Novel Rupegia

Discussion in 'Community Fictions' started by Manasong, Oct 10, 2019.

  1. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    "What are you grinning for?" Roxanne asks.

    "This reminds me of the video games I used to play," I say and sigh nostalgically.

    "What kind of games?" Alissa asks as her ears twitch repeatedly, a sign of curiosity.

    "Horror."

    "What…" Yunia mumbles and grips her longsword harder.

    I grin again. "So, how about we split up and search the area? It'll be faster this way," I suggest.

    "N-no! Are you insane?! That's the worst decision we could make if we were in a 'horror' novel!" Roxanne exclaims and bonks the top of my helmet with her fist.

    "Most of us have [Bind]. So we can all be summoned to Wolfy in case something happens," Hana says as Alissa gently pulls Roxanne's fist away from my head.

    "What do you mean by 'horror'?" Aoi asks.

    "Horror is a genre of fiction which is intended to frighten, scare, disgust, or startle its consumers by inducing feelings of horror and terror," Ted answers.

    "Well, hello there, Mr. Wikipedia," I say.

    "What's 'Wikipedia'?" Aoi asks.

    "Wikipedia is a multilingual online encyclopedia created and maintained as an open collaboration project by a community of volunteer editors," Suzy answers.

    "What's 'online'?" Aoi continues.

    "'Online' is a computer technolog-…"

    "That's enough. We'll be here all day if we continue on like that," I interrupt Jarn.

    "Awn… it sounded fun," Aoi and lets her head drop in sadness for a moment.

    "Another time," Ciel says as she pats Aoi's armored head.

    I bring our conversation back on track, "Back to the plan… Ciel, Yunia, the golems, and I will form a team; Alissa, Lina, and Aoi will form another; and Roxanne, Hana, an earth elemental, and Ciel's [Holy Spirit] will form the last one."

    "No sex," Ciel says and sends a stern glance to Hana and Roxanne.

    "This is hardly the most romantic place for that kind of thing," Roxanne says and chuckles nervously.

    "Even us? You know, there are some pretty nice places in the residential area. If only we could turn the power on," I say and smirk towards Ciel.

    "P-please, let's not make ourselves vulnerable in the middle of a challenge," she pleads and blushes faintly.

    "Getting killed mid-sex is a pretty common way that characters die in horror stories," Lina says, and Roxanne cringes.

    "Huh… you know what, you're right. That's quite the popular trope," I say.

    "So… if we're avoiding tropes, can we just not split up?" Roxanne asks.

    "What's up with you? Scared of the dark?" Hana teases.

    "What if the station has a [Gate] scrubber?" Yunia asks.

    "Isn't a scrubber made specifically for [Gate] and [Eternal Gate]?" Roxanne ask.

    "But [Bind] could be different," Yunia answers.

    "Well, we can test it right now," I say and pull out our scrubber.

    "Why do you have that?" Yunia asks with a frown.

    "Darean's men tried to ambush us using this. They failed," I calmly reply, and Yunia nods stoically in understanding.

    I turn on the scrubber and summon Alissa.

    "Ah, yes…" She says in a soft tone, then she glows and appears right in front of me.

    I give her a peck on the nose and look at Yunia. "Satisfied?" I ask, and she nods, but Roxanne still looks skeptical.

    "I don't know…" She mutters.

    "It'd be much faster to explore the station this way," I say.

    "If you're that scared to go with only Hana and the Spirit, then you can come with me," I say and give her my dashing smile.

    "I-I'd prefer it if everyone stayed together," she says shyly and pokes the tips of her index fingers together repeatedly.

    "Awn…" I feel touched.

    "Awn…" Alissa sympathizes.

    "Awn…" Hana teases.

    "Awn…" Lina looks smug.

    "Awn…" Ciel gushes.

    "Awn…" Aoi copies Hana.

    "Awn…" Yunia smiles endearingly.

    "Gihihih," Gify giggles.

    I walk towards her and pull her into a hug. "I wish we were both naked right now," I say.

    Hana hugs her too, and the situation immediately devolves into a group hug. But since we're all armored, not much body warmth is transferred, so the hug quickly dissolves. I remain glued to Roxanne, though.

    She sighs and says, "Fine… let's split up. You don't have to treat me like a child."

    "Hey, I'm legitimately touched by your love for us," I protest.

    She pulls my face up to hers and gives me a kiss. "But did that change your mind about splitting up?" She asks with a pouty smile.

    "No…"

    Her tail pokes my nose, and I bat it away with my own. "Thought so."

    Hana pulls Roxanne back and gives her a deep kiss. "Don't worry, your knight in shining armor is here to keep you safe," she says with a smirk.

    "Hey, don't start," Ciel warns them.

    "Yeah, don't make her jealous," Alissa says with a cheeky smile.

    "I-I'm not!" Ciel protests.



    "Yeah, yeah. Let's go," I say and pull Ciel's hand.

    "We're going to the Power Station. We'll try to turn on the lights," I say as we start walking away from the others.

    "Administration. We'll search for information about the keycards," Lina says.

    "Residential. We'll search the houses for keycards," Hana says.

    I pull down the visor of my sallet, then I give them the thumbs up, and we head out.

    Each team gets a Holly and a Shad for safety. I can't summon any more than that since I need to conserve my mana for [Bind] summoning.



    "You two seem to be enjoying this," Yunia comments and raises an eyebrow, looking slightly amused.

    "Why shouldn't we be?" Ciel asks.

    "Oh, you know, it's just that the imminent danger and the risk of death both sound like good reasons to be tense," she answers and knits her eyebrows in worry.

    "Sounds fun," I say, innocently.

    "I didn't take you both to be thrill-seekers like Hana."

    "I don't chase thrills, I just want an adventure," Ciel says with a shrug. "I want something 'different' from the usual day-to-day, something 'new.' Even if it's just wandering around."

    "Flying the airship was really fun, and I find this dungeon enjoyable as long as we don't get hurt," I say.

    "I was trained to never take a dungeon lightly. Some of them might be trying to lure us into a false sense of security until they strike and wipe us out," Yunia says.

    I tap my chin and say, "Hm… that's reasonable. As long as we don't get careless, we can enjoy the dungeon as much as we want."

    "'Enjoying' it makes it much easier to lower your guard," she says in a stern tone.

    I play with my tail awkwardly. "I see what you mean. There's nothing that I can do other than saying that I'll keep that in mind and be careful."

    She sighs. "That's all that I need, but I'll remind you of those words if I feel like you're getting careless."

    "Please do."



    The [Holy Spirit] massages Roxanne's shoulders by tap-dancing on them. She's feeling rather tense now that she only has Hana to protect her from danger.

    "I'm watching over you," I say through [Bind].

    She nods and smiles faintly as her stress level reduces a little.

    They have a Holly and a Shad with them, so they should be fine.

    They walk through an area that's incredibly similar to a modern shopping center. It's a long corridor flanked by shop after shop, with periodic green spaces and seats for people to rest on; three other floors with elevated walkways; and a glass ceiling, allowing them to see the light blue sky above.

    As they walk, Hana notices a wooden mannequin in the middle of the corridor.

    I don't remember that being there before.

    They pass a shop with a broken window, then a restaurant where the furniture has been thrown out into the open.

    I don't remember that, either. Are they really going the same that way my scouts did?

    They see more mannequins, all wearing a wide variety of shredded clothing.

    A hole in the ceiling is letting some air inside, and the buildings gradually transition to being mossier and dirtier. Then they notice cracks in the walls and a collapsed section of the walkway.

    Further in, patches of tall grass have grown out of the green spaces, and the walls are covered with ivy. There's also a large number of rotting mannequins blending in with the post-apocalyptic scene, causing even Hana to become nervous.

    "Is this like the lighthouse? Something that only changes when we get near?" Roxanne asks.

    "It s-…"

    Hana gets interrupted by my warning: something is moving in the tall grass behind Roxanne.

    Hana immediately hides Roxanne's body behind her shield while she slashes at the stalker with her bastard sword.

    A dull thunk resounds through the area as Hana's sword gets stuck in a wooden mannequin's body. It flails its arm wildly, trying to slash at them with a cleaver.

    Hana pushes her sword down, and the mannequin is forced to the ground, dropping its cleaver on impact. Hana stomps on the mannequin and retrieves her sword, then she kicks it away.

    It goes flying for a few meters, then stops itself from rolling and starts crawling back towards them with frightening speed.

    "[Explosion]!" Roxanne casts, and the mannequin's head explodes in a shower of splinters and dust.

    A few seconds pass, and the dust settles, then every mannequin around them starts to move in their direction, including the now headless one.

    "Run!" I order through bind.

    "Elemental! Make a path! Push them away!" Hana orders and pushes Roxanne in front of her.

    "I bet that they were activated by sound. Don't use [Explosion] again," I say.

    We stop moving so that I can guide the girls. Whenever a mannequin gets close, I guide Hana or Roxanne to intercept them with a spell. The mannequins are light and fragile, but there are so many of them that they would quickly overwhelm the girls if they got caught.

    "Follow the corridor," I suggest. It's better to stay in the open than to get cornered inside a shop.

    A platoon of mannequins starts to form behind the girls. They're all moving robotically and in sync, similar to how the Stilt Giants did. The mannequins are seemingly faster than the girls, but the ones chasing after them are keeping a constant distance.

    Hana stops and inhales a deep breath of air, then she turns around and blows it out, spewing a wide plume of flame. The now burning mannequins run through the flame as if it were nothing, and both of the girls have to cast spells to push them back.

    "I think I just made it worse!" Hana yells as she resumes running away.

    The corridor comes to an end, but there's no clear exit in sight.

    Fuck.

    Then I see it: a heavy metal door with a faded painting of the word "Security" on it. The door is ajar.

    "There!"

    I guide the girls, and they burst into the room. It's a simple barracks-like room with weapons and a map of the shopping center on the wall.

    "Hold the door!" Hana orders the elemental, and it immediately starts fusing with the door and the ground.

    Roxanne stops in front of the map. The label says that it's a map of the alarm system. There are dozens of small gems embedded in it, and there's a legend near the bottom that shows how the gem will glow in different colors depending on the emergency. Most of the gems are glowing in a faded orange, signifying structural failure. Those are likely dead ends due to collapsed corridors.

    Hana goes over to the other door of the room and opens it. It leads to a service tunnel. It's cramped, but there aren't any mannequins in it, at least not yet.

    Roxanne locates their own position on the map and traces a theoretically safe route out of the shopping center.

    "Let's go!" She exclaims after memorizing the map.

    Hana nods and leads their way onwards.

    The mannequins start to slam against the door with… something. Then the elemental completely fuses with the door, allowing me to see past it.

    The still-burning mannequins are using each other like battering rams. They're slamming the body of one of them until it completely breaks apart, then another mannequin takes their place as the ram. They can only endure a few slams before breaking, so a pile of broken, burned mannequins quickly starts to build up beside the door.

    It soon starts to bend and creak. Their relentless assault is powerful enough to bend metal. After just two minutes, they break open the door and flood into the room. Then they rush into the service corridors and sprint at full speed after the girls.

    "How big is this fucking place?!" Hana complains.

    "Not as big as some shopping centers I've been to," I say.

    "What the fuck is that?"

    "Like a Bazaar, but more formal and inside a building."

    "What's going on?" Alissa asks, only now noticing the girls' distress.

    "It's noisy in here," Aoi complains, and I feel a hint of agreement from Lina.

    "I'll explain," I say and start, but I stop soon after because I have to guide Roxanne's spells again to slow the mannequins down.

    "[Fire Wall], [Fire Wall], [Fire Wall]!" Roxanne casts over and over. The mannequin at the front finally collapses after crossing the third [Fire Wall] when its scorched legs turn to ash.

    Hana casts [Earth Bullet] in quick succession, creating a pile of ashes and burnt wood. The mannequins finally slow down, struggling to pass over the pile that only gets larger as more and more of them collapse, clogging the tight service tunnel.

    The girls finally break out of the shopping center and barricade the door they just came through. Then I unsummon the earth elemental since there's no way that they'd be able to go back to retrieve it now.

    They look forward, and Hana whistles as they see a very large mansion past a small, public garden. A glass ceiling right above it allows us to see it in all of its glory. It's a large, U-shaped gothic mansion with four floors. It has some pretty menacing architecture with gargoyle, lion, and dragon statues; and pointy little towers everywhere.

    Next target located.



    With things calming down over there, I return my focus to exploring.

    "Mannequins, huh. Feels like a puppeteer, just like in the lighthouse," Yunia says.

    "There doesn't seem to be any near the mansion, and they aren't chasing after the girls anymore," I say.

    "Something not made of flesh is exactly Roxanne's weakness," Ciel says with worry in her voice, and we nod in agreement.

    "This place is even more mysterious than the lighthouse."

    The "sterile" corridors of the administration section are soon replaced by the faded and rusty colors of the metal and concrete of engineering. The labels of rooms and plaques start to have more vibrant colors, but the paint job becomes rougher and uglier.

    "Feels like 'engineering,' alright," I say with a wry smile.

    The girls raise their eyebrows at me, and Ted sates their curiosity before I can milk their attention any more, "Workshops and machinery trade form for function, so they lack pleasing aesthetic details, but their straightforward design pleases pragmatic people like Master Wolf."

    "So you're going to refer to me as 'Master,' now?" I ask with a small smile on my lips.

    "Yes. You find the title 'Grand' to be 'odd,' but not 'Master,' as Master Alissa used to call you," Suzy answers.

    Yunia looks at me in confusion. "Why does Grand sound 'odd' to you?" She asks.

    "Two reasons: it is a title that he had never seen before, and it already has a meaning in English, his primary language. This creates a sense of incongruity when an established word is used in a novel way," Ted answers.

    I chuckle and ask, "Hah. So you two know everything about me, now?"

    "We know everything about your past, but not of your present or future," Suzy answers.

    "Do you know his first time?" Ciel asks with a mischievous smile.

    "W-wha-…"

    "He had masturbated before to make himself last longer, but then he couldn't finish. Though, his partner was pleased with his performance, so she was happy with the outcome," Suzy answers, and I swear that there's some smugness to her flat tone.

    "So you'd already showed signs of your skills," Alissa says through [Bind].

    "Aren't you supposed to be paying attention to your surroundings?" I ask and grit my teeth in embarrassment.

    "There's no way that I wouldn't pay attention to something like that."

    "Awn, that's cute. I wish I'd met you when you were that innocent," Ciel says and gushes a little.

    "Would you have fallen for me if I were like that?" I ask.

    Ciel puckers her lips in thought. "Well, yes? The first time we met, you were still a little shy and awkward, after all."

    I smirk. "Oh? Alright, I know what we're roleplaying next."

    She smiles and shakes her head, and Yunia looks at us endearingly.



    We pass by a few warehouses, and I suddenly smell something foul.

    "Ew… are we close to the sewage system, or something?" Ciel asks and wrinkles her nose.

    Yunia eats an Eia pill and frowns. "There's a strong web of Life all around us," she says.

    "Is it like the Stilt Giants?" I ask.

    She shakes her head, but since she's wearing a helmet, I have to imagine her glorious hair and cute ears bouncing. "No. It is literally around us. I'm not sure what this means; I've never seen anything like this outside of a thick jungle."

    "This is worrying."

    "Yes."

    We hear a moan in the distance, echoing through the corridor.

    "Zombie moan. Male. Possible 'husk,'" Ted says.

    "Necromancy?" Ciel asks, worriedly.

    "I've never seen it create a web of Life as strong as this," Yunia says.

    Ciel casts [Judgment] on her glaive, and the blade glows with a dangerous light, then she takes the lead.

    As we walk down the corridor, I recognize the foul smell as the stench of rotting flesh. Then the moans increase in frequency and decrease in distance.

    We hear wet footsteps coming from the warehouses flanking us.

    "Shit, they must be all around us," I whisper.

    Our [Spirit Light]s reveal something in front of us. A human, a naked woman. Half green, rotting corpse, and half skeleton. She slowly turns around to us and moans mindlessly.

    The husk shambles forward, raising her hands towards us and making grabbing motions, then her skeletal jaw opens up and chews the air.

    Ciel slashes at the husk's leg, cutting it off and making her fall to the ground. Then the light of Ciel's [Judgment] fades, and she takes a few steps back, looking bewildered.

    The husk glows, and the leg reattaches itself, then the flesh starts to regrow around the skeletal bits, and the husk becomes faster.

    "What the fuck," we three say in unison.

    Ciel chops with her glaive again and embeds the blade deep in the husk's skull. She holds it still as the husk grabs the glaive and tries to dislodge it from its own head.

    "These aren't normal husks," Yunia says, worriedly. She raises her hand towards the husk and starts to groan from the strain. "It's so strong that I can't even use [Chain Life]."

    Tremors run through the husk's entire body, showing that Yunia is having some effect on her.

    I cast [Constricting Vines] on the husk, and Ciel retrieves her glaive.

    The moans get closer.

    "Alright, we need a strategy," I say.

    Yunia starts chanting.

    I cast [Lightning Bolt] at the husk and feel some relief when it gets stunned just like a normal humanoid would.

    "Chopping off limbs seems to be effective," Ciel says, and I grunt in agreement.

    I cast [Gravity Crush], and now the husk can barely move, too weak to struggle against my "Magic Power."

    "Physically weak. Blunt attacks should work fine, too," Ciel says, and I nod.

    "[Double Image]," Yunia casts and starts chanting again. This time, it's [Spirit Magic].

    She moves while chanting, and the husk's gaze follows her. Then the husk lunges to the side, trying to grab at the air.

    "Vulnerable to Illusion, I assume?" I question, and Yunia nods.

    I throw a [Fireball] at the husk's shoulder, but nothing happens aside from our noses being assaulted by the stench of burnt, rotten flesh.

    "No [Fire Magic], please," Ciel asks.

    "Agreed," I say and wrinkle my nose.

    We hear a metallic clanking behind us. It's Jarn turning around to face a husk coming at us from behind.

    "Why are they human? Isn't this a chimeric facility?" Ciel asks.

    "To be honest, they remind me of Earth video games too much. I feel like I'm in Resident Evil," I say.

    "That's the name of a video game involving husks and horror," Ted explains.

    "[Soul Blade]," Yunia finishes casting. An ethereal, blue arm holding a simple shortsword grows out of her shoulder and moves independently from her physical arm.

    She walks forward, and the ethereal arm slashes at the husk's shoulder, then the zombie's arm falls flat on the floor.

    "Cut her head, try to kill it," I suggest, and she obeys.

    The husk's head goes limp and hits the floor, but it continues moving and struggling against the vines.

    "The Life controls all of its limbs independently," Yunia says.

    "Can't you 'cut its strings,' somehow?" I ask.

    "No. It's too strong."

    I walk up to right beside the husk, but it doesn't react at all. I kick its leg, and it immediately lunges at me as I dodge backward.

    "It lost its senses, though," I say.

    Jarn decapitates the husk coming at us and kicks it away.

    "How 'permanent' is spirit damage, anyway?" I ask.

    "Few things can permanently alter a soul, and most of those are offensive weapons that rupture the spirit, killing you instantly," Yunia answers.

    "So, we have no reliable way to kill them?" Ciel asks.

    "Seems so. Unless you have another way to use for your Gift that I don't know about," Yunia says and smiles wryly.

    "Not really," I say and smile, then I create two maces with [Vine Weapon]. "Ted, Suzy, use these to help us out."

    I throw the maces at them, and they stop them in the air with [Telekinesis].

    "Alright, let's move. Start jogging," I order.



    The state of the corridors worsens as we continue on. Rust starts to appear more prominently, the air grows stale, and the floor now appears to be stained with unknown fluids. The corridors also become wider, but that only means that more husks can crowd around us.

    "Is that blood?" Ciel asks, looking at a particularly red blotch of rust on the wall.

    "Alissa, what's this smell?" I ask and share my senses with her.

    "Definitely dried blood," she responds and frowns. "I'm thankful that I'm not there to smell all that rot in person."

    "I think that my sense of smell is going numb."

    "Alissa says that it's dried blood," I say, and Ciel shudders.

    Dozens of husks on our way slow us down by joining into a literal wall of flesh. If we linger for too long, they'll also come up from behind us and overwhelm Jarn.

    "Alright, change of tactics. Ted, Suzy, focus on charging up your [Telekinesis] to the max. I want you two to punch a hole through the husks for us," I order, then I mold the maces into two large boulders as wide as my body. Two cannonballs of petrified wood.

    "We require someone to hold us if we are to concentrate all of our power," Ted says.

    "Ciel, switch with me and hold them," I say.

    "Gladly," she responds, and shows a small smile as the two golems stop floating and flop into her bosom. She holds them both against her chest with one arm while she holds her glaive with the other. Then they start gathering their mana.

    I cast [Discharge] for a second, then Yunia and I go all "chop, chop" on the husks' limbs.

    There's no need for skill in this fight, only diligence and focus. The husks don't know how to defend, so I only have to pay attention to when I should attack and when I should retreat. One wrong step and a hand will grip my leg and make me trip.

    One of Jarn's legs gets grabbed by a husk. She can float with ease, so she doesn't trip, but this means that our time is running out. With one hand, Ciel swings her glaive and frees Jarn.

    "Thank you, Master Ciel," Jarn says, and Ciel smiles.

    "Yunia, use [Searing Blade]," I order.

    "Understood," she responds.

    I turn around and cast [Discharge], giving Jarn a small breather.

    My mana~… I need to save it to summon the other girls in case something happens.

    I suddenly feel a significant amount of heat coming from behind me. I turn around and see Yunia's white-hot longsword grow to three meters in size, then she swings her weapon, and a dozen husks' heads go rolling.

    She swings it twice more and makes minced meat of the wall of flesh before us, then she deactivates the enchantments and resumes attacking normally. She grimaces in pain due to the overuse. She used two thousand points of MP in just three seconds, that's a fuck ton.

    Ciel pushes the diced husks to the side with her [Windstorm], then she starts throwing [Wind Hammer]s, crushing the heads of the husks still standing.

    I return to the front and help Yunia.

    We all start worrying about the golems. They're going to use up nearly all of their mana in one go. I hope the husks aren't sensitive to mana, otherwise, the storm the golems are creating will attract all the monsters in this facility.

    "Ready," they say in unison.

    Yunia and I jump out of the way. "Punch it," I order.

    The cannonballs whistle through the air as they are fired like bullets, taking the husks with them. The corpses pile together as they collide in a snowball effect, pushing the wall of flesh much further beyond what we can see.

    "Charge!" I order.

    We deal with the stragglers easily and dash down the corridor before the husks can surround us again.

    "We're getting close!" I exclaim.

    The boulders created a carpet of rotten flesh along the floor, so Ciel casts a continuous [Clean] to keep us from tripping on the guts and gore.

    The corridor finally ends and opens up into a large room filled with controls and glowing mana crystals. The problem is that this room is literally filled with husks. The boulders didn't even push that many new husks into this place, they were all in here, to begin with.

    They all turn to us and start their slow shambling.

    "Fuck that, we definitely don't have the mana to deal with all this bullshit," I say and look around. "Change of plans, let's get inside there and barricade ourselves."

    We enter a large closet filled with cleaning products, and Jarn easily holds the door closed by herself.

    "Now what?" Yunia asks.

    "Lemme think," I say and sit down. "Let's at least recover our mana."



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Cidant.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Brennon Goetz.
    Lord Amelgar.
    Lord Krawn.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Evil.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble Geminus.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Nobleman Lassiter.
    Noble Aclys.
     
  2. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    Ted and Suzy drench themselves in an MP potion, trying to hasten their mana recovery.

    "Did it work?" Ciel asks, worriedly.

    "The potion is being absorbed by our metal skeletons," Ted says.

    "Our mana regeneration is increasing, but it's three times slower than a humanoid's," Suzy says.

    "Huh… so you guys do have a weakness," I say.

    "Just until they learn [Redirect Mana]," Ciel says.

    "True."

    I sit down and sigh. The armor makes it a little awkward to sit, but since it's padded, it isn't too difficult to find a comfortable position.

    I raise my visor and look at the girls. The three of us are all uncomfortable and tired of having to smell these fucking rotting zombies for so long.

    "I have an idea, how about this?" Yunia says and turns off her [Spirit Light].

    "Hm…?" I frown at her, then it dawns on me. "Oh…! That's right! They might be attracted to the light since they healed from [Judgment]."

    "So… you want us to fight in complete darkness?" Ciel asks.

    "Right, for you girls, it wouldn't work so well, but it can still be useful in a pinch. Anyway, what I thought is to use light to lure them away from the room," I say.

    "A light elemental," Ciel suggests, and I nod in agreement.

    "I could cast [Ignorance] on all of us, that would make it easier to sneak around them," Yunia suggests.

    "Please do," I say.

    "Wolfy, we are not alone," Alissa says through [Bind].

    "Ciel, throw a [Spirit Light] out of the door to attract the husks away from our closet, then we'll block any gaps around the door that could let light leak out. I'm going to focus on Alissa's team."

    "Understood," Ciel says, and they act.

    Alissa and the others are in the main hall of the mayor's public office, a wide and open modern-looking building with minimalist paintings covering the walls and floor. The furniture all around them is made of glass, and even the balustrade of the three visible floors are made of glass panels.

    The view brings me a hint of nostalgia, reminding me of Earth, but the lack of illumination gives it all a ghostly feeling.

    Alissa perceives three presences patrolling the corridors, one on each floor above the one they're on.

    "This looks fragile," Aoi says and uses one of her claws to poke a chair made of glass. The gray cushioning looks comfortable, but the lack of details or adornments give it that "soullessness" that plagues a lot of modernist architecture.

    "It's reinforced with something. It's still weaker than wood, but it's not as fragile as a cup of glass," Lina says.

    "We're not here to admire the architecture," Alissa says and pulls them back into "serious mode."

    "If you don't stop to admire the architecture and smell the flowers, can you honestly say that you've really been there?" I question through [Bind], trying to sound as pretentious as possible.

    "Please," Alissa pleads, trying to hide her amusement, but [Bind] never lies.

    They walk to the reception desk and look over the documents while I translate for them. Alissa finds a map of the area, Lina finds a memo about keycards, and Aoi finds a memo about the new security arrangements. Curiously, the dates on all the documents have faded.

    The map says that the keycard creation workshop is located on the top floor. It's a restricted area that requires a red keycard to open, so I don't think that we'll be able to go there just yet.

    The keycard memo is about the new mayor requiring a keycard. The chief of security is reminding the public servants that a high-security delivery of the keycard will happen at a predetermined time, and he'll be absent, personally delivering it to the mayor at his mansion.

    "Hey, so this might be the mayor's mansion," Roxanne says.

    They're currently standing in front of the main entrance to the mansion. Hana is keeping an eye behind them while Roxanne examines an intricate padlock that's securing a chain wrapped around the handles of the double door. There's a mysterious note nailed to the door, clearly a hint about this puzzle.

    "You know what, fuck this," Hana says and pushes Roxanne to the side.

    "Here we go…" Roxanne says and smiles wryly.

    Hana breathes fire on the chain until it glows white-hot, then she pulls out her steel war hammer and slams it onto chains until they break.

    The door opens with a wooden creak, and they wait in a combat stance. After a minute of nothing happening, they walk inside.

    "What if destroying the chains triggered the alarm?" I ask.

    "Oops, didn't think of that," Hana says and cringes.

    "It would be a waste to put an alarm enchantment on a padlock and chain," Roxanne says.

    "Y-yeah, exactly," Hana says and laughs.

    Roxanne shakes her head and smiles wryly, then she says, "We'll search for the mayor's office."

    The security memo that Aoi found is about the three new guards that will patrol during the night. Elite special soldiers with extreme mental conditioning. The public servants are warned that nobody will be allowed to stay in the office once it closes and that disobedience will most likely result in death.

    "You don't put such extreme security practices in place if you're not protecting something very important," Alissa says.

    Yunia nods and says, "That keycard creation workshop is worth it, not to mention all the valuable information that's probably stored in the building. The entire leadership of this station works over there, so almost everything relevant to espionage is concentrated in a single location." All of which I relay to the others.

    "We should try to fight those patrolling soldiers first, then we'll explore the building after they've been dealt with," Alissa suggests.

    "I agree," Lina says, and Aoi nods with a toothy grin.

    "I'll remain on standby to pull you girls out of there," I say.

    "Shad, follow Aoi for now," Alissa orders, and the silent shadow obeys.

    The husks slowly make their way to Ciel's [Spirit Light], then one of them eats it and heals a little. Now, without any light that they can see, they all forget about us and resume aimlessly shambling around.

    Alissa's team crosses through the main hall and slowly climbs up a set of stairs. Meanwhile, Hana and Roxanne get lost in the creepy and dark mansion.

    "Aoi, you'll stay in front, Lina will stay closer to me. At first, we'll focus on observing the enemy and keeping it away from us instead of engaging it in melee combat," Alissa orders, and they both nod.

    They walk through the corridors and cautiously await the floor's guard. They stand still, ready for battle, as the sound of heavy boots slowly grows in volume as it comes closer to them.

    A large figure makes the turn around the corner; it's immediately illuminated by their [Spirit Light]s and stops before them. He's a beast of a man at over two-meters tall; his skin is as pale as Roxanne's; his muscles are huge and veiny; his creepy face is chubby and bald like a baby's; his right arm is fused with a metal cannon; his left one is fused with a sledgehammer; the only bit of clothing on him is his pair of heavy, dark boots; and thankfully, he doesn't have genitals.

    Alissa fires a thin mana arrow designed to pierce his flesh. It hits right in the middle of his forehead and enters his skull, but the man doesn't even react, his baby face is completely expressionless. Then the arrow is pushed back out of his head. It falls to the ground, and not even a wound remains in his flesh.

    Mana leaves his body, and a ball of light flies out of his cannon-arm with frightening speed. Even through Alissa's eyes, I can tell that this light is "dangerous," just like Ciel's [Judgment].

    Alissa dodges and grimaces; Aoi and Lina might not be able to avoid that attack. The ball of light illuminates the corridor as it passes beside them, then it hits the end of the hallway and instantly dissipates.

    The Baby Brute starts walking towards them. He looks so menacing that he causes waves of stress to crash into the girls with each of his heavy steps.

    Aoi spreads her wings, nearly blocking the whole corridor, and bends the air to her will. She compresses it, then launches crude [Wind Blade]s towards the Baby.

    "Since when can you do that?" I ask.

    "Since always. It was just too weak to be used before," she answers.

    The blades cut into his chest and open deep wounds, but not even a single drop of blood falls from them. After a mere three seconds, the wounds simply close by themselves.

    "[Cursing Magic] isn't working," Lina says.

    The Baby Brute picks up speed and starts jogging towards them.

    Alissa fires two mana arrows at the same time, and each of them sinks into one of his eyes. The arrows are promptly pushed out, and the eyes return to normal as if nothing had happened.

    Alissa clicks her tongue and says, "I'm starting to hate these stupid regeneration abilities."

    "That's because you're too powerful. Otherwise, you kill everything with one shot," I respond, and she scoffs.

    The Baby Brute casts a spell, and another ball of light is launched towards Alissa, who puts all her effort into dodging it.

    Lina fires some [Earth Bullet]s, but she lacks the "Magic Power" to do any significant damage, besides forcing the Baby Brute to slow down to a walk.

    Aoi fills the entire corridor in front of them with her fire breath, but the Brute continues walking as if nothing happened, instantly regenerating his muscles as they burn. The only change is that he's lost his boots.

    Then she fires an explosive fireball at him, and flesh flies everywhere. This finally makes him stop for a short moment, but then he immediately starts jogging again. His chest regenerates at a visible rate, and in a few more seconds it'll be completely healed. He's a fucking juggernaut.

    Aoi flaps her wings, creating heavy gusts of air, and Lina casts more [Earth Bullet]s at his legs. Both of them manage to slow the Baby Brute down again, giving them a few more precious seconds.

    "There's no way to stop him!" Aoi yells, starting to become concerned.

    The Brute aims at Aoi, then Alissa casts [Double Image], and he shoots at nothing.

    "He destroyed my spell!" Alissa exclaims, stunned.

    "That could be a ranged form of [Judgment], so don't let it hit you, it'll hurt a lot," Ciel says.

    "I'll keep attracting his attention then," Alissa says. "Lina! Trip him!"

    Lina casts [Earth Wall] just in front of his feet, creating a short step. His foot slams against it, and the step cracks, but the Brute still trips and falls forward. Its creepy, unemotional face keeps staring at Lina all the way down, even bending his neck to an impossible angle to stay locked onto her.

    Aoi leaps forward and lands with a savage chop of her halberd, decapitating the Brute. Its head rolls forward without spilling any blood, then black tendrils extend from the severed flesh and grab the body.

    He leaps with all four limbs and stands up straight while his head hangs loosely from him by the black tendrils, then he immediately attacks Aoi with his sledgehammer. The hammer passes through [Wind Shield] and slams against her black shield, nearly folding it in half before the force of the strike flattens Aoi against the wall, causing a brief rumble to resound through the building.

    Anger flares up inside both mine and Aoi's minds.

    Motherfucker!

    Alissa fires an arrow at his left knee, then Aoi violently lashes out, using the claws of her forelegs to slash through the back of that same knee, forcing him to kneel. The black tendrils pull his head back into place, and the wound closes as if nothing had happened.

    Lina dashes forward and sinks her axe into his knee. Aided by my [Sharp Blades], it cuts cleanly through his muscles and bone, chopping off his leg. He falls on his ass, and black tendrils immediately shoot towards the leg and grab it.

    The sledgehammer swings towards Lina, and she uses [Enhanced Speed] to dodge downwards. The hammer clips the top of her shield, tilting it back, then she pushes upwards and deflects the bow. The hammer embeds itself in the wall, causing another small tremor.

    Aoi bites the cannon arm, preventing him from aiming it at them again, then she drops her weapons and sinks her foreclaws into his chest. She roars in rage and tries to rip his arm off while the heat coming from her mouth burns his skin.

    Alissa casts [Mesmerizing Butterflies], but only an extremely powerful spell would be able to distract someone from a dragon trying to rip their arm off. The sledgehammer blurs and bashes against Aoi's helmet, sending deep cracks into it.

    Aoi gets stunned and releases the arm, then her Shad attacks the Brute. Its black, ethereal tendrils sink into its body, but nothing happens, then the cannon points up, directly at Aoi's head.

    Fuck.

    I summon Aoi.

    The closet suddenly gets rather cramped when Aoi appears in front of me, and the Brute launches a ball of light that harmlessly dissipates as it hits the ceiling. The creepy baby head instantly snaps towards Lina, its emotionless eyes staring straight into her soul.

    "Heal her," I say, and Ciel jumps forward, grabbing Aoi's heavy body, and immediately starts [Heal]ing her. "Run!" I order Alissa and Lina.

    "Shad, with me!" Alissa orders, and the shadow monster silently obeys.

    The little dwarf scampers away with a pale face while Alissa casts [Double Image] repeatedly, keeping the Brute busy.

    Alissa turns into a fox, and Lina mounts her, then they make their escape, but the Brute follows them, his legs already fully healed.

    Alissa jumps off of the balcony and lands in the main hall. The Brute follows without hesitation mere moments after her, but when Alissa crosses the exit, he stops following them and immediately makes for the stairs.

    "Let's not fight that," I say.

    "Agreed," Alissa says.

    Aoi recovers from her stun and curls herself up. Her tail angrily sways wildly from side to side in a low cadence. It's only because she remembers Alissa's reprimand that she's not currently spewing fire with every breath.

    Her helmet has cracked and bent in a little, so it's slightly uncomfortable for her. I grab her large head and rest it on my lap, then Yunia starts the repairs.

    "You let your rage take over you, then you gave an opening to your opponent," Hana says to Aoi.

    "I know…" Aoi grumbles a response.

    "You even left your weapons behind," Alissa says.

    Aoi grits her teeth and doesn't respond. Her mouth warms up my lap as fire threatens to flare out.

    Alissa and Lina enter the office again. Lina stays mounted on her; this way, Alissa can remain completely silent while sneaking around. Alissa's MP is also at about half, so they'd rather avoid alerting the Brutes. [Double Image] is too expensive for her to keep using it so often.

    They climb up to the first floor and recover Aoi's weapons. Her shield is bent, but Lina thinks it'll only take about an hour to bring it back into shape. Repairs with [Manipulate Metal] reduce its overall integrity, though, so it'll be slightly weaker until it can be reforged.

    Then they sneak up to the third floor and wait until the Brute patrolling there walks away from the mayor's personal office. The door requires a green keycard to open it, but luckily for us, it was left open. They'll have to hide when the Brute walks close, though.

    The office is large and lavish. There's a circle of sofas around a glass "technically not coffee" table; a small cart with a glass tea set; a wide metal desk near the back wall; a few document shelves behind the desk; bookshelves covering the left wall; minimalist paintings covering the right wall; and dead potted plants spread all over.

    "I'll search the desk, you search the shelves," Alissa says, and Lina dismounts.

    Alissa easily finds a green keycard in one of the desk's drawers.

    "How fortunate," I say.

    "We just need to find a use for it now," Alissa responds.

    "Access denied. Repeated attempts will trigger the alarm. Please use a green keycard for access, thank you for your understanding."

    "How convenient, we just did," Roxanne says and smiles wryly. She and Hana are standing before a locked door, presumably the mayor's office.

    "At least something went well…" I say as I read the document in Lina's hands. Apparently, the mayor lost his yellow keycard, so engineering sent a memo to double-check everyone's identity before allowing any changes to the power grid.

    "So… we came all this way for nothing?" Yunia asks and frowns.

    "Maybe… but since we're here, we might as well clear out these husks," I say.

    Aoi groans. "Send me back. I don't want to smell these husks anymore!" She requests.

    I pat her head and say, "I'll send you back to the place where we split up. Be careful, since you'll be alone."

    "I will," she responds in a serious tone.

    I kiss the tip of her nose and feel a small burst of happiness escape through her [Bind], then I open a [Gate] under her, and she disappears.

    Alissa finds a locked drawer in the desk. There aren't any keys in the other drawers, so she starts trying to force it open.

    "Lina, help me over here," she asks.

    The gloomy girl nods and grabs the sides of the drawers. Mana courses through her body, and her [Spirit of Gaia] doubles the passive stat bonuses of [Stonebody]. The metal starts to bend, then it suddenly rips away, and Lina falls on her ass.

    Alissa feels a chill as the Baby Brute of their floor suddenly stops patrolling.

    Lina looks inside the drawer and finds an opened letter with neither a sender nor a recipient.

    "The Brute is coming towards us," Alissa says.

    "I didn't make that much noise," Lina complains.

    "Doesn't matter. The monsters around here have some sort of special senses or something," I say.

    Alissa looks towards the window beside the document shelves.

    "I wouldn't recommend that. Windows are a common place to put an alarm system," Roxanne says.

    "It's too late to try to sneak past the Brute," Alissa says.

    "Turn off your [Spirit Light]s and hide," I say, and Alissa nods.

    Lina gathers all the papers they can, and they hide behind one of the large sofas. Alissa casts [Ignorance], just in case. Without [Spirit Light], I can now only see through their Holly and Shad.

    After half a minute, the Brute appears in front of the door. His eyes scan the room before he moves towards the desk.

    Everything is so quiet that the girls' breathing sounds like wheezing, and the Brute's heavy steps feel like stomps.

    He stops to stare at the document shelves, then he turns around and crouches, noticing that the drawer was ripped open.

    Alissa winces as she suddenly hears a high-pitched screech, hurting her ears. Lina looks at her in confusion, it seems that only Alissa can hear it.

    The Brute suddenly stands up and starts quickly searching the room. Alissa and Lina brace themselves, but the Brute walks past them without reacting; he even looks in their direction, but [Ignorance] prevents him from seeing them. The other two Brutes speed up and make their way to the third floor. Then it leaves the room and starts searching the next one

    "Trying to sneak past them will be rather risky now. Any ideas?" Alissa asks.

    The Brutes start searching inside the other rooms, and out of the few that are unlocked, most don't have any reliable hiding spots. Now, if they try to use [Ignorance] to sneak past the Brutes, Alissa likely won't have enough MP to keep it up all the way to the stairs.

    "Summoning Solid Snake," I say with a grin.

    "Reference. Video games," Suzy says.

    Alissa rolls her eyes and lets me control her. I make her grab the cart and park it outside, right beside the wall of the corridor. Then I return her to her hiding place and wait. She breathes calmly and easily controls her own arousal from me using [Bind] to control her.

    A Brute passes by, and his eyes lock onto the cart, but he simply passes by it without doing anything else.

    "Well, well, well. We found our box," I say and guide the girls towards the cart. It's pretty small and cramped, but they both fit. A long tablecloth blocks both of them from view.

    Lina feels a little hot from having Alissa's face pressed against hers, then Alissa also starts feeling it from my own fetishes bleeding through to her through [Bind]. I sigh and control myself. The smell of rotten flesh is a great help with that.

    The girls push the cart along and slowly make their way towards the stairs. Without the Brutes staring directly at them, [Ignorance] doesn't drain Alissa's MP as much.

    They finally reach the corridor leading to the stairs and stop a few meters away from them. Then a Brute stops in front of the cart, and our blood runs cold.

    He's so close that I can see him through Shad's vision. He's staring at the cups, then he lifts his sledgehammer and uses it to align one of the cups with its plate.

    Suddenly, his cannon lifts the tablecloth and aims directly at the girls.

    Lina fires an [Earth Bullet] at the cannon, clogging it, then Alissa grabs her and rolls out of the cart. She turns into a fox with Lina already on top and leaps to the side as the sledgehammer crushes the floor beside her.

    She dashes down the stairs, and all three Brutes go to the balcony. They jump down to the main hall and wait for Alissa to come to them.

    "Uh…" Alissa's brain stops for a moment as she processes what's going on. "It seems like they don't know that I can sense their exact positions."

    She goes to the balcony of the first floor and waits for the Brutes to move.

    "Make a [Double Image] of yourself outside the office, let's see if they fall for it," I suggest.

    She first casts [Mesmerizing Butterflies] to make them look behind themselves, then she casts a long-range [Double Image] for a moment. Any mage worth their salt would instantly recognize the illusion and interrupt it effortlessly, but these are Brutes that are easily fooled by it and believe that their target has escaped.

    They leave the main hall and start coming up the stairs again.

    "I'm very thankful that they're dumb," Alissa says.

    "If they weren't, then they would be quite overpowered," I say.

    The girls snort, and Alissa leaps down to the main hall. They cross through the exit and finally escape.

    I sigh and get up. "Now, let's deal with these stinky fuckers outside," I say.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Cidant.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Brennon Goetz.
    Lord Amelgar.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Evil.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble Geminus.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Nobleman Lassiter.
    Noble Aclys.
     
  3. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    "Overpowered?" Yunia asks Ted.

    "A gaming term, meaning: a strategy, action, or object that's either the best choice in a disproportionate number of situations, which marginalizes other choices, and/or excessively hard to counter by the opponent compared to the effort required to use it," she answers.

    "A-nywa~y… I'm summoning a light elemental," I say and start modifying the summon.

    I make it look just like one of my small birds. It's surprisingly easy to copy things that I can summon.

    "That's so cute," Ciel says and stares at the little glowing bird on my palm. Her gaze may appear warm and loving, but I'm aware of her hidden desire to smother small things between her pillows. Ciel is a dangerous woman to small animals.

    "Lure them away," I order the elemental and let it fly out of the room.

    Every husk's head immediately turns to it as it flies to the entrance and perches itself atop the door. Its brilliance is an order of magnitude higher than the glowing crystals of the room, making itself a much more delicious target. The husks uselessly flail about trying to grab the shining bird that stays just beyond their reach.

    We wait for a few minutes until they all finish shambling towards the elemental and are crowded around it, then it flies to the next door down the corridor, and the room slowly vacates.

    "Oh. My. God… Gods… Finally!" I exclaim and cast [Clean] all around us, purging the insufferable stench of rotten flesh.

    We burst out of the room and close the doors to Engineering, but leave it ajar, then barricade them. If we fully closed them, we would be locked inside since they require a yellow keycard to open.

    I breathe in the stale air and smell the rust, blood, and dust. It's bad, but still, it makes me smile that the worst is gone.

    We start taking a look at the controls and let out a collective sigh when a female voice says, "Access denied. Repeated attempts will trigger the alarm. Please use a yellow keycard for access, thank you for your understanding."

    "Well, there's nothing to do here," Yunia says.

    "Let's top off our mana, and then we'll go join the others," I say, and they nod.

    I pull down some comfy carpets for us to sit on, and we meditate. I put two of Yunia's points into [Redirect Mana] so that she can join us in meditating.

    "You know, this mana doesn't feel disgusting like Necromancy did that one time," I say as I pull the mana around us into myself.

    "You… 'tasted' Necromancy before?" Yunia asks.

    "We fought a husk manipulator once," I answer.

    "It almost feels like heresy to have husks heal from [Light Magic]. I've also never seen something like that before, so I don't fully believe these are true husks," Ciel says.

    "Some dungeons are truly mysterious, this one even more so," Yunia says and nods like a sage.

    I feel a little bit of strain from using [Redirect Mana], but it's manageable.

    "What an odd skill. It almost feels like [Spirit Magic], but it's much more… 'free,'" Yunia comments.

    "'Free'?" I question and tilt my head just like Alissa.

    Yunia's face twitches as she holds back a smile. "[Spirit Magic] is all about turning the abstract and intangible parts of the soul into something usable and understandable. Your skill simply… 'moves' the soul without care for any of that. An odd but novel way of thinking."

    "I was inspired by the dwarven [Stonebody]. I heard that they use the ambient mana to passively increase their stats, so I tried to pull mana into myself," I say.

    "There are already skills for that: [Mana Recovery] and [Mana Absorption]."

    "Oh yeah, what does [Mana Absorption] do?" I ask.

    "It's a rare skill that lets you absorb excess mana and slightly reduce the power of any spells cast near you. It's almost useless since it requires too many points to be effective," Yunia answers.

    "Never heard of that one before," Ciel says.

    Yunia continues, "I'm not surprised. Mages have been trying to directly manipulate their opponents' spells since the beginning of linear time, but it always goes back to the dangers of raw mana manipulation: either it's too weak for practical use, or it doesn't end well."

    "I know what that's like," I say and smile wryly.

    "Gih," Gify agrees. It's surprising that she didn't pop out of existence while we fought the husks.

    Gih.

    Right, it wasn't even that much of a challenge for us.

    We finish replenishing our mana, then I summon two small earth elementals. They merge with our barricade and fill the gaps with their bodies, ensuring that it blocks all light from escaping.

    Then I open a [Gate] to the place where we split up, and we start walking towards the mansion, which is where we'll meet up with the rest of the girls.



    Hana and Roxanne continue exploring the creepy mansion. The silence is the worst part of the eerie atmosphere. Everything seems bleak, "colorless"… "dead."

    "Should we really be here?" Roxanne asks.

    Hana stops and raises the visor of her sallet. "Hm? Of course, they're coming here," she says and frowns.

    Roxanne tightly hugs her staff, and Hana continues walking forward, letting out a nervous laugh.

    "Of course…" Hana repeats in a low tone.

    They pass by a dozen rooms, all of which seem to have once belonged to someone. Too curious for their own good, they take a look inside each one and see fragments of someone's personal life. A husband, a maid, a butler, a guard, a son, a father, a mother, a cook, a guest, a mage, a warrior, a scholar. They all feel "private," as if we were prying into their secrets.

    The rooms don't feel just like a place of rest, they feel like graves.

    Hana enters a room, and Roxanne follows her in. Hana gets interested in the dressing table with a mirror. There's an open makeup container with a dusty brush beside it, and small plushie dolls cover the rest of its surface. Jewels and a cute dress decorate a small mannequin beside it, making the girls tense up for a second.

    Hana walks to the mannequin and prods it with the bottom tip of her shield. After a few seconds without a reaction, she sighs and lets it go.

    "Seems like the daughter's room," She says as she looks around, then she walks over to the dressing table and touches the makeup brush. "Looks similar to the one you have. Wanna try it?" She asks with a grin.

    "Not now…" Roxanne says in a low tone.

    Hana swallows heavily and nods. She starts fidgeting, clearly nervous, and takes a closer look at the bookshelf.

    "Girly romance stories," Hana says and snorts.

    Roxanne sits on the bed, and a sinking feeling enters her heart.

    The room is pretty, too pretty. It's a princess's room.

    Hana opens the wardrobe and sees cute dress after cute dress.

    "I'm hoping these aren't just mana solidifications, then maybe we could take some of them for Lina. It seems like they could fit her," Hana says.

    Roxanne looks out the door, and a sense of dread swells up inside of her. Across this corridor is the last unexplored room on this floor.

    "We found the mayor's personal room, but not his wife's…" Roxanne mutters.

    "Y-yeah… what's up with that? Maybe they were separated," Hana says and pulls out a thin white dress. "Damn, I really want to see Lina wearing this one, hah…"

    Hana returns to the dressing table and picks up the brush again. "M-maybe I should put on some makeup. Wolfy would like that, right?"

    Roxanne gets up and slowly walks forward out of the room.

    Hana grabs a small blonde doll and starts brushing its cheeks with some makeup. "Maybe we s-should put it on Suzy, instead. She's a girl, too… also Ted. W-what would Ted be like if she had a humanoid body? A boyish girl with short brown h-hair, hm?"

    Hana looks towards Roxanne and freezes. Her hand trembles, and the brush slips through her armored fingers.

    Roxanne is standing in front of the door to the last room, staring blankly at the handle. The dread only increases as time passes, but she feels that if she turns back now, she'll regret it.

    "Roxanne?" Hana asks and slowly walks out of the room, her legs shaking too much to walk properly. "Please, don't do that," she pleads, her voice barely a whisper.

    "She's my mother, I must obey her," Roxanne says and grabs the handle.

    "Mom's mad, we have to let her rest in peace," Hana pleads again.

    "Family is the most important thing that we have." She twists the handle and opens the door.

    They both freeze in terror, their bodies become as heavy as stone, their blood as cold as ice, their minds as fractured as broken glass. The Lady looks away from her mirror and turns around to face them. Their hearts are squeezed by the all-consuming scorn of the miserable, abandoned being in front of them.

    "No…" Roxanne mutters.

    The Lady takes a step.

    "Mom, please," Hana pleads.

    The Lady takes another step.

    "I don't want this…" Roxanne moans.

    Her heels clack against the floor.

    "I'm sorry," Hana apologizes.

    With each step, they feel something stabbing their hearts.

    "Leave me alone…" Roxanne begs.

    "This is too much…" Hana mumbles.

    The Lady stops, then she turns her eyes to Roxanne.

    "NOO~…!" Roxanne yells, then shrieks and runs away in a mad dash.

    The Lady turns to Hana.

    "I won't accept this…!" Hana gains some confidence and slowly draws her sword.

    The Lady takes a step.

    Hana's sword arm goes limp, and she falls to her knees.

    "Mother, please, I can't…"

    The Lady reaches both hands towards Hana's throat.

    "I'm sorry…" Hana mutters, then she glows and disappears.



    "HANA!" I yell and hug her. She doesn't react, slumped on her knees, completely catatonic.

    Ciel casts [Heal], [Refresh], and [Purify Body] on the hysterical Roxanne while Yunia chants [Spirit Touch]. Ciel's spells don't accomplish anything, but Yunia's spell helps Roxanne calm down.

    I cast [Spirit Touch] and grab Hana's heart. Somehow, I can feel that it's "in pieces." Holding it "together" seems to help it heal.

    "What the fuck…" I mutter. Tears run freely down my cheeks as their terror and pain still seep through our [Bind].

    I pull Hana towards Roxanne so that the three of us can sit down and continue hugging while [Spirit Touch] does its work. I take off my gloves and our helmets so that we can touch our heads together and get some skinship going.

    Aoi doubles back and runs towards us at full speed, reaching us after only a minute, while Alissa and Lina take a few more. Alissa crouches behind me and runs her fingers through my hair, easing my pain.

    Ciel's [Holy Spirit] was left behind after their summoning, so she dismisses it and creates a new one. Its cute little feet crawl all over our bodies, imparting a small dose of happiness.

    Roxanne relaxes and finally releases her staff from her death grip. Hana recovers from her stunned state and starts crying.

    "That was so mean…" Hana moans and sniffles.

    "What was it?" I ask, gently.

    "That… monster… used the image of my Mom. It made her say horrible things about me, Dad, and my siblings."

    "That was just… evil," Roxanne mutters.

    "That sounds like an even stronger version of a Weeper," Ciel says.

    "I couldn't understand what you girls were seeing. It seems like it attacked your senses on a deeper level than what [Bind] can show me," I say.

    Roxanne rubs her head against mine, making her floppy and squishy horns tickle me. I turn my head to the side and kiss her forehead. Hana notices what we're doing and rubs her head on me, too, so I also give her a kiss.

    "Neither the Holly nor the Shad saw anything," I continue.

    "And my [Holy Spirit] couldn't do anything," Ciel says with a sigh.

    "I don't think that we can fight that one," Alissa says.

    "It seems like every monster around here is invincible or impractical to kill," Lina says.

    "That's what 'survival horror' is all about," I say.

    "Video games?" Alissa asks.

    I nod, and Ted answers, "Survival horror is a sub-genre of video games that focuses on the survival of the character as the game tries to frighten players with either horror graphics or scary ambiance. The player is made to feel less in control than in typical video games through limited ammunition, health, speed, and vision, or through various obstructions of the player's interaction with the game mechanics."

    "Sounds similar to what we're facing," Yunia says.

    "I can barely understand what he's talking about," Aoi says, almost proudly.

    I smile wryly and extend a tail-hand to pat her head.

    "At least we didn't piss ourselves," Hana says in a low tone and snorts depressingly.

    I pat her head, then give her a painful tug on her ear.

    "Ahn…" She softly moans sensually.

    "Don't look down on yourself, okay? These monsters aren't the kind that fights fair, if we can even call those horrible abilities a 'fight,'" I say.

    She grunts and looks away, then her lips curl into a small pout.

    I build up my resolve and breathe in, then I look at the other girls and say, "Alright… we need a plan to deal with that thing."

    "Do we have to go there?" Yunia asks.

    "It's our best clue about where to go next," Alissa says.

    "Maybe you should use summons to explore the mansion," Lina suggests.

    "It seems that it did some spirit damage to them. Summons are more vulnerable to that than normal humanoids due to the lack of free will," Yunia says.

    Lina looks down, disappointed. "Oh… well, that's a problem."

    "I'll go, alone," Alissa says.

    "I'll go, too. The Weepers barely had an effect on me," Lina says.

    Alissa looks at Lina and considers her proposal, but she doesn't seem inclined to accept it.

    "Are you sure you two will be okay? Your parents… uh…" I look away and regret speaking; it'd be too rude to say it.

    "What…? Wolfy, please say it," Alissa asks, earnest.

    I cringe and look her in the eye. "Your parents sold both of you. Are you sure that the monster won't be able to use that against you?"

    Lina frowns and looks down, deep in thought.

    "My parents had no choice. It was a deal made many generations before their time," Alissa calmly answers.

    "But don't you have any bad memories of them? Like, some jealousy from your sister because she wasn't the chosen one, or something you did that disappointed them once?"

    "I don't think that I should go anymore," Lina says in a low tone.

    "Hm…" Alissa pats her head and hums.

    "I never knew my parents, so I think I should be fine," Ciel comes forward.

    "But I can't pull you out since you don't have [Bind]," I say.

    She shows a guilty smile and innocently asks, "Remove someone and give it to me?"

    Lina's frown deepens and Alissa freezes.

    "Is it really that good to be bound to him?" Yunia asks and raises her golden eyebrows as high as she can.

    "Yes…?" Alissa tentatively answers and smiles.

    Lina starts fiddling with her thumbs and says, "We are all truly together because of the [Bind]. It makes me feel safe."

    Roxanne sneaks her arms around my neck and closes her eyes. "Our feelings bleed into each other occasionally, so we can all feel each others' hearts when we need it the most."

    "Remove mine," Lina says and comes over to me. "I'm the one who's been bound for the shortest time, so I won't miss it as much."

    "Alright," I say in a low tone and obey.

    Losing my connection with her makes me feel odd, like being in a room that's darker than what you're used to. It'll take some time to adjust to it.

    Lina grabs her heart and bites her lip. "It really does make me feel 'empty,'" she says and walks away. Alissa gives her a hug and pats her head.

    Ciel comes forth and breathes deeply.

    "Alright, here we go," I say and cast [Bind].

    I pull her soul into mine and release it. Her "string" appears in my mind space, and I pull on it, spilling her "blanket" all over. I hold it all and "dive" into it, searching for her "mental voice."

    Her early memories have the same dull color as many of Lina's. Then they gain color when she starts fighting monsters and healing people. Their vividness becomes almost life-like when a tall, handsome black man appears. His body is the definition of perfection, and his smile is so bright that he could be a model for toothpaste. Thankfully, she never saw his dick uncovered by his underwear.

    Must be Macht.

    I'm not gay, but damn, son… he makes me feel a little inadequate, until I remember how much I've corrupted her.

    Actually, I'm sorry Macht, I've corrupted our brown angel beyond recovery.

    Her memories of him suddenly cease, then they become darker than any before them.

    I finally recognize myself near the end, and all of the colors slowly come back, along with their vividness.

    I finally reach the area where her inner voice resides. She's humming a very faint lullaby that calms my heart.

    "Ciel?" I ask.

    "Oh! Hello, Wolfy," she responds in a chipper tone. "This feels so odd, you're inside my mind. Wait, don't turn this sexual…"

    "I love you," I say, and she responds with incoherent mumbling as her mind flinches from my sudden attack.

    I grab her inner voice, then I bring it back with me into my soul space.

    "You're ready now," I say and grin at her.

    She nods shyly and sighs.

    "I love you, too," she answers and gushes a little, making me grin.

    "So, are we sure about how the monster will attack her mind?" Yunia asks.

    "There are many other people it could've used to frighten me. If it picked my Mom, then it was for a special reason," Hana says.

    "I think I have an idea about what that monster represents," Lina says and pushes a letter into my hands. It's the one that she got from the locked drawer at the mayor's office.

    I unfold it, and the girls huddle up around me, then I read it out loud for them.



    My dear Onora,

    I dreamed about you yesterday. We were in the Astral Observatory during the day. Countless flowers were arranged around us, filling the room with their perfume. Your purple lips caressed my skin with your angelic touch, and my fingers massaged the inside of your moist womb. Your moans of pleasure sounded heavenly and ethereal as the sun touched your blessed cinnamon skin, elevating your beauty to divine standards.

    Your lips moved down to…



    "Okay, this is just an erotic letter," I say and frown towards Lina.

    "R-read the bottom part," she says, shyly.

    "Huh, the way he used 'angelic' is weird. I've never heard of it being said to a non-Angel-type demon before," Roxanne says.

    "I've heard it once," Yunia says and smiles nostalgically. I bet she's remembering crushing that man's dreams when she rejected him.

    "Anyway, here's the good stuff," I say.



    I can't stand The Lady anymore. She nags me for attention, but how could I give it to her in good will? That bloodsucker took my youth and gave me nothing in return. My daughter ignores me, my son hates me, her father thinks me a coward, her mother tries to 'educate' me, and now even the help laughs behind my back!

    What do I even have in my life that brings me happiness? Not even my job is worth all the stress anymore. I've lost my yellow keycard, and nearly everyone on the station stopped working while trying to find it. The Chief of Security only didn't strangle me because I'm the mayor; otherwise, I'm sure he would've even tried to kill me! We've been sent to a colony full of savages!

    Let us meet again at the Wigwam. I long for your…



    "He's thirsty," I say.



    I'm ready to abandon it all. Let The Lady drown in her own hateful spit. She will not drain any more of my money! I'm taking it all with me, let us elope!



    "Okay, this is weird, but… somehow, I already knew that his wife was called 'The Lady,'" I say.

    Roxanne and Hana blink blankly.

    "Didn't we already give it that name?" Hana asks.

    "No… we didn't," I answer and scratch my head. "It seems like The Lady's power is rather subtle."

    Roxanne grimaces and rests her head against mine again. "I really don't like the way that it messed with my head…" She says and her voice cracks as she's about to cry.

    I give her head plenty of kisses. "We'll get through this."

    Ciel crouches in front of us and smiles at Roxanne. "I'll deal with The Lady, and everything will be fine."

    Roxanne pouts a little. "You're treating me like a kid again," she says and sniffles.

    "I want to be pampered, too," Hana says and chuckles softly.

    I get up and offer my hands to help each of them stand up.

    Aoi folds her wings tight and pushes against my legs with her head. "Mount me, I'll carry you three there," she says.

    Alissa hides her face, but [Bind] never lies, she's jealous.

    We take up her offer and mount her. Hana is a natural at this and looks the most comfortable on Aoi's back, but not me or Roxanne. I don't look that imposing due to the mismatch in size. Roxanne looks like a Lady, I look like her son, and Hana looks like our knight.

    One day, I'll fix my image…

    "Your place is on top of me, anyway," Alissa says, and I agree with both meanings.

    "Let's move," I order.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Cidant.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Brennon Goetz.
    Lord Amelgar.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Evil.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble Geminus.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Nobleman Lassiter.
    Noble Aclys.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2020
  4. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    Gify gives us a massage to finish our treatment for "broken heart" and helps us get back into fighting shape.

    "Are you sure we should go straight back to the mansion? Shouldn't we investigate the Mayor's Office a bit more?" Yunia asks.

    "What, scared?" I ask with a cheeky grin.

    "Me? Scared of a monster that uses your own fear of your parents to drive you insane? Ohohohoh, of course not!" She exclaims and shows an angry smile.

    "But you're not even going into the mansion," Ciel says, confused.

    Yunia clenches her fist and frowns. "My [Disruption Field] could be useful against The Lady," she says.

    "Ooh… how does that spell work, anyway?" I ask.

    "First, I draw a circle of blood on the ground, then, when someone enters it, I can disrupt their flow of mana and prevent them from casting spells. I can even kill magical beings if I disrupt them strongly enough."

    "Hm… that's quite a useful ability. Couldn't Ciel carry a vial of your blood and make the circle herself, then?"

    "I still have to be close to it to activate it."

    "Oh…"

    "'Oh' indeed." She smiles wryly and sighs.

    "Anyway, there wasn't much in the Mayor's Office from what they saw. In fact, the only room that seemed to be fully furnished was the mayor's personal office," I continue, and Alissa nods.

    "You could send in a Holly to investigate. The guards didn't seem to react to her," Lina says.

    "Good idea."



    We enter the Residential district and start sneaking. We don't want to risk drawing the attention of the Possessed Mannequins.

    With everything made of concrete, the streets have a rather modern air to them. All that's missing is the black asphalt and we'd be set. There aren't any sidewalks or obvious lanes, but everywhere except for the middle of the street seems worn-out, indicating some form of separation of the flow of traffic.

    The buildings are mostly apartment complexes, but there's still a large amount of empty space above them, so this district doesn't feel claustrophobic like the administration corridors did. Every once in a while, we see a dead green space, but it's still mostly a concrete jungle.

    There are a few windows in the ceiling letting in some light, but they are far too few to properly illuminate the entire district, creating a very moody atmosphere.

    "This place looks similar to my town back on Earth," I comment.

    But it reminds me more of Brazil than Canada since every house is gated.

    "Your home isn't a very pretty place," Yunia says.

    "Polished rock is better, but these concrete buildings are really nice," Lina says.

    "Really?" I ask.

    She nods emphatically and says, "If only the air weren't so stale and we had more illumination, then this would be a good place for dwarves to live in."

    "Ho~h. I can't even fathom how dwarves are capable of living in such small and closed off places," Yunia says.

    "An elf that doesn't understand the coziness of a small and sturdy house is just another monster for the Lord," Lina says and shakes her head.

    The two share a brief glare without any mean feelings behind it.



    We give the shopping center a wide berth, but we still end up encountering a mannequin standing still in the middle of the street.

    "I can't sense their presence," Alissa whispers, worriedly.

    "Don't make any loud noises, they seem to react to sound," I whisper, and we cautiously continue forward.

    Roxanne shows her tongue to the mannequin as we pass by it.

    "I think I can use [Chain Life] on them if they start to move," Yunia says.

    "Good, I have a feeling that we'll need it," Hana says and chuckles nervously.

    As we walk deeper in, the district starts to become mossy and ruined, but even more so than when Hana and Roxanne passed through here previously.

    "We are too loud," Alissa says as we pass by another mannequin.

    "I'll store Jarn for now," I say.

    The other two golems can float, so they never make that much noise.

    "I can try to fix that," Yunia says.

    Alissa grabs Lina and lifts the little dwarf onto her shoulders, surprising her, then she turns into a fox with Lina already on top of her.

    "That felt really weird," Lina says.

    "You must be more sensitive to mana, like Wolfy," Alissa says, then she turns to Yunia. "Just try to make Aoi and Ciel silent."

    Yunia nods and starts concentrating. Her fingers subtly move around, as if they were typing something. I feel mana gathering within her, then it starts to surround us before pooling closely around Ciel and Aoi. I stop sensing the mana right when I stop hearing their footsteps. Even the soft jingle of their padded armor vanishes.

    Ciel's mouth moves, but no sound comes out.

    That spell must be really useful for assassination.

    "I can't hear anything," Ciel says in my soul space.

    "I'll share my hearing with you, then," I reply.

    "This feels really weird," she says with a chuckle.

    I also notice a change in the volume of the sounds that we're making. With Alissa being completely silent, and Yunia barely making a sound, the loudest sound we're producing is when we move too quickly, making our armor jingle.

    It's fortunate for us that we have Yunia since the number of mannequins in the streets rises quickly.

    We avoid them all without a problem, then they suddenly stop appearing.

    "Are we safe, now?" Aoi asks in a low tone.

    "We aren't that close to the mansion yet," Roxanne says, and I nod.

    A few meters further in, our [Spirit Light]s illuminate a line of mannequins blocking our way.

    "Spoke too soon," Lina whispers dejectedly.

    I look to the side and see another line blocking our alternate path. Yunia suddenly looks behind us, and we follow her sight, then we see a third line of mannequins blocking our way.

    "Uh… those weren't there before," I say, and the girls frown.

    I look forward again and notice that the line has moved closer to us.

    Oh, Gods, no!

    I make Hana look behind us and have Roxanne look to the side. Now both of these lines have come closer, too.

    "Their webs of Life are coming closer whenever no one's looking at them," Yunia says.

    Ugh… does this count as plagiarism?

    There's a gate ajar beside us, so I guide the girls there. We enter the front garden of an apartment complex with a few dozen mannequins spread around.

    "Roxanne, watch the left; Lina, watch the right; Ted and Suzy, watch behind us," I order.

    We move close to the wall and circle around the building to the other entrance. Then we take the streets again and continue avoiding the mannequin blockades.

    Creepy-ass place. I'm starting to get tired of this shit.

    On a particularly dark street, the road suddenly curves in a way that I haven't seen before in this almost perfectly grid-like district. This place just doesn't make any sense, and now it's changing things up to mess with us.

    Down the curve, a blockade stops us, forcing us to double-back.

    Oh, boy…

    We don't get far before another blockade stops us. Now we are sandwiched between two walls of mannequins. There's no gate for us to escape this, but we can still climb the walls flanking us.

    Suddenly, our [Spirit Light]s blink, plunging us into darkness for a moment, and when they come back on, the mannequins have moved closer. Even the Hollys "blinked."

    Okay, we're getting into SCP territory now…

    "What is going on?" Alissa anxiously whispers.

    "Something is messing with our [Spirit Light]s," Ciel says, a hint of fear leaking into her voice.

    "We can't stay here," Yunia says and looks at me, starting to get desperate.

    "Climb up there," I say and point to a wall.

    "This will be… hard," Aoi says.

    "We'll dismount and cross over it on our own," I respond.

    "Okay."

    Alissa jumps across the wall with little difficulty, though she did make Lina scared for a moment. Yunia and Ciel quickly vault over top while we carefully dismount and use our abilities to cross over it. Roxanne, the golems, and I can simply float while Aoi and Hana have to use their wings.

    On the other side, Alissa is getting cornered by four mannequins as our [Spirit Light]s start flickering every few seconds.

    I keep my eyes on them as she runs around, then we run across a large dead yard and towards a gate that leads to another street. The few spread out mannequins follow us slowly due to the flickering of our lights.

    We exit onto the street, and the duration that our lights stay "off" increases, allowing the mannequins to move a longer distance with each blink.

    The blockades disappear, but they're replaced by mannequins sparsely spread out, forcing us to play a game of cat and mouse as we repeatedly dodge them.

    Then we see a single mannequin that gives me chills. Laying down in the middle of the street is a white baby doll with an oversized head, nearly half a meter long. Its body is covered with splattered blood.

    The light flickers, and it reappears a meter closer to us, now standing on its two chubby legs.

    "Uh~…" Ciel lets out a sound filled with anxiety.

    "W-wolfy…" Lina calls to me, sounding frightened.

    The light flickers again, and it comes even closer, now fallen on the ground with its face down, as if it had tripped.

    Okay, now this is plagiarism, right?

    "By the Gods, that's creepy," Alissa says.

    "I really don't like that," Yunia says.

    The light flickers once more, the time it stays "on" getting shorter still, and the baby reappears closer to us, now standing up again.

    "Fuck. That," I say, and order Roxanne.

    "[Ice Lance]," she casts, and the spell punts the doll far, far away.

    Our [Spirit Light]s dim, barely allowing us to see a meter ahead.

    "They are coming…" Yunia whispers, almost stunned.

    "Run," I order.



    The mannequins don't appear anymore in the streets, but now there's a group of them running after us. They start to catch up just as we near the mansion, but we have to shake them off if we want to explore it safely.

    Yunia casts a quick [Chain Life] on the ones leading the charge, quickly creating a pile as the mannequins fail to avoid the first ones that fell. Then Ciel casts a [Windstorm] to push the survivors away. This gives me an idea.

    "The alley!" I exclaim, and we take a detour. "Lina, close it!"

    She casts [Earth Wall], blocking the only entrance to it.

    We repeat that maneuver a few more times and then hide inside a house beside the mansion.

    Minutes pass, and we see no sign of the mannequins, allowing us to slowly relax. Our [Spirit Light]s gradually return to their previous brightness, a possible sign that the mannequins aren't after us anymore.

    Alissa sighs and lays down, tired of being in her fox form for so long. Ciel casts a [Refresh] on her, wiping away most of the tiredness. Aoi is just slightly tired; a dragon's stamina is truly impressive.

    This house is so comfy that I feel like stealing the sofas. Unfortunately, when I store them in my "Items," they simply disappear without creating another entry, then they grow back from a white sludge that oozes out of the ground.

    Once I deem us all rested enough, I get up and say, "Alright, it's time to deal with The Lady."

    Yunia suddenly jumps off of the sofa and stands up straight, frozen with tension.

    I get up and walk over to her. I stop right in front of her and look up at her face, then I grab her hand and remove our gauntlets, allowing our bare skin to touch eachother.

    I delicately caress her hand, with just the faintest touch of my spirit. She looks down at me, and her stern expression softens a little.

    "I'll use [Bind] on you so that I can summon you back to me the very moment you get caught by The Lady," I state.

    "No!" She exclaims and grips my hands, her blue eyes wide open in surprise.

    "Why?" I ask immediately.

    She bites her lip and says, "I'll… find the strength to resist her."

    "You didn't answer my question," I say in a calm tone.

    She looks away. "It's embarrassing."

    "Hm…?" I knit my eyebrows at her.

    Her tone lowers to almost a whisper. "I'm just… really scared…"

    "Well…" I hold back my grin and use a soft tone. "That's why I'm going to use [Bind]. To make sure that I can bring you back safely even if you don't resist her."

    "I feel like a child…" She mumbles.

    "Oh, hey. That makes two of us!" Roxanne says and grins.

    Lina shyly lifts her hands. "I'm also scared."

    "I almost pissed myself when I met The Lady, so…" Hana says with a wry smile.

    "I don't think you're helping," Ciel says to Hana and chuckles nervously.

    "It's not just that. With [Mask], I can always hide my fear, but it never works with you, and now you'll know exactly what I feel," Yunia says and anxiously looks at me from the side of her eye.

    I sit down on the sofa and make her sit beside me.

    "I promise that I won't make fun of your feelings," I say.

    "That's not re-…"

    "I'll also stop Roxanne from making fun of you," I interrupt her.

    "Okay, that's a bit better," she says and chuckles softly.

    "H-hey!" Roxanne complains.

    "I'll also take control of your bladder and prevent you from pissing yourself, just like I did for Hana," I add.

    "Wait, seriously?" Hana asks, her mouth hanging open.

    I just grin and don't answer.

    "That's a bit weird," Yunia says, and softly shakes her head while smiling.

    "I could possibly turn off your brain if you get caught by The Lady. Maybe even take control of your body and force you to walk away," I continue and rub my chin in thought.

    "Wolfy, stop," Ciel says and laughs along with the girls.

    Yunia awkwardly rubs her right ear while blushing slightly.

    Laughing is always good for lightening the mood and reducing tension.

    A few awkward silent seconds pass, then she breathes in deeply and straightens her posture. "Alright, I'm ready," she says.

    I look at Roxanne and smile apologetically. "I'm sorry, but I'll have to remove your [Bind] for now," I say.

    She pouts and her dagger-tail points towards me threateningly. "I demand compensation."

    "I only have my body to offer," I say and lower my head.

    "Then I'll only need your hands," she says and grins excitedly.

    "Disappointing…" I whisper, then I nod and say, "But I accept."

    "Hmph!" She points her chin up snobbishly like Yunia.

    "I think she's making fun of me," Yunia whispers and narrows her eyes.

    I poke Roxanne's soul, and she yelps, then I release her from the [Bind] before she can retaliate.

    "Awn…" Roxanne deflates, and Hana, Lina, and Aoi start to console her.

    I turn to Yunia and cast [Bind]. "Here we go," I say, and she tenses up.

    I grab her soul and drop it into my soul space, then I pick up her blanket and dive in.

    I see a cute little elven princess having a privileged childhood, then her training starts, and she slowly becomes more and more responsible. I see how dearly she loves her parents and how happy she was with them.

    I also see a countless number of faces. Servants, friends, classmates, teachers, commoners, and many others. Then a face stands out: an androgynous elven boy, her first love. A pure and heartwarming love. The marriage proposal happens, and they drown in each other's bodies.

    Then things suddenly turn sour. She loses all hope in her parents, breaks off the engagement, and retreats into a shell with only her brothers. Then I kill her parents, and everything goes gray.

    The last few memories she has of us are so short that I can only get a brief glimpse, but that's not enough to say how well she's recovering. Then I find her inner voice.

    "Yunia?" I ask.

    "Ah!" She yelps, and a wave of anxiety hits me.

    Things start to go dark, and her mind starts to squeeze down on me. She's rejecting me.

    "Remember to breathe," I say.

    I look at her in real life and see that she's biting her lip while her hands are shaking.

    The pressure increases, and I get restless as her anxiety becomes too disruptive.

    "You're rejecting me," I say.

    She closes her eyes and breathes in, but it doesn't help.

    "I feel weird," she says in real life.

    Suddenly, the anxiety and the pressure are gone, then I start to feel lethargic. I lose the motivation to act, and it takes a lot of willpower to make myself grab her inner voice and pull it back into my mind space.

    Once I'm back, the lethargy instantly goes away. I look her in the eye and hear the ringing of glass. She's using [Mask] again.

    "I'm sorry. This is the only way that I could calm myself," she says, feeling my slight disappointment.

    "It's… fine. Now, go with Ciel," I respond.

    She nods, and the two of them depart.

    Yunia didn't learn how to control her emotions to not let them bleed through the [Bind]. [Mask] has only diminished the intensity of her emotions. She's "numbing" herself to the world, allowing her to use her will alone to drive her actions.

    The lethargy I felt must've been the [Mask] starting to take effect. And if that's how it feels to use it, then it must be really tiring to keep it up for a long time.



    The mansion had its windows boarded shut when Roxanne and Hana first came here, but now, almost all of them are broken. The mansion itself seems like it aged a hundred years, with blotches that are either dirt or blood staining most of its surface.

    "This station gets even creepier the more we explore," Ciel comments, and Yunia nods stoically.

    They cautiously open the double door at the entrance, making it creak loudly, then stare into the main hall, wary of any movements.

    "I'll start to set up over here," Yunia says.

    "Alright…" Ciel says, a little tense.

    The hall is wide and open, devoid of any furniture. There's only a wide staircase that splits in two halfway up to the second floor and doors to the other corridors of the mansion.

    "How dull," Yunia whispers.

    "Everything around here is dull," Ciel whispers.

    "True."

    The white tiled floor is completely covered in dust, making it look rather gray.

    Yunia cuts her hand with a dagger and lets the blood drip all over the hall. Ciel goes upstairs and takes a right turn, towards The Lady's room.

    Satisfied with the amount of blood spilled everywhere, Yunia starts making a large, uninterrupted circle of blood in the middle.

    Ciel powers up her [Spirit Light] and makes her [Holy Spirit] walk beside her. She draws her shortsword since her glaive is too long for these narrow corridors.

    A tense minute goes by as Yunia continues her work, and Ciel cautiously walks forward. Beads of sweat start to form on her forehead due to the tension; her sword arm trembles, making her armor rattle slightly; and her jaw shivers, making her teeth begin to chatter.

    Her anxious breathing sounds a bit loud amid the complete silence of the mansion; her slow, quiet steps become quick, heavy stomps; the soft jingle of her armor now seems like the scraping of a wire brush against a wall; her heart is beating so fast that she feels it slamming against her rib cage.

    Yunia starts to walk away from her circle of blood, but she suddenly freezes in place, and her head snaps to the balcony. Her [Mask] instantly breaks, and she shrieks in terror.

    "CIEL, GO BACK! SHE'S AT THE LEFT WING!" I yell through [Bind].

    Ciel sucks in a sharp breath and starts a mad dash back to the main hall.

    Yunia runs in the opposite direction of The Lady, fleeing towards the right wing of the first floor. She crashes into a room and hurriedly closes the door, then locks it shut. She drops to her knees, and five sharp claws burst through the door a few centimeters above her head.

    "HYAAAAAAAAAH!" Yunia shrieks and falls down on her ass.

    The Lady starts to hack at the door, making splinters and chunks of wood fly everywhere. She opens a hole, then looks through it.

    "YUNIA! LISTEN TO ME!" I yell through [Bind].

    Yunia stands still, frozen in shock.

    "YUNIA, CIEL NEEDS YOU! YOU NEED TO GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!" I plead to her.

    The Lady grabs the rough edges of the hole and pries it apart, making the door crack.

    Ciel jumps off of the balcony and lands in the main hall, then she sees The Lady down the corridor.

    "I'M YOUR OPPONENT, YOU HATEFUL WOMAN!" Ciel bellows.

    The Lady turns her gaze away from Yunia, allowing her to breathe again, and stares at Ciel.

    Her [Spirit Light] and [Holy Spirit] shine like the sun, working hard to repel the hate of The Lady trying to break her heart.

    "HRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII!" A shrill wail hurts Ciel's ears and stuns her for a moment.

    Yunia goes limp on the floor, catatonic.

    "YUNIA! WAKE UP! GET UP! CIEL NEEDS YOU!" I try to force her to move, but she's resisting the [Bind].

    Ciel recovers, then she sees the five long claws rushing towards her. She activates [Wind Shield], and The Lady is pushed back.

    Gify, hit me with the good stuff.

    Gih!

    Visions of dragons mating, killing, eating, and flying fill my mind. Power, glory, majesty, confidence, these feelings fill me with endless energy. My dick tries to escape out of my armor, but I control my lust, then I redirect all of my feelings towards Yunia.

    I don't know how to cast [Disruption Field], I need her to wake up!

    "YUNIA, GET UP! CIEL NEEDS YOU! I NEED YOU…! WE… NEED… YOU…!"

    Yunia trembles, the overwhelming energy of my emotions stunning her for a second.

    "Okay," she responds and gets up. "I'M COMING TO GET YOU, YOU LOATHSOME GRUDGE-FESTERING MASS OF EXISTENTIAL IMPOTENCE!" She bellows.

    Ciel trades blows with The Lady, but her body is completely incorporeal, except for her claws and her eyes. The only thing that affects her is Ciel's [Wind Shield], for some reason.

    Yunia races down the corridor and The Lady turns to her. Instead of stopping, Yunia seemingly speeds up and yells, "I KILLED YOU ONCE, I'LL KILL YOU A THOUSAND TIMES, MOM!"

    Then she leaps and lands with her hand on the circle of blood.

    A storm of mana suddenly appears and wracks through both The Lady and Ciel. The [Spirit Light] and the [Holy Spirit] disappear, the [Wind Shield] stops working, and The Lady shrieks, almost stunning Yunia and interrupting the [Disruption Field].

    A naked crone with sickly, pale skin and hair, and a half-rotten, half-skeletal body suddenly becomes visible. Her nails are long, wickedly sharp claws caked with blood. Her hair thankfully covers most of her hideously twisted face.

    "GET HEE~R!" I order Ciel.

    She doesn't waste a second before driving her sword through the crone's heart. A heavy tension suddenly lifts from my shoulders, making me notice how tired I really am. Ciel and Yunia suddenly calm down, their minds are confused, but their hearts are light, now freed from the cold grip of The Lady.

    The crone goes limp and falls backward on the floor.

    Alissa frowns. "I can sense her now, and she's not dead yet," she says.

    Oh boy.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
     
  5. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    "AHAHAHAH…! WOO!" Yunia cheers out loud. She's feeling so horny right now that she'd even like to be choked while being fucked by me.

    Ciel laughs more conservatively, still a little terrified by The Lady to put a lot of energy in her cheering.

    "She's not dead yet," I say through [Bind].

    The laughter stops.

    Ciel jumps forward and grabs the sword, then twists it. Yunia draws a dagger and leaps forward, then stabs The Lady repeatedly in the eye sockets.

    "Let's go help them," I say, and we rush out of the house.

    The Lady's wounds aren't actually bleeding, but it's still gruesome to see what they're doing.

    Then they notice that The Lady hasn't even reacted, so they stab her shoulders to stop her arms and her claws from moving.

    We burst into the mansion, and I summon an earth elemental.

    "Drop onto her! Stop her from moving!" I order.

    The tall and heavy elemental with black hair and bangs stomps over to The Lady. Ciel and Yunia jump away, taking their weapons with them, then the elemental throws itself on top of The Lady, squashing her entire body against the tiled floor.

    We stand still for a long minute, wary of any sudden movements.

    "Is she really not dead?" Hana asks.

    "It seems so," Alissa answers.

    Yunia nods and says, "Her Life is still going strong, but for some reason, her body doesn't move." She wants to say that we should run away, but then she feels ashamed of being so weak. "She might be a magical being. I'll try to destroy her with [Disruption Field]," she adds. She's bitter and wants to take revenge on The Lady for the terror that she inflicted upon us.

    I nod towards her, and she touches the circle of blood again, restarting the mana storm. The storm is focused below the elemental, only enveloping The Lady's body, but it still chips away at the elemental's health.

    Another minute passes, and nothing seems to change with The Lady, so Yunia sighs and stops. She's feeling useless.

    "Is she a monster or a humanoid?" I ask Alissa.

    "A monster, and a kind that I've never seen before," she answers.

    "I'll destroy her body with [Firestorm]," Roxanne suggests.

    "Do it," I accept.

    While still squashed by the elemental, Roxanne turns The Lady into a pile of ash, but she still doesn't die.

    I look into her soul and see a mana organ twice the size of Roxanne's, with only about a tenth of it actually empty. Many other of her soul organs are similar to ours, but there's also just as many that I don't recognize.

    "Can we rupture her spirit?" I ask.

    Yunia shakes her head and answers, "A powerful enough Spirit mage can use [Soul Blade] for that, but I can't. There's also [Soul Rip], but that's a level eighty spell, and you said that your Gift only lets you see up to level forty."

    Well, damn. This bitch is immortal to us, then.

    "Wrap yourself around her, and pierce her heart and brain, then turn into a metal coffin," I order, and the elemental obeys. Changing stone into metal will take a lot of mana, so I walk towards it to feed it some more.

    Alissa suddenly holds my hand. "It's dangerous to get close," she says.

    I don't agree with that, but I don't feel like arguing, so I make the elemental extend a part of its body to me, then I feed it from a distance.

    I get an idea. "Maybe it's time-based…" I mumble, and Alissa looks at me oddly. "Maybe she'll regenerate after a set amount of time."

    "Oh! That's horrible!" Yunia exclaims. She checks her bladder and feels horrified once she notices that she could wet herself.

    "Let's… explore this area as fast as we can, then?" Roxanne nervously suggests.

    I agree, and Yunia cries internally, but obeys me without complaint. She remembers that I can listen to her inner voice and lets out a string of garbled elven curses that she tries to suppress.

    "I think that I should probably remove your [Bind] now," I say.

    She agrees emphatically and feels like giving me a kiss, but then the image of her kissing the tip of my dick appears clearly in her mind. She blushes and tries to suppress her horniness by slapping her face, but that just reminds her of the time that I fucked her brains out before we met Silvane.

    She falls to her knees and buries her face in her hands. Her pride is wounded from not being able to control herself. She feels humiliated, but that's her kink and something she'd never shown to anyone before, even her past fiancé.

    She wants to be forcefully stripped and fucked on the dirty floor like the filthy elf slut th-…

    I release her from [Bind].

    I walk forward and crouch down in front of her. "I'm sorry. I should've released you sooner," I say and pat her helmet.

    She shakes her head, but doesn't say anything. She lowers her visor and gets up, then walks towards the stairs. "Let's go," she says, trying to sound strong, but I notice a slight tremble in her voice.

    The girls stare blankly, confused.

    I smile wryly at them. "I heard something that she didn't want to share," I say.

    Roxanne almost says something, but holds herself back. I walk over to her and restore her [Bind].

    "You can re-[Bind] Lina, too," Ciel says, and I nod.



    Hana and Roxanne had explored a good part of the mansion, so we move quickly to explore the rest.

    Alissa opens the mayor's office with her green keycard, and we search every centimeter of it.

    "He's quite the prolific erotic writer," Roxanne comments as she reads his unsent letters.

    "Onora is quite lewd, too," Ciel adds as she reads the letters that he received. "And there are lots of mentions of the time that they spent in a lighthouse by the sea."

    "Oh, this one's good," Roxanne says and taps the last letter. "He thinks that he lost his keycard at this 'Wigwam.' He wanted to ask her to find it for him since he thinks that he's being watched by The Lady."

    "I guess that we have to find that place now," Alissa says.

    We also find a key inside a locked drawer that's labeled as "keycard workshop," though it's not for the door to the workshop. Welp, that's ominous.

    Unfortunately, the office doesn't have any other useful information for us. That leaves The Lady's room as the last place to search.

    "I'll go first," Ciel says once she notices our hesitation.

    After a few moments of nothing happening, we get over our fear and walk through the door.

    We see a large and refined room, full of furniture decorated with intricate details and gold inlays. By the wall, there's a lustrous set of metal armor on a stand and a painting of a man and a woman hugging each other with a familiar lighthouse in the background. The man's face has been scratched beyond recognition, and the woman's is covered with a black blotch of paint.

    Yunia shows a satisfied expression as she sits on the red velvet chair and grabs the empty glass of wine on the side table. She swirls it, as if it was filled with expensive alcohol, and downs it, then chuckles at her own silliness.

    "I understand very well how she lived," She says.

    "Same," Roxanne comments as she looks into the large closet filled with expensive dresses.

    "Oh, this is interesting," Alissa says as I translate the contents of a letter she found. It's from Onora.



    My dear Emmett,

    Our time together has been wonderful. I've never been happier than when I'm by your side. My only wish is that this lasts for the rest of our lives.

    I don't mind your relationship with The Lady; I know how important she is to you and your career, so I pray that your marriage stays strong. I truly believe that you two can improve things. It'll take a lot of work, but don't lose hope, I'll support you all the way!

    With that said, I have something that I must tell you personally. Something wonderful has happened to me; it won't change our relationship, but it's important that you know about it.

    Come meet me at the Wigwam, I'll be in our usual room.



    Below the letter, there's a map with the location of the Wigwam. The handwriting is different from Onora's, so it's likely to be The Lady's.

    "This doesn't look good," Hana says.

    Lina finds another letter. No address or sender, very suspicious.



    We've found information on your person of interest: an engineer who works at the Control Station, in the main room, specifically. More information will come soon.



    "This really doesn't look good," Hana repeats.

    Alissa looks around the room. "There's a weapon missing," she says and points to an empty weapon stand.

    "Looks like it was used to hold a polearm," Ciel says.

    "Hopefully this scenario isn't based on a real one," I say, solemnly.

    "Hopefully," Ciel repeats.

    There's still no movement inside the elemental coffin, and we don't find anything else that might be important in this room, so we hurry out of the mansion. We leave without a problem and let out a collective sigh of relief.

    We already have our next target, the Wigwam, but we're late for lunch, so I open a [Gate] back to our ship.



    I simmer not-tomatoes, vinegar, sugar, salt, and not-pepper until a thick, jam-like mixture forms and all the liquid evaporates. I sieve it twice for extra creaminess, then I stir in a small amount of Worcestershire sauce.

    There, ketchup.

    "Hmm… interesting taste," Alissa says after tasting a drop.

    "Put it on fried Territuberem and it tastes heavenly. Or you can do this…" I say and pour ketchup on the steak.

    Hana and Aoi yelp in horror, Yunia's face goes blank, flabbergasted, and the rest of the girls frown.

    "Ew…" Alissa mumbles.

    I start chuckling. Some things stay the same, even across worlds.

    I cut the steak into slices and hand it to the girls. "Just try it once," I say, and they give it a chance.

    "I've committed a Sin," Hana says after swallowing.

    "No blasphemy," Ciel says, then she adds in a low tone, "but I agree…"

    Next, I just need a pineapple…

    "Okay, it's not bad, but it's weird," Yunia says.

    "Yes. Meat shouldn't be sweet, but why doesn't this taste horrible?" Aoi asks.

    "It's a mystery," I say with a shrug and hum a tune.

    The girls ignore me as they watch Lina put ketchup on the fried Territuberem. They hold their breaths when she takes a bite, and patiently wait until she swallows.

    She shifts her footing and looks around, uncomfortable at the attention she's receiving. "It's good," she shyly says.

    Nobody else put ketchup on their steak, but fried not-potato with ketchup was a success.



    "It's finished," Lina says and gives the repaired shield back to Aoi.

    I let a sigh escape me as I slowly return from a trance. The infinite blue is so mesmerizing that I wish that we could vacation around here for a few days.

    But all good things must come to an end.

    I turn Yunia's head towards me and give her a deep, long kiss. She runs her fingers through my hair, showing that her horniness hasn't gone away yet. I pull back slightly and give her lip a teasing bite, eliciting a soft giggle, then I give her one last peck.

    I lean forward and grab Lina's head, then I steal a kiss from her. Her tongue is smaller but more active than Yunia's. She craves the touch and attention, trying to get as much out of me as she can.

    I lift Lina and deposit her in the other chair, then I get up and start kissing each of the girls.

    Alissa is next, never wasting a chance for her to take a bite out of me. She's calm and gentle, and she always uses [Oral Technique] to maximize my pleasure. Hana gets excited and comes over to me. Her tongue is the one that dives the deepest into my mouth. Roxanne sneaks behind me and steals a kiss. She loves to slowly wrestle with me for dominance. Aoi patiently waits for her turn. She always wraps her tongue around mine as if she were giving it a blowjob. Then Ciel is last. She's gentle, but there's always a thirst behind it.

    "It's time to go," I order and open a [Gate] to the grounds of the mansion.



    The Wigwam is in the opposite direction of the mannequins, so I pull out Jarn since noise won't cause any problems for us anymore.

    As we walk, we notice that the streets are silent and eerie, even more so than usual.

    "I smell smoke," Alissa says.

    "Wait… is it from the mannequins that we burned?" Roxanne asks.

    "Those mannequins didn't smell like this. It's coming from up ahead."

    I'm a little surprised that they didn't start a fire in the district.

    All of the roads here are named, so it's easy for us to follow The Lady's map. They all have English names, too.

    I'm starting to get uncomfortable at how much this reminds me of Earth. Where did the dungeon get the details to make all of this? Unless, of course, it's a coincidence, and it's just copying Maplethorne's culture instead of Earth's.

    It doesn't take long for us to reach the Wigwam, but we only find disappointment there. The entire building has been burned to the ground.

    "Isn't everything made of concrete around here?" Hana asks.

    "Most of them are, but there are a few buildings here and there that are made of wood," I say.

    "Well, now what?" Roxanne asks.

    "It's a dead end…" I mutter and pout.

    "Do we have another lead?" Lina asks.

    "The Mayor's Office?" Alissa asks.

    "The Hollys haven't found anything noteworthy. There could be a keycard or something inside a drawer…" I say and shrug.

    "I can clear the ashes away from the ruins," Ciel says.

    Yunia nods in agreement and says, "There could be something buried under this."

    "I can help," Aoi volunteers.

    Ciel walks into the ruins and hums, deep in through, "Hm… I should be able to use [Windstorm] to push all the ashes away, and you could flap your wings to increase its power."

    "We're counting on you two," I say and nod.

    We hide in a nearby house as the two girls gather their mana. Just to be safe, I keep a Holly high above us in case this storm of mana that they're whipping up catches the attention of something.

    Ciel spends a long minute chanting, then she releases the spell without the damage component, creating a mini-tornado. The spell pulls the air into a whirlpool above the burnt ruins, sucking up all the ashes, then scattering them away from both us and the remaining debris. Aoi's flap of her wings adds some speed to the tornado, and it even starts to lift up small lumps of burnt wood.

    They use around a quarter of their mana, but they clear a lot of the rubble that was covering the ruins.

    Then I summon four goblins. "Search the ruins for anything interesting," I order.

    We take a small break and coach Aoi on how to use [Redirect Mana]. Since she doesn't have a system yet, she has to learn how to do that the hard way.

    It ends up being unsuccessful since she doesn't have a fully developed "soul muscle," which is a requirement to use the skill.

    While we wait, I let the Hollys explore the buildings around us. They all seem far emptier than the mansion, the Mayor's Office, or even this pile of rubble in front of us. It's like the Dungeon Master is saying that there's nothing over there, so we shouldn't waste our time searching them.

    The goblins find a lot of female underwear, so I have a little chat with them to reorder their priorities. If they weren't mana solidifications, then I'd have stored this amazing haul of goodies with glee.

    After a good half hour, a goblin suddenly raises his thin little arm in the air in triumph. He's found a yellow keycard.

    "Should we really turn on the lights?" Yunia asks.

    "What do you think would happen if we did?" I ask.

    "Possibly make the monsters more active, or it might make the zombies spread out everywhere."

    "It would make it harder to sneak into the Mayor's Office," Alissa adds.

    "If it does, then we'll just turn off the lights again," I say, and Yunia shrugs.

    We spend another half hour waiting and don't find anything else of interest, so I open a [Gate] to the closet in engineering. I store the golems in my "Items" for a moment so that I don't have to pay their mana cost to use the portal. I also leave a Holly here in the residential district, just to watch over the area.

    "Do you know how to operate this?" Roxanne asks.

    "No. Let's search the nearby rooms for information," I say, and we spread out.

    We spend a half hour slogging through reports, memos, and other documents, we find a manual and start to decipher it. It's almost a literal deciphering session since this station's engineers seem to love technical jargon and didn't leave a dictionary for all this bullshit.

    In the end, only Lina and I survive this challenge; the other girls all tap out and take a break.

    We understand that a start-up sequence is required to connect all of the wiring properly. Otherwise, certain areas won't connect, and if we then try to turn things on, a mana overload would happen, basically frying everything.

    There's no digital UI with all the information that you need on a single screen, so it takes us a combined effort to test the connections and check all the analog meters. The wiring that transfers mana to the lights is made of an alloy of silver and copper, so it's not super efficient mana-wise. The tools are also rather sensitive, and require some very controlled testing so that they don't produce false positives.

    The magic tools send a small amount of mana down the channel, then measure how long it takes for it to come back, and how much mana returns. It's basically a mana "ping." Because of how imprecise it is, it requires a specific order of measurements so that the results don't get garbled up.

    Lina sighs and lowers her mana sensing tool to the floor. She stretches and says, "How odd. These mana channels are so small and sturdy that I'm not even sure that they use something this well-made in the capital. But why did they make them like this if their tools were so much less precise? It would take so much more effort to build them this way."

    "Isn't this dungeon supposed to be set in the past?" I ask, and Lina scratches her head in thought, then I continue, "With the development of better tools, it became possible to reduce the quality of the mana channels."

    "Oh…" -She blinks blankly- "that's right. That makes so much sense."

    We finally finish up, and Alissa gives us the sitrep, "The station is in 'minimum life-support mode.' All the spare mana from the generator is being redirected to Looping Winds Control."

    "That's suspicious," I say.

    "Something bad is going on over there," Yunia agrees.

    "And if we return the station to the standard distribution of mana, something bad might come to us," I say.

    "Nah, we'll be fine," Hana says with a fearsome smile.

    "Yeah, we will, but it'll also force us to work harder," I respond.

    "Well, we don't really need to turn on the lights right now," Yunia says.

    "True, but then what should we do now?" I ask.

    "Let me explore the Mayor's Office building again," Alissa says.

    "Alright, I'll go with you and drop a new coordinate over there," I say.

    "If we don't find any other clues, then we might have to break into the keycard workshop, and it could be powered by the station's mana, so we might be forced to turn on the lights anyway," Lina says.

    "Now that could be really bad. We have no idea what will happen if we trigger the alarm," Yunia says.

    "It might be a required step, we also have a key that's clearly for something inside the workshop. One last challenge before we enter the Control room," I say.

    "Sounds fun," Roxanne says sarcastically.



    I ride Alissa to the Mayor's Office and drop a coordinate in front of the entrance. She casts [Ignorance] on herself and sneaks in.

    The Baby Brutes have returned to their respective floors, so she dances around their patrol patterns to avoid detection. Since a Holly has already checked anything not inside a drawer, Alissa wastes little time searching each room.

    "There's nothing here," comes the inevitable conclusion.

    Engineering is full of zombies, residential is full of mannequins and nothing else of interest, and administration is mostly empty. There's no other notable point of interest that we haven't fully searched yet. It's time to turn on the lights.

    I unsummon the earth elementals holding the doors to this room open and close them. Now that we have a yellow keycard, we can open them at any time.

    Then we discuss what we'll do next.

    "All systems ready. Turning on the lights," I order, and the girls obey.

    We pull the levers and average the mana distribution among all of the station systems. Everywhere, crystal lights turn on, clearing away most of the eerie atmosphere of the station. Then the zombies immediately start to spread out, each trying to grab the crystals in the ceiling.

    "It doesn't seem like they're healing," I say.

    "These crystals just produce light, they are different from a [Spirit Light]," Ciel says.

    "That's good to hear."

    Then it comes. We hear a low, long, high-pitched cry. It stops for a long moment, then it starts going again and repeats in the same pattern. It slowly becomes louder and louder. It turns into a horrifying wailing, then suddenly stops. After a few tense seconds, the Holly outside engineering sees it.

    A thin veil of red, pulsating flesh grows along the corridors and slowly makes its way towards our room. Once it touches a zombie, it spreads over their skin, covering them with a patchwork of flesh. These new zombies all turn towards our room, and I notice that their dull movements have become much faster and more dexterous.

    I explain what's happening to the girls and say, "I have a bad feeling about touching that thing."

    "We have to hurry, then," Yunia says.

    I nod in agreement and say, "It's time to break into the keycard workshop."

    The girls ready their weapons, and I open a [Gate] to the Mayor's Office.

    This area is open like the residential district, giving us an unobstructed view of the walls of the keycard workshop on the third floor. There's no reason to climb the stairs, so Lina uses [Earth Wall] to create a platform on the third floor for me to jump to. With [Telekinesis], it's a piece of cake to get up there.

    I summon an earth elemental and tell it to open a hole in the wall.

    A second after the elemental starts its work, a low siren starts to buzz, slowly gaining volume until it becomes so loud that it hurts our ears. Then it starts to lose volume, and a heavy tension falls on our shoulders.

    All the lights dim, nearly plunging us into darkness again; the walls become darkened with dirt and grime; cracks appear all over the station and threaten to break the buildings apart; blood stains and scribbles that almost seem like actual writing randomly appear everywhere; random noises of metal hitting metal resound all around us.

    "The guards, they are changing," Alissa says through [Bind].

    I enter the workshop and open a [Gate] to the girls, then they immediately cross through it.

    "No time to waste, get in position," I order, and we prepare for the worst.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
     
  6. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    I see a counter separating the small room, a few chairs, some shelves with documents, a basket full of white keycards, and a large metal box that looks like a copying machine, which I assume is the keycard worktable.

    Yunia takes off one of her gauntlets and lightly cuts her hand, then she starts making a strip of [Disruption Field] around the edge of the entire room. This way, she can disrupt anything that comes in while still allowing us to cast spells.

    I go to the counter and search for a manual; Hana takes position by the door, with Aoi by the wall; Lina goes to the worktable; and Ciel and Jarn will protect Alissa, Roxanne, and the doll golems.

    Gify pops out of existence. Things are about to get ugly.

    Lina finds a keyhole in the worktable and uses the mayor's key. She twists it, and its lid unlocks. There are a dozen levers and a glass plate, where a blank keycard can be placed.

    "They're coming," Alissa says.

    The sound of metal hitting metal gets louder, forming a horrifying cacophony. A mist that clouds even the Hollys' sight starts to spread from every direction towards the Office.

    Alissa's ears twitch, and she anxiously grips her bow harder. "Monsters are coming from all around the building," she says.

    Then I see something frightening that makes me freeze. A flayed person crawls forward on all fours. Below the knees and the elbows, its limbs have been replaced by rusty, chipped blades, and its face is somehow stuck in a creepy grin.

    The monster reaches our building and sinks its blades into the wall without a problem, then it starts to climb up, towards us.

    Alissa goes out through the hole in the wall and shoots an arrow at it from the safety of the platform. It dodges by jumping away from the wall, then it falls to the floor without taking any visible damage.

    The Flayed immediately continues forward and tries to climb up the Office again. Roxanne joins Alissa on the platform and [Explode]s its head. It falls to the floor again, and its exposed flesh starts pulsating, then it spreads out until there's only a thin veil of red, heaving flesh.

    With a nudge through [Bind], I tell Roxanne to cast a [Fireball] at it. The flesh easily catches fire, and we immediately hear faint shrieks coming from it.

    Lina tests all the levers, but nothing happens. Then, with her bare hands, she rips open a panel on the side of the worktable. She looks inside and sees crystals attached to the ends of the levers. It seems like a spell is cast to imprint the information into the keycard, and each crystal modifies that information in a specific way.

    "As I thought. The alarm severed the connection to the station's mana," Lina says through [Bind] because it's faster.

    "Can you use your mana on these crystals?" I ask.

    "Yes, but the keycard will be 'tainted' by my mana. It probably needs the specific type of mana that the station generates for it to work."

    "Find out where the connection was cut, and restore it manually."

    "Understood." She turns to the hole in the wall and orders, "Elemental, come to me!"

    We hear loud stomps coming our way from the corridor outside this room.

    "It's going to slam against the door!" Yunia exclaims.

    Hana leans against it and prepares for the impact. Aoi comes over to help and gets in position just as a fucking truck hits the heavy metal door and rips it off its hinges.

    The two girls are pushed back, but remain upright. Behind the door that they're holding back, a mass of muscles larger than the Baby Brute is trying to push against them.

    Its head is now oversized and veiny, just like the rest of its body. Its large mouth displays an impressive set of sharp teeth, and a long, thin tongue that drips with saliva. Both of its arms have sledgehammers embedded within them, and two smaller arms embedded with cannons have grown out of its back.

    The cannons point at us, and Yunia activates the [Disruption Field]. The monster's head immediately turns towards her, and its tongue shoots forward, stretching like a chameleon's.

    Yunia dodges sideways and cuts the tongue off. Aoi and Hana start to push the monster back with the help of the doll golems. Ciel launches a [Wind Blade] at its knee, nearly slicing its leg off while forcing the Adult Brute to fall down.

    The mist reaches the building, reducing our visibility, but Alissa can still fire her arrows just through using [Sense Presence]. However, Roxanne now has to wait for the monsters to get close; I don't have the mental capacity to guide her right now. Lina smashes open the wall and the floor beside the worktable, searching for the mana channel that normally feeds it.

    The Brute's tongue tries to unite with the severed end, but Yunia kicks it away, then the girls close the door, severing the tongue again. The Brute gets up and starts hammering against it; if it keeps going at this pace, the door will barely hold for a minute.

    The two pieces of the Brute's tongue flail about wildly, trying to reconnect with the rest of their body.

    The Flayed start crawling up all over the outer walls of the Office. Our room is in one corner of the building, so it has two exterior walls. Alissa and Roxanne can only see down one of them since the other is out of view of the platform.

    "A second Brute is charging!" Yunia warns.

    "THROW THE DOOR AT IT!" I order and continue searching for a manual.

    The doll golems charge up their [Telekinesis], Ciel prepares a powerful [Wind Hammer], and Hana readies an [Earth Bullet] while Aoi holds the door back by herself.

    "ON MY MARK!" Yunia yells.

    The second Brute crashes against the first.

    "NOW!"

    All of our spells are released at the door, taking both Brutes with it and launching them back down the corridor. The tongues roll out of the room after the brutes. Then I summon a metal elemental and order it to replace the door.

    The Flayed reaches the wall that Alissa and Roxanne can't see, then it starts slicing through the stone, carving out a hole into the room.

    Oh, fuck.

    "THEY ARE OPENING A HOLE IN THIS WALL," I yell and point.

    "Jarn! Copy me!" Ciel orders, then she stands in front of the new hole and starts stabbing through it. Jarn copies her, and they stop the Flayed from breaking in.

    "THEY'RE SWARMING US!" Alissa yells.

    Roxanne summons a [Water Spirit]. Her control of it isn't perfect, but it's still helpful.

    Our time is running out.

    I finish searching the counter and start looking through the shelves. Lina has finally found the crystal that cut off the mana channel to the worktable. She pulls out her enchanting table and starts modifying it.

    "A THIRD IS COMING! IT MIGHT COME THROUGH THIS WALL!" Yunia yells and points.

    Hana and Aoi get in position, ready to give it a proper greeting. The metal elemental gets hit by a ball of light and loses a chunk of its health. It decides to dodge, otherwise, it'll quickly disintegrate before the Brutes reach it.

    Ciel's [Holy Spirit] jumps to the elemental and starts absorbing the incoming balls of light. It still consumes Ciel's MP, but it isn't much.

    The third Brute crashes against the wall. It nearly barrels through, but gets stopped by Aoi's and Hana's combined [Wind Shield]-powered shield bash. The doll golems grab large chunks of the concrete that broke off from the wall and start pummeling the Brute with them.

    They let the Brute step into the [Disruption Field] so that its cannons get disabled, and with two against one, the Brute doesn't manage to land a single attack.

    Yunia takes a chance and leaps forward, landing with a sharp chop that severs its right arm. I immediately get an idea and use [Telekinesis] to pull the arm to myself.

    The Brute's black tendrils try to steal it back, but they aren't fast enough. I drop the arm in front of me on the floor and open a [Gate] to outside the dungeon.

    The tendrils suddenly go wild for a second, then they stop moving. The arm also doesn't seem to be growing back.

    "SEVER ITS PARTS AND SEND THEM TO ME!" I order.

    "It's ready!" Lina yells. The keycard worktable lights up, and I feel a faint amount of mana escaping it.

    "Help! Jarn!" Alissa yells and pulls Roxanne back into the room.

    There are too many Flayed for the two of them to deal with on their own. Jarn and Lina dash over to them and start attacking the huge creepy crawlers swarming in.

    "[Water Wall]!" Roxanne casts at the hole and slows down their approach.

    I finally find the fucking manual tucked away at the bottom corner of the shelf. I frantically flip through the booklet, then I find something interesting. There's a drawing of the light spectrum. The keycard worktable simply prints a color to the card. Each lever is a number that when concatenated, creates an RGB code in base 7. Each of the three colors is controlled by three levers.

    A severed arm and head fly towards me, and I send them to the outside of the dungeon.

    The number is related to the frequency, so the higher the frequency of the chosen color in the light spectrum, the higher the number that I have to input through the worktable. Since we read the numbers from left to right, the leftmost numbers are the most significant, so they go first. Since I want a blue keycard, I just have to use the leftmost levers to get a blue color. Hopefully, a vibrant blue is the correct color to gain access to Looping Winds Control.

    The two other Brutes crash into the elemental and push past Yunia's [Disruption Field]. The doll golems and Hana switch to them to push them back into the Field. Roxanne immediately explodes their heads so that they can't see us, but it wasn't quick enough, and they fire at us once with their cannons.

    A ball of light hits Ciel in the back, and she shrieks. Her [Rainbow Shield] shines for a second, and her HP immediately decreases by ten. She turns around and gets ready to dodge the next shot, but she looks drowsy, and her movements are sluggish.

    Alissa dodges a ball of light and pushes Roxanne away from another. Jarn gets hit in the back by one of them, and a hole appears in her body/armor. The last ball of light hits the [Holy Spirit], who absorbs it.

    I grab a clear crystal tablet from the basket and set it on the glass plate. I input the code and immediately close the lid, then I pull the "on" lever on the side. Light and mana start to escape from the lid.

    I turn around and [Rush] towards the two Brutes. One is savagely pummeling the metal elemental in front of it, while the other is swinging wildly, distracted by the doll golems' attacks. The third Brute is almost completely disabled now that it's both armless and headless.

    A thin veil of flesh grows at a frightening speed towards us. It touches Lina and immediately begins to crawl up her leg.

    "AAAAH! IT'S BURNING!" She yells in pain and jumps back, but the veil of flesh continues to grow upwards along her limb.

    "AOI! BURN THE FLESH!" I order her through [Bind].

    Yunia casts [Soul Blade] and severs the legs of the Brute, finally fully disabling it. Aoi immediately flies towards Lina and sucks in a large amount of air.

    I reach the Brute currently fighting the elemental and slice at its arm, then I cast [Double Strike]. The wound penetrates deeply and reaches the bone, but doesn't sever it, its muscles are too thick, even with [Sharp Blades]. Also, I notice that the bits that made their heads are crawling back to their original place at a troubling speed.

    I crouch low to dodge its counter and slice at the back of its knee, then I use [Double Strike] again. This time, it cleaves all the way through, and the Brute falls down.

    Lina falls on the ground, holding her leg in agony as Ciel sprints over to her. Aoi spews fire, and the veil of flesh ignites into an inferno. Lina lifts her leg into the path of Aoi's fire breath, surprising her, and the leg immediately catches fire.

    Alissa draws her sword and parries a burning Flayed. Its strength is so great that it rips the sword from her hands. Before it can strike again, I cast a [Lightning Bolt] at it, then it becomes too burnt to move anymore.

    Ciel conjures water on Lina's leg, extinguishing the flame, then quickly casts a [Heal]. Lina stops crying in pain, then immediately gets up and charges, even though she's still not fully healed yet.

    I dodge a ball of light, then completely cut off the Brute's leg and send it out of the dungeon. Now, the nearly dead elemental can go on the offensive.

    Hana launches a sneak attack at the other Brute and cuts off both of its cannons with a single swing. It turns to counter her, but Yunia strikes at it from behind, cleaving its body in two with [Searing Blade].

    She drops her longsword and uses both hands to throw the Brute's lower body towards the [Gate]. With my [Telekinesis] nudging it a bit, it lands on the right spot.

    The doll golems turn to the Flayed, their two concrete bludgeons whistling through the air, crushing anything in their way. The battlefield quickly stabilizes in our favor as we push back the Flayed, stop the veil of flesh from growing, and disable the Brutes.

    After a dozen grueling seconds of carnage, the worktable dings, and the light turns off.

    "Aoi! I'm sending you to engineering to burn the flesh growing there!" I say through [Bind].

    "Understood!"

    I throw her the yellow keycard and open a [Gate] for her, then I rush to the worktable and retrieve the blue keycard. Once Aoi crosses through the [Gate], I open one under me to the door to Looping Winds Control.

    I slam the keycard against the glass card reader, and the door unlocks.

    "EVERYONE, CROSS THE [GATE]! ABANDON THE WORKSHOP!" I order through [Bind] and unsummon the metal elemental.

    Alissa relays my order to others, and they all immediately jump through it, arriving as a pile on the other side.

    "Horrible retreat! Get up immediately!" I order, then I feel a little guilty because I didn't even try to guide them with [Bind].

    The area around us is filled with a thick mist, and none of them want to stay vulnerable for a single second longer, so they all scramble to get up. Then Ciel finishes healing Lina before healing herself.

    We rebuild our formation, and Hana kicks the door open. Right on the other side, we can see that the floor is covered in a thin veil of pulsating, red flesh. Deep within the mist, we see three faint golden lights spread out in a line and a green one on top. They must be the crystals controlling the Looping Winds.

    "Hana, burn it," I order.

    She breathes in deeply, then spews a long plume of fire deep into the room.

    We hear a high-pitched shriek, similar to the one we heard when we turned on the lights. This one sounds more like a baby crying than the horrifying wail from before. Then the shriek fades away until it stops entirely.

    The flesh recedes from engineering, so I recall Aoi to us, and we wait. Hana's flame quickly spreads outwards like a wildfire, leaving only ash behind in its wake.

    "We have its attention, so we can't waste any more time, we have to go in," I say, and the girls nod.

    After a quick breather, we march inside.

    Once we're all in, the door suddenly slams shut, and the elemental acting as a coffin for The Lady cracks silently.

    "Oh, boy," I mutter.

    The cracks quickly increase in length, and I hurry us forward. We're on a long and wide metal platform, and due to the thick mist and ash, we can only see a few meters ahead.

    "Husks. Coming in fast," Alissa says and wrinkles her nose at the stench of rotting flesh.

    "Get ready to butcher them!" I encourage the girls.

    The elemental coffin breaks open, and it dies.

    The ash suddenly lifts and stays suspended for a second, then it flies back to the entrance. The mist clears a little behind us, and we see the ash gathering into the shape of a person, the shape of The Lady.

    "FUCK! RUN!" I order.

    A few seconds later, we reach a mob of husks covered in patches of red flesh. They're seemingly smart enough to jump over the flames.

    I draw my four daggers with my [Soul Manipulation] and start butchering. I slice and dice, carving a path along with the girls.

    In a fit of desperation, I summon two Corpse Stealers.

    "Dominate the husks!" I order.

    The blobs of dark slime each enter a husk and fight back the pulsating flesh. After a few seconds, they win and start controlling the husks, then they split and start spreading.

    That's it! I can counter this horde with a horde of my own!

    "PROTECT THE CORPSE STEALERS!" I order.

    I anxiously look behind me, but I don't see or feel The Lady coming.

    Two Corpse Stealers becomes four, then eight, then sixteen, then there are so many that we don't have to protect them anymore.

    We stop to watch the carnage and catch our breath. Faint lights coming from the wildfires shine through the mist around us, the ash and the smell of burnt flesh make it hard to breathe, and the heat starts rising, though we have [Breeze] to keep ourselves cool.

    The Corpse Stealers are more powerful than the pulsating flesh-powered husks, and their ever-increasing numbers are turning the tide in our favor.

    "The Flayed are coming from the left flank!" Alissa suddenly exclaims.

    We turn and get ready to attack. A Flayed appears before me from within the mist, then, suddenly, ten long claws cut it into ribbons.

    I suck in a breath and freeze.

    THE LADY!

    The claws suddenly disappear and reappear next to another Flayed, then she cuts it into ribbons, too. She disappears and keeps killing the Flayed, one by one.

    "S-she's killing the Flayed!" Alissa exclaims.

    "The Lady is helping us!" I exclaim.

    Then I see a pair of sinister, black eyes filled with scorn turn to me.

    Mommy is angry, very angry. She hasn't forgiven me for what I did, and that makes me feel like crying. I hurt Mommy, and now she despises me.

    She's too angry to talk, so I know that I have to stay away until she calms down.

    I avert my eyes and grit my teeth. I growl and flood my heart with anger. The cloud over my eyes slowly starts to fade.

    Ciel's [Holy Spirit] climbs up to her head, then it shines twice as brightly, forcefully clearing the clouds over our minds.

    The Lady carves a path through the Flayed and leaps into the mob of husks. Her claws spin like a tornado, shredding everything in her way.

    She continues on towards the crystals in the center of the room, and the ash follows her. Both the husks and the Flayed turn around and follow after her.

    The Corpse Stealers spread out all over in search of new targets now that the mob has thinned out.

    "We should follow The Lady. I don't like where she's going," Ciel says.

    "Agreed," I say with a nod. "Forward!"

    As we walk, the crystal lights continue to increase in size. I still have no idea how far away they truly are.

    We follow the trail of bodies that The Lady left behind and find a set of stairs that leads downwards. They are suspended in the air, so all that we can see is a featureless gray abyss all around us, making us feel rather uncomfortable.

    We arrive at another platform and pass by a control station, then we go down another long set of suspended stairs and start feeling a wild storm of mana coming from the way down.

    We start to sink below the crystal lights that now dwarf us in size. I think that they might each be as big as a three-story building.

    We pass by countless pipes carrying mana channels towards the crystals. The mana coursing through them is gradually increasing to alarming levels. Once we're underneath the crystals, the mist thins out, and we finally reach the last platform.

    We see The Lady and notice how her body is now made of ash. She flails her claws in the air, seemingly scratching them against an almost entirely transparent golden barrier, causing sparks to scatter through the air. The ground glows in a circle in front of her, it's the spell [Sanctuary]. In the center of this circle, we see the Abomination.

    On top of a junction of mana pipes, a long golden glaive has pierced through the bellies of two flayed bodies on top of each other. One is a man, and the one under him is a woman. Their limbs twitch continuously, and their mouths hang open, drooling profusely. Their exposed, red skin pulsates like a heartbeat.

    The wildfire burns the veil of pulsating flesh around the [Sanctuary], but gets snuffed out where it reaches the spell.

    The amount of mana coming off the bodies is so large that it activates a primal fear inside of us, making us hesitant to move any closer.

    Then we hear a baby cry. It's coming from them.

    The Lady suddenly jumps away from the [Sanctuary], and I see more pulsating flesh growing outwards from it. The Lady gathers embers from the ash and starts a new fire on this growing veil of flesh. Once the fire finishes burning everything that it can, The Lady resumes her attack against the golden barrier.

    "What the fuck," I mutter.

    "We have to save the baby," Ciel says in a low tone.

    "W-what?" Roxanne asks, confused.

    "The center of all the Life around here is coming from that-… those bodies," Yunia says.

    "I-is the woman pregnant?" I ask.

    "There's only one thing alive inside the [Sanctuary], and it doesn't seem to be either of the bodies," Yunia says in a serious tone.

    "How could you feel that?" I ask Ciel.

    "I don't know… I just had a premonition," she answers.

    "Well, she is a priestess," Roxanne comments with a shrug.

    "How do we get inside the barrier?" Alissa asks.

    "First, how do we deal with The Lady?" Hana asks, sounding worried.

    "The crystals are feeding the baby," Yunia says.

    I focus on my [Sense Mana]. All of the mana from the crystals is being directed to this junction, but most of it is escaping, being wasted away due to the baby's poor control of mana.

    The Lady is weak to [Light Magic]… and if I could use all of this mana…

    GIH!

    How else are we supposed to end this?! We don't have the means to both kill The Lady and breach the [Sanctuary]. This way, we can starve the baby and get the power to kill The Lady in one go!

    Gih!

    I tried interrupting spells before. I'm only going to try to redirect the mana from the crystals to me!

    Gify stays quiet.

    "Wolf," Alissa calls my attention, her voice is as serious as it has ever been.

    "What is it?" I turn to her, steeling myself for what's to come.

    "We can return later. We don't need to do this!" She exclaims and grabs my shoulders.

    "What's going on?" Yunia asks.

    I lightly grab Alissa's shoulders and look deeply into her orange eyes. "We'll just come to the same conclusion. If we kill the baby, The Lady will still remain on the station, and we don't have the means to end her!"

    "We'll find another way! We'll research how to rupture her spirit!"

    "It's going to be very difficult to do that… but what are you two talking about?!" Yunia asks, frustrated.

    Hana explains my experiments with [Redirect Mana] to her.

    "This is reckless," Yunia says, stunned.

    "I don't want to let her stay here, free to torture the baby," Ciel says, her eyes glare intently at The Lady.

    "Do you think that she'll win?" Lina asks.

    "The [Sanctuary] is slowly shrinking," Ciel says.

    I use [Sense Soul] on The Lady. "Her mana is still a long way from being down by a quarter," I say.

    The Dungeon Master is forcing our hand.

    I return my gaze to Alissa. "I'll be slow and careful," I say with confidence.

    She bites her lip adorably. "You're always trying to do something stupid," she says.

    "It's not stupid if it works. Also, I know my limits, most of the time." I give her a cheeky smile.

    "Test only your control over the mana. I'll be the one to destroy The Lady," Ciel says.

    Yunia and Alissa grit their teeth in frustration, they don't approve.

    "What's the worst that could happen?" Aoi asks.

    "We don't know," Alissa answers.

    "It's only mana. If I lose control over it, at most, it'll damage my body," I say.

    "But what about Ciel? She's going to use it for a spell!" Alissa exclaims.

    "Trust in my ability. I can cast [Holy Spirit] and [Judgment] even though I'm only level twenty-six in [Light Magic]," Ciel says.

    Yunia turns to me, her eyes as stern as ever. "I haven't fought with her for that long. You trust her that much?" She asks.

    "Yes. She has never failed us," I respond with a nod, and Alissa and Yunia relent.

    Ciel looks down and gushes with happiness, then she breathes in and returns to her serious demeanor. "I'm ready," she says.

    "I'll [Bind] you again so that you can read my mind. Also, I'll put my points and your extra ones in [Mana Control], just in case," I say.

    She nods. "Do it."

    Once everything is ready, I turn towards the crystals and start exerting [Redirect Mana] over it.

    I'm a mere man in front of a damn unleashing a river. The water wildly gushes all around me, ignoring my will. It scrapes against my skin, hurting me as I fail to protect myself from it. It seems like it'll overwhelm me with its unstoppable power.

    I try to reach one hand out to scoop up some of the water, but its force is so great that I feel it ripping the skin off my hand. Even the full might of my draconic will doesn't seem to be able to affect the jet. I pull back my hand and grit my teeth.

    Just "Willpower'" isn't enough. I need to see things differently, imagining this flow of mana as water is not helping me.

    I pull Cel's blanket into my soul space and dive in.

    "Ciel, what do you know about [Light Magic]?" I ask through [Bind].

    Somehow, she seems to notice my invasion into her mind. Perhaps it's due to our heightened awareness caused by our battle.

    She starts to think about how to answer, causing feelings, memories, and thoughts to fly all around me, then they start to converge towards me, and I have to protect myself, otherwise, I feel like they'd start to fuse with me, just like Alissa's memories do.

    She starts speaking through [Bind], but I'm so deep inside her mind that it feels like we're talking in unison.

    This situation is all wrong. Light mana isn't supposed to hurt like this, we're using it wrong. And somehow, even the baby is using it wrong, too, but they're using it in such a warped way that it's distorting everything and everyone on this station.

    But it's not the baby's fault. This whole scenario was created by a furious wife taking revenge on her cheating husband. Pain, suffering, and terror are everywhere. All this evil intent must be affecting the purity of the Light mana.

    The source of the evil must be The Lady. She has so much hate in her heart that she refused to pass on and turned into a ghost. The power of her will is staggering, and her desire to cause pain is frightening. She's already dead, and so is everything else here, except for the baby, who's using so much Light mana that it's cheating death, for now.

    The baby has also committed a Sin since it's their will that killed everyone on the station. But due to its innocence, we should offer it the mercy of death so that it can live in Paradise and be compensated for the unjust pain it suffered.

    We have to fix this situation; we have to bring everything back onto the right path.

    [Light Magic] is to be used to correct wrongs, not reinforce them. Light mana is about support, healing, justice, and protection. We turn ourselves into vessels for the will of the Gods so that we can filter it and let it act upon the realm. But the way that Light is used here is more akin to Dark or Cursing magic than Light.

    This is the will of the Humanoid Gods: to progress, to improve, to grow, to fix our mistakes, to punish evildoers, and to support those on the right path. But [Light Magic] isn't just that. A part of its essence is to take the abstract concepts of the God of Change, Order, Creation, and Destruction, and use them to benefit civilization.

    [Light Magic] isn't just the ability to create miracles, it's power. Raw, untainted, divine power. The power to influence the world with your own essence.

    And we hold this power in our hands.

    Slowly, mine and Ciel's minds sync. Our spirits, our wills, unite as one. We are soldiers of the Gods, and our sole purpose is to purge the world of evil.

    I extend my hand with the palm up and gather the mana into a single point above it. The storm continues to ravage my body, but it starts to reduce in intensity, then a ball of light starts to form, floating above my hand.

    I can't gather all of this mana inside my body, but I can wield it like a weapon.

    The Lady stops and turns to us. "HRIIIIIIIIIIIIII," she shrieks, trying to break our concentration, but the raw [Light] keeps her evil glare away from us.

    Ciel drops her glaive and extends her arm. She creates a line of Light mana between her palm and the golden glaive. It starts twitching, being attracted to the mana like a magnet, then it suddenly flies towards her open hand.

    She gathers the Light mana in the glaive, and we chant in unison, "I am the judge, the jury, and the executioner. I am the unyielding shield for the pious. I am the swift sword for the Wicked. I am the vessel for the Gods! Face your fate! Face my [Judgment]!"

    The spell coats the entire glaive with light, making it shine along with my [Light] as if they were twin suns.

    The mist and the ashes are blown away, The Lady's shriveled and warped body becomes visible, the [Sanctuary] of the baby is dispelled, and the two bodies evaporate into dust.

    I will it forward, and the raw [Light] flies towards The Lady. She shrieks again and slashes at it, rupturing it and creating a blinding flash of light, but neither Ciel nor I are blinded by it.

    Ciel jumps forward and charges towards The Lady, who's reeling away from the pain. She slices through The Lady's body, and the brilliant light flashes again. In the next moment, The Lady is gone.

    She continues forward, towards the dark fetus that still moves. She jumps off of the platform and into the junction of pipes, then she aims downwards with her golden glaive.

    "Be welcomed into Paradise," she says and sinks the blade into the fetus' head.

    The light flashes again, and this time, we're all blinded.


    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
     
  7. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

    Joined:
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    "You are now level 28."

    "You are now level 29."

    "You are now level 30."

    "You are now level 31."

    "You are now level 32."

    "You are now level 33."

    "You are now level 34."

    "You are now level 35."

    Except for Yunia and Aoi, we all loudly moan in unison from the huge influx of Experience entering our souls. My knees tremble, and I almost fall down as I jizz in my pants. Then our vision returns, and we look around as we recover from the orgasm.

    There's no mist, ash, nor any indication that the monsters or the fetus ever existed, and even my Corpse Stealers are gone. We now see only glowing dots of light gently falling down like snowflakes. A rather holy sight. Then, after a few seconds, they fade away.

    I chuckle once and let the tension escape my body. Suddenly, my vision goes blurry, and I'm looking at the floor. Alissa's hands support me, then help my body to stand up straight.

    I guess I relaxed too much.

    I open my "Status" and see that I received twenty points of HP damage, Ciel received thirty, and the other girls a bit less than ten.

    "Go help Ciel," I say to Hana through [Bind].

    She summons her wings and flies to Ciel, then lands beside her just in time to catch her when she staggers.

    The girls cast [Clean] just once on themselves to dry their panties, but I have to cast it repeatedly to remove all the cum, then Yunia looks at us oddly. Since she's wearing a Ring of the Servant, she didn't receive any Experience.

    Does this count as having sex with the Goddess of Growth?

    "I just… gained eight… levels," Lina says with a haggard breath. Her legs rub together, and she fidgets awkwardly.

    "Oh…" Yunia mutters in understanding.

    "Same," I say and sigh. "I also gained five points in [Light Magic]. I guess that was 'enlightening.'" I give the girls a shit-eating grin.

    Roxanne, Lina, and Aoi chuckle, Yunia smiles wryly, and Alissa forces herself to pout to hide her smile, but she fails.

    I [Heal] myself and regain the strength in my muscles, then I [Heal] the other girls. Ciel [Heal]s herself and then stares at the floor, where the fetus was.

    "Is it over?" She asks.

    Gify pops into existence. "Gih!"

    "Yeah, it feels like it. I'll spread a few Hollys around, but the entire Control Room seems empty," I say.

    "There's no other Life around here beside ours," Yunia says.

    "So it seems that we are safe," Alissa says.

    "This was quite something," Roxanne says.

    "I'm unhappy, I couldn't eat anything!" Aoi complains.

    I smile warmly at her and pat her armored head.

    We store our weapons and take off our helmets, then Ciel and Hana jump back to our platform. Now that the mist is gone, we can see that there's a huge drop from our platform to the floor, ending at a dangerous mess of pipes.

    Then we turn our attention to Ciel's golden glaive. She stops in front of us and proudly displays it.

    The entire weapon is made from a single piece of golden metal. Its blade is longer and wider than her previous glaive, but it's significantly thinner. The back of the blade is sharp up until it reaches a large hook, so it should work just as well with [Imperial Hasterrum Style] as the other one. The shaft is hollow and perfectly straight, but both it and the blade are adorned with silver flowery patterns all over, so it kind of looks like a ceremonial weapon. There are two gems embedded near where Ciel normally grips the shaft, and at its butt, there's a white tassel hanging loose.

    We all gawk at it for a few seconds.

    "Wow, what's that made of?" Roxanne asks.

    I put points in [Weapon Appraisal] and ask Ciel to hand me the glaive so that I can inspect it. It's rather light, even though it's solely composed of metal.

    "It's made of an alloy of Light-attuned steel and a small amount of Okross," I answer.

    We stay silent for a few seconds, stunned at the revelation.

    "What's Okross?" Aoi asks.

    Lina's Trivia: Rupegia's version of adamantium.

    "It's among the rarest and strongest metals that we know about. Aside from darksteel, it's the only other metal known to resist dragon fire," Lina answers.

    "So, it's valuable?" Aoi asks again.

    "My father's sword used an alloy of Kanal and Okross. It's our most valuable possession, but it also has a dozen enchantments, too, so that increases its value by quite a lot," Yunia says.

    "It says that it has five percent Okross," I say.

    She nods. "Seems low, but it should make the weapon much more resistant and sharp. See how thin the blade is? Its cutting power must be very high, but if it was made of pure Okross you could even cut through steel."

    "One day, we could melt the glaive and reforge it," Lina says.

    "Seems a shame to destroy such a beautiful weapon," Ciel says with a frown.

    "True. For now, a Light-attuned glaive will serve Ciel perfectly, but a Kanal and Okross alloy is still the best choice for a hybrid warrior," Yunia says.

    "How much more Okross did your father have?" I ask.

    "The sword and a set of armor made of an Okross alloy, but his wooden armor was superior."

    "What do the enchantments do?" Lina asks, guiding the conversation to something she's dying to know about.

    Ciel feeds mana to the first gem and the entire glaive glows, then it reduces in size and morphs into a shortsword.

    "That's neat," I say.

    "And handy," Hana says.

    Ciel hums in agreement and returns the glaive to its original shape, then activates the second enchantment.

    The tip of the blade glows, and we tense up. Our gut feeling is telling us that this spell is different. Ciel points the glaive away from us, and a thick beam of light erupts from the blade towards the floor.

    Ciel only feeds it enough mana for the beam to last for two seconds, but that's enough to make the floor faintly glow red with heat.

    "That's a new one," Roxanne says, mouth hanging open.

    "Was that a ranged [Searing Blade]?" Yunia asks.

    Lina shakes her head and answers, "It's different. [Searing Blade] uses [Fire Magic] to create heat; this one uses [Light Magic] to create… light?" She tilts her head in deep thought, and her cute bangs sway to the side.

    "Energy. They are using photons as a form of 'energy' because it's closer to mana than heat is," I say.

    "Photons?" She asks.

    "Light is made of invisible, inconceivably small particles called photons," I answer.

    Ciel smiles and continues, "It doesn't have mass, so you don't feel it when it touches you, but it's not immaterial like the spirit. It's a gentle type of matter, and it also carries the heat of the sun to us."

    "I see. These Light crystals are feeding the Wind one; they are a source of power," Lina says and nods in understanding.

    "Use it again, but aim at something far away. From what I know, using photons this way tends to lose power pretty quickly with distance."

    She aims it at the railing of the platform above us and activates [Beam]. She turns it off after four seconds, and we see it glow red with heat.

    "I guess this means that it does lose power with distance, but I have no idea if it's like the lasers back on Earth," I say.

    Ciel shrugs, then hands me her green dragon fang glaive so that I can store it for her. "So, what do we do now?" she asks.

    "How about we rest?" I suggest and look around, the girls nod softly in agreement.

    "We can do that while leisurely searching for clues to our next objective," Yunia says.

    "True," I agree, and no one complains, though I feel that Roxanne wanted to, but held back. "First of all, you, sit over there," I say to Lina and point to a chair.

    "Uh?" She tilts her head adorably.

    I grin mischievously. "I wanna look at your feet."

    "Oh… okay."

    The girls start to spread out and explore while I guide Lina to a chair nearby. Once she sits down, I start to undo the clasps of the boot that was burned.

    The wood is only slightly charred, the scales look fine, and it seems that the padding underneath is what received the most damage. It was burned more than the wood and also looks like something tried to rip through it.

    I expose her cute foot and push up the padded scale pants. I can't see anything odd, except that her pink nail polish is flaking off.

    "How does it feel?" I ask.

    "A little sensitive, and I still feel some pangs of pain," she answers.

    I cast [Clean], then I cast a continuous [Regeneration] while I massage it.

    "That feels good…" She mutters and smiles warmly.

    I smile back and kiss the top of her foot, then we stare deep into each other's eyes as I work my magic.

    Her breath gradually speeds up, and her eyes open wide. A new feeling starts to well up inside her, and her mouth subtly curls into a sadistic smile.

    My hands stretch and press into her foot right in its most delicate spots. Just like how everything good in life needs contrast, I give her a small amount of pain to spice things up, then I draw out a long stream of pleasure so that the contrast of the sensations heightens the experience.

    I kiss each toe twice, then I lick the top of her foot again. She licks her lips sensually and narrows her eyes, starting to feel a bit more bold.

    She raises her foot towards my mouth, and I kiss it again, then I run my tongue along its bones.

    She exhales loudly and presses her big toe towards my mouth. I open up and swallow it, letting my tongue run wild. She leans closer to me and lets her sadistic smile fully bloom.

    She pushes the foot further into my mouth and nearly makes me fall on my ass.

    "Lay down, slave, so that I can step on you," she says in a condescending tone.

    "Watch it, ojou-sama. Push me much further, and I'll stretch both of your little holes," I say and match her tone, then I chuckle evilly.

    She freezes and tenses up.

    I gently suck on her little toe and show her a maniacal smile.

    "Don't be like that, ojou-sama, I know exactly how much you want this filthy slave's cock inside of your pure, virgin pussy," I continue.

    Yunia coughs loudly.

    We turn to her and smile wryly. She sends us a disbelieving look and continues inspecting the controls on the platform. She might look serious, but I know that she was staring intently at us, wishing that it was her in Lina's place.

    Lina sighs and kisses the top of my head. "What's 'ojou-sama'?" She asks.

    "'Young lady' in one of Earth's languages," I answer.

    "I like that. Can we roleplay that again some other time?" She asks.

    I nod and smile warmly at her. "As long as you're not trying to dominate me, then yes. Perhaps we can use Alissa or Hana in place of the slave, instead."

    "Sounds good… but it did feel really good to say that to you." She smiles like an imp.

    I snort and continue sucking on her feet.

    Through [Bind], I can feel that she gets quite wet but holds herself back; she's learned a thing or two about teasing and denial. Her pain eventually goes away, and we regretfully put her armor and boots back on.



    We spread out and inspect all of the controls, but they're much more complicated than the ones in engineering, so we have little hope of learning how to use them today.

    The Control Room is rather impressive, though, so I spend a lot of time just mesmerized by the four three-story-high crystals floating in the middle. The three Light crystals are just "batteries" for the green one, which is attuned to Wind.

    My Hollys reach the shopping center, and I notice that the mannequins are all gone. The damage to the Mayor's Office remains, but there isn't a single trace of any of the monsters that we fought.

    The dirt, grime, cracks, bloodstains, and scribbles that were on the buildings are all gone now. Everything is back to a pre-alarm state, where at most, there's only moss and dust on a few of the buildings.

    The Looping Winds requires some rather complex mechanics to be perfectly adjusted in order to work properly. It first starts a "loop," a circular path that begins and ends at the station. After that, we need to attach "anchors," coordinates where this "loop" is forced to pass through. This is where the problems start.

    We can't just put anchors anywhere; we have to find places with relatively low turbulence. Otherwise, either the loop won't "attach" to these anchors, taking on a completely unknown path, or the anchor will simply drift over time, and the whole loop will change unpredictably.

    But wait, there's more. If the anchors are too poorly positioned, the loop will twist into lots of sharp turns between them, which could possibly break the ship apart if we tried to cross through it. Not only that, but there are plenty of environmental dangers in the way that we have to avoid, and to do that, we need to know where we're going so that we know what to avoid.

    So far, we haven't seen a hint of a map or anything similar to one. Since the loops use all three dimensions, a traditional two-dimensional map would be unsuitable, so I believe that the map won't be among the papers.

    "This must be a recreation of the Broken Skies, then," Lina comments.

    "Hm?" I hum in an inquiry.

    "The Chimeras on the Sky Lands don't use the Looping Winds. But I don't know if there are any other Sky Land above the other continents," Alissa answers in her stead.

    Lina nods in agreement and continues, "Only the Broken Lands still use the Looping Winds, but it's all been abandoned by now, so it would probably be extremely dangerous to ride one."

    We spend a few hours reading about the controls, then we decide to go back to our home in Goloria.



    I lower myself into the bath with a tired sigh. Roxanne quickly comes over to straddle me before Hana or Lina can do so. She gives them a smug smile and pierces herself with my dick.

    I open my arms and grow dicks from the palms of my hands. "There you go, girls, have fun," I say and close my eyes.

    Roxanne's dagger tail pushes my chin up, and her tongue parts my lips then invades my mouth.

    The Lady made Roxanne remember things that she didn't want to, so now she needs my embrace to help her forget again. I take a glimpse into her heart, and I feel her desperate desire for stability. She also wants a hero to save her from the shadow of loneliness that still haunts her once in a while.

    With her two favorite women beside her, she doesn't content herself with only me and pushes us into a sweaty foursome full of messy kisses. A four-way kiss doesn't have the same level of stimulation as a normal one, but it sure is fun.

    After I'm done with the three of them, I pull Aoi by the tail. I mount her and force her to grow just enough so that my thick cock fits in her warm and moist pussy, just enough.

    I use most of my MP on Aoi, filling her up repeatedly, but I save a little for one last person.

    I turn to Yunia, who's getting her arms massaged by Alissa as if she were a queen. Her long ears twitch, and she opens her eyes, then looks at me.

    I grin and swim towards her. She raises an eyebrow, then her stern gaze mellows when she realizes my intention.

    I straddle her and gently trace her abs with my hand while I hold her chin with the other. She breathes in and looks away, starting to feel shy.

    Alissa feels my intentions and switches from a clinical massage to a loving one, filling Yunia's arms with kisses.

    I run my right hand up her chest and squeeze her juicy breasts, making sure that I pinch her nipples a little. Her breath immediately quickens, and her fingers twitch in anxiety and desire.

    I lean in close to whisper in her ear, "Do you want my thick, strong cock inside your tight, slutty, elven cock-sleeve? Do you want me to put the proud elven woman where she belongs: on her knees, choking on my cum?"

    She shudders and bites her lip.

    Alissa gently grabs her head and starts kissing her. Yunia responds by plunging her tongue into Alissa's mouth.

    I violently thrust my finger inside Yunia's pussy and fuck her angrily until she can no longer kiss Alissa. Then I get up, grab her head, and make her face forward.

    "Open up, I need to use your mouth," I order and give her a condescending stare.

    She obeys me, and I shove my cock all the way down her throat, then I grab her head with both hands and skull-fuck her.

    I don't force myself to last long before shooting it down her throat, then I pull her up and make her bend over the edge of the tub.

    I grab her juicy ass and lick my lips. I saved this final shot to coat her insides with my seed, so I'll make sure that she feels it.



    "Thank you, master…" She mumbles as I deposit her back into the water.

    I grin in ecstasy after hearing her words.

    "I like that. Every time I fuck you, you should thank me for rewarding you with my holy cock," I whisper in her ear.

    She nods shyly, and her cute, long ears bob.



    We ask the servants to make dinner since we're too tired to do it ourselves.

    After our banquet, we retire to our room.

    I brush Alissa's fluffy orange tail while she brushes Yunia's glorious golden hair. The room is filled with the smells of skin-care creams as the girls put on their favorite products to prevent their skin from becoming rough from all of the physically demanding efforts that we went through.

    Then Roxanne repaints Lina's ruined nail polish, Hana lights up some incense that has a calming effect on us, Ciel smothers Ted and Suzy, Aoi plays tag with Gify, and Jarn stands in front of the door like a guard.

    "This is nice," Yunia says in a low tone.

    "Hm?" Alissa questions and kisses her bare back, making her shiver for a moment.

    "This… this life. Staying together like this. This is nice," she replies.

    "It is," Roxanne agrees.

    "Once you get a taste of this harem, you never want to go back to being alone," Hana says, and we all nod.

    I enter a trance as I brush Alissa, drowning in her fluffiness. I fall asleep not long after that, completely exhausted.



    Today is the 11th.

    Lina wakes me up lovingly, and I let Aoi have her morning meal while I look over everyone's gains.



    I leveled up to 35; my [Light Magic] increased by 5 (now 13+2); [Mana Control] and [Summoning Magic] increased by 2 (now 0+17 and 13+26); [Sword Use], [Dodge], [Acrobatics], [Ekrano Style], and [Redirect Mana] increased by 1 (now 12+11, 4+7, 5+2, 2, and 4); and I learned [Oral Technique] with 1 point. For stats, my "Willpower" and "Piety" increased by 1 (now 18 and 16). My MP increased by 40, and my "Magic Power" increased by 20 (now 1,710 and 710).

    Alissa leveled up to 38. She increased her [Mana Control] by 3 (now 7); her [Bow Use], [Sense Presence], [Enhanced Reflexes], and [Illusion Magic] by 2 (now 30, 8, 4+4, 4+8); and her [Dodge] by 1 (now 3). For stats, her "Dexterity" increased by 1 (now 23). Her MP increased by 45, and her "Magic Power" increased by 20 (now 1,025 and 500). I've given her points in Earth, Water, and Wind magic so that she has a more well-rounded set of spells.

    Roxanne leveled up to 38. Her [Mana Control] increased by 3, and her [Water Magic] increased by 2 (now 30 and 5+25). For stats, her "Endurance" and "Willpower" increased by 1 (now 11 and 15). Her MP increased by 80, and her "Magic Power" increased by 40 (now 2,710 and 1,130). Her extra points are put this way so that she can use [Ice Lance], and [Lava Jet] without chanting, improve her mana efficiency with [Explosion], and improve her knowledge of [Space Magic] so that one day she can use [Warp Space].

    Hana leveled up to 41. Her [Shield Bash], [Block], and [Dodge] increased by 1 (now 7, 9, and 5); [Parry] increased by 2 (now 8); and [Sword Use] increased by 3 (now 23). For stats, her "Dexterity" has increased by 1 (now 11). Her MP increased by 35, and her "Magic Power" increased by 20 (now 860 and 405). Her extra points are set this way so that she can get the rest of the low-level elemental spells for utility, and [Reduced Mana Cost] is used to allow her to cast more of these spells.

    Ciel leveled up to 37. Her [Parry] and [Dodge] increased by 1 (now 9 and 7), [Block] increased by 2 (now 6), [Glaive Use] increased by 3 (now 18), and her [Light Magic] increased by 4 (now 10+30). For stats, she increased her "Wisdom" and "Piety" by 1 (now 20 and 22). Her MP increased by 60, and her "Magic Power" increased by 50 (now 1,240 and 450). She now has enough points to reach level 30 in [Wind Magic], allowing her to instantly cast [Fly].

    Lina leveled up to 35. Her [Parry], [Dodge], [Mana Control], [Earth magic], and [Stonebody] increased by 1 (now 1+9, 2+5, 7, 3+7, and 6); and her [Hammer Use], [Axe Use], and [Block] increased by 3 (now 16, 8, and 10). She didn't gain any stats, but [Stonebody] gives a passive point to "Strength" and "Endurance" with each level, so it counts as a stat increase. Her MP increased by 60, and her "Magic Power" increased by 20 (now 1,160 and 515). With her points put this way, she can cast [Dust Storm], [Torrent], [Wind Blade], [Weaken], [Sap Power], [Befuddle], and [Demoralize]. Hopefully, the next monsters aren't all immune to [Cursing Magic], too, otherwise, I'll put her points into something more useful.

    Yunia didn't gain any levels or skills, but since Hana is catching up to her, she'll take off the Ring of the Servant to be able to gain Experience again. For stats, she increased her "Willpower" by 1 (now 15). Her MP increased by 20, and her "Magic Power" increased by 10 (now 1,030 and 510). Her 3 extra points are put in [Mana Efficiency] because that's what benefits [Weaverism] the most.

    Our skills are like this:



    Wolf Ryder Skill Report
    Physical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sword Use16+11Dodge8+7Parry5+5
    Block2+8Shield Bash0+1Battlefield Perception5+2
    Muscle Explosion4+1Acrobatics8+2Ekrano Style (creator)2
    Magical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sense Mana0+6Mana Control3+17Mana Recovery10+0
    Mana Efficiency3+7Reduced Mana Cost3+7Mana Overuse Resistance0+4
    Blackout Resistance0+1Fire Magic1+4Earth Magic2+3
    Water Magic4+1Wind Magic3+2Electric Magic6+14
    Light Magic2+13Space Magic7+23Summoning Magic14+26
    Blessing Magic8+22Nature Magic3+18Conjuring Magic0+1
    Spirit Magic0+2Illusion Magic0+2Golemancy0+9
    Redirect Mana (creator)4Sense Soul (creator)6Soul Manipulation (creator)4
    Godly Language30+0
    Miscellaneous
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Cooking0+4Andraste Language4+6Dismantling0+4
    Massage0+1Oral Technique0+1Mana Genitals (innate)2

    Info
    NameWolf RyderAge16RaceHuman
    HP100MP1710Magic Power710
    Level35
    Stats
    Strength13Endurance15Dexterity12
    Speed14Intelligence21Wisdom16
    Willpower18Charisma13Piety16
    Perception16Sanity12+4
    Other
    Status EffectsNONE
    TitlesNickname "Good Luck", Blessed by the Goddess of Knowledge, Golemancer, Scholar of Rabanara
    AffiliationsHelios (Fellowship), Alissa (Blood Slave, Fiancée), Hanafuria (Blood Slave, Fiancée), Roxanne Succubus (Fiancée), Lina (Slave, Fiancée), Ciel (Fiancée), Yulania (Blood Slave)
    CompanionsAlissa, Hanafuria, Roxanne Succubus, Ciel, Lina, Yulania
    CrimesNONE


    Alissa Skill Report
    Physical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sword Use9Bow Use30Parry4
    Dodge3Sense Presence8Hide Presence4
    Enhanced Olfact5Enhanced Hearing3Hawk Eyes5
    Muscle Explosion2Quiet Steps4Quiet Action2
    Enhanced Stamina1Enhanced Reflexes3+4Tracking2
    Magical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sense Mana1Mana Control7Reduced Mana Cost5+0
    Fire Magic1Earth Magic5+0Water Magic1+0
    Wind Magic1+0Light Magic1Space Magic1
    Conjuring Magic1Illusion Magic2+8Fox Transformation (innate)5
    Miscellaneous
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Housework3Cooking4Cleaning2
    Washing5Riding2Oral Technique4
    Pain Resistance2Hand Technique2

    Info
    NameAlissaAge17RaceFox-type Wereanimal
    HP100MP1025Magic Power500
    Level38
    Stats
    Strength12Endurance18Dexterity23
    Speed20Intelligence13Wisdom14
    Willpower17Charisma14Piety15
    Perception17Sanity15
    Other
    Status EffectsNONE
    TitlesBlessed by the Goddess of Love, Blinding Arrows
    AffiliationsWolf Ryder (Master, Fiance), Helios (Fellowship)
    CompanionsWolf Ryder, Hanafuria, Roxanne Succubus, Ciel, Lina, Yulania
    CrimesNONE


    Roxanne Succubus Skill Report
    Physical
    Skill NameLevel
    Dagger Use2
    Magical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sense Mana3Mana Control30Reduced Mana Cost5+3
    Mana Efficiency9Mana Overuse Resistance1Fire Magic5+25
    Water Magic5+25Light Magic1Space Magic2+8
    Conjuring Magic5Alchemy4Potion Brewing11
    Poison Brewing2Redirect Mana1
    Miscellaneous
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Housework1Cooking1Cleaning1
    Washing1Riding1

    Info
    NameRoxanne SuccubusAge21RaceSuccubus-Type Demon Race
    HP100MP2710Magic Power1130
    Level38
    Stats
    Strength9Endurance11Dexterity12
    Speed9Intelligence18Wisdom18
    Willpower15Charisma15Piety10
    Perception11Sanity12
    Other
    Status EffectsNONE
    TitlesNONE
    AffiliationsWolf Ryder (Fiance), Helios (Fellowship)
    CompanionsWolf Ryder, Alissa, Hanafuria, Ciel, Lina, Yulania
    CrimesNONE


    Hanafuria Skill Report
    Physical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Two-Handed Sword Use9 Polearm Use6 Dagger Use4
    Shield Bash7 Block9 Parry8
    Dodge5 Tatesomu Style6 Muscle Explosion4
    Battlefield Perception2 Taunt3 Intimidate2
    Enhanced Reflexes2 Enhanced Stamina4 Enhanced Strength2
    Enhanced Endurance4
    Magical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sense Mana1 Mana Control2Reduce Mana Cost3+0
    Fire Magic1Earth Magic1Water Magic1+0
    Wind Magic1+0 Light Magic1 Space Magic1
    Conjuring Magic1 Illusion Magic5
    Miscellaneous
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Housework2 Cooking1 Cleaning1
    Washing1 Riding3 Massage1
    Pain Conversion1 Dismantling4 Oral Technique1
    Fire Breath (innate)5 Summon Wings (innate)3

    Info
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    HP100 MP860 Magic Power405
    Level41
    Stats
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Speed13 Intelligence12 Wisdom14
    Willpower19Charisma16 Piety11
    Perception10 Sanity17
    Other
    Status EffectsNONE
    TitlesOne Thousand Strikes
    AffiliationsWolf Ryder (Master, Fiance), Helios (Fellowship)
    CompanionsWolf Ryder, Alissa, Roxanne Succubus, Ciel, Lina, Yulania
    CrimesNONE


    Ciel Skill Report
    Physical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Glaive Use18Sword Use5Parry9
    Dodge7Block6Imperial Hasterrum Style2
    Muscle Explosion2Battlefield Perception1
    Magical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sense Mana2Mana Control6Reduced Mana Cost1
    Mana Efficiency4Wind Magic13+17Fire Magic1
    Light Magic30Space Magic3Conjuring Magic1
    Diagnosis7Redirect Mana1
    Miscellaneous
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    First-Aid3Housework3Cooking2
    Cleaning2Washing1Riding1

    Info
    NameCielAge21RaceHuman
    HP100MP1240Magic Power450
    Level37
    Stats
    Strength14Endurance14Dexterity17
    Speed18Intelligence15Wisdom20
    Willpower14CharismaPiety2222
    Perception13Sanity19
    Other
    Status EffectsNONE
    TitlesNONE
    AffiliationsWolf Ryder (Fiance), Helios (Fellowship), Templar Knights (Honorary Member), Temple Priestess (Former Member)
    CompanionsWolf Ryder, Alissa, Hanafuria, Roxanne Succubus, Lina, Yulania
    CrimesNONE


    Lina Skill Report
    Physical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Hammer Use16Axe Use8Throw2+2
    Parry1+9Dodge3+5Block10
    Muscle Explosion2Shield Bash1Battlefield Perception2
    Dwarven Pride Style2Enhanced Speed5+0
    Magical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sense Mana1Mana Control7Mana Efficiency1
    Fire Magic1Earth Magic3+7Water Magic1+0
    Wind Magic1+0Light Magic1Cursing Magic12+3
    Space Magic1Conjuring Magic1General Enchanting9
    Magic Tool Carving1
    Miscellaneous
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    General Blacksmithing4Sewing4Housework1
    Cleaning2Washing1Math4
    Riding1Stonebody (innate)6

    Info
    NameLinaAge15RaceDwarf
    HP100MP1160Magic Power515
    Level35
    Stats
    Strength8Endurance8Dexterity13
    Speed12Intelligence16Wisdom13
    Willpower17Charisma11Piety12
    Perception14Sanity14
    Other
    Status EffectsNONE
    TitlesNONE
    AffiliationsWolf Ryder (Master, Fiance), Helios (Fellowship)
    CompanionsWolf Ryder, Alissa, Hanafuria, Roxanne Succubus, Ciel, Yulania
    CrimesNONE


    Yulania Skill Report
    Physical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sword Use8Two-Handed Sword Use10Parry8
    Dodge9Silent Shadow Style4Battlefield Perception5
    Enhanced Reflexes5Sense Presence1Hide Presence4
    Muscle Explosion2Quiet Steps2Quiet Action6
    Magical
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Sense Mana5Mana Control4Mana Recovery2
    Mana Efficiency2+8Reduced Mana Cost4Fire Magic1
    Earth Magic1Light Magic5Spirit Magic15
    Illusion Magic10Space Magic6Nature Magic10
    Conjuring Magic1Weaverism23Redirect Mana1+0
    Miscellaneous
    Skill NameLevelSkill NameLevelSkill NameLevel
    Riding5Acting3Dancing2

    Info
    NameYulaniaAge18RaceGolden Elf
    HP100MP1030Magic Power510
    Level43
    Stats
    Strength12Endurance14Dexterity19
    Speed16Intelligence16Wisdom16
    Willpower15Charisma20Piety12
    Perception20Sanity16
    Other
    Status EffectsNONE
    TitlesNONE
    AffiliationsWolf Ryder (Master), Helios (Fellowship)
    CompanionsWolf Ryder, Alissa, Hanafuria, Roxanne Succubus, Ciel, Lina
    CrimesNONE


    Also, I see something interesting with [Sense Soul].



    Soul Info​
    Name:AoiHP:200
    MP1,145Magic Power200
    Strength17Endurance20

    Her MP increased by 40, and her "Magic Power" by 20.

    "Oh, Aoi, reduce in size, please," I ask.

    "Okay," she answers and obeys.

    Her "Strength" goes down to 6 in her small size.

    "Interesting…" I mutter.

    "What?" Alissa asks, curious.

    "I can see Aoi's 'Strength' and 'Endurance' now, and her 'Strength' changes in relation to her size," I respond.

    "Oh, that doesn't happen when I change my size while using [Fox Transformation]," Alissa says.

    "So, bigger is better?" Aoi asks.

    "Always," Hana answers before I can say anything, so I just smile wryly.

    "How much longer until her system is complete?" Roxanne asks.

    "I think that only her levels and skills are missing now," I say.

    "So, less than a month?" Hana asks, getting excited.

    "I don't know. They could take longer since they are more 'complex,' I believe," I reply with a shrug.

    Aoi's tongue slows down a little from her disappointment, but then I start petting her head, and she regains her hunger.



    For breakfast, I have some toast and butter, then Alissa brews a new elven tea, and the dining room gets filled with the spell of peaches.

    The elves drink this not-peach tea hot, but I think it's best taken cold on a hot summer morning, so I put my cup in the icebox and wait.

    The girls are rather excited to test out their new skills. Ciel, most of all, wants to try out her new glorious golden glaive.

    I watch them practice as I drink my cold not-peach iced tea, and everything is absolutely apricot.

    After a good warm-up, we return to the dungeon.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tiler Mills.
    Nobel CHoobler.
     
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2020
  8. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    "You know, this place isn't so bad," Hana comments.

    "Yeah, there's no way you'd think that an entire town's worth of people died here and were cursed into being zombies," Roxanne says.

    "It makes me uncomfortable just remembering that," Ciel says and scratches her cheek awkwardly.

    "I imagine that after stabbing a fetus, nobody could 'comfortably' remember that," Roxanne adds with a smirk.

    "Please…" Ciel pleads with a sigh.

    "I see that you're back to your usual mean self," Alissa says and nods in understanding.

    "I'm telling you, Wolf's cum has healing properties," Hana says.

    "I'm not mean, it's just banter, banter!" Roxanne exclaims and pouts.

    "You call that banter? I've seen maids with sharper tongues," Yunia says and points her chin up snobbishly.

    "Oh? Is the elegant elven princess finally showing her true colors?" Roxanne asks and grins evilly. The two glare at each other, and I start to feel like they're competing, or something.

    "What's gotten into them?" I whisper to Alissa.

    "Banter. Their sadism compels them to put others down once in a while," she answers.

    "Oh, please, I've always been myself: a refined and upstanding example of elven nobility," Yunia says.

    "Yet you bowed down so quickly to Wolfy's cock," Roxanne says, her voice dripping with sensuality when she refers to my thunder spear.

    "Hmph. It is not disgraceful to find pleasure in sex," Yunia responds and turns her head away.

    Roxanne smiles with glee and slowly says, "A commoner's cock."

    Yunia narrows her eyes and gives her a sidelong look. "You forget that he's a hero."

    "Yes, but he, a human, bested you in battle, and then, he didn't just fuck you, he dominated you. Admit it, you're addicted to his cock." Her honeyed words slowly infiltrate my mind, then gently persuade my pleasure rod to stand at the ready.

    Yunia turns her head to face her and takes a step forward. "If I'm addicted, then what does that make you? A loyal dog that licks up every drop of his cum that falls to the floor whenever he fucks a real woman."

    Roxanne also takes a step forward, and the two stunningly beautiful women nearly butt heads as they glare at one another. "I'm his slut, not a delicate flower with an ego the size of a castle."

    "Ooh…! Are they going to fuck?!" Hana asks, excitedly.

    "Please, not now," Ciel asks and shakes her head.

    Yunia's voice gains a cold and deliberate tone. "A slut is a toy, below his loyal slave, so you need to be shown your place."

    Roxanne leans forward, her lips curled into a kiss, but Yunia has [Precognition] and easily avoids her attack. She trips Roxanne's leg, making her stumble, then slaps her ass hard.

    Roxanne continues on for a few steps before regaining her balance, then she holds her hat against her head and turns around to glare at Yunia.

    "Hmph, got what you deserved," Yunia snorts snobbishly and walks away.

    Roxanne's lips curl into a faint smile, and her face slowly returns to normal.

    "I'm rather happy about how this ended," Ciel says in a low tone.

    "I guess that Hana and Yunia are going to be competing for the position of top slut soon," Lina says.

    "Pff… not even she can win against me," Hana says and grins fearsomely.

    I sigh and bring my thunder cock back under control. Their short bout made me a little excited.



    We split up again and continue our exploration. The Control Room is already powered, so at least we don't have to go through that connection process all over again, which would be a massive pain in the ass.

    I gather documents and start translating them. After a long hour, I finally notice something interesting: references to a "Remote Stability Scanner." It supposedly costs a lot of mana to operate, but we can just redirect all the power to this room again, and it should work fine.

    "I think this is the Scanner that you mentioned," Lina says and grabs my attention.

    She's standing in front of a large square wooden table with a glass panel on top. There are a bunch of knobs and levers at one side, a few glass panes beside the table, and underneath are some small colored crystals embedded in a metal plate full of gold and silver mana channels.

    We quickly divert the power back to the Control Room and return to the Scanner.

    Lina pulls a lever, and a red smoke starts to seep out of the glass panel, then gathers in a few spots above it. On the glass panel, a more colorful variety of smoke comes together.

    "Okay, now what does this red smoke mean?" I question.

    Lina fiddles with another knob, and a blue smoke forms a completely opaque cube on top of the table, covering the red smoke. She fiddles with the knob again, and the cube becomes transparent, allowing us to see the red smoke.

    She fiddles with another knob, and a small cone of black smoke appears near the bottom. She turns one last knob, and hundreds of little purple balls of varying sizes appear.

    I hum in thought and say, "Well, I think the blue smoke represents 'normal' air, so we can turn that off completely; black could be the tornado above us; and I have no idea what red or purple would represent, probably something bad."

    "Agreed," Lina says and nods, then she moves to a set of knobs that turn endlessly. She slowly turns one, and the black, purple, and red smoke all move downwards. "Oh, I think this is moving the scanner's 'view.'"

    "Seems so. Now, we just need to find our destination."

    She continues moving the Scanner down and puts the whole tornado in view. At its bottom, we see a small red dot surrounded by black smoke. She fiddles a little more with the Scanner and discovers a way to zoom in and out.

    "Heh, that's nice," she mutters.

    Alissa finds a book of official coordinates. It has the name of a location, its coordinates, the anchors required to make a path to it, and the polynomial equations used to calculate the path that the Looping Wind would take. It's not really that complex, it just requires a lot of small calculations that could be done automatically by a computer.

    Hana and Roxanne skim through a lot of documents and memos, and they start to notice a repeated name: "Ozymandias."

    Well, that's ominous.

    "Ozymandias was the name of a chimeric king. I don't know anything else about him, though," Lina says.

    "It's the name of a location in the book," Alissa says.

    "It really is the most commonly mentioned name that we've found," Roxanne says as she counts its occurrences. "Also, it's seemingly the capital of this 'fake' chimeric nation."

    Assuming that this station is the center of the system of coordinates in Alissa's book, Lina puts Ozymandias' coordinates into the Scanner. The red smoke gathers into the shape of a vertical disk that's half the size of this station.

    "Well, it looks like an interesting place, alright," Roxanne comments.

    "I can zoom the Scanner out to show the distance between the station and Ozymandias," Lina says.

    "Please do," I say.

    The red disk of Ozymandias slowly becomes smaller and smaller until it's so minuscule that only Alissa can see it, then we see a small black dot representing the tornado.

    "Well, that seems pretty far," Ciel says.

    "A few hours, maybe half a day?" I question.

    "Not sure. I don't know how to translate this zoom level into a real distance," Lina says.

    "Let's see what obstacles are in the way," I say.

    She increases the opacity of the purple and red smoke, but we can't really see anything since it's all so small.

    I get an idea and grab one of the glass panes beside the Scanner. It has a support frame that allows it to stay upright, so I think that it has some kind of use.

    When I put it on the table, the red and purple smoke starts to glow, making it much easier to see.

    "Interesting…" I mumble.

    "I guess that all that's left is figuring out how to control the Looping Winds?" Alissa asks and looks at Ciel and Aoi.

    "Well, that thing's a mess. The tornado is not the right way to use it, apparently," Ciel says with a wry smile.

    Aoi nods in agreement and says, "Tornado is not in the manual."

    "Have you tried turning it off and on again?" I ask.

    Ciel opens her mouth, then closes it, then bites her lip.

    Aoi blinks blankly then turns to her, "What a waste!"

    "I…" Ciel starts, but her voice dies down, then we break into laughter, and she blushes heavily.

    Aoi groans out loud and curls on the floor. "I'm taking a nap!" She angrily announces.



    The connections are already there, so turning it off and on again is not much of a problem. To be fair to Ciel, it does take a few hours for the Light crystals to stop and then resume charging the Wind one, so, if we could find a way to undo the tornado, it would save us some time.

    "I definitely didn't want to have us waste two hours of our morning waiting for the crystals to charge. Definitely," Ciel says and chuckles.

    I smile and gently tap her head, then pull her into a hug as we wait, sitting down on one of my sofas.

    Yunia discovers a way to increase the speed of the recharge, so our waiting time is reduced to an hour.

    Meanwhile, we continue our research into how to set up the Looping Wind. According to our calculations, the path won't be easy. There are lots of unidentified obstacles in the way, and too few safe spots to set an anchor. The longer the Looping Wind stays without an anchor point, the more twisted and unstable the path becomes.

    "I've identified a few dangerous spots," Roxanne says.

    We use the glass panes to help us see these obstacles better, but the path is so long that it takes a lot of effort to comb through all of it.

    "Zoom in on them, we could try to guess what they are from their shape," Ciel says.

    Lina fiddles with the knobs, and we start guessing. Most of them seem to be islands, a few are just too amorphous for us to make a guess, and the last one, which is right next to Ozymandias, is moving. By its shape and the way that it moves, it's a huge sky serpent, or something similar.

    "And there is our next challenge," Alissa says as we stare at the sky serpent.

    "More like the next boss," I say.

    "How big is that thing?" Hana asks.

    "Huge. We must be like ants compared to it," Lina says.

    Soon after, the crystal is finally done recharging, and we see on the scanner a black ring appearing around the station, so we start setting up the anchors.

    The inputs are all analog, so we have to count how many times we've turned the knob towards the target coordinate and hope that we didn't miscount. Then we turn the anchor on and search with the Scanner for a yellow dot, which is where it's been summoned.

    As each of the anchors is turned on, the black ring starts to stretch and roughly conform to the path we've calculated, so we can consider that a success. We also quickly check the return path, and it seems safe, so everything is ready.

    Once the Looping Winds settles, we create a map of all the way to Ozymandias using the obstacles as points of reference. It's like Roxanne said, a few points look dangerous to fly through, so we'll have to pay attention when we get close to them.



    We return to our ship and turn it on, then we unfurl the sail and spread the wings. I take ten points out of [Sword Use] and put them into [Piloting] again. Then we take off Aoi's armor so that she can fly more easily, and we each tie ourselves to a rope on the ship.

    Alissa breathes slowly to calm her heart and allow me to sync my body with hers.

    "Helm, warp nine, engage!" I yell and gently make the ship fly forward. Alissa rolls her eyes, but doesn't comment on it.

    "Are you having fun?!" Hana yells from the deck.

    "I sure am!" I yell back and grin.

    We leave the platform and find a large, gray tunnel waiting for us near the station. We fly past the station's four spinning arms, then stop in front of the tunnel. It's a half-circle made of gray smoke with the flat part facing up.

    The way the smoke flows seems like the sea when its windy: small, periodic waves form on the surface, following the direction of the wind. So, differently from the dust tunnels of the tornado that wanted to keep us stuck inside of them, this one pushes us up onto the flat part, then guides forward. This is like a sky road, or maybe a sky river.

    I sink the bottom of the ship into the smoke, then tilt the wings forward, and the ship is immediately pushed along. The wind is also coming up from behind, so both the wings and the sail are helping us move faster, removing the need for us to use the [Fly] crystal besides counteracting gravity.



    It's pretty easy to control the ship along the Looping Winds, so we relax a little and teach the golems how to do it in our stead. They have my memories from when I used to play flight simulators, so they should be able to learn this quite easily. Though, I'm only capable of achieving a smooth flight thanks to [Piloting], so they probably won't become as good pilots as me.

    Soon, the station is left behind, and the only thing that we can see is the gray sky road taking us through the infinite blue. Then Alissa notices a small cloud very far away.

    I summon Hollys and have them establish a perimeter around us. They see one lone cloud, then two, then three, then four, then eight, then twenty, then our vision of the infinite gets blocked by the numerous clouds that quickly increase in size.

    In only half an hour, we go from a clear sky to a stormy one, full of huge, white and gray clouds. The sky dims, so we turn on the ship's lights. The wind starts to become chaotic, and we see lightning inside the darker clouds.

    "We are getting closer to the first obstacle," Lina says through [Bind].

    "Stay alert, girls! This could get bumpy!" I warn them.

    In case anyone falls, Aoi will stay with Yunia, Hana with Roxanne, and Ciel with Lina. I'm concerned about keeping the golems out, but they can all fly with [Telekinesis], so I'll trust them to keep themselves safe.

    Lina climbs up to the bridge. "See that dark, scary cloud over there?" She asks and points to a mother fucking colossal storm cloud of black death approaching us.

    "Yes…?" I reply, anxious.

    "That's the red smoke that we saw on the Scanner."

    "We're going to pass close to that?" Alissa asks.

    "Not just close, but through," Lina answers.

    "I'll increase our speed to the maximum so that we spend the least amount of time inside it," I say.

    "Be careful," Lina says, a little anxious, and returns to her maps.

    The Looping Winds start to slowly wave from side-to-side and up and down. It's the instabilities that are affecting it. Further ahead, it'll get much worse.



    We're slowly dwarfed by the cloud of death, and the wind becomes even more chaotic, making the ship creak from the strain. The wind behind us also increases in strength, giving us even more speed.

    I wish I knew our current speed and the maximum that this ship was designed to tolerate.

    Thunder roars in the distance, slowly becoming stronger. The wind starts howling, and some light rain starts falling. The ship shakes, the turbulence too strong for me to counteract.

    Lightning lights up the sky road ahead for a moment, revealing how it plunges into a tunnel, surrounded by the storm of death.

    Slowly, the last remnants of illumination are left behind with the white clouds. The gigantic tunnel of death surrounds us, and the only things we can see are the sky road and the occasional burst of lightning. Thankfully, the wind is much calmer inside the tunnel, but now the problem is making sure that I stay in the Looping Winds.

    "There are two tight turns and a loop inside this tunnel," Lina reminds me through [Bind].

    Ciel and Lina go to the bow so that Ciel can use her glaive to create a headlight, helping me to see a bit further.

    Lightning cracks so close that we are temporarily blinded and deafened.

    Fuck! Should I go slow and safe or should I go fast to finish this quicker?!

    "There are monsters inside the storm!" Alissa warns us through [Bind].

    Fast it is, then.

    We power up the [Fly] crystal and go full speed ahead. The ship protests, but I know that it can handle at least this much.

    I use Alissa's [Sense Presence] to guide Roxanne, and she fires an [Ice Lance] into the cloud.

    "It's still alive," Alissa says. "Ah! Ahead!"

    Ciel illuminates it for us: a head made of a conical dark cloud; a neck formed by constant lightning; a chest composed of mossy rock; arms and legs shaped like tornadoes of dust. A storm elemental.

    Aoi builds up an explosive fireball inside her, Ciel prepares [Wind Hammer], Roxanne prepares a thick [Ice Lance], and the other girls charge up [Earth Bullet]s.

    "Let us help," Ted asks.

    "We know how to fight Storm Elementals," Suzy affirms.

    I pull three boulders out of my "Items."

    "Have fun," I say.

    The storm elemental fires a bolt of lightning towards Ciel, but it's diverted by Lina's [Dead Zone] and strikes the hull, slightly damaging it.

    "We can't let them destroy the ship!" I warn them.

    I take five points out of [Parry] and put them into [Enhanced Reflexes]. I'm going to need this.

    "Focus on flying!" I say with [Godly Language]. My mind clears, and my body relaxes, but my heart rate stays fast.

    We fly past the elemental, and the girls release their spells, obliterating it before it can throw more lightning at us.

    I summon five electric elementals. The plasma balls float around the bridge, silently waiting for orders.

    "Protect the ship, but priority goes to the wings and the sails!" I order them. They'll guard the ship, but this doesn't make us invulnerable. "Now it's all on you, girls. Alissa and I are too busy piloting, we can't help any more."

    "Leave it to us!" Aoi confidently exclaims.

    "Lots more ahead," Alissa warns.

    "Barrage! Pick a target and fire, then switch! Don't try to destroy them!" Lina relays Ciel's orders.

    Alissa's "radar" is filled with dots, so I use [Bind] to feed this information directly to the girls. They fire their spells into the dark clouds, then lightning is thrown back at us in response. Most of it is diverted by our electric elementals, but the sheer number of attacks overwhelms them, and a few get through. Some planks explode, but the damage is minimal.

    Another wave arrives, and fewer bolts hit the ship this time. The girls are adapting to my information sharing.

    A third wave comes, and the same thing happens.

    "Curve!" Lina warns us.

    We move the ship to the left side of the lane, then we roll it 45º and start pulling the nose up.

    We leave the Looping Winds since we turned too early, and the ship slows down a lot. Then we sink back into it again, and our vision is clouded by smoke because we didn't turn hard enough.

    We bring the ship vertical again, and the smoke pulls us up without our input, then we surface and cough. The smoke is magical, so it's not completely suffocating, but it's still not air, so it's not good for our lungs to breathe it in.

    "Behind!" Alissa warns.

    A salvo of lightning bolts hits the back of the ship before the girls can counter it. A hole is opened up in the stern, but the electric elementals are defending the wings and sail perfectly.

    We quickly leave these storm elementals behind, but then they start appearing all around the tunnel. Their numbers are less concentrated than before, but they still force the girls to be constantly fighting.

    Without them having the needed numbers to overwhelm the electric elementals, we don't receive any damage from their lightning bolts.

    But the dungeon's aim might not be to destroy us, it could simply be trying to tire us out.

    "Curve!" Lina warns us again.

    I've learned my lesson, I won't come into a curve too fast like a noob again. We repeat the same preparations as before, but this time, I slow down the ship's forward speed, and we make the turn without a problem.

    Then the sky river starts to wave again, and I get a bad feeling about this.

    "Loop!" Lina warns.

    "Ahead!" Alissa warns, too.

    Fuck.

    We flex our muscles to keep them from shaking, but the tension makes them hurt. The road starts turning upwards, and we gently follow it, keeping our speed at the limit that the ship can handle without leaving the Looping Winds.

    The girls struggle to aim correctly, and when we go vertical, the belly of the ship gets hit repeatedly.

    We turn upside down, and the girls all miss their spells, too busy trying to hold on to the ship to aim.

    Then we finally start pointing downwards, and the bolts hitting the ship reduce in number until they stop completely.

    The sky river straightens out, and we reach a new speed record. We go so fast that the wind hurts my eyes and makes it hard to see.

    I need aviation goggles.

    Soon after, the last of the storm elementals is left behind, and then we're clear of the clouds of death. The cold winds and rain hit us again, but they're nothing in comparison to what we just went through.

    Up ahead, we start to see something shining in the sky, then a burst of lightning reveals it to us: a fucking-huge floating island.

    "Our first landmark," Lina says.

    The first anchor is nearby, so I think we could get some rest over there. Lunchtime is coming up soon, and I don't want to fly on an empty stomach.

    We get closer and closer to the huge lump of rock and crystal. It must be larger than a mountain.

    It arches over the Looping Winds, sheltering us from the rainstorm. Soon, the wind stops, and we reach the calm.

    I pull the ship out of the sky river and park it right beside an exposed Wind crystal on the floating island.

    "I want to try something," I say.

    Alissa sighs and turns to me, looking slightly tired. "The last time you tried this, you hurt yourself. You certainly didn't go slow like you said you would," she says reproachfully.

    I smile guiltily and reply, "I have to find a way to control small amounts of mana. Last time, I couldn't really focus on that because of how desperate we were."

    She lifts up my visor and kisses my lips.

    "Fine. Just be careful."



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tiler Mills.
    Nobel CHoobler.
     
  9. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    19/06 - Attention: I'm taking a week off from writing to increase the censoring of Royal Road's version of Rupegia. The censoring will be very rough as I'll just be deleting most of the references to sexual content. For those who think the story sometimes has too much sex, you can always go there, though I'll be deleting even the sex jokes, so a lot of the fun will be lost.



    I go down to the deck and walk to the starboard railing. I see the exposed dark green crystal just a few meters away from me, slowly pulsating with light and mana.

    The girls discuss lunch. Lina wants a veggie soup with toast, which would be perfect in this cold and rainy weather. Yunia doesn't seem thrilled at the suggestion, but she doesn't complain, so the girls go with it.

    I slowly take off my wooden armor and focus on the mana of the crystal. I take my ten points out of [Piloting] and put them into [Sense Mana] instead. There's always some kind of "flavor" to mana, so I'm hoping that'll help with my [Redirect Mana] research.

    Aoi stops beside me and [Clean]s the floor of rainwater, then curls up into a ball. I sit down and lay against her body. She's quite warm, but unfortunately, she isn't fluffy like fox-Alissa is.

    "What do you know about [Wind Magic]?" I ask her.

    "Hmm~…" She thinks deeply, and I hear her grumbles inside my soul space.

    She lays her tail on my lap, so I start playing with it.

    "Wind is unpredictable. Like water, you can't control all of it, so you have to find a way to 'flow' along with it. You have to 'become' the wind," she answers.

    She spreads her long blue wings, and I feel mana escape her body. Without even flapping them, she causes a strong gust of wind to hit me in the face.

    She chuckles, then says, "My wings aren't actually good at 'swimming' through the air. Actually, my whole body is bad at doing that… Anyway, I'm bad at 'swimming,' but I don't need to do that to fly, I simply control the air around me and force it to push me up."

    "Right, that's 'lift.' Your body isn’t that aerodynamic, so you have trouble 'cutting' through the air. To fix that, you make a 'bubble' or a 'shield' of air around you, which is aerodynamic."

    "Oh, yeah, I think that it's like that."

    "Air is a fluid, like water, and the faster that you move it, the harder it is to 'push' this air away and 'swim' through it. So, by making a certain shape with the wind, you improve your aerodynamics. You also control how the wind hits your bubble, so you have some resistance to undesirable weather, like strong winds, or rogue gusts."

    She nods and shows me a toothy smile. "Mhm, that's why we rule the skies. Birds just fly 'through' the air, but dragons 'become' the air and control it."

    She lays her left wing over me like a leathery blanket.

    "Are you talking about [Wind Magic]?" Ciel asks and stops beside us to stare at the pulsating crystal.

    The golems are preparing the ingredients for the soup, so there's little work left for the girls.

    "Yep. I'm trying to understand what it's all about so that I can control it better," I answer.

    "What did you tell him?" Ciel asks Aoi.

    She retells our short conversation and Ciel starts thinking.

    She sits beside us and starts petting Aoi's scaly head as she says, "It's important to understand that at smaller scales, the wind is completely chaotic, but the more you increase the scale, like when you start to talk about the weather, the more certain it becomes. It's even possible to predict when it'll rain and the temperature of a certain day."

    "Oh, right. We have that on Earth, too," I say.

    Ciel nods. "It's the duality of Wind. On one hand, it's slow and predictable, on the other, it's fast and chaotic."

    "To fly, you become the wind, adding yourself to the chaos, but always using it with purpose," Aoi says.

    We go silent and continue admiring the crystal.

    Yunia goes down into the hold and starts repairing the ship. I pull out some spare planks the ship had in its cargo and summon an orc to bring them down to her.

    If these planks didn't disappear when I put them in my "Items," does that mean that the whole ship is real and not a dungeon mana solidification? I figured that it was part of the dungeon's challenge to take care of it and not let it get destroyed, but if I store it in my "Items" and it disappears, then we'll be in trouble.

    I pull out a cushion for Ciel and Aoi, then I use [Telekinesis] on all three of us to lift us onto them without having to get up.

    "Thank you," Aoi says, and Ciel raises a questioning eyebrow at me.

    "I'm not going to comment on how much mana I just spent," I say and grin.

    I return to my study of the crystal and extend a very thin "soul-tentacle" towards it so that I can feel the mana better.

    Since my mana isn't full, this piece of my soul becomes a "mouth" through which I can absorb the mana. If I "flex" my soul to be more similar to the signature of the mana that I'm trying to absorb, it gets "attracted" to my soul, making the absorption easier. This "flexing" used to strain me, but now that I have [Soul Manipulation], it's rather trivial to do in practice. But just altering the properties of the soul isn't enough; having a deeper knowledge of how things work will always be beneficial to magic.

    Since I can't see the wind, sight won't help me, so I close my eyes and meditate.

    To become the wind I have to… feel it.

    I open my eyes again and push Aoi's blanket away, then I stand up and regretfully part with her warmth. I walk to the railing and open my scale jacket so that I can feel more of the wind against my skin.

    I close my eyes again and meditate.

    I remember the Reynolds Number, the coefficient that represents the turbulence in the flow of fluids. This number is proof that even chaos can be quantified.

    I spread my soul through the air so that I can feel its flow. Everything is going through constant, chaotic movement, but I can see how it flows around the archway in a predictable manner.

    I activate [Redirect Mana] near the crystal and observe how the mana particles slowly come to me, almost like a breeze. I pull a bit too much, so I stop and let it flow freely.

    I start playing around with the mana, pulling it only for second in one direction, then in another, as if I'm making brushstrokes with it, then creating swirls in the air.

    Aoi chuckles, and Ciel asks, "What are you doing? I'm feeling the mana moving in an odd way."

    "I'm 'painting' with mana," I answer and give her a gentle smile. "If only I could make the particles visible…"

    The mana swishes and swooshes within my extended soul, creating a little turbulence as the particles start to interact with one another.

    It seems that it's much easier to control mana when I have the right mindset.

    I start to chant [Wind Blade], and I move the point where I gather mana from my heart to the air in front of me, in the middle of all the Wind mana. As expected, the wild mana converges around my gathering point, boosting my spell. This is also why Roxanne uses a staff and casts her spells from its tip, the crystal on her staff helps gather the ambient mana to boost her spells.

    I release the spell, and it makes a scratch in the stone, but I'm sure that Roxanne can make a much deeper one.

    Mana from a crystal seems easy to "steal" with [Redirect Mana] because it has no "will." The problem is when two wills clash when they try to take control of the same mana particles. The two conflicting wills can't force the mana to be two things at the same time, so this bends the laws of reality, and some bad shit happens.

    Perhaps I could stop enchantments with it, though it would require me to move my soul close to the gem, which would make me extremely vulnerable to a Spirit mage.

    But what about completed spells? No… you can still control most spells after they've been completed or launched. I don't think that I could've stopped [Meteor] with [Redirect Mana].

    Ah! But maybe I could recreate the effects of Yunia's [Disruption Field] by using [Redirect Mana]!

    I spread my soul in two directions, then I start flickering [Redirect Mana] on and off on each of the ends.

    The mana quickly whips up into a small storm, but it's nowhere near the amount of chaos that I saw with Yunia's [Disruption Field], and it's also moving a shit ton of mana.

    Of course, Yunia's spell is a perfected tool, while I'm trying to do the same thing with only a makeshift replacement.

    "Ciel, help me a little, try to chant and cast [Conjure Water]," I ask, then I turn the mana storm to her.

    "This is really uncomfortable," she says as the mana particles wrack through her body, then she starts chanting, but she succeeds without much extra effort.

    "Hm… a failure…" I mumble.

    She smiles wryly and says, "You need a lot more disruption to prevent me from casting. Also, with this amount of mana you might actually damage my HP before you manage to interrupt my spell."

    I start chanting [Wind Blade], building the spell outside of my heart again, but this time I pull in a lot of Wind mana from the crystal.

    "Careful not to pull too much. You could make the whole island fall on us," Ciel warns me.

    I won't go that far.

    I start spinning the mana around the spell, but that only disrupts it. Maybe if I had a Wind-attuned gem, I could bring the mana to it, and it would help boost the spell.

    But just "boosting" it isn't enough. I want to absorb this Wind mana and directly feed it into the spell. Now that would be novel, though [Ritualism] supposedly links multiple mages' mana together to cast bigger spells, so it's not completely novel.

    I stop the storm and hold it in place, then I continue chanting. When I'm almost finished, I turn my soul into a "mouth," allowing it to absorb all the Wind mana gathered around it, then I release the spell.

    "[Wind Blade]!" The nearly invisible green blade sinks into the rock beside the first scratch.

    "Did that one cut deeper?" Ciel asks.

    I jump and use [Telekinesis] to glide to the rock, then I run my fingers through each scratch.

    "A little," I answer.

    "I think I understand what you just tried to do," Ciel says.

    "I'm trying to use [Redirect Mana] to feed my spell directly, not just 'boost' it by proximity," I say.

    "Yep, I knew it."

    I smile wryly and return to the ship.

    Recharging my mana organ with [Redirect Mana] is straining, so I want to find alternative uses for the skill. If I can get this idea to work, I can carry a gem large enough to cast a huge defensive spell that could stop four [Meteor]s.



    I continue my practice of using [Redirect Mana] to fuel my spells, but the problem is that it also refills my mana, so there's still some strain happening.

    Maybe I could make a spell that didn't gather mana first, then I could fill it with mana from a crystal instead of using my own, but that would take a lot of effort to come to fruition.

    I don't want to tire myself out with this simple practice, so I stop and go down into the hold to inspect the ship's crystal. I identify the area in the gem where the mana is being stored, then I bring the island's Wind mana to the crystal, refilling it.

    "Oh, hey, at least this idea worked perfectly," I say with a smile.

    Yunia comes to inspect what I'm doing and comments, "That's… actually a really good thing. It might make ships more viable in the future if your skill spreads."

    "How are the gems normally recharged?" I ask.

    "Mages would use their own mana to refill it, but I heard that the Chimeras collect Light magic, then transform it into what they need, just like in the Looping Winds Station that we just came from. It's rather ironic since they aren't very pious and don't use [Light Magic] for much besides that."

    "Can't they use Wind mana directly, instead?"

    "There's not enough Wind mana in the Sky Lands. You have to fly to the outer circle around the continent to reach higher mana concentrations, but then you also have to deal with the Drifting Lands and the strong winds, so it's not worth it."

    "You know a lot about the Chimeras."

    She smiles proudly. "We have trade relations with them, so it pays off to know what they need."

    "If you can predict the weather, can't you predict the path of a Drifting Land? If you have them all predicted, there would be little danger of crashing into them."

    "Every once in a while, the Everlasting Storm creates a new Drifting Land. You can predict the existing ones, but you'd need constant vigilance; otherwise, one day, a Drifting Land could crash into a new Land and ruin all your calculations."

    "Ah, I see."

    She nods gently. "You certainly don't think like a commoner. You're more of a scholar, but you'll do well as a True Noble."

    "Well, thank you," I awkwardly accept her compliment.

    We finish our repairs of the hull, then we go up and have our lunch.

    We eat hot soup in the warmth of our tent while looking to the outside and admiring the storm off in the distance.



    After everything is done, we pack up, armor up, and return to our positions. We bring the ship back to the Looping Winds and continue on our journey.

    We soon pass through the first anchor, and we notice how still the air has become. Even our sail loses power since there isn't a single gust of wind coming from anywhere. Fortunately, we already have a lot of momentum, so we spend a short time crossing it.

    The storm clouds are left behind us, but we're now entering a thick sea of white clouds. Every once in a while, we see islets peeking out of the clouds. This is the danger of this area. If we drift off course, we might crash into something. Not that there's any reason for us to leave the Looping Winds for now.

    Over the course of half an hour, it slowly gets darker until we can barely see, forcing us to keep the crystal lights on, then the number of clouds reduces a little, and we see the sky again. Night has fallen, and we see a beautiful starry sky full of colorful nebulae. Then the clouds start to glow and gain muted colors, giving it a truly fantastical atmosphere. This area's mostly dark blue, but it's slowly changing to purple.

    "Wow…" Alissa mutters, impressed at the beautiful sight. "We really are in the Broken Skies."

    Lina's Trivia: Above the Sky Lands are the ruins of an ancient Chimeric empire, now a nearly untraversable region, full of Drifting Lands colliding with one another and wild, unpredictable Looping Winds everywhere. This place is called the Broken Skies.

    A few colorful birds take flight from a hidden islet and fly near our ship.

    "Are these monsters?" I ask Alissa.

    "No, they're animals," she answers and admires them.

    Their tails are nearly four times longer than their bodies. They seem rather sleek, and I'd bet that they attack by diving.

    Three birds land on the railings of our ship, and we notice that they're actually slightly chameleonic as their color changes in just a few seconds from purplish-blue to light brown to match the wood. They're also rather big, around 60cm tall, excluding the ridiculously long tail, and they have long, thin beaks.

    The golems come up to the bridge again, and Ted says, "Excuse us, masters, but this stretch of the journey is supposedly safe."

    Suzy continues, "So this is the perfect opportunity to let us learn to pilot the ship while you enjoy the scenery."

    Jarn finishes, "We wish to learn and earn independence so that you may come to rely on us."

    I share a look with Alissa. "Sounds fine to me," I say.

    "Yes, that sounds nice," Alissa agrees and smiles.

    We untie ourselves from the ropes on the bridge, then I sweep Alissa off her feet and pick her up into a princess carry.

    "Kyah!" She yelps in surprise and hugs my neck.

    Without wasting a breath, I jump off the bridge and use [Telekinesis] to graciously land on the deck.

    "I give your landing a solid eight out of ten," Roxanne says with a grin.

    I let Alissa get her feet back under her, and she pinches my cheek, then I turn to Roxanne and ask, "What do I need to get a ten out of ten?"

    "You have [Acrobatics], use it," she responds.

    "Hah, alright."

    Ciel tries to slowly approach the birds while holding some grains in her hand, but the birds seem uninterested in them.

    "I'd guess that they prefer meat," I say and pull out some of the raw Dragolite meat that we have.

    "Can't you give them some of the dried meat?" Hana asks.

    "Too salty, it would probably be bad for them," I answer.

    Ciel takes a slab of meat and starts slicing it into small strips. The birds notice the meat and start to intently stare at her.

    I smile and say, "See?"

    Alissa gets two ropes on the deck and ties one around my waist and the other around hers.

    Ciel smiles like a little girl and throws a strip towards a bird. They all open their long beaks and snap at the meat, but the one in the middle is the victor.

    She throws more meat, making sure that each of the birds gets an equal share. She slowly steps forward with each throw, observing the birds for any aggressive movement.

    Once all the meat is gone, Yunia walks up beside Ciel and says, "It's fine, they like you. You can touch them now."

    "Really?" Ciel happily asks.

    Gify pops onto the head of the middle bird. "Gih!"

    Ciel skips forward and stops in front of the left bird. Its amber, hawk-like eyes stare curiously at her.

    She shyly reaches out towards it, then the bird lowers its head and rubs it against her hand.

    "Ah… so fluffy," she moans.

    It lets out a soft, melodic cry in happiness.

    Yunia goes to pet the second bird, then Lina comes to pet the third, but it has to first hop down to the deck before she can reach it.

    The birds send worried glances at Aoi, but eventually accept her presence. They also seem slightly wary of Hana, and they avoid looking me, specifically, in the eye.

    The now muted purple clouds slowly shift into a muted red. Their glow seems to have a subtle pulse to it, giving us the impression that they're constantly moving.

    The golems quickly adapt to working together to pilot the ship. Jarn seemingly has the most stable hands, so she takes charge of the roll and yaw, which require the finest control to counter any turbulence.

    Some vegetation starts to appear, all odd-looking plants and trees. If they're truly native to the Broken Skies, then it's natural to think that they'd look different from normal vegetation after being isolated from the rest of the world for so long.

    We drink the usual not-earl gray tea and some simple cookies while taking turns petting and playing with the birds.

    More birds appear on the islets, but they aren't as majestic, or intelligent, as the ones currently enjoying our hospitality.

    A few Dragolites appear, wanting to either attack us, or eat the now named Long-Tailed Chamebirb, but they're barely stronger than a goblin, so we can easily dispatch them, even with our eyes closed.

    The birds eventually leave, not wanting to get too far from their usual hunting territory, so we end our little break, but we don't stop admiring the environment.

    The muted reds of the clouds are replaced by muted greens, and the islets suddenly become lush with vegetation.

    Then we see a huge flat bird the size of a car that looks more like a manta ray than a bird. It flies so slowly that it must be using mana to float. It has a long, seagull-like beak, and eyes at the sides of its flat head. Its dark gray plumage absorbs some of the colors from the environment, giving it a measure of camouflage.

    The now named Manta Gull seemingly has a flock of small birds nesting on its back. When a Dragolite appears to attack them, they band together to defend their nest and fight alongside the Manta, who uses its thin, long tail like a whip.

    No fantasy world is complete without a peaceful, slow, and large flying creature.

    Alissa suddenly draws her bow and fires it at a small cloud. The mana arrow gets stuck in the cloud, which hisses and shivers, then fades into nothing.

    "Oh, a Cloud Snake," I say, then I remember that I dreamed about it in that nightmare about the Hands chasing us. I shudder and push that horrible memory out of my mind.

    Just as we're about to relax from our vigilance, the wind starts to pick up speed again, becoming too strong for the golems to pilot the ship smoothly anymore.

    I look at Alissa and smile wryly. "Break time's over."

    Lina scurries up to us and says, "The next dangerous area is approaching, it's the rapids," Lina says.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tiler Mills.
    Noble CHoobler.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2020
  10. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    Break time is over. We return to the bridge and take over the controls. The golems may do fine with a simple order such as "follow the Looping Winds," but they still don't have enough creative thinking to deal with unexpected dangers.

    The sky road starts to sway from side-to-side, then sharp turns start to appear. We furl the sail because the wind is too strong, and this allows us to control the ship better. If we also close the wings, we won't be pushed along so strongly by the Looping Winds, but it also makes it easier for us to fly out of it.

    The clouds have been blocking our view more, and the number of hidden islets has increased, so flying out of the Looping Winds is getting more dangerous than before. Not only that, but we don't have a working compass, so it'll be extremely easy to get lost in the clouds if we lose sight of the Looping Winds.

    Then we see many tight turns ahead, making us become very nervous.

    "Focus on flying!" I say with [Godly Language], and a wave of confidence hits us, reducing our anxiety.

    We trace a path in our minds and prepare to follow it. We swing the ship to the right and get ready to swing back to the left when the turn starts.

    Five seconds.

    Four.

    Three.

    Two.

    One.

    Now!

    We turn to the left, and a second later, the sky road follows.

    We quickly realize how slow and heavy this ship is from seeing how our turning speed is much slower than what we expected. Because of this and the Looping Winds hitting the side of the ship, we're being pushed off the sky river.

    We slow down the ship to give us more time to turn, but the ship's [Fly] gem isn't powerful enough. We lose all forward momentum and drift harder.

    We think about closing the wings fully, but [Piloting] gives me a new idea. I open the wings and unfurl the sail. The ship creaks as we gain a huge boost of speed, and the girls on the deck yelp in surprise.

    Sorry!

    Fighting the rapids won't work, we have to fly through them head-on!

    The next turn is to the right, and it comes after mere seconds, so we bank the ship to the right, half-submerging it in the smoke, and pitch up.

    The sky road suddenly turns down, so we roll the ship upside-down and continue pitching up.

    We surface below the sky road, which pushes us up to the surface, so we continue rolling clockwise until we're positioned sideways to the left, then we immediately pitch up again, making a banked turn to left.

    Before the turn is completed, we roll to the right and sink into the smoke, then make another banked turn, preempting the tight curve coming up.

    We finally turn upright, allowing us to cough out the smoke for a few brief seconds, then we see the sky road turn upwards so sharply that it looks like a wall.

    [Piloting] triggers a desperate warning in our minds. We fold the wings, furl the sails, and point the ship upright, sinking into the smoke again, then we speed forward at full speed.

    We rise out of the sky road, then hit the smoke wall. We open the wings and unfurl the sails again, but we continue sinking into the smoke due to our momentum.

    We slip out of the sky road through the bottom, then we hear a crash, followed by scraping. My Holly at the bottom of the hull is crushed as the ship hits an islet.

    The sail is still inside the smoke, so we get forcefully pushed forward, and the ship scrapes along for a few seconds before the [Fly] gem manages to push us away from the islet.

    The crash was actually a Godssend since it slowed us down, allowing us to make the next three turns without a problem, while also allowing me time to summon another Holly and inspect the damage.

    There's now a big hole in the hold where a pillar of rock pierced through it before breaking off. A lot of the planks are cracked and bent, but that type of damage is easily repaired. The best part, though, is that the bottom part of the hull will hold, and we aren't at risk of suddenly losing half of the ship.

    Heh, what a sturdy bathtub.

    The sky road suddenly turns vertical again, and the smoke pushes us up at a frightening speed. The instability has reached its apex.

    Then we see it: at the top of this climb, there's another super tight curve that ends in a vertical drop. Beyond the sky road, we see a dozen cones of rock peeking through from behind the clouds, like the tips of a spike trap, waiting for us to crash onto it.

    All around us, there's only islets, making it very dangerous to leave the sky road.

    Is this a deliberate trap?!

    I switch around the points of the girls while I let Alissa take control of the ship.

    She folds the wings and furls the sails again, but the smoke is pushing on us too hard, and we don't slow down significantly. She pitches up the ship until we are facing backward, then she rolls us to align the ship with the surface.

    "USE [WIND HAMMER] TO OPEN A HOLE IN THE ROCKS AHEAD!" I order through [Bind], and the girls relay it to the non-bound ones, then they all go to the ship's aft.

    Gify pops onto my head and nestles inside my helmet, eager to see what's about to happen.

    Oh, you little shit. Just watch me fucking dominate this challenge!

    Alissa releases the controls and grabs her elven bow. She lays against the control panel so that she can draw it and concentrate all her mana into a single shot.

    Ciel's glaive glows like a star as she charges up her own attack along with the others. Then she floods the deck with Wind mana, taking it from the islets nearby to boost our spells.

    I get an idea and extend my soul to the rock trap above us, the furthest I've ever reached with it.

    "FIRE AFTER ALISSA!" I order through [Bind].

    I use [Redirect Mana] to pull all the Wind mana that I can draw from the islets.

    The girls are ready, we only have a few seconds left.

    I focus on Alissa's sight so that I can see better.

    One islet twitches, then slowly starts to sink.

    THERE!

    I guide Alissa, and she releases the arrow towards it. The bottom part of the islet gets blown off by the arrow, but that's not enough.

    I grab the islet with [Telekinesis], then push it to the side.

    MOOO~VE!

    "[EXPLOSION]!" Roxanne casts at the side of the islet, pushing it away.

    "[WIND HAMMER]!" The rest of the girls cast in unison.

    A sonic boom hits us as all the boosted spells are launched at the same time, then Ciel casts her [Beam] immediately after that.

    Half of the islet is melted or blown away, and the rest of it gets pushed to the side by my [Telekinesis].

    A rock comes straight at my face.

    Fuck!

    Without my metal enchanted shield, I'm forced to trigger [Enhanced Reflexes] and [Muscle Explosion] at the same time to dodge it.

    A second rock comes, but now I have enough time to divert it with [Telekinesis]. The other girls are safe since they have their enchanted shields on hand.

    We turn to the controls and make our final adjustments.

    The ship reaches the top of the climb and flies off the Looping Winds. We snugly fit through the hole we opened in the islets, then we open the wings again and unfurl the sails, suddenly and heavily increasing our drag and decelerating.

    HAH! WE'RE GETTING BETTER AT THIS!

    We feel the pressure from the heavy deceleration, then the ship's aft gently touches an islet, and we remain still for a few seconds.

    The view is breathtaking. If only we weren't vertical and barely hanging on, we could fully appreciate the chaotic and fantastical sight. Then we start to fall.

    This time, we are slow enough that we can turn the ship and safely re-enter the sky road.

    "GIIH!" Gify cheers, and I laugh out loud.

    The rapids continues, but we start getting used to its unpredictability and learn how to make the ship go through the maneuvers that we want it to.

    The rapids slow down to more manageable speeds, then the sky road straightens out. Soon after, we reach another anchor, and we take the opportunity to stop and make repairs.

    The beams holding the wings have been stressed too much and started to crack, so we make some repairs on them, too. Lina helps this time with a [Grow] magic tool. The tool is more limited than using the spell yourself, but it's still helpful.



    I sit on the railing of the deck and take in the sight. The clouds have now turned a muted light blue and are slowly darkening. They've also cleared up a bit, allowing us to see further than before.

    The islets grow to a size that they can now be called actual islands. They're also visibly moving, and if we consider how far away they are, it means that they're going really fast.

    "Wow, that's… frightening," Alissa comments as she stares at large islands crashing into one another. Their impact is so strong that it creates a disk of rocks and dust that's launched away at high speeds.

    Then, a moment later, the shock wave hits us. The loud bang makes us wince due to its volume, and Alissa suffers the most.

    "INCOMING!" Hana yells.

    I summon three wind elementals to deal with the approaching debris barrage, then I pull out my shield from my "Items" and activate [Wind Shield].

    Rocks and boulders of varying sizes pelt us, and a few break into the hold.

    "Godsdamnit! We just fixed the hull!" Yunia complains.

    "Make sure the gem doesn't get damaged!" Lina yells.

    Yunia nods and goes down to the hold, and I summon two earth elementals to form themselves into a cocoon around it.

    We return to the bridge and take over the controls again with a sigh. We've barely had any time to rest.

    More rocks come from above, having been lobbed in our direction by the impact. Nobody gets hurt, but a rock hits the deck and crashes through to the hold, frustrating Yunia again.

    Suddenly, far off in the distance, a huge volcano erupts.

    Oh, boy.

    Another shock wave hits us and hurts our ears, but this time, it's strong enough that it rattles our bones. I immediately cast [Heal] on Alissa to stop the pain in her ears.

    "Thank you," she mutters.

    The volcano spews out a column of red hot lava and smoke; long trails of lava make kilometers-long arches in all directions; and lightning courses through the gigantic plume of toxic smoke and debris that continues to increase in size.

    Forecast: lava and smoke.

    "Next danger: the maelstrom," Lina says through [Bind].

    Two islands collide nearby us again, and another debris barrage hits the ship. This time, though, we're prepared for it, and we manage to protect the ship from getting damaged.

    For some reason, the islands in this location keep moving towards one another. The only thing that's different about this area is that the mana is wild and unpredictable.

    Ciel frowns and calls for Lina's attention. "There's something odd here. I feel a 'need' to go to the center of this maelstrom," she says to Lina.

    "The ship will pass close by it. The center is calm, so there's an anchor there," Lina responds.

    Ciel nods anxiously and looks ahead.

    Clouds of dust threaten to blind us, so the girls and the elementals work together to clear them off the sky road.

    Suddenly, a ginormous island as massive as the entirety of Rabanara bursts out of a purple cloud, it's flying directly towards us at an incredible speed. We are right in the middle of its path, so going forward or backward will have the same result.

    "I don't think we can outrun that," Alissa says, worriedly.

    Is someone seriously slinging islands at us?!

    "Now's the time to turn on the afterburner fueled by the power of friendship," I mumble and grin.

    "The what?" Alissa questions.

    "Afterburner. As if we could use more mana to give us even more speed at the cost of efficiency."

    "Hm… that'd be something useful to have."

    "Remind me to suggest it to Lina sometime."

    "Understood."

    "Lina, can you ask Ciel if she knows a way to use magic to make us go faster?" I ask through [Bind].

    "No."

    Well, shit.

    I pitch the ship up and leave the sky road, then I get Alissa to carefully look over the entire island while I think of something.

    "So… this is bad," Aoi says in my soul space.

    "Ciel says that we're going to get blown away by the wind that's enveloping the island," Lina says.

    Shite…

    "Crazy idea time!" I yell and Alissa frowns. "I'll jump onto the island and open a [Gate] to a plank, then Hana slams the plank against the ship's bottom!"

    "Wow… Wolfy…" Alissa mutters, stunned.

    "AHAHAHAHAHA! THIS IS SO STUPID THAT IT JUST MIGHT WORK!" Hana bellows inside my soul space.

    "Hey, what do you mean by that?" I ask, a little offended. My idea is crazy, but it's not "stupid"!

    "Okay, it's silly to use [Gate] like that, but it'll work. Just… how are you going to land on that island?" Yunia asks through Aoi.

    "Actually… the island must be displacing a huge amount of air. Approaching that would be pretty difficult for me, so I'll use a boulder, instead. I'll put a [Gate] coordinate on it, then throw it and make sure that it lands on the island. If it lands safely, then I can just teleport everyone!"

    "See? I told you it was stupid," Hana says with a snort.

    "That was just the initial idea! I needed time to develop a proper plan!" I protest, and she just laughs.

    "Then you'd better start with this plan, we don't have a lot of time," Ciel says through Lina as she warily eyes the approaching island.

    I unassign my useless points until I have enough to cast [Fly].

    "Ted, Suzy, and Jarn: Alissa's the captain now," I say and release the controls.

    "Understood, master," Ted says.

    Ciel's [Holy Spirit] jumps up onto the bridge, then scurries over to me and climbs up my body. It finds its preferred spot right behind my head, and Gify greets it with a happy chirp.

    "I'll be right back, my love," I say to all the girls through [Bind], then I cast [Fly] and jump.

    I'm suddenly assaulted by the exhilarating and also frightening feeling of being freed from the shackles that chain us to the ground. And not only that, but I'm also charging straight at an island that's trying to hit me. Can anyone in all of history say that they've been slammed by an entire fucking island? I want to believe that I'm the first.

    Alissa directs the ship to fly away from the island to give me more time.

    The looming mass of pure rock and death gets closer and closer. I start to hear its rumble as it violently pushes an inconceivably large volume of air out of its way.

    I continue flying up and try to look for an inclined location to throw the boulder at. The turbulence the island is creating might be less over there.

    I stretch my soul a lot further ahead so that I can feel the air and stop before I get swept up by the turbulence.

    I start to discern the details of the island. It's an inhospitable landscape, full of jagged mountains, pointed crystals protruding out of the ground, and dark valleys in between them.

    My soul detects a frighteningly fast torrent of air ahead, so I stop and fly backwards. I pull out a boulder and a plank from my "Items," put a [Gate] coordinate on the boulder, then use [Telekinesis] to throw it at the island. I keep extending my soul towards the surface, waiting for the right moment.

    I spend several long seconds breathing heavily with anxiety as the torrent of air gets closer and closer to me.

    Suddenly, my soul touches the ground, then I stop using [Fly] and put all of my effort into decelerating the boulder with [Telekinesis]. It's so far away that I can't even see it anymore.

    The torrent of air reaches me, and I'm swept away.

    Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

    I spin like crazy and get so dizzy that I release [Telekinesis], and my soul returns to me. Then I open a [Gate] to the boulder on the plank that I'm holding and touch it.

    My spinning immediately stops, but I'm now free-falling towards the island, and the disorientation is dulling my responses.

    A FUCKING DRAGON WOULD NEVER CRASH INTO THE GROUND!

    I roar and flood myself with the anger of a dragon, then I cast [Fly] again and open my eyes.

    I see something shining green right in front of me, then I crash against a crystal.

    "WOLFY!" Alissa's worried voice sends a wave of guilt through me. I may have fucking crashed, but at least I didn't pass out.

    My pain immediately fades away and turns into pleasure as Ciel's [Holy Spirit] starts its work.

    With the help of the dragon's energy flowing through my veins, I immediately get up and check the damage. I see a few cracks on my armor, including my visor, but overall, I'm fine. [Fly] canceled most of the momentum of my fall, so it wasn't like I just fell from Gods-know-how-high.

    I think Alissa is right; I'm doing some stupid shit lately.

    But it sure is fucking fun…

    No time to waste, I scan my surroundings and notice that I'm inside a hole surrounded by green, glowing crystals. The wind howls a few meters above me as a stupidly high amount of air is forcefully displaced by the island.

    I fly out of the hole, and I'm nearly swept up by the wind, so I remain close to the surface and fly towards the center of the island.

    The time the girls have left is slowly running out, so I speed up as much as I can without crashing.

    I finally reach the top of this fucking mountain and sigh in relief. This whole island seems like two meteors that joined together. After cresting the mountain, there's a lot of flat ground that isn't getting blasted by the strong winds running along the meteor's face.

    I fly down a stony slope and land on a large strip of flat, straight rock, then I drop a coordinate there and open a [Gate] to the deck of the ship.

    "Miss me?!" I yell after I cross it.

    "Sure did," Roxanne says in a warm tone.

    "Ack! You're wounded! Bad, Wolfy! Bad!" Alissa chastises me, and I smile guiltily.

    I pull out another plank, then I cast [Gate] on it. "Here, slam it against the ship, then I'll use [Bind] to summon you back," I say and hand the plank to Hana.

    "Understood," she replies and takes it, then flies off the ship. "I'm ready," she says in my soul space.

    "Alissa, stop the ship," I order. She powers down the ship, folds the wings, and furls the sails. "Do it."

    Hana touches the black circle against the bottom of the hull, and we're all teleported to the double meteor island, then I summon Hana.

    We all wobble, the sudden change from being in motion to (relatively) not being in motion is rather difficult for our brains to deal with. I also groan from a headache, feeling the effects of mana overuse as a huge chunk of my mana is used to transport the ship.

    Ciel holds me as I stumble, and Jarn holds Alissa on the bridge. She softly thanks the stick figure golem as she smiles.

    I sigh and relax a little, then I make my way back to the bridge as the girls admire the environment. With all of its glowing crystals and strange dark rock pillars protruding out of the ground, the landscape looks rather alien, as if we'd landed on a child's imagination of another planet.

    We power up the ship again and fly towards where the sky road should be. We fly past wind-blasted mountains and valleys shrouded in shadow. Alissa detects a few things living down there, so we fly high to avoid them; now isn't the time to get caught up in fighting random things. We can't fly too high, though, since the torrent of turbulence around the meteor is still going strong.



    It takes us nearly half an hour, but we finally get past this ridiculous obstacle. We lower the ship to follow under the path that the center of the island took to avoid the trail of turbulence it left in its wake.

    After a minute of flying, we see the sky road appear in the distance and sigh in relief. At least we didn't get lost. Then some strong turbulence hits us, forcing us to fold the wings and furl the sails until it passes.

    Just as we finally clear it and approach the sky road again, the volcano's lava spray reaches us.

    "Lovely weather," Alissa says, flatly, and I chuckle.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tiler Mills.
    Noble CHoobler.
     
  11. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    And fire and brimstone fell upon their heads.

    The girls not only have to deal with dust and boulders, but now molten lumps of rock are coming towards us, too.

    "I don't think that they can divert that one," Alissa says as she looks up at the sky.

    We pull the ship out of the smoke river for a minute, and a thick, long stream of cooling lava falls through it.

    We return to the sky road, but don't stay on it for long as more and more hot and cooled rocks, far larger than what we can deal with, cross with our path.

    Ciel casts [Beam] at one small lump of lava, but it suddenly flies off-course, avoiding her spell.

    "I CAN'T STOP THAT ONE!" She yells and activates [Wind Shield].

    The lump continues changing its course, only stopping when it's shooting towards the middle of the ship's deck.

    "ELEMENTAL!" Alissa warns us as it enters the range of her [Sense Presence].

    The girls clutch their weapons and get ready for combat.

    The lava elemental crashes into the planks, making Yunia grit her teeth in anger. Then the lava takes the shape of a bald, muscular man.

    It's raining men! Hallelujah!

    Roxanne opens up with a [Torrent] and hits the elemental directly in the chest. His (?) arm suddenly takes the shape of a shield and blocks Roxanne's continuous spell.

    The glowing rock that is his shield arm quickly cools off, creating a cloud of steam which blocks our view.

    Roxanne stops her spell and manipulates the steam to clear it away. The elemental's other arm is now a spear, and it stands in a combat stance, motionless like a statue. His feet are causing the planks to light up into a small fire.

    Hana grabs her steel war hammer, and Lina [Switch]es her axe to a hammer.

    Hana is the first to move, attacking it from the front; Lina moves a second later, aiming for its back; Roxanne, Aoi, and Yunia charge spells; the golems keep their boulders at the ready, holding themselves back in fear of hurting Hana or Lina; and Ciel remains watching the skies, playing a fantasy version of Asteroids.

    With just a nudge, I direct the girls to attack in sync. Hana aims high while Lina aims low.

    The elemental's head doesn't even look at them, he just uses his sword to deflect Lina and his shield to block Hana.

    A loud thud resounds through the air as Hana's hammer strikes the cooled lava shield dead on, pulverizing a small amount of rock. Lina's hammer slides along the elemental's sword, then hits his folded arm, spilling a few drops of lava onto the deck.

    The elemental goes for a counter, trying to pivot his red hot sword around Lina's shield, but then his arm suddenly stops in an awkward position, and Yunia smiles triumphantly.

    Lina deflects his Life-chained arm upwards and strikes at his knee, her favorite spot. It bends awkwardly and the elemental is forced to kneel, though I don't think that his knee has bones or cartilage that can be damaged.

    Hana bashes her shield against the elemental's, throwing it off balance and making it fall, then Lina squashes its head, splattering lava everywhere, but it's not dead yet.

    "Ready!" Roxanne yells in my soul space.

    Hana and Lina heed her warning and jump away, then a meter-wide [Torrent] slams against elemental. Its shield isn't wide enough to protect it, so its entire body gets cooled off by the spell, creating a small localized steam explosion.

    "Kweh!" Aoi yells in my soul space.

    Roxanne clears the steam away, and Aoi releases an enlarged fireball, which then hits the elemental's shield, completely obliterating his arm.

    His movements dull considerably, leaving him wide open. His chest starts to glow, which I believe means that he's heating himself up again, but the golems don't let it rest and release their boulders, which then start smashing the elemental to dust.

    "It's dead," Alissa says, and they stop.

    The girls sigh and return to playing asteroid defense, but a few minutes later, three more lava elementals land on the deck. My mana is dangerously low, so I won't be participate in this battle.

    "I hate this part of the dungeon!" Yunia complains, seeing the damage that the elementals are doing to the ship.

    Roxanne immediately fires off another thick [Torrent] and solidifies the first elemental. Ciel turns around for a short moment, casts [Beam], and pulverizes its arms, then Roxanne explodes its knees, and the golems finish it off.

    The second one lands in front of Aoi, who immediately fires a crude mix of [Conjure Water], which she can cast perfectly, and [Torrent], which she hasn't fully learned yet. She wildly spews water at it like a certain turtle, then Hana wacks its shoulder, cracking it.

    Aoi jumps at it, then grabs its weakened arm and breaks it off.

    "WEEAK!" She roars, then starts to cast her crude [Conjure/Torrent] again to cool off the rest of its body while grappling the other arm. Hana wacks whatever spot is cooled enough, and they slowly break it into pieces.

    Yunia holds off the last elemental while Lina casts small [Torrent]s repeatedly. She manages to solidify an arm that instantly gets chopped off with [Searing Blade].

    Hah, now that's funny, using heat against a damn lava elemental.

    Roxanne and the golems turn to Yunia's elemental. Roxanne casts [Drown] on him, which allows her to prevent the steam from escaping, and they bash it into dust.

    Another elemental lands on the deck, and Lina and Yunia engage it.

    I unsummon the wind elementals, switching them out for water elementals, who can solidify the lava elementals before they land on the ship. Then I bite the bullet and use [Redirect Mana] to refill my MP.

    I think that after today, I'll need to rest for a while.

    Dodge islands and huge lumps of molten rock; clear the path of dust and toxic smoke; destroy the incoming boulders and lava elementals; admire the environment as a Godsdamned apocalypse continues all around us. The girls are working non-stop, but I prefer this over the rapids. At least we aren't at risk of crashing the ship against a hidden islet.



    As the clouds turn red, then yellow, the volcanic eruption reduces in intensity until it stops, then we fly past the island. The elementals stop coming at us, allowing Yunia to make quick repairs to the deck.

    The toxic smoke coming off the volcano is left behind, and the islands stop crashing against one another.

    We squeeze past one last island collison, then we suddenly enter a sphere of calmness, the eye of the storm. In the center, there's a literal eye staring at us.

    "Oh, fuck!" I exclaim, stunned at the sight. The more I stare, the more I "itch" to go into the eye.

    Yellow clouds; dark, toxic smoke; lighting arcs; flames; lava; rocks, and dust. All these things are chaotically mixed together, yet they are shaped into a huge eye the size of a castle.

    "FLY US CLOSER!" Ciel yells.

    Roxanne wants the same, but is too creeped out to say anything. Yunia swallows an Eia pill, then slowly walks forward towards the bow, a completely serious expression stamped on her face. Aoi is conflicted, she feels the same as I do, but the Eye is too threatening to her. The rest of the girls don't feel anything and look oddly at Ciel.

    "Why?" Lina asks her.

    She grips her glaive harder and grits her teeth. "I know that this sounds crazy, but I really feel like we should go into the Eye," she responds.

    We slow down the ship, and I yell, "Meeting time!"

    The Eye is just creepily staring at us, but nothing else is happening, so it seems like we're safe, for now.

    We group into a small circle in the middle of the deck while Jarn stays at the controls.

    "Okay, starting up, if you feel like entering the Eye, raise your hand, I'm not talking about if we should, only if you feel," I say.

    Ciel, Roxanne, Aoi, Yunia, and I raise our hands.

    "By the way, the golems count, too," I add.

    "We feel nothing," Ted says.

    "So, the mages of our group feel like entering?" Roxanne questions.

    "Aren't the golems more magical? They move by using [Telekinesis], after all," Lina says.

    "They also lack a lot in the perception department. I don't think they can even resist any sort of [Illusion Magic]," Alissa says.

    "If the golems aren't affected, and we are, then it isn't a spell giving us this odd feeling, right?" I question.

    "Possibly, unless the spell was targeted specifically at you five," Alissa says.

    "I've been feeling like going to the Eye ever since we entered this maelstrom," Ciel says.

    "And why only you?" Yunia asks Ciel.

    "She was also acting slightly odd during the fight with the baby," Lina adds.

    "Her 'Perception' isn't particularly high," Alissa says.

    "Her compassion is, so I think it makes sense that she would feel like that near the baby, but not here," I say.

    "The only things that changed since that fight were a few levels and the glaive," Roxanne says.

    We all turn to Ciel, then we scan over her and her golden glaive. She stiffens and blushes from the attention.

    "Could the Eye have something to do with [Light Magic]?" She suddenly asks.

    "Hm… I can't feel any mana coming from it to confirm that," I say.

    "Send a summon over there, then we'll watch to see how it reacts," Lina says, and I nod in agreement.

    "I'm feeling an odd type of Life coming from the Eye," Yunia says.

    "Can you elaborate?" I ask.

    She shakes her head. "It's too far for me to see any details," she answers.

    "Alright, so let's stay on the Looping Winds and observe the Eye until we reach the closest point to it, then we'll send a summon inside to check things out," I say, and the girls nod.



    The wind slowly loses power as we approach the anchor, which is right beside the Eye. Curious how we only saw a few "obstacles" in the Remote Stability Scanner when we looked into the center of the maelstrom. I think we only saw the rocks of the Eye and nothing else.

    We stay quiet along the way and relax while we recover our MP. The Eye slowly follows us, subtly turning as we fly closer to it.

    Contrary to Sauron, his sibling is much more chill and less threatening. Creepy, yes, but it's more as if he's obsessively curious instead of trying to rape your mind. After The Lady, none of us is in the mood for more mind or soul fuckery.

    Its sclera is composed of clouds, volcanic smoke, and dust, all swirling around in an oddly calming storm. Its iris is made up of a wild mix of lighting arcs, flames, lava, and rocks. Its pupil is a dark and empty hole, and seemingly the source of my "itch."

    We finally reach the center of the anchor, which is the closest spot to the Eye, and leave the Looping Winds. We park the ship in the sky, and I summon a Sky Stalker to scout the pupil alongside a Holly.

    "I'm starting to feel it, too," Alissa says.

    Yunia chuckles and says, "Nothing about this dungeon is simple."

    "Considering who made this, I must say that this is as expected," Lina says.

    "It's very fun," Aoi comments, and Hana nods.

    The summons slowly make their way in, and I share their sight with the bound girls. The pupil isn't actually dark, it's just lined with dark smoke, giving it the impression that it's dark.

    They enter the eye and continue deeper into the tunnel of smoke. It feels like they're gradually being enveloped by it, and even I get chills at the eeriness of this.

    The Holly notices how the tunnel ends in smoke, then a hole suddenly opens for them, and a faint blue light escapes from it.

    Within that hole, they see a spherical chamber lined by the dark smoke, and many long, dark stone platforms slowly floating around a glowing orb, the source of the blue light.

    We spend long tense minutes simply watching the summons as they explore all of the sphere. Nothing interesting happens, so we start another discussion on what to do.

    "That orb, that's what's calling us," Ciel says.

    "Is that a gem?" Lina questions.

    "I have to get close to it to use an Appraisal skill," I say.

    "What if it's a living being? There's a source of Life in there, after all," Yunia questions.

    "We'll hope that it isn't hostile?" Hana says with a wry smile.

    "I can [Fly] to the platforms, then I'll teleport you girls to it if we think that it's safe," I say.

    "I'll go with you. So, who else wants to fly with us?" Ciel asks.

    "I can't fly that far," Hana says.

    "I might, but it's going to use up a lot of my mana," Roxanne says.

    "I can! I think that I can even carry someone," Aoi says with excitement.

    "So, who wants to ride Aoi?" I ask.

    "I can fire arrows while flying if you give me some points in [Mounted Archery]," Alissa says.

    I nod towards Alissa and say, "I think you're the best choice."



    After some brief preparations, we're ready to depart. I take only Suzy with me because the other golems have to pilot the ship in case of trouble.

    Suzy grips my helmet, with [Telekinesis] countering her weight enough that she's so light that I don't even notice her; Ciel and I jump and cast [Fly]; Aoi takes a running start and jumps off of the ship, then spreads her wings wide and starts flapping.

    We slowly make our way into the Eye, and megalophobia gives us repeated chills during the trip.

    We enter the inner chamber of the Eye after a few minutes, then I unsummon the two scouts, and we land on the platform closest to the orb.

    I use [Jewel Appraisal] on the orb, and it tells me that this is simple silica glass.

    I feel my "itch" increasing in intensity the longer that I stare at it. It's like staring down a dark hole, and at the same time, it's like looking at a fragile soap bubble, just waiting to be popped.

    I feel like this orb…

    "… Is a spell…" We all say in unison.

    We look at each other with wry smiles, and I shake my head. "This is so odd," I say.

    "Is this whole maelstrom a single spell?" Ciel questions.

    "But why are we getting 'drawn' to it?" I question back.

    Ciel shrugs and sighs.

    "I'll open a [Gate] to the rest of the girls," I say, and they nod.

    They come through and admire the orb. Yunia frowns and tilts her head to one side in confusion, then to other, and then again, and again. She's completely flabbergasted.

    "This is a spell," she concludes, then looks around, and we agree. "But there's something living inside the orb."

    I use [Sense Soul] on it, and the first thing that I see is a huge mana organ. It's so large that it seems like it's endless.

    "I feel like this dungeon is playing with us…" I say, starting to feel a little anxious.

    "So, it's daring you to interrupt the maelstrom?" Roxanne asks with a raised eyebrow.

    "I'm uncomfortable with the way we've been lured here," Ciel says with a frown.

    We look at her, then we look around warily.

    "I'm uncomfortable with your choice of words," Roxanne says with a small smirk.

    "The dungeon likes to give us trials, and he hasn't shown us a single trap yet, so this is just another challenge, but it was made specifically for us," Lina calmly says.

    "So there is something or someone with intelligence controlling it?" I question.

    "You said you saw this dungeon in a vision? Maybe it was made for someone like us, but not us, specifically," Yunia says.

    "Hm… so many questions, so few answers," I hum in thought and ponder.

    Gify squeezes out of my helmet, then flies to the top of my head. "Gih!"

    I look at Alissa and smile. "If even Gify is telling me to do it…"

    She narrows her eyes at me.

    "This is exactly what we needed," Lina comes to my aid.

    "If the orb doesn't suddenly try to kill us when we attempt to interrupt the spell, then I think that this is doable," Yunia piles on.

    "I want to investigate why I reacted so strongly to the orb, too," Ciel says.

    Alissa sighs and shakes her head. "This time I understand why we have to do this," Alissa says, then she pokes me hard in the forehead. "But you have been acting too recklessly lately, so you still owe me some peace for my worries."

    I grab her hand and pull off her glove so that I can kiss her skin directly. "I understand. I'm trying to be better," I calmly respond.

    "I think that only Wolfy, Ciel, and I should stay here, just in case," Yunia says.

    "Alissa's blessing still helps me concentrate," I say.

    Alissa grunts in satisfaction and flashes a smug smile.

    Roxanne, Hana, Lina, and Aoi pout, though Aoi's pout barely counts since her lips are rather thin.

    "We'll leave if you start to do something dangerous," Roxanne says.

    Yunia shrugs and sighs.

    I take off my helmet, and Gify jumps on my head, then I pull out two sofas from my "Items" and sit down with a sigh. I open my arms, and Alissa sits down on one side, then Ciel sits on the other.

    I pull them both into a hug, then I look at Yunia with a smug smile.

    "My lap is still empty," I say and grin towards her.

    She rolls her eyes, then graciously sits on my lap and keeps her posture perfectly straight like a proper princess. The other girls sit down on the other sofa and relax.

    "You can lean on me," I say.

    Yunia leans back and the back of her chestplate squishes my face.

    She laughs and asks, "Is that comfortable for you? Or would you prefer this position?" She spreads my legs and sits on the floor, then rests her head against my knee.

    "Oh yeah, this is much better," I say with a grin.

    Suzy flies off my helmet and lands on my shoulder, then rests her body against my cheek. Her cuteness makes Ciel very happy.

    The girls release their tied-up hair, allowing me to play with them. Alissa's orange fox ears have to fold inside her helmet, so, when she frees them, it feels even better than taking off a bra after a long day.

    The fact that I know how that feels makes me a little uncomfortable. Gods… I hope that I don't become a girl after being bound to them for our entire lives.

    I massage a furry ear and play with Ciel's dark hair while I study the orb and ponder how to interrupt a spell that can fling islands at us.



    I try to interrupt it the usual way, by "grabbing" the spell, then trying to rip it apart, but I feel like I'm pounding my fists against a solid brick wall. This is clearly not the way, it's a test for [Redirect Mana].

    The conflict of wills over mana is what causes a bending of the laws of reality, so, can I use [Redirect Mana] without using my "Willpower"? The skill seemingly benefits from both "Willpower" and "Intelligence," but we know that only the will bends the laws of reality, so, how do I use "Intelligence" to fuel [Redirect Mana]…?

    "If the orb is a living being, does it have emotions?" Ciel asks.

    "What, do you think that you're an empath, now?" I question her with a smile.

    "What's that?" Alissa asks.

    "Someone that can read other people's emotions," I answer.

    "Well, she is a priestess of the Goddess of Love," Alissa says.

    "Aren't you the one with a God's Blessing?" Yunia asks her.

    "Yes, but it's because of my love for and dedication to Wolfy," Alissa proudly says.

    Yunia raises her eyebrows in surprise and stays silent.

    "The orb seems to be a life form with a rather simple soul, except for the almost endless mana organ," I say.

    "It could've targeted Ciel first because she's the most empathetic of us," Yunia says.

    "So, it really cast a spell on us?" I question.

    The spinning platforms suddenly slow down, and we freeze, wary of any movement.

    After a few seconds, the platforms regain their speed. Ciel frowns and stays silent, in deep thought.

    "Okay… what was that?" Roxanne asks, but no one knows how to answer her.

    I gently tug Ciel's ear and ask, "What's wrong?"

    She looks up at me and bites her lip. "I think that we made the orb 'sad,'" she answers.

    I raise an eyebrow questioningly.

    She turns to the orb and continues, "I don't understand how, but I felt like I was hit by a wave of something, then I felt guilty, as if I had offended the orb, but the feeling lasted only for a second, and it left me feeling like something… 'foreign' had touched me, like when you sit on a sofa that was warmed by someone else."

    "A small amount of Life burst out from the orb when the platforms slowed down, maybe you felt that?" Yunia questions.

    "I'm not sensitive to Life; when we drank that Eia extract, I couldn't even see the webs of Life," Ciel says.

    "So you felt something else?" I question, and the platforms bump once.

    "Holy shit, it can hear us," Hana says.

    Another bump.

    "Are you hostile?" I immediately ask.

    The platforms slow down again.

    "It's sad," Ciel says.

    Once they speed up, I ask again, "Do you want us to interrupt your spell?"

    It bumps our platform in response, then they all slow down.

    "It's… tired?" Ciel says and knits her eyebrows in confusion.

    I look into the orb's mana organ and notice that it's now almost entirely depleted when it was nearly full just a few seconds ago.

    "Holy shit," I mutter and relay that info to the girls.

    "Losing concentration while controlling a spell can make it waste a lot of your mana," Roxanne says.

    "And a spell so big that it flings islands around must consume an inconceivably large amount of mana," I say, and Roxanne nods.

    And so, the plot thickens.


    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Lord Empyrean.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tiler Mills.
    Noble CHoobler.
     
  12. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    Ciel gets up and paces around the platform. Yunia quickly takes her place at my side, so I play with one of her long, elastic ears. A fox ear in one hand and elven ear in the other, truly cleansing for the soul.

    The orb's mana organ has an impressive regeneration rate, but it has so much MP to recover that it'll take a few hours until it can talk to us again.

    "Maybe I should wait until the orb's mana is full before I try to interrupt it," I say.

    "You'll first need to learn about what kind of spell the orb is casting, anyway," Roxanne says.

    "Yep."

    I focus on my [Sense Mana], and the feeling of the "dark hole" that the spell causes inside of my mind.

    The orb's mana efficiency is very high. For the amount of mana that it uses and regenerates, only an infinitesimal fraction escapes and faintly triggers my [Sense Mana]. Very impressive. But something about the orb's mana feels familiar…

    "This is Light mana…" Ciel says and turns around.

    "Oh, so [Light Magic] really is the reason you were so strongly affected by the orb's will," Roxanne says.

    "That doesn't make sense… unless this is a light elemental," Ciel says and turns to Alissa.

    "Its presence is completely different from an elemental," Alissa affirms.

    I summon a "Ciel" elemental to compare.

    "Really, their signatures have nothing in common aside from the Light mana," Alissa affirms again.

    The basically naked glowing "Ciel" bends to me and kisses my forehead, then she skips happily towards her real-body twin and grabs her hand, then interlaces their fingers together.

    The real Ciel looks at me with eyebrows raised in surprise. I just shrug and smile.

    "You really should start having sex with your elementals," Alissa whispers.

    "Are you really going to hump anything that's remotely feminine?" Yunia asks in disbelief.

    "As long as it's not a male and doesn't have a penis…" I whisper with a wry smile, and she scoffs.

    "I think it's my 'Piety' that helps me to sense the orb's intentions," Ciel says, then crosses her arms in pondering. "'Piety' is not a measure of the strength of someone's belief, but rather one of their understanding and alignment to the Gods' wishes. For example, a heretic who has learned about the Gods could have a high 'Piety,' though whether he agrees or not with the Gods can increase that 'Piety' even further.

    "High 'Piety' allows you to understand the Gods' wishes, and a high [Light Magic] skill allows you to understand their power. You need both of them to cast spells and enact the Gods' will upon the realm. 'Piety' lets you channel their power from within you, and [Light Magic] lets you shape it. So, perhaps this orb has something similar to the Gods that allows me to understand its will."

    "Uh… Isn't it kind of a big deal that this orb is related to the Gods, somehow?" I question.

    "I think that this orb is probably part of the dungeon's core. It'd explain its relation to the Gods," Lina says.

    "Oo~h… That makes so much sense!" Yunia exclaims.

    "So, this is the Dungeon Master that's controlling the dungeon?" I question again.

    "A part of it. Since the core has to control the entirety of the dungeon at the same time, it should be able to divide its 'consciousness' into multiple parts to be able to multi-task effectively," Yunia answers.

    "I see… so, since this is part of the core, and we need to destroy it to conquer the dungeon, then maybe this isn't a challenge specifically for [Redirect Mana], but just our ability to destroy it," I say.

    "Not sure if saying that out loud is a good idea," Alissa says, a little anxious, and naked-Ciel giggles.

    "I won't destroy it; I'll ask what it wants of us once its MP recovers," I say, and Alissa calms down.

    "The orb already agreed with your suggestion to interrupt the spell," Ciel says, and her twin nods.

    I shrug and say, "We'll try to talk to it some more later."

    We go silent and return to studying the orb.



    Now with a new perspective, the orb's spell feels much more understandable. It's a constant cycle of destruction and creation swirling around the Eye. For as much as it looks chaotic, the feeling that I'm getting from it is paradoxically calming, as if there's a beauty and "order" within it that's just beyond my understanding.

    If anything, I think that this is what "divinity" should be like. Something that invokes the feelings of awe, beauty, chaos, and order, all at the same time. Something that you feel like you understand, but you'll never be able to fully grasp. A truly "higher" existence.

    Besides, what else would you call the Godsdamned apocalypse happening out there, if not the work of the divine?

    I unassign my unnecessary skill points and put them in [Light Magic] until it reaches level forty, assigning any more feels like it's straining my soul. I also put some points in [Sense Mana] and [Sense Presence] to aid me in studying the orb, but [Sense Presence] has a much lower "strain limit" than my magic skills, for some reason.

    The first step of any spell is generally to gather mana since it's the step that takes the longest, and it's more efficient to continue gathering mana while you build the rest of the spell.

    To interrupt a spell, you take control of the mana leaking from the casting mage's spell and use it to rip apart the spell's "constructs." The similarities between the leaked mana and the caster's mana is the greatest factor that contributes to the ease of interrupting the spell.

    If the spell is ranged, the mana is gathered outside the mage's body, making it trivial to interrupt it, unless the magical skill difference between the mages is too great. If the mana is gathered inside the mage's body, then it's extremely hard to interrupt it due to the interference from the casting mage's soul.

    If a mage has perfect [Mana Efficiency], then the spell doesn't leak any mana, greatly increasing the difficulty in interrupting it because it forces the interrupting mage to use their own mana for that, which wouldn't have the same signature as the casting mage's spell.

    [Redirect Mana] is so powerful in interrupting spells because of how it mimics the caster's soul, fooling the mana that the mage is currently using into gathering under the control of my soul as well. Since this causes the mana to be under the influence of two twin souls with conflicting wills, it breaks the laws of reality. This happens because, according to Roxanne, mana can be attracted to multiple sources, but it only "obeys" the will that it has the greatest affinity for. In the case of [Redirect Mana], both wills have a perfectly equal affinity, so the mana is ruled by two wills at the same time, something that should never be possible.

    What if I try to make an "imperfect" copy of the casting mage's soul? I could even flood the spell with this "imperfect" mana and try to interrupt it the usual way. This should increase my power to interrupt spells without the risk of bending the laws of reality. Well… with less risk of that, because if I fuck up my "imperfect" copy, I could still cause another incident, unless I create another skill for interrupting spells.

    [Redirect Mana] is simply a skill for moving mana around. Using it to replenish my MP is certainly not the standard application for it, and neither is using it to interrupt spells. I really need to create another skill if I want to interrupt a [Meteor].

    I wonder about potentially using [Godly Language] to interrupt spells, but the nature of the skill is that any change is temporary, so I'm not really confident that it can do anything besides stalling a spell. Remembering how bad the fallout was to just set a handkerchief on fire with it makes me think that it might be suicide to try to stop [Meteor] that way…

    I sigh and kiss the top of Lina's head, who decided that even while armored, my lap is still the best place to sit.



    We decide to leave the actual interruption test for tomorrow. We also bring the ship into the Eye and land it on one of the platforms so that it stops consuming mana. It can fly non-stop for a few days, but it's better to not waste fuel.

    The end of the day comes slowly, so I ask the orb if we can leave the ship on the platform while we go back home, and it responds with a "positive" bump of the platforms.

    I open a [Gate] to our house in Goloria, and we all cross through one by one.

    I take off my armor with a satisfied sigh, it certainly felt like taking a bra off after a long day. We make our way to the bath and take off our white elven clothes, then throw them in the basket for the servants to wash.

    Alissa passes by it, then suddenly goes back and picks up my shirt, then takes a deep sniff of it. I look at her oddly and raise an eyebrow.

    "What? I know that you smell our panties, too," she says in an accusing tone.

    My face stiffens in a guilty smile, and I blush.

    "Don't we all smell each others' underwear?" Hana asks.

    Roxanne and Ciel ignore Hana and walk to the bath with stiff postures.

    "I do," Aoi innocently says.

    "I… don't?" Yunia says and looks around in disbelief.

    Hana snorts and says, "One day, you will."

    Yunia goes silent and walks to the bath.

    Today, I focus on Alissa to make up for worrying her so much. After all, I'm the one who told her to never get into a situation where a heroic sacrifice is necessary.

    After she washes me, I put some points in [Washing] to return the favor.

    As always, I have my fill of her fluffy tail as I gently wash it. Next is her nearly orange hair and fox ears. I [Massage] her scalp while making a bubbly foam with the elven shampoo (?), I don't know what it's called. I continue until the foam builds up so much that her head looks like a cloud, then I wash her body with a sponge.

    Her supple, perfectly shaped breasts are my favorite part of her, then her abs, then her strong thighs, then her arms. Of course, her feet are delicious, but that's only after they've been washed and rinsed.

    I play with her pubes, applying a bit of the elven shampoo to them because they deserve some love, too. They are my gentleman's mustache, after all. Then I spread her pussy's lips and use the most delicate touch I can to wash them, sending a shudder through her entire spine. This spot is my cock-sleeve, so it's a special place that doesn't need to be ranked.

    After that, she goes down on all fours, exposing her second cock-sleeve to me. I first wash it with a sponge, then I slip in a finger and apply [Clean] to her insides because this one needs to always be ready to be stretched. Just to test its stretchiness, I push in two fingers and measure her pain through [Bind]. Since it seems that it's not tight enough, I apply a bit of [Regeneration] to restore it to the perfect level of tightness, and since I'm already resetting her body, I also regenerate her hymen, too.

    I rinse all the soap and not-shampoo off her body, leaving her pure and ready for defiling.

    She turns around and lays on the heated stone floor, then looks at me with kind, loving eyes. She grabs my face and pulls me closer, stealing a kiss.

    Our hot, wet bodies rub against each other as our tongues fight for dominance. The fight is short because Alissa could never win against me. As much as we might belong to each other, deep inside, I'm still her master.

    Our tired tongues withdraw, but her arms hugging my neck forbid me from pulling back too far. I grab her body and stand up, then I take us both over to the hot water and slowly enter it.

    Once I sit down, she straddles me, my throbbing cock pressing against her virgin entrance. Her submerged tail makes waves in the water, revealing her happiness and excitement.

    She grabs my love hammer and aims it, then gently lowers her hips. I spread her pussy lips and slowly penetrate her, but soon I'm blocked by her new hymen. Like it was for our first time, there's a brief resistance, then a pang of pain, and I fully penetrate her.

    She moans in satisfaction, and her body relaxes against mine. I grab her ass cheeks, and together, we calmly move her hips up and down, savoring the moment. I feel my head rubbing strongly against the walls of her tight vagina, slowly but steadily building up my pleasure.

    As she regains her strength, her nails quickly find their preferred spots on my back and dig into my skin. This small amount of pain is the most that I accept upon myself. I'm the master and the sadist, not the masochist and receiver.

    My cock-sleeve may have forgotten the shape of my dragonator, but it was only for a very short while, as we both make sure that its shape is imprinted upon her once again.

    I grow another weapon so that I can stretch her second entrance. I poke it, and she jumps in surprise, then immediately calms down and hugs me tight, anticipating the pain. This hole wasn't tightened until it was virgin-like, so all I need is a bit of non-water-soluble lube, and it's ready to fuck.

    I angle the second long implement with my mind, and when we lower her hips again, it slides in nicely with a moist noise. She bites her lip at the pain, but a long moan reopens her mouth soon after.

    Her pitch-perfect moans are music to my ears, and we make sure that they're perfectly timed to increase our satisfaction.

    Soon, I paint her insides my manly mark, then we switch holes, and I paint those too.

    Absolutely filled, I leave her over the edge of the bath for Hana to clean while I stride towards my narrowest cock-sleeve.

    Little Lina is having some fun with Ciel, but my insatiable lust and love take priority, so I interrupt them to claim what's mine: her pussy.

    Roxanne smoothly surfaces right beside Ciel and forcefully invades her mouth before the chocolate goddess knows what's happening. Ciel gets surprised by the sudden assault, but she recognizes whose tongue it is inside her mouth and responds just a second later.

    I cross my arms and lift Lina with [Telekinesis], then I grab her legs with a pair of tentacles and spread them apart, exposing her tight slit to me.

    I run a finger between her pussy lips and taste it. It's watery, but I can feel her lewdness in it; Ciel made her ready for me.

    I extend my spear until it touches her entrance, threatening to pierce her, then I look into her eyes with nothing but kind love and violent sadism.

    "It's time for you all to experience the 'longstroke,'" I say and share Lina's pleasure with everyone.

    I grab her slim hips, then I slam mine towards her while simultaneously reducing the length of my cock. She feels the half-meter long stroke, and her whole body convulses with one of the strongest and longest jolts of pleasure that she's ever felt.

    Alissa and Roxanne immediately collapse in the water, and Ciel has to hold up my succubus so that she doesn't drown.

    Yunia discreetly masturbates while staring at Lina, so I turn to my elven goddess and grin, then I slam into Lina again.

    The three golems all stare at us, and my back tingles, but I start to get used to it and even begin to enjoy it.

    Maybe I should study how to provide a flesh-like body for them so that I can give them what they want: a good dicking.



    With Lina passed out, I lay down in the bath to finally relax, then Roxanne casts [Water Breathing] on Aoi so that she can milk the rest of my MP from me.

    "Let's ask some more questions to the orb after dinner," Ciel suggests.

    "E~h…?" Roxanne moans in laziness.

    "Your demonic inheritance is lust and charm, not laziness," Yunia says in a slightly harsh tone, but her natural glare amplifies the intensity of her words.

    Roxanne takes it the unintended way and gets a little excited, but her pleasure nerves were recently abused by me, so it quickly fades. "Your racial inheritance is arrogance, not bitchiness," she responds in the same tone and smiles smugly.

    "I guess that it's nice that they found a companion in verbal abuse," Ciel softly says.

    "Only Ciel and I should g-… only Ciel, Alissa, and I should go," I say and quickly correct myself before the feral fox bites me.

    "We can only ask a few questions, anyway," Ciel adds with a shrug.



    Since we arrived a bit early today, we make dinner for ourselves. Yunia makes a not-eggplant and ham casserole by herself, and after we approve of its taste, she subtly gushes in happiness when we're not looking.

    We all eat a lot since today's been rather physically draining, then we break out some alcohol, and Yunia puts the Eia extract bottle on the table.

    I smile gently at her and pull out a set of not-scotch glasses, then she pours out a small amount for each of us, even Gify.

    I lift up my glass and say, "To another day full of victory."

    The other girls lift their glasses, with Alissa lifting Gify's and Yunia copying us with a confused look on her face, then we clink them together.

    "That's a toast. It's a ritual where we lift our glasses, hit them against one another to make some noise, then drink in the honor of something," I explain.

    "Bread?" Yunia asks and tilts her head.

    I chuckle once and say, "No, the name of the ritual is 'toast' in English, an Earth language, but for some reason, the system translates that to toast."

    Her sharp gaze softens quite a lot as she says, "Well, then… I agree. To another day full of victory."

    We down our glasses, and the constantly shifting flavors caress our tongues. This time, my "third eye" that can see Life doesn't open, but I still feel the weed-like effects of the Eia, and we spend many long minutes constantly giggling while talking about stupid shit.

    Osaria and Klein finally reach a small elven town, and while they're waiting for customs, they receive my message about what's happened to us and that Yunia is alive.

    Osaria runs to Klein with the letter, and the two hunch together to read it.



    Hello, Klein, Osaria, it's us, the Ryders.

    First of all, you must've heard about what happened to the Innocent Nymph. We're all fine and unharmed. Wolfy's summons gave us an early warning, and when things started happening, we ran as fast as we could from the inn. Those heretics weren't something that we could deal with by ourselves.



    They stop for a moment and smile at each other. They knew that I was still alive, but knowing that everyone else is also fine clears away a great worry from their minds.



    After that, we decided to search for Lord Confiel and ask for protection in case the heretics were after us. It was already part of the plan, but the attack prompted us to act. In exchange for protection, we participated in the attack on Escanso's castle and helped depose Lord Mavel.

    Lord Confiel had other plans for us, though. He proposed that we make a deal with Yulania Este, his daughter: …



    "Oh, Gods! Don't tell me she's alive!" Osaria exclaims.

    "Talk after we're done reading," Klein says, annoyed.



    she'd become Wolfy's Blood Slave, and we would search for a dungeon to conquer, then, after we've acquired the title of True Noble, we'd return as the new lords of Escanso and the Western High Forest.



    "Wow…" Klein mutters.

    "Your half-husband is going to be a Crown Lord, one day," Osaria says in a teasing tone, and Klein blushes.



    We've accepted, and now, Yunia is part of Helios and our family. She says that she misses you, Osaria, and would like to see you again very much.



    "Awn… my dear niece…" Osaria moans.



    We're currently living in a mansion within Goloria's castle's inner circle. We've decided to conquer the Legado dungeon, and we've made quite a lot of progress already; we're much further than anyone else currently exploring this dungeon, even Lord Confiel himself.

    We've been watching you through Wolfy's summons, and we must say that we're all very eager to meet up with both of you again. Osaria, you're the biggest tease that Wolfy has ever seen, and he'll for sure pound your delicious dark elven pussy with the dozens of new sexual skills he has acquired.

    Hana says that if things were amazing back then, she now guarantees that you'll wish to become his sex slave after just a taste.



    Osaria starts giggling uncontrollably, and Klein's expression stiffens while her legs rub against each other.



    We'd like to pour out our feelings of longing for both of you and the rest of Este company, but we can now use the imperial [Eternal Gate] network, so let's meet up at Campo Verdante when you get there.

    Tell Oura that Lina says "hi."

    Also, we should totally make Nito as pretty as possible, then lock him and Wolfy in a room together.

    Then a winking smiley face was drawn beside that phrase.



    "Wait! I don't remember that last part!" I exclaim.

    The girls giggle, but Roxanne giggles the most, so I turn my glare to her.

    "Y-you can't prove that it was me!" She exclaims, and if her skin wasn't pure white, she'd have certainly paled.

    I look around, and the girls all grin mischievously, except for Yunia, who's obviously innocent.

    I narrow my eyes and say, "You're right, you're all traitors."

    Alissa grabs my face and steals a kiss, then all the other girls copy her.

    "So, tomorrow night we might meet with them?" Klein asks, expectantly.

    "I'll make sure that the caravan leaves on time tomorrow," Osaria says and gushes, and Klein's long tail sways about with anxiety. "Patience, now that they're Lords, you'll live long enough to get as much cock as you want."

    "T-that's not why I'm excited!" Klein complains and pouts.

    Osaria grabs her hand, then interlaces their fingers and says, "Of course not. Now, come with me, you may not be excited…" -her voice turns into a sensual whisper- "but I am…"

    "Oh, Gods! I want to fuck them so badly!" I exclaim and fall back onto the bed.

    "We all do, we all do," Hana says and gently pats my head.

    "We also have to make sure that they want to associate with us. Since you've supposedly been targeted by the heretics, they might become afraid of being targeted, too," Yunia says.

    "We know that Klein won't back down since we already told her the entire truth about my Earth past, but maybe we should tell Osaria too if we want her to be my concubine," I say.

    "I'm not sure about telling her all of it, but maybe we should tell her about your destiny as a hero and that you have a Gift," Alissa says, and the others agree.

    Soon after that, Osaria and Klein begin a heated lovemaking session, so we stay in bed for a little longer while we watch the show.

    Osaria will definitely benefit greatly from receiving a strap-on as a gift. She's a full-blown predator in bed.



    I open a [Gate] to our ship inside the dungeon, and Alissa, Ciel, and I cross through it.

    We drop down onto the stone platform and get closer to the light blue floating orb. I check its mana and see that it's now full.

    "I think that we get three or four questions," I say.

    "Alright. First, are you part of the dungeon's core?" Ciel asks.

    A single bump, that's a "yes."

    "Would you accept being destroyed?"

    A single bump.

    "Would you prefer being destroyed or interrupted?" Ciel continues.

    Two bumps, that's "interrupted."

    I see, it really is a test about destroying it, but maybe only interrupting the spell is like a hidden objective that gives bonus rewards, like how saving the baby from The Lady likely rewarded us with Ciel's golden glaive.

    "Will something bad happen to us or this place if we interrupt the spell?"

    Two bumps, that's a "no." Then the platforms slow down for a moment, and Ciel receives the feeling that it's tired.

    "If you want to help us interrupt your spell, fill this room with your mana, and tomorrow, I'll try an experiment with it. Just don't make a mana storm," I say confidently.

    I immediately sense a faint amount of mana leaking from the orb. Once it has recovered it's MP, it should be able to release a lot more.

    Then we return home and gather on the bed as usual. We play some card games and drink some alcohol to de-stress. By 10 PM, we're all tired, so we go to sleep.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Lord Empyrean.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tiler Mills.
    Noble CHoobler.
     
  13. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    Today is the 12th.

    Yunia wakes me up, making me all giddy when the first things that I see are her deep blue eyes arrogantly looking at me. With her hair straight, she looks even more stern than usual.

    Hmm…! Please step on me, onee-san!

    She lets my virgin-killer flop back on the bed and swallows with a smug smile, then Alissa immediately dries her lips with a handkerchief.

    She then cleans her own mouth and is the first to give me her good morning kiss, like the loyal elven slave whore that she is.

    The girls share their own morning kisses, too, and I take pleasure in using [Bind] to make sure that everyone has a good taste of Alissa's tongue.



    My [Wind Magic] increased by 2 (now 3+4), my [Redirect Mana] increased by 1 (now 5), and I learned [Piloting] with 1 point.

    Roxanne increased her [Water Magic] by 1 (now 4+26). Ciel increased her [Wind Magic] by 1 (now 12+18). Lina learned [Water Magic] with 1 point.



    Breakfast is the usual charcuterie board, but since the weather is quite warm, we mostly eat fruits and have something similar to Yunia's muesli.

    After that, we spend some time maintaining our equipment. I have to "heal" the cracks in my wooden chestplate while the other girls resharpen and oil their weapons. Aoi has learned how to sharpen her claws, so they might as well be considered daggers now.

    The golems have quietly been practicing magic while we sleep, so they've improved their [Earth Bullet] quite a lot. It's now at a level where they don't need to use the boulders anymore; they can just cast it and reshape the bullet whenever they need a blunt weapon.

    We observe Hana test Jarn's melee skills while Roxanne measures the power of their [Earth Bullet]s. I wish that I could spend more time developing their bodies, but currently, my priority is increasing my and the girls' personal power.

    "Why don't you make a golem army?" Yunia asks.

    "Because of my memories. These three golems have all of my memories; it's why they're so smart," I answer.

    Yunia frowns. "I see… but can't you remove those memories from them?"

    "Maybe. I haven't had enough time to research that because I've been focused on other things."

    "If we remove their memories, won't we need to teach them everything, then?" Alissa asks.

    "Yup, there's that, too. They aren't summons, so, if I create a golem army, I'll need facilities to train them," I respond.

    "Then you likely won't create any more like them?" Yunia asks and nods towards the golems.

    "Yeah. It's too dangerous to risk my memories being taken, especially now that I know so much more, and in the future, it'll only be worse. Imagine if you had access to all of the memories of a Lord. How much harm could you bring to them because of that?"

    "You'd have a limited time to act, but it could be fatal," she answers.

    I nod. "And we know that there's a hidden enemy targeting us. The last thing we need is having a golem stolen while we have our backs turned."



    We warm-up, then we get ready to return to the dungeon, but we just have a small problem that we didn't foresee: the Hollys I left there are reporting a heavy sense of distress due to the ridiculous amount of mana that the orb has leaked. It managed to avoid creating a storm, but it absolutely filled the room with mana. It even stopped leaking any more because if it did, it would then go past the saturation point and collapse like a black hole, creating a mana storm.

    I guess I was too vague. Either it has no frame of reference for how much mana a humanoid can handle, or it's just way too simple-minded for original thought.

    First, we teleport to our secret base outside of the dungeon. It's atop an egg-shaped ginormous tree, among the leaves. Quite a comfy place to camp. I half expected that the limbs of the Brutes I teleported would still be here, but since everything disappeared after we cleared the Looping Winds Station, I'm not surprised that there's no sign of them.

    Now that we're close to the dungeon, the mana cost of [Gate] going in or out is minimal, allowing us to all cross through at the same time if needed.

    I cross the [Gate] first and try to pull in a breath. I feel like I'm going to suffocate, crushed by some sort of pressure and the overwhelming feeling of fear and danger. It's like I'm surrounded by a sea of acid while standing still on an island only as wide as my body. The sea may look innocent, but if I make one wrong move, I'll fall to my death.

    I think about bringing the girls and taking the ship outside the Eye, but I'm not sure if turning on the large [Fly] gem is a good idea right now.

    "Only Alissa should cross through, the other should stay put until I finish this," I say through [Bind].

    The girls grumble a bit, but I apologize and calm them down.

    Alissa crosses the [Gate], then gasps and immediately hugs my arm, shaking in fear. I give her the stiffest smile that I've ever smiled and groan, which was supposed to be a forced chuckle that failed to come out.

    Her Blessing helps with my concentration, allowing me to increase my focus and better resist the effects of this suffocating amount of mana that's currently overwhelming my senses.

    "Calm down," I say with [Godly Language]. The sense of pressure still remains, but my heart rate slows down, and my mind clears, allowing me to focus on something else besides my fear. I could use [Godly Language] to stop feeling fear, but I think that might mess with my decision-making a bit too much.

    Alissa is affected by my voice, too, so she calms down and stops shivering.

    "I'll start now," I whisper, and she nods.

    I spread out my soul all over the room and hesitate for a moment.

    This is actually "a little" dangerous. There's going to be a lot of mana radiation once we begin.

    I slowly start to morph my soul, making it as similar as I can to the orb's mana, but not exactly the same.

    Gify pops onto my shoulder. "Gih."

    "Alright."

    "Gih."

    "Giih…"

    "Gih gih."

    She guides my attention towards the unstable points, where my soul is too similar to the orb's or where it's too different. Making a homogeneous soul is necessary to prevent the mana from spiraling out of control and forming into a storm.

    I start sweating from the tension and effort. I haven't even started the disruption, and I'm already struggling.

    "Hngh…" I moan as Gify suddenly starts her massage. My control over my soul almost slips, but then the massage pulls me the other way, helping me focus, instead.

    "Gih."

    "Alright."

    I close my eyes and start meditating, slowly drowning out my unnecessary senses at the same time that Gify reduces the intensity of her massage. I feel like I'm starting to dissociate from my body, as if I'm watching it through a screen and controlling it remotely with a joystick.

    My senses fade away until the only one that remains is my "vision" of my soul. Now with enough free mental capacity, I start to become able to differentiate between each of the hundreds of thousands of mana particles inside of my stretched soul.

    Little by little, I patch my soul, morphing it closer and closer to the "imperfect" copy that I need.

    Suddenly, a part of my soul changes without my command, becoming more similar to what I'm trying to do, then I feel another "presence" near the "me" that's controlling the real "me." I sense a faint image of pointy ears twitching as another part of my soul changes.

    Alissa…

    Then another presence helps me, and I sense a fearsome smile.

    Hana…

    A part of my soul is poked, and it's also changed, becoming closer to my goal. I sense a pointy tail doing the poking.

    Roxanne…

    My soul is shyly touched, as if the person touching it is afraid of breaking it. I sense gloomy, droopy eyes staring intently at me.

    Lina…

    Then a part of my soul is roughly twisted, becoming less similar to what I want, but it's immediately released. Then, another, much gentler twist comes, and this time it helps me. I sense a toothy grin being sent to me in apology.

    And Aoi…

    We all work together, meticulously changing my soul with the utmost care, except for Aoi, but she eventually improves her rough handling of my soul.

    I lose my sense of time, so I don't know how long it takes. I only know that my mind is getting way too tired.

    "That's enough; we don't have much time left," I say through [Bind], and their presences become stronger in my mind as they all pay attention to me. "Now, since you're all here, help me with this. Spread out and follow my lead."

    I focus on a chunk of the mana covered by my soul and start exerting my will over it. I "wish" for it to move closer to the orb while carefully reducing its size. The other girls do the same, causing some minor mana leaks, though not enough to cause a chain reaction yet.

    Thankfully, the source of the spell is right above the orb, so its soul won't interfere with our attempt, making our job much easier.

    Exerting all of my remaining mental capacity, I hold the mana in a small spot, about the size of our "harem-sized" bed. The density is high enough that someone casting a single spell nearby would be enough to make me lose control. The amount of mana is absolutely astounding.

    While I wait for everyone, I manage to observe the mana changing. It slowly becomes more similar to my mana signature the longer it remains in contact with my soul. Quite curious.

    Our focus starts to slip, and as a consequence, the leaks increase. My feeling of danger intensifies as the velocity of the leaking mana particles increases. If things keep this way, we'll soon have a repeat of the situation with the Light crystals in the Looping Winds Station.

    Fortunately, it doesn't take much longer for the girls to be ready. It's time to start the "dance."

    I squeeze and expand the mana that I'm holding, creating a "turbulence" all throughout the area that I control.

    The orb's spell trembles, immediately feeling the pain of the interference, then the girls follow my lead, increasing the trembling.

    The amount of mana leakage skyrockets, but that's slightly beneficial to us, as that mana will bounce back and add to the chaos.

    "It's time to cook up a bomb!" I exclaim through [Bind].

    I decide to use brute force to "crush" the mana, increasing its density even more.

    My will starts to transfer to the mana, giving it a chaotic and explosive aspect. The girls feel my emotions, and their mana starts to gain the same aspects, too. The spell may be divine chaos, but it's certainly not the same as some good old explosions!

    The spell's integrity starts to take a hit, and its "black hole" presence in our minds starts to deform. Its control over the islands declines, and the cycle of creation and destruction is broken.

    I start to receive some worried feelings from the girls as they lose control over the mana.

    "On my mark, we crush it once and release!" I order.

    Disrupt, annihilate, defile, desecrate, sacrilege. I fuel these feelings into the mana to act as the complete opposite of the spell. Of these, I'm very familiar with at least one of them.

    I watch the mana closely, then I finally sense it: the vertex, the knee in the curve. The mana has a perfect balance between my signature, the orb's, the explosion aspect, and the divine spell's aspect. Interruption efficiency: maximum.

    "NOW!"

    We crush the mana, then release it. I hug Alissa and open a [Gate] back to the other girls. The mana explodes with pure chaos, the particles attract one another and whirl into orbits around the spell. The aspects given to the mana prevents the particles from quickly calming down, and their density causes the shock waves to echo repeatedly through the center as they collide, continuously bleeding off any speed that the particles may have gained.

    Like throwing a wrench into a machine, the spell suddenly cracks, then violently breaks apart into huge chunks. The spell spins out of control for a moment, but then its "constructs" fade into nothing since the orb can no longer manipulate them.

    The volcano islands become mere husks, completely exhausted of their violent eruptions; the crashing islands break into multiple, uneven parts, which causes them to lose stability or fall out of the sky because the remaining crystals aren't enough to hold them aloft anymore; the drifting islands lose their speed and stop, becoming inert and harmless; the elementals are no longer fueled by the divine spell, weakening them until they die and return to being just another part of the elements; last of all, the fury of the wind is snuffed out, and it stops blowing, leaving the surviving islands in peace.

    The shock waves end, but now there's a mana storm all throughout the Eye, and it's so powerful that it might even be lethal for us if we stay there for too long.

    But the ship…

    My body is fine, but my mind is exhausted. I've spent so much time concentrating and using my will to control my spirit that I feel like I've pulled a muscle inside my brain or soul. But it's not over… almost, but not yet. There's still one last thing that we must do.

    "HELP ME CONTROL THE STORM!" I yell, worried about our ship.

    I open a [Gate], and we all cross through, then we immediately use [Redirect Mana]. We struggle to hold the mana back, feeling like powerful waves are repeatedly hitting us from all directions. We first take hold of the mana nearest to us, making it stop, then use it as a shield against further waves.

    Once things calm down a little, I notice that a tornado is forming above the orb, where the divine spell was before. It starts sucking in the air, which also brings the dense mana with it, then the tornado bends forward and sends all that mana-rich air outside of the Eye.

    With the orb's help, it only takes us two minutes to send the mana storm out of the room. The storm will continue for a short while, but now that it's in the open, its lifespan has been shortened by a lot.

    I check our "Status," and see that we each lost a few health points. We also have "Mana Radiation Sickness" in our "Status Effects," so Ciel and I spend a short while casting [Heal]s on everyone until that goes away.

    Lina looks at the ship and says, "I'll inspect the gem."

    "Alright," I respond, and she scurries away.

    Enchantments can be weakened or even fully destroyed if left for too long inside a mana storm, so we have to check the ship for any damage.

    Now that things are calm again, we turn to the orb.

    "So… now that the spell's gone, is there a better way for us to communicate besides using the platforms?" I ask.

    We spend a few moments in silence, waiting for an answer, then the platforms around us start to move.

    They all suddenly float up, then aggregate above the orb. They break and grind against one another, being forcefully shaped by an impressive amount of force coming from the orb. Over just a few seconds, the mass of broken rocks takes the shape of an androgynous face. Its expression is neutral and a bit gentle, but it's also as stiff as a statue.

    "Hello…?" Ciel greets it tentatively.

    The bald rock-face tilts gently in acknowledgment but doesn't say anything.

    "I assume that you can't speak?" Yunia asks, and the… Core nods.

    "Were you forced to keep that maelstrom spell going?" I ask, and it nods. "Do you know why?" It shakes its head.

    "Are you a person?" Ciel asks, and it shakes its head.

    "Wow… are you like a golem, then?" Roxanne asks.

    The head tilts to the side, probably to indicate confusion.

    "Is there a reason that you wanted to have the spell interrupted instead of us just destroying you?" I ask, and it nods.

    A small amount of mana starts to gather in front of us. We get a little tense, trying to understand what is going on, then I sense that it's related to [Space Magic].

    A small dot appears, then it grows into a vertical black disk, similar to a [Gate].

    Wait…

    It keeps growing until it's twice as wide as our ship, then it suddenly becomes white and blotches of color start to appear, as if it was a canvas being painted with watercolor. After a few seconds, it finally becomes recognizable: we see the Looping Winds and an unfamiliar sky behind it. The Core just created an [Eternal Gate].

    We see some huge islands in the background, and we notice that a few of them seem to have towns on them.

    "That's… the urban islands," Lina says.

    "It's a huge shortcut," I say, and she nods.

    Not destroying it now will have us pass up on possible Experience, but we'll still receive it one day when we destroy the dungeon's core. This [Eternal Gate] is also likely to save us a few days, but we'll lose out on any loot that would've been on our way.

    "Is there anything valuable to us that we might miss if we take this shortcut?" I ask, and it shakes its head. "Wait… do you actually know what's out there between us and the exit of this [Eternal Gate]?" It nods.

    "Will this [Eternal Gate] help us skip something dangerous?" Alissa asks, and it nods.

    "What did the Scanner detect between the maelstrom and the urban islands?" I ask Lina.

    She pulls out the maps that we made and starts inspecting them.

    "The long calm, the huge asteroid, the spikes, the colossi, the spiral, and the valley," she answers, listing off the names we gave to those areas.

    So, those were probably environmental challenges instead of combat ones… except for the colossi?

    "I wanted to see the colossi," Hana says tentatively and grins without shame.

    The colossi are six island-sized winged beings fighting an eternal battle around the Looping Winds.

    "Well, seeing them and flying in between them are two completely different things," Yunia says with a wry smile.

    "To be honest, they looked really impressive in the Scanner," Lina shyly says.

    "See?!" Hana exclaims and points at Lina.

    "Don't encourage her," Ciel says in a low tone, and Lina pouts.

    I massage my temple with my palms. I'm so tired that I can't properly make a decision right now.

    "I think that we should just cross the [Eternal Gate], but I'm way too tired to think straight, so let's rest for a bit first," I say.



    While I lay down on the sofa and Hana gives me a brain massage, Ciel and Yunia try to understand the Core a bit better.

    It's a rather single-minded being whose only wish is to keep its islands safe and sound. Before we interrupted the spell, it also wished to stop it since it kept destroying their islands. Even though the spell also made sure that new islands were birthed, the Core wanted to prevent them from being destroyed in the first place.

    It really does remind me of the golems, but it's far "stupider," and it also doesn't have any of the memories of its creator. It's like someone managed to isolate a sub-process and then inserted that into the core.

    "It's kinda cute," Roxanne says.

    "Almost like a pet," Hana says with a gentle smile.

    "A pet has a far greater capability to learn," Ted says.

    "But it doesn't have such a developed understanding of speech," I say.

    "It's understanding of speech is unnecessary since the Core has too few functions," Suzy says.

    I smile and turn to face the golems. "Jealous?" I ask.

    "We do not feel jealousy," Ted says.

    "But we do understand the Core's limited usefulness," Suzy says.

    "The Core does not have the aesthetic value required for a pet, and neither does it have the intellect required for a servant," Jarn says in her echoing voice. Her metallic body distorts her voice a little.

    I give them a shit-eating grin as I say, "We could use it for an interesting experiment. It would certainly entertain my scholarly curiosity about artificial intelligence for a while… like a pet project."

    "A pet is not the same as a pet project," Ted says.

    "But you understand that the Core can entertain us?" I ask.

    "Yes, but the Core does not meet the requirements to be a pet or a servant," Suzy says.

    I tug my chin and ask, "What about you three?"

    "We are both," Ted and Suzy say in unison.

    "I am only a servant," Jarn says.

    "Please give each of us an attractive body so that we can fulfill more of your needs," Ted asks.

    "I will," I respond and chuckle.

    Lina pats Ted's head. "You'll be beautiful, one day," she says.

    "I think that going for cute fits the two small ones better, but Jarn definitely needs a killer body," Hana says and smiles as she imagines how hot we could make Jarn.

    "I'll keep that in mind," I say with a wry smile.



    My headache eventually fades, and we decide to move on.

    "The shortcut is just the best bet overall," Yunia says.

    "But the colossi…" Hana moans.

    Ciel smiles wryly and says, "I'd like to see them, too, but the Core says that there's little to gain by going the long way. Well, besides learning how to pilot the ship better."

    Hana pouts and nods in defeat.

    We activate the ship and start to fly towards the [Eternal Gate]. Lina says that the gem lost some efficiency because of the mana storm, but it'll be fine.

    We wave to the Core, and it creates a small rock-hand and waves back at us.

    We cross through the [Eternal Gate] and get back into the Looping Winds. The gate stays open, but we're moving pretty fast, so it quickly gets left behind and shrinks into the distance until it disappears from our sight.

    Onwards to victory!



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Andrew Heffelbower.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Thiago Ferreira.
    Lord Empyrean.
    Lord Asakurà.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tiler Mills.
    Noble CHoobler.
     
  14. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    The trip through the urban islands is fairly calm as we spend our time observing them. The higher class buildings are made out of marble, while the lower class ones are made of concrete. The Chimeric architecture style follows minimalism; they prefer to use paint instead of carving details, so most of the houses are either straight-up stone boxes or, at the most, have a slanted roof and a veranda.

    Although their shapes are simple, the entire town is a rainbow of color, with each building choosing a different, vibrant color to differentiate themselves from their neighbors. Walls are considered a public canvas, too, so you can see all kinds of art, from abstract, to geometric, to realism, to impressionism, to surrealism, to erotic, to historical, to landscapes, to far-eastern, to portraits, to even what I think are proto-billboards.

    "A bit tiring for the eyes," Alissa comments.

    "On Earth, we call that visual pollution," I say.

    "Pollution…?" She repeats the word in English and cutely tilts her head.

    I guess that's a rather modern use for the word.

    "Is there a word for 'contaminating the environment with something bad for living beings'?"

    "There's the 'corruption' that the undead cause."

    "That sounds too extreme. What about the slums? They're dirty, and there's always a bad smell there from feces or trash. They can be 'cleaned' of their dirt, which could be said to be 'pollution.'"

    She frowns. "Hm… can't you just use 'filth' or 'trash'?"

    "Well, those words have specific connotations. 'Pollution' specifically means something that's dirtying the environment, but in a more abstract sense so that it includes something like this visual pollution or excessive, continuous noise that would disrupt daily life."

    "What about 'contamination'?"

    "Too much like a disease. You won't get sick from visual pollution, just a little annoyed."

    "'Defiling'?"

    "Too sexual."

    She smiles wryly. "'Soiling'?"

    "I guess it could fit… but there's also the connotation about soiling your own pants."

    "'Soiling your environment' does sound similar to 'soiling your pants,'" she says with a cheeky smile.

    I shrug. "Heh, I guess this is the closest that we'll get."



    The Hollys search the islands for living beings but don't find anything. The towns seem empty of anything interesting to us, too. They look like they've been abandoned for a while since all of their food stocks have rotted away, but there's no overgrowth present, so they feel more like ghost towns instead of abandoned ruins.

    Suddenly, a Holly takes damage without anything physically touching her.

    Argh… spirits…

    I warn the girls and give everyone one point in [Spirit Magic] so that we can all cast [Spirit Eyes], but only Yunia can reliably fight them. I summon four spirit elementals to establish a perimeter, but I'm not confident in their combat capabilities.

    It takes a good while, but we eventually start seeing spirits flying towards us. Their glowing light blue forms have odd shapes, vaguely resembling humanoids. I recognize wings and a goat head on one of them, so I think that they're actual Chimeras this time. We only see a few dozen of them, but their numbers are quickly increasing.

    Yunia casts [Spirit Blade] and [Spirit Shield], then a spiritual arm holding a shortsword and another arm holding a large shield grow out of her shoulders. The blade is the only way to safely harm another spirit without the danger of an instant counter, and the shield actually repels spirits, so it's not as simple as it seems. It's possible to fight spirits without spells, but it's like getting into a knife fight, it'll be "bloody" for both sides.

    The spirits start to intercept us, waiting for us in the middle of the Looping Winds, but the ship flies too fast for them to catch up to it, so we keep Yunia and the spirit elementals in the front. There, they can deal with any of the spirits that might get on a collision course with us. We have to protect the golems since they're the most vulnerable to spirit damage.

    I unassign some of my Physical skill points and put them in [Spirit Magic] instead so that I can use [Spirit Touch] and fend off the spirits that might come our way.

    "They aren't humanoids, but they also aren't monsters," Alissa says.

    "It would be very creepy if they were humanoids," I respond, and she nods.



    After a few minutes, the spirits adapt and begin to accelerate along the sky road. They eventually catch up, and we have to resort to fighting them.

    The Chimeras' bodies are a mix of body parts from different races, but there's always at least one part of them that's human, and the pairs of limbs always belong to the same race. Their heads, chests, arms, and legs are all a mix-and-match that seems rather random. I start to see a few patterns though, like: goat head, human torso, ape arms, and bull legs.

    Yunia casts [Spirit Link] and starts "talking" with them as she fights. They might not fully comprehend her exact words, but with the spell, they'll at least understand what she means.

    "If you want us gone, then let us pass!" She yells as her spirit arm cuts down a Chimeric spirit.

    The other girls start randomly casting area spells, which cause a strong enough disturbance to block the spirits from approaching and lightly damage them.

    An angry Chimera lion/zebra mix enters the left side of the bridge, his arms reaching out for Alissa's head. With my extra arm, I grab his wrist and throw him towards Yunia.

    No touch! Those ears are mine!

    My will overpowers the spirit's, and it flies away, then sinks past the ship's deck. Spirits can't be "thrown," but you can still "will" them to be thrown if you get a hold on them.

    "We're not here to loot anything!" Yunia lies.

    The spirit elementals are doing pretty well. The hostile spirits aren't fighting very hard, they're almost like zombies, just trying to grasp and harm our souls. Lina's [Befuddle] and [Demoralize] make them even dumber and slower.

    The number of spirits keeps increasing, so we start maneuvering to avoid them because of how slow they are to adapt. The spirits can catch up to us, but they don't last long, and eventually tire out.

    "We'll be gone if you let us pass!" Yunia continues trying to reason with them.

    As we get more competent in dealing with them, they change their tactics. A glowing, light blue tunnel forms as the spirits start to surround us.

    I cast [Discharge] ahead of us, and Yunia raises her sword into the tunnel's ceiling while she charges up her [Spirit Shield]. The spirits are stunned for a second, then they get ripped apart by her sword and blown away by the shield, opening up a hole out of the tunnel.

    A spirit comes from below and clutches my right foot. I feel like my skin is getting burned and my bones are getting crushed at the same time from its ethereal grip.

    I force my spirit arm down, and a naked, spirit "me" bends down to grab the spirit's arm. It's a very odd sensation to have so much of my spirit actually "detach" from me. I feel like my upper body is naked while getting bitten by the winter wind.

    My spirit "me" grabs the arm of the spirit, and I squeeze it with all of my strength. The spirit yells in anger and pain as its arm becomes blurry and loses cohesion, releasing my foot.

    Now free from the spirit's grip, I throw it to Yunia again, and she cuts it in half with her [Spirit Blade]. I immediately use my spirit arm to grab my wounded leg and gently massage it, helping it heal.

    "Fuck this!" I yell, then we pull the ship up out of the Looping Winds and quickly fly upwards.

    The spirits all continue forward and slowly try to stop, bunching up into a sea of blue far ahead of us. The spirits that were getting left behind have enough time to veer upwards, but they're already exhausted and don't manage to get close enough to us to matter.

    Then we slowly level off the ship a few hundred meters above the Looping Winds.

    Once the glowing blue sea below us is left behind, we point the ship down, straighten out the wings, and fly downwards.

    We quickly reach terminal velocity, so I deactivate the ship's power.

    Then [Piloting] triggers, so we slowly level off the ship again, gliding forward at full speed. We level out when we enter the Looping Winds, so I tilt the wings downwards again, using the sky river to push us forward.

    The sea of spirits resumes chasing after us, and when they start to encircle us again, I repeat the maneuver.

    "Deal with this, suckers!" I cheer and laugh.

    After a few of these maneuvers, we spot the largest urban island that we've ever seen ahead of us. It's a huge and imposing conical hill, entirely covered with colorful square house after colorful square house.

    At various parts of the town, the Holly scouting it sees hanging piers where small delta wing aircraft are parked. There's even a large blimp.

    "That looks ominous," Roxanne says through [Bind].

    "If you have the time to admire the environment, then you can fight harder," Alissa chastises her.

    "He~y…! I'm just firing [Firestorm] at random, I don't even need to aim!" Roxanne moans in response.

    "Hmph…"



    A few minutes later, Roxanne's words echo in my mind as the Holly scouting ahead sees movement on the huge island, but this time, they aren't spirits, they're real Chimeras.

    She sees the usual bustle of everyday life inside a town. The Chimeras seem to have an aversion to clothing, preferring to leave their large, toned, delicious bodies exposed for all to see.

    In a small green space, a couple of male Chimeras enjoy jerking each other off in public, and a group of young-looking female Chimeras watches them intently while giggling. In another green space, the Holly finds a bull-horse man with a huge horse cock pounding the shit out of a small, cat-bird woman, also in public, and then the inverse pairing is seen a few meters away from them.

    It seems that the Chimeras enjoy exposing themselves more than the elves, and have sex in public more than the beastfolk. This could be an interesting town.

    Soon after, a Holly scouting down the Looping Winds detects twenty unidentified bogies flying towards us. Suddenly, multiple blue beams of light burst out from them and hit the spirits behind us. From the mana signature of the spell, I think that it's probably a spirit version of [Beam].

    The super-long beams of light last for around twenty seconds, and when they snuff out, huge holes are left in the sea of spirits chasing behind us. The girls look warily towards the source of the beams. They fired towards us from such a long distance that even I didn't see it coming.

    Then the Holly finally identifies them. The twenty bogies are Chimeras clad in glowing white armor and armed with golden spears just like Ciel's. With their white wings, they look like angels that came to save us.

    The [Spirit Beam]s fire off a few more times, leaving only a handful of light blue clumps of spirits.

    "Actual Chimeras are coming!" I yell.

    "What?! Humanoids?!" Ciel exclaims, confused.

    "I don't think so. They could be monsters, or they might be constructs of the dungeon," Yunia says.

    "Using a part of the Core is one thing, but how can it make so many Chimeras?" I question.

    Ciel's expression becomes somber, and she shares a look with Yunia, who sighs and nods. "[Trap Soul]," Ciel says.

    Lina's Trivia: One of the few system spells banned by the temple, this level seventy spell traps a soul inside something, generally a gem. This prevents a spirit from reincarnating, so it's considered a Wicked thing to do, leading to its ban, but even before the empire, using this spell was frowned upon.

    "But they look like they're made of flesh," I say.

    "Your custom [Materialization] spell isn't exactly novel," Yunia says.

    "Gih!" Gify agrees.

    "Well, then… we'll see what Alissa's senses say once they get closer," I say, and Alissa nods.

    The girls get ready on the deck to receive our winged guests, forming a line in front of the bridge's tower. I unsummon the spirit elementals and summon five wind elementals. The nearly naked green Alissas blow me kisses, then turn serious and glare at the glowing angels coming our way.

    With our preparations complete, we all bite the bullet and use [Redirect Mana] to top off our MP.

    I pull us out of the Looping Winds and park the ship in the sky. The Chimeras lower their glaives, pointing their blades downwards, in what I assume is a non-aggression gesture.

    A minute or so later, five armored Chimeras stop in front of the ship while the rest of them surround us.

    They're each over two meters tall and as buff as a bull. Their long, vertical horns peek out from under their closed helmets, leading me to believe that they're all either a bull or a goat mix. Those horns look a bit impractical, though.

    The one in the middle has a long golden plume affixed to their helmet, so I assume that they're the leader.

    "They aren't humanoids or monsters," Alissa says through [Bind].

    "Their Threads of Fate have been cut, they aren't alive. They're some sort of spirit," Yunia whispers to Hana, who relays the information to the others and Ciel.

    So, it is [Trap Soul], then.

    They slowly float down to the deck, their large wings spread wide and their glaives still pointing down. Their glowing white armor makes them look truly divine. Then they land, and the plumed Chimera lifts their visor.

    I see a long face of a black bull staring at us intently with its blood-red eyes, then they say in a strong, female voice that resounds through the air, "Tonu kia rere whakamua."

    "Uh… we don't speak your language," Yunia says, then repeats it in Ingua.

    "Go, fly," The horned cow lady says in Andraste, with a heavy accent.

    I hurriedly put on some points in [Reo Language].

    "Sorry, can you repeat that?" I ask in Reo.

    The leader snorts, then says, "E rere tonu."

    "I think she wants us to keep flying forward," I say through [Bind].

    "Let's do it slowly," Alissa suggests.

    We gently push the levers again and aim the ship towards the Looping Winds.

    "Tere! Tere!" The leader yells in an impatient tone.

    She wants us to go faster.

    We re-enter the sky river and increase our speed to the max. The leader looks at the wings tilting down, then smiles in satisfaction, showing pearly white teeth. Her four bodyguards remain unmoving, and the Chimeras surrounding us follow the ship.

    I look back and understand why she wanted us to fly: the spirits were catching up.

    I finish putting enough points in Reo just as the cow lady speaks again.

    "Who are you guys?" She asks in a demanding tone.

    "We are adventurers, explorers," I reply.

    She narrows her eyes in confusion and chews on something as she thinks. "Why would you come here?" She questions.

    "What's the problem?" I return the question.

    "Passing through wild Looping Winds with a cargo ship is insanity!"

    "So, they don't know that they're inside a dungeon," I say to the girls.

    "Somehow, the Dungeon Master trapped these spirits here," Alissa says.

    "Well, we did go through quite a lot," I say and give the cow woman a stiff smile.

    "Lina, tell me everything you know about the Broken Skies," I hurriedly say through [Bind].

    The woman stares at me in disbelief, then she sighs and facepalms. She quickly regains her composure, and her expression becomes stern. "What's your name, human pilot?"

    "Wolf Ryder, and these are all my wives," I respond with a proud smile.

    She eyes Aoi, who's gripping her metal halberd and shield, and the golems in confusion, then her mask almost slips. "I'm Oritiki, platoon commander of the Celestial Horns," she says, managing to keep a serious tone.

    The girls also introduce themselves, but the bodyguards don't say a word.

    "'Celestial' was commonly used before the first emperor Ascended. They must be from before the empire," Lina says.

    "From the same time as God-King Arreira," I respond, and feel her nod.

    "So, Dame Oritiki, I assume that that island is your home?" I ask and point to the huge island ahead of us.

    She nods solemnly. "Exactly. That's our home, Whakamutu Mutu. I firmly request that you land there and wait in port while I talk to High Command. I apologize if we seem rude, but it's been such a long time since we've had any visitors that we've never been trained in how to treat you."

    "How about with love and perhaps some snu snu?" I joke in my soul space and get a few chuckles in response.

    "I can understand your references better through [Bind]," Alissa says.

    "Well, in any case, we're just travelers, and we have our own supplies. We won't bother anyone if you prefer that we continue on our journey," I say with a cordial tone.

    She shakes her head, "We've been isolated from the rest of our nation for a generation already. It'd be foolish of us to send away the first visitor we receive with news from the outside."

    She makes a signal with her hand, and her bodyguards store their glaives inside their [Item Box]es, then they all take off their helmets. We see three cows/bulls and two goats. Their fur colors and patterns are quite varied. I see Oritiki's pure black, a brown bovine, a white goat, a blue goat, and a white bovine with black spots.

    With a nod from me, the girls also relax and store their weapons, then we all remove our helmets. The elementals relax and start to curiously look around, drawn to the glowing angels flying around us.

    "I'll give everyone a few points in [Reo Language] so that we can understand each other a little better," I say to the girls. Hana and Yunia don't have enough spare points to fully learn Reo, so they'll talk through the others.

    "Why are you isolated?" Lina asks.

    Oritiki frowns, and the faces of her bodyguards twitch. Her voice softens a little as it gains a note of sadness, "Ever since the Petrification Calamity, the Looping Winds have gone out of control and the islands all around us have been overrun with monsters and elementals. We've gathered a few farm islands, but we still don't have the population to reclaim any more of them."

    "Petrification Event?" Ciel asks.

    Oritiki is taken aback, and her voice gains a tinge of bewilderment as she asks, "Haven't you land-dwellers ever heard about our nation? Has the tragedy of the death of millions gone unnoticed by the rest of the realm?"

    "A-apologies," Lina immediately responds and hastily bows. "W-we aren't scholars, but by nation, do you mean the Ranta… gauhina… nation?"

    "Rangatuhinga o mua Hauhuri," a brown bull bodyguard corrects her, a little offended that she butchered the name so badly.

    "So you've heard of us?" Oritiki solemnly asks.

    "That's the nation that fell to the Symbol of Envy," Lina says in my soul space.

    "Oh, right!" I exclaim, taking the intense gaze of the Chimeras away from my shy little Lina. "We've heard about your nation. We just didn't know what exactly happened to it."

    "Neither do we…" Oritiki admits, and the Chimeras all look down in sadness.

    "We've heard that the High Forest aids the Sky Lands with expeditions to Ranga, but we don't know much else," Ciel tactfully relays Yunia's words.

    "Sky Lands?" Oritiki questions.

    "The Chimeric lands closest to the Gillios Continent," Lina answers.

    "Ah, you mean the Lower Frontier… Well, at least something survived, and yet, a merchant ship is the first to find us…" Oritiki comments with a little suspicion.

    "We've had a lot of luck in getting through the storms, then we found a Looping Winds Station and managed to get it running again," I say.

    "So, you're the ones who reactivated this Looping Winds?"

    We all nod.

    "Where does it lead?"

    "Ozymandias. We saw numerous references to it within the surviving records at the Station, so we chose that as the next target for our expedition," I answer.

    She holds her chin and nods in thought as she looks away. "That's a town beyond Void's End…"-

    Wait, town? All we saw in the Scanner was a vertical disk.

    -"but now that the Looping Winds is active, you have a chance of crossing it if you've set the anchors correctly. Your only problem will be getting past the Gaping Maw." She returns her gaze to us and pays attention to our reactions.

    "Gaping Maw…? You mean the ginormous sky serpent that makes this boat look like an ant?" I question.

    She nods, seeming rather amused by my description. "Exactly. The Symbol of Gluttony, the Gaping Maw. An Aberrant Cloud Snake that eats islands."

    We go quiet, feeling a little apprehensive at the name of the monster. Our encounters with anything named as a Symbol have never been easy. Even Yunia, who's never met any wild Symbols or Aberrants, knows what these two words combined must represent.

    Oritiki chuckles, then she smiles at us as she says, "Well, you've traversed the wild Looping Winds in a cargo ship, reclaimed an abandoned Station, and managed to outrun the Vengeful Spirits. I'll be eagerly waiting to see how you deal with that one."



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Empyrean.
    Lord Asakurà.
    Lord Cidant.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tyler Mills.
    Noble Samuel Steinike.
     
  15. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    Everyone on the deck starts to relax and spread out from their battle lines. Aoi curls up and lays down; Lina and Ciel sit down on her large form; Yunia leans against the bridge tower; Hana and Roxanne cuddle near the starboard railing; the bodyguards lean against the railing near the bow; and Oritiki stands behind the prow.

    She turns to the town just as a Holly notices a commotion. It seems that a bored scout has finally spotted our ship and alerted the town.

    A group of small and lithe Chimeras scramble to the small delta wing planes and take off vertically, then zoom out of the dock at an impressive speed, flying in a delta formation.

    Their yellow planes are like mouse cursors: triangular and wide with a small tail pointing out the back. They're so small that there's barely enough space for the pilot in the cockpit. Most of its volume actually comes from its wingspan, which is five times as wide as the cockpit in its entirety.

    I see three small gems at the tip of each plane: one green, one brown, and one red. If I were to make a guess, these gems cast [Wind Blade], [Earth Bullet], and [Fireball], respectively. I don't think they'd send these small planes to intercept us if they didn't have any offensive capabilities.

    The blue-furred goat turns to Aoi and looks at her curiously, then they turn to Hana and ask with a young male voice, "So, how did you tame a dragon and teach it to use a halberd?"

    "I'm not tamed. I chose to follow him," Aoi responds with her deep, sensual dual voice, and Lina translates for her.

    The young goat-man lets his mouth hang in surprise. The other bodyguards turn to us, too, suddenly very curious, and Oritiki holds back a chuckle.

    "I'm pretty sure that he tamed you with his dick," Hana comments, then says it in Reo, too.

    "You know he didn't ask that!" Aoi exclaims, not because she's ashamed of Hana's words, but because she recognized her teasing tone.

    The composure of the brown bull breaks, and he fidgets nervously while his eyes dart between me and Aoi. "H-how would that even work?" He asks, flabbergasted.

    Oritiki turns her head back, and her blood-red eyes give the brown bull a frightening glare. "Paraaone, these are land-dwellers. Respect their privacy," she chastises him.

    The bull immediately stands at attention, and his eyes look off in the distance. "Apologies. I forgot my position," he says.

    "It's fine," I say and wave my hand.

    "I can reduce my size so that it squeezes tight. His penis can change shape and grow, too," Aoi says and gives them a toothy grin as Lina translates while blushing.

    "Grow…?" Oritiki faintly asks. They are all too stunned to inquire any further.

    "How attractive do you think Oritiki is?" Alissa asks through [Bind].

    "Not particularly, though we can't really see her figure under all her armor," I reply.

    "If you'd like to see that in person, I'm sure we can arrange a demonstration, but only for women," Alissa says with a mischievous grin and a very suggestive tone.

    "I know you like wolf girls, at least," Roxanne teases.

    "Well, it is in my name," I reply.

    "Wait, seriously?" Alissa asks, and I respond with an internal nod.

    "You're not a wolf, you're a human dragon!" Aoi exclaims and pouts internally.

    "And you're a dragon human," I say, and she smiles internally.

    Oritiki simply runs a hand through her fur and looks towards the approaching planes while the bodyguards start whispering among themselves. They have no reason to believe Alissa's words, but she also offered to prove it, so you could say that some of them got a little interested.

    Once the intercepting planes notice the Celestial Horns escorting us, they slow down and add to the escort. The wind elementals become even more interested in the Celestial Horns and bunch up while mimicking Alissa's cute expressions of confusion.

    One of the planes flies alongside the ship and matches our speed. They rest a wing on the railing of the ship and Oritiki grabs it to keep it in place, then the cockpit opens, and the pilot talks to her.

    I see a khaj-… cat woman in a dark green jumpsuit heatedly discussing the procedures for our reception. Oritiki wants to take us directly to the higher docks due to the exceptional circumstances of our arrival while the cat woman wants us to go to the lower docks since we're commoners.

    "I think they're actual nobles. The pilot has a large harem, a dragon, summons, a Living Armor following them, and he gave me his last name," Oritiki whispers, but unfortunately for her, the Holly at the prow can hear her perfectly.

    "Did he introduce himself as a noble? No! They should go to the commoner's docks," the cat woman hisses.

    "I'm sorry, Kaatohe Ngerua, but I'm going to use my rank this time. We're going to the Golden Docks," Oritiki says with finality in her tone.

    Kaatohe actually hisses at Oritiki, then closes her cockpit and flies away.



    I start to notice a spell in the air, it feels very familiar to Yunia's [Spirit Shield]. I look back and notice that the spirits aren't gaining on us anymore, they're actually slowing down.

    I see… this is why the town hasn't been overrun by spirits.

    "So, your group is… quite diverse. Are you all from the same place?" Paraaone, the brown bull, asks.

    The names of the kingdoms changed after the empire conquered them, so we have to match our stories.

    "I'm from the Domum Kingdom, ever heard of it?" I ask.

    "I think my father once said that you Domums use a spell to transport people and goods instantly everywhere," Paraaone answers.

    "Exactly, that's called [Gate]."

    "Well, it seems like the land-dwellers are faring better than us…" The blue goat glumly comments.

    "What happened to us was a calamity, not a result of our failings," Oritiki says, then motions for us to continue.

    "I'm a slave from Mountainhome," Lina says and bows quickly.

    "We're from the Sommer Kunikreich," Hana says and pulls Ciel into a hug.

    Rabanara didn't exist until long after Arreira's time.

    "I'm from the Brumeux Forest," Alissa says.

    "Aloresta," Yunia calmly says.

    "Succubi Holy Lands," Roxanne says with a smile.

    They might not even know what a Blood Slave is, so it might be better to just say that they're all my wives, except for Lina.

    "We all met in the Sky Lands and… fell in love, then decided to explore the Broken Skies," I say and grin awkwardly.

    The blue goat and the quiet white goat suppress a chuckle.

    "Apologies, but the blunt way you put it undersells the impressiveness of your group," the blue goat says with a wide smile and tugs at his small white goatee.

    "I'm impressed at how well most of you speak Reo," the white goat says.

    Only I have ten points in Reo while the girls each have a varying amount, so they have a noticeable accent, unlike me.

    "I learned Reo to aid in our exploration of the Broken Skies, and my wives learned it to help with our daily lives since we'll be spending quite a bit of time among the Chimeras," I say and give them a diplomatic smile.

    Oritiki raises an eyebrow, but doesn't say anything. Our first meeting was rather awkward, so I think she might be suspicious about our background.

    "What about that Living Armor and the floating dolls? What are they?" Paraaone asks.

    "They are servants, consider them as something similar to summons," I respond.

    The attention of the bodyguards is drawn to the golems. They look at them curiously, though Jarn's appearance is slightly comical, so they focus more on her. They think she's a Living Armor while the dolls might be cursed in a similar way. Yunia, who's the closest to them, subtly tells them to not correct the bodyguards' guesses.

    "Enough questions, we have to dock, so don't distract the pilot," Oritiki says, and the bodyguards straighten their postures again.



    She pulls us out of the Looping Winds and guides us up to the top of the town.

    The buildings slowly increase in size as we ascend. First, they become mansions, then they gain gardens of increasing size.

    The Holly scouting the town discovers a rare human or two, naked among the Chimeras. They might be why the Chimeras know some Andraste.

    The interceptors disengage from our escort and return to their own docks, then, a minute later, we finally reach the Golden Docks. In true God-Ruler fashion, the dock is covered with details in gold. The first emperor really disliked using gold and silver as decoration, so this sort of art isn't present in most imperial homes.

    The Docks is a large landing strip made of concrete, protruding out from the town and supported by a lattice of thick, metal beams. On each side of the landing strip, there are four platforms with wooden hangars in between them. On the outer edge of the platforms, there's a raised wooden walkway with some sort of rolled up bridge. It looks like each platform can fit a ship approximately triple the length of ours.

    The thick, colored clouds all over the Broken Skies blocks out a lot of the sunlight, making it difficult to notice the difference between day and night. This dungeon also doesn't really follow the outside world's day-night cycle, so I have no idea what time it might be right now.

    My watch says that it's currently daytime, but the illumination is so low that it feels like night for us. Because of that, the landing strip has been marked with glowing crystals in the same way they are on Earth, reminding me of my plane trips between Brazil and Canada.

    Oritiki guides us to the closest platform to the town, a place normally reserved for the upper class. The entire Docks is empty except for a small galley-like ship, which is similar to ours, but it has lots of details in gold, just like the rest of the Docks. Instead of wings, it has five masts with furled sails laid out in a fan shape.

    Ooh… I love seeing new airship designs.

    We gently land, and a welcoming party comes towards our ship. I see one naked Chimera along with four others carrying spears and armored with gambesons and leather.

    Alissa and I finally release the controls, then we head down to the deck, and I stop near Oritiki.

    With a gesture from her hand, she dismisses the flying Celestial Horns, then turns towards us. Her eyes immediately land on Gify, and she stops for a moment, then looks me in the eye. "I'll ask that you remain on this platform until I return or someone else comes to receive you," she says.

    I nod in agreement, and she jumps off the ship, followed by her men, then spreads her white angelical wings and gently floats over to the walkway. She lands in front of the welcoming party, exchanges a few words, then flies off towards the top of the town. Now that their glowing armor is out of sight, my eyes begin to feel the tiredness from looking at something so bright for too long.

    We huddle up on the port side of the ship and wait for the Chimeras to come to us. They stop in front of the rolled-up bridge, and an armored soldier activates a small enchantment, making it unroll itself towards us and stop right on top of the railing, then metal clamps secure it to our ship. Ropes running along the bridge's railings suddenly tighten and pull the suspended bridge taut.

    The naked Chimera is a man with a monkey head with a lot of bright yellow fur covering most of his body, which explains why he doesn't feel cold. The weird thing I'm noticing is how most of the men walk around with a half-chub. Enough blood to keep it long, but not erect, and this monkey dude is the same, though his is quite long, almost reaching his knees.

    This group of people doesn't have wings and are much less well-built than the Celestial Horns. They also have an eclectic variety of body parts, making me salivate as I see the white and light blue wolf that looks rather feminine.

    Here's hoping that that one is female.

    Their puffy armor makes it impossible to know whether they have breasts or not.

    Hana and Aoi stare bemusedly at the yellow monkey's long penis, but the other girls avoid looking down. Alissa, most of all, is noticeably disgusted at seeing another naked man, though the prospects of having me ogle naked women counters that negative feeling.

    The monkey man stops near the end of the rolled-out bridge and stares at me with a serious expression. Even his long yellow tail is standing still in the air from the tension. He's nervous, but his tone is perfectly diplomatic as he says, "Wolf Ryder, I'm harbormaster Koura, and I'm responsible for dealing with entry and departure of aircraft. As Oritiki may have mentioned, it's been such a long time since we last had visitors that the correct procedures to deal with this situation have been lost.

    "I ask that you remain here as she has instructed since you won't be considered a simple guest for us. The news of your arrival will spread through the entire town, and we'd very much like to receive news from the outside. We ask that you understand our situation and cooperate."

    I give him a diplomatic smile, easing some of his nervousness, and nod, then I say, "I understand. We're explorers, so we aren't in any particular hurry to depart. We'll wait for as long as necessary."

    He bows deeply, then smiles diplomatically, but his face becomes much gentler. "Thank you for your understanding. I'll be in my office in case you have any need for us. I'll leave two guards here so that you may ask them for whatever you wish."

    I nod gently, and he turns around, then walks away. I give one intense look along with a subtle smirk to the beautiful wolf Chimera before they walk away. The feminine wolf stiffens for a second, feeling the intensity of my gaze, and shyly glances at me before going to stand at the entrance of the suspended bridge.

    "I kind of like seducing others for you. If you can, let me have that one," Alissa says through [Bind].



    I pull out sofas for us, then we enjoy a simple honey and water Tonique tea.

    "Should we take off our armor? If we are going to be received by their high society, then that would give the best first impression," Yunia suggests.

    "If they aren't living humanoids, then I don't trust them," Alissa says.

    "Unless a spirit has been corrupted, it won't turn evil or Wicked," Ciel says.

    "I can't say whether or not they've been corrupted, but they don't seem evil," Yunia says, and Roxanne agrees.

    "Let's change into our formal clothes, but I'll keep the elementals on the ship, just in case," I say.



    The sexy wolf Chimera stands still, allowing me to admire their body, but they can't stop themself from taking repeated glances at us.

    "It's getting a little hot today, isn't it?" She says with a gentle female voice.

    Fuck yes!

    "Uh? Yeah, I guess," the raccoon man responds and shrugs.

    The wolf woman loosens her gambeson, revealing a hint of her milky white bosom.

    She's a bit too far away for me to use [Sense Soul] on her, so I can't see her name yet. She's as tall as Hana; her fur is quite fluffy, like a Samoyed; its color is pure white with small light blue spots at the ends; her ears are triangular and tall; her snout is quite long and thin; and it's her eyes that have the most "feminine" look with their long eyelashes and their seductive, angled shape.

    I guess I've become a furry.

    "It seems like they don't know that they're inside a dungeon," Yunia says. We keep our voices low so that the guards won't hear us.

    "Yep. I think that we have to lie and go with the story that we're explorers," I say.

    "Then we have to match our lies," Lina says, and I nod.

    "I think that Oritiki might already be suspicious of us. Our first meeting was really awkward," Alissa says.

    "I should've put some points in [Reo Language] before they landed. I was careless," I say and bow apologetically.

    "We… we should've suggested that. I was too stunned by their spells; I should've been more careful," Yunia admits

    I smile wryly and say, "I guess that even you can get careless from enjoying yourself too much."

    "I wasn't enjoying myself," Yunia mumbles and subtly pouts.

    I turn to Lina and say, "Alright, tell us everything you know about the Chimeras at the time of Arreira."



    It takes half an hour for Oritiki to come back, walking alongside Kaatohe Ngerua, the apparent commander of the small planes. Both are naked except for the tons of jewelry adorning their bodies.

    Oritiki has a black, human chest with huge tits, furry arms with human hands, and lizard legs. Her wings have seemingly shrunk down to a third of their previous size. Her pussy is completely shaved, exposing her inviting, meaty lips.

    Kaatohe looks like a Bengal cat with spotted leopard arms and back, and a bronze-skinned human front and legs. Her small breasts are quite cute, and she has a well-kept, orange landing strip.

    "Godsdamnit, they're hot," Hana comments as I share the tantalizing sight through [Bind].

    Roxanne looks at the pair of jiggly, dark bazoongas, then looks at Ciel's and smirks. "Yours are a match for actual cow tits," she says.

    Ciel rolls her eyes and says, "Jealous?"

    Roxanne grins mischievously. "Of course, but since you let me milk them, I'm quite happy with not having a pair like yours."

    "You can't really win against her like that," Yunia lowly comments.

    The two Chimeric women exchange some words with Koura, then stop in front of the bridge to our ship and talk to the guards. They speak too quietly for even Alissa to hear them, but the Holly under the bridge is still close enough for it to hear them anyway.

    "How have they behaved?" Oritiki asks.

    "They changed clothes, drank tea, and talked a lot, but we didn't eavesdrop," the wolf woman says, and Oritiki nods, clearly pleased.

    "The human man has certainly got his eyes on her," the raccoon man says in a teasing tone.

    Oritiki and Kaatohe stare at the wolf woman, but she remains stiff and avoids looking at their eyes.

    After an awkward few seconds, Oritiki smiles and says, "I'm reassigning both of you. You'll report to me for the time being. Inform Koura, then take off your armor and serve our guests."

    Kaatohe rolls her eyes and crosses her arms.

    The raccoon man smiles sadly and says, "I don't think any of them are interested in me. I'm pretty sure that the dragon is looking at me more like a piece of meat… like, one that you eat, not… the other way…"

    "Just be their guide, then," Oritiki says with a shrug. "Now, you have your orders."

    "Yes, Honored One," they say in unison and walk away.

    Oritiki and Kaatohe then walk across the bridge and hop onto the ship. We stand up to receive them, now fully dressed up in our formal clothing.

    "Ryder family, this is Kaatohe Karaka Ngerua, commander of the Wasp Interceptors, the planes that escorted us here," Oritiki says and gestures towards the hot, naked cat woman beside her.

    Three names? I'm not sure what that means. The way she looks at us screams of 'nobility,' though.

    We introduce ourselves, but her reaction is so perfectly neutral that even Alissa gets disappointed.

    The elven custom for introductions involves kissing a hand, but the Chimeras are very reserved when it comes to touching. They don't even shake hands with strangers, which seems extremely ironic to us. Kaatohe doesn't motion for us to kiss her hand, so we just trade short bows.

    "You can call me Kaatohe Ngerua," she says and smiles smugly, then bows quickly and crosses her arms, enticingly bunching up her small fun bags.

    Certainly not one to go for nicknames…

    "I think she's a noble," Lina comments in my soul space.

    "Agreed," echoes through [Bind].

    "With the introductions complete, let's talk business. As I'd expected, the High Command has assembled and invites your family to a meeting," Oritiki says.

    "We gladly accept," I say and nod respectfully.

    She smiles and says, "Wonderful. Now, I'll explain some of the rules of our society. We mean no offense, it's just that it's better not to assume anything, especially because our brethren at the frontier are much more conservative than we are… and the dragonkin are notoriously the most common offenders."

    "None taken," Hana casually responds.

    Oritiki nods strongly, making her delicious black milk jugs jiggle, then continues, "We may all walk around naked, but that's not an invitation to touch our bare skin or even for sexual acts. You're only allowed to touch someone's bare skin once they've asked for a handshake or a hug. A common way to ask for a sexual act is by first asking for a kiss, then gradually asking for more contact, and if you then have sex in public, make sure to clean it all up.

    "You're all allowed to watch others as much as you want, and even have sex in public yourselves, as long as you don't block traffic or do it in front of private property without getting permission from the owner.

    "Also, we all have personal towels that we use when we sit down anywhere besides the grass. If you wish to go naked, then you need one, too. It's very rude to stain chairs with sweat from your hindquarters, no matter how well cleaned it may be.

    "Lastly, if you, Wolf, decide to go naked, ensure that your erection doesn't touch anyone, that would be very rude. Our men have learned how to keep their penises from straightening so that that doesn't happen, but they still enjoy keeping them at full length to measure their sizes against each other." She finishes with a subtle roll of her eyes.

    "Understood," I say, and we all nod.

    Oritiki smiles while Kaatohe remains impassive.

    "Now then, please follow us," the cow woman gently says.



    As we walk by Koura's office, the raccoon man and the wolf woman walk out, now fully naked. Thankfully, the man's dick is fully sheathed, revealing nothing from under his fur, while the wolf woman exposes all of her milky white skin and light blue scales. Her small breasts have ghost nipples that look hard and pointy, while her pussy has a light blue landing strip so small that I can still see her pink lips. Her legs are like a dragon's with a matching tail, her arms and chest are human, and her back is fluffy and furred.

    Is she excited?

    She freezes for a moment when she looks at me, then continues walking forward with a stiff posture. I smirk at her, then look forward again, and Alissa happily squeezes my right hand.

    We walk out of the Golden Docks and reach the city proper. It feels like we're in the Nobles' Quarters due to the low volume of traffic and the opulence of both the houses and the people walking by. We walk down wide cobble streets while admiring the creativity of the Chimeric painters.

    To match our gems, Yunia wears a thin, white necklace with a yellow garnet gemstone cut into a sphere. With all of our jewels and fine clothes, we don't really look out of place, except for the fact that we're the only ones not walking around naked.

    Out of all of us, Aoi gets the most attention since there's the occasional dragon-like monster walking around the town, and they're very impressed to see a tamed one calmly walking beside us. Alissa, Hana, and Roxanne get a lot of looks, too, since the Chimeras have a thing for animal or monster parts, it seems.

    Then word of our arrival spreads, and a small crowd starts to follow us. The two guards behind us pull out wooden clubs and start to disperse the crowd, guarding against anyone bothering us or asking us questions.

    We eventually reach a huge, golden, semi-circular building. It looks rather minimalist with a simple garden in front, but it's immaculately maintained. It only has a single floor and a wide dome in the center, but the ceiling is easily four times as high as the usual imperial architecture.

    Guards wearing glowing, golden armor are spread out all along the outer perimeter of the wall-less estate. If I hadn't seen the eyes of one of them following us, I'd have guessed that they were statues instead.

    The inside of the building is like the Sistine Chapel, with nearly every centimeter covered with paintings, while everything else is gilded with gold, instead. Truly opulent.

    We pass through a wide hallway and walk up a long set of stairs towards the wide dome above. Then we cross through a set of gilded golden doors, and emerge onto the stage of a round theater. There are seats for hundreds of thousands of people, but they're all empty, except for ten of them in the front row, where old-looking Chimeras are seated.

    Their eyes are all impassive and serious. Except for one of them, I don't think that they're particularly friendly.

    The only person with a pleasant gaze is a gray dragon-headed Chimera. His leathery lips are curled up in a subtle smirk, but like Aoi, it reveals his long fangs, which unintentionally makes it look slightly scary.

    He smiles at us, then motions towards a few seats in front of the stage and says, "Ryders, please have a seat."



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Empyrean.
    Lord Asakurà.
    Lord Cidant.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tyler Mills.
    Noble Samuel Steinike.
     
  16. Manasong

    Manasong Active Member

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    With a diplomatic smile, I nod, and we comply, but Jarn remains standing behind me even though there's a chair set out for her.

    Oritiki and Kaatohe continue on and walk to the audience seats. They pass the row of the High Council and sit in the next row up. Kaatohe sits behind a cat-headed chimera that seems very similar to her, but with many strands of white hair and patches of white fur all over her face. She also has actual dark blonde hair on her head in a feathered style.

    "Let's start the introductions. I'm Hihiriwa Tarakonaa, Marshall of the Skies," the gray dragon says.

    "I'm Wahinui Karaka Ngerua, Marshall of the Lands," says Kaatohe's possible relative.

    The other eight Councilors introduce themselves, and I notice that some of them don't have three names. Perhaps they aren't all nobles?

    Then our turn comes, and the girls introduce themselves as my wives while Lina says that she's my slave. Once Aoi speaks, the Council displays a variety of reactions, from friendly to skeptical. Hihiriwa clearly looks interested. Perhaps Aoi is the reason he's so friendly towards us.

    "Miss… uh, I'm assuming you're a female, is that correct?" Hihiriwa asks Aoi. Reo doesn't have a difference between Miss and Mister, but Hihiriwa is using the Andraste version of the word out of respect for us.

    "Yes. I'm a woman," Aoi says with a nod, and Lina translates.

    He smiles gently, showing his long fangs and says, "We knew how smart dragons were, but this is the first time we've seen one that actually talks and is… friendly to humanoids. Mr. Ryder, how 'similar' would you say that her intelligence is to ours?"

    Chimeric language has a small peculiarity: it's gendered for all objects like Portuguese, but personal pronouns are genderless because Chimeras have a sub-race of Metamorphic Chimeras, who can change sex at will. Hihiriwa is using a genderless pronoun for Aoi, signifying that he sees her as a person instead of a monster or an animal.

    "She's very young for a dragon, but her body has reached maturity, so I'd say that she's as smart as a barely mature youngster," I respond, and Aoi returns the toothy smile. "Oh, yes. Consider her as one of my wives, too."

    Hihiriwa grins while the rest of the council erupts into murmurs. A few of them even question if I'm a heretic. They keep their voices to a whisper, but they're underestimating how good Alissa's hearing is.

    Wahinui quickly puts an end to the talks about heresy. Apparently, she respects our privacy more than the rest of the Council does.

    She turns to us and says, "Our concern about Miss Aoi is about how dangerous she might be to the populace, but I think that you've answered any doubts we might have about her, correct?" She asks in a slightly annoyed tone and eyes the nosy Councilors, who all nod sheepishly.

    "What about the Living Armor? The two dolls are magical beings, too," an androgynous Councilor asks.

    "Consider them like summons that act as our bodyguards. I'm a summoner who employs them for security," I calmly reply.

    The Councilor grumbles, but doesn't come up with anything else to ask us.

    "Then let's move the conversation onto another topic," Hihiriwa says, then becomes serious again. "As you might've noticed, we lost contact with the rest of our nation, including the Celestial Ruler who was appointed to our region. To replace our rulers, we created this High Council, which is composed of the higher ranking aristocracy of our town."

    I think they do have some form of nobility, but the council also includes non-nobles, so he has to use "aristocracy" instead of "nobility."

    "With this comes the question: have you heard of any other Chimeric town or aristocrat that has survived?"

    "Aside from the Sky Lands, the frontier of your nation, no, we haven't," I say and shake my head gently.

    "As far as I remember, the Sky Lands don't have a Celestial Ruler among them," Yunia says.

    "Not even our Supreme Rulers survived?" A Councilman asks.

    "No," I respond solemnly.

    The theater becomes quiet as the High Councilors look at each other grimly, but lack the energy to say anything. Oritiki rubs her horn awkwardly and softly sighs.

    "Then we technically rule over this 'Sky Lands.' That is, unless they're ruled by a branch of the royal house," a noble Councilwoman says, showing some disdain upon mentioning the Sky Lands.

    The Council turns to us, waiting for an answer.

    "I've heard that they've established a new kingdom, but they don't claim to be a direct descendant of the Hauhuri nation," Yunia says.

    The Council reacts with shock and anger.

    "Traitors!"

    "Apostates!"

    "We must subjugate them!"

    Oritiki frowns, and her cold voice smothers their anger as she growls, "I won't fight fellow Chimeras for such petty reasons."

    "And we lack any sort of real military," Wahinui sternly says.

    Kaatohe bitterly looks down at her own hands/paws, extending and retracting her claws repeatedly.

    Hihiriwa smiles gently and says, "Forgive us for this outburst, Ryders, but some of us are still too attached to the glory and pride of the past."

    "It is no matter, we aren't citizens of the Sky Lands," I respond and smile diplomatically.

    The rest of the Council regains their composure, and Hihiriwa continues, "Now, for the next topic, instead of subjugation, it's obvious that our first action should be to contact the Sky Lands. So, Ryders, please tell us how you managed to get here."

    I smile diplomatically again, but it's also a little stiff due to the big fucking lie I'm about to tell them.

    "Well, we went through quite the journey to get here, but if you want to come back through the same way we came, let me tell you that it'll be difficult… In essence, we are lost. Aside from merely going down, we have no idea how to go back."

    Oritiki bursts into laughter while the rest of the Council quietly groans. Wahinui and Kaatohe remain silent, sternly staring at us.

    Wahinui tugs on her whiskers as she says, "I'm not sure if you're aware, but going down won't necessarily lead you back to land. You're more likely to find a Dark Void or a Realm's Edge if you go directly downwards."

    I nod and smile as I reply, "Yes, we're aware. The Broken Skies is a completely warped space at the edge of the realm."

    "And how do you plan to go back, then?" A Councilwoman asks.

    "We don't have any plans to do that. We'll go where the winds take us," Hana answers with a fearsome smile.

    Half of the Council chuckles at her words. She said something very similar to a Chimeric idiom: "Let the current take me where it wills."

    "So, you're saying that you'll be staying here for a while?" Wahinui asks. Her yellow cat eyes are subtly narrowed in mistrust.

    The Council recovers their composure, and their expressions become serious again.

    "No. We'll probably only stay here for a day or two, then we'll continue on our journey towards Ozymandias," I respond.

    "Do you have any idea how to get past the Gaping Maw?" A Councilman asks.

    "No, but we'll find a way to sneak around it if necessary," I answer.

    The Council lets out a few low chuckles.

    "And how would you accomplish such a thing?" He asks again.

    Oritiki and Kaatohe lean forward, suddenly interested.

    I smile a little mischievously and say, "That's a secret. We're adventurers, we can't reveal our secrets so freely."

    Oritiki's face softens in surprise, while Kaatohe's mouth twitches in anger, revealing a sharp white fang.

    "Would you mind if we sent an expedition alongside you?" Hihiriwa suddenly asks, and the entire Council turns to glare at him.

    "What are you planning?" Wahinui asks him, her lips slowly rising into a sneer, revealing an equally white and sharp set of fangs as her younger relative.

    The rather aloof dragon-headed Chimera takes a much more stiff and imposing posture, stretching his long, leathery neck upwards, making his head tower over everyone else. He pulls his lips up into a grin, showing them all his rather beautiful set of teeth. His voice gains a low rumble that makes it hard not to pay attention to him as he says, "Ozymandias had extensive farming islands. I want to recover one while they distract the Gaping Maw."

    The Council seems surprised at his suggestion, but none of them find a reason to dismiss his idea.

    The girls have mixed feelings about this plan. They certainly don't feel very happy about being "bait," but Hihiriwa has been the most favorable Councilor to us, so he's starting to win them over. Also, I'm sure that Ciel is the most distrustful of them since they're all… well, dead. As convincing as they might look, they aren't made of flesh and bone; the occasional wisp of mana escaping their bodies has a very similar taste to my own custom [Materialization] spell.

    As we all consider his words, Hihiriwa continues, "You're the ones that reactivated Waenraw Station Fifteen, correct?" His beautiful red and blue dragon eyes stare intently at me with excitement.

    Uh… the Looping Winds Station didn't have any name that we recognized.

    "I didn't pay much attention to the name of the station, but I think you're right," I answer.

    He gently nods. "We'll escort you past the Vengeful Spirits and help you make your way to the Gaping Maw. Once you do your thing, we'll work on recovering a farming island." Then he turns back to look at Oritiki. "What's your opinion, Honored One? Will you lend us your assistance?"

    The black cow closes her mouth with her hand and rubs her chin in thought. "Sounds acceptable. We'll aid you, but only half of the Celestial Horns will leave. The rest will stay to defend the town," she answers and exhales through her nose loudly.

    Hihiriwa lowers his head. "That should be more than enough," he says, then straightens his posture again and turns to us. "We'll need two days to prepare, is that acceptable?" He asks us, but the glance he gives to Wahinui tells me that he's asking her, too.

    "Sounds fine by me. We wanted some days to rest, anyway," I reply.

    "Now, about your stay. How much coin do you have?" A Councilman asks.

    "A lot of silver and a few gold coins," I lie. We're much richer than that.

    The Councilman frowns and the others look a little worried. He looks around and they have a short discussion, then he turns back to us and smiles diplomatically as he says, "Can you not spend your gold coins here? We've had to reduce the amount of metal in our coins to keep our economy stable, so your wealth is a little… excessive right now."

    "We'll… keep that in mind," I answer, noncommittally.

    Apparently that was the wrong answer as they turn impassive while Wahinui looks displeased.

    Yunia sends me a subtle glance, and I realize my mistake.

    "We're not looking to disrupt the order of your town, so we'll limit ourselves to buy only the essentials," I calmly add.

    Hihiriwa smiles, so I think that fixed it.

    "About Waenraw Station Fifteen, have you set the proper anchors for a way back to the station from Ozymandias?" A Councilman asks.

    "We… haven't. It's 'traversable,' but not very stable," I answer and smile apologetically.

    The Councilman sighs, then Oritiki says, "We'll have better results going back the way they came, then." And the Council nods.

    The theater grows quiet, so Hihiriwa claps his hands and says, "Then I believe that is all that we had to discuss." He looks around as the Council murmurs between themselves for a moment, then they nod in agreement. "Very well. We'll meet again tomorrow at two in the afternoon to discuss our expedition." He adds, and we nod.

    Oritiki stands up and says, "If you, Ryders, don't mind, I'll take responsibility for your stay and show you the town. How does that sound?"

    I look to the girls, and they nod positively. Oritiki seems to be the most trustworthy of them all, so I think this will be fine.

    "We'd be honored to," I say and lower my head respectfully.

    With heavy stomps of her lizard legs and a mesmerizing jiggle of her huge cow tits, Oritiki makes her way down towards us with a smile on her long face.

    "Follow me, then," she says and continues towards the exit.

    We give a bow to the High Council, then follow her. The raccoon man and the sexy wolf woman give us a smile, and I wink to the wolf, then they follow behind us.

    As we walk past the 'Sistine Chapel'-like hall, Lina looks up, absorbed by the paintings.

    "Which are better, paintings or carvings?" I ask her.

    "Carvings have depth, but lack color. Paintings are the inverse. The only 'better' medium would be to have both."

    "Carvings?" Oritiki asks in Andraste with a heavy accent. Reo pronounces vowels with an open mouth, while the r's and s's of Andraste are much more closed and difficult to pronounce.

    "Dwarves are master carvers, but they aren't good painters," I translate to her.

    "Dwarves? She's a dwarf? Oh, I thought she was just a child slave," Oritiki remarks.

    "Well, I'm still fourteen," Lina says shyly.

    "Hm. You certainly don't look like it."

    "Most dwarves don't age past a certain point, and it's always around ten to fifteen years old that our aging stops," Lina says.

    "That's enviable."

    Lina glares at the cow tits jiggling at eye level beside her, then fondles her own flat chest. "Debatable."

    Oritiki notices that and laughs out loud. "You do know that these sacks of fat are only a bother? They even hurt my back if I don't use a sash often enough."

    "Oh, I know exactly what you mean," Ciel says, and they smile at each other.

    Oritiki fondles her fun bags and lets them drop heavily. "If I didn't like men, I'd have become one a long time ago. At least letting my cock dangle around doesn't cause back pain," she says.

    "I'm pretty sure that your thighs would get irritated from all the slapping," I say with a smirk.

    "That's why you should always keep it at a half-chub," she replies, and we chuckle.

    "Are you a Metamorphic Chimera?" Alissa asks.

    She nods and answers, "I am. It's why I have these horns; I was born with them and didn't need an Alteration Mage to give them to me. It's been a while since I last changed into a man, though. I've even forgotten what it's like to piss while standing."

    We chuckle, but the girls' are more reserved. They don't know what true freedom feels like.



    We exit the building and stop near the grass.

    Oritiki turns to us and says, "I still have some duties to finish for today, so I'll join you again at dusk. These two will act as your guides, but you're free to do as you wish."

    "I'm Ririmu," the raccoon man says and gently bows.

    "I'm Hukarere," the white wolf says and offers her hand for a handshake. I take it and give her a gentle squeeze. Her hand is human and rather rough. Not everyone can afford to use skincare products like we do.

    "So, would you like to go somewhere?" Ririmu asks.

    My eyes linger for a moment on Hukarere's enticing body, then I turn to the girls.

    "We're late for lunch," Roxanne says, and Aoi nods emphatically.

    "We'd like a restaurant with hearty food and a lot of meat," I say.

    "I know just the place," Ririmu says and nods. Even though he's a man, I'm pretty happy to have him as a guide since his face is so cute. He reminds me of the gnomes because they both make me feel like hugging them.

    "Then I'll take my leave. Until dusk," Oritiki says, and we all nod respectfully.



    As we walk through the town, we start to hear town criers spreading the news of our arrival. It's basically an abridged version of our meeting: we've stumbled upon this town by accident, there's no simple way back, the rest of the Hauhuri nation is likely no more, and only the Sky Lands remain.

    Although some seem saddened by the news, most of the murmurs are about their hope of finding a way to the Sky Lands. They've (seemingly) spent a generation already isolated from the rest of the realm, so they held little hope that Hauhuri survived the Calamity.

    With the news spreading, the curiosity of the Chimeras is satisfied, so only a few of them come to bother us.

    "Don't you fear never being able to go back?" Hukarere asks.

    "No. We're prepared to spend a long time exploring around here. Also, the way back is difficult, but not impossible," I answer.

    "I can't fathom not having a home to return to at the end of the day," Hukarere says and rubs one of her ears in thought.

    "Home is where we're together, wherever it may be," Ciel says with a warm smile.

    "Well, I always knew that explorers were different from us common folk," Ririmu says with a shrug.

    "We'll return home one day, we're sure of that. We didn't come this far just on pure luck, regardless of how 'lost' we are," I say with a wry smile.

    "Didn't you say that other expeditions failed? And you're confident that you'll survive?" Ririmu asks.

    "Those expeditions tried to open the way to reclaim territory. Their goals are different from ours," Yunia says.

    "Hah. They're all sissies and wouldn't dare to do half the things we've done to get here," Hana says with a fearsome smile.

    "Oh?" Hukarere's pointy ears perk up and turn towards Hana.

    We smile wryly and let our boisterous dragonkin tell an embellished tale about our trip through the Broken Skies.

    "Haven't you met a Dark Void in the wild?" Ririmu asks.

    "Thankfully, no," Lina answers.

    "If you're going to Ozymandias, then you'll pass through Void's End, and it's… well, it's an area full of Dark Voids."

    Hukarere shudders, and her snout scrunches in aversion. "I've patrolled Void's End in the Long Floater a few times. It's such a creepy place," she says.

    "I hope you placed the anchors correctly. You shouldn't be careless near a Dark Void," Ririmu says.

    The girls look at Lina and I, and we smile wryly.

    "We did the best we could," I say, and our guides chuckle nervously.



    Ririmu pushes away a horse-headed man and yells, "These are guests of the Honored One, don't bother them without going through them first!"

    The man stiffens in fear, then neighs in annoyance and walks away.

    "I sympathize with their desire to ask us questions, but we don't have time to answer them all," Yunia says.

    "You're the most interesting thing to happen here in… well… ever since the Calamity, actually, so I'm sure that a fair number of them only want to satisfy their own curiosity," Hukarere comments.

    "Well, guarding the Golden Docks is so boring that I'm quite happy to be doing something else," Ririmu comments, and we smile gently.

    "After patrolling Void's End, I wanted to do something calmer, so I'm not tired of it yet, but a change like this isn't unwelcome," Hukarere says.

    "Oh? We've only seen one ship in the entire docks. It doesn't look like there's a lot of traffic," Roxanne says.

    "Yeah. There weren't that many aristocrats in town before the Calamity, so most of the upper levels are occupied by upstarts, and they don't have the funds to buy ships," Hukarere responds and scoffs lightly.

    It's a bit odd how she's using "upstart" in a kind of derogatory way.

    "The Forum of the Town Hall is supposed to be filled with aristocrats to discuss our laws, but even with the entire Common Council, you'd barely fill half of the Forum," Ririmu says.

    "But it doesn't seem like the town is suffering for it," Yunia comments as she looks around.

    The town is quite active and clean. Even though they're all some type of spirit, I don't see anything that looks abandoned or overgrown, which means that they're performing regular maintenance. Even the lower levels are relatively well-built for an area that would normally be considered the slums in other cultures.

    "People are quite satisfied with the High Council," Hukarere says, and her tail wags subtly.



    We finally reach a medium-class restaurant, the kind where you know the names of the chef and the owner, and they remember your favorite plate whenever you come in.

    The guards cast [Clean] on their feet before entering, then they pull out their personal towels to sit on.

    The building is made of cement and stucco and colored with a neutral, faded brown color, giving the restaurant quite a comfy atmosphere. There are a few paintings hanging on the walls, but the rest of the decor isn't anything special.

    "Join us for a meal. It'll be our treat," Alissa gently suggests to them, and they accept with a smile.

    The food is mostly chicken and other birds. The most expensive plate is a magical being called Taktaena. It means something like "uses color to hide," which reminds me of the Chamebirbs. I decide to not eat that plate.

    The Chimeric lands lack space for large farms, so their diet is mostly hunted game, small farm animals used to add variety to the meals, the occasional veggie and fruit, roots, and leaves, lots of leaves. Not a single part of the plants go to waste, so there's even a tree with soft bark that's cooked until it melts.

    I decide to order this tree soup, some fibrous bread to dip with, and spicy Dragolite skewers. The soup sounds exotic, but it isn't, the taste is quite mild and faintly sweet with the flavor of pineapple.

    As we eat, I feel wisps of mana escaping from my belly, then the girls notice it happening to them, too, but it doesn't happen to the guides. The guides are eating normally, seemingly not noticing the odd mana leaving our bodies.

    I open my "Status" and see two new entries under "Status Effects": "Moderate Mana Recovery | Souce: Digested Food | Time Left: 30 min," and "Moderate Nutrition Recovery | Source: Digested Food | Time Left: 1 hour."

    This isn't real food, this is conjured food. I relay this information to the girls, and they whisper it to Ciel and Yunia to keep them from making a scene.

    I was getting used to thinking that all these people are "dead," but now this? The more I think about this town, the creepier it gets. I mean, it's a literal ghost town, and now, we're basically eating "ghost food."

    I wonder why the dungeon sent us here, specifically. This isn't exactly what I expected to find in an elven dungeon.



    Hall of Fame of Patrons

    The patrons who support Rupegia shall have their names sung by the bards for they deserve the glory and honor. Their names are:

    Oracle Maximillian Hübner.
    Prince PreownedFIN.
    Lord Andrew Meyers.
    Lord Hope.
    Lord Samuel Lim.
    Lord Bill.
    Lord Novgarod.
    Lord DJ.
    Lord Ashadun.
    Lord Michale Erwin.
    Lord Enrique Peña Gomez.
    Lord Braidborn.
    Lord Bakerdea.
    Lord Yeeteris Dedmeem.
    Lord D4rk Sheep.
    Lord Nathan Vanbrunt.
    Lord Markus.
    Lord Maurice.
    Lord Badger.
    Lord Krawn.
    Lord Remco.
    Lord Empyrean.
    Lord Asakurà.
    Lord Cidant.
    Noble Salty Panda.
    Noble Yamibomb112.
    Noble Mild Fracas.
    Noble EESDESESESRDT.
    Noble Aclys.
    Noble Tyler Mills.
    Noble Samuel Steinike.