Take Up the Cross – Chapter 120: Twins’ Delight

A quiet hall full of the daily beauty of a shifting dream is a place far different from the belly of a kraken. From that place, two dutiful servants, now awakened to the momentousness of their existences and the task set before them, have led their pet rabbit toward its slaughter.

Ahead of their brisk pace, this pet squats while trembling. Its ears shaking, drooping so low that…


“Move, sacrifice.”



The swift crack of Fehr’s whip across her fat butt sends this “Hoime” invader plunging forward. When the quivering reject turns to stare in horror at the short mistress that struck her, Fehr puts tension on the pseudoprósōpon torture implement before releasing it.


“We can’t keep this honored acquaintance waiting.”

“P-Please… it smells… wrong, through here… here, here it is… like… death, like was smelled…!


Fehr’s whip melts down into the shape of a reverse-gripped cutlery knife.


“Will you stand and walk willingly toward the beast instead of crawling—?”

“—or shall we butcher you here, then drag the carcass the last twenty steps?”


Though only a lasting joke by now, a gray knife matched by Fehl’s own that is slowly brandished toward the demi-human woman leaves her almost swooning.


B-B-Butcher-rrrrr!?!? You… you can’t mean…” Hands go up to grip at her fluffy ears, for Hoime’s fear is eternal when staring at the Fehl beside her. “Pleasepleasepleaseplease, noooooo…!


“Were you given mastery of the talent of ‘butchering’, for I admit to knowing little when called upon to perform, sister?”

A moment of doubt flashes across Fehr’s face at his query, but she regains certainty when Fehl nods his head.

“Oh, an interesting question, for I thought you knew everything, brother…”




Two sets of stark blue eyes stare down at their prize.


(“The smile is the most important thing”, is it, Fehr?)


Mouths turn up into malevolent grins at the same time, a practiced show twins perfected while the prey slept.


Shall we discover all together what interesting techniques—?

“—were imprinted upon us for the purpose of culling diseased animals?




Onlyadream, onlyadream, onlyadream…!


Sobbing while muttering is the response when the nearly naked Hoime rises up and mechanically strides down the hallway.


(Why do some smiles produce this tantalizing reaction if they’re only a little exaggerated?)


A chain held by both siblings keeps her from making the mistake of believing she can flee from her Fate.

“No, bunny invader, your living nightmare.” Fehr’s hiss causes the woman to only sob harder, pawing at her eyes to stop the waterworks and swaying about like she’s drunk in her march. “Pray that it’s a long one, because who knows what the hungry guest might do?”


(Bullying her is what we’ve been doing the whole time, isn’t it?)




Fear broke her. Fear will keep her compliant. Making her useful, we master it, brother.


This, and many more points of behavior they hashed out, enable them to mimic a kobold’s unnerving presence.

Fehr’s fascination with the thuggish glutton brought pause from Fehl, yet the way she exalts this friend made in a single day leaves him also unable to question after Fehr set her rules.




(I will trust my sister, in the absence of reasons not to. Should we be… enjoying such excesses, though? It’s unseemly for us to get…)


While Fehl admits to an ever-increasing energy driving him forward by their abuses, the logical justifications conflicting with the emotional ones jumble up what’s left of his prided sense.

That this prisoner should be abused, forced to walk naked through the hallways at their insistence, is edging on a growing sensation of hunger that does not come from needing sustenance.


Uuuuuuhhh, don’t want, don’t like…! AH!?”

The way this Hoime seems ready to leap at him for protection, while also leaning away in shaking dread when he inspects her like he does now.

“Do you plan to disobey?”

“Sorry, sorrrry, obey, will obey, but… but…!? ‘Sacrifice’, ‘deathly smell of bitch’…? She knows me…!? No… nonononononono, this is for reaaaaal…!?



Watching his sister work, though, jangling the chain Fehr carries and giggling malevolently at the captured enemy’s dancing dread when yanked, reaffirms to Fehl that he can freely join in.


“Haha, trying to jump the plate? Isn’t it too late?”

“Yes, brother, a demonstration of the justice of the Kestners approaches! We have no use for flabby meat without value, especially if it doesn’t understand its grand importance…”


(“It’s fine if it’s someone else?” I see, the… rightness of an action is determined by who it is committed against, and by whom? I see, how wonderful!


… Wait.)


“‘Grand’ importance…? Fehr, a moment.”

W-What is it, brother…!?


With his head almost touching hers after they stop, the boy startles when a familiar scent blares at him from her hair.


(Scent…!? Fehr has a scent now…?)


“What do you mean, what?”

“… Maintain a distance of at least two feet away from my own face!”


(Should proximity matter?)


With how red her face turns, those cold eyes finding warmer memories when she looks away, he finds himself shifting away with a start too.


(No, it does for some reason, but I was just trying to be quiet…!)


“Ah, do you understand what our purpose for fetching this prize is? It sounds like you get the whole grand design?”

“Hmph, for you not to recognize it by now is concerning! Does that make me more attentive, as well!?” Rather than explain, Fehr simply taps her feet and lifts her chin.




(Who was it that just apologized earlier for—!?)




“Ah, a… apologies. That was an… overtly confrontational response, right?” Some facial change must give away his thoughts, for his sister swiftly raises a hand to wave in a conciliatory manner. “Brother is much more focused on decorum and manners, not on subtleties. Even I… have only begun to grasp these, so it’s unfair to judge knowledge inferred that might be missed.”


(Should I apologize for caring more for what I’m supposed to be doing than the hidden intent of simpletons!?)


“In brief, from Kol, the guest’s… ‘favorite’, I’ve… observed many truths about others play out. What they value, especially, and that ghoul appears to be similar in nature to this rabbit. Therefore, for Orloss to know this rabbit, and both he and the ghoul to be from the Castillo… the rabbit from the same place is likely meant as a ‘payment’ or ‘trade’ between parties.”

“Then? How does fetching this rabbit for him to give to her aid us?”

“Not for him! For us to give to her! He has a plan being hinted at, one that I’m beginning to see…!”

“Beginning to see? I thought you comprehended it all…?” When he tilts his head at that bragging misstep, she “tsks” at his tone. “Then, why am I only now learning of it? Should he not have left instructions in a legible format to share them?”

“Are you so precise in every measure, to require step-by-step instructions!?”

“Are you so eager to bite at me, that you need to chomp every other sentence!?”

Another look, one Fehl can’t seem to prevent, firms Fehr’s face and she again waves her hand in contrition at his comeback.

“I… apologize. It seems that I’ve acquired… bad habits. An error in communicating my… thoughts, doubts, shocks? Perhaps, even, feelings…?




(Feelings!? When did you… when did we gain those?)


That question is one he refuses to acknowledge, because those same feelings might have permanently afflicted him. Hollowing him out inside, replacing his confident surety with spoiled illusion.




“I’m beginning to think this is simply how you naturally behave, sister! If there is an error, then it’s with your core replicated personality traits, not some sudden change.”

Exasperation promotes more candor than Fehl was planning to share, for the touch that comes after leaves him dreading a vicious attack when he shies from it. Instead of striking him, Fehr rubs on his arm.

“Impossible? I now have ‘core personality traits’? Wouldn’t that be wonderful, for me to be able to claim a treasure like that, when I shouldn’t possess…?


(Why would having an error like that be wonderful!?)


“Ah, t-then what about you, Fehl!? Hmm, what series of cascading errors prompt you to stare at me so often? Especially…

A strange look of satisfaction and victory comes over his sister when his sight follows to her hands at her gentle curves at chest height and then her thighs that subtly show when her dress is pressed, leaving Fehr almost like she’s standing taller than Fehl when his mouth hangs open, despite her lesser height.

“What fascinates you about me now? Can you name the parts you only have the courage to look at, little brother?


(“Little”!? Who decided…!?)


This worldliness she exudes is infuriating.

Every part she glides over has a name Fehl knows perfectly well, but his tongue and lips only silently speak them while following along.


(I’m not little!)


It leaves him struggling to lodge a complaint even after preparing for it at the end of his voiceless listing, closing his mouth and turning away in defeat when her smile grows more impish.




(I don’t…!? Useless… touches of our tongues less than a short ago, and then… my thoughts will never realign past her individual component pieces!? What changed, to make it like this!?)




“Brother, forget ‘the plan’.” She cutely coos at Fehl, patting his shoulder in a wicked way. “Leave that to me. Set your mind instead to how other servants can be brought to aid us…?”

“How!? I was created to sustain an orderly system! In this case, I’d be promoting them to further disharmony and disloyalty, if I understand correctly our mission!?”


(This feels…! It does feel, I can feel it…!)




A sense of wrong is spreading through, unnerving and unbalancing.

It’s one thing to enjoy the feeling of dominance over this loathsome invader, but…


(I don’t like feeling conflicted! It… hurts…! HELP ME, MAKER!?)




“Why ask for help from the evil ghoul!?”

“Fehl, quit objecting for no reason! ‘No guiding principles need adherence but those that save our Maker’! Master Orloss already confirmed this, so apply it!” His counterpart’s anger resurfaces, for Fehr’s once unfeeling, yet kind, blue eyes are more like cold stars of rage when he wavers in front of the bunny. “Our options are unlimited in carrying out our task, so why not use them all!?”

“What is different now to strip you of our family’s pride by begging for aid from outsiders!?”

She is going to ruin him…!



That chain she holds clatters to the floor so that his sister can yank him up by the cuff with both hands. Childlike joy in punishing becomes rage strong enough to leave his feet twitching freely!?


“Do you not understand, even now!? We are the last hope of this entire manse.


(Even though she’s still smiling, it’s not because she’s happy?)



“Every other principle than His safety is minor.

Every other servant but we, His saviors, are minor.

Every other property other than His body and control are minor.

Every impediment on our way to destroying the invaders… is minor.


Absolutely! Amazingly clear! So clear that the crystal will fade into nothing if I stare too hard!”


“I’m with you, sister! We’re always one!


His screaming oath earns him solid ground again.


“… Good… then… if it’s not… a misunderstanding, then… perhaps it’s…”




Violating her own rule, Fehr’s tongue again tastes like fruit wine of an unknown vinter when merging with his. An improper kiss openly displayed before the wretched creature watching from the floor feels even more naughty than a private one.


(… Ungh… it’s… yeah… that’s… “feeling”…!)


The residual jolt of electricity flowing across their saliva sends Fehl standing taller, dragging his captive up from the floor to hang and scratch at her collar.




“… does brother simply need more motivation? More… rewards?”

“No, I’m fine, sister. I understand the stakes! And, I know exactly what to do…!”




(I know who will suffer your dissatisfaction instead of me!)




“After cooking for so long, I think it’s time to see if the stew is ready.”

iamfurniture, yourfurniture, pleaseuseme… useme, useme, useme… pleaaaaaaaaaase use me…

Excluded briefly, the woman curls up again when he releases and addresses her. Pretending to not exist, she’s passive otherwise.


(For some reason, this woman fears me more than this ghoul! … I can smell it?)







Down the hallway and arriving at an innocuous door, Fehl drags their prize to establish their positions.


“Entrusted to me by saddened Orloss…”


“… I now see that food isn’t the best use for you. Will you obey, and become something far more useful than one meal?”

“YES!? OBEY… Obey, obey, obey, not food… but… buuuuut…”


The woman rolls in circles on the chain, half like she’s trying to escape in horror, half like she’s trying to strangle herself.


Howwwwwwwwwwwww!? Don’t, understand…!?


(Must I spell this out for you!?)


“You are a mystic, yes!?”


Shut up!


Hyperventilating at his sudden fury, this Hoime almost passes out again but manages to hang on.


(This creature is broken! What should I be doing to resurrect her feeble spirit? What should I need to know about to reach her, Maker…?)




[This rapist sow is someone that wields insane, reality-defying powers with extreme gusto.]


Such an assertion of knowledge surprises Fehl when it comes to mind while studying the slightly overweight slave that is more soft and cuddly than dangerous in appearance, if one discounts her strangely glinting eyes.


[She is far from weak and very resourceful. Be wary of her instability, but use it to appeal to what’s left of her mind. Disguise her execution as an escape, and she will bolt toward it.]


Since it comes from the same spot that the “voice” used to in his mind, the boy decides to trust its plan.




“We don’t serve cannibals in this manse, so here’s a question, yes or no only: are you a mystic?




A mewling reply takes a bit to hear back, but the teary-eyed mystic then nods to confirm when Fehl stares harder.


“I have never met an animal that could weave structured magic. Have you, Fehr?”

“Never, brother, so it must actually be a person! People… can be useful.”

“Oh, perhaps!? Then, what is this person’s name?”


When the twins stop teasing her and Fehl’s question is thrown at Hoime, the confused prisoner’s intellect also forms back, bit by bit.


“… I’m… was… um… am… Hoime… Helestrad…?”

“What is a Hoime Helestrad?”

“A Vice-Seeker…? Maybe…? Am… is… was…? Serve… the Mistress, too…”

“‘Vice-Seeker’? How useful is this, and what is it?”

“… [Wondrous… Works]…? Important person…?”

“Is this a position, perhaps? Get on with it!



(Witless creature!)


Raising his voice has the opposite effect of reviving Hoime, so he instead reaches down to slip a garter she wears back into place.

Then pats her shoulder, a more refined mood found after.


“I serve the Maker. You serve this… Mistress? As similar people, do we share the same mission?”

“… ‘root out… irrational exuberance… enforce primary objectives of… Mother… breed… perfect life form’, that was it… my mission, my nice job…”

“Are you powerful? Powerful enough to deserve the title?”


… I… am… been… I… should’ve been, powerful… but, but now, now I’m… a tool of release for… the supreme breeding stud…?

Melting like wax, the bunny woman’s face gains a sickening smile of self-deprecation like she’s just now realized how much she’s lost. No matter how disgusted she is in herself though, she rubs her plump thighs together while staring at Fehl’s body.

Aahn!?” Almost as if she’s enjoying the condescension in his gaze toward this act!? “AHaHaHa…!? I’m so lucky… chosen to be Hissssss eminence’s… breeding mate!? If Mother wants… the perfect being to be born, then I’ll help Master birth it if You want, yeeessss!?”




(CREEPY!? But… I have no choice! She has to be mine, if my sister is to make headway with counter-offers!)




“I respectfully decline. Instead, I offer my own greetings, Hoime Helestrad. My name is Fehl. Position: Interpreter of the Great Maker. I was created to guide this ‘family’ called the ‘Kestners’ with the imprinted understanding that the daily orderliness of my home should manifest as ‘impeccably correct’ at all times…”




(I have no idea what I’m doing, but I will think of something, since I’m so very intelligent. So, let’s make it up as I go!)


For Fehr’s sake, he can accomplish anything.

For their Maker’s rescue, he can entrust himself to Fehr’s plan and ignore the hundreds of doubts plaguing him.




“Because my world has gone wrong I will simply adjust my expectations, like you find yourself now forced to! Everyone acts ‘completely incorrect’, all order has been reduced to evil chaos, and, despite this, I will fix everything!

“… Huh…? EEEK!?”

Stupefied at such a dignified explanation, this Hoime receives a swift slap across the cheek.

“Wake up, servant! Not ‘huh’, but instead ‘how may I serve’! Are you listening?”


“Starting with this ‘would-be ally’ in the next room, you will assist me in purging this manse by relearning your worth as a… demi-human life form of unknown parentage who shows great… potential for our plans?”

“… Come again, if you will, please, begging you…?


(Stop staring in disbelief and listen, you cretin!)



Fehl grips her face, pulling on her flabby cheeks.




“Hoime Helestrad, let us make this simple: you have worth in my eyes. Should you rise to that worth, salvation is forthcoming!”




Something of a light returns to this Hoime’s eyes, blinking rapidly as her sagging face recovers some firmness.


“Your crimes are inexcusable, but nonetheless forgivable, if, and only if, you devote yourself to this offered salvation through our Maker’s own.”

“… what…? … that… that is, is that, something…?”


A singsong tone rejuvenates with this tramp from the outside, now roughly kneeling with her bare crotch finally hidden from view and bowing to the boy in a respectful way seldom received even from the page harpies.


“Something I can do, for… real…? Be… me… again, having sinned? Against the mighty… You…?”


(Oh? I like this feeling of being “on top”.)


“Is it… okay for me to be… ‘Hoime’ again, for sure… [White Death]? Or is this… all just… a game… game… a game…



Clutching herself in terror, the screaming Hoime almost collapses again before Fehl can rescue her with a head rub.

“The Kestners are fair and just! All can be forgiven with sacrifice!”



(For a female, isn’t she quite inviting when she shuts up?)


Try as he might, he can’t not enjoy the feel of her creamy-colored hair and fluffy ears despite her jerking nudges. How meek she remains and how terribly pale she becomes doesn’t smother the exuding respect for a godlike being that Fehl drinks in.

“So, confirm my belief and polish your worth to become a useful servant again.”

“O-Okay…? Yes!? I can… definitely answer your needs!


(If… If I cared about such things, anyway! Hmm? Though, her stare is…)


Suddenly sharp, the glinting from these windows to her soul turns sinister.




Only for a moment, though, before the woman rolls over and shows off her belly to him.


AHaHaHaHa!” The piercing and unhinged giggling fit she lurches into almost breaks Fehl’s dominance to send him fleeing, instead. “Please, let useful Hoime help, help as much as I can, can I really ever fail my revered White Death!? SO, sooo, pet me please, please!?

Unwilling to move until he pats her stomach and rubs over the revealing lingerie she wears, Hoime moans but also calms considerably when he indulges himself in her mysterious softness.


(Who the hell is this “White Death”? No, it’s fine, she’s insane, so…)


“Earn my sister’s forgiveness before looking to me…”

“Very good, brother! This is the… charm of a man that I believe in!”


Fehr leans in close, whispering into Fehl’s ear so that the giggling rabbit can’t hear.


“One who leads others with clever thoughts, like he does, always gets big rewards…”


(Big rewards!?)


More than this woman’s naked body, one which causes Fehl’s eyes to linger on her erect nipples so long that the roughly-breathing Hoime returns the same level of devoted attention, albeit with a greenness coming to her cheeks instead of red, Fehr’s praise and touches are proof of more forthcoming rewards.

Why, his sister even manages to smile when he turns his head to squint, inspecting her own body in comparison. The way her unfocused eyes lifelessly twitch and how she tilts her head seems strange, though. Lines are even forming from strain?




[The appeals are many and varied, but never so openly compared. That is the path to the hell ruled by lizards.]

(There are many appeals, but I must not admit to noticing them? I see, perhaps, a deflection then…?)




“Sister is quite stunning.”

“AH!? How… so?”

“… Like… yes, the kobold that we babysat. Beautiful in spirit, just like her!”


Such a comparison drives away his sister’s tension completely.

“Wonderful! Kol never buckled, never fell… no, she did, from very far up, but… even when she fell, she rose back up!” When Fehr whips through the air with that wobbling weapon she’s beginning to favor, she finally seems full of inspiration. “Without fear of failure or excess, like her, let’s tear through all that oppose us, even if it ends up being that fat, fake Phira who we end up breaking.”


(Such a full smile, and you’ve even regained your good humor to make a joke about something like hurting Sapphira!)




“Of course, sister! Now, let’s—”

“—establish this one’s place in the new order.”


Both twins grin at each other, before Fehr’s turns even more… intense, leering at the former meat.



Fehr’s whip slashes across Hoime’s butt, sending the rabbit splaying out with a twitch.

“Let’s talk, new underling!”

“You’ll see to it that she gives up everything relevant, I take it?”

“The property that wants to be called ‘Hoime’ will share all of her uses, the ghoul’s, and anything else I want to know, while my brother…?” Fehr narrows her vision toward the door, before trembling. “Um, well, Fehl should prepare the recipient for our deal, since he’s very… smooth with the opposing gender!”


(Oh? I’m “smooth”!? Is that epithet good, I wonder…?)


“Only you read others so well. Learn what makes the still-blood’s heart beat…”

“Gladly, my sister! With senses like mine, she’s like a book already read.”




Fehl’s hand goes to the scrolled-door’s handle, turning it to a “click” before he freezes.


(I’m doing what, now…? Alone?)




“What say you, bunny? Can I enjoy sharing my own world view with you, like he did, while you help me understand why the actual sight of it has become so distorted?

“… Ugh… she’s, that bitch is… called… Lycia… Vehrose…! Please don’t hit meeee anymore, I’ll… tell you everything about her, eeeeeeeverythiiiiiiing, aHaHaHa! Huhuhu…!

Behind him, sounds of taunts in his sister’s aggressive tone earn obedient whispers of conspiratorial truths. It’s impossible to intrude upon once started.




(Why am I going in first!?)


Ahead, though, the door’s seal breaks and lets the sweet smells of a death-bound slattern seep out.

Filled with subdued havoc, and detectably moody, the room is a deathtrap in a manse that should be safe for Fehl.


(Am I not the weaker of us in physical combat without a weapon better than a knife!? Why are you being a coward, Fehr!?)


She’s always so confident, but trembles when set against others who seem stronger! With Kol, this ghoul, and even Orloss, when it counts she crumbles, but still paradoxically often considers Fehl beneath her!?




(You just pawned off something uncomfortable, you devious girl!?)




But, since Fehl has already guaranteed his success, he can hardly turn back and lose face. He can choose only to open the door and ready himself to lose his face if the ghoul goes berserk should he say an unkind truth about her rotten nature.


(… It’s… it’s fine. Fehr will reward me, she’s a good girl, now! Everything will be fine, anyway! I stood before the ghoul once, and I am strong!)





But not strong enough to remain calm when stepping into the stomach of a hungry creature. The hallway before that smelled stale is now recognized as the gullet. A rabbit mystic’s own paralyzing dread is far from comical when the ceiling’s solidness appears wet.

Dripping poison will fall, to contaminate a dutiful servant and draw him to kneel at the bedside of the creature who sits not like a lady should.


Crossing her legs under a mail skirt that covers only front and back, an intruding invader named “Lycia” seems to find alleviation for her boredom in picking at the artful rose designs sewn over the supple protection she wears.


(I ordered clothing to be left for her. How has hers been recovered?)


Shreds of it were left upon their last meeting, but now even her torn bodysuit has mended. The cavalier’s hat that completes her ensemble joins the female servant’s clothes that Lycia was issued to replace what was lost, left to hang from the outstretched hand of human-like wall art.

As this is one of the Maker’s stranger designed rooms, no furniture save the bed exists. Only flowing expressions of beautiful anatomy allow for storage here, positioned as places for others to set things.

Aside from these strewn clothes, packs hang too. Some of the mismatched contents rest on the bed beside her, but nothing allows Fehl to grasp her sudden mending of her armor.


(With what was missing last time, she’d need a skilled repairer…)


Over breasts, arms, waist, and legs hangs loose shining mail, connected to shoulders and greaves by a leather harness meeting at her waist. Two looped belts opposite her cape keep the protection tightly locked to her. These defenses are all too eager to ride up and show the black bodysuit beneath, leaving Fehl curious as to how the fabricator made the armor so provocative yet temporarily sturdy.




“I charge by the peek.”

“… Excuse me!?”


Little friendliness goes into her quip, instead bringing darker condescension.

Polite with Fehr, this Castillo scholar’s true toxic personality allows Fehl to comprehend his Maker’s reluctance to enter the mansion on the hill. In fact, her eyes are so dull when regarding him. Wasting nothing to judging his existence, the woman’s lifted hand instead gently pulls on her chest armor to correct its fit.


“I was merely curious as to how you repaired your armor so swiftly from so little.”

“Oh? So polite.” The ghoul lifts a nail to her teeth and bites off the chipped end. Giving little care for appearance, she pulls a file from her tools laid out on the bed to resharpen what slowly grows out from her cuticle. “As if I have to explain Crackbrand? ‘You want the world to see the ugly you underneath and I want to hear how it breaks, so why not make the armor durably fragile?’ I’m not an exhibitionist, but…”


(If you have to say “but”, then it means you are one!)


As long as it works, even if it’s not my color…? A-NY-WAY!” Pulling again at a gloriously large rose positioned over where the mail curves and then hangs directly down like a curtain, Lycia sighs and abandons her distractions to lean back.

She taps her leg at Fehl, shifting with obvious displeasure moments after.


(Am I missing some cue?)


“Care to explain why I was having such a nice morning, only for it to slowly turn into you, more you, and being trapped in this miserable place?”


(… Miserable!? No, my morning has been the miserable thing!)


“I started early, you know, working on Drache’s pet project… the one you dumped me into.” She offers no chance to interject regarding her insult, throwing a roll of thick parchment at Fehl’s feet. Though offended by the act, he dutifully picks it up and peeks at the contents.


(What is this?)


Looking as if an archway without a door, there’s strange machinery unlike the Maker’s own obvious fabrication involved in its unknowable purpose. Notations without help for interpretation flood all available space between drawings.

“Yes, you can believe that I resolved the transference theorem, finally. ‘You’re so smart, big sis, I knew I could count on you!’ That would be a fine deflection, wouldn’t it?


(Deflection from what!?)


A conversation begins in a direction without Fehl’s cues being clear, for this Lycia that keeps changing how she leans now dramatically flashes her teeth at him. A row of pointed shears for stripping flesh. All for Fehl’s enjoyment when she smiles in that unfriendly way again that awaits his reply.


“I’m laying on my bed, thinking to myself… ‘WOW’!”

Hands pop out into the air before he can respond, a kid-like exultation when she kicks out.

“‘I told Drache it’d take a week to understand the missing parts even a little, but it really came to me in just SIX TURNS all because I stared at my doodles with an open mind’!? ‘Aren’t I amazing, to fill in every missing piece all at once’!?”

“O-Oh… well…?”

“‘The sort of genius that you only see once in an era’!? … Would you agree with me that that explanation would be nice, eh?


(Hmm? Is she quite talented? All I know is that the Wondrous Works’ Hoime also knows her.)


Examining the schematics with more seriousness, Fehl puts energy into piecing together the theorems using the information he’s been given, but gives up when they exit his own expertise immediately.

All that he can truly comprehend is the “dimensional intrusion” interface of the mechanism that is an antithetical design to the device used within this manse for strengthening the boundaries of imaginary realities. The other standout bits are the mass equations related to shaping figures from a semi-solid material, a similar concept to utilizing pseudoprósōpon.


(Why is there a depositing mechanism at the top of the archway?)


“… Ah, I can see that you are… quite competent in your field.”

The woman’s eyes narrow at his compliment, prompting a deep pause within when she simmers with more energy rather than relaxing at praise.


(She is being quite casual with me? Perhaps I should take up a personal track to win her over if she dislikes being aloof…?)


Gifting a smile, Fehl nods congenial toward her while handing the schematics back.

“Your expertise is hardly wasted on something so… important, Lycia. It should be expected that a scholar such as yourself solved something so easily. Are you not deserving of praise from… Drache?”


(Whoever that is.)


“Uh huh. So coincidental. Just like the rest of my morning.”

“How so?”

“… Hmph!”


Sitting back up, the guest of a guest turns positively all smiles. Fehl feels himself giving ground unconsciously with a foot sliding back.


(Did I offend her!?)


“‘I wonder what’s going on with Adris’? Why of all times would I wonder that while arms deep in concrete mix, testing its viscosity?”

“… I don’t know?”

“Really? So, you also don’t know why that question became ‘what happened to Adris?’ Or… ‘why is my chest feeling so tight about Adris’? Do you know… why I couldn’t stop an unbeating heart from aching while thinking about you?”

“No, I… cannot say—!?”


(Me!? In the first place, who is ‘Adris’!? Weren’t you whining about him!? Ah, is that Adris perhaps—!?)


The ghoul’s body whips up from the bed, stalking toward Fehl like a predator.


“‘Where is my Adris’!? When I couldn’t help it anymore, I just went and asked Meltisha straight out! A terrible faux pas, but I couldn’t…”


(What is a Meltisha!?)


“And… and this Meltisha said?”

Lycia’s finger comes under Fehl’s chin, lifting it up.

“‘I was waiting for one of his minders to show up. He went off to get captured by that dollmaster who lives up on the hill. I’d suggest hurrying, since it’s that boy and my sorcerous associate, and trouble either follows or precedes them working together.’ Oh, what an amusing thing for my little brother to do on the day he was supposed to pay me for his rush jobs.

“… Far from amusing! Criminal!”

“For once, we agree…!

Looming overhead, the fully dressed and roughly breathing future helper for Fehr’s plan looks more ready to eat Fehl than hear him out.

“… made me drag all of my products up the slope…!

“A terrible inconvenience to force on you! I apologize for that!”


(Even though it’s not my fault! If that idiot hadn’t intruded on my manse, I wouldn’t be here dealing with you!)


Apologies are nice. But, I’d rather understand all of the coincidences that led to me blindly walking toward this pudding house, ignoring that cute little voice of mine in my head that keeps me from doing stupid crap.

“I don’t know!?”

“REALLY? Unable to alter my path, my eyelids just falling as something like… sleep, but worse, came over me as I approached…! The more I tried to resist coming here, the more I found myself arguing that I should, if only to make sure that he was safe… until all I felt was…”


Putting her face next to his, this cheshire grinning woman gripping his shoulders pushes hard downward.




Darkness, then nothing, and I awoke within this place. Not knowing how I entered.”




(That’s certainly creepy, I agree!)


Crushing him with physical and emotional pressure, Lycia grows more furious!


“Why are you going to lie to big sis after… spending an entire storybook night promising you wouldn’t, anymore!? Don’t say you aren’t the reason I’m smarter and acting like a needy loon!”


(WHO IS LYING!? Is this about why you are here!? “Influencing!?” I assure you, that we did not call for you!)


But Fehr considers this woman essential, now. Needing the abhorrent ghoul to come to his side, their Maker’s saviors can hardly present as not desiring her presence.


“There is no lie! That you are here is desired by us, but… there’s… there is… simply a misunderstanding about the process!”

“After everything we chatted about… real histories and sharing our feelings!? You think… holding back… from meis just… a…


Teeth part, dripping saliva.




This Lycia has the appearance of someone familiar to Fehl, perhaps glimpsed on a portrait in the halls, but he cannot claim to have ever met her before this day!




(Fehr, why are all women, even the dead ones, so intense with me? Did I do something incorrect? Was I perhaps actually made wrong?)




A servant has many reasons to withhold information, though.

Such as right now to preserve his physical integrity, Fehl would withhold any bad news from this “guest” if it meant escaping to order the soldier servants to slay her.


(… So… there are… many reasons…!)


“… Omissions… aren’t… lies! Not always! There’s many… valid reasons to not say everything to some—!






The world spins when the ghoul does, flinging Fehl around and around until she plops onto the bed.

Facing a wall and trying to pull free, Fehl’s efforts end when one of the ghoul’s legs ends up over his back to clamp him in place.


“Hold—!? HOLD, THERE IS—!?


(This is a misunderstand—!)






One hit is all it takes to turn Fehl’s mind white.




Immense force on his butt shakes his entirety.






The slapping sound that fills the room soon becomes a second.


(… Ugh!?)






When the second hits and with no attempt by Fehl to resist starts, the third hits with even more force.






After three slaps sound out, nothing happens after.


(… What… why…)


Only the sound of grinding teeth fills Fehl’s ears, his pseudo senses catching his body tensing.


(… How…)




The ghoul’s last mistake after this series of three enormous errors is lifting her leg.




(… How dare…)


Grabbing onto the bed, Fehl twists loose of her arm like a snake. He slides to the floor and rolls forward, rising to his knee and sliding free the gift his sister issued to him.


(… How dare you.)


Its false steel aims toward the vile creature’s neck, prompting that picturesque face of hers to arch a fine eyebrow at the display. Held in a reverse-grip, the knife is pulled in while his free arm extends.

For sacrifice or grip, Fehl can exchange one arm for a plunge into one of the creature’s weakpoints. Where mail overlaps it will slip by, even if the result proves to be Fehl’s destruction and not hers.


(… This… indignity… to attack me like this, I’ll absolutely gild you for it…)




The very woman he prepares to kill simply recrosses her legs, pulling her arms wide and exposing herself as defenseless. Her body grows deathly still.

Only, her eyes are shaking while taking in Fehl’s preparations for murder.


“I get it now. This is your real idea of… [family], is it?” Lycia Vehrose, as she’s called, was so familiar before. But after this charged abuse, she grins sadly at him with open emotion, yet immense distance. “… I guess I expected too much from a grown-ass kid who called me… ‘big sis’, like he…




(I don’t know why you look so pained, but I enjoy this turnabout immensely!)





“… You… you really want to… ruin…!


Fehl’s scream almost sends him leaping for her, but he manages to recall his real reason for being here.

He lowers his knife, knowing who is depending on him…!


“Why would I ever call you sister!? I only have one of those, and she’s outside, monster!

“… What?”


Almost convulsing with his insult, Lycia then blinks rapidly. Between the door and Fehl she keeps looking.


“Wait… you’re holding a knife.”

And why wouldn’t I have a weapon to defend myself against you with!?

“Where is the black cross?”


(What black cross…!? Oh, the thing I delivered to…!)


“That’s with the bragging kobold my sister is infatuated with, per instructions!”

“You don’t have it…?”

Disbelief registering on her face soon becomes wonder, tilting at Fehl to take him in.




“Who… do you think you are?”

“What an impertinent question!”


(Is it now my fault for not being allowed to introduce myself!?)




“Shouldn’t you ask that before beating me!? I am Fehl, Interpreter of the Maker!”

“No, no, no, what’s going on?”

“I entered to attempt to engage with you at my sister unit’s behest, not to antagonize! I wanted to win you over, not insult you!”


(Have I failed!? Is this my fault!? I don’t know what’s going on!)


“Sister unit?”

From the bed, the ghoul pulls up a conical gadget. When it begins to beep and whir, she goes wide-eyed and steadies herself.

“No… no way…? You have a pseudoprósōpon-controlling core…!?”

When the ghoul no longer attempts to harm Fehl, he clicks his tongue and pulls at his pants to set them right.

“Is that not obvious!? There is some misdeed that you have suffered, I understand! I know not who is at fault for it, but I promise that we—!”

“Promise what? To whom!? Hey, you said you’re an Interpreter unit!?”

“Of course! I am an automaton! Can you not tell by your readings!?”


(“So intelligent”? More like “so farcically ignorant”! If you detect my core, then—!?)


“Then… then you’re an independent unit, too? But… if Falke made that girl, then who made you?”

“What? So pedantic, to require an obvious response…”


Fehl crosses his arms, sneering at the woman who now firmly earns his disrespect.




(There’s only one being godlike enough to make me.)


Fehl confidently steps forward, ready to laugh cockily at her once he speaks that one’s name!


(I am made by the most esteemed of creators! For, my Maker is the true god of this manse!)




“I AM FEHL! And I was made by the most wonderful—!”


(The one I must protect!)







From deep within, —

the answer seeps out, then surges forth, said with another’s knowledge. —




[Adris and Fehr!]







A yell that sounds like a kid’s whining speaks the wrong name.

Instead of Falke’s, it’s the created of his and a random other that are named.


(… Wait… what?)




“That… that’s not… the truth, though…?”

“Hey, you said it, not me.”

When Fehl searches for help from Lycia, she quickly retorts while avoiding proximity.




The names “Adris” and “Fehr” return from every corner of the room, echoing and growing in loudness.


(Why did I say those two names?)


Once spoken, the quaking room will not stop shaking until the utterance’s consequences play out.


“I SAID NOTHING! That was not—!”

“No… I don’t think you can take it back.”


Claws raise toward him. The ghoul doesn’t ready to leap, though. Instead, she pulls her legs off the floor and onto the bed, turning her aggression toward the shaking walls.








Shadows spill out from under the bed and what is cast by the deformed figures around the room.

Unable to move, Fehl feels their pinching teeth sink into him. What shouldn’t exist asserts with fearsome presence.


“UGH!? I hate this feeling…!”


(What is this!?)


It spins the boy around, laughing and crying for him while also taunting the shivering ghoul.

Chasing his passed-up attempts to flee.

Ripping at him like he’s a set of clothes!








“Sorry, but, revealing yourself so nakedly is a problem for things like us!”

“I AM NOT…!?”


His knife comes free when his paralysis fades slightly!






He struggles to plunge the blade through her brain or heart, to kill the only witness to his utterance!

Instinctively knowing that it’s his only salvation.


“Nope, not joining in!”


His knife plunges for her face, but the ghoul grabs its blade with her hand and pulls him wide. The blackness that is Fehl’s arm peels away to reveal another underneath when she does.


“SHIT! He’s under you!?”

Lycia springs from the bed into the shadows surrounding the poor loser in this struggle. She rips the knife free, drenching bluish-red Vigor onto the floor. She clenches onto the arm revealed underneath, struggling to keep it to her while also slapping away reaching arms of inky black.


“I don’t know how you manifested, but…!

[As it was in the beginning, let dawn now reveal only truth!]


Words of power Lycia intones cause immense pain to both victims, for her skin begins to crack and peel.



She starts screaming along with the being at the center of the growing vortex of darkness.


I’m a hypocrite! You just now realize that!?

[That which cannot be, shall be…]!”


A hateful invader’s last assertion carries a supernatural crack of authority when uttered.




Ringing bells respond to her hissed condemnation of it. They pierce its essence like a spear’s point and fracture it.






The creature he has to murder to stay real for now is pulled far away from him to safety, vanishing into the precious black light as an eternal white night devours the tumbling, collapsing, true servant of…


“… I WILL… i WiLl aLwAyS—!








“GAAAAAAH!” The dark mass peeling from him clears his mouth and allows Adris to scream, finally. “HOOOO, FUCK, FUCK, FUUUUUCK, DIEEEEEE!

Tenebrous snares yank at his arms, trying to pull them from their sockets despite his order.

Like the Chapel when collapsing into the unreal, this room is seconds from becoming hell if he can’t shake them free. The wavering chamber is a vortex of air currents and voices that scream to be heard over the din, all obeying the flow of pure shining night harassing Adris.




The whispering watchers of this carnage are all universally angry, united for once.






Into the violently undulating shadow he casts is where the horrific “disguise” Adris has been wearing is drawn unwillingly. It takes all of the boy’s willpower and brute strength not to get sucked down with it, along with a helpful Lycia anchoring him.


“Condemn it, Adris! Tell it it isn’t real!


(That… that’s a good idea, is it!?)




The mass still clinging to Adris squeezes hard enough to crack his chest, but grows weaker yet when insulted!





Each word that means the same thing inflicts a new visible wound upon its grasps on him.



It rips from his torso, clinging now only to his legs.


(Oh, it’s working. MORE!)






(Why are there so many words for “false”!?)


That’s not a proper philosophical quandary to be having right now, but the clinging demon is already too weak to hold on.





To the boiling floor the last of it departs with his final expletive, getting sucked into the screaming void.




With it disappearing, the carnage mutating the room rewrites itself like a ticking clock.


A moment of rebuilding passes and then leaves Adris to face another in peace when those petulant voices disappear, too.




What are you?

“I’m the guy having a splitting headache, so shut up…!


Suddenly unburdened by the “Fehl” that was totally in control, lingering hatred and his own repressed feelings can wreak havoc with the full knowledge of what he’s been forced to witness as a weapon against him.

All emotions swirl around the ambient bouquet that tickles his soul. Sweetness tainted by murder is what powerful senses enjoy.


(Smells like…)




Adris finds himself squatting and clutching his head. Before him is a grown woman wrapping her arms around her legs. Like she’s a town child huddling before a fire to fight off the fears hiding in the dark, Lycia stares at him without guile.


(Is that… are you…?)


A big sister’s sight is filled with trepidation toward him. Just like Ave and, to a lesser degree, Neesiette, there’s mistrust where he’s tried to prevent any from accruing.


“Neesiette! Why!?


That complicit belonging causes his teeth to grind when remembered. The torrent of woes flowing through him carries absolute condemnation for this ally that sends Adris to the floor for comfort.

In only a day, everything Adris is building upon seems content to crack its foundations.




(I don’t understand!? Why would you agree to hurt us!?)





Name: Adris fehl Dain, “Boss”, “Starr”
Titles: Lycia’s Little Brother, Slayer, Gigolo (Self-Admitted)
Race: Xin’El, Emperor’s Child (Human), ???
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?”

“Are you still with us, boy?”

“Now that you can be handsome, will you abandon that worthless personality you cultivate to achieve it?”

“Aren’t you a little too eager to be the Adris we all know? Who are you, now?”


“I thought you liked lying, Adris?



“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’?”


“Recalculated! A False God has found a new role?”

“Fehl is asserting with emotional logic. A pride once felt only as something to pursue now has a reason for existing. Is this good?”


“What was only a dream, now asserts itself as if it has always existed.”



“There he is!”



Name: Fehr
Titles: Sister of Fehl
Race: Automaton
Sex: Female
Age: ??

Occupation: Creation of the Maker, Falke of the Kestners
Discipline: [Beyond the Peak] – Modus of the Pillars of Zenith



[“Maker’s Special”] – “This unit controls all aspects of the Maker’s creations, so long as she obeys the four rules that bind her.”



Disposition: Assertive / Demurring / Inquisitive
Alignment: Ordered -> Neutral (DARKNESS ACQUISITION)

Eyes: Blue
Hair: Silvery
Skin: White



Rantil Value –

Strength – C

Vitality – ???

Dexterity – D

Agility – D

Intelligence – D

Mentality – D

Luck – ???

Charisma – C



Cethran Value – “Don’t you think you’re allowing yourself to grow a bit too fascinated? As someone that sees things from the opposite end of the spectrum, what you are playing with… hasn’t it become quite dangerous if you only believe she is a… ‘tool’?”

“Isn’t she shining a little too… darkly, too quickly, Adris?”


“Are you beginning to enjoy what resembles yourself?”



“What started as Serras has become something completely different. With each step, it grows. With time, it feels. Within this… story, even something born in one day may achieve…?”

“An automaton is something without a soul. A Lunamaton is an automaton created by Luna that possesses a soul. What do you call an automaton created by something else that has…?”


“Growing beyond the rules makes for an inherently dangerous young adulthood and uncertain future.”



“When someone is very young and the rules fly out the window, don’t they behave with a selfish sort of clarity of purpose?”



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?”

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

“You’ll forgive her solely because she’s erotic? That does sound like your logic, doesn’t it?”


“Won’t you tread very carefully, Adris? Truth is dangerous, but isn’t another liar also hazardous, too?”



“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?”

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

“Danger pulls in a strange sort of savior.”


“Offering condemnation towards Adris’ own powers, a ghoul from the ancient past knows what…?”



“Why is Lycia scared of the dark?”




Chapter 119         Table of Contents          Chapter 121