Take Up the Cross – Chapter 61: Castile of the Ideal Love

Swept under Castile’s wing, the confident man immediately introduced him to the heart of the slayer’s operations and Adris’ first proving ground. Stacks of kegs serve as a counter at their bar, Castillo Kings, with a bored-looking man wearing Castellani guard’s armor servicing it.


(I saw plenty of guards in the human quarters, but why is one a bartender!?)


Arrayed around the stage’s arches and fallen supports are memories of conquest not worth selling, stripped from the Castillo and proof of slayer superiority.

A strong, nutty brown ale was thrust into Adris’ hands before he could speak of payment, while Castile added the both of them to an ongoing party’s drinking around a makeshift round table.


“A total ~NOVICE~s at this date? What are the ~GODS~ thinking?”

Being poked at by a pale woman wearing a black mourning veil that covers all but her mouth and an elegant, feathered dress with a leather-and-shell cuirass over it, she somehow warmed to him immediately.

“Far from a novice, I’ve already raided it. Do you not see the filled crystal?”

Showing Neesiette’s rasselbock crystal to the woman named Renée de la Briquette, she smiles while stroking his arm.

“I suppose there’s no time limit on an ~INVITATION~? Fine, fine. If Castile accepts you, so will I.”

Pointing behind him, her black-gloved hand notes the curved wall at the back of the stage where innumerable parchments are loosely affixed. “Since you already know the way, check and see if they put up the [paka’s] (CATLIKE SHAPESHIFTER TRICKSTER) ~BOUNTY~, yet,


young [Starr].”




(Unimaginative, but it fits with these foreign sounding names.)




Chosen on the fly, a similar name between shared personas makes the changeover easier.


“There ain’t gonna be no paka ~BOUNTY~! You’re just lyin’ about that thing roaming the Forbidding Quarters because you don’t wanna admit we fucked hard there!”

“Biske, I wouldn’t sleep with you even if you did cure yourself of your bestiality fetish.”

“I DON’T LIKE FURRIES! You said it was my manly swagger that drove you over the edge! C’mon!? Stop lying, please!”


A wild-looking, lean killer wearing blood-stained armor pieces fashioned into a set much like the rasselbock’s steel hide roars at the gentle woman who talks down to him. Muscular, long limbs and thick body hair give away the half-beast blood firmly flowing through him. As he shifts his wolf-like irises to Adris, they glint with the fairy light.


“… I swear to ~THE DIVINE~, I’m not a furry! Please don’t look at me like that, dude!?”

The man combs back his messy gray hair as best he can to improve his humanity. He’s spent the last three minutes trying to convince Adris to join his team.

“~NOVICE~, I hope you chose better than ‘Wild’ on any cards! … I guess you did better if you don’t have fur.”

“I never asked what cards you chose, frater! What unannounced fate did you settle on for yourself?”

Using the opportunity, Castile seamlessly fishes for information between drinking from two different mugs.


(Cards? Ah, there was that! Cethran advised…)




“Oh, I suppose it’s a custom to share it? My choice was ‘Aberrant, Truthseeking, Fulcrum’.”

“The hell!? Someone chose ‘aberrant’ other than the Witchspawn!? What can you do!?” The man named Biske stands up abruptly, bringing attention from the other slayers.

“What place do you fill with all that? Front or back, or float?”

“… I’m not trained enough to know the full extent of my ‘choice’. I have some interesting tricks, but the long run is uncertain. I operate as… a ‘float’, currently.”


(The way you slayers gain your abilities is completely different from anything else on Zennia! Cethran had promised these codewords are safe! ‘Float’ means ‘anywhere’, which describes me…)


Cethran’s wisdom declared that slayers chose from three stacks of cards at some point in their lives, gaining a Modus from the arranged words. One that’s unique for each, but both subservient to and corrupting of Battle Pressure.


(Preposterous! They choose from cards, while I have to rope in four girls and sacrifice sanity!?)


“OH!? Another ‘Fulcrum’? Like brother, like brother, eh, Starr?” Laughing at Biske’s disbelief, Castile points to himself with a proud smile. “If questions about the path of a Fulcrum seem distant from answers, seek me out!”


(… That’s helpful.)


“Brothers, but you must dislike him if you chose a ~SOCIAL APPEARANCE~ that looks like a foreign kid? While interesting, it’s not enough to keep me from business elsewhere. You have my permission to talk to me later, Starr, once you understand the reason to~.”

Giving a polite head nod, Renée glides away on a trail of black mist along the floor like a specter.




(They all bleed immense power that defies categorization!)




Like a newborn elk trying to fit in with steppe lions, Adris holds on to his suspension of disbelief without setting off their hunger. While Renée is a source of pseudo aura even stronger than the bunny sage Hoime from the Castillo, this Biske’s lean figure disguises a potent ravager beneath human skin.


“Vrainian titty mages are in the Castillo again, Castile. Right after we ran them off here, they’ve got a whole horde of other virgin spellslingers waiting to get popped by the ~PEONS~ there. Here I am, drinking about that woman when I could be doing it for them, instead…!”


“Vrainia, a small country very far from Castile. The state, haha!” Raising his hand lightly, Castile boasts about them. “Such lovely… hearts Vrainian lasses have! All hidden under heavy, winter clothes and silently begging for warm words to liberate them from that weight.”


(Outsiders seeking influence with the Castillo’s treasures?)


Adris’ intent stare gives away the hidden question, with Castile smiling as if prompted.


“Not everything in the Castillo is of the Alchemaster, Starr, though they come to it more recently than we do.”

“Because the call only went out a while ago?”

“Right! You fortunately missed a dark period, frater. … Nevermind that, let’s get you up to par with the rest! Adios, Biske!”

“… Yeah, whatever. Renée did fuck me, Castile! She practically raped me as she ground me into the floor…!”


Leaving the man laying his head on the table, Castile walks with Adris toward the wall with bounties listed.


“… Did she? Or did he lay a shapeshifter?” Unable to help himself, Adris asks what’s going on between them.

“Biske does naturally call forth… the much wilder fairer sex; yet, a casual woman’s heart is fickle, but Renée’s is tortuously playful. What do you think is true, frater!?”


(She reminds me of Still. Why not both?)


“She fucked him and this creature is real? The type of woman who has it both ways…”

“Highly observant of you! I always told you that you were special, just like me!”


(Are we going to do this forever…?)







Before the wall of parchment, Adris finds uncountable bounties arranged in scales of difficulty. Left searching helplessly for mention of his hunt, Castile’ humored expression knowingly brings his attention.


(If you want to get to calling my bluff, then do it! Ah.)


Following the man’s eyes, Adris holds up the crystal to the charcoal drawn image of the murderous rasselbock and its description.


(Just like Kol said, I can exchange it for treasure if I willingly give up on the bounty to another, but I’d like to see what I… HUH!?)




The crystal shatters and disintegrates, while the parchment bursts into flames.

A streaking sound of a stringed instrument scratches in his ears, while power flows into him that feels foreign until the cross begins to ring.


(What is this!?)


Dark shining glints off of him before settling, then the cross silences.


“… Not a bad target, frater. Does your party claim the credit for it?”

Probing him, Adris has to make a decision about his new benefactor.


(I can’t separate from him. Not only does he know something’s wrong with me, but he’s waiting for me to admit it somehow.)


Though he’d hoped to separate after a long greeting, he provoked too much interest in his primary target to escape the man’s shrewd grasp of him.




(This man respects strength, no matter how he acts. The moment I prove I’m truly special is the moment I gain his backing.)




“No, that foe was mine alone. Mother would be proud.”


Not offering a smile in return, Adris gives a side look while revealing more of his mask.

All of his experiences and successes remind him of the stature of a true conqueror, an impresison that he devotes himself to.


(Everything I am is about presence, too, Castile. When sneaking through that blue abyss on the third tier, you noticed me. It was too late the moment you gave me a thumbs up.)




The smiling man’s eyes lose their joviality, being replaced by curiosity.


“What a wonderful kinship we have, forcing your brother to take you seriously!”

“As long as you notice me, I’ve still got it.”

Nodding his head, Castile takes off his boisterous hat before speaking lower.


“Come on, let’s catch up. There’s a lot you might be ignorant of about here, so ask away.”





Waiting his turn to approach the exchanger, Adris took in the stage while chatting with Castile.


(All of the merchants try to look as bored as possible? Nobody interacts with them outside of dealing with their wares. What’s wrong with this lifelessness?)


With a fully stocked bar guarded by one of Petripolis’ own soldiery; three shops selling general goods, random Castillo sundries, and wares like described being sold in Petripolis’ markets; and the ever distracting treasure exchanger with his conical, leather-bound, drooping mystic’s hat and heavy robe of vividly colored eyes, Adris thought there would be more assertion of their own interests in getting these wild slayers to buy items.


(They just stand there until the slayers say what they want. Only a few slayers offer weird greetings and make comments, to which the shopkeepers only grunt, say one sentence, or stay mute. Are they enthralled? What is going on!?)


The Castillo gold and obvious treasures exchanging hands for mundane or expendable goods boggles his mind if Still’s exchange rates are correct, for they’re far beyond acceptable barter balance. Shrugging off this growing doubt about merchants who offer no energy in making a profit, yet are made filthy rich anyway, Adris finishes his story.


“… As it is, only the blue angel that skulks in shadows can be truly counted on; however, I can’t help but feel like she both has my back and wants to claim it.”

“Hahaha! After taking it all in, I can say that you have it about as well as I do with teammates, frater. Hmmm… let me think on your tales for a bit, then maybe I can divine their hearts enough to aid your own.”


Once learning the basics of the slayers was through, Castile’s comments about the other slayer parties had peaked Adris’ interest. Seeking to see how his own ranks among them, Adris had sought Castile’s thoughts on various things.


(Luckily, I know what information can and can’t expose us. Even though Kol will be here soon, I left out all of her physical information. She’s not supposed to greet me, only watch over me.

… Though, why does she think she’s fine being here? Is it because they have so many demi-human slayers?)


Adris spoke mostly of their behaviors and eccentricities, battle experiences and difficulties, and the strange nature of combat with them, all while remaining polite and keeping too much information from exposing their identities.


(A man who still calls me his brother responds the best when I’m polite about women.)


At first annoyed with how Adris described them, Castile had acquired something of a surly frown before thumping Adris on the shoulder.


You don’t have to worship women, frater, but I raised you with more respect for them!


Surprised at this affectation, Adris had obediently given the good and the bad after in equal measure, leaving the man much more engrossed in their chat.


(The closer we can become over small talk, the more I gain by association. He already remembers me from the Wondrous Works using strange means. Marking me as a unique potential in this slayer group means we can grow—)




“Ah, you turned out to be just as greedy as your idol, frater!”

Adris’ hand slaps the table, but the man simply chuckles while drinking as Adris grows fearful.



(‘Greedy’!? Do you know Cethr—!?)


“Hoh! Don’t take it too harshly. I’m not putting you down, y’know?”

Immediately placating him, the man thumbs his mug rim while thinking.


“Being greedy isn’t bad for a gentleman, Starr. After all, a gentleman is defined by the fire in his heart that never burns out, nor allows him to refuse to follow what his eyes are drawn to!”

“You keep saying words like ‘gentleman’. What do… the other terms the rest use mean?”


(They have their own internal lingo! It’s confusing and distracting, plus it’s far more artificial than it should be!)


“… Hm, I suppose that would be new for you? Honestly, I sometimes forget how different Zennia is from other… dreams.”

Smiling conspiratorially at first, Castile then raises his hand to stall Adris’ next question.


“The terms they use are… disgusting. One should never use language not meant for this wonderfully real reflection, for we are all a part of this long night in truth!

However: ‘gentleman’ under my definition belongs in the vocabulary of all true men.”


(… This reflection?)


A piece of parchment on the table provides Castile’s canvas, but he fails to find an ink pen and well.

“Please, use mine.”

Castile grins appreciatively upon receiving Adris’ aura quill, using it without giving it a second thought.




(Xin doesn’t register to them? … What reflection… are they talking about?)




“‘One who takes’, ‘one who is taken’, and ‘one who seeks both’, these would be the terms for the sort of pursuit an individual slayer desires.”

“They substitute what the prey and predator eats for…?”

“It’s very unromantic, true. Few slayers embrace this world like you and I. Zennia embraces ‘those who enjoy taking’, for that’s how people live and thrive here.”


(How can they be so objective about their lives, yet also so impulsive? It’s like they don’t care about their own futures…)


Cold sweat comes as the difference in outlook between even Castile and himself refuses classification.


“‘Those who enjoy being taken’ are a true novelty for Zennians! A lot of people will fall madly in love with such a connoseiur.”


(… Like Lycia?)


Roving with his eyes, Adris ponders those who Ave and Neesiette described as openly depraved. Though many flaunt sensual bodies with revealing clothing, Adris had half-expected them to be fucking in plain sight; yet, nothing of the sort goes on.


“Looking around the Call, I’d thought that the slayers would be more flagrant about what they engage in here.”

“Flagrant…? Haha, yes! It was like that, at first, with everyone feeling things out.”


Castile looks brooding when arriving at this topic, losing his ever-present, swaggering smile before reclaiming it once more.


“Certain limits were set with the Code. Our exhibitive brethren still like having shows here occasionally, but the Call has become sleepier. I sometimes wonder if we’re becoming numb to the ambitions that once drove us into the Castillo…”

A sage expression hints at far deeper problems with the slayers than Castile lets on.


(Did I arrive at a turning point?)


“On being a ‘gentleman’, slayers like the idea of ‘factions’, grouping by how they seek company…


despite everyone’s heart being unique!”

Saying this loudly, the rest of the slayers either ignore Castile or scoff at him.


(It’s all about what gets them hard? I should’ve known it was something worthless!)


“… Well, talk with them if you want to be convinced of the ‘truth’ as they see it. Zennia accepts all sexual ideals, and encourages all tastes to be explored. I firmly believe in that, for…”


A huge hand goes over his heart, with the man exuding a sort of feminine ideal in his relaxing face.


“A woman’s love is my desire; and a woman’s desire is my love. The moment my heart is taken, I can’t live until I’ve taken hers.

Carnal needs cannot be separated from the flames I feel outside of her presence, calling for me to burn alive in her embrace!


… In that respect, I am ‘one who loves being sought, and also one who loves to pursue’!”




Such an effeminate declaration coming from so manly a presence shocks Adris to the core. The “brother” sitting across from him forces other slayers to exit his path with a glance, yet now speaks of “love” over “sexual desire”, brings conflicting emotions to Adris.


“… Rather than pleasure, you prefer a romantic—?”


Slamming the table, the man leans over.




“Pleasure, love; sex, romance. What are these!?”

When Adris stays mute at the question, Castile’s voice grows more aggressive.

“What do they appear to you, as another who plunders halls of greed and feels the wanton touches of monsters?”


Piercing into Adris’ soul, the man’s stern glare offers only one unspoken chance to answer correctly.




(I don’t know. On Zennia, I don’t know at all. I’ve had too many… strange encounters with reasons for them all different. But… on Xin… It had a very definite meaning, no matter how hard it was to feel those things, sometimes.)


Only one woman had ever truly merged the two, but even she couldn’t make it last.




“They’re… very similar in practice, I guess?”


Settling back into his chair, Castile shares an affable grin.


“… Ah. Now, we are truly brothers.”




The silence between the two leaves Adris ever more confused as he continues to be struck by the mentality of these people. Minutes pass as they examine each other.


(No matter how bizarre he is, this man is for real. He’s not just a rapist, he has… admirable spirit. Just like a Xin’reh.)


The top slayer’s spine is pure confidence. While Adris speaks with measured words, Castile overwhelms him unsubtly; yet, he also always has the right tone and timing to direct the chat toward greater understanding.

Even if the surrounding slayers reject his words, Castile is the core of their community. Adris even suspects that there’s a supernatural aspect to this effect he has on them.


(The curse of being the pinnacle? … I get it.

Even if their tastes set them against each other, it’s more about… bragging rights? They share their experiences here, trying to prove their lives correct and not caring about the repercussions?


… Awfully philosophical for a bunch of rampaging perverts.)




“Of those I’ve seen, you might be the most daring person to escape from the madmen up top. Sneaking in plain view while blending in perfectly is almost impossible, even for the sneaks. Were you perhaps around when the ‘commotion’ started?”

“… I might’ve gotten the brunt of it.”

“Haha! A great favor that was, frater. Though I’m fond of some of the ladies up there, most have no want for being sought. They’re more like us than they think, which makes me thank our quick escape.”

“All of you broke out afterward?”

“Who do you think we are? You can’t cage a slayer! … For long, anyway! A rousing fight and we were back at the Call after paying our lingering debt.”


(That explains the lack of pursuit.)


“Even now, you’re hardly blazing to my sight, though you sit in front of me; yet, strength is obvious in your poise…

Well, back to your original dilemma of difficult women. Let’s consider our brethren.”


Pointing to a man wearing a torn raincoat and little more underneath, Castile’s scrappy example is currently barking warnings to others.


“She’s got the only key to the blasted [Aeon Contraption], and it’s been set up right inside Memories Eternal with a great, breezy lure! An [emordenung] (ASSASSIN OF POISON) lies at the only safe place in it! Don’t dare kiss her venomous lips or stick around, or you’ll get ~END OF TRY~ just like me after a lot of pain!”

“That bad?”

“Oh, she’s awful! Worst meeting I can think of… Just smash her and run!”


Though the man claims this, a subtle flushing of his cheeks implies something else.


“Take Thaddlad over there. What do you make of his advice?”

“… He seems awfully interested in having people avoid her. I’d ponder that he means to isolate her.”

“Observant. Emordenung are a kind of demi-human transformation, making a poisonous assailant that burns you inside out, but the pleasure during it is undeniable. The Aeon Contraption is a dimensional maze that lures with fresh air, suggesting a route to the next area you’re trying for…”

Drawing up a map for Adris, he eagerly watches Castile explain the beginning area of Memories Eternal.

“If he says it’s near the entrance, then it’s probably around here? Think of what the heart wants! If he talks of poisoned lips, then he longs to kiss them. If he warns of being awful, then she’s likely a beauty. And if he tells you to run…?”

“… He doesn’t want you getting to her before he can again.”

“Haha, you really get his heart, in your own way! Right, the next time he dives into the Castillo, I’ll bet he’ll overdose on anti-toxin medicines and then lunge into his paradise once more.”

“I thought you said all slayers share their secrets here?”


(Obviously there’s deviousness everywhere, but this is unreal obfuscation!)


“Secrets only make sense if you resonate with them. Though you might share some, as is required, are you going to explain everything? Wouldn’t that take the fun out of the trip?”


Castile shifts in his seat while leaning into his cheek, before a firm finger points at the boy across from him.


“Now! Try to apply the truth of romance, the secret of hidden intent, to your problems with ladies, Starr!”


(Romance? I need a way to suborn them, not…)


“What romance?

One is hopelessly in love with me despite never having thought of who I am, making her a foolish virgin longing for release; another doesn’t understand what loves is and wants to claim my body, making her nothing but a partner in sex; the smartest sees only the possibility of making me into something she might accept as permissible, but I doubt there’s any heat in her heart; and the last is truly more dangerous than romantic, no matter how much she flirts around…”


Leaning back into his chair, Castile brushes his hair while looking amazed, bringing Adris to pause.


“How can you miss it all!? This blue angel you spoke of is clearly the one most affectionate towards you, and I doubt the rest are lacking for being interested.”

“Everything she does is a triangulation! … I might look young, frater, but I’m wise to people’s motivations.”


(Affection? Maybe lip service at times, but it’s all towards a goal! That’s not the same thing!)


“‘Motivations’? No, no! That’s completely wrong! I’ve noticed some concerning things about your relationship with each and how you talk about them.”


Quick scuffing of Castile’s chair in motion noisily ends with Adris grabbed up to be held in an over-the-shoulder embrace.


“You’re obviously smart, but something has made you blind to the simple pleasures of being around others. You’re too focused!”

“How so? … I’m not blind to how they see me, nor I am not lacking in ways to tempt them. I might complain, but it’s not like I haven’t held most of them—”




“Tempting isn’t the same as romance! Holding their bodies is not the same as claiming their hearts! That’s it! This is your fatal flaw!”

Clapped by a firm hand, the boy feels his heart thump and those simple-minded thoughts cease.




The large man hoists him into the air, with the chair falling over as he’s pulled out.


“A man doesn’t tempt!


A man pursues!

And let’s face it, Starr, you’re not just a man: you’re a gentleman.”


“What even does that mean!?”


Tsking, Castile shakes his head left and right.


“How can you talk of them so glowingly, despite all the ‘annoyances’, and not be a gentleman? Do you not think deeply about them all?”

“… I don’t dislike all four; but, I’d mostly be happy if they’d stop making life more difficult!”

“No, no. If that was it, you’d already be out of their party by some contrivance!”


(… I would be if I could.)




“Frater, greediness comes in many forms, but here’s yours: when given the chance to love something about all of them, you latched onto it.”


Adris feels his head buzzing a bit, his ears growing warm.



“It’s that easy. Few men are kind enough to see qualities in others they have no interest in. No man bothers cherishing a woman’s qualities unless he wants to love her! If you didn’t burn with that spark, you’d just…”


When Adris is set down and retrieves his chair, Castile growls while sweeping his arm to take in the slayers, earning disgusted looks back.


“Take and take, before throwing them aside! But you don’t!

Not once did you describe backing them into a corner or making it a transaction, like so many on Zennia do! I get the feeling your idea of romance is a bit shark-like (LARGE, TOOTHED, MAN-EATING FISH) at times, but it suffices as real, frater!”


(… This isn’t about… romance! And what is a shark!?)


Hiding behind a mask, Adris feels the man’s words gnawing at him while he’s unable to break away.




“… Let’s leave off here! I’m glad you had a drink with me. I’ve got business with the old man that will take up several ‘shorts’, so check in with me tomorrow or after for the rest of the tour. The Castillo has gotten terribly strange since the last mass conquest. Something about swarms of aggressive rabbits in the lower tier, mounting every woman and riding every man they can find!”


Pointing toward a group of slayers lazing at the stairs, they appear terribly enervated, though also twitching sometimes as they sigh.


(THAT’S NOT MY FAULT! … It’s looking for me!?)


The man gives him a wooden token with a sigil carved on it, before clasping his arm in an embrace.


“Divine me later with that, and be careful what you say to others about your exploits. Remember: you’re your own man, Starr, no matter if you’re… waking up after being at the farm for a while.

… But, if you want my advice on ‘dealing’ with ladies that sound quite interesting…?”


A red-haired veteran soldier stalks off like a proud cockerel, arm waving overhead.




A gentleman pursues what he wants, and wants what he pursues! NOTHING MORE IS NEEDED! HA, HA!




Left breathless by the wisdom and turning back to his drink, others slip into seats around the old soul left behind.


“Just ignore Castile, ~NOVICE~. He’s a basket case. So, what do you think of girls with scales…?”

“… I recently ran into a lizard woman named Acacia. She was… beautiful. A mix of masculine and feminine that made me consider how she’d look while crying tears of pleasure.”


(… Might as well be the truth, if we’re sharing our secrets.)


“WHAT!? WHERE!? ULTRA RARE FIND~! I know a merwoman in a water trap, she’s got bombshell breasts. Ah, a great voice, too! The moment you give up, she wants to act like your mother! She’s just outside of…”


Even though other weirdos give their salutations and make new ties, this boy they greet can only try to appear as abnormal as them in his own way while digesting a sucker punch.





(That man knows nothing. He lives with ultimate power and flirts with women while having a handsome face, is that it? Then don’t tell me how to deal with someone like Neesiette!)


Catching up on Castile’s history by talking to the other slayers, Adris spent a good time investing in these fledgling relationships and using his novelty to undo Castile’s stain on his introduction.


You’re definitely more sociable than him, believe it or not! Castile is weird… don’t mean no harm about your brother, it’s not like I hate him.


(Everyone is jealous of the man, but they show it in odd ways. No matter how deep his insight seems, I can’t help but feel like I’m talking with a big goof sometimes.

… The only reason I think so deeply on them is because I need them, Castile! The Castillo drove me mad. That’s the reason I obsessed about them…)




The older man in a large hat and curious robe painted evilly with unblinking, cursed eyes offers equally uncertain eyes as he takes in Adris. A scraggly brown beard can’t hide the subtle facial expressions that give away this man’s discomfort at a new “slayer” appearing.


(They’re not enthralled. They do recognize change.)


When asking about the ~VENDORS~, Adris had been told many things.


Dirty Bayonne gives you ‘marks’ for the treasures you throw in with him. Marks can be used for improving your ~ATTRIBUTES~. If you want ~APTITUDES~ or ~TALENTS~ to grow, you gotta run ~BOUNTIES~ to pop the crystals.

Guy is pretty cool to look at! When we first started, he was a weird old codger who mumbled a lot and wore a terrible robe. We were gonna chuck him until Castile managed to finagle the first mark outta him with a trade! Later, he really grew into his own while telling us about how the world is doomed if we don’t help him! Awesome dude.




(How “convenient”, that marks have the same insignia as Granescian Devotion tablets.)


“‘Devotion’? What’s that, huh? Oh, hey, Triple-Ris, didn’t you talk to some ~TOWNIE~ sometime that was demanding we show our faith or some shit?

“… Hmm? Yeah~, everyone involved with the city gave up after a bunch of… unproductive trips and hell week. Townies are too high strung and half of them can’t understand the demi-types, y’know?

Why go in, if not hunting, when you can get everything here? Even makeup!


(Slayers don’t “get” people?)




“… Honor the memory of the never-setting empire, oh slayer, and let us exchange for your own tragic future.”

Mumbling his “line”, the man settles down when he sees Adris dip his hand into his pack and pull out some Castillo gold.


Laying it on the broken column, the man’s eyes squint as he makes a fast count, before pushing back one coin and handing a small, square stone with a cross in a circle with a “v” at the end of it.

Relaxing completely when Adris doesn’t seem surprised, the silent man with a drop of sweat on his brow makes an almost imperceptible nod, taking Adris’ gold before continuing his vigil.




(… You… fucking hustler.)




Several things begin to click in Adris’ mind, working up to a paradigm of how the slayers function with the citizenry around them.


(Slayers don’t bother with… “townies” and consider them beneath them. Nobody cares about the outside world, only the Castillo.

But slayers like cool and interesting things.)




Checking over the man more closely, the gentleman’s posture is unhealthily stiff for a true hermit, while his skin is too perfect to be a mystic.


(You don’t smell like you work with herbs or reagents. All I smell is random spices! There should be pungent, painful smells clinging to you. No presence of an aura tool maker or even the precision of a body specialist. You’re not even a hill witch, with random animals turned into poultice bags!)


“… Awful fine service you perform for the community, Sir Bayonne.”


Eyes widen as the man realizes Adris is trying to talk to him.

“Sorry, I’m a bit new. Not sure how protocol works.”

“… Mmm…”

Shuffling a bit, the strange mystic-in-appearance only nods.


“How… devoted you are to work with us…”

“… ah…!?”

“… having come from so far to help fight the Alchemaster. You have my thanks.”


Certainly, master slayer… uh…

For the sake of defeating the one who despises the sun, old Bayonne was sent by Fate to aid.”




The silence after is uncomfortable.

No longer passive, the man studies Adris with a canny eye.


Searching for lie, weakness, and profit.


(A fucking merchant.)




“Man, they really don’t act like us?”


Waving his hand in front of Bayonne’s face, the man instantly stiffens to not give away anything.


“Huh, weird! Haha, guess they’re just a part of what goes on! Hey, hey, Dirty Bayonne, give me another couple of marks!”


Jeering at the old man, Adris lazily tosses a small pile of coins out.

The man counts and exchanges, giving Adris two more equal-sized marks.


“… Good hunting, slayer. Bayonne will await vestiges of your victories.”

Nodding after his line, Bayonne goes silent.


“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I’m just here for some fresh pussy.”




Walking off, Adris waits with baited breath.




Three seconds and a dozen steps after, he hears a sigh of relief.




(Got you! I think Still might be useful for our coming “negotiations”, Mr. Bayonne.)






Name: Adris fehl Dain, “Boss”
Titles: Lycia’s Little Brother, True False God, Slayer
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”, Slayer of Petripolis
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?”

“Didn’t you want to be in charge? How can a man be handsome if he doesn’t lead?”


“Learning the loopholes is very entertaining, isn’t it?”



“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.”

“Can no longer run from what he is, now that others have seen fit to make him their spokesman.”


“Even if he can’t run, he can throw up a barrier.”



“Lying is a tool that can never be abandoned.”



Name: Castile
Titles: Top Slayer
Race: Human?
Sex: Male
Age: Young Man


Occupation: Slayer
Discipline: ???, ???, Fulcrum




[Presence] – “‘Confidence’ is only ‘arrogance’ with class! Call me ‘assured and reassuring’, instead, frater!”


Disposition: Tactful / Assured / Brotherly
Alignment: Chaotic

Eyes: Pink
Hair: Red
Skin: Swarthy



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Charisma – A




Cethran Value – “Though you’ve yet to see him in action, can it be assumed by the eyes that Castile draws that he has a certain effect on people? Stuck closely to him, don’t you feel your own precepts wavering when exposed to his own? Isn’t the most dangerous person simply someone who unsettles your sureties and offers a kind shoulder with choice advice?”



“The top slayer of Slayer’s Call, Castile commands both ire and respect with his ideas. Never allowing another to dissuade him from his path, what he embraces is the idea that love and sex are the same thing, yet also elevated by mixing them. Despite this noble idea, he is a slayer. Until one sees him in practice, you can’t help but wonder if his charisma is more like a conqueror or a lothario’s.



“Handsome, masculine, eloquent, yet also brash: the cream of the crop is someone who knows he’s right and never wonders if he isn’t.”





Paka – “A kind of shapechanger whose natural form is a very catlike humanoid.”


Aeon Contraption – “A recurring maze trap within Memories Eternal. One must solve the maze before they can leave, though the method of ‘solving’ it is very loose.”


Emordenung – “Monsters made from men who use the poison their bodies make to flay the vitality of others while also sending their libido into unsafe levels. Consummate assassins, they are also said to be beautiful beyond even the standards of Zennia.”


“Mark” – “Another name for the tablets bearing the symbol of Devotion that humans use. When given to slayers, they have special purposes for them.”



Chapter 60         Table of Contents          Chapter 62