Take Up the Cross – Chapter 39: Gift of Gold

(… Ah, this is what I get. I did say I wanted to beat her! Good, I’m done for.)


Left with a body that has the feeling of being buried in the earth, with her becoming the room, even his breathing and heartbeat have stopped.

As the girl descends the stairs carefully while her dominating eyes stare, Adris’ mind is already dimming with the passing time.


(… I die… before even… having the chance to…)


Blinking fast, a ditzy expression comes to her as she notices his face turning blue. With the lazy movement of a hand…




Choking for air on the ground, his heart restarts with the adrenaline lingering in it. Pain wracks him as he curls up.


“Though completely uncalled for and unneeded, my aren’t you dark?” A sigh comes to his beating ears, with the girl talking without his contribution. “So dark that you were determined to be what fulfills a non-specific trigger, is it?”

As her face scrunches, the glowing blue-gold eyes flash brighter. A piercing glare licks at his very soul, not even the cross hiding him from her.


“… [Rule in Dark]!? What the heck is that!? Hey, myth, what inanity led to a Modus like this being chosen for you?” Laughing rudely with all of her breath as she doubles over, the hate-filled boy’s veins stand out.


“… the fuck… are you laughing at me for, haaah!?” Trying to rise, he gets to his knees only barely.


“[Refuse to Kneel] is a Talent instantly made a lie by your actions! You do it quite well.” Tittering as she twirls, she moves seamlessly into an impish pose. “All of your Talents and Aptitudes are a child’s fantasy concepts. Who was the idiot who dreamt you…?”


Happiness departs her gaze in a moment, a clinical curiosity coming as her eyes peer deeper.


“… No, not a nightmare? Not dreamed up figment nor purely warm body. Then… what are you?”


Loud and authoritative now, the childlike lilt becomes both studious and aggressively abhorrent. With the wildness of her voice matching with her unruly hair, mirth and malice as reflected by noble and mad extremes becomes an unstable mixture of the two, as befitting an alchemist.


From deep within, a self-image forces its way to the surface of the boy’s thoughts.

“… I’m from Beyond, you Golden Bitch. A true false god, brought to Zennia to prove your power a lie! Come from a land of creatures far stronger than you! Though, I should say this depraved mansion adequately reflects your withered so-!”




A bored look accompanies the room that beats harder with her spirit, for one twitching eye is all that is required to silence him.


(… Perhaps I’ve made a mistake in my introduction. Can we try again?)


The realization hits him that the cross defends not against being physically bound.




“With such a lacking mind, let’s hope the body’s answer is satisfactory.”


Clapping her hands once, the girl approaches. The cloaks rise up to concentrate on Adris as they near, an aggressive bent radiating from these hound-like guardians. Their aggression causes her to smile in an uplifted manner.


“If my possessions dislike you, then it’s a worthwhile peek~!”


Standing beside him, the girl only slightly shorter than he brings her gilded, protective leather gloves to his body. Professional hands feel along his clothing and exposed skin, the finest crafted face Adris has ever seen betraying no secrets as she studies him.

Ceasing movement, she then locks hands with him.


“… Hmmmm?”


She leans in to his chest after he is forced to rise, sniffing him as her proud hair ruffles on his jerkin. Letting moments pass…




With no control over himself, the boy launches into a dance he’s never learned, except he finds himself the one presumptuously leading the girl. With her following his forced movements, they turn in rhythmic circles to the accompaniment of unfamiliar music that is light and airy, and seemingly coming from invisible players in the fog.


(… What are you…?)




The most hateful creature in Zennia is led by Adris in a shared rondo; yet, while her bewitching eyes stay glued to his, her smile turns into a frown.


“… Lower levels, Spiraling Flesh, mid levels, [Waters of Lotan], upper levels…”


Lips curling when she watches him pale, he cannot explain the accuracy of her tier reports, even listed in the exact reverse order of travel. As they continue to spin, a strange tone comes to her.

For the first time, she seems surprised.


“Why do the [Redwing Laboratories] feel like a non-existent space? Too touched by the world outside for my tastes, yet you departed from them just fine. Passed up paying your respects when you had the chance, did you?”

Reproaching him for not going up the stairs, her look of offense is completely fake.


(No, stop. I don’t need… more people looking inside me…!)


The shock and horror is still raw in him from the thing that is a curtain. Cethran, the Emperor, and the darkness he called… all had looked deep within and found him wanting.


(No, Cethran at least… accepted me… but you, I refuse to let you judge me!)


Still twirling, she brings her head to his chest as he hugs her. The smell upon her is the scent of sheer, lethal danger: a paranoia deeper than the scholars of the Wondrous Works joins with never-ending greed boiling over, sweet floral scents assaulting him that have the same cloying, poisonous taste as the flowers in the room, except far more distilled.

Were Adris unaware of dangers hidden by pleasant, fake veneers like most other men, he would be tempted.


“So many tastes: ghoul, kejourou, imp, dream faun. A sampling of Somniī’s servants, to be sure. However…” Drawing back, there’s a vicious grin with her next question.


“Why do I taste precious critters on you that match with your interesting boots?”


(… Fuck your… rabbits.)


“There’s also a kobold beset by the total terror of the dark!? A snake with the deepest kiss of the earth!? A [Mad Descendant of Luna], how even did you get your hands on one!? What a strange menagerie you’ve played in!

Yet… most of all…”


Laughing loudly, the girl’s face now seems half-crazed, what she’s saying drawing her away from her previously collected thoughts. Adris is revolted by the look, thinking about the descriptions given to him as the girl cackles a bit more before ceasing.


Finally stopping, she takes a completely neutral smile.




“… Hey, boy, why do you taste like my [Water of Life]?” The question is congenial, but Adris somehow knows that this is the worst thing he can be accused of having been near, even though he cannot recall anything with this name.


(… I don’t know.)


The next moment, his breathing becomes controllable and with it his voice.




“Even if I knew what that was, you’d still hear no answer from this master of the darkness of another world, monster.”


(I, too, would like to know why I smell of this mystical sounding water… BUT WHY AM I ANSWERING LIKE THIS!?)


A strange force overtakes him. Though he would normally only think these thoughts to himself, his mouth voices them quite eagerly.

And in the same tone as his persona when dealing with the four girls.




Lifting her right hand, she extends her pinky finger out, waggling while smiling knowingly. In response, her right cloak section lifts and moves quickly to grab onto Adris’ left hand.


“Wrong answer~! Eh~!”


With a cute voice, punctuated by a whimsical ending, giving a signal, the girl’s cloak wraps around Adris’ pinky, before…






Showing no difficulty, it wrenches his pinky loose from its socket.


The breath hissing out attempts to deny the sharp pain stabbing into his head. Eyes locked onto hers, he shakes but doesn’t cry out. Pooling blood shows that his finger has been permanently maimed.


(… fuck…!)


The brutal Alchemaster leans in, but he prevents himself from uselessly ramming into her nose.


“That strange Talent might protect your mental autonomy, but not your joints. Pain is a very exciting assistant, don’t you think!?”

Cruelty comes easily to her voice, the whimsical one replaced completely by the loud, unfeeling, cold tone as she narrows her eyes.

“As minute as it is, the lasting flavor you’ve washed in forever lingers. If not you, then who? WHAT LITTLE THIEF HAVE YOU TOUCHED, THAT TASTES LIKE MY GREATEST TREASURE? Tell me and… your suffering may end.”


As the mad girl awaits his decision, two people immediately come to Adris’ thoughts.




Shouldn’t you be my dutiful little brother?”


{Isn’t deception the strongest power of all?}




A woman with shining, green eyes flecked with gold gave him sufficient aid to be worth protecting, even now.


(… Why do I think this… but trying to sell her out is pointless. This bitch is never going to let me escape.)


As for the manipulative, but ambitious and helpful, girl in blue…






Smiling brightly, with his eyes light and turned up as he shows Aurumia his confidence, Adris relays his answer succinctly, despite the sheen on his face.




“My grand existence was led to believe that you were intelligent. How fortuitous for me, that such a rumor was disproved.”




“Be a dear.” Her congenial smile changing not a bit, she waggles her tiny wrist.




The cloak rushes for his wrist, with another joining to wrap around his hand. Between the two…


“A second wrong answer combines with a truly unusual mockery. Observe the result~!” Adris watches in horror while trying to appear undaunted, as they begin to turn…









Red and white is his sight, yet he still refuses to cry out. Utilizing his aura training, even though he cannot feel aura…


(WHERE IS MY AURA? Not even now can I move it! Where is everything…!?)


“Even if you’re silent, you almost passed out. Shall we avoid this?”


While tears trail down his face, she reaches into the darkness of her sleeve hanging behind her glove, bringing a crystal vial from it that she pops the stopper off before shoving it into his mouth.


“… GHA!” Her other hand massages his neck as he’s forced to swallow. Humming to herself, the fog devours the emptied bottle tossed over her shoulder.

Even wracked by pain, Adris finds that he has…




… perfect clarity, no matter the suffering. His terror increases at the girl who can deny him the salvation of falling unconscious.


“Having received proper motivation, let’s aim for a third… time…?” Wiping away his tears at first to study them, her eyes then fly back to his wound. “Wrong. Where is the manifestation of Vigor? In no way do you look empty…”


Diligently holding him, an inspection of his wound accompanies vicious manipulation of it.


“… HOH!?” An undignified cry from her answers his suffering. Evil eyes peer wider, before his head is gripped by a yanking cloak. Brought within inches of her face…


“Without surrendering to me, there is only one explanation, isn’t there…?”


(The vital essence that protects Kol… no, all creatures… you’re not going to find it… you bitch…!)


“A pure human! How wonderful, after so much time!? So you were truthful about another world… Oh, but how pure!?”


Madness overtaking her, a cheshire grin comes to her as she goes back to his arm.


“… Well, only one way to find out!”


As a terrible child rubs her hands together in anticipation, three cloaks wrap around his arm in different spots.


(… No… NO!)




A great crackling and breaking sound accompanies the strength of the cloaks.


The inhuman and unfeeling golden cloaks all pull in opposing directions, like satiated soldiers tearing at a chicken’s wishbone for luck.




Even if he can’t pass out, he eventually gives up what she was fishing for when he watches the flesh spray out from the cleanly broken radial bones, the white peeking out from red-stained muscle.






Unable to act but to scream, she rubs her glove on the exposed marrow.


“… AHAHAHAHAHA! Beneath the bravado and fear, humans are ever unified by their truthful cries! Revealed by pain, the only tastes I discern are darkness, the outer world, and my own flavor~!


Not a single drop of the false divine!

None of the Starborn poison!


… But, lo, what is this?”

Losing her mirth as she hyperfocuses, she then cradles what’s left of his arm to show it to him.


“Boy, you’ve got phoenix hiding in your marrow. Explain succinctly.”


“… It’s… still your fault, witch… she works for you…” Adris manages to speak despite his whole mind being on fire.


(Go punish that black-haired pig…!)


Does she now!? Your true age has flitted away from you, has it? An elixir of youth… unmade by me? How… very quaint.”

Lovely, horrifying eyes are licking him again as Adris starts to lose focus. Despite the potion’s clarifying effect, the colors are melting away slowly with each beating pulse…


“Musculature and skeletal structure is the same…? Real age before youthening would explain the tone of them.”

Feeling within his mouth, she pokes into his ear canal after.

“No biological differences, but completely dissimilar organic remnants? What medicinal and alchemical properties would food ‘from another world’ have!?”

Touching his very eyes, which sting with pain when they’re pressed upon.

“Atrophied sight? No, there is… another sense active when it looks? Bizarre.”

Reaching… down… grasping something close to him…


“… That’s an odd size.”




As his leg is coated by something, he finally succumbs to…




“… Ah! Yes, pure means ‘fragile’. To watch a Vigorless person die once more without seeing it for ages, it’s sublimely wonderful every time, this repetition of tragedy! … Hm? Oh, true.”


A slapping and shattering of an object is heard, a mist spreading around his body after.




With the feeling of all-consuming heat comes pain beyond his imagination.





Lying helplessly before her, hate-filled eyes directed at the throne go in hand with his stark refusal to speak.


Reclining as the throne shifts, its richly dressed owner steeples hands before her. Golden watchdogs lazily lay on the throne, ignoring both.

Finally relenting, she shifts to join them with her own catlike posture, her head almost sideways. Only a wrinkle of disappointment on her mouth gives away her mood.


(… You… just give up that quickly, bitch…? Torture me… then ignore me…?)


Exhausted as he is by the forced healing, her orange amber was much more powerful than the one the Castillo granted him. Though he is drained of endurance, every wound and pain that has lingered, even ones from former injuries, is gone.

Perfectly restored, the blood coating his body vanished to return inside.




“I would say, ‘You stole from me my last chance!’…”


A terribly vicious yell is barked, her lips pulling back into snarl. With her hate-filled voice hissing, the cloaks agitate, becoming aware of him again.

Even though she looms over him from a position of authority and total control…




Adris doesn’t flinch, no matter the trauma her previous actions instilled in him.


“… but never again will he deign to meet me, it seems, for the age you come from is long past considering.” Relaxing her expression, her lazy look becomes a bit saddened. Only in this moment does she resemble a girl of the age she appears to be.

“And your peculiarities, while fascinating and novel, present no opportunity to engage with. A tempting design, never to be explored by my capable hands.”




“… Let’s talk about my residence, then.” Clapping her hands together, she returns to being upright with a light smile replacing her depression.

The fog which was once more distant has started to encroach, with the windows overhead vanishing.


“What about it!? It’s a place where you toy with others. All of your gifts are hidden punishments, while your punishments are rewards for your minions. Every action this hell takes is designed to toy with me.

Why should I care about your home? Especially after you tortured me?”


Blinking, she looks offended, puffing her cheeks out.


“How naive. I, at least, have done nothing of note to you.” Snickering after her denial, she puts her hand over her mouth to disguise her contempt. “Save for minor discomforts, but let those be a lesson in showing due manners~.”


When she finishes laughing…




Her face shifts to appear regal and overbearing, her contempt morphing into a rejection of Adris’ right to exist or deny her.


“Attempting to destroy me implies that we have met; yet, had we met, you would know better than to try. As to your whining about my Modus: you are a foolish child.”


Her arm snakes out to swirl a finger lazily in his direction.


“If my supreme existence or that of my mansion’s decides to haunt you down to your very dreams, all you are allowed to feel in return is gratitude.”


Eyes bulging with his anger, he struggles against the field holding him.

“You miserable girl… I’ll show my gratitude! Come here!”


With a flick of her right hand, her right cloak comes to life with blinding speed. It flies towards Adris, smashing into his stomach, completely knocking the wind out of him.




As he lays heaving on the floor, the girl smiles beatifically, stroking the cloak affectionately when it returns to her.


“I am Aurumia, lowly thing.

The [Golden Sky Alchemaster], one of three supremely blessed beings.

Gifted with absolute dominion of Zennia by that wretched, forgetful, unappreciative, windbag of an old man, entire kingdoms have vanished merely because my plans called for it to transpire. An existence such as yours is only a moment from oblivion, avoiding this fate only so long as my thoughts linger on you.”


When Adris remains silent, she giggles.


“Spared no mercy for even family, have I; and, if they received none, can you truly hope for better?” Lifting her arm, she refers Adris to the stained-glass window of the girl in white, hoisting a sword bleeding silver from its blade.


“… Besides, in your impotent anger, you miss so many obvious things.”


(Like what!?)




“Though your true nature is revealed easily, the reasons for it are missing.”


She gets up onto dainty legs when the throne shifts to eject her, her dress readjusting itself as if it’s alive. The cloaks flow along, departing the throne to rejoin her, trailing behind with an impressive fluttering effect in a room lacking a breeze.


Walking towards him, she peers down at him upon arriving.


“What thoughts constructed a mongrel like you? What is…?”




Leering at him while smiling, she searches for his core truth.


“The reason you bear such hostility towards me?”




“… You’re a monster in the shape of a girl. When pointlessly harming others for perceived slights, the only thoughts in your mind are satisfaction at flexing your power. A mansion constructed by you, this ‘Gran Castillo’, exists solely to bring harm to others for your own… inquisitive amusement. I recognize in you the same evil as possesses all other ‘supremely powerful’ people: no doubts about one’s own nature, only certainty at the depredations you intend to inflict.

If you didn’t want me to hate you, you shouldn’t have broken my arm. If anyone is a genuine nightmare, it’s you, you self-centered tyrant.”


Lacing her fingers loosely while looking down at him, she sways lightly with a gentle, coy expression affirming his statements.




“Yes, and?”




(You definitely can’t be fixed. You’re even worse than the Emperor.)


Walking back towards her throne, she relaxes.

When she does, the grip on Adris’ body disappears with the heavy air vanishing.




Standing up immediately, he dusts off his jerkin as she turns.




“If your only insights are that I am true to my nature, then let’s go to the heart of the fault in the previous statements.”


Whipping an arm out horizontally to hold it aloft, a cloak lifts to reveal the blue on its underside…




“[Castrum Somniī Aureī] (CASTLE OF GOLDEN DREAMS), this is the only name my home may be known by. The base words you used will not be overlooked. Why use them, if not to make me angry? Why make me angry, if not to die?”


(… why?)


“Because that’s what it’s called by all whom I’ve met. It deserves no pet name from me. If even your own minions call it that, then who am I to refuse to relay the slight they offer?”




Streaking white light that appears from the air begins to coalesce on the cloak’s underside.

A ball of luminous energy begins to rise from the cloak which radiates this light, at such a rate that only his reaction speed allows for a plan.




A black cross intercedes in its path before it fires.


Shearing white light with a pulsating sound of burning and popping air produces a wavering cone around his body after impact. The cross causes the heated energy to surround him while it melts the floor, only a bubble of protection formed around him preventing spontaneous bursting into flames.




As the cone of glued energy trailing behind him grows larger, her cloak finally ceases its beam.


Have back all of what you sent!”


Drawing back and pulling tethers of white along for the ride, he then slams into the hovering cone’s fixed point, exploding the shining construction and directing its condensed power at his opponent.








All of his hairs raise at the word, as he energetically flings himself sideways.




A scooping wave of neon-greenish fluid that trails combusting air flows over the energy and floor. When it curls away with a swishing slice to return towards the girl’s arm slashing while spinning in a mid-air jump, the floor is left warped and displaying crystalized sections of different materials. The energy he reflected dissolves into shaking and twisting patterns of glyphs evaporating into the air.

The fluid is slurped back into the space in her sleeve, where the deepest darkness Adris has witnessed is found.




Examining the results as he shivers on the floor, he understands only part of it.


(The floor and carpet, they’re all… different component materials left behind!?)




Footsteps approach, though he’s too drained and defeated to resist further.




“… A new darkness, perhaps? Or an entity that is more than what is projected into you? You met the… ‘[Near and the Nigh]’, by the scent of your ‘dark’. This thing between is impossible to encounter, yet you did so and survived, nay, carried back its favor…?”


Glee fills her voice. All of her dissatisfaction departs, replaced by a researcher’s pure inquisitiveness.

Like a proper, prim young lady before, she now lewdly lifts her dress and…




(… No, no, anything but that… not with you!)


Adris begins to cringe as she sits on his lap, but coughs when a leather-clad hand slaps him.


“How vulgar!”


After the playful, light slap… she then uses her full hand to forcefully grip him, grinding the back of his head into the carpeted floor. Enormous pressure comes to his sinuses and eyes, as he receives a burn from the carpet he’s ground down into.




“Also: how dare you look dissatisfied by the thought.”




The beautiful, hideous face leans in close to his as the thing-before-him’s expression turns truly inhuman with indignation. The idea that Adris doesn’t desire her insults her to the very core of her existence.


(Fucking… scary… This is the real deal. A true ruler, an incarnation of greed itself!)


“… In what way could I possibly dissatisfy you? ‘We’ve most assuredly never met,’ is what I want to say now… for all men, unless they know me personally, cannot refuse to gaze upon me while nakedly baring their deepest, basest desires. Those who have personally met me would know not to behave in the manner you do should they live afterward.”

Incensed, but still coquettish, her questioning look shows that Adris now interests her personally.


“… Not a fan of the female persuasion?” Tilting her head, she asks the worst question she possibly can.


“I love women. Especially being inside of them. But your problem is… you’re not a woman. If given the chance to be yours, death would be the sexier option.”


When total silence, and not death dealing, is her response, he closes his eyes to wait.



This simple word unleashes him.




“I’ve hated your type all my life. This ‘disease’ called greed that… I’ve apparently had lurking within me, too, defines your revolting nature. But it’s not within you: you are the disease. The original sickness that turns men into monsters of both conscience and action. People might actively try to contract you, but I…?”


(If you’re going to kill me, stop playing around.)


“There’s no reason I wouldn’t ‘cure’ the world of you, if given the chance.”








“Okay, we’re done! A new darkness to send out for… interesting results suffices for letting you live, I guess.”


(… What?)


Noticing his newfound insecurity, she smiles brightly.

“Imagine, if you will, a delicious new darkness, one never before seen on Zennia, appearing before you; and, in this very moment, you are encouraged to prove that you are… a true monster, as envisioned by this frail little bunny trapped in your hands.” Her voice full of promise rather than anger, she announces her headhunting reason.


(… No, leave me alone.)


Having attempted to destroy her with words, he regrets that he might’ve, in some way, only improved his standing with her.


(But if it results in me being free, then have it all!)




“I am the worst darkness, you waste of fine flesh. There is… nothing more ruinous than I. Give me time and you, also, will fall.”

In this alone, Adris has supreme confidence.




“Ahahaha! Good! Then… would not serving me be the wisest use of one’s talents to reach this goal?”

“Kill yourself.”




For the first time, his true thoughts escape the persona he speaks with.

Leaning in, her maddened face is satiated by his rejection.


“No, no, that question was mere rhetoric. With the truth of outside of this space being so terribly wrong when observed from your history, there is a need for discovering why after the other questions I previously held were answered.”


Brushing his hair back, she looks at him with a matronly grin.


“… When you return to the mansion, know that I’m rooting for you~!”

Her pronouncement causes Adris to shake his head, trying to turn away as she doesn’t permit it. With the fog closing further in, she leans closer, still.


Obviously, my Somniī Aureī hasn’t been… resolute and generous enough to give you the proper experience you so desperately crave, oh powerful traveler from another world! So, let’s overlook that little child’s uninspired caprice and let my inspiration guide you, instead.”


Reaching into her sleeve, she pulls out a simple brass key.


“There’s places in this mansion nobody has ever gone. What you need is… to see those realms that I told her not to peer into. Where the real wonderland is to be found~. Someone of your… personage is my only reliable choice to unveil these things to fools who have forgotten their places.

And to make sure you don’t lose your key… I will give you my most precious thing of all to bind you to it as a reward…”


Adris cannot feel the girl’s breath. Her face hovers over his, yet only his hurried and panicked breathing can be felt.


(Is she dead, a doll, or what? I don’t know. This isn’t right. This body of hers is… wrong!)




Putting the key to her mouth, she pushes it in through closed lips that suck on the length.

Speaking as a maiden would after in the sweetest voice possible, the immaculately beautiful girl with shining hair held by laurels brings her mouth to his.




“My dearest adoration, never successfully given to another… Please accept it without refusing, so that you can be as forever stained as you believe me to be~.”




The most hateful person Adris has ever met irrevocably harms him.

A kiss, like warm sunshine, is gifted: not passionate, like a sexual lover’s; or full of wild feelings, like a hormonal girl’s; instead, hers is a storybook kiss from a regent to a beloved consort, pure affection waking Adris from his hopes of mercy.




A gel traverses from her lips to fill his mouth, rushing to be swallowed by his convulsing throat.


Adris feels something given to him that can’t be thrown away.

The dream and nightmare he was already lingering between becomes so much more potent, her gift adding a perceptible edge of danger to all of his senses.

It makes him want to kill himself, to return to the previous dream.




A spell-binding kiss, it becomes a fatal attraction to this monstrosity, joining with the thoughts of a silent sinner that worm their way into Adris even deeper, a certain cloaked girl’s absolute hatred merging with the golden kiss he receives.


It becomes something so much more than even this Alchemaster intended.




“[I will… absolutely destroy you!]


Adris cries out in rage, words that reflect more than just his own hatred.


“Ahhh, how preciously romantic~. Though this can’t be called love, I think I feel a longing fulfilled that I’ve always missed the chance to.”


Closing her eyes after pulling her head away, she seems genuinely happy to receive the opposite of affection as she sighs.

Hands on him as she observes him after, she looks ready to spoil his life further as he grinds his teeth while trying not to cry.


“… Boy, you are much more than only your thoughts and hatreds. Shall I share… some interesting tidbits about y-OUUUU!?”




Pain strikes her, a cracking right arm abruptly falling from her body. Bouncing off of Adris, it shatters, the pieces rolling along the floor until they come upon the fog, whereupon they are devoured.


From the place where it broke off, Adris can see that her body is… golden flesh, though without much luster, fading and losing its remaining shine quickly.

Looking up into her face, he notes now that she’s afflicted by loss and surprise, her lips quivering a bit as she blinks at the pain.




“No… I was promised eternity… you see?”




Uncertain now, her expression is set in total denial of the reality of her arm. Watching it continue to break and fade into flecks of gold, she looks down at the boy in her clutches.




“… I don’t… want…


won’t you…







But, she doesn’t complete the sentence.

Losing her entire persona while searching Adris’ eyes, his enraged face staring back while denying anything to her causes her to freeze when she feels that hatred.

Regaining her composure, her relaxing face begins to contort. Low laughter comes after she rests her head beside his, which rises as she lays on top of him. Adris is forced to endure her escalating, howling laugh.


Finally looking back up as the fog laps at her body, her perfectly beautiful and insane face becomes his last memory of her.




“Isn’t that fine!? One final act, forever showing you the difference in power between a speck like you and I! You will never forget me, boy! AHAHAHAHAHAAAA—!”




Laughing while her dreamlike face fractures and breaks, the pieces falling onto Adris do forever stain him.


Aurumia the Alchemaster, god of the Castrum Somniī Aureī, shatters like crystal gold dropped from up high, remnants of her spilling out onto the floor as the fog consumes everything.




Only her disembodied, screaming laughter survives the end of her world and Adris’ own vanishment into the fog.





This concludes what I could call Act 1 of Take Up the Cross.


As Act 1 was the story of Adris fehl Dain, what it becomes now is the story of the group he travels with as seen through his eyes. I will eventually have chapters that are seen through the eyes of the girls, but that likely won’t happen as primary chapters.


If you have any interesting questions or comments, I’d love to hear them. I’m never sure which girls people will like, so maybe I should have a poll of who is people’s favorites? (Implying I have readers.)


I’m planning on having side-chapters for sex scenes and slice of life and little revelations that aren’t essential to the story, and thus cannot rise to the level of being required reading. I can’t vouch for the quality of these chapters when they’re published, as I’m unlikely to put the same… amount of time editing into them.


While I sometimes have someone edit for me, this is a one-man project that has also lost a proofer! Flying by the seat of my pants… well, it’s difficult.


To anyone still reading, please look forward to Act 2, which begins Monday with a sex scene! I’m going to try to have as many of these as possible, but always related to the story and with the knowledge that you can only have so many in certain ways before it becomes trite, yeah?


Ero is power!

Blood and steel!






Name: Adris fehl Dain
Titles: Lycia’s Little Brother, True False God
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”
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] – “They will all know my truth.”


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


[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!?”


[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’?”


[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…?”



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?”



“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’?”



“This is the true isekai! Why reincarnate when you can be remade by the trip to the other world?”





Name: Aurumia
Titles: Golden Sky Alchemaster
Race: ???
Sex: Female
Age: ?? – Young


Occupation: Alchemaster; Owner of the Castrum Somnii Aurei; One of Three Great Evils of the World
Discipline: Pinnacle of [Golden Luster]






Disposition: Malevolent / Self-centered / Mercurial
Alignment: Chaotic

Eyes: Blue-Gold
Hair: Golden
Skin: White



Rantil Value – “Please don’t ask for the impossible, Master.”



Cethran Value – “If you think you’re evil, isn’t hers much more potent and refined, Adris? While you’ve had thirty years to develop your talents, can that match against the beauty of centuries of maleficence?”



“The incarnation of greed. The supreme Alchemaster~! All I see is already mine.”



“I hope she was suitably interesting.”





Waters of Lotan – “The name of the blue beast which bleeds pure water in the Cascading Waters.”


Mad Descendant of Luna – “A rather mean way of referring to Neesiette.”


Redwing Laboratories – “The previous name for the Wondrous Works, the implication exists that it was once a space much more firm and realistic than it currently is.”


Water of Life – “Truest secret of the Alchemaster?”


Castrum Somniī Aureī – “True name of the Gran Castillo, one seemingly unknown to even the servants of it. Jealously protected by the Alchemaster, misusing the name is death.”


Near and the Nigh – “Yet another name for the Viscous Veil. As something that defies explanation, perhaps giving it a name is the first step to pinning it down?”



Chapter 38         Table of Contents          Chapter 40