Categories > Original > Fantasy

A Wolf in sheep's clothing

by Goreleech 0 reviews

A ward of the state in foster care is summoned to another world with his school and his services team...that seems like a GREAT idea.

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst,Fantasy - Warnings: [V] [X] [R] - Published: 2021-11-20 - 117402 words

DAY 1.

"wake up, Tyler! Hurry up too!"
"I'm up Michelle."
The boy was already moving as the creaky voice of his foster mother was heard. He had his towel loaded up with his shower gear and was in the said shower in thirty seconds and out again in an extra 9 minutes. The tall boy looked at his reflection in the mirror as he dressed, sighing at his 5 foot 9 inch, 150 pound soaking wet frame. His hair was brown like his eyes and cut short. He pulled his hoody on over his pasty white skin and was out the door of the small trailer style house he lived in with his foster mother, nearly tripping over one of her many cats that always chose to lay in the center of the 2 and a half foot wide floor that Tyler barely fit in at the best of times. He had to dance around the mound of fur,
"Did you just kick him?!"
Tyler grumbled as his skeletal foster mother came in howling as her cat just laid there.
"No. I nearly stepped on him. Tight spaces, ME, and that roadblock don't mix."
"Abusing my cats AGAIN? That's it. I'm talking to Sherry at the meeting today. YOU need more therapy if you're hurting animals."
The boy just sighed and grabbed his backpack.
"Let me search that thing. NO cards. You're going to school to LEARN. not play."
"I'll miss the bus if you do."
"Shoulda gotten up earlier."
The boy just walked away and pulled his boots on, WITHOUT handing his bag over. Then he walked out the door,
"Don't expect your toys to be in your room when you get back! You WILL stop defying me."
Again he just walked to the end of her driveway where the bus was JUST pulling up. He was in his usual spot at the back and more or less ignored by all as he did so. The trip taking 30 minutes which he spent dozing. He'd been sent to a group home after an incident with his sister three years prior and had only gotten out of the home 7 months ago to be placed in Michelle's foster home. At first he'd been guardedly eager to escape the day to day chaos of the group home for the peace of the older woman's home. That died once he saw how she truly was and he was now stuck. Michelle only saw her way of doing things and living. Any others were wrong and therefore needed correction. Tyler had tried to follow her strict ways, but nothing he did made an impact. He'd score a 99 out of a 100 on a test, she'd make him study more, saying always improve. He'd help someone with their schoolwork during a project, she'd say it's the teacher's job to teach. He'd make friends, she'd yell saying it was SCHOOL. NOT a playground. So after two months of this, he'd just stopped trying to make her happy and did his own thing. Something she just could not fathom as in her self-righteous mind, he was just a 15 year old kid. The hell does he know? Tyler sighed as the bus pulled into the school lot and he hopped off. Then he went for the single poptart and milk carton that would hold him until lunch. he'd lost close to 50 pounds at her house, saying 150 pounds was a healthy enough weight for a guy his size. in truth? he was skin and bone with a gaunt face. He'd gotten yelled at harshly for buying a cookie at the school cafeteria as since his meals were paid for, he shouldn't be so greedy as to ask for more. the fact he MADE the money himself meaning nothing. Fed, somewhat, he went to his classroom as his foster mother had sabotaged ALL his attempted friendships by showing up to the school during a lunch period because she had to sign some paper, only to find him chatting with a group of three other kids. They all played the same card game and he was teaching them tricks and showing off his own collection. The ensuing lecture on school NOT being for fun convinced the three to avoid him entirely, as she'd gone the extra mile to call their parents and warn them on their kids 'improper' school behavior. The fact TWO were on the honor roll and the third on the student council again not mattering. So Tyler had lost three friends before he'd even made them and not a kid in the school would go near him willingly for fear the 'crazy' lady would go after them too. Tyler took his seat in the class and the teacher sighed.
"On time as always."
"Hey Frank."
"You could at least try to talk to them."
"Look what happened last time."
The man sighed.
"She can't see you here, Tyler."
"Last time I thought that? Well. I was alone on a trail in the woods, and had to take a leak. I get back and she went off on me for pissing in the woods. So yeah. Not worth it."
The teacher blinked at that one.
"How the hell did she know about that?"
"She asked a friend of hers to follow me."
"that is just not right."
"I'm used to it. And I need to focus. She can hear me."
The teacher watched sadly as Tyler pulled the textbook out and studied rather the relax at all. If that were anyone else, I'd call them a good student. He doesn't even have the option. The class came and went and Tyler was sitting in the marine bio class looking at that class's textbook when the bell rang for an assembly. The tall boy followed everyone to the movie theater like auditorium and claimed a seat at the highest level with a view of the entire room as the rest of the school filtered in with the school staff. Tyler's razor sharp eyes picking out his foster mother, his school case manager Kelly, his therapist Helan, his CASA worker Greg, his Easter seals case manager Sherry, and behaviorist Sarah. Kelly was a tall blonde woman in her late 40s that just went with whatever his domineering foster mother said. Helan was a medium height brunette that was always on Michelle's side as Tyler had been labeled a oppositional defiant boy. Greg was an older man with a limp from an accident that tried to help the boy, but folded as soon as anyone else showed resistance. Sherry was a larger woman with black hair that just saw Tyler as another broken boy that needed fixing and no real idea on how to think for himself. Sarah was a fat woman with matted brown hair and tattoos that was just around to twist anything Tyler said or did around to support the rules Michelle purposed. Now seeing them Tyler just sighed and was happy ALL the seats around him were filled so they couldn't take them. The assembly started and Tyler paid half attention as it didn't really have anything to do with him as it was merely one of the school forums where students could voice concerns or grievances against the school. He had no clue why they did them, but didn't really care as he saw it as a way to get out of class. The tall boy stretched at one point and noticed his team glaring at him in mild irritation, and he tilted his head curiously, as if to say what? His foster mother then pointed to a set of empty seats with room for them to sit together. He blinked and she gestured from his eat, where they couldn't sit by him, to the row at the base of the stack, where they could, indicating she wanted him to move. yet in order to do so, he'd have to make every other kid in the row stand up to allow for such a movement. Tyler just sighed and tapped his watch, indicating wait. That one made her glare at him in anger and she seemed about to start yelling,
"Frank, what's that behind you?"
A girl at the mic asked the question and Tyler looked to see a large circle floating behind the man. The thing was glowing a neon blue with rotating rings around the rim and had strange writing along perfectly straight lines to the center that was also rotating, but in the opposite direction. Tyler tilted his head as the room thought it was part of last night's play that had yet to be put away.
The boy's tenor of a voice was full of curiosity as Frank looked at it.
"I've no clue what this is Sally. It's not from the play last night."
Tyler was running through his archive of weirdness and blinked. That's not a magic circle is it? No way. The thing blinked and started rotating faster as more appeared around the walls of the auditorium. Tyler sighed as the glow got brighter and brighter.
"I'm on the highway to hell."
The glow flashed and they were blinded for a moment before finding themselves seated on a red carpet inside a grand hall with three tiers of balconies packed solid with gawking people in a variety of silken gowns and tunics and some were even in plate armor. Tyler then looked ahead to where two people were sitting on thrones with two younger people on either side of them. One was a tall man with red hair and yellow eyes clad in a flame colored robes and a golden crown on his brow. beside him sat a beautiful woman with flame colored hair, pale skin and a large rack that caught his eye on sight. Her eyes were ice blue and her gown was also the color of fire while on her head sat a crown of gold. beside her sat a girl of his age with the same ice blue eyes, flame hair, and large bust of her mother. She was also wearing a flaming gown with a crown while on the man's left sat a boy that was just a miniature him. Tyler looked back to the girl and she caught him looking at her. She smiled nervously with just a HINT of a shy blush. Oh that was cute as HELL! Then he noticed an older man holding a scepter in a golden scale robe standing off to the right of the sure-to-be royal family that had all the airs of a religious official. Tyler sighed as the rest of the group were on the verge of a panic when the man with the scepter stepped forward.
"welcome brave Heroes, to the world of Drula. I am High Priest Skao Windcaller. The head of the Lights Church. Allow me to present the Royal family. Presenting King Emberis Vargest's bane. The ruler of the country of Drala."
The red haired man smiled as he eyed the nervous group.
"It seems we got a decent crop this time. This is good fortune."
The man's voice was a low boom that made Tyler smirk, before the High Priest gestured to the woman.
"Presenting High Queen Iris Flamecaller. She of the fire hair and flare temper."
Tyler chuckled as the beautiful fire haired woman beside the king looked them over.|
"Hmm. One or two of interest. How sad. I'd HOPED they'd be better looking."
Tyler winced at that one. Ouch. I LIKE her! He looked back and saw the Queen smirking at HIM of all people, and he gulped.
"Oh shit."
His purely a reflex reaction got a laugh from the room as the Queen smiled.
"Oh dear. How interesting."
"Is that a grave plot in just my size I hear getting dug?"
That got a laugh from the room again as Iris smiled wider.
"You know. Good mindset. Now I'm curious."
Tyler chuckled now.
"So am I."
The King sighed.
"Less i know the better."
The room laughed at his resigned tone as the also smiling pope gestured to the boy next.
"Allow me to introduce the crown prince, Spark Firesson."
The boy stood and bowed before smiling.
"We look forward to your feats Heroes."
Then the pope gestured to the girl last and Tyler noticed she was looking at HIM most fixedly.
"And last is the Crown princess Rose Scarlet. She of the warm heart and soul."
The princess stood and got a few gasps as they got a good look at her. She smiled sweetly,
"welcome to Druala Heroes. I thank you for your assistance."
She looked over at Tyler again as her warm bell tone of a voice rang out. Tyler smiled kindly and she blushed again. I am in SOOOOO much trouble. The Queen smirked.
"Beware the princess you eager boys. She is NOT a prize."
Tyler gulped again as she looked right at HIM.
"I'm a dead man."
The natives laughed at that one as the Queen's smirk widened.
The King sighed.
"Can we move on please?"
The room chuckled as Tyler refocused. Okay. Step 1. The King stood to his 6 feet of height to face the group.
"On the reason why you are here. This reason is simple. You're the Heroes that will deliver us from the waves of monsters that attack us every 45 days."
Tyler nodded. That's my que. The King gestured to a small podium before them.
"If you have questions please take the podium."
Tyler made his way as the others were reeling from the revelation of fighting monsters. The boy reached the thing,
"Get off that. YOU need to process this with us."
Tyler looked over to see his team moving forward and sighed.
"I got this."
He took the stand and it blinked as the King smiled.
"State your name, Hero."
"I am called Tyler, Sire. And I know it sucks."
He chuckled.
"It does. Your questions?"
"Okay. We'll start at the beginning. The waves. What exactly are we walking into here?"
The High priest answered as his team glared at the boy for not listening.
"They are what they seem. Waves of monsters that will attack in 45 days."
Tyler frowned.
"Okay. let me ask this a different way, what about the wave monsters make them so you need US to fight them for you?"
The King smiled again.
"I see now. They are far stronger then the usual breeds of monsters you will encounter in your travels."
"Okay. So take away the Hero crap, what about US makes us special when compared with the average runner?"
"Wise question lad. These will answer that Question before the in-depth explanation."
The King snapped a finger and a group of maids walked out carrying plates loaded with small cards the size of a driver's license and handed them to each Hero. Tyler smiling as his glowed a neon blue before displaying an empty window. Once everyone had one the King nodded.
"See the small spike above the screen? Poke it and it will display your stats window."
Tyler did as requested and chuckled as it took a small drop fo blood from his thumb before going from blank to filling in with skills. The King explained as they finished.
"What makes you special are your base stats and the growth rate you all possess. You hold immense power inside you that most find difficult to reach in a hundred lifetimes. These cards are called Licenses and detail your stats as listed. As well as any spells, abilities, titles, and kills you make. Take a moment to look at your stats please, as they determine your base strength."
Tyler went right for the numbers.
"Let's see. Strength: 50, Defense; 150, Agility: 65, Speed: 50, stamina: 100, Magic: 55. dexterity: 50. Wow. Allrounder. Not too bad."
He next went to abilities, and laughed.
"Hero's Plug. prevents pregnancy and STD. What the hell happened they had to make that a default ability?"
The room and heroes snorted at that one as Tyler looked back at the King.
"Alright. Let me ask this. Are we stuck here until we beat the waves?"
The King sighed.
"You are. and if you refuse to fight the waves, your power inside you will explode and kill you. when the waves pass you may elect to go home or stay here."
"I'm staying. Period."
That got a chuckle as Tyler moved to the next step.
"are we allowed to travel together?"
That one made his team blink. Sherry reacting first.
"At last. A legitimate question."
The King smiled.
"You are. And it is encouraged as there be many dangers in the wilds."
Tyler frowned.
"Won't the presence of heroes together draw monsters to them?"
That got a chuckle.
"I see you're a cautious one. This is good. Monsters are NOT drawn to the heroes as you worry they are."
"Alright. What about parties?"
"Hire as you see fit. Just don't bite off more then you can chew. On the morrow the finest in the kingdom will arrive for you to choose3 from."
Tyler crossed his arms now.
"Hmm. Currency?"
The King smiled again.
"The currency of the realm of Dragoons. Bring them."
A line of men came in carrying chests that weres et down before the group and Emberis pulled a pouch from the piles inside and tossed it to Tyler.
"That holds 150,000 dragoons. Inside are 500 to start. A night, meal, and bed mate at the local tavern runs 150 dragoons, so plan wisely."
Tyler nodded as he looked at the leather pouch.
"The fun part. Bring the equipment, please."
A wall of racks loaded with swords, knives, axes, staffs, spears and maces were rolled into view with a set of tables that had little pieces of paper and various armors laid out on them. The king gestured to the equipment.
"Choose wisely as weapons, armor, skills and spells are most costly. ONE skill OR spell per person. Weapons and armor are to be split per person. Tyler. You first."
The boy walked to the armor first and looked the plate mail over as his team walked over. Helan pointing to a suit of plate mail.
"That will protect you best. Take it."
Tyler frowned, still weighing options.
"Platemail IS good for protection, but at the same time weighs a lot more then you think. And slows you down the more. Plus that's made from heavy steel, and so weighs that much more. I'd like to keep my mobility if possible."
A knight by the table smiled.
"You think ahead. Good on ya. Perhaps chainmail would suffice, lord hero?"
The boy looked at the various shirts of ringed mail, and smiled.
"Actually, that works perfectly. Plus is easily concealed too. Thanks, Sir Knight."
Tyler found a shirt in his size, and his foster mother frowned.
"Helan said take the platemail. Take the plate. Do not fight us on this."
"You people have no idea what you're talking about. I'm taking the chainmail."
The King nodded.
"Granted. And very wily."
Tyler took his shirts off,
"Hey! No! There's women present!"
Tyler smirked as he pulled the chainmail on as Sarah next exploded. The mail tickling as he did a few motions for movement tests.
The boy pulled his shirts back on and smiled as the mail was hidden entirely, getting an approving chuckle from the king.
"Clever. YOU know what you're doing."
"Barely. Okay. next piece."
The boy walked to a set of greaves and bracers he strapped UNDER his pant legs, and this time Michelle ranted.
"I don't know what you're playing at, Tyler. But you are to stop taking things without talking to us right now. Keep it up and no dinner for you tonight."
The King busted up laughing at this ultimatum, and she looked at him confused.
"what's so funny/""
HE smiled at the controlling woman.
"You are to address me as your highness, Sire, or likewise like that boy has been doing. YOU could learn a thing or two about proper respect from him. And as for your punishment? I determine if he gets fed or not in MY palace. NOT you."
Tyler pulled his pant legs over the bracers and smiled at the result.
"Nice. They'll have no clue. Okay. Pack next."
Michelle recovered from the King's assertion,
"He's MY foster kid. He's to listen to us. And he doesn't know what proper respect is."
The King snorted at that.
"Yes Sire?"
The boy looked over as he was looking at large packs. The King nodded at the woman.
"HE knows how to address a king. Something YOU need lessons in. You're good, lad. needed to prove a point."
"Ah. well have fun. Oh. Do packs come enchanted?"
He tilted his head.
"In what manner?"
"In say increased capacity with a minimal weight increase when full."
"I see. Those are fairly common actually. These are NOT enchanted."
"That'd be too easy."
The teenager took a medium pack and slung it over his shoulders before Greg frowned.
"Explain your choice. We need to evaluate your thought process."
Tyler sighed.
"I'm testing reach, overall carrying capacity and ease of carry. This one fits."
The man blinked.
"Is that all?"
"All I need to know. Next up is the fun part."
He walked over to the weapons and the entire team balked.
"You are NOT touching those."
Tyler ignored them and was walking along the racks, weighing various options aloud.
"Hmm. That saber's nice, but not exactly my style. I hate spears, sword and shield? Nah. That combo never did feel right. Oh here we go."
The boy had spotted a set of longswords 4 feet long and took one down for swing tests. the blade he'd taken being 4 feet long with a one handed grip and straight bladed. He took a stance from a show he'd seen and did a practice swing, and smiled as he heard the whistle and felt the weight.
"Nice. I can work with this. Sire. I can't take TWO can I?"
He chuckled.
"Sadly not, hero. You may choose a bow and knives next however."
"Makes sense."
Tyler looked at the available longswords and did a few more tests before settling on one with a thinner tip for vicious stabs. He'd just strapped it over his right shoulder when Greg came over in angry with the other behind him.
"Give me that. NOW. You don't even know how to hold that thing."
Tyler spotted a belt of seven 7 inch knives and strapped them across his chest before frowning at the feel.
"Belt it is."
That was when the man tried to grab the things.
"That's it. YOU are NOT handling weapons."
Tyler stepped back and the man grabbed his arm as the women went for his knives and sword,
"Fuck it!"
The now angry boy drew a knife from the belt and they backed off and the sword was next to be drawn. The boy glaring daggers at them as he spoke.
"I am not getting killed cause a you. Back the fuck off, or lose limbs. Make a call."
Emberis laughed.
"I deem this fair. if they push you, lad, do as you need."
"Thanks, Sire. They need to learn this lesson or it'll get worse."
The team tried reasoning with the, in their minds, acting out teenager with knives. Helan doing the talking.
"Give us those they're not toys. You don't want to do this, Tyler. If you attack us like this what kinda man would that make you?"
"A survivor. Lady. We have to FIGHT. Okay? Fight. Against monsters. I am not getting killed because a you. I have far more bigger thinks to worry about then a group of barking dogs with no fangs."
The boy twirled the sword and sheathed it over his back as he tightened the belted knives around his waist, and moved to the rack that had the bows. The knife was sheathed and Helan sighed.
"You're not fighting either."
"That's not your call. I've made my choice."
He took one bow down and tested the draw,
"nice. Right where it should be."
He took a quiver of arrows off a rack and moved to the skills as the behaviorist sighed.
"You're not capable of making a choice like that Tyler. And we ARE going with you."
"No the fuck you are not. I'm getting my party, and getting the fuck outta here. You all will die in your first dungeon. Accept it. You have no control over me here."
The boy frowned.
"You said ONE skill or spell, Sire?"
The king nodded.
"I did. Choose wisely."
The boy frowned now.
"Hmmm. What will serve me....the classic."
He picked up a healing spell, and the King smiled.
"Wise indeed. To cast magic, merely will it into being. Your mana is directly tied to your stamina."
Tyler looked at the title.
"Healing touch. Closes cuts up to 4 inches long and sets dislocated joints. Upgrades through use. Not much, but any healing is better then nothing. Okay. Next up is camping gear."
He placed the spell on his License, and Helan went to snatch the spell,
"You did not think that through! Give it here. WE'LL make the right choice."
Tyler just sidestepped and the spell was added to his list.
"Too late. And I know what the fuck I'm doing. Do you?"
She snapped at him.
"Watch you language! and YES we DO!"
"Prove it. YOU pick your gear. All I need is a decent camping set. Go on. Put your dragoons where your mouth is."
She glared at him as he went to the tables for camping gear and began loading up.
"Fine. You asked for this."
Tyler was looking at a map as the therapist went to the table of armor and took a suit of platemail from it, prompting laughter from the more experienced knights as the armor's weight nearly threw out her back when she took it off the table. Tyler smiled as he slotted the map into an easily reached pouch in his pack as Helan panted.
"Why is this is so heavy?"
Tyler chuckled.
"Lady. there's close to 50 pounds of steel in that thing. NOT including the iron, copper and other metals used in the forging process to add strength and that color. Here's a pro tip. LOOK around you. What are the knights wearing? And the frames involved?"
She glared at him as the spindly woman fought to get the armor back onto the table.
"Don't patronize me. And how do YOU know that?"
"Ya know what? I tried. Go on."
The boy put a tent, bedroll, and other basic camping gear into his pack before walked over to a spot he could see the therapist try to lift different types of heavy armor, only to nearly cripple herself under the weight. Tyler smiled as he drew the longsword and did a few more practice swings with it to better understand his new best friend as Helan lifted a shirt of chainmail, and blinked.
"What the? It's light as a feather."
Tyler smirked.
"and yet will deflect arrows easily enough, and some badly aimed sword strokes too."
She sighed.
"Stop acting like you know better, Tyler! let me make my own choice!"
The King, along with all in attendance busted up laughing at her irritated response. She blinked.
"And what is so funny about that? He needs to know to not interrupt people."
Iris snorted.
"No wonder he doesn't listen to you. You did the exact same thing to him not ten minutes ago, and to a far more infuriating degree mind you. Yet all he's offered you, is insight."
The therapist blinked.
"HE needs help making important decisions. It's part of his diagnosis. I don't."
The Queen looked to the boy,
"I am not familiar."
He shrugged.
"In our old, if you get a diagnosis, you get a label. and it's given out to those that cause problems for society. Once you get the label that's it. Your opinion doesn't matter."
Michelle frowned.
"You raped your sister!"
"I did NOT!"
The room was horrified by this accusation, but were utterly taken aback by the fury in his denial and the anger in his eyes now. The King blinked.
"I sense an issue. Skao. A trial."
The high priest stepped forward and presented his staff to Tyler.
"Place you hand on the staff, the color it turns will indicate truth. it's opposite is lie."
Tyler gripped the staff and it turned a neon blue that was mildly blinding to look into directly. The King looked the boy in the eye.
"Did you rape your sister? Yes or-"
"NO. I did NOT. SHE lied."
The staff's neon blue color brightened to an extreme and the King nodded.
"There is NO denying that. You are absolved of the charge."
Tyler sighed with such relief it seemed he deflated. Then Michelle sighed.
"Yet her injuries were evident. Tyler's a great liar. So it doesn't surprise me he got around that."
The King laughed.
"That's the thing. it CAN'T be gotten around. Not even a god can get around a King's Trial. It's one of the Divine Spells, in that a deity of truth views the ACTUAL events as they played out in their entirety related to the question asked. Tyler did NOT lie. that blinding color alone is proof to that."
The foster mother sighed.
"we know the truth. We've seen the documents and heard the sister's testimony."
Tyler shrugged.
"I've been proven innocent here. Sooo, that's it."
Emberis nodded.
"Indeed it is. Tyler is NOT guilty of the crime. Take your place lad."
Tyler stood by the podium and waited for the team to gather their own equipment, and fighting to NOT burst out laughing as they all encountered the same problems as Helan. The therapist having chosen a shield and axe for her weapons. That one made him blinked.
"Yikes that's a nasty combo."
The King nodded.
"Indeed. Too bad she doesn't know how to use it."
"Not even a little. She'd a been better off with a bow and saber."
Michelle took a staff and small mace for her weapons with chainmail and some shoulder guards. The boy shrugged.
"Eh. Long as she picked that based off her stats, not bad."
next was Greg. he having taken a breastplate, shortsword and a round shield. Tyler smirked.
"Spartans. never a bad way to go. if ya got it down."
Sarah had a harder time as NO armor fit her. So she had to make do with greaves, bracers and some shoulder guards. Her weapon was a spear. That made him smirk.
Up next was Sherry, and she picked chainmail, a shortsword and buckler shield. Tyler tilted his head at that setup.
"There's a rare mix."
The king nodded.
"Very rare."
The team then approached Tyler and looked at him with Helan asking the question with a condescending tone as the rest of the group all got to picking equipment,
"NOW do you believe us?"
She sighed.
"I got the spell fireball."
He tilted his head.
"Hmm. Not a bad way to go really. You can make a fire with that and so won't have to worry about cold or damp wood at least."
Sherry smirked.
"I got the skill track. Helps me find animals."
"I saw that too. but I needed the counterpart skill of Skin to make the best use of it."
She frowned.
"What the do you mean by counterpart?"
"Can you skin a deer already? I can't."
Michelle sighed.
"I took a waterbolt spell. and watch how you speak to us."
Tyler looked at the King.
"The water conjured, Sire. Can it be drank?"
"It can. And is among the most pure out there. The spells are rare too."
He blinked,
"Fuck. Alright. I shoulda asked that earlier."
He rubbed his eyes in exasperation as Michelle smirked.
"See why you need to listen to us? We-":
"If I had been able to THINK I'd have come up with it myself. Be amazed what you can do when you're not fighting to ignore a bunch of braying hyenas. Next."
Greg sighed.
"I picked the spell haste. It boosts movement speed."
"Hmm. Not a bad idea there."
Sarah smirked as well.
"I got the weapon skill pierce. Doubles penetration power of a spear for one jab."
"Now that makes sense for you. Someone like you needs all the help you can get."
She glared at him.
"Watch how you speak! hand over that knife for that."
"No. I already told you, you have no control over me. and as far as your gear goes? Solid B for rookies. I sure HOPE you can kill."
That one made them blink as the group finished up selecting equipment. Tyler took a spot in the front and the King smiled.
"I hope you chose wisely. Now. Ladies."
The line of maids walked in again and one maid approached each Hero. Tyler finding a tall woman with green hair across from him with tipped ears and a large rack. She smiled as she bowed, adding a bounce factor.
"Greetings my Lord. I am called Erice. i am to be your personal maid tonight."
Tyler smiled.
"Nice to meet you Erice. Please, call me Tyler."
She smiled with a light in her green eyes.
"Then I shall, Tyler. Now. The feast is this way."
"Nice to see a lady that gets it!"
She laughed, and so did the rest of the room as he followed the elven woman down a set of stairs with the rest of the heroes behind them. They left the staircase and walked into a grand dining hall lit up with many fireplaces and torches. The elven lady gestured to a seat by one such fireplace and he smiled as the hungry boy sat down.
"If you have need, Tyler, use this."
She passed him a small bell and he chuckled.
"If I need you I'll give a ring."
That made her blush just enough to be noticed and the elven maid left to stand by. The tables filled quickly, and Tyler laughed as he saw the team have no choice but to sit on the OPPOSITE side of the room in clear view of him as the rest of the seats around him were already claimed. Then the efficient staff wheeled in trolleys loaded with platters, trays, and covered plates before loading the tables up high. Tyler breathing a sigh of relief as a certain red condiment was placed in front of him.
"Oh thank god."
That got a chuckle from the people around him as the feast started soon as the last tray was placed. Tyler snagging a large slab of some type of dark meat, some rolls, a bottle of the red stuff, and a pitcher of ale he filled a mug with. He dug in and chuckled at the horrified looks on his team's faces as he threw the mug of ale back.
"Hey what kinda meat is this? It tastes like chicken, but looks like beef."
Tyler shrugged as he looked at the girl beside him.
"No clue. maybe some kinda dragonkin. Seems the kinda thing a royal feast would have."
"Makes sense. Hey, how's the ale?"
"It's like coffee but with the bubbles of a soda. It's pretty good actually."
"Really? Huh."
The boy fed well on meat, ale, and whatever else was in easy reach until his foster mother had enough of his gorging. She getting up to march right over and he sighed as she reached him.
"You've eaten enough. and what the hell to you think you're doing? that's ale. You're 15."
Tyler just ignored her as he was still hungry. So, ha reached for another roll, and she slapped his hand.
"I said enough!"
Tyler got up now and she glared up at him.
"And where do you think you're going?"
"That's none of your business. Leave. me. ALONE."
She snorted,
"Not until you start making proper decisions like a young man should. Come on. You're in my room tonight. God knows I can't leave you alone."
He sat back down and grabbed another steak of some meat and blinked as he dug in.
"You don't think this is wyvern, do you?"
Michelle tried to snatch the plate away, but he grabbed her wrist, and glared at her.
"Go. Away."
She tugged on her hand,
"Let me go! You're already in enough trouble!"
He rang the bell and Erice appeared like magic.
"She is bothering me."
"I thought she would."
The elf snapped her fingers and Michelle found she couldn't move,
"I can't move! what is this?"
Tyler let her go and looked at Erice quizzically.
"Chantless magic?"
"Indeed, Tyler. Elves do not require to speak the name of the spell we wish to cast. It's our racial ability."
"Nasty. Paralysis?"
"Not so extreme. This is a type of petrify. it renders afflicted targets unable to move, this is true, but freezes them in that pose. Paralyze allows the bodies to be moved."
"Yikes. Thanks Erice."
She smiled as the ranting woman was put back across the room with the infuriated team while Tyler ate his fill. Then he smirked as he looked to the elf beside him.
"So where AM I falling over tonight?"
She smiled.
"Allow me to show you Tyler."
"You da elf."
That made her chuckle as he followed the elven maid out of the hall while the other maids ran interference with the team to prevent them from following. Tyler sighed as they walked along a hallway.
"My sympathies, Tyler."
"I'll get my crew, and we'll vanish. Thank you though."
she smiled.
"Their rooms are on the OTHER side of the palace."
"Sounds peaceful."
The maid led him to a room and he blinked at the size of the bed alone.
"damn. That bed alone is half the size of my old HOUSE."
"Now that's sad."
He then noticed a large steaming pool of water by a window and blinked.
"In room bath?"
The elven girl smiled.
"Indeed, Tyler. If you seek to bathe, then another has claimed the privilege to join you."
"Wow. Now I'm curious. Anyone I know?"
"Would you like to find out?"
The elf snapped her fingers and the door opened to reveal the QUEEN herself as she walked in. Tyler blinked.
"Woah. Alright."
Iris was clad in a flaming robe that was belted around her narrow waist and Erice bowed.
"Milady. Good night."
The door shut and she looked him over.
"Now then. Shall we?"
"No way am I turning that down."
He stripped with the queen and she smiled as she saw the spear.
"Impressive, Tyler. How many years are you?"
"Most impressive indeed! Now. Allow me."
She undid the knot on her robe and he smiled widely as her large flopping rack and bald groin were revealed.
"Ohhh hell yeah!"
She laughed as they got into the in room hot tub and she sat against him and kissed him. Him loving her soft lips as he kissed her back.
"You were expecting my daughter weren't you?"
He smirked as the horny boy felt her lovely breasts.
"Kinda figured it be one a you."
"She's interested, but I'm out for fun."
"I got fun aplenty!"
She smiled and fit the spear into her shaft and the bouncing started, and he latched onto her rack with loving tenderness. They played in the water for a bit before she got creamed and orgasmed. Then she smirked.
"is that it?"
"we need a bed for the rest."
They got out and he smiled as an enchantment tried their bodies.
"Neat trick."
The queen laid in the bed and he flipped her over onto her belly, making her blink.
"Umm, what're you doing?"
She smiled as he poked her rear with the spear.
"Something from MY world. Curious?"
The Queen blinked again.
"It's going there? Oh very well. But be aware nothings ever been in there before."
"I'm gentle."
She felt her button spread as his spear entered her untouched tunnel,
"Oh WOW. I’ve never felt this before!"
He smiled until it was fully inside her and she groaned at the new feeling.
"I love it!"
"You ain't seen nothin yet."
HE started bucking against her gently and she was groaning and kicking in pleasure as her rear was pierced well before getting creamed. They played hard for a few hours with him showing her more tricks from his world before they were sated and she laid her head on his chest panting from the exertion.
"You are a most sensual boy. I love it."
"Happy to please you, my Queen."
she shivered at the way he made that sound! Then kissed him again.
"Lady ruining bastard! I don't think i should LET my daughter near you1 You'd steal her heart!"
He kissed her again and she sighed.
"Let's clean up."
"As you wish."
"Damn you!"
They cleaned their lust off their bodies before cuddling in the massive bed with him holding her against his chest.
"You're warm, Tyler. Comfy too."
"Happy to service you."
"Stop attacking my heart like that!"
"Shall I kiss you?"
She kissed him and groaned.
"Damn you! I am NOT going to fall in love with you!"
"My loss."
He smiled as she rested her head on his chest and he stroked her flame colored hair.
"Night Iris. Thanks for you."
"Good night you romantic bastard. best sex period."
He smiled at that as they drifted off to sleep.

DAY 2.

Tyler woke to see the Queen asleep on his chest, and both of them buck ass naked. What the FUCK happened last night? Who-oh. Summoned to a new world. She's the queen. that i fucked last night. And slept with. Nice. He kissed her awake and she smiled.
"Morning my hero. Such a romantic wakeup call. I love it."
He smiled as he kissed her again and she slung a long leg over his middle,
"And I'm ready for more!"
So more she got, and him all too happy to give it to her. She got her morning cream and orgasm before they cleaned up in the still steaming tub. Him even helping with her long hair.
"You are really trying to make me fall in love aren't you?"
HE kissed her neck, and raised goosebumps on her soft skin.
"Nah. Spoiling comes with the territory."
"Then may the gods have mercy on the hearts of the beauties of the realm! For I fear you'll steal them!"
"That's a definite possibility, Iris. So, how's Rose?"
She laughed at THAT ballsy move.
"Sweet and very kind. if you're after her, then I’m afraid you'll have to earn her hand."
"Sounds like fun. Hey."
He kissed her and she sighed.
"Like you're not the winner here."
That got a laughed as they dressed, and he even helped lace up her dress. That one made her blink.
"On second thought. She'd fall for you after ONE night. I'M in danger of doing it myself!"
"I like making my girl feel special. in and out of the bed."
"What a prize you are! I shall have to warn the beauties!"
He smiled as the longsword was sheathed on his back.
"I'd be more an happy to ruin you again, my flaming Queen."
she shuddered!
"Dammit! You WILL!"
Erice came i8n then with a bow.
"Watch this one, Erice. He's a ruiner!"
"Oh my."
"You have no idea. The things he can do to you. Ohhhh."
That got a chuckle from t5he boy as he kissed the queen again.
"Give a leer, and I'd happy be to do it to you again."
Erice smiled at that one.
"You too Erice."
"Oh my."
Tyler was led to the dining hall as the wobbling Queen went to make her report to her ladies in waiting on her night. The tall boy finding he was the first in the hall and took his seat by the fireplace as the trolley was wheeled out. The hungry boy getting a mug of coffee and a plate of bacon, eggs, bread and some fruit he didn't recognize but found he liked from the night before. Erice smiled as she came over.
"The queen made her report."
"Should I start runnin?"
"The King knows. They have that type of marriage. Just know that word got around of your...ahem...prowess."
"Yikes. Now I feel I SHOULD start running."
She smiled warmly.
"Just to the bed chamber."
"Only if YOU'RE the one chasing me."
"I hate the feel of men, Tyler. Women are my preference."
"Nice to see ya got standards then."
she laughed at that.
"Okay. I've never heard that one before."
HE chuckled as more of the heroes came in and took seats for breakfast. Including his team. Though Michelle was shocked to see him finishing off his cup of coffee with evidence he'd bene there longer.
"When did you get up?"
He looked at Erica.
"What? Two hours ago?"
"I'd say closer to three."
"That fits."
"I hope it does."
"So do I. But hey, we can find out later."
She smiled eagerly.
"Will you be in town long?"
"Most likely. Once I get a feel for my blade and crew and you I'll head out."
That made her sigh.
"I have my own room."
"Sounds comfy."
The foster mother blinked as the duo made their bed plans.
"No! I forbid it! Your 15!"
"It's not your call. Erice. Shall we head out?"
"Of course."
Tyler downed his drink and the foster mother tried to grab Erice's hand.
"How old are you?"
" 2 thousand years old. Sit down child."
Tyler busted up laughing as Michelle was taken aback by the number. Then she glared at her.
"That's impossible. Don't lie to me."
"Michelle. She's an elf. rule of thumb, elves are immortal. That's the trope from ANY fantasy realm."
Erica smiled sweetly as she tore her arm from the woman's grasp.
"My people are indeed immortal. Our Queen is close to 15,000 years old."
"Wow. Huh."
"She hates men."
"A lady of standards. Nice to see it's a racial thing."
The boy walked with the elf as Michelle was left with her mind shattered by that bombshell. The Hero sighed as they walked up the stairs.
"Sorry about that."
Erice shrugged.
"I knew you were looking to prove a point. As for the bed mates? Sadly I must decline. I suffered a rape years back and men disgust me now."
"I didn't need to know that, Erice. Your reasons are your own."
HE hugged her.
"And I'm sorry."
She smiled at that.
"Thank you. But it was 500 years ago."
"For elves that's a mere blink."
"You understand my people well. I killed him the next time we stood face to face."
"Atta elf."
"I hate you now."
He chuckled as they walked into the throne room where the Queen was sitting funny on her throne with the King beside her. The prince and princess also present. Iris smiled as Tyler took his spot by the podium.
"Damn you. Now it feels weird sitting down."
He smiled.
"You get used to it."
Rose the princess blushed as her mother and the hero talked. Then the King sighed.
"Bastard. nearly stole my wife after one night."
"Get good."
"I hate you."
There was a collective chuckle from the ladies, and a worried groan from the men at the King's tone. Then Tyler looked over at Rose, making her smile with a slight blush. The King raised an eyebrow.
"You're gonna work for that one."
"Challenge accepted."
Rose blinked at that before she smiled widely at the implications. Iris frowned.
"Why am I suddenly terrified you'll corrupt my precious daughter?"
"I corrupted YOU didn't I?"
"Oh damn you! enough! Make up your mind! Who are you going after! Me or her?"
Tyler smirked.
"I guess we'll find out."
Rose and Iris looked at each other, mildly fearful.
"Mother, is he trying to make us compete?"
"I am getting that feeling Sweetie. And it's terrifying that it might happen!"
Tyler shrugged.
"I like beauties."
Rose blushed and Iris smiled.
"Oh is that how it is? Bastard."
The teasing hero let them off the hook as the rest of the Heroes walked up the steps to take their spots behind Tyler. His team managing to get in the row behind the boy as he leered at the Queen, making her squirm,
"Dammit! I have to sit like this!"
"Damn you! That's it. YOU again."
"As you wish my Queen."
There was a low whistle from the other ladies at the way he made it sound, and Rose blushed HARD as she pictured something in her mind while Iris grumbled.
"Lady ruining bastard."
"Like you won't have fun."
"Besides the point!"
"I got more tricks too."
"You keep doing this I'm gonna attack you."
"Me plan."
She growled as her lust and longing continued to mount. Then the King sighed.
"Save it for tonight."
"Buildup is fun."
"I hate you!"
Tyler chuckled as behind him Helan was appalled.
"He's 15!"
The Queen smirked.
"We get married at 13."
"You're all monsters!"
"Hmph. Looks like YOU'RE alone."
"She got dumped last week."
"Makes sense."
"You're telling me?"
That made the blonde shrink angry.
"How dare you talk about me like that, Tyler? I'm an adult."
"Act like it then. and be quiet before your superiors."
He looked to the Queen, winked, then looked to the King.
Helan was infuriated by the multijab as Iris laughed.
The King smiled.
"Today you are to hire your party. EACH hero hires individually. Bear in mind these men and women are NOT mindless slaves or mere servants. YOU Heroes will need to see to food, clothing, shelter, and other needs they may have or agree on. You may enter."
The doors at the end of the throne room opened and a bank of men and women of various races strode into the place to stand on either side of the long red carpet awaiting the nod. Tyler crossed his arms. I need a ranger. Period. The King nodded.
"You may begin."
Tyler was off walking along the line of people looking for bows or light armor as his team were slow on the draw. Then he came upon a women with a large bow on her back clad in brown leather chaps and a white tunic. He smiled politely as the hero approached her.
"Hi. Are you a ranger?"
She smirked and he saw pointed teeth inside her full lips.
"I am indeed, young Hero. I am called Thorn. I am a ranger of the Nekoisans race. Have you need for a ranger?"
He blinked.
"Nekoisans? Like...a catgirl?"
She lifted a trihorn hat she had on and a pair of tall, orange furred cat ears popped into view.
"Indeed. I like your term better."
A long orange furred tail swayed behind her slender form and he smiled.
"Nice. Okay. I need a ranger to help me survive in the wilds and as a guide to the world. How in-depth is your expertise?"
She purred like a friggin cat at that!
"Very, Hero. My training is at the same level of a member of the Elven Ears. Or their ranger regiment."
"Okay. Pay?"
She smirked.
"125 dragoons upfront. How will loot sharing work?"
"three ways. Party, me, then you. We get ten dragoons, 5 got to party right off the bat. we divvy the rest."
"A smart plan to be sure. Say we want the same dagger."
"If we cannot reach an agreement, I'll add it to party coin to be sold and remove it from the debate."
"Harsh, yet fair. I ask because my last party split over an enchanted dagger."
"We won't do that. 125 you said?"
"Is haggling a thing here? My world it's take it or leave it."
She blinked and her tail flicked in surprise.
"It is. And that is harsh. What is your offer/"
"100 even."
"More then fair. Are you recruiting further?"
"I am. A ranger was the most needed though. Now it's just adding to the flanks."
"I see. My suggestion is to try to get a mage of some type."
"Thanks Thorn. Here. Welcome to hell."
That got a chuckle as he looked her over closely now. She was half a head shorter then him with long chocolate brown hair that dropped to her waist. her eyes were a very pretty hazel and her skin was pale. Out of her hair poked two orange furred cat ears he REALLY wanted to pet, and out of her back at the base of her spine was a 4 foot long orange tail with white bars that was never still. she was slender with a decent ballooning of the chest that belied the orbs within. She was barefoot and he noted she had orange fur on the tops of her delicate feet. That and her toes had claw like toenails that made him nervous to look at. her attire was tight fitting leather armor with rings of chainmail around her bare stomach and on her back too. The catgirl's weapons were a large bow with a folded up lance beside it on her pack. The sight of her pack made him blink.
"Do you have any other gear from previous adventures?"
She smiled.
"I do. A tent, grate for cooking, fishing equipment, and camping gear for one."
"Good. We'll go over skills once I get the other member set."
"Deal. One tent or two?"
"I'd prefer one. Less chance of a lone ambush that way."
"Smart. Very well. Let us see who else we can hire."
Tyler looked around the room seeking a mage to add to the party, when Michelle found him with the rest of the team.
"There you are! Explain why you're speaking to this young lady this instant!"
Tyler sighed as he looked at a bemused Thorn.
"Yeah. Another reason is we need to disappear."
"I can do that."
"Thank the gods. Ignore them."
Tyler went to walk off with his catgirl ranger, when Greg blocked his path.
"Explain. NOW."
"No. I don't have to."
He walked away and this time Greg spoke to the ranger.
"Has he propositioned you miss?"
"He hired me. YOU might wanna worry about yourselves. HE has a plan."
That made them angry as Tyler spotted a staff poking out of the crowd and moved towards it. Thorn right beside him as the group followed intent on lecturing him. Tyler blinked as he saw the shorter girl holding the white crystal tipped staff. She was a very pretty girl with snow white hair that hung to her ankles while her skin was like porcelain and very fair. Her eyes were a bright blue and had an inner light that made them sparkle. The girl's outfit was a white robe belted around her narrow waist by a red sash while upon her head sat a small headband made of a blue felt like material. She had thin shoes on her feet and her chest had a slight bulge that added to her petite form. He smiled as she noticed them.
"Hi miss. I'm Tyler."
She smiled kindly.
"I'm Winter. A priestess of Tolsa the Snow."
Thorn blinked.
"A Snow Priestess? Tyler. The priestess of snow are among the very best of healer mages in the realm. And they are also extremely powerful too."
Winter blushed shyly at the praise.
"Thank you lady Cat. I only seek to bring the pure white of Snow to those that need it."
Tyler smiled.
"Can you do wards?"
"Of what kind?"
"We make camp, and you set it, then something that's not friendly enters the perimeter and we get the heads-up."
"Ah. Those are simple. I have one."
"Okay. Are you able to ask a payment for your healing?"
"Alas I am not. If it's freely given WITHOUT my asking then I may. To ask for reward for aid is an insult to the Snow."
"Better an i was expecting. Okay. Are you a pure healer? Or can you sling fire too?"
She smiled with pride.
"I use the ice magics, Lord Hero. Fire is alas a forbidden spell in my sect."
"Ice? If it's melted, can we drink the water it creates?"
"You can. A most shrewd question Lord Hero. And it rivals the water spells in purity."
"how's 100 dragoons sound Winter?"
His therapist blinked.
"No. She's just a girl! You are NOT hiring her!"
Tyler ignored her as Winter tilted her head.
"Deal. We NEED a healer mage."
Thorn smiled as Winter got her coins.
"That was a wise move, just agreeing."
"I know quality when I see it. Okay. Step two. we're it."
Winter looked at the group of heroes behind him,
"Are they traveling with us, Lord Hero?"
"No. And please, winter. My name's Tyler."
She smiled.
"Tyler. Very well. How will loot work?"
"If we make 10 dragoons, 5 get set aside for the party and the rest get divvyed among us."
"I like that system. if we say sell something we made like a potion for example?"
"If you made it yourself, the profit goes directly to you. If it's say a sword we have no use for and we sell it, the profits get added to the divvy. Oh. And an important point? ALL loot gets divvyed up at the end of the day either in camp after the wards are up or in a locked inn room with the wards up."
Thorn and Winter smiled.
"That's good. Agreed."
Tyler looked at the glowering team.
"Unless you want to roam alone, I'd hire some help."
Greg glared at him.
"We are NOT you leaving you alone with them."
Tyler looked at Winter.
"You wouldn't happen to have a spell to oh say, stun them for a moment?"
She sighed.
"Alas, I do not. I HAVE been looking for one to be honest."
"That'd be too easy. Ah well. we only have to put up with it until tomorrow. Thorn, where's the nearest general store?"
"Come on."
The three got moving as the team followed them rather then hire their own party. Tyler counted coin as they walked to the door. Right now we have 275 dragoons. The only thing I really need is the skills of track and skin. The hero threw the door open and blinked.
The palace sat upon a massive floating plateau easily over a mile above the ground. On the sides of a narrow street were sets of shops and various homes for the nobility. Tyler chuckled as he saw more floating plateaus in the sky around them.
"That is all kinds a awesome. Oh. Thorn, Winter, we're staying in the palace again as i got a royal hookup."
The catgirl ranger blinked.
"The princess?"
"You lucky bastard. Now I'm scared."
He chuckled as winter blushed.
"Have fun, Tyler."
"Wow. You're a sweet one aren't ya? Come on."
How red in the face the small mage followed the taller pair clutching her staff tightly. Tyler was whistling as Thorn led them to a large platform filling with people with his party and his team the last one on before a large membrane closed around the entrance. Winter was shaking and he noticed as they descended.
"You okay?"
She smiled with a slight wince.
"These things make my belly flip, Tyler. Nothing to worry about."
"That sucks. Have you ever been aboard ship?"
"I have. No issues."
"Imagine you're aboard ship and it's dropping into a deep wave."
The mage, that he had a good foot on, did so before bursting into smiles.
"I feel so much better! Thanks!"
Tyler smiled kindly.
"Had a friend that told me once it's your brain fighting itself trying to understand what's happening. So give it an answer it already knows."
Thorn smiled.
"There's an odd wisdom there. Got anything else?"
"Hmm. What's more dangerous to meet on the trail alone./ An angry bear, or another person?"
Thorn frowned as she considered the question.
"The bear. It's harder to kill."
"Wrong. Another person. Least you know what the bear wants."
She blinked, and so did winter.
"There's a dark wisdom in that. One I most agree with."
"So do I. Snow priestesses travel alone usually, and so we're taught to always be wary of other people on the trail."
"Makes sense. You're a girl. That alone paints a target on your back. Throw in those heals and looks? Yeah."
She blushed as Thorn sighed.
"I see you see the world clearly. This is good."
"The world is not a nice place."
That got a sigh from the two natives as Halen blinked.
"Since when are you a deep thinker?"
"Be amazed at what you'll learn when you take the time to LISTEN."
That made her mad as Tyler looked out the crystal clear membrane around the platform. Taking note of more platforms rising and lowering along the same tubes they themselves were in. Then he took note of the city below, and whistled.
The city was massive. Stretching out into the distance with a great grey line to indicate an outer wall. The next thing he noticed was the city was built in tiers and had numerous plazas with bits of forest in their centers. Tyler smiled as he saw them.
"Those are kinda cool."
Thorn smiled as she saw the objects of his attention.
"Princess Rose loves them. If you ever enter one and find an odd amount of knights around, she's inside."
That got a chuckle as the lift reached the ground and the party with their trail got off. Tyler looked to Thorn.
"Okay. we got most of the day to play with after we hit the general store. Any dungeons in the area?"
The ranger catgirl smiled wider.
"A few. Plus a few places known for bandits."
"Bandits then. People I understand enough to not have to worry enough. Plus is easy blood experience and the added chance of captives too."
"Then while you look at skills I'll mark spots on your map."
"Alright. I got a trick for baiting bandits."
"Do tell."
"Ignore your surroundings and count your coin."
She busted up laughing.
"That's MY trick! It works every time too."
"Always go for a classic. Cause if they're classics, they work."
Winter smiled at that.
"My Mother would have LOVED you in her Sanctuary. She always taught us that the more simple solutions are often the most effective."
"That's a very fair way to look at the world, Winter. Just be careful as sometimes things aren't so black and white."
"Yes Snow. Eep!"
He blinked at the way she made it sound and then busted up laughing as she blushed hard. Thorn provided the explanation.
"Snow Priestesses’ male teachers are call Snow as a title. Since the god they pray to is male. Female teachers are Mothers."
Tyler smiled as he patted the embarrassed mage.
"Thanks for the complement. Justa try not to learn TOO much from me, okay?"
She smiled at that as Michelle blinked.
"Since when the hell can YOU teach?"
Tyler smirked as the approached the store.
"You're gonna learn a lotta things about me, Michelle. and I guarantee you're not gonna like em all."
She frowned at that ominous statement. Tyler opened the door to the shop, just in time to see the lady running it have her pants turn off her body b y a hooded man.
"I've LONGED for this!"
"Hey, fucknut."
The man looked over just in time for a savage fist from the boy to slam into his face, launching him clear across the room. Tyler didn't break stride as he walked over to the stunned rapist and without even pausing lifted his foot and stomped on the man's neck with a ferocious force. There was a loud snapping sound and the man went limp. Though Tyler stomped twice more to be certain he'd killed him.
He then turned his attention to the trembling woman as Thorn and Winter comforted her.
"You okay miss?"
She was shaking badly but smiled weakly.
"Thank you, Lord Hero. He caught me by surprise."
"He ain't coming back."
"Thank you. I need a drink before we talk further."
The two went into the back of the shop as Tyler went back to the corpse.
"Okay let's see what you got. Winter. Call a guard."
"Already did."
"Atta girl."
Tyler fished in the man's pockets as his horrified team recovered, with Greg speaking first.
"You're a murderer."
"Welcome home. You really thought we wouldn't have to kill people?"
The Hero pulled some dragoons, a set of daggers, a few potions, and some spells from the man's pockets.
"Okay. 350 dragoons, some daggers, three stamina potions, and three spells. Pleasurer's touch. Increases sexual sensations during the act. Mind blink. Uses the eyes to stun a single target with blinding lights. and Boost. Increases strength for a set period of time. A rapists toolkit."
Winter grimaced.
"Mind Blink is actually a banned spell. I'll take it. We of the Pure Snow seek the banned spells so they may be removed from the world."
Tyler passed it along.
"You're the mage. I'll add boost to my collection. And....I'll give Thorn the last one."
That got a snort from Winter.
"Wow. Just take the damned thing."
"Sure. was kinda lookin to play a joke."
"You got a death wish."
"Nah. Just a fucked up sense a humor. Okay. The daggers?"
The mage looked at the three blades.
"Ugh. This one's coated in Oiled Death adder. A simple papercut inflicts the same amount of agony as losing a limb. It's a banned poison too. I'll take it."
"You'll take what?"
Thorn came back with the much recovered shopkeep and Winter passed the two items over.
"Banned items."
"I see. Mind Blink and Oiled Death Adder. Anything else?"
"Just these."
Tyler passed the other two spells over and the catgirl snorted.
"Of course. Let me guess. YOU want the sex spell?"
"Well if YOU don't want it."
"I HAVE one."
"Wow. Okay."
He placed the sex spell onto his License and the catgirl looked Boost over.
"Hmm. This one would be better in your hands, Winter."
"You think so?"
"I do. Snow priestesses are famous for their buff spells."
Tyler smiled and passed the thing to Winter.
"That works. Next is this dagger."
Thorn looked the long weapon over.
"Eh. Not that impressive. The poison be a mere stunner."
"Can we use it?"
"Not really. Maybe as a last resort in a tackle, but even that's a stretch."
"That would be the best option."
The last dagger was held out and winter noted the dripping blade.
"That's another banned poison. Pleasured pain. It forces any pain you fell to become pleasure. It's a torturer's tool."
Tyler blinked.
"A torturer? Hey this guy got a bounty?"
Thorn smiled.
"Let me check. If you want the same ability you'll have to visit a collection office."
"Sure. There's good coin in headhunting."
Thorn held her License over the head of the dead rapist and nodded.
"Yup. Moli the Torturer. Reward is....1500 dragoons...dead. Alive we get nothing."
"Two birds one boot."
They laughed as the town guard walked in. Michelle pointed at Tyler,
"He murdered that man!"
The leader of the guard walked right up to Tyler.
"Lord Hero. Explain the corpse."
"Walked in an him trying to rape the lady. Mercy is not in my nature. Plus he has a bounty."
The man looked to the woman and she nodded.
"It be truth Sir. The Hero saved my life and my lay."
"Very well. Hero. Did you find anything of note on the monster's corpse?"
Winter stepped forward.
"Two banned poisons and a banned Spell, Sir."
"I see, lady Priestess. I trust they shall be destroyed?"
"Once we are safe to do so."
"Very good. This kill is ruled fair play. Thankee kindly Lord Hero."
"Sure. I like hunting these bastards."
The guard went to leave as Helan blinked.
"He just killed someone in cold blood. And he just gets let go?"
The man chuckled,
"He killed a rapist. Or would it the monster be left to live to hurt some other poor soul?"
"Are there not jails?"
"Some do not deserve life, Lady Hero. Some crimes are that unforgivable. The king woulda taken his head off himself if you presented the bastard to him."
The man left the shaken woman and she looked to Greg.
"This world is an anarchist state, Greg. There is NO rule of law."
"Sure there is. it's called honor. and ya might wanna brace."
The therapist glared at him.
"for what? More merciless killings?"
"If death is the worst thing that can happen to you here, Helan, then we got lucky."
She blinked.
"What the hell does that mean?"
Tyler chuckled darkly.
"There are fates worse then death. And if you stick around MY party for too long, you'll see what I mean. Actually. Thorn. Are there any goblins nearby?"
She blinked.
"Ummm. Yes. There's a cave they like to hole up in."
"Perfect. We'll clear it out."
"I thrive in the dark."
"WE'RE not taking that risk. Not until we see you fight in the light."
"I guess that's fair. That bandit camp will suffice."
Sherry blinked.
"What the hell are you talking about?"
Tyler instead looked to the lady behind the counter.
"Are you okay, miss?"
She smiled gratefully.
"I am, Lord Hero. Thank you. I seek to repay my debt."
"Have you the skills Skin and track?"
"I do. And they be free in repayment."
"Not needed, but appreciated."
He dug the skills out of a box and added them to his arsenal.
"Alright. Let's turn the idiot in and get hunting."
The boy hoisted the body onto his shoulder and walked out of the store.
"The collection office is this way."
The Hero followed the beautiful catgirl as she led the way with Winter right beside him, and his shaken team behind them.
"Hey Winter."
"What'll you do to destroy the Banned stuff? Chuck em in a fire?"
She smiled.
"No. I have a purify spell I use. Any evil items that the purify touches are destroyed and offered to my god as tribute."
"Does it work on say undead?"
"It's not an offense or defense spell as you're thinking. It's like a firelighting spell. It can purify the bones of undead though, so they can be used."
"That's a bonus. Are undead valuable?"
"Some are some aren't. I'm well versed in them as aside from the evil items, we Snow hate undead most of all."
"Neat. Undead are fun."
The ranger led them to a large booth set against a wall by what looked to be a bank. Inside the booth sat a bored woman looking at the passing people. Though she smiled as the group walked up.
"Welcome Heroes to the Druala Collection office. My name is Fera. How may I help you/"
Tyler smiled.
"Got a dead guy for ya. And looking for the ability to check for bounties."
"I see. Place the corpse on the slab please."
A long stone slab was extended from a wall beside the booth and Tyler dropped the dead guy onto it. The thing pulled back and Fera smiled.
"I see. Moli. 1500 dragoons. Impressive for the first head. Now. Place your License onto the tray please."
Tyler did as requested and it glowed before a new icon of a cross haired skull appeared. Fera passed the coin pouch over.
"Your payment, Sir. When next you wish to check for wanted status, merely touch the icon."
"Thanks Fera. odds are I'll have another idiot for ya soon."
The Hero put the coin pouch under his chainmail as Thorn smiled.
"Bounty hunting is one of my favorite adventures. Be amazed how many idiots want to be found."
"Bandits usually have a good head or two to take."
Winter smiled.
"They always do."
He looked at her.
"I forgot to ask, Winter. Are you ALLOWED to kill by your sect?"
She smiled widely.
"I am, Tyler. The Snow is not merciful by nature."
"Phew. Thank the gods for that one."
The group left the city by way of a giant wallgate and walked along a dirt road with Thorn leading the way.
"The first crew should be just around that bend."
Tyler blinked.
"They come that close to the city?"
"The stupid ones do. This band should have up to 15 men."
Behind the trio, his team were having a discussion of their own. Michelle leading as usual.
"we need to step in. He's a killer!"
Helan nodded.
"Agreed, Michelle. he killed that man in cold blood, and has not ONCE batted an eye. Greg?"
The CASA worker grimaced.
"He's gone full sociopath. I was always afraid he'd go there, but I didn’t think it'd be this bad."
Sarah was panting hard from the strenuous act of walking.
"He's been drinking beer, sleeping around, hiring girls for their bodies, and now killing people! And we've only been here one day! If we DON'T rein him in, he'll never be able to readjust to our world!"
Sherry nodded.
"So we agree. His escapade ends here."
Tyler was looking at the terrain around them, and noted some plains and light forest.
"This is prime deer country. Hey Thorn, you think we can score a buck or two?"
"Not likely. Most big game don't come into view of the walls."
"Makes sense. Birds?"
"Turkey, rabbit, grouse and sometimes pheasant. The only REAL game around this close to the walls are things like that."
Tyler looked up and noted a hawk flying overhead.
"Ya don't say."
He pulled his bow and took aim as Michelle blinked.
"What the hell are you doin?"
He fired and there was a surprised shriek as a large red tailed hawk dropped to the ground with the arrow in it's chest. Thorn whistled.
"Not bad rookie."
"Thank you. Hawk feathers make good coin."
"I'd say better flights."
"You da cat."
The boy got to work plucking the bird with Winter's help as Thorn tied the feathers into bundles to preserve their strength before storing them in her pack. The party took the feathers, talons, beak and eyes of the large bird before leaving the unusable remains on the side of the road. Tyler looking over a red hued tail feather curiously. Thorn smirked.
"Are you thinking of adding that to a hat?"
"Nah. More admiring the thing."
HE put the feather back,
"Tyler. we need to talk."
He looked behind him at his resolute team.
"We don't have time for this. After we hit the bandits, I'll consider it. We're not safe out here."
Thorn and Winter nodded and got moving as Greg took a step forward.
"Either we do this now, or we take your gear."
"You can't. Remember what happened last time?"
The still walking group rounded the bend and as Greg was about to make a move for Tyler's pack, and arrow slammed into his shoulder, punching straight through the chain mail into the flesh beneath. Oh how he howled! Tyler chuckled as 15 men appeared before the group all brandishing weapons.
"Yer money and yer women. Hand em over."
Michelle gulped as the group laughed.
"Some o them are hideous!"
"We kin always find a buyer!"
"Or a monster to trade with!"
Tyler drew his longsword,
"Welcome to hell, gentlemen. MY hell."
The boy rushed them as Winter waved her staff.
"Frozen Wave!"
A sheet of ice exploded out of the ground in front of the charging boy as Thorn took out the attempted sniper in the trees with a well aimed arrow. Tyler smiled as the ice surged forward in front of him into the men. knocking them off balance as he reached them. The Hero swung the one handed blade at one man with a shortsword and caught him in the throat, taking his head clean off. The agile boy smirked as he pivoted on his left leg and swept the blade in a manner to slash the throats of four more before Winter cast her next spell.
"Frozen Spear!"
Thorn had two arrows in two heads as a 4 foot spike of ice impaled another man in the chest as Tyler was seen hopping backward as a man swung a pair of axes at him.
"Hop, hop, hop, hop, and DING."
The man tripped on a rock and Tyler was right there to run him through the middle with the blade before reversing his grip of the blade and twirling around him with a flourish and tear the thing free to point the dripping blade at the lone survivor.
"Your camp."
The man s[pit at him as he readied sword and shield.
"HA. You think you can break me lad?"
The man lunged with a glowing shield,"
"Shield Rush!"
Tyler smirked as he sidestepped the charging man in a manner that had him behind him. the next thing the rusher knew was he was on the ground minus his sword and shield and Tyler smiling at him.
"Would you like to reconsider?"
"Fuck off."
"Ohoh we got a fighter. Cute."
The boy pulled a dagger and stabbed the man in his knee,
"Right here asshole. Talk. Or lose your knee."
The man gritted his teeth at the pain.
"I'll die before I tell you anything."
"In the ass it is."
The man blinked before Tyler flipped him over and grabbed a fallen spear and placed the blunt end against his vulnerable rear.
"Your camp. Or get fucked by a spear."
"The hells be wrong with you?"
"Wrong answer."
The spear had weight applied to it and the man howled at the pain.
"Fine! I've a map! Gods and you're supposed to be a hero!"
Tyler chuckled darkly as he passed the map to a shocked Thorn for her verdict.
"I never said I was a Hero. Me? Heh. I'm a Wolf."
The ranger smirked,
"This is real."
Tyler lifted the spear for a killing thrust when Winter poked him.
"Umm. These types killings I AM against."
The boy blinked.
"What else am I gonna do with em?"
"A brand?"
"I guess that works. Sorry. mercy's a foreign concept to me."
The Snow priestess smiled.
"I'll keep an eye on it."
"Thanks Winter. Now then."
Tyler pulled his knife and cut a pair of Xs into the howling man's cheeks.
"Be thankful SHE'S a helluva lot nicer than I am."
He knocked the man out and tossed him aside as Thorn confronted him.
"Care to explain?"
"I handle the dark work."
"I see. That is a tragedy. Let me know how you sleep tonight."
"Will do. So, the loot?"
"450 dragoons, some skills, and shitty weapons."
"Typical bandits."
Tyler looked over to where his horrified team were looking at him. Namely the bleeding hole in Greg's shoulder with the arrow still lodged in his shoulder.
"Alright. We got time."
The boy walked over and looked at the arrow as Michelle blinked.
"What the hell do you think you're doing? He needs a hospital!"
"We got Winter, Michelle. She IS a hospital. But, I got this one."
He pulled his knife and whistled as he cut the shaft from the screaming man's shoulder before placing his hand over the 3 inch hole.
The wound glowed a neon blue before the skin and muscle knit itself back together before appearing like nothing happened. winter came over with a glowing hand and smiled as she examined his handiwork.
"Not bad rookie. You got a talent."
"Thanks Doc. This shaft was more to wound, not kill, anyway."
He tossed the blunt arrow away as Greg regained his composure.
"I appreciate the help, but we need to talk."
"How far is that bandit camp?"
Thorn smiled.
"Bout ten minutes that way."
"we'll chat there."
They gritted their teeth at this, but followed. Tyler looking at the skills they'd looted from the bandits.
"Hmm. Farsight, Flay, Track, Skin, and a bow skill called Halfdraw."
Thorn frowned.
"I know that one. It's a bandit skill made to cut the power of a single shaft's killing power in half."
"We can use it for hunting then."
"I see where you're coming from, but we have better options to be honest. Winter can offer it to her god."
"Teehee! Thanks!""
That made the duo chuckle as they found the camp. It being comprised of fourteen small tents and one larger tent Tyler went right for. The hero poked his head inside and sighed.
"Winter! Got a captive!"
His team gasped as the boy walked in before carrying a small, trembling girl from inside. she sobbed softly as blood poured from cuts on her body and her holes from brutal sessions at the hands of the camp. Winter was right there with her spells as Tyler looked at the AGAIN shaken team.
"THIS is what i meant by fates worse then death."
The girl was groaning as the mage cast her healing spells on her while thorn looted the camp. Winter finished her job and the girl giggled.
"I feel great! Thank you!"
Tyler hugged the smaller girl.
"Sure thing, Miss. I'm Tyler."
"Nice to meetchya! hey."
He pulled a cloak from a rack and passed it to her.
"You cute an all, but not all are worthy."
She blushed at that and wrapped her small body in the cloak.
"Thank you. What'll happen to me now? they killed mommy and pappy."
Winter smiled.
"We'll take you to the Snow."
That made her gasp.
"The Snow? Really?"
Winter hugged the girl that was half a head shorter then she was.
"They'll take good care of you, Sheria."
The girl just started crying as the realization her nightmare was over hit her hard. Thorn came over then.
"1500 dragoons, some more spells, more skills, and her."
Tyler sighed as the girl sobbed piteously.
"Makes sense for a small crew. Alright. Shera. Can you walk?"
She nodded sniffing.
"I'm okay."
"You get tired, let me know."
"I'm tired!"
He smiled and lifted the small girl up onto his shoulder like a bird.
"You good?"
"Teehee! I like being tall!"
"So do I. Just don't fall off."
She smiled and leaned on the hilt of his sword.
Then the Hero looked to his sickened team.
"You wanted to talk?"
Greg glared at him.
"This farce has gone on long enough. You are to hand your weapons over and come with us. You are only 15. FAR too young to be drinking beer and whoring around."
"I wouldn't talk of the Queen like that."
He snorted.
"Or what?"
"Piss her off and find out. This isn't our world. Rules are very different here. I'd have thought that sank in when I killed that rapist."
Helan sighed.
"That was a murder. This country is ruled by anarchist rules."
"No. It's ruled by strength of arm. That woman wasn't strong enough to fight off her attacker. Yet I was strong enough to rescue her. If you want to survive, you're gonna have to get off that high horse."
Sarah was breathing like a bellows from the sudden burst of activity.
"You are still held to our rules, Tyler. Like it or not you are NOT old enough to make such important and impactful decisions on your own like this. And you've killed 16 people. When we get back to the city you are to turn yourself in as a murderer."
Winter and Thorn busted up laughing at them. Tyler amused himself by teasing Sheria with pokes on her small legs, making her giggle every time like he pushed a button. Then Winter replied.
"They'll laugh at you for that. Bandits and a rapist are NOT murders. It's justice. The fact you're feeling sympathy for evil that would hurt Sheria like they did is simply appalling."
Michelle sighed.
"This is not your conversation kid. We come from a world of law. Something you don't know anything about apparently."
Winter snorted.
"Child? I'm 600 years old. How old are YOU/"
"She's 56."
"And she looks like THAT? Yikes."
Michelle blinked at her pitying tone.
"Do not lie to adults, kid. No wonder he picked you."
Winter blinked.
"You are going to suffer most unneededly with that attitude. Child. Sheria here is close to 45 years old."
She giggled.
"And I already look better then you!"
Sheria was a very pretty girl with long golden hair and brightly shining blue eyes. her skin was tanned and smooth after Winter's spells too. Tyler hugged the smaller girl fondly.
"Nice to see some arrogance."
The white haired mage smiled ruefully.
"She's right though. I love that color hair, Sheria."
"Aww! Thanks!"
Now embarrassed the girl pressed her face into Tyler's thick sweatshirt. Thorn smiled.
"You almost look like her olde3r brother like that, Tyler."
He smiled as he stroked the small girl's hair.
"I like her. She's warm."
Shera blushed hard at that one as the boy looked to his again sickened team.
"I am NOT handing my weapons to you. I am NOT listening to you anymore. You HAVE NO control over me anymore. Get over it. Now I need to get this poor girl back to the city before it gets dark out."
He went to move off and Greg lunged for the girl,
"You are NOT going anywhere alone with her!"
Tyler's sword clear it's sheath and was resting on his throat.
"Do NOT get any closer to her. This is the only warning you will get."
Sheria was sitting on his pack as Tyler's eyes hardened while his free hand pulled a dagger from his belt. Greg gulped.
"Put the sword down, Tyler. She's coming with us."
Tyler smirked.
"Take her. I dare you."
Greg went to reach for the girl, and Tyler swung his sword, and severed his arm at the shoulder. Winter smiled.
"Yes I can heal that."
Greg dropped to the dirt screaming in horror as Michelle tried her luck.
"Come with me Sweetie. That's a very bad boy you're with right now."
Shera blinked.
"Ew. Get away. You're mean."
Tyler pointed his sword at the old woman now, as Winter reattached a sobbing Greg's arm. The Boy smirked.
"I told you."
She snorted.
"You won't hurt me. Our bond is too strong."
"Try me."
She did and lost her own arm in the process. Winter frowned.
"I appreciate the practice, but come on!"
The Snow priestess sighed as she reattached the horrified woman's arm as Tyler looked at the rest.
"Anyone else?"
They didn't move and Tyler smiled.
"Good idiots. Winter?"
"Let's head out."
Tyler had Sheria on his shoulder again as she giggled at the feeling of being tall. The team just watched as the small group left the clearing. Helan then looked to Sarah.
"He's gone full psychopath. We need to speak to the King."
"I agree."
Tyler smiled as they walked into the city
"So where we bringing the goldilocks?"
Sheria bawled.
"I'm not goldilocks! I’m Sheria!"
"Sure, sure."
He chuckled at her offended tone as Winter led the way to a large building made entirely of white stone with more white haired girls in white robes outside. One approached Winter.
"Sister. Why have you sought the Snow out this day?"
The Snow priestess bobbed her head.
"Sister. One was rescued from imprisonment and torture. She seeks refuge with the Snow."
"The Mother awaits."
Sheria was saddened as they walked into the temple.
"Do I have to stay here, Tyler?"
He smiled sadly as he hugged her.
"I'm afraid so, Sheria. The places we're going to aren't the types that sweet girls like you should go to."
She hugged him hard.
"Will you visit?"
"Of course. And hey. I'm a Hero."
She JUMPED! Then burst into a happy smile that made everyone that saw it smile.
"I got rescued by a Hero! yay!"
He hugged her again as a tall white haired woman in a gown of ice walked out from behind a frozen pillar. Winter offered her Staff to the lady.
"Mother. I've come Home."
"Welcome Home my Daughter. What brings you to me this day?"
"Mother. She was rescued from bandits. She has nowhere to go, and so seeks your warmth."
"Child. Do you seek a Home?"
Sheria hung her head sadly.
"I want to stay with Tyler. But I'd get in the way of the Hero. I do."
Tyler sighed at her small voice, and Thorn smiled at that.
"You got attached fast."
The boy hugged the small girl tightly as the Mother smiled.
"I sense a most strong bond forged in such a short time."
The Hero shrugged as Sheria snuggled in his hug.
"I don't get it either."
Sheria looked at the Mother.
"Will he be able to visit me?"
"Sadly not until your rites have been completed, Child. And they take many years."
Sheria gasped in horror.
"No! I don't want to be alone! Please!"
She grabbed the boy in a near stranglehold.
"Please! Don't leave me too! I'll do anything!"
The poor girl was nearly inconsolable in her desperation and Tyler felt his heart crack. He looked at Thorn.
"If WE train her?"
The ranger smiled.
"If you had turned her away after THAT, I'd have just walked out too. we will teach her."
Winter smiled as well.
"Me too. I was afraid you were just a heartless bastard."
"I am. but only to those I don't like."
The Mother smiled.
"It is as it was meant to be. A Home was found. The Snow is pleased."
Tyler hugged Sheria tightly now.
She sat back with a look of shock on her face.
HE smiled.
"We'll take you with us."
Oh how she smiled! The look of relieved joy putting smiles on everyone's face, until.
She was instantly shaking.
He looked at her firmly.
"Your life will not be easy, Sheria. I said we'll take you with us, and we will. but you are going to have to work. Hard. We're going to teach you to survive out there like we do. And you WILL listen to us, okay?"
She nodded vigorously.
"I will! I promise!"
"Alright then. Thorn, Winter, mind getting our newest lunatic some decent clothes?"
Sheria giggled as the catgirl took her in her arms.
"We'll make her cute."
"Get her a bath too."
"What? You DON'T want one?"
Her blue eyes went wide at this.
"I do!"
Tyler passed the ranger 500 gold, and Winter smiled.
"That'll be plenty."
"We'll go to the general store together. I need a road outfit too. This one won't cut it."
Thorn smiled.
"Let's get her outfit and a bath before we blow coin. We still need to split loot."
"Good point. That first then. Coin split first, then making her cuter."
They left the temple and headed to a nearby inn as Tyler's team walked by. But the group ignored them as they paid for a room for loot splitting. Once the ward was sent in place Tyler added up the loot thus far that day.
"We had 275 left over from this morning. That's party coin now. Right now for splitting is 3800 dragoons. Not bad for a few hours rampaging."
Thorn smiled.
"That's nothing, rookie. In a single raid hitting a dungeon you can expect to make close to 15,000 at least."
"Nice. Okay. half is 1900 to party coin. Until Shera is strong enough to make her own coin, her needs come from party coin, okay?"
They nodded. The little goldilocks was sitting on Tyler's lap happy to be there as they talked.
"1900 divided by three is 633 dragoons per with 1 left over. That one gets added to party coin."
The girls took their shares and Tyler smiled.
"Alright. Ladies get the new girl kitted out while I get some better clothes and then we get cleaned up. I do NOT want that girl alone period."
Winter and thorn nodded.
"We'll take her in together."
"Thanks girls. Alright. let's go."
Sheria was happily sitting on his pack as the party went back to the general store. The woman recognizing them as they walked in.
"Welcome back Hero! Miss something?"
Tyler smiled as he jabbed a thumb at Sheria.
"Picked up an orphan and she wants to be cute."
The woman smiled wider as Shera blushed.
"I see. You're a lucky girl indeed. I trust the ladies are in charge?"
"Yeah. This one I have no say in."
"Good boy."
Tyler passed the giggling girl to Thorn and Winter for the blonde's makeover. Then the Hero looked back at the woman.
"I also need a better outfit."
That made her smirk.
"Right this way, my hero."
The now also smirking boy followed her into a back room where she pulled a measure tape.
"THIS is on me."
"ON you, or IN you?"
She smirked.
"IN me and that cutie's outfit be as well."
The boy smiled as they stripped down and she bent over a nearby trunk. Only for the outworlder to kneel and set his mouth to her lips, making her jump hard.
"Oh my! I've never experienced this! Keep going!"
He did. And fed on her treat until she exploded into a moaning orgasm at which time he spread her cheeks and fit into her from the rear for her ride. Now grunting from the feeling the shopkeeper blew twice more before she got a fresh cream. Then she looked over her shoulder panting.
"Free. That was the best sex I've ever had!"
He kissed her, still inside the tight lady.
"I like fun."
She sighed at that.
"I do too. now tell me."
"I did NOT use that spell."
Her green eyes went wide in mild fear at that revelation.
"And you were able to do THAT to me? Oh my."
"I got tricks."
"You ARE a ruiner. The beauties will rejoice! Now. Let's clean up."
"As you wish."
"Oh my poor heart!"
They cleaned up in a small basin before he picked out some more road friendly clothes. He'd still keep his old outfit, but only as a backup set. The shopkeep blinked as he walked out from behind a curtain.
"Oh dear."
He'd chosen a thin black vest that hid his chainmail vest perfectly with no sleeves and was belted by his dagger belt. he'd replaced his pants with black pants that also hid his bracers well that was made from a leathery material that was far more comfy than denim jeans, and far easier to move in as well. His boots had also been replaced with a pair of black combat boots with spiked treads to ensure surefootedness on any surface. On his hands were a pair of spiked fingerless clothes while his arms were bare. he smirked.
The woman gulped.
"You look very dashing in that, Tyler."
"I may not know much. But DAMN do I know how to look good."
"Thanks Mya."
They walked out to see Winter smiling widely by the counter.
"She cute?"
There was a small giggle as the girl came out blushing with an also smiling Thorn behind her. Tyler blinked as he saw the cutie. her golden hair had been brushed into a straightness that put actual gold to shame and her blue eyes were sparkling. The two ladies had picked a red hued shirt that clung to her small frame and added extra pop to her golden hair and fair skin while for pants she had a pair of capris made from more red material that allowed free movement and made her look that much prettier. One her feet were a small pair of boots like Tyler's only red with the same spike soles. He whistled.
"Damn Sheria. You look gorgeous."
She blushed and shuffled her feet awkwardly.
"Thank you, Tyler. You look good too."
Thorn and Winter looked over now and blinked.
"he does."
Tyler hugged the small girl as she claimed her usual spot by his sword hilt.
"I got hooked up. we're good."
Thorn and Winter looked over at the shopkeeper, and noted her satisfied smile.
"I’m scared Thorn."
"I am too, Winter. I am too."
Tyler then looked up at Sheria.
"You got a License?"
She looked down.
"No. They burned it in the fire when I got caught."
Thorn sighed.
"We need to see the King for a new one."
Tyler smiled as he patted the small girl's leg.
"We'll get you a new one, Sheria."
She brightened up immensely as he pulled a smaller dagger from his belt and passed it up to her.
"Here. That'll hold you till we get some more to choose from. Put it here."
Now glowing at her first weapon the blonde sheathed the knife on her hip like a sword. Then the party made for the lift. Their new companion firmly seated on Tyler's shoulder and holding his sword hilt for balance. The party walked into the throne room in time to hear the King laughing, along with most of the nobility. Tyler smiled as Sheria yawned.
"we'll sleep well tonight, Sheria."
She smiled.
He patted her leg as the party walked up to the foot of the thrones where sat the royal family....and his team getting laughed at by that family. Michelle tried again.
"Are you going to do nothing? Tyler has become a monster! He's torturing people and killing them without any sign of remorse! And god knows what he's done to that poor little girl he kidnapped!"
Helan nodded in agreement,.
"He has no understanding of how to behave or make such important decisions on is own without aid. if that girl is allowed to stay with him, she'll only get hurt. Can you live with yourself if that were to happen?"
Emberis chuckled.
"Let's ask him ourselves. Tyler. Step forward."
"Sure Sire."
The team jumped as Tyler's voice was head behind them. Then they frowned hard as they saw his outfit choice and Sheria's outfit. The little blonde gulped as she dipped her head to the King.
Rose the princess gasped.
"You're so pretty!"
Sheria blushed hard.
"Thank you, Milady."
Tyler chuckled.
"Get a hug from her. here."
He set the small girl on her feet and Rose walked over and hugged the smaller girl,
"Oh my! You're so warm too!"
"Thank you Milady. You're warm too."
Now extremely embarrassed, the small blonde just looked at her feet awkwardly as the Queen smirked.
"I claimed him tonight, little missy. Sweetie. Perhaps you'd like a cuddle buddy."
Sheria gasped as Rose smiled sweetly.
"Thank you Mother. I'd love to."
"It's an honor Your Grace! Thank you!"
Tyler chuckled as he lifted Shera up.
"See? Everyone loves you!"
She giggled.
"Yup! I'm cute!"
"Damn straight."
There was a round of
From the onlookers as he hugged the smaller girl before she sat on his shoulder again. Emberis smiled.
"I see you've taken a liking to the small one, Tyler."
The Hero shrugged.
"I like her. Plus I kinda like the scary big brother gimmick."
Sheria laughed.
"Yay! I got a scary big brother!"
The hall laughed with the happy girl as his team frowned the harder. Sarah saying it.
"You have no idea how to raise a child, Tyler. Give her to us, or you'll get her hurt."
Tyler smirked.
"Remember what happened the LAST time you tried to take her from me? Don't try me. Now then."
Emberis had one last question.
"Is she a member of your party, Tyler?"
"She is, Sire. But NOT an active fighter. Not yet at least. Once we train her up a bit, she'll hold her own with us just the better."
Sheria smiled at that as the King nodded approvingly.
"I see you thought it through. And since you have a ranger AND a Snow Priestess in your party, two of the most proficient caregivers in the realm, I'll allow it."
"You didn't have a choice. Try an take her I dare you."
Tyler's eyes had gone ice cold and his long sword was in his fist while sheria was clinging to his bag with nervous eyes as the now angry Hero burned a hole in the king with his eyes. Emberis blinked at the flipping of the switch. The smiled widely.
"There it is! I'd know that look anywhere! Miss you picked a fine Hero to be your scary big brother. I apologize for the prod, Hero. I was merely seeing how you'd react."
"I wouldn't suggest a second attempt."
The sword was sheathed as his team were again horrified. Michelle doing the talking.
"He just threatened you! The King! NOW do you see what we mean? He's gone full psychopath! get that girl away from him or she'll wind up like him!"
The king laughed.
"You call him a psychopath, a monster and other such things. All I saw was an enraged brother protecting his little sister. If she DOES turn out like him, well, GOOD. We need more with that kinda fire in the realm."
"Just so long as she doesn't inherit my sense of humor."
Sheria giggled.
"I'm funny! YOU suck."
"Yikes. She's on her way already. eh. You cute so I'll let it go."
The King smiled at that one before looking at the team.
"YOU need to get out there and start training. Tyler does NOT need your help. And I am done hearing your cawing. This matter is closed. Tyler is NOT under your thumb anymore. He's under MINE. Kinda sorta."
"Glad you understand that."
"I'm not stupid. I know a Wolf when I see one. YOU are just a buncha cawing crows that have wasted far too much time trying to wrangle this fine young man back into submission. No longer. You are to leave my palace and get to work like the rest of the Heroes. And since you were so obsessed with HIS life, you will have to do so without so much as a guide. Begone."
The now outraged team were about to argue when the king looked to Tyler.
"Now. On to more important matters. Tyler, why DID you seek me out?"
"Sheria needs a fresh License since those bastards destroyed hers."
"Ah. I see. Step forward sweetie. And Tyler? I'll do this for free as a lesson since you forgot to ask. If your license is destroyed, you can get a new one from either myself, or any city ruler for a fee of 250 dragoons."
"Yikes. Okay. The licenses on bandits."
"sell them to the collection booths. They destroy them you see."
The boy looked to Thorn and she smiled.
"I was wondering when you'd get there. yes I have them."
"Atta cat."
Sheria walked up to the king with huge eyes and he smiled as he placed a hand on her head.
A card appeared in his free hand and she gasped as her old license appeared. The King smiled as he looked at it.
"Shera Goldenshroud. It fits."
She blushed as she got her license back.
"Thank you Sire."
The girl passed it to Tyler and he looked her skills and abilities over.
"Hmm. Woah. Cook, brew, harvest, and even flay. You're a cook?"
She smiled proudly.
"Yup! Mommy and pappy ran a small food wagon and I'd help make the meals."
"Nice. We got a company cook. That can be how you help until you get weapon skills under your belt."
"Kay! I like cooking!"
That got a laugh from the room as Tyler looked at the King.
"All I needed."
"Then the audience is ended."
Tyler and the girls walked out of the palace and the Hero looked at Thorn.
"I'd like to hit another bandit band if possible."
The ranger smiled.
"I marked a good spot on your map."
"Nice. we'll do some hunting too."
Sheria smiled as she sat on his shoulder.
"What do I do?"
"When the blood starts YOU hang back with Winter. She stays back in fights so it's your job to stay close."
Winter smiled.
"I usually cast a barrier spell before any other spell."
"Good call."
Sheria was humming as they walked to the lift and gulped as Tyler got on.
"You okay?"
she smiled nervously.
"I've never liked high places. They scare me."
He swept her down into a hug and found she was shaking.
"I got you."
She smiled and rested her head against his chest as her shaking stopped.
"Thanks big brother."
"I gotchya sparkles."
"That too!"
They laughed at her offended fury as his team got on the lift behind them. Tyler ignored them and brought Sheria over to the edge.
"Hey. Look."
She started shaking again but looked as he said to. Only to gasp as she saw the magnificent view from the plateau.
"It's beautiful!"
The view from the high point comprised of a vast green plain that stretched as far as the eye could see with more of the floating plateaus dotting the skyscape. There were even fluffy white clouds interspersed among the islands while on the ground the city stretched as well. Shera was gaping in awe at the sight and he smiled.
"Pretty epic innit it?"
"Yeah. Thanks for showing me."
He patted her long blonde hair fondly.
"Sure, Sheria. If you're ever scared, I'll try to help you, okay?"
She snuggled her head into his chest again and Winter smiled.
"She's got a wonderful big brother in you, Tyler."
"And the best big sisters in you and Thorn."
The catgirl smiled.
"I love that thought. Right Sheria?"
The blonde giggled.
"I wanna pet your ears!"
That made the ranger bust up laughing while Tyler just coolly observed her reaction, as he too wanted to do just that. Then the lady leaned in.
"Just don't be rough. You too, Tyler. I saw the way you reacted to them."
"Wow. Ha."
Shera gasped as she pet the sexy cat's ears.
"Oh wow, Thorn! I love them!"
The Nekosian was purring just like a cat as Sheria let her go and Tyler reached up next. The weeb blinked.
"Wow. I love your fur, Thorn."
Her purring increased tenfold as he applied a gentle pressure to scratch her ears fondly before letting her go. Thorn smiled as she put her had back on.
"That felt great. I guess you like cats."
"Yup. Thanks Thorn."
"You're not getting to touch the tail. It's...sensitive."
That made Sheria blush as she understood what the cat meant. The lift dropped and his team finally mustered up the will to walk over. Greg doing the talking.
"Go away."
"we're going to follow you."
"Good luck."
Thorn smirked.
"I can help."
"You da ranger. I'd prefer we lose them BEFORE we leave the city."
"Oh that's easy."
Winter smiled as Tyler looked at her.
"You destroy those banned items yet?"
"I need a fire for it to work properly. I'll do it tonight at the palace as wo too got permitted an extra night."
"Hm. We need a bigger tent. Think we can find something big out there Thorn?"
"Bear live in a nearby forest."
"That works."
Sheria took her place on his shoulder as the group left the lift. Thorn leading them down a side street with his angry team on their heels. Tyler smirked as she darted down a side alley and Winter followed. The four using sudden moves and turns to completely vanish into the city and left the team utterly confused. Then Thorn led them back onto the street they started at and chuckled.
"They won't find their way out for a while. Hell. even locals get lost in there."
"Thanks Thorn."
The group left the city on their hunt for bandits. Tyler had Sheria skipping along beside Winter as they neared the part of the road the bandits were said to hunt when an arrow bounced off his chainmail. He stopped and looked around confused as a group of ten men appeared in front of the with 5 more behind. Tyler smirked as he looked at the ten in front.
"I'll help Winter. You got them?"
The boy rushed with a sadistic grin as Thorn aided the Snow Priestess as Sheria just hid behind the legs of the white haired girl. Tyler deflected another arrow with his greave before reaching the first man who was wielding a shield and axe. The wily fighter merely used the shield as a springboard to launch the man backward and pull a perfect backflip into an easy stance before launching at a man with a dagger. He ran him through before reversing his grip and tearing the blade from the man's body in a manner that splattered blood into the eyes of the bandits closest to him. Blinding them momentarily. That allowed then warrior to reach one with a bow and stab him in the heart. Then the next came at him with a large axe and Tyler smiled as he sliced his throat with a wide swing. A man got behind the lone fighter and thrust with a spear. Only to have Tyler dance around the spearpoint and have it take another through the stomach. The spearmen died as well from a severed head and Tyler smiled as two remained. One had a mace and the other a longsword as well. The mace wielder rushed him but was easy prey for the nimble fighter as the last men smirked.
"Yer good kid. But you think ya can take me down?"
"Shouldn't be a problem."
The man smirked and the two fighters circled. Well. The man did while Tyler just stood there smiling like he hadn't a care in the world. Then the man got behind the cocky kid and lunged with a vicious thrust. Tyler still did not move until the very last second. And even then it was merely to step aside and grab the man's sword arm with a tug downwards plus a kick to the ankle. the result had him flipping onto his back with a thud.
"We're down here too!"
"I'm okay! that was fun!"
"Help the ladies loot please."
Tyler looked at the smirking man under his foot.
"Well played kid. So. Our camp?"
"I wonder."
He blinked as Tyler lifted his License into view.
"Thought so. Yorik the Sword. Reward is......woah. 2500. They don't like you very much do they? Okay. Alive? Wow. That's a first."
He looked at the now white faced man.
"So. Your camp?"
"I tell you, will you me go?"
"It's here."
He passed a map over and Tyler lifted his foot. The man got up, only for Tyler to knock him out with a headbutt. Thorn tilted her head.
"I thought you were a man o your word?"
"I said I would let him go. I let him go didn't I?"
Winter busted up laughing.
"He hoodwinked him! Oh that's precious!"
Tyler chuckled as he gagged and bound the man with some rope taken from another bandit's pack.
"I said i would let him go. I never said I'd let him leave."
Thorn smirked.
"You cunning bastard. That's a pirate trick."
"HA! The classic."
The girls then came over with their offerings.
"1500 dragoons, a few more potions, some skills, a spell, and their licenses. Their camp's not too far from here."
Sheria smiled as she showed her belt.
"I found another dagger I like."
"Nice. we'll teach you once we leave tomorrow."
Tyler carried the man as they went to the camp. There they found three more captive women. Winter and Sheria helped them recover with spells and hugs as Tyler and Thorn looted the place. Tyler finding a longsword the same size as his own but far lighter. He smiled as he added it to the loot pool with the further 3000 dragoons taken from the camp before they returned to the city with the three women in tow. They needing help walking as they were that exhausted. The man came to and Tyler smirked.
"You forgot to ask me to let you leave."
The man went white at that and was seen to start sobbing around his gag as the three women laughed at his anguish, somethin he himself had done to them. The party brought the ladies to the Snow temple where they were welcomed with open arms and rest before heading for the collection booth. Sheria happily bouncing while holding Thorn's hand in the bustling city as her seat had been claimed. Fera was still in her booth when they walked up, and she smiled.
"Welcome Hero. I see you weren't kidding."
"Hi Fera. Got a live one for yeah."
"Place him in the shackles please."
He did as requested and the man sobbed as the thing rotated and Fera smiled.
"Yorick. 2500 dragoons. Anything else Hero?"
He slid the 30 Licenses onto the tray.
"just the idiot's Licenses."
"Ah. 30 nets you a further 1500 dragoons. well done, Hero."
"Thanks Fera."
The money retrieved the party headed for the nearby inn for loot splitting. Tyler had Sheria on his shoulder again and she was loving the feeling of being tall as the blonde had to duck to fit through the door.
"THERE you are!"
Only for his team to be sitting around a table with sullen looks on their faces. Tyler ignored them as the matron of the inn smiled.
"Same as before?"
"I think we're getting predictable. Yes please."
"Ha. it be where ya left it."
They went up and his team finished their meal in a hurry to follow them. Tyler locked the door behind them and Winter lifted her white tipped staff.
"Protective Ward."
The friends were bathed in a white light before the walls also glowed white as the ward spell took effect. Sheria was sitting on a bed next to Tyler and in danger of falling asleep. He smiled.
"Take a nap, sheria. You earned it."
She smiled tiredly and rested her head on his lap for a pillow before passing the fuck out right there. He draped a blanket over her small form as the girls all fought with the cute of the sight of the boy that was no less then four times the little blonde's size showing such tenderness. Once Sheria was tucked in did the loot get laid out on the floor. Tyler smiling as he lifted the longsword.
"I'll take this one. It feels stronger then my other blade."
Thorn smiled as well.
"That's because that's made from the scales of a dragul. Or undead drake. The usual cost of a sword like that is 10,000 dragoons and takes about a day to make properly. I've no problems."
Tyler sheathed it over his shoulder and took his old blade out for an inspection; all the while the soft breaths of the sleeping blonde were heard beside him.
"Good thing too. Look."
Winter and Thorn spotted the issue right away.
"There's a hairline fracture along the spine of the sword."
"I am amazed it hasn't snapped by now. Sell it to a smithy."
"I'll keep the hilt though. My first blade you know."
They smiled at the sentiment as the skills were laid out. Tyler spotting one.
"Rapid lunge. A one handed skill that doubles the speed of a lunging thrust for a single attack. I can so use that."
Winter smiled.
"You ARE our only melee warrior. Makes sense."
Thorn chuckled.
"I prefer the lance after my bow."
Tyler added the skill to his license as Winter spotted one.
"Detection. Does what it says. I'll take that as my senses are sharp already."
The skills were divvyed up and next were the spells. Tyler spotting one he liked.
"Mudshot. The mud version of a fireball. I can use that. I need more spells."
Thorn and Winter nodded.
"I can teach you to cast more efficiently if you like."
"Thanks Winter."
He added the spell as Sheria rolled in her sleep and snuggled more against the Hero.
He smiled as he patted the sleeping girl. Thorn sighed happily.
"she looks so cute like that."
Tyler smiled as he pulled the blanket over her small frame.
"She does. We'll take good care of her."
"We will."
The warrior looked at the pile and blinked.
"Threatening fake?"
Winter smiled.
"It lowers the perceived threat of the caster. It's also used to make the caster less noticeable."
They nodded and he set the spell aside. The spells were divvyed up and last was the dragoons. Tyler frowning as he played calculator.
"Okay. This run we made 10,676 dragoons. we have 2,176 dragoons in the party fund. Half the run goes to party. So that's 5,338. So now we got 7,514 dragoons. Not bad."
Thorn smiled.
"That's rather low end. We work hard, so we'll be fine. but the average party of four has close to 500,000 dragoons for the party."
Tyler then looked to shares.
"5,338 divided by 3 is 1,779 with one extra coin to party."
They took their shares and Tyler added the extra to party. I got 2,410 dragoons. Tyler looked down at Sheria and saw her open her blue eyes with a yawn.
"Morning Sparkles."
"You too!"
she growled as the other two laughed.
"My name is Sheria!"
"Yet your eyes sparkle. It’s a nickname."
"Oooooooh. okay."
She was blushing slightly at the complement as the friend all smiled at her cute. Tyler patted her.
"feel better/"
The blonde nodded.
"Much better. We leaving?"
"Yeah. We got a lot of work to do still."
She sat up and stretched, getting a line of small pops and cracks that made the other two ladies blink.
"Are you okay, Sheria?"
she giggled.
"It tickles!"
Tyler sat her on his shoulder and the party left the room. The tall warrior looked at Thorn.
"we'll head to the smithy first and see about selling my blade and that dagger."
"I can get a refill on arrows. I think the last guy stiffed me on quality."
"Can I see one?"
she passed him a shaft and he chuckled.
"Oh he screwed you. The freakin head's not even on right!"
The catgirl blinked.
He showed her.
"See the binding? Look at how freakin loose it is! Plus he used the wrong wood too. see the bend with a I flex it? It's not supposed to bend."
Now infuriated the ranger's tail lashed.
"I KNEW that bastard was playing games! Dammit!'
The friends laughed at her fury as they walked down the stairs to see the team once again get in their way. Sheria yawned and Michelle glared at him.
"What did you do to her?"
Tyler and the three ignored them and walked out the front door of the inn with Thorn leading the way to the nearby smithy. They walked in and found a dwarf behind the counter. Tyler chuckled at the sight.
"THIS is the place you wanna go to, Thorn."
The ranger grumbled as the dwarf chuckled.
"She got jipped/"
Tyler passed him an arrow and the shorter man burst out laughing.
"Oh you poor girl! Ha! You got hoodwinked hard!"
The ranger just walked away as her well-earned ribbing ended. Tyler then took his old longsword off his back.
"Got a dead blade here looking to see what I can get for it."
The smith nodded as soon as he saw the blade.
"That fracture. Yeah that'll do it. How's 100 dragoons sound?"
"Is it possible to get the hilt? Was my first blade after all."
A twinkle appeared in the dwarf's eye at that.
"Ya can lad. And it be 50 dragoons. And it is a rare thing indeed to see a young Hero that truly values their equipment."
Tyler got the coins and the sword hilt that had been altered into a more decorative item before placing the dagger on the counter. The dwarf nodded.
"An enchanted dagger of stun. 350."
Thorn came over with a fresh quiver of arrows and Tyler went to look at skills while Shera was with Winter looking at smaller weapons. The Hero smiled.
"Nice. I got prospect and Mine here. There be good coin in hitting rock."
Winter smiled.
"There be. Should we get Sheria a pack as well?"
"That's our next stop. she can help carry stuff. Plus all she really needs skill wise is skin."
Thorn smiled.
"I know a forest nearby with plenty of game for us to practice on."
"That works."
Sheria lifted a shortsword off a rack and smiled.
"I love how this feels!"
Tyler looked over and saw her with the 3 foot blade.
"That can be your main weapon."
Winter looked at the price.
"1500 dragoons though."
"Let me see."
Tyler took the small weapon and held it out to feel the weight.
"Worth it. I can tell already."
The dwarf laughed.
"ya know quality when ya see it! Good on ya!"
Tyler smiled as he added the sword to the counter with the skills. The dwarf smiled.
Tyler paid the 250 from his coin before using party to pay for Shera’s new sword. The blonde was glowing as he strapped the blade over her back like his was. Then she hugged him hard.
"Thank you big brother."
"We'll teach you to use it well, Shera. You're welcome."
She sat on his shoulder again as Tyler bought a pickaxe for 125 dragoons. Then they were off to the general store. Though as they walked out his team appeared to harass them. Helan this time doing the talking.
"where are you taking her?"
Again they ignored them as the friends went to the general store. The woman smiled as they walked in.
"Me or that?"
She laughed at that.
"Then I'm afraid you'll be disappointed, Tyler. I'm still weak from the last."
"Happy to satisfy you Mya."
Ohhh she shivered!
They laughed as his team walked in after having followed him. The woman smiled.
"How may I assist you/"
"We're here to make sure he doesn't hurt her."
"Sheria? Pff. She's got that man wrapped around her tiny finger."
Tyler smirked.
"Sadly? She's right."
The blonde laughed.
"Good horsy!"
"Oh yeah. You got legs."
He set her down on her feet and she bawled
"Hey! I was comfy! Mean!"
"Rides are only for the girls that DON'T let it go to their heads."
She blinked,
"Better. And you can't expect me to carry you all the time."
That made her smile.
"I guess not."
"Just stay close, okay/"
She took his hand as they looked at packs in her size as Mya smiled fondly.
"She's got a most wonderful brother in that man. I'm jealous!"
Winter smiled as she came over with a pack,
"This is her size."
Sheria put it on and blinked.
"Wow. It's more comfy then I thought."
"Plus with how I'll teach you to load it? You'd be amazed."
"Thanks Tyler!"
"You'll get there."
Mya smiled.
"That's 120 dragoons."
Tyler walked over and kissed her hard.
"Paid in full?"
She laughed.
"Nice try you charming bastard!"
He kissed her again.
"How bout now?"
"I WILL riase that price."
"Good boy. And one more."
She got one more kiss as he paid her.
"There. Paid in full."
"I hate you!"
The party laughed at the ploy while his team were appalled. Michelle being the one.
"How dare you? He's 15!"
everyone ignored them as the party left.
"See ya next time Mya!"
"Bye, Tyler! You BETTER bring that cutie back to visit!"
"Yes Mya!"
"I hate you!"
The friends laughed as they left the store and his dumbfounded team behind. Tyler looked at the walking girl beside him.
"How's it feel?"
Sheria shrugged her pack for comfort.
"Weird. I've never had to carry a pack before."
"You get used to it."
His team came running up.
"Alright that's it. Tyler! Enough! This escapade ends now!"
Tyler sighed and was about to reply when a runner came up.
"Hail! I seek the Hero known as Tyler!"
"Here lad."
The boy smiled.
"Sir! The King wishes you attend him."
"Oh shit. Thanks kid."
Tyler gave him 50 dragoons, and the kid blinked.
"Say another word and it'll be 75."
"I like this kid!"
He ran off 75 dragoons richer and Thorn smirked.
"That was a very wise move."
"Why I did it. Watch. Any messages we get he'll come running."
They headed to the lift as Greg grabbed his arm.
"Enough dammit! You are NOT going around like this! Now stop pretending our rules don't apply anymore!"
Tyler tore his arm loose and walked off with the girls, utterly ignoring the group. Sheria gulped.
"Tyler? Why does the king want us?"
"Probably needs something looked into."
"Oh. I'm worried."
HE hugged her.
"It's fine. He can't really attack us or kill us as he needs us to fight his battles for him. and he knows it."
The blonde smiled as they got on the lift with the team just BARELY making the membrane closing. Tyler smiled as Sheria looked out the clear membrane at the sights from the heights with clear awe and amazement. Winter smiling as the Snow priestess enjoyed the peace and Thorn looking her arrows over. His team caught on the other side of the crowd heading up and unable to move towards the party. The friends walked into the palace with Sheria holding Tyler's hand and over to the throne where the King sat with his Queen. Rose and Spark the prince were gone for once and Tyler smirked. I'll try to catch the princess in one of those gardens. The King smiled as the Hero approached.
"I see you got my runner."
"That kid moves fast. So, need lessons Sire?"
Iris busted up laughing at that as Emberis fumed at that kick to the balls. Then he smiled ruefully.
"That hurt. Most impressive."
"I like insulting people."
"ya got a talent. I summoned you for a task."
Tyler blinked as the King passed a map over.
"I want that den cleared out."
The den was inside the city and against a wall.
"Indeed. I wanted to send my knights, but my WIFE made a valid point on saying the heroes could use the blood practice."
"And I popped up first. nice to see MY Queen has a brain. Rewards?"
The King smirked as Iris laughed at the pissing contest.
"Any loot you find inside you may claim for the party. As well as my gratitude."
"Alright. Any survivors?"
"if they have a bounty you may claim it. But for this hole, none."
"Alright. Seems simple enough. See you tonight Iris."
"I'm aching for it."
"So am I."
Emberis blinked, before nearly exploding as he saw HE'D lost the match that time! The Queen just smiled as her husband was outplayed by the Hero. Tyler walked out as the king sighed.
"You win this time you lady stealing bastard. I'll win the war!"
"We'll see."
The queen laughed hard at that one as Tyler passed the map to Thorn.
"I know this place. It's in the slums."
"Alrighty then. I like fighting smugglers. Never know what ya might find. Sheria, on guard."
"I am, brother."
"Good sparkles."
She giggled as his team came rushing with looks of horror on their faces. Greg grabbing his arm.
"You are NOT taking her to a fight! L-'
Tyler slugged him in the teeth and knocked him the fuck out. Now angry he glared at the others.
"I am NOT letting you endanger my friends or my sister. Push it, and I'll take your fucking heads off."
The boy turned on his heel and walked onto the lift as Helan cast a healing spell to bring Greg around. Then they followed onto the lift as Tyler looked at the spot on the map with the girls.
"Okay. A smuggler den can have anywhere up to 40 men. The good ones at least. Winter. i want you to be on the look out for banned spells and other crap."
"Right. I have a night sight buff if we have to fight in the dark."
"Sheria stay by winter's side."
"I'll get in their faces and Thorn? Don't miss."
They walked off the lift and headed to the spot with Sheria holding Winter's hand with Tyler in the lead and Thorn pointing the way. The warrior's team following along with determined looks on their faces. Tyler smirked as they crossed into the slums.
"Hm. Yeah I'm seeing snakes everywhere."
The rundown buildings and sickly people all over the place eyeing them made Sheria nervous. Tyler smiled at her over his shoulder.
"we gotchya."
She sighed and forced her nerves down to walk confidently next to winter.
"atta girl. Rule of thumb in any city. Don't ACT like prey. If YOU act like you can handle yourself, then 9 out of every ten idiots will leave you alone. It's the tenth you need to worry about."
She nodded at that.
"I'll be careful."
Winter squeezed her hand as the found the large tunnel into the wall that made up the den. Tyler chuckled.
"No way is this not rigged."
"I would not suggest going further, Hero."
a man in a silken outfit walked into view with a pouch. Tyler smiled.
"I see. What's your offer?"
"50,000 and you leave us in peace."
The man passed the pouch over and Tyler stabbed him in the chest.
"One piece it will be. Should said to just leave."
The man died as Tyler looked at Winter with sounds of a mass of men rushing the party were heard.
"Freeze the water please."
The Snow priestess smiled as she slammed her staff in the small pool of water running into the tunnel.
"Frozen Cone!"
The water was frozen solid along with the legs of all the would be attacks. Tyler and Thorn made short work of them with single stabs and slit throats before the last died. His team were horrified by the efficient slaughter. Tyler smiled as he spared one man.
The blonde came running and he nodded to the trapped man.
"Here's your first lesson."
"I'll do my best!"
"Not that type. It's a killing lesson. The heart is here."
Tyler pointed to a spot on the man's chest and the blonde screwed up her face in concentration as she stabbed the spot with her shortsword. The man died instantly and she smiled.
"was that good?"
"Perfect. YOU get a share this time. Once you learn the various vital points on a person's body we'll move on to hitting them in a fight."
Thorn smiled.
"That's how I was trained! All the freakin moves in the world won't help you if you don't know what you're aiming for."
"My thoughts exactly. Alright. Sheria, help winter loot."
The blonde smiled as Tyler cleaned her shortsword before helping the looting. The Hero pulling his License to check the silken man's face.
"Got one. Hark. Reward is....HOLY. 25k."
Thorn blinked.
"Dead or alive?"
"Alive. Dead is...Jesus. 50!"
"Oh my gods. We need to see the King to collect that kinda bounty."
"HOLY. Yeah I like smuggler's dens."
Sheria smiled.
"we're done. 3500 dragoons and some poisons. No skills or spells though."
"Let's check the storeroom now."
The blonde smiled happily as they went into the dark, when Greg spoke in a furious tone.
"You killed in front of that girl. And MADE HER KILL."
"Deal with it."
The on the fly retort and utter matter-of-fact tone made them the angrier. Tyler and the others ignored them as he dragged the dead guy along the frozen waterway.
"How long does the ice last, Winter?"
She tilted her head.
"About two hours? and when it melts it'll be pure."
"Neat trick. we get caught by a muddy river with no water you can snapfeeze it."
"It's a common practice for Snow Priestesses to purify water wherever we go as water is sacred to our sect."
"Ice is made from water. makes sense."
They came upon a large door that Tyler and Thorn looked over for wires when Sheria smiled.
"Here. i found these while searching the bounty."
He smiled as he took the key.
"Nice one, Sparkles! Good find."
The door unlocked the boy smirked as he saw what was inside.
"Nice. We got the office for the route. All papers we funnel to the king."
The friends got to searching with a will as Tyler went over to the large desk with a key hole on the center drawer. The key fit the lock and it opened with a click. Inside was another key, a small packet of papers, another coin purse, and a pocket watch. Tyler took the watch and Thorn blinked.
"That thing's a reginold!"
"It valuable?"
"It's easily worth 75k!"
Thorn walked over as Tyler popped it open and heard the ticking.
"We need to give that to the king. It's got the royal seal."
Tyler looked at the crest of two whirling flames intertwining and nodded.
"Alright then. I'm thinking this place has a nasty secret."
"Got a chest!"
Tyler walked over with the extra key and found it fit perfectly. He opened it to find a mass of dragoons, some potions, four scrolls, and another packet of papers. Winter looked at the spell scrolls,
"Paralyze, mind flicker, Aroused Poke, and Mental Nudge. Two banned, a sex spell, and a paralysis."
"We can use the paralyze as a surprise breather in a pinch. What's the sex spell do?"
Thorn took it.
"It's more a seduction spell then an outright sex spell. It's harmless as it merely pokes the arousal of a target instead of FORCING the target to be aroused."
The chest was closed the locked before Tyler spotted a set of wheels.
"That's convenient. Where are we on paperwork?"
Winter passed him a thick pile.
"All we found."
The hero spent a few minutes looking them over.
"routes, bribed nobles, manifests of goods, clients, storage rooms, and contacts. Not bad. Guy may've been a bastard but he ran a tight ship. Anything else of value?"
Sheria passed a pouch.
"another 15k dragoons, and a dagger."
"Hmm. Not bad all things considered. Okay. we'll turn in the papers and the dead guy before we split. we're gonna need a bigger pouch."
They laughed as he unlocked the wheels before giving a once over of the room, and finding nothing. Then Tyler walked out with Sheria riding on the wagon like chest as Tyler pulled it for her. The dead guy still being dragged by Thorn this time as they came out of the tunnel to see a wall of guards with his team pointing at them.
"Them! They killed them and he made that little girl kill someone!"
The captain of the guard walked over to Tyler,
"Hero. Explain the ice and bodies."
"A smuggler den got my eye. My Snow priestess here turned the water to ice to trap the idiots. And The blonde cutie got her first lesson."
"Ah. She do okay/"
"Was more pointing out vital points to aim for."
"Me captain taught me that when I was a boy! Listen well Missy, he knows what he's doin!"
Sheria bowed her head a little.
"I will Sir!"
"She's got fire that one!"
"Ya damn straight she does! We good?"
"Did you get them all?"
Tyler sighed.
"I don't think so. That's a rat den."
"I see. we will step up patrols in this area until we know one way or the other. Now the ice?"
Winter smiled,
"I used one of my ice spells on it Sir. Two hours tops."
"And the entire slums water supply will be purified to boot. Thankee kindly Lady Ice."
The captain saw the dead guy in Thorn's hand.
"We'll not keep you. Thankee kindly Hero."
"Sure. I like fighting these idiots."
The party left the flabbergasted team with the guard and headed to the palace. The King and Queen were on their thrones as Tyler dropped the dead guy.
"Got a biggee."
Emberis blinked.
"I know this dog. Hark? What else did you find?"
Tyler's team came in behind them as Tyler took the watch from a pocket.
"I found this, Sire. Thorn said to give it to you as it bare the royal seal."
The king took it and popped it open.
"By the gods. My father's watch! what else was found with this?"
The dagger and packet of papers with the small coin purse were passed to the king. He sighed deeply as he saw the dagger.
"I'd know that flame style blade anywhere. That's my father's knife. It was to be mine when I ascended the throne, but alas he was murdered by an assassin and his office badges stolen. It is good to have them back."
Tyler smiled as he passed the thicker packet of papers over.
"These were also found in the office, sire."
The king spent ten minutes going over the documents.
"I see. You're thorough. That's good. With these we have leads on upwards of fifteen more dens, 20 corrupt nobles, and more. i expected the den to be fruitful, but I did not expect this."
Tyler shrugged.
"Ba amazed what you can find in a rat den."
The king nodded at that.
"Indeed. I trust you seek the bounty?"
"I do."
"It be 50,000 dragoons."
Erice the elven maid came over with a pouch the king then presented to Tyler.
"That also holds 250,000 extra dragoons as it be a party pouch."
"Nice. We needed an upgrade anyway."
Tyler leered at the Queen.
"Nice to have a royal hookup."
Iris smiled widely at his ploy and Emberis sighed,
"Lady stealing bastard. You work hard Tyler. My faith was well placed."
"You find anymore rat dens, let us know, Sire. I enjoy these fights."
"I shall keep that in mind. Would you like a room to divvy up the loot?"
Tyler smiled as he looked at the Queen again.
"We'd need our OWN room as she be a most priceless treasure indeed. Oh you mean the coin? Yes please."
There was a mass of whistles at that eloquence as Iris smiled. Emberis?
"How did you just do that?"
"I got ways. Right Iris?"
she shivered as the memory flooded her mind. The King sighed.
"Dammit. I lost again!"
"Get good."
Erice laughed as she showed the party to a separate room for splitting the coin.
"I have never seen her grace so flustered before by pretty words, Tyler."
"She knows what I can do to her. it helps."
Sheria was still riding on the treasure chest as the elven maid opened the door.
"Thanks Erice."
"It is always good to see you, Tyler."
The coin was put into the middle of the group as Winter cast her ward spells. Tyler sat on the bed and Sheria rested her head on his lap for another nap as the party divvyed up the coin.
"Okay. This time we made 128,000 BEFORE we factor in the chest. It alone holds an extra 100k."
Thorn smiled.
"We can book an airship to a neighboring city with that much."
"I'd prefer a high end upgrade across the board."
"That actually works the better. You're thinking. Good."
Tyler smiled.
"Okay. 228,000 cut in half is 114,250. That gets added to party coin. 114,250 divided by FOUR is 28,562 dragoons with one extra coin. I'll add that to Sheria's share."
The girls smiled at that as Shera slumbered comfortably. Tyler smiled as he now had 30,771 dragoons to his name. The party had 120,264 dragoons. once the money was accounted for Winter took the banned items to a nearby fire grate and placed them inside as she cast a spell.
"Frigid Sanctity."
The fire glowed white as the items melted into white steam that was filter out of the chimney Tyler smiled as Sheria slept the entire time.
"Alright then. We'll do one last run today before we call it."
Thorn pulled her map out.
"Where ARE we going?"
Tyler looked at the ranger's map and at the various directions they had to choose from.
"Could always place my dagger on the ground and spin it."
She and Winter laughed.
"That's how I chose this direction! Ha! That's hilarious."
Tyler chuckled.
"We have to return here for the wave?"
Thorn answered.
"We do. This city is the staging ground for the Heroes time around. We'll be transported to the battlefield via a mass teleport."
"So as long as we don't go TOO far we'll be fine."
Tyler looked at the map.
The warrior then noticed one city.
"This one here, Dragel."
Thorn smiled.
"The city of the golden fields. it's a beautiful city that loves the color gold. Plus has some of the best variety for monsters out there."
"Good. we'll head there then."
Thorn smiled and made a mark on her map.
"We can hunt along the way too. Various big game also call the plains home."
"Good deal. Okay. Let's see about another hunt."
Thorn smiled.
"Let's hit the local dungeon. You need monster blood."
"Agreed. What type a monsters we dealing with?"
"A kobold den."
"That works."
Sheria sat up yawning.
"we moving/"
"Yup. here Sparkles."
She smiled happily as she got her share of the coin.
"yay! I helped!"
They laughed as she hid the pouch in her pants before they walked out of the room. The chest having shattered to dust. The King smiled as they reappeared.
"I see you're not one of the parties that fights over loot."
Tyler smiled as well.
"Nope. we know what we get. I don't stand for greed when i need you to watch my back."
"Harsh, yet firm. Good on ya."
They walked out as Michelle confronted him AGAIN.
"And HOW much did you screw her over for?"
AGAIN they ignored her as the party went to the lift. Tyler looked at Thorn.
"What are kobolds like here/"
The catgirl smiled.
"Think rats the size of Winter there, but with half the brains."
"Winter's smart, so must they."
The white haired girl smiled.
"Thank you. But Kobolds are legendary idiots. Only the hill giants are the more stupid."
"So Sheria can get more practice. She's smart!"
Thorn smiled.
"Only two at a time max. Kobolds are the usual fodder used to train recruits."
"Sounds about right. You okay Sparkles?"
She nodded excitedly.
"Yup! I'll do my best!"
"Atta girl! We'll be right there to help you every step you take."
She hugged him as a voice was heard behind them.
Tyler looked to see his team for the umpteenth time trying to but in, but Shera just climbed up Tyler's leg to sit on his shoulder.
"Wow. She's a climber. Interesting."
Sheria smiled.
"My dexterity is 150."
"wow. I think we can have her gather fruit and nuts from trees."
Thorn smiled.
"I love that idea. we find a good fruit tree I'll take her up to teach her how to forage."
The blonde smiled eagerly as they got off the lift and Tyler noticed a large ship hanging from balloons drifting by overhead.
"That an airship?"
Thorn smiled.
"Yeah. They go by all the time."
"How much for a trip?"
"Where we're going? 100,000 for the four of us."
"We'll do that then. Never been on a ship before, so win-win."
Sheria gulped at the thought, and earned herself a leg pat.
"You'll be fine, Sheria."
The friends left the city from another wallgate with Thorn leading the way and his team fighting to keep up with the more fit party. Tyler bouncing Shera on his shoulder making her giggle with each bounce before the catgirl ranger pointed out a large structure with groups of people walking in or out.
"There's the Rat's Den dungeon. They refill whenever a party exits as they be magical places."
"Neat trick. Rides over Sheria."
She hopped down and went for her shortsword,
"Not yet, Sheria."
She looked at Tyler curiously.
"why? We're about to go in, right?"
"We are, but remember this, NEVER draw steel unless you have a reason to. Just having it out to have it out won't cut it. Okay?"
She frowned.
"I don't understand, big brother. You had your blade out a buncha times."
"And did I DO something with it?"
The blonde ran the times through her mind.
"Oooh. You always had something to use the blade for."
"Exactly. Swords are NOT toys to brandish carelessly. You have to respect your weapon or it won't respect you. if your weapon doesn't respect you, then the accidents start to happen."
The blonde smiled.
"I get it. Sorry, big brother."
"It's the very first lesson you need to take to heart, Sheria. We all had to learn this, right Thorn, Winter?"
The ranger smiled,
"You sounded just like my Master Tyler. That was the very first lesson he drilled into our heads. before you learn to draw a sword, you must first learn WHEN to draw a sword."
Winter nodded.
"My Mother would have LOVED having you as her Drop. You're right too. I wasn't allowed to even hold a spell until I had come to properly appreciate the water I sought to control. Sheria is going to be just fine."
Tyler smiled as they passed another group of adventurers.
"Hey buddy, how's the rats downtown?"
The boy smiled.
"Stupid and plentiful. it be a good day to raid the dungeon."
"Thanks man."
Tyler took point and as they descended into the dark he drew his sword, which Shera copied. Behind him his team followed thirty feet back, and Thorn smirked.
"Oh this is gonna be bad. They register as a separate party at that distance."
Tyler smiled as he kept his eyes front.
"we’re not helping-Stop!"
The groups stopped on a dime at his alarm, and Thorn was ready with her bow,
"what is it?"
"Freakin tripwire! That's not cool man1"
Sure enough, a hair thin wire snaked across the floor just beyond a crack in the stone floor. if you were NOT looking for it, you'd never see it. Sheria blinked.
"woah. How'd you see that up there?"
Tyler smiled as he looked at the anchor points.
"Not my first time with a tripwire. Thorn, think you can disarm it?"
She smirked as she looked at it.
"Easily. Here. I'll teach you two."
The catgirl pointed to a small dip in the wire and gestured to Sheria.
"Take your knife and cut it there. The mechanism will release safely."
The blonde gulped but complied and cut the wire. There was a click and a small pouch dropped from the ceiling which Tyler caught. He smiled.
"10k. Sheria."
He tossed the thing to the glowing blonde.
She got a fond pat as the party got moving with his team following behind them. Tyler and Thorn working together to spot traps for him and Sheria to practice disarming with each reward ppouch passed to the one that disarmed the trap. Tyler smiled as he tossed the latest disarm to Sheria as a loud skittering was heard from behind them. They looked to see a large number of the rat like creatures had appeared from behind his team. Tyler smirked as they screamed in horror at the sight of the things and to run down a side passage only for another mass of the 3 foot rat men to swarm out to attack Tyler's party.
"Sheria with Winter!"
"I got her!~"
The warrior pulled his sword as his team tried to reason with the pausing rats on their end. Helan doing the talking.
"We're not here to hurt you, we're just observing theeeeeeee! Help!"
Only for the monsters to lunge en mass upon the therapist and set their teeth into her unprotected flesh as the rest were galvanized into action and started swinging their weapons wildly and without any form of direction. Tyler growled as he saw this.
"Go! we stay near them we die!"
Thorn growled as the party dropped back as they sought to distance themselves from the idiots that had followed them. The friends fell around a corner and Tyler planted his feet in the wide hallway as the screams of utter panic and fear echoed from the others as the group of kobolds came around the corner. Tyler smiled,
His spell killing four outright and blinding a further ten as Thorn shot three arrows from her bow, piercing five on the flight path. Sheria darted around the two and slashed two in the chest like a person, killing the rats before darting back to Winter's side.
"Atta girl Sparkles!"
Winter waved her staff.
"Frozen sleet!"
Tyler smiled as a mass of flying icicles impacted into the rats, killing the survivors. Then their fight ended.
"We good?"
Winter smiled.
"My mana is good. it was one spell after all."
Thorn was retrieving her arrows.
"Not bad for a rat den. Only lost the one shaft."
"You run out I got my quiver as a backup."
"I'll keep that in mind."
Sheria smiled.
"I killed two! Alone!"
They patted her happily,.
"Atta sparkle! Just give a yell when you do that rush. We're a team, okay?"
She nodded.
"I will. That was fun!"
Thorn smiled as she pulled her knife.
"The tails on them can net us some good coin at the loot shop. I got this if you wanna go make a point."
"Sure. winter you can practice your spells."
The trio left the capable catgirl to the grisly task as they went to check on the others. Tyler laughed as he saw the results of the their very first deathmatch. everyone was covered in rat bites, Greg had a broken arm, Michelle was sitting on the floor traumatized by the near death experience, Helan was bleeding from numerous wounds, Sarah had been feasted on a bit from the hungry rats and her arm was broken, and Sherry was on the floor twitching. Winter gave a disgusted snort.
"You got attacked by a mere 20 rats! Any idiot can kill 20 rats without a scratch and no training. Oh for the love of the Snow you're all hopeless."
Tyler and the Snow priestess cast their spells and the team were healed of mental injury and physical injury. Then Winter got to gathering the tails as Tyler smirked.
"See? You idiots were nearly eaten alive by three foot rats. And if you keep following us, the monsters are only gonna get meaner."
Michelle had recovered enough.
"You need to come with us. It's not safe in here."
"Oh for the love of the gods. NO. Okay. YOU can follow us in here. But we are NOT helping you again."
Sheria perked up.
"What's this?"
He looked as the small blonde passed him a golden furred rat.
"Hm. No clue. Winter?"
The white haired girl looked over and blinked.
"That's a Gilted Rat! Very rare. Take the pelt, Tyler. It's worth 1500 dragoons at the shop."
"It worth keeping/"
"Not really. It's a pure sell type of loot as it's used to decorate."
"Ah. We'll claim this as our payment for helping them."
Winter frowned.
"My Snow."
"Correction. I'LL claim it."
Sheria laughed as the last of the rats were skinned. Tyler went to walk back to Thorn when Michelle grabbed his arm,
"You are NOT going down there! last warning!"
He tore his arm free and walked along the hall with the girls. Fed up with his defiance, the woman raised her staff.
Tyler merely looked over his shoulder as the spell had no effect but to get him wet.
"Lady. Get a life."
winter cast her own spell.
"Frozen restore."
The water in his clothes was frozen and removed. He blinked.
"Neat trick."
"Thank you. Come on. Thorn should be done by now."
The three left the shocked woman with the others and rejoined the ranger as she finished up tying the snake like tails of the rats together. She smiled.
"How bad?"
Winter sighed with disgust.
"They were eaten alive by 20 rats!"
"Oh my gods. Did they learn anything?"
"Nope. Got a gilted rat though."
"That's a plus. Come on."
Tyler filled Sheria's pack with the light weight tails and the single pelt, making her smile at being able to help before they went deeper into the dungeon. They walked along the halls of the stone dungeon for a while before finding a large door set into the wall.
"Boss room?"
Thorn smiled.
"Most likely."
The Hero booted it open and inside was a large circular chamber with a ten foot tall ratman wielding a battleaxe surrounded by a legion of the normal rats. Tyler smirked.
"Winter. Freeze the floor."
"Thorn. The eyes."
"Got it."
"And Sheria?"
She looked at him with huge blue eyes.
"Be cute."
The blonde took her spot by Winter as the mage lifted her staff.
"May the very ground you walk betray you: Frozen Wastes!"
She slammed her staff down with authority and a mass of ice exploded out from under it to blanket the entirety of the arena floor. Tyler smiled as his spiked boots poked enough holes in the ice he didn't have any trouble as he rushed into the mass of rats,
He ignored the yell of terror from Michelle as he started carving the rats before him three at a time as Thorn kept the bigger rat off balance with her arrows. Winter was then outlined in a white light as her staff glowed.
"Behold the frozen truth: Cold Spear!"
A mass of razor sharp icicles surged out of her staff impaling rats all around the lone warrior as he faced the horde 20 at a time. sheria was watching how he placed his booted feet and saw the rhythm.
"My turn!"
"I got you."
The blonde rushed forward with her shortsword and mirrored the bigger boy's movements as she stabbed one rat in the chest before pivoting on her leg to nearly cut the thing in half before continuing the cut in a manner that sliced clean through four more while splashing blood into the eyes of five more rats. The blonde then hopped backwards as the rats sought to counterattack, only for a spell from Winter to provide an opening as the frozen wall slammed into the rats head on. Tyler yelled out then.
"Make a funnel with that thing, Winter!"
She raised two walls of ice that would funnel the rat horde at Shera two at a time, and Thorn smiled as she saw the set up. Tyler was surrounded by the rats but was not in any danger as the ratman was fight to even stand while the res of the horde were funneled to Shera's shortsword in a manner she'd get easy kills, Thorn could support her with arrows, and Winter could still cast high tier spells. The blonde smiling widely as she took the rats two at a time until Thorn yelled,
"Sheria! Rest!"
Winter had a spell ready.
"Winter's breath!"
The trapped rats were hit by a frozen cone of air the snow priestess breathed from her mouth, freezing no fewer then 3 quarters of the remaining rats in the run into solid statues. The remaining rats fell to Tyler's sword as the ice under their feet melted and the surviving ratman screeched as it hefted it's massive 6 foot axe with a 3 foot wide double head. The boy smiled.
"Rapid lunge!"
He surged forward at the speed of a tempest and the rat was utterly unprepared as the boy stabbed the longsword into the rat's chest. The thing squeaked once before falling over dead as a doornail. Tyler smiled as he looked over at his friends.
"We good?"
Sheria was panting hard from the battle,
"I'm good, big brother! Tired though."
"Last run a the day, Sparkles. And you did great out there."
She smiled proudly as Winter spoke next.
"I used some high level spells there. I need to rest as well and visit my Snow."
The ranger was retrieving arrows.
"I'm good. No wounds. You?":
"Not a scratch. I can eat these idiots for breakfast. Alright ladies. Loot up."
The friends laughed as Michelle's voice was heard.
"You reckless idiot! Are you trying to get yourself killed?"
Tyler rubbed his eyes tiredly as he looked at the now shrunken axe of the rat man.
"This was just fodder. Like the easiest of the easy. And we're gonna have to fight our way out too."
The boy hefted the greataxe and Thorn smiled.
"That's made from blacksteel. Think the metal equivalent to your longsword."
"Nasty. I kinda like it, but am not sure whether to try it out or just sell it."
"I'd say sell. If you want to experiment with different weapons, master the ones you have first."
"Thanks Thorn!"
He slung the thing on his back as Winter smiled.
"The ratman's tail and pelt are worth a lot at the loot shop."
"Thanks winter."
The boy looked over to check on Sheria and saw her flat on the floor. He was beside her in an instant and chuckled.
"Wow. She's out cold!"
The two ladies smiled fondly as he lifted her off the ground, sound asleep.
"Poor thing. She did well today."
"She's earned this. we got the rest of it."
Tyler smiled as the girls skinned the dead rats as he held the small girl while his team were once again appalled. But they ignored their ranting as Tyler found a small treasure chest.
"Got another chest."
"Take the thing and we'll look through it later."
The boy put the thing into his pack as Winter stood from her current rat.
"That's the last. Sheria?"
"Down for the count."
"She's had a rough day today."
"I am amazed by how far she got. She's got grit."
"A lot of it too. Here, I'll carry her."
Thorn took the slumbering girl as Tyler sheathed her shortsword on his back. Then the party left the chamber as the others ranted until the door was about to close entirely. THAT horror convinced them to do something other then bitch and they left too. Tyler and his friends fought their way out of the dungeon at a scorching pace that left the others far behind them. Then they were heading back to the city with Tyler carrying the small girl in his arm. The blonde deeply asleep as they walked into the city and a runner came up.
"Sir Tyler. The Queen wishes you."
"We'll sell in the morning."
Winter and Thorn smiled.
"Sheria needs to rest."
Tyler gave the kid 75 dragoons and they headed to the palace. Sheria woke as they rose on the lift,
He smiled as she looked at him.
"Hey there Sparkles. We're calling it a day."
"Sorry I fell asleep."
"You worked hard. Ya earned it."
She smiled as she yawned.
"I'm with the princess, right?"
"I think so. I know I got the queen."
Winter and Thorn smiled.
"I'll pray at Home and probably cuddle with Thorn."
"You're more then welcome Winter."
The party walked into the palace where Iris and Rose were waiting in the throne room. The fire haired princess was all smiles as Sheria appeared.
"Come on Shera! My bed's comfy!"
"Yes milady."
"Please, call me Rose."
Tyler smiled.
"She's worked hard Rose."
"Oh you poor thing. Come on. I have a bath ready."
Sheria was instantly wide awake for that one! They walked off hand in hand as Tyler raised an eyebrow.
"Wow. I think shera's got a type."
Iris smiled proudly.
"Rose too actually."
"Wow. Alright. I'm yours my Queen."
The woman shivered before looking at Winter and Thorn.
"we've a room waiting for you too."
They thanked her before the queen led the way to her chambers and the large in room tub. Tyler smiled eagerly as they stripped down.
"I been waiting for this."
"so have I! In the bath!"
The boy was in the tub and she bent over the rim, offering her rear.
"In there please."
He fit into her ass and was thrusting away to her moans until she was freshly creamed before he sat the sexy woman on the rim and spread her legs wide. Then dove into to sample her treat making her buck hard at the new feeling. The sensual boy made her blow from the feelings before fitting into her treat for the main ride. The two played hard for a few hours before they were sated and cleaned up. Tyler smiling as iris laid on his chest again.
"even better the second time."
Iris smiled as she kissed the hero.
"I could not agree more, Tyler. I fear you'll win this war."
"I'm all too happy to please you my Queen."
She kissed him hard that time before resting her flame haired head on his chest.
"Good night, Tyler. I'm thinking about it."
"Good night Iris. I wonder how Rose is?"
"You want us both!"
"Bastard. And it's happened before."
"Good. So there's a precedent. I'll ruin you before we leave town."
"You damn well better."

DAY 3.
DRAGOONS: PARTY: 120,264. TYLER: 30,771
Tyler woke to see the Queen wrapped up in his arms and his face by hers. He smiled. That's a helluva sight first thing in the morning. He kissed her awake,
"Good morning Tyler."
He kissed her again and rolled her onto her back.
"Good morning Iris. Want it?"
She smiled from under him.
"Always if YOU'RE giving it to me!"
So they had a morning romp both in the bed and in the water before being sated on the other's lust. She sighed as he did her hair again.
"Dammit. This shouldn't be working but it is."
He kissed her warmly on the neck and she shivered.
"Dammit! I love this!"
The loving boy laced her gown up for her and she grabbed his mouth for her own kiss.
"Okay fine! When you beat the wave ask for my Key. it grants my lover title."
"With love, my queen."
"Bastard. It grants you access to my chambers at any time you please. Emberis knew this would happen, so just go with it."
He kissed her warmly and hugged her, and she leaned into his ear.
"If you seek Rose's key, you'll have to REALLY prove yourself to her. Say...beat a wave in her name. She's a romantic."
"Happy to please her and pleasure you."
"Come here."
She kissed him again and were on the verge of another round when Erice was heard outside.
"Are you decent, Milady?"
The queen sighed as the elven maid walked in. Erice smiled as Iris looked at her.
"Good morning Milady."
"He won."
"I figured he would. The King already knows."
Tyler chuckled as they walked out to breakfast with the Queen on VERY unsteady legs. He met Thorn and Winter in the dining hall with a happily smiling Sheria between them. The blonde hugging him hard soon as she spotted him.
"Morning big brother!"
"Morning Sparkles. Sleep well?"
Sheria smiled as he sat beside winter.
"Yup! Rose is very warm and fun to cuddle!"
"Atta Sparkle. You have fun?"
She blushed hard.
"I did."
"Good for you. winter? Thorn?"
The Snow priestess smiled.
"I slept very well. And my mana is fully restored."
Thorn chuckled,
"The others got back about three hours after you locked the door and had to be healed by the Snow as they were that badly hurt by the rats. I guess they had to sleep outside as they hadn't made any money in their pursuit of you and are flat broke. I'm good though."
Tyler shrugged as he drank his coffee.
"Makes sense. We'll do a mass sell before we divvy up last night's loot. Afterwards, we upgrade what we can and see about a ticket to Dragel."
Thorn smiled.
"Sounds good. We really need to get moving. Drula's fun, but nothing too special far as Druala cities go."
Winter smirked.
"Let me guess: YOU are going to ruin the queen before we leave?"
"Utterly. The King lost."
They burst out laughing at that one as the breakfast was had. then the party headed to the throne room with Shera happily bouncing beside the trio. Emberis sighed as he saw the Hero.
"Damn you, Tyler. stealing my wife's heart out from under me! Well played you bastard."
Iris smiled as Tyler looked to Rose on her throne.
"Thanks for looking after Sheria, Rose."
She smiled happily.
"Certainly, Hero. She is very warm."
"I wonder. Are YOU as warm as I think?"
She blushed hard at this attack as the King blinked.
"You greedy bastard."
"I like beauties. Right rose?"
Her blush went full tomato! But she managed a reply.
"Thank you, Tyler."
"Nice to see some warmth to match that fire hair."
Now thoroughly embarrassed and nursing a pounding heart, the princess could just sit there as the Hero let her be and walked out as Iris chuckled.
"That greedy bastard. He plays his game very well."
Thorn was laughing as they walked out of the palace.
"Are you after the PRINCESS Too?"
"Wow. Just. Wow. Enjoy."
"Oh I intend to."
Sheria giggled.
"Yay! More cuddles!"
They laughed at her cute as they stepped onto the lift. Thorn led the party to a large shop by the collection booth with a steady stream of adventurers moving in and out of the building. They walked in and were faced with a set of windows with dwarves sitting behind them. Thorn led the party to an open window where the dwarf smiled.
"Welcome to the creature exchange, hero. I be Tolic Stonesmasher. How can i aid you/"
Tyler smiled.
"Hit the rat den yesterday. Got a bunch a rat to sell."
The dwarf smiled.
"Lay it out lad, let's see how ya did."
The party unloaded their packs and Tolic nodded.
"Ya did well. 11,434 sound fair?"
Thorn smiled.
"That's a good deal."
Tyler took the coin and they moved to a nearby inn for divvying. Winter put her ward up and Tyler set the chest out as Shera sat against Thorn. Once the party was ready they opened the chest ands Tyler got a number.
"Okay. The chest has 15,452 dragoons, two daggers, a scroll, and a spell. That plus the amount from the dwarf makes 26,886. So divided by two makes 13,443. That gets added to party coin. Now that divided by four. That gets us 3,360 and an extra coin. That coin gets added to party."
The girls all took shares and he took his last. Tyler smiled.
"Not bad. We just cleared 127,694 dragoons for the party. Next is the daggers."
Winter smiled.
"This one has a minor poison enchantment, like snake venom. That one has a minor pierce enhancement. It just hits harder."
Tyler took the poisoned dagger.
"Hmm. Not really interested. Sell?"
Thorn nodded.
"Best call really. Daggers rarely come into play."
Sheria shrugged.
"I don't like em."
Tyler patted the blonde, making her giggle. The daggers were set aside as the spell was passed around.
"Earthen Slap. It's basically the earth version of Winter's Frozen surge. I'd like to have it for my arsenal."
Thorn smiled.
"Agreed. YOU need the spells and skills the most anyway."
Tyler claimed the spell and the scroll was looked at. winter smiled.
"A scroll of shock. It sends a bolt of lightning at a single target before arcing off to a further target out to five."
"Nasty. Let's let Sparkles get some spark practice."
Sheria smiled at that one as Winter placed it in her punch.
"I'll teach her spellcraft then. She did very well in that raid."
"She did."
"She's already learning to see. Now she just needs to keep at it. Okay. Let's sell the weapons and see about upgrades."
Sheria hopped off Thorn's lap and grabbed the bigger boy's hand as they headed to the smithy. The dwarf running the place laughed as they walked in.
"What be it today lad?"
Tyler set the axe and daggers out.
"Sell and upgrades."
The dwarf smiled.
"I see ya some success."
"Sheria's getting there. She got what? 40 rats by herself?"
Winter looked up from a bow,
"It was closer to 60. She's a fierce one."
Sheria smiled with a shy blush as the party praised her. The dwarf smiled warmly.
"She be learning well. So the sale. I can give you 15,342 dragoons for these."
"we'll use that to see about our gear."
"That be fine. The miss getting anything?"
Tyler smiled.
"She needs some chainmail, bracers, greaves and some shoulder guards in her size."
The dwarf's eyes glowed a moment and nodded.
"She be about my own girl's size. That rack there lad."
Shera blushed hard at that and the dwarf laughed.
"She's a sweet one too!"
Tyler spotted a mail vest in Sheria's size, and the dwarf chuckled.
"That be 750 dragoons."
"We'll tally it up at the end, sound good?"
Tyler grabbed the blonde the needed equipment as Winter came over with a small bow and quiver for her.
"These are her size."
The gear was placed on the counter and Tyler took her shortsword for inspection.
"Add whetstones to the pile, ladies. She needs a touchup."
They nodded and four good stones were placed on the pile as Tyler looked at mail in his size now, and spotted a red shirt that the dwarf smiled at.
"That's made from the scales of a Swamp King. 1500 dragoons."
"Yikes. Seems tough."
"It'll stop a spear point on a hard thrust."
"Nasty image."
Tyler took the shirt as the dwarf tallied Sheria's gear up.
"All told for the missy, 6540 dragoons."
The warrior went to pay, but Sheria had enough on her to cover it. She smiled.
"I wanna be like you big brother."
He smiled proudly.
"And the world will never be the same."
She smiled as Thorn took her to get dressed while the warrior picked out greaves and bracers of the same material for himself. Then he took his longsword out and nodded.
"I need a touchup too. Alright."
Sheathing the blade he looked over at the rack of longswords as Winter smiled.
"I got a better bow for you, Tyler. Made from hawthorne wood and strung with animal sinew."
"That works. I can wait on the second longsword."
The dwarf smiled,
"You mean a backup blade?"
"Nah. I can dual wield them."
Winter blinked.
"With what skill level?"
Tyler looked at the dwarf and he passed two rods of equal weight and length to him.
"These I use to measure blades. Show her."
Sheria and Thorn came back as Tyler took an empty spot in the store and struck a curious pose with both feet shoulder width apart, one blade held out over his head, and the other sideways in front of him while leaning forward. Then the boy's eyes shifted from fun to utter concentration as he began going through the attacks and forms of a most vicious dual longsword style with flips, lunges, and savage combos that had the rods howling from the force packed behind them. He finished the routine with a rotating slash that would hit a single target 8 times before the dance ended. He chuckled.
"Damn I'm rusty."
There was a stunned round of clapping from the group looking at him and he smiled.
"Thanks. But seriously? I'm rusty as hell."
Sheria had a new level of adoration in her blue eyes as she hugged her big brother.
"You're amazing Tyler! How'd you do that!?"
He chuckled as he passed the rods back to the dwarf.
"It's a style of swordsmanship from my world I mastered. It's called the Aincrad style. Fuck it. I'm getting another longsword."
Thorn sighed.
"And WHEN were you going to tell us you were a blade master?"
He chuckled as he looked the offerings over.
"when I got around to getting the second blade. That style's hardcore."
He lifted one blade from the rack and the dwarf smiled.
"That's made from the same as the vest lad. 2500 dragoons."
"With the weight this thing's got behind it? Deal. You two get lucky?"
Thorn shrugged.
"A new vest and arrows. My bow's pretty high tier right now."
Winter smiled.
"Same. My staff grows with me so I don't have to upgrade it."
Tyler laid the sword on the counter and the dwarf smiled.
"All told it's 7500 dragoons."
"Not bad."
He sold his old mail and greaves back, knocking 500 off the price and the girls also sold their old gear before Tyler put his new gear on. The longsword sticking out over his left shoulder and his new bow in the center still in easy reach. Sheria was giggling like bubbling brook as her new chainmail tickled. Then the party headed out to get the schedule fort he next airship flight to Dragel. Tyler smiling as they went.
"As much as I like this city, I kinda wanna see what else the world has. Ya know?"
Thorn smiled.
"I understand. We'll get the schedule, you'll ruin the queen again and we'll head out."
Sheria was sad now.
"I'll miss Rose."
Tyler lifted her up for a hug.
"We'll be back soon, Sheria. Just hug her hard before we leave."
She smiled.
"I will!"
The blonde swung up on his shoulder and got comfy as Thorn had them get on the lift to another plateau.
"The airports are always on one of these floating islands. The ships are even built up here."
Tyler smiled at the image.
"Now that must take balls of steel."
The friends laughed at that one as the lift brought them to a large rotunda as the entire island was one large airport for the airships. Thorn smiled as she explained the concept.
"Basically any city that has at least two floating islands overhead has an airport. They're a very valuable commodity as people and goods move faster up here then on the ground. Plus are safer as a rule."
Tyler tilted his head.
"what about dragons?"
"The sky lords and ladies allow us in their skies so long as the companies backing the airships pay tribute to their troves once a month."
"Sounds about right."
Thorn spotted a board for Dragel.
"Here we go. The next flight is in four hours. Cost for the four of us is....100,000 dragoons. We can buy our ticket now or when we go to board."
Tyler smiled.
"We'll get em now and let Winter hold them until we're ready to take off."
The Snow priestess smiled.
"Thanks for the trust."
Tyler got them four tickets for the next flight at a booth and Winter stored them inside a small slot in her staff. That one made him raise an eyebrow.
"Neat trick, Winter."
She smiled as they headed to the palace.
"I know a few things. Why a Snow priestess' staff is her most cherished possession. We mkae them ourselves you see."
"I get it."
The friends returned to the palace and found the queen sitting on her throne beside the king as a whine was heard.
"How can you expect children to fight against such horrors?"
Tyler laughed as he saw his team shaking in their boots from their night and the hell they'd witnessed. The queen smiled as she saw him.
"Tyler! I think I know what this means."
"Say goodbye to your ability to walk normally. We heading out in four hours. So I got three to utterly destroy you."
She got up and took his arm as he looked at the blushing rose on her throne.
"Sheria wants to cuddle."
The blonde smiled as Rose smiled.
"Of course. come on Shera! They just changed the water!"
The blonde and red headed princess were seen dashing off laughing as winter smiled.
"I'll go meditate at Home."
Thorn was eyeing Erice.
"I'll go play with the elf."
That one made him chuckle as his foster mother exploded as they walked away.
"You are only 15! We are getting sent back right now!"
Not a soul listened to her as Tyler and Iris went to her bedchamber. He locked the door as she stripped with excitement.
"I am going to MISS you!"
He lifted the naked queen up and planted her laughing on her bed before stripping as well.
"I am too. I like this town!"
She sighed as he fed on her treat again.
"My key is yours. Just ask for it when you win the next wave."
"I will. Though I think Sheria will get Rose's key before I do!"
They played hard until their lust was sated and they were laying naked to recover as the queen looked at him.
"Why ARE you so interested in my daughter? Me I get as we're similar addicts, but you two seem so different."
He kissed her.
"Honestly? No clue. I just know I want her."
The queen smiled.
"Sounds like love."
"I doubt it. More she fascinates me. I get the feeling she's a very gentle soul. Kind too."
"She is. If you ever find her in the garden, watch. Birds will literally land on her shoulder for a quick snuggle before flying off."
"I think that's why. I'm a heartless bastard that has no idea what mercy is. So seeing someone as sweet, kind, and outright gentle as she is? I guess is like my catnip."
Iris smiled fondly.
"You two are different. But those differences are merely two sides of the same coin. I think your relationship would be a truly beautiful thing."
"Odd how I've never really talked to her. And I've already ruined her mother. Hey!"
They played again as he stood again and she smiled.
"That's the time."
He sighed at that.
"Damn. I wanted to RUIN you. eh. Next time."
She shivered as they cleaned up.
"Bastard. I expect to hear your legend all the way out here!"
"The things i do and the ones I do it to."
"Oh you better ruin them too. Where ARE you going?"
"You're gonna love that town. The duchess is an old friend. And hers make mine looked like mush."
"Challenge accepted."
He kissed the queen again and this one was filled with far more loving longing and tenderness then the others had been.
"I'mma miss you Iris."
She smiled with a saddened expression on her face.
"I will miss you too, Tyler. MY Hero."
"MY Queen."
They kissed again and dressed. Him helping with her gown and she buckled his belt before they walked out to the main hall. There they found Rose and Shera mid hug and smiled at the cute. Tyler smiled as Sheria climbed up onto his shoulder.
"You two good?"
The blonde nodded as Rose smiled.
"You'll come back right?"
Shera beat him to it.
"we will Rosy! We're fighting the wave!"
Tyler smiled as he looked at the princess.
"Maybe when I get back WE can get to know each other."
That made her gasp,
"I'd love to!"
"I'll look forward to it. MY princess."
The poor princess shivered hard at the way he made it sound as Thorn and Winter came over.
"we're set."
"Tickets too. we'll visit the general store for Mya and head over to the port."
Tyler smiled at Rose again as she poor girl was fighting with her hammering heart.
Shera giggled at that attack as poor Rose had to sit down! The party walked out as iris smiled at her daughter.
"you got his eye. Good for you."
Rose gulped.
"My poor heart nearly exploded when he did that! You really think so?"
"He LIKES you!"
Tyler and his friends went to Mya's general store where the woman got a hug from Sheria.
"Thanks for visiting, Tyler."
"Sure. Was more for Sheria though, but you too."
The party then headed to the airport. They reached the lift, but his team put in an appearance by blocking his path onto the lift. Greg doing the talking.
"No. You are NOT old enough to travel alone. We need to get the money to travel together."
Tyler smiled.
"No. Winter."
"I can't cast spells in the city like that."
"That'd be too easy. Hard way it is."
Tyler grabbed Greg by his shoulders, and lifted the stunned man up and set him aside like he weighed as much as paper. Then the friends climbed onto the lift as the membrane closed. The team banged on the thing in an attempt to stop it but were arrested by guards as the lift rose into the sky. Sheria sighed as they walked into the port.
"You good Sheria?"
"I miss Rose."
He hugged the sad girl tightly.
"We'll see her again. And just think of all the bragging you can do when you get back."
That made her giggle.
"She likes listening to me talk!"
"See? That girl knows cute."
Now embarrassed again the blonde buried her face in his shoulder as Thorn led the way to their ship. The thing being a massive liner with twin balloons that were easily the size of a football field apiece. The ship under it was like an enclosed ship's hull with a golden prow. Tyler and his friends boarded the ship across large walkways encased in tubes that allowed for looks straight down but Tyler had encouraged Sheria NOT to do so.
"Not until your comfortable with the height will we let you challenge yourself."
She nodded as the friends walked along the brightly lit hallway to their cabin they would be sharing together. The interior of the ship a honeycomb of two lane hallways with windows that had room for you to stick you head out to again look straight down. The ship had a range of amenities from the sleeping cabins to a full dining hall to a full viewing deck. The trip to Dragel would take three days in the air, and so the friends had opted for the sleeping cabin. They found it without issue and Shera gasped as she saw the inside. It having been set against a wall of the hull with it's own window at the far end, two sets of bunkbeds built into the walls behind a curtain, a full bathroom with fully functional shower, and a table looking out the house window at the view. Tyler smiled as he set his pack on the bottom bunk of a set.
"To think this is low end, Sheria."
The blonde blinked.
"How can it get better?"
Thorn smiled as she took a top bunk in the other set with Winter below her.
"We're near the bottom of the ship, with rooms on either side of us and above us. Plus we have to LEAVE the room for food. The higher end cabins take up entire sides of a hallway, have food delivered or waiting, and you get a personal servant for your trip."
Tyler smiled.
"Swanky. This is kinda cool though."
Sheria nodded.
"I've never been on an airship before. So my first!"
"I've never been on a ship before. Or an airship."
Winter smiled as she removed her small boots to relax.
"I guess you came from a landlocked home, Tyler."
"I did. My home is rather known for mountains though. Mountains. And our four versions of winter that make up our seasons."
Sheria shivered.
"I hate winter. I don't like being cold."
The Snow priestess smiled.
"Believe it or not, Sheria? I don't like being cold either."
"Now THERE'S an odd mismatch. And ice mage that hates the cold."
The friends laughed at that truth before a low horn was heard and Thorn smiled.
"we're about to depart."
Sheria grabbed onto Tyler and he found she was shaking again.
"I gotchya."
She gulped as he wrapped her in his arms as a heavy jerk was felt that meant the ship was leaving port. Tyler looked out the window to see his team with panicked expressions on the docks as the ship turned to towards their destination. The warrior smiled and went back to comforting Sheria as the ship jerked and bounced under it's movement. There was a low hum that was heard Tyler knew came from engines firing until the thing leveled out and the jerking stopped mostly. Shera looked up at Tyler with huge frightened blue eyes.
"It stop?"
He hugged her tighter.
"we're flying. You did well Sheria."
She shivered again before her shaking stopped.
"Big brother?"
Her voice was still frightened.
"Can i stay in your bunk too please?"
"Sure, Sheria. I got you."
She deflated from relief and smiled.
He let her go and she grabbed him in a quick stranglehold.
"Thank you."
"Sure sis."
Then she hopped down to look out the window at the passing landscape with Winter as Thorn sat beside Tyler.
"She has a wonderful father in you, and even better big brother, Tyler."
He smiled fondly as the small girl gaped in awe at the speed they were traveling.
"She's a good girl. Plus she IS my little sister now."
"We'll take good care of her."
"Damn right we will."
The catgirl smiled happily as the blonde in question came over and sat beside her.
"So what now?"
"We relax, catch up on sleep, or rest."
Winter smiled.
"I got a deck of cards."
Tyler smiled.
"Wanna get some food for the room?"
Thorn smiled.
"we can have it delivered for an extra 2000 dragoons. But we'll pay from OUR coin pouches this time. Okay?"
"I'll pay for Sheria."
The blonde giggled.
"I'll pay too!"
Tyler was taught by Thorn how to use the magic request board for the room as Sheria tilted her head.
"I thought we'd have to go to the dining hall for food, Thorn?"
The catgirl placed their payment into a small tube as she explained.
"We can place orders if we wish, but the higher end rooms have it as a rule. we have to ask for the service."
"Oooh Okay."
The food arrived and they spent some time playing cards together with Tyler teaching them games from his world. Sheria happily nestled in his lap as they played. The warrior looked out the window and blinked.
"Woah. That's a huge bird."
Thorn smiled as she saw the giant vulture.
"That's called a roc. They're kinda common on the open plains. They're about the size of that table in the dining hall we ate at this morning. Wingspan is two of them."
Tyler blinked.
"That's easily 40 feet! WITHOUT the wingspan!"
She laughed at his amazement.
"It's just a bigger vulture. The only thing to worry about is getting snuck up on. Otherwise an arrow in the chest drops it like any other bird."
"Says the freakin ranger!"
That got a laugh from the friends as Winter did a coin check.
"So we each paid 5k for the meal and delivery, we need to get through three days like that. Meals on the dinner deck are 2500 per. We'll have to head up or risk being broke on arrival."
Tyler nodded.
"Agreed. Sheria should be acclimated to flying by that point so we'll head up."
Sheria rested her head against his chest.
"Are YOU okay?"
He patted her soft hair.
"Fine. I kinda like the feeling."
Thorn smiled.
"it IS weird."
"SUPER weird. But the type of weird I'm used to from my world actually. Where I come from we have this places called amusement parks built to give you this type of feeling. That feeling of your gut bouncing is something I really enjoy."
Sheria grumbled.
"Your world is freakin weird, big brother."
"You don't know the half of it. People identify as animals and dress in large fuzzy customs to pretend to BE the animal."
Thorn tilted her head.
"They thing they are that animal. It's an entire freakin subculture. They're called furries and GOD are some a them weird with it. Had a buddy that was a furry and he went to gatherings of his brethren that were basically orgies in fur suits. Yeah. They got a bad reputation."
Winter sighed.
"And WHY were you friends with him?"
"SHE, was a lotta fun. We were both misfits and i don't judge. The furry thing aside she was good people. If a little odd."
Thorn smirked.
"Her name?"
"Sally. And yes she was a red head."
"Ha. You get her?"
"I wanted to, but my parents were assholes and she was a staunch lesbian that hated men. She was raped and turned to her own kind for fun. Reason we clicked so freakin well was once she shot me down that was the end of it. I still wanted to be her friend and we were close. Then her family moved away from my town and we lost touch."
The girls sighed at that one as Sheria asked the question.
"Is that lady, Michelle? She's NOT your mother?"
"Nope. She's what is known as a foster mother in my world. Like a government appointed surrogate that you get placed with after your current family are found unfit to be parents or die. Mine were neglectful and nasty so I was pulled from the home."
winter frowned.
"I heard you were tried by the King for her accusing you of raping your sister, and found utterly innocent and truthful. Can you tell us what happened?"
The boy sighed as Sheria gulped.
"My actual sister is a nasty, vindictive girl. She's a year younger then me but was raised to believe she was superior to everyone. Now in our schools 100 is the best possible score you can get on assignments. I was smart and would get routine hundreds on nearly everything. The times i DIDN'T get a perfect score was when I got a 99. HER best score was in the 60s. She routinely failed tests and assignments to the point she had top redo entire years of school. She was also the type of girl that HAD to be the center of attention period. She once jumped off a ten foot slide to break her leg so she'd be babied an entire summer. So yeah she's that type. well. One month I had taken some skills test the government handed out to get a feel for how the students were doing and I got the highest score in the school out of 500 other students. My sister got among the lowest scores and such was made to take extreme makeup classes. I came home that day from my basketball game to find her screaming into a phone beaten to high hell with blood pouring from her legs that I'd raped her. The police were called and my parents sided with her. The police had no choice but the intervene and I was sent to a group home for a punishment. I was there maybe a year before being placed with Michelle. My sister is still living with my parents to this day and is now living her dream as everyone pities her and she's back in the main spotlight."
The three girls hugged him hard after he stopped talking and he smiled.
"Thanks girls. I got over it."
Sheria sniffed.
"I'm a better sister."
"You da best and don't you forgit it!"
She giggled at that as Winter smiled.
"What's a phone?"
"Long distance communication device. Like know what scrying is?"
The mage nodded.
"We cast it on a mirror and we can talk to far away people."
"Same idea but with sound on an object like say that block there."
Thorn tilted her head.
"Town guard."
Sheria just hugged the boy as they talked. Tyler looked out the window and smiled.
"I think I'll power down for a bit. Kinda had a lot taken outta me."
The girls laughed as he took his shirt and mail off to lay on the bunk. Sheria crawled right up onto his chest and he smiled at her.
"Sure, Sparkles."
She giggled as he held her against him. The tall warrior looked over at the girls.
"If you leave the room, and three are asleep, leave something telling us where you went. Winter, at night put a ward up please."
They nodded smiling.
"Caution even when relaxing. This is good."
"I will, Tyler."
Tyler closed his eyes and let the airship rock him to sleep, the warm bundle of Sheria firmly snuggled into his arms. The tired man slept for a bit before opening his eyes to see Sheria asleep beside him in a small cradle he'd made with his body. He smiled as the affectionate warrior pressed his head into her soft blonde hair fondly. She stirred in her sleep and moved closer to his chest.
He smiled and hugged her, letting her sleep. Then he lifted his eyes to see Winter and Thorn sitting in the chairs watching the landscape go by. Both girls relaxed as both were barefoot and their weapons by their bunks. Sheria yawned and opened her blue eyes with a smile.
"Mornin Sparkles. sleep well?"
She nodded as she snuggled into his chest like a cat.
"I did, Big brother. You're really comfy."
"And you're warm. Plus cuddly as hell."
She giggled.
"I guess I got used to it. Being on an airship I mean."
He stroked her long golden hair as they relaxed.
"It'll be weird sleeping on the ground again."
"SUPER weird."
They laid together for a bit before she hopped off the bunk and went to clean up in the bathroom with Thorn to show her how it worked. Tyler sat beside Winter in the now free chair still bare chested.
"This is nice."
The Snow priestess smiled as she waggled her feet.
"it is. We work hard so it's nice to relax once in a while."
"we'll have to play catchup in Dragel."
"Not really. One good dungeon in the area and we'll be right where we were."
"What do they got for monsters?"
"Undead, goblins, a giant or two, more kobolds, and the usual animals that inhabit the region."
Tyler shrugged as a loud giggle was heard from the bathroom.
"Sounds like fun."
The pair watched the landscape go by until Sheria and Thorn came out fo the bathroom. The small blonde came right over to claim a spot on Tyler's chest again and he chuckled.
"She's like a freakin cat."
Thorn smirked.
"That right?"
"That cuddly."
Tyler smiled as Sheria sat against him to look out the window at the passing world. Thorn laid on her bunk and Winter fell asleep in her seat. The friends went to the dining deck for dinner and it was merely a large on ship dining hall. That set them back each 2500 dragoons. Then they returned to the cabin where they played more card games from Tyler's world and this world until the sun had gone down and Sheria yawned.
"There's the bell ladies."
Shera smiled tiredly as the boy climbed under the blankets with her. He still shirtless and she was too. The blonde cuddled against the bigger boy and he took her small hand.
"Night Shera."
"Night Tyler."
"Night ladies!"
They chuckled as they drifted off to sleep aboard the airship, close to 3 miles above the ground.

DRAGOONS: PARTY: 27,694. TYLER: 19,130.
Tyler woke on the third day of their flight to see Sheria asleep beside him softly breathing. Cute. He hugged her and she yawned.
"Morning big brother."
"Morning Sparkles. we're landing today."
They got out of bed and saw Thorn and winter also getting out of the bed. Thorn slept naked for whatever reason and he smiled as he saw her sides had a soft coat of her orange fur while her breasts were firm and needed no support. Her long tail swished behind her and on her back she had more soft fur he REALLY wanted to pet but had just let it be. Winter yawned as she pulled her robe on. She sleeping in a mere cloth around her breasts with a loincloth. The girls went into the bathroom as he ordered breakfast for them, costing a further 5000 dragoons but they'd decided it was fine as the ship was due to dock by noon anyway. The food arrived as the girls walked out and Tyler took his turn in the surprisingly-like-his-old-one shower. Once clean he joined the girls for breakfast as Thorn unrolled her map.
"when we land we'll see about this dungeon here."
she tapping a spot outside the city.
"It's another kobold den with a few ratmen thrown in for variety. Dragel is a mostly plains and forest city half the size of Drula, but still has a lot going on."
Tyler looked out the window and noted more forests pierced by small plains under them in contrast tot he mainly plains they'd been used to.
"we'll also see about some hunting too. Maybe buck or bear."
"We might find some drakekin inside the forest. Maybe a forest drake."
"Are drakes dragonkin?"
"No. You're thinking of the draco. Or lesser drakolisk. Drakekin are usually scaled lizards that walk on either all fours of on two legs. You'll know what I mean when we find one."
"Sure Thorn. least we can focus this time."
They laughed at that as they readied for disembarking as the ship started slowing down. Sheria gulped as the jerking started again but didn't start shaking again as the ship docked in the airport island. Thorn led the way to the ramps the passengers used and they left the ship. Tyler swayed a little as they walked along the solid ground of the airport.
"Yup. SUPER weird."
Sheria was in full agreement as she held Thorn's hand.
"I don't like it. I feel like I'm drunk."
They laughed as they found the lift down into the city. Tyler taking note of the more level design of the city. This one being built in a large wagon wheel pattern with walls marking roadways from the center of the city to the fringes. He smiled as they reached the ground.
"Let's get back to it. We'll head for Drula at the two week mark."
They nodded as Thorn led the way as usual. Sheria taking in the sights and sounds of a new city as she rode on Tyler's shoulder. winter was right beside the taller boy with the ranger a step ahead. They walked out of the city and to a large set of steps leading into the ground. Another party came walking out and Tyler smiled at the leader.
"How's the ratway?"
The woman smirked.
"Full of idiots."
"Sounds like fun."
"I am. Sir?"
"Ah. I'm Lyirc. Interesting."
The woman leered as the warrior got moving and Thorn chuckled.
"You got a way with women, Tyler. That was impressive."
"Thanks Thorn."
The party pulled weapons and dropped into the dark. Tyler in the lead with his dual longswords, Shera behind him with her shortsword, Thorn and her bow, and Winter and her spells. The dungeon was more or less identical to the last one as the friends were attacked by 50 of the things after 15 minutes of walking. Tyler using one longsword as he didn't have the room to dual wield. The warrior rushing the largest group while Sheria danced beside Thorn as the catgirl used her lance for a change. And her thrusts and jabs complemented Shera's shortsword perfectly while Winter cast a spell on the small blonde,
The blue eyed cutie's strength was enhanced as Tyler punched a rat in the face and killed it outright. The fight ended as soon as it began and the friends laughed as they got to work looting the critters. Sheria all smiles as Thorn taught her how to properly skin a rat man while Tyler wiped his blade clean. Then they were moving on. Tyler and Thorn taking turns spotting traps and he would swap with Shera on the disarming. They came around a corner and found a door set into the wall and Thorn smiled.
"That's a loot room. See if you can pick it rookie."
Tyler smiled as he took the pick and a knife.
"Not THIS I can do."
He set the tools into the lock and chuckled.
"Oh good. An easy one."
He had it open in 5 seconds which made the ranger smile.
"I guess you got a few tricks."
Tyler smiled as he opened the door.
"I know a thing or two."
The inside was a mere storeroom with shelves. Tyler spotted a scroll on one shelf while Sheria squealed at finding a second shortsword on a weapon rack. Thorn found a set of iron gauntlets and Winter found a red healing potion in a drawer. Tyler nodded as the room was empty.
"Not bad I guess. Come on."
The loot was put up for later splitting as they headed further into the dungeon. Then they came upon another door which Tyler booted open to reveal a 15 foot tall ratman this time wielding a massive greatsword. Tyler smiled as he saw the thing was surrounded by MORE rats.
"Winter. Funnel."
"Got it."
"Thorn. It's eyes.":
"Yeah, yeah."
"Be cute!"
"Yer learnin!"
Tyler drew his second longsword and dove into the horde of rats as winter glowed.
"All things begin with Water. So all things end in ice. Frozen wall!"
A set of 3 foot ice walls rose up behind Tyler in a funnel shape the rats dove into without hesitating only to find Sheria wielding her shortsword. The blonde smiling as she lifted the scroll.
A large thunderbolt arced out of the scroll with a loud buzzing sound to electrocute close to fifty rats with the one surge as the scroll got fire and destroyed itself.;
"Nice one!"
Tyler's unorthodox sword style was leaving bodies in his wake as Thorn kept the bigger rat at bay with her arrows. Winter smiled as she aimed her staff.
"Shards of Cold!"
A wall of icicles exploded from the white haired mage's white crystal staff and imbedded themselves in the bodies of the rats in front of Sheria. The blonde building her own respectable pile of rats when the last of the fodder dropped and all that was left was the big guy. Tyler rushed it and smiled.
"Rapid lunge! Rapid lunge!"
Thorn blinked as he stacked the ability one per blade for a lightning fast set of sword strikes.
"That wily bastard."
The ratman boss dropped with a pained squeak and Tyler swung his blades in a way to get the blood off before sheathing them over his shoulders.
"Class dismissed."
They laughed at that one before getting to looting.
"How'd you do ladies?"
Thorn smiled as she cut tails off the rats.
"I did alright. Need more arrows though."
Sheria giggled as she tore a pelt off a rat like a rabbit.
"I did great!"
"Atta girl!"
Winter smiled from her own set of rats.
"I need to visit Home for prayer, but am good."
"Not bad ladies. This adventurin thing don't work out at least we have a promising career as exterminators."
They chuckled as he put the loot chest into his pack for transport. The pelts and tails were split between members before they headed out. The ranger led them to the local monster exchange and this time they were faced with en elf. He smiled as they approached.
"welcome Adventurers. I am Torkin. How may I assist?"
"Got some rat for ya."
"I see. well. place the goods on the tray and let's see what you have."
They unloaded and Torkin nodded.
"You had luck. How's 17,546 dragoons sound?"
Thorn nodded.
The dragoons gathered they got a room for 50 dragoons for loot sharing. Winter putting up a ward as Tyler opened the chest and dumped the sale dragoons inside.
"Okay. This chest has 54,238 dragoons, two skills, a helmet, and a necklace. We'll place the other stuff we got into it."
They added the other loot they'd gained into the chest and Tyler smiled.
"Okay. we got 54,238 dragoons. that divided by two is 27,119. That gets added to the party. That again divided by four nets us 6,779 and one coin left over. That coin gets added to party."
They took shares and next was the scroll. Tyler lifted it.
"A scroll of detection?"
Winter explained.
"It's s single use detection skill. It does what you think."
Tyler shrugged.
"I'll take it then. I usually take point anyway."
They nodded and next were the skills. Sheria frowned.
"Another rapid lunge and a Double strike."
Tyler took double strike.
"Double strike. A one handed sword skill. Doubles the speed and cutting power of a single stroke. I'LL take that. Add that to my rapid lunge and the fact I dual wield?"
Thorn smiled as she pictured it.
"That's a scary combo with your style. Sheria, take rapid lunge."
"Kay! Yay! I got a skill!"
They all smiled as the glowing blonde added it to her license. Tyler next took the shortsword and passed it to Sheria.
"Any questions?"
They laughed as the now giggling girl hugged her big brother.
"Will you teach me the style?"
"I'll try to. I got another style you might be able to use if the Aincrad proves too intense."
She sheathed the second sword over her other shoulder like he did and Tyler set the iron gauntlets and helmet aside.
"we can't really use these."
The girls nodded and the necklace was left. Winter smiled as she examined it with a glowing hand.
"we got lucky. This is a necklace of sneak. makes the wearer 25% harder to detect by enemies."
The blonde blushed as her big brother clasped the necklace on her.
"Thank you."
He hugged her warmly before hiding the thing under her shirt.
"Keep it hidden. Okay?"
She nodded happily as the chest shattered. Tyler looked at Thorn.
"Let's go drake hunting!"
They laughed at that one and left the inn. Sheria loving the way the twin hilts over her shoulders felt and made her look as she bounced along beside the taller party members while holding Tyler's hand tightly. Thorn led the way out of the city and into a forest directly outside the gate. The ranger smiling as she pointed out things to both Tyler and Shera.
"This forest gets hunted pretty regularly. But we can find a few things here an there. See? A good bit of burdock root."
The catgirl collected the useful plant as Tyler spotted a familiar stalk growing out of the ground.
"and a healthy amount of ginseng."
The natives looked over curiously at the odd name as Tyler tore a five pound root from the ground. Thorn smiled.
"That's called Gilted Root here. A root of that size is easily worth 25k."
"we're keeping it as it be a very potent healing herb."
"I was about to say that. It's also very rare to find in that size. Not bad rookie."
HE chuckled as the ranger took the root when he spotted another familiar flower growing on a tree.
"Woah. A vanilla flower."
He walked up to the yellow leafed plant and Thorn frowned.
"I got it. That one's extremely valuable, Tyler. And rare too. Like it costs 50k at the apothecary."
Tyler smiled as he led the ranger harvest the flower.
"It grows on ivy vines. See these little leaves?"
The ranger chuckled.
"I see you know plants."
"Again. A thing or two here an there. And it's extremely basic."
"Better then nothing. See anything else?"
He looked and smiled.
"Some mushrooms."
"I'LL take a look."
Sheria was watching with rapt attention as the more experienced members went about their foraging. winter smiled as she found a bush.
"I got some wild blackberries."
"Nice find Winter. Thorn?"
The catgirl ranger smiled.
"It's called parsy mushroom. A very tasty cooking ingredient. We can sell them to a local tavern for 1000 dragoons per pound."
"we can load up before we leave again."
The plants and mushrooms were harvested and they were moving on through the loosely packed undergrowth of the forest floor. Tyler enjoying the peace of the hunt as a soft breeze blew through the green leaves above their heads and pools of sunlight added to the effect. Sheria was right beside the tall boy as Thorn smiled.
"We got drake tracks."
The warrior walked over and took a look.
"What we lookin-oh my god."
He instantly recognized the set of rounded tracks in the dirt. Then smiled widely.
"I'd know those anywhere. Gallimimus."
Thorn blinked.
"The name of the creature from my world. We're about ten minutes behind it."
"Oooookay. You have them too."
"Oh yeah. And I know a helluva lot about these things. Come on."
He pulled his bow and followed the trail.
"See the distance between strides Sheria? That and the depth tell me we're looking at a 7 foot tall animal. Fact the trail is a mere line says there's the one beast. Since the tracks are so close together mean's it's relaxed and roaming. it gets running we'd never catch it."
She gaped at his in-depth knowledge as Thorn smiled.
"I see they ARE natives."
"That went extinct in my world, but we found their bones. I kinda became obsessed with them and learned everything I could about them. Oh here we go."
He stopped as a soft clicking was heard ahead and drew on his bow with the arrow ready. Ahead was seen a small hump of the back of the creature and Tyler smiled as he tracked the movement behind a bush. Then he released his arrow. There was a loud goose like honk as the thing fell over. The party walked over to find the 8 foot tall ostrich-like lizard on the ground with the arrow in it's flank just above the leg. it hissed at them like a snake but Tyler just slit it's throat with his knife as Thorn whistled.
"Impressive. You completely locked up it's skeleton WITHOUT killing it."
Tyler smiled as he retrieved the arrow.
"The thing's long legs are it's greatest asset and it's greatest weakness. Don't bother going for the heart or lungs. Put an arrow in the hip and it can't go anywhere."
Thorn nodded sagely.
"My Master taught me that same lesson when I first learned to hunt a forest drake. They run extremely fast, but that is all. Now do you know how to skin it?"
"Allow me."
The kindly catgirl taught the two rookies how to properly skin a 250 pound forest drake while Winter foraged for plants.
"I got a walnut tree."
"Thorn, wanna take Sheria into the branches?"
"Thanks. I think I got it."
The two girls climbed into the tree as Tyler collected the rest of the animal. Winter smiling as she came over.
"I found some more burdock, more blackberries, and even a few bulbs of marigold."
"Nice. we got a good bit this run."
Thorn and Sheria dropped down from the tree and the ranger smiled.
"We got ten pounds of good nuts. Sheria puts squirrels to shame!"
The blonde smiled shyly as the last of the drake was collected.
"Alright. wanna keep going?"
The ranger nodded.
"Sure. It was only a single forest drake."
The party got moving with the friends foraging as they went. Tyler smiling as they found another forest drake that Thorn dropped in a similar manner to his. This one having an odd purple hue to it's snake skin like hide. Sheria was helping winter forage for useful plants while Tyler and Thorn hunted. The sun was directly overhead when the ranger nodded.
"we'll go unload now. we're pretty far out."
"You da cat."
"I hate it when you do that."
They laughed as their orange furred friend led them to a road that would take them back to Dragel. Only for a group of ten men to appear in front of them after fifteen minutes. Tyler smirked.
"Been a bit since we fought bandits."
Sheria smiled as she pulled her shortsword.
"I'll get one myself!"
The man in the lead lifted a black tipped staff and Winter became serious.
"Black mage! Snow wall!"
The man laughed.
"Black hell! You're out matched little fairy!"
"Oh really? Rapid lunge, double strike."
Tyler exploded into motion under the power of his speed boosting skills as his and the girls vision went black. The boy shut his eyes tightly and laughed.
"idiots! I was born in the dark!"
The boy reached the group of bandits and the first one to die was the black mage as his staff was sliced in half alone with his torso as the blood hungry warrior turned a sideways flip that split a second bandit in half. The mobile fighter then spun a circle with the blades outstretched, taking two in the throat before again planting his feet and lunging at a presence directly to his left. The man screamed as his head hit the ground,
"We're good Tyler!"
He opened his eyes to find he could see again and that one man was still alive per their bandit fighting. The warrior looked over at Winter,
"You good/"
"We're okay! You killing the mage negated any spells he had up."
Thorn smiled.
"So you can fight blind. No wonder you wanted to hit tyhe goblin cave to prove a point."
Tyler chuckled as he walked over to the trembling survivor.
"I've always bene scary good in the dark. I got a story to tell ya some time. Now. YOU."
The man was shaking as Tyler pulled his knife.
"Your camp?"
"He had the map!"
Thorn tok the thing from the dead black mage,
"It's real."
The boy carved two Xs on the survivor's face before knocking him out cold. Tyler next pulled his license to check for bounties and found the mage had one.
"Yao the Black. Reward dead: get this. 25k."
"Oh they hate this guy."
"And this guy. Mark. 1500. Heh. No wonder he shit himself. He's wanted alive."
The group laughed as the bounties were secured while winter took the ruined black staff.
"I'll offer it to the Snow. That spell he used too. It's actually a banned spell as it's supposed to ruin your eyes. but since you killed him while it was still taking effect it was negated."
"Phew. I was worried Sparkles lost her sparkles."
Shera blushed at that as the blue eyed girl helped loot.
"Where we at?"
Thorn tossed a bag of coin over.
"2500 dragoons, a rather nice one handed axe, and the bounties."
"Let's head for the camp. I'm betting they had captives."
The friends got to walking as Tyler carried the bounties they'd tied together for transport. The camp was set inside a small meadow and was comprised of 14 one person tents with one larger tent near the center. Tyler walked in and sighed.
"Got one!"
There was a blonde haired woman tied to a bed covered in cuts, bruises and various fluids from her sessions. winter came in as Tyler cut her bonds,
"She's been used as a target for evil spells. You're safe now, Miss."
The woman looked at Tyler with bright blue eyes.
"My daughter! Please! find her!"
"What's her name?"
Tyler blinked. Then smiled.
"Hey Sparkles!"
Winter cast her spells as Shera came skipping into the tent.
Only to stop dead in utter shock as the blonde looked at her.
The friends smiled as the two reunited. Sheria sobbing hard as her mother nearly crushed her with her hug. Tyler passed the woman a cloak as she recovered herself.
"Thank you. How?"
Sheria smiled.
"He's a Hero! And my big brother!"
Tyler smiled as he sat by the shocked woman.
"we rescued her from a bandit camp. Now she's running with us. And has been learning well."
The woman hugged the boy hard now.
"Thank you Hero. My name is Meria Goldenshroud. Is she still going with you?"
Sheria blinked and became very nervous as Tyler smiled.
"I'd prefer she did. Kinda like having her around."
The girl sighed with relief as Meria smiled proudly.
"I'd hoped you'd say that. They killed her father when he tried to fight back, but kept me. What will be my fate?"
Winter smiled.
"We'll take you to the Snow."
"That sounds lovely, Priestess."
Tyler helped the woman to her feet and noted she was an older Sheria with a large rack. She pulled the cloak on as Thorn came in.
"I got some robes you can use Meria."
"Thank you Lady ranger."
The friends looted the camp as Sheria and her mother caught up. Tyler smiling as he saw the blonde mother smile with pride as her daughter bragged of her kills and Rose. Thorn perked up.
"We're done."
"12k dragoons."
"Not bad for a bunch a idiots."
Sheria came over as the friends got ready to move out and claimed her seat on his shoulder. Meria had such a happy glow as she watched her daughter take her place.
"I have never been more proud of her, Hero."
"My name's Tyler."
"Tyler. Look after her, okay?"
Tyler hugged the small girl.
"Just cause I like her."
They left the camp with the bounties and the still weak Meria. She leaning heavily on Tyler's shoulder as they returned to town. winter leading the way to the Snow temple where the Mother hugged Meria hard.
"We welcome a new Drop."
Sheria sniffed and the Mother smiled.
"Peace child. You may visit her as you feel."
"Yay! bragging!'
They laughed at her joy as Winter explained.
"Being a mother in the Snow is a high honor. So her daughter gets access even during her training."
"Neat trick. You good?"
The two hugged hard before Sheria took his hand.
"I'm okay, big brother. Mommy's here now."
"Alright. we'll see ya around Meria."
The blonde smiled.
"Thank you Tyler."
The party left the temple and headed to the local smithy to sell their drake loot. The friends walked in to find an elf running the shop this time and he smiled.
"Welcome Hero. How can I help?"
Tyler chuckled.
"You buy forest drake hide?"
"I do. it make great leather. lay it out lad."
They unloaded their haul and the elf nodded.
"You got lucky. I can give you 2359 for the lot."
They kept the herbs for their crafting as they next went to the nearby tavern to sell the meat. The lady running the thing smirked as she saw the full packs.
“Whatchya got?”
“forest drake.”
“Pay based on cut.”
They again unloaded and the woman nodded.
“Not bad. 1524.”
“Good deal.”
Thorn smiled as they headed to the apothecary next.
“I’ll sell the vanilla flower. Since I’m a ranger I’ll get the better deal.”
Inside the apothecary shop sat another elf. She smiled as Thorn placed the flower on her counter.
“You have a good eye Cat. 44k.”
The party then had the bounties to turn in. Thorn again playing guide.
“The collection office is at the main keep.”
So Tyler dragged the two bounties they had to turn in as Sheria bounced beside Winter hand in hand with the pretty Snow priestess. The keep of Dragel was a large structure made from a yellow stone with a full outer wall and medieval castle feel as the party walked into the place. The booth being set in full view of the front door, the city nobles, and the throne where the leader sat. Tyler smiled as they were faced with another Nekosian who smiled as they approached.
“Welcome to the Dragel collection booth. How may I assist?”
“One dead one live.”
“I see. The slab is ready.”
Tyler put the dead guy on the slab and closed the shackles on the sobbing live guy. The catgirl nodded once they were retrieved.
“Yao the black and Mark the deserter. Well done. The black is worth 25,000. The Deserter is 1500. So your total is 26,500. Most impressive.”
They got paid and Thorn offered the bandit’s licenses next.
“I see. I will take them for 900.”
“Good deal.”
“Tail Sister.”
Tyler tilted his head as they got paid and Thorn chuckled.
“It means we’re of the Tail but not related. It’s a show of respect.”
“Ah. Weird place.”
That got a laugh as the coin was taken for splitting. The party went to leave when a runner came into the hall making for the throne.
“Make way! make way! I’ve a report from the Guard Captain for the Lady!”
Tyler sighed.
“Come on. That’s how it starts.”
Thorn and Winter also sighed.
“In every story.”
“Right place, wrong time.”
Sheria was confused.
“It’s just a runner. Why do you think it’s about us?”
“It’ll be better just to show you. Come on sparkles.”
The now mystified blonde took her seat on his shoulder as the party went to the throne now. They reached it as the Duchess appeared. Tyler blinked.
“Iris was NOT kidding. Damn.”
His friends sighed as the beautiful woman walked into view. She was a tall woman with deep purple hair that was nearly black and very pale skin that seemed to glow just enough to be noticeable. Her face was round with delicate features while her eyes were a striking color of green that outshone the best of emeralds. Her bust was massive and seemed to bounce with every step inside the thin gown of flowing red silk she wore. Thorn sighed.
“You gonna win her too?”
“Nah. Iris and Rose are the ones I’m after. She’s just fun.”
He snorted at Winter’s relief.
“And what is that for?”
“I like beauties. Sue me.”
The friends laughed at his offended tone as the statuesque woman took her seat and the runner bowed.
“Lady Nightshade. Captain Garrick has sealed of a building in the Soth district on the suspicion of a Demon. he requests immediate summoning of a Snow Priestess in this matter.”
Tyler poked Sheria’s leg.
“That’s why.”
The blonde blinked as fearful whispers broke out among the nobles.
“How did you know?”
“It’s called a trope. Or. Something always happens in a story. We’ll handle it. We got a Snow!”
The hall parted to let the party walk up to the throne where Winter bowed.
“Lady Nightshade. I am Winter Icecaller of the Snow Sect. What is this about a demon?”
The lady smiled.
“It seems we have a fated turn of events. Who is your party leader, Lady Winter/”
Tyler walked up.
“I am. My name is Tyler. I know it sucks. And I’m a Hero.”
The woman smiled wider.
“Oh my. So YOU’RE the one that ruined Iris.”
“Just utterly. Looking to forfeit your legs?”
She laughed as Sheria blinked.
“wow. That one was good.”
“I got ways.”
The duchess smirked.
“I am called Nightshade. This is most fortuitous. Deal with this demon. You may claim your reward after.”
“A lay with YOU is a true prize.”
She shivered.
“Ooooh you ARE good. I grant the hero party full authority in this matter. Investigate the claims and saly it if it exists.”
“Sure. I like demons.”
The runner bowed.
“I am to show you to the building.”
The party followed along as Winter questioned the Hero.
“How well versed are you in demonkin, Tyler?”
“Very. Killing them I need work, but for the most part I understand them.”
She smiled.
“Just stab em in the heart. It works on everything from the lowly doppelganger to the mighty archdemons.”
“It’s probably a lower demon. A lesser pride tops.”
“My thoughts exactly. A balor or above would have attacked the city by now.”
“Well. Least we got Sheria.”
The blonde squeaked at the sudden name drop before smiling widely.
The friends laughed as they entered the Soth district and were led to a mass of armored knights in a wall formation with a white robed priest praying at the door. Tyler went right to the armored man with a red stripe on his helm.
“I’m Tyler and a Hero. She’s of the Snow. What do you know captain?”
The men visibly relaxed as the captain banged a fist on his mail.
“Lord. We received a report from a young girl about a possible murder inside the building. We sent in knights to investigate and all we heard were screams and clashes of steel and nothing. Look there.”
Tyler looked up to see the windows had been coated in blood from the inside.
“Why do you think it’s a demon?”
“The overall feeling of the area and the coldness of the front door. Test it.”
Tyler did and frowned.
“Hmm. Yeah i feel it.”
He looked at Winter.
“That’s the feel of the lower realm. Okay.”
He looked back to the captain.
“Where’s the girl that made the report?”
“Inside the Snow temple for a cleansing ritual and healing.”
Winter nodded.
“Not even an archdemon can pass that threshold without effort. And we’d have known by now if it tried. The girl is clean.”
“Not why I wanted her. She’s the only one from inside we can talk to.”
Thorn nodded.
“Agreed. We’re going in blind.”
“Not entirely. I know that feeling. You.”
The priest was the next for the questions and winter frowned.
“Don’t bother. He’s of a temple for barriers. That’s all they do. Is make barriers.”
“Ummm. Winter? What keeps demons out/”
She blinked.
“The Wall. A type of berr-by the Snow!”
The priest blinked and Tyler smiled at him.
“YOU don’t go anywhere. Captain. Make sure he doesn’t.”
“Now what is that building?”
“An orphanage Sir.”
“Oh shit. Yeah. I thought I recognized that feeling.”
The priest was detained as Tyler walked over to the front door and booted it open with a bang. Winter smiled.
“Bold and brazen.”
“A fucking dare.”
Sheria gulped as they walked inside.
“We gotchya Sparkles.”
The party walked in and the door slammed shut behind them and locked. Tyler chuckled as Sheria was shaking.
“Typical. Hey. Blondie. You gonna sit there and shake?”
She blinked.
“I’m scared!”
“That’s all it takes? Come on, Sheria. You’re better then that.”
That made her sniff.
“I’m not as strong as you big brother. I still get scared.”
“Then draw that sword, look your fear in the eye, and tell it to go fuck itself. We ALL used to get scared, and now look at us.”
Thorn smiled.
“I pissed myself the first time I ever a kobold.”
winter smiled as well.
“I used to jump at every shadow as I was just that type of scaredy cat.”
“Sorry! I forgot!"
Tyler laughed at Thorn's offended tone. Sheria gulped before looking at Tyler.
"What were YOU scared of?"
"The dark."
All three looked at him in mild shock and he shrugged.
"There was a time when just SEEING the dark was enough to set me off. Then I got tired of being scared and hit it head on. Now look at me."
Sheria screwed her courage up and hopped to the floor.
"I'll try big brother!"
"we got your back. Alright. Let's to this. Stick together period. It comes to it we're setting the damn place on fire."
They nodded and Tyler looked at the hall before them. Beyond the front door was a wide open hall made from hardwood and sparsely decorated by torn up paintings and darker splotches of soot. The floor was dirty and Tyler could see a layer of grime that only came from disrepair and neglect. To the right of the party was another door that had a sign that read office and so he walked over.
"We'll start with the orphanage itself. I'm thinking this place wasn't a good place to get sent to."
The door was kicked in and there was a large puddle of something on the floor. Tyler sighed as he dipped his sword into it.
"Blood. Three days."
Thorn nodded.
"I agree. And from the amount,"
"The body had lain there for a good while. And was most likely killed there."
Winter had her staff up as Sheria placed a hand on the snow priestess' staff for strength. Tyler looked up and saw a large hole in the ceiling.
"The attacker tore through the floor to get to it's prey. Which indicates a lack of intelligence but razor senses to detect prey through two feet of wood. Strength too."
Winter spotted something.
"That board looks burned."
Tyler reached up and found he could reach it.
"Burned? That thing's freakin charcoal! See how it ends about halfway down the plank? Extreme heat but not far from the source it turns to room temp."
Thorn was looking around the desk the pool of blood was thickest around.
"Got a photo."
Tyler looked at the wide shot of the occupants.
"No mistaking that look. This place was a hell for those sent here. That woman's a predator, he's a rapist, she's a sadist, and he's both. Yeah. We got demon catnip here."
Sheria gulped again as a loud bang was heard from upstairs,
"Helllpppp meeeeee!"
Tyler sighed as the ethereal voice was heard and Sheria clutched Winter's leg in terror.
"Shut up! Idiot. That shit don't work on me."
Sheria was shaking like a leaf and Tyler looked at her.
"I hate to be harsh to you, Shera, but get your shit together. If you freak out now, I'm dumping you at the Snow temple."
The girl bawled.
"I'm sorry! I'm scared!"
"Are tyou my sister or NOT?"
That hit a nerve. The girl stopped shaking and drew her shortsword as Tyler's question made her angry.
"I AM your sister you freakin asshole!"
"Act like it then."
"Fuck you!"
"There it is!"
The blonde wasn't shaking anymore but WAS pissed. Winter smiled.
"My Mother did the same thing to me. Only with a ruler."
Thorn winced.
"My Master made me fight a wolf barehanded."
"We all had to go through hell to gain our strength, Sheria. It's how you get stronger. If YOU panic, you get the guy next to you killed. Take your fear head on and channel the feelings into your sword. IT will never let you down. And as long as you still stand, NEVER let your fear rule your heart. Okay?"
She nodded.
"I understand. You're still an asshole though."
They laughed at her cute fury as Tyler next looked at the hole.
"room by room. Floor by floor. I want answers."
They nodded and got moving. Sheria walking beside Winter without holding her hand. Tyler went to the next door and tore it open to reveal just a closet. Thorn smiled.
"Maybe not EVERY room."
The boy sighed.
The ranger did and sighed as well as she saw the pool.
"Some kid tired to hide."
"Not what I meant."
Tyler next pointed to a set of shackles embedded in the wall just out of view of the door.
"Hang a coat there."
"You'd never see them. And that height?"
"Perfect for a child toy. I knew it was bad, but I didn't think it'd be THAT bad. basement last."
They nodded as they moved further down the halls,
"Please! Stop! I'll be good! Someone! Anyone! Helllppp meeee!"
There was the whisper like pleading again and this time Sheria ignored it as low whispers were heard all around them but were unable to be made out. Tyler led them to a intersection in the main entryway and headed to the right. The next door was locked, but Tyler used Thorn's lockpicks and had it open in 5 seconds. Inside was a small room with another desk and chair. No blood or hole in the roof this time as the hero opened the desk drawers.
"Hmm. Got 10 dragoons. That's a plus I guess."
The room being some type of sitting room with the desk, a long couch, and a chair. Tyler then sighed.
"Got anchor points for chains above the couch."
winter was saddened.
"when we're done I'll offer a prayer for these poor souls."
Thorn was looking at the walls when she jumped in shock.
"Woah! That freakin painting just lunged at me!"
Tyler looked over at the image of a tall man in a black suit and smirked.
"The classic jump scare. Useless."
The fearless boy walked over and tore the painting off the wall.
"Yer gonna have to apply effort to get to us you reject from shit"
There was a low guttural growl from above them that made the boy and Winter smirk.
"You really DO understand demonkin."
"When in doubt? Piss it off. Anyway. Got a safe."
Thorn looked over at the small wallsafe.
"Think you can crack it?"
Tyler smiled.
"I got a trick for it. watch this."
He placed his ear against the steel door and turned the knob to set it clicking.
"That's one."
Thorn blinked as he had the safe open in 10 seconds.
"You crack safes?"
"Had a repair job in my old world that sometimes got this types of jobs. Owner forgot the combination and needed it cracked. I kinda got good at it."
"Of course you did."
Tyler opened the thing and inside were a stack of papers, a ring, necklace, pouch and a book. He took the loot out and passed the papers to Thorn as the ring, necklace and pouch were put in his pack as he read the book aloud.
"Today Margerat came in today for her daily session. As usual she cried and begged, but in the end she obeyed like a good little girl. her groans are among my favorite. Jesus. This is a woman writing this thing! every fucking entry is about her tormenting one of the girls in the orphanage!"
He flipped through as Thorn, Winter and Sheria were on the verge of vomiting. Thorn confronting him.
"WHY are you reading that? and how are you unaffected?"
"I've read worse. This is bad, don'[t get me wrong, but yeah. I've seen worse. and I'm seeing if there's anything we can glean on just WHAT we're dealing with. Last entry. Clarica had her monthly hell last night and has been acting strangely of late as well. My opinion is she may have become expectant with the Lord's child, being a favorite of his that she is. A shame that, as her moans were among my favorite. And that's it. Nothing more. Great."
He put the book in his pack and winter had a single tear fall.
"The book?"
"To be thrown in Nightshade's face."
"Okay that I agree with."
The room searched the friends went to the next door that wasn't locked. Only inside they found their first victim.
"Got a dead knight."
The room was a clear office with desk, chair and couch set up for talking. There was a horrifically mutilated armored knight on the floor and Shera shuddered but didn't look away to her credit. Tyler grimaced as he saw the mangled body.
"Yikes. he did not die quickly. Thorn. We got a baseline."
The two got to work examining the corpse as winter and Sheria looked around the room. Tyler noted the rents in the thick steel plate armor went right to skin and there were no signs of resistance met.
"These are really clean cuts, Thorn. Specially in the mail."
"And he was eaten too. He';s missing an arm and a leg. The bone was bitten and gnawed to breaking."
"Two attackers?"
"At the least. There's his sword."
Tyler took the blade.
"Yeah he tried. See here? he hit the thing at least, but I DON'T like the soot along the edge. It's almost like the steel was burned."
"Got another book."
Tyler flipped through the offered thing.
"Thanks Winter. This one is about torture and rape this time. Last page. Clarica was silent the entire time of our session this morning. Odd as her screams are among the most piercing. She has been very quiet of late and as been heard giggling in odd corners as if to an unseen friend. Clarica has appeared twice in these. we have a name."
The book secured Thorn found a another necklace and coin pouch on the dead knight they added to their loot with the sword. There was another painting that Tyler took off the wall, only to find no safe. The room empty they moved to the next one, as more loud bangs were heard from above and the sound of dragging. The friends ignored the sounds as they went to the last door on the side of the hall and found it jammed shut by something on the other side. Tyler smirked as he saw the moorings for the hinges.
"Here's another trick i know."
He took the pickaxe from his pack and set the needle tip against the iron hinge mooring and gave a yank to set it under the metal before yanking on it in the opposite direction thus tearing the thing out of the wall with a crunch. Thorn smirked.
"Neat trick."
The second set were torn out and the door was removed to reveal a bookcase had been moved in front of the thing. Tyler grabbed it and shoved it aside with a grunt. Inside were the remains of four more knights that had clearly tired to seek shelter from whatever was hunting them and had been partially successful. except the thing or things had torn through the ceiling again and they'd found themselves locked in. Tyler nodded at the knights.
"Let this be a lesson Sheria. ALWAYS have a backup escape route."
The blonde nodded with huge blue eyes as she saw the fates of the trapped knights.
"I'll be careful."
Tyler and Thorn examined the corpses as Winter and Sheria searched the room. The knights being killed by melee attacks that had torn through their armor and broken their weapons while leaving the same soot coating upon both.
"Got some papers on the kids."
Tyler took the packet and nodded.
"his is merely a ledger of incoming and outgoing orphans. Sad part? MORE were coming in then going out."
They added the evidence to Tyler's pack before going to the next room across the hall as a loud snapping sound was heard upstairs. Sheria was curious.
"ARE we going up there?"
"Eventually. Right now we take it nice and slow, Sheria. More we know the better we can react."
The door revealed a small storage closet for brooms, mops and buckets. The wall out of sight of the door also had a small set of shackles set into it but nothing of use or import. They moved back down the hall on their investigation and passed the front door that was now blocked by a bookcase not one of them had heard move. The Hero smirked as they reached the next door on the left hand side of the hall.
"I've seen comedies scarier an this."
The door was locked and Tyler blinked.
"Stack up."
Thorn took aim at the door with her bow as winter readied a spell and Sheria took an offset spot with her shortsword as Tyler picked the lock, having sensed something was on the other side of the door. The warrior had it picked in 4 seconds and it flew open to reveal a howling creature in knight's armor as it lunged at Tyler with razor sharp limbs. Tyler merely danced to the side as Thorn's arrow took the thing in it's split skull as Winter cast a spell.
"Sacred Cold1"
The thing screamed like a person as it's body glowed a deep blue before bursting into blue flames and dropping to the floor. Sheria stabbed it with her sword,
"That's what you get for scarin me!"
They chuckled at that as the flames died and the creature was still. Tyler used his longsword to flip it over onto it's back to reveal a knight. Only the front of the knight had been completely torn open with his entrails dangling from the hole in his formerly shining steel plate while his face was split like a cracked vase and had black ooze dripping from the crack. Winter gave a disgusted sound.
"Ew. A Rot doppelganger. They possess dead bodies and use them to feed on the living."
Tyler looked back at the other rooms and Winter smiled.
"They can only possess certain types. They were clean. This one must have been a most rotted person indeed."
"explains why we haven't encountered any staff yet. Nonmagical kill?"
"Head or heart."
"Alright. Let's see what he was guarding."
Winter jabbed the corpse with her staff as she glowed.
"Holy Rest."
The corpse was then encased in a white fire that had an oddly soothing feel as the body, armor and all simply evaporated. The Snow Priestess lowered her head.
"May the water you create bring peace to another."
The rite completed they went into the room. Tyler looked at the mage.
"Was that a last rite?"
She nodded smiling.
"We of the Snow hunt demons and their ilk like undead. The possessed we offer rites to purify their ruined souls so they may be reborn as live giving water."
"Neat trick."
The room inside was another office with desk, couch and chair. Only this time behind the painting was another safe. Tyler cracked it as the girls searched for information as Tyler smiled.
"Another book, ring, pouch, and a knife."
The hero looked through the book.
"Hmm. Another rapist journal. This one a man."
The book was added to the collection as winter examined the knife.
"This is enchanted with a cursed spell. Thorn. Willing Hell."
"These poor souls! How the hell was this allowed to happen?"
Tyler sighed as he looked at a more blown up version of the group shot on the wall.
"Places like this ALWAYS house horrors. No one wants these kids, so anything goes as no one will look twice. I'm thinking the nobility came here to play too."
Thorn and Winter had a tear fall for the tortured children as Sheria sniffed.
"Are people really that evil?"
Tyler sighed and looked at the couch. It too having a set of mounts for chains.
"They are, little Sheria. Demons have nothing on the horrors another person can inflict on their own. Demons have a reason. people will do these things just cause they can."
Thorn and winter sighed sadly at that one as Sheria hung her head. Then the Hero sighed.
"Let's get to the bottom of this hell. We can that much. And I am going to TEAR Nightshade a new asshole for this."
They nodded with renewed determination as winter then explained the enchantment.
"Willing Hell forces the cut to enact the cutter's desires. whether they want to or not. Once cut that's it. You obey until the holder of the knife dies or passes said knife to the cut or another person. The ones cut by the knife are fully aware of what their bodies are doing but are utterly helpless. They can talk, but that is all. It's a Cursed Spell and just possessing it is a hanging offense. Tyler. I shall carry it."
The boy passed it over as the empty safe screamed in mocking laughter at the party as the door slammed shut and heavy stomps were heard outside the door. Tyler just walked to the door and kicked it with an enraged fury. The wood simply shattered as a low, frustrated guttural growl was heard as the party walked into the empty hall. Tyler smirked.
"I grew with much worse."
The friends moved to the next room and found it to be an empty closet. Same with the next one, only it had some brooms inside. And that was it for rooms on the first floor. Tyler found a set of stairs leading up and walked up them like he owned the freakin place. The stained walls had small head portraits of the children living there and more staff as they reached the second floor. The first thing they noticed was a line of mutilated knights in armor with smaller bodies scattered all over the place. Tyler sighed as he saw the grisly scene.
"Found them."
The party moved to the first door and Tyler kicked it open to reveal a kid standing in a corner looking at the wall. Sheria was about to race over with a hug when Tyler placed a hand on her shoulder.
"That's NOT a boy."
Winter nodded and lifted her staff.
"Frigid Purge."
A small dome of light blue beamed out of her staff and slammed into the unsettling boy in the corner. He screamed an unnatural two tone scream as he spun around to reveal his face had been eaten to the bone and leaking some dank fluid. The boy was then set on fire with the same blue flames as the knight before dropping to the floor with a thud. Winter sighed.
"Fear Doppel. That poor boy was in the deepest throes of terror when the thing found him."
Sheria was shivering at the sight she'd just seen as Winter preformed another rite. Thorn hugged the blonde as Tyler looked around the bedroom that housed two. namely the footlockers at the ends of the thin beds.
"Some clothes, a book on Heroes, and some dragoons. Poor bastards."
They went into the hall where the majority of the corpses lay.
"Winter. Use the dome spell again."
The dome hit each corpse and three screamed as they were set on fire. One rushed them while burning and Tyler stabbed the thing in the heart with his longsword before it dropped dead again. Winter grimaced.
"Rot doppels all. I see these ones were not good people."
More rites were preformed as they moved to the next bedroom that housed a staff member by the size of the bed and the desk set against a blood stained window. The warrior had the locked desk open as the girls searched.
"Got more dragoons, another ring and book. This one a diary."
He flipped through it.
"This one belonged to the head housekeeper. she had a fondness for the boys and was also worried about Clarica. Cause she was the only girl she enjoyed."
The book added they moved on as a sound of banging was heard from downstairs this time and Sheria sighed.
"we JUST cleared that one."
"It's how cowards operate."
"I guess."
There was another growl as the friends kept up with their investigation. The next three rooms being mere storage with nothing of worth. Then they opened a door and found the main dormitory with two dozen sets of bunkbeds. Tyler frowned.
The girls nodded as they walked in. Then the door slammed shut behind them as a low scream was heard at the other end of the room where close to thirty possessed corpses screamed at them. Tyler sighed as he saw them.
"Called it."
Winter raised her staff.
"Hallowed Ground!"
Tyler had his longswords out as Thorn readied her bow and Sheria her shortsword. The mob rushed them and Tyler was there to meet them with his whirling style allowing for three stabs to three hearts before they knew what hit them.
The magic attack stunning two more corpses as Winter had her next spell ready.
"Holy Smite!"
Three beams of light exploded from her staff's wave that tore through the possessed bodies dropping a fair few as Thorn fired her bow, the arrow taking another in the heart. Sheria didn't really have a place in such a specialized fight and so waited her chance as the last dropped. Tyler grimaced as he pulled his sword from his last kill.
"Poor bastards. Winter."
"On it."
The priestess preformed the rites for the bodies as Tyler, Thorn and Shera searched the room.
"got more dragoons."
The room cleared they moved to the next wing where the first room their walked into was the overseer's office. Tyler nodded.
"extra thorough. we may have names here."
The friends got to work with Tyler going right to the paintings on the wall with Sheria helping winter search the file cabinets with Thorn poking around the desk. The hero tore every painting off the wall until he found a full three foot wall safe behind the largest. He sighed as he cracked it.
"Tropes. Why is it always tropes?"
Inside he found a large pouch of dragoons, a wooden box that reminded him of a pistol case, a golden pipe, a 5 inch thick wad of papers, three books, and a pocket watch. He put the loot into his pack before opening the wooden box.
Inside was a pile of magically taken photos of small girls like Sheria doing various acts of depravity, either to other kids or adults. Alongside the photos was another knife he gave to Winter before adding the box to his pack for Nightshade's shock treatment. Next he leafed through the papers from the safe.
"Just as I thought. we got a list of clients here. And it ranges from the bum off the street to high ranking nobles in the city."
Winter sighed as she added her offering.
"More dragoons, files on the kids, and documents on paid services."
Thorn was gritting her teeth for hers.
"I got a recording crystal."
"Let's see."
She activated the small blue pyramid and it glowed before projecting an image of a small girl with red hair as she sobbed piteously while a long male appendage was offered to her. Tyler killed the recording there and groaned.
"This wasn't an orphanage. It was a damn brothel."
The friends offered a small prayer for the tortured souls before getting back to work. They found more evidence of the horrors of the souls inside before moving to the next room. Tyler now in a foul mood as he kicked the door in and another corpse lunged at them. Only for the angry boy to stab it in the heart to allow Winter to purify the thing. The second floor cleared they moved to the first again as Tyler sought the door to the basement. it being found in the building kitchens and the warrior tore the door off the hinges. There was a low sound of a small girl sobbing as the party reached the dark and dank basement. In one corner was a small girl with red hair sobbing in a small pool of light. She looked up at the sound of footsteps and revealed her eyes had been popped and her mouth had a thin line of white liquid dropping from it.
"Why? why did I have to get hurt? I didn't hurt anyone."
Her piteously heartbroken voice sent a shiver through the hearts of the friends as Tyler sighed.
"A despair demon. You can come out now."
The girl giggled now.
"How amusing, mortal. To know of one such as me."
There was a gut wrenching sound of crunching bones and tearing skin as the small girl's body grew with a tortured expression on her face into a 6 foot tall beast with razor sharp limbs in the shape of the girl. Winter shuddered.
"She must have prayed for aid to any that would listen. And it answered."
"Use that purify on her."
"Right. It won't save her though."
Tyler rushed the beast as the thing screamed.
"Don't hurt me anymore! I'll be good1 Please stop hurting me!"
Tyler gritted his teeth.
"This world isn't good enough for you."
HE stabbed it in the heart as Winter cast the spell and the thing was encased in the blue flames as the tortured girl sobbed in relief.
"It doesn't hurt anymore. Thank you."
Tyler took the ruined hand of the girl as the demon died.
"My name's Tyler. I'm a Hero."
The dying girl gasped.
"A hero? I'm Clarica! It's an honor!"
"I'm sorry I was too late to save the princess."
She giggled.
"You still came. I'm free at last. Thank you, my Hero."
"Sleep well, Clarica. My Princess."
There was a soft glow as the girl's body returned to her original form as the creature possessing her died. Winter came over as the hero hugged the small body tightly.
"We'll take her Home."
"I'll carry her myself."
There was a sound of breaking glass as the dour mood of the building shattered and the hero walked out of the basement. The gawkers outside were witness to the front door of the large house simply explode as the enraged hero tore through it. He grabbed the captain and the man shuddered at the look in the young man's eyes.
"Nightshade does NOT leave that fucking building until I get there. There is HELL TO PAY for what I found in there. Get. To it."
Effectively terrified the man sprinted off as Tyler next rounded on the priest.
"YOU. Name."
The trembling man gulped.
"Sloven Sir."
Tyler walked over,
"For Clarica. Go to hell."
He slammed his fist into the man's chest and tore his heart clean out of his chest. Winter and the other two shuddered.
"Oh he's pissed."
The guard got the fuck out of the angry boy's way as they saw the small bundle in his arm as he left the dead priest on the ground.
"Set the corpse on fire. It doesn't deserve to rest with people."
The boy went to the Snow temple where the priestesses wept for the small bundle he offered them.
"She deserved better."
The Mother hugged the small bundle that had been Clarica to her chest.
"We will preform her rite when you return Hero."
"I am NOT done with this city."
Now with two free arms the Hero marched to the keep and booted the doors in with such ferocity it nearly tore them from their hinges, scaring all inside. Tyler without breaking stride pulled the stack of books from his pack and slammed them into Nightshade's chest.
"I said. READ BITCH!"
now offended and angry she opened the first book and nearly threw up.
"Do NOT look away."
She looked up in horror as he dumped out fifteen more such books and the photos.
"How did you let this happen in YOUR city?"
The sheer fury in his voice was sending shivers of fear down the gathered nobles' spines as Nightshade had tears in her eyes at the horrors that had been perpetrated under her very nose. For the orphanage was not even fifteen minutes walk from her keep. Tyler slammed the packet of names into her chest.
"Find them. Or I will."
She took the list and was able to speak in the face of the Hero's rage.
"It will be done. I need to go to a temple and beg for the forgiveness of those poor souls."
"Are there other orphanages?"
A mountain of a man in red armor came running at her shriek.
"Secure the orphanages now. And begin a hunt. If you miss even ONE I'll kill you myself. MOVE WORM."
The hero's roar and the file he shoved into his mail inspired the man to immediate action and horns sounded around the city as the guards were turned out for an immediate purge and rescue as Tyler glared at Nightshade with a frightening intensity.
"YOU had better be at Clarica's burial, Nightshade. Or I'll be the reason YOU get buried."
She shuddered at the look in his eyes.
"I will. The Snow temple, correct?"
"Ma'am! Report!"
A knight came sprinting in to kneel. She nodded.
"Go on."
The knight shuddered.
"It was city wide. ALL the orphanages were being run as brothels. we're still finding things. How did you let this happen milady?"
Tyler's eyes went ice cold as he looked back at the woman.
"Were YOU involved?"
She went from terrified to enraged in a heartbeat.
"How DARE you? I-"
"Were. You. Involved? Yes. Or. NO?"
She glared at him now.
"No. I was NOT. I was a sex slave for most of MY childhood too you bastard."
"And you still let this happen. Pff. I guess you DON'T pay attention."
The now infuriated leader slapped the boy, only for him to smirk.
"How many times did you walk by that place? Daily? Or did you just sit in here eating your fancy meals and pretend not to notice?"
Nightshade was on the verge of a full on rage at his taunts as Sheria gave a disgusted snort.
"Only idiots ignore what's right in front of them. I hate her. Can we leave?"
The woman blinked before seeming to collapse in on herself at the condemnation in Sheria's voice. Tyler crossed his arms and shook his head.
"You're no leader. Just a woman that likes a fancy chair."
She had a look of utter heartbreak on her face as she looked at the boy.
"I'm sorry."
"Is it ME you need forgiveness from?"
"Those poor children. They are now taken in by my family. Those involved are to be put to death upon arrest and their holdings seized."
The black haired woman looked at Winter.
"I seek the Mother's Commune."
"Then let us proceed Home."
The nobles in the room were then pounced on by knights and many were simply put to death once their names were matched to those on the documents taken from the homes while Tyler and his friends escorted the shamed woman to the temple. The city was effectively thrown into chaos as the knights purged the vile ring of monsters from it's walls and brought the tortured children to the temples devoted to the healing deities. Nightshade hung her head in shame as the priestesses of the Snow temple looked at her in contempt and blame as the Mother looked down her nose at her.
"You are a wretched woman indeed; allowing such a horror to befall the most helpless of us all. You seek their forgiveness?"
"I do Mother. I am unclean and seek to look those that suffered in the eye."
"Then untrap yourself and enter the chamber."
Nightshade stripped naked and walked into a room that the Mother locked behind her as Meria grabbed Shera in a most desperate hug as the small girl told her tale of what they found. Tyler looked at the Mother.
"She is ready."
The boy was shown to a small in temple plot of ground where the small body of the girl was to rest. Winter blinked.
"She's to rest with the priestesses of the temple. No better place exists."
Tyler looked sadly at the red haired girl's body.
"Sorry I got there so late, Clarica. You deserved so much more than what you got."
There was a collective sob at the sadness in his voice as Thorn placed a hand on his shoulder.
"We can't save everyone, Tyler."
"It still bothers me. we were in they city while they were suffering."
The ranger squeezed his shoulder now.
"We're just people, Tyler. Not gods. Not even a god can save everyone. Sometimes we can't even save the ones we set out to save. Remember what you said to us. The world is not a nice place."
He smiled at that.
"Clarica deserved a better world. This one was just too shitty. I pray wherever she is it's a better one."
Winter and the other priestesses all began singing a mournful song of loss as Tyler placed the body into the plot and slid the slab of ice over it.
"I wish I'd gotten to know you Clarica. But rest easy now. They can't touch you anymore."
He walked away as the plot was filled with more ice before the rite was completed and the Mother placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Her soul is at peace."
He sighed and shivered a little.
"I hope so."
There was a low, happy giggle from the spot the body was buried and he smiled.
"I guess it is, if she can giggle like that."
The saddened boy was hugged by the tall Mother and many of the priestesses before letting him go. Then he looked at the chamber Nightshade had gone into.
"So what's the deal with that?"
Winter explained smiling.
"If you seek to be forgiven for some wronging from the dead, you may enter the chamber and seek it out. It's a type of meditation and as such must be take as your true self, thus why she stripped naked. The spirits, if they be willing, may appear and offer solace and forgiveness if they feel you deserve it. If not, then you know you're truly beyond forgiveness."
Tyler looked at the fresh grave and Winter smiled.
"If you seek to be sure, you may. we have two chambers."
He smiled.
"I'd like to see her as she WAS. Not as she was when I found her."
The Mother smiled.
"My Daughter has chosen a most wonderful Hero to follow. The chamber is ready if you seek it."
Tyler walked over and stripped as well before walking inside while his friends watched his gear. Inside the room was a mere stone chamber with faintly glowing white crystals set in a circle around a small bench he went and sat on.
"Sorry Clarica."
There was a low giggle as a red haired girl came skipping out from behind a crystal. She was Sheria's height with vivid red hair and pale skin. Her eyes were a striking ice blue and she was clad in a white gown that dropped to her bare feet as she skipped over to sit beside the now clad also in white Hero.
"I didn't blame you, Tyler. You came. That's the piece you're just not grasping."
HE hugged her and she smiled.
"Nice to meet you, Clarica."
"Nice to meet you too, Tyler. You're warm."
"Coming from the cute space heater."
She smiled and rested her head against his shoulder.
"It's okay. I'm up there with the Snow now. All my friends are too. we play in the snow and are safe and happy. We won."
He sighed as he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and pulled the smaller girl close.
"It still bothers me. You're right, but it does"
"That's your own kind heart aching for us. Will this help? That necklace you found. The one that has the red stone? Open it like a locket. It's got my picture from before the orphanage inside."
HE smiled at that thought.
"If only to remind myself you ARE happy."
"You reminded me of Sheria!"
That made her laugh.
"There it is! And you reminded me of my own big brother. Only far fiercer."
He patted her hair.
"Thanks Clarica. I can come visit here right?"
"You can. but not very often. Like once a month tops."
"Are you in danger?"
"No. It's just not our place. Plus, well, we hate coming back here."
"Fair enough. Hey. You play in snow right?"
She giggled.
"Yup! It's fun!"
"When you get back grab a friend a yours and rub their face in a snow bank. It's called a white wash."
"That's mean! But hilarious!"
He hugged her hard again and she smiled.
"It was nice talking with you, Tyler. Thank you for rescuing me."
"Thanks for coming to see me, Clarica. I hope you have a better afterlife."
"I will."
He patted her hair and walked out to see his friends sitting by his gear. Winter smiled as he got dressed.
"Were you successful?"
"The Snow is far better with that red head running wild up there."
HE then reached into his bag and pulled the locket out and flipped it open to reveal Clarica smiling with a joyful light in her blue eyes at the taker in the same white gown. The image so clear it was like he was right there with her.
"I'm taking this one."
The girls hugged him as he put the locket on and put it under his chainmail.
"She'll get to join our adventures. Somewhat."
The others all shed a tear for the girl's pain, but smiled for her freedom as Nightshade left her chamber with deep tear stains on her face as she dressed. Tyler walked over and she hung her head in shame.
"I have to earn their forgiveness. I was a blind leader indeed. Thank you for the harshness Hero. I deserved it."
Tyler grabbed her hand.
"For Clarica."
"For them ALL."
The pair walked out of the temple and returned to the keep where a mob of outraged nobles were milling. Tyler leaned on a wall by the throne as Nightshade took her seat and pointed to the elected spokesmen.
"What is your grievance?"
The man bowed.
"Duchess Nightshade. We seek answers and retribution for the ones who were slain without a trial. Why have you take leave of your senses for?"
The woman glared at him.
"They were child preying monsters."
"Do you have proof?"
Tyler lifted the packet of papers into view.
"These outline every transaction your bastards paid for. And name them. what is YOUR name?"
"Reginald von lickton."
"I know you. You were one of Clarica's attackers. DIE."
The man screamed as the Hero pounced and tore his heart out in a similar manner before addressing the horrified nobility.
"The life of rape and torture you worthless bastards so enjoyed is at an end. if your name is on this list, you die. PERIOD. No trial. No questions asked. NO mercy."
Nightshade added her own orders.
"The most you bastards have to look forward to is a painless death. Come forward now for this mercy. if you do not, then the trolls get you upon capture."
Tyler looked at her curiously.
She smiled darkly.
"A race of monster that live under Dragel. They're cave dwellers and serve as a punishment when death alone is just too good for the condemned."
"Makes sense."
A group of knights were then moving through the nobles checking names as armed patrols moved through the city searching any of the places the children took refuge with the rescued kids placed with temples for raising and training to help their friends and earn a living. Tyler reached up and clasped the unseen locket,
"Rest easy Clarica. They ain't getting away this time."
He thought he heard her voice in his head.
"Thank you."
"Yes you heard me."
"Uh-oh. I didn't do what I think I did, did I?"
He felt her giggle.
"Yup! We're linked!"
"Oh fuck!"
"Relax. I'll see you in dreams and we'll get to play. Look at your License please."
He took his License out and looked at titles.
"Woah. I got a new title."
Winter and Thorn looked. The Snow Priestess gasped.
"Spirit Link? were you THAT broken up about her?"
"She reminded me of Sheria."
"Ah. Now it makes sense. Spirit Link is granted when you form an attachment to a dying spirit of such intensity the spirit is drawn to you. That girl now has one foot in the Snow, and one foot with you. Each night you can visit her in her realm and seek advice from the spirit or merely be with her. It's granted by each spirit. So it looks like Clarica gets to see our adventures after all."
He smiled at that as Shera took her seat on his shoulder.
"I'm here big brother."
"Thanks Sparkles."
He hugged the blonde girl as the knights left the room to keep the hunt going. With more then three dozen nobles being taken to the troll dungeon. Tyler then looked out a window and saw the sun going down.
"Let's get the loot divvyed."
Nightshade looked at him.
"I am sorry about the horrors, Hero. We WILL do better."
Tyler sighed as he headed for the door.
"Orphans should NEVER be placed in homes like that Nightshade. Not when you have temples that would take far better care of them."
The remainder of the nobles all hung their heads at that wisdom as Tyler led the party to the same inn as before. The matron running the place smiled sadly as they walked in.
"You seen some dark things today, Lad. If ya need a drink it be on us."
Tyler smiled.
"We ALL need a drink after that one. We'll split loot and relax."
His friends nodded as they went to the room. Winter put her ward up and Tyler sighed hard.
"I did NOT expect that. I knew something had happened in there to draw the demon, but jesus I didn't expect it to be that bad!"
Thorn grimaced.
"I have seen some true horrors in my time as a ranger, Tyler. Be thankful they are few an far between."
Winter nodded sadly.
"My training to become a priestess steeled me against the true horrors. But they never get easier to face. We did real good today, Tyler. Take heart in that."
Sheria was just hugging her brother as they talked. Tyler sighed.
"we helped those poor souls to rest and sent that demon back to hell. This is a victory we can brag about. Alright. Let's get this over with. I for one want to get hammered."
Thorn nodded.
"I second that."
Tyler pooled the loot they got from that nightmare in the middle of the room and the dragoons too.
"We got a lot from it. 35,534 dragoons, some rings, a few necklaces and I think that was it."
The jewelry was examined by Thorn and found to belong to the staff. NOT the poor souls that perished inside the hell. She smiled.
"These are all nonmagical. and together would fetch another 25,000. I say we sell them."
All heads nodded and the dragoons were up. Tyler doing the thinking.
"35,534 divided by 2 is 17,767. That goes to party coin. That again divided by 4 is 4,441 and one extra coin. we'll add that to party."
They took shares and Tyler blinked.
"Holy. I forgot about the bandit raid we had. Shit."
They laughed as Winter smiled ruefully.
"With THAT nightmare? I'm amazed you remembered period. Do over?"
Thorn nodded, also ruefully.
"It's the only way to be fair."
"Dammit. I hate math."
They patted Sheria's head fondly as she grumbled. Tyler sighed as the coin was ALL piled up on the floor this time.
"This time for sure. we got 125,317 dragoons total. Yikes."
Thorn chuckled in a unhappy manner.
"We nearly fucked up there. My second party had a similar thing happen with forgotten loot and when we remembered the party nearly killed each other over the cast doubt."
Tyler chuckled.
"we won't do that. we forget anything we'll just add it to party coin as a rule."
"Harsh, yet better then the alternative."
Tyler again played calculator.
"125,317 divided by 2 is 62,658 with one extra coin to party. Now that divided by 4 is 15,664 and one extra to party. This time for sure."
The girls all took shares and Tyler chuckled at the near miss. Then the friends went down to the tavern and got a hot meal for 150 dragoons and mugs of ale. Sheria as well. Tyler sighed as he lifted his mug.
"To those poor souls. May the Snow treat them better then the miserable bastards on this plane."
They banged mugs and threw em back before digging into a meal of drake and bread. Sheria giggling at her first ale after a hard day's work. Thorn and Winter keeping an eye on the small blonde as Tyler unwound from the fresh hell he'd witnessed. As he did he happened to glance over and saw a man looking at a glowing page like a book and mentioned it to Thorn.
"It's the news feature of the License. It's updated daily and helps those in the field or remote villages keep in touch with the events at large."
Tyler took his license out and Winter pointed to a small icon.
"see that? The question mark? Hit it."
He did and a bright blue news article two feet across appeared over the table.
"Neat trick."
He looked at the header.
"Ha! we made the news!"
Sheria squealed.
"read it big brother!"
"Alright let's see. A Demon in Dragel. We have a special report today reader from the golden city of Dragel. A demon of despair was banished from our plane of existence by a Hero and his party. But let us start at the beginning of this tale. And be warned reader, it be a most sad and tragic tale indeed. At just after noon the Duchess of Dragel, lady Nightshade, received a petition to summon a Snow Priestess to deal with a suspected demon infesting a local orphanage. I was present for the delivery of this message and attest to the truth of it personally. The Lady was about to make the call as a demon is NEVER to be merely dismissed, when a Hero by the Name of Tyler stepped forward with a Snow Priestess in his party. A most fortunate turn of events, as having a Hero AND a Priestess of Snow investigate would surely gain results. And the Hero in question is also well known for his bedroom exploits with the Queen and his pursuit of the lovely princess Rose. Bastard aims high. Lady Nightshade was also charmed by his roguish arrogance and aura of confidence as she wisely hired the Hero's party to investigate this supposed demon. Tyler, being a man of action, hopped to the task with a will and made his way straight to the reported to be infested building. He spoke with the captain of the guard sealing the building and became suspicious of the priest that had been called to raise a barrier to contain the scene. What set off the Hero's danger sense I am afraid I do not know. Then the ever brazen hero kicked the door to the beast's lair in with a smile and walked in like he owned the place! The door slammed shut behind him and as is the way of a demon lair, it was magically sealed from the outside. Those on the street then said there were the sounds of heavy combat inside as the Hero and his highly powerful party got to work of purging the demon and it's minions. They being inside for 5 hours before all went quiet before a sound of shattering glass was heard. Indicating a slain demon. Before the rejoicing could begin, however, the door to the orphanage was witnessed to simply explode as the now enraged Hero came through it carrying the small body of a girl that had been possessed by the demon. The Hero was then seen to order Lady Nightshade's position before confronting the priest again. He asked a simple question.
"What is your name?"
The Hero's entire demeanor had gone from charming arrogance to enraged ice at what he'd found inside that building. The priest was trembling as he answered.
"Sloven Sir."
The next words that came out of that hero's mouth chilled all in attendance to the bone.
"Your name was the list. For Clarica. Go to hell."
The Hero then tore the man's heart from his chest with his bare hands! The Hero was then witnessed carrying the small body of the girl to the Snow Temple where the priestesses were witnessed to weep for the lost soul. Tyler then marched straight to Lady Nightshade's keep and slammed a set of books into her chest with authority.
His voice was a mere growl. The Duchess tried to ask a question,
"I said. READ BITCH."
But the Hero was NOT in a mood to entertain her. So the Lady did read. Only to nearly vomit at the words written inside that book.
"Do NOT look away."
Tyler's growl sent cold fingers of horror down all that heard it as he dumped no fewer then fifteen more such books from his pack on the floor with magically taken photos and even a few recording crystals. The contents revealing a horror of the deepest kind, for that orphanage, a place that was supposed to be a refuge for those children that had nowhere else to go, was in reality a forced brothel where those of coin and knowledge could have their way with the poor souls forced to reside there. The Hero then slammed a massive packet of papers into the duchess' chest.
"Find them. Or I will."
And with that threat, the once fair city of Dragel has been thrown into chaos as ALL the orphanages in the city were then investigated and found to be of a feather to the hell the Hero had cleared out. Those tortured souls have since been placed in the care of the temples as Lady Nightshade was taken to task most harshly by the Hero for allowing this tragedy to occur to the poor children in her city. Those in attendance at the time say Tyler's criticisms and words were harsh, cruel, and unyielding to a most vicious extreme. And as for the fates of the named on the list? They were put to death as soon as identity was confirmed. Tyler's orders. NOT Lady Nightshade's. Those present at the time said to look into the young man's eyes at that moment he took the Duchess to task was akin to looking into the eyes of an enraged wolf and his words like it's snarls and barks as it bared it's fangs in preparation for the kill. The hunt is still ongoing as we put words to paper. Lady Nightshade was so shamed by the Hero's truth she sought the Snow for forgiveness for her sin. Reports also indicate Tyler himself also had to seek the solace of the chamber for his heart was in turmoil over the small girl he laid to rest with his own hands. The mugs of the guilds are raised high for those poor souls. May their rest be better then their wake. Tyler and his party are at this time resting from the strain of the horror. And not a soul can blame them."
Tyler smiled as he finished reading and Sheria grumbled.
"Dammit. They mention Winter but not me? I'm cute!"
They laughed at her anger and Tyler patted her blonde head.
"Always next time."
They chuckled as a Snow priestess walked into the tavern with a small girl behind her.
"Lord Hero. The Survivor wished a word."
Tyler looked over as the girl came over.
"Thank you for helping Clarica, Lord Hero."
The boy hugged the small girl hard.
"were you friends?"
She sniffed.
"we were. She always said something worse would happen to those bastards. I just wish she hadn't had to be the thing though."
"she's happy now."
The girl smiled widely.
"I know. I talked to her in the chamber. You better NOT lose that locket. I bought it for her!"
"I promise you I won't."
"You better not. You do I'll beat the shit outta you."
She smiled as he hugged her again.
"Thank you."
"Go be the better Snow then she is."
That made her smile as they left. Winter smiled happily as the door closed.
"The Snow will be the better for having them."
Tyler sighed as he touched the locket under his mail.
"It will. Clarica's up there."
Sheria hugged him and he smiled.
"Thanks sis."
The friends had another mug before booking a room for 250 dragoons and heading up. Tyler laying on the bed shirtless as Winter put her wards up. Sheria climbed up beside him also shirtless and he wrapped his arm around her like a teddy bear. Thorn and Winter on either side of the saddened Hero.
"Night Sheria."
"Night Tyler."
"Night ladies."
"Good night."
Tyler snuggled hard with Sheria as he closed his eyes, and tried to put the image of the small blonde girl he now cuddled with as the small corpse he'd been unable to save out of his mind.

DAY 7.
DRAGOONS: PARTY: 117,471. TYLER: 41,573
Tyler woke from his dreamless sleep to see Sheria asleep against him with him cradling her small frame like a drowning man thrown a life ring. He smiled as he snuggled her like a cat. I freakin love this cutie. She smiled as she opened her eyes.
"Morning big brother."
"Morning Sparkles. Feel good?"
"Great! You?"
He hugged her.
She giggled as they hugged before she blushed as the blonde remembered she was topless like he was. Then they both laughed at the scene. Thorn and winter woke up smiling and saw the bigger boy playing with his little sister first thing in the morning. The party then went down for breakfast where Tyler unrolled his map and Thorn smirked.
"Feel the itch?"
He sighed.
"More hate this city."
A pall fell over the friends at that admission and they ate in silence. Tyler pulled his License out and went to the morning article.
"A group of cawing crows. This morning in Drula a group of Heroes have been making a nuisance of themselves. Interfering in raids, sales of goods, even choices of meals at the local tavern under the pretext of them being adults or a therapist or some such nonsense and the ones they attempted to correct being children. King Emberis has issued a warning to them to stop harassing those of steel spine and fiery hearts and get to work as Heroes. The leader of the gaggle this time, a woman by the name of Helan, made a retort.
"We ARE doing the work of heroes! These kids are going down the wrong path in life and need the guidance of adults! Not blood hungry monsters! SOMEONE has to help them since you won't."
The King laughed at her.
"They don't NEED your help."
Another member of the gaggle named Michelle had another point to make.
"we're trying to prevent them from turning out like Tyler did. Drinking, whoring, kidnapping little girls, murdering people in cold blood. He's become a monster and we are doing what YOU should be: that is not allowing more to follow his horrible example."
The Queen Iris was in attendance as the woman made this statement, and smirked.
"Did you just call me a whore?"
The lady failed to heed the ice in the Queen's voice.
"YOU are a predator. He's 15! How old are you?"
The queen laughed.
"I am 750 years old, CHILD. And YOU need to learn your place. I received word from my old friend Nightshade last night about her encounter with MY Hero, you miserable crone. That boy is a force to be reckoned with. He's slain a despair demon and helped to purge an entire city of a child predator ring run in the orphanages. He has my pity for the things he must have seen inside those foul halls. Let's see YOU look a demon in the eye and NOT piss yourself."
The gaggle were offended by her tone and Helan spoke again.
"Tyler? He properly had his own fun at the expense of those poor souls like he did his sister. You're just defending him cause you slept with him. WE know his truth."
Now rightfully enraged, the Queen AND the King had the blind woman clapped in irons and thrown into a cell to think about her words. the rest of the gaggle were banished from the city. The offending woman will be released upon the morrow while the gaggle are banned from the city for the next two weeks. let us see how they survive."
Tyler closed the thing and sighed again as Shera hugged the depressed hero.
"You okay big brother?"
He smiled as he hugged the kind hearted cutie.
"Yeah. I'm alright, Sheria. Just the mess is bothering me."
Thorn smiled.
"WE need to have some fun. I know a good dungeon for fun."
He looked at her.
"what's it got?"
"It's the Drake Den. Drakes live in there and is a very popular riad for rookies looking to test themselves. It's decently challenging but with good loot."
Tyler smiled as he drained his mug.
"We need a good time. Alright."
Sheria took her seat on his shoulder as the friends paid their 150 dragoon bill before heading to the dungeon. Tyler was still down as they left the city as the previous days events ran through his head.
"You can let it go now."
He jumped as Clarica's exasperated voice came through his head. Thorn and Winter looked at him mildly amused.
"I guess he just found out about the OTHER effect that title grants."
"This is gonna be hilarious."
Sheria tilted her blonde head.
"What's it do?"
winter explained.
"It allows the spirit to directly contact him in his mind. In HER voice too."
"Ooooh. Okay."
Tyler chuckled as he recovered.
"I forgot you can do that."
"Ugh. Come on. We talked about this."
"I know. Just-"
"Hug her tighter then. Seriously. I'm safe. SHE'S safe. WE'RE ALL SAFE."
"It'll pass."
"wallowing is NOT your thing. Get your head outta your ass or I'll smack ya."
He busted up laughing and smiled as the boy hugged the blonde cutie.
"Thanks Clarica."
"By the Snow. Do I HAVE to babysit you?"
The boy chuckled as he let the hell he'd witnessed yesterday go and put Sheria back on his shoulder as the ranger led them to a large cave set into a hill two hours outside the city. Tyler smirked.
"I got an excuse to use prospect and mine."
The catgirl chuckled as she pulled her lance for a change of pace.
"You might get lucky with some coal or good tin. If you're lookin for gold, you'll be disappointed."
He looked at her.
"I got gold right here."
He swept Sheria up into a hug and patted her gold hair.
"See? It's gold."
Sheria blushed as Thorn smiled ruefully.
"I'm sorry. MORE gold."
The friends hugged the gold haired cutie warmly before turning back to the cave. Tyler pulled one longsword as they walked inside. The warrior smiled as they moved along the dirt floor hunting drakes. The place being nothing more then a mountain cave with a wide corridor. Shera was happily bouncing beside Winter as Tyler stopped them just before they passed a small cack in the wall.
"it caught my eye."
Thorn smiled as he placed his hand on it.;
A blue pulse was seen as it exploded out of his hand.
He smirked.
"Copper, tin, corundum, AND coal."
Sheria frowned.
"It's the mineral sapphires and rubies come from Shera. It's also a metal too."
Winter and Thorn looked at each other in mild amazement.
"If he gets even ONE stone, then he's got a scary loot sense."
Tyler took the pickaxe out and smiled.
A set of glowing targets appeared on the wall and he slammed the pickaxe into them, cracking open the wall like a ripe gourd to tear close to thirty pound of the minerals from the wall. Tyler took the 10 pounds of corundum and smiled.
"Oh yeah. I can tell already."
Winter was amazed.
"There’s easily 10 stones in there! The hell? That alone is worth is 75k! This one's scary!"
Tyler smiled at the Snow priestess' disbelief before looking into the cave, and sighing. Thorn placed her hand on his shoulder.
"Let it go, Tyler. Focus."
HE nodded.
"Dammit. She's right. Clarica's right. And yet I still can't let it go! The hell?"
Clarica chuckled inside his head.
"Bite me."
He laughed at the spirit's cute disgust and looked at the ranger cat.
"Come on. I need to get outta my ass."
Sheria sighed.
"Big brother. You're na idiot."
They laughed at her cute exasperation and got moving along the drake den. Tyler with his dual longswords out as they went. Only to get attacked by small four legged drakes with a hooked beak and small frill around their necks. Tyler blinked as he saw the group of 8.
"Protoceratops? Woah. Dinosaurs."
The boy sidestepped one and stabbed it in the side of the shoulder as the 3 foot tall beasts rushed him rumbling like oxen. Sheria squeaked as she copied his move to run her own target through the shoulder. Winter lifted her staff.
Thorn took advantage of the debuff to impale two of the beasts at once on her lance. The remainder fell easily enough and Thorn smiled.
"Not bad. Frilled drakes are easy. We can eat them too, but they're better off sold. The hides too."
Tyler shrugged.
"Eh. Four for us, rest we sell?"
Thorn and Winter smiled.
"That's fair."
"Indeed. I for one love frilled drake meat."
Sheria was looking at the black and tan hide curiously.
"I like the color. Can I get something made from it?"
Thorn answered as again, ranger.
"Sure. You can get a cloak made from it, Sheria. They're kinda comfy actually."
Sheria smiled.
The friends got to work skinning the things under Thorn and Winter's direction. Tyler lifted a hide taken from one and tilted his head.
"Kinda reminds me of snake skin. Not exactly the same, but you know."
He put the hide away as they got moving further into the cave dungeon. Tyler whistling as they went with Sheria skipping beside them all smiles as they passed a splintered wall that made Tyler blink.
"Yup. Secret room."
The boy tapped a knuckle on the cracked cave wall and smiled.
"Allow me."
He slammed his fist into the wall and it shattered to reveal a small chamber that housed an old nest with some eggs inside. Tyler walked inside and took one as Thorn explained.
"That's a Razor drake egg. Think 3 foot tall wolves."
"Can we hatch em for pets?"
"Sadly not. Good idea though. They're beasts through and through. Good eating though and fetch a very good price at the loot shop."
"That works."
The friends took the four eggs and got moving. Tyler finding the memory of the horror was fading and fading fast as they came to a large chamber with a nest set into the center. He blinked as he saw the eggs inside.
"Oh shit. I know those. Tric."
A low roar was heard as a massive beast came charging onto the scene with a rumble. The beast was ten feet tall and maybe 25 long with a massive frill around it's head, a bird's beak, and three large horns on it's face that Tyler frowned at.
"This is gonna suck."
Thorn smirked.
"Lady. Those horns? See the cracks? They been used. And it survived whatever attacked it."
Winter smiled as Tyler pulled his longswords.
"It's merely a Horn Drake. Nothing too special."
Sheria gulped and Tyler smiled.
"Stay by winter, Sheria."
The boy eyed the massive beast as Thorn pulled her bow.
"Think of it as a larger Horn Beast."
Tyler approached the beast cautiously as Thorn chuckled.
"There's a fine line between cautiousness and being paranoid, rookie!"
"I am not taking a chance here."
The beast rushed the boy and Thorn blinked at the speed it did so with.
"Oh damn."
Tyler jumped to the side and the beast reared on it's hindlegs to turn on a dime and lunge with the horns. The agile boy leapt on the animal and used the blind spot of the horns to get a good spot to stab both swords into the skull, piercing it and the brain. Killing the animal outright. Tyler was flung off as it dropped and Thorn laughed as he hit the ground.
"Cocky rookie."
Tyler got up chuckling as the party gathered around the dead animal, Thorn providing the answer.
"Meat's good, hide's great, and the horns are expensive."
Tyler and the three girls all dismantled the large animal before he looked in the nest, finding a small chest, 5 eggs, a greatsword made from a green metal, and an armband that struck him as outta place. The loot taken the happy party walked out of the cave, dropping more frilled drakes as they went. They were met by another adventurer party as they walked out and Tyler chuckled.
"Them things ARE fun."
The leader of the party of six laughed.
Then Tyler found himself at spearpoint.
"Now drop your loot and run."
Tyler blinked.
"Oh so this is a thing? Adventurers robbing adventurers. Huh."
Thorn snorted.
"It happens more an we like to think. We kill them and turn their licenses into the guild we get a dragoon payout for both an apology AND a reward."
A man lifted a green tipped staff.
Winter blinked.
"Paralyze spell!"
Tyler and his three friends were frozen in place and he chuckled.
"This is new."
The leader laughed.
"Ya got some right beauties in your party tough guy! I kinda like that blondie!"
"You touch her you die."
Tyler's eyes went ice cold and full of rage that the other boy took a step back. Then he sneered.
"Or what? You can't move!"
"Are you sure about that?"
The tall boy tilted his head to look at him.
"Cause a...I already broke it."
The spellcaster snorted.
"Those don't work on me. idiot."
"Oh yeah? Why not?"
"Because fuckwad, you have to completely overpower MY will to prevent me from moving. That's how that spell works. You have to look me in the eye to ensnare me. Sadly enough for you? Hypnosis style shit has zero effect on me, AND my will, is a fucking razor blade."
The boy pulled his longswords as the six man party laughed.
"6 on 1."
"Never fuck with a Wolf's pack. Now. Starburst stream!"
Tyler exploded into motion swinging the twin longswords with a speed that was simply terrifying to look at as he slammed into the utterly unprepared group of adventurers like a truck. Thorn and Winter were watching wide eyed as the lone boy's blades carved the six people into cubes under the savage onslaught. Over, under, across, hand over hand and under hand as the sword master made his blades howl and blood fly before appearing behind them panting hard as they dropped in pieces to the ground. Tyler fell onto his face panting hard as he ended the attack routine panting from the strain of the combo he'd just unleashed as his friends came racing.
"Tyler? Tyler? You okay?"
He was rolled onto his back and Winter looked at the pieces of adventurer strewn on the ground in awe.
"I have never heard of such an attack. I lost count of how many hits he landed!"
Thorn was right there with her.
"Where the hell did that come from? I couldn't even SEE the freakin blades!"
Sheria giggled.
"Big brother's awesomer!"
Tyler pulled a stamina potion from his pack and downed it before he was able to explain.
"That was the ultimate attack from my style. Starburst stream. 50 hits in ten seconds."
Thorn and winter gasped.
"In ten seconds? That's just not possible!"
Tyler passed his blades over.
"It is. But it is VERY costly. See?"
There were fractures in BOTH blades from the savage move and the ladies were amazed.
"That is incredible. You JUST got these."
"That move WILL break your blade if you don't have the best material period. And I can't use it again today. I do, and I'll pass out."
Thorn grimaced.
"You just lost your blades."
"I got this greatsword. It'll do until I get replacements. Come on. Let’s loot the bastards."
Tyler got off the ground and they retrieved the packs and weapons from the adventurers. Tyler smirked as he found the spellcaster's list.
"Pleasure boost, bed's call, soothing caress, and stun. A sex addict's tool box."
The sex spells were divvyed among the three as Tyler took the stun spell. Then the dragoons were added to the loot pool before their weapons were claimed.
"A staff of bind, a spear made from horn drake, a straight sword, a piece of shit bow and arrows, some daggers, and a broadaxe. And piss poor armor."
The goods taken they headed back to the city. Tyler now had a disgust for the city as a whole.
"We'll get paid and get the hell outta here. I hate this place."
Thorn sighed at the tone of his voice.
"I get it. We'll pick a fresh city at the tavern."
Sheria was sitting on his shoulder as they walked into the adventurers' guild of Durala. Thorn led the way to a booth with an elf behind it and Tyler slid the licenses to him.
"Bastards tried to rob us at the Drake Den."
The elf sighed as she saw the names.
"These are some of our most highly respected guild members, Sir Hero. Proof of the attack?"
Tyler blinked at her tone and slid his own License over.
"I am getting very tired of this city."
The elf blinked at the ice in his voice and looked at the bestiary.
"It be truth. They DID attempt to rob you, Hero. On behalf of the guild, we apologize."
She slid a large pouch of dragoons over and Tyler took it.
"Thank you."
The party walked out as a runner came up.
"Hero! Lady Nightshade wishes you attend her."
Tyler gave him 75 dragoons.
"Thanks kid."
With a happy grin the kid took off as Tyler led the party to the keep. Nightshade sat upon her throne when they approached. She smiled at the tall Hero.
"I see you've been busy, Tyler."
"we're leaving as soon as loot splitting is done."
That took her aback.
"So soon? No bedding?"
"Not when I can still hear that poor girl's screams. every second I'm in this city I hear her screaming like she's still being tortured."
Winter blinked.
"Oh by the Snow. I forgot they do that. Frozen Purity."
Tyler looked at her confused until he felt her spell hit him. Then all he felt was cold as something enshrouding him was frozen and shattered. Then he felt a massive weight get lifted off his shoulders to the point he swayed.
"What the hell?"
Winter smiled ruefully.
"Demon curse."
"Ah. I forgot they do that too. I feel so much better."
Nightshade blinked then smiled.
"Would you like your reward?"
Tyler smirked.
"YOU in bed, two new longswords, and 50k dragoons."
"Oh. and a hot bath for the girls."
Thorn smiled.
"Good boy."
That got a laugh from all as the three party members were escorted by maids to the bath as Tyler was led by Nightshade to her bed chamber.
"Would YOU like a bath?"
HE smirked.
"If you're init with me."
"Me plan."
"Our loot?"
"I'll be sure to ruin you."
They walked in and he locked said door as the beautiful woman stripped. He stripped as well and she climbed into the bubbling water of the in room hot tub with her eager lover right beside her. Nightshade's massive breasts were floating in the water as she straddled the boy.
"Do what you did to Iris to me please."
HE smiled and lifted her out of the water before setting between her creamy thighs for a feast.
"I'm a hungry one."
Nightshade jolted as his mouth and fingers got to work on her ready slit. In a few seconds she was flat on her back moaning as her lover brought her to bursting before flipping her over and placing the steel rod against her buns.
The purple haired woman squeaked as her untouched rear was pierced with a gentle pressure.
"I love it! A little harder!"
So he gave her a firmer pressure as she bucked her ridiculously firm rear into his spear as the two sated their lust hard on each other before collapsing in the water. Then Tyler smiled.
"Shall we move to the bed?"
Nightshade smiled lewdly.
And so round two started in the massive bed with the duchess getting utterly destroyed by her horny lover before they fell exhausted to the bed. Tyler smiling proudly as Nightshade was merely twitching from her intense session. The duchess finally mustered the strength to swallow before resting her head tiredly on Tyler's chest.
Her voice was contentedly exhausted.
"I have not had sex like that in years. Do you wish my key?"
He smiled widely.
"If you offer I won't turn it down."
she looked at him curiously.
"Iris said you're asking for her key after the wave. Do you not seek keys?"
Tyler smiled as he stroked the purple haired beauty's massive rack fondly.
"Only keys I'm ACTIVELY after are iris and Rose's. I was just out for fun here."
That made her bust up laughing as he fondled her.
"You did that to me, for FUN?"
"Yeah. Kinda comes with the territory."
"Oh my poor heart. My Key."
She reached above her head to her headboard of the bed and pulled a small intricate key from a slot and placed it on his chest.
"Take the damned thing. I WILL have you again."
He blinked as the naked boy took the thing.
"Is this like a marriage thing?"
"No. It's only a marriage Key if we agreed upon it prior. This is just a lay Key. Use it."
He kissed her again smiling.
"With lust."
"Place it on your License."
He did and the key vanished and a new window appeared for stats. The stat of Keys acquired appeared and he blinked, making the woman laugh.
"it'll keep track of the keys you possess. Should you seek to use it, merely hit my name in the drop down tab. It'll activate a teleport to my bed and we'll play hard. Then it'll teleport you back once I'm sated."
"You can't use it for travel. Just sex."
"There it is."
This time he latched onto one of her large nipples for a fond suckle, making her groan.
"Please have mercy! It hurts!"
HE smiled and kissed her lovingly.
"I said I was going to ruin you."
"And you did!"
The two got into the water and he helped the woman with her purple hair, making her quiver.
"If my poor slit wasn't so full right now, Hero, I'd have you again!"
"Happy to ruin you."
She kissed him and they cleaned up. Then she got a sad look in her green eyes.
"Are you leaving so soon?"
He sighed as they dressed; him pulling her gown over her shoulder.
"Sadly. I may not hate this city, but it has left a bad taste in my mouth after the mess."
She sighed at that.
"That is fair. Just please, try to forgive the people. They didn't know either."
He smiled ruefully.
"It'll take a bit o time, but I will. Forgiveness....never was a strong suit."
"I can see that."
She kissed him again and they walked to the throne room where Thorn, Winter and Sheria were talking together. The ranger noted the severe wobble in Nightshade's step and laughed.
Tyler walked over smiling.
"I'm good at what I do. Check it."
He showed the key stat and the two ladies laughed hard as Sheria claimed her seat. Thorn smirked.
"That's just a Lay Key. I see you still have your targets."
"Oh yeah. Ready to split loot?"
Nightshade snapped her fingers and a pouch was handed to Tyler.
"50,000 dragoons. Now. The longswords."
A set of blades were laid out by servants and Tyler smiled as he spotted an ice blue sword. Winter also saw it.
"That's an enchanted blade of ice! It adds freezing cold to any cut!"
Tyler took it and smiled.
"I love the color, and the weight is right where it should be. Perfect."
He set the weapon over his left shoulder before spotting a jet black sword that made Thorn raise an eyebrow.
"That thing's a black demon blade. You'll have to force it under your control, Tyler."
The Hero took the hilt.
"Challenge accepted."
He felt the thing press onto his mind and the boy smirked.
"Welcome to the chamber."
The sword's color was witnesses to roil in agony before splintering entirely. Then going solid as Tyler drew the double edged blade. It being straight with a white edge and black center. The hilt was a curious crescent shape that seemed lopsided but was perfectly balanced. Tyler slid that one over his right shoulder before drawing both weapons. He put them through a practice swing and smiled as they left grooves of black and blue in the air.
Sheria was gaping in awe at the colors.
HE smiled at the blonde girl fondly as he sheathed the weapons on his back.
"You are too."
She smiled and retook her spot on his shoulder. Tyler then looked to the ranger and priestess.
"Let's get paid."
Thorn smiled.
"we have a room ready."
Sheria giggled.
"Another bath!"
They laughed at the cute and headed to the room. There Winter put her ward up and Tyler tallied the loot up from the run. Thorn passed a pouch of dragoons over.
"We sold the other goods while you were inside Nightshade."
"Thanks Thorn. Okay. we made some coin this run. 152,768 dragoons, a couple spells, and a skill. Money first."
Sheria was smiling from her second dip in the steaming water as her brother divvyed the coin up with the party. Tyler did the math.
"Okay. half of 152,768 is 76,384. That gets added to party coin."
The coin was split and Tyler did the remainder.
"Wow. An even split for once. we each get 19,096."
The girls all took shares, Tyler being made to look away as Sheria claimed hers still buck assed naked. Once the cutie was back in the water the spells and skills were laid out. Tyler took the lone spell.
"Mist walk. Renders one the same consistency as mist for 1 minute and useable one per fight. In the mist state, one cannot be harmed, harm, or be detected through nonmagical means. Sheria."
The blonde frowned.
"You take it big brother. YOU'RE the scarier one."
Tyler blinked.
"She's got a point. I can use it to fake a death at the right moment."
Thorn and Winter smiled.
"She's learning."
"Very well."
Tyler added the spell to his arsenal and looked at the skills next.
"Okay. Hm? death lance? Triples the penetration power of a single spear thrust with a recharge of 45 seconds. Single spear thrust or 4 arrows. Thorn."
The catgirl's tail flicked as she took the skill.
"I have another type of pierce skill called Pierce. I can stack them."
Tyler smiled.
"And doing so will make that thing go right through the thickest hides."
The next skill was laid out. Tyler crossed his arms.
"Mana blast. Uses the mana pool to send out an explosion of force to stun enemies at a range of 5 feet from the user. Useable once a day. I think I should take that. As a nasty surprise."
Winter tilted her head.
"Why not let sheria take it? No one would see it coming."
"Holy. That IS perfect. Sheria."
The blondie took her skill still in the pool as Tyler smiled.
"Stay in any longer and you'll get pruny."
She got out and got dressed beofre sitting in his lap where he hugged her tightly. Winter smiled at the scene.
"You're such a good big brother, Tyler!"
He snuggled the blonde like a cat.
"And she's the best sister."
That embarrassed the little blonde, and she sat in his lap with a bemused smile on her face. The second to last skill. Tyler tilted his head as he saw it.
"That's an odd one. Double image. Projects an illusion of the user on a spot for 10 seconds. 25 second recharge. Dissipates on impact with force. Hmm."
Winter smiled.
"Combine that with your mist spell."
"Oh shit. I can play the fakeout! Nasty."
He took it as Thorn smiled at the last one.
"we got a Stout wall. It's a shielder skill. Sell."
They agreed and the loot was done. Now Tyler took the map out and Thorn sighed.
"You still want to leave?"
Tyler nodded.
"I do. Curse or not, this place still bothers me."
Winter hugged him.
"I was like this after the first time I cleared a goblin den out. Mother told me that having a kind heart and being able to pity others is a very beautiful thing. But don't get so wrapped up in other's pain that you stop seeing you're own peace."
Tyler smiled.
"Thanks Winter."
Sheria hugged her brother as Tyler looked at the map. Dragel was on the eastern border of Durala. Beyond the border was another country called Elvenhein. That land wrapped around the entire eastern border of Druala in the shape of a horseshoe and Durala the center. Drula the capital was near the center of the country to the west. North was another border with Elvenhein to a point where Druala opened up like a mushroom cap on a stalk. Then there was a large blue area that caught Tyler's eye.
"That the sea?"
Thorn smiled.
"The inland sea actually. It's called Maelstrom Lake as every few decades a massive water stalk appears from the surface of the water and stretches into the sky. The stories say it's ole Levi letting us know she's still there. she's the sea goddess that rules the lake as Azura rules the ocean proper. It's a two week trip on foot to the nearest port city though."
Tyler shrugged.
"No biggee. Okay."
He looked to the southern part of the country and spotted another city.
Now Thorn smiled widely.
"A VERY fertile trading city well know for her markets, dungeons, monsters, and for friendly people. It's about a week's trip on foot. But. we have enough to take another airship to it. And before you go there, Tyler? Drula's tickets are the most expensive in the country. It'd cost us 75,000 dragoons for the four of us this time around. And it be a five day flight."
Tyler looked to Sheria.
"You okay?"
The blonde smiled.
"As long as you're there, Big brother."
He hugged her tightly.
"Alright then. We'll get a ticket for the next flight."
The plan made the friends left to say goodbye to Nightshade. The duchess smiled as they walked up.
"I see you've made a choice. Where to?"
Tyler smiled.
She blinked.
"Are you really? A favor then."
"Love letter?"
She laughed at that.
"Yes. Her name is Gilindria. The Countess of Dragil. We've exchanged Keys."
"Hm. Interesting."
That made her smirk.
"she hates the feel of men."
"Ah. A lady of standards then."
That one got a round of laughter from the ladies present in the hall. Nightshade passed Tyler a pair of sealed notes he stored in his pack. Nightshade smiled.
"Next time you visit my city, Hero, we WILL be better."
Tyler smiled.
"I'll be sure to destroy you often."
"Dammit. Now I have to sit like this."
HE chuckled as they headed for the airport. Once outside the three sighed. Sheria blinked.
"what I miss?"
Tyler patted her leg fondly.
"We'll have to be careful with these letters, little sheria. They're more then they seem."
She frowned at that.
"what else could they be?"
"We'll tell you in the cabin, okay?"
"You're very odd. But okay."
"Love you too, Sparkles."
She was embarrassed again as they rode the lift up to the platform. Thorn leading the way to the ticket both where they got their tickets for the next flight that was in an hour. Winter slotted them into her staff and they made for the ship as they might get aboard earlier. Tyler whistling as they walked, taking in the sights and sounds of the active place until Thorn pointed their ship out.
"There she is. The Dragil flyer."
This ship was identical to the other except twice the size. Tyler whistled as he saw the floating behemoth.
"Damn. That's a big ship."
The natives smiled at that as they reached the ramp where an elf on duty looked at them.
"It be a bit early for boarding adventurers. we're not scheduled to leave for another hour."
Tyler smiled kindly.
"We're happy to wait. Nothing else needs doing."
That got a smile.
"I see you plan ahead. Impressive trait in such young uns. well. if you wish you may go to your cabin, but be aware once you board you cannot exit the ship afterward till we land in Dragil."
Tyler looked to the girls.
"We good?"
Thorn and Winter smiled.
"why we came early."
"I'm ready."
Tyler looked up at Sheria.
She giggled.
"Let's go!"
They boarded the ship and went to their bottom deck cabin that had a window looking out the side of the hull and even had a small window looking DOWN at the ground that made Tyler a little nervous looking at as they shut the door. They locked it and Winter put her ward up before they relaxed. Tyler looking through the window at the ground as Thorn smiled.
"If the ship falls from the sky, there's an enchantment to keep it from killing us at the bottom."
"It's that freaking glass I'm worried about."
"Don't be. It's enchanted dragon glass. or glass smelted with the flames of a high dragon specifically for an airship like this. Only another dragon forged item can pierce it."
Tyler shrugged at that as Sheria was resting on the bottom bunk of a bed set. The blonde smiled.
"Big Brother."
He smiled at her.
"Yes you can stay in my bunk."
"I spoil you, you know that?"
"Teehee! I'm cute!"
Tyler looked at Thorn bemused.
"Can't argue with that logic."
They laughed at that as Tyler sat on the couch style seat by the long window looking out at the city. Sheria came over and snuggled against him with her on his thigh. He smiled as he stroked her blonde hair, making her fall fast asleep. Thorn smiled as she sat beside them.
"She's so sweet."
"why I love her so freakin much."
Winter was on her bunk rubbing her sore feet.
"We all love that little cutie dearly."
Sheria moved in her sleep closer to the bigger boy.
Tyler smiled happily as he gently brushed the soft blonde hair out of her face.
"Love you too, Sheria."
Tyler smiled as he relaxed with the sleeping blonde on his lap. Thorn went to her top bunk and Winter was resting in hers as the friends powered down. Tyler drifting in and out of sleep when the sound of voices was heard as more passengers were heard boarding the vessel. Sheria squeaked awake with a yawn.
"Mornin Sparkles."
She smiled as he hugged her.
"Morning, Big brother. The ship leaving?"
"Soon. The others are boarding as we speak."
Tyler hugged her again just cause and had a thought.
"You say bye to your mother?"
She laughed.
"Yup! While we were in the bath she came in to say bye. I guess a runner was sent."
Winter smiled.
"The Mother is more aware of the city then we'd think. Why when the mess was discovered she recused herself to chamber for the night as such a tragedy happening under her very nose is actually a slight against the Snow. That city WILL be better now the Mother is watching."
Tyler smiled at that.
"I guess they just needed a good kick in the ass."
That got sagely nods as a bunch of yelling broke out in the hall. Thorn groaned.
"Great. We have one of THOSE on the deck."
The yelling was right outside the door, and loud enough that Tyler could make out the words. One was a woman's voice and the other a man's.
"This is MY cabin! i was here FIRST1"
"Ma'am. That one was already claimed. By a hero party no less."
"Get them OUT! I paid for it I'm taking i!"
"Please don't yell, Miss. They might be resting."
Sheria was holding her head in pain.
"Now I have a headache."
Tyler got up and walked to the door as the yelling increased. He opened it to see an overweight woman in stained clothes screaming at a man dressed in the ship's crew attire of black leathers. The Hero tapped the man on the shoulder as the woman was red in the face.
"She just gave my little sister a headache. Allow me."
She screamed with spittle flying.
"I don't care about your little sister! GET OUT OF MY CABIN!"
Tyler turned and slammed his fist into her fat stomach with enough force to lift the overweight woman off her feet before dropping her to the floor fighting for breath and looking at him in horror.
"I am a paying-"
"I don't care. shut. Up. Or I take your fucking head off. make a choice."
The man breathed a sigh of relief.
"Thank you Hero. I wanted to do the meself."
"Why didn't you?"
"Captain's orders. We're to be civil and cordial to passengers."
"Yikes You poor bastards. But bear in mind your dignity is worth more then a few dragoons."
He smiled at that.
"That be truth, Hero. And I wholeheartedly agree. Yet, I swore a ship's oath."
"There it is. I understand. Poor bastards."
The Woman regained her breath and got to her feet in an offended rage as her stomach now had a red mark of bruise.
"I will have you thrown from this ship you miserable bastard. Huge!"
"Yes dear?"
A mountain of a man with twin broadswords on his back came out from around a corner and took a spot behind the now smug woman. She showed the bruise with a hideous whine.
"That brat hit me! Kill him!"
The man looked at Tyler as the shipman stepped back.
"Ya got no honor to hit a woman."
"She gave my little sister a headache with her caterwauling. She has two choices that now extend to you: Shut up. Or I take your fucking head off. Make a choice."
That made the twice his size man's eyebrow lift.
"You really think you can?"
"I killed a despair demon pal. The fuck do you think?"
That made him grin.
"A mere despair? I suppose you got lucky. If ya didn't summon it yerself."
"My patience with you is at an end. Make your choice."
Tyler's eyes were no longer smiling and were full of a promise for an early grave. The man's grin grew wider.
"Let's see you try."
The woman was still smug as she took a spot behind her massive husband.
"Huge is a guild champion. what the hell are you?"
Tyler grinned as he pulled his longswords.
"I'm a Wolf."
The shipman turned to a large horn looking thing.
"Cap'n. We got a duel of honor one deck 6."
There was a sigh as a reply.
"Who is it between, crewmen?"
"Huge and a Hero calling himself the Wolf."
"A Hero? I see. Carry on."
Tyler grinned as he took his sword stance. Huge balked.
"The hell kinda stance is that?"
"The one I am going to kill you with. put yer steel where your mouth is."
The man sighed as he drew his dual broadswords that were each 5 feet long. he took a crouching stance with the blades crossed in front of him.
"Ya got a deathwish lad."
"YOU won't be the one to grant it."
The crewman snapped his fingers and Huge lunged with a speed that belied his large size to put the twin blades into a sideways slash. Only for Tyler to hop backwards like a prancing deer as his crouch was perfectly balanced for such evasive moves. The big man swung the blades with a ferocious strength as Tyler smirked.
"That it?"
The boy planted his feet as his bear like opponent missed again and overextended his reach. Tyler launched like a spring at the off balance man. Tyler's face a grim eyed mask as he swung his twin blades at the man's neck. Then Huge smirked.
"Tempest Wind."
Tyler smirked as well as the bigger man's speed tripled.
"Mist walk."
The smirk vanished from Huge's face as Tyler evaporated into pure mist his blades passed right through without effect as the boy simply vanished from sight. The man tried to get his broad back against the wall, but Tyler was heard laughing from behind him.
The man was hit with a savage force that did indeed stun him for a moment as the boy reappeared in front of him. The veteran thought he had him as he slammed his blades into the boy's body.
"Gotchya ya wily bastard! I win-what the?"
Only for the image of the boy to simply dissipate like smoke as the broadswords hit it. His shock lasted a mere moment as he felt a vicious impact in his back, only for the black blade of the wolf to poke out his chest, his heart pierced like a shish kabob. Tyler tore his blade free as he stared a hole through the horrified newly a widow.
"Get. Off. This. SHIP."
The crewmen chuckled.
"We left bout five minutes back."
Tyler busted up laughing as the dead man dropped.
"An I didn't even notice! Ha! Alright. Get to her own cabin bitch."
The woman was about to start screaming again, but Tyler merely pointed his dripping blade at her.
"Or die. Make a choice."
She tried another tactic.
"You killed mah husband!"
"death it is."
Tyler took a step and the crewman sighed.
"I know you really don't care, Hero, but if you do kill her, I will have no choice but to charge you."
The boy looked over his shoulder.
"She got hit with a stray sword swing when she tried to butt in."
That made him bust up laughing.
"Yer a canny one an no mistake! That's a pirate trick!"
"I hoodwinked a bounty like that.....I wonder."
Tyler walked over to the fallen man and put his license over his face.
"Woah. Bingo. Bearis the Womanbreaker. Wanted dead for get this: 150,000 dragoons."
"By the gods. What the hell did he do?"
"No clue. But now I'm curious."
Tyler pointed the license at the overweight woman.
"Two for two. Helga the Lure. wanted dead for sweet jesus! 100,000 dragoons! Together we get a bonus of 75k! Oh my gods."
The crewman leaned into the horn.
"Cap'n. You are not gonna believe this."
"whatchya got crewmen?"
"The two the Hero were dealing with? They got a monster bounty on em! 325k for the pair!"
"By the gods. Differ to the Hero's judgement, Crewmen. And breathe not a word of the amount they worth. I will NOT have a greed riot on my ship."
"Aye aye Cap'n."
Tyler stabbed the woman in the chest talking as he did so.
"I'll have my Snow put em on ice for the trip."
"That be wise, Hero. I'll keep it under me."
"I'd appreciate it if you did."
Tyler dragged the two dead to the cabin and walked right inside. He put his fingers to his lips as the girls looked at him curiously. Winter put up an extra ward and froze them solid to prevent bleeding as Tyler secured the door. Then he looked at them.
"Between these two bounties alone, we have 325,000 dragoons."
Thorn and Winter jumped before the ranger regained her senses.
"Your license please, Tyler. It's not that I don't believe you, I do. I just to see the proof."
Tyler passed it over and she whistled.
"Bearis and Helga. The rapist couple. Yeah I know them. They've been hunted for years. Bearis was a guild champion and uses various names to escape detection. Helga uses body magic to hide her true appearance so no one really knows WHAT she looks like. Who else knows?"
"The crewmen I killed them in front of and the captain. He ordered his silence."
Thorn nodded.
"Good. Ship's oaths are very precious to their holders. We'll not breathe a word to the outside either. Have you searched them?"
"Not yet. Wanted them secure before I went fishin."
"Wise. Myself and Winter will search them. Snakes that they are."
Tyler lifted Sheria into a hug.
"I'll hug Sheria."
They laughed at that as the two more experienced ladies got to work. The ladies had the bounties possessions on the floor for divvying in five minutes. Thorn smirked.
"Not bad. 150,000 dragoons, the twin broadswords, a few spells, a couple skills, and two potions. The dragoons first."
Tyler had Sheria on his lap.
"Should we wait to divvy until we get the bounties?"
Thorn smiled.
"Nah. We're still five days out from our landing site. This we can go through now."
Winter tilted her head.
"SHOULD we get a share? Tyler was the one that got it after all. We didn't do anything."
Thorn frowned at that.
"Oh yeah. I forgot."
She looked at the Hero.
"Kind as you are, it wouldn't sit well for me to take a share I had no hand in earning."
Winter smiled kindly.
"Agreed. The bounties we'll split as a party since we'll help guard them. But the actual loot we don't have a claim to."
Sheria giggled.
"I didn't get a share the first few times we raided together."
Tyler smiled.
"Thanks guys. Alright. Let's see."
The hero took the broadswords over and Thorn chuckled.
"They're made from Grey Steel. They're lighter then they look and sharper."
Tyler turned to blades to let the light reflect off them.
"Oh I know this metal. it's got a different name in my world though. It's called Aluminum. and is far lighter then normal steel. Not as strong though so maybe it has special properties here. How much are they worth?"
"275k for the pair?"
"Yikes. and compared to my mail?"
"The mail looks like glass."
"So if I were to get them repurposed into chainmail?"
Thorn laughed.
"Grey Steel is FAR better as armor then a weapon as it's lighter then the usual metal of the same toughness. Wily idea."
Tyler next took the skills.
"Tempest Wind. Triples the speed of a single strike of a weapon. I can add that to my dual wield."
Winter blinked.
"With your OTHER speed boosters? NOTHING will be able to keep up!"
"That's the plan, Winter. More stackable speed boosts I have the more times i can hit you before you can react. And if add that to starburst stream?"
Thorn blinked.
"Not a soul would be able to counter that!"
"And would make it our party's ultimate ace in the hole."
"You're starting to scare me with that move. You got any others like that?"
"Aincrad style has a few tricks in it's arsenal, Thorn. One hits you five times per blade, the other four in a rotating box pattern. Then I have one from another style I know that hits you six times in 3 seconds. That one's not really a longsword style though."
Sheria looked at him now.
"Is it a shortsword style?"
"Not that one. YOUR style will be a more....original creation. You can do a few moves from my style and the other one plus a few extra sets thrown in for shock value. We get a breather I'll teach ya.”
Tyler added Tempest Wind to his arsenal before taking up the next skill.
“Rock slash? Adds to the cutting power of a single hit. Nasty.”
Thorn chuckled at that one.
“Speed AND cutting power. A nasty combo.”
The next skill.
“Hm. Stallion’s Wind. Decreases the cost of a physical activity by fifty percent. Odd choice.”
Winter smiled.
“Not if it’s used as a sex skill.”
“woah. Wow Winter.”
She blushed at the way he said that as he added the spell to his collection before taking the last skill.
“Odd. I got one called Mental Manipulation.”
Winter snapped out of her embarrassment.
“That’s a banned skill period. It forces the will of the user onto a single target for thirty seconds. The stronger the will using it, the more potent the reaction.”
Tyler gave it to her as he looked at spells next.
“Oh here we go. Mist image. Same thing as Double Image, but the image conjured takes on the form of whatever the caster was picturing at the moment of casting. I can use that.”
Thorn felt the need.
“No jokes.”
“Me? I would never.”
They were now a little nervous at his mocking tone as he added the spell to his arsenal. Then he took the next.
“Miserable Feel.”
Winter grimaced.
“An evil spell. It makes whatever you feel be pain. And it is increased based on the pleasure of the caster.”
Tyler passed it over and took the next.
“Body Transform.”
Winter again provided insight.
“I’ll take that one Tyler. Your loot or not that one is just above your skill level. it allows perfect manipulation of your body with a single spell. people go to special parlors for the service and it is extremely dangerous as the one casting it has to have absolute concentration or the target dies an excruciatingly painful death. The service costs 1,500,000 dragoons for merely altering your hair.”
Tyler blinked as he handed the thing over.
“can YOU cast it Winter?”
She shook her head.
“Not outside a Home. And I won’t try to. This may not be a banned spell, Tyler, but I am going to treat it like one. When we land I’ll seek out Home for guidance on WHAT to do with it as every card of Body Manipulation is strictly monitored.”
“Sure winter. Had no clue that one was so regulated.”
Thorn smiled.
“It’s because of the implications it has. In the wrong hands it can cause utter chaos as a murderer can reshape his face to escape justice.”
Tyler shrugged.
“No biggee. Alright next up.”
Winter slotted the spell card into her staff as the Hero took the last spell.
“Oh hell. Thunderbolt. Basically the lightning version of Firebolt. Outta nowhere, but I like it.”
The last was the armor and Tyler shrugged.
“Mere steel and iron. I’ll sell it at the smithy.”
Thorn smiled.
“Fair. The bodies we’ll leave under my bunk. and they won’t rot nor smell the entire time.”
Sheria gulped.
“What about ghosts?”
Tyler smiled.
“we got Winter, Sheria. Something tells me she’s pure ghost repellent.”
The Snow priestess smiled
“Spirits actually seek me out regularly, Tyler. I can grant them peace to move on. In the time we’ve been together I’ve passed on maybe 40 such spirits. 25 during the last flight alone.”
Sheria hugged her big brother.
“Just make sure they don’t scare me.”
They hugged the small girl as Tyler patted her.
“They won’t. I’m scarier anyway.”
That got him a tighter hug before she recovered. Thorn stored the bounties and he added the dragoons to his purse. Then he sat back on the long sofa looking out at the passing countryside with sheria on his lap resting her blonde head on his chest. The tall boy smiled as he dozed with the small girl asleep on his chest. he woke an hour later to find Thorn and Winter playing cards at a table nearby and Sheria now full on asleep on his chest. He smiled as the catgirl looked over.
“All quiet.”
“and warm.”
The friends smiled at that as Shera stirred and sat up sleepily and looked around before laying back down and going back to sleep. Tyler just smiled as she pulled his hand in like a blanket.
The Hero took out his license and went to the news.
“The Heroes departure. This evening the Heroes still residing in Durala have forsaken the city to scatter to the winds as is their way. They lingered in the capital city to, in their own words, understand the mechanics of their new world. we at the guild eagerly await the feats of legend they will surely preform. In other news the crows that were expelled from the city were seen headed in the direction of Dragil. A week trip on foot with a guide. 10 days without. The one known as Helan was banished from Drula by order of the Queen after her grace thought the punishment over for her inflammatory words. We sincerely hope they wisen up to their new home before they anger the wrong bear.”
Tyler closed the short article as Sheria woke for real with a start. Sitting bolt upright in a mild panic as she looked around wildly, the blonde had a look of shock on her pretty face and Tyler smiled.
“Think you overslept, Sparkles?”
She blinked.
“That was weird big brother. I kinda felt like I slept longer than I did.”
He patted her hair smiling.
“It happens to me ALL the time.”
The blonde sighed and went to the in room bathroom as Tyler looked his stats over on his License. Thorn smiled.
“If yer bored you CAN explore the ship.”
HE shrugged.
“Not so much bored as unused to downtime.”
“I hear that. We kinda do a lot.”
The Hero took the seat by the floor window and looked through at the passing landscape, only to notice the sun was going down.
“we getting delivery?”
Winter replied.
“Sure. We got the coin. Plus we have the bounties.”
Tyler smiled.
“We’re poor, Winter. We can do the deliveries for food, but the bounties are coin we DON’T have right now.”
The Snow priestess squeaked before getting a very sheepish grin.
“You’re right, Tyler. I’m sorry. Mother always told us never to gauge our ice by the water in a cup.”
Thorn smiled as well.
“And my Master always told us no matter how much we have, act like we have nothing. Or we will HAVE NOTHING.”
Sheria came out of the bathroom humming at that point and took a seat on Tyler’s lap to look into the floor window. Tyler rubbed her golden hair as she blinked.
“what’s that?”
Tyler looked and blinked.
“Oh shit. Thorn we got a pirate ship under us.”
The ranger came right to look at the small craft gliding beneath them.
“Shit. Raiders. Winter!”
“On it!”
Tyler went to a horn on the wall.
“Captain. We got pirates under the ship!”
There was an immediate reply as Winter readied her staff.
“All hands prepare to repel boarders!”
The small ship under them was shaped like a plane from Tyler’s world but with a large circular ring on the top of the fuselage. The plane thing shot upward and slammed into a part of the ship along the party’s hallway. Tyler was out the door with his longswords as Thorn explained.
“They’re after the captain. They reach him we surrender.”
“NEVER surrender, Thorn. It comes to that, use a knife. Do NOT get taken alive.”
The girls nodded as a group of armed men in leather armor rushed towards them. Tyler smiled widely.
His electric attack slammed into the packed men, electrocuting a fair few before a yell was heard.
Tyler found he couldn’t talk, and so did the girls. He smiled widely and rushed the pirates with his swords.
“Five headed dragon!”
even though he couldn’t make sound, he still mouthed the words to his multitarget attack routine that left five men dead in pieces as the pirates tried to surround the mobile fighter. Thorn was firing arrows as Sheria hung back with Winter as she fought with the debuff spell. Tyler was smiling as he hopped back for another attack.
“Hiten mitsugiryu style: Dragon’s nest strangle!”
Tyler exploded into motion and was seen to carve into the caught off guard pirates as the mage behind them laughed.
“We got a fighter here lads! I’ll put paid to em! Painful wrath!”
Tyler blinked as every movement he made started hurting with excruciating viciousness. In his mind, Clarica explained.
“It makes every act of violence you attempt to do hurt YOU more. It’s a banned spell.”
The Wolf smiled an unsettling smile.
“There’s a style of fighter from my world, known as Reavers, Clarica. More you hurt them, more dangerous they become.”
Tyler rushed the laughing pirates, and with every pore in his body screaming in agony as he did so with extreme bloodlust.
“Enraged Agony.”
Tyler’s eyes went red and his grin feral as he allowed the pain to fuel his strength and rage he locked away inside him, and in so doing felt his power explode inside him like a bomb as he dove into the men swinging the longswords with a demented grin of ecstasy at the now pleasurably sensual pain coursing through his body as he tore into the screaming pirates as the Wolf turned into a Demon. Tyler went utterly berserk as his swords were heard to howl as he carved through the bank of men with a savagery that was simply horrifying to behold as he saw nothing but red and heard nothing but the screams of those under his blades. Then the screaming stopped. The feral man looked around utterly confused as the pain receded and the screaming stopped. As the pain receded so did the dark persona he was wearing to fight. Tyler blinked and found himself holding a dead man in bright yellow leather armor by the neck inside a cockpit of a plane. He blinked.
“What the fuck just happened?”
The Hero dropped the dead guy and looked behind him.
“Oh shit. IT got loose.”
Behind him was just a line of horrifically mutilated bodies with expression of utter horror and agony with blood painted on the walls with a paintbrush. Tyler looked down and saw he was also completely covered in blood to the point his clothes were dyed with it. And yet he knew he was unharmed. His rampage established, the Hero walked to the center of the airplane like craft and found the launch port for the boarders into the airship. Hopping up the warrior found more bodies of mutilated pirates providing a red paint road through the ship to where a wall of shielding airship’s crew were in a wall formation at the end of the trail. Tyler blinked as they lowered spears at him.
“Are my friends safe?”
They looked at each other in mild fear when a yell was heard.
“He’s back to normal! Stand down!”
Thorn and Winter came through with little Sheria to stand before the bloodstained warrior. Thorn confronting him.
“WHEN were you going to tell us you were a Blood dancer?”
She blinked at his utter confusion. Winter looked at the ranger.
“I think he just found out.”
Tyler looked behind him in mild amazement.
“The very last thing I remember, is Clarica telling me about the spell he hit me with, and me telling her about reavers and how pain fuels their strength. Then, nothin. Next thing I know I know I’m strangling a dead pirate captain.”
He looked back at Thorn.
“I’m a blood dancer?”
She nodded and gestured to the wall of men behind her.
“Blood dancers are the most destructive of warrior styles out there, Tyler. They are feared as their strength is built upon pain and pain alone. and are unstable fighters that would happily turn on their friends in the depths of their rages. Now. Tell me. These reavers you told Clarica of. WHY were you thinking of them?”
Tyler frowned.
“Because I was going to use that pain as a catalyst to save you. Reavers are like berserkers but the more hurt they are the more deadly they become.”
Winter lifted her staff.
“Snow’s peace.”
Tyler glowed as he looked at the Snow priestess confused. Then the girl blinked.
“Oh he’s got a dark side, Thorn. A very EVIL dark side. That poor boy has the shadow of an archdemon of Rage.”
Tyler tilted his head.
"Not so extreme. That's just what happens when you piss me off. Like for real. I can't do it again for a while though as I need both fuel AND a catalyst to go that type of berserk."
Thorn looked at Winter.
"Is that a byproduct of his past?"
The Snow priestess nodded.
"It is. And from what my spell told me, they are rare in the extreme. This one was the THIRD time it has ever surfaced. Think of it like when a berserker actually snaps. He's NOT a blood dancer as we thought. More rager. A very POTENT rager."
Sheria looked at the tall boy.
"Big brother's got issues. We know."
"Love you too Sparkles."
She blushed at that as Tyler looked at Thorn.
"We good?"
She sighed then smiled.
"We are. It fits oddly enough. We'll loot them. YOU clean up."
"Yes Thorn."
"And do NOT do that again."
"As you wish."
Tyler went to the cabin as the girls went to loot. The blood soaked boy noting the bounties were still there as he got into the shower.
"Wow. been a while since i went rampaging.”
Clarica was heard in his mind
“I completely lost my connection to you, Tyler. That was scary.”
“I kinda go berserk. Sorry.”
“Look. You CANNOT do that again, Tyler. Okay? Do NOT let the rage take control like that or you WILL get someone you love killed.”
“You’re right, Clarica. Truth be told I wasn’t PLANNING to let it take control. But, well, they wanted to hurt Sheria.”
The water under him was stained red as the boy’s blood painted body was cleaned. The Hero took a hard shower until the water ran clear and he felt clean again. Then he dug his backup outfit from his pack as his usual attire was locked inside the magical compartment that cleaned it. The boy walked out to help loot as Sheria came over with Thorn carrying a large chest between them. The blonde smiled as she saw the cleaned up boy.
“This is heavy!”
He chuckled and took the thing as Thorn explained.
“we got through the bodies and are searching the ship itself. we CAN claim it if we want as we killed it’s owners.”
Tyler blinked.
“Can we afford it?”
She smiled.
“Sure. A ship that size only takes maybe 50k a month in upkeep and another 75k for fuel. Plus would get us our own private dock at any airport. Since it’s a pirate ship we can use it to raid the floating islands as they do.”
Tyler frowned.
“Let’s get the loot all in the room, Thorn. Weapons and the like are one thing, but an entire airship? Seems a bit of a jump. I love the idea, but we need to consider it carefully lest we encounter problems.”
She nodded.
“Okay. When placed in that light I completely agree. We’ll take the thing for loot then and decide what we’re doing with it.”
Tyler brought the chest to the room as the girls went back to looting. Once secure the Hero went to help loot the remains. He found his friends inside the plane like airship and dropped inside the hole the pirates had used a magic saw to cut in the hull of the transport ship. The girls were looking at the controls of the ship as he found them. The plane being identical to a private jet from his old world but far more roomy with a small dining room with full kitchen along the right hand side of the aisle. One the left was a sitting area with room for ten people to look out windows at the sky or the ground. Near the back of the craft was a sleeping area for 20 people with one larger alcove set behind a door that was clearly for the captain. The front of the plane was conical with seats for two and a mass of switches and a ship’s wheel. Tyler leaned on a wall as Thorn talked.
“Think of it, us with our own airship! We wouldn’t have to buy tickets or even talk to any officials beyond telling them we HAVE our own ship. Plus we can go places so much faster with our own craft that would take far longer otherwise.”
Winter frowned.
“I see your points, Thorn, but none of us know ANYTHING about airships. We try to fly this thing, we’ll just crash.”
Sheria nodded as she sat on Tyler’s shoulder, the plane being plenty big for her to do so. Tyler tilted his head.
“I love the idea. I really do. But unless we can hire a pilot that KNOWS these things, all we’ll do is drop from the sky.”
Thorn smiled.
“We’ll find a pilot in Dragil then. They’re not that hard to find.”
Tyler blinked.
“You’re pushing this awfully hard, Thorn. There a reason?”
she blinked, and her cats’ ears twitched. Then she lowered her head sheepishly.
“I like flying on airships. Plus it’s always been a dream of mine. Having my own airship. Your party aside.”
Tyler smiled.
“If we can find a decent pilot to teach us how these things go, we’ll keep it. You’re right. Having one of these would open up a world of opportunity. Plus cut down travel times considerably.”
Sheria giggled.
“I like flying!”
“Atta Sparkle!”
HE hugged her and she blushed at it. Then Winter smiled.
“We’ll take it then. Dragil IS rather known for it’s airport size. They got three.”
Tyler nodded.
“And in the meantime?”
Thorn nodded to a glowing panel.
“Place your hand on the wheel. It’ll be claimed by you.”
Tyler did so and the colors of the magic panels glowed a neon blue and an interface with a blank space appeared. Thorn smiled.
“Name her.”
The Hero smiled.
“I know the perfect name. Fenrir.”
Winter whistled.
“The Wolf. Scary.”
The ship claimed Tyler had a question.
“How the hell did they house so many people on this thing? I musta counted close to 150 people.”
Thorn shrugged.
“This was a raider craft. A small one at that. They carry fighters. Not passengers.”
“Fair enough.”
The returned to the room and a man in a black uniform came over to them.
“Greetings. I am Captain Maxim. Thankee kindly for repelling the pirates. the mess is being cleaned.”
Tyler smiled ruefully.
“I kinda went a little overboard. I’m Tyler. These are Thorn, Winter and Sheria.”
The man smiled as Sheria giggled.
“She’s a cutie an no mistake. Now. The fate of the craft attached?”
“We’re taking it to Dragil. Kinda need someone to teach us how to use it.”
HE laughed.
“That be fair. It was a good duster that un. Sadly none o me crew know the first thing bout a craft like that. She’ll be towed under us till we reach the port. Then it’ll be berthed on my dragoon for your aid. Call it fair exchange.”
“Thanks Cap’n.”
“Aye young Hero. Thankee.”
The team went to the room and Winter dumped a few more pouches into the 4 foot chest.
“They were a pisspoor pirate crew.”
Tyler smiled.
“This thing has 542,548 dragoons inside. Anything else of use?”
Thorn shook her head.
“No. We donated it to the ship for sale as it was junk to us.”
“That’s fair. Okay. I hate math. 542,548 divided by 2 is 271,274. That gets added to party coin. Now that divided by 4 is 67,818 with one extra coin left over that gets put into party.”
Once the shares were taken, Tyler sat on the couch as Thorn ordered food for them all. Sheria slumped on the couch beside the tired boy.
“we kinda had a lot to do today.”
The blonde leaned back and rested her head on his chest.
“We work hard, Big brother.”
He wrapped an arm around har shoulders for a side hug.
“Comes with the territory Sparkles. Sucks though.”
Winter was rubbing her sore hands on her bunk.
“We fought off an entire pirate raiding crew alone. Yeah. we earned a break.”
Thorn smiled as the food arrived.
“On the crew. As thanks.”
They cracked open a bottle of ale and clinked glasses. Tyler smiled.
“To the wolves.”
They smiled at that and downed the drinks before digging into their meal of frilled steak, bread rolls, some type of plant life Tyler didn’t bother learning of and the ale. Once fed, the friends climbed into bunks after Winter put up fresh wards. Tyler had his shirt off as Sheria climbed up beside him also without her shirt on to snuggle up beside him. He smiled as the cute blonde pressed against him.
“Night ladies.”
“Night Tyler.”
HE looked at Sheria beside him.
“Night Sheria. Love you.”
She smiled and pressed her face against his chest like it was her pillow.
“Night big brother. Love you too.”

DAY 13
DRAGOONS: PARTY: 336,125. TYLER: 278,487.
Tyler woke to see Sheria asleep beside him in his bunk. Both siblings shirtless and cuddled as close together as they could get. Tyler smiled as he gently stroked her soft blonde hair, waking her with a giggle.
“Morning big brother!"
"Morning Sparkles. We land today."
He hugged her as they sat up while Thorn and Winter left their own bunks. The catgirl naked as always and Winter in her bedclothes. The trip to Dragil had been peaceful after the pirate raid and the two bounties were still dead. Tyler showered before getting a meal for the party as their food was also free for the aid of defending from the pirates. Their airship still firmly fastened to the bottom of the passenger airship. The friends had breakfast, little Sheria sitting on his lap as was the usual while they did so. Tyler had donned his road outfit after the blood from the rampage had been washed away. Now he sat with Sheria snuggled against him like a teddy bear as he looked at the news.
"A Wolf among Sheep. HA!"
He looked at Thorn beside him.
"Looks like they finally heard."
"News of pirate attacks travels slowly sadly. The captain sent the alert out soon as the blood stopped, but the guild needs time to both process the information and verify it. All via scrying mirrors. Yeah. It takes a while."
He looked back to the article.
"Five days prior the Hero Tyler and his party boarded a flight to Dragil after the Demon incident in Dragel as the horror soured the Hero's view of the city. A very understandable feeling after seeing the horrors he must have inside those foul halls. Lady Nightshade granted her own insight as she was left unable to walk properly by the skilled Hero.
"The Hero saw my city at her worst. He told me he may not hate the city, but it is not a happy place for him. So he sought the solace of the open road. And Iris? He's got my lay key! You did not do his skills justice!"
"That bastard has ways, readers of Druala. I for one? Hate him for it. Save some beauties for us ugly bastards! The hero and his party boarded the vessel without incident and were enjoying the flight when the ship they flew on was visited by pirate raiders. The Hero being the one to spot the corsairs through a ground window of their cabin and rose the alarm to the captain. A fast reacter, Tyler and his party leapt to defend the vessel from the attackers and were witnessed by terrified passengers to be a most formidable force aboard ship as well as on the ground. Then a pirate mage invoked the evil spell of Painful Wrath as they'd been hit previously with a silence spell, stripping them of their spells and skills. This spell is a truly vile one that makes any act of aggression hurt the one preforming it more then the one receiving it. Reader. The following account was from those trapped in their rooms as the fight went on. Tyler was now weighed down by a silence spell AND Painful Wrath, but he did not back down for he grinned. and the reports of that grin tell of when an enraged Wolf is backed against a wall with only ONE escape left: Through it's enemy. The young man's usually gently mocking brown eyes were seen to go blood red as the agony from the spell surged through him. Then he lunged with a ferocious force to take the fight to the pirates as if he was NOT a human! we shall spare the gentler of you the horrific details of the assault, but Tyler tore through a bank of pirates numbered at 100 strong in a manner that have put a blood hungry wolf to shame. Only to have NO recollection of his rampage when he returned to his friends once the fell deed was done. It would seem the Hero has a dark side. One that is drawn out when he is backed against the wall and is suffering most horrifically. They say he went about his work with a smile and didn't get even a scratch. Tyler seems to be the embodiment of the wolf. Vicious to all that dare attack the pack as a rule, outright evil when they are in true danger. Yet warmth and kindness to that same pack it works so desperately to defend. The pirates' ship was claimed by the Wolf and his Pack. The captain saying all they really need is someone to teach em how to use the damned thing. They be landing in Dragil today, and in this writer's opinion? The Wolves have arrived. In other news, the other Heroes are also making waves in the realm, for one party is hailed for wiping out a goblin encampment to the north and rescuing close to thirty captives. Another party to the east was responsible for putting down a den of feral kobolds that had been tormenting a nearby village. And in yet another part of Druala a group of Hero parties banded together to smash a bandit army numbering in the hundreds as they attempted to sack the township of Yorst. The Wolves seem to be taking their adventures at a more cautious pace then the dashing deeds of their counterparts. Or Tyler just follows his gut. Either one is admirable and if he truly DOES embody the Wolf as he seems, then we can only imagine the deeds and feats of legend he will accomplish with his relatively tiny party. Another story that has come to light is that of the group of Heroes led by Helan the self-appointed guardian of the Heroes' righteousness. Her party of gaggling crows were encountered by a merchant caravan on the road to Dragil and are now trying to be useful with their meager offerings of low level spells while seeking to raise the dragoons to pursue the one known as the Wolf. The reason? To get him back on the right path in life before he is lost. Why did they come with the other Heroes is this writer's question."
Tyler frowned as he finished up the article.
"We DO need to step it up."
Thorn smiled.
"Actually? Not really. A single rot doppelganger is far more powerful than three hundred goblins in the dark. That despair demon the same as a bandit army of 250."
Tyler had a hard time believing that one. Winter smiled.
"Another reason why they sent for a Snow priestess in the first place was because of the nature of our magic as a rule. It weakens demonkin significantly the more spells we cast. By the time we got to the despair demon it was as strong as say......that horn drake we killed in the den."
Tyler shrugged.
"Smile and nod. So if that type of horror is needed to draw a despair demon, what's the other demonkin catnip?"
Thorn smirked at his turn of phrase.
"Do NOT get any ideas with catnip."
"I ain't got a deathwish."
"Good boy."
Winter warmed to her training.
"A rage demon is summoned by a grudge. Say you do something to me, and I hate you for it. If my hate reaches the right intensity and violence, a rage demon appears. A desire demon appears whenever the desires of a person overwhelm their minds, hearts, and souls to the point of insanity. Those are rare though as an all-consuming obsession for anything is rather difficult. Pride demons are drawn with arrogance and hubris of an obscene level. And just different emotions draw different demons."
Tyler tilted his head.
"are they summoned too?"
She nodded.
"They are. And it is the easiest method to contact them. The orphanage had such a saturation of misery, it weakened the barrier between the realms and her wish provided a tunnel through which the demon made it's escape."
Tyler patted Sheria on her head absentmindedly, making her hum.
"Are demons common?"
"Doppels are. As i said they are the most common breed of demon we will encounter in our travels. The ones of power are far less in frequency thank the Snow."
The Hero looked at Thorn.
"We'll keep an eye out then. Places saturated with misery and suffering are FAR more common then we'd like to believe. For now? I want to hit a monster den OUTSIDE a dungeon, Thorn."
The ranger pulled her map out.
"i agree. We've been very lazy with our training, demon den or no demon den. Okay. Dragil has a few dens of creatures that frequent the area. Orcs, goblins, a giant clan or two, two full dungeons, and an enchanted forest with all manner of creatures living inside."
The Hero frowned.
"I WANT to go right to giantkin. High risk, extremely high rewards. we are in desperate need of an actual challenge to get our instincts back to speed and get Sheria here some extreme skills."
Thorn and Winter looked at each other.
"Are there hills, Thorn? They're stupid enough it'd be doable."
"There are. but they often live with a plains or even a forest."
Tyler looked at the ranger.
"Main difference between the breeds?"
"A plains giant is 5 feet taller and as smart as say.....the average man. A forest giant is 10 feet taller and highly intelligent. Plus uses sophisticated weapons and armor. They are the most dangerous breed of giant in the region."
"Sizes as a rule?"
"Hills are 15 feet tall. Plains 20 feet and forests average 25 feet and up. The tallest on record was close to 50."
The Hero nodded.
"We need something like that, Thorn. This point we kinda have to make this happen. And as for your worries, valid though they are? Size and intelligence ALONE are not enough to win a fight. I can take the size advantage away from them easily enough and as for the smarts? Those are even easier to disrupt."
Thorn and Winter went into deep thought as Sheria perked up.
"If size and smarts are not enough to win big brother, what else do you need?"
HE smiled as he looked at her.
"Nerves and skill using your smarts. Are they easily startled? if so, combine that with say a paralyze spell and a stun spell and bam. They're dead. All the smarts in the world won't help you if you don't know HOW ot use em. Same with nerves. All the skills in the world won't help you if you're easily startled and panic easily as well. are you with me or I lose you?"
She tilted her blonde head.
"I think I understand. If I stay focused on the task at hand, and don't get flustered, I SHOULD be fine. right?"
"More or less. More calm you are the better your decisions will be and the greater your overall chances for survival."
Winter smiled now.
"My Mother taught us that very lesson, Tyler. One such exercise was to maintain our composure while under the effect of a Fear spell while we used a freeze spell to cross a 100 foot river. If you lost focus for a split second, or your nerve rattled, the spell was lost and you get drenched. You fall in you start your lessons over as a novice. For in Mother's words, you have to be able to BE ice to control ice. I was able to do it my first attempt."
"You're awesome, we get it."
Sheria laughed at his tone while winter blushed slightly. Thorn looked at him.
"I still think it's unneededly risky. But, I also see your point, Tyler. And if we're in the open and NOT in a dungeon we can run away. We'll do it. AFTER we see to the airship."
"Agreed. We can also see about any skills or upgrades to our gear we can make to help us."
Sheria was just getting spoiled with a hug as they talked. The ship's horn blew to indicate docking and the captain's voice was heard on the room horn.
"Oi, Wolves!"
Tyler walked over.
"Your craft be berthed in dock 4. She be a good un."
"Thanks Cap'n."
The party left the ship and went to the indicated dock where they found a tall elf eyeing the sleek craft. Tyler smiled as he noticed them.
"Be that your craft lad?"
"Aye. That she be. Got her off some pirates during the trip."
The elf smiled widely as he looked it over.
"Ya got yerself a rare ole beaut here. A Birzine if I ain't mistaken. It can soar hig up here or land on the ground like a wagon. Plus has a rather potent set of arms in her wings to boot! Have ya decided on a name?"
"Her name be Fenrir."
"HA! The Wolf goddess! It be fittin to an extreme lad. Who be the captain?"
"I am. Tyler the Wolf."
The elf shook his hand.
"Well met! I be Torrent Windsept. I run this part of the airport as overseer. I understand from Captain Maxim he'll provide compensation until you find a helmsmen?"
"That was the plan. She may be our craft, but we got no idea how to fly her."
Torrent pulled a map from a pocket on his tunic.
"Here lad. This be the airmen section of Dragil and that be the captain's tavern. You'll find a good un there."
"Thanks. We'll probably have to do a lotta work to her to get her up to OUR needs."
"If you wish to upgrade or do work to your craft, lad, come speak to me. I'll set ya right."
"Thanks a lot Torrent. It'll be fun hunting pirates!"
That got a laugh as Tyler dragged the two bounties still frozen in Winter's ice through the port to the lift. Thorn smiled.
"We'll look for a captain after turning in the bounties."
"Agreed. Once we got our pilot secured, we'll see about what work needs to be done to make her airworthy. I for one want to outfit her as an allrounder type craft with plenty of storage capacity for long flights or transporting large amounts of goods."
Sheria was sitting on his shoulder as always while the three talked. Winter perked up.
"If we upgrade the craft, can we place a Snow alter inside for me? That way I can refill my mana and offer my prayers without having to visit Home."
"Shouldn't be a problem, Winter. But one step at a time."
They nodded as they went to the lifts. Only for Tyler to blink as he saw the setup of the city.
"Woah. That. is cool."
Dragil was built up the side of a great mountain with four floating islands surrounding the maroon hued city. The buildings were built in a manner resembling fungus on a tree trunk in a staggered manner up the side of the massive mountain with carved tunnels into the rockfaces and street burrowing around the base like cracks in the stone. Tyler looked to the top of the mountain and whistled as a large building built into the shape of a curving mushroom stalk was hanging on the side of the upper ledges of the mountain.
"This place is kinda nerve-racking."
Thorn smiled as she too looked.
"Dragil does that to you the first time you visit. But is actually the most structurally sound cities in the world due to the enchantments woven into the construction, the manner it was constructed, and the materials used. that mountain's a dead volcano and is a extremely lucrative mine for minerals such as gold, silver, diamond and other precious minerals."
Tyler heard a low creak beside him and looked to see a full on gondola on a steel cable popping up beside them. Thorn smiled again as he blinked.
"That's our lift."
Sheria gulped as they stepped onto the thing and Tyler noted there were NO windows or even a gate to keep them in place. Again Thorn smiled.
"This place likes to test you. I kinda like it."
Winter laughed.
"Dragil is also home to the largest adventurer's guild hall in Druala. So that's another reason for the construction. There's actually a mettle test at the top of the mountain road to dive from that road to the lake below. If you do it right, you get a boon from a spirit of courage. Miss and it's certain death."
Tyler looked at the drop from the tall mushroom like building and smirked.
"Challenge accepted."
Thorn and Winter groaned as Sheria blinked.
"Me too!"
All three voices replied to her excitement at once and she squeaked.
"Why not?"
Tyler ruffled her hair fondly.
"Cause I wanna go first. Besides. You cute, so you already win."
She smiled with embarrassment. The girl got a hug as the gondola rode it's line to the ground. Tyler looked at Thorn.
"We got to give Gilindria Nightshade's letters too."
She pointed to the mushroom building.
"Her keep is up there."
"Of course it is. Three birds one visit."
"Just make sure to hand the coin pouch over case you miss."
"Yes Thorn."
The friends walked along the steep stairs with smooth center aisles that made the roads up of Dragil to the main keep as Tyler chuckled.
"I know a few people that would die on these stairs."
Sheria was walking under her own power for once and holding his hand as Thorn smirked.
"wanna know a common cause a death in Dragil?"
"Down the stairs."
"Yeesh. that is a nasty way to go."
"Oh yeah. There's one every day."
"Course there is."
The walk to the keep took half an hour of climbing the blistering stairs and Tyler grumbled as they made it to the front door.
"I remembered I hate stairs."
They laughed at that as they entered the keep. The place being built exactly like the bell of a mushroom with a wide circular room lined with benches looking out at the sheer drops below. Thorn gestured to one window that had a long diving board that jutted out over the immense drop below.
"There's your death sentence."
The party walked along the rows of arches and pillars that supported the roof to a central dais upon sat a tall woman in robes of gold. She was also beautiful with golden tresses that rivaled Sheria's golden lockes. The woman's eyes were of the deepest green and seemed to pierce your heart when you looked into them. Her skin was tanned, silky smooth and fair while her bust was large enough to balloon the backless robe she wore. Tyler and the girls walked right up to her and she looked down her nose at them.
"What brings you to the heights, Hero?"
Tyler reached up and pulled the two letters.
"Nightshade says hi."
She blinked and took them.
"I see. Thank you. She sent word via scrying mirror you were coming. Now. The bodies you carry?"
"Bearis and Helga."
She blinked again, and murmurs of shock were heard throughout the hall. The woman sat back on her seat now.
"Present the bodies and their licenses."
Tyler dropped the bodies at her feet and handed the licenses over. She used an ability to make them glow before nodding.|
"Confirmed. These be the rapist couple. Well done Hero."
"Make sure Rose hears I been busy."
She smirked at that one.
"She will indeed, Hero. The reward be 325,000 dragoons. The payment."
A woman in red tinged lace came out with the pouch. Tyler saw the amount inside and smiled as he took it.
"Thanks. Now I am going to jump out that window."
That raised an eyebrow and Thorn sighed.
"idiot. Been looking forward to that the entire climb."
Gilindria smiled widely now.
"Men. Always trying to proof they ARE men. Very well. If you splatter on the ground, the cost of washing comes outta your party's purse."
Tyler walked over and handed Thorn the coin. as a woman in white robes walked over to explain.
"You may jump when ready. If your successful, the spirit may see fit to return you to the ledge."
Tyler smiled widely as he saw the drop.
"For Rose."
He took off running as Thorn and Winter busted up laughing.
"So THAT'S his play!"
"Ha! He's making it happen!"
Tyler reached the end of the board and launched without hesitation into a massive leaping flip into the air. Smiling the entire time as he flipped slowly on his height to fall straight down like a pencil with his eyes closed. The fall taking no fewer then fifteen minutes before he splashed into water and sank deep. Now he kicked hard as he swam for the surface only to break water in a large cavern where a beautiful lady sat upon a throne of skulls. She having snow white hair and skin with a massive flopping rack contained inside an extremely thin white gown that dropped to her bare feet. Her eyes were of the brightest gold and she smirked as Tyler swam over to the slab of stone she sat on.
"Most impressive, Hero, to preform the Leap of Death without even blinking or looking the once."
Her voice was warm, strong, and very clear. Like a bell. Tyler climbed ashore chuckling as he did so.
"That was awesome. I am SOOOOO doing that again!"
She laughed and it sent a shiver up his spine.
"Alas, if you attempt it, Hero, no matter how you aim, you'll miss."
"Damn. I loved that feeling. Eh. I'm sure there's others."
The woman stood now and he found she had a few inches on him. The woman approached him and took his face in her soft hands.
"I grant you one request, Hero for your feat of courage. Name it."
His grin grew wider.
"I request Rose Scarlet be granted my boon."
She blinked. Then grinned widely.
"I see. So THAT was what you were after. Granted, Hero. The princess will be visited by myself when I return you to the tower. Shall I send a message?"
The cocky kid leaned in and kissed the spirit, on the mouth, with a most tender lovingness that it made her shudder at the feeling before he pulled back.
"I'll see you soon."
The spirit sighed hard as her heart pounded in her chest.
"You wily bastard! She shall receive this in full!"
"I got more for you as payment."
"You really are a cocky kid! Alas, I do not have the required time for you to destroy me. But, prove your courage again, and I can be claimed as a boon."
HE smiled at that.
"Challenge accepted."
The spirit smirked at his unending cockiness.
"Get out a here. My name is Valor."
"I'm Tyler. Nice to ruin ya."
She snorted and waved her hand. Next thing he knew he was back inside the tower looking at Thorn, Winter and Sheria. The ranger sighed.
"Did you do what I think you did?"
HE smirked.
"I gave Rose my boon."
"Gallant bastard. You'll probably give her a heart attack."
He chuckled as the catgirl tossed the coin pouch to him.
"Me plan."
Gilindria laughed.
"All that. Just to send a message?"
"and a kiss."
"Oh you romantic bastard."
Tyler smiled as Sheria reclaimed her seat on his shoulder.
"I got ways."
That got a raised eyebrow from every woman in the room as the Hero looked at the Lady.
"We got nothing else here needs doing."
Gilindria smirked
"Thank you for bringing my wife's words to me unread, Hero. Payment for the survive."
Tyler got a pouch with an extra 50k. The Hero smiled.
"Sure. Nightshade's fun."
"I know you have her key."
"Should I start running?"
That got an approving smirk.
"Keep that mindset. Men."
Tyler chuckled as he headed for the door. Thorn looked at him.
"Yep. We divvy up and see about our pilot."
The plan made the party headed to a nearby inn they'd spotted on the climb up. Tyler smiled as he got them a room for loot splitting for 250 dragoons. Winter put her ward up and Tyler added the amount up.
"Yikes. we made a lot this time. Altogether....hey we have the coin from the chest too."
Thorn smiled.
"We divvyed that yesterday."
He blinked.
"Oh yeah. wow."
"Spirits do that to you."
"Noted. So altogether we got 375,000 dragoons here. That divided by 2 is 187,500. That divided by four is 46,875."
They took shares and Tyler smiled at the amount.
"We just broke 500k for the party that run ladies. Not bad for four people."
Thorn smiled.
"we're not rich though."
"Agreed. Alright. Next up is selling. we'll sell our junk and see about upgrades before we see about hiring an extra hand."
They nodded and headed to the smithy three levels below. Tyler smiling as Sheria walked beside him.
"You good Sparkles?"
She giggled and squeezed his hand.
"Yup! This place is fun!"
"Atta Sparkle."
Thorn smiled fondly as the little blonde bounced along.
"we'll stop at the general store, Sheria. You need a comb for those lockes."
Tyler rubbed his chin.
"I could use a....I got a dagger."
Winter sighed.
"If you cut your throat shaving, I will heal you, but you will NEVER live it down."
"Duly noted. That spell?"
"I'll visit Home once we're done shopping."
"Wouldn't it be best to just hand that spell in?"
She sighed.
"Because this one is an unaccounted for duplicate. If we turn it in, we'll get a fine of 250,000 dragoons for possessing it."
"Chuck it in a fire?"
That made her blink.
"Why the hell didn't I think a that? I can offer it to the Snow! I'll still consult Mother though as this duplication is FAR beyond the skills of those two snakes."
"Thorn. Thread."
"Agreed. we'll be on watch."
Sheria was doing cute double takes as Winter, Thorn and Tyler were now on edge.
"What'd I miss?"
Tyler lifted her up into his arms.
"Have you ever unraveled a ball of yarn, Sheria?"
Confused by the odd question, she answered truthfully.
"I have, big brother. Mommy was angry when i did."
"Bare with me. How did you do it?"
Now sensing a lesson, she furrowed her blonde eyebrows as she concentrated.
"I pulled the lead strand until it was unraveled."
"So by pulling a single strand?"
Still fighting to understand she tried to follow his line of thinking.
"By pulling the single strand, I undid the entire ball. OOOOHHH."
She looked at him with huge eyes.
"That is the strand?"
"Exactly. There's a ball of yarn at the end of that thing and we're holding the lead strand."
Sheria was still confused.
"I understand. But why say it like that big brother?"
"It's called double speech, Sheria. Saying something only WE understand. The better we are at this skill, the more efficient we are as a team. Say I were to tell you that I saw the crows, what would you think I meant?"
Again she concentrated,
"If you said you saw the crows, I'd think you were talking about those people that nag you all the time."
"And I would. Which is how double speech works."
She rubbed her head now.
"It hurts trying to think like you big brother."
He rubbed her back sympathetically.
"I get it Sparkles. But it's just a practice thing."
"If you say so."
Thorn smiled.
"I see what type a teacher you are, Tyler."
Sheria rested her head on his chest as they talked, tired from trying to understand his insanity. Tyler smiled at the ranger.
"if I have to explain the object of the lesson FOR you, it defeats the entire purpose."
Winter smiled now as well.
"That is how I was taught, Tyler. My Snow said if I ever wanted to truly understand a lesson, I had to figure it out with my own mind. if he just handed the answer to me on a silver platter, then I didn't learn it as he answered the question FOR me. The headaches faded one we started seeing how he worked though. And as soon as we did, the lessons got FAR easier."
The party reached the smithy and headed inside to find a burly woman behind the counter. She had coal black skin and red eyes with thickly corded arms from hitting iron all day. She eyed the group walking in with a fiercely burning gaze.
"och. What brings a bunch a young'uns to me smithy this morn?"
Tyler smiled.
"Got some gear to sell, and looking to upgrade as well."
Sheria hopped from his arms and poked around the shop as the woman eyed her balefully.
"watch it runt!"
"Do NOT speak to her that way."
Tyler flipped his switch as the woman straightup barked bad-temperedly at Sheria. The woman turned on him infuriated, only to look into his enraged eyes and felt a cold shiver go down her spine. The kid's gaze was like an angry wolf baring his fangs as his pup was threatened. The woman gulped.
"My apologies, miss."
Tyler smirked, and the woman shuddered.
"That was your ONE. I would not recommend a second."
Now scared AND ashamed, the woman nodded.
"Me apologies, Lad. It seems I HAVE become a most bitter one indeed to snap at a mere child like I just did."
Winter made her presence known now.
"That was beneath you Miss. I would seek the Snow out for the bile in your soul."
That made her sigh.
"Indeed, lady Priestess. I shall when our business is concluded."
Tyler blinked and his ice cold gaze shifted back to his usual lively arrogance.
"If you do not mind, may I ask WHY you're so angry?"
The woman reached beneath her counter sadly and passed him a photo of a young girl with the same coal black skin, red eyes and long blood red hair into view.
"Her, Lad. My only child, Bianca, was sold into slavery not three weeks back from under me. a slaver band you see."
Tyler blinked.
The ranger was shaking at the extremely brittle ice in his voice now.
"NO. Druala is NOT a slave country, Tyler. On my Tail it is NOT."
The woman sighed deeply.
"But the nobility ARE."
"Where is she?"
The woman blinked.
Tyler's eyes were even MORE enraged now as he looked at her.
"I said. where is she?"
The women saw his intent and placed a map onto the table of the city and tapped a compound.
"Here lad."
He took the map and walked out.
"Let's go tear this place apart. Slavery? NOT ON MY WATCH."
Thorn and winter smiled. Sheria was on his shoulder as the Hero looked at the Snow priestess.
"we're stopping at Home FIRST. Twice? NO."
She blinked.
"By the Snow. If it's happened TWICE, then I'll need to preform a Snow Summon."
Thorn blinked.
"would it really be THAT severe?"
Winter looked at her with blazing eyes.
"WORSE, Thorn. If TWO Mothers have been found negligent in their duties, then the Snow is melting and needs to refreeze. Such a thing is out of my hands and a Summon is my duty as a Priestess of Tolas the Snow."
Tyler smiled at her fire.
"If it's two for two, then Druala is a rotten carcass."
Thorn shuddered at that as they reached the white temple of the Snow. Winter took the lead as she threw the doors open and strode to the white haired woman at the white altar.
"Mother. The city."
She blinked.
"What of it?"
"Is. There. Slavery. In it?"
That took her aback.
"No. There hasn't been slavery in Dragil for 150 years."
"That TWO. OPEN YOUR DAMN EYES. wolves. we got blood to spill. Winter. those poor souls FIRST. BLIND FUCKS after."
The room was shaking at the venom in his voice as he spit the words from his mouth. Winter reached up to the white crystal on her staff,
"In the name of Tolas the Snow. I, Winter Frostmane, invoke the Snow to open his Pure, uncorrupted eyes. Behold the failures of your Mothers, and see their Sins as they are."
She broke the crystal as the Mother dropped to her knees as a massive white mist rose up from the blocks of ice surrounding them to amass before them. Tyler watched curiously as the mist took the form of a man in robes of snow with ice for eyes. EVERY Snow priestess dropped to their knees bant over their staffs as he opened his eyes to look at the standing winter.
"My Daughter. Why have you challenged your Mother?"
His voice was ice cold and with every word he spoke it felt like the temperature dropped by a feelable margin as Winter faced the man.
"Snow Tolas. I with my own eyes have witnessed the failings of TWO Mothers at Home in TWO different places."
"This is a very serious accusation, Snow daughter. Are you certain of this, that you stake your Ice on it?"
Winter threw her staff at him, anger in her ice blue eyes.
"If the Mothers are allowing children to be raped and tortured by the ones they are supposed to turn to for aid not one hundred yards from Home, then I forsake my ice as such evil I want NO connection to. If the Mothers are so utterly blind as to not see a slavery ring being run by the ones above them, then again, I forsake my Ice as again I want no connection to such vile poison."
Tolas smiled approvingly.
"Your heart is as Pure as the Snow you wear. I am proud of you, my Daughter. I have seen the truth of this matter beyond your understanding or knowledge, and rule this Snow Summon vitally needed."
Winter bowed her head as the man reached to her and patted the girl's snow white hair.
"You have too much to do before you become a Mother, Winter Frostmane. Fitting the role be for you as it is. My eyes are open, and my voice speaking to the Ice as we ourselves speak. Take heart, as Home has opened it's door to those that are in desperate need. Present your staff."
Winter laid the thing across her hands and Tolsa took it.
"Your staff is as pure and true as you yourself are. The Ice is preserved."
The broken crystal was repaired before it was placed back in her hands. Tolsa smiled warmly now.
"well done Winter."
Tyler smiled as well, sensing the god's demeanor to be of a doting father with god tier power. Then the man looked to the Hero.
"I sense the same trueness in you, Hero, as in my own Daughter."
"Clarica’s a handful ain't she?"
That got a fond smile.
"She told me to say hi. And to call you an idiot."
Tyler smiled as Tolsa looked to the kneeling Mother.
"Now. I have a Father's work to do. Daughter. You have Snow's work to do."
"Yes Father. Thank you for listening."
She got another pat before a wave.
"Go spread the Ice."
Released, the girl led the party out of the temple before explaining as they headed for the compound.
"Tolas is EVERY Snow Priestess' father. Snow Summon is us asking our Father for help. if it's for a unimportant reason, like say solving an issue in the Home, we lose our ice magic and our snow hair for disturbing him at work. If, however, Mother is being abusive or nasty or blind, as the Mother of the Home is the city's mother, then it's his job as the Father to step in to correct the mistake and ensure we children are being taken care of while he's away."
Tyler smiled at that.
"I got the feeling he's a doting father that does NOT fuck around when needed."
Winter smiled wider, proud of the god she got to call father.
"No he does not, Tyler. Tolas may have seemed kind and warm to us, but that was ONLY because we actually NEEDED his help for this. Mothers all over the country are going to have to answer to him now if he finds any Sins to the Snow inside their cities. As Slavery is our mortal sin. if such a thing happens in the city of a Snow temple, it's Mother's job to send the priestesses to shatter the ring and rescue the poor souls in their cages. If the children of the city are suffering, she is to open the gates of Home and bring them into the Snow as children are Tolas' treasures."
Tyler nodded as she talked.
"Good man. we'll tear this ring to the ground and make it know that I will NOT put up with ANY type of oppressor period. This shit ends TODAY."
The friends nodded grimly at this vow as they stepped onto a gondola headed for the next level of the city where the wealthy lived. Tyler looked at sheria and she hugged him.
"I'm safe, big brother."
He smiled and patted her hair.
"I know Sparkles. Looking at you helps calm me."
Thorn smiled at that.
"NOW you sound like her father."
That got a chuckle as they stepped off the lift......only to come face to face with Tyler's team of Helan, Greg, Sherry, Sam, and Michelle. The Hero blinked.
"Woah. Look what the cat threw up."
His team were just as shocked to see him step off the lift as he was. Then the boy refocused.
"I don't have time for this. Come on."
He went to walk away when Michelle grabbed his arm with a relieved expression on her face.
"Thank god. Come on. You-"
"I got far important things to do right now lady. Fuck. OFF."
Tyler tore his arm free with such ferocity it terrified the woman as the party strode off through the city with a purpose in their stride. The Hero feeling a rage starting to build inside him as he spotted the gated door of the compound. Thorn placed a hand on his shoulder.
"Don't lose it. You do we'll ALL die."
He grinned.
"I got it. Thanks Thorn."
They reached the gate and a servant walked out to greet them.
"Who shall I tell lord Victus is calling?"
"Death. Your slaves are free as of NOW."
The swords cleared their sheaths and the gate was booted in with a thundering boom that echoed off the mountain side as Tyler spotted bracelets on the servant's wrists. The woman gaped as he slashed them off her wrist.
"Slavery is dead in this city. And it will be buried with that FUCKING LORD!"
He walked along the lavish garden as alarms were raised all along the sector of the city as the enraged hero slashed slave bracelets off every servant that crossed his path. The freed men and women were sobbing as their nightmare was ended when a group of armed men rushed the group of four from the manor at the end of the street. Tyler lifted his blue blade high.
"If you are a slave, make it known now. If you are NOT, and you defend this home, you WILL be sent to hell. Make a choice."
There was an instant split in the force rushing them as no less then three quarters of the bank dropped a dagger to indicate slavery, and Tyler nodded.
"Frozen Cone."
The guards that were NOT slaves were encased in ice as Tyler cut the bracelets from wrists as a group of town guard rushed him with a captain in the lead.
"I'm a Hero. This is a Slave manor. Are YOU involved?"
He shuddered at the look in his eyes.
"On my oath as a crewmen for the warship Leviathan, Hero, I am NOT. What are you orders?"
"Search this fucking city, from the tip of the mountain to the fucking sewers. If I find ONE bracelet intact, Captain, I'll burn this city to the ground MYSELF!"
"Yes sir!"
The whistle was blown and the orders given as Tyler walked to the front door and tore it off it's hinges as his team came in to see the now weeping in relief mass of people being escorted by town guard to the Snow temple and other healer temples. Michelle pulled the captain aside.
"What the hell did he do, Captain?"
The man hung his head in shame.
"He discovered a slavery ring in the city, Lady hero. and he is NOT happy. Thank the gods the Wolf came to visit."
Tyler and his party were cutting bracelets from wrists as they searched the manor for Bianca and the Lord. The Wolf thinking he knew exactly where they were and so headed off with Sheria to look. He heard the whimpering from behind a large door as he approached.
"No. Please. Not like this. Please."
The door simply exploded and Tyler was confronted by a large naked man mounting a naked girl the size of winter tied to a large bed with her legs spread. The man looked at him in utter shock as the girl had a look of hope on her pretty face.
"Don't let him do this1"
Tyler was across the room like a thunderbolt to tear the man off the coal skinned girl as Sheria pulled her shortsword. The wolf slammed the man against the wall and he snorted.
"Unhand me at once you ignorant idiot. WE own this city."
"Then it will burn. DIE."
Tyler stab bed him in the chest with his dagger and left him to bleed to death as he walked over to the sobbing with relief girl as Sheria cut the bracelets off her.
"You Bianca?"
She looked at him with tear filled red eyes.
"Yes sir. I'm Bianca Shattershot."
He hugged her tightly.
"Your mother sent for a Wolf pack. You're safe now."
She grabbed onto him with a rib crushing hug as her body shook from the force of her sobs of relief. sheria hopped up and hugged her too as Thorn and Winter came in. Then the two girls all joined in on the mass hug before Bianca was able to talk. She sniffed.
"My virtue is still mine. Thank you, Heroes."
Tyler smiled.
"I'm Tyler. That's Sheria, Winter, and Thorn."
He then pulled his sweatshirt from his bag and gave it to her.
"You good looking an all, but save it for the lucky bastard you WANT to look at ya."
she smiled and pulled the thing on, finding it hung to her knees. Tyler smiled as she got to her feet.
"I don't really need to know what happened here as every fucker that hurt you and the rest are burning as we speak."
That made her smile widely.
"Thank you, Tyler. Come on. His office was this way."
"Smart too? Scary combo."
"I'm strong too. Don't test me."
"Yikes. I like this one!"
That made the coal skinned girl smirk as they walked.
"Sadly, I'm not interested in men."
"A lady of standards."
That got a snort.
"I've actually never it put like that before. I'm keeping it."
"Ten dragoons."
"I will hit you."
"Yeesh. Spitfire this one. i freakin love it."
She smirked at that as Sheria took her spot on his shoulder. Bianca led them through a set of double doors to a luxurious office with a large desk set against the wall that had a clear view out a balcony window. She gestured to it.
"Anything important he had it'll be in here somewhere."
"You know the drill. No book unopened."
Bianca blinked as the highly efficient team got to work searching the room for any documents or information on the bastard's business dealings. Tyler took the desk with his knowledge of hidden compartments and traps, winter took the walls with her detection spells searching for hidden vaults and pockets, Thorn was flipping through books on the bookshelf with her ranger senses trained to find minute details at lightning speed, and Sheria bouncing from each of the three learning various aspects of each skillset while helping the best she could.
"Got a hit here."
Tyler pulled a small packet of papers from a hidden slot in a drawer. They talked without stopping their tasks.
"Got some smuggling routes for slaves and some weapons oddly enough, Thorn. I'm thinking he was supplying a rebel group in the city."
"There's always some underground group trying to take over. Nothing too concrete."
"I got something here, guys."
"Watchya got Winter?"
"I got a hollow feeling here behind this solid wall. I think secret passage."
Tyler smiled at that.
"Freeze the stone as solid as you can in that spot winter. it's made from a stone called limestone so if it gets cold enough it'll literally crumble."
The Snow priestess smiled at that.
"That's an ice miner trick. Got it. Arctic Freeze."
Tyler looked in the last drawer as the section of wall was frozen to the point it was as brittle as glass with soft cracking sounds as the fire warmed walls fought with the flash frozen section. The Hero left the cleared desk and slammed a hammer into the ice. it shattered with a sound of breaking glass to reveal a long corridor leading into the side of the mountain the estate was built into. Tyler smirked as he saw it.
"How cliche. Come on."
Bianca blinked.
"The hell am I supposed to do?"
He looked at her.
"wanna come with?"
She smirked and grabbed an axe off the wall beside her.
"Sure. I prefer the hammer to be honest, but this'll do for now."
Tyler led the way down the corridor with Thorn right beside him looking for traps or other surprises as the rather well lit hallway stretched on. The friends were led by the hall to a large room with a table set under a large skylight with various sharp instruments lining the walls and one tables. Tyler sighed hard as he saw the worn straps on the table.
"We found his play room. that bastard shoulda screamed for longer. whatever."
"Got another hollow."
Tyler walked over to where Winter was and slammed a fist into the wall with a tired anger that shattered the secret door entirely to reveal another office entirely. The party got to work searching the room as Bianca stood looking confused as to what her role was. Sheria smiled.
"You can help me help them, Bianci. I'm learning too."
The dark skinned girl smiled at that one.
"Sure Sheria. You're learning well."
Tyler smiled as he rifled through another packet of papers.
"She is indeed, Bianca. She's our party apprentice. And we could not have found a finer one. Hey, got more smuggler routes."
"I got a manifest of slaves coming into the city."
"How bad, Thorn?"
"Tens of thousands daily. Looks like this city was a main hub for a massive slavers route coming from Elvenhein and beyond. I think we found a Road of Tears."
The natives blinked and Tyler sighed.
"That a slave road?"
The ranger nodded.
"More highway. a VERY IMPORTANT highway. A Road Of Tears is a secured slave shipping route that funnels millions through it monthly. If one is found in a country it is a stain on that country's honor as it's that type of noticeable. The fact it runs through Elvenhein AND Druala with ties to further means this might be one of the Four great Roads in the world. If that is the case, Tyler, then we have just preformed a feat of such proportions we'll be able to claim a boon from the crown."
Tyler smiled.
"I KNOW what I'll ask for of the crown."
Bianca smirked.
"The princess?"
"Not yet. I'm still working her over. I'll ask for the Queen."
That got a snorting laugh from the freed girl as they kept searching. The findings being compiled into a 6 inch packet Tyler put into his bag.
"Next compound."
They nodded and headed out. Only to be met by Michelle and his team at the door of the manor. The former foster mother glared at him.
"What the hell have you done?"
"Bitch. I do not have time for you right now."
HE shoved her out of his way and kept walking as the captain came running.
"Wolf! Report!"
"Go on Captain."
"Sir. The Duchess Gilindria requests you attend her in the High keep."
"The search?"
"Appallingly bad, Sir. we've found 35,000 slaves at the last figure. And many and more still being freed."
"I thought so. keep at it Captain."
"Yes Sir!"
The man banged a fist on his chest and headed to his next task as the friends headed to the High Keep. Tyler looking at Bianca.
"we'll bring you home first."
She smiled at that one and so did his friends. Tyler led the way to the smithy where the smith was waiting.
The girl was sobbing as her mother hugged her tightly. Tyler smiled as the smith looked at him.
"Thank you, lad."
"We ain't done yet miss. I gotta go tear Gilindria a new asshole for this. See ya around Bianca."
She smiled in her mother's hug.
"Thank you, Tyler. And you WILL bring that blonde cutie to visit!"
Tyler smiled as they left the smithy to take the lift back up to the keep. There they found a group of tied up nobles prostrated on the floor before the clearly enraged Gilindria. The blonde woman was pacing back and forth on her dais like an enraged tigeress with prey just beyond her reach as the friends walked up and Tyler glared at her.
"So. YOU'RE a blind leader too."
She rounded on him in a fury.
"How DARE you-"
"Bitch. Shut up."
He pulled the packet from his bag and slammed it into her chest.
"Any idiot that lets this happen in THEIR city is a blind fool. Now shut up, get off your ass, and fix it."
Her green eyes were enraged as she took the packet, but Tyler matched her furious gaze with his ice cold stare. Thorn blinked.
"I am suddenly seeing them as an infuriated Tiger staring down an enraged Wolf."
Tyler snorted as the woman tried to intimidate Him rather then look at the paperwork.
"So you ARE involved."
The woman's veins were seen as she fought with her temper.
"Who do you think you are? Arro-"
"I am the fucking idiot that did YOUR job for you. I'm in this city no fewer then 5 fucking hours, and I find this? When YOU'VE been supposedly LEADING this city for HOW long? Get off your high horse."
That one reached her, and the blonde leader deflated in shame as she hung her head.
"Okay. You're right, Tyler the Wolf. I am deeply ashamed of this tragedy happening in my city. And I WILL fix it. Warkin!"
A wiry elf came in and bowed. Gilindria nodded to him.
"The Fangs just got added to the search and rescue. Find them ALL or I will personally throw you out that window."
"Yes ma'am. fates of the rescued?"
"Healed of their hurts, fed, and brought to the city temples."
"At once ma'am! Any that resist?"
Tyler drew his sword.
"No mercy. No questions asked. NO HESITATION."
That made the shamed leader smirk.
"What he said. But make it hurt. A lot."
The elf bowed again.
"At once ma'am!"
The elf was then seen racing from the room blowing a bone whistle as Tyler looked at the tied up people on the floor.
Gilindria smiled darkly.
"The nobles that were found to be slave owners, but happened to be in this room."
"Well. Allow me."
"Granted. Death is warranted."
Tyler walked down the line and stabbed each in the heart before reaching the last one and smiling widely.
"I got an idea."
His friends blinked as he set the pleading for mercy man by the empty window before taking a step back and winding up.
"See ya in hell!"
Tyler booted the man in the chest with authority and it launched him clean out of the window screaming in despair. Then he was lost to sight as the hero dusted his hands off while walking back to the group.
"Always wanted to do that to somebody."
Gilindria smiled.
"I like your better, Tyler. I usually just throw em out the window."
"Ya gotta have fun with it. Why do it otherwise?"
That got a chuckle.
"Wisdom indeed. I wish to reward you for your aid and rightful chastisement of my blindness, but I fear to honor your efforts the proper way, we must wait until the search has been completed and the damage tallied."
Tyler nodded.
"That's more then fair. We'll go kick in a few more doors ourselves."
"Granted. And yes I know you'd do it whether I allowed you to or not, but i have to at least PRETEND to be in charge."
"I get it. And I WILL hold you to your oath to be better, Gilindria."
"I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment, Hero. I shall not sleep this night and seek out my flame for redemption."
He tilted his head, curious despite the situation.
"Your flame?"
She smiled.
"I worship the goddess of fire Ignisca Flamecaller. She who gave we mere humans the first flame and taught us to use fire in the ancient past. She is the female version of Tolas the Snow with a far more....volatile temperament."
"Sounds about right for a fire goddess. Once frozen, ice don't really change much."
winter snorted at that one as Gilindria smirked.
"And before you worry, Ignisca is also a most peaceful goddess so long as her flame is not disturbed. So I have no issues with the Snow or her Ice."
Tyler chuckled as Winter smiled.
"We of the Snow are also rather accepting of other deities. Since you were about to ask that as well, Tyler."
"Startin to think I'm gettin predictable."
The friends laughed before they headed to the next manor as Gilindria gave more orders and oversaw more patrols of her soldiers. Thorn looked at Tyler as they walked to a thus far unsearched house.
"This one is a lot less intense then the last confrontation."
Tyler smiled.
"This isn't the same caliber of horror as that orphanage, Thorn. Plus we WERE able to save Bianca. Which was what we originally set out to do. So I can take comfort we CAN save those we set out to save."
Thorn understood.
"I get it. We got lucky. But I get it."
Winter sighed deeply.
"The Snow is awake now and so the horrors in each city with a temple will be substantially lessened if not utterly eliminated by the Snow. Tolas is NOT an idle god when his power is needed. We'll see results in the next guild article."
Tyler smiled as he booted the door to the house in.
"Nice to see deities that actually give a fuck."
The friends freed slaves for the next few hours until the once overs began with the town guard starting at the peak of the mountain and literally walking in a line down every street checking every living person in the city and searching every nook and cranny in the city ten times over until the bells of freedom rang loud over the city. Tyler was standing in the throne room with his friends and his stunned team at the utter chaos he'd spearheaded to rescue the slaves from their chains. Gilindria was looking through the last pages of the latest packet Tyler had given her.
"No doubt about it, Tyler. we found one of the Four Great Roads of Tears in the realm. and it flows right through Druala, Elvenhein, and right into Elroaguard on the other side of the Elven realm. I've sent for King Emberis via scrying mirror for this matter."
A servant ran forward with a large mirror he set on the floor before it rippled and a hologram of Emberis, Iris, Rose and Spark appeared on their thrones. Tyler smirked as he saw the princess.
"Nice to see you again, MY princess."
She shivered as he looked at her.
"And same to you, MY champion. I got your gift you bastard."
"Happy to spoil you."
She smiled wider.
"I ALSO got your message."
"Oh I intend to. My boon I'll tell you of in person."
"And I'll have more stuff to brag about, Rose. Hmm. I got an idea."
She blinked in mild fear.
"Why o why am I suddenly terrified?"
He smiled.
"Ehhh, I dunno."
Iris shuddered.
"By the GODS that is terrifying when he does that!"
"There's MY Queen!"
Iris smiled knowingly.
"Nightshade told me."
"Oh you BASTARD! that was your plan the entire time! YES we WILL, but Bastard!"
Then Tyler looked to Emberis.
"In yo FACE."
The room lost it laughing at the salty jab, the King included. Then he smiled at the boy.
"I admit. I lost this fair and square. well played lad. she still be MY wife till I die, but it be name only as such splits destroy kingdoms. And I understand you're only after the fun part of her life."
"I am many things Sire. A heartbreaker is NOT one of them."
He nodded sagely.
"And a most honorable man as well. But so you are aware? My DAUGHTER is an entirely different matter."
"No offense, but if you DON'T hate me for hitting on your beautiful daughter, then are you REALLY her father?"
That got an approving nod from the man.
"Well said, and well meant. Now. The Road."
Tyler nodded.
"How bad is it?"
The king rubbed his temples.
"Think of the road as a thick tree root jutting into the country."
Tyler sighed.
"And smaller outshoots sticking it's reach into more and more areas long the main length. Shit."
"Agreed. The root was cut and it now being traced back through it's respective countries to find the source or the end. Elvenhein owes Druala a favor for unraveling this mess for them as apparently they've known about it for years but were unable to act without a catalyst."
"Thank the gods I don't care. I smell something foul I'm going for a look."
The king smiled.
"We are in desperate need of more men like you, Tyler. The very fact you have no regard for the rules of the realm when you smell danger is nothing but a good thing. Even IF your methods are a little extreme, which I understand the reasoning for entirely."
Tyler smiled at that.
"I'll keep at it too. Something tells me the underbelly of this kingdom hasn't given up the last of it's secrets."
The man frowned at that coded message.
"I sense another thread here. Here, Tyler."
The man passed a small coin sized Mirror to the Hero.
"A royal scrying mirror. My gut is churning for some reason and I wish to hear of any other finds you may have made you cannot tell me of at this time."
"Of course. is it single use?"
"No. It may be used freely so long as you have just cause to do so."
"Understood. Now. The results of the cut?"
Emberis nodded.
"For your efforts in destroying a Great road, each member of your party may claim ONE reward of the crown. Hero. Step forward."
Tyler smiled as he looked right at Iris.
"Your Key, my queen."
She smiled proudly as she passed an ornate flaming key in his hand through the image.
"My Key, My Hero. use it often."
"With longing."
Tyler added the key to his license as Rose was seen to pout at being passed over. The Hero noticed this.
"Do not worry, my princess Rose. I'm after your...OTHER...key."
She blinked before the key he meant sank in and then she gasped. iris smiled widely at his brazen statement. Poor Rose's mind exploded as she realized his game when Sheria perked up.
"Rosy! I want your key too!"
The princess was shaken from her stupor with a smile as she gave the giggling blonde her lay key.
"Here Sheri! You WILL use it!"
"Teehee! Tonight!"
"I'll have a bath ready for you."
The room, Tyler's team included, were smiling at the cute as Thorn smiled.
"I wish Erice's key Sire."
The elven maid appeared and she passed it through smiling.
"Shoulda just said so when we were together Thorn!"
"where's the fun in that?"
Winter smiled.
"I wish for a Pure Diamond Sire."
The king smiled widely at that as a fist sized gem was passed through.
"You have served us well, Hero. I humbly request you continue to do so."
Tyler looked right at Rose with a smile.
"If only to make YOU smile, Rose, then I shall."
Rose smiled with a flush on her face as he said this. Then Emberis looked to Gilindria.
"We'll discuss the damage to the city on the morrow when we have a chance to sleep this over."
"Yes Sire."
Tyler spoke up now.
"we'll find a safe spot to inform you on our suspicion, Sire."
"Of course. The audience is ended."
The mirror died and Gilindria nodded to the elven Fang she'd summoned.
"Take them to MY chamber, Warkin."
The friends were led by the elf to the Lady's chambers where once the key was turned, and Winter's ward was put up Tyler placed the scrying mirror onto the bed and winter used the spell.
"Connection across distance: Emberis."
The king appeared again, but only his head and Winter pulled the body modification card out of her staff. Emberis blinked.
"A perfect duplicate? what do you know?"
Winter explained.
"The spell was duplicated with professional skill, Sire. it was taken from Helga the Lure after they encountered the wolf on our last flight."
"I see. Well done bringing those monsters down Tyler. I see why you're still suspicious. That type of goods is NOT funneled inside the road of tears. That said. I think the best thing would be for it to be destroyed. Lady Snow, are you going to offer it to Home?"
"I am, Sire. Once Snow Tolas gives the okay for me to return Home."
"I heard a Snow Summon took place. And that it was both warranted and desperately needed. The Snow temple in Durla has slammed it's doors shut as they deal with the internal investigation."
Winter smiled.
"It'll be over by tomorrow morning, Sire. Once Tolas is satisfied with Mother we'll be able to go Home."
Tyler tilted his head.
"what happens to those he is NOT happy with, Winter?"
She smiled.
"He punishes you by stripping you of your white hair, fair skin and blue eyes. As well as taking your magic away so you can never cast another spell again. If he REALLY doesn't like you, you get dragged to his lower realm where you spend the rest of eternity naked in a frozen tundra never knowing warmth again and are violated by denizens of the plane."
Tyler whistled at that one.
"nasty. But makes sense."
Then he looked at Emberis.
"This duplication. Can it be traced?"
The King frowned.
"Sadly not. A very wily idea, but it's that simple. The cards are forged individually and imbued with a tracker spell I myself place upon them as they be that type of dangerous. Yet that has no such tracker. It would glow bright gold to my eyes and instead it's glowing bright black. Which indicates a banned spell."
Tyler nodded.
"So they probably combined numerous types to create the spell. Body modding isn't all that complicated to create in all honesty. Get the right mix and BAM. workaround."
Winter nodded.
"Which was how this one came to be. Sire. Is there a spell card that is SIMILAR to this one?"
He tilted his head.
"I think so. But I shall have to check."
"I would do so. Odds are that one is where the duplicate came from."
The king nodded again.
"I shall make the inquires. Is this the only other discovery you have made?"
Tyler looked at his party and they shrugged before he looked back to the King.
"For the moment. But, I feel oddly......on edge for whatever reason. Like there's something else I'm not seeing here. I'll keep an eye on it though."
Thorn frowned now herself.
"I feel it too oddly enough. It's like when you see a single wolf in the wilds."
"And your asking where's the rest of it's pack as you KNOW it's out there?"
Tyler blinked then sighed.
"Oh I think I know what it is. Let me ask this: These roads of tears. are they mere highways or do they have an overseer?"
The king AND the ranger blinked. Emberis reacting first.
"By my fire you're right! The Roads ALWAYS have an overseer to keep the flow moving! Yet we haven't heard a PEEP of one!"
Tyler looked around the bedchamber of the duchess.
"The stereotypes and cliches first ladies. I'm thinking it's Gilindira."
Emberis blinked.
"She's one of our most devote leaders!"
"Which makes it perfect for her as she already has the most solid persona. No one would THINK to look at the loyal leader, would they?"
"You have a scary mind. Granted. Find this overseer Hero."
The friends split with the king still on the scry. Tyler going right for the bed, or more accurately the headboard of the massive four poster thing and ran his skilled hands along the ornate wood. It did not take long until he found a seam out of place in the woodwork.
"Got a slot."
Thorn came over as Winter and Sheria searched the desk in the corner to assist. Tyler opened the secret compartment and pulled a pile of papers out and began leafing through them.
"HMm. Love letters and lewd fantasies with Nightshade. Nothing too crazy....scratch that."
He pulled a document from one pile and sighed.
"Got the thread. This here's a letter to Gilindria from one known as the River master. It's discussing payment for something called the servant toy. From here the price discussed is 75,000 dragoons."
Thorn frowned.
"That's the average cost of a high class slave. The River master. We have a title. keep looking."
Tyler nodded and took the document before putting the love letters back, when he had a thought.
"I wonder."
He leaned into the cubby the size of a book and pressed his hands against the back wall.
"HA. False back. Classic."
He opened it to reveal magically taken photos of Gilindria and Nightshade, doing everything from holding each other to sex. The Hero put the lovely shots aside and pulled the thicker packet of papers from the back of the second cubby and nodded.
"Here we go. Gilindira was the overseer for the road of tears. Explains why she was so enraged when I confronted her with it. Nightshade was horrified when I threw the orphanages in her face. Like she had no idea and was ashamed to find out like she did. GILINDRIA'S reaction reminded me of a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar and throwing a temper tantrum over it. Her acting was good though. The Servant toy was an elven girl and the river master was her seller. Seems like Gilindria likes elven girls young as Sheria for her bed. These detail the entire operation and how it functioned."
Thorn tilted her head.
"Are you SURE It's Gilindria? She DID invoke the name of Ignisca. The Flamecaller is NOT merciful when invoked in such a manner."
Emberis frowned hard.
"Gilindria is the Flame's most devote follower period. My family are also closely tied to the flamecaller as she was my ancestor's mother generations ago. Hence why we of the line so closely resemble the fire. If she invoked the Flamecaller's name, then she MEANT it."
Tyler frowned now himself.
"Is there a disguising spell upon these?"
Winter came over now.
"I can check. Snow priestesses are also skilled in purifying deceit."
Tyler gave her the papers and Winter tapped them with her staff.
"Cold Truth."
The papers froze solid before shattering entirely and reforging into the papers anew. Tyler looked them over and whistled.
"Damn. That was a close one. These were indeed enchanted to point the finger at Gilindria. The one we're looking for is called Minera Coalbreaker. SHE was the overseer of the road."
Thorn and Winter looked at each other.
"You don't think?"
Tyler looked to Sheria.
"Bianca tell you her mother's name Sheria?"
The blonde smiled.
"It's Mavis Shatterstone."
Tyler breathed a sigh of relief at that.
"Okay that checks out. My gut's not acting up over that. Plus her reaction was FAR too intense for mere acting. Next step."
Emberis nodded as the evidence was taken and the treasures resealed.
"Tell Gilindria. She'll understand the reasoning behind it."
"Right. We'll find her."
The audience ended and Tyler walked out to go see the duchess. They found the woman talking with a group of nobles about the mess when they approached. She smirked at them.
"I hope your audience was fruitful."
Tyler passed her the papers.
"YOU were nearly set up, Gilindria."
She blinked and looked the papers over, AND saw the original forms.
"By my flame. How did you find these? WHERE did you find these?"
"In your secret spots. And No. I will not breathe a word of what we found inside."
She blinked and Thorn smirked.
"Tyler got the scent of a missing piece. And looked at the most likely candidate. be thankful HE found them instead of someone else."
The duchess became VERY angry now as she looked back to the documents.
"I will forgive this slight, Tyler the Wolf, as it was done with no other motives but to protect MY people. And i WILL hold that oath you just made to me to the Flamecaller. This Minea Coalbreaker. I know her well. she was MY bedmate not four nights prior. Warkin. BRING HER TO ME."
Tyler smirked.
"Future reference? Use a wood spell to hide the seams. Anyone with sensitive fingers and patience can find that spot with relative ease."
She smirked.
"Noted. And I am not going ask how you know that."
"I had a job back in my old world making things like that. Only MINE were unable to be found unless you LKNEW they were there and even then it was next to impossible."
"I wonder."
"Yes I take commissions."
"We shall discuss this after the current issue."
The Hero amused himself by hugging Sheria as his team came up with Michelle in the lead. The foster mother glared at the tall boy with the blonde cutie.
"What have you been doing since you ran from us?"
Tyler shrugged, still playing with the small girl, getting squeals from her.
"Not much really. Some raiding, fighting bandits, and traveling. We've spent more days in the air then on the ground oddly enough. That was a weird feeling let me tell ya."
Helan frowned hard as Sheria took her spot on his shoulder.
"We read in the paper you took down something called a despair demon. Tell us of it."
Tyler sighed hard as the memories flooded back.
"We were in the keep in Dragel turning in a bounty when a guy comes walking in saying he needed a Snow priestess to deal with a demon. You know the trope. Right place right time type gimmick. So I walked over and offered my own snow priestess for the job as hunting the fell beasts are a part of her sect. So we got hired and we kicked the door in."
He hugged Sheria again as the memory of what they found inside went through him.
"There was not a human to be found inside. You guys remember a few years back when the FBI smashed that kiddie ring being run from a church in Brooklyn? Yeah. Add rotting zombies, that girl from the ring, and the last exorcist and her have HALF the hellscape we found inside that building. The place was an orphanage that was being used as a forced brothel for those with coin and means to come play with the kids. One girl, Clarica, wished for something to come end the pain and suffering in her life. She wished. And the demon answered. we found her in the end and we granted her the peace she so desperately wished for. I put her out of her misery myself, and laid her to rest with my own two hands."
Michelle blinked at the sadness in his voice.
"Didn't think sympathy was a piece of your character."
He smirked at that.
"Normally it's not. But. When I saw Clarica's small body, for a split second I saw Sheria as that small corpse i was unable to save. And that single image scared me more then anything I have ever experienced. And even now it haunts me."
The blonde hugged him hard now.
"I'm safe, big brother."
He smiled as her stroked her golden hair.
"I know Sparkles. I'm just wallowing again.”
She giggled at that one as Helan blinked.
“never thought I’d see YOU actually care about somebody else, Tyler.”
The hero shrugged.
“Sheria’s my little sister. Kinda comes with the territory.”
Sheria smiled proudly.
“And HE’s MY big brother!”
Thorn and Winter smiled fondly as the two hugged again.
“That girl has the best big brother in him.”
“And a great father too.”
Greg stepped forward now.
“He’s NOT her father or her big brother. You keep pretending otherwise and you’ll only get her hurt.”
Tyler smirked at him.
“I say she’s my sister. The hell kinda right do you have to say otherwise? if Sheria wants me to be her big brother, then you got no room to argue.”
The blonde nodded fiercely.
“What he said!”
That made them frown and were about to respond when Warkin walked in dragging a net that had a coal skinned woman inside. Tyler walked over with Sheria on his shoulder and his friends flanking him to get a look at the woman. Only to see it WASN’T Bianca or her mother but another lady entirely. The elf dropped the net before the duchess as the lady trapped inside glared at her.
“What is the meaning of this? Let me out I’ve done nothing to deserve this!”
Gilindria glared at her.
“The River Master.”
Minea gasped hard, before starting to shake.
“I don’t know anything!”
Her formerly indignant, haughty voice was now a frightened whisper as Gilindria produced the packet of papers. The enraged duchess read off a list of duties the vile woman oversaw as the road overseer.
“Keep the one known as Gilindria docile with your body as she be most partial to your type. Ensure the flow of goods through her lucrative city at all costs and also obtain fresh goods as the opportunity arises. Need i continue? Minea?”
The coal skinned woman was shaking.
“Mercy, please! I’ll give you the names!”
Tyler caught the eye of Gilindira and smirked. She smiled.
“The Hero shall conduct this interrogation.”
Tyler walked over to the lady and crouched to look at her.
Minea gulped.
“Can you guarantee my protection from her and you?”
“Sure. Names.”
Gilindria was about to explode at this, when Thorn winked at her as Minea readily forfeited the names of her contacts. Then Tyler looked to where Bianca and her mother were glaring daggers of utter hatred at the woman on the floor. Minea was let from the net with a sigh of relief.
“Thank you Lord. I am free to go?”
HE looked at her confused.
“Free to go? You didn’t ask for that. All you asked for was protection from me and Gilindria. You have that. WE won’t touch you.”
Minea blinked before a smile of satisfaction spread across Gilindria’s face.
“You wily bastard. That’s a pirate trick!”
Tyler laughed as the enraged mother and daughter duo dove upon the now screaming in despair woman with the rest of the crowd of gawkers.
“Wanna screw someone over, I’m you guy. HA! Works every time.”
Minea was taken by the mob many times before her violated body was thrown out the window as she screamed in agony and misery. Bianca and her mother came over with fulfilled smiles on their faces. Tyler smiled.
“Nice to see ya got tricks.”
The daughter’s smile became more....dark.
“Momma’s a smith. I’m a warrior. Kinda comes with the territory.”
Her mother nodded sagely.
“I be called Mavis Shatterstone. Thankee kindly Hero. I haven’t had such fun as I did when I shoved me hammer shaft up that vile creature’s spot.”
“Ya better clean that thing.”
She laughed hard as Sheria was getting a hug from Bianca. The daughter smiled.
“So. How long you staying in town?”
Tyler shrugged.
“We’re going to do some raiding in the area, and we’re also looking to hire a helmsmen to teachy us to fly our airship we got off some pirates.”
Bianca raised an eyebrow.
“What type of airship?”
“I think it was called a Birzine? Yeah that sounds right.”
That made her smirk.
“And are YOU the captain?”
“I am. We merely need a pilot.”
Mavis smiled as she realized something as Bianca asked her next question.
“what were you looking to offer for the hire?”
Tyler looked at Thorn.
“That’s a good question.”
The ranger shrugged.
“Would they join the party?”
“I WAS going to ask them to. They do they get a bigger share of the loot an all so better incentive.”
“That’s more then fair actually.”
Tyler looked at the black skinned girl.
“Upfront would be 250 dragoons and a share of any loot they help earn with their own two hands. Follow?”
Bianca nodded.
“I do. and that be most fair. Reason I ask is I can fly a Birzine due to my hiring as a defender on a merchant vessel. It was a birzine and the captain taught me everything she knew about how it worked.”
Tyler smiled widely.
“Are you also a smith?”
“Apprentice, but yes. I am also a highly proficient warhammer user and decent shot with a bow.”
“How are you with skills?”
“I have the skills of smith, smelt, field smith, field smelt, hammershot, triple shot, coal dance that makes my skin blend in with my surroundings for 60 seconds as it’s an ability tied to my race. I’m of the Asfisians that live in the great desert across the great sea.”
Tyler looked her over for real now, as he sought to place her in their dynamic. Bianca was as tall as Thorn with coal colored skin that seemed to glisten like jet. Her hair was a strikingly contrasting gold that added an air of refined elegance to her rugged appearance. Her eyes were the color of rubies and sparkled with a flaming tease he liked. Her arms, legs, and stomach were well muscled from her harsh lifestyle and career choice and her bust was large enough to balloon the thin gown she wore in place her his sweatshirt. The top of the smoky grey gown was cut around her middle to let her flat stomach be seen and the skirt was tied around her waist with no connection to her top and it fell to her knees. On her feet were a pair of sandals he knew would ensure surefootedness on the treacherous stairs they lived around. Tyler smiled.
“Since you’re also a smith, Bianca, 275 upfront.”
The girl smirked.
“300 and I get to cuddle the cutie tonight.”
Sheria giggled.
“I got Rosi tonight! But tomorrow sure!”
Tyler passed the coins over from his own pouch.
“Welcome to the shitshow, Bianca. I’m head bullshitter.”
That got a laugh as Mavis hugged her girl hard.
“Make em sweat, Bianca.”
“I will Momma.”
Tyler smiled and looked to Thorn.
“Alright. We got a new girl. Let’s get her outfitted for the road and sell the rest of our junk before we show her the ship.”
They nodded as Gilindria spoke up now.
“Do you have an idea on how long you will stay in Dragil?”
Tyler shrugged.
“Not really. We’ll be here a few days at least though.”
“When you seek to depart, I wish you attend me.”
“Sure. Alright. Come on.”
The party walked out with their new member to head to mavis’ smithy for the selling and reoutfitting of Bianca. Sheria was humming as she held the coal skinned girl’s hand while they walked, and Thorn smirked.
“It seems little Sheria has a new favorite.”
Tyler chuckled at that.
“looks like it. Atta Sparkle.”
Bianca smirked.
“My nickname for her is Sparkles.”
“It fits. Hey Sparkles.”
Sheria squealed.
“Heeey! No! That’s HIS name!”
The friends laughed at her offended tone. Sheria just humphed as she climbed up onto his shoulder.
“Meanie. Only big brother gets to call me that!”
They smiled at the cute as Tyler hugged the blonde.
“Love you too, Sheria.”
She blushed with embarrassment and smiled too. Bianca chuckled as they walked along the street.
“You two are so cute together. I’m kinda jealous.”
Winter smiled fondly as the tall Hero tickled the giggling girl.
“They’re always like that. Should see them when they’re resting. Sheria will climb up and use him for a mattress. It’s adorable.”
The friends asiled as they walked into the smithy with Mavis. The woman smiled as she took her spot behind the counter.
“Okay. Now where were we?”
Tyler placed the twin broadswords on the counter.
“Looking to get these repurposed into chainmail.”
She nodded.
“I see. There be enough material here for three full shirts.”
“One for me, one for Bianca, and one for Sheria.”
Thorn and winter nodded.
“They need it most.”
The mother looked at the smiling blonde.
“I’ll have me girl get your measurements, little miss.”
“Yay! Cuddles!”
Tyler busted up laughing at her cheer.
“Sheria sure knows how to make a claim!”
That got a chuckle as the rest of their sale weapons and armor were laid out. Mavis nodded.
“The cost for the shirts be 25k. These I can take for 15k.”
Tyler looked at the girls.
Thorn nodded.
“Would be a wise move.”
Tyler paid the 10k dragoons from his own pouch before looking around with the party. Mavis smirked.
“I got your measurements Tyler. An ability.”
“It odd I’m kinda disappointed?”
That got a snort.
“Yer decent, make no mistake, but only a woman’s touch can excite me.”
“I see standards run in the family.”
She busted up laughing at that one.
“I like that I’m keeping it.”
Tyler chuckled as he looked at a fresh whetstone. Then he took his blade out to look the edge over.
“Yeesh. This damn thing’s dull. Yup. I need to pay attention.”
Thorn smirked.
“I can teach you how to use a whetstone.”
“Thanks Thorn. I got it though.”
The Hero pulled his stone from a pocket and began running it along the blade with a slow rasp of stone on steel as Mavis took orders from the rest of the party. Tyler smiled as he worked the blades over until he was happy with the edge and passed them to Thorn for examination The ranger nodded approvingly.
“Impressive rookie. That edge will go right through paper.”
“Me plan. My style is made to negate armor as a rule.”
Happy with his blades he sheathed them over his back as he spotted a large greatsword made from a black material and it seemed to draw him towards it. mavis smirked as she saw the object of his attention.
“That one has a challenge attached to it. if you can wield the blade for ten seconds and it NOT drive you insane, it be yours to take. if you CAN’T, the next purchase be double.”
“Sounds like fun. I kinda wanna take a crack at a new toy.”
Thorn sighed as he walked over to the 6 foot greatsword.
“You lose I’m charging you.”
Tyler took the blade down and held the straight edged blade outright before he felt his mind get dragged INSIDE the weapon. As soon as he felt the tug, he smirked.
“Oh you think you can control me?”
The warrior closed his eyes and focused on the tugging feeling before gritting his teeth and grabbing onto it.
“You. Will. Bow. TO ME!”
He yanked on the tugging feeling with all his mental might and tore out a large black horned creature from the depths of the blade. The thing cackled as it looked upon the boy with slitted eyes.
“Impressive, Hero. You think to dominate ME?”
“Your ass is MINE.”
The boy again threw his entire mental strength at the thing and it shattered outright with a scream of agony. Then he was blinking open his eyes to find himself still holding the massive blade outright with Thorn looking at him curiously.
“So. what was inside it?”
Tyler looked at the now deep purple blade.
“Best guess? a demon of sloth.”
Winter held her now glowing hand up.
“Close. More a demon of languish. It saps the will of the wielder into the blade to feed it. And yes it’s dead.”
Mavis sighed.
“You win Tyler. That blade be yours.”
“Thanks Mavis. Kinda love how this thing feels.”
Tyler took the scabbard down and sheathed the hulking battleblade on his back just above the demon longsword as Thorn smirked.
“we are NOT hitting the giantkin until you prove to me you can use that.”
“Sure. I think we can hit a dungeon then.”
“There’s an undead tomb not too far from here.”
“That works.”
Mavis smirked.
“The shirts be ready by morn.”
“Send a runner when they are. Hey, Bianca. You got gear?”
The red eyed girl smirked as she pulled a two handed warhammer from her back. The thing being a deep blue with a golden handle and a vicious spike growing out of one head with another, smaller spike topping it.
“I’m good. My pack is too.”
Tyler looked at Thorn.
“We’ll grab Sparkles a comb and hit the undead. I want ONE actual raid a day at the least. messes aside.”
They nodded at that and Sheria squealed.
“Yay! More spoiling!”
“On second thought-”
They laughed at Sheria’s 180 from smug cheer to horrified remorse. Tyler ruffled her golden lockes fondly.
They walked out as Mavis went to her workshop to get to work. The party grabbed a good comb for Sheria at the shop for 75 dragoons before they followed Thorn to the undead dungeon. Winter smiling widely as they went.
“I like fighting undead as every kill made is offered to Tolas.”
Tyler patted her snow white hair fondly.
“We’ll kill lots of them then.”
Bianca tilted her head.
“Where’s your airship?”
“Up at the airport. We’ll do the raid before we head up to her. We can split loot aboard and see about getting her airworthy.”
“She took damage when you got her?”
He shrugged.
“no clue if she did. Which was why we went to find a pilot. We don’t know the first thing about airships, and so have no idea if the pirates sabotaged her. Plus, I want her reoutfitted to be both a sky raider to hunt pirates, and be a ground raider too. Say we want to visit a small village that does NOT have an airport, we can put her down and do some raiding.”
“Oh I get it. Those types of ships are fun. And exactly what the birzine was designed for. I’ll take a look at her and see what they did to her.”
“Thanks Bianca. And we’ll learn what we can too.”
“I would expect nothing less.”
The friends walked to the city gate where they met Tyler’s team led by Helan. The blonde therapist confronted him.
“And where do you think YOU’RE going?”
“We’re hitting...what’s the place called?”
Thorn smiled.
“It’s called Thordin’s Grave.”
The team shuddered at the name and Tyler smirked.
“I’m liking this already. Come on.”
Tyler went to walk away when Michelle grab bed his arm.
“People die down there every day! I cannot let you go down there!”
“Bitch please. I’m going. Feel free to follow us if you dare, butta....we ain’t rescuin you this time.”
The party walked off whistling as his team were left shuddering at the memory of the LAST time they followed him into a dungeon. The friends walked along the oddly flat grounded roadway as Bianca asked the question.
“Who are they? They’ve been causing problems for most everyone in some manner since they arrived on that merchant train.”
Tyler told her the story of his summoning as they approached the large crypt looking staircase that was the entrance to the dungeon. Bianca rubbed her head as she heard the tale.
“Oh my head. Okay. I’ll just go back to ignoring them.”
The party walked inside as another party tiredly walked back out. Tyler smirked.
“How’s the bone monkeys?”
The leader smiled.
“Angry. There’s a full moon tonight so the undead are stronger then usual.”
“Sounds like fun. Thanks.”
Tyler walked into the rather wide hallway with Bianca between him and Thorn with Sheria and Winter behind the ranger. Tyler smirked as they walked along the oddly bright stone corridor.
“This is more like it.”
That got a laugh as a sound of rattling appeared from ahead with the sound of piteous sobbing. Tyler chuckled as he pulled the greatsword from his back. Thorn frowned.
“If you get us killed cause a that blade I’mma beat yo ass.”
Tyler took the two handed blade and led them around a corner to see a group of 6 foot tall skeletons with rusted swords and shields stabbing at a woman curled up on the floor in the fetal position sobbing as the evil creatures tormented her. Tyler smirked.
“A weeping ghost. Yeah that won’t work on us.”
Winter hefted her staff.
“I see you know undead as well. Impressive.”
“There’s a local folklore tale about the weeping ghosts I’ll tell ya about later.”
Tyler took a stance as the first of the skeletons noticed them and rattled an alarm to the rest. The group of 25 skeletons rushed them with a sound of mass maracas in an earthquake. Tyler planted his feet and swung the blade in a wide arc as the things reached him, and scythed through ten of them in that single stroke before swinging the blade up over his shoulder and continuing the sweeping attack to cut the next ten in half with the follow through attack. Bianca smirked as she swung her hammer over her shoulder to shatter a single skeleton.
“You’re a scary greatsworder.”
Tyler chuckled as Thorn used her lance to split the skull of one skeleton before Winter got to cast a spell.
“Holy cold.”
The last three skeletons were frozen solid before shattering into dust under the flash freeze. Tyler then looked to the still sobbing woman.
“I got it.”
HE passed the greatsword to Bianca and pulled his dagger before walking over to the sobbing lady. The lady didn’t acknowledge him until he got close.
“Hey. You good?”
The lady lunged at him with an evil cackle and wielding a long flame like dagger. Her eyes were black pits and her mouth was dripping blood from crooked fangs as she tried to bite his neck. Only for the extremely unimpressed hero to stab the creature in the chest to pierce her heart. The result was the woman shrieking in agony before exploding into dust. Tyler chuckled.
“I think that was a form of vampire. Not sure though.”
Winter had a small jar and brush out to collect the dust as she explained.
“Half right actually. That was a blood wraith. They’re like vampires in that they drink blood, but also like ghouls as they use bait tactics like the one you saw to lure in unsuspecting victims. Sadly, they quite common in swampy areas.”
Tyler shrugged as he looked at the dagger the thing had left behind.
“No biggee. They can’t get the drop on me. Are the remains safe to touch?”
“They are. Unlike demons, undead aren’t usually cursed things unless we find them in a tomb.”
Tyler took the dagger and smirked.
“I kinda like this thing.”
Thorn chuckled.
“That’s a fire dagger. Swing it.”
He did and found it catch fire like it WAS fire. That made him chuckle.
“Neat trick. The bones worth anything?”
Winter again played expert.
“They are. But not enough to warrant us carrying them.”
Sheria was tapping two bones together and giggling at the sound they made as Bianca looked at a long femur.
“I think I can use a few of these in handles. If you’re not going to take them, can I grab a few?”
Tyler chuckled.
“Sure. if you need ingredients for your crafts or trade, just let us know your grabbing them so we can better coordinate.”
“Thanks. I’m kinda partial to bone handles.”
“They do make a statement.”
The loot taken, they moved on into the dungeon with Tyler and his greatsword leading the way. Sheria was curious.
“Winter, what’s the dust for?”
The snow priestess smiled.
“It’s valuable to the loot shop. This single jar is worth 3500.”
“How much are the bones worth?”
“Good quality are worth 1500 for 6 full bodies.”
“That’s a lot to carry.”
“It’s mostly rookies that take them. Skeletons are easy to find and kill and are VERY plentiful.”
Tyler chuckled at that. Thorn grimaced.
“If you make ONE pun, I will beat you to death with the leg of the next skeleton we kill.”
“Shove it.”
They chuckled at that as another mass of skeletons rushed them. Tyler swung his greatsword and swept close to half the creatures aside where Bianca smashed her warhammer into two at a time for bone shattering results. Thorn was using her lance to split heads while Winter was helping with her spells. Little Sheria was also getting kills as her shortsword was taking the bases out from under her attackers. The party made rapid progress in the dungeon and left a floor of bones in their wake until they came upon a large door. Tyler smirked as he booted it wide open.
“Knock knock.”
That got a snort from the girls as their fearless leader strode inside. The room lit up with green flamed torches to reveal a rotting corpse sitting on a throne in black armor. Tyler tilted his head.
Winter smirked.
“Wight actually. A breed of draugr. But good guess.”
“Head or heart?”
“Either or. They hate lightning though.”
The thing rumbled at the party and lifted a crossbow of all things. Tyler smirked.
A large arc of electricity exploded out of his blade to slam into the creature as it rose to attack them, only to catch a set of four arrows from Thorn’s bow. Bianca lifted her warhammer,
“Electric Surge!”
A wall of buzzing lightning exploded from the tip of her hammer and engulfed the again screaming creature as Sheria pulled her scroll to assist.
her thunderbolt was TWICE as powerful as Tyler’s had been for some odd reason and Winter smiled as she lifted her glowing staff.
“All things in this world will know true cold: Frigid hell!”
A mass of white exploded from the Snow priestess’ staff to encase the staggered wight before clinging to it’s rotting frame like a staticky blanket. The thing was then frozen solid before crumbling to dust inside it’s armor. Tyler smiled.
“Not bad people. Sparkles gets her own set of thunder spells.”
Winter patted the blonde approvingly.
“She seems to have the lightning affinity for magic. Most impressive.”
Tyler hugged her tightly.
“She’s awesome. We know.”
Sheria was happily blushing at the gushing as Bianca tilted her head.
“I just realized I forgot to ask how loot works in your party, Tyler.”
He smiled as he set Sheria down.
“Half of everything we make gets added to party coin as a rule. Then we split the remainder 5 ways.”
“If I want the same axe as say Thorn?”
“if you cannot reach an agreement, I take for party coin and it’s removed from the equation.”
She nodded at that.
“Harsh, yet understandable. Duties in camp?”
“Winter sets wards. Beyond that? be useful.”
Thorn blinked.
“We haven't slept outside ONCE the entire time we been in his party. That’s kinda cool.”
That got a chuckle as Tyler walked over to the dust pile.
“We been hopping from city to city and cleaning messes INSIDE the city. We’ll get lost in the wilds soon enough, Thorn. Never you worry.”
She laughed at that as Winter pulled another jar and brush.
“Wight dust can be made into a cream to make a lady’s skin glow slightly.”
Tyler smirked.
“I’d like some a that, Winter.”
She snorted.
“And Sheria.”
“Good boy. there be enough here for 8 jars if memory serves.”
Sheria squealed.
“I get to be cuter!”
That made them all laugh as Tyler lifted the plate armor of the wight. Thorn providing insight.
“That’s made from pure blackten. It’s very expensive to produce and extremely strong. It’s exclusively a heavy armor metal however as the rings for chainmail are too brittle for the metal for whatever reason.”
“How much you think we can sell it for?”
“At the exchange? maybe 150k?”
Tyler then lifted the crossbow and peered down it’s sights as Thorn again added her thoughts.
“That’s enchanted with an instant reload spell. it merely takes the same amount of time to reload as say a regular bow. Sadly the crossbow itself is VERY flimsy.”
“Can the enchantment be removed to be applied to another weapon?”
“For a hefty fee. It’s not really worth doing unless you intend to do the enchantment yourself.”
Winter perked up now.
“I can’t do it as enchantments are not part of my training.”
Tyler shrugged.
“If it were that easy. How much can we get for this?”
“Maybe 5k? That’s the most common form of crossbow and the most common form of crossbow enchantment out there.”
Tyler took it along with the armor before looking around for a chest. Winter and Thorn were standing guard with Sheria and Bianca was looking around with him. Tyler found the chest and put it into his pack, making Bianca laugh.
“Of course he’d just take the whole damned thing.”
The friends fought their way out through more skeletons and a few more of the blood wraiths until they were back outside where they encountered Tyler’s team debating whether to go in after him. Tyler walked by whistling with his party, not a scratch on him or his friends headed for the city. Helan balked.
“No way. There is now ay you survived down there!”
Winter merely pulled the wight dust out and their faces went pale.
“They didn’t provide much of a challenge. For US at least.”
Tyler had Sheria on his shoulder as usual and she giggled.
“They were fun!”
“Undead usually are, Sheria. Never know whatchya gonna find in the tombs.”
The friends went to the monster exchange of Dragil where they sold their goods for 225,000 dragoons and bartered 8 jars of the wight cream from the seller for 25k. Sheria was smiling hard as Thorn took one.
“WE ladies will handle her cute up. Got it, Tyler?”
“Yes Thorn.”
“I hate it when you do that. if you want to send the gift, they have the service over there.”
Tyler walked over to the Druala version of the post office where the elven lady behind the counter smirked as he told her the plan.
“You aim high Hero. And play your game well. 1500 dragoons and if you wanna get fancy, an extra 3500 makes the gift appear with a small magic display and the name of the one sending it.”
Tyler paid the 5k and sent a message.
“I’ll see what ELSE I can find, MY Princess.”
The elf laughed at the cocky play.
“You’re good.”
The four jars blinked from view as the transport spell took effect and Tyler said fair well before the party headed for the airship. Thorn laughing as they walked.
“I was expecting you to have Sheria deliver the jars herself when she visits!”
HE snorted.
“Nah. wouldn’t be right to use HER playtime for my own plays. Same with the queen’s key.”
That got an approving nod from the girls as Winter realized something.
“Did. Did you give Sheria the creams JUST to make her prettier for Rose?”
Tyler patted his little sister’s head fondly.
“Sis here’s got a princess cuddler. So, might as well make her look better an she does!”
That got him a loving hug from the blonde as the girls awwww’d at the sweetness.
“I love you big brother.”
HE smiled and snuggled her like a cat.
“Love you too Sheria.”
She sat on his shoulder again as they walked through the airport to Fenrir and were met by Torrent. The elven overseer of the dock they were berthed at. He smiled as the party walked over.
“Have you found your helmsmen?”
Bianca was looking the craft over with a scathingly critical eye as the friends talked.
“We did. Bianca here’s our pilot.”
Torrent looked over as the coal skinned girl had climbed right up onto one of the wings and was walking along it poking at various parts with her warhammer.
“Her ya say? Hmm. I don’t know her face, is she a new helmsmen?”
“I guess. She seems to know what she’s doing.”
Torrent frowned as the agile girl dropped under the wings to hang like a monkey to inspect the rotating rings that kept the craft aloft.
“are you sure she knows what she’s doing, Hero? She’s a dust rat-”
“what the FUCK did you just call me Elfie?”
Now incensed, Bianca swung off the craft to angerly approach the elf with her hammer in evidence. Tyler blinked at her sudden rage.
“Before I skin you alive, Bianca, explain please.”
The coal skinned girl growled her explanation as the elf just looked her confused.
“My people are often mistreated due to our skin color and our eyes. It’s a racial thing that goes back centuries.”
“Oh I get it. Please. Allow me.”
She blinked.
“It’s MY honor-”
“And it is worth FAR more then he is. I do NOT have honor, and so can ACT when YOU can’t.”
That made her smirk.
“Fair enough. I’ll get back to work. She needs a lotta work, but nothing TOO serious thus far.”
“Thanks Bianca.”
The girl hopped back up onto the craft as Tyler confronted the elf, who didn’t even have the decency to be ashamed.
“I expected better from an elf. I’d have expected that kinda line from a human. NOT one of the eldritch kin. Apologize.”
The elf blinked at the Hero’s disappointed tone, and his tipped ears twitched.
“why would I apologize to a mere desert rat?”
Thorn smirked.
“And how would YOU like it if I were to call you knife ear?”
The elf glared at her in an offended huff now.
“I am an elf. SHE is a human.”
“well this human is about to throw you off the fucking dock. Apologize, MEAN IT, or I will do just that.”
Torrent glared at the Hero.
“How DARE you? Get off my dock. And take that piece of shit with you.”
“Oh you wanna go there? An elf with a superiority complex. Pff. How cliche.”
Tyler spotted a guard and blew a sharp whistle. The armored man came right over.
“Lord Hero?”
“This elf here thinks insulting my friend based on her skin color to my face is a good idea.”
The man looked to see Bianca hanging under the craft looking inside a compartment.
“IS she not the one you rescued from slavery, Lord hero?”
“She is.”
“I see. Odd how she knows airships so well, but that be the world. Torrent.”
The man turned to face the outraged elf now.
“This is not the first time I have had to speak to you on this matter. Now. You have an audience with the Lady Gilindria per your agreement the LAST time you were reported for your evil remarks. will you go quietly?”
The elf huffed and opened his mouth, only for Winter to lift her staff.
“Elves do not need to speak their spells, this be truth, but we of the Snow can FEEL the magic flowing in others before the spell be loosed. Choose your next action most carefully Torrent.”
The elf stuck his nose in the air and walked off.
“I go out of my way to help you and THIS is you repay me? Siding with a dirty rat?”
“Hey asshole. Thing about rats? They’re a helluva lot tougher an you are.”
Bianca snorted at that.
“HA! Mother would love that one.”
Tyler looked back at the girl to see her swing down from the wing of the craft and dust her hands off.
“What’s the verdict?”
She frowned.
“Her exterior needs a complete refit on the hull. There’s cracks, dents, worn paneling, and shattered clamps everywhere. Her gossier rings are stable even if they haven’t been cleaned in YEARS and are putting out consistent power. That’s impressive. her guns need an overhaul and cleaning but they’re not in that bad a shape. her airducts and stabilizers are in desperate need of replacing along with a large portion of her wiring. That’s just the outside. Haven’t even LOOKED at the inside yet.”
“The outside alone?”
She tilted her head.
“Maybe....500k? All told?”
Tyler winced.
“Yikes. Okay. Let’s get the total repair bill set before we decide on just WHAT needs it the most.”
They nodded and boarded the gently hovering craft. Bianca nodded as she looked at the torn seats, battered woodwork, paneling, and damaged rug.
“Yeah. This isn’t going to be cheap. But I am loving the potential so far. I’ll poke around while you all divvy the loot. I trust you to NOT jip me so I’ll let you divvy my share up.”
Winter smiled.
“I’ll hold your share myself, Bianca.”
“Thanks Winter. I’ll take a look at the cockpit. See what the controls look like.”
Tyler took the chest out and added the day’s loot to the pile.
“Okay, Dragoons we got 654,329. we got that, this dagger I REALLY want, some skills, an a scroll. Coin first.”
Tyler did the math on a special tool on the captain’s desk in the main room of the craft.
“654,329 divided by two is 327,164 with one extra coin left over. That extra coin gets added to party. So that leaves us 327,164 to split five ways. Actually, that extra coin gets added to the split for an even split. As that divided by five is 65,433 per.”
They nodded and took shares with Winter putting Bianca’s aside. Tyler did the math now.
“Right now we have 850,789 in party coin. I alone have 380,795 dragoons to add to the party coin it need be. So we got over a million to repair our ship.”
Thorn crossed her arms.
“You’re the one that forfeits loot in a tight spot?”
“I am. I don’t really care about wealth as I am used to far worse. So in a pinch I can make due.”
The ranger nodded.
“I was wondering about that but the moment never came to ask.”
“You got a question feel free to ask, Thorn.”
She smiled.
“I’ll remember that. Okay. We’ll divvy up and see what the total bill is for repairs ALONE.”
“Worst case we repair as we go. Fix what needs it the most now and go from there.”
“wise, but consult Bianca, as she’s the only one that knows what the hell she’s talking about.”
“Fair. Alright. That dagger.”
Tyler lifted it and turned the flame shaped blade to and fro as Thorn smirked.
“I had my eye on that myself.”
“Flip a coin?”
She laughed at that one.
“Okay. I like that. So if I am STILL not happy you add it to party coin.”
“That was the plan. if it’s a threeway we spin the dagger and whoever it lands on gets it.”
“Again, odd but fair. I was testing you. Take it.”
Tyler flipped the thing smiling.
“Thanks Thorn.”
He put the thing into his belt as Sheria lifted one of the skills from the pile.
“Unseen Shadow. Reduces the detection of the holder by 25%. Can I have this one?”
Winter smiled.
“That would make her next to unnoticeable by an enemy.”
Tyler nodded.
“Less eyes on the cute the better. She can play sneak attack in a pinch too.”
She added the skill as Bianca came back into the room with a list of repairs. Winter passed her share over.
“Thanks Snow angel. Okay. The interior’s taken a beating, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. The cockpit needs a complete rewire though, and that’s a grounded repair. We’ll looking at 750,000 dragoons all told for the repairs. NOT including the upgrades this girl desperately needs.”
Tyler took the lengthy list frowning.
“Can we repair as we go?”
“Not with what they did to this thing, Tyler. The upgrades are for things like landing gear and more efficient engines. If we try the staggered pace, the ship WILL fall apart.”
“750k for the repairs alone. The upgrades?”
“A further 350k.”
Tyler nodded.
“Okay. Let’s get our home up to par. 750k from party coin, and 350k from my own purse. Who do we talk to?”
Bianca smiled.
“we’ll finish up and I’ll take you to him. Guy’s an asshole, but he knows airships.”
“Sounds about right.”
Tyler looked at the scroll now.
“A scroll fo hate?”
Winter blinked,
“Put that down. CAREFULLY.”
Tyler set the scroll down like it was a live hand grenade and Winter took the thing with HUGE blue eyes.
“That thing is evil. It’s a summon ingredient for a demon of hatred. They drop from time to time as a demon’s bait so to speak. If you wave it around thoughtlessly, Tyler, the hatred contained inside that thing escapes and summons a spirit of hate to attack you. Unlike demons, spirits inhabit our world alongside us. Mostly unseen or felt until you reach out to them. These scrolls are made from trapping such a hate spirit into parchment. I’ll have to visit Home to properly dispose of it.”
Tyler nodded at that one.
“Alright. scary. I see how demons get in so easily. Some idiot uses that without really knowing WHAT it is and bam. New demon in the world.”
The snow priestess nodded gravely as she cast a barrier spell upon the scroll to secure it. Bianca lifted one of the last two skills.
“Hmm. Great smash. A two handed skill that adds an Area of effect to a slam onto the ground. I can use that with me hammer.”
Tyler nodded.
“That fits the best. Last is called Sear.”
Winter smiled.
“It merely adds a small flame touch to a single stroke.”
Tyler passed it to Sheria.
“You need a weapon skill, Sparkles.”
She smiled widely at that.
“I can help more! yay!”
“atta girl. Okay. Let’s go see Bianca’s contact.”
The friends left the craft through a lowered ramp on the side of the craft where Tyler’s team were openly gaping at the black painted craft. Michelle recovering first to question the boy.
“Tyler. Where the hell did you get a plane?”
Tyler smiled as he looked at the battered airship.
“Her? that’s Fenrir. we got her off a group of pirates that came to pay a visit during our trip here from dragel. So we’re fixing her up. Mean looking thing ain’t she?”
“Why thank you!”
The friends busted up laughing as Bianca stole the complement. Tyler smiling the widest.
“Arrogant narcissism. Suddenly i like you a lot more.”
Michelle blinked.
“Who are you?”
Tyler chuckled.
“Our pilot, Bianca. We rescued her from that bastard’s manor when we tore that slave ring apart.”
“Uh-huh. And HOW are you going to fix that plane?”
“Bianca’s got an in, so we’re going to see em.”
“Riiight. And HOW much will it cost?”
“All told? I’m thinking 1,150,000?”
Bianca looked back at the list herself.
“Give or take a 100k. That sounds about right. My guy’s an asshole, but fair.”
Tyler nodded.
“Plus if it takes more an one day, we can work out a deal as we’ll be raiding hard tomorrow.”
“Good. He’ll honor any deal you make to the letter so long as you do the same.”
“I like this guy already. Come on. We do this quick enough we’ll have time for another raid before dinner.”
That got a laugh as the friends walked off, leaving his team utterly stunned at the number of dragoons they were about to throw. Tyler was looking the fire dagger over as Bianca led the way and chuckled.
“Some odd reason this thing is really fun to look at.”
Winter blinked.
“Oh dear. Tyler, may I see the dagger please?”
He passed it over and she placed it under the crystal on her staff. The thing glowed hard and she nodded.
The dagger glowed before the glow shattered and she passed it back.
“It was cursed with obsession. It basically makes you addicted to looking at it to the point you even put it above food.”
Tyler chuckled as he found the thing still burned when swung.
“That’s not fair.”
They laughed at that as Bianca led them to a lift on the northern side of the airport and down it. Sheria was sitting on his shoulder as was her usual as the friends were led to a junkyard beyond the lift. Bianca walking through the wreckage of dozens of airships of varying sizes and shapes to where a hulking upturned hull sat with sparks flying from a side as a mountain of a coal skinned man was using a fire spell to cut away a piece of the metal hull in front of him. Tyler smirked as he saw the setup.
“Scrapper. Helluva hookup.”
Bianca walked over as the man put the enchanted tool down and lifted his helmet.
“Oh fuck me. What the hell do you want?”
“Shove it up your ass old man. I got a job for ya.”
The man then spotted the group of friends standing nearby. Then he locked eyes with Tyler.
“You must be that ‘Hero’ that tore the city a new asshole. Heh. They don’t make heroes like they used to.”
“Thanks for the complement. I am FAR better.”
Tyler’s cocky reply made the 7 foot tall man raise an eyebrow.
“Is that fire I detect? Surely not.”
The Hero shrugged.
“I’m in a good mood right now. Butta, if you wanna see fire.”
The warrior flipped his switch and smirked at the man as his eyes turned to ice.
“Piss me off. See what happens.”
The man busted up laughing at that one. Then he chuckled as Tyler flipped back to cheery arrogance.
“I have not seen fire that dark and hot in many a year, lad. Not since i looked that rage demon in the eye back in me wild years. HA. Okay, Bica, what’s this job?”
“Call me that and I’ll hit you so hard with this hammer you’ll be nothing but a smear.”
“YEs Bianca.”
She shuddered! The man smirked.
“Oh he got YOU figured out Bica. You. Hero. what be your name?”
“I’m Tyler. Yes I know it sucks.”
“It does. I’m Marvin Ship’s master. So. what the hell you need a mechanic for?”
Bianca passed the repair list over.
“They got a birzine off a pirate crew old man. She’s in bad shape and they want her airworthy.”
That made him lift an eyebrow.
“A Birzine ya say. A rare breed. I’d need to see her with me own eyes to get an idea of the job. Who be captain?”
Tyler smirked.
“That’s me. Bianca’s pilot.”
Marvin nodded.
“None better fer manning the helm. Alright lad. let’s see what the hell they did to the poor girl.”
Sheria took her seat on Tyler’s shoulder as they rode on the lift again and Marvin blinked.
“Ain’t you a bit young for fatherin?”
Tyler hugged the blonde cutie.
“we rescued her from a bandit camp day after I was summoned, Marvin. Been my sister ever since.”
The big man smiled as sheria giggled.
“She a cutie an no mistake. Yer training I hope.”
“Oh we ALL are. and she’s learnin well.”
winter smiled.
“Sheria’s part of our team. And has great potential.”
Thorn added her own two cents.
“She’s getting there. Can’t wait to see how she’ll turn out though.”
The blonde was pressing her face into Tyler’s chest in embarrassment as her friends praised her. Bianca smiled fondly.
“She grows on ya too.”
Marvin smiled.
“Can I get a hug?”
Sheria hopped right in and the big man laughed.
“wow. You’re a warm one!”
The girl was now awkwardly shuffling her feet as Marvin set her down and Tyler got a good look at him. He was a mountain of a coal skinned man with blood red eyes and the same blonde hair as Bianca. His arms were massively muscled from days breaking airships and their hides while his outfit was a mere pair of overalls covered in ship’s grease. Sheria retook her seat and they left the lift to return to the plane where Marvin blinked at the state of it.
“Oh you poor girl. Those bastards treated you like a mere corner whore!”
Tyler blinked as the man hopped atop her wing with an agility that was a little scary for such a large man. The man walked long the folded wings of the craft before looking at her spine before hopping down to talk with the Hero.
“kid that girl is hurt bad. what’s yer budget for repairs?”
“Right off the bat we’re prepared to pay 1,150,000.”
He nodded.
“You care about your craft. Good. When do you need her by?”
“We got nowhere else to be Marvin.”
“Again. Good answer. This isn’t going to be cheap lad nor fast lad. I can get her back into shape, but to do so it would cost 2 mill flat.”
Tyler nodded.
“I feared as much. Then we can give you 1,150,000 right now, and get you the rest over the next....we’ll say three days.”
Thorn did a little number crunching in her head.
“That’s doable. With the way YOU raid? very doable.”
Marvin crossed his arms now.
“How good be your word?”
Tyler smiled.
“if we can’t come up with the money, craft’s yours.”
That made him blink.
“I like the way you think Tyler. And you’ve made your point. Three days and I work the entire time?”
“I’d prefer it to be honest. we’ll get the money. period. So I’d like to have SOME progress made on both ends.”
The mechanic nodded.
“A fair request. Okay. So when can the first deposit be made?”
“Got the pouch right here. we’re going on another riad before dinner and we’ll make a second deposit as well.”
“I see you work hard. Good on ya.”
Marvin reached into a pocket to pull a scroll from it with a magic pen. He drew up the work order and payment for the work before passing it to the Hero. Tyler looked it over closely, getting an approving nod from the man before signing it and passing both it and the first payment over. Marvin nodded.
“I’ll get her off her rings now while you all get to work.”
“Thanks Marvin.”
“Thank me when the job’s done.”
“Ha! Agreed.”
Tyler walked away as Marvin flew the now limping craft to his yard. Bianca smiled as he did so.
“Marvin’s the best airship repairmen period. if he can’t fix it, NO ONE can.”
The warrior nodded.
“Alright then. Thorn. One more dungeon raid.”
She nodded.
“Our honor is on the line. We’ll hit Garvin’s Nest. It’s a orc dungeon known for large numbers of creatures and hefty payouts.”
Tyler smirked.
“Now we get serious. he said two mill. I want us to have 3 by the end of day two. We’re going at MY pace now. We’re doing TWO raids before dinner.”
Thorn smirked.
“Challenge accepted.”
Sheria gulped and Tyler smirked at her.
“Like I said. work hard.”
She nodded with huge blue eyes. Tyler pulled the map of the city from his bag and looked at it.
“Hmm. Slavery rings and smuggler routes are usually separate entities. Plus I’m sure a few dens slipped through the cracks. Lookee here. Got one.”
Thorn looked and smi8rked.
“And it’s on our way.”
“Yup. Bianca. Pop this.”
Tyler tossed her a vitality potion and he gave one to Sheria.
“You two need a refresh most.”
They nodded and drank the energy potions before they left the lift headed for the suspected smuggler den. Sheria was walking on her own legs as they approached another large storm drain. Tyler noted the state of the water flowing out of it and Winter nodded.
“I’ll purify it later.”
“Why can’t you just leave us alone?”
A tired man in a silken robe walked forward from the locked storm drain. he tossed a large pouch to the hero.
“250k. Now go away.”
“Thanks! We’re on our way!”
Tyler lifted his license up and nodded.
“Winter. lock it down.”
She froze the water that was half a foot deep solid and the man was screaming as he was trapped. Tyler smirked.
“Yorka. wanted alive for get this: 250k.”
Thorn smirked.
“we’re just getting started.”
Tyler borrowed Bianca’s warhammer and smashed the lock to the den before opening it. Winter froze the man inside a block of ice that would NOT kill him and the party got to searching the den. And killing every man that had been trapped inside the ice as a rule. Sheria learning more vital points to hit on a human body as well before they found the man’s office. Tyler booted it off the hinges and the friends got to searching the place.
“Got a manifest!”
“Got a contact list!”
“Got suppliers!”
“Got the chest!”
“Teehee! Got a hidden pocket!”
Tyler walked over to Sheria’s giggle and sure enough. The blonde cutie had found a hidden vault inside the office with a second chest that made Thorn raise an eyebrow.
“wow. That’s rare. We found an actual treasure chest. they pop up from time to time when a party is feeling especially lucky. we won’t find one for another few months now though.”
Tyler shrugged as he stacked the two chests atop one another for transport.
“More dragoons the better.”
The room was stripped bare and the friends checked the bounties of every dead man along the way, coming up with two more hits. One worth 50k and another worth 75k. Tyler made them into a pile with the big fish and carried it all up the steps to the keep. Thorn getting nervous as he did so.
“Umm. we CAN carry one of them too ya know.”
He chuckled as they walked up the steps.
“I know. This is how I get stronger.”
“You’re insane.”
Sheria was ALSO in her usual seat and loving the backboard she got to lean against as they walked into the keep where Gilindria was dismissing a runner. The blonde duchess was taken aback when Tyler dropped the three bounties before her.
“Not another one.”
“nah. Bounties this time. Plus a raided smuggler den that slipped through the cracks.”
She smiled with relief.
“Thank the flame. The usual then. the documents retrieved?”
He passed them over and she nodded.
“I know a few of these nobles. eh. More of the same. The bounties?”
“That pricksicle is Yorkin. The other two are small fry.”
“Pricksicle? I love that I’m keeping it. Yorkin has a bounty alive. Does he live?”
Winter tapped the block of ice and it shattered; dumping the now freezing man on the floor.
“He does. Barely.”
That got a chuckle as payment was passed.
“There is no collection office in Dragil as i prefer seeing these bastards fear with my own eyes. Your total is 375,000. And I see you have loot to divvy. As long as you don’t go snooping again, my chamber is open to you.”
“Thanks Gilindria.”
The friends moved to the chamber where winter put her wards up as Tyler put the chests on the floor. He then added up the total.
“Altogether here we have 1,543,239 million dragoons, 10 skills, 6 spells, a longsword, a round shield, and two necklaces. Coin first.”
The warrior borrowed a magic calculator from Gilindria’s desk.
“Okay. 1,543,239 divided by two is 771,619 with one extra coin to us to split to keep the math simple. Now. 771,620 divided by five is 154,324 per.”
They took shares and Tyler smiled.
“We’ll give the deposit after the LAST raid of the day.”
Thorn nodded.
“Plus an extra mill to account for the unexpected.”
“I was shooting for two, but fair. Okay. This longsword.”
Tyler lifted the jet black blade and did a swing with it.
“I like how it feels.”
Thorn smiled.
“It’s made from jet actually. Like the actual gem. It’s an enchanted blade that is rival in strength to say...that grey steel as a breastplate. And to put it another way? The cost for such a weapon in dragoons alone is 2,500,000 with 14 jets the size of grapefruit.”
Tyler smiled.
“I’ll take it as a backup for when my demon blade breaks.”
They nodded as Bianca lifted the four foot round shield that was made from a golden metal.
“Is this brass?”
Winter blinked.
“That’s made from gilted stone. Very interesting.”
Tyler took the thing and tilted his head.
“Fool’s gold? Thorn?”
The ranger explained.
“It’s merely a decorative shield as the metal is FAR too weak to deflect a blow. That said if we sell it to Mavis we can maybe get 75k for the metal in it.”
Bianca frowned.
“I’d say closer to 45k Thorn. That metal’s very poorly forged and even more shoddily constructed. still, the metal makes for good fittings.”
Tyler placed the shield aside for selling and took one of the two necklaces. The pendant was a white stone that made him blink.
“Oh shit. we still have that corundum to work.”
Winter, Thorn AND Sheria blinked.
The four friends just looked at each other in shock as Bianca frowned.
Tyler pulled the two foot stone from his bag and passed it over.
“Tell me what you see in there.”
The smith needed only a single look.
“Oh my gods. there’s easily 15 stones there! How the hell did you forget you had that? As is it’s worth 150k! Each stone refined? You’re looking at 500 easy! I’ll do it in that fire over there.”
“Use a catch bin, Bianca. That stone is also a decent metal.”
“Noted. Do you hit iron?”
“I understand very little.”
“I’ll be happy to teach you, Tyler.”
“Thanks Bianca. was gonna ask you, but never got around to it.”
The smith put the rock into the fire with a large basin underneath.
Tyler watched as the stone glowed a deep black before melting into a block of usable copper colored metal with no fewer then 17 stones of varying sizes being fished from the bin. Tyler whistled.
“5 rubies, 6 sapphires, 3 star sapphires and 3 star rubies. Scary.”
Bianca took the precious stones and placed them into a protective velvet wrapping before looking the metal over.
“This metal is called Braclite. And is a substitute for steel in forging as the metals are nearly identical in strength, ease of working, and even heating. Interesting. The stones we can sell to the local gem worker for 500k. I’d suggest we do so BEFORE we go raiding.”
Tyler nodded smiling.
“Sure. I cannot believe we forgot about them. Anything we make from them gets added to the payment. Okay?”
The friends nodded sheepishly as the hero took up the white stone necklace again.
“I know this stone. It’s called Mica. Not sure if it’s worth anything here.”
Winter explained.
“It actually boosts ice based magics. Mica is a sacred stone to Tolas as is marble, diamond, and other pure stones of that ilk. I’ll claim it.”
Tyler passed it over.
“sure. Okay. That last necklace is made from sterling silver and has a rather nice agate pendant.”
Thorn lifted the twinkling green stoned necklace.
“It is pretty, but is merely so.”
Tyler took it and tilted his head as his fingers ran over it.
“It’s not a locket. Sell?”
Sheria perked up.
“Can I have it? I love the color.”
He put it around her neck smiling.
“Just don’t lose it.”
She smiled widely.
“I won’t!”
“We’ll find you a sapphire something. Add some sparkles to your Sparkles.”
She hugged him hard now sporting her fresh bling as Tyler looked at the skills.
“Hmm. Nothing’s jumping out at me. You see anything you like?”
Bianca shrugged.
“Mostly skills for shields or heavy armor. Nothing we really use. hey why DO you stress light armor, Tyler/”
He smiled and stood tall.
“Besides my weapons, do I LOOK like I’m armed/”
She frowned.
“No. You look like a cocky rookie.....oooohhh. I get it you wily bastard.”
Thorn chuckled as he sat back down.
“Tyler likes to surprise people. Scary thing? It works.”
Tyler smiled as he looked at the spells next.
“I like having my true strength be a surprise to any enemy we encounter and give US just that much more of an edge. Oh hello. I got an icebolt, winter.”
The Snow priestess blinked as he passed it over.
“That’s a Snow spell! The ONLY way to obtain it, is to kill the priestess holding it. It’s the very first spell we priestesses learn to cast and as such one of our most cherished and powerful.”
The Hero sighed.
“And since it was found in a smuggler den, we have no way of tracing it.”
Winter nodded sadly.
“My thoughts exactly. I’m more after the poor girl’s staff. as a duty of the Snow priestess is to find the staffs of our fallen sisters and return them Home to be laid with her family.”
He smiled.
“We can go look the den over again if you want to, Winter.”
She placed the spell in his hands.
“I’d sleep the better if we at least TRY.”
“Alright. See anything you can use?”
The party looked at the spells and each took one they wanted before leaving the chamber. Tyler walked up to Gilindira as she was finishing up with the packet of documents they’d handed her.
“I see you have an issue.”
He smiled.
“was there an reference on a Snow priestess staff listed in there?”
She frowned and pulled a document.
“I see. Here. Go.”
Tyler took the paper and passed it to Winter.
“It’s been sold as a decoration to a noble nearby. let’s go get it.”
She smiled widely as they got moving.
“Thank you, Tyler. It means a lot to me.”
He hugged her warmly.
“Sure thing Winter.”
They rode the lift to the noble section of the city and Bianca provided the inside scoop on this particular noble.
“His name is Lord Beais. There’s been rumors about him for years. Like how he murdered his wife to marry their daughter who was the better looking. or how he had a rival noble killed with a hit to better his standing at the court.”
Tyler shrugged.
“Sounds like your average drama to me. well. He has something that doesn’t belong to him, so we’ll see if he’s actually a monster. he is, great. Kill him and get on with our day.”
That got a smirk as the party reached the front gate where a servant that was NOT in chains greeted them.
“who shall I tell >Lord Beais is calling?”
Tyler smiled.
“Tyler the Wolf. He’s got something in there that don’t belong to him.”
The lady gulped.
“I see. Allow me to run.”
“You know. What’s it like in there?”
“I swore an oath, Sir.”
“Ah. the fun way it is!”
Tyler walked inside with his friends right behind him. The servant? She took off running as fast as her legs could carry her. Winter stopped dead as soon as her feet crossed the threshold.
“Tyler. we got a demon in here somewhere.”
“Oh COME on.”
The boy drew his longswords at that.
“Can you tell the-greed.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
The party walked through the grounds of the lavish compound as servants aw the Snow priestess and started running for the front gate. Tyler kicked the front door in with authority, sending an echo that resounded throughout the building. The arrogant boy walked in like he owned the place and the doors slammed shut behind them. Bianca gulped at that as Shera grumbled.
“Not this time you bastard.”
Bianca blinked.
“What do you mean AGAIN?”
The blonde sighed as she drew her shortsword.
“We killed a despair demon like this.”
“What the hell did I sign up for?”
Tyler took in a large breath.
“Hey! I own this place! I kinda like it! How’s it feel knowing I got MORE THEN YOU DO!”
Winter busted up laughing as a low, guttural growl was heard sounding from the upstairs.
“The classic! Taunting a greed demon with MORE wealth. Classic.”
Tyler chuckled.
“I’m good at insulting people. Alright. Step one. Do greeds bring doppels with them?”
Winter shrugged.
“They do. But it’s mainly avarice doppels. They have their own forms.”
“Alright. Hey! Fucks! I got a first class ticket back to hell! Whop wants it?!”
A group of misshapen humanoids with long gangly limbs and sickly yellow skin rose from the floor with a gurgling scream that made Tyler grit his teeth.
“Yeesh. I did not know ugly came in that variety. It’s called a bag! Get one.”
Now enraged the beasts rushed them, only for Tyler to smirk.
“Earthen Slap.”
The ground flipped up to indeed slap the group of twenty in the face, stunning them as winter lifted her staff.
“Hallowed Ground!”
The spell raised an antidemon shield over them as Sheria lifted her shortsword and rushed them.
“Flame touch!”
Thorn was right there with the blonde,
“Double stab!”
Bianca took a spot by Tyler’s side as the Hero lifted his swords.
Then the red eyed pilot slammed her warhammer into the chest of a creature that got too close, spattering it like a popped bubble. And that was that for the fight. Tyler curled his lip at the things.
“Nasty. Winter.”
The Snow priestess snorted.
“They’re worthless. Mere fodder for you and easy offerings to Tolas.”
The bodies glowed white as Winter cast her purify spell and the friends went up the grand staircase up to the third floor. Thorn tilted her head.
“Aren’t you gonna search this place like you did last time?”
Tyler kept his eyes mobile as he explained.
“Not for a greed. Despair demons feed off fear. And so the reasons they get summoned are far more....faceted? is that word? whereas greed demons are straightforward. And since we’re dealing with a noble, best place to figure out just HOW the thing got in is to look inside the vault where the money is kept.”
“Ahhh. Makes sense.”
Tyler walked onto the landing and they were faced by a tall rail thin creature with a black form. Winter blinked.
“Wow. A Shadow of wrath. Rare indeed.”
Tyler smirked.
“Anything special?”
Tyler walked right up to the thing and it vanished into the floor. So he closed his eyes and opened his senses to the area.
“Let’s see. GOTCHYA.”
He flicked the flame dagger into a wall by Sheria’s head and got a screech of pain as the shadow peeled off the wall where Sheria stabbed it with her flaming shortsword.
“That’s what you get for messing with me!”
Tyler laughed as the shadow went poof before leaving a thin clothlike material behind that Winter took.
“Sheria was the obvious target. Ya don’t fuck with me little sister!”
That got a laugh as Winter stored the cloth inside a jar.
“Wrath Shadow silk is VERY sought after for clothing as it’s very comfy, warm, and extremely durable. This much can get us a fresh outfit for Sheria.”
Tyler smiled.
“Sounds good. You know the drill ladies.”
They nodded at that as Bianca tilted her head.
Tyler chuckled.
“I have NO say in Sheria’s outfit choice.”
“Ah. Good.”
They got moving through the large ornate hallway, their footsteps thuding softly on the thick red carpet that gave Tyler an idea.
“Hey. Watch this.”
He spit on the rug and an enraged growl was heard around them. Winter laughed.
“Greed demons covet their possessions like an overprotective with her last cub.”
Tyler smirked.
“I like breaking things.”
That got a laugh as they walked along the hall, now going out of their way to tear the rug to hell on their spiked boots or push things over, just to enrage the demon that much more. And the growls they kept hearing were proof of the gambit proving effective until the growls led them to a large set of extremely intricate doors with full on gold handles. Tyler ignored them and booted the things open with enough force to shatter the gold hinges entirely. Inside was a lavish office with an overweight man standing between them and a large painting of the same man. Tyler chuckled.
“See? Typical.”
The man grinned, and inside his mouth were fangs instead of teeth.
“How amusing. A Hero looking to BE a hero. Tell me. Do you think Casy would think you were a Hero?”
Tyler busted up laughing.
“Dunno. I wonder. How’s it feel being humanities pet bitch?”
The man had a vein bulge on his forehead at that one.
“Like you were your sister’s pet bitch? I know what you did.”
“really? I guess that means ya fucked her. She seems about your size.”
Sheria laughed at the CLEAR war going on behind the demonically possessed man’s eyes. Tyler shrugged.
“I get it. Dignity’s not your strong suit. I mean, THAT guy was able to get you here. So clearly you have never heard of standards. Makes sense. hey, hell shitstain, how’s it feel being pride’s pet?”
That did it. The man screamed an inhuman three toned scream as this most infuriating human drove it into a blinding rage. The thing went to start growing in size, only for Tyler to stab it in the heart as Winter lifted her staff.
“Frigid Purity!”
Thorn added her lance to the impalement.
“Rapid stab!”
Sheria giggled.
And Bianca smirked as her spike on her hammer took the thing in the chest as well. Tyler laughed in the dying thing’s face.
“I got a message for hell. Don’t fuck with the Wolf pack.”
The thing burst into flame as the demon died along with the man it possessed. Then the sound of shattering glass was heard to indicate a slain demon. Tyler sighed.
“Okay now we search the place.”
They laughed as he walked right over to the large painting a piercing whistle was heard outside the window. The Hero poked his head out a window to see a captain of the guard with about thirty men outside with Tyler’s team.
“Hero! what did ya find?”
“Idiot had a greed demon inside him! keep em out till we’re done!”
“Yes sir! Lock it down! You. get word to the Lady that a greed was exorcised.”
Tyler tore the painting off the wall to reveal a large vault behind it. He snorted and set his ear to the knob.
“Huh. Annnnnd boom.”
The thing opened with a creak of the hinges as Bianca looked over from her section of a bookshelf.
“And he’s a safe cracker. Of course he’s a safe cracker. Why wouldn’t he be?”
Tyler walked inside,
“Winter. Got a sacrifice.”
The Snow priestess came in to see a large circle cut into the floor with a woman’s horrifically burned corpse nailed to the center of it.
“That poor soul. She was the bait to bring the beast to our realm and the payment. She was set free when her owner died. I’ll preform her rite at once.”
Tyler noted the lady’s age.
“Found the wife. ten dragoons say the daughter’s in the basement.”
Thorn looked at Bianca.
“Stay close to them. Sheria. Stay with Winter.”
Tyler and Thorn went to investigate the basement with a mass of healing potions as winter froze the tortured body of the sacrifice. The warrior sighed.
“Two for two. Across the board.”
Thorn grimaced.
“And each just as horrific in their own right. I’m starting to fear Druala is a rotting carcass as you once said.”
“Oh it is. No way in hell it isn’t. Two demons in two different cities, plus the great road, plus the trouble with the Mothers? And we’ve only seen TWO cities? Druala is rotting from the inside out. I’m thinking that it’ll have to be OUR party’s task to go to each city and stick our noses into the gutters.”
Thorn nodded grimly at that.
“I agree. The King has his hands full with the waves and monsters so rot can take root. Least when WE get involved it gets done right.”
Tyler pulled his map now.
“we’ll head back to Drula then. Start at the heart and work our way outward.”
“That would be wise. we lose the royal family we lose the country.”
“I’ll get Emberis on alert for just that reason. I think we found a fuse.”
“Agreed again.”
Tyler and Thorn found the basement door he tore off the hinges. The duo walked into the underground room and heard a low whimper.
“Please. No more. Just leave me.”
Tyler looked over to see a beautiful girl locked to a table with various instruments around her naked body.
“Called it.”
He walked over to the blindfolded girl as she whimpered in terror. She had very pale skin and large breasts he wanted to feel but refocused.
“I saw that. bastard.”
“I have no defense here.”
Thorn sighed.
“You ARE just a kid.”
“Okay. Bite me.”
Tyler cut the blindfold from the girl’s head and poured a healing potion into her open mouth and dripped a few drops into her ruined eyes. She glowed a moment before her sparkling grey eyes opened to look at the hero pulling his knife.
“Please sir. Just kill me. Don’t hurt me too. I can’t take it.”
Her voice was tiny and pleading. Tyler smiled kindly.
“How the hell am I gonna get these off you without me knife? I’m Tyler, miss. A Hero.”
She gasped hard at that, and watched in utter shock as he cut the leather straps off her arms and legs. Then helped her off the table while a catgirl ranger placed a plundered cloak on her shoulders.
“A hero? I’m Safe?”
He hugged her.
“You are. The demon and it’s minions are dead.”
She broke down sobbing at this.
“You came. They heard me.”
He stroked her silky black hair in a soothing manner as she sobbed from the relief that her nightmare was indeed over. Then he sighed.
“Come on. My Snow priestess is gonna need to have a look at you.”
The girl sniffed and leaned on his shoulder as she limped from the basement.
“My name is Verica Sir Tyler.”
“Just Tyler, please. This is Thorn.”
Verica smiled.
“Thank you for rescuing me. I owe you everything.”
He chuckled as they walked along the hall.
“You just need to tell Gilindria what the hell happened in here.”
She nodded at that.
“I will.”
Then the girl noticed the damage along the hall.
“was it a tough fight?”
He chuckled.
“Nah. Sorry for the wanton destruction, but we were exploiting a weakness in the demon to make the fight that much easier.”
“I see. Most of the things destroyed are indeed worthless. the only real damage was the rug, but that easily repaired. My father?”
“Uuhhhh. Dunno! If he’s that guy, dead.”
They walked into the room where the dead man was still laid out with none of them having even LOOKED in his direction. Verica spit on the corpse.
“I told you this day would come. FATHER.”
The girl staggered over to fish inside the man’s pocket and pulled a large rod with an insignia of a raven on it out.
“Now I own the estate AND run your precious company. YOUR worst nightmare.”
Tyler placed a hand on her shoulder.
“We can set the thing on fire later. Come on. Winter.”
The snow haired girl sat the exhausted girl on a stool for her healing as Tyler went back into the vault and whistled.
“damn. I feel inadequate now.”
The massive chamber was filled to the brim with dragoons, gems, precious metals, even weapons and armor. Thorn poked her head in and also whistled.
“Damn. That’s impressive.”
Tyler nodded.
“It is. And Verica gets it all. Which is only right.”
The ranger nodded.
“I will admit to being worried about how you’d react to seeing the amount with us owed a debt.”
Tyler blinked.
“Oh yeah. For safety.”
The hero led Thorn over to where Winter was finished with her casting.
“We need a purify as we killed the greed.”
She smiled.
“I was about to say that too.”
The party got a purify spell cast on them before Tyler and Thorn went to search the vault. The summoning ring was gone along with the body. Tyler sighed at that.
“I was hoping Verica could get to say goodbye to her mother before the fade, but I guess her memory of how she was is better then what she would have been.”
Thorn nodded at that sad wisdom.
“My thoughts exactly. winter will take the daughter to the Snow for her last words, and that will be the better send off.”
They found a second desk with chair at the back of the vault hidden behind the mountains of coins. Tyler and his friend looked through the thing and came up with several packets of papers.
“Okay. We got everything from a small slave ring to crooked deals to smuggling to human trafficking. I...hello.”
Tyler pulled a sheet out from the pile.
“Huh. I got an order for a Body transform spell card here, Thorn.”
The ranger came over and looked.
“where? Oh I see it. Incoming. One Body Transform spell card. Sold for 3,500,000 dragoons and delivered to Drula. No address.”
“Makes sense. Okay. party meeting.”
The Hero poked his head out the vault door.
“Everybody inside.”
The now on edge group walked inside the vault and Tyler looked at Verica.
“You owe me a life debt, Verica. As repayment the following discussions did NOT occur. we understand each other?”
She nodded with huge grey eyes.
“I swear on my name and the debt I owe to you.”
“Good. Sorry for the harshness, but we found another thread.”
Tyler placed the king’s scrying mirror on the desk and Winter blinked.
“Oh it’s that serious. a moment.”
She raised an ice wall over the entrance and cast her ward spell before activating the scrying mirror. The King appeared moments later.
“What have you found?”
Tyler held up the document.
“We found another lead on the body spell, Emberis. And that your country is rotting from the inside out.”
He was taken aback.
“Tell me everything.”
Tyler retold the tale of their second demon encounter up till his discussion with Thorn.
“We’re at two for two across the board Emberis. I want your family on high alert as the trail leads to the capital.”
The wise king nodded gravely.
“When you lay it out like you have, Tyler, I fear you’re correct. Durala is indeed rotting. My familhy will be secured until you’re back in the city. At which point I have a request for you in these grave times.”
The Hero nodded.
“The queen, princess, or prince?”
“Can you take all three?”
The party jumped at that request, and Tyler sighed.
“we’d have to start from scratch, but if we have to, we will. Iris. Can she fight/”
“Oh hell yeah. She’s a very powerful fire mage. Spark actually is training to be a knight in the guard and also has potent fire magic. Rose is a healer.”
Thorn interjected.
“Back up. Are you asking us to harbor the royal family, Sire?”
Tyler answered.
“Thorn. We HAVE to. If the rot is as bad as I suspect it to be, then their days are freakin numbered. I will NOT let this happen as it would ruin any chance of us fighting the waves. Like it or not, not even I can refuse this.”
Emberis sighed deeply.
“I could not have said it better myself. How soon can you be in the city?”
“Not soon enough. Our ship needs severe repairs before we get off the ground.”
“At most. Use a disguise and get them to us. Gilindira is clean. and by the time we’re done Dragil will be too.”
“We have a secret airship for these types of situations.”
“Use it. If the royal family crumbles, then we lose our staging ground and get the legs cut out from under the Heroes as a whole.”
Winter sighed.
“Not even Home was safe from this. So it must be.”
Thorn nodded gravely.
“I understand. The waves ALWAYS bring these types of problems. And to be perfectly honest, Sire, Tyler is the best possible person for this type of mission.”
The king nodded.
“why I even considered it to begin with. Tyler.”
“Yes we will train them.”
“I wanted to hear that.”
“And we will keep them safe.”
Emberis deflated from the relief.
“Thank you. Their ship is in the air as we speak and will land by morning.”
“I see you’ve felt the wind too.”
“I am many things, Tyler. A blind ruler is not one of them. when we received word of the despair demon in an orphanage I had the royal knights close ranks. then the trouble with the Snow on top? i had my wife and family leave the palace and take to the sky in our airship. They’ve been flying ever since.”
“Good. And the countermeasures you’re deploying to help us?”
“My hands are tied from having to help with the waves. I am doing what I can however, as my wife has a list of city leaders I can trust with their lives. use them to begin cleaning my country as I lack the power to do myself.”
Tyler nodded.
“Okay. Do we have contact with the ship?”
“You do. Winter, the spell is the same as the one to contact me, but merely say iris’ name. And yes you can do it at the same time as this.”
Winter smiled and did the spell. Soon as she did Iris’ flame haired head appeared as well. Tyler smiled.
“MY queen. looks like you get to run with our nuthouse.”
She smiled.
“Thank you, Tyler, for letting us.”
“I look after my friends, Iris. No thanks required. Now.”
She nodded.
“How serious is your camp?”
“Depends really. when the shit hits the fan? Well. we kicked the front door in on a greed demon on a mere whim. if it calls for it, we do it.”
“I see. Be aware Rose has never seen bloodshed before and Spark has never killed before.”
“we’ll knock em into shape. If Sheria here can do it, so can they.”
That put a proud smile on the parents faces. Iris speaking the words.
“we have made a truly wonderful friend in you Tyler. You are what we preyed for in a Hero.”
“I haven ‘t really DONE anything yet. I need to kill a dragon before I get to that caliber.”
That got a snort from the king.
“Slow down kid. lesser demons are one thing, but challenging a skygod?”
“That’s a tomorrow rampage. I’m no match for them yet. Key word: YET.”
That got a round of laughter from the room before Tyler looked at the queen.
“I hope you all realize your lifestyle of ease and plenty id ended, Iris.”
She nodded.
“I do. And so do they. Spark was already sleeping in the stables in his training to become a knight and Rose loves camping actually.”
“Spark’s weapon of choice?”
“He’s favoring to mace and buckler for the moment. He’s still feeling what his passion lay with.”
Tyler crossed his arms at that.
“Hmm. That’s a pretty solid setup for a boy of his build. I’d personally have given him a one handed war axe to ease the strain on his arm.”
“His man-at-arms said the exact same thing. Spark wants to be certain before switching disciplines.”
“A fair attitude. I hope he’s ready for a crash course in hell. rose too. She’s a healer, correct?”
“Indeed. She’s walking the path of Aurora the White.”
Winter blinked.
“The Healing Dove? Most admirable.”
Tyler waited for the explanation and winter smiled.
“She’s a goddess of healing. Her way is to render aid when it is needed without reservation. The whites are considered to be the kindest people you could ever hope to meet.”
Tyler frowned.
“Are they allowed to kill?”
Winter nodded
“They are as along with the healing, they are the most prolific hunters of undead and demonkin out there. And among the most powerful as well. We of the Snow look to them as kin as Aurora and Tolas are siblings.”
“Nifty family ya got there. Okay. Rose is in the back ranks with winter. Spark is with me. Iris, what you got for fireworks?”
The queen smirked.
“I am a very powerful fire mage under Ignisca the Flamecaller. My best spell is flaming wall. Think a rushing wave of intense fire that burns those it knocks to the ground.”
Tyler nodded.
“Your backup?”
“A cutlass.”
That’s different. I’ll teach you how to dual wield.”
sheria was seen to slump at that and he smiled.
“I haven’t forgotten Sheria.”
She walked over with huge blue eyes.
“Mean it?”
He lifted her up for a hug.
“I promise. Long ass grocery list.”
She hugged her hard.
“Okay. Just don’t forget me.”
“You forgit? You’re MY sister, Sheria. I’d never forget you.”
She sniffed at that and buried her face into his shoulder as he talked.
“Okay. when can you get here?”
Iris tilted her head.
“The ship’s current speed...morning at the latest. Four hours at the earliest.”
“Who’s flying the craft?”
“Spark is. He’s a skilled pilot actually.”
Bianca snorted.
“Yeah. We’ll see.”
Tyler smirked.
“We’ll see if he measures up. he does we got two pilots that can rotate on long flights.”
Bianca sighed.
“Great. babysitting.”
“You get used to it.”
Thorn and Winter blinked.
“And what the hell do you mean by that?”
“Do tell.”
Sheria sighed.
“Big brother. I love you. I really do. But fuck you.”
They ALL looked at the snuggling blonde cutie in shock, then Tyler busted up laughing, and soon the rest of them were too as Sheria just enjoyed her snuggle. The hero looked at the images of the king and queen.
“Sorry in advance if they turn out as fucked up as I am.”
Iris smirked.
“Your fire I don’t mind. everything else? NO.”
“Yes Iris.”
“Okay teach Spark how to do that.”
They had to hold their sides at Emberis’ offended tone as iris spoke. Tyler recovered first.
“Sure. That’ll be fun.”
“Words cannot express just how much I want to load you into a catapult and throw the lever.”
Tyler chuckled at Emberis’ infuriated retort.
“Wanna know something funny? I did that spirit dive at the keep for the kick in the teeth.”
“We nearly had a heart attack you romantic bastard! Valor appeared right there in the freakin throne room! And poor Rose nearly fainted when she gave her your message! well played, but what then hell?”
Tyler smiled.
“I’ll look after her. Spark and Iris too.”
The two smiled at that and the hero nodded.
“Okay. Iris. Land that plane here in four hours. we’ll get back to work on this end. And we ARE going on TWO full raids before the end of the day today. Please prep accordingly.”
She blinked.
“I’ll go warn them you’re a slavedriver.”
“Please do. See ya soon.”
The image of the queen went dark and Emberis sighed.
“I’ll work my angle as well.”
“Word of advice?”
“Go on.”
Tyler smirked.
“If your going up against an opponent you are unsure of their strength, go into it with the mindset of they WILL win, and react accordingly.”
He blinked.
“Go into this expecting to lose.”
“And work to minimize the damage.”
That got a wide smile.
“There is a wisdom in that I want you to teach my children Tyler. And a way to do this I can get behind. we have work to do.”
“Agreed. if we find anything you need to know we’ll use this.”
The thing went dead and Tyler sighed hard before looking to sheria.
“See what happens with the tug of a single thread, Sheria?”
She nodded.
“Now we have the queen, prince and princess traveling with us.”
“AND a mission to undertake.”
“Yep. Okay. Next step.”
Tyler looked to Verica.
“Not a word.”
She nodded.
“Yes Tyler.”
He smirked at that one before looking at the party.
“We’ll have to walk around heads on a swivel now. i can disguise them well enough, but we’ll have to be VERY careful on our travels.”
Thorn grimaced.
“I’ve escorted royalty before, Tyler. Believe me I get it.”
Winter nodded.
“We’ll be careful.”
Bianca shrugged.
“We’ll train em as you said. Once they’re at YOUR level of useful, not a soul can touch em.”
Tyler nodded.
“Exactly. We have three apprentices now. Sheria is still bouncing between us, Spark is my direct, and Rose is yours Winter.”
She nodded.
“Agreed. I can teach her well, but we will need to visit Aurora’s temples for her testing and sect specific lessons.”
“No biggee. Sheria here can also help teach them on how we do things. Right sis?”
She brightened up immensely.
“I’ll do my best!”
“atta Sparkle.”
He then looked at Thorn.
“Let’s get this down before they get here.”
She nodded and the party got back to searching with a will. Thorn discussing the future of the party with the Hero.
“when they get here, are they under new names?”
Tyler was looking through the paperwork they found.
“I’m actually wondering if being openly blatant is better then trying to sneak around. If we’re open, then their enemies would come to US instead of US going to them on their turf.”
“I see the logic there. But if they come to us, we run the risk of being caught in unfavorable ground for a hard battle. Yet the same applies to the other option.”
“We also have a third option.”
She looked at him.
“That is?”
He sighed.
“The people don’t HAVE to like us.”
Thorn blinked.
“Are you saying, when the royals get here, we protect them with-”
“Utter disregard for anyone else in the vicinity? if we get attacked on the street we use our FULL force no matter WHO is around us? yes, yes I am.”
The ranger fell silent as she mulled that option over internally. Tyler put the latest packet down and took a fresh one as Winter came forward.
“I got more manifests on smuggler routes.”
“Thanks Winter. How’s that case looking Sparkles?”
Sheria looked up from her bookshelf.
“Nothing yet, Big brother.”
“Keep at it.”
Thorn looked up now.
“I that scenario, I’d have to walk away, Tyler. I’ve worked far too hard for far too long to throw my reputation away like that.”
He smiled at the dutiful catgirl.
“I understand, Thorn. if it gets to THAT point, we lost this one.”
She deflated from relief.
“I was afraid you’d go off on me for betraying you like that. Is that a last resort option?”
“It is. If they’re confident enough to attack us on the street in sufficient numbers we need our full strength to fight them off, then we’ve lost the kingdom.”
The ranger nodded.
“In that light I agree. I know you don’t consider honor to be of value, but I value mine.”
“I understand Thorn. Not everyone can stomach my lifestyle. And that is perfectly fine. And if you feel you need to step back, then know I’ll have a spot in my party waiting for you if you want back in.”
She walked over and hugged the hero tightly.
“Thank you.”
He smiled.
“Sure Thorn.”
He patted her softly furred back and she smirked.
“I know you wanna pet me.”
“It’s crossed my mind a time or two.”
“Cocky kid.”
“Least I’m consistent.”
she walked away laughing.
“That’s a plus I guess!”
The friends worked the estate over hard before the last paper was found. Tyler nodded.
“Verica get dressed. we’ll go make our report to Gilindria.”
The girl went into a room with Thorn as Tyler looked at the nearly a foot thick wad of papers to be handed in to the lady.
“We’ll clean her city FIRST.”
Winter leaned on the wall beside him.
“I feel I need to say this, Tyler.”
He looked at her curiously.
“What’s up?”
She sighed.
“Just remember you’re NOT this kingdom’s ruler or guardian. To be perfectly blunt? It’s NOT your job to fight the cities crime in the gutters. The only thing you’re supposed to do is fight the waves. How are you going to be able to do that AND clean the cities? we’re just one party and the other heroes have their own problems. I’m not saying this to discourage you from helping them, but. Keep in mind we can only do so much at once.”
He smiled at the Snow priestess.
“Thanks Winter. I HAVE a plan actually.”
She smiled.
“Of course you do. What is it?”
“Well. we go to a city we have not been to yet and set up shop in it. use it as our current base as in every city thus far we’ve fought demons, smugglers, and raided the dungeons nearby. Plenty of leveling to be sure. Now. we’re also starting at the obvious places like the orphanages or say the slums. hit the smuggler dens as a first step into the mess and work out way to the top. Our airship is our base we launch from. Are you with me so far?”
She shook her head smiling.
“And since each batch of waves is usually centered around one country at a time before moving.”
“We have the time to do it the proper way.”
“You’re thinking ahead. That alone is a comfort. I was worried you were the type to jump in headfirst without looking to see where you’re landing. Like with the challenge.”
Tyler hugged the girl fondly.
“I have faith in our group, Winter. why I agreed in the first place.”
That put smiles on them all as Thorn and Verica came out. The black haired girl was now clad in a flowing gown of red without straps and under the hem clicked a pair of unseen heels. Tyler nodded.
“Let’s go give the report.”
The party walked out the gate and were greeted by the captain.
“Sir. is the estate clean?”
Tyler nodded.
“It is, Captain. We’re headed to see Gilindria.”
“Yes sir. we’ll keep watch.”
The party passed his stunned team on the street and Sherry perked up.
“Hey, Tyler. What happened in there?”
He smirked at her as he passed.
“we killed a greed demon in there. And a bunch of demonic minions. What did YOU do today?”
That left them in a state of shock as the party walked to the lift. Verica gulped as they left the ground and Sheria patted her reassuringly.
“It’s okay Veri. Big brother’s here, so we’re safe.”
That made her smile.
“Thanks Sheria. I feel so much better.”
Tyler looked at Winter.
“You find her staff?”
She nodded sadly.
“I did. It was snapped in two and used as material to summon the demon. I’ll take her Home in the morning when Tolas opens his Home.”
“We’ll go with you. Seems right.”
That got a warm smile as they reached the keep section. Gilindria was sitting on her throne with a saddened expression as they approached her. She saw Verica and hung her head.
“My deepest apologies, Verica. I didn’t know.”
The girl hugged the blonde leader reassuringly.
“He played his game well, Gilindira. Only the servants knew.”
Tyler stepped forward and the blonde couldn’t meet his gaze.
“That’s twice you’ve had to step in to do my job for me, Tyler. I am deeply ashamed.”
He sighed.
“This one you have more leeway with then the slave ring. Bastards and closed doors. I think you know what can happen behind them better then most.”
She nodded at that.
“I do. And I appreciate the discreteness. Now. what did you find?”
He handed her the stack.
“We’re not done with this city.”
She nodded with a determined smile as the leader flipped through the stack.
“Agreed. You have the full weight of my name behind you, Tyler the wolf. Find them ALL.”
“we will. For now we’re doing a raid to refocus.”
“Understandable. Have you sought a reward for your effort in the slaying?”
Tyler shook his head.
“Besides an oath of secrecy on a matter I cannot talk about out here, no we haven’t.”
Gilindria blinked.
“How serious is this matter?”
“I had to have a word with a fire.”
She got THAT coded message.
“Then as I am also of the flame I must hear this. My chamber.”
The group moved to the room, Verica included. Once the room was sealed, Tyler got an oath of silence from Gilindria. She nodded and used the flame to make the pact. The Hero then explained the rot and it’s far reaching implications, his three new party members en route, and his solution.
“Our first task is Dragil. we’ll get your city back up to snuff before moving on.”
The leader was silent for a bit as she digested the knowledge and situation. Then nodded.
“I see. Hero of legend indeed. My Fangs are able to be trusted with the truth as each one I swore myself. They serve ME, not the city.”
Tyler crossed his arms.
“No offense, but how good are their oaths?”
She smiled.
“Temple vows. As the Fangs are of Ignisca’s sect. I a high priestess.”
Winter explained.
“It means each Fang’s oath is the most precious thing they possess. For to directly serve the high priestess is like being close to their deity’s sister. Think of them as I am to my Home.”
Tyler nodded.
“Still convoluted as all hell, but okay. Inside this room are the people I trust with the exceptions of Marvin and Mavis. everyone else in this city is suspect until proven otherwise.”
They nodded and Verica smiled.
“Thanks for including me.”
“Sure. Now. where do we go from here? iris’ plane lands in four hours.”
The duchess snapped her fingers and Warkin appeared from a sliding wall panel. Tyler chuckled.
“Warkin too.”
The elf smiled.
“You knew.”
“Ya can’t sneak up on a wolf.”
“Wisdom of a most deep kind, Sir. I heard. Ma’am.”
“Get into your craft and escort that ship yourself.”
“at once. We allowed to contact them?”
“Yes. Get them here in one piece Warkin.”
The elf closed the panel and was gone. Gilindria smirked.
“He’s the best pilot in the city.”
Bianca’s retort and tone made them chuckle as Tyler used the spell to contact the queen. iris appeared and saw the gathering.
“What news?”
“You got escorts inbound, Iris.”
Gilindria leaned in.
“The Fangs are bared.”
“Oh thank the flame. Not even death can shake their dedication. Who is coming?”
“Him? Appreciated. Okay. we’ll drop it to three hours.”
Tyler nodded before looking at the party.
“We’ll drop off the latest payment to Marvin.”
They nodded at that plan and the meeting ended. Verica smiled.
“I’ll go home and get to work putting it back together.”
The friends hugged her.
“Take care Verica.”
“You too.”
She left and Tyler took out the map of the city and unrolled it.
"Okay. Here, here, and here are most likely smuggler dens that got through the cracks. We'll hit them as we owe Marvin money. Afterwards Iris' ship will be on station."
Gilindria nodded.
"Her ship will be flown off by another Fang once she's safely in your camp, Tyler."
"We think alike. And spread word the royals ARE on board."
The leader smirked.
"If your going for a faked death, inform the king BEFOREHAND."
"I will once they land. We got our targets. Let's roll."
The friends nodded and headed to the first den that was inside an alley. The place was inside a more industrial sector of the city with workshops and forges going. Tyler smirked as he kicked the front door in on the warehouse at the end of a blind alley, startling a deal being struck between a smuggler and a buyer.
"Ya can't escape wolves on the hunt!"
The party rushed the guards as the buyer, who was a member of the nobility, dropped to the ground flat as did the smuggler. The guards were put down before the two were approached. The smuggler sighed as she, it was a she this time, pulled a large pouch from her vest.
"Here. I know the drill."
Tyler merely lifted his license.
"Hmmm. Yanika the traitor. Reward is alive 100k. Winter."
The woman was frozen solid as Tyler took the offered coin pouch as the noble smirked.
"I see you're after money. I got it aplenty."
Tyler merely held the license over his face.
"Hm. Dud. winter."
The man was also frozen solid before the hero searched him, coming up with another bulging coin purse. Then the friends split to search the den their way. Tyler finding the main office and the coin chest he loaded into his bag with Sheria right beside him as the siblings searched the desk. They found the usual paperwork and documents linked to a smuggler den, along with three scrolls, a skill, and a staff tipped by a black stone. Sheria was happily humming as they walked out to rejoin the party by the pricksicles. Winter blinked as she saw the staff.
"wow. A black staff."
Tyler looked at it.
"It banned?"
"Nah. More rare. It boosts illusion type spells and has an extra mana pool inside the gem. We can sell it at the magic shop for....75k? That sounds right."
Tyler shrugged and passed her the scrolls.
"These anything?"
The Snow priestess looked them over.
"A scroll of flame, one for speed, and wow. A scroll of arcane shock. That last one is worth 150k at the shop as it's an extremely potent lightning spell that targets FIVE at once before arcing to a further five per original hit. Best part? It's a dual use, which means it can be sued twice."
Tyler looked at Sheria.
"Let's give that to our thunder mage."
That got a smile from the group and a happy squeal from the blonde cutie. Then the friends brought the two pricksicles with them to the NEXT den that was in the same district. Tyler whistling as he dragged the two blocks of ice Winter had strung to lengths of rope. The next den was locked inside another warehouse, but Tyler didn't break stride as he booted the door clean off it's hinges. The smuggler surrendered while his guards were slaughtered. Tyler used his license.
"Hm. Bingo. Bork the liar. Reward 75k. Dead. Alright."
Thorn blinked.
"we got a freakin pile of licenses to sell. Gods."
"We'll turn em in with these guys."
The place was looted and searched before they headed for the keep. Gilindira was waiting for them in her throne room as they dropped the three bodies. Tyler nudged the noble.
"He didn't have a bounty, but we caught him in the middle of a deal."
The blonde leader nodded.
"50k for the offering."
"deal! We got licenses too."
She blinked at the nearly foot thick stack.
"Been awhile for you hasn't it? 500k."
Then the rewards for the bounties were claimed before they retired to the chamber to do the divvy. Tyler smiled.
"We'll be paid in full by tomorrow noon at this pace. Good. Altogether we got another 1,765,239 dragoons, 7 scrolls, 8 spells, a rather odd looking ring, a shirt of chainmail, and a pair of gauntlets. Coin first. 1,765,239 divided by 2 is 882,664 with one extra coin we'll put into our shares as I hate math."
They nodded smiling. Then he did the rest.
"Next is 882,665 divided by five. That nets us 176,533 per. Not bad."
They took shares and Tyler did a coin check.
"Wow. Right now we got 1,705,072 for the party, and I alone have 411,652 dragoons. We'll drop the 2 mill off to Marvin and sell the actual loot."
Bianca smiled.
"He is not gonna believe us five came up with 2 mill in a few hours."
Tyler smiled.
"when I get serious I know where the money's at. Okay. That ring is bothering me."
The ring in question was a pretty piece with a twisting ruby carved in a spiral like spike with a gleaming gold band. Tyler frowned as he held it.
"Something about this just Winter?"
The Snow priestess held a glowing hand over the ring before blinking.
"Give me that. And do NOT cut yourself."
Tyler passed it over to the now scared Snow priestess. She took it and threw it into the fire.
"Sacred Snow!"
The fire screamed in an enraged agony as the ring shattered inside the now snow white fire before a large red shadow lunge at them. Tyler was there with his longsword to stab it in the center, feeling severe resistance before the red form shattered, leaving behind a three foot wide sheet of red velvet like material. Winter breathed a hefty sigh of relief as she took it.
"That was a rage shadow. A VERY powerful one at that. They musta sealed it inside the ring as a familiar. Blood released the thing."
Tyler smirked.
"Nice to see I'm still a freaky danger magnet. That velvet?"
winter smiled widely now.
"Same as the other shadow we killed. Only FAR softer."
"I'll claim it for Rose then."
Sheria smiled at that.
"Make her pretty!"
He hugged her hard at that before lifting the pair of gauntlets. Thorn smiled.
"More grey steel. Like em?"
The things were rather thin and light with a wrist plate that made him frown. The warrior put them on to find them a perfect fit, and when he did wrist movements he got no resistance or issues. He shrugged.
"They feel weird, but that's a me thing. I need more armor to be honest."
The friends nodded at that as Bianca picked up the chainmail shirt now.
"Hm. This is made from an alloy of malachite and gilted steel. Not bad, but too small for me."
Tyler looked at Winter and she smiled.
"It's in my size."
"You need the upgrade honestly."
The Snow priestess took the thing as Sheria lifted a spell that caught her eye.
"Hey, this is a thunder blast. Winter?"
The girl smiled.
"A large area gets filled with electricity. Like my floor ice."
Tyler blinked.
"I am SOOOOO goin to get zapped."
They laughed at that as Sheria giggled.
"I DO have a mud spell."
Sheria jumped as she remembered his own arsenal of prank spells. Thorn smirked.
"Let's just say no magic pranks."
The blue eyed cutie nodded with huge eyes as she saw the door she nearly opened. Tyler tilted his head as he saw one spell.
Winter explained,
"It's an earth spell that raises a stone wall five feet high and 5 wide. It's like my iced wall spell."
"I'll claim it then. More wall spells we got at once better instant forts we can make."
The friends went over the spells until they got one they wanted and the scrolls too. The loot split they went for Marvin's yard. Sheria was happily humming from her spot on his shoulder as they stepped off the lift. They found their plane sitting on some stilts on the ground and Marvin pulling pieces and parts from her insides muttering to himself the entire time.
"You poor girl! Those bastards nearly killed you! I hope they screamed for this, hurting a beauty like you the way they did. I'll get ya healthy again, never you worry."
Tyler smiled.
"If she ever says hello, let me know."
The man laughed as he dropped from the hole in the plane.
"They do talk lad. Ya just gotta know how to listen!"
The Hero nodded sagely.
"Then I'll learn how."
"Ya got heart kid. Rare thing these days. Now I got good news and bad news. Which ya wanna hear first/"
Tyler sighed.
"How bad?"
Marvin patted the ring he'd been working on.
"She's tore up somethin fierce inside. The fact she DIDN'T fall from the sky is proof of her toughness. I know I said 2 mill, but it's looking closer to 5."
"I kinda figured it be worse. The good news?"
He chuckled.
"She's a fierce one. I opened her hide and close to a hundred pounds of junk nearly killed me! When she's fit again there won't be another craft in that sky like her!"
"Sounds about right. We got an extra 2 mill for you here."
He dropped his wrench! Bianca busted up laughing.
"They don't fuck around when their words on the line old man."
Marvin smiled widely as the payment was given.
"You kids give an old man hope. A rare thing indeed."
Tyler looked at the craft.
"get her back to fierce. We'll keep the coin coming till then."
They shook on it,
"She'll be better an new or I got no business near her kin!"
Tyler and the party left the man to his passion and headed to the shops to sell their unusable gear. The gem cutter being their first visit. The dwarf running the place laughed as Tyler laid the stones out.
"Ya got luck kid. These be good stones. 750k."
Tyler laughed as they got paid and moved to Mavis' smithy where she bought their gear for 150k. Now with slack packs the party returned to the airport to wait out the remainder of the time for the royals to land. Tyler leaned on a large viewing deck with a magic screen showing incoming craft. Sheria was all smiles at getting to see Rose again while Thorn was rubbing a stone on her lance tip. Winter was looking her spells over and Bianca was looking at passing airships, commenting as they went by.
"Yeesh. That one needs new paint. Ha. That one's limping. Ten drags say it'll fall from the sky next flight. That one has no idea what the hell he's doing."
Tyler chuckled as he spotted a craft in the distance with another plane in a loose orbit around it.
"Got eyes on the bird."
The party regrouped and saw the airship. Bianca nodded.
"No mistakin that one. It's a Tigrine. Or air tiger. Only royalty can afford them as they be that expensive."
Tyler marked it's flight path.
"It's headed for dock four."
"Of course it is. Come on"
They moved to the dock in question as the craft that reminded Tyler of a large cesna landed in the brackets that would hold her aloft as her escort flew off to his own dock. The Hero watched as the side of the craft unfolded into a narrow staircase and out walked iris, Rose and Spark. The queen was clad in a tight fitting tunic of a deep blue that made her fire hair really pop. Her stomach was exposed while her pants were like jeans. On her feet were a pair of spiked boots to ensure a sure step on any surface. Tyler noted the traveler's pack and red tipped staff on her back and the slender curved cutlass on her hip. Rose was similarly outfitted with the exception being her shirt was more of a tanktop and white with thinner black pants. Her fire hair contrasting nicely with the color scheme and she too wore boots. She had a pack on her back and a large bow on her back. No other weapons though and that made him frown before he looked to Spark. He was garbed with the same tight outfit but with a 4 foot round shield on his back with the mace on his hip. Tyler smirked.
"Well. Ya look the part."
Iris walked over and got a kiss off the Hero as Rose was nearly strangled by Sheria's hug. Bianca smirked as she looked at Spark.
"You flew that thing?"
The prince nodded with wide red eyes.
"I did."
The coal skinned girl's smirk grew wider.
"we'll see whatchya got."
Tyler then got to work as he looked at the trio.
"Alright. Come on. We got two riads to go on before dinner."
Rose blinked.
"No greeting?"
The boy smiled at her.
"I kinda though you needed to recover, since ya know, Sheria nearly killed you."
The blonde cutie smiled widely.
Rose adjusted her pack.
"That's fair. My neck hurts."
Tyler chuckled.
"I can make it feel better."
She blushed hard as she pictured something in her mind and Iris raised an eyebrow.
"I get him first, Sweetie."
"Boo. I got Sheria then."
They laughed at her justified excitement before Tyler got serious.
"We're hitting an orc den next. Rose with Winter, Spark with me, Sheria bounces between us. Iris I want you to double with Thorn. Any questions?"
Spark gulped.
"I've never been to battle before."
"Why you're with me. My style works well with a shielder. long as ya don't suck at it. Ya do I got a style you can use."
Sheria was sad and he smiled.
"I got one for you too, Sparkles."
Iris smiled.
"Alright. Let's get to work."
Tyler led them to the lift as the two royal children were in the center of their group. Iris striding beside the leader.
"Your plan for their training?"
"It's on hold until I see them in action and they get blood on their hands. then we'll go from there."
She nodded as they rode the lift.
"Sheria seems to have gotten stronger."
"You'll see when we get into it. Thorn. what's the other dungeon after the orcs?"
The ranger smirked.
"I trust kobolds are out?"
"Too easy for the main fighters."
"I thought so. There's another drake den not too far from the north gate."
"That works."
Rose smiled.
"Drakes meat is tasty."
Tyler chuckled.
"For the time being Rose we sell it. we owe money to somebody fixing up our airship. Once she's airborne we can start keeping meat."
That made her blink.
"Ummm. what'll we eat?"
Tyler smiled.
"Once we're done for the day we'll grab a meal at the tavern."
Thorn smiled widely.
"I know a good place on the third tier that makes a divine cow."
"I got a few things from my world you might like, but that's a later disaster."
Sheria gulped/
"Please don't kill us with food big brother."
They all busted up laughing at her justified fear before they left the lift. Spark seemed to be having problems carrying his pack and Tyler looked at him.
"You good?"
He smiled.
"Not used to carrying my pack like this."
"Hm. lemme see."
Tyler took the thing and chuckled.
"It's empty dude. Don't worry. We'll knock you into shape soon enough."
Now a little nervous the newcomers followed the party to the dungeon that was more rough hewn cave. Tyler smiled as he drew his longswords.
"rose, Spark. You are to get three kills EACH. You don't no food tonight."
Iris blinked.
"Oh so THAT'S how it is."
The two nodded as they pulled their weapons. Tyler noted Spark's stance behind his shield and sighed.
"Yeah. Okay. We gotta a lotta work to do."
Sheria patted a nervous Rose.
"We'll be okay, Rosy."
Spark looked at Tyler.
"Where's your spot Sir?"
"First off. My name’s Tyler. Second, we're on point. Third? Widen that stance. keep your feet under your shoulders or you WILL be pushed over."
He nodded and made the adjustment as Tyler smirked.
"Alright. let's move."
Tyler walked right into the dungeon like he owned the place and his party followed him. Spark was shaking badly as they left the light of the entrance behind and were now fully inside the dungeon.
"If you panic, you get left behind, Spark."
Sheria smirked.
"I didn't panic. Pff."
That made him steel his spine as Tyler's eyes scanned the path ahead before blinking.
"The classic. Got a tripwire."
Thorn smirked as he disarmed the thing.
"Orcs are kinda stupid for them."
Tyler chuckled as he looked at Spark.
"Keep your eyes forward and pay attention to the shadows. If a shadow seems out of place ALWAYS stop to check it out. Nine times out of ten it's nothing. But it's the tenth time you need to worry about."
Sheria looked down as Tyler gave the advice and Thorn smiled.
"You okay?"
The blonde watched as Tyler walked with Spark in HER spot.
"He never taught ME like that."
The kindly ranger patted the blonde.
"And did you need to be taught that?"
She frowned.
"I already knew it....OOOOOHHH."
She smiled ruefully,
"I DO know things."
"They don't."
"I'll hug him later."
Tyler walked along when a evil cackle was heard ahead.
"Well mates they came to us!"
A mob of orcs appeared before them and Tyler smirked as Spark gulped in fear.
"Man up."
The fire haired boy blinked at that as Tyler lunged. The Hero flipped on his side to slash two orcs in the chest as three rushed Spark, and the boy panicked. He slammed forward with his shield INSTEAD of blocking with it only for it to be knocked aside by an orc sword as it's partner lunged with a spear, only for Sheria to appear in the breach to run the 5 foot tall creature through the middle, flip around for a reversed grip and slash the blade in the same manner as Tyler did to take another orc in the throat. The blonde snorted as she danced around the prince.
"Idiot. Are you a man or not?"
The prince just looked at her as the blonde dove into her next fight as Iris took a one handed grip on her cutlass blade to slash at the beasts in an elegant dance with each slash hitting a throat or severing a limb.
"Frozen cone!"
"white haze!"
winter's cone spell froze no fewer then ten orcs solid as a pale faced Rose cast her spell that sent a wall of white powder at the frozen orcs, shattering them entirely. Thorn was firing arrows from beside Iris as Bianca swung her hammer, making orcs spatter each impact. Tyler and Sheria were back to back in the center of the main group and were taking all comers with a pile of mutilated bodies around them. Spark was just hiding behind his shield against the wall as Tyler split the last orc on it's height like a log. The Hero smiled as he patted Sheria on the back.
"Atta girl! You're getting there!"
She glowed at that as Tyler looked at the others.
"we good?"
Bianca smiled as Winter cast a spell on her.
"Took a shot from a sword to the leg. I'm good though. Thanks Winter."
The Snow priestess smiled as Thorn retrieved arrows.
"Not bad for a small mob. whaddya think? 60?"
Tyler tilted his head.
"I'd say closer to 70. Not bad for a rampage. Rose? Spark?"
The princess was pale faced but her voice was strong.
"I got a few. I'm not much of an attacker though."
Winter patted her back.
"We got maybe 25 between us, Rose. Not bad for an unbloodied."
Tyler looked to the large shield that had Spark behind it.
The boy poked his white face from behind his shield, offended. Tyler walked over and crouched to look him in the eye.
His voice a brittle calm.
"Rather then stand and be a man you hid in the corner like a child. And let US save YOU. Nu-uh. You lost your shield for this."
His eyes went wide in horror at this development.
"How can I protect myself without a shield?!"
"You'll figure it out."
"I'm a prince!"
"I don't care. You are in MY party now runt. Pull your weight or get left behind. Make a fucking call."
Iris blinked at the harshness and was about to speak when Thorn nudged Winter.
"He reminds me more and more of my Master every time."
The Snow priestess smiled.
"And of my Mother. If he'd been in the Home and done that during a lesson he'd be stripped of his staff until he proved worthy of it."
"I'd have been left to survive in our Forest for a week. With my bare hands alone."
Tyler wrestled the shield from the prince and hefted it.
"Hm. I kinda forgot how this feels. Okay rookie,"
Thorn snorted at that.
"You're starting at the basics."
Spark had tears in his red eyes and looked to his mother.
"Mother! Are you just going to let him do that?"
The queen sighed.
"So THAT'S the type of man you are. Tyler."
"I can fix it. It won't be pretty, but I can do it."
"Emberis would do it himself, but ya know."
Tyler grabbed the prince and hauled him to his feet with a yank.
"You grow up today, Spark. You should be ashamed of yourself. Hiding behind your shield against the wall while WE fought to defend YOU? Do you not have any pride or self-respect? Even sheria here on her first run killed two kobolds WITHOUT me saying to. And yet YOU panic at the sight of a few orcs? SHERIA had to rescue YOU. And in doing so had to abandon her spot at the center and throw our plan out of wack. Because of you. You are a prince of Durala. ACT like it."
Spark hung his head in shame as Tyler chastised him while the others looted the orcs. The prince's reply was in a small, sad voice.
"I'm sorry."
Tyler looked sighed.
"You need to man the fuck up kid. We have more blood waiting for us down the path, if you cannot impress me, Spark Firesson I will leave you in a ditch."
HE sniffed and nodded.
"Yes Tyler."
The party regrouped and Thorn came over with the loot.
"50k dragoons. Bout right for a mob this size."
Rose tilted her head.
"How DOES loot work in your camp, Tyler?"
"half of everything we make gets set aside for the party. Say we make ten dragoons, 5 get added to party coin as a rule. The rest gets split among us. If we make less then needed to split among us, it ALL gets added to party."
Iris smiled.
"That's a very fair system. say we want the same sword."
"If we cannot reach a decision it gets added to party coin and removed from the debate."
"Harsh yet fair. Alright."
Spark was hanging his head as the party formed up again and Tyler smiled.
"let's switch it up a bit. Spark with Winter, Sheria with Thorn and Rose on me."
iris wanted to smack him on reflex as his friends all laughed while the princess blushed hard at the image in her mind. The girl took a spot by his side and they were moving as Iris grumbled.
"Bastard did that on purpose."
Tyler was whistling as they walked while Rose was extremely nervous at being in the front. He smiled.
"Relax. What ya got for close range killin?"
she gulped.
"I haven't found a weapon I like yet. So was sticking to magic until I found one."
The Hero looked her slender form over before tilting his head.
"I wonder if a saber is more your speed? Ya got the frame for it."
Iris smiled from her spot.
"I felt the same way. She WAS going to try one for feel."
Tyler shrugged as a second mob of orcs came rushing around a corner.
"No biggee. Spark. Pay attention."
The boy took the prince's shield off his back and looked at Sheria.
"Can I borrow one of your blades Sis?"
She giggled and passed him her spare shortsword. Tyler then put his shoulder behind his shield and took a leaning forward stance with Rose defended by the thing. Winter smiled.
"He's a defensive shielder. Frozen floor!"
Tyler smiled as the orcs slammed into the shield, rocking him on his stance as Sheria pivoted around him to stab an orc in the chest, Bianca swung her hammer on his other flank to spatter orcs and Thorn loosed arrows over his head. Rose lifted her staff, now less pale then the last time.
"Stout Guardian!"
Tyler smiled as the buff spell took effect and he found it easier to hold the mob back as Spark did double takes as he waited for someone to tell him what to do. Iris smirked as she lifted her staff this time.
Tyler felt her flames woosh around him and his friends to engulf the orcs he was holding back. The warrior felt the mob's push weaken and he shoved on the shield, throwing off their rush and knocking a fair few to the ground. Tyler then made a rush of his own with the shield front and center and the shortsword ready. An orc swung a rusting longsword at him only for Tyler to tilt the shield to the side, deflecting the sword and opening the orc up for his shortsword to take it's heart. Tyler then pivoted on a leg to smash another orc in the face shattering it's skull before doing the same deflection to a greatswording orc. The warrior then planted his feet as the mob thrust with spears.
"Earthen slap."
The ground just ahead of him flipped on itself and flattened close to half the remaining orcs with a gut churning squelch and a rumble. The remainder of the orcs fell easily enough and Tyler smirked as he snapped the arrows embedded in the center boss of the shield.
"Class dismissed."
Sheria and Rose blinked at the line and Thorn smirked.
"I know my way around a one liner. we good?"
winter smiled.
"No healing this time."
Iris was smiling widely.
"It's been too long since I went raiding. I'm good. My mana is too."
Thorn was gathering extra arrows.
Bianca shrugged as he looked at her.
Rose smiled warmly as he looked to her next.
"It's fun watching you work, Tyler. I'm uninjured."
Tyler chuckled.
"I KNOW Sparkles is fine."
Then he looked at Spark. The prince had not gotten a single hit in the entire fight even with the orcs all but contained behind Tyler's shield. He tried to justify it.
"You didn't give me an order! what was I supposed to do?"
Tyler walked over and slapped him in the face.
"You are a coward. First time in the blood or not, you do not stand there like a damn deer in the headlights."
Sheria tilted her head.
"I'll show ya sometime. Deer freeze like statues when bright lights are flashed into their eyes at night."
Thorn smiled.
"It's actually really cool. if we do it, Tyler,"
"We won't take it. Not cool."
"I think I told you of my ranger duty, but not sure."
"No. Not yet at least. Later."
Tyler turned his attention to a sobbing Spark as he held his red cheek.
His sudden bark made him jump but he did stop crying. The guy looked him in the eye and Tyler gave a disgusted snort.
"how the hell is Rose your sister and Iris your mother? That girl there is training to be a freakin healer and did NOT hesitate to get into the blood when it started flying. YOU were training to be a damned knight. With THAT attitude? You'd a been cut the first real test."
Spark just stayed silent as Iris sighed. Tyler blinked.
"You didn't coddle him with the trainers Iris, did you?"
"I did not. the TRAINERS did."
"Ooooohhh. Royal prince bullshit. Okay. I see what the problem is. I can fix it."
Tyler glared at the boy now.
"We're hitting a smuggler den after this. That'll be our last raid of the day. You and Rose will kill TWO of them."
Rose lifted a hand.
"Monsters are one thing, Tyler. People? I'm not sure I can."
He smiled at her.
"Then don't think of them as people, Rose. Because if they raise a weapon to the people I love, then they STOP being people."
That made her smile.
"I think I can do that much."
"I'll be right there every step of the way. well. The parts I CAN be there for. winter can be there for the bits I just can't."
The snow priestess smiled.
"we'll help you."
Tyler looked back at Spark now. The prince was shaking at the thought of killing people.
"You are NOT to hold a weapon bigger then a dagger until I forge a spine in you. Seems I expected too much of the crown prince since I now have to start him at Sheria's first lesson."
The blonde giggled.
"I'm getting stronger big brother!"
"You're my sister, Sheria. Kinda comes with the territory."
she smiled proudly as Tyler took the boy's mace from him and gave him a dagger.
"You're on loot duty. we'll finish up here and get moving. Stay by Winter."
The humiliated boy did as he was told and helped loot the orcs. Tyler nodded as he saw the pouch.
"Not bad for a bunch a idiots. 75k. Moving on."
The boy led the way into the dungeon whistling as more mobs assaulted them but again they stood fast. Spark now hiding behind the Snow priestess as they fought their way through the masses. Then they reached the double doors that led to the boss room. Tyler booted them open without breaking stride and inside was a mass horde with a towering creature that made Thorn blink.
"woah. That's a orc Lord!"
"Winter. Stagger formation!"
Tyler lifted his blades.
"Stone wall!"
"Ice wall!"
A set of thick stone and ice walls rose from the ground to create a funnel for the creatures that led directly to Sheria's shortsword, Bianca's hammer, Thorn's bow and Iris' cutlass. Tyler smiled as he dove into the center of the horde laying waste.
"Rapid lunge! Double shot! tempest wind!"
Now effectively invisible due to his speed boosting skills the Hero made the air bleed as the horde of orcs split in two to assault him and attack the party. Winter smiled widely.
"May the very ground you tread betray you. Frozen Floor!"
The floor inside the funnel was now next to impossible to walk on for the orcs as Sheria giggled.
"Thunder shock!"
Only for Sheria's lightning spell to tear through a large number of them, roasting a fair few and stunning he rest. Bianca smiled as she swung her hammer.
The AOE skill outright spattering close to fifteen orcs into a mere paste on impact. Iris smiled.
"Scary party. All things in this world will turn tyo ash. Raging inferno!"
A burnign tornado exploded into being in the center of the funnel to rain burning drops upon the heads of the now panicking orcs. Thorn was putting arrows into the 15 foot tall orc lord to keep it amused while Rose lifted her staff with a white glowing outline.
"May the light you take for granted betray you. Absolute Darkness!"
There was a bright flash and a howl of fear from the orcs as their eyes went white and sightless with blindness. Tyler smirked inside his hurricane of blades.
"Nasty trick, Rose. I love it."
Spark was standing behins Winter gaping in awe at the party of 7 slaughtering an orc horde numbering close to 250 alone without real effort. The prince was gaping when a shadow appeared around the ice wall that made up the funnel headed for the Snow priestess' turned back.
She looked to see the thing rushing her, and was caught unguarded as an orc with black skin rushed her with an axe. Only for An arrow from Thorn to take it in theface, killing it. Winter smiled gratefully.
"Thanks Thorn!"
The ranger flicked an ear at her as she fired her next arrow into the orc lord. Spark breathed a sigh of relief.
"That was close."
Winter grimanced and opened her mouth.
"I am not having fun anymore."
Tyler's scarily calm voice was heard above the roar of battle and The Snow priestess smiled.
"Watch this."
Iris, Spark and Rose looked at the boy curiously as heis grip on his blades went white.
"Tempest wind! Rapid Lunge! Double Swing!"
He did booster skill tiwce as one per blade before taking his stance.
"Starburst Stream!"
Iris dropped her staff as he simply vanished, and close to thirty orcs just turned to utter mush under his onslaught.
"By the gods."
Thorn smiled as the boy appeared behind the orc lord with his clean blades still glowing from the skills.
"Tyler's sword style's ultimate attack."
The remaineder of the horde simply fell apart including the 15 foot tall lord as Tyler dropped to the ground panting hard, prompting a mass rush from the three newcomers. Tyler smiled as he pulled a stamina potion.
"Starburst stream. 50 hits in ten seconds. I can't use it more then once a day as the strain is that extreme."
Iris blinked.
"Are you saying....that WASN'T a skill?"
"Not like tempest wind. This is purely my own body's doing."
"That is just not possible."
"It is if you're a master of my style. That's the mark of mastery of the Aincrad style, being able to unleash starburst stream."
Rose helepd him to his feet concerned.
"Are you okay, Tyler?"
He smiled as he stood tall.
"I'm alright, Rose. Thanks. The move is a strain as it requires utter explosiveness from your body. Like stockstill to howling arrow faster en you can blink."
She smiled in relief.
"It was beautiful from our end. The black and blue I mean."
"I'll do it at night for you then."
That made her gasp at the image he presented. Then smile. Sheria sighed.
"I don't think I can do that big brother."
"That's fine, Sparkles. I can teach you another dual wielder style I know."
Then he looekd around.
"Anyone hurt?"
winter smiled.
"I'm good. An Oricah got close though."
She looked to Thorn.
"Thank you Thorn."
Spark blinked.
"Hey! I told you it was coming1"
Tyler walked over and grabbed the prince by the collar b efore lifting him up into the air l;eaving him with a direct look into the Hero's enraged eyes.
"Dagger or bare handed, you NEVER leave a friend or a party member hanging like that, Spark firesson. Winter is our friend and one of our lynchpins of the party. You may only havehad a dagger, but you did NOTHING but yell and hide. If you were not emberis' son I'd snap your neck myself. Selfish, cowardly FUCK that you are. If she'd gotten hurt in that attack and you just stood there I WOULD KILL YOU."
Spark pissed himself, so terrified of the boy's eyes as he was. Tyler dropped him with a disgusted sigh.
He looked at iris.
"How the HELL is he your kid?"
The queen sighed deeply.
"I've asked that myself for years. Spark acts the kind hearted prince, and he IS kind. But he is a coward that would rather run from battle then riase his fists. It's why we sent him to the guard to be trained. Yet even then his name was able to get him special treatment."
Tyler turned to the sobbign prince as he felt his own puddle.
"I have a lot of work to do before he gets his shit together."
Sheria kicked the crying boy, him being a full head taller then her.
"Pff. Get off the floor and out of your puddle. Gods. YOU are a prince? Paathetic."
Tyler smiled.
"That was the cutest roast i've ever heard, sheria."
She giggled hard as Rose was panting lightly.
"Are we still hitting the smuggler den, Tyler? My mana is depleted."
He nodded.
"we are, Rose. We don't really NEED high level magics to hit a smuggler den."
Winter passed the red head a potion.
"Here Drop. It'll restore enough mana to get you through the attack."
"Thanks Winter. I'd feel weird calling you Mother with mother right there."
That got a fond smile as Tyler again yanked Spark to his feet.
"Get looting."
He looked at him with tearfilled eyes.
"I need new pants!"
"I said."
He backhanded him hard.
"Get. Looting."
He dropped to the floor sobbing and Tyler slapped him again. And again. And again as Iris had to fight to not stop him. Thorn grimanced as the slaps got harder and harder.
"Yup. My Master would love that guy. VCome on Iris. You shouldn't see this."
The mother and sister were led away as Tyler sought to make the boy snap and retaliate.
"Come on Sparky. ya got a spine in there? Yo sister's got more balls then you do! Come on!"
rose winced as the taunts and slaps became more vicious. She looekd to Winter beside her as they searched a large roc together.
"Does he HAVE to be so nasty?"
Winter nodded as Spark's sobs became more strained.
"He does. It's the same thing I went through when i had to learn to defend myself. As evil and cruel as it may seem to you, Rose? the alternaitives are far worse."
"I guess. I don't like it, even if you ARE right."
The Snow priestess smiled.
"You will do the Gentle Light proud, Rose."
Tyler was grinnign wickedly as he slapped the now silent boy.
"Come on! Ya gonna do something about it or just lay there like a pig?"
Tyler brought his hand down for another slap as Spark snapped and tried to stab him with the dagger as he kicked at him. The Hero smirked as he pinned the enraged boy to the ground with a foot and the dagger in his hand.
"There. Was that so hard?"
Spark was bloody and bruised as he glared at the taller boy.
"I will kill you!"
"Shut up rookie. next time I have to teach you how to be a fucking man I'll beat ya black an blue. we clear?"
Spark spit at him and Tyler backhanded him harder.
"I said. is that clear?"
Spark growled.
"Yes sir."
"Good rookie."
He let him up and Spark tried to suckerpunch the boy, only to slam his fist into his hidden shirt of chainmail. HE jumped back wringing his now bleeding hand out as he glared at the hero.
"I will kill you, Tyler."
"Sure. Alright. Get looting."
He obeyed with a last glare as Thorn walked over smiling.
"my Master did the same thing to me when I got my tail. You never forget the humiliation."
Spark snorted.
"Whatever. You people are evil torturers."
Thorn laughed.
"Nice to see you acting like a man, Spark."
"He still needs to prove himself."
"So true."
Tyler walked to where the orc lord was and lifted the broadaxe the thing was wielding.
"Hm. Neat. I think this is more drake scale."
Thorn smiled.
"It's actually horn drake horn. Decent in strength but batter off sold. How's your swords?"
He looked.
"Dull. I'll teach Sheria and Rose how to sharpen a sword as he walk."
Spark was heard muttering.
"What the does he know about cleaning a sword?"
"Coming from the kid that didn't know how to swing a mace."
Spark glared at the boy and Tyler chuckled.
"You'll learn. And just so you know, sparky, you want me to respect you, ya gotta show you deserve it."
"Why the hell should I respect YOU? Evil monster you are."
Tyler chuckled darkly.
"Because untilt eh day you can beat me in a fight, Sparky, YOU belong to ME. Don't like it? Get stronger."
That made the boy grit his teeth.
"I'll get strong enough to beat the hell outta you."
"well get to it then. Go on."
Thorn laughed.
"I want to introduce you to me master, Tyler. I think you'll get a kick out of each other."
The party looted the cave and Tyler nodded as he put the loot chest into his bag.
"175k in floor loot and an extra 256k in the chest. Spark,the pouch under your shirt."
He threw it at him with a viciousness.
"Miserable bastard."
"Spoiled child."
Tyler looked at the thing.
"Hmm. Not bad. An extra 50k in here. we'll hit the smuggler den before the split. Then we get a bath."
The girls brightened up considerably at that and Spark grumbled.
"Great. I do NOT wanna see that."
"Don't look then. Sounds liek you gotta confession. But hey. I don't judge."
The friends laughed as Spark glared at him with hate in his red eyes, along with a red face too. The party fought their way out of the dungeon with Spark still hanging back with winter. They walked out as another group of adventurers walked over. Their leader smiled as he looked at Tyler.
"How's the idiots?"
"Plentiful. The boss was an orc lord this time."
"Really? wow. Last time it was a mere hobgoblin. Oh hey."
Tyler chuckled.
"I wouldn't recommend your current plan."
They were faced with loaded bows from the 10 man party, and the leader chuckled as well.
"That was a good line. Your loot and that red head. Hand it over."
"Nah. Stone wall."
The arrows were fired but Tyler's wall slammed into place first. Soon as the wlal appeared, Tyler used another trick,
"Mist blast."
His spell sent a mass of razor sharp water droplets into the bodies of the attempted robbers as they tried to move around the wall, dropping four of them. Thorn had her lance out and took one in the heart as Sheria had one by the balls with her shortsword. That left three that Tyler smiled at.
They were knocked off balance by the spell and were quickly pinned. Tyler nodded to Rose.
He tossed her a dagger and she gulped.
"We're just executing them?"
"Yup. we let them go they'll just do it to somebody else."
She steeled herself as Tyler flipped his overand lifted his chainmail vest.
"Here is the heart. Stab it."
Rose forced herself to ignore the pleading of the man as she stabbed the dagger in the indicated spot. The man died as the blood flowed and Rose shuddered hard at her new identity. Tyler patted her reasurringly.
"You did well."
She smiled weakly.
"Thank you, but I need a minute."
Winter took her aside as the hero tossed the knife to spark.
"I hope you were paying attention."
The prince snorted and stabbed his while looking Tyler dead in the eye.
"That'll be YOU one day."
"But not today."
He blinked.
"I hate you, but I like that one."
Sheria chopped her's head clean off giggling the entire time. Tyler hugged her warmly as Rose came back with Winter l;ooking more like herself. The red haired princess hugged him.
"Thank you for being patient."
He patted her hair fondly.
"Sure, Rose. You'll get there."
She smiled at that before they looted the adventurers. Thorn looking the licenses over as they returned to the city.
"We'll turn these in to Gilindria. She HATES these kinds of people."
"So do I. Okay. Thye smuggler den is next and we get tanked."
Winter tilted her head.
"we've done a lot to the underground in Dragil already, Tyler. You think there's still dens out there?"
"Oh yeah. We found two Winter. Good rule to follow is if you find two, then you missed four more."
Iris tilted her head now.
"There's an odd wisdom in that."
Spark was walking funny as his pants were soaked from his accident and so didn't offer anything to the conversation. Tyler smiled as they walked into the city and his humilation tripled. THorn chuckled as he took a spot in the center of the group out of sight of the masses.
"The first lesson is always the hardest."
"And the most important."
"So true. i used to hate my master. Now I look at him as a father figure."
"The good ones are both heartless monsters, and true parents."
"So true. He'll learn."
"He will."
The den in question this time was located inside another storm drain off a blind alley. Tyler whistled as he tore the grate off the hinges and a man was heard sighing.
"I see you're that type of hero."
"nah. we kinda need the cash."
"I can respect that."
Winter froze the water in the pipe ans locked within it was a mob of people all fighting to get free. The speaker was a man in a silk gown that Tyler lifted his license at.
"Yup. Yogn the wanted. Reward alive is.....350k. Dead we get nothing."
Winter froze him in a block of ice as the Hero looked the others over with the license. he got a few more hits all for dead. They were put to death and looted before the party moved to the office at the end of the tunnel. Tyler smiled.
"You three stand guard and watch for this one. we kinda got a system for this."
Spark leaned on a wall as the friends tore the room apart looking for loot and information on the contacts, routes and suppliers of the den. Tyler strapped the chest onto his back before passing two bodies to Bianca, one to Thorn and one to Sheria. The blondie squealing at the show of relience. Once the den was cleaned out the party made for the keep to make the report. Iris looking at the load Tyler had with concern and voiced as much to Thorn.
"Is he okay?"
The ranger smiled.
"Oh he's just fine. it's how HE trains."
Sheria was grunting from the strain of dragging the dead guy that was three times her size but her determination to make her big brother proud drove her forward. Spark just walked in silence as the friends arrived at the keep. Gilindria was sitting on her throne as the party approached and smiled.
"You read minds."
Tyler blinked.
"Umm. we got bounties."
"Ah. Then let us handle that first. I'm afraid I need something looked into."
"Our mana is depleted Gilindria. if it's what I think it is we'll have to either handle it in the morning, or play it very carefully."
"I understand. Now. step one as you say."
Tyler turned in the bounties and the paperwork with the licenses. The blonde leader nodded.
"All told 650k for the efforts. Now. The matter I need investigated is another potential demon summoned in the city."
Tyler rubbed his eyes and looked at winter. She sighed.
"My gut is saying to NOT risk it. We're exhausted, our mana is depleted and we need to pray."
The hero looked back at the lady.
"we don't heve enough left in the tank to take on another demon today, Gilindria."
She nodded.
"Understood. Then I want you there in the morning. Warkin. Errect a barrier around the property."
"Yes Ma'am."
Tyler then sighed as he had a thought.
Winter read his mind.
"If we DON'T, we'll never get to sleep."
Gilindria sighed as well.
"I can respect that. Just be cautious."
Tyler pulled a vitality potion and downed it.
"we'll divvy up loot and send it back to hell."
"The room is ready."
Winter put her ward up as the loot was added together. TYler looked at Spark.
"You did nothing this run, so have not earned a share."
He snorted.
Sheria snorted herself.
"he did the same thing when I was learning. Shut up and watch."
"Or what?"
"I beat yo bitch ass. How bout that?"
"Try it girlie!"
Sheria turned and decked him in the face without even blinking. Spark was knocked the fuck out by her straight right to his chin. The blonde then cracked her knuckles as Winter used a spell to rouse him.
"I am HIS little sister you fucking idiot. You can't hurt me."
Tyler just hugged the fierce blonde.
"I'mma teach ya to throw hands, Sheria. Ya got a helluva right. Yo Sparky, don't maker har mad."
Spark smirked.
"Okay. Duly noted."
Sheria then wiggled out of Tyler's hug to grab Rose in a hug as the hero played calculator.
"Okay. i hate math."
Rose smiled as she snuggled the happily humming blonde in her arms.
"I'm actually pretty good with numbers, Tyler. if you like I can help."
"wow. Looks, heals AND brains? That's MY princess alright!"
She blushed at that and smiled a shy smile. Then iris had a thought.
"Where ARE we sleeping tonight?"
Tyler shrugged.
"I spotted an inn on the fourth deck that looked nice. And to be clear? we share a room. We got high level names now to keep an eye on."
Iris smirked.
"And if I'm feeling...frisky?"
"They either get a free show or lopok away."
"Wow. I can dothat."
rose blushed HARD at that as Thorn sighed.
"I have the spell."
"Good. I do NOT wanna see that."
They laughed at that as Tyler added the amount up.
"Okay. In all we got 2,259,000 dragoons, some daggers, another longsword, a couple scrolls, three rings and another set of gauntlets. Okay. The coin first. 2,259,000 divided by two is 1,129,500. That gets added to party. That divided by 7 gets us 161,357 and one extra coin left over. That coin gets added to party."
They took their shares as Tyler looked at Spark.
"Until you pull your weight you get nothing."
Tyler then did some number crunching.
"Okay, we owe Marvin 5 million. I want to have an extra two mill in case of of unexpected anything. So we'll say 7 million. In all we've given him 3,150,000 dragoons. In the morning we give him an extra 1,300,000 mill. Then we raid the last of the smuggler dens in the city and hit the three dungeons in the same day."
Thorn smiled.
"The undead tomb and the orcs will be stronger when we visit next."
"Good. After the dens are clean we'll see where the city is in terms of bastards."
Iris smiled.
"And once the ship is ready?"
"we'll head back to dragel. we didn't get the job done there. so we'll clean Clarica's home up right."
Rose frowned.
"That poor girl that got the despair demon."
"Oh that poor soul. I read it in the article."
Tyler reached up and clasped the locket that had not left his body since he donned it.
"We'll get the job done right this time."
Thorn smiled.
"I see the capital is last?"
"It is. if the country is rotting from inside out, we'll hit the places with the MOST rot first."
He unrolled his map and tapped the port cities.
"Once Dragel is clean we'll hit the ports. I'm expecting the leaders to also be rotten to the core so be aware."
Iris sighed.
"We HAVE been getting reports of rampant corruption from the merc leaders in the region. I know you wish to go to Dragel, but I'd suggest one of the port cities, Tyler. They're more important to the country then Dragel is."
He sighed.
"That's a fair point. Plus I tore Nightshade a new asshole for it. Yes I know what i said."
Iris smiled widely now.
"I missed this."
"We ain't done anything yet. and I got more tricks to show you."
The hero smiled as he liad the scrolls out now.
"Okay. we got a potential demon to kill before dinner. Long day."
Winter looked the scrolls over before allowing them to be divvyed and RFose was curious.
"Why are you looking them over like that, Winter?"
"We found a scroll of hate today, Rose. Winter looks over our scrolls now before anyone else touches them."
Iris blinked.
"In a smuggler den?"
"As a drop in a dungeon."
"Now that's just scary."
The scrolls were split between them and Tyler shrugged at the daggers.
"Nothing's really jumping at me like that fire dagger was."
Spark became curious despite his disdain for the hero.
"A fire dagger? I've never seen one."
Tyler pulled the blade and did a swing with it. Spark whistled.
"That's kinda cool. I hate you, but you know a good dagger."
"it reminded me of Rose's hair when I swing it."
The princess squeaked at the sudden namedrop before smiling happily. Iris was also smiling as the hero made yet another play for her daughter's heart. The daggers were to be sold and that left the gauntlets. Tyler tilted his head as he saw the half wrap steel.
"These kinda remind me of a fighter's gloves. But with spikes."
Thorn smiled.
"They're called pit gauntlets. Pit fighters use them in bouts for fame and dragoon."
Tyler smiled widely as he looekd at the things.
"We'll get them resized for sheria."
Biqanca took them.
"I can do that in the fire there. Sheria."
Spark gulped as the blonde got her own set of spiked gauntlets. Tyler chuckled.
"Like I said. Don't make her mad."
"I won't live through a second punch."
"No you will not. Hey. What's the more dangerous? her punch or her hug?"
That got a laugh from the friends as sheria came bouncing back with her new armor. The things encasing the top half of her arms in thin steel while her hands were shourded in metal fingers that had a set of half inch spikes on the knuckles to add that extra fuck you to a punch. Tyler smiled.
"Let's go to hell."
They left the room and Gilindria handed them a map with the place marked. The party popped potions as they rode the lift to the deck indicated. Tyler sighing as he saw how late at night it was.
"Okay. we'll cut it down to the smuggler dens tomorrow. We really CAN'T work this hard every day."
Thorn smiled.
"I was just about to ask that."
They walked along the street to the compund the demon was suspected to live in and Tyler walekd right through the gate. The party followed and the gate slammed shut and a feeling of foreboding slammed into them. Tyler and Winter sighed.
"I'd say....malice. They bring friends. Mostly sprigs though."
"what calls them?"
"Bitterness, resentment, and just bad feelings."
"Eh. We're looking at an old crone."
That got a chuckle as a low gutteral growl was heard that made Rose tremble. Sheria patted the girl fondly.
"It's okay, Rosy. We'll be fine."
Spark snorted as winter cast a spell on him.
"I ain't no puppet."
"No chances."
Tyler walked along the ornate walkway to the front door whistling like he didn't give a fuck as a group of two foot spindly creatures skittered onto the scene. Winter sighed.
"Sprigs are tree wisps."
"Eh. We got a fire mage."
Iris smiled.
"Fire storm."
A hurricane made of flame gtore into the mass of wood based creatures, setting a good meny alight as Tyler smiled.
"Lightning bolt."
His spell setting even more on fire as Winter smiled.
"Water SMASH!"
Only for a slab of water to drop onto their heads both killing the creaturesa nd putting out the fire. Winter smiled as she walked to the things.
"Take their wood. it makes for great handles, hafts and smalls divine when burned."
They loaded the twig thin bodies into their bags before moving on to the main foyer where they found a weeping woman huddled on the floor. Rose went to race over when Tyler held her back.
"It's a trap."
He found her shocked expression cute as hell. Winter smiled.
"That's actually a weeping ghoul, Tyler. Kinda rare."
"don't feel pity. She was only possessed as her heart was a rotten thing indeed. Like those rot doppels only it being women."
"Yup. I'll still preform her rite when the fire is out."
Tyler walked over and the thing launged at him with a sickle shaped dagger, only for the unimpressed boy to stab her in the heart with his dagger beofre flicking the thing at Spark's head. The boy ducked and there was a shriek of agonized shock as the thing slammed into the wall and a white mist fell from the tan stone to leave another velvet like shroud behind. Spark was breathing hard at this turn of events.
"How the hell did you do that?"
Tyler smiled as winter collected the dust of the dead ghoul.
"It's merely my danger sense, Spark. it goes off someone's in the shit."
"How do you train that?"
Tyler tilted his head.
"HMm. Good question. I think I just lock us in a dark room and we fight blind until you feel the attacks coming without seeing them."
Thorn smiled as she collected the silk like cloth.
"That's how my master taught my danger sense. It being a magic blindfold, but same thing. I can assist with that part if you need it, Tyler."
"Thanks Thorn."
Spark blinked.
"wait. Are YOU going to train me?"
Tyler nodded smiling.
"Yup. How the did you expect to get better?"
The prince glared at him then.
"And the reason you tortured me the way you did?"
"Make you desperate enough to hit back."
"That's it?"
"You killed a man didn't you?"
"Oooh. Okay. I still hate yiou, but now I'm less inclined to murder you in your sleep."
"Try it I dare ya."
The boy's eyes narrowed.
"Now I AM."
They laughed atthe exchange as Winter took the white silk.
"That was a Wisp. The silk makes great gowns."
Iris smiled.
"I have a few myself."
Tyler chuckled as he looekd around the foyer.
"Alright. Let's kill this thing."
The friends moved to the staircase leading up as Winter smiled.
"You're thinking the bedroom."
"Makes sense for a bitter old woman."
Another growl rang out but they ignored it as they walked. Another mass of the sprigs attacked and Winter used her ice to freeze them solid before Iris sent a wall of flame to kill them outright. The twigs added they found the master bedroom that Tyler booted open with authority. Inside was a skeletal woman in tattered rags weeping into a mirror at her gaunt form. Tyler smirked.
"And that's why I don't want to live to the skeleton age ladies."
The woman screamed at them and revealed her eyes were faded to white and she had a row of razor sharp teeth in her mouth. The thing rushed them nad Tyler was there with his sword to stab her in the heart. She burst into flames before dropping to the floor as a frail old woman that was a skeleton in a costume. There was the glass breaking sound and Tyler smiled.
"Search the place. She's a noble so let's see how she got her friend."
The party split to their tasks with Rose following Sheria, iris helping winter, and Spark going with Bianca. Tyler walked to a large portrait of the dead woman and tore it off the wlal to reveal another vault. iris watched as he opened it with his ear trick.
"wow. Of course he can safecrack."
Tyler threw the heavy door open and sighed.
"Got the circle Winter."
The Snow priestess sighed as she saw the girl that had been sacrificed to summon the demon.
"she was a slave. see her bracelets? she's free now."
Tyler walked inside as winter gave the poor girl her rites. The piles of dragoons weren't as high but were just as imposing as he found the hidden desk at the back of the vault. He searched it with Thorn as the rest of the party walked in with their offerings. Sheria placed a packet of papers on the desk.
"I got more smuggler routes, big brother."
"Thanks Sparkles. what you got Bianca?"
"Some black deals and court plots."
Tyler nodded as he leafed through the packet he pulled from the desk.
"Sounds about right for a schemer. i..oh hello."
He pulled one paper out.
"Hmmm. I got an assassination order here. Okay. target was eliminated successfully and it was....oh for gods sake. her own friggin daughter. It was made to imitate a rape come wrong and was accomplished to perfection. Reason? her daughter was better looking then she'd been in her prime. bitter old bitch."
Winter grimanced.
"Then I will NOT preform a rite of passing for the crone. Instead I'll condemn her to the water."
Tyler shrugged as he piled the papers together.
"Not every demon has a complicated reason behind it. This one was just a bitter old woman that shoulda died years ago. Ah well."
Iris looekd at the wealth around them.
"If there is no heir to her fortune we may claim a portion as she WAS a demon summoner. In Druala such an act is a death sentence and all you own is seized."
"Let's make out report to Gilindria and go from there before we ask about the money."
They walked out and Tyler locked the vault back up before they returned to the keep with the report. Gilindria was in her throne room as they walked in.
"How bad?"
Tyler sighed tiredly.
"An old crone with a bitter heart summoned a malice demon."
"I know her. I am not surprised. She has no surviving heir as she had her own beautiful daughter murdered. As such the city claims her fortune and her estate as compensation. Are you going to claim a portion?"
He tilted his head.
"How much are we allowed to claim?"
Gilindria sighed.
"She owed a lot of people a lot of money believe it or not. All told? She has 12,342,345 dragoons you may claim a portion from."
"we'll take 7 mill. Sound fair?"
"I shoulda told you, the most you can ask for is a 5th. It's that type of deal."
"Eh. 2 mill."
They got the pouch and Tyler smiled.
"we'll divvy it up in the morning. Right now we need food, a bath and sleep."
Gilindria smiled.
"There's a good inn not too far from here. I am not able to let you stay in the keep as it be a Flamecaller temple I'm afraid."
"I get it. Thanks Gilindria."
The friends left the place and headed to the Inn in question. The keeper smiled as they got a well earned bath for 150 dragoons and their gear deep cleaned by magic in a locker. Tyler groaned as he soaked in the water, listening to the girls on the other side of the wall laughing and splashing as Spark sat on the OPPOSITE side of the room from him. Once clean the friends got a hearty meal of meat and ale setting them back a further 500 dragoons before they went to the room. Tyler groaned like he was in pain as he laid in the bed. Sheria right beside him shirtless as he was as Rose cuddled with Winter, Spark got his own bed at the other end of the room, Iris was wrapped up with Bianca and Thorn was in her own bed. Tyler smiled as Sheria snuggled against him.
"Night ladies."
Spark grumbled as they all giggled.
"Night Rose!"
"eep! Night!"
Tyler smiled as he hugged Sheria to him.
"Good night, Sheria. Love you."
She smiled as she drifted off.
"Night big brother. love you too."

DAY 14.
DRAGOONS: PARTY: 1,180,222. TYLER: 273,009.
Tyler woke to see Sheria asleep beside him on the bed. He smiled as he saw her.
"Love you too."
"I'm here too ya know."
"Oh. hey Clarica. Having fun?"
"Love you too."
He smiled as he stroked the blonde's hair fondly, making her giggle.
"Morning big brother!"
"morning Sparkles. ready for more?"
She sat up stretching hard.
He smiled as he hugged her, them still shirtless before getting out of the bed. Tyler noting the others were still sound asleep with Spark having joined Thorn for cuddle support after his first day in the blood. Iris was wrapped up in Bianca and Tyler smiled as he wanted to play a trick on the sleeping queen, but left it for the next time. Rose and Winter were cuddling like lovers on their bed as he and Sheria snuck out to the dining hall. The blonde giggling as they made their escape. The pair got breakfast together as he looked at the news.
"Demons, smugglers, corrupt nobles and one very angry Wolf. Yesterday we reported on the Hero known as Tyler the wolf having thrown off a pirate raid now six days prior on his flight to Dragil. Well. The hero landed in the city and made a right mess of it too. For no fewert hen five hours after he landed did he uncover one of the Four Great Roads of tears that make up the slave trade. How? A smithy he visited told him of a kidnapped daughter off the street and that was all it took. This hero does NOT care about rules or even honor when he smells something foul. The hero made a beeline for the Home of the Snow priestesses in the city and now the temple be shut as a Snow Summon was determined to be needed. The doors are open once more and the Snow priestesses are now possessed of a most vicious fire as it would seem the Summon was indeed needed. Tyler then made short work of the guards of the slave road and threw the city on it's head as a slave rescue was called. Lady Gilindria was taken to task for allowing such evil to take root in her city by the Hero. And this being the first time I have seen that most indomitable of women be unable to even look her accuser in the eye. Now most would call the shattering of a slave ring a good day's work, but not this Hero. For no sooner was he done did he hire ther daughter he rescued from the slavers as his newest party member and if rumor be true pilot for his craft. Tyler does not waste time, reader, for once they hired a mechanic to put right the damage the previous owners did to their craft did they go on a raid in the undead tomb dungeon. They work hard. At some point on their trip to the keep to deliver another bounty, Tyler got another whiff of something foul for he made a beeline for a noble's manor in the city. And lo and behold inside be a greed demon having possessed the manor's owner. The Wolf has a most scary nose for powerful foes. He sent the demon back to hell with minimal effort before hitting two more smuggler dens as a means for coin. Then he took in three new faces we are unable to disclose as we do not know their names and hit the orc hold dungeon. Before coming back with more bounties for Gilindria. Only to get sent out on another mission to hunt down a SECOND demon inside the city. The hunt was also successful. We have a hero of legend here reader. All that and more down in one day? if they take a day off, not a soul can blame them."
Tyler smiled as he hugged Sheria beside him.
"More easy day."
The giggling girl rested her head against him as they had breakfast. The hero laid the map out and made marks in different places as sheria watched curiously.
"What are those big brother?"
"More potential dens, Sparkles. We'll visit each one and see what we come up with."
"Oooh. Okay."
Rose and Winter came down the stairs to join them at the table. Tyler smiled as he saw them.
"Morning Winter, Rose. Cuddle well?"
Winter smiled as Rose blushed.
"Rose is very warm."
They sat at the table and Sheria hopped right over to get a hug off the princess and snuggled under her arm. Next to appear was Thorn and Spark with the crown prince looking sullen as he'd been caught in the ranger's bed by the ranger. Thorn for her part had a knowing smirk as she gort a hug off the blonde cutie. Iris and Bianca came down right after and the nuthouse was assembled. Tyler passed the map around and the girls nodded as they saw the suspected hideouts. Iris smiled.
"The demon's loot?"
"Two dens and we'll divvy."
"Sounds fair."
The plan made the party left to hit the first den. Sheria was riding his shoulder as always as the party went to the warehouse that the den was supposed to be contained in. The hero kicked the front door in to reveal another deal in progress with the smuggler and a guard captain this time. The guard dropped to the floor as the slaughter was undertaken. Tyler smiled as they got the loot and found a bounty on the smuggler.
"Togin. Wanted alive....85k. Eh. Small fry."
The man was put on ice as the captain was tied to his body for transport. Tyler was whistling as the party moved to the next den which was located inside another storm drain and cleaned it out with three bounties this time. Happy with the results the party turned the heads in along with the paperwork aquired from both places. The friends then retreated to the chamber to divvy. Tyler sighed as he did the math.
"I hate math. Okay. We have 2,435,234 dragoons, some lesser skills, spells and a dagger. Hitting bottom a the barrel here. Okay. The dragoons divided by two nets us 1,217,617. That divided by 7 is 173,945 with one extra coin."
Spark grumbled but as he had yet to actually HELP the party he had no claim to the loot. The friends took shares and Tyler did the totals.
"In party funds we got 2,397,839 with me having an extra 446,954 to throw. We'll drop off 2.7 million to Marvin and hit the drake den."
They nodded as thwe rest of the loot was all to be sold. Happy they headed to the scrapyard where they found Marvin still gutting the craft. The man laughed as he got the next payment.
"Ya work hard kid. She's coming along nicely."
"We'll keep at it."
The payment made the party headed for the drake den with Thorn smiling as they went.
"This one is a higher level then the other one, Tyler. But still doable."
"The biggest thing that can be in there?"
She tilted her head at that.
"Most likely a spiked drake. Think a fifteen foot tall cow up to thirty feet long with plates sticking out of it's back and a springy tail with a set of razor sharp spikes it wants to hit you with, and it don't like you."
Tyler painted the picture in his mind of the animal.
"Hmmm. I THINK I know the one you're talking about, but ya know. Eyes on."
The friends reached the den and Tyler tossed Spark his mace.
"One kill."
The boy did a practice swing with the weapon before they walked into the large cave. Tyler wielding his greatsword this time which made Rose smile.
"You look great with that thing, Tyler."
"Thanks Rose. YOU look great period."
She blushed at his retort and smiled shyly as Iris smirked.
"I'm attacking you tonight, Tyler."
"Of course my queen. I'da had you last night, but ya know."
They chuckled as the first group of drakes attacked. Them being weird low slung monsters with limbs out to the side and tall frills along the spine. Tyler smirked as they hissed at him like an alligator as the group of four rushed the party.
"Winter! Freeze em!"
The Snow priestess smiled as she lifted her staff.
"Cone of cold!"
A blast of arctic wind slammed into the reptiles' bodies, slowing them to a snail's pace and allowed for the melee fighters to stab them in the neck, with Spark slamming his one handed mace onto a leg of one beast, shattering it and allowing Thorn to impale it with her lance. Tyler smiled as he saw this.
"Nice to see some fire Sparky."
"I will hit you with this mace you call me that again."
Thorn pulled her lance free as she talked.
"These are called Sail drakes. Their hides make great leather, teeth make decent tools, and their meat is tasty too."
Tyler shrugged as they got to skinning.
"Not bad for a first hit. When we leave the city we'll stock the larder with a raid here."
They smiled at that one as they stripped the creatures to the bones before moving on. Tyler whistling as they went when they came upon a door in the wall. The hero smiled widely as he pulled his knife and pick.
"Let's see if I member how to do this."
Thorn leaned on a wall watching as Rose looked to Winter.
"He's a thief too?"
The Snow priestess smiled.
"More jack of all trades. And I do mean all."
Tyler had the door open and booted it open with authority to reveal a pile of dead adventurers laden with gear. Thorn sighed.
"A last rest. These are sadly more common then we'd like to think. Winter."
Tyler sighed as he saw the wounds of the skeletal bodies.
"They got attacked by a mob of smaller critters. Thorn."
"I see it too. Most likely Skitterers. I hate them things. Always attack in mobs of up to 150 of the rats and are about the same size as say your shin."
"we'll just have Winter flash freeze em."
"That's usually the best choice when it comes to their mobs. They taste good though."
The rite ended with the bodies evaporating into mist leaving behind their possessions which the party went through. Tyler lifted a shirt of scales and Thorn provided the unasked for answer.
"That's scale mail. Think of it like a halfway between chainmail and plate mail."
"we'll pick up our mail from Mavis' shop later."
Bianca smiled at that as Tyler looked at the material and Thorn chuckled.
"It looks fancy, but that's regular steel. And it's rather shoddy at that."
"leave. Not worth enough to have it in our pack."
"Next upgrade I'll try out the scalemail. Seems a good workaround."
"It's effective again arrows and spearpoints. And only slightly heavier."
Tyler hung the shirt on a rock as Sheria tossed a pouch over.
"Catch! There's 150k in there big brother."
"Thanks Sparkles. Anything else useful?"
Spark perked up for once from a corner of thye room.
"I got a strongbox here for some reason. Think you pick it?"
"worth a shot."
Tyler and Thorn walked over and the hero blinked as he saw the design of the overtop latch.
"Actually. I know a workaround. hey Iris can you make a gout of flame please?"
Now curious to see what he had in mind, the fire mage conjured an intense flame he stuck a rod of steel into until it glowed cherry red. Next he placed it on the hinge od the strongbox and used a small hammer from Bianca's pack to tap the now melting pin from it's mooring. He did the same to the other hinge and smiled.
"Now give a yank to the right, and bam."
The top of the box lifted right off the thing and Bianca smiled.
"I see you know mechanics."
"I know a thing or two from a few jobs I've had over the years. let's see whether or not it was worth it."
Inside the thing was a velvet pouch, a sapphire cut to a sparkling brillance, and a scroll. Tyler passed the scroll to Winter as he took the velvet pouch and Thorn smirked.
"Not bad rookie. We found a gem bag. See if it's got anything inside."
He looked inside.
"Wow. I got four aquamarines, three yellow topaz, and a rather pretty opal."
Thorn smiled.
"Not bad for a small gem bag. That all together is worth 150k."
"Seems about right for secondary gems."
Winter smiled.
"This is a scroll of prospect. Basically when used it floods an area with the skill and highlights all ore in a ten foot radius. It's worth about 1000 dragoons at the shop."
"We'll keep it as a mass mine skill."
Bianca smiled.
"Good call rookie."
The room looted they got back on the hunt where they were attacked by more Sail drakes which were put down and skinned. Tyler whistling jauntily as they walked through a door to be faced with an unexpected surprise. Laying on the floor was a large bipedal monster with a large head and green skin. Thorn blinked.
"Oh gods. That's a tyrant!"
Tyler had a slow smile spread across his face as he looked the waking beast o ver.
"I got this. I'mma borrow your lance."
The ranger blinked as he took the long weapon.
"Are you insane? That's a tyrant! We are NOT reayd for that!"
"I don't any help to kill that thing, Thorn. Watch."
The boy rushed the creature as it roared at them and moved to attack the lone fighter Thorn and the rest of the party watched in horror as their leader attacked the large predator. Tyler was smiling as the thing lunged with it's 5 foot head, onyl to dance under it's jaw and avoid the long arms that had the three finger claws of an allosaurus. Tyler then planted his feet and stabbed the lance into the chest of the trying to recover beast, and felt the tip pierce the heart. The dinosaur fell to the side dead before irt hit the ground. Tyler chuckled as he looked at his shocked friends.
"There is NO one, that knows these types of creatures better then I do. Come here. I'll show what I mean."
The stunned party walked over and Tyler used the stained lance to point out different aspects of the kill.
"See the spot I stabbed it? It's heart is just behind that. On the side it's here, just above the arm. Yet if you stab it HERE, it'll hit the lung AND heart. If you want to HURT the thing, hit it here between the legs in this large hump as it's intestines and reproductive organs are housed in it. Now if you walked to here in the center of the back, the stomach sack is there."
Thorn smiled widely as he pointed out the vital points.
"I guess you have a creature. Fair enough."
Tyler chuckled as he passed the lance back over.
"I kinda got obsessed for a few years. Okay, let's skin the bastard."
The party got to work cleaning the kill as Tyler found the nest which had another chest he took. Then he walked over to the side of the skull where he ripped the largest tooth from the thing, making Thorn smirk.
"Trophy for your first tyrant?"
"That ain't a tyrant, Thorn. This merely it's smaller cousin."
That made her blink.
"Ummmm....HOW are you so certain?"
Tyler kicked the arms of the beast.
"These are how I know. A TRUE Tyrant has arms the size of mine with two finger claws like hooks. Plus the jaw structure is wrong as well."
Thorn slumped as she saw what he meant.
"Wow. At first glance it LOOKS likwe a tyrant. You're right. It's not. This is merely a Cave draco. The beasgt YOU'RE thinking of is far bigger and meaner."
"Damn straight. And we ARE going to kill one so you know."
"I'd expect nothing less."
The thing was stripped to the bone with Bianca taking a fair few of the bones,
"For my smithing."
As she put it and they left the cave. Spark killing a Sail drake with a shot to the skull that shattered the thing entirely. Tyler smirked as he saw the kill.
"Making progress, Sparky, making progress."
The prince swung his mace at the cocky hero, only for Tyler to sidestep neatly and flip him onto his back with a hefty thud. Tyler chuckled as spark got to his feet with an irritated expression.
"I forgot to mention, Sparky, you can't hit me with that."
Now just glaring at him the prince went to help Sheria skin one of the beasts. The friends walked out of the dungeon and Winter's staff's crystal glowed a bright white before a dinging sound was heard. She smiled as the glow died.
"I can go Home now."
Tyler nodded.
"Lets take her Home then."
"Thank you."
The party walked back to town as Rose asked the question.
"Who are you taking home?"
Tyler smiled.
"The staff and spell of a fallen priestess, Rose."
That made her sad as Winter showed the broken staff.
"Oh. I'm sorry."
That got her a hug as they went to the white stone temple to Tolas the Snow. winter smirked as she saw a fresh set of white blocks around the room.
"Tolas was busy. I can see the ranks were dminished quite a bit. Good. The Snow is solid once more."
The friends were met by a new Mother and winter presented the staff and spell. The other priestesses wept for their fallen sister as the Mother laid the broken staff onto a pile of other staffs. Tyler and his party left the hate scroll as well before heading to the exchange to sell their monster loot. They walked out 250k richer and headed to Mavis' smithy for pickup. The woman smiled as they walked in.
"I was just about to send for a runner, too! Your gear be ready."
Tyler smiled as he, Bianca and sheria got their shirts. Though the girls laughed as Sheria changed right into hers like Tyler did. Iris looked at Thorn a little worriedly.
"I'm starting to worry he'll be a bad influence on them."
Thorn smiled fondly.
"Oh he is the worst. But. Comes with the territory."
"Ohhh my aching head!"
They laughed at that as they sold their unwanted gear to Mavis for an extra 5k. Next up was the magic shop they unloaded their unwanted magic spells and staffs netting them a whopping 275k. Tyler chuckled.
"We'll divvy up now. See what we got to give marvin."
They returned to the keep where Gilindira smiled at them.
"I was about to send for you Tyler. I have a task for your party."
He walked over.
"Another demon?"
"Not this time. Some bandits are making idiots of themselves down the road to the north. I'd like you to make them vanish please."
"Sure. We kinda need the change of pace. plus bandits are fun."
Thorn got the map with he location of the band and nodded.
"I know this place. Simple enough."
Then Tyler smiled.
"When we get back I'll see about that commisson."
She nodded.
"Agreed. And you may use my room to divvy."
"Thanks Gilindria."
The friends took a seat in the chamber as Tyler did the math.
"Okay. This run we made 1,084,568 dragoons. That divided by two is 542,284 for the party. That again divided by 8 nets us 67,785 with one extra coin left over. We'll add that to the party."
The shares were taken and Tyler took out his longswords.
"Woah. They're freakin blunt! Let's all do a touchup before we hit the bandits."
Thorn smiled at that as Tyler pulled his stone.
"I was wondering when you'd get around to that."
Sheria sat against her big brother as she added a fresh edge ton her shortswords. Once the touchup was handled the party left the chamber to deal with the bandits. Tyler whistling in the lead as they went. Sheria was riding on his shoulder as per the norm as they walked out of the city headed for the ambush point. Rose was walking with Winter and were talking about her training as the hero enjoyed the change of pace from hunting demons and horrors inside a city. The road being rather easy and level with some sparse woodland in the distance and the mountain that was the city behind them serving as a visible landmark for miles around. The hero passed the walk by teasing Sheria with pokes and jabs as they reached the blind curve that was marked on Gilindria's map. Tyler took out a few dragoons as they walked around the bend like they owned the thing and an arrow came whistling from the trees to bounce off his mail. The boy looked up curiously to see 25 men appear in front of them and another ten behind them. He tilted his head.
"Lotta you fuckers. Huh."
The leader smirked.
"Your women and coin-"
"Earthen Slap."
That was as far as the man got before Tyler launched his assault with his leveled up slab attack that saw the ground flip on itself to flatten any poor bastards caught beneath it. Him, Sheria and Thorn took the 25 before them while Winter and Rose took the center of the group protected by Spark as Bianca and Iris rushed the ten at the rear. Tyler had his twin longswords in a sideways flip as Sheria darted alongside the more aggressive fighter to run a man with a lance through the middle, while Tyler split two across the middle.
Sheria smiled.
"Flame touch!"
And Thorn was rightt here with them.
"Doulbe jab!"
The bandits fell like chaff with one survivor at the end. Tyler was whistling as he approached the now cowering man with his flame dagger.;
"Alright. Your camp?"
The man pointed to the crushed leader.
"He had the map!"
The hero sighed.
"It's always kinda boring when they just go with it. eh."
He used his license on the man.
"Thought so. Lida the firethrower. Reward is alive and it is....100k. Eh."
Tyler knocked him out as the looting was finished. Thorn saw the spot on the map and nodded.
"It's not too far from here."
Winter froze the body to keep it fresh as they trekked into the woods. Tyler smirked as he looked around.
"If ya see anything useful, perk up."
The party did some foraging on the march as Sheria passed him the dragoon pouch.
"They sucked big brother. 35k."
"Decent I guess. We'll see at their camp."
The party came up with some herbs to sell that were worth around 4500 when they found the mess of a camp the bandits called home. Tyler whistling as he walked into the leaders tent and found the company chest he put into his pack before helping with the rest of the looting. Thorn shrugged once they were done.
"idiots. The camp had 55k between them."
Tyler looked at the chest.
"I got maybe 150k in here. Hey. You think they got an offsite stash?"
The ranger smiled widely.
"Some do, some don't. I'll check."
Tyler waited with the rest as the ranger looked around the rim of the camp as Rose came over.
"Hey, can i ask what you'd have done if he hadn't just handed the map over?"
He shrugged.
"I'dda cut the truth from him. That's my role in camp."
She blinked.
Rose's ice blue eyes went wide at this new information.
"But, you're a hero!"
"And? The world isn't as pretty as it seems to be Rose. Besides. If I do it, YOU won't have to."
Iris sighed at that.
"I see you handle the dark work we of morals or honor just can't. And you sleep just fine too."
Rose looked at her mother in shock.
"I'm supposed to accept it?"
Winter placed a hand on her shoulder with a sad smile.
"He can do the things he does because he doesn't want US to have to carry that burden Rose. He';s THAT type of hero."
Rose got a sad look now.
"I see now. He's the dark hero in this tale. A sad role to be sure."
Tyler shrugged again as Thorn came back.
"I got a disguised trail leading into the woodland there. It's been used a lot."
"There it is."
The party walked along the trail with the ranger leading the way. Tyler smirking as they went.
"I see it now myself. Plus the user even set up markers toshow him the right way."
Thorn smiled at that.
"They suck at it though."
They followed the trail to a small clearing with a sandy bed that made Tyler sigh as he saw it.
"It's buried in the sand."
Thorn produced a shovel.
Tyler dug into the white sand for ten minutes before he hit something solid that gave out a dull thunk. The industrious worker had a large chest torn from the dirt in a further ten minutes and smiled.
"Here we go. We'll make it a rule to check bandit camps for hidden treasure."
The group smiled at that as Tyler broke the lock and threw it opn, revealing the thing filled to the brim with dragoons. He whistled.
"My License says there's 3,435,786 coins in that thing. This normal?"
Thorn chuckled.
"it is if the bandit group's been at this for a while. Say a few years."
"Nice. Alright."
HE hoisted it onto his shoulders and off they went back to the city. The friends made great time and Gilindria laughed as she saw the chest on Tyler's back.
"I see you work hard. The bandits?"
"One bounty, rest are feeding the bugs."
She smiled as the man was dragged away.
"100k. Here's your pay for the job."
They were given 90k extra and the room to split the loot. Tyler smiled as he did the splitting.
"Okay. This time we got 3,870,286. That divided by 2 nets us 1,935,143. That again divided by 8 gets us 241,892 and 1 extra coin to party."
They took shares and Thorn smiled.
"Good thing we enchanted our pouches to hold unlimited coins. Else we'd be kinda screwed right now."
Tyler chuckled at that.
"I haven't had to worry, since I empty the damned thing before I get close."
They laughed at that as he added the amounts up.
"Party we got 2,575,266 dragoons and I have 356,631. We'll bring Marvin 2.8 mill and see where we're at for daylight."
They nodded and headed to the scrapyard with the latest deposit. They found marvin Strapping a fresh set of rings onto the craft when they arrived andhe laughed as they gave him the newest payment.
"I think you overpaid, lad."
Tyler smiled.
"You said 5. So we're shooting for 10."
"Good mindset. She's still fighting me. Nearly had a door kill me this morning, but she be taken shape now."
"Try calling her by her name. It's Fenrir."
Marvin smiled widely at that.
"That might help. Fenrir. That be a mighty fine name for an ole war bird like her."
Tyler chuckled as he looked at the craft.
"We'll get ya back in action soon enough."
The friends left the repairman to his craft and headed to the local tavern for lunch. Tyler sat against the wall with Sheria on his leg as they discussed their next move.
"Alright. We're here for the next few days while Marvin gets Fenrir back up to awesome. Dragil's clean enough the town guard can handle the rest. Plus Marvin was right when he said we overpaid, so we're caught up on payments."
Thorn tilted her head.
"How much have we given him?"
The leader pulled the list of numbers.
"Let's see......Woah. We've given him about 8,650,000 dragoons for the job. Scary."
Thorn smiled.
"We work hard plus your loot nose. We hit the last of the smuggler dens we should make that needed amount."
Tyler looked at the party.
"How's everyone for gear? We set on upgrades?"
The friends all looked their gear over and Sheria frowned.
"I gotta crack in my sword, big brother. I'd like to keep the hilt though."
"Sure Sparkles."
Winter smiled.
"I'll need to visit Home to upgrade my crystal, Tyler. I'm stronger than it is right now."
Thorn looked up from her lance and bow.
"I can use a fresh string and lancehead. This one's had it."
Bianca shrugged.
"my hammer's custom so it's fine. I made it before the chains."
Spark grumbled.
"Me mace an shield are brand new."
Rose smiled sweetly.
"I'm set. My staff is actually meant for a higher level mage then me so I won't need to upgrade for a while."
Iris looked up from her cutlass.
"My cutlass has a crack as well. Staff's fine though."
TYler nodded as he set his own blades aside.
"My blades are good for now. Kinda amazed my starburst stream didn't shatter them."
The plan was made and they headed to Mavis' shop fior upgrades. The coal skinned lady smiled as they walked in.
"What be it this time?"
"Sparkles needs a fresh shortsword, but wants to keep the hilt off her curent, Thorn needs a fresh string and lance, and Iris a new slasher. Oh. Rose wants to try out a saber."
The lady nodded.
"Her balde be 5k."
Sheria paid from her own purse as Tyler went with Rose to look at the elegantly curved sabers Mavis had for sale. She took one that was 4 feet long with a slender curving S shape and did a few slashes with it before frowning.
"I don't know. It feels very.....awkward."
Tyler shrugged.
"Alright. Let's try this a different way. Look around and see if a certain weapon calls to you in a way the others DON'T."
She frowned the harder but walked around the shop looking at different weapons as Sheria came over with her now a decorative hilt. Tyler hugged her tightly.
"I got a new sword being made from black drake, big brother. it only cost me 250k!"
"Atta Sparkle. See anything else ya can use?"
She looked around.
"Not really. Nothing's jumping at me at least."
He patted her head fondly.
"We'll keep at it."
She skipped off as Rose was heard,
Tyler looked over to see the princess lift a single headed axe off a rack and heft it. He blinked as he saw her smile with the two handed weapon.
"Found something Rose?"
She looked over with stars in her eyes.
"I love how this feels!"
"Wow. She's an axer. I love it."
Rose blushed as he walked over to inspect the single blade.
"I guess I like two hands."
"That is all kinds of awesome Rose. Trust me. Bianca and I can teach you to split people."
The coal skinned girl smiled widely.
"It be lottsa fun!"
The princess took the axe and Tyler surprised her by paying for it and gifting the thing to her, making her smile warmly. Mavis smiled as the princess walked away.
"I LET that go for 25k, Tyler."
"And I thank ya for it."
"Take good care of her."
"I will."
The party got their upgrades and headed to raid the last smuggler den on Tyler's map. Rose loving the feel of her new battleaxe as Sheria used her new shortsword that was as jet black as Tyler's demon sword. The den was set inside an abandoned warehouse and they found the owners in the middle of a meeting to discuss whether or not to just leave town as the sudden explosion of hunts had utterly destroyed their network. That's when Tyler found them. The party walking away with four bounties worth 275k, a chest containing 350k, and looted coin totaling a further 159k. Gilindria smiled as they delivered the bounties.
"the fangs report that was the LAST den in the city. Dragil is clean, hero. well done."
Tyler smiled.
"I work fast. Okay. That commisson."
Hee smile became deeper.
"I can pay you 350k."
"Sure. I can get it down in fifteen minutes."
She went with them to watch him refit the small cubby she kept her treasures. The hero worked for the fifteen minutes and when he was done, the thing was invisible to any but those that KNEW it was there. Even knocking on the panel gave the same thunk as the wall around it. He smiled as Gilindria paid him.
"Happy to please you."
She smirked at that.
"You don't interest me, Tyler."
"I got iris."
The queen laughed as Gilindria looked at Bianca.
"YOU I want."
The coal skinned girl smiled.
"I can do you."
Tyler looked at Iris.
"We can take a break."
The party laughed as they were moved to seperate rooms. Tyler and Iris stripping in one room as they grinned.
"I've MISSED you!"
Tyler kissed the tall beauty as she laid on the bed.
"I'll be sure to PROPERLY destroy you this time."
The hungry hero dove into her treat with gusto and the queen was instantly moaning as he teased her spot with loving tenderness before she blew. The duo played hard for a few hours before being sated. Iris resting her head on his chest with a happy smile on her face as he stroked her flame colored hair.
"I needed this."
He chuckled as he kissed her.
"We'll get to do this a lot more now."
"Oh my aching ass."
"I'll be nice."
"Still a bastard."
"Love you too."
She smiled at that and kissed him warmly.
"I am NOT going to help you win her heart."
"nah I can do that myself."
"arrogant bastard."
He laughed at that one. The pair cuddled for a moment longer before cleaning up in a tub nearby with the spoil in full force. Though the teasing hero took liberties with well placed kisses and caresses that made poor Iris squirm.
"I HATE you!"
"I'll ruin you again tonight.
They walked to the small siting area in the hallway they were borrowing for a breather and sat at the bench. Tyler leaned against the wall looking out the window at the vast view with Iris on his other side. Her hand in his as they enjoyed the peace of the moment.
"This is nice."
"It is."
A sound of footsteps was heard and Rose came around the corner with a happy smile on her face. Then she squeaked as the princess saw Tyler and her mother on the bench. Tyler smiled.
"Hiya Rose. Got room for one more."
Iris smirked.
"I'll go bother Sheria."
Rose blushed.
"She's sleeping."
"I'll go surprise her then."
She left and Rose was left alone with the hero. Tyler smiled at the suddenly nervous girl.
"I don't bite."
That made her smile nervously as she sat across from him on the bench.
"Kinda nerve racking being alone with he boy that has made HIS intentions clear."
Tyler chuckled at that.
"I won't jump you till you want it."
She got a look in her blue eyes now.
"I don't have a choice?"
He frowned.
"What do you mean?"
She looked him in the eye.
"I don't get to choose who I want to get jumped by?"
"You want me to stop I will."
That made her blink.
"Just like that?"
He smiled.
"Just. Like. That. I may want you, but you don't HAVE to go with it. You don't want it, just say so."
"Why ARE you so fixated on me? You already got my mother."
"iris is fun. You? I got no clue. I know I want you, but got no clue WHY."
She was taken aback by that forthright answer.
"Sooo I'm just a conquest?"
"I wouldn't go that far. You....fascinate me for lack of a better way to put it."
That made the red head frown the harder.
" I'm an exotic animal you've never seen before?"
He swayed back and forth a bit as he pondered the thought.
"Yes and no. I've never seen a girl pretty as you are so there's that. But the other part? I've never met anyone as sweet, gentle and just outright nice as you are. Sheria's close, but she's more like me then she thinks. And you've seen how I am by now. I'm a heartless bastard that thinks mercy onlys comes in a can. yet I hear you get birds outright snugglin you on sight."
rose blushed inspite of the heavy conversation due to the complement but kept her train of thought.
"You thinking opposites?"
"For lack of a better way to explain it. I like oyu, and I want to be with you. That's good enough for now."
"Are you not interested in understanding why?"
HE shrugged.
"Might seem odd to you, but I don't really care why. All I need to know is I do."
Rose leaned against the wall behind her as she disgested that one. Then she looked at him.
"If I say wanted another?"
"I'd say good luck. You don't HAVE to let me have you, Rose. Understand that point FIRST. I may be after your heart, but it is YOURS to give."
She smiled at that thought.
"I love the sentiment behind that."
Then she sighed and he blinked.
"Is there something I need to know?"
The princess nodded.
"I was promised to another prince already by father when I come of age."
Tyler looked at her intensenly now.
"Do you want to?"
She blinked,
"It's my duty-"
"I don't care what your duty is. Do you want to? Yes or no."
The princess scooted closer to him and leaned into hi8s ear.
"No. He's a monster."
"Good. I can kill him without question."
Oooh she JUMPED! The now shocked princess looked at Tyler in utter shock.
Her voice a mere whisper as Tyler smiled.
"If he tries to FORCE you, Rose, I'll tkae his fuckin head off. Understand this: I may be a Hero, but do not think for a second I am bound by the rules. I do NOT care. I do NOT show mercy. And I do NOT need the people to even LIKE me. Push comes to shove they can fuck right off. You're in MY pack now. To get to you, they. Have to get. Through me. And I DARE them to try."
She was breathing hard at that vow.
"You could start a war!"
"Not my problem. My friend gets into trouble, I WILL get them out."
Rose was shaking at that one and he smiled.
"Besides. I'm kinda owed a few favors. From emberis and beyond. He pushes it, well, I'll pull his tab."
The girl looked at him in confusion.
"What the hell does he owe you for?"
"The very fact you're here for one, Rose. The Great Road, plus my continued assistence to the crown. He saw me for what I am right there in the fucking throne room. I think you were there too, but not entirely sure."
"What do you mean, you for what you are?"
"I am NOTHING'S servant, Rose. NOTHING an no ONE, besides sheria. Emberis hit the nail on the head when he called me a Wolf and said I was SORTA under his thumb. I serve no one. And he KNOWS it."
Rose looekd down now.
"So if he were to turn on you,"
"I'd cut him down without even blinking."
"Even after all he's done for you?"
"I'll tell you one of my favorite sayings, Rose."
His eyes went ice cold and his like a hammer pounding steel.
"I do not care who you areor what you have done for me, if you EVER come to pose a threat to me or the ones I love, then I WILL take you apart."
She was shaking at the force of his bared will and he blinked the ice out of his eyes. Then the red head sighed.
"Are you REALLY willing to start a war over one girl?"
"I'd set the world on fire to protect a friend."
That made her smile on reflex.
"It's all for your friends."
"I grew up alone. So I'm willing to go that much further to protect the ones I have."
Rose looked out the window at the landscape now.
"I can respect that. But, the whole reason my father agreed to the marriage was to avoid a war while the waves were going on."
"So what you're saying is he used his only daughter as a mere bargining chip. Yeah. He on my shitlist now."
That made her round on him in a fury.
"And what WOULD you have done? We were facing an invasion from Elfhein and they border us on three sides with the sea at our backs! Plus are more then triple our size!"
Tyler smiled widely.
"Me? I'd have taken the fight to em. There some lines you just don't cross, Rose. Selling out the ones you claim to love the most is one of them."
She glared at him.
"You'd have gotten your entire country killed."
"There are fates worse then death Rose. remember that FIRST. Next. No I WOULDN'T. I've seen Elfhein on the map. So. I know for a fact the ONLY way they'd beat Druala with ME at the helm is overwhelming numbers. Three sides? Not even. Two of those sides are easily cut off, and the kicker? L:ook."
Tyler unrolled his map out and showed the ends of the horseshoe that made up the country of Elfhein. Rose was gritting her teeth as she tried to see what he meant.
"See how the ends of their country wrap around ours? Have shock troops hit them here, here, here, and seal this mountain pass. Do it right qand bam. they just lost close to three quarters of their advantage. Now the only way into the country with troops is air transport and this single stretch of land. Plug the gap with shielders that KNOW how to shield, and nothing can get through so long as the air support is kept off. All the while send in small teams of four to five behind the lines to sabotage enemy infrastructure and make life miserable for enemy morale. A tried and true method would to steal enemy uniforms and attack dissident factions in the enemy homeland under the guise of orders from the top. Done right they'd lose even more faith from their people. Turn the swift victory they'd go for into a war of attrition that would cost millions of lives a day and not even a country that size would do so willingly."
Rose was gaping at him as he laid his on the fly military strategy to preemptively strike, halt and drag downt he advance, and even WIN the war. All from looking at a map. Then she hung her head.
"I see Father needs to learn from you."
Tyler shrugged as he put the map away.
"He knows I'm the best at this. Why else would he have you come with us?"
Rose sniffed now.
"So, you're willing to back me to the extent of starting a war, just to keep me from marrying someone I don't want to."
"That's the size of it. Fact I'm a hero means I have more weight to throw."
"And with all you've been doing plus just WHAT you are,"
"Means he'd have to be out of his mind to actually oppose me."
"And if Elfhein attacks."
"I can filter my plan to Emberis. Since these methods are foolproof, he'd win with minimal loss of life on our side and maximum destruction on theirs."
Rose looked up at him with a strange look in her blue eyes.
"all this, just for me."
He pated her on her shoulder fondly.
"For my FRIEND, Rose. And because I WANT to."
She grabbed him in a massive hug that she nearly strangled him with. He smiled as he stroked her flame colored hair soothingly as she recovered form her intense emotions. Then she pulled back smiling sheepishly.
"I...have a confession."
Now he leaned against the wall as she played with her hair with a DEFINITE set of nerves.
"I...lied. About the war. And the backed against the wall."
"HA. Wow."
"I did not expect that."
Iris came walking around the corner with an impressed grin on her face to sit by her daughter. Tyler shrugged smiling.
"Gotta love that tagteam."
Iris laughed as she sat beside her daughter.
"When it became clear what you were after with Rose, we three, me, her and emberis wanted to test you. Harshly. To see just how intense you wanted her. The entirety of her conversation besides the marriage, which IS real mind you, was lies to see how far you're prepared to go for her hand. I did NOT expect a full war strategy on the fly like that or now itsounds feasable!"
Tyler smiled as he looked at the queen
"The marriage?"
"To a prince of another country"
Rose looked away and Tyler looekd at her.
"You still don't want to."
iris blinked.
"Ummm. Rose?"
The girl looked at her mother.
"I DIDN'T lie, Mother. Vericka is a monster."
The woman was stunned by this.
"Why didn't you SAY anything?"
"How could I? Would you have listened? When you were gushing over it like you BOTH were?"
Iris hugged the girl tightly now.
"I'm sorry, Rose. I forgot to teach you the lesson of putting your foot down."
Tyler perked up now.|
"Say his name again, Rose."
She blinked at the odd request, but did so.
"Umm. Okay. His name's Vericka. He's-"
"His freaking NAME is setting off my gut. Yikes."
Iris was shaking as she asked the question.
"Rose. Tell us."
The girl shuddered.
"I'm still pure thank the gods. But I can't say the same for the harem of enslaved girls he keeps as pets to play with as the mood takes him. Some are younger then Sheria! Iw as there on a visit and he was using one of them the entire time we were together. He kept saying how great it was going to be to add ME to his collection of toys. Then he got bored with the bleeding girl he had and dragged a fresh one into another room by her hair. I can still hear her screams and his moaning. Yeah. THAT is you were ready to sell me off to."
Tyler sighed deeply.
"I know that type. when he visiting here next?"
Iris had a single tear fall as she replied.
"He's to visit the country in a week's time."
"Well. He'll have an accident."
Rose and Iris blinked.
"You're going to kill him?"
"Yup. You MY princess Rose. Heh. Bastard thinks he can do that type shit to you, not on my watch."
Rose hugged him again and Iris smiled.
"Thank you."
"Thank me when he's a corpse."
"I will."
Iris kissed him.
"We've made a most wonderful friend in you, Tyler. Thank you. And we're sorry we keep farming our problems out to you."
"I look out for my own, Iris. And I think this just ties into the rot problem I'm working on."
"I see you're reasoning and agree."
"we'll clean it up right."
The hero then leaned against the wall looking to the floating airport.
"Hmm. Dragil's clean and I'm kinda tired of this city to be perfectly honest. we'll mostly be doing the same thing each day till Fenrir gets her fangs back."
Iris smiled as she looked out the window.
"We'll get moving soon enough. It'llbe fun to fly with you all."
"Thing's got a bed for three."
"I am aching already."
Rose blushed at the image before smiling.
"What'll we do in the meantime? Hit the dungeons?"
"That, and maybe do some hunting around the area. be amazed what you can find when y9ou look."
That got a sagely nod from the pair as he looked at the sky.
"We'll raid the two dungeons again and call it a day."
Iris smiled at that and left to tell the others as Rose looked at Tyler.
"Are you still after my key?"
"Yup. is that okay?"
She smiled.
"Since you asked, feel free to try."
"Sure, my princess."
She shivered at the way he made it sound before smiling.
"You're good."
He chuckled as the rest of the party came over. Sheria walking right over to take her seat on Tyler's lap like a cat of a supervillian. The hero smiled,
"Let's hit the undead again."
Thorn smiled widely.
The raid went without a hitch even when the boss turned out to be a greater wight with a scythe. They made 753,453 dragoons off the chest and close to 156,238 off flood loot. Tyler smiled as he looked at the party.
"Let's hit the orcs before the divvy."
That got a laugh as even Spark was enjoying the rampaging as they were met by a mob of Oricah this time. Them being 6 feet tall with jet black skin and a nasty temper. They made a fortune from the loot chest as it had 1,235,897 dragoons alone inside it with them finding a few secret rooms netting them a further 598,977 dragoons and some spells. Tyler played calculator in Gilindria's chamber as the usual.
"We can take a breather the next two days. Let Marvin get some progress with what we've given him and see where we are for time tillthe wave."
Thorn smiled.
"That would be a wise call, Tyler. We've kinda been overdoing it hard these last few days."
"I make a deal I keep it."
"Good mindset."
"All together we got 3,878,655 dragoons. Wow. we kinda went hard this round. Okay. That divided by two nets the party 1,939,327 with one extra coin to our shares. Easier math the better. That nets us 242,416 each."
The shares were taken and Tyler laid out the five spells they found. Tyler spotting one he liked.
"Earth Shatter. Makes the ground in a twenty foot radius shatter like glass. Creates a hole 5 feet deep. Upgradeable. Nasty. I can so use that."
Winter smiled.
"Combine that with my water magic."
"And Iris' flame? instant hotspring nearly anywhere."
That got a laugh from the ladies as he added the spell. The rest were divvyed as he did the math again.
"We gave marvin 8,650,000 dragoons and we're shooting for ten. So, we'll give him an extra 1,350,000. That we can pay from party coin for once and relax till the ship is set. Any questions?"
Sheria perked up.
"Where we going after big brother?"
Tyler unrolled the map and looked at the four port cities.
"Iris, which city in your opinion is the DIRTIEST?"
She frowned and pointed to one on the far shore.
"Dagin. The largest port city in Druala. It has merchant trains, sea trade and ten, okay? TEN, airports. Emberis hasn't seen an accurate profit and loss report in close to three years. Sadly with the waves acting up he can't handle it the way he'd like."
"A man by the name of Talic Dolictin. He's the current baron of the sea city. I've met with him many times and every time I had to keep one hand on a hidden dagger as i felt he'd attack me when I turned my back."
"I'll start with him. We've the power to handle an entire guard if we have to, especially with my Snow priestess here."
Winter smiled.
"Dagin has FOUR Homes in the city, Tyler. So we can count on them for support after Tolas' visit."
"If we CAN'T even AFTER?"
She frowned hard.
"If Mother STILL hasn't learned her lesson after father visits, and I have to call to him a second time in such short time, he takes Home over himself. And it is NEVER a good thing when he does. i will be safe as I'm doing work he WANTS us to, plus was the one that opened his eyes the first time, but for every other Snow priestess? he becomes a VERY stern and strict Snow to remind them of their place."
"we start with the leader and check the Snow. if we have to call him TWICE in however mkany weeks, then his snow is mere water at that point."
"I could not agree more."
Tyler put an X on Dagin.
"we have our target. We'll get the ports secured for normal people again and move inland, pushing the rot towards the Elfhein border. if we leave a city and it starts rotting again, we know the problem is MUCH deeper."
Iris nodded at that as Thorn gauged the distance.
"That trip will take 6 days in the air."
Tyler did the measure from Dagin to Drula.
"That takes 6 days as well. So a twelve day flight. we'll add that to however long the repair job is and see what we got for time to waste cleaning the gutters. best case? we finished Dagin in three days and move to this city of Dajin. A five day flight from Drula and merely a two day flight along the coast."
Bianca tilted her head.
"We're basing this all off the passengar airships. which is fair, but as a rule, birzines are faster then they are. Plus the engines Marvin puts in her? we MIGHT be able to get away with a three day flight. Four max."
"You da expert. we'll drop off our payment and go from there."
The party went to the scrapyard where marvin laughed.
"You REALLY overpaid! She'll be the best work I done or I hang me wrench up!"
Tyler smiled as he handed the pouch over.
"She coming along/"
He chuckled fondly as he patted a panel.
"She's relaxed considerably since I started using her name. me thinks she likes it. Best estiamte is she'll be back in the air in four days. We'll see if she even WANTS to get off the ground when I'm done though. I think she's gotten comfy."
Tyler smirked at the craft.
"What freakin wolf rests on her fangs? We aren't."
There was a low creak by the rack holding the guns up and Marvin blinked.
"I think you made her mad, lad."
"She's a wolf, Marvin. Guess she needed to be reminded she's not a freakin lion."
There was a loud crack as a board holding her gossier ring up snapped as the thing glowed briefly, as if trying to start. Marvin smiled sagely.
"I think she remembered her place. I'll get you fierce again, never you worry."
Tyler patted the nose of the craft,
"Get your fangs back and we'll tear the sky a new asshole."
That made the ring flash hard and the gun too, as if the craft wanted to fire it. Happy with their deal they left the man to his work. Bianca smiled as they walked.
"I think Fenrir has a spirit enchantment."
Tyler looked at her as they rode the lift.
"Spirit enchantment?"
"Some airships have them as it addsjust that much extra potency to her. Think of it as the ship's a live with an actual heart and a will of her own."
"Sounds about right. I guess we got a good ship."
"Only the very best airships or ones people have had for years get one. Then they become just that much more."
The friends got a meal at the tavern and relaxed after a trying two days. Tyler smiled as they went up to the room for the night and Iris licked her lips. winter sighed as she cast a spell to keep their play from being seen OR heard as the hero destroyed his queen's ability to walk without a wobble. Tyler sighed as they recovered after the play and the spell was ended. Iris and him buckassed naked. Rose was looking at them with huge blue eyes and it only got worse as Sheria climbed up onto his chest without her shirt as always. That got a raised eyebrow from Iris and he smiled.
"I'm her favorite mattress."
Sheria giggled.
"He's warm! AND comfy!"
The queen just sighed as she wrapped an arm around the blonde cutie.
"Don't learn from him, Rose."
"Yes mother."
Tyler smiled as he kissed iris again and snuggled Sheria between them.
"Night ladies. Night, Iris."
"Night Tyler."
The boy smiled as he looked at Sheria.
"Night Sparkles. love you."
"Night big brother. Love you too."

DAY 18.
DRAGOONS: PARTY 2,402,123. TYLER: 234,000.
Tyler woke the morning the mornign of the fourth day to see Sheria asleep cradled in the massive breasts of Iris. The blonde cutie sandwiched between them and had loved the feeling of warmth immensely. Tyler smiled as he kissed the beautiful queen awake and she woke with a smile.
"Morning Tyler."
"Morning Iris. Look."
She looked down and smiled wider as she saw Sheria.
"That is too cute. I love her."
The hero huggedthe smaller girl awake.
"i love her too! Mornign sparkles."
She smiled as she hugged her big brother.
"Morning, big brother. Iris is very comfy to sleep against too!"
"She's got pillows, Sparkles."
"Lovely ones too!"
They laughed as iris got a warm hug from the topless girl before they got out of bed to clean and get dressed. The trio eaded down for breakfast and to wait for the rest of the party. Tyler smiled as sheria sat in his lap and hugged the bundle of joy. She hummed happily as the rest of the party came down the stairs of the Inn to join them. Spark still wearing his usual scowl as he saw the hero while Rose was all smiles as she got a hug from Sheria. Thorn sat across from Tyler and they unrolled the map as Winter and bianca took seats. The party gathered the leader tapped dagin.
"we'll see how Fenrir looks and go from there."
They nodded and had breakfast together before heading to Marvin's scrapyard. They found the big man by a massive covered sheet looking at a piece of paper. he smiled as the party walekd up.
"I was just about to send for a runner."
Tyler looked at the 45 foot long sheet.
"she ready?"
The man's smile became intense.
"ask her yourself."
Tyler smiled.
"Yo fenrir, ya gonna sit there?"
there was a low rumble sas the sheet was blown off the covered craft by the now firing up gossier rings to reveal the now repaired craft. Tyler smiled widely as he saw her. The craft had gone from a battered jet looking thing to a sleek black fighter jet 45 feet long with rear mounted wings that had an upward curve he kinda liked. Her wingspan was close to 30 feet and had blood red spikes on the tips that made him think they were for ramming. Her fuselage was 25 feet wide and stood 15 feet high. her overall profile was a gentle slope from the needle like nose to the ear like back fins where the twin engines which reminded the hero of an F18 superhornet sat. Her gossier rings which kept the craft airborne were glowing a neon blue and were rotating on each otherin a beautiful pattern under the wings of the craft as each were 9 feet wide. Then he noticed her weaponry and it made his grin go even wider as she sported two sets of fixed forward gun barrels in the curves of her wings that had the same caliber as a 50 millimeter cannon and a rotating turret under her fuselage that was more like a ball turret. Tyler noting the caliber of the twin cannon was a solid 50 caliber and on her top was a large ring he knew was for slicing into other ships from below. The entire craft was jet black with the tips of her wings were blood red. He also noticed her wings were folded over her back like a corsair on the flightdeck of an aircraft carrier to save space. He smiled.
"That's more like it."
Marvin nodded sagely.
"She fought me tooth an nail, but she's alright now."
"Total bill?"
"9,423,667 dragoons kid. She was hurt bad."
"Take the remainder as a tip."
"You're a kind and wise lad, but twould insult me honor excepting unearend payment."
Tyler smiled as he took the leftover dragoons.
"Fair enough. Alright. let's get her stocked on food ammo and fuel. I want to be outbound in two hours. You ready to get to work Fenrir?"
The thing's engines rumbled and a ramp dropped from under her belly. Tyler smirked.
"I sure hope so. Bianca's your pilot. And yes I'm going to learn."
The friends boarded the craft to get a look at her interior and they whistled as they saw the improvement. Where her red carpet and seats were torn up ahnd stained, she now had a long lush blue carpet a good four inches thick with a set of seats around a small table by a set of windows on one side of the craft and a full kitchen on the other. All the paneling had been torn out and replaced with a rather homey feeling tan material that added brightness to the inside. Along the roof of the craft was a line of white glowing crystals to provide light that led to the twenty person living quarters. each bunk having a full mattress, curtain and storage compartment under said mattress. Beyond that was the captain's quarters that had a full door sealing it off whereas the others had a mere curtain. Inside the room was a large bunk with room for multiple people and even had a pull down flap for privacy. On the far wall looking out a larger window with a magical view of the view out the cockpit windshield was a desk with all the fixings for planning a trp from a mount mount to slots for reference books and even some sky charts. The bulk of the room was empty floor sapce as tyler had yet to do anythign with it. The colors were again black, blue and tan making the place feel very comfy and welcoming indeed. Next was the facilities for living in the sky. They finding the craft had a large larder that Thorn smiled at.
"we fill that we can stay airborne for two full weeks at a time before a resupply."
The craft even came equipped with a full bathroom and shower that made the girls breath a relieved sigh. Next on the leist was the relaxation areas of the long fuselage. They being small sitting areas with a long couch on either side that reminded Thyler of a limo he'd seen inside of once. Then they reached the cockpit and Bianca smiled.
"Oh she's a fierce one and no mistake. And she don't like fools."
The cockpit glowed a bright neon blue for a second before the large wheel that served as her control was left glowing. On the center oft he ornate wheel was an iamge of an engraved wolf howling at the moon behind it. Tyler smiled widely.
"Fenrir is awesome. Come on. Let's get her in the sky."
Bianca took the wheel as the rest all grabbed seats by her in the spacious cockpit. Sheria gulped as the rings started humming and she started shaking. Tyler hugged the still scared of heights blonde.
"It's okat, Sheria. Fenrir won't let you fall."
She smiled and snuggled into his hug, her shaking stopping.
"I'll trust her big brother. If YOU do."
He hugged her tighter as Marvin was een out the cockpit windshield waving his hands to guide the piolt into the sky. Fenrir's wings unfolded as her rings glowed hard and her engines hummed from their revving.
"How she feel, Bianca?"
The coal skinned piolt smiled widely.
"Oooh she's WILD!"
Tyler smiled at that as she piolted the craft back to dock 4 of the airport with the craft purring nicely. Once she was docked Tyler pulled the list of supplies they were to stock the ship with.
"We'll get her stocked well before we roll out. Sheria with me and we'll go see what Gilindria wanted. rose, Sparky and Iris partner up with Thorn winter and Bianca to get what we need. We got two hours."
They nodded, while spark glared at him for the pet name. Winter perked up.
"I'll stop at Home to get me a Tolas shrine for my offerings and prayers."
"Get what you need. Rose gets a shrine as well."
The flame haired girl smiled as iris looked to the Snow priestess.
"we'll get one for me as well."
"Of course."
Tyler clapped his hands.
"And BREAK."
Sheria hopped up onto his shoulder as Bianca and Spark went for airship fuel, Winter, Rose and Iris went for their shrine needs, and Thorn went to set up a mass food shipment to the ship. Tyler and the blonde went to see Gilindria about their departure. The blonde humming from her spot on his shoulder and he smiled at her undying cheer. They found the blonde leader sitting on her throne as a bounty was claimed by none other then his team. Helan taking payment. Tyler walked up whistling.
"Who'd you bag?"
Gilindria answered.
"A small fish. 15k."
"Huh. Interesting. we're heading out."
She sighed.
"How long?"
"Less an two hours. we're headed west this time."
"I heard. Dagin."
"We got gutters need cleanin."
The blonde leader left her chair to approach the Hero with the cutie on his shoulder.
"I have a title to bestow on you, Hero. Your License."
He passed it over and she kissed it warmly and he saw the new title get added.
"Champion of Dragil. Grants immunity from the guards andpermits the purchase of property in the region and city."
She smiled.
"You are always welcome in my city, Tyler the Wolf."
He smiled as he put it into his pocket.
"we'll be back soon enough. Now what does Sheria get?"
That got a laugh from the room as the blondie balked.
"What he said! I helped too!"
That one had the room fighting for breath at her offended tone. Gilindria hugged the cutie.
"You all got the same title since he's party leader an all."
"Ooooh. Okay. your WELcome!"
They laughed again at her smugness as Tyler patted her leg fondly, elicting a giggle. Then he looked at the lady.
"was that all?"
She nodded smiling.
"It was. I hate men or I'd have you."
"Standards. Keep em high."
The ladies snorted at that one and Tyler said goodbye to the leader before heading with Sheria to help Thorn. They found the ranger looking at a list of goods she'd bought at the local shop and she passed him the bill.
"we're set on food supplies and other needs for the ship. Just need the bill footed."
Tyler nodded as he handed the 350,000 dragoons over.
"We'll load it aboard once it's delivered."
"Good. Bianca's at the airport getting extra fuel secured."
"what's she take/"
"A stone called skydust. Think a cloud but as a rock. Her rings are powered by it as well as her engines. Bianca said her tank's full and on a full tank she can fly for three weeks straight without refueling. She's seeing about a reserve of dust incase of a dry spell."
"Sounds good. I'll go see her. You good?"
"Anything else I need I can pay from my purse."
"Hmm. Should see about a rally whistle or something for when we split up."
"as Winter about those. I think she can make them."
They left the ranger to her task and headed to see the coal skinned girl at the airport. They found her and Spark arguing when they walked up.
"And I'm telling YOU to get over it. Until you prove you can handle that mace the RIGHT way, you ain't touching her wheel."
"I FLEW us here! On a far more advanced craft than THAT thing! I know what the hell I'm doing."
"No you don't. You did you'd know that craft you flew in was on AUTOPILOT a vast majority of the time. Iris TOLD me about your trainor wings, Spark. Get over it."
"issue ladies?"
Bianca sighed as Tyler walked up and Spark glared at him.
"This idiot thinks we'll let hi9m fly Fenrir. I said no. Not until he proves he can handle the ground first."
Tyler nodded and looked at the prince.
"She's being more than fair, spark. You're just a rookie, until you-"
"So ARE you! what the hell do you know? HERO? You're weren't even born here!"
Tyler busted up laughing at his angry outburst.
"Do I need to teach you another lesson?"
Spark pulled his mace.
"I got stronger you sadistic fuck."
"Come on then."
He swung the mace with enraged strength, only for Tyler to grab the haft, kick his knee and yank. The result was the prince getting flipped onto his back with a heavy thud that knocked the wind out of his lungs and left him gasping for air. Tyler snorted.
"and I'M the rookie. Least I know how to hit someone."
Sheria kicked the fighting to recover prince scornfully.
"Idiot. You'll NEVER hit big brother with a blind charge."
Spark got off the floor glaring daggers of hatred at the bigger boy.
"I WILL kill you one day, Tyler the bastard."
"Okay I like that one. And I'll be waiting for the day you actually pose a threat. and Bianca's our only pilot for the time being."
Spark just glared at him as Bianca passed Tyler the bill.
"We got a pretty good deal on 30 pounds of good dust. It only cost us 1,250,000."
Tyler nodded as he passed the payment over.
"We got supplies ready to be loaded. I'll go check on Winter and see when we can get airborne."
"Aye aye Cap'n!"
"HA! I'm getting a pirate hat now!"
Sheria giggled.
"I'm getting an eyepatch!"
"why you wanna cover the sparkles, Sparkles?"
She blushed as she always did when he did that and hugged him hard before they left the duo to their work. Tyler went for the Snow priestess Home with Sheria happily humming on her seat as they walked in to see Winter getting a hug fromt he new Mother of the Home as Rose and iris talked with an older priestess on the side. The white haired girl smiled as he walked up and Mother let her go.
"We got our ship shrines. we paid for them out of our pouches."
"You set?"
She nodded and Rose smiled from her spot.
"I am too. When we land I'll need to visit the Shrine to Aurora on the coast of Dagin. It's a part of my training."
"Sure think fireball."
They laughed at her embarressed squeak as Iris smirked.
"if she's Fireball, what am I?"
He tilted his head,
"HMmm. You? How's......Embers sound?"
That got a chuckle.
"Good enough."
"I like fire."
They laughed at that one as the party left the Home to regroup at the airport. Tyler helping to load the food into the ship alonside the party. Once the ship was loaded they boarded as Helan walked up with the others as Tyler was pulling the ramp up on the craft. Bianca was in the cockpit as the craft lifted from the floating dock to aim towards Dagin. The hero was sitting in the seat beside her watching her fiddle with the controls as the rest of the party all claimed seats arounds the birzine. Bianca smirked as Fenrir bucked under her hands as they picked up speed.
"Oooh, she's BORED!"
Tyler patted a part of the cockpit beside him fondly.
"We see any pirates we'll hit em. Sound good?"
There was a low rumble from the engines and Bianca laughed.
"She LOVES that idea! And we'll most likely get attacked by pirates before we get there. Ships like this are their favorite prey."
"Sounds fun."
Tyler left the pilot to her craft to check on the rest of the party. He finding the far smaller craft rocked and swayed a little in the air compared to the massive passengar ships they were used to. He found Sheria sitting on the right side couch looking out a window with wide eyes and gaping mouth. He smiled as he hugged the blonde cutie.
"You doing okay, sparkles?"
She smiled as she hugged her big brother.
"Yup! I like it!"
He ruffled her hair fondly, making her glow before looking to Iris lounging on the other couch beside them.
"What was the last NEWS report you got from Dagin?"
She waggled her bare feet as he sat beside her.
"The leader there, Talic, makes his reports regularly on the city events, but as of the past few months there has not been a SINGLE mention of the crime in the city. Emberis makes the leaders report on things like jailings, deaths, suicides, robberies and other such crime to get a gauge on the realm and her people. Yet, the reports are all lacking these numbers. We've asked him about it and were met with the line of his guard are good at their job. We knew he was lying, but the waves had our hands tied."
Tyler kissed her and she sighed happily before he replied.
"We'll oust him if I feel he's a bastard."
"Oh he's a monster."
"Then I'll just kill him. Only one on the place we need to really keep an eye on is Sparky there, but that's it."
"I hate you."
The sullen prince's reflex retort made him smirk.
"Get stronger."
ignoring the hate laden glare Tyler turned his attention to Iris.
"Is Talic a mage or warrior?"
"A priest to the lady Calypso, queen ofn the seas."
"Really? Interesting. what of Leviathan?"
There was a low rumble that was felt around the party as Tyler asked the question and iris gulped.
"If you do not want to kill us, do NOT say the Sea Dragoness' name so casually. Calypso is the sea goddess, this be truth, but it's the Sea Dragon that TRULY rules thouse waves as she's actually STRONGER."
"She's a dragon. Comes with the territory. Hmm. I wonder. if the rot is as thick as I THINK it is, then I'm betting the Ocean dragon queen has no idea. or doesn't care. or hasn't noticed. We'll see."
There was a low rumble again, but this time it seemed more....approving as Tyler used the title. Thorn blinked.
"I think she likes that one."
"I got a knack for epic sounding titles. Check it. Stormbinger."
That got another rumble as Thorn whistled.
"Ya got her attention. Please DON'T get us killed by dragon flame."
"Ooooh, I got a goodie! Sea dragon queen."
There was a low wooshing sound and then the sounds of thundering booms they felt in their ears that set the plane to bouncing. Tyler blinked as a holographic image of a woman with blue hair, eyes, skin and razor sharp teeth appeared in the plain. The image was also beautiful with her hair dropping to her ankles and seeming to flat as if underwater while her rack was massive and her groin bald, since she was naked. Tyler blinked and looked out the window to see a massive wing flap gently besiden their craft.
"Oops. This is gonna be great."
The image smirked as he looked back at it.
"How amusing. A Hero unafraid of meeting a dragon avatar."
Her voice was warm, thick, and sounded like ocean waes at sea. Tyler shrugged.
"You can kill us with a mere wingflap. We can't scratch you RIGHT NOW, so you know. No use worrying about something we got no control over."
His silent declaration made the dragon avatar's eyes flash and she bared her teeth in an eager smile.
"Do my ears decieve me? Are you ACTUALLY intending to challenge me?"
"Sooner or later. You or some other dragon sometime down the line when's it actually a FIGHT, and not just an execution."
The avatar smiled widely at this futrue challenge.
"It has been ages since anyone, hero or not, was possessed of thefire you carry human runt. Most interesting. Now. The reason for YOUR audience I granted. These titles ring in my ears and light a fire in my belly I have not felt in a millenia. And the fact you so casually spoke my true name like I told youit myself? Curious. Most curious indeed."
Tyler smirked.
"What else would a sea dragon be called?"
"I've seen your world. and that is a very fair point. Yet, you still know my name without my consent. How do we address this slight?"
"Call it an overly creepy fanboy."
She blinked at THAT cocky reply. Then snorted.
"Oh you think you flatter a dragon?"
"Always go for the ago boost. Seems the best option."
"Ohhh I LIKE you."
"Oh shit."
That got a round of gut busting laughter from EVERYONE, dragon included, at his suddenly fearful tone and the gulp he took as the dragon avatar had to FIGHT her humor at the sight before her. Then she grinned widely as Tyler's eyes flickered to the flapping wing outside the window.
"You are a most amusing human, Tyler the Wolf. Be assured I am NOT interested in a mere human sword."
"Oh thank GOD. Dragon sex seems a one way ticket."
She laughed at the image that one conjured while his friends all looked at each other in mild horror at the images THEIR minds conjured. Then the avater smirked.
"Your humor is most entertaining, Human. I'll allow your knowledge of my name to remain. So long as you do NOT speak it so0 casually again. Do we understand each other?"
"Sure. What ELSE am I to call you then?"
"I am also know as Orisis."
"Huh. I'd a thought that'd be a sky dragon name."
She sighed deeply.
"They're idiots."
"fair enough. Thanks Orisis."
"I am watch you now, human."
"Enjoy the free shows."
That made her snort as the image faded and the wing was seen withdrawing and the wooshing heard as the dragon left. Tyler smiled as his friends looked at him in shock.
"So THAT'S dragon. Interesting."
Sheria giggled.
"See? Big brother's AWESOME!"
The group just sighed hard and decided to go with it. Tyler looked at iris and she smiled.
"What were we talking about?"
"Dagin and Talic."
"Oh yeah. His crime reports just stopped and Emberis wanted answers but got stonewalled at every turn."
He kissed her again and she shivered. Then smiled.
"We'll poke the nest a few times and see what falls out."
He left the queen to her now aroused relaxation and headed to the back of the plane were he foudn Rose sitting in a small cubby 2with a wide window looking at the passing landscape. She smiled as he sat across from her.
"I see you're still active."
He smiled at the beautiful princess.
"Can you blame me? You hot."
She blushed at the two way complement before smiling fondly.
"I like the idea. of you pursuing me that is."
He looked out the window and smiled.
"I like it too. And I am most hopeful I get to catch you."
That got a happy sigh from the flame haired girl as she looked out the window as well.
"It would be nice, having a hero as my own."
"Just don't make it easy."
"Oh no, my dear hero, if you want MY key, you'llhave to preform some truly spectaular feat in my honor!"
he smirked at her teasing tone now.
"I got ways. Would you like to try one?"
Her blush made her go tomato red with a bemused smile at THAT forward attack. Then she smiled wider.
"Nothing dirty. You need to work for that!"
"I got somethin. Come take a seat here, please."
Curious thye princess took a seat beside him looking out the window and he had her turn her back.
"Now relax."
She blinked and did as she was requested, only to squeak as he undid her long fire colored hair to run a comb she did not know he had through her flaming lockes with a gentle firmness that made her smile.
"You do hair?"
"Only for MY girl. I like to spoil."
"I like it."
She closed her eyes and relaxed to the feeling of him slowly draggin the comb through her long hair until he spoke up again.
"Alright. That should do it."
She opened her eyes curiously and looked into a nearby mirror, only to gasp in utter shock. her flame colored hair had been combed to a sleek straightn ess that when she moved made it shimmer liek she had strands of reddish gold on her head instead of hair. That added to her natural good looks made her that much more the flaming beauty and she smiled proudly as she did a twirl that added a burning aspect to her look. He smiled widely as he saw her happy smile.
"Like it?"
She hugged him warmly.
"I LOVE it! Thank you! That's it. YOU'RE doing my hair when I have appearences to make!"
"of course, MY princess. Now go show off."
That made her smile as she walked to go show her look off. Tyler counted down on his fingers,
There was a mass of gasps and awed awws as the other girls saw Rose's beautiful hair. Then Iris poked her head around the corner to smirk at him.
"Good one! She looks beautiful!"
Tyler smiled.
"That's hers, yours, and Sheria's gimmick, iris."
"Lucky US."
She ducked away as Thorn appeared next with a knowing smile on her face.
"Well played you wily bastard. VERY well played."
Sheria came in and glared at him.
"And WHY haven't you down that for me?"
"wanted to surprise Rose first. But, your turn."
"Yay! FORgiven!"
"You lucky you cute or I'd get mad. Come here Sparkles."
She hopped up onto his lap and happily hummed as he ran the comb through her golden strands. Her hair was far thicker then Rose's silky strands, but he was happy with the results when he finished. Her golden lockes had been combed to a shining straightness that made her look like she WAS wearing gold. he hugged her as she gasped.
"I love it big brother!"
"I love you too, Sheria. Now go make Rose jealous!"
She hopped down and walked to go show off. the awe starting nearly immediately as the ladies were all blown away by Sheria's golden good looks. Tyler smiled as his little sister was showered in praise for her golden lockes as he looked out the window. we got a while aboard Fenrir before we hit Dagin. Be kinda fun to roast a few pirate ships along the way. The warrior smiled as he rejoined the girls and Sheria was seen in Iris' lap with the queen's arms around ehr waist. He sat on a long couch and noted Thorn was had stripped to a tiger print gown of thin material that showed off her orange and white cat fur and her long tail. she smirked as he noticed.
"Nope. Sorry!"
"damned cats. Keepin the best things for themselves."
His grumble got a chuckle from the group and a smug smirk from Spark.
"I got to sleep with her. She's great."
Oooooh Thorn HIT the idiot! Like a full wind up and slug to the jaw that left him with a shattered mouth. The catgirl ranger had a look of disgusted anger on her face now.
"Do NOT speak of a lady like that young Spark. NOT when it be a lie or a halftruth. NEVER speak such words to me or another lady again or you will be THROWN off this ship."
Tyler sat up now and looked at the hatefully glaring boy on the floor.
"Iris. I'm gonna have to ask you to leave."
The queen and her daughter shivered at the look in his eye and Winter nodded gravely.
"Indeed. Somethings only a man can teach a boy. This is one of them."
Sheria hopped off the queen's lap and sat by Thorn on the other side as Iris and Rose went into the sound proofed bedroom. Spark had a potion splashed on him before Tyler grabbed the spluttering prince by the throat and lifted him into the air./
"YOU BRAG ALL THE FUCKING TIME! I DID get to sleep with her! YOU SAW ME1"
"It's called. Cuddles. The way you said it. Made it sound like you BEDDED her. There is a difference."
Spark was a good foot off the ground now and he glared hate at the man holding him.
"I DID bed her! It's same damn thing! we slept in a bed, so bedded."
Tyler tilted his head at that one and Thorn smirked.
"To a degree he's NOT wrong."
"True. But a lesson DOES need to be taught here."
Winter smiled at that.
"Respect the ladies, Spark. And watch how you word things or it will only hurt."
Spark snorted as he was tossed to the floor.
"Whatever. I got to sleep with a nekosian ranger ont he first day we met. And if I remember right THAT'S the marriage rite for them."
Tyler frozeand so did Thorn. The warrior looked at her and she too had a dumfounded expression onher face.
She shrugged, utterly confused.
"He's not WRONG. In Nekosian culture, if the woman shares the bed with a man, it's considered an act of marriage. same time it has to be mutual."
Spark smirked.
"No it doesn't. Not if I grab your tail."
An unsettling silence fell over the airship and Thorn looked at the warrior with a mild fear in her eyes.
"Tyler. If he touched my tail as I slept, which IS the REAL marriage rite, kill him."
The warrior had a look of VERY scary calm on his face now.
"How do we check?"
Thorn pulled her tail around as Winter sat beside her.
"I test my fur with a racial ability. If it glows white, I'm safe. Any other color and it means I was married and the one that I married will glow. And I only have ONE I married and that's Erice."
"So at least you know a quality elf."
She smiled at that. Then shivered.
The catgirl ranger gloweda deep blue and Tyler had a razor eye on Spark for even a HINT of a blue glow and Thorn let out a massive sigh of relief as he DIDN'T glow as she let the spell fade.
"Thank the fur. Erice will know what that meant and I'll use her key later."
Tyler kicked Spark to the floor again and the prince sputtered.
The warrior smirked and looked at the ranger.
"That marriage rite have fine print?"
She smiled.
"It does. I have to either gift my tail to the one I love in bed, have my tail be stroked in bed, or be gifted a cat-s eye agate gem of purity for the rite to take effect."
"I see why you're okay. It has to be a CONSCIOUS act. Like say a full rape or forced seduction. Simply petting the sexy cat in her sleep won't cut it."
She deflated from relief and he looked at Winter.
"One purify please. Just in case."
The Snow priestess smiled as she lifted her staff.
"frozen Shatter."
Spark was encased in a ice coffin and when it shattered he was still sputtering.
"I got CHEATED!"
"Yup. Seems his heart went dark."
Thorn nodded as she got dressed.
"It would appear so. Master always said the reason I am such a good person after my break was because I WASN'T broken. Not truly. I merely broke free of my inhibitions that prevented me from fighting back. It would appear SPARK was a dark hearted boy under all that kindness."
Tyler sighed as he pulled his longsword.
"I still find it hard to believe he's Iris' kid. I mean look at Rose. She's a healer in a KINDESS temple for fuck's sake! If ANYONE here has a pass to be a timid mouse it's her. And yet she's got the same grit as Sheria. Albiet when we first FOUND Sparkles, but still. That girl is learning well and is a very kindhearted soul at the other side."
He looked at Spark with contempt.
"THIS guy. Is a damned coward. Sneak attacks, LYING ABOUT BEDDING A WOMAN, trying to FORCE her into marriage, and just nasty. Like what the hell? Sibling personalities aren't USUALLY that severely different......ooooooohh."
A lightbulb went off and he looked at the pinned boy anew.
"I wonder. Hey Winter. You have a way to find out if this prick actually IS Iris' son?"
The white haired girl blinked and so did Thorn. Winter answered first.
"Um. I do. But. Consult her first."
He nodded and Sheria hopped off her seat to skip over to the door and poked her head in.
"Iry! Big brother found another one!"
He snorted at her cheery tone.
"Nice, Sparkles. REEEEEAL nice."
Iris and Rose came out and Thorn brought them up to speed. The red haired queenw as appalled once she heard the tale.
"He tried to FORCE your marriage? While you were SLEEPING? No. Just no."
The angry mother looked at the boy on the floor under Tyler's foot.
"No. I will not have such a cruel boy in MY family. TYler. Call Emberis."
"About that."
She blinked as he looked at her now.
"You...have a better idea?"
"Is he REALLY your kid, Iris? Look me in the eye and tell me."
THat one made her frown.
"He is."
She looked him in the eye.
"I gave birth to him myself. And Emberis is his father. Why such a question?"
Tyler looked deep into her ice blue eyes and found no lie.
"I asked because of just how different him and Rose are. Lady. That girl is in a HEALING AND KINDNESS TEMPLE. One that is known for being gentle souls. Yet SHE has more of a spine then HIM? I had expected ROSE to be the harder to train due to her gentle heart. But NOPE. That girl is holding her own like Sheria did when we found her. THIS guy."
He kicked Spark again.
"This FUCKING guy. is a coward. Think about it. He hasn't done a SINGLE honest thing the entire time we've been together. Hiding behind me and you, nearly getting Winter killed, sneak attacks, attempted to be cruel jabs, trying to FORCE Thorn into marriage. Is he he TRULY your son?"
Iris frowned hard now as she looked at the boy.
"His personality was always more reserved then Rose and he DID wheedle a lot. I just believed it his upbringing."
"We checked for a doppel and a demon. No dice. Winter has a spell to see if he's really your son as you claim."
Rose frowned.
"Is the difference that severe?"
"it is. Oh my6 gods it is. I trust YOU, a priestess of kindess, gentleness and healing, to watch my back a lot more then HIM. A trainee in the guard. If ANYONE here is to be expected to be a timid mouse, it's you."
The princess had a frown on her face as Iris sighed.
"So be it. I...find this unsettling. Lady snow. do it."
Winter lifted her staff.
Rose and Iris glowed a bright red and it matched perfectly. Spark glowed a darker marroon and Tyler frowned at the colors. Iris did too as the glow stopped.
"marroon to fire red. Winter?"
She nodded gravely.
"Spark is NOT Iris' son. They share a bloodline, but he is NOT of her womb. Your highness. We need to visit Home for this matter."
The shaken queen nodded.
"Indeed, Priestess. I need answers. But. In the meantime?"
Tyler smirked and looked at Spark.
"So it would seem SOMEONE needs another lesson. And this time. Thorn?"
The ranger smiled warmly.
"Appreicated. I will use my Masters methods. They're similar. But.m Well. I'm a ranger."
She dragged the blustering boy to a sound proofed cabin and Tyler held Iris tightly.
"Someone LIED to me."
"We'll figure it out. Okay? ya got Rose. She's the better kid."
That made her smirk before grabbing the tall man tightly.
"Thank you."
"I got you. We'll figure it out and see who he belongs to."
Rose shivered at the implications.
"Spark is not my brother."
"And Sheria's your sister."
The blonde took the hint to grab the smiling red head in a round of hugdeath.
"I'm better!"
Tyler smiled at that truth before Iris sat down on the couch.
"I need a drink."
"We ALL need a drink. For now we'll let Thorn get her satisfaction."
Winter smiled as he sat beside her.
"Ranger training is extremely harsh and grueling. But. It does produce results."
The Wolf shrugged as the door the pair had gone into remained motionless.
"Thorn's tough. We know."
They laughed at that as they relaxed. A few hours later Thorn walked out smiling with satisfaction while Spark was left on the floor shaking.
"Better. You WILL learn this lesson. DO NOT insult me honor like that again."
"Yes Mistress."
Tyler smiled as the sexy ranger sat beside him.
"So what DID you do?"
"Ha. I used a spell to make him experience his deepest nightmares as phyisical pain. And I got to watch. Wanna know what it is?"
The ranger laughed.
"It's YOU when you're angry Tyler. seems that scares him more then anything in this world!"
"wait. Just being ANGRY?"
"at HIM. Seems he admires your strength to a most intense extreme."
The warrior looked at the trembling Spark curiously.
"Huh. Ya don't say? Yo sparky. How the fuck you think you gonna get to be like me, if you're a fucking coward? Grow a spine and be like Rose and you'll get somewhere."
The flame haired guy stopped shakingand forced his battered frame off the floor to lay on a couch. Not a word was spoken. Iris smiled as she saw this.
"So it seems he DOES listen."
Tyler chuckled.
"I get the feeling he just needed another kick in the ass. He'll be fine."
Thorn nodded as her long tail flicked him.
"Plus he lied about touching my tail. Seems he wanted to rattle you and I seemed the safest bet."
"I can see that. He goes after Bianca she'd spatter em with her hammer, he went after Winter she'd freeze him solid as a reflex."
"And he went after SHERIA I'd dump em in a goblin camp naked and paralyzed. Rose is his sister and he'd have to be a REAL freak to go after his own mother.m So yeah. Ha. You at least would WAKE us before beating the crap outta him."
Sheria climbed up onto his lap and he hugged her tightly. She smiled at the affection before he looked out a window and saw the sun going down.
"Alright. Spark gets a couch. I'll go see Bianca and see if she needs a relief."
He passed the giggling Sheria to Thorn and the happy blonde got right into her snuggle. The tall warrior went to the cockpit and he found the coal skinned girl deftly manipulating Fenrir's controls. She smiled as he poked his head in.
"I'm good. Fenrir can fly herself for a few hours before she'd need a hand on her wheel. I got the room there."
"I'll eat with her. Thanks though."
He smiled.
"Sure Bianca. Anything on the scope?"
"Nothing interesting at least. That changes Fenrir'll let us know."
"Thanks Bianca."
She smiled and he went to the inflight kitchens where the group minus Spark all sat around a counter. The man looked at the mass of stores and smiled as he remembered something.
"Ha. I'll show ya something."
Sheria gulped!
"You poison us big brother, I WILL beat you."
"Love you too, Sparkles."
He took some of the tyrant meat from the magical freezer before using a clean dagger to completely mince it into mush. Afterwards he placed the disk shaped meat into a frying pan with a fan to funnel the steam from the diner area while the now curious girls all watched him sprinkle some diced onions into the mixture. Winter looked at Thorn as he flipped the darkened meat.
"Thorn? What is he making?"
"I dunno. And some reason that is scaring me."
He chuckled as he took a loaf of bread from the pantry and cut the thing into slabs of the stuff before he took a familar yellow and red set of condiments and sprinkled a small spiral around a piece of bread. Once happy he set the sizzling patties onto the buns and slid them to the girls.
"I give you. The tyrant burger. Enjoy."
Sheria looked at Winter with huge blue eyes.
"May Tolas protect our tongues."
The group busted up laughing at her adorableness and the blonde took the first bite. Her blue eyes lit up like lights at the crunch and juices.
"Oh my GODS! I love it!"
And liek magic the burgers vanished as Tyler made himself a pair.
"In my world these were something I learned to make. I can make a few things. Nothing crazy. And should see how they are with BACON."
The girls all had looks of loning now and Thorn smiled.
"Now I'm interested. Try it out tomorrow. we HAVE bacon."
"Sure. I'd make some for Spark and Bianca, but they don't keep for long sadly."
He made some preminced patties for tomorrow and Iris smiled.
"A man that cooks for his lover. A VERY rare thing."
"I got a few tricks left, Iris. I'll try out a few sweets once we're back on the ground."
Sheria glared at him now.
"Hmmm. does the term brownie, mean anything to you?"
She shook her blonde head with a fierce look in her eyes.
He chuckled knowingly as he looked at Thorn.
"I'll make a list of ingreidents. My grandmother taught me a few from scratch recipes and most are rather easily to find. I just need some chocolate chips."
Iris smiled warmly.
"Oh i know what you mean. They're very cheap and plentiful too."
"Oh. Cool."
He made a list of scratch ingriedants and the ranger smiled widely.
"I know all of these. And they are VERRRRY cheap. 50 dragoons. TOPS."
"We'll load up once we're done with Dagin."
sheria had a look of thunder on her face.
"Think a cross between moist cake and soft cookie. and solid chocolate."
The blonde reached over the counter and GRABBED the idiot by the collar and looked him dead in the eye with FURY in her blues.
"WHY are we just finding this oiut?"
He smiled at her adorable fury.
"I was PLANNING to surprise you."
"Oh. Yay!"
And like a flipping a lightswitch Sheria was back to happily glowing. Winter and Thorn whistled.
"She even learned his mood swings. Uh-oh."
He chuckled.
"Now she just needs to learn how to be a ladykiller-"
The warrior was nearly deafened by the en mass retort from all but a giggling Sheria. He chuckled as the blonde girl smiled sweetly.
"I'll be an even BETTER ladykiller!"
"Atta girl."
He got slapped by all but Rose and Iris looked at her in pain.
"Sweetie. Please? for the sake of our sanity? Please DON'T turn out like him. Please?"
The red haired princess smiled sweetly.
"I want to be as FIERCE!"
"Atta girl Tinder."
she blushed and Iris slumped.
"Oooh my ACCCCCHING soul."
The friends cleaned up after dinner and Tyler went to the captain's room with Sheria and Iris. The queen smiled warmly as they laid in the large alcove bed.
"She's already learning. Good for her."
He kissed her lovingly as they changed for bed.
"I gotchya."
She shivered and then smiled.
"I am so happy you here. Thank you."
sheria was topless in the bunk and Tyler laid beside her. The cuddly blonde was quick to take her spot on his chest and he held her tightly as Iris snuggled up beside the siblings.
"Night Iris. Night Sparkles. Love you."
"Night iry! Night big brother! Love you too!"
"Night you two."

DAY 19.
DRAGOONS: PARTY: 1,378,456. TYLER: 234,000

Tyler woke to see Sheria asleep on his chest as usual and on his side was iris. He smiled as he hugged his little sister awake and she giggled at the contact.
"Morning big brother!"
"Morning Sparkles!"
She giggled as he tickled her side before hugging her tightly. He kissed Iris awake and the red head smiled warmly as she opened her blue eyes tosee the siblings playing first thing in the morning.
Sheria blushed as she was still shirtless like he was but had a happy smile as he held her.
"Come on, Sparkles. Let;s get cleaned up."
There was an in flight shower and the happy blonde got first clean up with Iris while Tyler checked in with Bianca in the cockpit. He found the coal skinned girl sitting at the wheel and she smiled as he poked his head in.
"All clear captain. Fenrir's a sharp girl. Her nose's clear and so far all systems are green."
He smiled.
"Thanks Bianca. Think you can show me how to fly her today?"
"I can give ya the basics. But not until we're on the ground. I'd be happy to though."
He patted her and headed for his own shower. As he walked he passed the large heart shaped ruby in a golden claw that was Rose's shrine to Aurora the White and he found the red head kneeling before her altar in her underwear glowing faintly white as she offered her prayers. He smiled and left her in peace where he was found by Winter. The Snow Priestess smiled warmly at the faintly glowing alcove she too had her diamond altar.
"Aurora's Light asks prayer every morning before going about your daily activities."
"Ah. Tolas?"
"I am free to wait in the event of the unforseen. But I'll be heading inside next. I must offer thanlks to the Water for allowing me my Ice."
He patted her fondly and took his shower before meeting up with Thorn in the planning side of his quarters. The catgirl ranger smiled as he came over.
"Morning Tyler. So Dagin."
"What's it got for dungeons?"
"A few actually. An open air orckin dungeon, another drake dungeon, a rather rare undead dungeon, and an elemental dungeon."
"Slimes, atronachs, spiritkin like wisps and spriggans."
He looked at the map.
"I want to hit that one, Thorn. I like that spread and we need the practice on other creatures."
"I completely agree. Worst case we clean up Dagin and fly back to Durla forthe wave and pick up where we left off."
"Agreed. We can clean the capital in two days hard rampage since we know it so well."
"Indeed. Now. The first place to look in dagin?"
"We'll start at the smuggler dens. Hit a few and see how badly we rattle people once they hear that HEY! the Wolf Pack's in town!"
She nodded and he noted she was in her tunic.
"Sorry. No ogling for you today."
"Tomorrow. GOTCHYA."
"Arrogant prick."
"Love you too Thorn."
She sighed with a smile.
"Idiot. Spark slept on the couch last night."
"Good. You okay?"
The catgirl hugged him warmly.
"I am. Thank you. Erice understood when I called her and she says it didn't really surprise her he'd try a stunt like that."
He patted her fondly, and loved how soft her ears were.
"I got room if you feel nervous?"
She smirked at layered geninue offer.
"Appreicated. But I'm okay. cuddles sure. Sheria's warm."
"Princess Sparkles."
They chuckled as Bianca's voice came over the intercom.
"Hey Tyler. I got a blip on the scope."
He headed over and the coal skinned girl pointed to a spot out the windshield that was black.
"see that? It's a pirate craft. Range is two miles."
The warrior smiled widely.
"Know what craft it is?"
The pilot smirked.
"An ole Tiram. Lumbering rammer. Fenrir's got the advantage of agility and speed. She's got the advantage of size."
"And if we take her?"
"I'd send word to Dragol and have scavengers collect the remains after we shot her down."
"Alright. They may have captives. Sack up people. Fenrir put your fangs on. we're going pirate huntin!"
The party geared up as the birzine rumbled in excitment. Bianca smiled as she flipped a lever.
"The guns are armed. Tyler take the ball turret as I'll go high. Aim for her stablizers. Thorn. Winter. Take the wing guns and aim for the people. Iris, Rose up here in the forward guns. They lift up and down with a 180 degrees swivel, Sheria you take the rear gun with Spark."
They nodded and Tyler opened the lid to the 5 foot ballturret under the plane. The thing being extremely cramped but he fit in decently enough. It resembling a snowglobe with twin barrels poking from the front and it could rotate 360 degrees and flip 180. Once the lid was secure he was lowered beneath the craft and Bianca's voice was heard ont he radio beside him."
"Lady this thing is giving me flashbacks to a similar turret in my world. DON'T get me shot in the balls?"
"HA. all check."
Sheria's squeak was heard.
"set and cocked!"
"Tyler. There's a slap wiating for you."
"Oh for fucks sake Thorn. That's what it's called when you ready a gun! You cocked the gun!"
The catgirl sighed as the craft tilted on it's wings to engage the pirates.
"I blame you for now it sounded. I'm set."
"I am too."
"Pff. easy."
"I'm good."
Tyler pulled the charging handles on the 50 cal machineguns in his turret as Bianca had the birzine climb. He smiled as he rotated the ball to keep the guns ahead of the now reacting pirate barque. The craft resembling a larger C130 hercules from his world with a ship's hull on the lower half and a full deck on the wings.
"Alright ladies. Lead your shots or you'll miss. Use the line of lead to guide your rounds. aim for the large cyclinders on the wings and any people that seem important."
Bianca smiled.
"In FIRE!"
Tyler pulled the levers and his turret opened up with his rounds tearing into the pirate's with unnerving percision. His targets being the large engines that made the craft fly and since he understood how such turrets worked he had the things bracketed in perfectly while the pirates fired their own guns and weapons at the highly agile birzine. The multiturret dogfighter danced around the gunfire while her own slammed home with effect. Tyler's targeted engine exploded and the slow moving craft came to a halt. Bianca smiled.
"Alright! Good hits Tyler! Ready to board!"
"Two more strafe runs. Aim for the people now."
"Iris, cast a firestorm here."
He peppered a section ofdeck and the fire mage complied. The result was a massive hole being blown in the ship's hull and creating a blindspot for boarding.
"This type a warfare i am the best at. PERIOD."
They did two more passes with their guns before the skilled Bianca landed Fenrir on the far larger deck of the ship. Tyler was out of the birzine first with his longswords howling.
"Tempest! fireshot! Stun! Mist Blast!"
The warrior had the first wave of pirates reeling from the mulitspells while the rest of the party came out.
Sheria's powerful lightning spell sank into the nail lined deck with a dull hum before stunning a good ten pirates,
"Frozen cone!"
And in turn opened the door for Winter's ice spell to freeze them into statues. Iris was weaving between the pirates on the right flank with her cutlass leaving severed heads and limbs behind her.
The fire mage's spell set another ten ablze while Rose banged her staff on the deck.
"All you once knew is no more. CONFUSION!"
And like that the priates were gawking at each other from the powerful mental spell. Tyler whistled as he swung his longswords.
"Scary trick, Rose. I love it. earthen slap!"
A mass of the deck flipped over to flatten another mass of pirates while Bianca had the birzine in an orbit with her own set of guns firing into the packed priates coming out of the cabins. Spark was also aboard ship and was shooting a turret in the wing nearest the deck. Tyler smiled widely as he reached the far side of the deck and the last pirate dropped.
"Search for rats in the nooks. Sheria, Rose with me. rest a you on edge."
Thorn had her shortsword ready as they decended into the craft. The warrior using a scavenged shield to lead the way. Bianca was on overwatch with the birzine in case the pirates tried to escape that way. Sheria was breathing lightly as they walked along a corridor.
"That was fun big brother!"
"We'll do it more then Sparkles."
She giggled and Rose smiled as well.
"I'd like to try my axe on the ground, Tyler."
"sure Rose. And that was a neat trick."
"It's a rare spell and a rather hard one to counter."
The trio moved along the hall until they came to an intersection where they were met by Winter. The snow priestess smiled as she hefted her staff.
"Frozen Sanctity."
a massive dome of chilly white light engulfed the ship and he chuckled.
"Antidoppelganer spell. Smart."
"I too am learning. and clear on this end."
Thorn appeared from further down the hall with her shortsword.
"same. Iris is safe too. I think we got them all. But that doesn't make any sense. Not for a ship his size."
Iris appeared from the far end.
"You might wanna see this."
Tyler took point as the queen led the way through the ship.
"How bad?"
He frowned and the red haired queen led them to a door near the bottom.
"The cargohold. Uh-oh."
The warrior booted it open and Rose tapped her staff, making it light up the darkened interior. The result made them all sigh. The 50,000 square foot cargo hold was lined by rotting corpses and cages that held those cages. There was no smell coming off the corpses and Winter had a look of fury on her face.
"A doppel dealer. They sell the materials to summon doppels and demons. I will need to purge this ship before we destory it, Tyler. Rose."
The warrior nodded as he looked at the corpses.
"Iris. hit them with a firestorm first."
She and the girls blinked. The snow priestess saying it.
"The pirates might be hiding in there. Among the dead."
Thorn sighed as she looked atthe hold.
"A distinct possibility. and a likely one too. do it."
Iris lifted her staff when Winter stopped her.
"My ice is bettert suited. it'll also purify the corpses."
Tyler smiled.
"Don't go into the hold."
"I won;t."
The white haired girl slammed her staff on the floor just inside the door.
"All things in this world, I command to freeze. ARCTIC WASTELAND!"
A mass of ballooning ice exploded outward from the Snow Priestess' staff and bare feet to completely engulf the entire hold in 6 feet of ice. Tyler noted a mass of shattering corpses inside the ice sheet as well as a mass of corpses freeze solid before shattering. Winter shivered as the ice block shattered like glass.
"You were right, Tyler. A good three hundred pirates were hiding among the corpses. And a mass of 150 doppels of many types. I need to pray to Tolas as that spell drained my mana."
He smiled and patted her.
"You got your rest, Winter. Let's clear it Sheria, Thorn."
The trio moved into the hold and Tyler sighed as he noted the nurmerous types of killing blows.
"Looks like this was a transport for the Road, Thorn. Most bare chainmarks."
The ranger nodded as she used her lance now to poke corpses.
"Indeed. Once the road collasped, they found different buyers for different stock. How the world is and I still don't like it."
"At least their problems are over."
The catgirl smiled at that.
"A small mercy I suppose."
sheria was walking beside the duo looking at various corpses and dead with huge blue eyes before they reached the other side. Up on the stairwell leading into the hold Rose was seen glowing bright white as she chanted over her staff and Thorn smiled.
"she's preforming a White cleansing. Her sect's version of Winter's ice."
"Neat. Looks like we may have leads to some cults and dark mages in the region now."
The trio returned and Winter put her finger to her lips as Rose chanted in her sweet voice before the beautiful princess open her now show white eyes and liftedher staff.
"Aurora awaits your tears. May you find a ture smile again and may the memory of your past pain fade forever. PURIFYING LIGHT!"
she slammed her staff down with authority and the entire hold was bathed in a white, soothing light that set the corpses ablaze in heatless, white flames that saw the bodies melt into a sweet smelling smoke. Tyler sighed as the last corpse vanished and all that remained were their former belongings.
"Poor bastards. Alright. Loot the ship. And once done we'll send her to the ground."
The party nodded and scattered to loot the ship for all it was worth. Winter and Rose worked the hold over, Tyler went to the captain's quarters for maps, charts, docements and anything else, Sheria was bopping from room to room flipping beds, Iris was helping her, and Thorn was raiding the storerooms. Bianca landed Fenrir on the deck again so her and Spark could assist. The work took three full hours before the party had all useful or valuable loot aboard Fenrir and the blood red headed pilot smiled as the restof the corpses were purified.
"Alright. We'll sent her to the ground."
The party loaded in and Tyler got into the ball turret again while the rest did so their own turrets. Bianca was heard chuckling on the radio.
"I already sent word. scavvers are on the way. Aim for the rings this time."
TYler pulled the charging handles back and aimed well.
"Open fire."
The result was the former pirate barque dropping from the sky and slamming into the round with a massive crash. Bianca chuckled as they left their turrets to convene in the main fueselage.
"I resupplied our ammo from their ship. We're set and holding steady. Winter please handle my share."
Tyler chuckled as he looked at the mass of dragoons.
"Transact. HOLY. Brace people. Between all these sacks we have, 12,432,268 dragoons."
Thorn whistled.
"Damn. They sucked. a ship an crew that size shoulda had a few hundred million at least."
The warrior sighed as he pulled some paper.
"Well. Now the hard part. That by two nets us 6,216,134. That by 8 nets us 777,016 and 2 coins left over. The two to party and yeah. Their licenses?"
Thorn held a pile two feet thick.
"All here. Once we're set in Dagin we can sell them."
"Would it be worth holding on to them in the event of an instead payout in say a dry spell?"
She sat back now and Iris smiled.
"Smart. VERY smart. same time you'd invite suspicion for holding that many licenses like that as some deal ihn stolen cards for sale."
"Makes sense. Nifty idea though."
Winter chuckled as she set Bianca's share aside.
"And there's that mind that scares us all half to death."
Tyler did a coin check.
"Damn. All told for party we got 7,591,592. I myself have 1,011,016. not bad for one rampage."
The weapons were next and Thorn shrugged.
"All low ball. Spells too. Sell.""
The party loaded the looted weaponry into the cargohold in Fenrir's belly and Tyler smiled as he found Winter and Rose praying over their altars before he took a shower. Cleaned up they all had breakfast and laughed.
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