Up to 9557 words of story. You'll see.

"Do you hear that, Mr. Anderson? That is the sound of inevitability. It is the sound of your doom."

Not based on any particular gaming franchise or storyline. Reading previous entries first is recommended, especially this time.

And now, if you're still here: the moment we've all (probably) been waiting for.

"Can you get me a page?" Nuru asked the guard.

"Gotta wait for visiting hours," he replied.


Nuru sat to wait some more. He carefully pondered his situation, trying to understand how to slip free of this conspiracy, and failing.

(So, really, we've got to talk about your name.)

/What about it?/

(You need a different one. I mean, 'sex goddess' is pretty fucking awesome. But come on, it takes too long to say in a pinch. Let's say I'm partying with somebody, or several somebodies especially. You think they're going to pause in the middle of a pitched battle to say 'Most Exalted Sex Goddess, grant me a boon of sexy shine so the enemies won't want to hit me'? It would take twice as long to say! Also, can you do that?)

/You exaggerate. Although, yes, that is a spell I possess./

(I thought Ashanti had it as well. Fine, I do exaggerate. But that doesn't invalidate my point.)

/So you're going to let your friends talk to me directly?/

(You sound like I'm your jealous boyfriend or something. I guess we're kind of married, but yeah, it's an... open relationship as far as I'm concerned. I've never once told you not to talk to people. Not that they can hear you respond. We'll have to work out the details if it's going to eat my mana, though.)

/I see. You think it's too formal of a name?/

(Even 'Most Exalted' is a little too much. Heck, even 'Exalted' wouldn't always sound right.)

/I suppose you're right. You won't ever hear anyone say, 'Oh Most Exalted Sex Goddess, I desire so greatly to meet you out behind that bush over there and do the nasty.' I'll save the formal name for a more ceremonial time. If all goes well, I'll still have a great use for it./

(So, what are you going to use instead? I liked Adana.)

/Adana's burned. Once someone figures out your succubus isn't dead, they're going to be throwing everything they have at it to try to get me. It's foolish beyond reason to use it again, much less so soon. How do you feel about 'Sanaa'?/

(That, I like.)


Nuru jumped to his feet in surprise as the guard bellowed.

"Wha- what?" Nuru gulped.

"It's visiting hours," the guard said.

"Oh. Thanks. So, got some paper?" Nuru said to the boy. He produced a small scrap.

"That'll do, I think. I need a message posted on the bulletin board. Just put, 'Ace, your book is ready at the library.' "

"And how should I sign it?"

"Here's for your trouble to post it."

Nuru slipped him a coin.

"And here's to sign your own name to it, and forget who asked you to do so."

He held out a coin between his fingers. The kid eyed it for just a moment, then snatched it.

"Gosh, I sure am forgetful these days," the boy said with a knowing look, scribbling the note and running off.

"Come on, Nuru," the guard said, leading him out once more.

"Have you contacted your thief?" Furaha said outside.

"I've posted a message. I don't know how else to contact him."

"Good. Run along and get the mail."

It took him longer than usual, because one of the craft shops had a number of parcels, and Nuru had to make multiple trips just for them. He returned to the library.

"Who'd you bring to our contest?" Nuru said, waggling his eyebrows at Furaha behind the desk.

"She'll be here soon. Let's work out some business before she arrives, shall we?"

"If you insist."

"I do. Nuru, you need to make some arrangements. Levels are monitored closely, inside the gate here. There's no way you're going to level up the regular way before they catch up to you. You have the source, the hardest part - but you need to be able to pull it at once, instead of running back and forth to the temple. Once they realize what is happening, they'll cut it off before you're able to finish."

"So what am I going to do?"

"Nuru, you need to bring me in as a partner in your business. And then, I'm going to issue you some quests, for things outside the gate."

"How does that help?"

"Now, you might think you cannot complete them. And it's true, you cannot. But the only way the quest can be worth enough to bring in the EXP is to engage some things out in the higher-level areas. And the trick of it all, is that you don't have to complete the quest- yourself. You can have a proxy, who will then trigger the EXP immediately on completion of the critical leg of the quest."

"How on earth do I arrange that?"

"You don't, I do. It's normally prevented, but I'm going to pull some strings."

She gestured down to a page full of figures and columns of information. There was a map of the whole Home Town sector, with circles on the gate, and elsewhere. One was definitely the temple, and one of them looked like it might be the Chosen HQ entrance. None of it overlapped.

"That looks... complicated."

"I won't lie to you, I've never done anything on quite this scale before, simply because nothing around here ever gets this exciting. But I could do it in my sleep. The only trouble is with your proxy agent; they'll need to be prompt and precise about the order of things, and be willing to do all this stuff with no official quest tying it all together. I'll be managing the EXP from your business partnership to pay off the quests, and in parallel pulling equal amounts from the quest completions from other sources. There will be a little wastage because the amounts won't exactly match, and you won't be able to carry the excess - but it's a small price to pay for success, I think you'll agree."

"I'm not sure I understand all of this. It sounds like money laundering, except for EXP instead of money."

"Then you do understand. Not only will this conceal the source of your EXP, for a short time, hopefully long enough; it will also allow the EXP to transfer directly to you without the need to resolve any ambiguities in the bookkeeping of the partnership in person. And once the quests complete, in order, you'll be able to take your levels one after the other."

"Will I be taking my quests from you?"

"Only indirectly. No doubt if there's a central figure implicated, they'll zap me and bring the whole thing to a halt in an instant. I'll just be another innocent bystander, hoodwinked by the evil demon collaborator like everyone else, until it's too late. Hopefully."

"Why won't they just chase me down and kill me afterwards?"

"They're forbidden, as I understand it. They have considerable leeway in how they interpret the Rules, but it's quite clear they have to have a direct violation to counteract, which must be established beforehand. What you're doing, Nuru - what I wish I could have done - it's not actually against the Rules. The whole system is designed around this premise, that none leave without a faction. But they can't outright forbid it. Out past that gate, Nuru - people live their lives. They quest, they kill... and they love. What do you think happens if a woman gets pregnant?"

"Well, she, uh... hmm. I guess if an unclassed person outside the gate were killed immediately, there would almost never be children."

"And starting a family is a sacred part of the Rules. They can't prevent that from happening; the Surveys have been quite clear, there'd be open rebellion. Women are strongly encouraged to bring their children here to be born and raised, but they have to have time to make the journey, even after birth. There are lots of edge cases that come up; there's simply no time period which can be used to force the circumstances, and inevitably mothers come to Home Town with the little one, who by that time may be ready to roll their bones. Once they do, the Factions hand out the quests and levels come as intended. The powers that be know that this is the system, and try to protect it as much as possible. They have the ability to apply additional restrictions, but they have to use as light a touch as possible, and the Mayor has considerable power to override them as well on matters of general policy, but only on this side of the gate."

"I've heard healers might be able to leave without a faction."

"So I thought as well. Nearly ruined myself trying to acquire a respec potion, until I found out otherwise. Fortunately my mess was still salvageable."

"Why doesn't it work?"

"The fine print, essentially. The different healer skill trees all have choke points, cleverly hidden, which all depend in some way on herbs or potions that the Order of the White Lily has a monopoly on. Distribution is exclusive, and they will only sell to members - but over time they have added independent agreements with all the other factions, that their members can also purchase them, provided that they abide by the same restrictions of resale, in the form of an Oath. These supplies all expire and become worthless at the moment the holder's Oath fails at the time death, or if they are stolen or illegitimately sold. This serves two purposes, one being the Faction requirement, and the other being that healers worry less about bandits and even certain of the most intelligent Monster Classes who trade shiny things. Healer class is supposed to appeal to people like you and me, and catch us in a Faction choice once we've already invested."


"Adisa, the empowerer of White Lily archons, is of Angelic race - but you're right, you'd more expect this of the Low Factions from common knowledge of their reputation and general sentiment. It's my thought that the archons couch it in terms of righteousness and virtue as a veil for its true purpose."

"So I've really got only this one chance."

"Correct. And you'd better spend some time planning your levels. You'll need to take them in quite rapid succession, so you can't afford to hem and haw over which of the skills you're going to take with each one. You need to know them with confidence."

"Is that my task, then?"

"I'm required to offer you publicly visible tasks to do, to commute your sentence. But I strongly recommend you remain here in the library, and determine those details as much as possible. Bring your books back and tell me about your strategy. Once your build is settled, I'll send your thief out to begin the quests."

"I'll probably need a break now and then."

"I'm sure I'll have a task or two to help you ease some stress. And we have a contest to resolve, if I recall."

"Mm. Where is your friend, anyway?"

"She'll be here any moment now, I'm sure. Why don't we start without her? I'm willing to accept a temporary handicap."

"All right. What's the game today?"

"The same as yesterday. But, until she gets here, let's say- no touching."

"No touching? What else are we going to do?"

"Pardon me, I neglected to add- no touching each other. And then when she gets here, anything can go anywhere."

"Very well. We'll just sit in your bed," Nuru said, following her to it.

"You'll sit there, and cream your pants."

"Demonshit. I'm not even hard yet."

"Looks to me like the lady sandwich idea's got other plans. You're tenting up."

"I am not, I'm normally this girthy."

"I'll believe it when I see it."

"You've already seen it, woman."

"And that's how I know I'm right. Come on big boy, if you're so soft- whip it out and show me."

He got naked.

"You call that 'not hard'? It looks like it's hard to me."

"That's because you're naked and dancing."

"Just stretching, that's all. Getting comfortable. It's going to be quite a night."

"Oh, good idea. If you're ready to take me anywhere, I'm totally going to work you over."

"Oh yeah? What if she gets down on her knees and sucks your cock, hmm? What if I hold you down while she does it?"

"Her mouth will get tired first. I'll still have some for you."

"Oh really? I bet if I rub my tits in your face, you'll be singing a different tune."

"My succubus can cast something, I'm sure, keep me from coming too soon."

(You can do that, right?)

/Hell yes, I can./

"No fair using that before my friend gets here. Tell your demon to stay out of it."

"Not that it matters. You liked my tongue, and my fingers. You're gonna love my cock all inside you. I'm gonna make sure I get at least an orgasm out of you before I fill you up with my sperm."

Furaha lay back on the bed, propped up on some pillows. "Yeah? Climb on top of me and use her spit as a lubricant as you slide it deep inside my pussy?"

"Oh yeah."

"Show me. Show me what it'll look like, going in and out right here."

She started fingering herself, staring him down as he looked down to her glistening labia, then back up to her hungry face, and back again.

"I'll start slow, of course. Let you get used to the size of me, a little bit at a time. Just slide it in a little, then back out, then back in a little further."

Nuru started stroking himself, showing from the side how it would look going into her with his fist taking the place of her vaginal canal.

"And what if my friend wants some first?"

"Doesn't matter. I can go all night long. She'll get hers, and then you'll come all over me. And maybe I'll spray both of your faces afterwards, if you ask me nicely."

"If you can do all that, we totally will. I can't wait to stroke your cock together, fuck you 'til none of us can walk straight. Don't worry, I'm make the best alibi for you to the prison for why you're late."

"It's the least you can do after I ruin you both for another man."

"Yeah? Gonna fuck us hard and make me hoarse tomorrow?"

"You know it."

Furaha turned her back to him, looked over her shoulder and rocked forward and back like he was inside of her already. "Like this?"

He thrust forward, backwards with his hand, pantomiming the motion. "Yeah, you sexy thing. I'll massage your insides until you turn to jelly."

"What if I want to be on top?" She got up, straddled him, and bounced over him just barely not touching, letting her juices dribble down from her fingers and letting him stroke himself with it.

"Oh gods, you're so wet. Hell yeah you can be on top. Churn yourself on me. Yeah, breasts bouncing just like that."

"Feel that wet slap of me sliding all the way down on you, taking you all the way inside?"

"I can't fucking wait to go balls deep in you, make you beg for more and scream my name."

"Oh yes... oh yes... oh Nuru... Just like that?"

"Yeah, just like that."

"Oh give me that hard cock... I want it... I want you to come deep inside me... I can't wait to feel you explode..."

"Yes... yes... yesss.... oh gods oh gods oh gods no no noooooo-!"

Nuru hit Furaha's thighs with a few globs of semen. But the orgasm was partly ruined by the rough squeezing as he tried to keep the sperm from coming out, unsuccessfully.

Furaha knelt down next to him, her face contorted in the wickedest smile Nuru had ever seen. "YOU. LOSE."

"Aaaaauuurrrrrrgggggghhhhh!!!!!!" yelled Nuru. "Fuck fuck fuck! What a minute. There is no friend coming, is there?"

"Nope," Furaha gloated, "I beat you both. All. By. Myself."

"Gods below, you're are the most devious, perverted tease ever!"

"I waaaarned yooooooouu!" Furaha sang over her shoulder as she climbed off the bed to get dressed and then walked back out to the desk.

/You know what? I think I'm going to say it for you. I'm in love./

(You said it first. You owe me a favor now, that was the bet.)

/Don't care. Worth it. She's a treasure, I hope she's going with you./

"Oh, Nuru... there's something I want you to do for me once you're out. A little favor," Furaha called to Nuru.

"Name it!"

The next several days were a blur of plans and the most banal quests he'd ever heard of. Nuru calculated bonuses and effect stacks while searching for lost dogs, painting fences, and replacing rotted road signs. He thought he knew what path he wanted to take, but not being able to try out skills along the way gave him less confidence in the skill trees and ramped his anxiety to a jittery high.

"Let's talk about your build," Furaha said. "What's your offensive/defensive strategy?"

"Unarmed combat; Jaheem won't be around forever to bail me out. Also, some buffs that built on Musical Trance and critical effects to knock any enemies off their cooldown-optimized hit sequences."

"Not a great way to actually win a fight, but good for survivability on the run," Furaha said.

"I'll find other people to do the killing if I really need it done."

"A bold move. But there's risk with every strategy... and I've chosen very similarly, though I'm called to field work far less than you'll be forced to do. Still, make a few friends as you have an uncanny knack for doing, and you could grow quickly. Level Five is easy; bonus MAG point, standard stat progression, unlock some spells - but we don't have time for you to run around buying any, not a single one. You'll have to work that out once you leave," Furaha said. "What are you doing for Level Six?"

"Fall-recovery defenses."

"Good. Your DEX will support you there. Seven?"

"I'm going to sing and play an instrument, get that Musical Trance maximum effect."

"Careful you don't rely too heavily on it. Some people are hard of hearing and won't much notice."

"Fortunately I also have a Weightless Foot spell."

"Better keep your encumbrance down, or you'll be tripping all over yourself. Where in the multiverse did you pick that up?"

"Aheh heh... well. My succubus has it."

"Ah, OK. I was wondering what kind of favor Brotherhood of Masego owed you to let you buy it from them. That makes more sense. Gods, if it weren't for the cost I'd be looking for a Devil's Bargain myself."

"Which cost are you referring to?"

"Why, the faction ranks of course. Your career trajectory would normally be dictated by your standing with your faction. The higher you go, the more stringently they test you and dig into your background to ensure you're representing them well for recruiting purpose. They don't want a scandal to hurt their membership numbers and overall prestige. A pact with a demon inevitably gets found out, and no matter how OP and effective you are, they simply won't let you pursue those epic loot-drop quests or the raid competitions. Now, if you could convince an angel to pact with you, they'd let it go, maybe even encourage it - but those beings have their own stringent requirements, even worse than the factions do. Usually it's a barbarian combat class exclusive, like an alt-paladin sort of arrangement. It goes without saying your carnal inclinations wouldn't be a good fit."

"Don't some of the Low Factions allow for demons?"

"Cult of Jabu's known to have a few. Anything to get your DPS up, with that bunch; nothing to benefit you. And Neeoka's crowd might allow it, though it's not particularly encouraged. And just be aware, if you get in with them at some point... you and I cannot remain friends."

"Sounds serious. You mind telling me why?"

"Nuru, Neeoka is almost single-handedly the reason that they have the moniker 'chaos factions.' Neeoka encourages power, at any cost. Your pretty stereotypical villains flock to it quite consistently. The name of the faction itself gives reference to their moral orientation. They are literally called the 'Seal Club.' Informally, the Seal Clubbers. As in, bludgeon a cute sea creature to death for no reason, or just for fun. Some few people join ironically, but rare indeed is the report of it ending anything but ugly. I could ignore even that, distasteful as it is, but..."

Furaha took a deep breath.

"Philosophically, you know how marriage is the highest sacrament on an interpersonal level?"