Take Up the Cross – Chapter 46: Dance of the Mad Kobolds

With Kol at the lead, the first level of entry into this tiered column of unused cooking areas, stores, and repositories for equipment quickly escalated into a mad rush to beat the alarm trap that began clanking. Turned into their “scout”, her method of accomplishing this task has been as simplistic as it is effective.


Descending to the next floor, the stairs light up with fire ahead of Adris’ steps.


Briefly engulfed in flames blowing in from a stack of of tankards, the indestructible girl that is his “scout” begins patting herself as her black jacket burns brightly. Only after the tankards explode and the junk behind them catches ablaze, then starts rolling to crush her with a great chorus of wooden and metallic noises, does Kol finally act.


“Dumb trap.”


While still on fire, Kol simply charges the collapsing pile, ramming through it with her shoulder and sending burning splinters into Adris’ blocking arms as the debris breaks up.


Left staring in awe, he finds that he’s the only one.


{This is another way we clear traps, when I’m not able to get close enough or… well, you know. Get ready, this is where it’ll probably kick off.}

“Here…? But we can’t even move around…!”

Smirking at the display, Still waves before disappearing into the jungle of hanging kitchen accouterments and utensils, with Ave’s complaints ignored before she gasps and follows. So thick and wobbling that aisles of travel can disappear in moments from view, this is a repeat of a year of nightmares after that deathly place on Xin was escaped from.


(Zero visibility! We get them or they get us, no other outcome!)


“Neesiette, explain their dangers. Aside from traps. Quickly.”

Creeping along out of view the opposite way, Adris watches Kol smothering the flames burning on her with a cloth dyed in the Alchemaster’s colors, before continuing down the main path without a care. While her hands look singed, no black Vigor leaks from her wounds, indicating she simply shrugged it off.

“Kobolds, of unknown numbers. Physically weak. Somewhat agile, though of easy vanquishing. Devious regarding tactics and application of numbers. When first encountered, primary weapons be slings, bows, and one with a projectile launcher of unknown make, combined with the supremacy of their vantage points. Secondary weapons be sharp cooking knives of Castillo construction, capable of causing immense harm, though wielded inexpertly given their mentalities…”

Listening to her soft voice, Adris finds comfort in the information properly conveyed in order of importance.


(Now I see why Still and you get along.)


“… Stay clear of the edge, lest one be raided by those arriving by descending platforms. Complete lack of morale be their strongest deficiency; yet, this information bears a discrepancy, for they seem unusually bent upon harming Kol.”

“Good, then they will be blind to us.”

“Be not ‘good’, for harm to… nevermind. It be no service to reproach sound logic.”

“I… care about Kol, too; however, she is our best weapon.”


With only silence gifted at this, she speaks up once more as they creep toward the center of this column’s tier.


“The one with the projectile tool be considered the leader of the ambushers, but there be at least two more. Wielders of ‘magic’ regarding water and fire, this lady… briefly instructed them when last exiting this area. A much more powerful presence be felt, however, perhaps an unseen-”


Unable to complete her sentence, Adris’ hand stops her moving mouth. Gripping him tighter, he can feel her amp up at the threat he’s indicating.


(Yeah, if I was gonna do it, right there would definitely be the place.)




Completely unaware of the danger, or perhaps aware and not caring, Kol clanks as she moves into a circular area where the hanging and resting clutter of the room parts. Tail twitching, she definitely smells something as she looks around.


“… A warning be issued as such. No matter how much the lingering perfume of Castillo’s waters obscures, a boy named Adris exudes a strong odor, as has been relayed to this lady. Be wary of smell.”

His ears barely detect a voice that should be impossible to make with as quiet as it’s whispered.


(Shit, even if I wipe down sometimes, there’s no way I can mask the smell. I did stop fairly far away…?)


With a grand cake in the form of an enormous castle structure with towers, parapets, and uneven floors at the center she stops at, Kol starts cackling.


“Huh, Stalker? Stupid place. Can’t hit Kol through all this. Not learn better?”


Talking to the racks and pots, Kol looks bored as she stands without a defensive posture. Now that he’s closer, there is a distinctive smell to the area, one that closely matches Kol’s own.

Keen ears cannot pick up the… wolf or doglike person slightly taller than Kol that steps out from around the cake’s back, at least not until he’s seen. Wearing what looks like the remnants of a double-breasted blue jacket, ratty pants, and a blue cloak over which dark gold epaulettes are affixed, the red-furred bearer of a scrap-looking firearm with a wide barrel has a handsome smile.

Flashing enticing hazel eyes full of confidence, this…


(The first thing I smash is your face.)


… handsome kobold with a hood lifting off seems happy to find Kol, ears twitching as they angle out.


“Stalker learned from Kol, so it’s kinda hard for him to do anything the wrong way, yeah? It’d hurt if he did.” A gravelly, baritone voice offers a light quip to the girl who could tear him apart. His face without scars or blemishes beams with both cockiness and open longing.

“If you’re worried about Stalker’s training, why not show him again, pretty Scurry?”

“Huh, Kol, don’t care. Just make it easy, deal with you…”


(“Scurry”? And you know his name? What is going on…?)


Starting forward, this man named Stalker moves impetuously towards her, yet stays just outside of range of her ability to leap at him, as if he is aware of the threat.

Heating up, Adris begins inspecting this scene. The circular layout of the area makes it perfect for a trap, but only in one direction at a time.


(How will it be sprung? They would want coverage for forward and aft if this is a recurring ambush spot, so how?)


Searching his surroundings after reassuring himself that nobody is flanking them, he hopes Still is preparing as the two continue talking.


“Don’t say that. Stalker and Scurry worked together really well.” Smiling while bragging, he raises a clawed hand in a beckoning gesture.

“Chill and Kindle never liked Scurry, but… you know how Stalker feels, right?”

Scoffing at the kindness in his voice, Kol just cracks her shoulders.

“Easy guess, same as always. Stalker see female, not Kol.”


(Shithead. And he knows Kol intimately! If this isn’t only about him, then this is her tribe!)


Finding a sudden barrier in this thicket of loose obstructions, quick eyes check it over. Pointed towards the cake, he notes the hangers and stands in front of it…


“Hey, not fair! Stalker, always knows Scurry is good~.” Almost seductive, this kobold’s attitude contrasts with Kol’s grotesque abruptness. Sauntering up to her slowly, he rubs his hand along the cake, scratching into it where other marks are.

“Stalker has… always respected Scurry. No matter… what she calls herself now, I know the fire Scurry got in her, better than Kindle’s.”

Almost a whisper, the man whips his tail toward her.

“It’s the kinda fire that any man wants, Scurry. Stalker isn’t gonna lie about it, now or then. Always hated liars, even before Scurry did.”


Strangling the cross in his hand, Adris finally discerns their trap when he sees the hangers and shelves can be easily dropped with a rope pull. With that knowledge, he prepares his counter after making gestures to Neesiette, who gets off of his back quietly.


“Scurry never said ‘never’, remember that? Echo already said… if Scurry surrenders, she can come back… under Stalker’s orders~.”

Almost to her, he stops, just out of reach.


Leaning her head back, Kol ponders the question.

“True. Stalker have many mates. Not understand. Kol, never said ‘no’…”


Pointing at him lazily, she then mocks him.


“Because Kol, not need to. Easy way, mate with Kol. Always tell Stalker: ‘Wanna mate? Stop being weak.’

Stalker, problem… still ‘fucking weak’. Stop talking, start doing, coward.”


Veins on his face throbbing momentarily, his smile scrunches. Hazel eyes no longer kind…




“… Fine, have it Scurry’s way. Castillo’s got one rule, after all:


Winner take all!”




A wild call comes from the man that abandons all congeniality and seduction, his face showing naked lust in that instant as his tongue lolls.

Shooting for him when the conversation ends, Kol’s hand is thrust into a cloud of swiftly erupting black smoke when the “Stalker” in front of her explodes.


“Not illusion or magic it be, merely Talent of distraction and movement of a sneak.”


Neesiette’s summary comes a moment early, for with Kol clawing through the cloud and hitting nothing, the trap is sprung.




The circle’s outer junk tumbles down or collapses soon after, revealing two barricades. With perfect crossfire on Kol, numerous red-furred kobolds wearing Castillo uniforms get ready to sling ampules, missiles, or bottles. Others already have their bows drawn, arrows with stabbing utensils for heads on the ends.




“[Obscuring Sonjil]!”


Dropping the junk blind in the same way they did, Adris reveals the barricade he stands behind. Throwing his hand out, a cloud of mist shoots into the area, just as Neesiette’s rod sends a beam out toward Kol.


With the wave of mist sweeping over the ambush, the suddenly terrified attackers lose sight of their target. Screaming bloody murder and crying out in frustration, their ambush is turned back on them.




While improvised arrows and wild ammunition containing incendiary oils impact everywhere in the aftermath, the black cross Adris holds begins to shine in dark as he mounts the barricade to charge to Kol’s aid after Neesiette’s barrier withdraws.

Joining the calls for retreat, a wave of darkness spreads out to consume all.




The horrible tightness on his heart comes back in force.


(What now!?)




Joining with the raving voices of the beyond, numerous golden glows emerge surrounded by darkness within this forest of maddening metallic clanging…


Begin to glow brighter gold.




“No running! Echo said never again! Scurry won’t surrender!? … FINE, EVEN BETTER!”


Like a hateful ghost in the dead of night, a handsome man’s rejection warps into true malice.




“We beat Scurry, Stalker go first! Then… everyone else have her, too, right!? GIVE HER BACK WHAT SHE GAVE US!”

“… Shitty Scurry!”

“Always punish us!”

“Worse than Kindle and Chill!”

“Yeah! Scurry not scary with a dick in her! Kakaka!”


Numerous voices start piping in, fear turning into absolute outrage. A cackling procession of raging kobolds overcome their moment of doubt.




Looking to his glowing cross, Adris sweats while cursing it in his mind.


(Why are they getting more powerful… oh no!?)




With a route guaranteed before, now the easily defeated enemy…






“What!? Nobody gets her firsts but Stalker!”

The mongrel named Stalker tries to assert command, only for the voices to ignore him.




A stampede of wolf things deafens Adris as they move through the collapsed junk.


“Neesiette! Protect Kol! They’ve got only one target!”

Yelling his “advice”, Adris charges out into the fog.


(Ah fuck, I can’t get rid of it!)


Trying to use the dissolve function of his aura tool, it absolutely ignores him. Feeling out with his senses, he knows where the mass of them are.




A screaming voice is lifted, before a slamming sound accompanied by cracks comes out.

Throwing himself in that direction, he runs into something.




“GACK!” An unfamiliar voice screams as he barrels into the short creature by mistake. A swishing sound comes as he jumps back, before another slice is felt headed toward him. Dodging this next blade, he tosses the cross up into the air.

Still unable to see, he follows the slashing whistle with both hands and claps onto the incoming blow.


Muscles tensing, the quivering cutting knife is locked in mid cut as something makes a confused growl.


Pulling the voice toward him as he drags the knife’s wielder, he drives his primed elbow into the thing’s face. Feeling liquid from the blow…


(Ah! I can harm them with my body! Not being able to use weapons, I’d figured my fists would never work!)


Letting his body take over, he drives a fist into the solar plexus of the stunned kobold next, feeling his body grow warmer with the hit.


(Hm!? It’s there! Again!)


Giving himself over to the attacks his body craves, he begins a flurry of punches into the thing’s face and chest as he hears it drop its knife. Cracking with each blow, his hand automatically lifts into the air.




Entering into it, a ringing cross slams into the opponent’s skull.


Giving itself to this mind-eating blow, the creature crumbles to the foggy ground without even a scream.




Flexing with this liberating flurry, Adris feels something returning…


(It’s shit, but I was never incompetent with my fists. I just assumed they’d never work on any of these monsters without aura!)


Almost as if his body is overflowing with that long-lost substance, he begins searching for his next “victim” in this sea of mist which obscures the screams around him.




But he doesn’t have to wait long.


“By Stalker’s order, activate!”

From somewhere in the cloud, an enormous gust of wind blows out, carrying away the mists and launching debris about.




Revealed by this act are a few things.


One is a Vigor-slicked Kol standing in a mass of kobolds trying to stab her with steely knives. Unable to get to her all at once, they are frothing with anger as they keep trying. Numerous broken ones lay at her feet, while she’s abandoned her axe that’s lodged in one and is constantly battering them with her fists.


The next is a blue angel that is currently nakedly creeping toward a man wearing epaulettes and a cloak, with a trail of unconscious and bleeding kobolds behind her. Turning to look at her, this Stalker and Still meet for the first time, with his jaw dropping before he lifts his gun.




An enormous flash booms from the barrel, with kitchen utensils rocketing out towards Still.

Twisting instinctively, the majority of the ammunition sails by her, though the rest buries itself into her thigh and leg.

Yet it’s the dirk that lodges in his eye and erupts with black-and-blue streams of energy that causes the loudest cry.






Yanking the dirk out, he screams as he runs while shedding golden Vigor before vanishing into the forest of clutter. Still rolls to a stop while shuddering.




Lashing at a kobold that charges Still with a knife, Ave’s whip arrives before her, wrapping around the neck of the foe and lifting him into the air to fly away, never to be seen again as the elf puts all her strength into the throw.

Rushing up, Ave begins ripping out the forks and knives lodged inside Still’s flesh.


“It’s okay!? Ave is here!? Why are you getting worse!? HELP! HEALER!? HELP!”


Growing ever more frightened, she attracts the attention of outlier kobolds who growl and charge.




Weeping openly from some once subdued trauma, turquoise explosions are what come to this “rescuer’s” rescue. Sending them flying, Neesiette runs as fast as she can toward the two, clicking her tongue as she sends another flying.


“Recover yourself, snake! As long as one departs quickly, Still be fine! Silver poison has been removed, with no further issues existing!”

Yelling at Ave, Still confirms this by clapping the girl.


“O-Okay!? Adris!”




To the boy dancing between three kobolds, her worry is almost premature. Having chosen him specifically to menace, these three…


“Eh!? Smell good!”

“Hm? … smells like… Scurry.”

“AH!? Shitty human, Scurry mate!? … Good, take him down. Rape him together.”


Attractive looking perhaps, if they weren’t so needy in their depraved hungers, ill-dressed female kobolds flaunt their flesh for Adris’ eyes to distract him from their sharp knives.

Having tasted Kol, he feels nothing for this temptation. Rather, he’s concentrated on the growing feeling in his muscles.


(I can feel it. I can… feel something!?)


Menaced in a triangle, the growling demi-humans prepare to lunge with their weapons.


(… It was… certainly impressive.)


Remembering the interception of a terrible woman in purple, the kick she used was glorious. To the Adris who has ever been self-taught, he longs for…


“Males can breed Scurry! Rather get you-GYAH!”




Jumping at him, the first kobold’s jaw is crushed by a kick that lifts straight off the ground. Shooting up, this imperfect recreation that silences the future rapist is expanded upon by another kick he could do when he had aura.


(… No, I can.)


A power completely dissimilar from aura, but reinforcing him the same way, flows through his muscles. But this is not the only force helping. Kicking off the air itself using his rabbit-won boots’s power, a spin put to his body drives his other leg into the chest of the airborne kobold.

Using the thing as leverage, the two rocket away from each other with a palpable feeling of expanding wind at the blow.


Lifted into the air, Adris gives himself to the rhythm and falls towards the attacker that was moving to strike at his back. With an axe kick, he drops onto the surprised mongrel’s collarbone, plunging all of his weight into it.



Receiving a cracking sound, the knife-wielding monster drops to her knees, before Adris turns to the last one closing on his back. Lunging at the wolfling, the cross goes into the hand outstretched, batting the knife away before coming straight back into a riposte to the fool’s head.




Screaming glass breaks as the surprised attacker drops with blank eyes eternally locked onto Adris.


Spinning around, Adris shuffles to the one on her knees, performing a spinning kick to her head. Falling to the ground, the last twitches.




Breathing after this carnage, Adris’ wide smile is in line with his discovery.


(The cross reactivated something like aura!? That’s amazing! If I can fight with it, I can- OOOOOOOH WHAT!?)


Crashing down all at once, the adrenaline brings muscles that cramp and burn as if he’s been running for days. Stumbling around, Adris has to concentrate on breathing as the escalating feeling of empowerment completely drains with the last blow.


(… AH!? Is this what Kol meant!?)


Believing he’s discovered the “feel tired” part of Kol’s explanation, he watches Kol dealing with the last of her attackers.


Pulping them, the wild girl snorts.


“… After this time, all still… ‘fucking weak’. Hah, Kol, not care. They, not even try.”

Kicking away the last gasping kobold, the bleeding Kol with even more holes in her armor than before moves slowly toward Adris while whistling.


“Boss! Kol saw, Boss fight! Very cool! Knew Boss, strong, not just words!”


(… I’m… dead inside right now. Please try again later.)


Trying to forestall collapse, whatever power he used from Zennia has thoroughly emptied him.


Arriving too, Neesiette inspects Kol’s wounds, giving her a small bottle full of blue liquid to drink.

“Ah!? Kol, not even use… anything big.”


“Why didn’t you… use that big… round swirl of yours…?”


Finding the energy to talk convincingly, Adris wonders at her secret weapon.


“… Hm. Kol, can’t… do big round thing, anymore. Not since big darkness.”


(I took away something!?)




Lamenting this, a pebble hits Adris. Turning to the source, a wounded but still sprightly girl points towards a moving pile.




A wide barrel points out.


Grabbing Neesiette and Ave, he throws them down as Kol turns to the danger.




Coughing after taking the blast head on, she grinds her recovered axe with her hands without even bothering to remove the utensils lodged in her.


“… Stalker, ‘fucking weak’ and also… goner.”

“Try it, stupid Scurry! Stalker, faster than-!”


Even while trying to sound brave, the man that appears is worried.




Fear, Kol.”

With that order, Kol lunges into a swing.




The miasma that has been leaking from Kol this whole time becomes a line that flows towards her prey. With the air that rushes from the swing, something unseen assaults Stalker.

Staggering around, quaking at the knees, Stalker…




“… W-w-w-what… was… that…?”

Falls to the ground, completely unconscious as he foams at the mouth.




(What was that?)


Unable to ask, lest the girl say…


“… Kol, one be safe?”


The twitching kobold doesn’t acknowledge the voice at first, but then she laughs.




“Huh, Kol, fine… right? After all, Echo train them? Kol, better than…”




A great clanging comes from above.


With it, Adris’ sight wavers, the feeling of something other than false aura rushing through. Not magic, this force is…


(The unknown!)


The clanging sounds continue, the binding on Adris’ heart unchanged.


As the four girls crowd around him in apprehension of this sound.




The kobolds on the ground starts rising.

Taking back up their kitchen-born weapons, their growling faces are absent any pain.




Rising from the ground, too, Stalker eyes Kol with a horrendous sneer.


“… ECHO… Kakaka… Scurry, strong… but… with Echo…”


Still bleeding golden Vigor, the kobolds that have been brutally harmed rise like the dead given life.




“HAH!? What Echo do, get this!? Damn fools, surrender to Alchemaster!” Cursing her former tribe, as it appears to Adris now, Kol is finally surprised.


“Alchemaster… give… power… Scurry leave… tribe… have nothing! SCURRY, WRONG!”

Going berserk, Stalker starts loading his gun again with a charge into the barrel, even as a dirk buries into his neck.


“GRAH!? Stalker not care! Stupid, blue, shitty, human, DIE!”

Charging for Still, Stalker pulls out a long knife even as his gun is prepped. Dancing into the fight, Still whips both swords out, deflecting his stab as she tips his gun away from her, forcing it to fire into the air.

Twirling it around, he clubs her with it as she stabs into his stomach, these two flankers giving open combat while his allies surround them.


(They’re closing! We can’t beat all of them! The cross… did something!)


“Adris! Fell magic come from above, not around! Until source be undone, perhaps only a sufficiently powerful blow may truly strike them down!”

With the bell still clanging, the kobolds struck by either a green whip or Nessiette’s bolts fall momentarily before struggling to rise again.


“HIEEE!? They’re undead!? Adris, we can’t fight them!” Ave starts pulling on him to run.

“Undying, lizard, not undead.” As if the distinction matters, Neesiette calmly clarifies while also pulling.




“… Not… Kol’s… fault.”

Completely ignoring this, a rust red golem is instead walking towards the two outfighters in a deathly dogfight.

“Kol, we have to… tactically withdraw!”




An axe is swung.


Seeing it only barely in time, Still leaps over it by reverse somersaulting, the angry air surrounding the edge cleaving into Stalker and sending out waves of golden ichor as he’s flung away.


Rolling out, Still comes up and points her sword at Kol. Shaking it for a moment in anger, Kol is already moving on to the next kobold, planting her axe into his face and earning a scream.




Yelling at an unseen person, Kol begins cackling as she tears up their foes.


“… Shit, support Kol!”

“Adris, we must regroup.”


Neesiette immediately rejects this, even while shielding Kol from rushing attackers with a shaking barrier.


“Kol is too into it! You can’t talk to her once she gets this way!”

Pulling on his jerkin, Ave tries to force Adris to leave.




And the worst thing is the steadily increasing grinding noise that joins with this rush of outraged, zombie kobolds.

Ropes fall from the side in the distance, seen only barely over the tops of the stacks. With more red-furred raiders jumping down screaming, waves of these reinforcements jingle through the scullery forest. By their voices alone, the number of kobolds now on this floor must be in the thirties.


As they join in, the cross’ darkness sprays out again in a wave, with the voices growing angrier as this darkness strikes them.


(Shit! I can’t run! I’ll… die!)


Kol is mowing through enemies that continue to stab when they can, though she tires not a bit.

Joining her is Still, though unwillingly. Swaying between attackers, jumping off of them, and shanking them when they’re distracted, Still accomplishes what Adris could never do with his own agility.


Rolling up next to a surprised foe, she goes to stab into his back…




Before he’s almost dissolved by an axe plowing through him, one which hits Still, too.




“KOL! That’s Still!”




Not even slowing in her mad assault, Kol reaches out to slash a kobold in the face with her sharp claws, before turning and kicking one in the groin so hard he flies back while skidding his face on the floor.

Still rolls to the side, obviously wounded by the blow in some way.


“Ah, we have to do something-!”

“… Once more, this be the conclusion.”


Neesiette’s sad voice distracts Adris for a moment, resulting in…




“GYAH! … Kol, knew it!”


Turning back, Adris is shocked by this…




Openly treacherous attack.


Lunged in as far as she can, Still has two swords plunging into Kol’s back. Bleeding black Vigor from these new wounds, blue and black magic glints from the blades.


Puddle! Show true self! Always… backstabber! KOL, END ‘FOREVER’!”


Swinging around, an axe nearly decapitates Still.

Ducking it and immediately charging in for a glancing blow, Still’s mask bears…




(She’s… absolutely gone.)


The most sadistic expression Adris has ever seen is shown on her porcelain white mask. Part mockery and part sheer bloodthirst, he gets to glimpse a piece of who she is inside without any deception masking it.

Even her body grows more inhuman, twisting without care for anatomy at times to achieve unnatural results with all her concentration given to murdering Kol.




When Still jumps away, an axe plows through a line of surprised kobolds instead.


When Kol moves in to shrug off a stab from a flame-bladed shortsword, Still rolls over her shoulder to avoid being grabbed, plunging the other blade into someone’s face.


In the middle of all this carnage, a private garden of hatred is finally allowed to blossom. All who attempt to intrude must pay in Vigor.






As if to answer her, a stab to pierce Kol’s eyeslit scrapes off her sallet while sending out sparks, the smile on Still’s face deforming further into purely evil revelry. Still stabs Kol in the foot before rolling away from a crushing blow, leading to Kol stomping the ground with her explosive concussion and blasting away all of her other enemies so she can give chase.


While kobolds try to kill them both, they are…




“… Do they… really hate each other that much?”

Sadly asking the question as he turns to flee while carrying Neesiette…


“Perhaps this be their true relationship, despite all attempts to the contrary? This lady cannot say. Ask them, should the chance ever come again.”






While Adris carries one girl, the next slithers in terror, for fifteen slavering kobolds follow behind them with blades shaking in anger. Abandoned by their only physical fighters, Adris has no idea what to do as they flee through the open main aisle.


(To the edge! A platform! Fight one on one! Knock them off the edges!)


Arriving at brilliant strategy, he then thinks of how to accomplish it. Looking to his elf friend, her tears and snotty nose assure him of one thing.


(Ave is no hope. Better to…)


“Ave! Escape into the area and flee, as fast as you can and with all your power! Circle around, and watch for Kol and Still to quit fighting! Try to get them to work together, but don’t get caught!”


“EH!? But… Adris will be alone!”


Briefly thrown off of his logical bent, he feels touched at her willingness to face her fear.


“I’m never alone! I always have my friends! So that friend has to flee, to aid me later! Flee, Ave!”


Yelling something bizarre and incomprehensible…


“… Ave understands! Be safe! GYAAAH!?”


A thrown knife sparks off of Ave’s scales on her tail, prompting her to cry harder as she turns at a ninety degree angle to double back. When a kobold leaps at her, the kobold’s face explodes into golden ichor as she barrels her fist through him. Zooming through gaps in artificial barriers, she returns towards the center of the melee where fires from earlier explosions are starting to spread.




“… To the edge… be it…”

“Apologies, but yes.”




Rushing out to a visible platform, he aims for the column on the other side as his footsteps echo on the steel. The heat tortures him as he exits the protection of the kitchen area, though there is plenty of sweat to evaporate. Carrying this deathly still girl, he gets too far for archers to fire from the edge before turning.

Setting her down, he takes up his cross and flexes his muscles.




The pack of kobolds forced out on the walkway suddenly grow wary. Realizing that they can’t attack but two or three from the front, they then look to the sparking rod that Neesiette whips to point at them.


“… Adris…”

“Hm!? Neesiette, can you handle this?”

“This lady has not had the time to pass along certain information.”

“… Your rod isn’t dead, is it?”

“Such be untrue. No, such information relates to ‘luck’…”


(Luck? Ave isn’t here, we don’t have any of that.)


“… While the presence of a newt be… fortunate in combat…”


Looking around with a paranoid expression, one completely new to Adris’ recognition, Neesiette is searching for enemies that don’t exist.


“… this lady, though she believes not in such things, by herself usually be considered- ah, that be…”




Like lightning, a coil of rope descends from above as she points her rod toward it. Dodging a hastily fired turquoise beam, it wraps up Neesiette, leaving Adris only left to leap at her as she’s reeled upward at high speed.

To the hooting of the kobolds vanishing below, Adris clings to a girl at first, before climbing up to grab onto the rope binding her, unfortunately grinding his crotch into her face as they both rock in flight.




“… this lady be considered… terribly misfortunate.”


(Ah… fuck… me…)




Hoisted up by another crane into the air, he’s now too far to entrust himself to freeing her and dropping safely with aid of the rabbit boots.

Rising quickly, the place they arrive at is unlike the one they just left, appearing to be staffed and with blue fires burning much brighter…







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…?”


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



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?”


“Really? Stealing a kick from me? Aren’t you just the littlest magpie?”



“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’?”


“Ever the consummate warrior (when it suits him), throwing himself into combat against a foe he can bring harm to is liable to brighten his day.”



“No matter how good your plan is, you can’t plan against things you don’t know about.”



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!”


[Fire Resistance?] – “Huh, after big dark, Kol get fire, right? ‘Big deal’, flames!”


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…?”


“All of that anger and confidence, in such a tiny package as it were, do you wonder where it all comes from?”



“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.”


“Losing sight of what she should be doing, the would-be knight is too easily given to throwing herself into her task.”



“None of the heroines are perfect, Kol least of all. If Adris is a piece of work, then obviously they will be, too.”



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

Vitality – 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?”


“How will you view this betrayal, Adris? Is it a betrayal, or simply an accounting long withheld between them?”



“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.”


“Abandoning success for a chance at vengeance, whatever is between Kol and Still appears to be worth more than victory.”



“Right, she’s not a good person, though in her defense… everyone has limits.”



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

Luck – F




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?”


“Despite being filled with something like dread, isn’t it wonderful how she refuses to show it?”



“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…?”


“Unlike the others, Neesiette is absolutely incapable of managing alone. Maybe that’s why she intends to be useful.”



“Not perfect after all, she claims to be made perfectly…?”




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?”


“Fear makes us both feel and appear ugly, doesn’t it? Although, perhaps women can be better thought of for not being perfect? Wouldn’t you not be granted the same courtesy, Adris?”



“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?”


“No matter how frightened Ave is, she always keeps her delusions and cares first and foremost.”



“Not the most competent person, at least she doesn’t run away until everyone else does!”








Chapter 45         Table of Contents          Chapter 47