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Rated: 18+ · Novel · Fantasy · #2316522
Carter is captured by former Forest warriors who have given up. Introducing Arthur.

A long, acclivious path climbed a sandy hill, twisting back and forth towards the mountains that circled the desert. A bellowing horn announced the escort group's arrival before they got close to the village. A door covered in black beetle carapaces swung open, revealing two guards with hostile demeanors.

"Found a bag of shit, did ya?" said the first guard as she walked up to Carter and tried to pull off the bag to get a look.

Captain Harlow slapped her hand away with the flat part of her rusty blade. "Keep your hands to yourself, Zeb."

The din of yelling and screaming of womenfolk sounded like it was coming from everywhere. Carter was directed, as in shoved, towards a large hut made from trees, fur, and black carapaces. It took four of them, but he was pushed to his knees to the ground in the middle of the tent. He felt a rope tie around his arms, which they had pulled behind him. He felt a kick in the back and pretended to fall on the ground. The burlap bag was pulled off, and he was left alone beside a fire pit. A dozen chairs made from the bodies of beetles circled the fire. This was a meeting place.

He lay there for at least an hour, grew bored, and fell asleep. This world in the Tower was tranquil compared to the spirit screams that haunted his sleep outside in the Forest. While dreaming, he wrestled around on the ground and pulled the rope off his hands, allowing his hands to move freely.

His eyelids raised as a noisy commotion saturated his ears and woke him up.

A long conversation was happening outside the tent between the escort troop of women who brought him here and a man's voice. "I'll take care of it," said the man's voice as he entered the tent. He walked around Carter and sat down on the bigger beetle chair.

Carter opened his eyes and lifted himself off the ground. The man had his hands over his face as if sleeping and was not scared of Carter's unfettered movement. Carter sat down in a chair opposite him.

"I am Arthur Grand," said the man, taking his hands from his face. Arthur was a tiny man, smaller than the warriors that brought him there. He wasn't even muscular. He was homely.

"I am Carter," said Carter as he sat without expression.

"My, you are a dirty one, aren't you? Didn't the great ones bathe you before you came in?" said Arthur.

"They were too busy killing me every day," said Carter.

"Hygiene is essential," said Arthur, ignoring Carter's answer. He stared at Carter for a long time in silence.

"You're a male?" asked Arthur, not expecting an answer.

"I have been in this Tower since the Great War ended. I escaped the end-war calamity by entering into this Tower. When I thought it was over, I tried to escape this Tower and found that a massacre was happening in the burned-down Forest of Kek. I barely made it back here alive," said Arthur, waving his hands around.

Carter survived that massacre, sort of. He was still technically dead.

"I made this make-shift village out of objects I could acquire on the floors surrounding us. Then, once a decade, a student of Red's comes into the Tower to get to the top," said Arthur as he paused again.

"How many are here?" asked Carter.

"Not one trained warrior has accomplished their task. They got to the sixth floor and then returned half-dead and defeated. Centaurs and Ettercaps are too tough! They yelled!" said Arthur in his little self-centered world.

Arthur started screaming the following statement to the hut's ceiling; he said, "There are twenty damn floors on this Tower! Not one of the one hundred forty-nine trained hags has the guts to go any higher than six. So they all eke out a crappy life in this little village inside a cruel Tower, feeding off the meager manna and water pools that the Tower provides."

He stood up and walked over to the table that held Carter's belongings. He picked them up, looked inside, and let out a primal scream. "They didn't even give you food? Have they given up?" screamed Arthur to the sky. He was looking forward to eating something other than manna.

He lifted his hands in the air and pulled them down while taking a deep breath. "Calm," said Arthur. He regained his composure and looked back at Carter.

"Tomorrow, we will take you to the third floor, and you will walk the trail of fears to the fourth floor. We will depart from you," said Arthur, pausing for a few seconds.

"I will give you this one warning: do not return here. We are full," said Arthur. He paused again. Carter didn't know if he was thinking or just doing it for dramatic effect.

"Do not leave this room, and do not expect any hospitality from me. The others can do as they want," said Arthur as he left the hut.

"What a weird little man," thought Carter.

Carter sat in the silent hut for a while, listening to the noises of the village, which were soothing and peaceful. He contemplated on what Arthur had said.

"What was that about?" said Carter as he closed his eyes.

"He can be quite egocentric, can't he?" asked a pleasant-toned voice behind him. He turned his head and saw this muscular woman walk into the room.

She sat in the chair beside Carter and asked, "How's Queen Era?"

The smiling woman has dirty blond hair that looks like a knife shortened to shoulder length. She had the same fur outfit except for armor from a beetle's carapace. She had a scar down her left arm that ran for at least a head.

"She is a bitch, and she is doing well," said Carter.

The woman laughed and pulled out a small square of hardened green slime about an inch in height. At least, that's what Carter thought it looked like.

"Eat this. This is what we call manna, a food from a well on the 3rd floor," said the woman.

Carter placed the food into his mouth and swallowed. It went down like jello and tasted like dirt. He choked a little; some came back up, and then he swallowed again.

"Impressive. It usually takes a few weeks before they swallow and another week before they can keep the manna down. It has all the ingredients to keep you healthy, but it tastes like shit, and our scholars postulate that it might be alive," said the woman.

Carter felt the food crawling its way back up his esophagus, and he hit himself in the chest to knock it back down. His benefactor let out a little laugh.

"My name is Arista. I am the greetings delegate from the village of..." stopped Arista in the middle of her sentence.

"He calls it Hags, now, the Village of Hags. He changed it last week," came another voice behind Carter.

"Yuma? Did Arthur say you could come in here?" asked Arista.

"No. But then, when was the last time I listened to that rawboned bitch," said Yuma.

Carter didn't bother to turn around to look at Yuma. He was still concerned about keeping that manna down.

"Do not let him hear you say that. You will be ostracized like Hammy and the others," said Arista.

"I don't give a fuck. I'm the only one who can retrieve giant boar meat from the sixth floor he loves so much," said Yuma as she sat down on the big beetle throne. Yuma was as tall as Arista, with black hair wrapped around her neck and draped over her shoulder, ending in a single braid. Her button nose was upturned as if she was snooty, but her attitude was pedestrian. Her top was strapless, and her bottom was the ubiquitous loin cover. Her eyes and lips both smiled as she laughed.

"Looks like that's going to change. He is joining us this time," said another voice while walking in the door.

"Indigo? Did he say something to you?" asked Yuma.

Indigo was a tall half-elf with a murky-white complexion. The desert kisses everyone's skin to a darker tone, even hers. The exception would be Carter; he has a natural sun blocker, dirt. Indigo's bosom was disproportional ample compared to her skinny hips and torso. Her face was clean and exquisitely beautiful. She reminded Carter of Ella Landers when she had a body. This must be the healer he heard about.

"Yes. He told me he was going to see this hideous hag, as he called it, off to the fourth floor," said Indigo while pointing at Carter. She sat beside him and whispered, "I didn't say that. He did." She tapped him on his arm to comfort him. She pulled it back and looked at her dirty fingers with a frown.

Carter thought he would be left alone today, but that wouldn't be. He looked down at the fingerprint smears on his arm.

"Arthur is coming with us to the sixth floor? I can't remember a time he's ever wanted to do that," said Yuma as she stretched out on the sizeable beetle chair. Her top started to ride up on her, and she grabbed it and took it off. Her breasts were large and emphasized by their white contrast to her skin. They glowed in the dark tent, making Carter blush a little bit. She started rubbing her breasts up and down as if they had fallen asleep because of the restrictions of her top.

"Yuma! You know Arthur doesn't like it when you do that," said Arista.

"Amazon's are naturally naked!" said Yuma as she released her breasts and sat up in her chair.

Arista lifted her hand, which had a symbol of a bug on it. "While we have these thrall symbols, he is in charge," said Arista. Arista remembers when she first got here, and she was starving. She couldn't eat until she pledged herself to Arthur, as did everyone else in the village.

"Well, he didn't come out and say we couldn't be naked. He says he doesn't like it," said Yuma as she released her bottom loin cloth and stood up.

Carter stared as he noticed the tan lines outlining her female parts as she walked around. She ignored all the screams to get redressed.

"He's not coming back here, the little gimp. We have a master, a man, and we are childless. Something isn't right," said Yuma as she walked behind Carter, sadly, out of his eyesight.

"Amanda says he fertilized her but doesn't want to bring a baby into this village. She is waiting till she is freed," said Arista.

Yuma walked back around and sat down in the large chair again. "Amanda lies," said Yuma.

Arista stood up and bent over so her face was close to Yuma's. Yuma gave her a little kiss on her lips. "I am always up for you being naked, but we have to set a good example for ..." stopped Arista as she looked back at Carter, expecting him to fill in the blank.

"Carter," said Carter quietly.

"Carter can kiss my ass," said Yuma as she pointed at her bi-colored butt and slapped it hard.

He blushed again, not that anyone could tell with the inch of soot on his face.

"Just do it. You don't know who else could walk in here," said Arista as she slapped Yuma on the butt.

Yuma smiled and said, "You owe me. You know you're the only one that can make me do anything." She stood up and placed her clothes back on.

She saw Carter staring as she placed her top over her breasts. She bent down so she could see him face to face. "That's never going to happen. You look like a shit-covered Orc!" said Yuma. Arista slapped her on her ass again and said, "Manners!"

Indigo and Yuma started laughing. "I'm not an Orc," said Carter under his breath.

The flap on the tent rose and fell back down. The wind from outside fell good for a moment and then vanished.

"Captain Harlow? What brings you to this... greeting," said Arista as she stood at attention.

Carter felt a pang in his stomach as the manna started to absorb. It gurgled out loud.

Hearing the noise, Captain Harlow asked, "She ate the manna?"

Indigo and Yuma looked at each other with smiles on their faces. "Well, that's our cue to leave," said Yuma as she bounced to the door. "Catch you later, Arista!' screamed Yuma. Indigo slipped out behind her.

"Well, let's hurry this up then," said Captain Harlow as she sat beside Carter.

"I was only following orders, Carter. I figured you would be better off here in the village than out there on the monster-infested floor. If I knew he would kick you out, I wouldn't have done it," said Captain Harlow.

Carter remembered her hurtful words about him and didn't give her any sympathy.

"Early tomorrow morning, we will leave for the sixth floor. We will be dropping you off on the fourth. A village to the north has a few undesirables living there. You can see if you can stay with them. You can take your equipment with you," said Harlow.

"Understand?" said Harlow as she looked at Carter.

"Yes," said Carter, and he closed his eyes. He was a little tired, but he was fighting a bout of gas that was building up in his stomach. He couldn't take it anymore and let out a loud belch.

"I'm heading out the door before that becomes a bottom-level noise," said Harlow as she stood up and walked out. Carter stood up to alleviate some of the 'bloating' he was feeling. He attached his bag and sword to his belt, grabbed the gland, and threw it in.

"Fire glands are very rare in black beetles. But then, luckily, it didn't manifest into a fire beetle this time. One appeared two years ago, and it took three legions to kill it. We lost Hammy's leg that day, and she was kicked out. She walked over to a part of the hut with junk lying all over the ground. She moved a few fur blankets and pulled out a red carapace. It was a lot smaller than the one he had in his bag.

"It was this big," said Arista, lifting the carapace with a grunt. She threw it down, and it crashed to the floor.

"I don't know why we keep it. Nobody can do anything with it anyway. It's too hard," said Arista as she walked back towards Carter.

"What's the gland good for?" said Carter as he sat down again.

"It's mostly used to make magic torches. Want to see?" said Arista.

Carter pulled the gland back out as Arista grabbed three torch sticks. She pulled a knife from her belt and sliced the gland up into three parts. She took one of her torches and placed the gland on the tip of the stick.

"Linfundunt ignem" said Arista, and the gland fused onto the stick. The gland melted and then wrapped itself around the end of the stick. She lifted the orange-tipped stick and hit it on a rock that circled the fire. It started up and glowed brightly. It was too bright inside the tent. She hit the tip again on the rock, and it went out.

"We don't have much need for torches in a desert, but once in a while, we need to go to the caves up north for needed items," said Arista.

She grabbed the other stick and made another one.

Carter took his stick and poked it into the gland. He said the words, and the gland fused into the torch. He felt the spell drop into his stomach.

"Magic?" said Arista.

"Luck," said Carter.

She needed to tell Arthur about this new revelation. It could save the hideous woman from dying on the fourth floor. She would, but she knew he had already decided, which wouldn't change anything. A look of sadness came on her face.

"I'm an artificer, not a particularly good one, that can create items from ingredients and items. Infuse torch is my specialty," said Arista.

"What else can you make?" asked Carter.

"Armor! This piece of armor I'm wearing I made myself," said Arista enthusiastically as she held on to the edges of the armor and pulled it off. She had nothing on below the armor, and her ample bosom was set free. They must have been squished down a lot by that armor.

"I use magic to contort the shell into wearable armor. I shape it to each individual's body and then place a magic seal that only you can break," said Arista. She turned around, showing the back piece of the armor. She then turned around again and placed the front piece back on. It auto-sealed with the back piece, and Arista let out a small grunt as her breasts were compacted again.

"It is a little tight in some areas, but you get used to it," said Arista as her breath labored.

Carter pulled four pieces of the beetle carapace out of his bag and showed them to Arista.

"You want to learn?" said Arista.

She looked at Carter for a second and then shook her head. "Four carapaces won't be enough material for your, um...large statue, but I can make a bigger armor for myself, especially in the more constricting areas. They are starting to itch like hell," said Arista. She pulled her armor off again and tossed aside her old armor. She started to itch herself in front of Carter, and her breasts began turning red.

She grabbed two of the carapaces for her front piece of armor, placed them on her chest and stomach, and held them tight. "Can you hold these for a moment?" said Arista. Carter stood up and put his hands on the black pieces of carapace. Arista smiled for a moment, her hands glowing orange, and she touched the edges of the carapaces.

"Figura armis," she said out loud.

The material started shaping into a malleable material and then conformed to her figure. The breasts formed first on the carapace, and it began to shink to her figure. When it was done, she had the front part of her armor. The armor accommodated much bigger breasts now.

A smile came over her face as she liked how this armor fit. "Wonderful. We will have to wait for a moment while I garner enough mana to do the back," said Arista.

"Can I try?" said Carter.

Arista smiled and didn't know what to say. She didn't want her new armor destroyed if he had a lousy aptitude for magic. But it was his material. She could hope that he couldn't do it, and she could do it later. "All right. Do you know what to do?" said Arista.

Carter grabbed the two other pieces and walked behind Arista. "When it becomes malleable, conform it to the back, shift the extra material upwards, so they line up with the bottom and top of the front piece. If there is any additional material, add it to the thickness.

He shook his head up and down and applied the spell. The material melted into the malleable form, and he conformed it to her back.

"Not too tight, leave a little room," said Arista as she got a little excited at the speed at which the material melted.

The material moved with the amount of mana you put into it. Your mind did the rest, shaping it and moving it around. It was starting to straighten up and align with the other armor.

"Make sure you use a magic seal on the armor. Just push a lot of your mana into the edges," said Arista, hoping that Carter wouldn't run out of mana.

Carter forced his mana to enter the edges. At first, he poured it on, but that was too much, so he pulled it back some. He finally stopped the mana altogether and slowly let go of the armor.

"Are you done?" asked Arista with a look of uneasiness.

"Yes," said Carter, sitting in the chair beside the door. He grabbed ahold of the side of the chair and wondered if she had made these chairs also.

Arista removed both parts of her armor again and scrutinized their appearance and durability. She took her knife and tried to stab the armor. It bounced off both pieces. A large smile came over her face. She looked at the piece of armor for her back, and a look of confusion came over her face.

"How is it that your armor piece has more detail and is thicker? " asked Arista.

Carter raised his hands and said, "I'm not sure."

Arista stood there, topless, staring at the two pieces of armor they just made together. Carter was trying his best not to stare at her breasts but was losing the battle. They were bigger than his hands and beaming white with small, pink, erect nipples. She must have been excited about the armor.

Carter frowned for a second and felt a pang in his colon. His face grimaced, and he let out a low moan.

"What's wrong?" said Arista.

"I'm not sure," said Carter as he stood up and grabbed his ass as he clenched his cheeks..

A large smile came over Arista's face as she said, "That's my cue to return to work."

She placed the armor over her hefty breasts and toned back, and a relief washed over her face as it clicked together.

"The armor fits a lot better," said Arista, rubbing the armor where her breasts were contained underneath.

She pointed to a curtain in the back of the hut and said, "That's the bathroom if you need it, and you're going to need it. That manna takes some getting used to," said Arista with a smile.

Carter couldn't take it anymore and released one of the biggest and longest farts he had ever done. Arista hurried up and ran past him while holding her nose. "Thank you," she said in a voice only a person with a pinched nose could make.

He ran towards the curtain in the back and threw it open. He saw a wooden stool with a hole in it sitting upon a large hole that stunk severely. It smelled worse than what he just released back there. He climbed upon the stool, hoping it wouldn't break, and relieved himself in more ways than one.

After a few hours, he returned to the main room and sat down again. It was pretty quiet and dark in the tent. Daylight still poured in through the front flap and what looked like small side windows. The Tower must not have days and nights like a regular outside has. The Forest also didn't have days and nights, just nights.

He stood up, walked over, and grabbed the red carapace that Arista had tossed down. He released another ghost of manna's past from his bowels, making him feel better. He removed his top shirt, exposing his somewhat clean muscles on his chest and stomach. The clothes took most of the brunt of the dirt and filth he received daily, leaving the area under his clothes somewhat clean.

He placed the carapace on his chest and used the spell of shape armor. The red carapace refused to bend or become malleable. Carter forced more mana into it as it started to glow bright. It began to become flexible, and he placed it on his chest. The heat burnt his skin as it touched, and he let out a little scream.

"What's going on in there?" said a female voice from outside.

"Of course, they left a guard," Carter thought.

The flap on the hut opened, and Carter released another dose of toxic vapors into the air. It wasn't forced, but a serendipitous release on his bowel's part.

"Nothing, just a little gas," said Carter as he kept the mana infusing into the red carapace.

"Oh, Nature, it smells like you died in here," said the woman named Cindy. Carter recognized her voice.

She turned around and ran outside. "Just keep it down in there!" screamed Cindy as the flap came back down.

The material finally finished creating a spectacular piece of armor. He frowned briefly, wondering how he would do the back armor. He threw the other piece of red carapace on the ground and fell back onto it. The shape and hardness hurt his back, and he would have to do this fast.

He started pouring mana into the malleable red carapace as he reached behind him. The material began to soften, especially with the large amount of mana he was putting into it. This time, the malleable material was against his skin, and the heat burned his flesh. He gritted his teeth and took the pain. More gas was released from his bowel as he let out another little scream. The guard realized what was occurring and ignored the scream this time.

Once he was getting close to finishing the back armor, he created a little more room in it and then applied ample mana up and down the edges. It sealed together nicely, and he sat up exhausted.

He couldn't see the armor, but it covered much more of his body than Arista's armor. His stomach was covered, as was his shoulders. Arista's armor only covers her chest and back. He was happy and released the armor. He shouldn't be seen with it on.

The shiny armor fell to the ground. He picked it up and tossed it into his haversack. He grabbed his holy shirt and put it on. He sat back down in his chair and closed his eyes.

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