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GGCE 6 – Another will open… (3)

Avery left the group to wait in the living room. She walked down a corridor on the left side of the home, passing two other rooms before reaching the end of the hall. She stood before a partially open door painted sky blue. A worn spot sat just above the handle, where her parents always pushed the door open.

“We’re back, little one!” For a moment, she heard her mother’s voice ringing out as she pushed the door on with her hand on the worn spot – Like her parents use to do. Inside was a mostly dark bedroom with a single glowing orb in the farthest right corner. Her eyes adjusted to the almost pitch black room. The room brightened into a sea of black and whites as she made her way through the once lived-in room to the orb that shone brilliantly in the corner.

Her eyes narrowed as the sea of white that surrounded the orb disappeared, replaced with the swirl of reds, blues, purples, and the other colors of the rainbow. The orb floated a half-an-inch above an ornate spire of twisted wood and meteor stone that stood up to her chest in height. It was Fable’s End control matrix. It controlled everything from the climate to permission controls.

A delicate fingered reached out, tapping the orb on the top before a blueish-grey screen appeared – hovering in mid-air. A few stats appeared on the screen, but the first one was the sky cycle. The sky was set on enteral Milky-Way with a few other options such as day, night, and a few other more atmospheric settings. She tapped the furthest left; Current world cycle.

Bright orange light poured into the room through unseen windows high up. The room lit up as Avery pressed a few more buttons and hit “Status Report” before it prompted her with a “Please wait, reports being processed”. She turned from the orb to look at the room in a better light. The room looked untouched since the last time she was here which felt like so long ago. From the light, she could tell it was dusk and it made the room feel that much lonelier

An ornate single bed sat against the wall, plushies of the game’s animals sat on the single pillow as if waiting for their owner to arrive. She turned to her right where a wardrobe was and opened. Inside, an inventory menu should have been prompted. What greeted her was a wardrobe stuffed to the brim with her outfits, baffling her as her eyes went wide in surprise.

A myriad of colors greeted her in the dim light and when she pulled one off the rack, the contents of the wardrobe poured out like a dam bursting. “Shit!” She yelled in frustration as she jumped aside as her half her room was filled with clothes. She looked in awe at how much was actually in that wardrobe when her door burst open a few seconds later with Navara pushing her door open and the men behind her with their weapons drawn.

Avery was only huffing in frustration while the other looks into the room at the pile of clothes that looked like an avalanche as it filled the space between the wardrobe and the bed. “I’ll help you…” Navara said in awe of the situation. Both Randol and Ter’Yut nodded and made their way back down the hall while Desmond’s eyes bulged with excitement.”H-Hey… Aren’t… All those magic infused clothing…?”

Desmond could feel the mana. It was ever so subtle. He could see that some glowed slightly from the magic embroidery. Even the material of all the clothing were enough to bankrupt his Father’s small empire!

Navara pushed him away “Doesn’t matter. No peeking!” She stepped into the room and slammed the door in his face, mad he was ogling another girl’s clothes. Even though she herself hadn’t been able to catch his eye. Once inside, she did notice what he was actually ogling, the magical clothing that seemed to have been collected like a girl would collect clothes for every day of the month. While she was a simple tribal beast who didn’t own a pair herself, she did slightly understand that it was something that only powerful people would have.

Like her father, who was the head of her clan, but even he had only a ring.

“So… How did you fit all that stuff in there…?” She asked with an awkward smile, feeling like a peasant before this girl in every way.

. . . . . .

Avery stood bare beneath the heavens as the day she was born, along with Navara. A pile of clothes stood high all around them and sorted by color. Navara had felt like a little girl beside this girl who was half-a-head shorter than her, but her chest was bigger than hers, and her hips… Well, she felt she would lose her little Dessy to this succubus.

Avery, the girl who was the object of this jealousy, noticed but didn’t bother. Avery had better things to deal with, like what to wear. She was very particular about what she wore, but right now another worry was rearing its head while she tried to immerse herself into what to wear.

“This isn’t the game anymore…” A small whisper tingled her ear, she turned around quickly and glared at Navara. “Did you say something?” Navara who was silently beating Avery in her head was startled by the sudden question. “N-No!” She shook her head. She turned her head back and tried to delve back into her thoughts before the whisper came back. “You must protect yourself….” She looked around the room before her eyes settled on the orb.

“Little one… Promise me…” The whisper… Oddly sounded like her mother! But it wasn’t coming from the orb, nor was it coming from anywhere in the room. “You okay?” Navara asked worriedly. She had noticed the change in Avery like she had suddenly gone on alert. She didn’t respond until she had placed her hand on her shoulder, making her jump slightly. “Hey, are you okay?” Navara didn’t miss the panic in her eyes before it was buried under a tinge of embarrassment and slight annoyance.

But Avery held back her snap. Navara was worried about her, probably how she kept looking around the room. “Yeah, just a little out of it. Waking up at the bottom of a pond can do that.” She smiled softly, more at ease around the beast-kin now that she expressed something other than jealousy. The smile side-swiped Navara, dazzled by the beautiful smile.

Avery’s skin was looking a lot more healthy now. Fair with a healthy blush and pretty pink lips that made someone just want to kiss then ever so tenderly. Navara quickly pulled her hand back when she noticed the dangerous direction her thoughts were going. “Stupid! She’s a girl!” But her heart was beating wildly in her chest. She could felt that if she didn’t have fur on her ears, they’d be as red as lobsters!

Avery didn’t notice the storm she had kicked up in Navara’s heart as she pulled a beautiful black dress with a single embroidered golden-paw on its chest “Ah…” She smiled when she saw it. It was her formal Guild Master dress. She set it down on an open spot on the bed as she went about finding other possible outfits.

. . . . .

An hour later, Avery and Navara walked softly down the hall into the living room. The men had long made themselves comfortable on the varies living room furniture and long succumbed to their exhaustion. Desmond snored softly, curled up on the couch, his tattered and dusty robe wrapped around him. Randol lay sprawled on the fur rug in front of the heart, still in his armor. Ter’Yut slept sitting center on a love seat with his arms resting on the couches back. His face was solemn as if he was just in deep thought.

Avery looked over them with a stoic face, thinking. This was the first time she had actually taken a good look at them and they looked pitiful. Desmond’s clothes were dusty, Randol’s armor was bloody and scared. Ter’Yut’s clothes looked cleaner than them, but just looking at the pile of armor by his feet… They were just as beat up. “So… How did you guys end up like this?” Avery asked curiously, but only about how they managed to get into her sanctuary – She just didn’t want to be rude.

Navara looked at her trying to put the words together. Avery had only put on that black dress and combed her hair back, resting the ends on her shoulder to fall down her chest. She seemed heavenly, she wasn’t sure she wanted to tell her what they did. Like it would sully the moment.

Yet when Avery’s eyes turned to look at her, two golden suns threatening to consume her. She felt fear rise in her heart. An instinctual fear. “T-There were undead in the city below..” Navara froze up when those two golden suns seemed to glow brighter for a moment before Avery turned away. “Let’s see if there’s any food in the kitchen,” Avery said in a soft voice. “City? There should only be a village…” She thought to herself as her bare feet carried her soundlessly to the kitchen on the other end of the house. Navara following meekly behind her, feeling wronged.

The kitchen was separated by a single stone wall from the living room with two entrances on either end. Wooden cabinets hugged the outer wall with an island in the middle of the room. The countertops were made from a thick wood that could be chopped on. A refrigerator, sink, and stove sat by the outer wall that faced the viewing platform outside. A small circular window overlooked the sink.

The pair had just entered the kitchen when Navara nearly bumped into Ter’Yut when she stood up from one-floor cabinets. He pressed his meaty finger to his lips and she held back her startled yelp. “I sensed bloodlust. You okay?” His deep black eyes turned to Avery, who was rummaging through a strange, tall glossy box with a door “Blood… Lust?” Her head tilted to the side with a twitch of her left ear.

“Did you feel anything when talking to her?” He asked quietly. Navara was about to ask what when Avery’s soft, honey voice broke through the conversation “If you’re going to talk about me, you should either ask directly or go outside.” Navara yelped this time while Ter’yut stiffened up momentarily. Avery stood right next to them now, those golden-cat eyes burned with displeasure in the dim-lit kitchen.

Before either of them could come up with an excuse, she waved her hand dismissing it. “I understand you may not trust me, but you’re on my mountain. In my home. I will not tolerate anyone being rude, or you all can leave immediately.” As if to answer Ter’Yut’s question, he felt the pressure clearer now. A sort of pressure on the mind. Like someone of lesser power trying to push out their mana over the surroundings.

There was a sort of skill beings of A-tier ability could exert their bloodlust. This sort of reminded him of it, but it felt more unintentional. “Okay, okay.” He rose his hands up in surrender. “I apologize to the lady.” His green lips parted in a sort of wicked grin. For a moment, he felt the bloodlust actually thicken. Then it disappeared as she turned and silently went back to rummaging through the fridge. Navara looked at the orc before both of them silently went back into the living room.

. . . . . . .

Desmond awoke to Navara’s face an inch from his. He smelt the delicious scent of meat in his dreams, but just now, he smelt it so powerful he could taste it. When he opened his eyes, he found Navara’s face instead – With streaks of saliva on her nose and a big grin. “Am I tasty, Dessy?” He could also see the tip of her tail flapping side to side happily. “Wait – I.. I…” It took a few seconds for him to register.

He was licking a piece of juicy meat in his dream. He treated it like the most precious magical artifact in the history of Eos itself! Then it hit him.

“Did I just-“

“Yes.” A sweet voice came from above him. His eyes shot up and found two glowing cat eyes staring down on him, filled mirth. Though her head was nearly three feet away, her snow-white hair flowed off her and down the backrest of the couch nearly all the way to him. Randol and Ter’Yut looked at him with dead eyes as two beautiful girls cornered him in his sleep. “I think my little brother has been a little too comfortable here.” Ter’Yut nodded. “The Third Prince is quite shameless. I think I’ll give him some muscle training when we get back to the capital.”

Desmond was used to Navara’s antics, but having the new girl, Avery, join in on it made it double trouble! He had a tolerance to Navara’s beauty, but not Avery’s. His childhood friend had a wild vibe to her. Unrestrained, temperamental, but easily tamed if you could press the right buttons. However, Avery seemed like a refined young lady. “Seemed like” being the keyword. Right now, she looked like any other teenager enjoying a good prank. “I told you he’d do it!” Navara beamed while puffing her chest out.

Avery’s body gently shook as she restrained a laugh. It was a few seconds before she could respond. “Aye. You win, I’ll let you pick out something from the clothes.” She rested on the back of the couch with her stomach as she watched Navara tip some meat-grease on the tip of her nose and brought it close to Desmond’s mouth. Navara had mentioned that she could get Desmond to lick her nose in his sleep and she hadn’t believed her.

But she lost this bet.

Despite the other two’s words, the prank had lightened the mood in the house as the girls went back to Avery’s room while Randol handed his brother a plate of meat. “What’s this?” Desmond asked as he picked up a piece of diced meat and bite into it like a rabbit. “Greater Dragon’s meat, apparently.” Ter’Yut said in passing as he finished off his third plate. Desmond looked at him for a moment before the piece of meat fell from his hands and down onto his dirty clothes.

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GGCE 3 – When the gods close a door. . .(3)

Where grand doors should have been, was only crumbled wall and rubble that littered the uneven cobblestone road. The whole group stopped at the entrance, staring in shock. “Everyone be careful… The passage of time didn’t down this gate. It was breached. I don’t know how long ago either. There might be unexpected residents here.” Desmond’s big brother hollered, scaring a flock of ravens perched on the city’s edge.

Desmond’s big brother Randol looked back and saw the students not bothering to pull their weapons. “That means get your weapons out kids. Large ruins could house a number of dangers!” He hissed, displeased.

Navara and Desmond glanced at each other, a sheen of excitement, but also a hint of caution. Both of them reached from under their cloaks and pulled out their wands. Staves were the traditional magic user catalyst, but wands were also useable – just harder to use. On explorations, they often went for wands as they were lighter and easy to carry when delving into ruins.

It was said that the ancients could cast without using chants or magical catalysts such as staffs and wands, but when they did, they were heaven-defying. Able to summon the elements into massive storms and magical wonders. Some were said to even summon mounts from thin air. Now, chantless magic was considered the exception rather than the rule. Many of those wonderful spells lost to time when they all disappeared, leaving only empty castles and lands.

And Fable’s end was considered the nirvana of all magic. The tomb city of the Hearth Mother. The Ancient who united the other ancient against the forces of evil. Even defeating the Demon King and taking his very fortress as her home!

Statues of her even have the power to repel monsters and demons. They were often found by major roads and areas she had once visited. Yet now, the Theocracy had declared them symbols of heresy, almost all could only be found in the wilderness. Used only by Monster Hunters who used them as camps. It’s even said that the Guild of Hunters had a map of all known statues in the wilderness, but denies it.

Fortunately for Desmond, they had managed to dig up the stone tablet in his hand in ruins nearly a hundred miles from here. While there were many written accounts, most were lost to time or war. Very few accounts were left, leaving the tablet in Desmond’s hand a priceless historical artifact Looking down, Desmond reread the ancient Elven text as the other students sighed and pulled their armaments from their sheaths and bags.

[Here slumbers the child of Death and Life, Gods of Moon and Sun.

Rejected from their original, they created Eos to embrace her.

Yet, now ]

When the Ancients disappeared, the world – who depended on them – was plunged into long years of darkness. War, monsters, and demons plagued the land because the heroes were not around to hold them back. Soon the makeup of the land changed. This meant that historical documents and accounts were lost to time as well, leaving many of the Ancients’ ruins to be forgotten. Even Fable’s End was lost.

The world’s largest mountain it was called in its time. Such a grand geographical landmark should have been already explored, but the world was vast. It sat in a sea of trees nearly thirty feet tall and populated with strong monsters. With the world fighting with the Demons, they couldn’t spare much manpower to the exploration of ruins. Leaving the task to would-be adventurers, monster hunters, and Academies.

Desmond managed to find a map to Fable’s End inside the ruins of a guild called Holy Paws. Strange name, but apparently the Hearth Mother was the leader… However, this tablet rested with the map. It only then did Desmond find out that this amazing discovery had a problem.

Fable’s End rested in an unexplored area that was teeming with dangers. He didn’t trust to tell his father, who would have happily given it to his Crown brother Edin, he managed to persuade his second brother Randol to gather a team and go. However, Randol said on the basis the school list it as a free-exploration. Meaning students could sign up, but they were free to pick a place to explore and keep what they find if they found anything on their exploration.

They managed to pick up people with his brother’s name listed on the security team though…

Looking at the small gathered students from his Academy, most the girls joined to try to woo his brother while the boys who joined either joined with the girls or came to explore and maybe fight some monsters since they could only leave the city on explorations.

Most of the girls held wands in their hands, some even had full staves. Decorated with small ornate carvings and or trinkets, they shuffled uneasily when they held them. The entire trip here was oddly peaceful, with a few monsters that were dispatched by the knights; the students hardly had to lift a finger.

Now they all brandished their weapons with the boys taking the lead with swords and some wands, standing behind the knights – they began to weave through the rubble of the old gates.  Desmond took up the rear with Navara, not keen on trying to show off like his fellow students, he examined his surroundings with interest.

The first thing to greet them once they made it over the rubble was three, five-foot tall grey stone barricade blocks nearly three foot wide and three foot thick. They were uneven and appeared to have been chiseled hastily. The uneven stones were now worn by countless seasons with the scars of war marking them. The structures on the inside were attached to the wall further out, making any invaders having to go through the narrow blockade.

Nature had somewhat reclaimed the ruins as grass grew heavily on the ground with patches here and there of weather-worn cobblestone. Thick vines climbed the structures around them. Even trees grew on the rooftops, but that may have been planted there.

Advancing further, the knights noticed that the stone barriers were pushed inward by the collection of cobblestones and their formations behind them. The knights gave each other a look “What’ca think did this?” One knight said to Randol, gesturing with his head to the blocks. Randol took a quick look then looked at the buildings on either side. Vegetation climbed the walls of the structures he assumed military in nature. Through the small patches of visible wall, large scratch marks could be seen.

“Something we don’t want to find out.” Randol sighed before telling everyone to keep moving.

The city itself was laid out in a strange fashion. The buildings were set into blocks of two, with the main road leading straight through. The main road itself was nearly thirty feet in length with the side roads only fifteen. The destruction of the buildings on the main road was heavy. Grass covered craters, half-collapsed buildings, and even some half-skeletons remains strewn around one intersection. They didn’t even bother to go down the side roads. Most of the mere blockaded with those grey stones with a few broken through.

“Whoever invaded this place must have been serious about it…” One of the student warriors cooed in amazement at the destruction of the main street. “Probably the demons. Fable’s End was the old base of the Demon King before the Hearth Mother defeated him.” Desmond said nonchalantly.  The students in front turned in shock. “H-Hearth mother? Wait! This is Fable’s End?! The tomb city?!” one of the girls cried out.

Desmond looked confused” Yeah. Didn’t you guys read the exploration notice?” The students who were shocked now turned and just looked forward with false curiosity “This place is pretty nice.”, “Yeah, I was looking forward to this place the whole trip!” and other mutterings. Navara laughed then whispered in Desmond’s ear “Hehe, not everyone is as scholarly as you Dessy. Most people don’t read the bulletins so long as they have a chance to go out into the world for free”

Desmond’s brows scrunched up, not understanding why they’d do such a thing. “Don’t bother, you won’t understand their plight!” She said with a dramatic gesture of almost fainting. She had known Desmond since he first came to the Academy and had a crush on him since then. Sadly for her, he stuck his nose into books too much to notice. In the end, she was happy to spend more time with him knowing his family situation wasn’t good. So long as their time was peaceful, that’s all that mattered in the now.

After half an hour, they came to a major scene of a battle. Large skeleton remains of a giant monster boar the size of a noble carriage laid to the left of the road. The building caving around it. A large gash in the road crossed over to the right side and through a large hole into a two-story corner building. ” Damn!” One of the students said as he walked over to the skeleton remains. “What kind of monster is this?” He asked as he toed it with his leather boot.

“Not sure. There were a lot of species it could belong too.” Randol answered half-heartedly as he and a few knights examined the hole in the wall. The hole in the building across from the remains was slightly larger than them. “Whatever killed it, came from here…” One of the knights said off-handedly.

He was about to step in before a figure crashed into him. “Gah!” He fell backward onto his rear trying to steady himself. As his fellow knights readied themselves to fight, they noticed it was just a White-Dotted Mountain deer. It’s beautiful huge antlers bobbing as it ran down the main street startled. “Haha! Almost done in by a deer! I’ll make sure to put that on your tombstone!” The knight closest to the down man said as he helped him back up. “Yeah, I’ll tell your wife that you got felled by a great whore!”

“You damnable old man!” the knight growled before slapping his gloved hand on the man’s back. “Alright, keep it in check or I’m telling both your wives that you got felled by whores.” Randol said as he walked stuck his head through the hole. Once he checked there weren’t any more deer inside, he made his way inside. “Don’t be like that Captain!” They both said while chuckling.

After a few minutes of the group waiting outside and examining the destruction, Randol called out to Desmond. “Little Dessy, come look at this!” Navara and Desmond looked at each other before they both went through the opening. Inside, the layout reminded Desmond of an inn. WIth worn polish floor, dusty from the passage of time aside from the large black marks leading out the hole, it was relatively intact.

At the end of the marks was a largely armored golem. It’s entire left side completely crumpled or torn off with its head half smashed. It’s armor rusting away, it looked pitiful; even to Desmond. “Ancient tech?” Randol gestured to the golem with his right hand, sword sheathed. “Yeah, but it’s not salvageable. The fact that the metal hasn’t rusted completely away with this much exposure means the armor is either magically imbed or it’s a higher tier than steel.” Desmond said as he made his way to the front of the golem.

After poking around, Desmond sighed. “It’s not steel, I can tell that much. However… Nothing can be salvaged due to the damage.” Desmond kneeled by the outlaying left hand.”Poor thing… Died protecting it’s home.” Three rays of light poured in through the three windows on the second floor with the middle one. Even with the heavy rust, there were still large gashes. Guessing by the layout of the scene, it was probably from tusks that made those marks

“They’re just magical familiars, don’t get sentimental over them…” Randol said. He didn’t feel a thing about them. They were made for war. “Yeah..” Desmond replied half-heartedly with a frown. He did feel for them though, but he assumed they were treated much better by the mistress of this city.

. . . . . . .

Shortly thereafter, the group left the ruined building, stepping back out on the main road. The further in they got, the more fierce the tells of war became. Indents in the road, filled with still rainwater that reflexed the sky. Eventually, the barricades on the side streets were long gone, but no one felt brave enough to go down them alone. They came to an intersection of a terrible skirmish. The remains of a Gaint, torn apart with its moss-covered limbs strewn across the road.

Several golems rested, thrown about. Two rested against a wall, leaning on each other – upper bodies caved in. Another golem’s lower body dangled half ripped from its body from the building’s roof, two stories above. Legs dangling with long vines curling down and hanging from the tips of its feet. Two halves of a single golem rested in the now bony hands of the giant.

The scene sent a chill up their spines, leaving everyone silent as they weaved through the old battlefield. Scenes like those became more common the closer they got to the Elven city’s center. Trudging through piles of rubble or bones, they kept moving. Randol kept stopping every now and again. He had a nagging feeling like someone… or something… was watching them.

Pushing through thick overgrowth, the explorers found themselves walking into a large clearing. The clearing was two-by-two football fields large, with large craters and remains littered it sparsely. Most of them rested at the foot of a circular stone platform the nearly twenty-feet in diameter. On top rested a statue draped in moss and vines as if someone had covered it with a thick blanket of nature. A few nests dotted the shoulders, but they were empty and long abandoned.

The group began to spread out, seeing the destruction of the buildings on the edge. Some examined the golems and skeletons. Desmond, however, walked up to the statue – his curiosity peaked. The platform itself was nearly half his height. With some effort, he heaved himself onto it and noticed there was a stone tablet resting, untouched by time or weather; resting in a snug fitting at the foot of the statue. Broken in half, he got to his knees and examined it.

There was a missing piece and the tablet piece in his hand fit!

‘Place it… Free her…’ A lone voice whispered sweetly in his ear. For a moment, he felt his hands move on their own. “Desmond!” Navara had followed him but stood off the platform as she checked out a strange skeleton hidden under a Golem’s body. She had just glanced at Desmond when she saw him shiver before reaching to put the tablet piece into the hole!

But before she could even stop him, the piece fell into place and Desmond blinked with confusion at what he had done. Before he could even think about what happened, the tablet glowed and hummed before it exploded into a blue blinding light and a concussive wave sent the two flying backward!

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The Fox and The Demon | Silver, and Steel, Ears and Tail.

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The Griffon reared back onto its hind legs as a man, tall and broad, plunged his longsword through its ribs; into its heart. The momentum of the force pushed the magical beast over, and onto the large cargo wagon behind it. It landed on the rear right wheel, crushing it along with the rear of the bed.

“EEEEEE!” A squeal emitted from beneath the broken wagon.

The sound, comparable to a pig being hoisted into a vat of boiling water, came from a fat man in a dusty green doublet and pinstriped pants; wet between the crotch. He pulled himself out from beneath the left side of the wagon as he turned to look back at his destroyed wagon.

“My wagon!” He shrieked.

Revell twisted his sword, sure to wiggle it around to destroy the heart and all the surrounding organs. The Griffon had lived for a few seconds longer before it went limp in the heap of broken wood. He ignored the indignant and insufferable merchant as he pulled the sword from the body. Wiped the blade off on one of the merchant’s ruined blankets before he inspected the damage to it.

The blade, silver infused dwarven steel, held its edge without a single nick. Revell sighed with relief in his heart.

The griffon had fought hard against him, hunger and desperation seemed to be the reason why it fought hard against him without trying to escape. He was lucky for such an opportune moment to attack and ended it before it got even more desperate. Revell stood over the body, his ink-black eyes sizing up the body. He would have to figure out what to do with it if the merchant didn’t take it.

At six and a half feet, broad-shouldered and lean, and muscular; he couldn’t exactly carry the corpse away. The beast was four feet tall and just as long as he was tall. While it could fly, with its large wings and bird head. It still had a lions body and weighed close to a ton.

With a gloved leather hand, he combed his long hair back with his fingers. It glistened in the sunlight with sweat, revealing his tanned face. Sharp ink eyes sat upon a large scar that cut across his left cheek and the bridge of his nose, just below the eyelid. A short unkempt beard framed his masculine face as he turned to the merchant who was in the middle of trying to right the iron cage of slaves.

Revell was hot in his faded black leather armor. His undyed cotton shirt and pants were soaked. No ornate designs graced the leather armor, but to a keen eye, it was definitely high end. He laid the sword across the griffon’s body, his back sheath for the sword discarded further away and unbuckled the steel longsword that dangled from his hip. He placed it with the other sword, careful not to damage any of the potions nestled into the two side pouches attached.

He went over to the purple-faced merchant as he tried to right the cage and lifted it with ease. Compared to regular men, Revell was a born killer, his body enhanced by magic to be stronger than the average man. Along with constating training, the cage weighed no more than eight hundred pounds with the malnourished slaves in it. Even the iron bars were thin but sturdy enough to take a beating.

The cage had flopped onto the grass beside the narrow beaten path as the slaves groaned in agony from being banged around. Others cried out in pain as a few of their limps had been unfortunately trapped beneath the bars. The griffon had tried to take off with the cage. Under normal circumstances, it would have too, if it hadn’t been weakened by whatever misfortunes had plagued the beast.

“H-Help…” One of the slaves begged Revell, but he ignored it.

Blood and dirt clung to the outer bones as the wounded slaves clung to their mangled limbs. Revell only turned to the heaving merchant.

“I’ll collect my payment now.” Revell stated.

“B-But my slaves are damaged!” He said.

He couldn’t believe he had to pay when the majority of his product had been damaged.

“That is not my problem.” Revell said coldly. “I intervened on your request. The request to save you. I have killed the griffon, and you’re still alive. Ten Reyenian Roses was the offered amount, and I will collect. Even if I have to kill you.”

While the merchant was unhappy about the loss of the wagon and his slaves still injured. He wasn’t stupid enough to argue with the man who single-handled killed a griffon.

“Y-Yes!” He squeaked and scampered off to the second wagon at the front. Unlike the last one, uncovered and used to haul, the next one was fancier. Covered with a cloth that arched over another five feet, it was longer and appeared to be where the man had slept. However, given the outside, the suggested area inside was painfully smaller. Revell made note of that should the merchant try to short him on the payment.

Not like he could run, all his guards and coachmen had run, and his slaves would have to be transported on the lead wagon.

The merchant fumbled around the lead wagon as he searched for his money, but seemed to be frantic. He turned his attention to the slaves. A closer inspection revealed all of them were female and no older than fourteen by the looks of it. Every girl was bound by their legs, connected to each other by two short chains that would allow them to walk in tight single file lockstep should they be allowed out.

Only four of the ten were hurt, not that he cared enough to do anything.

He went back to the griffon and put his belt back on. Then he retrieved the other disregarded sheath. Once he returned, he found a very nervous merchant waiting by the dead monster.

“H-Honored sir…” His tone suggested that Revell was not going to like the next part. “I seemed to have… Offered over my means… I only have two Reyenian Roses on me..”

He froze as Revell’s eyes narrowed on the man. His hand tightened around hilt by his hip.

“I-I can offer you slaves!” He backed away with his hands up. “You can have all the girls in the cage there!”

He pointed to the cage he had helped right, but Revell was no interested in slaves. Should he require companionship, he was more than willing to drop a few coppers or silvers in a brothel. Slaves would only slow him down on the road and the girls, while attractive for the average man, was dirt in his eyes. He had slept with noblewomen and high-end pleasure women.

Yes, he had slept with young girls around that age before, but they weren’t worth the annoyance. They also weren’t worth the effort to heal them, not to mention, the whole lot would barely fetch a single Reyenian Rose should he have the patience to actually sell them for a good price.

“They’re not worth a single Rose to me.” Revell said after he got his emotions under control.

“Nonsense!” The merchant gasped. “Those girls alone cost me three Reyenian Roses SaltPoint! Not-!”

“Then you’re an idiot as well as as a debtee now.” Revell growled, his patience slowly crumbled. “Those young girls would be worth the coins if they were healthy and prettier, but they’re just the average girls. And they’re injured now.”

The reality of the situation finally hit the merchant as he turned to the cage, the information slowly seeping in.

“But-But-!” He tried to refute, but Revell only cut him off again.

“Not only did you pay too much.” Revell swept the two wagon file with his left hand. “I can tell how new you are by how shitty your guards were. Not to mention you would try and bring such merger slaves this far north. The cities have no lack of slaves. If you have something outstanding, of course, it would have been worth it, but you do not.”

“I do!” The merchant said indignantly, but he regretted it the moment he said it.

Like a wolf who had found a plump sheep ripe for the kill, Revell smiled at him.

“Then if it is, I’ll take it.” He said happily.

« ∇ »

“Name!” The gate officer sun with boredom while he graced them with an upward glance from his desk.

“Revell Swallow.” Revell answered.

“And the… girl?” The officer’s eyes perked up.

The sun slowly sunk behind the horizon as Revell sat on a healthy brown chestnut horse. Seated in front of him so she couldn’t escape, was a cloaked slave. At a quick glance, they were an interesting pair, but nothing that begged a closer look. That was until the officer noticed how the cloak seductively formed over two nice lumps on the cloaked girl’s chest.

“A slave.” Revell answered as his hand rose from the reins and pulled the collar of the cloak a little, revealing a thin steel collar etched with magical runes.

“Ah.” The officer muttered as he stared, almost entranced by the lovely shape. The cloak was made for Revell, and it enveloped the girl like a blanket rather than a cloak.

“Can we go?” Revell asked, annoyed the man was staring at his new property.

“Huh?” The officer snapped his eyes away from the slave’s breasts and looked to the man.

“I asked, honored Sir, if we may go?” Revell repeated his question, more respectfully. “We are tired and wish to find a place to rest.”

The officer’s eyes narrowed and he inspected the horse, hoping to find a reason to keep the two longer so he could see if the girl was pretty. Then he saw the head of the griffon tied to the side of the horse.

“Oi!” He sat up from his desk. “I-Is that a Griffon’s head?!”

Unlike the officer, the soldiers who kept the peace at the entrance and on the wooden draw bridge had already noticed the monster head. Rather, the alluring slave sitting between the warrior’s legs was overlooked because of this by them.

“Yes.” Revell sigh. “I killed it a few miles back when I save the slave merchant.”

He pointed turned slightly on the blanket saddle to the fat pale merchant behind him. The merchant only smiled wearily when he saw, but he said nothing. He was still sore about Revell’s “Compromise.” Though, it worked out in the man’s favor anyways – at least as favorable as it could when you owned a debt to a man who could break you in half.

“A-Ah.” He stared blankly at it. “I-I can pay you for the kill. The city pays for the dispatch.”

“I am aware.” Revell nodded. “I would like to be paid for my efforts.”

« ∇ »

Night had prevailed by the time they left the guard station. Revell kept the reward money with the rest under his armor. The horse trotted happily down the dirt main road as throngs of people filled it. A few wagons slowly rolled through, along with a few carriages, but the pace was slow. Revell did not mind the pace at all but took in the sights and smells. It had been a while since he had visited a lively town. His line of work often took him to troubled places, but this time, it took him to the trade city of Solilla.

Orange light filled the road from open windows and open shop fronts, and everyone was busy. Revell smiled slightly as he watched the top of the hood on the slave twitch. She seemed interested in their surroundings and felt the base of her tail twitch between his legs. He looked down and saw the end of it was swaying much more than the base led him to believe. She was definitely pleased, oddly enough, it made him slightly happy.

He stopped the horse beside a stall that was selling beef sticks, a commoner’s delicacy; one he had come to enjoy himself.

“Sir stall owner.” Revell raised his voice as he came to a stop.

“Ha, what can I do you for?” The man answered without looking up. An empty greased covered plate sat next to the man’s grill as he was preparing another patch of food.

“I wish to purchase some food.” Revell pulled a silver coin from his armor. “And ask where I can find a comfortable inn.”

The man finally looked up with a single raised eyebrow.

“Beef sticks, five coppers each.” He said, “I can recommend ya’ an inn if ya’ want.”

Revell smiled and dropped the silver coin on the greasy plate.

“Preferably once in a nice part of the city.” He said with a pleasant smile.

« ∇ »

Revell began to strip off his armor beside the large table by the door. First, his swords and placed them on one end, then his chest leather. Then the legs. Revell sniffed his shirt and cringed back from the smell. It smelled horrid and he saw the slave sitting at the chair to his left cringe away as well.

They had been recommended a nice cozy tavern closer to the main square, and he got the nicest room there. It came with dinner and breakfast; clothes cleaning; a large room with a bathroom; and a nice view of the main square. He planned to be a while in the town and he could easily earn a Reyenian Rose a day if he put forth the effort. A man of his skill was in demand.

Though, oddly, only picked this tavern because of the girl. He would have been fine in any shit tavern, so long as the rooms weren’t complete messes. But he had to be considerate of the person with him, at least, until he figured out what to do with her.

“What’s your name, girl?” Revell asked.

“Alesana.” She answered with a sweet, but meek voice.

She didn’t hold herself like a common girl, but she also didn’t scream high born. She felt… lost.

“Alesana.” He said. “I’m thinking of what to do with you.”

Her silvery eyes widened for a moment before she looked away.

“The fat human said I would probably…” She paused as she chewed the words. “Be a pleasure girl for a noble…”

The room went quiet for a moment as Revell’s hand froze and the music from below became barely audible before he finished taking off the last piece of leather.

“I see.” Revell said, unsure how to respond to the bluntness of it.

“I.. I’ve never been with anyone before.” She said. ” I doubt I’d be any fun…”

On the contrary, Revell looked at her small and pretty fair face. While she was a beast girl, with two large fox ears with long, unkempt, dull black hair. She was still wearing the cloak, as she was nude beneath and refused to be bare for him to see. She was quite a beautiful woman by even his standard. He had already seen her nude when he found her in that slaver’s special cage. She had flawlessly fair skin, lovely breasts that could fill his hands nicely, and large thighs.

She wasn’t fat at all, in fact, Revell surmised she had even lost a few pounds as her ribs were quite pronounced. She was “Petite”, but also “Well endowed. A pleasant combination that made him itch to try her tonight for his troubles.

“So, how did you become a slave?” Revell asked as he pulled a fresh cotton shirt that he had purchased from one of the stalls in the square.

“I..” She paused. “… Couldn’t pay my debts.”

Revell kept his eyes on her, but he wanted to laugh at how terrible of a lie that was. Her words said the words, but her expression betrayed her lie.

“I see.” Revell nodded.

Slave collars tied the slave’s life to their owner. Should the Owner die, the slaves die. A one-way relationship. It also prevented the slave from harming its owner, because of the life magic, but it couldn’t make a slave obey an order, nor tell the truth. At least, not this low-level slave collar. Such magic was left to the nobility due to their restrictive costs. It mattered little how or where she came from.

“Well, that’s enough for now.” Revell said as he stripped his lower garments.

The girl’s pretty face burned red as she covered her eyes, but she peeked through the gaps in her fingers with burning curiosity. He kept his amusement to himself and put on his new clothes.

“Put on your clothes.” He threw the folded cotton dress to her.

It lacked any ordination and frills, but it was a quality dress. Made for those who wanted to be comfortable, but didn’t want the bells and whistles such clothing often came with.

« ∇ »

The dinner hall was full of life as three bards played the lute, a flute, and a drum; competing over the conversations of the most drunk patrons as barmaids shuffled between the tables with meals and drinks. The room was well lit between the hung lanterns and the large hearth. Revell drank in the room from his corner seat as Alesana sat across from him.

The plaza was visible through the rather large, but not entirely transparent glass pane windows at the front of the tavern. The room was clean, pleasant, and gave a homely feel. After a few weeks on the road, Revell was thoroughly done with sleeping on the ground for a while.

“Are you sure I can sit here…?” Alesana asked timidly, her eyes flickering between the signs on the wall and the warrior.

“Yes.” Revell sighed.

“Are-” She was cut off.

“For the last time, yes.” Revell said and glared at her.

She had asked for the tenth time. Revell knew because he did keep count. While he wasn’t in the habit of keeping slaves, by law they were considered property. Thus, he treated them like he did his gear; well. Rather, how he would treat a pet. Really well. Revell was not under the illusion that most people often found themselves when they had a slave.

The notion that a living being was considered property, in their minds, often forgot that the living beings needed to eat, drink, sleep, and shit. They had beliefs, ideas, and emotions. They were a more complicated pet in essence, but one that could “Legally” pleasure their owner or someone they wish to have pleasured. Cook, clean, and care for others, but still; they had to be cared for like any other being.

What made slaves hard to keep was that they were another mouth to feed and people often viewed slaves beneath them. Even those in the slums. They were not considered people.

“Here’s one seasoned venison soup and one cold Cloud Mountain ale. From a fresh barrel no less.” A barmaid appeared beside their table.

She placed items in front of Revell with a flirtatious smile. She bent low enough to give, by Revell’s own standards, a pitiful view of her pitiful cleavage. The girl was still young, but what he saw was enough to even give her the stink eye. That is if she wasn’t the one that was supposed to bring his food. The barmaid left him with a small wink as she turned away. There was nothing for Alesana, so Revell slid his food and drink to her.

“But you need to eat too.” She stared down at the soup and drink.

“I do, but you need some food in you.” Revell said matter of factly. “I’m not naive to the ways merchants treat their slaves. Don’t worry, I ordered two portions.”

Revell’s left eye raised to the woman’s concern, trying to figure if the worry was feinted, being polite, or actually sincere. She looked down at the soup with furrowed eyes then looked to her owner.

“You fought a griffon today.” She stated and pushed the meal back. “You need to replenish your nutrients.”

Revell smiled. She had unwittingly given away that she was not of low birth, but how high, he didn’t care. Low born persons could not read, but yet she kept staring at the sign that said “slaves were not welcomed in the dining hall” in the dining hall. She also new of nutrients and spoke proper. Revell was almost sold on keeping her just for the help. A smart slave would definitely be worth the Reyenian Roses. Smart slaves could go a high as fifty Reyenian Roses depending on their ability.

“I did.” He said and pushed the meal back, enjoying the banter. “But I want you to eat first.”

“But you need to eat.” She frowned. “My father could eat nearly a quarter of a -”

She covered her mouth, and her eyes went wide. Then they seemed to deflate.

“Do not mind that..” She said quietly. “I’ll eat…”

Revell may have had little in the way of company, but he still had the tact to not push the girl. He could see the sadness on her shoulder. He was slightly happy that she wore her heart on her sleeve as she did. It was… Innocent of the world… An innocence he had not seen in years.

A few songs later, Alesana had only eaten drank the soup and eaten the soft vegetables. She ate with such grace that Revell had been captivated by her. It was not often one saw a lady eat with such manners, and the ones that did, it was often discourteous to stare at them. He had only known how much time had passed because Alesana had brought it up.

“My….” She bit her lower lip as she mused over the words. “… Lord?”

Her eyes were on him, so he knew she was trying to address him.

“Revell is fine.” He smiled. “I’m no lord.”

“Revell…” She savored the word. “Well, Revell. It’s been a while, but you haven’t eaten.”

She pushed the soup over to him. It was mostly full and the ale had only been sipped at.

“It was delicious.” She nodded. ” But you need to eat.”

Revell frowned.

“I told you, I had ordered two portions.” He stared into the soup before he looked around.

“It’s been longer than twenty minutes.” Alesana commented. “I wanted to wait until you had gotten your food. I didn’t want to offend you by eating first.”

Revell felt his patience with the girl running dry, then her words registered in his mind. He waved over the barmaid from earlier, and she was more than happy to come running to the handsome warrior.

“Yes?” She smiled flirtatiously again, putting more curve into her hip.

“Where is the food I ordered for the girl?” Revell gestured with his hand to Alesana.

“Ah…” She stared blankly.

It was only a flash, but both of them saw the flicker of disgust on the corner of her lips before her smile returned.

“I must have forgot.” She said, not addressing the slave.

She disappeared for a few minutes before she returned a bowl and a mug. She haphazardly slapped them on the table with an attitude before she turned to Revell.

“There ya’ go, love.” She grinned.

The broth was obviously the same as his soup, but there was barely any meat in it as well as vegetables. It and the mug were half full and Revell could tell just by the smell the mug was not fresh. It still smelled of food from the patron who had used it maybe not a few minutes ago. Alesana peaked down it and saw there was even visible backwash.

The barmaid was about to leave when Revell gripped her right wrist with his left.

“I do believe her food should look like mine came.” He growled with a chillingly low tone.

“She’ll get sc-” She was cut off by Revell.

“She’ll get what I paid for.” The growl turned into a menacing snarl. “The girl is my property, and I expect her to be treated you would treat any other piece of property I own – With care. Bring me the food I paid for.”

The girl only scrambled away and bumped a few tables. The music stomped for a moment as the bards had seen the altercation. Thus, the rest of the room had seen it as well. A few minutes passed by before a slightly hefty man with a cooks apron appeared. He was bald and rested his hands on his hips.

“I heard you laid your hands of the girls.” He said with a frown.

“I did.” Revell said and stared up at the man. “She failed to deliver the second portion I ordered. When I brought it up, she brought me this soup and mug, very obviously just used by another patron, to me.”

The music in the room had stopped again and the other patrons looked on with interest. A few even threw a few comments.

“Cat brought that?” One man asked.

“Must be lyin’.” Another said.

“My girl would never do that.” He glared at the warrior. “And we don’t allow slaves in the dining area. So how about you apologize to her or I’ll beat your ass and throw you both into the street.”

Alesana kept her head down, but she visibly stiffened.

“I paid ten silver for the night.” Revell commented as he drummed his fingers on the wooden table. “For your best room. I had just killed a griffon earlier today and I’m quite hungry, and tired, but I can still fight if that’s what you want. ” Revell’s fingers stopped and came to a rest before he slid his sword hand under the table.

OTC 2 \\ RABBIT DOWN

Proofed by: Valthan

“They’re fighting again, Mom.” I whined, half bored, half just… Tired. I sat on a chair I pulled up to her bed, and laid my head on its edge. I stared at my mother’s face, pale and sunken. One of the machines tied to her beeped in short, constant, intervals. Another helped her breathe. She looked so peaceful. In contrast, I could hear my older brother arguing with my dad in the hall. It was because of something Jacob said. Something that neither I or dad wanted to hear. That Mom was going to go away soon. We all knew it, but it was… It was something none of us wanted to think about.

“You shouldn’t have opened your goddamn mouth!” I heard my dad scream at my brother. I wondered how long it would take for a nurse to stop them, or maybe everyone else was scared of the two bears clawing at each other in the hall. My eyes burned from the dried tears. I just wanted some peace. More than that, I wanted Mom to open her eyes. I wanted her to wake up and stop them from hurting each other.

Without her here, we were tearing each other apart. Dad hadn’t slept in the house in months. Jacob stayed at his friends and I was left all alone in that big house. Just the other day, Jacob started yelling at me the moment he walked in when I tried to hug him. Because I was happy that, for a moment, I wouldn’t be all alone anymore. I didn’t understand anything anymore. The world was just… Broken.

“I can’t wait to join the army, then you can’t say shit!” Jacob barked and I hear the two of them going at each other. I was scared deep down. That one of these days, they would hit me too. I wasn’t strong like them, and they were a lot bigger. Dad was twice my size and Jacob was right up there with him. Me? I was an average kid… Maybe just a little weaker.

I remembered something and sat up. I pulled ruffled through my backpack and pulled out a sketchbook. “I drew something today!” I said to my mom. “Ms. Hensley says I’m a good drawer for a middle-schooler!” I beamed as I flipped through to the doodle I made in class today. I turned the book for her to see. Two hands holding a handful of California poppies; her favorite flower.

“I suck at hands,” I said with a small smile. “But I’m definitely good at flowers.” The silence hung in the air for a few minutes. I knew she wouldn’t respond, yet, I had hoped she would. We weren’t whole without her. She had been like this for a month and we were already at each other’s throats. My uncles and aunts were already circling, asking about her will…

I slumped back into the uncomfortable hospital chair, then I realized that I couldn’t hear the others anymore. I looked at the hospital door and strained my ears. Nothing.

I turned to look out the window. It only took a few seconds for them to start arguing outside the hospital. I died a little inside at that. It seemed I was the only one who really loved her. None of them ever sat with her, and all they would do is argue when they saw each other. They rarely spoke with me, and recently, even began to avoid me. That was until Jacob and I had that little fight. That fight caused this fight, though I suspected it was just a good enough excuse to fight it out again.

The few trees the hospital was allowed to have swayed side to side. I had a sudden inclination to find out if the breeze was nice. I got up and walked to the window. I unlatched it, slid it open, and a nice fresh breeze tickled me. It was colder than the hospital was. Mom was lucky that Dad dropped a lot of money on a VIP room with a real window that could be opened.

I heard the guys screaming at each other, but I didn’t understand a word. Something else caught my attention.

A woodpecker was going to town on one of the trees closest to the window. I was on the fourth floor, but the tree was almost trimmed bare. The thuds its beak made as it shredded the tree’s inside sounded eerily like machine gun fire. Then I looked down. A straight fall down. I looked to the woodpecker again, and it somehow seemed louder. I heard faint voices and I looked down again.

“Get off the ledge, Kian!” Jacob screamed up at me, and I realized I was sitting on the window ledge, my legs swinging like it was just another day. Dad was gone, but I didn’t care. He was always gone. Always. Gone.

I looked back to the bird, but this time, the tree was covered in blood. The bird’s attack roared just like a heavy machine gun. “Wake up!” I heard a different voice, and I fell forward.

« † »

“Wake up, kid!” The scene was washed away and the sun was chased away by the darkness. The constant gunfire of the .50 Heavy Machine Gun, HMG, on the ramp lit the interior of the osprey like a strobe light. The man in front of me had blood smeared across his face. One eye was shut and bandaged; he looked like a monster for a moment… 

I almost screamed on reflex, but he covered my mouth with a bloodied hand. “Shut up!” He growled. After I had managed to regain myself, something that took a few seconds; he let go and handed me a rifle. “Get on the window and shoot those fucking shits!” He said. He quickly unbuckled me and pulled me up. He then guided me with haste towards the front of the helicopter before he stopped short of the final window. Where a dead marine was slumped over with an arrow in his head. 

“Take his place.” He gave me a sharp tug before he disappeared down the hull, another rifle in hand. The concussive waves of the machine gun rattled me, but curiosity won over my fear. I could already tell we’ve crashed, and that there were a few people alive. From the man below, I could see that we’re in some deep shit. But not in the “We’re getting shot up” shit, but something stranger. 

I peaked out the gunner window and… Paled. 

Outside were hundreds of beady red eyes. They glowed in the distance, in between the trees of a forest slightly down. I pulled my head back, and just in time too. A few arrows clattered against the hull, and a few actually made it past the window. I slide myself into a small crevice as my heart finally began to race.  

“What the fuck!” I screamed internally. I was too scared to actually voice it. I wasn’t scared enough to not notice the sudden hellish situation we were in. I got pulled out of bed during an invasion, watched a few of my brother’s friends die; not to mention the city explode with nuclear fire. A small part of me wished that I was the Main Character in a show or something. I’ve had a good one-liner there. 

Or, maybe that was the shock talking. 

For once, since this all happened, I shook like a leaf in a storm. This was not a situation I had been prepped for. House assault? Yeah. People dying? Never seen it in person, but yeah. Nukes going off? Not really, but dad used to talk about it. Crash land somewhere and have hundreds of red-eyed monsters shoot arrows at you? No. Fucking. Way. 

At least bullets would kill you before you knew what happened. I’ve seen enough TV to know that arrows hurt when you pull them out. I took a deep breath, pressed the rifle to my chest with its barrel up. I did not want to stick my head back out. I looked towards the ramp to see if I was even needed. Through the flashes, I could see a few marines pulled into the hull, unmoving. There were two other Marines, aside from the gunner, that had pulled whatever they could out to use as cover. 

One just used a pile of little green… kids? They looked like kids, but when I saw the face…

“Goblins…” I muttered. Anyone who hadn’t lived under a rock knew about goblins. A few stories colored them nice, a few colored them pure evil. None of that mattered, because they were the ones attacking us. Even though they were dead, their eyes still faintly glowed in the moonlight. They looked like little demons with their grotesque faces. 

“Okay, now or never, Kian…” I muttered as I pushed the rifle away. I hadn’t actually looked at what he handed me.  I stared down at the rifle, it was an M27 Infantry Automatic Rifle, or IAR. While I wasn’t versed with an M27, it was the same as a civilian AR; aside from the ability to be switched into fire modes.

I racked the charging handle, with force. Something was sticking the handle. I didn’t want to think about what. A round flung out of the chamber and slapped my stomach before it fell; clattering against the floor. I gulped. Fear told me not to do it. Courage told me that I needed to fight. Sense told me either option would work and we’d all die – probably. 

Finally, another element won out. Pride. I was Kian Willow, the son of a prestigious General of the Army. My brother was a Special Operations Squad Leader, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t fight… The bravado was fake as hell, but… I had to do something, and it worked. I had gotten myself to calm down enough and I took a single deep breath. 

And I stepped back into the window and aimed. 

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The first shot went high and disappeared, but I wasn’t used to ACOGs so it was acceptable. The next shot ruptured the head of the first goblin was attempting to sneak through by crawling. Blood geyser’ed as it cut through the top of its skull. The third shot only kicked up the dirt by it. I got their attention though. I ducked behind the hull as another wave of arrows clattered against the helicopter. 

I waited for a second, nothing else came, and I shot back up. This time, I managed to place two shots into the second goblin as it tried to crawl back to the safety of its nearby rock. With the goblin’s side to me, the first shot skimmed the top of its head, but it seemed to only be a flesh wound as it continued its frantic crawl. The second shot landed center of its small neck and the goblin stopped. The third round kicked up the grass just behind it. The goblin began to thrash wildly, the rest of its small group deserted them in a mad sprint – only to turn into glittering crimson mists as the HMG turned on them. 

This time, I saw the attack before it came. A group of archers forty to fifty feet further from the group I just attacked. They were already drawing their bows and taking aim, but I dropped five rounds into their direction before I dropped down again. The whole length of the attack no more than twenty seconds. 

Click-Cl-Clic-Cl-Cl-Click 

There were fewer arrows this time. I jumped up to throw down more freedom, but a dull mechanical click responded to my trigger pull. I dropped down and brought the rifle up to my face. 

“Fuck!” I screamed. The bolt was locked back, the breech open, and no round insight. I heard the clatter of arrows again and a few even managed to get through the window this time. “Sorry!” I muttered as I pulled the dead marine next to me onto his back. His carrier was drenched with fresh blood, and the strong whiff of it smacked me like I owed it money. 

I gagged and cringed. Another wave of arrows clattered above me, their aim becoming better with each volley. 

I pulled out all the magazines in his carrier, but he only had three forty round magazines full. The four were empty and one was bloodied to all hell. So I left those on the floor. I ejected the spent magazine and, purely on moonlight and luck, managed to load a fresh one in. I turned the rifle on its right side, felt the side up for the bolt-release and pressed it down. The bolt flew forward and the rifle jerked slightly. The feeling was euphoric, in an “I’m not going to die yet” kind of way. 

Another wave of arrows clattered against the hull, but they were almost too loud as the HMG fire stopped. I looked down the interior and saw them reloading it. I took this chance to pop back up and… A horde of red eyes began to close the distance between us as a sea of green began to encircle us… 

« † »

“Fuck! Fuck! Fuck!” One of the marines cried out as a goblin managed to jump on him without hitting the roof of the Osprey. He fell down, and the disappearance of his suppressive fire allowed a few more to slip into the bird. Three… Then when we failed to kill one of the intruders, that one took down another marine. More began to slip in until only three of us were left standing. Somehow, I managed to keep calm. I didn’t feel… Scared. I kept the rifle on semi-auto and just pulled when I had a good shot. 

All I could do was keep my rifle trained on the window. The monsters swarmed us. We could hear them on the roof, jumping. Laughing. Even over the sound of gunshots. There was just so many. We managed to save one of the two marines that went down. But he was horribly wounded. His throat had been nicked when he fought off two of the little shits. The first one that went down… His head had been stabbed into a horrific caved bowl of brains and blood.   

Another goblin appeared in the gunner’s window. 

Bang! 

I didn’t think about it. I reacted on reflex now.The bullet hit the goblin’s chest. The monster was so light that the 5.556 NATO round actually propelled the goblin backward. It had a fifty-fifty chance falling on the ground, or off the cliff. Yeah. The nose of the bird was off the cliff and my window was on the cusp. I didn’t notice until I had seen the little green nightmares jumping on the windshield with rocks and sticks. 

I guess that was the only reason we had lasted this long. With only one direction of obvious attack, we had managed to hold them off. That was until the bolt of the M27 locked back and there weren’t any more magazines for me to grab. 

“I’m out!” I called out. I still had my XM17, but I didn’t know if the 9mm would be good enough to take them, at least, without mag-dumping. I only had a total of twenty magazines for my pistol, not including the one in the pistol itself. But it was all I had now. 

Before I could even bother to ditch the rifle, another goblin appeared in the window. The stars shined upon this one today because I only had a blunt weapon now. I bashed goblin with the butt of the rifle. My mistake, because the little shit grabbed the butt as it screamed an ear-piercing screech as it looked back. With such an ugly face, I was surprised I recognized fear on its face. 

I didn’t hesitate and let go of the rifle as I pushed again. The little green thing clung to the rifle as it screamed, disappearing below the edge of the window. I pulled my sidearm just as another one thought it was lucky today as well, but I gave him a welcome gift to the face. It was only a moment, but I saw its nose burst into a crimson flower as it fell back. This time, the window stayed empty. 

I turned my attention as I stepped further back until I fell back onto the cockpit’s steps. The goblins charging in now. Two marines were standing and the others disappeared underneath the green murderous tidal wave. 

“Get up! Get up!” One of them screamed at me. I didn’t hesitate and scrambled further into the cockpit until I was practically crouching on the instrument center console. The first marine went up the steps as the other one covered him, I kept my pistol trained, ready for him to move up… He never got a chance. 

The moment he turned, and neither of us could actually fire without mowing him down as well, several of the little murderous monkeys clung to his back and another knocked his legs from beneath him with an aimed stick to the back of his legs. He fell backward into the horde. We didn’t wait anymore as a goblin planted his bloodied feet on the first step. 

Bang!-

Several holes emerged in the goblin’s chest as it flung back. Another goblin appeared. Then another, and another. Each one was mowed down until we began to alternate. He kept firing until he had to reload. Then I would cover him. That was until after the second reload, he was out and hand to use the rifle as a club. Without a beat, He went John Wick on one that got through as I tried to reload. 

It jumped at me, but the butt clubbed him in the mouth. I swear I saw teeth go flying, but it may have been my imagination. Now. Now, I was beginning to lose it again. I clamped down on a scream as another jumped at me before the marine could bring the rifle back around. I fell back on the instruments. I felt the windshield hit the top of my head, and I was thankful for the plate carrier I had one. I was sure I would have felt more than just that if I hadn’t.

Without thinking, I kicked out. I saw a look of surprise just before my foot sent the goblin flying back into the next one before it could leap as well. There were only a few seconds before another would take its place, but it gave enough room for the last marine to swing again. Then I finally reloaded. 

And I cursed our luck… 

The next goblin wasn’t the strawberry shortcake doll variety. The butt of the rifle was caught in the hand of a human-sized goblin with big red eyes. Before I could react, a sword stabbed out and buried itself into the man’s stomach. 

TLGRD C3 \\ Thus, the girl was released upon the World

Ashes: Howdy, for those interested in donating to help fund another release of this story, please subscribe to our Patreon. As I stated before, I do not MTL the story, I just hire people to do it for me. I’ve moved to a strictly editorial position because its time consuming while also writing the originals on my site. Tbh, I much prefer keeping it that way. Ya’know, because I like writing a lot. Anywho~ Here are some links:

Patreon – Donate to Death’s Minion to support a slush fund that goes into the hungry maws of Tls or MTLs; Whichever is free to do it.

Raw MTLed doc – For those who want to see what was edited and what wasn’t. 


 

 

◊ Lunar Calendar, year 995 ◊

The era of peace that had lasted for nearly 40 years had come to an end, and the Duvedirica Continent was yet again ravaged by war. Started by a great country to the north, when Emperor Ramazan XIII of the Urthbelt Empire declared he would unify the entire continent. Afterward, the Empire attacked the Farnesse Kingdom, sending their large army to attack the nation on their eastern border.

Initially, the war had only been between those two great powers, The Urthbelt Empire and the Farnesse Kingdom; but the fire of war soon spread to its neighboring countries. Then, eventually, the entire continent…

◊ Lunar Calendar, year 997 ◊

Whilst the countries around the continent became desperate because of the ongoing war, the battle between the two great nations reached a turning point. On the central front, the Empire fulfilled their wishes, that was to land a heavy blow to the Kingdom. The impregnable Kiel Fortress had been captured by the empire. From there, the Empire used the fortress as a bridge to conquer, and annex, the smaller countries; by all means.

The Sutherland City State, on the southern end of the continent, had declared absolute neutrality in the war. They were, however, in league with the Empire. They had deliberately halted the food exports to the Kingdom under the guise of a bad harvest. This lead to numerous of the Kingdom’s citizens to starve to death, in several of their regions. This eventually lead to further civil unrest within. 

The Kingdom, which had relied heavily on the exports from the City State because of its low food production rate, crumbled from their hidden treachery. In addition, the knowledge that the soldiers took most of the food further birthed unrest, and became a major factor in the riots by the Commoners. The Kingdom fell into a vicious cycle; using their soldiers to stop a riot – only then to be the spark of another. 

With the enemies within, and out, of their borders, the Kingdom quickly began to crumble.

◊ Lunar Calendar, year 998 ◊

The Kingdom’s forces were forced to retreat from one town to another. They had no power to fight back but had only managed to maintain enough to keep their defense. As for the Empire, their battle line began to form a circle around the remaining Kingdom’s held territory. It was then that Kingdom Alfonso Sem Garmund of the Farnesse Kingdom made a difficult decision.

It was to dispatch the elites of the First Army, which defended the last fortress that protected their Capital, to recapture Kiel Fortress…

◊ ◊ ◊

On the Est Mountain across from the capital Fiss, located south of the Kingdom, was Galia Fortress. The newly established line of defense of the Kingdom. It was the most important base since it was connected to the capital by a short road. Further to the southwest, and southeast of Kiel Fortress, was Fort Kaspar. A Fort that no longer belonged to the Kingdom.

The villages and towns around the fort were now under the Empire’s rule, and soldiers were stationed along its main road. Vigilant for spies. Due to Galia’s nearby presence, the Empire had to be wary of any enemy movements. During this, at an outpost, Captain Samuel – in charge of monitoring Canary street – saw a girl headed towards the Kingdom’s capital.

She appeared to be either fifteen or sixteen, with a beautiful and delicate doll-like face. Judging from the short red tunic, she must’ve come from a nearby village. With each smooth-foot motion, a thread of silver long hair swayed gently along.

“Ho, well well…” 

He thought as he clicked his tongue when he saw what hung from her waist. A finely made scabbard, unfit to be owned by a mere village girl, dangled from her waist. It was decorated with silver and gold threads. No matter how he looked, it must have been something that belonged to a wealthy noble, probably custom made by one of those brave heroes they told in the history books. Even if the scabbard was sold alone, it would net a lot of money. It was definitely not something fit for a regular village girl.

“If the scabbard is that good, then the sword inside must be amazing.” 

He imagined the sword in his mind, and Samuel couldn’t help but smirk. For a moment, he suspected that she may have been a bandit instead of a village girl, but the thought that crossed his mind was immediately thrown away. It was a well-known fact that this area was controlled by the Empire. With Imperial soldiers regularly patrolling the area, there was no way a lone bandit would carelessly appear in broad daylight.

Samuel tapped the shoulder of the young soldier beside him, Cliff; then pointed to the passing girl.

“Rejoice, Cliff. Here is your first mission, do check up on that girl.”

“Yessir!”

Cliff responded as he saluted, then proceeded to control the girl in an intimidating manner.

“You! The woman over there, halt!”

“… ”

“…”

Disregarding Cliff, the girl never stopped. It was clear that she should have heard him, but her expression was more of that of puzzlement.

“Cliff, try to address the woman ore politely.”

“That’s right. You shouldn’t address people roughly, otherwise, they might get scared and run away.”

The other soldiers came when they saw Cliff ignored.

Being scared of that my arse!

Cliff approached the girl angrily and grabbed her by the shoulder from behind.

“Can’t you hear me? I said halt!”

“Ee? You were talking to me?”

The girl pointed to herself with wide-eyes. She didn’t seem to be pretending. Apparently, she truly just was unaware, but Cliff thought differently as he stepped closer to the girl.

“Are you a fool? Other than you, is there any other woman around here?”

“Ee. You can tell the difference between a man and a woman? I can as well”

The girl then pointed to a female officer among the surveillance team. The person in question was surprised, a look on her face that said “What, me?”. People woul’ve thought she was only messing around, and Cliff’s face turned red with anger.

“Bitch, how dare you make fun of Imperial Soldiers! Do you have a death wish? This area is under the Empire’s Control! No Kingdom’s weakling soldiers here to help you!”

“Ah, so you are Imperial Soldier-san. Each of you are wearing such similar-looking armor, it’s hard to differentiate. I wish I had a book that tells me more about armors.”

The girl spoke with a serious expression. She showed no sign that she was scared of Cliff, her inky black eyes never fluctuated, and her speech flowed smoothly.

“Kukuku. How interesting. A woman with a strong heart.”

Samuel signaled Cliff to stop when the latter was about to draw his sword, but Cliff couldn’t just let go so easily, unaware of these bad feelings that flowed threw his body.

“Please don’t stop me, Captain! She’s clearly insulting us. Please give me permission to execute her right here!”

“Come on now, cut that out. My men must never kill any civilians, especially women. That’s the rule I’m most proud of. Remember that.”

“Though, I’m committed countless crimes against women though.”

Samuel was reminded of the girls from the village he was in charge of. They were boring girls.

“Pardon us for trying to stop you all of a sudden. Well, we were just wondering why you are going to the city while carrying such a fine sword. Anyways, wild beasts may attack out of nowhere… It can be very dangerous if you’re traveling alone. Shall I escort you?”

The nearby soldiers vulgarly laughed when they heard his pretty speech. One of the soldiers even pretended to be a wild beast and rose his hands shaped like claws as he mimicked a beast’s roar. It invited more laughter. They did not notice that the girl remained unfazed.

“Oh, is that so? But I don’t need any escorts though. I’m on my way to the Kingdom to apply to become a soldier. So please stop bothering me, will you?”

They couldn’t process what she said for a short while. Cliff was stunned, and the others were amazed. They began to think that they were dealing with an absolute idiot.

“This is tiring.”

The girl muttered as she resumed her journey toward the Kindom.

“Biiiiiittttcchhhh!”

Cliff finally drew his sword out of anger. At the same time, his hand that held it went flying high into the air. Sometime during the year 998 of the Lunar calendar –

The sky was blue over Canary street.

 

 

TLGRD C2 \\ The Girl and A Death God.

TL Fees are 20usd a Chapter. if you’d like for us to continue with it, please subscribe to our patreon on the homepage. Or you can wait for the other MTL to do it. Entirely up to you guys :D. I had already paid for three chapters to be done before I noticed someone had picked it up. Just wanted to let you guys know what’s what.

 


Ten years had passed since the day that figure had picked the child up, and she grew up within the black tower, along with shadowy figure she came to call “Zet”. They lived beside each other, but that didn’t mean they ate together, played together, or slept with each other. Never. Except for when Zet would observe her did it rarely stay beside her.

Today, was one of those days.

On the training ground built outside the temple, both Zet and the girl exchanged blows with weapons in hand. The girl wielded a pure white sword, Zet carried a large jet-black scythe. When the scythe lightly grazed the girl, only gods knew how many times that had happened already, she retreated to create distance between them. She wiped the sweat that had built up on her forehead with a sleeve as she tried to get her breath in order.

It had been thirty minutes since the observation had begun, and she knew she had reached her limit. Zet rested the scythe on its shoulder as it spoke with a mellowed voice.

“What is wrong? Exhausted already?”

Zet did not mean to demean her, it never did. Zet stated the simple truth after observing her condition. Even so, with a deep breath, she kicked off the ground. The girl got Zet within range of her sword and twisted her body to attack at its flank, but the sword did not reach. Its black scythe swooped downward to redirect her sword, and white sword only ended up pierced into the ground.

“Fumu. Well executed [Swift Feet Technique], but the direction was too linear.”

Zet whispered as if it was only for himself, then it swung the scythe tremendously fast. The girl pulled the sword back and used it as a shield. The blow was so powerful that it caused wind storm-like pressure. She couldn’t withstand it as she was knocked into the air.

“Guh!”

Attacked by a sense of numbness, she was dizzy for a while, but somehow, she bit her own tongue. She regained her clarity and landed back on the ground with her feet. She wiped away the blood that leaked from her mouth. She regulated her breathing and noticed her arms convulsed horribly.

“I’m fine. Not yet… I’m not done yet.”

The girl suppressed the shaking in her hands by force and tightened her grip on the sword. She swung the blade and had set up an [arc]; A sword domain so to speak, allowing her to intercept any attack from any direction, even from a blind spot. It was once of the sword techniques Zet had taught her.

“Are you ready?”

Zet asked as it swung the scythe as if it was as weightless as a twig. The girl tightened her grip.

[E/N: Author said she didn’t reply, but replies afterward, so I removed the conflicting part.]

“I am ready.”
The moment Zet heard her answer, it felt discomfort on its back. It jumped to the side, narrowly dodging a downward swing by a paper-thin margin. The girl had sneaked behind it and raised her sword for another attack, but stopped. She had to stop. What she attacked had merely been Zet’s afterimage, and its blade was now dangerously close to her neck. A cold sweat ran down her forehead.

“Your footwork still needs some polishing. Shall we end it here today?”

With that said, Zet disappeared – melting into the ground. As soon as it left, the pressure surrounding the temple shattered, and serenity returned.

“Thank you for today.”

Once her strength had returned, she thanked the ground where Zet had melted into. The girl’s daily routine was a fixed schedule. Zet taught her many things, which ranged from the continents recent situation, language, war tactics, magic, swordsmanship, and martial arts. Once when they were in the forest, Zet had taught her how to hunt and cook. What it referred to as an “Observation” was more of educating and training for the girl.

One day, during an observation.

Zet told the girl that she was human. It explained to her, in its usually hard to understand speech, but it didn’t mean to confuse her. Then what about Zet? Why did Zet look so different from her, the girl asked.

“What am I? Indeed… I am different from the humans of this world. I am what they call,  ‘Grim Reaper’.”

Once she heard the unexpected reply, the girl’s eyes gleamed. One of the books Zet had brought had described what a “Grim Reaper” was. According to the book, a grim reaper was described as a terrible entity that reaped the souls of humans indiscriminately – The death of all living beings. That was written at the end of the book. When the girl asked Zet if it was here to reap her soul.

“That is a false assumption. We never directly reap the souls of living beings, only those who are about to die. After a human dies, it’ll be too late for us to reap their soul.”

It said. To be exact, the “grim reaper” in the book was depicted to wear a ragged cloak, but Zet, right now, looked like a shadow that flickered and burned. If she had to choose which one to believe, she’d chose Zet, and so, the girl deemed the book as fraudulent.

The girl aked after a session of sword training; the swordsmanship and martial arts she’d been learning – the art to kill other humans -, what was it useful for? Humans would kill their brethren to eat, as they were war-like and cruel creatures. There was only one human in the temple. With no other human to kill, she felt that it was unnecessary to learn it.

“You’ll understand in due time.”

Zet merely responded after a short silence. Naturally, as a shadow, Zet had no expression. Therefore, she couldn’t really understand the meaning of those words. However, she could have sworn Zet had grinned.

No matter how many seasons passed, the girl continued her strange life with Zet…

It had been fifteen years since Zet first met the girl. There was no change at all in her dailey life. Their sessions of observation were repeated daily without pause. If she had to say, the content of the training and education had become more advanced. Other than that, she was also given a name to avoid any inconvenience in the future.

The girl had also undergone major changes during the years. Zet’s tutelage developed her body to be as strong as a wild beast, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t look like a regular fifteen-year-old girl; evident from her sinewy limb and still growing plump breasts. Combined with her doll-like features, anyone who passed her would turn around to get another glimpse. She had turned into a beautiful young woman.

The girl woke up as the sun rose as usual and rose from her bed. She let out a long yawn as she stretched her back. The sounds of her a few bones cracking made her even more comfortable. She took a towel that hung on the wall and put it around her neck. She left the bedroom and walked along the corridor that led down toward the courtyard.

She loved the serene atmosphere that came with sunrise. It could be said that she always woke early just to enjoy this moment.

She eventually arrived in the courtyard, her first destination. The sunlight shone through the gaps between the lush green leaves, and she squinted her eyes a bit, then began to draw some water from the well with a bucket. With the collected water, she washed her face and rinsed out her mouth. A comfortable smile came when the water-filled her empty stomach.

“Delisious~”

Alone by herself, the girl made her way to the kitchen for breakfast. There, a simple stove made of bricks and a small table. The girl worked with familiarity and concentrated magic to the tip of her right index finger. She drew the magic from her body, combined a small amount with the elements in the air. As soon as it was successful, blue particles gathered on the tip. When the light became condensed, a small fireball the size of a bean had been formed.

“Success.”

Satisfied with the result, the girl shoved the fire into the stove. White-hot flames burned on and she used the poker that leaned against a nearby wall to adjust the heat. At first, she didn’t know how to properly control the output of her fireball. That caused the stove to explode a few times, but every single time, the stove would be restored the next day as if it never happened. She chalked this strange event as the work of a [Mischievous Fairy Comet] that was described in the book concerning mysterious phenomenons. The book told the story of a mischievous fairy named Comet who liked to exchange things to prank on people, and enjoyed watching the result in secret.

Once, the girl wanted to see the truth of the matter. So she hid in the corner of the room all night long, but Comet never appeared; no matter how long she waited. She ended up leaving her hideout for observation time and when she returned a while later, the stove had already been restored. The girl hadn’t given up yet. She ended up spending several days staked out for the fairy, but Comet never came, leaving her wish unfulfilled.

After a while, she was utterly disappointed once she found out that the stove had been repaired by Zet through magic.

She shook her head after she recalled that bitter memory, and wiped her forehead with the towel. She then put a pot containing yesterday’s soup on the stove and waited for it to warm up. A short wait later, sizzling could be heard from the pot. Followed by the drift of an appetizing scent.

“Thank you for the meal.”

She finished her meal alone and quickly cleaned up the mess before she headed to the education room. There several rooms within the temple beside the one she used for her bedroom, but all of them were in a dire state. It was only natural since no one managed the place. The same applied to the education room. When she pushed the door open with the familiar magic diagram on it, the door actually fell apart. Apparently, it had been rotten for years now.

The girl was not particularly concerned with that. She proceeded to the center of the room and sat at the only desk and chair inside. Usually, Zet would appear from the void soon afterward, all he needed to do was wait for it. Doubt never crossed the girl’s mind. Zet never appeared even after waiting for half a day. A strange feeling overcame her and she approached the podium that Zet regularly used.

Along with a jet-black sword she had never seen, there was also a letter and a scarlet-colored jewel on the podium. The girl looked at the letter. It was addressed to her. She read and reread it many times, and then she took both the jewel and the sword before she rushed out of the temple.

“Zeeet!”

She surprised herself, but she called out Zet’s name as loud as possible. Zet never responded to her calls before, but she could still hope. Her voice only echoed throughout the forest. Still she continued to call out for the shadow until she lost her voice… but Zet never came.

“Zet… Zet… Zet…”

A warm substance overflowed from her eyes as she repeated its name. As her vision blurred, she unconsciously rubbed away the substance as it rolled gently down her cheeks. She immediately realized that it was “tears” that humans shedded when they felt sad, but she still didn’t understand why her chest felt painfully tight. A pain different from the one she suffered from during training. It was not described in any books of the books she had read.

How long had passed?

She wiped away the tears with her sleeve, and she noticed something. The handle of the sword in her hand felt similar to something. It looked different, but it almost definitely felt like Zet’s scythe… She embraced the sword. Her eyes were strangely calm…

On that very same day, the girl left the temple… And never returned.

 

The Little Girl Raised by Death 1 – Three Shadows

Yeah, I know someone picked it up, but I already paid for chapters to be done so here they are 😀


 

“Grandma, please read this book today!”

A young boy pulled a book off the shelf and presented it to his grandmother, Camilla, who was kitting on her chair.

“This book again? Mikhail really likes this story, doesn’t he?”

Camilla stopped her knitting and took the book from Mikhail’s little hands. It was his favorite picture book, and they’d read it countless times together already. The book’s cover was cracked, and the long faded hand-drawn cover was testified to that, but Camilla still remembered the content vividly. It was about a black sword embedded upon the top of a hill, and someone from a faraway land that came to draw it – The Tales of Hero Diuve De Ricca.

That was the title of the book.

“Un, I love it! Because in the picture-book, he’s the strongest hero that ever lived!”

While he said so, Mikhail moved his small limbs around excitedly; apparently in an attempt to imitate the hero. Seeing his cute behavior, Camila naturally smiled. No matter the era, boys always looked up to heroes.

“Come, Mikhail. Quick, come here.”

Mikhail happily came when she gestured for him to sit on her lap and he did. His face looked up while he feet fluttered excitedly. His grandmother gently stroked his platinum hair and opened the book to the first page.

“Once upon a time, there was a girl raised by the grim reaper -”

This was a story of the girl who would later become known as the “Jet Black Hero”. Like most stories, it had a trivial beginning.

[E/N: May change the name to something better.]

Deep inside a remote forest, hundreds of trees grew tall as if they wanted to pierce the sky itself. Its under canopy was dark as night even during the day. As if to make the forest more mysterious, a dense fog always enveloped it. Since the age of ole’, the area had always been feared deeply by the people. No matter how amazing one’s sense of direction, they would always become lost, and that was a death sentence within this forest.

Like its namesake, it was impossible to leave the forest Rumors always told of people entering the forest but never told of their return. Nowadays, no one dared to approach the forest.

Nestled quietly in the middle of the forest, was a tower made of glossy black stones. Covered in moss and vegetation, it gave off an air of solemness. Around the tower were six black stone pillars, intricate engravings covered their surfaces, but three had already partially collapsed. From the way it had weathered and what grew over it, it had collapsed long ago. Several cracks ran through the remaining pillars, and it wouldn’t be strange if another were to fall apart soon.

Since ancient times, this was believed to a temple that led to the underworld.

Nearby this long forsaken entrance, somehow, an infant wrapped in a blood-soaked cloth slept. A bloodied man leaned against one of the nearby pillars, a broken sword still in his grasp.

The forest teemed with wild beasts, and the sweet scent of a human baby, along with the fresh scent of blood, promised a bountiful meal to any of them. Surely, a beast would eventually pass and eat them, but in reality; not even the caw of a bird could be heard, little lone a single beast.

It was as if the entire area around the tower was in a state of slumber, silent and tranquil. But also eerie.

“No wonder I felt something was amiss… There are humans here. Yet another soul here in search of the temple? This one is not but an infant, and the other is already dead. May heaven accept his soul.”

A shadow peeked at the baby, then to the corpse as it muttered to itself.

“This baby… What awaits your frail soul here is nothing but death… Why bother to resist now?”

Two shadows appeared, almost as if they had been there all along, one swayed eerily as it swung its scythe down – aiming for the baby’s heart… But the other shadow interrupted its move with a gesture. Not only did it stop it before it struck, but also shattered the scythe.

“… Why do you interfere? Do not tell me you’ve taken pity upon this child?”

“Nom, I did not. I just want… To observe a little longer.

“You’ve always been like that. Always interested in the strangest things… Very well, do as you wish.”

With that said, the two shadows disappeared as if they had melted into the ground. The original shadow remained and approached the infant. It held the baby gently with slightly shaking arms. As if on cue, the infant opened her eyes to reveal jet black eyes. In those eyes, reflecting the shadow. So looked for a while at it –

Then smiled.

“Fumu. This would make an interesting subject of observation.”

An amber necklace hung around the baby’s neck. The shadow’s stare alternated between the gem and the baby before it nodded.

『Fumu. This would make an interesting observation.』

FPS 60

Ashes:

There has been a decline in patreon pledges and we’re getting dangerously near the redline. We’re at 111$ a month and it costs 80$ for the four chapters a month we get. Should we go any lower, we will have to stop hiring the translator and revert to Machine translations.

As thus, Patreon advertising will have to be upped again and chapters may be jailed longer as an incentive to raise the pledges. I had already put Origin stories as day of completion releases, but they too will be time-locked as well now.

Pledge to Patreon


 

Meanwhile, a confrontation was taking place between Runolodo the Lion Claw and I on Warehouse street of the Royal capital. He boosted his well-built body with enhancement magic and extended five 30cm long claws from both his gauntlets.

“Get ready for what’s coming, black mask!” He said. 

He unleashed a powerful shout as a show of superiority and charged.

Too slow! I avoided his attack by sliding and jumping to his right. Midair, I turned towards him, trying to get an angle on him. As soon as I had my crosshairs on him, I pulled the AS-VAL’s trigger, three shots; and quickly jumped further away after I landed. I stayed on the move to stay behind him and to get shots in. Runoldo picked up the severed arm of the man I had shot before and used it as a shield to protect himself.

[E/N: Your fight antics are like a five-year-old pretend fight.]

“So this is your magic ability, Black mask.” He said.” It’s nearly impossible to see it activating. However, as long as I pay attention to that short cane, it is not impressive at all, hah!”

This guy. It only took him only a few minutes to understand the basics of a gun. However, I was already expecting to encounter monsters that would be able to.

Let’s see if you can really dodge everything.

I flipped the selector switch to semi-auto from fully automatic. I aimed for his torso and pulled the trigger once. He immediately jumped to his right when he saw the muzzle flash and avoided the shot, but I kept him within my sights the entire time; following his every move. The moment he landed, I pulled the trigger again.

[TL/N->E: I swear this is how it was written, the author is obsessed with jumps to the right]

[E/N -TL: << Youtube Link >> ]

“What?!”

Runoldo instantly raised his left hand to protect his chest. He avoided getting hit in his vitals, but the bullet pierced his gauntlet and found his flesh, wounding him. He was surprised to be hit. He suppressed his feelings and went on the attack, abandoning his defense as he tried to close the distance.
I wasn’t interested in a CQB battle and jumped back to create a large gap between us. But he expected that and smiled wickedly at me.

“Lion Claw Rend!” 

The moment I was off my feet, he swung his right claw and shouted. Could this be a skill?

[E/N: No, this is Patrick.]

A bright light suddenly flashed from him and the light turned into a blade that flew toward me. I held my rifle in my left hand while I faced the skill, pressed a button, and instantly deployed the CB, and clashed with the light.

[T/N – CBS = Circle Barrier Shield]

Because we impacted midair, I was flung back further than I intended, but the CBS prevented any more incoming damage. I landed on the warehouse’s floor with a slide before I stood on my knees. I got my rifle back into position on Runoldo’s face as he laughed.

With him lined up in my crosshairs, the long-distance mode began its activation. I pulled the trigger without waiting for it to finish, and from afar, I could see his eyes go wide. Could it have been an instant evasive move? Runoldo slightly leaned his body to the left just in time, the bullet barely missing him, however, that was just the first bullet. I chased him with my crosshairs and pulled the trigger again.

[E/N: You know, just pumping him with lead would have worked, you know that right? ]

As he just dodged the first bullet, he couldn’t react fast enough to dodge the next one. Upon impact, the right side of his face was blown away and I didn’t stop there. Reacting from the impact, his body turned enough to give a clear sight of the back of his jaw. I aimed at it carefully and pulled the trigger again.

Runoldo’s headless body fell on the floor, face up.

“B-Boss got killed! This guy is a monster!”

Runoldo’s minions were in shock after he unexpectedly died. Trembling in fear, they all began to run away. Yeah, you better run scum. Take the chance I’m giving you before I change my mind. Go and spread what you just saw, along with the face Marida Company is safe. Let it be known throughout the dirt of the Royal Capital.

[E/N: You’re a little bitch and we all know it, drop the tough guy act.]

◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆

“What the heck do you mean by the child and the rest not being here anymore!!!”

“B-By that I mean, someone managed to get inside, go down to the dungeon and run away with the six of them without any of us noticing at all…”

“Like I asked, what the heck do you mean by them not being here? What I want to know is how you managed to let this happen!”

Yagorche’s president yelled, the prosperity that was just within his reach, fell away before his eyes. I sure hope he didn’t think this was the end. I was nowhere near done with this company.

After the fight in the warehouse, I headed back to Yagorche Company. I broke in, again from the third floor, and stood above the president’s room. Lets start off with your symbol of prosperity. I took out the FMG9 along with its magazines, and some extra equipment. Inside of the residence, I moved while looking for valuables silently. I avoided detection. While there were no longer any patrols around, I headed to the company this time.

[E/N: Important note I felt I should leave you all with.]

[Tl/N: To Ashes (important) – Below, I refer to them being knocked out because they weren’t exactly killed. The word in Japanese, 無力化 / muryokuka, in this case, refers to them being powerless. However, it’s not described in the novel as to how he did it, whether he shot them in the leg or upper body and left them bleeding.]

I didn’t care about doing any covert action against the company nor did I have a silencer attached to my FMG9. All I needed to do was hunt down the remnants of the bandit group, Onibasu. The gunshots resounded through the company building and throughout the Royal Capital. I incapacitated 20 members of the group who had attacked us at the rest stop.

I made my way from the first floor to the third floor as I knocked down anyone who resisted me. I wondered if any of them had been just a regular employee. I kept that thought in mind as I made my way, but so far, there weren’t any signs that any of them were.

“I guess the takeover is complete”

I looked down from the third floor’s window and I saw a large number of guards who heard the gunfire. All of them had come from the residence. In the middle was a guy with a big belly, similar to a frog, along with a few who looked to be merchants. Could that be Yagorche? Well, time to clean up the rest. It would be too boring to kill them one by one, so I jumped from the third floor and landed in front of Yagorche. Because my legs were boosted by the power suit, jumping from the third floor was easy and I didn’t get hurt.

“Who the hell are you!?”

“I’m Shaft, Marida Company’s guard”

“Marida’s?! So you’re the black-masked bastard who’s been messing everything up for me!”

“I guess that’s me yeah. However, I think you’re the one creating the mess”

“What are you saying! Also, what did you do to my company!”

“Who knows, I wonder what I did”

“Well then, make him start talking!”

The guards around Yagorche surrounded me, swords in hand. I took out the prepared flashbangs and threw them to the merchant’s sides.

With the sudden loud bangs and blinding flashes, the guards all dropped their swords in an attempt to cover their eyes and ears. They all fell to the ground, even Yargorche had been effected, but not as much as everyone else. I had made sure to throw them further from him. He stared at me with sharp eyes as he knelt on the floor.

“Yagorche, I’ll crush all every single one of your dreams”

“W-What are y..”

“Hey, do you know what this is?”

I held out a small back with a single button on it, small enough to fit in the palm of my hand.

“What.. What is that?”

“See this part, if you push it”

I held the box right before his eyes. As soon as I did, I pressed the button. Explosions broke out in succession; much, much louder than the flashbangs. Fire engulfed the company building as a wall gave way. Then the rest of the building.

“Ahh-AHHHHHH !!”

What I had done before was placed C4 around the inside of the building. First used by the US Army before it spread to the rest of the world, it was a plastic explosive that required the controller to detonate it. Its unique properties allowed it to be used for many things besides war.

Yagorache was speechless as he watched his company disintegrate into dust. But that wasn’t the end yet. I showed him another controller.

“H-Hey…… D-Don’t you tell me!”

He probably guessed what the other remote was for and turned to look at his home.

“S-Stop..”

I pressed the button.

Once again, explosions rang out along with fire as his home fell apart.

“NOOOOOOOOOOO!!”

As the explosions fill the air along with the sound of the building crumbling on itself, the horses whined and the rustle of armor could be heard. It seemed like the knights had come to pay us a visit. I’ll hand over the mess to them and headed back to Marida Company.

The merchant only stood between his now ruined buildings, looking between them; unable to think. Guess if I leave him there, he’ll probably be handed punishment by the Capital as well. Serves him right.

OTC 1.2 – Ground Zero

I know I said the other chapter would be the last unlocked one, but I lied. This one is. 😀 Its a cop-out chapter to move the story along. Its been stuck on me for a month and I want it gone.


 

“Holy shit!” One of the soldiers laughed “It really fucking worked!”

The laughter was short-lived as a barrage of bullets began to cut through the store. I threw myself down just before the snacks around me exploded into mists of oranges, whites, and other colors that made my choke on the dustified snacks. 

Glass shattered, metal sang, and I heard pained screams as I quickly pulled myself across the store like a meth-fueled lizard. Gatorade man pulled by my vest’s back handle and pulled me out of the zone of fire.

[“Tangos on the Wal-greens! Tangos-!”] My brother’s voice cut off as another hail of bullets tore through the storefront, forcing me and Gatorade man to retreat. 

Dadadadadada-! 

Gatorade man stuck up and returned fire from the back of the store, which, unfortunately, faced the wal-greens. The return fire was short-lived as I felt a weight slam into my back. I yelped at the and thought I had been hit, but the pressure kept pressing me down. I turned to see what it was and… Gatorade’s bloodied face looked back at me… 

I stared in shock, his nose was ripped in two and he was missing his right eye. Blood was gushing from his face and… his neck. It pooled on the floor amongst the scattered snacks and glass. It wasn’t like in the video games or movies; bits of other… things. mixed into the blood. A bit of pink was mixed in and… I threw up everything I had eaten just a few moments ago. Now I struggled through throw off the soldier as the blood and vomit mixed under my chest. The stench… God… The stench was indescribable. 

I cursed myself, my dad, my country, and every other entity I could think of as I struggled to even turn over. This man was in full gear too, which added hundred pounds onto this man who had nearly a hundred pounds over my. I was just an average pretty guy, not built like the bear the other men in the family were. In this moment, I had finally wished I had been. 

The weight finally lived and I was dragged forward across all the bodily fluids. I saw bloodied boots and felt a few hot casings hit the back of me. The world felt numb and I only heard the rapid thumping of automatic fire. Shell casings were dropping on my right, but it all felt… Unreal. 

Free of the weight, I slowly heaved myself to my knees before I was pulled back down by my brother. Somehow, this felt like a deja vu moment as he yelled at me, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Rather than being deafened by gunshots, I think my mind was short-circuiting. 

I just stared back at him, my thoughts a haze as I tried to wipe Gatorade Man’s bloodied face from my mind. 

I just spoke to him… We… He was alive..  I thought as my brother only scowled and pushed me down. I wanted to get back up, but he kept me down effortlessly. The floor was covered in a mixture of sodas and water as the refrigerated section had been peppered with bullets. Blood swirled in the sugary mixture beneath me as. 

Just when I tried to get up again, I felt my whole body momentarily shudder. The liquid mixture on the floor also became disturbed, more than when the shells were landing in it. The floor shook and that was when I felt the world come out of its monotonous state. 

“Take that motherfucker!” I heard my brother call out. “Fuck yeah!” He hollered as he removed his hand from my back. I could hear distant shouting. I got up and realized I had been dragged away behind the large foot island where they heated their little shit rolls and shoved them into those little bags. From where we were, we had a perfect view of the building across from us. The Wal-greens that was just on the boundary of the HOA I lived in. 

The storefront sat on raised land, just like the guardhouse and the office for the HOA; Unlike the HOA, the storefront and its parking lot was smoking. 

Before I could register why my brother was howling, I saw the storefront be torn apart my several small explosions – Like those videos of Chinese people setting off a bundle of firecrackers, but much, much more violently.  

BURERERERERE – BRRRRRRRRRRRRRTTTT! 

I recognized that iconic sound as an A-10 Warthog. 

BRRRRRRRRRT-BRRRRRRRT-BRRRRRRT-! 

Followed by another pass seconds apart. 

“Good hit! Good hit!” My brother yelled over the radio. 

I heard the roar of the planes overhead as they circled around and my brother pulled me with him.

“Let’s go!” He yelled. 

. . . . . .

Run. The only thought that was in my head.

That was all I could think as I hauled my little brother after me out of that godforsaken dead trap. With most of my squad down, we were practically fucking shrimps to any large enemy element. That didn’t help my friends though. Jackson had laid in his own blood. He was the first one to die and we hadn’t even noticed him drop on contact. I felt that sink to the pit in my stomach when I thought about that.

Anderson and Kelmar also died but in the store. All that was left was Preacher, Hernadez, Kian, and I. We had already lost others when we tried to secure the house. I hadn’t expected that. I was more concerned with securing the last member of my family, my precious little brother. Though in hindsight, I hadn’t treated him so precious in the years previous.

I don’t know if the house was a target for the forces, or they had just been canvassing the neighborhood, looking for anyone important. None of us would know, and the information wouldn’t stem the loss of my friends. But at least Kian was safe…

We stopped in the hedges just off the old Home Depot lot, one of those large corporate home improvement stores that existed before the resources became scarce. Just beyond the hedges, a four-foot concrete wall sat. It offered us cover from that abandoned store and the hedges offered us concealment from the street. For once, I was happy that politicians loved their appearances more than they loved saving resources, or the whole damn street would have been baren.

I looked back at my little brother. His body was much too small to be related to us… too… much like our mother. But I had to remember that it as pops and I that were the irregularities. We looked like walking tanks, muscular and “Manly.” It took a lot to remember that. Even when crouched, Kian was much smaller than me.

He had such a pretty face for a boy, and if I didn’t know he was a boy, and my brother; I could have more than certain take him as a young pretty girl. He had long disheveled hair. It wasn’t that he girly, but his looks were effeminate, or maybe the word was androgynous. With each passing year, he even began to look more and more like our mother. Not that he didn’t before…

I had to pump the brakes on my wandering thoughts. It was a clusterfuck of a situation. Whenever family became involved, one of the few things I learned to only care about, came under attack – I just wanted to blindly beat the issue into submission. I couldn’t take on a foreign army, and the rogue state to the north. No. I could only run and take my family away.

In Kian’s hands was the HK416 that Anderson had used, along with two spare magazines I had shoved into Kian’s vest. I never wanted him to kill anyone, to have that taint his soul, but I would much rather turn my brother into a sinner than have him dead. Even if I had to die, I would get him away from here.

The thoughts had only lasted a few seconds and Kian felt my stare. He looked up with those trusting eyes, those innocent lost eyes that had just seen someone die in front of him. I looked away, guilty for something I hadn’t even done, but I had a mission. A mission to get him out of here.

I brought my Onboard Tactical Assistant Device, OTAD, and flicked through a few menu options before I found the updated situation map of the area. Should we have been in our full battle gear, we would have been wearing the latest battle armor with cool-ass helmets that had a heads-up display and use voice commands to do all of this. Yet, we were caught with our pants down. Pops should be securing our gear and inbound to us.

On the small screen, I saw my squad on the screen  – Zulu Squad, Coded Bear for today – and the surrounding DC area.

God… It was a mess…

On a battlefield, there would have been controlled areas were friendlies or combatants held ground. Then there would be contested ground, where the combat was. There was none of the first element, but there was only contested ground. The on-board AI was listening to the radio traffic, no longer trying to breach the enemy lines, but fully devoted to transcribing the plethora of friendly comms. With our friendlies, two other hostile elements attacked us at once, but from what was happening, they didn’t seem to be friendly to each other either.

Everyone was fighting everyone and each street was being fought for control or having already been drenched in blood and those streets were about to be recontested by the other element. This was a resource race, we were trying to protect our supply depots or secure reinforcement routes, but everyone else wanted those depots, and they couldn’t just bomb us to hell if they were to get them.

The silver lining in the situation was that all the fighting was going on in the south and north. Their area was marked contested, but with a notation that it was only being marked for transportation to the battles. The contested came from the forces running into each other on their way to the resources. That meant the ambush at the gas station wasn’t actually meant for them, but transport.

That made him feel even angry about the situation. All that blood and it hadn’t even been meant for them.

A message came over his headset, by the robotic voice of his AI.

[“Oracle Actual is inbound and requests the landing zone be secured. All friendly fighters have been scrambled and will tie up the enemy jets. All friendly and civilian elements have been cleared into the air to hide our EVAC.”] The program stated.

The plan made him feel even sicker but on the other hand, he didn’t care if he had to spend the lives of strangers if it meant he wouldn’t lose any more friend or his family. He lamented on the monster he was and looked to his baby brother.

I do this so you do not become one… He thought, but his brother didn’t feel his stare.

The air came alive as tens of jets soared overhead, screaming towards the south. For once in the nation’s life, all those spend dollars and they were all finally being put to use.

“Secure the parking lot,” I said into the mic. “EVAC inbound. We’re only going to have one shot at this.

Twenty Minutes prior…

“Jesus!” I screamed.

The television mounted in the control room showed the chaos that was playing out above. Bodies in the streets, planes falling from above. Even the new chopper had been shot down by a fighter jet just a few minutes into their broadcast. However, my co-worker, Devan, only kept playing Candy Crush on his phone with the same indifferent expression as aways.

Both of us were Nuclear key carriers. On a normal day, we wouldn’t even be in the same section of the bunker. The sudden break out of war changed that quickly though. They showed us both into the launch room before they closed the door. We can leave, but they can’t enter without one of us opening the door.

“Do you think they’ll call us to…” I turned back to him. “Do you think this is it?”

The broadcast showed the sudden arrival of an entire armada of jets. Helicopters were beginning to take up the lower air space and the jets had to move higher into the sky to fight each other; Or risk crashing into the slower helicopters. It was strange. I wouldn’t have done that. However, they must have some sort of plan. Hopefully.

Something in me said I had to do something, but what? In the movies, they always called their loved ones. I didn’t have a family, aside from a small little chihuahua named Luke. He was an adorable little brown dog with big eyes. It was unfortunate that he didn’t have the ability to answer the house phone though. I would’ve liked to see him one last time. The fighting hadn’t reached where our home was, but no doubt it would within a few hours if the fighting continues to escalate. That was the requirement to be a Keyholder. No family.

Since the nuclear scare that after the third Cold War, presidents were no longer allowed to be to call in the nukes. That was entirely left to the army, with no contest from the political body. They had fallen into a convoluted mess of infighting that never ceased. Hell, there were even whole websites dedicated to the congress brawls that almost always broke out every week.

However, none of that mattered when the world above broke out into an all-out war. While both of them had different beliefs from their NCOs, they were still soldiers. Soldiers that would turn their keys and input their confirmation codes once that red phone rang. Though, I highly doubted they wanted to destroy whatever valuable resources were left.

I heard the soft roll of Devan’s computer chair as he rolled away. I watched him curiously, but he only rolled into the station’s small kitchen with his phone. Most likely went to look into what goodies the higher-ups stocked for us. I turned back to the television, my eyes always looking at my neighborhood when the camera would pan past it.

Nothing there this time…

The newswoman began to shout, informing us that more and more people were jumping into the fight below. Political groups, cults. Anyone and everyone who had a weapon began to filter into the fighting. The camera panned a few more streets. Yeah, it became even more hectic down there.

They kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest… I thought.

Click.

I heard something just behind me and turned. I came face to face with Devan, who pointed a pistol at me. My thoughts studdered for a few moments. I wondered if I was just not seeing it correctly, or if I was actually looking down the barrel of a gun.

“Its nothing personal.” Devan said as he lowered the barrel to my stomach. He pulled the trigger.

I flinched at the bark of the gun. My ears rang from the powerful gunshot that echoed through the room. I felt something warm dribble down my leg… I looked down and saw a small circle of blood that stained my uniform on my stomach. I had also pissed myself. I looked back up to Devan, not sure what was going on. I only knew he had a gun and he shot me. We weren’t friends, but we usually saw each other during briefings and lunch…

I thought we were cool…

Devan’s lips moved and I knew he was talking, but only the ringing existed in my ears. He shook his head before he pulled out two small orange ear plugs from his ears. He gave me a weary smile before he pulled my keycard off my shirt. I wanted to stop him, but the blood… There was so much blood coming out of me.

I tried to get up, but I didn’t have the strength to do it. Maybe I was just entering into a state of shock. I didn’t know, but what I did know, was that there was already a small puddle of blood beginning to form under my feet. Then Devan appeared before me again. He only slid me aside and went back to the launch station. There was another one in the room now and the blast door was wide open.

I mumbled some words, a warning that this was illegal but they paid no mind. I called out again to tell them they didn’t have my code. Yet again… They ignored me as they inserted the keycards into the two different consoles on different sides of the room in unison. The room turned dark red and they both inputted codes and the room turned dark green.

They… Didn’t need my code? 

That was odd, but not as odd as that I was bleeding to death here. Further exploration of the situation came up with a strange thing… I really didn’t care. I only cared about that stupid dog I was leaving behind. The world was shit, this place was shit, and only that innocent little pupper was worth living for. Pure and happy. The only living thing I cared about in this world.

I fumbled for my phone and inputted the code. I was going to look at that those stupid videos I always took of him, but my phone was snatched away. The newcomer took it. He looked pissed, but I only wanted my phone. Before I could try and fight for it back, Devan had taken it from the man. He looked at me and I only said one word.

“Superman.” The name of that damn dog I had.

The man nodded, tapped on my screen a few times before he handed me one the phone. It showed that little rut running in circles as I walked through the front door. It was a short video, and a pathetic one to want to see as I was dying, but Superman was my little guy and the only thing I had come to look forward to when I went home.

The only regret was that he and I wouldn’t be moving to that nice house after my retirement in a few months.

“Nuclear missile launched.” A faint robotic voice broke the ringing in the distance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GGCE 7 | Ripples

Farm to table release 😀 Due to patreon sub drop, I’ve reinstated timed locked chapters.


Faint light illuminated the cavern, large and foreboding. Tens of strangely glowing mosses grew amongst the stalactites. Their light reflected off the reflective water that pooled around the stalagmites. A few of the oldest ones barely touched the surface of the water, creating what appeared to be a pillar of light that made the carven seem like one continuous orb. On the far walls, long ruined murals remained. Their stories forever lost to the annuals of time. And in the center of all this, a small stone platform, free of dirt, grime, and life.

A stone coffin rested upon it

The water, peaceful and pure, rippled. Silent, but the disturbance was still there. Soon, more ripples came until the reflection in the water disappeared. The water shook violently now, as did the cavern. Just when the cavern began to groan from the event, a golden wave of light pulsed through chamber once. Gone as soon as it came, the place slowly fell back into peace, but not the same peace.

What was once left undisturbed for thousands of years and unseen… Now shone. Faint ghostly chains wrapped around the coffin in neat rows. Each chain, a binding spell. The cavern walls were alight with runes that were as ghostly as the chains. On one wall, just left of the platform, a stony outcrop faintly resembled a doorway. A single intricate spell circle was etched into the wall.

Crack!

A single hairline crack appeared on the corner of the circle.

Cr-crack!

The cavern whined and a single chain broke in the coffin. It too began to creak from the sudden pressure building within the cavern. Skeletons were etched into the side, depicted as if they were dancing with swords and spears. On another side, it depicted headless humans. On the lid of the coffin, a single name was etched…

“The Lord of the Damned”.

. « ◊ ».

His steps echoed throughout the empty hall. Dawn would be here soon, but his master had summoned him. He was almost entirely sure it was in regards to the that… Magic wave. At the age of fifty, Nicholas was still a handsome man despite the clear signs of aging. Tanned faced with long hair. Long for a man. It hung down to his mid-neck where it was tied off into a loose ponytail.

He was not a large man, nor was he small. With with his silk robes on, his well-toned body showed through as he opened the door at the end of the hall. The room inside was only illuminated by sun that had just broken the night no more than a few minutes ago, but he knew where he was going.

The room appeared to be just a forgotten storage room. Rotted barrels and a few collapsed crates populated the room. Sadly, it was a common thing in the Palace. With so many rooms, there just wasn’t enough hands to stock and clean them all. Thus, a lot of rooms went on touched. However, that was by design. He didn’t want anyone to be here.

With trained motions, Nicholas plucked out the second-lowest brick in the fifteenth row directly left of the small window that illuminated the room. Nothing happened and he reversed the prick, channeled several breaths worth of mana into it; then reinserted it. The brick glowed, illuminating the room in a thick pasty blue light. Then the light began to trace over the mortar. The line traveled up twenty-five bricks, turned left and traveled ten before it turned left again to return to the second brick to the floor. To complete it, the blue line cut across to the first brick.

The bricks inside the lines disappeared, replaced with a dark staircase that led into the depths below. Down into the Old City. He stepped into it, careful not to trip on the last row of bricks that remained and disappeared into the darkness below. A deep, draconic voice welcomed him.

.« ◊ »

Akyryss looked over the island of Haven, a frown occupied her pretty face.

“Are you sure?” She asked with restrained annoyance.

“Yes, your Holiness.” A man replied as he knelt behind her.

Clay tiled roofs occupied the land below, topping hundreds of homes and shops. Her master once said. “Italian villa homes” Before. She never understood the term, but the style was pleasant on the eyes, equally from above as it was below. Yet today, the view only seemed to anger her.

“Maybe I’ll teach them why I am to be feared,” Akyryss growled, the voice deeper than a human could ever do.

The Holy White Dragon, Akyryss, stood on the large balcony overlooking the Free Port of Haven. Dressed in a pure white dress that trailed along the tiled floor, she contemplated going on a rampage across the continents. Contemplated being the key word here.

“It would be ill-advised. By all reports, Alistar is not the one coordinating the destruction of Lady C-” His words failed as an aura pressed down upon him, forcing him onto his hands as well.

“My Master is not to be addressed by such a pheasant’s name.” Akyryss turned around. “Her name is too precious to be defiled by such lowly titles. She is to be known as the Creator. How many times must I repeat myself to you?”

While the human priest was her most loyal follower, it was just that. Her follower. He paid respect to her master, but not enough. The love she had for Cyril was far greater than any being but short of that of Lord Hades. It was he who did not respect the memory of his daughter – her creator. Yet, he was her father those she could not reprimand him as well. Defiled in the north by her father, nearly forgotten in the south because of the False God Alistar. She had half a mind to wage war against them.

“Send a one of the Elder Dragons to Alistar.” Akyryss said. “Tell him that if him, or whomever in his order, continues to destroy the statues of my Master. I will attack…”

If only I could move them… She lamented.

She would gather them all into her abode, keep them among her horde… Her master… Her one true love…

The priest looked up, saw the Holy Dragon’s expression slowly slip into that of a love-stricken maiden, and rolled his eyes. He did not have to ask about it. There was no one on the island that didn’t know about the kind of love that perverted dragon had for her creator…

To his astonishment, her expression had suddenly become serious. She turned back to look over the Island, to the east.

“Your Holiness?” He asked. “Is something-”

Akyryss waved her hand as she focused on the horizon. The sea was neither calm nor frenzied but just was the sea. Yet, she kept staring off into the distance. A wave of gold, taller than the sky and as fast as a tsunami rolled towards them. The priest became alarmed. As did the city apparently. The storm bells tolled and the city stirred. He wanted to tell the dragon that she had to leave, but… Her face turned size to size as she examined it… An almost sinister smile was there.

Screams filled the city as the citizens began to rush towards the shelters. Ships began to try and salvage themselves, but all for nothing.

A woman’s laugh rang out over the city, catching their attention just as the wave of gold crashed into the island and… passed without a trace.

“She’s back!” Akyryss roared with a sick joy that made the city shiver.

.« ◊ »

Layla looked to the storm that brewed on the western horizon. It was midday, but the autumn day already sent a shiver through her, or maybe, it was just her.

A strong gust of wind brought with it the freshness of the mountain as she looked down to IronHorn village below. Hundreds of thatched roofs, like little golden mountains, shone in the sun. A large palisade separated the village from the Elavon Forest beyond. From there, she couldn’t see the lands, only the large stretch of forest. While situated at the foot of Elavon Mountain, they were a long ways away from the main road or any town and garrison.

Such knowledge settled in the pit of her stomach, along with the cold and a bad feeling.

She took a deep breath to ease the raw mix that troubled her. The wind pulled on her wind cotton dress; belted with a worn leather belt that rested on her hip, a shortsword dangled from on her left along with a messanger bag. Her eyes finally settled at the mining town’s large clearing by the gate where several wagons had been lined beside the gate. Today was market day, and the day Old Man Tenni came along with his wagons.

Her feet filled with purpose, she trodded down the gentle sloop lined with rocks and down into the village. The vast expansive view from her home’s perch above disappeared, replaced with aged cottages that lined the muddy footpath. The freshness of the mountain was replaced with the pungent stench of humans filth and still air. She tried not to cringe when she plunged into the stench, but her neighbor must have seen whatever reaction that slipped her attention.

“Still not use to the smell?” The old lady laughed. “I was the same when I came here.”

“Sorry for the face.” Layla said, not actually sorry.

“Don’t worry, girl.” The elder smiled. ” I hate it too.”

It had been a year since she settled in her belated husband’s village after her retirement from monster hunting, yet she still hated it. That was going to change soon though. She spent a few minutes speaking with her neighbor, giving the often annoying pleasantries that kept two people from hating each other. Then she continued on her way down the narrow path.

After a few minutes, she appeared on the large packed dirt road that led out of the mine just as a large lizard passed. It was a Scaled Ox, a magically bred drake that had no wings, intelligence or hostile to any living being. It was used to pull heavy loads out of the wagon, but they also costed a fortune to feed, thus, they were only used for lucrative ventures. Like pulling boatloads of ore from a mountain underbelly.

However, she still kept her distance from them because they were large eaters. It wasn’t uncommon for one of their miser owners to try and skim on their meals. Those ones often quickly learned that, just because it was magically bred, you don’t actually want to short a beast of dragon ancestry. It had happened once within the first few months she had moved here with her daughter. She had to put the beast down itself after it charged her and her girl on the main road.

Now, she never allowed her daughter to play near them anymore.

She kept herself behind the cart, her hand on the sword’s grip in any case, and followed the wagon until it veered away in the square. It joined a small concession of other wagons full of ore to be transported. Layla turned the other way, to Tenni’s merchant caravan.

A crowd had gathered as wives tried to haggle with the slaves, men carried away the goods their wives bought and a few opportunistic villagers set up food stands nearby. She was interested in neither as she scanned the crowd. She skimmed the edge, looking for the old man, and found him as he was speaking to someone just by the village entrance. He seemed to be laughing and Layla made her way towards him.

When she got only twenty feet close, she stiffened up as a black figure appeared in front of the merchant. Tenni had turned from the figure to look at Layla. He smiled and waved, said something to the black figure. It made no motion as its faceless abyss that swirled in its hood faced her. Yet, she knew it was looking at her. Emotionlessly. It was a Faceless one, A Phantom Merchant – The omens of disaster.

“Afternoon, my dear.” Tenni laughed, his bony features twisted with joy. “How are you!?”

Old Man Tenni was a short ratty stick of a man. His sharp facial features remained him of a mouse, and he was just bones wrapped in flesh. His eyes glowed with joy, most definitely not from seeing her, but she learned that Tenni was usually happy to see everyone well in IronHorn, being a parital resident of the town itself.

She had almost forgotten the figure in his joyful greeting, but when she looked, the figure had turned away already. She smiled back at the man, returning her attention back to him as she led him back to his wagon without a word. He went on about his day until she interrupted him.

“Why were you speaking with that Death Bringer?” Layla asked with forced calmness.

The joy on his face froze, not exactly understanding the sudden change. Layla gestured with her head towards the gate. He looked over his shoulder and saw what she had been referring too.

“They’re no death bringers.” Tenni said as the happiness was sucked from his tone. “They’re harmless. I’ll admit they have strange ways, but they’re not the reason for the disasters they often appear before. I’ve seen enough to know that.”

“No.” Layla refuted. “They’re the omens of death. They’ve been there, as massacres, assassinations, and wars. They’re well documented and they can slaughter the entire village!”

“No, child.” Tenni shoke his head. “They may be watchers, but they’re also merchants.”

He held up a large strange coin. Rimed with bronze and inlaid with silver. A semi-transparent rose color gem was embedded in the center of the coin. The stone was practically the coin’s center, polished with a single etched… Cat paw on top of it. An odd thing, but Layla could only look at the… Odd item, made from strange materials. She had to admit though, she could feel the magic in it. Powerful. Ancient.

“It is said that the Faceless deal in a strange currency.” He smiled. “The coins have mostly been lost to the world, but I learned but a few years ago that nations actually still traded with them. Albeit, one-sidedly. ”

He grinned as Layla tried to take in the information. Old Man Tenni had been the most learned man in Ironhorn in his youth, or so the elders said. She had traveled the world, but she couldn’t actually refute his words since she never bothered to pick up books. Unless it had information on how to kill something.

“I’m guessing this is the coin?” She said, mystified by the beauty of the coin.

“Yes.” He answered with a smile. “The Faceless one told me it was called Fabled Coins. Though the name is tacky, I admit. It does seem to relate to the rumors that they work for the Creator.”

Layla groaned. For as great as Tenni was, he was a scholar and a religious fanatic who followed the Forgotten. It referred to the religion around Cyril, the Goddess of Creation and Hearth. A dying religion that only really lives on in the beast lands, and on Haven if the tales are true. But she wasn’t one who believed in the gods. It suddenly struck her that the coin looked all too familiar.

“Hey…” She looked at it. ” Doesn’t that look like Savanah’s amulet?”

Tenni looked at her, thought about it, then his eyes went wide.

“The one Reeylian gave her before he died?” He asked.

“Yes….” Then it clicked. “He said it would help her in a time of need…”

Things began to fall into place. Almost as if… Fate had led her here on purpose. She remembered her original purpose for coming here.

“Nevermind.” she quickly said “Another time, but I need you to deliver this letter.”

She reached into her pouch and handed him a small letter. Her perfect handwritten letters detailed to a Glynii in the Elven Greens in the west. Her old team leader, and an Elder Elf.

“And I also need you to take Savannah with you to the capital.” She said as she closed the pouch.

The sudden shift in tone had thrown the man off.

“Wait, wait… “He paused as the words digested. “You’re-!”

Layla cut him off. “Yes. I have a bad feeling. Something is coming, but I can’t fight it if I have to protect her at the same time. I need to warn my old team, I don’t think the trouble will be something I can handle alone.”

FPS 59

Ashes:
Howdy, If you all want to see an early chapter drop of C-60, do your favorite editor a favor.

Head over to Girl with the Golden Eyes and rate and review it. 😀 If I can get 10 more reviews posted on the RR GGE page, I’ll release 60 early. Deal? 😀 60 is the fight scene. Yes, I am trying to bribe you all.


Once we all reached an agreement to travel together, Alm, the blond-haired twin came to speak with me on the stairwell.

“I’m sorry, but could you please wait? I’d like to get a weapon from one of the guards.” Alm asked.

“Can you use one?” I asked.

“Even though we may not look it, we’re both B-Rank adventurers. I’m a swordswoman and my sister is a spearwoman.”

“B-Rank? You’re that high, yet both of you ended up here?” I asked.

“One of the guys in the group that attacked us is a former A-Rank adventurer. We lost to him and had these put on us.” The other sister said.

She pointed to her neck where a collar was wrapped around. I looked to Alm and she also had the same collar.

“Is that collar some sort of magical accessory?” I asked.

“You don’t know it? This is a magic disturbance ring used for arrests, once you have this put around your neck you can’t control your magic properly, therefore not being able to use skills or magic at all” Alms said

“We can’t use skills but that doesn’t mean we can’t touch weapons. We’ll take care of protecting ourselves” The other said. 

I see. I looked to everyone else, but they didn’t have any collars around their neck. They must have thought it was unnecessary.

“Can’t you take the collar off?” I asked.

“They can’t be taken off unless the person who cast the spell releases it or without the proper magic releasing tools that the guards have,” The Twins said

They explained how to get rid of the collars as they took a sword and spear from the guard room. They swung them around to get a feel for them.

“Alright if there’s no problem with those we should get going before the patrolling guards come.” I said.

Without waiting for their reply, I headed up towards the first floor. However, the twins had no intention of hiding their breasts. Are they not embarrassed at all? I couldn’t keep myself from thinking about such trivial matters as I went up the stairs to check the situation.

[E/N: You might be a horny teenager if you’re thinking about tits in a life or death situation.]

We went through the hidden room and into the next, and so far, nothing indicated that we’ve been seen. In regards to our escape from here, there seemed to be a back door into the residence’s kitchen according to the map. The plan was to go outside form there, then head to the other side of the property.

While I planned our next move, I pulled the curtains down from the window of the room the guardroom beside the hidden room. I then gave them to Amy and Priscella first, since the others appeared to have no shame being nude. The two blushed as they thanked me.

[E/N: Weren’t you just going fem-nazi most of the story, but that stops at them being fine being nude?
*OG Sentence >since the other two felt no shame at all for being completely naked<]

“Alright, lets move into the hallway. Keep your voices down!” I said. “We’re heading to the kitchen on the other end of the building. We’re going to use the backdoor there to go out. We’re going to form a line. Meltia, get right behind me; Amy and Priscella, take the middle; Alm and Shelvara, stay in the back and let’s go!”

I opened the door and no one was in the hall. I could confirm with my map and hearing, however, we should stay vigilant.  We silently headed towards the entry hall. There were also curtains in the hallway windows, but those were visible. If we took them, it may attract attention. I’d have to wait to get some makeshift clothing for Alm and Shelvara. They didn’t seem to mind anyway.

From where we stood, the entry hall was visible. There was no light where we were, thus no one could see us. I checked the hall and, as I thought, there were two guards standing in front of the stairs. Holding my pistol, I lined up the iron sights with my crosshairs with the guards’ heads  I could hear Minea’s shocked gasp – I guess I’ll hit somewhere else. I lowered it to their chest and double-tapped each guard.

Both of the guards died without a chance to scream before they fell to the floor. I kept my pistol at the ready, the sound of their bodies falling could have alerted the other guards.

We waited in shadows, expecting someone to come, but no one did. I couldn’t even hear anything suspicious. We were safe for now. I turned my head to tell them to move, but I saw Minea being held tight by Meltia; Staring at me. Her face seemed flushed… Could it be that she caught a cold? I placed my baton on the floor and gentled patted her head once again.

“Let’s get going. We need to step up the pace. Also, don’t look at the two on the floor.” I said

The message was passed to the rest behind me and we crossed the hall’s lobby. Just to be safe, I checked the bodies, and they were indeed dead. The had been hit in vital spots. The group turned their faces to avoid looking at the dead and stuck close to my behind. Alm didn’t stop either, but she appeared interested in my method of attack since she kept staring at their wounds.

From there, it was relatively easy. With the map and keeping an ear out, I knew there was no one around. We entered the kitchen, left through the backdoor and escaped Yagorche’s residence. We couldn’t take the main street, so we took a side street.

After that, it was relatively easy. According to the map and after checking my sound sensor, there were no signs of people around. Upon entering the kitchen, we promptly opened the back door and successfully escaped Yagorche’s residence.

“So, what do we do from here?” Shelvara asked

She had taken a table cloth to cover her body. I had already thought about that though. There was still quite a way from Marida Company, not to mention, we couldn’t proceed with the girls looking like that in this weather. I accessed the garage on my TSS and summoned the Dorchester.

“Wha, what is this thing!?” Priscella raised her voice as the light particles converged and the vehicle appeared. 

“No questions” I replied. 

I opened it’s rear door and had everyone go inside. With only five rear seats, one had to sit in the front passenger seat. I gave Minea a few pieces of cloth to cover herself from my camping bag as well. I had everyone take a seat and warned them not to get up, no matter what. I then got into the driver’s seat, started the engine with that start button, and stepped on the accelerator.

“Alright, time to get out of here. We’ll be in Marida’s company in no time, just a bit more patience” I said. 

With the deep growl of the engine and two beams of light, we drove through the sleeping capital. The roads were relatively flat so the vehicle didn’t shake as much as I thought it would. The five girls in the back clung to the side window, looking at the outside while they spoke to each other. Good grief… It’s not like they can see anything in the dark roads anyways.

Alm, who sat in the seat next to me, kept complaining about the seatbelt. She tried to unfasten it so she could see more of the outside. I ignored her though. It didn’t take long for us to arrive at Marida Company. I drove into their parking area on the first floor, the sound of the engine alerted the guards, and they surrounded the truck. When they say Minea and Melti exit the rear, they all shouted in joy.

Once the girls exited the truck, I found a nearby female employee

“Is Malta-san here?” I asked.

“I’m afraid not, he left just a few moments ago” She replied.

“Do you know where he was heading to?” I asked

“He headed to the Capital’s western section of the second district, where the company storage is at” She said

“Understood. I’ll retrieve Malta-san. Meanwhile, ask Mirda-san to take care of the other girls. I’m sure they’ll explain the whole situation. ” I turned to the guards. “Also, guards, listen up! While I brought back the girls, I was still too late to save their guards. From this moment onwards, until I get back, increase both the company and residences’ defenses. This isn’t over, get help from the Royal Guards too. Meltia, I’ll leave the details to you.”

Things should be alright here, for now. As for Malta-san, I needed to make sure I reached him before it’s too late. I returned the Dorchester to the garage and summoned the Kawasaki KLR 250-D8. Ready to meet up with Malta-san, I mounted the bike and started it.

“Shaft-sama! Tha.. thank you so much!” Minea said. 

They must of noticed I was leaving and the rest of the girls thanked me. However, the situation was not over yet.

“Hurry up and get inside before you catch a cold. That and make sure you put Marida-san at ease by showing her you’re safe. The rest of you girls too, as long as you’re here you will be safe. Go inside and have some hot soup and rest for today” I said.

Leaving those words, I turned the accelerator and let to the west.

 

◆◆◇◆◆

Upon reading the letter left struck to my door, I immediately prioritized my daughter’s life over that piece of paper. The kidnapper’s request was simple.

“Come to the second district’s warehouse #13 alone, along with the Priority Buyer’s Certificate. We will trade your daughter’s life for it.” The paper read.

Just over this piece of paper, they took my daughter and Minea is most likely fearing for her life. I wanted to talk to Schwarz-san, but he hadn’t returned yet. Where the heck could he have gone in this situation?!… No, I can’t think of him this way. He had already saved me two times already.  From now on, I’ll do what a father should do.

Tears were falling from Marida’s eyes when she read the letter.

I spoke to her about the situation before I headed to the warehouse by carriage. The capital dark, I had to rely on the moonlight and a lamp that hung on the carriage to find my way to the location. Warehouse #13, if I’m not mistaken, this was where the president of a company got robbed and had to close down their business.

I stopped in front of the warehouse. No light was inside, and there was nothing being stored inside. Just complete empty space.

“I’m Malta from Marida’s company! I brought the certificate, where is Minea!” I called out

“Very well done heh, Marida’s Mr. President” Someone replied. 

A light within the warehouse appeared, illuminating the surroundings. Inside was most likely the men who were responsible for all of this.

“Where’s Minea!” I asked again.

“First hand over the certificate, as soon as we confirm it is genuine you’ll get your daughter back” The person replied.

A man stood in the center ordered someone else to come and take the document. I kept looking around, but there were no signs of my daughter… Could this be a trap? Even if that’s the case, this is the only way to get Minea back.

“Hey fella, hand me the certificate.” the man’s lackey said. 

He extended his hand out. Should I really do this? Will they even give back my daughter? After I dealt with my inner turmoil, I handed the man the document. I extended my hand out to hand it over, but… The man was no longer there…

“Huh? … AHHHH IT HURTS!” Someone cried out. 

◆◆◇◆◆◇◆◆

I seemed like I got there on time.

“My hand! My hand got… AHHH” The man screamed.

I found the warehouse quick when I found the street. On such a peaceful night, the danger made the horse noisy, thus, alerting me to its master’s danger.

It wasn’t hard at all to find this warehouse as soon as I entered the warehouse street. During such a peaceful night, all the noise gave away a sense of danger to the horse from the carriage and headed towards me in order to alert the master’s danger.

The near soundless 9×39 bullets shredded his arm and sent it flying.

“Malta, return to the company. I’ll take care of the rest here” I called out to Malta.

“Shaft-san! But what about Minea…?” He asked

“Don’t worry. Minea and the rest are already at the residence. I didn’t make it in time to save the 3 guards but both Minea and Meltia are fine. That and 4 more girls as a bonus” I said. 

[E/N: That sounded dirty.]

“Are you serious?” Malta-san asked.

“Yeah, just hurry back and let them know you’re safe.” I said.

“Hey, hey! What makes this black-masked guy think he’s in charge?” Someone asked.

The man waiting for the document had an annoying smirk, now looked really mad, once I filled Malta in on what happened.
“That black mask… You’re the bastard who killed the people I hired, right?” He asked

“So you’re Runold?” I asked back. 

“That’s right that’s me, the great Runold, leader of the Onibasu bandit group!” He announced.

Onibasu? As in the aquatic plant of those round shaped leaves that float on the ponds?

Runold was a beast-man that resembled a lion with brown hair. Behind him, a yellow and brown spotted tail swayed. He showed off his built body as he raised his hands and flexed his chest muscles. His body swelled and claws came out of the back of each of his gauntlets to about 30cm.

“Runold… Runold the Lion Claw! Shaft-san, he’s a former A-Rank adventurer, leader of a bandit group who once went wild on the northern part of the capital and caused a lot of damage!” Malta-san said. 

“Malta, hurry up and get moving” I said. 

“But!” Malta tried to protest. 

“Hah, you really think you can outrun me!” Runold yelled. 

“Go now! I’ll be fine and put an end to all of this by tonight, also I don’t plan on letting him escape anywhere from here” I said.

“… Understood. I’ll be waiting for your return at the company” Malta said.

Malta finally left the warehouse and I pointed my weapon at Runold. Runold seemed to have detected the danger of what I pointed at him, both of us ready reaction to any sudden movements.

The injured man’s screams echoed through the empty warehouse, and the steps of Runold’s lackeys backing away.

GGCE 6.2 – Kiss of Violence

Priscilla’s chest burned with pain above her heart, but her eyes were locked on the goblin that had stabbed her. Its dilated pupils locked on hers. Its carrot-like nose and comically long ears… And its wicked smile. Time seemed to halt as the goblin pressed the dagger into her heart. The world silent. Her only thought was that in her final moments, she would die with the goblins pungent scent filling her nose. Its child-like body nearly half her height, scrawny, yet filled with wicked intent and death…

She felt… confused.

Is this how I die? In some backwater keep by a goblin…? At that moment, tens of thoughts flowed through her. Like how goblins were known to rape the girls they captured, wounded, and or killed in massive orgies. If you were alive while they raped you, you would wish they had killed you in the beginning.

Death before dishonor… Death before dis- She tried to think the mantra.

The mantra any noble girl was though, to fight before being defiled. Yet, she couldn’t move. Only watch this moment stuck in time – until the goblin’s head disappeared; replaced by a few squirts of blood. She felt the blood splatter across her face, but the only reaction she gave was a flinch with each new squirt.

She felt the world swing back into motion as she was heaved up forcefully by her left arm.

“Get up!” Cyril’s voice was the first sound in her world. ” You hurt?”

Cyril ran her hand across her chest, over her breasts, and down her stomach. She found nothing and nodded.

Then the roar of clashing steel, roar of men and monsters, and the shrill screams of the dying rushed her. The smell of goblin was quickly replaced by the stifling air of the audience hall, which was neither better nor worse than the smell of goblin. Priscilla only gaped at Cyril as she smiled at her. Her sun drop eyes glowed in the dim hall, and she could see the mirth in those eyes.

Was she… Having fun…? She thought in horror.

Yet, regardless of how the immortal felt, she looked like a titan in that moment. They both were the same height – Five and a half feet tall – but she felt small compared to her. She saw the speckles of blood that spotted her face. One drop was just a hair on the left corner of her lip. Priscilla thought that the Angel was about to like it too.

But she didn’t.

Cyril only turned and Priscilla saw the thin line of defense made up of the battered human soldiers. They were only a two-man deep line that was being inched back as more kobolds filled in the twenty-foot wide by thirty-foot long hall. Goblins climbed up the lizardmen and flung themselves over the defense line or at the line itself. Priscilla had been unlucky and she was attacked by a goblin just as the men were establishing their line.

Dead goblins littered the floor and a few of the keep’s servants had picked up spears; they assisted the soldiers in their dire time of need. It was not enough, though. They had just survived two dragon attacks and now they were being overrun by the forest inhabitants.

Cyril pulled Priscilla behind her as another wave of goblins tried to pull the same trick again and this time, a few fireballs joined the fray from Desmond. Still, the line had been pushed back to the last ten feet.

“It’s open!” Mai called out.

Priscilla looked to the left and saw the iron braced wooden door that had sealed them in the hall. Cyril was the first to react and went through the door, pulling the young teen behind her. They entered a stairwell and found there was another person at the top. A soldier.

“This way!” His voice echoed between the stonewalls. “The damn noble has another entrance on the wall!”

He disappeared through the door at the top of the dark stairs. Cyril chased after him, followed by Desmond and Mai. Then the servants came, quickly followed by a few soldiers and a mass of murder hungry monsters.

“They got a troll!” One of the soldiers cried out just as the stairwell exploded just as Mai reached the top. Dust billowed out of the doorway as a few coughing soldiers and servants made it through.

“They’ve destroyed the stairs!” A large older lady cried out.

She wore a simple faded green dress with a green bloodied apron over it. She had a spear that had broken just below where the head would have been, but it still dripped with blood. A testament to the lethality of the weapon. Just as soon as she called out though, the sound of shuffling bricks pained their ears and the laughter of a troll reached them.

One of the soldiers looked into the staircase but then tried to quickly shut the door. Only, a large fist the size of the man’s head punched the door off its hinges. The door flew, splintered and split in half along with the man, across the room. The debris took out a few servants and killed the unlucky lady that had called out.

Whatever shock that had gripped Priscilla had finally broken and she screamed.

« ◊ »

Rynnaid had been pleased with the first half-hour of the monster army’s assault on the keep. They had followed his superb orders to focus on the gates. Within fifteen minutes or so, they had ripped it open with the help of ten trolls. Most died in the process, along with the lesser monsters, but Rynnaid had expected to lose a few grunts to take the gate.

What he had not expected, was the slow process of claiming the rest of the castle. He snarled at their incompetence. None of the monsters were had even thought to go over the wall! He glared down at them, aura pressed down over them, and the monsters were almost killing each other to get within the keep. It would have been comical to the dragon had he not felt his honor trampled upon by their stupidity.

“This is why they’re beneath me.” He growled to himself. “They cannot even think for themselves.”

What the dragon had failed to understand, he never told them what they were attacking. The lesser monsters only knew once they had charged down the slope to see the keep. The only order was to “Attack their gates and kill all the humans. Claim their walls.”

Regardless, the dragon looked over the siege from the luxurious view of the eastern mountain summit. His large body was the length of a Boeing 767, and large – girth wise.

He contemplated intervening since it was taking too long. With thousands of monsters down there, the keep should have fallen.

“I should just smash it.” He growled and a small puff of smoke leaked out.

Just as the words left his maw, part of the wall above the outer bailey exploded; as a troll arm punched through it. Its fist clenched with a human in its bloodied grasp. The dragon smiled at that, but the smile quickly cramped up as the arm slid out the hole, severed. It was a cleanly cut as blood a large trail of blood was left in its wake.

“Hmm…” He contemplated. “Maybe… One of the piglets might be able to entertain me.”

The troll who had lost its arm bellowed in pain that managed to momentarily stop the flow of monsters. All the monsters below froze at the sound, unsure of what to do. Rynnaid let out a mighty roar, ordering them to continue or die. Thus, the monsters quickly continued their scramble to take the keep and its walls.

The dragon kept his eyes on the battlements for someone who looked powerful, only to see a gaggle of girls burst out of the door near the hole. The first one was a beast girl, then a black hair child followed by a white hair –

His heart skipped a beat for a moment.

The sight of the girl sent a chill through him, a deep-seated primal fear at the sight of the girl. He had the intense urge to fly and never be seen again, but he couldn’t. His pride fought back.

Just mere mortals! He raged inside his heart, attempting to calm himself.

Yet he couldn’t. His heart raced and he felt slightly weak. Rage overpowered the fear, and he leaped from his perch to kill the human that made him feel that way.

« ◊ »

The man who was supposed to show them the other entrance had been killed in the grip of the troll. Cyril didn’t mind it though. She didn’t know why, but she was over the moon in joy. The feeling of her sword as it cut down the first goblin… She felt… Alive. She felt powerful. It took a lot not to burst out in laughter. In the stories, the main characters usually had a moment of moral conflict at their first kill. Maybe a few chapters of shock or so.

Cyril didn’t feel that. She had already accepted that this was her new reality. Maybe it was a dream, maybe she was in hell. Maybe… Maybe… She didn’t care. She finally had the power to fight against death, dream or not.

She watched the troll slide down the broken staircase, his blood pooled on the floor between the bricks and quickly tainted with dust. None of the soldiers from below had survived, and the few servants that had made it up were terribly wounded. She was about to go back down the stairs when Priscilla stopped her and pulled her away.

She turned to the back just in time to see Mai spartan kick a door open.

“We have to go!” The young teen cried out as she tugged the goddess with her.

The sight of the terrified girl was enough to make Cyril abandon the idea of rejoining the fray below. She followed after her and the group stalled at the base of a broken tower.

“Which way!?” Desmond asked Mai

“I don’t know!” She yelled at him in duress. “The man who was leading us was just killed by that fucking Troll!”

The two argued, but Cyril was quick to turn her attention to the sudden dragon’s roar. It was loud, but only if you weren’t in the thick of battle. The battlements were filled with screaming men, soldiers, and monsters that poured through other openings on the wall around the inner bailey. A lot of goblins were actually climbing the catwalk that lined the other bailey, much to the defender’s fear.

The child-sized monsters smelled horrid and their looks fared little better. Their little goat eyes made Cyril cringe when she first saw them, but they were designed that way. She contemplated the fact that there were cute goblins in the world, just unhappy these weren’t those goblins. Her mind was ripped away as a goblin spear cut the air by her hair. To her, it was slow and she sidestepped it with a scowl. She was about to return the favor with a fireball, but Priscilla pulled her away.

“It’s dangerous!” She cried out.

Cyril turned to let the teen pull her away to return to the group as they followed the wall towards the cliff face in hopes that the other entrance would be there, and unenchanted like the one below.

But the dragon did not want them to escape.

Another roar, much, much louder one; broke the fierce battle. When Cyril turned, she saw the dragon gliding down – towards them.

« ◊ »

Rynnaid soared over the long wall that the humans thought would separate the forest from their pitiful lands; ready to bring retribution upon the filth for their transgression. The transgression to disturb his heart, the insult to his honor and pride. Even now, he felt his heart scream to pull off. When the girl looked to him, her eyes locked with his – he did just that.

Because a ball of golden flames rocketed at him and every instinct screamed that it was dangerous. His pride had made him hesitant and he pained for it as the flames crashed into his left side, just beneath his left front leg.

He felt the area scream with pain. His scales failed to protect him and he felt a few had even gone missing from the impact, which sent him soaring out of control. He was too low and flying too fast to stop. The inevitable result was that he crashed into the monster field land in front of the walls. He barely felt the tens of bodies beneath him and he slowly rose along with the fear in his heart.

No! He screamed in his heart if only to keep whatever dignity remained. I am a dragon! 

His ego quickly beat down the fear as his mind raced to catch up. He took in his surroundings and found himself facing away from the keep. He turned around and was quickly found the target of his ire.

“You!” He bellowed. “White-haired wench! Come and face me, die for your transgressions!”

He challenged her. Neither monster nor human was stupid enough to not realize it, but the girl in question only laughed.

“Did… Did…” Her words were interrupted by another chuckle. “Did he just challenge me…? After I blew him out of the sky?!”

It was too…. Stupid!?

She knew she wrote that dragons were a prideful race, but to challenge her during a siege? Wasn’t the idea to just wholesale slaughter?

“You dare mock a challenge?!” He roared.

His earlier fear and the pain of his wound were forgotten as rage replaced them.

“No, no!” She chuckled sweetly, much to everyone’s dismay. “I accept.”

“Come and face your death! I’ll- ” His words were cut off.

The white-haired girl had stepped onto the parapets just as the monsters around the dragon cleared the field, happy to break away, but also annoyed they wouldn’t get to kill either. The girl’s actions were interesting to the dragon, almost childishly amusing. That was until two regal angelic wings sprouted from her back. Her fair and beautiful face stained with green and red from monster, and human blood, alike.

The aura he had felt earlier, ancient and commanding, overtook the area. The humans were oblivious to it, but to those verse in mana and those of the immortal races, felt it all too well.

Fear and trepidation crept back in as he felt his heart stutter from the sight. He was almost inclined to call her a fake angel until she leapt from the stone wall and charged him; sword in hand.

« ◊ »

Cyril dove at him, though it was easy enough to do, she still wanted to see what would happen if she fought the dragon head-on. Would she die? Would he die? The anticipation excited her and she was all too willing to find out.

The dragon seemed startled by her wings and hadn’t reacted in time to her attack, again. For that, he lost his right-wing as he tried to jump aside.

The dragon roared in pain as he tried to put distance between them. With the lack of practice with her new wings, she didn’t have the experience to stop in time and crashed into the grassy field below. Dirt and rocks shot forward from the impact. Cyril stood; her sword impaled in the ten-foot deep crater. Her tight grip on the sword had saved her from tumbling around.

She jumped out of the crater and into the air. She had enough time under her wings to figure out how to hover, albeit, it was quick annoying to do. However, the more she did it, the more she liked this ability to do so. It let her stare into the dragon eyes on the same plane.

“Well?” She smiled at the dragon.

Yes. It was fun.

The smile scared the dragon, but he had courted this himself. It only took him a moment to resign himself to this battle. He charged at the girl and snapped at her with his massive jaws, but she quickly dived away; leaving a long cut down the center of his lower jaw. Blood began to pour from the deep cut and Rynnaid scrambled back as he roared.

Cyril crashed into the ground. She quickly recovered after having put too much momentum into that drop. Lucky for her, the dragon seemed momentarily occupied with her sudden gift.

Rynnaid shook his head, rage slowly building. Enough was there to cloud his judgment and he only wanted to strike back.

His neck coiled back as he inhaled quickly, then, exhaled a firey inferno upon the goddess.

She disappeared in the storm

“No!” Priscilla and the others cried out from the battlements in unison.

It was in vain though.

The dragon’s fire died away after a few seconds and Cyril remained unchanged.

“That was a cool trick.” She said as she looked up at the dragon who stood no more than fifty feet away. “I think I’ll try it.”

There was a spell to cast fire like a dragon, one powerful AoE effect. The hard part was the inability to just cast via a skill bar. The need to know how to do something, mixed with the ability to do so – as Desmond had said – was important. Unfortunately for the Dragon, he had just shown Cyril how to do it. She inhaled a lungful of air, her chest puffed up. Then she released it.

« ◊ »

Rynnaid roared in agony as his lower half was engulfed in the fire. His pride, his honor, and even the fact he was a Great Fire Dragon had fled his thoughts. Only the unending pain of being burned alive filled his mind. The golden flames washed over his front legs and his back legs. He felt all four limps burn. The fires even kissed the lowest point of his stomach. And. It. Hurt.

The did the only thing he could do and jump away, albeit, clumsily. It was enough to get out of the funnel of fire though. He stared at the charred earth that glowed red from the girl’s fire. The rage that had been grappling with his fear had finally lost the battle. Not even dragon fire could do that within just those short few seconds. Even with mana behind it.

“Yup.” The angel said. ” Wicked cool”

She turned to him with a grin and started to walk towards him, sword in hand.

“C’mon.” She said playfully. “Let’s finish it. You said you’d kill me, right? Sorry dude, but I’ve already died once.”

Rynnaid could only scramble back as the angel walked towards her with that murderous smile.

“Stay back!” He pleaded; his voice weak. “Demon!”

“Nope.” She said.

She flung another ball of fire at him, but he was too close to doge. The ball crashed smashed into his chest and he was flung onto his back. His head smacked into the stone wall and he felt it shake from the impact. His chest burned and he couldn’t feel much there besides the burn.

“Just a girl.” The voice was closer now.

The dragon rose his head and came face to face with the white-haired demon. She stood on his chest and looked up as he arched his head to look. Her wings flicked out, flapped, and she lunged at his head.