Man I've been sick and depressed for a lil while so I'm sorry I haven't been writing as much. Thanks for all the kind words about 'taking my time' with this and I will keep trying to get something out in speedy returns. Summer is winding down and yet the weather hasn't gotten to hot, but get in that pool and enjoy it while you can!
Chapter – 24
Shinji's head snapped to the side as a hard slap roused him from his sleep. The pain faded quickly yet the surprise and shock remained. It was dark already, when had he fallen asleep? Sitting up, his hands gripping at the silk sheets he had been laying on, he saw a woman wearing the garb of Risty's subordinates. "W-what's going on?" his heart was already beating fast. The woman did not look happy, a firm and disproving expression firmly etched in her face.
"Get up and get moving. The church is on its way for you, and those loyal to the queen are going to hand you over to them," the woman said flatly. Tossing his staff to him, the woman stopped to listen to something she heard. Yanking Shinji off the bed harshly she dragged him to the door. Whispering as she creaked the door open, "You were given a powerful alcohol with your meal. Lady Risty is quite taken with you, I don't see why, so she wanted you to stay."
Fixing his clothing, pulling his hood up, Shinji stopped and gasped audibly. "What, Risty-san had me drugged? But why? I would stay and talk to her, she's my friend. And I have to hear more about where Alleyne-sama and the others are," he tried peeking through he door too. The woman pushed him back roughly and towered over him glaring. Something was happening around him, yet he was so lost to it! Why would Risty do anything like this, she hadn't been the type to act like this before. Taking a step away from the woman, clutching his staff, "Please tell me what is going on, please."
Shutting the door, the woman leaned back against it and dipped her head. For a moment the frustration left her and she nodded, "Fine, but it'll have to be quick." Pulling out her daggers, she played with them to alleviate her own fears. She tensed up as some yelling in the hall outside the door followed by running past it. "Lady Risty lost to Leina in the semi-finals. During the fight something happened between the queen and Risty. It's put a schism in Fang. Some are loyal to the queen and others Lady Risty. I'm loyal to Risty, she's treated me better than anybody I've ever known. As such I'm keeping you alive as that's what she wants," she was straight and to the point.
"T-thank you ma'am. I didn't know things could get so messed up so fast," Shinji's mind boggled. Internal politics and conflicting loyalties, no place was free from such things he surmised. But what did that mean for Risty then? "Will Risty-san be safe if she's not in the queen's employ anymore? If-if the church is after me, will she get in trouble for harboring me?" he couldn't face that! He had to leave fast, this whole inquisition force after him could just ruin things for all his friends. If they thought he corrupted them, would the church kill or imprison them?
Dropping her dagger, she plucked it out of free-fall in a show of dexterity. "You…care about Lady Risty's plight?" she asked aloud then shook her head. "Doesn't matter, things are bad. I'll run distraction for you with some of the others loyal to Lady Risty. You'll find your other friends in the prison. With the final due any moment now you should find it easy to sneak in and get them out. But you better leave the city with them. If you get caught, we can't help you. For what it is worth too, Lady Risty hasn't returned from the last fight. She was last seen being taken by Vance," the woman opened the door and sheathed her blade.
"She's with Leina-chan," Shinji felt a rush of relief. If Leina had Risty, she was safe, both of them. But he had missed the fight, was Leina hurt what about Risty? Right now that didn't matter, getting his friends and escaping was the imperative. After that he could get to Leina and see about helping her out, and maybe they could plan something about the church. If Leina won the final and became queen, maybe she could put a stop to that little death march coming for him. "Miss, what is you name?" he had to know the name of his current protector.
The bronze skinned woman with short cropped blond hair and green eyes just scowled. "You don't need to know that. You and I aren't friends. I'm doing this for Lady Risty not you. She loves you, despite all the other men and women that she could have she loves you," something in how she said it spoke quite tellingly. Woman said Risty's name with such reverence and care, about the only thing she did. Throwing the door open, she strode out and cast one last look at the boy, "Treat her well as she deserves." And like that she walked off to distract as she claimed to.
Swallowing the bitter pill of depression down, it wasn't time for being in a funk he could hate himself later. "That woman loves Risty-san," and yet Risty loved him. Damn his relationship situation was fucked up, loving and being loved by so many. But again, he accepted his life and those in it, they'd work something out later. If there was a later. Getting caught would free up a lot of his problems by ending his life. Hunching over, Shinji stole out into the hall way, nobody was around, "I won't disappoint them. They need me."
If Alleyne, Nowa, Menace, and Tiina were really in the jail, some lie of Risty's, he had to get them out. Shizuka might have already done something, but if he didn't confirm it for himself and they were still jailed…he'd let the church just take him. Making his way downward whenever the opportunity arrived, Shinji found himself diving into small rooms and hallways as the rare patrol came by. Just like the woman said though, most were talking candidly about the final bout. Nobody seemed to think Leina had a chance, Shinji knew she'd win though.
Finding a guard yawning outside a heavy metal enforced door, Shinji hoped he finally found the entrance to the prison. Noticing the big key ring hanging on the guy's belt, Shinji took a deep breath. "Just remember what Alleyne-sama taught me. No unnecessary movements, don't overstress the attack, use just the right amount of power. I can do this," he whispered. Twirling into the corridor, the man saw him and snapped to attention, "Sorry about this!" Before the man could call out alarm, Shinji slammed the head of his staff into the man's gut twice. The guard grunted, spat a big ball of sick, and fell to the ground.
"You'll be fine, but I really need to get in there," Shinji saw the man still breathing. Spending a moment to heal him, just in case he caused some internal injuries, he plucked the key ring off of the man's belt. If this wasn't the prison, Shinji didn't know what to do next. Time was of the essence, and wasting it was tantamount to suicide. Fumbling with the keys, finding one that didn't match the others, he slid it into the lock and opened it. When the lock clicked, Shinji was shocked when the door burst open, sending him to the ground, and twin explosions of pain erupted in his stomach, curved blades worked into his body and a bandage went over his mouth to keep him from screaming in pain.
Gasping loudly, Echidna yanked her blades out of Shinji's body quickly, the blood plinked on the ground. "Puppy, what are you doing here? Menace let him go," she let her weapons drop to the ground as she helped pull Shinji to a seated position. Laughing a little unevenly, she admired her deadly handiwork. Anybody else would have been dead in moments, thankfully she hadn't went a decapitation. "You ruined our little escape plan, Puppy. We've been waiting for that guard to open the door for the last hour," she pulled him off the ground and into a hug.
Healing his wounds, Shinji was glad the bandage muffled his shriek. Damn did Echidna know how to make a painful wound. He wasn't stupid, knew Echidna wasn't the cleanest of people and had killed before, this was more evidence to it. And in this world, Shinji didn't hold Echidna's past against her, some people just had to be put down, Melona was one of them. Struggling against the binding, Shinji felt himself yanked out of Echidna's grasp and against Menace's warm and exposed skin. Menace's exuberance was palpable as she dry humped against him…not the time for it.
"I knew my vassal would come to my rescue, and so warm against me. Can you feel my heart beating for you my pet?" Menace cooed as she smoothed the poor boy. Finally removing her bandage from his mouth, she held his face to her chest and put her chin atop his head, "Elf, you could have killed him if he wasn't a healer. Nobody hurts my property, nobody."
Bursting out of the prison, Nowa slung over her back and unconscious, Alleyne was frantic. "My husband is here! Beloved, you must see to Nowa now! She's gotten worse since we've been in here. And what were you talking about Menace, who hurt him?" Alleyne used her staff as a perch for Nowa. The normal reserved and stoic elf was beside herself with fret. Laying Nowa at his feet, Alleyne yanked him away from Menace to being over the pale girl.
For a moment Shinji just stared at the panting Nowa. Pale, deathly pale and breathing shallow and painfully, the girl was one step away from the great beyond. "What happened to you all? I was told Risty-san kept you in prison, was trying to find out why. She knocked me out with some spiked juice and I wake up and hear the church is coming," Shinji laid his hands on the his friends. Summoning his powers, Shinji felt them pulse through Nowa. Mending the broken ribs, the punctured lung, removing the fluid, and removing the damages…it was taxing and great. "She must have been hurting so..umph" Shinji found himself on his back again.
"Stupid yet darling man, you had me worried after what Echidna told us," Alleyne let her guard down in a rare display. Peppering Shinji's face with feather light kisses, she ended with a light smack to his face. A snickering Echidna and a pouting Menace pulled the amorous and worried elf off the man. "We met this one on our way out. Somebody has been helping get our gear for the last few hours. Thought it was Echidna but it wasn't. Tiina's songs seduced the inner guards and put them to sleep. But she didn't get a key to the door when she snuck in," Alleyne fired a nasty glare at Echidna.
Shutting the door, Tiina gasped pleasantly at the sight of the last piece of their escape plan. "Oh Lord Shinji you're the one that opened the door? I was growing tired of singing the song of sleep, a sad cost of using it. I should have known it was you that came to my aid again!" she encased the boy in her arms, drenching him instantly. Tittering and hosting a healthy blush, "We were worried about your safety, the wild elf here said the church people are after you, and that the lady that imprisoned us was possessed by a demon."
"Possessed, Risty-san was possessed?" Shinji asked as he gently freed himself from the mermaids embrace. Now wasn't the time for victory celebrations and hugs, they still had to escape the Agents of the Fang and the approaching inquisition. Taking the role as Nowa's carrier, the half-elf was still sleeping but the color had returned to her and she was now murmuring contently, Shinji took Alleyne's idea and used his staff as a ledge for the girl. Following behind the others as the sorted out their weapons, "So what now? How can we get out of here with all those people looking for me?"
Lost in some memory, Echidna stared at the blood on her blades with disdain. Flicking the weapon, forcing most of the fluid off, she flaunted herself before Alleyne. "Well if we can keep the doting wife here from smothering you, or the ex-agent of the swamp witch from screwing you right here and now, we can escape through the queen's trophy room. It was how I got in, no guards, and some sights I think you'll want to see. As for those women and men…we kill them as much as you let us and that's that. About what I did to you though…" for a moment Echidna lost her impish nature.
Shaking his head, Shinji wouldn't let the woman hang in suffering. "It's ok, Echidna-san. You do what you have to do to survive. If they stayed in there, who knows what would have happened," Shinji shuddered to think. Beautiful women held helplessly in with many desperate and lonely men…criminals. If Risty truly was possessed at the time, it would not have ended well for them. "I don't judge you for what you did, what you do. You're…um…did I say to much?" Shinji found Echidna suddenly right in front of his face.
Going in for a deep sensuous kiss, her tongue dancing in Shinji's mouth expertly, Echidna moaned erotically into his mouth. After a few sort tantalizing seconds, "You truly are a marvel Puppy. Payment for this little rescue is all done. I can see what that ex-virgin sees in you. Might have to steal you away. But that's for later, and I won't be the only one, so I hope you've got the stamina for the long line." Signaling for quite, the assassin went off ahead of them.
"She is right, my vassal, we will need to be amply rewarded for our efforts. But for now I wish to get my revenge on those that imprisoned my royal sister and myself," Menace patted Shinji's cheek and headed off after Echidna.
Flanking Shinji on the left, Tiina taking the right, Alleyne was back to her masked self. "I tell you not to take risks and this is what you do, break into the castle to free me. I don't know what to say but 10 points. And I love you all the more for your stupid heroism. Now let us go, the final battle between Aldra and Leina will soon happen, and then we must be away to that Tokyo-3 place of yours before those stupid church people get to us," she had her staff in hand and firm determination radiating from her core.
"I am ready to leave this foul place, Lord Shinji, Lady Menace, and your servants being most of the good I've seen here," Tiina played with her blew wrist guards. They followed close, but not to close to the leading Echidna as the elf slipped past guards and servants. No deaths, just unconscious, guess Shinji was rubbing off on the elf after all. When the got to the biggest and most elaborate door, Echidna and Menace snuck in and out of sight, Tiina opened it for Shinji and Alleyne, and they all stood wide eyed and stunned.
Laying either unconscious or dead on the ground, Echidna had her ass in the air and Menace was springing around the room of amber statues of men, women, and things. "So you finally get here, I was growing tired of waiting, my pet. I had to put that one down fast, to dangerous, but this traitorous bitch I'll split apart! You like fucking things right you dusty bitch? I'll split you in two!" Melona laughed as she pressed her attack.
"Melona, not now…we don't…" Shinji frantically took in the room. People incased in amber crystals. He recognized Cattleya and Lana instantly! A fight now…they didn't have time for it but it couldn't be avoided. This time it would be the last fight with the bitch she died now! Setting Nowa down gently, Shinji nodded to Alleyne and Tiina, it was time to end this!
A gentle smack to the side of her head brought Leina back to the realm of the conscious. "Huh-what?" she grabbed for her sword in her confusion. No demon, armed guard, or other unseemly attacker graced her vision just Risty. She must have dozed off in that damned uncomfortable chair, still felt like if she blinked she'd fall back asleep. Standing up, less she truly succumb, Leina noticed it was dark, night had fallen. Stretching as best she could, grinding her chest against her armor, she pouted, "Guess we should get moving to the arena."
"I'd rather sleep for another day or two, but I won't let you face this last challenge alone," Risty roped a friendly arm around Leina's neck. Leaning just a little against the smaller woman, proof Risty wasn't in top form, the duo shambled out of the inn into the streets. Chasing off a few of the gawkers Risty waggled her mace threateningly, "Look Leina, about what happened during our fight, what I said about Shinji and…"
Holding her hand up for silence, Leina didn't need to hear anymore. "Its fine, Risty, really it is. I know you care for him, seems more care for him than don't. I've accepted that. Would rather people talk to us rather than try and steal him," she did give Risty a dirty look, "as for the other. That wasn't you. But do you know WHAT controlled you?" Leina did want to know that, as that was her true opponent. Whatever entity controlled Risty also alluded to controlling the queen as well. Knowing that Risty loved her husband, well that just gave Leina gloating points over her idol didn't it?
Laughing loudly, then wincing and grabbing at her side, Risty half grimaced and half grinned. "Wow you've matured since I first met you. Gone is the girl that wet herself at Melona's attack, and here stands a woman willing to let her man be with others. Glad as hell to know you Vance," Risty slapped Leina's back. Even while wounded that little love smack sent Leina tumbling forward hopping a step to catch her balance.
"Don't remind me of that!" Leina bemoaned mollified by the tale. Her first foray against something other than bandits hadn't been her crowning moment in life. But she had come a long way from that cocky yet semi-talented fighter. All that remained now was one last fight, then it was her honeymoon in another world. Heading towards the arena though, storm clouds were forming threatening a massive deluge. Win or lose the last battle was coming for her, for all of them. Halting her progressing, Risty bouncing off her shoulder, "Will you come with us to this Tokyo-3 place after its all over?"
Standing at the steps that led up the arena, the smart townsfolk left them alone now, Risty turned away from Leina and cast her eyes up at the thunderheads. "I'd want to, I really do. But I need to see to my orphanage. I don't even know how you'll be able to go Queen Leina Vance," Risty twisted her neck to peek at Leina with one eye. Was that sorrow, regret, or jealousy there? Something was, and it wasn't one of the finer emotions humans were capable of. Kicking at a wayward rock, she continued, "And after all I've done for our current queen, I don't feel right to be with anybody right now. I've a lot to answer for."
"Is-is that you Miss Vance?" a timid voice called out approaching the duo. Fighting through the crowd that had gathered at a respectable distance, one brave or foolish woman broke free and ran to them. Garbed in her homemade battle garb, deep red with the purple shawl, Nyx was panting from her ordeal, "It is you! I saw the last fight and thought…well I've overheard a few things."
Putting a hand on Risty's arm, staying the mighty bandit from chasing off the fearful creature, Leina nodded. "Ah Nyx, Shinji told me he offered you a role at the castle. He's there now, being chased by church people and likely some of the queen's men. Go see if you can help and consider yourself hired," Leina also accepted the secondary signing bonus. Timid girl couldn't hide her emotions nearly as well as she thought she could. Shinji didn't notice, or maybe he just tried not to, but Leina saw it. With a head shack in the castle's direction, she laughed as the girl all but ran off, "That girl…I'll have to punish Elina for what she did to her."
"Elina has a lot to answer for, what she did to that one least of all," Risty oddly touched her stomach with a soft smile. In unison the pair headed back towards the arena in silence. It grew in size and imposition as they approached, a dark idol promising either obscene joys or hellish pains. The last fight against what Nanael said was a fallen angel, what had possessed Risty, would not be a fair fight. Walking past the guards to the fighters quarters, they found Claudette and Elina waiting for them as well as a host of Claudette's private guards. "Got a small army in here. Going to try and staging a coop again?" Risty teased the vigilante Claudette.
With Thunderclap over her shoulder, Claudette rose a single eyebrow in contestation. "Though I am not still in my father's employ it would do you best not speak so lightly of what you nay almost did," Claudette sank Thunderclap into the ground and split stone. In a swift motion, Claudette sidestepped Risty and knelt before Leina. "Word is the church is at the castle gates seeking entrance. My spies inside the keep though say that some infighting is occurring keeping the doors shut. Some of the Fang are loyal still to this one and are sabotaging things to give us all time," Claudette informed the group.
"Then I'm glad I'm here. Maybe I can call out Aldra rather than wait for her to challenge me. Sooner we start the sooner we are done," Leina readied her blade. Oh she was ready for a little break now, ready to be pampered and feed delicacies and drink the finest of wines. Shinji at her side, doing most of the pampering of course, they could forget this mess of intrigue and combat for awhile. Sure the others would be there, just gave Leina time to get to know them better. She was looking forward to her reunion with Tomoe, it was long overdue. "Elina, we will have words after this is over about a great many things, so be ready," Leina pointed her cherished blade at the throat of her younger sister.
Clasping her hands together lovingly, Elina didn't take the motion as a threat but as an invitation. "Whatever you say, Leina! We do have so much to do and say together," the woman gushed before licking the end of one of her gauntlet's claws. About to pounce lovingly or threateningly, both were one and the same for her, Elina found Risty's shield in her face followed by a hand on her collar dragging her. "Don't you touch me you dirty bitch, can't you see this is a moment for sisters?" she spat out like a hellcat.
"Taking this one to the arena now before she can do anymore harm," Risty threw Elina over her shoulder. The girl fought and struggled until Risty gave her behind a good solid spank. Following up the initial smack with two others, Risty grinned feral, "Could get to like that. She needs discipline that only a mother can provide, just like my fresh bandits. You two have your words and I'll hold a space for you Claudette." Waving jovially at the sisters, Risty headed past the guards and to the arena proper. Already the sounds of the growing masses could be heard chanting Leina's name.
Rubbing her exposed shoulder, Leina just watched Risty go and listened to the crowd. Her name, they were chanting for her, expecting great things from her. She never wanted much from her life, knew little of the hardships of the world when she started too. Power, prestige, riches, and authority were banes to her, things she wished to have little of. Now she was an hour away from being crowned queen of the realm, if she won. All she really wanted was a good drink, her man at her side, and the occasional good fight. Let justice be met and faced honestly and without hesitation or fear.
"You're hesitating, what is wrong?" Claudette paced the small stone enclosure of the preparation room. Weapons of all kinds hung on the wall as well as bits and pieces of armor for those that didn't have or broke their old. Whispering a few words to the women that served both Leina and her, Claudette gestured to the door and they left with a salute and words of encouragement. At Leina's side, no longer behind her, "I've sent them to find the angel and aid in securing the castle for our arrival. Now tell me what ails you, you cannot have doubt when going into this match. Aldra will not simple beat you if you lose." The match against the queen was imprisonment to the losers, or worse.
It wasn't the fight she was worried about, but what came after. Leina took a deep breath and turned to Claudette. When the larger woman returned the gesture, Leina took a moment to observe her half-sister. Strange, never before did Leina realize just how beautiful and yet different Claudette appeared. Elina and she did look like sisters, yet Claudette had their father's eyes and that was about it for familiarity. She hardly knew Claudette outside of the stern woman that did so much for so little. Over the past few days they had started to mend that, but it was still such a vast chasm of unknown. What if Claudette didn't want to become queen, Leina had nobody else to give it to that she trusted. Tomoe would never accept it, it would be an affront to her honor.
"Would you, in my place if I win, become the next queen?" Leina just asked flat out. It would be best to know the truth right now, not go into the fight with that fear or concern. If she had to go without Shinji for a few months, Leina would accept it. That odd time displacement Nanael tried to explain just confused Leina. All she knew was time passed slower in Tokyo-3. Seeing the shocked expression, one of the few time Leina saw raw emotion on Claudette's face, Leina had been expecting that. Drawing her blade, and giving it a few practice taps against her shield, "I never wanted to rule, why I left home. You though would make a great ruler. So would you, in my place if I win, become the new queen?"
Bowing to one knee, Claudette took Leina's hand and put it to her forehead. "I would. But that would make my husband king would it not?" releasing Leina's hand, Claudette was back to her feet. A sly smile, condescending or serious, she yanked thunderclap from the ground. "Be best if the people not know that their new queen is married to the heretics the church is hunting," she spat out the church's name.
"I never thought of…he would be king," Leina gushed feeling silly for forgetting. The marriage between Shinji and Claudette had been done as farce. Claudette had been gifted to Shinji to get his allegiance, they just used it for the more emotional reason instead. Her husband king and yet she was not his queen, funny that. "If the queen would not have a king, I'd gladly take the mantle as his handler of your brow," Leina joked as she headed for the doorway. Who was king didn't matter if Leina lost this fight, or if Shinji got captured. No more delays, delays meant nobody got what they wanted. Without looking back she offered one last, "Be ready for anything, win or lose we make a break for the castle after the fight, your highness."
Claudette made a sound between an affirmation and a snort, Leina took it as a compliment and headed out. Once she was through the portcullis the gate slammed shut behind her, no going back now. The stands were packed, they must have been expecting this too, and banners hosting her name were being held high. If she was favored to win or not Leina didn't know, but the people wanted her to win regardless.
The throne was empty though, no Aldra, so Leina strode out to the center of the arena and bellowed a war cry as fiercely as she could. "Queen Aldra! I challenge you! Come out and face me!" Leina's throat hurt from the strain yet it silenced the crowd. Her voice echoed in the stillness, then answering her call the winds picked up and bit and tore at her with tiny pebbles from the arena floor. Already the adrenaline was starting to build. "Watch me Shinji, watch me win this, and then we can finally have some peace," she was ready to be alone with her lover, her husband.
"So the young Vance calls me out does she? Hoping to give your insipid band some time to escape my forces? A shame they won't make it. But like I told you before when you fought my pawn, you'll be with them all to soon," Aldra materialized before Leina out of a summon guardian. Waiting on no ceremony, Aldra rushed with demonic speed and massive cleaver drawn. Leina had just a split second to bring up her shield only to be flung rolling along the ground. Now that Leina was downed, Aldra addressed the crowd, "Your queen defends her title today!"
How was that tiny body so fast and strong! Leina's arm already ached from the single blow and her shield lost one of its tongs! No matter, don't get scared now, focus. Getting back to her feet, she watched the tiny terror skipping back and forth as she approached. Alleyne could see blows without even open eyes, the elf could sense and predict her opponents moves…Leina could do that too. Eyes closed, Leina imagined the best and most savage attack, one for the throat, and ducked. Feeling the wind over her head, she knew she guessed right. In the perfect spot for a kick, Leina remembered Tomoe's warriors kick…and replicated it perfectly.
Sent flying backward from the mighty armored boot, Aldra landed on one knee and skittered back from the blow. "Interesting, you've more talent than expected. Will make the victory all the more savory," Aldra gloated and again charged inward. Pulling her mighty cleaver back for a blow, Aldra played her opponent expertly. When Leina pulled her shield up to block, Aldra demonstrated she could teleport without aid of a guardian, and delivered a sharp kick to the back of Leina's unprotected neck.
Pitching to the side, kicking up dust and dirt as she grinded against the unforgiving floor, Leina saw darkness. Was this it, a quick few blows and she was downed from a sudden and devastating blow? No strength left to get up though, it would be so easy to just…rest. It was hard to breath, the pain was so intense it was almost pleasant! Would anybody fault her for losing here? She beat Risty, got to the final round…a good showing right? Shinji wouldn't judge, who could say she didn't do her best.
"Get up Leina! You're better than this!" Risty's voice cut through the fog of Leina's pain, the mist of submission faded.
She was better than this! She would prove she was the best! Getting back up, using her sword as a prop, Leina saw Aldra hadn't counted her out quite yet. But that smirk, Aldra didn't think Leina had much left to give. Oh she was wrong, midget was going to get a surprise. Pointing her blade into the air, Leina took a chance. Claudette's weapon was enchanted to catch lightning, hadn't Ymir enchanted her sword as well. "Thunder clap strike!" she sent a torrent of electricity from the overhead clouds at the queen. The blow struck and the woman left dazed which Leina capitalized on and rushed inward, time to end this! Delivering her Dragon's Tail to the shocked queen, Leina sent the matriarch to the ground.
"Amazing," Aldra gasped out, her body smoldering. Rolling on her back, Aldra laughed weakly as she sat up. "But no matter how strong you are, Vance. The queen has the power of the cursed eye," and like that Aldra opened it. A golden light erupted from the socket and before the stunned crowd Leina Vance was petrified.
This was not shaping up to being the easiest fight she ever had, quite the opposite. Alleyne and her companions found the proper form of Melona to be neigh overwhelming. Those eyes seemed to be just for show as attacks from behind were as effortlessly dodged as those from the front. Weapons just slid through without any seeming damage, yet her tendrils would either slam or cut effortlessly. Thankfully Shinji was quick to heal any serious injury, which left them at a stalemate. Only it was a losing battle, if they got knocked out, Shinji's power didn't wake them up just mended the wound as evident by the sleeping Echidna.
"I'm having so much fun playing with your toys, pet, but I do have places to go. I need to re-break you in before handing you over to Werbellia," Melona teased out in Leina's voice. Taking on the guise of the woman just now making it to the arena for the finals, Melona made full use of her morphing powers. Slamming the 'blade' into Shinji's leg, embedding it into the ground, she rolled back and away from his staff swing. "Naughty pets have to watch as I put down their things, now do I start with the ones still up or do I finish off the sleeping darlings. Maybe the traitor first," Melona eyed the unconscious Menace.
If only she had a few moments to wake Nowa up or even Echidna things would be easier, Alleyne cursed. Leaping into the air, she aimed her staff at the shield the image of her co-wife had. "You shall not win here filth! It ends here for you," Alleyne rallied herself up. The staff pierced through the shield and the spongy body, clinking off the ground. Exposed, she was terribly exposed being so close! How could they hurt this thing when nothing seemed to matter to it! Diving to the side, Melona's attack cut more of her cape, at least she got Melona's attention.
"W-what should I sing now? My sleeping song isn't working on her and the one that disrupted her before isn't working either?" Tiina was beside herself. Hiding behind one of the larger crystals, the girl went through many songs trying to disrupt the slime's powers to no avail. She squeaked out as a trio of slime darts embedded themselves near her hand. Flying across the ground she got to Shinji's side and yanked on the slime pillar in his leg. Struggling, red faced from exertion, "Maybe we should try and escape? Think of a plan or something?"
Escape wasn't an option now, they couldn't get all three of the unconscious allies before Melona got to one of them. Alleyne would not leave an ally behind, she'd never live down the shame. "We will not be defeated by this witch. She has a weakness, we just have to find it. Husband, can you use those poses on her?" Alleyne deflected a few darts aimed her way. Saving the mummy, Alleyne couldn't believe it! Menace was once a servant of the Swamp Witch, an enslaver of minds, and yet Alleyne considered her an ally. Talking to the odd girl while they were incarcerated Alleyne learned a few little things about the ex-queen. Girl was flighty yet intelligent, spoiled yet regal, and the important thing was while she had been undead under the thrall of the Swamp Witch, not fully but still partially.
"I can't concentrate with this thing in my leg to do it, or get into the right position," Shinji grunted as blood continued to pour from his leg. Grabbing his staff, Shinji in a show of desperation, slammed it down on his own leg mangling it. The spike shattered and oozed back to Melona leaving a crumpled and broke mass of flesh. After a loud shout of guttural pain, blood dribbling out his mouth, Shinji willed himself to stay awake through it all and healed it back to pristine. Panting hard, "T-Tiina-san, can you make her colder…liquids harden and go slower…might give us an edge."
He was being overexerted! Alleyne was almost beside herself seeing her husband beaten and bloody. Melona was playing with them, playing with him more than anybody. It was a game, they were losing and he was suffering for it! Drawing out as much pain from him as possible to break his will, and they were the pawns! Gripping her staff, Alleyne tossed her hat away, and rushed to Shinji's side. "Can you stand on that, and what is this about cold?" she had to protect him. Funny though she felt his hand on her back and his healing powers rush through her. Fitting, when she went to his aid he aided her as well.
"You look better with a tether pet, my things all look better when on their knees," Melona formed into Nowa just without a stitch on. Groping herself and eying Alleyne with a disgusting smile, the slime continued her psychological assault. It worked as Alleyne balked, and an elongated slime tendril slammed against the elf's side sending her bouncing off Tomoe's crystal. Using the staff she did make, Melona sent Tiina into the air and Shinji rolling on the ground. Laughing wickedly Melona stalked Shinji as he back peddled. Grabbing his staff and whipping it away from him, "Don't think I'll let you get that little magic trick off again. Try it and see how fast I feed you their organs!"
He was unarmed! She could grab him and escape! Gritting her teeth, her side felt numb yet she could still control it. Losing here, losing him as Leina had, Alleyne wouldn't let that stand! Using her staff as a crutch she got back to her feet and spat out a wad of blood. "Tiina do as he said! We have to hurry. If that doesn't work try waking those others," Alleyne ordered through gritted teeth. Her vision was getting dark rimmed, exertion and pain were taking their toll, going on raw determination Alleyne hurled herself towards the image of her pupil.
"You won't get me again, anything you do to us can be fixed!" Shinji rebelled. An underhanded swipe from Melona sent him rolling down the floor of Aldra's trophy room. He bounced off a crystal holding some sort of cat-human, and into a scythe on the ground that had been propped against it. Arming himself with the discarded weapon, his hands bloody from attempting to free his leg earlier, started to glow softly. Vaulting to his feet as a trio of Melona's fingers elongated into spears, he got to his feet and pointed the blade at the slime. "Any time now Tiina-san, please?" he pleaded.
Tiina's song started to fill the domed room with its energetic yet deep lyrics. Winds started to whip around, breath came out in puffs of steam as the temperature dropped. As Tiina started to increase in tempo the scythe in Shinji's hands continued to glow brighter and brighter. Before he could use it to make a single attack, a woman appeared holding it, first came the body, then the undergarments, and finally the French maid outfit. Airi blinked a few times, stunned at having a body again, yanked her weapon from Shinji's prone hands.
"This either got better or worse," Alleyne bemoaned. The spirit that attacked her forest and turned a lot of it into swamp was back. Of all the weapons Shinji had to grab, that scythe just had to be the one closest to him. With the cold biting into her, Tiina's beautiful song was quickly changing the environment from warm and balmy to frigid and dry. Slamming her staff, a wild blow, Alleyne felt something she hadn't since the start happened, a connection. Her staff actually smashed into Melona's arm and made a few cracks, "Shinji, Tiina its working!"
Flying away from Shinji, Airi cradled her scythe to her body and took in the room. "My isn't this something. I owe you for waking me back up, but you're fighting with my friend here," Airi flew higher into the air. Giving Menace a few quick pokes with the butt of her staff, "Get up Menace, tell me what's going on."
Grabbing the cracked arm, Melona reverted to her normal form with a grimace of pain and insanity. "Airi get that stupid singing bitch up there! We can take them all out and steal my pet back for Werbellia," Melona pointed at Tiina. Again and again she slashed and slammed at Shinji's spry body. Crystals fell over, some broke off hunks, from her thunderous blows.
"Press the attack Shinji, use anything you can!" Alleyne ordered her husband. Now while the slime was distracted and angry they could finish her off! This mess was finally almost over, and she was ready to leave. Raining down as many blows as she could, more cracks and splinters, some of them even taking hunks of the slime with them, Alleyne felt that rush of victory coming. "I told you I'd defeat you, for all the harm you've done!" to others and her husband Alleyne had to dispense justice.
Flying into the room from one of the higher windows, a confused and annoyed Nanael lazily came to a halt. "There you guys are! I've been looking for you everywhere. It's crazy out there. Leina is fighting Aldra, a bunch of those crazy church people are out there trying to get into the castle. And now I see you fighting in here with all these crystals!" Nanael was indignant. Flying in an intercept course for Airi, Nanael had her mighty telekinetic sword out. "You can stop right there demon, I'm not here for you," Nanael sneered at the skimpy dressed maid.
"Menace-sama throw me my staff please!" Shinji called out to the waking queen as he charged Melona. Either it was an unconscious effort or Menace was better when she was tired, the queen used her bandage to toss Shinji's weapon into his hands as he rushed the slime. "Alleyne-sama!" Shinji called out his wife's name as he slammed his staff downward.
Finally that smile was on her face, she hadn't felt like she had smiled in ages. Joining her husband in a downward slash, the pair shattered the iced over Melona. Slivers of the slime went everywhere blowing outward in a disturbing show of Melona's form. Bits maintained their humanoid appearance while others were just hunks of pink and white.
Flying away from Nanael, her hand hovered before her open mouth, Airi gasped aloud. Grabbing a small hunk of the frozen Melona, "Retreat is the better part of valor. Thank you for giving me life again human, I'll remember that. And tell that delicious Leina I'll see her again." Hovering backward, Airi did her little fading trick taking a portion of Melona with her.
"So what is this all about?" Nanael asked as she flew down to the recovering humans, "and could you shut up! It's freezing down here!" Rubbing her exposed arms, the angel showed the effects of cold on the body. Grabbing her human vassal, Nanael shivered against him stealing as much warmth as possible. Her teeth chattering, "Head angel sent me to help fight Delmora, even gave me more holy milk to free these people." Hoisting up a bulging water skin, she gestured to the amber prisons.
Scooping Nowa off the ground, holding her like a baby, Alleyne felt drained of all energy. Escaping from prison, fighting Melona, and now this…it was tiring and she was needing to sleep. "If you're supposed to free them, then do so angel. We're tired and ready for a break," Alleyne shook Nowa gently. Oh how Nowa looked better, she had been so worried. The injuries Nowa received in the first fight had been far worse than Alleyne thought. But her foolish husband risked being caught to save them, and in such was there for Nowa in her hour of need. Gently rousing the girl, "Wake up Nowa, you've slept enough."
With Nanael hovering behind him, Shinji woke Echidna who shook her head free of the funk she had been knocked into. "You can free the people from these crystals, Nanael? Oh and did you see Melpha-sama since you've been back?" Shinji's hand glowed faintly. Sinking back to the ground, sitting cross legged, he yawned mightily. Wiping the tear that came from his yawn, "And we'll need to perform the transportation ritual as soon as Leina-chan finishes her match. Will you be ready?"
"Working me like a common dog the moment I get here, this better be worth it," Nanael pouted and flew off. Since Tiina had finished her song the warmth of the season was slowly forcing its way back into the room. Flying about the room, sprinkling Holy Milk on all of the statues, Nanael grumbled and whined about her thankless work and how she was going to demand repayment. A scant few moments after the potent solution hit the figures they splintered and cracked open like eggs. People woke in a daze, more than a few fell straight to sleep. "Well now what do you need me to do you slave drivers?" Nanael wiped her brow from her taxing job of glorified sprinkler.
Sitting down next to Shinji, letting Nowa's legs fall over his lap she kept the girl's head in her lap. "Go see to Leina, she might need you. We'll take care of things here, get ready for whatever is needed to teleport us," Alleyne yawned as well. Damn she felt tired, but she couldn't sleep yet! They weren't safe, not with those church people coming, yet she was so ready to just pass out. Watching as the wakened Tomoe pleaded with Nanael to take her along to Leina's side, Alleyne leaned against Shinji. Kissing his cheek softly, "Foolish husband coming for me, but without your plan we'd still be fighting that thing. I do love thee so."
Wrapping an arm around her waist, Shinji snuggled up close to Alleyne and nodded. "You'd do the same for me, I have to at least try to meet you halfway," Shinji murmured. They were both far from at their apex of energy. In the midst of Aldra's plundered treasure room, the human and elf husband and wife leaned on one another. Menace and Tiina joined them, Menace molding to Shinji's back, and Tiina took his free side. The group just sat in the wreckage of their victory. Echidna rolled over and just lay in front of them.
Echidna was laying with her head lined up with hers, so Alleyne found the mirth in the girls eyes funny. "For one that was unconscious the whole fight, you look content enough. Maybe next time not get defeated so quickly and actually help us?" Alleyne would have said more but erred on caution. If Echidna had any tricks up her sleeve, Alleyne didn't want to know them. Watching as Cattleya, Lana, and Owen fell into one another's arms, Alleyne rubbed her belly. Maybe that would be Shinji, her, and their child someday. A mother, something she never thought about before. Yet now, it was a nice idea, a symbol of their feelings for one another.
"That is so nice to see, maybe someday we…" Shinji flinched his head at the crying family reunion. Alleyne took his hand and they both gave it a squeeze. There was much left to do before they got to escape, barring the door from Fang and Church, readying the ceremony, and waiting for Leina to show up. But for now they would take a moment to recover. Watching the fight on the globe, all of the weary fighters hoped and prayed for Leina's victory.
"You're really heavy! How much further do I have to carry you anyway?" Nanael complained as she strained to keep Tomoe in the air. Arms jutting underneath Tomoe's like hooks, the angel was struggling to make forward progress while maintaining altitude. Descending into the arena, the fight between Aldra and Leina seemed to be taking a turn. No longer was Aldra dominating the fight, Leina had shifted the momentum with a bevy of attacks gleamed from other fighters. Finding some familiar mops of hair, Nanael almost dropped her passenger, "Hey look it's uh…the violent one and the bandit!"
Tomoe was trying to recover from her time in hibernation, it wasn't what she had expected. There was nothing but dreams, odd and yet interesting dreams. She had dreamt of her shrine in its prime, of Shizuka and her in strange new travels, and bashfully she even had some of Leina, Shinji, and her being a family. A family, something she had never known since being taken into the shrine, raised to be its champion, it was a strange thought. And when the children came, well after they were conceived which was a strange dream in its own right, left Tomoe floored. Life, her body could conceive life. But then that dream was taken from her as freedom came back. All she knew was she had to see to Leina.
"Leina-san has the advantage! The battle is almost won!" Tomoe was amazed at the show! Leina had pulled off her warrior's kick expertly, a stunning show of skill and adaptability. Grasping onto Nanael's arm, feeling herself slipping, Tomoe snaked a hold around the angel's wrist with one hand and her blade with another. Dangling in the air, she tore her eyes from the battle to glare at the red faced and sweating angel. Yelling in a mixture of fear and anger, "Just take us down already if you cannot keep us up here. Leina-san's sisters and Risty-kun are right below us anyway!"
But why would Risty be with Claudette and Elina, wasn't Risty in the queen's employ? Tomoe knew a lot had happened since her defeat, but to what degree she just didn't know. Regardless she had to apologize to Leina for her actions, and congratulate her friend on a battle hard fought and won. Apologies would be offered for the selfish desire to take Shinji, and her continued plan to convince him to leave this world. But where was the man, shouldn't he be with the sisters?
"Nanael, where is Shinji-kun, shouldn't he be here with the others?" Tomoe asked. Thankfully the span between feet and floor was shrinking, a bit to fast for Tomoe's peace of mind but she'd adapt. After her question, Nanael slipped and plummeted a good twenty feet, to just above the spectators who didn't even notice them. Growling, "Must you frighten me so, do you get some perverse enjoyment from it?"
Laughing a little, as much as the strain would allow, Nanael controlled her descent, "Well I'm not used to carrying dead weight so you should be happy. And the Holy Milk I have left is heavy too. Anyway my Vassal was back in the castle we just left from. And NO I am not taking you back and bringing you both here. Didn't you see him? A lot of those fighters were over there, but with all the people freed he might have been harder to see." Setting Tomoe on the ground, Nanael heaved a mighty sigh of relief. Rotating her shoulders the angel looked as if she had lost the weight of the world off her shoulders.
"He was back there? I thought Leina's fighting was what…" Tomoe whipped back to the castle. He had been back there? Why was he at the castle, what did she leave him to? In her rush and confusion, what did Tomoe leave behind? No matter, one issue at a time, she would see Leina become queen and then they could both head to the castle. Rushing down the last of the stairs to the other Vance sisters and the bandit, "How fairs things? What has happened since Leina-san and I fought?" She tugged on Claudette's arm.
Broken out of her fixation on the fight, neigh mesmerized, Claudette blinked her confusion and befuddlement out. "Tomoe? When did you get here? Can't you see for yourself that Leina is actually about to win this battle?" Claudette pointed at the arena floor. Leina had just delivered her personally created Dragon's tail sending Aldra rolling to the ground and disarmed. The crowd went wild with delight and cheers, the battle was neigh over. Giving Leina a small head nod, the most Claudette seemed capable of giving others, she continued, "After this we have to rush to the castle. The church is after my husband, and we need to hasten the trip to his home. Oh you found the angel?"
"What about me?" Nanael asked while she fanned herself. Stealing an unattended mug of ale, she downed it in one mighty gulp. Unprepared, Nanael soon found both Claudette and Risty grabbing her shoulders and clamping down. Indignantly complaining, "Hey let go of me, I'm above you damn meatbags! I am not something you can just manhandle!"
Poking Nanael in the throat gently yet threateningly, Risty leaned heavily on the angel, "You're not escaping us this time. After this fight we'll need you to do whatever it is you need to do to send us to that Tokyo place." Wrapping her muscular arm around the back of Nanael's shoulders, Risty propelled the angel to the lip of the arena. There would be no escape for the flighty creature, not while Risty had strength left in her arms. To Tomoe though the bandit actually had a cheeky grin, "See that they've cleared out her little trophy room. Whatever possesses the queen did the same to me, only Leina helped free me from it."
"Well I am glad I no longer need fear…" Tomoe's voice lost all its power. Stone, Leina had been turned to stone?! How was that possible, the woman had been winning, hell she had basically won! Yet there Aldra stood now, her hand holding down the eye patch and let its terrible golden light out. Cheater, that was not a human power, it was that foul spirit that lived within the girl that tipped the scales of battle. Clutching her blade, Tomoe was tempted to vault the wall and take to battle herself! Calling out amid the growing unrest, "Foul traitor! You shall not win this day! Release her now."
It took Claudette wrapping her arms around Elina's waist to keep the younger sister from charging headlong into the thick of things. "You fucking bitch release my sister now! Claudette let me go! She's weak we can beat her now if we go now, then Leina wins by default! Let GO!" Elina clawed and bucked viciously against the confines of the elder. Her razor sharp nails dug into Claudette's hand drawing crimson as the wildcat rebelled with every fiber of her being.
It wasn't just the fighters that saw the event, saw victory stolen from Leina, the crowd saw it and sympathized. Flagons of mead and ale flew through the air at the queen. Food and gambling slips balled up bounced along the ground and struck the woman's feet. Calls of 'cheater' and 'demon' were the rallying cries of the populous as they demanded to know what happened and how things transpired. Bitter and angry, betrayed, the whole of the arena demanded an explanation!
What they got was the queen dusted herself off and brushed herself clean of some of the drink that actually hit her. "Ungrateful curs are put down. Not that I need any of you," Aldra reached for her eye again, her teeth bore like the demon they called her. A blue aura radiated out from her, a miasma of white pulsated out of her as she opened it and in a growing dome of gold grew out from her and encased the whole of the arena. Oh how she cackled as her petty justice was meted out. Her laughter's echo accompanied her, "A good populace is seen and not heard."
"That…was close," Nanael's arms were held out defensively before her face. A blue protective barrier, thrown up in haste, sapped much of her strength left Nanael falling to her knees. Weakly, fearfully, turning to her allies that she shielded accidentally, "What do we do now? We can't beat Delmora on our own! We're going to retreat right…right…?" Her head sank as Claudette and Risty were already leaping over the wall.
Stopping the help Nanael off the dirty ground, Tomoe was resolved to fight to the d*ath. "You have that Milk correct? As you protected us from her magic, all I ask of you is to fly over her and try and douse Leina with it when you can, it might free her. Leave the fight to us," Tomoe allowed. If the milk was what freed her from the queen's powers, maybe it would do the same for Leina, and that meant the battle wasn't over yet! Joining the fray, Claudette was already engaging Aldra, Tomoe joined the triangle around their opponent. "You treat us like pawns creature, try and cheat for power. Leina will defeat you, she will be queen," Tomoe had been wrong before. Leina could be a good queen, her own aims were wrong and her spirit betrayed her hence her defeat.
"More bugs to be crushed. The fallen daughter of the traitorous duke, my ex-commander of the fang, and the Hinomoto priestess that refused power. What do you have to offer, all of you were all beaten by the one that I've already…what is this!?" Aldra's taunt was cut short. Forcing Claudette off with a savage push, Aldra ducked under Risty's mace with ease. Twisting with inhuman speed to go toe to toe with Tomoe the one-eyed child sneered, "What is this power in your weapons! Tell me of this magic!" Aldra raged and hunched over like a defensive animal.
Wishing she had her talismans, Tomoe noticed her sword was glowing brightly. Sadly her time incarcerated didn't fix her ruined clothing or replace her tattered spiritual wards. Yet this power surging through her was familiar and soothing, "It is a power you will never know demon," Tomoe taunted. It was Leina's spirit, Tomoe felt that surge of friendship and compassion! Even when incased in stone Leina was aiding them, it filled Tomoe with even more shame. To think she had doubted Leina's intention, in her sorrow over Shizuka she had made a mistake.
"Go ahead strike me with that power then! A single blow will mean that one loses and I am queen again. No strike or get out of my way!" Aldra clawed with one hand and slashed with another. Surrounded by the three, she tested each looking for a weak link in the chain. But each time her attack was met with the gold infused weapons and was repelled. Growling, Aldra dove at Risty and knocked the girl to her back, hands on rod of the mace, "I am queen here, and I will be until I find my sister!"
A stunning kick took Aldra in the side of the head and sent her rolling along the ground. Leina stood tall and proud, if you overlooked the Holy Milk cascading down her body in tiny white rivers. "I am not defeated yet! Face me fairly!" Leina launched herself after the tiny body.
Keeping close, supportively, Tomoe offered a silent blessing off to Nanael for actually doing well for a change. "Leina-san, we will support you as you need. I was wrong about so much, and am glad," Tomoe didn't wish to unbalance or distract her friend. Time would exist for their mending of their friendship, after Aldra was deposed.
"Little one, release your wards on me, or we will lose! You will never find your sister if you lose!" the darker and more masculine of Aldra's twin voices demanded. Grabbing her head, Aldra let out a massive scream, and fell to her hands and knees. Dark energies pulsated out of that body in waves as the body bucked and rippled. Pushing her hands off the ground with a savage growl Aldra knelt as she turned to her planned victim. Now just masculine in voice, "Yes, this is what I need to beat you. Full control!" Like a bullet, Aldra tore off at Leina leaving a trail along the ground.
Stunned, Tomoe could only watch open mouth as Leina was poetry in motion. Every blow Aldra made, even in her faster pace was countered or deterred. In pure awe, "She has reached a new level of proficiency." If Leina had such power when they fought, Tomoe knew she'd have been defeated in moments. Thunderous blow after blow was exchanged, the trio of supporters could only watch as Leina sent Aldra again back to the ground this time battered and bloody. "Submit demon, release that vessel," Tomoe started drawing a symbol on the ground.
"This body is to weak!" the voice cried out as a dark miasma wafted out of the girl's mouth and formed a humanoid body. It was male, and angry. "Foolish human, you cannot defeat an angel! You will be my new vessel. That one is no longer useful to me. So easy to goad, all I had to do was take her sister and instill the need for vengeance. I think all I need do for you is hold that male above you and you'd do as I said, just like that one!" Delmora pointed a clawed hand at Risty.
Flying overhead, Nanael laughed aloud as she dumped the contents of her pouch over the reconstituted fallen angel. "I've finally did what the Head Angel wanted! Attack him now, he's weak!" Nanael didn't bother taking her own blade out though. This was for the humans to do, and Nanael wasn't going to do anything else.
Summoning her spiritual energy in a binding ritual, Tomoe felt her body going light and full of energy. "Foul demon, you have already defiled the sanctity the Queen's Blade. But no longer, today we take it back from you!" she charged outward with her sword glowing blue. Delmora was stunned from the sudden dosage of milk was struck right in the chest. Being incorporeal though the blade when through the creature but left it pulsating blue. Rolling along the ground she jumped to her feet and turned back.
"For ruining our plans! For Leina and my husband!" Claudette let loose a mighty bolt of lightning. Rippling and jumping webs of electricity coursed over the now fallen Delmora. The haughty and proud nature hadn't lasted long under the combined assault of the two.
And for the final blow, Leina ran inward and delivered one final Dragon's Tail. Knocking Delmora into the air, Leina bounced the creature about to and fro with each hit. "This ends now!" Leina, strained and overtaxed let Delmora fall to the ground. The body stayed laying there for a moment, then dissolved into mist. Once the mist was gone, everybody heard the odd ripping sound as Aldra aged from her tiny child form into her natural aged form and her clothing tore to conform to it.
Shambling over to the downed ex-queen, Tomoe checked for a pulse. "Poor thing, all you wanted was your family and it lead you astray. We will go to Hinomoto together to look for her when you are well," Tomoe would aid the unfortunate woman. It wasn't Aldra's fault, not if such a powerful spirit had used her as a physical vessel. "All hail the new queen, all hail queen Leina Vance!" Tomoe called out to the recovered audience.
All the globes showed Leina, haggard and bloody yet proud, waving at them. Wild cheers erupted from the saved populace. Clearing her throat Leina signaled for silence, "I claim this victory and honor those who fought before me! As your new queen, my first order is…to abdicate the throne to my sister Claudette Vance who will server you far better than I!" That left the audience stunned and silent. Never before had that happened, a new queen instantly giving away the title.
"You…you don't wish to be queen?" Tomoe asked as she hoisted the nude Aldra on her back. Not good to leave women so vulnerable alone. She hadn't expected Leina to give up the throne! Claudette, the woman that served as general of the Vance army would be queen? What did that mean? She'd let the time sink in and her mind accept all of it before worrying about it. "N-now what do we do?" Tomoe was still feeling out of the loop.
Appearing behind the group, Irma tapped on Tomoe's shoulder. "You follow me through the hidden passages in the castle to avoid the mob of church inquisition is what you do. Or have you abandoned that man to fate?" she pointed at a hallway she had likely come from. That put a damper on the celebration, they still had one last issue to deal with. Leina grabbed Nanael and the troupe ran off behind Irma through hidden and secret passages.
She had won! Leina was the winner of the tournament! Shinji was beside himself with pride for his wife. But as much as he wanted to celebrate and relax with her and everybody else, the pounding on the door kept much of his joy at bay. The church was literally outside the door to the queen's treasure room trying to find a way in. That was a big problem, Nanael could fly into the room from the roof but the others couldn't! He wouldn't leave without Leina, Shinji just wouldn't!
"H-how are things going over here?" Shinji asked timidly. Since freeing her own staff, Shinji had seen a strange change in Nyx and it was disconcerting. A gout of flame burst out of the staff and incinerated a shard of the frozen Melona. Such heat from that fire nearly burnt Shinji's clothing, damn staff was powerful. Eyeing Alleyne gently rousing Nowa, Shinji held a hand out to his wife to keep her calm. Nyx was worrying people, Alleyne more than most. Bending at the knees, he shifted the ashes, "Is that the last of them?"
Throwing her head back hard and laughing maniacally, Nyx stood proudly with her chest puffed out. "Of course that's the last of them! Fucking slime cannot handle MY power!" she cackled loudly. Others in the room, those who had been incased longer than others were still in a daze. Others saw their saviors needing aid and were barring the door from the encroaching inquisition forces. Roping an arm around the kneeling Shinji, Nyx pulled him against her leg, in her best attempt at sultry, "And you, I have so much to thank you for…shall we start now?"
What was this? Nyx was never so off before, or this forward. Shifting through the ashes of with his staff, Shinji stiffened as Nyx trailed his spine with her fingers. That staff had a strange effect on her, just like when he first met her, Shinji didn't know what to think of the ruby dressed woman. "You don't have to thank me, Nyx-san. You've done enough in taking care of her," Shinji didn't see any chunks of Melona left. The maid had taken a small piece away, but with so little left it would be a long time until that bitch hurt anybody again.
"B-but what if I want to though? You've been, you've been one of my first real friends," Nyx lost some of her faux enthusiasm. Shifting her demonic staff away from her, pointing it at the ground, the woman appeared much like the person Shinji cooked next to. Kneeling at Shinji's side, she leaned against him lightly, "Sorry, s-sometimes when I use Funikura, he punishes me if I don't act a certain way. I have to be outstanding and flamboyant or he gets angry. Though with him hurt, and my new courage…I think I can be myself more." Her hand stayed on Shinji's shoulder.
What she had to do for power, Nyx had spoken vaguely about it before, now Shinji knew what she had to do for it. While he didn't know the true nature of his staff, still thought it was somehow Unit-01, Nyx had a demon as hers. Eyeing the staff angrily, "Don't worry Nyx-san, I'm sure it won't abuse you again." If it did, Shinji might have to see if he could hurt it to. Nyx had a hard enough life without her staff abusing her as well. While he wasn't particularly close to Nyx, they were friends and he wanted good things for her. Shifting through the ashes for any remainders of the slime, and finding none, Shinji relaxed. "Thanks for taking care of this for us too, I really owe you," Shinji patted Nyx's arm.
"Y-y-you don't have to thank me S-Shinji. I want to help you. You've really helped me a lot with my-my self-esteem," Nyx shuffled at his side a little. Sitting down and letting Funikura down, it slithered a bit but stopped, she sighed happily. Looking up at Shinji as he stood up, "Are you sure I can go with you and your friends to this Tokyo-3 place? I wouldn't want to impose on all of you."
Dusting himself off, Shinji wanted none of the Melona ash on him, he let out a single laugh, "Of course you can. The queen is…well I guess the queen is my wife so I'm sure you'll be fine getting a position here if I ask." He didn't want to flex that particular muscle, was leery of Claudette right now, but he could ask to get Nyx put in as the head chef. Girl was a glorious cook, but what would he have to do to get it? The previous night with Claudette, hazy memories of it plagued him, it wasn't as bad as Melona at all…but something about their coupling reminded him of it. Claudette was in charge at all times once they got started, no questioning or hesitation.
"Puppy, we have finished making the symbol as you told us, want to come inspect it? Or are you going to claim this one right here and now?" Echidna teased as she gave Shinji's bum a hard squeeze. Using the stunned nature of both timid wallflowers, the snake enthusiast lead Shinji towards the circle in the center of the trophy room. An eldridge symbol on the ground, replicated perfectly from a small drawing Shinji gave them. Leaning on Shinji's back, Kelta roaming between Shinji's legs, "Do we get a prize for getting it right?"
Pushing Echidna off of her husband, Alleyne was not in a sharing mood with her old rival. "Your prize is getting to accompany us to this land of his, you have not done much else to warrant the reward you seek," Alleyne's tone was firm and dark. Chasing off Echidna with her resolve, the first wife of Shinji was wanting some time alone. Once Echidna smirked once and sauntered off back to Nyx, "What will we do if the others cannot get in the room? Your world is in peril correct, if only those here can go…will you?" The question was between the lines, 'will you leave Leina to save your world?'
"I can't doom my friends for my selfishness," Shinji examined the symbol bitterly. His old friends and quasi-family in Misato were hopefully still alive. He could stop the problems they were facing, saving a whole world by doing something very simple. Selfishness didn't begin to describe somebody that wouldn't stop that with a few words. "If they can't get here and Nanael does, we go without them. It's only for a short time anyway. And when we get back we can find each other again," Shinji found Alleyne smiling at him. Damn she was beautiful, inside and out Shinji realized he loved that elf so powerfully. It was different than Leina, but no less as powerful.
Joining the pair in inspecting the symbol, Nowa was back to her smiling and cheerful self. Nuzzling Lou a little, "So what will we do in your world when we get there? Will it hurt to teleport? Master why are you glaring?" Since she had woke up, the half-elf had been a fount of energy and was practically bouncing around the room. Moving from recovering group to group, the girl was causing everybody to grin. Looping an arm around Alleyne's waist, nuzzling contently, "We get to travel to a new world! I'm so excited!"
"Nowa! Five points!" Alleyne bristled and actually deflated a little. Fixing her barrette as Nowa's exuberance shifted it, the elf gently tried to free herself from the amorous hold of her ward. Giving up as Nowa didn't relax her hold, "Yes we are going to a new world, and you must be careful over there. Things will be different and you must listen to either Shinji or myself. Understand?"
Half listening to Alleyne admonish Nowa about her exuberance and how the trip will go down, Shinji felt that anxiety growing. What if Tokyo-3 was destroyed like his dreams, what if his comrades were gone while he enjoyed life here? If somebody got hurt or died while he was here, suffering yet enjoying life, what did that mean? Even if everything was fine, how would Misato take the fact he was married two times over now?
"Shinji! They've gotten battering rams and are breaking down the door," Cattleya ran over to the happily elfin family. Lana and Owen joined her as the gargantuan woman pointed to the splintering door. Time was running out, they'd be in the room before long. Without Nanael this was all for naught, Shinji would plead with those church goers to leave the others alone if they just took him. Hefting her might weapon over her shoulder, "Do we attack them if they come in or no? With all of the previous queens prisoners with us, we could stop them." Her hand went to Lana's head and rubbed it affectionately.
Flexing his large bicep, Owen ruffled Lana's giggling head and winked at Shinji, "We can't have our heroes not getting their reward. I owe you for getting my wife's warrior spirit back, and instilling Lana with the courage to defend us all." Scooping Lana off the ground, the boy giggled and was overjoyed to be with his parents again.
Shaking his head, Shinji wouldn't have it. "No, if Nanael doesn't get here to get us out of here…I'll let them take me. They'd think I've corrupted you, right Alleyne-sama, you said it yourself," Shinji saw Alleyne about to contradict him. Back when he had met her, Alleyne said she had taken out a male healer before due to his corruption. Holding Alleyne's hand, he felt her twitch as he spoke, "I won't have you getting hurt or killed over me. I'll submit to them and maybe we can talk them out of things." But after he made love to Melpha, he doubted they'd trust him.
"Well maybe we can't kill them, but maybe we can stall them long enough for you to escape then?" Cattleya said with a finger to her chin. Her massive chest wobbled as she moved back and forth in thought. Owen and Shinji had to avert their eyes less be mesmerized by the metronome effect. Everything stopped though when they heard the sound of stone grinding against stone, something was opening. Cattleya bounced impossibly due to the size of her massive chest, her mighty blade at the ready, "Lana get behind us!"
Walking through a hidden door in the wall, Irma held up a hand showing no weapon or threat. "Took longer to get through the city than expe…" a human bullet knocked Irma to the ground, "ted. And this one has been fretting the whole time since I mentioned the inquisition forces." Holding her hand up, the lithe assassin of the Fang, held her hand up and waited for Risty to yank her off the ground.
"Let go of me you behemoth! I can fly on my own" Nanael made her precious known by crying out shrilly. Being held by the arms, Claudette had her arms wrapped up from under Nanael's armpits, the angel strained against her confines. "Oh hey you got the summon symbol made already! Thank the Head Angel as I forgo…t," Nanael's head bounced as Risty slapped the back of it lightly.
Knocked out of Alleyne and Nowa's arms, Shinji found himself on the ground with a mighty weight on his chest. It was a comforting and known mass, and Shinji just rubbed the missiles head affectionate. "I missed you two Leina-san…or should I say Queen Leina Vance?" Shinji joked as Leina rubbed her head against his chest. His wife was the queen, if only for a minute, he was so proud of her. "I know you're tired, we all are. Menace-sama and Tiina-san are sleeping themselves. But we have to go fast. Nanael-sama, are you ready?" Shinji looked over Leina's head at the angel.
"She better be. The angel has said she knew what to do," Claudette finally released the angel and strode over to the amorous pair. Nudging Leina with her foot, Claudette wasn't one to wait for things. When Leina continued to rub her cheek against Shinji's chest, the elder sister grabbed Leina by the shoulders and picked her up. Twirling the younger woman around, "We do not have time for this. The inquisition forces are trying to break in. And until I am officially sworn in I have no power to leverage against them."
Pouting cutely, Leina's shoulders sagged, and her sword and shield clanged together. "You're right. We'll have plenty of time to recovery in his homeland. Are we ready to go?" Leina turned back to the others. Oh how her eyes and face were alive with pride and love. Their long and hard journey was almost over, and it was time for a vacation. A real honeymoon for them, all of them. Letting out a cute yelp, Leina found herself accosted by Elina groping her, "S-Stop that Elina! We-we have to hurry and-and…STOP IT!"
"W-where is Tomoe-san" Shinji asked as Nanael flew by and examined the symbol. Alleyne excused herself to go wake up the others and get those protecting the splintering door. Meeting eyes with Risty, Shinji froze up until the woman herself looked away. He hadn't seen the fight with Risty and Leina, but he could tell something was different with her. Back to being the boisterous and happy woman he had met and initially fell for. "She not coming?" Shinji looked over at the covered Shizuka. They hadn't much private time to talk since they got into the trophy room, but Shizuka had expected to come clean when Tomoe showed up!
In a show of repentance, as only she could, Risty roped an arm around Shinji and tickled his sides. "What are we not good enough for you, my little man? I know you're more than enough for me, but with so many women here I think we can tire even you out," Risty laughed and pulled Shinji's head to the side of her bust. Giving him a good head rub, "She was seeing to the recovered Aldra. And I think she'll try and help us from outside. We asked if she wanted to come with us to this Tokyo place, but she side she had to stay and help rebuild Hinomoto."
"She's not coming!?" Shinji yelped and looked right over to the robe garbed Shizuka! He knew how Shizuka was in pain mentally over what she had to do to Tomoe, but he didn't want to go to Tokyo-3 without her! All of them, Shinji wanted all of them to go to Tokyo-3 with him! Shower them with rewards and pampering for services rendered! All the pain and suffering, they went through it all together and they all deserved the reward!
A large splintering, wood and stone breaking and caving in thundered through the room. Time was running out. More of the recovered prisoners of Delmora were rushing to the door to aid their rescuers, but time was running out.
Woken from their slumber by the rallying cries of the inquisition, Tiina and Menace joined the others at the summoning circle. "Oh I'm sorry for falling asleep Sir Shinji, but those spells take it out of me. Are-are we almost ready to go?" Tiina looked at the assorted women with trepidation. Maybe a lot more women than Tiina was expecting was looking at her questioningly.
"Tiina is an ally of ours, and that woman in rags…Shinji promised to let her come with us. He said she is a mute with a sickness that can be cured in his world," Alleyne said with a hint of skepticism.
Freeing herself from Elina's embrace, Leina wrapped her arms protectively around Shinji. "Oh that was the mermaid we freed in the city! I guess we can bring her with us. And why don't you just heal that woman instead of bringing her with us, Shinji?" Leina laid her chin on Shinji's head.
"I'm to stress out right now to do it," Shinji lied. It helped that he couldn't see Leina's face, he could never lie to her face. Gently leading Leina and the others to the summoning circle, Shinji flinched every time the door thundered and splintered. "W-well who is all coming with us to see my world?" Shinji felt his nerves growing. What if his visions were true and his world doomed, what if while he was off (mostly) enjoying himself they suffered? Could he live with that?
Walking into the summon circle, Echidna, Irma who held onto her master, Tiina, the garbed Shizuka, and Nyx stood behind Nanael. Latching onto Shinji were those that claimed to be his wives or had acted the part. Leina, Alleyne, Risty, Nowa, and Menace stood behind Shinji.
"Ok, vassal, if I remember right. You need to suck on my finger as I say the incantation. Those touching either you or me will go with us. So everybody grab on, but easy on the wings you barbarians…they're sensitive. And you!" she pointed at Shinji angrily as she shoved a finger into his mouth as he knelt before her. Cooing as he accidentally suckled on it, "You so owe me and I WILL collect that payment when we get over there."
He could tell there was something latently sexual about his nursing Nanael's finger. Nodding at the woman, the need for expediency kept his partings short. For a moment he turned to his actual wife and Leina's sister, "We'll be back as soon as we can. Take care."
"Oh guardian angels of the way, open the path to this wayward child's home so he reunited with the realm that spawned him!" Nanael tittered again as Shinji suckled on her finger. As the door to the throne room splintered in, Cattleya and Owen helping the defense of their saviors, but time was running out. The symbol that Echidna and Alleyne had made started to glow a brilliant blue and pulsate brighter and brighter.
As the light started going painfully bright, Shinji panicked at what he saw. Elina had that smile on her face, wicked and evil, and he noticed she had her spear at the ready. God no, she wasn't going to ruin this was she? Not now, not when they were so close!
And then Elina's spear flew through the air, lancing Shinji in the side and forcing him to pitch forward. Pain exploded in body as he rocked forward, the pressure from the hands on his back went lax. Tumbling forward, dragging Nanael with him and those on her back. They formed a pile, that didn't consist of the others…and then the light went blinding and he felt weightless.
How long that darkness surrounded him, Shinji didn't know. It felt like being back in the angel that had eaten him so many months ago. Then, eye's opening wide, Shinji shot up and nearly smashed his head against Misato's. The soothing beeping of the medical monitors filled the room. Softness he hadn't felt in ages, the hospital bed was far more comfortable than the ground he had slept on so many nights. "M-Misato-san? I'm…I'm back? I'M BACK!" he wrapped his arms around Misato and held her tightly.
"Well good morning to you too sleepy head. You've been sleeping for the last three days little man. You had us all so worried when the angel vanished. And such a gory return, trying to impress us?" Misato pet Shinji's head motherly. Rocking the boy that held her fiercely, the woman to had tears in her eyes, "Had us all worried when you vanished like that. Going to have to punish you for that."
Pushing himself away from Misato, tears of joy in his eyes, Shinji hadn't expect how seeing Misato again would be. She had been like a mother or sister to him, a solid friend in a world that seemed to hate him. Seeing her again after all this time, it just overwhelmed him. "Sorry, sorry about that. W-where are the others? Who-who made it back with me?" Shinji looked around the room for those who teleported with him.
The room was empty, nobody else was there. Nobody.
"What are you talking about Shinji-kun?" Misato asked uneasily. Pulling Shinji back into a hug, not letting him see her face. "When Unit-01 came back and covered the street in its…I don't know what you'd call it. Nobody was with you, the plug just had you in it," she rubbed his hair affectionately.
His body went cold, nobody made it back with him? "But…but what about Nanael, she should have at least came with me! She brought me over! Nyx-san, and Echidna…Tiina-san they were holding her! They should have at least made it! Where is Ayanami-san…I can end the angel threat if I can see Ayanami-san!" Shinji was panicking! This wasn't what was supposed to happen…this was wrong!
Misato gently pushed away from Shinji and quickly headed to the door. "Calm down Shinji-kun, you must have had a really vivid dream. We'll talk about this later after you relax for a few minutes…I'll have some food sent up for you. Bet you're starved," Misato quickly fled the room.
Moving to the room on adjacent to Shinji's, Misato walked in and observed the one sided glass. Ritsuko was sitting there watching and recording it all. "So…what do you think? Are those women telling the truth or have they done something to him?" Misato sighed heavily.
"I don't know Misato, but that one named Tiina has a damn fish tail, one has elf ears, and the one he mentioned has fucking wings! Something happened to Shinji while the angel vanished. We need to observe them more, keep those others away from him. Just keep playing up the dream angle. We'll get through this," Ritsuko comforted her friend. Having found Shinji's entry plug full of women, and not normal women, was not expected. Until they had answers, they'd play it off as a delusion. Shinji was back, Unit-01 was back, and they had all the time in the world to understand this.
And that's the end of Act – 2! The first battle of the Queen's Blade as ended! On the whole I felt a little railroaded by the plot of Queen's Blade this time, maybe for Rebellion I'll play it a little less on the mark for official cannon. Give myself some more leeway to act.
Hope you like it and are ready for a chapter or two in Tokyo-3 as prep for the next full arc gets started and going. Hope you enjoyed and hope you're having a good end of summer.
As for the rather personal questions in the reviews. Apartments have pools…did you not know this? And I've a Fifth Edition Call of Cthulhu book for ages, game still works since its pen and paper he he.