I'd considered Herbie's request. His request wasn't unreasonable considering I had an overabundance as is, and it was thoroughly unlikely they would bother his beetles given how big they were. However, I did have to wonder why.


Man, we needed a better way to deal with communicating. Having a voice that bellows. It gets the job done but, if Herbie sounds like that to me. I probably sound the same to him. then there's the problem of introducing a third or more in and the voices muddle together.


Well, that got my interest. So I flagged Laginn over to hash out the details with Charlotte. Sure technically they were all my minions, but considering the focus was on experimenting with silk, and he probably noticed that trick I'd seen other monsters pull with using silk line to quickly get from point A to B. I just wanted both my right hand and my specialist, to do the selecting since it was their domains.

My attention spun towards Nyx. She was in Bonehead's arena. the two trading blows. Every third or fourth strike Bonehead would raise a hand, then motion as if he held a staff instead of sword. Nyx would copy the movement, causing Bonehead to give an enthusiastic nod. Then the two would resume.

They'd even gotten a small crowd, Arin as well as a few other staff users seemed to pay special attention. I had to suppress a laugh. My minion giving combat lessons.

Then the two would break, each taking one corner of the arena. Laginn would scuttle to the center before snapping twice. Silence for several moments. I could almost hear the rules of engagement being lain down.

If your opponent says Stop, Taps Out, or can no longer fight, it is over.

No outside interference.

Once the fight starts it won't stop until there is a winner.

Then there was a loud SNAP followed by Laginn scuttling to the third corner of the ring to perch on the turnbuckle. Nyx rapped her staff against the floor. Delvers would see a cloud of darkness engulf her opponent's head. That was a new spell, but it tracks with her name. It wasn't a full blind or deafening, but it severely dulled both senses.

Nyx's eyes brightened as she charged, only to be met by Bonehead's sword in a rising slash as he took a step back. As with his fight with the templar, Bonehead had sheathed in one hand, sword in the other, though this time the blade was held in a reverse grip.

The impression of something being said. Bonehead's stance firming. Sheath held forward as his blade arm held away. Nyx swung, only to have her strike turned aside. His rear foot moved forward, his stance shifting to a more offensive posture.

His blade flashed as he pun, attempting to slash Nyx's robes, and scoring a grazing hit. Nyx looked from Bonehead to her Robes and made several hissing noises before lashing out again. This time instead of attempting to bash her opponent, there was a quick jab, shoving Bonehead back. Followed by several finger-thin shards of ice raining down from several directions.

At this point I noticed a goblin from Good Neighbor in the crowd, laughing. Must've been one of the ones from Bonehead's rampage. Laugh it up, green dude. You look better fed, but I'm fairly certain you'd still get beaten like an unloved stepchild.

Give the goblin credit for tossing money in the pile betting on Bonehead.

When I looked back at the fight, Nyx had bonehead frozen in place. Some sort of oddball magic prevented him from moving but allowed him to attack as she swooped and swirled about the Arena, trying to confuse him before attacking again. While I had hopes of Bonehead winning, I noted with some satisfaction Nyx had put him on the defensive. Good. I wanted her to learn and improve. Wouldn't be much of a boss fight if she were easy. So I cheered as she scored a hit as she swept past her opponent, taking advantage of her spectral nature to essentially fly through his guard.

Bonehead also seemed to approve. Well if his body language was anything to go by.

Then the spell changed, allowing him to move but now preventing him from attacking. Nyx swept at him with her staff, leaving trails of ice and patches of cold in the arena that would slow him down. Again, I was amused at how things played out when Bonehead started to roll, tucking his shoulder and using momentum to weave beneath strikes, to stay just behind his opponent, and while he was unable to attack he was able to prepare. His sword was sheathed and tucked at his belt. Bow in hand and a gleaming white arrow was nocked. Unlike against the templar, this one was the bone white shaft, steel arrowhead, bleached white flu-flu fletching. Good, he was using arrows meant to only go a short distance. Given the arena and spectators, I'm glad he thought to contain collateral.

The moment he was able to attack, Bonehead loosed this arrow straight through Nyx's face, hitting her between the eyes and sending her cloak sailing off of her. Instead of proceeding to phase two she merely bowed, ending the fight.

Bonehead returned the bow before slinging his weapon over his back and retrieving Nyx's cloak before offering it to her. He clasped wrists with her, giving an affectionate pat on the shoulder, before eyeing the money and trinkets in the betting pool. Wait how'd that red gem from the Templar get there?

He held the gem up. turning it over in his hands before offering it to Nyx, who hesitated before taking it. If I read the description right that was a greater soul tear of protection. That might actually help her out just enough with her lankiness problem to be able to be fancy in her fights. This presents a problem with my plans for Erebus since I wanted the pair to be a matched set. I do hope they get along.

Briefly, my awareness floats to the floor below. I can see Ishida there.

"I see you." Definitely, Ishida herself speaking. Soft voice, without the sort of threats or rage from before. Stone eyes stare at the rough spot where my awareness was centered. "If your relationship to your construct is the same as mine is to Kronos...." There was a weariness to her voice. "You are the same person as before, but I cannot hate you the same way I hate him, and I don't know why."

There are so many questions.

She shifted her weight, leaning on the haft of her scythe, "I have no answers. Only fear of what is likely to be."

I.... don't want to be your enemy.

There was a hard set to her face and stance, "We are both walking a path we cannot stray from. We both know what will happen."

Her eyes closed. Again becoming the unmoving statue the stone of her body suggests she should, by all rights, be. For a moment the runes on her scythe flared, sparking ghosts of memory, but it faded before such memories could become more than smoke in the wind.

Coming here was a mistake, but there is a chance I learned something anyway. A deep breath. Then my awareness shifts again.

Jen has just made it to the entrance to Good Neighbor. Unlike before she has a pair of newbies with her; one a goblin, much like Jen herself, and the other a Leifallan mage of some sort. Hey, a Fighter Rogue, Mage party is a trope for a reason, though I suppose this time Jen is the voice of experience here. Voice of experience. they're all kids, and the other two look even more wet behind the ears than she does.

Good Neighbor was positively inviting as my awareness drifted along. For a time it even invited me to watch its imps working the forge. Where it got the metal I don't know and didn't wish to question, but I could see Bonehead's vambraces. My awareness circled, inspecting the joint work and how they stopped at the knee and ankle. One might be forgiven for thinking since there are no joints on the lower leg that it's easy, and to an extent that's true. However, some flex and give are always better than none. Plus I remember this movie where the wraith creatures that served this giant flaming eye had overlapping plates on the bits of armor that were visible and I absolutely want that as a look for my creatures.

The screws made me wish this place had the sort of standardization that allowed for interchangeable screws back home. Maybe we could introduce that? Maybe it already exists and this necropolis is just in a really dinky part of the world.

While I'd love some etching I wasn't going to require it, especially when looking at the quartet of imps working the forge. I'd consider what was already finished, both with the vambraces and the greaves more than acceptable so long as they could socket soul tears. Only one each if I'm looking this over right. Not ideal, but it is what it is. We can always iterate. Definitely going to want the same for the entire Bone guard, but this set was going to look great on Bonehead, and the mobility penalties shouldn't be that severe.

Nyx's staff similarly was looking great. Wait. was.... yes that was the staff Good Neighbor had as its throne and it's just giving it to me? I'll need to get a proper enchanted gem for the topper, but that'll have to be something to negotiate with Herbie over. I could practically feel the power infused within the wood. In spite of the original owner it felt. Restive. Sedate. Yet all-encompassing. A fitting thing for my avatar of the Night to wield.

Excellent. Going to want to test that out when it's done. Laginn should have a pair of spell books sent over along with a couple of blank books Good Neighbor could write in. Goblin mages might be interesting, or maybe they're priests. Who knows. Well worth the trade to find out.

My awareness flicked to Jen's group. The fighter of the group was going toe to toe with Good Neighbor's Champion. Jen hung back, mostly dealing with the odd add that would try butting in as their wizard kept stone skin up on their fighter. It was an interesting change from how Bonehead fights. Where I was from Goblins were always considered cowards, unwilling to stand and fight. yea, sure this guy wasn't doing the whole 'I shall damage soak with my enormous manhood' but he was far more straightforward. Less footwork, or grip changes. Yet it wasn't a static fight.

I was finding it an interesting matchup. At least until the fighter fell, then when Good Neighbor's champion moved in Jen popped up behind him with a dagger poking him in the ribs.

The Champion merely sighed and dropped his blade, earning him a headlock noogie from Jen. the trio looked at the contents of the chest Good Neighbor had lain out and suddenly there were dice being rolled since all three of them could use bits of it. Then they stuck around to help their mage complete a quest Herbie had lain out involving bits and pieces the imps dropped.

It wouldn't last, but it was moments like this that made the rest bearable.


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