Shirou Emiya: Erogame Protagonist: Monster Girl Quest: Part 2
Author's Notes: And, after a rather long time, we see the conclusion of SE:EGP:MGQ2 making its way off the forum and on to the general site. This ends up being a rather long chapter, though bear in mind when I wrote it I was posting each of the parts separately. I ended up frozen right around Part 4 for quite a while really, so long that when I picked it back up to start writing I had to announce the continuation with the Monster Musume blurb. Alice even lampshades it in that chapter.
Anyway, no great big things to talk about up here. The actual MGQ part 3 is out, and the translation is one third the way through at time of posting. I originally had the end all planned out at the end of part 2, so I decided to just go ahead and finish it off before I play part three and end up getting even more ideas that I would have to work in.
So, enjoy the 'Hora Hora's and don't be afraid to post a review.
In which Alice reveals the secrets of cooking with fire, Shirou accidently triggers an Alice flag, and then Alice gets even.
"So this is the Noh region," Shirou commented glancing around at the fertile looking forest around him. "It feels like it took us an inordinate amount of time in order to arrive here, considering how fast we managed to get between the other regions," he mused, wondering out loud about something that had been bothering him.
"Sono mono wa, naze de iu koto ga hanasu ka?" Alice responded, and then paused as both her and Shirou blinked in surprise.
"Um, Alice," Shirou began, looking at his companion strangely. "What was that?"
"Nihongo? Naze nihongo? Sore wa totomo kondo suru…" Alice muttered, crossing her arms and glaring at the ground in front of her as she did so.
"Are you okay?" Shirou asked, now growing slightly concerned about the safety of his strange traveling companion.
"Sono…" Alice began and then paused as her eyes narrowed. She held one hand up to indicate that Shirou should wait a moment, and the concerned cook paused to give her the time she was requesting.
Finally, after several minutes, Alice nodded triumphantly. "There," she said, her tone proud as she crossed her arms. "It just took a while to get the English patch with all my lines translated."
"…Huh?" Shirou felt that there was no response more eloquent or direct he could think of, and thus settled on that rather uninspired sounding one as the best answer to Alice's outlandish claim.
"Never mind," Alice told him, turning her head to the side in typical tsun fashion. "More importantly, isn't it time to eat?"
"Time to eat?" Shirou asked, glancing away from where Alice was perched on her tail to the fire where only moments ago he finished serving dinner to the lamia. "But didn't we just have some? Like five minutes ago?"
"That was the past, Shirou," Alice told him sternly, disappointed with her chef's strange preoccupation with unimportant matters that happened ages ago. "Stop living in the past. Focus on the future."
"But you had three helpings," Shirou reminded his companion pointedly, not mentioning how that had been the vast majority of the food he had prepared for both of them.
"Still with the past," Alice shook her head sadly. "It's sad to see someone so unable to move on. If this continues then I might have to cook myself."
"What?" Shirou perked up, turning to look at Alice fully. The lamia paused, briefly wondering what had caused her companions strange reaction before he continued. "You mean you can cook too, Alice? Why didn't you say so before!"
"Nothing is impossible for the Monster Lord," Alice proclaimed boldly, though deep down in the parts of her soul that she rarely ever admitted to having, much less looking too for guidance, even she had to acknowledge that that wasn't exactly a profession of any real skill in the kitchen.
"That's great!" Shirou effused, and even if Alice had been the type to pay attention to that tiny thing, (What was it called again? Oh yeah! A conscious! ) then in the face of such an enthusiastic response she would not have been able to back down anymore. "Why don't you have a turn then? I can't wait to try your cooking too!"
"Just wait and be amazed," Alice told Shirou proudly, slithering over to where the pot was still resting by the fire. Once there she paused, studying the pot carefully in what Shirou assumed was her trying to decide on a recipe.
Once the staring passed the three minute mark, Shirou only felt his anticipation grow. Surely if it was taking her this long to decide on what she wanted to cook then it could only mean that Alice had mastered so many dishes that it made his own repertoire seem feeble in comparison.
When the staring passed the ten minute mark, Shirou wondered if maybe it was that he didn't have the necessary utensils or ingredients for whatever monster cuisine the lamia had wanted to prepare.
It wasn't until the staring passed the twenty minute mark that Shirou began to wonder if maybe something was wrong…
"Um, Alice," Shirou began, not wanting to interrupt a fellow chef in their element. "Is anything the matter?"
"Of course not," Alice declared, proving that she hadn't somehow been spontaneously turned into a statue through some unexpected plot device. "Just who do you think I am?"
"So you have everything you need?" Shirou asked, wanting to make sure that everything really was okay. With a huff, Alice crossed her arms and gave him an aggrieved stare.
"Oh, shut up," she snapped at him, eyes narrowed. "Go away until I'm done!"
Shirou cleared his throat nervously, and decided that maybe he shouldn't have been so open about his recipe stealing tendencies in the past. If he had been a bit more discreet, then he could have begun learning the cooking style of an entirely different species!
"I'll just go over there then," Shirou told her, making sure to walk away in an auspicious manner in order to prove that he was giving Alice the privacy she requested.
Of course, the moment he was out of sight he turned, circled the campsite, and with stealth he hadn't bothered to use in a long time he crept back so that he could steal, um, observe discreetly that is, Alice cooking.
He arrived in time to see Alice just finishing as she dumped all of the ingredients for whatever she was making into the pot. Shirou noted that most of them were uncut and unprepared, and nodded, carefully taking mental notes. What an earthy cooking style! If Shirou didn't know any better, he might just think the lamia had no idea what she was doing!
It was only when Alice began to summon unholy power to coalesce around her that Shirou began to wonder if maybe something was wrong. Surely ice so cold it froze the soul to behold really shouldn't be combined with the sulfurous fires of hell, and he really doubted that the overwhelming palate of madness and dark hatred which was infusing into the turbulent maelstrom of evil energy would be conducive to flavor enhancement….
"Tremble before my unrivaled skills!" Alice declared, before bringing the entire conglomerate of hateful energy towards the pot.
*Scene Break, more because it's funnier this way than because of any of the naughty stuff that usually causes a Scene Break*
*Scene Break End*
"Hmph," Alice grunted. Shirou stood beside her, covered in soot and frost and with random dark arcs of Sith lightning occasionally sparking around him. "It can't really be helped," she shrugged, dismissing the whole encounter off hand. "I was never really taught cooking skills. All I studied was how to be a good Monster Lord, not how to be a home maker."
"Alice…" Shirou began, his voice hollow as his shock robbed him of all emotions but the most bitter coldness that he had experienced since he first discovered just what monsters liked to do with the humans they caught.
"What?" Alice asked as Shirou trailed off, not appearing the least bit concerned by the enormous fifty foot deep crater that had once been the cooking pit, as well as most of the tent and supplies that the two had gathered over the course of the journey.
"How am I supposed to cook without any of my utensils?" Shirou asked, his eyes twitching as he slowly turned to level an accusing glare at the lamia.
In turn, Alice's eyes widened as she realized just what she had done. Wheeling about, the Monster Lord took another look at the devastation she had rendered. She finally saw it for what it truly was, and in turn, Alice wept.
"What have I done?" Alice whispered, two slow tears trailing down her cheek as she did so. "My god, what have I done?"
"This place is amazing," Shirou whistled, looking around with wide eyes as he took in the sight of Grand Noh Castle. "To think, there is a place where monsters and humans can live together so freely!"
"Shouldn't it be better to focus on the important matters?" Alice prodded Shirou, arms folded under her chest as she narrowed her eyes at the awestruck chef. "Trivialities should be treated as trivialities, after all."
Despite Alice's apparent dismissal of the cohabitation of humans and monsters around her, it didn't stop her from freely traveling in her lamia form beside her chef.
"Important matters," Shirou repeated, his eyes narrowing as he glared at Alice. "Important matters like buying new cooking supplies?"
"Exactly," Alice nodded imperiously. "For three days now I've had nothing but shishkabobed fish and grilled wild vegetables." Alice paused, a faint smile crossing her lips as she did so. "Delicious shishkabobed fish and grilled wild vegetables," she allowed, before her expression sobered. "But still just shiskabobed fish and grilled wild vegetables. Shirou, I demand variety from my chefs."
"Well, if someone hadn't blown up all my supplies," Shirou grumbled giving Alice an evil glare. The lamia paused at the unusually aggressive tone from her usually docile slave, er, companion. Though she showed no change in expression on her human half, her tail, which had been noticeably perked ever since they arrived in town, began to droop slightly. "It had only taken me months to collect all the different pots and knives which you managed to obliterate in a matter of seconds," he continued, and Alice's tail drooped even further. "And where are we going to get sea salt and happiness honey now? You know what that means, right? No more ama ama dango?" Even further down did Alice's tail go. "And I was so close to truly perfecting the dango," Shirou lamented, "just a bit more and I would have had the perfect recipe!"
At that point, Alice couldn't help but feel that Shirou was being a little too cruel. After all, she was the one who was going to be denied the chance to eat perfect dango. She was suffering too!
When Shirou noticed that Alice was being unusually docile in the face of stern chastisement he glanced over to see just what was keeping the lamia so quiet. It was then that he finally took note of the way Alice's tail was dragging along the ground, the very tip of it tracing sheepish circles in the pavement behind her as the two walked, well, walked and slithered together.
"You're right," Alice admitted, and Shirou noted that despite the depressed look of her snake features, her human side showed absolutely no indication of any emotion besides supreme confidence. "As it is my fault, it is only fair that I make amends. It is the only way that I can possibly achieve atonement for such sins."
"Wait," Shirou began, eying Alice in surprise. "Are you actually admitting that you made a mistake, Alice?" The thought of the proud Monster Lord ever deigning to acknowledge fault was a bit of a surprise for the traveling chef.
"Of course," Alice nodded, not sounding the least put out by her confession. "Everyone makes mistakes. Even someone as close to perfection as I am is not truly without flaw. And if, as inconceivable as it sounds, I were to make a mistake, especially one of such a grievous nature, then it is only right that I take responsibility."
Well, no one ever said that Alice lacked confidence that much Shirou was sure of. Still, as he kept a careful eye on Alice's tail, which was now tracing a series of frowny faces into a gravelly section of the road, Shirou noted that having such an incredibly obvious tell as a tail definitely made dealing with tsun-tsun females a whole lot less confusing than dealing with normal tsundere.
Shirou did wonder if this was a sign of Alice actually repenting for a wrong doing, or if it was just her trying to get the essentials necessary for him to start cooking again. And then he realized it didn't really matter that much to him, just so long as he got back his kitchen.
"Well then, let's go!" Shirou declared. "To the market place!"
"Wow," Shirou noted, as another random woman came up to him and mentioned the great coliseum that Noh boasted. "There sure are a lot of people here who seem to enjoy martial arts!" Then he paused. "But I wonder why me apparently being cute seems to make so many people think that I'd do good in the arena? Huh. Weird."
"Hmph," Alice grunted, picking up a pot and carefully studying it. Seeing as she knew next to nothing about cooking, besides the fact that dark power did not make an acceptable heating source as she had just found out, so far Alice's quest to make restitution for the destroyed cook pot had consisted of her repeating the same two steps over and over again. First, she selected a random piece of kitchen ware.
Then, she promptly turned to Shirou. "How about this one?" she demanded, eyes furrowed in concentration as she tried to determine if her latest guess was appropriate.
"That pot is nearly as large as I am," Shirou noted, not even raising an eyebrow at the way the lamia was able to lift the enormous thing without visible effort when it must weight three times his body weight at the least.
"So?" Alice cocked her head to the side, not quite sure why being able to prepare such a vast quantity of food would be a bad thing.
"It would take too long to bring to boil," Shirou just told her, remembering just how much Alice enjoyed eating with a sigh. Alice nodded at his logic, putting the pot back while the vendor gave her a nervous look. She moved to the next item, picking it up and repeating the process of presenting it to Shirou. "How about this one?"
"You know," Shirou began, pursing his lips as he did so. "It would probably be a lot quicker if I were to just select them myself."
"No," Alice shook her head instantly, a scowl appearing. "It's my fault that we are in this dilemma, and so it falls to me to fix it. No matter how long it takes." Her tail slapped the ground in what Shirou assumed was the snake equivalent of her stomping her foot. Alice paused, her eye wondering over to a monster accessory store where a sign boasted the most fashionable accessories for snake type monsters in the town. Shirou noted the way Alice's eyes lingered on a black and pink ribbon which apparently was meant to be placed on a lamia's tail.
Shirou also noted a small white triangle of satin and lace that looked kind of like a nubra next to a sign which boasted the shops wide selection of lamia panties, thus answering Shirou's earlier question about whether the species could wear them at all, and letting the author shamelessly plug one of his new favorite etchi romcom series, Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou. Oh Miya, you silly lamia you.
Still, despite Alice's obvious interest in the ribbon she bravely pulled her focus away, turning once more back to the cooking supplies. Internally, she berated herself. How could she even think of something so frivolous while matters of the stomach were on the line!
Shirou on the other hand did take note of it, as well as the fact that he might have been a little harsh on Alice earlier. He could remember a few pretty nasty incidents back when he was learning to cook himself, after all.
Sure, they hadn't involved Sith lightning and fifty foot craters, but there had definitely been hellfire and ice storms. How was he supposed to know that trying to melt a tin cup full of ice in a microwave would end up like that? The only one he had teaching him had been Kiritsugu, and his father's definition of cooking was big macs and coffee. As in big macs and coffee served together. As in big macs floating in coffee.
The ketchup always just got everywhere, and the way the buns absorbed the coffee…
Bad memories, Shirou. Bad memories.
"Tell you what," Shirou began, causing Alice to turn to pull her attention away from the combination cheese grater, can opener, and Julian fry cutter she was eying with suspicion. "Why don't I give you a list of items to gather together while I go run an errand real quick?"
"At last," Alice nodded as her and Shirou retired to the hotel after successfully completing the day's mission. "Now my chef is once more properly outfitted!"
"Yeah," Shirou nodded, happily already organizing his new kitchenware. "It's good to have the important things once more!" He paused, rubbing the back of his head sheepishly. "It's also good to get away from all the coliseum enthusiasts," he added. "I appreciate the fact that they can all tell I'm a skilled warrior, but the way they start giggling after suggesting I give the arena a try is a little weird. Shouldn't they be treating sacred battle with a little more dignity?"
"Hmph," Alice grunted, though her tail did pick up a bit now that her chef seemed happier. "Just make sure to thank me for my generosity later," she reminded Shirou as the situation somehow switched from 'her making amends for a grievous error' to 'her doing her chef a favor so he better be grateful' in her monster brain.
"Oh!" Shirou brightened, and reached into his pack and pulled forth a small package. "Actually, Alice, I'm very proud of the way you worked so hard today," he told the lamia, and Alice's eyes narrowed at the way her human was somehow indicating that he was the one who should feel proud of her achievements. It was supposed to be the other way around! "So here. Thanks for the hard work!"
"Hmph. Idiot," Alice snorted, but her distain did nothing to stop her from reaching for the box. It was a present, after all! When she opened it and found the same black and pink ribbon that she had been eying earlier, her eyes widened ever so slightly as her tail shot straight up in the air like a startled cats.
"I saw you looking at it earlier," Shirou admitted, rubbing the back of his head. Yeah, having a tell like that definitely helped in dealing with women who couldn't be honest with themselves.
For a moment it seemed like Alice completely forgot that she wasn't alone as she snatched up the ribbon and quickly fastened it to her tail. It took her three tries to get it on, seeing as she couldn't seem to stop her tail from wagging happily even as she tried to attach the accessory. Once it was on, Shirou was treated to the humorous sight of Alice slithering in circles continuously, her tail flicking behind her as she looked back at it so she could watch the way the pretty ribbon caught the light as she moved.
Shirou knew he shouldn't do it, but he couldn't stop a small snort of laughter at seeing the usually self-controlled Monster Lord prance around like a little girl.
Unfortunately, that snort was enough to bring Alice back to her senses.
"That did not just happen," she informed him coolly. Shirou quickly schooled his expression to a serious one, though his lips were still twitching.
"Of course not," he assured the lamia. Alice narrowed her eyes even further, her finally honed feminine instincts informing him that yes, the man in front of her was just humoring her.
It seems that she had been letting her human get entirely too uppity the last couple of days. Now that just wouldn't do.
Alice shot her tail out, capturing a Shirou who while surprised in retrospect berated himself for having should have seen this coming. Still, Alice made sure that the part of her tail with her pretty new ribbon on it would be out of the line of fire.
"Well then," Alice purred, a diabolical grin starting to spread. "Time for some training. Have I shown you what I can do with my hair yet?"
*Scene Break provided to you by whoever it was with way too much time on their hand to come up with this particular kink*
"Alice, what is your… eep!"
"Oh? Giving in already? What a pathetic man!"
"Pathetic my finally toned buttocks! Your hair just came alive and moved on its own! How is that in anyway natural… eep!"
"Oh? Letting it out already? Does my hair feel that good?"
"I thought women hated it when that stuff got in their hair… Wait. Is your hair absorbing my…"
"Isn't it quite something?"
"But how? It's hair! It's not like it's…. Alice, that really is hair isn't it? And not a million very thin tentacles attached to your head that just happens to look like hair?"
"You hesitated! Oh god, that is just so… eep!"
"Well, since you like my HAIR so much, why don't you try my flower?"
"Wait your flower? You mean that isn't just an accessory? As in it's actually part of you… EEEEEP!"
"It's been a while since my flower has gotten any nutrients!"
"Nutrients? Is that what you're calling it now… Eep! That is not an acceptable method of pollination!"
In which Alice learns the true nature of carnie food, Shirou finally snaps, and the Queen of Noh begins to suspect that she might have bitten off more than she could chew.
"Well, I guess all those strange townswomen were right," Shirou chirped as he sat comfortably stadium of the coliseum. "It's nice to see actual warriors fighting for once!" He glanced around, still confused about one thing. "But why is it only women seem to be in the stands?"
Shirou gave it a moment of thought, and then shrugged.
"I guess Noh's martial culture is so great that even bored looking housewives, rich and decadent looking noblewomen, and young apparently single girls are interested in fights!"
On Shirou's left, the refined looking woman who was sitting beside him and watching the fight with a disdainful eye snorted in response to his statement. On Shirou's right, Alice just ignored the fight so she could focus on the important things.
"It's delicious!" Alice chirped, looking satisfied as she perched herself on the bench with her tail in front of her. She had somehow shaped her snake appendage into a pseudo-bowl shape, and the hollow her tail described was already full of various arena food stand snacks.
Shirou was so used to his lamia companion's behavior that he paid it no mind, though the distinguished noblewoman that had snorted at him seemed disgusted at the display of gluttony.
"It's just too bad that it's amateur hour," Shirou continued, watching the fight between a centaur and a minotauros as it unfolded before him. So far the centaur had been agilely darting around the minotauros and landing continuous light hits against the much larger monster. "I'd really like to see a proper fight between two skilled opponents."
At this, the noblewoman paused, her apparent disgust at both Shirou and Alice's behavior interrupted by the casual statement.
"Not everyone can be at our level, Shirou," Alice reminded her chef, spraying bits of the funnel cake she was eating as she didn't bother to finish chewing before she countered Shirou's statement. "And shouldn't you be focused on more important things?"
"I know that not many people or monsters actually try to learn how to fight for real," Shirou acknowledged, his lips twisted in a pout as the monsters below continued to exchange blows which would be lethal and horrifying to most normal people. "It's just, well, as the center of a history of battle and a place which heralds a long distinct culture of fighting I was kind of hopping for more." At this the noblewoman gave him a strange look as he paused. Shirou didn't notice and instead turned to give Alice a curious look. "And what more important thing were you referring too?"
Alice rolled her eyes, annoyed at the thickness of her companion. "Shouldn't you be more interested in the arena food?" She pointed at the large selection of funnel cakes, hot dogs, pretzels, and nachos chips that she had collected earlier. "Aren't you the one who boasts that there is no recipe he can't improve?"
Shirou had never actually said that, truthfully. But he had sure implied it heavily in the past. Thus, Alice was surprised when Shirou just snorted.
"It's carnie food," he dismissed in a heartbeat. "I already know exactly how to complete those recipes."
"An impressive boast," Alice muttered, her eyes narrowing. "The food, while simple, is so packed with calories that I can feel my energy doubling as we speak. And yet you claim that you can make it even better? I would like to see you stake your pride on that boast, with your position as my chef on the line."
Alice truly felt that should be sufficient motivation for Shirou to follow through with her unsubtle request for even better food. After all, being the chef to the Monster Lord is no mean feat! If she didn't challenge her chef on occasion, then he might grow complacent, and that just wouldn't do.
"Excuse me," the noblewoman who had been earlier giving them annoyed looks interrupted the two. "But what do you mean?"
"Coliseum food is the same as any other types of food served at attractions or carnivals," Shirou elaborated. "That kind of food is simple by nature, meant to be produced quickly and easily. Though there is little variation, the basics remain the same as they are quick and convenient. The method to increasing their palatability is also simple in that…"
"Not that," the noblewoman interrupted, annoyed that Shirou had apparently thought she was asking about something as mundane as food.
"Quiet you," Alice ordered imperiously, having leaned forward as she watched Shirou intently throughout his lecture. "Important people are talking about important things. Now, continue, Shirou," she ordered. It was always fascinating to hear her chef talk about her favorite topic.
"I was referring to your earlier comment about this being 'amateur hour'," the noblewoman insisted, and by changing the topic again unknowingly earned herself a spot on 'Alice's not so happy list'. "You speak as though you actually have some insight in the battle."
"Well, it's not like it's hard to see," Shirou waved his hand dismissively at the battle in the center of the coliseum. To be fair, it was a fight that most people would find awe inspiring, but, well, Shirou was at the level of duking it out with Granberia. When compared to that, this fight kind of was like watching two kindergartners pull each other hair. "The minotarous favors her left, while having a shorthanded position on her ax. Because of that she's limited on her response time, and while her defensive capabilities might be compensating it's still sloppy. The centaur on the other hand can't seem to make a left turn to save her life, and so far considering her grip on her sword I'm kind of surprised she hasn't been disarmed yet. Not to mention…"
"Then don't mention and return to relevant topics," Alice cut in. "Now, about this improvement to the food…"
"I find it hard to believe that such casual statements are in any way based on fact," the noblewoman interrupted again, and Alice glared at her, adding a second strike under the 'Random Noblewoman who needs a new proscription on her glasses so she can see when she's not wanted' name on her list. "Do you have any way of proving your claims?"
"The fight will end in precisely twelve more moves with the minotarous winning," Shirou shrugged, already bored with the conversation. The noble woman blinked again, looking at the fight where the nimble centaur appeared to be dominating the battle effortlessly.
"Really, such a preposterous claim…" the noblewoman began only for Shirou to interrupt again.
"Eight more now." Shirou paused, only casually watching the battle. "Seven... Six… five," he updated. The noblewoman watched, matching each of the descending digits that Shirou announced to moves in the battle.
The moment Shirou's countdown reached 'one', sure enough the minotarous unleashed a devastating counter strike, destroying the centaur's defense entirely and sending her to the arena floor in a heap.
"My word!" the noblewoman gasped, honestly surprised that the apparent braggart beside her actually had been right. With measuring eyes and pursed lips, the noblewoman gave Shirou a studying look. "You must be a skilled fighter."
Shirou shrugged, not being quite showy enough to start bragging about his actual prowess, but knowing that denying the title would just be dissembling. "I get by," he finally allowed.
"Not without finishing your earlier explanation you won't," Alice muttered, the very tip of her tail twitching in frustration. She had already finished most of her snack food, and Shirou still hadn't told her how to make them better. If this kept up, she might just have to buy more so she would have something to eat while he continued his explanation.
Actually, that didn't sound like a bad idea to Alice at all. More food was good. The only thing better than more food was even more food.
"And what do you think about the next match?" the noblewoman pressed, glancing down as the new combatants entered the battle area. This time it was a monster against a human male.
"The monster will win," Shirou announced without a moments doubt. Then his eyes narrowed. "Though something is a little strange. The human should take as many as fifty moves to be defeated, but judging by his stance it looks like he's going to go down after only twenty… How odd."
The noblewoman grimaced, rising to her feet. She had heard enough. "I don't want to be here when that happens," she announced. She gave Shirou a cool look. "I would like to speak to you about something though, if you don't mind."
"Hm?" Shirou was already getting bored with the fight between the monster, a woman shaped thing again (obviously) whose head was apparently detached without detrimental effect and cradled in her arm (a species called a Dullahan, though he had no way of knowing that), and the human, a male with a huge ax that was apparently just for show. "Oh, sure."
It was because of his easy compliance that he was already out of the arena, Alice following after with two candy apples clutched in both hands and mouth too full to protest, that he wasn't there when the human was defeated, and thus missed the after show.
If he had waited until the end of the fight, than he would have been out of the town by the end of the night. Or snapped and gone on a massacre as even this one hope for an event actually devoted to true combat was denied to him.
Fortunately for the story, he wasn't there, and thus we can all laugh at him even harder later on.
"So," Shirou began, looking around the throne room curiously. "You're actually the queen of Noh?" Since this was the third, fourth including Alice, member of royalty that Shirou had met since he arrived on this strange world the novelty of the occurrence was starting to wear off and he couldn't muster more than an idol curiosity over how he just kept running into royals.
"Indeed," the Queen nodded, having changed into a much more elaborate dress before commencing the meeting. "As you can see," she continued, pressing on to the subject she wanted to address, "our country's coliseum has become something horrible. Only monsters ever win. Every so often a human contender will enter, but those matches only end in one way."
"Complete defeat," Shirou guessed, and the Queen of Noh nodded. Neither of them realized that the other was thinking of something completely different as a definition of 'complete defeat'.
"I would just like to see it once," the Queen lamented. "A human winning the coliseum. Every four years the 'Queen's Cup' tournament is held, and for once I'd like to see a human victor. I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this?"
"You want me to win?" Shirou guessed, mulling the thought over. On one hand, he could understand where the Queen was coming from. It would be nice to see a human getting actual acknowledgement as a credible fighting force for once, considering just what he had seen of his species so far in relation to monsters. On the other hand, it kind of felt unfair for him to enter such an unskilled selection of combatants.
"The prize this year is the royal family's 'Green Orb', handed down for generations," the Queen continued, incidentally adding an important plot element to this parody which had otherwise been ignored entirely through the rest of this fic. "I wish to give this to a human warrior. Would you please fulfill my dream?"
"Well," Shirou nodded, deciding to go through with it. "As a human warrior…" he tried to continued only to be interrupted as Alice, waiting calmly nearby suddenly interrupted him with a sharp elbow which buried itself deep into his kidney.
"Oof!" Shirou gasped, trying to get air back into his lungs. With narrowed eyes he glared at the lamia. Alice returned his look with a flat one of her own. The Queen paused, watching the two as she tried to figure out just what had happened. Once Shirou could talk again, he tried to finish his earlier statement.
"As a warrior…" Again, Alice's elbow struck. Again, Shirou tried.
"As a hero…" Thunk. Oof. Pause.
"As a combatant…" Thunk.
"Would you quit that!" Shirou finally demanded, glaring at Alice while forgetting that he was in the presence of a very confused queen.
"Not until you get the title right," Alice informed him, not looking at all put out by the chain of events. With a growl, Shirou tried one last time.
"As an adventuring…" this time, he blocked Alice's elbow with a heavily reinforced hand, backed by the weight of Gnome's earth element. It was enough, but only barely. Apparently Alice took her elbowing pretty seriously. "As an ADVENTURING CHEF," he emphasized, finishing his statement loudly. Alice paused, considered the compromise, and then slowly withdrew her elbow. "As an adventuring chef," Shirou sighed at having included the title Alice had decided on for him against his will, "I will be glad to help."
"An adventuring chef?" the Queen mumbled, wondering if maybe she had made a mistake in her selection over who she would endorse in the tournament. "Well," she muttered, "at least I have the other five suckers."
The Queen was the type who liked to stack the deck in her favor, after all.
The first real inkling that Shirou got that something was a bit off from his expectations was when he finally stepped into the arena on the first day of the tournament for the first match.
"Oh!" a female spectator, which Shirou noted again was the predominant gender of the onlookers. "What a cute little boy!"
Shirou was about to once more curse his strange change in age when the same spectator's next words caused him to freeze.
"I wonder how he's going to be raped!"
"Wait," Shirou muttered, turning to glare at the particular girl who had said that. "What did she…?" Shirou shook his head. "No, I must have misheard her," he decided.
"Oh! I hope he gets raped so hard!" a new female voice joined in, and Shirou twitched.
"I just can't wait to watch him get raped!" another woman chimed in happily. Again, Shirou twitched.
"The only reason I come is to watch the show afterward! I just love rape!" another chipper girl, this one looking about Shirou's apparent age and sounding entirely too happy for someone that age to be talking about a topic like that. This time, Shirou twitched twice.
"Oh," the monster who was to be Shirou's first opponent drawled in a sultry tone as she walked to stand opposite the frozen hero of the story. By strange coincidence, it was the Dullahan which Shirou had seen earlier right before the Queen had led him away to make her request. "What a cute little warrior. I'm looking forward to putting on a good show after you lose."
Something finally clicked in Shirou's head.
"Wait just one moment, please," Shirou began, sounding entirely too calm and reasonable for someone in his position. In fact, he sounded so sane that most other sane people after hearing such a tone would begin to back away slowly. "I'm afraid I might have been misinformed about something. Are you saying that when a human loses in the coliseum, they get raped as a part of the entertainment?"
"Didn't even know that?" the Dullahan asked, a little surprised by his ignorance. It was a generally accepted fact that the only reason men ever joined the tournament was to get a chance at some monster tail in front of an audience. "Well," the Dullahan concluded, and in a rare display for a monster actually felt a bit of sympathy for her future victim, "I'll be sure to be gentle for your first time."
It was another surprisingly kind offer for a species which really didn't have much in the way of restraint when it came to that kind of thing. It came as a bit of surprise to the (relatively) gentle Dullahan when Shirou twitched again, and then began to smile in an even more disturbing fashion.
"I can't make that same promise," Shirou decided. At long last the pressure of constant disappointment, the soul shattering assaults, the endless overt sexual passes, it all reached the boiling point in the otherwise kind and easy going Shirou.
And thus, Shirou finally reached his breaking point.
The Queen of Noh sighed as the sixth of her handpicked human combatants froze in the middle of the arena. Honestly, she hadn't been expecting too much from this one. Sure, he apparently had a good eye for combat, but honestly, he looked a little young to be a real warrior.
Not to mention he introduced himself as an adventuring chef. Chefs didn't really evoke much in the way of confidence when it came to combat.
The adventuring chef's companion had been invited to sit beside the queen when it had come time for his match, a gesture of kindness to the snake monster. The two had seemed close, judging from their interactions, and having the monster nearby when the kid got put on as a show gave the Queen a chance to offer a comforting word to the monster if needed.
And it ensured that the lamia wouldn't be able to interfere with the show afterwards as well. It wouldn't do for the people to get denied their amusement, after all. As a Queen it was her responsibility to see to her people no matter how distasteful their tastes.
And strangely enough considering how the rest of the world seemed to be, the Queen honestly did find the rape shows to be distasteful.
The queen was beginning to question their closeness though. Despite her companion's eminent rape, it seemed the lamia was more focused on staring at the two objects in front of her with narrowed eyes.
In one of Alice's hands was a funnel cake. In the other, was a salt shaker.
"I still don't see how just adding salt will make any of the coliseum snacks any better," Alice muttered, trying to decide if Shirou was just messing around with her or if salt really was all it took to make carnival food better.
"It seems that this will be over soon," the Queen sighed, wishing she had looked for more humans to enter. At her side, Alice nodded.
"You're right," the lamia decided. "Best to just try it and see." Deliberately, Alice shook some salt on to the funnel cake and then took a bite. Instantly, a shiver went down her tail, ending with her ribbon whipping back and forth in the air rapidly as she chewed and swallowed. "It DOES work!" Alice chirped.
"I was talking about the fight," the Queen deadpanned. The Dullahan had already begun to close with the young looking boy who had…
The queen blinked. At some point the adventuring chef had sunk that hideous, evil looking blade he carried with him into the sand of the arena and drawn forth two new swords entirely, one black and one white.
"Now where did he get those?" the Queen muttered, confused.
"They were always there," Alice commented off hand before focusing on more important matters. "Now, if one shake was enough to raise the flavor by twenty percent, what would two shakes do?" Slowly, Alice readied the salt shaker for the next experiment.
The Queen watched with ever widening eyes as the fight below her unfolded. She could make out random snippets of conversation as the rest of the onlookers fell silent, unable to speak at what they were witnessing.
"You want a rape show! I'll put on a rape show!" Surprisingly enough, this was the young chef who was speaking, and not the monster.
"Well, if you're just going to give in… Hey! My sword!" And that was the Dullahan.
"Oh, no complaints now! You signed up for this, didn't you!" Chef again.
"Signed up for… Hey! Ouch! W-w-wait! What… What are you doing!?" Dullahan once more.
"Giving the crowd exactly what they want!"
"H-h-hold on! This isn't the way it's supposed to be! It's supposed to be the man who… Eeep!"
"Well? Isn't this what they wanted! Are you not entertained?!"
"That isn't where a sword is supposed to go! And that's not the end that's supposed to be inside of me… EEP!"
"Oh, stop whining! Take what's coming to you!"
"Ahhh! No! Stop! You aren't supposed to use your weapons for the show! Not the metal ones anyway… EEEEEP! What are you doing to my head?! Where are you putting it!?"
"It's a show right? I'll let you watch!"
"No! Oh! Ohhhhh! Yes… I mean no! Not another sword handle! Iyannnn! Don't put it in there…. Eep! YESSSSS!"
"Well? How do you like that! Hora! Horahora, I say! Horahorahora!"
The Queen gulped. Well, she had been expecting a show. It's just it looked like she might have gotten the roles reversed in some way. The rest of the audience seemed similarly disturbed by the strange turn of events. However, it seemed like despite the fact that the man wasn't the one being put into uncomfortable situations it looked like a general wave of approval was beginning to swell.
As the cheering started to come again as Shirou unleashed months of pent up frustration and previously impotent rage upon the (un?)fortunate Dullahan, the Queen just had one question.
"Wait," she began, head beginning to tilt to the side as she tried to follow just what Shirou was doing to the monster that was rapidly coming to enjoy her (un)pleasant fate. "He is human, isn't he?"
"Sixty percent!" Alice chirped, the head of the salt shaker removed so that she could directly dip the funnel cake into the salt as she continued to experiment with Shirou's recommendation for improving the flavor of carnie food. She did give a dispassionate glance towards the arena before shrugging at the sight of Shirou finally unleashing the wrath of an entire pantheon of angry gods on a not so innocent bystander. "And don't worry about him. You see, he's a Shinto…"
And thus the Queen of Noh began to learn about the true faith of what those who cooked, kicked ass, and chewed bubblegum did when they were all out of bubblegum.
In which Shirou questions the path he has chosen, the Queen also questions the path she has chosen, and then Shirou discovers an effective way to deal with the horrors of life.
"I can't believe I did that," Shirou muttered with his head in his hands as he slumped in the waiting room. "I mean, really, that's what I'd expect out of Alice. I should be better than that. I should have more self-control as a warrior. Acceptable methods of defeating opponents should be limited to stabbing them repeatedly, not to degenerating to the level of the Monster Lord."
Alice, who had snuck into the waiting room for reasons she had not yet chosen to reveal narrowed her eyes to glare down at her chef. "I am right here," she pointed out to Shirou, her tail tapping against the floor much like a human's foot would tap.
"Oh," Shirou said, looking up to see that yes, the lamia really was there. Then he sank his head back into his hand. "I mean, if I were to become as bad as Alice, what does that say about me?" he continued, "As a hero I shouldn't have to sink to those kinds of levels. I mean, what if I start acting like her more and more? Is the world really ready for two Alice's in it? No one would be safe. No one!"
"Still here," Alice pointed out, the tapping of her tail increasing in speed as her eyes narrowed even further. She wasn't certain if Shirou was doing it on purpose, or if he was really just so out of it after realizing what he had done that he honestly wasn't registering her presence, but either way she would have to do something about it soon.
Now, how to encourage him further? He'd already come a long way in imitating the perfection that was her. He should be happier that he was maturing at such a rapid pace!
"Oh yeah," Shirou responded again, this time not even bothering to look at her. "Have I become so much like her that I'm hearing her voices in my head? Have I been corrupted so much? There has to be some way to undo the effect. Maybe if I went on a diet? Or started a charity? Or walked up to random people and said kind things to them? All of those are the complete opposite of what Alice would do…"
Okay, Alice still wasn't certain if she was being insulted or complimented, but either way it was time to snap her chef out of this. There were important matters to discus, after all.
"Ow!" Shirou yelped as Alice's tail smacked him across the back of his head. "What was that for?" he demanded, scowling at the lamia, apparently not even realizing the implication that she had been listening in to his self-berating.
"First, I wished to discuss the match," Alice admitted, slithering around the room in order to make herself comfortable. Shirou nodded, once more lowering his head in shame.
"There's no need," he assured the snake woman. "I don't know what came over me, but I swear, it will never happen again…"
"Good," Alice nodded. "You were entirely too straightforward," she continued her critique, pursing her lips as she recalled the brutal event that had happened in the arena earlier. "Next time make sure you take your time. You have to draw it out a bit more in order to really enjoy it. Also, you used the 'horahora' far too early, and completely out of context. You have to use it only when it would most fully shatter your target's pride."
Shirou stared blankly at the lamia, before releasing a sigh. He didn't think that trying to explain that he meant he would never do an act like that again rather than whatever it was Alice was thinking about would even be understood.
"That…" Shirou began, before he closed his eyes and decided to just let it pass. "Thank you Alice," he told the lamia in a robotic voice. "I'll keep that in mind for the future."
"See that you do," Alice nodded, before deciding to further encourage her chef. "It's not as easy I make it look, breaking someone like that," she consoled her no doubt disappointed chef magnanimously. "I received a great deal of training before I reached the level I hold."
"…" Shirou twitched. He really was certain that that was the kind of thing that shouldn't be bragged about, but then again this was the same monster who had boasted about her tail job skills of all things. "That's good to know, Alice," he told her again, wondering when it was that he had become a bad person.
After all, he must have sinned somehow to be punished like this. It was the only answer that allowed him to keep his faith in a benevolent universe.
"Was there something else?" Shirou asked, trying desperately to change the subject. "You did say that was only the first thing you wanted to talk about."
Alice nodded, and then thrust her hand out to Shirou, showing him the empty salt shaker. "I need more salt," she informed him, and Shirou was glad that at least this topic was one that he could deal with.
"Did you manage to try all the different types of snacks?" he asked, getting up so he could go to the corner with his supplies, preparing to restock the insatiable lamia with food stuffs.
"Yes!" Alice chirped, sounding entirely too innocent for someone who had just tried to give him advice on how to better assault other sentient beings as her tail began to wag again. "I feel so energized now!"
"Well," Shirou began, wondering if Alice feeling energetic was a good thing or a bad thing before shrugging it off. "You know, I was looking at the snacks they had available," he once more decided that the best thing he could do was just try to keep the conversation on topics he could deal with safely, "I noticed that they didn't have one particular type that was pretty common back home."
Alice paused, the idea that there might be a new flavor that she was missing out on causing her to freeze. "Shirou," she began seriously. "We must return to Illiasville immediately. A matter of vital importance has just arisen there."
Shirou rolled his eyes, not bothering to correct Alice when she assumed that Illiasville was his home town. "Don't worry," he told her dryly. "I know how to make it."
Alice relaxed, actually taking a moment to berate herself for her foolish suggestion. Of course the chef to the Monster Lord would be able to prepare any food. Why on earth would she even suggest returning to that dreary village?
"But…" Shirou began, his lips pursing again as he considered his newest recipe, "it does take some specialized equipment to make. Alice, I don't suppose you could…"
He turned to ask Alice if she was willing to gather up the supplies he would need only to discover that the door to the waiting area was ajar, and the guard who had been posted at it so that he wouldn't be able to cheat by peeking at the other fights was now face down on the floor, and had a mark not unlike a tire track going straight down his body where Alice had run him over in her haste.
Shirou suppressed a smile, and pulled a piece of parchment from the pack as well as more salt, beginning to jot a few small notes down on it.
Sure enough, a few moments later Alice returned, moving at a dignified pace as though she hadn't just ran out of the room so fast she forgot to get the list of items she was going to retrieve. Shirou noted that rather than go around the poor guard, who was beginning to twitch as he returned to consciousness, she simply went right back over him. Wordlessly, Shirou offered the parchment and salt, and with great dignity Alice took them from him.
The dignity didn't last past that as she instantly slithered around back to the door and once more took off at a rather unsafe speed, leaving yet a third track mark over the poor guard.
"Oh Alice," Shirou sighed, somehow having expected just that reaction. With another sigh, one which could either be amused or long suffering in nature, Shirou went to attend to the fallen guard.
"I suppose I must congratulate you," the Queen of Noh began, eying the young chef in front of her carefully.
"Um," Shirou began, wondering if this conversation was going to be going much like the last one he had about the match. He hadn't thought the Queen of Noh would be as enthusiastic as Alice had turned out to be considering his earlier activities, but he had long ago gave up hope of understanding this twisted dystopia he had ended up in.
"Though I had rather hoped that you would return dignity to the arena, rather than simply tilting the scales in the other direction," the Queen added bitterly a moment afterwards, and Shirou sighed in relief.
"Finally," he muttered, genuinely overjoyed at the chastisement. "Someone else in this world that can differentiate between right and wrong."
The Queen wasn't sure what to make of that statement, but decided to press on. "Anyway," she continued, "Though it makes me uncomfortable," she unnecessarily added in Shirou's opinion, "it seems that you were the only one of the challengers I scouted that made it past the day. Even worse," and here the Queen's frown had less to do with the nature of her chosen contender and more to do with her original goals, "it seems the undisputed champion enlisted in the Queen's Cup this year as well."
"She looks genuinely uncomfortable with the scene I presented earlier," Shirou noted to himself, finding himself growing more and more fond of the queen as his earlier 'Alice Moment' appeared to have put her off from him quite a bit.
He kinda liked that, actually.
"She calls herself Kyuba," the Queen bulled on, ignoring the way Shirou seemed to be reacting to her distain for him. "And is an incredibly skilled monster. She hasn't made an appearance in a while, so I had hopes that she wouldn't arrive this time…"
Internally, the Queen wondered just how this whole farce would turn out. On one hand, she really wanted to see a human take the cup for once…
On the other hand, she still hadn't decided if Shirou counted as a human.
Was Shinto really that powerful a faith? It's just, well, cooking as a tenant…
How did that translate into fighting ability?
As the queen continued to unconsciously demonstrate herself to be the most rational member of the world, Shirou just shook his head, deciding to focus on the conversation finally.
"Whoever the opponent is, I will win," Shirou declared solemnly. Mostly because at this point he was very near the limit of not being able to care anymore, though his desire to help the Queen achieve her goal remained. That, and he really wanted to prove to both man and monster that combat should not end in sticky fluids besides blood!
He wasn't really doing that well in that regard at this point. If he knew just how many of his original viewers were even at this moment excitedly discussing just how fresh and original it was to see the male doing the raping, he would probably have no choice but to stab himself in the heart.
He'd use Angel Halo, so it wouldn't be suicide, but he really wouldn't be able to help himself from stabbing something. He was just the best target he could identify at this moment. And really, maybe being a scarecrow wouldn't be that bad? Then again, considering his nature, he might end up sealed as a sword, but that might be even better!
"Well," the Queen began, wondering if she should follow through with her intentions of giving her champion insider information on the former champ or just leave him to be defeated. In the end, she decided that maybe she should just let this fight go through without any more interference.
She really wasn't sure if Shirou winning actually counted as a human winning, so it still kinda felt like a loss to her regardless.
"Good luck," the Queen finally settled on, and turned to leave. Shirou had already taken note of her discomfort in his presence, and let her departure occur without further word.
However, the head that peaked out after the queen had left had his attention, in more ways than one.
"So," Shirou began awkwardly as he identified both the torso and the head being held very low with its hair grasped firmly as the Dullahan he had previously became, ahem, acquainted to as she peeked at him from around the frame of his door. "Can I help you?" he awkwardly asked the monster he had done inhuman things to earlier.
Honestly, the guard should be stopping these kinds of meetings, but since he was currently being studied by doctors for the odd marks on his back he really couldn't be up to his kind of job and thus clandestine meetings prevailed all around. Even if he was, the Dullahan was actually a high ranking member of the Queen's personal guard, and she could have pulled rank if she wanted to.
"Uhhhh," the Dullahan began, a clear blush on her cheeks obvious as she tried to find the words. "I just want to say thank you!" she finally declared, slowly peeking out further from behind the door frame she was hiding in. She began to shyly push the fingers of her hands together, though since she was holding her own head at the moment that involved them digging into her ears in a strange way.
"Thank me?" Shirou echoed, wondering just where that particular tidbit had come from. If someone had done to him what he had done to her, then thanks would be nowhere near his appropriate response.
For some reason, Shirou was completely successful in avoiding remembering just what Alice had done to him in the past, and how despite that he was still traveling with her. It seemed his luck stat had finally come into play in a significant fashion.
Dodging that mess of trauma was even harder than dodging Gae Bolg.
"It's just," the Dullahan continued, fidgeting in an embarrassed manner, "the way you staked my head on to a sword hilt, and then my body to the ground before filling my every orifice…." The Dullahan gave a brief shudder of joy as she remembered the orgasmic… (no, traumatizing! She meant traumatizing!) experience, "it was just so unmanly!" she finally gushed, no longer able to hold it back.
Shirou sat absolutely still for a moment, not sure how to respond to that.
"Unmanly?" he finally echoed, his voice dull. Something deep inside him realized that this conversation might just push him beyond even the display he had given earlier. If something wasn't done, than the trauma might only expand.
"Yes!" the Dullahan squealed happily, beginning to cradle her head like a girl would a doll as she spun happily. She had no idea that she had just become the straw which could proverbially break the camel's back. Internally, she scolded herself. She scolded herself most strenuously.
A monster not being the one who pinned down the partner against their will and ravished them horribly? Who in turn was instead being forced horribly into acts so deviant that they shattered the soul? A male forcing a female?
Surely nothing like that had ever occurred before! It was so deliciously perverted against the natural order of things!
"Normally males just squeal, give in, and then live with the shame haunting them throughout their lives, echoing their every movement," the Dullahan somehow managed to make this sentiment not seem like a soul shattering assault and more like a natural course of things. Shirou twitched in response. "But the way you defied the normal way of things, and bent me to your will as though I was a man," again Shirou shuttered, and the Dullahan did so as well though for a different reason, "Oh! I'm such a naughty monster!"
And thus, blushing like a school girl, the Dullahan fled, cradling her cheeks in her hands as she giggled naughtily. Oh, she hoped she could fight that boy again. Next time, maybe he'd bend her over his knee, in front of all the city and…
"Squeee!" the Dullahan emoted, passing an observant Alice as she gave in to her unnatural desire to be ravaged by a normal human.
"Idiot," was all Alice could respond. She huffed, folding her hands under her chest as she continued to go and check on her chef. Behind her, wrapped in her tail, was a sack of the equipment that Shirou had requested she retrieve. She almost had made it to his cell when a loud 'THUNK' noise echoed through the corridor. Alice raised an eyebrow, but made no effort to hurry to Shirou's quarters. Another 'Thunk' occurred only moments later.
Naturally, what she found there once more prompted a sigh and an echo of her previous statement.
"Uh," Shirou began, looking blearily around. "Where am I?" He sounded confused, and a small trail of blood was going down his forehead. He frowned, trying to recall what had happened. "What's going on?"
Wordlessly, Alice pointed behind him, and the confused chef turned around to find that someone had apparently wrote a message to him in ink on the wall, right next to a suspiciously large fracture in the stones of the wall.
"Shirou," Shirou began reading the message, eyes narrowed in confusion, "You have heard something which you could no longer bear to know. In order to continue on afterwards, you decided you needed to erase the memory through any means available. Thus, you wrote this message to remind yourself NOT to try and recover yourself, and then bashed your head into the wall. Hopefully, full amnesia has set in. If not, just smash your head right on the 'X' again. Sincerely, Shirou."
Sure enough, just under the fracture on the wall a faded 'X' was visible. After having read the message, Shirou finally nodded.
"Yeah," he confirmed. "I'd been planning that for a while." He pursed his lips, trying to recall what it was that had drove him to such lengths, and brightened when he found that he had no recollection of what had caused him to inflict massive blunt trauma on himself. "And it works!" he cheered happily.
Alice gave her idiot chef a glare, and decided to clear up the important things first.
"If that made you forget what these were for, then I shall hurt you. I shall hurt you most grievously," she told Shirou, holding up the sack of goods she had hunted for. Shirou gave her a confused look, and then brightened.
"Right!" he declared, rolling up his sleeves. "Just what I need to make a bad day better. The chance to cook!"
Alice would never admit it to anyone, but just hearing her chef say something like that always made her a bit wet.
In which more of the great teachings of Shinto are revealed, Alice learns the perils of escalation, and Tamamo learns the truth of Shirou's kitchenmancy skills
Shirou took a deep breath, preparing himself for what came next. It was the second day of the tournament, and so far he had managed to refrain from any more… lapses like with the Dullahen. He had fought with dignity, and with honor, and more importantly, without sticking the wrong end of the sword into anyone else. Even if none of the other monsters had done the same.
Seriously. If he didn't know any better, he would have sworn he heard one of the heads of that cerebus muttering something about wondering what it would be like to 'be his bitch'.
"One more fight," he muttered to himself, truly starting to hate this coliseum, and in fact, most of the region of Noh. This was the final fight, with the reigning champion. Surely, this monster at the least would be a creature dedicated to true combat, not to just playing around and having sex. This one at least had to be a real fighter! "Just one more fight, than I'm outta here."
And so Shirou strode forth, stepping into the bright light and the roaring crowds, not looking at the many banners proclaiming such slogans as 'Three hilts, one hole!' and 'Hurray for Reverse Rape', as well as one particularly disturbing sign that had an arrow pointing at the holder and the words 'I'm still a virgin! Rape me next!'
"Also," Shirou noted to himself, "I think I'm growing to detest the word 'rape' just in general…"
"Too bad than, Shirou-chwan!" Shirou froze, Angel Halo slipping from nerveless fingers.
"No," he whispered, a sweeping wave of cold bringing out goose bumps.
"Meeting in a place like this!" the voice sounded so happy, but the happiness was a lie.
"No no no," Shirou insisted, refusing to look at the speaker.
"We're going to have so much fun!" the voice seemed oblivious to the dread it brought in him. Or rather, it seemed to know, and just find the dread that much more amusing. "Sweaty grappling, techniques and limbs colliding, intermixing…"
"No no no no no no no no no!" Shirou started shaking.
"Forget all your troubles, Shirou-chan," Alma Elma declared, the Queen of Succubae and reigning champion of the coliseum grinning at her favorite play toy. "Let's just have fun in a match!"
"Noooooooooo!" Shirou screamed, falling to his knees and shaking his fists at the heavens.
*Scene Breaking just as hard as Shirou's fragile grasp on sanity*
"You know," the Queen of Noh began, watching the strange boy screaming on the sand, "I think those two have met before."
The Queen paused, giving the boy's companion a chance to fill her in on the history between the boy and the Coliseum's undefeated champion. When none came, she looked over and sighed as she saw the snake woman eating. AGAIN.
Then she blinked. "What on earth is that?" she peered at the strange new treat that the snake woman was munching on happily.
"My chef called it 'cotton candy'," Alice chirped happily, her tail casually working a crank on the machine that was spinning and creating the sweet confection. Both her hands were already full, each clutching two full sticks of the fluffy looking treat. "And I have already decided that I shall invent a new rank, something between baron and Monster Lord, in order to reward him for it!"
Down below, the voices of Shirou and Alma Elma rang out.
"Tee hee! Come on, Shirou-chan! I heard so much about how you like to stick your swords into innocent young monsters. Why don't we skip the fighting and try out something fun?"
"Excellent idea! Know what would be fun? Watching your blood seep out of your decapitated corpse! Stand still and let me have fun!"
"Right," the Queen of Noh wasn't certain if the boy or his companion was more disturbing at this point. Still, she eyed the strange treat carefully even as Alice continued to bite into the cotton candy at a rapid and steady pace. "I don't suppose that I could try some of that…."
"No," Alice lost her cheerful tone and turned to give a dead look at the queen. "If you try I shall destroy your subjects, your castle, every distinguishing trait of your kingdom, and then leave you alive to weep your fate for the rest of your miserable life. I've already decided that once I've finished, I will break this machine so that no one else will ever be able to taste it, and forever treasure the memory as one of the secret joys of my life."
"Oh!" Alma Elma's voice sounded scandalized, and loving it. "Shirou-chan plays rough! Did you just figure out how to play with the wind?"
"If by 'play' you mean 'come one step closer to forever ending your existence' than yes. I have learned how to play so hard right now," Shirou's response echoed through the arena.
Somehow, the Queen of Noh suspected that either of those reactions alone would have been enough for her to distinguish just which of the two disturbed her the most. That they were both delivered nearly simultaneously only kept the two in a steady tie in her mind.
"Your companion seems to have something personal against the reigning champion," the queen noted, hoping to change the subject as quick as humanly possible.
"It's because she's a succubus," the once more cheerful lamia explained, finishing off one of the handfuls of cotton candy. "Since succubae only need the semen of man and no other sustenance, they are the traditional enemies of Shinto everywhere."
The Queen stopped absolutely still. Slowly, she turned to stare at the lamia to find her unlikely companion to be staring hard at the last handful of cotton candy, rubbing her chin in thought as though pondering something momentous.
"Really?" the Queen asked in a flat voice. Out of everything she had heard so far, somehow, this seemed to be the most outrageous to her.
"Since cooking is one of the greatest tenants of the Shinto faith, something that has no need of cooking is truly outrageous," Alice declared, nodding in certainty. It had taken her a while to figure that much out, but she was proud that she had. Sometimes she wished Shirou would be a little more forthright about his faith, but hey, he kept spending his time making delicious cake rather than talking, so she couldn't really blame him.
However, Alice promptly dismissed that train of thought. Something had just occurred to her…
"Wow! Where do all these swords keep coming from? Well, it's too bad that you can't hit me with them!"
"Oh, I will. Just don't look up for another thirty seconds or so."
The Queen blinked, the conversation in the arena catching her ear for a moment. She noticed that it seemed a bit shady out for some reason, and slowly she looked up.
"Really?" she said again, staring at the hundreds of swords which were appearing above the arena, a vast armory that was slowly populating the sky thick enough to block out the sun.
"Really," Alice said flatly, though she didn't bother to look up. In one hand she was holding the cotton candy, and in the other a salt shaker. "Shirou did say that salt makes all carnie food better," she contemplated, eyes narrowed in deep thought as she slowly brought the salt shaker closer and closer to the cotton candy. Would it really work? The combination of salty and sweet….
Dare she? On one hand, if it failed it would ruin this godly new food. But if it worked…
If it worked…
"Uh… Wow. Shirou-chan. Are you sure that's a good idea? You might hit yourself too…"
"And if I die, I will rest easy in whatever hell I find myself, knowing that my death was for a worthy cause!"
"I give up, I give up! Hehehe, Shirou-chan is as fun to play with as always!"
"That's it," the Queen of Noh decided. "Looks like I failed again. No way is that a human. No way at all."
Alice said nothing, slowly bringing the salt covered stick of cotton candy closer and closer to her mouth.
"You mean it? You really give up?" Shirou sounded inordinately hopeful about the possibility that soon the succubus would be somewhere far, far away.
"Right after I do this!"
"Don't touch me there! That's it! Swords fall, everyone dies!"
"It really does work!" Alice squealed with a distinctly girlish tone. "Thirty percent, at least…." She trailed off as she finally glanced away from her experiment to take note of the predicament her chef had found himself in. After a moment, she found the appropriate response.
"Idiot," she muttered as the avalanche of steel came down.
"We never speak of this again," Shirou declared, storming out of Noh. He didn't care if his clothes were ripped to the point where he had been assaulted by monsters three times between the castle and the gate. He was in a stabby mood at the moment, and the stress relief did help.
Just not enough.
"The queen did seem upset," Alice noted idly. "She threw the green orb at your head and told you to get out."
"Don't care," Shirou declared gruffly. "Now, never talk of this horrible disappointment of an example of a failure of a warrior culture again."
"Oh?" the monster part of Alice was quite insistent on the fact that yes, they would most likely be discussing these events at great length in the upcoming days. "Not even the part where you…"
"You know, I think I forgot something in San Irelia," Shirou declared suddenly. "It's absolutely essential to me if I'm going to continue to cook. Why, I don't think I could bear to make anything until we get back there."
"Noh? The word sounds familiar, but for some reason I can't seem to recall where I heard it. It's probably not important," Alice immediately backtracked. "Now, let's go somewhere else. I've heard good things about the Yamatai region. They have these things called 'soba' that I've heard good things about."
"Exactly," Shirou agreed. Even as the two of them left the city, Alice gave her companion a sideways look.
She would never admit it, but seeing Shirou coldheartedly blackmail her like that…
"Hmmm," Shirou glanced around, taking in the snow covered peaks casually. "That old man said he went to Yamatai for vegetables. This doesn't really seem like vegetable weather…"
"Snow," Alice said bluntly. "Hm. Snow. Hmph. Snow."
"Alice," Shirou began, taking in the way Alice's tail once again gave her away. Even as he watched, it was starting to form a small ball of the abundant snow, and was rolling it until it got bigger and bigger. "Is this the first time you've ever seen snow?"
"That's right," she declared. "It's the first time. It's not like I would get excited by it or anything."
Shirou stared at Alice. Alice stared at Shirou. Shirou stared at Alice's tail. Alice turned to stare at her tail as well.
Alice's tail finished sticking a carrot that it had stolen out of one of Shirou's cooking packs onto the small snowman it had made while they were talking.
Shirou turned back to Alice. Alice turned back to Shirou. Both pretended not to notice as sticks were added to the snowman.
Finally, Shirou spoke up.
"Say," he said. "Have you ever made a snow angel before?"
"What a childish thing," Alice declared. Shirou looked at her tail. It had started to wag again.
"Let me show you how it's done," Shirou decided.
"Well," Shirou nodded, "back to the travel!"
"Hmph," Alice folded her arms, looking for all the world as though she hadn't just spent the last hour frolicking in the snow.
"Don't worry," Shirou reassured her with a smile. "Once we reach the top, I'll show you how to sled."
"As though I would care about something so trivial!" Alice declared. This time she was ready though, and when her tail started wagging again she was already perched over it.
"Of course," Shirou reassured her, turning to lead the way. Then he hesitated.
He had had an idea. It was a horrible idea. One he would pay for, of that he had no doubt. Yet still, he couldn't quite keep the gruesome thing from lodging in his thoughts.
Ah, hell. He was going to die for this, but it might just be worth it.
"Hm?" he peered ahead as though he had just seen something. "Is that a rabbit? I have a recipe I've been meaning to try…"
"Where?" Alice instantly snapped to attention. Turning, she tried to find the small furry creature that would soon be both delicious and in her belly.
She paused when a moment later a snowball struck her clean across the jaw.
Slowly, she turned to where her chef was standing, stroking his chin in satisfaction.
"You realize, of course, that this means war?" she asked casually.
"Yeah," Shirou nodded slowly. "Still worth it though.
*Scene Break again*
'Still worth it," Shirou continued to reassure himself. He paid no mind to the countless, endless barrage of snow that continued to beset him.
Alice had taken to the new snow fun time with what could either be considered 'enthusiasm' or 'unending dedication to an overwhelming desire to crush her opponent'.
"Just think of that one perfect snowball," Shirou told himself, trying to ignore the way all of his limbs were completely covered with snow, adding at least six inches to every part of his body save for his eyes. "Yeah, just keep thinking of that," Shirou nodded and plodded forward, unminding of the way that even though they were almost clear of the mountain Alice continued to pelt him almost continuously with the soft powdery substance. He felt kind of like an extra from a 'Frosty the Snow Man' movie.
"Hey," Shirou turned to see what appeared to be two more elves, one a ninja and the other some sort of fetish samurai. "We don't take kindly to strangers in these here parts," the samurai began before the ninja elbowed her.
"Can't you see that's just an ugly Yuki-onna?" the kunoichi sighed, palming her head. The samurai seemed to think about that for a moment.
"We don't take kindly to ugly Yuki-onna in these here parts!" the samurai tried again, glowering at Shirou anyway.
"Oh shut up and let's go practice our dueling banjo," the ninja declared grabbing the samurai by the arm and pulling her away.
"But I wanna make it squeal like a pig!" the samurai complained as they disappeared.
Shirou wasn't quite sure how to respond to that particular encounter, but he quickly forgot about it when something hard impacted his head.
"Is that a rock?" he yelped, rubbing the small bruise as his eyes narrowed to take in the mid-size pebble that Alice had put in that snow ball. "Alright, if that's how you want to play it," he growled…
Alice watched as Shirou pulled another sword out of nowhere and began to deliberately cover it in snow. Then she looked back to the pile of rock snowballs she had prepared. Finally, she put the snow ball with two rocks that she had been preparing to throw at Shirou back down.
"Snow," she declared, sniffing. "It's not like I would do something so childish as to play in it."
She did decide it might be prudent to wait until either Shirou had thawed out, or he put down the now enormous snow covered sword away before she came out.
Just in case.
"Ah!" Tamamo cheered happily, her nine tails swishing behind her. "Tis been a while since last I've seen my home town! I wonder if anything's changed!" The nine tailed Queen of Foxes was merrily skipping along, without a care in the world. The sun was shining, the air was warm, and she was going to happily visit the village where she was born, Yamatai. It would be like old times, back when she was only a century or so, so young and fresh.
After all, nothing changed in Yamatai!
Still, when she arrived in the village she wasn't greeted with the customary, 'Oh! Mighty Fox!' that the villagers typically used to greet one of their sacred beasts. In fact, she wasn't greeted at all.
"Verily, where is everyone?" Tamamo wondered, glancing around curiously. Her keen fox ears twitched, letting her know that many voices were coming from the village square. With a grin, she hopped, jumping dozens of feet into the air clearing a few houses and landing with a flourish. "Now, what is…"
She blinked, trailing off. "Now this I most certainly did not expect," she decided.
Most of the village had gathered together, including Shirohebi the snake priestess and Nekomata the enshrined cat girl, to watch as one of the elder woman of the village cooking furiously in some sort of competition with…
"Shirou-chan?" Tamamo blinked, staring at the Monster Lord's pet human as he furiously cooked under the watchful eyes of the villagers. Blinking, the fox looked around, trying to figure out how this unusual scene seemed to have come about. "What on earth is going on?"
"When we arrived, Shirou proclaimed that he already knew all the recipes to offer here," Tamamo jumped, turning to find Alice directly behind her. The lamia had a tray off rice balls in one arm and was casually eating as she watched with serious eyes as the cooking progressed. "At first, the old lady didn't seem to believe him, and then he whipped up some rice balls. After she tried it, it was decided that they would need to fight for the title that the best chef in the village has."
"The village has a title for best chef?" Tamamo blinked, not having heard that before. "What is it?"
"Iron Chef," Alice nodded. She was still chewing on the rice balls contently, watching as her chef slaved away for her stomach. "It seems a bit silly, but they claim it's traditional.
"Well tis no tradition I recall," Tamamo muttered. She eyed the rice balls curiously. "Twas the rice balls truly so special? They seem quite normal to me."
Alice's eyes narrowed as Shirou's skill was called into question. Grudgingly she held the plate out to the Queen of Foxes. However, when Tamamo reached for one she quickly tugged it out of reach.
"Hey!" Tamamo cried, jumping up to try and grab the tray only for Alice to move it again. Alice began to smile, enjoying the chance to tease a fox. Finally, Tamamo stopped and gave Alice a stern glare. The lamia managed to endure it for a whole thirty seconds before she wilted.
Tamamo nodded, glad that Alice was still intimidated by her after all these years. Proved she raised her right!
Then she took a bite of the rice ball.
"This…" she froze, staring down at the innocent treat. "Tis nearly as good as thin fried tofu!" She took another large bite of it, freezing again. "And what is this? A pickled plumb within? Tis genius!" She finished the ball with one more bite, before turning to eye Alice's plate. The lamia shrank even more, trying to curl around the plate protectively before Tamamo's eyes narrowed. Slowly, Alice handed over the whole plate.
Though she could not stand up to the one who had raised her since a child, Alice vowed then and there to pull extra hard on the tails of all foxes that she came across hereafter.
"Thou seems in good order," Tamamo finally greeted the newly crowned Iron Chef Shirou as she bounced over. She gave the crying old lady a commiserating look, before focusing instead on the more interesting human.
"Ah, Tamamo," Shirou greeted with a smile, apparently not the least bit put off by having one of the four Heavenly Knights nearby. He was getting pretty used to them, after all. "How have you been?"
"Hehe, so polite!" Tamamo giggled, playing with her fan. "I've been well, thank you for asking. And thou?"
"Well," he shrugged. "I agreed to be sacrificed to the eight headed monster that's terrorizing the village later, but besides that I've been well."
"Eight headed monster?" Tamamo blinked, not quite sure what he was talking about. "What is that about?" Maybe she should have talked to the village elder earlier, rather than making sure to eat all the rice balls right where Alice could see her doing it.
"Apparently it set up shop here a few years ago and now demands human sacrifice," Shirou shrugged as though he were talking about the weather. "So I volunteered for the sacrifice so I can go stop it."
"Tis most admirable," Tamamo noted, tapping her chin with her fan. If some monster were here, screwing with her home town, she would have to do something about it herself. However, this human had managed to beat a seven tail. Maybe he would be able to handle it on his own?
"Oh, yeah," Shirou snapped his finger as though remembering something. "You foxes like thin fried tofu, right?" Tamamo blinked, suddenly remembering the other reason Shirou always seemed to stand out in her mind. She recoiled, eying him warily. Surely he hadn't been able to uncover the secret fox recipe! "Here you go."
Tamamo eyed the tofu warily. Part of her feared the tofu, feared it most dreadfully. What if he had managed to do it? She nearly turned away, thinking it better to not know, but still…
It was thin fried tofu! She could not resist! The fox deep inside her demanded it.
Slowly, with shaking hands, she bit into the tofu.
Shirou watched as a shiver started on one of her tails, traveled from the tip to the base and then seemed to pass on to the next tail, going all the way up and then all the way down before repeating the process. It took about two minutes for the shiver to get all the way to the final tail.
Worried, he tried to make excuses for his tofu. "It would have been better, but you see, all of my sea salt came down with a bad case of explosions…"
"It could have been better?" Tamamo whimpered, unable to take another bite, too consumed with coming to the realization of the beauty of the first bite. This wasn't the sacred fox recipe. This was better! How was that possible!
Normally Shirou would be pretty confident about the results of his cooking, but seeing Tamamo's reaction was a little off putting. He had been expecting something a little more positive, all things considered. Still, if the foxes' recipe for tofu really was as complicated a thing, maybe he had just failed…
No. Shirou did not fail. Not in the kitchen.
"That really was just from the control batch," Shirou firmed his resolve. For cooking, he would go to any means! "I also prepared several other different batches as experiments." He quickly whipped out an entire tray, stacked high with dozens upon dozens of gleaming (in Tamamo's eyes anyway) pieces of thin fried tofu. "I can guarantee that these will be at least fifteen percent better!"
"Fifteen percent…" Tamamo trailed off, both hands and most of her tails moving forward against her will, mouth open and a bit of drool starting to come as the entranced fox started to move to what would no doubt be the culmination of her very existence, the only reason she had survived over four hundred years and the only reason she'd need to live another five hundred if needed and was about to take the very first of the godly tofu for her belly…
When quite suddenly the tray vanished before her eyes.
"What!" Tamamo yelped, looking around desperately until she managed to catch sight of the tray. "Monster Lord, what art thou doing?" she blinked, confused as she watched the lamia smirk down at her, pushed up on her tail so that she could smirk with extra height, holding the tray high above Tamamo's head. The fox froze as Alice's smirk widened.
Then Alice grabbed an entire handful of tofu and stuffed it all into her mouth, already reaching for the next. Tamamo squealed in alarm.
"Wait! Wait wait wait! Thou cannot mean to eat it all!" the fox tried to jump to grab the tray, trying to free the precious tofu, but Alice just lifted the tray higher, keeping it just out of reach as she ate even more of the tofu. "Stop! Stop that right now!" Tamamo seriously considered attacking the Monster Lord, or maybe using some of her power to let her leap up and rescue the poor tofu, but what if she caused the tray to spill? All that tofu, falling on the ground…. "Gimme!" Alice smirked wider, no doubt enjoying the chance to mess with the fox. Tamamo's eyes started to moisten with big childish tears her arms waving furiously about her. "Wawawawawa! Alice is a big meanie!"
Shirou watched as the Monster Lord continued her childish game of 'keep away', and the Heavenly Knight of the Earth as she started to cry and wave her arms about like a kid the age she looked, and sighed.
"These are two of the strongest creatures on the planet?" he asked himself, feeling very, very tired at the moment.
*Scene Break, mostly so I don't have to write the full confrontation. I mean, it would have been epic in nature, a folk tale passed down for generation in the Yamatai region, the final battle between the Mighty Snake and the Mighty Fox, but really, I just wanted to get to the next gag, and thus the break, ya know?*
"There," Shirou soothed the still crying Tamamo, though now the tears appeared to be happy ones as the little fox munched her way through a new plate of tofu. Tamamo was so focused on the tofu that she didn't even seem to notice that Alice was pulling on one of her tails so hard that she was actually lifting the fox off the ground in what amounted to the closest thing to a wedgie you could give to a creature that both had a tail and never bothered to wear underwear. "Is that better?"
For her part, Alice was feeling much better, though she had to admit pulling on a fox's tail just wasn't as fun when the tail owner wasn't paying her any mind. Still, it was immensely satisfying, all on its own, and so she continued.
"Wawawawa," Tamamo sniffled a bit, but soon even the last of the tears were gone, replaced by a happy smile and a very conspicuous, "Nom nom nom!"
The Fox Queen was in heaven! There was no other way to describe what it was to have so much wonderful tofu! This Shirou, he might have been interesting before, a nominally amusing human that the Monster Lord allowed to hang around with her, but now Tamamo realized the true potential of this messenger of the gods given form that had appeared before her with delicious thin fried tofu.
There was an ancient title, held secret by the fox clans, a title only used for those who have done some great service to the clans, whose presence could never be seen as anything but a blessing. It was a rarely granted title, and any who were bestowed it would forever have the allegiance and the aid of every fox in the world.
Knowing that this title, this sign of sacred nobility, could belong to none other than the one who had provided her with delicious tofu, Tamamo came to her decision.
"Can I call you Onii-chan?" the four hundred year old nine tailed fox asked Shirou seriously, requesting the right to bestow the title upon him.
Shirou blinked, shrugged, and unaware of just how much he was about to complicate his life, nodded. "Sure," he told the queen.
At that moment, one of the villagers behind Shirou whirled, pulling a knife. "Forgive me, stranger," they cried preparing to stab the perfectly calm Shirou. "But the sacred title of Iron Chef must never be dishonored by going to one not of this village!"
Shirou raised an eyebrow as he watched the clumsy villager try to kill him. It wasn't the most outlandish reasons for an assassination attempt he'd ever heard, but it was pretty close. He gave the knife and idle glance, not really intimidated in the least, and was about to casually block the strike when a blur happened. He wasn't quite sure what happened next, but it ended with the villager hanging from one of the roofs by the back of his shirt, looking equally confused and covered in bruises.
"Don't bully Onii-chan!" Tamamo declared, latching on to Shirou's leg possessively. Alice blinked, staring at the empty space where Tamamo had been hanging only seconds ago. Even as a Monster Lord she had to admit the speed the Queen of Foxes had displayed was impressive.
"Well," Shirou declared, looking down at the newly evolved specimen of ancient moe cuddling his knee happily. "That was convenient. I guess."
*Later that night*
"Traveler," the unimpressively named 'Young man A' declared, holding a stick as he ambushed the bemused Shirou as he prepared to go to the sacrifice procession. "I hear that you have been chosen as the sacrifice.
"We can't allow someone not of this village to bear such a burden!" his companion, 'Young man B' declared passionately.
"We won't kill you," 'Young man D' declared, his close busum buddy from the days of his youth, 'Young man C' nodding grimly. "But the responsibility should fall to me! No outsider should have to bear this burden!"
"You all just want to go have fun with a monster girl for a year," Shirou sighed, even as the four perverted villagers started to argue over who should be the sacrifice. He glanced down at Angel Halo. "Have I mentioned just how convenient having a sword that doesn't kill really is?"
Even as Shirou started to raise the cursed blade, he blinked as another of those strange blurs occurred, and a moment later the four young men were in a pile at the side of the road.
"Don't bully my Onii-chan!" Tamamo declared from where she was standing on the pile of unconscious bodies, stomping her small feet sternly. Shirou gave the new development a cautious look.
"Well," he mused doubtfully. "I guess that's still convenient, I suppose."
*And yet again, later on."
"Oh," the Yamata no Orochi purred from one of its human like torsos, "this year's sacrifice is a cute boy too!"
"Come closer," another of those heads hissed, flicking her tongue at Shirou lasciviously. "There's no need to be afraid."
"I'll drown you in pleasure," a third head reassured him.
"Should she be using the singular pronoun, or the plural pronoun?" Shirou mused to himself, scratching the back of his head in confusion before shaking it off and readying his blade. "I'm not here as the sacrifice! I'm here to stop you!
"Stop me?" the heads all started to laugh. "How amusing! I suppose a little play time before the fun starts is never a…"
This time, Shirou managed to make out the blur as Tamamo appeared out of nowhere, launching herself head first like a little human shaped missile and slamming into the surprised eight headed monster with enough force to send it rocketing across the cave and slamming into the wall with debilitating force. It caused the cavern to rock so much that Shirou had to spontaneously develop a new method of using Gnome's power to keep his footing.
"Onii-chaaaaaan!" the fox shouted her war cry as she one hit k.o.-ed the other monster with her head.
"Yeah," Shirou finally decided with a sigh. "That's going to get old, really fast, I can feel it."
*And back at the village…"
"This Shinto sounds quite amazing," the village elder mumbled softly, scratching his chin in thought. Many of the other gathered villagers also seemed to be seriously considering it.
"It is an ancient and noble tradition of cooking and combat," Alice declared passionately, or as passionately as you could be while simultaneously tsun-tsun-ing.
"If it can allow me to reclaim the title for the village, then so be it!" the former Iron Chef declared, already wondering where she could get a few swords so she could fully convert. She already had a good grasp on the cooking aspect, now she just needed to get started on the combat part…
"Precisely," Alice agreed, her tail rubbing against itself in a distinctly evil manner. "Now, when he returns, make sure you greet him with the proper title of 'chef'…"
"Oh Mighty Chef?" One of the villagers suggested thoughtfully, wondering if maybe they should make a shrine for this new pseudo-deity as well.
"Even better," Alice agreed instantly.
The things she did for her chef. He better be grateful for all of this!
In which Shirou jinxes himself, again, the author once more fails to uphold the integrity of his parody by getting serious, Erubetie FINALLY shows up, and the author unravels the secrets behind why MGQ had such a serious plot despite its premise.
"Well," Shirou decided, stroking his chin. "Anywhere in particular you want to go, Alice?"
"Wherever there is good food, I'm fine," the lamia shrugged. The two had finished their respective tasks at Yamatai, and Alice was confident that the roots of a far better religion than Illiasism had found fertile soil in the mountain town. That one older woman seemed particularly promising…
"Well," Shirou began, scratching the back of his head. "I kind of wanted to head to this 'Plansect Village' that I heard about earlier. I hear that they have different species of monsters living together peacefully!"
"Shirou," Alice cut him off before he could go any further. The lamia's eyes narrowed. "You shouldn't waste your time with that place." Shirou gave the lamia an odd look.
"Wait, you don't want to go?" he asked, wondering why the Monster Lord wouldn't want to look in on an example of her cute little subordinates getting along happily, with sunshine and puppy dogs and candy all about.
"Then again," Alice mused thoughtfully, "I would like to see it with my own eyes…"
"What?" Shirou scratched the back of his head again, confused by the sudden turnabout from his traveling companion. "Do they have some secret dish or something?" The only thing he knew about that could tempt Alice was a food, so it was a logical conclusion. However, when Alice didn't rise to the chance to wax poetic about some new dish, Shirou started to get worried.
"Never mind," Alice finally decided. "If that's where you want to go, maybe I'll get to see something interesting after all." For some reason, the way she was looking at Shirou made him nervous.
Not in the 'oh, Alice is hungry in the other way and I'm about to learn a whole new way to be embarrassed' kind of way. More…
More like she was waiting to see how he reacted to something. Given her waffling, it appeared that even she wasn't sure what kind of reaction she was looking for.
Well, Shirou thought to himself. How bad could it be?
Shirou stood in the midst of a beautiful meadow. All around him, lush grass and other types of plants bloomed. The air was thick with the smell of flowers and greenery. Among the bushes dozens of bugs crawled and went about their way. Shirou watched as a butterfly drifted by, followed closely by dozens of other delicate and entrancing insects.
It was a peaceful scene. Shirou decided then and there, it was most definitely the most beautiful graveyard he had ever been on.
After all, just about every petal around him, every blade of grass, every bug that crawled or flew…
Until just a short while ago, they had all been monsters.
"I really do think that a sword that can't kill is the greatest thing anyone has ever given me, Alice," Shirou said softly, looking about the beautiful scenery, not even glancing at the snake woman behind him. Alice paused, not sure how the swordsman had known she was there, but deciding to chalk it up to another one of those ways Shirou managed to keep her interested in him.
"You certainly don't hold back," she remarked, glancing around the scene of beautiful carnage. She had watched, not interfering, never interfering, as Shirou had blundered into the feud between plant monsters and insect monsters. She had watched as Shirou had boldly chosen a side. She had watched him win a war. She had watched him turn at the moment of victory to start defending the losing side. She also watched, as Shirou had calmly, serenely, cut down nearly two full armies, all by himself.
She wasn't certain if she was aroused or appalled at the sight.
No, wait, she was definitely aroused. She just wasn't sure yet if she was also equally disturbed by the violence that her dedicated slave, er, chef, uh, traveling companion had within him.
"Holding back would have only prolonged the war," Shirou noted, his tone even and reasonable. Alice watched him as the man who had just carved dozens, maybe even hundreds, of monsters into less dangerous forms shrugged, apparently unaffected by his own violence. "In this situation, the quickest, the best, and the way with the least casualties, that way was to stop the fighting, no matter what."
"Shirou," Alice began, her tone equally even and reasonable. "I've mentioned before, that you are twisted. Right now, I stand by that statement."
"And I said it was 'distorted', not twisted," Shirou returned. He turned to Alice, and smiled. Alice wasn't sure what to make of that smile. "Arisufi-zu Fateburn," he said gently, surprising even Alice as he remembered her real name, something the author had to go and grumbly look up for the scene, "I've never thanked you before for Angel Halo. Right now, I would like to do so," he went to both knees, bowing humbly before the Monster Lord. "Thank you, now and forever, for granting one as unworthy as me such a weapon."
Alice remained still. She did that partly because of the gravity of the scene, because this swordsman, this competent thing that was only held back from being called a killing machine due to the weapon he was thanking her for, obviously was speaking with the greatest of gravity, and it was her duty as the Monster Lord to return such dignity equally.
And also, partly, she had to take a second to keep her monster instincts from seeing a male kneeling before her to not just jump him then and there before cruelly bending him to her every sexual desire.
It was a monster thing.
"And why is that?" Alice managed to speak in a plain and direct voice. Internally, she was thankful she had applied the extra strength adhesives to her lamia panties earlier this day. The stuff that was moisture resistant.
Cause yeah, a guy who could cook, fight, and was now kneeling in front of her with such an earnest and thankful expression?
That was monster bait, pure and simple.
"For a long time, I've always known that you can't save everyone," Shirou admitted, standing back up and looking about him. "In the end, you can only choose the side you help, and do the best you can. Even if I tried my best to save everyone, most of the time I fail. But right now, even if it wasn't perfect, I was able to come close to helping everyone, not just the ones I chose."
"So this is you helping?" Alice needed to clarify that, seeing as she had been considering this more in the lines of when he had snapped in the coliseum.
"The fighting has stopped," Shirou pointed out, "and even if the armies are sealed, the soldiers are still alive. And look," he nodded to the edges of the meadow, towards where more and more plant and insect type monsters, the ones who had fled the war and only wanted the return to peace, were starting to come out. They had begun talking to the fallen, reasoning with them to try and get them to accept peace. Even as Shirou watched, he saw one of the bugs that he had sealed earlier agree to stop fighting and get returned to her normal form. "It may take time, and some might not agree, but soon even the ones I sealed will be whole and healthy, and at peace."
Alice was silent, looking as well, before she nodded, agreeing with him. Even if it wasn't perfect, even if it had meant Shirou had had to fight, soon they would recover, and the two types would live side by side in harmony again.
She didn't think the same method would work with humans and monsters, but she had to admit that Shirou had managed to accomplish at least one step closer to peaceful coexistence.
The two stood silently for several minutes, watching the peacemakers do their work, before Shirou frowned suddenly.
"You know, this is really weird," he muttered, and Alice raised an eyebrow. "I mean, so far our track record for serious conversations hasn't ended really well. Usually something silly or unbelievable happens."
"Or I just give you special training," Alice nodded in agreement, seeing as many of their serious conversations ended with her getting to eat her favorite food again.
"Like I said, silly or unbelievable," Shirou deadpanned, shuddering as he recalled some of the ways Alice had shown her monster side when the two were alone. Like that tail.
Oh god, that tail.
Alice narrowed her eyes at having the monster bedroom skills she was quite proud of referred to like that, and was about to smack Shirou upside the head with the previously referenced tail when one of the newly restored monsters that had apparently been only faking when she said she would accept peace leapt at Shirou.
"I'll get you for that!" the monster declared. However, before it had made it halfway to the two a blurry missile launched itself out of the woods, smacking the monster in the stomach and carrying her all the way to the other side of the clearing.
"For Oniiiii-chaaaaan!" Tamamo's war cry vanished into the distance as she once more used her 'Defending Onii-chan Flying Head-Butt' secret fox technique.
Shirou and Alice both just watched her as she vanished, and then Shirou sighed.
"There," Alice nodded seriously. "Now that that's happened, we can go."
"I swear," Shirou muttered as the two turned to leave. "I thought she would be bored of that by now."
"Well, here we are," Shirou declared, looking over the large lake in front of him. "Undine's spring."
"Finally," Alice agreed. "For someone on a quest you do tend to get side tracked." She paused, glancing at the lake for a moment. "I see," she muttered, eyes narrowed slightly.
"What is it, Alice?" Shirou asked, wondering what had caught the usually imperturbable lamia's attention.
"Nothing," Alice declared immediately, before stopping to give Shirou another look. "The fourth Heavenly Knight's name is Erubetie, the Queen of Slimes."
"Uh, okay," Shirou gave Alice a blank look, not quite sure why that was relevant, before shrugging and heading down to the spring. "Time to go get Undine!"
"Looks like we have no choice," one of the slimes Shirou had been fighting with earlier declared. "We will have to… get help from Erubetie!"
"Huh?" Shirou scratched the back of his head, "there's that name again. I wonder why…"
Shirou was cut off as out of the cracks of the cave beneath Undine's spring a new slime showed up. This one looked different from the others for some reason, and it took Shirou a moment to figure it out.
"Are those tattoos?" he asked, blinking as the new slime formed a human shape. "Seriously? How do they stay on? I mean, shouldn't the ink like dissolve into the body or something?"
The new slime just stayed silent, glaring at Shirou as he tried to figure out how a mostly liquid creature managed to get items which involved being repeatedly jabbed by needles and scarring the flesh with ink.
"I mean, did they even use needles, or did they just use a paint brush or something?" the swordsman continued to wonder out loud.
"You ignored my warnings," the slime declared with a soft voice.
"You were the one that kept telling me to go away?" Shirou asked for clarification, shaking his head away from the irrelevant thought. "But who…" Shirou stopped mid-sentence, blinking as he made the connection. "Oh!" he slapped a fist into a palm as he got it. "You're Erubetie!"
"Correct," the Slime Queen acknowledged the human in front of her, her expression never wavering from one of intense dislike.
"But if Alice went ahead and told me it means…" Shirou sighed as it was revealed again that he had very little in the way of practical knowledge of this world. "I thought I had her fooled for sure," he muttered.
"This is the spring that we slimes have claimed and purified, and yet still you humans come to pollute it," Erubetie murmured, and Shirou gave her a polite look. "Why do you humans keep coming back to pollute it?"
"Uh," Shirou scratched his head not quite sure why the slime was asking him that. "Well, I personally don't do much in the way of polluting. Unless you count when I wash my dishes…"
"Yes," Erubetie nodded slowly. "I do." Shirou wilted a bit.
"For polluting this spring and ignoring my warnings, I have to punish you," Erubetie declared.
"Well I'm sorry," Shirou tried apologizing. For some reason, the way Erubetie was staring at him was starting to make him nervous. It was different from the normal looks he got from monsters, even the ones who were trying to kill him. This was, well, it was a little intimidating actually. It was like the creature in front of him not only didn't care about him, but actively hated him.
It set him on edge, actually.
"Whoever disturbs our home, I will melt them. That body. I will play with it, melt it, and eat it," the slime declared, and her tone sent a shiver down his spine.
"Wait! Just for a few chicken bones and things?" he asked, and ten his eyes widened as a title wave of bubbling acidic slime came after him. There was no warning, no hesitation, just a killing move closing in on him.
*Scene Break for some Author Provided Back Story*
It should be noted that this is a rather silly fic. Now many of you are wondering why in such a silly fic a character would pass up the chance to say something silly. For instance, that line about the chicken bones? There were like a dozen gags that Erubetie could have used. Notice how she used none of them.
There's a reason for this.
A long time ago, the physical manifestation of Moodius Killius, a great extra-dimensional demon who exists solely to make stories more serious, whose dread touch has inspired what tvtropes has termed 'Cerebus Syndrome' in countless light hearted comedies and ruined what would otherwise be light hearted tromps by turning them into emo, stupid, utterly annoying examples of why some people should have figured out their stories earlier rather than leading on us readers by promising us one thing and then giving us another…
Anyway, that physical manifestation of Moodius Killius came to the monster world, and discovered that the local wildlife can be a bit, ahem, forward about some things. The end result was that Monster Girl Quest ended up with some pretty grim twists in it, and few months later Erubetie was born.
The truth was, Erubetie is the Anti-Silly. Her mere presence is enough to change even the normally light hearted SE:EP into something far grimmer.
Thank god she's only in like three or four scenes ever.
Anyway, bear with it for now, and we can get back to the good stuff later.
*End Author's Exposition*
"Rho Ais!" Shirou shouted, Angel Halo falling from his hands as Bakuya and Kanshou made their appearance. Even as the nearly overwhelming attack was stopped he prepared himself. It was time for him to walk the Path of the Shura once more, to prepare himself to kill so that others might live. With grim resolve he prepared to…
"Stop," a gentle voice interrupted, and both Shirou and Erubetie turned to take in the newcomer. It looked vaguely like a mermaid, but her body seemed softer, like that of a slime.
"Undine," Erubetie declared softly. "Why have you interfered?"
"This human came to meet me," the newly named Spirit of Water chided the Queen of Slime. "There is no reason for you to deal with him."
"You dislike humans as I do, don't you?" Erubetie noted, still in that low voice of hers. "Well fine. If you say so, I'll let you deal with him." After bowing out to the water spirit, the slime slowly vanished, disappearing through the cracks just like she arrived.
Undine and Shirou both stood quietly for a few moments, and then Shirou blinked, looking down at the swords in his hand in surprise.
"Huh," he grunted, scratching his head as he did so. "That was… odd."
"Indeed," Undine hummed softly as she tapped her chin in thought. "For some reason when she's around, I always feel like my dislike for humans seems more intense." Finally, the two shrugged in unison before getting back to business.
"So why did you interfere?" Shirou asked, wondering just why it was that the water spirit had come to his aid.
"Since Sylph and Gnome are lending you their aid I deemed you worthy of meeting…" Undine had actually prepared a small speech, but paused when Shirou winced and started rubbing his head. "Are you alright?" she asked politely. She might be planning to kill him if he failed her test, but that was no reason not to be polite.
"Sorry," Shirou muttered. "It's just that Sylph is excited to see you again."
"Ah," Undine had to suppress a wince of sympathy. "Is she singing?" she asked gently, already familiar with Sylph's somewhat excitable personality.
"No, but she's decided to start practicing juggling again for when you get in there," Shirou winced again, and Undine blinked, not quite sure if she was more confused by the juggling reference or annoyed by the surety Shirou had when he said she would join him.
For that she was going to go extra hard on him during the test…
*After one extra hard testing*
"My goodness," Undine murmured, blinking as she looked around. "I was not aware swords could DO that…"
A moment later she found herself quickly ducking as a sword came flying by her head. Only then did Undine get a chance to take in the grim yet majestic scenery. Then she sighed as she understood the juggling reference.
"Deeny!" Sylph cheered, tossing swords about left and right with childish abandon. "Deeny's here! Yeah! Hey, Deeny, isn't this place great? Isn't it Deeny? Hey, Deeny! Deeny, Deeny, Deeny…"
Undine sighed again, before trapping the fairy in a ball of water. Now where was Gnome…
She deliberately formed a drop of her body on her forehead in the shape of sweat when she saw the quiet Kuudere laying on some clay which had been shaped into an exact replica of a king sized bed. It even had covers, under which Gnome was reclining surrounded by dozens of swords, their hilts all sticking out from under the sheets.
"When did she begin smoking?" Undine wondered to herself as Gnome took another content draw on her cigarette. Deciding that there were some things she was just better off not knowing, like where she had even gotten the cigarette in the first place, Undine decided that if everyone else was making themselves comfortable she might as well too. She looked up at the clouds, and a moment later one of them was perched directly over her, raining. It shouldn't take her too long to dig out a spot for the new lake…
"That is going to cause so many of them to rust," Shirou whimpered as Undine set about rearranging his soul at will. He honestly wasn't certain if his swords could rust, seeing as they were in fact mental representations of the weapons he had originally collected, but considering the way this world was toying with him, he gave it even odds that Undine's rain counted as spiritual in nature and would end up destroying some of his armory.
Alice gave him a look, but decided to ignore him. She was getting used to the way he acted so strange after they acquired a new spirit.
In which Shirou embraces chefdom, discovers the uses for wearing snake… skin, the Heavenly Knights' plot their wicked plots, and environmental awareness during battle is imparted on two overzealous swordspersons.
"Okay," Shirou nodded as they approached Grangold Castle, the capital of the Gold region, trying to psych himself up. "This time will be different from Noh. This time, there won't be any strange tournaments, or potential assaults at any time from any angle from all kinds of monsters. The Gold region is famous for its human/monster relations. This time, things will be different."
"If you really believe that," Alice noted as she cocked her head to the side, already in her human disguise. "Then why are you crying?"
"These are tears of hope," he told her, not really able to staunch the steady flow from his eyes. "Not despair of never finding a sane gathering of people, or resignation to my inevitable disappointment. Hope."
"Roouggh," the noise from his belt caused him to gently pat Angel Halo's hilt.
"Thank you, Halo," he told the sword as it tried to cheer him up, and then he twitched slightly at how used he had gotten to the sword's vocalizations.
Then he paused, and gave Alice a blank look.
"Why are you holding a cup under my chin?" he deadpanned at the snake woman.
"So that I can savor your tears with dignity," she told him equally deadpanned. "I thought you might find it awkward if I try to lick them off your face." Not that she would have minded, per say. She was a monster, after all, and painful or erotic means of savoring a victim's despair were perfectly acceptable to her. She was only holding back out of concern that upsetting her chef too greatly would get in the way of his cooking later.
"Thank you for the consideration," Shirou sighed, before turning to the massive monster that had appeared in front of Grangold. "First, I'll take care of that, then I'll explain to you all the ways what you are doing is wrong."
The monster was easy enough to take down, but Shirou quickly discovered that Grangold had some rather unusual customs.
"Er," he began, sweating nervously as he took in the dozens of human guards that had surrounded him to point sharp spears at him. "Was it something I did?"
"Damn you, you monster!" one of the guards shouted. "How dare you do that to Golem Girl!"
"I'm not a monster," Shirou protested, but inside he was perking. So many people getting so upset over him hurting a monster. Maybe the rumors of Gold were true, and the two species really did live in peace! "I'm a human."
"Liar!" another guard declared, menacing the unresisting Shirou. "What kind of human could defeat Golem Girl!"
"Well," Shirou began, but was interrupted as Alice, still hiding, cut him off with a shout of, "He's a chef!"
"A chef!" the guard declared, instantly latching on to the word. "But, if that's true…" A lot of the guards started to relax slightly, but remained cautious. "We're going to take you in until we can confirm your story!"
"Um, that's fine," Shirou acknowledged, surrendering Angel Halo without a fight. Inside, he couldn't help but wonder why being a chef would excuse him for being able to defeat a giant rock monster.
Somehow, he knew in his heart of hearts, it was probably all Alice's fault.
"Sir," a guard declared, approaching the King of Grangold. The King was busy slouching against the throne, casually twirling his crown around one finger and looking bored. He perked when the guard appeared, looking forward to having something to do to stave off the boredom. "I've come to report that Golem Girl has been defeated!"
"Oh!" the King's eyes widened, leaning forward eagerly. "Was it some powerful warrior or Hero that has appeared?" The King loved it when a Hero or warrior appeared. They always had such interesting stories, and they helped give him something to do for a few hours.
"No, sir," the guard declared, narrowing his eyes. "He claims to be a chef…"
"A chef?" the King pouted. Chef's rarely had any good stories. Suddenly, his eyes shot open as he remembered one of the rumors that a previous traveler had told him. "Is he a Shinto?"
The King had heard such amazing rumors about this new faith that had been kicking up! Warriors of such power and skill that no foe could stand against them, yet who also were enlightened beings who sought to understand the world and achieve harmony with it through the act of cooking. Recently he'd become enraptured by these battling monks of the kitchen, and had been hoping one would drop by for some time now!
"We asked him, sir," the guard admitted, pursing his lips. "He admitted to being one, but asked us why we wanted to know."
"And what happened next?" the King demanded, nearly bouncing on the throne. Oh, this was so exciting!
"Well," the guard admitted slowly, "when we told him about the rumors he started banging his head repeatedly against a wall…"
"What a mysterious ritual! Send him on in!" the King declared, rubbing his hands together in delight.
"This isn't coexistence," Alice muttered as she glared around the city of Grangold petulantly. "The humans are just forcing the work they don't want to do on the Ant Girls. This is like slavery!"
Alice paused, waiting for her chef to make some response, and when none came she turned to see what the holdup was. She knew enough about Shirou to know that he too would agree with her on this. She raised her eyebrow when she saw him tapping his drawn sword against an open palm, a conflicted look on his face.
"What are you doing?" she asked him bluntly.
"Trying to decide if all the aggravation you cause outweighs all the help you've been throughout this journey, and if I can morally justify stabbing you without feeling regret for it afterwards." Shirou admitted his tone matter of fact. Alice nodded at that.
"Fair enough," she admitted. "I frequently have to decide between raping you into a mindless obedient mewling love slave or leaving you sane enough to cook."
The two stared at each other for a moment, each of them caught in their own internal struggles, before finally Shirou sighed and sheathed the sword. "Really, Alice?" he sighed. "Shinto?"
"You can thank me later," she told him easily, mistakenly chalking the whole 'Shinto' thing as one of the ways she had actually been helping. Shirou realized that, but just rubbed his forehead and let it go. "Now, as I was saying," she turned back to glaring at the Ant Girls. "This is nothing more than slavery!"
"It is pretty bad," Shirou agreed, letting himself focus on the city around him. A large number of Ant Girls were bustling around, doing all the work while the humans mostly lounged around, talking idly and having fun. A few giant Mud Golem Girls were also around, doing jobs that were too big for the smaller Ant Girls. "The King said something about using Magic Science to make some of them, but it seems odd that the Ant Girls are being so accommodating."
"The only reason I could think for something like this is if they're somehow imitating the power of the Ant Queen and her control over her minions," Alice mused, glaring around. "Overcoming the will of another and forcing them to do your bidding…" she shook her head angrily. "I cannot condone such a thing!"
Shirou paused, giving Alice another flat look. "You mean like the way monsters constantly rape humans until they're unable to resist them anymore than keep them forever as slaves, just like you admitted to having considered doing to me just a minute ago?"
Alice blinked, looking at Shirou blankly, before her brow knit in confusion.
"I'm afraid I don't see the connection there," she admitted honestly, and Shirou twitched again. "Just what is your point again?"
"Lets…" he decided that he wasn't going to win this conversation, no matter how hard he tried. "Let's just look for information about Salamander."
"Well," Shirou declared, "it's too bad that last old lady had absolutely nothing relevant or important to say at all!"
"Oh?" Alice smirked at her companion. "You mean the one who mentioned how an entire village regularly comes under vicious assault by an entire species of monsters?"
Shirou twitched at the unsubtle dig. "Really? I don't remember hearing anything about that…"
"Strange," she continued, folding her arms and drumming her fingers. "I would think that protecting a village from assault by dozens, no, maybe even hundreds of monsters would be the kind of thing that a Hero would pretty much have to respond to."
"Yes," Shirou agreed slowly, breaking out into sweat as Alice continued to twist the knife. "But I'm sure that won't happen for a long time. In fact, maybe the whole thing is just made up? A way to get tourists to swing by or something…."
"Oh no," Alice continued mercilessly. "It's well documented. Every hundred years the Purple Sabbath occurs, and that poor village is torn asunder. There are almost always casualties as the monsters wreak havoc everywhere. And the next Sabbath is in only a week too. Oh, if only a hero would agree to go and protect those poor, innocent humans…"
"I-it c-can't be t-that bad, can it?" Shirou stuttered, shivering as he did so. On one hand, he definitely, most truly and completely, with absolute certainty, did NOT want to get involved in the situation as it had been described to him. On the other hand, if people really did need saving…
"Oh, it most certainly is," Alice informed him solemnly. Well, as solemnly as anyone could when they were smiling that wide. "They even named the village after that phenomenon." She drawled the next word out slowly, taking monstrous pleasure in the reaction it drew from Shirou. "Succubus Village."
"I g-guess I s-should g-go look," Shirou stuttered, shivering at the thought of a village, a whole village, filled with Alma Elmas.
He didn't even react when Alice once more pulled out a goblet to start catching his tears.
*And one more scene break before the good stuff starts*
"The only answer is that the humans somehow sealed off the Ant Queen, and are using her to control the Ant Girls," Alice muttered to herself as the two retired to the inn room. Shirou shrugged, letting the Monster Lord work out her thoughts, even as she snacked on the meal he had brought up.
A little time in the kitchen, and he always felt better. Even after a day like this; this, this horrible, horrible day.
He was drawn from his thoughts by a knock on the door. Curious as to who was trying to disturb them, he went to open the door.
Then he stared.
"Excuse me," the doll looking monster declared in a mechanical voice. "I have come to provide you service."
"Service?" Shirou repeated, staring at the monster that was dressed like something that had come right out of a sex doll shop. It even had doll like joints. "Could you explain that please?" he asked, not sure what the proper response to the situation was.
Well, he had a first impulse response, but he was willing to give the world a chance to prove him wrong before he fell back on it.
"I am a monster created to satisfy the lusts of men," the doll confirmed for him in a robotic voice. "I have been programmed with the highest sexual skills, and have the highest quality sexual organs. What kind of service do you desire?"
"Humans would even make monsters like this?" Alice muttered, somewhat disgusted though that didn't stop her from taking another bite of the dish Shirou had brought her.
Shirou decided that yes, his first impulse was correct, and promptly indulged in it.
"Ha. Ha ha. Hahahahahaha!" he threw back his head and laughed uproariously at the offer. Finally, he trailed off, shaking his head as his body shook with mirth. "Yeah, no."
Then he shut the door and went back to the remaining meal.
"Does that mean you do not desire service?" he heard the doll through the door, and promptly ignored her.
"You did not seem too interested with her 'service'," Alice noted, and Shirou was too busy drowning out the still shouting doll on the other side of the door to catch the hint of satisfaction in her voice. If he had, what was about to happen would probably have come as less of a surprise to him.
"Yeah," he nodded instead, before adding on again, "no."
"How admirable," Alice declared, licking her lips and putting aside the tray of food. This, Shirou did notice, which prompted just enough confusion and worry over her wellbeing to leave him unprepared for what happened next. "As a reward, I'll 'service' you with my mouth."
*Scene Break, and a temporary break for the author to think up some kind of way to make Shirou's reactions to this particular scene amusing. Seriously, it was probably the most normal one that Alice got into. I mean, even the handjob one had her fingers turning into tentacles and stuff. Okay, the boobs one was pretty vanilla, but still…*
"Wow! Alice, watch the tail!"
"Fufufu, it's not the tail you should be watching…"
"What do you… eep!"
"Delicious. You really do prepare the best meals…"
"Okay, that does not qualify as a meal… eep!"
"Didn't anyone ever tell you not to talk with your mouth full, Alice… and I can't believe I just said that!"
"Fwugh fwugh fwugh."
"Stop laughing! Hey, wait… since when was your tongue forked, anyway…eep!"
"Again with those words!"
*Scene break, though actually, I now have to admit this scene was actually non cannon. It's like the only hentai scene where Alice DOESN'T say 'Hora Hora'. Seriously, go check*
The next morning, a slightly dazed Shirou and a satisfied Alice emerged from the inn to find an unusual scene before them.
"Well," Shirou glanced around, shaking off some of the post-Alice. "Looks like whatever they were doing to the Queen has finally worn off."
"Hmph," Alice at least seemed pleased as she watched the rampaging Ant Girls as they rebelled against their human enslavers. "And such, the natural order of the world is restored." She gave Shirou a sideways glance. "Aren't you going to do something about this?" she asked patiently as Shirou just scratched his cheek idly, watching as monsters picked up innocent human bystanders, throwing them over their shoulders and marching towards the palace with them. "Normally you're all over this kind of thing."
"Well, I am going to stop them eventually," Shirou admitted, still scratching his cheek as he did so. "But, well, they were enslaving the monsters. Part of me wants to let them suffer a bit. You know, reap what they have sown, and all that."
Shirou had no way of knowing that this is the Author's shout out to the fact that you actually could leave the city and do other quests, only to come back and save the kingdom later. He thought it was freaking hilarious. In fact, now the author kind of wants to see if he can finish the whole Gold region without actually completing the Ant Queen quest….
Anyway, back to the story.
"Hmmm," Alice found herself slightly agreeing with her chef, but quickly found a new way to amuse herself even more. "Well, in that case, we should have plenty of time to make it to Succubus Village…"
"My god!" Shirou shouted, tearing Angel Halo free from its scabbard and pointing at the sky. "Someone needs to do something immediately! I'm heading to the palace to stop the Queen!"
Alice nodded to herself as she followed after the retreating human. Yeah, she had the feeling that she was enjoying Shirou's strange reaction a bit too much, but decided that as the M+onster Lord she was allowed her own hobbies, in the end.
*Scene Break and a mild change of point of view just for fun*
"I am Queen of the limitless Ant army," the Ant Queen declared, eying the young man who dared to stand in her way. "Human, who are you to stand in my path?"
She watched, a small bit of confusion forming as the young man seemed to hesitate for a moment, a strange expression coming to his face before he finally sighed, with the appearance of someone who was surrendering to the inevitable. It was a look, she, as a Queen of monsters was quite familiar with, having inspired it so many times in the past.
Still, his final response only puzzled her more.
"I suppose I'm just a traveling chef for now," the young man with an evil sword sighed, and the Queen couldn't help but wonder just who it was that had managed to break him so thoroughly. Whatever monster had her claws in him, she must truly be an expert at destroying her toys!
Still, she was even more confused by his response. Why would a chef think they could stand in the way of a queen class monster? Whatever. She would just defeat him, and make him the first of her new slaves…
The Ant Queen wasn't quite certain of what to make of the situation.
It was as though the whole world had turned itself upside down while she had been sealed, and this new world was something strange and unbelievable to her:
A world where humans would bow down, acknowledge their mistakes, beg for forgiveness, and attempt to make amends.
A world where a King of humans and a Queen of monsters could make peace, forgive the mistakes of others, and work to build a life together in harmony.
And a world where chefs apparently wielded mystic, unbelievable powers.
That last one in particular really set her back.
She stared at the plate in front of her, almost afraid to try the food that had been presented to her. At her side, the King of Gold was staring as well, though his was a look of breathless anticipation. When the King had offered the chef a reward for his aid, she had been surprised when 'complete use of the royal kitchen for one day' had been the requested reward.
The Ant Queen slowly looked up to where a certain lamia was showing no such restraint.
'Just a traveling gourmet," that lamia had introduced herself as, despite the Ant Queen knowing just who she was. Slowly, the Ant Queen tracked her eyes over to where the self-proclaimed 'traveling chef' was holding court.
"Now, make sure you cut the vegetables evenly. This helps make sure that all pieces are cooked equally," Shirou was instructing one of the Ant Girls who had slowly drifted into the kitchen to help him. At first she had been angry at the thought that even now her daughters were being oppressed, but the chef wasn't so much as ordering them as teaching them, instructing them, and helping them. That, that wasn't so bad, and he showed no concern about doing the work himself when necessary.
"WHEN DO WE ADD SUGAR?" one Ant Girl asked, her droning voice curious, but intent.
"Well we don't usually add sugar for this dish…" Shirou began, before pausing, eyes narrowed. "Wait, Ants need more energy, and sugar is the best way…" instantly he began directing the hoard of Ant Girls helping him. "Okay, divide everything in half! Human style food over here, and I'll start working on special Ant versions over here! Just keep at it girls, you're doing fine!"
"YES, SHIROU-SAMA!" the Ant Girls called out, and the Queen was surprised at how happy they sounded. More than that, the fact that the human was actually attempting to make Ant specific versions of the recipe actually counted for several points in her book.
"I am very confused by all this," the Ant Queen finally admitted, staring at her food in doubt. "How could someone so good at fighting have any talent at cooking?"
A clinking noise drew her attention to the Monster Lord, and the Ant Queen swallowed when she realized that the most powerful of all monsters was glaring at her.
"You take that back," Alice hissed, and the Ant Queen shivered.
"It's a new faith, one that just recently sprung up," the King of Gold answered her, not aware of just how close they all were to sudden, horrifying death. "A religion based around the advancement of combat through the inner peace that comes from cooking. It's called 'Shinto'."
"I-is that so?" the Ant Queen asked, before deciding that eating something right now and acting like it was good no matter how it might actually taste was the only way to get Alice to stop glaring at her.
That thought lasted until the first forkful.
"I think I just laid an egg," the Ant Queen declared, staring at the now empty fork with eyes full of awe as her entire body trembled in joy at the taste.
"It is truly amazing!" the King of Gold declared, awe in his own tone as he too got his first taste of Shirou's cooking. "I had heard the stories, but the truth… the truth is far greater!"
"Just a sec!" the voice of the provider of this godlike meal drew the Queen's eyes away from her fork, and she had trouble focusing as she watched Shirou appear before her, putting three plates in front of him. "Now, your majesty, I know that it isn't really appropriate to use royalty for experiments," Shirou began nervously rubbing the back of his head, "but I've managed to complete three variations on the dish, and I need some honest feedback in order to continue my research. Since I'm building from scratch here, I need you to try each of these, and give me your honest impression on which one is best so I can move to the next level."
'There's a level after this?' the Ant Queen thought in amazement. 'No, he managed to make THREE different versions in only a matter of seconds!?' Slowly, she turned her eyes to the three plates in front of her. With trembling hands, she reached to sample the first…
Only to be interrupted as three forks slammed down before she could make it, two held by hands, one held by a tail. Jumping slightly, the Ant Queen watched as the Monster Lord tried each, chewing slowly with her eyes narrowed in careful thought as she thoroughly analyzed each taste.
"Starting at the one on the left," Alice pointed at the dish in question, "and moving clockwise: thirty, five, and twelve percent better." The lamia nodded firmly, confident in her decision.
"Alice," the Ant Queen watched in disbelief as the chef glared slowly at the Monster Lord. "This is a recipe meant for Ants. I'm trying to make a meal which is matched for their taste as a species. Do you really think that a lamia has the same taste buds as one of them? How could you dare to potentially influence the results by potentially spoiling their first impression of the dish!"
In front of the disbelieving Ant Queen's eyes, Alice slowly started to wilt, her body sinking further and further beneath the table under her chef's scolding.
"I…" Alice's voice sounded horrified. "I have done wrong." With a new surge of energy, Alice reemerged from beneath the table. "Please, disregard what I have said. Try each dish, without thought of my careless remarks."
"Maybe I died, and this is some twisted after life?" the Ant Queen muttered, not sure she was able to go on in a world where the Monster Lord could be so easily cowed by a human, no matter how marvelous a chef he might be.
That thought lasted until she had tried each of the three dishes Shirou had provided.
"Ah. So this is what heaven is like? I thought there would be more harps," she whispered, collapsing into her chair as the final, succulent, beautiful, world shaking bite finished coursing through her.
"Right," Shirou declared, nodding as he carefully checked at a pad of parchment he had been taking notes on. "I'll be back in a bit. Just be patient."
The Ant Queen watched as Shirou marched back to the kitchen, already barking orders to the ever growing hoard of willing Ant Girls. Finally, she turned back to Alice, opening her mouth to ask the only question she could possible ask at this point when…
"Speak those words, and I shall end your entire clan," Alice told her bluntly. The Ant Queen quickly shut her mouth.
"Truly, Shinto is amazing," the King of Gold declared softly, the last to sample each of the three new dishes Shirou had brought out. "Perhaps I should convert? Illiasm just doesn't seem to offer nearly as much…"
The Ant Queen found herself agreeing, though as a monster she had no particular like for Illiasm as a whole. Instead, she found herself thinking about other things instead.
"Does Shinto accept monsters as followers?" She shook her head briefly, and focused on something far more important to her. "Ms. Gourmet," she began, and when Alice's eyes narrowed in suspicion she rushed her request as quick as possible to avoid possible annihilation of her race. "Do you think his skills are breedable?"
Alice started to glower, and the Ant Queen noticed with increasing concern that dark power was starting to form in the lamia's hands. Then the Ant Queen's words seemed to penetrate the Monster Lord's mind. The power vanished, and Alice reeled as though she had taken a mortal blow. Slowly, the Monster Lord sank until she was sitting at a normal height, her head cradled in her hands.
"I…" Alice began slowly. "I'm terribly conflicted at the moment. What if they are…?"
"I understand," the Ant Queen declared, and really she did. This 'traveling gourmet' and her 'traveling chef'…
Those two were just too well suited to each other for her to try and get between them, rank aside. However, as the Ant Queen, she had a duty to seek the most valuable genes to help further her race.
And Shirou's genes definitely were at the top of her list, as of three plates ago.
"Talk to me later," Alice finally decided, also acknowledging that the potential of being able to breed such skill in the kitchen was something too important to just pass by.
*And Scene Break from Alice being conflicted, to Shirou being confused!*
"Er," the Soothsayer succubus began, looking at the figure before her cautiously. "What are you… eep!"
Quickly, the mystic ducked, just in time to avoid being stabbed in the face.
"So," she began, backing up slowly. She looked behind the figure at the trail of complaining women that had recently had all their power sealed away. "I take it you're still upset about earlier?"
The best she could manage was a nervous chuckle when the only response she got was the sound of a whetstone being dragged against an edge. It was only made worse when the sword itself started to growl ominously.
"It seems to like that," Alice noted, watching her chef from above as Angel Halo vented its joy at being sharpened like a normal sword. "That aside," she continued, folding her arms under her breasts and giving a flat look at her chef. "Why are we in this current position?"
"I needed to defend my vital points with the most durable substance I could find," Shirou told her, still glaring at Succubus Village in general, and at the Soothsayer specifically. "You were it."
Alice felt like she could point out several very important things at this point.
Like if he was trying to keep himself from being molested, physically wrapping himself in her tail to the point where he looked like a pile of tires and she was effectively riding his shoulders probably wasn't the best way to do it: her tail already was touching just about everything he was trying to protect from bad touches.
Also, they looked damn silly like this.
Still, it did give her a better view. Deciding to just deal with it until they were out of Succubus Village and away from his silly phobias, she put an elbow on the top of her head and made herself comfortable.
"It looks like we haven't made the best impression," Soothsayer offered, trying to make up with the man who had already proven that he was quite capable and willing to stab anything that even looked vaguely succubus-esque, especially considering she actually was a succubus. She'd already seen him stab three soldiers on the off chance that they might have been disguised, as well as a puppy that got too near him and, though he was muttering something about 'tails' when he did that, so maybe that was something different. "Let me make up for it by telling your fortune?"
"I've already seen the future," Shirou muttered, still eying the succubus distrustfully. "It involves a hill, and a lot of swords."
"Er," Soothsayer had no way of knowing just what that meant, and had her magic gloves cross their fingers behind her back just in case those swords involved her. "Actually, it seems your future involves great misfortune with women."
"Is there any way around that?" Shirou asked, easing up slightly on the wet stone, actually curious about whether or not the mystic really knew what she was talking about.
"Well," the Soothsayer began, before deciding trying to tempt him into staying in the village probably wasn't going to do anything but invite more stabs. "Sorry, no doesn't seem that way," she told him. "But what you have to watch out for most of all is to avoid falling in love with powerful, high ranking monsters. "
"Oh?" Shirou actually was interested at this point, almost to the point of… "Back off!" he whirled and stabbed, impaling an innocent young man that he vaguely remembered meeting back in Yamatai. Nodding his head at the scarecrow that had formed, he turned polite eyes back on the Soothsayer and continued as though he hadn't just assaulted an innocent pedestrian. "Why's that?"
Having a sword that doesn't kill is just too useful sometimes.
"Er," the Soothsayer took several large steps backwards at this point, before her pride as a professional compelled her to continue. "When high level monsters fall in love, their desire to mate with that love is too intense. That hot passion burns almost endlessly, driving them to indulge in their man with a bottomless lust. A normal man can't tolerate that much pleasure. They might lose their mind, or even die of weakness. At the very least they'll probably never walk again."
"Huh," Shirou grunted, before shifting slightly. "Hey, why'd you tighten up like that Alice?" He glanced up to see the Monster Lord looking away, pursing her lips and puffing audibly. "Are you trying to whistle?"
"No," she told him bluntly, but then returned to trying to use the secret attention deflecting technique that he had taught her so long ago.
"It's due to that, that most powerful monster clans have rules about only marrying men stronger than them," Soothsayer continued, glancing between the human and the lamia slowly. So that was what the deal with those two were! She didn't know if she should be congratulating the poor sod, or celebrating that he would most likely be WAY too busy to ever come back and stab someone again. "Because of that it's difficult for a marriage of love to work out."
"Well," Shirou began, idly scratching the back of his head, unmindful of snake woman on his back. "That shouldn't be a problem for me. It's not like there are a bunch of high level monsters in love with me or anything… hey! Alice! What's with the elbow?"
"Idiot," Alice told him bluntly as she ground the elbow on his head down.
"Definitely," the Soothsayer agreed, before 'eeping' and dodging again.
*Meanwhile, back at the Heavenly Knight Wetbar! (Cue Batman music)*
"This is just not working," Granberia muttered angrily to herself, throwing back another screwdriver as she sulked. She most carefully did not pout, because pouting would be really undignified for someone of her position, but sulking she felt she could indulge in.
"Oh?" The Dragon Knight scowled at the new voice, but refrained from reacting overtly. That was, until she turned and took the newcomer in. "What's the matter, Gran-chan?"
"Don't call me that," Granberia scowled, cocking her head to the side in confusion. "And what on earth happened to you?"
Alma Elma giggled, not seeming to mind in the least that she was liberally spattered with what was quite possibly hundreds of band-aids. "Shirou-chan plays rough!"
Granberia narrowed her eyes, not at all liking the implication that the Succubus Queen had been messing around with HER Shirou. But then she sighed, and turned back to her drink. Alma Elma blinked, before leaning over, a concerned expression on her face as she took in her fellow Heavenly Knight's mood.
"Gran-chan, what's wrong?" Even if she was a playful sort, she still could feel concern for her friend.
"It's nothing," Granberia insisted, but when she started blushing Alma Elma just felt her curiosity rise more.
"Does it have something to do with that?" Alma pointed to the corner of the wet bar. In it stood a mannequin, wearing adventurer clothing, with a shaggy red wig on it, and with two large sticks painted black and white in its hands.
"No," Granberia declared. Alma looked at her, tapping her foot patiently. The Dragon Queen sighed. "Yes."
"So what's the problem?" Alma was the playful sort, and the relationship between the Heavenly Knights was a bit odd by any choice of the word, but that didn't mean she didn't look out for her sister Queens, in her own way.
Granberia sighed, before getting up from the bar. "Fine," she muttered. "Watch."
The Knight of Fire, strode before the dummy, pulling her sword. Summoning her inner fire, she pointed her blade at the figure. She could almost imagine it, Shirou, standing before her, the gleam of the light on his blades, and her breath grew short at the thought of battle…
"Drop your pants and get on the bed," she declared, before scowling.
"Well, I thought that went without saying," Alma prompted the dragon, and Granberia continued scowling, turning away from the mannequin.
"I was trying to say, 'Draw your sword and prepare for your defeat'," she informed the Succubus.
"Er," Alma blinked. "That was quite a bit different…"
"Watch this," Granberia turned back. "What's your favorite position!"
"And what was that supposed to be?" Alma prompted.
"'How do you want to die?'" was the response.
"I think I see the problem," Alma nodded seriously, stroking her chin.
"How am I supposed to fight him, if I can't even threaten him properly?" Granberia was nearly pulling her hair out at this point. Inside, her inner maiden was waiving her arms around like a hummingbird.
"And so you made this dummy up to try and practice," Alma summed up for her, nodding as she puzzled out her fellow Knight's ploy.
"But nothing I do works!" Granberia growled. In a sudden move, she turned and spun as if hoping the she could overcome her newly discovered speech impediment through speed alone. "I'll have you cover my chest with your… Dark God's damnit!"
"Let me guess. 'I'll plunge this sword into your chest'?" Alma made a try, and Granberia huffed, nodding.
"If I tried to fight Shirou like this, he might misinterpret me!" Granberia muttered, tapping her foot in frustration. "I mean, what if he heard me say something like that, and thought I didn't actually want to fight him anymore?"
Alma gave Granberia a blank look. "You have very strange problems," she finally decided. Still, she thought about the issue, if only for a bit. "How about this: instead of just normal death threats, you started using double entendre?"
"What do you mean?" Granberia prompted, raising an eyebrow.
"Like this," Alma took her place in front of the Shirou doll. Striking a sultry pose, she pointed a finger at it. "I won't let you go until you've got nothing left to give!"
"Hmmm," Granberia rubbed her chin thoughtfully. She knew perfectly well what Alma Elma really meant with that statement, but it still came out suitably threatening. "Let me try."
Moving to the substitute Shirou, she pulled her sword again. "This won't end until you're on your knees before me!"
"Oooh!" Alma clapped excitedly. "That's a good one! Here, how about this." She cleared her throat and struck another pose. "There will be no respite until you are helpless, gasping your defeat beneath me!"
"You might be on to something, Alma," Granberia admitted, warming up to the idea a bit. She was preparing to try a new line, when quite suddenly she found herself whirling to block what would have been a devastating attack, the force of the blow sending her skidding across the ground.
"Don't bully Onii-chan!" Tamamo roared her war cry, before the force of her head but ran out. "Wait," she declared, feeling slightly dizzy from the impact of her head with the flat of Granberia's sword. "That's not Onii-chan," she mumbled, staring at the doll. Her eyes brightened. "But I want it anyway!"
"Er," Alma had the distinct impression that she had missed something there. Granberia just rolled her eyes.
"Don't ask," the Dragon Queen muttered, sulking once more, not pouting. She had already heard the story of yet another of her peers having the opportunity to monopolize her warrior foe.
It wasn't fair! If this kept up, even Erubetie…
"What is going on here?" the Queen of Slime demanded in her low tone. She had come to the sacred meeting place of the Heavenly Knights to share knowledge of the foe she had come across in Undine's spring. She had thought that the Spirit would be enough to destroy the wretched human, but the news that had reached her ears later was that he had come out triumphant.
A creature as vile as that… her fellow Knights must be made aware.
"Oh?" Alma Elma declared, her tone low and sensuous, the promise of sweet death to be begged for on her lips. She slinked across the dark room, the slow grace of a predator evident in every sway of her hips. Here was a creature that preyed on man, who drowned them in sensuality, only to take every last drop of them to leave naught but withered husks behind. "If it isn't the Queen of Slimes. What brings you here? Business or pleasure?"
"Save your games for others," Erubetie cautioned the dangerous creature before her. "I'm here to speak of a threat to monster kind."
"Oh?" Tamamo, Queen of the Foxes, eldest of monsters, her fan concealing her teeth bearing smirk just smiled her secret smile. Her tails swirled around her, twisting mysterious, possibly eldritch patterns as they did so. "Speak you perhaps of a young lad, wielding strange magic and sharpened steel?"
"You know of the interloper?" Erubetie's eyes narrowed in caution. The wisdom of the Tamamo was well known, and should be treated with caution.
For all her size, she was a creature of mystery and menace like no other.
"The fox clan is aware of him," Tamamo laughed, flicking her fan open to flutter slowly. "We have our own stake in his actions."
"Oh?" Alma chuckled, "anything the succubae should be aware of?" Then, quite suddenly her eyes narrowed. With unusual poise, the Queen glanced around her, as though studying for intruders. When her eyes focused on Erubetie, the Slime Queen paid it no mind.
"Is it wise to let something like that go unmolested?" she instead asked, focusing her attention on the knowledgeable Knight of Earth.
Tamamo giggled, but any words she might have said were cut off.
"Leave that one be," Granberia, the greatest of Cursed Sword Technique users declared, her voice hard. "I've had my eyes on him for some time."
"And you have done nothing?" Erubetie interrogated with caution when it came to the Queen of Dragons. Though all of those present were monsters to tread cautiously around, the Queen of Slimes knew well how dangerous it was to offend the Knight of Fire.
"Hmm," Alma hummed to herself, not really paying attention to the conversation anymore. Instead, she stood, and paced away. When she made it about thirty feet, she paused.
"I wanna play with Shirou-chwan all night long!" she declared cheerfully, throwing a fist in the air and hopping girlishly. Then, with pursed lips she took a step back.
"The night I spend with the boy would be his last," she murmured, tone dramatic and irresistible.
Then she took another step away. "Hmm," she nodded, scratching her chin. "So that's the range."
And thus, one of the mysteries behind the Anti-Silly was revealed.
Meanwhile, back in the range of the joy-killer, Granberia just smirked. "I never cared for picking fruit before it was ripe," she told Erubetie, stroking her sword slowly.
"Take care you not leave the fruit until it rots on the vine," the Slime Queen did not care for such an unconcerned attitude, especially when it meant allowing a threat to their kind to grow more powerful. "Even now, three of the spirits have fallen under his sway. He will no doubt soon make a move towards the fourth."
"Oh?" Granberia's smile was like a dagger in the moonlight. "Perhaps I should go visit my old teacher to wait for him…"
Erubetie nodded as Granberia turned to leave, confident in that whatever threat the boy might be, he would soon be unmade. She turned away from the Dragon Queen before she drew abreast with Alma.
"So," Granberia muttered to herself, once more free from the evil influence. "What other lines could I use? 'Come with me if you want to live, live with me if you want to cum'? No, not threatening enough…"
As Granberia left to go give her armor a quick polish before going off to see her old teacher, Erubetie also turned to return to her own quarters. Tamamo simply smirked, the age old and treacherous manipulator with in her already plotting until…
"Hey!" Tamamo yelped, realizing that at some point her substitute Onii-chan had vanished. Whirling, she turned to find Alma Elma tiptoeing away with it stuck over her shoulder. "Ooooniii-chaaaaan!"
Then she paused. "Wait, why do I get the impression that there should have been some sneezing a few moments ago, and why didn't I?"
So great was Moodius Killius influence, that even cliché 'someone's talking about me sneezes' were unable to go in effect.
Fear the Anti-Silly.
"So you're Salamander!" Shirou declared, wiping the sweat from his brow as he took in the final spirit. It was HOT in the volcano!
"Indeed, I am the flame spirit Salamander," the final spirit, an elfin girl wreathed in flame declared. "And I know why you're here. Already, you have won the aid of my sisters: Sylph, Gnome, and Undine."
"Well, that speeds things up," Shirou nodded, wondering if maybe he should be trying to speed things up. Yeah, decorum was good and all, but he was standing in the middle of an active volcano. With all this heat, he could probably…
"Er," Salamander began, watching as the brave young man before him suddenly turned to stare at the veins of magma around him. "What are you…"
"Shhhh," Alice cut the spirit off, staring at Shirou intently. "I know that expression. He's considering."
"Considering what?" Salamander prompted, feeling slightly confused at this point.
"Whether or not I could utilize the heat as a viable method of cooking," Shirou answered her absentmindedly. Then he shook his head. "No, it's just not practical."
"Are you sure, Shirou?" Alice narrowed her eyes, but the chef remained undaunted.
"The heat would dry out any dish long before I got it clear," he told her, and Alice relaxed.
"Are you two done yet?" Salamander asked, feeling faintly bemused.
"Ummhmm," they both nodded, turning back to the spirit. Salamander actually thought that the way the two of them synced up was kinda cute, in its own way.
"So about you lending me your power?" Shirou prompted. Salamander opened her mouth, but found herself once more cut off.
"Be careful, Shirou," Alice interrupted, causing him to turn in surprise at Alice actually interrupting in a monster battle. "Salamander was the one who taught Granberia."
"Really?" Shirou's eyes lit up, and Salamander was vaguely disturbed at the way he turned to look at her. "So I suppose you're going to have me show you my power like the others…"
"Actually, no," Salamander admitted, nodding solemnly.
"No?" Shirou repeated, surprised. Salamander shrugged, before grinning.
"Even in here I've heard the stories," Salamander explained. "How you defeat your opponents with no effort at all. I've even heard about the battles with Granberia, and the other Heavenly Knights. Even if I taught Granberia, she surpassed me a long time ago when it comes to strength in battle."
"Oh," Shirou rubbed the back of his head, bemused. "Is that so?"
"Well then, noble warrior," Salamander declared, "I'll entrust my power of fire to you!"
"Well," Shirou pursed his lips, somewhat disappointed in the development. "I guess that's it…"
*Deep within Shirou's bleak soul where silliness had taken root…*
"Phew," Salamander whistled, taking in the Unlimited Blade Works. "Now ain't this a sight to see!"
Salamander was well known among the monsters as being a powerful warrior, and a noble fighter. She appreciated things like chivalry, and strength of arms. To find herself in such a striking place, a battleground littered with the strength of her new wielder was something she delighted in. She knew it had been a good idea to entrust herself to the boy!
Then she twitched.
"Just what are you all doing?" she deadpanned, folding her arms and scowling.
"It's Sally! Hey Sally! Sally's here!" Slyph was singing again, and even as she started the 'Song of Greeting' (copyright pending) she continued her attempt to learn how to juggle. She hadn't improved any since Undine showed up, but with boundless enthusiasm she continued.
"Enough, airhead," Undine cut off the little spirit with a bubble of water. "Try to show some decorum."
"Should you be saying something like that, all things considered?" Salamander glared pointedly at where the water spirit was using swords to construct a tasteful fountain in the middle of her new pond, somehow getting managing to mold an enormous copy of herself with water gushing from her lips using nothing but the swords present.
"It's not that bad," Undine defended herself, feeling a little sheepish. "I mean, look at what Gnome is doing…"
"I'd prefer not to, but I have the impression I'm not going to be able to do that," Salamander muttered, purposefully not looking towards the Earth spirit. Also feeling sheepish, Gnome slowly hid the whip behind her back, and tried to pretend she wasn't surrounded by swords with earthy ropes binding them in ways vaguely reminiscent of shibari.
"Alright," Salamander declared. "Now that I'm here, things are going to change…" she trailed off, perking as she realized what was happening in the real world.
*Look back to the volcano*
"Is that…?" Shirou cut himself off, a feeling of power washing over him. At his side, Alice narrowed her eyes.
"So even she has come," the snake woman muttered. She rolled her eyes as Shirou began to grin.
"Granberia!" he cried out happily as the ceiling of the volcano collapsed. A flicker of green among the rubble revealed the Dragon Knight herself, standing before him.
'Okay,' Granberia told herself, her inner maiden patting her cheeks and huffing in determination. 'Let's give this a shot.'
"It's been a while, my play toy," she declared, before her inner maiden blushed. She had meant to say 'foe'!
"Er, that it has, Granberia," Shirou hesitated, not quite sure about that greeting, but still happy to see the swordsmonster. Maybe 'play toy'was just Granberia's way of referring to a favored opponent? He'd been around monsters long enough to be willing to consider that kind of thing.
Alice on the other hand, raised an eyebrow, knowing the Queen better and not having expected that kind of thing from the serious warrior.
"I've come to grind you beneath my heel," Granberia declared, frantically trying to think up suggestive ways to describe fearsome battle. "Are you ready to submit… to my blade?" she managed to tag that last bit on, despite her monster nature. Already, her blood was heating, and she knew that they better get to the fight quick or she was going to embarrass herself.
"Yes!" Shirou growled, earlier doubt disappearing, Angel Halo already sheathed and Kanshou and Bakuya gleaming in the red light of the magma.
Alice sighed, and decided to wait for the two outside. She paused when she heard Granberia's final shout.
"Cum with me!"
"Did she just?" Alice muttered to herself, before shaking her head. She had to be imagining things.
*Now back to Shirou's soul*
"Woohoo!" Salamander shouted, grinning like a battle maniac. "I knew I made the right choice to get in here!"
Undine perked, looking about in surprise. "Was he so happy he just spontaneously learned how to use the power of water better?" she asked in surprise as she felt Shirou suddenly grow more skilled in her element.
*Now back to the fic your fic could smell like if they used Old Spice… er, back to the real world*
Alice tapped her tail, rubbing her forehead. She felt very much like a school teacher scolding two naughty children. The way Shirou was rubbing the back of his head with a sword and whistling innocently combined with how Granberia was blushing slightly and refusing to meet her eyes.
"And what have we learned about fighting in volcanos?" Alice finally asked, feeling that someone, even someone like her, should say something about what had happened.
"Don't do it without the fire spirit to give you heat protection?" Shirou ventured, before wilting at Alice's blank look. "And that if you cause too many explosions, than they erupt?"
Behind the three, spewing black ash and fire into the sky, the dwelling of the Fire Spirit continued to unleash its fury. All around, wildlife, monsters, and humans alike all fled from the indiscriminate wrath of nature.
"It's only natural for a meeting between us to end with eruptions of hot, gooey passion," Granberia suggested. Alice paused, and gave the Dragon Knight a dead look. "I'll just be going then," she hastily declared, disappearing in a flash of monster magic.
She really needed to work on her entendre, apparently!
In which things get serious before Shirou surrenders to the inevitable, a bunch of dramatic battles are reduced to cut scenes, the final foe arrives and is dealt with promptly, and Shirou learns what the future has in store for him.
"Whew!" Shirou wiped his forehead theatrically, feeling like he earned it. "Man, that took a while."
"It was indeed a lengthy process," even Alice seemed a little tired. "To have to cross and recross the continent over and over…"
"Yeah," Shirou nodded, collapsing to the ground, sitting on the hill above Port Gold, their last stop before reaching Hellgondo, the forbidden island of monsters. "I mean, getting those final orbs had us going all over the place." He gave a brief laugh. "If this was a game or something, we might be able to just appear there, but we had to actually walk, and that took forever!"
This, by the way, is the author's subtle way of telling you that he just skipped over a whole lot of game play in order to get on with the story. Though by explicitly explaining that after, it does detract from the subtlety…
Also, he very nearly included the quest for the purple orb, simply for the fact that it would have given him a chance to write scared Alice again.
"Indeed," Alice declared, letting herself come to rest in a sitting position herself, well, as close as she could get considering her lack of legs. "It must have been two, three months since Salamander joined, and yet here we are…"
"Yeah," Shirou nodded, and the mood turned solemn.
Here they were. All the pieces had been gathered, all the wrongs they could right accomplished. Tomorrow, they would go on to Hellgondo, and then Shirou would face down the Heavenly Knights. If he won, then he would have convinced them to help reach for peace between monsters and humans. It would be then that his quest was finished, his goal accomplished.
Neither knew what would happen after that.
Both knew that one day their journey would end. Both knew that their time together wasn't unlimited. And both of them could sense that time ending, like an old beast knowing it was coming to the end of its life.
Neither knew quite what to say, and the silence grew.
Finally, Alice spoke up. "I would like to tell you a story, Shirou." When she felt her chef's eyes on her, surprise at the somber tone and full use of his name she continued. "A story of when I was a child."
"Does this have something to do with that Ilias Kreuz guy, and what he said?" Shirou ventured, remembering the recent confrontation at the terrorist headquarters. It had been strange, seeing Alice so serious, so cold. The way she and that man Lazarus had talked…
"Yes," Alice admitted. "You've told me a lot about yourself, and what you've been through," she continued, recalling the bitter stories of Shirou's youth she had heard, of the fire, of the pain, and she only reaffirmed her resolve to tell her own story. "When I was a child, a group of heroes arrived. My mother, she locked me in a cell, before going to face them. She must have underestimated my power, and I managed to break free. When I arrived, it was to find the Heroes standing over my mother. She was dead."
"Alice," Shirou gasped, staring at her with wide eyes, listening to everything she said.
"I lost myself, in rage, in grief," she continued, tone matter of fact despite the topic. "When I came back to myself, I had killed two of them, and the others fled. It was only then that I realized what my mother had intended. She had let herself be killed, had pleaded with the Hero to let her sacrifice bet the last, to use the time of peace that would come to rebuild the world, to help monsters and humans understand each other. And he had been touched by her sacrifice, and had been willing to do that. Until I showed up, and murdered his friends in front of him."
Alice leaned back, staring at the sky above her.
"The two that survived became demons, living only for revenge. They formed Ilias Kreuz, the terrorist organization which has killed hundreds of monsters over the years. Because of me, even more monsters and humans have died. I was the one who made my mother's sacrifice be in vain."
"Alice," Shirou said again, but this time he sighed. He was finally getting to experience what it was like for everyone else when he revealed something horrific and soul shaking from his own past. "Is that why you traveled?" he asked, prompting her to move away from her self-condemnation. "You said before, back in Lady's Village, that you were trying to find ways for humans and monsters to live together."
"Not at first," Alice admitted, brushing her hair back. "At first, I just wanted to prove that humans were worthless. I wanted them to be horrible things, to find out that they all hated monsters and that any dream of coexistence was a lie. Instead, I found you."
"W-what do you mean?" Shirou stuttered slightly, blushing a bit as Alice turned to look at him. She was smiling, not like she was about to do something embarrassing or painful, but instead a happy, contended smile. "I'm not that special…"
"Someone who has suffered greatly, and so can't abide the suffering of others," she listed, still smiling. "Who despite their pain has grown to be strong and gentle. Someone who helps without thought of reward. You are a person who knows how hard their path is, who has failed time and time again, and yet still continues without faltering." Alice idly flicked her tail, letting it trail through the tall grass around them. "You have done more than anyone else to help grow peace between humans and monsters. I think, if it's you, then maybe that peace might someday come."
"I hope so," Shirou finally sighed, not exactly agreeing with Alice's description of him, but hopeful for the future she described. "Well, we just have to keep on trying," he continued, smiling slightly. "Me with pursuing my ideal, and you with making your mother's legacy come true."
"Yes," Alice smiled, still soft. "My mother's legacy. I will make it true." She shook her head abruptly, her smile fading into her more normal expression. "To think of it: a Monster Lord receiving comfort from a Fake Hero."
"I've never had an issues with being a Faker," Shirou let himself smile at Alice's grumblings.
A comfortable silence grew between the two, and the sun sank ever lower on the horizon as they sat. There was only a sliver of it left, when Shirou finally chuckled.
"Heh," he grinned slightly. "I think this is the longest the two of us have ever gone uninterrupted like this. I keep waiting for something silly or weird to happen…"
He turned to look at his companion, and twitched slightly. He recognized that look.
Alice wore it every time he put something delicious in front of her. To have it focused on him…
"Shirou," Alice began. "Are you a virgin?"
He looked young, yes, but he had already admitted to only being a year younger than her. And he was so experienced in other things, that Alice felt she had to ask in order to be sure.
"Er," Shirou looked away awkwardly, rubbing the back of his head. "No," he finally admitted. "Not really."
"I see," Alice's eyes narrowed. There was no way she was going to admit it NOW, but she, despite being the Monster Lord, was in fact untouched. Her entire species lived off semen, and all this time her Chef had more real experience with sex than she did!
With her monster pride pricked, she came to a decision.
"I was going to try it in human form first," she announced, pushing off the grass. "But since you're already experienced…"
"Try wh…a…t…" Shirou began, but trailed off as two soft thumps echoed both Alice's top, and then her bottom as they hit the ground at distinct distances from where Alice herself actually was.
"It's going to be dangerous ahead," the snake woman hissed softly, coiling backwards. Shirou was distinctly reminded of a cobra right before it struck at that moment. "Many monsters will use pleasure attacks. I think it best to get some last minute 'training' in…"
"This doesn't count as training at…EEEEEEEEEEEEP!"
*Scene Break, to give the sacred beauty of the first true joining of two tender souls the solemnity it deserves. For the sake of the narrative, some audio will be presented, you voyeurs you!*
"Oh? So quick? How humiliating. Is it frustrating, to be held down and played with like this? Does your pride as a man wilt beneath me?"
"Yes, let it out, you miserable man. Giving in so quickly, to the taste of my *BLEEP*? Does it feel that good, having your *BLEEP* in my *BLEEP* while I *OH YEAH IS THAT BLEEPED*."
"Ha! For all your experience you can't help but *BLEEP* while I *BLEEP* your *BLEEP* all along the *BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP*!
"Now just lie there as I *BLEEP BLEEP BLEEPITY BLEEPBLEEP* your *BLEEPING BLEEP*, you contemptible little…"
"… Too much?"
"No, Alice, it's just..."
"You can talk dirty if you want to…"
"Hora hora hora!"
*Yeah, those two kind of have a weird relationship, don't they?*
"Um," Shirou began, looking at the fallen monster before him. "Did that serve any purpose whatsoever?"
"Well," Alma began, as Granberia shook her head in exasperation. "Originally it was going to be the last means of testing whether you had the power to stand against the Heavenly Knights. I don't think any of us expected THAT though…"
"Stop bullying Onii-chan!" Tamamo continued to stomp on the sparking Giganto Weapon she had just head butted into a Giganto Weapon shaped hole in the wall.
"So you wasted all your time coming here just to be disposed of by us?" Erubetie murmured, approaching the center of the room. Near her, Granberia's jaw hardened, Tamamo began to toy with her fan, her vengeance against the Giganto weapon ceasing as though it never happened, and Alma…
"Oh, Erubetie-chan," the Succubus waived innocently at the Slime Queen at a very precise distance away. "Could you come over here for a second?"
"What is it, Alma Elma?" Erubetie sighed, but made her way to the other Heavenly Knight, and Alma nodded.
"For the sake of the battles, it would be best if you were to remain at some distance," the Knight of Wind drawled, her expression serious. "It would interfere in my own plans if you were to draw too close before it is your time…"
"Hmph," Erubetie grunted, but stayed where Alma Elma had indicated. If the succubus truly had concocted some scheme, it wouldn't be worth her potential insidious wrath if she were to interfere.
"Perfect," Alma drawled, turning to rejoin the now slightly confused other occupants of the room. At a distance about halfway between where she had put Erubetie and the rest her entire demeanor changed, and she began to happily start skipping. "Oh, it's going to be so much fun to play with Shirou-chwan!"
And thus, what might have been a change to a dramatic last showdown was allowed to remain silly.
"Anyway," Shirou purposefully did his best not to think about what had just happened, and instead focused on the upcoming fight. "So, now that I'm finally here…"
"And why did you come here, anyway, Onii-chan?" Tamamo prompted him, and Shirou suddenly blinked.
"Er, now that I think of it, I can't really remember," he admitted sheepishly, scratching the back of his head. "I mean, somewhere along the lines this just ended up becoming my final destination." He shrugged lamp shading the fact that the author never really had a point where he gave Shirou a clear motivation to head to the Monster Lord's palace. He cleared his throat awkwardly. "But now that I'm here anyway, I might as well take the chance. Could you all please stop harassing humans so much? It's really hard to help promote inter-species peace when you four keep riling everything up."
"Sorry, but no can do," Alma Elma shrugged. "If we don't threaten humans with our power every once in a while they'll go around killing weaker monsters."
"Humans look on us with great hostility," Tamamo added, playing with her fan. "As long as there is hatred we will be forced to use our power…" she trailed off, sniffing at the air curiously. Then her eyes lit up. "Wait, did you bring…"
"I thought I might run into you," Shirou admitted, pulling a plate of thin fried tofu out of his pack. "I think I've managed to make some improvements. Would you like some?"
"You're the best, Onii-chan!" the fox girl threw her arms up in the air like an excited girl, before liberating the godly food and promptly becoming useless to the conversation.
"I remember when we used to be respectable," Granberia muttered, though she made sure not to be looking at Shirou so that nothing Freudian would come out.
"I was hoping to solve this with talking," Shirou admitted, still slightly embarrassed. He paused a moment. "Or cooking…"
"Still gonna fight!" Tamamo crushed that hope, even as she continued to stuff her tiny cheeks.
"You'll only recognize those who are stronger than you, right?" Shirou purposefully ignored the fox girl's interjection, striving to create a dramatic environment for the upcoming battles. "Then I'll prove myself the stronger. I'll defeat you all, and make you accept coexistence! Now let's fight!"
"Oh Dark Gods you better believe we're going to fight," Granberia once again made sure to not be looking at Shirou. Both her hands and her thighs were clenching periodically, both indicators of excitement of one sort or another.
"Well then," Alma Elma licked her lips playfully. "Since Tamamo-chan is busy, I guess I'll be the first…"
*Cue Fight scene…. And it's done!*
"Well," Alma laughed good naturedly. "I guess that's enough for me for one day! You win, Shirou-chwan!"
"Oh thank the gods," Shirou sighed dramatically. It had only been five minutes, but he had spent all of those five twitching nervously. It was nearly a conditioned reaction for him in the Succubus Queen's presence. Then he perked, suddenly realizing something. "Wait, so if you have to obey the rules of the victor, than I can order you to never sexually harass me again!"
Alma Elma froze where she was starting to walk away. Slowly, she turned back to face Shirou. Her expression was no longer playful.
"Oh?" she muttered, and had a brief moment where she had to check to see if Erubetie was maintaining her distance. Yup, still free from influence. Alma realized that the sudden seriousness was all her. "Now I have no problem with coexistence, but that last rule I just can't let slide…"
"But, you just said you're done!" Shirou pointed out, twitching even more now.
"That was before," Alma Elma declared, her clothes fluttering off as she stripped. Shirou blushed, and then blushed harder as the full seductive force of the Queen of the Succubae filled the room. "Instead, it looks like I'll have to get serious for once…"
"Why are you stripping?" Shirou demanded nervously, and Alma Elma smiled at him.
"I can only get serious when I'm naked. Are you ready, Shirou-chwan?" The aura of lust around her grew ominously. "The real fight starts here!"
Alma Elma REALLY liked playing with Shirou.
*Cue a much longer fight scene…. And it's done!"
"That does not count as fighting," Shirou could feel the twitch that had settled just beside his eye as he panted. There were a series of strange wet spots all over his disheveled clothes, and several buttons were undone. "Not fighting at all…"
When Succubae fought it was in the fashion that only a species that existed to prey on men could fight. Most people often mistake it for foreplay.
"Ugh," Alma Elma groaned, trying to force herself to her feet. "I can keep… going…!"
"Wow," Tamamo was impressed. She had never seen Alma Elma that serious before.
"Are you okay?" Shirou found himself asking the succubus. Despite himself, he was starting to get worried for the monster. It wasn't that he disliked her, specifically: just all the things she constantly did to him.
"Thanks, Shirou-chwan," Alma smiled shakily at him, determined to continue. "But I can't lose, not if it means no more playing with my favorite toy!"
"You're really going to get hurt if you keep up like that!" Shirou once more found himself being betrayed by his ideals. On one hand, if he kept going she might get seriously hurt, and that would violate his beliefs.
On the other hand…
Bad Touches! Bad touches by… Shirou suddenly realized a compromise that he might actually be able to live with.
"How about if we do 'human coexistence', and you swear to never, EVER, use your tail on me again?" he offered hopefully. Alma Elma paused, a shaky hand coming up to rub her chin.
"Not the tail, but the rest is alright?" she prompted, asking for confirmation. Shirou twitched again, before sighing the sigh of the doomed and nodding. "That's fine then!" Alma Elma summoned the strength to jump in the air and throw a victory punch to the sky. "I'll get to keep playing with Shirou-chwan!"
"Just put your damn clothes back on," Shirou whimpered, fearing for the future.
"Looks like it's my turn!" Tamamo declared, hoping to the forefront as Alma Elma recovered her clothes.
"Do we really need to fight?" Shirou asked the tiny monster. He knew it was kind of the whole reason he was here, but still… "I mean, you don't have any problem coexisting with humans. Your home village is a human village already!"
"True," Tamamo nodded, taping her lips with the fan seriously. "But I'm fighting for another reason entirely: to defeat you, enslave you, and then bring you back to the Kitsune village so that my entire race can eat your cooking! Forever!"
Shirou stared at her, somehow not able to decide if he was surprised by the bluntness, or amused by it. Similarly, the thought of being able to cook all the time was certainly tempting…
"Really?" he finally asked, not able to think of any other response.
"Really," Tamamo nodded, the power of the earth flooding into her. "It's my duty, for Kitsune kind everywhere!"
"But what if I get hurt in the fight?" he asked, still not quite sure how to respond.
"Er," Tamamo began, folding her arms as she thought that over. "Here, let me show you how to use the earth better real quick," she hastily offered. Shirou nodded, pondering over what it would be like to have more enemies that were determined to make him strong enough to remain unhurt in the middle of a fight. "And after, I'll use nothing but pleasure attacks!"
"Wait, what?" Shirou snapped his head up, staring at the loli-fox.
*Once more, fierce battle erupts… and it's done!*
"Urgh," Tamamo grunted, laying on the ground and radiating adorable. "My people… I have failed you…"
"Another battle with one of the strongest creatures of the land," Shirou declared, twitching nearly as hard as he had after fighting Alma. "And again, it ends up with one of the combatants getting naked and touching me in inappropriate ways." His eyes shot open, and he turned to stare at Erubetie in realization. "And she was naked the entire time!"
"Well, Granberia?" Erubetie prompted.
"What was that?" Granberia turned the other Knight, not able to hear her across the distance Alma Elma had imposed on the Anti-Silly. Inside, her inner maiden was blushing furiously as it fluttered its hands. Shirou had just gotten even stronger, right in front of her! Was it her turn yet?
"So you intend to go last?" Erubetie misinterpreted the question, and started towards where Shirou was massaging his head in frustration. "Then I'm sorry, but your turn will never come…"
"Wa-" Granberia realized that the Slime Queen was line cutting, but cut herself off as the other monster effectively called dibs. Curse her inner maiden for distracting her!
"I'm not like the other two," Erubetie told Shirou, and as he fell into range of her atmosphere changing powers, his own face grew grim. "I will move to crush you, with all of my power."
"Of all the Heavenly Knights, the threat you represent to humanity is the greatest," Shirou shot back, Angel Halo returning to the sheath at his side as Kanshou and Bakuya shimmered into existence. "Though I understand your race's plight, I can't stand by and do nothing. If you're not willing to work with humanity to find a way so both sides can live and prosper, then I'll FORCE you to start considering it!"
*Cue an actual dramatic battle, where both sides valiantly defend the rightness of their ideals, great arguments for each side are launched, and… And it's done. Mostly*
"If you destroy yourself and this continent, then you'll be even worse than the humans!" Shirou shouted, glaring at Erubetie as she prepared her self-destruct technique, a move which would cause her to tear the very earth asunder.
"So long as it destroys you as well, it will be worth it," the defeated Slime Queen gasped, the pain from her wounds making her voice tight.
"Stop this," Shirou hissed, and in his hands new weapons came to be, ones whose powers made Erubetie narrow her eyes in caution. As a slime, her body was impervious to most types of weapons, but she had already seen with her own eyes the strange power that this boy's swords could wield. "Stop this, or I will stop you. If one must die so that hundreds must live, then I will bear that burden."
With the twin lances of Gae Dearg to stop her technique and Gae Buidhe to cause untreatable wounds, even a creature as powerful and impervious as Erubetie could be slain.
Perhaps she realized that, or perhaps she simply decided that it would be best to bide her time, but the technique she had begun preparing faded, and she released Shirou.
"Did my words reach you, Erubetie?" Shirou asked, relieved that he had not been called on to once more be forced to fail, to not be able to save everyone around him.
"Not at all," the Slime Queen glared at him. "But I realized nobody would benefit if we killed each other here. "This fight is over. Granberia will simply be the one to destroy you."
As though her words were a summons, the sound of the Queen of Dragons drawing her sword cut through the air, the promise of steel. Shirou heard it, and turned to face his final foe, the grim smile of one warrior about to face another appearing on his lips, an identical one showing up on the Knight of Fire, as they moved to their final, epic battle, when…
"Erubetie," Alma broke in, interrupting the brewing duel. "If you could…"
"I don't know what you're planning," the Slime Queen declared, following the succubus' finger as she pointed back to where she had put Erubetie back at the start. "But surely now isn't…"
"Just do so," Alma Elma interrupted, a sly smile on her beautiful face. Rolling her eyes, Erubetie obediently made her way back to her prior position.
"When the hell did I make these?" Shirou muttered, staring in confused surprise at the Noble Phantasms that seemed to appear out of nowhere. Then he blinked, and scratched his forehead with Gae Dearg. "Why do the last few minutes feel kind of hazy?"
"Don't worry about it," Alma assured him cheerily. "Now, weren't you about to…" she trailed off, pointing over at Granberia expectantly. Shirou blinked, and then he brightened when he saw his next opponent.
"Granberia!" Shirou shouted happily, joy at his favorite opponent completely surpassing his previous confusion. "It's been so long! Finally, an opponent who won't end up naked!"
Granberia started to open her mouth, then hesitated, and turned away. Inside, inner maiden Granberia was fluttering wildly. 'No good,' she realized with horror. 'I'm too worked up! I don't think I can even manage double entendre at this point!'
"Granberia?" Shirou's voice wavered at the unexpected greeting. "Are you alright?"
'No!' Granberia felt like pulling her hair. 'Now just hurry up and draw your sword so we can get to the good stuff before I embarrass myself!'
"Was it something I did?" Shirou wilted as his favorite opponent apparently spurned him. "Is it… could it be you're mad at me?"
'No, that's not it at all!' she desperately proclaimed in her head.
"Well, if you don't want to fight me anymore, I guess I'll understand," Shirou's voice was hurt, but it was his words which drove Granberia to panic.
'No, we have to fight right now!' was what she attempted to say. What came out was, "I'm going to ride you so hard that both our hips will end up broke!"
Shirou froze. Granberia froze. Tamamo froze as well.
Alma Elma on the other hand, started to giggle.
"Er," Shirou began, backing away slowly. "Did you just…"
'No, Shirou, let me explain,' she tried for, only for , "I'm going to tie you to my bed and make you my bitch."
"Maybe I should, er, be going now," Shirou began to back away quicker now, and Granberia nearly cried at what would no doubt be the loss of her best opponent ever.
'Focus, Granberia!' she shouted at herself, and decided that she needed the big guns if she was going to keep him from running. 'Serene Mind!'
Attaining the ultimate peace of mind and unity with her environment that a warrior like her could achieve, she forced herself to calm down.
"My apologies, Shirou," she declared, and he hesitated. "Though it is regrettable, I too am a monster. When my blood gets too hot, sometimes I'm not able to control myself properly." There, she should have done that ages ago! "Pay no mind to what I say in times like that, and focus simply on the battle at hand."
"Does that mean you don't want to have sex with me?" Shirou perked, relieved that he wasn't about to end up molested by his honorable foe.
"No, I do," Granberia admitted shamelessly, and he twitched again. "However, I want you to know, and believe me when I say that if I had to choose between dragging you to my quarters, violating you with every hole in my body, and then covering my chest with your semen, or fighting you with all my skill in battle which would end with me running every inch of my sword through your chest, I would choose the sword option every time!"
"That was so sweet," Tamamo began, eyes actually watering at the romantic confession.
"That was rather explicit," Alma Elma corrected, actually giving an impressed whistle at the Dragon Queen's bedroom scenario.
"That was the most beautiful thing anyone has said to me since I came to this insane world," Shirou whispered, staring at the swordsmonster with shock. A monster, who despite her biological urges, would throw them all aside so that she could focus on being a warrior, on fighting honorably and skillfully.
"So," Granberia ignored the peanut gallery, instead focusing on her foe. "Let's fuc- er, fight!"
This time, despite her slip, Shirou nodded. For a moment, he seemed conflicted, staring at Granberia as though considering something. Finally, he nodded, apparently coming to a conclusion.
"Would you like to know the nature of my powers?" he asked quite suddenly, causing the swordswoman to hesitate.
"While curious, I would not dream of demanding an explanation, unless I was victorious," Granberia admitted.
"It's fine," Shirou declared, removing Angel Halo and setting it aside. "I am able to recreate any weapon I see. The moment I lay eyes on a sword, or any weapon, I automatically record everything about it, and can later remake it using my magic."
"Interesting," Granberia pursed her lips as her curiosity was sated. "Though how that is relevant…"
"Any sword," he cut her off, and then her eyes snapped open as a blade identical to the one on her back came into existence in his hand. "And I don't just make the sword. Just by looking at one, I can see its history: how it was forged, what battles it's been in, and even," he met her eyes, "how the sword was used."
"You mean…!" she gasped, suddenly realizing how he had been able to reproduce her 'Vaporizing Rebellion Sword' technique so easily back at the volcano.
"However, even if I can make swords, in the end, they're all just fakes," he continued. "Even if I try to recreate a technique, it's just a copy, never quite as good as the original. Because of that, I've never taken pride in my swords. To me, they've always been just tools to use to accomplish my goals."
"Why are you telling me this?" Granberia demanded, eyes narrowing as Shirou revealed his true nature to her. As a swordswoman who prided herself most on her blade, his way of thinking was too strange, too different for her to comprehend.
"Because, just this once," Shirou raised Granberia's sword into a familiar, no, an identical position to her own ready stance. "Just this once, I'm going to take pride. You were willing to put aside your monster nature, so I'm going to put aside my own as a Faker."
"You…" Granberia trailed off, eyes widening as her favored opponent admitted to being willing to face her with her own techniques. "You don't think that simply copying my style will be enough?" she demanded, not sure if she was feeling insulted, or excited at the thought.
"There's no law that says a fake can't surpass the original," Shirou countered, a hard smile forming. Suddenly, fire erupted from the blade, and Granberia's eyes widened as the heat pouring off it rivaled, no, maybe even surpassed her own. "I'm going to pour everything I have into this one technique! Well, Queen of Dragons? Do you accept my challenge?"
"You are never leaving my bed again," she declared, her dragon blood definitely raging too much for normal conversation at this point. Still, this time Shirou seemed to know what she really meant, and fire erupted from her sword as she too assumed the ready position for her most powerful technique.
As one, the two launched at each other, twin shouts of 'Vaporizing Rebellion Sword!' and 'Hurry up and stick it in!" echoing through the room.
Both Shirou and Granberia were enveloped in blazing heat, and steel cut into both human and monster over and over. Neither one was able to counter the others move, only attack with all their vicious might and pray that the other took more damage than they.
It was over in one pass, and they both collapsed to the ground, Granberia's sword bouncing away from her hand and his copy vanishing.
"Er," Alma Elma began, looking between the two. "Is this a double knock out? Or did they both kill each other?"
"I'm not sure," Tamamo admitted, looking between the two worriedly. "Should we get a stick or something to poke them with?"
"Granberia?" Shirou's weak voice proved that at least one of them was still alive. The swordsman started to move, weakly getting one hand underneath him as he flopped until he could face his opponent. "You alive?"
"Yes," Granberia panted, and she too managed to raise herself partly up. From across the distance the two met glances.
"First one to stand up wins?" Shirou suggested with a half-smile.
"Sounds good to me," she continued to pant.
"Are they retarded?" Alma asked Tamamo in a whisper. Tamamo shrugged.
"I think it's just a warrior thing," she whispered back. Onii-chan could be so stupid sometimes!
Even while the two were talking, both Granberia and Shirou were forcing themselves slowly upright. Granberia made it to her knees first, but when she tried to get a foot under her she had to pause to gasp for breath. She was having trouble holding back her pants, her breathing harsh not just from pain.
'Incredible!' she exalted in her head. 'I couldn't tell whose technique was stronger!' Her eyes tracked over to Shirou who had started to put weight on one of his feet. 'He…' she tried to catch up, 'He's so… He….!'
And thus, poor Granberia's dragon blood betrayed her. Overwhelmed with lust , both the bedroom and the battleground kind, her monster nature kicked in, and her legs went out from underneath her as she spontaneously orgasmed so intensely that she blacked out for a second, surrendering the match while simultaneously enjoying the greatest loss in the history of losses.
"Victory is mine, Granberia!" Shirou declared, standing proudly, his wounds already starting to heal. When Granberia didn't say anything, he turned to find the monster laying on the ground, with her eyes rolled back.
"Er, Granberia?" he asked, before he cocked his head to the side. "Why is smoke coming out of her mouth and nose?"
It was a dragon thing.
"How is he doing that?" Alma Elma muttered, watching as Shirou's wounds continued to close at a speed visible to the naked eye.
"Tis simple enough," Tamamo shrugged. "Surely thou too has a healing technique?" The fox was a little curious. She used the power of the moon to heal herself, so what strange method would a succubus use to recover from wounds?
"Er, actually, no," Alma smiled sheepishly. "When I was deciding on what skills to learn, I sort of focused on tail skills rather than healing ones."
"Ah," Tamamo nodded, rubbing her chin surreptitiously. "Well, Erubetie surely has some healing skill, being a slime and all."
"Actually, I've never seen her use one," Alma countered, also frowning slightly as she realized that out of all the Heavenly Knights, only one of them actually had anything in the way of defensive abilities.
"Tis odd," Tamamo finally summed up. By that time Shirou had healed through either convenient use of Avalon, some sort of imitated 'Recover' skill from the original story line, or through sheer Deus Ex Machina for the upcoming scenes.
"There," Shirou declared, folding his arms and nodding. "Now that that's taken care of, I can get on with things." Strangely enough, he found himself glancing around, before he realized that he was unconsciously looking for something. "I feel like I'm forgetting something important…"
At his words, the great doors at the end of the hallway started to open on their own, creaking ominously as they did so. Shirou felt his breath catch for a moment as some enormous, malicious presence made itself known, sweeping over and through him in a way which set his nerves on edge. Then he relaxed.
"Oh," he nodded, remembering. "So that's where Alice got off to."
"Her Majesty?" Alma muttered, suddenly feeling inexplicably nervous.
"Arisufi?" Granberia sounded similarly disturbed.
"Welcome, Shirou, victor of my four Heavenly Knights," Alice's voice sounded colder, harder, more dangerous than it normally did. "No. Welcome, Hero. Now appear before me!"
"She sounds upset," Shirou muttered, casually making his w way through the door. "I bet she's hungry or something. Maybe I should see if she has any requests…"
"Wait, Onii-chan!" Tamamo shouted, suddenly filled with nameless dread at what was about to happen, but it was too late:
The door swung shut behind Shirou, sealing him away from sight.
*Scene Break to omit extra dialogue. Really, things might be getting a bit serious, but this is still a parody, so if you want it all, go download it*
"Alice," Shirou said, his tone low but shocked. "You can't mean to…"
He didn't know what to feel, hearing the determination in his long time nuisance, er, companion's voice. Alice was standing before him, watching with cold eyes after she had made her declaration:
She wanted him to fight her, as a Hero fights the Monster Lord; to the death. The lamia before him, the most powerful of monsters, wanted to sacrifice herself as a symbol to human kind. She wanted to use her own death as the instrument to bring peace between Monsters and men.
Shirou realized coldly, that this what she meant, that day on the hill when she had spoken of making her mother's legacy come true. He suddenly felt an overwhelming surge of anger over this girl, anger and disappointment, and worry as well. How could this girl so calmly state something so morbid, how could she possibly mean to follow through with something so suicidal! It was… It was…!
"Oh my god," Shirou suddenly declared, having an epiphany. "This is what Rin feels like EVERYTIME I do something stupid!" He blinked, the sudden epiphany making him feel a little sheepish. "I should probably get her an apology gift or something…"
"Enough," Alice declared, and Shirou nodded, putting his revelation to the side.
Now was the time for battle.
*Back with the Heavenly Knights*
"I can't hear anything," Alma Elma reported from where she had put her ear on the back of a cup that had its rim placed on the stone wall.
"Oh no," Tamamo was fiddling her tail nervously. "Alice really doesn't mean to go through with this, does she?"
"Knowing the Monster Lord, I wouldn't doubt it," Granberia retorted. She was still on the floor, having decided to just take it easy for a bit. Tamamo gave her a stern look for not being more worried.
"Why are you still smoking?" Tamamo asked, and Granberia shrugged self-consciously as wisps of smoke continued to come out of her lips.
"It was a really good fight," she declared sheepishly, the next stream of smoke actually coming out in a ring.
"I bet it wasn't the fighting that caused it," Tamamo muttered, feeling vaguely jealous of just how good the Dragon Queen apparently got it during the battle.
"Wait," Alma Elma perked, still trying to spy on the battle between the Monster Lord and the Hero. "I think they're starting!"
"Well, maybe it won't be so bad," Tamamo told herself, fidgeting with her fan. "Maybe they're just going to talk it out?"
"Do you really believe that for a moment?" Granberia asked, and Tamamo wilted as no, no she really didn't. "Still, I doubt it will be any worse than when Shirou and I fight…"
An explosion so powerful that every pillar in the room shattered simultaneously occurred. Alma squeaked, and then had to abandon the cup as part of the thick stone door suddenly froze over, thick lines of frost erupting on it. Higher up on the door, another piece of stone began to glow red hot and start to melt. She quickly retreated as a series of enormous sword points started to erupt from all over the door as well, and then she squeaked again as she started to dodge pieces of falling ceiling.
Granberia started to frown as the explosions and sudden signs of violence began to multiply all over the walls.
"Say," she began, finally moving from the ground as she was forced to dodge crumbling scenery as well. "You don't think Shirou was holding back on us, do you?"
*And so an epic battle the likes of which would bring tears of awe and envy to the eyes of any beholder began… and it's done!*
"How naïve," Alice sighed, as Shirou refused to deliver the final blow. "Thinking that peace could be attained without sacrifice. You're passing up your chance, you know."
"You're misunderstanding me again," Shirou declared, panting slightly as he felt the strain from so many close packed battles. "After all, while I would love peace, my ideal is, in the end, to save as many as I can."
"So why?" Alice demanded, concealing rather well just how worn out she was after the fight. She had always known Shirou was strong, unbelievable strong. But to actually experience it for herself… "Why are you passing up this chance to save so many others?"
"In the end, you can't save everyone," Shirou reminded her, smiling tiredly. "You can only reach out to those in your reach, and do the best you can. And the only one here that I want to save right now is you, Alice."
Alice's expression didn't change. "Idiot," she told him, not sure if she was talking to him or herself. "Do you think saying something like that would make me happy?"
Shirou was quiet for a moment, before turning to look at her tail. Alice followed his gaze. At some point during the conversation, the tail had somehow managed to retie the ribbon he had given her so long ago and that she had removed for the fight. Her tail was also bright red as it apparently blushed, and had started to scratch into the thick rock what looked like an umbrella with the words 'Shirou & Alice' in it.
Alice coughed slightly, and shifted until she could block Shirou's view of the treacherous appendage.
"I'll take my chances," Shirou told her dryly.
"Oh brave Shirou!" a new voice interrupted their somewhat twisted tender moment. "What I have feared most of all has come to pass. Seduced by the Monster Lord, you have at last yielded to her wicked ways." The goddess Ilias declared, her pure form emerging from nowhere as the deity frowned at her fallen hero. "After having favored and watched over you for so long, only to be betrayed like this…"
"Um," Shirou spoke up, scratching the back of his head with the recovered Angel Halo. "Who are you?"
Ilias did not face fault. She was too dignified for that. Her eye did twitch however. "I am the goddess Ilias! I've been visiting you in your dreams ever since you began your quest! I never really had to do to any combat evaluations, but if you had failed I would surely have filled that role too! How can thou not recognize me!"
"Oh!" Shirou tapped a fist into an open palm in realization. "Wait, those dreams were real? I thought I had just spent too much time around places named after Ilias."
"You…" Ilia found herself honestly at a loss for words. "I told you it wasn't a dream over and over again! I even attacked you in your visions when you ignored me!"
"Well, yeah you told me, but wouldn't a dream claim it's not a dream? And I was never damaged when I woke up," Shirou defended his past decision to ignore the Ilias dreams rather well, and Ilias twitched again.
"He makes a good point," Alice chimed in, feeling vaguely satisfied with how this conversation was turning out.
"There is no need for your interference, Monster Lord Arisufi," Ilias declared, not at all appreciating Alice's careful insight. "And if a vision of a goddess appears in your sleep, shouldn't you be the least bit more receptive to the quest they give you?"
"Well, no," Shirou frowned, shaking his head slowly as he considered her words. "Actually, only crazy people really do that."
Ilias stared at him for a moment, twitching again. She had spent months trying to get this strange interloper in her domain to do her will, and now he was admitting that he had never even once considered her orders anything more than dreams.
"I'm going to go kill everything now," she finally declared, sighing as she gave up. She should have just gone for the genocide from the beginning, rather than attempting this stupid 'use one Hero to judge all mankind' strategy. Just what had she been drinking when she thought this would be a good idea?
*And flash forward to the good stuff*
Pandemonium had erupted. True to her words when Shirou and Alice emerge from the Monster Lord's chamber, it was to find a scene of open warfare: monsters were fighting against strange chimeric beasts being aided by angel allies.
"What are these things?" Shirou wondered, staring at the weird pseudo-monsters that were aiding the angels.
"Chimeric Monsters," a voice declared dryly. "Creatures made by dark magic at Ilias command."
"The monster hating Ilias ordered their creation?" Alice began, only to be interrupted by Shirou.
"Oh, Promestein! How's it going?" Shirou asked cheerfully, and Alice paused, confused by how her companion knew this angel's name, and how familiar he sounded with her.
"Ah, Shirou," Promestein greeted him back. "It's been a while." She seemed sad. "It's a shame, to meet again under these circumstances…"
"Shirou," Alice prompted, looking between the two guardedly. "How do you know this one?"
"Ah, that's just Promestein," Shirou nodded carelessly. "We've met up a bunch. Don't you remember, Alice…" he trailed off, scratching his head in thought. "Actually, come to think of it, I don't think you two ever met directly…"
"Indeed," Promestein added. "I've always taken care to avoid the Monster Lord's sight. A tricky thing, considering all the adventures the two of us had, the long debates on morality and science…" the lab coat wearing angel sighed, reminiscing over a past with Shirou which obviously was quite developed and significant and just as obviously was added in solely as a gag.
"To have to betray our friendship like this," Shirou seemed saddened, but then scowled as he hardened his heart. That lasted until Alice finally got annoyed with being ignored and promptly smacked him on the back of the head.
"Idiot," she sighed, and Shirou smiled sheepishly before focusing on the fighting.
"To see even the Heavenly Knights pushed like this," he muttered, feeling slightly guilty that he had worn them out so much right before such an important battle. "The forces of heaven sure are tough!"
Despite his casual demeanor, Shirou was tensed on the inside, genuine worry gnawing at him. This wasn't going to be like fighting with monsters. Ilias was clearly aiming for another genocide, just like with Remina so long ago. These angels and monsters were brutal killers, and who knew what fearful punishment they might have in store…
"So," one of the new chimeric monsters declared, one that looked different from many of the beasts that had appeared, and was obviously some kind of future boss fight just waiting to happen. "You're all going to have to die now!"
And despite that, he found himself smiling, albeit grimly. At last, a battle where he didn't have to worry about…
"Except for the Hero," the chimera added on as an afterthought. "We'll just rape him instead."
"Oh, oh!" one of the angels declared cheerfully, waving a hand like she was in class. "I want to rape him too!"
"A Hero who would turn his blade on Ilias?" a well armored angel declared solemnly. "For such a crime, twenty thousand years of continual rape should suffice."
Alice was the only one close enough to Shirou to hear the sound. It was a noise eerily similar to that of the string of some musical instrument snapping quite suddenly. Without changing expression, Alice moved a few feet away from her chef.
"Man," the first angel declared, a cherubim figure with blond hair and blue eyes. "I just love rape! Every day, I go out and rape! It's just so much fun to rape!"
Alice noted another sound. This one reminded her of the sound you'd get if you took the earlier string instrument and just smashed it against a rock. Prudently, she decided to move a few more feet away from Shirou.
"I too favor rape," the armored angel, a Valkyrie declared. "Why, just the other day, I was heading out for my daily raping when…"
Whatever the Valkyrie was about to say was lost as a ferocious howling noise erupted, drowning out even the sound of battle. The cherub had just enough time to squeak as her armored friend exploded, showering blood and guts all over her and the surrounding walls. A brutal wind nearly sent her tumbling, and half a moment later the wall behind the now puddled angel exploded as well, with earth shaking force.
"W-what was that?" the cherub shrieked, as she and both the gathered armies turned to track where the explosion came from.
The eyes of hundreds of creatures settled on Shirou, who was holding a strange looking bow, his hair falling over his eyes in a dark expression. They watched as a new sword appeared in his hand, an evil twisted looking thing. They watched as he put it to the bow, and how the sword started to crackle, sheets of electricity and force shedding off it as he drew the ominous missile back.
The cherub in particular squeaked when she realized that horrific thing was being aimed right at her!
"Say 'rape' one more time," Shirou told her, and she saw death in his eyes.
"N-no!" the cherub stuttered, too scared to think. "No, never! I w-w-won't ever again! I s-s-swear!" Turning, still covered in blood she ran from those ominous eyes. "Not rape! Love!"
*Scene break for minor plot element*
Though no one on that field would ever know it, that cherub would bear the mental scars of that day forever more. Having fled Ilias service, the angel wandered the world, still traumatized, until finally she was taken in by another celestial kingdom. They would always regard her as a bit odd, seeing as she would preach at any chance about the power of love. Eventually, just to get rid of her, they would send her to try and assassinate a demon lord by the name of Laharl.
And that angel's name was Flonne.
*Now, back to the story*
"I'm a nice guy," Shirou continued, letting Caladbolg disappear. He sounded unreasonably reasonable, considering that he just turned a holy creature into a fine red mist. "I like to help people and cook. I'm perfectly fine talking a problem out instead of resorting to violence."
Alice coughed into her hand, severely doubting that last sentence considering some of the fights she had seen him go through, but he ignored her for now.
"I've been pretty lenient on monsters," Shirou continued. "I mean, yeah, they constantly go around assaulting people, but they rarely ever actually severely hurt anything but their victim's pride, and they really do need semen to survive. Heck, most men seem to enjoy it, so I just shake my head and move on for the most part. Every once in a while, I have to settle one down who gets a little too out of line, but I honestly think that humans and monsters really can live together, however awkwardly."
Shirou materialized a sword at that point, and lifted it to point at Ilias, his eyes catching hers across the field.
"But just because I think monsters are okay people, that doesn't meant that I can't get frustrated too! I want to say something about how you're the enemy of peace," he admitted, "and how you're obviously the cause of a great tragedy in the past, and how you're planning on making thousands, no, hundreds of thousands suffer or possibly die for your self-righteous ideal. However, the fact of the matter is, that I just have a lot of frustration at monsters to work out, and seeing as you and your angels are just as likely to rape and a lot more likely to kill afterwards, I'm just going to use you and your army as stress relief and murder every last one of you."
It was such a high handed and unilateral decision, completely devoid of anything resembling care for the other side's condition or even their safety, much less their continued existence, that Alice immediately felt very proud of herself.
Surely it was her good influence being displayed here!
"Bold words, Corrupted Hero Shirou," Ilias called back from where she was hovering over her armies. Really, what did this little human think he could do? It was laughable! "Well, say your prayers, and prepare yourself for your inevitable punishment!"
She was slightly put off when Shirou smiled. "Okay," he agreed readily, and then got down on his knees, hands coming up in front of him, and he began the only prayer he knew.
"My body is made of swords…"
"Hey," one of the altered monsters that had been fighting with the Heavenly Knights earlier and was pretty obviously going to be a boss in the third part of the original series whispered, feeling kind of awkward. "Is this normal?"
"What," another one of the impressive looking monsters who would have been important in the original game responded, also whispering, "The whole praying thing? Well, Ilias did just give him the chance…"
"Yeah, but no one ever really prays at a time like this," the first one declared, feeling oddly nervous. She wasn't quite sure why, seeing as she was an altered Chimeric Monster capable of fighting on the level of the Heavenly Knights themselves. She wasn't really aware of the fact that Shirou had just fought all four, plus the Monster Lord, and was still primed and ready to go. "It's weird!"
"Well," the second important monster hummed to herself. "Maybe he's Shinto? I've heard weird things about those guys…"
Still, it didn't seem right to interrupt a man while he was praying, and so they waited patiently before they could get to the rape.
"…Unlimited Blade Works!" Shirou concluded, still smiling.
"Wow," the first monster finally declared after the sudden waive of flames obliterated everything that had once existed, replacing it with a massive, awe inspiring vista of carnage and weaponry. "So… Shinto. You think they're accepting converts? Cause, I gotta admit, this is pretty impressive."
"Uhhh," the second important monster who didn't even end up getting a description in this parody hummed to herself. "I don't think so. He does look kind of… OH SWEET GODDESS MY SPLEEN!"
"I feel a little better now," Shirou declared, sighing in contentment as several important looking monsters spontaneously exploded via mass application of sharp steel.
"I see," Promestein looked around her, the only one not affected by the sudden and terrifying abilities being displayed by her longtime friend and bosom bud. "So this is the power you were concealing, Shirou."
"Sorry, Prom-chan," Shirou sounded apologetic, but firm. "It's not too late though. You could change sides, turn your back on your sins…"
"No," Promestein declared, readying her power. "It's far too late for that, Shi-chan," she voiced her own nickname as well, a trace of a smile forming on her lips. "In deference of our friendship, I will make this painless."
"I suppose I can't do anything but the same," Shirou sighed bitterly, reaching for a new weapon which was inexplicably closer to him now than it had been a moment ago. Promestein narrowed her eyes at the strange change of positioning of the new weapon.
"Zylphe!" the lab coated angel called on the artificial spirit of the air, meaning to end the fight quickly, but her words were greeted with Shirou's response.
A brief moment of agony was all Promestein felt, and then a soothing numbness started to spread. Not able to understand what had just happened, she looked down to see the red spear piercing her heart.
"S-s-so fast…" she whispered, collapsing to the ground. Her vision was starting to go dark, but she could see her dear friend Shirou standing above her, a face stern, yet strangely gentle as she…
"Erubetie! Remember the distance!" What was that? It sounded like the Succubus from the Knights.
"Still persisting in this stupidity?" and that was the Slime of the Knights. Promestein felt like she was missing something very important to that exchange, something that probably would change her dramatic final moments, but chose instead to focus on her strange friend.
"It seems, that this will be our last meeting, Shi-chan," she whispered as the world dimmed. She gave her strange companion a small smile. "At least we'll always have Paris-"
"Alice!" Shirou yelped as the Monster Lord's tail snapped the angel's neck midway through one of the most cliché lines ever. "What did you do that for?"
Alice casually turned away, finally having mastered whistling as her tail started to flick dirt on the dead angel. Try to get all close with HER chef? Not gonna happen.
"What is this?" Ilias demanded, partly of the Corrupted Hero and partly of herself. This shouldn't be possible! She was a Goddess, for Goddess' sake! She didn't collect all those bottle caps just so some Hero could come out of nowhere and start pulling crap like this! "Nothing of the earth should be able to affect anything from Heaven! How can mere swords and spears touch my angelic host!"
"Because there is no more Heaven," Shirou answered back, willing to overlook Alice's interruption of his moment with his dear, good, not quite entirely platonic friend Promestein. "There isn't any Hell either. Even the Earth is gone. There is nothing anymore: nothing but this hill, and these swords."
"Impossible!" Ilias shouted back, not willing to back down in the face of this mortal's boasts. "And even if that was true, these are just swords! Do you really think swords will be enough!"
"These aren't just any swords," Shirou responded back, deadly serious. "These are swords which have cut rivers, and pierced mountains. Swords that have laid low tyrants, and ended kingdoms. These are swords which have slain devils and demons. There are even swords," and here Shirou's hand trailed across one particular blade, one that filled Ilias with a sense of dread she had never felt before, "even swords that can kill gods."
"You lie!" Ilias shrieked back, and Shirou's smile was like a knife.
"Then come down here, and prove me a braggart," he challenged.
Ilias ground her teeth so hard the angels near her could hear it, but those angels also noticed, somewhat nervously, that she also drifted back a few dozen feet away from her challenger.
"Well," Alice said, experimentally plucking one of the swords from the earth around her. "So this is what you meant when you said 'they're always there'."
"It's a bit complicated," Shirou admitted, sounding a little sheepish despite remaining resolute. "I'll be happy to explain it all later."
"See that you do," Alice told him, before pausing to look out over the gathered armies. "Shirou," she began after, tone serious. "At the start I told you that we were not allies, and that we were simply traveling together so that you could cook for me. Well that changes now. You and I are allies, sharing the same cause."
"And I still have to cook for you?" Shirou prompted, and Alice nodded regally.
"That goes without saying, Personal Chef to the Monster Lord," she told him, and Shirou smiled, despite himself.
"I guess as titles go, that one isn't too bad," he rationalized to himself. "It could have been something stupid, like 'King of Swords' or something."
With that, Shirou turned to the task at hand: the army of angels and the evil Goddess that he was about to face with Alice at his side. Despite himself, he started to grin. He had just the line for this situation!
"Here I come, Queen of the Heavens," he shouted, pulling a set of blades from the ground around him, "Do you have enough angels?"
*Meanwhile, back with the Heavenly Knights*
Granberia looked around solemnly, taking in the world around her. When confronted with this reality, this perfect realm worthy of the longing of any warrior, a realm which all who seek battle should aspire to, the Queen of the Dragons could only think of one response that could possibly be uttered.
"I am never wearing panties again," the Knight of Fire declared, her voice ringing with absolute conviction.
"You wear panties?" Alma Elma gave her fellow knight an odd look, unsure of just why a monster would have any need of underwear.
"Panties are just about the only thing you're wearing," Granberia shot back, feeling oddly embarrassed at having her personal dressing habits looked down on.
"I do not!" Alma declared, actually a little offended by the accusation. She huffed, and crossed her arms. "This is exotic outerwear. And I'm not wearing anything underneath. There's a difference."
"Tis true," Tamamo nodded, agreeing with the succubus. Granberia gave her a quick look.
"And I suppose you're not wearing anything under that," the dragon didn't really need a confirmation, seeing as she had watched Tamamo strip off those fancy kimonos a short time ago when she had made her play at enslaving Shirou.
"Tis the traditional method of wearing such garments," Tamamo justified her lack of undergarments.
"And Erubetie doesn't even wear clothes, so she's out too," Granberia sighed, feeling a little depressed at the habits of her fellow knights. Then again, since she was about to join them, maybe she should be a bit more broadminded. She turned back to watch as Shirou and Alice continued their two person war on the forces of heaven. Inside, she was cursing her own wounds for keeping her from joining in…
Ah, who was she kidding. Best, defeat, ever. She was still smoking for the Dark God's sake!
"To think that Shirou-chan had such a power," Alma summed up for the rest of the knights as she glanced around the strange world.
"Will it be enough to keep you from molesting him further?" Granberia asked, trying to call to light how foolish it was to provoke someone who could literally remake the world.
"Are you going to stop trying to fight him?" Alma shot back, and Granberia looked away, blushing.
"That's different," she defended herself as Alma giggled.
"Still, I hope Onii-chan will be alright," Tamamo fretted. She was still a little worn out from the fight earlier, and she had lost her connection to the full moon when this new world had erupted.
"Hopefully, the two forces will kill each other," Erubetie declared, tone monotonous as she mentioned her preferred outcome to the battle. "With both the human and the Goddess gone, then it will be easier to destroy humanity completely."
"Now, now," Alma tutted, making sure Erubetie was still the proscribed distance away. "I happen to like humanity… Oh! Shirou-chan has made it to Ilias!"
"Let them both die together…" Erubetie began before trailing off as she watched the epic battle begin to unfold.
*Back at the battle*
"So you've made it this far, Corrupted Hero!" Ilias declared, hovering above the battlefield. Alice was currently engaging the masses in general, using Shirou's swords to overcome the angels' natural immunity to most attacks. Further around, the other monsters that had been dragged in to the Unlimited Blade Works were also starting to fight back, and the angels were proving to be kind of a pushover when they could actually be touched.
"Don't think you'll be safe just by flying!" Shirou shouted back, his bow already appearing in his hand.
"Ha! Try whatever you want, but you won't be able to stand to my ultimate technique!" Ilias declared, before a bright light started to form around her. "CONVENIENT PLOT DEVICE ATTAAAAAACK!"
The 'Convenient Plot Device Attack': an ability that the author made up for the final battle purely to set up a gag. It is a fearsome ability, one which manifested itself in whatever method it needed in order to guarantee to be effective against its enemy, and in a matter which helped move the plot along.
For Shirou, he had only a moment before he was confronted with a bright beam of light, so thick and contained it looked like some kind of bar. When confronted with the move, he only had a moment before his instincts took over. He jumped, trying desperately to get over the attack, but it was too high, and it struck him harshly, driving him into the ground.
"Hahaha!" Ilias laughed victoriously, "erk." She cut herself off as Shirou apparently shrugged the attack off, getting back to his feet without any apparent injury. "Well, if one won't work…"
Again and again Ilias launched the 'Convenient Plot Device Attack'. Bar after bar of light came, and Shirou couldn't contain his instinct to jump over the high attacks. Each time he was struck by the BAR as it proved just too HIGH for him to make it over. But still he persisted in…
Ah, screw subtlety.
Over and over Shirou attempted to get over the HIGH BAR, all the while unaware of the effect his actions were having.
The 'Convenient Plot Device Attack' helped move the plot along, after all. Ilias was just mistaken in believing that she was going to be relevant to the plot for much longer.
Shirou on the other hand…
*Back with the Heavenly Knights*
Erubetie's mutterings about both sides killing each other were interrupted by the irresistible sight of Shirou trying to get over that high bar. Slowly, starting at her cheeks but spreading down through the rest of her body, she began to blush a dark purple.
Deep within Erubetie's soul, the fearsome power of the Anti-Silly found itself in under attack by a force, a force far stronger than even the power of Moodius Killius.
This power, metaphorical in nature, could only be called 'The Harem'. And the Anti-Silly found itself no match for The Harem as the purifying force consumed it entirely, freeing Erubetie, no, all of the world, forever from the Anti-Silly's grasp with a metaphorical sound which could be interpreted as 'nom nom nom'.
And then, the force known as The Harem let out a small burp, before preening at its latest meal.
Back in the real world, Erubetie came to a sudden epiphany.
"I want his babies," Erubetie declared, full body blushing at the realization. Alma glanced at her awkwardly, giving the Slime Queen an odd look.
"For lunch?" she asked cautiously, and Erubetie shook her head.
"I want to bear his offspring," Erubetie corrected, and now even Granberia and Tamamo were giving her odd looks. "I want him to impregnate me through feats of copulation so depraved that they will be named after us afterwards."
"Wait, can a slime even get pregnant like that?" Granberia muttered to Tamamo, and the fox just shook her head, equally confused by the sudden change in their odd friend.
"The first daughter will be named Victoria," Erubetie declared, already lost in her school girl fantasy. "She'll be a red slime, taking after her father. The second will favor me, and be more bluish-green, and her name will be Tabitha…"
Slowly, Granberia and Tamamo found themselves backing away, wondering just what had come over their homicidal human-hating ally. Alma was leaning forward, a serious expression on her face as she studied Erubetie.
"The two of them will be the generals of the slime army which will someday wipe all of humanity off the face of the earth," Erubetie continued, and the Fox and Dragon Queens sighed in relief, realizing that whatever had come over her, she was still Erubetie at heart. Alma instead was rubbing her chin.
"I want to play with Shirou all night long," she declared experimentally, before stepping closer to Erubetie, within range of her former mood killing powers and repeated herself. "I want to play with Shirou all night long," she said in the same form, before she brightened. "Erubetie! You're cured!"
"The next set will be twins, one orange and the other yellow…" Erubetie continued, barely even noticing Alma Elma's excited hug. "And legends of their strength will be whispered with dread around the pitiful fugitive campsites as the last of humanity hides itself in fear…"
*And cut to the final scene*
Shirou panted, standing over the body of the former Goddess Ilias, the final corpse atop the mountain of lifeless bodies that had once been the angel army.
"I feel much, much better now," he decided, actually smiling happily as much of the stress that had been building up in him ever since he had begun his journey disappeared. For a moment, he felt a little bad about the horrific genocide he had caused, but he shrugged.
If two people stood with a knife at the others' throat, you could only help one, right? So if humans and monsters were to live, well, someone had to draw the short straw.
He couldn't help but feel that maybe Alice had been having a bigger influence on him then he had thought, but he quickly brushed that thought away.
The important part was that he had saved the monsters and humans, stopped a potential holy war, and he wasn't about to get raped…
His thoughts trailed off as he looked around and took in the fact that he now had a very large number of very powerful monsters who had all, unfortunately, been exposed to his obsession with the high bar.
"Er," he began, sweat starting to break out as he took in the large number of elder succubae, vampires, dragon girls, behemoths, enormous moving landmasses with female shapes, imps, lamia, and dozens of other types of monster girls all standing around him, watching him very, very carefully. "Hi?" he finally tried.
He was immediately greeted by a very loud chorus of "Hi~," coming back to him, most in very suggestive tones.
"So…" the sweat redoubled, and he tried to cautiously find an escape route. "Nice to meet you all?" He found himself talking rather quickly now, nervously beginning to babble. "I'm rather new to Hellgondo. Lovely weather you all have here. And the architecture is really top notch, well, the architecture still standing anyway. Tell me, what do you all do for fun around here?"
"I'm partial to orgies," one succubus volunteered instantly, and Shirou shrank as most of the crowd started to nod along with the suggestion.
"Enough," Shirou sagged in relief as Alice spoke up. The assembled monsters quickly pulled aside, making a path for the Lord as she slithered away from her own, slightly higher pile of corpses. She paused for a moment to verify that yes, her corpse pile was the larger of the two, and with her monster pride assuaged she continued to approach Shirou. "There will be no orgies." She paused for a moment, considering her subjects' inherent natures before amending. "No orgies with this one, anyway."
"Awww," Shirou once more was treated to the surreal sound of hundreds of monsters all making the same noise in unison.
"Oh thank the gods," Shirou whispered in relief as Alice approached. "Quick, Alice, we have to get me out of here! There are so many of them, and so many of them have tails!"
"Of course we'll be leaving," Alice reassured him, and Shirou brightened, knowing truly at that moment that Alice really was a good friend, no matter how much evidence he might have gathered to the contrary during their journey. That hope was promptly shattered as she continued. "We'll be going to my room immediately."
"Your room…" he began, only to eep as the snake woman made it to him, and then rather than stopping instead started to coil around him, trapping him with her body. "Alice?"
"Do you remember what the Soothsayer told you?" she told him, her voice not unkind as she reached down to cradle his cheeks gently with her palms. "About high level monsters, and what it means to have their love?"
"Well, yes," Shirou began, his sweat production increasing. "But what does… Oh!" he cut himself off halfway as the meaning behind that finally penetrated. "Oh!" he brightened, that understanding leading to new understanding. "Oh," he trailed off again, tone cautious as he took the next step in logic. Finally, he looked at Alice in wonder, shy confusion spreading through him. "Oh. Does that mean… Alice… you…?"
"Idiot," she told him gently, smiling slightly. "I've decided. I'm never going to let go of you again," she whispered to him, and Shirou was initially moved by the declaration. That lasted until the coils around him tightened and he realized that maybe she was being literal. "We'll spend the rest of our lives, engaging in untold of pleasure, never ending passion and eternal lovemaking being all we know from now on…"
Now, Shirou might have been slightly touched by Alice's confession. Okay, he was actually a lot touched by it, and not just because he was currently trapped in her tail. For someone like Alice to actually admit her feelings for him, to bare her heart so honestly, well, honestly for Alice anyway, was enough to move him.
That didn't mean that he wasn't frantically trying to find a way out of her current plans for how the two of them would spend their futures together.
And as Alice leaned in for the kiss which would ignite her endless passion and cause her to lose her sanity to the fires of lust, he fell back to his ultimate weapon against the Monster Lord.
"Okay," he agreed readily, and Alice paused, her monster instinct letting her on to the fact that her prey was acting odd.
"Really?" She asked, eyeing him carefully. If he really was giving up, that was fine with her. It would cut down on the time it would take her to break his will to resist.
"Sure," Shirou agreed readily, crossing his fingers as he tried his ploy.
"Well then," Alice told him, leaning forward to start their new debauched future right there on the bodies of their enemies in front of her entire kingdom.
"Seems a shame though," Shirou mused. "Not being able to cook anymore."
"I mean, if all we're going to do is have sex from now on," he continued, "I suppose it's inevitable that I'll eventually lose my touch. If you don't practice, you do forget the little things after a while.
A shiver went down Alice, starting at where her snake parts began at her hips, and moving all the way down her tail. It was an exceedingly odd experience for Shirou, seeing as he felt every inch of that shiver, what with being wrapped in the tail at the moment.
"And without traveling, I won't ever find any new recipes, either," Shirou continued. "Well, who cares about that? I guess we better just head to your room, Alice."
The lamia was quiet for a moment.
"I've decided," she said in the exact same tone as she had earlier, as though the last few minutes hadn't just occurred. "We will retire to my room for a brief interlude, no more than two… okay, three days. Then we will promptly depart to travel the world, ensuring that peace between humans and monsters is progressing, enjoying sumptuous feasts, and frequently destroying the beds of whatever hotel room we happen to have for the night."
"So…" Shirou ran over that proposal briefly before coming to a conclusion. "Pretty much what we've been doing?"
"Only with much more sex," Alice corrected him sternly.
"Oh Alice," Shirou sighed, but couldn't stop a smile from forming.
"Not so fast, Monster Lord!" The two blinked, realizing that for all that they'd just been having a moment, they were still in the middle of an entire army of monsters. "You can't think to monopolize that human!" The speaker was a monster disguised as a human with blonde hair and a blue dress clutching a teddy bear. Around her, several monsters started to nod in support of the outrage at the monopolization of the human who had sparked all of their monster instincts. "All of us should have a turn with him!"
"Hey," one succubus near the speaker gave the petite looking girl an odd look. "Weren't you with Ilias back before…"
"That was then, this is now," Black Alice declared. "It's not healthy to live in the past. Really, just focus on the upcoming orgy."
"Good point," the succubus nodded, joining in on the growing 'Share the Shirou' movement.
"Oh?" Alice hissed, watching as more and more monsters started trying to horn in on her personal chef. "Rebellion? Do you really think to stand against your Monster Lord, and the Heavenly Knights…"
Alice trailed off when she found said Heavenly Knights standing to the side and looking rather awkward. Tamamo was whistling while looking to the side, while Granberia was jerkily refusing to meet her eyes. Erubetie had turned and odd shade of purple since the last time Alice saw her, and was staring directly at Shirou with disturbing intensity and Alma Elma was…
"Share the Shirou-chan!" Alma Elma declared cheerfully, already joining in with the growing unrest. "Down with the tyrannical Monster Lord!"
"Et tu, Knights?" Alice hissed, knowing that their power added to the rest would press even her. Coldly, she drew herself up to prepare to fight for her man, when she paused as Shirou tapped her scales softly.
"Let me try something," Shirou whispered. He had already developed something of a plan, after all.
Hey, if it ain't broke don't fix it, right?
"Well, if I suppose if that's what everyone wants, I could give it a shot," he declared loudly. Cheers erupted and his eye twitched as many in the crowd began to strip then and there. "Seems a shame, being too busy to ever really hold a sword again…"
Granberia froze, and then suddenly appeared between where Alice and Shirou were and the rest of the monsters.
"Rebellion?" the Dragon Queen declared hotly. "Is there anyone here who would dare raise hand against the Monster Lord?"
"Traitor!" Alma Elma declared, pouting at the sudden reversal.
"…And after being with so many monsters," Shirou continued as though the interruption never happened. "I suppose I eventually would get used to tails. Too bad that Alma Elma already promised to never use hers…"
"Long live the Monster Lord!" Alma was then standing next to Granberia, glaring sternly at the rest. "May her reign last a thousand years! Bonzai!"
Even Shirou gave her a blank look at her whimsical triple cross. With a sigh, he just turned to Tamamo.
"Thin fried tofu."
"To think to impose yourselves upon Onii-chan!" And like that the Fox Queen was won over.
"As for you…" Shirou began, turning to Erubetie before trailing off. He hesitated, then sighed. "I got nothing."
"Babies," Erubetie provided for him in her usual tone.
"Babies?" Shirou repeated, feeling like he had missed something that would most likely haunt him for a long time after.
"And I'm in," Erubetie declared, joining the Heavenly Knights once more.
Giving the four a flat look, Alice decided to compromise. "It's decided," she declared. "We will retire to my room for a brief interlude, no more than two… okay, three days. Then we will promptly depart to travel the world, with the Heavenly Knights as an honor guard traveling along, ensuring that peace between humans and monsters is progressing, enjoying sumptuous feasts, and frequently destroying the beds of whatever hotel room we're in, as well as the kitchens…"
"Yes!" Tamamo declared happily.
"…The bath tubs and any public bathing places they might have…"
"The Monster Lord's wisdom is without precedent," Erubetie acknowledged.
"…The front lobby…"
"Bonzai!" Alma Elma's support was in.
"…And…." Alice trailed off, eying Granberia speculatively as she tried to figure out the Heavenly Knight of Fire's preference. The Dragon Queen coughed briefly. Alice's sharp ears picked out the words hidden in the cough.
"…And every public staircase in the building…" Alice trailed off, eying the Fire Knight curiously as her own personal favorite play place was revealed.
"Oh," Alma Elma sounded delightfully scandalized. "You kinky girl you!"
Granberia did not dignify that with a response, beyond a slight blush.
And so as the particulars of Shirou's future interaction with the monster species continued to be ironed out, the man in question couldn't help but wonder how he felt about the future that stretched before him:
Traveling the world, helping people, finding exotic recipes and learning how to improve them, and having lots of sex with what was most likely going to end up being five totally beautiful monster girls.
"Huh," Shirou wondered to himself. "I kinda wish Archer was here so I could rub his face in this."
And they all lived happily ever after.
Except for Flonne.