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Thread: [Quest] Lostbelt Raising Project

  1. #341
    死徒二十七祖 The Twenty Seven Dead Apostle Ancestors Bird of Hermes's Avatar
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    4 - There's other stuff I want to do but this is something we kind of have to do first.

  2. #342

  3. #343
    屍鬼 Ghoul
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    I say 4. Let's go talk with Saber and get our results.

  4. #344
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Year: 2018

    Location: Pinyang Hospital, Level 1

    “Hello~”

    “Yo yo yo!”

    With a cheerful flourish, Assassin and Alisha arrive and enter the hospital room.

    It is the day after the Emperor’s visit. After spending the rest of the day thinking things through and deciding on how to spend the following few weeks, I sent out a message to ask both Assassin and Alisha to come by for something important. Honestly, I was a bit worried Alisha wouldn’t listen and completely flake on me, but it seems even she won’t say no if it’s important.

    “So? What do you want, Bengshan?” Alisha asks brusquely. Both she and Assassin stand at the side of my bed to hear me out.

    “Well, I called you both here today so you could hear something.” I explain before motioning to Saber, sitting up in the bed next to mine. “A while ago, I asked Saber to do some research on this Lostbelt and, given her current condition, it doesn’t seem like she’ll be able to continue the task for a while. So, I decided to hear what she’s gathered so far, and I thought it’d be good for you two to be here too, in case you notice something important that I don’t.”

    Assassin seems decently well-read in regard to Chinese history and Alisha’s a chinaboo, so they should be far more knowledgeable about these sorts of things than me. It’s very likely that something Saber says will reveal a vital clue that I won’t be able to notice, so it’s up to these two to handle it.

    “Ah, I understand. Well, I don’t know if I’ll be able to say anything useful, but the least I can do is listen.” Assassin nods along modestly.

    “Hoho, so you understand the superiority of my knowledge. Very well, I’ll help you out, Bengshan. Hehehe~” Alisha cackles but agrees nonetheless.

    Both Assassin and Alisha seemed to understand the situation as they accept readily and soon enough all eyes were on Saber.

    “Thank you two for coming. I hope that my information will be useful to you.” Saber begins with a bow. “Over the course of the past two-or-so weeks, I’ve read numerous books in the library to gather the information that my Master asked for and have found a few things. There’s a lot of information, so I’ll go through the important details one-by-one.”

    And so, in a formal and didactic tone befitting a school lecturer, Saber begins presenting her research:

    “First of all, the history of the empire. As expected, the history of the empire stretches back 4000 years and a detailed, thorough record of all 4 millennia years has been kept and is readily available to the public. These records, though, mainly concern the governance, technological breakthroughs and the expansion of the empire. Things such as wars, foreign nations, or rebellions are not recorded.”

    “Also, while the historical records are rather thorough, there is little detail regarding the first few centuries. And anything beyond a certain point around 4000 years ago is completely void. The commencement of the Emperor and the implementation of core systems such as the Imperial Examination are not detailed either. As far as the records are concerned, it is as if the world began with the Emperor sitting on his throne.”

    Saber takes a moment to pause, perhaps giving the rest of us time to process the info dump. I glance at Assassin and Alisha who seem to be contemplating the info seriously.

    “Hmm, that aligns with the research I did as well. Even though everyone in this world seems rather well-educated, no matter who I asked, nobody seemed to know anything about the empire before 4000 years prior, nor did they know any Emperor beyond Yao.” Assassin remarks.

    “So, both the books and the people have no idea about that far back.” I think out loud. “Well, it was 4000 years. You’re bound to know less info the farther back you go. It’s not like we had a good record of things 4000 years ago in our world.”

    “I’m not sure about that, Master. It’s hard to believe that all that history has been well-kept for all those millennia but only a few centuries are a blank. Usually, when history is lost to time, it is because of external factors of destruction such as war or fires. But as far as we know, no such things have happened in the past; that knowledge should not have been lost.” Assassin argues.

    “So, if it wasn’t lost… are you saying that someone purposefully got rid of it?” I wonder.

    “That is a distinct possibility…” Assassin nods.

    And as for who got rid of it, well that’s rather obvious. It’d have to be the person who’s been in charge and the only person who would remember what happened 4000 years ago: The Emperor himself.

    “Question: Did you find any mention of the sun in your research, Saber?” Alisha suddenly asks.

    “… no, not at all. There was no mention or reference to the sun in any of the books I read. The same goes for the other celestial bodies, of course. Same for the concept of Heaven too.” Saber answers.

    “Tch, as I thought. But not just the sun, but Heaven too… that’s not good…” Alisha grimaces.

    Well, I expected as much, but it really does seem like the very idea of things in the sky do not exist in this world. If they weren’t recorded in the history books, is it safe to say that the sun has been gone for more than 4000 years?

    “It all keeps coming back to 4000 years, huh? Can we assume that that was the divergence point between our histories?” I wonder.

    “I’d say it’s a safe bet. Whatever happened to this world must’ve happened about 4000 years ago.” Alisha declares.

    As for what that thing was, we still have zero clues though. Dammit.

    Still, even after all this time, it’s weird to think that the people here have spent their entire lives, entire millennia, not knowing what the sun is. That’s just…

    … wait, now that I think about it, could it be that…

    A sudden epiphany hits me as I follow that train of thought.

    “Hm? What’s wrong, Master?” Assassin asks, noticing my change in expression.

    “Ah, no, it’s just that… I remembered something.” I answer, still trying to piece together my thoughts. “Yesterday, I was talking to the Emperor about our strategy, and when I suggested using Berserker’s Noble Phantasm, he shut me down rather fervently. At the time, I thought he was just angry at my stupidity but maybe there was more to that…”

    “Hm? What do you mean?” Assassin asks.

    In response, I instead turn to the person next to her. I’m still uncertain about my conclusion, so I decide to ask the other person who might know first.

    “Alisha. What do you think? Why do you think the Emperor didn’t want Berserker to use his Noble Phantasm?” I press her.

    “Huh, me? W-well… I’d think it’s because of its high energy cost. But if you’re saying it’s for some other reason than… maybe there’s another downside to the Noble Phantasm? We did give a full report of it to the Emperor, so he might have noticed something problematic about it.” She speculates.

    “Right, we gave him the details of what we saw inside that Reality Marble. So, what do you think we saw in it that he’s wary of?” I follow up.

    “Huhh? Well, if we’re talking about what was weird inside the Noble Phantasm, it’d have to be the Forest of Meat or the Lake of Wine or… oh. Oh shit!” She suddenly exclaims as she gets it. “It’s the Sun!”

    “Exactly. Inside Berserker’s Reality Marble, there’s a bright, shining sun. That must be what the Emperor was afraid of!” I declare.

    Thinking about it, it would make sense. If we were to use Berserker’s Noble Phantasm on the battlefield, some of the imperial soldiers were bound to get caught in it and end up seeing a glimpse of our world. For the first time ever, they would see something in the sky; they would know of the existence of the sun and their very knowledge of the world could be shattered. That might be what the Emperor was trying to avoid and so banned us from using Berserker’s NP.

    But if that’s true, that means the Emperor does in fact know what the sun is and is actively trying to keep his citizens from ever learning about it. Why would he do that? As much as I speculate, I can’t come up with a definitive answer, but my suspicion of the Emperor grows ever further…

    After ruminating on that realization for a bit longer, we found ourselves unable to draw out any more conclusions from the info and decide to let Saber continue with her lecture:

    “The second matter I was asked to investigate was the demonic beasts that plague the empire. Despite my best efforts, though, there was little info regarding them. Surprisingly, there has not been much conclusive research towards the ecology and biology of these monsters. I am not sure if it’s because the empire has not put much effort into it or if the creatures themselves are so mysterious that they cannot be studied scientifically.”

    “What I did find, however, is the origin of the demonic beasts. Or at least, their supposed root. In our world, we would consider it a piece of folklore or superstition, but it seems that it is an iron-clad belief in this world. To put it simply, it is said that the demonic beasts are the corrupted souls of those who disobeyed the imperial law and went against the Emperor. For those who ever rebel against the Empire, they are subjected to eternal damnation as a mindless monster that murders the innocent people of this world. That is the true nature of the Demonic Beasts.”

    Saber finishes and clams up to allow the rest of us to ponder and discuss the implications of her exposition.

    “I see… so the Demonic Beasts were originally the souls of criminals…” I nod along understandingly.

    It certainly sounds like one of those folktales you would hear, the kind of thing a parent might tell their kid to get him to behave. However, in this world, those monsters really do exist and things like magic are still prevalent, so such things could be very true.

    Just as I’m about to accept it, though, Assassin suddenly speaks up.

    “Hmm… I wonder if that’s really true.” She voices uneasily.

    “Hmm? What do you mean, Assassin?” I ask her.

    “Well, I’m just wondering if that’s actually what the Demonic Beast are… or if that’s just what people are being told.” She explains. “After all, just because it’s in the books and the people here say that’s how it is, is it really true?”

    “Ahh… I guess that is a possibility…” I ponder.

    Certainly, just because everyone believes something is true, it doesn’t mean it is true. How would one even know if a soul becomes a demon or not after death? It’s one of those things you can’t exactly see with your own eyes. But, in that case, does that mean that…

    “Someone is purposefully feeding this belief into the citizens? Indeed, I considered the possibility as well.” Saber comments.

    “Why would someone do that though?” I question immediately, though perhaps too quickly as Assassin shakes her head.

    “It should be obvious, Master. If you tell people that breaking the law and disobeying the Emperor will turn them into demons, they’ll be disincentivized from doing such things. And the one person who benefits from that is the Emperor himself, who happens to have control over all the consumable information in this world.” Assassin points out.

    In other words, by spreading the belief that the horrific demonic beasts are former lawbreakers, the Emperor further keeps people from acting out of line. It’s just another method to completely control the people of this world and ensure is eternal reign. It reminds me of fascist propaganda or the preachings of a corrupt religious leader – utterly terrible.

    “W-well, that’s just a possibility. We don’t have any proof if that really is the case. It’s possible that and wouldn’t be weird if the demonic beasts really are lost souls. We are in a world of mythological wonder, after all.” I decide to say, in order to cut us off before we go too far in our doubts. “Anyways, it seems we still don’t know anything concrete about the demonic beasts. I was hoping for something insightful, but it looks like another dead end.”

    “… not entirely. It did illuminate one of our mysteries.” Alisha suddenly declares, after staying quiet for a while.

    “Eh? What are you talking about?” I wonder.

    “You should’ve been thinking about it too, right? The demonization of certain Servants, I mean.” She explains.

    “Ah. That’s right. I forgot about that.” I realize, tapping my fist into my palm.

    Indeed, one of the reasons I wanted to learn more about the demons was the peculiar distortion that certain Servants had gone through upon being summoned in this world, specifically why certain Servants were demonized but not others.

    “Wait, are you saying you figured it out?” I ask, rather surprised.

    “Hehe, did you not realize? I guess I’m just too clever, after all.” Alisha boasts. “Well, if you think about it a bit more, you should figure it out too. With that info, it’s pretty obvious. Of course, if you don’t think you can, you’re free to beg me for the info.”

    Frowning, I try to think it out for myself, while also thinking of a way to punch Alisha in the face for mocking me.

    It should be obvious with the new info? What does she mean? The only thing in the new info is the folk belief that the souls of lawbreakers become demonic beasts. How would that relate to a Servant’s summoning?

    … no, wait, if I think about it that way, it does make a lot of sense.

    Coming to an epiphany, I begin thinking about all of the Servants we’ve met in this world and testing my hypothesis.

    Assassin – Lawful Good
    Demonic Rider – Chaotic Evil
    Demonic Saber – Chaotic Good
    Demonic Lancer – Chaotic Good
    Berserker of Shang – Lawful Evil
    Demonic Assassin – Chaotic Good

    It all fits. That’s it!

    “It’s the alignment! All the Demonic Servants have the Chaotic alignment!” I exclaim with shocked realization.

    “Bingo.” Alisha confirms with a smug smirk. “In this world, chaotic and demonic are synonymous. Therefore, any Chaotic Servant summoned here will also be a Demonic Servant. That is the truth behind the Lostbelt Distortion of this world.”

    This world’s iron-clad belief that those who are not lawful – that is to say, chaotic – become demons, it has somehow messed with the very foundation of their human order and thus messed with the Servants themselves. It is a belief so instilled in the people that it is apart of their very humanity…

    That is the rule of this Lostbelt, the Land of Eternal Night, Yao – the world without Chaos.

    “… haah, even though we found out a lot of things, I somehow just feel kind of deflated by it all.” I sigh after the high of the epiphany wore off.

    “Unfortunately, that’s how most truths end up, Master. As they say, bliss is indeed ignorance.” Assassin sagely remarks.

    “Anyways, is that everything, Saber? Was there anything else you found in your research?” Alisha presses.

    “No. Unfortunately, that was everything I could find in my research. I’m sorry I could not be more useful.” Saber apologizes.

    “Ah, don’t worry about it, Saber. That was actually a big help. I appreciate it.” I praise her with a wave.

    “Ah… Thank you, Camille.” She politely responds.

    At that moment, she flashes me a warm smile that makes me happy that our relationship has progressed a bit. She’s still a little stiff, but she’s softened up quite a bit after what we’ve gone through.

    I’m glad that I had her research all this stuff. Though it was partially to get rid of her, it ended it up with such a good result, thanks to Saber’s diligent and earnest nature. From now on, I’ll have to ask her to do more and more things, but if it’s her, I’m sure she’ll pull through.

    Wise-up! Demonic Saber's Status
    Affection up!
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    “… hm? Camille?” Assassin tilts her head.

    “Anyways!!” I loudly continue, before Assassin can linger on that thought to long. “If no one else has anything to share, I suppose that’s all we’ve got. Does anyone have additional comments?”

    Assassin and Alisha shake their heads, having shared all their immediate thoughts for the moment. I don’t have anything else either, so I guess that’s all for today.

    Just before I dismiss everyone, though, a soft voice interrupts.

    “Um… there is one more thing…” Saber quietly raises her hand.

    “Didn’t you say that was all your research?” Alisha questions.

    “Yes. That was all that I found during my research. But this is separate. It’s more of an… observation. How should I put this…?” Saber says uneasily.

    Curious what else she might have found, the three of us once again listen to her carefully.

    “Hmm… let me pose it as a question.” She decides. “Simply put, I’d like to know if anyone else, at any time in this world, has seen a bow and arrow.”

    “Eh? A bow and arrow?” I cock my head at the random-seeming topic.

    Still, if Saber’s mentioning it, it’s probably important, so I go out of my way to search my memories, as do the other two. However much we think, though, we come up dry.

    “Huh. Now that you mention it, I guess I haven’t seen any bows or arrows in this world.” I conclude, puzzled at the fact.

    “I thought so.” Saber nods. “It came to me during my fight with Demonic Assassin. During it, she had large and varied arsenal of weapons that she obtained in this world. I ended up pulling them all out of her, so I got a look at every single armament in her weaponry. It was a very vast collection that even included more unique weapons such as a meteor hammer or a flying guillotine. Yet… there wasn’t a single bow or arrow.”

    Now that she mentions it, that is true. Demonic Assassin had basically every weapon under the non-existent sun, yet she never pulled out a bow or arrow. Even if it wasn’t suited for close combat, it’s such a useful weapon that she should’ve still had one inside her, in case she needed to use it.

    “Does that mean there aren’t any bows or arrows in this world?” I ponder.

    “That is the only conclusion I could come to.” Saber confirms.

    Damn, that’s crazy. Archery is such a staple of non-modern warfare that it’s weird to think that it doesn’t exist in this world. But I guess that such things do happen. The question, I suppose, is why.

    “Maybe archery was simply never invented in this world. If the divergence point was 4000 years ago, it’s not hard to think some change caused certain things to not exist.” I reason.

    “Hmm… I’m not sure about that, Master.” Assassin frowns. “In Chinese legend, the bow and arrow were famously invented by the Yellow Emperor, several centuries before the reign of Emperor Yao. If the divergence point was when we think it is, the bow and arrow should’ve been invented without problem.”

    “Is that so? Then, if it wasn’t not invented…” I contemplate solemnly.

    Was the knowledge lost to time? No, wait, we just talked earlier about how difficult it would be for things to be lost to time with the state of this world. In that case, the only logical reason would be…

    “It was manually erased from history?” I conclude, not without my doubts, though.

    “That… would be the simplest answer.” Assassin unhappily nods. “The Emperor most likely removed all knowledge of the concept of archery and blocked any such inventions over the course of four millennia.”

    “But why?” I groan at the enigmatic answer.

    Again, we come back to the same conclusion: every mystery we encounter leads back to the Emperor’s likely involvement.

    “… say, this is just a stray thought, but there’s something on my mind.” Alisha abruptly interjects. “If archery doesn’t exist in this world, what happens to the Archer Class?”

    “Ehh? Ah, that’s… huh.” I can only contemplate the question silently.

    Going by the pattern we’ve established, isn’t it very possible that the concept of archery doesn’t exist in this world enough to affect the foundation of its heroes. Therefore, perhaps Archer-class Servants can’t be summoned here? Certainly, we’ve yet to meet a single Archer…

    I can’t for certain if that’s the case, but it is a very strong possibility. That also seems to be a common pattern so far…

    Well, on that note, the four of us finally exhausted all of our info and thoughts.

    Unfortunately, we weren’t able to learn anything super concrete and our inquiries only led to more questions. At the end of each and every question, though, seemed to be a single root – a single person behind every mystery of this world.

    Emperor Yao.

    If our hypotheses are correct, he’s been manipulating the information of beliefs of this world’s citizens for 4000 years. The lack of knowledge of the sun, the folklore of the demonic beasts, and the erasure of archery, he seems to be responsible for each and every one.

    Why? How? What for? It’s impossible to know… unless we find out from the man himself.

    It would be risky. Confronting him head on is no different than telling him how much we distrust him. It could potentially sour our relationship with him forever. But if we don’t do it, we’ll never find the truth.

    Will curiosity kill the cat or will we find the light at the end of the tunnel?

    I don’t know…

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  5. #345
    Your average angst/edge supplier BnEl15's Avatar
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    So far, I think it's obvious that the Lostbelt's divergence point came from something going wrong when Hou Yi shot the nine suns. Maybe he failed, or he was too late, which burned the entire world to ashes, forcing everyone to live underground without any mention of celestial bodies. Maybe Yao also stopped the development of archery cuz' it reminds him of Hou Yi or something.

    Either way, I don't think it's worth confronting the Emperor directly over this and possibly worsening our relationship with him just yet. For now, I'm gonna take 1, hopefully to get in the Emperor's good graces.

  6. #346
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Year: 2018

    Location: Pinyang Hospital, Level 1

    “Ugh, is it time already? What a pain… Alright, is everyone here?”

    “Yup! Wassup, guys! Long time no see!”

    “Hello, ‘mellow. It’s great to see everyone again~”

    “Gahahaha, looks like y’all are still alive. That’s good!”

    “Salutations. It would seem that we have a full attendance for once.”

    “… hello.”

    “…”

    With a raucous chorus of shouts, numerous images appear before me, each one more annoying than the last. The desire to turn off the communication device and go to bed is overwhelming. The only thing keeping me from doing so is how much shit Alisha would give me afterwards.

    It is the day before I’m supposed to be discharged from the hospital, but I remembered at the last minute that it was also the day of the monthly meeting.

    And so, against my best wishes, the Second Monthly Crypter Assembly has started.

    For the first time, though, it seems like everyone actually showed up for once, including a certain punk.

    “Huh? What’s wrong, Ben? You look like you’re glaring at me.” The red-haired young man remarks as he notices my killing intent.

    “… nothing. Was just thinking that you actually showed up this time.” I mutter in an indignant tone.

    “Hey, hey, you’re making it sound like I’m always absent. C’mon, I was here last time too, y’know. You’re the one who missed it. Heck, I’ve been waiting to see your ugly mug too.” He cackles in a friendly manner.

    “… I guess.” I mumble back.

    That’s right, this pompous prick with slick red hair is the seventh and last Crypter in charge of the Aquarius Lostbelt.

    Lazlow Grimmwold, the Strongest Master.

    Don’t let appearances or personality fool you. It would be a grave mistake to judge this man based on his outsides or his insides. As much as we hate it, this carefree, casual clown is the leader of the Crypters and humanity’s strongest Master. If there was a single human on earth that should’ve been entrusted with the fate of humanity, the default answer would certainly be him.

    “Now, now, as much as I’d love to just chat with y’all, we unfortunately do have some business to take care of. Haahh…” Lazlow sighs while drooping his shoulders. “Will you get things started, Wilhelm?”

    “It would be my pleasure.” Wilhelm smiles and bows, like some sort of newly hired butler, before starting. “Ahem. As of this date, it has been 60 days… 2 full months since the Fantasy Trees have taken root. The Outsider Filtering Phenomenon is nearly complete, and with it the full stabilization of our Lostbelts. In light of this, today we have gathered here to discuss our progress, problems and other potential topics for the sake of mutual cooperation.”

    “Yes, yes, you guys know the drill. First off, how’s everyone doing?” Lazlow cut in, twirling his wrist as if to tell Wilhelm to talk faster.

    “Ahem. Specifically speaking, please report your progress in a concise and thorough manner. Though we have everyone’s reports, it is important to get your personal thoughts on the matter as well.” Wilhelm adds.

    “Yeah, what three-eyes said.” Lazlow nods lazily.

    As always, watching these two in action is an amusingly stupid sight. As the responsible one, Wilhelm handles all the organizational stuff, but there’s no question who the real leader here is, so the fancy swanky gentleman has to just do his best and roll along with Lazlow’s lackadaisical style.

    “Alright! I’ll go first!” Garou shouts with high spirits. “Everything’s going swimmingly over here. Me and my new buds have defeated all the enemy Servants, hahaha!”

    “Hmm~ You say that you’ve defeated them, but isn’t death impossible in your Lostbelt? What are you doing with the Servants you defeated?” Bianca asks.

    “Huh? Isn’t it obvious? There’s no honor in attacking someone once they’re down.” He states proudly.

    “… are you serious?” I can’t help but comment.

    “If you just leave them alone, won’t they just attack you again?” Alisha also points out.

    “Hahaha, of course! After tasting defeat, their spirits will light up once more and they’ll become even stronger. Then, when we have our rematch, their growth will inspire my own growth and I’ll also surpass my former limits! Eventually, after I’ve defeated them enough, they’ll understand the soul of my fists and we’ll become friends!!!” Garou declares.

    … wow. That might be the single stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

    “Well, putting aside the logic behind it, if Garou has the luxury to let them go, it means he’s that confident in his victory. I think we should believe in that confidence and trust him to handle things on his own.” Lazlow chimes in with only a small sweatdrop, before turning to the wild child in question with a thumbs up. “Go for it, Garou! Show us the power of your burning fighting spirit!”

    “Hell ya! You know it! You can 100% believe in the me that believes in myself!!!” Garou exclaims, pumping his fists and the rest of his body like a bursting volcano of manly energy.

    I swear, if this high-tension hyper-masculine atmosphere keeps up, my blood pressure will be enough to crush diamonds.

    “Anyways, moving on, what about you, Bianca? I’m very interested in your… growth.” Lazlow says with a hum.

    “Me? Oh, the Lostbelt’s been growing very well. It is stabilizing and expanding at a nice, steady pace. There haven’t been any major hiccups along the way, either.” Bianca states with a bright smile.

    “What about the appearance of enemy Servants? I don’t mean to demean it, but I do not believe your Lostbelt is well suited to deal with violent intruders.” Wilhelm brings up.

    “It has not been a problem. Indeed, there have been some Servants with malevolent intentions, but once I sat down with them face-to-face, I was able to convince them to lay down their swords and join us. All of them have been lovely people and I’m glad they were able to see reason. Tehe~” Bianca explains cheerfully.

    As expected of Bianca, she managed to handle all of her enemies through sheer diplomacy. She’s the complete opposite of Garou, who solves everything with his fists. For her, violence is a last resort and most things can be settled with words and pictures. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if she pacified a dragon with nothing more than her smile.

    “I see, I see.” Lazlow nods along to her explanation. “However, Bianca, that wasn’t what I was actually asking about.”

    “Is that so? What are you referring to, then?” Bianca asks naively.

    “Hehe, I was asking about your personal growth.” Lazlow declares with a smirk. “Is it just me… or has your chest grown even more?”

    I immediately facepalm. Damn this perverted leader of ours.

    “E-eeehhh? I-I don’t know about that…” Bianca replies with a strained smile.

    “So, you aren’t sure, huh? Can’t be helped. In that case, have Saber bring me to you so I can personally check. Hehehe.” Lazlow cackles creepily while wiggling his hands in an even creepier manner.

    “No way. Geez, you’re so naughty, Lazlow. This is why you don’t have a significant other.” Bianca plays it off in her usual girly manner.

    “Hohoho, don’t fret. You have the power to change that, don’t you? What do you say?” Lazlow cockily boasts.

    “Hahaha, I’ll have to say no. I prefer gentle, sensible guys.” Bianca declines politely.

    “Guh. Damn, rejected. I should’ve known better than to hit on her when I already know she has the hots for Ben…” Lazlow sulks.

    “Oi, I have several issues with that statement.” I retort swiftly.

    “… Bianca. Ignore him and have Saber send me to that idiot’s Lostbelt instead so I can beat him up already. I’ll teach him a lesson or two about how to treat women.” Alisha commands, already cracking her knuckles. As usual, she seems pretty angry at our leader’s behavior.

    “Right. For the sake of peace and serenity, I’ll have to decline both of your requests. Sorry.” Bianca states, clapping her hands together to signal the end of the issue.

    Jesus, what even is this farce of a meeting? The nonsense never ends…

    “Well, well, my eternally lonely future aside, let’s move ahead. Next up is Wilhelm, right?” Lazlow smoothly transitions.

    “Indeed. In my case, it hasn’t been so peaceful. Everyday continues to be a dizzying dance with death. Though, then again, chaotic violence is more or less the natural state of this world. In fact, my data actually suggests that the Lostbelt stabilizes more the wilder things are. In that sense, one could say that this world is in peak condition.” Wilhelm reports calmly.

    “So, you’re still in the information-gathering phase?” Lazlow keenly asks.

    “Indeed. Though, personally, I’d say I’m always gathering information.” Wilhelm boasts.

    “We know. Your reports are longer than the rest of ours combined.” I grumble.

    “You should thank me for it. It isn’t easy writing them all up either. But that info should be beneficial to you guys as well.” Wilhelm states.

    “Sure, I’ll thank you after I’m done reading them all. Which, at this rate, will be never.” I growl while rolling my eyes.

    In response, Wilhelm merely shrugs in a “the inferior can’t be helped” sort of manner. At least, that’s what I interpret it as.

    “So then, next is… Christoph? How ya doing buddy?” Lazlow asks the quiet guy shrinking to the side.

    The genius of few words, having been called upon, raises his head slightly and makes a somewhat pensive expression before answering in a minute voice.

    “… okay.” He says.

    “Great, moving on…” Lazlow nods and continues forth.

    Oi, oi, is that really all?

    “So, last but not least, we have our dynamic duo. Ben, Alisha. How are things? You getting along?” Lazlow asks, snapping his fingers before pointing at us.

    “Of course not—” I start.

    “Yupperino, we’re basically besties! I always knew we’d be the perfect team!” Alisha cheers in an especially idiotic tone.

    “Oi, don’t put words in my mouth. Since when did we start getting along?” I rebut immediately.

    “Eh? I though we were cool now. Was I mistaken?” Alisha gasps.

    “Obviously! Were you not listening when I told you how much I hated you? That hasn’t changed one bit!” I shout.

    “Boo, you’re just being a tsundere. I know you secretly care.” She giggles with a wink.

    “I don’t. My hatred for you is 100% genuine. How are you unable to get that through your skull?” I question, not only to the idiot in front of me but to the very world itself.

    “Hehehe, it looks you like you two are getting along after all.” Bianca suddenly comments with a beaming smile. “I was worried that you wouldn’t match each other well, but you’ve already become close enough to bicker like this. That’s great.”

    “Oi, what are you talking about? We’re as dysfunctional as ever. You can’t be serious.” I retort.

    Do these people really think the more you argue, the closer you are? Seriously, what are their standards for friendship anyways?

    “Of course, I’m serious. After all… you’re being so energetic right now, Ben.” Bianca remarks. “Normally, you’d just stick to yourself and sulk in silence, but you’re actually participating actively this time. You’ve opened up a lot, you know.”

    “Ah.”

    My jaw hangs open at the realization, unable to form any more words. Now that she mentions it… could she be right? I usually do just keep my retorts and witty remarks to myself and just glare at the others while they talked. But, before I knew it, I was already reacting to all of their stupid antics this time around.

    Have I become more open with them now that I’ve gotten over some of my bitter feelings and complexes towards them?

    … no, that can’t be. I’m just in a talkative mood today. Yeah, that’s it.

    “Ahem. Pleasantries aside, it would be good to continue with the query. How is the progress of your Lostbelt, you two?” Wilhelm interrupts to bring things back on track.

    “Uh, yeah. It’s fine…” I answer as I try to regain my footing. “Things have been a little slow, but it’s steady. There haven’t been any major dilemmas.”

    “Hm~ Are you sure, Bengshan? I mean, you are in the hospital again, aren’t you? That doesn’t sound like nothing to me.” Wilhelm smugly points out.

    Gah, dammit. So they found out about that? I was trying to hide it, since I didn’t want them teasing me again…

    Wait, doesn’t that mean, Alisha was the one who told them? Damn her!

    “It’s fine. I’m fine. This is no big deal.” I growl in response.

    “Are you sure, Ben? I’ve been worried about you a lot too.” Bianca mentions. “Truth is, I’ve been unable to sleep lately while thinking about you.”

    Why are you even thinking about me in bed? Don’t you have better things to do?

    “… worried.” Christoph also chimes in.

    Tch. I feel my annoyance rising again. Like always, they’re treating me like I’m so incompetent. I’m the only one they fret over all the time.

    Just as I’m about to yell about how condescending they all are, a surprising voice cuts in.

    “No need to worry guys. Benghan’s doing great. Sure he’s all banged up, but a few cuts and bruises aren’t enough to keep him down. You guys just don’t trust him enough.” Alisha cheerfully declares.

    “Huh?” My eyes open wide open as I slowly process Alisha’s words.

    Did… did Alisha just stand up for me?

    N-no way. She would never. It’s Alisha after all. She was probably just saying that someone of my level isn’t even worth caring about. Yeah, that’s it… probably…

    “Well, I suppose you’re by his side, so you’d know best.” Wilhelm agrees, stepping back a little. “But, that said, I’m also worried about you too, Alisha.”

    “Huh? Me?” Alisha responds with utter surprise.

    “That’s right. After all… you’ve already lost one Lostbelt.” He states as coldly as possible.

    “Gh…” Alisha immediately freezes up and is shut silent now that that topic has been brought up. She merely lowers her head so that we can hardly see her face.

    “That’s right, you’ve already been defeated, Alisha. You lost because you didn’t have enough guts, so you need to get serious and power up for real.” Garou yells. “If you don’t bounce back, you’ll stay a loser forever!”

    “Loser… I’m a loser…?” Alisha repeats in a low, dreadful voice.

    H-hey, is she okay? She suddenly seems really gloomy compared to her cheerful bravado from earlier.

    I wonder if I should say something, but someone else does first.

    “Hey, there, Garou. It’s not cool to bully girls, y’know.” Lazlow says, smoothly sliding in with a disapproving head shake.

    “Huh? Ah, no, no, sorry, sorry, I was just trying to get her fighting spirit up.” Garou immediately apologizes.

    “You gotta be more careful. You can’t be so rough when dealing with ladies. That’s also part of what it means to be a man, y’know.” Lazlow lectures.

    “That’s right. Girls are really sensitive, Garou. There’s such a thing as delicacy.” Bianca joins in.

    “… be careful.” Christoph also chimes in.

    “Right, I’m sorry! I didn’t mean it that way, Alisha. Forgive me!” Garou sincerely clasps his hands together and begs for forgiveness.

    With such a dramatic and earnest display, it’s hard not to feel his honest sorrow. Still, Alisha seems rather depressed.

    “… it’s fine. It didn’t bother me that much anyway.” Alisha replies, sulkily accepting his apology, but not looking back at anyone directly.

    Just as she turns away a little, though, Lazlow turns towards her with a gentle smile.

    “Don’t let it get to you too much, okay, Alisha? One loss is nothing.” Lazlow states in a comforting voice. “I mean, you can trust me on that. After all, nobody has had a loss more devastating than me…”

    “Oh dear, here it comes.” Bianca sighs, already bracing herself for it. The other likewise get themselves ready.

    “Oh, the shame! The humiliation! The eternal torment!” Lazlow cries out dramatically, like some sort of classical actor. “The shadows consuming my heart have no end. No success can wash away my loss. Powerless. Hopeless. Emptiness. That is me, Lazlow Grimmwold, the world’s greatest loser. Crushed by the weight of reality, I can only howl towards the moon overheard and curse you, my eternal rival. FUUUUUUCCCKKKKK!!!”

    “…”

    “…”

    “…”

    With a tired expression on all of our faces, us Crypters can only sigh as our leader goes about with his usual routine.

    Well except for one.

    “I totally understand what you mean, bro. The pain of rivalry lies in the hearts of all men!” Garou shouts in response while crying his heart out.

    As expected, only idiots can comprehend other idiots.

    “Hey, I know it’s your shtick and all, but you ever feel like cutting down on it?” I suggest, making clear my frustration.

    “Now, now, if I get rid of my thing, my whole characterization will be ruined. Staple phrases and jokes are key to building one’s image. Otherwise, the audience won’t connect with you enough.” Lazlow laughs merrily.

    What audience? Even if there was one, they’d surely be tired of his dramatic, faux edgy speeches by now.

    “Well, now that that’s out of the way, we should move along. What’s next on the schedule, triclops?” Lazlow says, calming down a bit.

    “Oh, right, well, next is problems and concerns. If anyone has something they’d like to discuss with the others and receive advice on, they are free to do so now.” Wilhelm declares.

    “Right, right. In that case, how about I go first this time?” Lazlow proposes.

    “Oh? You actually have a problem?” Wilhelm wonders, rather surprised.

    “That’s right. It’s a very serious problem, so I hope everyone will hear me out.” Lazlow claims calmly. “The truth is, this has been on my mind since I entered my Lostbelt and I finally have to say something about it.”

    Before I know it, I find myself gulping. A problem so grave that even the strongest master is having trouble with it? What could it be? An invincible enemy? Or perhaps something fundamentally wrong with the foundation of his Lostbelt? Whatever it is, I can’t imagine there’s any advice we could give that’d help.

    Even so, I end up listening to him intently as he leans in closer and addresses us in a tone of utmost seriousness.

    “I would not hesitate to say that my Lostbelt is nearly perfect. It is truly a world without Flaw. However, after some time, I’ve realized that it contains a fatal mistake. Specifically speaking, it is lacking something incredibly vital. Without it, there is practically no point to the entire venture. It would be no joke to say that the Lostbelt might as well be dead if it isn’t there. And the thing I’m talking about is, of course…”

    Lazlow takes in a deep breath and then yells out from the bottom of his soul.

    “Cute girls!!!”

    “““… huh?”””

    Everyone is left flabbergasted and speechless. Wilhelm and I, in particular, have already double facepalmed ourselves.

    “I can’t believe it either, guys.” Lazlow cries to himself. “When I was told I’d be going to an Isekai, I naturally assumed there’d be a variety of cuties to build a harem from. After all, Isekai = Harem Adventure is just basic logic. But, for some reason, most of the Servants have been sweaty musclehead dudes who only care about fighting. What the hell kind of harem am I supposed to make from that!?”

    “Oh my god, he’s actually serious.” I lament as he just goes on and on.

    “Of course I’m serious! And you’re not allowed to say anything, Ben. I read the reports. You’ve just been collecting waifus as you please, bastard! Give me some of that luck!” Lazlow complained in an all too childish manner.

    “Umm, I don’t really want to engage, but aren’t all three of your Servants female, Lazlow? Isn’t that enough for you?” Bianca questions.

    “Of course not! Nowadays, a harem of three is just the bare minimum. You need more heroines to satisfy the modern consumer society. Rather, I need more! I want more!!!” Lazlow claims, completely in tantrum mode now. “Besides, my Archer isn’t cute at all. She’s always angry and prissy and doesn’t have any moe attributes. With all the cock-blocking she does, she’s practically a negative heroine so I’m actually back down to just one!”

    Suddenly, the moment those words finish leaving his mouth, a loud banging noise echoes through the call followed by the sound of an opening door.

    Slowly and with a nervous expression, Lazlow turns around only to find a sight that starts to make him sweat.

    “O-oh, uh, Archer… d-did you hear all that? N-no, I didn’t really mean it. It was just a joke. Just joshing my friends – n-no, it was a joke! Stay away!”

    And then, we were all treated to the spectacular sight of Archer putting her Master into an iron claw and slapping the shit out of him.

    After a minute, humanity’s strongest master and our illustrious leader was left on the ground with a red, swollen face.

    “Ugh… remind me to never say anything bad about Archer while she’s anywhere in a 10 km radius.” Lazlow groans as he crawls back into his chair.

    “Sorry, but I’m pretty sure that was all your fault.” Bianca sighs in a can’t-be-helped sort of tone.

    “Indeed. There’s a limit to how far jokes can go.” Wilhelm shakes his head dissaprovingly.

    “Hahaha, she totally beat the crap out of you, bro. Who’s the real Master there?” Garou laughs boisterously.

    “… ha ha.” Christoph chuckles.

    Having watched our leader’s pathetic display, we can’t help but just laugh it off, or else it’d be too sad.

    “Heh. What an idiot. He’s totally hopeless.” Alisha also smirks at the dumb comedy routine.

    Indeed, this level of idiocy is incurable.

    … wait a minute. Wasn’t Alisha sulking?

    When I turn to her, I find her smiling softly as she watched Lazlow’s lame appearance. She seems to have a cheered up a bit thanks to his tomfoolery.

    Phew. I feel relieved. I was worried she was still hurt, but it seems that the idiot’s pervert parade helped cheer her up. It worked so well, it’s almost as if it was on purpose…

    Nah. Can’t be. That’d be giving him too much credit.

    “Anyways, let’s change subjects for now, before Archer comes back for more.” Lazlow finally speaks up to get us back on track. “What were we doing again? Oh right, issues and concerns. Does anyone else have something they want to discuss?”

    “…”

    Things quickly turn silent as everyone looks at each other to see if the others will say anything.

    After a few rounds of that awkward tension, though, someone finally has the courage to raise their hand.

    “Yes, I do have one concern I’d like to bring up.” Wilhelm claims, focusing all the attention back on him. “Ahem. As you all should know from my reports, the humans in my Lostbelt are still hunter-gatherers. Lately, I’ve been contemplating whether or not I should try introducing the concept of agriculture to them. What do you think?”

    “Hmmm… it sounds like a risky venture, certainly.” Lazlow contemplates. “Knowing you, I’m sure you’ve done some simulations and weighed the pros and cons, but the reason you’re asking is because they’re inconclusive, right? There’s vital info you’re lacking.”

    “Indeed.” Wilhelm confirms. “While I can tell how an agricultural system would affect the world… I am unable to currently predict whether or not the citizens would be open to the idea or how they’ll react to it overall.”

    “In that case, what you need to do is obvious. You need to get to know the natives of your world better.” Lazlow states. “You can’t just interrogate them for info either. Actually get along with them. Figure out how they think. Become one of them. As long as you act like an outsider and treat them as data blocks, it’s only natural that you can’t understand their hearts.”

    “I see… very well, I’ll keep that in mind.” Wilhelm nods.

    “Okay, one down. Haaahh… anyone else?” Lazlow yawns lazily.

    “… me.” Christoph speaks up.

    “Cool, what’s up, buddy? Something on your mind?” Lazlow asks in a chummy manner.

    “… king … volatile…” Christoph mutters.

    Oi, oi, if you only say two words, we won’t be able to understand what you’re talking about.

    “I see. So you’re saying that you’re having trouble because the Lostbelt King is too volatile and thus unpredictable. You aren’t sure how she’ll act and are thus uncertain about what to do.” Lazlow swiftly interprets.

    “… yes.” Christoph nods.

    What? He actually understood it!?

    “I see. Hmmm… well, from what you’ve reported, she does indeed seem like quite the character. She is a legendary seductress after all. If it were me, I’d be defeated in 5 seconds, so you’ve already put up a good fight.” Lazlow contemplates nonchalantly. “But, it’s okay to give up if things are too hard. If working together with her is impossible, it might be a good idea to just take her out before she becomes too big a problem. There are times for compromise and times for violence. It’s up to you to distinguish between the two.”

    “… okay.” Christoph nods once more.

    It seems like that matter has been settled as well. Doesn’t seem like anyone else has anything to say either.

    “Oh, what about you two? Are there any problems you guys need advice for?” Lazlow suddenly turns to Alisha and me.

    “Eh? Us?”

    Alisha and I immediately glance at each other. It doesn’t seem like she knows what to say either, so we both just twiddle our thumbs for a bit as we think.

    Hmmm, what to do? In theory, this could be a decent chance to get some outside opinions on troubles that I’m facing. However I feel about them, these guys are also Crypters dealing with their own Lostbelts so they’d be in a good position to judge certain matters objectively.

    On the other hand, I still kind of hate these guys so I’m not exactly comfortable telling them just anything.

    Man, what should I do?

    Choice!
    It is the Second Monthly Crypter Assembly. During the discussion, you have been given the opportunity to ask the other Crypters for advice regarding any problems you might be having. What should you bring up?

    1. Your relationship with the Lostbelt King
    2. How to deal with the enemy Servants
    3. The unfindable Fantasy Tree
    4. Your political marriage
    5. Your unlikable partner, Alisha Hellstrom
    6. Let Alisha choose a topic
    7. Say nothing
    8. Write-In

    References
    Lazlow Grimmwold
    Archer


  7. #347
    4. Your political marriage

  8. #348
    You Are Going to Brazil Wyvern's Avatar
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    Your average angst/edge supplier BnEl15's Avatar
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    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

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    Now Revamped!

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    1 as well, I'd say he's one of out more difficult factors right now

  12. #352
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Year: 2018

    Location: Pinyang Hospital, Level 1

    “Well, there is one thing I’ve been having a little trouble with…”

    I decide to talk to the other Crypters about the problems I’ve been having with my Lostbelt King, Emperor Yao. Specifically, I bring up how he seems to be deliberately hiding something from not only me but the entire world. If it were a more personal matter such as my marriage, I’d probably be too embarrassed to bring it up, but this kind of practical matter should reveal some good ideas from the others.

    “I see, so basically you’re uncertain about how to confront your Lostbelt King over the information you want. Hmmm…” Lazlow nods along.

    He takes a moment to think, folding his arms and leaning back into his chair, before slowly snapping back to focus.

    “Well, isn’t it fine as it is?” He shrugs with an indifferent look.

    “Huh?”

    “I mean, I don’t think you necessarily need to do anything drastic right now. Your situation’s not so bad that immediate action is required.” Lazlow dictates while scratching the back of his neck. “Personally, I think you’d be best off just letting things be for now and let the King do as he pleases.”

    “But then I won’t make any progress. I’ve already tried other avenues, but everything seems to be locked behind the Emperor’s wall of obfuscation.” I argue.

    “No, no, you don’t get it.” Lazlow rebuts, shaking his head. “It’s true that you won’t be able to answer any of your questions as things are. But the real question is: do you need to know the answers to those questions immediately?”

    “Huh? W-well…” I begin to think.

    The most vital questions on my mind right now are what exactly caused the divergence into Lostbelt History and why the Emperor is controlling the flow of information the way he is. I’d say they’re both rather key subjects. But whether or not they’re absolutely urgent…

    “I guess not?” I reluctantly admit.

    “Exactly. So maybe you can just relax a bit for now.” Lazlow nods. “I’m not saying that they aren’t important, but you’re not gonna find the answers without some risky moves. You have a big fight coming up soon, right? So is right now the time to be poking your nose in caverns? I think it’d be good to put a hold on the matter until things have settled down for you a bit more.”

    “Still… if I don’t do anything, I won’t learn the truth.” I remark, filled with uncertainty.

    “Well, I’m not sure about that. From what you’ve told me, it seems that the King is probably hiding this stuff for a deep reason. If it’s that important, he won’t reveal it even if you talk to him. Despite that, though, you can’t deny he’s entrusting quite a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, right? That shows that he’s already treating you as an ally. Based on that, I think that, once the time is right, he’ll probably reveal the truth to you.” Lazlow deduces.

    “Hmmm…” I continue to contemplate, still unsure about the matter.

    In summary, what Lazlow is saying to do is to do nothing. Rather than making drastic actions that strains the relationship, I should treasure what we have now and work with that. It’s a very passive method that suits Lazlow’s lackadaisical nature, but I can’t sure it’s without logic.

    “… just to be sure, what about everyone else? Do you have any other thoughts?” I decided to ask the other Crypters.

    “Well, personally, I can’t say I quite agree with Lazlow’s perspective.” Wilhelm chimes in. “Information is the most valuable resource. I believe that it would be beneficial to obtain that information at all costs and ignore anyone trying to stop you.”

    “It’s obvious. You just gotta go head on. If you show the King your earnest spirit, he’ll definitely see the light!” Garou shouts.

    “I agree with Garou. I think it’d be good to just talk with him first. Even if it doesn’t end with the result you want, talking to him might reveal why he’s keeping things under wraps and it’ll demonstrate how much you care.” Bianca affirms.

    “… wait and see.” Christoph mutters.

    So basically… Wilhelm thinks I should go behind the Emperor’s back to learn the truth, Garou and Bianca think I should talk to the Emperor, and Lazlow and Christoph think I should hold off for now.

    “Well, I’ll think about it. Thanks for the advice.” I sigh.

    I don’t feel like I’ve gotten a clear, definitive answer, but I guess hearing everyone else’s opinions did make the decision pretty transparent. I guess I’ll have to decisively pick one option later.

    “Okie dokie, smokie pokie, does anyone else have any other concerns they’d like to discuss? If not, shall we move onto the main event for today?” Lazlow asks to an immediate chorus of headshakes. “All right, main event it is. Wilhelm?”

    “Right. Now then, let us move onto our main topic of discussion. Please direct your attention to the following map.” Wilhelm says before pushing a few buttons.

    With a flourish, a holographic chart shows up on our displays.

    Holographic Map

    “This is…”

    “Indeed. It is a map of the United Kingdom and the Lostbelt territories for both Skye and Fairyland.” Wilhelm affirms.

    On the holograph, the two Lostbelts could be seen right next to each other. Over the course of the past two months, both of them had grown considerably. Likewise, the distance between the two had shrunk proportionally. Which means…

    “Based on the current speed of expansion, it is projected that the two Lostbelts should intersect in approximately 1 month from now, just after the Fantasy Trees complete germination. Once that happens, the true battle begins.” Wilhelm coolly announces.

    Immediately, all eyes fall on two people in particular: the combatants of this upcoming battle, Garou Zelus and Bianca Chrome.

    “Yosha! It’s finally time! I’ve been waiting for this.” Garou exclaims, his eyes burning with vigor. “So, my first opponent is Bianca, huh? Fine by me! No matter who the opponent is, I won’t lose!”

    “Ahh, I guess this was bound to happen sooner or later. I wanted to take it easy a little longer, but it can’t be helped.” Bianca laughs in a light-hearted manner. “Well, I don’t feel like losing either, so I suppose I’ll give it my all. Let’s both do our best, Garou.”

    Though the actual people in question seem to be taking things rather lightly, I find myself gulping at the thought.

    Once the two Lostbelts collide, only one can remain standing. The one that loses is eaten by the other as nourishment for further growth and becomes erased for all eternity. The land, the cities, the people, the very world itself is wiped out like it was nothing more than a cardboard castle. Centuries of history and existence are erased with a snap of a finger.

    Those are the true stakes of this competition: a literal war between worlds where only can be left standing.

    It… scares me a little.

    But however, I feel doesn’t change the inevitable. There can only be one winner and six losers, and the very first battle to decide a loser is right on the horizon.

    Garou vs Bianca.

    Skye vs Fairyland.

    Once those two meet and fight, the outcome, however horrifying, will be clear. Whatever it is, one world will be gone afterwards.

    “So anyways, that’s what’s coming up soon, so look forward to it.” Lazlow yawns, as if bored with the topic. “The duel is between Garou and Bianca, so make sure you guys don’t interfere. Whoever wins or loses, let’s not take sides or anything so there aren’t any hard feelings. As for the two of you, do your best to prepare in the upcoming month so that you don’t have any regrets. Don’t forget how much is on your shoulders and give it everything you got.”

    “Okay~”

    “All right!”

    With a hum and a yell, the two fighters cheer, their enthusiasm meter charged to MAX.

    And with that, we begin to wrap up the rest of the meeting before signing off one-by-one.

    Just as I’m about to log off too, I’m suddenly stopped.

    “Ah, wait, Ben. One more thing.” Bianca abruptly calls out.

    “H-huh? What is it?” I wonder, a little taken aback.

    “Well, I was thinking… do you think you’ll have a little spare time this month?” She asks cheerfully, while twirling her hair with her finger. “If you’d like, I’d be happy if you came to visit me sometime. You’ve never been to my Lostbelt yet, right? I think you’d like it.”

    “Oh, well… I dunno. I’m pretty busy too.” I answer honestly. This month is pretty important for me too, so I can’t say how my schedule will turn out.

    “Hey, hey, there.” Lazlow suddenly chimes in with a scolding tone. “What’d I say about interference? No bringing other Masters to your side, Bianca.”

    “Boo. It’s not like I’m getting him to help me. I just thought it’d be nice to have him visit.” Bianca explains. “I don’t plan to lose or anything, but I can’t deny the possibility. And if so, I thought it’d be a shame if more people didn’t get to experience and remember this beautiful world. So, I thought it’d be nice if Ben could enjoy it too.”

    Ah, so that’s her reason. I guess Bianca’s the sentimental type, huh. Well, it’s not like I can’t understand why she’d feel that way.

    It’s like if there was a really cool store near your house that went out of business and closed. It would be pretty lonely if you were the only person who remembered that it existed. But if your friend remembers too, you could at least reminisce about it together.

    That must be how Bianca is feeling.

    “Yeah, yeah, so basically, it’s along the lines of wanting to bring your boyfriend home to introduce him to your parents, right? Freaking explode, your normies.” Lazlow groans.

    Oi, is that the only thing in that empty head of yours?

    “Anyways, that’s how it is, so please think about it, Ben. I’ll be waiting for you.” Bianca beams before signing off.

    Well then, it seems like I’ve been given an invitation to visit Fairyland. I guess, if I have a day off, I might consider it.

    But with that matter settled, the Second Monthly Crypter Assembly finally comes to a close.

    Flag Status Change!
    Invitation to visit Fairyland obtained



    “Auuughhh…” I sigh heavily as I turn off the communication device.

    Though it wasn’t a long meeting, I feel exhausted and collapse onto my bed. There are so many thoughts flowing through my mind that I don’t even know what to think about.

    The battle between Skye and Fairyland… there’s only one month left before it happens. I wonder who’ll win? I honestly can’t imagine either Garou or Bianca losing to anyone, but there can only be one winner. So who do I think will win? Who do I want to win?

    No, no, it doesn’t matter who I want to win. That won’t change anything. Besides, it’s not like I have any preference or anything.

    What’s really important is the reality that only one Lostbelt can stand on top at the very end. The first battle may be in one month, but who knows when the next one will be. It may very well be me who’s next up to bat.

    In order to sustain this Lostbelt, I need to defeat all the other Crypters and their Lostbelts… otherwise, this entire world and all it’s people will disappear, including… her.

    “… I won’t lose.”

    Before I know it, I’m already clenching my fist. I don’t even want to entertain the possibility of defeat. I need to win. I will win!

    So I don’t have any time to take it easy. Every day counts. I need to do everything I can to succeed.

    And the first step to that is the battle with the demon army.

    “Yosh! Let’s do this!”

    Pumping my fist, I strengthen my resolve and look towards the distant future.

    Choice!
    Your preparations for the battle against the Demon Army continue. After meeting with the other Crypters, your resolve has strengthened. What will you do next?

    1. Go on a date with Yingying
    2. Get relationship advice from Assassin
    3. Get marriage advice from Berserker
    4. Discuss battle strategies with Rider
    5. Get battle training from Alisha
    6. Acquaint yourself with Starkad
    7. Ask Emperor Yao about this world’s mysteries


  13. #353
    屍鬼 Ghoul
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    1. Let's get this date out of the way, and after that, we can take care of battle matters. I'd love to get advice first, but we don't know how many choices we have left before the battle.

  14. #354

  15. #355
    You Are Going to Brazil Wyvern's Avatar
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    Either 2. or 3. are fine with me. I feel like we need some advice before we go on that date. We might not have enough choices left, but that's a risk I feel we must be willing to take.

  16. #356

  17. #357
    So Many Ideas, So Little Time SleepMode's Avatar
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    The Act of dozing off in the afternoon is a luxury indeed.
    Coffee would be nice, though.

    [Collection of my Servant Sheets]
    Now Revamped!

  18. #358
    後継者 Successor zikari8's Avatar
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    Year: 2018

    Location: Royal Quarters, Pinyang City

    “Ahhhh, I’m finally out…”

    Scratching my head with one arm, I stumble up the stairs on my lonesome towards the royal quarters I now call home.

    The day after the Crypter Meeting, I was finally discharged from the hospital and subsequently bid a temporary farewell to my roommate, Saber. Due to her far more severe injuries, she was scheduled to stay in recovery for a bit longer. That said, it wasn’t like I was fully healed either; I could feel my arm now, but it was still in a cast. Doctor says I’ll need to wear it for another week. Hooray!

    Well, it’s not like it’s not news for celebration. Being able to walk around and do stuff is way better than sitting in bed all day, especially with all the stuff I’ve got on my plate now.

    “I’m back.” I call out as I open the door to home. Almost immediately, a flurry of footsteps come to greet me.

    “Welcome back, Master.” Assassin beams as she steps out to welcome me. “I’m glad to see you back on your feet.”

    “Thanks. I was getting tired of the hospital life too.” I smile in response and step into the apartment at last.

    “Oh, let me get that for you.” Assassin swiftly offers, reaching for the bag in my good hand. It had the books Yingying brought for me, so I naturally had to bring them back.

    “It’s fine. They’re not that heavy.”

    “No, no. The injured shouldn’t be carrying things around. Here, I’ll put it the study, so why don’t you take a seat? I’ll bring out some tea.”

    “Mnnn… well, I guess.”

    Both stubborn and generous, Assassin leads me inside and takes care of everything while I lazily plop down in the tearoom. Honestly, with that much hospitality power, doesn’t it make me look like the guest? Who here is supposed to be the head of this household dammit?

    “Hm? Is it just you? Where’s everyone else?” I ask, noticing the vacant premises. The only one who came out to greet me was Assassin.

    “Oh, they’re not here at the moment.” Assassin answers from the kitchen. “Yingying went out and Alisha had business.”

    By business, I guess she means what Alisha and I discussed the other day: locating Lancer’s hidden base. In that case, she might not come back till dinnertime. Meanwhile, Yingying’s out and Saber’s in the hospital, so it really is just me and Assassin.

    Huh, it’s a little weird for it to just be the two of us. With so many residents now, the quarters have recently felt filled and lively at all times; it’s rather rare for it to be so quiet. Though, now that I think about it, it was just the two of us when we first started out.

    In the beginning, it was just me and Assassin alone in this apartment too big for us. Since then, we’ve gone through so much and collected so much allies that I’m feeling a little nostalgic about that earlier time…

    “Here’s your tea, Master.” Assassin comes over and plops the tea in front of me while I’m distracted with nostalgic thoughts.

    “Ah, thanks a lot… really, thank you very much…” I reply, brimming with sentiment.

    “Ara? It’s just some tea. You don’t need to thank me that much silly, hehe.” She giggles, having no clue what was going through my head. Well, it doesn’t matter, as long as I got to say it.

    Afterwards, Assassin and I end up just sitting for a bit and enjoying some tea on her insistence that I should take it easy after I just got discharged. We chat about meaningless matters while time passes by and, before I know it, I’m already on my third cup.

    It sure does feel like it’s been a long time since the two of us have had the opportunity to just talk one-on-one like this. Actually, now that I think about it, since it’s just us two, perhaps I could talk to her about something a little embarrassing? There’s been something on my mind lately, and I could really use Assassin’s advice on it… but I’d feel way to embarrassed to mention it in front of anyone else.

    “Umm… actually, Assassin, there was something I wanted to ask you about…” I mention meekly, suddenly feeling anxious about the whole thing.

    “Hm~?” Assassin suddenly smirks, perhaps sensing my embarrassment. “What is it, Master? Something naughty?”

    “N-n-no! It’s just… well…” I deny vehemently, before settling into a shy stupor. “I was wondering… how do you know if you’re in love with someone?”

    “Huh? L-love?” Assassin gasps, her eyes widening rapidly.

    “Y-yeah… that.” I nervously nod.

    Gosh, I feel so embarrassed. I quickly lower my head and stare shamefully into my teacup. I bet my cheeks must be burning red right now. With such a silly sight, I wouldn’t blame her if Assassin started laughing.

    Yet, to my surprise, she instead brings her fan to her mouth and starts crying.

    “It’s finally happened. Master has finally fallen in love. I’m so proud. I always knew this day would come.” She weeps tears of joy.

    “O-oi, I never said that. I-I was just asking out of c-curiosity.” I hastily correct her. “This is just hypothetical, okay? Completely hypothetical. So hypothetical, it’s practically in imaginary space.”

    “Sure, sure, whatever you say, Master.” Assassin whistles, quickly turning off the crocodile tears in exchange for a smug grin. “So? What is this completely hypothetical concern of yours?”

    “Like I said… I just want to know how does one figure out whether or not they are in love with someone.” I thoroughly lay out. “That is to say, at exactly what point does a person’s feelings towards another person cross the line and become love? By what metric is such a thing measured? That’s what I want to know in as much detail as possible.”

    Naturally, I have zero experience when it comes to stuff like this nor have, I ever had reason to think about this kind of stuff. There was that one poor girl I liked and killed back in the day, but I can’t really call that sort of thing love. So, as far as I know, I’ve never ever fallen in love before.

    “Ah, I see.” Assassin nods, but with a now worried look. “That is indeed quite the question.”

    “Eh? Do you not know?” I ask, surprised. I would’ve thought that Assassin would be an expert in this kind of thing.

    “Well, how should I put it? It’s not that I don’t know, but rather that there isn’t really an answer. I believe that this sort of thing is rather case-by-case, dependent on the person.”

    “Is that how it works?” I wonder. “Well, in that case, what about you? You were married too, right? So when and how exactly did you fall in love with him? Please tell me the details for reference.”

    “Ahahaha, I’d love to, but I never did, so I can’t.” Assassin laughs.

    I’m rather surprised. She never did? So she didn’t love her husband?

    “Huh? T-then, why did you marry him?” I ask.

    “Hmmm… if I had to put it simply, I’d say… for material benefit.” Assassin answers without any doubts. “He had a high status and was bound to make the big bucks, so I agreed to marry him.”

    “Uwwaaah, I had no idea.” I gape in shock. “W-well, what about him? Was he in love with you?”

    “I wonder. I’m not really sure myself.” Assassin admits with a pensive expression. “We both said I love you multiple times in bed, but I’m not sure if those feelings for me were real. At the very least, I know I didn’t really mean it when I said it.”

    “… did you like him?” I question.

    “Absolutely. He was a wonderful person. I held him in very high esteem, and we got along very well. I simply didn’t love him as a woman, that’s all.” She answers with a beaming smile. Despite their loveless marriage, it seems she really had nothing but positive feelings for her husband and was happy to speak well of him.

    So then, does that mean Assassin’s also never fallen in love either? How surprising… I don’t even know how to feel about it. There wasn’t a hint of sadness in her voice as she talked about her marriage, so I guess there wasn’t anything she regretted or desired further, but still…

    “So? What brought this line of questioning on, Master?” Assassin abruptly asks.

    “Wh-what? N-nothing at all. Just a thought.” I hurriedly deny anything.

    “Oh, come on~ Do you really expect me to believe that my anti-romantic, super virgin Master would just ask that kind of question whimsically?” Assassin presses with a frightening smile. “Or could it be that you’ve actually fallen in love with someone after all? Don’t worry, you can tell me who it is.”

    “N-no, it’s just that…”

    I pause for a moment, wondering whether I should really say anything. But after some thought, I decide that it’s okay to tell Assassin.

    “… the other day, Saber confessed to me.” I reluctantly admit.

    “Ara. So that finally happened.” Assassin gasps.

    “Y-yeah. It was just before the fight with Demonic Assassin. She… told me that she was in love with me.” I recount, my cheeks turning red with each word.

    “What happened? Did you two end up—?”

    “No! Of course not.” I interject with a firm denial. “I… I told her I didn’t see her the same way. I tried to let her down as gently as I could…”

    “I see. Well, that’s what I expected would happen.” Assassin sagely nods.

    “Well, anyways, that’s why this stuff has been on my mind lately, I guess.” I explain, still flustered. “What even is love? Why do people fall in love? I’ve started to ponder such questions.”

    And of course, how could someone fall in love with someone like me? Even when counting Saber’s skill, I have a hard time accepting and understanding it…

    “I’m sorry. Even though you relied on me, I wasn’t able to give you a good answer.” Assassin apologizes.

    “Ah, no, that’s okay. It’s not a big deal. And honestly, just talking about it a bit makes me feel a bit better already.” I tell her.

    “Well, in that case… would it be okay if I gave you my personal thoughts on the matter?” Assassin suggests.

    “Oh, of course. I’d love to hear it.” I eagerly accept.

    Assassin’s personal thoughts… even if it’s not an authoritative answer or anything, someone with as much experience and wisdom as Assassin is bound to have one or two things interesting to say. With high expectations, I listen to her attentively.

    “This is just my observation, but if I had to put it into words… I think that love is just something you fall into, rather than a ladder you climb. It’s not that you figure out whether you’re in love or not depending on how you feel, but that you realize that you’re in love because of how you feel.” Assassin says with a warm smile. “To put it simply, love is when your feelings for someone become so strong that you can no longer deny the fact that you’re in love.”

    “Huh. That’s a little tautological, but… I think I kind of get it.” I nod.

    So basically, it’s a matter of acceptance. Being in love means being able to accept the fact that you’re in love. An affection that you can confidently deny isn’t love, but merely attachment. Because true love is something that moves you on an unconscious level so that, even if the conscious denies it, it still has its hold on your heart. That is Assassin’s philosophy.

    “I understand. I’ll try to keep that in mind. Thanks, Assassin.” I respond earnestly.

    “You’re welcome, Master. It makes me happy when you rely on me like this.” Assassin beams.

    That’s right. Though I have no end of complaints about her, there’s no question that she is someone I can rely on. Like now, just talking to her makes me feel a lot better about things. She may be powerless, but she isn’t useless. That is the Servant that answered my summons.

    Wise-up! Assassin's Status
    Affection Up!
    You understand Assassin better.
    You feel comfortable talking to Assassin about more private matters.
    “Well, then, now that that’s settled, perhaps we should consult someone more knowledgable?” Assassin suddenly suggests.

    What is she suddenly talking about? Before I can ask, she claps her hands together with enough volume to echo through the room.

    “All right. You can stop hiding now. Come out her already.” Assassin calls out.

    “Yes, Mistress! I’m here!!” Berserker exclaims as he jumps out of the kitchen trash can.



    “Pffffffttttt.” I immediately spit out all of my tea at the sight of the gaudy Servant climbing out of the only meter high trash can. “Wh-where did you come from? No, how long have you been there!?”

    “Haaah, I had the feeling that someone was snooping around.” Assassin sighs. “Sorry, Master. He seems to have recently gotten into the habit of abusing spirit form to hide in strange places.”

    Assassin’s eyes look lifeless as she speaks of him. Ah, it must be tough on her having to watch over the literally insane idiot 24/7. She has my deepest condolences.

    “Yahoo! What were you guys talking about? I couldn’t actually hear with all that trash covering my ears, but it looked spicy.”

    “Oi, what the hell do you think you’re doing? That was a private conversation.” I scold him, hoping to god he didn’t actually hear any of that.

    “Hehehe, don’t underestimate me, Master. Voyeurism is but one of my 108 special kinks.” Berserker boldly boasts. Before he gets a second laugh, though, Assassin glares at him.

    “Eavesdropping is bad. Stop it.” She commands.

    “Yes, Ma’am! I sincerely apologize for my inappropriate actions. I shall never abuse my ability to dematerialize ever again!” Berserker declares with a 90-degree bow.

    Wow, he really is whipped. Or rather, he’s personally crafted his own leash and is wagging his tail for the chance that his mistress may pull it. Could he be misbehaving on purpose so he’ll get reprimanded by Assassin?

    “Anyways, since you’re here, Berserker, we’d like your expertise on the matter. Master’s having concerns about his relationships with the opposite sex. Please share your counsel with him.” Assassin decrees.

    “H-hey, Assassin!” I chime in, completely flustered.

    It was already tough just confiding in her, so I don’t feel so good about consulting someone else. And of all people, it had to be this mega-pervert.

    “Don’t worry, Master. He may look and act like this, but this is one of the few matters he’s serious about.” Assassin assures me. “I know you’re embarrassed, but I believe that this will help you a lot. His insight should be very useful. Plus, if you’re worried about him telling anyone else, I’ll personally promise to keep his lips sealed very tightly.

    “Ohohoho, that sounds nice.” Berserker comments with a slack-jawed grin.

    “Eugh.” I recoil in disgust, but still stand my ground. “Well, I suppose his ability is real at the very least. What were you again? God of Degenerates?”

    “God of Marriage actually. At your beck and call.” Berserker bows humbly, before displaying a completely serious face. “When it comes to human marital affairs, I shall offer you my utmost serious assessment and advice, so please feel free to ask me anything.”

    Oh, geez, I really can’t get used to the switch between his maniac and mature sides. The whiplash is enough to send me back to the hospital again.

    “Before we can address anything, we’d need to know what we’re working with.” Assassin begins pensively. “What do you think, Berserker? You’ve been observing Master and those around him for a bit. What do you think of his relationships?”

    “Hmm, well if I were to put it in numbers, it would be something like this.” Berserker states, before pulling out a pen and paper.

    Quickly but carefully, he begins graphing something out and creates a very professional looking chart in a minute. What surprises me more, though, are the contents.

    “What the hell is this?”

    Berserker's Graph
    What Berserker drew out of nowhere seemed to be a graph with two axes representing “Affection” and “Trust”. And in the graph, several people were placed in specific locations. There was only one way to interpret it, but I didn’t want to admit it. Unfortunately, my denial means nothing to the original creator.

    “It’s a chart of Master’s Affection and Trust levels towards different members of the opposite sex.” Berserker explains.

    “Oho, how very interesting.” Assassin seems impressed as she examines the graph very intently.

    “H-h-hold on, what are you talking about? How the hell could you know such things? Th-this is just your opinion, right? So it’s not actually true or anything—” I argue while also stumbling over my own words in a flustered panic.

    “Not at all, Master. These values are almost certainly correct to an insignificant margin of error. I can ascertain it.” Berserker proudly claims.

    “Oi, don’t try and tell me that you can know that much based on just your observations. No matter how knowledgeable you are, that’s impossible.” I retort.

    “Indeed. But these aren’t just my observations. It’s more like… intuition. Consider it part of my Divine Authority. I just know these things automatically.” Berserker states.

    Ugh, dammit. If he goes that far, I can’t exactly argue with a literal god about this.

    “Well, then, if this graph is accurate, then it seems there are some interesting things.” Assassin remarks with a smile.

    I reluctantly start to look at it for real. Each and every placement I see hits my heart like a bullseye arrow. But the worst part is the fact that I can’t really deny any of them.

    “Hmm. The Princess’s trust score seems relatively low. That’s worth noting.” Berserker observes.

    Does that mean I don’t trust Yingying enough? Well, I guess I kind of understand that.

    It’s not that I distrust her, but there’s definitely things I can’t talk to her about, specifically any ‘business’ related matters. When I do talk to Yingying, I feel really comfortable, but there are things I deliberately choose to not talk to her about. Thus, there’s a wall between us. Compared to that, I was able to confess my past to Saber and I just confided something embarrassing to Assassin… would I be able to do that kind of thing with Yingying?

    “Also, it seems that you really do dislike the blond girl, huh, Master.” Berserker points out Alisha’s near-zero affection score.

    “Yes. Yes, I do.” I confirm coldly. Honestly, I’m surprised it wasn’t negative.

    “Hehe, I knew you had a good taste after all, Master. It has to be black hair and big boobs after all, right?” Berserker chuckles as he places a friendly hand on my shoulder and shines a smile of camaraderie at me.

    “That’s not the reason, pervert. Don’t lump me in with you!” I push him off me.

    For the record, I shall neither confirm nor deny my personal preferences here.

    “Ara. What’s this, Master? In terms of overall score, aren’t I actually the highest? Does this mean that I’m the girl that you like the most?” Assassin remarks excitedly.

    “Th-that doesn’t mean anything at all. Don’t get conceited, idiot. It’s just some numbers, okay? There’s numerous ways to interpret them.” I deny, deny, and deny like my life depends on it.

    “Ara, ara, you sure are flustered. Did I hit the mark after all?” She slyly smirks. “Well, don’t worry about it. I already understand how you feel.”

    “Tch. I sometimes wonder if you really do… for better or worse.” I grimace.

    “That said, this chart does confirm that the person you have the most affection for is Yingying, after all. That’s reassuring.” Assassin nods happily.

    “Uhh, w-well… I guess…” I mumble, unable to deny something so clear.

    Ah, geez, this cursed graph is so stupidly shameful. It’s like my own heart has been opened bare for all to see. This aint a public surgery room, dammit! At the very least, I need to make sure no one else ever sees this—

    “I’m home.”

    “HUWAAAAAAGHHHH!!!”

    I practically jump out of my pants as a bubbly voice abruptly enters the apartment. I immediately recognize the owner and turn around to greet her with a terrified expression.

    “Uwah. Wh-what’s wrong? Did something happen, dear?” Yingying asks as she steps inside.

    “N-n-n-n-nothing. Nothing at all. I was just surprised when you suddenly came back.” I desperately answer.

    “Is that so. Well, I’m glad that you’re home. It was lonely while you were in the hospital.” Yingying says with an innocent smile. “Oh, what’s everyone doing in the tea room?”

    “N-not much. Just some business. Don’t worry about it.” I reply, while panickily grapping the chart from the others and hiding it behind my back. No matter what, I need to make sure Yingying doesn’t see this.

    “Oh, those groceries must be heavy. Let me help you with those, sweetie. We can also get started on lunch.” Assassin suggests, smoothly intercepting Yingying before she gets too close and redirecting her towards the kitchen.

    Nice one, Assassin! I’ll praise you later.

    “Oh, look at the time. It’s almost rush hour at the woman’s bathhouse. Better get going.” Berserker excuses himself with some poor acting and dematerializes.

    There’s nothing to praise about him, but at least the biggest wild card was able to read the room and leave before he did something stupid.

    At last, I’m finally able to breath a sigh of relief as Yingying heads to the kitchen. All right, I need to get rid of this cursed chart before someone else sees it. Should I throw it in the trash? No, but then someone might find it and pull it out due to curiosity. Burn it? Most effective, but too conspicuous. No choice then, time for the old eating paper tactic.

    Just as I plan to execute my plan, though—

    “Ah, dear.” Yingying abruptly doubles back and approaches me from my blind spot. Before I know it, she’s right up close to my face.

    “Wh-what is it?” I croak out a response in between flinches. Shit, did she see the paper in my hands?

    “I just noticed, but you look rather pale. And you’re sweating.” She points out innocently. “You aren’t still sick, are you? Maybe you should stay in the hospital for another day…”

    “Oh. N-no, I’m fine.” I answer, relieved. “Um, sorry for worrying you. I just drank some pretty hot tea earlier. I’m perfectly healthy.”

    “Ahh, that’s good. Then please continue taking care of yourself, dear. I want nothing more than your well-being.” Yingying earnestly declares with a smile warm enough to melt icebergs.

    “…r-right.” I barely manage to reply, before Yingying turns back towards the kitchen.

    Only after she’s gone do I realize how fast my heart was beating. My held breath is released like an explosion of tension. My hand is gripping the paper tightly and soiling it with sweat. Geez, I don’t even know what to think.

    It must be because we were talking about embarrassing things that I’m suddenly feeling all flustered. My mind’s in a gutter right now, so I can’t help but be super sensitive when Yingying gets so close to me. It’s not my fault if I’m drawn by her eyes or thinking she smells nice today or happy that she’s worried about me. Yup, that’s all it is.

    Or maybe I really do…

    Nah, let’s not finish that thought. Nothing good will come from realizing it.

    Let’s just file this whole episode away and move on. There’s a lot of work left to do.

    Choice!
    You’ve consulted Assassin about the matter of love and relationships and obtained some personal observations on the meaning of live and some divine insight on your bonds with certain members of the opposite sex. Preparations for the big battle continue. What will you do next?

    1. Go on a date with Yingying
    2. Get marriage advice from Berserker
    3. Discuss battle strategies with Rider
    4. Get battle training from Alisha
    5. Acquaint yourself with Starkad
    6. Ask Emperor Yao about this world’s mysteries


  19. #359
    You know what is actually low and is still a priority? 3.

  20. #360
    While I would agree, what if we choose that option and that’s the last option we get? We would jeopardize our current standing with the Emperor and likely lose most of what we have at the moment. After much deliberation, it is honestly best we save that part for last, so I choose 1
    Last edited by Alax1991; December 21st, 2020 at 11:52 AM.

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