Take Up the Cross – CH5: Awakening Silver

Adris feels his own body rise up, independent of his will. The cross is before him, hauntingly powerful in his mind, as an image overwhelms his control.


{This woman’s mind is broken, as she licks his feet. Any order the man gives, she obeys without question. She slits her own throat when he commands it.}


Something tries to make him act.

Adris can’t tell what the action is, but it comes to his tongue even as he fights it back.


(So… just use them? If they don’t have a mind, it’s not necessary? What is necessary?)


Things he’s never considered before well up to fight against this logic.


Whatever you do, make sure it takes you to your goal, and not away. Besides, what do you care? You have a future to make. You can’t care about everything along the way…”


(I did that and died, Fatso. Your way of life was pointless. It wasn’t kinder, but I had a better way of living, most days…)


Even if he manipulates others, they still have a chance.

It is something he’s never considered: his games are fair, he can lose, and they are only enjoyable because he struggles for victory. If his prey are drones, it would be worthless.

Even if he ruins others who he thinks deserve it, they still have a chance to change their fate. He respects those who can resist him, even if he hates them for what they stand for.


(What I hate are the ones who just walk over people, people who could never win… Where is the fun in ruling? Won’t I be a monster like Jilahn? What’s the fun in making them cry if they don’t deserve it!?)


What am I? A tool or a partner?


(I don’t know, but at least I loved having a partner who had her own mind.)


Serras wasn’t a good person.

She was one that provokes in him many mixed feelings; but, she was also better as someone who disagreed with him, than she would’ve been as a mindless shell that obeyed.

Even if he manipulated her, she still resisted in her own way, and the contest was what was fun.


What was the point of having her if there was nothing inside?

The passion they’d shared was real. It had to be. That passion would’ve been meaningless without a mind.


(The enslaver is as empty an existence as the enslaved… Whatever our mutual hatreds, as a real person… a genuine one, she was a part of my life…)


And, more than that…


(If it wasn’t her choice, then there’s no point in punishing her!)


Contradictions play out: slightly noble thoughts struggling with much darker ones, doubt and havoc raging across his trained mind.

The struggle rolls into the path of the certain imagery trying to take over, the contradictions warring with its absolute purity of purpose.


The contradictions he feels… feel…




And there’s a feeling of purpose to them…



Another image arrives, quick and shaking.


{Adris holds the cross before him. Where it goes, he follows.}


The image tries to push out all of Adris’ other thoughts.


{The cross is before Adris, as both are on a tall dais. Adris is bowing to it. The people under the dais are legion. They all bow to the cross.}


It rips at his questions, trying to throw them away, to remove all doubts, as it compels him to obey.


A place deep in Adris breaks, a dam that releases an uncontrollable outrage.

This outrage meets the unnamed, alien, powerful feeling that was born with his doubts, bolstering it.

Feelings rise up, unspoken to anyone for nearly thirty years, becoming a weapon against a controlling force.






Adris fehl Dain abandons the role of [Nothing].

Instead, he resolves to discover a new identity.


Adris screams as he attempts to circulate all of his aura, directing it to his arm to intercept the foreign presence and reject it.

With Adris’ lust subsiding, he can think more clearly. He wrestles with this unknown domination, forcing it back, as deep as possible into the place that it comes from, willing it to be gone.


Reciting the cloister’s liturgy against self-possession, a spiritual exercise from his youthful studies designed to prevent one from being manipulated by their own out of control mentality, he tries a last ditch effort to clear his soul.

Mind and body both burn alive with the thing’s arrogance lashing back at him.


An image appears, before it’s ripped away.


{Adris is being killed, holding onto the cross as he bleeds out, all around him are butchering him…}


The image recedes with great anger.

Something within his mind snaps loose, the external presence forced out as it claws at his soul to remain.


Adris vomits dark blood, suddenly, and falls to his side.

He lays on the stone table, drained.



Before he passes out, he hears whispers, laughing at…





Adris lays still for a time after his climax. It has been a while, so the feeling, mixed with a suddenly intense headache, is overwhelming.


(What happened?)


The boy experiences a brief collapse of his memory, only the assault on the woman and the danger of what occurred still fresh in his mind.


(I can’t circulate my aura properly.)


Adris’ aura is even more wrong now, and it does not appear to be recovering with time.

In fact, he currently has less active aura than when he awoke.


But something of himself has returned.

He no longer feels as empty.


The pain of Serras’ betrayal is lessened, somewhat, and this new, hellish world awaits.


(… The one thing I do is endure. Same as always.)


The naked boy sits up on the table, looking around the room openly with the threat vanquished.

Adris realizes that the shells themselves are the source of the blue ambient light filling the space.

His lost height can’t be gauged due to the room’s bizarre dimensions, even while sitting at the table’s edge. Upon hitting the floor with his feet, he is unbalanced, the depraved scholar’s poison still affecting his muscles.


(I need clothes.)


The area contains odd glass vessels, strange spindles, and metal baskets with prongs coming off of them.

What look like familiar mystical character and aura device tools are arrayed everywhere; though, when he pulls a graving chisel out, he discovers it instead functions like a tuning fork.

A hell he finds himself landed in after dying seems oddly…


(Geared towards divining mysteries. Why does hell care about secrets? Isn’t evil all knowing, since it sees our hearts?)


Examining the standing shelves against the wall, Adris finds a familiar pack, last left beside the sarcophagus and seemingly carried with him into the afterlife.

Beside the pack is what’s left of his clothing and the remnants of his spear. The pack has been mildly damaged, but is usable.

Only his traveling cloak is wearable, soaked in his own blood. The spear…


Adris’ abdominal pain briefly resurfaces in this moment.

The memory of his anti-climactic fight against Serras dredges up all of his doubts and self-loathing. He pushes it from his mind, reaching for the scholar’s tools to avert his interest from dark thoughts.

Picking up a pointed tool of some sort, he thrusts it into the bolt catch of the spear head. Luckily, the bolt itself was thoroughly destroyed, coming loose and making it easy to push the remnants out. He applies a great deal of strength, wrenching the spear head free from the shaft.


The head itself is ruined, but still shines rainbow a bit beneath the blackened surface.

(I’m not leaving without something to remember by, and what’s within is still a useful rainbow star.)


He goes to put the cloak around himself, until he notices the smell of his dried blood is pungent.

Looking around, he finds a round, silver case full of some type of white-and-red feathers, as well as ground up powders and herbs nearby. They all have parchment pasted onto them, with hand drawn pictures of animals, plants, rocks, and creatures he doesn’t recognize.

The picture on the outside of the silver tube is a comical looking bird, one on fire.

He pulls out one the various powders, with it smelling of earthen salts, then rubs it on the cloak using a nearby rag until he can’t smell the blood over it. He shakes the whole time, the room quite cold and him still naked, the saliva of the female pig making his condition worse as it evaporates.


Affixing his clothing, he notes that the items here look expensive. He stuffs the better looking ones into his pack.


(If hell values things, then valuables are a start for survival. Now, I need to escape.)


He turns to look at the bare wall he noticed earlier. Stuck in the wall beside it is a metal dome, with crystals vertically piercing through it. He thinks to touch it, then decides not to.


(The Solar Ire sect had a similar contraption, one which only responded to aura circulated using their special vitality.)


At first considering breaking it with the cross he holds, he instead turns to the woman who is still passed out.


(She’ll be able to open it with something on her.)


He walks up to and bends down beside the woman, deftly searching through her clothing and along her body.

He finds small, loose papers in her great coat’s pocket, as legible as the parchment on the walls. The information seems to relate to a physical description of him, as well as notations and time-keeping, minutes that dictate her observances of him.



Fufu, Mister Meat is muscled, yet lean. His weight is 0.64 stones (BODY WEIGHT) under the expected total for his age. Ridiculous clothing and substandard weaponry indicate a warrior of considerable poverty. My esteemed brilliance anticipates equally substandard intelligence.”


Fighting back the urge to punch the unconscious bitch, Adris pockets the notes in his pack, then continues looking.


(What is a “turn?” Is this a unit of time-keeping? How does “resolution” relate to it?)


Underneath her coat, he finds a sample bandoleer strapped to her left side. There’s only one stoppered vial inside of it, greenish with purple streams coursing actively inside of it. Unsure of the utility of it, he leaves it for the moment.

Grabbing onto her breasts, he checks to see if she’s hiding anything in the small valley between them. His other hand pats her strong-smelling, damp crotch, feeling underneath her skirt and touching her slick lips by mistake, thinking that she could’ve hidden something at the side of…


… but, then he feels something grab onto him.


His eyes dart to his right leg.

Black hair has begun to creep around his leg as he squats, going taut an instant later.


Larger strands wrap around his right arm and his torso, yanking on him.


The gripping hair violently constricts him, leaving him gasping for breath. He directs his fearful focus to the woman lying under him, noticing two, bright purple eyes looking at him beneath the now moving hair.


“You… you vile creature.”


An authoritative and deep voice rises from her throat, full of dignity and rage.

Adris is pulled off the floor, gasping. The woman, still somewhat disheveled, struggles to stand.

When she gets up to look at him, he stares back in frustration, as she tries to clumsily pull her clothing back into a presentable state.


“How dare you! To this enlightened sage, you manhandled my divine ha-GHK!”

The woman goes into a coughing fit, putting her hand to her mouth as she heaves, before hacking up something.


“Huhh…?!” The woman looks down at what she spit out, saliva with a bit of white in it, then back up to Adris.

She tries to put on a strong face, but her pale skin grows red like a tomato.


They quietly examine each other.

The absurdity of the situation is too much for Adris. He feels something let loose, a feeling that this entire comedic tragedy is too much for him to maintain his sanity in without embracing the humor of it.


Adris begins to heartily laugh, as the woman’s face pales.


“Don’t even bother, you sow!” Adris says, smirking at her when she snarls. “After hearing you the whole time, well… that mannered, imperious fake voice of yours doesn’t sound threatening.”

Her face puffing up in rage, she starts shaking.


“You know, you declaring yourself a genius, before slobbering all over my cock like a needy whore, is faaaaaar scarier than being wrapped up in soft hair.”


The woman’s veins pop up on her face as she bares her teeth at him, before she reels Adris in closer.




Adris does the only thing he knows will tip her over and make her lose control.

He sticks out his tongue at the woman, while winking an eye and tilting his head.





The woman screams like a monkey, petulantly choking him with unskilled hands, her eyes two streams of tears.


While Adris begins to choke, his free left hand starts to wind up out of sight, taking advantage of their new closeness.


(I’m going to fry your brains like scrambled eggs.)


As Adris lifts the cross in his left hand to strike her, he feels his aura rush toward it, leaving him more breathless than the woman’s pathetic attempt to strangle him.

An image briefly assaults his mind.


{A man holds a cross. All before the cross bow to-}


Head reeling, Adris shuts his mind’s eye against the image.

Whispers from the shadows join in, as Adris feels something slipping away from him briefly before regaining control.


(What, what… is this?!)


He has no time to ponder it, as he swings the shining silver cross with all of his might, aiming for her head.

The woman, too caught up in her focus on punishing Adris, never sees it coming.



The sound of glass breaking and thunder peeling sounds out as it strikes, and blue light flashes at the point of impact.



The woman shudders and shakes at the strike, Adris feeling it transmit through the strands of her hair, which go slack all at once a moment later.

Her eyes roll back into her head for the third time today, as she immediately collapses like a puppet whose strings are cut.


There’s not even a last word from her as she crumples.


Adris collapses on top of her supple body, as she folds up under him.

Breathing with great pleasure after having no chance to, Adris’ accidentally drools onto the woman’s face as he stares at her.

Though resting on her body, she doesn’t move, even when he pushes off of her breasts in order to get up. Wondering if he has killed her, he puts his hand to her silky smooth neck under her kerchief.

There’s a pulse of life, but no reaction.


Adris looks at the cross he hit her with, then to where he hit her. Lifting up her hair, there’s only a red bruise.

There is a surety of one thing regarding it.


(This fucking thing is the cause of it all. The Emperor’s cross is a cursed aura tool!)


His grip tightens.

Every time his aura flows into the cross, a bizarre benefit arises from it; but, his aura also never returns returns the same way it left, leaving an unknown presence to strengthen in response to the gift.


Adris stalks off from the woman, her face frozen in realization of her own stupidity, as he looks at the potion he pulled out of her bandoleer.

He sees that only half of the potion is still in it. Wanting to know what the potion is, he goes to where the woman was working, his eyes searching the mismanaged documents as he sorts them for her.

They detail formulas he can’t comprehend, even with Fatso’s generous instructions on herbology and toxins.

The surprising part is that, in addition to being able to understand the monster, he can also read all of her writing, despite recognizing that the characters should be unknown to him. Even dissimilar kinds of characters seem to have the same prose.


The legible information is…


Mother is looking for a way of acquiring younger boys in greater numbers, but also wants to solve the threat of the Chosen. A sublime wisdom arrives at the obvious solution: why worry about them being young when they get here, and if they leave young, then how are they a problem? Kehehehe~!


Adris shakes in fury, turning around to race over to the unconscious woman.

He stomps on her face with his foot, but all she does is make a “ghk” sound as he grinds his foot on her nose.


(I am not a test subject, you bitch!)


Taking his foot off, he walks back to the notes.


It was a flash of brilliance, streaming from my star-like mind~! SPARKLE! Out of the twenty-three experimental batches I prepared this morning, I produced results in one of them… though I can’t figure out why. Because I have issues with remembering exact quantities, the formulas listed here preserve my success!


When I remember which one this sample is from, I can begin full scale testing! Until then, I have to try the concoction in a live test~! Luckily, today is ‘Free Access Day’! These simpletons will lick my feet when I march a kid through on a leash to be tasted by Mother!




The next page is trivial minutiae, though something does stick out:


When my exalted mind sought to procure the phoenix (BIRD OF REVIVING FIRE) feathers for the essential youthening effect, it seemed unlikely I’d obtain them. Tempesta Universalis possessed the only full-blooded phoenix until it was nicked, and that windbag Tishia doesn’t share materials.

Even my intellect couldn’t predict that they would be available on the Narrow Line, the expanse’s black network, shortly after the bird was bagged. When I offered one of my supremely rare focusing matrices, the seller of course couldn’t refuse. Without a doubt~☆!”


Adris is stunned for a moment, as again a word he shouldn’t understand is accompanied by a general, mental understanding of the word.


(Is this, too, because of the cross?)


“As… luck would have it, there was a teeny, inconsequential feature added to the crystal. One of my divine hairs was layered into the finished product, reducing its output by a measly 12%, but brand is better than performance! When this genius used clairvoyance to search for it out of… curiosity, I followed the spell all the way to Neo-Askelon division’s area, where it was blocked…


This poor, oppressed visionary is content to leave this fact unmentioned to others, and with no further investigation. These two groups already plan to expand the war going on outside, and a beautiful researcher need not be a casualty of intrigue.


(Then don’t write it down, you moron!)


Adris’ face is blank as he finishes the note.

Looking to a small shelf containing bound books of notes, he sees that they’re all titled in various ways.


Grand Experiments of Sublime Importance: Vol III”

“… Importance: Vol X”
“… Vol XIV


Understanding now the woman’s pathetic vanity, Adris pushes it from his mind. Instead, he concentrates on odd words such as “clairvoyance” and “spells.”

These words seem familiar as possible aura technique terms, but the idea of a “spell” is superstition believed in only by unlearned peasants.


(These organizations, even though I don’t understand their definition, are accompanied by no further knowledge or understanding of their names. Perhaps only words with self-contained meanings allow for explanation?)


He quietly rolls up all of her research notes, taking down the parchments on the wall that seem related, and puts it all in his pack.


Walking over to the woman who now has a red nose, he contemplates that it doesn’t seem broken, even though he stepped on her quite hard.

Only a bit of bluish liquid leaks from a nostril, curiously evaporating as Adris watches.

Giving the idiot’s clothing one final try, he still doesn’t find any key.


(Okay, then we have one option.)


He picks the woman up by the arm and begins dragging her toward the wall.

Getting there, putting her arm against the crystals causes them to turn various colors with a soft hum, before all change to red. The wall ceases to be smooth with a single sound like a cracking nut, lines appearing in it, opening with a wet, slurching sound to slide out to reveal the unknown.

Pulling the woman out of sight of the door, Adris makes one last glance around the room, finding nothing else usable.


Before walking out, he kneels beside the woman.

He removes and straps her bandoleer around his chest.


Staring at her hateful face, he holds the cross with a white-knuckled grip.


(… You, more than anyone, should drop dead.)


But bludgeoning her to death doesn’t solve the problem of needing to actively punish her.

Worse, Adris feels like something might grow stronger if he loses control of himself.

Instead of ending the life of the bizarre creature and possibly earning a more hellish punishment for the crime if discovered, Adris resolves to another path.


Opening her mouth with his hand, he unstoppers the vial and thrusts it into her mouth, inclining her head with his other hand to force her to swallow the concoction.


Adris lets her head drop with a thud after she finishes swallowing it and leaves the vial in her hand, so that anyone walking inside will believe that she drank it herself.






Name: Adris fehl Dain; “Mister Meat”
Race: Xin’El, Emperor’s Child (Human)
Sex: Male
Age: ?? – Young

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


[Tool Savant] – “Adris is a tool-collecting-and-utilizing fanatic. Most men would consider him disgusting for loving tools more than his own partner. Has so many tools that it can be said to be his true power. What does he do when he has no tools left?”


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


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


Disposition: Defeated / Adaptable / Sinner
Alignment: Chaotic

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


R-Value – “Please load additional feature.”



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

“Does missing half of your body increase the rarity of what remains, thereby increasing its inherent beauty?”

“Being a child again, can you see the difference that being an adult adds? No longer possessing the work put into improving features, will Adris understand that being plain as a child lacks the poise and stature of adulthood? Even as an older boy, isn’t it hard to be… ‘dashing’?”


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

“It can be said that Adris has done a lot of things in his life. Good, bad, evil, and unkind, all of what he has done has been done with the assumption that he will never have to worry about heaven or hell. Now that he’s lost the only thing he’s ever cared about, what is left? Perhaps he will get his chance to discover what it means to be free?”

“Turned into a kid again, how is Adris handling this? Thrust into a dimension beyond his ability to cope with, especially after being abandoned by Serras and murdered, only his attachment to his own sense of self… or finding it again, is driving him. Now that he is young, he can only survive by his wits, seeing as his aura has been taken from him. Will he succumb to his thirst for female flesh? Will this cross claim his mind and make him its meat puppet?”


“Cast into another world, now we get to find out who the true Adris is, starting at page 1. It’s always interesting to see what happens when a person’s world is turned inside out. How can a guy from another world truly be expected to survive in one he knows nothing about? Isn’t it more interesting if the odds are stacked against him?”



Name: ???
Race: Hair Monster / “Sow”
Sex: Female
Age: ??

Occupation: Scholar (dispossessed)
Discipline: Genius (Self-Professed)


[Hair Manipulation] – “Has the power sufficient to pick up objects and bind things with her hair. Her hair operates independently of her thoughts, but it’s not always smart. Seemingly cannot intercept the attack of someone right next to her. This is probably related to how focused she is on something at hand, as her emotional state impacts her ability to her user hair.”


Disposition: Self-aggrandizing / Scatterbrained / Piggish
Alignment: Chaotic

Eyes: Purple
Hair: Black
Skin: White


R-Value – “Please unlock me, Adris~.”


C-Value – “While she is outwardly beautiful in the manner of a cool and pretty older sister, isn’t being slovenly a sort of immense turnoff? Her own voice will drive people away, perhaps leading to the desperation she feels? Still, if your only choice is your hand or her pussy, it might be worth dumping a load in her just to see how it feels?”


“A slob, to the core. Scatterbrained and pompous, she is the epitome of the researcher who believes she is far smarter than others, but cannot actually invent something because of how pathetic she is. Adris cumming down her throat would be the highlight of her career within recent memory. Still, she is intelligent, in her own way, and creating a youthening potion like she did is something to be commended. If it was used on her, what would happen?”


“She’s just too tsundere to admit that she wants to be pounded, and Adris is too disgusted to give it to her. I sometimes wonder if he should’ve mating pressed her on the way out. Perhaps the future holds opportunities for her to display just how dumb she is before he does so?”




Phoenix – “Bird of reviving fire, the creature responsible for the essential ingredient of the potion that Adris is afflicted by.”


Tempesta Universalis – “The organization that owned the phoenix.”


Neo-Askelon – “An organization that stole the phoenix.”


Narrow Line – “An underground black network within the Works, which claims that it can obtain anything you desire, for the right price.”


Spells – “The aura of the new world? What is a spell? How does one explain it…”


Chapter 4         Table of Contents          Chapter 6