[Vol. 5 pt. 5] Patch 1.0: Forming Alliances
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The crew of The Shoebill can’t help but to stare on at the sight of the isle in confusion. It isn’t the fact that that it is surrounded by giant, stone spikes rather than walls like King Cat’s town, and it isn’t the fact that there are giant cannons stationed on top of each one of those spikes that is making them look confused. What is making them confused is the fact that there are skeletons hanging in nooses off of the tip of every single one of the spikes that they can see. Not only that, but there are black flags with crossed bones waving in the wind.

Did they get back to Port Tugator by mistake somehow? As far as they are aware, this town is supposed to be a friendly, welcoming one just like King Cat’s! Yet, it looks more like some sort of dangerous pirate haven if anything.

As they navigate the treacherous rocks surrounding the only way into the town’s harbor, they notice the skeleton of some sort of huge monster propped up near the back of the town over a large building. So, not only are they apparently pirates who hang people and show off their skeletons, but they are monster hunters as well.

“Are – are you sure about this?” Corwin asks Fenrir. “I do not like the air about this place.”

“I mean… that boat there is from King Cat’s place,” Fenrir says, pointing at one of the boats docked at the harbor, “so… this should be fine. Right?”

“Better hope so,” Tabitha says.

“My hero, what if I were to be kidnapped and sold into—”

“No,” Fenrir immediately shuts Nell down. “Besides, even if somebody really tried, I wouldn’t let them.”

Nell smiles and giggles to herself. She may of the same mind as her girlfriends that Fenrir often fails at being smooth, but he does have his moments.

“They’re waving us in over there,” Fenrir points out to Tabitha.

A few minutes later and The Shoebill is being tied to the wooden pier by some workers. Though, they are not just any workers.

“I think we’re going to be getting our fill of monstrous people,” Fenrir whispers to Nell.

“I think so, too, my hero,” Nell whispers back.

The two men tying The Shoebill to the dock are not only huge in sheer size, but they are both covered in thick, green scales with the heads of alligators.

“Welcome to Spike Port,” one of them says, his voice as deep and gravely as they all expected somebody with an alligator’s head to sound. “Are you here for the meeting?”

Despite the brutish appearance and gravelly voice, though, the man actually spoke politely and properly.

“Yeah. I’m Fenrir, this is Nell and Corwin, and that’s Tabitha,” Fenrir says, pointing at each crewmember as he says their respective name.

“Pleasure to meet all of you. The Duchess is in the back there,” the man says, pointing at the large building with the even larger monster skeleton on top of it. “King Cat is already back there, and Rainbow Afro shouldn’t take much longer to arrive.”

“His name really is Rainbow Afro, isn’t it?” Fenrir can’t resist asking, but he regrets it now that those words have actually left his mouth. After all, wouldn’t it be seen as rude if he’s doubting somebody’s reputation and name like that? What if this supposed Rainbow Afro hears about Fenrir questioning—

“I know, right?” the alligator man answers in a much more normal voice. “Just wait until you see him.”

Suddenly, the situation feels far more casual and friendly.

The entire town looks friendlier now to the crew of The Shoebill.

Where once, they saw monstrous men and women walking around looking huge and intimidating, now they just see regular players being typical MMO gamers either arguing, doing weird things, or having stupid fun.

“By the way, what’s up with the uh, skeletons hanging around the place?” Fenrir asks.

“Oh, just decoration,” the alligator man answers. “The Chieftess thinks they look cool, but I think they’re kind of scary and give off bad vibes.”

“Huh.”

“Don’t even get me started on that creepy monster skeleton on the top of her house. Feels like every day here is Halloween because of all the skeletons.”

“And not because of there being a bunch of monster-themed people walking around wearing all sorts of costumes and armor?”

“That’s just normal. The skeleton thing clashes with that, plus skeletons are creepy by default.”

“You know, you’ve got a skeleton inside of you.”

“Don’t remind me. I already have nightmares about my skeleton coming out of my skin and leaving me all floppy and unable to move.”

“It sounds like you have it rough.”

“I know, right? Thanks for being understanding. Man, I just really don’t like skeletons.”

Corwin, Nell, and Tabitha can only stand around and watch in confusion and awe as Fenrir somehow manages to have a serious conversation with this terrifying-looking alligator man about the creepiness of skeletons without bursting out laughing.

“So, I’ve never met the Chieftess before. Any advice you can give me on how to behave around her or how to talk to her?” Fenrir asks.

“Well, she thinks skeletons are really cool, and she likes flexing a lot, so if you can flex with her then she’ll like you.”

Fenrir looks at himself and then the rest of those he brought with him.

Not a single one of them look muscular at all. Fenrir has some muscles – he’s fit, but he’s not bulging with muscles like somebody who loves flexing probably wants.

“Oh, there’s Rainbow Afro’s Rainbow Galaxy,” the alligator man says.

Fenrir and the others turn their heads to see… a boat painted every color of the rainbow that looks like somebody tried applying the concept of tie-dye shirts to its paint job. Everything from the hull of the boat to its sails is dyed a myriad of rainbow colors, and standing at the front of the ship is a man with the most fabulous, massive, rainbow-colored afro that they have ever seen.

I've got a new story up over on Royal Road. It's a LitRPG dungeon core with a harem, monster girls, evolutions, and will eventually have kingdom building. Anyways, feel free to check it out here! I'll be bringing it over here to SH once I'm not lazy, too. Probably once it has an actual cover.

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