A New World ch. 3

=][= I forgot to say in the previous chapters that this story is a CYOA that I have slightly modified in order to post it here. So if you think any of the main charater’s actions are odd, that is why. =][=

You give Aoi a scrutinizing stare, and hold up four fingers. “Zat sounds like a lovely offer, but I have four stipulations. One, I refuse to give up my veapons. Two, I vant you to guarantee my protection. Sree, I vant people to keep their distance.” Aoi arches a brow. “And the fourth?” You nod “Ah yes, I’d like for you to accompany me, lady Aoi.” Oddly enough, a slight blush tinges her blue face and she glances away “A-Ahem, yes that seems reasonable enough. Well then, let me sort things out.”

Aoi walks back to her group and talks to Tabitha. The manticore’s tail swishes back and forth and she hardly seems pleased about whatever Aoi is saying, but she crosses her arms and looks away. Actually, scratch that: she’s glaring at you. Aoi doesn’t seem to notice and addresses the group. After she finishes, they all let their weapons drop to their sides and you can see their relief, even from where you stand.

Aoi returns, gesturing towards the village. “Well then [Jawholanon], shall we go?” You nod and follow her as she sets off. She keeps eyeing you curiously and starts asking questions about where you’re from and why you’re here. Wordplay hardly being your strong suit, you give short and vague answers, but luckily manage to change the subject to Zipangu, which she seems more than happy to discuss.

You’re intrigued by the obvious parallels between Zinpangu and Japan, but are dismayed to find that it’s not only quite a bit further south, but also on the east coast of the continent. You start laughing when she explains that Zipangu is over a thousand miles away (and not just because she uses the inferior imperial system), but apparently, she’s completely serious about the distance, judging from how she arches a brow at your reaction. Heilige Scheiße.

Your hopes sink even further when she explains that moving here took her roughly three months. You’re willing to do whatever it takes to get back to the Vaterland of course, but uh… perhaps there is a portal closer than that. You make a note to possibly look into Rymgrand having a portal, or anywhere closer than Zipangu for that matter. Then again, at least Zipangu is guaranteed to have one…

Aoi seems to notice your listlessness, turning her face and saying “You probably want to eat, bathe and go to sleep in a real bed. I can guarantee you lodgings after you meet the mayor, you can stay uh… stay with me if nothing else.” For some reason, she’s blushing again, and you hope that it isn’t a fever. Getting some indigenous disease is the last thing you need right now.

You soon reach the village and enter. Glancing back, you note that the rest of the party that accompanied Aoi and Tabitha is dispersing. Turning back to follow Aoi, you’re surprised to see that you are now the center of everybody’s attention. From the so-called “mamono” to the human men, all eyes are on you. The majority just appear curious, though quite a few seem apprehensive, likely because of your armor.

You follow Aoi through the crowds of people, all of them parting way for you both. The town is bigger than you initially thought, and the streets are quite nice and wide. Most of the buildings are made of wood and thatch, though as you get closer to the town center you see some nicer buildings with tile roofs and even some glass windows.

Aoi leads you to what you recognize as the town square, from your reconnaissance. Facing you is the biggest building you’ve seen thus far, a full three stories. It’s pretty, in a quaint, homey fashion and is obviously important. You both walk up to the double doors at the front of the house and Aoi knocks. After a short while what appears to be a feathered maid-girl in a rather… distracting uniform opens the door.

The maid gives a quick curtsy and smile to Aoi before noticing you, her face turning a bright crimson. “A-ah, miss Aoi! I didn’t know you’d be bringing any new guests. During the middle of discipline too…” Aoi gives her a pitying look and pats the maid on the shoulder, nodding her head towards a staircase leading up. “Hey Kiki, is Mira in her office? I think she should hear my report right away.”

“Y-yes, right this way,” Kiki says as she leads you both up the staircase. You consider telling her that her panties are showing, but that’d be ungentlemanly. Besides, it appears that she forgot to wear any today. She has a death grip on her skirt, and you hear her lightly panting as she keeps glancing at you. You find it somewhat concerning, the poor thing must have gotten a cold from dressing in such skimpy clothes.

Kiki leads you both to a tastefully carved wooden door before politely knocking and opening it a crack. “Mistress Mira? Miss Aoi is here with another guest, and she says it’s rather urgent.” You hear a husky voice sigh and reply “Fine, fine. Show them in, but this better be worth it Aoi!” The maid leads you in and immediately takes up a position by the door. You and Aoi walk up to a large desk completely covered with parchments and ledgers.

Sitting behind the desk is what appears to be a rather full-figured woman with certain raccoon-like traits – a tanuki you think. She’s engrossed with work, writing in a ledger, and gives you both a disinterested glance before doing a double take at your appearance. She stops what she’s doing, carefully setting aside her pen, and steeples her fingers, simply saying “Please, take a seat.” Staring at you over her hands, she switches her gaze between you and Aoi. Without breaking her look, she says “Kiki, go prepare us some tea.” You hear the maid scurry out.

There’s a moment of silence before she continues. “… so then, what was up with that artifact? And uh, while I certainly don’t mind you bringing new guys around, may I ask he’s got to do with anything?” Aoi clears her throat and gives a quick rundown of events. The raccoon-woman listens impassively, occasionally nodding and giving a throaty chuckle when Aoi mentions Tabitha’s abused nether regions. As Aoi finishes, the maid comes back with a tea set.

The raccoon-looking woman leans back in her chair, watching Kiki prepare tea while apparently deep in thought. She casually leans over and, quite obviously, purposely knocks a parchment to the floor. It lands on the side of the desk nearest to you, and, still looking gravely contemplative, she glances up at the maid “Oops… pick that up for me, would you Kiki?” The maid blinks and bends over to pick up the parchment, apparently unaware of how her skirt is riding up and giving you a clear, point-blank view of… well, everything.

The raccoon-woman leans back into her armchair and gives the maid a shit-eating grin “Oh no, Kiki~ just what are you showing to our esteemed guest? How lewd of you~” The maid looks back at you and finally notices her position, her face turning a shade of crimson that you didn’t even know was possible. Letting out an embarrassed squeak, she covers her face and scurries out of the room while the raccoon-woman chortles.

Aoi pinches the bridge of her nose before shooting the raccoon-woman a reproachful look. “That wasn’t very nice, Mira.” Mira wipes some tears out of her eyes and grins at Aoi. “Oh, c’mon you giant blueberry, that was hilarious and you know it.” Her grin takes on more of a sly appearance as she winks at you “Besides, it’s not like you minded, eh?”

Before you can even reply, Mira suddenly slaps her cheeks and takes a deep breath before releasing it. In the span of a moment, she suddenly changes, exuding a palpable air of professionalism. “Now then, let me get to the point. Where are you from and what’s your connection to that artifact? And as for your combat spells, I’ve never heard of anything like them before.” She narrows her eyes, penetrating you with a sharp look. “I’ve traded all kinds of goods over the world, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen equipment like yours either. If you aren’t going to tell me who you are, after blowing something up right next to our town, then you better tell me what you’re doing here.”

Taken aback, you quickly re-evaluate your opinion of Mira. She might be sharper than you thought, and you’re suddenly not sure she’s someone you want to piss off. Despite being the only armed person in the room, you have the creeping suspicion that you should probably choose your next words and actions carefully.

All things considered, answering her questions seems like the best course of action. After all, there’s a lot you’d like to know as well, and it’s not like you have to reveal everything. You suck in air through your teeth and tell her “I am from zee Vaterland. My konnection to zat artifakt is non-existent, konsidering zat ze artifakt itself is kurrently non-existent as vell.” You grab your rifle by the middle of its stock and hold it up. “As for zis, it’s a tool for me to channel energy for kombat purposes. Most of my gear is kreated in a similar fashion to zis tool.” You place the rifle back by your side. “I came to use zee artifact but it appears that it… malfunctioned.”

You lean back in your chair. Being rude to someone in their own domain is foolish, but you think that appearing weak is a bad idea too. “I am afraid zat zee extent of vat I kan tell you is somevat limited, but I have answered your questions honestly and kan guarantee zat I am not a danger to your town.” You lean over and prop your arm on her desk. “However, if it is alright… I vould like to ask a few questions as vell.”

Mira stares at you, her face an impassive mask. The only thing that you can read from her is that she’s calculating, judging, and weighing everything about you. The tension is palpable, but it breaks when she sighs with resignation and raises her hands in defeat. “Fine then, ask away. I’ll answer to the best of my ability, providing the topics aren’t too sensitive.”

Thinking back, you recall Aoi mentioning the “Vardic Empire”, composed of humans. You decide to ask about that, and where the nearest city is. Mira blinks and gives you an odd look. “Well, that’s information you can get pretty much anywhere sweetie, though I guess I’ve had, ah, more run-ins with ’em than most. The Empire is made up of nothing but humans, and “human supremacy” is pretty much a tenet of life there. The leaders wet their britches at the idea of coexistence, believing that it’d undermine their power. As much as mamono hate to admit it, the Empire is generally a little more advanced in terms of technology and more united than us, as a nation. Combine that with their military’s superior discipline and tactics, and ya can see why they’ve managed to hold their own against us. There’s peace at the moment, but it can’t last. We need men and they want our lands and resources.” Mira groans and stretches, eyeing you curiously. “As for the nearest town, I have no idea. The Wall divides our nations, and it’s well-guarded. Because of that, maps and information on Vardic territories aren’t too common.”

Having heard all you needed, for now, you stand up to leave. Seeing this, Mira raises her hands in a conciliatory gesture, saying “Whoa now, never let it be said that I kicked a guest out to fend for themselves. Why not stay the night in town? We have places that can get you sorted with top-notch vittles, you look like you could use a little roasted meat and some wine.”

At the mention of food, your stomach grumbles and you hesitate. Aoi quickly stands up as well, reaching a little towards you before catching herself and snatching her hand away, blushing. “Please don’t g-” she stops, and her blush deepens. She looks to the side and appears to collect herself somewhat, before looking back to you. “Uh, weren’t you interested in learning about other artifacts too? Talking to people in town might be useful.”

Mira seems surprised at her blushing blue friend’s outburst, but a wide, knowing, and above all shit-eating grin quickly spreads across her face. She stands and comes around her desk, walking towards you. Her tail wags playfully, eyes twinkling with mischief. “Why, I believe I’ve seen a few similar artifacts in my travels while conducting business actually. So how about this: you let Aoi host you for the night and I’ll try to look up some more information on the artifacts. Deal?”

You feel yourself beginning to sweat and a ration bar shifts uncomfortably in your pocket. This wasn’t what you had in mind at all, but you really need information on potential ways back. Besides, a meal and a bed certainly wouldn’t hurt either…

Well it’s not like you have much of a choice, and the terms are pretty clear; looks like you’ll forgo sleeping in a tree tonight. At least there’s a decent meal in it for you, for although their MREs are just as fine a product as anything from the Neue Reich, they have a tendency to cause some… “complications” with people’s bowels.

You turn to Aoi, a small flicker of hope remaining. “Are you sure zat it is not a problem to host me? I vould hate to im-” your hopes are crushed as she beams at you. “Oh no [Jawholanon], it’d my pleasure!” Welp, that settles it you guess. Taking a moment, you stop to look her over: she doesn’t seem to be plotting anything and looks genuinely happy at the prospect of being your hostess.

You also take in the details of her body for the first time. A little under 190cm, you’re fairly tall by most standards (although still pretty small compared to Neue Wehrmacht elite heavy infantry), but she’s still a little taller than you, even if you don’t count her horns. She has white, shoulder-length hair that’s a bit shorter in the bangs, framing and accentuating her fine-featured face and contrasting nicely with her blue-tinted skin. She has a high forehead, large almond-shaped eyes, a pert nose and thin lips with a delicate chin. Crowning it all are a pair of small brown horns jutting from her forehead. Her breasts, although quite large, perfectly fit her frame. All in all, you have to admit that she’s quite lovely.

You’re snapped out of your reverie when you notice that her long, pointed ears are twitching. She seems to be blushing again as she nervously glances to the side under your inspection. “Ah-um, you’re staring [Jawholanon]… is something the matter? You don’t have to stay with me if you don’t want to, I’d understand completely”

You look to Mira, who is staring at you with a disapproving look and an arched brow. Oh Scheiße, what if you’ve insulted them? You have to rectify this situation fast. Slamming your feet together against the hardwood floor, you straighten your back and thump your fist to your chest in a sharp salute, startling them both. “Forgive any perceived rudeness meine damen, I was simply overvelmed by your generosity! I vould be honored to accept! No uh, “funny business” as it is kalled zough!”

The following silence awkwardly stretches out just a little too long, and it almost feels like one of your spaghetti-flavored ration bars is trying to work its way out of your pocket. Mira doubles over and covers her mouth, giggling. Still looking mildly surprised, Aoi blinks. “Oh, um alright. I mean, if you’re fine with it t-then um yeah, please do!” Mira is shaking with mirth at this point and Aoi shoots her a glare.

Mira’s laughter continues unabated, and Aoi grabs your elbow, leading you out with a slight pout. “Let’s just leave, she’ll probably start teasing me if we stay.” You don’t really know how to respond, so you just let her lead you along. As Aoi stomps down the stairs with you in tow, you see Kiki come out from a room on the floor below and she rushes over to the front door.

Pulling the door open, Kiki attempts another curtsy in her skimpy outfit, blushing and shyly glancing your way. “I-I hope your visit was a pleasant one! Did you conclude your business?” Aoi turns to Kiki, sighing. “Yeah, we’ll probably go back to my place unless [Jawholanon] wants to check out the town. Don’t let Mira bully you too much okay?”

Kiki bobs another swift curtsy and closes the door behind you both as you leave. Aoi turns and looks to you, suddenly very fidgety. “So what would you like to do? It’s getting pretty late, but there’s still a lot to do in town if you’d like.”

Slinging your rifle across your shoulder, you consider her suggestion. You’re terribly hungry at this point, so you’d like some food, but you don’t want to risk letting anyone putting something in it. Additionally, it might be nice to try and get some more information about the world, so you aren’t completely reliant on Mira. You turn and nod to Aoi. “Some food vould be excellent, zank you. Perhaps vee may see zee town after, yes?”

Aoi happily nods and turns to lead the way, and you follow. It’s dark now, but the light from the buildings and the occasional torch makes it possible to navigate your way through the town. Aoi leads you down the main street for a while, before turning into a side street and leading you by several buildings until you get to a cozy-looking house.

She opens the door and steps somewhat shyly to the side. “Come on in! My house isn’t huge, but you’re free to make yourself comfortable.” She heads in and sets about lighting some torches on the wall. You somewhat cautiously enter and look around. The house really isn’t that big, but it’s clean and has a welcoming, homey atmosphere. You’re standing in what appears to be the common area of the house. To your left is a fireplace with a bearskin rug stretched out in front of it and utensils for preparing food. In the corner to your right is what looks like a hatch in the floor as well as a single, closed door in the right wall.

Aoi suddenly freezes, blinking and holding up a hand to her mouth. “Ah, I’m terribly sorry! I forgot to ask if you’d rather go eat at a tavern or have me prepare something fo-” Sensing a potential opportunity, you hold up a hand, cutting her off. “Make you prepare food after offering me such hospitality? Preposterous! Let me prepare a meal for us, it is zee least I can do.”

Aoi seems a little surprised by your offer, but she smiles and gladly accepts. She hands you a candle and points to the hatch, telling you that that’s where she stores her food. While you head over to it, she starts getting the fireplace ready. With a grunt, you pull it open and climb down a ladder. You find yourself standing in a sizable larder, with a nice variety of cured meats, sausages, and vegetables on shelves and hanging from the ceiling, as well as what appears to be a jug of milk in the corner.

You scratch the back of your head and ponder what to do. At least you can be sure that nothing strange will be put in your food, but cooking wasn’t exactly your forte. Thinking back, you remember the eintopf your father used to make for you. It always used to warm you up on cold days, and as you recalled it wasn’t too hard to make. Actually, you could just put in random stuff and it’d only taste even better.

You gather some ingredients, shoving them back up through the hatch. You grab a generous amount of sausages and carrots, an armful of potatoes, a couple of onions and a bunch of herbs that seemed like they’d be good, though the only ones your could recognize were parsley and chives. You climb back up the ladder and have Aoi fill a cauldron with water while you get to preparing the food.

You slice up the sausages with your knife and use some of the water Aoi brought you to wash the vegetables. You dice them (apparently your mask even protects you from onions, nice) and throw the sausage and veggies into the cauldron before placing it over the fire. While you let it simmer, you decide to chat with Aoi and try to find out some more about this world.

Apparently, the Monster Realm is some kind of feudalist society, divided into kingdoms that are subject only to the Monster Lady. Due to this system, the Realm isn’t very cohesive compared to the Vardic Empire and is only completely united in rare cases, such as during war against the Empire. The number of kingdoms is considerable, and conflict between them is common. The undisputed largest kingdoms/superpowers are Zipangu, Rymgrand (undead nation), Daemonholm (nation of demons and chaotic mamono) and Akhentar (a desert kingdom).

It seems that monstergirls refer to themselves as “mamono”, and their societies seem to invariably be matriarchal. Men are a commodity in all of them due to the fact that, although mamono can give birth to male humans, the birth rate for mamono is far higher. One thing that varies a lot between kingdoms is how men are regarded. Their treatment can vary from being idolized as national treasures, to being treated as equals, to being considered private property.

You make sure to keep an eye on the eintopf as you talk with Aoi and add the herbs after roughly an hour. It’s rather thin, and you’re momentarily at a loss on how to thicken it when inspiration strikes. You take out a couple ration bars and carefully crumble them into the eintopf. Genius. Once it’s thickened sufficiently, you announce that it’s ready and serve Aoi a bowl of it.

Aoi’s face lights up at the first bite and she smiles and places a hand to her mouth, giggling. “[Jawholanon], this is delicious! Whichever girl ends up with you is going to be one lucky lady.” You can’t help but feel pride at such praise of glorious Deutsch cuisine, before catching a whiff of it. You haven’t eaten all day, and the smell alone is enough to make your mouth water. But after all that stuff she said about men sometimes being a commodity, you don’t really want anyone to see what you look like.

Aoi arches a brow at you and smiles, gesturing towards the empty bowl she set out for you. “You must be hungry [Jawholanon]! That was quite the chase you led us on earlier, after all, so please join me.” Scheiße, it must look weird that you’re not joining her. How do you wiggle out of this without being rude? Your mind starts racing as you feel yourself sweat under your armor.

Suddenly, you remember something from a Japanese animation you used to enjoy. You cradle you elbow in one hand while covering your mask with the other and sigh deeply. “Ah, I am afraid I must dekline… you see, members of mein kaste of varriors are not permitted to remove our mask in front of ozers in order to protect our identities.”

You hold your pose, beginning to worry that Aoi didn’t buy it as she stares at you, slightly wide-eyed. But after a moment, she smiles. “Is that so? How interesting! If you’d like, I can eat in my bedroom while you enjoy your meal.” She begins to stand, but you’d rather not risk taking your mask off at all, so you motion her to sit. “Preposterous! I am not zat hungry, now sit. I shall converse vis you vile you eat.”

This earns you a shy smile as she lowers herself back to her seat. She continues eating, occasionally glancing at you expectantly. Looks like it’s up to you to provide conversation, which is just as well since there’s something that’s been bothering you. “So you mentioned zat men are something of a kommodity… how are zey treated in zis kingdom, or in zis town for zat matter?”

Aoi slowly leans forward, considering your question while she crosses her arms and rests them on the table, lazily stirring her bowl. “That’s a question with a lot of answers. Everyone has to pull their weight when you live on the frontier and I guess it helps us learn to respect one another. So I’d say everyone’s pretty equal out here.”

She ladles some more food into her bowl, before continuing. “This isn’t necessarily the case elsewhere. We’re technically a part of Ennsyl, the elf kingdom. The populace, while officially united, is generally divided into elves and dark-elves. We’re ruled collectively by a member of each group, known respectively as the Speaker of the Sun and the Speaker of the Stars.”

Aoi shifts uncomfortably and stares pensively into the fire. “However, there’s a definite difference in power between the factions. The dark elves have a lucrative business agreement with women in Rymgrand, and it gave them the upper hand. You see, they’re in a prime position to send raiding parties across the border. “Proactive immigration” is what they call it.”

You both sit in silence as you process this information. So degenerate ”dark” elves took over the country from fine Aryan elves? It sounds almost as bad as the Vaterland was under [Merkel the Fool], before the Neue Reich. It’s also rather concerning for you, being a lone “commodity” in a kingdom dominated by slavers.

Aoi draws her gaze away from the flames and glances at you with a comforting smile. “But don’t worry [Jawholanon], the raiding parties don’t come around here too often, and it’s not like we deal in slaves too.” She stands up and stretches. “Well then, it’s getting pretty late. I suppose we can go to my favorite tavern if you’d still like to see the town. If not, then let’s just get some sleep and take a look tomorrow.”

You’re a little mentally exhausted from all of the day’s stress, but what’s really getting to you is the soreness from surviving that direct blast from the portal. Now that you’ve been sitting still a while, you feel like your body is one big bruise. Your muscles are stiff and your joints ache, and though you’d probably feel a little better if you got moving again you’d honestly rather just sleep.

You inform Aoi of your decision and she nods. “Good choice really, it’s too late to see much of the town. But there’s no way I could let a guest, and a man at that, sleep on the floor. Take my room, you can also eat in private there if you’d like.” As this works perfectly for what you have in mind, you gladly accept.

She lights a candle and hands it to you. Without further ado, you pick up the cauldron with your other hand and head off to her room, bidding her goodnight. She gives you a wistful look for some reason, but bids you goodnight as well, heading over to the bearskin rug and beginning to undress. You snap your eyes away and hastily wish her goodnight as you fumble your way into her room. You hear her chuckle from the other side of the door and realize that you already said goodnight once.

Sighing, you place the candle on a small nightstand and survey the room. It’s clean, albeit somewhat spartan, which contrasts with the large, messy bed off to the left. Since there’s no window, all you really have to worry about is the door. This is swiftly remedied when you drag the bed in front of it. Sitting down on the edge, you help yourself to the eintopf and eat the majority of what’s left.

When you’re finally full, you sigh contentedly and flop back onto the bed. You decide to sleep with your armor on and keep your rifle close at hand for safety, but take off your boots. Only degenerates sleep in bed with boots on. Trying to sleep with armor on is every bit as uncomfortable as you expected and you doubt it’s going to help with your soreness, but you’re too tired to really care.

You wake up the next day with your rifle cuddled against your chest. You push it aside and try to sit up, only to wince and flop back down. Gott, you didn’t even know it was possible to be this sore. You wobble from side to side, using the momentum to roll over and push yourself up with a groan. You gingerly stretch, and your whole body complains in response, but after a bit, you loosen up a little.

You shove the bed back to its original place and put your boots on, before slinging your rifle across your shoulder and stepping out the door. Aoi is sprawled out across the rug in a rather unladylike fashion, dressed in nothing but her underclothes. She appears to be dead asleep, and the fire is nothing but embers by now. You see the room in perfect clarity, though, thanks to the mask.

Unused to seeing so much of a woman’s skin, you can’t help but feel a little flustered. So first things first, you go back to her room and grab all the blankets and pillows before dumping them on her. Now that she’s sufficiently covered, you eat what’s left of the eintopf, relishing every bite of the superior Deutsch cuisine.

Once you finish, you check on Aoi again. Only some of her limbs and part of her face are visible from under the pile of blankets, but she still appears to be fast asleep. You decide to go explore on your own. Looking around for something to use to leave her a note, you settle on leaving the door to her bedroom open instead, so she’ll realize you’re gone… after carving a stylish swastika on it of course.

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