Take Up the Cross – Chapter 54: Reconciliation

{At least they’re not complaining anymore.}

Lazily gesturing, Still sits on a curved stone bench bordered by hedges with Neesiette resting in her lap. Having motioned for Adris to join the two of them, she watches the creatures she refers to lounging around the fountain once more. The punishment egged on by Kol has ended, though even if Adris is unsure of the final resolution, the immediate dangers of the girl’s designs are passed.

“Why should they complain? They overthrew their abusers. They’re free!” Carefree in how he says it, Adris does feel a little happy for them.


(Amazing what a little comeuppance can do for the unity of a group.)


Noisily chatting and cleaning up using the fountain, the thirty-some-odd troop’s fear of the twin witches has faded completely with their fulfilled catharsis.


Ostracized from the rest, the two, still-naked women are huddled next to the fountain’s far end and having water dumped on them from Mantecado’s large hands as they mutely try to clean up. Seemingly at a loss as to what else to do, the language barrier between the jolly rapist and the two kobolds leaves him just scratching their ears, before they angrily slap his hands away.


“Haha, got pegged for the cocky bitches yah are? Don’t worry, Mantecado’s love is eternal! I’ll take care of you, as long as you do your thing!”

Mussing up their hair, they growl at first, but then stop while eying each other sadly. Holding each other’s gem-encrusted hands, they allow the man to pet them as they give up.


(Burnt all your bridges but one. Better cross it now, while you can.)


Already planning to give them away, Adris does hope that these two’s ruin he’s delivered comes with a beneficial aftermath.


(Become something better after losing as scum. I won’t say I don’t enjoy your looks right now, though!)


Rarely getting to observe the direct aftermath of his plots, Adris is beside himself with satisfaction at the twins’ discomforts.




{Aren’t you a little too pleased with yourself…?}

“Why shouldn’t I be, partner? … No, that look isn’t necessary. I’m not pleased about the method, merely the result.”

{Could’ve fooled me, “smiley”.}

Earning a mask of disgust and waggling fingers like she’s creeped out, Adris reminds himself to reassess his behavior.


“You can’t say you’re not happy, Still. After working with you, I think we understand—”

{You understand way less than you think. Nevermind, you did good. … Oh, maybe you wanted my personal approval?

Good boy~! Brave work, breaking a bunch of despicable, defeated women in~!}


Patting Adris on his hip like an uninterested mother congratulating her child, he avoids grinding his teeth at the display of disrespect. Ever sparing thorns with the flowery praises, Still’s amiability level with him is hard to pin down after their numerous rough patches.


(You act as if it was my idea! At the very least, I prefer this sort of banter. We almost sound like we’re friends instead of two people dancing around each other with hidden knives, something you would eagerly resort to with less figurative points.)


{On to actually important things: what does your “glorious” knowledge tell you about this problem?}

Driving Adris away from the previous topic, Neesiette’s still struggling form shows no recovery. If anything, her piercing, angry violet eyes only seem more obsessive.

“I’d have thought your… vast repertoire of talents and experiences would’ve identified a solution by now?”

{That sounds sort of like sarcasm~; but, no, “Lunamata artificer” would not be one of my professional proclivities. I’m blind to a solution. If it’s caster’s mania, then something has jumped a pathway in her… brain? If she has one.}

Making a splashing motion, Still then shakes her head helplessly.

{If something did spill over, there’s no telling what’s been affected or how to revert it.}


(I’ve actually come up with a potential solution for this, then.)


“One of the powers I bear that you’ve witnessed, the one which defeated Kol, may hold the key.”

{… You want to hit her?}

Tilting her head, the calm smile belies Still’s hidden disapproval at the cross brandished inelegantly before her.

“Render her temporarily insensate, at worst. I’ve considered the risks. Neesiette is at least as resolute as Kol. In addition, the power of the cross…”


Recalling the descriptions of the powers that Rantil provided him, the one referring to his cross’ ability to “reject ideas and thoughts” seems to mesh with its prowess in subverting magic.


(Maybe I can merge it with “Brainfry”, driving out what’s in the mind instead of sending them into oblivion?)


Unmoving as the trees around them rustle with the wind, Still’s gaze rests on the girl who might as well be their enemy now. Brushing through her amber hair and receiving only kicking feet in return, Still shrugs.

{I don’t want to leave her like this. I’ll try anything, so long as it’s not overtly dangerous.}


Twirling the cross flashily before bringing it near the suddenly extremely outraged girl’s head, Adris then puts on a solemn expression.

“Hold her still, then. It’s just going to be a light tap.”


Gripping the girl’s head, Still’s anxiety can be felt as he pulls back a bit.




(Oh, black cross… If your power is real, then pay attention to my needs! [Brainfree]!)


Swiftly tapping her on the forehead, Adris’ imagination is heightened as he dreams of Neesiette returning to normal.




A flash of dark-green energy sends the cross skyward, along with his arm. Reeling backwards to the sound of shattering glass and whispering screams from the impact, Adris manages to recover before toppling over.

Still is not so fortunate, being pushed off her bench and tumbling to the ground along with the glowing Neesiette.


(Fucking hell!?)


With the energy storm vanishing in only a moment, Still rolls over and stands up. Moving Neesiette around to check her over, the doll’s head is loose and wobbling. Lifeless eyes roll around as Still feels her neck and head.


Finally pissed off, Still’s anger turns to the boy interposing the cross between him and her. Marching over as he backs away slowly, she…




“C O M M A N D:   A W A K E N.

L O C U S:   “Z e n n i a”,   F I R M A M E N T.

M A T R I X:   A B S E N T,   U N D E F I N E D.


A F F I R M A T I O N:   U N R E S T R I C T E D   –   B e g i n.”


An emotionless voice begins announcing various words and phrases with annoyingly slow precision.


{What is she saying!?}

Holding her tightly, Still pets Neesiette’s head while clearly missing the language.




“D E S I G N A T I O N:   N e e s i e t t e.

C O M P O R T M E N T:   D E V I A T E D,   U N D E F I N E D.

P U R P O S E:   ‘Interpret Art and all that accompanies it, review its permutations and functioning, assist this One in arriving at the perfect and complete understanding of it. — NULL, NULL, DEVIATED, IGNORE, DEFAULT: SELF-DETERMINATION.’


C O N F I R M A T I O N   O F   A W A K E N I N G:


H e l l o,   C r e a t o r.




… Or not? For what reason does this lady linger in bondage… Still? Adris?”


Regaining full motion, Neesiette’s head returns to upright as she flexes tentatively against the ropes holding her.


Setting the girl down, Still quickly begins unbinding her despite Adris’ hand raising to stop her.


(You can’t be sure…!)


Blinking her eyes, the shining violet narrows on Adris as she takes in the raised cross.

“Readily answered this lady’s query becomes. A clever boy caused some new incident, be this not the truth?”


(Oh, nevermind.)


Her sanity is confirmed the moment she blames Adris for her own actions’ results.


“Welcome back.”

“‘To where would this lady have departed to’ be the obvious question; yet, the reaction of Still guarantees an interesting story.”

{No more using that book!}

“… Rejected.”


Jumping down, Neesiette immediately trots over to Adris, holding out her hands for the tome he has around his shoulder.


“Entrusted with one in good faith, returned it shall be. As a lady once gave such a promise to a boy, so should a boy — Oh! With thanks.”

Thrusting the tome into the obsessed girl’s arms, she immediately examines it for imperfections.


{Neesiette, you went crazy!}

“Perfectly recorded be the deviation which resulted in conceptual overflow of the theorem, though memory of events afterward be lacking in perfect clarity for this lady. Assured one may be that such a design flaw shall be averted in the future when next it be utilized.”

{No, you’re not doing it again.}

“Desist! Release! Untested theory progresses into unfalsifiable theory! One cannot halt the perfecting of Art!”


Exiting the conversation as the two immediately quarrel, Adris just sighs while watching the doll hang from the tome as she’s lifted off the ground. So stuck are they in their private match that he can’t even bounce some ideas off of either of them.




(I’m doing this alone, too. On second thought, I doubt anyone other than Cethran could help, anyway.)


Firmly committed to his second “investiture” in only a few days, Adris is not an unwilling participant in this. The cross that he carries must be understood by him.


(Its powers, limits, and dangers… I have to grasp everything. Until I know the form of an investiture by actually staying conscious through it, I can’t plan for the important ones.)


Being dragged into the dreamlike fight between fell powers, Adris understands that the reality the girls’ experienced was different from the one he did.


“It sounded as if they never even left the Chapel, that all they witnessed was the cross’…?”

“… Adris…?”


Flinching internally, Adris turns to look at who sneaked up on him. Dark of expression and thoroughly depressed, the girl who tried to stop the evil that went on is staying just out of reach.


(Ah, you’re looking quite dissatisfied? … Too bad. Life isn’t fair or nice. I hate what Kol did, but certainly not the result.)


Hoping to avoid discussing this until much later, Ave has appeared far too soon. Adris can’t afford to show any weakness in his motives right now, especially since she’s skeptical of him.


(While I can’t sacrifice any of my own principles for her conscience, I also can’t afford to ignore her.)


“That d—Neesiette is okay? Good. Still was really sad…”

Less worried now that Neesiette is loudly protesting, he can guess that Ave’s next destination is to either restart their feud with some choice insults or to cheer up Still with the doll’s recovery.

“Shouldn’t you be checking with her?”

“… Adris. Why did you…?”


Making things even more awkward, Ave finally approaches him. Looking scared to be near him, her impression of him has been thoroughly devastated.


(I can’t help that! Zennia is how it is! I’m not going to back away from the facts of life here. Ave, more than any of them, follows me out of a sense of wonder. Believing completely in my appearance, I must comport to the fantasy she’s building about me or all my work could shatter in an instant. I still don’t know how to wrap her up in the long term other than simply… seducing her, which is an insane danger.)


Even though he thinks that Kol’s actions are to blame, he knows inside that something went too far with his own. Having noticed the discrepancy, Ave is thus momentarily ripped from her delusions.


(Just like I was worrying about after Rantil, I might’ve been… too into that. Things got a little personal?)


Like a priestess warned, once he let go of his inhibitions, what he demonstrated to others proved that he’s not as dissimilar to them as he once thought.


(I need to rope her back in. To do so, I need her to understand why Kol did it, without being too obvious. She should feel sorry for me, not me for her! After all, I’m… her “friend”.)




A cruel play is about to be perpetrated. Just like with the rest, Adris is ready to sell a false god’s ambitions anew.




“Perhaps Kol and Neesiette weren’t wrong?”

“AH!? … I’m…!?”


Struck by the words, she sulks immediately as she seems to know they refer to her.


“… Despite that, I think idealism is a good thing.”

“Even if you say that…! You don’t seem…”

Extending his hand, she balks at the gesture.

A girl who is bothered by all things both male and female if they’re even a bit sexually aggressive was holding onto hope that Adris was gentler.

Letting his hand drop, Adris looks subtly devastated, earning a look of confused sadness from her.


(Nobody is that gentle, Ave.)


“I can only feel hurt by how you seem to feel regarding me? After all, haven’t I only done what was required of me?”

“How is something like that required!? … Ah!?”


Sweeping her up, she hisses in surprise and dismay.

Shivering as he continues, he ignores this and points at three individuals in the crowd.


“While not terribly brilliant in regards to figures or plans, Kol understands a lot more than even I do, at times.”


Following his finger, Ave’s eyes widen when they watch.




“Kakaka! Echo, scream out a lot! Huh, whine, but enjoy. Stalker, same? Stalker, too, finally calm down? Wait whole time, try mate with Kol? Fail, always~.”


Patting them both on the head and teasing them, the most abusive girl in the area is all smiles as she hangs around her two “pets”.


“Shut up, Scurry. The worst person, Scurry is.”

“… Scurry, Stalker… really suffered…”

Despite the harsh punishments inflicted on them, both kobolds still talk to her willingly, for she’s the only one deigning to address them as the rest stay out of contact for the moment.


“Hm? Maybe worst, but suffer? Everyone, just try, show what they didn’t like. Stalker and Echo, never get that.

… Hey, Cutter! Echo, Stalker, suffer? Or learn?”


Turning to the pack and getting their attention via one name, the man named Cutter chortles at the choice.


“Hah? Those two, not suffer! … Well, those two, really didn’t even do that much bad, anyway…? Cutter, gonna say they just needed to learn their place! Right, guys? Kakaka!”

“Echo, Stalker, not… too bad in the first place. Just… annoying. Like Scurry. … Well, they learned their lesson, right?”

“Yeah, not mad anymore. Less annoying than Scurry and she never learns.”

Joining in with Cutter, more voices pipe up.


Oh? ‘Annoying’? Very brave. Come here.”


Getting the kobold that called her such into a headlock, the screaming man is more humiliated by the hold than hurt by it.


“No, not until, explain.”

“WHAT IS THERE TO EXPLAIN!? Echo and Stalker just… kept acting better than us! All we wanted was for them to shut up and treat us like they used to! After all, it’s Scurry we could do without— Ah…! GHK.”


Squeezed hard, the man chokes while the others laugh.


“… Oh. Scurry is the one everyone hates…” Smirking at the statement, Echo finally smiles. Opening her posture up, the naked girl flaunts what happened to her.

“Well… Echo isn’t hated as much?”


“Hm? Echo showed she ain’t so bad. As long as Echo can apologize, she is wayyyyyy better than Scurry~! GAH!?”

A random female receives a body to the face when the man Kol is holding is tossed.


Brave, very brave. Who else, think same!?”

Gnashing her teeth at first, the boisterous and insulting kobolds that lay into Kol with taunts and comparisons result moments later in…




“… Huh? Kol is smiling? … What are they saying?” Blinking in confusion, Ave’s dark look vanishes a bit.

“It’s not easy to convey how families and tribes work, Ave. Just like you and elves have your own ways, kobolds do, too. What was desperately lacking among them was simple: a way of voicing their frustrations and punishing those who thought they were better than others.”




“… Stalker does his work… Scurry is the one who left~. Huh, all females like Stalker, Scurry? If you’re… nicer to me, I’ll help you make friends?” Gloating about it at first, the handsome man then offers an out for Kol.

“We don’t need to be friends with Scurry! Stalker is the cool one! Always first in and last out! Scurry’s more like a male than a female… Scurry!? Go away! I don’t… I don’t want to fight!?”

Don’t want fight? Don’t open mouth.”

Menacing the woman, Kol is further jeered at.


And as everyone continues taunting her, Kol becomes the most hated person around.

When that happens, Echo and Stalker are allowed back in.


“Scurry used to be better, right? … No, even then, tricks and traps…? Evil orders? Always hurt…” Stalker receives pats from the other females, while the nodding males seem to remember abuses from the past.

“It’s not like you have to worry about Scurry. She can’t run faster than us! Why be scared of her~? Hey, give Echo time, she can show you how to beat Scurry… As long as you follow her.”

Gaining a crowd of flunkies around her, Echo takes back up her place as head of the tribe so seamlessly that Adris wants to vomit. With the tribe agreeing to Adris’ solution, Echo’s recent crimes are still lighter than Kol’s past ones, somehow.


With Stalker and Echo joining in on the jeering, the result of their prior torments reaches the obvious conclusion. Being handed some extra servants’ uniforms, the kobolds even start helping to clean the two naked, former victims up.


Their contrition is over.




“… Everyone doesn’t like Kol… though?”

Ave is mystified as Kol’s mood only gets better when the tribe’s cohesion reforms while abusing her.


“Has Kol ever indicated that she wanted to be loved? Even if she wanted to lead them, I can’t recall her saying she would be friends with them? Kol’s friends are easy to count, right? I’m only certain of maybe three, so far…”


(Needing to be in charge is just her sickness manifesting. That’s getting fixed.)


“Friend…? I wonder if Kol really understands that word?” Sighing at the dark thought, Ave smiles slightly. “She saved them by ruining them? If they fall down, the others will pick them back up?”


With Kol at the center of the thronging, jeering crowd, only those too slow to avoid her grasp are forced to receive her “corrections”. The belligerent white outcast is established as the “omega” of the tribe. By Adris’ briefest understanding of pack culture, these outcasts are necessary to preserve the mental strength of the tribe as whipping boys, yet they’re never totally rejected.


“They might be… backstabbing, ankle-biting creeps; but, as long as you’re the same, you’re family…”

Releasing Ave, Adris takes on a muted look, as if he’s still uncertain at the actions he undertook. With the young girl turning back, the quick gears she possesses digest the lesson, at least now that she’s been spoonfed it. Adjusting his expression, Adris silently confirms to the girl that he believes he made the right choice.


“Kol didn’t want them to be alone, right? Stalker, pining after Kol as the rest languish for attention… And Echo, cut off from others by her own mischievous self-sabotage.

Now that they’ve been ‘corrected’, they’re normal again. … When Kol forced me into this, I realized she didn’t have a choice but to ask me to aid her without begging. She can’t appear weak. I had to be an enthusiastic party to it.”


(Though I’m lying about intentionally fixing Stalker, that creepy kid only seems to turn rapey if he’s backed up, it seems. Getting ridden into the ground by a pack of females knocked his nuts back into a row.)


“I won’t say it was a just thing to do, but… I just didn’t want to… disappoint…?”


Leaving off at this dramatic pause, he starts to walk away…




Until two arms like steel wrap around his chest and pull him into an embrace. Choking on the force, the girl isn’t quite calm as she whispers.


“… Sorry. Ave thought… maybe, that you… but you’re not, so sorry!”

“It’s fine! No, that’s what it would look like without more consideration! Ave is smart, I knew you’d see through… Ah, thank you.”


(Please stop being so clingy! I’m a man you’ve known for like… four days? Show some caution.)


Let go, he turns back to the needy girl.


“… Ave isn’t… a stupid girl? You don’t… think she is, now?” Asking the question with enormous difficulty, angular features make her almost-crying gaze that much worse to deal with, because she looks like glass trying to break.

“Stupid? You aren’t… ah…?”

Wondering where the question is coming from, he recalls a desperate struggle.


(Oh, right, I guess I did call you one when trying to get you to wake up.)



“ACK!? What!?”


Jolting at the laugh, she tears up more like he’s jeering at her.


“I’d forgotten that even transpired. Right, the only reason I said that was because… an intelligent and caring girl was calling herself a fake before my eyes, denying both her good qualities and my assessments of them.”

Patting her cheek, she finally doesn’t pull back at his touch.

“There’s no way an elf that’s proved her mettle can be called stupid, Avenalliah. I will say, though, it doesn’t feel wonderful to be thought of so lowly by a friend…”

Stammering at first, Ave’s train of thought is wrecked by the emotions he demonstrates.

“No, no! We’re friends, I don’t think bad of you! I just… didn’t understand!”

“Are you sure? My opinion seems both too important and not important at all…? What do you think of yourself, Ave? I’d rather trust that.”

“… I would like too, as well!? You just always seem to know best? … I’m relying on you too much, right?”


Though perhaps reducing his appeal of being kind, Adris weans her off of it a bit as she recovers from her self doubts. Looking more like the fetching girl full of curiosity that he met at the overlook, she smiles timidly, thus proving that Adris has recovered himself from an obvious abuse of another person right in front of her eyes.


(You’re way too good of a girl, Ave. I think Kol needs to rub off on you more. She knew what she was doing was brutal…)


“Far from knowing what’s best, I merely believe in what I can do. Ave, I’d like to rely on your help for something, instead.”

“Hmm!? Oh? With what?”

Throwing herself into this new conversation, Ave’s enthusiasm is useful, as Adris does need genuine assistance.


(I have no idea what to do with these kobolds. Kol can’t have them, but I do want to see if I can empower them. That leaves few options to reign both her and them in after.)


“I don’t want Kol intruding on these kobolds’ own choices and destinies. You, more than anyone, should understand what I mean.”

“… Ah. … Yes, I… understand.”


Nodding her head, the girl most dominated by Kol finds the willingness to confront the issue for someone else.


“Then what do you want to do?”

“I intend to grant them power, but I need to tie it to a particular idea. Is there anything that, like with the investiture for the four of you being to oppose ‘fate’, that I can offer to these kobolds? What do you know about them?”

“Hm? Kobolds are… inherently very weak creatures. They’re essentially prey or slaves in waiting.” Looking sad for them, Ave’s kindness is universal. “Ah, Kol always said that being a knight wasn’t just about a title? She wanted…? Wasn’t it land? Kobolds are hated, in part, because they live like vermin where others hold claim? If they had their own land, then wouldn’t they be more left alone?”


(Land? A place that belongs to them? That she can protect…? That can carry a reputation as belonging to her? Suddenly, her madcap antics and ambitions don’t seem so strange. Why not take them into Petripolis? If slayers like him want kobolds, then there’s a chance we can find accommodations with other, rare humans who don’t hate monsters and demi-humans?)


“Ave? Are there places in Petripolis where these kobolds could find shelter? People who would permit them to stay?”

“Eh? There’s places in Petripolis where humans don’t go, if that’s what you mean… We stay in one such area.”

“Oh? Then what about… employment?”

At this question, Ave looks blank for a moment. Looking over at the twins being groped by the slayer, Ave has a squeamish look.

“Though it’s… rather dangerous, in many ways, slayers don’t… actually always hurt non-humans. They actually tend to be… too fond of them.” Smiling as she shivers, Ave hides behind Adris rather than looking at Mantecado any longer.

“Are you saying that the kobolds could find employment at Slayer’s Call?”

“It’s not impossible, but also not possible!? I wouldn’t know? Still might, though she stays away from slayers all the time; but, if you really are looking for a place to put them that’s safe, slayers that do treat demi-humans well are really strong protectors? I guess…?”

“I knew I could count on Ave. In addition to this information, I also need a favor. A way to temporarily indispose of Kol.”

With the girl paling at this new objective, Adris realizes he’ll need to be clever in how he sells this idea.




(I somehow get the impression a bunch of hypersexual kobolds would fit in, though? Considering what the slayers I’ve met are like, it might work very well.)





“Lemme get this straight: yah wanna see if the kobolds can stay in Petripolis? At Slayer’s Call?”


“Stupid idea. Humans are evil. Tried it already.”

“Right, Kindle. Humans are like this shitty one. Came after us, right away.”


Scratching himself as he sits cross-legged on the side of the fountain while taking in Adris’ plan, Chill and Kindle are kneeling next to Mantecado and staring at Adris. The depths of their hatred for him invites vengeance that only their situation precludes.


(Not only that. There’s still… something binding them and the rest. The mansion has given no rewards.)


“I mean, it ain’t impossible? But it’s also hilariously not possible, at the same time? Can’t really explain it, since it ain’t seemed to bother you?

… I dunno how you could do it, since you know how some of the bros are like when they get hot about monster pussy? If you talk to Castile, he might get his granddaddy to do something? Mantecado ain’t got no pull. It’s kinda harsh, givin’ em shelter.”

“Less shelter and more employment? These two girls are a general idea of what I was intending. Giving them to you goes along with the… ‘event’ concerning this?”

“Oh!? You got the ~MATERIALS~ for one you start yourself!? What’s the ~SCENARIO~ about this bunch of furry scaledogs say to do?”


(Something noble? Something beneficial to me? Fuck it, I hate the Alchemaster and so do you.)


“Setting these kobolds free from the… Alkem is the goal.”

“The fuck? Yeah, sure, I’ll help. Sounds boss. What yah need, bro? I ain’t got no pull, like I said.”


(So easy to please~.)


Smiling broadly at the bronzed man’s eagerness, Adris speaks candidly.


“I was thinking of giving Chill and Kindle to you as a contractual loan. By creating it, I might build a link between the slayers and these kobolds? Sort of like… making them mercenaries for the organization? If you adopt them, it might entice the rest by example to adopt their own kobolds?”


(Relationships are what bind people. “Who are these kobolds”, Cethran, you bitch? A wonderful look into your nature I’ve had. If I make them appear to be for hire, they will be, won’t they? A lie becomes a reality the moment someone bites into it.)


“Fuck off!”

“Chill, not agree.”


He raises an eyebrow while sneering at their disapproval.

“The only other position for you two among these kobolds would appear to be as… sexual slaves, if I believe Kol’s future plans. I assume you don’t mind being routinely used by all the males whenever they—?”


“Kindle agrees with your plan.”

“Good terms. Yay~.”


Grabbing onto Mantecado’s legs protectively, the man starts laughing at the sluts as he claps his chest.

“Bro, every time you say or do something, these chicas get warmer. You got the touch. Yeah, sure, sounds weird, but I’ll agree to this contract thing. It’s some kind of magic item? As long as they’re mine for good, don’t care.”




Sweeping his cross before him, Adris’ expression becomes severe. Using his deepest voice, he remembers the animus that came over him in the Chapel.


“Mantecado, member of Slayer’s Call, slayer who invades the Castillo, I offer these terms:


Chill and Kindle shall remain on permanent retainer to you, for you to dispense with them as you please, so long as they remain bodily safe and transferrable back to the tribe in good health.


In addition, you shall provide them a stipend of your choosing, take care of them, and return them to the tribe should it need their services, provided you are recompensed for the time lost in returning them.


As payment for this contract, you will provide aid to the tribe should it need help, calculated as a reflection of the services provided by these women, so long as it doesn’t grossly inconvenience your own plans. You will also aid in any attempts to integrate the tribe into Petripolis.


Agree to this contract and swear yourself to the darkness of a black cross, swearing to speak to no one else, nor that these women should speak ever of it, about the nature of this contract and its existence.”




When the air goes heavy, the man’s blazing eyes dim as he looks around.

The calls of angry crows join in during this stillness.

Climbing up by his legs, Kindle and Chill obviously recognize the effects of some kind of magic as they snarl.




“… You… ain’t a normal slayer, are yah? Man, foreigners are all weird, ain’t they?”

“Big Dick! Say no!”

“Refuse! Dangerous.”


Mulling it over with his arms crossed, the man plainly ignores the naked women as he pushes down on their heads.


(Now we see what I have to amend to get—)




“Mantecado swears to a black cross to honor this deal, or whatever?

Okay! That means they’re mine to—!?”


As the man wastes not a single ounce of effort thinking, his response brings a shining from the cross.


“Why did you say yes!?”

“… Chill… wants to die…”




Darkness swirls out, grabbing onto the hearts of all four of them without even waiting for Adris’ response.




As Chill and Kindle are enveloped by it, their bodies glow gold, before the gold breaks apart and is consumed by shining darkness.


Moments after, the waving tendrils of darkness explode outward, scattering the raving voices that shared in the assault.




“WHOA!? What was… oh, they have black highlights!?”


“… Shitty human!?”


Lowering their arms raised in fright, Chill and Kindle are revealed to have changed mildly.


Black, tattooed rings of unknown glyphs have been etched into their arms and hands where the gem-like scales and encrusting covers. Joining with this are black highlights to their hair and dark fringes on their fur.

All in all, they have a much more elegant beauty to them. Gone is the obsessive greed that permeated their smell. Instead, they smell more like…


(Kol? Ah, the buzzing feeling has lessened? Something is also gone, though I don’t know what.)


“They’re pretty fuckin’ sexy!?”

Grabbing them up, they squeal as Mantecado hugs them.

“You! You shitty… um… huh!?”

While Kindle tries to insult the man, Chill just licks her lips.


Staring at the man, both kobolds have a hunger in their eyes that doesn’t seem easy to quench.


“Big Dick… handsome…?”

“… Hey, you look like you need something~.”


(Being bound to him changed their interests!?)


As Chill moves her hand to Mantecado’s dick and Kindle starts licking his abs, the man claps his hands in celebration, stopping and screaming after.

“Ohhhhhh!? I’ve got tattoos on my wrists!? A new ~SOCIAL APPEARANCE~!? Now that’s fire, man. And my ~ATTRIBUTES~ are back to normal? Holy shit, just where did you get…?”




With a finger to his lips, Adris reminds the excited slayer the price of the contract.

“Secrets, Mantecado, aren’t meant to be shared.”




(I can do this! If I can get two, I can get all of them! … Though, why do I feel tired?)







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?”

“Is this perhaps the first time a woman has tried to give you what she thinks you want? Or the first time you’ve noticed?”

“How does it feel to finally just let go, fellow seeker of rare truths?”


“Aren’t you getting a little too old to be starting an army?”



“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’?”

“Being elevated means accepting responsibility for those who venerate you.”

“Taking control is not the same as keeping control.”


“Discovers that the cross still offers gifts, but at what price?”



“Immediately returns to lying.”



Name: “Kol” fehl Dain
Titles: Idiot, “Tyrant Knight”
Race: Kobold
Sex: Female
Age: ???


Occupation: Delver, Frontliner
Discipline: ???




[Invisible Edge] – “Axe goes through everything?”


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


[Unknown Aura of Dread] – “Huge blade, not dangerous?”


[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…?”

“Oh, a lover of dominating others? How shocking this is, isn’t it? Isn’t this matching with your tastes in general?”

“How does it feel to know doubt again, Adris?”


“If you see her as a princess to be saved, then why haven’t you jumped in?”



“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.”

“Seeking power so that she might force others to act, she also seeks the authority to defend them. The most paradoxical people are the ones who do dubious and mean-spirited things in the belief that they are doing the right thing.”

“Possessing a sexuality that is not easily defined, the act of taking measures highly for her.”


“A girl that puts herself on the outside, she’s not afraid to do what’s necessary to save others, even if it means being the brunt of their anger.”



“Proud retard.”



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~!}


[Nectar] – {How does my suffering taste, spawn ofcursed blood”!?}


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?”

“If she says that they have plans for you, then isn’t it simply fair that you should answer to them? Is this not your definition of beauty: endless plans?”

“If she speaks of justice, does that not ring true?”


“Yet if justice is truly what she desires, then why does she take pleasure in wrong?”



“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.”

“Whether or not she would truly wish Kol to leave is up to debate, but she can play her quite easily when Kol doesn’t bother to gauge her mannerisms.”

“A master of potions, perhaps. It’s hard to know what delvers and slayers will have access to.”


“Cannot claim to be a master of puppets.”



“Works with you, but doesn’t necessarily put up with your shit.”



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?”


[Rod of Respelling] – “A lady be every ready to instruct regarding what be in error.”


[“Brings An End” – Ponderous] – “[Ponderous was the end, for the unfair passage of time finally brought even earth to its conclusion]…”


Disposition: Impassive / Calculating / Curious
Alignment: Ordered

Eyes: Pale Violet
Hair: Amber
Skin: Pale White



Rantil Value –

Strength – F

Vitality – F

Dexterity – D

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?”

“Isn’t it doubtful that you would get along with her if she was like this all the time?”

“How differently would this have turned out had she been aware of it?”


“In the end, doesn’t her mysteriousness only increase?”



“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…?”

“Driven wild by what she called forth, she’s hellbent on pointing out the flaws of Zennia.”

“Perhaps not all spells are meant to be cast.”


“A girl that recites strange instructions upon awakening, has anyone actually ever seen her sleep?”



“Cares not a bit for her downtime, immediately back in the game.”




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?”

“Perhaps she doesn’t wear all her emotions on her sleeve?”

“It might be up to a man to show her how life works, yes?”


“Shouldn’t you burn alive treating a girl like this?”



“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?”

“Rather than trying to push a tiresome presence out, she caves and invites her back in. Such is the nature of an elf named Avenalliah: she can’t quit her friends.”

“Cannot find love, nor love to accept sex.”


“Possessing something like normality is bizarre for a girl that… nevermind.”



“She’s not stupid, she’s just not very bright… Am I mixing this up?”



Name: “Echo”
Titles: “Pet”
Race: Kobold
Sex: Female
Age: Young

Occupation: Leader (Former/Current), Figurehead
Discipline: ???





Disposition: Triangulating / Longing / Cowardly
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Dark Blue
Hair: Red
Skin: Light Tan



Rantil Value –

Intelligence – D

Charisma – D




Cethran Value – “Do you feel that perhaps you’ve solved the issue of their relationship or set yourself between it for the worse? If not for them, then perhaps for you?”


“Are you jealous that she can surmount obstacles you can’t?”



“Once the leader of Red Tide, she has now become the leader of Red Tide once more. Originally the tag-along of Kol, in her absence Echo found power and control of others through an interesting form of triangulation.”


“In the end, she’s still the better choice just by what the alternatives are.”



“She’s gonna fit in just fine.”






Chapter 53         Table of Contents          Chapter 55