"WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!?" by NobodyAtAll

It’s Cal again. It’s only been a couple of days since acquiring MIKA, and he’s settled in nicely.

Niv’s a bit worried that MIKA might throw off our group dynamic, but the ChaotiX has only gotten bigger and bigger since I joined, and is still thriving, so I think our shiny new friend just needs some time to find his groove.

I’m not getting rid of MIKA in a hurry, I’ll tell you that. We spent most of our first day experimenting with new looks. The whole family made suggestions.

Besides, Niv complained about Fi when she first joined our system, and look at how well they work together now.

You’ve got a point, I shouldn’t be so resistant to change. Maybe that’s the caveman part of our brain talking. You know, “old thing good, new thing bad, unga bunga”, that kind of thing.

I can’t lie: every time a new Champion takes up the Sword of Kings, I’m always curious to see how the world changed as I slumbered in Fairy Hollow.

Change is just a part of life, Niv, like it or not. The world changes, and we change with it. We change, and the world changes with us. You can’t stop change from happening any more than you can make pi equal exactly three.

Yeah, look at how much the world changed when fluffies came along. No one could stop it from happening once it started.

And shit just got crazier from there.

Speaking of change, there is one new development, a strange one.

Yesterday, we discovered that a feral herd was
mysteriously wiped out, on the coast of Italy.

We don’t know what killed the herd, but we’re investigating.

The squad we sent to Italy found a really old wooden box on the beach, where the herd was presumably foraging for food, and the squad brought it to Val’s lab to study further, so we can figure out exactly what happened to the herd, and if the box has anything to do with it.

And if it’s going to happen to any other herds.

It can’t be the other half of the Octovirate, they’re stuck on Magicca. Right?

I think we’d know if those assholes made it back to Earth.

Dehak would start casting spells immediately, and with his power, that would stick out like a sore thumb here on Earth. The entire magical community would be freaking out. Gaius would probably uproot himself and run away screaming if he felt Dehak coming through the Pit of Giaga.

And all of the other trees in Fairy Hollow would run after him. The fairies live in those trees, like Beastman tree-cities scaled down, and they might be able to make the trees move with fairy magic. They haven’t said that they can’t do that.

Run, forest! Run!

Fuck, that’s a good one.

Moving on…

The Rider and the Many, they’d be likely to want to come back to Earth. They both want to kill fluffies, and I’m not sure that woollies would be an adequate substitute for either of 'em.

And they might be feeling homesick. There’s a lot of things you’ll realize you took for granted when you go from Earth to Magicca for the first time.

Electricity, for starters.

And beds that aren’t stuffed with straw.

Also, indoor plumbing, but that’s catching on over there.

Harvey did some good during his illegitimate reign, even if it was just for his own benefit.

But then there’s Varney, who is more likely to stay on Magicca. Technology there is about at the level it was on Earth in his original era, so Magicca might feel more familiar to him than modern day Earth would, and he probably thinks that the weaknesses of vampires aren’t known as well there.

Joke’s on him, the Hunter’s Association opened their first branch on Magicca recently. Right in Dragonheart, Drakonia’s vampire hunters of tomorrow are already having knowledge accumulated over a thousand years of hunting the night stuffed into their heads.

There’s also an anatomy course, because some people need to be taught exactly where the heart is, otherwise any vampire they try to stake will look like a fuckin’ colander by the time they get it right.

One time, when she was still a rookie, Sonia accidentally staked a vampire in the spleen, and the story is still told at Van Helsing family gatherings, much to Sonia’s eternal shame.

Don’t tell her I told you that, dear readers.

As for Dehak, I think his goal is to be wherever I am, because, if he had magic that could kill me from that far away, he would have used it by now.

Wizards on our side of the universe are scared shitless of snipers for that exact reason. Even the strongest wizard’s gotta get relatively close to kill you with magic.

And Varyas can block most bullets, but that doesn’t really help if a sniper headshots you before you even realize that you’re in danger, let alone before you can cast any spells.

Another reason that wizards aren’t ruling Earth.

Note to self: discuss this matter with Vic later, he’s a good sniper.

I’ll remind you if you forget. And if it’s not the Octovirate who killed that herd, there’s plenty of other suspects. Italy has fluffy abusers too, right? I dunno if abuse is illegal there.

Probably, lots of countries in Europe have banned it.

I doubt that this was the work of an abuser, Niv. Obviously, the box is the key to solving this mystery. My hypothesis is that something dangerous was sealed inside it, and that herd unwittingly unleashed it.

That’s a no-brainer, Fi. You don’t think it was a Stone of Octavo in there, do you?

No, I don’t think so. There was already one Stone on Earth, and another technically inside Earth.

It would be too convenient for us if they were all brought to Earth by aliens.

It could be worse, Cal. An alien could come to Earth to TAKE them.

Technically, that already happened. Twice, in fact.

I mean, Gene is an alien.

But we can trust the Patrol to keep the Stones we’ve found so far safe.

Not like they’re gonna use them to turn every criminal in the universe to dust or something…

So, me and Marley are back at Valerie’s lab, and the entire Nerd Squad has been called in to study the box.

It’s got a cross on the lid, and words in what I think is Latin, and more words in what is probably Italian below that. The lid is open, seven metal disks inside the box, probably silver, kinda like big coins, with more Latin on them.

I can translate it for you, Cal.

Alright, go ahead.

Roughly translated, the Latin on the lid says “Seals of Virtue, do not open”, and the Italian says, erm… “Seriously, don’t open the box! Never! No, not even then!”

Ah, it’s nice to have someone else who speaks Latin in here.

Well, gangus, it looks like we’ve gottus a biggus fattus mysteryus on our hands. Time to start carping diems and habeasing corpuses or whateverus.


A valiant effort, Niv.

I was THIS close to saying random Harry Potter spells, but Des would never forgive me if he found out.

Very funny, Niv, but save your jokes for later.

I’m assuming that the disks are the Seals of Virtue, MIKA?

I think they might be medallions or amulets, but yeah, probably. I calculate a 98% chance that they’re the Seals mentioned on the lid.

And I’m pretty sure that the Italian on the lid is a later addition, Cal. It’s not as weathered.

So this probably isn’t the first time the box has been opened.

Thanks, MIKA.

You’re welcome. Always happy to help, Cal.

“Val, are those things safe to touch?”

Valerie nods.

“They are. If you take a close look at them, you might be able to guess what I’ve guessed. I translated it immediately.”

Fucking Valerie.

“Alrighty then.”

I take one of the Seals out of the box, examining it carefully, seeing a word engraved on either side.

Patientia, and Ira. More Latin. Definitely sounds like more Latin.”

“Wut du dat meen, daddeh? Mawwey nu speek Wah-tin.”

“I barely speak it either, buddy.”

It means “Patience” and “Wrath”, respectively.

Thanks again.

I repeat it for Marley’s benefit.

“Waff? Wike bein weawwy weawwy angwy?”

“Exactly, Mar.”

“Su wut du da uddas say?”

“Let’s take a look and find out.”

Why didn’t I ever learn Latin in high school?

It was an elective. If I remember correctly, and being a product of your subconscious, I DO, you took video game development instead, saying, and I quote, “Look out, y’all, here comes the next Shigeru Miyamoto!”

Damn it, Past Me! You dumbass!

It was my best class, but right now, knowing the difference between a variable and a flag isn’t very useful.

I made a Pong clone called Bong, and yes, the paddles were replaced with bongs, but that wouldn’t be very useful either.

Before you ask, dear readers, the ball was replaced with a pot leaf. And the background was green, red and yellow.

And the music was a MIDI of One Love on loop.

If you thought that the only things Pong was missing were a teenager’s sense of humor and a background that rapes your eyes with bright colors like a website in the 90s, you’d love it.

However, I might have an inkling of what’s going on here. I’ll have to check the others to be sure.

MIKA, do you need any help translating them for Cal?

Sure. We can take turns.

Good to see you guys cooperating.

And I’ll just… stand over here with Memories and twiddle my thumbs, because I know EXACTLY as much Latin as YOU do, so I can’t help you here.

Aw, is the eldest child feeling a bit jealous of the new arrival?

I’m not jealous, Memories! Does MIKA have awesome dark juju? No, I’m pretty sure that’s ME!

Knock it off, guys, we’ve got shit to do. Don’t make me put you in time out, Niv.

One by one, I examine the Seals, reading the words on each one out loud for Marley.

Industria… Acedia…

That’s “Diligence” and “Sloth”…

Castitas… Luxuria…

That’s “Chastity” and “Lust”…

Caritas… Avaritia…

That’s “Charity” and “Greed”…

Humanitas… Invidia…

That’s “Kindness” and “Envy”…

Temperantia… Gula…

That’s “Temperance” and “Gluttony”…

Humilitas… Superbia.

And that’s “Humility” and “Pride”.

Good work, guys.

After repeating the translations to Marley, he mulls it over.

“Su wut du aww doze wowdsies meen?

Valerie takes that question.

“They’re the Seven Heavenly Virtues, and the corresponding Seven Deadly Sins, Marley. Although, according to Orthodox Christianity, there’s said to be eight of each, the eighth Virtue being Hope, and the eighth Sin being Despair. Catholicism just combined them with Diligence and Sloth.”

“Fanks, Vaw. Daddeh, can Mawwey wun a fee-oh-wee bai yu?”

We spend a lot of time in this lab, Mar’s picked up a good amount of science lingo.

“Sure, Mar.”

He looks up at me, a very serious expression on his green face.

“Dis am sum Pan-dowa Boxie shit wite hewe.”

I nod, because I’ve drawn the same conclusion. The cross on the lid was my first clue.

“These Seals were keeping something contained. Something connected to the Seven Deadly Sins. That’s why they’re called the Seals of Virtue. Sins being kept in check by Virtues. Makes sense, right? And when that herd opened the box, the sinful somethings got out, and killed the herd. The important questions are, what are the somethings, where are the somethings now, and can we contain them again?

“An how did dat boxie git dewe? Nu fowgit dat wun tuu.”

Jack shrugs.

“I think you’re asking these questions to the wrong people, guys. But there’s someone who probably could answer these questions, and owes us big time.”

I know who he’s talking about.

And it makes sense. The guy lives not far from where we found the box.

Well, he’s closer than I am, at any rate.

“Then I know where we’ve gotta go. Mar, do you want to say it, or can I?”

“Gu fow it.”

“Thanks, buddy.”

I crack a grin at the others.

“The ChaotiX is going to the Vatican.”

Meanwhile, in Italy, seven fluffies waddle as fast as possible down a dirt road.

So, not very fast.

Italy is known for its wine, and there’s vineyards for days in the area.

The fluffy at the front of the pack speaks up, in an echoing voice that doesn’t sound like a fluffy’s voice at all. He’s a unicorn, white and gold, and everything about him screams “smarty”.

“These useless bodies are so slow! We won’t get anything done like this!”

The voice sounds deep, and masculine, and bossy. The kind of voice that would be used to say “I want to speak to your manager” far more often than it would be used to say “please”, “thank you”, “excuse me”, “sorry”, “I was wrong”, “I made a mistake”, or “it’s my fault”.

The fluffy on his right speaks up, his echoing voice sounding shrill and indignant, his fluff and eyes a vibrant emerald hue.

“You’re right! I want a better body! I deserve a better body!”

The fluffy at the back of the pack mumbles to himself, his echoing voice sounding terminally glum and despondent. His fluff is blueish-grey, and his black mane has been swept forward, covering one eye, making him strongly resemble an emo teenager.

“I don’t really care. I’ll do whatever you guys do.”

The third fluffy laughs, a jolly laugh that sounds like it comes straight from the belly, his echoing voice tinged with hungry undertones. He’s the fattest of the seven, and the bright red and yellow of his body wouldn’t be out of place in a fast food restaurant.

“I like these fuzzy things. They’re almost as ravenous as I am!”

The fifth fluffy speaks up, his echoing voice having the snotty tone of someone who knows exactly how much money he’s owed, which is all of the money, everywhere. His eyes are beady, his fluff is orange, and if he had hands, he’d be grabbing anything that catches his interest.

“Bah! How can you stand the competition, Gula? Any food they’re eating is food you’re not eating! So what if there’s more food than you can possibly eat? Having it is what matters, and what’s more important is that no one else has it!”

“Fair enough, Avaritia. Frankly, I’m wondering how these fuzzy things taste battered, deep-fried and smothered in butter. No wait, ranch dressing! No wait, melted chocolate! Or melted cheese! Screw it, all four! And whipped cream on top! With sprinkles! And put a hard-boiled egg on there, too! I’ll take seven of those, please! No, I’m not sharing, you get your own. And let me have a bite. Or two. Or five…”

While Gula keeps babbling about food, the sixth fluffy speaks up, his no-nos throbbing, his echoing voice sounding so sleazy that hearing it will quickly instill a strong desire for a boiling hot shower and an STD test. He’s constantly licking his lips in a lecherous manner, his hot pink fluff is stained with bodily fluids that it’s best not to identify, and if he had hands, he would probably be pleasuring himself.

I like these fuzzy things too. They’re always getting busy, and in public, too, so shameless, so dirty, so depraved, oh my, just watch them go at it like it’s about to be banned. Naughty little things, bad little creatures, naughty naughty…”

“Take it easy, Luxuria, you’re spoiling my appetite.”

“Oh, am I? Am I being a bad boy? Do you want to punish me, Gula? You know that the two of us can make sweet music together. So don’t resist it, just let it happen, you know you like it, you’re practically asking for it…”

As the others tune Luxuria out, the final member cuts in, his voice less echoing and more booming, and the tone suggests that he is perpetually on the verge of a violent temper tantrum. His fluff is a furious shade of red, his eyes are bloodshot, and he can’t stop grinding his teeth.

“I’m with the Boss. I hate these fuzzy things, they’re so weak. I hate you guys. I hate those stupid vineyards too. I hate wine, because it’s just rotten grape juice. I hate grape juice. I hate grapes.”

Invidia speaks up again, rolling his eyes.

“What don’t you hate, Ira?”

“…Hating things. I don’t hate that.

“Such a surprise.”

“I hate sarcasm too, Invidia. And I hate how slow these fuzzy creatures are, it’s taking forever and I hate walking. I wish I had a stronger body, so I could show the world how much I hate it. If you ask me, it’s the world’s fault, for having so many things that piss me off in it.”

The leader nods.

“Fortunately, humans seem to still be around. I don’t think it’s more of these ugly pig-horses making wine, they can barely crush a grape. Is it just me, or do their bodies feel… artificial? Kind of like flesh golems, but different. I’m definitely sure that humans created them. Those humans must have advanced a lot while we’ve been away. They’ll never be on my level, but they’ll be very useful to us.”

Ira scowls.

“I hated being stuck in that box. I was so bored, and I hate boredom.”

The others nod in agreement, on the same page as Ira for once.

The leader continues.

“Yes, it’s good to stretch our legs again, even if they’re not our legs, and even if they’re so short and stubby. We’ll put up with the pig-horses until we find some humans who fit the bill.”

The depressed one at the rear sighs.

“If it’s too much effort, I’ll just stick with this body. Always pick the easiest option, that’s my motto.”

The leader scoffs.

“Because you’re a lazy slob, Acedia. My motto is: don’t back down, double down. Backing down is admitting weakness, and I would die a trillion times before I ever admit weakness.”

“I hate weakness, Superbia.”

“Of course you do, Ira. But it’s always good to keep some weaklings around, so you look even stronger by comparison. Why do you think I’m staying with you dopes? You six are the dull foil around the brilliant, flawless diamond that is me. And I suppose that’s why the humans keep these pig-horses around, too. Even the dumbest, weakest human is a superstar compared to these idiotic creatures. Yes, that’s definitely why.”

The seven fluffies who are clearly being possessed stay silent as a couple of tourists walk past them, going the other way.

When the tourists are out of earshot, Superbia continues.

“Once we find the right people and ditch these pig-horses, we can really get started. It’s been a few centuries since we last got a chance to have some fun, and I doubt the world has forgotten us, and what we stand for. If the world has forgotten us, we’ll just have to remind it who we are.”

He laughs maliciously.

“Those cross-loving spoilsports couldn’t keep the Spirits of Sin down forever.