Take Up the Cross – Chapter 76: Others Bear the Brunt of Grand Works

“No, the flanged mace goes in the bale! Wrap it in dry cotton and don’t let it touch metal! The wine cask is for the belt that stays asleep in water. Don’t let it run dry or the whole thing will erupt!”

“Ayo, old man.”


A lethargic sneak wrapped in a black cowl and cloak resorts the items before scurrying off, leaving a vibrating knife precariously close to the mace.

Pushing it away while what remains of his hair stands on end, an old man wearing a robe of maddened eyes sighs while taking in the mess that has become his treasure room. Each rat worker is worse than the last, in his eyes.


(While they cut corners, they’re also the most loyal servants I’ve ever had…?)


The salvation of the Great Plan is nearing completion for this phase.


“We’re done, Cherie. Final notes need attending to.”







“Staring at him ain’t making you rich, Anaxis.”

Within his office with red-splashed walls, a large painting gains his fullest attention as light sarcasm prickles from behind.


(If they’re so loyal to me merely because I’ve stuck with them through everything, then why weren’t any of you?)


Ignoring her, a black merchant inspects a much younger man with a fine, long beard that goes with his arrogant smile and rakish dark frilled coat. The identical coin they hold before themselves is the only key connecting present and past.


(There was only one Coin to be had from the Brothers of the Silver Way. Why did it matter if I held it, when it was for your sakes?)


Four other men in similar foreign styles lounge beside him; but, only one’s face remains locked in his heart, since the others faded from life long ago.


(That feeling of bile is still there, Roderick! It washes up my throat every time…!)


“Old man, eat your ‘laxer and sign some papers.”

“Don’t baby me! I’m just anticipating eclipsing this… thing within two years, instead of ten!”

“Don’t count your chicks before discovering they’re dartlizard eggs.”

That colloquial quip sends blood rushing through the old man, causing him to shake.

“Quiet! You’ve no concept of the benefits we’ve landed with this… visionary. Too eager to swing a blade at his Devil!

I’m telling you: she’s not just antagonizing you, it’s both of you eating each other up!”




Parchment on the wall opposite him tears with the blade cleaving into it, sending up straw from the backing behind it.


“I ain’t… forgiving anything, no matter what you say! I’m gonna… show her that she can’t fuck with you…!”

A scratchy voice loses some of its feminine charm when she gets too emotional. Not even adding a new bisecting line through the masked face wearing a blue witchy hat can cure her.

“Yeah, yeah. Always thinking about me, you are. Just never about the master plan that will send us to greatness.”

Chuckling as he walks, Anaxis’ large hat spins to hang on a wall hook, before the old man’s feet go up on his wide, stained-wood drawing desk. With only racks for papers filling the room otherwise, no creature comforts are found here.


“Forget dancing with the Devil, Cherie. Tell me if anything from these ‘manicured’ documents looks off.”

“… Hah, fine.”


The lithe girl’s tail whips his face as she throws herself up onto the desk in front of him, causing him to gasp at the contact.


(… Cheeky, aren’t you.)


Permissions for export that have no relationship to his true cargo get quick approval from his eagle-eyed accomplice.


(Smuggling is such a useful skill to perfect~! I could’ve been a forger, too.)


“Open up, Mister Mastermind.”

“Hmm? Ah.”




A quick crack and a toss sends him chewing with the mild sourness of a new favorite of the Desert of the Shifting Death. The badlands south of Castile hold wonders that the east can’t match, if this food proves to be the tip of discovery.


(Heard some rumors about treasures being found at a dig there, too, but you can’t believe everything.)


At least not enough to warrant rushing in for his own try at it.


“… Mmm, very good. We’ll sell them to that dwarf lady and her mine-goers. I hear it enhances one’s bodily stamina, making it a perfect stimulant.” Noticing that his associate looks bored, Anaxis fishes in his pocket for a tin. “Ah, Cherie. I need you to… try this import, too. I can’t stomach it.”

Pulling back the lid, his item causes the ratgirl’s eyes to flash immense interest while she tries to stay otherwise detached.

“… More ‘taste testing’ for me?”

“I don’t do girlish things! I need someone of your… persuasion to make sure I’m not getting ripped off if I order some of these for the upper crust sows of the city.”


Cherie rolls her eyes at him, before eagerly scooping out a treat.




A bright smile always lights up the dim room as she samples.

His thorny bodyguard squeals and licks a finger to get the rest off of it.


(Why is it you always try to look sour? You’re much prettier when you smile.)




“Mmmm…~! … Umm… Yeah… I ain’t… ‘upper crust’, but if you wanna know…”

“I see, you love it. Hand me the next—”

A thick tail cracks him on the shoulder, bringing a hiss from the old man.


“Don’t just put words in my mouth! Ain’t you asking for my opinion!?”

“Your face says everything to me before you can, Cherie. I doubt words add more.”

At that, she turns away from him rudely.

“Stop looking at my fucking face then, you old pervert, and listen to what I say!”


Anaxis closes his eyes before a nut strikes him in the forehead. Picking it up off the desk and eating it, he grins at the girl’s suddenly bashful cheeks.


“… You’re getting pretty gutsy with me, lately! It’s all going to your head! I’m telling you, that ‘visionary’ is responsible for the buzzing, saboteurs, and probably the orgy at the market!”

“I’m no fool, Cherie. You’re probably right. I just don’t care if he is or not.”


Anaxis will soon make peca hand-over-fist due to selling these artifacts. Working with a young boy who is clearly not what he appears in any way is simply a potential long-term hazard.


“A few artifacts for that wonderful halfling sage per annum, saving what comes in for him to inspect for first purchase rights, and supplying him with our information is a small…”

“Not to mention my boys!”

“… price to pay.”


(Right, the manpower might be a problem. Shall we expand the ‘clan’ again?)


“… Something ain’t right about that ‘halfling’ either. Have you ever seen her breathe!?”


(No, I haven’t, but I don’t care! She, and he, will…!)




A shabby office like this isn’t one that a man like Anaxis should suffer in. Though the drawing desk is worth his stature, he longs for the clutter of the old days.


(We deserve…)




“You deserve finer than only a glove, Cherie.”

“… Shut up! … It’s what I wanted.”


A purple, long-cuffed glove stretches up her arm, dotted with gemstones and giving off an air of danger. The girl’s exuberant blade dances like the flowing wind as she twirls it, causing it to sing with a reed’s whistle.

She can’t seem to stop herself from playing with the hem of it.


“With this, I can hack her to bits~.”


(Good luck.)


Ignoring her need for butchery, he thinks of their partner.

“I don’t think we need to worry about him. A ‘false god’ is an individual that possesses traits most admirable: utterly rational, committed to realistic goals…”


One roll of parchment containing their terms gets thumbed as Anaxis speaks, being the only source of security in talking about an obvious monster who hides his true objectives.


“But, most importantly, he does not allow mere formalities to get in the way of our mutual success! We’ll never get another chance like this again!” A wildness comes over him as he speaks, a bit of youth bleeding back. “Success is all that matters in this world, Cherie!”


(He’ll bring me to my vengeance upon Roderick, without asking for more than what’s outlined…!)


“That success, it’s is all I ne—!”

Me getting chopped in order to talk to you is only a minor formality, is it?


A flat voice cuts into his reverie, bringing him back to limp, large ears that betray her true thoughts about her employer.


“… That!? That… is not…”

“Just brush it aside, eh? Forgive and forget?”


While his oldest remaining associate cracks another nut with a displeased tone, Anaxis is forced to stew in his misstatement.

“Well… sorry.”

A simple apology is answered by her placing the nut directly into his mouth, much to his surprise.


“I… lost. It’s not your fault. Just don’t forget what he and that thing are, okay?”

“… Right.”


Now in deep to this boy and his pet devil because of his over-exuberance, Anaxis’ original sin of owing money to the criminal syndicates which operate in Petripolis must be remedied first.


(But… Cherie was never in danger to them, at least. This boy seems reliable, but…)


A boy so young displays every worthwhile trait that the old man can recall himself having at that age.


(‘Avarice, eruditeness, stoicism, loyalty to his subordinates’? Hopefully, that’s…)




“Yah think he’s rational?” At that thought, Cherie gives a look that suggests she bit into a svelte lemon. “I think you’re finally going senile. I’ve seen his face on dozens of starving people, all who’d… stab you for a crumb of bread, even if you’re… blood with ‘em…”

Shivering as she whispers, Cherie falls into one of her moods after.

“You’re gonna… wake up with a blade over yer neck.”


(Ugh, you go thinking about back then and I’ll never shut you up.)


“Cherie, stop yapping and make sure these are really as good as you’re saying.”

Getting up, he pushes another chocolate at her scrunching face while she resists.

“Shut up, you old goat! You’re always on about Old Cherie, just ‘cause you picked up a good deal on a piece o’scrap when you could!”

“That’s a terrible thing to call yourself. I only make excellent purchases!”


A priceless ratgirl bought for cheap had worn chains for only a day, before he’d popped them off and given her a meal better than his own.


(Has it truly been four years? You’ve filled out.)


This bickering societal reject has always known Anaxis’ highs and lows.


“Stop looking at me with those greedy eyes of yours, old fart.”

“Then stop pretending to be my mother and act like you should!”

“How… should I act?”

The small ratkin ends up pulling closer to the man by her own efforts, surprising him.

“Just eat more of your fucking nuts, you creep.”


With each trying to push food on one another, those unoccupied mouths draw closer…







A tapping on the wall sends Cherie’s hairs straight, a look of panic shooting through her.







Cherie throws Anaxis into his chair before whipping out a silver knife, flinging it at the darkness in a corner.

It whistles as it closes, before a twanging clash sends it sparking along the wall.




A blue devil saunters out of the dark night, with a flame-bladed, curved shortsword lazily pointed at Cherie.


The flick of the Devil’s other wrist produces a rolled letter to be flung at Anaxis as she closes. While he takes it up while tensing at this intruder, Cherie pushes him against the wall before standing to guard him.


“Fucking skank! Why can’t you just stay in bed with that masked shortie and leave us alone!? Go guzzle his cum, since maybe that wets your rotten insides!”

“Stop antagonizing her!”


Anaxis can only watch as the Devil closes, growing fascinated at the situation this evil entered into.

Much more filled out than Cherie, this “Still”, as his business partner calls her, further surprises them both by gently laying her shortsword onto the desk.


Completely unarmed, the dark figure brings her finger up to the quivering sword menacing in the air before her.

A couple of signs dance off the end of the blade, a halting ‘stop’ signal that grows hazy, before her finger curls to invite Cherie.




Anaxis has that dreadful feeling in his gut again.

Every time this Devil “speaks” with her hands, it’s like his blood is trying to wash around with the meaning of the signs.


(You want her to go for it, huh?)


“… I… fuckin’… can… and will!”


Getting into the perfect distance to be split in half, the duelist-clothed, hated-undead creature invites Cherie with open arms, lifting her chin in an arrogant way.

That body which should be defenseless feels like it’s raring to jump.


“… I… I…



Tail straight up in the air, Cherie suddenly can’t keep her sword lifted.

Even if it’s to protect Anaxis, something within Cherie has already been harmed to the point of flooding terror in response to these almost indecipherable motions.


Making a naughty “tsking” motion with her finger, the Devil plucks the sword from Cherie’s hands as the girl whimpers, before placing it next to her own blade. As the two ladies become intertwined, one can only make a low squeak as she’s dominated.


(… I won’t fault you. I’ve slightly soiled myself, too.)


Anaxis cracks the seal on the parchment, accepting that this contest is already finished when the shadow assassin starts stroking his bodyguard’s face.

“… Fuck… you…”


(What sort of importance calls for sending the Devil over? He wants to make an impression, but the actual contents…?)


Using the cipher provided at another time to interpret the strange runes used by a false god, Anaxis prepares for the worst.




[To my valued associate:


By today’s end, compile a list of the criminal associations operating, or having operated, in Petripolis along with the locations of all of their bases. Have Miss Tail scout and give approval for such sites that are abandoned, starting with the furthest ones from the town center.

While our grand conspiracy is a source of much gain, it also represents new challenges, my esteemed problem solver:

The Granescians, led by one called Intercessor Cuinn, have been identified as bent upon the elimination of all secretive organizations in Petripolis, for which we represent a primary potential target.]




(The Granescians are after us personally, is it!? What did you do!? No… is it me they know about!? I’m being warned…)


With some shipments already imperiled by the Granescians previously, it makes sense for Anaxis to be the source of this hazard.


(But, I did hear that there was an incident in town which involved them? Perhaps he’s at fault…? A sudden interest in bases betrays something about his thinking.)


If he merely wants to expand into them that is fine, but it seems odd given the chaotic events of the past two nights to only think of expansion.




[In addition, the fact that the Mayor of Petripolis is in league with the monsters of the Castillo should lend both hurry and subtlety to your own operations, especially since her failure to maintain secrecy might bring us into her own downfall.]




(The bloody mayor is a monster!? That’s not impossible…? But how did he discover it!? Does he have a deep relationship with the mansion?)




[From now on, Lady of the Moon will be traveling with more protection. When carrying out your business, recall that Miss Placid’s word is my own.

In fortunate news, I have arranged for a new ‘associate’ to join us in the future. He will aid you in expanding your operation.


Please switch to cipher ‘Lotus’ — ]




(You’re making life-changing business decisions for me without even discussing it first!? Don’t fuck with me, boy! Nobody said you decide who joins this little league!)


Quickly sifting through his sheets while his sweat stains them, Anaxis discovers the one marked ‘Lotus’.

All of Cherie’s warnings now seem prophetic, as if they were obvious if the merchant had simply been preparing for the worst to begin with.




[In no way have I encouraged Miss Placid to ‘fall’ for Miss Tail. I remain united in our mutual benefit, so aid me in resolving this dispute through your inestimable charm.

For the sake of your future and my great plan, let us pursue all avenues of success without caring for what gets in our way.


Yours in desire,


A false god.]




(I’ll give it to him, he knows how to inspire at the end.)


Though full of bad news, Anaxis feels quite invigorated by the boy’s seeming understanding of the dangers involved and commitment to winning.


“Shitty… fucking… Devil…!”

Yet, said ‘lovers’ mentioned in the letter are still locked in embrace, with Cherie being held before the Devil like a kid sister while her hair is combed. With her face exposed to the candlelight, Cherie, like all of her kind, grows even more skittish at being revealed.


The Devil waves her hand, pointing to his assistant. A fanciful grin is painted on a mask that mocks him.


(“Cute”? Not when she’s scowling at me like that! Are you expecting me to rescue you!?)




Coughing into his hand, Anaxis manages to rediscover some dignity.

“Miss… Still. I respectfully ask that you quit tormenting my Cherie.”


Able to see without eye holes, neither Anaxis nor Cherie have managed to figure out what sort of threat she is, but she’s always popping in at the worst moment.


(… Could I ask the slayers to exterminate her? No, he’d find out. Plus, I can’t do it without violating the contract, anyway.)


While Cherie and this Devil can menace each other for purely personal reasons so long as they do not impede on the operations of either major party, all other forms of aggression are prohibited.


(You know that, too!)


“Please leave her alone, and I’ll make her stop antagonizing you, too.”


… HAGHK!? Stop rubbing my ears!


Forced to feel some sort of pleasure by thin fingers that curl around her big ears, Cherie appears nearly to the point of crying as she moans.


Producing a coin in her hand to match his silver one of grasping hands as the image, the Devil makes a mocking show of his past, pointing at him accusingly.


(“Don’t you have any pride?” Hah! What a question…)


Anaxis merely chuckles mightily at the taunt.


“I’ve already earned the Coin. I know what I am, lass. I’ve nothing more to prove, only things to accomplish.

A false god and I are associates, so you as his associ—”





Both girls lean closer to Anaxis, with the taller one becoming terribly alien in impression when anger seeps from her shrouded body.


A closed fist thumps her breasts, daring him to get the meaning wrong.




“‘Partners’…? Well. For the equal respect he and I show to each other, shall you accomplish the same?”

Sheer bravado fills his tired body in this last ditch effort to appeal to her.


“Be worthy of my respect, please.”




The woman takes a moment while appraising Anaxis, nodding her head a few times. Picking up a quill and closing on him, the Devil leans in and writes on the letter in a familiar cipher.




Cherie enters Anaxis’ lap in the next moment, forced into his face by the Devil’s hands.




As the brown-haired runt of a girl is made to kiss him, Anaxis finds himself wrapping his arms around a slender back.


(That chocolate… is pretty tasty!?)



… No, DIE!”


Leaping from the chair, the screaming rat takes up her cleaver to chase after the fleeing trickster.




Sparks fly when she cuts the wall, sending up chips as the monster escapes into the darkness.


“GEH!? I’ll… burn her alive…! No, burn her redead! And, you…!”


Marching back towards the other victim, she blusters while shaking.





Waving her sword over her head, Cherie jumps up and down like a kid.

Say something!?


Cherie shrieks at the old man as he remains shocked by their mutual bullying.

A moment later, his blubbering lips manage to voice his thoughts.


“… You taste good?”




The door slams as she leaves in a flash, a bright redness staining her skin that doesn’t seem like it’ll ever fade.




Left alone by both of them, Anaxis returns to the letter to check what the evil being wrote.


I’ll be the first to know the moment you’re worthy of my respect, Dirty Bayonne~. I’ll let him know the same~ Please enjoy your plague beast~!

A message written in the same cipher change further bullies him.


(She can read ‘Lotus’!? Was this not… intended to be special so that she couldn’t read it?)




As he pats the sweat from his forehead, he chuckles at the conflicting feelings welling up in his thoughts.


(So, that Devil has a touch of humor to her? She understands our relationship dynamic, is it?)


Between Anaxis and Cherie, certain things always stop being polite and orderly when they go too far.


(A common misunderstanding others have, that you should show respect to me as my employee, Cherie, when you keep acting like my angsty sister, instead.)


Insecurity stems then from if that properly describes her.


(… Sister… or…?)


Searching on his desk…




“… Where are my chews? Oh, that Devil took them, did she? Ah, shit.”





“Good!? Pfah, … Is good!? Stalker, Limp… trying…!”

“… Ah, it’s good.”


Patting her head accomplishes the wrong goal, causing the kobold girl’s eyes to narrow angrily, before she looks ready to cry while his dick is still inside of her moist mouth.


(It is good, though! Stalker just… isn’t enough for so many!? … Ah, how can Stalker get Scurry back with us?)


Even while thinking this, the handsome boy covered in gray dust and black earth is ground into the pile he’s pushed into. Only his cloak keeps them from mixing up more in the dirt.

“Whoa! Echo, will notice us!”

Climbing on top of him, hidden sex is about to be revealed to all the rest.

“Echo doesn’t boss Limp! Fight for Stalker, make Stalker want her…!”


(Limp was the only girl not trying to attack Stalker!? Why, now?)




Since leaving the Castillo, no females ever listen to what Stalker says.

No matter how kind his words or support, they always want to lead him away or ambush him.


Even this one, who used to be a good girl, is already sloppily riding his forcibly rigid cock as she cries out his name.


“Stalker! Limp… likes Stalker! MMM!? So big, so deep, always the nicest~!”

“Right! Right… Stalker likes Limp, too!?”

“AAAH! Does!? Then… be with Limp! Become mate!”

“Stalker already is that!?”


Hips flare up in pain as the girl pummels him into the loose dirt pile, before grinding on him while growling. The dress hem she bites to hold up allows Stalker to watch the runty girl eagerly claim him with her wet pussy.

Silver eyes, a rarity for their tribe, are bright as the somewhat average-looking girl worships the man beneath her.


(… Right, Limp is… always like this! Super tight! Nobody else, does with Limp!? Even though she has pretty eyes… But, too scary…!)


“Like Limp! Please! Be, just hers!”

The terrifying girl stops being passive like normal, instead biting his neck as she desperately tries to wipe away the other marks on him. Scents they rub on each other push away the competition.

“… Stalker can’t! Everyone… always asks, anyway! Can’t say no…!”



Rejecting her only causes the girl to attack him harder, adjusting the angle so she can piston with her knees as support. She reaches down to pull on his leg, trying to force him to act. While her soppy hole tries to milk him, her tail spirals around his as they wrap up.

A dedication no other woman in the tribe shows is wonderful, but also dangerously personal.




(Ever since, stopped having to pay, everybody comes after Stalker! Help, Scurry! Even Echo!? Please!)




With the gift of darkness from the Great One who mated with Scurry came a release from all sanity.

No longer forced to “pay” up for mating, half of every day is spent with long-stifled sexual releases being fulfilled.




(How does a Great One completely remove all costs!? Black Tide, doesn’t have to pay for anything. What we want, we take!)


The moment Echo had discovered this, all of their traditions changed in a day.

All effort now resides in expanding the tribe and increasing their individual strength, planning for an incalculable future.




(Still, she told us not to always do this!)


Though Stalker tries to reject this break from what should be the “hard work” of digging a trench, other cries of pleasure from the same area show that the rest of the tribe are also giving in to their desires.


“Stalker! Lick! Bite! Mark Limp!

“Ehh!? … Then… show boobs.”


At the mildly desperate request, the girl stops and begins ripping off her dress.


(Mmm… best part.)


While not as big as Echo’s, she’s much kinder when she brings his face to them. Slightly perky and pointed, they invite a punishment he finds himself pleased to return.


(Kinda bigger than normal?)


Licking and nibbling on her, she gives a throaty growl with the attention before continuing to grind on him. Sweat is a weaker smell than her sex, especially for kobolds who can distinguish signals.


(Can’t… like smell, though. Doesn’t smell like…)




Only one scent ever gains his attention.

No matter how many others he’s routinely bathed in.





“Mmmf… Ah, Stalker likes.”

“Okay!? Good… Glad.”


The moment he gives his approval, that terrifying neediness she has begins to fade. Instead, she returns to just loving.

Left to her mercy, Stalker simply closes his eyes and enjoys the rough pleasure building.


(Can’t hold on, anyway! Too many things, fed to Stalker!)


In the clutches of another woman, all of the various “tonics” he’s received as gifts seem to rise up in his blood. Like he’s in heat out of cycle, there’s also a flash of cold to the feeling that leaves him shivering as he hugs his fur cloak.


“Oh? Stalker, looks… oh, so cute… even if this isn’t!”

Furred fingers reach to where they join, squeezing his member that’s already sorely abused.

“Careful! Don’t hurt!”

“Limp, never hurt Stalker! Always protect, from all females…

Hey, Stalker… give Limp a cub!”

“Eh? … Ah, sure…




AH!? Slow! Slow… down…!”


Slapping sounds come as her thick bottom meets him. Only this part of her got the attention she lacked while growing, leaving her thinner than most.

Despite the claim of wanting to protect him, the drive she has to finish up leaves him eager to do the same.


Putting his hands to her waist, he hisses and moans with equal pleasure and pain at the ramp up to their mating.

Taking over for her, Stalker begins furiously pumping into her with every lift, trying to get the base of his cock in before he loses himself.




(Okay! Good! Going! Gonna go…! Finally… let go and…!)




What are you two doing?

A dead voice comes from above, inviting Stalker to reopen his eyes and take in the angry face of his boss.


“… AH! Echo…! Ech—OOOOOOOO!”


With fear as the motivator, Stalker howls out in pleasure as he begins to expand within Limp’s tight pussy. His knot seals off any escape, while his cock begins to rocket white cum deep into the girl having her hair yanked on by their mutual terror.

The tribe’s chief hunter hugs onto Limp desperately, while the runty girl screams in pain and ecstasy, managing to orgasm herself while having her hair pulled violently.


Two stupid dogs, rutting in the dirt? Okay, how should Echo punish?”






After what seems like eternity, the cruel overseer releases Limp’s long locks, allowing the trembling girl to cling to Stalker while sucking on his neck.


A clanging rings out as Echo begins swinging her bell.

Repeated smacks to her butt force Limp to twist Stalker over, resulting in him being on top as the snarling Echo repositions.

“Oh, Stalker’s turn, huh?”



Every impact on his behind causes his and Limp’s union to become intolerable, an agony without end building.


Until Echo sits on the furred boy.

Breathing wildly, he does his best to remain perfectly still while being used as a stool.




“OH!? Stalker, become chair? OKAY, like normal day? KAKAKAKA!”


More pleasure fires through the abused lad at the womanly voice singing through his ears. Looking past Limp’s crying face, he takes in a metallic abomination stomping up to stand above him.

A swirl of wavering miasma clings to this dangerous girl, but he cares not a bit.


“HAH. Always, chair, chair Stalker, funny! … Kol, used, sit!”




(… Yes… Yes, Stalker always wanted to make you the chair, instead! Oh, more…!?)


A bold tail wags as Stalker hungrily stares at the object of his dreams.

The one girl who has never, ever said yes stands here, causing him to release more spurting juices at the perilous proximity.


(Every time Scurry looked at Stalker, Scurry wanted Stalker to be something for Scurry…! Feel that! But… why…?)


No matter how much he feels the same, the looks Scurry gives now are different.

Even at this point of his total humiliation, when the old Scurry would’ve been grinning from ear to ear with that sharp-eyed malice she burned within with, this Scurry…


“Glad, Stalker doing okay.”

A dopey grin is given instead of despise, as the girl he grew up with has mellowed out too much from what he remembers.


(Why, Scurry look happy for Stalker like this!?)




“Stalker is Echo’s chair now! Get another, Scurry! Make that stupid human shithead bend!”

“GAH! KOL, TRY! Always push, bend, but… Boss never break! Why, not break!?”

“Echo doesn’t know! Don’t take it out on her!”

Angry yells are traded; yet, while Echo’s arms get bent in random directions, the source of her pain burns with ambition for…


(Shut up about him…! … Ugh…)


While used as a chair, the captive underneath him is flushed as red as he is, actively being filled by him as neither can escape.


“… Umm… Limp… Limp is with Stalker right now, so… please…”

Right, punishment for Limp in a bit. Almost forgot.”


“Hm. Good punishment, would be… Hey, idiots! GATHER UP!


Taking the opportunity to cross her legs and adjust her gown, the smiling Echo accepts a letter from Kol as other kobolds sheepishly close on them.

The assembled spectators refasten belts and pull down dresses as they try to get over their arousals.


“Okay, as Black Tide knows, Echo has been reporting work to Great One.”

Setting her bell on Stalker’s head, she whips out the parchment after breaking the seal.


“So, Great One says:


I find myself severely displeased by the lack of work demonstrated by a Black Knight’s reports. Completion of the stage must be achieved within two days. Absent this completion, those involved in failure may find themselves left to the devices of a Knight, absent a Black Bell’s permission to intercede in punishments rendered.


… So, what’s Scurry gonna do if these idiots fail to finish in time?”




At the question, the entire assembly begins to quake.

With that quaking, a heat haze spreads through the open-aired, ruined building they work in.


Punching her fists together produces a minor boom, with Kol’s glowing, pink eyes moving to inspect each kobold present.


A slight shaking comes to them as the arteries show.





Though without much passion, the promise seeps into the bodies of all present as deeply as if she’d roared it out.


(Oh, everyone here, been harmed by Scurry. If new kind of pain… Stalker, can’t imagine.)





“No mating! Only work!”


An exodus of cowards scampers through the ground floor.

Shovels scrape and picks ring out as trenches are dug.


The Black Knight spoken of crosses her arms and stalks around the dig site, watching closely for any dereliction.




A new age of suffering has descended upon Black Tide.




“Huh, what does Stalker think about all of this?”

“Hmmm!? … Echo? About what? … About Scurry? Scurry still… beautifu—GAH!?”


Tamping him on the head with her bell, Stalker hisses while Echo clicks her tongue.


“About this trap! Why ditches? What good are they for?”

“… Umu… Ditches, either fall into or carry something. Not deep enough to fall.”

As the chief hunter and Scurry’s protege, the knowledge of traps is his wheelhouse. No matter how he thinks about it…


(It’s useless.)


“Stalker doesn’t know. Can’t see how it works. But, something dangerous, that’s what Stalker feels.”

“… Okay. Echo, believes that. Real thing? Then fine.”


Rising from her stool, Echo rubs her hand through Stalker’s hair, causing him to whistle at the pleasant attention.


While the girl underneath stares angrily and growls, Stalker finds the situation familiar when Echo moves in front to leer at both of them.


(… Look… similar, always. Wonder why?)


Though Scurry wears boy’s clothing and walks around in armor, in a time long past she would dress more like her once shadow. A spiraling gown reveals attractive melons as the taunting Echo extends her tongue toward Stalker.

That look is a fitting one, learned from repetition and exposure.


“Hah, just like always, Stalker gets last place~!”

“… Echo… was always good, anyway.”

An aggressive, but sultry, voice answers his submission.

Don’t forget it, boy. Stalker… belongs to the Boss. Remember who that is. Oh, rest of letter is for Stalker.”


A saucy tail hits him as she turns to sway away from them, leaving the parchment to flutter to the ground.


(Stalker couldn’t beat Echo, either. Always just like Scurry, a step ahead! … Humiliating… pretty good, Echo…!)




“… Please… don’t look like that…”

“Huh!? … Stalker is looking at Limp. Good, right?”

“… Ugh… please leave Limp alone…”


Though she still cradles him, the girl looks thoroughly disgusted with him, too. Unable to pull out of her, she’s still forced to soak in his semen.


(Weird! Stalker, not understand females! … What about letter?)


Reading it while resting on top of her, the letter is written in a cipher meant for Stalker alone.




[What we really want isn’t necessarily what we recall from the past. Events might change us in a way we never imagine, while also changing others to become what we never considered they might be.


Tell me, Audacious One:


Do you feel the thrill of the hunt only for one prey?

Are you sure that prey is what it used to be?


What if another has risen to take its place?]




(Makes zero sense. What is fucking point? Stalker hunts, sure, but who? What?)


While unsure of the point of the letter, the youth somehow feels it is conveying an important message.


(… Umu, who, Stalker hunt?)


While his eyes trail an armored behind for a bit, he only sighs when he realizes he can’t see anything anymore.


(Scurry used to wear less… Hmm?)




A thrill runs up his stiff leg as he glances in another direction.

Bronze armor doesn’t cover anything important on this girl, leaving thin cloth to shape over all the pieces about females that Stalker loves the most.

A figure that was always second to someone else’s is hardly a waste to follow now.




Licking his lips, what Stalker feels makes him bite Limp on the neck, bringing a shivering from the girl who holds him closer as they wait to separate.




(Great One said, after defeat evil from Castillo, we can do big things! Stalker, can’t wait!)





“And so, our noble Sir Sharpe here rode in to assist me in our time of need!”

An exuberant recollection ends with the sweet snake girl bringing the man’s hand up to squeeze in front of their host.




(Good food, at least. Why is it so different from what Slayer’s Call sells? Tastes more like Castillo stuff, but… I’m just not getting this.)


An uncomfortable air lingers in this open room full of woodsy patterns, sculptures, and furniture only made from trees.


(Why not fill the fucking hole in the wall? … No, wait, did a dragon eat through that? It certainly looks like a dragon bite.)




Clad in nearly full suit of penguin plate, Sharpe the Lonely Rider continues to sample mostly vegetarian dishes while ignoring the others in the room. Refusing to doff anything but his helmet, his companion for the night has worked tirelessly to smooth over the social faux pas he no doubt committed.

Since the beautiful snake clad in elvish veils and skirt has finished her introduction, the slayer figures it’s time for him to say something.




(I’m a military man. I’m not meant for this wining and dining shit.)


At attention the whole time, Sharpe can’t recall ever needing to actually use his classes on formal events in practice.


(I’ve never received commendation except in the field. What the fuck do I do, Starr!? This is your crazy gig!)


Resenting the exposure already, only the promise of a fat reward keeps Sharpe bolted to his admittedly comfortable seat.


Because across from him is…






“DUFUFUFU! To be called a slayer, yet exhibit perfect manners… hmmmm, I’m just… pleased as can beeeeee! Hadris, hmmmm, ‘Lies of Liavald duhr Verseil’! Put some zest into it, we’ve got a guest with discerning tastes!”


(As if! It sounds like the same music those brother-sister elf siblings tried to put me to sleep with so they could double-team me!)


The most aesthetically offensive man Sharpe has ever met nearly spills out of a tall chair. Keeping himself from vomiting, even if such a thing might not be possible to do, was Sharpe’s highest priority when watching the fat man whimsically strut out while wearing forest-green tight pants and an open-fronted harem shirt.


None of Starr’s lengthy information can stay in Sharpe’s head as he tries to determine how to proceed.


(“Don’t offend him”? Shouldn’t he fucking work on not offending me!? I can hardly eat… buuuut…)


“… No way, Mr… Master Navar… I aint’ really a man of class like yourself? I prefer jumping into the thick of things.”

Said in a way to portray surety of direction, Sharpe has no idea if he’s on the right track.


(How do you talk to people like this? … Where’s a dialogue tree or something? Starr, I’m gonna nuke you.)


“Oh!? Hmmm, a man of action, hmmmm, hmm, hmmm! I approve of such tastes, at least in principle. Though I might not seem it by my grace, I once chose the ash-stained, Grace-soaked life myself, long ago…”

Gesturing to a blackened claymore hanging on a wall, it’s the only piece out of place in this room of elf worship.


(… I get that.)


Sharpe leans back into his chair at this revelation, feeling somber.


“It ain’t a life you leave easy, even when you think you might want to.”

“… That… is quite true. Though, from one as young as yourself, an astuteness I wouldn’t have anticipated.”


(I ain’t that young! … I’ve watched enough people just… vanish into light or smoke…)


Long treks between ports leave plenty of places to die without even having the ability to scream.


(… This ain’t for thinking about that. I’m relaxing. This is relaxing, right!?)


“Anyway, thanks for having me over for dinner.”

Manners are ever his place of escape.


(Even though your guards hate me.)




One of the same men from that crazy night with the weird church boy is staring at Sharpe as if he wants to gut the slayer. The rest have weapons nearly at the ready should the warrior make the wrong move.


Only the effervescent girl…




“Right, even I wouldn’t have expected a slayer to be as gentlemanly as you! Even though Ad—


IIIISH!? Shhhhtaaaarr… Starr… said…”

Biting her tongue while trying to say a name, it ends up eventually becoming Sharpe’s comrade-in-arms’ name.

After, she begins whispering to herself while holding a small hand over her face to hide.


(Weird as sin, but I want to kiss her.)


Feeling the same way as on that night, Sharpe can’t help but burn with some jealousy.

The same feeling another man shows toward Sharpe.


(Yeah, that guard wants to bang, too. … Were they always like this? None of these people are slayers, so why does it feel… normal?)




Of all the missions Sharpe has ever carried out, this one is the strangest and most lively without devolving into combat or assault.




“… Soup is good, Miss Ave.”

“YES!? It’s… it’s made with a special fruit plucked from the Copernican tree on the day of the solstice! My Fimbo is being terribly extravagant… What exactly do slayers eat, Mr. Sharpe? I’ve never seen your ki—


TYPE OF PERSON… up close, at least not…


… huh!? Why are you…?”

Nearly saying the wrong thing again, the ditzy girl earns a head pat as Sharpe feels himself smiling. At first scared of him, her cheeks are now fully red as this elf-loving coward starts getting teary.

“… Ave… I already have a man, I’m sorry…!”

“I get that, no worries.”

A quaking voice calms a bit as the guards angrily wonder at the source of her sadness.

“Please… please don’t leave! … I really need your help doing what Adris wants done…! I don’t want… to just ask him, it’d be…!”

“Yeah, yeah, I ain’t leaving. Just…”




Ask for her help with a blessing.




“Wish me luck, little lady!”

“… Eh? Okay… ‘good luck’! And… Ave believes in you, and… thank you for saving me~.”


A bubbly face beams at him when she closes her enrapturing green eyes. With that calmness he feels, a spark jumps across Sharpes hand still on her head before something flares up in his mind’s-eye.


(You still make zero sense, but I see why he dotes on you if that’s what happens when you want someone to succeed! Okay, I get this. She’s useless except as emotional support from now on, so it’s up to me to close out the mission.)




I don’t care what happens, but there must be a festival on this day. I’m hoping that you can be the center of attraction for it, but it’s not absolutely necessary for… the quest. The man loves elves, so that’s how you’ll make early inroads; but, what he likes more than elves are…


(“Profits”? How to play this…? Why do I want to be a part of a celebration, again?)


I’ve acquired a special license. It lets me rope these monstrous girls into working for me in certain ways. Just ask Mantecado about proof.

Personally, I was thinking of… a gentleman’s club. Would you like to be my first noble guest?


Furious nods gather everyone’s puzzlement as Sharpe recalls the reward.


(Right, I’m never going to be lonely again! Ah, I can feel its worth flowing through my veins!)




Leaning onto the table, Sharpe lifts his gauntleted hand up toward this fat bastard who stands between him and the hot fucking to be had in the coming days.


(I’m shit at making money, but I’ve got experience getting burned plenty of times on pay day!)




“Master Navar, have you ever heard of ‘quartermaster fraud’? You see, for a requisition-based outfit commissioned by higher ups, there’s very interesting ways to make money while skimming both sides of the equation: soldiers and suppliers.

Now, I know the armies of Zennia aren’t supposed to be that complicated, but…”

“… Hmmm… hmmm?”

Ave smiles blankly at her invited guest, sweating the entire time as he puts her on the spot by their relationship.

The guards only stare in confusion, before looking to their boss to see if the slayer is pissing him off.




While the fat man flinches at the rough question, there’s a glimmer in his bulging eye at Sharpe’s topic of choice.


“Being the man in the middle of any organization is the place to be, from what the other soldiers tell me. Supply side is the real meat and beans of the outfit, y’know? Profits from war are never made in the fighting of it, it’s from the purchasing and delivering and such! That you probably understand completely, but think about it from the commander’s—


Ah, the noble’s side. If you own the in and out of the actual army itself, disregarding what you’re fighting for, who, or why… well…”


A rambling laugh, out of character for a man of any reputable stature but perfectly normal for Sharpe, starts out his ominous launch into the topic of embezzlement.




“… it means you’re basically god. What the nobles and soldiers don’t know, won’t hurt them, so long as they still win!

I’m hoping by the end of this that I convince you of putting into practice some of these ideas, so you’ll be able to tell them who you got them from!”

“Dufufufu, it’s hardly wise to tell me, hmm, you’re trying to convince me of something, but…”

The ugly bastard settles into his chair, leaning on his arm before revealing pearly white chompers and a confidence Sharpe has only seen in ace combatants.




“… let’s see what, hmmm, you have to offer!





(I don’t know how the fuck he did it, but good job, Sharpe.)




All in all, leaving the girls in charge of making preparations was a test, but also a huge risk.


(I managed to plant some future seeds with Sharpe and Stalker, in addition to the girls successes. If I can turn Sharpe into a salesman for the slayers and Stalker into the one in charge of Echo… Hahaha…)




“Adris, tea time~!”

“… We had tea already today.”


One of those risks spoken of slithers into the room, wearing remarkably less than she normally does. Only a sheer, leaf-patterned nighty covers her, an unusual black color that gives her pale skin a new appeal.

With no ornaments left in her hair and her ponytail pulled out, she pulls up onto the bed with a tray. Leaning against him, the blushing girl whispers teasingly as her unique scent goes to work.


“Tea time for elves is three times a day. Every brew is a different flavor… so… you have to… try them all…?”


Waiting for him to act, she does her best to remain in control of her timidness while opening herself up to him.


(… I see.)


Lifting a cup up, he blows on it before bringing it to her lips.


Sipping on it as he holds it steady, the girl smacks her lips appreciatively before picking up the other cup.


“Zesty! Just like Fimbo said it’d be!

… In the end, Mister Sharpe won over Fimbo’s heart through some… very strange stories about his militia life? I couldn’t understand most of it, but even the guards were near crying by the end when Sharpe began recounting what he’d finally been paid after an expedition…?

… Adris, sip-sip!”


An eager hand pushes a cup into his face, making Adris wince at the attention he’s getting.

Sipping on it as she holds it up, he admits it’s tasty, but…




[Avenalliah Aurmaris


Respect: 💖 💖 💖 💖 💖

Obsession: 💛 💛 💖 💖 💖

Understanding: 💖 🤍 🤍 🤍 🤍


The girl known as Avenalliah considers her heart taken forever, broken and snatched up by a fiend from another world who speaks of dark clouds as if he owns them.]




Rantil told him of a terrible omen before refusing to elaborate further.


While Still looks at him with dislike at times, she also hasn’t been able to approach Ave since the girl is always at Adris’ side ever since that night. At least without being sent on an “important mission”.


(… I feel… I feel like I’ve done something wrong.)




That feeling is reinforced when the girl leans toward him after setting the cup down.


When he leans away from her, she breaks out of a trance gripping her body before blushing and turning away.


“… We~ll… then… his success means that we’re ready for…?”

“Right. Absolutely ready. We rely on you from now on, Ave.”

“… I’ll definitely answer that belief, Adris.”


Throwing himself into some of his notes, Adris ignores the resolute girl except to let her sip her tea or for him to sip his.


(I’ll deal with… whatever is going on right now after. I can’t risk breaking her mental state.)




Meltisha’s notes are the final piece of the puzzle that still has his attention.

Even after going through them, the ominous final words leave him baffled.




[That which arises from another age brings with it horrors beyond contemplation. Though we encounter them, and think of them as sleepers or travelers from the distant past, they are in fact symptoms of a forgotten disease, one best left alone even if uncured.


Though bereft of what once gave them ancient forms of prestige and grandeur, do not think these symptoms unable to recall what once made them mighty. Should one encounter the past:


Flee it.

If one cannot flee, resist it without forcing it to succumb.


For in succumbing, one may fall with it.]




(What does this mean? Meltisha called these the notes of a trustworthy scholar. “Bloodstained ghouls” were… from another age?)


Still and Neesiette cannot be asked, lest he spoil their participation.

Even Rantil refused to write about the concept.




(… It’ll be okay. Everything I’ve done until now has been to win. Big Sis is as good as beaten…)


His chest still hurts when thinking about that and her.

Something within is anticipating a duel that is no longer avoidable, while he’s dreading fighting such a potent figure.


(Is she powerful? It seemed as though those servants could’ve beaten her if things had turned out differently. None of the slayers give Lycia any concern. In the end, isn’t she just a regular member of the Wondrous Works?)




Those magical titans wove spells of room-filling destruction while “just playing”. Lycia considered herself someone to be beneath them in magical talents.




(Just maybe… we’ll win handily?)


That thought is a total lie.

The moment he thinks it, he grimaces with the truth coming out.




(This isn’t going to go well, is it, Sis?)





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