Take Up the Cross – Chapter 116: Youth Relived

An unending drone of gears should overwhelm hearing, but instead merciless silence oppresses.


Restart the calculation! Fehr!

“… What?”


Though she saved the guest, she also halted the process. Cradling the guest in her arms, the only one capable of correcting this mistake is…


(Fehr! Do it!)


In only a few turns it will come undone completely without her talents.

The calculation of many lifetimes if necessary to complete it, undone in one by a foolish sister unit’s ignorance.


“Fehr! Obey me! Restart—!”

“Are you safe!?”


Another who should, must know, the importance of this room flaps in from the corner of Fehl’s eye. Looking him over, the suddenly agile woman then nods her head and narrows her eyes. Her large body blocks view between him and his sister.


“I thought you might be falling, so I missed my—! OH!?”




For his weight to hit her means nothing.

The impact of his arms grasping his body around her thick waist only turns her slightly.



But when he squeezes, she twists to obey his pull downward.

Fly to Fehr, immediately, Sapphira!

“You grasping…!?”


(We are about to destroy everything he set in motion!)


With his face buried to block out the view below, one gradually growing only deeper and more devouring as Sapphira’s darkness vanishes with the hourglass-shaped waterlight shattering, Fehl can only bear with the indignant tone of the harpy matron after manhandling her.


(I despise this sense of impending failure! I reject it! I will correct myself… and her!)


He can only face this strange error flooding through him, all to save his Maker’s work!


Shivering when in contact with Sapphira is a painful demonstration of insufficiency, especially before this seasoned elder.


(… Why does my back feel cold to touch her, as well?)


Her vocal dislike of him fades fast when this quaking is noticed, and, for some reason, her frustrated tone turns caring as both begin to descend.


“… Then… hold fast.”




One turn passes while they glide within earshot of the harpy maids who played in this misbegotten game, hovering in amazement of Fehl’s shout and Kol’s fall.


Kachua! Restia! Swoop in, be ready to grab both!”

“Eh…? Why—?”




Another turn passes before he lets go, to drop toward two survivors on a stopped gear.


(So much—! Higher than—!?)


Though absent during their “play”, the ground now reaches up to smash him against the distant gray tiles and lower machinery when he will inevitably miss!


(Why am I uncertain!?)




But, his feet find purchase after hitting the tooth.


“Brother! Kol… the guest, requires—!”

“Oh, kaka… Stud, showed—?”


A snapping hand silences them when it swings out!


Leaning toward the easy-going playmates, Fehl’s order cannot be misheard now.

Its importance never misunderstood when he speaks with authority.



“… Eh?”


Despite how disorderly and soiled the noble automaton has become, Fehr should ever be a proper servant of Falke Kestner.


But, no such servant would open her mouth in a dumbfounded expression at this urgency. Nor blink and then look around at the surrounding room full of innumerable bridging points, transferences, and thousands of spokes and teeth.

Lost, like she’s a kitten abandoned by her mother. Dumbfounded, like she doesn’t recognize her exact opposite before her.




Like normal, though, the two evolve into a jolting back-and-forth.


“Later! The guest’s safety is our primary concern—!”

“The guest is safe! Fix your—!

“—mistake!? Because I stopped it, she—!”

“—would’ve been safe without stopping the entire device—!”


Bitter in their words they finally become, despite being overtly unemotional to the core by design.


“—that I do not know the specifications for—!”

“—so you stopped the entirety of it—!?”

“—for what loss!? Prior areas suffered much worse deformations—!”


A petty conversation wastes time, until Fehl’s last nerve snaps and he howls.


“—except this calculation cannot be resumed if halted much longer! Administer the solution, NOW, or we will cause permanent damage!”

“P-P-Permanent!?” This shocking information freezes Fehr, prompting a tighter squeeze of the wounded kobold gazing between them with fascination.

“This unit, did…!? M-Made a permanent alteration, violating, the first…!?”








“Why stop all of it, explain—!?”

“—how else to halt the mechanism without—!?”


Their hands point, swing, and switch each other’s focuses as their exchange commences.


“—obviously using partial isolation! Identify the solution—!”

“—without comprehending the entire mechanism, how to find the—!?”


(You know an entry mechanism affected by it, you’re standing on it, so start here!)


His hand points rapidly.

“—secondary interlock, main loop, follow from the primary delinkage point at—!”

“—where does this section even connect, I can’t—!?”


“—brother, where is this compen—!?”




Fehl simply reaches in to grab up pretty silver hair,



(I am in error, as well.)


and twists Fehr’s attention toward the proper location while pointing.

So that she cannot possibly miss it, he makes her see it.




Follow this kinetic transfer to the primary mechanism’s main loop, register the compensator gathering tension there, and activate the failsafe mechanism. NOW!


Unnecessary as it is, Fehr’s face squints in discomfort. She systematically traces the mechanism to the indicated spot, before pulling away roughly.

“… U-Understood.”


(Why do you stare at me like that? Hurry! Two turns at most remain!)


Inward senses narrow down the compensator with his expert instructions, but her shaking blue eyes refuse to stop staring at Fehl.


“Engaging, stand by… instant resonance!? Something potent is—”

“Ignore it! Withdraw your senses or be endangered. Release is sufficient!”




A thunderous click resounds through the quiet room, startling the harpies flapping above that were engrossed with watching the twins.


(Good! Compensator activation implies stoppage tolerances weren’t exceeded…!)




“We depart now, Fehr!”

“…Now? But, the guest is still—!?”


Ponderously, the enormous tension at the heart of the mechanism begins to unwind.


The first motivating sections of the giant calculation spin up at a rate far faster than before when the room resumes its spinning orbits.


“Ah? Kol, wanted to keep playing here…!”

Struggling to rise, the ignorant guest sounds…


You will rest, immediately!


Fehr roars at Kol, far louder than the gears that drone again around them. The honored guest drops like a frozen kitten back into Fehr’s lap, enticing the servant to pat Kol’s head where she isn’t wounded.

“… The guest will recover before playing again. With tea and snacks, and proper treatment.”

“Huh…!? Guh, Kol…?” Despite kicking at the tooth sulkily, the braggart sinks into acceptance of this order with a grin. “Hah… Cute, finally got…? Okay, then, Kol did what Kol needed to do, so Kol agrees~!”

Reaching up to pat her back, Kol breaks into cheer that belies her grievous wound.

“Very good spirit! Kakakaka!

“… T-Thank you…?”


(This guest is supremely annoying!)


“Hey, hey!?”

“What’d you two do!?”


Objects of stellar representation begin to carve dangerously around them, earning the fright of musical voices as harpies dodge about.

A mathematical procession that slowly advanced with the pace of a funeral now becomes a crunching, grinding race to the slaughter. The shrieking whistling announces the core’s activation, with the shaking of the room eventually transferring to their gear to send it lurching forward before seizing again.





Fehr lifts Kol, but it’s Fehl’s arms which grab her.


“The machine’s output is exceeding safety limits!”

“Stud is weir—!? GUH!?”


An injured playmate is hurled from the gear into the grasp of a passing harpy, just before the first vapors of heat from the humming core of the machine roll over them.


Hurry! The gate!


Not only hot, but also noxious, as if the solution to restarting seeks to punish the rats responsible for the current damage to it. No matter how impossibly big the room’s dimensions, the machine does not fail to fill it with stinking smoke.


“Fehl! Grab on!”


Restia flies off with Kol toward the distant gate on its solitary outstretching platform, followed by Kachua hoisting Fehl and Sapphira winging with Fehr.


“Why is it going crazy!?”

“‘Crazy’!? How dare you…?”

Huh!? S-Sorry…”


Arcs of white lightning flash between the false metal of the spinning, whirring, and jolting contraptions that seek to resume their ineffable purpose.


(We defied Him… Fehr and I, we… deserve…!)


If we’re to be eaten by its correction, then perhaps we deserve it…!








Through the opening gateway and into the original statuary hallway they shoot. The ornate door of stone and false wood briefly bellows smoke before slamming shut on their corrected crime and sealing.


“No one is to go back inside!”


(I was a fool to allow others to distract me from my Maker’s orders! A bigger fool, to think that I could avoid playing my part at any time, to lounge around, thinking myself so very…!)


The [interpreter] of the Maker adjusts his tie and eyes the spooked menagerie of servants that nearly destroyed an irreplaceable design. Safe now on the other side, he can right these wrongs.


(We exist to carry out orders of making this guest become ours, not to showcase our own self-importance!)





Their continued ignorance of the Maker’s plan is offensive.

Their indifference until now of its sanctity, criminal.


Their prior negligence with his older creation, nearly lethal to its glorious purpose.


That his sister looks at him with the hopeful, sheepish guile of a living creature, folding her hands like her timid emotions are real and begging his equal response, causes him to choke on his next words.


(Why do we seem to be exceeding our strict purpose…!?)


“Properly resumed its function, has the—?”


He saves whispers for the [executor] of the Maker’s will, a small girl who squares herself into silence when faced with her brother marching up.


We nearly failed our Maker, Fehr…

Failed…!? Us…!?


(We cannot betray more imperfections! Befitting our wondrous design… no, your beautiful self, we should…!)


Such a design even he has fallen in love with is Fehr’s, matching with his own but different, a complementary existence that has been found out as almost unqualified.


“No… that’s not…”

Proper servants would’ve saved the guest and preserved the machine without sacrificing either to achieve the goal.”

“… ‘Proper’…!?


(If I know we are capable of it, then why…!?)


“Why did I permit this travesty to occur through inept inaction? And why did you fail to achieve the bare minimum solution when it was needed, sister unit?”

“That’s not fa—!

No, I… I… didn’t… mean to…?”

“Attend to me, Fehr…”


Both shrink from those around them, timidly discussing their next steps.


(Why were we so concentrated on pride and honor before results!?)


Paradoxically, those who are closer than all others also now refuse to meet the other’s gaze while whispering…





“Kol is a guest. She will be treated as a guest. A guest will not be treated poorly, but instead with our fullest attention and respect.


A clear assertion sounds exactly like a demand when it’s being voiced by a girl who is only a year or so beyond the age of blossoming and it’s directed at competent adults forced to kneel before her.


“No, but, you heard what she said before she…~?”

“Yeah, yeah! She’s no guest, she’s claiming to be—!?”


The snap of a stomping foot shuts both them and the constant clacking behind the two up.







Through no conscious effort, Fehr’s oddly emotional intensity causes the sloshing of the manse’s reservoir to rumble beneath her.


“Even if all else is confusing and unknown regarding the manse’s situation, this fact, alone, is unchanging. No abusive actions, overt or otherwise, are permitted toward a… ‘personage’ that the Maker shows interest toward. Is this clearly understood?


“… Y-Your… guest, is it— I mean, she is…? Ok…”

“Mmmm… okay~. We’ll reflect on that, maybe~? Of course~!? Haha…”


To Fehl’s nodding approval, his sister re-establishes the supremacy of their orders with the talented, but seemingly lazy, harem harpies that nervously bow in contrition for their earlier underhanded advice.


(“Tyranny” is what the ignorant call the proper hierarchy re-establishing itself. It is proper to correct their moral lapses, Fehr.)




With this lesson ending, the clacking training behind the harpies recommences with gusto.


“GAH!? Kakaka! Good, Kol knew, if rest were tired, Swordbird could play…! HAH!”


An axe hacks away at only emptiness,


to be answered by a whistling edge’s dull, blunted impact.



A peacockatrice wearing a newer set of esoteric battle robes and garish silks with a feminine trim concludes his spiraling jump, sighing appreciatively at the blow delivered to his pupil’s temple.


“To be frank, it sounded as if the harm delivered to your head was quite severe, but I’m… pleased that you appear no less ignorant.”

“Ah…!? Definitely lasting memory! But, Kol feels fine!”

“Oh, good…”


Snacks and untouched tea refueled the lunging barbarian wailing at a slippery fencer. Earning a vigorous return blow with each failed swing, Kol shrugs off the pain that is far less severe than the vanishing scar and ragged ear returned to her head attest to receiving only a “short” earlier.


“Thanks for making time for her, dear~.”

Sapphira’s tilting head and breezy smile brings a stilted pause to the sneering fop’s fluid retreat.

The way she lounges on a couch grown from the floor, readily allowing her corpulent body to sink into it, can overcome the allure of violence.

“It means so much to have a man around who likes instructing children~.”


Thick white makeup and painted lips prominently showcase the turn of the corner of his mouth at the comment, even if he remains otherwise uncaring while sensuously sliding a finger along his thigh.

Certainly. There’s very little, practically nothing, that I cannot demonstrate with a gentle touch and indulgent attention, Miss Sapphira…”

Through qualities inherent to her thick flesh that seem sorely lacking in her muscular descendants, ones that stare with unseen but heated eyes up from the floor at their “dearest’s” sudden happiness, Sapphira seemingly earns the obedience of any male.


Mystical eyes obsessively catching only her shapely form seem to dream of…





Stolen attention nearly leads to this accomplished bird losing his neck, saved at the last moment by leaning away from Kol’s honest swing and drilling the tip of his saber into her cheekbone.



“Audacious! Cunning, even! But, where is the next step, neophyte!?


(The limitations of biology are useful targets.)


Though Fehl still cannot shake the coldness running up his spine regarding the beautiful matron, no matter his approval of her skills.


(Fortunately, creations of our Maker fear no allure of flesh.)


“GRRRR! Swordbird, c’mere!”

“I decline!”

“OW! OW!?”

Though he dresses with the flair of a spoiled woman who hungers for eyes upon her, his muscles spring him around with masculine aggression to continue one-sidedly beating Kol senseless, leaving the chopper uselessly running in circles.

Kol stumbles about trying to block his saber, but cannot defend against such remarkable sadism that guides this streaking weapon darting in from beyond Kol’s reach.

“Let’s make certain you experience every fabulous lesson I can possibly ‘impart’ before concluding today, oh knight…!




(How strange this one is? Despite being so depressed when we arrived, he now transforms into the best partner for this peerless destroyer? We will surely be free for some time thanks to him, though.)


That time is spent testily.




Finishing her own conversation, his sister promptly turns and marches toward him.

Chin up, she looks down on him from behind her white mask. Her earlier emotional instability is missing, only stoicism remaining after both comprehend their failures.


“This unit completes her instructions with precise effect.”

“As befitting your perfect design.”

“Yes. We are faultless, and therefore incapable of fault.


A short affirmation given, she then turns to face the same one he does.

No more care is given between siblings who perform their duties in unison.


(It feels weighty? Why are we discontented now?)


He with her, and her with him.

When Fehr moves, Fehl feels the need to surpass her crisp movements.


“Why is it always something convoluted with that boy…?”


Both gather before Sapphira, still resting while deep in thought. Their own instructor mentioned the need for a lesson, despite neither twin knowing what could possibly be taught.


(Our mistakes were unprompted by Sapphira…)


Hands before them instead of holding each other’s, Fehl and Fehr wait for her to open her eyes.

When she does, she stares longingly at both’s faces with apprehension showing nakedly, a wing lifting to rub her plumage over them.

“It’s quite unfair at my age to have to resolve this mad lark of his, but it’s even worse to create such wonderful children finally and make them suffer with it, too.”


(Why would we suffer from service…?)


“No doubt you two have many questions after so shocking a scene, so let’s hear a couple~?”

Returning to upright from her lazy lean, Sapphira lets her wings stretch out while yawning.

“I’ve my own, but those are about you two! Which bright kid will start, first~?”


Before Fehl can voice his own, his sister’s hand pushes on his chest to distract him.

A rudeness peeks out with her level tone.


“Why did you not save Kol, Sapphira?”


(How rude! She was merely…)


“It’s interesting that you’ve grown fond of her? So, it’s like before?

“W-Why are you petting me?”

In spite of the rudeness, the harpy matron again strokes Fehr’s head.


Seems like he recreated the same type of personality…?” Her whisper cuts off when she notices Fehl curiously watching. “Though it’s obvious enough for the other one who he takes after~?”


(Type of personality? No, the answer to before is obvious.)


“Fehr, Miss Sapphira—”

Am I ‘Miss’ again~?

“—could not safeguard my near fall and rescue the guest at the same time, if she did not do so. It was simply a matter of time and distance.”


Stating the obvious has the result of earning Fehr’s frown.

Since Fehl spoke for Sapphira, his sister addresses him after.


“Safeguarding you?”

“For some reason, I lost my balance at the same time. As Sapphira was closer to me, it is only logical that her attention was taken by the nearest—”

“An astounding coincidence. Hmph.”


(Why do you scoff at my explanation?)


“With little Fehl so close to tumbling, and him being pretty shaken by the height…”


Now it’s Fehl’s turn to interject.

“I am not, nor ever was, shaken by anything. Such a state of emotional shock is impossible. Vertical elevation is simply a matter of geometry! There is no actual danger from merely being many floors above the very solid ground below, no matter how much speed you would accrue if you were to…



Sapphira spares no bother with his lengthy explanation aside from staring at him with eyes full of some emotion…?


(… There’s nothing wrong with me!)


“Now you defend this lesser servant, brother? Should you not condemn her for the same reasons that you would condemn others for not solving both problems at once?

“There is no defense, merely a difference of objectives and limitations—!”

“How capricious.”

“I am what, now!?”

Fehr flicks her hair in disgust before turning from him, leaving Fehl lifting his clenched hand uselessly.


“… It’s far too familiar. I don’t know how to feel when facing this after so long…?


Again, Sapphira whispers solemnly.

The half smile on her face doesn’t match the wetness of her eyes.


(I don’t…?)


Fehl wants to ask about her comment, but she blinks and clears up her mood before he can.

“Fehl has the right of it. I’m much more interested in protecting you kids than saving some bumbling tunnel dog with delusions of granduer~.”



Breaking rank, Fehr steps up to her, staring with brimming anger.

“Forgetting what she means to the Maker, how can a servant forget her duty!? To allow harm to come to a guest—!”

“She’s not a guest, as she stated.”

“No, but she’s still within the manse and—!”

“Then how is she different from an invader~? Huhuhuhu!”


The adult acts childishly, while the child simmers with responsibility.


(I don’t comprehend the world you brought us into, Maker?)


“My, you kids are so innocent. If your question was ‘why didn’t you protect Fehl and this witless brick at the same time’, then it’s simply because… I didn’t particularly want to after she made such an obnoxious statement~?”

“You didn’t… want…?”

“No, and since I was made a member of this little contest without wanting to be, that kobold can’t complain if I show reluctance when prompted.”


What should be a serious admission of guilt is only a joke for the older woman who smiles with such longing at Fehr.


“… You… you can’t be… the Sapphira that I… that we?”

No longer mild, but sounding despairing, Fehr loses her perfect posture and slinks away from the bragging harpy.

“Hmm!? No, are you actually her…!?

Sapphira then jolts up, lurching toward Fehr with unusual energy.


When Fehr backs away further to escape capture, the harpy matron collapses back onto the couch with her mouth fixed open.

That devious little…!?

This is too much, I’ll just mount him and bully his impotent dick if he wants to raise…!? Why would he dredge up so many painful memories…!?

Sapphira’s usually unchanging kindness becomes a jilted woman’s scowl, at least until she notices Fehl’s equally repulsed step backward.

“Ummm… Pardon me! I’ve just… answered one of my own questions. Hahaha…!”


(What question was that?)


Crossing her legs, Sapphira chortles a bit while everyone tries to calm.

Except after hearing her, Fehl cannot.


“… For you to… show such naked disdain for our guest is impermissible.”

“Oh, impermissible, is it~?”

“Yes! No matter the change in… administration…? Focus…?”




(Who governs this manse!? Should it not be our Maker!?)


Fehl cannot contain the growing pressure from this issue.

Their Maker is an insurpassable existence. The manse is his creation, the seat of his power.


(How can someone else be its master!?)




Like Fehr, his discontent translates into body language he cannot control.

He steps forward arrogantly, thrusting his finger at her pleasant, laughing face.

“No, external questions do not matter! The Maker set us to this task as well as you! You joined in the mission of bringing this guest under his auspice! How can you think to defy the Maker, he who commands and owns—!?







Talons dig into the hard false stone much more easily than the guest’s wolf-like clawed feet did.

From her seated position, Sapphira whips up like a venomous snake to lean in and grin with closed eyes at the shaking Fehl.

Fehr lifts her hand, but then lets it fall again when the trembling overtaking her too prevents movement.




The absolute authority of water manifests, playing through the very beating veins and arteries of the matron. All moisture in the room seems to await the chance to condense with but one word spoken by her.


Little children who have no understanding of their equally tiny world should remain ever respectful of their elders, dearest boy.

… Please respond appropriately if you comprehend.”

“Certainly. My apologies, Miss Sapphira.”


Instead of commanding the water to destroy him, as Fehl well knows she could with a syllable, Sapphira nods her head at his total servility. Though not remotely aggressive outwardly, her disposition returns to alluring when her spirit ceases being destructive.


“Falke does not own me, Fehl. Nor any of my girls.”

“… Is… that…?”

Stay silent.


Nodding quickly, Fehl allows himself to be drawn into her wings along with Fehr.

They’re instructed with whispers while paralyzed by doubts.


“I have only ever belonged to the Kestners. That time was then, and this is now. No matter what appearances are, this manse and our activities here are simply a matter of mutual convenience. If you still do not get it, then you should ask the one who made you to explain his side of things to you.”


After saying this, she then changes from stern to cute.

“Shall I bully him a bit for you, this owner who throws you out to the wolves without a care~?”


Fehr shouts, earning a jostle while Sapphira laughs.

“Don’t you know that bullying is the most efficient way to communicate with men? You need to learn fast, or they’ll misunderstand their position with you, like this little tease here. My, my, how old are you two, anyway, Fehl~?”


(“How old”? We are…)


““We were activated less than a day ago.””

Both respond at once, earning a hiss from Sapphira in response.

“Less than a day and he expects you to move mountains!? I’ve taught him nothing… hah…”


“And why wouldn’t I? For a man who ‘accepts no mistakes’ to learn anything, I must constantly force him to make some~! Just like you two have experienced…?”


(Were you intentionally sabotaging…!?)


“What do you mean make—!?”

“You two have been simmering like toads in a heating pot all day! So terribly worried about every little thing you think you did or might do ‘wrong’…”

Fehl feels he should be sweating, realizing that Sapphira has read their plan for hiding their near-miss errors, as well.


“No, we did do wrong! Fehr nearly destroyed the Maker’s calculation for—!”

“For a matter that no longer ‘matters’, believe me, boy.”

“It has to matter! The Maker placed all of his heart into designing a calculation intended to mediate the balance between the usage of earthen spiritual energies without aggravating their bleed off into the user’s own body!”

Fehl pushes on her stomach and breasts, trying to get away.


“More than even us, this great work was created with detail that I can only read and never replicate!”

Though level, Sapphira’s mood darkens at Fehl’s accurate explanation.

“I see… you are also a result of how he views morality. Explains the peculiarities with your self-effacing manners.”

“How is it you can do what I can’t…?”

Strong wings refuse him to escape, while Fehr stares in fascination and jealousy at her brother’s knowledge. Now, she mutters her own misgivings.

“… If I’d just started the Regalia in the dueling hall like Kol wanted to, we’d never have intruded on…”

“That would’ve been impossible! Those Regalia were not creations of pseudoprósōpon, but rather proper golems of master fabrication empowered by earth spirits, Fehr. You made no errors there!”


(Never apologize for what is outside of your design!)


“Even if you had the keys to activate those older Regalia, they would not have come to life. I detected no earth spirits contained within the power plants of the Regalia!”

“Huh!? You can sense earth spirits!? Use them, perhaps!?”



Fehl’s face is crushed by cleavage when the excited harpy collapses over him.


“Falke finally created something that can beseech earth spirits!?”

“N-No! Observe, never beseech…! I am an interpreter unit…!”

“‘Intepreter’? So you’re a sensing type…?”

“Y-Yes! Fehr is the ‘executor’ unit! She takes the instructions received and reviewed by me to put them into effect!”

“Ahhh, so he separated the functions in order to simplify their process? Falke’s a brilliant man, no matter how boring~!”


Despite haranguing them earlier, Sapphira’s exuberance is like a young lady’s while petting Fehr and enveloping Fehl’s head between her enormous tits.


“I-I recognize not the heraldry affixed to them, but those Regalia were made by one definitely of the same lineage as our Maker, Fehr! A bird that isn’t a falcon, I wonder…?”

“… Yes, you’re correct, Fehl. Another did claim those…”

Sapphira’s excitement wanes with this topic, at least until she chuckles.

“The bird is easy to recognize, though, since it’s a clever—”




“It was a jackdaw (EASTERN CROW).”




The matron chokes at Fehr’s interruption, giving Fehl opportunity to retreat from her valley when she tilts to stare at Fehr.

“How do you know what it is…!?”

“A jackdaw, Fehr?”

Confronted with both of them giving her so much attention, the girl shifts awkwardly and looks away while scrunching her face.

“… I remember that bird…?”

“From where?”

Sapphira’s question is Fehl’s own, for he can’t recall seeing such a creature anywhere in the manse.


“… I cannot say for certain? But, it is familiar.”


(I was never gifted extensive knowledge of avians? Why would Fehr need such information? Why not me—OOMF!?)


With a sigh the woman pulls Fehl back in, smothering his forthcoming interrogation.


“What did he make you children for, really!? Falke, certainly not merely for the game involving these strangers, right?” Talking almost to herself rather than them, Sapphira’s interest grows regarding their own origin. “Everyone has a dream, right~? What do you two hope to accomplish with your ‘time’…?”


(That’s… that’s simple! We hope to…!)


For such an easy question they can answer roughly at once, as befitting their joint nature.


“To understand the Maker’s design so that I can bring glory to the Kestners.”

Fehl mumbles into Sapphira’s sternum.


“To understand the Maker’s design so that I can become a perfect existence.”

Fehr speaks this directly at Fehl, her hands pulling on his vest until both notice that their answers are…




(Why are they different!?)




“How terrible, I feel like there’s going to be a fight now after me asking that~?”

Fehr’s light pulls escalate in violence after they disagree on their purpose, prompting Fehl to bluster.

“‘P-Perfect existence’…!? We’ll be perfect when we can properly serve the family…!”

“Incorrect! I will be perfect when, like was once stated succinctly to this unit, I achieve the fullest understanding of the world around me and how my own form works! When I exceed the highest expectations and rise above them!”

“Is that not obvious in practice, discovered when you can carry out your duties—!?”

“—as if I can when there’s so much I don’t understand!”

“I will teach you—!”

“—from between this fat Sapphira’s useless breasts!?”


(Rude! They’re not useless, they feel quite pleasant…! Uh… why do I feel like… an error is spreading…!?)


“Fehr, you will discover how useful your body is when a man you like tries to—

Oh!? My, my, Fehl~?”

The longer he’s forced to feel her heat, the dizzier Fehl grows. More than simply confused in the mind, his hands come up to grope at them.

“Yes, Fehl is, mmm, demonstrating quite eagerly my point…!”


Balance seems impossible, forcing Fehl to grope harder…!?




Brother, bolster your insufficient will.

“Fehr…!? Hah… hah…”


Into Fehr’s arms he’s dragged, held tightly by a girl who could never hope to match the same emotional impact were she to try to trap him against her flat chest.


I am the one that belongs beside my counterpart. Not some… Sapphira that isn’t Sapphira!”

“What a concerning claim, for me to not be me, ahaha… You’re quite possessive, too… but it’s not the same way?

“No matter your relationship with the Maker, he owns the manse… he decides what transpires within! He is the the one who claims the Kestner title!”


(… Tell her, Fehr!)


Unable to himself, Fehl holds his sister tighter while nodding and enjoying her pleasant embrace. Even if Sapphira is not owned by Falke, despite the incongruity of claiming to have been owned by the family, the manse is clearly…!


A look of eternal longing settles into Sapphira, ceasing to crowd them as if her previous excitement was a passing fad.

Shaking her head, the experiences she utters destroy the twins’ confidence forever.




“I have lived a long life, the same as that man. Through rich times full of greatness and hope. Through fire and collapse, where we met a monster with an arrogant smile that stole his freedom. And, finally, to this place of eternal, unchanging quietude where I awake every morning to his newest, ever-more-pointless definition of ‘perfect’.”

Her wistfulness over such a storied past vanishes, replaced by a resigned displeasure and a sigh.

“Haah, neither in public nor in private has that always-uncertain, broken-spirited old prude of a goat ever had the guts to accept the role of being a Kestner.”


That cocky grin she has at the end vanishes.




“And so, Falke is not, nor has he ever truly been, one who can claim to a member of that misfortunate family called the ‘Kestners’.”




(… What… what… what…?)


When both of them sag against the other, the matron blinks once before taking on a look of pity.

Threatening to fall to the ground, they’re saved by her needy hugs as Sapphira’s aloofness breaks into open sadness to the point of tears.

“I’m sorry, you two. I know it’s a shock, and… I probably was too firm. It’s just… after this long, I feel a lot of conflicting thoughts about the idea of more children…?”

Attempts at explaining fall on deaf ears, for the automatons she hopes to aid remain silent as the dead.

“Falke has no claim to command me, nor the guts to stand before me and offer that role, but… my ‘vacation’ with you two hasn’t changed at all.”

She pets them with her wings, nudging them with her cheek against their heads as she kneels beside them.

“I’ll be here for you, even if it’s only for you two. I promise, I’d never let anything else, not even my girls, get between me and making sure you two find what you need?”


(… Why… isn’t… he… a Kestner…?)


“Falke always does things like this, did you know? Making huge mistakes and acting like they’re not mistakes, then… No, but you children aren’t mistakes! You’re wonderful, treasured little newborns who have full lives ahead of you and lots of time to learn, so let’s just relax and take our time, okay…?”




(Great Maker… what is… your… design…?)





I guess it’s not strange how they get along. After all, they’re similar, and she always liked girls like herself…


Someone whispers into Fehl’s ears while he silently watches two girls “play” under the close observation of the blademaster Kaskin.


“Guh!? Kol, hates that Cute fights like Swordbird! Always, dancing around, without any grit!”



A brutal weapon like the longaxe is capable of only offense. Fehl notes the fascination the kobold has with inflicting harm at the expense of self-preservation, being seduced instead by the flurry of strikes delivered by his sister’s two-handed, curved sword.


(… The kobold can’t win…)


“Fine: fists time!

Discovering that she can parry high strikes with the haft of the axe, Kol rushes to eliminate distance.


The brutal cleaver cracks at Kol’s knee from a high feint that counters, jostling the bruiser just enough to halt her charge.

“Guh!? So snea—!


Proving that the sword is superior, agility translates into pure destruction when Fehr shifts into a lifted cleave and drops it to split Kol’s head.


The dropping blade slides past her head and slams into Kol’s shoulder, rattling the clavicle.



Rather than follow up with another chop, Fehr freezes at Kol’s scream.



(… Ah…)


The roaring kobold’s fist slams into Fehr’s face, sending the girl’s sword flying and the servant herself nearly flipping over before crashing to the floor.

“GEH!? Cute!”

No Vigor is lost from a creature without it. Fehr’s face that briefly deformed returns to its original shape, though she doesn’t rise up from where she’s laid out.

“Why stop, not hit Kol again!?”

“… I don’t… like causing pain to Kol.”

Like dough, the lifeless Fehr’s is pulled up by her opponent.

“Then dodge, like before!?”


… you seemed… like you were getting frustrated, so I thought I should let you—”




Kol picks Fehr up and shakes her around, before setting the girl back down.


“SHOW SPIRIT! PRIDE! Never, ever let others hurt you, without trying to hurt back!”

“… I see…”

“‘See’!? No, DO! Cute, was so much cuter, why now are you…!? RAAAAH!?”




Without any soul to her, the perfect creation of the Maker—


(… Are we perfect…?)


—a doll named Fehr gets tossed around in a friendly manner by an irate kobold that desperately wants some response she’s not getting.




“I’m sorry, the truth was painful.”

“… There is no pain…”


Despite Sapphira’s kindness given, the boy that was goaded into sitting in her lap cannot find the impetus to properly engage with her. He can only watch his sister unit languish in the grasp of a kobold until Kachua and Restia rush in to scream at Kol.

Bickering ensues immediately, with the two groups fighting over the lifeless doll whose silvery hair is now in an ugly mess along with her dress.


“… Why did you choose me to harass instead of Fehr, given that she reacted more harshly to these potential fabrications you imposed on us?”

“Still going with ‘fabrications’ are you? Haaah…”


The matron cannot rest in her horrific attempts to manipulate Fehl.

Though she broke Fehr’s spirit, Fehl is unwilling to surrender to these…


“Life is what it is. Both of you have only the experiences of a single day and Falke’s abominable ‘knowledge’ to rely upon.”

“… Disrespectful…!”

“And, so? I’ve no reason right now to respect a man who mistreats his children.”

“Even though you rule yours with an iron wing?”


(If the Maker does not claim ownership of the manse, but Sapphira lives here with her flock, then…?)


“Hoh? You’re quite cheeky~! Unlike her, you have a pleasant humor to yourself. Hahaha!”

“… Why do you reward rudeness from me now, despite before…?”

“Why? Because you choose to do it after learning the truth~! That means that you’re doing it because it’s in your nature, which means that you’re growing.”


(I don’t comprehend…)


“Adults that don’t let children gnash and bicker, telling them instead to ‘grow up’, are insecure themselves. You’ve been a gentleman aside from your quips, so it’s forgivable. After all, even this quirk of yours reminds me of him…?

“Who is ‘him’? Why do you look at us with such… familiarity!?”


(What do you know about us that we don’t!?)




Something deep within, a fascination with knowledge, shares its hunger.

The more he shares in this inner demon’s wants, the more “complex” he grows in his own thoughts.


(So much is unknown, but from its wisdom, my own grows? From its stability, I can endure where Fehr does not…!?)


Though the voice itself has retreated, the corruption of its presence floods everywhere. Seeking a crack to seep in through.


(… But… this “presence” also grants me… real strength. It makes me firmer than her…?)


It lets him become more than his sister,

allowing him to assert where she would retreat from.


Every time he feeds this “gunk” nestled inside of his pseudoprósōpon workings and mechanisms, what he can register about the world around him increases in precision and nuance.

Far from being confused about why these girls fight over Fehr, he recognizes now that their fascination is built upon something called…


(“Appeal”. Fehr has something that draws them to her, which I lack.)




“Fehl, are you okay…? Are you trying to see more of me, maybe~?”

“Yes? Ah, I apologize for pulling at your sashes.”

Deep in thought, his hands wandered toward Sapphira’s thighs. A strange compulsion to play with this green cloth which hides her skin did…


“Don’t worry, Miss Sapphira, it’s impossible for me to show interest in a woman like you.”

He scoffs at such an inconsiderate thought, completely improper!


(There is no need to… HMM!?)




From all around, a coldness seeps into Fehl with the stifling of the atmosphere.

It erodes his consciousness, that sense of self, especially.




“… ‘A woman like me’, is it?


Utterly beneficent, Sapphira’s question leads into another that sends Fehl quivering.


“Oh~? Too… old for a strapping young boy like you, am I? Or, perhaps there’s something about what you’ve felt up that you find unappealing now~? My, my, myyyyyy~y, for a ‘male’ to betray his true opinion about a woman is most enlightening.”


Were it not for being wise to her dangers, Fehl would be running for the door to safety!


“What about me dissatisfies you so much, dearest?

Do tell, and don’t leave off a single thought~.


Her wings stretch around to cover him!

The menace she exudes only amplifies, becoming all he can register.


(Dissatisfies!? When did I indicate dissatisfaction!? In fact—!)

“You fundamentally misunderstand my comment! What about you could be found lacking? Even if I am only an artificial creation that mimics a male, and have not been ‘alive’ long enough to comprehend much, I can tell by comparison that your figure represents the supreme example of feminine appeal!”


It’s necessary to raise his voice to communicate authenticity, but instead he regrets it when she bucks.

“… Ho… ho!? S-Supreme…?”


(An impact?)


“Hmph, of course. Fundamental biology dictates that a motherly figure such as yours is what males seek, thereby indicating that your generous softness and roundness, in addition to your correct proportions which invite equal appreciation of every part of your body, stands as the perfect representation of a lewd, yet also elegant, manifestation of a male’s deepest desires!”


(Does she not realize her own appeal? Yet, she seemingly utilizes it as a weapon? Is it instinctive? How vague…?)


For Sapphira’s benefit, the overheated Fehl pats her thigh, causing the woman to jolt again with a “Fuuuh!?” sound.


“From Master Kaskin to the Chosen that we met in the hallways, there exists no proper male that would not be taken in by your allures. As such, I state that you are in error for not noticing your own beauty’s effects on others and possibly believing that I would be finding fault with your peerless body that invites—!

Oh, why are you clinging to me?”

Hush! Stop talking you chatty little boy!

“Why whisper? It’s not as if, hmm?”


Sapphira’s wings drop as the matron stops giving Fehl attention, looking away instead.




Rather than fighting each other, four females have eyes locked on the boy that was loudly praising the obvious qualities of their hostess.


All of them, even Kol’s, are narrowed in disapproval.

Though her face is hidden, Kachua in particular appears keenly off-balanced; at least, until she notices Fehl’s attention.

Once she does, she swings to turn her back on him and snorts in derision, using her wing to shoo away Fehr’s equally discontented mood by suggesting they go talk to Kaskin.


Only Kol looks contented to approach, an eagerness in her eyes directed at Sapphira?


“GAH!? CUTE!?”

When Kol lifts her hands up with aggressive intent, Fehr yanks at her to drag the yelling kobold away.




(What did I do?)


“… Miss Sapphira, what did I say wrong? I only disapproved because of your importance and the appearance of impropriety to display attraction to you.”

“Haaaaaah… believe me, boy, you said nothing… wrong~. You just said it too well, far too openly, without considering the situation or the effect of being too eager with your praise…”

The only female present that doesn’t appear furious with him sounds embarrassed instead.

“… But, you get points from me for showing no fear! You didn’t do anything strictly wrong, as the effect hit dead on, fufufufu!”

Indeed, his comments only earn fidgeting from the harpy matron with him sitting on top of her, guiding him to recline against her breasts again.

“Ah, you’re just terrible~! The worst, Fehl~! Trying to earn yourself a rendezvous later with little me…?”

“If I am the worst, then am I not at fault for something? No, what did I do right?”


(I don’t understand!)


“You’re just like him, it’s official! Stirring up ladies everywhere, yet never out of a desire for conquest? Just like him, you’ll have a hard life full of violent misunderstandings unless you change now, Fehl~.”

“Like who? You keep comparing me to someone! I am… not someone else!”


(I am Fehl, a servant, no more than that!)




The harpy whispers an unheard phrase so quickly that Fehl cannot grasp it.

In answer to it, the ground grows chiller with sparkling crystals rising from it.


In moments a sheet of ice, perfectly smooth and opaque, rises with a reflective sheen. Prominently displayed in it are a lush woman and the pet she’s grooming on her lap, surrounded by cracking slush.

The rush of chill from it carries a mystical charge, proving that the mirror is also a powerful application of far-seeing.


(She’s so capable…)




“Even the way he styled your hair is like it was back then. It’s been so long since I’ve seen this color, too~. Falke went gray a number of years ago, but it’s not like he lost anything. An older gentleman like him is… hmmm, fufufu…!”


This pet’s hair ends in a bird-like tuft with how it’s pulled back. Though a vibrant brunette color, it’s no less enticing than his counterpart’s in effect.

Fehl’s hand comes up to rub on his firm chin, never noticing just how angled it was before now.


“Back then, he wasn’t as thin about the cheeks. I’d said he needed to eat more, but he thought the Arvanti servants were a bad influence on me with the… quite delicious, cakes and cookies that I’d partake in, always sparingly, mind you, when they brought them over to apologize for their, ahem, bitch of a mistress always talking down on us—


Fehl watches the suddenly animated Sapphira discuss the past with herself in this mirror, understanding now exactly why he thought she was so beautiful when it seems natural for her to show affection toward him.


“—and so it fell on me to keep him from collapsing again and, ah…!

Anyway, Falke grew older without eating properly, despite me inviting him to so many meals with the rest of us, so it’s his own fault that he ended up looking like Vohlder rather than…!”




(… They’re blue…)




Stunning blue eyes are what he watches with.

Set behind a mask of pure onyx, blue eyes like those of his sister’s pierce into his own soul when he’s exposed to them.


While his sister’s are kind, but stern, his own are full of certainty despite his uncertain day.

They convey the aloofness he often feels appropriate to demonstrate before others.


“Ahh, yes, that’s the color that drew me in, too, probably…?

Sapphira, despite having blazing red eyes herself, seems to melt into Fehl when studying him in return in the mirror.

“Having to see him every day is sometimes difficult, because a lot of his antics and especially how he behaves gets terribly frustrating…

but, I still feel young when staring into…!




(… Of course my eyes would be blue…

… For, my Maker’s eyes are also blue…)


Despite that assertion in his mind,

deep within, he feels like his non-existent stomach wants to empty its contents.


Apprehension and disbelief, abhorrence and rejection!

Pure rage, flooding about and trying to consume him…




“You’re shaking again? Am I really that scary, Fehl~?”

“No. Sapphira isn’t scary at all. I am simply facing an error at the moment.”


With his figure taken in, Fehl now comprehends her attraction toward him.


“I am not my Maker, though I can understand why you would revere his qualities, given that he is a perfect existence. It’s improper to hold sexual desire toward me.”

“… You really are uncute like him, too. Too brusque. Could’ve done without those parts~.”

“Leave… leave me alone…!”


(Stop commenting on my design like you…!)


He would jump from her lap if it wasn’t considered rude and petulant. However, Sapphira remains their guardian and instructor, by his Maker’s orders.


“Why do you not spend time with Fehr? Stop chiding me, reproach her for her own excesses! Make fun of her for a change!”

“… That’s unwise.”

Rather than antagonize him further or grow angry, Sapphira’s tone instead turns sullen.

“The less I interact with her, the better. Being around her… is painful, and I don’t want that pain to corrupt her when she’s feeling delicate. Maybe later…”



(Why would Sapphira feel pain toward Fehr? Fehr has never displayed hate for you. If anything…)


His sister’s constant looks have held only disdain for Fehl; but, for Sapphira there is only a lingering sense of insecurity and annoyance now. Earlier, Fehr had been eager to be around the matron, perhaps too eager to earn her favor by her obedience.

The rapture his sister had felt while hugging the unfortunate child related to Sapphira had turned to confusion, but never to hatred.




(… Why did Fehr know about you before meeting you…?)




That important thought suddenly ends when the mirror before them gains a ghostly glow within its depths.

Fehl’s senses reach out, then flinch at the magical message arriving.


(Sending!? Someone within the manse is contacting us.)


The matron pushes Fehl from her lap to sit beside her, crossing her legs and assuming the posture of a lecherous tyrant.

“This had better be important, Tira, or I’m going to enjoy spanking you for interrupting my time off~!

Sapphira’s teasing carries a hint of dissatisfaction as the glow within the mirror gains the shape of a harpy.



… M… Mother!”


Rather than a proper introduction, the luminous shadow of a harpy screams out.

Immediately, Sapphira agitates and leans forward.


“What’s wrong, Tira?”

“An intruder, in the foyer! She’s tearing through us! We sent the signal for Falke, but none of the defenses are…!?

It’s only us!”

“What? Send a messenger directly to—!”

“We can’t use the walls or gates! Something has driven them dormant!? Only our own magic seems to be working, and it took my whole concentration to reach you…!”


(What is happening?)


The defenses of the manse are absolute.

Even these guests were only “allowed” to win.


The Maker’s interest carried them to the heart of his domain, but this cretin that intrudes now is savaging the—!?


“Who is it, Tira?”


Sapphira’s question is the most pertinent.

The only important one for when others are dispatched to “dispatch” the evil creature.




The next thing the shade does in the mirror is take flight, its shape dodging against an unknown foe.

Sashes fray, then vanish into smoke!

“… Green… eyes! Blond hair! And long claws…!”


Flesh rips from the writhing shadow, leaving an image of it falling as Tira’s scream from far away is carried by magic.




Flaming…! Can’t… move…!





Five tears in the shade snuff the glowing message.

From the tattering Tira, the tears carve out to reduce the mirror to sliced chunks of cracked ice that slide apart to shatter on the floor.


With this destruction, the Vigor of the harpy also seems to have dried up at the same time.


(… What… absurd power this invader…?)


“Why isn’t Falke acting?”

Rather than cry out in despair or anger, Sapphira calmly asks a very relevant, but unknowable, question.


(Why aren’t you coming to their aid, Maker? Are you…?)


Fehl immediately considers that his Maker is punishing Sapphira’s earlier comments.

After all, the Maker is all-knowing of what transpires within this manse.




“If it’s merely my girls for this threat, then there’s a need for me to step in.”

Sapphira rises from her throne-like couch, sauntering away from the servant that cannot divine his creator’s will.

“No matter how annoying they are all the time, I won’t let them be carved up like cows at a slaughterhouse. Stay with Kachua and Restia. I’ll be back, Fehl~.”


If the stunning instrument of quiet death known as Sapphira arrives at this battlefield, the assailant will surely be destroyed.


(She is… reliable. I envy her strength…)


Fehl and Fehr have little to worry about now. When Sapphira dispatches the intruder…




… with blond hair…

… and green eyes…


… and is female…




Fehl shakes violently,

Then… dizzily spins…







“Fehl? What’s wrong?”

“Sit, Sapphira! Do you not see!? Our Maker has no need to act…!”


Arrogantly pulling on the woman from behind with both arms, Fehl releases once she stops moving.

Then strides past her.




“FEHR! An intruder has arrived!”

Fehl walks up to a rack and runs his finger over the available weaponry, testing his internal capabilities with each by intuition.


“… An intruder?”

Noticing the seriousness, his sister runs to join him, promptly hearing the situation as Fehl tests the balance of the spear he pulls free of its holder.




“And so, we will intervene!”

“… So as to…?”


Fehl nods his head, earning a return nod.


Prove our worth.


The despondent sister who crumbled with Sapphira’s confusing revelation vanishes.

Like him, she steels her countenance and draws forth the curved sword she took up earlier.


Fehl twirls his spear with one hand, creating a whipping sound with its quickness.

“Masterwork servants of the Maker will—”


Whistling cuts through the air beside him when Fehr slashes with her blade. Its dulled edge is resharpened by her will, turned into a lethal point.

“—destroy all who threaten the manse where he resides!”




United by a lust for carnage, the twins march up to the shocked Sapphira.


“In addition to being care-taking units—”

“—we also function as fully capable battle units—”

“—capable of resolving any and all threats—”

“—to our home.”




Their announcement draws out the rest of the room to join them, hearing the story quickly while Sapphira realigns the gateway, a strange look about her at their insistence. She keeps glancing back with narrowed, sad eyes.


(Worry not.)




Hoisting her axe up, this strange guest looks ready to pitch in to the end.


(… I would not turn down aid, normally, but…)


“A guest should not fight our enemy.”

“My friend will not be used as fodder.”


Responding at the same time, Fehr and Fehl blink at each other for having a different reason, but are content to arrive at the same conclusion.


“What!? Kol, owned by owner of this place, so Kol can—!”

Remain precisely where you are and be protected from harm.

“… Nah? Seriously!? Cute, gonna act like Moon!?”


Fehr’s hand grinds on her sword with this comment, but the shaking girl quickly calms and pats Kol’s shoulder.


“Kol, you have nothing to prove. I and my brother do. This is our contest alone.

“Huh? Oh, Cute and Stud, trying to go up in rank?”


(That is a misunderstanding of our—!)


“Kakaka! Good, ‘ambition’, nice! Kol, approves, have fun~!”

The kobold hugs Fehr tightly, picking the girl up before dropping her.

“Cute, gonna win for sure, no big deal~! See later~!”

“… Of course. We’ll be back…”


Moving to join Sapphira, Fehr leaves Kol humming to herself. A less than innocent grin is on the guest’s face as she eyes the departing warrior from top to bottom, but that vanishes when Fehl offers her something.


“Huh? Stud, doing what…?”

“Earlier, this servant was entrusted with an item to be conveyed to the guest.”




In his hand, a black cross is pointed toward her to be taken.




“Your… ‘Boss’, was it? He spoke that you should be placed in charge of guarding this for him.”


… Boss… did…? Giving this… to me?”


(I’ve grown tired of carrying this trinket. It exudes a strange sense of unease! I’d almost forgotten that this—



When the kobold’s hand grabs the long end of the cross, Fehl discovers he is unwilling to release it into her eager attempt to pilfer it.




For a spark of black lightning flickers off from where she grips.




Like Sapphira earlier, there is a threat spilling out from this guest suddenly.

It makes Fehl’s skin crawl with its intensity. Suggests to him that his action is hazardous beyond apparent justification.

Such a manifestation burns with the same force as the guest’s release of phantasmal flames, but only invisibly rakes across Fehl’s consciousness.


“Hmm, if that one wishes to give it to me…?”


(Why are you staring at it so hungrily!?)


A sneer is on the youthful girl’s face. Beyond smug, it’s a flash of pure disdain directed simply at all who aren’t her.

Her pink eyes are both hard and amused while firming her grip on this icon. The villainous attitude she hones translates to a raising chin!


“Very well, then… I will accept it.

The tone is more smug than confident, assertive without even caring if the listener understands their place


(This is not the attitude you’ve displayed before now!)



Yet, when he doesn’t release it, her mood darkens considerably.

She tenses while shifting her feet, loathing him to her very core. An aggressive posture turns to unleash violence upon him!




A clenched fist carrying all of her preternatural strength and ability to demolish rears back, soaring Kol’s tension with a need for carnage!


(… Who…!?)






Kol slams her fist into her own chin with a bone-crunching impact, sending her head wrenching to the side.


“Guest!? Why!?”

“Kol!? Brother, what did you do to my…!?


Dizzied by the unrestrained blow, the kobold bends forward and then spits out a mouthful of black Vigor.

She rubs her reddening, swelling face, offering a stilted smile to Fehl while waving him away.

“… Gack, aaaahhh, nnnnah? Kol fine, so shut up, Stud. Go away, Cute…”


Both siblings were ready to restrain her, but hesitate when the girl starts cackling.


“KAKAKAKA! Ah, okay, well, that was embarrassing, so Kol ‘makes oath’, then!”

Wiping off her mouth, the kobold proudly affirms her true loyalty.




“‘Kol, promises to take good care of Boss’ ‘manliness’, then return it immediately when asked to!’ Oath!

Because, before being all else…!”


The presence of greed that was overtaking her vanishes completely, all arrogance other than her normal amount going with it.

Instead, she adopts the posture of a confident lackey.


“Kol is… Boss’ knight and woman!”






When she accepts the cross rather than steal it, she flips it once to handily catch it before clicking her tongue.


Kol, though it would be heavier now, since it hurts so much when it hits Kol~?





Released from the tension of the training hall, two twins made battle-ready march toward the foyer entrance.


Bearing only their weapons and no armor, none is needed by such servants.




“Eliminate the enemy—”

“—and earn the attention of our Maker—”

“—to be granted an audience with him—”

“—to discover the truths that answer all questions.”


Chatting quickly, they nod in unison at reaching the same goal.

Despite their differences elsewhere they are firmly committed to honoring the one that made them.


“We will show them how unstoppable my sister is in combat.”

“We will show them how cunning my brother is in combat.”




Out of a doorway and into a bisected hallway with columns throughout it they step.

Into the smell of plundered Vigor and alchemical devastation.


“… Fifteen lesser servants are here.”


Fehr’s assessment of the area that is almost black without light, only barely navigable using Fehl’s enhanced senses, does not match what he detects himself.


“There are no bodies.”


At least not visible, though that’s easy to explain given the swirling fog dominating their view.


“Nor sounds from far, only close.”

“Is this caused by the fog?”


(Yes, definitely.)


This fog that tastes of supernatural origin seems almost familiar in its usage in how it refuses to spread from the area that it has been conjured to.

Grinding his teeth at this feature, Fehl can’t explain his deep dissatisfaction with it.


(Anything that is an impediment is offensive, perhaps?)


Along the nearby walls and columns though are violent paints of purple, the color of Peak Zenith and the Modus of the harpies of manse.


Remnants of harpy water magic still rages about them, too, savaging the fog. Whirlpools circle several columns with a speed that would mulch flesh. Walls of water wash about, with serpents of moisture weaving out from behind corners still searching for their foe. Lines of boiling acid cover the floor, awaiting to melt fools that stumble into them.




Yet, to no avail.


The fallen may not be uncovered easily, but where they were claimed proves the creature’s sufficiency: gore and devastation resulting in burning rubble, claw gouges everywhere, and fields of unknown, active hexes and necromancy that drain the life from the manse itself.


The only sign of any damage to the intruder is the omnipresence of broken lengths of leather-backed blackened mail, armor that no resident or servant wears.




“It hides in the shadows while avoiding being ganged up on—”

“—and uses ambush and its superior abilities as one to win quickly.”


So low that only they can hear between them, they plan their assault and stifle their tells.


“Then let us—”

“—do the same.”


Into the gloom they leap, to trace it down.







(I can hear it, now.)


Being so large and afflicted by so many lingering spells, the foyer offers conflicting sensory inputs as they creep through the dark. It’s forced them to advance painfully slowly so as to adjust to noises that only reveal from the fog within ten-or-so feet ahead of them.


Finally, there is an unsweet voice offering a tempting escape encountered.


“Hey, hey, no need to cry…! All you have to do to make the big, bad lady go away is to tell me what I want to know.

“… No, no, I won’t—



Its venomous seduction preys on its victim in a way that is opposite of Sapphira’s.


Tsk, you keep hurting yourself, pretty bird~! All these little spots that keep growing into more… they’re your fault, you know?

“Hiiie!? Stop, please…!

“I’m trying to, believe me~! It hurts me to watch you hurting yourself…!




(Sadistically evil…)


Fehl’s first impression of this wretched existence that reeks of blood is unfavorable.


Toward a harpy affixed to a wall by her wings, glued up by some alchemical substance, a predatory slut lifts one hand to rub the page harpy’s chin while the other rests on her stomach.

Deprived of her coverings, this noble defender can only have every treasure about her exposed and open for assault, save only for her preserved anonymity.

“Lies turn back on the liar…”


Beneath the terrified harpy’s front-facing head cape, the woman’s hand slides a finger into her mouth.


The other showcases a long claw jutting from her index finger, carving a twelfth hash mark into skin and leaving fresh purple Vigor to bead along the wound.

“… leaving a score that adds up. Stop pretending you don’t know, birdie…”


A pink tongue of incredible length slinks out to lick across the servant’s exposed teats, prompting a sigh of pleasure that mixes with the crying earned from more pain.


tElL mE wHeRe He Is…!


The monster with a throaty growl leans in and nibbles on the woman’s nipple, earning a shriek that pumping fingers mute.

“… Or, you’ll join the rest writhing in unanswerable need for the next… I don’t know, eternity~? Just like her…”


Nearby the woman and hidden by a row of columns, only a clawed birdfoot twitching and curling, spasming uncontrollably, identifies who is currently being used as an example.

No sounds escape.


“If you help me out by giving me the gateway’s key, I promise to do something much nicer for you~!”

“Nnnn!? Ahhh!?


(That will not happen!)




From behind, Fehl and Fehr ready to pounce.

One to impale from above into this creature’s unbeating heart, and the other to carve out her exposed legs.


The moment they signal to act…!




“Hold that thought, little chicken.”


She swings showily to face them, putting on display her fetid allure while shifting her weight to her right hip.


“It seems the master wants to get his toys carved up instead of the help, finally~.”






This noxious invader, aside from being a hated undead mimicking an appealing human form, is also dressed up with clothing so strategically torn that it must be intentional.

One cape of pure vermillion with a golden rose embroidering it hangs from her right shoulder’s pauldron, while another hangs from her left hip without covering the front. While frayed at the ends, they proudly demonstrate her noble self image.


(Then why show everything else!?)


Remnants of chain hang from her shoulders and the bottom of her armored underbust corset, indicating that there should be protection that was once adorned with red cloth roses!

Yet, there’s no defense offered with only a torn black bodysuit clinging to her pale skin. Those tears fantastically reveal much while still constraining, but never hindering movement.

Erect tits pop out between strands left almost groping her assets, showing some but not all of her obnoxious bounty. Large breasts sway while struggling not to pop the rest of what supports them, but only a fool would think they’d last given her size.

While her stomach is hidden, a chain-dress’ remains cover her butt but not the front. Between her plump thighs clad in the same black, fraying bodysuit that clings tightly and beneath a paneled-toolbelt holding a multitude of objects and tools, a perfect, hairless slit moistened and blossoming with arousal peeks out.


Indeed, her thighs shine with this odorous liquid seeping from her. Like her outfit’s contrary dark and bright colors demonstrate, the spirit of a psychopathic torturer is housed within her mantrap of a living corpse.


(Armored greaves that stay almost immaculate, while everything else shatters to reveal? The attire of a horny Chosen!)


Fehl studies her semi-nakedness at his leisure, until this undead Chosen shifts her posture with a hissing laugh.

“Ho!? Can’t help but appreciate me, Falke~? Such a gutless voyeur, but that matches what I’ve heard about you!”


(Arrogant, but greedy beyond your abilities!)


While the strange armor denotes her as a Chosen, Fehl cares not while extending his spear.

Fehr shares his disgust, eagerly sliding toward the woman with her sword chambered above.


Why not come down here and witness me in person~?”


(No need to! No Chosen may prevail against a protege of Peak Zenith!)


This horrid woman cannot beat them!


“We are the servants of a Pillar—!”

“—and thus more than enough!”


Gaunt with her death, she may have pleasantly pale skin, but that just signals her rot.

Fine blond hair adorned with a vermillion cavalier’s hat, wrapped around by black thorns and having a single puffy red rose fitted on the open side, is a fetching cover for the monster lurking beneath.




She sheds that disguise of humanity when she sneers openly at them from beneath its shadow.

“I don’t care if they look like innocent children, I’m going to enjoy ripping your toys to shreds.”


That long tongue of hers flicks out before slurping back in, odorous with a concealed aphrodisiac paralyzer!






An ugly undead, stealer of life!

No fine thickness that matches Sapphira’s, only a cultivated illusion of softness hiding an animal.


(I would never be fooled by you!)


Despite the inner coldness reappearing while they close on her, Fehl is not frightened by the mace-headed rod she pulls from her belt that smells of transformation magic and destruction.

Depraved to the core, she no longer bothers being catty when her deathrattle growl issues forth with a dank breath.






Venting her problems on them, the wildness that overtakes her spreads. Instinctive necromancy bolsters her with unnatural vitality.


(She’s activating her Talents!)




Slitted eyes straining, claws all creeping out, she’s ready to let loose.


And… AND…!


Muscles strengthen and limbs grow longer, with vicious teeth offered by this ugly thing finally maniacally grinning.




eVeRyOnE gEtS iN tHe WaY oF mE pUnIsHiNg HiM…!

HAAAAH…! sO i’Ll PuNiSh YoU!






Green eyes shine from within with a terrifying hue.

Along with the power of death she covets, there’s a forceful fascination flooding out that seeks to prohibit Fehl from ever looking at anything other than this woman.




(I am not weak of mind!)


The rush of battle runs through Fehl’s heart, prompting both servants to shrug off the thickening glamor coating them from this sickening radiance.

An eternal Struggle begs to ring out, to invite fresh corpses into the madness of a foreigner’s killing field.




“Fehl, prepare to skewer—”

“Fehr, prepare to bisect—”


Both ready their own abilities!

Fehr’s form hardens from drawing on the manse’ reservoirs, while Fehl’s agility increases with the reddening sight of…


(Why the roar of a rasselbock…?)


A bestial impulse drives through him, declaring that he should violate this woman.

It demands only victory!






““—this enemy.””


At the moment he shares Fehr’s belief that the ghoul is an enemy…


Something deep within shifts.




(I have zero interest in claiming her! Even if I did want a woman, there is nothing uglier than…)


This woman pales in comparison to his own sister, because, Fehl would rather—




Big sis, I want you to mount my face and grind your delicious cunt into my mouth! I wanna drown screaming in your juices!




A voice that sounds like Fehl’s screams out from where he stands.



This horribly nasty desire, spoken so honestly, sends Fehr reeling away from her brother and aiming that lethal sword of hers at him instead.



Almost lost to madness, the intruder’s morphing body suddenly deflates. The gathering necromantic energies surrounding her whistle away.


“… B-B-B-Big… sis!?


Perhaps like she was only regarding a gnat before now, the woman’s precise eyesight now picks Fehl apart with new fervor.

Up and down she searches, with disbelief, then only surprise, then suspicion, and, finally…


“… Ho, do youwant to play… with ‘sis’?”


The once murderous invader turns seductive when she wets her lips as if discovering a delectable meal.






Arms wrap around Fehl’s waist, locking in.




Someone grunts, twirling the boy around and lifting him into the air through the motions of a consummate suplex.


Sending him plummeting into the stone floor so hard that the tiles crack.






[Fehl, interpreter of the Maker], dies suddenly from massive head trauma and a broken neck with only this question on his mind.







A boy wearing the same clothes as before hunches forward, heaving as if he hasn’t breathed for a century.

The spear he was holding fled from his hand to clatter noisily off of the wall. It ejected with so much force that his wiggling fingers are throbbing from the kickback.




“Huh!? Wait… wait, wait, you!?

Across from him with a harpy crucified to a wall behind her stands a far older spinster who ducks her head down as if struck, then shouts louder while puffing up her blushing face.







[Adris fehl Dain, False God] delivers “the signal” by crossing his pinky and ring finger on his left hand.




“NNGH? … You better have a good reason…!

“Same to you…”


Following his gaze, Lycia Vehrose, the most beautiful and stunning femme fatale he’s met, turns to look up at her latest “friend”. The ground beneath this poor servant petrified in fright is steaming with a yellow liquid.


“Ah? That? Well, that is… because…?”


Putting a finger to her lips and staring around the death grounds that the airy foyer has become, Lycia seems at a loss to explain the impossible carnage that is becoming easier to witness with the fog thinning.


“Um… Well, I… they wouldn’t let me in, so I tried to ‘negotiate’ a bit…? I did try, right, girl?”

When she reaches for the harpy she was tormenting, the girl’s shaking head suddenly hangs loose and still.

Hngh, she passed out…?


Though garbed like she’s a battle slut ready to mount the first man she lays out, the exuberantly confident Lycia crosses her legs to hide her soaked crotch.


“Ah… ahahaha~! What… a strange night, right, kids~?”


Waving her hand coquettishly, Lycia finally lets Adris witness a being of pure sexuality appear the least bit bashful about her choice of dress.

So attractive to him her behavior is, especially now that no mist obstructs his view of her shame.


“I just… wanted to see my little brother~? So, I dropped in—!

Ah… oops, that’s about to run out, too…


Fumbling at her tool panels, the woman clicks her tongue when she doesn’t make it in time.






Pulling her strange hat down to try and cover her face, Lycia has nowhere to escape to when the screams of pleasure start coming from every dark corner of the foyer.


At least twelve different voices announce mind-breaking sensations attacking them.

The fog that ate up sound no longer hides the result of a ghoul’s bisexual predation.


(What did you do…? No, as expected, this is Lycia.)




“Well… this… this isn’t strictly my fault, you know!?

They only… hurt themselves by staying quiet!”



Pouting after screaming this line that only a villainess would use, it’s no wonder that the fetchingly selfish ghoul’s black lines writ upon her pale skin would read the following to Adris’ cunning sight.










Name: Adris fehl Dain, “Boss”, “Starr” Fehl
Titles: Lycia’s Little Brother, Slayer, Gigolo (Self-Admitted) Servant of the Maker
Race: Xin’El, Emperor’s Child (Human), ??? Self-Aware Independent Automaton
Sex: Male
Age: ?? – Young


Occupation: Crossbearer; “Star of Ruin, Cast Down from the Sky Upon a Dying World”, Slayer of Petripolis, [True False God] Discipline: [Rule in Dark]



[Tool Savant] – “Adris is a tool-collecting-and-utilizing fanatic. Most men would consider him disgusting for loving tools more than his own partner. Has so many tools that it can be said to be his true power. What does he do when he has no tools left? He seeks to acquire more, obviously!”


[Rule in Dark – Wave of Darkness] – “Making victory possible? No, no, no. That thing isn’t that kind! There’s more than that!”


[Brainfry] – “You’re still with me, right buddy? Yeah, you’re still there.”


[Refuse to Kneel] – “Ah, even the Alchemaster can’t make me submit! This is the one that’s saved me all those times!?”


[Tongue of Air and Darkness] – “What’s the difference between this and the old one? Why ‘air’?”


[Conceptual Refusal] – “How the fuck does dominating people’s minds turn into a weird statement like this!?”


[Obscuring Sonjil] – “Man, this thing has gotten pretty strong on Zennia. At first only creating an area of fog, it can now cover a direction? Is something wrong…?”


[Marital Arts – Self-taught] – “Hoh, even if it’s dangerous to use, it feels good to prove to myself that the body is still as willing as the mind! Even if I can’t call it aura, something is inside me now!”


[Verisimilitude] – “Stop giving weird names to what I do! But if my imaginative truths are more believable now, I’m not gonna complain.”


[A WONDERFUL CURSE] – “If that old corpse wasn’t already dead, I’d definitely kill him!”


[Authentic Fiction] – “All tales eventually gain sufficient truth if retold often enough, right? Why shouldn’t my fiction be better than ‘reality’?”






[The Mountain King] – “[Honor the gods, inheritor, and ever seek victory for their sake.]


Disposition: Resilient / Adaptable / Sinner
Alignment: Chaotic

Eyes: Black
Hair: Black, with strands of White
Skin: Tanned



Rantil Value – “Even after all of that, Master is still an idiot!”


Attributes by Grade:

Strength – E

Vitality – E

Dexterity – D

Agility – C

Intelligence – D

Mentality – C

Luck – F

Charisma – D


“If you want more, stop being mean to Rantil!”



Cethran Value – “Much the same as before, but isn’t the way you look at others a bit more dashing, now? Forced to open yourself to the world, perhaps the gentleman may grow? That is likely impossible, isn’t it, Adris?”

“One step forward, two steps into iredeemable vice?”

“Can you understand the difference between ‘contact that is forced, but welcomed’ and ‘that which inflicts mental harm’? On Zennia, aren’t these two things muddied?”

“Aren’t you more docile when pretending to be a servant? Or perhaps more alike your previous master?”

“Weren’t you supposed to be answering ‘who is Adris’ instead of ‘who is Fehl’?”


“Are you still with us, boy?”



“A boy who is a bit out of place as far as features, he descended from the top of the Castillo to the bottom by pluck, luck, and outrageous lying. Reborn into the world of Zennia, what can be said other than ‘he’s still exactly the same, but different’?”

“To use a Talent upon others would normally make them an enemy, but if the Talent is designed to unlock their deepest desires, then…?”

“Choosing to take on a disciple, Adris has begun to walk an old path. How will this future differ from history?”

“As someone that originally was the ‘assistant’, it’s not a place that needs to be taught again.”

“In the end, he’s falling deeply into his own vision of his role.”





“Wait, where is Adris going?”



Name: “Kol” fehl Dain, “Pink”
Titles: Idiot, “Tyrant Knight”
Race: Kobold, ???
Sex: Female
Age: ???


Occupation: Delver, Frontliner, ???
Discipline: Tyrant Squire




[Invisible Edge] – “Axe goes through everything?”


[Full Contact] – “Wanna go!? Kol, let fists talk!”


[“Ride on Dread“] – “THE WORLD, BELONG KOL! KAKAKA!






[ ?DARKNESS? ] – “▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒……!!!”




[“Dreadful Armor”] – “This is where Kol will live and die. When Kol roars, armor roars, too!”


[Halberd of the Whirlwind] – “GET OVER HERE!”


Disposition: Straightforward / Confrontational / Respectful
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Pink
Hair: White
Skin: Tanned



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Strength – C-?!?

Vitality – C-?!?

Dexterity – E

Agility – F

Intelligence – F

Mentality – C

Charisma – C




Cethran Value – “Are you attracted to rampaging metal? Though in your case, you appreciate the voice, don’t you? Do you long to see more? If she reminds you of a certain someone, then…?”

“Was this what you were hoping for, Adris? A woman to rise to your standards, rather than you lowering your own?”


“Oh, what is the reason for her sudden mood?”



“Brash and forthright, a warrior wielding an axe with two hands forsakes protection to deliver only harm. Contrary to this impression, she also seems interested in a straight up fight. If her words are any indication, she offers little thought to her actions.”

“She achieves everything she ever wanted and more.”


“Accomplishing her task means everything after is free time for Kol.”



“Hey, wasn’t that weird?”



Name: Lycia Vehrose
Titles: Beast of Conquest
Race: Blood-Stained Ghoul
Sex: Female
Age: ?? (Old Lady)

Occupation: Wondrous Works Researcher; Tool Creator; Total Monster
Discipline: Battle Pressure – Mad Ghoul (Originally: Golden Luster – Eternal Soldier)



[Shooting Stars] – “A strange, wooden box with holes in the end produces a stream of missile-like light, which explodes with enormous force on the chosen target. I, of course, want it desperately. Hooray for aura tools.”


[Pocket Belmont] – “A spiked chain that flies with great force to strike out, before returning. It explodes with flame on impact, destroying whatever is around its point of release. Is this love? Am I in love?”


[Doom Rollers] – “Please make way for one of my favorite tools! Or, rather: don’t.”


[Heart Taking] – “Hey, won’t you give yourself to me~? Completely and absolutely.”




[DARK REVELATION] – “Only you wanted this, Little Bro.”



Disposition: Sultry / Intelligent / Vicious |-| Insane |-| Emotionless
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Green
Hair: Blond
Skin: Deathly White



Rantil Value –

Strength – C (B)

Vitality – C (B)

Dexterity – D

Agility – C (B)

Intelligence – C

Mentality – C

Luck – E

Charisma – D



Cethran Value – “Perhaps you have a fascination for that which seems human, but whose qualities deviate far from it when inspected? Even if she’s your ideal figure, Adris, won’t it be a problem if she decides to eat you up?”

“How could you hope to compare to her refined lewdity?”

“Congratulations, Adris: how does it feel to find someone as broken as you are?”

“Moving in with you? Won’t that severely disrupt your ability to appear all knowing?”


“Doesn’t it seem like she’s stalking you?”



“A woman whose first instinct is to not trust you, and to trust only in herself. A fairly good perspective and outlook on life, in a blue abyss filled with lunatics. The obvious question is: how sane can she be if she willingly lives there?”

“If you ask how she views herself, it might be more as a merchant than anything else.”

“In the end, she gives up and accepts the sort of relationship that someone else conned her into. Not every manipulation turns out to be a betrayal.”

“Pursuing what she considers a deal, Lycia joins the inn full of reckless misfits.”


“And at the moment of danger to ther little brother, the big sister appears…?”



“Too soon?”





Chapter 115         Table of Contents          Chapter 117