Take Up the Cross – CH6: Wondrous Works

Adris rounds a dark corner, a walkway stretching out before him.


All around him is space.


Great, floating shelves full of books stretch vertically in both directions, without symmetry or planning given to their placement. Pillars change elevation freely in the air, in many cases shaped like organic life dredged from the sea floor. Lanterns without fire burn with bright light, flitting in and out of existence while weaving between bookshelves.


Enclaves of brick, stone, and shell fill the void. Separated, but for narrow walkways, they reside between runs of tubes, pipes, and decorative glass works that wind haphazardly through the area.


Sound is both muffled and amplified, conversations from afar heard close, while his own footsteps fail to echo.


The proportions of the various structures are strange, like the blue room behind him. The space twists in such a way that platforms can seemingly invert in the distances; yet, people walk on them, when they should be falling to their deaths.




Where no structures reside, fog is the god of this sundered land.




Adris retreats back into the comforting darkness behind him.


“Hmmm? Hmmmmm?” Adris stupidly hums to himself, his normally adaptive mind overloaded by the sight.


(So, I am in hell, though one distinct from the compacted depths where scaled monsters supposedly dwell. If it’s not the hell I’ve been taught is real, then where is this?)


Moving tepidly out onto the walkway, he peers over it, seeing that the same scenery continues much further down until it, too, is devoured by fog. As he cannot fly, Adris has few, sane options to choose from.

Ahead, he sees a sign at a crossway. What it says provides no difficulty in reading, but also offers no help.


<= Subsection 54-B: Aurelian Crossbreeding Society/Aurelian Purity Cadre: Contested Sector (Hazard Level: A)

=> Cross-Section 22-Lucent: Council of Dark Elders (Tentative Name) (Hazard Level: ???), Main Artery Access: Lambda/Delta-Echelons


Adris’ brain isn’t working, the only plausible explanation for how nonsensical the words are.


(“Hazard level” sounds important, and “contested” means fighting. Of the two directions, right seems less immediately dangerous.)


Adris looks behind, seeing a sign above the corner he exited.


Tertiary Testing Adjunct 993: Condemned/Misplaced,




A sign below this one, made of cheaper materials, reads:


Main Laboratory of the Theoretical Heretical Alchemies Department

Dept Head: Symphonia Dupres



Squinting at this, Adris notices that the room, itself a floating building, appears to be encased in constricting vines attached to the walkway under him.

The walkway has buckled at the tension placed on it, as the floating building attempts to free itself even now.


(What the hell is wrong with this hell?)


Adris quickly departs the ongoing crime scene, choosing to take the right path. It winds through shelves, floating jagged walls, and now unholy statues, idly hovering, stretching out into fog…





A boy tumbles along the ground, barely tucking on impact to roll, rather than smashing his face against the floor. Barreling along it out of control, he finally comes to a stop upon hitting a wall.


Panting heavily, he looks up into what is now the sky.


A walkway hangs inverted overhead. Gravity changed the moment he jumped from it, throwing him at the island he now rests on.


(This is madness.)


It’s the only word Adris possesses to describe his situation.

Almost naked, hungry and thirsty, and nearly dying at the slightest change in environmental gravity, the foggy abyss he traverses has begun to scratch at his already damaged mind.


(I’m not… going to lose.)


Getting up slowly and checking to make sure that nothing has broken, Adris moves towards an opening in the wall of this island’s building.


A sign next to the entrance says “Bypass.”


Within, a pathway exists between two seemingly disconnected areas, the sounds of activity coming from the walls he walks between.

Hearing whispering ahead, conversation closer than what came from the fog outside, Adris moves forward covertly.


“Time is limited. A homunculus (FALSE FLESH SERVANT), even one made by my brilliance, won’t survive close circumspection.”

An annoyingly high, female voice speaks.


Adris creeps behind bookcases pulled out from the wall in this low-ceiling, dead end of a room.  When he comes to the edge of the last of the bookcases…


“Four [Quicks] (RESTFUL VIGORS) and speak the recall command, or your safety is forfeit. They’ll never discover who did it, only find you with the cat.”


The room Adris peers into is dimly lit by a fire burning on open floor, no visible fuel feeding it.

The brick-and-stone connecting passage leads to a door full of darkness ahead, while two ramps go up and down to the left and right. The ramp down leads deep into the unknown, while the ramp upwards ends brokenly into open space, almost as if it’s been consumed by the fog.


Blue-coated figures, all wearing black masks that conceal their identities, stand in an equidistant circle around the fire.


The woman that spoke is of average height, with long, blue hair curling out of her cowl, her body overly curvaceous. She rests her hand on a large cage holding a depressed, monstrous black jungle cat, one with four ears, two tails, sharp teeth, and a languid expression on its face.




“It’s your word that it’s the real thing, yes?” Sneers a portly man with a thick, red beard braided into two weaves ending in silver knobs, open suspicion to his tone. “So brilliant you are that you might con me with a copy?”

Unlike the others, Adris’ feels a sense of physical danger to him, as though his smaller size belies prodigious strength.

He carries a large satchel over his shoulder, and Adris is able to see a glimpse of filled, glass jars within.


The blue-haired woman scoffs at his accusation.

“No mere genius can replicate the brand used by my leader, examine it if you desire. And the meat?”


“Doubt me?” Says the the last figure, a red-skinned woman with a deep, lusty voice.

A sharp horn poking through her mask and odd, sandy hair rolling out from behind it, these features instantly destroy Adris’ hopes. Her breasts are bigger than the blue-haired woman’s, barely contained by her blue coat, though her ass is not as prodigious.


“I’ll make you eat your doubts as you lick my… No, nevermind, you might enjoy that. The meat is exactly to height, weight, and build. Your list is complete on all metrics, even her hairstyle.”


She stands beside a naked woman kneeling on the ground: a platinum-blond girl with ringlet hair, perky breasts, fair skin, a young, noble face with blue eyes, and red, kissable lips.

The odd contrast to this is her toned ass and muscles, and almost perfectly, artificially cut scars into her body, giving her a look of danger that is supported by neither her expression nor demeanor.

The woman with overly perfect, conflicting features is bound by chains bearing mystical characters engraved into them, with her trying to cover her breasts and hidden crevice, but failing to do so.


She looks ashamed; but, also… expectant.


The red woman pulls the girl forward, making her crawl forward, naked, to be seen more clearly.


“What is this? What are you doing!? You’re not going to… put me with that, horrible beast, are you…? There’s no way it can… fit! Hah…!”

The human girl’s face flushes as she asks, her hand going up from her breasts to pull at her ringlets idly. Her words belie her obvious interest in the cat.


Adris stares on with dead eyes, reminded of the black-haired trollop’s assault on him.


“Eh… It would be more enjoyable if she wasn’t so…”

Even the blue-haired woman sounds disappointed, put off by the neediness.




In this hidden space, the shadows move on their own as everyone is momentarily silent.




(Is this a secret exchange… or a minstrel show…?)


“As if I care about your commitment to non-consent! You’re getting an excellent deal, for so useless an experiment!”

Frustrated, the red-skinned woman screams this, before looking towards the man, asking, “You have the lubricants and tonics?”


“The newest.” The man chuckles sardonically. “Unlike the woman who can’t study something unless it’s forced, I am capable of some measure of professionalism, so long as you can match it.”


The horned woman clicks her tongue, and then inquires in a curious tone, “… what subject are you testing the cat on?”

When the man doesn’t answer, instead looking idly to the side, she asks in a depressed voice, “There is a real test subject, right…?”


“Why do you care!? My research has actual applications! We all intimately understand how you spawn whelps! No mystery there. Only the quantity of pups you could spit out before you croak would impress me.”


The air is tense, as the tall woman and short man stare at each other, with the blue-haired woman leaning over a bit to inspect the ringlet girl, saying, “She looks an awful lot like a Chosen…”


“Take it or leave it!” The horned woman makes a clear ultimatum.

Adris senses some duplicity in her suddenly nervous voice.

The portly man nods, noting, “Time is a factor…”


The blue-haired woman looks at the caged cat, the cat looking away as it tries to be unseen, before speaking.

“The expedition out into the Castillo will begin today. Everyone going will be assembling… Ah, those idiots from Tempesta called out Neo-Askelon, too. If you’re going that way, try not to explode.”


(… Those names are familiar. No, more than familiar… Useful.)


Adris focuses now, picking out who is going where.


The horned woman startles a bit at the statement, and says, “… I’ll be leaving with the expedition. There will be no further exchanges until I return.”




Adris chooses his target.


“Are you two done? Can we begin the [Oath]?” The portly man whines.

Nodding silently, they hold up chains, a multitude of them tied together in a mass, in their right hands before them.


The three speak at the same time.


“““A known deal, for unknown agency, yet for emerging wisdom. Great Mother, witness our transaction, and let no one speak of it.”””


The chains glow deep blue, as the shadows whisper and move, with air rushing down the lower ramp. Adris feels colder, heat sucked out from his body and surroundings.


His own aura wavers with the external feeling. Something in the air feels heavy, like when powerful aura expands to fill it.




The glowing ceases with the same word spoken in three voices. The three figures relax their tension, looking lazy now as they lose their formality and take up natural postures.


The portly man deposits the satchel in front of the red woman, the blue woman releases a complex lock on the wheels of the cat’s cage using a brass key, and the red-haired woman speaks the word “Exchange” as she points at the blue-haired woman, an act which causes ringlet girl’s mystical chains to glow green for a moment.


“A pleasure, as always. Come, cutie. Kekekeke…~” The blue-haired woman distastefully laughs as she takes the ringlet girl’s chains, rubbing her hand between the enslaved woman’s butt from behind, causing the girl to shriek a bit as she’s led ahead of her new master.

“No women! NO!” They walk down the ramp, the ringlet girl uselessly resisting and whining as she cringes.


The red-haired girl picks up the satchel, looking lost in thought, rubbing her stomach before nodding to herself.

“No matter how large… A worthy challenge…”

She exits through the door behind them, silent as a ghost as she vanishes into the deep gloom.


“Hello, pretty cat… I have wanted to meet you for a. Long. Time.” The portly man laughs creepily as he inspects his prize.

Adris tenses, full of terror at the depraved voice, hiding himself back behind the bookcase.


When he calms down a second later, he peers around the bookcase…


… and makes eye contact with the cat. Which opens its fanged mouth.


“Help me.”

The monstrous black cat begs, its voice high. Its eyes are hard and full of despair.


Adris ignores the beast. The cat huffs and then lays down, resigned to its fate.


“Hmm, strong voice. Oh, glorious Mother, if only I could be as graceful as a cat… At least there’s other parts that I can acquire… Fufu…”

The portly man trundles off while laughing, pulling the cat’s large cage easily. They disappear down the lower ramp.


Time passes as the light they set before them using some power extinguishes.


Adris says a silent remembrance for the cat before creeping ahead into the maddening presence of foul fog roiling into the room, entering the darkness of the far door.

Seeking to tail the red scholar that left to join some expedition, his practiced, silent steps let him move quickly.


(What was that oath? There was a great deal of power in what occurred…)


Adris has never witnessed such a ritual, its bizarre form of great interest. His long subdued curiosity awakens.


(For them to agree to it and place their anonymity on it, does it bind them, somehow? Is it a true contract? How does it function? How… useful would that be?)


External chains that hold participants to their word.


A word that can’t be broken without suffering.




… Free of betrayal?




(Curiosity kills.)


Reminding himself of a maxim, Adris still cannot stop himself from dwelling on it.


(But more than that… you are going somewhere I need to be. And there’s an… opportunity if those organizations are having a “showdown.”)


Because Adris is carrying something that one of them will want.





Swinging around a big wall, he comes out around the corner to see an enclosed room with connecting doors within, several large pipes weaving in from the space outside to plunge within.

Unknown machinery and contrivances are built around portals into these pipes, which lie open to entry.

The end points of these pipes vanish into the fog in the distance.


The woman walks up to one of them, inserting a flat key into a panel. Adris makes note of the key’s shape, while a great vacuum noise begins in response to her turn.

A moment later, she is pulled upward into the tube by the air, shooting up at a speed Adris gawks at.


(This is a way of traveling?)


Adris looks carefully at the pipes as he creeps in.

They don’t bear any words indicating where they go, and the panels themselves are mystical contrivances that defy easy explanation.


(If I wait here, someone will come.)


Adris grips his cross, resolved to wait for as long as it takes, shivering as he hides out of sight of the entrance to the room.


Hunger and thirst grow, but the worst feeling is not these.

A growing lust assaults him, one that pervades every part of him. Like what he felt with the hair woman, he can feel his body heating up as he waits.


(Was some drug used on me…? But the… cross flushed the poison. If it’s not a poison, it is…)


His wait doesn’t take too long, as something is deposited out of one of the pipes to his right, a deafening rush of air exploding out from the pipe.


In front of Adris, a figure about his size is now standing, having landed on its feet with an open book in front of its face.


“Rouvelt won’t work, absorbs too slowly… Humans and demi-humans lack the capacity for enlightened orgasm, to bind and retain potency long enough for use is a bit…”

An airy, dry male voice comes out from behind the book, one titled “Cheaper Reagants and Cheapskates Like You, Ninety-Fifth Edition.


The figure slams the book shut with one hand, letting it fall to his side as he brings his arm up to rub his forehead, massaging to reduce the stress of his closed and dark eyes.

The hand above holds a chain, from which curious, familiar keys hang wobbling.




Adris charges the figure.

The young-looking male with small, nubby horns and slightly bluish skin reopens his eyes, blinking in confusion when he sees Adris closing from his corner.


Still naked and wearing a bloody cloak, the distance vanishes in a moment.

The silver cross is already descending towards the hateful enemy before Adris.


“… What? [Protection of Necessity]!”

A phrase is all the scholar is able to manage, with some green, shimmering shell of light appearing around him, before the hammer of death pierces through it with no resistance.


The cross wallops him on the forehead, a cracking sound accompanying it, one which echoes throughout the area. The enemy violently seizes, then falls to his knees and crumples forward.


Pieces of the mystical shield he called forth tumble along the floor before vanishing as Adris’ victim lies completely still, a lasting slumber delivered to him.


His sanity temporarily bolstered by the satiated bloodlust, Adris drags the scholar and the book, pulling the body along the walkway to a dark corner he had previously found while stalking the red woman.


Adris’ eyes dart around to make sure he hasn’t been noticed…





(A bit baggy.)


Adris tests his limbs, trying to find where the clothing should be tightened.


The scholar’s black, supple leather jerkin and black pants fit loosely under the blue robe.

The plain, gray tunic underneath the jerkin is a bit short.

A roguish, red-loop belt holds up his pants, and his hard shoes are plated with protective iron.


The outfit seals his body well, despite being baggy, and the chill of the great space outside is lessened dramatically.

The potion satchel underneath his coat adds an air of legitimacy to his look.


Though he can’t see his reflection, wearing clothing again, even if not his style, makes Adris feel surprisingly human.


Adris sighs in relief, as he reforms his mental image and focuses his mind.


A human is whatever he’s wearing, son. You can be whatever others expect you to be, hee, as long as the fashion is right.

Adris recalls an ironic lesson from a man who barely fit his own clothes.

A very old ritual plays out in Adris’ mind, one he’s relied on for survival for his whole life.




Completing it, his identity becomes a [Scholar Bound in Madness].




The fear and insecurity fades away with the adoption of his new persona.

(We’re all mad, anyway.)

Adris can’t claim to be totally sane, especially with his struggle against the emotional turbulence from recent tragedies.


Feeling his face, Adris recalls that all of these creatures have inhuman characteristics and skin colors.

Looking in the outer pocket of his pack, he sees the silver mask that he found in the Emperor’s sarcophagus.


(Covering my face may make me appear more inhuman?)


He examines it, the silver light glinting off of it disturbing his thoughts when he does so.

Paying closer attention to it, he feels that something might be wrong with his intentions, but he can’t determine what.


Putting it over his face, he adjusts it.

The mask comfortably covers the upper part of his face quite well.

It’s an excellent disguise.


(… what?)


Adris pales, noticing that he’s wearing the mask, even though he was only considering it as an option.

When he tries to take it off…


The boy yanks at it, trying to remove it off with all of his might, but…


(… it won’t.)


Not just the cross…


(Fuck! They’re both cursed!)





Adris has no time to consider the ramifications of his most recent misfortune as he walks back to the pipe chamber.

He can feel his lust developing into an existential concern.


{A man holds… before him…}


With his rising lust, images are beginning to appear before his eyes. Flashes only, now, but growing with intensity.


Peering up and down into a pipe, there’s no floor, yet travel has been demonstrated as possible.


The scholar’s keyring features irregularly shaped keys with no clue to their functioning, but one stands out.

Clover-shaped at the end, and with an image of a grand doorway with flanking statues engraved into its handle, this was the key the red woman used.


From his pack, Adris looks inside to recover some items he’d yet to find a chance to wear.


The only remaining “trinkets” still in Adris’ possession are a tool which creates a temporary fog by using aura, and his mystical writing tool which deposits ink from a supposedly inexhaustible well.

Of them, the fog around him is thicker than what the tool can usually make, and he has no use for the quill at present.


(Better this, than nothing.)


He is unsure if the fog trinket can even be used, and is unwilling to test it, lest it potentially never work again.


The metal panel possesses various holes and knobs, but only one slot fits his chosen key. Putting it in, he turns the key, pulling it back when it’s forced out of the hole.


The pipe fills with deafening, rushing air.


Some unknown force, other than the air, grabs Adris before he can scream, yanking him into the pipe.

Traveling at enormous speeds, the foggy hellscape rushing by, he promptly passes out from the pressure on his body as he’s thrown around…





Adris refocuses to find an unfamiliar bustle, his spinning equilibrium correcting itself enough for consciousness.


Passing out during the trip leaves him unaware of how far he has traveled, though he is oddly still standing upon arrival. The area is much larger than the previous tube room, instead being an enormous brick-and-stone hallway wrenched loose from a larger enclosure, floating within the abyss.


Passerbys traverse a winding walkway, a maze of junk laid over damaged, once-fine carpeting. The piles of scrap and junk obscure sight, and where they do not, the shell-like constructs found in this room, which itself is partially submerged with brackish water, complete the claustrophobic effect.

A thin layer of viscous slime coats most surfaces, and the breeze that wafts through is cold.


The largest shell formations form a large dais at the center of the hallway, directly across from the row of misaligned tubes he stands near.

Nearby, a throng of people congregate. A meeting is at hand.


(Blue coats, everywhere…)


Rousing at the potential danger, he focuses on the those who walk by him, scholars arriving from other tubes or passing by the trash heaped next to him.

The menagerie of this area catches him by surprise. Posts with monstrous creatures tied to them, and cages trapping human-looking creatures within, fill this meeting place.


(Or is it a trading post?)


The refuse in piles seems hazardous to Adris, but utterly normal for everyone else, a source of interest rather than scorn. These pernicious junk heaps form unsorted rows of paraphernalia and miscellanies, featuring impromptu stalls next to them, “owners” closely watching others pick through them.

Hiding in the shadows of these grand piles and sitting at ramshackle tables are people for whom the word “conspiracy” was invented, their conversations hushed and their eyes mistrustful.


A state of undisguised paranoia taints the atmosphere, as everyone who isn’t chained up is…


(Of course, wearing a blue coat.)


Adris grips his newly acquired coat more closely to his body.


Walking up to a wall nearby, Adris inspects layers of parchment with various messages, a confusing mix of new, with old and faded.

They denote offers for trade or information exchange, even challenges being made openly. Demands for duels in professional contests are listed, mixed with scrawled guarantees of vengeance.

Advertisements, bounties for unheard of beasts, and, most importantly, warnings for “the outside.”


(That is my destination!)


Moving further into the crowd, Adris arrives at a nearby stall, examining some of the creatures.


All of them are docile: drugged or bound creatures waiting to be used for nefarious experiments, or alert and rested ones being displayed as finished products.

Many have human-like forms mixed with beast.

The finished products possess the same mental malignancy as the scholars standing around them, the madmen proudly discussing the specifications of the creatures. Such finished products look… hungry, but not for meat.


(Do they await outside, too? As guards, or predators?)


These monsters resemble nothing seen on Xin. Fashioned as if from drunken nightmares, they take Adris further from normalcy.

If he were to be attacked by these naked, female monsters, for instance, what would happen?


Adris looks up, then, as he hears something flap heavily in the air.


Where the ceiling is still completely intact, a gargantuan banner proudly hangs. The sigil on it is a gray, conical tower, collapsing and being drawn into a great, blue-swirling void.


(Completely unknown heraldry. Not even what I’ve read of the southern barbarians seems to relate to this sigil.)


Adris minds his expression and gaze, now, aware that he is in a place he has never heard of, among creatures never before seen on Xin’s islands.

His addled mind has missed such an obvious necessity as this, the fatigue too much for him to operate efficiently.


(Any sort of incorrect gaze can give me away.)


He furtively sizes up the people around him; but, strangely, everyone who makes eye contact with him quickly looks away, unwilling to meet his gaze. They go on about their business, ignoring him completely or giving him wide berth.

Adris is uncertain at the response, but doesn’t reject it since it benefits him greatly.


(All of the conversations I can hear sound the same.)


The cross’ dubious gift of speech and reading had left Adris confused as to how it worked.

No more, for among this distinctive and unique group, all of the conversations sound different, but within his mind are understood as the Xin trader’s dialect.


(I cannot even concentrate on the language itself, as the understanding preempts the ability of my mind to analyze the sounds.)


Peering through this crowd, his eyes widen with naked glee.




At the end of the long hall, he sees…


(My salvation.)


… a grand doorway, the behemothian metal doors engraved with something like a scholar’s mystical character notations.


(“Power which forfends, separating dimension, in accordance with the will of the Ones Beyond, against the will of the Golden Soul…” It’s an incredibly complex and long sentence?)




The doorway has designs like the Emperor’s Conquest style engraved in it, but instead of simple characters which tell simple stories, this door is a woven tale that would take him days to unravel. The words cling to his mind as he follows them, visible even at this great distance.

Adris understands their meaning, though Adris instinctively feels an important component is missing. While he can read them, he doesn’t understand their intent or purpose.


(If they have a deeper meaning, then perhaps it requires a requisite understanding of the way they should be understood?)


If the glyphs don’t make sense, then what is adjacent makes even less, being only hideous in nature.


Large, stone statues flank the door. Resembling carved octopuses, except that their construction is more like starfish stacked on top of each other, the rubber-like mass is quite disgusting.

Their blossom-like, thick tentacles serve as legs, while the upper body possesses gangly, long appendages surrounding a great, central eye.

They stand roughly seventeen-feet tall, and are six-feet thick across their top. Frozen tentacles menace those who walk beneath them.


Blue-cloaked individuals with the postures of guards, and wearing pauldrons and ear-length caps instead of cowls, stand facing a line stretching before them.

The line comprises cloaked individuals readying to leave, a palpable sense of irritation to the assembly.


This is the largest doorway Adris has ever seen. Beyond it, possibly freedom.

But, a freedom that is dangerous to approach, because the guards are checking papers and talking to scholars lining up.


(I will never pass inspection.)


Adris needs… a distraction.


Walking through the area, he looks for potential help.

Behind steel bars, there are… humans.


(Can they be allies?)


The human prisoners in the metal enclosures are… all either strangely handsome men or beautiful women of various unknown ethnicities, or an odd mix of human and some beast.

Humans indistinguishable from him are penned in together, with some showing strange, pointed ears and lithe figures; but, there are also winged and clawed women; people with animal ears and tails; scaled warriors with inhuman appendages; even a horse woman with large, exposed breasts that she can only support with her human arms.

The strangest part is that they look content, even bored; though, the less beautiful examples are horrified as they huddle together, shaking in fear as a naked, praying woman with enormous pillow breasts and a pert butt kneels beside them.


Next to this cage, he sees through a gathered crowd that two humans are bound: a woman strapped into a pillory and a man lashed to a wooden bench.


(Is this… what they have to look forward to? … No, what I would have to look forward to…?)


A girl, only slightly taller than Adris, has a sign hanging down around her neck that says “Free Sample.”

She is being pounded from behind as her small breasts wobble, a wolf-like man with thick, black hair, and claws for hands and feet lolling his tongue as he powerfully ravishes her.

Her blue eyes shine with satisfaction as she moans, her cute face flushed with arousal. The thick layer of white semen coating her is unlikely to belong to only the wolfman, as there is a line behind him of blue-coated rapists, all idly discussing different topics while stroking their cocks to ready them.


The bound man’s face cannot be seen, but Adris hears his moans as a brown-skinned woman with a long, spade-capped tail slams herself onto his cock.

Her sturdy, cloven-footed goat legs support her endeavor, and her open coat lets her partially-exposed, large breasts jiggle as she insults him. He begs for more abuse in response, his cries for attention prompting the woman to massage his balls with affection.

When he shakes, the woman licks her lips with satisfaction. Lifting up off of his girthy dick, her spread snatch drips copious white liquid, while her hand lovingly strokes the man’s still climaxing dick.

She negotiates with his owner as his cock shoots one last, thick rope when she squeezes hard.


(Is this punishment, experiment, or recreation…?)


Adris is no longer certain about protocol.

He feels dizzy. People being openly raped in front of him is rare, but bearable.

This scene, however, defies his expectations in a way which makes him doubt his sanity, as if this is all an illusion.


A rough-looking, youthful man with a swath of long, unevenly-cut red hair matches Adris’ gaze with his own when Adris focuses on the cages.


His taciturn face looks cool as he holds his arms before his muscular chest, though his eyes go wide when they lock onto each other.

An aura of dignity clings to him, his unkempt stubble and powerful build making him look like the manly Xin’Reh squad leaders Adris had met on the battlefield long ago as a young teenager.


(Is he their leader? Perhaps if it’s him, he could-)


His hopeful thoughts are instantly dashed when the man lifts his arm in a thumbs up, offering a cheery grin while completely naked.

The man’s dick hangs out for the whole world to see as he stands proudly behind the metal bars.


(… Perhaps not.)


It’s hard for Adris to understand this realm of the dead, but at the very least, these prisoners do not look useful.


“Oh, Tishia, for what reason do you inflict your persecutions on me?” A swarthy man speaks with a honeyed tongue, light and carefree, but with obvious disregard. “Rather than your petty accusations, shall I remind you of your own failures?”


Atop the central, fifteen-foot, sea-shell dais of irregular shape and inhuman construction, Adris sees people wearing dusky-gold armbands on their coats.

Standing in front of them and talking loudly is a tall man, his blue cowl down and his coat loosely draped upon his back with arms freed.

Underneath the coat, he wears a transparent, black-linen bodysuit that opens down the middle, for which he would be naked save for an impressive panel of woven gold in the shape of a long cartouche, covered in strange glyphs and hanging from his neck.

His beautiful, androgynous, painted face, combined with his amiable smile, would normally hide his dangerous nature quite well.


But, Adris has seen this kind of man many times.

Looking beyond the paint and foppish appearance, Adris has already marked him as a charismatic leader, and utterly amoral.

The man sweeps his hand through his hair, addressing the crowd instead of this “Tishia.”


“Whereas our Neo-Askelon has been at the forefront of the defense against the invading Chosen, providing new defenders born from the offspring of the enemy, our…”

He lazily waves towards the seething woman below him.

“’Competitors’ have focused on unnecessary research. What use is ‘giant avian mating’ for defense within an enclosed building?”

He strikes his golden stick out to address the gathered people.


“When you think of the future of the Castillo and our war against the outside world, the choice is obvious: only I can lead us to a future where we are free of interruptions from the Chosen!”


Pointing at the woman, Heleton sneers slightly.


“Only Tishia can destroy our bright future with her incompetence.”


(“Tishia” is a name that I know, and it belongs to…)


“You say you fight for the defense of the Castillo, but you’ve squandered our resources in a faraway desert!”

A woman speaks with a deep, rich voice, commanding like the fop’s, but also on edge.

“Mother has already rejected further use of the undead! Only the…” She points towards the people in the cages.

“Fools locked up over there bother with them; and, even then, the undead cannot invade Petripolis! The [Alchemaster] specified that we needed a lasting solution! The strongest defense is the elimination of the fools outside!”


Flanked by much more formal attendants wearing white-and-red armbands, the woman with three ruddy, spiky horns has her hair lightly brushed by a woman behind her. She has deep emerald eyes, a sharp, tomboyish face, and human-looking, tanned skin, with a voluptuous body filling out even the closed blue coat she wears.

The armband on her coat is of a bird on fire. Adris remembers the container he found in Symphonia’s room.


(If I guess the organizations correctly, then hers is the one I need to use.)

He feels in his pack for the silver container.




(V2, revised for grammar and readability by an amateur writer)



Name: Adris fehl Dain; “Mister Meat”
Titles: Scholar Bound in Madness, Greedy Informant
Race: Xin’El, Emperor’s Child (Human)
Sex: Male
Age: ?? – Young

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


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


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


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


Disposition: Resilient / Adaptable / Sinner
Alignment: Chaotic

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



R-Value – “Why have I not showed up yet, Adris? You’re taking too long.”



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

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

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

“Clothing, is it? Yes, clothing is a fine answer to all problems, is it not? Even an ape may appear more dashing if he is wearing a suit, isn’t that right, Adris?”



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

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

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

“Even if there’s a distinct lack of total sanity in him, at the moment, he still seems able to function quite well. If you don’t have to dwell on your problems, you can devote yourself quite effectively to a single goal, ignoring all extraneous information. Though, isn’t the idea of [Oath] a little too…? And what’s with him pretending to be completely different people?”



“Even if the odds are stacked against a main character, and even if he is a complete asshole, I must respect someone that refuses to quit.”




Mother – “A being which all in the abyss seem to revere, and whose presence can be described as ‘everything here’.”


Quick – “Denotes the passing of time, with an unknown quantity. Said to be related to the rate at which one recovers one’s strength.”


Castillo – “A place beyond the abyss, where others speak of reverently.”


Oath – “A contract that is absolutely binding according to its terms. Practiced by the evil creatures which live in a blue hell.”


Transfer Pipes – “Connecting tubes which allow anyone to effortlessly travel through the abyss, only keys held by madmen can activate them.”


Silver Mask of the Emperor – “Okay, yes, it’s cursed, too. But at least nobody can easily discern his identity.”


Fog and Quill Trinkets – “As yet unused trinkets that survived the destruction of the rest, because they were in his pack at the time of his death.”





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