G2A Many GEOs

Tavern request

Magus_Anon Dec 23rd, 2019 1,182 Never
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  1. There they go again.
  3. Vlasov grit his teeth and set down the mug he had been cleaning.
  5. “He’s MINE you smoldering mongrel!”
  7. “He doesn’t want you, you fucking lizard!”
  9. Uroda the salamander and Velox the hellhound clashed in the center of the tavern, knocking aside patrons and tables to reach each other. Ale and wine pooled on the floor as the two narrowly avoided the fleeing customers with their weapons.
  13. Both girls flinched and glanced at the barkeep. Slowly, they inched their way to the door without dropping their guard or looking away from each other. As soon as Uroda was out the door, Velox lunged at her and tackled her into the muddy street. Fire flashed from outside as the brawl resumed. People and monsters flocked to the window to see the fight unfold.
  15. Vlasov fetched a mop and bucket he kept close by and began to wipe up the mess. Some of the more sympathetic customers helped him set the tables and chairs back up. A few of the rickety chairs that had been pulverized in the onslaught were simply tossed into the fireplace.
  17. In the past, Vlasov would have apologized to his patrons for the disruption. Now, anyone in town knew that visiting his tavern presented the risk of being caught in the crossfire of the two enamored fiery monsters.
  19. This tavern was supposed to be Vlasov’s safe haven. A nice quiet place to retire and relax after a life of service in the name of the Order. Now the sleepy village that he had come to call home was a rough and tumble monster infested rape-hole. Hardly any humans remained in Absemoto.
  21. It all started a few months ago when mamono forces seized the town overnight. Literally. One morning Vlasov went to sleep a free man, and the next morning a succubus was shaking him awake to politely inform him that there had been a change in leadership. He was to marry the monster that chose him, and was forbidden from leaving the village from now on.
  23. Though Vlasov was at the mercy of whatever monster chose him to be her husband, he made damn sure that none would want him. The tavern was his home, and he was an Order man at heart. Any monster that dared set foot, hoof, or paw into his home was doomed to poor treatment and verbal abuse. Soon, the tavern became one of the last human-majority haunts in Absemoto. For a time, this worked in Vlasov’s favor. He and the other bachelors would get together every night to drink and grumble about the occupation. But like moths to a flame, mamono quickly came to realize that the tavern was a goldmine of unclaimed men. More diminutive mamono were turned away by their insults, but the more rambunctious monsters saw the men’s defiance as a challenge. One by one, men were taken. Only the most vile and displeasuring men remained unmarried.
  25. As more and more of his friends were taken or got married, Vlasov realized that the monsters were anything but the demons the Order had made them out to be. He saw tough men smile as they held their beloved, shy men walk with their head held high next to their wives, and men who had idled their lives away work with new purpose after finding someone to live for. The village had prospered so much in such a short time. The atmosphere of the town was full of life and joy. Vlasov finally relented, and begrudgingly began to accept mamono entering his tavern. He would never admit that to anyone though. If asked, he would say that he let monsters in because his human clientele was disappearing. He would say that he started serving demon realm food and drink because that’s what his customers wanted, and he had an obligation to keep them happy. And if anyone caught him wistfully staring over the scene of a packed tavern of couples enjoying themselves, he would say that he was just keeping an eye on them to make sure none of them started trouble.
  27. For the most part, none of them did. Sometimes a monster would get too drunk or an argument would start, but the husbands of Absemoto respected Vlasov and their wives respected them. Any disruption was quickly dealt with without any intervention from the stoic barkeep. Until Uroda showed up. A free sword who showed up after the occupational force, she was disappointed to find most of the men already taken. Most of the guards had been the on the frontlines of the invasion, and were consequently the first to be husbanded by the warrior mamono. The remainder of the bachelors were farmers or tradesmen. She had stood in the town square for hours boasting about her skill and how none could defeat her in combat. To her dismay, no one paid the salamander much attention at all. A few spectators stopped for a moment to gawk at the boisterous outsider, before leaving her to her own devices.
  29. The dejected woman had found her way to the bar, no doubt to drink her troubles away when she found Vlasov. As he passed her a mug of ale, her keen eyes spotted his scarred knuckles, a memento of years fighting brigands, bandits, and mercenaries in the Order territories. She hopped up onto the bar and drew her sword, demanding he fight her on the spot. When he refused, she tried to fight him anyways. The scuffle only lasted a moment, before a minotaur guard peeled the fiery lizard off of her quarry. She was ordered by the demon overseeing the town to express her love in a less destructive manner. And to pay Vlasov back for the damage to the bar with actual money, instead of “with her body” as Uroda had suggested.
  31. Vlasov had hoped the fine would teach Uroda a lesson, but the next time she saw him outside the tavern she charged him again. Vlasov was walking back to the tavern with an armload of food when she began to swing at him wildly with her sword. Velox was just passing by when she saw the barkeep being accosted by the salamander. She immediately came to his aid, tossing Uroda aside. Vlasov chalked up the ensuing fight to some bizarre mamono ritual and hurried back to his sanctuary. Ever since, the two had been at each other’s throats the second they saw one another. And since both of them wanted to spend their free time around Vlasov, they fought on a daily basis.
  32. “Don’t worry honey, I’ll take care of her. Just focus on running our tavern.” Said Velox.
  34. “YOUR tavern?! He’s going to turn this place into a martial-arts studio with ME.” Said Uroda.
  36. “Actually, it’s MY tavern, and if you two are going to fight each other again, do it in the street like the animals you are.” Growled Vlasov.
  38. “Fine. Come on, I’ll show you how a WARRIOR fights.” Boasted Uroda.
  40. “I want to eat first.” Said Velox. She frowned and held her stomach as her ears flattened against her head.
  42. This was the other problem with the dithering duo: they were both shameless mooches when it came to Vlasov’s hospitality. Since they each figured they were as good as married to him, they saw his cooking and drink as more of a home cooked meal than a service being provided in exchange for money. Their tabs were almost big enough to replace all the furniture they had broken.
  44. “Are you going to pay this time?” asked Vlasov.
  46. “Of course! What kind of lover do you take me for?” said Velox indignantly. She produced a small pouch with coins and set it down on the bar.
  48. Vlasov sighed and pulled out a small paper pad and charcoal pencil. “What’ll it be?”
  50. “I want two eggs and bacon, extra crispy. And toast with extra jelly. And two pints of ale!” said Velox with a wag of her tail.
  51. “It’s not even noon. Are you seriously drinking?” asked Uroda.
  53. “Is there something wrong with that?”
  55. “Yes! You still have a full day’s work ahead of you! You can’t just get drunk before you do anything!” chided Uroda.
  57. “Pshh… I can handle my booze. Two pints is nothing.” Said Velox proudly.
  59. Vlasov predicted the glint in Uroda’s eyes a moment before it happened.
  61. “Well I can handle MY alcohol better than YOU.” Said Uroda.
  63. “What?! No way. You’re too skinny. Just like you’re too skinny to protect Vlasov.” Said Velox.
  65. “He doesn’t need protection! He needs a partner that can stand as his equal and help him reach new heights!”
  67. “Reach new heights hmm? That certainly won’t be you~” said Velox waving a paw over the salamander’s head. When it came to size, Velox stood a full head above Uroda and probably weighed about one and a half times as much as the slender lizard.
  69. Uroda’s face flushed and her tail blazed.
  71. “Why you- That’s it! I’ll bet I can drink you under the table right now!” shouted Uroda.
  73. “Hah! Not on your life, pipsqueak!” retorted Velox.
  75. “Fine! Vlasov! Get us two mu-“
  77. “Ale is eight gold a mug.” Said Vlasov flatly.
  79. “Eight?!” shouted both girls in unison.
  81. “Eight.”
  83. “But it says that a mug is only two right here…” said Velox pointing to the drink list.
  85. “I see you’ve gotten better at reading.” Snickered Uroda. Velox’s eye flames flared.
  87. “Not anymore. If you two are going to insist on a drinking contest BEFORE LUNCH, then I’m going to have to charge extra for the impending damage.” Said Vlasov.
  89. “There won’t be any damage. She’ll be passed out after her first sip.” Said Velox. “Then you and I can enjoy a nice mug together~”
  91. Vlasov didn’t bat an eye as Velox gave him a wink.
  93. “Do you even have enough money?” asked Uroda.
  95. Velox sorted out her coins with her claws.
  97. “How much was all that food?” she asked.
  99. “Seven gold.” Said Vlasov.
  101. “Oooh?~ What a shame! Looks like you can only afford one pint…” said Uroda.
  103. Velox grit her teeth as her tail lowered in shame. Uroda had found a comfortable and steady employment with the town guard, but Velox was too whimsical and uncontrollable to be hired fulltime by anyone in town. She worked odd jobs or filled in when there was a “conjugal emergency” between two employees, but never had a real job. Uroda took no small amount of pleasure flaunting her comparable wealth in front of the destitute hellhound.
  105. “Honestly, how are you going to protect Vlasov when you can barely afford to feed yourself?” said Uroda.
  107. “Shut up! Having a loyal, caring wife who’s there to pamper him is worth more than anything!” said Velox.
  109. “Here’s your food.” Said Vlasov interrupting their spat. The sooner Velox ate, the sooner they could go slug it out in the alley.
  111. “Oooh!” cooed Velox. Her animosity was instantly forgotten as she scarfed down the first strip of bacon. “Do you have-“
  113. Vlasov passed her a small shaker of pepper and dried chilis, his own house blend of spices. It was one of the things that helped make his tavern famous. In fact, he shipped more of the spice blend to other restaurants and inns than his own brews.
  115. Velox shook a liberal amount of the seasoning onto her eggs before scooping half of the pile into her mouth. Uroda watched as the meal quickly vanished into the hungry hound.
  117. “Vlasov, you don’t want that kind of life, right? You still thirst for the thrill of combat, no? I can see it in your eyes.” Said Uroda trying to drag the other two back into the argument.
  119. “That’s because I want to smack the two of you so bad.” Grumbled Vlasov.
  121. “Then do it! I can take it!” said Uroda thumping herself on the chest.
  123. “He won’t do that. Vlasov is too sweet to be a sadist.” Said Velox.
  125. “It’s more like the “mayor” has told me to let the guards handle things.” Said Vlasov.
  127. “And we GUARDS are working very hard to remove this mangy vagrant from your tavern.” Said Uroda slapping Velox on the back. The hellhound didn’t even flinch as the blow connected.
  129. “Ahhh…”
  131. Velox let out a contented sigh and slumped over onto the bar.
  133. “No napping.” Said Vlasov.
  135. “Come ooonnnn~ It’s not like you’re busy at this time.” Said Velox, stretching her arms across the bar.
  137. “People will be here for lunch soon. If you want to sleep, go find a shady tree.” Said Vlasov.
  139. “I’m sure your bed would be much more comfortable~” grinned Velox.
  141. “It sure is.” Said Uroda.
  143. Velox stiffened. “How would you know?” she asked skeptically.
  145. “Because he’s my fiancé silly. It’s only natural that his lover would know every crease and contour of his mattress. And his body.” Said Uroda smugly.
  147. Obviously none of that was true. Uroda did indeed know what Vlasov’s mattress felt like, but only because she had broken into his room when he was out of town. He instantly knew who the culprit was when he found all of his old armor polished and strewn about the floor, and scorch marks at the foot of his bed. About one tail length away from the headboard to be exact. When he went to the guard about the incident, Uroda demanded that he come to the barracks to “take a statement” for the record. Once inside, she grilled him for hours about his armor and past exploits. Shockingly, no culprit was ever found and no suspects were ever brought forwards. The case was thrown out after a month.
  149. Velox was nonetheless shaken by the obvious fib. She quickly looked between the sneering salamander and the stoic barkeep.
  151. “Is that true?” she asked Vlasov quietly.
  153. “No.” said Vlasov.
  155. “He’s just shy. You know how he is.” Said Uroda.
  157. Velox knew. The whole reason that Vlasov didn’t talk to her, and told her to leave all the time, and demanded she not touch him was his anxiety. Once he was safely nestled between her breasts, he would surely praise her and tell her what a wonderful wife she was and how happy he was to have her keeping him safe. Unless Uroda got to him first.
  159. “You’re lying!” said Velox.
  161. “I know it’s hard to accept, but that’s just the way it is.” Shrugged Uroda. “Maybe you can find someone you can actually “protect” in a different town?”
  163. Velox snarled and lunged at Uroda. The salamander drew her sword. Vlasov lunged over the bar and grabbed Velox by the scruff of her neck.
  165. “OUT! OUT DAMNIT! NO FIGHTING INSIDE!” he shouted, shoving the hulking hound towards the exit.
  167. Uroda let out a battle cry and tackled Velox. The hellhound fell back onto a table, turning it into matchwood. Lifting the salamander off of her, she threw the smaller monster towards the exit. The door was ripped off its hinges as Uroda careened through. Velox hurried through the ruined door frame after her. Someone screamed from outside as the fight continued. Vlasov sighed as the telltale sound of an approaching guard squad heralded the end of the skirmish. Fetching the broom and dustpan, (both now considerably worn), he began to clean up the scraps of the melee.
  169. ~~~~~
  171. “You know what the solution is right?” asked Amak.
  173. “Find one of the critters who can put up a ward for me to keep those two out?” asked Vlasov.
  175. “Come on, Vlasov. You’re going to have to marry eventually. The only reason you haven’t been raped already is because everyone knows the dynamic duo are head over heels for you.” Said Amak.
  177. “I know…” said Vlasov.
  179. Amak was the closest thing Vlasov had to a friend in Absemoto. Vlasov was cordial and courteous to everyone who dined or drank at his tavern, and as such was on good terms with most people in town. But few could truly call him a friend. The only reason Amak had any more leeway with the reticent community pillar was his job as a server and cook at the tavern. He had been employed there almost as long as Vlasov had been running the place.
  181. “I think they’re sweet. Going through such lengths to prove their love to you.”
  183. Lipiz, Amak’s unicorn wife, set a bowl of piping hot goulash in front of Vlasov. Lipiz was one of the first monsters that Vlasov had had prolonged exposure to. She had found Amak soon after she arrived with the invading force as a medic, and the two quickly fell in love and married. Her kind attitude and diligent work quickly melted any doubts Vlasov harbored about her. In fact, she was the main reason that he began to allow monsters in the saloon at all. Her culinary skills with demon realm foods were second to none, and drew in dozens of travelers and townsfolk every week.
  185. “I find it much less endearing when they’re ruining my livelihood and home.” Said Vlasov.
  187. “The second you marry one of them is the second this all ends. Mamono won’t go after taken men, so whoever you don’t choose will find someone else.” Said Amak.
  189. “After they burn the tavern down in a jealous rage.”
  191. Lipiz groaned. “You are so negative sometimes! How anyone could spend so much of their life avoiding people who care about him is beyond me. What do you have against love?”
  193. “I don’t think it’s unreasonable for them to express their “love” in a way that wasn’t running me out of business.”
  195. “You’re doing it to yourself at this point. Everyone in town knows that they won’t stop until you’re claimed. Velox is actually really well behaved for a hellhound I hear.” Said Amak.
  197. “That’s true! Her sisters just raped their husbands on the spot.” Said Lipiz.
  199. “Somehow that doesn’t make me feel any better…” said Vlasov.
  201. “You don’t have to get married right away either you know. If you want to have a more traditional human relationship you could just start dating one of them.” Offered Lipiz.
  203. “Which one do you like more anyways?” asked Amak.
  205. Vlasov cocked an eyebrow at him. Amak and Lipiz stared back at him intently.
  207. “Neither.”
  209. “I’ll bet it’s both.” Declared Amak.
  211. Lipiz gasped. “Of course! That’s why he’s so reluctant. The poor dear can’t make up his mind. You can’t blame him though. If I were him, I wouldn’t be able to break one of their hears either.”
  213. “That’s not how it is!” said Vlasov.
  215. “Oh? Do you have someone else you’re interested in?” asked Amak.
  217. “No.”
  219. Amak pursed his lips and gave Vlasov a condescending look. “Ladies aren’t exactly beating down your door, Vlasov.” He looked back at the jury-rigged door blocking the exit. “Well, they are, but you know what I mean. It’s not like you have any other suitors. You should be thankful anyone saw past that shell of yours in the first place.”
  221. “Is it a physical thing? Do you have a different preference? It can be upsetting, but most mamono know that men have an aesthetic preference for bodies…” said Lipiz.
  223. “Don’t you two have anything better to do than speculate about my private life?” said Vlasov setting down the mug he had been cleaning.
  224. Amak and Lipiz looked around the tavern. There was a table of old men playing cards with their wives sitting at the table next to them. The satyros bard who played music for the tavern was chatting with a honeybee while playing a harp. An unconscious ogre surrounded by empty mugs snuggled her husband at the other end of the bar. Every other table was empty.
  226. “No.” said Lipiz and Amak.
  228. “We can ask other people if you want. I’m sure they’ll be happy to give their opinions on the state of your not-affairs.” Said Amak.
  230. “No! No. That isn’t fair, Amak. Asking monsters about monster affairs is cheating.” Said Vlasov.
  232. “Mamono and incubi are all that’s left in town if you haven’t noticed. Which means that EVERYONE is going to take our side with this.” Said Amak hooking an arm around Lipiz’s waist. She placed her own hand over his and smiled.
  234. “People will only get less sympathetic. Unless you’re holding out for a certain species, you should really just make your choice. It’s hard to feel sympathy for you when you know the consequences of your inaction.” Said Lipiz.
  236. “What do you mean “holding out”? Why would that have any bearing on things?” asked Vlasov.
  238. “If you really do want a wife of a specific species, you can get what’s called a mana marker. The mark attracts that species to you, and signals to all the other mamono that you are looking for someone of that species.” Said Lipiz.
  240. “And monsters would leave me alone if I had that mark?” asked Vlasov.
  242. “Oh no. No, no, no. Vlasov I can see where you’re heading with this and that’s a bad idea. Marking yourself to get rid of those two is only inviting trouble. The mark is only for people who REALLY want a specific species. Unless you really do have some fetish for fins or fuzz, don’t try it.” Said Amak.
  244. “He’s right. It will end up as more of a curse than a ward.” Said Lipiz.
  246. “Where would I even get a marker? I’ve never heard of any service like that in Absemoto.” Said Vlasov.
  248. Lipiz and Amak looked at each other.
  250. “I’m not sure we should tell you…” said Lipiz.
  252. “I can find out from other mamono you know. I know for a fact that I could learn everything there is to know about mana markers in exchange for a well-placed free drink.” Said Vlasov.
  254. “He’s right. You can’t beat the power of free booze.” Said Amak.
  256. “Dear…” said Lipiz.
  258. “Hey, we warned him. It’s his life to ruin.” Shrugged Amak. “One of the dark mages or sabath witches should be able to help you out.”
  259. Vlasov grinned and went back to polishing his mug.
  261. “If you pick something, at least try to make it something that won’t cause trouble.” Pleaded Lipiz.
  263. “Don’t worry, I can take care of myself.” Said Vlasov.
  265. ~~~~~~~
  267. A few days later Vlasov entrusted the tavern to Lipiz and Amak during the slow hours to go and get a mana marker. One of the dark mages that frequented his tavern assured him that she was capable of preforming the spell.
  269. “You’re lucky you asked me to do this now. I just got some fresh stock of mana samples in!” said the mage as she sat Vlasov down at a small table.
  271. He looked around the dingy shop. The entirety of the single-room store was coated in dust and clutter. Did he really want to have this woman cast a spell on him? The warnings that Amak and Lipiz had given him echoed in his mind.
  273. “So, Mr. Vlasov, what kind of girl do you desire?” asked the mage, resting her chin in her hands. “Oh! Wait! Let me guess! Something small right? I bet you’re a cuddler.”
  275. “Uh, no. I was actually hoping for something exotic.” Said Vlasov.
  277. “Exotic?” frowned the mage.
  279. “Yeah. I’ve heard that there are a lot of species that aren’t endemic to this region. Isn’t that true?”
  281. “It is. What were you thinking exactly?”
  283. “Anything really. Do you have a list of species from places far away from here?” asked Vlasov.
  285. “I do, but that may not be a good idea. Even if you’re marked, that doesn’t mean that a monster will just appear on your doorstep. It would be so sad to put in all this effort and never see the girl of your dreams…” said the mage.
  287. “All the more reason to try.” Said Vlasov.
  289. The dark mage smiled. “I suppose your right. Love always seems to win out in the end. So, back to what your preferred species was…”
  290. “I uh… can’t remember what they were called. Do you have a list?” asked Vlasov.
  292. “No, but I can tell you what mana samples I have. How far away was the region they live in?” said the mage, shuffling off to go get vials of condensed mana.
  294. “REALLY far.” Said Vlasov.
  296. “Ahh. Must have been Zipangu.”
  298. The dark mage slipped a few vials out of their stands and brought them over.
  300. “Just let me know when you hear the name of the species you want. Inari, ryu, jurougumo, nureonago, oni, ka-“
  302. “That one.” Said Vlasov.
  304. “An oni?” asked the dark mage.
  306. “Yeah.”
  308. “Oh ho! That’s a surprise. I had you pegged for a snuggler. Though I do hear that oni are fond of cuddles.” She smiled. “Let me just take a bit of this…”
  310. The mage uncorked a vial labeled “oni” and poured a drop of the viscous fluid on her finger. A waft of air from the vial hit Vlasov, and he shifted uncomfortably as a wave of arousal washed over him. That condensed mana was powerful stuff…
  312. “… And then this!” said the dark mage. She flourished her hands and the drop of goo on her finger evaporated. Waving her hands around in a circle, a translucent ball gradually formed in front of her, as if she was shaping fog. With a grunt, she pushed her hands outwards towards Vlasov. The sphere enveloped him and he shut his eyes instinctively.
  314. “All set!” said the dark mage dusting her hands together.
  316. “… Did it work?” asked Vlasov inspecting his body. He didn’t feel different…
  318. “Of course it worked! I doubt you’ll see any effect for a while though… not may oni around here.” Said the mage.
  320. “Thank you for your help.” Said Vlasov sliding a small pouch of coins over the table to her.
  322. “Any time! Oh, and when are you making more of that berry wine?” asked the mage excitedly.
  324. “Not until next year. It’s seasonal. When the berries run out, so does the wine.” Said Vlasov.
  326. “What?! Urgh… Maybe I can find a way to grow them indoors…” mused the mage.
  328. “If you do, I’ll be happy to buy them from you.” Said Vlasov. He waved goodbye and left the mage to her own devices.
  330. ~~~~~
  332. Vlasov noticed the marker’s effects as soon as he entered the tavern. As he passed a table of monsters, he heard a soft gasp. Looking back, he could see a succubus gawking at him. She leaned in to whisper something to the others at her table, and they looked at him too.
  334. “So, you actually did it…” said Amak. Vlasov noticed the disappointment in his voice.
  336. “Yeah. It’s settled.” Said Vlasov brusquely.
  338. “What species did you choose?” asked Amak.
  340. Vlasov grinned. “It’s one of those turtles from the other side of the world.”
  342. “Turtles?” asked Amak.
  344. “Yeah. I heard about ‘em from a succubus explorer who had been all over the world. Said that these turtle girls in Zipangu were real docile. Wouldn’t lift a finger, fin actually, against you.”
  346. Amak thought for a moment. “An umi osho?”
  348. “That’s it. Or however you say it.” Said Vlasov.
  350. “That’s low Vlasov.”
  352. Vlasov looked at his partner through the order window. Amak was glaring down at the stove he was working on, slowly stirring a pot of stew.
  354. “What do yo-“
  356. “If they were really that much of a nuisance, you could have just told them how they could fix themselves. Or that you weren’t interested. Why they would be interested in a guy who’s too cowardly to reject someone is beyond me.” Said Amak.
  358. Vlasov stared at him. He’d never heard Amak say anything so bold.
  360. “It’s my life. I’ll do with it as I please.” Said Vlasov.
  362. “Shame that you only work to please yourself.” Growled Amak.
  364. Vlasov huffed and left him to his work. The rest of the night, he tried to think about why Amak was so angry. Did Amak think that Vlasov wouldn’t actually get the mark? No matter. The boy would cool off eventually.
  366. The tavern door bursting open interrupted Vlasov’s train of thought. Velox was on all fours, wildly sniffing at the ground. Customers stared as she snuffled her way to the bar. Once there, she finally laid eyes on Vlasov and gasped.
  368. “Vlasov?” she said.
  370. “Yes?”
  372. Velox stared at him with a perplexed look. After a moment, her face scrunched up, and she frowned.
  374. “You… Are you… What happened?” she said.
  376. “I got a mana marker.” Said Vlasov.
  378. Velox’s ears drooped. “What?”
  380. “I said I got a mana marker.” Repeated Vlasov.
  382. “Why?”
  384. Vlasov was taken aback by her tone. The monstrous hellhound was now looking down at him with tears in her eyes and a quivering voice.
  385. “Well, to meet my favorite spe-“
  387. Vlasov jumped as Amak slammed a cleaver down through a flank of beef. He glared at Vlasov through the order window.
  389. “Oh…”
  391. Velox looked more like a liquid than a person as she slid away from the bar. Her tail drooped behind her as she slowly slunk away. A table of mamono glared past her at Vlasov. They tossed a few coins down onto the table as payment, and hurried off to go comfort Velox as she began to cry. Vlasov noticed that the tavern had become uncomfortably quiet. Incubi and monsters alike were glancing at him, only to turn away when he returned their gaze.
  393. “Looks like it works, boss.” Said Amak.
  395. Vlasov grunted and continued to clean the bar. Damn straight it worked. Now the tavern could operate normally again.
  397. “HE WHAT?!”
  399. Vlasov flinched as Uroda’s shriek echoed through the town square. A moment later, she burst through the door.
  401. “Vlasov! Tell me you didn’t get a mana mark!” said the salamander, running up to the bar.
  403. “I did.” He said.
  405. “Why?! Was I not strong enough? I can get stronger! I can improve my form! I can help out around the tavern, or quit the watch and just work as a bouncer here! For free even! Just don’t cut me out of your life like this…” pleaded Uroda.
  407. “It… it’s already been done. There’s nothing I can do about it.” Stammered Vlasov.
  409. Uroda let out a rasping sob and slammed her fists into the bar. As she pushed herself off the wood, her claws raked grooves into the smooth surface. Vlasov didn’t say anything as she ran out of the tavern.
  411. All eyes were on him. During Velox’s tantrum, the patrons of the tavern had been polite enough to whisper amongst themselves. After the second spectacle, it was impossible to ignore the elephant in the room.
  413. “What are you looking at? Back to your meals.” Said Vlasov. The crowd continued to stare.
  415. “It ain’t right to toy with lasses’ hearts like that son…” quipped an old man.
  417. Vlasov swallowed the knot in his throat. Even the remaining human denizens of the town were upset by the melodramatic turn of events.
  418. That night, the tavern was almost empty. The few people that did stop by ordered their food and got out as fast as possible. Vlasov slouched over the bar and listened to the logs crackle in the fireplace. He could stoke the fire, but there was really no need if people were going to avoid the place. Stepping out from behind the bar, he moseyed over to the window and looked outside. The denizens of Absemoto were just as effervescent and lively as ever. Most of them anyways…
  420. Fine. Let them skulk. They’ll come back soon enough.
  422. ~~~~~~~
  424. Vlasov tapped his fingers on the bar. Business had not rebounded as he had hoped. Now that there were no customers to serve, no inventory to take, no mugs to clean, or firewood to chop, Vlasov had a lot of free time on his hands. Too much free time. He straightened as the door opened.
  426. “Welcome!” he said cheerfully.
  428. Amak grunted and handed him a letter and a small bag of coins.
  430. “What’s this?” asked Vlasov.
  432. “I don’t know. Something from Uroda. She told me to give it too you.” Said Amak. The man turned around and made for the door.
  433. “Where are you going?” asked Vlasov.
  435. “Vacation. Lipiz is going to visit her family and I’m going with her. I figured it would be a good time, what with the lull in business.” Said Amak.
  437. Vlasov narrowed his eyes as his chef left without so much as a goodbye. Perhaps he had underestimated the spite of mamono…
  438. Opening the letter, he began to read.
  440. “Dear Vlasov. Amak told me and Velox about what happened. I just wanted to apologize for my actions. So does Velox. We got so caught up in our own fights that we forgot to take into account the feelings of the man we love. I didn’t realize how much the tavern meant to you. To us, it was always a venue for a fight, but to you it was your life’s work and livelihood. So please take this money that Velox and I raised for repairs and get any damages that we caused fixed. We promise to stay away from now on. I hope that we can still be friends; we still consider you our friend.”
  442. The word ‘love’ was scratched out, replaced with ‘from’. Uroda’s sweeping signature was written underneath, next to the inky blob that must have been Velox’s own fumbling attempt at writing her name. Vlasov chuckled at the thought of Velox trying to hold a quill in her sizable paws.
  444. He hefted the bag of money and sighed. All the repairs were already complete. It’s not like it was that expensive; carpentry had become cheap now that dryads could form custom wood pieces. All Vlasov wanted was the peaceful decorum of the cheery inn to return.
  445. The door to the tavern opened, and there was a loud thud. Loud swearing echoed through the silent room as a massive red skinned woman rubbed her head where she had hit it against the door frame.
  447. “Welcome!” said Vlasov. Despite the woman’s crude language, he was desperate for conversation.
  449. “Huh? Oh, Hi.” Said the woman. She inspected the tavern as she strode towards the bar.
  451. Vlasov took a good look at her while she stepped towards him. She was at least a head taller than he was, even bigger than Velox. Amazonian was the only word to describe her physique. Her chiseled muscles were partially concealed under an amalgam of fine leather armor and bits of furs. Where her crimson skin was exposed, Vlasov could see a patchwork of scars detailing of a litany of battles. As she took a seat at the bar, she set down the spiked club she wielded and sighed. She smiled and looked down at Vlasov. Her horns only added to her imposing aura.
  453. “I hear this is a good place to get a drink. What do you have?” she asked, leaning onto the bar.
  455. “A wide variety of drinks. Ales, mead, wine, spirits…” said Vlasov.
  457. “Hmm… What’s the house special?” she asked.
  459. “I’m quite proud of the blackberry infused mead I make.” Said Vlasov.
  461. “Alright, one of those then.” Said the woman.
  463. Vlasov felt her eyes on him as he filled a mug for her. She maintained an aloof look as she took the mead and gave it a sniff.
  465. “So, is this your tavern?” she asked, sipping the drink.
  467. “Yes.”
  469. The woman looked around. “Do you work here all by yourself?” she asked.
  471. “No, but this is a slow season for business. I don’t need more than myself.” Lied Vlasov.
  473. “Hmm…”
  475. The woman went back to staring at Vlasov. It was like he reminded her of something. Her eyes narrowed as he stared back.
  477. “So, what brings you into town? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one of your species here before.” Said Vlasov glancing away to break eye contact.
  479. “I go where my work takes me. I’m a mercenary.” Said the woman patting the hilt of her weapon. “…As if that wasn’t obvious.”
  481. “And what exactly are you? If you don’t mind me asking.” Said Vlasov. That was one of the things that he appreciated most about mamono. They were always happy to explain more about their race. No questions about their physiology or culture were ever taken personally.
  483. “Oni.” Grunted the woman.
  485. “Oh! You’re from that one island right? Zipangu was it?”
  487. She smiled. “That’s the one. Been a long time since I’ve been back though.” She finished her drink and licked her lips. “Say, barkeep, what’s your name?” asked the woman.
  489. “Vlasov. Nice to meet you miss…”
  491. “Jakuna” smiled the woman.
  493. “So, Jakuna, are working a job in town yet?” asked Vlasov.
  495. “No. I just felt like wandering this way I suppose. I don’t take that many jobs these days anyways.” She sighed.
  497. “Oh?”
  499. “You look like a warrior, no? All the time on the road, in fights, in dingy bars wears on you. Adventuring has been fun and all, but I know I can’t be traipsing through dungeons forever. I need some stability.”
  501. “I know what you mean.” Nodded Vlasov. She sounded just like he did when he had purchased the tavern from its previous owner.
  503. “I thought you might. Say, are you cooking anything?” asked the oni, sniffing the air.
  505. “No, why?”
  507. “I don’t know… There’s this smell I’ve been following for a few days now. It smells delicious. I was sure it was coming from this tavern though.” She said with a frown.
  509. “Well, I can certainly make you something. I’m quite the chef.” Said Vlasov.
  511. “No…”
  513. Jakuna reached over the bar and grabbed Vlasov by the collar. Dragging him towards her, she took a deep sniff around his neck.
  514. “It’s you!” she exclaimed. “I thought you smelled strange, but this delectable scent I’ve been chasing… There’s no mistake it’s coming from you.” She said.
  516. “W-what? You must be mistaken.” Said Vlasov. He tried to push her away but she didn’t flinch. “Can’t you sense the mark?”
  518. “Mmm… I can.” Jakuna closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Ahh… So bold. To ask for my sisters so brazenly…”
  520. “No! It isn't a mark for your kind!” said Vlasov. The muscles he had cultivated over the years of service to the Order were nothing compared to the oni’s raw strength.
  522. “I can see that the gods must have planned for me to come here. It’s too perfect! A warrior to bed, a place to settle down and raise a family, and all the food and drink I can stomach!” beamed Jakuna.
  524. “Bed?!” Sputtered Vlasov.
  526. She smiled at him and chuckled. “That’s right, dear. You wouldn’t have that mark if you didn’t want me. If you insist on being shy, that’s alright. I’ll be happy to indulge in that tender side of yours~”
  528. She slipped the furs covering her breasts to the side, freeing her breasts. Vlasov tried to push himself away from her, inadvertently kneading her chest in the process.
  530. “Ooh~ Eager, are we? No need to move things to the bedroom then; I’ve always wanted to have my first time on a bar anyways~”
  532. She hoisted Vlasov off his feet, slamming him down on the polished wood. Clambering up onto the bar on top of him, she gave him a long mead-scented kiss.
  534. “You taste even better than that booze you’re so proud of.” Mused Jakuna.
  536. “Get off of him!”
  538. Jakuna and Vlasov looked up to see Uroda standing in the doorway. Velox was standing behind her with her teeth bared.
  540. “Huh? What do you two want? If you came here for lunch then you’ll have to wait until I’m done with mine~” said Jakuna, grinding her hips against Vlasov.
  542. Uroda grit her teeth. “I don’t think he’s interested in you, lady.”
  544. “That’s not what this mark says.”
  546. “It’s what HE says.” Said Velox.
  548. Jakuna groaned and rolled off of Vlasov. Hoisting her club off the ground she ran her fingers along the spikes.
  550. “This one’s mine. The gods themselves sent me to him. Go find some other dick to ride.”
  552. Velox hesitated. “Vlasov, if you really want to be with her, we’ll leave. But if this isn’t just a misunderstanding, then give us a signal.”
  554. “The mark was a mistake. I didn’t mean to get one for an oni!” shouted Vlasov.
  556. Uroda and Velox became noticeably more alert. Their eyes shimmered with renewed hope.
  558. Jakuna glared at him. “I don’t appreciate that tone, dear. I’ll have to beat it out of you later. For now…” The monstrous woman swung her club down, smashing a table to pieces. “I have to deal with these homewreckers.”
  560. “Hey! Don’t break the tables!” shouted Velox.
  562. “Yeah! We just paid for those!” said Uroda.
  564. Jakuna surged towards the door. Velox and Uroda quickly retreated into the town square.
  566. “Cowards! To afraid to face me?” asked Jakuna.
  568. “We told you, he doesn’t like it when people fight in the tavern.” Said Uroda.
  570. “You would know that if you actually loved him.” Said Velox
  572. The oni sauntered forwards, club at the ready. Uroda and Velox were ready for her. Vlasov arrived just in time to witness the first swings as the trio began their fight.
  574. As Jakuna raised her club over her head, Velox lunged at her. Catching the oni off balance, Velox sunk her teeth into Jakuna’s right shoulder. She roared in pain as she peeled the hellhound off with her left hand, holding her by the throat. Uroda stepped in to free her rival, slashing at Jakuna’s right arm to prevent her from beating Velox. Jakuna swore loudly as she worked to deflect Uroda’s strikes with her unwieldy club while having her left arm clawed by Velox. Tossing the hellhound at Uroda, she tried to smash both of them in one swing. Uroda kicked Velox aside and rolled away just in time to avoid being caught in the new pothole Jakuna made. Uroda began to fight more defensively as Velox tried to catch her breath. All of the salamander’s energy was now invested in dodging the massive lump of demon silver Jakuna was trying to beat her with.
  576. Finally breathing normally, Velox scrambled around on all fours to maneuver behind the oni. Jakuna widened her stance to keep both combatants in view. As Uroda thrust her sword at Jakuna’s torso, Velox pounced at her. Jakuna skillfully deflected Uroda’s sword, and in the same twist delivered a nasty backhand to Velox’s face. Velox recoiled with a grunt, holding a paw over her eye. Uroda got greedy and tried to finish Jakuna with a flurry of slashes. Jakuna blocked a few slashes, and slammed her club down. Uroda easily dodged the telegraphed strike, but was caught off guard when the oni released her weapon and grabbed her legs instead. Pulling Uroda off her feet, Jakuna punched her in the stomach and slammed her down on top of Velox.
  578. “Hah! I can’t deny that you fight well. Or perhaps I’m just getting rusty with age.” Jakuna groaned and stretched. Her arms were covered in scratches and bitemarks. Several purple bruises were already beginning to show where Velox had kicked her as she was being choked. She picked up her club and walked back over to the pile of fire girls.
  580. “No matter. I’ll just have that bar tender nurse me back to health.”
  582. “Go to hell.” Spat Uroda.
  584. Jakuna just grinned. Raising the club over her head, she never got the chance to finish them.
  586. Vlasov had learned quite a few tricks in his time serving the order. Bandits were always trouble not because they were skillful fighters, but because they were often cleverer than the soldiers they were facing. A lifetime of swordsmanship was nothing compared to a hidden pit of sharp sticks. He hadn’t survived long enough to retire without picking up a few of their tricks.
  588. Warriors liked to gloat. It was just a thing they did. But they only gloated when they were sure they’d won. Vlasov crept up behind Jakuna as she spoke down to the crumpled couple, and picked up Uroda’s sword. As the oni prepared the coup de grace, Vlasov delivered a sharp kick to the back of her knee. The bewildered barbarian grunted in confusion and staggered. Vlasov seized the opportunity and stabbed at her with the sword.
  590. Jakuna was too quick. Twisting away, she managed to keep the sword from getting too deep into her body. With a roar of anger, she elbowed Vlasov in the chest, sending him flying. Uroda made use of the distraction and pulled a knife out of her belt. Without hesitation, she sunk it into the oni’s chest. Jakuna let out a wheeze and a moan as the realm sliver pierced her. Velox, not to be outdone, grabbed the massive woman’s horns and delivered a gruesome headbutt. Jakuna collapsed as a trickle of juices ran down her thigh.
  592. “Vlasov!” said Uroda.
  594. Velox hurried over to him and let out a long whine. “I think he’s unconscious!”
  596. One of the townsfolk in the crowd broke through the perimeter and hurried over to him.
  598. “He’s alright. I’m more worried about you. That was quite a beating. Can you walk to the clinic?”
  600. “Of course!” said Velox. She picked up Vlasov and cradled him in her arms. “Uroda, can you walk?”
  602. “Urmf… Not well…” grunted the salamander. Something was wrong with her leg after Jakuna had used it to swing her around.
  604. “Then I’ll carry you too!” said Velox. She hurried over to her and managed to get Uroda onto her back.
  606. “Hey! Can’t you just support my weight or something? This is embarrassing…” said Uroda.
  608. “It’s okay, I don’t mind.” Said Velox.
  610. “That’s not what I meant…” muttered Uroda. She sighed and decided to drop the matter. For now, all she wanted was some medicinal herbs and a warm bath.
  612. ~~~~~~
  614. “Honestly, of all the times to get in a fight like that it had to be the one week I was gone!” scolded Lipiz.
  616. The poor unicorn had thrown a fit when she found out that her friend had been beaten up while she was away. She demanded that the tavern close for a few days to allow them to recover. After she had the dark mage remove the mark from Vlasov of course. Vlasov had no choice but to acquiesce; Amak had supported her and refused to do any cooking until Vlasov’s ribs finished healing.
  618. “So, it was an oni huh? Figures you’d be the one to mess up the name like that.” Snickered Amak.
  620. “That’s such a relief though! I was worried that he preferred bigger girls. No amount of training can make me bigger after all.” Said Uroda.
  622. “He DOES prefer bigger girls.” Said Velox.
  624. “She was bigger than you, idiot.”
  626. “Girls, please…” said Vlasov.
  628. “Sorry…” they said in unison.
  630. He sighed. “It’s alright. At least you two are on good enough terms not to smash up my tavern anymore.”
  632. Velox looked at Uroda. “Should we tell him now?”
  634. Uroda blushed and her tail flame crackled. “W-well maybe not now. It’s kind of late and I have a watch shift later. And I’m sure Vlasov is really busy-“
  636. “We decided to share you.” Said Velox, pulling Uroda’s head into her cleavage.
  638. Vlasov dropped the mug he was cleaning. Amak overflowed the cup he was filling. Lipiz squealed and hurried over to congratulate them.
  640. “Share?” said Vlasov weakly.
  642. “Yeah. Normally I wouldn’t be too keen with having to share my honey with anyone, but it’s clear that Uroda has more in mind for you than just a business partner.” Said Velox.
  644. Uroda was whimpering into Velox’s chest. The hellhound stroked the salamander’s hair affectionately.
  646. “What about her?! Surely she wouldn’t have agreed to this.” Said Vlasov.
  648. “She’s the one who proposed it. Funny, she got all excited and told me she was going to “bust down the door to that tavern and show him who he belongs to.” But she’s all quiet now…”
  650. “Please stop talking! That’s embarrassing!” said Uroda, emerging from Velox’s cleavage for air.
  652. “I didn’t agree to any of this.” Said Vlasov.
  654. “You don’t get to say no.” said Uroda, spinning around to face him while her head was sandwiched by Velox’s breasts.
  656. “And why is that?” asked Vlasov.
  658. “Because we decided to take you by force if you didn’t consent.” Said Velox matter-of-factly.
  660. “What?!”
  662. “That was actually HER contribution to this whole plan.” Said Uroda smugly. “The town guard has already agreed not to interfere.”
  664. “I saved you two from getting squashed!”
  666. “Squashed by the oni YOU lured here. Don’t forget that this mess is your fault.” Said Uroda.
  668. “I never meant for either of you to get hurt.” Said Vlasov.
  670. “I know. We appreciate you saving us. That’s why I’ll be gentle tonight!” said Velox. “But if you feel like resisting, that’s fine too. More than fine actually~”
  672. “You should probably just listen to us. Either one of us is strong enough to take you on our own.” Said Uroda.
  674. “So, I’m property now?” asked Vlasov.
  676. “Of course not! But you do have to listen to us.” Said Uroda.
  678. “And make us lots of food! Oh! And let us drink all the beer we want!” said Velox.
  680. “I can’t believe you two agreed on anything…” said Vlasov.
  682. “That’s what you think until you experience this.” Said Uroda, nuzzling deeper into Velox’s cleavage and hefting the breasts beside her head. “It feels heavenly.”
  684. No argument there…
  686. “I’m so happy! I’ll start knitting some little onesies right away!” said Lipiz.
  688. “Onesies?” said Vlasov softly.
  690. “Make sure they’re fireproof!” said Velox.
  692. “That reminds me, we’ll need to get new sheets for our bed. It’ll be a tight squeeze to fit all three of us on there, but I figured it would all work out since we’ll be sleeping on top of each other.” Said Uroda.
  694. “How’s the frame? Do you think it’s strong enough?” said Velox.
  696. “I guess that depends on how frisky you’re going to be.” Said Uroda.
  698. “Ha! No bed in the world can support THESE hips.” Said Velox running her paws along her powerful waist.
  700. Uroda looked at her own svelte form and frowned.
  702. “Are you jealous? It’s okay, I think you’re pretty cute.” Said Velox squeezing Uroda’s sides.
  704. “I am not cute! And it doesn’t matter what you think anyways. Vlasov! Which body type do you prefer? Surely you see the practicality and sophistication of a lithe, slender maiden right?” said Uroda.
  706. “How about we find out right now~” said Velox. Lunging over the bar, she slung Vlasov over her shoulder. Wrapping her other arm around Uroda’s midriff, she football carried the other two off towards Vlasov’s room.
  708. “What a bunch of dorks.” Said Amak.
  710. “Dear! Don’t be rude. I think they’re sweet.” Said Lipiz.
  712. There was a loud crunch from Vlasov’s room accompanied by Uroda and Vlasov yelling something at Velox. Their cries were quickly muffled, and converted into moans.
  714. “I hope you have some magic to deal with sleep deprivation.” Said Amak.
  716. “Unfortunately not. He’ll just have to get used to it.”
  718. Amak pulled out the ‘closed’ sign and hung it on the door. Some of the mamono who were present when the fight went down gave him a knowing grin and a nod.
  720. “You better be able to run the tavern with those two, old man. I still need this job…”
  722. ~~~~~~
  724. Vlasov surveyed the tavern from behind his bar. Things had never really returned to normal after he tied the knot with Velox and Uroda. Business had picked up once the drama was finished, but at Uroda’s behest the tavern had gone lengths to attract a more ‘rough and tumble’ crowd. Adventurers and mercenaries were now regulars, mingling with the townsfolk of Absemoto. If one wished, they could always choose to dine in a more upscale room away from the main hall to avoid the noise and decorum of military mamono and men.
  726. Uroda had surprised everyone with her cooking. The menu now featured several drinks and dishes from her home in the Basalt Plains. Most had an asterisk mentioning that the spices used were not to be taken lightly.
  728. Velox kept her word and worked to protect the tavern while waiting tables. She quickly won over her clients with her cheerful attitude and banter. The more unsavory customers quickly learned that the only winner in a barfight would be the hellhound.
  730. “Are you feeling alright?” asked Uroda. She put her arms around him and rested her head on his shoulder.
  732. “Yeah, just… taking it all in.” said Vlasov putting his hand over hers.
  734. “Mmm.” Hummed Uroda.
  736. “Hey, don’t leave me out of that.” Said Velox, hurrying over to the bar.
  738. Vlasov stroked her head as she wagged her tail.
  740. “How long until closing?” asked Velox.
  742. “Two hours.” Said Vlasov.
  744. Velox made eye contact with Uroda and grinned. She tugged the collar of her shirt down and pulled one of her breasts out.
  746. “…One hour.” Said Vlasov.
  748. Uroda’s clawed hand moved south, groping and needing at Vlasov’s crotch. “Are you sure we can’t close early? It’s a slow night…” she whispered.
  750. “Not for long~” said Velox.
  752. “Half an hour!” said Vlasov.
  754. “Alright, we’ll hold you to that.” Said Uroda.
  756. “And I’ll hold you to her.” Winked Velox.
  758. Uroda went back to the kitchen, giving Vlasov a smack on the butt with her tail as she left. Vlasov watched Velox walk away, tail happily wagging behind her as she spoke with some customers. Pulling a mug from the shelf under the bar, he poured himself a mug of ale and watched his friends and loved ones mingle as he counted down the minutes until he could be with his wives.
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