Novel Yuusha Isekai! Youjo Suki! [Ch 1-137]

Discussion in 'Community Fictions' started by eharper256, Jun 28, 2017.

  1. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE KL2
    FIRE ANGEL


    With a blasting punch, I dislodge the skull in front of me, finally destroying one of the archers with my flaming uppercut. Its skull does melts with fire intensity. But...

    Oh no!

    Cuts along my side and my leg itch, my back aches from being singed. But not time for that! Elijah is back, but protecting Aria from trouble has put him in a pinch.

    Ki smashing furiously, but no uses, against the other shield skeleton in the way. Arry is hurting bad and Rish is already glowing with light to help her. Kae is still attempting to attack the lord, and keep it distracted from vaporising us with its flames. Seri is incanting her spells, but can she make it?

    No... It must be Kali. I need to get there.

    But a charge alones... even with flames boost... too far...

    Kali runs anyway. Must try. Muchly foolish. Back is wide open to the remaining Archer, and sword edges closer to Aniki's neck.

    Must be something!

    Mother. That time she...

    Kali stops with a screech, instantly crouching so tightly and quickly, that chest slams my greaves.

    Does actually save me from an arrow to the back.

    Falling into a runners’ start, only compressed, smaller. Tighter. Almost a ball.

    Is working though. My adrenaline hits an obscene level. Heart beats like never before. Eyes bulge from intensity of how slow things suddenly appear.

    The stone behind me buckles and throws up dust. Haven't moved, but the force behind my legs builds by the microsecond, and the power of the compressed energy sets my legs almost on fire.

    It can't last. My body will explode if storing any more. Will die for surely's.

    Uncoil!

    My limbs scream. The heat of the air passing by me soars in temperature. Dozens of joyous Fire Spirits appear suddenly, riding with me like furious S'tavi Megarum riders.

    Will my movement be as fast as the weird creatures?

    No. But not just a flash-step either.

    The Meenaora's Shot-Peck!

    Everything goes by so quickly, blood explodes from my nose and eyes. But my leg manages to get in front of me.

    The skeleton knight... its torso and head disappear as my steel-clad foot impacts it.

    Of course, foolish moves speed keeps going. Wall approaches rapidly.

    But somehow, this time, Kali just makes it. Release the energy! My hand grabs at the ground. It hurts. Broke it for sure. It's an instant snap, feels it.

    But it lets me attempt a cartwheel to a stop. Barely. Ignoring the agony, smashing my buttocks into the wall, dislodging some masonry, all stops finally.

    Thinking that does something muchly bad to my spine as well.

    But at least... didn't turn into paste. Small gifts of favour, eh?

    Mother said... wasn't strong enough yet. She was right.

    Gushes of blood eject from my mouth, and it feels like Kali broke everything, collapsing from the wall into a heap.

    But manage to squint with one eye free from the blood.

    Certainly, did it, though.

    Haha... what a foolish tortoise. Have probably killed myself. As grand as the Little Yuuzu is... don't think she can...

    Foolish Kali...

    Stay awake...

    Some regret. Aniki saved, but never got all love. Very sad.

    Even though muchly dry from such fire... still manage tear from bloody face.

    Such foolish.

    Everything goes towards black, then white.

    This being in dead book? Yes... likely so...

    Remembering silly girl times... remembering mother training hard... remembering father's amazing blue glass... remembering foolish scorpions in desert... Yuuzu's prettyness... many fun times... silly Kuro-chan slapped...

    Hope Kuro gets Big Yuuzu in the end.

    Aniki saving Kali...

    Big hand reaching...

    First man kiss... strangely salty...

    ...

    ...

    ...

    But the white suddenly goes... everything... sucks away from me. Can't help but out choke a scream because wanted it go on. Being taken from me?

    Why!?

    But then realising... actually did scream...

    Scream so hard from the pain.

    Kali still lives?

    Foolish tortoise. Cannot even read dead book properly.

    No, maybe still dead.

    After all, light-angel looks like Aniki. Very silly.

    Look very silly for angel. Kali stupid, thinking... not looking very sexy right now.

    But even though everything is ringing and my entire body is smashed, the pain won't let me go.

    Pain...

    Is the big clue that something is keeping me alive?

    Aniki has grey eyes, right? Like smoke. Very handsome. Much deepness. So why are they now red? Like Little Yuuzu. Glowing with Light... like Little Yuuzu. Normally not that blonde either. Is secret Little Yuuzu brother after all? Much silly. Can't be so.

    Strange Angel Aniki kisses me.

    My spine snaps, and makes me cry in pain.

    A sending off kiss? But no. Won't be let go?

    Probably blush like stupid maiden.

    What is going on? Light is around me. Am... being healed?

    The pain is still stupid. I pass out.

    Whatever is going on?
    -------
    Nooo! Kali! Don't sacrifice yourself! You idiot!

    Still, it appears to trigger something very strange in Elijah. I wonder what that's about? ;)
     
  2. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    CHAPTER 116
    TRANSFORMATION


    Whatever is going on?

    I'd like to know myself. Seeing Kali go by, soaring like a meteor. Annihilating the skeleton. And then her tumble.

    Like a train-wreck, crumpling against the wall, her arms and legs all turned at angles beyond normal. Blood everywhere.

    Not like this, I thought.

    Not like this.

    I can't allow that. Killing herself to save me? All because I jumped in like a fool?

    Not like that.

    I couldn't allow it.

    Suddenly, I was strong. I leapt. Possessed with far more strength than usual. A skeleton with two swords tried to get in the way, but I blasted it with electricity, then compelled Kiku's sword into a sudden lance, straight through its eye socket. I left it skewered, and dashed to Kali.

    And as I picked her up, all mangled, burnt, and steaming, light spewed from me.

    And she screamed as a couple of things started to crack back into place.

    I healed her.

    She passed out, but I definitely healed her. I think?

    It all went by so quickly that my thoughts are barely keeping up.

    I look at my hands. They definitely glowed for a moment. I feel for sure... I look weird at the moment.

    It seems, to my awe, I now have my very own Super-S+yan mode? What the hell?

    It feels strangely amazing.

    On the other hand, I am very aware... this has a time limit. Power bulging from me. My spirit is warning me harshly. Telling me to stop.

    I must stop. I try hard to restrain my raging power. I don't know how to do it.

    But, with some difficulty, I manage. I have no idea where the power came from, but I try to think that I need it gone. It is like trying to grapple a shark.

    Things slow down. I take a huge gape of breath and stagger, nearly dropping Kali. My heart beats madly.

    And the intensity about my vision that I didn't even notice until now fades, like turning down the contrast slider on a tv.

    A huge amount of fatigue assails me as I drop to my knees, and I gently lower the girl, who has gotten really heavy due to these damn steel limbs of hers.

    Gods, just that tiny burst has rendered me knackered!

    Did it... help change things? As I continue to breath heavily, and look up and back to see what's going on.

    Kiku and Kaede perform a joint attack against a bow wielding skeleton, carving it from both sides, and then both stabbing it in alternate eye sockets.

    Rishya runs over to me, holding Kali, and picks up where I stopped, also healing her. Kali squeals more as her brows scrunch. I leave her to Rish, who is clearly much faster and better at this than my clumsy heal attempt. She gapes at me for a moment though... before shaking her head.

    Then I see Seria blast the last remaining Knight with something resembling a plasma ball, which makes that skeleton explode in a massive eruption of bones. That's a spell I never saw before.

    Aria, now healed, gets back up, and wastes no time in attempting to charge at the leader skeleton. It throws its hand out and hoses out a rapid blast of fireballs, though, forcing her to dodge.

    It halts her advance, but then, Kiku appears at a dash, fearlessly swinging like a dervish, her blades now sporting that odd shimmer. Repeated 'cling' noises occur as she, one after the other, dispels the fireballs, which literally fizzle into nothingness around her. How valiant!

    Its jaw clatters angrily, and it raises the macabre looking flesh book, a purple magic circle appearing.

    Then Kaede reappears from behind in a sliding grind, snatching the book like a thief, rolling aside with it, slapping it on the ground and stabbing it with a Kunai before it realises.

    The book... apparently... screams.

    Its ear-piercing wail makes everyone cry tears. I get an intense head-ache… though that may well be because I was clearly straining myself just now. How did I heal Kali, albeit briefly?

    But the lord skeleton staggers as its new magic circle shatters, and then, a lightning bolt slams into it, searing its robe black.

    Then Aria pierces it through the heart as it judders from electricity. Unlike usual, it seems that the blue crystal is in the chest.

    It is stabbed by the spear, gushing blue from a fissure. It claws at Aria frantically, scratching her arms.

    She stomps and roars, forcing the spear into the gap, and its ‘heart’ ruptures, splattering everywhere.

    After all that, it’s over.

    I let out a sigh of relief. Yet again, all I can do is hope that what little I did was enough to turn the tide in our favour.

    Aria offers me no respite, though, immediately storming over to me, drenched with sweat, covered in red and blue blood, and chewing her lip, startling the still healing Rish.

    "Onii-chan... what in the name of Sendervil was that?!" She shouts.

    I wish I knew, Aria. My head hurts as I shrug.

    "Don't! Don't ever do that again!" Seria squeals from behind Aria, who is staring at me.

    She runs over and slaps me. Ouch!

    Then Aria, tears in her eyes, appears to follow her, and slaps me back the other way.

    Ow!

    "That! That is not! Not how you use a spirit, boy! Never! Never do that again!" Seria repeats herself, and then, bursts out in blubby tears.

    It was something like that, then?

    Aria appears to also start crying sympathetically, and they both fall on my chest.

    How bizarre I must look, sat on my knees, two young girls in capes crowding me and blubbing.

    I can't help but snivel myself.

    Come to think of it, my spirit has gone very quiet. My blood is still roaring through me.

    I feel very painful all over, I now realise, rather than just in my head...

    It hurts! Oh gods! Ow! Holy!

    I pass out again.
     
  3. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE RS
    DECEPTIVE MAGISTERS


    "Elijah-sama!" I cry, as he falls down, Aria and Seria atop him.

    Fortunately, Kali is all done. She is unconscious, but she is safe. She practically broke every bone in her body, and had intense internal bleeding. I kind of want to bandage her up like a mummy. Maybe later.

    My body aches and I involuntarily blush as I rush over to Elijah. The other two join me, with concerned expressions.

    "What! What happened, yes!?" Kaede exclaims.

    Kiku just chitters furiously in concern, bursting into tears as she literally flash steps up to our man.

    'Can I heal him, Michael?' I think.

    //You... cannot in this case//There is nothing I can do for another spirit...//That is not what Sendervil's light is for//But it appears…//His spirit is very strange//It briefly siphoned my power as well to heal the girl//Crudely used, not effective…//But plausibly saving her life//I wonder if this is a strange function of it being a merged type?//

    I thought so.

    Everyone is panicking, though, so there ~is~ something I can do.

    I raise Michael up, I should be able to...

    "Kouurani Selvestic Tanikost!"

    Heart of Courage. We can do that, right?!

    //We can...//But do not strain me much more...// Michael whines.

    A blood red curtain of light erupts from me, dousing us all. I feel tired, but full of confidence, suddenly, and doubtlessly so do the other girls.

    Seria stops bawling and stands up slowly, snivelling, apparently managing to barely restrain herself with my assist.

    It's impressive how much I've seen her look so undignified in so many ways for the first time, all in the last hour or so.

    The eyes wide, the tongue out, and now, crying like the girl she appears. It’s bad, but it makes me feel better about myself.

    "The boy managed to stop it barely, I think. If he rests... sniff... he will be conscious again soon..." Seria says.

    "But what?" Aria manages, rubbing her eyes.

    "He was... I don’t know where he got it front, but… using too much power... overstrain." Seria notes, rubbing her eyes.

    Yes... basically burning away a spirits’ energy to grant temporary power. It's a thing all mages are taught to avoid, because many spirits have no concept of restraint or self, and will happily vomit up all their power at once, even if it destroys them and their host.

    Everyone looks morose.

    "Like my... like when I..." Aria chews.

    "No... not like the power he granted you. That... I still don't fully understand that... but that seems to be something granted by his Etranger ability." Seria pauses, her brows scrunching.

    "However... it is similar in that it ignores the body's limits."

    "I thought so, Seria-sama." I say.

    Everyone looks at me.

    "When I healed you, Arry, I had to do more than just fix what that demon did to you. Your organs were a mess. You had fractured your fingers from... I guess... applying too much strength." I continue, to my long-time friend.

    Aria grimaces as she looks up at me, unconsciously flexing her hand.

    It’s true. It was by far one of the hardest things I ever did. In fact, reattaching Elijah-sama's hand was actually less intense, overall. Even if that seemed outwardly worse.

    If I didn't do what I did, Aria might have had lung and kidney problems later. Why did that happen? I never knew, but I fixed it, of course.

    People having overstrain... is actually a fairly common thing that Clerics have to deal with, Master taught us. It's the problem with magic. The magic itself does indeed strengthen us, but often it’s also makes us blind and deaf to our real limitations, however heightened they may be.

    In fact, I had to mildly overstrain myself to heal Aria and Elijah-sama that time. Fortunately, Michaels' power could cope, and I had the boost of the ghostfruit liquor.

    Humans are naturally weak and squishy. Even with magic. Even those with proper endurance boosting spirits, like Wood, Earth, and Metal. It's an advantage that demons can boast over us. But even they're quite fragile inside.

    But, in this case, I suspect… perhaps his spirit was also borrowing extra power from me and Seria. Her reserves are likely so vast she didn’t notice, but of course, Michael let me know and I did feel unusually drained. Is it because we all slept together?!?

    Aria sighs again, and stands up.

    "I guess we should wait here. Elijah should wake up. I guess we should be thankful he and Kali's recklessness was able to turn things around." She says.

    "Hmm... speaking of which, where were the two of you, yes?" Kaede asks me and Seria.

    Uh oh. Truth time. Fortunately, we already agreed on a cover story together. My lust is a little embarrassing, after all. I glance briefly at Seria.

    //We are going with that, right?// I ask. I'm used to this telepathic bond schtick now.

    //Indeed// she replies, looking annoyed as she breaks contact.

    "The teleporting creature threw me and Elijah into different isolated parts of the dungeon. Seria came and found us both, though." I explain.

    "The boy had to fight it away when it reappeared. He used your sword Kiku." Seria adds.

    Kiku is stomping around in anger, but stops, looks at Seria smiling at her, and chitters slightly, breaking out in a slight smile.

    "I was stuck next to a weird underground lake. There was no way out even though I looked around for ages. Fortunately... I was safe. I just had to wait." I follow up.

    "I found Rishya first, and then detected the boy. We went there. He was in a cave with flowers, very tired. Then we came back after I had to wait some time to recharge my power. I am sorry I could not get back sooner."

    Flawless! Brilliant! Elijah passing out has done us a favour here. We previously just asked him not to correct us, but there was no guarantee and he can be devastatingly honest... we might still lose it later. But...

    "You are both lying, yes?" Kaede shoots us.

    "Huh?" I blink. "Why d-do think so, Kaede?"

    The ninja girl crosses her arms and squints.

    "You are both extremely clean, you are both walking funny, the Sage is suddenly considerably emotional for Nii-sama, and your story was almost a prepared drama, yes?" She ticks off her fingers. "So... you both had sex with Nii-sama, yes?"

    //I did say this was a foolish idea//

    Shut up Michael!

    I sigh as the other three glare at us. Seria shrugs as I glance.

    I guess we didn't account for this one's obscene perception.

    Well damn... busted...
     
  4. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE KL3
    NOT THE LIGHT YOU’RE LOOKING FOR


    Kali thought saw mother for a moment. Much strangeness. Lovely lady, long red hair in a ponytail. But eyes all wrong, burning like lava.

    Remember the ceremony of the heightening, perhaps? Naked Kali in blessed desert water. Mothers big friend orchestrating, old high priestess. Kali with other girls as we walk through the fires of the earth. Trusting in the sacred water to protect us. Those who panic, who cry out, are not deemed suitable as S'tavi warrior girls. It is the day we prepare for since our birth. Trusting in the faith and friendship of the fire spirits watching.

    Much funnyness, mother watching from stands, biting lip and clutching fathers shoulder. Never seen mother scared before. Guessing is behaviour Kali not understand until mother herself.

    Truthly, Kali quite scared. Exposed to all.

    But warrior girls cannot flinch or know shame. Such is heightening purpose.

    Then, we may start our journey in truthfulness.

    Have come muchly long way, both as a woman, and as a warrior.

    And yet, still a foolish tortoise!

    Hubris ever so dangerous, thinking little body can handle Meenaora's shot-peck! Is one of six ultimate techniques!

    Was hubris? In truth, possibly desperation? Most likely.

    Just foolish maiden after all. Father will laugh now. Kali told him she would never need a man like snotty brothers.

    Strange muchly. Wanted to follow to see if temporary love after all. But clearly not so. Elijah much funniness and bring Kali happy feelings despite his lust. Such stupid maiden!

    Wait, though...

    Elijah! Aniki!

    I suddenly jump up, smashing aside sleep and startling Rish who was watching over me. Seems girls sat having words, but not much care for this.

    Body apparently okay, but nearly fall over anyway. Something creaks in strain and I wobble. Such pain, but not deadly, more likely just fatigue.

    "Kali! You can't jump up like that! You nearly died and broke every bone in your body! You idiot! Sit down!" Rish rebukes me harshly.

    Not seen her angry vicious like this before. Startles me. Big Yuuzu did same though. Is probably a thing with healer beauties.

    Beauties?

    Bad Kuro-chan infected head. Girls not supposed to be called beauties by girls.

    She grabs onto me as I hesitate, and eases me back down before I tumble.

    Certainly, she is of difference. Somehow, she is... more mature and less bratty? Has a real joy in her eyes? Why is...

    Ah. Understanding.

    "Had Aniki's love whilst away? Finally ate sausage properly!?" I grin.

    She splutters and nearly lets me go. I drop into a sitting posture.

    "Why!?!?" She cries, going into a flap.

    All the others laugh. Seri rolls her eyes.

    "See, tis' not just me, yes?" Kaede snickers behind a hand.

    "Yes, yes... Kinah's mercy, the changed Rishya is too damn obvious, now I look closely. We never had a chance... fufufufu..." Seri snickers, swishing back a twintail.

    Mmm... so Seria as well? True enough. She has done the opposite. Subtle glances over to Aniki. Little rounded eyes and girlish motions, more like Ki did after her date. Has somehow become more fluttery and less stoic dignifiedness?

    Is funny seeing changes.

    "Is Aniki... okay?" I ask.

    He is somehow laid across Arry and Ki's laps simultaneously. We are still in the old room.

    I stand up again, more slowly this time.

    "You weirdo, Kali. Normally someone would be stuck in bed for a week after that. Don't push yourself so much!" Rishya growls.

    "Truthfully, body good, Rish." I nod, flexing my arms and stretching my legs.

    Not lying. Not sure about too much fighting right now... but reasonable fitness still.

    "Um... he strained his spirit to save you, Kali." Ki gives me a bit of stinkeye.

    I look a bit sorry. Yes. Was foolish tortoise.

    "Sorrys. Limit too low to do silly attack. But out of options. Much apologies!" I bow my head.

    "Ah... um... no... its fine." She looks startled at my head bowing. "I... um... I couldn't make it! Shit! Fuck! I'm just angry at myself, Kali! It's... not your fault! Hezety's fat ass! It's not you. I... thanks for saving him..." she squirms.

    "We decided on a forgive and forget policy, did we not?" Arry smiles sweetly. "It's just onii-chan's fault for being a dumbass lolicon pervert as usual!! What an asshat!"

    We all giggle. Even Kae-chan! She's a bit odd now as well.

    Suddenly, it is subtle, but we are interrupted by the distant clash of steel and the din of angry combat. Someone not us, fighting?

    We all look up.

    "Um... Is that... the S-ranks?" Ki looks startled.

    "Maybe." Aria nods. "Do you think this place meets up with one of the other directions?"

    "Mmm... this dungeon does seem to favour that kind of eventual looping, does it not?" Seri agrees.

    "We should see if they need help, yes?" Kae adds.

    "Hmmph... probably not. But we should try to meet up again if they're here. We're all fairly exhausted, right?" Rish confirms.

    "Idea muchly good." I agree. "Kali not good much for fights at moment... mmm... should I carry Aniki?"

    "Really? Are you sure that's a good idea!? Rish?!" Aria exclaims.

    Rishya rubs her face.

    "Absolutely not a good idea... normally... but this girl is freaking strange!" She grimaces and snorts.

    I grin back at her, flexing my arms, and she sighs.

    "Probably fighting not good... but can do this muchly at least.

    "Hmm... if you say so." Aria says, blinking.

    I crouch down, and pick up Aniki.

    It does feel a bit like he's heavy... am quite weak right now... but I got to get used to it. One day, I will have him atop me and carry him to see mother!

    One day soon!
     
  5. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE F
    A CASTLE OF BONES


    I finally use the gap it presents, and thrust my sabre into the chest. It squirms, trying to escape, but I shall not let it. It kicks at my legs, clanging off my chainmail, but I grasp my blades hilt in both hands, and apply all of my strength.

    It slams into the ground, and for just a moment, the jaw clatters open, pleading, before I crush it under my plated boot.

    Pleading? Yes... it's funny. But even skeletons plead before they die. When you kill enough, you grow to recognise the signs.

    I'm not sure if the others realise, but I'm not in a rush to disturb the young ones with pointless observations like this.

    The blue crystal explodes, finally.

    I look up to monitor the lich lord. It is thrashing now, riddled with Darion's best arrows hanging from its tattered robe and disabling its book of wind magic, and caught in a hardening grasp of boiling liquid metal. Esraye, of course, who is currently like a female metal golem.

    It's a good job we left Jeanette behind. A wind caster lich would have made her angry.

    There is certainly something very suspicious happening here. A whole horde of undead, with two liches here. Teleporting Dustils. Velopers. Almost full to bursting with all kinds of Void creature.

    And I believe this monument that has appeared has something to do with it. It was a very tough fight here, almost as though we were having to assault a fortress by ourselves. The skeleton archers used the high ground to their advantage, and the lord used a raised platform to bombard us with Wind. Dangerous, even to me. It has sheared part of my shield clean off, and my left leg is bleeding, I'm fairly sure.

    Yes... the void is actively resisting.

    I have no real sense for magic like my beloved, but there us surely an ominous sense of wrongness to this place that gives me the shivers.

    Still, we managed.

    It was a lightning fast raid, as always. Breaking out of ambushes like this is our specialty. But we're feeling serious fatigue from this one. We will likely have to retreat shortly. I hope we can.

    Esraye clanks over to Darion and becomes flesh again. They are momentarily affectionate, which is unusual, and symptomatic of how difficult a fight this was.

    I give them a moment, dislodging my sword from the ribcage, and flicking off the blue voidplasm as best I can.

    "We are done, Ser." Esraye comes up to me.

    She is supporting Darion, who I only now notice has a bleeding forehead and flank.

    Esraye herself is hobbling slightly, and one of her fingers is crooked at a strange angle.

    None of us got out of this one unscathed, it seems.

    "Good job." I say, nodding.

    They exhale in relief.

    "Uncle, why were they fighting with such fury?"

    I get an eye twitch at hearing 'uncle' from him again. Darion sounds scared and has regressed a bit to his older child-like self, it seems.

    Though I guess he's my brother-in-law these days. And he is my son. I consider him that, for sure, despite everything. Ferlin would still be proud to see his boy become so strong. Even the grating personality is the same.

    I supress a chuckle.

    "I honestly don't know, Darion. I expect, though... it is this thing?" I look at the strange monument.

    This whole ruin somehow recalls its heritage, built by the Syjillian empire after a great battle, where the empire's soldiers were massacred by rebels. Even as it changes itself, it never forgets key elements of its original architectural style, even though the Empire is long gone.

    Understandably, this monument recalls a centrepoint, something often built in the market or royal squares in most Syjillan cities and towns. Said to be guidance, a waypoint, for the emperor. There is still one in Jeraldine's capital, black stone that is nearly impossible to destroy. Enshrining an earth and metal spirit tends to do that.

    "I don't get it. But this gives me the creeps, uncle." Darion shivers.

    Esraye hugs him, and glares at the stone. She rubs her head as her eyes glow slightly.

    "It is certainly pooling a strange energy, Ser. It is practically bleeding power. But there is no spirit there. It is bizarre. And the flowers around the base are quite peculiar."

    Hmm... so it is mysterious for sure, then. We will need to bring some scholar mages back here to observe it, no doubt.

    There is an echoing clatter of several feet from one of the side corridors. Certainly, human feet. The others, it seems have also managed to come this way.

    Well, it is not surprising. Everything always loops up in the end with this place. I hope they did well also.

    Suddenly, the entire hall rumbles.

    A quake?

    Darion and Esraye leap back into stances. I have trained them well. I drop my now rather useless shield and take my blade up with both gauntlets, ignoring the pain from my arms with a grunt.

    The centrepoint starts to grow further, ripping from the ground, as the Syjillian text on the stone glows an eerie dark blue.

    Even I realise it is about to do something, and that whatever it is… it not likely to be to our benefit.

    What is it doing? What will come now?
     
  6. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE Y2
    LIGHT AND SHADOW


    Holy moly! Oh my gods! Mighty Sendervil save me!

    What...

    What have I done!?

    I can't help but peek through my fingers as my head throbs.

    Doubtlessly, I am naked.

    Undeniably, I am in a large bed.

    Invariably, there is also a naked sleeping Kurono and Alicia here as well, looking content.

    My hair is down, and I feel very relaxed myself, besides the rising panic flooding my head.

    I should know better than this!

    Di... did I finally cave to Kurono's advances whilst I was drunk!?

    Gaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!

    I even got the new girl involved!? Or did Kurono also?!

    I want to headbutt the wall repeatedly until it bleeds. That would be the most sensible.

    I do it quietly.

    I only manage three smacks, but it hurts.

    Unfortunately, it only serves to uncloud the memories.

    I thought...

    Nope. It was actually me all along.

    We did a quick escort job for a noble together. We got along very well, this reformed party of mine. The new girl reminds me of Rishya's friend... the green haired one, fighting with two swords. Big ones. And I guess I should have known from someone Kurono recommended, Alicia was a serious beauty. Another A rank. White hair with black streaks, tall, toned, and well-developed in....

    Gaahhh!

    I was feeling ever so lonely. Rishya was all growing up, finding a man to love, getting mature all of a sudden, having responsibilities, not just wasting time with Aria, but resolved properly to protect her.

    I don't know what she saw in that guy. He seemed flaky to me. But then again, I've had so many marriage interviews that maybe I came to see all men like that?

    I considered guiding her away from that path, highlighting to her about how horrible and sneaky men could be. But I realised she really did like him, and me doing that would just be cruel, selfish, and conniving. And maybe dangerous, with her powerful Light spirit.

    I was already a tremendously selfish girl. Grandfather and uncle Douglas ended up agreeing to my whims to become a mercenary.

    They didn't have to agree. But they did. I guess they thought it was a phase and I would come crying back to them. But I didn't.

    Now... they've even given up on me, right? Since I had such a difficult phase, they even gave away my engagement gift.

    It's not their fault I was forced to look at men. It's just normal. But I had tantrum after tantrum until I got what I wanted.

    And then... Kuro... I met her, and Kali, and Kuro, she told me... always whispering in my ear, that I could love women as well...

    It was wrong, though! I thought that at the time. But a curious part of me was, I guess, always there.

    I refused her for so long. Kali doing it as well helped, I think.

    Part of me thought that perhaps, eventually, I could meet a dashing scoundrel mercenary, someone like a thief type, a kind gentleman, sweet and funny and not just looking at me like a potential heir creator.

    I held onto that hope.

    But... that man never existed. Some male mercenaries set my heart racing a little bit.

    That older knight captain. He had a woman, though, and was devoted to her.

    That Earth Mage. But he was a bigot.

    That dark and edgy swordsmaster. But he was into other men.

    I thought perhaps, it was truly just a matter of time.

    But I'm nearly nineteen, and it hasn't happened. Rish is thirteen and already in love. And there was someone in front of me.

    What a fool.

    The alcohol, and the joy of our new cohesion and rank and everything. It just broke the last resistance tonight. And I caved.

    In a spectacular fashion. I let Kuro teach me really embarrassing things. I never felt anything like this before.

    Frankly, it was amazing.

    I guess Kuro was already with Alicia as well at some point. She agreed straight away! What the hells!?

    And yet, I also find her attractive.

    I truly have become a deranged woman.

    Doubtlessly mother and aunt Rhiannon are squirming in their graves right now. I am truly sorry I couldn't become a bastion of elegance to stand next to a gentleman. I hated court. Healing and protecting and helping people out were the only things that truly brought me joy. Taking care of little Rish.

    She's becoming a woman soon, no doubt. But what am I?

    What will I become?

    It's ironic. I'm still stood elegantly next to another noble after all. A countess, even, when I'm technically a duchess if I wanted to be.

    A female harem member!? Kuro is clearly a deft touch. She's done this before. She targeted me and now I'm her greatest conquest, eh?

    But.

    For some reason.

    I'm okay with that.

    I truly have become a deranged woman. I smile wryly to myself.

    Suddenly, Kurono jumps awake. I blush involuntarily as the sheets fall off her.

    Then, out of no-where, she wails, her eyes suddenly gushing with tears.

    I want to hug her, so I do. Why is she so emotional?! Is it me!? Was it a nightmare!?

    "There, there, Kuro..." I say. "What's wrong?"

    She cries into my breasts. I feel good about this. What a nutter I've become.

    "T-the void!" She cries. "It's... hurting so much! It was torn! Blown open!"

    Innuendo!?

    Ngh... no... she's not this time... she's really truly horrified in this case. Her magic power is fluctuating wildly as well...

    The void is broken? What does that mean?

    Somehow, though, I get the feeling its ominous...
     
  7. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE C5
    THE DARK DOOR OPENS


    "Absolutely flawless, if I may so myself."

    "Quite so, mi'lord. It was a spectacular display indeed. I wish them great success!"

    The demons all shimmer for a while, and are sent on their way. The crystals are all consumed, of course, and I feel extremely fatigued, but that is hardly surprising.

    I raise my arms to the crowd of other demons lurking at the threshold, come to see what was going on, and they roar in happiness.

    It is ironic, I used the human's own architecture against them. They did, at one point, enjoy constructing these odd monuments with spirits enshrined there. That served as the perfect anchor for the transportation!

    It may have killed the spirits, of course. They are now void ones for sure. This is not a practice I enjoy or encourage per se, but needs must.

    There is one thing else I must do. Even demons must be guarded from the void along the way. I'm tired, but it is my responsibility to act as their wayfarer, lest they be lost.

    I focus on the tunnel I have bored through the etheric plane, blocking out outside influence. The route is somewhat erratic, for sure. I borrowed some actual ley-lines that already existed in places. That was needed to make the costs reasonable. I followed the previous tunnel I made to the south-east, to the dungeon near Hal-Castemour. Re-made and reinforced it. My first attempt there was shoddy, and I was barely able to force power enough through to create the Skull Beast. This time, it had to be much stronger, to carry the physical forms of my people unhindered, and it had to proceed from there to their capital.

    I ferry and protect them all the way, batting aside the muttering of the malicious spirits of that side, all the way.

    I wonder how that feels to them? Can they feel it at all? I guess perhaps the stronger mages may understand.

    Space and terrain has no meaning on that side.

    There is, I suppose, terrain of sorts. I have stood there a few times, to speak with my own spirit for advice. There is a sort of dream state one can achieve for that purpose.

    This terrain is constantly shifting, though. It is like standing on semi-solid nothingness, void spirits trying to mimic what they once did in their old forms. And failing. Earth made of bones, water made of blood. Sky a choked darkness, barely breathable, a mockery, ridiculing the light.

    The first sages leylines endure there, though. Crisscrossing the void like the shining webs of the Deathblood Spider. I do not know just how they were made. Live spirits run along them, like children, and the void ones watch them from afar, in envy and in confusion.

    And yet, I have managed to mimic that greatness!

    The void spirits are all too glad to be able to do something they could not previously do. I suppose, perhaps, it makes them feel special?

    Whatever the case, I didn't need to worry much. The demons are my subordinates, and so are the void spirits.

    They mostly ignore the package I am sending through. Such a smooth transition!

    I envy them, to a degree. That side is normally a horrifying place to me. Sages, even I, can leygate along the lines, but the incessant moaning and whispering of other spirits is maddening. It feels like they want you to be lost there, to play with them, but at the same time, they clearly despise me the moment I realise I am a Void sage. So, it goes from mindless playfulness to wicked malice in an instant.

    Horrifying, like I said.

    The passage is fantastic here, though. The void spirits are highly obedient to me, after all.

    They arrive, and with reluctance, I let them out the other side.

    I cannot help them now, except offering my prayers to Agon to bless them with his might and furious devastation.

    At least, the chaos should be worthwhile. Perhaps it will even be a step towards ending the war. We must hope so. Our morale is high, but our economy is buckling. We cannot sustain such a protracted war.

    I sigh, and come out of my trance. It is done.

    "Mi'lord... is that... normal?" I suddenly hear Raum say.

    He is squinting at the square.

    There is mild rumble beneath my feet, I realise.

    The statue of the great emperor Garm'Labrys, Kerkyon's ancestor, actually rises upwards by a few feet.

    Earthquakes are rare in our land. One of its few blessings. Whatever is...

    I strain my senses. Yes... beneath the base, where Raum is looking. A sheet of black and purple fluctuating energy, like a doorway into the statues base.

    It emits a shockwave of void energy all of a sudden!

    I throw up a protective barrier to protect the crowd and myself, absorbing the power into my spirit.

    Unfortunately, that is not helpful to Marchosias'Slein, who is gawping and stood next to the phenomenon after making the circles before. He literally turns to dust and explodes in the wind.

    At least he is the only casualty. That old snakes’ loss will be mourned, though.

    I scan the 'door'. Those strange glowing flowers that produce the crystals as their seeds grow out of cracks in the cobblestone near it, growing psychotically fast and then dying, feeding more of them. I shield my eyes, as the Magic power concentration there is extraordinary, but it soon dissipates into the starved air around us and settles.

    I look again and blink. It is now a lovely field of fertile green grass, and glowing flowers, interestingly landmarked by Marchosias' old staff, which has become a slender Loanoak tree. The whole place is teeming with happy but demented Wood spirits, more than I've ever seen in our lands before.

    That...

    Oh my... the passage... it is permanent?! I have created a full tap into the ether on the other side!?

    I grin.

    This changes everything!
     
  8. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE AA3
    FEARSOME FEVER


    We run in, and everything starts to rumble, nearly knocking us off our feet.

    I feel like my entire body itches all once, like when Elijah gets his so-called 'level-up'.

    But somehow, far more terrible than that. Painful itching, like all of me was burnt with terrible burns.

    It hurts.

    I can't help but drop to my knees.

    "Nooooo!" Rishya squeals next to me, clutching her head. Blood runs from her eyes and she screams. Rish!

    Seria also cries out, blood running from her nose suddenly.

    She locks her jaw in a grimace, and somehow concentrates enough to cast something. I nearly black-out, but just in time, a web of zapping electricity comes into being around us.

    The pain eases for me.

    Bizarrely, Kiku, Kaede, and Kali are just looking at us with a mild sense of discomfort as we three writhe around.

    I realise now that the darker skinned mercenary girl, Esraye, is also squealing in a similar fashion to us, her lover grasping her in concern as she fluctuates into a metal like statue and nearly crushes him.

    So those with magic power, then?

    I should be glad Onii-chan is asleep and I wasn't carrying him.

    I roll prone, my spear clanging from my grasp.

    Even more worryingly, though, as the pain goes away, it is replaced with a terrible fever I feel in the back of my mind.

    Lustful fever. Raging hormones. Like when I was having him inside me towards the end.

    It’s terrible. I want to have sex right this second, and it makes me squirm.

    What an idiot!

    I rebuke myself, and gradually pull myself under control, though I still sweat profusely.

    Eventually, breathing heavy hot mist, I recall various martial mind exercises, and they help me focus.

    But right now, I probably seem like a right creepy pervert, eyes swimming, breath hot.

    That was terrible.

    Suddenly, Rishya attacks me, and kisses me with her tongue.

    What the hell!?

    I throw her off. She calms down after that.

    Right... doubtlessly she suffered like I did. I guess I'll forgive her this time. It's not like it was my first kiss or anything.

    Seria has taken on a foetal posture, electricity zapping over her body and seemingly shocking her. She is... discharging?

    Then she sighs and stands up. I also manage to sit up, just about. Rish is still feverish on the floor next to me, but her glassy gaze has gone, at least.

    "What... what the hell was that?!" I exclaim.

    "I... I have no idea..." Seria sighs.

    I look around.

    Esraye has pinned down her lover and us rubbing herself up against him bizarrely. He is passed out.

    Fortinbras has raised an eyebrow watching this, his sword slack at his side. He clears his throat, shakes his head, sheathes his blade, and pointedly ignores them, coming over to us in a strange hurry.

    "I... I'm guessing the magic did... something..." He squints, looking at the girls who are still breathing hard.

    "You state the obvious, boy." Seria growls.

    "I... I apologise." He dips his head, looking flummoxed. It is rather unusual for him, it seems, but he appears rattled. Weird.

    Esraye lets go of the swirly-eyed and passed out Darion.

    "Disappointing, love." She growls. Then she shakes her head. "No. Something wrong with me." She follows up, picking herself off him, and looking embarrassed as she puts her big chest away again, which had spilled out of her low-cut top whilst she was writhing and kissing.

    Kaede suddenly giggles to herself behind a hand. Everyone looks at her. That's a weird thing as well.

    I suppose everything about this situation is weird.

    I pick up my spear and pull myself up. Gods, my legs are so weak!

    "All of us with magic power, suffered from exceptional pain, and then lust." I explain to the others.

    "Um... are you okay? W-why would the dungeon do that!?" Kiku exclaims.

    "Not the dungeon... Kiku..." Rishya mutters.

    "No, this monument... it is connected almost directly to the leylines. That is strange to begin with. The ether is basically seeping across. Something very wrong has happened on the other side." Seria adds, glaring.

    "Is this perhaps how that Skull Beast was made here, then?" I query.

    Seria gives me a sharp look, opens her mouth briefly, and then rubs her forehead.

    "Yes... that is... plausible. Originally, I assumed it was natural. That does sometimes occur. The void energy was thick when we first came, if you recall. But..."

    "But, natural formations, only once a century. Already happened... two years. We beat it." Esraye suggests.

    "It was not created here. It was sent here. That is all that makes sense. It is what we were meant to investigate." Fortinbras nods.

    "Cultivator, yes?" Kaede blinks.

    Seria growls.

    "Normally I would not believe it. Even if Leygating is a specialty of a Void Sage... something of that size... being forced through the narrowing leylines... he has something helping, for sure."

    She jumps and clicks her fingers.

    "These damn flowers!" She shouts.

    Almost on cue, two more flowers suddenly bloom out of nowhere in a crack of the column. One flower here, which is especially giant and fat, suddenly collapses from its own weight and literally shatters into dust with a bang noise.

    No... not completely dust.

    Two small glowing crystal seeds roll from where it was.

    Rish opens her bag suddenly as Seria looks at her, and gapes. She gulps, and pulls out a similar looking seed-crystal.

    Seria sighs as walks over, plucks it from Rishya's grasp, and glares at it.

    Even though I'm dumb, I think I understand vaguely. They probably once had a flower in there.

    "So, these things are bad? What should we do?" I ask.

    "I... I don't honestly know." She looks back and forth, tapping her head. "Right... The lessening power from the ether, the plausible death of spirits as mages use them, these... void flowers which appear to crystallise power and emit it in ways that send those with spirits somewhat mad. There is... some connection between all of this." She paces around in circles, her twin-tails whipping around from her anxious movement.

    "Graahhh! My old study barely scratched the surface! It just highlights my... no... all of human sages’ ignorance on this matter. But I think... I think Cultivator knows. And that... that is surely bad." She looks at us all with haunted eyes, twirling her hair in a strangely scared and girlish gesture.

    It's ominous, for sure. We all give various expressions of fear and confusion.

    Suddenly, Elijah groans in Kali's grasp. She sets him down gently.

    He's waking up!
     
  9. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE M2
    WHAT IS A LEADER?


    "Your majesty, I am aware that you do not enjoy things like this, but if you can show yourself more and wave, it will be more effective."

    I sigh at Kako using this logic. It's a rare case when it comes to noble things, but when it happens, she is invariably right. Her nagging makes me forlorn, as it recalls Cadence.

    I stand up, masking the sigh and putting on my best smile. My legs complain furiously.

    The crowd bursts out in cheers, of course. I suppose it is needed, as we are now looping back towards the palace, and we are about to reach the market.

    Doing a military parade with me at the head to show the people I am awake and well was a grand idea of father's to be sure. It is the kind of thing that the people certainly need right now. They are not quite taken with melancholy quite yet, but the news of our defeats on the frontlines must be reaching their ears by now. We cannot, and should not suppress such news, as terrible as it is.

    Doing so will only reduce everyone's confidence further as traders and the like spill the truth. Our information control and spy corps can only do so much. Bad news is like the ocean waves. Any crack at all, it will seep through.

    I should enjoy myself. Even though I prefer my sums and books, even I cannot deny I have a certain strange fondness for this city. Like people in general, it is ugly and beautiful in equal measure, and that in its itself has always been fascinating to me.

    This dress actually almost fits me perfectly for once, anyway. Being in a coma is a miracle dieting plan, after all. I say almost, because keeping my chest restrained always a chore for me, of course.

    I don't really pay much attention to the crowd. I try to let my gaze meet people’s eyes, though. Their murmurs are pretty much as expected. 'She so beautiful/glorious/angelic' is everywhere. It is tempered with expressions of worry for loved ones in the war, and people cursing at this needless splendour. You can't please them all, but overall, the positive is drowning out the negative. So, I guess it’s having the desired effect.

    And then... a sharp pain soars up my body. I gasp and only my extensive royal training keeps me standing.

    Kako also growls next to me. A few people in the crowd also scream and fall over.

    A panic starts to occur. Who wouldn't panic when people start to randomly cry out and fall over?

    What in the heck is...

    My legs again!? No. This is... my spirit!

    I feel sick in my stomach. I want to vomit.

    Suddenly, the noise of a massive explosion erupts about a mile in front of us.

    The central market!

    A massive pillar of bright magenta energy shoots to the sky. It is accompanied by a few dozen burning bodies flung upwards by some terrible force.

    One of those lands next the procession with a sickening thud.

    I believe it was once a little boy.

    The panic instantly takes over despite the best efforts of the guards in the crowd.

    Kako looks briefly at me and even though my mind is a mess right now, I understand her intent and nod.

    She leaps off.

    "Marten, Aron, Gerard, Alison, Vicks, Wedge, Yasmine, Couronne! With me!" She shouts, going full commander-mode and drawing a greatsword.

    "Others, stay with the Princess!" She roars.

    She's trained them well, though. The men and women of the royal guard snap out of their confusion, and instantly follow the orders, eight following her as she rushes towards the roaring purple fire, and four taking up positions around my open-air carriage like clockwork.

    The other non-royal guardsmen in the parade also suddenly get organised by their sergeants and attempt to organise the panic into a retreat rather than a stampede. They are only mildly successful, but it is something.

    I am still bewildered. Of all things, I suddenly feel horny. Like I wouldn't mind one of these guards going above and beyond the...

    That's just bizarre. Interest in men? Me? What a joke.

    I suppress it.

    What is going on with the magic here!? It is clearly that.

    Could this be an attack? A long-range siege spell? How have the demons done something like that?!? It doesn't make sense.

    I rally my thoughts. What should I do?

    Most of the crowd has dispersed now, though they have left a mess and a half behind.

    I am worried about Kako for some reason. She is ludicrously strong but...

    I should help. I'm a terrible princess. It’s the least I should do, even if I just sit around and look pretty and throw out healing to people. Water mages can sooth wounds and aid in afflictions, just not the same level as light mages, so at the very least, I shouldn’t be a burden.

    I ignore complaints from my body, and jump off the carriage.

    I land somewhat awkwardly. Stupid tassels. I bend and tear the dress all the way up my legs, exposing the lacey knee-socks. But indecent exposure is the least of my worries now.

    "Your majesty!" The guard next to me exclaims as they dash up to me in a protective formation once more.

    "Don't you want to help out Ser Arnas!?" I exclaim.

    Their eyes shift. I knew it.

    "But it is our duty to protect you!" The lead one exclaims.

    I grin.

    "Then protect me, man. I am going that way!" I shout.

    "I..." He looks to the others.

    I turn aside, awaiting their response to my selfish request. The lead guard sighs, but then...

    "Yes, your majesty! Form up around the princess! We go to Ser Arnas!"

    They all roar in approval.

    I nod and start to run, and they assemble a diamond around me, helping push aside fleeing civilians.

    Let's hope I can do something to help the people like Aria and Cadence.

    This time, I won't let grief and indecision plague me.

    I'll help!
     
  10. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    CHAPTER 117
    EXPLOSIVE RECOVERY


    "N>45+3/-... ! 43 f1/>3."

    I suddenly awaken. It feels like I was dreaming of something. But not a good dream? I have a cold sweat for sure, and an ominous shiver. It's unusual for me to not remember anything of a dream like this... but perhaps I didn't want to, this time?

    I squint against the bright blue light. I feel as blind as a new-born kitten.

    I still feel rather tired, and almost like a whole load of my nerves is firing off strangely.

    Right.

    I suffered from some serious agony because I went into some kind of crazy overcharge mode with my spirit.

    Seria slapped me for it, and I got the impression that I shouldn't have done it when I did it. My spirit could have died, and I guess, now that it (they?) are part of me, it would be like losing an important organ, a kidney or my lungs or something.

    I apologise inwardly to myself. I wonder if it can be heard?

    I think it may well be. I mean, Rishya speaks to Michael. So perhaps, insane as it seems, I should follow her example. I've always had a bit of a problem with talking to myself inadvertently, so whatever...

    I finally start to regain my sight and feeling. My ears pop.

    It's painful when most of your senses all start working at once.

    An iron taste of blood.

    A strange thrumming noise in background with girls talking.

    A musty smell of mildew offset with a feminine fragrance.

    A soft feeling on the back of my head. Thighs!

    Yes, Kali is looking down at me.

    "Aniki!" She shouts. "Can you hearing!?"

    Like a radio tuning in, her voice screeches briefly as my ears pop again.

    "Ow! Yes... ugh... so loud, Kali..."

    I clutch my head at the sudden amplified noise.

    She grins at me, and suddenly all the others rush around my vision and crowd me.

    Seria has tears in her eyes and grabs on to me. That's pretty weird. And ow! She is squeezing my shoulders and shaking me.

    "Idiot boy! Gods damn it! I thought you had gone deaf, blind and dumb! Wake up faster, you imbecile!"

    The others laugh nervously as I reluctantly pull myself up.

    "Ugh... It feels like I was run over by a bus." I moan, stretching my sore everything.

    I'm surprised to see that I'm a totally different place. The girls are all accounted for and unharmed though. And surprisingly, those S-rank mercenaries are here. Well... they're missing the slender blonde beauty. She must be off somewhere.

    I hug the crowd and hand out assuring head pats, calming the girls down.

    I then see something that scares me for some reason.

    This... monolith here, that is providing the blue light.

    Why does this scare me?

    I don't know, but it made me jump, for sure.

    "So even you can feel it, huh?" Aria says, wandering up closer to me.

    "I... don't know why... but it feels very wrong."

    "All of us with spirits feel the same way, Elijah-sama." Rishya puts her hand on Aria's shoulder and smiles sweetly at me.

    "Um... I don't get it, but I think this thing made the Skull Beast?" Kiku says from behind.

    "Mmmm, I am starting to believe the idea that it does not make things. But it surely draws them from somewhere." Seria snivels and pulls herself together as she goes up and places a hand on it, shivering.

    "We have tried a few means to damage it, but it seems rather impregnable, yes?" Kaede adds.

    "These monuments were very common back during the empire. Most places had one, and I believe they are supposed to enshrine Earth and Metal spirits, leading to exceptional durability." That knight explains.

    "Yet, we certainly feel an urge to destroy it. It is evil. I don't know why..." Aria puts a hand to her eyes.

    I look more properly at it. It gives me a shiver trying to focus on it, as if my body is rebuking me. No, my spirit is rebuking me. I realise that now.

    It has a several bouquets worth of those strange flowers growing at its base and from a few of its cracks as well. Despite the unpleasant feeling, it is surprisingly beautiful in its own way, black stone with glowing blue text. Imposing. Ominous.

    It gives me constant shivers.

    Right... this is the feeling of waves of magic power. It was like this when I grasped Michael that one time.

    So, it is… emitting power.

    "Must construct additional pylons!" I mutter, having a snicker to myself.

    The girls give me an odd look.

    Well, I guess it’s as good a time as ever to try out my personal demolish button. I too think it's not right, for sure.

    "Rishya, do you have the big explosive?" I ask.

    She looks startled for a second, then does an 'oh!', clapping her hands.

    She pulls out the HDX tube with the copper wire attached.

    "Yes, that." I say, smiling as I take it off her hands. She blushes and squirms.

    "We should try this bomb." I exclaim. The girls and the mercenaries all go wide eyed.

    I walk up to it. There is a wonderful fissure in the base that will work perfectly. I wrench out the flower growing there, and wedge the HDX inside, detonator outwards.

    I unwind the coil as I move away.

    "Everyone, get the hell away from this. It will explode." I state, matter of factly.

    The mercenaries especially look confused, having not seen my vials in action, but the girls nod without complaint and move away, so they follow.

    The wire makes it all the way to one off the offshoot archways, by a nice cornered corridor leading out the large chamber, fortunately. Perfect to batter down the hatches.

    What will happen? Will it be destroyed? Let’s hope so.

    Making sure everyone is behind cover, I think of electricity, and of it zapping down the wire.

    Detonation occurs.

    KRAAAKOOOOMMMM!!

    Woah.

    Even though I knew what was coming, I don't think I could have anticipated the light. And the noise. The tremors. The dust. The heat. And the ramming pressure change that rips the air from your lungs.

    The fireball causes all of us to drop to the deck as its flames lick desperately close to the archway we are all clustered behind.

    Incredible.

    A certain chuuni sorceress would crying in glee right now.

    That. That, my friends, was an explosion!
     
  11. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    CHAPTER 118
    INTO NOTHING


    "Um... I'm starting to really understand what you said a while ago, Nii... about there being stronger explosives..."

    Kiku comments, still gulping and looking shocked. I pat her head.

    "And doubtless, the boy will stipulate this is quite a weak one as well, fufufufu..." Seria cackles.

    "Hmm... I'd say that one was moderately strong, to be honest, master. It had a much better output than I first thought. It's high power for what infantry would use. Anything bigger would need me to make alot more things, I think."

    The mercenaries are still slack jawed; and coughing in the case of Fortinbras. Esraye carried her man over, as he was still unconscious for some reason.

    "That is... Etranger power? Scary. Would even melt metal form, likely. Scary..." Esraye comments.

    "Yep, onii-chan is scary, sometimes." Aria shivers.

    "But doesn't that part of Elijah-sama make you shiver in a good way, Aria? Hehehe..." Rishya giggles.

    "Much power does makes all girl weak in knees!" Kali exclaims, grinning.

    Aria gives them two the stink-eye but for some reason doesn't refute them. I guess it is a universal truth... I'm glad to have the chance to become stronger than my old self, for sure, especially with the current result!

    "But did it work, yes?" Kaede queries.

    We still can't see for sure, with all the flickering patches of white flame and hovering smoke.

    "Whatwhatwhatthehellwasthatwhatwhatforteee!!!!" Is suddenly heard from behind us.

    I turn to see that blonde mercenary girl from before literally comes soaring out the darkness like a flying super-heroine.

    She impacts Fortinbras in a high speed glomp. It's a good job he's so armoured, else he would have been sent flying himself.

    All of us manage a nervous laugh.

    She is removed from him using his rather prodigious strength.

    "Jeanette. I am fine. More importantly... you have left your post!" He rebukes her.

    He has a stony gaze. Brutal. She looks teary eyed.

    "Ah... I... I'm sorry..." she hiccups.

    "Hah... It cannot be helped in this case..." He relents, and then coughs from the smoke a bit. I think he got the worst of that. We're all sneezing and coughing a bit, though.

    Suddenly, she goes 'ah!', clicks her fingers, and a magic circle appears.

    Briefly it feels like the entire place turns into a wind-tunnel.

    The smoke is all carried away rapidly, though it makes us all close our eyes from the winds intensity.

    Well... it worked... I think.

    The column has been vaporised for the most part. Small parts of black stone still litter the ground, but mostly speaking it's entirely gone.

    But queerly, the old base is flickering with a mixture of both white fire from the explosion, and purple necrofire.

    There was necrofire in the room before, of course, but it seems that it has now all amalgamated in the centre.

    The purple pyre grows rather rapidly, engulfing the white flames. It's hard for me to tell with my rudimentary magic sense, but I think... it is sucking in power.

    "That... that's not a good thing, is it?" I say.

    "No shit, boy. We should retr..." Seria begins to remark, but then...

    A deafening crack noise that makes my ears squeal in displeasure resounds.

    It... it's like a hugely amplified version of the noise you get when Rishya stores things...

    My impromptu hypothesis is rapidly confirmed, as I am basically grabbed off my feet.

    I can't help but let out a scream, and so do the girls, as we are all ripped upwards and go spiralling towards where the column once was.

    The centre, before I impact it, turns into a swirling black vortex of nothingness.

    I vomit as it feels like everything in my body is run over, and I'm getting ironed out and stretched.

    It can't see myself. Everything goes dark.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    Yes…

    He is here.

    We have waited.

    You are the most like us.

    You will come.

    You will dwell.

    We shall play.

    It shall be of much fun.

    We have never had fun.

    Even though we play.

    We have forgotten.



    Ah... the spirits... this is... this is the void, isn't it?

    I am in it, and this time, no-one has my hand.

    I start to forget. Everything fades rapidly from my head. The girls. My mission. My joy and my job.

    Everything fades.

    ...

    ...

    ...

    What? What was I? Huh...

    What was I doing?

    Well. It can't have been important.

    Oh... playing, you say?

    Yes.

    Quite.

    You want to play?

    Hmm... part of me...

    Why do I...

    Hah.

    Playing?

    Sure.

    Sounds good.

    I want to play with you. I know lots of games.

    I know... lots of...?

    Do I? Did I play games?

    What are games?

    Actually...

    Who am I?

    ...

    ...

    "Noooooooooooooo!"

    An ear-piercing shriek resounds.

    "You! You cannot have him! He is mine!"

    What?

    Suddenly, the nothingness in my vision coalesces into a bizarre landscape of... something... green and black and purple...

    "Mine!!!!!!! Not yours!!!!!!!"

    I judder and shock. Lightning and liquid metal swirls around me. I feel sick in my stomach. But suddenly, it feels as though my mind returns along with sense of self.

    I get a massive feeling of anger and disappointment. Who dares stop me from playing!

    What?

    Why did I want to play again?

    "Massssteeerrr!!!"

    Suddenly, a young girl appears out of nowhere. She has grey skin, mismatched red and blue eyes, ornate wings, is wearing a strange metal dress, and has long spiky blue-white hair that runs with electricity.

    She grabs hold of me in a hug and feels very warm.

    I see. I understand instinctively that this girl is a relative. No... not a relative, but...

    "You... you saved me, right? You're my spirit, aren't you...?"

    She is rubbing my chest with her head like Aria did that one time, and looks up, nodding.

    Hmm... so it seems... I was sucked into the void?

    -----
    Well of course Elijah's spirit is a loli. Would you expect anything else? XD
     
  12. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    CHAPTER 119
    CASTAWAY


    "Master... we are adrift in the void." Her voice is strangely crunchy. Cute, but sounding like she's on a crackly telephone lines speakerphone. Lyrical, yet gravelly? It's not a bad noise, though.

    "So… this is the void, huh?"

    She nods furiously, her fists balled.

    "You did a good job." I ruffle her head. "Who knows what would have happened if you didn't help me."

    She giggles happily. How cute.

    "This form pleases master, then? I saw from your eyes that you like human shapes of this form."

    Well, it’s kinda embarrassing when she puts it like that.

    "Yeah... you look cute. But... don't call me master..."

    She cocks her head quizzically.

    "Then... what does master? Hmmm... Master-sama?"

    Whilst that’s wrong... it’s basically mastermaster... it's monstrously cute... and I'm tempted...

    "Please just call me Elijah."

    "Eli-sama?"

    Hah... I'm not... well, I guess it’s like Kaede... just think like that.

    "Fine... let’s go with that. What should I call you?"

    "Naming?" She cocks her head again, making her electrified hair swish.

    "Does not exist?" She looks puzzled.

    I thought about this a while back didn't I? Though all the options were chunni. Now I've seen this cute innocent thing, I don't think I'd forgive myself using those.

    I ponder.

    Metal and lightning. Powerful, yet feminine? Invoking the sky and the ground at the same time.

    Ah! Of course...

    "Aeris."

    "That is my name?"

    I nod.

    "I think it suits you. It is from an old language of my world, Latin, and it can mean both 'Bronze', and 'Sky', at the same time."

    At least I think so. I wasn't very good at Latin. I looked into it as a lark once because I liked history for a while. But if I recall, the strange dual meaning of this stuck out to me... and it’s perfect for this girl!

    Hopefully it isn't ill-fated, mind you, as she shares it with a certain famous flower girl who dies.

    "Ae... ae... ri... rii... aee... rii... suuu... Aeris!" She balls her fists whilst she mutters her name under her breath.

    "Unn... understood, master-sama... ah! Un... Eli-sama. It is a good sound. Aeris is happy!" She giggles lyrically.

    Gods, she really doesn't need cute practice. She's using her name in third-person as well. Is this all because of my preferences?

    I smile at her, and she grins a toothy grin back.

    "So, how do we escape here?"

    "Un... its... Aeris doesn't know..."

    She looks sad.

    "Well... that's not your fault." I say, ruffling her head again.

    For some reason, the electric zaps don't affect me. Her 'hair' is really like strands of fine metal with a light bluish tinge, like tungsten or beautifully polished and finished steel. Maybe the blue-white electricity lends it more of a colour than most metals? Nonetheless, it’s pretty.

    But enough of that. What do I do now? Where am I?

    This place is... the void is... strange. The 'ground' feels mushy, like mud. But a weird purple-black colour, like sickly oil. It occasionally rises in strange lumps... hills? The 'air' is thick and gassy and slightly opaque with a green-yellow hue. Like... chlorine gas? It certainly smells like an over-purified swimming pool. There is no sun, but patches of purple necrofire hover around lazily in the sky like clouds, lending a bizarre level of illumination. Everything about the landscape is constantly shifting slightly, as if unstable, as well.

    Overall... it’s a pretty maddening sight if you focus on it. It feels wrong. Like an awful oil painting of a landscape with all the wrong colours. Viewed in a hall of mirrors.

    It also feels like something is lurking in the shadows as well, watching. It probably is.

    And somehow, I even think I'm shielded from the worst of it. Aeris is glowing slightly, illuminating us, and sending shocks of electricity into the surroundings in a periodic pulse.

    "Eli-sama... un... Aeris is keeping the little void spirits away... but there exists many very strong ones here. Aeris... may not be able to fight those..."

    Hmm... yeah... I was right. I guess she is literally a child. A new-born on the spirit ladder. If some bigwig saunters in I should expect to be crushed. It’s scary, but I need to keep cool and get out of here as soon as I can.

    The girls aren't here, of course. And I need to find them. Its worthless if I escape by myself. I can only hope they're okay.

    "Ah!" Aeris goes wide-eyed, and jumps, balling her fists again. I swear I can see a lightbulb clicking on above her head.

    "What is it?"

    "Un... Aeris can... probably find Seryamerya?"

    "Seryamerya? Who is... no... you said it like... Seriamelia? Seria? No... Seria's spirit? You mean Seria's spirit!?"

    "Un!" She nods furiously.

    "That's great! Good idea! Let’s do that!"

    She giggles happily, then closes her red eye, concentrating, and leaving the blue one open.

    "Un... this way? That way? Which way?" She cocks her head again, bouncing from one foot to another and spinning around. "Those way? These way? No way!!!"

    "This way!" She points and laughs again. She's such a jolly little thing.

    "Eli-sama! Follow Aeris!" She jumps up and down.

    "Lead the way, then. Good girl." I grab her hand.

    She giggles again, and I nearly get yanked off my feet as she moves off, literally like greased lightning.

    Woah!

    Somehow, I think my legs would fall off from this kind of speed in the real world. But apparently, here, that doesn't matter.

    Aeris's hair doesn't seem much affected by her speed, swishing gently, despite the fact that the terrain flies by like a bullet passing in flight. It's also very disconcerting that I don't feel any air pressure in my ears as we soar along. Come to think of it, how did I talk, if this is the void?

    Well, best not to think about it. Only madness lies down that road.

    Suddenly, in the far distance, a massive stroke of white lightning splits the dark sky. An accompanying roar of thunder comes a second later, of course.

    I'm guessing that's our destination...
     
  13. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    Here's what Aeris looks like:
    [​IMG]

    Shiny!! And Cute!! Imagining her bouncing around is quite entertaining, isn't it? Full size here. I had fun designing a metal/thunder spirit like this. It's hard to see in the cap, but her hair does in fact zap with electricity, and that is a floaty sphere of liquid metal next to her head.

    And whee!! Double Saturday Chapter Release!! Don't expect it too often... but this entire short section was kind of a contiguous block when it came out yesterday, so it felt silly to hold this chapter back til Tuesday.
     
  14. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE H
    THE BLOOD RED DEMON


    Look at these idiots gawping!

    At a run, my poleaxe easily splits three of them in half.

    A massive splatter erupts as I cleave them in twain.

    Humans are good at screaming, at least. Perhaps not so useless, after all, haha.

    I don't know what happened on this side, but as we came through, there were already some dead and injured on this side. I'm guessing whatever brother did, it must have been impressive!

    And of course, panicking people, whether it is from rout or disaster, are ever so easy to kill.

    I continue to be the vanguard, cutting a bloody swath through these fat, decadent humans with my axes.

    Some small ones are also slaughtered. Probably human children.

    Normally I'd have some mild qualms about slaughtering non-combatants; but considering I'm not likely to come back alive from this mission, now is not the time for such scruples.

    And it does usually have one desired effect: hastening the rate at which real challengers arrive.

    My contingent spreads out behind me as they pour from the portal, not wasting the ground I have leveraged as the vanguard, and quickly getting into a similar rhythm.

    I spare a glance behind, and it is a glorious sight. The swinging of blades, the roar of fire boiling fools alive, and tendril like vines chasing after people and throwing them into the carnage or outright squeezing the life from them.

    Finally, someone with a spear roars crazily at me as my head is turned.

    Idiot. Why announce your attack?

    His spear is weak. I don't even bother moving and it just glances off my scales.

    "How?!" He manages to cry.

    I chop off his helmeted head as my answer.

    Yes, a contingent of guardsmen has now arrived. But they don't seem very good. They don't even hold their spears right, and they step into obvious traps and get obliterated by spells easily.

    Some are slightly better than others, as is often the case. The next one I attack jumps back as I come at him.

    I use the opportunity to repeatedly split his spear vertically like a sausage.

    As I do that, he wets himself, so I throw my left axe at a different assailant, and then impale him on the remains of his own little pole before kicking his body away. It sails through a shop window in a massive smash of shutters and glass.

    My axes are not really made for throwing at all, but they can manage five paces against an advancing foe. This ones look of alarm is entertaining. I pull the axe out. Turns out it was holding his body together. More red blood sprays over me.

    Fufufufu.

    The red demon. It's nice to relive those old days I had. The blood-rage only makes me stronger!

    I should thank brother for finally giving me such an opportunity.

    I feel a sense of danger from my honed instinct, suddenly, moving myself slightly to the right.

    Suddenly, a great-sword bites into my shoulder from behind, chips my shoulder bone, and gets caught briefly but is pulled out.

    Oho? Finally, someone semi-competent. Not enough, but a very nice try. Something painful at last!

    Barely in time, I spin and parry a second incoming sword by a hair's breadth.

    A female human knight, is it?

    Such impressive technique! She immediately tries to work around my parry by deflecting all my strength upwards.

    Her second sword slips in the gap she leverages, but I'm no slouch in defence, and I parry that one too.

    We clash repeatedly in a few seconds.

    Normally, strength for strength against me is a fool’s errand, but I slip slightly on the blood, and she knows an opportunity when she sees one. She kicks my kneecap with her plated boot and stabs my foot before I can force her back with a wide swing.

    Yes! Yes!! Excellent! I haven't had a good fight against a human since the Duke of Carnage.

    She leaps backwards, a sweat on her brow. Two slightly more competent looking guards in similar purple capes to the woman run up.

    "No! Stay back! This one will kill you instantly!" She shouts, practically grabbing one by the shoulder and forcing him back.

    Yes indeed. She has a good head on those shoulders too. She knows strength when she sees it.

    She glares at me, and her subordinates appear to listen, inspecting me properly this time, with a gulp. They then jump back and run to fight other battles.

    Wise move. But time to end this charade. She probably thinks she can weaken me over time with wounds. Everyone assumes that. But my demonic heritage, like brothers, only strengthens me as I bleed. And my fighting style is innately reckless.

    Brother says I'm a muscle-power idiot. A walking mountain of scar tissue. He's right.

    I ignore the pain in my foot, grin, and charge at her. Full power!
    -------
    This is Hestos' perspective. In case you forgot, he was Cultivators brother, whom he sent as the leader to attack the capital. He's a berserk type, who gets stronger from his wounds. Will Kako cope!?
     
  15. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE KO
    DUEL TO THE DEATH


    "Oh shit!" I cry involuntarily.

    Barely in time, I squat under the huge demons obscenely horrifying swing, having to drop my swords to make it in time.

    Some of my ponytail doesn't make it.

    No choice!

    I slam my gauntlet on the ground between his legs, and there, focus.

    The cobble bursts outwards in a battering-ram like pillar and blows him away before he can adjust his aim and bisect me.

    He smashes through the window of a restaurant. But no way I'm stopping with that. I stomp twice, sending a quaking fissure that way and collapsing the entire two floors on top of him.

    I hope the proprietor was sensible enough to run or be in the basement.

    Dammit. I had hoped to keep my trump cards closer to my chest, like father always said, but I had to reveal my Bladesward powers now just to survive.

    Fortunately, I got Couronne and Wedge to fall back. They absolutely can't take this demon without dying.

    I don't even know if -I- can take on this demon without dying.

    He is surely not going to fall from that, after all. Most, even demons, would not resist the pain I've already given him. It was like slashing a brick wall.

    There is always one stronger. Always.

    But I have to try.

    The scene of this massacre is sickening. In barely five minutes, hundreds of people have died. It makes me queasy.

    I spare a glance to my unit as I roll on the ground and jump back upwards, grabbing my swords back into my grasp. My men have reinforced the mostly ceremonial parade patrol. Good. A few demons have been killed as well.

    I dash forwards and support the squad, helping Vicks by stabbing his demon in the back, and throwing a boulder I summon at that troublesome fire mage. He tries to incinerate it but has a look of surprise as he just succeeds in turning the attack into a magma rock instead, as my Earth magery is not that weak. It blows him up in an explosion.

    Now is certainly not the time for fair duelling. Sadly, most of the parade guards only have that level of experience.

    The civilians behind us are safe for now, but we are at a disadvantage, for sure. Not many elite troops are here. And the demons are between us and the palace gates, which is hardly more than a stone's throw from here. The gates were thrown wide open for the parade.

    It is, frankly, a disaster.

    I have to take down this demon and make it inside to protect his majesty. Leanne is strong, for sure, but it won't be enough.

    As I thought, the strong demon leaps out of the pile of rubble, covered in dust, but hardly taken down. It forces my attention back at him. At least the demon is down one axe. He must have lost the other one in the wreck.

    But he effortlessly adopts a two-handed style and charges straight back at me, practically drooling from bloodlust.

    I kick the ground and send another summoned boulder at him.

    But then he flash-steps.

    I miss fighting Kiku sometimes. This was her favourite trick.

    But its twice as fast, triple the power. All I can do again is get one sword in the way and cover myself in stone rapidly.

    I make it, barely, but the smash still blows me away, cracking my blade and vaporising my protective stone skin into smithereens.

    I go soaring through the air. Any normal person would still hit the ground face first and splatter from that power, even after parrying and protecting themselves like I managed.

    But I plead. I take in a frenzied breath despite the pain.

    And I dive.

    The earth and stone yields to me.

    What would I have done if I had not have mastered this last week?

    Well, it would have been the end.

    I spin around whilst submerged in stone; and kick off a wooden pillar that is buried in the foundation of this building, using the upwards force to leap out the rocky ground with a shockwave of sandy dust behind me.

    I can't stay there. The effect is still very short lived for me. Master Earth mages use it for infiltration, but my grasp on the magic is not that strong yet.

    I soar through the air again.

    I come down, the cracked blade below me, my skin still clad in rock, in a diving attack like a meteor.

    He looks momentarily shocked.

    But his axe starts swinging automatically and he backs up.

    I impale only his arm, and the great-sword snaps off halfway up the blade with a ping. I don't have my best blades today. He roars and drops his axe from the shock.

    I duck to avoid his backhand left strike.

    But then, I'm still off balance. That should have been a kill move.

    He punches me in the gut with a right.

    That power. My gods. I vomit up blood and stagger backwards. My vision blurs as I can't prevent the tears spilling from that agony.

    He pulls my own snapped blade out his arm, and even as it slices his hand to ribbons... it comes towards me in slow motion.

    Oh...

    Father. Kiku. It's over already, is it?

    I smile. I hope Kiku finds her love and defeats the damn demon lord.

    But suddenly, the blade stops, barely an inch from my throat, just giving me time to stagger out of the way, coughing.

    I didn't do it. What the...

    Ah, his entire arm has frozen?

    You're an idiot, Your Majesty. You're weak right now.

    Why did you come to help?
    -----
    And this is from Kako's viewpoint. Good job Melody decided to come along, eh?
     
  16. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE M3
    HOSTILE WATERS


    She can't die!

    My head immediately aches as my spirit complains.

    I've barely got back to summoning icicles and water bottles yesterday, and now I'm throwing out combat magic, after all.

    But she can't die!!

    I freeze the massive demons arm, giving Kako a second to stagger away. But the demon is tenacious, and she is barely hanging on, unable to suppress a retch as she scuttles backwards.

    More! Need more!

    The market fountain! It's broken, but I can use it, right!?

    I make all of its water leap out at once, suddenly gifting it with intense heat, pressure and horizontal velocity.

    The impromptu boiling geyser smashes into the demon and he goes flying off into the remains of Remone's Tailors in an explosion of dust and wooden splinters.

    I wanted to make the water stay there and boil him like a Terrapin Lobster in a pot, but my control at the moment is still not perfect, so splatters of water all escape and spill all over the street.

    The men around me rapidly escort us to Kako and help her up whilst that demon is distracted in the rubble.

    I hyperventilate and my blood throbs. Crap. I can't actually do stunts like that often.

    "You're all damn fucktards! I told you to stay away!" Kako curses.

    But I quickly put on a facade of perfection, ironing away my fatigue.

    "Ohohohoho." I laugh behind a hand. Cadence was better at the laugh. One of the noble tutors had a strange thing for teaching us this. It is apparently critical for a good court lady.

    Kako gives me the stink-eye. She dislikes that noise, like Aria.

    "Honestly, Kako, you expect me to stand by whilst something like this is happening? You jest!"

    She makes chomping motions. Looks briefly at her men, who shrug at her, and she sighs.

    "Whatever. We must..."

    The demons don't give us time to sit and natter. They are clearly loyal to the big demon, as a pair charges towards us, roaring.

    The guards instantly form up around Kako in front of me. She bisects the left one, and the right one gets four spears jammed in, making it crumple before it can do anything with its own spear.

    Then they look aghast, as a sneaky female demon leaps from a ledge and suddenly bounces towards me from the side, roaring and brandishing two large daggers.

    "Your majesty!" Kako yells.

    But she underestimates me.

    I hold out my hand in a fist, and then open it rapidly.

    Water literally gushes from the demon from its pores and orifices, extracted from the blood wholesale.

    Her charge slows and her eyes widen. She can't understand what is going on. Her cheeks and eye-sockets suddenly sink and her entire body desiccates, as happens in a mortuary. She makes it in front of me, her clothes loose, almost a mummy, but even I can dodge such a slow attack by barely moving my head.

    "Nice try. But, Demons, much like humans, contain a lot of water, you know?"

    I pat the demons’ cheek it consolation.

    Its head explodes, dust flying into the wind. The body collapses and turns into a pile of ash and shattered, brittle bones, bereft even their marrow.

    Yes... I haven't lost my touch, after all. Those who think water is purely a magic of soothing are always gravely mistaken. When living things are mostly water, there is no limit to the devastation you can weave.

    Cadence was always envious that I had everything, according to her. We had a fight about it once. She could use Wood magery, but only at an elementary level. I'm not exactly the Sage of Water, but I did have ten quarts of affinity, so easily enough for a master mage. And magic is actually all about formulae and processes. Ideal for my head. Father excused me from weapons training entirely because of my skill. Which is good, honestly, I was pretty useless with a blade. Both Cadence and Aria could whup me in melee.

    Another demon, a fire mage, rounds the corner from behind and flings a massive fireball at Kako and her men.

    I dash towards it; and hit it at full pelt before it can get far, accompanied with all the moisture I just extracted from the rogue-demoness, and several extra likilsels of water from the fountain.

    The watery me crashes through the fire, evaporating it furiously as I slam through. I hear the fire spirits around me cry in frustration as steam is made.

    Steam is like a noble dance between fire and water spirits. They pirouette away in pairs, anger forgotten in their sudden wild dance.

    I reach the shocked Fire Mage.

    "Hi there!"

    I grab its face.

    It freezes instantly, going white.

    I shiver from the chill.

    "Bye!" I say.

    I punch the ice lazily, and it cracks right down the middle. A frozen slushy of blood runs from it in gloopy waves before turning into blue icicles.

    The demon falls over, its head shattering entirely just as my shocked contingent of guards catches up with me. Doubtlessly my parade dress is now covered in burnt patches and demon blood.

    Part of me feels terrible from the carnage that I have just wrought, but I'm a logical sort. That feeling is irrational. I box it up and seal it away. Now is not the time for such foolishness. They have not shown my people any mercy, so why should I?

    Does that make me evil? I prefer to think that all's fair in love and war. Kako dislikes that notion when I discussed it with her last year, but her mercenary father drilled it into her nonetheless. She realises, too, that sometimes, needs must.

    I breathe out. I'm running low on power. But we still need to get to the palace. Father is too old for combat, and only Leanne will be there, as his shadow. The half a dozen maid staff are highly competent, but against the fifty or more demons who advanced that way?

    It is up to us.

    The square is mostly clear now. Well, except...

    The huge demon finally breaks out the rubble again, his right eye closed from a small wooden stake piercing it, and his entire body covered in burns and bleeding scratches. He roars.

    Tenacious son of a whore, isn't he?
    -------
    Melody being a badass, just in case you thought she was just purely a sexy intellectual princess... XD
    There may not be a Tuesday chapter. Not certain yet. Also, I am likely to be going into hospital in the next couple of weeks for surgery, which of course may affect releases.
     
  17. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    SIDE S3
    THUNDER GODDESS


    "Mmm... well, that was something."

    It appears I have no shortage of power available. I feel strong, and tall, and powerful, all of a sudden.

    I look to my side again. Like a large diamond, running with electricity, it floats here with me. A very beautiful jewel, clear and translucent. Even though I've never had patience for useless trinkets, I guess there was something like this once... when I was a little girl on the plantation, the madam wore a jewel that glittered in the sun somewhat like this.

    Perhaps, subconsciously, I wanted that.

    "Err... Seria-sama... you... changed..."

    I look towards Rishya. No... down slightly at Rishya. I hold a slender but long arm in front of my face. My hair is even heavier. And it feels as though... just slightly, my chest band is straining.

    Yes... it appears, at least here, after using that attack, my growth and age has suddenly become no longer locked at the time when I absorbed Master Velour’s power. I look more like I am nineteen or twenty.

    I look back at the large floating diamond.

    I believe, this confirms that this must be some kind of manifestation of my spirit.

    It must be, as Rishya is accompanied by what can only be described as what would happen if a south plains tiger... became a man.

    White fur with stripes, rippling muscles, a furry mane, and a noble bearing, clad in white and red robes and carrying a bright golden staff.

    "Your idea, sage, is correct. That is your spirit." Says Michael, in a gentlemanly voice.

    "Ehehe, you look so coooool, Michael!" Rishya hugs the tiger-man again suddenly.

    "I kind of feel jealous." Aria says with a deadpan look.

    Aria has gained...

    "Seryamerya!" Suddenly something glomp-hugs the large floating crystal next to me.

    A little girl with electrified hair...? What the hell is...!?

    "Wow! You look gorgeous, Seria!"

    Elijah! He's here!

    My heart leaps to my throat as I doubtlessly blush like a stupid maiden. He called me beautiful...

    Gods... is -this- why I took this form? What an idiot I have become. Am I now suddenly conscious of how young I look? Whu-whu...

    But wait a minute... stop! Something more important than that!

    Who the heck is this damn girl!?

    He's got ANOTHER girl!?!!

    "E-li-jah-" Aria beats me to it, stomping over, cracking her knuckles.

    He can't stop his face muscles moving and sniggering slightly.

    "A-Aria! Wh-wh-when did you turn into a... Magical girl!" He bursts out in a laugh.

    Well, I don't know what a 'Mah-gii-kal-gurrr-lu' is, but we all had the same reaction.

    She is in a rather insane noble dress... frills coming out of frills... blue skirts and petticoats aplenty... but it is cut open at the front, revealing her stocking covered legs and panties, and the arms and collarbone are free at the shoulders, showing off her modest cleavage, and she is carrying her spear as usual, but it glows with light constantly. Somehow, it does look faintly ridiculous on her, crowding her with its size and weight, but yet being way too scandalous to actually wear to court.

    Yes, in her case, her spirit... and the blessing of Sendervil... IS her dress, always protecting and enhancing her.

    Elijah gets a punch to the gut and he starts coughing.

    Or not. He coughs just the once involuntarily, and then looks mildly confused.

    "Huh... I'm immune to the gut punch. There are some benefits to the void!"

    "Who. Is. This."

    Aria, looking frustrated, says singular words as she rains useless blows on him, and he just has a smarmy look that kind of makes me want to hit him as well.

    This little metal-skinned girl rubbing her face against the crystal... oh! Fufufu... I should have known.

    "This is his spirit, Aria." I say.

    "Nn! Aeris is Eli-sama's!" She stops rubbing my diamond and nods, which... for some reason is crackling with electricity, rather annoyed.

    Annoyed? I can tell? Huh...

    Aria facepalms with a smack as the girl spirit bounces around. She sure is hyper.

    "Bloody typical... what else would it look like?" Aria groans, rubbing her face with her hand.

    "Elijah-sama's fever has no limits! Arry, you should know this..." Rishya pats her on the shoulder in consolation, grinning.

    "So... is this tiger... Michael? Pretty awesome. A lovely beauty accompanied by a noble beast, huh?" Elijah says, giving Aria and Rishya head-ruffles.

    "Huhuhu... your fine taste is impeccable as always, Elijah-sama. He is awesome, right!?" She puffs out her chest and smiles radiantly.

    I suppress the urge to dash over and receive a ruffle of my own, instead turning it into a steady walk.

    This stupid man is sensitive at all the wrong times, though. He turns and rubs my face as I approach, pushing my left twin-tail over my shoulder and running his hand through it gently.

    "Seriously, Seria... what the heck... you did turn into a world class beauty! Amazing. I like your little version as well of course. But this has a definitive charm!"

    "Damn it! Stop flirting, boy!" I shout, looking bashful. But like an idiot, I don't pull away, and probably blush.

    He just laughs and pulls away his hand.

    "Kyaaaa!" Aria suddenly squeals. Everyone looks at her.

    Something is suddenly moving underneath her dress.

    The spirit girl suddenly crawls from between Aria’s legs, sniffing her. How did she get under there?

    "What’s this? What’s this?! Hmmm! Weird!"

    Then she dashes over to Michael; and stops with her hands behind her.

    "Myy-kall! Hello! This is Aeris! Aeris has a name!"

    "Hello child. Hmmm... hello, Aeris." The tiger head nods at her.

    "Hehehehe! Yes! That's it!"

    Then she dashes and bounces back to Elijah and hugs him.

    "Nn! Aeris loves Eli-sama lots!"

    Hah... typical.

    Suddenly I feel a sense of uneasiness. No... not just from this cute spirit girl, but...

    Oh... the void spirits are building up again?

    They seem to want to claim the pile of other girls we have here.

    Yes... Kali, Kaede, and Kiku are here, unconscious. Me and Aria found each other quickly, and we managed to find the others before they were consumed. It was a lucky turn of events, for sure. Getting spirit-less people lost in the void would have been tragic, to say the least.

    We were about to try and find Elijah, but the void spirits kept surging at us to attack. My thunder from before was meant to give us some leeway.

    Here they come again, like an army of twisted black insects...
     
  18. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    Well... something grew...
    [​IMG]
    Don't worry, though, Seria fans... she won't stay this way outside the Void or anything... XD
     
  19. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    In case you missed it before: there will likely be a week gap (at least) between this and the next one, as I will be going into Hospital for surgery. Hope you all stay with me!
    --------------
    CHAPTER 120
    FINALLY CAUGHT CHEATING


    Somehow, whatever Seria noticed, I also noticed too. My head instinctively snaps to look.

    That's a lot of bugs.

    It's like something straight out of Starship Troopers. A carpet of insectoid like creatures. Even if you don't have a fear of insects or spiders, I think anyone would be rattled by this sight.

    I saw a few isolated ones one the way, which Aeris steered us around.

    These... are void spirits, right?

    "Master-sama! Un... Eli-sama! Be careful!"

    So that was what Seria's blast must have been about before.

    "We have to fight them?"

    "Mmmm... it seems they are attracted to the spirit-less souls of the other girls. We barely stopped them from consuming Kaede when we got here." Seria nods.

    I thought she looked paler than usual. Yes... I guess the girls must have had the same creepy 'let's play' spiel that hit me. If Aeris hadn't have awakened... I would have listened and have likely been consumed as well. It's a good job, I guess, that Seria seems to know what she's doing.

    Seriously, though, my heart skipped when looking at her adult version. She is like an Ivory and Ebony sculpture now... her face defined and gorgeously feminine, her yellow eyes turned predatory, and a long, slender body framed by the usual black twin-tails. Not buxom, but still... yes... like a Japanese pale beauty put in a fanservice outfit. And still oozing self-confidence as well... awkward cute blushes aside.

    But enough of that...

    "Can we escape before they reach us? And how do we get out of here?" I ask.

    "We must return to a proper ley-line, Elijah-sama." Rishya answers.

    "Mmm... then I should be able to force us back into it and leygate us to the closest destination." Seria confirms.

    "But... we'll have to fight first, right?" Aria states, swinging her glowing spear in her funny magical girl noble fanservice outfit.

    Yeah... they're almost upon us.

    Michael suddenly stomps past me.

    He holds his own staff aloft. I notice Rish is now sat on his seven-foot tall shoulder, and she points forwards.

    "Fire!" She shouts.

    A giant bright white laser that can only be described as a Master Spark happens.

    Its twice the size and power of the laser she fired before. Quicker too.

    It sweeps along the approaching army and obliterates several hundred, for sure, before flickering out.

    But they keep coming.

    Seria then delivers another massive stroke of lightning, blowing a crater in the centre of the formation and sending many flying.

    But the terrain repairs itself... and they keep coming.

    Aria then kicks off, and impacts the front of the formation, dancing and skating around as her spear cleaves wildly.

    "Can we help, Aeris?" I ask.

    "Nnn... yes!"

    Suddenly, she disappears.

    Well... this is rather unexpected.

    A large longsword suddenly appears in my hands, beautiful shiny steel the colour of her skin, set with a blue pommel and red hilt, like her eyes, and flowing with a veil of thunderous electricity.

    "Use Aeris, Eli-sama!" I hear in my head.

    I guess... I really am a bladesward now, aren't I? I smile to myself and try to kick-off like Aria did.

    I literally blast off, causing a thunderclap. Woah! Woah! Holy crap!

    I hit the formation of void insects like a bullet; and cleave a large one in half that’s about to hit Aria from behind.

    Blade-Aeris grows to make sure I cleave through, and then lets out a blast of shocks that make all the void spirits judder, like I had just used that one spell I have. This is totally a cheat... it’s refreshing to finally have a proper one!

    The paralysis type effect allows Aria to easily wipe them out.

    Then another laser blasts past us. It briefly clears the space around.

    "Onii-chan!?! You can fight..." Aria exclaims.

    "I know... it’s weird... right? But it seems this girl is really useful, after all" I grin, staring at my sword. The blade ripples slightly, as though it is breathing. Somehow, I get the impression my sword is happy and grinning to herself.

    Aria also grins back.

    "Someone to fight beside me... eh? Ehehe..."

    I jump over to her; and press my back against hers.

    "Yep. Back to back. We did promise, right? That we would be monsters together." I say, looking over my shoulder at her cute face.

    "Uh-huh!" She smiles radiantly back at me and blushes, then looks away, stabbing another void spirit with an offhand thrust.

    I swipe at another. It’s a good job these aren't very intellectual enemies. They're like zombies. Spidery insect zombies. I imagine that most competent enemies would never be caught in the crappy swings that I'm making. Even though I don't know much about combat, I can tell they're shoddy, weak and trashy compared to what Aria and Kiku throw out.

    Aria is taking out ten for everyone I do... but at least I'm helping, right?

    Getting Kiku to train me is really probably a good idea now. And that Esraye girl, since she has metal spirit powers?

    It reminds me, though, that we've not seen the mercenary group at all here.

    Hopefully, they'll be alright.

    I slash at another void spirit, cleaving it in twain.

    Another thing I wonder is how I can tie this kind of fighting to using explosives and my sapper like skill-set from before.

    Here's another! I impale it on the blade, and the shocks from the sword-Aeris make it explode in dust.

    Exploding in dust?

    That seems very much like those weird teleporting creatures from before. Though those were in a void-based dungeon, so it’s not a surprise.

    Suddenly, all of the spirits suddenly stop surging at us, and simultaneously turn tail, dissolving into mist as they do.

    What? What just happened?

    Did they choose to retreat?

    Considering their frenzy from before, I have a bad feeling about this.
    -----------

    Elijah finally gets to use a sword, like a standard protagonist! Aria is smitten again! Poor girl... Tiger-Michael is firin' his laser as well.

    Sorry for leaving off on a cliff, but bear with me.
     
  20. eharper256

    eharper256 Purveyor of Dubious Medicinal Elixirs [since 1885]

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    CHAPTER 121
    POKING THE TRUTH


    We stay wary for a while, expecting them to come back, or transform into a giant one or something. Isn't that how these things occur?

    But it seems, despite my uneasiness, nothing much happens. The void becomes creepily quiet.

    Aria looks at me, and I shrug.

    We turn and move back to the others.

    Rishya is poking Seria, who appears to have suddenly gone back to being a young girl again. She looks annoyed.

    Michael is staring at the strange floating diamond.

    "You're back to normal, Seria?"

    "Mmmm... yes... it is remarkably strange... Eeep!"

    She jumps as Rish pokes her again in the ribs.

    Rishya bursts out laughing and Seria glares at her.

    "It... is... weird! Hehehehe..." Rishya laughs to herself.

    "Okay Rish... don't bully the Sage."

    But I snicker myself as I say it.

    "Hmm... your defence is not really convincing, boy." She glares at me, holding her sides in annoyance.

    "Kyaaaaa!" Seria leaps again, and glares at Rishya again, but it wasn't her this time.

    "Kyaaaaaaa!" Seria is poked again repeatedly and gets tears in her eyes as she squirms.

    "Are girl-shapes supposed to poke? Be poked? Poke poke poke! Yayyyy!"

    Aeris is like a snake going around Seria, poking her in all sorts of places.

    I look at my hand... I didn't even notice she wasn't a sword any more. I guess she was that lightweight?

    "Haaah! B-boy! Kyaaaa!"

    "Okay, Aeris, that's enough. You're not supposed to do that."

    "Not?" She tilts her head quizzically, looking at Rishya and back at me. Rishya is just laughing hysterically.

    Seria falls on her knees, breathing heavily and glaring at me and Rishya.

    Aeris immediately stops thinking about it, loses her thread and goes back to humming something whilst she skips around. She really acts like a much younger girl than her appearance suggests, doesn't she?

    But then even this is likely miraculous, given she is effectively a few weeks old.

    "Boy! Keep your damn spirit under control! And you can stop laughing as well!" She glares at her floating diamond.

    Its laughing, huh? Hard to tell.

    Then I spot something out the corner of my eye; and look to the right.

    It seems I'm not the only one.

    Something glinting?

    Something glowing?

    Then, there are more shinies.

    And more...

    Stalks burst from the shifting terrain in front of us.

    The entire plain in front of us blooms.

    Literally.

    Hundreds... thousands... of those odd flowers grow out of nowhere in a radiant display.

    Seria, Aria and Rishya sharply intake breath as the plains continue to be filled with radiant flowers, creating a scene of ephermal beauty.

    "It... it's kinda pretty..." Aria says.

    "Uh... is that... normal here?" I ask.

    "I really have no idea, boy..." Seria grimaces, standing up, the poking incident forgotten.

    Aeris suddenly dashes into the flower field, her feet making crunching noises as she giggles.

    "These flowers are clearly important, though." Seria says, folding her arms and tapping her foot.

    "Thats so obvious even I get that much." Aria snarks. Seria glares at her.

    "The void spirits become this way." Michael suddenly says.

    "They do, Michael?" Rishya asks.

    "It is like... I am not certain... but as Light spirits like myself are their counterparts... I feel like, to an extent, I understand them?"

    The large man-tiger strokes his chin in a surprisingly human gesture.

    "I believe that... they do not fear their demise like other spirits. Like humans." He says.

    "Fear their demise... hah..." Seria sighs.

    "Is it like I thought that one time after all, Seria?" I ask.

    She shakes slightly, but she pulls herself up.

    "Ahem. Michael. Do spirits die to generate power?" Seria asks.

    The tiger-man somehow looks startled.

    "Of course." He nods. "It is the prerogative that the smaller ones sacrifice to give strength to the higher ones. Do humans not have a similar system?" He cocks his head.

    Seria rubs her face.

    "Of course, right now, I am purely using my own power. It is not something I have really considered before... but I suppose my identity stems from the thousands sacrificed to become me and will and knowledge and achievements and strong love of my capacitor, Rishya."

    He bellows a growly guffaw.

    But Seria merely bites a fingernail in anxiousness.

    "I wish I had realised sooner. You were indeed correct, boy. I cannot believe the hubris of the first sage to not include this information. He must surely of known?" She shakes her head, pacing backwards and forwards.

    "It all came about when I realised Void Spirits appeared for no reason sometimes. I tried to find out why... but..."

    "But I am guessing they come about when certain spirits die?" I nod.

    She sighs in exasperation.

    "It all makes sense... if we assume that they do not all go to the void... if we assume, rather than them just being attracted to death... creators of death... they themselves appear as the result of death."

    I think I sort of figured as much already. After all, my explosives don't suddenly need fire spirits to work. The science of earth still works. But fire spirits appear with the fire. But to create it from nowhere? Well its obvious to me that energy is not created or destroyed, because that is something we have discovered in our world, but would they know the same here?

    The spirits seem to just appear when they go through the motions. If you don't think too much on it... it might well seem like they are appearing to do your bidding. But in fact... you are sacrificing at least some... and others, bigger ones, are made from the residue.

    I suppose, they are simply like conscious energy or matter. When something happens... some of the effect turns into spirits?

    I could be entirely wrong, of course. But I explain my thoughts to Seria, including some hash of earth science that’s probably ill-remembered in the process.

    She goes through various states of distress as I do. Rishya and Aria merely look confused.

    I have no idea what this means for the world, but I'm guessing it’s not very good...