Chapter 18:

The Witch’s Gambit

Why Kill? When Witches Can Be Tentacled!

He who claims the truth of thy words, let the dark one snatch thy conscience…Bookmark here

A dark aura swept around Maribell as she began her chant. Stunned by the actions of a Witch and her Grimoire, a growing fear penetrated the hearts of those present. Their natural instinct was to attack the Witch before she could complete her spell, before she could rain disaster on everyone.Bookmark here

But another voice screamed out otherwise.Bookmark here

“ATTACK THE WYVERNS! PROTECT ONEE-SAN!!!” Snazzy bellowed out as he flung himself before the approaching enemies. He started glowing with a strange power that sped up his movements and enhanced the lightning that crackled around his body. Adding water magic for movement, he was a blur as he charged toward the flying beasts.Bookmark here

Pushing back against their instincts, Bobo and Wendy recalled what Madame Jacoux told them before the trip.Bookmark here

“Trust in that girl during your travels. She has a good heart. She will not betray you.”Bookmark here

Bobo raised his giant axe and slashed at a wyvern that approached the chanting Witch. Wendy launched her jars of poison as quickly as her stinging fingers could move.Bookmark here

Deceiver of the body, deceiver of the mind, I call upon thee to be shackled to myne bidding…Bookmark here

Maribell’s words continued to ring clearly as her gaze focused squarely upon Gorshect, who panicked as he was being targeted for whatever nasty curse that was being called upon. Quickly, he called for his wyverns to spray their toxic breath once again. Purple mist clouded the area again as the caravan’s protectors held their breath and continued to fight on.Bookmark here

All but one. She had no choice but to finish chanting.Bookmark here

With mind and tongue connected as one, thy actions shall be the puppet of myne soul…Bookmark here

Even as she could feel the stinging sensation penetrating her throat, it would be all for naught if she did not finish. Holding back an urge to cough, her voice squeaked out the final syllables.Bookmark here

Vanidicus!Bookmark here

Immediately, Gorshect clutched his head as he felt voices entering his mind. They were thoughts of what the Witch wanted him to do, commands that needed to be fulfilled to make her happy. Gorshect and Maribell were now telepathically linked. Those honeyed voices seducing him led to one conclusion as to how he could satisfy her.Bookmark here

He raised a hand to command the wyverns to attack each other. He had the special ability to force them to obey, even if it meant their own deaths. And that had worked against him. Immediately, the wyverns tore into each other’s bodies, fighting to the death. The riders upon them weren’t spared from the assault either, as some were thrown off from a deadly height and others were chomped by rows of sharp teeth since they were in the way.Bookmark here

As Gorshect laughed with a crazed expression at the carnage that would supposedly make Maribell proud of him, one of the wyverns chomped down upon his body. In a matter of moments, the entire nest of wyverns had been demolished. In the chaos, Bobo, Jangles, Wendy and Snazzy finished off the remaining ones until they were all down.Bookmark here

Once the battle was over, Jangles hmphed in victory while the other three limped over to where Maribell stood. Her grimoire was still in her hand, and she had a vacant look on her face. Even though she had used the dreadful powers of a Witch, they had been saved by them.Bookmark here

Tears began to stream from her eyes as the grimoire went back to earring form and she felt herself returning to normal. A look of fear and worry dotted her cheeks as she now had to face the consequences of revealing herself. She turned to Snazzy, silently wondering whether they should erase Bobo and Wendy’s memories. For once, her expression betrayed every bit of her worries to Snazzy.Bookmark here

But he simply crossed his arms. “No, you did what you thought was right. Witch power or no, your intention was to save the medicine and stop the evil person from hurting others. And you know what, in that moment of chaos, we still banded together to protect you, to let you cast that spell. So hold your head up, Onee-san!”Bookmark here

“That’s right. I think we knew that it was the only chance. We’ll do our part in keeping it a secret that you’re a good Witch. Right, Wendy?” Bobo turned to the nodding catgirl.Bookmark here

“In any case, we better take some of the cure. The wyvern’s breath put us in a precarious state,” she added. “Jangles should be immune because he’s a land dragon. And your jellyfish friend doesn’t look affected either.”Bookmark here

Sure enough, Snazzy looked the same as ever. In contrast, large gray patches were already visible on Maribell, Bobo, and Wendy. Standing in not one, but two clouds of poisonous breath was already causing a stinging heat across their bodies. They could move on to the nearby town afterward.Bookmark here

“WRYYORRR!!!” A sudden cry caused them to jump. Turning toward it, an injured wyvern thrashed around close to the caravan.Bookmark here

“Ah! Protect the-”Bookmark here

CRASHHH!!!Bookmark here

Before they could leap into action, the wyvern slammed into the caravan, tearing through the vehicle. Bobo chopped it in half before it could continue its rampage, but Wendy paled as she stepped into the now roofless caravan. The wyvern had slammed right into the desk where Wendy kept the supply. Her eyes followed the wreckage and came upon a case that was now obliterated, its contents shattered and the liquid seeping into the ground.Bookmark here

“Nooo, the cure!” she cried, clutching her head.Bookmark here

The medicine that they had fought so hard for was now ruined. They wouldn’t be able to get more until they returned to Adelton. And it would be a rough journey back with most of their members stricken with the disease.Bookmark here

Wendy bit her thumb, wondering if they could even make it. At their current state, their bodies would have difficulty moving within a few days. Only Snazzy would be able to hold the reins to guide Jangles back, but it wasn’t like there were other options available. Someone had to rush back with the report of failure to get another apothecary deployed.Bookmark here

As she pondered what to do, their situation suddenly took a bad turn.Bookmark here

Maribell hunched over and coughed up blood. Her face was still pale but obviously not from overusing her magic. Suddenly feeling faint, she fell over and crumpled to the ground.Bookmark here

“No way, did you breathe in the wyvern’s fumes?!” Wendy realized what had happened. As Maribell had to continue chanting, she couldn’t hold her breath. A fair amount of poison had gone down her throat as a result.Bookmark here

Dashing to the ruined caravan, she grabbed a tool from the workbench. In her hand was a magic device that scanned for poisons. It could be used to detect how much had spread through one’s body. But as Wendy used it, the device fell from her hands.Bookmark here

The inner lining of Maribell’s throat was already turning gray like her skin. It would quickly spread along the rest of her throat and into her lungs in the matter of hours. She would be lucky to last the rest of the day.Bookmark here

Realizing that Maribell was in danger, Snazzy psyched himself up, rubbing vigorously against her body to force an excited state. The other two were frozen as to why the little creature was suddenly harassing her, until his body started glowing again. Quickly, Snazzy passed on that glow to her, hoping that it would heal his Onee-san.Bookmark here

But his face dropped as the signs of Wyvern Pox didn’t recede. The glow seemed to be ineffective against the disease for some reason. He did not realize that his aura only accelerated a body’s natural recovery. But people didn’t simply get better from Wyvern Pox on their own.Bookmark here

“No way! Onee-san! This can’t happen!” Snazzy started crying as he rubbed his head against Maribell’s cheek. He couldn’t think of any other options.Bookmark here

But with the medicine ruined and little time to spare, what more could they do? Maribell gently stroked Snazzy’s head while lightly wincing from the pain, thankful that her last actions had at least proven that Witches weren’t all bad. Wendy and Bobo looked away, unable to bear the jellyfish’s tears. But then, Wendy glanced back and noticed something strange.Bookmark here

“Wait, what happened to the scaliness on your face?” Wendy pointed to Maribell’s left cheek, which Snazzy had been rubbing against. The skin had returned to normal, an obvious contrast from the right cheek which still had the spots.Bookmark here

It was then that Maribell remembered.Bookmark here

“Snazzy! Your fluids! Don’t they patch things up? Can’t you-” Maribell exclaimed in between coughs. But as she said this, she realized something awful.Bookmark here

Surprised by this statement, Snazzy’s tears were drying up from the ounce of hope remaining. He sniffled and said, “Ah, I guess I can try…”Bookmark here

While it was true that Snazzy had licked his tentacles and used that to touch spots that needed healing, he had never thought of why that was the case. He quickly licked a tentacle and rubbed a spot on her face just to make sure.Bookmark here

The dry rough patches of skin instantly reverted to the smoothness of it before, confirming their guess. His fluids did have the power to heal even Wyvern Pox. Wendy’s jaw dropped; she had seen plenty of miraculous cures, but this was a first.Bookmark here

It seemed like Snazzy had caught on to what exactly he had to do, but the thought of it made his words fall silent. He looked straight at Maribell in surprise, but she only grimaced while trying to think of other options.Bookmark here

“What about the water from your magic?”Bookmark here

Finding that a good alternative, Snazzy called up the swirling liquid he used to surf on, dousing her with it while brushing her with his tendrils. But unfortunately, a very drenched Maribell didn’t look much better afterward. The disease remained.Bookmark here

“What the hell am I supposed to do?! There’s got to be an easier way than jellyfish spit!”Bookmark here

As Snazzy started to panic, Wendy placed a hand on top of his head, pointing to Maribell again.Bookmark here

“Look, the places that your tendrils touched. They are still damp, are they not? And moreover, there’s a glow to it.”Bookmark here

Snazzy paused and looked back, seeing that the residual beads of moisture on him was glowing. It seemed like the liquid had been spiked with his pepped-up aura. And as Wendy turned over her palm to him, the fluid stuck to her hand had a strange consistency to it. The water had turned partially into a thin goo. But this goo, when spread upon Maribell’s skin, cleared away the patches of Wyvern Pox.Bookmark here

But even with a healing solution, Snazzy was faced with a dilemma. How could he manage to treat every bit of the affected areas? He would have to- It’s not the time to be thinking of such things! Onee-san needs to be saved!Bookmark here

Realizing that there really was no choice, Maribell finally sighed and gave in. “Just do it. It’s not like we have another option.”Bookmark here

Even though she said that, drinking jellyfish slime did not seem appeasing at all. Despite jellyfish being mostly water and people ate them, that was still an unpleasant thought.Bookmark here

Holding the scanner up to Maribell’s throat, Wendy checked on the spreading disease, before passing a cup of the goo to her. With a wince, Maribell gulped it down in one go. While several lights faded, showing that it was effective, less than half of them disappeared.Bookmark here

“Ah-chaaa~ Swallowing is too fast. Not enough time for it to hit fully. At this rate, it will just spread again.”Bookmark here

Wendy’s words carried with it a mutual sense of dread, one that Snazzy and Maribell tried to avoid thinking of the entire time.Bookmark here

“Wait, no. Not that-”Bookmark here

“Eyyyy!”Bookmark here

Snazzy tried to back away, but Wendy caught a hold of his tendrils. With an innocent smile, Wendy brought one of them up to Maribell’s lips.Bookmark here

“Looks like direct contact is still the optimal solution.” Wendy teased with a grin. “This will be over nice and quick if you both don’t resist.”Bookmark here

Surprisingly, Maribell gave in quite easily. It was Snazzy that was freaking out instead. He couldn’t stop thinking about a certain toothbrush scene from an anime. But ignoring his other tentacles flailing in horror, Wendy shoved a shiny, glowing one down Maribell’s throat, made a few swirling motions, and that was it.Bookmark here

Maribell’s muffled cry of discomfort, though lasting mere moments, felt much longer. And it really didn’t help that Snazzy’s body was sweating bullets from it all, causing Wendy’s grip to slip and fumble during the procedure.Bookmark here

Wendy didn’t seem bothered by it one bit, as she had been used to treating all sorts of people, but the same couldn’t be said of Snazzy, who drooped in defeat.Bookmark here

I know that I’ve seen a lot of things… but doing them in reality… oh boy…Bookmark here

“Doctor Snazzy, you can’t rest yet. The procedure is not yet complete. You’ve only cleaned out the inside. There’s all of the outside left to go.” Wendy smiled as she patted Snazzy, asking him for more healing goo.Bookmark here

“But, but, I’m going to run dry at this rate!” Snazzy objected, sorely needing a moment to get over things. Being pepped up continuously was a hard thing to do, but they needed it to convert more water to healing salve. Maribell didn’t respond to this as her expression had simply frozen after the sensation overloaded her mind. Nothing at this point would surprise her anymore.Bookmark here

“Ah, I just have to get you more excited then.” Wendy picked up Snazzy and rubbed him against her ears. The fluffiness of them made something rise from within him. His mouth babbled at the soft, unique sensation.Bookmark here

With a little goading from Wendy’s cat features, Snazzy held on long enough to generate more healing salve, which was spread across Maribell’s body. Exhausted from this bizarre treatment, Snazzy could finally enjoy the feeling of having saved his Onee-san once again, regardless of how weird the process was. Maribell had apparently passed out from the ordeal, her nerves fried.Bookmark here

As he lay on the ground for a moment to rest, he felt a poke on his head. He peeked at Wendy, who was now undressing herself!Bookmark here

“Well, now it’s my turn… Or rather, it’s Wendy’s turn to accept the healing love of Master’s fluids. Please make sure you spread it across every bit of Wendy, nyaa!”Bookmark here

Snazzy sputtered as he regretted having told Wendy how to thank him in his most preferable method – using a cute, kitty girl maid voice.Bookmark here

“And then Master has to attend to Bobo, nyaa! And then, the townspeople, nyaa! Master is going to be very, very busy, nyaa!”Bookmark here

That smile of hers was anything but angelic.Bookmark here

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