Take Up the Cross – Chapter 94: Second Raid…! With a Strange Feeling?

“As I spoke of before, Lord Zsinj’s compassion, like nearly all other mercies of the divines, banishes malice. Reversing malady is not the same as ‘healing’.”

Tutting at him, Roberto Salmeron continues moving his glowing hands along Adris’ body, targeting the spots that itch the most.

“Yes, it was my ignorance that led me to using the alchemical regenerators instead of seeing you first.”

Unable to actually feel the man’s touch, Adris concentrates on maintaining his block of his senses, lest the intolerable itching start to drive him to scratching again. Already, welts that nearly drew blood are fading with the pale yellow radiating from Roberto’s palms.

What could have grown to become lengthy blemishes revert to his normal, tanned skin as he feels his Inner Expanse willingly submit to the fluctuations imposed on it.


(What sort of miracles do you offer that can’t undo something you “accept”!? The moment I try to heal it on my own, it becomes irreversible by the divine!?)


Though his body still aches, Still’s “gift” disappears with the repeated administration of Roberto’s unusual technique.


“The difficulty with banishing the malice of this poison is related, of course, to the deservedness of the punishment… but, I freely admit that I’ve never met another who so eagerly resisted their body being laid upon by the wings of Lord Zsinj? Are you naturally unconducive to miracles?”

There’s some incredulity and suspicion laced in the man’s quiet tone, hedging out the anger still showing through from earlier.


For Meltisha not only tempted Adris with her prominently displayed body, but Adris also showed his own fascination in return.


(And what about Still? I find I like you being around her less tolerable…)


“Given my origin and purpose, it’s permitted to phrase it that way.”

Without identifying why, Adris’ response just produces a coughing.

“If that’s the case, then you’d best cease your provocations toward Miss Still. Such lying to gain affectionate care is ill-advised, for she’s more than capable of punishing your manipulative nature!” As the man handles him without aggression, his voice takes up the slack as he continues with his sanctimony. “Compassion for others begins in your own heart! If you can’t be liked, then at least avoid being disliked! Though not humble to say, even a recluse such as I am is treated better by the young lady than you find yourself being…”




At this unfinished statement, both flinch with the look that comes from a skittering presence in the common room of Welcome Web.


Six eyes full of hazardous blue drill into Roberto’s smiling face, before he meekly lowers it to continue his work in silence.

“What a wonderful affection you have toward my friend, Robbie.”

Only after this emotionless approval does Meltisha turn and stalk away, leaving Roberto muttering prayers to himself.


“I see. I should strive to be as loved as you are by your sister—?”

Please be aware of how misunderstandings may come with your phrasing, young one.”


Adris cries out as Roberto drives into a pressure point, before the two exit Meltisha’s proximity and both sigh in unison.


“… Why is Drache so concerned about you siblings?”

“Oh? Meister Drache worries about us, does he? How kind…”

Humor comes back to Roberto’s voice about this man, leaving him whimsical if also a little mysterious. “Ah, it suffices to say that we have a mutual acquaintance from the past and that the slayers’ master appreciates the legacy that Welcome Web strives to uphold. This inn is a place that is in line with Lord Zsinj’s teachings and my own… heart’s desires.”


With the kindness returning, the process of healing continues much more quickly, with the red welts on Adris’ skin vanishing as if they’d never happened.


Forced to sit by themselves while Meltisha and…


{My, don’t you look better! I thought you might be coming down with some mental affliction earlier, but it seems my medicine cleaned you right up~!}

Carrying food, medicines, and other sundries to place upon a table, the blue angel who often acts like a demon is in her full combat gear, free of grime and festively colored. Though her white mask has a pleasant smile showing, the intensity of her hidden stare has yet to slack off.


(Please stop…)


“I am—”




Still skips away when the pissed boy tries to return her jab, leaving him quietened by the dislike shown.


“… In line with your desires your inn is, but often it seems like a haunted place…?”

“Ahhh, well…”


With both men wilting internally under the gazes of equally pissed witches, Roberto finally gets into his conversation with the only person who will talk to him.


“Meltisha is… a much better person… now than before, if you will believe that…”


(I’d hate to have known her before, then, because she strikes me as a vengeful spirit with a hatred of all life!)


With this sort of relationship on display, one where they mutually harm each other while also clinging together, Adris’ own desire to amend his ties with Still and the others now seems almost prescient as he avoids dismissing Roberto’s claims.


“So that no brother… or sister, shall go without a keeper, [The All Welcoming] begs our compassion for them.”

“Even for a woman who intentionally flirts with others to cause mischief and stabs at you with emotional blades…?”

Adris is finally able to stand again after Roberto’s hand finishes at Adris’ stomach. The soothing waves of pseudo-aura flowing through him alleviate the worst of the bloating and cramping feeling, returning the calmness he’s used to as he removes the block on his sense of touch.

“‘Compassion, by any means necessary!’ is our rallying call to aid others, young one. It sounds strange, but please consider it.”


Hesitating for a moment, Adris then fishes out one of the last Devotion marks he had hidden, offering it to the man clothed in royal spider-silk.

When Roberto merely closes his eyes and smiles kindly, Adris withdraws it without further persistence.


“Worry not about compensation for removing malice such as this, just don’t bring it upon yourself again. You would be best served by accruing the coinage called ‘thanks’ instead of worrying about material compensations…”


(Says the man who was a stickler for debts being repaid? It seems like everyone is a hypocrite about what they are personally owed.)


One point sticks with Adris, though, prompting him to ask a question.

“‘By any means’…?”


A philosophical query becomes an invitation for the man to clutch his prayer beads.

Light glints off the man’s eyes, letting his heartbeat drive his loud oration as he drinks in the comfortable closeness of his god’s presence.

“Lord Zsinj is specific when speaking of those not right with the world:

‘Bring them under your wing, and when they refuse to come, carry them off and let the fear of falling clutch them to your talons; turn them from the path that leads to damnation, even if their legs you must ruin to forestall walking that road forever; for it is better to cripple an evil heart than to allow it to continue to beat for evil’s sake, because if made to stay by your side it will eventually succumb to the goodness that seeks to mend it!’”

The gravitas filling this usually effeminate man’s voice leaves him less boyish, more like a temple leader filled with ancient wisdom and an eternal fire that flares from his spiritual core…


“… And thus, no matter how difficult, I… walk the same path as the one I love.” Roberto then sounds like a lost child after, with his eyes growing sad and his fake smile cringe-inducing to view.





(Oh, his god is insane, too. Good luck.)


“How strange, to mix religion and the heart’s desires.”

The passing comment brings a look of confusion from Roberto, his mouth left open as he chews on it.

Only after does he wave his hand quickly, a bright face shown to Adris that now has tears in his eyes.

“Love!? That woman!? Hahaha!” Roberto claps his thick chest, guffawing at the notion. “No, no, no. Please don’t confuse reality and fantasy, my young customer!”

“… I don’t follow your…”


Looking to see if Meltisha is about to pop out and assault the priest, Adris backs away while Roberto only shakes his head after throwing up his hands.


“A mission has nothing to do with love. My piety toward my sister is firm, but my true love is for my lord. After all, neither she nor I are faithful to the other…”

“So you… merely answer each other’s physical needs…?”

A look full of pity is shown to Adris, as if the boy is the one who is acting unusual instead of Roberto.

“For one who has laid his hands on his teammates, you are strangely pure. Were it not for my mission, I would definitely not indulge in such erotic activities anyway…”


Despite the statement…




Adris’ quick eyes mark out a shifting of the man’s own, while his right arm also brings a hand to brush his waist. The priest’s eyes follow a moving woman dressed in blue, her back turned to Roberto as she leans over.

Nervous actions, tells, filter through Adris’ thoughts on the likelihood of truthfulness.


(So, you have a debauched past, too. And Still is attractive. While this also means Meltisha is free? Hmm… Oh well, at least with someone who clings to benevolence…)


The strongman innkeeper’s good nature, no matter how flaming his jealousy is over someone he doesn’t romantically love, is quite easy for Adris to take advantage of.

Promising to protect all of his clients, Roberto’s inn makes for an excellent hideaway while Adris…


(Intentionally altering Petripolis’ entire societal framework isn’t too grand an ambition, is it?)




“I give you the inestimable value of my thanks for the healing. The items you both provided to me have been offered to my friend for inspection.”

“Oh? And the initial reception?”


(She almost sucked me off inside her store…)


Renée’s enthusiasm at such clerical and harmful goods being represented as “available in large numbers per agreement” had almost brought Adris to climax when the ashen-clothed mistress of magic had sought to discuss “finder payment” with her hands at his waist.

Before he ducked out with assurances of interest later.


No? I see… you’re the kind of man who wants the fullest experience? You’re still preparing my gift, as well… The most wondrous closing is what you seek…?

Ah, finally a romantic soul is interested in me?


(Understand it however you want to, I just don’t have interest in entangling myself until the deal is done.)




Like with others, this slayer named Renée’ sought to earn his attachment by carnal allowances, eagerly seeking tie their knot.


“Oh!? How wonderful. As per our agreement, I look forward to introductions to the followers of other gods that stand among the numbers of the slayers!”

Shaking hands once more, the two men grow more amicable with a deal being nearly at fulfillment.

“Meltisha also has an unusual interest in them after chatting with Miss Lycia? I know my sister’s wares can never be used for much good, but hold to your promise that mine will be used responsibly! I wish for the slayers and the people of Petripolis to grow closer, not further apart…”


(Even the slayers deserve your compassion?)


“You allow even Still to visit, earning my praise, for others shun the undead…”

“Hm? The undead? Are they not the greatest test of our compassion!?” Roberto benevolently raises his hands to the sky, though within the inn only the darkness above where the siblings live is to be found. “Zsinj demands compassion for all, and those who cannot change due to their pasts binding them need our help the most. No, Miss Still, like Miss Lycia, is simply another lost soul who might be helped given time! Neither Zsinj nor his humble servant shall run her off!”


(At least I can’t fault their principles and consistency.)


Though the poison is neutralized and his body is now able to move, painful is still the word that describes his life. As spoken, whatever punishment he deserved produces lingering itching across multiple places on Adris’ body.


(I should avoid taking any wounds that I deserve to receive. I suppose this is how gods prevent the undeserving from receiving their miracles…?)






While Adris ponders his undeserving nature, one team member who should contribute more arrives almost in time to fail to contribute anything.

Rushing up to her leader, the beautiful girl with an ever energetic tail leaves it swishing wildly as she reaches into her waist pack.


“Umu, Kol, Boss, listen. Bumbling Bee, Kol and Elf were at, good food! Very delicious!”


(How nice for you. Getting paradise while I went through hell.)


Looking at the tables full of their delving possessions, stacked in categories by Still as nobody else arrived to help, Adris feels annoyed as his hand comes up.


“No, not important, Boss, important is—!”

“Why are you just now getting back? Were you not told how important it would be to aid in packing?”


Kol is cut off as Adris pats her on the head, earning a grunt before she follows his guidance to the tables. With much of it being her own gear, Kol is forced to grimace at the situation.


“Luckily, Still left the heaviest portables upstairs for you to bring down, so get to it.”

“Ah! Boss!”


While told to grab that, Kol instead impatiently wraps around Adris, crushing him as he rails against contact.

The ruined coat and ring armor she’s allowed to use in town is bad enough to have rake against him, but when her white fur tickles his skin, the itching horror afflicting him kicks into full rage once more.


“Kol will grab, but Boss! Important thing, needs to be said with importance! Kol, has to report—!”


(Even if I love hearing your voice, with all of that bravado and confidence, nothing you have to say is ever important!)


Since announcing her desire to learn to communicate better, Kol has only become stranger. The way she comports herself and tries to speak is full of pomp and importance, even if she acts subordinate to Neesiette and himself.


“Leave off of your needs! Attend to the party’s first, before worrying about yourself, Kol.”



(Leave me alone! Being next to you is causing my itching to get worse!)


Stealing from his impromptu ethical teacher, Adris speaks lower as he pushes her off of him, giving a lesson instead.


“Think about compassion shown to others before worrying about your own needs. This, too, is a way that knights prove their valor.”


(Or so I’ve heard from Ave’s elfen ramblings about briar and elm knights!)


Though it’s said in his usually authoritative manner, the kobold continues to yank on his jacket.


“No, Kol is thinking about others! Boss, listen to—!”

“Where is Ave?”


Another interruption stops Kol, who looks behind herself with consternation, before turning back and huffing.


“Ah, that, too. Elf, stayed at Bumbling Bee. Kol, told Elf, Boss said—!”

“Then why didn’t you just drag her with you?”


Even though she would have free reign to do so, the one time that Kol is given the chance to abuse the usually meek elf…


“Hm? Boss, told Kol, in Castillo, not to grab up Elf until she can’t breathe?”

“You don’t have to strangle her to bring her back!” Nearly losing his cool as he continues to scratch his arm, Adris’ growing headache escalates as he tries to coolly talk down his play knight. “Nevermind, whatever topic on your mind can wait, so show patience and remain quiet, my Right Hand.”


(I’ll lose my mind if this sort of scene starts up!)


“Go upstairs and grab your gear, then do whatever Still tells you.”



Growling at the order, Kol’s fur hackles as Adris quickly amends it while patting her shoulder.


(Always literal…)


“Do whatever she tells you regarding bringing stuff down here, as long as it won’t hurt you. We have to leave, for we’re already days behind schedule with our newest raid of the Castillo.”

“Huh? Kol has…”

As if unable to decide, she keeps looking from Adris to her waist.

“But… no, Boss, says to, so Kol will?”

Her hand leaves her pack as she nods, before she smiles and cackles loudly enough to unsettle even the Meltisha who rounds the corner, causing the spider proprietress to drop vials while hissing.

“Kakaka! Leave to Kol! Done in ‘short’, time for snack!”


After having likely innumerable confectioneries, the often brutish girl seems more childlike, scampering away while leaving Adris moving toward the entrance.

As he passes by Meltisha, the woman glances up at him while brushing away her blond hair. Still picking up vials, her bosom hangs with gravity while ever-so-gently bouncing as she moves.


(Are you playing with me?)


Despite that question on his mind, he looks away too abruptly.

A tittering comes from the arachne, before she sashays off, satisfied with her win.


(Shit! She is interested! It’s hard to forget how beautiful she is beneath the clothing.)


Even with difficulty, he manages to drive the image from his mind.

Looking beyond the silk curtain, Adris clicks his tongue when the destroyed avenue is still devoid of life.


(Ave is understandably absent. I’m sure she’s blissfully unaware of our needs while talking with that older lady Getha who has become her minder. But…)




The other missing presence in the inn is the one least likely to be irresponsibly absent.

Without her swishing, steel-blue dress to brighten up the often dark rooms, Adris has a growing feeling of discomfort about how the day is progressing as noon comes.





“Ave made a friend!”




The first words of the next deserter, one who slithers in hours later in a dreamlike state, fill Adris with a burning rage.


{How nice for you! You found a friend! Have you considered that you’ve lost three others by forcing them to haul all of your possessions downstairs for you?}

“… Ah… ahhhh?”

Though he need not do anything, because Still twists the knife for him. Ave’s face pales, taking on a sickly pallor as she examines the room full of equipment waiting to be loaded into something she carries by her shoulder.


“Hmmm!? Oh… Ave was… carrying the holding bag… wasn’t she?”

{Yes, that makes it quite difficult to load up when it’s missing.}

“H-Here it is…”


Though still unwilling to part with the leafy, whitish-blue bag even if it’s to hand it to Still, she finally relents when Still points to Adris.

{Shouldn’t you be telling him all about your new friend? He might get jealous, otherwise.}

“AH! You’re right, Still! Thanks!”

The exuberant girl bows her head to Still before handing away the bag with both hands, leaving the smiling trickster to walk around and start scooping things into it.


“Adris, listen to my story!”


(Fuck you, Still!)







While eating their afternoon repast and waiting for Neesiette to show up, Adris is forced to hear about this random stranger who arrived in the Petripolis confectioner store at the center of the market area, all so he could become Ave’s first friend since meeting Adris.

“He’s an astonishing gentleman, just like you, Adris! Such a dedicated listener, I hardly had to worry about him missing a detail as he clung to my words, it made me feel so amazing!”

The crumbs on her cheeks become Adris’ duty to clean off as she gushes on about her day spent not helping them.

“And Getha had nothing bad to say about him?”

“Hmm? No, why would she?”


(Then he couldn’t have been too dangerous…)


“Chatting about stellar alignments and mysteries of the skies, he kept handing me things to look at! These very interesting carved crystals, shaped like constellations, were… a bit weird when they shocked me, but they were certainly fascinating…!”


(Where is Neesiette?)


Even considering her work this morning for Anaxis, the doll should be back now, escorted by Cherie or her cadre of rat sneaks.

Never this late before, Adris’ tapping foot shows how unsettled he is by her absence, shocking himself with his nervousness.


(What is… this feeling?)


“… and he wears a very interesting black suit, it sort of reminded me of the fashion of Kievera to the far east? But I’m not sure where he found his multi-faceted glasses from…?”

Handing Ave another snack, Adris earns a short reprieve while his stomach continues to turn.

The feeling is familiar, though rare.




(This feels like a setup brewing… or something is about to go completely wrong?)




A plotter and planner like himself develops a sixth sense about details, and the inconsistencies so far, no matter how in line with his party’s sensibilities, do more than just annoy him like Still betrays from her sidelong look of disgust.

They cause him to feel like the world is slipping out of its regular tempo.


“… and then he asked if anything had changed in Petripolis since he’d been here last time, so I told him about some of the things going on while he gave me another crystal…!”

“Good, tell me more on the way, Ave.”

“… and for some reason, he seemed really frustrated—?

Huh!? Way to where, Adris?”


Taking the maiden’s hand, he leads a flustered Ave toward the entrance while flagging Still and Kol with his other hand.


“Meltisha and Roberto! We’ll return in a ‘short’ to leave, so please see us off them.”

“So long as you leave your deposit in safety…”


(I’ll produce a profit for you, just give me time! You invest in someone, and suddenly they feel like they own you…)


Meltisha’s inoffensiveness does nothing to alleviate her extreme conditions, for leaving on a dive requires Adris to provide collateral for the possibility of not returning and their mercantile deal falling through.

“Try to return in one piece, Adris, though I wouldn’t mind putting you back together again~?”

“The way you say things invites many misunderstanding, Miss Meltisha, so please look forward to our victory.”


The one closest to his mental framework catches onto his hurry while tip-toeing after him, her own demeanor growing alarmed. Despite the taunting flirtation, Still doesn’t grow angry.

{… What’s wrong?}

A mute kobold dons her helmet after, Kol’s eyes blazing with anticipation at the room’s atmosphere growing more fearful with Still’s question.


“It’s a feeling I’ve not felt for a while…

Something is wrong, but what eludes my grasp.”





Yet, if something is wrong, there is nothing to be found malicious or out of place with Adris’ most important investment.

Aisles of busy ratfolk now fluidly carry out the work of sorting and packing materials, with strange artifacts now only filling a smaller portion of the once overflowing safe room.


“It’s kind of weird how he wasn’t interested in any of the honey, and he almost seemed like he didn’t like Getha and the restaurant? But he politely ate with me after I ordered some for us both, Adris!”

“I’m very pleased to hear that, Ave. Give me a moment.”


Fighting off the enthusiastic conversation of the girl who still won’t shut up about her day, Adris tries to learn the fate of his other friend.

“You’ve made quite a lot of progress in clearing your inventory out.”

“The only hold up was ever in figuring out what they do! With the aid of that fine, young boon of the heavens, everything now has a buyer!”

No longer as emaciated-looking, the merchant who casually wears a huge, broad-rimmed mystic’s hat and a robe of cursing eyes shares a smile that Adris never thought him capable of making.

Sheer joy flows through old veins, youthening a man once gray with his lean years. Even fat seems to be added back to his hands, making him look human instead of skeletal.

“My inflow of uncursed gold will soon increase as well, thanks to your suggestion of joining hands with Master Navar’s guards. Though immune to ‘suggestions’ before now, when I mused on how donations to this ‘Fimbo’s’ elvish embassy might increase with the rising fortunes of Petripolis’ growing merchant class…?”

An undisguised smile of arrogance is what Anaxis turns toward Adris while he steeples his hands, showing that the old man is well aware of the rules of mercantilism and bribery.

“I’m sure he was thrilled. I have much more important business, though, Anaxis. Where is Cherie?”

“Hmm? She’s coming in now…”


Into the saferoom stalks the dark-gray-wearing street runner, her face settled and composed.

Right up until the point that she takes in the new guests.


{Hiiii~! We need to talk.}

“The fuck we do!? Leave me alone!”


Still uncurls from the shadow of a nearby, shivering rat worker, leaning forward as the ghastly blue angel approaches her now quivering prey.


“Still! Don’t.”


When Adris gets the full blast of her displeasure for interrupting, he quickly grins and offers a nod.

“Don’t scare her too much.”

“… I ain’t scared of this big butt woman!”

Such bravery is easy to discover while using her employer as a human shield, with Anaxis left snarling as he watches the scene unravel before him.


“What is the issue, Miss Still? Has my associate done something to offend you?”

{Where is Neesiette~?}


Cheery hands ask the question, while Anaxis falls back at her slow and methodical advance. Caught soon in her shadow, the fraud and his pet gape in shock before looking to another for help, prompting Adris to speak.


“Neesiette never returned to our fortress.”

“What!? That’s hardly our fault after delivery!”

The old man quickly ducks blame, before shaking his head when Still’s hidden stare only grows hotter.

“No, really it ain’t!” When Cherie jumps forward while sweating, Still finally settles down enough for her to continue. “Normally we take her home, yes, but today she said she had different plans! When we asked if we should run a message over to you, she declined! Are we supposed to babysit her if she don’t want us to!?”


(She took off on her own? For what?)


{Where to?}

“Hell if I know!? Tacit followed her for a few blocks anyway, on account of him bein’ scared shitless of yah, but she up and vanished on her way toward the base of the cliff rise!”

{What street?}


(The cliff rise…? What business does she have in the far side of Petripolis?)


“Hm? Why is everyone talking about Miss Smug?”

Curious about the blowup, Ave timidly slithers up toward Still, who forcibly calms while within her volatile presence.

“Neesiette didn’t return from her work, Ave. It’s why we’re here.”

“Huh!? Well… that explains why I was having a nicer day…”

When Still’s mask stays neutral to Ave’s quip, the grinning elf becomes aware of her rudeness and shifts away to pick up one of Anaxis’ baubles.

“No, I mean… I wonder where she is~?”


(Okay, we can fix this…)


“… We should go check out the area? Let’s get Cherie to expand the search.”

Adris offers this as a solution, leading to Still signing fast before dragging on the mouse tramp.

{Decent idea. Better she do something useful than bleed out on the floor…}

“I ain’t gonna be the one bleeding out!”


(If we can ask around before it gets dark, then we’ll have a better chance of—)


“It’s kind of weird, though! Everyone seems interested in Neesiette today? I wonder why?”

Ave’s muttering is picked up by two people, leading to…


(— finding her within a reasonable…

Wait, who is interested in Neesiette?)




“Hmm!? Yes!? My name is Ave!?”


When Still and Adris both gently corner her, Ave drops her stolen bauble right into Anaxis’ darting hands, before fretting with closed ones of her own while cowering at the sudden attention.

{Ave, be strong for me and stay calm.}

“Ok!? Then… what do you want?”

{Tell us who was interested in Neesiette.}

“Oh? Well, he didn’t start out interested, but… my new friend that I had after-brunch with was really passionate about hearing that midget’s particulars in passing?”


(… Oh no.)


“I wonder what sort of things he could be interested in about a girl he’s never met, Ave?”

“Hm? Well, he was so fascinated by me and my life, that I just figured he wanted to hear about people!” Nodding her head while grinning, Ave relaxes and continues with her grand story, orating it while waving her delicate hands along with the words. “The shorty is always boasting about herself to everyone she meets, so it seemed like a good way of satisfying my new friend? I heard more about him, too! Apparently he has some sort of collection, and Neesiette is really amazing? He was also impressed with Ave, too, but after the last crystal sculpture he had me hold broke into little pieces for some reason when I touched it, he seemed like he was sweating a lot—?



Still leaps on the chatty elf, shaking her by her shoulders, causing Ave’s ponytail to whip around as she shrieks.

{Ave, how much did you tell him about Neesiette!?}

“EH!? How much!? I… just kept talking about her!? I don’t know how much or what… I just talked about things we did and what the midget keeps saying all the time!?”

{What did he look like!?}

“A strange suit, multiple-lens glasses, slick-backed hair, and he had a different accent!? I’m sorry! What did I do wrooong!?”


(… This sounds familiar. Somebody else found the same sieve.)


Losing energy as Ave keeps giving up more about the man, Still then turns to Adris, her mask bearing a grimace as she desperately signs.


{Help me. Help me find her. If it’s the guy I think it is, then… I have no idea what might happen?}

“Who is this guy?”

{… That, I don’t know, but there’s someone Neesiette met that she supposedly did business with.}


(She does actual work?)


{Tall, aristocratic, dark colors, and screams of mysticism. Wears a…} Pointing to her hand, she then points to Adris’ fog tool. The round chambers are what draw attention, before she points to her hand. {… strange gauntlet that reminds me of her designs, but not made of crystal. Liquid gray flows around and through it. I drove him away and thought that was the last of it, because she said it would be…}

“Not blue?”

A quick headshake eases Adris’ mind, for it eliminates one possible faction from his mind.


(If it’s not crystals or blue, then it can’t be the Wondrous Works.)


“Ave, we’re going back to Welcome Web. Tell us everything this man did and said that you remember.”

“Okay!? Did… I do something wrong?”


(Of course, but you wouldn’t know you did.)




Taking advantage of her desire to please others, this man did exactly the right thing to gain information.

So perfectly done that Adris feels quite annoyed at being copied.


“Ah! Wait! I have a small issue, myself!”


Before Adris can run out to begin their search, Anaxis pulls him to the side with Cherie in tow.

Unlike before, a cloud of uncertainty hangs around the two, with Anaxis a bit cowed by recent events and what’s on his mind.


“Hurry with it. I have little time, thanks to your ‘accommodation’ of my mystic.”

“That was Cherie’s bothersome decision! Though, I suppose I bear responsibility as her overseer… Ugh!?”

The man hops briefly when a slender, furred foot stomps on his own.

“She’s the bloody queen I’m told to escort! If she says to walk, I walk! You two told me not to question your decisions!”

An irate assistant stands up to Adris, no matter how short she is even in comparison to his own boyish body. With Still already out of sight, this rough spy finds her pride again.


(… Looking at it objectively…)


Even if he’s emotionally unbalanced at the moment, Adris maintains his illusionary bravado.


The hand that stretches toward Cherie, strong and seamless in its movement, sends the ratkin chittering in fright as it comes to the top of her head.


Before patting it once, then withdrawing.




“All fault lies with Neesiette for telling your detail to leave. It was wise to trail her with this ‘Tacit’ you sent, so you have my appreciation.”

“… Uh? Yeah…? Well, that’s…”

Blinking in surprise, Cherie’s tail twitches twice, before she turns her head.

Thin cheeks are dyed red, though she hisses at the last moment before muttering.

“… what is it with men treatin’ me like a kid!?


(Take that up with your boss!)


Ahem, in brief…” Anaxis gains their attention after coughing, bringing up his situation. “While my business has been quite prodigious as of late, my supply of Devotion marks remains an eternal drought. A worry arises with a current, potential fix that has ‘dropped’ into my lap…”


(… Something is wrong. You have changing fortunes, too?)



“… Our mutual friend Navar was contacted by an outside party, of which has been shared no information. No history of them, either. A foreign player, newly arrived.”

The idea of a foreign player makes Adris think of any of the organizations mentioned by Black Birch, but…


(The timing is impossible. Too soon.)


“Sounds suspect?”

“But with much potential. Navar tested the abilities of this new player who claimed the ability to slip any item past the Granescian and Castilian cordon around Petripolis. An elvish relic of very little importance, yet still illicit to own within Castile, the price for delivery was agreeable…”


(Oh? This is…)


“The result?”

With no-nonsense allowed, Adris’ quick uptake earns a nod from Anaxis, prompting the older man to hurry the details.


“Zero difficulties. Arrived on time. The next test was of art dug up from the crèche below Petripolis. Sizable quantity of pieces. Also… zero difficulties, no matter the size of each.”

“That’s… unusual. How can they achieve such results as new arrivals?”

“Navar felt the same way, so he requested something for me by proxy. Rather than sending something out, he requested instead: three-hundred Devotion tablets, no questions asked. To be used as ‘bribes’ when carried by his guards.”

Despite Anaxis’ smile, there’s a sheen of sweat on the old man’s face.


“… And he got them, didn’t he?”

Good news such as this carries risks that both can intuit, for it seems Anaxis has reached the same opinion…




“It’s too good to be true. Refuse to meet with them.”

“… Right, for some reason… I thought much the same about this.”


(There’s no doubt about it. Someone is moving in on Petripolis. They’re already seeking out Anaxis’ operation…)


“More than avoiding them, send Cherie out to find as much as she can about them.”

“… Already done, ya know? I’m efficient, ya know?”

The mouse sneak brags about her work ethic, before letting her eyes wander.

“There’s nothing to find out about them. All my boys get the chills hangin’ around their people. None will go closer, and I’ll admit even I get the willies with ‘em. Every last one of the prospects we’ve tagged for pickup seems to be just some lackey without deeper contacts or business in Petripolis, so it’s hard to choose.”

Nothing useful has been gleaned, leaving Adris’ stomach churning even harder.

“We could dig deeper…?”

“Avoid them completely. Don’t go near them. Vanish, and stay that way until I return from the Castillo.”

“… Ayo, you got it?”


(I don’t have time for this… no matter how strange it sounds.)


“Anaxis, continue your normal operations, but increase your watch and counter-surveillance. I don’t want anyone discovering you and, by extension, me.”

“Aye, we’ll hold silent for now. Potentially return to collecting more relics? The slayers are also interested in talking with Navar, so maybe I’ll get one of those dolts to prepare a ruckus in case this new group turns up as vinegar poured into my sweet wine!”


Sharing a brief handshake, the fake mystic and rat woman move off while bickering once more, leaving Adris to rejoin his party.


The sky outside is still overcast as normal, but the temperature is off for the afternoon. It’s more chill than previous days, leaving him eager for safety he can’t find.




(Something is very, very wrong.)





“And… so… Ave told him… quite a lot…”

{Yes, you were very thorough. Neesiette might be happy to realize how much you know about her?}

A destitute snake elf clutches her head in pain, gyrating around on the floor like she’s on fire.

“No!? Don’t tell her! Please don’t tell her about thiiiiiiis!?!?”




Tears continue to fall after Ave’s story finishes, for the three teammates arrayed around her, all with annoyed or pitying faces, cause the girl’s fragile mentality to buckle even further.

A girl who has never had sufficient friendship gifted to her fell victim to a seasoned con-man, one who plied her with…


(Okay, I feel a little bad now, as that sounds like me.)




“It will be fine, Ave.”



A kind hand is offered finally, inviting the crumbling girl to lift herself off of the floor.

Becoming like a prince descended from the night sky, Adris smiles while curling that rescuing hand invitingly.


Ave’s eyes, red and puffy, brighten as she takes his hand.


As if ascending to the sky on wings of forgiveness, she becomes sunshine once more…




“You’ll be allowed to apologize to her. If Neesiette forgives you, we will too and won’t punish you.”

“… Ugh…!”

The shivering elf goes silent, smiling by force of habit as her tears silently start back.


“The better question is… how to find this man?”

{… Toward the rise is the only information we have. Somehow, Neesiette was in communication with him and sharing work.}

“Who could provide that service in Petripolis?”


Without knowing where to start, any sort of inspection of the town’s messaging apparatuses could take days. Adding in hidden and mystical means, and…




“Oh? That ancient automaton’s messenger… would it not be me?”


Ticking across the floor, the arachnid mistress of the inn is genuinely curious in tone, her voice light and playful as she asks this question.

{Meltisha!? Are you letting her use your [sending] crystal!?}

“And why wouldn’t I? She pays promptly for all my services, unlike some others here…”


(Oh!? Then we know where…!)


{Does she talk to a guy that looks like—!?}

“As if I’d know what her recipient looks like? I don’t take part in the activation, as she’s more than capable of running it herself.”


Clearly losing her composure, Still raises shaking, upturned hands toward her associate, earning a thoughtful look of shock in return.

Understanding that something serious is ongoing, Meltisha pats Still’s shoulder lovingly while finding an answer that helps.

“I’ve no way of knowing except by possibly regularity, but the gentleman you may be searching for is known as ‘Falke Kestner’ by his sending rune, though I suspect the two of you might find his title more prurient and expeditious for your little impending invasion of the Castillo~?”

“… Why does he relate to our plans, Meltisha?”




Moving to a pillar, the innkeeper runs her hand over the structural support, one of many keeping her beehive home from falling inward.

Baring her teeth in a humored manner, she lovingly strokes it while answering the now-unsettled Adris.




“Retrieving your fair automaton and invading the home of your enemy might be the same goal, in this case? For this Kestner’s title is ‘von Säulen’, marking him as a member of the [Pillars of Zenith], one of the two worst organizations to call the Castillo their home.”

{She’s been… abducted?}


(Is it an abduction? Was she compelled? Or did he make false promises?)


Without information, Adris is reticent to commit to a course of action.

Though inwardly unsettled, his hand to his chin and a look of deep thought hide it.


(We shouldn’t act too rashly. We should… investigate, first.)


Still wobbles for a moment, before slamming into Adris with little impact.

Rapid hands find a home after finishing her fast thought, because he grabs hers to calm the both of them.


{Let’s go, now!}


Her despair and worry are impossible to calm, though.

The one person she holds dear to, Neesiette, now rests in the hands of an enemy.


(Oh, it seems the decision is made for me!? Then… remember my own…!)




“No later than that is permitted, partner.”

Adris yanks Still along with him, aiming for the entrance way.


(Everything always goes wrong all at once! This is why I don’t plan for success, but against failing!)


They race out the door hand-in-hand, followed shortly after by the tag-alongs.









“… Ave swears… she didn’t… want anything like this…!”


At the end of the rise leading to the Castillo, having crossed beneath the ruined, gargantuan sentries carved into the cliff side and ignored the shining-golden front gates to take another path, four intrepid delvers face a villa just outside of the mansion’s grounds.


Built adjacent to a section of the wandering gardens which cover the majority of the mansion’s grounds, the strange building is a quarter of the size of the main residence, being only one-story high and rectangular in shape. The garden takes on different colors when coming to encircle this villa’s territory, though.


(Appearances are deceiving. The Castillo isn’t nearly as big on the outside as it is inside…)


The path leading up to it is a maze of trees carved with human faces into them, deceptively lifelike as they display their frozen gasps of arrogance, annoyance, or horror.

Stepping into the main grounds is hardly better, for all of the life to be found is, instead…






Picking off a “leaf”, the purplish blossoming flowers nearest to Adris are revealed to be fake. Made of some lightweight ceramic, the intricate details leave them real enough at a distance.

Despite the fakeness, there’s a very discernible smell of some earthen powder that replaces the regular, enticing scents of the Castillo’s grounds. It wrinkles Adris’ nose as he considers the tactical options.



{Another freakshow lives in this place. Look at the walls.}

Still brings Adris’ attention with a pull on his tunic, pointing out the villa’s almost incomplete status.


Ornamentation and reliefs depict the villa being constructed, with stylized figures carrying out work to make the external details final. Masonry and windows seem to be half-formed, but beyond them and inside Adris can make out unlit, furnished rooms.

As Adris watches, the scenes actively change, with the grayish exterior almost…


“It’s flowing? Is the outside a liquid?”

{It’s an alchemical wonder: [pseudoprósōpon] (FALSE FACE). Quite easy to make, it can take on many shapes as well, but it’s impossible to use it like this unless one is… well, more skilled than…}

“Than you?”


A question that would normally provoke a solid strike to his kidney instead earns a curt nod, for Still has no time for levity or anger.


“Can we just… climb over it to reach the interior courtyard? Meltisha said that the villa was constructed—?”

“Ummm, that’s probably not a good idea.”


Both turn to look at Ave, who shrinks back while acting guilty.


“Ave, come and share your thoughts.”


(You’re the closest thing we have to an expert right now!)


Motioning her forward, the elf that’s being guarded by Kol slithers over meekly, before pointing out numerous mystical designs carved into the corners of the villa.

“Those are… dimensional glyphs, maybe? Like the Castillo itself, this place is probably a separate world of some kind? Elves use something like them to make illusory mazes in old growth forests and to hide temples dedicated to our wind spirits. These read… ‘if one seeks the origin of life in its simplicity, then build your search around the heartwood’.

But… um…?”

{Very good, Ave! You’re a smart girl!}

Patting her cheek, Still shivers while earning some confidence in the elf’s eyes, a fire rekindling as Ave is goaded forward.

“Ahem… ummm… Ave… no, I think that we should seek the central courtyard of the villa? If it’s built like the Tiberian style, then there will be a foundation tree there that is the heart of the mystical field governing the villa.”

“And there we’ll be able to destroy or manipulate it?”

{More than likely. I’ll think of something.}


(That’s… a better plan than we’re used to having.)


Looking over the top of the building, there is a faint light which radiates from some area within. Constructed with the same general guiding principle as the Castillo itself, there’s still a strangely foreign style to the figures and angles.

More straight-lined than adhering to anatomical realism and with corners more utilitarian than fluted, Adris is almost reminded of the furniture contained within Drache’s study.


A sort of power is to be found in the precision inherent in the design of this ever-changing villa, as if it obeys marching orders which don’t waver.




“Okay. If it’s like the Castillo, then we have few entrances to choose from.



Calling back to his unusually silent frontliner, she answers by clomping forward.


Clad in black-and-red hellish steel, the Kol he can call beautiful now hides that womanliness beneath a white-wolf’s angry visage.

With the face-plate down, only her pink eyes shine through.

A hunger is set within them that her flicking tail proves is ready to release.


“… You are unusually taciturn, Kol.”

“Hmm? Boss, told Kol, be quiet.”


(That was hours ago! … Well, you’re a girl with an honorable streak, so I love that!)


“Into danger is no time to be silent. Kol, Neesiette is in trouble.”

“Umu, Kol, heard. Though, Kol thinks, Moon, not really much for ‘danger’, ‘cause Moon is strong.”

“She is, but not if being fooled by someone.”


Grabbing up the encased kobold, Adris wraps his arm around her while pointing toward the ornate wooden double doors which mark the entrance into the villa.

His voice is angry when he speaks, full of outrage at one who would mislead his favorite doll.


“Someone in there lied to Ave and told her that he was her friend.”

“… OH!?”


A poleaxe creaks as she twists, resulting in the springing contraption shooting out an extending haft.

Throwing the weapon forward, Kol points it with two hands toward the doors.


“… Not only to Ave, but this man is also likely lying to Neesiette, to use deceit to do her in.”






A heat haze kicks up around Kol’s bare feet, leaving the false grass around her trembling with the whipping phantasmal flames.

When Kol frees herself of Adris’ hold and steps forward, the yard begins to shatter and its remnants fall to the ground.


“This man is a liar, just the kind that must be punished by just knights, Kol.”



(Of course. Just: “ladies first”.)




As Still whips out a short sword from thin air and Ave timidly unwraps her whip from her waist, the boy, one who is forced to invade a random villa belonging to an organization he was dying not to make an enemy of, extends his black cross out and points it at the target.




“Kol fehl Dain, by my authority as your leader and the bestower of your power, as well as the comrade that will be at your side the entire way, I order you thusly:


Destroy the one who would kidnap our dear friend. Cry, ROAR!




The wind shifts at his order, with it being drawn like a vortex to the stalwart black knight.

A disturbing groaning, like metallic scratching and the voices of burning sinners, comes from her armor as Kol momentarily spasms.


While it grows stronger, the wolf-helmet’s blue eyes glowing as the cursed armor awakens, Kol rises to its challenge.




Everyone before Kol… [KNEEL].”




Without a shred of cunning or grace, the boulder rolls forward.

Adris’ own cry rouses her fury further.




Pinkish streaks trail from her helmet as her muscles work, launching her into the air with a poleaxe raised over her head.








A white tabard, perfectly restored by a blue angel’s unwilling hands, gleams for this moment before the first dirt strikes her.


To their credit, the stout wooden doors aren’t reduced to simply pieces by the shattering, fiery swing of the Tyrant of Fire.

Instead, they remain mostly intact as they are blown off their immense hinges, soaring into the darkness of the atrium beyond while roaring whispers sound up from all around them.


Just like with the Castillo, the air of this villa grows inviting in a way which saps immediately at Adris’ will.


(No time to worry about the long term effects!)






When Kol disappears completely save for her continued roar, Adris chases after.


“One chance, no loss allowed: we’re rescuing Neesiette!”

Adris charges in after Kol, with Still rushing past with a waggling finger.

{I’m on that part! Keep us safe!}




Bringing up the rear is a zigzagging emerald serpent, unwilling to enter until being alone compels more fear of the outside than in.






Before night sets in, four random people storm the more easily entered villa of a man who lives adjacent to a demonic mansion.





Name: Adris fehl Dain, “Boss”, “Starr”
Titles: Lycia’s Little Brother, True False God, Slayer, Gigolo (Self-Admitted)
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?”


[The Mountain King] – “[Honor the gods, inheritor, and ever seek victory for their sake.]


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?”

“Are you ready to be passed around?”

“You are ready to be passed around, aren’t you? Wouldn’t you run screaming from your new ‘title’ if you had pride?”

“Will you now take to living out your fantasies with the others?”


“Being picked on… isn’t it a form of love?”



“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’?”

“Gets to see how the girls act around him.”

“Because he ever had to plot alone and then share the finished plan, he might not know how to share the details well.”

“Winning and losing are matters of perspective, and Adris would probably count this as both.”


“Recovers quickly, returns to scheming. Plots are ever the balm for his existence.”



“Things improve, things go wrong. Dealing with the situation promptly is the important part.”




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!




[ ?DARKNESS? ] – “▒▒▒▒▒▒▒▒……!!!”




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


[Halberd of the Whirlwind] – “GET OVER HERE!”


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…?”

“Discovering pride? Isn’t that like asking for her to leave you?”

“How do you feel to know what she’s looking for in a man?”

“Who will you go for first, Adris?”


“Is she more beautiful than terrifying, though?”



“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.”

“With pride comes self-worth that one can understand and convey to others.”

“Despite losing, she also wins.”

“Not afraid to stake a claim, Kol will take what she wants, even without understanding the consequences of the assertions she makes.”


“Keeps her word, when asked to.”



“Finding ways to listen to people’s instructions.”



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?”

“Yet, to lose her, would you understand the loss? If she’s quite beautiful, then wouldn’t she need a man who is also about the same?”

“Are you understanding her home life, yet?”


“This home is the one she’s making, right?”



“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?”

“Suffered another horrible mental trauma.”

“Absentmindedly inflicts mental trauma on others.”


“Can be counted on to speak about others, because she’s interested in them.”



“Being less cowardly doesn’t mean she screws up any less.”



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?”

“What do you think, after seeing who she lost to? Does failure make her more or less approachable?”

“Are you ready to struggle once more?”

“Seeing breasts that you’ve been denied for so long, does this count as major progress in your relationship?”


“Have you destroyed what you gained already?”



“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.”

“If you had to compare them, one coming up short might just be the luck of the draw.”

“The trouble with putting two similar people together is that they can clash.”

“But also, they can see the benefit in working together.”


“To do right, maybe. To avenge wrongs, always.”



“The last person you want on your bad side.”






Chapter 93         Table of Contents          Chapter 95