15 This Story Features a Lot of Stripping
And that's the story of how I ended up completing five chain quests in my underwear.
On the one hand, kudos to the devs for having the foresight to provide players with [Immortal Object] indestructible base undies.
On the other hand, a thousand curses to the bored graphic arts intern who designed this pair of unnecessarily short boxer briefs.
They're hot pink.
With polka dots.
"God of Shadow and Chaos. Ruler of Slaughter. Broody af." I mutter my mantra, reminding myself I am above this.
I am the darkness.
"Are those tiny white hearts dotting your undershorts?" Dina asks, peering a little too closely at the form-fitting material. I snap my wings to cover my exposed bits.
Fuck the darkness.
I am the 'edgy' goth kid who gets pantsed in gym class, and everyone finds out his mom writes his name in permanent marker on his clothing tags with a little <3 dotting the i's.
"You look so ridiculous, I am embarrassed to know you," Dina says matter-of-factly. "Now pick up that basket and get a move on."
I'd received the quest complete notification halfway down my inglorious descent, so, "No way in Hades, lady."
Great. NPCs can pout now?
"But it's too heavy for me," she complains.
"Not my problem. Get more of that floaty powder or something."
"But-but..." she splutters, bewildered that I'm not falling over myself to help.
Ignoring her, I head out for a secluded place to examine my loot.
"Wait!" she calls. "Don't you want to eat a legendary special omelette?"
"You already invited me to dinner. I just had to get you ingredients. Did that!" I holler back without looking.
"You ignoble ruffian!"
"Thank you!" I give a jaunty salute.
She huffs her frustration then goes silent.
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I start humming a lively tune and do a jumping heel-click in my smirky glee.
Then she tries one more time. "What if...I can help you get new trousers?"
Half an hour later, I finally deliver the monster eggs to Dina's mom's hut. My non-existent Strength stat was only barely enough to carry the suckers; my movement speed was handicapped down to a crawl.
Predictably, Dina refuses to pay me on the grounds I've already acquired treasure from the Itsumade, so what more could she possibly offer?
"Save me from the stinginess of rich people," I grumble. "What about the new pants?"
Dina smiles that smile that tells me I'm not going to like what she says. "If you go to Old Mei Mei, the village seamstress, and tell her I sent you, she'll sell you a pair of trousers at a 3% discount!"
"Unless it's a 100% discount, how am I supposed to afford anything? What kind of 'help' is this?"
"If my generosity isn't enough for you—"
I snort with as much unimpressed derision as I can muster.
"—I can help you further, if you insist."
"I insist," I reply flatly.
Dina pulls a gold coin out of her dress.
"That's more like it," I say, reaching for the money.
She snatches it safely to her chest. "Not so fast. I said I'll help you. And I will. I will help you sell whatever treasure you stole from the Itsumade. To me."
My shadow tattoo flutters and flickers and spreads across my face, as my amazed rage threatens to overpower my good sense.
"You unbelievable biiiiiiiiiii—
—Been a minute, Village Chief! How's things?" Visibly shaking, I nod to Tarabu, Chief of Impeccable Timing.
As he strolls up, I try to smile, but it must look heinous, because Tarabu's expression tightens in concern. "I've been well, thank you. But what about you, Erebus the Prophesied Hero?" His worried gaze flickers to my pink boxers, and the concern deepens. "Are you struggling with ...uh... redeveloping your skills?"
"Father, don't be silly," Dina answers before I can. My face darkens even more, and she hurriedly continues, "Erebus is performing wonderfully! He's completed two quests with perfect success ratings, and he was just about to run off and finish the others in time for dinner!"
"Isn't that wonderful!" Chief Tarabu exclaims. My tight smile is still more a grimace than anything, but he seems to accept it as 'enthusiastic joy'. "Well, pardon me, I don't want to keep our hero from his quests! Good luck, and keep up the masterful work!"
I manage to mumble out a "Thanks" through my clenched teeth.
Dina throws me a cheeky smile from behind her father's back.
I try to explode her blonde head with my mind.
She sticks out her tongue.
"Just wait until I get the skill for that, wench," I silently warn her with my gray eyes, glittering in anger.
"Until next time," she replies aloud in an annoyingly cheery singsong voice.
"Don't forget I still have a Quest of Daring waiting for you!" Tarabu chimes in with a grin.
My flying punch screeches to a halt and becomes a half-hearted fist pump. "Joy."
Sarcasm coats the apathetic cheer like hot pitch on a tar-and-feather victim.
Unsurprisingly, Chief Tarabu completely misses it and gives me a hearty thumbs up.
"Oh, and Erebus?" he adds, like an afterthought.
Gravely serious, he declares, "Don't worry about anyone in this family judging your taste at dinner."
I'm about to ask what the heck he means—his family are the cannibals, after all—but then he continues, "It takes great courage to so shamelessly wear whatever makes you most comfortable, regardless of society's rules and conventions."
As the old tengu pats me reassuringly on the shoulder, I wonder if maybe I didn't actually die in that accident two years ago, and this is just a highly imaginative Death God's version of hell.
Then Dina giggles and blows me a kiss, and I realize that's impossible.
Only a human could design a character so fucking annoying.