what exactly is going on?”

“Oh, I’m giving everyone a crash course on diving and swimming.”

“Okay. Why?”

“I just felt like it.”

Yup, that seemed about right for ‘happy’ Boxxy behavior. For some reason, whenever that monster experienced prolonged elation, it felt the need to celebrate this by torturing and abusing those around it. Usually it would either be driving Rowana crazy with a barrage of terrible puns, pranking Fizzy by moving her stuff around without her noticing, embarrassing Drea, or beating the shit out of Kora for no good reason. Wasting eveyone’s time with this… whatever this was, seemed right up its alley.

“Oh, that and we’ll be diving to the bottom of the Shimmering Ocean,” it added.

Xera, who had helped organize Tol-Saroth’s deciphered notes and journals, immediately realized what her master was talking about. One of the great sage’s memoirs mentioned his exploration of those dark depths, and subsequent discovery of an ‘ancient weapon of terrible power’ or somesuch. Unfortunately, this was detailed in one of the older diaries, the ones from his adventurous youth. These were in remarkably poor condition, with entire pages missing and all manner of smudges and stains making entire paragraphs of text unreadable. The only relevant information that could be recovered about this mystery weapon was that it was huge, deadly, and beyond even Tol-Saroth’s comprehension.

This would normally be the sort of thing Boxxy would just pass on, but its current jovial disposition was likely clouding its judgement a little bit.

“With all due respect, Master, do we know where to even start looking?”

“Yup,” it declared confidently. “Apparently there’s a krymer village in that area. Those guys probably have some secret info on it.”

Well, it was marginally better than scouring the entirety of the ocean floor, at least.

“And how do you propose we survive the trip all the way down there?”

Boxxy responded by tossing Xera a bag of accessories. These consisted of a collar, a pair of bracelets, a pair of anklets, a set of goggles, and a belt. That last one had been forged out of metal plates bolted together like an extremely flat chain, while the others were stitched out of some kind of slick off-white leather that had been studded with steel. The djinn whistled appreciatively at how kinky the set looked and happily put it on. Boxxy then extended an arm and unceremoniously dunked the demoness into the bowl with the others.

Xera then found out with a bit of disappointment that these items had actually been enchanted diving gear. The collar was there to allow its user to breathe underwater while the wrist and ankle decorations helped out with the swimming. The eyewear allowed anyone to see clearly in the depths where sunlight did not reach, and the belt protected adventurers from getting crushed by water pressure. As the djinn looked around, she now realized everyone else was wearing the same stuff, too.

Well, everyone except Fizzy, who was far more resilient to harsh conditions than the others.

The demons handled their portion of aquatic exercise fairly well, mostly because of the pink gem of a Divine item currently in their master’s possession. The instant dungeons spawned by that thing varied wildly in theme, so it was only natural that there would be a few dungeon templates that heavily featured aquatic environments. These ‘water levels,’ as the familiars called them, were slow, annoying, boring, and ultimately a waste of everyone’s time, so they usually skipped them whenever they came up. Still, the few they had been forced to suffer through had given all of them some experience with underwater combat and exploration, though they sadly hadn’t been given these immensely useful trinkets back then.

However, Jen hadn’t been made privy to such things. Though she had ventured into quite a few of the instant dungeons, none of them had been significantly submerged. It wasn’t as if swimming and diving were something new to the former Gilded Hand enforcer, but this had been her first time trying either of those after her transformation. Having water as her Bane made it immensely difficult and exhausting to swim around for extended periods of time. She’d started out relatively fine, but her form and movements had deteriorated rapidly after just five minutes, even with the diving gear’s assistance. By now she struggled to move around so much that at one point her limbs were flailing around like those of a drowning orc in the middle of a seizure.

Alright, maybe not exactly like that, but the thought amused Boxxy, so it chuckled at its own hyperbolic metaphor. It then let out a slightly disappointed sigh. This simply would not do. The Dragon Festival could potentially deposit the Shattered Isles at the bottom of the ocean, so it was important to be prepared for that eventuality. It certainly couldn’t have one of its minions acting in such a helpless manner because of her elemental weakness. And it didn’t want to just leave her behind, either. If Jen wasn’t going to help it crush some cocky VIPs during the Festival, then what would’ve been the point of recruiting her in the first place?

Okay, yes, corrupting one of Edward’s trusted inner circle had a sick sort of satisfaction to it, but that hadn’t been the goal of Jen’s monsterfication, just a tasty bonus. With that in mind it fished the floundering feathered female out and flopped her onto the floor. It took her high-end diving gear away and, after discussing exactly why and how she was struggling, came up with a solution.

“I’ll loan you an Artifact,” it declared.

“An Artifact?” Jen repeated inquisitively. “Just like that?”

“Yes. I actually plan to equip all of you with suitable items from my Artifact collection during the Dragon Festival to maximize your performance. Not all of the relics I have are useful, but a good number of them should be. I even have some set aside for Ambrosia.”

“The dryad? I thought she couldn’t leave this tree.”

“She’ll be there. Well, not personally, and for only about a week, but she’ll be there.”

The tree spirit had heard of, but never experienced the Shattered Isles before, so it hadn’t been too difficult to convince her to attend via her remotely-controlled spriggan body.

“Anyway, as I was saying, I have one that should help you with your water problems,” it got back on topic. “It’s called the Hide of the Great Yellow Beast. It’s a full-body diving suit that works better than all that other stuff combined. It also keeps your body completely dry, which should protect you from any adverse reactions your body might have to being submerged.”

Jen took a breath to say something, but managed to just barely keep herself from uttering a single syllable more. The icy spider-girl had warned the ‘newbie’ to be very careful with her words around the shapeshifter whenever it was in such a good mood. Things like predictable responses, dumb questions, or snarky remarks were especially likely to trigger some kind of response that only Boxxy would find amusing. Not that Jen had the intention of getting cheeky with her new boss, but recognized the remark she had nearly made as both obvious and stupid, and decided to just bite her tongue.

This had been a wise decision on the harpy’s part, as her question of ‘Why didn’t you mention this Artifact earlier?’ would have been answered with a gleeful ‘Because you didn’t axe.’ She would then have gotten axed in the gut. Not enough to kill her, of course. Even if Boxxy’s ‘pranks’ were violent, it had enough restraint to not take things too far for the sake of a bad pun. The wound it would have inflicted on Jen would’ve been non-lethal and non-crippling, if only barely.

After a few seconds of silence, Boxxy realized the harpy was refusing to play along with its terrible joke and gave up on it.

“Alright, everyone pack it up,” it announced loudly. “We’re headed out.”

The dungeon-spawned oversized fish bowl was smashed open, Lavender was told to clean up the mess, and the group immediately departed. One might have argued that splashing around for a few minutes was hardly enough practice to prepare one to explore the ocean’s depths, and they would’ve been right. However, Boxxy felt confident that its group was adaptable enough to manage and was eager to get its tentacles on some ancient weaponry of vaguely-defined power.

The trip began with the entire group being transported to the southern reaches of the Lodrak Empire through the shapeshifter’s dungeon network. They then started making their way south through the wilderness at a leisurely brisk pace. Boxxy could’ve chain teleported everyone, but had decided on a whim that this was a great night to take a walk. It still had a secret identity to protect though, so it made sure to don its Sandman persona during the trip. Jen and the familiars were made to keep it company, but Fizzy had insisted she remain inside its Storage as much as possible. Apparently the airless, weightless, and lightless nature of that pocket dimension had been perfect to help her put the finishing touches on her new invention.

In actuality, though the golem’s words had some truth to them, they had ultimately been nothing more than an excuse to avoid the shenanigans that a happy Boxxy could get up to.

Something the others hadn’t been able to avoid. Fortunately for them, the shapeshifter had spent the first few hours just walking along and loudly humming some random tune. It then got a bit bored and decided to entertain itself by abusing its new favorite punching bag. A long, thick, tail-like tentacle crept out from beneath the Sandman’s cloak and wrapped itself around Kora’s ankle. The hoarder failed to notice this until she felt it pull her leg out from under her, causing her to fall forward. She managed to hold her arms out before she hit the ground, easily avoiding what would’ve been an unpleasant faceplant.

Boxxy then spun Kora around by her leg like an armored towel, making a few sweeping circles around itself that forced or batted its other minions away.

“YEET!”

It then made a questionable noise as it flung the demon through the air with all of its considerable might.

“FFFUUUUUUUUUUUuuuuu-!”

Kora’s voice trailed off as she sailed through the starlit sky. Okay, maybe ‘sailed’ was too graceful a word. It was far more accurate to say she spun around uncontrollably. Boxxy kept a watchful eye on her until she disappeared over the treeline. Several tense seconds passed before the shapeshifter’s refined senses picked up the distinct din of something big and stupid crashing into something big and solid. This was followed shortly afterwards by a particularly impressive string of profanity. Boxxy then turned to its captive audience and threw up a ‘V’ sign with an armored hand.

“363 meters, a new record!” it declared triumphantly.

“Congratulations, Master,” Xera responded without skipping a beat.

“Thanks,” it replied in good humor. “Now let’s go see what sort of damage Arms did when she landed.”

It then threw open a Gate to the crash site, prompting everyone to follow through. Kora was revealed to have smacked butt-first into a large moss-covered boulder that had been reduced to pebbles by the impact. The demon herself had been largely unscathed, though. It took a lot more than regular gravity to seriously injure her. Her colorful language from earlier had been mostly due to the frustration, as she had realized exactly what her selfish master was doing.

And indeed, much as she’d feared, she was almost immediately launched through the air once again, her master watching gleefully as her many limbs thrashed around uncontrollably while she ‘flew.’ The second attempt had been a few meters short of the previous, but the third, fourth, and fifth got progressively better. The sixth one had seen Boxxy hurl Kora over the four hundred meter mark, causing it to grab Xera and piledriver her into the ground in celebration. She didn’t get to enjoy it much since the violent maneuver had instantly snapped her neck, but she was still grinning happily when she was resummoned moments later.

It was just as Boxxy was getting ready for the seventh throw that Jen finally dared to ask the obvious question.

“What’s going on?”

She had whispered this to Drea since she was the familiar the harpy got along with the most.

“It’s a game that Master invented,” the stalker answered. “It’s called the, tktktktktk, Idiot Toss. I’m sure you can figure out the details from that.”

Indeed, the goal of this activity had been fairly obvious even without hearing the slightly amusing and highly unimaginative name. However, the harpy had difficulty believing that someone as devious and scheming as Boxxy would do something so pointlessly frivolous, so she shared her concerns with Drea.

“It’s not entirely pointless. Master says it helps to, tktktktk, accurately gauge its strength and reconfigure its muscle structure. It’s also really good at Idiot Toss. I’ve seen it, tktktk, hit a moving carriage from three hundred meters away.”

“I see.”

Jen had to admit, as far as physical exercise went, repeatedly hurling a half-ton projectile through the air certainly seemed challenging enough. As for why Boxxy used Kora, it was probably because she was the most rock-like of its familiars. Not only was she unable to soften her fall or alter her trajectory, but she was also durable enough to withstand repeated high-velocity impacts with the ground. Not to mention that, in Jen’s personal experience, there was something deeply satisfying about using her immense strength to chuck massive objects around.

Hence why, once Boxxy had finished performing its next throw, the griffin-harpy stepped forward.

“Oof, just short of four hundred meters,” it reported, then turned to face her. “What is it, Jen?”

“This Idiot Toss seems like fun. May I give it a try?”

She doubted whether her legs and arms could even compete with the shapeshifter’s malleable physiology, but she felt confident she could catapult Kora at least a hundred meters away.

“Sure!”

Boxxy gave her a thumbs up, grabbed her by the ankle with its tail-tentacle, then hurled her in the same direction as Kora with another yell of ‘yeet.’ It watched with marked amusement as the harpy tumbled through the air in a mess of feathers and blank-faced confusion. This obviously hadn’t been what she meant when she wanted to take part in the Idiot Toss, but the mischievous monster had maliciously misinterpreted her words anyway. Jen no doubt realized her own stupidity as she let herself be tossed like the idiot that she had been, landing much shorter of where Kora had made impact.

“What, only two hundred and fifteen meters?” Boxxy grumbled. “I guess those wings aren’t very aerodynamic when they’re flopping around like that.”

As for Xera and Drea, they just stared in slack-jawed disbelief, which was aimed at the harpy’s apparent obliviousness rather than their master’s behavior.

“Oh well, I’m sure she’ll get used to being thrown right in due time,” the shapeshifter declared triumphantly.

It was just about to start calculating the spatial coordinates needed to open up a Gate to Jen’s position when Claws’s head suddenly snapped backwards.

“Master, we have company approaching from the east,” she gave a telepathic warning.

The doppelganger and its familiars immediately went on high alert, with the djinn and the webstalker hiding themselves from sight with their respective Invisibility and Clear Ice Skills. While it seemed reasonable that all that noise its Idiot Toss would create was bound to attract attention, this had still been unexpected. Its current position had been at least twenty kilometers from the Imperial highway, and even further away from any major settlements. There might have been a camp or village nearby, but nobody in their right mind would go towards something that was making thunderous impacts, especially in the middle of the night.

Yet someone had most definitely emerged from the treeline. Well, not so much ‘emerged from’ as ‘leaped over,’ but that was besides the point. The stranger landed about twenty paces in front of the group, revealing themselves to be a rather peculiar woman. She had crimson red eyes, pale white skin, waist-length black hair, was wearing a long fur coat, and had an expensive-looking set of silver-trimmed black armor decorated with glowing red jewels. She also had an air of domineering malice around her that was thick enough to give even Boxxy pause.

The woman, whose name Boxxy’s pilfered Hero Skill revealed to be Arisha Nightriver, drew her beautiful rapier and pointed it squarely at the massive cloaked figure in front of her.

“You there!” she called out in a loud voice booming with authority and confidence. “You are the mercenary known as ‘The Sandman,’ are you not?!”

It was at this moment that Boxxy got the distinct impression that the universe had conspired to make this meeting happen regardless of its actions.

Well, either that or it had simply gotten a bit too careless with its frivolous activities, but it liked the sound of that other thing better since it made it seem like this thing was someone else’s fault.

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A note from Exterminatus
Idiot Toss doodle, by dmaxcustom

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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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Moridain @Moridain ago

That image. Seriously, if this system allowed people to lose int points for stupidity she would be pretty low by this point.

Kurotsubaki @Kurotsubaki ago

That was fast, i thought that Arisha will come to the city first

charchomp @charchomp ago

I wonder how Arisha found boxxy so fast, considering it isn't even near Azurevale right now. Also by the looks of it they will end up fighting but who knows how it will end...