Take Up the Cross – Chapter 75: Everything Comes Together

Rather than exit the scene by evaporating into a cloud of smoke, flying away at sonic speeds, or summoning forth a fiery steed to mount, the speaker for the red moon leaves with an innocent skip in his step, trailing his purple cape behind him.


(You can probably secretly do all three of those things, can’t you?)


“I’ve never… ever seen the Granescians act like that before! Intercessor Cuinn was very polite with his directions for getting my papers approved…”


“Ave! Away from that trouble!”

His cohort flinches at the hoarse voice calling to her, before she’s gently dragged from Adris by the baker-like woman wearing a bee-colored shawl.


“Wait, wait, wait, Adris isn’t—!?”

“Come, child. Just why are yah out this late!? Have yah any idea how long we’ve been lookin’ for yah since the mad buzzin’ and horny creepers started troublin’ us?”



This older woman who stares daggers at Adris begins interrogating Ave just as effectively as Cuinn did. The merchants and Fimbo’s guards become a fence separating her from outsiders.




With the secret heroes of this almost lethal mess left alone, the warmth of a blazing horse snorting distastefully at the fleeing Intercessor brings Adris’ attention to its spear twirling rider.


“Man, I got zilch. You telling me we failed!? Or am I supposed to chase him? What does it say in yours, Starr…?” Stabbing his spear into the stones, Sharpe the Lonely Rider pulls out a bound book to flip open.

“What? In—?”

“Ah, fuck. Check your [Huntsman’s Journal], ~NOVICE~!”


Mimicking Sharpe, Adris pulls out Codex Rantilius.

Opening it up, his silent question relates to one target.




“What does that white bastard think of me?”




[Intercessor Ciarán Ó Cuinn (?)


Mystery: ???

Confluence: 💖 💖 🤍 🤍 🤍

Opposition: ABSOLUTE



What has begun? Reveal the part you’re playing, Ziahlen. I’m waiting.”




Crossbearer, no matter one’s self-assurance, Rantil suggests that one never again meet something like that without a weapon to overcome it.]




(“Mystery”, “Confluence”, “Opposition”? Only the third is easy. But “confluence” is probably like “obsession”.)


Rantil grows weirder by demonstrating a new kind of explanation for dangers.


(That thing’s a true bloodhound. Avoidance fails, since only death will cure him.)


Staying silent for too long, Adris gains an unwelcome suspicion from Sharpe as they close their books.


“… Ya’ hiding something about this, Starr?”

“It said we fucked up.”

“That’s obvious! I can’t even find the ~HISTORY~ for the ~EVENT~! Maybe I should wipe out that faggot just to make sure…”

“You saw what he could do.”


The horse crumbles up with Sharpe’s anger dying, becoming only dying ashes in the wind. Dropping to the street, the birdlike horseman waddles over to commiserate while sighing at Adris’ remark.


“So what? Any ~MYSTIC~ retard can blow up a roof.”

“… So he’s not impressive?”

“Huh!? I’ve seen entire Castillo rooms obliterated as a drunken party trick, Starr. You fuckin’—?


Ohhhhh, right, ~NOVICE~. Ahhhh, yeah.”


Wrenching free his spear, Sharpe twirls it around before tossing it up.




“[Horselayer: ‘Filly’cide’].”


The man’s kicking foot connects with the shaft, launching the wind-wrapped projectile to the thunderclap scream of a dying horse.




The building it plunges into explodes, before the structure spews out dust from a crunching demolition as it dances around inside. Remaining in control of himself, only those huddling far from the blast reveal their fear of the sudden carnage.


“Don’t you fucking start about the name, either. I ain’t like Biske, but good equipment is good equipment, even if I got it from jacking up a griffin with an… unnatural love for horses.

[Whoooah!], you stupid spear!”

The yellow drill flies back from the dust with a satisfied neigh, before being scooped up.

As Sharpe leans on it…


“… Like I’m saying, even I can do that without wasting too much [Vim] (ABSOLUTENESS OF VITALITY). Twisting up a roof ain’t shit, man.”


(Another term? … No, Vim is…)


Easy to explain, because Kol shows its function every time she uses one of her bizarre powers.

Sharpe, like her, seems a bit more lethargic in the moment after a technique’s usage.


(But with Kol, it feels like her power is always very concentrated.)


“Are all slayers like this now?” Adris remembers the names of areas that can narrow his questions. “What are the areas of the Roaming Gardens, Guest Tombs, and Forbidding Quarters like in comparison to the power of slayers, now?”

“Huh? … I mean, I know who all the fine women are there, but…?”


Rocking his head, Sharpe’s overburdened brain finally arrives at the answer.


“Oh, anyone that loses in those places is either waaaaay behind, did something retarded, or wanted ~END OF TRY~ to get a taste of some Castillo service.

Only Memories Eternal, the Botanical Labyrinth in the Gardens, or Invasion Grounds, if you’re one-hundred-percent certifiable, can challenge slayers at our skill level. Y’know, it’s only been a bit since we started this ~LONG NIGHT~, so we might be doing good!”

Sharpe sounds happy when he realizes the importance of Adris’ question.

“One decent ~RANGED EXPLOSIVE SIEGE EQUIPMENT~ would level that mansion in a couple of ~TEN-TURNS~, though, if it wasn’t completely immune to damage externally…”




(I know why the Alchemaster’s forces are so desperate now.)


Everyone credits slayers as being a bulwark against the Castillo, but they prove that Xin’s idea of “the best defense is a strong offense” is true.


(Because they return endlessly and can challenge these ancient and powerful minions, all manpower is being put into a losing war fought to prevent the slayers from progressing.

This is why the Wondrous Works is preparing such a drastic attack…?)


“Anyway, I’m over these ~TOWNIES~. No respect.”

Adris claps him on a pauldron before he can walk off, startling the man.

“Oh, Sharpe! Thanks for coming to my aid, anyway… bro.”

“… Yeah…” Looking sidelong at an elvish beauty who frets while numerous people bicker at her, the slayer then sighs. “Shame the only good-looking girl is with you.”


(… Forge friendships, Adris.)


“How about I set you up in the future? … With someone else, I mean.”


Yes sir, thank you very much, sir~!

The eager cavalier comes to attention and gives a choppy salute, before laughing at Adris’ expression afterward.


“… Hah, I’m just playing around! This is my free time from ~SOLDIER TRAINING~ while deployed, so it’s fun to run wild with women. Ain’t any ~IN THE WAKING WORLD~ between ports, so… yeah, even if it’s not like you can connect easy without understanding them, any woman is better than nothing.

Guess I’ll just ~GIVE IN TO THE DREAM~ fully. Try not to fail too much, ~NOVICE~.”


The yellow fang twirls as it calls forth wind at his request.


“[Horselayer – Wild Ride]!”


To add insult to injury, the man summons forth a firestorm aimed at the townspeople who despise him, driving them to the walls with his hellish steed’s charge down the street.






Shouts full of rancor fill the night as the man rides off for Slayer’s Call.

His incomprehensible rambling about the nature of a “waking” and “dreaming” world adds new layers onto a mystery already far beyond Adris’ sanity’s grasp of.


(Shows one thing, though: you assholes are hated because you do things like that!)




When the vicious brigand departs, the leader of this group of Ave devotees approaches to menace above his height.

“Please, you don’t understand! He save—!”

A firm hand holds Ave back while both woman and boy size each other up.




Lines on her hard face show the dedicated life she lives, while the smells of a baker cling to town clothes that should be separated from work ones. Despite being spoiled by scents, her matronly, well-tailored dress of yellow and drab gray shows care for her business appearance.


(Can’t hate people who work for a living. But, that I don’t like…)


Around her neck is a coil of metal jewelry which resembles a ruddy snake’s body.


(The worship of snakes and snake idols, is it? I see, I see.)


“We already said yah shouldn’t be trappin’ into no mansion. It’s bad enough to have the monsters there as a danger to yah, but to bring down the Granescians, too, can’t be just fixed.”

Bravado in the woman’s voice goes with the mallet she effortlessly plants before her, placing both hands on its haft end.

Rather than speaking formally like with Cuinn, she speaks plainly to Adris, filling her words full of her personal flavor.

“Such lunatics buy favors with strange miracles and preach about the end of all that ain’t human! No matter how kind or just, yah can’t match their standards to survive the cullin’! How are yah gonna protect an elf from white vultures like ‘em who can entice men to think of nothin’ and only praise the heavens!?”

Strong muscles flex with some subtle training showing, implying that she can bring him harm.

“They’re buildin’ up here, despite what we’re doin’. Manifestin’ bread wins a lot of hearts in a city like this, lad. Are yah gonna care about her safety only after yours is in danger from ‘em?”


(This might intimidate a normal kid, but it’s meaningless to me.)


“I thought I could trust that cloaked sneak to keep Ave safe from the crazy stories that muscle dog is always yippin’ about every time she comes in for sweets. ‘Conquerin’ that mansion?’ Crazy talk, and now there’s also a boy like yah claimin’ to be ‘from another world’ and more trash!?

… D’you have no understandin’ of what’s goin’ on? About her hardships? Why yah tryin’ to make it worse when she’s kind enough to live an honest life?”


Before the very girl they’re talking about, this woman hints at the underlying truths of a coward who calls angry winds and usually brings disaster.

Adris has picked up enough pieces to formulate the answer, but this woman’s own for it offends him.


(She’s not favored by the wind, but the earth, which goes with the masquerade of your idols. Needing help doesn’t excuse your problem: you’re harming her by coddling, instead of instructing.)


More than ever, Adris understands why Neesiette and Kol are so harsh on Ave. With as much potential as she has, it invites others to let her hide behind mental blinders and fear instead of being forced to grow.




“Good to meet you for the first time, Ms. Getha. I’m sure you’ve taken care of Ave for quite a long time; but, I see that you, like so many others, have failed to understand what she needs the most.


An outstretched hand curls to hook Ave.


We’re leaving.


“… HAH!? … Oh!”

Obediently reacting to his strong voice, the snake girl slithers up to take it as those assembled gawk or stare hatefully at Adris.

“… yes.”


(She’s not yours to command, woman. I need only a bit more to complete my work.)




Ave winces at Getha’s despondent glance to her; but, only for a moment, before that tired, but enthusiastic, shared arm lock with him is tasted again.


“Boy, do yah plan to endanger her, too?”

“On the contrary: when she’s with me, she’s in the least danger. Now that you mention it, I could enlighten her about one source of possible harm.”


Hidden from Ave, Adris presents his most pleasant sneer to those who treat her as their tool.


“Shall I share with her the ‘Tale of Two Idols’ and the masked people who tend to them while offering two prayers?”

“… Eh? Is that a riddle?”

“Yah don’t…!”

This Getha doesn’t look cowed when she riles up, only stuck between the confused Ave and the boy taunting her.

“… Yah ain’t understandin’, boy.”

“I don’t need to, Ms. Getha. Your happiness brings Ave the same experience, so I’ll never take her from it. But remember this.





Just like in the Castillo, a dangerous boy sweeps the elf into his arms.

His lascivious left hand winds over her breasts before it starts glowing.








Glyphs form a band in yellow on a once unused finger, matching the seal of alchemical wind which blazes upon her right breast.

That winning smile he carries stains with condescension as he upturns their worlds by showing how exotic a snake elf can be when flushed from a man’s affections.


We’re already forever bound.



When Ave moans at this dark announcement, that establishes the order of importance for everyone present. The elaborate stance of a rakish villain from some Xin tea shop story is remade on Zennia as he gloats at his lessers.




(Even if you can manipulate her in the future, nothing will fill her heart like I do. Every day she lives, she’ll recall the conflicting feelings of this night. You’ll always be below me. Just look at her face and see how roped in she is.)


This long “date” has finally gained the advantage Adris has been seeking.


(Avenalliah Aurmaris is mine. One teammate under thumb.)




“Ave can no longer deviate from her path to glory. She’s not some innocent child or hidden idol you people can lock away!

She is a woman of action, in all aspects.”


The light of their bond melts into the night as he pulls the meek girl along, leaving the flabbergasted merchants, the throbbing-veined Cornelius, and this self-important Getha behind.


“Her goal is ever one thing: The Song of Elveara.

… Right, Avenalliah?”

“Yes…! I’m sorry, Getha!”


While she seems downcast, a flame within her reignites when liberated from the beliefs of others that keep her down.

She slides forward while mimicking Adris’ pride.




“… Fine. Take care of her, then, or yah’ll need a new place to live, kid.”

Only the old woman manages a response, before Adris hears her departing footsteps followed quickly by the rest’s.




(Why listen to threats from someone who will forget who I even am, except as a false god? But you won’t, will you, Cuinn?)


Even while putting on this act, only one fool burns in his thoughts.


(… People are always begging for me to hurt ‘em.)





“… What am I gonna say to Getha? I… don’t want to hurt her… No, what am I going to say to everyone else!?


(What are his weaknesses?)


The shivering snake next to him lost her nerve immediately after exiting the scene. Terrified of offending, she now hovers outside of a silk curtain. Adris has no idea how to empathize, as his first was so long ago.

In addition, nobody cared about his and Serras’ passions except for a ball-less fatman.


(Women talk about these things, anyway. Just… go talk. If anyone is in trouble, it’s me.)


It was impactful enough to share a bed with Kol. A saving grace so far is that the passionate sex between Still and him has been kept secret.


(But it won’t help to tell her that I’ve already had the others, so why is she different? … It’s not meaningless, but if I need to do a show of support…)


Stalking up behind her, Adris lets his arms run under her still delightful-smelling ponytail and around to hold her.

As clingy as she is, she only truly listens after their “date” when he uses seduction.


“… A-Adris…?”

“You can never go back to the Ave who cowered before a monster like that ancient rooster. Too strong of heart, you are now, to surrender.”

Even if it’s a white lie, she drinks up the praise while sighing.

“Are you afraid of asserting your newfound courage?”

“I’m not afraid of that, I just… I don’t like… some changes; or, rather, not knowing how things will change!? It feels… nevermind.”


(Stop over thinking this. I have work to attend to.)


“Do you have anything to be embarrassed about in pursuing a destiny that you’re making for yourself?”

“… No? If this… is how it’s like, then okay, I’ll just… go in…”

Exhaustion and shame give her a pale complexion as she slides past the curtain.




When both enter into the welcoming light of a single candle, they discover a seat pulled away from a nearby table. Sitting within it while reading a familiar book penned by the Alchemaster, the doll waiting up for them this late into the night lifts her stunning eyes to study them.


“… Supremely confident in safety and security ones such as these be, that they willingly linger in the deep night of Petripolis despite the closeness of evil?”

Ave slithers before her while staring downcast.


“As usual, be this a geckos fault? An inability to structure one’s life and thoughts to benefit oth—?”

“Sorry, Neesiette.”


Criticisms end instantly with Ave’s sad apology, before the mute doll closes her book and leaves it on the chair to step down.

Feeling Ave’s pulse with a grimace of concern, Neesiette then looks to Adris for help.


“She’s fine. We’re both just tired.”

“… Indeed?”

“Ave is fine… it was… a perfect night…”


The woozy elf slides past to try for their room, but is ever destined to meet trouble.




“Smell Elf!”




A specter of woe drops down from the stairway with a metallic thud, rolling toward the cringing elf like a black boulder.

Only the kobold’s tanned face and whipping ponytail shows without her helmet on.



“ELF! Look! Kol’s new armor!”

A snake crawls along the floor while her tail is paralyzed, desperate to reach Adris’ arms.


“Really strong, like monster! Look, jagged black and red! Perfect!”

Both wrestle with each other, with Ave forced to listen as Kol’s spiel begins.




“Neesiette, is that thing safe!?”

While he’s unnerved, the mystic only pats her half-moon short cloak with pride.

“If entrusting in this lady’s work, unalarmed one should remain. Dangers mollified effectively, so long as certain strictures remain enforced. Preventing full realization of its dread do particular, inscribed runes and a lack of an affixed helmet.”


(I knew Neesiette could solve the problem.)


True to her word, the armored horror is only aesthetically offensive to look at now, rather than actively frying his mind with its leaking aura.


“Helmet, white wolf! Big differen—!


… HMM!?”


Shock spreads over Kol’s face as she begins to sniff, moving along Ave’s body to the elf’s crotch.



“… Huh? Oh… smell…?”


(Fuck! This wolf-thing has exquisite senses!)




Kol kneels in front of the terrified snake, a stern expression coming with knitting, thick eyebrows.


“Elf. Tell Kol, now.”

“Huh!? … Tell you what!?”


A friendly, furry hand claps her shoulder, while Kol’s dull silver tail wags affectionately.


“How was it!? Feel good!? Elf, do well!?”

“… Hah…?

Ah!? Ahhhhh…!?”


This gleaming tomato that is planted into the floor suddenly cannot produce words.


“… Ah…”


Neesiette is looked to for help, but the automaton’s silent, approving nod only earns a quaking smile in return for it.




“Can’t say? Elf, terrible, then? Very sad. Feel sorry for Boss.”


Ave collapses to the floor while silently sobbing at this stern reprimand, as the entire day becomes too much for her fragile mind to bear.




“Huh!? Maybe good, instead? Okay! Everything, tell to Kol!”

The helpful bruiser assists the braindead elf up the steps, humming as she marches.

“BOSS! Girls gonna talk! Send Puddle up! Kol wants to humiliate, Elf being before her! KAKAKAKA!”




(I do need to talk to Still.)


A perfect plan like the one he’s devised needs to be enacted quickly.


“… Be one afflicted by repercussions of this strange night, Adris? Events of panic spoken of by Meltisha be witnessed throughout the city by strands of silk.”

“That has nothing to do with us.”


(Meltisha can spy outside of this street?)


Nobody needs to be told about the events of the date, especially of the Granescians. Lycia is their sole target.


(Could Neesiette operate within that mind-altering field, since she’s not organic?)


“Surprising intensity be directed toward this lady, Adris.”

Neesiette draws back, keeping four feet between them as she eyes him suspiciously.

“What? I just end up falling into your eyes, Neesiette.”

“… Indeed?”

The compliment does nothing to calm her, stuck as she is in investigating his mood.


(Why is she full of jitters? Let’s get to work.)


“Still will find us when she arrives. Doesn’t Traveler seem especially beautiful tonight?”

Moving to Meltisha’s liquor cabinet, he pulls out a bottle before bringing Neesiette’s attention to the patio exit.


“Beautiful on every night and day Traveler proves ever true.

… Lead on.”





“It’s strange to think of you giving her pointers for a date. You support… this sort of relationship?”


Idle chatter marks the time spent by Adris between drawing out his plot.

With Neesiette’s inquisitive nature at its peak, conversation with her keeps coming back to…


“Foolishness it be to consider that this lady cares nothing for the needs of others. All aid shall be rendered, even should a gecko request it. ‘Dating’ be only one subject where instruction may be given. ‘Affairs’ of teammates be unimportant for consideration, so long as they avoid being detrimental to success.

… One again misses the designation of the target in listing details of a complicated conquest utilizing an archaic runic constellation. Particulars be most important, yet a usually observant and thorough boy glosses over them. Which ‘unnatural walker without life’ be affected be absent from elucidation. Desecrated be this constellation at the essential point of narrowing its focus—”


(Stop being so fucking smart!)


The moment words were put to paper, Neesiette began avidly vivisecting them. Getting to the “how” of beating Lycia has almost prematurely revealed her true nature with only the tricks up his sleeve laid out.


(You’ll never fight her if you know what she is, will you? Not even Meltisha would do it for money!)


“If our plans should be learned, it would be impossible to commit to them. ‘A hidden plot is one known only by the mastermind’.


… Where did you become schooled in romance?”

This moon-born fairy intentionally refuses to meet his gaze at this question.

“Many topics be of consideration for perfecting for this lady’s pursuit of Art.”

“But not politics, recent geography, sociology, or…?”

“Not of the mind or soul be such concerns, only mere banalities of short-lived mortals.”


While dismissing his criticisms, the mystic plucks Adris’ aura quill from his hand and starts to alter the mystic seal he gained from Meltisha.


“What are you doing?”

Violet eyes shine with a chilling intensity as she studies it, scribbling in notations that seem like scholars’ math while making path deviances to its design.

“Replete with errors and inefficiencies this ‘divine’ theorem be. A seventeen-percent efficiency gain may be achieved by altering complexities and eliminating redundancies.”

“… I see.”




Watching her work while interested, a parched throat calls for more wine.


But something soft is what he hits instead of a goblet.




Avoiding jumping like a struck cat, Adris slowly turns to take in the quiet girl staring down at him, her arm interposing between him and the goblet.


Her neutral lips don’t indicate shock as they usually do, because her body language is so indiscernible that Adris isn’t sure what this leaning figure might do.




“… Good to see you, Still?”

{Always a pleasure, Lord of Dark Skies.}


Tension so thick that it could strangle a man builds between this tell-less partner of his and himself. While Neesiette continues without noticing, Adris feels a noose being tied around his neck.


(Did… she already hear what happened? Still said that Ave wasn’t a concern, so long as I was kind to her? No, maybe it’s jealousy? But… I don’t…?)


Still’s quiet menace feels lethal, but the girl’s posture is curiously open and inviting. That suppleness unique to her draws him in, yet it feels like he’d be savaged for the effort of holding her.


(I’d rather she pull out her sword and be open in any hate!)




Adris realizes that while jealousy sounded interesting from an outside perspective, actually feeling it is far less exhilarating as he thought it would be.


(Especially since I don’t know what she’s actually thinking! Am I just overthinking this?)




{I see you have a plan spinning up for this secret undead threat. Mind explaining to me now?}

As she hangs over him, simple words feel like individual weights piling up.


(If… if it’s… jealousy, then…? Can I defuse it by making her realize how important she is?)


“… Still. More than just that, I’d like two things from you, if I could ask.”

{Oh? Being polite?}


A sardonic smile is revealed by her flashing hand, before she leans closer and shields him from the light with her wide-brimmed hat.


“‘Respectful’. Given the dangers coming, I’d like you to cast your sorceries upon my shadow once more.”


The girl finally reveals an emotion when she flinches, before softening when she places a hand on his shoulder.

Though nothing feels like it changed, she pats him before giving an “ok” and a few more signs.


{… It’s done, though also really odd for you to ask for what you used to hate.}


(You’d better believe it. I routinely tap my shadow with the cross just to make sure you’re not watching.)


“You’re one of the only people, aside from Neesiette, who I can trust to aid me at just the right moment if you’re aware of a threat.”

{Oh, relying on a backstabber to watch your back is like asking a Castillo creep to guard your chastity~!}

Not really a compliment, but rather the truth, it still earns a ‘joke’ from his blue angel.

“Such a statement be more true than one could possibly imagine, Adris.” Without bothering to look up, Neesiette pipes in.

When Still leans over and thumps the table, Neesiette lifts her head and goes “Ah”.


“Improperly responding to something said by one, did this lady do once more, Still?”

{Stop acting like you can talk to people without looking at them! “Being aware of” someone is not the same as “seeing” them!}

“… Merely academic, such an observation be to—


Return! Return that amazing quill! Without Art it functions; yet, in defiance of Art it functions!”


The nerdy midget uselessly reaches for Adris’ quill, only for it to be repeatedly yanked away like a boy teasing a cat.


(The… other request…)


“Also, Still. I’d like you to… talk with Ave about her choice of perfumes.”



After flicking the quill back to Neesiette, Still finally deigns to sit beside him. Speaking lowly so that Neesiette cannot hear, Adris “excuses” his night.


“Ave doesn’t appear to know that… the perfume she uses has a strange effect on others.”


This mysterious statement causes Still to scrutinize him more closely, before slapping her mask when she notices Adris’ hand on his neck.


{… She… I see. I see. I see.}


Though not “forgiving” him, Still offers him some hidden touches.


{Did she do anything you… refused, but couldn’t stop?}

One return touch causes Still to “sigh”, but also relax.

{Don’t worry about it happening again~.}


A couple of minutes after this, she scoots up to put her weight against his side as she begins reviewing his plan.


(“No”, but it’s not like I would’ve refused. Not that I need to say that.)


“One truly intends such a ploy? Carrying it out, how will one?”

{It’s… elaborate. We don’t have the manpower, Adris, to say nothing of the information to coordinate it.}


“Ladies, you misunderstand me. This is not a plot that ‘will win’ over this enemy from the Castillo, this assassin who seeks to snuff out the danger we represent to the Alchemaster.

As I told Neesiette, already one attempt has been made on me that I effortlessly thwarted.”


A convenient lie merges truth and fiction, making Lycia a secret agent just like the ones who attacked Cuinn.


“What neither of you understand is that this ploy ‘has already won’. The moment I decided upon it:


It was already a total victory.”




Still’s mask is a haven of skepticism, while Neesiette only barks out her disbelief.

“No concrete logistics for accomplishing this plot be specified in one’s written plan, as previously remarked upon. Materializing such necessities from thin air will a ‘false god’ accomplish?”


“Why not, Neesiette? I won’t have to do a thing, for all that I’ve done until now shall finally pay dividends at my urging.”




Timing of her movements…


(Ask the gossiping slayers.)


Finding the perfect location for the stage…


(Anaxis and Cherie can handle this criminal information.)


Keeping outsiders away at the right time…


(Fimbo will accomplish this without revealing the trick to her.)


Constructing the stage while hidden…


(Order the kobolds to make it.)


Invading during the distraction…


(Rouse Echo and Stalker, then have some fun.)


Baiting the lure…


(Still and Meltisha can do this with my “essence”.)


Providing the secret weapon…


(Avenalliah is truly ready to fry her.)


Fighting this monster with resolve and a keen eye…


(Kol and Neesiette are unbeatable with armor and information. Neesiette, I’m going to sit back and watch you all solve my problems for me.)




Adris merrily drinks his wine while thinking of a name for his new, most favorite plan.


(… Now that I think about it, these four have never seen one of my plots in action, at least on the side of the victor?)


“One intends to entrust oneself to an addled snake’s ‘divine power’, despite seeing for oneself her true nature in all its dubious glory for an entire day? Recognizing now her misleading presentation one must, Adris, or does one claim blindness even after truth be plain?”

Still remains silent, but her smile is grim at this question.


“I get that she’s not blessed by the wind. The earth is her home, instead. A divine mix up, somehow. There are many things ‘wrong’ with her by Zennia’s standards, but…”




(I was always “wrong”, too. Only Fatso ever thought I was “right”. Even by his evil ambitions, I failed to achieve exuberance.)




“‘An elf who the wind hates, longing to become its friend’? It’s a uselessly fairy tale desire, but… So long as she can help us, it’s up to us to use her appropriately while supporting her heart’s goal, even if painful moments accrue for the owner.”

This wistful voice is out of place, but Adris allows an uncharacteristic expression of his emotions so long as it’s rare.


(Such open idealizations give me empathetic flavoring. It’s not like I have a choice, Neesiette. The cross will kill me if I don’t aid her little ruse. … But I’d like for her to achieve—






Still buries her mask in both of her hands, silently swaying her upper body in despair.


Another’s mouth remains open, fixed in horror at Adris’ words, before the priceless Neesiette quietly whispers.

“… Vanquished they be now, all lingering doubts regarding the veracity of one being from another world.

Very well, Adris. Please continue to aid that… creature as best one can.”

“… Sure?”




Quick quill strokes scratch into his last page.


Operation “Pinned Butterfly” is finalized with his usual stylish characters.




(Big Sis, I’ve missed you. I know you’ve missed me, too.)





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?”

“Do you now see your limitations? Why not try changing yourself instead of your exterior?”


“If you feel more handsome and longed for by courting the jealousies of women, perhaps you should be warned that they often cut quite deeply?”



“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’?”

“The boy that loves to lie is going to have a hard time around someone that prevents telling willing untruths.”


“While improvisation is something Adris can do, a plot is a plot.”



“Now we see what he’s cooked up.”



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


Occupation: Delver, Frontliner
Discipline: Tyrant Squire




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


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


[“Ride on Dread“] – “THE WORLD, BELONG KOL! KAKAKA!






[“Dreadful Armor”] – “This is where Kol will live and die. When Kol roars, armor roars, too!”


Disposition: Straightforward / Confrontational / Respectful
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Pink
Hair: White
Skin: Tanned



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Strength – C-?!?

Vitality – C-?!?

Dexterity – E

Agility – F

Intelligence – F

Mentality – C




Cethran Value – “Are you attracted to rampaging metal? Though in your case, you appreciate the voice, don’t you? Do you long to see more? If she reminds you of a certain someone, then…?”

“Why do you think it’s odd that she likes you more for hitting her? Do you not understand the kind of man she’s looking for, by now? The more you assert yourself, the more she’ll hunt you, yes?”

“Isn’t it this? The intricate and simple beauty of unbridled aggression? Black and white: which do you prefer, Adris?”


“Aren’t you ignoring her a bit too much? Won’t it bite you back?”



“Brash and forthright, a warrior wielding an axe with two hands forsakes protection to deliver only harm. Contrary to this impression, she also seems interested in a straight up fight. If her words are any indication, she offers little thought to her actions.”

“Though usually forthright, she is also forthright about looking for what she wants. If you refuse her, you’d better be ready to back it up.”

“Once she has the target within sight, not even a living curse can stop her from taking it.”


“Like a kid given an inexhaustible supply of candy, Kol obtained the one thing she always wanted.”



“Kol is just a bundle of fun.”



Name: Neesiette vera Luna
Titles: “Moon”
Race: Lunamata
Sex: Female
Age: ???

Occupation: Delver, Mystic
Discipline: ???



[Rod of Force] – “In what way would it be changed? As designed, so shall it function, correct?”


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


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


Disposition: Impassive / Calculating / Curious
Alignment: Ordered

Eyes: Pale Violet
Hair: Amber
Skin: Pale White



Rantil Value –

Strength – F

Vitality – F

Dexterity – D

Agility – E

Intelligence – B

Mentality – C

Luck – F

Charisma – C




Cethran Value – “First imps, and now short girls? This is certainly becoming a pattern, isn’t it? Though you might not fare badly with a girl as beautiful as this, yes? Though she’s a little perfect, doesn’t she seem oddly demure?”

“My, won’t a bit of greed go a long way in reassuring you of her worth, Adris?”

“Would you be lovestruck if she cradled you with such care?”

“Why didn’t you take the opportunity to share those thoughts?”


“Isn’t being smart what you like her for? If she saw through your plans, wouldn’t that melt your heart?”



“An otherworldly existence, she wears clothing that doesn’t fit with the Castillo. With mannerisms quite distinct from all others, even the girls she travels with seem incomparable to her uniqueness. Yet, she definitely seems to be in charge…?”

“Though she is helpful to others, that doesn’t mean she does it for free. Even for a girl that needs little, you make a mistake in thinking she wants nothing.”

“Revealed finally is the true pursuit of Neesiette aside from Art: items of such profound uniqueness that they exist only to be preserved for all time.”

“What thoughts run through her mind when she sees how those born of flesh live?”


“Perhaps an aura quill is considered a unique artifact?”



“Also she reads about other people’s love lives? Where in Zennia can you find romance novels?”



Name: Still, “Cyrene Stillwater”
Titles: Puddle
Race: Undead?
Sex: Female
Age: Young Lady?


Occupation: Delver, Trickster/Outfighter
Discipline: Accursed Avenger




[“Reprisal Strike”] – {You had it coming, deciding you could oppose me and walk away from it.}


[“Surprising Agility”] – {Is it honestly surprising by now? Walls are just another surface~!}


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


[Delusional Movement] – {How did you forget that shadows are also a doorway, Adris?}


[Undead Fortitude?] – {Do you think that what has no life cares about your pathetic strikes?}


Disposition: Playful / Sadistic / Skulking
Alignment: Chaotic

Eyes: ???
Hair: ???
Skin: ???



Rantil Value –

Attributes by Grade:

Strength – E

Vitality – E

Dexterity – C

Agility – C

Intelligence – C

Mentality – D

Charisma – E




Cethran Value – “Do you really think it’s not obvious? What she possesses is what you’ve missed all your life, yes? Breasts and curves… are these not a new fruit for you to taste?”

“Will you treat her any better than you treated the last ‘tool’, or has she graduated to ‘person’?”

“You complain, but didn’t you still chase her, as meaningless as it was to try?”


“Are you forgetting your partner, too? Is an elf enough?”



“A mute girl who says much with gestures, she also has more going on than she seems to. Though not outwardly aggressive, there’s an atmosphere of danger about her. Opposite of Kol, hers is subtle… Yet, she also can protect others. Given to acrobatics, it matches with her dark, but flamboyant, colors.”

“Being the peak of slayer, she also isn’t shy about establishing her reputation early and often.”

“Quick to run from confrontations which aren’t going her way, she’s also not quite certain about what to think when it involves Adris.”


“Returning from said confrontations, she brings an entire tree on her shoulder instead of just a chip.”



“Forget tsundere, have we gone straight to yan?”



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…”


[Elvish Venom?] – “Hm? Well, Ave doesn’t really know, but if you have fangs, shouldn’t you have venom?”


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?”

“Can you truly protect what you care about Adris?”

“Aren’t you happy that she stood up for you, even if she seems to favor his appearance more?”


“Do you still want her after having her?”



“As cheerful as she is skittish, Avenalliah fits an unknown position within the four delvers’ group. Though she carries a large sack, that would hardly count as a position… right?”

“Instinct isn’t always easy to recognize when it acts. Some people also have scars that need a lot of time to excise.”

“While she’s quick to enjoy something, she’s also so whipped that she apologizes for it after.”


“Roped into advancing her own interests to the exclusion of other’s thoughts, an elf doesn’t quite understand who is leading who. … Or does she?”



“Is it okay if Ave starts acting different, now?”




Vim – “While Vigor maintains one’s form, Vim prevents on from truly extinguishing their own spirit, so long as they’re willing to shed this substance in its place.”


Runic Constellation – “An intricate, difficult-to-craft design, often from older times.”




Chapter 74         Table of Contents          Chapter 76