Headed by a Snake
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326 Incentive
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Headed by a Snake
Author :CouchSurfingDragon
© Wuxiaworld

326 Incentive

Excellent, the seal was successful. Now, the Warlock wouldn't be able to cast ⌈Eldritch Blast⌋ for--

Pyraxis collapsed and fell onto the cold, hard dungeon stone. 

Tycon pursed his lips, still wary for deception. It appeared he had killed his opponent outright. 

"...I should have brought the Librarian," Tycon lamented aloud... "Stars and stones, maybe I should have brought the cat."

"IVORY PRINNNNCE!!!" The Warlock reared up, standing on his knees. 

"Aaah!" Tycon stabbed the man in the chest. 

Die already, you useless old man!! 

The Warlock sat on his knees, head down, sword in his chest. He coughed more blood and phlegm, allowing his crimson life-force to drip down his chin. 

"I... I was young... once..." He muttered between sobs, "Sssso... full of hope...."

Quietly, Tycon began to sneak away... He... he needed to leave. A half-dead, naked woman was still waiting for him to return. 

Ugh... He briefly considered going straight home, instead. 

"Are you listening... s...sweet prinnnnccce?" Pyraxis choked... "It's... it's sssso dark... and c-c-coooold."

Tycon sighed. 

« System, activate ⌈Venomous Shadow⌋. »

The cloaked shadow appeared... beside Tycon, which he noted was nowhere near Pyraxis. Golden spheres of mana glowed beneath its hood, staring emotionlessly. Tycon mentally commanded his ghostly ally, pursing his lips and pointing to the Warlock. 

Obeying his wishes, the shadow floated over to Pyraxis. 

The Warlock grasped at the material of the shadow's cloak, "Prinnnnce.... my story began.... in the tenth century...."

The shadow peered up, looking to Tycon for confirmation. 

'Just... stay there,' Tycon mouthed. 

The shadow returned its gaze to the Warlock. Then it grabbed onto the old man's head with its shadowy hands and began to vomit its green venom onto the fellow's face. 

The man screamed in pain as his flesh sizzled. He choked and sputtered and spat. The fellow was blessed of the snake god, though... he should have a rudimentary resistance to poison. However... it looked as if Tycon's doppelganger was trying to drown the fellow. 

Tycon shut the door quietly behind him. 

He'd had his fill of this place. 

...

There was a hospital conveniently nearby. Tycon utilized their services more than once, accompanying Tanamar after particularly treacherous bouts of training. He woke the attending physician with a polite knock and informed her and her staff that the woman he carried was rescued from a poor environment and had been starved for several suns. 

Admittedly, it was incredibly suspicious. The staff knew Tycon was a member of the Church, so did not ask questions. 

He couldn't decide if he was thankful for that or disgusted by its implications. 

Tycon woefully offered some coin for their troubles... but was pleasantly surprised when the physician refused, saying it was her duty to restore the ill to health, especially a victim of abuse. 


Still, bandages and care were not cheap. Tycon placed a gold coin in one of the hospital's donation boxes. Just one. 

He left immediately after. 

According to Pyraxis, there was an artifact valued by the Snake Cult within the possession of House Vanzano. Tycon intended to recover it for his own purposes. 

...

The following sun, Tycon woke up late. Zenon had already taken the others out for training-- which was fine. He put on his training clothes, warmed his body, stretched, and went off after them. 

Expectedly, he found them on training on the beach. Unexpected, they were carrying large rocks for distance... rocks far weightier than Tycon thought reasonable and for distances almost humorous. 

Because of Victorius' condition, he carried two rocks tied by a rope that hung across his shoulders. With the weight evenly distributed on his body, he should have been doing better than the other two. 

The coarse, ragged rope had cut and chafed the back of his neck raw. 

...How long had they been doing this? 

Zenon greeted him with ominous words: "Can you believe these guys don't like Olea Garden, Optio?"

At Tycon's order, the physical training session was cut short. With the time remaining, he requested a different course. 

As of recent, Tycon had run into repeated issues of being unfamiliar with Tyrion colloquialisms... as well as situations where he was caught unaware of the social context. He wished he could summarize what exactly he wanted to learn...

Athena volunteered to lead a discussion on morality and ethics. She brought the group to a pier overlooking the crystal waters around Silva. All the while, she explained that she always had good marks in the subject at the academy. 

It wasn't quite what Tycon wanted, but it seemed relevant enough. 

He looked forward to watching Athena teach-- communicating concepts to a crowd was an important leadership ability. Further, though Tycon and Zenon were instructors in combat, they had no issues being students in another discipline. Learning at any level was just as important as being able to teach. 

During the lesson, one particular instance stood out... 

"Let's say you had a classroom of seven children..." Athena explained, "But you only have five chairs. What would you do? Sir Tycon?"

That wasn't too bad. Tycon nodded, "I would use the chairs as an incentive. Perform well, and the students could sit down properly. I would also vary the contests and include effort and growth as part of sitting criteria, in order to encourage the students' diligence."

"Oh!" Athena smiled, "That's a wonderful idea, Sir Tycon! What was your answer, Mister Zenon?"

The Centurion smiled with chagrin, "Kill two kids."

Athena glared, "You mean... dismiss two children."

"Y-yeah," Zenon looked away, his expression dark. 

Tycon felt sympathy for the Centurion. Zenon was raised as a sanctified spellcaster in the Church and it showed. 

"How about you, Tanamar!" Athena pointed aggressively. 

Tanamar also averted his gaze, "I... had the same answer."

"The same answer as Sir Tycon? That's great!" Athena recovered her mood, smiling radiantly. 

"Y-yeah. As Tycon. Right," Tanamar assured her. 

The discussion lasted a good half-bell. He learned quite a bit... for several hypothetical situations. Would you save one ally, risking the lives of nine others? Would you disobey orders if a superior officer sentenced civilians to death? Was it permissible to lie in order to avoid a close friend from receiving a harsh infraction? 

According to Athena, Tycon's ethics were not terrible... though the reasoning he provided was peculiar at best. 

That was satisfactory. 

She also lamented that Zenon and Tanamar would have failed the ethics course at the Academy. 

It was then that Tycon realized that perhaps he was not so bad at being human, after all. 

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