AGNPH Stories

Shi'iaqu by Bébinn Heffernan


Story Notes:

I do not own anything portrayed here (Pokémon, Neopets, Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: the Gathering, etc.) except for the setting, which is a D&D 3.5/Pathfinder setting I have been working on for the past couple years. Those are owned by their respective companies (Nintendo, Viacom, Hasbro, etc.).All original characters are the property of whomever created them. Their creators do not own Pokémon, either.

1-2: Who Wants to be an Adventurer?

Chapter 2:

Who Wants to be an Adventurer?

)07:05 22nd day of Maturation. Week 1, Day 2 of Shi'iaqu's creation(

Zera walked back down to the Cosmopubitan, carrying her sword. After some discussion with Rena, Melchior, and a couple bar patrons late last night, she decided that she liked the call of the cloth more than the clown persona she lived with in the circus. Taking some pity on her, Melchior gave her a buckler, a crossbow, a suit of riveted leather, and a concerned look.

"Don't you think you're going about this a little too quickly, girl?" he mused as she took off her dress and tried on the armor and its underclothes. A good fit for her trim frame. "After all, being a Ranger is a high-mortality job."

"I need to do something other than lounge about all day," she retorted, testing the buckler's weight. She checked the pull on the crossbow, using a case of quarrels she picked out. Looked good. "Besides, I'm curious as to what all is out there."

"As of yet, nothing, lassie. But nothing has always tended to hate something."

Zera nodded. "Thanks for the tip, Melchior," she said, stepping out and into the Cosmopubitan.


When she got out there, the tables were all back in a semi-regular arrangement, and several big burly types, apparently recently-recovered-from-who-knows-where, just like Zera, were boasting amongst one another. At first she was confused, then she realized that they were advertising themselves to a bored-looking Sam, who fended them off with the only weapon available to him: Vogon-inspired limericks.

Zera joined the boasting, preaching not to Sam, but to the room. She wasn't a very good salesman, however, and it showed. "Ladies and gentlemen, I, too, seek to protect this herd."

"From what? Sam's scent isn't lethal last I checked!" cracked a mouse. An Absol anthropomorph, colloquially known as a Harbinger, was sitting at a far table sharpening his sword, half-paying attention.

"From whatever monstrosities exist outside these tunnels, in the environs of this world, of course!"

A Vedalken wizard tutted at that. "You sound more like you're trying to protect your sanity from slipping." His Gnorc companion sniggered.

"Shut up, alien," growled a human. He was sitting in the back and had a wide berth, largely because of the shuffling Kacheek zombie bringing a drink to him. The poor ex-adventurer had been killed in a bar fight earlier when he mouthed off to a particularly pissy Domook, who was right now glittering in the corner after Sam had the foresight to pull out a mirror, causing the tentacle monster to turn himself into pure diamond.

Zera got a little bit of confidence. "It should be no secret that, eventually, the world as we know it shall shape itself, and as it does so we shall be beset by plagues of demons, disasters, and demagogues who-"

"Then shut up, hypocrite!" snapped a Bori cleric. He was wearing a mattock, a clear sign he followed the god of Bori and racism, Hyacinth Zealpick. As such, the reptilians in the room stayed as far away from him as possible.

Zera ignored him. "-Who seek to turn us into their unwilling slaves, their table legs, or even worse! I am as ignorant of this world as all of you-"

"Maybe because you haven't bent over for S--UHH!" The Kacheek speaking was hit in the gut by a ticked-looking Lorwynian Kithkin. Not coincidentally, the Kithkin's hind end smelled like Sam's front end. Zera had learned that Kacheek-kin used scents secreted from glands on their genitals and anuses to establish their social hierarchy.

"But I vow I will help ensure it is one of the safest places we can live, no matter the cost, no matter the circumstance!"

"Citation needed!" shouted back a smartass human.

"Now, who's with me?!" shouted Zera, ignoring the outburst.

The whole bar burst out laughing, except the anthropomorph and the human with the zombie butler. An Eevee anth likewise didn't find it funny. A Pikachu anth in the back petting her dog seemed interested.

"Cut her some slack, dammit," growled the human. "She's not making empty promises. She earnestly believes it."

"For you, I'll make empty promises," growled Zera.

"Hey, I'm only trying to defend you from a ruthless mob of ignorants," he shot back.

"Ladies and gentlemen, we have a volunteer!" Zera gestured to the human, who rose from his seat in protest. "He's just been so kind as to offer to join me!"

"I agreed to no such thing!"

"Sure you did, when you admitted that everyone else here was too stupid to be hired!"

"I said no--"

"You called everyone else here an 'ignorant'," pointed out the Eevee anth. "For what it's worth, I'm liking the Kool-Aid. Where do I sign up?"

The Absol anth returned to polishing his weapons for a bit, then stood as the crowd started to thin as they formed groups. He approached Zera, standing by her. "For some reason, I trust you more than half the drunkards here."

"Same here," noted the Pikachu. Her dog followed close behind, a large basenji. He was wearing barding consisting of little more than leather straps.

Zera nodded, then looked at the human. "Since you're so cocksure, how about you find us a table?"

The human growled and retreated back to the far table, his zombie butler slowly following. "Hey, barkeep, a round of drinks here!" he shouted. Everyone else sat around him. "And none of your limericks!"

Sam didn't look too thrilled, but cash was cash. He poured four mugs of ale and had the zombie bring them over, filling them underfull so that they wouldn't spill.

"Now, since we seem to be in a hireable group, I think we're in for a round of introductions," Zera said. She was visibly nervous around the armed people and the shambling maitre d'. "My name is Zera. Former circus acrobat."

The next to speak was the human. He was wearing a well-kept suit of clothes, stained red at the arms. His tabard was barely visible beneath the mail shirt he wore, and his helmet was slightly modified to add a small magnifying eyepiece. Hanging from his shoulder was a satchel which, from the outward appearance, was crammed with journals, notebooks, and writing implements. Hanging from the opposite side, on his belt, was a hooded lantern, beside which was an oil flask for filling it and a flask of alchemist's fire (a flammable paste that ignited on contact with oxygen). "Charles," he said. "Don't mind the zombie; he's perfectly harmless."

"There's no such thing as a harmless zombie," rebutted the Eevee anth.

"Only because you haven't seen one," he shot back.


The three other people at the table turned to look at the Absol, who still appeared largely indifferent, withdrawn. He was wearing a badly-kept suit of leather armor as well as sandals (since his footclaws made wearing shoes difficult). Under the armor he was more or less nude, with white fur poking out from places where the leather did not cover. "Can you stop bickering anytime soon?"

The Eevee anth leaned forwards on the table, his cloak draping over his form, over the dark brown leather tabard. His forepaws were a seeming blend of hand and paw, with middling fingers, a small palm, and a thumb a bit further down than normal, almost on the wrist. His ears twitched, and a small weasel poked his head out from behind his head. "Who said we were bickering?"

"I do, because you are."

"That's a crock of shit, and you know it," retorted the Eevee anth. He sat back down and had a sip of his ale."The name's Takumi." As he spoke, a couple of Kacheek children came up to him from behind and started toying with his cloak, causing the weasel to complain lightly. "Before I woke up here, I worked as an agent for the Duke of Treche. I don't remember the name of the sphere where that was anymore..."

"I was about to say, I don't know of a place named Treche," said Charles.

"...You're better off not knowing," said Moon.

Charles hunkered down. "I know of Kurast and Lut Gholein, and those are some places with issues, especially after the Worldstone got destroyed."

"Lute-Go-Lane?" asked Zera, a bit confused. "Who would be insane enough to name their city that?" The kids finally left Takumi's back.

"It's no more insane than the state of Sanctuary when I left it," noted Charles.

Takumi turned to address Sam to criticize his ale, turning in such a way Charles jumped out of his seat and onto the floor. Zera was confused - until she noticed the unflattering Uboa mask the kids vandalized Takumi's robe with. "Ignore it," said Zera. "She's not about to spring to life and kill you."

The Pikachu ignored her ale, instead leaning forward in her chair. She was wearing ill-kempt leather armor, seemingly stitched together from various different reptilian and mammalian species. Tribal markings covered her face, and all in all her behavior was almost as feral as her basenji's. "My name's Femi." She gently scratched her dog behind the ears, flicking her tail, which had the signature heart-shaped end. Aside from her poorly-stitched armor (complete with roomy breastplate and long skirt), she was very svelte, her green eyes showing a distinct spark of life inside them. Or maybe that was the ale, which Zera noted tasted similar to pig slop. She dumped hers out onto the floor.

"You look weird," commented Moon.

"I was one of our tribe's shamen," she commented. "Well, shamen-in-training." Charles noticed an odd lilt in her voice, but thought it was the horrid ale and said nothing.

Moon stood, not having touched his ale. "We know each other. Good. Now... should we go to whomever's hiring?"

"You're rather hasty," stated Zera.

"I'm not interested in staying here and listening to these muscleheads," Moon replied simply.

"I agree," said Charles, standing up. The zombie looked at him, as if asking for orders. "Please stay here and do Sam's bidding," he said. It nodded and shuffled over to the bar.

Zera stood up, sighing. "Fine. Takumi, let's go."

Takumi stood. "This bar serves fuckin' swill," he growled as he did so.

)07:53: Koutierr(

Koutierr was a relatively large subterranean city, crafted by the souls in Creation that would eventually become Kacheek upon the First Rapture. It was divided into four districts: the Residential district on the west side served as home for the Kacheek that overwhelmingly populated the town, and as a result it smelled heavily of flowery Kacheek marking scent; the Administrative District in the middle of town, where the nobility and the Alphas (the herd's king and queen equivalents) lived; the Commercial District to the east which was dominated by the large bazaar; the Cosmopubitan, which the Alphas had long since ceded to Sam Tender and treated as a suburb, rather than part of Koutierr proper.

The Cosmopubitan was linked to Koutierr by the eastern end of the bazaar, and the tunnels here showed more ornate decoration than the plain dirt tunnels of the Cosmopubitan. Stalls were filled with goods, most of which were food items, sex toys, glass wombs, and handmade curios. This section of town was extremely busy, with Kacheek buying and selling at every stall, and it took several minutes for the group to circumnavigate the large crowds. Stationed at every row of stalls were constables employed by the Alphas to keep the peace in town, armed with saps and tonfa.

To the southwest was the exit into the Administrative District. The tunnel opened into the main entryway, where four recruiters had set up tables to sign people up. Not surprisingly, most of the interested parties were Kacheek, but two tables seemed ready to handle Cosmopubitan's adventurer population. One of them was already arguing with a belligerent group, having rejected their application because they were visibly drunk. The other one was free, so the group headed over to it.

Manning the counter was a sweet little Kacheek girl. "Welcome to..."

"Why do you need so many Rangers?" bluntly asked Takumi.

The response was equally as blunt. "We're on the bottom of the food chain, that's why. Now, are you here for the job posting?"

Zera sighed. "Yes, we are," she said.

The Kacheek pulled out a sign-in sheet. "Before you're hired, the Alphas would like to know you a little better. To this end, they will be meeting with you. All of you, please sign your names on the same line."

Zera, then Charles and Moon signed their full names. Takumi signed his name "Uriah Porter". Zera suspected this was an alias. Femi "signed" by dipping her paw into the ink and leaving a pawprint.

"Thanks. Please go on through into the next area and wait for your name to be called," she said. Charles nodded in thanks before he led the group through.

This area was deep in the Administrative District, and was decorated appropriately. Nobles wandered about, discussing politics and the heroes as groups sat down on the benches beside the doors leading to the Alphas' chamber. Doors lined the sides of the cavern, with the center section occupied by another room, presently locked. The benches were made of stone, but cushioned. Perhaps reflecting Kacheek society, a few pairs of nobles mated in full view of the waiting adventurers as they waited.

"Can't they do that somewhere else?" asked Takumi as he covered his eyes to prevent himself from seeing a lord and a "lady" (in reality a crossdresser) mating.

"For Light's sake," growled Charles, covering his eyes with his satchel and his ears with a pair of earplugs. Fortunately, they didn't have to wait too long for this one, as the Alphas' secretary came out as the "lady" flipped himself over and gripped the wall.

"Zera, Charles, Moon, Uriah, Pawprint?" he asked. The group stood up and followed him in. This chamber, compared to the relative decadence of the common chamber, was sparsely-decorated, with the thrones being the only extravagance. Sitting in the left-hand throne was a female Kacheek, watching the party intently as his partner, a timid-looking male, feigned interest. "Lady and gentlemen, I am honored to introduce you to Alpha Male Fiera Molehull Koutierr and Alpha Female Trey Molehull Koutierr."

All five looked surprised. "Shouldn't it be the reverse?" asked Charles. Femi blushed a little bit.

Fiera replied before the secretary. "Nope. Here, social dominance plays a large role in determining someone's social gender. With that said, welcome to Koutierr. Although I wish we would have met in better circumstances." Fiera was wearing nothing aside from a relatively extravagant crown of feathers and gems, but kept his legs crossed as he spoke. His fur was a nice cinnamon, and pretty bushy.

"What do you mean?" asked Takumi.

Trey responded to this, the meek Kacheek being rather inarticulate. "Alone in world. Monsters outside threaten herd. No Ranger corps protect us."

"You won't be alone for long," noted Charles.

"No matter," she said, shaking her head. Like Fiera, Trey was nude, but had the foresight to wear a loincloth to cover her nether regions, her own headdress being little more than a headband with a quail feather sewn into it. She had cream-colored fur, and her stance, mannerisms, and speech suggested she was feral and suffering from a rather major case of culture shock. "No Ranger mean mouse danger."

"She's right," noted Fiera. "The Rangers are effectively our army. If any of the new cities were hostile towards us, we would need a standing army or else we wouldn't have much of a chance to survive."

"So our main job is as your army?" asked Moon.

"Since the tunnels were made with Kacheek in mind, I have something just as important for you: Exploration. The only maps we have of the surrounding environs are extremely dated."

"How dated?" asked Femi.

"So dated they disintegrated when I breathed on them," said the Alpha Male, sighing. "Unlike most other settlements that are bound to show up, Koutierr wasn't rebuilt on the Prime Material after the First Rapture, so whatever maps still exist show the terrain from Creation, not Shi'iaqu."

"Shi'iaqu also 48 hours old," noted Trey, nodding sagely.

"So we're just cartographers?" sighed Takumi.

"Not entirely. I plan to dispatch you if there's a situation outside of Koutierr that demands attention, since we're not going to be able to spare any mice to do so for a good while," said Fiera

"Makes sense," said Charles. "We can't effectively fight in the cramped tunnels, so sending us out to fight in wide-open spaces frees up enough room for the mouse squadrons to maneuver and fight."


Trey crawled down from her throne and examined each of the adventurers carefully, namely Charles' partially-putrefied body, Takumi's weasel (which playfully nipped at her finger), Zera's sapara, Femi's crotch (which most everyone did a double-take on as he spent a long time here) and Moon's armor (Moon responded with a deadpan, "Are you done?"). She seemed to be looking beyond their outside, though, as she soon returned to the throne and motioned for Fiera to do the same, which he did. He nodded, as if concurring with what Trey saw, then returned to his throne and nodded. "Alright. Trey and I are quite assured you're cut out for the task, if green. Consider yourselves hired."

The party seemed surprised at this rather informal interview, but Takumi wasn't about to look a gift horse in the mouth and nodded. "Thank you, Ki-- Alpha Male."

"Get some rest. We already have a task lined up for you tomorrow, and it's important that you're ready for it."

)11:43: Takumi's Room, Cosmopubitan(

The group took a few hours stuck in traffic at the bazaar before returning to the Cosmopubitan, where they sat in Takumi's room to discuss their circumstances.

"So you and Moon are from the same world?" asked Charles. His Kacheek butler had returned to him, again carrying ale (in spite of Takumi's protests).

"Apparently, though odds are he and I are from different countries. My homeland has no native Harbingers," said Takumi. His weasel was in his lap, sleeping.

Moon nodded. "We've never been fond of kingdoms. They always try to find an excuse to run you out on a rail."

"They're justified, though," said Zera. She had borrowed some money from Takumi to buy trail mix, and was setting it in a sack with a waterskin, provided by the city guard. They also replaced the poor-quality waterskins everyone else was carrying (although, in their case, this was less their fault and more the circumstances of arrival.) "What was your job?"

"Like I said, I was an agent. A spy."

"Is that why you signed your name as 'Uriah'?" asked Charles.

"That's my cover identity," he noted. "Before... well, before what happened happened, I was infiltrating a thieves' guild."

"I was adjusting to a new world when it got yanked from under me," said Charles. He sighed a bit and leaned against the endtable.

"What do you mean?"

"Well... I come from a world named Sanctuary. Not the safest place to be, even on a good day, with all the Hell-spawned monsters running about."

"Hell-spawned?" asked Zera. "As in actual demons?"

"The same."

"Sounds scary," noted Femi, her basenji whining.

"They're easy enough to kill if you know how to do it," commented Charles. "However, the undead are the ones I feel the most sympathy for. Everyone sees them as evil just because most of them were raised from the dead by the Three. I aim to fix that perception problem." He gestured at the Kacheek zombie. "I've been working on a way to get undead flesh, when reanimated, to act and look like living flesh, with the intelligence to match."

"Is your satchel filled with your research?" asked Zera, curious.

"Yes. My whole life's work is in the journals and notebooks in there. I can't afford to lose them."

Moon seemed offended at this, as did Femi. "The dead deserve their final peace," Femi stated plainly.

"The dead are otherwise a waste of a perfectly good life," retorted Charles.

Zera sighed. "Can the both of you please stop arguing?"

Charles growled, then looked towards Zera. "So what's your story?"

Zera looked up. "I was trained as a circus acrobat."

"A circus performer?" asked Takumi, cocking his head.

"Yes." She looked at Charles only through her peripheral vision. "My master made decent money from me as I worked, but his bosses tended to dislike when I deviated from the routine." She said nothing more on this, letting it hang. Nobody wanted to ask her what that meant.

Moon decided to change the subject. "Where are you from, Femi?" Femi refused to answer, merely tending to her basenji. "Femi!"

"None of your business," she said. "It's gone anyways." She slipped her basenji a biscuit.

Takumi looked at everyone. "It's only noon. I say we celebrate with a couple pints at the bar and turn in early. After all, they did mention they have something lined up for us."

Zera and Moon nodded. Charles had his zombie fetch a round of drinks.
Chapter End Notes:
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