I open my eyes. Where are we? Ah, the storage.
Where is Momo- Kyou-san? Ah, of course. She’s right under my nose.
Or more precisely my head is on top of hers, while she’s leaning on my shoulder.
You gain 1 WP.
Waking up next to your partner in the morning gives you vigor and vitality.
Wait a minute!
I quickly lift my head and now Kyou-san starts to awake.
“Erm… No idea.”
We’re still at the bottom of a temple or something like that and couldn’t see natural light.
“Ah. Sorry for leaning on you. Must have happened after I fell asleep.”
Without much haste Kyou-san simply backs off. She really doesn’t think anything of me. But somehow my head feel a lot clearer than before. Maybe taking counsel with one’s pillow is more effective, than I thought.
“Kyou-san, I think I know how we can get out.”
It’s so obvious right now, but somehow I wasn’t able to realize it yesterday.
“Of this room?”
“Out of this building.”
“We have to get captured.”
“That’s… a rather stupid idea.”
She is right, but even if we escape this building, we don’t know where the patriarch is and how everything of this will look like.
“It’s a big risk, but the Ss’rak will listen to us!”
“We already killed some of them.”
“But we’re messengers of Muaotef. Since they’re worshiping him, we might have a small chance instead of no chance. We need to ask to talk to the ‘Voice of Muotef’ first, then everything will fall into place!”
“…I see some logic in this madness, but there has to be another way.”
“We only have two days left, before Muaotef’s time limit is met. And even though I don’t know how he will kill us, I’m too sure that he ‘can’ kill us.”
I knew it would be hard to convince her. But we know too little, have no means to climb the level and even if we force on Ss’rak to take us up or do find another way, there might be still plenty Ss’rak outside.
“…Ken, how do we even know that they won’t kill us?”
“We can’t be a hundred percent sure, but there are too many obstacles, if we try it the other way.”
“But that risk is too high!”
We both look at each other eyes, but no one wants to back down. Normally, I would agree to Kyou-san. My idea is stupid. It’s basically letting yourself get caught and try to convince the Ss’rak, that you’re with Muaotef and somehow convince the patriarch to fight us under fair terms, like a duel or such.
But ss long as we are able to speak with the Voice, we might be able to earn some credibility, since I’m sure, that this particular Ss’rak will have some insight in our mission. I can only hope, that this one has some influence in the Ss’rak society.
And the more I think about it, the less hope I have for any other plan.
Climbing up the wall, slaying every Ss’rak I see and fight my way to the patriarch? That would be normal in a game, but this is no game, even though I got the feeling, this world tries to convince me otherwise.
We don’t even know, where the patriarch is and how the outside looks like. Even if we would be able to hack’n slay our way out of this building it would be meaningless, if this is some temple in the middle of nowhere without any hint where the other Ss’rak lives.
We lack information and we lack time to gather it, but since this building seems to have a shrine of Muaotef, the Voice might have quarters here. This has to link us to the patriarch! Even though the chances of succeed were plummet. By myself.
I can’t believe that the first thing we did, after getting out of the chasm, was killing the guards. But living for two months in this world, and especially the last few days, made me think that I actually have to kill every problem I come across.
Surely, I became like that because I was solo-hunting and killing for survival. And maybe Kyou-san trusted my judgment, since these kept us alive in the chasm. Even though some would have killed us without her help.
But if she tends to trust my judgment…
“Please, Kyou-san. Trust me.”
I have to clutch at any straw.
“Kenta…” Kyou-san is narrowing her eyes. “Are you kidding? Do you really think, that line can convince anyone? Are your games like cheap romance movies?”
“Phew… I just thought I should try it. So there seems to be no other way.”
I change to the [Pikeman]-class and break the door open. Even though Kyou-san is in a position to complain, she was never be able to stop my plan in the first place. So I just will do it, if she wants me to or not.
The sound of the breaking door can surely be heard from afar and this will definitely get the attention of the Ss’rak.
“You…” Kyou-san looks at me, as if I just took her favorite book and threw it out of a window.
Then she looks around the room, maybe she tries to find a hiding place.
But she doesn’t have the [Stealth]-ability. I have.
Two Ss’raks come in.
“Who you be?”
“My name is Katsuragi Kenta, a hero, and I have to talk to the Voice of Muaotef. I’m sent by the Great One himself.” Or would it be ‘Themselves’, since Muaotef refers to himself in plural? Doesn’t matter, I just have to roll with it.
Kyou-san doesn’t find a way out and just gives up. But she’s looking at me, as if I had recommend her to trash-duty in school, while there are no tools to do so, forcing her to pick up everything by hand.
The Ss’rak, on the other side, seems to be confused. They don’t know what to do in this situation. So I just need to tell them.
“In this case, you should get some reinforcement, then send someone to the Voice, so a meeting may be arranged.”
I try my best smile.
“Better we kill zem.”
Why!? That was my best smile!
Kyou-san sighs and step before me. “Please don’t. We’re really here in the name of the Great One and the ones who defied us before are now laying dead, because they incurred the Great One’s wrath. Do you want to end like them, as well?”
“Zzzz… No. Better we do what tze female say.”
“So, female. What zhould we doo?”
This… is so unfair! Why are they listening to Kyou-san, but not me? This doesn’t make sense, if we put aside that I’m kinda unsocial, untrustworthy and put some players in my parties off in the past, while Kyou-san is… OK, it makes totally sense now!
So we are brought to the Voice of Muaotef.
So far so good. We’re in an audience room, which kinda looks like some voodoo hut. There are idols of dragons and strange symbols carved into the walls, multiple braziers burned different materials. Wood, bones and coal.
The Voice of Muaotef, a Ss’rak above 2,3 meters is standing before both of us and six guards surround us. The Voice wears a strange crown made of bones and stone prongs. This is new, but maybe its too troublesome to travel around with that thing on your head.
“Zo you again. You ssurviwed and even came bakk.” He seems to be surprised and wary. “You’ve chaanged.” He’s obviously looking at my belly, which doesn’t exist in my [Scout]-form. Even though it’s really rude! I’m not fat in [Student]-class, only a bit round!
“We did.” I try to ignore that insult and sound as confidence as possible. “And we talked with the Great One, Muaotef in… his majesty.” I almost said ‘in person’, but that wouldn’t be accurate, since it’s a dragon.
“Zee. What do yuu want!” The Ss’rak slurs their words often differently, so I had to focus on them with extra care.
“We’re sent by the Great One to challenge the patriarch to a duel.”
“…” The Voice is looking at me with narrow eyes. “Zhat doezn’t maek zense!” Uh, he slurred more than usual!
“Didn’t the Great One already told you?” Does that dragon really think, we sneak around in assassin style, killing the patriarch without anyone noticing us? It’s obvious impossible. Could you please give as a claw-armed hand, Muaotef-sama!? “We need to go to the patriarch and declare this, you know?”
Why am I feeling dizzy? Ah, the Voice just slapped me with his tail and now I’m at the ground. “Don’t you fool me!” He’s enraged. “Ai’m zhe voizz, human!”
Ah, I totally see. Jealous, huh? I slowly stand up and grin. “You know what?” I’m so calm, I’m scared of myself. Then I change into [Pikeman] and punch the bastard in the face. Feel the [Strength] of a warrior class, fool!
Kyou-san is rolling her eyes in despair. “Why…”
The Voice falls to the ground and spits some teeth out and seems to be semi-conscious. Even though it might be brutal, it makes me feel good. A bit of revenge for the chasm! Better to kick him, as long as it’s possible!
The guards were stunned before, since my class-change and punch were surprising, but now the point their knifes at my throat. With hands up, I declare: “I surrender, but let me speak to your patriarch!”
Well, this visit was pointless!
“Stupid, jerk, idiot, die!”
Kyou-san and I are in a prison cell. She is justifiably pissed at me. We were brought here by the guards, without any equipment other than clothes. Similiar situation like back then at the Heißquellen-shrine. But this time, it’s all in the plan, I made right before hitting the Voice.
But Kyou-san disagrees: “And the worst of it, I wanted to surrender at the shrine back then, while you did something stupid! And now you surrender and it’s still stupid! How can be everything you do so moronic!?” She lets off a lot of steam.
The prison cell is under the palace. And the palace is the center of a huge Ss’rak city. The humans of Feuerberg most likely don’t even know that this city exists.
The temple we were in lies still within the city walls, but seriously: I’m glad that I surrendered. To hack’n slay my way through a whole city would definitely impossible. And sneaking would be difficult, since we’re most likely the only humans around here. A single mistake would be fatal.
Even though it would have been ideal, if the Voice just had cooperated, but since he’s a jerk, it just wasn’t possible.
“Shortsighted, easily irritated, quick-tempered…”
“Come on, Kyou-san. We’re inside the palace and I’m sure, the patriarch will talk to us. So far, everything is fine.”
“Don’t talk like that. This is the worst!”
“It’s not worse than the birds, the bear and definitely much better than Muaotef.”
“These times things escalated, but this is the first time we are at someone else mercy!”
“Phew… what about the first time we got captured?”
“Don’t remember me of that! And it’s different! You didn’t ask me, yet I even helped you to get to the Voice and then you hit him, because his tail slipped in his anger! Why didn’t you tried to please him!? Like, at all?”
And why didn’t you participate in the conversation? But this is much too irrational and since she’s throwing a fit, I just can’t argue with her. So I try to change the topic. “Shouldn’t we do something constructive while we’re waiting?”
“Oh? What great idea do you have this time? Do you even need my opinion or are you going to do it anyway again?”
She has become very lively and spiteful in just one day. I guess she’s back to normal again. “I thought if we’re waiting, we can at least get our WP for this day. So… holding hands and lap-pillows.”
Uh, now she’s looking at me, as if I had been caught peeking at the girl’s bathroom. The lowest of the low.
Well, I’m used to be looked at like trash and that girls despise me, so I should be able to handle it, I suppose.
And so an hour or so passed, while I tried my best to not feel hard-pressed by Kyou-san’s relentless stares. Finally a group of Ss’rak guards is here to take us to the patriarch. I’m bounded, while Kyou-san could go without restrains.
Am I a wild animal!? Let us be fair and tie her up, too!
The throne room isn’t as large as I thought and more modest. The throne was nothing more than a large wooden chair, the furnishing pragmatic and the decoration made of bone, wood and copper. It’s less pompous than the Voice’s room.
The patriarch himself is a… well, he’s only about as tall as me, and since Ss’rak have an average height of roughly 1,90 meter, the king is pretty short for one. And even though I can’t really point out why, he seems to be an old Ss’rak. Maybe because his scales are paler, his features limber and his eyes blanker than those of the Ss’rak I saw up till now.
“I see, you are the one, the Great One sent, while punching his Voice out of commission” The partriarch’s voice sounds dry and humorless, but his way of speaking is more refined than the average Ss’rak seems to be capable of. “Why does the Great One sent you? And why did you do that to his Voice?”
I just need to address this problem directly, while ignoring the fact, that I did something obstructive on the way. I take a look around, there are five Ss’rak guards here. I wouldn’t even dare to say what I’m about to say, if I hadn’t seen the Ss’rak before.
“To be frank, I’m not only a messenger in words, but in deeds as well. Muaotef, the Great One, sent us to challenge you to a fight to the death.”
The guards are shocked, but they don’t move. Strength seems to be important to the Ss’rak, so I already figured, that they won’t kill me outright by challenging the patriarch in person. Who could actually know that the love-advice I got before would come in handy?
“I see. So the Great One wants to test me. Guards, leave. These individuals are on a divine mission, what is to be talked about is only for the chosen.”
Reluctantly the guards leave the room. Hey, I’m bound with ropes, so I can’t do much in this position!
Meanwhile, the patriarch studies each of us with a calm demeanor. After a while of silent observing, he continues.
“You have to know, that the Great One isn’t pleased with me. So I know, you’re assassins. But why did you attack his Voice? And why didn’t you ambushed me. Even now you might be able to overwhelm me, you know?” He seems to be very amused and curious, which makes sense, if I try to see the case from his point of view.
Kyou-san and I exchanged subtle looks. She’s still pissed, but she will let me talk for now, since ‘it’s my stupid idea which brought us here’.
“To be honest, there are several reason. Even if we would slay you, in the end there is no guarantee, that we will escape alive from this city.”
“So that’s why you challenged me before my subjects.”
“And there are other things we want and need. So if you accept our terms, we will comply with your conditions for this duel, as long as they’re reasonable.”
“And the Voice?”
“I didn’t like him! I just wanted to work together with him and he got a hissy-fit in exchange.” It was not because he insulted me with his stare to my belly and hurt me with his tail-whip.
“Keke.” The patriarch chuckled. “You’re crafty and honest. But a coward, to yield to Muaotef’s orders.”
I couldn’t deny it. “But it raises your own chance of success. And you don’t seem to like the Voice either.”
“You’re right.” I think, the patriarch is grinning. Hard to say, since he lacks lips. But this puts him in a good mood, so punching the Voice was totally worth it. “Say your terms, humans.”
“First, we have to fight to the death. Otherwise Muaotef will not be pleased. Second, we are the humans which you guys attacked at the Heißquellen-shrine. Give us our stuff back. Ah, and the red fur, that might be found yesterday in the temple is ours as well.”
“I see. So you’re the ones from the shrine. Now everything fits.”
I can’t tell why, but somehow this sounds like the patriarch means more with these words than just these events. I want to ask him, but he proceeds by telling us his conditions, giving me no chances.
These are the traditional Ss’rak rules for important duels:
1.) I have to fight him alone, since only males are to challenge other males to battle.
2.) Each of us will fight only in underwear and is allowed to take one item with us.
3.) We will fight in the arena, so everyone can see the battle.
4.) If I have a wife, she can stay at the sideline to give moral only support.
5.) Either the patriarch or the matriarch have to be the judge. Since the patriarch is fighting, this time the judge will be the matriarch and no, she’s just the coequal ruler and not the wife of the patriarch.
6.) When the battle begins, it will not be interrupted or stopped, before one of us will die. In that moment, everything goes, even if it’s dishonorable, since battle is not about fairness, but survival. The only exception is interference from a third-party, which will result to the judge’s call.
7.) After the fight ends, no ill mean is to be shown to the victor.
So basically it’s a typical one-to-one duel, with only one item, which would normally serve as my weapon. I will be at disadvantage, since the Ss’rak’s bodies are like weapons themselves, so the patriarch can just take anything he wants, like protective gear, without cutting much in his deadliness. He seems to be old, but I don’t get the feeling, that he’s weak.
“So if I lose, then Kyou-san will be able to walk away?”
“Yes, but if Muaotef has set his eyes on her, it’s only a question of time until she will follow you.”
“But you could escaped from him so far.”
“Because the Ss’rak trust me. If he would openly order to kill me, it wouldn’t be good for the moral. So he has sent assassins and traitors to do this work.”
Uh, so he survived quite a bit. That’s not good. “… I would really like to know more about it, but I shouldn’t.”
“You’re right. Since tomorrow at the twelfth hour one of us will die. I let your requested items be prepared. I call for you then, so you may choose what to use for our duel. Until then, you’re prisoner in our guest chamber.”
“How could you put ‘prisoner’ and ‘guest chamber’ in one sentenced without a flinch?”
Too bad I have to kill the patriarch, since I begin to like him. But I hope, I will be able to kill him without hesitation, when the duel starts.
“Somehow, we go from one waiting to another.” Kyou-san is right. Since we escaped the chasm, we’re sitting around most of the time, while the rest is unnecessarily exciting. Like killing guards, throwing punches at religious figures and talking with someone, you have to kill to survive.
But there is a bright side. “But at least we’re going somewhere. In terms of assassination.”
I am not too keen to fight the patriarch alone without support, but if bringing Kyou-san to the fight would mean to face another Ss’rak, it’s doable. Since it would definitely be the strongest female warrior or such.
This doesn’t mean, that I’m that optimistic. “But this battle might be harsh. The patriarch seems like a warrior to me. But at least the chances are better than being stuck at the temple forever.”
“I think, I can cheer for you at the sideline.”
Kyou-san sighs and repeats what she said: “I said, I will cheer for you in the arena. We’re somehow married, so it’s fine with the rules. And maybe I will find a chance to cheat unnoticed.”
I’m actually moved. That Kyou-san would do something like that. None of us thought for a moment that fighting fair is an option, as long as we find ways to cheat without being caught.
In times like these, I notice that we’re more similar than I originally thought. We’re both rotten to the core, in multiple ways.
With a small hand gesture, Kyou-san calls to me. She sat down on the only bed in this room, a big one for two people. For some reason, when we were asked if we need one or two rooms, Kyou-san said she wants one with a big bed.
I sit down next to her. Then she forcefully took my head and pulled it down on her lap.
Seems like I did well enough for Kyou-san to forgive me. And we start the WP-routine we decided on yesterday.
But before even a minute passed, it knocks on the door and without waiting, a Ss’rak entered.
“Sowry, doh I dizturb?”
I blush, but Kyou-san is unfazed.
“Actually you do, but that means we’re called for?”
She separates calmly from me and even let go of my hand.
We are brought to a hall with two thrones. On one of these sits the patriarch and on the other the matriarch, I guess. Hard to tell the gender on Ss’rak without hearing voices. But on her side was a huge sword with a black blade.
This room is actually more of a throne room than the other one. It seems to be a banquet hall. Items are lined up on top of a large table. All our equipment from before we were captured at the shrine at the Heißquellen-shrine and the temple of Muaotef, even our armors. The red bear’s fur is here as well.
“Chooze one off thiise itemz.” Yep, that’s definitely an old woman Ss’rak, the matriarch. Maybe even older than the patriarch. “Zis item be ze one you use in duel.”
The patriarch takes over: “You bring the item to the matriarch, so she can keep it until the battle begins to prevent any kind of cheating. Mine is the sword.”
“Ze sword be strong and heawy, but it be just sword.”
So he will wield that big cleaver. This will probably just cut through my spear with one clean strike.
I look at the items. The weapons we made at the chasm. The spear I foolishly made out of a broomstick and a knife, how silly I was. Probably it will just break after one attack, but somehow I just wanted a better weapon. But most likely I needed to do something to distract me, since I was shocked.
The spear I wielded before we got to the chasm is still in the backpack, instead on top of the table. It might a reliable weapon, but is it strong enough? Most likely not.
I could use a Ss’rak knife, these are crazily strong, as long as you use it against an immobile opponent. But most likely there is no way that the patriarch will be unable to move at any point of the battle.
The waterskin and the fur are useless, so are the backpa- Wait, the backpacks! The ones we got when we came into this world! These are magical ones, which allows us to use an inventory!
I’m currently my favorite class, [Scout]. And I have a skill, called [Distraction].
It’s from the [Stealth]-ability and will make everyone look away from me for one second. You can use it to buy time to use another skill, like [Camouflage], but since it’s only one second, I considered it useless before. When you play solo, the targets will eventually find you, since there are no other threats to be aware of, which makes it only a SP-trap.
But now is different! I activate [Distraction] and shove some few items into my backpack with one arm, the waterskin and the improvised spear. The inventory is still working like it should, great.
One is not aware of [Distraction], so they won’t think too much about it. They basically just looked elsewhere for a second and think that was intended.
I present the matriarch my backpack.
“Hm… unuzual, but…” She looks into it and shakes it, but it’s still light and there is no rattling. “This be one item.”
Yes! I have improved my odds by far, since even if I take out other items from my backpack in battle, this is due a mistake of the matriarch. After the start-signal everything will go, I can use it to improve my odds.
The Ss’rak’s strange sense of honor comes in handy.
The patriarch seems to be suspicious, but doesn’t interfere. After the matriarch took the backpack, he says: “The rest of the items will be handed over to you, if you win tomorrow. If you lose, your wife shall take one item as a keepsake, but the others will become my trophies.”
Ah, so he wants us to have no items over the night. Well, I can live with it.
We return to the room and gave each other lap-pillows, holding hands in the meanwhile and eat dinner.
Even though the Ss’rak give us only soup and a strange kind of pastry, we greedily devour everything, since we had so little luxury in the chasm. We also got some kind of alcohol, which we diluted with water. We might be minors, but we’re in a fantasy world, so Japanese laws doesn’t oblige.
Kyou-san used her [Cook]-abilities before to determine if there is any poison in it and if we could even eat this kind of food as humans, but no problems there.
Our mood improved a lot.
“Ken, do you think, your trick will work?”
“Don’t worry. There are plenty of consumables in my inventory, like pots, bombs and such. I don’t think that you will need to do anything.”
“I see.” She seems somewhat relieved. “Ah, I want a bath. And shampoo. And some new clothes.” Now that her worries are somehow eased, she begins to complain.
When I think about it, Kyou-san’s skin and clothes are still dirty. On her sleeves and under her fingernails is the dried blood of the Ss’rak she killed. Even her hair is oily and barely combed. Normally you would call such a girl ugly, but somehow it doesn’t bother me much. More like, I enjoy it.
The two reasons are: Seeing a pretty and shallow girl in an ugly state is satisfying and I myself am no better off. It’s nice to have a companion.
“Let’s ask the guards, if we can wash ourselves.”
The guards’ answer is a washing bowl, a sponge and some hot water. We asked for clothes, but Ss’rak, male and female, only wear a kind of kilt, to cover the shame and to have some pockets. They don’t actually need clothes or armors.
But seriously, how many days have I been in the same outfit? It must reek of my stench, I even sleep in these clothes! And my spares are still in the backpack. But now it’s time to clean myself!
Or so I thought. “I will be first. Turn around.” Kyou-san says these words coldly, but I guess for her it’s even worse, since she’s a girl.
I turn around and suppressed the need to take a sniff at my clothes, so I can confirm how bad they really smell.
Kyou-san in the meanwhile… got naked right behind me!
This is the continuation of the hot spring-scene, only with no boulder to block my sight and the fact, that I won’t be able to relieve myself anywhere, since we’re restricted to this room.
Unaware how every sound, from the rustling of the clothes to the movements of the sponge, is exciting me, Kyou-san takes her time to clean herself, extending this kind of torture.
Think about a game character, think about a game character. Uh, doesn’t that increase my lust, actually?
Prime numbers, 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19, 23, erm… 29, 31, 33, wait, it’s dividable with 11 and 3. I hear the next sponge movement and Kyou-san sighs delightfully. Where have I been?
I want to push her down.
Wait! Go away, desire!
I’m in mental pain, which becomes more physical every second. It actually hurts!
I would rather commit suicide before pushing down a girl like Kyou-san! A shallow woman who’s looking down on everyone and always put the blame on others! A girl with bountiful curves, a pretty face and a pleasing voice.
Please! Somebody, kill me!
After a few minutes which felt like eternity: “Ken, could you take a look at my face and tell me, if I missed something?”
I turn around and… Overkill!
Since her face is slightly reddened and completely clean, my heartbeat fastens. The pain in my lower body is almost unbearable and my reason hangs by a thread. One more push and I will push her down.
Calm down! “No, you look fine.”
“Thank you. Your turn.”
The push doesn’t come. But I’m pretty conscious as I wash myself. And I face a problem: Should I wash my crotch? Since any stimulus might be too much to bear, it might be dangerous.
In the end I washed it extra carefully, so there won’t be accidents.
“Let’s go to bed, Ken.”
Please, give me a break! “I would rather sleep on the floor.”
“No, we have a bed and since we decided to sleep next to each other if possible, we should do so. We’re just a few WP short for a simple bonus, so we can see, if it’s worth.”
Oni, devil! And she was against grinding WP at first!
But if I object, she might find out, that I’m about to lose control and I will never let this happen! She will definitely exploit this and blackmail me afterwards!
So I just try my best to lay next to her while facing the other way. Even though I am still excited, I might calm down over time.
But even an hour is not enough to lessen my desires and I can’t relieve myself in this situation without her noticing the smell or the stains! I might get up and do it in the corner, but that’s still too risky.
“Ken… you’re awake?”
“If you’re thinking about having sex with me, since it might be your last night…” She pauses. What? What kind of development is this? Is Kyou-san actually aroused, too? Maybe being with a man that close for so long makes her sexually frustrated, too. “…forget it!”
And it got flaccid.
Of course it’s actually better than being aroused all the time, but not much. My ego is shattered. Even though it’s only natural, that someone like Kyou-san would act like that.
At least I can now get some sleep.
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