Take Up the Cross – Chapter 71: Whirlwind of Fortune

“It’s so fetching every time I’m here, even more so now that he’s completed his furniture set! Might Mr. Navar’s collection be approaching mine in quantity!?” A silvered goblet sitting on a tiered display shelf, one that resembles a tree with limbs, gains Ave’s attention as she sounds shocked by the change. “Where did he obtain a ‘Cup of Fall’s Regret’ from Illeforiya?”

“… That might be recent, madame. He said a member of… your kind showed him great esteem. It was a gift?”

“Charming even elves!? As expected of my Fimbo (SLENDER ONE)~!”


A breeze takes Adris as he sits comfortably by an unexpected opening in the room.


The entirety of Petripolis’ Centennial Street is taken in by the boy propping his head on his arm, for both stretches of it are revealed by the bite taken out of their room.


(I’d thought elves would be stuck up aesthetes without a mind for comfort, but this is the finest chair I’ve ever sat in.)


The sculpted wood chair Adris has claimed appears grown from a living tree, then plucked away. All of the elven furniture in the room is the same, from chairs to dining table to showcases, having a “heartbeat” to them. His own beats wilder as Adris lounges precariously perched at the edge of the fall from this dining room turned into a forest haven, a hole that was made by a giant set of jaws in a time long past.


(The only easy way up here is via a lift behind double doors.)


The room full of leafy-patterned hanging rugs on the walls and sleek, glossy wooden furniture should be full of insects and whipping winds from this gaping opening, but instead is quiet and wistful with its burning censers.


(He hangs no emblem or heraldry, or family name. Though his business is lucrative enough to afford this, he’s not a major player outside of Petripolis, is he?)


While Adris takes in the measure of his host, people carry out their business beneath the four-story view, spanning the inner quarters. Citizens traverse down to the main gate of the city to ride down the mountain, or change course in front of Mr. Navar’s residence to journey to the large estate of the city’s mayor with its three large watch towers surrounding the mansion at its center.

This powerful land owner’s territory is full of storehouses built among crumbling ruins, and seemingly doubles as an apiary given the large boxes dotting the rolling fields.


(The watchtowers themselves are ancient. Are they all that’s left of the original fortress of Petripolis?)


“… While Madame Caller is aware of all the rules, ‘Master’ Dain might want a summary before the Master drops in for food.”

The way the man’s voice shifts in tone when using Adris’ name makes it sounds like a joke, but it does no service to make a scene.

“Certainly. Is it not my duty to provide the perfect entertainment?”


When the guard gains no rise from Adris, he grimaces before continuing.


“Please refrain from discussing anything about the Master’s physical appearance, unless you can phrase the compliment perfectly. In addition, no matter what you’ve heard about his prior lifestyle, the Master’s adherence to… ‘elvish culture’ is truthful.

Please do not insinuate otherwise or bring up Granescian catechisms. Your own beliefs are respected, but not encouraged here.”


(So he has concerns about his image? … Does he have a dark past?)




Before Adris can inquire further, the double doors to the lift room open to the sound of a harp being wrung.



A joyous cry comes from the coiled snake maiden, before she elegantly slithers to take up the hand of the…




(FATSO!? … No!?)




A gross thing of corpulence waddles into the room while accompanied by a cloaked man bearing a harp.


Because he is huge, the stylish forest cape that trails him gives him a feeling of sleekness that shouldn’t exist, while the frilly green tights and sparkling coat of sewn leaves he wears permanently burns the man’s girth into Adris’ sight.


Like a cow in a fairy’s dance, the man effortlessly silences everyone with his presence.


“DUFUFUFU! Avenalliah!”

“Fimbo~! I’ve spent far too long trapped in shadows without your sun!”

The effervescent elf kisses the meat slab he calls a hand, one for each silvery ring on his fingers.




The pet name given by Ave is totally wrong.


“My beloved friend, hmmmmm? Please, grant this destitute soul the fire of your breath!” His piggish face comes cheek-to-cheek with Ave’s as the two breathe next to each other. Where hers is a cute “huff”, his is an ugly wheeze that matches his hammy voice.

“Aha! Fimbo, such impeccable manners! May I introduce you?”

“Delightful~! Fufufufu!”


Leading her host forward, Avenalliah the Beauty bows to Adris while introducing the Lord of Beasts, who has his jaunty, long phrygian cap hanging from his armpit while his piercing blue eyes take the reclining boy in.


(You’ve got a spine for sure! Even if you look like you exist solely to rape screaming virgins… What is your relationship with…?)


While they walk arm in arm, the fat man doesn’t flaunt their closeness. Even wrapped up with the man, Ave’s eyes shine as they focus on Adris, before she blushes a bit and turns away when he focuses on her.


(… They’re just friends.)




Kicking forward to rise, Adris maintains his own dignity as he gives a first bow to their host.

One that is only courteous and not reverent.


“Adris fehl Dain. Traveler from afar and one, true false god. It is a pleasure, Master Navar, oh ‘Charmer of Elves’.”




“… ‘False god’, is it, hmmmmmmm!? Such a nice title I’ve earned, too! Dufufufu!”

A giddy smile comes to the tubby, elvish-looking (in clothing only) master who clambers forward to daintily take up Adris’ hand.

“Avenalliah!? Have you brought a new adventure for me so soon!?”

“You know me well, Fimbo! What do you think~?”


This doppelganger drinks in Adris’ aura and grins wider at the rich wardrobe of the boy. Still’s work effortlessly vaults the boy from another world into the highest reaches of the merchant middle class’ styles.

Jolts of discomfort flow through Adris at the touch of this fat man, for even if the real demon is long dead, his many torments revive as Adris stands in front of a near carbon copy of repulsiveness.


(Except for the handle-bar mustache and eyes. Yours look almost… kind.)




“Dufufu! I think lunch is going to be very entertaining! Come, Master Dain!”

Pulling Adris forward with grace, a seat directly across from this “Fimbo” is where Adris is placed.


(A guest of honor, am I?)


“‘Let’s get our grub on’, as it were! Resco!”

The man claps lightly, causing the guard to bow and make to leave.

“Food is on the way, Master Navar.”

“Very good. Hmmmmm? Hadris, strum ‘The Summer of Cirdan Succulas’ Ascent to Glory’, and keep it light!

Avenalliah, if you will provide that beautiful set of yours, it’s time that I showed you how far along my study of tea has come!”





“Hmmmm, it was all too much! In one moment I’m reciting lines from The Plundering of Ezellaquenta from the perspective of Ñortocumnae, saying ‘That which you keep sacred and true, my thick blade called Anaander shall seek to slew’. The next thing that happens is this tiny elf maiden is screaming ‘My noble purity will never be surrendered to a cad like you!’ and running off while accidentally dropping a sash on the floor…”


His story continues as they enjoy tea almost as exquisite as Ave’s. Though ungainly to look at, Adris must admit that Navar betrays an uncanny grace to his movements that seems almost elvish.

The luncheon itself certainly is, for greens and fruits of all styles and preparations fill the table on colorful crystalline plates. The only outlier is a leg of braised lamb which is served to both their host and Adris.

Ave doesn’t even bat an eye at the discrepancy in diet.


(… Don’t question this. This is probably just his exception to elvish customs.)


“Eh? But, Ñortocumnae is the… cruel villain in that tale, Fimbo.”

Ave’s concern is pushed away by the man who waves a silver fork at her.

“Yet he has the best lines!” The man’s fat hand rolls over his jowls as fancy takes him. “Only they cause my soul to take flight on the breeze! … Hmmmm, was she not impressed? She blushed rather furiously, though?”

“… That sounds like she was impressed? Why were you trying to ‘join branches with her by prose’?”

“Was that what I was doing, hmmmmm!? I just wanted to share a poem together…?”


Left tapping the table by the bizarre tale that conveys Navar’s wonderland experience of meeting elves in their homeland, Adris finally has questions to offer.


“This woman, did she show up again later to perhaps put herself within your presence without seeming to do so intentionally?”

“Hmmmm? Yes, quite often, now that I think. Every time, she would throw some insult or pronouncement of my inadequacy at me.”

“… And did you never chase her?”

“Hah!? Not once! Why would I…? It would be uncouth for a man my age and stature to corner a woman so publicly.”

“Even though she was furiously interested in you the whole time and continually providing the chance?”

“… Ho… that is an… interesting point… Ah, hmmmm? Did I miss something?”




(… You stupid son of a bitch, she was hoping you’d do that. Elves are perverts, too, aren’t they!? How did this pig thing draw attention…?)


An elf who had a hideously fat, ugly man poetically claim that he’d “attack” her with his “thick sword” was probably soaking the whole stay while egging him on.


(I give up. This is just how Zennia is. If Avenalliah wants to be held by a boy smaller than her while treating him as a prince, then it makes sense that a small elf would want a fat man to drill deep into her in a fit of domineering rage.)


A warning settles into his mind that urges him to feel danger around elves.


“Your tea has become as light as dew reflecting the morning rays! Were they impressed with the mixture I sent with you!?”


The man takes a break from cutting his greens to tap the table effeminately.


“The lead host, an older man by the name of Awaldo, had this to say about it:


‘If I could awake every morning to drink of the dew you form in my cup, I should part with all I possess for thy sake.’”

“… Eh? … Are you… sure that’s what he said?”


Thick eyelids open and close as Navar appears uncertain, but then he smiles while nodding.

“It was as I said, fair friend, dufufufu! My, he kept quite close to me, as well. You taught me that elves will be distant until they know you, but he had his hand upon my back quite often early in our friendship!”


The strained smile Ave maintains cannot hide her confusion as she looks to her side, seeking help from Adris.


(Don’t look at me, he’s your friend!)


“… Surely there was… a miscommunication? Nevermind! If you were a sensation, then that’s all that matters!”

“Indeed, indeed! My soul ascended to perfection with my stay in the forest of your home, Avenalliah!” Finishing his meal up, Fimbo Navar wipes his mouth as Resco takes his plate away. “The contacts I made with your people pale in comparison to my personal growth, but I can now confidently state that there will soon be an elvish embassy in Petripolis!”

“HOW WONDERFUL!? Ah, Fimbo, you can conquer the lands of darkness themselves! The Great Evils pale in comparison to your shining prestige!”

“With that embassy comes opportunities, dufufufu! Imagine, elvish craftsmen coming to Petripolis…”




While Fimbo has ever seemed flighty, the mention of profits to be made causes him to twirl his mustache and give a very greedy look.


(Very good! This is how a merchant should look! I can partake of this conversation, now…!)


“How fortuitous, Master Navar! Though I have only recently arrived in Petripolis, I cannot help but dread the state of its arts. For as beautiful as they are, they seem uncared for…”

While Adris maintains a pleasant tone, he controls his voice to portray someone who is much more than a simple boy.


(Even if I have Ave as an entry point, I must earn this man’s belief in me.)


“… Oh? In what way, Master Dain?”




Gaining his attention, Adris launches into a roundabout discussion of the virtues of starting an arts market within Petripolis, without actually suggesting it. Given the value of the historical goods being sold as trinkets to canny collectors, it should be handled in a more profitable way before they’re all depleted.


(Call it “conservation” and the man’s evil smile comes out in full! You can sense an opportunity as well as Anaxis can…)


“… Unfortunately, the talent doesn’t exist in Petripolis to staff an operation dedicated to preserving them, hmmmm. With the… rampage of the brigands of the amphitheater, most of the gentry fled soon after. This leaves canny buyers with limitless, hmmm, predatory power.”

“What if it could be confidently assured that the slayers would never accost the townsfolk ever again? That they would, instead, seek to fight in their defense?”




Quick shock overtakes the fat man, before his cheeks full of wrinkles turn up.

“Hmmm, hmmmmmm, the profits seeking such a wonderful solution would be… dufufufu, immeasurable… hmmmm!”







While Fimbo has a foreign streak due to his quick adoption of an alien culture, he speaks the language of money that both understand and feels more comfortable with Adris due to…


“You also seem touched by a, hmmm, pleasantly interesting culture. What land gives birth to such peculiar mannerisms…? If only we had more travelers.”


“… Nobody else is like Adris, Fimbo. If… he wants something done, he can definitely do it…~!”

But for all of Navar’s pleasant and eager attention, another seated stares at the table uncomfortably as their host’s attention stays solely on Adris’ discussion.

She only supports him tepidly when she can.


“Master Dain, if you could provide the proof, hmmmm, through a demonstration, it would be quite useful to the mayor… My business of providing security to the mercantile expeditions would expand limitlessly if those savages were brought to heel and entrusted with ‘civic’ duties! DUFUFUFU!”


(I’m sure it would! Just imagine, forcing Drache’s hand by putting up my own “quests” for the townspeople’s benefit!)


Once Adris can do so, he can force the slayers to meet with the townsfolk under his own monitoring. No longer mere brutes, the slayers will grow to take up actual places within the city’s commerce.

As they start to fit in, Drache’s power over their ignorance will wane enough to make the slayers question his darker orders once they have their own ties to the people of Petripolis.


(… I can see it. It’s all coming together. I’ll use Echo and the kobolds as liaisons to slayers, in addition to “other” duties…)


Sexual services to keep the slayers pacified are certainly not out of the question, if he plays his tiles correctly. More than Drache, Adris understands what they truly want.


(Castile can aid me where nobody else can. I have a goal now. “Unite Anaxis and Fimbo’s business interests.” All while I stay gracefully out of sight. Now, the Granescians are the problem!)


“And the Granescians? They fail to contribute to the good order of the city?”

“… Pointless to try to do business with them, hmmmm. Sealed within their church except when ‘investigating’ us… Though we often make poor choices in life, they are, hmmmmmmm, completely lacking in that thing called forgiveness that humanity must show at times.”

A dark sneer comes to the jolly man, darkening this sunlit forest paradise. The topic is a sore that Adris shouldn’t pick at, probably relating to his not-so-distant past.

“… Then let’s discuss that some other time…”

“Be careful, Master Dain. They especially dislike foreigners, despite being so themselves, hmmm.”




“… Please don’t get hurt, Adris. We need you, more…”

A quiet plea in a “hidden” tongue breaks Adris from his conspiratorial lunch with a powerful man.




As Fimbo awaits the next topic of their business discussion while his honey water is refilled, Adris is thrown off by Ave’s silent despair. Having finished their meal, the elf maiden coils painfully alone because nothing comes up that she can partake in.


(… Ah… I’m monopolizing this man’s time. He’s her friend, not mine.)




Adris grimaces at the situation, feeling torn between the only chance he has to make first impressions and his purpose for this “date”…


“Of this man you were discussing that has an ‘interesting’ venture, would you care to explain some of the… hmmmmm, future plans?”

Fimbo’s predatory smile is back in full, awaiting Adris’ bait so that the two can reach a deeper understanding of each other’s interests.




“… I would, but the day is still young, Master Fimbo who ‘Seduces Maidens With His Agile Mind and Body’.”

“DUFUFUFU! How quaint! Were I one of those dirt-sucking dwarves, hmmm, I might fall for you, young lad!”

“How did you come to understand the appeal of… non-humans so much more clearly than the rest of the people here?”

“Oh? Well, like them, hmmm, I once subscribed to the notion that beauty wasn’t something you could find on Zennia…”


A look of deep thought takes the fat man, before he shifts his weight and smiles at Ave.


“When dear Getha introduced me to our songstress here, hmmm, only one of her songs was necessary to purge my heart of my former… dark thoughts. Dufufu, she was so dazzling! Being away from the Granescians for a time after and eating of the bounty of the elven glades allowed my heart to pull free of their dour sermons.”

“… You’re… making too much of me, Fimbo!”


(Ave sings? … I’ve never heard that.)


“Not at all, Avenalliah. Fimbo obviously sees in you the same divine presence that I do. One which can save others with only your love.”

“No! Adris, you were the one who saved us…!”


This foolish back-and-forth denial is interrupted by a chuckle from their host.


“Hmmmmm, your color becomes brighter when you speak to someone else, my dear.”



The prodigious man rises from his seat before walking over to the suddenly frazzled Ave.


“My wonderful friend, I’d forgotten that your time with this young man was spoken for, hmmmm!? It’s terrible of me to halt your… beautiful journey. You may visit me at any time, Avenalliah!”

When Ave opens her mouth to protest, he places a finger to stop her.

“As the, hmmmm, elves would say, ‘the touch of youth burns away from us, so let our airy breaths be shared and our slender forms joined!’”



Ave frets loudly at the slip of the tongue of the older man; but, though he seems puzzled and confused, canny eyes directed at Adris show two orders on his mind.




One is a sense of lustful amusement, conveyed to Adris as a hope.

While the other after is a narrowed look of serious warning.




(“Have fun, but don’t dare hurt her.” I see. … I’m glad you aren’t Fatso.)


“… Well, Resco and Cornelius are prepared to see you on the rest of your—”




“That won’t be necessary, Master Fimbo.”


Resco stops in mid step on his way toward Ave, while the elf and the elf-loving fatty look equally surprised.




“I’m more than capable of defending my treasure from all thieves.”


A frilled cloak is thrown out of the way as Adris offers his hand to his “date” while “towering” over her.


“Surplus hands merely get in the way of viewing a work’s splendor, wouldn’t you agree, Ave?”




(This date has a destination! Along the way, I want to see two places.)





The first is within easy spotting distance of where Adris keeps up with his work.


(Fimbo received enough time. Ave is the real focus of my day! Show me how you shine!)




“And so with the Princess’ help, the two mystics begin to weave a spell with which to draw the Great Evil out for judgment!”


Numerous balls are juggled in the air as the youth puts on a show for the kids clapping in a circle around them. An elf participates also in this performance, dancing and weaving for eyes to follow the dangerous movements of her shifting clothes.

Child-like glee flows through her as she skirts this line of good taste and debauchery, for her fluid hands moving over her beautiful flesh conquer a certain age of males in the crowd, no matter the presence of a snake body.


(You’re pretty provocative once you get going!)


His other “partner” in this endeavor is a man wearing white makeup, an eye mask, and a comical-looking worksuit with a floppy tail hat. This chap perfectly matches Adris’ timing to shift thrown, sparkling balls between them that take the place of “magic incantations and circles”.

At first silently furious at the challenge Adris brought, the man now wears a sardonic smirk at the revealed capability of the agile tumbler wearing a mask too.


(Why wouldn’t you? This ad hoc performance has drawn a massive crowd!)


A nearby fountain is a cascade of solidified water, but still a meeting place for the youths of a once-sealed city. This “stage” that they twirl around is just barely within Adris’ ability to work over as he readies to toss a ball toward the green target dancing near it.


“The delicate magic spells out evil’s bane to come, but… Oh no!”

“Messing up”, Adris’ look is distraught as he counts on his helper.

“Oh, Princess, save us!”




A whip of a sinewy tail launches the tossed ball back at Adris. Ave sweats while giving her full concentration, refusing to miss even one hit as the kids cry out in appreciation of the three-man show.


“Not one word is fumbled! For the spell must be woven!”

“For the sake of Petripolis, the wind will aid your song!”

His deep voice and Ave’s cheerful one set the rising tone.


The man in comical makeup makes a “zero” gesture as he continues to use one hand to toss the balls back up with enormous speed and precision, before continuing their march around their “spell circle”.




(There’s Black Birch’s headquarters.)




Jumping into this show as a cover, Adris uses his free time between tosses to inspect their target.

Very much like the structures around it, this vaulting and ancient-styled building has the appearance of legitimate business as runners from the merchant street bring missives to its main entrance. Called “Heartwood Enterprises” on the banner hanging outside of it, the business which deals with acquiring planks and other building supplies for Petripolis’ reconstruction is actually a front for its blackest dealings.


(Only one entrance. All windows sealed off at floor level. … However…)


Even as Adris turns his eyes away again, the man on the roof that blends in with his surroundings long ago ceased to give Adris any attention other than bemusement. Where he stands, “unfinished reconstruction” leaves the building open from above.


(A thieves’ entrance at the top. Like Still, they’re roof runners. Perfect! That means their “repository” will likely be on the upper floors for a quick evacuation… If only I could distract them.)


Adris must recover Kol’s magical contract in order to free her from its potential bindings.

The how of defeating them remains unsolved as he continues his show.




“With our magics joined, the demon will be brought to face you!”


All of the balls are tossed up at once in a great storm.


“Please! Destroy the enemy of this great people known as ‘humanity’, oh Elf Princess!”


Only one of them is golden colored, though.




“Be banished to the shaded shadows, undying fiend! HYA!”

Her cry calls forth a crisp rush of “surety” that Adris can finally sense.


A whip crack takes the golden ball, slicing through with an explosion of its hollow core. Glittering confetti bursts out that floats on the breeze with the evil creature’s defeat.


This green lash with a whitish-blue tip flies around before it’s brought back to be coiled up again by the now nervous elf.

“… I actually hit it!?




(That is luck’s interference manifesting!?)


Adris and the mummer “trip” around while catching the balls that they timed to fall in sequence, before rushing up to Ave to show their armfuls of them while posing.




“And with that, the Great Evil was defeated by the Princess of the Elves and her Magic Whip!”

Adris’ announcement ends, while Ave rises up on her snake body to lift her hand to the heavens as confetti sticks in her hair.


“Humanity shall ever be protected by the children of the forest, for our ancient pact will survive all suspicion and ugliness! So says… um…”


With many dozens of eyes fixed in rapture of her, their star forgets her stage name.


“Avenalliah Aurmaris! … Um, P-P-Princess of the Elves!”




The three players are swarmed by the children the moment her lines end, with the brats fishing out Devotion tablets to place against the original performer’s own. Adris watches as the exchanges take place, with white light glinting from the tablets as they transfer the power contained within.


“Do it again, Pierrot!”

“Please show us your whip again, Princess!”


To his credit, the mummer manages to handle the crowd with expert skill, all while pretending he’s bumbling around.




When children crowd Adris while asking similar questions, he performs a menacing bow to drive them back, before twirling up to take up Ave’s hand.




“With our duty done, I shall return with you to fairyland so that we may be wed, and live happily ever after as was promised!”


The romantic, but polite, embrace he pulls her into leaves her with a dazzling, impish expression of satisfaction.


“… Yes…!”




“[Obscuring Sonjil]!”


Overly dramatic flourishes end in a sword of expanding, ghostly mist cutting across the plaza.




Ave and Adris take flight from the attention as children chase them blindly through the fog or cry out in shock. The mummer starts after them too, but then simply lazily waves “goodbye” when he can’t navigate the thronging mass.


““““Princess! Come back! Do it again!””””


These screams follow them as they escape to “fairyland”.







“Hahaha! Adris, that was so much fun! I didn’t even screw up!?”

“Why would you? Whips are what you know, Ave.”




An alleyway is where they escape to. Avenalliah’s tension at being among the kids faded when they finally stopped being scared of her.


Don’t rush to hug kids, they still think you want to eat them.


This whispered advice turned out true, as well. The kids had regarded the bejeweled and spirited maiden as if she were a Castillo monster; at least, until Adris had introduced her as “My truest love, the one and only Princess of the Elves” and kissed her hand like a courtier.

So convincing was his praise that some of the older girls had begun to grow jealous of the attention Ave got. Seeing a “human” show affection toward her broke through their ingrained fear long enough for the cheering to start.


(You blushed for five minutes after that!)


With his hand around her rubbing her side, she begins to blush once more.


“… That’s the first time I’ve… ever done something like that! … You gave me that chance…”

Far different from her sometimes squeaky way of talking, the successful star sounds wistful as she rubs Adris’ shoulder in turn, all while creeping to feel his neck.

“No, you gave me the chance to show them the quality of woman I travel with.”

“… It’s okay. They can’t see or hear us… You don’t have to pretend.


Touching me is fine, but are you sure you want to do so aggressively!?


Though not suggesting he stop, she offers a frazzled smile at his words and hidden doubts.


(… Ah. It just keeps happening…)


Adris can’t admit as much, or he’d sound just as stupid as Kol when she says that.

With his partner glistening now with sweat, the aroma of her body becomes something he wants to bathe in.


“… Well, that was quite fun. There’s still time in the day. Why not get some more treats?”

She claps his shoulder suddenly, a gleeful hunger taking over her face, before grimacing at her thought.

“Ahh, Bumbling Bee is only open on a few days, and today isn’t one, I forgot~. I would love to taste some honey treats right now…”


(Sounds perfect! … I know just where to go to.)


“Then why wait? Would you like to taste something sweet right now?”

His hand lifts her chin, bringing a watering to her eyes as she quakes a bit at his flirtatious manner.

Far from fearful, she looks like she wants to do so.


“W-w-w-what sort of ‘sweet’…?”

Thin fingers rub on his arm as she waits for him to lean in.

Something about their “not date” has progressed enough for her demeanor to become needy as the thrill of the show still rushes through her.

Unconsciously, she wets her lips.


(… A kiss would be nice, but I had the real thing in mind.)




This “mayor” everyone speaks of brings concern to Adris when he thinks of the logic behind having an apiary so high in the mountains and with such little land for flowers, in comparison to what bees need to thrive.




“Is there anything worth tasting that’s more perfect than the real thing?”





“… G-G-Getha wouldn’t… like this…”

“Then it’s a good thing we don’t have to tell her? Ave…”




His firm hand drops down to her butt as he pulls closer to her.


“Adris!? … This is pretty… open!?”

“As open as dancing for the crowd as seductively as you did? Why would this bother you where that didn’t?”

“Because we can be seen!? No, no, no, how was I seductive!? No… If we’re found, we’ll be in serious trouble! Both of us could be… put in jail or pressed to service, or worse!”


But even as she protests, his inciting smile carries a flame that she can’t shake off.

“Have you never wanted to do something that’s an indiscretion, Avenalliah?”

“… I mean… I…!?”

“An elf would never allow a man-made barrier to keep them from nature, right? So why not storm it with me!?”




Adris backs up to allow his body to frame their target, while keeping out of sight of any guards.


“Only one wall keeps us from a field of treasure! And do you think a wall can keep out the wind?”


The ancient edifice he waves his hand toward is quite tall, but nothing for rabbit boots and a lucky snake charm.


(I sense no magic. No wards. No fake aura. … No, there is some, but not here. As long as it’s far away, I fear it not.)


A cross is held up to show how impotent magic is before a false god. Its comforting presence doesn’t go unnoticed by Ave.

Three sturdy towers rise over the ruins behind the wall, serving as silent guardians to the large apiary Adris intends to plunder. Ornate lodgings that once served as the lord’s manor have been claimed by profit-seeking forces, instead.

At the center of Petripolis, the sleepy residence that nobody ever bothers with is also known as one that lacks appreciable danger to the residents.


For the mayor is said not to keep a large private militia, only a few servant protectors.


(You may call yourself a mayor, but aren’t you just raking in money from this bounty at the expense of the rest of the city, all while using them as scapegoats?)


If one person in town deserves to be ripped off even a little bit, it’s the mayor who impotently allowed the slayers to reign havoc for a week without once stepping out to confront them.


(Cowards don’t deserve their profits. Navar said that the honey is an artisanal product with many buyers? I bet the bakers are ripped off to use it in their own goods, but you rely on them to market it to foreigners!)


“Are… are you sure, Adris?”

No longer petrified, Ave seems interested in his commitment to this “caper”.


“The elf that stood up to and destroyed the abomination called Gallus is bothered by the thought of pranking a lowly mayor?”

The moment he says the those words, a devious grin slowly edges out the fear on her face, before she rolls her eyes to look around for witnesses.

“… It… it’s… it’s… not that high, is it? … Okay, but only just a little bit, then we must flee~!”

A crime is glossed over so long as she finds it poetic.

“Sure, but only once the ‘Princess’ has had her fill.”

“… Um… that’s… not a great title for me, please!? … I don’t want others to misunderstand!”

“Avenalliah sounds sweeter, anyway. Use this.”


A scrolled brass token is his gift to her as he flicks it, one which reads “Unseen and Unfelt” upon it in a language he doesn’t truly understand.


“Eh!? A [Ghost Pass]? Where did you get one…?”

“From a very formidable lady who floats on ashes.”


The elf bites her lip as she cracks the token. It becomes a towering pillar of mist that settles on top of her with a sigh. Her body becomes awash after with its whiteness that seeps into her.

It becomes very hard to “feel” her divinity with his senses once it finishes.




(I need no such thing, because I don’t leave an impression in the first place unless witnessed firsthand…)


“Being a blank” seems related to the cross in some way, but Adris has yet to see the downsides.


“Your lash?”




A bounding boy crests the wall a moment later to a resounding “bouncy” noise.


The sturdy green whip he holds onto is pulled taut as his accomplice scales behind him.




(Hahaha! Nothing brings people closer than being partners in crime~! … Hmmm, Avenalliah is certainly getting the full treatment from me today.)


Sliding down the wall behind him using her prodigious length, the girl’s fear returns as she huddles next to Adris while holding onto him.


The fear sends that delicious smell of hers firing through Adris’ gut and loins.




(… Hmm… Would a kiss be deserved here…? … Or more…)


Stuck for a moment with that thought, he shakes his head after she tugs on his tunic. After he nods to her, they set off.







(Not that it matters to hide. There’s not even bees here? Nor flowers. If they have all this land, shouldn’t they be sowing wild seeds? This many boxes would need quite a lot…)


While Ave isn’t at the level of Still, her slithering through the tall grass of the rolling fields is sufficient to hide her when she stays low. A boy the height of Adris blends in just as easily as they near their raiding spot.


Passing by one of the bee boxes, he cannot hear activity, even though they should still be active.


(Where are they?)


No guards patrol the area, with the only vantages of concern being the three tall towers that watch over them. The closest has no one manning its windows or top.


(… No? There’s… activity in there?)


This close to it, Adris can hear a distant buzzing from the tower.


“… Adris, doesn’t the ear—”

Slapping her face, Ave recomposes herself quickly before whispering again.

“… wind seem strange here to you? Almost as if the air is stilted or controlled?”


(Yes. That fake aura feeling is coming from the tower, too.)




But rather than admit it, Adris just silences her with a finger as he creeps towards a large, wooden building with a slanted roof. Coming up from the uncut brush, his quick inspection of the frame shows that care has been taken in sealing it against the elements and outside air.


(Jackpot. Not that honey will go bad if sealed up, but moisture is another issue.)


Facing out to a large, clear-cut area, numerous wagons are lined up for future business. Two female guards in mail unenthusiastically troop down the stone path through the ruins this structure is built against.

Something about them seems hazy, but Adris cannot place the reason.


(Why are they wavering? Magic? We’re not going in the front, anyway, so that shouldn’t be a problem… But there is something magical within this structure. Traps?)


“… Okay, Ave. Does that window above…?”


The second-floor window earns her feverish attention before she nods yes. A green whip is ever at the ready, for the moment of action leaves Ave terrified of being caught.


Adris takes only a moment before he scampers to the windowsill, unlocking the door using tools he purchased before clearing the dark room of threats.

His “date” comes up and into destiny with a yelp after.







“… There’s… so much.”

“Ah!? Don’t take their pots, Adris! They have tracking runes on them, like I thought they might… MMMMM!? SHO TASHTE!


Though not as masterful as Neesiette, the greedy elf who dips her fingers into the pure honey to sample it proved her own mettle just as readily.

It’s hard for Adris to believe that the girl who moans in pleasure at the golden liquid spilling down her cheek is the same one who managed to decipher the door’s magical lock and disable its alarm.

Stacked pots of honey with a curious dancing woman and wiggling bee as their labels awaited them inside.


(The way she solved the problem felt like she was inspired by someone… She’s so… stunning, in her own way… Perhaps they’re holding her back by not challenging her enough…?)


That agile figure that he wakes up next to, but never lets himself hold, tempts him.


(… I can challenge her…)


Adris finds himself staring at her as she plays around with the trove of pots she’s coiled next to rather than, the pot he’s pouring his own out of.


(… She tastes just as sweet, I’m sure of it…)


The pareo she flaunts is easily pulled away, should he want to. A hidden honeypot with a no-doubt unique flavor awaits his tongue.


(… I don’t understand myself. Ave isn’t challenged because she can’t be. Only… her “fortune” keeps this day going, doesn’t it?)


By how he’s sweating, Adris believes the dark room is much too hot to store this honey in. Only a fairy light that clings to Ave like a butterfly illuminates their plundering, so his attention on her might be explained that way.


“I’m through. If we take too much, they’ll notice. Let me reaffix the seal.”

“Okay~. Ahh, all of this and I don’t have to share it with Kol…!? How wonderful~!”


(You don’t have to share it with anyone. This is our secret and only ours…)




Adris’ grin is quite vicious as he stares at the elf maiden while waiting for her to finish.

Because sworn secrets are the first step of falling to another.


He can’t help himself from rubbing Ave’s shivering neck as she loads their pots into her magic bag.





After hopping down to make their retreat, the wall is a glorious sight to both of the adrenaline-fueled burglars eager for freedom.


“… Adris!? I hear something…!”


(I do, too!)


Daring to look back, Adris eyes the tower that he felt danger from.

Within a window, a female figure looks out as buzzing increases.




Chitinous hands grip the frame of the large window, with the woman’s head revealing feelers that dance about as she barely peeks around. Her deep eyes stare generally in their direction before she looks elsewhere, then she darts out of sight.

Transparent wings flit as she turns.




(… They’re not raising bees! They’re raising bee women!?)




Adris’ heart is beating out of his chest at this discovery.

No bees live in the ground-based hives, most likely.


They all live within the three towers.


(And the only source of nectar sufficient for this apiary is one place, isn’t it!? They’re getting it from the flowers of the Castillo’s labyrinthine gardens!)




While bees might be forbidden, perhaps beegirls aren’t.


(Shit! The mayor is either a monster or in league with the Castillo!? … This was only supposed to be a joke, not a major problem!)




“Ave, where can we hide that isn’t Welcome Web?”

“AH!? Umm… There’s a place! It’s not too far, either…!”




A mild panic flares up behind them as they flee the walls.





As darkness takes Petripolis, thick trees hide a youth from the buzzing above.


Still unwilling to leave the trunk he’s flat against, he watches as Ave continues to tend to the plants within this grove of hers.




Lit by the light of Traveler outside, the opening above in the ruined structure of this former bathhouse isn’t inviting enough for their pursuers to bother with. Hidden within and from all interlopers is a forest grove that grows in the misty baths, one with a presence that feels unlike the rest of Petripolis.


(This is… the feeling of an elvish forest…? … Pretty… calming after this whirlwind of a day.)


He tries to focus on that feeling as he scratches at his neck. It feels quite tight with how deep he must breathe to keep focus.

The source of that whirlwind he thinks about is too close, and the more he notices the slender beauty whose clothing is ready to be peeled away, the less he can keep that focus.




“… I’ve never shown anyone this place.”

This elvish temptress speaks with such longing as she moves a broken pot from one spot to another, taking in the difference in aesthetics.

“Well, no, I did once. I felt like I… owed Neesiette somehow, so I took her here! … She was interested for two ten-turns, then started reading something while ignoring me, so that’s normal…”


He finally jumps down from the tree, stalking toward her without rousing her attention.


“I offered to take Still, but she was busy… then, again, and again, and… Now, with Kol…!”

She nervously brushes at her hair with her hand, before chuckling.

“That’s not going to happen, right~?”


(… She would never appreciate the forest, only the elf. She would be… all over you…)




A kobold that ignores the boundaries of sexes knows the taste of elf flesh.


The boy’s heart shreds at that thought, while his loins grow hot thinking about the two of them in unison.




“… Today was… the… best day I’ve ever had…!”


Slithering up to the heart tree of this grove, she almost sounds choked up while saying that.

“Even if we did something wrong, it doesn’t… feel wrong~? … I never grew up with the chance to… do anything wrong. Because… everything I did was always wrong, so who would know if I did something right…~?

So… seeing the town with someone else who appreciates it like I do is… indescribable.”




That taunting, teasing scent and sound of weakness is too much.


His steps pick up at the thought of hunting her with that fragility as his tool to a conquest.




“… So… maybe if you say it’s okay, it might be? I didn’t know if I could trust myself to try and have fun, you know? But I’m glad I did, for all the stories were right: being an elf is wonderful~!”

That trust the boy has earned over time bubbles over to become self-assurance rushing through her.




(… I’ll never… let you think that all you do is only wrong…)




The opportunity is just right.

His body cannot be held back anymore.




The scent she sheds consumes his brain.

The whole grove is awash in it, especially here at the center.


For an entire day, as his mind realizes it far too late, he’s been worn down by it.




“… With you, it never… feels wrong… I always end up hoping for…








Two arms imprison her between them.

A calculated attack nails her against the old tree as she breathes with a sort of terrified, but exuberant, quickness.


“… A-Ad—?”




“The only thing wrong is that I’ve been denied the chance to taste your sweetness for this long! The chance to make you mine!”


Though he should be more suave, his voice is rough and aggressive.


“… Avenalliah! I won’t pretend that this is ‘pretend’, anymore.”






Even though his mind screams at him to show restraint or risk forever ruining his entire life, his body is wracked by a burning hunger that demands he lick her skin.


It begs him to prostrate himself to her if that’s what it takes to have this elf’s flesh and join with her.

Only the objective of merging their bodies and being bathed in her fluids truly remains, as much as he fights to resist looking at it that brutally.












“… A-A-d… Adris…!”


Something breaks within her, too.

At first staring in horror of this situation, a servile smile comes after realizing she’s stuck between his firm arms.




A look of confused wonder floats in her eyes.




Before they close, because nothing more is said when his tongue lunges to take hers.


This time, she doesn’t reject it.


A great pretender comes to a sacred grove and crushes the holy girl who cares for it against a tree, earning sloppy sounds of smacking lips and sweet moans of a girl who has yet to share what else she was hoping to receive.





Name: Adris fehl Dain, “Boss”, “Starr”
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!”


[Verisimilitude] – “Stop giving weird names to what I do! But if my imaginative truths are more believable now, I’m not gonna complain.”


[A WONDERFUL CURSE] – “If that old corpse wasn’t already dead, I’d definitely kill him!”




[“Rabbit Boots”] – “Providing increased agility while moving as a passive boon, they also allow actively to bound great distances with surprising grace. What do they cost though, I wonder?”


[“Metallic Bracer”] – “I can punch Kol into a wall with this!? But it hurts like shit!”


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?”

“Oh ‘Lord Adris’, won’t you smile for us?”


“Having your fill of ‘good fortune’ are you? Shouldn’t you enjoy it before it runs out?”



“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’?”

“Adris out in the world is just as capable of pretending to be someone important, because inside he knows he is.”


“When you give Adris something to care about, maybe he ends up giving that thing a bit too much of his attention?”



“Is this becoming a regular thing that Adris loses control of himself? Maybe. But maybe he deals with it better this time?”



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?”

“Oh? She has a sort of gusto about her when it comes to adventure, does she?”

“Is she too competent for you now? No? Is this more to your taste than the open liar of an elf that pretends not to be scared?”


“A girl who finds something of what she used to be before that all was trampled might be a beautiful creature?”



“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?”

“While a pure coward at times, when she shows the briefest hints of self-assurance she can turn into a different girl.”

“A girl who tries her best is a powerful creature.”


“The more chances she gains to try to shine, the more addicted she becomes to that feeling?”



“Sometimes we have things that happen in our lives that efficiently snuff what we could’ve been. But that doesn’t mean we’re allowed to leave that light extinguished!”




Ghost Pass – “A token that applies a low level of ‘transience’ to a person, making them unlikely to be noticed by someone without specialized senses, Talents, or Aptitudes.”




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