Monstrous Compendium Ch1 bit – Filling In

Kirito went down in a pile of clawed fluff, trying not to giggle in exhausted relief. Good thing I’m not allergic to feathers.

“Don’t let them get pushy.” Stheno helped him rescue the basket, chuckling under her breath. Scattered her share of the grain, and cooed to a chick or two; then led them all farther down the path to where air turned cooler and moist, water trickling down a fern-wreathed cliff of granite to fill a small pool before running away in a clear stream. And sprouting in the midst of that pool….

Kirito almost froze on the spot, staring at the gigantic <<Jade Vine>> that lifted toward the sun. He’d seen one or two of the living-stone plants in other volcanic landscapes, but those had been small, fragile bits of jade, vines thinner than a straw and barely reaching his knee. This was as tall and sturdy as a wisteria in full glory, every tendril supporting chains of rubies like bunches of ripe raspberries.

No. Not rubies. <<Youkai Bloodstones.>>

The critical spell component that a youkai lord could use to transform a human player into… something else. He’d seen one at the end of a few quests, always politely walking away. Once he’d seen half a dozen, glimmering in a bakeneko youkai’s keeping and guarded like the priceless treasures they were. In Aincrad’s lore, a Bloodstone was the blood and memories of a youkai hero, frozen in stone so the clan could call upon lost knowledge in their hour of need. Or – rarely – so the clan could gift a deserving human with that trace of other, and adopt them into their new family.

He’d seen one Bloodstone at a time. At most, seven.

Stheno had thousands.

Argo couldn’t have paid him to get any closer.

“Now.” The medusa seated herself on a boulder carved into a friendly nook, with a lichen-gray and green cushion to make it more comfortable. “Tell me what you know of this foul wizard, Akihiko Kayaba. Few youkai have seen any of the Dark Pack and lived to tell of it. Tell me of his spell, and all that has passed since it brought you here.”

“Everything?” Kirito said faintly. “That could take a while.”

“To defeat the Ebon Wolf?” Stheno leveled a stern look at him. “I have all the time you need.”

Clear all 100 levels, Kayaba had said, defeat the Lord of the Black Iron Castle, and you will be returned to your proper realm.

It was worth a try.

“Four months ago,” Kirito began, “we were invited to a grand tournament. A place where we could… play… at being brave warriors and mages….”

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10 thoughts on “Monstrous Compendium Ch1 bit – Filling In

  1. So Kirito is trying to word events in a manner that he thinks the ‘quest AI’ will accept/understand.

    I suspect Stheno will be able to tell he’s hedging his words but will she call him out on it?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. >Along with more on who Stheno really is.>
        Considering how rare you’re describing those bloodstones to be, I’m betting she’s a minor deity at the very least.

        And more specifically she’s been testing Kirito to see what sort of person he is.

        Because if one removes the whole ‘fetch quest’ thing from this (and considering that this is supposed to be a real world we have to) there is no way somebody that influential/powerful (handing over an anti-petrification magic ring like it’s nothing and the 1000s of bloodstones) wouldn’t have some way of negating her sight already.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Stheno’s very, very powerful, yes. Though not quite deity-level.

        But yes, this is a test. Familiar with prestige classes? There’s a particular one Stheno wants to get going again.

        For those less D&D nerdish, prestige classes are pretty much specializations of existing classes, that usually require a character to have specific qualifications – often roleplaying stuff, not stats – to get in. For example, pyrokinetic is a psionic prestige class, and your character needs to have deliberately burned down a building in the past….

        Some prestige classes have multiclass requirements to get in – for example, you need fighter and magic-user levels.

        This isn’t a canon prestige class, though if someone wanted to invent it for their D&D game, it might come in very handy in Eberron. It’s heavily oriented toward dealing with lycanthropy….

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Is this also novel length? Again, I have only one unpublished novel with no plans to write another. Of course, it wasn’t very long ago that I wasn’t trying to write any novels of any sort. I am on the fourth round of edits, and that will probably be my last.

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      1. That’s 180 pages! That’s about what I’m down to after four edits of The Hot Place. Oh, and with my pragmatic language impairment, I’m not quite sure if you said earlier that it would take about a month to do the first round of edits or just the patch you were working on, but that is much faster than I work.

        Liked by 1 person

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