• Bubapedia Error 503 Backend fetch failed

    Our technical staff are continuing to monitor the wiki to try and resolve these ongoing issues that are impacting page and image loading. We apologize for the inconvenience. We'll update as soon as we've got more information on this for you.

  • Check out our new Mysterious Garden forum style if you haven't already - we're sure you'll love it!
  • If you are finding yourself unable to log in, you should be able to fix the issue by following the following process.
    1. Close all browser tabs with any part of Bulbagarden open.
    2. Delete all Bulbagarden.net cookies (and if possible, any cached site data for Bulbagarden) from your browser.
    3. Close and reopen your browser, open a new tab, and log into the forums on the new tab.
    If you've followed this process and are still having issues, please contact us via the "Contact us" link at the bottom of the forum.

MATURE: Dawn of Courage (Chapter 108 Up)

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

He Who Laughs Loudest is Lost


The heroic group were continuing on their mission to stop the Undead King and his Undead Army. They were heading to the next village in hopes of picking up supplies. Along the way they had fought some monsters and were busy collecting the useable parts from them.

“Okay, we managed to get a few nice things from our foes today,” Sir Reginald said. “We got some more Bat Seed wings, some Red Platy tails, Snap Rat tails, Devil Kid spears and wings, and some Drill Mole claws. That’ll fetch a decent amount of pocket change.”

Van nodded, “Indeed, Sir Reginald. And facing these monsters is good practice for us when we get to the bigger battles against Muu’s forces. Now, let us be on our way and hope we don’t have any real issues to deal with until we get to the next village.”

Nodding the heroic party made their way down the road toward the next village. After about an hour they finally made it to the nearest settlement. It was a nice, cozy village with plenty of people bustling about while children played.

“Okay, we’re here,” Nina said. “Now, let’s market off our monster parts first. We already know what the Bat Seed wings and Devil Kid wings and spears will fetch. Now, if memory serves, the Snap Rat tails can be sold at monster part shops for 7 copper each, the Red Platy tails can be sold to butchers for 13 copper each, and the Drill Mole claws can be sold to weapon shops for 20 copper a pair. So let’s get that out of the way first before we do anything else.”

Nova nodded, “Right. Lead the way.”

The party went about the village, doing business and bartering for good prices. After a short time they had finished their needed errands and decided to take a break near the center of the village.

“Okay, we got some decent pocket change from the monster parts and managed to get some good supplies for now,” Kettu said. “We still need to shop for food, as we’re starting to get low, but the potions and such took priority, as we can simply hunt and forage if need be. Especially since Van is surprisingly stealthy when it comes to hunting wild animals like boars.”

Van smiled, “Thank you for the compliment, Kettu. We Centaurs are a warrior race, so we need to know how to sneak up on our foes, be it monsters or prey. We can be deceptively sneaky for our size. After we’ve taken a break let us continue with our shopping. Then I suggest we head for the inn for the night.”

Suddenly, some kids ran past the party, with one saying, “There’s a guy performing a magic show by the front of the village!”

“Let’s check it out!” another kid said.

Nova pondered, “A magic show? I admit it does make me curious, as I have a fondness for stage magic. I even know a few tricks myself thanks to summer camp. …Boy did I hate summer camp. Let’s check it out for a bit of fun.”

Nina nodded, “Sure. I wonder what kind of tricks will be shown.”

“I guess it couldn’t hurt to check it out,” Sir Reginald said. “After all, even warriors need a bit of fun every now and then. Let’s go see.”

The party made their way to the front of the village where a strange figure was standing. He looked like an anthropomorphic hyena, covered in spotted fur, had claw-like hands and feet, bright orange eyes, a muzzle full of sharp teeth, a hyena’s tail, and a mane of hair on his head. He was dressed in a sleeveless vest over a blue tunic, long blue pants, a belt full of different pouches, knee-high toeless boots, and a headband.

“It’s a Beastman,” Kettu said.

“Step right up for a grand show!” the Beastman said in a real showman’s voice. “I’ve got quite the performance for you, my fine friends. If everyone is ready we can begin.”

He started to perform various stage magic tricks, one after the other, causing the crowd to applaud at each trick. After a short time he pushed a large box with giant question marks on it into place.

“Okay, for my final trick I need a volunteer,” he said. “Let’s see…” He survey the crowd before walking over to Nova, “You there, my young friend. How about you be my assistant for this final display?”

Nova’s eyes widened, “What?! Me?!”

The Beastman dragged Nova over, “Come now, no need to be afraid. Don’t want to look like a chicken in front of that pretty lady, now do you?”

Nova blushed at the thought before reluctantly complying.

“That’s the spirit!” He turned to the crowd, “Now, with my helpful assistant here, I will place him inside this box and if everything goes accordingly both he and the box will disappear.” He pushed Nova into the box and closed it up, “On the count of three. One… Two… Three! Alakazam!”

The box was engulfed in several small explosions of smoke. When the smoke cleared the box was gone along with its occupant.

“And there you have it! Thank you all for being a great audience!”

The villagers applauded and tossed various coins into a dish that was in front of him before moving on.

Nina stepped up to the Beastman, “Okay, now that the show’s over, please bring Nova back,”

“Oho! Don’t see too many Phoenix Clan members way out here. Now… um… about your friend… it would appear that my magic went a bit overboard, as… how do I put this? …He’s gone.”

It took a moment for that statement to sink in before Nina exclaimed, “WHAT?! He’s GONE?! Well, get him back!”

The Beastman replied, “Well, you see, little lovely lady, it would appear that my magic went a bit too far and it sent him to another dimension.”

Kettu narrowed his eyes, “I smell a rat. And I’m not taking about those Snap Rats we dealt with earlier.”

Meanwhile, in a darken area, Nova was slowly regaining his senses.

“Oof…” he grunted. “What the hell happened? Where… am I?”

He looked around to see only darkness, trying to feel his way through the tight, enclosed space.

“What the hell?! Where in blazes am I?” He gave a defeated groan, “Looks like we fell for a conman. Or, rather, I did. Now, how do I get out of here?”

Meanwhile, Nina stated, “Another dimension!? You can’t be serious! Bring Nova back this instant!”

The Beastman stroked his chin, saying, “You’re responding in quite the tone, young lady. Is Nova, perhaps… your boyfriend?”

“B-B-Boyfriend?!” Nina sputtered, clearly taken aback by the question. She struggled to respond, blushing, “I… well… He… umm… Nova… uh…”

The Beastman replied, “Well, don’t you worry, I can bring him back. It’ll just take a bit of time for me to figure out which dimension he got sent to. Maybe you can assist me? Hmm?”

Sir Reginald, Kettu, and Van all had unimpressed expressions on their faces, clearly knowing what was going on.

Meanwhile, after fumbling around in the dark for a bit Nova gave a defeated sigh.

“Looks like I’ll have to bust my way out. I’d hate to summon Elora for something as trivial as this but since I’m having enough trouble figuring out left from right I’m gonna need her.” He took out a Summoning Sticker from his Digi-Pack, placed it on the back of his right hand, and stated in a strong voice, “Elora, come forth!”

At the time, Sir Reginald was beginning to lose his patience, “Enough with the flirting, Beastman. Just bring Nova back.”

The Beastman replied, “That’s easier said than done, as—”

However, the ground began to shake, startling everyone. A moment later Elora burst out of the ground nearby, giving a hiss as she did.

“A G-Gorgon Viper!? Where did THAT come from!?”

Nina’s eyes widened hopefully, “It’s Elora!”

Elora shook off the dirt from her body, got out of the hole she had made, lowered her head back into it, and a moment later lifted it back up, with Nova clutching onto one of her horns.

“Whew…” he said. “Glad I’m out of there. I’m already cowardly enough. I don’t need to tack claustrophobia onto my list.”

Nina turned to the Beastman, glaring at him with venomous eyes, who was looking a bit nervous.

“‘Another dimension’, huh?” she snarled. “You con!”

She jumped into the air, did a few front flips, and prepared to axe kick the Beastman, who ducked his head in panic.

“Nina, stop!” Nova stated.

Nina had to hastily flap her wings in order to stop her downward strike. Her wings were flapping out of synch as she tried to right herself in midair before finally returning to an upright position, hovering off the ground. She flew over to Nova, who gave a sigh of relief.

“Nova, are you okay?” she asked. “Why won’t you let me give this guy what for?”

Nova, who was still dangling from Elora’s horn, replied, “He’s not worth it. It was just one trick. Nothing truly serious or anything. And I’m unharmed, which proves it was just a harmless prank. No harm, no foul. It felt more like an elaborate April Fool’s prank or a practical joke, as the victim, me, isn’t hurt. And I can take a joke, especially since the universe is out to get me. So don’t beat his skull in, as he’s not worth it. I’m not too happy about it but since the trick was more or less harmless then I don’t feel the need to punish him.”

The Beastman looked at Nova hopefully, saying, “Thank you! Thank you for forgiving me! I admit I get a bit carried away whenever I see a pretty lady and your Phoenix girl companion certainly fits the bill. Sorry for my little prank.”

“Like I said, I can let you off the hook because I’m unharmed. But try not to pull something like that again, as others might not be as forgiving as me. Besides, you did put on a good show, as your stage magic tricks were fun to watch, so I’ll let you off with a warning.”

Sir Reginald gave a sigh, “Be thankful that Nova’s a good sport about this. Otherwise Nina’s axe kick would’ve been the least of your worries. Just watch who you pull something like that on next time, as they might not be as forgiving as Nova.”

The Beastman nodded, “Yes, yes, I understand. Thank you for being so forgiving.”

Elora gently put Nova down, allowing him to dust himself off. Nina tackled him in a hug, clearly happy that he was safe, making him blush.

He turned to Elora, “Thanks again for your help, Elora. Sorry I had to summon you for something so trivial but I appreciate you getting me out of that situation. To the Spirit Plane.”

Elora nodded before vanishing in a flurry of sparkles. Nova then took the Summoning Sticker off his hand and placed it in his Digi-Pack.

The Beastman said, “I’m curious to know. How did you acquire a Gorgon Viper as a familiar? Aren’t they considered dreaded due to their nasty temperaments and general disobedience?”

Sir Reginal explained, “Elora was a wild Gorgon Viper that Nova nursed back to health. He ended up winning her trust and she’s been his familiar ever since. And she’s something of an exception: unlike other Gorgon Vipers she’s generally very friendly and unquestionably loyal. She follows Nova’s instructions to the letter and has been incredibly helpful to our mission.”

“Mission?”

Nina replied, “Nova is the Demon King’s current champion. So we’re on the mission to destroy Muu and his forces once and for all. As a result, it was most fortunate that Nova bonded with Elora. Having a familiar that was bred specifically to hunt Undead has been an exceptionally useful to our quest in stopping Muu for good.”

The Beastman went slack jawed, “You’re going up against Muu? Aren’t you afraid of him?”

Nova replied, “Me? Afraid of Muu? Of course I’m afraid of him, you’ve gotta be batty not to be afraid of an ancient super evil being. I’m afraid of all manner of ghosts and undead as I have plasmophobia. Yet, sadly, I was selected by Belzebuth to be his champion against Muu. I have no idea what his reasonings are for selecting a coward like me who is afraid of the very thing I’m tasked to fight but here I sit. I know I can’t go home until I defeat Muu so I just grin and bear it. I hate every second of every fight I have with Muu’s forces and I’m stuck with this gig until either Muu dies or I die, whichever happens first. So I just do my best and hope I can get out of this whole event alive and with all my pieces intact.”

The Beastman’s eyes were wide, “You’re willing to fight Muu despite being afraid of him and his kind? That’s… amazing. Not many would be willing to face Muu even if they weren’t afraid of Undead. And yet, despite your fear of him you’re willing to take the fight to his front door in hopes of ending this 3,000+ year nightmare? That takes guts. I remember some friends who challenged Muu’s forces. They did pretty well, too, having destroyed several platoons. That is, until Muu sicced General Vertebreak on them. From what I heard it was quite the slaughter. The survivors fled while the souls of the fallen were harvested. I don’t know for sure if this information is correct but I have heard that, once in a while, Muu will take a captured soul and fuse it with an Undead Soldier to turn it into a new Undead Captain or General, depending on his needs. Only his Captains and Generals can steal souls from those they have slain, but those souls are then stored in a magical crystal for later use. At least, that’s what I’ve heard.”

Kettu gained a grim expression, “So… that rumor is true. Any victim of Muu’s Captains or Generals has their souls captured and are used for Muu’s nefarious purposes like creating more Undead Captains and Generals. I was afraid of that. That means Muu could easy use the souls of his victims as meat shields to fend off our attacks.”

The Beastman replied, “Not quite. While, yes, he’ll use those souls to create new Captains and Generals to expand his army, from what I’ve heard once said new Captain or General is slain the soul is freed from its grip and is able to ascend to the afterlife safely. The soul itself becomes a power source but once the new body is destroyed the soul is purified and freed, thus preventing Muu from snatching it again and repeating the process. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. My information may not be completely accurate, but it appears the best way to save the souls that have been captured by Muu is to destroy the bodies of the Undead Captains and/or Generals in order to set them free. They are meat shields in a sense, yes, but once defeated the souls used to power those new bodies are released and allowed to ascend peacefully.”

Sir Reginald stroked his chin, “Hmm… even if what you said may not be totally accurate, it does give us an idea of how Muu can expand his army further. This is actually useful knowledge, as it means we need to hunt down and destroy every single Undead Captain and General in case some of them are being powered by captured souls of Muu’s victims.”

Kettu said silently, “Then maybe there’s still hope for me to save him…”

The Beastman asked, “Please, allow me to accompany you. Your mission to fight Muu has inspired me to join the battle. And the fact that your little champion is willing to take on such a daunting task despite being afraid of the very thing he’s fighting is rather inspiring. Please, will you allow it? I happen to have some good friends who know some useful information on Muu. Sadly, they’re in the next kingdom of Aquatica, but since you’re probably going that way anyway I can see if I can track them down and see if they’ve got some new dirt on Muu. Will you allow it?”

Everyone took a moment to ponder before exchanging nods.

Sir Reginal replied, “Okay, welcome to the party. Just no more con artist tricks, okay?”

“You’ve got a deal. Oh, I guess I should introduce myself since we’re gonna be working together. My name is Zeeker Cackle. And thanks, for both giving me a chance and forgiving me for my little trick.”

Nova replied, “I’ve seen worse con artist scams. At least you put on a good show. And at least you’re nowhere near as bad as Dominic. Welcome to the team, Zeeker. Now, we need to finish our supply shopping and head for the inn so we can be well rested for our next mission.”

Everyone nodded in agreement. They gathered up their stuff and returned to the village to complete their shopping, one member stronger.

Next Chapter: Skullmania

That's it for today. Will Zeeker help contribute to the cause? Or will he spend his time flirting with Nina? Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Skullmania


It had been a couple of days since Zeeker had joined the ranks of the heroic party. They were nearly at the next checkpoint that would lead to one of the neighboring kingdoms. At the moment they had stopped to take a small break near a river.

Van turned to Sir Reginald, “Hey, Sir Reginald, how far are we from the next checkpoint?”

Sir Reginald took out the map and said, “We should be no more than a day away. Then we can cross into Aquatica Kingdom.”

Nova asked, “What’s this Aquatica Kingdom? Is it like a kingdom of merfolk or something?”

“Not quite, Nova, but you’re not far off, either. Aquatica Kingdom is ruled by the Hopper Clan, or frogmen if you prefer. It’s a small but prosperous kingdom. Just make sure to avoid the Hopper Clan’s cuisine, unless you like eating things like roaches, worms, and other such creatures. That said, the Hopper Clan can eat normal food like the rest of us, they just prefer their own cuisine when able. The current ruler is King Kermit Bubblehop alongside Queen Julia, plus a prince and princess. They’re good allies to us so securing their help would be beneficial to our cause.”

Nova quirked an eyebrow, “Frogmen? And their meals include worms, roaches, and the like? And their ruler is named Kermit? Now where have I heard all that before? Strange coincidence if that’s the case. Hopefully the kingdom isn’t being held hostage by a demon imposter claiming to be the prince that forces us into a cookoff or I’ll be having a serious case of déjà vu.”

Nina fluttered her wings a bit, smiling, “I take it that’s something from your games back home, Nova?”

“Mostly, except the Kermit part, as that comes from a rather famous frog Muppet character that I like to watch. Shame I don’t have some of my handheld game consoles with me, as they could help me burn off some serious stress right now. Would be really nice as all these battle with Undead Soldiers has been really gumming my gears.”

Suddenly, they saw a knight riding one of those bird creatures run up to them. Nova instantly began to dread what it meant.

“Sir Reginald!” the knight called out.

“Lieutenant Samson!” Sir Reginald stated, standing up. “Is there a problem, Lieutenant?”

Samson replied, “I have news from the capital. There is a new Undead Base that was just built south of the checkpoint. Fortunately, the Undead Army platoon stationed there haven’t done much except build the base but I have orders from King Hendrik for you to go there and shut the base down before they have a chance to settle in. From what our intelligence network told me it is led by Captain Skelesare.”

Kettu quickly checked his notes before saying, “That’s certainly a new one. I have no information on this Captain Skelesare, and I’ve got pretty much the entire line of Undead Captains in my notes.” It then dawned upon him, “Wait! Maybe it’s one of those new Undead Captains that Muu creates using a soul of a victim and fusing it with an Undead Soldier!”

Zeeker gained a grim expression, “That’s a distinct possibility. From what you’ve all told me, Muu has lost some considerable ground and several Captains because of you lot. To start retaking the areas his forces were removed from he might be desperate enough to create a brand new Captain using a captured soul as a power source.”

Nina nodded, “Yeah, that sounds like something Muu would do. Looks like our next mission is upon us.”

“Joy…” Nova said, completely deadpan.

Kettu said silently, “Maybe… maybe it’s him… Maybe I can finally make amends for my mistake… Just maybe…”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Thank you for this information, Lieutenant Samson. Return to your post at once. We will handle Captain Skelesare and his platoon before they can become a problem. Good work, soldier.”

Samson saluted, “Thank you, sir!”

He and the bird creature raced back in the direction of the checkpoint while Sir Reginald turned to the group.

“Okay, troops, let’s start devising a plan,” he instructed. “If our foe is being powered by a soul of one of Muu’s victims then we need to do everything we can to save that soul from its eternal torture. If what Zeeker said is true then simply destroying the body will free the soul from its clutches, purify it, and allow it to ascend to the afterlife peacefully. That is our top priority in this fight. Nova, we’re going to have to refrain from using Elora in this fight. She provides us with excellent power but we cannot risk her hellfire accidentally hurting the captured soul if that’s the case. Is that okay with you?”

Nova gave a defeated sigh, “Even though it’s not okay with me it’s gonna have to be done that way. Elora won’t like sitting out a fight with her ‘prey’ but if her hellfire could be potentially hazardous to the captured soul then so be it. This’ll increase the odds against us but it has to be done in order to save one of Muu’s victims from his grip.”

Everyone nodded and began mapping out a strategy. After about half an hour they had nailed down a potential battleplan and made their way to the Undead Base. It wasn’t long before they found it. Unlike most Undead Bases this one stuck out, as it wasn’t in a conspicuous area.

“Looks like Muu is getting more upfront about where he puts new bases,” Nina said.

Van replied, “He probably doesn’t care about being conspicuous when he’s trying to retake areas he’s lost to our side. But, at the same time, that makes our job a bit easier. So let’s do it.”

Nova loaded up an arrow, stating, “I’ll get their attention. Ifrit Mode. Dragon Strike.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself to Ifrit Mode. Nova then fired the arrow, which took the form of an electrified dragon, and slammed into the front gates of the Undead Fortress, blasting them off. Inside was a platoon of Undead Soldiers along with a new face. Captain Skelesare looked like he was mostly sturdy bones with a sharp torso, long arms and legs, a fairly long neck, a large skull that had an elongated chin with large, straight teeth, glowing eyes, and what looked like an orb inside his chest.

Nova quirked an eyebrow, “I dunno about you, but that guy looks like a more realistic version of SkullMan.exe from the MegaMan Battle Network games. Strange coincidence.”

Captain Skelesare gave a creepy giggle, “Kehehehehe, so you decided to come to us instead of having us hunt you down, Demon King puppet? Thank you, that’ll make things so much easier. Men, take them down!”

The Undead Soldiers charged in, ready for battle. The party drew their weapons and began their counterattack.

Captain Skelesare held out his hands, saying, “Kehehehehe, have a taste of my Ghost Fire!”

He fired bluish fireballs at the party, forcing them to dodge while also trying to defeat the Undead Soldiers. Kettu transformed into his Werebeast form to even the odds and give their side more power. When he got a clear shot Nova took aim and fired another Dragon Strike attack. The attack hit the new Undead Captain but when the smoke cleared Skelesare looked largely unharmed.

“Kehehehehe, not bad, Demon King Puppet. But I’ll have you know I’m a lot tougher than past Undead Captains you’ve faced. All thanks to this soul that is powering me. Now, let’s see if you can handle this!” He lower arms detached themselves and floated around him. They then started to spin and were thrown at Nova like boomerangs, forcing him to dodge the attack.

“Nova!” Nina cried out. She turned to Skelesare, “Try this on for size! Flame Burst!”

A pyramid of fire erupted underneath the Undead Captain but when the fire burned out Skelesare was only lightly damaged, much to her surprise.

“Pretty fireworks, girlie, but not enough to beat me,” the Undead Captain cackled as his arms reattached themselves. “Let’s see if you can handle my Skull Crusher!”

To everyone’s surprise he launched his skull high into the air. A brief moment passed before it came crashing down upon them, now ten times the size of what it was before, forcing the party to hastily dodge the attack. His skull then shrank back down to normal and reattached itself. At this point the party had dealt with the Undead Soldiers, now leaving the Undead Captain alone. He hurled his arms at them again, forcing them to scatter in order to avoid the fast-moving attack.

“Ghost Fire!”

He fired more bluish fireballs as the party, this time from his mouth since his arms were flying around, trying to hit the heroic party. After a minute his arms reattached themselves to his body, making him snicker.

“He’s a lot tougher than past Undead Captains,” Kettu observed. “Plus he doesn’t seem to have any form of exploitable weakness we can use.”

“He said the soul that powers him gives him more strength,” Zeeker said. “That means Muu can create stronger Captains and Generals by using captured souls compared to his standard brand of soldiers. That’s something we need to keep in mind in case we face another special Undead Captain or General like this.”

Captain Skelesare giggled, “There won’t be a next time for you, furball, as I’ll eliminate you once and for all today. Skull Crusher!”

He fired his skull into the air again. Nova then got an idea.

“This might do the trick,” he said. He loaded up another arrow before saying, “Lucifer Mode!”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now on Lucifer Mode.

“Here goes something. Fire Shot!”

He fired the flaming arrow toward the now motionless body of the Undead Captain. He quickly loaded up another arrow.

“Wind Cutter Shot!”

He fired the second attack which was now coated in wind. The two arrows quickly combined and became a massive flaming missile, much to everyone else’s surprise.

“Did Nova just perform a combo skill!?” Nina sputtered.

The combo attack rammed into Skelesare’s body and blew up, utterly destroying his body. This caused the now descending skull to disintegrate as it fell. When it hit the ground it shattered like glass before vanishing, ending the fight. Everyone gave a sigh of relief.

“We did it,” Sir Reginald said. “That was one of our tougher fights and yet we still succeeded. Good work everyone.”

Just then the captured soul appeared and floated toward them. Everyone waited tensely to see what was going to happen next.

“Please be him…” Kettu said silently, having transformed back into his normal form.

The soul took shape and before long standing before them was a frogman knight.

“Thank you, my saviors,” the frogman knight said.

“You’re a Hopper Clan knight!” Sir Reginald said.

The Hopper Clan knight nodded, “Indeed, and before I move on I have some grave news to report. Aquatica Kingdom has been captured by Muu’s forces. We were ambushed by General Samurot and his platoon. We tried to fight back but were overpowered and defeated. I fell in battle against General Samurot, hence why my soul was collected by him and turned into this new Undead Captain that you managed to defeat. The Royal Family is being held hostage and we are in desperate need of help. I know that during the scuffle Prince Angelo Bubblehop got separated from the rest of us Hopper Clan members. Knowing him he won’t be very far away from Fort Aquatica, our home, but he won’t be able to fight against that many Undead Soldiers by himself. Please, seek him out so he can aid you in retaking our kingdom from Muu’s forces. The Undead Army hasn’t made any other moves against other civilizations since capturing the capital: that alone is an accomplishment, but they will soon. Please, I implore that you free Aquatica Kingdom from Muu’s grip and save the Royal Family from a miserable death like I suffered.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “You can count on us. We will make sure General Samurot will pay dearly for capturing one of our allies. So we need to seek out Prince Angelo Bubblehop in order to gain his assistance? Leave it to us.”

The Hopper Clan knight gained a warm smile, “Thank you. Now I can rest in peace knowing our kingdom is in good hands. Be warned, however, as Muu used my soul and fused it with an Undead Soldier as a test
as he’s aware you have managed to uproot several of his frontline forces. Seeing how successful it was he may resort to fusing more captured souls with Undead Soldiers to create new Captains and Generals for his army. Please, be careful and save my people. That way I can rest in peace. Good luck.”

The soul transformed back into a sphere and shot up into the sky, ascending to the heavens.

Nina clutched her fists, “I can’t believe Aquatica Kingdom has fallen. I wonder when this happened? But regardless we need to liberate the kingdom from Muu’s grip before other innocent souls are harmed.”

Van nodded, “Indeed, Nina. Let’s first destroy the Undead Base and then make our way to Aquatica Kingdom posthaste, as we need to seek out Prince Angelo Bubblehop in order to help retake Aquatica Kingdom.”

Nova turned to Sir Reginald, “Sir Reginald, please erect a barrier so I can shoot the Magna Crystal that is powering the base from a safe point.”

Sir Reginald nodded and began channeling energy. Everyone got behind him as he continued to charge up energy. He then released pulses from his hands, creating the barrier. Nova loaded up another arrow, taking aim at the Magna Crystal in the Undead Base.

“Devil Mode,” he said.

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself to Devil Mode.

“Dragon Strike.”

He fired the archery skill at the Magna Crystal. The crystal started to hum and shake as it became more and more unstable. It then exploded, destroying the base in the process, leaving nothing more than a pile of rubble and a smoldering crater behind.

“Okay, that takes care of that. Now, let’s head for the checkpoint to Aquatica Kingdom and see if we can find this Prince Angelo Bubblehop so he can help us take back his kingdom.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed, Nova. Let us make our way to the checkpoint posthaste so we can find Prince Angelo Bubblehop as soon as possible. We need to liberate Aquatica Kingdom quickly before General Samurot decides to execute his prisoners for more souls. Let’s go.”

Knowing their mission the party started to make their way toward the checkpoint. They had to find Prince Angelo Bubblehop before Aquatica Kingdom fell to Muu’s army for good.

Next Chapter: The Princess and the Frogman

That's it for today. Looks like Muu is testing out new ideas for the future. Will the heroes be able to overcome it. Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

The Princess and the Frogman


It had been a few days since the heroic party defeated Skelesare and freed the trapped soul within him. They had since crossed the checkpoint into Aquatica Kingdom and were searching for Prince Angelo Bubblehop. The terrain was mostly fresh water ponds, rivers, and swamps, with lots of vegetation and insects.

Nova looked around, “This terrain is certainly fitting for a clan of frogmen. Plenty of fresh water, swamps, and bugs. No wonder they set up shop in this area of the continent.”

Nina couldn’t help but giggle, “Very true, Nova. The Hopper Clan thrive in areas where there’s plenty of fresh water. They can’t handle salt water, although they’re fine on ships, but in fresh water environments they are in their element. They also don’t like dry, arid locations, which should be obvious. And, as you can probably guess, they also specialize in Water and Ice magic. I just hope we can find this Prince Angelo before General Samurot decides to start making moves on the various other settlements in this kingdom.”

Sir Reginald looked at the map, saying, “It’s a good thing that Aquatica Kingdom has a small territory compared to other kingdoms. They’re still a prosperous kingdom and a vital ally to our cause so we need hurry and find Prince Angelo before General Samurot kills the Royal Family. Now, according to my knowledge of Fort Aquatica, it is smack in the middle of a giant lake, so we’ll either need a boat or have to hitch a ride on a Hopper Clan’s transformation form.”

Nova gained a crooked smile, “Don’t tell me, let me guess. They can transform into giant frogs, right?”

“Yes, that’s correct. Though it’s not the easiest skill to learn, from what I’ve been told. It takes quite a bit of practice to be able to transform back and forth between their normal form and their giant frog form, so unless Prince Angelo has the ability to become a giant frog we might have a bit of trouble getting to Fort Aquatica.”

Nina gave a heavy sigh, “At least the Hopper Clan retained that power, unlike my clan who lost both the Magic Fire Feathers and the power of the Phoenix because of our greed corrupting our bloodline. While I possess the Magic Fire Feathers I know that the power of the Phoenix is lost to even me. Shame, really, as if I could become a phoenix I could carry all of us anywhere we need to go easily. But there isn’t anything that can be done about it so we’ll have to hope that Prince Angelo has the ability to turn into his giant frog form or we’re gonna have some trouble taking back Fort Aquatica.”

Nova asked, “If you could become a phoenix would you be big enough to transport all of us?”

Kettu replied, “Never seen a phoenix before, have you? Well, one from this world, anyway. Phoenixes are huge. They can carry small armies on their backs with ease. If you thought that Tin Hawk was huge, phoenixes flat-out dwarf them like it’s no one’s business. And that’s just standard phoenixes. From what history says about the Phoenix Clan is that their phoenix form was even larger. If Nina could become a phoenix she could easily carry all of us with plenty of room to spare. Sadly, we don’t have that option, which is a bummer, but that’s what the Phoenix Clan gets for letting greed corrupt them.”

Nina nodded, “Sad but true. My clan paid the price for our misguided greed, resulting in our current state of powerlessness. The fact that I was gifted, or compensated, depending on your view, with the power of the Magic Fire Feathers is something that was my clan thought they’d never see again. And thanks to their greed and abuse they’ve been robbed of that power again since I ran away. At least I don’t have to see another Phoenix Clan member again now that I’m on this mission to stop Muu. Good riddance. But let’s get back on track. Any ideas on where to find our frog prince?”

“He’s probably laying low until he can either get help or find a way to take back Fort Aquatica,” Sir Reginald said. “From what I’ve been told Prince Angelo is a rather happy-go-lucky guy, but at the same time he can be quite the force when needed. The fact that he was either forced to flee or got stuck in a situation where he couldn’t help fight back means our enemy is going to be a tough nut to crack.”

Van nodded, “Agreed. We need to find Prince Angelo post-haste so we can help take back Fort Aquatica before General Samurot decides to start making his next move. The only question is where to find our hoppy friend.”

Zeeker looked around, “He’d probably be lurking in a pond or swamp in order to lay low until he’s given an opening to retake his homeland. Most Undead beings don’t like water, as they can’t swim and will crumble to dust if they sink too deep. So how they were able to take down Fort Aquatica, which, as Sir Reginald said, is surrounded by a huge lake, is surprising. I know that there is an aquatic specialist in Muu’s army, though I forget his name, but I doubt he’d spearhead the attack on Fort Aquatica.”

Kettu turned to him, “That would be Captain Boneacuda and his army of zombie sharkmen. However, he’s stationed
his naval force out at sea in order to prevent Muu’s enemies from crossing the ocean into his territory. So there’s no way he’d be relocated here just to capture one small kingdom, especially since he’s Muu’s only naval army. No, they probably just did things the old-fashioned way: with boats. You’d think that Aquatica would arm their capital with cannons or something to keep such attempts at bay.”

“They probably felt the lake was enough of a deterrent for most threats,” Nova said. “Naval forces aren’t exactly easy to form and train, so they probably would have the homefield advantage if they stayed at Fort Aquatica. Obviously, that wasn’t enough this time so I hope they’ll learn from this and do like you said: install cannons to shoot down enemy ships before they become a problem. When we take back Aquatica let’s give them that suggestion for future events.”

Van looked up at the sky, “We should see if we can find a magical campsite soon, as the sun is starting to set. Hopefully by then we’ll have found Prince Angelo.”

The party pressed onward. As they traveled the marshy land they occasionally fought some monsters that were lurking around. By the time the sun was getting low in the sky they had found a magical campsite near a small but deep pond.

“Well, here’s the campsite,” Nova said. “And still no sign of our frog prince. Guess we’ll just have to call it a night and try again in the morning. I’ll start making dinner.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Right. Van, Kettu, and I will set up the tent and get the sleeping bags ready. Lady Nina should help Nova with preparing dinner while Zeeker should gather firewood, as this campsite is lacking in the element.”

Everyone nodded and went to work on their assigned tasks. After a few minutes the campsite was set and Nova was starting to make a delicious dinner.

Suddenly, they all heard a voice, “Excuse me.”

They all looked around, trying to pinpoint the source of the voice.

“Who’s there?” Van stated.

Suddenly, the nearby pond started to bubble, alerting everyone to it. A moment later something huge emerged from the pond. It looked like the head of a giant frog with frills on the side of its head and big, bright red eyes. Everyone instinctively got into a battle-ready state.

“No, no, no!” the frog said. “I am not the enemy. I am Prince Angelo Bubblehop and… well… I’m kinda stuck in a bad situation.”

Everyone relaxed upon hearing this, giving a sigh of relief.

“So, this is where you’ve been hiding,” Kettu said.

Sir Reginald stepped up, “We have been looking for you, Your Majesty. I am Sir Reginald Ganner, General of the Galvatar Royal Knights. This is the Demon King’s champion party. We were informed by a fallen member of your clan that Fort Aquatica has been captured by General Samurot. Is that true?”

The frog gained a sad expression, “Yes, I am afraid it is. I managed to get separated in the struggle but at the same time I was cursed and now I’m stuck in this form. Please, you must help me. If you’re trying to help take back my kingdom I will gladly aid you. But until I can regain the ability to shift back and forth between my two forms I’m completely useless outside of transporting you across the lake to my kingdom.”

Nina pondered for a moment before saying, “If it’s simply a curse then Curse Breaker should be enough to remove it, as it can remove both curses and the effects of botched spells. Now… does anyone of us know Curse Breaker?”

Van replied sheepishly, “I’ve been learning it but I haven’t quite gotten the hang of it yet. I don’t think I can cast it right now, not until I get some more practice in.”

Nova said, “Then maybe I can use the Demon King Ring to act as a cheat and cast the spell without needing to learn it normally. It’s worked on past spells so I don’t think it shouldn’t be an issue this time. For good measures I’ll set the ring to Demon Mode for that extra kick.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, that might be our ticket. Give it a go, Nova.”

Nova stepped up to the giant frog and pointed his right hand at him.

“Demon Mode,” he said.

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now on Demon Mode.

“Here goes something. Curse Breaker!”

He fired off the magical energy, which caused sparkles to rain down upon the cursed frogman. What looked like two orbiting rings of negative energy appeared and suddenly shattered, followed by a burst of the same energy lifting off Angelo’s body.

“Try now.”

Angelo closed his eyes and began concentrating. His body flickered with energy but it then fizzled out, making him sigh.

“No, it’s not good,” he said. “Well, that’s not entirely true, as I can feel that most of the curse has been lifted. But it appears there’s a second layer to this curse, one that cannot be cured with Curse Breaker. Damn those skeletal schemers. Now what?”

Everyone pondered for a moment before Nova said, “Well… maybe all you need is a kiss from a beautiful young maiden like in those old story books and fairytales? It’s a long shot but better a long shot than no shot at all.”

Angelo’s eyes widened with delight, “Ohohoho! I could get behind that. Let’s try it. It couldn’t possibly hurt.”

Nina replied, “Sure, but where are we going to find a bea—” Her eyes then widened as the realization sunk in, “Oh no… No, no, no, no! You can’t mean me, right?!”

Zeeker snickered, “Do you know any other hot babes that are around here, Nina? I think you fit the bill quite nicely.”

Nina looked alarmed, “Y-You can’t be serious! I can’t… I… There’s no… I just…”

Nova placed both hands on her shoulders, saying, “It’s for someone in need, Nina. We don’t know for sure if it’ll work or not but it’s worth the roll of the dice. It’s just one kiss, and it’s not like you need to kiss him on the lips. Just a smack on the forehead should be enough. I know that some people consider their first kiss to be sacred but we need you to make that ‘sacrifice’ for the greater good. We need Prince Angelo’s help and he needs ours. Please, Nina.”

Nina looked into Nova’s bright green eyes and could feel her defenses weakening. After a long moment she slumped her shoulders and wings defeatedly.

“Okay, okay…” she sighed. “It’s for someone in need and for the greater good. He needs us and we need him. I just have to keep telling myself that. Okay… let’s get this over with.”

She reluctantly walked over to the frog prince, who was looking her over with interest.

“You’re quite the lady,” Angelo said. “I greatly appreciate you doing this. While we don’t know if it’ll work I’m very grateful you’re willing to help.”

Nina gave a defeated sigh, “Yeah, well… if it wasn’t for the fact we need each other’s help I wouldn’t do this. It’s for someone in need and for the greater good… I gotta keep reminding myself that…” She took a deep breath before saying, “As Nova would say, ‘Here goes something’.”

She mustered up the courage before kissing Angelo in between the eyes. His skin felt wet and slimy on her lips. Nova felt a small twinge of jealousy as she performed the kiss. As she kissed him more negative energy flew off of Angelo’s body, seemingly freeing him from it. Nina quickly retreated back after completing her task, wiping her mouth vigorously.

“Yes… YES, I can feel the evil energies leaving my body!” Angelo said happily.

He closed his eyes and began to concentrate. His body glowed and in a burst of light a new form was standing before them.

Angelo’s true form was that of an anthropomorphic frog. His body was rotund and mostly green in color, with webbed hands, a short neck, a dome-shaped head with large red eyes and a larger mouth. He was dressed in what looked like regal clothes crossed with armor, consisting of what looked like a waterproof tunic and pants with a breastplate, shoulder pads, short sleeves, armored boots, a fancy belt with various pouches and a rapier strapped to it.

He danced happily as he returned to normal, saying, “Thank you, thank you for freeing me from my curse! I could just sing for joy.” He started to vigorously shake Nina’s hand, “Thank you, my wonderfully wonderful Phoenix friend! I feel lighter than air thanks to your noble deed.”

“Don’t mention it,” Nina replied gloomily. “Seriously, don’t mention it, as I’d rather not remember this incident. My first kiss had to be used to break a curse… I’m not too happy about that… but it was for the cause… Just don’t ask me to do it again.”

Sir Reginald turned to Angelo, “Your Majesty, now that you’ve returned to normal can you fill us in on the details of what happened to your kingdom?”

Nova replied, “It’ll have to wait until after dinner, as it’s now ready. Good timing, too. We might as well let our hopping friend join us, as it’ll not only give us a chance to get the details of what happened but bonding over mealtime is always considered a good thing.”

Angelo smiled, “Thank you, my noble, pink-haired friend. I would be glad to join you for dinner. Then I can give you the rundown on what happened and what we’re up against. You obviously need my help in retaining Fort Aquatica and I need your help in saving my family and friends, so let us work together and solve this crisis.”

“So, the old, ‘I scratch your back, you scratch mine’ routine, eh?” Kettu said. “Works for me. Let’s eat and then learn what we’re up against. I have some information on General Samurot but not a whole lot. If you can provide us with more info then Reggie can map out a battleplan.”

“My name is NOT ‘Reggie’!” Sir Reginald snarled. “It’s Sir Reginald! You’re clearly doing that on purpose!”

“Ya think?” Nova said dryly. He then said in a serious tone, “It can wait. Let’s eat first and move on from there. Good thing we have a spare sleeping bag for Prince Angelo, as we won’t be able to tackle the task of dealing with General Samurot and his Undead Army platoon tonight.”

Angelo replied, “Please, just call me Angelo. I don’t mind formalities but I feel this is not the time nor place to worry about it. Yes, let us eat so we can be at full strength when we take back my kingdom from those undead fiends.”

Everyone gathered around the campfire as Nova served them dinner. They quickly tucked into the food, clearly happy at its quality. Nina was very quiet, still sulking a bit from what she had to do.

“It was for the mission,” she said silently. “Anyone would do it if it was to help someone in need. I just gotta keep telling myself that. I’m looking forward to smashing General Samurot and his boneheaded goons to bits in revenge for this. I did not like giving up my first kiss to lift a curse… but it had to be done. Who would’ve guessed that a kiss would be the last key needed to lift a curse like in those old fairytales and such? Truth is stranger than fiction. Hopefully by tomorrow we can liberate Aquatica Kingdom from Muu’s forces so I can put this misery behind me. Well… at least it wasn’t as bad as dealing with my greedy clan so I guess it could’ve been worse. I’m still far from pleased about it but it had to be done for the greater good. I hope my next kiss will be on a more… desirable target.”

Next Chapter: Operation Retake Fort Aquatica

That's it for today. Looks like Nina had to pull some serious Disney maneuvers in order to save the day. Will Angelo help our heroes retake Fort Aquatica? Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, violence)

Operation Retake Fort Aquatica


It was that same night. The party had finished dinner and were discussing some battleplans for retaking Fort Aquatica from General Samurot and his Undead Army platoon. Angelo was telling them everything he knew about this Undead General and his army so the party could design a better strategy.

After about an hour Sir Reginald said, “Okay, I think we’ve got ourselves a good plan. We left some wiggle room in case we need to improvise but overall the plan is pretty solid. Thanks to Prince Angelo and Kettu’s notes we managed to devise a way to deal with General Samurot without too much issue. He’s still an Undead General, though, so don’t take him lightly. After all, the first rule of combat is ‘Don’t underestimate your opponent’, as it can be costly if you do.”

Nina nodded, “Agreed. But I know that Muu and his army have been underestimating us, which is how we’ve managed to gain so much ground back from him. He’ll eventually realize that very same rule and start taking us more seriously. But we might as well take advantage of that while we can. Hopefully with the information we have on General Samurot we can get the jump on him.”

Angelo smiled, “I thank you all for the fact you’re willing to help me take back my kingdom from those zombified goons. I just hope we’re not too late.”

Nova replied, “Yeah, me too. Time is against us right now but if we’re lucky we may be able to get the drop on those undead goons before they have a chance to properly retaliate.” He looked up at the sky before saying, “Let’s pack it in for the night so we can be rested for tomorrow’s big mission. I hope you don’t mind sleeping in a sleeping bag, Angelo.”

“I’ll be fine, don’t worry. Tomorrow can’t come soon enough as I want to rescue my family from Muu’s clutches. But rest is important. Let us hit the hay and await tomorrow’s dawn.”

“Hopefully you don’t mind getting up at 6 AM, since that’s when Sir Reginald wakes us up,” Nova grumbled. “I’m not a morning person so I never get up before 7 AM but thanks to Sir Reginald we now get up at the crack of dawn, which is not pleasant.”

Sir Reginald chuckled, “That’s just how us soldier types work, Nova. You’d better get used to it as we’ve got a long trip ahead of us. But let’s turn in for the night so we can get our needed rest for tomorrow’s mission.”

Everyone gathered up their stuff and entered the tent to rest. After rolling out another sleeping bag for Angelo the party quickly fell asleep, knowing they had a big job tomorrow.

Dawn broke the following day. Nova was making breakfast, looking a bit miserable due to waking up so early while the rest of the party awaited their meal. After a round of eggwiches and water the party gathered up their stuff and started to make their way toward the lake where Fort Aquatica resided.

A few hours later they stopped at the shore of a large lake. It was massive and somewhat oval-shaped, and smack in the middle was a large castle crossed with a fortress.

Angelo stepped up, saying, “There it is: Fort Aquatica, my home and castle. I will help get us over the lake to it, as there is a hidden entrance just underneath the backside of the castle. Time for me to shine.”

He waded into the water, concentrated, and before long he was in his giant frog form.

“Hop on,” he said.

Everyone except Nina climbed onto his back, leaving very little room to move.

“I’ll fly over, as there isn’t much space left on you and I might as well use my wings since I have them,” the winged woman said.

Angelo replied, “Very well, but keep a low profile. Now, let us go.”

He started to swim through the clean lake, carrying the party with him while Nina gently flew beside him. They crept toward the back end of the floating castle, keeping a low profile as they did. Eventually they came to a hidden dock underneath an elevated part of the castle. Angelo cautiously swam toward it, everyone ducking to avoid smacking their heads on the stone structure while Nina hovered slowly behind them. They reached the dock and Angelo sunk a bit further down into the water to give the party the needed room to climb onto the dock. One by one they all clambered off Angelo’s back until it was just him. He partly crawled onto the dock before transforming back into his normal self. Nina then landed on the dock now that everyone was safe.

“Quick question: why was this hidden entrance made?” Zeeker asked.

“It was made for emergencies and in case someone took over the castle,” Angelo said. “Basically to help aid in evacuations or stealth missions to retake the castle. And that’s exactly what we’re here to do. Now, let me at the door, as it has a special lock that only a member of the Hopper Clan can remove.”

He walked over to the locked door. He placed a webbed hand on it, causing several lights to start weaving around it and before long the door creaked open, revealing a hidden passageway.

“There we go. This passageway will take us through the underwater basement of the castle. Oh, don’t worry, you won’t get wet or anything, as the basement is watertight. Its position is just underwater in comparison to the rest of the castle. But it’s perfectly safe. Now let us go. Follow me.”

Angelo led the party through the now-open door. Inside they found a rather intricate labyrinth of passageways that wove through the basement, though it was obvious that Angelo knew which way to go. After about 30 minutes they came to a dead-end. Angelo pulled a lever nearby and it caused a wall to slowly move, revealing the royal bedchambers. He cautiously looked around before turning to the party.

“Okay, the coast is clear,” he said. “But we need to know what’s going on with the people and my family.”

Kettu stepped up, “Leave that part to me. I’ll use my stealthy fox form to get a good idea of the status of the Hopper Clan members and the Royal Family. Give me about 10 minutes to scope things out. If I’m not back by then come after me. Hopefully that won’t be the case but keep that in mind.”

Everyone nodded and Kettu transformed into his black fox form. He sneakily slipped into the royal bedchambers and disappeared into the castle. Everyone waited patiently for the Werefox to return. Finally, after just shy of 10 minutes Kettu returned unharmed. He transformed back into his normal self and turned to the party.

“Okay, I think I’ve got the general gist of the current situation,” he said. “The Royal Family is being held in the dungeons. From what I can surmise they’re a bit ruffled but largely unhurt. General Samurot is holding their crowns and playing with them almost like trophies while sitting on the throne, including one that I’m guessing is yours, Angelo. The civilians also seem to be largely unhurt but they are being held hostage and the knights are unable to fight back lest they sustain casualties. After all, that Undead Captain we recently fought was powered by a soul of a fallen Hopper Clan knight so it’s very possible that others may have fallen as well. Fortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a huge number of Undead Soldiers, and they’re all the standard bread and butter soldiers, so picking them off will be easy. The last bit of information I got is that they’re planning to attack the nearest village soon, so we need to nip that in the bud.”

“Good work, Kettu,” Van smiled. “Your stealth abilities leave nothing to be desired.”

Sir Reginald said, “Okay, now that we know what we’re up against let’s go over the plan one more time just to be on the safe side.”

Everyone nodded and reviewed the plan one more time to ensure that they had their strategy down pat. After a few minutes of discussing and reviewing the plan the party crept out of the hidden passageway and started to make their way deeper into the castle.

“Right… let’s do this!” the knight stated.

The party began their attack on the Undead Soldiers, completely taking them by surprise, much to the shock and delight of the captured Hopper Clan. To everyone’s surprise Angelo was not only quite agile despite his size and weight but deceptively strong, as he was able to effortlessly smash through several Undead Soldiers like a wrecking ball.

“For a guy his size and weight Angelo is surprisingly light on his feet,” Nova said, dumbfounded. “And he’s basically going one-man army on those boneheads. I can see why we were tasked to seek him out, as he’s proving to be an absolute force of a frogman.”

However, not long after Angelo had to stop to catch his breath. The rest of the party covered for him as he recuperated his strength.

“True, but he doesn’t have the stamina to keep it up for too long,” Nina observed. “Still, when he does have the vigor in him he can certainly prove to be quite the helpful ally.”

After Angelo had recovered the party stormed their way to the throne room where General Samurot was waiting for them. Like his namesake he looked like a decaying shogun with two katanas and impressive, if somewhat battered, armor. His sunken eyes glared at the party.

“So, you came to meet your fates, Demon King puppet and friends?” he growled in a rather gravely voice. “You will soon regret this decision. But you did make things easier for me, so I thank you for that. Hmm?” He then noticed Angelo, “Ah, I see you rescued the frog prince from his cursed state. Here to reclaim your family and friends, you toady? That won’t happen, as I’ll kill you here and now alongwith your allies.”

He tossed the crowns he was playing with aside, stood up, and drew both katanas, ready to fight. The party got into a battle-ready pose, knowing they were in for a tough fight.

General Samurot charged in, showing surprisingly high speed for his size, forcing the party to scatter to avoid taking a hit. Sir Reginald then locked blades with the decaying samurai, showing his strength and started to push the Undead General back.

Van gave his spear a spin before stating, “Let’s see you take this! Meteor Throw!”

He threw his spear, now coated in fiery energy. Sir Reginald managed to dodge the incoming attack, allowing General Samurot to take the full blow, being engulfed in an explosion. Van’s spear flew back and returned to him, making him smirk as General Samurot took a moment to recover.

“Flame Slash!” Sir Reginald stated.

His sword was coated in flames before he performed a powerful downward slash, leaving a sizable gash in General Samurot’s body that also left a few burning embers.

Nina started to channel energy into her rings before stating, “My turn! Mini Boom!”

She charged up energy before firing a concentrated blast at General Samurot, engulfing him in a decently sized explosion that knocked him off his feet. He managed to get up, dazed but angry.

“You little worms,” he snarled. “You’ll pay for that!” He started to channel energy into his swords before stating, “Have a taste of this! Zombie Swallowtail Slash!”

He moved deceptively fast before performing a powerful and quick attack that forced the party to scatter. His attack effortlessly cleaved up a stone pillar into rubble, startling the party with his strength.

Zeeker raised up his claw weapons, stating, “That was impressive, but let’s see you handle this! Burning Claws!”

His claw weapons were coated in flames and he performed a powerful X-shaped slash that left sizable burning gashes on the Undead General, making him howl in pain.

Angelo started to channel energy into his rapier, stating, “I’ll finish you off for good for what you have done to my family and people! Flame Slash!”

As his rapier was ignited in flames Nova got an idea. He loaded up an arrow and took aim at Angelo’s rapier.

“Ifrit Mode!” he stated, the Demon King Ring adjusting itself accordingly. “Before you attack, Angelo, let me give you some extra firepower! Wind Cutter Shot!”

He fired the Wind-coated arrow directly at Angelo’s rapier. When the arrow collided with the rapier they seemed to fuse, causing the Flame Slash to become a maelstrom of fire and wind, much to Angelo’s surprise. He then gained a smirk and charged in, ready to take down the Undead General. General Samurot retaliated with a downward slash but Angelo gave a strong jump and managed to leap over the attack before raising his rapier up high.

“This ends now!” he roared.

He performed a powerful downward slash that effortlessly bisected General Samurot, with the fire and wind energy combo burning his body to ashes, ending the fight. The magnified skill then vanished after completing its task, allowing Angelo to sheath his rapier safely. He then flopped onto the ground, exhausted but satisfied.

Nova walked over to him, “Nice work there, Angelo. You not only took back your kingdom from Muu’s forces but you defeated one of his Undead Generals. You should be proud of yourself.”

Angelo smiled, “That clever tactic you used to enhance my Flame Slash was very useful, as that helped end this fight in one fell swoop. I’ve never heard of something like that before.”

Nina smiled, “Nova created a combo skill not too long ago when he fused a Fire Shot with a Wind Cutter Shot. That combo skill, which I think should be called Missile Strike, defeated the very tough enemy Skelesare and freed the trapped soul within him. So it’s only natural that he’d figure out a way to create another one. I think we should call that combo the Firestorm Slash.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, both combo skill names have a nice ring to them. But the job is not quite done yet. Van, you and I will head for the dungeons to rescue the Royal Family. Lady Nina, Kettu, and Zeeker should check on the civilians and see if any remaining Undead Soldiers are left. Nova will stay here and keep an eye on Prince Angelo so he can recover. Let’s go.”

Everyone nodded and split up to do their assigned tasks. Nova gently eased Angelo onto one of the thrones, allowing him to rest.

“Thank you for everything you have done for my people, Nova,” Angelo said sincerely. “You truly are the Demon King’s champion in helping me retake my kingdom from Muu’s vile forces.”

Nova replied, “I’m not much of a champion. Everything I’ve done up to this point has been mostly winging it and improvising. The fact that Belzebuth chose me, a man who’s afraid of ghost and undead, to fight the ruler of all undead is both ironic and cruel. I don’t know why he selected me to take charge against Muu but he did and I’ve been fighting both my fear and for my life since I got sent to this rock. Edyn is certainly asking for trouble if they think a coward like me can do the job.”

“You’re afraid of undead? And you’re a coward? Yet you are able to fight so skillfully and courageously? I find that hard to believe, my pink-haired friend. You have proven to be a valuable ally to us and I greatly respect you for what you have done. The people of Edyn will be singing your praises when you help liberate our world from Muu’s grip once and for all, I just know it. We owe you a debt of gratitude for all you have done so far. I just know you’ll become the champion we need to end this war.”

“I wish I could be so sure…” Nova replied gloomily.

Just then Sir Reginald and Van returned with the Royal Family consisting of a king, queen, and young princess. Their eyes lit up as they saw Angelo.

“Angelo!” King Kermit said.

“Big brother!” the young princess cried out happily.

Angelo smiled, “Father, Mother, Jessie! You’re all okay!”

He ran into his family’s arms, allowing them to embrace each other happily. At this time Nina and the others had returned to see the Hopper Clan Royal Family having their happy reunion.

Sir Reginald turned to the others, “What’s the status on the people and any remaining Undead Soldiers?”

Kettu replied, “There are no remaining Undead Soldiers. We got them all. And the civilians are safe. A little ruffled and a bit scuffled but nonetheless okay. So everything is in the clear now, Reggie.”

“My name is NOT ‘Reggie’, Kettu!” the knight retorted angrily.

Nina rolled her eyes, giggling, “And there they go again. Kettu always knows how to bait Sir Reginald, and he swallows it whole every time.”

Nova chuckled, “True, and that’s what makes their interactions so amusing. But at least we managed to retake Fort Aquatica and saved as many lives as we could, since we know from that Hopper Clan knight that there was at least one casualty. Although not perfect, I’ll take what we can get.”

Angelo smiled at his family, “We should celebrate our kingdom’s liberation from Muu’s forces! I will prepare a feast! How does caramel worm pasta, fried cockroach and green onion salad, centipede soufflé, cricket pot pie, and for dessert my signature ruby fly pudding sound?”

The Hopper Royal Family smiled, all saying, “Sounds wonderful!”

“You are all welcome to join us, my friends,” Angelo said cheerfully.

The party exchanged odd looks before shaking their heads.

“With all due respect, Your Majesties, but that menu is not something that people like us can eat,” Sir Reginald replied in a rather cautious tone.

“Ah, yes, that’s true,” King Kermit said. “Our clan does have a rather acquired taste.”

Angelo then got into a polite bow, “Please, Sir Reginald, would you allow me to accompany you? I cannot stand by and let Muu’s forces hurt people the way he does. I feel the need to join the fray and finally rid this world of him. I wish to be part of your brave party so I can help the lives of those who live here. Please, will you allow it?”

Before Sir Reginald could reply King Kermit said, “I, too, feel it is a good idea. It’ll also do wonders for Angelo, as he’ll gain worldly knowledge, allowing him to take the throne as a stronger, wiser man. Please, Sir Reginald, take my son with you. I know he’ll be able to help you overcome our foes.”

Sir Reginald replied, “If you feel that way as well, Your Majesty, then who am I to refuse? Fine, Prince Angelo may join us on our mission to uproot Muu and his forces once and for all.”

Angelo smiled, “Thank you, thank you so much. I promise I will contribute to the cause any way I can. You can count on it.”

Nina smiled, “That’s fine with us. Just let Nova handle the cooking while we travel, okay?”

Everyone chuckled in response. Angelo then headed down to the kitchens to make a feast for his family while the rest of the party took a moment to relax and unwind, knowing their task was completed for now.

A short time later Nova found Nina sitting on a bench near one of the small ponds inside the castle. He sat down next to her, making her smile.

“Penny for your thoughts, Nina?” he asked. “Or should I say copper for your thoughts?”

She replied, “We tend to use copper as pennies are your currency. But that’s besides the point. It looks like our party may be complete now. I just hope it’s enough to turn the tables on Muu’s forces.”

“Well, seven is a lucky number, so it should bode well for us. While I’m no epitome of positivity we have gotten a lot done lately. We even took down an Undead General, which is a nice feather in our caps. We still have a ways to go but we’ve been managing so far. I just hope we can keep it up.”

Nina nodded, “Yeah, me too. We’ve made good progress so far but we’ve only just scratched the surface of our task. Hopefully with our team complete we can turn the tide in this war and ultimately end Muu once and for all. And I know you’ll be the one to deal the killing blow to him, Nova.”

“I’m not so sure about that…” he replied in a dejected tone.

“We’ve really got to work on your self-esteem, Nova. We’ll find a way to win, I just know it. We still have a ways to go but I know we can go the distance. Eventually the blood, sweat, and tears we’ll have shed by that point will reward us with Muu’s defeat and the total destruction of his army.”

The duo went silent before Nova mustered up the courage to ask, “Hey, Nina, I wanted to ask you something for a while now. As you’ve said your clan has a strong loyalty to breed and a very purity of blood mindset. What about you? Would you be willing to marry outside of clan if given the chance?”

She looked at him, “A strange question but I’m willing to answer it. If marrying outside of clan means I can have a loving husband who would treat me with respect and kindness then I’d be glad to marry him. And, frankly, I’d rather not marry one of my own kind, as the clan’s laws would put me at odds with my husband. After all, males are superior to females in my race and the laws reflect that. That’s how my younger brothers got away with bullying me and knew I couldn’t retaliate despite the fact I’m much stronger than them. I intend to pay them back for it. However, for now, I’ve got bigger concerns to deal with. But I wouldn’t mind a husband from another race or clan if he treats me well. Even if it means I dilute my bloodline it’ll be worth it if I can have a loving husband who will care for me and treat me with respect and dignity. Though I’m curious to know why you wanted to ask that?”

Nova replied, “I was just wondering what your stance on that was, as you seemed to be totally against your clan’s mentality. After all, I want you to find a good husband one day so you can live a good life. So I wanted to know if you’d be willing to break your clan’s ways in order to have a better husband.” He then said silently, “I also wanted to know if I stood a chance at winning you over as my girlfriend. Now I know that Nina doesn’t mind the idea of marrying outside of clan it gives me hope that I can possibly win her over.”

Nina smiled, “I see. You want me to have a good future. You’re so sweet, Nova. You truly are my best friend, as you want what’s best for me. Not many would be willing to do that for someone like me. I really appreciate that. I’m glad we joined forces and became allies. You’ve clearly been the best thing to ever happen to me. Since I met you things have gotten better for me and I thank you for it. One of these days I’ll repay you for your kindness. But, for now, let’s focus on our mission. At least with another Undead Army platoon and their leader defeated we’ve gained a solid foothold in our fight against Muu.”

Nova nodded and both looked over the pond in the castle, enjoying its tranquility and watching the various frogmen going about their day, happy to be free from Muu’s forces. They knew they had a long fight ahead of them but they were ready for it, especially now that they were one ally stronger.

Next Chapter: Dominic’s Disastrous Plan of Revenge

That's it for today. Another day, another victory, another ally. Tune in next time to see what happens to our heroes.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence, a bare male posterior)

Dominic’s Disastrous Plan of Revenge


It had been a few days since Angelo joined the party. The heroic group was making their way toward the next town in order to get supplies as well as pick up any useful information. They had just finished fighting off a pack of monsters and were nearing the next town.

Sir Reginald looked at the map, saying, “Okay, when we reach this next town we’ll have reached a three-way crossroad. Since we’ve already been to Fort Aquatica we now need to find any potential Undead Bases and uproot them before they can become a problem. Hopefully we can get some information from the locals on what would be the most ideal direction to go in order to find our targets.”

Kettu replied, “I think I know where our next target is, Reggie. However, I need to gain my bearings so when we get to the next village I’ll look over my notes and compare it to where we are now and where the next Undead Base is. The only bit of info I know off the top of my head is that the base is near a fresh water spring. Which, coincidentally, means we can use Angelo’s giant frog form to sneak up on it from behind via said fresh water spring.”

“Convenient timing that we would obtain an aquatic specialist when we need to use waterways as a means of stealth against our enemies,” Nova said dryly.

Nina giggled, “Be as it may, it’s better that we have Angelo give us the ability to move through fresh water when needed. Even if it is rather convenient timing. But time for that later, let’s just head for the village and start mapping out our next plan.”

The party eventually made it to the village. To their surprise the villagers looked oddly tense.

“What happened here?” Zeeker asked.

“Let’s find out,” Sir Reginald said. He walked up to a man, “Excuse me, sir, but can you please tell me why everyone seems tense?”

The man turned, “Haven’t you heard? Fort Aquatica has been captured, and we fear we’re next.”

Nova replied, “That’s old news. We’ve liberated Fort Aquatica from Muu’s forces so you can all relax now, as those decaying goons have been dealt with.”

“Is this true?” a woman asked.

Angelo replied, “Yes it is. These fine people rescued my castle from Muu’s decaying grip and now you can rest easy knowing that General Samurot won’t be knocking down your front door.”

It was like a switch had been thrown and everyone in the village who heard this news suddenly became significantly more relaxed.

“Oh, thank the Goddess for small favors,” one man said.

“Now we don’t have to live in fear of Muu attacking us anytime soon,” an older woman sighed in relief.

Van replied, “To be fair, General Samurot was planning to attack the nearest settlement, which would be you, but we nipped it in the bud. There are still probably other Undead Bases littered about but we managed to uproot one of the bigger enemies so you can relax and not have to live in fear.”

The villagers all sighed in relief.

“Whew… that’s fortunate,” one woman said.

“But why did you go after him?” a child asked.

Sir Reginald replied, “We’re the Demon King’s champion party. It’s our job to hunt down each and every member of Muu’s army and destroy them, liberating the world from his evil. So it was only logical that we would eventually run into General Samurot. This just made things a bit easier and he’s since been taken out of the picture. Again, there are still some Undead Bases scattered about but those can be dealt with relatively easy. Our group has already destroyed several Undead Captains, including prominent ones like Wightmare, and now General Samurot has fallen, so that’s a serious blow to Muu on top of him already losing several members of his army. We still have quite the uphill battle ahead of us but we’ve done well so far. And we intend to take down Muu once and for all.”

One man asked, “So you’re the Demon King’s champion party? Well, this is an honor. Who is the Demon King’s champion?”

Nova replied gloomily, “It’s me.”

A woman looked him over, saying, “You don’t look like much of a champion.”

Nina retorted, “Appearances can be deceiving. Nova has already taken down the following Undead Captains: Boneregard, Bonenapper, Zomboni, Skullguard, Wightmare, and Skelesare, with General Samurot now added to the list. So Nova’s done a pretty good job so far, if I dare say so. Don’t go dismissing him so readily; he’s proven to be quite the effective champion.”

A man asked, “Is this true?”

Nova sighed defeatedly, “Yes, it’s true. A lot of those victories were improvising and winging it, since I’m learning on the job, but yeah, I’ve at least helped take down each of those enemies. While some, like Boneregard, aren’t very high on the pecking order, thus are not quite as impressive as ones like Samurot, I have managed to at least contribute to those fights in a meaningful way. I hate every minute of it but I do have a decently impressive body count on Muu’s forces.”

An older man replied, “Well, then, looks like we’ve underestimated you, young one. Even if some of those enemies are not very impressive in terms of rank the fact that you’ve taken down that many Undead Captains and now one Undead General is still commendable. We apologize for doubting your ability.”

“Don’t worry about it. Everyone doubts my ability, myself included, so it’s nothing new at this point. I’m not offended or anything so you don’t need to apologize for something as simple as thinking I’m less-than-impressive for a Demon King champion. Because the fact is I am less-than-impressive for a Demon King champion. So it’s hard to feel offended when it’s the truth.”

Nina sighed, “Nova, stop it already. We’ve really got to work on your self-esteem issues. You’ve proven to be a great champion despite your drawbacks. For once try to lift your head up proudly for all the good you’ve done for everyone. We wouldn’t have gotten this far without you.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “She’s right, Nova. You really need to open your eyes to all the good you’ve done for Edyn and its people. A lot of our victories wouldn’t have been victories without you. So, please, try to feel pride at what you’ve done for everyone so far.”

“I’ll try, but don’t expect any miracles,” Nova replied.

“We’ll just have to accept that. Now, enough of this. Let’s start getting our supplies and sell our monster parts for some extra spending cash. After that we’ll head for the inn and map out our next strategy.”

Nodding in agreement the party went about this business, bartering for the monster parts they had collected and purchasing supplies. However, it wasn’t long before they’d run into a problem.

A familiar voice snarled, “YOU!!!”

They all turned to see Dominic approach them with hate-filled eyes.

“Oh, great, look who just blew in from Loserville,” Nova huffed.

Dominic slapped Van on the hindquarters, stating angrily, “Move it, pony boy!”

Van instantly retaliated by kicking Dominic in the crotch with one of his hind legs, causing the wannabe warrior to crumple to the ground, clutching his loins in pain.

Van snarled, “Never. Slap. My. Hindquarters. Unless you want me to kick you.”

Angelo turned to Kettu, “Hey, who is that man? And why is he going after Nova?”

Kettu replied in an annoyed tone, “That’s Dominic Flight, a notorious scumbag who routinely steals credit from other warriors to further his own image and get lucky with the ladies. He’s really a dirty coward who runs the second things go south, if not sooner. Nova has exposed him as a fraud a few times now, causing him to be thrown out of villages and towns, especially when he performs some form of engineered heroics, so Dominic has quite the beef with our pink-haired champion. He’s also got his eyes on Nina and is trying to win her over to no avail. Credit where it’s due, he doesn’t give up easily, as he’ll stop and nothing to claim Nina and show-up Nova.”

Dominic managed to get himself back upright, though it was clear he was still in pain, before confronting Nova. He glared at the pink-haired man who Nova returned with interest.

“You little pink rat!” Dominic snarled. “Thanks to you I’ve been kicked out of both Phoenixwing Kingdom and Galvatar Kingdom! Now not a single town, village, or city will let me in because of you making me look like the villain!”

Nova replied coldly, “I don’t make you look like a villain. You ARE a villain. After all, who would purposely endanger a village or town with a reckless stunt like agitating powerful monsters such as Gargathoxes just to show off? I don’t need to make you look bad because you do that already. I just expose you for the fraud and scumbag that you are. If anything you were justifiably thrown out of those kingdoms because of your own actions causing more harm than good. You’re no hero, Dominic. You’re nothing more than a petty, selfish, egotistical, perverted coward who thinks the world should be at your beck and call and shows constant disrespect for women. News flash, Domi, the world doesn’t work like that. You need to earn your way to the top, not expect it handed to you on a silver platter. That’s the problem with you. I work hard thus I tend to get more respect than you who rides on the coattails of others and tries to steal all the glory for yourself. Heroism isn’t about the rewards you get, Domi, it’s about the lives you save. So, unfortunately, your false claims of me ruining your image fall flat when it was your own fault from the get-go. Deal with it.”

Dominic snarled, “You watch your mouth, pinkie pie, or I might just rip it off. Everything is your fault, you pink rat. And I intend to put you in your place right now!”

He threw Nova into a nearby wall, stunning him. He then pulled down his pants and slammed his bare buttocks into Nova’s chest. Nina covered her eyes in horror while the rest of the party looked like they were ready to kill Dominic for such disrespect. The other villagers who were witnessing this event were also disgusted.

“Pucker up and kiss my perfect posterior, you rodent!” Dominic demanded. “Maybe then I’ll spare you.”

Nova, although thoroughly disturbed by this turn of events, grabbed one of his arrows, his eyes narrowing hatefully.

“Time to make good on a threat I gave you a while back, Domi!” he snarled.

With a strong thrust he shoved the arrow right into Dominic’s backside. The scumbag of a man’s eyes widened in horror before he started screaming in pain. He ran around, clutching his rear, his pants still partway down, howling as he tried to get the arrow out. He eventually ran away, still clutching his backside as he tried in vain to get the arrow out. Nova slumped to the ground, clearly shaken by what had happened.

“It’s okay, Lady Nina, you can look now,” Sir Reginald said soothingly.

Nina gingerly peeked one eye out from behind her hands to ensure the coast was clear before quickly running to Nova’s side, the rest of the party following suit.

“Nova!” she cried. “Are you okay!?”

Nova replied in a weary tone, “A little shaken but not stirred, Nina. I may like astronomy and stargazing but that was one full moon I didn’t need to see. That’ll give me nightmares for a week. To be honest I’m not sure which is scarier: Muu or Dominic’s swollen arse.”

Kettu gained a crooked smile, “If you still have it in you to crack a joke after that experience then you’ll be fine. But, damn, what was that moron thinking? Causing such a disturbance like this and having the gall to moon you in broad daylight. Clearly he’s not right in the head.”

Sir Reginald huffed, “Considering he tends to think with what’s in between his legs more than his head I’m not surprised his brain isn’t functional. If he even has one.”

Angelo asked, “Will you be all right, my friend?”

Nova replied wearily, “Yeah, I will be. Though that image of Domi’s bloated buttocks will haunt my dreams for a bit. Brrrr! At least I made good on that threat I gave him some time ago. As for that arrow he can keep it, as now that I know where it’s been I don’t want it back.”

Nina knelt down next to him, saying, “Nova, I’m so sorry you had to experience that. That damn Dominic. What was he thinking? He got his just desserts for such a shameless and disgusting display of his ego. He deserved to get banned from both Phoenixwing Kingdom and Galvatar Kingdom as it was his own doing. Hopefully Aquatica Kingdom will follow suit soon, as he’s got it coming.”

Angelo gained a disapproving frown, “Yes, I have never seen such a horrible display in my life. Outside of the Undead Army, that is. To think that goon was exposed for his crimes and he has the nerve to blame his punishment on Nova. What a slimy pile of sludge. I’ve never seen such a despicable man like him before. Normally I try to see the good in everyone but Dominic proved to have no traces of goodness in him. And all because he wants the glory of being a hero without actually doing the work. Nova is a shining example of a true hero. He should be asking our friend for advice, not blaming him for his crimes being exposed and getting punished for it.”

“I’m no shining example of a hero,” Nova said. “But I do agree with everything else.” He gingerly got up, saying, “Oof… he still packs a decent punch. I got the wind knocked out of me.”

Van crossed his arms, growling, “The next time I see him I’ll give him another kick in the family jewels. I want to ensure he doesn’t have children.”

Kettu grinned darkly, “Why stop at just one kick? Why not… kick him every single time he shows up, Van?”

Van’s eyes widened before gaining a devious smirk, “You know, I rather like that idea. I’d hate to sully my horseshoes on his loins but sometimes one has to make a sacrifice for the greater good. Thanks for the suggestion, Kettu, I’ll take you up on that.”

Zeeker huffed, “Still, I doubt we’ve seen the last of Dominic for today. If what you said is true then he might try something to reclaim his ‘glory’ and prove his ‘superiority’ to Nova.”

Nina snarled, “My guess is that he’ll aggro some local monsters into causing a disturbance and he’ll swoop in to save the village from them. He’s pulled it a fair few times now so him pulling it again is very likely. It is, after all, his favorite tactic, so there is a very high chance that he’ll use engineered heroics to make himself look big.”

Meanwhile, outside of the village, Dominic was trying to get the arrow out of his rear. Every time he tried to touch the arrow the pain made him whimper pathetically.

“Damn that pink rat…” he muttered as he continued to try to remove the arrow. “How dare he violate my perfect posterior with one of his accursed arrows. I’ll show that peashooter a thing or two… after I get this out of me.”

After much struggling Dominic simply grabbed the arrow despite the pain and yanked it out, making him scream in agony and causing blood to leak out of the wound. He angrily tossed the arrow aside before he started to nurse his wound. After doing what he could for it he pulled his pants back up to normal and waddled back and forth, trying to think of a plan.

“Now, how am I going to get that little punk to pay?” he pondered. “Beating him one-on-one would be ideal, as, after all, I’m much bigger and stronger than him, but his little band of mismatched buddies might try to interfere. I could use my tried-and-true strategy of getting monsters to attack the village and me swooping in to save it, showing up that little insect. But every time I’ve tried that with him around he ends up cheating and making me look bad. Maybe I could frame him for a crime and then capture him so I can reap the rewards and glory of taking down that criminal. But, then again, that damn Sir Reginald might get in the way, as there is no way he’s gonna let me put that punk in his place without a fight. What should I do?”

He then noticed a sign near a swampy area. He waddled over to it and looked it over.

“Hmm? ‘Danger. Aggressive Crawling Dragon resides in this swamp. Do not enter.’ A Crawling Dragon?” He then gained a devious smirk, “Looks like I’m gonna use my tried-and-true strategy to win back the village and show-up that punk. But I can’t use the Berserk Powder again, as that’ll easily pin the blame on me. Hmm… I did acquire something very interesting recently before I was kicked out of Galvatar Kingdom. That might come in handy. Time to prove my superiority to that pink-haired brat and win the Phoenix girl from him.”

It was an hour later. The party had just finished their shopping and were now heading toward the inn.

“Okay, we got everything we need,” Zeeker said. “Now we just need to figure out where our next target is so we can destroy another Undead Base and further loosen Muu’s grip on this world.”

Sir Reginald turned to him, “Zeeker, didn’t you say you had some friends in this kingdom that might be able to help us?”

“Yeah, I did. I need to check the map first to figure out where we are from them but when I do we can head for their place and see if we can get some new dirt on Muu’s forces.”

Suddenly, a loud roar could be heard from the nearby swamp, making everyone freeze.

“Oh no…” Nova groaned. “Don’t tell me that idiot did it again…”

“Sounds like it…” Kettu sighed.

Van stated, “That sounded like a Crawling Dragon’s roar. They’re very dangerous beasts. Even professional dragon slayers have trouble with them due to how durable they are. Looks like we need to step up and protect the village from another one of Dominic’s schemes.”

“Joy…” Nina said, deadpan.

“That’s my line,” Nova joked.

Everyone quickly ran to the front of the village where several people were standing, holding various tools as weapons. The party wove their way to the front as they saw something emerge from the nearby swamp. It was a massive dragon, mostly tan in color, that crawled on all fours, with thick scales, large, strong legs ending in sharp claws, a small pair of wings that were clearly not able to support its weight, a thick tail, a long neck, a square-shaped head with an underbite jaw, green eyes, and spikes lining its body. It gave a roar as it made its way toward the village. Suddenly, Dominic appeared out of nowhere and stood in between the Crawling Dragon and the village.

“What an unbelievable coincidence that Dominic would show up to fight a monster that has suddenly launched an unprovoked attack on a village that he was recently kicked out of,” Nova said sarcastically.

Dominic ignored him before saying, “I will slay this beast and save you all!” He took out what looked like a dagger coated in strange energies, “This mighty weapon combined with my even mightier strength will kill the beast in one hit! Take this!”

He threw the dagger at the Crawling Dragon. It struck it in between the eyes, causing it to stop moving before falling to the ground, motionless.

“There, it has been slayed. Now shower me with your adulation!”

Kettu realized something, snapping, “You moron! That dagger has cursed energies in it! It won’t kill the Crawling Dragon; it’ll transform it into something worse!”

Before Dominic could counter the dagger was then absorbed into the Crawling Dragon, which engulfed the beast in a purplish light. When the light cleared everyone was in horror at what was standing before them. The Crawling Dragon was now an undead dragon, as it’s flesh was rotting, with some places showing its bones, and a dangerous mist was emitting from its mouth.

“Oh, now you’ve done it, you moron! You turned it into a zombie dragon! Now it’ll be even harder to kill! Way to go, you brainless lemming!”

Dominic, although surprised, drew his sword, stating, “I will still smite this unholy beast with my sword and skills!”

He pointed the sword at the undead dragon. The beast then spewed putrid breath at him, engulfing him and causing the sword to crumble away to dust. When the undead dragon’s rancid breath cleared Dominic’s eyes widened in horror at the situation.

“Another day, another sword wrecked,” Nova said dryly. “You give failure a bad name, Domi.”

The undead dragon lashed out one of its claws at Dominic, who barely dodged the attack before running away, screaming in terror.

“Well that was to-be-expected,” Nina huffed.

Sir Reginald got into a battle-ready pose, “Save it for later, as we’ve got a zombie dragon to deal with!”

Nina then turned to Nova, “Nova, I’ve got an idea. Cast the spell Angel on this beast! Since you can use the Demon King Ring to cast any spells you want without needing to actually learn it you can kill that beast in one shot! Hurry!”

Nova nodded, “R-Right. Demon Mode!”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Demon Mode.

“Here goes something.” He started to channel magical energy from the ring, “Angel!”

He fired the energy at the undead dragon. This spell caused what looked like the image of a female angel to appear. She then released strong Holy energy that struck the undead dragon, causing it to writhe in agony before its body instantly crumbled away, leaving no trace of it behind, ending the fight instantly.

Nova turned to her, “A spell that instantly destroys Undead? Why did you not tell me about this until now, Nina?!”

She gained a sheepish expression, “Sorry, Nova, I forgot all about it.”

Kettu turned to him, “Besides, it wouldn’t have helped you much even if you did know about it. The Undead Captains and Generals are immune to both it and its more powerful form, so it’s not like we could’ve used it to cheese those high-ranking Undead Army goons. It might work on the bread and butter Undead Soldiers but I’m not totally sure, as they’re a whole different breed of Undead. But it would’ve been useless against foes like Wightmare and such as Muu gave them the power to become immune to it. Muu himself is immune to the spell, too, so its usefulness is limited in our fight against him.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Kettu is correct. Muu has made his troops, at least his high-ranking ones, immune to the Angel spell. So even with prior knowledge of it you wouldn’t have been able to use it against his forces. His standard model Undead Soldiers might not be immune to it but that’s a gamble. Angel is better against Undead that are not associated with Muu’s forces, as they lack the necessary defense to it. So it doesn’t matter that Lady Nina didn’t tell you about the Angel spell prior to now, as it wouldn’t be very useful against Muu’s army.”

Nova sighed defeatedly, “Fair enough. Probably should’ve expected as much, especially if Muu is already aware of such a spell is in existence. Sorry, Nina, I didn’t mean to snap at you. Guess I’m just frustrated. Today hasn’t exactly been a pleasant day for me.”

Nina gave a warm smile, “Apology accepted, Nova. And I can’t exactly blame you for feeling that way, what with that moron Dominic causing more problems for us. Plus you have to stomach enough Undead nonsense to begin with so I can understand how you feel. And I’m sorry for forgetting about that spell. It also has an upgraded form but I forget what that one is called, too. But, for now, keep the knowledge of that spell tucked away in the corner of your mind whenever we deal with standard, run-of-the-mill Undead, since Muu complicates things when it comes to his troops.”

The mayor of the town stepped up, saying, “Thank you for saving us. What was that moron thinking? He used a cursed weapon to turn an already dangerous beast into something much worse. And from what you are saying this whole scheme seems like his doing to begin with. Well, either way, he’s not welcome back in this village. I was also informed of what had happened earlier between you and him. That alone is enough to ban him from our village for such a despicable display but the fact that he most likely got this Crawling Dragon to attack us so he could reclaim our village’s favor and ended up making the situation worse is just the final straw. You said his name was Dominic Flight, right? Well he’s officially banned from our village. And we’ll spread word about him to ensure that other villages don’t suffer because of him and his ego.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Thank you, sir, that’ll be a huge help, as he’s a major thorn in our side. Limiting his ability to cause problems would be most helpful not just to us but to the world as a whole. Now, with this whole ordeal taken care of, let’s head to the inn to rest on our laurels and start mapping out our next plan.”

Van stretched his arms, saying, “I hear ya. We should also get something to eat, as we’ve had a busy day and could use some food in our bellies.”

Nova nodded, “I’m game for that. A little victory meal for our success against another one of Dominic’s schemes. Then let’s head to the inn to rest.”

The party nodded in agreement and went to the local restaurant to eat. The villagers were singing their praises for saving them from Dominic’s latest scheme. The party knew, however, that they had yet to see the last of Dominic.

Next Chapter: The Princess and the Priestess

That's it for today. Another day, another Dominic disaster. Tune in next time to find out what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence, light sexual tones)

The Princess and the Priestess


It had been a few days since the heroic group had thwarted another one of Dominic’s plans. They were busy fighting monsters that they had encountered during their travels. The monsters consisted of hornets with sword-shaped stingers, very large flies that crackled with electricity, red colored Komodo Archer-like creatures, and red colored flaming salamanders.

Angelo was channeling magic, stating, “Time to burst their bubble! Bubble Burst!”

He fired several large bubbles at the enemies. When the bubbles reached them they exploded, causing a fair bit of damage, especially to the flaming salamanders.

Nina started channeling energy, “My turn! Mana Daggers!”

She summoned several daggers made from magical energy. With a wave of her hand she hurled them at the enemy monsters. The daggers effortlessly slashed the electrified flies and giant hornets while also dealing impressive damage to the red Komodo Archer-like monsters and flaming salamanders.

Sir Reginald was channeling energy as well, “I’ll handle the cleanup. Quake!”

A sharp earthquake started before striking the monsters with chunks of earth, finally ending the fight. Everyone got into a relaxed position as the last monster was slain.

“Good work, everyone. Now, we need to collect the valuable parts from these monsters. That would be the Sword Hornet stingers and wings, the Spark Fly wings, the Dragoon Archer tails, bows, arrows, and quivers, and the Red Salamander tails. Although knowing Nova he’ll just help himself to the arrows to keep his own quiver full. Right Nova?”

There was a brief pause, much to everyone’s confusion.

“Nova?”

Nova replied, “Yeah, I hear you. Don’t mind me, just had a little dizzy spell.”

Nina turned to him, concerned, “Are you not feeling well, Nova?”

“I’ll be fine. Just a bit fatigued, that’s all. I’m not used to all this fighting, after all, so it’s taking my body some time to adjust to it.”

Van turned to him, “Well if you need to rest just say so, we won’t mind. Like you said you’re not used to fighting monsters so don’t push yourself too hard.”

“I know, thanks. I’ll be fine. Let’s just collect the monster parts and be on our way.”

Everyone nodded and began harvesting the best parts of the monsters they killed. After about 10 minutes they were done and had stored all of them into Nova’s Digi-Pack, although he kept the arrows from the Dragoon Archers for himself. They then started to make their way to the next town. However, Nova was starting to lag behind. Suddenly, without warning, he collapsed.

“Nova!” Nina cried out, quickly rushing to his side.

Van took a look at Nova before saying, “It appears Nova’s suffering from severe exhaustion. He’s been pushing himself too hard in order to keep up with the rest of us. We need to get him to the next town and have a medic give him a potion to help him rest and recover. I could make it myself but I lack the key ingredient: Roseroot Lily. I’ll carry him to the next town, which should be just up the road. Hopefully a medic can give him the needed potion to help get him back on his feet.”

Everyone nodded and Van scooped up the now out-cold Nova and they quickly made their way to the next town. To their horror they learned that this town lacked a medic or doctor.

“Now what are we going to do?” Zeeker asked.

A woman in shrine maiden clothes stepped up, saying, “Come with me to the town shrine. My grandma acts as a substitute for a town medic so she can get your rather cute friend up and running again. Follow me.”

She guided the party to the local shrine, although the young shrine maiden was leering at Nina for most of the trip.

She called out, “Grandma, some travelers need your help.”

An older shrine maiden walked out from one of the back rooms. Despite being old she still seemed to have plenty of life and vitality in her.

“So, who needs my help today?” she asked.

Sir Reginald replied, “Our friend here, Nova, is suffering from severe exhaustion, and he needs to be treated for it.”

“I see, I see. Put him in this bed to my left and let me have a look at him.”

Nina carefully removed Nova’s Digi-Pack with his bow and quiver of arrows before Van gently placed Nova onto a nearby bed. The older shrine maiden examined Nova’s body for a few minutes before walking over to a shelf full of potions.

“Yes, like you said, he’s suffering from severe exhaustion, but it’s even worse than you think,” she said. “He’s been pushing himself way too hard to the point his body is starting to break down from the strain. He’ll need my strongest potion that’ll not only heal him but put him in a magically induced sleep so he can get some much-needed rest.”

She took down a potion from the shelf, popped the cork open, and poured the liquid down Nova’s throat. Nova cringed at the taste of the potion but remained out cold. His body was engulfed in sparkles and he became more relaxed, now in a deep sleep.

“There, that’ll do the trick. He’s gonna be asleep for a few days so you might as well check into the inn for a bit. It would be best if he stayed here so I can monitor him and ensure he recovers.”

The younger shrine maiden said in a soft, giggly tone, “Ooh, a cute boy is staying with us for a bit. Maybe I’ll finally get lucky.”

Unfortunately for her, Nina heard this and snarled, “Keep your mitts of Nova, shrine girl! Don’t you DARE think of violating him while he’s in such a state!”

The younger shrine maiden countered, “And what are you going to do about it?”

“Rip you limb from limb, that’s what!” the Phoenix girl retaliated.

Both girls started to glare at each other and got closer, eyes locked and teeth bared.

“Why would a Phoenix prostitute like you want with a human, anyway?” the shrine maiden snarled. “Your kind don’t like other races and clans.”

“I am NOT a prostitute, thank you!” Nina countered. “I’m still a virgin! And I’m not like the rest of my kind. I would be perfectly fine marrying outside of clan if it meant I could have a loving husband and not be bogged down by sexist rules! And for the record I dress like this not only to stay lightweight so I can fly more easily but as an act of rebellion against my clan! So I’m no prostitute.”

“With those lead balloons on your chest I’m surprised you can fly at all.”

“L-Lead balloons!? I take pride in my large I-cup breasts, especially since I didn’t inherit these from my mother, who is only a B-cup. And I’d rather have ‘lead balloons’ than be flat as a washboard like you! You’re just jealous of my beauty and sexual charm.”

The shrine maiden sputtered, “W-Washboard?! I’m not a washboard! And I’m not jealous! I’m the most beautiful and powerful shrine maiden of all! Even Muu is afraid of me!”

Nina laughed, “Hah! Yeah, right. If so they why aren’t you helping in the fight against him?”

“He’s beneath me!”

“Yeah, right, girl. You’re afraid of him, aren’t you? You’re terrified of Muu and his Undead Army. Unlike me who is willing to take the fight to Muu’s front door. You probably haven’t stepped out of the village and faced a regular monster in years!”

“Do you want to prove it, chicken wings?”

WHACK! WHACK!

The older shrine maiden smacked both Nina and her granddaughter on the head with her staff, making them both recoil in pain.

“OW!” the younger shrine maiden whined. “Grandma, what was that for!?”

“Quit your whining, Chloe,” the grandmother replied harshly. “Both of you need to stop fighting in this sacred shrine.”

“She started it!” Chloe stated.

“Wrong!” Nina countered. “You wanted to take advantage of Nova in his current state and ‘get lucky’ as you put it. I won’t allow anyone to violate Nova.”

The older shrine maiden replied, “She does have a point, Chloe. You were thinking of taking advantage of this young man’s current state to satisfy your perversion and lust. It’s that, combined with your attitude, which are the reasons why you can’t score a date with any guy.”

Chloe whimpered, “You didn’t have to get personal, you know, grandma…”

Nina turned around, saying, “Look, just get Nova back on his feet, that’s all I want right now. He’s my best friend and then some and I will not let anyone, be it man or woman, disrespect or violate him. So don’t you dare make any moves on him while he’s resting or I’ll turn you into target practice.”

She then stormed out of the shrine, leaving the rest of the party.

“Well… that was certainly interesting,” Kettu said.

The older shrine maiden replied, “You’ll have to forgive Chloe, as she’s desperate for male attention and is willing to resort to whatever she has to in order to get it. And to be honest, your winged ally wasn’t wrong about my granddaughter. Chloe is afraid of Muu and his forces yet, as you can see, she talks a big game. She’s also very jealous of other women who are more… developed than her. So the fact that your fighting against Muu with the Demon King’s current champion is something to commend you for.”

“So, you figured out that Nova’s the Demon King’s champion, huh?” Sir Reginald asked.

“I saw the ring on his finger. He doesn’t look like much but the fact he’s fighting Muu is something I praise both him and you for. My granddaughter is terrified of Muu and his Undead Army despite the fact that, as a holy maiden, she could do some serious harm to his forces. She covers it up with a bunch of bluster that Muu is beneath her. Chloe has promise but she’s squandering it with both her lust and her cowardice.”

Chloe was sulking in a corner, whining, “Grandma, please stop…”

Kettu huffed, “Considering Nova is afraid of Muu and his Undead Army and yet he’s willing to fight speaks volumes. Despite the fact he hates every minute of it he’s still willing to fight for our futures even though he’s deathly afraid of undead.”

Chloe looked up, surprised, “This pink-haired cutie is afraid of Muu and undead in general yet he’s still willing to fight our war? Why?”

“He knows that there is a greater need than his right now,” Sir Reginald replied. “Nova’s pretty noble despite the fact he’s a self-proclaimed coward himself. He’s willing to fight the very thing he’s afraid of for our sakes. Granted, he’s got no choice in the matter but the fact that is he’s still willing to fight for people he barely knows so our world can flourish again. He really has no business getting involved in another world’s war but he’s willing to fight regardless. So you should take notes from him, Chloe, as he may be afraid of Muu yet he’s willing to fight against him for the greater good.”

The young shrine maiden looked stunned at this information, clearly taken aback by it.

“In any case, we will leave Nova in your care, madam. Just make sure your granddaughter doesn’t try anything while he’s in such a state, otherwise Nina will murder her in cold blood. Nina is fiercely protective of Nova and she will not let anyone harm, violate, or disrespect him. We will take our leave now but make sure Nova recovers and your granddaughter doesn’t make any moves on him.”

The party then turned around and walked out of the shrine, leaving the two shrine maidens alone.

The older shrine maiden said, “Do you now understand, Chloe? This young man is fighting the very thing he’s afraid of on our behalf. You cannot keep cowering behind your bluster in order to avoid dealing with monsters much less Muu’s forces. This Nova lad is willing to fight despite being afraid of Muu and his Undead Army yet you’re not willing to lift a finger against such foes. Like I said you have potential to be a great shrine maiden but you’re squandering it with your lust, cowardice, and bluster. A shrine maiden needs to be willing to do the right thing for her people. Just like what your mother did for our village. Now, I expect you to go apologize to that Nina girl for your actions and ego. But, for now, let’s tend to this young man.”

Chloe nodded, “Okay, grandma. I get dibs on his lower body!”

WHACK!

“Ow!”

Meanwhile, outside Nina was sitting at a bench near a fountain. She had her arms crossed over her breasts, giving her wings the occasional ruffle, and was pretty angry, muttering to herself. The rest of the party was observing her from afar.

“Nina’s unusually uppity today,” Van said. “Her feathers are certainly in quite the uproar. I wonder if it has to do with that Chloe girl.”

Angelo said cheerfully, “The answer is obvious, my galloping friend. Nina is in love with Nova.”

Everyone went silent before exclaiming, “WHAT?!”

“Nina’s in love with Nova?!” Zeeker sputtered. “Since when?”

Angelo smiled, “I’d be willing to bet since day one. The thing is… she doesn’t realize it herself.”

Kettu turned to him, “Wait, what? She’s not aware she’s in love with Nova? How?”

“She’s subconsciously aware she’s in love with Nova but the rest of her hasn’t gotten the memo yet. I may have known her the least amount of time but I can see clearly that she’s heads over heels for Nova. And it’s obvious he feels the same way but his lack of confidence and low self-esteem is preventing him from making any moves on her.”

Sir Reginald pondered, “Come to think of it, she’s always been very close to him. And she never hesitates to defend him whenever she feels his being threatened, violated, or disrespected.”

Zeeker scratched his chin, “Now that you mention it she did get blindsided by my question when I was flirting with her. I asked her if Nova was her boyfriend and she was clearly taken aback by that question, struggling to respond. And when she was about to axe kick my skull in when my ruse was exposed she only stopped because Nova told her to and obeyed him without question. Yeah, it does make sense that she’s in love with him. But I wonder why she hasn’t come to that realization herself?”

Angelo smiled, “Love is a tricky thing to understand sometimes. And the fact is this is probably the first time she’s ever fallen in love with someone. Or experienced love at all. From what you’ve told me, she was neglected and abused by her family, thus she never felt love before. Nova’s kindness ended up being the light she needed in her life; thus she fell in love with him. And he feels the same way but at least he’s aware of his own feelings for her. Love is probably a bit alien to Nina due to her bad upbringing thus she can’t piece it together just yet. But she displays several traits of being in love with Nova, albeit subconsciously. When and where she realizes she’s in love with him I don’t know but I do hope she comes to that conclusion and opens her heart to him completely.”

“It does make sense, given her interactions with Nova,” Van said. “Probably the best way to get her to realize it is for Nova to start making some moves on her. But, as you said, his lack of confidence and near nonexistent self-esteem makes that a difficult task. I hate to play matchmaker but we might have to at least try to push them together in order to get those two to stop beating about the bush and come clean with how they feel.”

Meanwhile, Chloe was lurking around her shrine, making her way toward the still sleeping Nova. She approached his bed and started to move the covers off of him, her fingers waggling eagerly and a hungry look on her face.

WHACK!

“OW!” she cried out as her grandmother’s staff smacked her on the head again. “Grandma! Do you have to keep hitting me on the head like that?! You’re gonna cause some damage at that rate!”

The grandmother huffed, “I knew you couldn’t be trusted. Chloe, you have to curb your lust. I know you’re desperate for male attention but trying to violate one who is in a magically induced sleep just to satisfy yourself is sinking to new lows. It’s your own fault that you can’t get a date, what with both your high-and-mighty attitude and perversion turning off potential men. And why haven’t you apologized to that Nina girl yet? I told you to do so. Your mother would be most displeased with you if she was still alive.”

Chloe rubbed the top of her head, whining, “Do I have to apologize to that Phoenix chick?”

“Yes you do. You started the fight between both of you so you need to suck it up and do what’s right. When your mother was alive she would always swallow her pride and apologize to anyone she wronged. That’s why she was so beloved and that’s why both your father and the village still misses her after her heroic sacrifice. You need to follow in her footsteps if you’re to become the next shrine maiden of this village. And you can start by apologizing to Nina for causing such a ruckus.”

“Okay, okay… can I just take one quick peek of—”

WHACK!

“Ow! Okay! I’m going! I’m going!”

Chloe hastily ran out of the shine to both find Nina and avoid any more cranial damage from her grandmother’s staff. She eventually found Nina at the bench near the fountain. She took a deep breath and approached this still annoyed Phoenix woman.

“What do you want?” Nina snarled. “I hope for your sake you haven’t done anything to Nova other than tend to his severe exhaustion.”

Chloe replied bitterly, “Grandma makes sure of that, don’t worry.” She took a deep breath before saying, “Look, I’m sorry for starting that fight. I hate to admit it but you’re right about me. I’m a coward. I refuse to leave the village for any reason ever since my mother’s death because I’m afraid of dying. I hide it behind my high-and-mighty attitude but that also causes problems for me. And I’m so jealous of your well-developed figure, especially since my mother was also well-developed. Well, at least more than me, anyway, as even she would pale in comparison to you. You probably have men tripping over each other to get to you while I can’t get a date even if my life depends on it. I mean, you’ve got a reverse harem traveling with you. How lucky is that.”

Nina gave her a look, “My companions are not my reverse harem. I only want one man in my life, not a whole platoon of them. I’m not that kind of girl. I just want one lover, not a dozen. I’m still searching for Mr. Right, although something tells me I know where he is, so I don’t see my companions as a reverse harem. It’s just how the party ended up, that’s all. But I accept your apology. Just keep your hands off Nova, as I will not allow anyone to violate him in any shape or form. Even if it means I have to sit by his side the whole time until he recovers I will do it if it ensures you can’t try anything.”

“What is Nova to you? You seem almost fiercely protective of him.”

“He’s my best friend and then some. He gave me so much after I fled my kingdom and showed me that men are not like I originally thought they were. I was a victim of sexism as Phoenixwing Kingdom prioritizes men over women. And as the first born in the royal family I was immediately shunned because of my gender. I almost came to hate men. The kingdom only gained an interest in me when they learned I possessed the power of the Magic Fire Feathers, a power my clan lost ages ago due to our greed corrupting us. I had to endure a lot of abuse before I finally rebelled and fled. I ended up meeting Nova who took my side despite not knowing the whole story when he did and I’ve been very close to him ever since. I don’t mind traveling the world and fighting Muu’s forces if it means I can be with people I trust, as I couldn’t trust anyone in Phoenixwing Kingdom. Nova showed me what a real man is like and he’s done so much to make me happy that I can’t help but adore him for it. He protects me when I need it and I defend his honor and dignity from those who would think lowly of him. We work well together and we’re very close as a result. So I won’t allow anyone to violate him, be it man or woman, so keep your mitts off of him.”

Chloe replied, surprised, “I see. I didn’t realize you had been neglected and abused by your own kind. I guess it’s no surprise you’d latch onto the first person who showed you any form of compassion. You’re lucky to have a guy like him be willing to bend over backwards for you. The fact that you and your party are willing to take the fight to Muu’s front door is commendable. I’m too afraid of dying to even attempt to fight most monsters much less Muu’s forces despite having an advantage over Undead due to my holy properties. My mother died protecting this village and I’ve been unable to face my fear since. Yet from what your comrades told me Nova is deathly afraid of undead yet he’s willing to fight Muu on our behalf. He apparently hates every minute of it but he’s still willing to put his fear aside for the greater good. I’m amazed and wonder how you all could have that kind of courage despite the daunting task and insurmountable odds you’re up against. I can’t help but admire that. You’re something else.”

Nina replied, “Naturally. You have to realize something, Chloe, is that fear not only hurts you but those around you. Nova learned that lesson, too, and he’s taken it to heart. He’s afraid of Muu, no doubt about that, but he won’t let Muu use that fear to his advantage. If you want to overcome your fear you need to stop letting it rule your life and take charge over it. Learning to swallow you fears will help you grow stronger and, ultimately, achieve your potential and goals. It’s clear that the death of your mother has affected you badly but if you’re not able to move on from it and learn from her example you’ll never rid yourself of your fears and you’ll be pretty much trapped in an endless cycle of torment. ‘Fear is mankind’s greatest weakness but it is a weakness that can be overcome if one tries hard enough.’ Nova told me that once and it’s true. Nova has managed to overcome his fear and has become much braver and stronger as a result. If you’re ever to expect to take over your shrine you need to stop letting your fear control you and stand up for what’s right. If Nova could do it so can you.”

“I see… I guess I am really to blame for my own shortcomings. I always tried to pin the blame on others but now that I’ve talked to you I can see that it’s always been my fault. You’re right, I need to stop living in fear if I’m to take over the shrine one day. I need to live by my mother’s example and not let her death continue to feed my fears of dying. Considering that father still misses her yet continues to honor her sacrifice by helping defend our village shows that I really need to stop whining and actually follow his and mother’s examples. Nina… thank you. You’ve opened my eyes to the truth. It was a hard lesson I didn’t want to learn but you succeeded in teaching it to me. I guess this is also the lesson my grandma has been trying to literally beat into my head for some time now, but your teaching it to me meant more. Thank you.”

Nina gained a small smile, “Good, I’m glad you’ve come to realize this. You have the potential but you’re letting fear control you. If you just shelf the attitude and swallow your fears you could become a great shrine maiden. One that’ll make your mother smile from the heavens. Just keep your perverted mitts off Nova.”

“Like I said, grandma ensures I can’t make any moves on that pink-haired cutie. Although I’ve never seen a man with coral pink hair before.”

“Apparently he inherited it from his mother, though he says it’s been the bane of his existence for years because people made fun of it. I find it rather fascinating as, like you, I’ve never seen anyone, much less a man, with coral pink hair prior to meeting him. In my clan, most people either have red, purple, blonde, or auburn hair, usually matching our plumage, though purple is the rarest. And I’ve rarely met anyone else outside of my people so I, too, find it fascinating. But keep your paws off of him or I’ll give you something to really be afraid of.”

“Okay, okay, I’ll be good. Especially with grandma around. But, again, thanks, Nina, for opening my eyes to the truth and helping me learn a lesson that’s been smacking me on the head for some time now. Literally. I’ve got to get back to work but thank you for this talk. I admit I was too proud to apologize to you for that whole fight we got into but I’m now glad I finally swallowed my pride and did what was right. Mother always swallowed her pride and apologized if she did something bad so I have to learn from her example. Again, thank you. I’ll make sure Nova is back on his feet soon.”

“You’d better or you’ll find the wrath of a phoenix is one not to mess with,” the winged woman snarled. “Unless of course you want third-degree burns. Just keep your hands off of Nova’s body, especially his male parts, or I’ll barbeque you like a steak.”

“Duly noted. See you later.”

Chloe walked back to the shrine, still thinking about the talk she had with Nina, making her smile a bit. The party then approached Nina, smiling.

“You did the right thing, Lady Nina, talking some sense into Chloe,” Sir Reginald said. “It was clear she didn’t want to learn such a hard lesson but you managed to succeed in that task. Hopefully Nova will be back on his feet soon. And it looks like we’re gonna have to be more cautious with him as we don’t want to unintentionally push him beyond his breaking point and repeat this episode again.”

Nina nodded, “Yes. Although he should’ve told us he was getting worn down. But I guess he didn’t want to be a burden. If there’s one thing I’ve come to know about Nova is that he doesn’t want to feel like dead weight to anyone so he’ll push himself to keep up. But yes, we need to be more careful with him so he doesn’t feel the need to overcompensate again.”

Everyone nodded in agreement and started to do the needed errands for the trip ahead. They hoped that Nova would recover soon so they could continue their mission in defeating Muu.

Next Chapter: Busting Some Boneheads

That's it for today. Hopefully Nova recovers soon before something happens to him. Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
We now return to our regularly scheduled Dawn of Courage content. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence, light sexual innuendo)

Busting Some Boneheads


It had been a few days since the party had stopped at a village in order to help Nova recover from his severe exhaustion. Nova was up and about, feeling better and generally looking well.

Sir Reginald said to the shrine maidens, “Thank you for helping Nova. What do we owe you for treating his severe exhaustion?”

Chloe said in a seductive tone, “Well… he could repay us by spending the night with me. Alone. In the same bed. With no clothes on.”

WHACK!

“Ow! Grandma!”

The older shrine maiden huffed, “There you go again, Chloe. I thought you had changed for the better after Nina talked some sense into you. Don’t start slipping back into old habits again.” She turned to Sir Reginald, “Sorry about Chloe. You owe us five silver for his treatment.”

Sir Reginald nodded and paid the older shrine maiden five silver.

Nina’s eyes narrowed at Chloe, “I hope for your sake you didn’t pull anything while Nova was in a magically induced sleep state. Because if you did…”

Chloe replied hastily, “No, no, no! Don’t worry! I didn’t do a thing! Honest. Grandma and father both kept me in line. Especially grandma. She’s had her eyes on my like a Stealth Falcon. She made sure I couldn’t pull anything… as much as I wanted to. But our talk did smack some sense into me so I’m trying to break my old habits and become a better shrine maiden. It’s just old habits die hard. But I didn’t pull anything, including his pants, so don’t you worry.”

Nova looked a little perplexed, “Something tells me that I missed quite the event while I was out cold from my severe exhaustion. Not sure if I’m happy about that or not, nor do I know if I want to know what happened or not.”

Nina turned to him, “Trust us, Nova, you’re better off not knowing. But, from now on, let us know when you’re having trouble keeping up. We don’t want you to force yourself to overcompensate for our sake, as we don’t want a repeat of this episode. If you’re starting to feel the signs of severe exhaustion because you’re trying to keep up let us know pronto so you can get some much-needed rest. I know you don’t like feeling like dead weight to us but don’t push yourself by trying to overcompensate for your shortcomings. Okay?”

He gained a blush, saying, “Okay. I’m sorry I didn’t inform you that I was pushing myself as hard as I was in order to keep up with the rest of you. But like you said I don’t like feeling like dead weight nor did I want to slow our party down so I just kept powering myself onward. Guess that wasn’t the best idea, huh? I’ll be more careful about it from now on.”

Van nodded, “Yes, that’ll help us more in the long run. I know you’re the least experienced of us and this is your first real adventure but don’t force yourself to keep up. If you start getting tired just let us know and we’ll stop, as overworking yourself could have long-term health consequences. If you need rest just say so and we’ll stop, that’s all there is to it.”

“Okay.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “I’m glad we got that straightened out. More importantly, while you were resting we learned that an Undead Base was recently built nearby. Kettu staked it out in his fox form to get a feel for what we’re dealing with. Looks like we’re up against another Undead Captain powered by a fallen soul like Skelesare. Muu seems to like that strategy, as it not only replenishes his higher ranked troops but the strength difference between a run-of-the-mill Undead Captain/General and one powered by a fallen soul is pretty substantial. While you were resting we devised a strategy to take both it and the Undead Base down before they can launch an attack. It's time we filled you in on what we know and our strategy, Nova.”

The older shrine maiden then said, “Take Chloe with you for this one. I know it might complicate your plans but if she’s ever going to shed her fears and become a true shrine maiden she needs to actually get out of the village and fight Muu. I’m only asking you to take her this one time, as she still has her duties to tend to here, but it’ll be good experience for her along with teaching her how to overcome her fear of dying in battle. After all, as long as monsters exist there will be no end to fighting, and those who possess powers like Chloe will be in high demand. So take her with you this one time.”

Everyone took a moment to think before Sir Reginald replied, “Fine, she can come with us this one time. We’ll have to adjust our plans a bit in order to fit her in but that’s not a difficult task.”

Chloe looked nervous, “I r-really have to fight M-Muu’s forces, grandma?”

The older shrine maiden turned to her, “If you are to ever overcome your fears and become a proper shrine maiden like your mother you need to get field experience. Besides, you’re not going in alone. You’ll have this entire party backing you up. But if you’re going to put anything that Nina taught you into play you need to learn to overcome your fears. If your mother was still alive she would’ve gone into battle without hesitation, as she knew she was needed to protect the village. This is your chance to do the same and finally show some backbone. I won’t be around forever trying to push you out to do your job so you need to do your part as well, Chloe. Not just for your mother’s sake, but for yours as well.”

The younger shrine maiden gave a defeated sigh, “Okay, okay, I get it. I’ll go. This won’t be fun but it’s for the best.”

Nova replied, “Considering I’m deathly afraid of ghosts and undead yet I’m fighting Muu despite that you can do it, too. Granted, in my case I don’t have a choice in the matter but still. They say that courage is the most powerful magic of all and I can see that, which is ironic coming from a coward like me. But unlike some cowards I know the current crisis requires one to shelf their fears if your world is going to be saved from Muu. If he isn’t dealt with this cycle of torment will just continue on and on. Everyone needs to do their parts if Muu is to be stopped.”

Chloe gained a small smile, “Okay, I get it. I have to do this if Muu is to be stopped for good. I won’t like it, but I know it has to be done.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Good. Now, follow us to the inn so we can go over our battleplans with you and Nova. I promise we’ll return you to this shrine alive and in one piece. Let us begin the final planning before we take the fight to Muu’s newest Undead Captain.”

Everyone left the shrine, with Chloe reluctantly following the party to the inn to begin the last bit of planning they had to go over for their attack on Muu’s newest base. Nova and Chloe paid close attention as Sir Reginald and the others went over their information and plans. After enough time reviewing and adjusting the plans they left the village and headed east where the Undead Base was said to be, though Chloe was still reluctant. After about an hour the party made it to the Undead Base. They ducked behind some bushes for cover so they could go over things one more time.

After a few minutes Sir Reginald said, “Okay, does everyone know their role in this battle?”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Okay, just to review our plan is very straightforward but speed is key. As we learned from Captain Skelesare Undead Captains/Generals powered by fallen souls are stronger, more durable, and have no known weakness. We need to take out the bread and butter Undead Soldiers first so we can focus on our newest foe: Captain Killgore without any distractions. Those generic Undead Soldiers are easy to deal with so they won’t be too much of a problem. But we need to be careful of Captain Killgore, as we don’t know much about him or his powers. Stay frosty when fighting him, as we don’t know what tricks or tactics he’ll pull.”

Chloe was starting to sneak away when Nina grabbed her by the ear.

“No you don’t Chloe!” the winged woman scolded. “You’re staying put. What would your mother think of you if you backed out now? This is your chance to not only overcome your fears but also earn your village’s respect. So you’re not chickening out now, got it?”

Chloe whimpered, “Okay! Okay! Just let go of my ear!”

The young shrine maiden sat down, allowing Nina to let go of her ear.

Zeeker said, “Relax, Chloe. While we’re dealing with an unknown foe the bread and butter Undead Soldiers are easy pickings. Even Nova was able to deal with them when he first came to this world. You can focus mostly on those if you want while we handle Killgore, especially since your Holy powers would be more effective against them.”

“I guess I can handle that…” Chloe said nervously. “You guys will provide backup for me, right?”

Angelo nodded, “But of course, Chloe. We’re all fighting together so no one will be alone on this battlefield.”

“Yeah, just don’t try to slink away in the middle of it,” Kettu said acidly. “Otherwise things will get pretty bad for you. Got it?”

“Got it,” Chloe replied gloomily.

Nova turned to Sir Reginald, “I hate to alter the plan now but maybe I should summon Elora to give us some extra firepower. While her hellfire might risk hurting the trapped soul she has other abilities that can help. Plus she can protect Chloe.”

“Yes, that might be a good idea,” Sir Reginald nodded.

“Who’s Elora?” Chloe asked.

Nova turned to her, “My familiar: a female Gorgon Viper. Long story, won’t get into it now, but let’s just say she’s been a godsend for us ever since I acquired her. With her help we’ve crushed several Undead Army platoons and their leaders. It pays to have a familiar that was bred specifically to hunt Undead when you’re tasked to deal with the Undead King.”

Chloe went wide eyed, “You have a Gorgon Viper as a familiar!? No way! Aren’t they—” but was cut off.

“Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it before,” Van said. “Elora’s not like other Gorgon Vipers, which is a huge help to us, as the last thing we need is a temperamental, willful familiar when we’re dealing with Muu and his forces. For now, let’s get back on track and finish this job before we’re spotted by Captain Killgore’s forces.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed. Let’s begin our operation now, before Captain Killgore starts making his next move.”

Everyone nodded and got into a battle-ready pose in front of the Undead Base. Nova placed a Summoning Sticker on the back of his right hand.

“Time to summon our ace-in-the-hole,” he said. “Elora, come forth!”

The Summoning Sticker glowed, followed by a summoning circle appearing, then a burst of smoke and fire, and before long Elora was standing next to Nova. Nova then loaded up an arrow and took aim at the Undead Base.

“Ifrit Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now on Ifrit Mode.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the arrow, which now took the form of a dragon made of lightning, at the front gate. The attack blasted the front gate open, revealing the Undead Soldiers and the new Undead Captain. Captain Killgore was a large skeleton with six arms, each equipped with a different weapon, with armor in various places, a fiendish head with glowing eyes, a whip-like tail made of bones ending in a mace, and a glowing orb in his ribcage.

He snarled, “So, you came to fight us directly, Demon King puppet and friends. Hmm?” He then noticed Elora, his glowing eyes flickering in shock, “A Gorgon Viper!? Since when?! I was never informed about that!” He then regained his composure and said, “Doesn’t matter, as its hellfire could hurt the soul that is being used to power me. Will you risk that?”

Sir Reginald growled, “Oh, we already took that into consideration. We’ve got everything ironed out, and soon you will be, too. Begin the attack!”

“Undead Soldiers attack!”

The standard Undead Soldiers charged in; weapons held high, ready to defeat the heroic party. Elora quickly retaliated with her hellfire, burning several Undead Soldiers to ashes.

Chloe mustered up the courage and started to channel energy into her staff, “Here goes nothing! Holy Bolt!”

She fired a ball of Light energy at one of the Undead Soldiers. The attack instantly destroyed it, making her go wide-eyed in surprise.

“I… I actually killed it!” she said, elated. She gained a more serious expression, “Gotta keep going! Holy Bolt!”

She fired another ball of Light energy at a different Undead Soldier. The attack caused it to be disintegrated upon impact.

“Holy Bolt!” she cried, taking out another Undead Soldier.

Meanwhile, the rest of the party had managed to make their way to Captain Killgore, destroying several Undead Soldiers along the way, who brandished his weapons threateningly.

“Ready do die?” he growled.

“That’s our line!” Sir Reginald said.

The party quickly engaged in battle with the new Undead Captain, with Sir Reginald, Van, and Zeeker locking weapons with him. Nina started to channel energy, taking aim at Killgore.

“Holy Grenade!” she stated.

A massive explosion of Light energy blasted Killgore, sending him flying back, allowing the rest of the party to get in a few more shots before he could recover. Killgore managed to stand up and locked weapons with the party again. Meanwhile, Elora, Angelo, Kettu, and Chloe were almost done dealing with the remaining Undead Soldiers.

“I-I’m actually fighting Muu’s forces!” Chloe said, surprised. “And we’re winning! Take this! Light Burst!”

She fired a blast of Light energy that destroyed several Undead Soldiers, leaving only a few remaining. Angelo then charged in and effortlessly smashed two Undead Soldiers like a wrecking ball. Kettu then ran up to another one, his daggers glowing.

“Cutthroat!” he stated.

He slashed the neck of one of the Undead Soldiers with his daggers, causing it to shatter and vanish.

“What was that?” Chloe asked.

“That was the Dagger-type skill: Cutthroat,” Kettu explained. “It has a chance to instantly kill the enemy, otherwise it does moderate damage if it fails. As you just saw, it succeeded and instantly killed that Undead Soldier. Now, enough talk: there’s still a few left.”

Elora spewed hellfire from her mouth on the remaining Undead Soldiers, causing them to burn to ashes, leaving only Killgore.

“Correction: there are now no Undead Soldiers left,” Angelo said cheerfully. “Thank you, Elora.”

Elora gained a smirk, clearly happy at the praise.

“Now all that’s left is Killgore,” Kettu said. “Let’s finish this job.”

Nodding, the rest of the party and Chloe ran in to help the others. It was clear that Killgore was very durable; he was taking hit after hit yet kept getting up.

“How is he so strong?” Chloe asked.

Nina explained, “It’s the soul of one of Muu’s victims that’s giving him such strength and durability. Unlike regular Undead Captains and Generals, ones powered by fallen souls are much stronger due to the additional energies in the soul. The only way to free the soul is to destroy the Undead Captain or General and allow it to ascend safely, away from Muu’s decaying grip.” She then gained an idea, “Hey, Chloe, do you know any skills regarding your staff?”

“Just one: Bang. Why?”

“Let’s combine our respective skills together to create a combo. Nova’s done it before so we can do it, too.”

Chloe went wide eyed before nodding. She quickly followed Nina behind Killgore and both started to focus their energies into their respective weapons.

“Bang!” Chloe stated.

“Lightning Burst!” Nina shouted.

The two skills combined into one, becoming a massive explosion of Fire and Lightning. The rest of the party jumped away before the attack was fired, allowing Killgore to get the full brunt of the attack, engulfing him in a powerful explosion. He screamed in pain as his body was ripped apart by the combo skill until he exploded, leaving only the glowing soul that was powering him behind, ending the battle.

“Woah!” Chloe said. “I never knew that skills could be combined together to create new, more powerful ones. That’s incredible!”

Nina smiled, “None of us knew that, either, until Nova performed the first combo skill ever by using his Fire Shot with Wind Cutter Arrow to create Missile Strike. He then did it again with Angelo, combining his Wind Cutter Arrow with Angelo’s Flame Slash to create Firestorm Slash. We should call that combo skill Lightning Eruption.”

“Yeah! I like the sound of that.”

Suddenly the captured soul took form, revealing itself to be a shrine maiden. She looked at the brave heroes gratefully.

“Thank you for freeing my soul from Muu’s grip,” she said sincerely. “Now I’m no longer trapped in his clutches and can safely ascend to the heavens. Muu’s army attacked my village. My people managed to escape but I was slain in the struggle and thus captured by General Vertebreak. Muu had hoped that a soul powered by such strong energies like mine would make for a good Undead Captain. Thankfully, you all freed me from my prison and now I can rest in peace. Please, continue the fight against Muu and save all the other souls he’s captured before they become his next lab rats for new Undead Captains or Generals.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Leave it to us, madam. That is our goal. Especially now, since we know Muu has taken an interest in using his captive souls to rebuild his army that we’ve done so much damage to. We intend to free all those souls and end this 3,000+ year nightmare once and for all.”

The shrine maiden smiled, “Thank you. Please, save those innocent souls from Muu’s decaying claws and end the suffering our world has had to endure because of him. May the Goddess bless you on your journey.”

She then became a sphere of light and ascended to the heavens.

“Still no sign of him…” Kettu said silently.

Nova gently stroked Elora on the snout, saying, “You did good today, Elora. Thanks for not using your hellfire on that Undead Captain, as it ran the risk of hurting that trapped soul. I’m very pleased. To the Spirit Plane.”

Elora gave a happy hiss before she vanished in a flurry of sparkles. Nova then took off the Summoning Sticker and placed it in his Digi-Pack.

He then said, “The job isn’t quite done yet. We need to destroy the Undead Base itself to prevent it from being used by another Undead Army platoon. Sir Reginald, erect a barrier so I can safely snipe the Magna Crystal powering it.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, good idea. Everyone, let’s back up a bit and get behind me.”

Everyone complied and walked a fair distance back to a more comfortable range. Sir Reginald then started to release pulses from his hands, creating a barrier around them. Nova then loaded up another arrow and took aim at the Magna Crystal.

“Devil Mode,” he said.

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself again, now set to Devil Mode.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the archery skill at the Magna Crystal, striking it. The crystal started to hum and shake before exploding, taking the entire Undead Base with it, leaving only debris and a charred crater behind. When the dust had settled Sir Reginald then lowered the barrier.

“Good work, everyone,” he said. “That’s another Undead Army platoon and its leader destroyed. And one more soul freed. We still have a ways to go but we’ve made good progress.”

Chloe then fell to her knees, panting heavily.

“You okay, Chloe?” Angelo asked, concerned.

“Y-Yeah, I will be,” she panted. “My legs feel like jelly. I guess the adrenaline rush has worn off and now my nerves have returned.”

Do you think you can walk?” Zeeker asked.

Her eyes gained a small gleam before saying, “I don’t think so. Nova, please carry me, bridal-style.”

WHACK!

“Ow! Nina! Don’t hit me on the head like grandma does!”

Nina huffed, “Nice try, Chloe, but you’re not gonna get your way with Nova. Not as long as I’m around. Either you walk or Van will carry you like a freshly caught boar. It’s your choice.”

Chloe sulked before saying, “Fine, I’ll walk. Just give me a minute or two to regain my bearings, since that was the first real fight I’ve ever been in.”

Nova said silently, “Now I know I seriously missed something when I was practically unconscious. Why is this girl hitting on me? And why is Nina so protective of me? No women find me appealing yet Nina and Chloe seem to be at each other’s throats over me. What happened when I was asleep???”

After a few minutes Chloe managed to stand up and the party started to make their way back to the village. They soon arrived at the village, where the various villagers were awaiting their return.

The older shrine maiden asked, “So, it appears the task is complete. Muu’s most recent Undead Captain and Undead Base are no more, correct?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, that is true. And all the Undead Soldiers have been dealt with, too. You can now breathe a sigh of relief knowing that Muu’s forces won’t attack you any time soon.”

“And how did Chloe do?”

Van replied, “It was Chloe and Nina who ultimately destroyed Captain Killgore. They combined Chloe’s Bang skill with Nina’s Lightning Burst to create a combo skill that utterly destroyed Captain Killgore, freeing the trapped soul in the process.”

A villager looked surprised, “Wait. Skills can be combined into stronger combos? And Chloe actually destroyed that Undead Captain alongside Nina using a combo? We didn’t know that combo skills exist.”

Nina smiled, “We didn’t either until Nova executed the first combo skill ever by combining his Fire Shot with Wind Cutter Arrow to create Missile Strike. And then again with his Wind Cutter Arrow and Angelo’s Flame Slash to create Firestorm Slash. We called this new combo Lightning Eruption. So, yeah, you can combine skills together to create more powerful ones. Just a bit of food for thought.”

The older shrine maiden smiled, “Well done, Chloe. You’ve finally taken the first needed steps into becoming a proper shrine maiden just like your mother. She must be smiling upon you from the heavens.”

Nova said, “As the Blitz family says, ‘Progress is progress, no matter how small’, which holds true. She managed to hold her own, even taking down several Undead Soldiers. She needs more work but like you said she’s taken the first steps in overcoming her fears and becoming a proper shrine maiden. It won’t happen overnight but she’s heading in the right direction.”

“Yeah, now you just need to stay on this path, Chloe,” Nina stated. “Otherwise you’ll end up right back where you started.”

Chloe replied, “I know, I know. While my legs still feel like jelly I admit I felt good about myself for finally fighting Muu. I’m still terrified at the thought of dying at his decaying hands but I do feel more confident. Maybe Nova could stick around and teach me courage in some special lessons.”

WHACK!

“Ow! Grandma!”

Kettu sighed, “Some things never change.”

Nova shrugged, “The more things change the more they stay the same.”

The villagers eagerly invited the party into the town, ready to celebrate another loss on Muu’s side and their salvation. They also gave Chloe some well-deserved praise at her accomplishment. Everyone knew they had a long road ahead of them but they were ready for it.

Next Chapter: The Phoenix and the Werecat

That's all for today. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

The Phoenix and the Werecat


It had been a few days since the heroic party had defeated Captain Killgore. The party had left the village, much to Chloe’s protests, and was heading toward the next town, knowing that another Undead Base was in that direction. Kettu was examining his notes as they traveled, ensuring they had the right information.

“Okay, our next opponent will be Captain Vertego,” the Werefox said. “He’s decently high on the pecking order so taking him down will be a sizable blow to Muu. But he’s also tougher than past Undead Captains, with maybe the exception of Skelesare and Killgore, as they were powered by captured souls. But Captain Vertego is still a threat on his own so we need to be careful of him. Fortunately, he’s got a big weakness to Ice which gives us an advantage thanks to Nina and Angelo. Once we get to the next town we’ll go over my notes again so we can map out a battleplan.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Indeed, Kettu. Those notes of yours have proven to be very valuable. Makes me wonder why you’re fighting against Muu?”

“I have my reasons, Reggie, that’s all you need to know.”

“My name is not ‘Reggie’!” the knight retorted.

Nova chuckled lightly, “Like clockwork. But enough of that, let’s keep going, as the next town should be just beyond that hill.”

Zeeker nodded, “Yeah, and if memory serves my friend Stan should be in that town. He’s one of the friends I told you guys about. He should have some juicy info on Muu that could help us in the long run. Hopefully his shop is still there.”

“What shop?” Nina asked.

“Well, café, really. Stan is really good at making various drinks and baked goods so he opened up a café. It’s also said to be a great place to get some news and gossip, so we might get some extra news on top of what Stan has to say.”

“Hopefully it’s not like the accursed café I work at back on Earth,” Nova grumbled. “Damn Stavros and his conniving, cheapskate ways. Not to mention he loves to bully me due to my spinelessness and dock my pay because he can. No wonder no one likes his café, be it customers or staff. Boy, do I intend to give him a taste of his own medicine when I get back to Earth.”

Van turned to him, “So, you’ve got bit of a dead-end job with a cruel, cheap boss, huh, Nova? No wonder you said your budget is rather tight, especially if your boss is docking your pay as a means of bullying you. What do you plan on doing when you get back to him?”

“I’ve got some ideas in the works. One of which is to exploit his fear of snakes with Elora. Let’s see how he likes having his fears preyed upon. But time for that later, as we should be nearing the town.”

Nodding, everyone made their way over the hill and saw the town just ahead. However, to their surprise, the town was sporting a lot of damage. People were working hard, trying to repair the ruins, clearly on edge.

“What happened here?” Angelo asked, surprised.

Kettu’s eyes narrowed, “Was this the work of Captain Vertego and his Undead Army platoon?”

Sir Reginald replied, “Let’s go and find out.”

The party made their way into the town. The villagers were too busy repairing the damage they had sustained to even notice the party. Sir Reginald walked up to a young woman who was carrying supplies.

“Excuse me, miss, but can you please tell me what happened here?” he asked.

The woman replied, “Those damn Werecats to the southwest attacked us unprovoked. They’ve been attacking us for the past three days, stealing our livestock. Their leader, Eoleo, seems to be targeting us almost for kicks, as he’s constantly laughing at our misfortune. No surprise, as he looks down upon us humans, seeing us as an inferior species. While he, fortunately, doesn’t possess any magic, he’s fast and hits hard. Plus there is his Werebeast form to consider. My advice is to stay away from here and not deal with that feline freak.”

Kettu gave a heavy sigh, “It’s Werefolk like this Eoleo guy that give our kind a bad name. Not all Werefolk are savage brutes. Even someone like me, who is a thief, has standards and decency. Looks like we’ll have to deal with this Eoleo guy first before we can deal with Captain Vertego.”

A man walked up to them, “Why? Why are you going after Muu’s army?”

Van replied, “We’re the Demon King’s champion party, so it’s our job to fight and destroy each and every member of Muu’s forces. We hope to get to Muu himself during this trip but we’ve been uprooting several of his bases and platoons. But, like Kettu said, we’re going to have to deal with this Eoleo guy first, as he could get in our way during our next mission.”

An older man said, “If you can put that cat out with the trash we’d be most grateful. But be careful, as he’s pretty tough.”

“We’ll keep that in mind,” Zeeker said. “By the way, is Stan’s Café still here?”

“Yes it is. Why?”

“He’s an old friend of mine and we want to ask him for some information. Maybe we can also get some more dirt on this Eoleo guy while we’re at it, as he tends to learn some juicy tidbits here and there.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Okay, then. Let’s check out Stan’s Café and see what we can learn. Then we’ll deal with this Eoleo and his Werecats.”

Nina was looking a bit disgruntled at the thought, ruffling her feather every now and then. This change in demeanor didn’t go unnoticed by Nova.

“What’s with Nina?” he said silently. “Whenever she ruffles her feathers that means something is annoying her or she’s agitated. Does it have something to do with this Eoleo guy? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.”

The party made their way to where Stan’s Café was. It was a nice-looking building though it showed some signs of damage. They entered the café and saw a wolf beastman working the counter. He looked up and his eyes widened in surprise as he saw Zeeker.

“Zeeker!” he said in a cheerful tone. “It’s been ages, old buddy. How have you been? I know things got hairy a while back so it’s good to see you’re okay. Hmm? Who are all these people? And isn’t that Prince Angelo of the Hopper Clan? What’s going on?”

Zeeker replied, “This is the Demon King’s champion party. We’re fighting against Muu. We were hoping you could give us some dirt on him, as I know you tend to get some good information. Also, think you can tell us some more about this Eoleo guy that’s been attacking lately?”

Stan’s eyes went wide, “You’re part of the Demon King’s champion party, Zeeker? I gotta give you props for that, especially after what happened a long time ago. But enough of that, as you came to the right guy for information. Regarding Muu and his forces, according to an ally of mine, he’s been looking for a way to get to the Goddess herself so he can steal her powers and be able to conquer all worlds. Belzebuth is enough of a repellent for him to not go at her directly but he’s attempting to lure her out by using captured souls and fusing them with Undead Soldiers to create stronger Undead Captains and Generals. He knows she won’t stand for having a captured soul be in Muu’s clutches much less be used as a weapon against her so he’s banking on her trying to interfere in this plan so he can ambush her and drain her of her powers. Belzebuth seems to be keeping the Goddess from falling into that trap but rumor has it she’s pretty livid at what Muu’s doing.”

Sir Reginald scratched his chin, “I see. So Muu is not only using captured souls to rebuild his army that we’ve been dismantling but as a means to lure out the Goddess herself. That’s not good. We need to keep that from happening, as if he were to obtain her powers it could spell disaster for all worlds, not just ours. He knows how to bait the mousetrap with something she’ll go after. It’s a good thing that Belzebuth is probably aware of Muu pulling stunts like that before so he’s able to keep the Goddess from falling for that trap. Hopefully we can prevent any possible rash maneuvers from our Goddess.”

Stan nodded, “Yeah. As for this Eoleo Werecat guy he and his pack live to the southwest of us. They never really bothered us before. But, as you know, he and his pack have been attacking us lately and stealing food and livestock. I believe it’s because Muu set up an Undead Base in his hunting grounds so he’s been attacking us both as a means of getting food but also to take his anger out on something, as Eoleo is known for being quite the jerk to humans, seeing them as an inferior race that only exists to be food or fodder for ‘superior beings’, as he puts it.”

“So, he’s a racist, huh?” Van huffed. “The nerve. That’s worse than being a criminal or even one of Muu’s soldiers. Looks like we need to skin that cat.”

“Yeah, he’s a Grade A racist and jerk. Makes me wonder what anyone in his pack sees in him as a leader. He’ll probably attack again real soon so you should stick around and keep an eye out for him.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Thank you for the information, Stan. This is all useful knowledge. Now we have some insight on what our enemy is planning.”

“Happy to help,” Stan said. “I also recommend you seek out Kathy, as she’s got some good info digging skills. Sadly, she’s not here but you can probably find her in the next town or so, as she likes to gather up as much dirt on our enemies as possible.”

Zeeker nodded, “Yeah, she was another possible friend I wanted to tap into. If you say she’s not far off then we’ll seek her out. But, for now, let’s focus on this Werecat problem and work from there.”

Angelo suggested, “If the Werecats are only attacking because Muu built an Undead Base on their hunting grounds then maybe removing said Undead Base will cause the attacks to cease? I mean, it’s worth a shot, right?”

Nina huffed, “Perhaps, but if this Eoleo is a racist toward humans he might just keep attacking regardless of his hunting grounds are clean of Undead or not. After all, people like him will relentlessly torment others for their own amusement. Especially if they perceive them as easy marks.”

Nova gained a depressed look, “Yeah, that’s true. I know that all too well.”

Sir Reginald replied, “Either way we need to deal with these Werecats and the Undead Base, otherwise this town could be destroyed by one or the other. Let’s go and start asking around so we can learn more about these Werecats: like when they tend to attack and how many of them show up at a time.”

Suddenly a voice from outside shouted, “The Werecats are coming!”

“Looks like we’ll get our answers soon enough without even needing to ask,” Kettu said.

Stan said, “Taking out the leader, Eoleo, might be enough to repel them, as the other Werecats follow his orders. But, like all Werecats, if their leader is defeated or disabled they’ll retreat. At least I hope that’s the case, as Eoleo doesn’t seem like the type to retreat.”

“Guess we’ll soon find out,” Nova said.

The party quickly ran outside to see where the Werecats were coming from. They saw the villagers preparing for the worst and just over another hill were the Werecats, with their leader standing in front of them. Eoleo was quite handsome, with sharply cut facial features, green eyes, wild dirty blonde hair, a muscular body, fur-covered lower arms ending in claws, lean, strong legs ending in large paws, and a cat tail flowing behind him. He was dressed in a dark blue sleeveless vest with no shirt underneath it, a flowing white headband, torn brown pants, and battle tape around his hands and feet.

One of his fellow Werecats tapped his shoulder, saying, “Hey, Eoleo, I think we’ve got some warriors at this town today. Maybe we shouldn’t bother them today, as they might have been hired by the town to deal with us.”

Eoleo huffed, “Wannabe warriors don’t scare me, Ian. I’ll run circles around them and beat them up before they even know what hit them. Hmm?” He then laid eyes on Nina, making him go wide eyed and gaining a seductive smirk, “Hello, what do we have here? A Phoenix Clan woman is among them. And she’s quite the honey. She’ll make a good queen for our pack.”

Another Werecat said, “Um… Eoleo, didn’t it ever occur to you that might not be a good idea? You know that the Phoenix Clan don’t like Werecats, right?”

“Shut up, Hunter. She’ll fall for my masculine charms easily. Let’s go!”

He immediately dashed on ahead at blinding speeds, heading straight for Nina, who realized she was now the target. The other Werecats shrugged and charged in, heading toward the village. Eoleo quickly wove his way through everyone to get to Nina, pinning her to a wall, making her mad.

“Hello, little chickadee,” he said in a seductive tone. “Why don’t you ditch that group you’re with and come with me. You’d make a great queen for my pack.”

Nina’s eyes narrowed, followed by putting up a palm, and then fired an energy sphere from it, knocking the Werecat leader back with surprising force, dazing him.

“Not on your life, Werecat!” Nina spat.

At the time the rest of the party was dealing with the other Werecats. The Werecats were surprised not only at the strength of the party, as they were easily repelling their assault, but the fact that Nina blasted Eoleo without much effort. This resistance started to make the Werecats nervous, as it was clear they’d never been bested before, yet the heroic party was doing just that.

Eoleo recovered and jumped back onto his feet and tried to corner Nina again, saying, “My, aren’t you a feisty one. I like that in women. Now I’m totally convinced you’ll make an excellent queen for my pack. And mother to my children.”

Now livid Nina started to channel energy into her rings before stating, “Over your dead body! Mini Boom!”

She fired the condensed explosion at Eoleo, blasting him with intense energies that sent him flying back, crashing into and breaking a cart to bits. This action stunned the Werecats, allowing the heroic party to take advantage of their moment of distraction to knock the Werecats like bowling pins. Nova quickly ran over to Nina just as Eoleo was recovering from getting hit by Mini Boom. The leader Werecat’s eyes narrowed as he saw Nova standing in front of Nina, obviously protecting her. He roughly tossed
aside the broken cart bits and stormed up to the pink-haired man, who stood his ground.

“You dare get in between me and my future queen, human?” he growled.

“Yes, as it’s not only clear that Nina doesn’t like you, thus she’ll never become your ‘queen’, but the fact you’ve been harassing both her and this village is unacceptable,” Nova snarled back.

“And what is a useless human like you gonna do, hmm?”

“Take you out with the trash.”

Eoleo started to laugh, “Yeah, right! Not in this lifetime, pink boy!” He gained a serious expression, “Allow me to show you just how outclassed you are!”

He started to run around the duo, obviously showing off his speed, trying to disorient Nova. Nova took a deep breath, primed an arrow on his bow, and took aim.

“Demon Mode,” he said.

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now on Demon Mode.

“Petrify Shot.”

The arrow started to glow, now armed with the needed energies for its attack. Nova took a brief moment to observe how Eoleo ran around them before firing his arrow. To the Werecat’s shock Nova nailed his leg with the arrow, causing him to come to a screeching halt. The arrow then released its energies, causing his entire left leg and part of his hip to turn to stone, completely preventing him from moving.

“H-How?!” Eoleo sputtered. “How could you have timed that shot so perfectly?! No human can do that!”

Nova growled in response, “You underestimate us humans. We have quite a few tricks up our sleeves that beings of lesser intelligence can’t understand. I won’t let you bully these people nor will I let you sexually harass Nina. I care very much about her and I won’t let some fleabag like you give her trouble.”

Nina’s face melted into a smile, “Nova… thank you. You’re the best.”

Eoleo quickly put the situation together and narrowed his eyes, “You dare think you’re a better pick for her than me, pink-haired human? I’ll prove you’re not by tearing you limb from limb!”

However, before he could attempt to attack Ian and Hunter grabbed Eoleo and hoisted him over their heads.

“Sorry, boss, but this attack is a failure,” Ian said.

“Yeah, we’re outta here before these talented warriors turn us into trophies,” Hunter added.

“Put me down!” Eoleo protested. “I never retreat! Retreating is for cowards!”

“There’s always a first, Mr. Cat in the Hat,” Nova sneered, taking aim at the Werecats again.

Ian called, “Retreat!”

The Werecats complied without hesitation, quickly turning tail and running away. Ian and Hunter quickly carried Eoleo away, much to his protests, leaving the village alone and safe. The villagers all cheered happily as the Werecats fled, while Nina looked relieved.

Nova turned to her, “Are you okay, Nina? You’re not hurt or anything, are you?”

She replied, “No, I’m okay. A bit ruffled but not harmed. I can’t believe that stupid Werecat tried to flirt with me. I would never date a Werecat.”

“Not that I blame you but why? You seem to have a particularly high amount of vitriol toward Werecats. Why is that?”

Kettu stepped up, saying, “It’s because Werecats and Phoenixes are enemies. Werecats frequently try to steal phoenix eggs to eat them, which is when a phoenix is most vulnerable. Phoenixes, in turn, eat Werecats. Because the Phoenix Clan has common ancestry with real phoenixes they retained the same instinctive hatred toward Werecats, albeit it’s downplayed due to the fact that the Phoenix Clan obviously doesn’t lay eggs for Werecats to try to steal. But the reason Nina is so hostile toward those Werecats is because she has instinctive hatred toward them due to her ancestry connection to real phoenixes. Werecats also don’t like phoenixes because they can easily eat them but it appears that this Eoleo isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed to not realize that hitting on a Phoenix Clan woman is doomed to fail. So that’s why Nina is so hostile toward Eoleo, as her natural connection to phoenixes is causing her own instincts to respond the same way they would. It’s not racism or anything. It’s more of a natural enemy type of thing due to the years of fighting between Werecats and phoenixes that has since carried over into the Phoenix Clan itself.”

Nina nodded, “That’s correct. Just hearing the word ‘Werecat’ is enough to make my blood boil due to it triggering my natural instincts. Because we Phoenix Clan members share the same ancestry with regular phoenixes the same instinctive hatred for them carried over into our clan despite the fact that the Phoenix Clan and Werecats pretty much never interact. The fact that Eoleo either doesn’t know that or is too stupid to realize it will only make it worse, as I doubt we’ve seen the last of him.”

Angelo said, “Hopefully removing the Undead Base from their hunting grounds will stop the attacks on this village. But I agree that we haven’t seen the last of Eoleo. Especially now that he’s locked his attention onto our lovely Phoenix lady Nina. Expect her to be just as hostile, if not more, if we run into that Werecat again. His unrequited love will fail because of the power of natural instincts in the heart of the one he’s chasing. Sounds almost like a tragic romance novel.”

Nina huffed, ruffling her feathers, “Yeah, well, it’ll be a tragedy if we have to see him again. Honestly, I know I’m attractive and I wear skimpy clothes but does every man of every species has to hit on me? Next thing you know an Undead Soldier will be trying to make some moves on me. Brr! Again, I’m not against marrying outside of clan if it means I can have a loving husband but this is getting ridiculous. I’m holding out for Mr. Right, and yet my heart is telling me I already know where he is. But I know my future husband WON’T be a Werecat. Now let’s drop this conversation before it ruffles my feathers anymore.”

Nova nodded, “Right. We should start planning our next attack on Muu’s Undead Base before they make their next move and attack this already battered village. Hopefully my Petrify Shot will keep that Eoleo at bay for a bit so we can deal with the Undead Base without him making another attempt at this village.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Agreed, Nova. Let’s head for the inn and begin our next strategy meeting so we can tackle Captain Vertego as soon as possible.”

The party nodded in agreement and headed toward the inn to start mapping out their plan for dealing with Captain Vertego. The happy villagers continued repairing their home now that the Werecats had been repelled. They all knew that until the Undead Base was dealt with things would only get worse.

Next Chapter: Vertego’s Vertigo

That's it for today. As if Nova didn't have enough rivals for Nina's affections. Hopefully the Werecats will back off once the Undead Base is removed. Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence, female nudity)

Vertego’s Vertigo


It was the following evening after the heroic party had repelled the Werecats. They were going over their battleplan, reviewing Kettu’s notes and ironing out the last few details of their strategy.

Sir Reginald said, “Okay, our strategy looks good. Since this Undead Base is set up near a fresh water lake we can use Angelo’s frog form to sneak in from behind and ambush them. We also know how to exploit Captain Vertego’s weakness to Ice, as both Nina and Angelo can cast Ice magic, and Nova can provide additional Ice magic with the Demon King Ring. Vertego’s standard model Undead Soldiers will be easy pickings, especially since we’ll be using Elora to give us some extra firepower. We will begin our attack tomorrow morning after breakfast.”

Kettu nodded, “Yes, that sounds good, Reggie. Soon another Undead Base and its army will be crushed, giving us one more foothold against Muu.”

Angelo smiled, “Indeed, my fox friend. And hopefully with the removal of the Undead Base those Werecats will leave this village alone, as they’ll have their hunting grounds back.”

“Let’s hope,” Nina huffed. “This poor town doesn’t need those fleabags giving them any more problems. If those Werecats are smart they’ll just accept their hunting grounds back without a fuss and not bother anyone else. Although I doubt that’ll be the case, as that Eoleo doesn’t seem like the type of guy to just do as we say and leave this place alone once we win back his hunting grounds. He doesn’t seem intelligent enough to even consider the idea, especially if we’re the ones asking for it. After all, we sent him and his pack running with their tails in between their legs, something they clearly never experienced before, and Eoleo calls retreating a coward’s tactic. No matter what I doubt those Werecats will just accept it and do as we say in exchange for their hunting grounds back.”

Van nodded, “Yeah, that does make sense. Eoleo is probably already planning his next attack on us since we sent him and his pack running. Hopefully Nova petrifying his leg will keep him down for a bit, since removing petrification isn’t as easy as using something like Curse Breaker. No, it generally requires a bit more effort to fix than standard magic. But let’s hope that he’ll be out of commission for a bit so we can take care of business.”

“Just what I needed: another rival for Nina,” Nova grumbled silently. “I already have Dominic harassing her now this feline freak is joining the fray. And unlike Dominic this Eoleo actually has some bite to his bark, or meow in his case. Plus… he’s actually very good-looking, especially compared to an unremarkably average guy like me. Still, I won’t let him bother Nina, as it’s clear she can’t stand him, instincts or otherwise. Hopefully us winning back his hunting grounds will make him more agreeable, though like Nina I doubt it’ll be that simple. Nothing is ever that simple. At the time we should focus on dealing with Muu and put that meowing moron on the backburners.”

Nina turned to him, “Nova? You okay? You’re awfully quiet.”

He looked at her, “Yeah, I’m fine. I’m just thinking some of our tactics and strategies over to envision how they’ll play out. While I’m no strategic expert I do have enough know-how on strategy to at least get a basic idea of what could happen. After all, nothing ever goes according to plan, so I’m generally thinking of some back-up ideas, as sometimes the best tactic is to improvise.” He then said silently, “I don’t have the heart to say what I’m really thinking, since that might put me at odds with Nina. While I do want her as my girlfriend, so goons like Dominic and Eoleo leave her alone, I also know she’d be taking a massive step down in quality if she were to hook up with me. Well, it won’t be as bad of a drop in quality compared to Dominic. At least I have a functioning brain and I’m willing to address my flaws instead of pretending they don’t exist.”

Sir Reginald said, “Either way, we should have another Undead Base dealt with by noon tomorrow if everything goes according to plan. But like Nova said, leaving room to improvise if the plan goes off the rails is a good back-up plan. Now, let’s all head for bed so we can be rested up for tomorrow.”

Nina nodded and grabbed Nova’s arm, saying, “Right, see you guys in the morning. Come, Nova, you’re staying with me. With that Eoleo guy around somewhere I don’t feel very safe, so I’d rather have you act as my bodyguard for a bit.”

Nova gained a crooked smile, “Considering we always bunk together this is nothing new, Nina. But fine, as I, too, don’t want that Werecat showing up in the middle of the night to give you grief again.”

“Sleep tight!” Angelo said cheerfully.

Nina dragged Nova into another inn room, locking the door behind her. She then placed her forehead on the door, concerning Nova.

“Nina?” he asked gently. “Is everything okay?”

She replied, “I’m getting really sick of disgusting men like Dominic and now Eoleo hitting on me. Yes, I know I’m attractive and everything but dealing with men like that reminds me of the men back in my clan. You were the first man who ever treated me like an equal and not like a possession, allowing me to see that not all men are like my fellow clan members. But dealing with Dominic and Eoleo unearths all those rotten memories of how men back in my clan treated me. It’s times like this I’m really grateful to have met you, Nova, as if it wasn’t for you I probably would’ve come to hate men. I was nearly heading down that path until you blessed me with your kindness, saving me from a possible self-destruction. While I’m finally free from my clan’s clutches everything they’ve done to me still haunts my memories. What I wouldn’t give to get some payback for all those years of neglect and abuse all because I was a girl with a rare gift. You’ve done so much for me, Nova, and I’m forever grateful. I just wish men like Dominic and Eoleo would leave me alone so I can be free from those shackles and be able to spread my wings in happiness.”

Nova gently placed his hands on her shoulders, saying, “I understand how you feel, Nina. While I’ve never been the target of the affections of multiple people, since I can’t exchange two words with a woman without being on the receiving end of three insults normally, I do understand how frustrating it must be for you. You’ve been mistreated for years at the hands of goons like Dominic and Eoleo and you just want to be free from it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I just hope that the man who successfully wins your heart treats you with the love, kindness, and respect you deserve.”

Nina smiled and hugged Nova, saying, “Thank you, Nova. You truly are the best thing to ever happen to me. Without you I don’t know what would’ve become of my life. Or my sanity. Our meeting was… unconventional, to say the least, but I’m glad it did, as my life has changed for the better. You were willing to take my side even before knowing the full context of my situation and you bent over backwards to help me escape my kingdom even at great personal risk. That’s not something most people would do, yet you did exactly that. Thank you for everything. Now… let’s get to bed. I’m tired after all that excitement and dealing with that damn Werecat pack.”

She let go of him and made her way to one of the beds. She then stripped out of her clothes, gave Nova a playful wink, and tucked herself under the covers. Nova gave a small smile as he took off his Digi-Pack, bow, quiver of arrows, and his Hoverboots, and curled up under the covers of one of the other beds.

“Nina… if only I was worthy of a woman like you I’d do anything to make you happy,” he said silently. “I’m glad that what I have done so far has given you hope for a better future. I’m not good enough for you but I’ll do whatever I can so you can have a better life and a worthwhile future.”

He then slowly drifted off to sleep.

Morning came. After a good breakfast the party was heading toward where the Undead Base was. They were maintaining a low profile, trying to avoid detection from both the Undead Army and the Werecats. Eventually they found the Undead Base. It was stationed near a large lake, with the entire front blocked off with barricades and weapons, yet leaving the rear completely exposed.

Angelo smiled, “I guess this is now my time to shine. Allow me, my fine friends.”

He waded into the water before transforming into his giant frog form. The rest of the party except Nina climbed into his back and he began slowly and stealthily swimming toward the back end of the Undead Base. Nina flew closely behind, her toes and plumes just skimming the water as she did. When they reached the back end of the fortress the party slowly clambered off Angelo’s back, allowing him to transform back to normal, while Nina gently floated down to ground level.

Kettu said in a hushed tone, “Let me scope things out first. I’ve already infiltrated this base once before but let me take a quick peek and see if anything has changed since then.”

Sir Reginal nodded, “Right, good idea. That way we can make any adjustments to our strategy before launching our pre-emptive attack.”

Kettu turned into his black fox form and snuck into a large, exposed drain pipe. The party waited patiently for him to return. After about five minutes he returned. He quickly shook the gunk off of his fox form before transforming back to normal.

“Yuck, that drain pipe is still as slimy as it was when I was last here,” he grumbled. “But the good news is that nothing really has changed since the last time I was here. Captain Vertego is still the big boss of this base and his platoon is roughly the same size as before, give or take an Undead Soldier or two. The only real difference is that there seems to be more supplies now, as I noticed there were more crates than the last time I was here. I took a quick peek to see what was in at least one of those new crates and it appears to be crafting materials. Basically stuff to build weapons, armor, accessories, and other such items. I suggest we help ourselves to those materials after we’re done here, as those can fetch some nice pocket change with blacksmiths and craftsmen. Be a shame to let it go to waste. And don’t worry, none of that stuff is cursed or whatnot, I made sure to check. It’s just items like Cloud Tumblestones, Iron Chunks, various quality of Silver and Gold Ore, Magical Crystals, Coral Rubies, Sky Sapphires, and other related stuff. They also have various crafting tools and such along with those valuable items.”

Nina nodded, “Yeah, that would be a good idea, especially since stuff like Magical Crystals are fairly rare and can make for high-quality items and accessories. While I’m not one for greed, since I was a victim of it, I do agree that we could use those items for extra spending cash, as having enough funds on the road is necessary. Especially in the job we’ve taken up. But, for now, let’s get back on track and get ready to strike.”

Sir Reginald “Right. Let’s go over our plan one more time now that we have more information to use.”

After a quick rundown of the plan the party nodded and prepared to attack. Nova took out a Summoning Sticker and placed it on the back of his right hand.

“Elora, come forth!” he said in a strong tone.

The Summoning Sticker glowed, followed by a summoning circle appearing, then a burst of smoke and fire, and before long Elora was standing next to Nova.

“Ready to roast some boneheads, extra crispy-style, Elora?”

Elora nodded eagerly, giving a hiss, igniting her tail with black flames.

“All right… begin the attack!” Sir Reginald stated.

The party began their attack on the Undead Base, catching it and its occupants completely unaware. Elora quickly burned several Undead Soldiers to ash near instantly while the rest of the party charged through the enemies to the Undead Captain. At the time, a fair distance off, several Werecats were watching from afar. Ian was using a telescope to see what was going on.

“Hey, Ian, who’s attacking the Undead Base?” one Werecat asked.

“If I’m not mistaken it’s those warriors who sent us packing yesterday,” Ian said, looking through his telescope.

“Them?” another Werecat asked. “Why? Why are they risking their lives to take on the Undead Army?”

“I dunno but it appears one of them has a Gorgon Viper familiar, which is a huge advantage over the Undead Army,” Ian said. “Though I’m not sure which one of those warriors owns it. But from what I can see they’re making bone salad out of those Undead goons. This might mean we’ll get our hunting grounds back from Muu’s forces if they’re successful.”

IF being the operative word here, Ian,” another Werecat said.

Ian took another look through his telescope, saying, “I dunno. It appears they’re winning pretty soundly. I mean, from the looks of it, all the Undead Soldiers are dead, leaving only Captain Vertego. I’d say this group has a pretty clear shot at ending Vertego and his army today. Let’s keep watching and see what happens.”

The Werecats nodded and kept watching the battle from afar, with Ian using the telescope to get a better view. Meanwhile, the heroes had managed to push Captain Vertego into a corner.

“Curse you, Demon King puppet and allies!” he spat. “You will pay for your interference! Even if I die today Master Muu will make sure you all suffer the consequences of your resistance against our army!”

Nina smirked as she channeled energy, “We’ll see about that, bonehead. Freeze!”

Captain Vertego was blasted by a powerful burst of Ice energy, freezing him up to his ribcage.

Angelo said, “Let me get a lick in! Ice Shard!”

He fired a chunk of Ice at the still mostly frozen Undead Captain. The chunk of Ice smashed into his face, freezing part of it.

“One more time!” Nina stated. “Freeze!”

Another cold blast of Ice completely froze the Undead Captain, trapping him in a block of ice.

Sir Reginald turned to Angelo, “Let’s finish this off once and for all with a double Flame Slash.”

Angelo nodded, “Sounds good to me, Sir Reginald.”

Sir Reginald’s sword and Angelo’s rapier became coated in flames.

“Flame Slash!” both said in unison.

They both jumped and performed a cross slash on the frozen Undead Captain. The attack shattered the ice, taking the Undead Captain with it, before both him and the ice vanished, ending the fight.

Sir Reginald sheathed his sword, saying, “Another day, another victory. Good work everyone.”

Kettu lifted up one of the lids on the crates, revealing the various materials he had mentioned before.

“Let’s help ourselves to this bounty of useful items,” he said. “Better us taking it than letting it get destroyed with the Undead Base itself. And better us than Muu’s forces.”

The party quickly stashed all the various materials and crafting equipment into Nova’s Digi-Pack. After completing their task they went outside the Undead Base, only to see Ian and some Werecats approaching them.

Sir Reginald grabbed the hilt of his sword, saying, “What do you want, Werecats?”

Ian held up his hands in defense, “Woah, woah, woah, take it easy. We’re not here to fight. We watched you take out those Undead goons from afar. That was pretty impressive. Now we can see why we lost to you yesterday, as it’s clear you have quite a bit of experience dealing with strong foes like Muu’s army.”

Nina huffed, “Yeah, we have. We’ve taken down several Undead Captains, one Undead General, along with all their platoons, so we’ve got quite a bit of experience under our belts. This was just another day on the job for us. After all, we’re the Demon King’s champion party, so it’s our job to deal with Muu and his army. We intend to take down the big bone daddy himself and end this 3,000+ year nightmare that Edyn has suffered at his decaying hands. We still have a ways to go but we’ve been making good progress.”

A Werecat asked, surprised, “You’re the Demon King’s champion party?! Well, no wonder we didn’t stand a chance yesterday. But now with Muu’s forces no longer occupying our hunting grounds we can finally return to a sense of normality. I guess we owe you a thanks.”

Nova said, “The job isn’t quite done yet. We need to destroy the base itself, otherwise Muu can just recycle it with another Undead Captain or General. That way we can fully liberate an area from him. Sir Reginald, would you mind erecting another barrier so I can snipe the Magna Crystal safely?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “But of course, Nova. Everyone get behind me.”

Everyone got behind Sir Reginald as he faced the Undead Base. He started to release pulses from his hands and before long a barrier formed around them. Nova then primed an arrow, taking aim at the Magna Crystal.

“Devil Mode,” he said.

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Devil Mode.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the archery skill directly at the Magna Crystal. The electrified dragon struck the crystal, causing it to hum and shake. Before long it detonated, destroying the entire Undead Base, leaving scorched earth and debris behind. When the dust had settled Sir Reginald lowered the barrier.

“Wasn’t that a bit… overkill?” Ian asked.

“Overkill, yes,” Nova said. “Effective, also yes. That way we can be extra sure that Muu can’t simply retake an area that we’ve liberated from his forces. So while it’s a bit on the overkill side we still needed to do it in order to prevent Muu from simply sending another Undead Captain or General into that base and starting the whole process all over again. And hopefully now, with this base gone, you Werecats will stop attacking that innocent village, as you’ve got your hunting grounds back.”

Ian nodded, “Yeah, I think we can stop attacking that village for food now that we’ve gotten our hunting grounds back from Muu. I’m not sure if Eoleo is gonna agree to this, as he’s got that racist beef with humans, but we really have no need to attack that village anymore. We only did it for food but Eoleo takes delight in hurting humans so it was clear there was an extra layer to his motivation in attacking that village. But now with Muu’s forces gone we can hunt in our usual hunting grounds freely. So… thanks.”

Sir Reginald growled, “Just make sure that you Werecats don’t bother that village anymore. If you do we’ll skin you alive.”

Another Werecat replied, “Duly noted. Let’s head back to our den and tell Eoleo that we got our hunting grounds back. He’s not gonna be happy that it was the same group that beat us yesterday who won back our hunting grounds but he’s just gonna have to grin and bear it.”

Ian nodded, “Yeah, let’s get going. Hopefully the wildlife will return soon to this area, as Captain Vertego did chase our prey out when he took over the area. But now things should be easier for us Werecats. Again, thanks for taking back our hunting grounds. We’ll be good and not attack that village again… assuming Eoleo can put his racism aside for once. See ya.”

The Werecats quickly sped off to wherever their den resided, leaving the party behind.

“Hopefully that’s the end of it,” Zeeker said.

“I doubt it’ll be the end of it,” Nina huffed. “I’m not saying that because of my instincts, I’m saying that because of the fact that their leader is a racist, and people like that won’t stop harassing those who are the target of their racism that easily. Eoleo will be a problem, as I doubt we’ve seen the last of him. While I hope that Ian and the other Werecats will be able to keep him from attacking that village I doubt it’ll be that easy. But enough of this. Let’s head back to the village to recuperate from our fight and figure out our next plan and target.”

Nova nodded, “Agreed. Elora, thanks for your help again. To the Spirit Plane.”

Elora gave a happy hiss before vanishing in a flurry of sparkles, allowing Nova to remove the Summoning Sticker and putting it back in his Digi-Pack. The party made their way back to the village to rest and restock, knowing they still had a long road ahead of them.

Next Chapter: Crafty Crafting

That's all for today. Another day, another Undead Base gone. The gang's making good progress. Tune in next time to see what happens to our heroes.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next installment of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence, female nudity)

Crafty Crafting


It was the following evening after the heroic party had destroyed Captain Vertego and freed up the Werecat’s hunting grounds. They were at the inn, resting and recovering from the battle. Nova and Nina were alone in their room. Nina was sound asleep, wearing only a smile, giving her wings a twitch every now and then. Nova, surprisingly, was still up, looking up at the celling, contemplating something.

“All those materials we got today from the Undead Base…” he said silently. “The gang says that they can be used to craft various magical items and such. I admit that concept does tickle my fancy. I’m good with my hands and I rather like the idea of making magical accessories. Maybe…” he looked at Nina’s sleeping body, “…maybe I can make something for Nina to show her how I feel. Especially since I lack the courage to flat-out tell her how I feel. Considering I now have pretty much two rivals chasing after her as well as myself I want to ensure that they don’t succeed. Especially since Nina can’t stand either of Dominic or Eoleo for one reason or another. Yeah… maybe making Nina a gift would be a good way to show her how I feel about her. But what? I know nothing about magical accessories and other such items. Is it possible for someone to teach me the art of crafting magical accessories? I guess only time will tell.”

He shifted onto his side and slowly fell asleep, wondering and dreaming about what kind of hand-crafted gift he could give Nina.

The following morning the party was ready to leave the village. They had gathered up all their stuff and were preparing to move onto their next mission.

Sir Reginald looked at the map, saying, “Okay, with our mission here complete we can finally move onto the major trading city south of here. That’ll be a good place to do business, restock on supplies that we weren’t able to get here, and figure out our next course of action.”

Just then a villager ran up to the party, saying, “Pardon me, but a traveling accessory merchant needs help from warriors and, well, you’re the only warriors we have right now.”

“What for?” Zeeker asked.

“Well, according to several merchants there have been a number of thefts by a group of bandits further down the road, closer to the large city where several traders go. As a result merchants are become hesitant to go down that road, which could disrupt the local economy. This merchant is hoping you can go with him as bodyguards. He’s offering to pay any warriors who will escort him safely quite handsomely.”

Sir Reginald pondered for a moment, “We’re heading in that very direction. And if bandits are involved then we pretty much have to intervene and stop them. It might slow us down a bit but it is our duty to help the general public. Fine. Tell him we’ll escort him down the road to that city. Hopefully we can take out the bandits while we’re at it.”

The villager nodded and ran off to tell the accessory merchant the news.

“So… a magical accessory merchant needs our help?” Nova said silently. “This might be my chance to learn more about magical accessories so I can craft something for Nina. Looks like I’m about to get my wish… hopefully. We’ll see what transpires while we’re traveling with that merchant.”

The party then made their way to the front of the village where a traveling merchant was with his cart and another one of those strange bird creatures pulling it. He smiled as he saw the heroic party approach him.

“Thank you for taking up my request,” he said. “I’ve heard from many of my friends and fellow merchants that those bandits that attack them are ruthless and tend to steal pretty much everything in exchange for sparing their lives. Hopefully you can help squash out those bandits so the trade route will be freed from their terror.”

Sir Reginald replied, “We’re going in that direction anyway so it works out in the end. I wonder if these bandits are related to goons like the Charlie Horse Brothers and such?”

Kettu crossed his arms, “Wouldn’t surprise me if they were. Claymore and Galvin are pretty nasty customers and tend to have a fair bit of reach in the underground market. Even after Syn Syndicate was shut down due to Reggie’s knights those two still have enough pull that they could have various bandit groups under their equine thumbs. Hopefully these goons are their own group as dealing with the Charlie Horse Brothers is not a hive we want to poke just yet. Not when we’ve got bigger problems to deal with. We’ll probably run into them eventually but we’ve got other things to prioritize. But, for now, let’s focus on getting to the next area safely and hopefully deal with those bandits once and for all.”

The merchant bowed gratefully, “Thank you. Let’s get going right away.”

The party nodded and started to walk alongside the merchant and his cart, heading down the road. The grateful villagers waved goodbye as they left, knowing that they were finally free from their troubles thanks to them.

It was later that day. The sun was starting to set. The party and the merchant had taken refuge in a magical campsite near a shallow river. Nova was busy preparing dinner while the rest of the party and the merchant waited for the meal. The bird creature was already eating from a bowl that the merchant had with him, clearly enjoying its food. After a bit dinner was ready, much to the party’s eagerness.

Nina smiled, “I love it when you make your bacon cheeseburgers, Nova. I dare say they’re starting to become one of my favorite foods, along with all the other goodies you brought with you from Earth.”

Zeeker added, “Speaking of which, do you still have some bags of chips left? They’d go great with these burgers.”

Nova took a moment to go through the Digi-Pack before saying, “You’re in luck, as I still have some left. Though this’ll probably be the last of them. But at least everyone gets a bag to go with their burger.”

He took out several bags of chips and handed them out to the various hungry people before putting what was left back in his Digi-Pack.

“Bacon cheeseburgers and flavored potato chips,” Nina purred. “A very nice combination.”

The merchant said after finishing his bite of food, “I’ve never had food like this before. It’s good. Glad you’re doing the cooking, as I’m not the best in the kitchen. And thanks again for escorting me to the next area, as I’m worried those bandits will give me hell.”

Sir Reginald replied, “No problem. As I said before we’re going that way anyway so it’s killing two birds with one stone.”

Nina gave him a cold look, growling, “Don’t use that expression in front of a Phoenix Clan member. We don’t take kindly to that expression, as we’re related to phoenixes, which are flaming birds. Thus we hate that expression.”

“Sorry, Lady Nina,” the knight said sheepishly. “I didn’t realize you Phoenix Clan members didn’t like that expression.”

“Yeah, well, just remember that for next time, otherwise I might hit you with an energy ball. I’ll let it go this time but hold your tongue the next time you are tempted to say it.”

The bird creature also gave an annoyed squawk, seemingly agreeing with Nina.

Kettu chuckled, “Looks like even the firokoko doesn’t like that expression, either. Better keep that in mind for later, Reggie.”

“My name is not ‘Reggie’, Kettu!” Sir Reginald spat in protest.

Nova said silently, “So that bird creature is called a firokoko? I’ve been wondering about that for some time now. They seem pretty intelligent, too. Guess they’re considered beasts of burden like horses, though I wonder why they’re so popular? Maybe I’ll ask about that someday. For now, I have something else I want to ask that merchant but I’ll wait until after dinner.”

The group quickly finished their meal, allowing Nova and Nina to wash the dishes. Darkness was soon covering the land, meaning it was time for bed.

“Bed time,” Zeeker yawned. “We’ve got another early start tomorrow… thanks to Sir Reginald.”

Everyone except the merchant and Nova started to head for the tent.

“Nova?” Nina asked. “You coming to bed?”

Nova replied, “I will but I have something I want to take care of first. You go on ahead, Nina.”

She nodded and entered the tent, leaving Nova and the merchant alone.

The merchant said, “Something tells me you want to talk to me, right?”

Nova nodded, “On the head. You’re a magical accessory merchant, right? Does that mean you craft your own magical items?”

“That I do,” the merchant nodded. “Why do you ask?”

“I was wondering if you could teach me how to craft magical accessories. Not only would it be good for making extra money for my party, but… well… I want to make a nice gift for someone.”

The merchant smiled, “Gladly, my young friend. Since you and your party are going through the trouble of escorting me safely through bandit territory I see no harm in teaching you the art of magical item crafting. I hope you have some materials on-hand.”

Nova nodded, “I do, and thank you. Let’s get started.”

A few hours later Nina stirred from her slumber. She noticed that Nova’s sleeping bag was still empty, confusing her.

“Nova’s not in bed?” she said silently. “What’s he up to?”

She crawled out of the sleeping bag, taking extra care to not wake anyone else, and peaked outside the tent. There she saw Nova and the merchant seemingly working on something, further confusing her.

“Nova?” she asked gently. “What are you doing?”

Nova turned to her, “Sorry, Nina, I hope we didn’t wake you. This merchant is teaching me some things that I thought might be helpful as we travel. Stuff like how to barter better, identifying item quality, and what kinds of magical accessories exist. I guess we’ve been so engrossed in our discussion I didn’t realize how late it’s gotten. I’ll be in shortly. Go back to sleep.”

“Okay. Please do come to bed soon, as we have another early day tomorrow. And I know you’re not a morning person. Plus I feel more comfortable when you’re near me.”

“Sure, I’ll be there shortly. You go on ahead.”

Nina yawned before retreating back into the tent.

Nova turned to the merchant, “We’ll continue this later. But thanks to you I’m starting to get the feel for crafting magical items. Thank you.”

The merchant smiled, “No problem. I can see you’ve got some untapped talent in you, young man, so I’m happy to help. Now, let’s get to bed. I’ll sleep in my cart. You don’t want to leave your little lady waiting.”

He gave Nova a wink, making the pink-haired man blush. Both packed up what they were doing and retreated to their respective locations to rest for the night. They knew tomorrow was another day.

Dawn broke a few hours later. The party and the merchant were making their way down the road. Sir Reginald was looking at the map, checking things out as they traveled.

“Okay, we should reach the trader’s city by about early afternoon tomorrow,” he said. “And according to what we were told, those bandits have set up shop in the craggy area about three miles before that city. So we’d best be ready for them when we get to that point.”

Kettu placed his hands behind his head, saying, “Yeah, I hear ya. Hopefully these goons are not associated with the Charlie Horse Brothers, as that’s the last thing we need right now on top of Muu’s army. We’ll probably cross paths with them soon enough but let’s hope that when we do it’ll be during a lull in the action with Muu.”

Zeeker nodded, “I concur, Kettu. That’s a hive we shouldn’t poke until we’ve dealt with at least most of Muu’s forces on this continent. Though I do have a feeling they might try to seek us out.”

“Why?” Van asked.

“Well, it all surrounds little Nina. For starters, I heard that Phoenixwing Kingdom is offering a reward for her return. The reward amount is not known right now but I’m guessing that it’ll still be enough of a lure to get people to go after Nina. Plus those Charlie Horse Brothers have enough connections to probably figure out she has the Magic Fire Feathers, which, as we all know, fetch a huge profit due to how rare they are nowadays. I wouldn’t be surprised if they tried to use Nina as their golden goose, first taking as many Magic Fire Feathers as possible before milking the reward for all its worth.”

Nina gave a depressed sigh, “I hate to say it but that is a very likely situation that could get the jump on us. Especially now that I know my kingdom is offering a reward for my return. But if the reward amount isn’t listed, and given my greedy, cheapskate people, they’ll probably take advantage of that fact and shortchange whoever ‘returns’ me to them. So the possibility of the Charlie Horse Brothers using me to milk both the reward money and get as much out of my Magic Fire Feathers as possible is a very likely outcome. Damn my family and kingdom. I wouldn’t mind beating their skulls in for this, as it’s just asking for trouble.”

Nova replied, “We’ll make sure that doesn’t happen, Nina. You’re a free bird now and we intend to keep it that way. Whatever happens we’ll put a stop to it before you get turned into anyone’s golden goose again.”

She smiled warmly, “Thank you, Nova. That means a lot to me. You truly are the best.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Nova’s right, we won’t let that happen to you, Lady Nina. Even if it means having to fight the Charlie Horse Brothers or even Phoenixwing Kingdom itself we won’t let anyone turn you into another money-making scheme again.”

Everyone else nodded in agreement, making Nina smile.

“Thank you, everyone,” she said sincerely. “I’m so happy to have made such good friends who would actually be willing to challenge threats like my kingdom for my sake. That’s not something I thought I’d ever get to experience. Thank you. Now, enough of this, let’s keep going before something happens.”

The party and the merchant continued onward. Along the way they encountered some monsters but they were no match for the heroic party. After a while they came to another magical campsite as the sun started to set.

“Let’s set camp here and continue tomorrow morning,” Sir Reginald said. “It’ll be safer that way and we can start mapping out a plan to deal with those bandits. So let’s get to work.”

Everyone split up to do their assigned jobs. Before long a campfire was roaring and dinner was smelling good. After a bit Nova took a sample from the pot and tasted it.

“Yeah, I’d say we’re ready to go,” he said. “My signature beef and potato stew is ready. Gather up.”

Everyone eagerly held out their bowls for some of Nova’s stew. He gave everyone sizable servings of stew, allowing everyone to settle back and enjoy their dinner.

“Yum!” Nina purred. “Your stews are always the best, Nova. You’re such a good cook. And you say you’re only the third or fourth best cook in your family. I find that hard to believe.”

Nova chuckled lightly, “Well, believe it, Nina, as the ones who are above me are significantly better. But considering most of the Blitz family doesn’t have the highest standards when it comes to cooking that’s not exactly a high bar to jump over. But, again, my true forte in cooking is baking, where I can’t be beat. After all, no one else in the family can make cheesecakes, which is my signature dessert, despite everyone craving cheesecake, so I do have that edge over the rest of my family.”

“I’d like to try one of you cheesecakes one day, Nova, as cherry cheesecake is my favorite treat. I wonder what kind of cheesecakes you make?”

“Oreo, vanilla bean, caramel fudge swirl, cherry, strawberry, just to name a few.”

“Sign me up!”

Kettu chuckled, “Looks like your baking ability may have earned you a fan, Nova. Even though she hasn’t actually had any of your baked goods yet.”

Nina smiled, “True, but that’ll happen soon enough. Now, let’s enjoy our meal in peace.”

Everyone resumed eating, clearly enjoying the stew. After another serving the food was gone, allowing Nova and Nina to wash the bowls and pot in a nearby river. After that everyone except Nova and the merchant went to bed.

The merchant said, “So, time to continue your lessons, my young friend?”

Nova nodded, “Yes, please. I want to learn as much as I can, since I may not get another opportunity like this again. Let’s continue where we left off.”

The two went back to work on teaching Nova about magical accessories and how to craft them. After a few hours, with the three moons high in the sky, the merchant gave a small smile.

“I think we should stop for the night before your lady friend comes out here looking for you,” he said. “But that should give you the basic rundown of how magical accessories can be crafted and work. The rest is up to you.”

Nova nodded, “Thank you for teaching me this. I want to be able to help the gang, as well as give Nina a small token of my appreciation for everything she’s done for me. I just hope I can make something nice for her as well as make extra money for the party, as when on the road every coin counts. See you in the morning.”

Nova retreated into the tent while the merchant went to his cart and both fell asleep near instantly, as they knew tomorrow meant that they ran the chance for the bandits to attack them.

It was the following day. The party and the merchant were traveling through a craggy area. They were on high alert, knowing that this was the location where the bandits tended to attack.

“Stay frosty, team,” Sir Reginald said. “This is where those bandits tend to attack the various merchants that need to cross through here. So be alert, as they could strike at any moment.”

Zeeker’s, Van’s, and Kettu’s ears were twitching to every sound they heard, trying to pinpoint where the bandits might be before they strike. Nina’s sharp eyes scanned the area, looking for any signs of the bandits. Angelo’s fingers were busy drumming his rapier’s handle, ready to strike when needed, while Nova’s fingers were twitching, ready to grab his bow at a moment’s notice. Suddenly, Van’s ears perked up and he looked in a certain direction.

“I can hear them breathing,” he said in a hushed voice. “They’re just behind that next turn. We need to flush them out before they can get the drop on us.”

Nina gained a smirk, “Leave that to me.”

She took flight and gently hovered near the turn. There she saw a large group of bandits waiting for them. She took a look around before noticing a large pile of rocks resting precariously on a ledge. She gained a devious smirk.

“Oh, this is perfect,” she said in a hushed tone. “Time to take these goons out with a bang. Or should I say a…” she started to channel energy into her rings, “Mini Boom!”

She fired the condensed energy sphere at the pile of rocks, destroying the ledge they were resting on and causing them to fall. She quickly got out of the way as the rocks of various sizes tumbled down toward the bandits. The bandits looked up to see the rocks coming their way and quickly scrambled to avoid being crushed. In the process they were forced to expose themselves, allowing the party to ambush them in their confusion. Before long all the bandits were tied up and thoroughly beaten, now at the party’s mercy.

“That was almost too easy,” Zeeker chuckled.

“Leave it to Nina to use her ability to fly to give us the advantage over goons like these,” Kettu smirked.

“You’ll pay for this!” the head bandit stated. “These ropes won’t hold us forever!”

Nova gained a devious expression, took out a Summoning Sticker, and placed it on the back of his right hand.

“Perhaps, but I know a way to ensure you lot don’t take advantage of that,” he said in a dark tone. “Elora, come forth!”

The Summoning Sticker glowed, followed by a summoning circle appearing, then a burst of smoke and fire, and before long Elora was standing next to Nova. The bandits and the merchant went wide eyed at the sight of the Gorgon Viper.

“I know the perfect way to ensure you boorish bandits stay quiet. Elora, barbeque time.”

Elora hissed, ignited her tail, and prepared to summon her hellfire.

“No!” the head bandit pleaded, “Spare our lives! We’ll give you anything, just please don’t kill us!”

Nova replied in a casual tone, “Okay, I’ll spare your lives.”

The bandits sighed in relief.

The pink-haired man then gained a devious gleam in his eyes, “However…”

A short time later the party and the merchant were at the bandit’s hideout. Nova, Kettu, and Zeeker were busy raiding the hideout while the bandits where still tied up and now sitting in a wagon attached to the merchant’s cart. Elora was keeping an eye on them, giving them a piercing glare with embers leaking out of her nostrils, making sure they didn’t pull anything.

Sir Reginald looked concerned, “We’re raiding the bandits? That seems a bit… dubious of us.”

The merchant laughed, “Your pink-haired friend is quite the cunning one. He’s treating these goons’ lives as merchandise, and they are willing to trade everything they have in exchange for not getting burned to ashes by his Gorgon Viper. He’s got the trader’s spirit, as he knows how to get things done.”

Van pondered, “It’s a bit underhanded of Nova to do something like this but at the same time it’ll keep these bandits from causing anymore trouble. And considering these items are stolen goods Nova is just taking back what was already stolen. Even though I’m a warrior who fights with honor even I can see that what Nova’s doing is actually a pretty smart move. He’s basically turning the bandit’s own tactics against them. They’ve threatened merchants to give up their stock in exchange for their lives so Nova’s just giving them a taste of their own medicine. Devious and rather underhanded for him, yes, but it is for the best. It’ll help everyone in the long run, as removing these bandits will free up the trade route.”

Nina gained a crooked smile, “Nova can be surprisingly dark at time. And yet I can completely agree with this. He simply turned the tables on these goons using their own tactics. After all, ‘turnabout is fair play’. It’s a tad concerning that he’d pull something like this, since I wouldn’t really expect it from such a nice guy like him, but I guess even he has a dark side.”

Angelo chuckled, “Perhaps, but at least it eliminates the whole bandit issue, which is more important than us raiding the bandits. The question is: what are we going to do with them?”

A moment later Nova, Kettu, and Zeeker emerged from the bandit’s hideout, smirking.

“Oh, I have plans, Angelo, don’t you worry,” Nova said in a rather devious tone. “At least we picked the place clean so we now have some interesting items to make use of. Now, as for this pack of lowlifes, we’ll cart them to the city. Elora and I will ensure they stay put until we get there. Once we get there I’m certain the head of the trader’s city will have some idea of what to do with them.”

The head bandit sputtered, “Y-You said you’d spare our lives in exchange for all our stolen goods!”

Nova’s face twisted into a rather dubious expression, “Oh, I know. I said I would spare your lives. That doesn’t mean I won’t let someone else do the deed of ending your lives instead. I’m certain the various merchants and the leader of the trader’s city would love to have a nice, long ‘chat’ with you lot. If you catch my drift.”

The bandits gained horrified expressions, realizing what Nova meant. Elora seemed to snicker at the thought of what her master was planning.

“That’s… surprisingly dark of you, Nova,” Sir Reginald said, clearly surprised.

“Hey, isn’t it our job to root out the filth and lowlifes in this world and dispose of it?” the pink-haired man replied in a casual tone. “Muu isn’t the only threat to the people here, after all. And you’re a knight, Sir Reginald. Isn’t dealing with people like this to get their comeuppance part of your job?”

“That… is true. It is a knight’s job to ensure that thugs and bandits don’t terrorize the general population. And it is a knight’s job to make sure the threat is eliminated permanently. I just didn’t expect such methods from you of all people.”

“Hey, what can I say? Everyone has a dark side to them. And since I’m stuck in this job of heroism until either Muu or I die I might as well do what I can to ensure that cretins like these guys don’t cause trouble for others. I’m certain the merchants will appreciate what I’m doing, and that’s what matters, right?”

Kettu chuckled, “I’m loving the way you think, Nova. You gotta tap into your darker and devious side more often, as I’m loving the results of it. But time for that later. Let’s cart this cargo to the city and have them dispose of it.”

The party nodded and they resumed their trek to the next city, carting the bandits with them. Elora and Nova kept a close eye on the bandits, clearly enjoying their fear. Before long they arrived at the trader’s city. It was full of various merchants and people bustling about, doing business and promoting sales. When the merchants saw the cart of bandits their eyes went wide and everyone quickly ran up to the party.

“You caught the bandits that have been terrorizing the trade route?!” one asked, stunned.

Nova replied nonchalantly, “Yep. Do you think you can fetch the lord or mayor or whoever is in charge of this place? I think he or she would like to have a few words with these goons.”

One soldier nodded and ran toward the largest building in the city. A short time later a young woman flanked by two guards walked up to them.

“I am Sabrina, leader of this city,” she said. She saw the bandits and smirked, “I see you dealt with our bandit problem. Thank you. We’ll take them off your hands and make sure they’re dealt with. Men, detach that cart and take those goons to jail. We’ll sort them out later.”

“Yes, ma’am!” the soldiers said.

They disconnected the cart that was trailing behind the merchant’s wagon and pulled it away, the bandits pleading for mercy as they were being taken away. The various merchants all cheered as they watched the bandits get dragged off to meet their fate.

Sabrina turned to the party, “Thank you for dealing with those thugs. They’ve been harassing that route for a good month or so. Now any merchants that come and go that route can breathe a sigh of relief knowing they won’t be ambushed anytime soon. You have my deepest thanks, as they were ruining the economy here. We’ll make sure they’re properly dealt with. I wonder…” she looked up at Elora, “Who has the Gorgon Viper? You don’t see this type of familiar too often. And she’s… surprisingly tame.”

Nova walked up, gently patting Elora on the neck, “This is my familiar. Her name is Elora and she’s bit of a rare case among Gorgon Vipers. Unlike others of her kind she’s calm, friendly, and unquestionably loyal. I can count on her for anything and she’s proven her worth time and time again. Couldn’t have asked for a better familiar.”

Elora looked proud, clearly enjoying the praise. She gently nuzzled up to Nova, who stroked her under the chin, making her even more happy.

“She’s certainly a rare case,” Sabrina said. “Not often we see Gorgon Vipers, much less ones this tame and friendly. Usually we see Fiend Eyes, Sniper Spiders, and Wood Dogs, so seeing one of the most powerful familiars in existence is a pretty rare treat. I thank you once again for dealing with those bandits. I’m not sure how you dealt with them but thanks to you we don’t have to worry about them anymore. Please, enjoy your stay here in my city. I’m certain the various merchants would be willing to offer you special rates on their goods for dealing with those thugs. Once again, thank you. Now, I have business to attend to, including sorting out the final fate of those bandits. Enjoy your stay.”

She then walked away, heading back to her mansion.

The merchant the party was traveling with handed over a bag of coins, saying, “Thank you for safely escorting me through that route and dealing with the bandits. Here’s your pay: 200 gold coins. Again, thank you for your help. Now I and my fellow merchants can travel that route safely without fear of having to barter for our lives. Now, it’s time for me to set up my cart and start doing business. Take care, my strangely assembled but fine friends.”

Sir Reginald took the bag of gold from the merchant. The merchant then gave the reins of his cart a shake, causing the firokoko to move onward, ready to set up his wares.

“Well, that was fun,” Kettu said. “What’s our next devious plan of action?”

“Kettu!” Sir Reginald snapped. “No more devious plans! Let’s focus on our main agenda: dealing with Muu’s forces. Now that we’ve cleaned up those bandits we need to start mapping out our next plan of attack against Muu.”

Nina looked at the various merchants doing business and said, “Why don’t we also check out the wares those merchants are selling. Maybe we can get some nice things like new equipment or other items. Also, Nova needs to restock on arrows as the previous town lacked archery-related equipment. After all, we’re in a rather famous trader’s city so we might as well check out what’s for sale. We won’t get another chance like this for at least a while so we might as well take advantage of it.”

Zeeker nodded, “Agreed. Plus maybe we could barter for some good prices on the stolen goods Nova has stashed away in his Digi-Pack. And we have monster parts to sell so we should also do that.”

“Very well, let’s see what we can find for sale,” Sir Reginald said.

The party started to roam the various merchants, checking out their prices and goods. They knew that with the bandit issue dealt with they had allowed countless people to breathe a sigh of relief.

Next Chapter: Warriors on Vacation

That's it for today. Hopefully Celtic's new skill will come in handy. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, male and female nudity)

Warriors on Vacation


It had been a few days since the party had dealt with the bandits that had been terrorizing the various traveling merchants. They were on their way to their next destination. Sir Reginald was in the lead, looking at the map and checking their position via the compass.

“Okay, we’re not far from the next settlement,” he said. “It was a good thing we stocked up on what we could while at that trader’s city, as they had a bevy of useful items and gear.”

Nina was admiring her new magical rings, “I’ll say. These Magician Rings are quite high quality. And we got new daggers for Kettu and a new rapier for Angelo, along with restocking Nova’s arrow supply. Plus the merchants were willing to give us discounts because we took care of their bandit problem, which made our hunt for new items even better. I’d say that was a very successful shopping trip.”

Angelo smiled, “Indeed, my lady. That was quite the good experience. We helped those merchants by getting rid of those bandits and got several nice items in the process. My new Holy Rapier will be an effective new tool to use against Muu’s forces. And Kettu got ahold of some rare Silver Daggers, which are also very effective against Undead and Spirit monsters. A good experience overall.”

Zeeker chuckled, “Yeah, we did good, both in shopping and getting rid of a persistent problem. I just hope those bandits weren’t connected to the Charlie Horse Brothers, as they won’t take kindly to us interfering with their ‘business’, as they would put it.”

Kettu nodded, “True, and that’s a hive we’d better not poke right now. But, either way, we did good. And we made a nice profit thanks to both selling monster parts like the Gargathox vertebrae and horns and Nova’s deviousness when we dealt with those bandits. Some of those items we looted from the bandits are quite valuable. Now we should be plenty stocked up for a while both in supplies and funds.”

Nina then noticed something, “Hang on, gang, I think I see something.” She flew up a bit further into the air to get a better look before squealing in delight, “Gang! I see a special Sacred Hot Spring just up ahead and to the left!”

Nova quirked an eyebrow, “Sacred Hot Spring? What’s that, other than it being a hot spring?”

Sir Reginald turned to him, “Sacred Hot Springs are filled with healing waters. They were created by the Goddess as a means of helping those who were injured during the Great War to rest and recover. They’re also protected by one of those Goddess Statues, thus preventing any hostile force from entering the area. They’re also called Champion Baths due to the fact that past Demon King champions often used them to help rest and recover while fighting Muu. They’re dotted about the world here and there and are considered top-quality hot springs.”

Nina hovered down, saying excitedly, “Can we go and take a dip? I’ve always wanted to try one of those Sacred Hot Springs. And we could use a rest. Especially Nova so he doesn’t overwork himself and crash again like he did when we met Chloe. Please?”

Nova chuckled, “You sound just like a little kid, Nina. To be honest, I, too, would like to try them out. I’ve never been in a hot spring before and if these waters have healing properties we could really benefit from it. And I am getting a bit worn down again since I’m still not used to all this traveling and fighting.”

Sir Reginald smiled, “I think we could all use a chance to rest and restore our strength. We deserve it. Very well, let’s go and take a relaxing dip in the Sacred Hot Springs. A little detour doesn’t hurt every now and then. Especially if it leads to a pampering and spa treatment. Let’s go.”

The party eagerly made their way to where the Sacred Hot Spring were. The Sacred Hot Spring was really just one large hot spring nestled in a crater with stone walls surrounding it, giving it plenty of privacy. The water was a milky white color but the party could feel its soothing energies even before getting in.

“So who should go first?” Kettu asked. “The guys or Nina, I mean.”

“We could settle it with a coin toss or Rock-Paper-Scissors?” Nova suggested.

Nina smiled, “I’ll let you men go first, since there’s more of you. I don’t mind waiting a bit. It’ll give me a chance to groom my wings first, as I’d rather not lose any feathers while bathing. I always have to groom my wings before bathing and that takes a bit so you guys go on ahead. I’ll jump in afterward.”

“Are you sure, Lady Nina?” Sir Reginald asked.

“It’s fine with me. Like I said, I need to groom my wings first anyway to avoid losing feathers while bathing so you go on ahead. It’ll make enjoying the hot spring even more pleasurable.”

“Sounds good to me!” Zeeker said cheerfully. “Let’s go, gang.”

A few minutes later the men were in the hot spring, all relaxing and enjoying the warm, soothing, healing waters.

“Ahh!” Kettu sighed happily. “This is the life. I never thought I’d get to bathe in a Sacred Hot Spring due to how hard to find they are.”

Van nodded, “Indeed. And this hot spring is deep enough for even me.”

Zeeker then noticed something, “Hey, wait a minute. Where’s Nova?”

Everyone looked around to see that Nova wasn’t part of the group.

“That’s funny…” Sir Reginald said. “Why isn’t he in the hot spring with us?”

Angelo chuckled, “That’s easy, my friend. Nova’s shy and insecure about himself and his body. He wants to join us but his insecurities make it hard for him. It’s clear to me that he’s been hurt and abused like Nina has, and I bet his body was one such target for said abuse, thus he’s very insecure about it. I suggest we let him do what he wants until he feels more confident about himself. After all, the scars of the past don’t fade very quickly.”

Van gave a sad smile, “I guess that’s the best course of action. Nova does have a lot of insecurities which only seem to feed his rock-bottom self-esteem. It’s probably for the best to let him come to us when he feels more confident about certain things. After all, he is something of an outsider so he probably doesn’t feel confident, or perhaps worthy, enough to join people like us. While we should give him a nudge it is probably better to let him make the first move when he’s got a higher feeling of self-worth.”

Meanwhile, Nova was sulking off to the side, hidden from view. He was curled up in a fetal position, his head resting on his knees, feeling quite miserable.

“What Angelo said is true…” he sighed. “I’m very shy and very insecure about my body. Especially thanks to those… mementos I got from bullies growing up. I know I need to break out of my shell and become one with the group but I just don’t have it in me yet. I feel too out-of-place and too insecure to join them. While I’m glad they’re willing to let me come to them when I build up some more self-worth I know it’s not the best thing to be this detached from my allies in this fight with Muu. I trust them, I really do, as they’re the first friends I’ve had in years, but I’m too insecure to open my heart just yet. Every time I have I’ve been betrayed and bullied; thus I’ve closed myself up to the world. And the fact that this world has such high expectations of me to defeat Muu is only making me feel worse. I know I need to emerge from my shell and finally stop living like a coward but I’m not quite there yet. I’ve been slowly making my way down that path but I’m not far enough yet to fully shake my shackles off. I need more time before I can truly open my heart again.”

After a while he heard the other male in the group exit the hot spring. Angelo then approached him, completely clothed.

“Okay, Nova, it’s you’re turn,” he said cheerfully. “Enjoy the water, as it feels great!”

Nova gave him a weak smile, “Thank you, Angelo, I will.”

A short time later Nova was in the hot spring alone. The water felt good on his body. His exposed torso and back revealed to be littered with various scars. As he soaked in the hot spring he eyed those scars with contemp.

“These scars are a painful reminder of what I had to endure growing up,” he growled. “They’re also a painful reminder of what I became because of them: a spineless coward. I was always a shy, quiet boy, but those thugs ruined my life, turning me into a pitiful man. I often wonder why anyone puts up with me?”

Suddenly, a soft voice said, “Nova?”

Nova’s eyes went wide in horror, realizing who the voice belonged to. He turned to see Nina in the bath with him, completely nude. His face turned bright red.

“N-N-Nina?!” he sputtered. “I d-didn’t realize you had j-joined me! L-Let me get out so y-you can enjoy the bath.”

However, Nina place both hands on his shoulders, forcing him down, stunning him.

“No, Nova, that’s not necessary,” she said in a gentle tone. “I don’t mind sharing the bath with you. To be honest, Angelo told me that you didn’t join the other men in the bath due to your shyness and insecurities. And…” she eyed the scars on his body, “I can see why. So I decided to join you and keep you company, as well as show you that you have people who care about you now. And, besides,” she gave a light giggle, “you’ve seen me naked so many times the novelty has probably worn off by now.”

Nova blushed, replying, “Believe me, Nina, no matter how many times I see you naked it’s always like a new experience to me. You’re just that beautiful. You’ve got a body that could put your Goddess to shame.”

She smiled warmly, gently embracing him from behind, her large breasts pushed up against his back, making him blush harder.

“That means a lot to me, Nova,” she purred, nuzzling against him. “You truly are the best thing to ever happen to me. I never met a man like you until I met you and it means the world to me. Compared to thugs like Dominic, Eoleo, and my fellow Phoenix Clan members, you are a breath of fresh air to me. I feel so comfortable and secure when you’re near me, like nothing can hurt me. There isn’t another soul I wouldn’t want to spend as much time with than you. You make me so happy. I wish there was some way I could repay you for all you’ve done for me.”

Nova swallowed his embarrassment before saying, “Nina, you’ve done a lot for me, too, you know. Because of you I finally found the motivation to stop living life as a spineless coward and actually take the needed steps to become something more. It’s slow progress, but like the Blitz family says, ‘Progress is progress, no matter how small’. You’ve done more for me than you realize and I’m grateful for it. I hope one day I can help you beat some sense into your stupid clan members and ensure you remain a free bird forever.”

Nina gently embraced him with her wings, saying softly, “I don’t know what I would’ve done without you, Nova. And hearing you say that fills my heart with joy. Looks like we’ve influenced each other more than we realize. You truly are the best, Nova, and I couldn’t have gotten this far without you. I’m glad to be by your side on this mission. It not only gives me hope but it makes me feel proud that I’m doing my part to end this 3,000+ year nightmare. You’re an unorthodox champion, that’s for sure, but you’ve proven effective regardless. And I’m glad I can help you any way I can.”

Nova, while clearly flustered by their closeness and intimacy, gently nuzzled the Phoenix Clan woman, allowing the two to enjoy each other’s company and the warmth of their embrace. They remained this way for a while, enjoying both the healing effects of the hot spring and the bond they shared.

“One day, Nina,” he said silently. “I will tell you how I truly feel. And I hope that this intimate embrace we’re in is a sign that you feel the same way. I just hope I’m enough of a man by then to be worthy of you.”

Next Chapter: Ghost Busting

That's it for today. Every good series needs a hot springs episode, right? Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild violence, language, suggestive sexual scenes)

Ghost Busting


It was a few days since the heroic party had bathed in the Sacred Hot Spring. They were at the next large town inside the inn. It was pouring rain out, trapping everyone inside.

Nina sighed, “I hate rain, especially when there’s nothing to do. Even a deck of cards would be enough to keep us busy for a bit.”

Kettu nodded, “Yeah, it’s kinda boring right now. Anyone got something that we can do on-hand?”

Zeeker turned to Nova, “Hey, Nova, do you think you have anything tucked away in that Digi-Pack of yours that might cure our boredom?”

Nova replied, “Worth a shot.” He put his Digi-Pack on the table they were sitting at and started to scroll through the inventory screen, “Hmm… so far I’m not finding anything, but there’s so much in this thing that I often forget what I’m lugging around in here. Hold on!” He tapped an option, causing a deck of cards to be ejected, “Paydirt. Here’s a deck of playing cards. We can make use of this.”

Sir Reginald smiled, “Thank you, Nova, for checking to see if you had anything on-hand in that strange Digi-Pack of yours. Now we have some form of entertainment until this rain passes.”

Nova placed the deck of cards in front of the gang, saying, “You all play, I’ve got bit of a personal project I want to work on. I’ll be back in my inn room for a bit so you lot go and enjoy yourselves.”

As he started to walk away Zeeker grinned, “Does it have anything to do with rosie palms, Nova?”

Nova gave him a cold look, “Nice try. I may be a perverted cowardly lion… which I’m ashamed of… but even I’m not that desperate. If you must know I learned a new non-combat skill recently and I’m putting it to the test. If it works out then it may give our party an edge on this trip. But this skill is in the rough stages so I need to be alone so I can try to hone it to a more desirable level. Like I said if it works out then our party might have an easier time dealing with our foes, among other reasons. I won’t say much more as I don’t want to get everyone excited in case I can’t get this new skill to work but if it does it could give us some advantages. See you in a bit.”

He then walked away and made his way back to the inn room.

Nina turned to the party, “What are ‘rosie palms’?”

Sir Reginald replied nervously, “You’re better off not knowing, Lady Nina. I do wonder what Nova is working on? If it is something that could help us in the long run then it would be best to let him try to get this new skill to flourish. Anyway, let’s make use of our time and play a few rounds of cards.”

Nina replied, “You’ll have to teach me some different card games, as the only game I know is Solitaire, thanks to being neglected and ignored growing up, thus leaving me with a lot of time to myself. Granted, I do know about Strip Poker but I don’t want to play it for obvious reasons.”

Van smiled, “Sure, Nina. Let’s start with something like Old Maid, as that’s pretty easy to learn.”

Meanwhile, Nova was using the desk that was in each inn room to work. Next to him were various crafting materials and tools, and in front of him was an unfinished project.

“Okay, time to get to work,” he said to himself. “If I can pull this off, not only will I have a new skill that can give our side an edge but also a nice gift for Nina. Hopefully by that point I’ll be ready to tell her how I feel. Now, time for work.”

He began working on the unfinished project. Slowly as the minutes ticked onward he continued honing his new skill. The item, which was looking like a bracelet, was steadily being refined into a new, more elegant form. After a while he leaned back in his chair to take a quick break.

“Whew… So far so good. Slowly but surely this special bracelet I’m making for Nina is coming along. That traveling accessory merchant really gave me a good leg-up in this craft, as not only could the magical nature of these items give us an advantage over Muu’s forces but they’ll be a great method to make some extra spending cash. I just hope I can get this skill honed to the point it can help us in the long run. Now, let me get back to work.”

He continued to work on the bracelet, trying his best to ensure it would turn out just right while still perfecting his craft. After a while his stomach began to growl.

“Heh, looks like it’s lunch time. Might as well pack it in for now and rejoin the gang for some lunch. I hope that deck of cards I gave them proved useful.”

He packed up his stuff, strapped his Digi-Pack back on, and made his way down to the dining hall where the rest of the party was. He arrived just as Nina won a game of Old Maid.

She turned as she saw Nova, “Hey, Nova! Thanks for the deck of cards, they’ve been a huge help curbing our boredom. How’s your project going?”

He smiled, “I’m glad that deck of cards was helpful. As for my project, it’s going pretty well. Still has a few rough edges here and there but overall it’s looking good. If I can pull this off then I can use this new skill to further aid our mission. But, for now, I’m getting hungry, so hopefully they’ll serve lunch soon.”

“Yes, the staff did say they’d be serving lunch soon so you came at the right time,” Angelo said cheerfully.

Kettu then gained an idea, “Hey, Nova, maybe you can use your ‘powers’ to make this rain go away?”

Zeeker quirked an eyebrow, “What do you mean? What ‘powers’ would Nova have that could change the weather?”

Nova chuckled lightly, “You want me to use my status as the universe’s chew toy to manipulate the weather? That’s a bold request, especially since you know I don’t like to tempt fate. But if it’ll stop the rain then maybe I’ll try it.”

Nina looked worried, “I hope it doesn’t result in you getting hurt, Nova, since, as you ‘demonstrated’ a while back, the universe really seems to have it out for you.”

Angelo asked, “What do you mean by that? Why would the universe be out to get Nova? What did Nova do to the universe that would make him a target?”

“Exist,” Nova replied bluntly. “But fine, I might as well see if I can still weaponize my pitiful status and change the weather.”

He started to head to the front door of the inn.

“This I gotta see,” Zeeker said.

The rest of the party followed him to the front of the inn. The woman at the counter was looking at them oddly as Nova opened the door and walked outside into the pouring rain.

“Here goes something,” the pink-haired man said. He took a deep breath before saying in a strong voice, “Boy, I hope it doesn’t become sunny and pleasant out.”

On cue the rain stopped, the clouds dispersed, and the sun came out, turning the day into a nice, pleasant one. Van, Zeeker, and Angelo’s jaws had dropped at what they just witnessed, along with the woman at the counter.

Nova turned around and shrugged, “Well, looks like it still works.”

“H-How’d you do that?!” the Beastman sputtered.

Van said, wide-eyed, “Maybe there is some truth to this whole ‘universe is out to get Nova’ thing if it was willing to change the weather almost upon command. I was a doubter before but seeing him literally change the weather with just one sentence makes me believe there really is some truth to it.”

Nova shrugged, “What can I say? The universe will stop at nothing to prove me wrong in one form or another. But, as you just saw, I’ve learned how to manipulate it to my advantage. But enough of that, I’m hungry. Let’s go eat.”

He walked back into the inn and started to make his way toward the dining room.

“Seriously, how’d you do that?” the woman at the inn’s counter asked.

“Can’t really explain it since even I don’t know the full context of why I’m the universe’s whipping boy but when the universe is out to get you stuff like that is possible. It’s a rare gift, one with no return receipt.”

Nina clenched her fists, saying, “I promise, Nova, one of these days I’ll rid you of your curse. Whatever it takes.”

He gave her a weak smile, “I appreciate it, Nina, but this is one curse no amount of magic will fix. The universe has made its decision and that’s how it’ll stay. Now, enough of this, let’s eat before something else happens.”

The party all exchanged concerned expressions before following Nova back into the dining area of the inn. They sat down at their table and ordered food, which arrived shortly afterward, allowing them to tuck in.

A maid then ran into the building, pleading, “Are there any warriors around!? Mayor McShane’s mansion is haunted!”

Everyone went silent as they heard this news.

Nova gained a grim expression, “Oh dear God, no. Don’t tell me we’re gonna deal with this…”

Sir Reginald walked up to the maid, asking, “Can you tell me some more about this? Is it Muu’s doing?”

The maid replied, “I-I don’t know. But during the night there are various disembodied voices floating around and strange phenomenon occurring. Everyone is scared stiff of what it could be. We don’t know if it’s Muu’s doing or not but either way Mayor McShane requests that something needs to be done about it before everyone runs away or the problem spreads to the rest of the town.”

“Leave it to us. We’re the Demon King’s champion party so it’s our job to remove all forms of Undead threats, be it Muu or not. First tell me your name so we can use you as a reference in case Mayor McShane asks.”

“Oh, yes. My name is Gloria. Thank you kind knight. I’ll let Mayor McShane know you’re coming to take care of this ghost problem. Please come to the mansion at dusk, as these apparitions seem to only come out at night. I’ll let the guards know you’re coming Mr. umm…”

“I’m Sir Reginald, General of the Galvatar Royal Knights. Leave it to me and my party. We’ll bust those ghosts.”

“Who you gonna call…?” Nova said bitterly.

Gloria smiled, “Thank you. I’ll let Mayor McShane know right away. See you at dusk.”

She quickly spirited away, eager to tell her boss the good news.

“Looks like we’ve got our next mission,” Nina sighed.

Van scratched his chin, “I wonder why these ghosts are showing up in the mayor’s mansion all of a sudden? Are they responding to Muu’s growing presence? Or is it a totally separate situation that just happened to appear at this time?”

“I’d rather not know…” Nova said bitterly.

Sir Reginald sat back down, “Either way, whether it’s Muu’s doing or not it’s our job to deal with such threats. Let’s finish our lunch and then start mapping out a plan, since we’re dealing with an unknown foe.”

“Joy…”

The party resumed eating, knowing they had another job on their hands. After they finished lunch then gathered into one of their rooms and began thinking up plans and strategies to deal with this new, unknown threat. After deciding on a strategy they went about their day, waiting for dusk. When the sun was starting to set they made their way to the mayor’s mansion.

A guard stationed at the front said, “You must be the ones who Gloria told me about.” He unlocked the front gate, “Please, go inside. We don’t know what we’re dealing with but whatever it is it’s making everyone tense. You’ll be doing us a favor by taking out whatever this threat is. They mayor also promised a reward of 100 gold for the extermination of these unusual specters.”

The party entered the mansion. They could see the various guards and maids looking relieved to see them, knowing that their plight would soon be behind them. As they entered the main building itself they were greeted by a rather rotund man in fancy clothes.

“So, you’re the ones who Gloria hired to deal with this ghost problem?” he asked.

Sir Reginald nodded, “That’s correct, sir.”

“An interesting assortment of characters, to put it simply. But, nevertheless, I am Mayor Trump McShane. If you can rid my home of these ghosts or whatever I will reward you for your efforts. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to retreat to my room so I don’t have to deal with these ghosts. I’ll leave the rest to you. Ta-ta!”

He quickly darted off, heading to his bedchambers so he could avoid any of the conflict that was about to unfold.

“He certainly beat a quick retreat,” Zeeker said.

Kettu’s eyes narrowed, “Yeah. And I’ve got a gut feeling that he’s not to be trusted. Something seems off about him.”

Van nodded, “I agree, Kettu. There’s something about him that raises a few red flags. Like he’s part of something bigger.”

Nova grumbled, “Maybe the ghosts are his ancestors taking revenge on him for some sort of underhanded deeds he’s committing. For all we know he could even be in league with someone like the Charlie Horse Brothers or whatnot. But like you said I, too, feel he’s not trustworthy and that there’s more to this ghost busting than meets the eye.”

“Perhaps, but let’s first deal with said ghosts,” Sir Reginald declared. “Afterward we’ll figure out what’s going on.”

A ghastly voice then spoke, “We’d like to see you try and defeat us, mortals.”

Another said, “Yeah, let’s see you try. We’ve got an important mission to attend to and we won’t let you get in our way.”

Everyone got into a battle-ready pose.

“Show yourself!” Sir Reginald demanded.

Two will-o-wisps appeared before taking a new form. Both were round heads flanked by three large, spiked protrusions on either side. They had triangular eyes with glowing pupils and a mouth with a several pointed teeth. Disembodied hands with four clawed fingers each floated in front of their bodies with tapers into a jagged tail. The only difference between them were the colors: one was light blue with green eyes while the other was pale pink with orange eyes.

“I am Clarence McShane!” one said.

“And I’m Tony McShane!” the other said.

Nova gained an annoyed look, “So, in other words, you’re the current McShane’s ancestors, correct?”

“That’s right!” said the ghost of Clarence McShane. “And we’ve got an important mission. One that you cannot get involved with. If you try to stop us we’ll send you to your graves!”

“Did I somehow end up in one of my favorite video games because this scenario is very familiar to me,” the pink-haired man said dryly.

Sir Reginald drew his sword, stating, “Whatever you have planned we’ll stop you!”

“Fools!” the ghost of Tony McShane stated. “There are far more devious things going on here. If you insist on getting in our way then prepare to die!”

Both ghosts lunged at the party, forcing them to scatter. Sir Reginald lashed out his sword, striking the ghost of Tony McShane, making him screech in agony. Angelo then stabbed the ghost of Clarence McShane with his rapier, causing him to howl.

Kettu smirked, “Looks like our recent upgrades are paying off. Have a taste of my Silver Daggers!”

He launched two swift slashes at the ghost of Tony McShane, leaving noticeable gashes on his ghostly form, causing his body to start fluctuating.

“How dare you use Holy weapons against us!” the ghost of Clarence McShane snarled.

“Hey, when you’re in the business of smiting Undead you need to prepare for it,” Nova said nonchalantly. “Demon Mode!”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Demon Mode.

“Angel!”

He charged up energy before firing it, causing the angelic being to appear and release Holy energy at Clarence McShane. He writhed in pain, screaming before his body shattered, leaving nothing behind.

“Grandfather!” the ghost of Tony McShane sputtered.

“Pay attention!” Sir Reginal snapped.

Before he could respond Sir Reginald sliced the ghost of Tony McShane in half with his Zombieslayer, causing his ghostly body to shatter and vanish. This vacuum allowed the party a chance to catch their breath.

“So we’re dealing with the current McShane’s ancestors?” Nina pondered. “I wonder why they’re all of a sudden attacking? Does this mean our theory about the current McShane is right? That he’s got some sort of hidden motive or is doing certain deeds that his ancestors aren’t agreeing with?”

Van replied, “Maybe. But, even if that’s the case, we cannot ignore this issue, as it could come back to cause more problems if left unchecked. Maybe as we go along and deal with these ghastly ancestors we might uncover the truth while we’re at it. For now, let’s continue searching the mansion for more of these aggressive astral ancestors.”

“Joy…” Nova said bitterly.

Sir Reginald sheathed his sword, “Let’s keep searching, as I doubt we’ve seen the last of these goons. We’ll look more into their ‘motives’ as we go along, since something is clearly not right.”

Kettu said, “For once I agree with you. There is clearly something lurking behind the curtains of this Trump McShane guy. Something that makes me uneasy. Let’s keep moving and see what we can dig up while we deal with this ghost issue.”

The party nodded and continued to search the mansion. As they did they ran into one ghostly McShane ancestor after another, all of whom were ranting about the same thing. The party was beginning to get very suspicious of what was going on, but they pressed onward, dealing with more vengeful spirits as they did. After a while the last one seemed to be slain, allowing the party to take a moment to think.

“Something is definitely off here,” Angelo said. “All these vengeful ancestors seem to know that the current McShane is up to something evil.”

Kettu had his arms crossed, replying, “Yeah. The more I think about it the more I feel there is something going on behind the scenes.”

A timid voice then said, “T-That’s true, noble warriors.”

Everyone turned to see a teenage boy emerge from the shadows. He looked like a younger and more handsome and fit version of Trump McShane.

“Who are you?” Zeeker asked.

“I’m Kelvin McShane. The man who hired you to fight these ghosts is my father. You’re right to be suspicious of my father, as he’s been dealing with some dark customers for the past few months. I don’t know who, as I’ve made sure to not be detected but they seem like pretty rough people. I worry that father is working with criminals or something. He does have a cruel streak and he’s very greedy. He taxes the town to such a ridiculous degree that it seems to be more than just simple taxation. Maybe the reason why the ghosts of our ancestors are attacking is because of what my father is doing with those shady men that he’s been talkin to for a few months now.”

Sir Reginald stroke his chin, “So… Trump McShane is dealing with some rather shady, rough characters, huh? Looks like we’ll have to confront him about this, as we cannot allow it to continue, especially if it means dealing with groups like the Syn Syndicate or something similar. I think it’s time we had a little chat with McShane about this.”

Kelvin replied, “Please, be careful, as who knows what will happen if father decides to sic whoever he’s working with after you. He should be in his bedchambers, probably having ‘fun’ with another vixen of his. Ever since mother died he’s been bringing in various call girls and such so it wouldn’t surprise me if he’s got another one up there while he lets you deal with this issue. Just be careful, as I’d hate to see you all get hurt because father has some connections with a criminal underground or something.”

“Now I’m really getting déjà vu,” Nova said. “This feels just like the McNeil scenario in Breath of Fire 3, only this time the ghosts are actually on our side and are here to punish the current ‘ruler’ of the mansion due to his misdeeds. Even their last names are similar. I think it’s time we went to McShane and got some information, since there is clearly more going on here than he’d rather admit.”

Nina crossed her arms, “I’m not looking forward to seeing that fat goon with a call girl if he has one up there. But let’s get this over with and find out what’s really going on here.”

Nodding, the party made their way to Trump McShane’s bedchambers. They could hear what sounded like him flirting with a call girl, making them all groan.

“Figures he’d be having ‘fun’ while we deal with the ghosts,” Nova said bitterly.

Sir Reginald growled, “I think it’s time we stopped his ‘fun’ and got some answers out of him. Ready team?”

Everyone nodded. Sir Reginald then gestured to Van to deal with the locked door. The Centaur nodded, turned around, and kicked the door open with both hind legs, startling McShane and revealing the call girl that was with him.

“What’s the big idea?!” he spat.

Sir Reginald walked up to him menacingly, stating, “We want answers from you, McShane! Your son reported to us that you’re dealing with some rough customers and we demand you spill your guts before we do it for you!”

McShane became nervous, “W-W-What do you mean? I-I’m not dealing with any rough customers! Honest!”

Kettu then noticed something and said, “Hey, Nina, think you can fly up to that bookshelf and take down that black chest on top of it. I see a certain symbol on it that isn’t a good one.”

Nina nodded and flew up to a bookshelf where a black chest was sitting. McShane tried to grab her plumes to stop her but Nova got in between them and pointed his bow and arrow directly at his face, making him freeze in place. Nina grabbed the chest, took one look at it, and her eyes widened in horror.

“Gang, take a look at this,” she growled.

She showed the chest, revealing a symbol on it. It was a blood-soaked dagger with two large “S” behind it. Everyone glared hatefully at McShane.

“So, you ARE dealing with the Syn Syndicate!” Sir Reginald snarled. “That’s why your ancestors were haunting this mansion: they wanted to stop you from continuing to deal with a criminal organization! You’re dealing with very dangerous people, McShane! As a knight I cannot allow this to continue! By the power invested in me, I hereby put you under arrest!”

Trump McShane snapped, “Over your dead body! When the Charlie Horse Brothers hear this they’ll have your heads on platters and I’ll be laughing at you!”

Nova then gained an idea, his face twisting into a devious smirk, “Is that so? I hope your pants don’t catch on fire.”

On cue McShane’s pants caught on fire, causing him to run around screaming, begging to be put out.

“Hey, Angelo, mind bursting his bubble butt?”

Angelo grinned, “Sure thing, my fine friend.” He started to channel energy before saying, “Bubble Burst!”

He fired several magical water bubbles at McShane. They exploded upon contact, dazing him and putting out the fire, revealing his underwear. Nina quickly covered her eyes, dropping the chest in the process, revealing its contents unintentionally. Kettu examined the contents of the chest before turning to Sir Reginald.

“Hey, Reggie, all this stuff in the chest is standard equipment for those dealing with the Syn Syndicate. A crystal ball to communicate with the remaining groups, various weapons and poisons, the usual stuff. This is enough proof to ensure McShane goes to jail.”

McShane charged for the crystal ball, stating, “I WON’T BE BEATEN!!!”

Nova then said in a devious tone, “I sure hope no beartrap appears and snaps McShane’s crotch.”

A beartrap appeared out of nowhere and snapped just as McShane was over it, trapping his crotch and his inner thighs in it, making him scream in pain and preventing him from moving any closer to the dropped chest.

“It would be a real shame if McShane were to be tied up in barbed wire,” the pink-haired man sneered.

Barbed wire appeared out of nowhere and entangled McShane while he was still being gripped by the beartrap, completely preventing him from moving.

Zeeker turned to Nova, “How’d you do that?”

The pink-haired man replied in a rather depressed tone, “This trip taught me how to weaponize my pitiful fate as the universe’s butt-monkey. It’ll stop at nothing to prove me wrong so I’ve learned how to turn that into my advantage. Not something I’m proud of but it has proven useful, even if it only further proves just how much the universe is out to get me. As they say, ‘When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade’, and my life is full of lemons. Really, you all are the best thing to happen to me in a very long time, which says a lot about how pitiful my life is.”

McShane spat, “Then you should remain pitiful!”

Nova replied calmly, “I hope no mousetrap with sharp edges suddenly appears and snaps McShane’s mouth shut.”

A mousetrap with jagged teeth appeared out of nowhere and snapped shut on McShane’s lips, sealing his mouth, causing him to give a muffled screen from behind his closed lips.

“I may live a rather pitiful existence but at least I wouldn’t stoop to levels like you and other people I know have. I at least have standards and morals, even if the universe is out to get me I make the most of it with resigned acceptance.”

Nina said silently, “And I intend to end your suffering once and for all, Nova. I don’t know how, I don’t know when, but I WILL find a way to free you from your curse so you can live a better life. Whatever it takes.”

Sir Reginald then said, “Either way, your ability to weaponize tempting fate came in handy today. Now, let’s deal with McShane and be done with this whole ordeal.”

Suddenly, the ghosts of the past McShanes appeared, startling everyone.

One said, “Do not worry. We’re not here to fight. In fact, we’re here to thank you for uncovering the truth. While we intended to do the same you did it better than we could. We thank you. Hopefully this pathetic excuse for a McShane gets his just desserts while his son, Kelvin McShane, can take the reins and allow our family name to not be tarnished by his father. Now we can rest in peace. Farewell, noble warriors.”

The various will-o-wisps flew up into the sky and vanished, leaving everyone behind.

Sir Reginald said, “Well, with that finally over we can cart this criminal to jail. Bring all the stuff in that chest so we can use it as proof. Nova… think you can remove that beartrap now so we can drag this fat bastard to where he rightfully belongs?”

Nova replied, “I hope that beartrap clutching McShane’s crotch doesn’t crumble away to nothingness.”

The beartrap instantly rusted before turning to dust, freeing McShane from its painful embrace. Sir Reginald then grabbed the back of Trump McShane’s collar and started to walk him out of the mansion. Kettu gathered up all the stuff from the Syn Syndicate chest, put it back into the chest, and carried it out. The rest of the party followed while the McShane staff looked on with disgust as they saw their former boss being dragged out of his home to pay for his crimes.

Dawn eventually broke. News spread quickly about what really happened at the McShane mansion. The townsfolk were both in shock and enraged at what Trump McShane was doing behind their backs. The local guards threw the still-trapped McShane into a jail cart and took him away to the nearest prison, taking the box with the stuff from the Syn Syndicate with them. The town was praising the heroes for their work in not only stopping the ghosts but also exposing Trump McShane’s crimes and dealings with a criminal organization.

Back at the inn Nova flopped face-down on his bed, clearly exhausted from the previous night’s events.

Nina said soothingly, “You must be exhausted, Nova. You not only had to deal with ghosts that were finally not associated with Muu but you had to help expose a real criminal threat. The town is singing our praises for revealing those underhanded, behind-the-scenes schemes. You should be proud of yourself for taking part in potentially preventing a long-term problem for this town. Hopefully Kelvin McShane will ensure that the town is better taken care of in place of his father, even if he’s only about 14 or so.”

Nova sighed, “Perhaps, but I’m also worried about what it might do to us. We finally poked the, as you call it, vespabee hive that is the Syn Syndicate, which means these Charlie Horse Brothers may soon be upon us. And I’m not looking forward to that, especially since they may target you specifically, Nina. Remember our chat not too long ago? Those Charlie Horse Brothers may very well go after you for both the reward your kingdom is offering and for your Magic Fire Feathers. That’s what I’m most concerned about.”

Nina smiled, “I know, and I appreciate you saying that. It really makes me happy knowing I have you backing me up, wanting what’s best for me. You’re a true friend, Nova. While I, too, am worried about the Charlie Horse Brothers, as they’re as nasty and cruel as they come, I know we can deal with them. We’ve gotten through a lot together so I know we can do the same thing here. It won’t be easy but I know if we stand strong together we can overcome those galloping goons.”

“I wish I could be so sure. I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I just hope we’re not biting off more than we can chew right now.”

Meanwhile, in a hidden locations, two shadowy figures were receiving a report from what looked like a common thug.

“I see,” one crisp voice said. “So Trump McShane’s gig has been exposed by the very same group that’s going after Muu? Interesting.”

The other voice, which sounded more eager and a bit dumber, asked, “What should we do, brother? We cannot let this slide.”

“Oh, I know, dear brother. With this information I already have plans cooking up. And our first target will be the little renegade princess of the Phoenix Clan. They’ll be soon entering our territory… and when they do… we’ll strike!”

Next Chapter: Shadows of Syn

That's all for today. Looks like the heroes will have to deal with some rough customers soon. Tune in next time to see what happens.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter in Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains violence, mild language)

Shadows of Syn


It had been a few days since the heroic party had exposed Mayor Trump McShane and his dealings with the remainder of the Syn Syndicate. The party was back on the road. It was nighttime, the three moons were high in the sky, all of them crescent and strangely colored red. The party was sound asleep except for one.

Nova was working by the fire, continuing his attempt to craft a bracelet for Nina. It was significantly more complete now, looking like it only needed a few more finishing touches before it would be ready. Nova looked it over, getting a feel for it, smiling lightly. He then gently crept into the tent where the rest of the party was sleeping and tiptoed toward Nina. She was fast asleep, her frame rising and falling with each breath. Nova gingerly grabbed one of her arms and measured the bracelet against it, trying to get a general feel if it would fit or not.

“Good,” he said silently. “A near perfect fit. It’ll be a tad loose but that way it won’t constrict her blood vessels or wrist, granting her freedom of movement. It’s nearly finished, too. Just another few hours of work to go and it should be ready. I’d better pack it in for the night, though, as it’s getting late. Plus Sir Reginald loves waking us up at sunrise, which is roughly 6 AM here so that’s always annoying, and I’m not a morning person.”

He gently put Nina’s arm down, trying his hardest to not wake her, before creeping out back to where his tools and materials were. He quickly and silently packed them into his Digi-Pack and snuck back into the tent, slipping into his sleeping bag. He took one last look at the party, smiling lightly.

“I’m surprisingly stealthy,” he chuckled mentally. “Even with Van, Kettu, and Zeeker having beast-like ears with matching hearing I haven’t cause any of them to stir with my late night work. Good, as I don’t want to disturb them. I just hope we don’t run into the remainder of the Syn Syndicate soon. Oops, better not say that as it could be tempting fate. Enough of that, time for bed.”

He quickly fell asleep, doing his best to rest up as much as possible before Sir Reginald gave the sunrise wake-up call.

The following morning arrived. After a nice breakfast the party continued to make their way toward their next destination.

Sir Reginald looked at the map, saying, “Okay, as of yesterday we crossed into the Kingdom of Luvar, so we’re now in their territory.”

Nova quirked an eyebrow, “Really? And there was no checkpoint or anything?”

Angelo smiled, “Not all kingdoms have checkpoints, my friend. Only certain major ones tend to have checkpoints, so we don’t always need passports in order to cross into other kingdom territories. Besides, Aquatica is a rather small kingdom so we didn’t feel the need to create a checkpoint outside of the one heading into Galvatar, and that was more of Galvatar’s doing anyway. So in many cases we can easily cross into another kingdom without even knowing it. Though Sir Reginald does need that special passport he got, as the rule about knights not crossing kingdom borders unless needed is still in play.”

“Huh. I see. Interesting.”

Kettu said, “We should be careful right now, folks, as after dealing with McShane I’ve got a pretty good hunch that we’ll be dealing with the Charlie Horse Brothers soon. As I said before Claymore and Galvin are tough nuts to crack and will resort to whatever method they can to get their way. There’s a reason why the Syn Syndicate’s logo is a blood-soaked knife, so that should give you a pretty good idea of what lengths they’ll go to. Even a thief like me wants nothing to do with that group of underhanded thugs, be it join them or fight them, as they can be pretty ruthless in their ways.”

Nina nodded, “True, as we did poke the vespabee hive when we dealt with McShane. It’s only a matter of time before they strike.”

Zeeker turned to her, “You in particular should be careful, Nina, as you could easily become their golden goose due to both the reward your family is offering for your return and your Magic Fire Feathers.”

“I know, don’t worry. As long as I have you all things should be okay. We can get through it together one way or another. For now, let’s focus on the task ahead. And we still have yet to find your friend Kathy for more dirt on Muu.”

Zeeker replied, “Yeah, and I know where she is now. She’s in this kingdom. I learned that back at McShane’s village. So let’s hope we can catch up to her before she scurries off into another kingdom.”

The party continued on their way. Little did they know that they were being watched.

A short time later two mysterious figures were looking in a crystal ball, smiling.

“Good, very good,” one said. “Our prey is nearly in position. The men aren’t a bother so make sure to focus on the Phoenix princess first. You can do what you want with the rest of the party. This’ll show ‘em for capturing one of our own. And the lovely princess will make for a fine golden goose.”

The other nodded, “Yeah, you said it, brother. We’re gonna be stinking rich thanks to her. Then Syn Syndicate will be able to revive and become the force it once was again.”

“Indeed, my younger brother. Men, move into position now. Don’t harm the Phoenix princess, only capture her. The rest you can do as you please.” After deactivating the crystal ball he smirked, “Very soon everything will fall into place and Syn Syndicate will rise again. Even Muu will tremble in fear at us.”

A short time later the party had stopped near a river to take a break and have a drink.

Nova was refilling his canteen, asking, “Hey, gang, do you get the feeling we’re being watched? I feel like we’ve had some rather sinister eyes on our backs for a bit now. Do you feel the same?”

Kettu nodded, “Yeah, I do. I think our unwanted ‘friends’ in the form of the Syn Syndicate may make their move soon. We’d best be ready for them, as, like I said earlier, they can be pretty ruthless in their methods.”

Van’s ears were twitching, saying, “I’m trying to see if I can detect our unwanted ‘friends’ before they ambush us. Given the terrain, where it’s pretty rocky with minimal trees, it’ll be hard for them to sneak up without disrupting the gravel around us. Hopefully we can detect them before they get too close.” Suddenly his ears became erect, “Scratch that, I just heard the crunching of gravel. Get ready, team, as our ‘friends’ in the underground are about to make their move.”

The party quickly took a battle-ready pose, keeping their eyes and ears open for any signs of threats. Van then directed his attention toward a craggy area and primed his spear.

“Meteor Throw!”

He threw the now supercharged spear at the craggy area. The spear blew up the rocks surrounding it, revealing a pack of goons before the spear returned to its master. The goons were surprised that they had been detected.

Sir Reginald snarled, “You won’t be getting the drop on us, Syn Syndicate! Team, gut them like fish!”

The party charged toward the pack of thugs, much to their alarm.

“Q-Quickly!” one said. “Throw the smoke bombs!”

The thugs quickly threw smoke bombs, concealing the area in dense smoke, stopping the party.

“Nina!” Nova instructed. “Blow this smoke away! Quickly!”

“Right! I’m—” but her voice was cut off, alarming the party.

Nova pointed the Demon King Ring at the smoke, “Demon Mode!”

The Demon King Ring adjusted, now on Demon Mode.

“Typhoon!”

A massive windstorm whipped up, swallowing up the smoke, allowing the party to see the surrounding area. Only a few bandits were left but Nina was no where to be found. The party glared venomously at the remaining bandits.

“Time for you to spill where you took Nina!” the pink-haired man snarled.

The thugs, although surprised at the turn of events, steeled their nerves and glared right back at the party.

“That’s for us to know and for you to never find out!” one said.

He grabbed another smoke bomb and threw it down, creating one last burst of smoke to conceal them.

“Razor Wind!” Nova stated.

The Demon King Ring glowed and fired sharp sickles of wind, blowing the smoke away. The rest of the underhanded thugs were gone.

“Now what do we do?” Angelo asked, concerned. “How will we be able to find our fine Phoenix girl?”

Nova took out a Summoning Sticker, saying, “I’ve got an idea.” He placed it on the back of his right hand before stating, “Elora, come forth!”

The Summoning Sticker glowed, followed by a summoning circle appearing, then a burst of smoke and fire and before long Elora was standing next to Nova.

“Elora, do you have a sensory organ that allows you to see heat signatures like pit vipers?”

Elora was surprised at the question but nodded.

“Good. We need you to use that to track where a bunch of thugs working with the Charlie Horse Brothers took Nina.”

Elora’s eyes widened in surprise, taking a quick look to see that Nina was indeed missing. She narrowed her eyes and nodded at her master’s request. She looked around, her eyes glowing, before giving a hiss and started to make her way in a certain direction.

“Let’s go!”

The party quickly followed Elora as she guided them toward the location where the Syn Syndicate had taken Nina.

“Hang tight, Nina,” Nova said silently. “We’re on our way, so please, don’t die.”

Meanwhile, a bunch of thugs were carrying a sack that was struggling, smirking. They eventually came to a large, open area inside a cave where two figures were waiting. Just then the sack burst into flames, forcing them to drop it and Nina quickly emerged from it. She got into a battle-ready pose, glaring at the thugs.

“You’ll pay for that!” she snarled, priming her magic.

A voice then said, “Now, now, Princess, no need to get so ruffled. We just want to talk.”

Nina turned to see the two shadowy figures emerge. They were both anthropomorphic horses similar to Beastmen wearing pants, fingerless gloves, and vests with no shirt. Both looked the same in terms of physical appearance, the only difference being their colors: one was a brownish orange with tiger stripes while the other was whitish with zebra stripes. Both had stiff manes on their heads, flowing horse tails, large hooves for feet, and were quite muscular.

“So you’re the infamous Charlie Horse Brothers?” Nina snarled.

The tiger-striped one nodded, “Indeed, Princess Nina. I’m Claymore and this is my younger brother Galvin. No need to be so hostile, Princess, as we’re not going to hurt you. We just want your ‘assistance’, that’s all.”

Nina got into a defensive pose, stating, “I know exactly why you want me. You want to milk both the reward my parents are offering for me along with my Magic Fire Feathers so you can use the money to rebuild Syn Syndicate. Am I right?”

Claymore chuckled, “You’re pretty sharp, Princess. So why don’t you make this easy for all of us and just accept it.”

“NEVER!”

Galvin said, “She’s getting mighty uppity, brother. We’d best knock her out now so we can get what we want. Bring her to us!”

The thugs grabbed Nina but she resisted.

“Not on your life!” she spat. “Teleport!”

She suddenly vanished in a flash of light, startling everyone.

“Where’d she go?” one thug asked.

Suddenly, they all heard a whistle. The turned to see Nina hovering out of reach in the cavern.

“You won’t turn me into your golden goose,” she spat. “Mana Daggers!”

She summoned several magical daggers. With a wave of her hand she fired them at the lowly goons. The daggers struck the underlings in the chest, piercing their hearts, causing them to drop dead instantly, leaving only Claymore and Galvin.

“H-How’d she do that so easily!?” Galvin sputtered.

“She’s a fighter, to put it simply,” Claymore replied. “No wonder she’s done so much damage to Muu’s army. We need to restrain her pronto!”

“Over your dead bodies!” Nina growled. “Mind Swords!”

Several large swords made of magical energy appeared around her, startling the Charlie Horse Brothers. She glared at them before firing the magical swords at them. The swords pierced their bodies in various places, including their heads and chest, causing them to slump down onto the ground. Nina cautiously floated back down to the ground, keeping her eyes and ears open for any threats. Suddenly, she heard something.

“Nina!” a familiar voice called.

Nina smiled, saying silently, “Nova… you came for me. I can count on you for anything, can’t I?”

The rest of the party and Elora appeared from a cavern. They came to a screeching halt as they saw what Nina had done, eyes wide.

“And here we were worried about you but you were just having a nice picnic with some new friends,” Nova mocked playfully.

Nina giggled, “I guess you could say it was a date to die for. Still, I’m so happy to see all of you. Those goons took me by surprise but I dealt with them. However, I’m really glad you all came to my rescue. It makes me so happy that I can count on you all for pretty much anything.”

Kettu eyed the Charlie Horse Brothers before going pale, “Uh, gang, we’re not quite done with the Charlie Horse Brothers!”

Everyone turned to see that both brothers were still alive. They held hands and glared at the party.

“You’re all dead!” Galvin stated.

Both were engulfed in a sphere of light. The light became larger and before long it took shape. When the light subsided the party was now staring down a massive threat.

The form was a cross between both Charlie Horse Brothers. It was a two-headed giant version of them, with one head clearly being Claymore’s while the other was Galvin’s. Their body color had changed to a dark brown with white stripes, massive hooves for feet, twin metal manes, a large horse tail, two pairs of glowing eyes, and drill-like horns on their heads.

“Stallion Fusion!” both said in unison. “No one has ever faced this form and lived to tell the tale. When we kill the rest of you we’ll milk the Princess for all she’s worth! No one crosses the Charlie Horse Brothers and lives! No one!”

Nova said, “They look like a two-headed and more advanced version of Stallion from Breath of Fire 3. Which, coincidentally, was a fusion of two horse-like brothers. Did I somehow end up in a Breath of Fire 3 expy of a world when I got isekai’d? Or is this all just a coincidence?”

Van readied his spear, stating, “Time for that later, Nova, as we’ve got a fight on our hands!”

The fused Charlie Horse Brothers barreled toward the party, forcing them to scatter. Nova primed an arrow and took aim.

“Ifrit Mode!” he stated.

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Ifrit Mode.

“Petrify Shot!”

He fired the arrow at one of the legs of the massive fusion form. The arrow struck the right leg, making the Charlie Horse Brothers howl in pain before a portion of their leg turned to stone.

“How dare you!” the two brothers roared in unison. They summoned a sphere of energy, “Eat this, pinkie pie! Stallion Bomb!”

They threw the energy sphere at Nova, who quickly performed a dodge roll to avoid the attack. The bomb-like energy struck part of the cavern, exploding, leaving a sizable crater in the ground. The fusion form tried to move toward Nova but his petrified leg slowed him down, allowing Nova to get out of the way again. Elora, now angry, lashed out her flaming tail blade, slashing the fusion with her cursed flames, leaving a sizable gash on his body that seemed to continue to burn due to the hellfire. Her eyes then gleamed, causing the entire lower body of the Charlie Horse Brother’s fusion form to become stone, trapping them in place.

“How dare you!” the fusion form spat.

Nina summoned more magical energy, “Have another helping of my Mind Swords!”

She summoned more magical swords and fired them at the fused Charlie Horse Brothers. The swords impaled the fusion form in various places but it was not enough to kill him.

Angelo started to channel energy into his rapier, stating, “Time to put the freeze on you. Ice Sword!”

He slashed the fusion form in the back, causing ice to form around the wound, making the fusion form howl.

Zeeker’s claw weapons began glowing, “Have a taste of this, you lowly thugs! Falcon Claw!”

He lunged at the fusion form and started to rapidly slash the Galvin head, making him scream in agony. Zeeker quickly ran out of range of a retaliation while the Galvin head nursed the claw marks on his face.

“That hurt, hyena boy!” the Galvin head spat.

“Aw, poor baby,” the Beastman taunted.

Kettu ran up to the fusion form, his daggers glow.

“Have a taste of my Thorn Stab!” he stated.

He stabbed the fusion form in the stomach with both daggers, making the two heads of the Charlie Horse Brothers yelp in pain. He quickly retreated from their retaliation. The wound then spouted thorny vines that ensnared the fusion form, trapping it even further.

Nova turned to Elora, “Elora, finish the job with your Gorgon Glare!”

Elora nodded and faced the struggling fusion form. Her eyes gleamed and the rest of the fusion form’s body turned to stone, much to their horror. Before long the Charlie Horse Brothers were merely a giant statue in the middle of the cavern.

“We should destroy them while they’re in their petrified state,” Sir Reginald said. “That way we can ensure that they’re gone for good.”

Nova nodded, “Right, good idea. I propose a combo skill, since that packs a bigger punch than regular skills. I would suggest using Thundervolt to smash them to bits but since you mentioned he doesn’t like small, enclosed spaces like caves we should probably spare him that torment. I suggest my Dragon Strike and Van’s Meteor Throw.”

Van nodded, “I like the sound of that. Let’s do it.”

Both took position in front of the petrified Charlie Horse Brothers and primed their weapons.

“Dragon Strike!”

“Meteor Throw!”

Both launched their attacks. The attacks combined into one massive skill that rocketed toward the defenseless target. The combo skill detonated upon impact with the fusion form’s stone body, causing it to explode, chunks flying everywhere. When the dust settled only the hooves of the fusion form were still intact while the rest of the body was scattered around in chunks, ultimately ending the threat of the Charlie Horse Brothers.

Sir Reginald sheathed his sword, saying, “We did it, folks. We eliminated the Charlie Horse Brothers. They won’t be causing anyone any more problems. While there are still a few stragglers from the Syn Syndicate out there without the Charlie Horse Brothers pulling the strings and keeping the group together there isn’t much they can do now. We’ll probably run into the remaining members eventually, as they may try to avenge the Charlie Horse Brothers, but their bite is significantly weaker than those two horsemen. We should be able to handle them easily enough compared to these two. As for that combo let’s call it Meteor Strike.”

Nova walked over to Nina, saying, “Nina, are you okay? They didn’t hurt you or anything, did they?”

Nina replied warmly, “Other than stuffing me in a sack I’m pretty much unscathed. Thank you all for coming to my rescue. I was able to handle them easily enough but I doubt I could’ve dealt with the Charlie Horse Brother’s fusion form, so thank you. But how did you find me?”

Angelo replied with a smile, “Elora is the one who found you. Turns out Gorgon Vipers possess the same sensory organ that pit vipers have, thus she can see heat signatures. She used those to track you.”

Nina walked over to Elora and gently stroked her snout, “Thank you, Elora. You’re just full of useful abilities, aren’t you? We’re lucky to have you on our side. It’s amazing what one act of kindness on Nova’s part would snowball into such an important ally who can be counted on for anything. Thank you, Elora, as you’re truly the best.”

Elora smiled, clearly happy at the praise. She gently coiled Nina and nuzzled against her, giving her a hug of sorts, making the rest of the party smile.

“We’re glad you’re okay, Lady Nina,” Sir Reginald said. “You had us worried for a bit but we’re glad you came out of this whole ordeal relatively unharmed. Now let’s get out of this cave and get back to our main mission: dealing with Muu.”

Nova nodded, “Right. And with the rest of the Syn Syndicate thugs dealt with we can leave without any more confrontations. Elora, thanks again for your help. To the Spirit Plane.”

Elora smiled as she vanished in a flurry of sparkles. The party made their way through the cavern and back outside. Even the sun seemed to be happy that Nina was safe. With the Charlie Horse Brothers vanquished the party knew that the reach and power of the Syn Syndicate had been significantly weakened.

Next Chapter: Prince Charms

That's all for today. Hopefully this isn't the start of more Syn Syndicate fights. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

Prince Charms


In a deserted cavern lay the bodies of several villainous goons, along with the now-fossilized and destroyed remains of their leaders. Suddenly, heavy footsteps could be heard in the cave that led to this large cavern. Out of the cave emerged a massive beast with a noble-looking man riding it. He was flanked by several knights. They looked around to see the carnage littered about.

“Looks like someone beat us to the punch,” a knight said.

“Yeah, and they certainly made a mess of things,” another said.

“Are you complaining?” a third asked. “Whoever was here took down the Charlie Horse Brothers in their fused form. No one has ever fought them in that state and lived to tell the tale. Considering these goons have been causing our kingdom so much trouble we should thank whoever did this.”

“Yeah, only one problem: who in Edyn was capable of this?”

The noble man jumped off his mighty beast and approached something on the ground. He knelt down and picked up a reddish-gold feather.

“A feather?” one knight asked.

“Looks like a phoenix feather, albeit a bit small,” another said.

The noble man replied, “No, it’s not just any feather. It’s a Magic Fire Feather. And there is only one Phoenix Clan member who possesses this type of feather. I know exactly who we have to thank for the eradication of the Charlie Horse Brothers.” He pocketed the feather and jumped back on his mighty beast, “Let us hurry and see if we can catch up to our noble helpers before they get too far. We must thank them for their hard work in stopping these infamous Syn Syndicate lowlifes and helping our people breathe a sigh of relief.”

“Yessir!” the knights said.

At the time the party was resting near a river. Nova was preparing lunch while the rest of the party awaited with hungry eyes and stomachs. Nova seemed to be preparing a steak stir-fry, much to the party’s eagerness. After a few more minutes he took a sample from the skillet and tasted it.

“Hmm… yeah, I’d say we’re ready to go,” he said. “One ginger steak stir-fry with mixed vegetables, ready to eat. Gather up.”

“No need to tell us twice!” Zeeker smiled.

Everyone gathered around as Nova served the stir-fry, giving the gang generous portions of it. The party sat down and tucked into the food, gaining expressions of bliss as they savored the meal.

“Mmm!” Nina purred. “Delicious, as always, Nova. I still find it hard to believe you’re only the third or fourth best cook in your family. Everything you make is great. If you’re only third or fourth then I wonder how good the food of the so-called ‘superior’ chefs in your family are.”

Nova chuckled lightly, “Believe it, Nina. The ones that top me can make quite gourmet meals. I’m still learning while they’ve got years of experience under their belts, so they definitely have the edge over me. But, as I said, I can’t be beaten when it comes to baking, even the family members who cook better than me admit that. So I at least have that crown all to myself. But, in any case, I’m glad you like the food. Eat up, especially after your ‘adventure’ the other day.”

The party resumed eating the delicious food, clearly enjoying Nova’s quality cooking. After a while the food was gone and Nova and Nina started to wash the dishes.

Van’s ears perked up, “Hang on, gang, I hear quite the thunderous stampede.” He took a moment to see if he could identify it before saying, “Looks like a herd of firokokos are heading our way. But there’s something else in the mix. Something much heavier and larger, yet no less swift. …Sounds like very heavy hooves.”

Kettu’s ears twitched as well, “Yeah, it does sound like hooves. I hope it isn’t reinforcements to the Charlie Horse Brothers.”

The party waited patiently, fingers twitching, ready to grab their weapons. Suddenly, they saw the mighty beast leading a pack of firokokos heading their way.

“That’s a Galloping Merbeast!” Nina stated.

“A Galloping Merbeast?” Nova asked. “Is it a type of familiar?”

She nodded, “Yes, and a powerful one at that. Not as powerful as a Gorgon Viper or Zombie Drake but it’s not far off. It’s a Level Six Spirit-type familiar of the Water attribute. They’re not only strong enough to tow an entire ship but they can even run over water like it was just earth. We can relax, as it’s clear this group is no threat to us.”

Everyone relaxed, realizing they weren’t in any danger. The Galloping Merbeast and its master stopped just before the party, the herd of firokokos soon following.

Sir Reginald’s eyes widened, “Prince Falkner!”

Prince Falkner smiled, “So, you are the noble warriors who dealt with the Charlie Horse Brothers? I must thank you for that, as those galloping goons have been causing my kingdom problems for at least two months.”

He jumped off his Galloping Merbeast, allowing everyone to get a good look at him. He was tall, handsome, and strong-looking yet seemed very kind. His body structure was well-built with plenty of muscle yet still lean enough to be graceful, with short, neatly groomed red hair, amber-colored eyes, and fair skin. He was dressed in what looked like royal garb crossed with battle armor, consisting of a robin’s egg blue tunic under a breastplate, armor on his shoulders, brown pants kept up with a sturdy belt with several pouches and bags attached to it, black calf-high boots with steel toes and heels, and black gloves.

“It’s an honor to meet you, Your Majesty,” Sir Reginald said, getting into a bow.

“Sir Reginald Ganner of the Galvatar Royal Knights I presume?” Prince Falkner smiled. “So what I’ve heard from others is true. You’re the Demon King’s champion party, and if what King Hendrik told me is correct you’re the leader, Sir Reginald.”

The knight nodded, “Indeed, you heard correctly, Your Majesty. I’m not surprised as Luvar Kingdom’s intelligence network is extremely good.”

“True, very true, Sir Reginald. And I see not only the Prince of Aquatica Kingdom, Prince Angelo Bubblehop, but also the renegade Princess of Phoenixwing Kingdom, Princess Nina. Quite the assortment of allies you have here. And I take it the young lad with the pink hair is the Demon King’s champion?”

Nova replied gloomily, “Sadly, yes. Belzebuth was barking up the wrong tree when he selected me.”

“Nova!” Nina scolded. “We’ve really need to work on your self-esteem. Considering you’ve got quite the body count consisting of various high-ranked members of Muu’s army under your belt you should hold your head up high for once.”

Prince Falkner chuckled, “I’ve heard the tales of your exploits, Nova, especially from King Hendrik. After all, his intelligence network is even better than my kingdom’s, so he knows all about what you’ve been through since arriving here on Edyn. I hear you even have quite the familiar under your name, although I don’t know exactly what type of familiar you have. But back to the subject at hand I thank you all for dealing with the Charlie Horse Brothers. There are still pockets of Syn Syndicate goons out there but with the Charlie Horse Brothers vanquished they’ll be thrown into a state of disarray, as those two savage stallions were the glue that was holding the remaining groups together. Without them tracking and stopping the remaining Syn Syndicate groups will be easier.”

Kettu’s eyes narrowed, “How do you know it was us who dealt with Claymore and Galvin?”

Prince Falkner pulled out the feather from his pouch, “I found this at the scene. It’s a Magic Fire Feather, is it not? I immediately realized who was responsible for the defeat of those two horsemen, as there is only one Phoenix Clan member who possesses the power of the Magic Fire Feathers.”

Nina gained a defensive look, “You’re not going to send me back to Phoenixwing Kingdom, are you?”

“No, rest assured, Princess Nina, as I know you’ve got a bigger task ahead of you.” He approached her and gently took her hand, giving it a kiss, “My, my, you’re even lovelier than what people say. And you’re quite the fighter, both in magic and with the strength of your legs. Those are some good qualities for a warrior princess to have.”

Nina blushed at these kind words, clearly taken aback by Prince Falkner’s kindness. Nova, on the other hand, was looking devastated, realizing what this meant.

“Oh no…” he said mentally. “No, no, no, not again… Don’t tell me Prince Falkner has got the hots for Nina, too?! NOW what am I gonna do?! Dominic and Eoleo are one thing but this guy is in a whole different class. Figurative and literally! There’s no way I can compete with that kind of grace, charm, and power. Oh, good God this just gets worse and worse. Is this your doing, universe? Trying to rob me of my happiness again? Because if it is… you succeeded again… since there is no way I can match this literal prince charming.”

Prince Falkner smiled, “Come, my fine friends. Let us return to my castle. We’re not far from the capital of this kingdom so please come with me. Princess Nina, would you like to ride my Galloping Merbeast? I’m certain Torrent wouldn’t mind.”

“Torrent?” Van asked. “Is that the name of your familiar?”

“Yes it is, Sir Centaur. Torrent is a magnificent familiar and has been a very valuable companion ever since I obtained him from a summoning ritual. We’ve only been together for about a year but he has proven himself time and time again to be a vital component in our kingdom. And my best friend, too.”

Everyone took a minute to get a good look at Torrent. He was a massive familiar, easy the size of Sir Reginald’s Thunderclap Stallion. His body was that of a dark blue and sea green Clydesdale but only had two rear legs, with the front legs being replaced by whale fins. He had a large whale tail instead of a horse’s with fins and large overlapping scales lining his body. His head was large and impressive, with a strong narwhale-like horn on the front, with glowing pupilless orange eyes and a mouth full of sharp teeth.

Nina looked the Galloping Merbeast over, “He’s quite the spectacular specimen, Your Majesty. He’s just oozing with power and skill. But, as much as I’d like to, I’m gonna pass on riding him. Nothing against him or you, mind, I just get a bit uneasy when riding large creatures. And I get saddle sore, too. Sorry, I’ll pass. I’ll just walk. Thanks for the offer, though, as he is quite the magnificent familiar.”

Prince Falkner nodded, “If that is your wish then I will comply, Princess Nina. Come, let us head for my capital. I’m certain my family will be pleased to hear that you dealt with the Charlie Horse Brothers for us, as we’ve had enough trouble dealing with them.”

Everyone nodded and followed Prince Falkner and his platoon, though Nova was sulking in the back. About an hour later they arrived at Luvar’s capital city. It was a very impressive city, coming just shy of Galvatar’s capital in terms of size, with several people bustling about and children playing.

“A very impressive city, Your Majesty,” Zeeker said.

“Thank you, my fine Beastman,” Prince Falkner said. “We do just fine, although the lingering threat of Muu’s forces does make a black cloud of doubt hover over our kingdom’s heads. But with your party here we can finally be put at ease knowing that threats like Muu’s troops and the Charlie Horse Brothers will be dealt with accordingly. Now, let us head for the castle.”

Prince Falkner lead the party toward the castle. The people were waving at him, with several young women swooning over him riding his familiar. This display only made Nova sulk even more.

“Looks like Prince Falkner is pretty popular…” he muttered silently. “That’s another nail in the coffin of my doomed attempt to win Nina over. Dammit, I was so close, too. I finally finished her gift and now this happens. For once I had a woman in the palm of my hands and then she gets snatched by a literal prince charming. There is no way in hell I can compete with him, even I know that. Looks like it’s game over for me in winning Nina’s favor. I’m starting to wonder if I even had a chance or if the universe was just toying with me by letting her and I get close so it could crush my hopes just when I was ready to make my move.”

Angelo noticed Nova’s depressed state and whispered to Sir Reginald, “Hey, Sir Reginald, we might have a problem. It’s clear that Prince Falkner is smitten with Nina and she’s clearly charmed by him. But is appears that our pink-haired champion realizes this and is looking rather devastated at the thought of losing her. Do you think we should do something before Nova throws in the towel?”

Sir Reginald whispered back, “Let’s continue to observe things for a bit and see if we need to step in and prevent Nova’s already fragile spirit from getting shattered. I noticed the same thing and Nova clearly sees Prince Falkner as the superior one. At least when it came to Dominic and Eoleo they were all around the same level, so to speak, so he felt confident enough to deal with them. But Prince Falkner is clearly in a whole other class and Nova knows it. Let’s see how things play out first and then decide if we should jump in before the situation gets worse.”

The party was guided to the front of the castle. Prince Falkner jumped off his familiar and gave it a stroke on the neck.

“You have done well today, Torrent,” he said. “Take a load off. To the Spirit Plane.”

Torrent gave a polite nod before vanishing in a flurry of sparkles. Prince Falkner then lead the party into the castle. After a few minutes of traveling down the corridors they arrived in the throne room. They all got into a bow as they approached the King and Queen.

“My son, how did the mission go in defeating the Charlie Horse Brothers?” the king asked.

“I didn’t need to do anything as this party had dealt with the Charlie Horse Brothers long before we got there,” Prince Falkner replied.

The queen quirked an eyebrow, “This party? If I’m not mistaken then this is the Demon King’s champion party, as I’ve heard they’re quite the assortment of allies. And I see not only Sir Reginald but also Prince Angelo and the renegade Princess Nina. Fascinating. Why would they have gotten involved in dealing with the Charlie Horse Brothers?”

Sir Reginald replied, “Well, they came to us. You see, we had exposed Mayor Trump McShane as an ally to them and had him arrested. We knew that the Charlie Horse Brothers would soon come after us because we got involved with one of their allies. They especially had their eyes set on Lady Nina, as not only is Phoenixwing Kingdom offering a reward for her return but she possesses the power of the Magic Fire Feathers, both of which the Charlie Horse Brothers wanted to milk for as much profit as possible. After all, they were determined to revive the Syn Syndicate that my army took down years ago. With a bit of extra help from an unlikely ally, much to my surprise. We fought them in their fused form and defeated them, killing them and all their goons, thus ending their threat. So it was a matter of time before they’d get on our case after we exposed and arrested Mayor Trump McShane.”

The queen scratched her chin, “So, Mayor Trump McShane was in cahoots with those galloping goons? I had heard rumors about something like that but since it was in Aquatica Kingdom we mostly ignored it. Looks like those Charlie Horse Brothers had connections in other places. At least they’re dead now so we no longer have to worry about them causing any more problems. There are still a few pockets of Syn Syndicate activity littered around but they’ll fall soon enough now that the ones who were keeping them together have been slain. Your party has done well, Sir Reginald.”

The king nodded, “Yes, you did. A shame, though, as I would’ve liked my son to be the one who took those goons down. It would not only be another feather in his cap but it would also show the gloriousness of my kingdom’s military power. So while I’m a bit annoyed that you beat us to the punch, as Luvar Kingdom could’ve really benefited from the glory of killing Claymore and Galvin, I’ll let it go this once because I’m just glad they’re gone after all the trouble they caused us.”

Kettu’s eyes narrowed, thinking, “This king seems like quite the glory hound. That doesn’t bode well. I’ve heard rumors about him, and none are flattering. Looks like those rumors are true.”

The king continued, “In any case, since you did us the favor of uprooting the Charlie Horse Brothers I will permit you to stay in this castle for the night as a reward. Men, escort this strangely assembled group to the guest room.”

Prince Falkner bowed, “Allow me, father, as I want to discuss some things with them.”

“Very well.”

Prince Falkner nodded and escorted the party out and down toward where the guest rooms were. He stopped at a certain point, confusing the party.

“Is something wrong, Your Majesty?” Sir Reginald asked.

“I’m sorry you had to hear such things from my father,” the young prince sighed. “Father has… changed. For the worse in recent years. I don’t know what could’ve caused this change, as before he was a beloved king who put his country first. Now, he’s more interested in glory and making his kingdom seem like the cream of the crop. He’ll stop at nothing to ensure he gets the biggest piece of the pie when it comes to pretty much anything nowadays. It’s actually caused some tension with our allies, as father has gotten to the point where he won’t lift a finger for anyone unless there is something in it for him. And it has to be something large to boot.”

Kettu huffed, “I thought he was hiding his true feelings. I’ve heard rumors about him, and none of them are flattering in the slightest.”

“Indeed, my Werefox friend. He may seem like he’s being polite but in fact he’s fuming that it was you and not his army that defeated the Charlie Horse Brothers. Considering they’re an infamous pair in the Syn Syndicate he wanted our kingdom to be the one who slayed them, as he feels it would prove his kingdom is superior to Galvatar, since it was your knights that accidentally let those horsemen slip through your fingers.”

Nina crossed her arms and huffed, “Sounds like he’s not only gotten greedy but petty, too. I don’t know much about what has happened here, as I was largely neglected growing up, thus I rarely learned anything about our allies, but I did once hear that King Fredric, your father, was a good king. Obviously that’s no longer the case. Makes you wonder why he changed so sharply?”

“Your guess is as good as anyone else’s, Princess Nina.” Prince Falkner replied. “It was such a drastic change, too, much to everyone’s shock. There are people in our kingdom, and several of our allies too, demanding he steps down, as he’s not the man he once was and is causing a lot of unneeded friction between the various nations and us. To be honest, I want to take the throne soon so father can be removed from power, as both mother and I agree that he’s not the man we once loved. I worry just how far he’ll go to get his way, which could put Luvar Kingdom in a very dangerous spot with our allies.”

Van quirked an eyebrow, “Does this mean you want our help, Your Majesty?”

Prince Falkner shook his head, “No, I don’t want to get you all involved in this mess. I’m just explaining what’s been going on and why father is not the man he once was. I wish there was some way to remove him from power before his actions cause our allies to cut ties with us, as he’s been sailing dangerously close to that possibility. I hope you don’t get involved in this mess. I’d rather not tarnish your good name with this family feud of sorts, but I’m giving you the heads-up in case father does something to you that may put you at risk.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Thank you for informing us, Your Majesty. This is rather concerning to hear. We’ll keep our eyes and ears open for any potential threats. You just keep your head down, too; you don’t want to be charged with treason if your father is really willing to go off the deep end.”

“Thank you for your kind words. However, I may have to stick my neck out in order to find a solution before father destroys our kingdom’s name, reputation, and connections with his pettiness and greed. I pray to the Goddess that you don’t get thrown into the mix, as you have enough problems to deal with in regards to Muu and his army. Hopefully this meeting will alert you to any possible threats my father may pull on you.”

“Duly noted, Your Majesty.”

“Anyway, here is one of the guest rooms. It should have enough beds for all of you, although the Centaur might have trouble.”

Van smiled, “Rest assured that I don’t need a bed. Just a warm spot on the ground and a blanket is all I need.”

Prince Falkner smiled, “Thank you, that makes things easier. Stay safe as I worry that father might pull something so he can steal the credit from you for killing the Charlie Horse Brothers. I’ll see you in a bit.”

He gave a polite bow and walked away. The party entered the room he had led them to. It was a large room with several nice beds and plenty of royal trimmings to make the room rather magnificent. The party closed the door behind them and took a moment to observe their surroundings.

“I’m quite troubled to hear that King Fredric has had such a change to his personality for the worse,” Angelo said. “I know some people can let power and greed go to their heads but to the point it’ll destroy relations with other nations is quite a dangerous risk. Especially since we need to all band together against Muu, so fracturing the alliance right now isn’t good.”

Zeeker pondered, “Wonder what he might do to us in order to steal the credit for killing the Charlie Horse Brothers?”

Kettu replied grimly, “I’d rather not know, but I’ll promise you it won’t be pleasant. Could range from torture, assassination, smear campaigns, sabotage, and anything in between. We’d best keep our wits about us to ensure he can’t get the drop on us.”

“That’s not something to look forward to,” Van said. “And here we thought we might have secured a nice place to rest for a bit. Looks like we need to be on our toes while we’re here to ensure nothing bad happens.”

“Joy…” Nova said bitterly.

A little while later, while the party was resting, Nina got up and made her way to the door.

“Where are you going, Lady Nina?” Sir Reginald asked.

“Little girl’s room,” she replied. “I’ll be right back. And don’t worry I’ll keep my eyes and ears open for any potential threat.”

She left the room and made her way down the hall toward the nearest bathroom. The party waited for her return. After about ten minutes Nova stood up and went toward the door.

“Nina’s taking too long,” he said. “I’m going to see what’s taking her.”

“Keep your wits about you, Nova, just in case,” Zeeker said.

“I will, thanks.”

He left the room and started to make his way toward where the nearest bathroom was. When he turned another corner he came to a screeching halt before quickly ducking behind something. He looked ahead with wide eyes. Nina was standing with Prince Falkner, seemingly talking, with the young prince holding a rose.

“Oh no…” Nova cried mentally. “Please no! Don’t do it! Not now! Please!”

Nina said, obviously flustered, “Prince Falkner, you’re quite the kind man. I’m very flattered at your compliments. You’re much better than your father is.”

Prince Falkner smiled, “Thank you, Princess Nina. You are equally kind as you are beautiful, yet you have nerves of steel and are willing to rebel against the status quo for the greater good. I’ve never met a woman like you before. It’s almost refreshing.”

Both went silent before the young prince summoned up the courage.

“Princess Nina, I have a request. I know you’re part of the Demon King’s champion party so you have other priorities to worry about. But I want you to do me a favor when this is all over.”

“What’s that?” Nina inquired, feeling surprisingly shy.

“I want you to… come back here and become my queen.”

Next Chapter: Heart of a Princess

That's it for today. Quite the bombshell dropped. How will the party react to this proposal? Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Heart of a Princess


Both Nina and Nova were floored by Prince Falkner’s request. Nova was looking devastated at the thought while Nina almost seemed frozen.

“P-Prince Falkner,” Nina struggled to say. “I… I must admit I’m quite flattered you’d want me to become your queen. Is this also a means of getting rid of your father, though?”

Prince Falkner shook his head, “No, at least not like that. I really mean it that I want you to become my queen. You’re quite the woman, one that only comes once in a triple blue moon. You’re amazing and I want you to come back here and become my wife when the war with Muu is over. It would mean so much to me if you would. Please, Princess Nina, at least consider it.”

Nina was at a loss for words while Nova’s heart and spirit shattered like glass being hit by a bowling ball. He slowly slinked away, as he didn’t want to see anymore of what was transpiring, utterly devastated. He somehow made it back to the guest room and opened the door. The party turned to see him enter.

“Nova?” Van asked. “You okay? You look like you’ve saw Muu.”

Nova gently closed the door and placed his forehead on it, saying, “It’s over. I lost my only chance. Just when I was ready to tell her how I felt the universe made sure that I can never be happy.”

Angelo looked concerned, “What do you mean, Nova?”

“Prince Falkner… effectively proposed to Nina and asked her to become his queen when the war with Muu is over.”

The party went dead silent, clearly shocked at the turn of events.

“Prince Falkner… asked Lady Nina to become his queen after the war with Muu is over?” Sir Reginald asked, trying to process everything. “I knew he liked her but I didn’t realize he loved her. Nova… what are you going to do about it?”

Nova replied in a depressed tone, “Let her go. It’s painfully clear to me that I never stood a chance in winning her over. So… I have to do the mature thing and just let her go.”

“But you love her…” Angelo said, clearly devastated by the news.

“And if you love something sometimes you have to let it go for the greater good. And let’s face it: there is no way in hell I could ever match Prince Falkner. He’s handsome, kind, charming, extremely popular, well-regarded by his subjects, wealthy, and more. In other words: everything I’m not. He can provide for Nina more than I could even hope to dream of, giving her everything she could ever want and need. I need to face the facts: I never stood a chance at winning her heart. The universe won’t let me be happy. It cruelly baited me with how close Nina and I got before yanking her away with the perfect literal prince charming, leaving me to crumble under the weight of my devastation. What chance did I have, anyway? None, that’s what. It’s over. I never stood a chance, especially compared to Prince Falkner. I almost feel like the universe used Dominic and Eoleo as tests to see what would happen and then kicked things into overdrive with Prince Falkner to ensure I could never be happy. But my happiness is irrelevant, as Nina’s is more important. She needs a man like Prince Falkner, not a good-for-nothing loser like me. She’d be better off with him as he’s someone who can provide for her. I have to let her go so she can have a good future.”

He took something out of his Digi-Pack, revealing it to be the bracelet, much to everyone’s confusion.

“What’s that?” Zeeker asked.

“A wasted endeavor now that its purpose has been smashed to bits.”

Nova carelessly tossed it into a nearby wastebasket. He opened the door again and began walking out.

“Where are you going?” Sir Reginald asked.

“I’m leaving this castle so I don’t have to be cruelly taunted by the fact that I never had a chance in winning Nina’s heart. I’m going to the inn so I don’t have to witness the perfect love story take place in front of me.”

He left the room and closed the door, stunning the party. Kettu waked over and fished the bracelet out of the wastebasket, allowing the party to get a look at it.

“This… is a magical accessory,” the Werefox said.

“It’s certainly different than any other I’ve seen,” Sir Reginald observed. “I wonder…”

Van’s eyes widened, “Now I get it. The new skill Nova learned is how to craft magical accessories! And his first project was this bracelet to give to Nina as a gift in hopes of courting her.”

“I wonder when he picked that up?” Kettu pondered.

Angelo replied, “I bet it was during that time we were traveling with that accessory merchant, since it would be the only time Nova would’ve been introduced to the concept. It also explains why he hasn’t sold any of the crafting materials we confiscated from that one Undead Base: because he wants to use them to make magical accessories.”

Van looked the bracelet over, “For a guy who knew very little, if anything, about magical accessories, he did a damn fine job at making this. The craftsmanship is quite good, especially for his first foray into accessory crafting. Not quite professional level but for a first-timer it’s still very, very good. Nina would love this. And look, he even gave it an engraving on the inside.”

Everyone looked to see the words “I love you Nina” engraved on the inside of the bracelet, with the added touch of the “o” in “love” being a heart.

Zeeker gained a depressed look, “All his hard work and he’s throwing it away because Prince Falkner beat him to Nina.”

“But Nina loves Nova, don’t forget that!” Angelo pointed out. “She’s subconsciously in love with him but she’s in love with him, nonetheless. She needs to realize the truth before Nova walks out of her life forever.”

Sir Reginald replied, “While I know that’s true we cannot interfere here. If we were to get in the way it could cause problems for us. We’re already on high-alert because King Fredric wanted the glory of killing the Charlie Horse Brothers yet we beat him to the punch. If we get into the mix it could cause us greater problems and potentially put Nova in an even more difficult spot. King Fredric is not the type of person who will let his son be beaten by a man like Nova in courting Nina. If we tried to get in the way of that it could lead to us potentially getting the guillotine as an act of treason in his eyes. And who knows what he’d do to Nova. Sadly, now that we know King Fredric will resort to whatever he has to in order to gain what he wants we cannot interfere lest things get even worse for everyone, especially Nova.”

Kettu sighed, “I hate to admit it but you’re right, Reggie. Getting involved in this love triangle could put us in seriously hot water. Even I know that and I’m willing to take risks if it satisfies my end goals. No, this is one risk we cannot afford to get involved in, especially since we’re already targets by King Fredric because he’s angry at not getting the glory of killing Claymore and Galvin. Like it or not we cannot stick our necks out in this dangerous game of love unless we want to die.”

The party could only sigh in defeat, knowing that there was nothing they could do to stop Prince Falkner from courting Nina without great risk to them.

At the time Nina and Prince Falkner were still talking. Little did they know that King Fredric was eavesdropping on them. He smiled darkly as he saw this exchange transpire.

“Excellent!” he said silently. “My son is courting the Phoenixwing Kingdom Princess. If he succeeds in marrying her then I’ll have access to something incredible, allowing me to rub it in King Blazar’s face. Come on, Falkner, don’t screw this up. Take her and make her your wife so I can reap the benefits of it.”

Nina was still struggling to respond, “Prince Falkner, I admit I’m at a loss for words with what could be called a proposal. You’re an incredible man, one that could change the very fate of this kingdom. Any woman would love to be by your side, and yet you’re willing to make little old me your bride? I admit I’m completely floored by this.”

“Then will you become my queen, Princess Nina?” Prince Falkner asked.

“I… I don’t know… I’ve got this feeling that doing so will betray something that I hold dear to me. I… I can’t quite figure it out but something is holding me back from saying yes.”

She closed her eyes in an attempt to figure out what was preventing her from properly responding to Prince Falkner’s request. She searched her heart for the answer, only for the image of a certain individual to effectively smack her across the face. Her eyes opened quickly, becoming wide as the realization sunk in.

“I’m… I’m sorry, Prince Falkner,” she replied gingerly. “But I cannot accept your proposal. I can’t believe it took me this long to realize it but my heart belongs to someone else. I’m sorry but I cannot become your queen, as I’m in love with someone else. Someone who has proven time and time again that I can count on him for anything. Someone who is willing to bend over backwards and put himself at great risk for my sake. Someone who taught me that not all men were like the scumbags in my clan. I’m sorry but someone else won my heart a long time ago. And like an idiot I didn’t realize it until now despite me clearly showing all the signs of being in love with him. I’m sorry, Prince Falkner, but I’m in love with Nova.”

Prince Falkner’s eyes widened in surprise while King Fredric looked furious at the turn of events. However, Prince Falkner’s face melted into a smile.

“I understand, Princess Nina,” he said warmly. “It’s clear that your heart belongs to Nova. You should go tell him how you feel, as I’m certain he’ll be overjoyed at the thought. I’m willing to accept it as it’s your decision. Now go, and embrace the man you love, as there is a chance you could lose him forever if you don’t act quickly.”

Nina smiled, “Thank you, Prince Falkner. You’re taking this very well. That’s a good quality for a man to have. I thank you for understanding what matters to me most.”

She gave a polite bow before darting off back to the guest room to tell Nova how she felt. However, when she got there, she was surprised to see Nova not in the room.

“Where’s Nova?” she asked, now getting worried.

“Lady Nina, why are you here?” Sir Reginald asked.

“I’ve come to the realization that I should’ve come to weeks ago: I’m in love with Nova. I need to tell him this. Where is he?”

Kettu gained a grim expression, “He’s leaving. He saw you and Prince Falkner talking and heard him propose to you. It devastated him, as he feels that this was the universe’s newest attempt to crush him. He decided to let you go so you could have a good future despite the fact he’s in love with you. He’s probably heading toward the inn as we speak. If you want to catch him you’d better go now before he gets a chance to leave the castle.”

Nina’s eyes widened in horror, “No! I can’t let him go! I have to find him immediately!”

She quickly darted out of the room in hopes of catching Nova before he could leave. She ran as fast as she could, hoping and praying that she wasn’t too late. Prince Falkner noticed her desperation and followed her, realizing what was going on. At the time Nova had reached the front doors of the castle. He gave a heavy, defeated sigh and started to open them.

“Nova!” a familiar voice cried out to him.

He stopped dead in his tracks, “It… It can’t be.”

He turned to see Nina barrel toward him, tackling him and nearly knocking him over, embracing him in a tight hug.

“N-Nina! What are you doing here?”

“Preventing you from leaving, Nova!” she said in a desperate tone. “I’ve come to the realization that I should’ve come to much, much sooner. Nova… I love you.”

Nova completely froze, his mind seemingly stopping as he attempted to process this declaration. It took him about a minute to recover, still in a state of disbelief.

“N-Nina… you… love me?” he barely managed to say. “You’re willing to love a good-for-nothing loser like me? But what about Prince Falkner?”

Nina replied, “Yes I do. And you’re not a good-for-nothing loser, Nova. You’ve been the most valuable and wonderful person to ever grace my life. If it wasn’t for you I don’t know what would’ve happened to me. I’ve come to realize that I’ve been in love with you ever since I met you. As for Prince Falkner, he’s an incredible man with virtually unlimited potential, but I can’t love him like I love you. You are my man, Nova, nothing will change that. I love you and only you. So please, don’t leave me. I beg of you, don’t leave me.”

Nova was completely taken aback by this declaration of love, his mind still struggling to process all this.

“She’s right, Nova, as her heart belongs to you,” a voice said.

Nova looked up to see Prince Falkner walk up to them.

“Your Majesty,” Nova said. “You’re really willing to accept this?”

Prince Falkner nodded, “Yes I am. It’s her choice to make. I admit I would’ve loved to have her as my queen but it’s clear she only has eyes for you. I’m fully willing to accept that. I won’t force her to love me as that’s her choice to make. You won Princess Nina’s heart a long time ago, Nova, and I’m completely willing to step aside so she can have the man she truly loves.”

“Considering I was willing to step aside so you could have her I’m surprised at this sudden turn of events.”

A voice then boomed, “THEN STEP ASIDE AND LET MY SON WIN, YOU PINK-HAIRED RAT!!!”

They turned to see King Fredric storm up to them, the queen hot on his heels, trying to stop him.

“Father, what are you saying?” Prince Falkner sputtered.

“You listen here, Nova or whatever your name is, my son is your superior in every way!” King Fredric spat. “As such he deserves a woman like Princess Nina, not a lowly pink-colored cockroach like you! If you value your life then you will step aside and let my son marry this woman!”

Nina countered, “Shut up, you pompous pompadour! I made my decision! You have no right to force me or Nova to do anything you say! It’s clear you want me for something and I won’t stand for it! I love Nova, that’s all there is to it! You cannot force my hand and make me marry someone I don’t want. So what if Prince Falkner is superior to Nova, that doesn’t matter to me. I don’t want anyone other than Nova, so DEAL WITH IT!”

“Don’t you dare talk to me like that, woman! And as the king I can do whatever I want. So unless Nova wants to die then he’ll back off and allow my son to have your hand in marriage.”

“Never!” Nova spat. “For once in my life something has gone right and I’m not about to let a spoiled, rotten, arrogant punk like you rip that away from me! I’m sick of dealing with goons like you, especially ones that don’t deserve the power you abuse for your own gain! Your threats don’t scare me, ‘Your Majesty’, so don’t bother!”

“You’re just asking for it, you pink-haired punk!” King Fredric snarled. An idea popped into his head, making him smirk, “I know how we can settle this. You and my son face off in a duel. The winner claims the Phoenix Clan Princess.”

“Father you can’t be serious!” Prince Falkner stated. “Princess Nina already made up her mind! You can’t force her to marry someone she doesn’t want to be with!”

“You be quiet!” King Fredric turned to Nova, “What do you say, pink boy?”

Nova gave an exasperated sigh, “Does everyone have to bring up my pink hair? But more to the point, fine, if it’ll shut you up then so be it. I’ll even tack on an extra condition to the duel. If I win then you have to step down and let Prince Falkner take the crown. And if Prince Falkner wins I’ll be your personal whipping boy.”

Nina looked alarmed, “Nova, please, no, don’t say that!”

King Fredric smirked, “Deal. Easiest bet I’ve ever made.”

“Don’t count your chickens before they hatch: they could be goose eggs,” Nova replied coldly.

“We’ll see about that, you pink-haired pest. One hour, at the training arena. Don’t chicken out.”

King Fredric turned around and left, eager for the duel. Prince Falkner turned to Nova.

“Nova… I’m so sorry you’re getting dragged into this,” he said, bowing apologetically. “I’m more than happy to let Princess Nina marry you since that’s what she wants, but I can’t believe father is going this far.”

The queen sighed, “Indeed. He clearly wants something out of this potential marriage. However, if Nova plays his cards right, we may finally get my husband off the throne. I don’t like it either, especially since this won’t be a fair fight if my husband has anything to say about it, but if Nova succeeds then we can kick my husband off the throne and start repairing the damage he's caused. But you will have to give it your all, Falkner, otherwise your father will know and make things worse for you, Nova, and Princess Nina.”

Prince Falkner sighed, “I know, mother. I’ll begin making preparations for this ridiculous duel of father’s. Nova, know that I hold no ill will toward you for winning Princess Nina’s heart. I don’t want this duel as much as you do but if we’re to stand a chance at removing my father from power it has to be done. Please forgive me for any damage I may cause you.”

Nova replied, “I don’t hold any of this against you, Prince Falkner. You were willing to gracefully accept Nina’s decision, which is more important than this cock fight that your father has dragged us into. I hate gambling Nina’s future on a stupid duel but if it might help get your father off the throne then it has to be done, as it’s clear he’s unfit to hold such power.”

Nina looked at Nova with concerned eyes, “I’m more concerned about your future right now, Nova. Please, I beg of you, don’t get hurt. You already suffer enough and for the first time you have a chance to be truly happy. Please, Nova, be careful. I finally realized the truth, which should’ve been as obvious to me as my own hand in front of my face, and we can finally be together and yet this damn power-hungry king is trying to override our happiness for his own motive. Please, Nova, don’t take any unnecessary risks for my sake.”

“Too late for that, Nina. Let’s just get going so we can get this duel over with and finally end this misery that King Fredric is putting us through.”

An hour later the stage was set. Word had spread like wildfire about what had happened and the people were disgusted with King Fredric for his latest dirty plan. Nevertheless the people of the capital city had gathered at the arena to witness how this duel would transpire. The arena where the two warriors would face off was large with several stone pillars surrounding it. There was also a massive bell used for various purposes that could easily trap a person inside. Both Nova and Prince Falkner were standing in the arena. Nova was ensuring his bow was in working order while Prince Falkner tested his sword. King Fredric and his wife were in the royal seating area, the former having a confident smirk on his face while the latter could only sigh defeatedly. The rest of the party were on the sidelines, waiting for what would transpire.

“This is hardly a fair fight,” Sir Reginald stated. “Nova’s an archer, thus he’s bad at close-range, the Demon King Ring lacks close-quarter combat abilities, and he has no formal combat training. Meanwhile Prince Falkner is a swordsman, and while Sword-type skills tend to be close ranged they can become long ranged attacks if one is trained to do so, and he’s a soldier in his army. If anything it’s heavily rigged in Prince Falkner’s side.”

Kettu huffed, “Yeah, and that’s what His Royal Pain-in-the-Arse wants. He wants to stack the odds against Nova as much as possible so he can get his way. Hopefully Nova can figure out a way to win or he’s gonna be even more miserable once this is all over.”

Nina clasped her hands together, saying in a concerned tone, “We just need to have faith. Nova’s good at figuring out solutions in situations like this. We just have to hope he’ll figure something out.”

A referee stepped up, saying, “I will now go over the rules of this engagement. Skills and magic cannot be used directly on the opponent and no lethal strikes are allowed.”

Nova took a moment to think these rules over, checked his surrounding area, and then said, “Before we begin I just want to ensure that I have everything down. The rules say no direct attacks with magic or skill and no lethal damage, correct?”

“That is correct.”

“Are there any other rules I need to be aware of?”

The referee shook his head, “No, there are not.”

Nova took another moment to observe his surroundings before gaining a gleam in his eye.

Prince Falkner gave a heavy sigh, “I’m so sorry you got dragged into this, Nova. Please forgive me.”

Nova replied, “It’s not your fault. This is your father’s doing. But I have an idea. Just do what you would normally do in a situation like this and give it your all so your father doesn’t call foul.”

The referee stated, “The duel will now… BEGIN!”

King Fredric smirked, “That pink-haired punk is going down. Easiest bet I’ve ever made.”

Prince Falkner said, “Nova, I’ll let you have the first strike as compensation for getting involved in this mess.”

Nova smirked, “Gladly.” He primed an arrow and took aim, “Demon Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Demon Mode.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the attack, but to everyone’s surprise he launched it at one of the pillars. The archery skill blew up upon contact with the pillar, causing it to rumble and shake.

“Timber!”

The pillar fell over toward Prince Falkner, who went wide eyed as he saw it come crashing toward him. He braced himself, too frightened to move as it toppled onto him, flattening him to the ground and burying him underneath it. His sword was thrown out of his hand and landed near Nova who picked it up, walked casually toward the pinned prince and pointed it at him.

“I win,” he said simply.

King Fredric spat, “You cheater! You used a skill!”

Nova turned to him, “True, but I still played by the rules. The rules stated I can’t use a skill or magic directly on my opponent. But they didn’t say anything about using a skill or magic on the environment. In other words, there are no rules stating I can’t use a skill or magic indirectly against my opponent, such as striking one of those pillars around this arena and using it to flatten my foe without actually shooting him. Am I right, ref?”

The referee replied, “That is true. There are no rules against using skill or magic on the environment to attack your foe indirectly, you just can’t use them directly on the opponent. Therefore your maneuver is perfectly legal.”

King Fredric spat, “Who’s side are you on, you traitor! He used a skill! That should automatically disqualify him!”

The ref stood his ground, “No, sir, he still played by the rules. Therefore the challenger’s tactic is perfectly legal, as he didn’t use the skill directly on his opponent as there are no rules against him using a skill on the environment to his advantage. So I’m going to allow it as there are no rules against his rather clever maneuver.”

Prince Falkner grunted as he tried to dig himself out, “I agree. It was a most clever strategy. Nova’s something of a pragmatic fighter but it proved effective. And since I’m still stuck underneath this pillar I cannot continue fighting, therefore Nova is the victor.”

The crowd went silent before cheering loudly, much to King Fredric’s shock and horror. Nova then helped dig Prince Falkner out of the rubble, helping dust him off.

“Sorry about that, Your Majesty, but it had to be done,” he said. “I hope I didn’t hurt you too badly.”

Prince Falkner smiled, “I feel a little squashed but nothing a hot bath won’t cure. That was a very clever strategy. I may have to borrow it in future battles.”

King Fredric roared, “ARREST THAT PINK-HAIRED FIEND!!!”

However, to his surprise, none of the knights were obeying him.

“That was a direct order! Arrest him now!”

Nova placed a hand on his hip, “Sorry, but you’re not in charge anymore, remember? I won the duel thus I won the bet, which means you have to step down as ruler and give the crown to your son. Since everyone knew of the bet no one is obeying you because you no longer have any power over them. Face it, Fredric, you lose, and the fact you’re trying to back out of your end of the bargain just proves what a slimeball you are. Your days as ruler are over. DEAL WITH IT!”

“I am still the king! Therefore as long as I still have the crown I will not bow to you!”

Nina, now fed up, took flight and headed straight toward King Fredric. She slapped him across the face, snatched the crown off his head, and flew back down to the arena. She then gently placed it on Falkner’s head.

“Long live King Falkner!” the crowd chanted.

“You were saying?” Nova taunted.

Fredric was now enraged, “HOW DARE YOU!!! My plan was perfect! Beat up that little pink punk and turn the Phoenix Clan Princess into a means to make money by milking her Magic Fire Feathers for all they were worth so I could rub it in King Blazar’s face! You ruined everything, you pink-haired fiend!”

The crowd went dead silent at this accidental confession of Fredric’s true motives for Nina. Everyone’s surprise then turned to anger and they immediately started booing him, saying words of contempt and demanding punishment.

The newly crowned King Falkner growled, “So that was your goal, huh, ‘father’? Then my first order as the new king I order for your arrest! Soldiers, cart my father off to the dungeons!”

The soldiers complied and grabbed Fredric, much to his surprise.

“You traitors!” he spat.

“Sorry, but you’re not our boss anymore,” one knight said. “King Falkner is now. You’ve been officially dethroned, so deal with it.”

Fredric turned to his wife, “Stop them!”

The queen merely said, “Take him away. I’m done with all this nonsense. He’s getting what he deserved so get him out of my sight.”

“Yes ma’am!” the knights said.

The began carting Fredric away, much to his protests, struggling as hard as he could. The queen could only sigh as her husband was dragged off but smiled as she thought about how her son was now the king.

King Falkner turned to Nova and Nina, saying, “I’m so sorry for all this. I’m glad everything worked out, though, thanks to Nova’s cleverness. Princess Nina, I wish you and Nova many happy years together. I admit I’m a bit jealous but I’m perfectly fine letting you two be together, as it’s your choice, thus I’m willing to respect it.”

Nina smiled, “Thank you, Your Majesty.” She gently nuzzled up against Nova, saying, “Looks like things worked out in the end, Nova. Makes me wonder if you planned all that.”

Nova replied with a rueful smile, “Nah, it was just me improvising as always. If there’s one thing I’m good at it is improvising with what I’ve got. It was fortunate that I managed to use the exact wording of the rules to expose a loophole, otherwise I would’ve been at a serious disadvantage. I appreciate that King Falkner doesn’t harbor any ill will toward me for this event.”

King Falkner smiled, “None whatsoever.”

Suddenly a voice shouted, “NOVA!!!”

Everyone turned to see Fredric charge toward Nova. He bit his thumb, causing it to bleed and took a dynamic pose.

“If I can’t stop you then my familiar will!” he spat. “Come forth, Demon Weasel!”

A summoning circle appeared, followed by a burst of smoke, and before long a new familiar was standing before them. The Demon Weasel familiar looked like a large weasel with pitch black fur, glowing pupilless red eyes, a mouth full of fangs, a long, lanky body, sharp claws that were at least six inches long, and a pair of devil wings on its back.

“Attack that pink-haired punk!” Fredric ordered.

The Demon Weasel charged toward Nova, baring its fangs. Nova, however, looked unimpressed.

“Not bad, but not as impressive as mine,” he said coldly. He then placed the Summoning Sticker on the back of his right hand before stating in a strong voice, “Elora, come forth!”

The Summoning Sticker glowed, followed by a summoning circle appearing, then a burst of smoke and fire, and before long Elora was standing next to Nova. The Demon Weasel came to a screeching halt as it saw the Gorgon Viper, eyes wide in fear. Elora’s eyes narrowed as she quickly figured out the situation. She ignited her tail and gave a strong, threating roar, preparing to summon her hellfire. The Demon Weasel quickly turned around and ran before it somehow returned itself to the Spirit Plane, much to Fredric’s shock.

“I can’t believe that the Demon Weasel pretty much yeeted itself to the Spirit Plane,” Nova said. “I didn’t know familiars could do that.”

Nina quirked an eyebrow, “I didn’t know they could do that, either.”

King Falkner was wide eyed as he saw Elora, saying, “I had no idea you have a Gorgon Viper as a familiar. She’s incredible.”

Nova replied, “Thank you. Now, Elora, roast that goon who just sicced his Demon Weasel at me!”

Elora nodded and spewed her hellfire on Fredric, burning him with its intensity. When she stopped Fredric was badly burned. He started to run as the knights chased after him. Nova then got an idea. He loaded up an arrow and took aim at the bell hanging high above them.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the electrified dragon at the bell. The attack blew up what was holding the bell in place, causing it to fall. The bell fell directly on top of Fredric, trapping him inside of it, much to the amusement of everyone else. Nova then walked over, picked up the nearest hard object, and gained a devious smirk.

“This won’t hurt a bit, Fredric,” he taunted. “I won’t feel a thing.”

He then started to smack the bell repeatedly, causing it to reverberate, making Fredric scream as the noise bombarded him from all sides. After a few more hits Nova stopped.

“Give up yet?”

Fredric replied weakly, “Have mercy…”

“Mercy? You should’ve thought of that before starting this whole ruckus. I think one more smack should do you good.”

Nina walked us, saying, “Hold it, Nova. I want to be the one to do it, since he was going to extort me for my Magic Fire Feathers like my own clan did.”

“Be my guest, my lady.”

Nina took a moment to savor the situation before she gave the bell a roundhouse kick, causing it to reverberate again, making Fredric cry out in pain. When the noise stopped they could hear him fall to the ground. Van walked over and pulled the bell off of the disgraced former king, revealing him to be out cold.

King Falkner turned to the guards, “Take him away to the dungeons while he’s still unconscious so he can’t cause any more problems. Make sure to put him in anti-magic cuffs to prevent him from being able to summon his Demon Weasel in case he tries to use it to escape from prison.”

“Yessir!” the guards stated.

They grabbed the unconscious former king and carted him off to the dungeons. The queen then walked up to her newly crowned son, smiling.

“You did good, Falkner,” she said. “Now with your father off the throne I hope you can start repairing the damage he did.”

King Falkner nodded, “I have every intention of doing so. He’s jeopardized our relations with other nations for too long. Now it’s time to fix the damage he’s caused and bring Luvar Kingdom back up to speed and in better terms with our allies. And we own this noble party a thank you for helping us achieve this victory in dethroning father.” He turned to the party, “I’m so sorry for everything that father put you through. Hopefully now with him disposed of you can rest easy and our kingdom can rebuild our reputation and not have our allies cut ties with us. Thank you very much. I hate to say this but this whole love triangle thing ended up helping our kingdom in the long run. Thank you.”

Nina gently cuddled up to Nova, saying, “Thank you as well. If this never happened it might’ve taken me even longer to realize the truth. I would’ve eventually but thanks to this whole event I now know where my loyalties lie. With Nova.” She turned to her newly minted boyfriend, “I’m sorry about all this, Nova. I probably drove you crazy with all the subconscious hints of my affections only for it to seem like the universe screwed you over again. Can you forgive me?”

Nova replied warmly, “I can, Nina. It’s not really your fault, as I lacked the courage to tell you how I felt, which kept the door open for others to make moves on you. So I’m sorry too.”

Sir Reginald walked over and placed something in Nova’s hand, saying, “I think now is the time to present this, Nova.”

Nova looked to see it was the bracelet he had made. He nodded and held it out to Nina.

“Here, Nina, a little gift for you,” he said. “A custom-made magical accessory. It’ll double your mana regeneration and increase the potency of your spells by 35%. I hope you’ll like it.”

Nina gingerly took the bracelet, eyes wide, “Nova, where did you get something like this?”

“I didn’t buy it… I made it.”

Nina looked at him, shocked, “You… made this for me? Oh, Nova, thank you. I love it. I take it the skill you picked up was accessory crafting, right? You did a fine job on this.” She placed it on her right wrist, where it fit comfortably, “Thank you, Nova. You must’ve worked hard on this. I love it. And I love you.”

The two then locked lips, giving each other a tender kiss. The crowd cheered as this event occurred, making the rest of the party chuckle lightly. The newly minted couple soon broke apart, looking at each other lovingly.

“You truly are the best thing to ever happen to me, Nova. Thank you for blessing my life with your presence and kindness. I’ll stand by you forever. Through hell and high water, I’ll remain by your side.”

Nova gained a warm smile, “Thank you, Nina. Thanks to you I finally got a happy ending out of a situation where I’d normally be defeated brutally. If the universe was conspiring against me when it came to this scenario, thanks to you I finally won. I doubt it’ll be the end of my suffering but at least I finally got a win against the universe that takes such delight in torturing me. Thank you, Nina.”

King Falkner said, “While I’m not sure what you mean by the universe is conspiring against you I can say that you definitely earned Princess Nina’s love. Now, with this finally over let us return to the castle and celebrate. Hopefully father enjoys his new home in the dungeons, where he belongs. Come, let us return to the castle so we can celebrate this kingdom starting anew, along with your new relationship.”

The party nodded and followed King Falkner and the queen back to the castle. The people of the capital left the arena, happy to see the end of the tyrannical reign of King Fredric and the new reign of King Falkner. They all hoped that a new king it meant a new dawn for their kingdom.

Next Chapter: Eoleo Returns

That's all for today. All's well that ends well, I suppose. Will the duo's new relationship lead to better days? Tune in next time to find out.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language)

Eoleo Returns


It was the following day after the fateful duel and subsequent dethroning of a dangerous king. The heroic party was back on the road, now equipped with some new gear. Nova was now sporting a new longbow that seemed to be made of metal with a sturdy bowstring and various decals on it. Van had a new spear that had a mighty-looking spearhead and sturdy body that seemed to radiate Holy energies. Zeeker had new claws attached to his belt that had snake-like structure with hooked nails like snake fangs.

“It was nice of the locals to give us some discounts on new gear and items,” Angelo said cheerfully.

Zeeker replied, “Well, considering we ousted a tyrannical king who was leading the kingdom to self-destruction I’d be pretty grateful too if that happened. I can’t wait to try out my new King Cobra Claws on one of Muu’s baddies.”

Van chuckled, “Same here with my Holy Javelin. Plus, being a Holy element will make it extra potent on Muu’s Undead Army. What about you, Nova? Looking forward to using your new Assassin Longbow?”

Nova replied, “Yeah, but remember what I said when we met: ‘The weapon does not make the warrior, but the warrior holding the weapon’. Still, I will admit my old Redwood Longbow was starting to get worn out so it was probably time to replace it. I still kept it, though, so I have a back-up plan in case something happens to this Assassin Longbow, heaven’s forbid. Never hurts to have a back-up plan.”

Nina wrapped her arms around Nova’s left arm, purring, “I’m just glad all that chaos is behind us now. We both finally came to our senses and admitted our feelings for each other, Nova. I still feel kinda bad that I didn’t realize it sooner despite it being pretty obvious. Plus it led to all that chaos when Fredric got into the mix. I’m sorry, Nova. It should’ve been as clear as day to me considering how close we were with each other. Can you forgive me for unintentionally creating that whole mess because I didn’t realize the truth until it was almost too late?”

He replied, “Yes, Nina, I can. It wasn’t your fault. You didn’t realize it and I was too cowardly to admit it, though I had hoped that by giving you that bracelet it would help set the stage for me to come clean about how I felt. I’m just glad it all worked out in the end… somehow. And thanks to you I finally managed to score a win against the universe. I feel that the universe threw Prince… excuse me, King Falkner at me to brutally crush my spirit after stringing me along with how close we got. But the fact you defied all that and admitted you love me was the first time I’ve ever gotten such a victory over the universe trying to screw me over. And what a victory it is. Granted, I’m certain that the universe will throw a bowling ball to my face soon in retaliation for actually coming out on top for once but at least I get this moment to savor one triumph.”

Nina looked at him with loving eyes, “I hope that’s not the case, Nova, but I’m glad I could help you defy the universe and nab at least one win. Who knows? Maybe this victory has rid you of your curse?”

“I doubt it. One win isn’t enough to change my fate as the universe’s whipping boy.”

Kettu turned to him, “I dunno, Nova. If the universe was pretty determined to separate you and Nina, at least according to your theory, maybe her defiance did finally break your curse. Have you considered giving it a test now that something went right for you?”

Sir Reginald added, “Normally I’d be against it, as I’d rather not see you suffer any more than you’ve already have. But Kettu brings up an interesting point. Maybe you should give it a whirl, just to be sure.”

Nova gained a nervous expression before sighing, “I guess it can’t hurt. I highly doubt it but I guess one roll of the dice wouldn’t be too bad. Here goes something.” He cleared his throat and said, “I hope it doesn’t rain today.”

Everyone waited but to their surprise nothing happened. The weather remained bright and sunny.

Nina looked hopeful, “Nothing happened! Maybe your curse is broken.”

“Maybe…” Nova said. “Let me try something a bit more severe.” He took a deep breath before saying, “Gee, I hope no Undead Soldier appears and attacks me.”

Everyone waited but nothing happened again.

“This is looking good so far,” Van said.

“Try one more time,” Kettu said. “After all, things come in threes.”

Nova nodded, “Okay, one more shot.” He took another deep breath before saying, “I hope Dominic doesn’t show up and kidnap Nina from me.”

Everyone waited but nothing happened once more. Their eyes went wide in surprise.

Nova started to stumble, “I… I don’t believe it… My curse is broken… I tempted fate three times, each increasing in severity, and nothing happened. Did one victory over the universe’s attempts to screw me over time and time again actually put an end to my suffering? Did Nina… really succeed in her mission to break my curse? Has my status as the universe’s butt-monkey finally ended? Mind… overloading… emotions… going wild… brain… shutting down…”

He then fainted, requiring the party to catch him before hitting the ground.

“Looks like the shackles that kept him at the mercy of the universe have finally been broken,” Angelo said with a smile.

Zeeker nodded, “Indeed. And it’s all thanks to Nina, as she defied the universe on Nova’s behalf and earned him that much-needed victory. Looks like you succeeded in your task, Nina, as Nova is finally free from his misery at the universe’s hands.”

Nina smiled warmly, “I said I would find a way and indeed I did. Just wish it didn’t result in all that chaos but seeing how it ultimately freed Nova from the universe’s mercy I’ll take it. Now, I know how to wake him up.”

She then whispered something into his ear. Nova then started to chuckle.

“Nice try, Nina,” he said mirthfully, opening one eye. “You do that already so not like it’s any different than normal.”

She smirked, “Perhaps, but I might add a twist to the formula this time. But, hey, it worked in getting you back on your feet.”

Nova managed to stand, still feeling a be shaky but he gained a relieved smile.

“True, Nina, it did work,” he said. “And… you truly succeeded in your task in ridding me of my curse. I can’t believe one victory against the universe was all it took. A daunting task, I admit, but somehow you pulled it off. I’m very grateful for what you’ve done, Nina. For the first time in at least a decade I’m truly happy. Thank you.”

Kettu chuckled, “Yeah, and all it took
to accomplish it was forcefully going on an adventure in another world, fighting the very thing you’re afraid of, risking death at every turn, and getting challenged by love rivals every step of the way.”

“Sad but true, Kettu.”

Sir Reginald said, “Still, it does mean you can no longer weaponize it to punish our enemies. But it’s better this way, as I’d rather you not have to suffer than use your former status as a weapon against our enemies.”

“I consider that a fair trade, to be honest, especially after all the years I’ve suffered at fate’s hands. I’d rather be able to breathe a sigh of relief that lightning isn’t going to strike me at any given moment then weaponize it any further.”

“I kinda wonder who will take up the mantle as the universe’s butt-monkey now?” Van pondered.

“Hopefully Dominic,” Nina said bitterly. “Though I wouldn’t mind some of that heading Eoleo’s way, either. I pray to the Goddess that we don’t have to deal with him soon.”

Van’s ears twitched, causing him to turn the other way. Kettu and Zeeker’s ears also twitched and looked in the same direction. They could see what looked like a small but fast-moving whirlwind heading their way.

“Something tells me that the Goddess won’t give you that luxury today, Nina,” the Werefox said bitterly. “I recognize those footsteps. Our unwanted feline is heading our way.”

“Dammit…” Nina sighed. “Just when things were finally looking up.”

The party waited as the whirlwind got closer. After a bit the source of it could be seen, revealing it to be Eoleo, with Ian and Hunter chasing after him, though they were lagging behind due to their leader’s superior speed. Eoleo made a beeline for Nina, picking up speed in the process. However, just as he was about to stop Nova swiftly kicked his legs, sending him flying and crashing face-first in the dirt, his legs dangling over his head.

“Look what the cat dragged in,” Nova said dryly.

Eoleo sprang back onto his feet and turned to the party, his face covered in dirt. But they could clearly see the anger in his eyes. He stomped over to Nova before coming level with the pink-haired man.

“How DARE you do that to me, human!” he spat. “You continue to get in my way. Do you know how long it took me to be cured of that stupid petrification!?”

“Obviously not long enough,” the pink-haired man replied. “And just to rain on your parade further, furball, Nina and I are now an item, so you lost the race to her heart.”

Eoleo huffed, crossing his arms, “Yeah, right. Like she’d choose you over me.”

Nina walked over to Nova and hugged him, making the Werecat’s eyes widen.

“I’m afraid it’s true, Werecat,” she smirked. “Nova has won my heart and I’m now his happy and loyal girlfriend. Tough break, but you didn’t stand a chance. Even if that wasn’t the case, I cannot stand Werecats, as your very presence is causing my instincts to scream at me, telling me to burn you where you stand. So you never were in the running for my future husband. Nova and I are now an item and we’re quite happy with that arrangement. So you can butt out!”

Eoleo looked like he had just witnessed something horrible. His eyes were wide in shock, his face twisted in surprise, his jaw agape, his tail erect, and his body stiff. At that moment Ian and Hunter finally caught up. They quickly figured out what had just happened.

“See, Eoleo, we told you she’d hook up with someone else,” Ian stated.

“Yeah, especially considering that the Phoenix Clan and Werecats are enemies,” Hunter added. “Did you really think you had a chance in winning the heart of a member of the clan that despises our kind? You made us chase after her for nothing. Sheesh, you never listen.”

Eoleo recovered, snarling, “Shut up, you two!” He turned to Nova, “Pinkie pie, I suggest you back off and let a superior man take over from here if you know what’s good for you.”

Nova replied coldly, “In your dreams, you freaky feline. I won, that’s all there is to it. And nothing you do will change that. And if you dare hurt me Nina will come to hate you even more, so I highly suggest you run your catty caboose back to your den and stay there. You lost, simple as that. Not like you had a chance to begin with, given the hatred the Phoenix Clan has for your kind due to their natural instincts. Clearly you missed that lesson in kitten kindergarten otherwise you’d realize the truth. And if you don’t back down yourself I’ll give you more than just a petrified leg. Maybe turn you into a full-fledged lawn ornament.”

“I’d like to see you try, human!” Eoleo spat.

“Don’t tempt me! And I have a name! It’s Nova!”

“I don’t care! You’re just a lowly human and that’s all you’ll ever be!”

Nina suddenly axe kicked Eoleo on the head in anger. He stood there with a rather dopey expression before he fell to the ground, out cold.

“There, I just kicked you to the curb like the cat you are,” Nina huffed. “Let’s go gang before he wakes up, though given how thick his skull is I doubt we’ll get far enough away before he regains consciousness. You two!” she turned to Ian and Hunter, who froze in fear, “Make sure you drag your fearless leader back to your den and leave us alone! Got it?”

Ian and Hunter nodded, “Got it!”

The two Werecats grabbed the knocked-out Eoleo and started to make their way back toward the direction of their den. The party, in turn, continued heading onward, hoping to put as much distance between themselves and Eoleo as possible.

“The nerve of that fearless fool feline,” the Phoenix Clan woman huffed. “Can’t he take a hint? I may be a newly minted girlfriend but I’m quite happy with my man. I don’t need someone like him giving either Nova or me grief. Honestly, is he really that dumb: he doesn’t know the Phoenix Clan and Werecats are enemies?”

“Love can make you dumb and do dumb things,” Nova said. “That being said, in his case, it probably makes him even dumber. I doubt we’ve seen the last of Snap, Crackle, and Pop today though. Their fearless leader has a skull as dense and depleted uranium; even your powerful axe kicks won’t be enough to subdue him for long. We’re gonna need a different strategy if we’re to get rid of them, at least for now because I doubt he’ll give up that easily.”

Van scratched his chin before saying, “Well, using the Banish spell would be a good start. It banishes the target to a far-away location. Only problem is none of us can use it.”

Kettu replied, “Nova can. Remember, the Demon King Ring can allow the user to cast any spell or skill just by knowing the name of said spell or skill. Unlike the rest of us who need to study and learn magic and skills the hard way, the Demon King Ring provides the user a convenient cheat. After all, when Belzebuth designed the ring for his champions he knew that they would have trouble learning magic and skills the hard way while on the road in their attempt to defeat Muu. So Nova just needs to know the name of the spell he’s going to cast and presto! He can cast it without any trouble. I do suggest he use at least Demon Mode on it to ensure that it has enough kick to get that Werecat off our backs for a while.”

“Sounds like a plan to me,” Zeeker said.

Nova nodded, “Okay, sounds good. I’ve never used a form of teleportation magic before but it’s worth a shot if it gets that fleabag off our backs. I’m gonna change the setting now so he doesn’t suspect anything. Demon Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Demon Mode.

“Now we just need our prey to show up.”

“I’m counting on you, beloved,” Nina said.

A few minutes later they heard the familiar sound of Eoleo’s footsteps as he raced toward them. They all sighed but knew they had a plan ready for him. Soon Eoleo had caught up to them, with Ian and Hunter struggling to keep up.

“Leave. Me. Alone. Eoleo.”

“Not until you marry me and become my pack’s queen,” Eoleo said stubbornly.

“Your grasp on logic is terrible, Eoleo,” Nova snarked. “How would you leave Nina alone if she married you? You need a lesson in basic logic and common sense, furball.”

“You stay out of this, human! It should be totally obvious who’s the superior one between you and me.”

Sir Reginald snarled, “Yeah, we know. It’s Nova. So deal with it.”

Ian and Hunter finally caught up with their leader, panting heavily.

“Eoleo… just give it up…” Ian panted.

“Yeah… Nina wants nothing… to do with you… so stop chasing her…” Hunter said as he gasped for air.

“You should listen to your lackies, as they have a grip on reality, unlike you,” Van huffed. “And besides, Nina already made her choice in a man so you should just accept it and back off. If you care about her you’ll respect her decision and leave her alone.”

“I won’t allow a human to violate her!” Eoleo spat.

“Better a human than a Werecat,” Nina replied bitterly. “And, for the record, I’d be honored to make love with Nova and, eventually, bear him a child. Unlike you, who I wouldn’t let you hold my hand. So back off!”

Nova sighed, “This is getting us nowhere.” His eyes then gleamed, “But I know that a certain someone is going somewhere.” He started to channel energy into the Demon King Ring before pointing it at Eoleo and his Werecat allies, “Banish!”

Before Eoleo could retaliate he and his two allies vanished in a flurry of sparkles, leaving the party alone.

“There, I took the cat out with the trash. Hopefully that’s the last we see of him. For a while, anyway, as I know he’ll be back.”

“Where’d you banish him too, Nova?” Angelo asked.

“Back to his den since I don’t actually want him dead or anything. Although Nina might feel otherwise. But at least it’ll get him out of our hair for a bit, as he’ll have
to make quite the trip in order to catch up to us again. And by that point we’ll be further down the road, so if need be I can just use Banish again and send him right back to square one.”

Nina embraced Nova, giving her wings a flutter, saying, “Thank you, beloved, for getting rid of him. I’d rather him suffer some sort of cruel fate but that might be taking it too far. You always know how to make me happy. Unlike him you’re willing to bend over backwards for me. Is it any wonder I fell in love with you. Thank you.”

The two locked lips gently, making the party smile. After the newly minted couple broke apart the party resumed their mission. They knew that Eoleo would return one day but they had other priorities to focus on.

Next Chapter: Witching Hour

That's all for today. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, light violence, female nudity, attempted rape)

Witching Hour


It was the following day--after the party had another run-in with Eoleo. They were still making their way to the next town. Kettu was examining his notes as they traveled, matching them up with Sir Reginald’s map.

“Hmm… according to my notes, the next Undead Base is just south of the next town,” he said. “However, we’ll have to go through the infamous Deadwood Haunt Forest to get there. And don’t ask if we can go around it. Yes, we can, but Deadwood Haunt Forest is huge. Trying to travel around it would add a good three days to our trip at least. So the best route is through it.”

Nova asked, “Something tells me that this Deadwood Haunt Forest is, well, haunted. Right?”

Nina replied, “No one knows for sure. But there is a lot of strange phenomenon
often going on in there. Some say it’s haunted, others think there’s a witch in there, and a handful of others feel it’s cursed land. It’s not a desirable pathway either way, but Kettu is right: going around it would take way too much time. Considering our mission is to stop Muu once and for all we can’t afford to take any unnecessary detours unless it’ll benefit us in some form or another, like the Sacred Hot Spring. Besides, we don’t know when the Undead Army in that Undead Base will strike so we have to get to the next town before it gets attacked.”

“Joy…”

Angelo said cheerfully, “Whatever the reason for Deadwood Haunt Forest’s nature we will find out and put a stop to it.”

Sir Reginald quirked an eyebrow, “You sure are optimistic, Angelo. Not trying to throw dispersion on your optimism but it might not be as simple as that. No one knows what goes on in there: what could be causing all those issues could be anything. And even the best trained warriors can’t be prepared for everything. We should at least be cautious while we’re in there so we’re not taken by surprise.”

Kettu nodded, “For once I agree. Optimism is good and all, especially in our line of work, but you still need to exercise caution when dealing with something like Muu or an unknown threat.”

Nova gave a weak smile, “True, but let’s not get too pessimistic, either. A balance is key. We’ve weathered a lot up to this point so I do agree that, while we should be cautious with an unknown threat, we’ve pulled through each time, including against unknown threats like Skelesare. So we do have some leeway for optimism. Getting too optimistic is just asking to be knocked down a peg or two. But we’ve managed to accomplish a lot and can offer a little room for positivity. Even I know that and I’m no paragon of positivity, although I do admit I’ve gained a sizable chunk of that thanks to Nina. But let’s just keep going. The sooner we get through Deadwood Haunt Forest the better, as we’ve got more important things to prioritize.”

Angelo smiled, “That’s the way, Nova! Glad to see your relationship upgrade with Nina has given you some much-needed spark. You of all people deserved it. Now, let’s not waste any more time and get moving. Deadwood Haunt Forest, watch out!”

The party merely chuckled at Angelo’s enthusiasm and continued down the road. They eventually came to a stop just before a large forest. Deadwood Haunt Forest lived up to its name, being a huge, creepy forest composed of mostly dead trees. They was a light fog weaving its way through the decrepit branches of the forest with the occasional caw of a crow.

Nova shrugged, “Well, at least the forest lives up to its title. Next thing you know there will be a place called the ‘Canyon of Doom and Agony’ or someplace called ‘the Black Gorge’.”

Nina gained a playful smirk, “Actually, Nova, there is a place called Canyon of Doom and Agony. Thankfully it’s in Muu’s territory so we don’t have to deal with it. Yet. But it does exist.”

“Why am I not surprised?” the pink-haired man said dryly.

Van chuckled, “Well, either way, let’s proceed. But with caution, as we don’t know what lies in that forest.”

The party nodded and ventured into Deadwood Haunt Forest. The fog was fine and wispy, making it easy enough to see through the dilapidated forest. There didn’t seem to be any monsters either, just the occasional wildlife like birds and deer.

Nina took a moment to observe the surrounding area, saying, “This light fog… it’s magical, I can tell. And it’s not natural magical fog. No, something or someone put this fog here. This fog is also repelling monsters, that’s why it’s so quiet in here. I’m beginning to think that this forest’s reputation is caused by a witch, as stuff like magical fog is part of their specialty.”

“If so, why would a witch set up shop here?” Zeeker asked.

Angelo said sadly, “Maybe she’s all alone with no home so she uses this forest and the fog to give herself at least someplace to call her own. Ooh, such tragedy at the thought.”

“A little much on the melodrama there, Angelo,” Kettu replied dryly.

“Now, now, let’s not ruffle anyone,” Nova said. “But Zeeker has a point: if there is a witch here then why would she use this forest as her base? And is she the cause of this forest’s reputation or is she taking advantage of previously established notoriety for her own gains? That’s what I want to know.”

“Those are some good questions,” Van pondered.

Suddenly, the fog got thicker, startling the party. Then they heard what sounded like a playful giggle. They all got into a battle-ready pose, trying to pinpoint the sound of the giggle.

“Looks like we may find out soon enough,” Sir Reginald said.

A voice floated through the fog, “Foolish little warriors. You cannot hope to match wits with the likes of me. Your swords and knives are useless against my magical might. Oh? What do we have here? A cute young man with pink hair? That’s a new one. Mmm. I think I found myself a playmate.”

Nina got defensive, “You will not touch my man!”

“Your man? Since when does a Phoenix Clan member care about another race? Your kind are so high-and-mighty and are always fretting about keeping their blood pure. I’m surprised that any member of your clan would want anything to do with a human.”

Nina quivered with anger, “I don’t deny that. My fellow clan members are a bunch of sexist, moronic idiots who can’t see that we’re leading ourselves to a slow extinction for incredibly stupid reasons. But that’s why I take pride in being different. I take pride in my relationship with Nova. And will NOT let anyone snatch him away, be it witch, woman, or even a goddess!”

The voice giggled, “Let’s see you try.”

Angelo stepped up, “Please, my witchy friend, we are no threat to you. I know you are not truly evil nor are you causing problems for others out of malice. I can tell you’re just a lonely young woman crying for help. Please, lift this fog and allow us to see you so we can help you.”

The voice went dead silent, surprising everyone.

“Wait…” Zeeker said. “Don’t tell me what Angelo said is true.”

The voice wailed, “Why?! Why would you care!? Why would anyone care!? I’m just a stupid witch! Everyone hates witches! That’s it! Take this!”

Suddenly, Nova vanished from the spot, alarming Nina. Then the fog got lighter, allowing the party to see. Only for them to now see monsters glaring at them.

“Go away! I’ve claimed my prize! Now leave my forest! Monsters, attack!”

The monsters lunged at the party, who quickly retaliated. The party hacked, slashed, and blasted the various monsters until the last one was slain. Nina looked around franticly for Nova.

“Nova!” she cried out. “If you can hear me, say something! Anything! Please! I can’t lose you now! Not when we just got minted as a couple!”

Angelo turned to her, “Nina, please, calm down. I have an idea on how to find our missing comrade and our wayward witch.”

Sir Reginald quirked an eyebrow, “You do? How?”

“I have my methods, my good knight. Observe.”

He closed his eyes and concentrated, as if trying to scan the forest. After a minute he opened his eyes and pointed toward the southeast.

“That way. The source of the fog is coming from that direction. In case you’re wondering as a member of the Hopper Clan I can sense water in things like fog, steam, and mist, even if it’s magical. That allows me to track the source of it and grants easier navigation through areas that contain fog and the like. Come, let us pursue so we can save our friend’s virginity and help this distressed witch.”

He quickly ran in the direction he was pointing at. The party quickly followed after him, puzzled and amazed at Angelo. It didn’t take long before they emerged from the fog and into what looked like a campsite. There was a magical object that looked like a humidifier producing the magical fog near where they were standing.

“That’s a Myst Maker,” Kettu said. “A rare piece of magical machinery that can produce magical fog and mist for various purposes.”

Nina then saw a tent and could hear a female voice cooing. She quickly ran over to it and opened the flap angrily. There was a young woman, completely naked, sitting on top of Nova, who had his hands and legs tied up and his mouth gagged. The woman had long red hair that reached her thighs, baby blue eyes, short pointed ears, fair skin, an ample chest, narrow waist, average-width hips, and long, lean legs.

“Hands off my man!” Nina roared.

The witch, although surprised, stood up angrily, not bothering to cover up.

“Not on your life, chicken wings!” she cried. “He’s mine now! So go away! I’m surprised you even found me.”

Nina was about to pounce before Angelo grabbed her shoulder, stopping her.

“Hold it, Nina,” he said soothingly. “Let’s not start any violence. This young witch is just lonely and looking for a companion. Let’s talk this out. No need for fists, weapons, and magic.” He turned to the witch, “What is your name, my lady?”

The witch, although surprised, merely huffed, still not bothering to cover up, “It’s Joy, but my life if devoid of that element. I’m an outcast even among my fellow witches and warlocks in the Magic Clan.”

“And why is that?”

“I’m not as powerful as other witches and warlocks my age. Magical power is everything in the Magic Clan, but I was sadly born with less than normal. I struggled to learn magic. It’s not that I didn’t have potential but I was cast out because I couldn’t keep up with the rest of my clan, as anyone who starts falling behind is not worth training. I have no home, no friends, and no cute boys to play with. All because I’m a witch with limited powers. That’s why I took residence in this forest, as it already had a reputation for strange things, and that’s why I use a Myst Maker so I can conceal my pitiful camp that I call a home. I play tricks and pranks on anyone who comes into this forest as a means of passing the time and venting my frustration at being rejected. The Magic Clan as a whole is treated with caution due to our more… questionable practices, but the world threw me away. So, I live here, alone, with no purpose other than to use what magic I have to mess with people.”

Angelo gave a small smile, “I knew you weren’t malevolent nor causing problems for people out of malice. You’re just a lonely young woman seeking companionship and respect. You are angry at the world for rejecting you but you don’t actually hurt anyone with your magic. You shouldn’t have to live in anger and fear, Joy, because it’s causing you to close off your heart. You need to let others into your heart so you can shed yourself of your negative emotions and be free. Let us help you, Joy.”

Joy looked dumbfounded, her arms dropping to her sides, eyes wide as saucers. The rest of the party was also surprised at Angelo, as it was clear he had the whole situation under control now.

“Y-You want to help me?” Joy asked, clearly surprised. “Even after… I sent monsters after you and kidnapped this pink-haired cutie? Why?”

“Because we want to help you. We know you’re not evil, thus we have no reason to hurt you. I don’t believe there are any truly bad people in the world, only bad hearts and weak people who can fall victim to the whims of evil. One such example of a bad heart is Dominic, a recurring problem of ours. But I know you don’t have a bad heart, Joy. You just need someone to guide you and give you a chance so your weak heart can become truly strong. Give us a chance, Joy, as we could be those very people who can help you reach your true potential and give you what you crave.”

Joy looked at Angelo, completely stunned by his words. Tears started to form in her eyes before she started crying. She ran into Angelo’s arms, sobbing her heart out, allowing the frogman to gently hold her. The party was deeply moved by this turn of events, smiling warmly as the rejected witch wept in Angelo’s arms. Nina took the opportunity to untie Nova, who looked at her with loving eyes.

“Are you okay, Nova?” she asked.

“Yeah, I am,” he replied. “Nothing damaged or anything, including my virginity. But I must admit I’m both surprised and pleased to see this shocking turn of events. Joy was never truly evil; she was just desperate and lonely, having been rejected by the world for things out of her control. I know that feeling all too well. While I’d be lying if I’d say I didn’t enjoy the ‘show’ she was giving me, despite my discomfort, you’re the only woman for me, Nina. I’m just glad Angelo figured out a way to defuse this whole situation peacefully.”

She nodded, “Yeah, me too. And while I’m a bit miffed that you got to see another woman other than me naked, especially since we’re a newly minted couple, I’m just glad you’re okay. And I appreciate your loyalty to me, as you’re the first person whose ever shown me what loyalty feels like. Hopefully we can figure something out so Joy doesn’t have to live here, alone and miserable.”

After a while Joy had cried to the point she could no longer shed tears, still in Angelo’s arms. When she had finally calmed down she broke away from the frogman, entered the tent, got dressed, and walked out, revealing her outfit to be a skimpy blue leotard that showed off a lot of her breasts, with matching gloves, high-heeled boots, and was holding a magical staff.

“I’m… I’m sorry…” she said. “I truly don’t mean any harm; I’ve just been lashing out at everyone because I was rejected by the world. I’m very lonely and desperate for any kind of positive attention. Please, forgive me.”

Sir Reginald said, “We’ll let you off the hook this time, Joy, as it was clear you didn’t have any malevolent intentions. But you should be more careful who you provoke, as we’re not run-of-the-mill warriors. Consider yourself lucky that Angelo defused the whole situation peacefully and that we’re not the vengeful type. It’s Nova and Nina in particular you should be apologizing to.”

Joy turned to Nova and Nina, “I’m truly sorry for what I did. Or almost did. I guess I was jealous that you had such a cute boyfriend, Nina. Not to mention you’re quite the bombshell. I never knew that a Phoenix Clan member would even consider a partner from another race as a lover. Please, forgive me.”

Nina gave a heavy sigh, “I’ll let it go this time, Joy, since you weren’t able to succeed in your ‘mission’. But Nova is my man, and I won’t take kindly to anyone trying to take him away from me. And I don’t deny my clan’s stupidity when it comes to marrying. All that talk about purity of blood and preserving our powers is pointless, as our efforts to keep our blood pure could very easily result in inbreeding and potentially sterilization, leading to my clan’s slow extinction. I don’t mind diluting my bloodline if it means I can have a loving husband, and Nova means the world to me, as you’re not the only one who was rejected by your clan. I was, too, although for different reasons. But Nova came into my life and saved me from several terrible fates, resulting in me falling in love with him. So while I’ll let you off the hook this time, don’t try it again!”

“Thank you, and I’m sorry.” Joy then turned to Angelo, “But what should I do now? I don’t want to keep living in this decrepit forest but I don’t know of anywhere that would accept me.”

Angelo pondered for a moment before saying, “I have an idea. Go to Fort Aquatica, my home. Let me prepare something for you.”

He began to concentrate, holding out his hand. A scroll then appeared and fell into his palm. He handed it over to Joy.

“Here, give this Spirit Message to my family, the Royal Family. It’ll explain everything to them. Do you know how to get to Fort Aquatica?”

Joy took the Spirit message, looking surprised, “Y-You’re going to ask your family to take me in? Or at least have your kingdom take me in? For real? Why would you be willing to do something like that for a pitiful witch like me?”

“You deserve a chance, Joy, and I want to help grant it. There is a small condition you have to follow, which is detailed in that Spirit Message, but other than that I want my home to become your home, too.”

“What’s the condition?”

“Fort Aquatica was once attacked by Muu’s forces, but my fine friends and myself defeated them. I want you to not only help protect it but teach my knights magic, as the Hopper Clan struggles a bit in magic. Especially when it comes to learning other elements outside of Water and Ice. I have confidence you can do it. Do that and I’m certain father will give you a chance. And I’m sure my little sister, Cassidy, could use a friend to hang out with.”

Joy gained a warm smile, “Thank you, Angelo. I’ll do my best. In fact, let me give you a little something as thanks.”

She held out her staff and pointed it at Angelo. She closed her eyes and concentrated. What looked like magical energy emerged from the orb on top of her staff and entered Angelo’s chest, causing a glowing aura to form around him. After a couple of minutes she stopped, ending the magical energy flow, and opened her eyes.

“There. As a little thank you gift, I’ve given you three new spells: Dark Strike, Thunder, and Seed Machinegun. They’re not very powerful, only Level One spells, but they’re other elements outside of Water and Ice. This should open the door for you to gain other types of magic. It also increased your natural mana levels in the process, giving you more mana energy and increasing your natural mana regeneration. And I know where Fort Aquatica is. There aren’t very many fortress sitting in the middle of a large lake. Plus I traveled through that area once in the past, after being exiled by the Magic Clan. Thank you again, Angelo, and all of you, for giving me the chance I’ve been desperately craving. I won’t let you down and I promise to repay you somehow. Thank you again.”

She then used magic to make all her belongings disappear, then used her staff like a witch’s broom so she can fly.

“One last thing, Angelo.”

She planted a kiss on his head, making Angelo delighted. She gave a flirty wave before taking off into the sky, heading for Fort Aquatica, the Spirit Message in her hand.

Nova gave a smile, “You did good, Angelo. You really showed your chops today. Not many could’ve defused that situation as well as you did, yet you managed to get it completely under control with just your words and your heart. And it looks like you may have a new admirer now. Now, let’s get out of this forest before something else happens. I’ve had enough magical mishaps for one day.”

Nina grabbed his arm, saying, “And I’m not gonna let you go again so no one can snatch you away from me.”

“Yeah, about that. I’ve been wondering something. I was considered undesirable at best in the eyes of women back on Earth. Yet you, Chloe, and now Joy all found me appealing to the point of being willing to fight over me. What exactly happened that turned me into from the bottom-of-the-barrel to Mr. Desirable? Are people’s standards here lower or did I somehow get better looking?”

Zeeker chuckled, “That’s a riddle for the ages, Nova. But I will say standards here aren’t lower than on Earth, that’s for sure.”

Nina nodded, “I agree. If I had to guess I’d say it was a combination of the universe trying to keep you from succeeding and women back on Earth not giving you a chance, not realizing what a good man you are. Plus, ever since you came to this world you’ve been doing a lot of self-improvement, like shedding your cowardice and perversions. That’s a very desirable quality: being willing to address and fix your flaws. But it doesn’t matter because you’re mine and I’m yours. Though it appears I may have to show you the goods to ensure you stay with me. And so I can prove I’m better built than Joy is.”

Nova chuckled lightly, “You proved that long ago, Nina. Even Joy admitted you’re better built than her.” He then whispered to her, “Besides, you show me the goods every night at any inn, so you don’t have to worry about that”. He then said aloud, “But enough of this, let’s just get out of here before something else happens.”

The party nodded and retraced their steps back to the main road. Angelo took one last look at the clearing where Joy had set up her camp, smiling.

“I’ll be seeing you again, Joy,” he said. “But first I must vanquish Muu so people like you can live happy and joyous lives. For now, wait for me back at Fort Aquatica. I will return home one day, so please be happy until then, my magical maiden.”

Next Chapter: Disastrous Dominic Strikes Again

That's all for today. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild violence, mild language)

Disastrous Dominic Strikes Again


It had been a few days since the party had gotten through Deadwood Haunt Forest and helped the wayward witch Joy. They had made it to the next town but were trapped inside the inn due to the rain again. They were sitting around one of the tables in the dining hall of the inn, discussing their next plan.

Kettu examined his notes, “Well, this new Undead Base is going to be an interesting one. It’s led by General Skullmeister, one of Muu’s lower ranked Generals but a General, nonetheless. His base is not the same as past ones we’ve deal with, which were more like forts. This one is a genuine base, one with multiple rooms and everything. This one requires a more stealthy approach, as a simple head-on charge won’t do us any good. The good news is that there is an opening in the basement where we can sneak in. The better news is that, once again, it’s near a fresh water lake, so we can use Angelo’s frog form to sneak in from behind and enter from there. The bad news is that there are a lot more Undead Soldiers this time around. Roughly 200, if my notes are still accurate. That’s not including the big bone boss himself, who is still a tough cookie despite being on the lower end of the General pecking order.”

Nova asked, “Since most Undead Captains and Generals, save for the ones powered by fallen souls, tend to have elemental weaknesses, does this General possess at least one, Kettu?”

Kettu nodded, “Yes. He does have two key weaknesses that we can exploit: Lightning and Wood. Van, I, and now Angelo can exploit his weakness to Wood while Nina and Angelo can use Lightning magic to great effect. Your Dragon Strike will also be very effective here, seeing how it seems to be your signature move. This would also be a good chance to give Thundervolt some exercise, as his Lightning element would be a huge boon to our plans. Elora will still be useful in dealing with the bread and butter Undead Soldiers despite the fact there are more of them this time. I should also mention that we do need to be careful of the current in the lake, as part of it leads toward a waterfall. So we need to steer clear of that.”

Angelo smiled, “Not to worry, my fox friend, as I’m a strong swimmer in my frog form. I can even climb waterfalls. Granted, it takes a lot of energy to do so but I can at least fight against such currents with relative ease. Even if I’m carrying all of you I can still fight currents like that without much issue.”

Sir Reginald smiled, “That’s very reassuring to hear, Angelo. Now we don’t need to worry about accidentally getting caught up in a rapid current and down a waterfall.”

Nova scratched his chin, “I wonder why some Undead Bases are near water sources? I though Undead and water didn’t mix.”

Kettu explained, “Yes, that’s true, especially deep water. But the reason why some Undead Bases are located near water is to limit the possible number of directions that they can be attacked. There are only two aquatic-based clans in this world: the Hopper Clan and Ningyo Clan, or merfolk. However, the Ningyo Clan mostly lives out at sea, although I’ve heard of a few fresh water Ningyo sub-breeds exist, which leaves the Hopper Clan as the only true threat via water. But, as we saw before, the Hopper Clan aren’t the most standout fighters. They’re good, don’t get me wrong, but they’re lacking in magic, which can make or break a battle in many cases. They do have magic, but it’s rather low compared to other clans, especially ones like elves, the Phoenix Clan, Centaurs, and the Magic Clan, as raw physical strength can only get you so far. So setting up bases near water sources makes it harder for enemies to get the drop on them from behind, especially since boats are impractical at best.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “He’s correct. And we should consider ourselves grateful that we do have an aquatic specialist in our ranks, as we can exploit that blind spot to our advantage. Now, with that lesson taken care of, let’s continue planning out our strategy.”

Nina pondered, “I wonder if this base will have booby traps? If it’s large enough it might have the space needed for at least a handful of them.”

Kettu replied, “I didn’t see any the last time I was there but it’s been a long time since I’ve been at that base. It’s possible they could’ve beefed up security because of our interference. Best keep that possibility tucked away in the back of our minds, just in case, and we’ll see when we get there. We’ll factor that into our strategy then and there if there are some.”

The party nodded and resumed mapping out their plans. After about an hour they started to pack up all their notes and strategies.

“I think we’ve got ourselves a good plan,” Sir Reginald said. “We left extra room in it for any changes, such as the addition of booby traps and some surprise variables. Overall, we worked out a pretty solid strategy.”

“It’s definitely a good foundation, but we must remember that the best laid plans don’t always go accordingly,” Van said. “We’ve been lucky so far with our plans. Muu is not only using captured souls to replace the Undead Captains and Generals he’s lost, but by now Muu’s realize that we’re a lot tougher and smarter than he originally thought. Things are going to start getting serious now. He may try to mix things up a bit to catch us off-guard, as he may be a coward, but he isn’t stupid. There’s a reason why this war with Muu has gone on for 3,000+ years, after all, and not just because of his cowardice.”

Zeeker nodded, “That’s a fair assessment, Van. Remember those friends of mine who dealt some major damage to Muu’s forces before he sicced General Vertebreak on them? That’s a good example of Muu using his decaying brain to great effect. He underestimated that group initially, costing him a lot, but when he sent out General Vertebreak to squash that resistance, well, let’s just say General Vertebreak delivered big time. Muu does have the weakness of underestimating his opponents at first, but when he does wise up, he does so to a spectacular degree. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up sending General Vertebreak on us eventually, as there’s only so much damage we can do before Muu decides to go all-out on an enemy. We’d best keep that in mind, as it’s only a matter of time before Muu gets frustrated enough to send out his top Undead General after a threat like us.”

“Yeah, I can definitely see that happening,” Nova sighed. “And I’m not looking forward to it.”

Nina gave him a small smile, “We’ll manage. We’ve succeeded in every endeavor we’ve done so far; I know we’ll figure out a way to pull through again. Try to have a little faith, beloved. You could very well be the one to end all this. You’re an unorthodox champion, I won’t deny that, but you’ve proven effective. Now, let’s spend some time doing something to take our minds off the gloom and doom of a looming battle.”

Kettu asked, “Hey, Nova, still got that deck of cards? Mind if we play a few rounds?”

Nova took the deck of cards out of his Digi-Pack, “Go right ahead. I’m gonna try to get some more magical accessory crafting done. I worked hard to pick up the skill, might as well use it, right? Do you want to assist me, Nina?”

She smiled, “Gladly. And, for the record, I’m still loving this bracelet you made for me. I even noticed the engraving in it. Thank you, Nova. Now, let’s go and see what new accessory ideas we can come up with. A Blitz original special.”

The pink-haired man chuckled lightly as he and Nina got up and returned to their inn room. Nova took out the crafting kit and several crafting materials and the two of them started to work on new ideas for magical accessories. The rest of the party took out the cards and started to play a few rounds, taking their minds off the threat that lay ahead. Little did they know that a dark shadow was looming, waiting for them just outside of town.

The following day was bright and sunny, with no traces of yesterday’s rain except for the wet grass. The party had their breakfast and started to head for the location where the Undead Base was.

“I finally found you!” a familiar voice spat.

“Oh, good God, not now…” Nova groaned.

Everyone turned to see Dominic march up to them.

“He really is like a rash that won’t go away no matter how much ointment you use on him…” Kettu grumbled.

Just before Dominic could get into Nova’s face Van launched a strong kick with his hind leg, nailing Dominic in the crotch, causing him to cry out in pain, crumpling to the ground, clutching his loins.

“We don’t have time for you, Domi,” Nova said. “We’ve got more important stuff to do, like saving the world. So just turn around and walk away. Or I could just use the Banish spell to send you far away. It’s your choice.”

Dominic growled through gritted teeth, still in pain, “You won’t be so cocky when I prove you to be a fraud, you pink rat!”

Van kicked him in the head, sending him flat on his back, huffing, “Tell that to all the good deeds Nova has done. The people love him, sans a handful of exceptions, because he is actually working hard for our sakes. Unlike you, who tries to mooch off of others so you can steal the credit to make yourself look big. Now leave us alone, as we’ve got a date with an Undead General.”

The party gave Dominic a cold look before moving on. Although dazed, Dominic clutched his fists, seething with anger.

“We’ll see about that,” he growled.

About an hour later the party had arrived at the large lake. On the other side was the Undead Base. The base was, indeed, much larger, consisting of at least two stories, armed with a barricade and weapons in the front, but the rear, which faced the lake, was completely exposed.

Angelo proudly marched up, “Leave this next part to me, my friends.”

He waded into the water before transforming into his giant frog form. Everyone got onto his back except Nina, who merely hovered next to him. Angelo began swimming toward the Undead Base, Nina following him, her toes and plumes gently scraping the lake’s surface as she flew. After a short trip Angelo came to a stop.

“My friends, we are approaching the spot where the current picks up, leading toward the waterfall. Make sure you don’t fall off, as I may get a bit shaky while swimming through those currents.”

The party nodded and braced themselves more steadily on Angelo’s back. Angelo started to swim again, heading through the current, Nina following closely behind. They could feel the water flow getting strong but Angelo remained steady. After a few tense seconds they made it to more stable water.

“Okay, the worst part is over,” Angelo said. “Now you can relax.”

A voice yelled, “YOU WON’T GET AWAY FROM ME!!!”

Everyone gave exasperated sighs as they turned to see Dominic swimming toward them.

“I’m surprised those muscles of his don’t make him sink,” Zeeker said.

“They’re probably inflatables, just like his ego, so they can help him float,” Nova replied dryly.

However, as soon as Dominic reached the section of the lake where the current picked up he was instantly swept away. When he realized that the water flow was taking him to a waterfall it was too late, as he cascaded down the rather large waterfall, screaming like a little girl.

“Well… that was convenient,” Sir Reginald said.

“Don’t count on it,” Nina replied. “That won’t stop him, at least not for long. Credit where it’s due, he doesn’t give up easily. But let’s go before he does come back.”

Nodding Angelo quickly swam toward the rear of the Undead Base, Nina flying alongside him. They maintained a low profile as they approached the base, moving very slowly. Before long they found the opening near the basement of the Undead Base. Everyone climbed off Angelo, allowing him to transform back to normal, and clambered out of the water while Nina gently landed next to them. The party cautiously examined the entrance, checking for any threats. When they saw no enemies or booby traps, Van pried the opening further, allowing them to enter.

Inside the base it was dark, cold, and wet, with only a few lights scattered about. The party slowly made their way deeper into the base. They eventually came to a door. Sir Reginald and Van pulled it open, revealing another hallway.

“This is too easy,” Kettu observed. “Even when I was here last time it wasn’t this easy to sneak into the base.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “I agree. Something doesn’t feel right.”

A voice then panted, “I… finally… caught up… to you… losers…”

Everyone gave heavy sighs as they turned to see Dominic walk up to them, panting, soaking wet, and covered in waterweeds.

“Like I said, credit where it’s due, he doesn’t give up easily,” Nina groaned.

Dominic spat, “I demand you let me take the lead! I am superior to each and every one of you so you will do as I say!”

Sir Reginald glared at him, “There are several issues with that statement, as none of your claims are true, Dominic. Besides, I’m in charge of this operation, so if you’re gonna insist on tagging along, you listen to MY orders!”

Nova turned to Sir Reginald, saying, “Hold it, Sir Reginald. Let’s not get too hot under the collar right now, as it may alert the enemy to our presence.” He turned to Dominic, “You want to lead? Fine. You go first if you’re that insistent.”

Dominic drew his sword, smirking, “Finally you’ve come to your senses, pink boy. Stand aside and watch a REAL warrior go to work.”

He started to march into the base. Everyone turned to Nova.

“Nova!” Sir Reginald snapped. “Why’d you let him go first?! You may be second-in-command but you can’t be doing stuff like this! So why?!”

Nova replied in a sly tone, “Because, Sir Reginald, when one is expecting booby traps…”

Suddenly, the sound of several booby traps being set off could be heard. Dominic screamed in pain and fear, which only seemed to cause more traps to go off. Finally, after a minute of this Dominic’s scream could be heard, seemingly getting fainter, as if he was falling, before a thud could be heard.

“…always send the boob in first.”

Everyone went wide eyed at what just happened before they all broke into laughing fits, still trying to keep their voices down. After a minute of laughing the party managed to regain their bearings, though they were still chuckling and giggling lightly.

“That was devious, Nova,” Kettu smirked. “I love it.”

Nina giggled. “And we finally found a way to make Dominic useful. I never thought that was possible. That was pure genius, Nova.”

Nova replied slyly, “Looks like Domi was a team player after all, as he paved the way for us to do our job AND removed himself from the equation all at once. That was very generous of him. We’ll have to say something really teary at the funeral in regards to his noble sacrifice. Now, let’s move before either those booby traps get reset or Dominic setting them off alerts our enemies to our presence. We must strike while the iron is hot and while Dominic is not.”

Nodding the party quickly entered the hallway where the booby traps were. They saw several different types of traps, ranging from automatic crossbows to beartraps to maces and finally a large trapdoor. They all briefly looked down the trapdoor to see Dominic struggling at the bottom with spikes surrounding him.

“A little help here?” he whimpered, clearly in pain.

“Thanks for disarming the traps, Dominic,” Nina smirked. “We’ll take things from here. You just kick back and relax on those spikes and leave the rest to us. Ta-ta.”

The party quickly scampered off, much to Dominic’s protests, still trying to dislodge himself from the spikes. They eventually came to what looked like the hold or a storage room full of crates. They took a moment to see what was in the crates. Inside the crates were various weapons and materials.

Kettu said, “We’ll have to leave the weapons as they have cursed energies. But I suggest we help ourselves to the materials rather than let them go to waste. Besides, Nova could use them to craft more magical accessories.”

The party quickly helped themselves to the various materials, storing them into Nova’s Digi-Pack before moving on. They eventually saw some Undead Soldiers walking around the base, seemingly on patrol.

“Now what should we do?” Zeeker asked.

Kettu replied, “Let’s head for the core of the base. Like all of them it’s powered by a Magna Crystal. Destroy it will take the base with it, which should take out at least several Undead Soldiers in the process. That’ll even the odds in our favor.”

“But how will we get out of the base before it blows up?” Nova asked. “Magna Crystals go kaboom in a matter of seconds when triggered, so how will we get out before it takes us with it?”

“We won’t blow it up like normally. Instead we’ll overload it with the control panel. That way we can get out of here before the base explodes. Follow me, as I know where the core is.”

Everyone slowly and stealthily followed Kettu, doing their best to avoid being detected. Eventually they came to the core of the base. There was a Magna Crystal being held by several machines.

Nova stepped up, “Leave this next part to me, as I know my way around machines.”

He began working on the central control panel that was attached to the Magna Crystal’s base. After a few tense minutes the Magna Crystal started to glow and hum.

“Okay, now we run!”

The party quickly bolted from the spot, running back to where they had entered. They ran past all the disarmed booby traps, leaving Dominic still trapped in the last one, and reached the outside as the base’s alarm went off. Angelo jumped into the water and turned into his giant frog form, allowing the party to clamber onto his back, with Nina flying next to him. He quickly swam out from underneath the base, Nina right beside him, and put as much distance as possible between them and the base. No more than a minute after having gotten into a safe range did the base explode, debris flying everywhere and Undead Soldier body parts scattering everywhere. After a tense few seconds the base was nothing more than rubble. Angelo swam over to the shore near the base and allowed everyone to climb off before transforming back, while Nina floated down to join her party.

“Did we destroy the Undead General in the process?” Zeeker asked.

Something then emerged from the rubble. It looked like a large skeleton coated in black tar-like sludge, with tattered clothes, glowing red eyes, and was wielding a claymore. His eyes flickered dangerously as he saw the party.

“You little cockroaches…” he snarled. “I don’t know how you got in and destroyed my base, taking all my men in the process, but I assure you I’ll return the favor by sending you to early graves! I, General Skullmeister, will avenge my fellow Undead Captains and General by slaying you!”

He started to charge toward the party, claymore held high. The party scattered to avoid his attack. Sir Reginald bit his thumb, causing it to bleed.

“Thundervolt, come forth!” he stated in a strong voice.

A summoning circle appeared, followed by flashes of lightning, and before long Thundervolt was standing next to Sir Reginald.

“So, you plan on using your Thunderclap Stallion to exploit my weakness to Lightning, knight boy?” Skullmeister growled. “It’ll take more than that to defeat me!”

Van was channeling energy, stating, “Oh, we have more than just that at our disposal! Observe! Petal Storm!”

Sharp rose petals appeared and slashed away at Skullmeister, making him roar in pain at the sudden attack.

Angelo started to charge up energy, “Now it’s my turn! Time to use the gift my little witch friend gave me! Seed Machinegun!”

He held out his hand, which produced a sphere of light, and suddenly a barrage of hard-shelled plant seeds was fired from it. The attack pummeled the Undead General, causing him to recoil as he tried to block the attack.

Nina started channeling energy, “Time for a shock to your system! Thunderbolt!”

A massive thunderbolt struck the Undead General, making him roar in agony. Thundervolt then charged toward the stunned enemy, coating himself in electricity before ramming him, causing heavy damage to the Undead General before retreating back to Sir Reginald to avoid retaliation.

Nova primed an arrow and took aim, stating, “Lucifer Mode!”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Lucifer Mode.

“Dragon Strike!”

He fired the arrow, which had become a massive electrified dragon. The archery skill struck the Undead General with a vengeance, ravaging his body with powerful electrical energy, making him scream. However, even that wasn’t enough to destroy the Undead General.

Skullmeister snarled, “You little worms. You vile little creatures. I’ll take great pleasure in ripping you limb from limb!”

He raised up his claymore before slamming it onto the ground, causing a massive shockwave to ripple toward the party. To his horror, however, the party merely jumped or flew over it.

“Thundervolt, finish him off!” Sir Reginald stated.

Thundervolt gave a loud neigh, which seemed to summon a thunderstorm above the Undead General’s head. A massive thunderbolt, even bigger than Nina’s spell, was fired from the clouds above, striking the Undead General. He screamed, twisted, and writhed in pain before his body exploded, destroying all traces of him, shattering his claymore in the process. After the storm had passed the party relaxed, knowing the battle was over.

Sir Reginald sheathed his sword, saying, “Well done, everybody. That’s another Undead General, his platoon, and an Undead Base destroyed. Even with Dominic’s interference we still managed to pull that off without much issue. Now the nearby village can breathe a sigh of relief knowing that General Skullmeister is dead.”

Angelo did a small dance, “Yes, we are victorious once again! That’ll rub Muu the wrong way for sure.”

Kettu said, “Let’s not get too comfortable: it may rub him the wrong way enough to send out a more powerful soldier like General Vertebreak. I’m not downplaying our victory but we need to be careful, as this could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back for Muu.”

Zeeker nodded, “Aye, that’s true. That’s exactly what happened to my friends a while back.
After they did enough damage Muu got fed up enough to send out General Vertebreak to deal with the resistance, and he did exactly that. So we’d best be prepared for Muu pulling the exact same thing on us, as by now he must be getting furious at our constant interference.”

Nina gave a weak smile, “Yes, we do need to watch our backs, as they’ve got targets on them. But at least we’re still making good progress. Now, let’s head back to the village to rest, as we’ve had enough excitement for one day.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Right. I’ll get us back there with Warp so we can take it easy.” He turned to his familiar, “Thanks for your help, Thundervolt. You were a huge asset, as always. To the Spirit Plane.”

Thundervolt gave a happy neigh before vanishing in a flurry of sparkles.

“Okay, if we’re all set, I’ll get us back to the previous village.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

“Warp!”

The party vanished from the area. They soon reappeared in front of the village where the villagers were waiting for them.

“What happened?” one man asked. “We saw a huge explosion by the lake. Was that the Undead Base?”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes. We have taken care of it and its occupants. You no longer need to worry about them coming after you, as General Skullmeister and his platoon have been vanquished.”

“Who are you people and how are you so strong?” a woman asked.

“We’re the Demon King’s champion party, so it’s our job to deal with Muu and his forces. We’ve successfully destroyed several Undead Captains and now two Undead Generals, along with destroying many Undead Bases. We’ve proven to be a very effective party, as each and every foe we’ve faced has fallen. Granted, we’re not getting cocky or anything, as Muu will eventually send out his stronger Generals in hopes of dealing with us, but we’ve made good progress so far.”

An older man said, “You lot certainly are brave. Not many would be willing to take on Muu and his army. And if you’ve done as much damage to his forces as you say you have then we’re grateful for your assistance. Now we can rest easy knowing that our village won’t become another casualty in this damn war with Muu.”

Nina gently brushed some hair out of her face, saying, “We’re glad to, especially if it ends this 3,000+ year nightmare our world has endured. Someone has to do it, and we’re willing to fight Muu so we can liberate Edyn from his decaying grip. It’s not an easy job but we’ve been managing just fine. Now, if you’ll excuse us, we’re exhausted from both destroying the base and fighting General Skullmeister, so we’d like to enter the village to rest.”

The villagers gladly allowed the party in, singing their praises. The party went to the inn to rest, happy at another victory.

Meanwhile, Dominic was still stuck in the booby trap, now buried under rubble alongwith everything else. He was seething mad.

“I won’t let you play me for a fool again, you pink-haired rat!” he roared. “Just you wait! I’ll prove to everyone you’re a fraud and that I’m the superior one! And then that Phoenix girl will be mine! I swear I’ll make you pay!”

Next Chapter: Monster in the Mirror

That's all for today. Leave it to Nova to drop a classic Beast Wars Megatron line when it comes to Dominic's "usefulness". Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence)

Monster in the Mirror


In a hidden location Muu was fuming at the loss of another member of his Undead Army. The undead imp acting as a messenger was fearing his master’s wrath as the colossal Undead King seethed with anger.

“That little rat and his misfit gang of buddies have been causing so much damage to my army!” Muu roared. “They must be stopped at once! But even Undead Captains powered by fallen souls have proven to be ineffective against them. I’m beginning to think Belzebuth actually planned this new champion well. Well, no more playing games. It’s time I end this once and for all! Tell me where they are heading or I’ll turn you into a smear on my throne room floor!”

The undead imp gulped, “Y-Yes Master Muu! According to our sources the party is heading for Mirrorstone Cavern.”

Muu’s eyes flickered, “Mirrorstone Cavern? Hmm… maybe there is a way to get rid of them without needing to risk another Undead Captain or General. There is that old legend about Mirrorstone Cavern… hmm… Send Captain Ghostwalker to that location. We need to get that legend to work in our favor so we can be finally rid of those pests.”

“Yes, Master Muu, right away!”

The undead imp scampered off to alert Captain Ghostwalker about his next mission. Muu leaned back in the shadows, chuckling.

“If Captain Ghostwalker can succeed in getting that old legend about Mirrorstone Cavern up and running then we stand a chance of removing those seven miscreants before they cause any more damage to my army. Soon, very soon, Belzebuth, I’ll make your newest chosen champion fall. And then I can proceed with my plans uninhibited.”

At the time the party had set up camp at a magical campsite. Nova was making dinner while the party waited eagerly for their meal. After a while Nova took a sample from the pot and tasted it.

“Hmm… yeah, I’d say we’re good to go,” he said. “The orange beef stir-fry is ready. Gather up.”

Everyone eagerly held out their plates, allowing Nova to serve them the food. After they had gotten their shares the party sat down and began eating the delicious meal.

“Mmm!” Nina purred. “Your cooking is always the best, and I grew up with royal chefs. Granted, I pretty much had the same, rather bland meals each day before running away, so that’s not exactly the highest bar to jump over, but your food is so much better.”

Nova chuckled, “Glad you like it. Now, where’s our next destination?”

Kettu finished his bite of food before replying, “We need to go through Mirrorstone Cavern to reach the city just beyond it. For some reason Mirrorstone Cavern is one of those places where monsters don’t gather, so it’ll be a relatively easy trip through it, though it does have a fair few twists and turns. The cavern is full of mirrorstones, a type of reflective ore with strange properties.”

Angelo asked, “Hey, isn’t there an old legend about Mirrorstone Cavern?”

Nina nodded, “Yes, although no one has proven if the legend is real or not. The old legend about it says that Mirrorstone Cavern acts as a gateway to another dimension: the Mirror Dimension, where strange phenomenon occur. If anyone gets stuck in the Mirror Dimension and can’t escape before sunset they will be trapped forevermore. But, like I said, no one has been able to prove if the legend is real or not, especially since that legend is a good 5,000 years old, which is older than the Great War itself.”

Zeeker shrugged, “Yeah, but considering that countless travelers can go through Mirrorstone Cavern and come back out without any trouble does prove that the legend is just hot air. Even you said no one has been able to prove if the legend is real or not.”

Nova replied, “True, but legends are based on facts, and it’s not like other dimensions are unheard of. Earth is in another dimension, this world is in another dimension, and the Netherworld is also its own dimension. So another dimension or even a pocket dimension isn’t farfetched. Maybe the Mirror Dimension does exist but it might be in a stasis, be disconnected, or something along those lines, hence why no one has seen or heard of it in quite some time. For all we know when Muu crossed into this world for the first time he caused more disruptions than just the time flow between our worlds.”

Sir Reginald said, “Those are all excellent points, Nova. It’s possible that the Mirror Dimension exists but Muu may have caused some other problems for this world when he first invaded, resulting in the existence of the Mirror Dimension to be lost or disconnected from our realm. So it’s very possible the legend is true but the Mirror Dimension is just inaccessible now thanks to Muu.”

Nina smiled, “Yeah, that makes sense. Muu ruined a lot for this world so it’s not a stretch to think that because of him the Mirror Dimension may have been disconnected from our world or something like that. Be interesting to know if the Mirror Dimension does exist. Though the idea of getting trapped in it doesn’t tickle my fancy, but it would be rather cool to know if the legend about the Mirror Dimension’s existence is true or not. But enough of that, let’s finish our dinner and head for bed, as tomorrow is another day.”

Nova chuckled lightly, “Or as Felix from an animated movie once said, ‘Smile, tomorrow could be worse’. Hopefully that’s not the case but given this crazy adventure anything is possible, so we’d better rest up while we can.”

“Very interesting quote there, Nova,” Van said with a crooked smile. “And yet, strangely, it makes perfect sense and is rather… wise, all things considering.”

The party resumed eating. Before long the food was gone and Nova and Nina washed the dishes before they all piled into bed.

Meanwhile, not far up ahead, a mysterious figure was roaming through a beautiful cavern filled with reflective ore that resembled almost otherworldly mirrors. He stopped at one of the largest mirror-like structures, chuckling.

“Thanks to Master Muu when he first came to this world 3,000 years ago the Mirror Dimension got cut off from this world,” the figure chuckled darkly. “Well, with a splinter of his power I will reconnect the two dimensions and make sure those lousy meddlers get trapped inside the Mirror Dimension forever.”

He threw what looked like a spike at the large chunk of ore. It struck the ore, nestling itself into it. This pitch caused the entire cavern to light up and the spike was swallowed up by the ore. This caused what looked like luminescent black holes to start forming in each chunk of the ore. After a few minutes the black holes vanished, returning the cavern to normal. But there was now a malevolent energy flowing through the mirrorstone ore.

“Mission accomplished. Now, Master Muu told me to hide in the lower part of the cavern to ensure that those seven insects get trapped in the Mirror Dimension and are unable to return before sunset tomorrow. Then, with Belzebuth’s party eliminated Master Muu can move on with his plans and retake the areas he lost thanks to those mismatched mongrels.”

It was the following morning. After a nice breakfast the party continued to make their way toward Mirrorstone Cavern. It didn’t take long before they reached the entrance.

Sir Reginald said, “Okay, everyone, stay close, as it’s easy to get lost in there. While there is really only one correct path through the cavern, it does possess a lot of side paths that can disorient oneself. So don’t wander.”

The party nodded and entered the cavern. Inside they were in awe at the beauty of the mirrorstone ore. They took a moment to check out the reflective nature of the ore and the cavern’s mysterious beauty.

“Man, this is cool!” Nova said.

Nina nodded, “I know, right? And so mysterious, too.”

Sir Reginald chuckled, “While I applaud you for finding this place pretty interesting, we should continue as planned. Like I said, stay close, as it’s easy to get lost in here.”

The party resumed their trek through the mysterious cavern. Little did they know that a pair of angry eyes was watching them from within the mirrorstones. As Nova passed by a certain, large chunk of ore a hand reached out from it and grabbed him by the back of his shirt collar. Before he could utter a word he was dragged into the mirrorstone and vanished. His disappearance didn’t go unnoticed by the party.

“Nova?” Nina asked. “Nova?! Where are you!?”

Angelo looked around, “We didn’t make any turns so he couldn’t have gotten lost already.”

Van then noticed something. He trotted over to the chunk of ore that Nova vanished into and his eyes widened.

“Uh… gang, I think I know where Nova is,” he gulped.

The party quickly ran over to him and gasped at what they saw. In the mirrorstone was a swirling black hole which rapidly closed as soon as the party saw it.

“No way…” Zeeker sputtered. “The Mirror Dimension… is real! He’s been pulled into the Mirror Dimension!”

“But by whom?” Kettu pondered. “Or what?”

Nina immediately tried to enter the mirrorstone but before she could the black hole vanished, preventing her from following. She started to pound away at the ore.

“Give Nova back!” she demanded. “Please!”

Sir Reginald placed a hand on her shoulder, “Calm down, Lady Nina. Let’s not panic. Let’s see if we can find another entrance to the Mirror Dimension in another chunk of mirrorstone, as this can’t be the only entrance. We’ll find him, don’t worry, so please, stay calm.”

Nina placed her forehead on the mirrorstone before replying, “Okay, but let’s hurry. If the legend is true we need to get him out of the Mirror Dimension before sunset otherwise he’ll be trapped in there forever.”

The party nodded and began searching for another possible entry point into the Mirror Dimension in the various chunks of mirrorstone.

Meanwhile, inside the Mirror Dimension, Nova was being held by the front of his shirt by a very surprising individual. The individual was an exact copy of himself, only he had a more mean expression, along with copies of the rest of the party.

“W-What do you want?” Nova asked, clearly stunned.

“You’re fighting Muu, correct?” his Mirror counterpart snarled.

“Yeah…”

“Then you have to help get rid of his essence here!”

Mirror Nina said in a timid voice, “Please, Nova, don’t be so harsh. Y-You should explain what happened to him first.”

Mirror Nova turned to her, “Be quiet, I was getting to that!”

“Yes, beloved…” the winged woman said meekly.

Mirror Nova turned to the regular Nova, “Here’s the deal. When Muu first came to Edyn he unintentionally disconnected this pocket dimension from it. This world is slowly dying as a result. However, a splinter of his malevolence was used to reestablish the connection between the two dimensions. However, it is now resulting in his essence corrupting our world. If it continues the Mirror Dimension will be destroyed. So you have to help us destroy the splinter of Muu that’s in here before it destroys us!”

Nova pried himself free, stating, “If that’s all you wanted you should’ve just told me before yanking me from Edyn. After all these strange phenomenon I’ve been exposed to since coming to Edyn I’m a lot more accepting to such events occurring. So, in short, you want me to destroy the essence of Muu that’s here and afterward you’ll return me to my party?”

Mirror Nova nodded, “Yes.”

“Fine, I accept. At least it’ll give me a preview of what to expect when I actually fight Muu himself later down the road. Show me the way, but let’s make it quick, as I’m certain my party is worried sick about me. Especially Nina.”

Mirror Nina said timidly, “So you will help us? Thank you.”

Mirror Sir Reginald stated, “Then let’s go. The sooner I can kill something the better.”

Mirror Kettu replied, “You shouldn’t be so violent, Sir Reginald. We need to use honor and justice on our side in order to champion the day.”

Mirror Van rubbed his arm, “Do we really have to fight? Fighting is wrong, all it does is hurt people.”

Mirror Zeeker said in a stoic tone, “There is no end to fighting, Van, as long as monsters exist. If we’re to survive we need to fight.”

Mirror Angelo huffed, “I just hope this inferior copy to our Nova can pull his weight.”

Nova was flabbergasted at what he just heard.

“They look the same as my party but their personalities are the complete opposite,” he said silently as he followed his Mirror counterpart. “I guess it makes sense, considering that this world is a mirror to Edyn. It’s still jarring as hell to see copies of the people I’ve come to trust be so different.”

After a few minutes the Mirror party and Nova stopped. Mirror Nova pointed up to the sky. Nova looked up and saw a black crystal floating above them, releasing malevolent energy that seemed to be corrupting the surrounding area.

“There, that’s the splinter of Muu’s evil essence,” Mirror Nova said. Got any ideas on how to deal with it?”

Nova took a moment to observe it before saying, “I think so. See that red spot on the crystal? The malevolent energy seems to be coming out of that. If we attack that part of the crystal it should destroy it. Let me test it first.” He loaded up an arrow and took aim, “Ifrit Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Ifrit Mode.

“Fire Shot!”

He launched the now-flaming arrow directly at the red spot on the crystal. It struck it dead in the center, causing the crystal to spark dangerously and, to everyone’s surprise, roar in pain.

“Looks like you were right, inferior copy,” Mirror Angelo huffed.

Mirror Nova turned to Mirror Nina, “Nina, go up there and fire a Mini Boom at that same spot!”

Mirror Nina nodded meekly, “Yes, beloved.”

She took flight and slowly approached the crackling crystal. She gulped as she started to channel energy into her rings.

“M-Mini Boom!”

She fired the condensed energy sphere at the red spot, causing the crystal to roar and writhe in agony, along with large cracks forming on it. It then lashed out an energy tendril at Mirror Nina, causing her to quickly fly back to the party and hide behind Mirror Nova.

“Stop being a chicken!” Mirror Nova snapped.

Nova growled, “Hey, take it easy on her! You can’t blame her for how she is! If you’re her boyfriend you should show her more compassion and not be so quick to giving her grief! A relationship is built on mutual trust. As someone who knows all about fear and how much it hurts you should be more tolerant to her fears instead of chewing her out about it. My Nina never gave me grief over my fears even when they hurt her, such as when we fought Captain Zomboni. You shouldn’t give your Nina grief because of her fears. Fear is mankind’s greatest weakness but it is a weakness that can be overcome if one tries hard enough. Be more encouraging to her instead of instilling more fear into her!”

Mirror Nina looked at Nova with grateful eyes, “Thank you for saying that.”

Mirror Nova huffed, “Yeah, I hear you. Let’s just get rid of Muu’s evil before you start giving me relationship advice. Got any other ideas on how to deal with it, as even Nina’s Mini Boom wasn’t enough.”

Nova nodded, “Yes. I think a combo skill will do the trick.”

Mirror Van looked confused, “A… combo skill? What’s that?”

“It’s two or more skills combined into a more powerful form. Mirror Nova, you fire Wind Cutter Arrow and I’ll shoot Fire Shot. The two will combine into a skill that my party has dubbed Missile Strike, which packs enough punch to easily destroy an Undead Captain powered by a fallen soul, and those type of Undead Captains are far stronger and more durable than standard ones.”

Mirror Nova’s eyes widened before nodding, “Fine. Let’s do this.”

Both Novas took aim at the damaged crystal that seemed to be lashing out at everything.

“Fire Shot!”

“Wind Cutter Arrow!”

Both Novas fired their respective attacks. The two arrows combined into one, becoming a flaming missile that rocketed toward the red spot on the crystal. The attack exploded with such a force upon impact that it instantly shattered the crystal like glass. The shards of Muu’s evil essence instantly disintegrated away to nothingness, causing the corruption it had already created to start to heal. Both Novas lowered their bows.

“Combo skills, huh?” Mirror Zeeker observed. “They certainly pack a huge punch. What other combos have you created?”

“Well, I combined my Wind Cutter Arrow with Angelo’s Flame Slash to create Firestorm Slash, then Nina combined her Lightning Burst with Chloe’s Bang to create Lightning Eruption, and then Van combined his Meteor Throw with my Dragon Strike to create Meteor Strike.” Nova said. “We’re still experimenting with other combo ideas but those three plus Missile Strike have proven just how powerful combo skills are.”

“Huh, we see,” Mirror Kettu said. “We may have to borrow that idea.”

“Be my guest. Now, with Muu’s evil gone you will return me to my party, as I’m certain they’re worried about me. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the one who put Muu’s evil essence in this world is still lurking around Mirrorstone Cavern.”

“That’s a fair assessment,” Mirror Sir Reginald said. “Especially since Muu seems like the type of foul cretin that would want to make sure his plan goes off without a hitch. Fine. Take your counterpart back to Edyn, Nova, before something happens to his party.”

Mirror Nova nodded, “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Come with me, other me. Let’s get you back to your group before something else happens. There are other gateways that we can access in order to catch up to your friends, so come with me.”

The two Novas left the group in order to find another gateway to track the party in Edyn. After a bit of searching they saw the party from their side, only to also see another figure with them.

“That’s an Undead Captain!” Nova said.

“So, I bet he’s the one who enacted Muu’s plan,” Mirror Nova pondered. “I’ll help you get rid of him as thanks for getting rid of Muu’s evil in our world. Let’s hurry.”

At the time the party was confronting the Undead Captain. He looked like a floating skeletal grim reaper wearing tattered black robes, glowing yellow eyes, and was wielding a scythe.

“What have you done to Nova!?” Nina spat.

The Undead Captain chuckled, “I’ve made sure he won’t cause my Master any more problems. But it appears you all didn’t fall into the same trap. Fine, I, Captain Ghostwalker, will eliminate you myself!”

Suddenly, a familiar voice said, “Not on your life, you bag of bones!”

Nina’s eyes lit up, “Nova!”

Everyone turned toward the direction of the voice, only to see two Novas standing side-by-side.

“Wait a minute!” Zeeker sputtered. “There are TWO Novas!?”

Captain Ghostwalker growled, “So, you managed to escape and you’re with your Mirror Dimension counterpart? Don’t tell me you destroyed Master Muu’s essence in the Mirror Dimension!?”

Both Novas nodded, saying in unison, “We made sure he went out with a bang! And you’re next!”

Both Novas loaded up arrows and took aim at the Undead Captain.

“Fire Shot!” the Nova on the left said.

“Wind Cutter Arrow!” the Nova on the right stated.

Both fired their attacks, causing the two archery skills to combine and become a flaming missile. The combo skill struck Captain Ghostwalker with a vengeance, making him scream as he was blown to bits, leaving no trace of him behind. Both Novas put their bows back on their Digi-Packs.

“How do we know which Nova is our Nova?” Sir Reginald asked, stumped.

Nina smiled, “I know which Nova is ours.”

She walked over toward the Nova on the left and gently kissed him on the lips. Nova responded by gently cradling her, holding her by her waist and nuzzling his head against hers.

“How’d you figure that out?” Kettu asked.

“I know my beloved well enough that not even a Mirror Dimension counterpart can confuse me,” Nina purred. “All I need to see are his eyes and that tells me everything I need to know.”

Nova gently stroked her face, smiling, “Can’t pull the wool over your eyes, Nina.”

Mirror Nova huffed, “There, you’re back where you belong. I’m outta here.”

Nova turned to his Mirror counterpart, “Wait a second. Don’t forget what I said earlier. It will be in your best interest to treat your Nina better. Fear is powerful and painful. You should be encouraging her to become stronger, not berating her because of it. My Nina never gave me grief because of my cowardice so you should do the same for your Nina. It’ll make your relationship easier and help build more trust and love between you.”

Mirror Nova replied, “I know, I know. I do love her, but I don’t like weak people. But I’ll take your advice. Just don’t expect anything to happen overnight.”

“I know that, as it took me a long time to start shedding my fears. But if you can give her some positive encouragement like my Nina did for me then she’ll become stronger. It won’t be an overnight success but try to be more patient with her, as trying to remove fears from one’s heart isn’t easy. I speak from personal experience, as I was a spineless, good-for-nothing coward for many years. But thanks to my Nina being supportive and patient with me I’ve become stronger and braver. I’m not completely there yet but as the Blitz family says, ‘Progress is progress, no matter how small’. So cut your Nina a bit of slack and be more supportive of her. That’ll help her overcome her fears and become stronger. Okay?”

“Okay, okay, I get it. I’ll be more supportive and patient with her. Especially if you speak from experience. Now, I’m outta here, as just like the old legend about being still in the Mirror Dimension after sunset will trap someone from this world the reverse applies to a person from the Mirror Dimension. So I’m going back to my dimension before sunset or I’ll be trapped here forever. Make sure you destroy Muu, as he’s caused my dimension enough problems. Goodbye… and good luck.”

Mirror Nova then entered one of the chunks of mirrorstone and vanished.

Nina held Nova tightly, saying, “So… looks like the old legend is true. And it’s all because of Muu that the Mirror Dimension was suffering? No wonder your Mirror counterpart was such a jerk. I’ll take my warm, soft, and huggable you over someone as prickly as him.”

Nova gave a weak smile, “He means well, as he does care, but he is a bit more abrasive and blunt than I am. Hopefully he’ll take my advice to heart about treating his Nina better, as she’s very timid and skittish compared to the brave, noble, and strong woman that is you, Nina. Now, let’s get out of here before something else happens, as I’ve had enough otherworldly shenanigans for one day.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, let’s do that. We’re not far from the exit, so let’s hurry. And I want to know what our Mirror Dimension counterparts are like, too.”

“I’ll tell you later. Let’s just get out of here and get to the next town.”

The party nodded and continued their trek through Mirrorstone Cavern. After a while they reached the exit and back into the sunlight. The sun was starting to set and just about a mile ahead of the party was a large city.

“We’re almost there, gang!” Angelo said cheerfully. “Let’s keep going while we still can.”

The party started to make their way toward the city. Nova and Nina were side-by-side, hand-in-hand, as they walked toward the city. Nina used one of her wings to gently cup Nova from behind.

“I love you, Nova,” Nina said gently.

“I love you, too, Nina,” Nova replied warmly.

At the time, Mirror Nova and Mirror Nina were standing on a ledge, watching the sun set in their world. They were holding hands, with Mirror Nina using one of her wings to cup Mirror Nova from behind.

“I love you, Nova,” Mirror Nina said with more confidence.

“I love you, too, Nina,” Mirror Nova said in a gentler tone.

Next Chapter: The Toad Who Would Be Champion

That's it for today. Tune in next time to see what our heroes face.
 

CynthiaLover

Geek of the Games
Joined
Dec 23, 2009
Messages
4,506
Reaction score
4,021
Pronouns
He/Him
Time for the next chapter of Dawn of Courage. (Warning: contains mild language, mild violence, male nudity, sexual suggestions)

The Toad Who Would Be Champion


It was the following day after the events in Mirrorstone Cavern. The heroic party was doing their shopping, preparing for their next mission. Having just finished their shopping Nova and Nina were taking a break by a fountain, waiting for the rest of the party.

“Looks like we got everything, Nina,” Nova said.

She nodded, “Yes. Now we just need to wait for the rest of the gang to rejoin us. I’m glad we’re going to stay one more day here. We got to this large trader city late yesterday, especially after the whole Mirror Dimension stuff. I’m glad you returned safely to us. And to me. I don’t think I can stand losing you, Nova. I love you too much to even think of the idea.”

Nova gently held her hand, smiling, “I’m glad you say that Nina, as it means a lot to me. I never thought I’d ever get any woman in my life, and yet I couldn’t have asked for a better one. Thank you, Nina.”

They both tenderly locked lips, feeling the joy of their relationship.

“Don’t you DARE sully MY woman, pink boy!” a familiar voice snapped.

The duo quickly turned to see Dominic approach them. The newly minted couple quickly stood up and got into a defensive pose.

“What do I need to get rid of you, Dominic?!” Nova snarled. “A restraining order? And she’s not your woman!”

Dominic snarled right back, “All the women in the world belong to me and me alone! Including her! I am the greatest man in all of existence! The world should be at my beck and call! And yet you slimy, mangy mongrel keep ruining things for me! Because of you I was banished from another kingdom! This time Aquatica, all because you ruined me with your lies!”

Nina spat, “Wrong! You’re the slimy, mangy mongrel! You got kicked out of those kingdoms because of your own actions! I mean, who in their right mind will endanger various settlements by agitating strong monsters to attack them so you can ‘save’ them to make yourself look big? Nova merely exposed you for the slimeball fake hero you are! You just cannot accept the fact that it was your own actions that lead to your various banishments! Instead you blame it on Nova! You’re just a spineless, sleezy, dirty coward of a bully who picks on people you perceive weaker than you so you can make yourself look like a hotshot! Well guess what? That doesn’t work! People have come to see what you really are! All of your punishments are a direct result of your actions backfiring, often because you threaten towns and villages with your engineered heroics that fail spectacularly! I would NEVER date a man like you! Nova is my one true love and nothing you do will change that! Now GET LOST!!!”

The whole situation had drawn a crowd. Several people were whispering, realizing who Dominic was, many of whom were gaining disgusted looks. Dominic ignored them, still focused on Nina.

“Yeah, well after today I’ll regain my glory and claim you as my bride, birdie!” he stated. He pulled something out his pocket and threw it at her, “Take this!”

Something black came flying toward her. Nova quickly shoved Nina out of the way and ended up taking the blast, which was a bomb-like item that, upon impact, released deadly energies that seemed to annihilate Nova, leaving only his clothes and gear that crumpled to the ground. Nina’s eyes widened in horror while Dominic smirked.

“I knew he’d take that Belladonna Bomb if I threw it at you,” he grinned. “Now, with him dead I can claim you.”

Several angry voices roared, “NOT ON YOUR LIFE, DOMINIC!!!”

Everyone turned to see Sir Reginald and the rest of the party race toward him, weapons held high, clearly out for Dominic’s blood. They immediately tackled him and began attacking him mercilessly, making the slimeball wannabe warrior wail in pain and plead for mercy, which the party was clearly short on. Nina could only look down in horror at the remains of Nova, completely forgetting about the rest of her comrades beating the tar out of Dominic. Finally, after he had been reduced to a bloody pulp, Van turned around and kicked Dominic with both his hind legs, sending him flying and out of sight. The locals cheered before redirecting their attention to the devastated Nina, who fell to her knees at the pile of clothes and gear left behind.

“N-No…” she whimpered. “No… No! No! NOOOOOO!!! Please don’t be gone, Nova! Please! We just got started as a couple! Don’t leave me now! Nova!”

The rest of the party walked up to her, clearly stunned.

“W-What was that pompous jerk thinking!?” Zeeker choked. “He just killed our best chance at stopping Muu! All because he couldn’t stand the fact that not only did Nova win Nina’s heart but our pink-haired comrade was the one who exposed him for a lying, cheating fraud.”

Angelo clenched his fists, growling, “Looks like my philosophy may need some tweaking, as Dominic may be the sole exception to what I once believed in. But I guess every rule has an exception. Still… I can’t believe he did that. With Nova dead we lost our best defense against Muu’s forces.”

Kettu clutched his arm, saying, “There’s… there’s gotta be something we can do to bring Nova back?”

Suddenly, something started to move inside Nova’s discarded pants, causing everyone to freeze up. Out emerged a toad with a pink head and green eyes.

“N-Nova?!” Nina sputtered.

The toad gave a croak, seemingly confirming it. Nina gently scooped up the toad and noticed something.

“Guys! He’s got the Demon King Ring on his right… er… hand? It is Nova!”

Van looked perplexed, “So, somehow Nova not only survived a Belladonna Bomb but got turned into a toad instead? How does that work?”

Suddenly, the gem on the Demon King Ring lit up, revealing a shadowy projection of Belzebuth.

“I think I can explain this,” he said. “You see, the Demon King Ring protects its wearer from instant-death techniques, skills, and items. That way Muu and his goons can’t just simply cast Death or whatnot to get rid of my champions, forcing him to do it the hard way. He’s aware of this thus that’s why, despite the Death spell being rather prominent in his Captain’s and General’s arsenals, they never use it on my champions. However, I will admit this is a new one. It appears that, combined with that layer of protection, the Demon King Ring is constantly producing Demon Magic, as there is no off mode on the Ring, with the closest being Lesser Devil Mode. As a result, if I were to take a shot in the dark, Nova has been inflicted with a multi-layer curse because the protection, the Demon Magic leaking out of the Ring, and the negative energies of an instant-death effect clashed and trapped him in this form. Give me a moment to analyze this unusual situation from here.”

The Demon King Ring started to glow, as if analyzing Nova in his current state. After a moment the glowing stopped.

“Okay, I think I’ve got the gist of it. Nova needs three things in order to break the curse. First, Curse Breaker needs to be cast in order to lift the first layer. Secondly, he needs to drink pure Holy Water to lift the second layer. And finally he needs something from the heart of someone he cares about. If you don’t know what I mean, that means he needs something like a tear from Nina. That’ll lift the final layer. You have to do it in that order: Curse Breaker, Holy Water, and Nina’s tear or along those lines, otherwise the curse can’t be lifted.”

“Do we have a time limit?” Sir Reginald asked.

“I can’t sense one but I suggest you get this curse lifted within 24 hours just to be safe. Judging by the location of where the Demon King Ring is you’re in the city of Gal Sniper. There should be a large church that worships the Goddess in that city where you can get Holy Water. Get the purest and highest grade possible for good measures, as I admit this is something of a first to me. It’ll cost at least one gold but that’s nothing compared to a comrade’s life. I suggest you take him to the inn so you can perform the needed acts in private and not draw any more attention to him, since I’m certain he’s going out of his mind right now, he just can’t say or show it in his current state. Remember: Curse Breaker first, then Holy Water, and then something from Nina’s heart, as she’s the closest to him.”

Sir Reginald nodded, “Right, we’re on it.”

Van said, “I’ve managed to master Curse Breaker so I can provide that.”

Angelo turned to Kettu, “My fox friend, let us go to the Goddess Church and procure some of the strongest and purest Holy Water.”

Kettu nodded, “Let’s do it.”

Sir Reginald said, “We’ll head back to the inn with Nova and his stuff so we can spare him any more humiliation.”

The party nodded and split up. Kettu and Angelo made their way toward the large church near the eastern side of the city. Van gathered up Nova’s clothes and gear while Nina carried Nova back to the inn alongside him, Zeeker, and Sir Reginald.

“This is just great…” Nova spat mentally, unable to speak. “Even after being freed from my curse it appears there are still some cosmic forces out to get me. Damn that Dominic. Didn’t he realize the gravity of his actions? While I’m very grateful that the Demon King Ring actually had a failsafe installed that saved me from an untimely death, I’m still rather humiliated right now. This is right up there with that one incident back in 8th grade. And worst of all… I’m getting a craving for crickets.”

Nina, Sir Reginald, Zeeker, and the transformed Nova arrived inside one of the inn rooms. Nina was still gently cradling Nova, keeping him close to her chest, somewhat smothering him with her large breasts.

“Well… at least I get a chance to feel Nina’s soft pillows in this state,” Nova blushed mentally. “No! Don’t think like that, Nova! Nina’s your loving girlfriend now! You can’t act perverted toward her now! You promised her you’d shed that so you could become a better man for her. Don’t relapse now when you’ve made so much progress. Don’t be like Dominic!” He shivered at the thought, “Brrrr! That’s a scary thought. You may not be a good man but you’re at least better than him or Eoleo. And Nina loves you regardless. I cannot slip back into old habits now that things have finally changed for the better.”

Nina noticed Nova shivered, saying softly, “Nova? Are you cold? I guess you’re now cold-blooded so maybe you’re a bit chilly?”

Nova looked up at her, saying silently, “Nina… you truly are too good to me. I don’t deserve you yet you’re willing to settle for a pathetic man like me. That takes guts. I wish I could tell you how much your love means to me right now, since this is probably one of the worst situations I’ve ever been in. And yet you stand by my side with steadfast loyalty. Most women wouldn’t even bother with me, much less go this far. It’s times like this that I’m amazed how much good you’ve done for me, Nina.”

A few moments later Kettu and Angelo arrived, holding a bottle of Holy Water.

“We got the best, purest, and highest grade possible,” Kettu said. “It cost a good three gold but like Belzebuth said that’s nothing compared to a comrade’s life. Have you started anything yet?”

Van shook his head, “No, as we wanted to wait to ensure that you’d get the Holy Water first. Now with that ready I can kick things off. Nina, you’re going to have to put Nova down for a moment so I can cast Curse Breaker on him.”

Nina nodded and gently placed Nova on the floor. Van stepped up and started to channel energy.

“As you would say, Nova, ‘Here goes something’. Curse Breaker!”

He fired the spell, causing what looked like evil energies to lift off of Nova’s body, along with a ring of ancient text appearing and shattering.

“Okay, Step One complete,” Sir Reginald said. “Now for Step Two. Please give Nina the Holy Water so she can help Nova drink it.”

Kettu nodded and gave Nina the bottle of Holy Water. She gently opened the top and tilted it down at a certain angle, allowing Nova to start drinking it.

“Umm… how much Holy Water do you think he needs to drink?” Zeeker asked.

“That’s a good question, Zeeker,” Angelo said. “Belzebuth wasn’t clear on how much is needed. I guess until another layer of that nasty energy lifts off his body. Hopefully that’s not the whole bottle, as that’s a lot for one toad to drink.”

Nova just kept drinking the Holy Water. He could feel his stomach start to fill up from it but he kept guzzling it down until he would know when to stop. After drinking a good two-thirds of the fairly large bottle anther burst of negative energy erupted off his body, followed by another ring of ancient text appearing and shattering. Nina stopped feeding Nova the Holy Water as soon as this event occurred.

“Okay, Step Two is complete,” Van said.

“Good thing, too,” Nova said mentally. “My stomach feels like an overinflated water balloon. I don’t think I could’ve drank the entire bottle before exploding. Plus the Holy Water feels weird in my stomach, like I drank silk or velvet. Or Aunt Sally’s broccoli soup. Blegh!”

Nina gently scooped Nova up, saying, “Now it’s my turn for Step Three. I just hope I can produce a tear upon command.”

Sir Reginald replied, “Try thinking of something that would make you cry. Like, say, Dominic successfully killing Nova.”

“Perish the thought!” Nova protested silently.

“Okay, I’ll try that idea,” Nina nodded.

She closed her eyes and tried to envision something that would make her cry. After about a minute tears began to leak out of her eyes. She quickly scooped one up on a finger and gently dropped it onto Nova’s head. This action caused the final layer of negative energy to burst off his body, followed by the final ring of ancient text to appear and shatter. Nova’s body started to glow, prompting Nina to put him on the ground. His form changed shape and before long he had returned to normal. He opened his eyes to see the party looking relieved.

“So… am I back?” he asked.

Sir Reginald nodded, “Yes, you are. You had us quite worried, Nova.”

Nova turned to Nina, “Nina, are you…?” He then noticed her expression, which was one of lust, seduction, and pleasure, “Um… why are you looking at me like that, Nina.”

She purred seductively, “That’s quite the piece of equipment you’ve got there, Nova. You’ll make me quite the happy woman.”

Nova’s eyes widened in horror as he realized what she meant. He looked down to see he was completely naked. He quickly covered up, his face bright red.

“Gah!” he sputtered. “Where are my clothes!?”

The males in the party couldn’t help but chuckle at Nova’s embarrassment before Sir Reginald pointed to the nearby bed, where Nova’s clothes were resting. However, before he could make a move toward them Nina pinned him.

“Oh, I think you look better naked, Nova,” she purred. “And at least I know you’ll deliver when it comes to getting action in the sheets. I can’t wait to put that massive beef sausage in me. I’m starting to understand why both Chloe and Joy wanted some action with you, other than you being cute. But you’re all mine.”

Suddenly, Van grabbed her and hoisted her up, much to her protests.

“Hey!”

Van chuckled, “Now, now, Nina, let’s not further Nova’s embarrassment. We’re going out of the room so he can get changed in peace.”

“Not fair! He’s seen me naked a fair few times! Why can’t I get to see him naked?”

Nova gave a defeated sigh, “Sadly, she’s correct. I’ve seen her nude at least a few times now, including the day I met her. As embarrassed as I am, and believe me I’m extremely embarrassed, she has earned the right to stay and enjoy the ‘show’, as I know I certainly do whenever I get to see her bombshell body in the buff. Turnabout is fair play, after all. So let her go.”

The party was surprised by this statement but Van complied, gently putting Nina down. She waltzed over to the bed where Nova’s clothes were and sat down next to them, as if guarding them, a seductive smirk on her face. Nova could only sigh defeatedly, forcefully and reluctantly uncovering himself, only making Nina more delighted.

“Now, Nina, since you seem to be ‘guarding’ my clothes, please give me my boxers.”

The winged woman smirked, “Sure, but not before I get a bit more time to drink in your beefcake of a body.”

Nova replied, “I’m no beefcake. Especially a Grade A beefcake. I’m probably Grade C man-meat at best. While I’m happy you made me your boyfriend you do realize you’re taking a massive step down in quality with me, Nina. There are other, better men out there, yet you’re willing to settle for me. You can do better.”

Nina’s eyes narrowed. She got up and pinned Nova to the wall, pushing her large breasts up to his bare, scar-riddled chest, her hands on his shoulders.

“Nova, you’re a better man than you realize. I don’t know what happened that gave you so much self-loathing but you’re not a massive step down in quality compared to other men. And even if there are other, better men out there I don’t want them. I want you and only you. You’re better than you think you are, Nova. You have several qualities that are desirable, including the ability to not only acknowledge your faults but work hard to shed them so you can improve yourself. Not many men would even admit to having faults, like a certain muscle-bound moronic meatball monkey we know of, much less address them and at least try to fix them. I’ve said it at least a dozen times now and I’ll say it again: you are the best thing to ever happen to me. So, please, Nova, stop this self-loathing of yours and try to see yourself in a positive light for once. You’ve done so much for me, and for everyone, yet you can’t seem to hold your head up high for any of your accomplishments. We stand a good chance at winning this war with Muu because of you. And you’ve changed several lives for the better, mine included. So, please, stop hating yourself and start seeing you for the man you are, and the man I love.”

Nova was stunned at Nina’s statement. He gently grabbed her by her waist and held her.

“If only you knew the horrors of my past, Nina,” he said. “You’d understand why I harbor such self-loathing and see myself as a worthless speck, especially after you bore witness to my previous status as the universe’s butt-monkey. Your love has helped alleviate a lot of my past feelings, but as Angelo once said, ‘the scars of the past don’t fade very quickly’, which holds true for me. Now, let me get dressed before a certain something happens, as our rather intimate pose may trigger it.”

Nina gave Nova a kiss on the lips before walking back to the bed. She held out his boxers, which where blue with pink hearts, making her giggle, while he begrudgingly gave her a show while getting dressed. After a few minutes Nova was fully dressed, a stain still on his face, but it was clear he was feeling better now that he was no longer naked.

“Nova, if I may ask, where did those scars come from?” Zeeker asked.

“I was bullied a lot growing up, including taking several beatings. Those scars are mementos of those beatings, as well as harsh reminders of what those beatings turned me into: a spineless coward. But even those beatings were nothing compared to the event that happened in 8th grade. This incident is right up there with it but at least this one has the advantage of me actually having genuine support during it, unlike that incident.”

“What happened?” Van asked.

“I don’t speak of it. All I’ll say is that it involved a toilet plunger, a tennis court net, a chemistry beaker, slime paint, and a zucchini. It also ultimately resulted in my family filing a massive lawsuit against the school and winning, the bullies getting expelled and sent to juvenile detention, several teachers getting fired for not preventing it the incident, including one that rubbed salt on my wounds at the time, and the complete destruction of my psyche. Even after several years of therapy, which I’m still going to, I still haven’t gotten over the trauma that incident caused. It was just that bad. Again, this incident is right up there but the difference is I actually had people going out of their way to help me unlike then.”

The party had been stunned silent, completely floored by Nova’s story.

“So… that’s how it all started… Nova…” Nina said softly, looking like she was about to cry again.

Nova replied, “Don’t bother shedding tears over it, Nina. What’s in the past is done. I can’t change it so it’ll forever remain that way. But you can see why I am the way I am. Even though this unwanted journey has done me great good, as I’ve been slowly but surely improving myself, it’ll also mentally scar me forever due to having to face the very thing I’m afraid of every single time we face Muu’s forces and generally fight for my life. Now, where is Dominic? I need to shoot something and his swollen arse seems like a good starting point.”

Suddenly the door burst open, revealing the inn keeper.

“Pardon me!” she said in a frantic tone. “But that goon who turned your friend into a toad has returned!” She then noticed Nova, “Oh, good, you’re back to normal. That’ll comfort the people who were worried about you. But that muscle-headed punk is back and causing problems again. Can you take care of him?”

Nova strapped his Digi-Pack onto his back, saying acidly, “I was just saying I needed to shoot something and he gave me the exact target I was looking for. Time to rain on his parade. Let’s go, as I want my arrows to become very acquainted with his bloated windbag of a body.”

The party nodded and quickly made their way toward the front of the city. There they saw several dozen people kicking up a fuss, trying to prevent Dominic from entering the city. Dominic was trying to push them away but the civilians wouldn’t budge.

“I demand you let me in!” he protested. “I am the greatest man of all time so you should do as I say!”

A familiar voice said snidely, “In your little monkey dreams, you baboon.”

Dominic’s eyes widened in horror as he recognized the voice. The civilians turned to see Nova, alive and well, standing with his party.

“I-Impossible!” Dominic sputtered. “You’re supposed to be dead! I threw a Belladonna Bomb at you, killing you! How are you not dead?!!”

Nova huffed, “The Demon King Ring on my finger protected me from your cowardly assault. While I got stuck in a cursed form for a bit my party graciously broke the multi-layered curse on me and I’m back and ready to get some well-deserved payback on you. Everyone, stand clear but keep that goon from running.”

The civilians complied, creating a ring around Dominic, allowing Nova a clean shot. Dominic remained unimpressed.

“Hah! You think you can shoot me? You couldn’t shoot the broad side of a barn!”

Nova loaded up an arrow, “Perhaps. But I know I can hit the sensitive side of a baboon. Demon Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Demon Mode.

“Petrify Shot!”

The arrow glowed before he fired it. Dominic was unimpressed and continued to gloat. The arrow struck him in the crotch, causing him to make a high-pitched scream. The arrow then released its energies and turned his entire lower body into stone, the arrow still protruding from his loins. Dominic’s eyes widened in horror.

“How dare you hit my luxurious and desirable loins!” he roared. “Women love my goods! You’ll pay for that!”

“That is if you can survive my next attack,” Nova said coldly. “Everyone, back away, as this next one is gonna be a doozy.”

The civilians quickly got out of range, smirking deviously at what awaited Dominic. The obnoxious man was starting to sweat, as he realized he couldn’t run away.

“Lucifer Mode.”

The Demon King Ring adjusted itself, now set to Lucifer Mode.

“Give my regards to the fiery pit of Hell, Domi, where you belong! Dragon Strike!”

He fired the arrow, which had become a massive electrified dragon. Dominic’s eyes widened in horror and his pupils shrank.

“Mommy…” he whimpered pathetically.

The archery skill struck him, engulfing him in a massive explosion of lightning, making him scream in agony. When the attack waned there was no trace of Dominic.

“Did that finally kill him?” Kettu asked.

Nova huffed, “No, he’s still out there, somewhere. I know it. That man is pretty much unkillable. While he makes for a good punching bag for karma, he’s still out there. It would probably take nothing short of Muu himself to kill Dominic. But I at least got my revenge. I may not like using revenge as motivation but every rule has an exception.”

Nina gave a defeated sigh, “Sadly, you’re right. Dominic will return to harass us again. But hopefully this is the last we see of him for now. And hopefully his disgusting behavior will continue to spread, getting him banned from more towns, cities, villages, and kingdoms. The less people have to deal with him the better. Now, let’s go and get something to eat, as I dare say we deserve it after the events of today.”

The party nodded and headed for one of the local restaurants. They knew that Dominic would be back to cause more trouble another day. The civilians went about their day, happy to see Dominic gone for now.

“One day, Nova, I promise I’ll rid you of all your pain and suffering,” Nina vowed silently. “And I’ll make sure you see that you are a wonderful man who deserves so much more than the cruel hand you’ve been repeatedly dealt by others. You may see yourself as low quality but I see a wonderful, handsome, sweet man who is willing to bend over backwards for those he cares about. And I also intend to claim your virginity, especially now that I know what kind of equipment your packing. And what equipment it is. Dominic and Eoleo have nothing when compared to you. I’m beginning to wonder if Chloe and Joy knew what you were packing when they tried to make moves on you. Thanks for the show, beloved, I certainly enjoyed it. But in all seriousness I promise to free your soul from its torture. Whatever it takes. I succeeded in freeing you from your previous status as the universe’s whipping boy and I intend to succeed in this task as well. Just hold tight, beloved, as I will find a way to end your suffering once and for all.”

Meanwhile, in a faraway swamp, Dominic was stuck in some muck. He was thoroughly battered and bruised, sporting several wounds from Nova’s vicious counterattack. His lower body was still stone and was knee-deep in the muck.

“Damn that pink weasel!” Dominic spat. “I’ll get him for this! First I need to get out of this muck!”

He tried moving only to further wedge himself in the muck. Then, to his horror, he started sinking.

“W-Wait a minute! This is quicksand!”

He started struggling as hard as he could but his lower body being made of stone prevented him from escaping. He started to scream for help, hoping beyond hope that someone would hear him. His body continued to sink deeper and deeper into the quicksand. His arms flailed about, trying to grab onto anything he could find but to no avail. Soon he was up to his neck in quicksand.

“Mommy…” he whimpered.

His head then sank below the surface, followed by his outstretched arms and finally his hands. There was no trace of Dominic left except for a few bubbles in the quicksand.

Next Chapter: Knight of Thunder

That's it for today. It certainly wasn't Nova's day. Though is this the end of Dominic? Find out next time.
 
Top Bottom