Late at night, in a mansion hidden deep within an ancient forest, a shadowy figure snuck down a long corridor. The corridor was dimly lit by the eerie blue light cast by the magical braziers along its wall, and the figure travelled silently from shadow to shadow. His pace was slow and deliberate, for the figure knew that a single mistake could be his downfall. As he approached an intersecting hallway, he became aware of a pair of voices coming his way. He quickly pressed himself against a darkened section of the wall, hoping that the shadows that cloaked him would keep him hidden, and waited. Eventually a couple young girls wearing cute skirts, and wide brimmed hats adorned with skulls walked out in front of him while carrying large magical staves. He was amazed at their youthful and innocent appearance, but he knew that the two girls were witches. They seemed to be patrolling the halls, and were using their staves to light their way.
“Uuu, this place gets so scary at night,” one of the witches whined. “I wish Galahad onii-chan was here…”
“Not this again,” her companion sighed.
“Well wouldn’t you want a knight who’s brave, compassionate, pure, and handsome to be there for you, and to give you sweets, and kiss you, and…”
“Of course I would!” the second witch interrupted. “But I think that the ideal onii-chan needs to be real on top of that.”
“What are you trying to imply?!”
“I’m saying that your ‘Galahad onii-chan’ came from a fantasy novel, and doesn’t actually exist!”
“How rude!” the first witch scoffed. “When you have love in your heart, anything is possible!”
“Why do I even bother…” the second witch sighed. She began to make her way towards the shadowy figure, and he began to worry that she’d find him in the light of her staff. Luckily for him, the delusional witch grabbed her friend’s arm.
“Let’s not go that way.”
“And why not?”
“That way takes too long to check, and it’s really creepy.”
The serious witch looked down the hallway and said, “Fine, but I’m blaming you if we get in trouble for slacking off.” Both witches began to walk down the other hallway, and the figure sighed in relief. He had gotten lucky, but he needed to hurry. He continued to make his way through the mansion until he came to an intricately designed door. He opened the door slightly to peek inside to find what looked to be some sort of study. He smiled since this was probably the room he was looking for. It was quite dark inside so he grabbed one of the braziers off the wall. He paused to look at his hand, and was surprised to find that the light made his magic cloaked hand look rather demonic. He chuckled as he thought that he must look like a shadowy version of some ancient monster, and that the witches would most likely scream in terror if they saw him. With that thought in mind, he entered the study and closed the door silently behind him.
His first thought when he got a good look at the room was that it looked simple, containing only a few bookshelves, a small desk, and a large window that showed the dense forest outside. Since the study was supposedly used by a baphomet, he thought it would look more extravagant. A worried voice in the back of his head wondered if he was in the wrong room, but he ignored it and began to look around. He approached the nearest bookshelf, and began to sort through the books. He was looking for a book called “Magical Mineralogy”, but he needed to look through each book since he couldn’t actually read. After taking longer than he would have liked, he found a book with gems on the cover which opened to reveal a small compartment. Inside was single clear gem roughly the size of a coin. The figure smiled as he knew that, much like the witches, the jewel was more than it appeared. The gem was a magic stone, and was much more valuable than any regular jewel. He removed the gem from the book and brought it into the light of the brazier to check for spells, and to marvel at the blue light shimmering off its surface. As he concluded that the gem held no spell, the study’s door opened and he heard someone gasp. He turned to find a couple of frightened witches staring at him.
“I-intruder!” One of the witches cried out as the other readied a spell. Cursing his luck, the figure ran towards the window, and phased through it. Instead of worrying about the ground that was now three stories below him, the figure reached towards the mansion, and root like tendrils shot out of his left arm and attached themselves to the wall. He then swung towards the wall, and gracelessly crashed into it. He groaned in pain before he began to lower himself to the ground. Once his feet were back on Terra Firma, the tendrils disappeared into the ether and he lowered his arm with a groan. He didn’t have enough time to check himself for injuries, and even less time to come up with a plan for escape.
“I could just run into the woods,” he mused aloud with a distorted voice. “But they’ll probably start looking out there. Maybe I’ll have better luck if I work my way around to the front of the mansion first?” Confident that this was his best option, he made sure that he still had the gem and began to move. He tried to keep to the shadows as best he could, but he knew his pursuers would already be on their way. Eventually he managed to reach the front of the mansion, but he found it odd that he hadn’t met anyone. He dashed towards the trees, but some blinding lights burst from behind the treeline and forced him to stop. He heard several excited squeals and rushed footsteps around him before he was hit with more light. He cursed his luck since he wasn’t just ambushed, he was also surrounded.
“What did I say girls?” asked a haughty sounding voice behind him. As his eyes got used to the light, the figure turned to see the small form of a baphomet. “Didn’t I say that he’d try sneaking through here?” Several of the witches voiced their praises, but they stopped as the baphomet began to make her way towards the shadowy figure. She grasped at something in the air and a very large, demonic scythe formed in her hand. “So stranger, what did you want with the cute kids of Sabbath that couldn’t wait till the morning?” she asked as adorably as she could. “You seem to be pretty good with that Shadow Form spell. Were you looking to join?”
“Sorry, but I’m actually kind of lost,” the figure denied with his distorted voice. “I was hoping someone could give me some directions.” The crowd fell silent for a moment before they erupted into raucous laughter.
“That’s the story you’re going with?” the baphomet asked as she wiped some tears from her eyes. “If that’s the case then, why are you using the Shadow Form spell?”
“I’m incredibly shy.” The witches began to laugh again, clearly not buying his excuses.
“Alright stranger, then listen carefully. I, the great and terrible Carina, shall give you some directions!” She ran at the figure and hit him with the backside of her scythe, sending him flying. He gasped as he landed on his side, and groaned as he quickly got back up.
“Those are the worst directions I’ve ever heard!” he complained as he gripped his side. Carina merely shrugged.
“Sorry, but beggars can’t be choosers!” She tried to hit him again, but he managed to barely dodge the blow. His victory was short lived though as Carina pointed her open palm at him, and a blast of wind threw him into the air. He landed on his back near the edge of the circle of witches, who squealed in excitement.
“I think you need to start taking this fight more seriously,” Carina gloated. The figure groaned as he slowly stood up.
“I’m taking it as seriously as I need to.”
“Oooo, I love a man with bravado,” Carina said to another round of laughter from her witches. “I know you probably don’t want to hear this from a little girl like me but, if you want to stand a chance against me you should cancel that Shadow Form spell.”
Carina snorted and said, “Because it’s the smart thing to do? Form changing glamours need a lot of concentration to maintain. Right now you’re essentially fighting me at half capacity.”
“Not if you do it properly.”
“So you’re saying that I, Carina, one of the most powerful beings in Sabbath, don’t know how to properly use a glamour spell?” Carina asked, sounding rather annoyed.
“Pretty much,” the figure agreed. “Although saying that your one of the strongest members in Sabbath doesn’t make your group look too impressive.
“What?” Carina asked, as her face began to reflect her annoyance and anger.
“I’ve always been told about how scary and powerful Sabbath is. I’m actually disappointed to find out that their power is only as great as their breasts.” The figure paused, and he could swear that he could her Carina grinding her teeth in rage. Some of the witches began to look at each other worriedly, while others began to protest the figures implications. “That means they’re both childishly small and disappointing.”
“I GOT WHAT YOU MEANT!” Carina roared, clearly heard over her angry witches. She took a moment to regain her composure before saying, “So you think we’re weak. Fine, you can believe whatever you want. Just try to remember that feeling of superiority as you tremble in fear before me!” She raised her scythe into the air and chanted, “Oh great fire, who brings forth life and destruction in equal measure, purge all before me so the world may begin anew! IMMOLATION!” Her scythe became wreathed in brilliant white flame, and she swung it towards the shadowy figure to launch the flames. Before the flames could reach him, the figure threw the magic gem into the quickly approaching inferno. At first nothing happened, but then the flames began to retreat as if they were being sucked up. Eventually the flames disappeared, leaving the magic gem floating above the ground. Before anyone could react, the figure ran up and took the gem.
“Hey! That’s my magic stone! So you’re a thief!” Carina accused.
“Indeed I am,” the figure admitted, his voice no longer being distorted. “In fact I’m the best kind of thief there is! The kind that steals magic!”
“But that’s impossible!”
“Is it? Well I think that this magic gem in my hand that now contains a powerful spell says otherwise.”
“Cari-chan! I’ve heard of this guy! He’s supposed to be really dangerous, so be careful!” one of the witches warned.
“She’s heard of me? I guess I must be getting famous!” the figure bragged as his shadows began to disperse, which made him look more like a human.
“So you’re saying that this was your plan all along?!” Carina asked in disbelief. “Stealing my gem and using it to get one of my spells?”
“Pretty much!” the figure lied.
“It’s a neat plan, but how does it keep me from beating you to within an inch of your life?” Carina threatened.
“Maybe you should ask that after you see what I can do?” the figure suggested as he raised his left hand towards the sky. Storm clouds formed overhead as the shadows around his arm began to dissipate to reveal a gauntlet encrusted with a multitude of magical gems. The clouds grew, and billowed until they looked like storm clouds.
“Hit the dirt!” Carina shouted, but it was too late. Several bolts of lightning rained down and struck the witches’ staves. The staves instantly exploded, and the area once again grew dark. The witches then began to panic, and the figure took the opportunity to barrel past them and run into woods. As he ran, the shadows around him disappeared completely to reveal a scrawny, nineteen year old man. He was relatively handsome, and had short, messy, dirty blonde hair. He wore a worn out woolen tunic, trousers, and an equally shabby cloak. The only thing on him on that seemed to be in decent shape, or worth anything was the gauntlet he wore on his left arm. But the man, named Rolf, didn’t care because he had just finished one of the biggest heists of his entire life.
“I’m sorry sir, but this stone is practically worthless,” the balding shopkeeper said as he finished looking at the magic stone.
“Worthless?” Rolf asked incredulously. It had taken him the better part of a week to reach the small town of Lumen. He wanted to sell the gem he had stolen from Sabbath, and he hoped that he could keep a low profile in the neutral town, which was also why he was keeping his gauntlet hidden. Unfortunately the only shopkeeper in the small town who dealt with magical artifacts wasn’t being very helpful. “What do you mean it’s ‘practically worthless’?”
“I mean it has no real value,” the shopkeeper explained. He placed the gem in front of Rolf and continued, “While magic gems aren’t very common, we get a lot in this size range, and they’re usually in better condition than this. It also seems to have been given a low level fire spell, which lowers the value considerably.”
“Low level fire spell?! How dumb do you think I am?!” Rolf argued as he picked up the gem. He brought it close to the shopkeeper’s face and said, “Take a good hard look. Those flames in there are from the Immolation spell, one of the most powerful fire spells available. And I can guarantee that the caster is a high level mage!”
“That explains the cracks,” the shopkeeper said as he pushed Rolf’s hand away. “A gem like this was never meant to contain magic from high level mages. And I can assure you, while it is a visually spectacular spell, Immolation is a low level spell. Granted you don’t see a lot of mages using it, but that’s due to its high magic cost and lack of utility. Most rather use spells like Pyre or Balefire.” Rolf groaned, and looked at the gem in his hand. He gazed at the red and white flames shimmering in the gem, and noted that he couldn’t see any cracks. He knew he was being swindled, but he didn’t have anything to prove its actual worth. Rolf asked with a sigh, “So how much can I get for this?”
“I can give you ten silver pieces.”
“Fine…” Rolf sighed before handing the gem back to the shopkeeper. The look of delight in the shopkeeper’s eyes filled him with disgust, and he begrudgingly took the silver. As he left the store, Rolf swore that he’d rob the place before leaving town. His stomach growled, and he headed out into town to find some food. He managed to find some bread and a hearty stew at the local inn, but the fact that it cost him four of his newly acquired silver pieces irritated him.
As he ate his stew, he mused that he’d need to look for some trustworthy shops to sell his stolen goods to. He hadn’t had much luck since he’d left the Order controlled territories. He smiled as he remembered how infamous he had become in the Order. Unfortunately, after a particularly memorable encounter with the Archbishop of Lethe, Rolf needed to go into hiding. After traveling through some neutral and monster friendly territories, Rolf came to realize that they weren’t aware of the infamous ‘Spell Thief’ or his methods. Knowing that they had no way to stop him, Rolf had begun to steal from the monsters, and so far it turned out to be quite easy. Of course the shopkeepers had all tried to either dupe or seduce him, which was beginning to be an issue.
After he polished off his stew, Rolf began to eat his bread and looked out the window. He watched the townspeople go about their business, and couldn’t help but notice that a few of them were monsters. He knew Lumen was in neutral territory that leaned closer to being monster friendly, but he still found it odd to see them walking around town. It was going to take a while to get used to that. He also reminded himself that he needed to refer to them as mamono, as they got rather angry when he called them monsters.
As he continued to enjoy the view, including the holstaur who accidentally soaked her clothes in milk, Rolf thought he saw a familiar looking large mouse walk by. She looked like a child, which wasn’t unusual for large mice, with black fur and hair. Her clothing looked odd, and consisted of a red tube top, and large baggy pants that looked like cheese and revealed her undeveloped body. In fact the only thing that kept her from being completely exposed were her grey panties. Finally she had a long rat-like tail, and a pair of cute mouse ears that swiveled excitedly. Rolf watched her skitter about nervously as if she were looking for something. Or more likely someone. He sighed and finished eating his bread before leaving the inn. He began to follow the diminutive monster at a fair distance, while watching her dash from one side of the street to the next. Eventually she stopped in front of the local cheese shop to examine its wares, and Rolf ran up to her and grabbed her top.
He pulled her into a nearby alley, and lifted her to eye level before asking, “Looking for something Rat?”
Rat’s face lit up and she squealed, “Boss! I was looking for you! How’re you doing today?”
“I guess I could be doing better,” Rolf admitted as Rat began to squirm in his grasp.
“Really?!?! What happened?!”
“Well one of the shopkeepers swindled me, I paid too much for stew, and someone forgot that she was supposed to wait for me outside of town if she needed to see me,” Rolf explained with his annoyance clear on his voice.
“Really? Who’s the idiot who couldn’t wait..? Oh! Oh…” Rat said as she slowly realized that he was talking about her. She seemed to wilt as she said, “Sorry Boss… I forgot…”
“I swear you’re the worst informant I’ve ever worked with!”
“I guess I should have known better than to hire you after I caught you trying to sneak into my pants!”
“I’M SORRY!” Rat cried. “I just want to help, but I get so excited to see you, and I forget, and…” Rat continued to cry and apologize, while Rolf stared at the large mouse awkwardly.
“Y-you know… I… You can… You can stop apologizing now. I was out of line, you’re not that bad,” Rolf said clumsily.
“No, you’re right Boss! I’m the worst!” Rat wailed. “Punish me anyway you like! Just try to keep it all inside me!”
“… What?” Rolf asked before he noticed Rat had begun to take off her panties. “Now what are you doing?”
“I’m getting ready for when you use me as your personal cum dumpster for my punishment!” Rolf stared at Rat with her oddly eager smile, and dropped her without warning. She squeaked when she fell, but she managed to land on her feet. When she regained her balance, Rat began to strip again.
“C-could you please stop that?” Rolf asked.
“But how are you going to punish me? Oh! Unless you want to rip my clothes off! Great idea Boss!”
“I’m not going to punish you,” Rolf groaned.
“Now that that’s over with,” Rolf said as he ignored Rat’s comment. “What’s so important that you had to risk people finding out that we work together to come see me?”
“Oh right, right! Get ready for your socks to get knocked off Boss!” Rat exuberantly promised. “I’ve heard some rumours about this shop in Tenebris that has an emerald!”
Rolf pinched the bridge of his nose and said, “That’s great Rat… That’s just what I needed… A regular gemstone…”
“But it’s not just a normal gem!” Rat protested. “It’s a nice, big, green magic stone!”
“Rat, you and I both know that magic gems are colorless unless they’ve been infused with a spell. It might be worth something depending on the spell, but it’s not that interesting.”
“But the rumours say that its spell free! And before you say anything, let me show you something!” Before Rolf could say another word, Rat pulled a book from her pants. It was a fairly large book compared to the large mouse, and Rolf recognized it as the magic encyclopedia he affectionately called the Big Book of Magic. Rat turned to a bookmarked page, and began to read aloud. “While most magic gemstones that have not been infused with a spell are colorless, in rare cases they have been found with color, but without spells. While it is still unknown how this occurs, the leading theory is that these magic gemstones have had prolonged contact with elemental spirits. If true, this theory would also explain the elemental affinity of colored gemstones. For example, a fire spell infused into a red gemstone is twenty five percent more powerful than one in a colorless stone. To further lend credence to this theory, the rarity of colored stones vary with the affiliated element, with earth affiliated stones being the most common, followed by water, fire, then wind. Colored magic stones are named after the precious stones they most closely resemble. Brown stones are called topaz, blue stones are sapphires, red stones are rubies, and green stones are emeralds.”
“Now that is interesting…” Rolf muttered to himself. On the one hand, something like this emerald would be difficult to sell, although he could always keep it for himself. Wind element spells were quite useful after all. Of course that wouldn’t matter if it was just a rumour, but it couldn’t hurt to check it out. He debated both sides in his head before asking, “So where is this Tenebris?”
“So you’re going to go?!”
“I’m still trying to decide,” Rolf responded with annoyance. “So where is it?”
“Right, right. Tenebris is roughly a week away from Lescatie by foot,” Rat explained. Rolf grimaced at the news. Not only did it mean that Tenebris was far away, it was also deep inside monster territory. On top of that it was also really close to the fallen kingdom of Lescatie. He didn’t know much about the monster controlled territories, but even he had heard of how dangerous the monsters in that area were. He quietly deliberated his options, trying to determine if this rumour was worth the risk.
Finally he said, “Alright, we’ll leave for Tenebris tonight. I’ve got some stuff to deal with before we leave, so you can wait for me in the woods on the East side of town.”
“You want me to come along this time?!” Rat asked energetically.
“Of course. We’re going deep into mon- mamono territory, and I’ll need a guide,” Rolf explained. He also hoped that the monsters would leave him alone if he was with Rat, but he kept those thoughts to himself.
“Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!” Rat shouted as she began to dance around the alleyway.
Rat stopped prancing about and answered, “Yeah Boss?”
“Before you leave, could you look something up in the Big Book of Magic for me?”
“Of course!” Rat replied with enthusiasm. “What do you want to know?”
“I need you to look up the spell Immolation.”
“Ok!” Rat hummed as she began to thumb through the pages of the encyclopedia until she found the requested spell. “Let’s see… Immolation… Fire spell known for its searing white flames and large area of effect… Considered to be one of the ten most powerful fire elemental spells…”
“I knew it…” Rolf grumbled. The librarian back home had taught him a bit about magic, but he needed Rat’s help to make sure that what he thought he remembered was true. Now that he knew he was right, he now had an excuse to rob that cheating shopkeeper blind without remorse. “Thanks Rat. I’ll see you tonight.”
“Okie dokie!” Rat gave Rolf’s leg a quick hug before bolting out of the alley. Rolf followed suit a few minutes later, and spent the rest of the day preparing for the journey to Tenebris. Once that was done, he rested until nightfall and broke into the magic shop. It wasn’t nearly as well protected as Carina’s mansion, and he managed to make off with a fair sized pile of gold, various magical items, and several magic gems. He then met up with Rat, and they began their trek.
After two mostly uneventful weeks, Rolf and Rat had finally arrived in Tenebris. Tired and hungry, they both rested underneath the shade of a large tree that grew near the town’s marketplace. They both decided to finish off the rest of their provisions, and began to eat. Rolf was on edge, as he knew that they were being watched. He had noticed it as they entered the town. Several monsters had been keeping an eye on him as if they knew he was single. Some stared at him dreamily, some stole quick glances at him and Rat with envy, while some stopped what they were doing to ogle at him. It made him nervous, and he made sure to keep his gauntlet well hidden. He caught an ogre leering at him as she was passing by, and she winked at him when she realized he was looking.
“I don’t like this,” Rolf muttered after the ogre left.
“You don’t like what?” Rat asked as she finished off her bread and cheese.
“It feels like they’re sizing me up.”
“They probably think it’s weird that we’re out in public.”
“Why would that be weird?”
“We large mice usually keep our male at home, and take turns having super sexy fun times with him,” Rat explained as she squirmed about while trying to hide her blushing face.
Rolf stared at the large mouse incredulously before saying, “Whatever the reasons, it’s going to make our job a lot more difficult than it needs to be.”
“They might stop looking if we start having sex,” Rat offered.
“Don’t make me roast you,” Rolf half-threatened before turning away to look at the marketplace. “So which one of these shops is the one we’re looking for?”
“It’s called ‘Typhon’s Bride’, and it should be the one at the other end of the market.” Rat pointed at a building and said, “That should be it over there.”
“That’s a weird name for a shop. What do they sell?”
“It’s supposed to be a magic shop, but I hear they sell other stuff too.”
“That’s interesting,” Rolf mused. “What do you say about getting to work?”
“Sure!” Rat quickly got up, and helped Rolf to his feet before they made their way across the marketplace. The Typhon’s Bride was an ordinary two floor shop, with only a sign of a couple embracing each other to differentiate it from the other buildings. The inside of the shop had several displays full of goods, and a large counter in the back with a door behind it. What surprised Rolf the most were the monster children trying to keep the shop clean. The girls were all different species and ages, with the youngest being an eight year old arachne, and were all dressed as maids. Ignoring the children and the displays, Rolf and Rat made their way to the counter. The shopkeeper seemed to be away at the moment, so Rolf began to impatiently tap his fingers against the counter as they waited.
“Hey mister!” Rolf turned to the source of the voice, and found a fifteen year old catgirl maid looking at him mischievously. She had dark, olive colored skin which contrasted with the tan fur on her tail, ears, and paws. Her hair was short, brown, and straight, and her deep blue eyes held a devious glint. Finally she had strange golden jewelry around her wrists, neck, and on her head.
“What?” Rolf asked the sudden distraction.
The girl grinned and asked, “At night they come without being fetched. By day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?” Rolf was about to respond when a woman came in from the door behind the counter, and spotted them. She was a taller woman with pale skin and long, dark green hair. Besides her hair, the only feature that marked her as non-human were her enchanting yellow eyes. She wore a low cut, mauve dress that hugged every curve on her body, and displayed her succulent cleavage that her gold necklace disappeared into.
“Bast! You’re not bothering our customers again, are you?” the woman asked.
“No ma’am!” the catgirl quickly denied.
“Are you sure?”
The woman sighed before turning to Rolf and saying, “I’m sorry about this. Bast’s a good kitten, but she’s still a sphinx.”
“A sphinx?” Rolf asked as he turned to look at Bast. The sphinx smiled and waved at him playfully.
“Yup! She’s a genuine riddle loving, adorable little sphinx who can’t help but bother cute guys,” the woman explained. “Of course, she should know better than to bother customers.”
“I’m sorry,” Bast apologized as her ears and tail drooped.
“It’s fine dear,” the woman assured. “Just get back to work please.” Bast nodded her head, and ran to one of the nearby displays. She began to clean, but Rolf could still feel her watching him. “Now that that’s out of the way, I welcome you to the Typhon’s Bride magic shop. I’m Clio.”
“Nice to meet you Clio. I’m Richard,” Rolf lied.
“And I’m Ratrina!” Rat declared as she jumped to peak over the counter.
“It’s a pleasure to meet you,” Clio said with a disarming smile. “You both seem to be from out of town. May I ask what brought you to my little shop?”
“To be perfectly honest Clio, I’m a purveyor of magical gems,” Rolf lied again. “Word has it that you have quite the collection of them.”
“You’re quite well informed Richard. We have the best collection of magic gems outside of the demon lord’s own treasury.”
“May I see it?”
“Of course!” Clio assured as she began to walk to the other end of the counter. There, in a large glass case, was a large number of magic stones on display. Each gem looked incredibly valuable, but Rolf couldn’t see one that could be considered an emerald.
Rat climbed up onto Rolf’s shoulder and asked, “Hey! Where’s the emerald?!”
“Emerald?” Clio asked as Rolf gave his large mouse companion a dirty look. “What’s this about?”
“I must apologize for my associate. She’s excitable, and really quite dim,” Rolf explained apologetically.
“Hey!” Rat protested, but was ignored.
“What she meant to say was that we had heard you had a particularly rare gem. A gem with no magic, but colored green. You wouldn’t happen to have anything like that?” Clio looked deep into Rolf’s eyes, and her friendly expression began to turn suspicious.
“You seem to be very well informed Richard,” Clio said coldly. “We do have a gem that matches that description, but it’s not for sale.”
“Is that so? Are you sure I couldn’t change your mind?” Rolf asked before pulling out a bag from his cloak. He then took out a handful of gold coins, and placed them on the counter.
Clio quickly glanced at the pile of coins and said, “We both know that isn’t enough gold for a gem as rare as the one you’re asking for.”
“That’s true, but I’m hoping it’s enough to tempt you into naming a price,” Rolf said with a grin. Clio stared at him for a moment before bursting into laughter.
“How cheeky! It’s almost as if you’re asking me to take advantage of you!”
“Is it working?”
“Not in the slightest,” Clio laughed.
“That’s too bad,” Rolf sighed in mock disappointment. “I guess there isn’t much else we can do here Ratrina.”
“C-could we at least see the emerald first?” Rat asked.
Clio thought it over carefully before saying, “Sure. Just a quick look though.” She pulled on her necklace, and an eye sized green gem emerged from her cleavage. She took off the necklace, and held the gem in her palm so Rolf and Rat could see it. “Isn’t it beautiful?”
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it,” Rolf truthfully admitted.
“It’s so pretty!” Rat squealed.
Clio giggled at their reactions before saying, “My husband found it when he helped my daughter move to another town. I can’t sell you this one, but I hear that there may be a dungeon close to where they found this one. I think it may be worth exploring, just in case there are more gems like this inside.”
“Interesting. And where would we be able to find this dungeon?” Rolf asked.
“It’s somewhere around the town of Pectora,” Clio said with a smirk. “If you need help, go find my daughter Andromeda. She should be able to help you.”
“Thank you for the information,” Rolf said as he picked up all but five coins. “You can keep those for the information and the viewer’s fee.”
“Thank you for your business. I hope you come back soon!” Rolf and Rat waved Clio goodbye before they began to leave the store. Rat noticed Bast watching them as she pretended to clean the displays, and waved excitedly at the sphinx as they stepped outside.
“So are we going to that dungeon now?” Rat asked.
“Of course not,” Rolf scoffed. “Why would we risk going to a dungeon when we can get what we want here?”
“But why did..?”
“To keep from looking suspicious! Speaking of which, what kind of fake name is Ratrina?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean it’s a really dumb fake name.”
“No it isn’t!” Rat argued. “It’s my real name!”
“So your real name… is Ratrina?”
“Well… Alright then…” Rolf awkwardly said before turning into an alleyway a few buildings down from the Typhon’s Bride. They quickly scanned the alley before Rat jumped off of Rolf.
“So what do we do now Boss?” Rat excitedly squeaked.
“We’ll have to watch the shop for now. I’m pretty sure Clio lives at the shop, but we need to be sure before we do anything.”
“What makes you think Clio lives there Boss?”
“It’s pretty easy to figure out Rat,” Rolf said condescendingly. “It’s obvious from the outside that the Typhon’s Bride has two floors, but customers are only allowed on the first. Since we know the public area of the shop doesn’t take up the whole first floor, it’s safe to assume that the rest of the building is used for either storage, or living space.”
“Wow! You’re so smart boss!” Rat explained.
“I know, but we still need to be careful. There is a chance that she might not actually live there, and we’ll probably be watched by the mon-mamono while we’re scoping out the place. We’re going to have to get this job done fast either way so that we don’t look suspicious.”
“There’s actually one more problem,” Rat mentioned meekly. “We don’t know what species of mamono Clio is.”
“What do you mean we don’t know?” Rolf asked incredulously. “How many of you look like human women with green hair and yellow eyes?”
“There are a few mamono that look human, but the hair and eye color doesn’t really narrow it down. Heck, if she’s good with magic she could have completely change her appearance!”
“Now that is a problem,” Rolf muttered as he started to think about how to solve this issue. They were both quiet for a moment before Rolf said, “I guess we’ll just have to keep an eye out for clues while we’re watching the shop. Other than that, I don’t see what else we can do at this point.”
“O-ok…” Rat mumbled as her ears drooped in worry.
“Don’t worry about it Rat,” Rolf assured. “I’ve managed to think my way out of a few sticky situations. It shouldn’t be too hard to figure out what to do with Clio if she turns out to be a problem.”
“You did manage to outsmart a baphomet…” Rat admitted.
“That’s right. If I can deal with those runts, then Clio’s going to be a piece of cake.” Despite himself, Rolf reached out and pet Rat’s head assuredly. Rat then began to smile, and Rolf felt relieved that she was feeling better. This feeling of relief worried him slightly, but he ignored it so that they could finish planning.
When they finished, they both left the alley and began their watch. While keeping to the marketplace, they watched to comings and goings of the Typhon’s Bride. They also made sure to check for other entrances, and tried to identify Clio, but those efforts proved fruitless. Eventually, as the sun began to set and the marketplace began to empty, they discovered that Clio did live in the shop. Rolf also noted that the monster maids didn’t leave the shop for long either, which meant they lived there as well. This worried him, but he said nothing as they continued to watch.
After darkness fell and the lights in the shop were put out, Rolf turned to Rat and said, “It’s time to get started. Go hide somewhere, but keep your eyes peeled. If anything goes wrong, we’ll need to get out of here as quick as we can.”
“Ok!” Rat whispered before running off. Rolf watched her for a moment before turning his attention back to the shop. It almost looked intimidating in the darkness, and Rolf was overcome with the sudden urge to flee. He smiled instead, remembering that he felt the same way when he burgled his first house. It had been a nerve wracking experience, and he had made countless mistakes, but in the end it had been worth it.
“Just like this one will be,” he muttered to himself before he began to make his way to the Typhon’s Bride. The moon was bright that night, so he waited until he was hidden in the shadows before he activated his Shadow Form glamor. He then chose a section of the wall, and touched his gauntlet to activate his Phase spell before gently pushing himself through the wall. Once he found himself amongst the familiar displays of the shop, Rolf smiled as he made his way to the door behind the counter.
“So far so good,” he whispered as he opened the door, and walked into the hallway it revealed. Unfortunately he spoke too soon, and he cursed under his breath when he noticed that his glamor had been dispelled. He tried to reactivate his Shadow Form, but nothing happened to his dismay. He tried to use several of the quieter spells he stored on his gauntlet, but none of them would activate. “Shit. Something’s neutralising my magic,” Rolf muttered as he began to think of what to do. A part of him still wanted to turn tail and run, but he rationalized that this job was going to be risky no matter what he did. With his mind set, he continued to stalk down the hallway.
At the end of the hallway he found a large dining area and a set of stairs. He quickly looked around the dining room before he made his way up the stairs. On the second floor he found a couple hallways with several doors. He opened the closest door, and peaked inside to find that it was a bedroom. He recognized a couple of the young monsters sleeping inside as the maids from before.
“What is this place? Some kind of orphanage?” Rolf asked himself as he quietly closed the door. He inspected a few more rooms, with each one turning out to be another bedroom with a small menagerie of monster children inside. He was getting annoyed until he opened the door at the end of the hall, and his blood ran cold.
Inside, illuminated by the moonlight streaming in through a large window overlooking a bed made for a queen, a large serpentine woman slept coiled around her husband. After closing the door behind him, Rolf cautiously approached the bed until he was able to recognize that the woman was Clio. Her hair was still the same shade of green, but her skin was now an odd pale blue which matched the markings on her otherwise green, powerful tail. Rolf could tell she wasn’t an average looking lamia, but he couldn’t even guess at what she could be. All he knew was that she was a serpent monster, she was most likely powerful, and that she was naked. Although he noticed that she wasn’t completely naked since she was still wearing her necklace. Rolf stared at the green gem sitting between Clio’s heaving breasts, and found his resolve to continue.
He pinched the golden necklace with his gauntlet covered left hand and tried to activate his Burning Touch spell to melt the chain, but his spell once again failed to activate. He muttered some curses under his breath, and began to search for the ends of the necklace. After a cursory glance found nothing, Rolf decided that he needed to try moving the necklace around when he heard the door creak open.
“Hey mister,” a familiar voice whispered. Rolf quickly turned around to find Bast looking at him quizzically from the doorway. Much like Clio, Bast was completely naked and Rolf got a generous view of her lithe body and beautiful dark skin. “What are you doing in my parent’s room?”
“Parents?” Rolf asked while quickly glancing at Clio. Weren’t monsters supposed to give birth to more of their own kind? Did they adopt? He quickly decided to ask Rat later, and turned his attention back to Bast. “I’m here for a business meeting with your mother.”
“Really? Why would mom want to have a meeting in her bedroom? In the middle of the night?” Bast asked as a mischievous grin began to spread across her face.
“It’s a secret meeting,” Rolf bluffed as he began to mentally kick himself for not coming up with a better excuse.
“So why’s she asleep?”
“I guess she must have gotten tired waiting for me. Bast giggled at his answer, and Rolf began to sweat nervously.
“Wow! Mom was right, you are a natural liar! Although she never thought you’d be a thief,” the sphinx accused. Rolf was about to refute her but Bast asked, “So mister, would you like to play a game of riddles with me?” It took Rolf a moment to understand what she was asking.
“Riddles? Why would I want to play a game of riddles with you?”
“Weeeel, if you don’t I’m going to scream. And I have to warn you, mom and dad get really cranky when you wake them in the middle of the night.”
“I-I see… I suddenly have the urge to compete in a test of wit!” Rolf announced. “So if I win, you can go back to bed and forget that you ever saw me.”
“And if I win, you have to do anything I tell you,” Bast purred.
“Sounds fair I guess,” Rolf agreed as calmly as he could manage. He didn’t like the situation, and he definitely didn’t like her terms, but he knew he didn’t have the option to decline. “So what’re the rules?”
“Easy. We’ll each take turns asking a riddle. The first person to get it wrong loses,” the young sphinx explained. “I’ll go first. At night they come without being fetched. By day they are lost without being stolen. What are they?” Rolf recognized the riddle from that day, but he still didn’t know the answer. He pondered over the possibilities until he looked out the window and saw the answer.
“That’s easy. The answer’s the stars,” Rolf answered smugly. “My turn. What has..? What?” Rolf asked when he noticed that Bast had begun to act strangely. The sphinx’s eyes seemed like they were glazing over, while her face had begun to look flushed. Her breathing seemed laboured, and she seemed to be trembling. Finally, and most alarmingly, Bast had brought one of her paws to her crotch, and was making lewd, wet noises as she masturbated. “What are you doing?” Rolf asked, desperately trying to keep his fear out of his voice. Bast didn’t answer him, and instead ran up to him and clung to his chest. Surprised by the catgirl’s sudden actions, Rolf almost fell backwards onto the bed. Luckily he managed to keep himself from falling over with his arm while he tried to fight off the amorous sphinx, although he thought something was off when he felt something warm and soft underneath his palm. He heard someone moaning behind him as he managed to grab Bast by the scruff of her neck, and threw her to the floor. She managed to land on all fours, and glared at him with hungry eyes while she drooled. She also seemed to be dripping vaginal fluids, much to Rolf’s disgust. He righted himself and turned around so that he could try to rip the necklace off of Clio’s neck, only to find the afore mentioned snake woman awake.
“I’m flattered Richard, but I’m a married woman,” Clio coolly explained as she began to rise out of bed. Her movements woke her husband, a thin but muscular naked man, and he groaned as he sat up to wipe the sleep from his eyes. “I know they aren’t as developed as I am yet, but I’m certain my daughters could help satisfy your urges all the same.” As if on cue, Bast jumped onto Rolf’s back. She then began to purr as she playfully licked and nibbled his ear.
“S-shit!” Rolf yelled as he tried to throw the naked sphinx off his back, while she began to hump his back. After failing to throw off Bast, Rolf decided his energy would be better spend trying to get away, and he ran to the door. Clio had other plans however, and she slammed the door shut with her tail before he could reach it. She then tried to ensnare Rolf with her tail, although he proved too nimble for her to catch. He desperately thought about how to escape when he heard the sound of a sword being drawn from its scabbard.
“Sorry for taking so long Clio,” Clio’s husband said as he stood next to her with his sword at the ready. “Did he hurt you?!”
“No he didn’t Typhon, although you need to be careful. He has Bast on his back,” Clio warned.
“NO! Not my cute little Bast! Don’t worry Kitten, Daddy’s coming for you!” Typhon proclaimed loudly. Bast moaned lustfully in response, and began to kiss Rolf’s neck. Rolf shivered in ‘disgust’ before he noticed his escape route.
“It worked once before, so I might as well give it a shot!” Rolf muttered to himself before making a mad dash to the window. Clio tried to stop him with her tail, but he managed to evade her and jumped through the window. As he fell through the air and broken glass, he aimed his gauntleted arm towards the ground. “Gods! Please let this work!” he prayed as he tried to activate his Cyclone spell. Rolf smiled as he saw the small tornado form underneath him and slowed his freefall enough for him to land softly on his feet. When the spell dissipated, he raised his gauntlet to the sky and activated his Barrier spell to keep from being showered with broken glass. “Yes!”
“M-mister! I-I’m ready, so p-please p-put your d-d-d-dick in me! P-please…” Bast moaned softly into his ear, ending his celebration.
“Sorry kid, but you’re my hostage now,” Rolf said as he awkwardly reached over his shoulder to pet her head. “And hostages don’t have any say in what happens to them.” Bast didn’t respond as she was too busy purring contently. She then began to moan in protest when he stopped petting her to get his bearings. He suddenly heard a raging battle cry, and looked up in time to see the still naked Typhon jump out of the window, and land gracefully in front of him. “Aw shit…”
“Where do you think you’re going with my daughter fiend?” Typhon asked threateningly as he pointed his sword at Rolf. “If you return her to me I’ll let you go, but if you’ve harmed even a single hair on her head I swear you won’t live long enough to regret it!”
“Please mister! I want your babies!” Bast cried out in her desperate lust. “I-I want them! I want you! Please!”
“B-Bast? Kitten? You don’t actually want to stay with him do you?”
“D-daddy? Of course I want to stay with him! I love him!”
“B-but Kitten! He’s a very ba-” Typhon began, but he was interrupted by the massive fireball Rolf had thrown at him. Rolf’s jaw dropped however when Typhon effortlessly cleaved the fireball in two. “See what I mean Sweet Pea? He attacked me before we could finish talking! He’s a true villain!”
“I don’t care!” Bast cried as she clung tighter to Rolf.
“Sorry for interrupting… Whatever this is, but how did cut a magical fireball with a sword?!” Rolf asked incredulously.
“Ha! Like a fiend such as yourself could understand JUSTICE!” Typhon mocked. Annoyed, Rolf launched a blast of lightning at the sword wielding nudist, and ran down the street. As he was running, he almost freaked out when he felt something jump onto his back and climb up to his free shoulder.
“Boss! It’s me Rat!” Rat said reassuringly. “What’s going on?!”
“Hey! What are you doing on my husband?!” Bast asked sounding both angry and sexually frustrated.
“Husband?” Rat asked, sounding perplexed. “But he was my Boss before he became your husband, so I have more of a right to be here than you do!”
“Just ignore her Rat,” Rolf chastised. “I’m using her as a hostage to help us get away!”
“Really? But if you want to get out of town we need to go the other way!” Rat explained.
“Now she tells me…” Rolf groaned as he skidded to a stop. He then leaned back in time to dodge Typhon’s surprise flying kick. ‘Great. Let me guess. You can cut lightning too?!”
“Maybe,” was Typhon’s cheeky reply. “But I’d never have guessed that you’d be able to dodge me. You might just be worthy of marrying my daughter after all!”
“I don’t want to marry your brat!” Rolf retorted as Bast began to kiss his neck again.
Rat stopped glaring jealously at Bast to ask, “So who is this guy Boss? And why is he naked?”
“Trouble. And I don’t know…”
“That’s enough banter,” Typhon announced as he readied his sword. “It’s time to fight!”
“Shit!” was all Rolf could say before Typhon charged at him. He barely managed to dodge Typhon’s first strike, and countered with a blast of wind magic. Typhon was thrown through the air, but he recovered mid-air and ran at Rolf the moment his feet touched the ground. Rolf was ready for him however, and launched a blast of ice and snow at the swordsman. Typhon smirked before he slashed the incoming spell, and continued his advance unhindered. “H-how?!”
“It’s amazing what you can do with a little EXPERIENCE!!!” Typhon shouted as he stabbed at his foe. Rolf managed to dodge, but he realized that Rat and Bast were weighing him down.
“Rat! I can’t fight like this! Get the sphinx off me and go hide!” he commanded. Rat nodded in understanding, and moved onto Bast’s back. She then began to tickle the catgirl’s unprotected sides until she started laughing uncontrollably.
“N-no! HAHAHA! S-stop! Hehehe! I can’t! I can’t hold on! Haha! NOOOO!” Bast laughed as she and Rat fell off of Rolf. Rat then pulled some rope and a ball gag from her baggy pants, before quickly restraining Bast. Judging by the sounds the sphinx made, Bast seemed to be enjoy the act more than she thought she would.
“Got him Boss!” Rat called out before trying to pull Bast into an alleyway to hide. She didn’t get too far however since Bast was almost twice her size. With the added weight removed, Rolf was able to fight on equal footing. Granted Typhon was stronger, more skilled, and had much more fighting experience, but Rolf was now able to dodge and counter more effectively. They both continued to exchange blows until Rolf slipped and fell to his knees. Typhon approached to deliver the final blow, but Rolf punched the ground. A mass of earth and stone immediately heaved up, and buried Typhon up to his neck.
“W-what sorcery is this?!” Typhon complained after he tried to move unsuccessfully.
“It seems to be a Grave spell dear,” a familiar voice explained. Rolf quickly scrambled to his feet, and turned to see Clio Slithering towards him wearing her mauve dress. “It’s actually quite clever. You can’t cut something if you can’t move your arms, and even most mamono can’t do much when they’re buried up to their neck. Very good.”
“How long have you been there?!” Rolf asked.
“I’ve been here for a while. I don’t know why you’re so surprised, it’s not like you two were being particularly stealthy. By the way, thanks for stalling him dear!”
“I wasn’t trying to stall him…” Typhon grumbled to himself.
“Oh stop pouting. Now then, I’ll be your new opponent.”
“B-boss! You can’t fight her!” Rat desperately cried out. “She’s an echidna! She might look like a normal lamia, but she’s a powerful magic user!”
“Normally I’d tell you to stop underestimating me Rat, but I think you’ve got the right idea today!” Rolf announced before bolting towards the mouse girl. Clio watched him run, but she snapped her fingers before he could reach Rat. At her command, a large stone wall erupted around her and Rolf. Rolf instinctively activated his Phase spell, but he still crashed into the wall. “OW! What happened?”
“It’s actually quite simple. The Phase spell allows one to pass through mundane barriers like walls, but it’s useless against a magical barrier,” Clio explained. “The only way to get past my Stone Wall is to defeat me. But before we get started, could you tell me your real name Richard?”
“Rolf? Well Rolf, while you are a thief in need of a good thrashing, you never hurt my daughter. While your partner may have awakened Bast’s inner masochist, I still think you deserve a fighting chance.”
“That’s pretty generous of you,” Rolf sneered. “Aren’t you worried that I might have something up my sleeve that could take you out?”
“You might, but I doubt it,” Clio said with a smirk. “I will give you three tries to take me out though.”
“Three tries? I feel insulted!” Rolf said in faux indignation.
Clio giggles and said, “Such bravado! I don’t know where you get your self-confidence, but believe me when I say you’ll need every one! So cast any three spells you think will take me down!”
Rolf smiled and said, “Fine. I’ll make you regret underestimating me!” He raised his gauntleted hand into the air. Clio mimicked him just in time to catch the large, purple bolt of lightning that came down from above.
“Indignation? Did you really think you could just take me down with one shot?” Clio asked, although Rolf couldn’t tell if she was angry or impressed. “Unfortunately for you, Indignation is as predictable as it is powerful. It always comes from the same direction, so it’s pretty easy to block if you know how. You now have two tries left.”
“Shit…” Rolf cursed under his breath. He thought hard about what to do before punching the air in front of him. A small ball of light shot out of his fist, and rocketed towards Clio. She waited until it got closer, and backhanded the light, sending it towards her wall. The ball then exploded violently once it came into contact with the wall.
“That was quite the Kaboom spell,” Clio praised. “Although I have to wonder why a thief would need such a spell. It’s not particularly sneaky.”
“True, but I find it can be pretty handy if you need to make an emergency exit,” Rolf countered. He didn’t like having his methods questioned by a monster.
“I guess that could work. Too bad it didn’t work out this time. You have one chance left.” Rolf thought long and hard about what to do next, before he dropped to his knees and lifted his arm as if to punch the ground. Clio aimed her palms at the ground, but Rolf smiled as he instead aimed his palm at her. His gauntlet was engulfed in brilliant white flames before they were launched towards the echidna.
“Gotcha!” Rolf shouted as he enjoyed the look of shock on Clio’s face. It was short lived however as she raised her arms and closed her eyes.
“O’ Lady of the sea, great ruler of the oceans. Arise from thine ancient bed to wash away those who would harm thine people! Tidal Wave!” Suddenly a surge of water sprang forth from beneath her, and came crashing towards Rolf. His Immolation spell collided with the growing wall of water, and was unceremoniously extinguished. Rolf readied his gauntlet to counter, but Clio chanted, “And may your servants come forth to claim their lost treasures!” Several inky, black tentacles burst out of the ground, and ensnared Rolf as the water engulfed him. He desperately fought against the tentacles, but the more he thrashed about, the tighter the tentacles held him. He was about to run out of breath when he noticed Clio had slithered up to him.
“Shh, it’s ok. It’ll all be over soon.” She said softly as she began to take off his gauntlet. He had forgotten it in his panic, and Clio had removed it before he could react to what was happening. She held it in her hands to examine it before saying, “It’s a little gaudy, but it’s almost beautiful in its own way.” Clio turned her attention back to Rolf, and he found it difficult to look away from her brilliant, yellow eyes. “See? There’s nothing to worry about. All you have to do is go to Sleep.” Rolf suddenly felt his eyelids grow heavy, and his limbs began to feel like they were made of lead. He was so tired that he was only vaguely aware of the water receding and his feet coming into contact with the ground. Clio caught him as he fell forward, and Rolf fell asleep with his head resting against her breasts.
A week later, Rolf found himself standing at an alter with Clio and a sea bishop. He was handsomely dressed, but he wasn’t terribly excited as the choir began to sing. At the other end of the room, Clio’s arachne daughter and slightly older oomukade daughter began to walk down the aisle while spreading flower petals. Typhon, who was still naked for some reason, followed after his daughters with Rolf’s soon to be wives on either side of him. Bast wore the skimpiest wedding dress he had ever seen, and looked as happy as a girl who had discovered that she was a princess. The traitorous Rat, who was supposed to be helping him escape, wore a pair of white panties with matching ribbons in her hair and on her tail. She was practically pulling Typhon down the aisle, and waved excitedly when she spotted Rolf. He groaned and turned to see Clio, who was wearing an elegant black dress and his magic stone encrusted gauntlet. She half-jokingly aimed her palm at him, and shook her head when she noticed Rolf looking at her. He turned back to the procession, and solemnly watched as they approached the alter. Typhon hesitantly let go of his daughter and Rat, and took his place next to his wife.
“C-can you believe it Boss?! We’re finally getting married!” Rat squealed as she stood next to Rolf.
“Yeah… Finally…” Rolf grumbled as Bast moved to his other side.
“I thought we went over this Ratrina!” Bast scolded. “You’re supposed to call him Hubbie now!” The sphinx then squeed before hugging Rolf’s arm.
“I know that!” Rat said as she took hold of Rolf’s hand. “I’m just so used to calling him Boss! It’s going to take a while for me to get used to calling him Hubbie!”
“Now, now you two. This isn’t the time for this,” Clio warned as she approached the trio with a small box in her hands. “There will be more than enough time to argue over your husband later!”
“S-sorry mom…” Bast apologized.
“Me too…” Rat agreed.
“It’s ok. Just remember that today supposed to be one of the happiest days of your lives,” Clio said with a motherly smile. She opened the box to reveal four rings with a magic gem on them. Bast and Rat both took two of the rings, and put one on their ring finger. They then both took turns putting their second ring on Rolf’s ring finger. He looked at the rings, and he began to cry silently when he noticed the green gem on Bast’s ring. It was from the emerald that had gotten him into this mess. Clio had broken it up to turn into wedding rings for her children, which meant that the gem on his finger was soon going to be completely worthless. “Oh my! I never expected to see you get so emotional Rolf!”
“I… always cry at weddings…” Rolf lied as he fought back the tears.
“That’s cute, but you should try to stop so that we can get started. This is a happy day remember!”
“Ok…” Clio slithered back to her spot next to Typhon, and the sea bishop approached the Trio.
“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join this man, Rolf, with the lovely Bast and Ratrina in joyful matrimony. Before we may begin, I ask that if there are any who would not see these three wed, please get your spiteful asses out of here!” the sea bishop joked. The crowd laughed, and the sea bishop waited for them to calm down before she continued. “With that out of the way, it’s time for the best part! Bast. Ratrina. You may now strip the groom!” And thus ended Rolf’s single life.