Take Up the Cross – Chapter 57: Fairly Webbed Transparently

After being abandoned by Still, the walk through the darkened streets of Petripolis lacked further incident. The overpowering nature of Zohn’Til is absent from here. Instead, pleasant flora sprouting up through purposefully upturned paved areas grant a feeling of wildness to it.


“Kol! Wait up!” Ave grips her head as she watches her friend amble into a building which maintains a spectacular character.


(Why is it like a hat?)


Trooping absentmindedly into a long building with two floors and open patios, the brave kobold seems at ease, while Ave hisses in abject terror and Neesiette’s quick, careful eyes search for details Adris is missing. Though he’s still locked on the inn’s main building which goes five stories straight up into the air, he feels recognition of what Neesiette searches for.

Built from once-living timbers, it reminds Adris of a standing bee cone, yet it’s covered with reflective glass designs. The color of the wood’s paint and the structure’s stone is a dark ebony, a color unmatched by the other buildings on the street.


“Is this not where you stay? Should you not freely enter?” He hopes his understanding of their worries is misplaced.


“AH!? That… that is… a… difficult…?”

“… Such a question shall be answered shortly. Attempting any other path but forward be pointless, newt, no matter one’s unwillingness to attend to judgment.”

“Right. We… knew this was coming. No, but we have valuables now!? We can… do something, right!? … We can’t use a window?”

“Windows be foolish beyond belief… Depending upon the mood of that dark being, possibilities exist with entreaty. Entrust oneself to ‘possibilities’ though, does one?”

“… We’re doomed, right?”


Conferring with themselves, the two girls who normally spark show surprising familiarity as they accept the end.


(What is this melodrama!? The fear is justified, though.)


As he neared this unique structure, his eyes kept darting to stare at nothing. The building is not shrouded in aura or darkness, yet his body unconsciously detects danger that he must trust his senses feel correctly. Supporting this realization is that all other buildings on this avenue look uninhabited, leaving this inn alone as the ruler of the lane.


(Escaping the Castillo, their “home” is a deathtrap!? You girls are the worst! Kol is already inside…)


“Neesiette, would whatever you fear be inclined to bargain with me?”

“… Does one feel comfortable asking questions which have no certain answers? Easy it be to provoke fear, even if some creatures be not outright malevolent. One shall witness as such, this lady believes.”

Her blank face asks the moron before her to get a hint.


(… Fuck it! I have no other options except to see what they’re facing.)


“Ah, Adris! Don’t provoke her!”

Moving to the silk curtains strung over the open entrance door, Adris hopes that open windows indicate an invitation, though Ave suggests otherwise.




Inside is surprisingly homely.


Though the handcrafted furniture is of dubious quality, the smells are inviting. Owing to his training under Fatso, he recognizes the acidic citrus cleaners that pull him in, affectations that would be an extravagance on Xin. This large office with tables, chairs, and space for libations doubles as its dining area.

Most welcoming of all is the man behind a small counter, cramped between two standing shelves that hold loan or for-sale amenities. The pained smile he shows and his strained, blue eyes affirm the atmosphere threatening to ensnare Adris.

Clothed in a princely, ebony silk robe of a simple design, his short-cut blond hair and boyish face undermine his imposing height, and also make it hard to tell his age. A garish color clash comes from the ebony against his rope of bright-orange prayer beads around his neck, signifying a sense of solemnity and transcendence.


Not a thing about the room is out of place, yet the darkness above where further structure should be is a fatal tell, for the room ends in walls and has no way up.


(Ambush from above… Why do I feel that!?)


Finely honed senses are screaming at him to flee, but he feels something intangible around him at the door ready to grab him. Reading the man’s face, his discomfort and the subtle martial quality to his body’s stance betray the incongruities of this establishment.


(A warrior of certain skill but no guile, if I can tell this easily.)


A feeling like Ave’s presence adds to this impression, with all of its boisterous assertions of the real existence of the Zennia’ divine. The room cannot contain the man’s aura that calms Adris when it washes over him.


Denied retreat, Adris simply walks forward with confidence.


“Greetings to you, owner. Though this visit is late, your fine establishment is the only one that has yet fit my severe criteria. I have come to join others in staying.”

“… You want to stay here?” Possessing a somewhat effeminate voice that’s more silky than grating, the man seems shocked for only a moment before recovering. “No watchman issued you directions, did he? … You are human?”

“Though human, would I be the same as others by mere association? No.”

Adris’ confidence is dialed past its limit as he joins him at the counter.

“No warnings are needed for one of my esteem. I know that the outer sections are beyond the jurisdiction of man; yet, I care not a bit. The party I intend to stay with, did she not pass through here a moment ago?”




Absent is one white warrior.

Sure that Kol would still be easily detectable, the girl is completely obscured from Adris’ preternatural senses.




(Hostage? How is that possible? Taken that quickly, the enemy is dangerous.)


Adris senses an absence of presence above even while pretending to give the man full attention.


(Intentional masking!)


“Ah…! That girl… oh, no… Well, that’s a hard question, unfortunately, young boy.” More exasperated than scared, Adris’ appearance severely exits whatever plans the man had when he begins to smile kindly. “There’s nothing wrong with her, sir. In fact, it’s pleasant to see that she’s made human friends!

Oh, right now is a little bit of a strange case, so please don’t think badly on us! Let’s see if we can get you added on to… ah!? Guests are guests!”

A crude ledger is pulled out by the man in a rush to get Adris’ money, yet he is soon obstructed in some way as he grinds his teeth.

One of the man’s sleeves tightens of its own accord.


(“Us” meaning at least two! And this person can use magic… but why don’t I feel anything!?)


No fake aura is circulating, something that is always obvious when used. Instead, the man’s robe feels as dangerous as the room, which reminds Adris of a certain sinner in blue’s random powers.


(An enemy like Still?)


“… Adris… are you okay…?”


A sweet voice is full of despair as she whispers from the door. Poking her head past the curtain, Ave is shaking a bit as she enters, until she notices the man staffing the counter is alone.

“Oh! Mister Salmeron, it’s just you!? Yay! Did Kol already take the other bags to the room?”

“Ah, Ms. Avenalliah! It’s… a pleasure to see you safely returned…”

Ave rushes over and sets down her own bag, before putting her hands to the counter eagerly and beaming at the inoffensive man.

“Miss Sha is out!? That’s great~! It’s always hard to apologize to her! She’s really beautiful, but she isn’t as kind with guests, at least in comparison to a gentleman like you!” Reaching into her bag, Ave rummages around for something while she keeps talking.

“I know you keep saying I should try to talk to her, but I get the feeling she really doesn’t like me!? Which is a shame, because you and I get along so well, and I can rarely talk to humans as well as I can with you! It’s a shame, because I tell her lots of places she can take you and—





Why is my hair going up…?”




Adris’ eyes flick to the green ponytail, which is indeed levitating of its own accord.

As it goes up, Ave begins to lift off the ground, too.


“… Ah.”

Like a marionette, the elf’s face turns green as she’s pulled toward the ceiling.


(I can’t feel what’s wrapped around her! How has something attacked her without the cross reacting!?)



The struggling elf starts screaming, before shifting air loops over her mouth and closes it.


(It’s not air! It’s… silk!?)




Nearly invisible silk threads are tangled around Ave, only detectable as shifts in the light from the lamp on Mr. Salmeron’s counter.


“… It suffices to say, perhaps, that we be in difficulty regarding our accommodations, Adris.”

Dragged in by the entranceway’s silk curtain when it animates, Neesiette lays on her side as she’s pulled. Quickly pulled up towards the darkness, too, Neesiette looks more consigned than frightened.




Unable to intervene, Adris simply smiles upwards with a confident grin.


“I was led to believe that this establishment was of the highest quality. Do the guests stay in rooms, or attached to the ceiling?”




“How strange you are, young thing.”

In a no-nonsense manner of speaking, a pensive voice with a light, feminine lilt calls down to him.


“Strange in what way, Miss Sha? Does the spider not claim full ownership of her web, as she should?” Pleasant in all ways, Adris loses tension as he throws himself into this meeting.




(It’s not a beehive. I’ve walked straight into a spider’s lair.)


Darkness fading as if born of magic, it’s instead revealed to be silk lengths that once absorbed the light around them. Numerous rooms stretch to the top of the cone, and are accessible only by flying or climbing.

Which would be hazardous with the thick webbing all around.


(Her web is all around outside. Spiders can sense vibrations, meaning she knew we were coming long before we could know she was here.)




At the center of this room and descending cautiously is a dangerous beauty.




With short blond hair that’s clipped in the front and wildly unrestrained in the back; six pupil-less, blue eyes that cage him in their combined stares; and a body that merges the elegant ebony carapace of a sleek arachnid with the figure of a nubile woman, this figure that holds his comrades in half-cocooned bondage near her is apprehensive in how she regards him.

Though most dresses would simply expose themselves due to gravity, the soft, ruffled long-dress she wears has lengths anchored onto her spider-limbs, preventing them from falling up.

With as elegant as this dress is, her thin halter top with a fanciful web-patterned back length leaves her body covered by an hour-glass-like, transparent body glove otherwise exposed. The glove swirls up over to hook to her chitinous-plated forearms, which are currently resting over her luxurious breasts and preventing them from drooping.


(It’s strange how attractive that effect is. I wonder if Lycia could do the same thing?)


Silk materials used for her clothes are a fetching deep purple and blue, with numerous tassels in a variety of colors reminding him of the strange female bush sages of the east who dressed in multi-colored feathers and could subvert the hearts of even aura users.


Just as dangerous as them, this woman is a blank who appears neither weak nor strong, merely present.


(Only supremely skillful beings can hide their power from me.)




“Do you not know fear of monsters, boy? Or is it not knowing when it’s appropriate that is difficult?”

Curling her mouth, the proprietress reveals fangs longer than Ave’s when she extends them. Ave continues to cry as the woman brings the bound elf closer to her, stroking the poor girl’s cheek with inhuman fingers.


“A beauty such as yours is a welcome sight, not a fearful one, madame. I can only covet your face greeting me every day upon leaving my room.”

Full of joy, Adris lays it on as thick as is possible, earning a curious blink from every one of her eyes.


“You… what?” Even the man beside him gawks.


“Oh my? … So, not a normal human. That should go without saying.”

Shocked senseless at first, she then frowns momentarily before smiling. Her hulking spider body lowers to scratch on the floor as she takes in the small lad reaching his hand out.

Far greater in size than him, destroying Adris with her strength alone would be simple; yet, she lets him take her own hand after great forethought.


He brings it to his lips, giving her a slight kiss.


“Adris fehl Dain is my name. Castillo conqueror is my ambition. Of all the beauties of the Castillo I’ve encountered, yours would certainly knock off quite a number on that list.”

“… Slayer…? Is this why you don’t properly fear?” Though she minds her manners, her clacking feet as she shifts and the slight deranging of her smile prompt Adris’ swift retort.

“Far from it. ‘False god’ be my vocation, if one need ask. I seek not to cause harm, but to liberate. Such base actions as theirs should never be carried out by a gentleman.”




(I have no idea what I’m doing, but charm is the only way out of this.)




Throwing himself into his most heart-claiming mannerisms, Adris is receiving very impressive results. As the woman grows more interested, the man behind the counter’s eyes are stuck on the hand Adris holds.

This martial figure hiding in plain sight is gripping the counter hard enough to almost crack it.


(Frightening. You’re not a normal human, either, if you’re jealous of a monster’s romantic meetings.)


Sizing both up, he notices that the woman, too, has seen the man’s discomfort. As she gives a slightly amorous smile and a sigh, the man hurries around the counter, coming to stand beside her.


“Ah, greetings, young Adris. I am Roberto Salmeron. This is my sister, Meltisha Salmeron! Welcome to the Welcome Web! … Although, ‘false god’ is a title that is terribly impious, yet I suppose youths such as yourselves are wont to commit such errors.”

The man betrays no further distress after stealing Adris’ hand away to shake it.


(… Sister? In what world!? No, they have exactly the same hair, skin, and eye colors!?)


In addition to this, their facial features are remarkably similar.


(Breeding between humans and monsters is possible…?)


Suddenly, Adris remembers that he’s seeded two kobolds.

Adris throws himself into his greetings to prevent himself from folding up in despair.




“A pleasure. Joining up with my comrades and coming here, I was made to believe that their inn of choice was exceedingly welcoming, matching its name…?”


Hand behind his head and showing a winning smile, Mr Salmeron continues.

“We’re pleased to have the chance to prove that…! … Is what I would normally say, but we have a slight… issue with your companions.”

Miss Sah snarls at him with open contempt at the comment.

“In all ways are we welcoming, young boy… especially when collecting debts.”


(… You shitty girls!)


Sparing a look upward, Neesiette’s eyes appear understanding of Adris’ annoyed look, while Ave’s face is blushing in embarrassment.




“What sort of financial difficulty might they have?”

“Oh, that is… a somewhat…”

“What my tongue-tied brother is attempting to say is that they owe us a season’s payment for their back-rent. How odd, that they could accrue such a debt despite my brother constantly maintaining the ledger?”

As the man sweats with his sister’s friendly hand on his shoulder, he offers a self-denigrating smile.


(You’ve been giving them a break without her knowing it.)


“How terrible they’ve been, to not properly offer money for such fine services. I will be sure to reprimand them appropriately. How about we clear away their debt?”


(After all, we just hit the jackpot.)



“Really!? That’d be great— ah, Meltisha, it’s fine if they pay!”

Trying to go to the ledger, the woman holds the man firm.

“Merely paying their debt absolves them not of accruing it in the first place, nor of their interest, you flagrant charity maniac.”

Pulling him by the ear, the man smiles like a saint as she looks vexed.

“Lord Zsinj demands piety by example! How else to demonstrate this other than charity to kind, destitute girls?”

“Kind girls, or one in particular?”


Ave begins twirling wildly in the air with this hissed whisper. Her tears fly everywhere to sate a jealous spark.


(Can control her webs without gesturing. That’s horrifying.)


“Meltisha, I don’t court guests! I only court Lord Zsinj! A man of the cloth must—!”

“Must be the focus of every lass who happens upon him, if you are the example.”

“That’s grossly unfair! Are you not the shameless girl who draws…! No, nevermind, please forgive my outburst.” Getting red-faced angry at first and roaring loudly, the man quickly turns servile as he apologizes to Adris.




(What a strange pair.)


Adris feels a tension between the two “siblings” as he picks up on this obvious show. Meltisha demonstrates deep paranoia regarding women when she lightly strokes her brother’s shoulder.


(While at my efforts, this guy gets pissy and interrupts anything getting good…? I think that’s hilarious.)


Losing all concern, Adris realizes this display for what it is.


(These two are not harmful people. They want to know about me and the girls.)


If they aren’t dangerous except when threatened, then they’re future business partners.




“Shall we settle their debts in all accounts?” Adris takes on a business-like attitude and a plain tone.

“Oh? Is this not boastful confidence from a boy who covers his closest assets with a girl’s cloth?” Smirking at him, this sexy spider woman flicks her tongue out for a moment. “No matter how unafraid you are, how can an equally destitute-looking traveler do what four girls couldn’t—?”


Ave’s bag holds the key to their salvation as the woman’s eyes watch for hostility, for he pulls out several Castillo gold pieces and shuts her up with the gleaming sight.


“Is seeing not believing, madame?”

“… Oh? How wonderfully mistaken I am, misreading a young gentleman’s resourcefulness!”

Going from smirking to jovial, the woman’s six eyes glint with the gold, before she looks conflicted.

“And what of interest…?”

“That as well. It’s only dutiful to pay what is so expertly provided for, especially as a loan.”


(Don’t haggle with innkeepers. You’ll wind up murdered in your bed or poisoned.)


A lesson from Xin learned by many travelers dictates that you always give innkeepers exactly what they demand, so long as you are sure they’re not brigands.


The woman’s eyes turn soft as she leans down to reveal her cleavage a bit more, for her delight earns Adris a nice view.

“Very insightful. That leaves the issue of the permanent alterations they’ve made to the room, doesn’t it?” Grinning with malice, even her brother makes a hard face at this point.

“It’s going to be hard to rent a room that’s turned into a forest, should they vacate.”




Adris cannot understand their survival after breaking such a cardinal rule, other than unending compassion from the innkeepers.


“… Of course we would cover that… But I should like to first know how you’ve held them in bondage without contest? I am far from unobservant and would be considered knowledgeable of magic, yet I feel none?”

Dangerously so, the woman’s spider body rears back as she smiles down on him.

“An inn’s security would surely be vexing for others the less they know about its workings, right?”

“Regarding them, it’s an absolute. If you’re binding them, I would have them freed.”

“… Out of the question. They’ve already pulled this stunt once before. If I can’t compel certain assurances then they’re not welcome, anymore. I refuse to lose future payment when they welsh again. Only by keeping them at web’s length may they pay off their debts with their bodies, if necessary.”


Neesiette’s advice about malevolence from non-evil creatures makes sense now, as Adris watches this otherwise congenial woman grow proud of her twisted hold on his allies.

While her brother rubs his cheek in dismay at her open amusement, she gets off on the unequal bargaining stance between Adris and herself.


(What a piece of work! Though, I don’t disagree: if you have the higher position, then exploit it. In this way, you are very competent.)




“Then let’s exchange confidences:

rather than changing the room’s layout back and holding them in bondage through your talents, why don’t I simply rent it for a number of seasons in advance and fill your coffers all at once?”




“Wonderful, young master! Such brilliant solutions you have.”

Clapping her hands, the woman pulls them back to run along her chitinous forearms before touching human flesh.

She leans forward cutely during this show, before holding her arms out as if to embrace him.


“Welcome to the Welcome Web! I’m thrilled to have the patronage of such an important personage such as yours!”




Changing from a stern, yet sexually provocative, woman into a completely submissive and welcoming matron, she bows low and lets him peer deep between her milky white cleavage.


(Ah, those are quite…)


“Yes, it’s wonderful to have… a boy staying with us who shows excellent manners. Lord Zsinj would be proud of your attachment and fidelity to your group for aiding them in their darkest time!”

Adris minds his gaze while noting the brother’s eyes are closed, yet the veins in his forehead throb. Concealed muscles are bulging, sending Adris into a panic with how strong the man is in truth.


(Scary! Fucking scary! … This is fairly enjoyable to watch, though.)


Relief can be found from his troubles in this incitement play, for the spidermaiden has caught on to Adris’ willing participation in teasing her brother.

Her eyes glint as she approves, though Adris feels no true seduction directed at himself.


(But enough games. I have work to do.)


“A guest such as your stature of course has Devotion or Peca to cover the transaction immediately, yes?” Rubbing his hands, the man pulls out a stone tablet that has engraved into it a strange, “O”-ringed cross with a “v” growing from it at the bottom.


“Unfortunately, I’m unaware of the local currency from having just arrived. As to Devotion… I follow a different Modus, making it unsuitable for me.”

“Arrived without currency or non-Castillo assets? … And a different ‘Modus’? How interesting. Not what you would appear to be at first blush, my wonderful boy?”

The woman regains some of her hostility at the inconsistencies. A knowing look proves Adris hasn’t completely passed her tests.

“… Quite so, but only my travels are strange. Though I’ve met other humans who are unique like me, I assure you that my qualities are the rarest. I pride myself on being fair to those who are fair to me.”

Shrugging at this, she relents her aggression while her brother looks troubled.

“Exchanging Castillo treasure is a bit…?”

“If you would allow one of my comrades to join us, perhaps I can resolve this with her help? Ms. Neesiette, if you could?”


Miss Sha snorts at the request before relaxing.


A figure descends from above. Rather than released, she is simply brought to their height.

Looking unamused, Neesiette’s upside down face and loose amber hair is almost comical, considering how stuck up she always is.


“… Endeavor to be of use, this lady will.”





(A Peca is official coinage pegged to a changing weight of low-class bread, while Devotion has a set rate defined by the Granescians. Devotion is transfered via special magical tablets which are made freely available for business.)


With simple terms provided, he can determine the appropriate cost of a room.


“Method and availability of exchange be the pressing issue for Castillo treasures. Slayers alone possess a public exchange, for they serve as capricious intermediaries for the primary exchanger. Such circumstances make non-humans almost incapable of exchange without… difficulties.”


By his and Neesiette’s calculations the price of the room, even given its size, is exorbitant enough to cause complications.


(This isn’t a high-class inn! Does catering to non-humans really constitute such a mark up?)


“There are no other establishments that allow non-humans, are there?”

Chancing the question, Mr. Salmeron offers a grimace.

“While certain demi-humans are allowed within restricted areas, there are no truly legitimate and above-board options available for all. This is surely in violation of my Lord’s rules, yet I cannot get the mayor to understand…”


(If they want cheaper rates, they stand the chance of being abducted or abused.)


“As it is, exchange cannot be immediately completed.”

Displaying a portion of their trove confirms his ability to pay out. Adris sets up a temporary bond by turning over a portion of the total payment to them equal to the back-rent, interest, and half of damages.


“Within the week, I will seek proper exchange within Slayer’s Call. For my personage, it should prove no issue. I will be counting on the two of you to provide services until then.”

“Of course! Please enjoy your stay. Though it’s not the finest in all ways, Welcome Web is still a first-rate inn for security and I would say that our business’ most useful feature is that we do not worry about asking uncomfortable questions. We’ll always protect you and your wonderful friends!”

The baby-faced monk bows lightly while handing him a placard that proves his ownership of the room.


(Of that I can tell, given the invisible warning webs everywhere and two hulking powerhouses as owners.)




“Miss Sha! I’m sorry! We weren’t trying to avoid you! I swear we were going to repay you!”

“… Just like last time? Please do not forget that the only reason you were allowed to stay after that incident was because you submitted to my terms regarding involuntary repayment.”


Ave is begging for forgiveness from the once perturbed arachnid woman after being released.


“It’s not like that! Mr. Salmeron was just always willing to overlook it until our next hunt! I constantly offered to get money from the market, but he kept saying it would be dangerous for a girl as cute as I am to— I’M SORRY!? PLEASE DON’T BE MAD!? G-G-GOOD NIGHT!?”

Buckling under the sudden pressure that threatens to crush all present, Ave dashes away at top speed toward their room, joining with Kol who is already leaving without a care.


“… Troubles caused by others be embarrassing. Apologies once more be offered by this lady. Our benefactors shall be apprised of our activities and plans upon completing our ‘long’. Should Still arrive openly, let her know as well that all be cleared.”

Neesiette shows more deference than Adris has seen yet by giving a perfect curtsy before leaving.

“Until then.”


(Time for me to do the same. But, first… I’d like to leave a “tip” for this woman.)




While her monk brother sighs and starts to tidy up for the night, Adris approaches Meltisha and offers his hand.

Staring at him with uncertainty, the off-and-on woman tepidly allows him to take her own.


“I apologize for their actions. Thank you for agreeing to release them from their prior servitude.”


(If they can’t resist you when I need them to, then that means I’d have to fight you alone! I want to know how you did it, too, but that can wait.)


“So long as you uphold your honor, there shall be no need to speak of this again. They do well in finding someone of your… caliber to negotiate for them.”

“As they have done well for entrusting themselves to the protection and watch of a pious man and his lovely sister.”


Kissing her hand once more, she curls her lips, before blushing furiously on demand and subtly pulling him a bit closer with the contact.


“Inconveniencing a woman of your esteem is a capital offense. In their place, I offer what is the rarest thing of all: my deepest appreciation and affections.”

“My, my, what a delectable boy you are… Had I known a gentleman as important as you was their…?”

Adris waves his hand at her attempt to discover his station with them.

“Ah, I would merely be their benefactor. I find myself keeping business and pleasure separate…”

With the fake air of attraction that brews between them thickening…






A deep, guttural voice of surprise pierces into Adris’ skull.

Yet instead of showing concern, this tempting woman’s blush starts turning real as she glances sidelong at the man who is reacting.




“… As for pleasure, I find it hard to keep my heart still around a certain beauty. All of my calmness threatens to vanish.”

Letting himself grow visibly flustered, he begins to bring her hand towards his lips once more.

“My? Who is this beauty you find yourself unable to calm around, dear boy?”

She purses her red-painted lips as his own near her hand.




Please, share with us the name of this young lady, Mr. Adris.


Taking his hand away forcefully, the man with closed eyes starts gripping it again.

Very stiffly.


“For the honor of Lord Zsinj and to aid your wavering heart: tell me which of those four girls has caught your fancy, so that I might soothe your worries?”

He draws Adris closer, making the boy realize this part might be serious.

“I advise you of one thing, though. My Lord is very clear about hurting others through being insincere! If your feelings toward one of them are certain, then be true to them! So long as you do so, you will always be calm!”

The monk smiles at the end of his advice, leaving Adris sweating a bit as he feels the air spark when the man squeezes more firmly.




(She uses magic, which means she’s fair game for deflection.)




“Sincerity is important. Ah, but I am quite conflicted, for some reason. It’s as though… someone has ensorcelled my heart and stolen my mind?”

Turning to look at Meltisha as if he’s been manipulated by her, the woman is shocked at first by the naked look of longing on Adris’ face before she returns it herself.


“Of course you’d feel that way? … Isn’t it true?”

She offers a tempting, sidelong gaze that invites Adris to join her, before creeping off to leave the two males alone.




“… [How immaculate this light, one that purifies flesh and drives away the dark!] AWAKENING.

White, misty light erupts from Adris’ body when the man intones a spell. Adris sinks back with a vacant look on his face for a moment, for the shock of magic being used so swiftly exceeds his experiences.

Nodding his head after judging Adris freed of whatever ensorcellment was spoken of, Roberto turns and ceases to acknowledge Adris as his booming voice accuses his sister.



… Ah, I look forward to our partnership, Mr. Adris! Good night!”




With Adris quickly exiting while observing the growing fight, the woman’s body demonstrate its suppleness as she runs her hands along it without a care, finally yawning as Roberto grabs onto her waist and pulls the larger spider woman closer.

“Oh, little Robbie, so petulant. As if a petty god can stop ‘love’.”

“Enticing men using your witchery is love, now!? It is bad enough that you tangle them up in the streets when I’m not looking! I barely stop you from drawing slayers!”

“But I can’t help it. A woman has needs…”


“Or you’ll do what, brother~?”





Adris nods his head towards the woman, who only briefly acknowledges him before he escapes to the second floor to escape the argument heating up.


(… This whole world is full of freaks, but at least that woman…)


The last look she gave was one of deep approval for Adris’ efforts.

Earning something extra on the top, Adris hopes it won’t come back to bite him.





“It’s only one bed, but it’s big! We got the largest suite!”


Fancifully showing him around with energy he didn’t know she still had, Ave was waiting at the door to invite him in.


Looking like a large inn room for a high-paying guest, the obvious detriments are the vines clinging to the walls that come in from a window, with the wood making up the walls seeming like it’s coming alive, too. Creepers cover the ceiling as well, leaving the atmosphere definitely “foresty”.

Almost perfectly divided into two parts, the floor and shelves nearest to the door are full of junk and equipment strewn about. Looking like things Kol would own or want, the invisible line halfway into the middle of the bed gives way to a perfectly organized show of stacks and display racks with various elven art pieces and curios.

Only two windows exist in this corner room, with the unclogged one being dedicated to what looks like a shrine of some sort on a table, with a small white chair at the center.


(A large room so Ave can get around in it… leaving only one bed…?)


“Isn’t it wonderful!? Real plants are way better than drawn ones! It took me a while to get them to grow right, but I think it’s great! Come see this!”

The girl races through the pile of possessions all over Kol’s “side” of the room as she comes to coil before a crystalline tree standing in a corner, gushing the whole time about her collection.




When Ave reaches over to grab a leaf, Neesiette’s sparking rod comes out.

Wrestling with the doll when she tries to target Ave, Adris pulls the struggling madwoman into his embrace while trying to keep her quiet.




“Ah, we were in there for a number of days! One for each day!

‘Oh wondrous lord of airy dance whose spirited name be Pellaeon, we acknowledge the leaves which turn brown and fall as we move toward the cold before rebirth’!”

Neesiette brutally flinches with each crystal leaf plucked by elvish hands from the beautiful tree. Upon finishing with her destruction, Ave smiles proudly as all life momentarily leaves Neesiette.


“It’s called a spiritsapling! Elves use it to honor the passing— why are you holding Neesiette like that!?”

Ave frets while rushing over, before dodging out of the way when Neesiette tries to kick her.

“What is it with you!? I didn’t even do anything wrong, yet still you hate me!” Sad at the attack, Ave grows depressed.


“She’s just tired… probably.”

“Does she even get tired…? Ah, come see this, Adris! I have so much to show you!”


Streaking off, Ave begins to pull various knickknacks from a shelf to hold up, gloating or commenting on them as she does so.


“Why, Neesiette?”

“… Deserving total revocation of one’s right to exist does the act of desecrating a truly unique artifact.” Without energy, the lady sent from above vanishes her rod while softly explaining.

“That ‘sapling’ be an artifact from the First Age whose existence be irreplaceable, assured as such by this lady’s special insight. … Yet, day by day a lizard destroys it in front of this very lady. Forbidden from intervening, too cruel this be to just helplessly witness.”

The slightest sadness assaults her before she gives up.


(I see.)




“Shut up, Elf. Sleep.”


Already stripping in front of Adris, Kol’s naked body is flopped onto the bed. She is out almost instantly while breathing heavily and sweating.


Released by Adris, Neesiette wanders over and checks her.

“Nothing be out of place… Clearing after a ‘long’ may be hoped for. Unfortunate this be that she succumbs so soon to slumber…”


“… And if you see here, it’s from the Second Age. The people of the Lost Greens of Ariador to the far east used it to defeat a great warlord of the mountains of…~” Whispering as soft as she can, Ave shows him an unstrung, jeweled recurved bow made of some animal’s horns.

Energetic to a fault, Ave has cornered Adris for the foreseeable future.

Neesiette stares between the babbling elf and Kol, wondering what to do.


“… Without Still to mediate, proper greetings and introductions must wait, then.”


Using steps next to the window to ascend to the table under it, she settles into the chair and bathes in violet light from Traveler on high. The small girl finally begins to approach something like being relaxed for the first time since he’s met them.


“Sleep well, Adris. Respite such as this be deserved. A few complaints may be spoken of about one’s nature, behavior, and actions, but those be truly few in comparison to a newt’s.

In earnestness, apply oneself tomorrow, as well.”


Nodding once, the girl closes her eyes as she appears to meditate, sleep, or cease functioning.







Ave now holds clothes in one hand, pulling her long ponytail free from her adornments with the other. The hair slides down her shoulders and back.

Unsure of what she needs, she nudges him.

“Ave… I’m… I’m going to… take a bath, before sleeping… Adris.”


Looking at him with a soft expression, she doesn’t say anything else as she shifts slightly.


(… Are you expecting me to ask to join you!?)


Though not as proactive as in the Castillo, Adris is still picking up on signals being dumped on him.


“A good idea. The grime of delving should be removed so that we may be born again with renewed passion.”

“Right! You’re always poetic with everything~. I wish I had that touch.”

She cheers brightly before blinking and turning red.

“… Right, I’ll go second! You deserve to experience it first~!”


Sounding a bit disappointed, she nonetheless shrugs it off as she offers him the chance.




(… There’s only one bed…)






“… Ah, if you touch it so forcefully, then have I not landed a sinful man yet another time in my webs?”


“… Like father, like brother ❤…!”




Adris sips a fruit-tasting drink he found inside the inn while sitting out on its patio. Quite tart, the alcoholic content is sadly lower than he’s used to.


(The first thing they do after fighting downstairs is ascending to the top of her fortress for “passion theater”? What an odd… couple.)


Listening to their play coming from a concealed window the woman opened, Adris is cooling off after the bath he took in the walk-in tiled room on the first floor. Far more extravagant than he’s used to, amenities like permanently warm tubs of fresh water are turning this inn into a welcome investment.


(Far too much is monetarily promised on it! The benefits are immense, though:


1) Powerful protectors of reliable temperament, if they’re willing to passive-aggressively aid those four girls.

2) Quick access to multiple areas of Petripolis, including the human sections.

3) Seclusion from prying eyes, if I believe the amount of work put into its defenses.)


Already, Adris is becoming accustomed to the “sorceries” he’s found when inspecting the perimeter. Much like Still’s strange magic, this Meltisha’s work is somehow both less refined and more potent. Combined with her transparent web that can detect touch, Welcome Web has become a useful base.


(They’re in the same profession? How does Still work…? HM!?)




Approaching from inside is a presence he’s felt most commonly as of late, a fear which sends his body hairs upright.

Trepidation assaults him when the white, nearly naked figure that stumbles outside doesn’t disappoint with the miasma leaking from her.




Neesiette must assist Kol in walking, for the kobold finds difficulty breathing as her claws scratch at her bosom.

“Unable to discern her ailment this lady be, Adris. Still be unreachable. Assist.”


Calmly rushing over, he kneels beside Kol as she places her hands on his shoulders for support. The wild girl’s forehead is as wickedly hot as her breath.


(… And it feels strange?)


Moving his hands over her body to key points for aura users, Adris draws Neesiette’s skepticism as he begins doing a once over using knowledge from Xin.

Adris comes to Kol’s stomach and lifts up her tunic. The scaled left and right side of her belly produces a strange connection between his hands when touching there.


(Ah? … AH!? That’s… not… possible?)


Yet, blood pressure, perspiration, body heat, muscle tension, and other aura circulation points all confirm it.


“… Neesiette, leave us.”



(I don’t have time! We have to start now!)


“Boss!? Why, so hot… painful, inside!?”

Gripped by the slightly broken girl, Adris grimaces as he considers the odds.


(One in twelve, maybe!?)


“I don’t have time to explain. What’s affecting her requires immediate treatment. Only I have the knowledge to do it.”

“… Clarify.”


Adris yanks Neesiette close to Kol when the doll won’t budge.




“If you care about Kol, then relent! She’s going… to die or be crippled if I can’t save her.”


Allowing his frustration and immediacy out in his voice, Adris’ eyes plead for obedience.

Neesiette’s mouth is opened briefly while she tilts her head in confusion, before she finally finds the words.




“… Entrusted you be with her salvation. Does one need anything?”

“No, only Kol can save herself. I can only lead her to it.”




As she breathes harder and can no longer remain standing, Adris feels his heart beginning to beat along with Kol’s without his control.




When Neesiette walks away and leaves him holding the strained girl, Adris is truly fearful for the first time in a while for his potential inadequacy.

For he’s only dealt with this one time before.




(She’s stuck part way through an aura awakening!?



Fuck you, Serras!

Fuck you, Xin!


Fuck me!!!)







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?”

“My, aren’t you getting quite ahead of yourself? Rather than worrying about the plans of others, shouldn’t you be drafting your own?”


“Will you go after women who are taken already? Isn’t that quite vulgar? No, but aren’t you a vulgar man, originally?”



“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’?”

“Relieved of the effects of the Castillo, what will he do?”


“Easily throws off suspicion by casting it upon others.”



“Is willing to play with others and their games, so long as he benefits.”



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…?”

“Will you not check up on her?”


“If she suddenly starts using aura techniques, will you be content or pull your hair out, Adris?”



“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.”

“Denied of what should’ve been hers, she took treasure to compensate.”


“Having displayed strange abilities for quite a while, they had always seemed incomplete. Now, it might be understood why.”



“Here we go.”



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?”

“Do you appreciate what she does or merely rely upon it? Which is more dangerous? Adris, do you not understand women?”


“You seem to have ended up on her good side, for once?”



“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.”

“Appears to repay debts, if begrudgingly at times.”


“Shows that she doesn’t stay with them, but the question then is where does the girl call home?”



“Disappears when she’s needed the most… But she wouldn’t have helped Kol? No, she probably would’ve, then stabbed her afterwards.”



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?”

“Is Petripolis the place to find other charming ladies like this one?”


“Do you not feel she regards herself as royalty in many ways?”



“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…?”

“Though not the leader of the party, she seems most eager to be at the side of…?”


“Within a room owned by two girls mostly, she claims only one spot, a throne made for her.”



“Might be set to the side too much. I feel I need to make her more erotic, but she’s a very conscientious girl.”



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?”

“How do you feel about her eccentricities, now that you are freed from your libido?”


“Why didn’t you join her?”



“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?”

“Though she’s kind, she doesn’t let others try and take what she’s claimed.”


“An elf in all ways, she is also their biggest fangirl.”



“I’ve known people that are like this.”





Welcome Web – “One of the only inns in Petripolis which allows non-humans, it is also a place that even slayers will not tread.”



Chapter 56         Table of Contents          Chapter 58