96 The Duke’s Sorrow - Headed by a Snake
Tycon danced out of the way of Nagini's melee range. He had just been ordered to defeat Nagini, but it wasn't as simple as it appeared.
"HOLD SSSSSTILL, WEAKLING!!" Nagini charged.
The enraged snake warrior's attacks were painfully honest. Conversely, Tycon entirely focused on defense and evasion, remaining undamaged, unlike the Duke's waiting room. Nagini was strong and fast-- Tycon couldn't safely engage the dark-skinned warrior without utilizing lethal force.
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He glanced over at his surroundings. He specifically avoided being directly responsible for destroying the Duke's beloved lizard-art. Openly opposing the Duke would affect his short-term plans. Had Nagini not been so short-tempered, Tycon could have only bit his tongue and swallowed his pride for the sake of an unchallenged revenge.
Deflecting a sword slash, Tycon combat-rolled to the side, near Pale and Taree. He raised his blade horizontally, blocking a downward slash, then turned his blade to pierce Nagini in the leg. Blood spilled hot onto the dragon carpet as Duke Tavor continued to scream.
Tycon raised his opposite forearm, just as Nagini's blade bit the metal. Nagini leaned his body weight into his sword, cutting deeper, causing the silver knight to fall to a knee
"Fool!" Nagini grinned wickedly, "My blaaaade hassss the POIISSSSSSON of a Kaa Ssssnake!! You will DIE in PAIN and SSSSSSUFFERING!!"
« System, inquiry: Am I... poisoned? And when will its effects begin? »
[The Host is afflicted with a Bronze-Rank poison. The Host's natural poison resistance nullifies all its ill effects.]
« ...How convenient. Thank you, System. »
Tycon reached over to grab Taree's ankle. She looked down quickly enough to let out a surprised, "Eh?"
With an unkind swing, Tycon one-handed the little girl, smashing her Stone Body art-strengthened elbow into Nagini's temple. Nagini collapsed to the ground like a sack of severed heads.
Tycon stood, propping up the dazed little girl. He stood in a room full of broken furniture and debris from thousands of coin worth of art and artifacts.
Tycon placed his opposite hand over his bleeding forearm wound, "Err... Master Pall, the enemy has been defeated."
The duke held his bearded face in his trembling hands, sobbing into an entire cheesecake, "Please... Just go. Take the contract and... leave me to my cakes and fried potatoes."
Snot-nosed from his ugly tears, the Duke blew his nose into a discarded cupcake wrapper. Pale began to walk over to comfort the old Duke, but Tycon stopped him with an arm and shook his head.
The Duke pocketed the used wrapper.
As quietly as they could, the trio left the Tavor estate.
The three opted for a late lunch, seated at a table by some open market stalls.
"Boss! You were the one who said patience was a virtue!!" Taree was standing on a table bench, scolding her superior. "What's your problem with that Nagini person, anyroad?!"
"Tss. I *was* patient... And I find that person's armor unpleasant." Tycon had lifted his full helm visor just enough to insert sliced bites of cured sausage, "Anyroad, we got the sponsorship, didn't we? Why are you so upset?"
The silver-haired maid pointed accusingly at her boss, "You used me to hit someone!! And this was after you told me not to hit people in the head because they might DIE!!"
"But he didn't, did he?" Tycon closed his visor and steepled his fingers. "Well, mission complete. How about we just enjoy our meal? Have some bread. Humans like bread, don't they?"
Pale chuckled at the new dynamic between Tycon and Taree. With this, Pale was confident that Taree was fully integrated into Guild Invictus. No one was immune to criticism in his family. Even when his dad was around, he would always get teased by Mister Dragan and Boss Tycon.
As Taree was about to continue complaining, Pale concentrated mana into his palm, funneling it through his spear as a focus. A freshly baked bread roll levitated off of their table and flew into Taree's mouth. She sat back down with a humph and began chewing into its buttery, flaky deliciousness.
Pale took a sip of his citrus drink, "Sir Tycon, I was wondering why we took the uniform from that guy in the early morning?"
Tycon slathered fruit preservatives onto another slice of sausage, "Per Sorina Capulet's research, Duke Tavor makes the most money from weapons deals."
Taree tilted her head, "Boss! Boss, are we gonna steal some weapons!?"
Pale held Taree's hand underneath the table, pleased that the girl hadn't remained mad at their superior. A little bit of teasing was okay, but it would be trouble if she pushed her luck.
The full-helmeted Tycon nodded, "Indeed. A sponsored Tavor mage and a tabarded guardsman should have no problems with negotiations. And we have the contract with the Duke's writing?"
Taree held up the scroll tube in her hands, "Got it!"
"We'll take a break at Mister Reynard's for me to change and to get some paperwork. We've still a full sun ahead of us, little ones. It's your own fault if you go hungry."
Pale and Taree nodded. "Yessir." "Yes, Boss."
The sun had passed quickly enough. With the help of Reynard's people, Tycon had moved 4 shops worth of Tavor's armor and weaponry. Their haul was easily able to fully arm a mid-sized guild... or transform Reynard's group of misfits into a respectable power.
Pale looked up at the darkness settling in the skies above Merylsward, "Boss, do we really need to do the 5th shop?"
Tycon wore the contrasting blue and red tabard armor of Duke Tavor's guards, a slight more clunky and far more offensive to the eyes than his silvery armor. He wore the same full-helmet but kept it slightly open, so his voice kept its mysterious, echoing quality, "The final shop on the list is the Royal Robe."
Taree raised her hand, "Oh, I remember! Miss Heloise said that was a... magic shop?"
"Good memory. They shouldn't have too much metal goods from the Duke, so it should be a simple task," Tycon placed the hand on the hilt of his new sword as he walked.
Pale scratched his hair behind one of his long ears, "I mean, now that we've done so many, won't the Duke's men be on the lookout for us?"
"Possibly. But once they're out in full force, our opportunities are lost." Tycon explained, "Anyroad, there's no reason for the shops to be unhappy. They all have promissory notes that guarantee the Duke will refund them in full."
"But Boss," Taree had a fit of giggling, "--the Duke's signature is forged on all our notes."
Tycon chuckled, "I know, right?"
The two touched metal gauntlet to fist.
Pale tried to smile along with his companions, "I sure hope so, Boss."
Taree leaned close enough to Pale that he could feel her breath, "It's probably fine!"