Take Up the Cross – Chapter 20: Strange Beginnings

Adris takes in the situation as best he can, for the details grow ever stranger.


“Ahaha~! Then Silver says, ‘surely you can believe in me’ or something, turns the corner, and we all drop down from the ceiling! Then while we’re attacking, he says ‘fiends are upon us, we’re in danger!’ while the big puppies run right past! All he does is pose dramatically!”


A voice ahead cheerfully recounts a strange story to another creature present.


“That sounds like Lord Silver, yeaaah~. For anyone to trust him, kinda doesn’t make sense~. Guess it’s just that derring-do he has that makes you see a hero~?”


The dreamy, female voice is quieter than the screaming imp, but is also far more alluring.


(Thanks for the story.)


Forced to listen to the energetic idiot ahead, little conversation has transpired between his own group since leaving the overlook.

What Adris has witnessed still fuels his growing discontent. Ave initially reassured him of his safety and offered small questions, but that ended with the midget’s rude, yet also distressed, words.


Be silent in this presence of the unseen that stalks us, newt, lest given to it in Recompense you may be.”


Though Adris didn’t feel it more than an idle threat, the promise deeply hurt his elvish captor, a bitter face on her afterwards.


(This “presence” stalking us can only be one thing, and it apparently is perceivable by you… This same technique or sense you use to navigate the halls, the Castillo’s sentience is picked up by this, isn’t it?)


Rather than facing threats in the halls, the delver party’s secret weapon has been displayed for Adris. At every intersection and branching choice, the frail girl in blue stands seemingly idle for some minutes, before directing the cloaked one…


(Shall we say “Puddle”, since that seems to be the bruiser’s insistent name for her?)


… down a path after some quiet discussion that Adris is ever excluded from. This Puddle creeps ahead, blending in with her environment so perfectly that not even Adris can see or follow her after a point.


Between her scouting reports and the midget’s preternatural senses, Adris presumes all traps and encounters have simply been avoided. Kol’s consternation at being denied a challenge has led to her solution for the threat ahead being –


Put axe into them.”


Even though it should be easy, the party seems reluctant to risk combat with Adris present.


(At the midget’s insistence, even though she…)


By nature one be suspicious and threatening, though admittedly not by presence. With neither internal strength nor outward weapon, how would one be deemed competent enough to be a true problem, and yet…


(… considers me completely inept, I’m also dangerous? Is that not contradictory?)


This silent traversal of the dangerous Castillo, combined with the absolute avoidance of the party in acknowledging him, has led to this strange encounter’s deadlock.


While Puddle and the overdressed girl silently discuss the unavoidable roadblock ahead, always keeping Adris in view, Kol stands between the party and the threat.


Of Ave, there is only shivering.


Adris is quiet as the shaking girl hugs his back, her long tail always creeping slowly forward to wrap further around his legs. Deathly hushed in the presence of the creatures ahead, she’s clung to him while attempting not to cry.

Her floral, forest scent and body warmth is distracting him terribly, this “owner” of his who comes to him for comfort.


Be silent, for imp and dream faun lie ahead. In no danger one be, but for now a course of action must be decided.”


The girl’s shaking can only relate to the monsters spoken of. Having never met a “dream faun,” he recalls that they fought imps and ran.


(I see. Male imps are not something you can deal with?)


For the girl that carries a finely crafted whip and seems magically inclined, her uselessness is a stain on the party’s utility.


(If the midget is a mystic, this Puddle is an outfighter, and Kol is a frontliner, then you with a whip would be support? Whips are quite powerful weapons on Xin. This sort of balanced team should easily be victorious in an ambush.)


An aura alloy-tipped whip in the hands of an expert, one wielding it to its fullest potential, is a weapon capable of such subtle manipulations and reach that Adris could never hope to overcome.


(Yet, they hesitate to attack when overwhelming odds should be in their favor. Even I could take the imp. The dream faun doesn’t sound vicious.)


Though the paranoia of the party does have easy grounds, as the blazing focus of the Castillo grows ever stronger.

While initially passive during their march, the lack of danger and excitement has led to it becoming…


(Disenchanted? It wants to observe us. It put me together with these four intentionally, because it desires to see the outcome.)


Detecting magic, like detecting aura, must utilize similar senses. The keen magical senses of the airy one must well register the threat. None of the others seem as overwhelmed as she is.


(From her I sense… a strange sort of “aura”. It’s hard to define it here, unlike on Xin. All four of these girls definitely have presence. Not as strong as Lycia’s or the rabbit sage’s, but still… I don’t think any of them are weak.)


Kol’s “presence” holds definite anger…


“Just smash. One, two, done.”


When told to stand down by the midget, the armored warrior agreed, but Adris can feel her annoyance building at a close enemy withheld from her. Even now, she mutters while stewing in her hunger for carnage.


(They make decisions as a group. If at least two out of four back me, then I can win over the other two after establishing certain conditions suitable me.)


No group is a true democracy, and the dynamics of this group are terribly fractious between members. Groups do not risk existential confrontation easily, no matter the danger perceived by one member.


(I have a feeling I can goad Ave into aiding me, while Kol has an adversarial relationship with Ms. Puddle that I can triangulate. If I can temporarily set them against each other by proving my power…)


Even if they’re adversarial, they’ve worked together well.


(So far.)


Only the addition of Adris drawing the mansion’s gaze has upset the flow of events beyond the capacity for the midget to fix.


(Their safe haven won’t be safe when they reach it. Unless the Castillo is satisfied, they will never be left alone… So, let us satisfy it.)


Adris makes a decision, bold as it might be.


(I need this Kol.)


Patting Ave on the shoulder, she jumps at the touch, her teary face whipping up to stare into his.




“Remain here, I’ll return.”


Holding on more firmly to his clothes, she rapidly shakes her head.


“Nooo, bad! Dangerous…!” Teeth chattering, the green-haired girl’s trauma leaves her unable to form whole sentences.


(I don’t have time to console her… What did Cethran say?)


Elves? Aren’t they brash and self-confident? An arrogant race, wouldn’t their dismissal of the qualities of others border on ingrained narcissism?


(Quite unlike this fragile thing.)


Lifting her face with his hand gently to her chin, she obeys his hand with surprised eyes. Smiling while dialing up his poise, Adris lets a honeyed tongue do what reason can’t.


“The elves I’ve heard about from the fools within this Castillo sound much braver than you lead me to believe; but, I can see within you a strong spirit submerged by doubts, Avenalliah.”


Her mouth squirms as if she’s bitten into a hot pepper, turning her head away to escape his eyes; yet, she also stops shaking.


“No, no, no, you can’t expect me to hear something like that and just be okaaaay… buttt… I am an elf and I can’t rely on a guy I just met, so get it together Ave!” She holds her cheeks with her hands, letting go of Adris as she psyches herself up.


Talking to herself openly in front of Adris, he worries that she might trust him a bit too much. She produces a strained smile while sweating as Adris moves off, pulling her body closer to the wall to hide.


Walking up behind the metal beast unobtrusively, Adris doesn’t have to get her attention. Her pink eyes are already turned to study him.


(And the other two?)


From the corner of his eyes, he sees Puddle’s awareness of him unchanged, but she doesn’t intervene.




“Are you four not stronger than these foes? Why wait? What does a dream faun do that an imp cannot?”




Adris has neither felt, nor heard, any other threat. Neither traps nor hidden enemies seem likely in an intersection as small as the one ahead.


(Almost as if they’re sacrificial lambs.)


“Hah!? Think Kol want wait? Moon say wait… wait.” Irritation creeps out of the helmet as she stares hard at him. “Goat? Goat, worse imp, make person lose mind.”


(How fortuitous! Mental attacks mean very little to me.)


“No, waiting would be a terrible idea.”


(The mansion is cruel, but it answers to and rewards desires. For me, the mansion presented a challenge to gauge me as an unknown. My clever ploy unfortunately earned its furthered attention… But I can’t afford that to be a fluke.)


Not omniscient, the mansion’s interest, its pleasure, will fade into anger…


As Kol stiffens at Adris’ words, perhaps readying to challenge his authority to speak…




“Waiting doesn’t bring victory.” Placid as he stares at her, Adris offers his wisdom.


“Like you said at the overlook: fight, solve everything.”




Untensing at these words, the warrior chews on them for a time.


“Uhn, ‘well said’. Fine, want fight, Kol agree! How fight?” Her voice loses its edge, becoming welcoming as she cocks her head.


Adris easily removes the rope tying him while hiding it from Puddle, a simple task even with only one hand and a cross stuck to his other. The knot was pathetic, for Ave’s kindness towards his wrists had left it horribly loose.

Kol tilts her head the other way while watching his fast escape.


“Can the faun affect you?”


Kol shakes her metal helm curtly. “Kol will, strong.”


Unsure of how to respond, Adris decides to trust her self-assessment, lest he unwittingly insult her.


“Then, with two people who can fight them without succumbing to their powers…”


Adris shows her his wrapped cross.




“Lay them out with one rush.”




Kol hefts her axe, a great exuberance coming to her.


“Very smart! Like idea!”




“Then, on three-” Adris starts to count…


But, Kol is already running along the wall and toward the door.




Adris snaps off the floor, casting aside the rope and running flat out to catch up to her.




Blood and steel!”




Adris feels the heaviness of combat wash over him, the discordant voices jumping out with startling abruptness.


As the clanking Kol exits the door…




Clearing it at the same time, Adris sees an imp boy turning, his arms high while holding a necklace he’s inspecting using the blue light of a wall sconce.


Bearing down on him is a hunk of metal and anger, a sharp axe swinging.






Kol drives her axe straight down, looking to split the creature.




The imp barely avoids the blow by cringing and throwing himself on one foot to the side, the floor being smashed by the incredible strike instead. Blown aside by the impact, he lands on the floor, beginning to scoot away in terror.




With him engaged, Adris turns his attention to the girl leaning against the wall. Wearing a short, fluffy red dress with a criss-cross top, the girl with an upturned tail and legs ending in goat’s hooves is stuck drinking from a horn flask.

Curly blond hair covers short goat horns and frozen eyes, with the flask beginning to spill a reddish alcohol onto her curvy, supple body.


Awakening from her self-imposed daze, she moves a hand to point at Kol, words coming to her lips.


Will-taking song, flavorful breath, unleash a heart from its chains with-!”


Rushing at her, Adris somehow avoids her notice until the last moment, but she immediately targets him with fear in her eyes when she does.


R-r-r-raucous promise! [Joyful Heart]!”


The stammering girl’s hand effuses an expanding phantasmal, purple smoke that is blown forward in a coruscating wave. As it consumes the charging Adris, he holds his breath.

Feeling it cling to his skin, a sighing sound teases along it as the smell of cloying wine fills his nose.


But, aside from an increase in lust…


(Your charms don’t work, girl!)


Emerging from the purple haze, Adris looks to Kol, noting that her attack leaves her back turned to him.




Adris’ bound cross goes low, turning into an upward strike aimed at the faun’s face. With the girl’s hands high and wide to weave her magic, she blinks once before the cross drives into her unprotected chin, lifting her off the ground with a crashing sound of breaking glass and peeling thunder.

She flips, landing unconscious on her face, her cute, peach butt sticking up as she collapses into a pile, her dress falling up her body to reveal no panties.


“EH!? Lisit!”


Showing compassion for his fallen comrade, the imp’s eyes grow furious, before blinking wide as they change focus.




Kol heaves her axe back into a striking position, with her inhuman strength translating to raw quickness, before plunging it straight at him with zero technique. An apprentice butcher’s chop would be more skillful than her swing.


A strangled cry coincides with an explosion of golden particles, the imp hit so hard in the stomach by the axe that his body folds up briefly where he lays, the ground underneath cracking slightly.


(But he’s still in one piece.)


Though a great, golden gash is left in the imp, he doesn’t appear to die, only go unconscious with his eyes rolling back into his head.




Both creatures are laid out with a single attack landed, each.




Puddle bolts into the intersection with sword drawn, a horrible tension to her that vanishes with a quick inspection. As she leaves her sword pointed at Adris instead of the enemy, tapping feet are heard from the door.


With her sparking rod drawn, the one called “Moon” enters too, her expression sour as she takes in the sight.


“What course of action be forced, knowing not what stalks us?”


Rebuking him, the girl’s focus is also on how Adris accomplished his work.


(Call me powerless, again.)


“‘Knowing not’, do I?” Chuckling darkly at the assertion, Adris moves onto his next task.


(I’m going to disabuse you of the notion that you understand me.)


“If you’re referring to the lingering presence of danger, then know that you can’t hide from it anywhere in the Castillo. Of my knowledge concerning it, that is assured.”


Though Adris feels that the Godless Chapel might be one such place, out here in its domain, nobody is ever safe.


Moon’s aggression to him doesn’t lapse, but Puddle’s does.


“… Claim knowledge of its nature, one does? Unrelated to it, claim now will one?”


The accusation flows easily, the girl agitated at his actions which don’t follow from her own conclusions about him.


“Hazardous one would be, if power one possessed…? Hazardous now one demonstrates as being by refusing directions.”


(Make up your mind: do I have power or not? You’re trying to protect me but also corral me.)


“Definitely not unrelated, but also not aligned with. Far from hazardous to you, my company should prove beneficial in the future.”


(Enigmatic, always enigmatic. I will never give you what you truly want. And you will wonder, won’t you?)


Adris can play this game forever.

A step ahead of them, always with sage words anew, Cethran has been a wonderful tutor for this role. Adris wonders now why he never considered joining one of the mystic sects of Xin.


“Good work, nice!”


A hand strikes him on the back, the impact so heavy that Adris feels his breath rush out. His once broken ribs are still inflamed, with Kol’s help making them feel worse.


(How can something so small hit that hard?!)


Though Adris has noticed that physicality doesn’t translate directly to one’s strength on Zennia, Kol still amazes him.


As she stands next to him without regarding Adris as an enemy, Kol speaks fondly of him to Moon.


“‘Strong human’, right? Kol, know strong! Great fight will be, when smash him!”


Cackling a bit, her friendliness mixes with absolute danger.


(Why does liking me more increase your desire to hurt me!?)


Adris cannot follow the logic of this girl, yet.


“What wisdom claim one, to make decisions for our group, even assuming one grasps the nature of a hidden stalker?” The blue-dressed girl is somewhat animated, her questions fair and direct.

“Recompense provided by one would be rendered, should an errant guess prove unfortuitous?”


(At least you consider the repercussions.)


“Ah, but good plan? Work out, Moon. Win big, easy.” Kol speaks up in support, a cheery sound to her voice.


Adris appreciates the backup, as he has no solid answers for her. His interpretation of the Castillo’s nature is only a supposition based on exposure to it, and he cannot explain his aura senses which allow him a peek behind its facade.


“As one who has navigated the eternal fog of a broken world and avoided its mad scholars, I say that I understand a bit of the perverseness that motivates the inhabitants of this mansion…”


(Why let concrete details fail to do what empty words can better accomplish?)


“I have seen the source of waters of this place, the great, undying leviathan that they’ve trapped above. Lounged in the luxurious, hidden pools they secreted away.”


(All true, from my perspective.)


“Approached the summit of the Alchemaster’s decadence, only to turn away and descend on spiraling flesh.”


Adris addresses them with as much mystique as he can summon, closely watching their bodies for signs of recognition; but, his read produces nothing. The cloaked girl is ambivalent, while the short one is attentive, but unimpressed.


“I have been to the highest floors and back. I do not seek to…”

Adris considers his position and hers.


“… make demands of you, but if I feel the need to act, I simply will. As I traverse this mansion…”


(Please hear this, almighty hell fortress.)


“… I begin to appreciate its nature, such that given the opportunity, I wish to… struggle against it in a way which will definitely overturn the long-held expectations of this Alchemaster.”


(Failing that, you will receive the spectacle of my grandest escape.)


“If the Alchemaster’s life has been so long that she might not expect to witness a unique scenario within a hundred years, then I will smash that calculation and force her to accept the danger I represent now.


I am a false god, and I intend to show her a future that not even she can predict, so long as I can achieve my own desire, first.”


(I can’t let the mansion grind me down before I complete the investi-)




His head hurts as he totters a bit, his free hand going to his temple.


Dizziness washes over as he feels the heaviness of malignant air weighing him down. The sound of cracking comes to his ears.


The blue-dressed girl’s head sags a bit at the same time, her eyes unfocused as the walls beat around the two of them.


Even Kol and the cloaked girl feel something now, axe high and short sword menacing. They turn outward down the halls to confront an unseen threat.


A strangled, sweet cry comes from the door they entered through, every person here constricted by the evil oppressing them.




Expectation, doubt, revelry, and coldness seep into his bones.




Before the feeling disappears completely.

The sentience of the mansion…


Completely vanishes from the area. Only a passive feeling remains, the omniscient eye secreted deep away in the darkness ahead.




(That’s more than anyone should have to endure.)


Adris keeps his composure by sheer willpower. Something wet is on his face.


His hand goes up to his nose, touching liquid coming from his nostril. Bringing it tentatively before his eyes, red is what stains his finger.


Adris is stunned by the mental impact damaging his very body. Peering beyond his fingers, he sees Moon staring up at him.




“… What be you?” She asks a very rude question, her expression quite serious.




Shaking his head, Adris gives a slight smile as he wipes away the rest of the blood on his sleeve. Both the midget and the cloaked girl focus on the red stain on his hand, the midget’s mouth opening, but not uttering a word.


“As I said, I am a true false god from another world. Whether you believe it or not… changes nothing about me.”


(By the end, I will make you believe…)






An emerald flash stings Adris’ sight as a girl streaks quickly to cower beside the cloaked girl, who immediately leans away from the quivering Ave.


“With proper prayers such an answer would be divined, possessed a gecko were of any brains.” Leaving a brief insult, Moon walks away.


“Sh-shut up! Pellaeon just doesn’t have time for questions… Kuuuuu!” Ave waves a hand angrily, before looking sad at being ignored.


As the snake girl stares daggers at the midget, Adris notices that while the cloaked girl’s mask has a neutral expression to its mouth, her gaze on him lingering…




Until she turns away, searching their surroundings for danger.


(What was that gaze? There was… deep intent there…)




“Nothing upon them?”


“Only small.” Kol presents a cheap necklace, found laying by the imp, before putting it in her pocket.


“Promised spoils be the only reward, then.”


Standing beside the imp, Moon speaks clearly.




“Treasure, willed by a tool.”




Like the rasselbock, the imp begins to glow a bit before ghostly golden sheeting envelops its body. When it becomes a mummy of gold leaf, the shell cracks and breaks away, the fragments being absorbed by the stone floor.


In place of its body, only a small, gold coin remains.


Even though Kol had slammed into it full power with her axe, only a decaying golden streak was left as a wound; but, when ordered by the midget…


(How absurd. There’s no death, but demanding treasure sends it away? Or did it “die” for good?)


With none of the girls fazed by the displayed, Kol reaches down to pick up the coin.


This action prompts Puddle to lunge at her.




“No! Kol defeat! Shitty Puddle, nowhere!”


The larger cloaked girl jumps onto the smaller one’s back, hanging with feline-like aggression as she tries to grab onto Kol’s arm. The objections by Kol are growls, until she roars.




Kol slams both of them into the wall, crushing Puddle. When Kol stumbles away, the cloaked girl is completely unharmed, still fishing in Kol’s hand for the hidden coin.


While the two totter around while fighting, the midget approaches Adris.


“Though method of victory unknown, and an unwelcome interloper as surely as could be defined, to one before this tool… spoils of victory be promised.”


Confused by the statement, Adris is unsure of protocol… or even what she means.


Noticing his silence, the girl offers helpful advice.


“Upon one, the stink of its pseudo-Art lingers. Libido and desires aroused, should not one reject unnecessarily enduring these temptations? Will one not utilize one’s reward, suffering from an ailment as one does?”


Without so much as a disagreeable look, Adris interprets her as suggesting that he…




… rape the faun.




(Isn’t that a bit… improper? No, that’s also a bit dark, even for me?)


What Adris considers a usually detestable act, these girls as he scans their faces…


(Ignoring Kol and Puddle…)


Turning to the elf girl holding her hands, she blushes when he tries to gauge her thoughts.


“I… I won’t watch!” She blurts out, before looking guilty and slithering off to confront Kol.

“Just… just let go, Kol! We all work together~!”


(Even you find this acceptable?)


Returning to the midget, he finds her patiently waiting.


“Possess unspoken needs all creature do, newts and honest girls included. Even supposing… words spoken be true, find not one among this assembly who will reproach… you.”


Musing on her own words, the girl briefly stops while her violet eyes narrow, looking him over once more.


“Adaptation be required… if one be from another world. Lest one succumb to danger at inopportune moments, instinctive revulsion must be thrown away. The Castillo’s effects shan’t lessen, even if form of available females be repulsive to one. Leaches into spirit, know by now this feeling?”


While she treats his desires brusquely, like a mother explaining sex to a precocious son turning his lust toward her, she doesn’t seem disgusted.


“Most importantly, know that our assembly possesses no obligation to aid one…”


Turning to look at the snake girl…


Ave has started wrestling with Kol too, the three of them thrashing about until the coin flies out of Kol’s grip, with them diving for it as it bounces around.


Pursing her lips at this, Moon amends her statement.


“… A terrible curse comes from such ‘release’ that a lustful lizard might willingly provide, but degenerate options may exist.”


Looking placid after this comment, she concludes her thoughts.




“A quick beating shall be thrown upon one who throws himself upon us. Blessings be with one later, should opportunities now be refused.”




(“Instinctive revulsion?” Towards what? The imps and fauns?)


Even though his own countenance is as impassive as hers, Adris’ heart leaps in his chest, with his thoughts equally scattered. Though the midget seems to think he is either in danger or is dangerous because of the faun’s magic, his lust has only increased slightly.


The long explanation she spared for him, even though dutifully offered, seems to consider his best interests.


(Only thorough and mildly expressive when conveying what she feels are important instructions, she then returns to being silent and aloof? “None would fault me?” Not only is assault a regular occurrence, but it’s not even frowned upon? No, that makes sense in…)


Swallowing, he turns to eye the girl he defeated.


(It’s a dark rationalization. But to actually hear it is different from knowing intuitively.)


To clear his head now might be wise. Far from revulsion, the faun girl’s body seems appetizing, a drunken sort of scent rising from her that seems inviting rather than unwelcoming.


(They don’t even care about watching? How do they feel about all of this? Knowing that it could happen to them at any time?)


The thought of rutting with the goat girl in front of the four others is too bizarre, even as he feels excited by the prospect. This completely unknown scenario that springs up during this crisis of thought drives him wild.


(What if they were the ones defeated?)


Adris looks at Ave, still rolling around. A sincerely…




(She was terrified?)




… troubled thought wells up.


Though he might eventually choose to, and on some level even feels his id imagining the possibility, such an act is worthless and self-destructive if done inelegantly.

His teeth grind at the idea.


(Especially since I am not a “human.” I am not “someone.” If I do it, it’ll have some purpose. Maybe I can enjoy it then… Maybe I should, but… So long as I am rising, I don’t intend to sink into depravity! I am…)


A false god.


Striding past the girl, her expression unchanged, he approaches the faun and looks down at her. Her supple figure smells quite nice. Her butt is still raised for him, easy enough to use in her current position, a tight pussy awaiting that Adris has never tasted…




“In my name: treasure.”




The faun girl sheets up with gold, the foil cracking and wafting away, nothing left of her but a similar gold coin.


He picks it up, turning it in his hand.


(To where do they return?)


On the front of the pure gold coin is a great, ornately carved door with stained glass windows framing it. On the back…


… the Alchemaster’s symbol.




“Though your advice might be helpful to another, my ambitions are far more resolute.”


Adris gives her a subtle smile, showing her the coin for a moment before pocketing it.


“Without passion, where is the pleasure? Why take what should be given to me, for am I not worthy of affection from interested parties?”


Letting her bask in his self-confidence…




“… Be that the truth of one’s nature, or pure dissembling for effect…?”


Amusingly, the girl spares an idle retort for Adris in response to his outright bragging.


With her only other words either dismissive or dispassionate, these words feel like a victory to Adris, one made much stronger when he sees this Moon relax slightly.






Moon calls out, getting the cloaked girl’s attention as she darts away from the ruckus. With Kol no longer in possession of the coin, the armored girl is instead harassing Ave, trying to get her to give it back.


“Relinquish not party funds, instead hold tightly to oneself, lizard.”


“I am not a lizard!” Ave hisses, her tongue darting out. “Ah! Right! Kol, you can’t have it!”


The cloaked girl, apparently named Still and not Puddle, walks up with the rope, the girl slightly taller than him having a wry smile on her mask. Making a quick gesture of touching her head while tilting it, she then flicks her hand a bit before lovingly stroking the rope bundle.


{Sorry, sorry, but this time you’ll be having an expert touch~}


(Right. This is still going on.)


“… With all that you’ve seen, you still think a rope is a hindrance?”


Darkly asking this question of Moon, she cocks her head to deliver her rebuttal.




“All avenues of protection be important to pursue, even if they be… useless by one’s estimation. Power unwitnessed still be power unproven…”


(Still paradoxical! I just single-handedly…!)


She walks off while Still happily ties him up.


“… yet, ‘extent of power unproven’, should this not amend a tool’s assertions succinctly? Effect properly demonstrated… at least one cannot be said to be helpless in totality... Congratulations be in order, for proving one’s resourcefulness and danger.”




Adris resigns himself to this lingering humiliation, knowing that he’s elevated his position with both of the holdouts. Even now, Still proves she is quite concerned with binding him properly.


(You think I’ll try to escape or harm you? That couldn’t be further from the truth. Keep me as close as you’d like.)




Walking up, Kol gets his attention before pointing to Ave, who shrinks back in horror.


“Strong human, help Kol get coin. Kol and human, earn, take.”


(… Well, that’s two.)






Name: Adris fehl Dain; “Mister Meat”
Titles: Scholar Bound in Madness, Greedy Informant, Lycia’s Little Brother
Race: Xin’El, Emperor’s Child (Human)
Sex: Male
Age: ?? – Young


Occupation: Crossbearer; Charlatan/Swindler; Xin’Reh (former); Soldier of Fortune (former); Bounty Hunter (former)
Discipline: Crossbearer – Cursed Aura User; Spear Veteran (former); Aura Warrior, School/Specialization: Self-Taught (former)



[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!”




[Unknown Protection from Poisons/Compelling] – {A MAN WALKS, HIS STEPS UNWEARIED AND RESOLUTE. NONE CAN STOP HIM.}




[Unknown Mental Domination] – {A MAN DEMANDS. THOSE WHO HE DEMANDS OF, OBEY.}


[Familiar] – “Through means unknown, a familiar has been acquired. Aren’t familiars a kind of tool? Isn’t this sort of strange to consider a ‘power’?”



Disposition: Resilient / Adaptable / Sinner
Alignment: Chaotic

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



Rantil Value – “Idiot master receives idiot information~”


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 – “If all men looked like him, it might not be odd for women to think that the gods had painted the world in only the drab color brown? While not ugly, would he not exemplify the idea that ‘normal’ is perhaps indistinguishable from ‘undesirable’?”

“What do you think these four girls each find attractive? Isn’t this the question you should ask?”

“If you’re going for appeal, then mystery is the easiest to rely upon, but the absolute hardest to create, isn’t it?



“A rather plain-looking man wearing traveling robes, what he carries hidden is far more dangerous than his appearance lets on. A disarming smile, leads to you being suckered. A clever tongue, leads to your sorrow. Possessing quick wit and intellect, hubris and arrogance are certain to follow. Well known across the floating islands of Xin, but not by name, only by reputation. Owed many favors, but not with great joy, and certainly not love. The only person he seems to care about other than himself is his lifelong partner.”

“Only now does Adris appreciate his finer qualities. Pretending to be something you aren’t is a talent that takes a long time and hard practice. It also takes a willingness to submit without appearing to, all while becoming in truth something you aren’t.”

“Not content with being thought of as helpless, a foolish need to demonstrate self-reliance always seems to shine through.”



“Going through Adris’ thoughts are a good way of understanding where the plot is going.”



Name: “Kol”
Titles: Idiot
Race: ???
Sex: Female?
Age: ???


Occupation: Delver, Frontliner
Discipline: ???





Disposition: Straightforward / Confrontational / Respectful
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Pink
Hair: White
Skin: Tanned



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Strength – C

Dexterity – E

Agility – F




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…?”

“Is forthrightness an attractive quality? What is the difference between truth-seeking as a subject and living a lifestyle of it?”



“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.”

“In addition to being honest, she is also obsessive about certain things, least of which is deciding who is stronger than others.”



“A reader of my work in the beginning phases described Kol as being like a dog with super-strength. This might be accurate, but she does get better…”



Name: Still
Titles: Puddle
Race: Human?
Sex: Female
Age: Young Lady


Occupation: Delver, Trickster/Outfighter
Discipline: ???





Disposition: Playful / Sadistic / Skulking
Alignment: Chaotic

Eyes: ???
Hair: ???
Skin: ???



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Agility – C




Cethran Value – “Do you really think it’s not obvious? What she possesses is what you’ve missed all your life, yes? Breasts and curves… are these not a new fruit for you to taste?”

“While you don’t get to see much of her, it may be that her lifestyle is the most appealing thing, perhaps? If she’s always surprising you, doesn’t that create an appeal of danger?”



“A mute girl who says much with gestures, she also has more going on than she seems to. Though not outwardly aggressive, there’s an atmosphere of danger about her. Opposite of Kol, hers is subtle… Yet, she also can protect others. Given to acrobatics, it matches with her dark, but flamboyant, colors.”

“Self composed as always, it won’t be easy for Adris to get into her head.”



“If someone keeps watching you, it means one of two things: they’re plotting something against you, or they want to fuck you.”




Name: Avenalliah Aurmaris
Titles: Lustful Lizard, Elf
Race: Elf
Sex: Female
Age: Young

Occupation: Delver, Scared Girl
Discipline: ???




Disposition: Joyful / Impressionable / Cowardly
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Crystal Green
Hair: Moss Green
Skin: White



Rantil Value –

Mentality – F




Cethran Value – “While not possessing your newly favorite curves, isn’t a girl with a naive charm also fine? Because she covers so little, you are also left without having to imagine what you could possess, yes?”

“If you’re looking for a girl to protect and curl up with, where else could you find a girl as clingy as this? Does being innocent entice men? Isn’t that a stupid question, Mr. Star?”



“As cheerful as she is skittish, Avenalliah fits an unknown position within the four delvers’ group. Though she carries a large sack, that would hardly count as a position… right?”

“Prone to fits of panic, there’s a lot she needs to do to prove her worth…”



“Isn’t she a little spoiled?”





Name: “Moon”
Titles: ???
Race: Human?
Sex: Female
Age: Young?

Occupation: Delver, Mystic
Discipline: ???


[Sparking Rod] – “The danger inherent be apparent, even if not demonstrated.”


Disposition: Impassive / Calculating / Curious
Alignment: Ordered

Eyes: Pale Violet
Hair: Amber
Skin: Pale White



Rantil Value –

Agility – E

Intelligence – B




Cethran Value – “First imps, and now short girls? This is certainly becoming a pattern, isn’t it? Though you might not fare badly with a girl as beautiful as this, yes? Though she’s a little perfect, doesn’t she seem oddly demure?”

“Having her rebut all of your words so desperately, is it her intellect you’re falling for? Are you sure that’s wise, considering she could dethrone the wisest person you know…?”



“An otherworldly existence, she wears clothing that doesn’t fit with the Castillo. With mannerisms quite distinct from all others, even the girls she travels with seem incomparable to her uniqueness. Yet, she definitely seems to be in charge…?”

“Given to only worrying about what she can demonstrate as true, how does such an uncompromising and uninterested person lead a group of four girls through situations that cannot be easily explained?”



“Girls with calmness, but also attitude, are fun to banter with.”




Dream Faun – “A creature of revelry and fornication, especially powerful if it can lull its target to sleep… whereupon it takes its enemy’s body both in reality and in dream.”



Chapter 19         Table of Contents          Chapter 21