Chapter 21 – Blue Tier
Sitting against the wall of the dungeon, I waited as the rest of the trolls filtered into the anteroom. Six trolls had lost their lives in the assault, their sheet covered bodies now resided in my nexus along with seven wounded who couldn’t make the march back.
Full night had long since fallen, but the magic users had illuminated the room with glowing balls of light while the mopping up was completed. Fierg and Aelffrith, having been healed to a manageable level, had rejoined the group, though Aelfled remained in my nexus with the wounded.
Blankly staring at the bloated and battered corpse of the queen, I suddenly remembered how valuable the lesser corpses had been.
Struggling to my feet, I found Jorgan talking with some of his sub-leaders. When he acknowledged me, I asked, “Do you have any plans for all the bug corpses?”
Jorgan quirked a thoughtful brow. “They do fetch some coin at auction, but I’m not about to haul them all back to town…” he trailed off as he realized what I was getting at, his eyes widening slightly.
“Fifty, fifty split?” I asked, smiling through the pain in my ribs.
“Agreed,” he nodded, before shouting orders to have all the bug corpses dragged into the room.
Approaching the dead queen, I tried to figure out exactly how large it was. Pacing off its body, I determined it was around forty feet long and six feet or so in diameter.
“Anyone know how large my nexus entrance would have to be to transport this thing?” I asked, internally.
“I think you must level it two more times,” Skryvonna speculated.
“You’ve surpassed my knowledge on most things related to your class,” Gill thought sadly.
“That’s ok, Gill,” I consoled. “I still don’t really know shit about Tournion in general.”
“I’m porting back to my nexus for a few,” I called out. “Going to have to spend some experience points in order to bring the queen through.
Fierg just waved a weary hand in my direction.
I chuckled at his still blood-soaked form. He’d apparently managed to open quite a rent in the queen’s underside while it was distracted with us in the room. When she’d slammed herself down, he’d found himself engulfed by the wound. Being an ornery and resilient troll, he’d immediately began cutting his way out, though it was slow going with no room to properly swing his axe. Out of air, and wounded from the battle, he’d been running on fumes when my hands had reached in and begun dragging him out.
“Want to come with me and take a quick shower?” I offered. Looking down at the gore covering my own body, I added, “I’m definitely going to hose myself off.”
“What’s a standing bath?” he asked, reminding me there weren’t showers on Tournion. I guessed the magic had interpreted shower to ‘standing bath.’
“Just come with me,” I insisted.
Shrugging, he told Ulfgar he was in charge before walking over.
I ported us back to my nexus, not even having to look at the light slate to hit the correct icons at this point.
Most of the gravely wounded were sleeping on pallets. Purple sprawled across a couch, her heavy eyelids threatening to close. Troat and the other healer were similarly near insensate in plush chairs they had dragged over near their charges.
“Follow me,” I told Fierg, heading to the baths.
Once there, I demonstrated the showers and handed him the last towel and washcloth from the shelf.
“I’m going to make some upgrades to the nexus portal. Just relax in the great room when you’re done,” I said, leaving him to shower.
I’d considered using another showerhead so I could just explain how it worked while we showered. Having used community showers most my life, it wasn’t weird for me to shower in the presence of other men, but I figured that Gretch and Gill may want to assist me and didn’t need that kind of awkwardness in my life.
“Oh, we’ll definitely lend a hand, Chief,” Gretch agreed excitedly, as I made my way back to the portal.
“Just showering,” I responded sternly. “People are waiting for us, and I hurt too bad for anything more.”
“If you’re just going to shower,” Skryvonna put in, “I’d like to take one as well.”
“Um… sure.” I thought, surprised she was even still in my head, much less, willing to shower with the rest of us.
“Calm down, boy,” she laughed. Her mental laugh sounded deep, melodious… and evil. “I just want to experience the shower.”
“No sweat,” I answered casually, focusing on the task of upgrading the nexus portal.
Looking around, I decided that the people in the room were probably far enough away not to be affected. Besides, I was pretty sure the magic wouldn’t let upgrades hurt anyone. Pretty sure.
I tapped the upgrade button a couple of times, trusting Skryvonna’s judgment and not bothering to read the upgrade text. Another six thousand exp down the drain, but I figured there’d be a lot more coming in the near future, after killing the queen. Realizing that I hadn’t been staying on top of my experience and progression, I resolved I would go over it thoroughly as soon as we got a little more down time.
The portal dais melted into the ground, reverting to the small two-person portal that it had been before I’d ever upgraded the nexus.
Frowning in confusion, I walked around the little alter trying to figure out what had gone wrong.
Gill popped into being in front of me. Smirking, she pointed to a new doorway and said, “maybe it’s through there…”
Stepping through the arched doorway, I gasped at the sight before me. Gill walked up beside me and slipped an arm around my waist as we surveyed the massive room.
Seventy feet by seventy feet, the entire floor crawled with familiar etchings of arcane symbols. One wall held the built-in light slates, the other two walls were inset with large double doors.
Gill walked to one and opened it. Stepping through, she said, “Oh, this looks like the stables.”
Curious what the stables looked like, I wandered over and took a look.
The stables room seemed to be divided into storage and stalls. The stalls looked about the right size for horses, though there was no fodder in the storage portion of the room.
Fluffy, the wiggly white puppy, bounded over to us barking excitedly.
Grinning, I bent down and picked the little pup up. Her short, course fur, was anything but fluffy, but I didn’t care when she set to licking my nose. It had to be fifteen pounds already, though it still had the body shape and bloated belly of an eight-week-old pit-bull puppy.
“You want to go exploring with us, little girl,” I cooed in my puppy voice as I carried her over to the other set of double doors.
Gill opened them before me, revealing a massive pantry that made our meager supply of food look comically insufficient. The entirety of it tucked away in a single doorless cupboard.
“Well, that should be large enough to bring the queen through,” I announced, surveying the new portal room from the pantry doorway.
Gretch popped up beside me and held her hands out, her wide eyes and grin silently demanding to hold the puppy. Smiling, I handed her the dog and said, “Put her back in the stable so Purple can find her when she wakes up.”
“Sure thing, Chief!” Gretch piped up, happily skipping across the empty expanse of the new portal while being showered with puppy dog kisses. She disappeared through the double doors before coming back and gently shutting the doors,
“What now, Chief,” Gretch asked, walking up beside Gill and casually smacking her ass.
“Going to have to rush that shower,” I said. “Still a lot to do before we can rest.”
Strolling back into the common room, we found a half-naked Fierg on a couch scrubbing his armor with a towel and talking to one of the few awake wounded troops.
“Enjoy the shower?” I asked.
He looked up and eyed the girls behind me. “Not as much as you’re about to,” he answered with a bass chuckle.
“Probably not,” I admitted, as I walked by on my way to the baths.
Not bothering to get undressed, I turned on the water and let it cascade down my filthy body, armor and all.
“I was going to ask you to do that,” Skryvonna thought.
Looking around, I saw a nude Gretch assisting Gill in getting undressed. Though she had dived into the queen’s body as well, Gill was as clean as ever.
Elyria stuck her head into the room. Finding me with her eyes, she grinned before speaking.
“Do you need anything, sir?”
Glancing at the empty towel racks, I asked, “Do we have any clean towels or rags left?”
“I’ll find you some,” Elyria replied and scurried off with a little bouncing bow.
“Clean me before I come out?” Skryvonna asked.
“Sure,” I replied, resolving not to read too much into her sudden interest in showering and shielding my thoughts.
My wives came over, naked and smiling, and stepped into the massaging spray of water. They used their hands to strip away the larger bits of gore from my armor, clothes, and hair.
Elyria reappeared with a towel and washcloth. Setting the towel down on a bench, she brought the washcloth over and placed it in Gill’s outstretched hand. Her eyes briefly roved over the three of us as she asked, “Do you need anything else, sir?”
“No, thanks Elyria,” I answered.
Gill wasted no time scrubbing down Skryvonna’s armor.
“Master, would you turn around?” she asked with a sardonic grin.
I gently bopped her nose with a finger. “None of that,” I chastised. “We’re in a hurry.”
Gill stuck out her lower lip, while Gretch used the distraction to fondle my junk through my pants.
“Greeetch,” I warned.
“Whaaat?” She asked innocently. “I’m just cleaning.”
Sighing, I turned around so the warm water could sluice the mess off the back of my armor as Gill continued to scrub.
“That’s good enough,” Skryvonna announced, and the armor disappeared from my torso.
Skryvonna appeared naked in the stream of water with the rest of us. Trying to distract myself, I leaned around her and tuned on a few more heads, increasing the radius of the shower spray.
“Oh, this is quite nice,” Skryvonna purred, closing her four eyes and tilting her face up to the spray.
Unable to help myself, I stole a glance at her compact bronze body. While not overly muscular or particularly buxom, her body was beautifully symmetrical and alluring. Just the hint of padding on her hips and rear rounded out tight legs and thighs. Her smooth hourglass torso supported a pair of perfectly shaped medium breasts, each topped with a small rust red areola and eraser sized nipple.
Following her graceful neck to her face, I nearly jumped when I discovered a single eye open and staring at me.
Rather than berate me, Skryvonna smirked and asked, “Enjoying yourself?”
While I searched for a response, Gill came to my rescue.
“You can’t blame him for looking. You’re beautiful!” Gill complimented with a smile. “Would you like me to wash your hair? You won’t believe how good it feels in the shower.”
Skryvonna looked uncertain before hesitantly nodding. “I suppose that would be ok.”
Gill gathered up the curly light pink hair and began massaging soap into the drider’s scalp, drawing a quiet moan from Skryvonna as goosebumps broke out over her caramel skin.
Gretch drew my attention when she started stripping off my sopping clothing. I tried to ignore the muted moans of the scary scorpion lady getting her hair washed by my beautiful hyena wife. My life was so weird.
Finally nude, I reveled in the feeling of warm water pelting my skin. The sensation second only to Gretch’s soapy hands running over my body. I felt her hot mouth close over my erection and forced myself to open my eyes and stop her.
“Gretch, I appreciate it, but we don’t have time. Besides it’s rude to Skryvonna.”
Gretch’s mouth came off me with a pop.
“I was just making sure you were clean,” she protested, looking up at me with complete innocence written on her face.
“Sure, you were,” I replied, tousling her wet hair.
“You… don’t have to stop on my account,” Skryvonna said, so quietly that I almost didn’t hear her.
Gretch’s eyes grew wide, and she began to dive back down, but I stopped her with a hand on her forehead.
“Later,” I promised. Glancing over, I saw that Gill had moved her washing to Skryvonna’s back. The drider’s four eyes were all heavy lidded as she intently watched Gretch and I, while getting a firm back rub.
“You guys about done?” I asked, shutting off some of the showerheads.
Skryvonna’s eyes widened, and she disappeared, leaving a perplexed Gill massaging air.
“You okay?” I asked.
“I’m… fine.” Skryvonna replied a little shakily. “I’m not used to being touched. That’s all.”
I suddenly felt very sorry for the woman, wondering how long it had been since she had felt physical affection.
“No!” She protested. “You will not feel pitty for me, human.”
“I don’t,” I assured her, muting the mental connection.
“We’ve got to go, girls,” I announced.
They both pouted but vanished anyway.
I wrapped a towel around myself and relived the worst parts of the recent battle to chase my erection away. Once presentable, I scooped up my gear and padded out into the great room.
Purple laughed and whistled when I emerged clothed only in a towel. Laughing good naturedly at her cat calls, I made it to the much-diminished auction kiosk and spent another 200 exp on another set of clothes and boots. Picking up the new clothes, I ducked into the bathroom to dress myself.
Fully clothed again, I summoned my armor, shield, and club, emerging from the bathroom like a proper warrior should.
“Heh, I much prefer you fully clothed. You look so fragile and pink out of armor,” Fierg scoffed dryly.
“I bet.” I agreed. “You ready to get back?”
“Lead the way,” he said, standing and following me to the new portal.
I pulled out my portable light slate and ported us back to the dungeon.
“Took you long enough,” Jorgan grumped when we appeared back in the dungeon anteroom.
Rather than reply, I gawked at the piles and piles of dead bugs stacked around the room’s walls. As I watched, a few trolls wandered in and slung a few more hive scout bodies onto the lowest pile.
“This is going to take a minute,” I muttered.
“Best get started then,” Fierg said from beside me. “Anything I can do to help?”
“Nah,” I answered. “I just have to port them all over and list them on the auction house.”
Keenly interested in how much the queen’s corpse would be worth, I placed my hand on her massive head and ported her back first.
Excitedly turning to the auction, I searched the swarm corpse request and quickly found several listings for a queen.
“Forty gold!” I shouted, pumping a fist in the air. “We’re rich, bitch!”
“I don’t know that I would consider forty gold to be riches,” Skryvonna said, raining on my parade.
“Ugh,” Gretch retorted. “You don’t have to be a bitch all the time. Forty gold is a fortune!”
“You would think so,” Skryvonna sneered with disdain.
“It’s a lot more gold than I’ve ever seen,” Gill spoke up. “There’s no reason not to celebrate it.”
Sighing, my elation flagging, I said aloud, “It’s fine. Our share will be about twenty thousand dollars, the way I think about money. No, it’s no fortune, but it gives us some much-needed financial security.”
I hit the ‘fill order’ icon and converted one giant bug into gold pieces. The tiny bag of gold looked absurdly small where it sat in place of the giant corpse. Walking over a picking it up, I bounced the clinking bag in my hand a few times before setting it aside and porting back to the dungeon for the next load of corpses.
It took the better part of an hour to ferry all the remaining corpses to my nexus and convert them into coin. I ended up having to place sell orders for the last few loads as I had filled all the buy orders.
When all was said and done, I handed a bag of forty-two gold and twelve silvers to Jorgan.
“We need to take you with us raiding,” he declared with a chuckle. “We have to leave so much behind for lack of room.”
Laughing myself, I answered, “I’ll have to pass. I think I’ll be using my random location button soon. There is a lot of Tournion out there left for me to explore.”
I honestly had no interest in raiding other countries. While it may sound like good fun from an abstract point of view, I imagined the reality would be too brutal for my taste. The trolls were amiable enough to me, but I imagined that their raids weren’t seen as a fun game by their victims. Regardless how they treated their thralls, they still took slaves and stole from other peoples.
It made me uncomfortable how much I liked most of them as individuals when I considered the reality of their culture. With a mental shrug, I decided it wasn’t my place to judge a culture so foreign. I could try to free a few thralls that didn’t want to be here, but I certainly wasn’t going to try to reform troll society or anything ridiculous. At least they didn’t sacrifice prisoners to the sun… as far as I knew.
Jorgan found me during my musings and cleared his throat to get my attention.
“You upgraded the portal again to allow the queen to go through?” He asked.
“Yes Chief,” I responded, copying the way that the other trolls addressed him.
“How many people can you transport at a time now?”
Checking the light slate, I responded, “Twenty-five is the new total.”
“Good,” he grunted. “Willing to ferry us all back? No sense spending the night in a ruined dungeon if we don’t have to.”
“Sure thing, Chief,” I answered.
He peered at me with a funny expression for a moment before grinning. “I think I’m going to adopt you into the clan, human.”
“It, uh… would be an honor, Chief.” I said, hesitantly.
“Ask him what is required of you,” Skryvonna hissed quickly.
“What would be required of me if I joined the clan,” I asked.
Waving a negligent hand, he said, “Nothing really. If your clansman is in trouble, you help him. We won’t ask you not to leave or anything. I suspect you will be visiting regularly regardless, given the simplicity of travel at your disposal.”
Nodding, I stuck out my hand. He clamped down on my wrist in a brief shake before turning away and shouting for his troops to organize.
It took three trips, since the wounded counted against the total and didn’t disembark on the first two. The first group solemnly gathered up the dead before being brought to the town square. The last group collected the wounded and helped them to the portal.
Standing in the middle of town with Fierg’s squad around me I asked, “Hey Fierg, could you guys escort me to the goblin camp tomorrow? I think I have a place for them to go, but I’ll never find them without a guard.
“Sure,” he answered, clasping my wrist. “Be at the compound around midday. I’m sure Bierg will want to see you before we head out.”
Once they departed, I teleported myself home.
Checking the dungeon time, I noticed that it must be after midnight because there was over seven hours remaining. All the girls popped into existence as I was checking the slate.
“I presume we’re done for the night?” Gill asked.
Chuckling, I answered, “Definitely not. We are in for the night though.”
Gretch had walked up beside Gill and pressed herself bodily against the taller woman’s hip and thigh.
“You going to do us for the rest of the night, Chief?” she asked, with a lascivious grin.
“Probably,” I admitted, “but that will have to wait until later. Right now, I need to check quests and gather rewards.”
“I am interested to see what you do with the rewards,” Skryvonna announced from behind my right shoulder. “I will accompany you.”
Strolling into the great room, I noticed Purple asleep on a couch, one leg and arm dangling down to the floor.
Gently shaking her shoulder, I woke her up.
“Oh, Chief!” She exclaimed when her eyes fluttered open.
“What are you doing out here?” I asked with a smile. “You can go to bed.”
“I was waiting for you to get back. Didn’t know if you wanted me for anything else,” she said through a wide yawn.
“You’ve done enough for one night, silly troll,” I answered, having to stifle the sympathetic yawn response she’d triggered. “Go to bed.”
Elyria walked in from the kitchens with a tray of steaming mugs.
“I thought I heard your voice,” she said, with a tired smile. “I’ve got tea for everyone.”
“Wow, thanks,” I said, snagging a mug and taking a sip of the bitter but not unpleasant brew before continuing. “You can go to bed as well. Thank you both so much for all your help tonight. You did more than I could ever ask.”
Elyria bowed and set her tray on the breakfast table.
“Have a good night, everyone,” she said with a cute little bow that caused her white bunny ears to bob.
Once she was gone, Purple turned to me and asked, “Are you going to bed as well?”
“Still have a few things to do,” I said, taking another sip as I went to the small portal dais.
Pulling up the quest log, I dug in.
Quest: Goblin Refugees
A tribe of dungeon goblins has lost their dungeon.
Find a place that is willing to take in the goblin refugees.
You have accepted this quest
Quest: Eliminate the Swarm (group)
Swarm have infested Erif.
Find the main body of swarm and eliminate the queen
Bonus: No swarm survive
2 soul gems
Increased reputation with the trolls of Erif
Bonus: 2 soul gems
I laughed aloud as I spun to find Gill reading over my left shoulder. Cupping her cheek in my hand I lay a gentle kiss on her lips drawing a startled look.
“What…” she started to ask, but I shushed her with a finger.
Whispering directly into her twitching canine ear, I said, “Equip up please.”
She instantly disappeared.
“You need to be more powerful if you want to be the alpha of my wives, right?” I asked, while navigating the light slate before me to the correct screen.
“Um, I…” she trailed off when I hit the button to upgrade her from green to blue, spending ten of my twelve soul gems in the process.
“Oh gods,” she moaned after a few seconds. Having heard her in the throes of orgasm before, I just went ahead and assumed that the experience wasn’t unpleasant for her.
“Did you just…” Skryvonna asked, not completing her sentence.
“Yep, I answered with a wide grin.
“Just what?” Gretch demanded.
“You can come on out Gill,” I said aloud.
Gill appeared before us, different, yet the same. She may have lost an inch of height and probably ten pounds, but she looked sleeker, her every muscle twitching with restrained power. Her Roman style leather armor replaced with purple silk garments that made me think of Asian lingerie more than anything else. The flawless expanse of her exposed grey skin glowed with health and vitality.
Raising her hands before her eyes, she slowly flexed them into fists.
“I look the same but… I feel…” Her gleaming yellow eyes flicked up to mine in an unmistakably predatory gaze, before she sprang at me.
Lifting me bodily in the air, she kissed me with such ferocity that our teeth clacked together. Her tongue forced its way roughly into my mouth as if she were trying to shove it down my throat.
Grunting in pain, I tapped her side as if I were tapping out in a grappling fight.
“Ribs,” I groaned when she released the pressure enough for me to speak.
“Oh gods,” she exclaimed, setting me back on me feet. She sank to her knees before me. “I’m so sorry, master! Thank you master!”
Hiding my pain, I bopped her nose with a finger. “None of that. We aren’t in the bedroom.”
Gretch quietly reached out and stroked the back of the kneeling gnoll’s neck.
“What did he make you?” she asked reverently, completely serious for once.
“Let’s find out,” I declared turning back to the screen.
Name: Gill Raventouch
Level:6 (2400 exp until next level) Add EXP
Race: Gnoll Alpha
Weapon: Gnoll Alpha War Pick
Damage Type: Blunt/piercing
Effect: + 5 Strength
Abilities: Crushing Blow
Crushing Blow: Wielder can occasionally deal a devastating crushing strike that partially negates blocks and armor.
Spectral Bite: The sentient spirit in the weapon can occasionally manifest a giant spectral hyena that will attack your foe once before disappearing. This ability can be triggered by the wearer or designated to the weapon’s sentient controller.
I let out a long whistle of appreciation as I read over the increased statistics.
“Mind equipping up for a second so I can get a look at your new weapon form?” I asked a still dazed and kneeling Gill.
“Of course,” she whispered before disappearing.
Willing my ‘club’ to my hand I grinned at the beautiful weapon Gill had become. My hand gripped the tightly wrapped leather haft of a dark metal war pick.
Nearly three feet long, the metal shaft terminated in the stylized head of a hyena. The beautifully rendered snarling face composed a blunt hammer face on one side. Triple ridges of the creature’s hair drew back from its brow and extended a foot in the other direction, forming a tri-bladed pickaxe blade.
“Would have been nice to have you in this form before fighting the queen,” I murmured, stroking the intricately forged hammer face of the hyena with my thumb.
“Next time, Andric,” Gill replied in my mind with an eager growl that set my neck hairs on end.
I dismissed the war-pick with a shiver and said, “Go ahead and come back out.”
Turning to the screen, I pulled up the experience and found the swarm queens entry.
Swarm Queen: 100,000exp
Reward divided by surviving combatants: 14,285exp
“Shit, she was worth a ton,” I breathed. I scrolled over to my currency totals next.
Soul Gems: 2
Seeing that Gill and Skryvonna were shooting envious looks at Gill’s new, more powerful body, I smirked. “Did you guys think I would leave you out?” I asked. I pumped another level into everyone, leaving me with 12,595 experience points. This time I made sure to carefully go over everyone’s stats. Not knowing exactly what I was working with was a rookie mistake that I didn’t intend to make.
Name: Skryvonna Voraxen
Level:7 (4800 exp until next level) Add EXP
Race: Greater Drider (Hexaxe Scorpion)
Armor: Hexaxe Scorpion Chitin Plate
Armor Type: Chitin
Effect: +5 to Agility
+4 to Durability
+4 to Resistance
Name: Gretchen Quicktoe
Level:7 (4800 exp until next level) Add EXP
Race: Goblin Skirmisher
Armor: Blackwood Banded Round Shield
Armor Type: Shield
Effect: +6 to Durability
+5 to Resistance
Abilities: Tar Blast
Name: Gill Raventouch
Level:7 (4800 exp until next level) Add EXP
Race: Gnoll Alpha
Weapon: Gnoll Alpha War Pick
Damage Type: Blunt/piercing
Effect: + 5 Strength
Abilities: Crushing Blow
“You’re all terrifying,” I said with a chuckle when I’d finished studying their individual stats.
“Yes,” Skryvonna agreed. “I wish to see your stats though.”
Nodding in affirmation, I pulled them up.
Name: Andric Graven
Effective lvl: 8
Strength: 5 (10)
Agility: 4 (13)
Endurance: 4 (8)
Durability: 2 (12)
Resistance: 2 (11)
Weapon slots: 2
Armor slots: 2
“You should fill your slots, Andric.” Skryvonna stated flatly, reading over my shoulder. “I know you think you are doing the people trapped in the void some kind of favor by not summoning as many as you can, but that is stupid. They would all prefer even your company to the emptiness of the void.”
I winced, knowing that someone would bring it up eventually. Thralls, I could free, but not summons. They were pretty much stuck with me and I with them. It was a hell of a commitment to make to someone I didn’t know even disregarding the moral issues.
“I know,” I answered dryly. “Maybe tomorrow. Let’s see if rehoming the goblin refugees gives me any more soul gems first.
“Acceptable,” Skryvonna said, curtly.
“Glad you approve,” I snarked, turning away from the screen.
“Now, I’m going to bed. I don’t care who comes with me, but my ribs hurt too bad for anything but sleep,” I declared with a hard look and Gretch and Gill.
Gretch stuck out her bottom lip in a pout.
Gill lightly swatted her arm before looking back at me and replying, “Of course, Andric. We’ll be good.” She cast a sharp glance at the still pouting goblin before adding, “I’ll make sure of it.