Wizardquest Chapter 15: What Matters Most

“Good evening! What brings this intrepid group to my fort?” He asks jovially, although you can tell he’s scanning you for trouble.

“Thank you Commander. I am Hero Blake, and we are merely stopping through on our way further north.”

The captains eyes go wide at this. “You can’t mean to say you’re going… But lad, haven’t you heard? Monsters are stepping up for an invasion, hells, even south of here is dangerous, why we just had an outrider return, missing her horse and..”

Your eyes go wide and you step forward. “What did they look like?”

Creador studies you for a moment before slowly replying, “Carla is average height with black hair and…”

“By the gods..” You whisper as the others realize this as well.

Creador looks about, his face serious. “What is this, is there s threat? Speak now, quickly.”

You lick your lips, “We think that this Carla may not actually be Carla, that it might be a monster impersonating her.”

The commander nods and barks an order to a near his guardsman, and he dashes off quickly before the commander turns back to you. “Thank you for the warning, we’ll keep her locked up until we can…”

He is interrupted as another man runs up, panting before throwing a quick salute, “S…sir, beg your pardon, but we’ve found a corpse or… Well a skeleton of all things near the barracks, hidden in a side corridor under some rags”

“A.. Skeleton? What nonsense is this?”

“Sir, I don’t know, but there we also found most of a uniform nearby, and we think it belonged to Carla.”

Everyone goes deathly quiet for a moment before the commander glares at your party and then raises his voice. “Initiate Lockdown!”

Everything is still for a second before a furious bustle of noise echoes in the fort as gates are barred and men move about. You feel an echo of power thrum in the air and you realize that magics wards are being set up. You look to the Commander as he sets his orders to be followed and he turns back to you.

“Nothing gets in or out. Sorry Hero, but until this thing is found and dealt with, we’re on full lockdown.”

The entire fortress was a mass of movement as soldiers began to move to and fro, orders being barked between the chain of command, defenses be prepared, people arming themselves. It was an organized chaos, but you had to admit, despite having no true invasion for generations, these men and women were well trained and well coordinated. It spoke volumes of the Commander, and of the true horror of a monster invasion. This fort had never once fully held back an invasion, and the men and women back then were surely just as brave. It made your spine stiffen thinking about it.

A runner took off from Creador, taking off further into the complex to give orders before he rounded upon your team again.

“Hero! I need information, now. What did you bring into my fortress?”

Blake blinks, a little surprised, but he quickly slips into a parade ground-excellent stance and looks the man in the eyes. “Sir. As far as we understand it, this is an unknown monster type which has the ability to be highly corrosive and can change forms at will. It’s natural state is black and leaks corrosive fluid capable of eating away metal in moments.”

Creador curses. “So you’re telling me we have some kind of slime in here? Some kind of shapeshifting slime who killed one of my soldiers and… What, wore her down skeleton?”

Blake looks to you and you cough into your hand before taking a step forward. “That is a reasonable conclusion from the available data, yes.”

The commander eyes you up and down before crossing his arms and nodding to Blake. “Who is this?”

“This is our wizard, a companion upon our quest further north.”

Creador narrows his eyes, “Wizard? That some kind of sorcerer? Phah, we have enough trouble with that Holy Terror, Margurette…”

“I’m sorry, what was that, your LORDSHIP?” Says a smooth, imperious voice from behind the commander.

Everyone turns about to spy a short, lithe woman walking toward your group. She was maybe 5’6″ with soft, creme colored skin and short, black hair that hung around her neck. She had brown eyes which were hard and focused entirely on the commander as she grit teeth in a false smile. She couldn’t have been more than 19 you guessed, but she wore a suit of heavy armor as if it weighed nothing, and at her side was a small hammer, obviously used in her duties. She was absolutely covered in Suns of Solos, some which seemed quite unnecessary, but she obviously had some holy connection.

“Well? What is this all about?” She demands,looking over your group, pausing as she gets to you, before going back to the commander. She’s about to speak when Veronica coughs into her hand.

“…Hello Margurette.”

The shorter aspirant looks to Veronica and then sniffs, pointedly ignoring Veronica before going back to Creador. Your aspirant blinks a few times before clenching her fist, her face twitching as she stares at the ground, obviously furious at being so readily dismissed. These two obviously had some history together you suspected.

Creador eyes the two, then sighs. “We were merely speaking of wanting your opinion on the situation, Aspirant. There is a monster loose in the fortress, one that could be impersonating our personnel and is impervious to steel.”

Margurette looks to the Commander with a look of disdain. “That seems like a gross negligence on your part, SIR, I had expected better of you.” She sniffs, “So, you require the light of Solos to purge this beast from our midst, hmm? So be it, if it will allow me to return to the chapel all the swifter.”

You take a step forward as she lifts her hammer from her holster and you lift a hand in a halting gesture. “Easy now, easy now. This monster is probably scared and confused, and if we handle this situation poorly, it could start really hurting people. I’d recommended against attacking it so openly, instead I say we trap it.”

Margurette narrows her eyes. “You are some form of hedge Mage, yes? Clearly from your robes, I can tell, but what possesses you to believe that capturing this…” She hisses the next word, “abomination, would be beneficial rather that simply destroying it? You sound as if you care for the beast.”

Your mouth goes dry and you look down, clenching Harmony, the staff sending out sympathetic pulses. “I just… Think that maybe we’re being a little hasty is all.”

The Aspirant looks you over and then sniffs, turning about. “I see. Very well then, we shall try it your way, Mage.”

“Wizard, actually.”

She looks at you over her shoulder and raises an eyebrow. “Did I stutter?”

You blink in confusion for a moment before sighing as the commander shrugs sympathetically. He nods and points at you. “You, wizard and the Lizardman, go with Margurette and scout out the the barracks, see if you find anything odd. She’s been here long enough to know most of the people, see if you find anything out of the ordinary.”

He then points to Blake. “Hero, you, the wolf, and the other aspirant head off down the mess hall. Head counts are being performed, see if anyone is missing with the sergeants.”

The two Order warriors snap a quick salute before dragging Hala with them. Tabitha steps up and looks the commander square in the eyes. “I will require a new blade if I am to be of use in combat.”

Creador blinks at her. “I am not in the habit of giving away weapons to monsters, you’ll have to forgive me, MISS.”

“Oh just give her a sword, not like it will, matter much.” Says Marrgurette as she starts walking off to the interior of the fortress wall complex.

Creador rolls his eyes and stops a passing soldier, demanding his blade. The soldier complies before running off. The commander looks it over before grunting and tossing it to Tabitha, who catches the short blade deftly, looking it over before grunting herself.

“Man didn’t use this much, did he?”

“Hunh, yes Vickers always preferred the spear.”

Tabitha attaches the sword to her belt and nods. “A cowards weapon.”

Creador looks at Tabitha appealingly before snorting. “Perhaps true, but it’s a very effective weapon.”

“Still not a sword.”

The two eye each other for a moment, appraising the other’s strength before Margurette utters an impatient sound and you walk forward, tugging on the lizard man’s arm. She nods and simply turns about and heads with you into the interior of the walls.

The walls were a confusing honeycomb of tunnels and passages, leading to various rooms of varying purposes inside the fortress itself. You found it staggering that someone could navigate something like this, and you realize that perhaps that’s the point. If you couldn’t figure it out, how could the enemy? Of course the enemy was monsters, so perhaps navigating was a little easier when you had like, a dog’s nose or something.

Margurette took point, guiding through the tunnels, which were mostly absent at the moment, which soldiers posted at more critical locations. She stopped at various intervals, looking down passages before choosing her path. You felt she was probably being overly cautious as she went, but your spawn could be anywhere, so maybe it was warranted. You felt a shiver down your spine thinking about that and you became acutely aware of all the sounds around you.

A creaking sound plays out behind you and you jump, staff blazing to life to see Tabitha standing behind you, a concerned expression on her face. She looks to where you were looks and narrows her eyes, hissing, “What it is?”

You raise your finger to your lips, moving slowly toward a small side tunnel, ready to blast with magic if necessary. You take a deep breath and quickly turn the corner, raising your staff high in the air to see the source of the sound!

A rat pops its head out from some wooden boards, then squeaks and runs away, making more creaking sounds. Bubs snickers in your pocket as you heart starts to calm down. You glare at the rat as he picks his nose out from your pocket.

“Geez, calm down Big Guy, it was just another rat.”

“Clearly.” You grumble internally, angry at yourself.

“Well, at least it smells like she was a fine specimen, let me tell you that.”

You raise an eyebrow, looking at your pocket. “Don’t tell me you’re looking for a girlfriend?”

“What? And let you have all the fun with your kitty-cat?”

You roll your eyes and turn around to look into the face of Margurette who taps her mailed foot on the ground, her arms crossed against her chest. “Are you QUITE finished?”

You blink and nod slowly. “Sorry, I thought I heard something…”

“Clearly. Does this monster frighten you so much that you jump at every little shadow, Mage? It is just an abomination, isn’t it? Clearly the light of Solos is more than suited to purge it.”

“Wait, I never said I wanted to purge it, I just… Feel responsible for her.”

The aspirant raises an eyebrow, “Her? Ha, you speak of it as if it were a creature on par with a human.” She casts a glance to Tabitha who doesn’t respond with anything but a cool stare.

You get a little angry at that. “Listen her LITTLE girl, monsters are people too. Yes, we have our differences, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to sit there and let you slander this child because you have your damn convictions.”

She lifts a lip in a sneer, “Child? Ha, what is it, your daughter or something?”

You snarl back, before you can think it through, “And if she is?”

The aspirant blinks, taken aback by your statement. She blinks her eyes multiple times, looking like someone slapped her across the face. She seems to shake and then looks about for a moment before shaking her head and turning about, before placing a hand to her head and shuddering.

You, feeling concerned, take a step forward, but she raises a hand to stop you, still holding her forehead. “Stay. I am merely filled with… Such righteous rage at the moment. It will pass.”

You look to Tabitha who shrugs, moving her hand from her sword blade slowly. Clearly she had taken the possibility of an altercation breaking out. Good ol’Tabitha, clearly on top of things, having your back.

Margurette shudders one last time before taking in a deep breath and continuing on. “This was, MAGE.”

You sign and continue after her. It’s a short trek to the barracks from there and when you arrive, you see a few soldiers carefully working on the skeleton. The damn thing was picked clean of all muscle and tendons, and the eyeless skull bore into your own. You shudder to think that a human used to around this, used to be living and breathing mere days ago. And now your… You hesitated to use the word, “daughter,” but that’s basically what she was, had eaten and wore these bones like the person who had inhabited them beforehand.

You felt a little sick thinking about it, and the fact that she could very well have already claimed another victim and wear them around this very moment.

As you approach the men, they throw crisp salutes at Margurette who simply sniffs. “His Lordship’s orders, we are to investigate the skeleton and this area for signs of this rogue monster.”

The men gathered around look between themselves before a man with sergeant’s stripes walks forward. “Of course, ma’am. We discovered the remains as well as the uniform a little over an hour ago, but no sign of the creature.”

“Tell us about Carla when she arrived to the fort.” You say and Tabitha nods next to you.

The man rubs his chin thoughtfully. “Well, she seemed a little worse for wear when she arrived, of course we didn’t know at the time she was…” He points at the skeleton. “She was sort of confused, didn’t seem to know where things were really, forgot people’s names at times. We attributed this to her condition.”

You nod, thinking about this. “Did she look different, any abnormalities you might have noticed?”

“This hardly seems useful.” Sniffs Margurette as she looks to you with disdain. Her favorite expression.

You ignore her as the man continues. “Well, no. She seemed her usual self, although she didn’t seem to stumble a few times, like her balance was out. We left her to her bunk, thought she might need some time to recover, you know?” He shakes his head, “Didn’t expect this though.”

You rub your chin in thought. “No one is missing from here, are they? Anyone off on their own?”

The man shakes his head. “No, it was mess time for most of us, this area was empty save for her.”

You nod your head an turn to your companions. “Well, it looks like we won’t find much here, let’s head further down…”

“Uhm…” Comes a diminutive voice, and you turn back to see a small man dressed as a private. “Permission to speak sir?”

The sergeant sighs, “Damnit Franklin, you know you don’t have to ask every time you want to say something.”

The man nods shakily, “Of course, sir.” He looks at your sheepishly before taking in a deep breath. “I… I might have seen something.”

You turn around fully, excited. “You did?”

“Uhm, yes, sir, uhm. Well, you see, I was the one who found the skeleton and I uh, noticed that on the wall there was a sort of… Spot missing? Like something had gouged a mark into it.”

You furrow your brow. “What do you mean?”

“Well, this was new, let me tell you I’ve had to wash all these walls, so I know, but this mark was fresh, like something… I dunno, corrosive? Dragged against the wall.” He pointed further down the hallway. “It seemed like it made the mark heading toward the inner complex.”

The sergeant frowns at the man. “Damnit Franklin, these are the kinds of things you tell people.” He rubs his chin. “Hrn, that way lies the command chambers, the mess hall, and the chapel. Looks like our guest might’ve made its way there.”

Margurette huffs, “Toward the chapel? Such an unruly beast,should it defile but a single candle in my sanctum…”

“Of course, of course.” Says the sergeant before he sighs. “I just hope they find this damn thing and lower the wards in the command chamber. Knowing something that did this to poor Carla is on here… Sends a shiver up my spine.”

“Perhaps you need more of Solos’s light in your life then.” Sneers Margurette before she turns about. “Come, Mage, lizard. We have places to be.”

You exhale sharply before nodding to Tabitha and heading behind the aspirant. What a fucking bitch, holy hells. Maybe she really did resent being up here as a “sacrificial lamb.” Or well, perhaps she just loved Solos that much. Veronica was sort of an abnormality you reflected.

The tunnels further ahead were also clear of people as before and you set into a state of readiness again, scanning around you. It seemed slim chance that she was around here, when there were more people ahead, but you felt it was wise to be cautious. Tabitha kept her normal, alert yet cool, attitude, but you could tell she felt something was off also.

As you turn a corner, you see Margurette suddenly stiffen, her hand on her warhammer. You quickly channel power into Harmony, heart beginning to pump quickly as the aspirant cries out, “There! It ran down there!” And she springs forward faster than you can believe, tearing down the hallway and around another corner.

Surprised, you see Tabitha peel off before you can move, her powerful legs carrying her forward with blinding speed as she chases the aspirant. You slowly start moving behind them, picking up speed when you hear a loud cry of pain from Margurette. You move faster, rounding the corner and seeing Tabitha standing over the aspirant, showed out as she scanned before her.

Nothing was in the tunnels ahead, but Marguette was on the ground, coughing. A dent present on her breastplate. You quickly help her up and she points down the hallway. “There! It was the commander! He hit me with his hammer and ran off, clearly not expecting me. The damn monster must be impersonating him.” She grits her teeth. “He must be heading to the command chambers to shut down the lockdown and escape!”

You look to Tabitha who narrows her eyes. “I didn’t see anyone, but this creature has shown remarkable speed beforehand.” She stares down at Margurette, inspecting her armor before lifting the aspirant up slowly. The smaller warrior nods and looks down the hall.

“We must hurry!”

You nod and don’t question as you run down the hallway after the armored warrior, running through tunnels, quickly running into people as you reach populated areas. They shout and chase after you, but from a barked command from Marguette, they stand down. Clearly the commander must have not been questioned as he ran through, but why weren’t the other soldiers concerned beforehand? This was… Odd.

You quickly reach the command center, where two guards before the door had their spears leveled at your approach. Marguette grunts as she comes to a halt. “The commander… Did he just enter?”

The guards look between themselves and before nodding. You curse and take a step forward, but they hold their spears to you. You snarl, “Damnit, the commander might be the monster! He’s going to turn off the lockdown!”

The guards blink and look to each other, concerned before one nods and opens the door quickly, your group stepping inside quickly to see Commander Creador look up from a panel filled with runes. “Who let you in here?”

Margurette steps up and backhands the man across the face with her mailed fist, causing the man to fall to the floor, clutching at his face. The guards open the doors, their spears ready, but Tabitha halts them, calling to gather your party instead, which one quickly does, the other quickly slamming the doors shut, sounds of alarm starting behind you.

“What is the meaning of this?!” He snarls, hand drifting to his sword.

Margurette, in strength belying her frame, takes the man by the arms and screams a prayer to Solos before slapping a seal from her belt on him and pushing him away. “Now wizard!” She screams.

You raise your staff and cast [ice] sealing the man up to his chest in the stuff, and he struggles, trying to move, but is unable to do so, quickly shivering at the cold.

“W…what are you doing? G…guar!” He starts, but is quickly cut off by another backhand from the aspirant, the force of it causing him to black out.

Panting, the aspirant smirks wickedly, a mad glint in her eyes. “There! That seal should keep the energies of the monster from allowing it to shift for a time. Well done…” She looks over at the panel and frowns.

“Damn, I think he started turning off the lockdown. I should look to it, in case he wakes up.” She continues to smile wickedly, looking over the panel.

You rub your head and walk over to the frozen commander and kneel down, looking at him, or well, her. This went…much smoother than expected. Something just didn’t seem right about all of this. How could a simple attack knock out such a monster? Surely a human would drop but this? And now that you thought about it, where was the hammer the commander used to attack Margurette? How would she have even survived that?

You stand up and look at Tabitha, who was standing over your shoulder. “Tabitha…” You whisper, “What kind of hammer did the Commander use to attack the aspirant?”

The lizardman narrows her eyes and looks at Margurette. “Likely one similar to the one sitting loose in the aspirant’s very belt.”

Both of you trade a glance and then look up to the aspirant who was standing at both of you. She seems to sense something in your expressions and furrows her brow. “What? Can’t you see I’m busy? She did major damage here wizard.”

“Margurette…” You start slowly. “Didn’t you call me Mage before?”

The aspirant blinks and then narrows her eyes before sighing and stepping away from the console. “You couldn’t just let me finish, could you father? I was almost done too.”

You watch as a popping sound is heard and her hand shifts and changes into the blade of a sword, one she must have picked up somewhere and hid in her body. As well as this, one of her eyes subtly changes into the insectoid glint as it was before, giving her a true monstrous appearance.

“I suppose I’ll have to make this quick, so I can break this accursed lockdown. I didn’t think I’d be stuck here while I took a better body. The last one was fine, but it didn’t feel like me, you know?”

You grit your teeth and raise Harmony, “Damnit, that’s not how any daughter of mine should act?”

“Oh? Are you to punish your little ‘mistake?'” She snarls, flesh rippling. “Well, daddy dearest, I don’t think so.”

At that she bursts forward, blade hand forward, but she is quickly intercepted by Tabitha, who parries her strike with contemptuous ease, sending the monster back. Your spawn growls and strikes again, but is blocked by the clearly superior swordswoman, and she steps back, spitting out the sword and instead beginning to secrete black fluid from her hand, which eats away the gauntlet on her hand and corrodes the floor as it touches it.

“Damnit, don’t do this!” You shout, taking a step forward, Tabitha protecting you. “Look, I’m sorry about before, I was taken off guard, alright, i didn’t mean to call you a mistake. I wasn’t prepared for you was all and…”

She snarls, flinging corrosive liquid about. “Is that so? I’m just an abomination, right? Something you accidentally made in a damn bowl!” She puts a hand to her head, eyes shifting back and forth. “It… It hurts. There’s too many voices in here!”

You raise a placating hand. “Calm down, look, I’ll help you, just don’t do anything rash.”

She blinks, black tears running down her cheeks. “Help? How you intend to help? Can you make the voices stop? I don’t even know what I fucking am, and you ask to help?” She raises her hand, the other starting to dribble corrosive blackness as well as she smirks wickedly. “I think you just want to destroy me, yes, yes, you’re using your trickery, like you did with the swamp horror. I know these things, I can hear the voices of everything that comprises me.”

“Don’t, come on, I promise you…” You begin before Tabitha snaps,

“Get your head in the game wizard!”

Your daughter bursts forward toward Tabitha, who avoids the corrosive hands deftly, but is unable to land a blow that isn’t repelled by armor while trying to avoid being hurt. She ducks and weaves, making the other monster even more furious as she attacks, destroying maps and tables with her blows.

You watch, torn as the two battle, and you realize that the situation will quickly go sour if you don’t do anything. You look between Tabitha and your daughter and understand that magic is apt to hurt Tabitha if you’re not careful. You bite your lip and then realize what you need to do.

You quickly pull out a piece of [Wizard’s chalk] and begin to draw two wide circles as the two fight. You quickly add in a few anchor points, making them stronger, but don’t infuse any power into them. Instead you watch the flow of the battle, and grunt towards the Commander as corrosive fluid hits the ice, starting to erode it quickly. Well, so much for that plan if you were to try it.

Of course, that’s exactly what you do. You raise your staff and channel [ice] before yelling to Tabitha to dodge. The experienced swordsman does without hesitation and you magic hits the corrosive monster around the legs, causing her to slip forward as ice coats her leg, crawling up her legs.

“Dad lesson number one!” You shout waving Harmony, “Might makes right!”

She snarls and turns to the bonds, which you help unfreeze with a fire spell. She blinks and then glades at you, her mismatched eyes glinting dangerously. You waggle a finger. “Dad lesson number two! With great power comes great responsibility!”

Tabitha backs off, shouting a warning as your spawn picks herself up and charges at you. You merely stand there as she gets closer and closer, bounding over a table, her hand mere inches from your face when it hits a solid, invisible wall. She rebounds, slamming in between the small confines of the magical circle you had made and activated as she entered it. She looks about, trashing back and forth before letting our a cry of despair, placing her hands on the I invisible wall, trailing black ichor as tears continued streaming from her face.

“No….” She cries, sinking down onto her knees, her arms falling to her side.

You sigh and then tap another circle you drew, causing it to flare to life, placing you inside it. Tabitha pauses as she walks up to your wall, tapping on it with a frown.

“Wizard, what are you?….” She asks, hand still on her sword.

You just slowly sink to your knees, placing Harmony on the ground next to you. Then, with deliberate slowness, you lower the circle around your daughter and lean in, hugging her, making certain to avoid her corrosive touch.

“Dad lesson number three.” You whisper into her ear, “Mercy is not a weakness.”

She gasps and then seems to shudder before you feel her arms encircle you and more tears pour from her cheeks. Even though your robes were splattered by them, you didn’t notice any corrosive effects, which was great, that actually scared the hell out of you in doing this plan, but it seems she could control it. Good for you.

She weeps like this for a long while before whispering, “Why? Why didn’t you destroy me? I could have eaten you, it would have been easy.”

“Nah, even if you’re not truly from my loins, you’re my daughter, and no daughter of mine would do that.”

“But… But I ate those two…”

“Shhhh” you say, stroking her misbegotten hair. “I’m sure there will be consequences for that, but I won’t let them hurt you, okay? I meant what I said, I, sorry for last night. I wasn’t thinking clearly, and I obviously wasn’t ready for such a responsiblity.”

You sigh and pull back, wiping a black tear from her arachnaen eye. “But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that it was unfair of me to let you out in this world alone. I know what that’s like, and it’s miserable.”

She nods, sniffing, cute in a strange way. “Yeah… I didn’t know what to do, I was just so angry and…”

“It’s okay, it’s okay. I’m here.” You rub at your cheek. “I didn’t really think I’d ever be in this position, but you know what, that’s fine. Things will be difficult, but if you’re willing, I’ll do my best to be the proper father, help you stabilize yourself, whatever you need.”

She looks at you oddly, “You… You mean it?”

“Of course I do, don’t I uncle Bubs?” You say, the rat poking his head out of your pocket, slowly hopping down and crawling up to the monster, sniffing her before looking to you and then crawling on her leg. She smiles and picks him up, and he gently licks her nose, eliciting a small chuckle from her.

Tabitha just stands outside, scratching her head in confusion as the door bursts open, your party coming in with more guards. They stop as they see the scene before you and Veronica merely says, “What the fuck is this.”

Yep, there would be hell to pay later. She clearly needed a skeleton to hold a cohesive form at the moment, possible forever, and letting her keep the current one would be tricky. Hell you were going to have a hell of a time convincing them to let her live. The trials of parenthood you supposed, but that’s alright, for some reason you felt a strange sensation within you as you watched the slime creature play like a little girl with the rat. It was a good feeling, one magnified as she looked at you with those mismatched eyes.

“Whats my name?”

Saya

You lean back, considering. What was her name? Wow, what a question that was. You thought of some names off the top of your head but it occurred to you that this was probably one of the more important questions of your life. Whatever you named her would stick with her for her entire life.

What if you named her something like Blade? Gosh that would be embarrassing and edgy. Alexandra? No…no that seemed too formal, it just didn’t seem to sit with you. What about after a god? Dolly? Pfff, oh hell no.

You frown in deep concentration, sweat starting to drip from your brow. Oh gods this could be an even more important decision than when you chose to walk the path of the wizard and that was some serious thought. Well you were also like 15, but still, it was a rough decision, especially considering…well, anyway.

“Uhm… Are you alright?” Your daughteru asks, cocking her head and you nod your head slowly as something comes to you. Yes… Yes it could work.

You take a deep breath and slowly place your hand on top of her head and she blinks, a little confused. “Alright… From today on, your name is… Saya.”

She looks at you with wide eyes for a moment before breaking out into a wide smile. “Saya… Oh, oh thank you daddy!”

She gives you a big hug, squishing the rat in her hand who squeals a little under the pressure. You feel her odd warmth around you and you return the hug, feeling a tide of emotions that threatens to swamp you in a flood of good feelings. You couldn’t even really describe it, but for some reason seeing this smile just filled you with joy.

You can’t really figure out why exactly you feel this way. It’s not like you’d ever really wanted kids, because that would imply women and sex which is not wizardly. Not in the slightest. But when she called you Daddy like a little girl, it just sent a flutter up your spine. What an odd sensation it was, she wasn’t even a product of your loins but if she wanted to call you Daddy, then so be it.

You stroke her hair as you smile until you hear a loud coughing sound from behind you and you turn around, an annoyed expression on your face. You see Veronica, hands on her hips, leaning forward and glaring at you. Blake stands to the side, eyes closes while he rubs his forehead with one hand.

“Wizard, what the hells are you doing?” Asks Veronica, clearly furious bit keeping her anger barely checked. “Why is the Commander half frozen in ice and you’re just sitting there hugging gods damned Margurette….” She trails off as Saya looks at her, blinking her insectoid eye.

Veronica’s eye twitches and she hisses, “That’s the damn monster you fool!”

You narrow you eyes and pet the girl’s head. “No, she’s my daughter.”

Blake groans, “You’re a wizard, you CANT have a daughter.”

“He can too!” Huffs Saya, crossing her arms. “I mean, yes, he made me in a bowl but damnit he’s family.”

You raise a finger, chiding her, “Language there little lady.”

She blinks and then quirks an eyebrow, “Really?”

“You bet your fucking ass really.”

She smirks and Veronica growls, “Well whatever it is, why the fuck does it look like Margur…” Her eyes grow wide, “She killed her!”

You look to Saya and she looks away, features shifting some before she says softly, “I… We… At the time it was the best course of action and we… I had thought that it would be best to…” She looks down at her hands and then up to Victoria, both eyes now that of Marguerette. “Vero, I’m sorry.”

Veronica’s eyes widen even further and she breathes deep with her nose, as she stares at the slime thing. She opens her mouth slowly before shakily saying, “H….how did you know that name?”

Saya’s eye twists and changes back as she replies, “She is part of us… Me. The eating, it fuses and…” She places a hand to her head and winces in pain.

You quickly put a hand on her and say a few reassuring words as you stroke her hair. She shudders some before taking a deep breath and then looking up at you, shimmers of tears in her eyes. She whispers, “Too many voices….”

You embrace her gently, stroking her head before you look back outside. More guards had stormed in and the commander was freed from what was the left of the ice, the guards starting to wake him up. They surrounded your little circle and you frown as they level spears and other implements at you. What did they intend, to bring it down with point sticks? Phah!

Of course, you then hear a loud clanging sound and you turn to the door to see a thin mechanical creature made of stone laced with multiple bars of steel. It had a vague outline of a woman, which you found odd, but it had no true facial features. It was being directed by someone in an odd-looking robe-like uniform who directed it at your barrier. You watch as it clambers forward slowly, stopping in front of the barrier.

The man directing the machine sniffs and calls out in a nasally voice, “Come out of there sorcerer, or we shall be forced to take you and that vile creature out by force.”

You narrow your eyes again and turn to stand. Saya grabs onto your arms and you gently pat her on the head. “It’s alright pumpkin, I have this under control.” She gently lets go of you and you stand, facing the man.

“I will come out, but you must promise not to hurt her.”

“Phah! The creature has killed one of our soldiers and from what I hear, even devoured one of the Order’s soldiers! How can you protect this thing.” He turns his large nose up and sniffs. “Honestly I should kill all of you for treason.”

You grit your teeth. Damn, this is what you had feared. You couldn’t deny that she and killed people, but she was just a child! Sort of. Look, the long and short of it was, you wouldn’t let them hurt her, but resorting to force would end badly for you. This man was likely a sanctioned sorcerer, and that construct, whatever it was, was likely not to be trifled with.

You look over to Blake who watches the event passively, his hand on Lionsedge. No emotion marks his face, but you’re certain he’s trying to think through the situation. Of course that’s exactly what you needed…

“Stay your hand!” You say, holding up yours. The man looks at you, eyes narrowed as you point to Blake. “I require consult with the Hero. Do not invade the circle or I shall be cross.”

The sorcerer’s lip peels back and he spits out, “Such arrogance… I will destroy you and that…”

“That’s quite enough.” Says Blake, giving the man an imperious stare. The sorcerer blinks and steps back some, a little taken aback by the force of Blake’s words. “I shall speak with the Wizard. Stay your blades for now.”

The man blusters, trying to put together words but Blake cuts him off with a gesture. The man looks about before grumbling and stepping back. Blake gestures to you and you lower the circle, allowing him to step in before you close it again. With a swift gesture you cast [Privacy barrier] and everything goes quiet.

“Wizard, I’ll be blunt. Do you want to die?”

You blink and look at Blake, confused. The man rubs his forehead before continuing, “Because that’s what it looks like to me. Use a little diplomacy man.”

You huff, “I was trying to, but you’re much better at this. This is me calling it in for that punch you gave me back in Cair.”

Blake’s eyebrow lifts and he shakes his head with a little smirk. “Fine. Explain the whole ‘daughter’ thing.”

You sigh and look down to Saya, who rises slowly, clutching your shoulder. Blake gives her a small small and she blushes, holding onto your arm. You whisper to her, “Dad rule number 4, have better taste in men.” You think about it for a moment, “Actually, dad rule number 5, no men.”

She gives you a, “really?” Stare and you chuckle, looking back to Blake. “Well, as you could infer, this is not my biological daughter.”

Blake waves a hand at the magic around him. “Clearly.”

“However, you remember the event two days back? Well, I hadn’t quite realized fully at the time the implications of what I had done, but in mixing these materials….”

“And a spark from Victoria’s brain.” Says puts in quickly.

“And a spark from Victoria’s brain…” You concede, “This amalgamation of consciousness created the being before you.”

Blake studies her carefully. “Why did she kill those two women?”

Saya looks down, clutching your arm. “We… I was scared, confused. I can’t hold a shape without a framework and a voice inside us… Me, said that it was the right thing to do.”

She presses a hand to her head. “But Carla and Margurette, their voices speak loud and we… I, feel the pain of their consciousness in me. It’s… It’s difficult.”

You stroke her hair. “It’s fine honey, it’s fine.” You look back to Blake. “She can’t help it, she’s a damn child man. Yes, she has the brains of grown women merged with this swamp horror and fused with some kind of monsterizing plague.”

“You kept some of the plague?” Blake hisses and your heart skips a beat before you hold up a hand.

“No no no! Well, yes, but she sort of ate it all. Look, it’s inactivated somehow, and I think it managed to be the driving factor to create the whole new consciousness that is Saya.”

Blake looks at the girl for a long while, the whole time your heart beating furiously in your chest. You see out of the corner of your eye the Sorcerer tapping his foot as he stares at you and you feel a sort of revulsion in your stomach. Fucker.

“Oh it’s fine, if he says no, you have my permission to stab him.” Says Chaika from your pocket. You ignore her and she huffs, “Hey! Hey listen you asshole, I’m talking to you!”

“Oh no you did not, that is my line!” Says Harmony, bursting in on the scene.

“I think…she cracked a rib…” Mutters Bubs off in the corner.

You wait patiently as the voices jump back and forth in your mind before you mentally snarl, “Shut. Up.”

They do. You could probably teach your sugar-muffin some things about keeping voices quiet you suppose. Not now though. That would be silly.

After what seems like an eternity, Blake sighs deeply and shrugs. “I can’t bring myself to call a death sentence upon her, I can’t.”

You sigh in relief, but Blake raises a hand sharply. “However, I do not condone her actions. She committed murder Wizard, do you understand? She must atone for this sin if she is to make up for her actions.”

You nod slowly, holding Saya with an arm. “I understand.” You look at her and she nods glumly.

“Yes sir…”

Blake nods before turning back around. “We’ll discuss what that means later, assuming we survive our journey together.”

“Of course.”

Blake raises a hand and you lower the [Privacy Barrier] and the circle, sounds rushing back to you. You notice by this point the Commander is conscious, although shivering, and two soldiers bring him forward, his face had a massive bruise on it and he grunted in pain as he adjusted his jaw before speaking to Blake.

“Hero, you better have a damn good explanation for what occurred here.”

Blake nods, “I do. The wizard, in his ignorance, was tricked into believing that you were the monster. Circumstances seemed to point to you working at the lockdown console and you made an excellent scapegoat for the real infiltrator.”

You raise an eyebrow. Damn, you hadn’t even told him this and he figured it out. Maybe he was sharper than he appeared. You listen on as he continues.

“It appears however, that you have not sustained lasting harm before the Wizard could subdue her.”

Creador snorts, wincing a little as he does. “Phah. Says you. Look, I’ll be frank, this monster needs to be put to the sword for what it did. We exist to stop dangerous monsters and this one certainly is so.”

“I’m afraid I can’t let you do that Commander,” says Blake with a totally straight face.

The commander glares at Blake. “Excuse me, Hero?”

“I cannot allow you to dispatch the monster. She is under my protection.”

Creador’s face turns red. “What is the meaning of this?”

Blake raises a hand, Palm up. “Although these circumstances showed unexpected flaws, this creature is a new Order weapon, designed for deep infiltration. It appears to be a monster, but in truth it is an advanced magical device. I had not expected to reveal this information however, bit given the situation…” He shakes his head. “She managed to slip her original design and needed to be sedated by the Wizard. I assure you, she is no more a harm to you and yours. I cannot take back what she’s done, but sadly she is too valuable to be destroyed.”

The Commander stares at Blake, incredulous. “That is the fattest load of bullshif I’ve ever heard.”

Blake looks at him impassively, his features betraying no emotion as he whispers, “Are you sure?”

Creador reels back some, looking back and forth between Saya and Blake before he licks his lips. He seems about to say something, but the sorcerer from before interjects,

“Sire! The… Wizard… called this creature his daughter, clearly this is not an impartial resolve.”

Blake doesn’t break eye contact with Creador. “Our wizard is a little attached, yes, but tell me, have you known a practitioner who wasn’t a little mad?”

Creador searches Blake’s eyes before looking at the sorcerer who was fish-mouth gaping in shock and outrage. The commander sighs and rubs at his head. “Aww fuck this. You put me in a damn pickle you asshole. I can’t go against the Order, especially after this, but to let two deaths slide…”

“After our mission, I assure you that I will have the device brought to you for proper punishment, so long as she is not harmed.”

Creador takes in a deep breath before exhaling. “Fine. You win, the damn thing gets to live. Or whatever it does. Kill, apparently.” He glares at Saya before shaking his head and being lead off by a pair of medics.

Blake looks back to you and shakes his head as Saya sticks her tongue. You gently push on her head and she sighs, disappointed. What was with you and attracting troublemakers? Well, not that you really had any right to call the kettle black.

You clap your hands together and smile amicably. “Well then everyone, shall we find lodging for the evening? Personally I could use a good nap, hmm?”

Veronica shakes her head and stalks off while Hala tugs on Blake’s shoulder. “Hey, hey, the wizard has a kid, why not us?”

Blake patently doesn’t answer her as he gently leads the whining wolfgirl away to find rooms in the fortress. Tabitha looks at you and then walks up, staring down at Saya, who returns her gaze intently, eyes shimmering back and forth between human and insectoid. She shakes her head and looks back up at you.

“You better know what you’re doing here Wizard.”

“I do.”

She smirks. “So you say. Going to be rough keeping this little fighter in check.” She then unceremoniously ruffles Saya’s hair, to the bewilderment of everyone and then chuckles before walking out.

Saya blows a stray strand of hair upward before looking at you. “What was that about?”

You shrug. “No idea. Come on, let’s get going. They’re probably going to keep us somewhere easily watched.”

“Of course we are you two bit…what did he call you? A wizard? Phah, a fictional creature if heard one.” Says the sorcerer, hand on his construct.

You roll your eyes but Saya stares at him flatly and bares her teeth. The man lifts and eyebrow. “Oh? You wish to fight then little monster? Be my guest, Darling mk VI hasn’t seen combat in quite some time.” He pets the construct which doesn’t react. “Have you?”

You stare at the magical device and then place a hand on Saya’s shoulder, calming her. “What is that thing anyway?”

The man sniffs. “Thing? Phah, uncultured swine, this is a Halcyon Pattern mobile defense construct. Build centuries ago, these robust creations serve the greater good of Deleor as indomitable defenders!”

“Why is there only one in here?”

The man blinks. “Well, they are quite rare and not made anymore…”

“No but, for a fort this old, why is there only one.”

The man waves a hand, “Bah, well there are more but this one is the only one with a core that is functional…” He pauses for a moment before his eyes narrow. “Never mind you that. It’s none of your business.”

“What’s this core you speak of?” You press.

He scoffs, “It’s only the artificial intelligence that powers these wonders! Allows them to operate independently, run simple orders and protocol…” He scowls again and stamps his foot. “Stop that!”

You rub your chin. “So if someone put in a new intelligence core into one of these derelicts, then they might work again?”

“Well theoretically ye… Wait, no I never said that.” He point to the door. “Just get out of here damnit.”

You shrug, knowing you hit your limit and you look to Harmony. She pulses confusion for a moment and you smirk in response before taking Saya’s hand and leading her out to find a guard who swiftly took you to rooms which, as you noted, had guards posted. How nice of them. You noted also that the others weren’t around and you frowned. Guess they were just going to have you separated, and you didn’t really blame them.

The quarters were obviously for visiting guests who were not soldiers, likely merchants and suppliers and there were two beds and a little wash stand. You stretch and walk over to one of the beds, sitting down and staring at the ceiling. What a day, what a day.

“Pumpkin, I think we should look into your little multiple personalities issue in the morning, but for now…” You are interrupted as you hear a clanging sound armor hits the floor. You look over and see Saya stripping off her misbegotten armor with the ease of a novice who had done this maybe once or twice before. She huffs as she pulls at the greaves and you realize that Aspirant Margurette has a better body than you gave her credit for now that her armor was off. As Saya managed to get the last piece of armor off she began to reach to take off her undershirt and you cough, looking away.

“Dear, perhaps you should leave your under clothes on. You wouldn’t want to catch a cold would you?”

Saya chuckles, ” I don’t think I can catch a cold. Besides, this woman is wearing underclothes, although they are a little frilly…”

“Yes well, do it for Daddy, okay?”

She shrugs and then plops down onto the bed, rolling around on it with a short sleeved undershirt and trousers. She rolls up onto her arms and stares at you. “This is really comfortable.”

You smile. “Yes, it is. We won’t have this luxury for quite some time after this, so please enjoy it.”

Saya continues to stare at you before she whispers, “Do you really mean what you said? Are you sure you’re okay with me, even though I’m not really your daughter? I mean, we’re just… I’m just an amalgamation of personalities attached to a borrowed skeleton.”

You take in a deep breath and then stand up slowly, walking over to Saya and kneeling down next to her, your eyes level with hers. “Saya, I don’t care how you were brought into this world. When you called me your father, I knew that I had to protect you, no matter what. And if that’s not the hallmark of a father, I don’t know what is.”

She looks into your eyes and nods, smiling softly. You smile back and then kiss her forehead before turning to the little candle in the room and blowing it out. “Night sweetums.”

“Night Dad.”

You settle into bed, thoughts restless and you imagine the responsibility you just took upon yourself. Wow. A father huh? What a world. For some reason that thought brought you to thinking about Selene and wondering what she would think about this. You feel an odd mix of emotion between elation, fear, and dread at these thoughts.

“Hey dad?” Saya asks in the darkness.

“Hmm?”

“I love you.”

You pause for a moment before saying back, “Love you too. Go to sleep.”

You hear a rustling of sheets before you close your eyes and sleep takes you, a smile on your face.

The morning came way too quickly and you groan as a knock on the door rattles your thoughts awake. You roll out of bed as Blake enters the room, looking about. He sighs and rubs at his head.

“Honestly wizard, I know you’re late to rise, but do you have to have your daughter be that way too?”

You give Blake a mocking face before you look over to Saya’s bed. There was a lump under the sheets and you call out, “Saya, wake up.”

The lump seems to shudder abit. A moment later you hear a garbled, “G…give me a minute.”

You look to Blake who shrugs before you get up and walk over to her, shaking the blankets which seem to jiggle oddly under your touch. “Are you alright?”

“D…don’t do that!” Saya cries and you narrow your eyes before slowly pulling back the sheets some before Saya lets out another squeal and you let go, letting the covers form over her again.

You swallow some, shocked a little by what you saw. Apparently she has reverted to her normal form in her sleep, a mass of black, gelatinous goo wrapped around bones and she was desperately trying to form herself back together. You uh. Guess that was probably really rude of you.

“It’s alright honey, I’ll give you some time. I’ll be back in abit, okay?”

She shuffles some before muttering, a little more coherent, “O…okay. I won’t be long.”

You nod and stand up, looking at Blake who just sort of stares. He doesn’t say anything as he turns on his heel and walks out the door, motioning you to follow. You do so timidly, a little nervous to leave Saya alone, but you feel she can handle herself. You…think.

“Bubs, stay with her.” You say and the rat lazily drifts out of your pocket and lays on your bed,

“You got it booossss.”

You roll your eyes and continue following Blake as he leads you to the others. On the way there he goes over your supply situation, gear for the trip ahead, your planned route, etc etc, but you really were too tired to pay attention. I steady your eyes locked with the sorcerer from last night who was walking down the hallway alone, and you deviate from Blake, who doesn’t even notice your gone, and you intercept him.

“Heeeeeyyyyy buddddddyyy.” You say, sliding up next to the man.

He stares at you like you’re some kind of vampire…mosquito… thing, and he sneers, “what do you want?”

“Well, last night I got to thinking, gosh, that Durla mk. XII…”

“Darling mk. VI.”

“Yes, yes, look that construct is quite useful, but goshes, if you have others just collecting dust, why don’t I try to activate one? We could sure use the extra power on our trip you know.”

The man looks at you flatly. “You think you can power one.”

“Yep.”

“You think you can create and implant an artificial intelligence core.”

“Mhm.”

“An art lost for centuries.”

“You got it.”

The man’s eye twitches before he throws up a hand. “Sure, why not, sure, okay, if you can activate one of the derelicts in warehouse B, then you can have if.” He cackles, “But don’t say I didn’t warn you.”

You snap your fingers at him and make little back and forth pointing gestures as you walk backward before you run back to Blake who seemed to be talking about ice fishing for some reason. Bastard didn’t notice you were gone! Well whatever, you arrive in a small room where your womenfolk were arranged and they nod to you.

“Wheres your abom… I mean daughter?” Asks Veronica, still seeming a little mad.

“Oh, you know, girl time.” You say nonchalantly before blinking. “Actually I guess you do know don’t you? Well, anyway, look I know she ate your friend and all.”

Veronica’s upper lip twitches and you shut up as Blake holds up a hand. “Veronica you can berate the Wizard for his lack of conversational skills later. I already advised him of the situation, at least for the parts he was present…”

You smile sheepishly. Ah, he was only pretending to be retarded.

“Anyway, we should be set to leave soon. This is the last stretch. You’ve been through a lot together and the road ahead will get together. Three temple guardians remain before us. Tolosh, the Hunter, and the final guardian whom we know nothing about,”

“Oh, that would be third, a chimera.”

Everyone looks at you and you cough into your hand. “Communion matrix.”

Blake eyes you before addressing the others again. “Well, chimera of no, she’s very powerful and you will need to be prepared to fight. Our goal is to kill the Lady and come home alive. Any questions, concerns?”

Hala shakes her head, “I’m itching to tear out some throats!”

Veronica nods grimly. “I do my duty for Solos. And if that requires me to bash in a few skulls, well…”

Tabitha shrugs, “I’m following you.”

They all look to you and you blink, realizing you’re on the spot. You clear your throat and say, with some conviction, “I’m here until I’m not. If it requires killing a Dragon, then so be it.”

Everyone nods in agreement and you exit the room with the instructions to meet in the cart to leave in an hour. Hmm. What to do what to do. Goshes, just really

You didn’t really want to be away from your little sugar muffin, which was a new and odd feeling, but there was something you needed to do and you didn’t have terribly much time in which to do so. With a sigh you look to Harmomh and she pulses in confusion.

“Uhm. Hello?” She asks, a little confused.

“Hello Harmony. How do you feel about a little surprise?” You think, a little overeager

She pauses for a moment. “I’m not certain Im comfortable with your tone of voice.”

“Oh oh.” Cuts in Chaika with enthusiasm. “If she doesn’t want it, can I have it?”

You rub your chin and think about that. For like, one whole second before you realize that would be horrifying. No, no Chaika was being helpful but she did NOT need what you had in store. That could and would end poorly for everyone. Still, you should probably give her SOMETHING.

“Afraid not, but hey, Thanks for helping out, in your own psychopathic little way.”

The dagger is silent for a moment before you feel a sort of…embarrassment? From the blade. “Tch, well, you know, I’m sort of stuck to your hip or something so whatever…”

“Aww you do care.”

“Bah. If you’d really like to express some gratitude you’d let me have some of that sweet white. Come on, just a little sip?”

You roll your eyes as you continue down the hallways of the facility before entering into another guarded hallway in front of two very large doors painted with the letter “B.” As you approach, one of the guards holds up a hand. “Easy there, best turn around and not cause trouble.”

Chaika stirs. “Oh, oh instead of the semen can you just stab one of them? That would work too.”

“Maybe later.” You think back, studying the man.

“Tch, you’re no fun.” Pouts Chaika as you clear your throat.

“I apologize for my sudden visit, however I had business in… This is warehouse B, yes? The dear sorcerer gave me leave to study the derelict constructs inside.”

The guard looks to his friend who rolls his eyes. The first guard lifts a hand as he asks, “Who? Sorcerer you said? You mean Herschel?”

You snap your fingers, “Ah, yes, him, Herschel, of course.”

“We ain’t got no Herschel here.” The man says flatly, staring at you without amusement.

You throw up your hands and look around abit before turning back to the man. “Okay fine, I don’t know his name, but come on, those damn things are just gathering dust, right? You aren’t using them and he basically dared me to try and activate one, come on.”

The man blinks and chuckles some. “What, you want to ACTIVATE one?” He looks to his companion. “Hey get a load of this guy, says he want to ACTIVATE one of the old clunkers.”

The other guard snickers and the man turns back to you with a smug expression. “Hey now, how about you just turn about and head on back to your quarters. Thanks for the laugh though.”

You narrow your eyes as a surge of anger goes through you. Chaika needles you with a sly, “Sure you don’t want to stab them now?”

“MAYBE LATER.” You think with annoyance before schooling your thoughts. You take a deep breath and look back to the man with a forced smile.

“Come on, I’m sure we can be reasonable. If it’s as crazy a venture as you say, then I can’t possibly make it work, can I? What do you lose by letting me go in there? Not a man thing and I guess you’d gain a few laughs or something if I fail.”

The man holds up a finger. “When. When you fail.”

You huff and tap your toe as he confers with his companion. They both look at you for a long moment before he shrugs. “Fine, why not. Not much in there but old trash anyway. Come on, but know that we’re watching you.”

He opens the door and you nod your head grumbling as you slip inside. Soft light plays from tiny crystals placed along the inside of the large room, playing over multiple shelves covered in layers of dust. You notice in the corner some larger, cloth drapes figures along with other piles of parts and weaponry that apparently was no longer in use. Looks like they gave up cleaning this place, either because they were lax, or more likely this literally was just important junk.

You cough as some dust hits you before you start striding forward, looking at the shelves. Not much of value, old trophies, helmets, outdated weaponry and other armor. You pause as you see what looks to be the horn of some great beast, but you’re quickly pushed forward by the guard who chides you for gawking.

You come before one of the figures swathed in dusty cloth and you look to the guard who shrugs, waving at you. You gently set down Harmony and then firmly grasp the sheet and tear it off, showering the area in dust, blinding you as the guards snicker and cackle at your bumbling. Fuckers.

When you finish coughing about like an idiot and clearing your eyes you blink and see what you had unveiled. Sitting before you in a fetal position was a magical construct similar to the Darling mk. VI. This one, however, was obviously different. It had a feminine shape to it, true, but it was much more pronounced, the body smaller in size but the curves easier to see. You’re not certain why someone would make a battle machine with roughly C-cup breasts but okay. The exterior chassis was a light blue metal that seemed delicate yet sturdy enough to wether battle as evidenced by a few scrapes and dents here and there. You squinted down in the dim light and saw that it had a face locked into a simple expression of nothingness as opposed to the mk. VI which really didn’t have much of a face to speak of. All in all,it was a fair simulacrum of a woman.

The Old engineers must have wanted something to look at on the battlefield or guard duty you guessed, but why would there be such a discrepancy between this model and the mk. VI? You look over at the guard who scratches his chin.

“Let’s see here… Ah, that’s one of the ol Mk.II’s right? Heh, thing must have been sitting here for centuries. If the damn things weren’t made of Adamantium, it’s probably be rusted out by now.”

You look to the man and wipe some dust off your shoulder. “Why is this model so much more…” You wave your hand. “Built? Than the mk. VI?”

The guard chuckles, “Way I hear it, these things were often used to fight toe to toe with the biggest of the monsters. Felt it was rather appropriate to fight a lady with a lady eh?”

The other guard waves a hand. “Nah nah, way I hear it is what with men deserting for them Wiley monsters, they wanted something a little bit more eye catching so the men stayed on their duty eh?”

His friend snorts. “Oh, so you’re saying the soldiers back then used to jack it to the bots eh?”

“I’m sure one or two tried to fuck one or another too. Strange times before we went co-ed eh? Hear they even made pleasure ones at one point, although I ain’t never seen one.”

The first guard chuckles, “Heh, if there was, then I wouldn’t have to hit up ol’ Laura now would I?”

The two go back to their inane banter while you study the machine. Overall it appeared to be in good condition and you move to the joints to find them a little creaky, but generally well serviceable. You scan it with your [Mage sight] and find it to be perfectly devoid of any life. Yes, you can sense some aethertic nexus points inside the thing but generally speaking there was nothing running through it. It’s core was dead as a doornail and it was probably because the port inside of it was missing.

You scratch your beard, some flakes of dust falling out. Oh that was going to be annoying to fix. Hmm, so the thing worked and would probably fit your needs, but how to go about it?

“Uhm. What are you going to do?” Asks Harmony, a little curious.

“Harmony.” You ask, oblivious to her question. “What do you think about this construct?”

She seems taken aback for a moment before answering carefully. “Well, it’s not like I can overly see it much but it seems sleek, powerful and in fairly good condition. It would be an interesting asset if it worked.”

“Well.” You say slowly, “Would you like to try it on?”

Harmony is silent for a long while before she whispers, “What?”

“Well, I figure these things use artificial intelligence cores, right? Something similar to the core of this staff, however you are an actual intelligence, I bet these things were never very fast or agile because their cores were dim-witted. You, however…”

“B…but this isn’t… No one has ever…”

“Bah!” You say, mentally throwing up your arms. “I know you resent being stuck in that staff for so long. Come on Harmony, what do you say?”

“I… I won’t be a staff anymore, I can’t help your magic!”

“Sure, but you’ll be happy. That’s far more important to me.”

You get the sense that Harmony is very, very embarrassed all of a sudden. Her emotions pulse over you in a wash of joy, fear, trepidation, excitement. The tide makes you smile, and she slowly says, almost at a whisper.

“Okay… Let’s try it.”

You nod, smiling. “Alright. Now then, the real question is how to transfer you from the staff into the machine. I’m not certain I’d want to rip open the staff but perhaps…”

“Just take the gem off. I can concentrate my essence into it.”

You nod and gently grasp the sparkling gem, feeling Harmony’s essence slide into it under your fingers. With a grunt of effort you pull the gem out of its socket and feel the staff go inert in your hand. With gentle ease you place it on the floor and stare at the gem, feeling the pulses of power from it as Harmony stirs within. You look to the device and nod, slowly opening the core chamber.

“Hey, hey how come she gets a body, I want one!” Yells Chaika, whining like a child.

“When you’ve spent a few centuries as a knife we’ll talk.”

“Baaaaaaaah!”

You shake your head and look inside. There was a round area shaped rather similar to the gem, if a little larger. With gentle hands you place the core into the device and attach some hairs to it. They seem to shiver at the touch and the construct begins to human faintly to your magical senses.

Harmony seems of shiver before you. “This… Is an odd sensation. I’m… I’m not certain this is safe Wizard. It feels like it’s trying to drag me out. I…. I’m scared.”

You gently touch the little gem, fear running as a background through you. “It’s okay Harmony, shhh, it’s okay, you’re stronger than this thing, you can dominate it.”

“I… I don’t know it’s… Oh gods it’s… wizard, I… I can’t feel you wiz…!”

She goes silent.

A wave of panic flushes through you and you shake the device, thinking loudly, “Harmony? HARMONY?!” Your heart thunders in your ears as the weight of what you did races through you. Oh gods, no, you just wanted to have her be happy, you didn’t mean to! No! No this couldn’t be… You didn’t mean to…

You slump onto the device and begin to cry as the cold metal touches your skin. No… No no no, this wasn’t supposed to happen. The guards behind you look between themselves but leave you be, wondering what the hell you are doing as you hug the device. The damn currents must have dispersed her essence through the machine to the point where she became unstable and the essence known as Harmony was gone. Damnit, you should have seen this! You were so damn hung-ho though that you couldn’t stop for a second and think.

You feel a hand gently touch your shoulder and a feeling of rage passes through you, gods damned guards, didn’t they see you were inconsolable? Bastards probably thought you were crazy, well fuck them! You turn about to snarl at them but you feel another arm wrap around you and pull you close to the construct.

You flail about for a moment in a mild panic before you realize the arms holding you belong to the construct. Tears still in your eyes you slowly turn back to the construct and see a pleasant, if impassive face.

“Shhh. It’s me.” Sends Harmony.

A wave of shock and relief flows through you and you melt onto Harmony who pulls you into herself. She sighs mentally and applies pressure to you as she hugs you. At the point your back feels like it might snap you tap her lightly and she lets go with dextrous speed and a little surprised, “Oh! Sorry!”

You cough and pull back from her to the sound of amazed guards. They mill about, confused. It’s not like you were supposed to do that, right? One of them coughs and steps forward, bowing slightly.

“Uh, begging your pardon sit, but uhm. Wow.”

You lift an eyebrow at the man as you wipe tears from your eyes. Oh, now he’s polite. You look back to Harmony and she nods slowly, seeming of pause, then rise on slowly creaking joints. She looks about at herself, apparently able to see and process through the simple eyes on the faceplate.

“Oh wow, having feet and hands is weird!” She says, audibly.

The guards jump back and even you lift an eyebrow. So, these things had external auditory devices. The old magic users must have been some impressive people, that or the wars demanded impressive magitek. You do a cursory scan of the device with your [Mage sight] and find nothing outwardly wrong. Of course you’re not a magitek engineer either. No one was, not anymore anyway.

She puts a hand to her mouth and then squeal some. “Oh my goodness, I can talk!” She dances around about, flexing her fingers. “Oh and I have fingers! Can’t feel anything, but wow!”

You smile broadly. “You like it?”

“Oh i love it!” She says as she tackles you for another hug, throwing you to the floor.

You gasp some at the pressure on you and she jumps back, alarmed. “Oh goodness, I’m sorry wizard, I don’t know my own strength now!”

You cough and stand up again, smirking and wincing. “Ah… Owwww, it’s okay, it’s okay.” You roll your arm and feel it pop a little. Damn she was strong.

“Oh can we go outside? I want to see sunlight again!” She says, the constructs curvy body waggling back and forth in excitement. The guards just stare slack-jawed as Harmomy dances, obviously never imagining this to occur. Certainly the stories never told it as such.

You smirk and pick up the now useless [Staff of Gregory the great] and twirl it about before you offer your arm to Harmony who looks down and accepts. The lack of emotion on the face was still odd, but whatever, this was fantastic. You tip your hat to the guards and stride out, construct in tow.

As you walk down the halls, personnel stare and you just beam. Fuck with you would they? BAH. You got yourself a badass protector now! And you made Harmomy happy, judging by her step. Yes, she still creaked some and missed every third step, but that could be fixed with some oil and TLC. You smirk as you turn a corner and see the sorcerer with his Darling Mk.VI.

The man’s eyes go wide as he sees he Darling mk. II and he stutters some, “H…how?”

You pat the man gently on the shoulder. “Yes, yours is a newer model and bigger, but I think mine has more charm, don’t you?”

He stares at you, mouth open, inaudible sounds coming out and you stride in past, beaming like a madman. Harmony lets an an audible, if pleased sigh.

“Oh Wizard, you shouldn’t be so mean.”

“Ph saw, they deserve it. They’re just jealous of your shiny new construct body.”

“I… I suppose.” Says Harmony as you continue to walk. Soon enough you find your way back to your quarters and you knock on the door to hear a gentle, “Coming!”

The door opens and you blink as you see Saya, yet… Not quite. She was the same height and body structure as the woman she was impersonating, however the facial features were a little different, they seemed younger, more relaxed. Her hair was a different shade, more like Carla’s and her eyes were a dull brown. Well, the one that was human anyway, she still seemed to sport the insectoid eye, or at least one like it in the left socket.

“Oh, hey daddy!” She says before she jumps, noticing Harmony.

“Hello!” Harmony says cheerfully.

“Uh…uh…” Utters Saya, clearly confused, and you chuckle.

“Saya, this is Harmony. She was the essence in my staff, now put into this form. Say hello.”

Saya looks at her a little warily and then nods her head slowly. “How do you do?”

“Quite well!” Says Harmony in a pleasant voice.

You nod your head in agreement and then clap your hands. “Alright sugar, time to get your things together and go. We have a long day ahead of us.”

Saya nods and then looks over at the bed. “I don’t at actually have anything. Well, the armor I guess, but it’s kind of annoying to wear.”

You rub your chin and then shrug, “Its probably fine fine leave it then. Besides, I think staying nimble is better for you anyway.”

She smiles and then blinks as Bubs runs up her shoulder to nibble at her ear. She squeals and playfully pushes at him before the rat looks to Harmony.

“You got taller.”

“You got shorter.” She replies amiably.

You turn about and nod. “Alright, let’s be off shall we?”

You reach the cart fairly quickly and the others are just as amazed to see a construct as the rest of the fortress. They take to her remarkably well and Blake acts the perfect gentleman for Harmony, because of course he would. Damn… Charisma. The others sort of tolerate her and you all help out loading the cart. Turns out with a construct it’s a fairly quick endeavor and you stretch after placing another little crate in of purchased supplies to replace that which Saya destroyed. As you do so you look up and see Delilah who says with a casual grace, “Boo.”

You just stare into her eyes for awhile as both of you do nothing until you sigh. “Oh, right, you’re here.”

“Very nice of you to notice. Yes, no, I had a great time last evening. A cockroach kept me company as you all left. I think she made a nest in my hair.”

You smirk some at that but her expression doesn’t change. “No, really, it’s very itchy.”

You shake your head and reach down to pull at her hair when a massive roach crawls up and your arm and you reel back with a start, crying out as it squirms along your arm, being tossed into the air from your thrashing. It soars aloft until Harmomy grasps if out of the air and crushes it into paste. Everyone stops and stares as Harmomy looks down at her hand before looking to everyone,

“Sorry,” she says with an expressionless face.

Everyone chuckles and soon enough you’re all loaded up, although things are quite crowded. You had out away the now defunct staff and took up your old [Wizard’s staff] the familiar grain of the wood slides easily under your fingers and you shake your head as you feel less power than before be able to be channeled through it. Ah, well, at least Harmony was happy.

Blake nods to everyone and then slaps the reins, the horses neighing in preparation before they.. Go nowhere. Everyone looks about in confusion before their eyes go to Harmony. Despite her small frame, she was very, very dense and you roll your eyes. Right right, the whole… Weight issue. You rub at your chin and then smile. You have just the thing!

A little while later you trundle down the road at a brisk pace. Seems the [Sigil of Reduction] on the cart and Harmony did the trick and the horses barely seemed to notice the weight. Yay, you did a good for Mr. Ed too! Goshes you might as well just be a saint why don’t you now. You lean back in the cart,smiling as Saya rests her head against you, dozing off. The other women inthe cart look at you oddly for abit before seeming to remember it’s you and that freaky things happen around you. Meh.

You smile down at Saya, who was now wearing a warm little cloak form the cold weather supplies that Blake had appropriated from the garrison and Cair. Order money was good money too! You stroke her head softly and she murmurs some. Aww, she was just adorable. That is, until her eyes flew open and she started clutching at your wrist.

Your heart speeds up and you take her hand, looking her in the eyes. Tabitha noticed quickly and asks if everything’s alright and you hold up a hand, looking at the girl as she looks around sharply, facial features starting to twist and blend some. A few tears appear in her eyes and she groans before slumping and panting.

“Saya? Baby, are you alright?”

“I… I think so I… Yes.” She puts a hand to her head. “It’s becoming so painful though. Sometimes it feels like we… I am losing myself.”

You take in a deep breath and then look to Harmony who nods sharply. You look back to Saya and lift her chin. “Listen to me Honey. I think we need to do something to help you school your mind, but first I need to know what’s in there. Harmony and I are going to enter your mind, okay?”

Saya seems to shuffle at this for a moment before nodding slowly. “Okay… I trust you.”

You smile and put a hand on her head as Harmony does the same, both of you channeling your wills into her through your psychic conduit.

“Good girl” you whisper before your consciousness is sucked down into hers.

You wake up to darkness. Not like, darkness of night, no, this is darkness of the soul. As corny as that sounds when you think it, it’s honestly the truth. You could see just fine, but what you felt was… A thick, cloying sense of things being unright. Was that a word? No? Well fuck off it is now.

You look about at your surroundings and see that indeed, you are no longer in the mortal world. Or to be more precisely, you do not perceive that, because you are now inside the head of your little girl and it was quite odd indeed.

You look down and see that you stand upon a tiny island of green grass surrounded by a lake of black, sludge-like material. Ahead of you were more little islands, connected by bridges of silk that stretched on far into the horizon, which appeared to be a mass of yellow clouds that formed a solid wall all around you.

“Well, this is certainly odd.” Comments Harmony next to you.

You turn over and see your former staff in her mental form, that of a regal thunderbird. She rubs a wing up to her chin and considers the area as she tentatively takes a step about. She pauses, staring at the sludge around her before frowning.

“It seems that these all represent the dominant personalities of her mind. I suppose we always knew she wasn’t one full consciousness, but an amalgamation of many, right?”

You nod and take a step next to Harmony. “I suppose so. Still, it’s a little daunting to see all of this.”

She looks at you and smiles, “Well, when your inner space looks like a room with a chair…”

You raise a hand in a flippant gesture. “Bah! Fine fine, yeesh.” You take another look around and then look back to Harmony. “Sorry your new body doesn’t have wings.”

She blinks and then blushes some before smiling. “Oh, don’t worry about it! The fact that I can move at all is… Well it’s amazing.”

“Is the bird-lady mama?” A voice says behind you.

Both of you whirl about to see a young looking girl standing there, perhaps only 8 years old. She wore a white dress that covered her bare feet in a stark contrast to the world around you she clutched a flower in her hand that could not have come from here. Her face, however, bore a striking resemblance to that of Saya, even with two human eyes, and your heart beat as you recognized this as the personality you had come to know in this short period of time.

You get down on a knee and look her in the eyes, smiling. “Ah, I’m afraid not pumpkin. This is Harmony, you’ve met.”

Her eyes go wide as she regards Harmony. “The metal lady? You’re so pretty!”

Harmony blushes and bows slightly. “Thank you very much Saya.”

The little girl beams and you chuckle some before asking gently. “Saya… Do you know why we’re here?”

Her expression becomes a little sad, “You’re here to make the voices go away, right?”

“That’s right baby. But we don’t know where they are. Can you lead us to them?”

She considers this for a moment, looking tense. “I… I could but they wouldn’t be happy. They might try to hurt you.” Some tears start to form in her eyes. “I don’t want them to hurt you.”

“Shhh, shhh, it’s alright, it’s alright.” You draw close to hug her but she shuffles away some, crying while looking at you. “D…don’t. I might hurt you here too.”

You blink, confused. “Saya, what are you saying?”

She shakes her head back and forth and you see a row of insect-like eyes appear on the right side of her head. “She speaks so strong in here, she might come out if I’m not careful.” She shudders and the eyes vanish. “Please…help me.”

You reach out a hand to her but she runs away, vanishing into nothingness. You stand there, hand outstretched, staring off after her with a pained expression. You slowly drop your arm as you feel the touch of Harmony’s wing on your shoulder. You look up to her and she nods.

“The poor thing is absolutely tortured. Come wizard, let’s press on, see if we can’t find those which inhabit this space with her.”

You nod and take a deep breath, standing slowly. “Right then. Let’s get this show on the road.”

You look out over the sea of sludge and then down to the silk bridge. With a tentative step, you place one foot on the bridge to find it strong as steel. With a sigh of relief you start to cross the bridge only to find yourself walking from an island into a battle.

You blink in confusion as you take in the scene. Where a sky of yellow stood, now only fire against a moonlit sky appeared as multiple little buildings burned. You take an instinctive step backward to see a man dressed in his nightclothes charge down the street with a old, rusty sword before being snatched up, screaming, by a large Minotaur who laughs at his feeble attempts to try and escape. She throws him to the ground and unceremoniously rips off his trousers before raping him in the dirt.

Your eyes widen in horror as you look about to see more of the same as multiple monsters of similar type walk through the town with minimal resistance. One seems to take notice of you and bellows, charging at you. In reaction, you instantly raise your hand to cast a spell but nothing happens. You blink, confused, before the loud sound of hooves forces you to turn and run, panic in your mind.

What the fuck was going on? This was fucking insanity!

You look behind you to see the Minotaur gaining upon you and you know what you have to try and defend yourself or you were surely to be raped. Thinking quickly, you stoop down to scoop up a fallen spear and level it at the charging Minotaur. She bellows out a protest and prepares to batter it aside when you quickly pull the spear away at the last second and dodge to the side, tripping the monster with the haft,

You feel like your arm is going to be pulled out of its socket, but the Minotaur screams in protest and falls to the ground, bellowing in pain and confusion. You cheer for a moment, “Serves you right jugs for brains!” Before you see her start to rise and you quickly turn tail.

You find some cover in a nearby tavern and run, hiding behind the bar as you think over your options. Okay, so, Minotaur attack in a town, check. Raping men and possibly stealing them away. Double check. And for some reason you were here, cowering under a bar without your magic. Sounded pretty good you suppose.

You really wonder where Harmony is, but your train of thought is cut off as you notice a shape next to you pull away slightly. You take in a sharp breath and focus on the sound, your hands ready in fists to fight if needed, but you stop when you recognize what it is.

Before you sat a little girl with dark hair and brown eyes, pulled back against the bar, staring at you with tear filled eyes. She sniffs and whimpers a little at your presence and you note that her dress is stained with blood and cut in multiple places.

You gently lift a hand as say quietly, “shhh, shhh. I’m not going to hurt you.”

She flinches some and then looks about, shaking.

“Hey, hey now, it’s alright, we’re safe for now.” You smile some. “What’s your name?”

She clenches her hands as she sniffs. “C…Carla.”

Your eyes narrow some. Carla… That was the scout that Saya ate, right? Damn was this some kind of memory of hers?

“Carla, can you tell me what happened?”

“W…we were having a nice dinner with mama and papa when… When Uncle franklin came in and… And said that Monsters were attacking and then… Then a monster came in a took him.” She sniffs, “Papa tried to fight but this spider lady she… She bit him and he… He fell to the floor.”

She rubs at her eyes. “Mama… She took mama! She said she was good quality and… I want my mama!”

She starts bawling and you panic some getting close and making quieting gestures. As you do so, you hear a sound outside and you quickly slap your hand over her mouth, going very still. Her eyes widen as she looks at you and then seems to understand. You nod back at her as the sound gets louder.

On the other side of the bar you hear the sound of sniffing followed by loud hoofbeats? Glass shatters underfoot and your heart thunders in your chest as you try to keep very still. You hear the creature come closer and closer and you hold your breath as you feel her come close to the bar, leaning on it. You hear the sniffing sound again, louder than before before everything goes silent.

As you feel your lungs about to burst a loud shout echoes through the streets. “Servants! The human soldiers approach! It is time to leave with our spoils!”

The Minotaur on the other side of the bar grunts and steps away, leaving the bar the way she came. You wait a few seconds before taking a deep breath. You were safe, for now. You look back to the girl and she stares at you, her eyes wide.

“Y…you saved me.”

You smile, wiping sweat from your brow. “Not yet, but the army will be here soon.” Your expression turns serious then. “Carla, do you know where you are?”

“I… I’m in my home, in Drexler, north Deleor.”

You take a deep breath. “Carla, do you remember being a soldier?”

She looks at you oddly. “N… No, I don’t…”

“Do you remember being attacked while on patrol?”

She looks around, her face a mask of fear. “N…no, I was never, I didn’t…”

You place a hand on her shoulder. “Carla, look at me.” You take her chin when she doesn’t and she struggles. “Look at me.”

She does and you continue. “This isn’t real Carla. You know this, don’t you?”

Her eyes well up with tears and instead of a girl suddenly sits a grown woman, dressed in uniform. “But it was real… And it just keeps happening.”

You let go of her face and she curls up into a ball. You sigh and lean backward.

“Carla. Do you remember what happened after you were attacked?”

“I…. I remember darkness and… And then I felt a coldness wash over me and then voices. Telling me to submit and join. To become one. I… I was scared and so I ran away but… Then I found myself here, back all those years ago when she attacked and stole my life from me.”

She sniffs. “I was just a child…”

You take a deep breath and place a hand on her shoulder, and she flinches. “Carla. This might be hard to accept, but you’re dead. Or rather, you are the memory of the real Carla.”

She shakes her head eyes wide. “N…no that can’t…that can’t be.”

“I’m sorry, but it is. Unfortunately you were killed on patrol and devoured, part of your essence being joined into this body.” You put on a grim expression. “I know it’s scary, but your fear is causing you to relive this over and over again. You’re afraid of losing yourself again like you did before and this fear rules you.”

“Carla, you need to let go.”

She sniffles and holds herself in a fetal position. “But… But then I won’t be… I can’t be…”

“Carla… I don’t know what will happen. No one does. I’m so sorry for what happened to you, but you must let go. The pain will stop, the fear will stop. I know it doesn’t mean much to you now, but letting go will also help a little girl and allow you to become part of her. You may not be the same, but you’ll be able to help stop things like this from happening again. Don’t let tragedy happen if you can help it. That’s an order.”

She looks down and stares at the floor before sniffing. “You… You’re right. I don’t want this over and over. I can’t help what happened by living in the past.”

She takes in a deep breath and looks up to you with a sad smile as she closes her eyes. “But I’m still scared.”

You nod, “I know you are.”

The world around you seems to fade from existence agains you find yourself finishing the step onto the new island and you stumble, falling in your confusion. Harmony catches you with a wing and shakes her head.

“Wizard, be more careful. You almost fell in.”

You blink and look about. Nothing had changed yet…that did happen, right? Wait… The clouds seemed less… Agitated, possibly more of a shade of green than yellow? Did you actually do something? You look up to Harmony and she seems concerned,

“Everything alright?”

“Harmony… Did I go anywhere just now?”

She cocks her head, “Uhm. No? Are you sure this place isn’t getting to you?”

You shake your head. “Maybe. I don’t know, I feel like I was just taken somewhere and spoke to Carla in some memory of hers. I…I think I gave her peace? Perhaps if we encounter more…”

Harmony seems to consider this gravely. “It sounds as if each of the entities in here has its own little island of consciousness. Perhaps that’s what this is, some big metaphor.” She sweeps her arm out over the lake of sludge and you grimace.

“Ugh, what is a metaphor is not a poorly worded simile?”

She rolls her eyes, “Honestly wizard, I suppose I can count on you to be inappropriate.”

You sigh and then look to the next island. “If this is the same thing, then who knows what we’ll see on the next island. We should cross together, so hopefully we can face it together.”

She nods and you hold and to feather, which really makes her blush furiously. You try not to think about the implications of the horrifying act and gingerly cross the bridge at the same time.

Your foot hits a stone and you blink, taken sharply aback by the abrupt shift. You stand in a large chapel to Solos, complete with statue of the God of man holding a sun in the center altar. All around you sits elaborate mason work and stained glass, with candles and scripture lining all the walls and empty pews. In fact the entire place was empty, save for one soul who kneeled in the front of the altar, surrounded by a ring of candles.

You step forward gingerly and find that you are still holding hands with Harmony who seems to be on cloud nine. You cough and she blinks, letting go of your hand with a start. As you do so, the form in the center of the circle bolts upright, armor clinking as she draws a hammer from her side and shouts,

“Intruders! Leave this holy and sacred ground before I bring the light of Solos to bear upon you!”

You stare at the woman and find quite readily that it was Margurette, the poor Aspirant killed by Saya. You feel a twinge of guilt, but dam it, this was for Saya. Slowly you raise your hands and say in a gentle voice. “We don’t mean violence, we only wish to speak.”

She snarls back, “Peace? With a monster in tow? Hah! Next you’ll probably tell me to submit like before. Well, I’ve grown tired of your little games. Perhaps of I destroy you I shall be left free of this infernal prison.”

She steps forward, prepared to attack and you wave your hands back and forth. “Woah woah woah, easy now! We don’t want a fight!”

She doesn’t seem to care about your protests and dashes forward, hammer held high. You jump back as Harmony pushes forward, a surge of electricity flying from her strike at the charging aspirant.

The other woman bats the bolt aside with ease and continues forward, forcing the Thunderbird to fall back and dodge swift blows with the little hammer. Harmony attempts to take flight in the large chapel but the holy warrior grabs her by the leg mid-air and throws her to the ground, causing Harmony to gasp in pain. As she lifts the hammer to deal a mortal blow, the Thunderbird cries and a field of electricity flies out, throwing the warrior back with a snarl.

You you attempt to cast magic again and fail, much to your anger. Why wasn’t it working damnit? Was it because this was in someone else’s mind? Bah, damnit!

You look around for a way to help as Margurette rises, chanting litanies, and utterly ignoring you as you slink around the side of the room. As she does so she starts to glow a soft blue, her eyes matching the glow and she increases in intensity, her glow rising with the tempo. As she begins to burn a powerful blue she raises her hammer again and she shouts a cry of pure rage.

Right up until you hit her on the back of the head with a Book of Creation. The unabridged version was quite… Voluminous. It also made for an excellent bludgeoning weapon, as evidenced by the fact that the glow around her faded sharply and she staggered to a knee, dropping her hammer.

Harmony pounces upon her quickly and pins her to the ground before she can react. The woman struggles, but even her holy might cannot overcome that of a thunderbird pinning her down. She growls out a string of litanies but Harmony gives her a jolt of electricity which causes her to clench her teeth shut.

You kneel down next to Margurette and sigh, placing the book on the ground. You never really read the thing, but you had been to church a few times. It’s a rather stuffy affair to be honest, and you’d rather spend the time asleep or on the communion matrix. Besides its not like Solos DEMANDS worship or anything. You think. Again, not the religious type.

“I’m sorry I had to do that.” You say softly as her eyes switch to you.

“Heathen. He who lies with monsters shall face the lash of retribution in the fires of the Hells.”

You raise a finger, “Well first, I haven’t laid with monsters or anyone, so there’s that. Second, we never wanted to fight you, we just wanted to talk.”

“Talk with monsters is the beginning to acceptance and acceptance is abhorrent in the eyes of Solos.”

You look at Harmony who’s eye twitches a little. She doesn’t say anything and you shake your head. “Margurette, do you know where you are?”

“How do you know my name you swine?”

“Answer the question.”

She growls, “I am in the great Chapel of Solos in Galmathoria of course. But I don’t expect heretics like you to know that.”

You take in a deep breath before studying the woman. Her delusion was strong, strong enough to allow her to believe that she was somewhere that could not possibly be. It was almost obvious that even if she was in Galmathoria, the Chapel would have been destroyed or desecrated. With a heavy heart you began to speak again.

“No. You’re not. Marguerette, it’s hard to accept, but you’re dead.”

She stares at you with a blank expression. “Don’t be obtuse. If I were dead I would be resting in the bosom of Solos as one of his chosen.”

“I don’t know what you think, but you were killed in your chapel in the Fortress. You were attacked and eaten, your corporal form devoured while part of you entered here.”

“Impossible!” She snarls and Harmony sends another little jolt into her to shut her up.

“I assume you felt a darkness overcome you followed by a slowly spreading warmth? Then you found yourself being called to submit, yes?”

She narrows her eyes at you. “How do you know that?”

You shake your head, “You’re not the only victim here. I’m sorry to say but you were killed and absorbed into the monster who killed you. She… She made a wrong choice, but your refusal to accept your fate is tearing her apart.”

You look her in the eyes with a sad expression. “Margurette, I need you to let go.”

She continues to stare at you for a long time before you notice her lip twitch. You blink as she escalates slowly into a chuckle, then full-blown laughter as she rocks back and forth inside her hold by Harmony. The thunderbird grunts and keeps her in place until the laughter subsides into snickers.

“Me? Dead? By a monster? And you want me to HELP her? Are…haha, are you simple?”

“Look, you have to…” You begin but are cut off as she snarls,

“NO! I don’t have to do anything!” She struggles even more intensely and the blue power appears around her again. “I refuse it!”

Harmony’s eyes fly open as the woman easily throws the bird off her, slamming the monster into a pew, the impact causing her to slump down in mild unconsciousness. The aspirant then turns to you and picks up her hammer, recanting litanies again.

You may have panicked a little. Actually you panic a whole fucking lot and you try to blurt out the [Irate Frog Song] but it doesn’t even slow her, forcing you to run away, toward the far end of the chapel near the doors outside.

You hear a whistling sound and duck as the hammer flies past you and slams through the door in a clean motion, creating a massive hole in the wood. You stare at the hole and see… Oh that’s interesting.

You break from your stupor quickly as Margurette gains on you. You yelp and dash forward toward the door as fast as your wizardly legs can carry you and you hit the door, trying to open it, and of course, it’s locked, how great.

You flip back around to see her readying a fist to slam into you and you duck down, her hand splintering the wood. She cants a litany before throwing a other punch which you bend your body out of the way to avoid. Thankfully her armor slowed her… Some. If she hit you though, you were certainly dead. However, that could be used to your advantage.

You position yourself specifically and watch as she readies her fist. As she throws it, you quickly dive to the floor as you hear a loud grating sound of metal on metal followed by a cursing noise. You look back up to see the woman growling, however the door before you now had hole right where the lock was and it listed slowly open.

“Look outside!” You shout and despite her better judgement, she glances outside. And freezes in her tracks as a look of utter shock appears on her face.

“W…what is this?” She says as she begins to shake violently before crashing to her knees. “This…can’t be right.”

She begins to start whispering litanies as you pull yourself up and look outside. And see nothing. Not just nighttime, but NOTHING. The door swings out over a black chasm, headed down for eternity and you gulp, pulling back. It was a gamble, but it looked to have paid off and now the poor woman was reeling from what she had seen.

You kneel down next her again, slowly. You don’t say anything as she continues to babble words of faith, tears streaming down her eyes. You distantly hear Harmony stirring awake but stay next to the crying woman, her voice becoming hoarse as she comes to terms with what’s happening. Soon enough, she quiets down and just… Stares blankly.

“We’re not on Galmathoria, are we?” She whispers.

“No.”

“I’m not in heaven either, am I?”

“No.”

She just sort of deflates then, looking defeated. Her tears hit the stone floor, pooling in tiny puddles under her as she weeps. You look back to Harmony, who nods her head gently but makes no move to come closer and you slowly put your hand on her shoulder.

“I’m sorry this happened to you.”

She shudders before whispering, “But I believed… That I would go to heaven,everything I ever did was meant for this. Now I’m… I’m such here and…”

You embrace the aspirant who takes in a sharp breath before sniffing. “I know. I know. It’s hard, it’s very, very hard and I can’t imagine what it feels like. But Margurette, even if part of you is here, the rest has gone to Solos. Please, just let your anger go, and rest. End the torment around you and in your heart.”

She whimpers and nods slowly. “I… I will.”

She bows her head then suddenly begins to vanish. A moment later you find yourself stepping across the bridge again and both you and Harmony stumble forward onto the other island in a heap.

“Owwwww. Okay, wow.” Says Harmony as she stands up, rubbing her head. She blinks and looks around. “Does everything seem… Brighter to you?”

You both look about to see the clouds looking whiter and thinner, but still obscuring something in the distance. You still feel that oppressive feeling about you though and your skin crawls at the thought. Still, you sigh and stand up, helping Harmony next to you.

“Oh, that feels so much better.”

You turn around and see the little Saya again, this time with a gentle smile on her face.

“The voices are so much quieter, and they seem to understand! Oh, oh thank you Daddy!”

You smile and so does Harmony as you kneel down. “Anything for you Pumpkin. Did we do it? Is the pain gone?”

She shakes her head slowly. “No… She remains.”

You cock your head. “She? Who?”

“The spider…” Saya whispers before she seems to look about in panic. “Oh no. She knows the others are gone, she’s yelling again! She’s so loud!”

You hold out a hand as Saya panics, but before your hand touches her she vanishes. You sit there, hand outstretched before you clench your fist and look to Harmony.

“We have to go. Now.”

Harmony nods and the both of you join up together and run toward the next bridge, your feet stepping across the grass and onto…

Your feet hit damp earth and you feel a sense of oppressive heat and humidity upon you. Instantly you begin to sweat as you look about to get your surroundings. It was a swamp, very similar to the swamp you had been in when you met Victoria, but all around you were webs. Tons and tons of spider webs, coating all the trees and plant life.

And it was all scorched and burned.

You look to Harmony who also notices the scene and she returns the gesture before nodding forward. You take a deep breath and look resolute as you try to produce magic. Damnit, nothing again. Well, you’ll manage, somehow.

The two of you walk down a path in the swamp, seeing more and more webs about you. You can’t help but feel like you’re being watched somehow and you keep looking over your shoulder. Damn, if she was as scary in this place than she was in real life, you’d be in trouble indeed. In fact, you’d have a damn hard time beating her. But damnit, Saya needs you!

As you step into a clearing, Harmony quickly grabs you and pulls you back,making a silencing gesture. You nod, heart beating before you slowly look around the corner.

Sitting in the middle of the clearing, surrounded by a massive web, sat Victoria. She merely sat there, back toward you as she gently worked at something. You look to Harmony who nods briskly. Maybe she was too busy to notice you? Something felt off about that but this was clearly her… The best chance for success was to attack with initiative and you both knew that.

Taking a deep breath you count to three with your fingers, then quickly turn the corner as Harmony charges her lighting. As you do so however, Victoria slowly turns about in place and you freeze, feet sloshing in the wet mud.

Victoria was as you remember her, however on the right side of her face, the side that was burnt by the explosion, nothing but a sea of blackness swam, splitting her visage into two. She smiles as she sees you, one who’s wick news is magnified by her horrifying visage.

“Ahhhh, wizard! How good of you to visit me in my new home! I do hope you’ll pardon the mess, I’m in the process of cleaning up some vermin.”

You grit your teeth and wave to Harmony to stop her attack and she does so before you growl out, “What are you doing to Saya?”

Victoria cocks her head some. “Saya? What is this Saya? All I know is that something wishes to control me and I can’t have that.” She smiles wickedly and points at you “All I have to do is find and kill the little girl and I will rule this miserable place. However… Before I do that, perhaps you’d like to make good on my offer? You know, the one I made before you killed me, of course.”

You narrow your eyes. “I think I’ll pass.”

She huffs as a predatory smile comes upon her face, “A pity. Oh well, I suppose I’ll just have to kill you then.”

The maniacal smile appears upon her face again and she dashes forth faster than even when she was alive, her chitinous arm raised to grab you, but before she can grasp your body, she pauses, narrowing her eyes as she turns about.

“Ah, the vermin is here. Attached to him are we?”

Behind her stood Saya, clutching her flower as she stared at the larger Monster. The little girl sniffed some and then stood up straight as she matched eyes. “Leave my Daddy alone!”

Victoria snarls and rounds on her stepping close. “Your daddy hmm? You have the nerve to destroy my rest and then ask me to spare your daddy? Ha!” She lowers her head, blackness coming level with Saya’s face. “Well, after i take over, I think I’ll fuck him so hard that he starts calling me his little girl, hmm?”

She pulls back some, wicked smile returning as she chuckles. “Oh but thank you for saving me the effort of finding you. I suppose you really do love your so called papa, don’t you? Ah well, let’s dispense with the formalities then.”

In a fluid motion she slaps Saya, sending the girl flying into a tree, forcing her to bounce along the ground, crying out in pain.

You shout and run forward to help out, but you’re also slapped away with contemptuous ease as Victoria, easily more insane than she was in the flesh begins to cackle as she easily deflects a bolt of lightning from Harmony, snickering as she slams the thunderbird aside in a swish of her abdomen. Before Harmomy can regain her feet, she dashes to Saya and picks the girl up, holding her in one hand into the sky.

“This is my body now! I shall return to the flesh!”

You feel a soft ripple in the air around you followed by a whooshing sound. You look up to see a hammer slam into Victoria’s back, forcing her forward and dropping Saya. The spider screams in pain and turns about, the blackness of her face reacting in and turning a bright red.

“How about you pick on someone your own size you monstrous whore?” Says Margurette as she steps up next to you,armor clanking into the mud.

Your eyes go wide as an arrow suddenly embeds itself in Victoria’s back and she screams again, reaching back. You look into the trees and see Carla, holding a crossbow and loading another shot with skilled hands. She smiles down and hollers, “this is payback bitch!”

Victoria’s face contorts in rage and she rushes for the trees, but as she reached the webs, Carla drops out of sight and before Victoria can get far enough to chase her, she has to dodge another hammer blow by Marguerette. The spider turns back about to smack her, but instead meets another arrow, this one embedding itself in her shoulder.

She screams and stumbles some, brushing aside a blow from the aspirant with some difficulty. You scramble up,body aching and grab a tree branch, looking for an opening. As soon as you see one, you dash forward, screaming obscenities and whack the spider in a leg as she attempts to flee, causing her to fall over into the muck. She trashes about some, sending everyone scattering before she screams in psychotic fury before she falls into the mud.

“You’re loud.” Says Saya as gently takes the flower in her hand and drives it into Victoria’s chest.

The Arachnae looks down at the thing and watches as her blood flows slowly down her chest. She laughs then as she scoops some of it up and watches it pool through her fingers.

“Oh. So I’m to die again am I? Is this a sick joke I wonder?”

“No. It is merely a call to know your place.” Says Saya as the other two absorbed women walk up next to her. They all look into Vicotoria’s insect eyes as she slowly closes them, chuckling.

“Is that so? I guess that’s how it is then… Perhaps I can finally rest now.” Her eyes close and she slumps to the ground before fading along with the swamp, leaving you alone with Harmony and Saya.

The little island you sat upon was now bathed in a gentle light and above you sat a marvelous blue Sky with white clouds. You blink and look down at the sea of sludge to see it still present, but all the islands had fused together into one mass.

“Is… Is it over?” You ask Saya and she beams.

“The voices are quiet now! Yay!” She runs up and hugs you.

“Where did they go?” Asks Harmony as she looks about

Saya looks up at her oddly, “Go? They’re all still here! They’ve just accepted what happened.” She taps her head. “All of them are now truly part of me as I am of them.”

You nod slowly as you look into the little girl’s eyes. She beams and you return the emotion. “I’m glad to hear it. I’m so relieved to hear you’re feeling better honey.”

“Yup!” She pauses then and looks over into the sea of sludge. “Oh. Itwants to speak with you.”

You cock your head, “It?”

As you say this the island shudders and you fall back as the muck swirls together and forms a funnel that slowly coalesces into the form of an adult woman. You stare at the inky black creature and it bows to you before speaking in a voice that sounds as if from far away,

“Thank you for freeing us from the trouble that plagued our form.”

You blink and look to Saya who nods. Licking your lips you reply slowly, “Who… What are you?”

The form doesn’t move as it replies, “We are the creature known as the swamp horror. The binder, the body which granted refuge to the souls resting in it.” It points to Saya slowly. “That is the personality. The virus made reality by incorporation and hunger. It has been hurting, but now it is whole.”

You put a hand to your head, thinking. “Wait, wait. So when I mixed the spores with your essence and cast magic…”

“You created this body.”

You point to Saya, “But she, as the personality…”

“Is formed of the plague. It’s form invested with the souls of those it eats into its form has created this which you see before you.”

Saya nods slowly and you look back to the swamp horror. “She… She’s not in danger of spreading to other people, like the plague was intended?”

“No. She has already created new life. She is not needed for that function. Now, she commands this body and we adapt and feed.”

Saya smiles. “I get to be me!”

You look down and then nod sharply before looking to Harmony who just shrugs. You look back to Saya and ruffle her hair. “That you do, that you do, but I think it’s time for us to leave, alright?”

She nods her head. “Okay Daddy, I’ll see you on the outside.”

You smile as everything begins to shimmer around you, “Good girl.”

You wake up a few hours later, Saya huddled next to you for warmth as she slept, a cool breeze flowing through the now night-time air. You blink your eyes slowly awake and look about to see Tabitha staring at you.

You nod your head slowly and the lizardman nods before lowering her cap as you feel the wagon slow and then stop. You hear a loud sound of relief as Blake stretches and then stands up, popping his back before he turns about.

“Alright, that’s far enough, time to camp.”

He blinks when he sees you and then smiles, “Had a nice dream there Wizard?”

You look down at the sleeping girl next to you and you swear she seems younger in the face. You smile as you say, “Yeah. Yeah, I did.”

Nighttime is here, you’re going to be on watch tonight out merely a day or two from the mountains and their cold, perhaps snow. But for now…

“Hey Harmony?”

“Hmm?”

“Do you need to sleep in that new body of yours?”

Harmony gently attempts to put down the stick she was holding in her new hands, attempting to figure out the nuances of fingers. She failed some at doing so and the stick snapped in half before dropping violently to ground. Which for a stick isn’t saying much. Harmony huffs, which, now that you think about it, is an odd gesture for a construct, before she replies with a sigh “No, I don’t believe so.”

“Oh, alright then.” You say calmly before leaning back against the little tree near your campsite, pulling your robes in tighter in response to a chilly night-wind. Blake was right, it was getting colder and colder the farther north they go. You wondered if there would be snow, because that sounded pretty neat. You had always sort of liked snow but to interact with it would have meant going outside, a daunting prospective. Ah, oh well, might as well enjoy it, or at least try not to die in an avalanche. You hear those things happen.

Harmony cocks her head and, you swear to Solos if she had eyes she would have blinked. “Why do you ask?”

You shrug, “Oh, you know, it’s just, if you don’t need to sleep then you’d make a good sentry is all.”

Harmony considers this, the metal of her frame creaking softly as she moves to make what you think is some kind of philosophic pose. Honestly you think she’s just having fun moving around.

“Well, true, I suppose that’s partially what this construct was meant for, but…” She rolls a hand, an awkward and violent gesture for her. “It’s just… It would be rather lonely.”

You chuckle softly, “Yeah, that’s why I didn’t pursue it. Wouldn’t be fair for you to be the only one to suffer the boredom.”

“Yeah, although I’m fairly certain more often then not you seemed to get into some risky business at night?”

You grimace at that and peer at her with an odd expression. Was she making a reference to your nightly visits by Selene or just the other, more mundane attacks by monsters? You chose not to delve further into the subject and instead looked over at the sleeping form of Saya in her blanket. Sure, some of her features had started to run a little as her more… Viscous nature took form, but damnit she was cute!

Harmony follows your gaze for and then sighs. “You two are adorable together.”

You smirk and hang your head a little, “Is that so? Guess all it takes is a little stopping homicide and probing in one’s head to form a strong father-daughter bond, huh?”

She chuckles, “Guess so.” She lets that hang in the air for a moment before sinking down onto her belly and propping up her chin with her arms. She kicks her feet back and forth, the picture of a prim and proper queen, as she looks wistfully out into the night.

“I still can’t believe Harmonious had a daughter. I mean, I guess I should have figured since I’m sort of her and we are both amazing, but it’s very…powerful,you know? To know that somewhere there’s a strong, healthy young thing that looks like you.”

You close your eyes, smiling at the thought. “Yeah… It is a good feeling.”

“A shame that Harmonious got to have all the fun in making her though.” Harmony grumbles.

You open your eyes and look over to her then back to Saya. “Fun” huh? That of course would have involved intercourse which would have thus robbed you of your powers. Would you have traded your magic for Saya? The question made you shiver inside as your mind warred about the subject. Truly, it was getting harder every day not to contemplate such things and it scared you, it really did. But you didn’t need to confront this now, and instead of doing so,you instead picked up your copy of [Defensive Magic: Volume 2] and picked up where you left off.

“The counter circle is the cornerstone of magical defense in duel situations, however most direct threats to a practitioner will come from mundane means. True, a circle made in advance is the superior method of protection from all forms of violence, however in combat situations this can be impractical and more than one practitioner has perished mid application of a circle. To this end, the most practical solution is a portable circle, or a shield.”

“Shields are made from circles drawn in a similar fashion to the counter circle. The difference however is that the anchor point is formed by a smaller circle on the north point of the central circle. By adding this point and chaining off it, the effect of the shield and positioning can be increased. One can also continue to use the effects of the counter circle as well, however the concentration and mana required is quite large.”

“When applied, the shield circle will allow the wielder to project a small barrier at a focal area in space around themselves. Projecting wider and more powerful barriers requires more mana and additional inscriptions on the circle, which can be daunting in combat. Typically most practitioners will use one large shield and move their bodies in time to project it in a necessary space. While a wide circular or dome shield can be used, it is very difficult to manage and even the authors of this book do not recommend it.”

“If the shield should be broken by sufficient force, the wielder will likely face tremendous backlash in magical force. This could cause severe mana drain or force the wielder to lose consciousness. Please use this technique only in appropriate situations!”

“Common anchors and additions to this spell include temporary sigils and focal enhancements. Not all sigils have been properly tested however, and it is known that the Sigil of reduction will cause the shield to backfire and overload the wielder. The authors of this book do not recommend experimenting with understood formulae such a fire shielding and barriers of light.”

You put the book down and draw out a circle on the air, gently applying the new circles. You feel a small Strain on your mind as an area of space before you seems to warp out and you gently touch to feel an invisible barrier. You move about and feel to follow you and you nod, satisfied. This was similar to your [Shield of shit] but it could be used much more modular fashion and didn’t require base materials. Besides, magical barrier.? Hell yeah!

>You learn [Shield circle![

>A spell which forms a modular, invisible barrier before you.

>Don’t let it overload!

{Hmmm.} thinks Chaika as she inspects your barrier. {Passable, I suppose.}

You cock your head and reply back, {What’s that mean snake tits?}.

{Cute. Very cute, come up with that one all on your own?}

{Seemed appropriate.} you reply like the cheeky bastard you are.

Chaika mentally sighs, {How delightful, I’m stuck with a giant child.}

{Chaika, just because Harmony got a construct body and you didn’t doesn’t mean you should pout.}

{HELL YES IT MEANS I SHOULD POUT!} Chaika replies, indignant as hell.

You sigh and rub your head. You guess she had a reason to be like this, you probably would be pouty too if you saw what was essentially someone in your condition be liberated from the chains of immobility. It was kind of mean now that you thought about it and Chaika was behaving herself… For her, anyway.

You rub your chin and think about it. What could you do for Chaika? You look down at your [Wizard’s staff] and a light sphere goes off. Of course, it was so easy!

You quickly reach into your [Sack of holding +1] and pull out the [Broken Staff of Gregory the Great] and look at it. Sure enough, without a core, the damn thing was basically just a stick compared to even your weaker staff. You look the thing over and see the insert where the gem had been before. Perhaps with some effort…

{Chaika, you’ve been such a good girl recently, I was wondering if you’d like a little present.}

{Gee, thanks Dad.} she grumbles in your mind,obviously prepared for some trick. {Just like my real pa… Err, father.}

You blink but let that little quip slide before you huff. {Well, if you don’t want what I have..}

{Oh don’t be petulant, let’s have it.} She says in exasperation.

{Oh very well then. Do you know what this is?} You hold out the staff, not that she could really see it well.

{It’s the staff that the damn bird was in. Pretty inert now.}

{Yes, well, what if I told you I could put you into this staff?}

Chaika thinks about it for a moment. {Ehhh, I kind of like having sharp edges}

You sigh. {Yes, I know, but what if I could put your dagger into the staff?}

{What, and be some kind of crazy… Stick… Blade?}

{Civilized people call then spears, but sure. Stick blade works.}

{Harr Harr you chuckle fuck.} Despite this she considers the proposition gravely. {Hrm… Well I guess it couldn’t hurt….}

You beam and grab the dagger and the staff, {Works for me!}. You then proceed to place said dagger into said staff.

The blade’s hilt did not fit into the insertion. In fact it fit so poorly the dagger tumbled to the ground and you looked like a fucking idiot. Chaika didn’t say a word and neither did you. It was too embarrassing. Instead, you slowly scoop up Chaika and remove her from her hilt, placing the blade gently into the recession.

This fit better, although it was not quite snug yet, but you could feel a sort of power between the staff and the blade. The two seem to hum in different tunes before slowly and steadily coming together to form a single aetheric pulse. You blink and shiver a little as you realize the pulse was not energetic was it was with Harmony, but instead dark and made your skin crawl. Bleh.

{Oh ho ho, hora hora this is interesting} Chaika says from her new position. {I can feel my own power magnified in this baby, no wonder they slapped the bird in here} She focuses on you intently and seems to inwardly smirk.

{Heeeeeey. I think I can get into your head now.}

You raise a finger, {No. Bad snake. Bad.}

{Hora hora… But it would be so much fun! Besides, I almost feel like I could project some of those snake tits you like so much in there…}

{I can take you out of there pretty damn easily you know.}

Chaika sighs and rolls her figurative eyes. {Such a bore. Honestly of you’d just use dark magic this would be so much easier.}

{Yeah, no, still not doing that.}

{You’re no fun!} she pouts.

{We’ve come full circle then?} you ask and she seems to smirk.

{Of course! Oh and thank you I suppose. You deserve at least that much.}

>You gain [Dark spear]

You let that hang in the air for awhile before you sigh and work on a little paste to secure Chaika in place. It wasn’t a long process, but it killed the remainder of time before your watch was alleviated by a bleary eyed Hala and Tabitha who just stare into each other’s dead eyes, ignoring you entirely.

You and Harmony just shrug and head over to the main area where you sidle up to Saya and brush her sort of goopy hair. Aww, so cute. You sort of refrain from kissing her on the forehead, but you do get prepped for sleep. Harmony just nods to you and goes back to working with sticks, trying to figure out the miracle of hands. She’ll get it someday! For now though, you drift off to an uneventful sleep.

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