Chapter 16 : { Toxic } Jungle

We arrived in front of the { Toxic } Jungle via the earth beast Atira had lent to us. What awaited us was a mismatch collection of plants that seemed to be smashed together as if to appear more colorful.

[ This one does not wish to enter such a hideous grouping of weeds. ]

I turned to look at her expression of disgust. For once, I did not feel like saying anything to her about it. She was right. The dungeon owner had the worst taste, Lapis did her best, however, to turn it around.

[ This is a great leveling area. Many of Great Mother’s monsters have leveled here. ]

Queen did not seem to like that answer.

[ Did this one ever hint at a desire to be the ‘same’ as Atirakos’ monsters. ]

Lapis looked down and shook her head.

[ No… You did not. ]

That was the sign…

Ignoring Amber’s glares I stretched with a loud ah sound towards the sky.

[ Alright. Let’s all level up. ]

The fair handmaidens seemed to share Queen’s extreme dislike on the idea. The rest seemed more willing. The crazy ants and earth pixies were competing to see who was the most eager. Bu-chan coming up beside me to rub his head against me.

(Ready!)

I smiled at him.

I can’t believe I ever thought he was anything but adorable.

(This one wishes to get this over with.)

(We concur!)

(Please, My Grace!)

(Wise as always, My Queen!)

(Let us hurry!)

I turned my head on them.

There is no hope for them.

The pixies swirling around me.

(Let’s go!)

(Can we go now!)

(Go, go, go!)

My monsters were beginning to give me a headache. I hopped on Bu-chan’s back and lead the way into the { Toxic } Jungle.

We had been slashing our way through poisonous plants, man-eating plants, stalker vines and endless mushrooms for what felt like hours when we arrived at a beautiful clearing. A giant whimsical tree stodd right off the center. Beautiful bright red flowers blooming all over what looked like a somewhat dead looking tree. Lapis quickly stepping forward ahead of us.

[ This clearing holds the monster in charge of maintaining this dungeon. We have to walk past it. ]

A monster? I heard the Demon Lord was dead, but…

[ Oh? ]

Queen walked ahead without us noticing, She stood in the center of the clearing annoyed.

[ This one demands that the child of the tree comes out and greets this one properly. ]

Child of the tree? A dryad perhaps?

Poisonous gas seeped from the tree. The roots extending as if to become a labyrinth beneath out feet. Walking out from the tree was a scantily clad pissed off looking bark woman.

Weren’t dryads supposed to be pretty? She looked kind of old.

[ As if I’d great a child of { Earth }. Our agreement stands. Go back now before I ban you. ]

Ban us?

Annoyed, I stepped forward.

[ My children are no monsters of { Earth }. Don’t presume you know everything, shriveled up hag. ]

The woman turned to look at me. Her face was even uglier when it twisted with anger.

[ H-A-G! You disrespectful brat! I am the beautiful Berry of { Toxic } Demon Lord Vepar! ]

I shrugged.

[ Never heard of her. ]

Queen next to me shook her head in disappointment.

[ This one is disappointed you don’t remember. She’s the evil ugly one that is dead. ]

(I know who she is.)

(This one was playing along.)

(By insulting me?)

(…)

[ Ugly! My Master’s beauty was known to all the world! ]

I tilted my head in confusion.

[ Wait. Is she the one who lost the man she was after to { Ice }? ]

Amber nodded his head.

[ Yes. Vepar was chasing the Divine Craftsman {Alchemy } Demon Lord Ciesis for years. She often fought with Great Mother of this. ]

Now he gets involved?

[ But not { Ice }. Her actual rival? ]

He shook his head.

[ No way. The Mistress was way to powerful for to even think about it. ]

A cat like smile appeared on my face.

[ But Atira wasn’t? ]

Gallecki finally interrupting.

[ Amber, there’s no need to go run your mouth about what kids used to do. ]

Oh, was this during the spring of Atira?

[ Will you guys stop ignoring me! ]

We all turned to look at her. The dead looking tree roots were squirming on the ground.

I wonder if this beauty nonsense is because {Toxic } doesn’t seem to have been able to make pretty looking things.

[ This one wonders why you’re still here? ]

Ah, that’s a bit harsh.

[ The agreement was that { Earth } Demon Lord could use this dungeon if she left the crystal alone. That doesn’t apply to her followers! ]

Oh… ME A FOLLOWER OF THAT FILTHY LOLI.

I smiled at her. You could easily tell it was a smile meant to warn that death was coming.

[ So not only was your Demon Lord a coward, but so was her monsters. ]

The roots began to slap the ground in anger.

[ Take that back! ]

I shook my head no.

[ I don’t feel like it. ]

Lapis looked up at me with her puppy dog eyes.

[ No one is a level 72 A rank here. Please withdraw for now, Saintess. ]

Eh, only 72?

I cracked up laughing.

[ You mean she’s had all of these years to level up ad she hasn’t? ]

The hags tamped her feet in frustration.

[ I was a new monster when my master died! ]

My laughing got louder.

[ That is so pathetic. ]

Gallecki looking at me anxious.

[ Now, Lass, let’s not pour oil over a fire. ]

Citrine besides him on the other hand seemed super pumped.

[ Let’s finish her already! ]

Tiger Eye rolled his eyes at his older sister.

[ Great Mother specifically told us to leave her be. ]

I gave them a thubs up.

[ That’s fine. We don’t need you. ]

The roots started to whip towards us.

[ I told you to stop ignoring me! ]

{Queen.}

The toxic tree roots froze in mid air before they got close to reaching us.

[ Honestly, I thought she’d be smarter then that. ]

All my monsters nodded their heads.

Even my dumber monsters could tell on a competition of Earth she was sorely mismatched.

[ Come. This hag will be a great leveling event. ]

(Queen, give the kids a chace to gain experience.)

She pouted but walked over to me. I took a picnic blanket out of my storage as well as the snack we had prepared. The twoo of us gesturing for Atira’s children and Gallecki to sit. Citrine seemed bummed out to not be fighting but excited for the food.

[ I was starving. You’re always so prepared! ]

They all sat down except Lapis. She looked anxious  as she was watching the fighting. The skeletons seemed to understand to stay at the very back and chop whatever roots came up around them. The two Earth fairies were on opposite ends. One made random earth walls to block vines and the other made quick pits and covers for the ants. The three pixies seemed to zoom around being meddlesome. While, the four handmaidens assumed the role of front line fighting. Queen nodded her head in approval.

[ The kids are holding out well. ]

I nodded my head in agreement. The two of us ignoring the reactions of the others. We didn’t only train with them. Plus, my abilities had some tricks.

[ It’s about time for us to finish the fight. The kids will not win in a battle of attrition. ]

Queen stood up.

[This one agrees. ]

I pulled out my bow and fired a warning shot. My monsters retreated and the dryad turned to look at me, wounded and pissed.

[ You little pieces of- ]

Suddenly, she took a step forward holding her head.

[ What are you doing to me? ]

I sighed.

[ It’s sort of a pain to explain, but since you’re dying I can at least five you an explanation. ]

I fired four more of my arrows, magic imbued in each one. The dryad standing stiff as if she was bound.

Queen moved slowly forward, pulling out her pair of skinning blades.

[ My expertise isn’t earth magic. It’s mental magic. Meaning most of the time here I’ve been eating away at your mind and soul. ]

I raised my bow at her. Queen looking absolutely ecstatic as the handmaidens cheered her on. Most of my monsters were.

Except for my loyal skeletons and Bu-chan.

[ This one will end it quick as a gift for my children’s efforts. ]

I smiled. The lasting effects of confusion and vertigo disappearing from her.

[ You can’t do this! Do you hear me! You can’t kill me! We have an agreement! ]

[ “We” don’t. ]

Queen appeared before her and cut her head off her body. The roots withering away. My attention on the tree.

[ So the tree remains. ]

Lapis seemed to be looking at me scared.

[ I wonder how long it can las without its nutrient source? ]

Ignoring everyone’s reactions I walked up to the tree to examine it.

[ The tree seems to be interesting. The value is high as well. ]

Turning back around I smiled at the {Earth} fairies.

[ I trust you can provide research help to maintain the tree. ]

The looked at me warily.

[ Between the two of us… ]

[ What do you need? ]

[ At least two other earth fairies and someone who can use water. ]

Crap, I forgot earth fairies only use earth. Wait!

I turned to Lapis.

[ Once a week you’ll come with the earth faires to water the tree. A few of my monster swill come and guard you. ]

Amber scowled at me.

[ She isn’t your monster. ]

I smiled at him

[She is assigned to me. So natural you’ll go with her too. ]

Gallecki sighed.

[ Oi, Lass, I told you not to tease him so much. ]

I ignored him.

[ I shall compose. ]

Sighing, I selected two more earth fairies.

They’re so expensive. At least they’re cheaper than the handmaidens.

When they appeared I did smile.

[ Welcome, I am the new demon lord { Intent } Demon Lord Olara. Your seniors will catch you up when we return to our living quarters. ]

They nodded and walked over to their seniors. Of course, they stopped to admire Queen.

(Here!)

I turned to look at Bu-chan. He seemed to have found a hollowed out room in the tree. I walked over to him to see a stash of goods hoarded in there. Instantly, I put most of it into my storage. Pausing at the sight of one shiny gold medal. An evil smirk appearing on my face. { Toxic } Demon Lord Vespar probably saved one for a ‘successor’. One who’d destroy { Earth } and { Ice } for her. Laughing I leaned forward and took it. Too bad her medal ended up in my hands.

[ Shall we return? ]

itm-fff-hag13

Toxic – Britney Spears

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