Take Up the Cross – Chapter 44: An Elf’s Use

Surveying the aftermath, innumerable questions race through Adris’ mind as he shakes off the battle high. Only with the submission of the last spider does his heart unbind. With it, the observers in the dark grant their remaining thoughts, the hallway rushing with the growing power waiting to be gifted in victory.


Freed of this feeling of finality, his body gains a buzzing of strength in his warmed up muscles, though he can move no better with it.

A moment later, it vanishes into only a lingering presence.


(What happened? At least my own battle prowess is unchanged.)


Jumping into the fray, Adris felt only more empowered to fight after the darkness struck. With his trained body and cross’ gifts still proven effective, he felt like he could take on even this foe.


(Probably no more than one, though, if truly that; yet, I felt this itch after hitting the spider on the ground, like I wanted to move to the next?)


Looking around at the scene, he decides to concentrate on the girls’ efforts.


(Still makes sense. Smooth acting, pure speed and finesse, and magic that seems to punish those who show her ill intent? She’s an effective fighter, even if she doesn’t seem trained with her own weapons. But Kol?)


The wolfish girl called a “kobold” (SUBTERRANEAN SCALED WOLF-THING) now possesses a power he can’t divine. Growing in strength as the enemy lost their will to fight, this miasma leaking from her has finally stopped. Even if her body was pummeled and her armor grows more worn with new splits in the rings, the laughing girl’s spirits are undamped.

Moving to check her wounds, she clicks her tongue when Adris feels the skin of her furred wrists.


“Boss, ‘annoying’! Help gather coin! Kol, fine!”


(You are, which is the scary part. They certainly appeared venomous.)


Though likely poisoned, the girl’s body temperature, while still high, is normal for her going by their shared night together.


“Would this power you express be one you acquired after…?”

“Hm? Kakaka! Kol, strongest because Boss! Puddle say, ‘not agree with Boss unless strong’, huh, easy now, right? Kol happy with Boss’ tribute!”

Patting Adris on the back and lurching him forward, the proud girl shares the girls’ private conversations.


(Went out of your way to coordinate with a girl you hate, Still? … HAH!?)


Freezing, a feeling on Adris’ butt goes with his head slowly turning.


At his side is a sexually active girl inspecting his body while her hand absentmindedly grabs onto his ass. Tail slowly moving as she takes him in, she then becomes aware of his gaze.

“… Ah? Not enough, win? Hm…? But, Kol sure now after spiders: Kol, pay nothing with Boss! Only go up, not down! Perfect!”

Removing her touch only with effort, she departs with an ecstatic attitude.


(It hasn’t even been two hours and you already want more!? And you mentioned paying again? What does that even refer to?)


Creeping away from her, he finds the other three conversing. Neesiette has a pensive expression while staring at a piece of recovered chitin, while Ave’s shy, depressed self is silently receiving signals from a hooded girl who energetically moves.


{Like I said, no problem~! You covered the ceiling and made that meatsack happy~! No need for wind in a situation like that, so y’know?}

Roughly patting Ave’s shoulder with quick slaps and a shaking hand, Still desperately tries to get a word out of her.

“… Um, but… it’s just… everyone else seems… better…? Everyone got something… but Ave doesn’t feel… any different…?”

With a fake smile, the girl looks ready to cry.


(Oh, that’s horrible. But… there’s no way you didn’t get something. I can’t have failed.)




“No, what you received is simply not apparent, yet.”




Striding into their conversation aggressively, Adris gently takes up Ave’s hand, bringing her surprised attention.

“Avenalliah, in no way are you the same. Until the time comes where your heart opens to what you’ve gained, simply do as you did: the best you can. Your whip was fast and deadly, and your heart was sufficiently full of bravery to stand with your friends. Remember who you have gained the support of.”

Flinching at this order, Ave still looks doubtful as she frowns.

“… There’s no fault in being unsure of abilities untested, right Still?”

Appealing to the girl who contributed much more, Adris knows an idol can heal what he can’t if prompted to.

{Like this guy said, you stood and didn’t run. You’re a good… friend. I’m gonna call it a win, no matter how it happened~. If you act like you did something wrong, won’t it sour the mood, eh?}

Stroking her hair with a shivering touch and a gay smile on her mask, Still finally moves off to stand before Neesiette and inspect the chitin.

“AH!? … Yes! We won! I’m glad… I could help.”


Relaxing finally, Ave gives a slight, but sincere, smile before blushing heavily. Looking down, Adris slowly lets her hand go when her eyes start flicking between his face and this touch.

“K-K-Kol, I’ll go… help!?”


Slithering past Adris in a rush, the green beauty…


“Elf, be useful! Count!”

Immediately gets bossed around.

Watching the two play, he feels a strange outward calmness.


Joining with the brain trust of the group, their looks are just as muted as his when they can finally share information.


“That was far easier than you expected, wasn’t it?”

At Adris’ question, Still moves swiftly, sarcastic gestures easily assigning blame.

{That’s not the sort of question the reason for it asks, right?}


(I don’t know what that darkness was, either. But I must pretend I do!)


With their eyes on the cross at his belt, Adris smiles darkly.

“As I said, you will be impressed by my power. Or will you claim that my investiture was lacking, Still?”


Shrugging, she then becomes far more friendly, launching into whimsical movements.

{If you did one good thing with your life so far, pleasing me is it~. Write that on your grave~! No, I’m more than satisfied with what I got. Look forward to me showing you a bit of what this girl can do, eh?}

Putting her hand to the small of his back, her light touch shocks both Adris and Neesiette.

{You got any more of the juice you were throwing around in the chapel, send it my way and I’ll make sure it’s not wasted~!}


(Was it really that good!? You… you’re hiding some things, are you? I need to check you out with Rantil!)


Neesiette begins speaking as Adris is at a loss as to what to say next.

“Of investiture, Kol’s gain be obvious now, while an iguana’s be not. Of the two, Kol’s be the only relevant reveal, so an iguana’s continued uselessness may be overlooked and her opinion on worth of our venture discounted.”

Handing the chitin over to Adris to inspect, Neesiette then points to herself.

“This lady gained quite sufficiently. A firmer grasp of the nature of Art in relation to entropy be understood, such that a rod has gained improvement. With only two gems remaining, such a boost in efficiency proves fortuitous. Of the nature of [earth], insight be said to be… total regarding an [element] that relates to this lady’s pertinent interests in an unforeseen manner.”

With the slightest hint of a smile, Neesiette approves of Adris.

“One’s promises be fulfilled, as was indicated. Worry not about them. ‘Look forward to future demonstrations’, as was spoken by another.”


{But about your question of it being “easy”, then Neesiette and I have the same opinion: we shouldn’t have won.}


(Right? That’s obvious.)


As cruel as that statement is, Adris knew the difference in power when those spiders first rounded the corner. A blinding golden shine could be felt with his senses, the hallway instantly becoming their domain.

Only when the darkness assaulted them did it diminish.


“Gilded Ctenidae refuse easy vanquishing, if one believes rumors. Fending both Kol and Still’s attacks in totality should be expected, as such monsters focus on nullifying unenhanced weapons with magical gilding. Even this lady’s rod should cause no more than an itch. Far more challenging than it be permissible for victory to be grasped over, they are mythical opponents from the higher tiers in both Talents and Aptitudes.”

Neesiette lightly strokes the black cross, making Adris jealous of the attention.

“This group be admittedly far below the level of most competent slayers, even if prone to occasionally unpredictable prowess. The potential of Adris fehl Dain be the only explanation, knowing the power of us as we’ve shared with one another. The limits of one’s power should be explained… no, it would seem best to say ‘when it can be’?”


Thinking of the reason as he inspects his own tool, Adris arrives at it.


(… An impossible outcome was made possible. Is that not what… I’ve…)




What you’ve always wanted, should you not have it?”




Hand to his head, Adris’ throbbing brain recalls a prior meeting with some new specificity.




The curtains that made up that whole world nearly ripped with the multitudes trying to get to him at the end. Angry and also greedy, what was promised to him by the Veil thoroughly incensed their wild, cancerous selves.




Held up by another, she makes joking, but worried, gestures.

{If you keep passing out, it’s going to be impossible to feel any sense of wonder from you~…}

Moving to the most subtle gestures she can make, she continues.

{… I doubt we can do this without you. Are you going to make it?}


Nodding his head, she relaxes her grip.


(Granting us easy victory? No way. This power, even if I don’t know how it works, the effect is the obvious part. What it did was… make victory plausible. There’s no way there’s not bigger problems waiting in the bushes!

… I wish I could recall everything that happened in the chapel! I can’t even ask what happened, other than to think that the reality they experienced is falser than the one I did.)


Until Adris understands the nuances of this boon, he can’t help but feel terror at the hidden, true nature of it.


(Winning without knowing why makes me feel like a failure! If I don’t understand this power soon, I might doom us all! Do I even have a choice if I use it or not? It invoked itself!)


Worse than that is the tightness he remembers, his whole life feeling shorter.


(… With Kol and with the spiders, was… my life on the line, too, the moment someone challenged me!?)


“They found you? The premier skulker of the Castillo?”

Throwing the conversation off of himself, Still withdraws her arms to herself in sadness, but the gestures that come after don’t seem insulted.

{Certain creatures are simply not fooled. Of those, spiders rank highly. A spider of a tier of danger I shouldn’t be hunting? Pretty easy to find me~.}


(Thinking that spiders are an enemy, does this fit in with the carnality I’ve seen…?)


“It’s odd for a spider to be an enemy, considering the theme of the Castillo?”

Smiling a bit, he loses it when Still’s hand slowly sweeps over her face, revealing a stern mouth.

{What is odd about spiders? Since you seem to be misunderstanding, we were just cornered by an enemy that, if we had lost, would now be… finding a place to deposit eggs.}




He controls his expression as best he can, leaving him only able to make a blank face.


(That’s… outrageous. Even beasts are used as such? No, the imp mentioned… “puppies.”)


Shaking her head, Still claps him on the shoulder.

{Partner, you lack fundamental information. Reign in Kol, quickly, or all of us are in trouble if she keeps…}

Stopping with that, Neesiette and Still begin discussing the finer points of the battle as Adris stays silent.


(If I ever let them lose, I know what will happen. That entrapping feeling as well…)


Not even once can they lose.

He is stuck on a path of no deescalation.


While staring at the chitin he still holds, he thinks of what could’ve happened.


(They fought… well enough, right? No, that’s wrong! This was a straight hallway! There’s no way that defense wouldn’t be on our side with Kol at the front! Even being granted a leg up with the cross, we could’ve been overrun at any time if someone screwed up!


I need… plans.

I need many contingencies!)




While the rest of the party either talks or plays with the rewards, a boy’s mind races with the burdens placed upon him. As the only one who knows the full story, he alone can fix this.





Passages further on proved just as tortured, but not all were death traps. Like the Castillo of memory, these rooms offered rewards for victory in the same vein as the room of dancers with the solar brazier. If one simply chose to pass them up, they would not accost travelers.




“What is it~!? Nobody said there was something like- GYAH!”


A screaming boy with black wings and tar-like clothing explodes into the air, a shockwave of energy scooping him up from behind. Carried by it into a wall, the imp’s impact knocks over suits of armor, while pieces of the floor follow along to crush him.


A trench is dug up from the path of the wave.




At the start of this devastation to the entire corridor stands a woman at an intersection. A frilled cap bearing the Alchemaster’s sigil rests on perfectly sculpted tresses, while her pristine and divine facial features show no tension even in combat.

Her frilled servant’s uniform, much like what the Alchemaster’s minions wore on the upper floors, bears important differences: there is no damage, nor imperfections, to it; and, she wears silvered half-plate, with the entirety of the uniform embroidered with gilded thread. In many more places, her succulent flesh shows through with elegant lace wrapped around it.

A hammer made of shifting silver is hovering in a great hole where the force of its impact dissolved the ground. Air shimmers and waves around it, with residual arcs of energy lashing at the walls and causing the sky-blue ribbons wrapped around her arms to flap wildly.


“If you don’t know better, then consider immediately surrendering yourself and your white gift, boy. Why suffer unneeded discomfort, when only pleasure awaits…?”


This white-skinned woman with equally stark hair and red eyes licks her lips, before the hammer flows back to her arm like water to become contoured armor encasing it. Seductively walking up to her prey, she exposes her bare thighs as she leans over, while her voluminous breasts strain against the thin cloth at the top. Hoisting the broken creature, the sexual hunger leaking from her far exceeds even a horny imp.


Enraptured as she is in this moment, she suddenly turns to stare back at the intersection. Eyes narrowing, she contemplates briefly before relaxing, turning to her right with grace and trooping down an adjoining hall while carrying her prey.


When her footsteps finally fade…


“An impossible presence this personal servant, for all should be sealed as unmoving statues bound to the front foyer.”

Neesiette’s hands creep out to grip on the corner as she stares around, her fascinated violet eyes locked on the spot where it departed.

“These homunculi of unassailable power, said to be of personal make by the Alchemaster, once terrified whole nations. Producing an inauspicious future for Petripolis they do, if freed they have become. How mystifyingly decadent its construction be…”


(Was wondering where I recognized her from! Stop sounding so obsessed!)


With only Kol and Neesiette refusing to be shaken, even Adris’ skin feels clammy in the awe-inspiring presence of this battle maiden. Being mangled by Kol as a hand clamps over her mouth, Ave’s eyes can see nothing as she desperately tries to flee.

The sight of the green elf being wrestled by the rust-red and black Kol is the strange proof that Adris is still alive.


{We’re absolutely not going that way. If you try to wander off, I’ll carry you.}

Pulling back Neesiette when the doll girl absentmindedly tries to pursue, Adris finds the midget sage’s face to be purely reverent.

“The construction must be examined. Does one not see the wondrous nature of her weaving? Though not Art, be it surprisingly advanced…? … Release this lady, Still.”

Held almost upside down, Neesiette kicks without strength as Still makes a sighing pose.


“Then… which way? Does this corridor look important?”

With Still as his remaining ally, Adris tries to return to exploring. Bobbing her head left and right, Still finally nods.

Handing off Neesiette for Adris to hold, Still makes a folding hand gesture and points to the ground, before noting the parchment with red, strange text nearby that has hidden them.

{Don’t leave the area. And don’t let that absolute moron off her chain like with the doggies!}

Letting Kol see these gestures, the armored girl growls in response.


Creeping into the corridor, she moves down the direction that the homunculus destroyer entered from.


(We’ve already had to run once…)


Adris found, to his immense relief, that willingly leaving a fight before choosing to engage it enabled one to avoid the cross’ “boon”.


(Kol was not…)


Even while she grips an elf who is slowly losing strength, Kol is eying her “boss”.


“… As was stated, to engage a foe without gaining benefit from it is an unworthy venture.”

“Why ‘unworthy’!? Twenty-four coins from spiders! More, from them!”


(“Them” being the horde of jackalmen!? Maybe if you want to get raped by an entire line of men after being beaten!)


Crossing over a bridge between jutting, towering sections of the Castillo, they’d been set upon by a slobbering, half-naked horde of jackalmen demi-humans wearing torn aristocratic jackets and blue-gold neckties. More beast than man, Kol had demanded they stand at the bridge and fight them, but Neesiette had thrown up a barrier to cordon it off while they fled.

The jackalwomen wearing ripped, revealing ball-room gowns had been eying Adris quite closely. One had even tried to climb the pulsating green field, the desperation in her eyes haunting him, even if he knows she met her end after being repulsed into the darkness below the bridge.


(Everything in this mansion wants to mount you!)


“There was insufficiently tight enough a space to force a defensive line, Kol. The enemy could’ve easily flanked you. We’re leaving, not hunting. Time spent here is valueless, now.”

Still holding Neesiette, she hasn’t returned to sanity, as shown by her hand still reaching for around the corner. Looking to Ave for help…


“Let go of her! She can’t breathe!”


Kol’s hand is over a straining face, with Ave’s own clinging to Kol’s helmet. Eyes rolling back, Ave’s hand loses power by the moment. Adris points and makes a motion to let go, causing the armored girl to finally release the elf.




Throwing herself at Adris, the elf tastes air. Crushed by Ave as he holds Neesiette to the side in bondage, his skin heats up at the closeness of his female compatriots.


“Why were you suffocating her!?”

“HAH? Boss say, ‘no sound’! Elf, make no sound! Kol, do job!”

An indignant Kol hisses back, pointing at Ave. A moment later, her voice sounds complicated.

“Kol, feel weird, Elf scared? Make strong, too? Not strong as her, Kol not want fight. Woman, too strong.” Looking back to Adris, Kol makes a clicking noise while tapping her helmet.

“No, Boss, probably stronger. Not want fight?”


(No, I don’t want to be smashed into little pieces before I even see outside.)


“… Until we’re able to coordinate tactics, we should avoid engaging powerful targets, especially those directly subordinate to the Alchemaster. … Hm?”

Feeling someone patting him, Adris releases Neesiette when the girl offers him cold eyes. Huffing after smoothing her dress…


“This lady requires no embrace. Perhaps a boy misunderstood?”


(You were the one that was flitting toward the flame like a moth!)


Letting go of the shrinking Ave when she too recovers, Adris sighs while creeping to the intersection.

Upon reaching it, he looks right to check the path of the maid, before looking left…




Only a foot from his face is a soundless mask with a shit-eating grin.


Restraining from punching her, Adris swears in his mind as Still’s hand creeps up to her face like she’s laughing into it.


“… And what of the path?”

Quick motions, hidden from the others, give him an answer he cringes at.

{Deathtrap. Pretty potent one. Which is a shame, because it looks like a major hallway. The kind that rarely exists, directly leading between named areas.}


(So close, yet always so far.)


Arms folded again, he considers his options… until Still pokes his cheek, causing him to flinch this time.


{Why so glum? Oh, right. You don’t know about this feature. Pay attention, we’ve been… keeping something from you until we thought you were ready to understand~.}

Still pulls something from her belt, a silver brooch of a flower that she trots up to the supine Ave to display to.

{Ave, Ave, look~. I found something from up ahead! I need you to go identify a trove of elvish artifacts!}


While holding the silver curio up to the tired elf’s eyes, Still maintains her distance. As if life is breathed back into her in an instant, Ave snatches the brooch and rises from the ground. Dancing, or rather slithering, around in joy, she starts babbling.


“Ehhhh! It’s elvish, it is! Post Third War of the Three! Hm? It’s a bit bland?” Squinting her eyes, Ave starts moving toward the intersection. “And there’s more!? Even if it’s bland, it’s unmistakably elvish~! Though, I wish it were older… I always wonder why the recent elvish arts are all so terribly unaesthetic? Still, remember that piece I showed you last week from…?”

Trailed by Still, Ave enthusiastically points out details about the brooch she finds distasteful as they move down the hallway.




Mouth open, Adris realizes that Ave is being lead straight for the slaughter.


“… Still… you-! Huh?”


Grabbed by his hand, Adris looks down to see Neesiette putting a finger to her mouth.


“… Kol? The feeling of power and authority of the talking gecko, give what quantification to it would one?” Looking toward the approaching Kol, Neesiette asks a strange question.

“Nn? Oh, Elf? After big dark and weird ‘chapel’, Elf pretty strong. Strong now? Yep.”

Contemplating it, Kol seems to reach an epiphany.

“Oh, right, using Elf? Ah, be fine this time. Kol, get ahead!”


Stomping out into the hallway, Kol follows the two chatty girls.


“What does Ave’s strength have to do with this?”

Led out into the hallway by Neesiette, Adris’ question is countered by one of hers.

“… A conversation on lessons of gentlemanliness, remembered by one, Adris?”


(Of course, how could I forget your desire to instruct me?)


“Yes, though…” Looking to her hand, Adris smiles as if she’s proved it unnecessary.

“A lady’s grasp of a man be at her discretion. Of a gentleman’s grasp to a lady, be this not the relevant dynamic?”

“Then my answer is ready, so long as you tell me what’s going on.”

Nodding at this condition, Adris relaxes.


“As you have already touched me a number of times of your own volition, the answer is quite easy: ‘the appropriate time to touch a lady is when she shows, by her actions and inclinations, that she desires to be touched’. Is that not correct?”

Beaming at her, Adris feels a little smug.


(Observation is my specialty, Neesiette. You’ll find that I’m…)




“6/10, a rating as such will be issued.”

The impassive beauty grades him with a soft voice.




(Bullshit! That was absolutely correct!)


Preventing himself from ripping his hand free in anger, Adris walks along with her while stewing in silence.


“Technical aspects of one’s answer be correct in form, yet not in explaining motivation. ‘It is appropriate to touch a lady when the time spent with her demonstrates her nature and desires, such that the desire to be touched need never be vocalized in order to be fulfilled’, as stated, this be a more accurate outlook on a lady’s wishes concerning closeness with a gentleman.”


(Oh, I forgot. Women are like this. It’s not logic that satisfies, it’s emotion. Whatever validates and justifies her whims is “correct”. Even if it makes no sense… no, especially if it’s illogical. Get it together, Adris. This was simple. Just understand what they feel, not what they want.)


A cold woman who desired emotional interactions, but only on her own terms, trained Adris for understanding when and what the “correct” thing to say or do is with females.


(Most of the time…? Kol wants pleasure she can win from others, proving it’s “hers” as a part of the experience. Ave wants validation before all else, becoming depressingly lost if she can’t find it from those she respects. Still wants a dangerous sort of song and dance, a naughty lady with capricious seductions who plays tricks on me to raise the stakes and get a rise. But Neesiette… is more like…)


“… As one has demonstrated his attentions and understandings quite succinctly historically, such an answer reflects what was not properly voiced, even if likely known. As such… fundamentally lacking as it may be, ‘correct’ shall be applied to one’s answer. Congratulations.”

Looking up after stopping walking, a faint smile is given by a girl who often seems ripped from a dream.


“Within a boy named Adris the germ of a gentleman lies.”




(… Stop making me forgive you with just a smile. Neesiette is an “instructor”. She needs to be fulfilled by others needing to be “fixed” by her. What a strange obsession. … Maybe I really will let you “teach” me?)


Despite being embarrassed by his grade, Adris can’t help but be pulled into her flow. The girl at his side is the type that can be effortlessly swept up if he chose to. Though not attracted to shorter women, the idea of being able to trap her as she protests has a sadistic, joking pleasure to it.


(I want to see you flailing ineffectually as I feel your dress ruffle. Maybe steal a kiss from petulant lips. Being in this mysterious, but imperious, persona is sometimes annoying. It doesn’t let me tease you except with words, but I won’t always get your pleasant reactions with tongue alone. No, perhaps tongue might accomplish it~?)




“Hm, it’s up ahead, right? But I don’t see any rooms down the hall?”

He hears a honeyed voice showing confusion.


(AH! She’s still…!)




“Put into practice, know by observation what a gentleman’s spirit should unconsciously notice?”

The elegantly dressed girl waits by his side, refusing to let go.

Her lips purse a bit as her violet eyes stare into his.


(Just use words!)


Holding back a sigh, he reaches down to pull her tome up and put it around his shoulder. Afterward, he elegantly scoops up the precocious brat who presumes to be his mentor. Holding her in a princess carry, he smiles handsomely, for this beauty has deigned to be carried by the beast she once abhorred.


(In the end, who surrenders to who, Neesiette? With me holding you, aren’t I the one-)


“Unpracticed technique, but superb motion. 7/10, be considered high marks for an amateur gentleman such as you.”


(I will punt you!)


“Why are you putting her in danger?”

Adris feels compelled to try to help Ave, an odd sensation for the normally practical boy. More than intervening to protect his interests, there is an obsession with the dancing elf that eats into his heart the longer he refuses to act.

“Enraptured by her draw, like many others this lizard has ensnared one. For perceived helplessness one seeks to act, be this not the explanation?”

Cradling the girl in his arms tighter, Adris realizes that she’s explained everything spiritually attacking him since the study room.

“I see. I’m being brainwashed.”

Shaking her head once, Neesiette grimaces at the word.

“Nay, of effects of her gifts, said it could be that she simply brings… ‘joy’ to others nearby. To protect joy be understandably difficult to dissuade. Adris…”

A hand going to his face, Neesiette demands his utmost attention.


“With open eyes and mind, understand us. Until each detail be grasped firmly, think not poorly of methods utilized. A boy such as the one allowed to hold this lady, one who shows both wit and wisdom, can now peek at how we function, but only if willing to let go of preconceived notions you be.”


(… You’re going to sacrifice her…!)


Throat tight, Adris watches as Still leads Ave to a spot that stands out between four large pillars. Though still urged to act with a fever pitch, he silences his muscles completely.


(If this wasn’t normal for them, they wouldn’t be this close, since they’ve done this before! What about Ave makes this a solution!? … Wait, how has this witless girl survived?)


With growing doubts, he watches Still fall back from Ave just like with Neesiette’s betrayal.

As Ave crosses an invisible threshold…




Be prepared to run, with as much energy as one utilizes to comprehend us, Adris.”

Neesiette’s final words before she clutches him to secure herself are certainly alarming.




“And if you look at the lines, you can see that whoever made this has no idea how to properly guide wind spirits to produce gentle curves. Who do they think they are, claiming to be an elf with a piece of art this shoddy!? Oh, I can’t even imagine how young they must, ah! It-”


As Ave slithers forward while waving her arms in frustration, she sinks into a depression in the ground with a clicking sound.


“- click?”


Mimicking the sound, she produces a further springing noise while dumbly blinking, still sinking into the floor.




With a whishing alert, blades on long metal poles curve toward her from the opening walls.







Name: Adris fehl Dain, “Boss”
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 – 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…?”



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?”


“Giving yourself to this wolfish girl, are you okay with the monstrous features? Why do I sense that they are positives for you?”

“Having experienced only a taste of her bottomless hunger, is yours the equal? Would it be strange to think that it might be?”

“No longer allowed to sexually assault an imp, where will you find relief? Are you going back to the girl who almost broke you?”

“How does it feel? Being the leader of someone again? This thrill of combat, where beauties leap at your command? If anything, isn’t this the true Adris?”

“Even a boy like you can provide a handsome image while in the middle of combat, yes?”



“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’?”


“The first test of Adris’ new life is… of course proving his ability to ‘help’ his teammates. Luckily for Adris, he seems to have recovered some of that old spirit.”

“Letting go, he rediscovers how to bond with another physically, but at great cost of life and limb.”

“Upon receiving a new life, he realizes how difficult it is to make sense of it.”

“Going from an easy time to the worst nightmare available, the Castillo is no longer allowed to be a simple place.”

“Presenting a new force, Adris’ gifts keep mystifying him, even as they seem to diminish.”



“While not a natural leader, you can usually goad people into doing something when pressed.”



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


Occupation: Delver, Frontliner
Discipline: ???




[Invisible Edge] – “Kol, feel like blade stronger when they know it!”


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


[Unknown Aura of Dread] – “Stronger? Stronger… good.”


[Bulwark] – “Nobody get by Kol… ever. All belong, Kol!”


Disposition: Straightforward / Confrontational / Respectful
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Pink
Hair: White
Skin: Tanned



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Strength – C

Vitality – C

Dexterity – E

Agility – F

Intelligence – F

Mentality – C




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…?”


“Having seen her true self, are you disappointed? While not the same level of beauty as Neesiette and lacking the elegant innocence of Ave, Kol is much more womanly in her own way, isn’t she?”

“The fact that she is beautiful… doesn’t it have little to do with how sacrificial you might be forced to become to obtain it?”

“No longer beautiful, she has returned to being rusted steel, correct? Just like the fairytales, your princess has turned back into the frog… or do I have them backwards?”

“As long as she’s your barrier between you and the world, isn’t she perfect?”



“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.”


“Because she believes ‘might makes right’ in her own way, she seems ready to also assume that ‘strong makes pleasurable’.”

“Because strength and pleasure are often together, she has learned nothing from the experience other than believing Adris possesses both.”

“In the end, Kol is what she chooses to be, in both the bedroom and the battlefield.”

“You can’t stop a titan.”



“While not a total idiot, she’s one-track minded to the point that it’s hard to bring her around to your thinking.”



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


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




[“Reprisal Strike”] – {You had it coming, deciding you could oppose me and walk away from it.}


[“Surprising Agility”] – {Is it honestly surprising by now? Walls are just another surface~!}


Disposition: Playful / Sadistic / Skulking
Alignment: Chaotic

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



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Strength – E

Dexterity – C

Agility – C

Intelligence – 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?”


“Being spared thoughts of your survival being a good thing, if Still spared you after recognizing what you were doing, then perhaps she is beautiful underneath, too?”

“A girl who goes out of her way to reinforce her allure, isn’t she a fine woman?”

“And still you exuberantly bask in it, don’t you?”

“Being deadly is its own form of appeal, correct? If a woman is confident, then doesn’t that mean you need to find new ways of reassuring her?”



“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.”


“A girl that can recognize something going wrong, the fact that Adris was allowed to remain with the four means that she has a plan, doesn’t it?”

“Helping Adris, it cannot be said whether this is a plot of her own or a genuine willingness to let bygones be bygones.”

“If Kol is the right hand, then perhaps…?”

“The one you can most rely upon is usually the hardest to deal with in other cases.”



“Maybe she’s too much of a trickster?”



Name: Neesiette vera Luna
Titles: “Moon”
Race: Lunamata
Sex: Female
Age: ???

Occupation: Delver, Mystic
Discipline: ???



[Rod of Force] – “In what way would it be changed? As designed, so shall it function, correct?”


[“Brings An End”] – “Would the title not signify its use?”


Disposition: Impassive / Calculating / Curious
Alignment: Ordered

Eyes: Pale Violet
Hair: Amber
Skin: Pale White



Rantil Value –

Strength – F

Agility – E

Intelligence – B

Mentality – C




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?”


“The first thing you do is hug another young girl (in appearance)? Is this becoming an illness?”

“Abandoned as you were by her, does that cause you to feel more or less attracted? Not receiving her attention… does that entice you to try harder?”

“Still interrupting you whenever she can, maybe you should yield more to her to benefit?”

“Oddly enough, she seems just as prone to obsession as the rest, yes?”



“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…?”


“Once she accepts someone, she is capable of gifting kindness. To offer to take care of Adris, that is more kindness than a man like him deserves.”

“Accepting someone isn’t the same as letting their weaknesses be forgiven without end.”

“The one most affected by what transpired so far, Adris has cost himself his most useful tool by choosing to insult the Origin of Greed.”

“Even if she’s diminished, she is still a girl who prides herself on her utility.”



“Mature and patient women are a rarity.”




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

Occupation: Delver, Scared Girl
Discipline: ???



[“Sylvan Calling”] – “The spirits play when they want to! … They really do! Why are you looking at me like that!?”


[Preternatural Strikes] – “Um, I’ve always been pretty good with a whip? Elves use a lot of weapons! I just like… my whip…?”


[Monstrous Strength] – “EH!? Why is it monstrous!? Elves aren’t monsters!]


[“Unknown Angel”] – “Ave doesn’t feel especially blessed…”


Disposition: Joyful / Impressionable / Cowardly
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Crystal Green
Hair: Moss Green
Skin: White



Rantil Value –

Strength – C

Vitality – D

Dexterity – C

Intelligence – C

Mentality – F

Luck – A

Charisma – C




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?”


“To be scared of the armored girl’s sexual antagonism, would the pieces as to ‘why’ not be able to be lined up, now?”

“In the end, she is still a cute girl, yes? Listening to her sleep before you went out yourself, is this the sort of girl that you could grow to cherish?”

“Isn’t a girl desperate to prove herself a little sad? Or maybe it will appeal to you where no other sympathies would?”

“As long as you have hope, won’t you aspire to be more than you are?”



“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?”


“While saying nothing, her body language accurately conveys how much danger Adris is in.”

“Wanting to be helpful… is still far from being so.”

“But even if she’s not the best, she will join in a fight, it seems. Working together with Kol, it seems that they have mutual training sessions.”

“If a whip is powerful, then that means a weapon with longer reach might always be preferable.”



“Still as awkward as ever.”





Kobold – “Incredibly strong and vital wolf-like creatures that live underground… isn’t something wrong with this?”



Chapter 43         Table of Contents          Chapter 45