Take Up the Cross – CH5: 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.

 

(Ah.)

 

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…)

 

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.)

 

“Wait.”

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.”

 

(Pathetic.)

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…)

 

Die.

 

“… 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.”

 

(This…)

 

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.

His left hand throbs, even without holding the cross, the pain riding it all the way to his brain.

 

There is an image.

 

{This woman has her head to the ground facing away from Adris. She’s turned to watch behind her as she pulls her panties to the side. Adris brings his cock to her pussy, free to use her as he wishes.}

Adris shakes his head violently, trying to shut it out.

 

{Lycia is crying out in pleasure, promising to serve Adris for all eter-}

 

Adris puts his hands on his head to fight the pain, but finds it not working.

 

His head is suddenly gripped, firmly, but gently. He opens his eyes to look at a woman before him.

 

“… Are you okay?”

The woman named Lycia looks at him with uncertainty, interest, and… concern.

 

(Ah. She’s… still a genuine person.)

 

The longer he looks at her, the more his desire grows. Even now, he wants to feel the leg beside his head.

 

(The thought that she’s a “genuine person,” where does that come from?)

 

{Lycia is naked and bound, offering herself like a whore-}

 

Lycia strokes his head with cold hands.

The images vanish as she comforts him. Adris feels hot, the manipulating power of the cross blocked by his own neglected needs.

It’s difficult to think, but as long as it’s about Lycia, he can reject the images.

 

Having seen Lycia in his own mind, naked and inviting, is far too much, however.

 

(These… monsters seem to be enthralled with carnal pleasures.)

 

The situation.. should dictate his actions, or so he thinks in his hazy state.

Adris relaxes a bit, content to express his feelings about this woman, now.

 

(It’s not like she’s unenjoyable.)

 

Her personality needs to own him, but she does understand the back and forth of word games, and also of playful deceit.

Adris feels comfortable with her, a familiar feeling to the way she acts and the looks she gives.

She’s attentive and manipulating, but she seems to be fond of him…

 

Rolling her eyes a bit, she looks at a distant place while thinking, smiling a little naughtily before speaking.

 

“Yeah, if little brother would be willing to, say, help sis with understanding that cross- Huh?”

 

Lycia’s eyes go back to Adris as he creeps his head forward. Silently watching him, she doesn’t appear to understand his intentions.

 

(Honestly, I’d rather her than the other woman…)

 

Adris pulls his head free of her hands, her letting go reluctantly, as he leans his face in.

A small tongue darts out to lick her silk-covered leg, then he moves his head towards the middle of her pants.

 

“Ah! What are… y-AH!” She cries out a bit as Adris licks directly onto her pussy through her panties.

The musky smell boiling Adris’ mind is coming from here.

 

(This is how to make her mine…)

 

Adris is drunk as he puts his face against it.

He grabs onto her thighs softly with his arms and pulls his face into the embrace of her crotch.

She twitches as he begins to lick. Letting his nose rub against the fabric, he pushes his tongue against the silk, pressing into her lips underneath.

 

At no point does she stop him.

 

He rubs the back of her thigh, the leg still up, increasing the pressure with his tongue. Finding himself suddenly desperate to locate the pearl above her engorging lips that should be there, he breathes more deeply and intensely.

The warmth of his breath causes a bump to become more apparent under the moistened panties. He puts his tongue directly to it.

 

“HYAH~♥!” Lycia gasps a bit, enjoying the sudden affection.

 

Adris is confident in his service now, as the cold-feeling woman warms to his tongue’s touch.

He can even smell the musky scent growing, as the panties themselves slowly become wet with more than just the saliva from his tongue.

 

Two hands with a calloused touch come to grip his head through his hair.

He looks up, concerned. Seeing shining-green, gold-speckled eyes staring back, the slit irises loose, he realizes her demeanor is completely different.

Her tongue is between her lips as she looks at him, then retracts into her mouth as she opens it to speak.

 

“… You… want to do this?”

She asks the question with a lustful voice, naturally sultry now; but, her eyes reveal her total confusion at Adris’ actions.

 

(Didn’t you want me to obey?)

 

Adris’ pants are now far too tight.

Rather than answering, he reaches up with his hand to roughly pull to the side the thin fabric of her panties, eliciting another gasp.

 

(If I’m going to give myself to someone, I’d rather it be a good, “bad” woman.)

 

This Lycia has yet to show him any true maliciousness.

Though she might betray or hurt him later… for now…

 

Even with the thought of Serras betraying him, and what she meant, his lust and desire for having another fill that space is enormously strong, coming from a place of need he can’t identify.

 

Thrusting his face into her now bare crotch, he brings his mouth and tongue to her alluring, exposed, engorged lips.

He licks along them, before putting his nose against her and sucking on the lips with his mouth.

 

“Why… you are…?”

She moans lightly, while trying to resist with more questions.

Adris dips his tongue in between her lips, darting it about.

 

Serras had always enjoyed this, when she felt comfortable with it.

 

Now, someone else will.

He increases his ferocity, the thought of owning… or being owned by another the strangest idea, but also exciting.

 

“Haa … yeah, right there, boy.”

The woman’s grip grows tighter, pulling him against her as she moans, her voice inexplicably powerful and demanding in contrast to her previous anxiety.

Already shifting to give him better access, she gives herself to his willing service. The juices cling heavily against his face as her arousal increases.

 

Adris can’t breathe easily as he sets his tongue to her, finding that she’s unwilling to let him leave, physically holding his head close with her death grip.

When he feels the urge to breathe, he pats her thigh. She releases her grip a moment later, a subtle whining sound let out in disappointment.

Adris breathes, and then latches onto her now-revealed pink button lightly, licking on it gently and flicking it with his tongue.

He moves his free right hand up to her pussy, thrusting a finger in slowly to scrape against the upper, interior flesh.

 

She spasms as he does this, her grip getting tighter again as she rubs him against her pussy, her body bending a bit.

 

“HAH, HAH, … why is little bro… so dedicated… so…?” Adris hears her lick her lips.

“… loving and thorough…?”

 

Adris can feel her muscles shake with his touch.

Though she’s speaking, her body apparently won’t last.

 

(She was also holding back? Am I not the only creature affected by this place…?)

 

Time passes as she quakes before him with the touch of his tongue.

The faint music is drowned out by his slurping; her, moaning in the candlelight, as he pulls on her lips with his mouth.

An eternity of a moment leaves him locked in this wet embrace, his own discomfort a silent tease as he longs to put his dick between the lips he is servicing.

 

Yet, the task at hand is its own reward. Tasting this teasing woman and stealing her breath, Adris feels empowered, as if he’s winning the struggle now that he couldn’t win earlier.

 

(The flesh is soft. She’s…)

 

Tasty.

His tongue washes over her lips and dips inside as he continues. Other men might hate this, but Adris has always found it an interesting exercise.

Always appreciating little details, Adris is ever attentive. Every sigh and movement is an indication of how to proceed, how intense to make the experience right then.

 

(As far as I know, it’s always appreciated.)

 

There is no bad taste or smell, though the feeling of coldness from her thighs does unsettle Adris. The texture of her socks on her legs makes him forget the coldness.

 

“Hah, you wanted to taste me that badly?” She moans out, goading Adris on, establishing her dominance over him.

“Why does a boy like you know, HAH, how to move your tongue like that…!? No, don’t answer, just keep doing it~! A delicious thing like you… giving AH, everything… is… so very…~”

She changes tone as she speaks, her voice too loving to be merely appreciative of him.

“… Perfect~. You’re exactly the sort of little brother I needed!”

 

(Do women lust for boys like I appear to be? I’d somehow felt that was only a thing a man would do…? It’s… strangely satisfying, but also frightening.)

 

Adris moves his whole face against her pussy and skin, the strange feeling only adding to his lust, as he is forced to breathe her in so deeply that he feels like the smell will be etched into his brain.

She never lets his tongue stop for even a second, any sign of Adris slowing down accompanied by a change in her grip to reproach him. Moving her hands through his hair, her touch urges him to dedicate himself to her even more than he already has.

 

(In what way am I “perfect” for her?)

 

Adris is momentarily worried.

 

“AH! You can worship it~! I’ll let you have it! I won’t take it away, as long as you, HAH, promise to keep doing it~!”

She keeps talking while moaning. The strength seems to fade from her grip on his head, but none of the need subsides.

 

Adris can barely think as he surrenders to the warmth of her juices on his tongue and fingers.

Scraping inside of her as deep as his knuckles, the woman moves her hips in time with his assault on the pleasure point he concentrates on.

Her clit is already extremely hard, bigger than he remembers Serras’ being.

 

The woman moans, but it seems like a conscious effort. Rather than a regular panting, she doesn’t breathe often, though her body is just as animated even if she remains breathless.

 

“It’s strong, right there! Pay attention to it~! Make me feel it!”

 

He feels her rising tension, and answers it by gripping her clit between his tongue and lips, crushing it gently.

As he harshly tastes her clit, he increases the intensity within, until he pushes strongly against her wall with curving fingers.

The tightness of her muscles clamping feels like a vice on his smaller fingers.

 

The thick sound of wet slurping wars with her strangely paced panting. Adris drinks up juices as they gather.

There is heat from her now, even sweat appearing on her pale body. It makes Adris feel that she’s being filled with life as he pleasures her.

 

The deep embrace is overwhelming Adris’ mind, the rewarding experience of successfully pleasuring her making him unwilling to quit for any reason.

In this moment, she’s showing him love that he would never expect from her, even as she demands his attention in return.

Her engorged clit is what she obeys, his tongue circling it as she shivers. All of her manipulating ends as she seeks to answer her own needs, letting Adris serve her.

Then, she tenses, and her hands…

 

Crush around his head.

 

Adris feels trapped as he struggles against this pressure, losing his grip on her panties and being ground against her crotch as she shudders, her rubbing his face forcefully against her pussy.

Only the chair keeps him from falling over in the awkward position she holds him in. The woman treats him like a tool, Adris’ previous thoughts of supremacy disappearing as she outright uses him.

 

“AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!”

She releases a bestial, growling scream. Adris is fearful that the wild woman’s prodigious strength will kill him by crushing his head like a fruit.

 

(I always seem to die in ridiculous ways.)

Though, technically, one time is not a pattern.

 

As juices cling to his abused face, Adris is left to fall back into the chair.

The woman collapses onto the ground in an awkward, kneeling position, her breasts bouncing as she lands.

 

Her face is a mess, a sloppy expression on it. She looks almost dead, as Adris drunkenly watches her.

 

Then, she oddly returns to life, gaining power back to her body all at once.

 

“… Hm… you…” She tries to speak, but has no breath in her lungs to expel.

Adris goes to say something himself, but is obstructed as the mature woman suddenly reaches her face in, kissing him on the lips.

 

She’s not even the second woman Adris has kissed, yet her passion is certainly the highest.

Adris feels something like love from her tongue as she slips it in. Even if he wanted to resist the affection, her grasping hands don’t permit it.

 

After tasting him inside, she begins licking his face, lapping up her own juices and his spit that collected by his efforts. When she does it…

 

(It’s… erotic…)

 

Adris strains against the feeling of his imprisoned erection, her hand on it as her neediness mounts, instead of subsiding.

 

(She doesn’t seem like the kind of woman that shows real affection…)

 

Adris is surprised by the embrace, but secretly longs for it. Even now, she seems to move to release the loop holding his pants up, getting ready to reach in.

She goes to kiss him on the neck, reaching in and sucking… far too hard.

 

(Painful!)

 

He pats her shoulder to stop, the pain a bit much. She pulls back suddenly, looking at him with a hungry, severe expression, before she suddenly puffs her cheeks with a flushed, relaxing face.

 

“You… why did you do that?”

 

“… Was that not what I was supposed to do? Didn’t big sister want me?”

He puts on a smug grin, trying to appear confident with his response.

 

She’s shocked, horrified, then…

 

Deeply curious.

 

“You wanted to taste me? Without any compulsion? It was of your own free will?”

She licks her lips, traces of her own juices still clinging to them from their kiss.

 

“You desired me?”

 

Adris blinks, finding it difficult to understand why she asks the obvious.

 

(Why does the idea that I would do that willingly seem like the deepest mystery to you?)

 

“You sound a little too cheeky saying it like that, but it’s not untrue.”

 

“Absurd, you’re not even a Chosen…” She gets up swiftly, picking Adris up to hug him, burying his face in her breasts as his engorged penis uselessly rubs against her wet legs.

 

(Whoa, wait, that’s… tender!)

 

Adris can’t speak as she embraces him, left to swing like a favorite toy being crushed by its playful owner.

 

“Okay, okay~! I’ll help you! I was planning to leave, anyway! How could I not help such a wonderful brother who knows how to properly exchange favors~!”

Adris is startled by her sudden, obsessive voice. She coos at him, as she grips his butt with a free hand, his covered penis still rubbing against her.

 

“Nooooo, don’t be scared, little bro, big sis will protect you. I promise.”

She winks her left eye at him with a comical smile.

“I wouldn’t leave you to these…”

 

She puts him down and collects her gear while humming cheerfully, an awkward twitch to her movement as she bends over.

 

“… other monsters~.”

 

(You… suddenly want to help me a hundred percent after hearing that? Is willingness for these creatures a valuable commodity?)

 

“Hey, hey, where did you find that cross of yours…?”

Lycia now sweetly asks questions Adris plans not to answer.

 

 


 

 

Running through the halls, Lycia avoids numerous dangerous situations with only her outlandish speed.

They pass through rooms so fast that Adris can’t pick out details: bounding over empty pits, avoiding ensnaring chains, ducking disembodied hands that reach up from the darkness of the floor, and surviving other odd traps that Adris likely wouldn’t be able to avoid.

 

With her cloth box in her arms before her, Adris hangs from her neck like a satchel bag.

Her waist is gripped by his legs, an action which doesn’t reduce the woman’s speed in the slightest.

 

(General appearances aside, she is truly inhuman underneath.)

 

Adris is glad that the woman seems content to help him, even if it carries risks.

 

(Is it possible that she’s stronger than most of the creatures here?)

 

“A boy like you would be eaten up immediately~.”

 

She muses at an intersection, an octagonal room with a silver, irregular chandelier with flashing crystals looming overhead.

Mirrors on the wall reflect the light, a brightness that seems almost mesmerizing.

Four statues of various humanoid creatures watch the room while sitting in front of the intersecting entrances to it. Adris feels as though they could come to life at any time.

 

“[Pocket Belmont!]”

 

Lycia pulls a cylinder from her leg holster after she sets the box down, an item which morphs into a flying, metal, spiked chain as she flings her arm toward the chandelier.

Her weapon shoots past the werewolf-like statue in front of them and strikes one of the center crystals of the hanging light source.

 

The chandelier shatters in a great cacophony of falling pieces when the spiked head glows red with fire while striking. The pieces all crack noisily on the ground as she whips the chain back, returning it to its original form with a hearty, metallic grating sound.

 

The lingering presence from the intersection vanishes.

The cylinder releases steam before going totally inert, and Lycia deposits it back into her left thigh satchel.

 

“There’s not many options for you to escape the upper levels. We’re a little safer because there’s almost no pawns patrolling above the second tier. I can’t conceal you, though. You smell too… wonderful.”

Adris fights back his lust, his erection still rubbing against her back through the thin silk of her shirt.

As she adjusts him while still humming, his member jabs against her back.

 

She seems to shiver.

“Oh, are you enjoying your perch? Or are you… thinking about getting caught~?”

 

“You sure do have interesting gadgets.” Adris says, trying to deflect from his penis.

 

She tenses, but then relaxes.

Adris feels her free hand slap his butt.

 

“You are a flirt~.”

(What did I say?)

 

Adris clings on tighter, pulling at the woman’s neck.

 

“Choosing my neck instead, are they not supple enough…?”

The woman idly teases him with a throaty whisper, Adris head on her right shoulder.

 

(As if I could grip your tits and control myself. How would I hold myself up?)

 

“No, your aura tools really are interesting.” Adris tries to deflect once again, but is still genuine in his appreciation.

 

(They all seem… self made. Sadly, I am not your equal in this…)

 

Adris has only ever had the talent and resources to make a few aura tools in his life.

Like his self-made fog tool, the rest were quite average in utility.

 

“Is that so…? They’re quite standard… a bit too mundane, even.”

Her voice is dark as she dismisses his compliment. Adris smiles internally, finding the dismissal cute.

 

“I’ve never seen anything as spectacular as the cannon that shot exploding stars.” Adris continues.

“What do you do here in this place? Are you…?”

 

(Like the others…?)

 

“Hm? Ha, ha! No, I’m a bit of an eccentric.”

Lycia seems to hear the doubt in Adris’ voice, reassuring him that her future designs don’t include what would be the norm.

“The others are all looking for ways to breed themselves a super weapon. Mother’s private struggle is amusing~, but… that’s not… a viable option for me.”

Her voice is calm, but low.

 

The environment becomes a blur again, as Lycia bounds down the left passage.

 

“Individuals like me are not regarded highly within the Works! We focus on more practical research, rather than long-term eugenics or other carnal studies~!”

 

(Eugenics? Like aura blood lines?)

 

Adris thinks of the families who mingle blood, believing that aura use is determined by lineage.

 

“I spend more time outside of the Works than within…” She sighs while running.

“Taking my prototype [Starshooter] outside to show it off, you forced me to expend one of my expensive reloaders.”

 

“… I can’t pay you back.” Adris preempts her.

 

“Lies~. You can’t right now, but you will be able to later!” She cheerfully assures him of her belief in his value.

 

Adris struggles to ask his next question.

 

“Why did you help me?”

 

She stops suddenly in the long hall they’re in. Adris wonders at the reason, as she’s been able to talk while effortlessly running.

 

“… Well, a debt is a debt. You saved me from Ishia, right? Then you pre-paid me in another way ♥.”

She whispers the last part.

 

(Except, that’s wrong. You saved me first when you shot the monster, and you know it, so the balance is actually…)

 

In your favor.

 

“Why are you so worried… I happen to like you well enough.”

Her voice is cheery as she resumes her movement.

 

“I won’t hurt you, you know…”

 

Cheery, but inviting.

Seductive and cloying.

Seeking his trust, her voice is a weapon against him.

 

Adris clutches onto her as she continues to run, thinking about their relationship.

 

(This woman isn’t planning to leave me alone.)

 

He can see how she views others. It is something Adris can intimately understand.

 

(This woman thinks I’m… an interesting subject.)

 

What’s more, she seems to possess a principle of repaying debts, and expecting repayment for his.

Adris’ thoughts are dark as he realizes her unspoken motivations.

 

Even if he gets free of this Castillo, it doesn’t change the fact that something about him has caught her interest, and she intends to seek compensation from him for her help.

 

“Is having no magical power considered an oddity?”

 

Stopping abruptly like she’s overcome by something, she asks her own counter question with a very serious tone instead of answering his.

 

“Is having a silver cross that can knock out someone in a single blow…”

 

Footsteps loud, she completes the somewhat grave question while tearing through darkness once more.

 

 

 

“… considered an oddity?”

 

 

 

(Shit.)

 

“Well, don’t worry about it! All your questions I will be more than happy to answer after we get you out!”

Lycia seems amused again, speaking brightly.

 

 

 

“We’ll get to know each other over a long time!

 

 

 

Adris tries to remain calm, but finds that hard.

 

(“Don’t let go of anything useful.” In the end, to this woman, I’m a mystery to be solved, not a potential partner.)

Adris is only a possession. At best, a favored one.

 

His mind threatens to shatter, as an image takes over his entire sight, leaving him unable to see or hear the outside world.

 

{Adris is leading Lycia before him. She is naked, chained by the neck, moving on all fours.}

 

(Stop.)

 

{He walks down the halls of this demonic mansion, everything in his path bowing, until he comes to a room with spectators. There, Lycia readies herself, whining, begging for him to-}

 

Adris holds onto her tighter.

 

When his mind clears a bit, he feels her stiffening, then relaxing when he stops gripping so tightly.

Suddenly, her attention moves from him to something else.

 

“Okay~! We’re almost free~!”

 

She races up a winding stairway she comes upon.

 

 


 

 

Lycia comes to the top of the stairway, entering an arched, palatial landing with multiple exits.

The walls are covered in wallpaper depicting four seasons, the subject of the wallpaper ever a golden-haired girl wearing a white dress playing among desolate fields and an empty town.

Decay has eaten into the borders of the paper, the whole room dripping with moisture.

 

(How is it even creepier than the Works? Who the hell is this girl?)

 

The rust-covered, iron walls glow with blue lamps, and the flooring is a single piece of marble covered in dark-gold, ruined rugs that make paths between the rooms.

 

Chairs, drawers, and other furniture are organized in the landing, in haphazard collections near the doors to the other rooms here.

 

A blue, quartzite hallway with white flagstones and the same embellishments as the rest of this mansion is before them, leading into another large, open area where Adris can hear rushing water coming from.

 

“[Cascading Water] connects to many areas in the Castillo, though it’s not an average way of traveling. All we have to do is go down the right drain and we’ll save a trip.”

Lycia speaks softly, but with enthusiasm.

 

(How do I breathe in water?)

 

“When you make it to the end, do not rush off. Wait for me. The right path is where we need to go. Only I can get you through there. If you go down the left, you’ll regret…”

 

Lycia makes an error as she moves toward this exit, going quiet suddenly as she hears something.

To the right of it, walking out from a separate room, a creature appears.

 

A short woman with deep-blue bat wings for arms walks out. A black, tight-fitting bodice, with a blue-gold neck tie, covers her small breasts, and a light mini-skirt barely hides her juicy bottom.

The frills and style of it make it appear like a maid uniform, though its disrepair and ad-hoc fitting fit with her strikingly inhuman features. Clawed, half-human bat legs, covered with black stockings held by lace ties, scrape the floor as she walks out.

She’s holding onto a pot-shaped device with one of her clawed wings. Her blue, medium-length bobbed hair obscures her eyes, but her young face gazes at them with her mouth locked in an “O” of surprise, her bat-like ears angling towards them.

 

“What is this? I thought I heard something! Intruders!?”

Lycia holds the box with her left arm, as her open-fingered, leather-gloved right hand comes up in a claw-like gesture in defense.

The girl notices the blue coat Lycia is carrying wrapped around her box.

 

“Eh, you’re from the Works? Why are you here? An inspection of Cascading Water isn’t due for…”

The woman tenses when she focuses on Adris. Tilting her head quizzically, her mouth then curls into a smile, a cute, pink tongue peeking out from between her sharp fangs.

 

“Oh! Have you perhaps… brought a [Guest]!? My, if you wanted to share a visitor, then I won’t say no~!”

The bat-winged woman sets the pot down on a silvered push cart holding other cleaning tools, then begins to sway lewdly as she walks towards Lycia with a hungry expression, her clawed feet still scraping against the floor as she moves.

 

(This damned hood!)

 

Adris’ hood had fallen back as they ran, leaving his face exposed.

 

 

 

“gEt YoUr OwN, pAwN.

A deep, bestial threat rolls out from Lycia’s throat.

 

 

 

Adris can’t see Lycia’s expression, but the air is clammy and his stomach tightens when she speaks.

The cute woman falls back, her mouth quivering in terror for a moment, before she sneers while shaking.

 

“Huh, you thought you could come up here to eat alone? That it’d be abandoned? Sorry~! The Great Mistress has plans for this area! A little bookworm like you has to listen to us~!”

Before Lycia can move, the woman breathes in a great deal of air and then expels it all from her mouth with no sound issued, yet Adris can hear speech.

 

INTRUDERS! COME AND GET THEM!

 

Adris is unsure of what is happening, but Lycia wretches at these unspoken words, before jumping forward in the air and slamming her booted foot into the woman’s cowardly face.

 

The bat girl unwillingly flies back into the room she came out of with golden particles spraying from her face, ramming into the desk within the room and tumbling over its cracking wood, while screaming bloody murder the whole flight.

 

Loud voices respond from adjoining rooms.

 

“Ferthia, there can’t be intruders this high up~!”

“If it’s stupid, I’m going to rape you.”

“Trouble?”

 

Adris hears stomping feet.

 

A door in the landing opens, as a tall, black-ponytailed woman wearing a butler’s gray uniform enters the room.

A full figure with curvy mounds, the uniform meant for a man is tight to her body. A great, blue-gold scarf hangs over her front and back, covering her neck and some of her body, giving her the look of a hunter during winter.

Old stains cling to her outfit, which bears sliced tear marks in places and is frayed in many spots.

Her slight, catlike features seem sharp on her fine face as she focuses on Lycia, her black cat ears and twin cat tails straight and confident.

 

Sizing the situation up in an instant…

 

“I see, someone brought recreation.”

The woman’s orange, cat-slit eyes narrow threateningly, though her expression remains gentle and her pleasant voice confident.

From her waist, she pulls out a contraption with a sawblade. It folds out with a snapping sound into a black, serrated, crooked sword as she whips it to the side.

 

Two more people show up from other rooms.

 

One is a huge, muscled man with curved goat horns and brown hair, his tiny bell-boy hat comical in comparison to his ponderous size.

His body sports a gray, sleeveless, porter’s uniform jacket and long pants. Very little is left of his outfit, it mostly ruined by mud and abraded holes.

Barely able to leave the room he is in, he has to turn sideways to walk out.

His square face and jaw show mad, brown eyes as he clenches his teeth. He pulls his stylized, cracked, black-iron-padded gloves tight as he enters.

 

“Oh, why rape Ferthia? You’re cuter.”

 

The last responder is a woman whose partially covering body fur looks cream colored. She wears a faded, green robe with emblems of falling creatures embellished on it, looking as if they are plummeting to their doom from the open sky.

Rabbit ears rise up from where human ones should be, going up beside a small, green hat that drapes most of its top behind her head.

It looks like a bed cap, but ends in hanging, brass trinkets that threaten to pull it off her head.

Her feet are human like, black-leather boots going up inside her long robe.

 

She smiles with a slightly ditzy expression, her face having an adorable, pert nose and sharp incisors for her front teeth.

Adris notes her ditziness is a total deception, as her pink eyes blaze with a cruel intellect. A slowly-writhing, obsidian rod and a bound book are clutched jealously close in her hands.

 

“Heeee, intruders there are, there are! How… strange.”

 

“Che.”

Lycia dismisses them, flinging Adris and herself toward the blue hallway.

The blue stones shift in color as they run through.

 

Adris looks behind to see the robed bunny girl pop out of thick, greenish smoke right where they were, her rod coming up lazily.

 

Eyes that view from beyond, see my foe and peer deep within, share your sight and render them insensate.” [Transfixing Green~!]

 

The rod collects an emerald fire. Lycia is still running, trying to outpace the threat.

A ray bursts out with a scattering of a green eyes flaring up around it, its beam inexorably flying toward them.

 

(Their barriers were no defense.)

 

Adris grabs his cross in an instant, interposing it between Lycia and the ray.

 

The ray sings as it flies, striking the cross… and reflects back with an arc, running across the white tiles as it returns to its sender.

The glittering sound is replaced with a low, maddening drone.

 

The bunny girl clicks her tongue, sweeping her rod and striking the ray, dissolving it in an explosion of green particles and sickly smoke.

 

“Nice work, little bro.”

Lycia bursts into the new room carrying him. Before he can respond, she pulls him in front of her.

 

Putting something up to his mouth with lightning speed, she cracks it and clamps it over him.

 

“Breathe~.”

Lycia holds her hand over his mouth and nose, forcing Adris to inhale a foul, herbal-smelling smoke. His lungs feel as though he has fluid on them, like when Serras wounded him.

 

As he has a coughing fit, he looks at the room around him.

 

Like its name, the entire room is full of coruscating and cascading water.

 

Up above, a gargantuan, blue, serpent-like leviathan lies within a massive, crystal-glass tank.

It is held in place by a slate, herculean statue, noble-looking and clad in flowing robes. Four great supports come from the walls to meet the statue’s base.

 

Water flows out from a long gash in this seemingly dead creature’s length, the endless gush of water flowing down intricate chutes and slides.

 

It flows into and fills other tanks in the room, tanks holding waters of various colors and opacities, with things like stones and crystals laid within them.

The waters obey a complex system of gravity and direction control, flowing past open walkways and down glass tubes, to empty below in an equally complex system of drains.

 

The tanks read different descriptions, the closest saying “Second Tier, [Grand Collection]: Fresh Water – Neutral Alkalinity.”

 

The rush of water that should be deafening is muffled a great deal by the crystal glass enclosing the falling streams.

The light in the room comes from the dead creature above, no darkness allowed as its presence controls the whole room.

 

Adris notes that the moist walls squirm a bit, being the only surfaces not brightly lit by the leviathan.

 

Lycia runs up a walkway, her eyes searching for something, but she has no time to act as a green cloud erupts to her right.

The cloud grows solid and reaches out to restrain her as she ducks it, leaping back towards the entrance of the room.

She tosses Adris to the nearby wall gently, rolling him safely to come up beside it.

 

Lycia aims for the cloud with a monstrous leap, whipping her uncovered box to hit the appearing bunny girl in the face.

The attack strikes a whispering wall of air to the smirking mystic’s left side, vibrating in the air as it’s held by the invisible screen.

 

The catgirl butler streaks into the room, faster than Adris’ eyes can follow, flanking Lycia with an overhead swing.

It bites into the intercepting wooden box, with the blade’s serrated edge sending sparks as the butler retracts her strike.

 

The blond scholar dances away, jumping on the railing and running. She retreats to stand before Adris in a defensive stance as he looks up, crouching low.

 

The goat man trundles into the room, staring down at Lycia as he towers over her, before looking to Adris and preparing to charge the boy.

 

Lycia growls and jumps toward the robed bunny once more out of desperation, arcing through the air with her box held overhead with both hands, gripping it like a tree-trunk-thick club.

 

The bunny’s passive grin becomes a devilish one, as her rod goes up in the air with a swish of her hand and is then whipped down to the earth.

The faded, green robe’s falling creatures become colored, frightened, rotating images on the waving cloth.

 

What is up must now return, even birds will be undone; you who soar with graceful joy, a sure defeat is now begun.

 

“[Falling Down~!]”

 

The space around the airborne Lycia contorts, sucked above in an instant.

 

Adris is mystified when she streaks up into the air, as though her whole form stretches towards the ceiling, and is then flung to the ground at terminal velocity like a snapping band.

Her body strikes with a grotesque, meaty flop accompanied by cracking sounds, shards from shattering white flagstones flying out as her bones shake and rattle.

 

Before the assembled attackers can act, Lycia’s body moves inhumanly, a clawed hand grasping the ground and yanking.

She flings herself toward Adris, as she awkwardly rolls into a standing position.

 

With all three arrayed before her, Lycia doesn’t act, patiently waiting to counter any attack.

Gold fluids leak from her mouth and spots on her bruised body.

Adris is surprised she is still active, but glad. Brandishing his cross secretly, he readies to attack them when she does.

 

“While not allies in the strictest sense, what reason exists for greed?”

The black-ponytailed butler woman speaks amiably, while letting her saw sword hang low against the ground.

“I don’t wish to take your meal, only share at your table. Why escalate to a formal test of arms when we could be as brethren?”

 

“Yeah, there’s no reason for fighting, yeah! Why, why would you fight~? A delicious boy can be shared by all, riiiight?”

The rabbit girl energetically speaks, contrary to her sleepy style.

“The Wondrous Works has plenty of Guests. Why hog the ones that make it here!?”

 

The girl glares at Adris, her pink eyes sinister.

“This lady wants to ask where he comes from, while entertaining him~.”

 

“No women if share. Do I fuck Ferthia? Sounds boring.”

The man grumbles, disillusioned at not being allowed to rape Lycia.

 

“I wouldn’t fuck you for any reason, you ugly giant!”

The bat girl flies into the room, flipping overhead and landing on a railing above, looking down at the bleeding Lycia.

Her nose is red, with a bit of gold leaking from a nostril. She looks quite angry as she glares.

Underneath her mini-skirt… a bald, clamshell pussy is proudly displayed to Adris as she perches.

“But, I certainly deserve a taste of that cute penis after putting up with you, old ghoul lady.”

 

Adris pales, certain that they’re doomed.

Lycia is strong, but these three, disregarding the bat girl, look powerful, too.

 

As he tenses…

 

… a box drops, and a sweeping hand grabs him by his jerkin, pulling him up and pinning him against the wall.

Roughly pushed up against it, his breath is forced out by the impact.

 

“We shall not take the first bite, so enjoy your portion. The newcomer shall dine first, while we graciously host.”

The butler has a congenial smile with closed eyes, content with the changed dynamic.

 

Adris looks at the woman before him.

 

Lycia’s eyes are opened wide, a blazing green, the frightening radiance returned to them.

 

Her mouth is pulled up into a cheshire grin, all of her pointed teeth gleaming as she wipes away the golden blood with her free hand.

 

A madness is set to her face that he’s never seen previously.

It forces him to recall that she isn’t human.

 

“Sorry, it’s a little too hard for big sis to stop these guys~!” She says, before she cackles disconcertingly.

Might as well taste you while you’re still fresh.”

 

Adris’ throat goes dry.

She reaches to his pants, then, loosening the looping belt as the voyeurs snicker or whistle.

 

“Like I said, little brother...”

She leans in with her mad grin and dark, monstrous voice, breathing roughly.

 

“lIkE I SaId!”

With a deathly rattle, she moans words into his left ear with her face beside his, her eyes closed in appreciation of his scent.

 

YoU jUsT sMeLl ToO gOoD…”

 

She then kisses him deeply, using her tongue to seize Adris’, pulling his rapidly expanding penis out from his open pants and holding it in her hand, as she prepares to ravage him.

 

 


 

Characters:

Characters:

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)

Powers:

[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 Cross Smash] – {A MAN STRIKES ANOTHER WITH SHINING SILVER. THE MAN WHO IS STRUCK SMILES, HIS MIND AWAKENED.}

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

[Unknown Communication Assistance] – {THE MAN HAS NO DIFFICULTY SPEAKING TO THOSE WHO ARE ALL DISSIMILAR. HE UNDERSTANDS THEIR SUPPLICATIONS.}

[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

 

Statistics:

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

 

Beauty:

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?”

 

Description:

“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.”

 

Commentary:

“Weakness is never forgiven.”

 


 

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

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

Powers:

[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

 

Statistics:

R-Value – “Please unlock me, Adris~.”

 

Beauty:

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?”

 

Description:

“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.”

 

Commentary:

“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.”

 

Glossary:

 

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.”

 

Cascading Water – “The source of waters for the Castillo, perhaps. A great serpent’s perpetual death is where the waters that feed life come from?”

 

“Guest” – “The name given to anyone in the Castillo by servants of the Alchemaster who is treated as an honored invader.”

 

 

 

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