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.

1-3: Cavern Subterrane

Chapter 3:

The Cavern Subterrane

)09:30 23rd Day of Maturation. Week 1, Day 3 of Shi'iaqu's creation(

Early the next morning, Zera and her party were summoned to the Alphas' chamber. Trey was absent, but Fiera was there, chewing on a fat section of daikon.

"You wanted to see us, Ma.. Sir?" asked Charles. He wasn't expecting an immediate answer from him with his mouth full of food. Fiera held up a finger as he finished chewing and swallowing his bite, setting the vegetable down on his throne's arm. "Where's Trey?"

"Asleep still," said Fiera, "and yes, I called you down here. I have a task all lined up for you."

The Alphas' secretary dragged out an easel on wheels, on which was a crudely-written and even more crudely-spelt cover sheet, written "OPURASHUN: GIT DEMUN".

"This is a joke, right?" asked Takumi, resisting the urge to facepaw.

"I'm not the one who makes the first pages," commented Fiera. "I just write out everything else."

The secretary flipped over what appeared to be a map of Shi'iaqu, one-mile scale. As anticipated, it was only 10 miles in diameter, most of it blank - save one square to the north and east about three miles. "While out on a scouting run, a group discovered a cavern and took a cursory look. The first thing they saw was a dead carrion-eater, so they did an about-face and returned here, requesting I dispatch a more combat-ready unit."

"Us," said Femi.

"Exactly. The group didn't go further in than the first ten feet, if that. One of the group, a Shoyru cleric of Yeraag, reported he could sense 'brethren' in the cave."

"Shoyru? Yeraag?" asked Zera, drawing a blank. As did, to her relief, everyone else.

"Shoyru are demons exiled from Hell itself," explained Fiera. "Their god, Yeraag, is one of the first Shoyru to have entered the Prime Material..."

"Makes sense..." said Moon.

"...after the First Rapture."

Everyone but Fiera sweatdropped. "You're telling me he's as old as the Big Bang?!" stammered Femi.

"Younger, by about 5 centuries. Anyhow, Shoyru refer to tanar'ri and unaligned demons alike as 'brethren' - meaning we've been in existence not even 72 hours and already the Blood War seeks to make this place amongst its battlefields."

"Blood War? What's that?" asked Charles.

"The Blood War is the war that has been going on between Tanar'ri - demons - and Baatezu - devils - since well before the First Rapture. At this point I'm not even sure the archdevils and demon lords know what the hell it's all about, except that both sides are too proud to talk it out at the table."

"Or one party is batshit and refuses to negotiate," noted Zera.

"We're talking evil vs. evil, Zera. You would think they possess a mutual common ground," he smirked. He paused to take another bite of daikon. "According to the cleric, there seems to be some portal to the Abyss in there, working through an enchanted item. Your mission is to enter and destroy this item, and purge the demons from the cave. Anything else in there is a bonus."

Moon nodded. "How soon should we depart?"

"As soon as possible. Arm well."

The group nodded. "YES SIR!"

On their way out, they passed the reporting cleric, healing a Kacheek ally who'd gotten mauled by a lion. From a distance, one could mistake them for a bipedal dragon, but the audible sound of their hooves on the floor killed that illusion. It had a pebbly, ruddy hide, presumably warm to the touch. Its eyes were a solid black, save for a small brown pupil, and its four-fingered hands terminated in sharp claws that, had eons of evolution not stripped them down to sharp nubs, could conceivably cause some damage. Its powerful wings and tail betrayed its main nature as a flying specie. It had no hair, but a large bony crest erupted from the top of its head, curved upwards somewhat, another artifact of evolution stripping the horn from the creature. It was wearing thick clothing, largely due to its wings, and at its belt was a longsword that appeared to be torn to shreds on first glance. A closer look revealed it seemed to have been made in a scintillating ripple pattern, and attached to its pommel by a light chain was a small charm, resembling a broken magical portal.

"Oi!" shouted Charles. "Mind if we had a moment of your time, demon?" The Shoyru ignored him. "Hey! Demon!"

"Call me that again and I'll not hesitate to use my weapon," hissed the Shoyru. His voice seemed to... burn... with ferocity, or maybe just intense hatred, likely at both the hellspawn and at the human hurling racial epithets at him in equal measure.

"You can't hail someone without cocking it up, eh, Charles?" said Zera. She stepped forward. "I apologize for my friend here. He fights demons for a living."

"Everyone here does, sister." He laid hands on the Kacheek's wound and softly uttered a prayer to Yeraag. Blue energy from the palms of his hands danced over the wound, sealing it. The Kacheek groaned. "Toughen up, lass, he only ripped out two feet of intestine!"

"You told the Alpha Male you sensed demons in the cavern?"

"That I did, sister, and not just weaker demons. There was an Unbound in there, too, guarding the Tanar'ri."

"Unbound?" asked Takumi.

"The Unbound are the demons and devils who have no interest in the Blood War; they only seek to bring pain and misery to others. They thus are not bound by the racial lines upon which the Blood War is laid upon. Neither Tanar'ri or Baatezu. It's similar to how Lukewarms refuse to identify with Bori or Yoshi specifically..."

"Off-topic. Anything else you noticed?"

"Judging by the carrion crawler's remains in the entryway, I suspect it is an abyssal maw. Those things are little more than a mouth with legs. They bite you, your day's ruined. Best to down them while they're distracted."

"Thanks for the information." Zera curtsied and Femi led the group out.

)09:41: Shi'iaqu Environs(

For the first time, Zera felt the warm Shi'iaqu sun. She emerged from the tunnel third, the grass concealing the entrance to Koutierr well. It was waist-high on Charles and completely covered Femi and her dog.

"Too damn bright," complained Moon.

"We need to go northeast, right?" asked Femi. Then, she realized something. "Uh, Takumi, could you give me your shoe?"

"Why?" he asked.

"My dog's blind back here."

"So am I." Takumi was memorizing Charles' scent, largely because it was so powerful. Decay never leaves someone's nose once it's there. He was going quadrupedal, largely for the element of surprise, his body barely small enough for the grass to conceal him. "Tell your dog to track Mr. Corpse Butt here."

"Hey!" Charles took offense. The basenji acquired his scent, and, to Femi's surprise, had to be tightly controlled to keep from bolting away, shrieking. "You done?"

"Ever heard of a bath?" said Moon. "Zera and Femi may not notice it, but you smell like death, Charles."

"I think that's deliberate," Zera said, taking her first steps. She cut the grass as she went, to mark a path in the plain, headed northwest from the entrance. The amber grasses were dry and yielded quickly to the sapara blade. "Be careful. I don't want to end up like that Kacheek."

"None of us do," rebutted Charles. "I think Moon should take point, and cut down the grass as he goes."

"I was hired as an adventurer, not a groundskeeper," complained Moon lightly, but, nevertheless, he took point, slashing the grass to almost the ground as he worked. Charles and Zera followed Moon. Femi and Takumi trailed behind them in the grass, following Charles.

As they moved, they noticed, off in the distance, lionesses and hyena fighting over a kill, a Kacheek that had wandered too far from safety and was dispatched. Takumi had to resist the meaty smell, which he had to acknowledge was difficult largely because the kill was so fresh. Likewise, Moon tried to detour, only for Femi to throw a rock at his head. Moon grumbled and resumed hacking a path through the grass to the cave.

)10:58: Cavern(

It took an hour of foot travel to make it to the cavern, leading down into the bowels of Shi'iaqu. At the entrance, the party armed themselves, remembering the presence of demons. Femi relied on shield and sling, Zera on her hooksword and shield. Takumi twirled a balanced dagger expertly into his hands as Moon pulled his shield out. Charles remained unarmed, only removing the gloves on his hands.

The tunnel sloped gently down from the threshold and opened up into a wider cavern about five feet from the surface. The rocky walls and ceiling were a dull gray, and the advance party had made a scratch in the wall, as if to give confirmation to whomever came after them. Barely visible in the light from the entrance was the corpse of a large green caterpillar-like creature, the likes of which the party had never seen before; they assumed that was the "carrion crawler" Fiera and the cleric both mentioned. They watched it for a few seconds to make sure it was dead, then approached it.

Under the head and mouth of the monster were eight white tentacles, each of which terminated in a wide yellow rasp. Two beady stalk eyes, almost sluglike, poked out from the top of the "head", and right under the mouth were two insectlike mandibles. Inside the mouth itself were a few rows of razor-sharp teeth, some of which had been removed by the violent means of dispatch. Femi approached it from the opposite side and avoided gagging. "Something ripped out its brain," she choked.

Indeed, the back of the head was a bloody mess. The entire back of it had been removed in one bite, and almost all of the brain with it, leaving a very bloody mess. Blue blood was all over the floor in the area behind the creature, and a trail of blue blood led off to the left. "I... think we should check the right first," said Zera. The response was a unanimous "yeah".

The party walked down the right-hand tunnel first, keeping an eye on the cracks in the walls, as if expecting monsters to come out of them, and even more so when they came to a dead end. Charles and Takumi made to leave, but Zera stopped them, motioning to scuff marks on the floor and what seemed to be a groove on the floor. They nodded, and the group began to look for a switch or lever.

"Who would want to stash something here, behind a hidden wall?" asked Moon, tapping on the walls.

"Beats me," said Takumi, deftly tapping with a dagger. He spent a few moments tapping in random spots on the wall before managing to find a spot where the stone depressed. He put the dagger back and shoved this spot in with his hand, and the wall slid down, into the floor, revealing a well-decorated room, apparently a wizard's hovel.

The room had a bookshelf full of dusty tomes, a table with various alchemical devices on it to the right, and, splayed across a chair, the dusty remains of a human, skeletonized and in various stages of disintegration. Wrapped around the skeleton was a reddish-orange robe, in poor condition, that appeared to be dewing, probably a result of the broken ampoules on the shoulders, hips, and sides of the robe. On its chest was a stylized dragon insignia.

"Finders, keepers," mused Takumi. He entered the room, only for Femi to yank him back, much to the weasel's chagrin.

"Zera, hang back in case we need healing," said Femi as she loaded a bullet. Zera was about to ask why - when she noticed the glowing amorphous mass sitting on the ceiling. "We've got company." As she said that, the slime oozed itself down onto the floor. It was a bright blue color, with lights shooting every which way in the center of it. It began to lurch towards Takumi, eagerly extending a pseudopod to swipe at him. Unable to react, the tendril slammed him in the chest, and seemed to explode as it did so. He sank to his knees and yelped in pain.

"What the hell is that?!" exclaimed Charles.

"Whatever it is, it's not going to be alive much longer," replied Femi, whirling her sling bullet at the monster. It penetrated deep into it, but didn't seem to have much effect aside from making the ooze move slower. Femi knew, however, that oozes didn't much feel pain unless they took enough of it to shut down their primitive minds.

As the ooze pivoted to get its revenge on whatever shot it, Moon took his chance. Ducking between Takumi and Femi, he lunged at the creature, whipping out his short sword so fast that Femi's dog barely had any time to dodge it. The ooze managed to, in its lethargy, scoot out of the way enough that Moon only scored a nick in the protoplasm's body - only for it to heal the wound. He swore. "This thing won't die!"

The ooze turned and attempted to bowl over Moon, trying to run him over. Moon's effort to dodge was doomed to failure as he tripped, and his body was quickly covered in the blue protoplasm. He spluttered, trying to avoid breathing, only to scream and swallow some of the foul-tasting ooze as an explosion slammed into his belly. Zera backed up, noting that Moon would need some help once they were done, preparing a healing spell to fix up Takumi if the ooze decided to go after him again.

"You little shit!" hissed Takumi as he stood up, backing up to the wall, just out of reach of the creature. "Duck!" he shouted as he began to mutter an incantation. The ooze turned as everyone ducked, and Takumi fanned out his hands, shooting a gout of flame from the tips. Expecting to boil the creature alive, the flames instead went around it, as if there was nothing there. Takumi's snarl only deepened.

Charles noticed Takumi struggling and decided to help him out by preparing his own spell, growling out an incantation as his hand grew black with dark energy. A pseudopod shot out at him, but he ducked under it and seized a hold of it, transferring the dark energies into the slime. Moon visibly gagged as the negative energies seeped into the ooze, vomiting. Whether because of this or something else, the ooze fell still, allowing Moon a chance to get out and get some fresh air as Zera pulled him out, administering a healing spell. Moon's bloodied mouth healed itself up, most of the blood from his stomach.

"I'll deal with this one," said Charles, applying his hand to the creature, which began to decompose before the group's very eyes, shriveling into nothing, its glow fading into darkness. He removed his hand, then checked on Moon. "You alright?"

Moon responded by eating a small portion of jerked chicken and chasing it with a pull from his waterskin. "No... that thing tasted awful and tore my stomach up."

Femi checked on Takumi. "How bad does it hurt?"

"It stings," noted Takumi. "Not a good pain." He looked into the room. "That the only surprise?"

"I hope so," Femi noted, entering to inspect the room for more dirty surprises. Takumi had something else in mind as he removed the robe from the skeleton and started searching the room for more items to steal and fence. "Let's see... this is a wizard's home, so..." He raided the bookshelf, finding mainly technical manuals as to how to create entities called weirds and several crumbling spellbooks, but on the top shelf he found the wizard's main research spellbook. He opened it up to find it empty - save for a large burn mark on one page, which apparently contained a spell of some sort; he couldn't figure out what spell from what remained of the arcane markings. He stuffed the book into his pack.

Femi, meanwhile, searched the desk. Most of the inkwells she found on it were empty, but one (complete with quill) wasn't, still having a bit of ink in it. She removed the quill and stoppered the inkwell, taking both into the pack. A more thorough search of the room turned up nothing.

"Let's catch our breath here for a moment," suggested Zera, dumping the skeleton out of its chair and sitting down. Moon staggered into the room, still coughing up viscous blue slime, breathing labored. Charles walked in after taking a sample of the slime, never having seen anything like it before.

"Remind me never to stand in the path of something like that again," groaned Moon in between ragged breaths. He sat down beneath the bookshelf.

"What the hell was that thing, anyway?" asked Takumi. As he said this, Charles noticed and pressed a button on the wall beside the opening, and the wall slid up.

"I have no idea," asked Femi, slipping her dog a biscuit. "It looked like a living Magic Missile, though."

"A what?" asked Charles.

"A moving Magic Missile. Magic Missile makes orbs created with mana that explode weakly upon contact with the target."

"Oh, so a living Teeth spell?"

"Is that what they call it where you come from, or just a marketing ploy to hide the fact it's a crappy spell?" asked Moon.

"I'm thinking marketing ploy," he said. "I don't even bother to remember it."

After a few more minutes of resting, Charles opened the wall, and the party stepped out, returning to the fork without incident, taking the opposite path.

As they rounded the corner, Moon stopped them. The sound of cracking bones echoed down the hall. Moon motioned for them to move slowly. Five feet further down the hall, and fifteen feet from the creature, they saw it.

As the Shoyru cleric noted, it indeed appeared to be little more than a huge walking mouth. Its four stumpy legs were twisted and warped, and its two weak arms, one on either side of its mouth, ended in equally-weak hands. Its mouth took up the entire top of its body, and sickly green eyes situated under this maw contrasted with the pebbly, light purple skin of the fiend. His mouth worked with all the grace and finesse of a sledgehammer, and was in the process of annihilating a rat.

With him being distracted, the party silently prepared. Charles and Zera prepared to cast spells, with Charles fingering a small bag with a knucklebone in it, holding an unlit votive candle in his other hand. Moon got his sword ready. Femi stepped off her softly-growling animal companion, loading a sling bullet. Takumi readied a dagger.

The abyssal maw was too distracted to notice Moon approach and slice at the creature's trunk, scoring a hit. Then, all hell broke loose.

Charles growled out, "Mortuus patrocinor!" as he held the foci aloft and made several motions with his free hand. No sooner did he finish the steps to invocation than a skeleton disinterred itself from the ground, its bones rattling as its smiling visage and average frame betrayed it as human. In its hands was a halfspear, and on its opposite arm was a scutum. It stood up, right next to the abyssal maw, which spat out its rat and turned to face its attackers.

While distracted, Zera held up her sword, using it as a makeshift divine focus as she couldn't get a holy symbol, and a burst of light emanated from her body, coating the weapons of her allies (and Femi's dog's teeth) in glowing red light. Femi thanked Zera for this as the skeleton took a swing at the injured demon with his spear, unintentionally getting his own shield instead and knocking his own arm off. It looked down as if considering to try and reclaim its arm.

Femi was next to act. "Dog, corner and sic!" The basenji yapped in confirmation and, bolting behind the skeleton, put the demon between it and Moon, before lunging at it, crushing its arm between its teeth. The demon shrieked and tried to fling the dog off, allowing Femi to attempt to bring it down with a sling. Her shot, unfortunately, went wide, sparking off the stone wall of the dungeon.

Takumi was last to act, not bothering with spells. He gently aimed his weapon to fire through the skeleton's "belly", before letting loose, the dagger finding its way into one of the eyes. It was at about this time the demon slumped to the ground, allowing the skeleton to administer a coup-de-grace on it. Takumi nonchalantly walked up to the corpse and reclaimed his weapon, wiping it off with his tabard and putting it back on his belt, before noticing the door.

Moon sheathed his weapon, before trying the door. "Damn, locked. Takumi?"

Takumi nodded and stepped up to the lock, pulling out a bolt of cloth and unrolling it, revealing a wide array of tools, almost all of them designed for the purpose of forcing locks or disabling a trap's trigger mechanism. He nodded and licked his chops, growling as he got to work, taking his time so as to not make any mistakes. After ten minutes, a CLUNK sound announced the lock's defeat. Takumi set his tools back in their proper place. He opened the door. Zera noticed that, at this point, the glow had faded from the weapons, and a shield and spear were the only indications a skeleton was even there.

Upon opening the door, Takumi was beset by five lanky green demons, two of which struck with their bony claws, one punching through his armor to leave a deep gash in his gut. Behind them, in the murkiness of the room, sat a glowing crystal ball, radiating with a malign power. Voices rang out from it, which Charles understood: "Slay the interlopers!"

The demons once more set upon Takumi, but this time he was prepared to dodge. Despite this, four of them scored solid hits on him, and he grimaced as he pulled his short sword out. Femi was the quickest to react, pointing at the nearest demon. "Sic 'em!" The dog barked loudly and charged forward, teeth bared as it leaped at the demon, which reacted too late to the attack and got a nice gash in the side of his body, a rib shattering as his entrails spilled out, and he collapsed. Femi started to cheer, until she noticed the crystal ball glowing as a portal opened up beside it. "Ignore the demons! Attack the orb!"

Charles nodded and stepped forward, once more invoking his undead-summoning spell. As with the last time, a skeleton disinterred itself on the opposite end of the door, but this time all it carried was a scimitar, and the clothes it wore were reminiscent of Ottoman Empire-era dress, albeit with a couple more swords crammed into it. It turned to attack the demons, until Charles commanded, in Draconic, "Leave the demons and attack the orb!" The skeleton turned around and, following its orders to the letter, threw its sword at the orb, missing it completely. Undeterred, it merely yanked another sword from its ribcage.

Zera stepped into the path beside the dog, getting her shield up just in time to block a claw from the demon, before beginning to chant a spell, laying her hand on Takumi's shoulder. The blue light was more powerful this time, curing the wounded Takumi, who thanked Zera by falling back, taking a couple of wounds on his leg as he did so, and attempted to bury a dagger into the head of the one that attacked Zera, missing. Moon waited until Takumi was clear, stepped to the side, and fired his crossbow at the crystal, making a chip in it.

Denied their Eevee prey, the demons decided to attack Zera next. The portal beside the orb remained as more blood seeped from the downed demon onto the floor, Zera careful enough to not step into it. Two of them raked her stomach. Femi's dog retaliated against one, the dog attacking it as it stepped over its fallen comrade dropping it, too, by ripping off its leg. Femi nodded and, holding her holly sprig, muttered a short incantation/prayer to fire spirits. As she finished, a bright red flame erupted in her hands. Smirking, she hurled the flame at the orb, striking it and causing it to wear. "Ignore the holy woman!" demanded the orb, or whatever was on the opposite end of the connection. "Attack that wretched --"

Her comment was cut off by the skeleton, which had closed the distance and was now awkwardly swinging its scimitar, missing the orb by a mile. This paled in comparison to the sizeable chunk taken out of it by a well-aimed quarrel from Charles' crossbow. After firing, he backed away to reload it.

Zera lowered her shield to attack, swinging her sapara in a low arc, trying to kneecap or hamstring the demons as opposed to using her hooked weapon to trip them. Her attack collided with the leg of one of the demons, and a sickening CRACK echoed in the cavern as the demon listed to the side of his broken leg. Rather than move away and risk tripping on blood, Zera held her shield up and assumed a defensive stance.

Takumi whipped another dagger out from his belt. Noting that Moon didn't do much damage to the orb (and that his crossbow was still more powerful than his throwing daggers) he slipped into a crevice the demons weren't likely to peek into, then threw the dagger at the back of the nearest demon, striking it on the haunch as it whirled around to focus his attention on Takumi.

Moon reloaded his crossbow and, once again, sidestepped to get the orb in sight before firing. This time, his quarrel struck near the side of the orb and damaged it, tearing off another chunk. The voice on the other end started to sound fuzzy, this time demanding the demons fall back to defend it. Takumi's target and the remaining uninjured one did so, with Zera swatting its thigh with the tip of her weapon as it fled. Charles growled as they decided to hammer on his skeleton, both of them nicking some bones. The one Zera attacked was too focused on killing her, and lashed out, getting Zera on the thigh.

"Someone order some fire?" smirked Femi. "Dog, return!" The dog returned to Femi's side as she hurled the fireball at the orb. It struck, and the orb began to glow brightly. Understandably, Femi was a bit freaked. "HIT THE DIRT!" she shouted. Zera took the hint and backtracked away, with Charles trying and failing to cover her retreat. Before the demon could get any closer, however, an explosion rocked the cavern, causing the room to cave in and the demons inside to be crushed to death, distracting the demon. Takumi stepped out from the shadows, sword drawn as the loud noise masked his movements, and thrust his sword into the demon's neck. The demon howled in defeat as it fell. The air in the cavern grew still, and all was silent again.

"...I think we're done here," said Moon as Zera healed Takumi up, his wounds completely healing. "Let's rest for a few moments to lick our wounds, then get back to Fiera."

Femi nodded, finishing off the rest of the demons by jabbing the sharp end of her club into their skulls, with Charles' help. "Hopefully the demons aren't going to be harassing Koutierr for a while."

)12:33: Koutierr(

As the party reentered the dark Koutierr tunnels, the Shoyru cleric was standing there, smiling. "Hail, brother," said Zera, clamping Charles' mouth shut before he could say anything.

"I wasn't expecting all of you to come back. I hope my info was useful?" he smiled.

"There was a crystal ball in there that seemed to be summoning the demons, but it's gone now," said Takumi. "As you said, there was an abyssal maw, but there were also lots of smaller, skinny green demons."

"Ski--? So I must have assensed the crystal ball," he said. "Those skinny demons are abyssal skulkers, ambush predators from the Abyss. They're weak, but in numbers they'll tear anyone unprepared to shreds."

Zera nodded. "They almost slew Takumi here."

"Next time, I'll knock," Takumi snarked.

"If we see anything else unusual, we'll send word to you," stated the Shoyru. "You did us all a service removing the monsters."

"If you find any ore veins, would you tell Melchior Maulrender, in the Cosmopubitan?" asked Zera.

"I was already planning on that, if for no other reason than the Trennelians need heartore for their Chains."

Charles yanked Zera's hand off of his mouth. "Chains?" he asked.

"Yes. Every deity has what is called a Divine Chain, which is given to the faith's greatest champions." He drew his longsword, calling attention to the charm on its butt. "The magical and spiritual capacity for crafting chains was limited to Syrakan Moogles or the Overdeities up until shortly before the Second Rapture, and before then the use of Chains was limited to champions said to be blessed by Whisp. Nowadays, each deity possesses its own Chain, which its followers use to enforce the deity's will."

Charles looked at the portal. "Every god has one? Even Zakarum?"

"Even Zakarum. However, you'll be hard-pressed to find his chain since the fall of the faith."

Femi nodded. "Thank you."

The demon cleric sheathed his weapon, then bowed. "Brother Xarn, fathful of Yeraag."

"Sister Zera, unaligned," replied Zera. "I trust we'll meet again."

"It's less trust and more foreboding. Go let the Alphas know of your success," mentioned Xarn, before turning and leaving.


Fiera was in bed when the party returned to the Alphas, but Trey was awake and chewing on a turnip, growling as the party approached. Charles cleared his throat, and Trey looked up.

"Oh, you guys and lady," he said, abandoning his food. "Operation:Get Demon was good?"

"The demons won't be a hassle to you any longer," said Moon. "They'll be spending months digging that cave-in out."

Trey nodded, then walked behind the throne, returning a few seconds later with five sacks of wyrms, tossing one each to everyone. "150 wyrms, hazard pay," he said. "If me or sir need, we call."

"Thanks," said Moon, smiling.

Zera felt the weight of the coins and set them on her belt. "I think I'm going to get a bit plastered tonight."

As she turned to leave, Takumi pulled out the robe. Charles stopped and looked at it, studying it. "Femi, may I have the ink you found?"

"Sure," she said, handing the stoppered inkwell to Charles. He set it in his satchel, still studying the robe, before nodding.

"That looks like a robe of fire resistance, Takumi," he noted. "That dewing is intentional; it helps to douse flames caused by magical or mundane attacks."

"Cool. How much could I fence it for?" asked Takumi.

"See if there's someone looking for a little extra protection from fire, and see how much he's willing to pay. The going rate's nine thousand Wyrm, though, so I suggest holding onto it for a bit, maybe using it as a barter item."

"I much prefer coin, thanks." Takumi set it back up and walked out, Charles following.
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