Take Up the Cross – CH8: Up the Castillo in Twenty Minutes

The feeling of being turned inside out assaults Adris, one similar to when the black specter in the Emperor’s tomb killed him.

The darkness beyond the door wasn’t a path, but a great, dark hole. Adris feels the puzzling madness of the abyss receding, replaced by an onrush of something else.


Sheer malevolence and dark, tormented fascination linger at the furthest possible distance of his perception, hidden within the total darkness of this new area.


Recovering from the strange feeling of forced movement, Adris’ aura senses quake with a sudden awakening. The fascination at the edge of his mind seems to feel him, too, and it closes to surround him in an instant.


As the rudely disturbed sleeper awakens, sconces in the wall spark and begin to burn a dull blue. Rather than warmth, a cold light illuminates a hall far richer than the abyss.


The disgusting wealth here is etched into its architecture: sharp, immense columns that meet as lancet arches overhead; marbled stone walls with soft, wooden panels at mid-level in a checkerboard pattern, wavy and fluted; long, dark-gold carpeting; and a raised, recessed, vaulted ceiling with ornate friezes and mouldings.


The prevailing colors are gray, blue, and gold, but without luster due to the meager illumination of the hall.


(Somehow… I prefer the void.)


Looking more like a great residency’s main hall, large paintings hang on the walls in gaudy frames: various inhuman figures in states of both dress and undress, their poses often tempting, but never purely carnal; scenes of violent carnage intermix with oases of common activity and recreation; and strange depictions, such as fruits made of glass instead of flesh, complete the oddity of the various artists’ styles.


With suits of uniformly designed armor hafting sharp spears while standing at grim attention, this guarded space is both wide and high for a corridor, and extends far out into the darkness in both directions.


The misleadingly normal door behind him closes with the sharp sound of a latch going down.


Adris is still being carried like a bundle. He again looks up at the woman holding him.

Her eyes are narrowed, shining in this dark space, as she peers down both directions of the hall. Concentration is writ on her face, with a little uncertainty creeping through her expression.


(Is this not where she expected to end up?)


Adris uses his right hand to pat her thigh, hitting on something that isn’t flesh, but rather irregular and hard. Curious, he starts to ask something…


“Hold, for a minute, little brother. No words, or I’ll take your tongue for myself~”


The woman is still concentrating, but her mouth becomes a sneer when she sets him down. Pulling out a piece of folded parchment from inside her coat and flicking it open, she reads it with swiftly darting eyes.


(Little brother?)


Adris ponders the words while standing next to the taller woman, trusted by her enough not to wander off or bolt for freedom.

(This… Lycia desires to address me as such?)

Adris wonders if she has determined anything about him. Needing her neutrality, and possibly her aid, Adris bets on rewards for obedience.


Adris fehl Dain becomes [Lycia’s Little Brother].

(A part I don’t know how to play.)


Relaxing finally, she taps the parchment, which folds itself back up. Depositing the square inside her coat, she smiles broadly at Adris with amused eyes.


“Carried like a log… or riding on my back? Which is your preference, lil’ bro?”


Startled by the question, Adris unintentionally steps back a bit.

Glancing at her breasts, he thinks of how to hold on.


His choice makes her chuckle.





Bounding down hallways, the scenery becomes a blur.

Much of it is darkness that Adris’ eyes can’t penetrate, yet Lycia sees through clearly.

Arms hooked over Lycia’s shoulder and under her armpit, Adris grips while brushing against her generous breasts.


They move down twisting corridors, her choosing adjoining paths after a moment’s trepidation.


A large, blue-glowing fireplace lights the room ahead, the room within a picturesque resting place surrounded by bookshelves and furniture along the walls, storing obscenely expensive porcelain plates and other dust-covered treasures.


Adris catches sight of a girl lying on a red, claw-footed sofa as they barrel through.


Around her are stuffed animals and toys. Resting, with her eyes closed and turned towards him, her long, tousled, pink hair flows over her body’s length.


Her clothing is fluffy and cute, looking like doll’s clothes made by the southern barbarians, though the clothing lets her legs, upper arms, and torso show through. The pale, soft, delectable skin underneath the thick clothes is far too appealing to Adris.


As they fly past, the girl mechanically opens her eyes and locks onto him. Her pink eyes on her perfectly symmetrical face are filled with fathomless lust, as her arm moves slightly to lift herself.


Adris feels fear as he notices a detail: the woman has doll-like joints where her elbows, shoulders, and knees are. Her body is dangerously inhuman, and an equally inhuman presence leaks from it as she rouses.


When she rouses, a rush of whispers sounds all around Adris, with a feeling of terror gripping his heart.


The pale Lycia doesn’t slow at all when assaulted by these sounds, simply charging out the room’s exit, barely avoiding a portcullis that slams down behind her as her speed increases at the last moment.


A sad voice sounds out behind as Adris tries to hang onto a rampaging jungle cat.


“Oh… but I wanted to play~.”


While Lycia bounds down the hall, Adris’ heart calms with the disappearance of the sudden sense of struggle that came to him.

He becomes aware of how inescapable this mansion might be without Lycia’s aid.





Within this evil place, Lycia searches for something.


Adris hangs on as she checks doors and passages, finally discovering a room to her liking.

She carries him inside and throws her large, wooden contraption to the side, closing the door with her foot before bolting it. She deposits Adris into a chair next to a wall, before finally relaxing herself.


This small room, possessing only two chairs and a table, resembles a waiting room within a large home.

The noticeable dissimilarity is the left corner of the room being absent, instead opening into a circular, plaster-walled void with carved reliefs along its walls. Only a low, brass railing would keep the viewer from plunging into the darkness below.

Adris can hear subtle music entering from this space, as if someone is playing for them from a distant place.

A black candle in an ornate, brass frame burns with a non-existent flame, Lycia’s body lit by its waving light.


(Aura tools all about. No normality at all. Sheer decadence! Unfair!)


Stewing in his jealousy, Adris’ mind is finally taken off of the tools by Lycia stretching like a cat in front of him, her body taut as she shows off her butt against her overcoat.


Adris follows its movement, until he sees her green-golden eyes watching him.

Swiftly taking off her coat, she throws it into the other chair. Walking up to stand in front of him, she puts both gloved hands on the arms of the chair, locking Adris in as she leans forward.


Lycia’s beautiful, if slightly gaunt, face comes closer to his.


The boy can now make out her inner outfit. A white, armless ruffled shirt tight to her bustline and showing cleavage. Golden stripes in a stylized flower design fill the lower left of the shirt, with the hem cutting off at her waist.

A large belt holds up short, flared pants that cling to her ass, the belt also supporting two leather panels that run down her thighs to the top of her knees. These panels hold numerous pouches, containers, instruments, and tools.


But the most interesting part of his view is open and on display.


The front of the pants are missing at her crotch.

(Just how obscene are you creatures?)

Instead, her red, silky lace hip-hugger panties are readily visible, thin enough that Adris can make out the shape of her lips.


Her riding boots can be heard as she taps her foot, bringing Adris’ attention away from her barely covered treasure to the black, silk socks running up her legs into her pants, which accentuate her meat as they hold tight against it.

“If you stare that hard, you might not be able to answer my questions.”

The woman coos as she speaks, her hand going to Adris’ head, pushing back his cowl when she lightly grips him around the back.




Adris was too preoccupied to notice her moving to expose his face.

She peers down at him with his humanity fully revealed. Her smile is teasing, but also domineering, and a hint of malice lingers in her eyes.

Realizing that the woman has potentially exposed his deception, Adris can’t help but sweat.


“When did they start letting such de~li~cious little boys into the Wondrous Works?”

She enunciates her favorite word.


(No choice but ignorance?)


Adris has no plan for fooling her.

Though he needs the woman to escape, he can’t determine how to make her his.


“… Today, at the very least.” He replies, bringing a chuckle to her.

Lycia rubs his hair gently as she stands relaxed before him, her thick hips moving slightly as she emphasizes them.


Adris is worried by the temperature of her hands: barely the same warmth as the room, cold even in these strange halls.


“Is there an issue with a fellow scholar being a boy?”


“Not at all, I prefer it~. Mother’s tastes mean more young colleagues like you.”

Unlike the kejourou, this woman isn’t grossly blatant or ugly. Adris can feel her seduction, but it is gentle so far as she continues.

“Still, a mask on a young boy is a bit presumptuous, even if you’re trying to appear mysterious.”


(But she’s not seducing, she’s interrogating.)


Something about this style of appealing to him seems familiar.


(And she is interested in the mask.)


“… It sure was a fierce struggle.” Adris says, trying to regain control of the conversation. “Your device was really excellent.”

He looks to the covered box she’s set on the floor.

The woman’s eyes are wide as he looks back, her face soft. She looks pleased for a moment, before recovering her seductive gaze.


“Ahaha, what an unusual compliment.” She lovingly pats his head.

“But do you really think that little bit of stage theater was that fierce?” Even as she pats him, her dimly shining eyes take on a more sadistic look. “Them doing that before the election is a guaranteed event~.”


(Was that… not considered a “fierce battle?”)


Adris can’t follow, as he doesn’t know the customs or expectations.


“Mm, your look is excellent~. I like how you try to hide it.” Speaking abruptly, the woman bends down and…

“Disregarding the advertising that you call a battle, the truly strange part of the day was the guardians awakening to try and swipe my precious stowaway.”


… kisses Adris on the cheek.


Confused, his expression turns surprised before he can stop it.

She then licks his cheek where she had kissed it, her pale skin a bit flushed.


“… But, you don’t smell too frightened? Barely escaping from the Wondrous Works, shouldn’t a…”


Kissing him lightly on the lips with a pause in her sentence, shocking Adris to the core, she pulls back suddenly.


“… subject (prey) be a little more worried around the researcher (wolf)?”


Adris tenses, trying to move subtly to take back up his cross. There’s nowhere to escape to in this closed room.




As his hand moves, the woman’s own on the chair goes to his arm, clamping onto it.


(Absolutely… monstrous strength.)


Adris’ arm can’t even squirm as the woman’s cold hand grips it.




“Your little cross is quite curious. I loved it when Ishia fell. It was a manly throw. Yelling ‘go to hell’ as you defended me~. Kyaa~!”

Lycia fakes a maidenly scream, her eyes still serious. Adris notes that her gaze lingers on the shining silver as she holds down his arm.


(That… wasn’t really directed at her. And you are very curious.)


This woman before him, who seems to favor tools, is interested in him because of them.


“Is it not strange for you to be betrayed by someone else like that?”


Lycia looks genuinely confused, before smiling gleefully.

“The idea that anyone in the Works could be betrayed by another member is absolutely hilarious~! You can’t betray people who are your natural enemies! If anything, only one person trying to ambush me would be considered a great success! I wonder if I’ve managed to be forgotten, lately…?”


(As an organization, you all seek to thwart each other? How do you function, then!?)


Adris is silent in thought as she stares. Since Adris’ deception is already finished, he finds himself at her mercy.


As if she senses his distress, Lycia relaxes her grip a bit. Smiling kindly before him, her next words give him hope.

“It’s not as if you need to be worried about me. I have no reason to return you to the Works, nor ‘punish’ you for escaping, little brother. If you went that far to get out, then it’s not my place to ruin your fun~.”

Finally breathing again, Adris falls back into his chair.


“… But, you know, my debt has already been repaid from… earlier. I carried you out. So…”


She stands back up, releasing Adris with a slight pat.


“… Our business is done?”

She leaves off with an open ended question.


Adris is confused, then realizes the implication.


(She’s going to let me go, but also…)

He swallows hard.



She will abandon Adris.


Even now, she gets ready to leave, looking at her coat on the other chair.

(I see. She already has control of the situation, and by extension, me. “Mercy” is leaving me alone. Anything further, I have to bargain for.)


Adris runs out of options instantly.


(But she is interested in me, a queer mystery that is dumped before her.)

A stranger escaping with at least two bizarre mystical artifacts. This woman is watching how he reacts with a passive face, but sharp eyes.

(If I can’t appear to be in charge of myself, then I choose to let you pretend to be in charge.)



Adris quickly pleads, with a low voice.


“Hm? Did you need something, cutie?” The woman purrs as she turns back to him, her hands checking a tube on her thigh satchel, an object that looks like the one she used earlier on the device.


(Appeal to her need to be in control.)


“I need to get out.”


“Get out? From where?”

Her question attacks Adris at a sore point. She studies him, while Adris remains silent. When he doesn’t respond, she appears more curious.

“… Do you even know where you are?”


The woman kneels in front of Adris then, letting her breasts fall onto his legs, her face close to his and looking up at him.

Her beautiful skin and eyes compliment her full, red lips, even with the sharp teeth behind them. As she stares into him, Adris feels… aroused.


“I doubt I can answer any questions you have about this place, or why I am in it. I wouldn’t know where to begin.”


Her hands on him, running under his coat to feel him, she says nothing until she takes a deep breath next to him, seemingly smelling him again.


“Hmmm… as I thought, a human, but subtly different? The taste was different, too. And something… foreign clings to you?”

Adris is mystified as she continues listing details about him, her sultry voice more relaxed and natural with each question.

“Who caught you?”


“Nobody caught me.” Refusing to give too much information, he plays it safe, instead.

“When I woke up, I was being experimented on by a woman.”


“Who was it? Share everything with me.

She looks focused, her eyes shining bright as she runs her hand up to his face.


(What is she doing?)


“Why would I tell you that?”


She opens her mouth a bit, stunned. She then…


Rises from Adris’ lap with an inhuman movement, as if every part of her body is a separate organism.

As she whips up, her right leg lifts and kicks into the wall.

Hearing it crack, Adris goes pale as she grabs onto his head with her hand, leering down at him with her fascinating eyes still glowing.


“Hey, I thought it was weird, but… HeY? WhY aRe YoU…?”

She growls like a beast, her voice shrill and wavering, then becomes stiller when Adris’ eyes shake in response.


“… Why are you ignoring my [Heart Taking]?” Lycia puffs her cheeks out. “Shouldn’t you be my dutiful little brother? In body and heart?”




Adris is shocked by her blatant admission of trying to somehow mesmerize him.


(I’m in mortal danger.)


“Isn’t it weird? What kind of human are you?” She has a device from her belt out now, a rod with a feather-like crystal attached.

“My detector shows no internal power at all? Isn’t that… actually impossible!?”

She pokes and prods him with various tools, her leg still trapping him. Adris blushes at being treated with such indignity, taking his revenge by staring straight at her soft pussy.


(Better to be interested in something else.)


But, not only for the reason of hiding his dissatisfaction.

Adris feels the lust from before returning quicker the longer he’s near her. The strange lust that overtook him began when he awoke in this insane place, but her smell is what’s driving that lust to even further heights than the hair bitch did.


After a minute of her satisfying her curiousity with unrecognizable implements, she sighs.

“Can you even defend yourself?”

When Adris shakes his head “no” with a dark expression, she looks pained. She rubs his head more amiably.


(Yes, I am defenseless. Please, “protect” me, if you will.)

Adris’ escape depends on this person, no matter his personal feelings on the matter.


“How did a human with no magic escape to the Wracked Void Gate? Much less bag a researcher? You should be some monster’s husband in the Expanse.”


“… It was a harrowing experience.”

Cutely scrunching and shifting her lips a bit as she thinks, she finally gives him a kind smile with pitying eyes.


“Well… I don’t mind helping a bit. The place you find yourself in would be considered a hell for your kind, but also a paradise. You have the privilege of being stuck within…”

Letting her leg rest on the armrest of his chair, she holds her hands up dramatically, inviting Adris to take in the room.



“… the [Gran Castillo], the impossible mansion of the [Golden Sky Alchemaster], one of the three surviving great evils of the world.”


Adris comes to a realization.

(I’m no longer on Xin. Likely in totality.)

It is the only explanation for the people he has witnessed with his own eyes.


The strange way this world works. Especially this enormous structure, so lavish and expensive that it would have made the First Emperor jealous, so jealous that he would have either claimed it for himself or died trying.


(The southern barbarians are powerful, but they have no powers such as glimpsed here. Their understanding of aura is incredibly limited, and I’ve heard no stories of them having access to other abilities.)


The eldritch existences within the great, torn-asunder library that he had escaped from are beyond his understanding, and Adris is considered a learned man by his peers.


(This isn’t the hell described in the Wandering Spirits written by generations of scholars studying the divine. If this is an afterlife, then it still resides in another realm.)


Things click together.

The voice at the climax of his “death” had been…


… welcoming.




Being put into an entirely new world makes Adris…

Incredibly stressed.


“What kingdom are you from, then? Or were you nabbed from Petripolis?”


Adris starts to respond, but can’t think fast enough, her catching onto his rush for an excuse.


“… You aren’t from a kingdom, are you?” She smiles broader, amused at his helplessness.

“Where are you from, unique little stowaway? What is your story?”


“… My story is that the way things work here makes no sense. Especially not the power those two people showed.”


“’Power’? Magic (WORLD SHAPING)? Two people meaning… Tishia and Heleton? And… the way things work (MODUS VIVENDI)? What about Modi are strange? Modi are…”

She blinks, catching on. “You have no knowledge of Modi?”


Looking supremely annoyed, Adris vents his frustrations.

“I have no knowledge of who or what any of you are, nor what this place is! If a woman such as you existed, she should, by my knowledge, be considered a monster beyond even a hermit’s fever dreams. She would be hunted down, no matter how beautiful she is. I simply don’t…”


(No, that’s perfect.)


“… I don’t remember. No, none of this is familiar. Everything here is wrong. It’s not what I should know.”

Making his voice sound a bit haunted, Adris tries to convey the despondency of his situation.


“Oh? How could you not know about even such basic things? The most ignorant human trash know about at least one Modus…”

Lycia’s eyes narrow, her hands on his cheeks now, rubbing them.


“… Amnesia?”

Her wild speculation gives him an out, finally.


(Yes, please fill in the gap however you would like.)


The fewer questions he has to answer, the better. The more questions she answers, the more knowledge he will possess.

“Amnesia” is an absolutely wonderful, golden rescue rope dangled before him.


Nodding vigorously at the word while maintaining a pained look, he confirms her theory.


“Amnesia from experimentation… is it? That’s not… implausible. But it doesn’t explain…”

Smiling as if she doubts him, she loses her edge when Adris remains firm in his conviction.

“Well, let’s go with that. Certain things seem strange, but your reactions don’t seem fake, at least.”


She relaxes, taking on an instructor’s tone before continuing.

“The basics you should know for immediate survival are thus:


Modi determine how things function. Belonging to a Modus is your way of interacting and living in the world.

The one that governs me would be [Golden Luster], though [Blue Abyss], the [Mother of Monsters]’ private Modus, affects me within the Works.”


Stopping for a moment, she looks bothered.

“Golden Luster is the Modus of the Alchemaster, Supreme Owner of the Gran Castillo. Anyone who belongs to the Castillo functions on this Modus, and it is unique to this demesne.”


With a disgusted look, she admits,

“Here, we belong to her.”


(Not fond of this grand villainess, are you?)


With a more devilish look, she tacks on,


Here, it is your enemy. Technically… I should be, too, as I am a part of it. But…”


As Adris sweats at the idea of having her as an enemy, wondering how she’ll finish her statement…


“… It’s annoying to work for another, so let’s just ignore what boring people call ‘responsibility’~”


She starts rubbing his head while explaining more.


“The one for humans would be either [Pure Devotion]; or, for weirdos like the Chosen and other human deviants, [Battle Pressure]. The second, though, also applies to a large number of barbarous and warrior-like demi-humans, and also monsters…”

Lycia’s voice lingers on the last part, though Adris can’t infer why.

“If you’ve lived to your age, then you already belong to a Modus, even if you can’t recall it. By your nature, I almost guarantee it’s Pure Devotion.”


She grows amused at explaining something so trivial to her.


“Well, it suffices that if you wander the Castillo alone, the first thing that will happen is that you will be assaulted by one of the Alchemaster’s minions. Once you are unable to defend yourself, you will be… tasted.”

She flicks her tongue out, then laughs as he winces a bit.

“Especially a boy with ‘amnesia’ like you. If you can’t assert a challenge, it’ll be assumed you’re surrendering, and your Modus will allow for you to be violated to the contentment of your attacker at that moment~.”


(What bullshit is this?)


“How can I be violated if I’m bashed to pieces by the person attacking me?!”

She looks confused, then smiles again at his ignorant remark.


“It’s not like you die when you’re incapacitated. If you don’t understand, then imagine that you have a thing called [Vigor] (ABSOLUTENESS OF FORM) within you, that which will preserve you from true, lasting harm.

Assuming sufficient [Devotion] (PROOF OF OBEDIENCE) remains within, too, you’ll be transposed outside of the mansion after you deduct your [Recompense] (SURRENDERED REWARD) from it for losing all of your Vigor. Your cute form will endure, okay?

Only if the [Odds] (DYNAMICS OF STRUGGLE) of the challenge result in you having a deficit of Devotion will you be potentially left at the lasting mercies of your captor; or, worse, [Fate]. Even the Chosen, those absolute weirdos, will just… escape, somehow, after their time of contrition passes, freed anew to return to seek their demented objectives…”


Speaking of these things called “the Chosen” makes Lycia wrinkle her beautiful face.


“As for you…?”

She sizes him up openly, before putting her hand to her mouth and snorting.


“Well, someone that poses no challenge wagers next to nothing, meaning that some female is going to play with you for a while before you get transposed out of the Castillo. Though, you should hope it is a female…”

She snickers, fluffing his hair when he looks resentful.

“Those who fight under any Modus do so for the benefits provided by winning: all Modi interact on some level, and defeating an opponent of another Modus or making them submit will increase your growth with what you serve.”


Tapping the chair, Lycia concludes her thoughts.

“Obtaining a strength that one could never hope to grasp in one’s own society is the honeyed, enticing poison that draws you humans here. If that’s what you originally came for… then you have only yourself to blame for the situation you find yourself in~”


Adris sinks into the chair, his thoughts a mess as he loses tension. The woman before him keeps paying him close attention, her hands rubbing against him playfully as she comforts him.




(This is absurd bullshit.)




Even if the details as explained match his experiences in this new world, hearing them said out loud only makes him reject them even more.

(Please, give me back my aura.)

Breaking down and openly weeping would be the obvious solution to all of Adris’ problems, but he doubts Lycia would respond favorably.

(No, she actually might. She seems to like me, the more useless I appear… But I can’t determine how to… operate within the way this Zennia works. Gaining power within such a system… how is it even possible? Would it even be possible for an outsider like me!?)


The immediate goal, getting out of this demonic mansion to freedom, now seems impossibly distant.

Though she offers that he has the option of being beaten up and raped mercilessly in order to escape…


(Lycia… assumes… that I have a proper Modus, much less this Vigor.)

Adris feels genuine fear at the thought that he has none.

(If one has no Modus governing them when they lose, will they simply perish…? Or, worse, become slaves of the one who beats them?)


[Aura user from another world] is unlikely to be counted as a proper way of living, and he has zero safe ways to test his problem’s parameters.


“What about the Modus that governs humans?”


“Devotion is a fickle thing.” Lycia looks dismissive of it as she speaks.


“All humans are bound to those more favored than them. They are,” She seems stuck for a comparison, then says,

“Cattle within a closed system. Only the ‘deities’ which claim to control the light, and Fate itself, can be said to have truly free will. Everyone else is bound by the directions of those who accrue more Devotion than they possess. It is the power, and also livelihood, of those who own it. As long as you follow your set path in life, and especially the rules…”

She looks disgusted at the thought of obeying others.


“Well, you can live, if grazing grass before you’re slaughtered is what you consider living.”

Lycia’s eyes narrow a bit at Adris in pity.

“The humans take pride in bullying those less fortunate, often for no reason. Advancement is always through subservience and degradation.”



Adris is immensely disappointed in the humanity of this “Zennia,” resolving not to include himself as a part of it.


“As far as magic is concerned, the way of putting will to power, to change the world itself as it were, is as varied as you can imagine. There’s no one, true path. Also, only those with power within, or special training to stand in for lacking such power, can use it.”

Shaking her head, Lycia denies Adris’ unspoken thoughts with a flat tone. “For you, possessing not even a glimmer, it would surely be impossible?”


Adris grips onto her hand, trembling. She looks curious in response. His act is part deception and part truth.


(Without Devotion, there can be no Recompense, is that it? So I’ll just…)




“… Help me escape…” Adris chokes on his next word. “… Please.”


“Hmm? Hmmmmm?” She makes a quizzical sound as she smiles, taking on a truly youthful look. “You want to escape with Big Sis? Have you… fallen for me~?”


Adris swallows.


“… I need big sister’s help.”



She grins from ear to ear, her sharp teeth bright. “Hmmmm, okay… but…”


She leans down.


“Big sis needs something in return…” She smiles maliciously, before whispering into his ear.

“She needs to know that her little brother… will listen to her.”




Listen to her.”


(… this woman is familiar.)

The way she acts sets Adris on edge.

(She intends to help me. And after…?)


The woman named Lycia is blatantly maneuvering to indebt Adris to her, and also manipulate his emotions to rely on her for support.


(Trying to make me dependent, isn’t that the first step towards…?)

His head hurts.


The cross burns.






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

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


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


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


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


Disposition: Resilient / Adaptable / Sinner
Alignment: Chaotic

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



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



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

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

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

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

“If you’re appealing to a monster, wouldn’t that be detrimental in the long term?”



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

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

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

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

“Every new situation is a chance to demonstrate acting talent, and Adris’ is geared towards his own survival. If you need to play the fool, then be the best fool.”



“Weakness is never forgiven.”



Name: Lycia Vehrose
Race: Ghoul
Sex: Female
Age: ?? (Old Lady)

Occupation: Wondrous Works Scholar; Tool Creator
Discipline: ???


[Shooting Stars] – “A strange, wooden box with holes in the end produces a stream of missile-like light, which explodes with enormous force on the chosen target. I, of course, want it desperately. Hooray for aura tools.”

[Pocket Belmont] – “A spiked chain that flies with great force to strike out, before returning. It explodes with flame on impact, destroying whatever is around its point of release. Is this love? Am I in love?”

[Heart Taking] – “Hey, won’t you give yourself to me~? Completely and absolutely.”


Disposition: Sultry / Intelligent / Vicious
Alignment: Neutral

Eyes: Green, Speckled Gold
Hair: Blond
Skin: Deathly White



R-Value – “Please unlock me, Adris~.”



C-Value – “Perhaps you have a fascination for that which seems human, but whose qualities deviate far from it when inspected? Even if she’s your ideal figure, Adris, won’t it be a problem if she decides to eat you up?”

“Is she more beautiful because she’s so willing to be amoral, or in spite of it? Showing so many wonderful expressions, are you captivated by the face, or the evil light in her eyes?”



“A woman whose first instinct is to not trust you, and to trust only in herself. A fairly good perspective and outlook on life, in a blue abyss filled with lunatics. The obvious question is: how sane can she be if she willingly lives there?”

“While willing to help and showing a proclivity towards honoring deals, she’s seemingly not above taking what she can get.”



“Heroines sure seem brutal on Zennia. Is this a world crossover fad? But a woman that knows what she likes and is willing to gently stroke your head to receive it… It is both maternal and carnal. This is my fetish. Oh well, time to die.”




Modus/Modi Vivendi – “An important concept, for, on Zennia, all things conform to a way of living. There is no such thing as not being represented or guided.”


Magic – “That all-encompassing word which is thoroughly unscientific, it refers to any sort of fantastical ability to reshape the world as you please. What are the consequences?”


Gran Castillo – “The mansion of the Alchemaster, a site of supreme evil and malevolence, and the physical location of this story. A demonic mansion, found far beyond the clouds of Xin.”


Golden Luster – “The Modus of the Alchemaster. Its defining characteristics? Knowledge of greed, acceptance of greed, and pursuit of greed.”


Blue Abyss – “The Modus of the Mother of Monsters, ruler of the Wondrous Works and the Expanse. All life is heading for a single purpose: why not be the one that births it?”


Pure Devotion – “The Modus of humans, miserable wretches who cling to the idea of subservience for those less fortunate, and supreme control for those in charge.”


Battle Pressure – “The Modus of those taken with the thrill of combat, this would essentially be Serras’ way of life, writ large. To the winner, glory; to the loser, a lesson on losing.”


Devotion – “The currency of Pure Devotion and of faithful humans.”


Vigor – “That which is within which flows without, and keeps one from being a fine paste on the floor. Evaporates as expended, to ensure a wound does not kill.”


Recompense – “That which is owed upon losing, and that which must be repaid.”


Odds – “A simple, yet infinitely complex, concept related to combat. Those odds of winning, and what is wagered, which is decided by who, exactly? Defines the outcome of battle when winners and losers are chosen.”




Chapter 7         Table of Contents          Chapter 9