Honey and Locusts (Thread1)

By spurg

You had initially been bewildered when you had first arrived, confusion and fear eating away at you, all completely normal and reasonable for someone who had effectively been vacuumed up into another realm. A few of your personal belongings had come with you, which were now some of your most prized possessions. A bottle of mead, a worn and well used bible, a ceramic cutlery knife, and a large box of gel pens. You still had almost all of it still, albeit several pens lighter after selling some of the spares as ‘luxury’ goods to high payers in this bizarre medieval world.

After a time you had settled into a behavior of simple work, religious study of what was now a completely unheard of religion, and effectively ‘backpacking’ across the odd pseudo-europe. As you had traveled you had inevitably become bored with it all and frustrated with the fellows around you, mostly due to the almost insane echo of everything you encountered.

‘The Order’ served as a defacto religious hierarchy, effectively roman catholicism but still even somehow worse; Feudal lords allowing unrestrained and unaudited taxmen to roam about demanding coins from any and all; And the absurd social behaviors had finally broke you, and you found yourself signing on to help manage a few horses for a trade caravan headed through ‘monster’ infested lands on its way a far flung colony of the kingdom.

At the time you had scoffed, thinking back on your own ancestors losing their minds over alligators, rhinoceroses, and more. After having obtained a set of rather comfy robes, some snackage, and empty journal you had set out on what you hoped would be a grand cross country adventure and get to laugh at some of the locals as they screamed leviathan about an overgrown catfish or the like.

This is not what had happened however.

As you shifted in your cell, rolling over in the hay, your head thudded loudly in your ears sending pangs of pain across your eyes and making you moan. All of your muscles ached, and hunger gnawed at you. Cool air bite at you, the only clothes you had been allowed to keep were your boxers.

“You shall answer us,” Came a demanding voice from on the other side of the bars in your small cell, you moved your head and eyes to look over at it’s owner only to see one of the ‘monsters’ you had been warned about before having left the kingdom. The woman seemed to have been struck from stone, a literal statuesque looking amazon and perfect in every way as a specimen of a woman save for the large thick paws, heavy grey fur, and large wolfish ears pressing out of her head. Her piercing yellow eyes seemed to gaze directly through your very soul, whether it was this or the head injury that caused you to shudder, you didn’t know.

“I already told you,” You groaned as you screwed your eyes shut, the thudding loud and painful. “I’m not a member of the order.”

“You lie!” She shouts loudly, causing you to grit your teeth in pain at the sudden loud noise. “You carried a codices, you are a member of the order! Admit it!”

Your hands found your face as you began to shudder again, groaning into them. It had already been an hour of this and you were nearly certain it was sometime in the afternoon.

“It’s just a bible lady.”

“So you do not deny you are carrying the codices of the order?”

You sigh exasperated at your current predicament, the thudding in your head keeping a good tempo that not only hurt but frustrated. Was it just a headache or a concussion?

Apparently the ‘monster’ infested lands were in fact another country altogether that the kingdom simply refused to acknowledge because they were racially opposed to the inhabitants; a race of actual monsters who were ruled over by some kind of succubus. The northern route your caravan had taken had brought you and the others near a recently built monster-city and guards had reasonably been dispatched to deal with what was perceived as would be invaders; the others had happily abandoned you after you had fallen from a horse. You honestly couldn’t articulate any kind of argument against your current predicament besides hoping to plead ignorance and hoping for mercy.

All you wanted to do is go out and see this new world and just have something more to your life than working as some kind of peasant farmer until you died.

“I’m not a member of the order, it isn’t a codices, and it doesn’t belong to them. It's mine.” Silence greets your response, you relax slightly as she seems to mull it over.

“You lie!” She shouts, causing you to tense in pain again. “What manner of treachery do you seek to inflict?! Are you a paladin seeking to murder and cause havoc!? Answer me!” All you can do is groan at the loud outburst, breathing out roughly through your hands.

“Captain,” a soft bell-like voice rings out, further beyond and behind your interrogator, sounding small and smooth.

“Yes, of course.” The wolf-woman responds to the voice before turning back to speak at you in more of the loud and demanding tone, “We will resume this later prisoner. For now you will thank Rose for bringing you food and if you even attempt to break the bowl or harm her, I will personally break your wrists.” The last of the statement coming out as an angry doglike growl.

“Thank you Rose. Though curs like him deserve none of your care.” You groan out in pain as your head continues to pound. You can hear the captain stand and pad out of the holding area, exiting through a doorway and seemingly disappearing. The only sound you're met with is the light sound of a pottery bowl clacking on the stone floor of your cell near a food slot at the edge of the bars.

“It’s a stew.” Comes the soft bell-like voice again, followed by a clicking noise, “I hope you like it. If it’s any consolation, I mostly believe you…” She trails off.

The warm scent hits your nose and immediately your mouth begins to water as your immediately recognize it. It’s definitely some kind of beef stew and you can almost taste the pepper and hearty juices of it as you pull your hands from your face and start to sit up and look towards the bars of your cell.

What strikes you first isn’t the beautifully plated food, or that Rose is just as statuesquely beautiful as your loud and demanding interrogator, but rather her immense size, features, and form. Massive paws are pressed together, nearly five inch long claws touching each others tips had to have been the source of the clicking sound; fuzzy round ears set on the sides of her head and a body significantly larger in shape and model than the wolf-captain. If you had to hazard a guess, Rose was some kind of grizzly bear monster. You skin breaks into goosebumps and all the hair on your head begins to stand on end as you stare out at her, practically forgetting your pounding head.

“T-thank you.” You stutter out, slowly and warily approaching the side of the bars where the bowl of steaming stew sat. Your hands find it, cupping it gently and checking the heat of it before lifting it and carrying it back closer to the wall; all the while, Rose’s eyes follow you closely. As you sit back down against the wall, you check over the food and your mouth waters heavily. Large morsels of meat, tomatoes, potatoes and various other greens swim in a hearty smelling broth that begs you to dive in.

>Suggestions

>Dig in

>Try to make conversation while eating

>Make conversation

>pray

>dig in

>Compliment her cooking

You set it down gently, licking at your lips hungrily, before cupping your hands slightly and stealing one last look at Rose before shutting your eyes gently and murmuring a quick prayer over the food as your head gently thudded. It was a habit, you couldn’t deny it or fight it and after having been stuck surrounded by weird zealots on another world it was a welcome part of home and your life; thanking what you considered your creator was just a bonus at this point. You list off the not dying when you fell of the horse, not being killed by the guards, the food, Rose for interrupting your interrogator, and lastly that being a prisoner was better than being dead.

“Um,” She starts quietly right as you begin to finish and you look up only to catch her brilliant blue eyes directly in yours, her head cocked to the side in a curious expression. As you look over her more thoroughly you take in her appearance and can’t help but wonder. Long maple colored hair crowns her head, as well as fur all about her, and set of german-ish styled clothes hug her very large wide, bearish pear-shaped form. A simple white maidens blouse covers her top, though due to her size comes off more as a tubetop which lead into a black corset and a simple skirt that covered over her short legs, the only things peaking out being a large clawed paws. “What are you doing?”

“I uh…,” You start, feeling a bit awkward as memories of high school flash in your head and suddenly realizing that it may not have been wise considering your predicament and assumptions that you were part of some godless anti-monster cult. “I’m praying, thanking God for everything.”

“But I made that,” She motions a large paw towards you and the stew and you mentally sigh in relief, realizing she had no concept of it at all and perhaps that the order didn’t pray.

“Yes, you did, and thank you again for it. I truly do appreciate it. But you didn’t create potatoes, cows, or prevent me from breaking my neck when I fell from the horse… or ensure the guards didn’t kill me when I was capt-”

“The guards would never harm a man on purpose!” She interjects wildly, concern falling over her face.

“On purpose.” You push back following her statement as you wing it, completely unsure of what her point actually meant as your mind careened over what the statement could mean. So far you had only seen monstrous women and all you could think of was the old legends about amazonians capturing men only to breed with and then ‘disposing’ of them. Perhaps these monster women kept men as slave labor? “Accidents can happen, what if one of them had slipped after notching an arrow?”

Rose seems to consider this for a moment and grows silent, seemingly considering why you’d be thankful for something that never was.

Gently you take the bowl and lift it, drinking some of the broth off of it and it stings at your lips and mouth pleasantly that only a hot stew could while you were hungry. Flavors wash over you and you can taste pepper, pooled greasy fat from the meat, and juices from the various vegetables; all of your muscles seem to relax at once and you audibly let out a pleased sound.

“This is the best,” you absently say as you can’t help but smile at her, to which she smiles back and happily claps her claws together, bringing back the clicking sound.

“T-thank you,”

You eat semi-silently, only slurping every now and then and occasionally hissing at the heat of scooping the ingredients into your waiting mouth with your bare hands. Rose happily watches you throughout, though seems somewhat anxious as if she wants to ask something.

“HMmm?” You mumble around a hot mouthful of potato, warm soup dripping into the bowl from your fingers.

Rose only seems to stifle an oncoming laugh, bringing a massive paw to her face and waving the other at you.

“It can wait,” She grins softly, looking away from you as you quickly wolf down the hunk of spud.

“What is it? You seem like you’ve got something on your mind.” Your voice cracks a bit as bits of the spud gets stuck in your throat which you quickly solve with a sip of the soup. The vocal mishap only prompts her to more forcefully cover her mouth with her large paw.

“I noticed, as did others, you didn’t have a sash…” She trails off expectantly, eyes shining in a way the makes you worry but as to why, you have no idea and for the first time since being captured and stripped down to your skivvies; you feel vulnerable.

“What are those for?” You follow back, opting to instead sip on the broth to be able to continue the conversation, curious as to where it would go. You had seen others in the Kingdom wearing sashes, but only men and only when armed. You had assumed, reasonably it had something to do with a military ranking system or perhaps a way of showcasing weapons skill.

“You’re not given in nuptials? Are you not from the Kingdom of men?” She asks curiously, her eyes taking on that shine again and while you don’t feel yourself to be threatened, that naked, vulnerable feeling returns to the air around you.

“Nup- no. No, I’m not married. I’m not, I’m from elsewhere.” You state clearly, wondering where this is going before taking another sip of broth only for your gulp to be quite loud and audible. Your mind reels, wondering if you should mention where you’re really from or keep it to yourself for now; the last time you had considered saying anything you had been run out of a small town. What would these monster people do?

>Vagabond/Foreigner

>Unspecific on details

“I’m a bit of a vagabond, my homeland is very very far away. We don’t have the order or Monsters,” You float, not necessarily lying at all but merely omitting some of the finer details. “We don’t use sashes to signify marriage, we use rings.” You hold up your hands to show her.

“Isn’t that a bit extravagant?!” She asks in almost shock, eyes growing wide as her round little ears flip back, looking worried and in that moment you had realized you had made a bit of a mistake. Fine and rare metals were rare outside of coin and even then most would only ever have a copper piece hit their hands, this was a medieval world afterall; gold and silver were quite uncommon for the common people.

“Uh… they can be made of wood or something else, its more about the symbolism than the material. If you really love someone even string could do...” You try to salvage your previous statement which appears to work as she begins to visibly relax.

“Ah,” Is all she offers as she scratches at her nose with a claw, looking away almost as if she’s embarrassed by her prior outburst.

The two of you sit in awkward silence for a few moments before you get back to work on Rose’s stew. Slurping it down and hungrily devouring it, the bowl quickly comes up empty,your headache seemingly having dissipated, and your stomach full and heavy you have to admit to feeling content despite your situation or surroundings.

“S-so,” you roll the bowl in your hands, slowly approaching the bars of your cell, “Why did you make me food?” You set it down near the food slot on the floor, pushing it gently with your foot as much as you can until it crosses under the edge of the bars and sits on the outside.

“W-well, you didn’t have a sash,” Rose stutters, turning away from you bashfully as her face burns as brightly red as her namesake and your mind reels at what it implies.

“Is that a typical habit for your people?” Your face burns almost as much as hers.

“O-on occasion,” A clawed paw is held up, hiding her face from you as she shifts to use her long hair almost as a curtain to hide herself behind. “M-marriagable men are a sought after resource, having to p-put in a bit of work to rehabilitate is c-considered a… acceptable cost. When I saw you being brought in…. I volunteered.”

“I’m… uh, flattered,” You can feel the heat radiating from your face and can’t help but to likewise look away, choosing instead to focus on the lovely brick work of your cell as you were a sudden fan of masonry. “But I don’t need rehabilitating, I’m just an unfortunate idiot who was in the wrong place at the wrong time.” You move back to the far wall, sitting down and beginning to wring your hands together as they suddenly became clammy and cold.

You had never had a girl confess that she found you attractive, let alone have intentions to pursue you; how attractive she was, albeit being rather gigantic and having some bearish appearance, definitely contributed to this. ‘What are you people?’ You thought absently.

“The Captain will help decide that,” She mentions and you notice her turn to look at you fully again, your own eyes turning to look into hers of their own accord. “If so though…” she trails off, your face burns hot and your head swims. “Y-you wouldn’t be allowed to leave the city though, at least for some years and until they c-could determine you're not with the order.”

“That seems, fair I guess.” You respond, deflating a bit and suddenly unsure as to why. Why would the lack of travel be upsetting when a gorgeous girl, well monster, was wanting to court and possibly marry you? You should be over the moon, but you can’t quite place why you aren’t. Perhaps it was because it was something you inherently believed was impossible. “When, if, I’m let out of here though…. Is there an inn or somewhere I could stay?”

Claws click as she taps them together, her forehead furrowing as her round little ears folded over as if deep in thought and weighing things.

“W-well there is an inn, though I do have a spare room….if and when you’re cleared, from the cell anyways.”

>refuse, technically forbidden

“I’m sorry, but I couldn’t. N-not that you aren’t lovely, and a great cook… it's just kind of forbidden due to my religion for marital reasons. Cohabitation can lead to lust and if unmarried it… its a problem.” Emotions dance over her face, shock then a pleased look and finally something akin to confusion. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to be a bother and I could definitely be sure to visit, especially for meals and…. This is a bit fast too for me. I’d need a lot more time for deciding to get married,” This gets you a bit of smirk from her that slowly breaks into a smile.

“I understand,” Is her response, still smiling in a pleased manner. You had to admit that she was pleasant, but knowing that you could get out of this cell and at least explore the city and experience an entirely unforseen aspect of this otherworld you hadn’t even known of was absolutely intriguing; That, and getting married to a woman you had just met no less, was definitely odd.

A pregnant pause starts to take place only to lead Rose slowly grabbing the bowl from the feed slot and heading over to the doorway, stopping at the door she turns back and waves at you still smiling; to a certain degree it lifts your spirits, feeling assured that everything will turn out alright. As she stepped out you released a breath you hadn’t realized you were holding and felt embarrassed by the whole interaction thinking over it in your head. A giant bear woman had eyes for you in a love-at-first-sight kind of way. ‘Could be worse,’ you thought.

You sat in the cell, waiting after she had left only to be met with time seeming to slow as it ticked down as you waited for anything or anyone to come back down; hell, even as your headache had finally passed you’d have welcomed the Captain's grilling again, anything over this empty waiting. No such luck befell you, so you moved to the hay in the cell and laid down and relaxed as best as you could.

You had only shut your eyes before you began to feel relaxed and started to doze off before a loud slam roused you. Heavy steps plodded loudly towards you and in a daze you sat up, wiping at your face in confusion as the bars of your cell clang loudly and squeaked. Cloth suddenly enveloped your face and chest, landing against you, and for an instant you panice only to then pull it away with ease as you recognize the textures as your own clothing.

“Get up!” The Captain’s voice barks at you in the unlit holding area, “Get dressed, you're leaving. No questions till we get out, understand?!”

“What’s happe-”

“I said no questions!” She barked at you, an almost guttural growl finishing it.

“R-right, sorry.” You stand, blind in the dark and begin putting on your pants; hiking them up and quickly pulling the zipper and doing the button on your trusty jeans before quickly shoving your torso through a T-shirt and wrapping your robes on your arm. You hold out a hand into the inky black, waiting.

“What are you doing?!?” The Captain's voice demands, though a tone of unsurety bleeds into it.

“I can’t see.” You reply plainly as your sleep addled mind begins to wonder if the wolf-woman captain can see in low-light.

There’s a silence that takes hold before a leathery and fur covered hand grasps at your wrist causing you to gasp and try and grasp at the arm the hand belongs to.

“Stop that,” A whisper bites at your ears, the hand tugging on your wrist to lead you in the dark. “And not a word of this to anyone. I am not soft, do you understand?”

“Yes ma’am,” You snap quickly, as you amble about in the dark to what you presume is the exit to the holding area, as you step forth you cross a threshold and a low, muted amount of light meets your eyes. Everything is washed of color, muted tones of black and grey as it's obviously some time in the middle of the night. You can make out the sharp features of the Captain as she pulls you along with your wrist, gently and safely guiding you along. You clear your throat, tugging back on your arm only to have the captain stop and look back at you questioningly.

“I can see decently enough in this light ma’am, you don’t need t-” Your arm is released and she huffs loudly, her features almost unreadable in the low light.

“Not a word of this to anyone,” She quietly hisses at you, “I am not soft of male prisoners and definitely not you. I better not hear about this from anyone!”

“Y-yes ma’am,” You fight yourself not to grin, only to lose and be met with her suddenly turn back away from you and start off suddenly down the hall you find yourself in.

“W-wipe off that grin prisoner. Not a word.” Her tone waivers and you find yourself wondering what kind of a person the Captain actually is. Someone who wants or needs to appear tough despite not actually being that way? Or was it some kind of odd reversal of sex dynamics that monsters had, you being a weak and defensless male needing help and protection while a female would get the third degree? Regardless of the reason you can’t but help find it amusing to a degree as you follow along behind her.

“Yes ma’am, I won’t say anything; I promise.” You can’t be sure in the dark, but her gait and form seems to relax a little.

The two of you march about through a series of areas; halls, followed by more holdings, a staging area that appears to be a guard shack, only to exit out into a semi-lighted region outside with cobblestone walkways and clearly handmade wood and stone buildings with thatched roofs lining the area. Torches have lights dancing about, casting shadows and the scent of lovely smelling wood into the air, and the entire area immediately captivates you. For a moment, you don’t mind the idea of being stuck here for a year or three.

The captain whirls around, facing you quickly before slapping an odd single manacle on your wrist. The cold dull metal of the cuff stares up at you, etched with a purple sigil that gleams in the dark.

“Alright Prisoner, you cannot leave the city’s environs. You'll know them because as you approach the boundaries will suddenly glow, if you do try it, you’ll immediately regret it. The inn is down that way,” She points eastward down a cobblestone pathway, “And your stay has been covered for at least a week, but only for board; you can thank Rose for that. In the morn, the innkeeper can direct you to whatever work needs doing.” The grey furred woman huffs as if frustrated by all this, turning and refusing to look you in the face, “Don’t make me regret this, but don’t think I won’t mind throwing you back into that cell.”

“Thank you ma’am,” Is all you bother to say, not sure what exactly she’s wanting or hoping for; as you finish your words a large paw plops against the top of your head as she seemingly strokes your hair before suddenly turning away and starting to heading back the way she had come wordlessly. All you can think is how odd it is overall before your realize something.

“M- C-Captain!” You yell out at her and she whirls around quickly, her eyes intense as they bore through you as before. “What about my other effects?” You couldn’t just abandon your collection of pens, your bible, knife, or singular bottle of mead. In particular the bible.

“They will be available to you tomorrow, all but your ‘bible’. You may have access to it under supervision but it will not be released to you until we’re sure its not a weapon.” The statement strikes you as odd, bizarre even. What harm could words on paper do?

“I… understand.” You state simply only for her to make a somewhat glum face and whirl about againt to head away.

Standing there in the low-light of the city, smelling the lovely smell of burned aromatic woods, and seeing all of the architecture of handmade homes and businesses you can’t help but feel a bit of wanderlust despite how tired you are. You begin to debate if you should simply head off to the inn to sleep and worry about tomorrow tomorrow, or wander through the cobblestone roads and paths and see what the city has to offer.

>Wander

>>62841

<Mistakes will be made Anon

>>62844

<what?

You elect to wander the city walls as you take a mental note of your surroundings and how it looks in case you get lost and have to find your way back, afterwards you begin to plod off down the cobblestone roadway and look this way and that as you take in the views. As you walk through the low light and cool air you start to become aware of the far off walls that flank behind various buildings, snaking about in the background and surrounding everything; an outer bailey. The stones of it are smooth, angular, and if you had to hazard a guess it looked almost like perfectly poured concrete rather than chiseled out blocks from a quarry.

Turning about as you continued into a wider area, you found yourself in what could only make sense as some kind of market area. Wooden and stone markers and stands were spaced about through the large open space, a fountain gurgled in the center of it as a centerpiece, and the surrounding buildings had the appearance of open air store fronts and pop-up canopies. Taking in the market place and scanning the distance of the wall you estimated the city couldn’t have had more than four hundred people living in the city give or take. Mentally you made a note of how doorways were higher and wider than normal, Rose and her large form flash in your head. ‘Are all ‘monsters’ just as big?’

Absently you began to wonder on that and the differences in concepts and context that even now were still a bit of an issue. When you heard ‘city’, you had momentarily thought hundreds of thousands if not several thousands rather than what amounted to a cozy township of a few hundred; you would have to try and mentally adjust to the differences you thought as your feet carried you on in the dark. You were bound to have some kind of culture shock or clash at some point.

As you walked you looped through an area that appeared to be residential based on the style changes in the buildings and the small front and rear yards that many had, a few had small vegetable gardens or beds of flowers dotting the fronts. Continuing on you found a series of odd shaped circular buildings and what you could almost call ‘factory-like’ with various saw-horses and large tools set in front of them and were covered with large, imposing double doors that looked as if they could be fastened to the outer parts of the buildings. A blacksmith perhaps? A brewery? You carried on in the cool air, only to come to what you could tell had been down the way from where you had started with an inn and a few restaurants surrounding you.

Walking over to the door to the inn you cast a glance up at its signpost, no words are displayed but a carving of what looks like a pack of girls with odd striped sticks surrounding what looks like an animal that’s covered in ropes; you can’t really make out what it is as worn as it is, but the creature looks quite large compared to the girls, perhaps a full grown cow surrounded by children? You simply shake your head, and head into the inn.

The sooty, smokey smell of a hearthfire meets your nose followed by what you can only guess is fresh bread and what almost smells like more of Rose’s stew as you step inside, your traitorous stomach growls loudly as you shut the door behind you and turn to take in the new environment. A series of tables fill the floor space, a fireplace sits in the back with iron cooking implements adorning it as a fire gently crackles in it, and a nearby bar is being manned by rather tall woman with large mouse-like ears and a mop of messy brown hair while on the other side sitting on a chair is a decidedly more dog-like woman than the Captain though shorter than you with thick fluffy sandy blonde fur cover her arms and legs and she’s wearing poorly fitted armor similar to the other guards you had seen and large floppy ears drape to the sides of her head. A hallway leads off somewhere you can’t see, obviously off towards some rooms since this was assumedly the inn.

“That’s probably him now,” The mousy one murmurs only for the dog-girl to hop off her chair and whirl on the spot, bounding over to you quickly, the sound of her clawed feet clacking quite loudly and rapidly as she approaches. “Welcome to the Mouse nest Inn by the way,” Her tone is warm and cheerful despite whatever the time is.

“T-there you are,” She smiles at you nervously, large brown eyes peering at you as one of her arm guards begins to slip only to be quickly grabbed and corrected. “Did you get lost? No one grabbed you did they?” She touches at your arms, sniffing at you.

“No, I’m fine.” You say quickly, “Is crime so bad that I could be kidnapped just on the way?”

The two women look at each other, whatever it is thats being silently communicated isn’t shared before they both look back at you again; mouse with an eager look and the dog looking concerned. The mouse woman beckons you over and you find heading to the bar.

“You really don’t know anything about Monsters, do you?” fur covered paws grasp at your arm and begin to lead you over, her tail swishing back and forth the whole way.

“No.” You reply, moving to sit as the mouse-woman grins at that, in the back of your mind you can only think of the fact that you haven’t seen any male monsters. Were they kept locked in their homes in what was slowly becoming apparent as some kind of bizarre reversed sexism?

“Scatterbrain,” The bartender chides, “Rose already told us as much. I’m Marin, having a nice morning so far?” A golden colored apple migrates quickly from her hands into yours and she gives you a wink.

“Thank you.” You motion with the apple, “I guess I am everything considered. It could be worse.”

“And I’m Kara, I’m a kobold.” The ill-fitted guard happily announces, plunking down next to you at the bar, “Marin’s a rat.”

“Stop that! I am not! I’m just large for a mouse,” Marin’s large round ears fold back, pouting at the comment and looking somewhat embarrassed by it. She huffs slightly before settling on the bar with her arms, leaning on it. “Besides, aren’t you a bit sma-”

“I’m growing into it,” Kara snaps back, her paws moving to readjust part of her set of armor; you can’t help but grin a bit about it which both of them catch and a lull in the conversation starts as you each three look at each other.

Marin wore something similar to what Rose had, though on her smaller, more human sized frame it looked decidedly more classically european in origin and fashion; though her pink belt that was wrapped around her waist seemed to scream against the black of the corset she was wearing. Kara, as you had previously noticed, had various light armor pieces though all of them were ill fit for her small, lithe form. Like all of the monsters you had come across so far they both carried a level of clear cut and general beauty in the presentation of their faces; as well as their bodies overall, which you fought yourself internally not to glance or stare at.

You bite into the apple, which crunches loudly, and immediately are awash with a nice soft and sweet flavor of the fruit. You settle your hands and the bit of free food on the bar, adopting a similarly relaxed pose that the others have.

“Well, anyways… This isn’t a bad place to live but you might not want to go out at night or real early by yourself,” Kara stares at you, eyes seeming to pour over your face and features as if she’s trying to memorize them, “Unless you want to start in on a blind marriage that is,”

“What?” You spit out in surprise, a quick mental image of something akin to a shotgun marriage conjuring up. Being held at the point of a crossbow while vows are exchanged with an enormous monster, maybe even Rose, and all you could do was mentally shake this away; it was crazy and absurd, some of the larger monster women could just grab you if they really wanted, why go through a ceremony? Or were men perhaps treated like the kidnapped brides in asia, snagged and absconded with and only a minor ceremony to make it legal?

“And there aren’t any men?” You ask, confusion beginning to set in on you as you began to ponder why the ‘humans’ you had been with seemed downright superstitious and terrified of the idea of even encountering ‘monsters’.

“Only human ones,” Marin replies, seeming to pick up on your line of thought. A slightly furry hand grasps at your wrist and you find yourself looking into Marin’s eyes, she looks a bit distracted though still smiling as she had earlier.

“Some of the larger, more aggressive girls might just grab you up and take off with you,” She lefts go of you, looking off to the side as your eyes widen in realization and you mentally wonder if you may infact be retarded, “Or maybe ones that have heats, or during the lunar cycle, or if… well almost anything.”

“So… Culturally your people consider that a marriage ceremony?”

“As soon as it hits the womb,” Kara interjects, letting out a chuckle, pressing close as her tail goes nuts, your mind reeling and seizing on ‘it’; your face burns brightly at the realization as you look at the two of them again trying to measure up if you’d have to fight them off because as far as you knew the inn was empty save the three of you.

“Don’t worry about me,” Marin starts with a sing-song voice, almost teasing, “My sister’s would kill me if I tried to make a choice like that without them, so you're safe from me for now.”

Kara nudges you with her elbow, eyeing you while sporting a toothy grin as her tail bangs against your chair with an ever increasing tempo.

“I don’t have those kinds of hang ups though, what do you think abo-”

“No.” You state quickly, realizing where this going and starting to feel a little concerned about it, Kara immediately seems to cool as if icy water had been thrown on her and Marin even looks a bit surprised, “I won’t accept anything unless it's in compliance with my religion. No sex before marriage, and I’d prefer to really get to know someone before even seriously considering getting married.”

Kara seems to deflate a bit though her tail resumes wagging at a significantly slower pace, while Marin appears to perk up and lets out a bit of a laugh.

“Multiple wives?” She probes, mousy ears twitching, apparently feeling out some kind of in, “Is that allowed?”

“Uh…,” You trail off, eyes suddenly very interested in your apple and not necessarily wanting to get into the finer details of polygyny but also the odd, vulnerable feeling coming back on while being pressed for specifics on a relationship with what was now multiple women were easily better looking than the average ‘human’ girl. “I-its pointless anyways, I don’t have a job or a way to provide so I need to focus on that first.”

Kara snorts loudly, an amused look playing out on her face as her ears drop in a relaxed look before she steals a glance at the innkeeper in another silent conversation.

“Well, it's a few hours till daybreak,” Marin offers, leaning on the bar, “You could head off to snag a bit more rest and pick up whatever jobs there may be or you could stay up and chat with us a while, while doing some work that needs done around here.”

You feel a little apprehensive about it overall, though in weighing it, a guaranteed job at the immediate moment was better than no job later; and besides, what if you got stuck working under one of the proclaimed ‘aggressive’ monsters. Your stomach growled loudly once more and Marin grinned like a card-shark.

“I’ll even feed you if you decide to work here for the day, what do you say?”

>Buttling and then job hunt

“It sounds agreeable, I hope you won't mind if I still look for other work as well though,” You say as you hold out your hand in a reflexive social memory. Marin and Kara stop smiling at your answer and look at your hand, a bit of confusion painting their features. “Oh. It’s a handshake,” You scratched at the back of your head feeling foolish about it, “It’s a social behavior, kind of a reflex half of the time.”

Marin has the barest hint of a smile on her lips before she thrust her hand out for you to shake, which you did in a normal and firm manner.

“I don’t mind at all, since the only pay will be food. That said,” Marin glances at her hand as its freed from yours and then motions around the area behind the bar, “Come around and we can start getting breakfast and bread ready,”

You stand and start to make your way around the bar, somewhat aware of Kara’s eyes being glued t your backside as you can feel them. As you pass around the bar, you realize that Marin’s ‘belt’ isn’t one at all but instead her tail that she’s somehow wrapped around her waist. ‘Is it prehensile?’ You absently thought.

“So what’s it like where are you from George?” Kara asks energetically, the rhythmic beat of her tail thumping nearby objects returning; you whirl on the spot, eyes meeting hers.

“George?”

There’s a pause and even the thumping stops as you wrack your mind, trying to figure how she decided you were called George.

“Your not George, the prisoner?” Marin ventures, sounding a bit unsure of things, seeming to tense a little.

“I am the prisoner, but my name isn’t George. Who said my name was George?”

“Rose did,” Marin responds, seeming to relax a touch but still moreso tense than she had been just moments earlier. As you think on it, you hadn’t told her what your name was so why had she assumed it was George of all things? Where did she even get the name in the first place?

“The horse,” You mutter, starting to chuckle before touching at your face, “The horse I fell off of was named George. I was yelling for him when I was grabbed by the guards…. I don’t believe I ever actually told Rose my name.” Marin snorts before letting out a light laugh, Kara however seems a bit incensed by this.

“The city guards would never make such a mistake!” She barks, though the tone is a bit playful rather than hurt, her eyes sharp and glinting.

“Then who’s George?” Marin asks with mirth, one of her hands finds your wrist and gently begins to lead you back into a kitchen area that was behind the bar, “Now then mystery man, we’re going to start with porridge, you know how to cook don’t you?”

“A fair bit of things, but not porridge.” You admit, eyes scanning over the area and trying to familiarize yourself with it. “I’m Anon by the way.” You look to both of them, ensuring that they both were clear on it.

“Well, Anon get that pot,” She motions to a fairly large cast iron cauldron, if filled you’d hazard it could feed a good twenty or so people, “Fill it with water and get it set up on the hearth and we’ll go over the next steps.” She releases your wrist and begins moving about the area, opening up a barrel and fishing out several eggs which she began to place on a counter.

“So Mr. Anon,” Kara starts as you clamber with the cauldron, which was heavier than it looked, “What exactly was that book of yours, since you aren’t one of those order fanatics? Me and some of the other guards saw it, I’ve never seen paper like that before.”

“That’s because its made with cloth,” You replied, smiling about it as you thought about one of your lifelines back home, “It strengthens the paper which allows it to be so much thinner. Marin, where do I get water?” You follow up with, realizing you had no idea where she’d usually get water and remembering that there hadn’t been a pump in front.

“Through that door,” Marin points with one hand as she begins to dexterously crack each of the eggs one by one into a bowl and tossing the shells in another. “It heads right outside and you should see the pump first thing,”

“Thank you,” You murmur, before clambering about with the cauldron as you head out the small distance and in an instant you see the pump. You drop the cauldron beneath it, and mechanically begin pumping it to draw out the water which begins to slosh out.

“And the edges are shiny like a gold coin, how come? How did the maker of it do that?” You hear Kara asking from inside, apparently quite set on her new subject.

“They’re gilded, so it is gold. It’s d-” There’s the sound of something clattering to the floor, but nothing worrisome perhaps just a bowl, “It’s done because it’s an important book.” You keep pumping, watching the water fill and slosh about in the cauldron; some that spills out feels cool and pleasant on your hands, and despite the strain and sweat your beginning to build up you have to admit that you’re enjoying this.

“Does the gold make it worth any coin?” Kara asks after you, her tone sounding more curious than greedy. Curiosity over a book who’s edges are coated with a material that the average person would likely only see a few times in their entire lifetime if they were lucky; she was right to be curious.

“No. Not at all. The gold that lines the pages is completely worthless, the only value is in the words it holds; those are worth far more than gold.” You stop, confident in the fullness of the cauldron and attempt to lift it only to strain against the weight. ‘I’m going to have to get stronger, maybe not just for work either…’

You struggle with the cauldron, moving slowly as you attempt to pull it along until you hit the doorway to go back in; Marin reaches over and helps lift it, almost with ease or at least more ease than you. You eyed her as she walked off with it, carrying it slowly but not hunched or lurching as you had been. ‘How strong is she?’ is all you could think, ‘How strong is Rose then?’ You shudder as you considered the possibility of monsters even larger than the pleasant bear-woman.

“Okay,” Announces Marin as she sets it on the hearth for you, turning with her hands on hips with a sly look; perhaps, you thought, having judged you as someone she could overpower if an opportunity presented itself. “Fetch some of the oats from the one container on the far left under that far cupboard,” You go to look rather quickly, choosing not to dwell on the thoughts plaguing you and find the oats.

“How much?” You ask, looking around for a scoop of some kind.

“Just grab a bowl and fill it all the way,” she replies, and out of the corner of your eye you notice Kara looking over at Marin, whatever she was doing you couldn’t quite tell. You grab a bowl from the top of the counter and studiously fill it completely and head over to cauldron with Marin, going past Kara who apparently is working on adjusting her oversized armor again.

“Is this enough?” You ask, holding it out for inspection to which she happily nods and motions for you to dump it into the cauldron.

“After a while it’ll boil, you’ll need to stir it occasionally and then lessen the heat; not allowing it to boil anymore. Okay?” Marin grins at you in a nice, welcoming manner.

“Got it,” You reply, nodding unable to stop the infectious spread of grinning back. Marin moves and pulls a large wooden stirring spoon from the hearth and hands it to you before heading back behind the bar and starting into prepping more food.

“So what exactly is that book? Who are you really Anon?” Kara asks, tail back to beating out a chaotic theme after she had apparently finished adjusting her armor. You sit there, holding the spoon and glancing at the cauldron, wondering how exactly to answer.

>It’s the testimony of my religion, I’m just a guy trying to get by

“It’s a testimony of my religion. The first half explains the state of things and a big amount of the ‘why’ of everything and explains most of what anyone could need in terms of wisdom or the nature of things, the second half is the fulfillment of prophecies and the granting of true absolution... “ You trail off, wondering if you're bungling the explanation, “Basically. As for who I am,” You shove the end of the spoon into the cauldron absently, stirring it loosely only to have something to do while trying to articulate something and not be awkward. “I’m just a guy trying to get by a long way from home, that and stay on the straight and narrow.”

“Straight and narrow?” Kara asks, out of the corner of your eye you notice even Marin seems to be intrigued by the phrase, having stopped what she’s doing to look in your direction before going about and rummaging with what you assume is flour.

“It’s a turn of phrase from the text… basically: wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction. Usually straight and narrow as a phrase is used to indicate morally upright or doing the right thing,”

“Huh,” Marin says absently as she begins to dump a large amount of flour into the bowl, her tone is off and doesn’t sound all that friendly. “Almost sounds like your some kind of a priest or something,”

“Technically I am,” You reply, tapping the wooden spoon on the edge of the cauldron as you wait for it to properly boil; it isn’t until you look up that you realize that the energy in the room has cooled considerably. The three of you look at each other, Kara’s tail no longer thumping. “Did I say something weird?”

Marin clears her throat before beginning to put away the flour, her hands white with the vestiges of the powder and looking concerned as she makes eye contact.

“‘Human’ priests are usually with the order,” She wipes her dusty hands on a cloth, Kara’s eyes bore into you almost as if she’s sizing you up now, “Or things that are worse.” Her and the kobold glance at each other again, the air growing tense and for a moment you think you can almost understand their private conversation. Worry that you might be some kind of deranged lunatic, that they needed to get the guards, but leaving one or the other here with you would be a risk they can’t take.

“W-what kinds of things do you believe?” Kara asks and you sigh, worried over where this is going but also that you won’t be able to answer in a proper way.

“That's a bit complicated. I’ve obviously said something that's seen as a problem, so let's just rip off the bandaid.” Both of them furrow their foreheads as you glanced nervously at the cauldron again, “Sorry, another expression.” small bubbles begin to float up, but just barely, it had finally just started to get hot enough to boil.

“What does it say about monsters?” Kara blurts out quickly, eyeing you as you glance periodically at the cauldron.

“Nothing. As far as I know I’m the first person from my homeland to meet any, when I was in the human kingdom I thought you all were figments of their superstitions and misunderstandings.” You state plainly, suddenly relaxing a bit and feeling better about what could possibly be asked. “And those I’ve met so far have been quite lovely, the two of you included obviously.”

“W-Well… uh, M-marriage! You said you weren’t okay with being claimed because of your religion!” She states only for a pregnant pause to fill the air, her small paws formed into fists. Was there a question, or had you offended by stating you were unwilling to be taken the issue?

“What’s the problem?” You ask dumbly and noticing the cauldron beginning to bubble you pull it, haltingly and with difficulty, from the fire in the hearth and begin to stir it as you had been told.

“Er… no, wait… I.. mean,” She stutters, seeming to have revealed something inadvertently that she shouldn’t have.

“I think she means to ask what is considered a valid marriage, and if monsters would be excluded.” Marin injects herself back into the conversation smoothly, saving Kara from embarrassment. “As a priest, how can you be allowed to marry? Most cults demand chastity.”

“Marrying outside of the faith is discouraged but not off limits, it does come with a burden of never getting away from proselytizing since converting people is encouraged; any monsters wanting to get married would have to resign themselves to that or convert. Otherwise, I don’t know, is there a reason they wouldn’t be marriable?” Marin snorts at this, Kara however seems to have her mood lightened and the thumping returns, “And since it's not a cult, the preferred standard is that if a man is to serve a congregation he is to be of good standing in the community, married, and preferably with children. Consummating... ” You trail off realizing this line of discussion is probably a mistake.

“No, go on.” Marin prompts, grinning whether it's because she thinks she’ll be proven right or likes where things are going you can’t tell. She grabs a different container, and begins sprinkling the contents in the in process dough.

“In a marriage... consummating is required.” You stir the cauldron, grateful that you have something to look at as you begin to feel awkward about discussing this.

In an instant a lithe arm wraps in yours and hooks, a small body smooshing against your side quickly as a small hand presses onto your chest and tiny mousy girl you hadn’t noticed who had apparently snuck up from behind. Bright emerald eyes bore up at you as you inadvertently let out a surprised yelp, the semi-familiar face framed by a messy set of brown hair.

“I want to convert,” She says softly, grinning up at you.

“Maude!” You hear Marin yell from behind you, “What have I said about sneaking up on my guests!”

“Oh, me too! Me too!” Kara excitedly affirms with Maude’s statement, you recover from your slight shock and go back to stirring the porridge.

“I couldn’t allow that,” You state glumly, stealing another glance at Maude. She was the very image of Marin, if Marin was very very short; if you had to bet, you were sure it would be easy money that she was one of Marin’s sisters.

“Because I hurt your feelings by scaring you?” She holds her hands up like claws and grins sharply, eyes beaming.

“No, it’s because…

>You don’t understand

>Change subject

>Leave when or if possible as to not arouse suspicions

>>63046

<Kara, my bad

“It's because You don’t understand what that means. My religion is based on faith and an absolute reliance and trust in God.” You gently begin to extricate from yourself as you stir the thickening porridge. “Besides, marriage isn’t a means to that end. Maybe we should discuss something else.” Youre starting to believe that all they can think about is sex, and while thats worrisome and could be trouble, you still don’t see how or why they seemed to strike so much fear and worry into the people who had been traveling with; were the more aggressive types so much worse?

“Like the strange man cooking in the inn?” Maude floats, looking you up and down, seeming to size you up, though not all intimidating given her quite small size.

“Thats Anon, he got arrested!” Kara declares happily, her face an image of sublime happiness and carefree over what should probably be spoken of with at least a modicum of seriousness and concern. Maude’s gaze seems to intensify somewhat as she moves back slowly as Marin lets out a bit of a laugh.

“He was traveling with the human kingdom’s usual interlopers, he’s a foreigner and didn’t realize ‘monsters’ were real. He’s probably harmless,” Marin smirks, though you don’t like how she said probably, before grabbing a bowl and heading out to get water from the pump well. “Where’s Mollie?” She calls back into the building.

“Probably still sleeping,” Maude moves past you heading to the bar, but not before wraps tightly on your leg and slides off as she leaves. Her ears fold and she shoots you a parting glance, moreso of curiosity if you had to hazard a guess, before focusing on snagging an apple for herself and one for Kara.

“Thanks, but I was kinda wanting to wait Maude,” You hear the kobold murmur as you keep stirring. You can feel the oats thickening in the cauldron, slowly turning into a decent hot cereal. Thinking on it, wouldn’t this be an oatmeal cereal and not porridge?

“Oh?”

“You know that food always tastes better if its made by a man,” just barely you hear her and you feel your face involuntarily pull into a half smile and can’t help but find it endearing. Sweet almost.

“Don’t be silly,” The small mouse chides her, followed by the loud crunch of a bite being taken from an apple.

Turning round you notice Marin coming back in as she begins to pour the water into the dough mixture, only to begin immediately slamming her small hands into rapidly and turning over the wet material. Maude looks on, biting hunks out of her apple while Kara sits by patiently, seemingly trying to avoid being noticed looking in your direction.

“The porridge is done, I think…” You hazard, thumping sounds begin to resonate from Kara’s chair and Marin looks somewhat pleased by the announcement.

“Not quite yet, come around and grab a few things to throw into it, then it’ll be ready.” She snags a handful of flour and tosses it into the dough as she’s kneading it, apparently unhappy with the dough sticking to her hands, you begin the task of heading over and waiting for direction. “Black treacle and butter, they’re under the bar.”

She moves for you as you squat and begin looking, the butter is rather easy as you quickly identify it but you have no idea what black treacle is. You can feel her eyes on you as she continues to knead the dough, you sit there looking and after awhile it becomes apparent that she’s just staring at you; maybe your rear.

“Whe-” You start, only to be cut off.

“Er y-yeah, container to your right. The one ceramic one.” Marin states quickly, sounding a bit harried in the fact that she was caught ogling.

“Smooth,” Maude mutters between bites of apple while Karra laughs softly.

Grabbing the container you open it and immediately recognize the black treacle. The smell grabs you, sour and earthy and overpoweringly sweet.

“Molasses,” You state plainly, looking at Marin who seems lost in your alien word for the sweetener. You give her a reassuring smile and head off for the cauldron, “Okay, I know what to do.”

You spoon out a few of the stirring spoons worth, throw in a dollop of butter and begin stirring it. Slowly it turns a darker and smoother shade of brown and begins to smell significantly better, effectively a poor man's brown sugar oatmeal. There’s a slight clicking that you recognize as someone who had always had dogs growing up and turn to see Kara bounding over to you, two bowls held out with a happy look on her face.

You spoon out some of the porridge into both for her and look over at Marin questioningly, she continues to knead her forming dough and seems more pleased with the work of it than she had earlier.

“Is there anything else y-”

“You need to have breakfast!” Kara shoves the second bowl at you, tail wagging away, “So let's go eat first.” Marin simply nods to you.

As you take the bowl one of her paws snags your arm as she begins to bring you with her back to the bar, her tail knocking against your thigh all the way. Gently she releases you, motioning for you to sit between her and Maude, and taking her seat, beams at the smaller mouse-woman. Following suit, you sit and grab a nearby spoon from the bar.

Quietly you bow your head and shut your eyes, folding your hands on themselves and begin listing off everything you can think of; being released from the cell, that so far everyone you had met seemed to be a decent person, for another sunrise. Looking up as you finish the three of them are all staring at you curiously and all you can do is smile sheepishly.

“Yes?” You ask, knowing this might be a repeat of earlier with Rose.

“What was that?” Asks Maude eyeing you, the tip of her tail poking at your side.

“Oh! You were asleep already when Rose explained things. He was praying,” Kara states as Marin finishes with her kneading and begins hunting for something, “It’s a showing of thanks… I think a-anyways, to his god.”

“The.” You state in what you hoped would be a warm tone as you scoop a spoonful of the oatmeal ‘porridge’. “There’s only ‘the’ God.” You quickly spoon in the hot cereal, and immediately enjoy the sweet and simple taste of it.

“How can you be sure there’s only one?” Maude follows your statement, biting into her apple loudly again. You motion that you’ll answer in a second, only to notice Kara looking at you expectantly.

“The universe isn’t chaos. Things have rules and order,” You answer after swallowing roughly at the thick cereal. You cough, your throat dries from it and start to try and get up only for Marin to set a glass of milk in front of you on the bar. You take a swig and then clear your throat, the raw milk pleasant and cooling, “Thank you Marin. The planets, the stars, even animals and plants all follow specialized natural laws. If there were multiple gods, rather than a singular God, shouldn’t there be chaos and contradictory sets of natural laws?”

Maude and Marin seem to consider this for a time while Kara gives up on waiting and simply tugs on your shirt for your attention. As you look to her, you notice she hasn’t even begun to touch her food.

“I want you to teach me,” her face is determined and the tone is dramatically different from Maude’s claim of wanting to convert. She seems serious and part of you wonder at the motivations behind it, but based on how she’s behaved so far it can’t be anything but moderately innocent. “Saying thank you is important,” she finishes off and that seals it for you.

“Okay,” You mime placing your hands together, “So you’ll place your hands together like this,” She begins to copy you, Marin pausing in her task to watch.

“And my eyes and head?” She asks suddenly.

“I just do that to help me focus on what I’m doing so I don’t get distracted, you don’t have to if you don’t want.” She shuts her eyes and breathes out slowly, her tail still wagging about excitedly. “And then just go through everything you're thankful for, the food in particular.”

Kara just hums as her tail slows, her lips seeming to trace out words silently before she stops and beams happily and begins spooning the porridge in as fast as she can before looking directly at Maude and humming an affirmative about the porridge. You can’t help but snort and grin.

‘It’s probably just overly sweet from the molasses,’ Is all you can think.

Marin, flops a pile of dough into a pan and heads off for the hearth, setting it up to cook and slapping a lid on the cauldron before coming back; you simply work on the porridge.

“Is there anything else for now?” You ask expectantly, wondering if there's going to anything else or perhaps a series of tasks you have no idea about. Your mind flashes to the milk and all you can think of is that you have no idea how to milk a cow.

“Not until the regulars which might be a few hours, you might want to get a nap in if you’d like.” Marin answers, pointing towards to off hallway that would clearly lead into a secondary part of the inn.

>Nap

<Lock door

“I think I’ll do that,” You nod, feeling a yawn coming on, “Where is my room supposed to be?” Marin yet again motions to the hallway as she had earlier, almost mechanically, a clearly heavily repeated and rehearsed behavior.

“Down the hall, third door on the right.” She states matter of factly, and holds out her hand for your now empty bowl. You hand it off before starting to head off for your room only to hear a familiar soft clicking, albeit much quieter than before, behind you.

You turn back slightly as you begin to hit the hallway, already knowing who is behind, just not why. She couldn’t possibly be trying to do that, could she? You start to open your mouth the form some kind of question before you’re cut off.

“S-sorry,” Kara smiles sheepishly, “I… kind of forgot to tell you stuff f-for your release.”

“Oh,” You reply in a bit of surprise, “It’s no problem.”

Kara just stares at you happily, tail wagging as she fidgets with her paws while you wait as the pause in the conversation grows. Her eyes light over your face, almost as if tracing the details of it, trying to memorize it.

“So…” You start, hoping to get things going again.

“Y-yes, right!” She says excitedly, her small clawed digits steepling on her paws as she fidgets a little, “The Captain wanted you to go see the er… uh, it's one of the big wigs who counts residents for government stuff?”

“So I’ll need to head over to let them know I’m here and will be living here?” Kara nods emphatically and you find yourself wondering if she was assigned to deal with you simply because she was new and unsure of herself as a guard.

“Oh! A-and Ms. Rose wanted to talk to you later about something,” She seems to make a bit of a face at this, just the beginnings of a frown and you wonder if its because she doesn’t like Rose or perhaps because she’s now considered a rival because of you. “D-did I do good?” She asks curiously, obviously invested in how you’ll respond.

“Yes, you did good Kara, thank you.” You say as you find yourself reaching out and patting her head, giving one of her floppy dog ears a ruffle as you smile. It honestly felt like the most natural thing in the world even as she seemed to melt at the touch and lean into your hand. “I need to sleep now, I’ll see you later. Okay?”

“Okay,” She says quietly while smiling and heading off back for the bar with the other two girls. You go and begin heading towards your room, plodding slowly and really beginning to feel the heavy oatmeal settling in your stomach; sleep should be easy.

As you head into the room you become aware of a smell of fresh wood that seems to permeate everything, absently you touch at the bedframe with houses a rather large bed made of natural wood and realize where the smell is coming from; you can even see the tool marks left in the frame. You check the door, finding no discernable way to lock it, you survey the dark room and after having found a chair, jam it against the door. You are alone. Heading back to the bed, you strip off your shirt and flop down on it.

‘It has to be a king size’ you think as you wriggle on it, feeling the packed straw shift beneath the sheet, and as you lay there you wonder only shortly about why Rose would’ve gotten you a room with such a big bed or if all the beds are this large. You weren’t sure but Rose at least seemed less aggressive, perhaps beds this size were standard in a place where the average guest could be gigantic.

Grabbing at the cover to the side of you, you fold it up and over to fully wrap yourself in it, and slowly relax and begin to drift off peacefully as your full stomach weighs you down into sleep.

--

Slowly you open your eyes and light streams down illuminating a large banquet hall. Dark blue and purple clothes hang from walls, forming beautifully handmade tapestries, walls lined with bookshelves whose only spacings are large grand windows that stretch high with domed tops. The table before you is littered with various kinds of meats, fruits, and vegetables; most of which you can’t recognize but smell heavenly.

Quickly you begin to become aware of a series of people moving about in the room or simply engaging in rather typical behaviors. A dark blue skinned, horned woman sitting at the head of the table, what you can only guess are various waiting staff mulling in and out all with clawed shoes and feathers sprouting from their wrists and rears, two women neighby who look like varying degrees of goat, a few random men here and there, and the wolfish Captain who is the only one you recognize; all simply conversing in a strange and muted tone, like trying to listen to music while underwater.

“Hello?” You ask loudly, stepping forward as you survey the room. Everyone seems to be eating and completely oblivious to you, and it isn't until one of the feathery waiting-women steps through you that you realize what's happening. ‘What a weird thing to dream’, you think absently to yourself. This goes on for a time and you slowly become a bit exasperated at this, it isn’t until a few of the various diners begin cough and reacting that your confusion at the sedentary dream turns to worry. Slowly, one by one, each of them goes into a fit after panicking; only to fall over, presumably dead. The feathery waiting-women screaming in terror and fleeing the area.

“This is definitely a totally normal thing to dream,” You say to yourself and in an instant the entirety of the dream shifts violently. You’re now in a kitchen, and based on the various feathery women heading in and out of it, part of you assumes this was earlier to the mass deaths. Confused by this development you scan the room, trying to make some kind of narrative sense of what you're seeing and experiencing.

Two chefs stand nearby; one who looks like some kind of bovine pagan fertility goddess, aside from being dressed, and the other what appears to be a human woman. Neither are facing you as they work, its only until the human woman turns round that your eyes sting sharply forcing you to screw them shut; faintly in the other room you can hear screaming, the mass poisoning playing out once again.

In an instant your eyes slam open, and you realize that you're the one screaming; icy cold, somethings, press roughly into your back and immediately you leap up in complete disorientation. You stumble around, no idea where you are, light pours in from a nearby window as you whirl and look at the bed you had been sleeping only to find it not empty.

“What are you doing in my bed?!” Demands what is now a third and even smaller mouse-girl, her eyes glare daggers at you and for a moment you wonder if you had made a mistake. Had you counted the doors correctly? It had been three on the right, wasn’t it?

None of that matters however as theres a sudden thud at the door only to be followed by frenzied banging and yelling.

“Anon what's wrong?! Why is the door stuck?” Marin yells in.

“There’s some weirdo in my room!” Yells the little interloper back, what sounds were on the other side of the door cease for a moment only for even more frenzied bangind and incoherent yelling. Quickly you hurry over, grasp the chair and kick its feet free; the door slamming open rapidly as Marin and Maude shove themselves in past you. Each of them are yelling at this third mouse, who can only assume is Mollie.

“I thought we all agreed? And youre doing this,” Maude hisses at her, tiny fists balled up and clearly looking incredibly pissed; Marin however looks like she’s about to cry, arms folded.

“I didn’t do anything! I woke up with him in here and decided to kick him out of my bed!” Marin groans at this and steps over to inspect you, her and Maude both sniffing at the air for some reason.

“This isn’t your room!” Maude yells at her.

“She didn’t do anything, di-” Marin grasps your arm, slowly pulling you from the room gently and

“N-no. No, not at all. Just cold feet on my back.” You sigh, feeling somewhat silly, “I did go to the correct room right?” You look about as your herded out, Maude and Mollie yelling at each other, you count the doors and all just be sure.

“Yes,” Marin answers in a somewhat resigned way. As the two of you head back out the Inn’s dining area looks completely different in the day, as well as more alive with a handful of various people in it. A pair of wolfish looking guards, a man and what looks like a large snake-woman bundled in a large coat having lunch, and for a moment you shudder as your skin goes clammy as you spy a similarly shaped cow woman to the one from your dream sits at the bar. Her horns, hauntingly, appear to be the same shape as the ones you saw in your dream. Obviously a coincidence

“What was that about? I mean, besides the obvious,” You ask, trying not to look at the bovine-woman as you try to distract yourself from the odd sinking feeling that's taking over your gut. Her face shifts back to looking upset as she has you sit at the bar, you turn away from the cow woman trying not to look at her and not because her section of the bar’s tabletop is being used to hold the weight of a very considerable chest.

“You probably didn’t realize,” Marin sits next to you, her voice a bit low and hushed as she gently touches at your knee, her eyes looking glassy like she might cry, “I’m defective.” Her spare hand motions at herself.

“How do you mean?” Your mind begins to whirl through all of the various different issues it could be. Did she have a peg leg under that dress? Was she colorblind? A tumor?

“My sisters are normal, for mice anyways.” She huffs, looking away from you, “I'm just this freakish giant. We all kind of agreed that we’d all, well… like I asked about this morning. It’s caused problems and all three of us have basically been stuck in this limbo because of me, and I thought Mollie had...” Your head spins and for a moment you forget about your dream and the weight in your stomach, you almost want to laugh but know you shouldn’t.

“Marin,” You start, hand grasping hers on your knee, “I think you look great and would be fine without your sisters.” The change in her is rather immediate as she turns beet red and turns away from you, obviously embarrassed by it.

“That's sweet,” Lulls a voice behind you and you feel yourself breaking out into a cold sweat, images of the banquet and subsequent events playing out in your head. “Is this boy someone you're sweet on Marin?”

“I… I’ve only just met him Delphie,” Marin turns back, to talk to the cow woman on the other side of you and swallowing dryly, you turn to face her. She’s an older woman, with crows feet at her eyes, sharp auburn colored eyes stare down at you while long drooping cow ears hang from her head; she smiles sweetly at you beneath a crown of black and white hair.

“Well you shouldn’t wait too long, someone might grab him up. I’ll see you tomorrow after I get a dessert from you, do you still have those sweet breads?”

“Castle!?” You ask quickly and perhaps too loudly; you hadn’t seen one when you toured the town and doubted you could have missed something that large. Morbidly, you mentally noted another parallel with your dream. “There’s a castle here?”

“Right, you wouldn’t know. Its covered over with an illusion so it doesn’t obstruct the v-” Marin starts, only for you to interrupt.

“Magic?” Your voice is incredulous, you’d almost guess it was an odd joke if they hadn’t sounded so matter of fact. That and these were ‘monsters’ after all, something you had only recently considered a bad joke. “I’ve uh… I’ve got to go, I think. The castle is where I’d report for residency, right?”

“Yes,” Delphie the cow-woman lulls out, smiling at you as Marin gets up and goes about hunting down some sweet bread for her; for you that was enough and you took off, heading out; no idea where you were actually going, but only that you might need to get there before Delphie or at least to confirm your dream impossible.

The pit in your stomach aches, a cool sweat covers you and makes you clammy as a sensation you can only describe as not coming from yourself washes over you. You mind plays over the reel of your dream footage, each of the details, the faces, the muted out sounds, and the human woman who, with each replaying, you became more and more certain was the one who poisoned them all. You were lost in this, until you walked into something and tumbled to the ground in a rush.

“George!” A joyful, bell like voice calls out to you while you're laid out on the ground, the mountain of a woman reaches down and picks you up in soft, large paws and sets you back on your feet. “I was just going to g-”

“Wait!” You interrupt, “My name is Anon and I’m glad to see you too, George was the horse and the guards messed up. But that doesnt matter, where’s the castle?”

“Are you in a hurry? Did something happen?” She holds up a paw, tapping a claw on her chin.

“Hopefully not,” You state, feeling a bit befuddled by it all and unsure if you should even try to explain, “I need to sort out my residency I think was?”

“Well, come with me then.” A large fuzzy paw is held out to you and she smiles cheerfully, not knowing what else you can do, you take it. Her large paw envelopes your hand almost completely and ever so slowly she begins to lead you through the town.

One of the first things you notice as you start to lag behind is small and rather cute bear tail sticking out of a hole in her skirt, and quickly you attempt to squash any thoughts you have of Rose’s large and shapely rear. The second is the differences in stride, for every three or five of your steps, Rose is only taking something more than a step. Warmth spreads from her touch into your hand however, in after a few moments as your lead by the hand you begin to feel yourself calming though still feeling a deep urgency to get to the castle.

“Anon is a nice name,” She says absently before looking at you with a bright smile, its saccharine and unlike the initial conversation with the other girls seemed devoid of anything ulterior. Did she really have a chaste crush on you, at first sight at that? What could she possibly see in you?

“T-thank you, Rose is a pretty name.” You respond and she quickly blushes and looks away, your hand being gently squeezed in hers.

“S-sorry I wasn’t able to get away from work to see you earlier, I had planned to come talk to you for breakfast but I had to move a bunch of casks.” She explains, still leading on.

“Casks? Are you a brewer?” You ask, actual curiosity driving your question as well as hoping you could poach a job in a field you at least knew something about. You had made beer before, it wasn’t an overly complicated process.

“Mead maker actually.” She gives you a goofy smile, “I know some don’t consider it much, and I’m not the best, but I do enjoy it.”

“No, that's great that you have something you enjoy. Would you mind selling me any? O-once I have money, I mean.” You feel your face burn a bit, unsure why exactly, but you definitely feel bashful over the statement.

“How bout with dinner, I’ll bring it by the inn later tonight.” She stops and turns to face you, her other large paw patting getting at your head and petting your messy hair while wearing a bemused look on her face.

“I think I’d like that,” You smile at her, most of the worry and weight melting away as you feel safe and warm.

“W-well, we’re here. Would you like me to come with you?” She asks earnestly, part of you can tell that she wants to just be near and likely talk with you more at length.

>go it alone

You contemplate it quickly, unsure what you really should do but figure alone might be best just in case. What if you found more things that lined up with your dream? You would have to act, how would you explain any of that if timing mattered? At best, you’d just be gone for a good half hour and be awkward, you could handle that on your own.

“I should only be a bit or so,” You start, feeling unsure of the direction of all this, “I don’t know of anything other than the inn really…”

“There’s a garden with benches just around the bend here,” Rose smiles and motions, smiling at you, as she picks up what you're trying to say. “I’ll wait for you over there, okay?”

“That should be fine,” You smile up at her and she goes back to gently patting your head again before beginning to head off, only stopping for a moment to look over her shoulder at you for a moment and heading on finally, smiling brightly all the while. With that you feel the weight return to your stomach and you resign yourself to heading in and getting this over with.

You hadn’t waited long in the waiting area but your nerves were slowly calming, though the slight disorientation of entering a small building only to be inside an expansive one had been trying itself. The rugs, the tapestries, the decor was all wrong. You had breathed a relieved sigh, and had practically fallen into the waiting chair a mess as you mentally chastised yourself for starting to lose it. It was just a dream.

“Mr. Anon,” A voice in another room calls out to you, as you look up at the doorway your blood runs cold. A woman with the weird feathery wrists, clawed boots, and dressed as a maid stands before you, despite not knowing at all what kind of monster she is, something about her puts you completely at ease. “Everything seems to be in order and it looks as if you're ready to fully start your probation. However, the Mistress wants to speak to you first.”

“That sounds fine.” You nod, standing to follow her, “By the way, no one’s said… how long is the probation?” You hold up your manacled hand, the purple sigil on it shining brightly. “I don’t mind having to wear it, but what if it starts to rust or chaff me?”

“Oh, enchanted items like that wont sir.” She states simply, then motions that you should follow her before beginning to lead you through the building. Her odd boots clack in the silence and after a moment or two of this, you become annoyed.

“You never said how long, no one has. How long would I happen to need to wear this?” You ask, trying to not allow the annoyance slip into your voice. The entire time you had been here, processing through various proto-bureaucracy, and no one was willing to tell you anything in specific.

“The way that I understand it, it’s dependent on you sir,” she states matter-of-factly.

“Could you elaborate?”

“I’ve only seen them removed from probationers after they’re married sir,” She states, which surprises and confuses you.

“How would marrying prove that I’m not with the order or evil?” You blurt out, completely perplexed by this line of reasoning only to be met with the feathery woman stopping and looking at you like you’re insane but a look of realization flashes over her.

“How much do you know about our kind sir?” She asks frankly as she wrung her hands together.

“I’m trying to learn as I go,” You admit.

“W-when married, part of our essences… mana, is imparted to our husbands which changes them in various ways. For some its...physically, others it can be by making them purer in spirit.” She drops the sir, apparently getting lost in the explanation.

“And that's through your kind’s overly forward way?” You ask and you notice her starting to blush deeply.

“Y-yes ma-er…. Sir.”

“Huh,” Is all you can manage as you begin to think over the implications of it. It was potentially terrifying in concept but you couldn’t necessarily argue with it. Stepford wives treatment but for men? Or was it truly something that rehabilitated and changed those altered by it for the better?

The feathery woman seems to recover somewhat from her embarrassment and motions again to follow her, which you do, still trying to puzzle out everything. You don’t look up or really pay attention till you hear the feathery woman stop walking.

“Mistress, here he is as requested.”

Before you a dark blue horned woman sitting on the edge of a banquet table, wine glass in hand, as black and red eyes bore into you and all you can feel is an icy panic dropping into your stomach. Your eyes snap about, trying to take in the environment quickly as you're sure you're beginning to go pale. Everything is exactly the same, save for the tapestries and rugs which are currently a soft red color; while part of you is relieved by this, the rational part of your brain begins trying to tell you that your lying eyes saw wrong in your dream.

“Oh, Mr. Anon you don’t need to be nervous, I am lady Gelen.” The blue woman says in what was clearly meant to be a reassuring tone, “I promise I won’t bite, well… unless you ask nicely.” She smiles, and a row of somewhat predatory teeth peak out from behind ruby colored lips; the feathery woman covers her mouth, seemingly to suppress a laugh or hide her smile. “I hope you don’t mind, I wanted to talk to you about the book you were found with.” She turns and setting down the glass, hops from the table and grabs your bible with it being wrapped in a swaddle of what appears to be an animal skin.

“O-okay,” You stammer, your voice cracking nervously as your mind replays the scene of death in the room like an overlayed projection.

“Try to calm down, it’s okay, I promise you don’t have to be scared of me. You’re a priest aren’t you?” She touches at your arm gently as her tone carries an even softer tone. She sniffs at the air tentatively, she sets down the bible between the two of you on the table, and while using the animal skin to open it, flips it open into a chapter of Genesis. The text seems to move and dance, various letters shifting at random but for some reason nothing seems to be unreadable. “I wasn’t able to read it, so I had to use an enchantment, I hope you don’t mind. You do smell like a priest.”

In an instant as you start to realize what youre looking at and what it’s doing entirely takes hold of you, most of the worry is replaced with shock.

“Anyone can read this now, no matter what language they speak?” You grab at the bible, pulling it closer and holding it in your hands close to your face. You thumb through pages, and each on the text dances and weaves; characters shift and yet all of it is legible and clear in meaning. Clearer than it had been even in its early modern english.

“That’s right. It sh-”

You completely forget yourself as you're overcome by it and pull her into a hug, she lets out a surprised sound but its only until your hands start to close around her that she suddenly screams. In a shock you drop the bible and step back, hands raised out. The feathery woman who’s standing nearby seems a bit off put by your actions, but stands by.

“S-sorry, it's just that this is the greatest thing possible, I shouldn’t have tried to hug you. But you probably have no idea what it means to m-”

She shushes you, and with a level of apprehension while eyeing the bible on the floor, gently touches at it like its a snake ready to bite her; when it doesn’t, she grasps it properly and lifts it up, grasping it with both hands and staring at it in wonder.

“What is this?” Gelen asks flatly, her tone like someone finding a not to well natured prank. Her eyes are narrowed at you, piercing into you as she sniffs the air again. “Why can I touch this?”

“Why wouldn’t you be able to?” You ask dumbly.

“Can’t you tell what I am?”

“A monst-” You start, only for her to cast a finger up at you almost pointing in an accusatory way.

“Mamono. Our kind are called Mamono. Do not ever call us ‘monsters’.” Her voice taking on a venomous tone, “And I am a demon.” Apparently ‘monster’ was a bit of an unlike term for some.

“No way,” you blurt out, smirking and letting out a bit of a laugh. Her expression though kills the sound in your throat, though it does become lessened as she thinks this over.

“Why not?” Gelen’s voice is curious, her eyes seeming to become less intense; less angry. She half sits on the edge of the banquet table, her rear pressing against it in a way that emphasized how plush it was; you immediately peeled your eyes away, not wanting to stare. She holds the bible in her hands, thumbing through various pages. The line of questioning becomes a welcome distraction from your dream.

“Demons are kept in hell, and as angels, even fallen, they’re immaterial. They don’t have flesh, they’re substance is like flames or wind.”

She hums in thought before holding the bible out to you, her expression wistful and full of doubt. You take it gently.

“Is something wrong with my answer?” You ask curiously, wondering what is going on in her head; if she truly was a demon or perhaps something that merely called themselves such.

“I am what I am, if it was true it should have harmed me.”

“It is true. It wouldn’t harm you because it’s for everyone. All can be forgiven, if they’re willing to accept it.” Her eyes widen at this, unsure of it as she thinks it over; apparently the concept of absolute absolution being something alien. It had been back home, so very long ago.

“W-well,” Gelen starts, looking away from you as she snagged her wine glass from the table, obviously looking for an excuse not to look at you directly. “please endeavor to adjust to your new life here.”

“Yes ma’am,” You reply quickly, the points of her ears slowly turn purple at this.

“Go ahead and show Mr. Anon out Meredith,”

“Yes mistress,” Says the feathery woman, before motioning for you to follow which you do somewhat contentedly having completely forgotten about your dream. But as you near the door, there’s a sound and you turn to see it, almost entirely involuntarily.

You manage to catch it, the slow and odd magical change as some form of light dance out and off of Lady Gelen’s hand, and all around her the various tapestries and rugs shift and shudder; All of them now blue and purple.

>Warn

>Stop her from drinking the wine

Your mouth hangs open as you feel yourself go cold, your stomach nothing but a knot and you stop in your tracks no longer able to move. Your fists ball themselves tightly, all the sinuous muscles in your arms aching at the pressure as your fingers try to dig themselves deeper and tigher into a fist; your jaw is much the same, tight and locked with your teeth aching under the pressure of it.

“Gelen,” You voice comes out, it's strung and tense and almost doesn’t sound like yours, she stops what she’s doing and looks back at you. Your feet begin to carry you back into the room, almost entirely mechanical, before you close the distance; in the background you can barely hear the feathery woman speaking but it doesn't matter.

Perhaps it was the determined look on your face or the something about how your eyes were, whatever it was Lady Gelen’s face flushed a deep purple and she began to have a surprised look on her face as you reached out and took the wine glass from her. Slowly and deliberately you place it down on the table before looking back up at her. Her entire set of body language is different from earlier, her eyes holding an odd neediness.

“N-not until after a d-dinner or…. Uh,” She eyes you, lips pursing, apparently thinking something dramatically different than what you are; the weighty feeling in your stomach feeling like you’ve been punched.

“What?” You ask dumbly, not quite following her statement. “Lady Gelen,” you pause, trying to find the words or a way to make your dream make sense when spoken aloud. Her hands grasp at your shoulders as she suddenly leans back a bit on the table, pulling you closer.

“Meredith not a word.” She spits out, eyes clearly looking past you at the maid, only for them to turn back to focus on you, “I-its okay, I know that p-priests have to be chaste a-and this is pro-”

“Wait, stop!”

“There’s no need to be embarrassed, we can both be awkward if we need to.” A calf hooks around you, helping to pull you in.

“No. That's not what this is.” You utter quickly, grabbing her hands on your shoulders as you pull them free; her eyes suddenly drop and demeanor changes almost looking hurt. “N-not that you aren’t lovely, but that’s not what I need to talk to you about.” Behind you, you can almost hear Meredith muttering about how lady Gelen’s brain had been given a brainfever by the dirty books she reads. Gelen simply looks away from you as you gently hold her hands in yours.

“I think someone’s going to try and poison you and your guests,” She immediately looks at you directly, then to Meredith, then back to you.

“A-and what leads you to think that?” She asks, her face still rather purple as she tries to not look you directly in the face.

“Just humor me, please.” You answer, she finally looks you full on in the eyes and she squeezes your hands in hers gently for a moment before letting go and folding them on your lap.

The three of you sit in the banquet area, occasionally staring at each other or the two of them seemingly talking about you in hushed tones on their side of the table. Meredith, which you learned was called a Kikimora, enters the banquet area and begins to report to Lady Gelen.

“The guests aren’t entirely pleased with having to wait in the study, and Syra is quite upset about having to prepare everything herself.” Gelen groans at this, slumping on the table dramatically. Apparently nothing at all like how she had tried to present herself before, instead she was very ‘normal’ and spent most of her time collecting various works of fiction, particularly romance based on Delphie’s ribbing on her; all you could idly think was whether she had been recently reading one about a priest falling in loving with a mamono.

“Annnooon,” Delphie lulls out, obviously just as frustrated and bored as Gelen, “I just want to go coooook.”

“You’ll get to, it’ll just be a bit longer is all.” You glance at Meredith, motioning to her, “Since the plates are ready, have the other maids bring them in and set up the presentation.” Meredith’s eyes grow wide, partially shock and confusion painting her face.

“H-how d-” Obviously a little unsettled.

“Please Meredith, do it exactly as I had said earlier.” You reply, feeling the time rolling by and realizing that Rose likely is quite upset at this point; the maid simply nods and heads off to the kitchens.

Various plates of hot food were brought out, wine, and bottles of beer and set on the table in a perfect arrangement. Utensils placed, even the fancy spoons. Each and every one of the maids lining the wall and standing by in a show of discipline.

“At least we’re almost done,” Lady Gelen groans out, sitting up, “So now what?” She asks, looking across at you.

“All of the maids except for Meredith need to take this stuff and dispose of it, except for that one,” You point to the headset and its generous plate which was still steaming, “Where ever or how its done, it must be done in an absolutely safe manner. Treat it as if its contaminated, no one is to even touch it directly. Everyone when taking it is to exit out the back of the castle and not to be seen by anyone leaving.” The various maids look at you curiously, most of them seeming to be variants of Meredith; each kikimora unique but still rather uniform. “Once exiting you will all congregate at the front and rear exits, anyone attempting to leave is to be stopped at all cost. Understood?”

The kikimoras turn to look at Lady Gelen, only for her to nod in a resigned way, before looking back to you and being met with a murmur of understood, yessirs, and few of course masters. They begin forming up and each grab various items and make their way out of the room until it’s only the four of you.

“So now what?” Gelen groans, her head still on the table with her hands at either side.

“Ms. Delphie could you go get one of the guards who are overlooking the guests?” You ask politely, the knot in your stomach has seemingly dissipated and you finding a new font of confidence in you; the older Holstaur simply nods to you politely and makes her way out of the room, you simply burn a hole in the table with your eyes in refusal to watching such. “Once she gets back, you’ll need to scream,” You look up at Meredith, locking eyes, “Run into the kitchens, and go get the other cook, you are to be hysterical and demand that she come directly into this room. The woman one, I’m certain it's her.” The flash of stinging pain to your eyes as you tried to look at her in your dream coming to mind.

Meredith simply nods while out of the corner of your eye you notice Lady Gelen frowning as she sits up from the table, her thick black hair a crowning mess on her head as having to wait seems to have taken its toll on her.

“How can you know that?” She demands, her tone a bit snappy as it had been earlier when you first started having to wait, inside you worried you may not be able to placate her much longer on it. You sigh, wondering how to deal with this before standing slowly and making your way around the table to her, she watches you with her ruby colored eyes following you.

“I can’t properly explain it,” You say as you come to stand behind her chair, and thinking quickly you reached out and grasped at her shoulders; you had gotten this far by simply being what she considered attractive apparently and something similar to what she had been reading in some kind of a romance novel. Meredith had revealed as much when it first came time to wait she asked aloud if she should bring Gelen a book seemingly titled ‘Forbidden priestly passions’.

You gripped her shoulders, only for her to tense up and even from behind you could tell she was blushing deeply as her elfin ears turned a dark purple. Slowly you squeeze and begin to work the muscles in her shoulders, this gets you a slightly pained moan as she starts to melt under your touch.

“If I’m wrong…” You trail off not sure how to follow it along, “If I’m wrong, I can’t leave town, and I’ll owe you in more ways than one.” She seems to writhe as you grip tighter, working the taut muscles into putty. “I’ve ruined dinner and you and your guest’s night, if I’m wrong I’m sure having me pay you back for it isn’t impossible.” Her only response is a strained sound and leaning back in her chair as she completely breaks down into putty, her face completely flushed. All you can think of however, is that you hope you're right; you're almost certain Lady Gelen is hoping for the opposite.

Its only a few moments till Delphie arrives with a guard in tow, this one looking somewhat similar to the captain though her fur is a deep ebony and what little skin you can see through her armor is ashen in color. Meredith looks to you for approval, Delphie and the guard however begin looking around.

“Why was I requested here?” Asks the guard, the question directed to Lady Gelen who stirs somewhat before you hold up you hand to get her attention.

“That would be my fault. I believe there is a poisoner here, once everything is ready you’ll need to apprehend her.”

“You can prove this?” She utters with a level of surprise, sounding quite unsure of your accusation.

“Thats what that plate is for,” You motion to sole plate of food, it still steams slightly and it’s lovely smell wafting through the room, “The poisoner made it, so I-”

“Clever,” The guard growls out, a light seems to kindle inside her helmet's visor. “Well, go ahead then.” You simply nod to Meredith who immediately lets out a loud wail and rushes out of the room.

“The other maids have been instructed to stop anyone from leaving, in case there are others involved.” You state, moving away from Lady Gelen and instead taking a chair next to her. Meredith is only gone for what seems like seconds before rushing in with the other chef.

The first thing you notice about her is that she’s rather plain, wholly unremarkable in almost every way; the kind of person you could easily lose in a crowd. That wasn’t to say she wasn’t rather pretty, but there was something about her that made you certain she wouldn’t stand out in any particular manner. What was remarkable however was how her eyes had lit upon entering the room and finding a guard, a plate of food, and a few other people.

“M-meredith, what is this?” The chef demands, the sudden apprehension on her face becoming more and more apparent.

“Why don’t you take a seat over there?” You point to where the plate of food is, her eyes jump over to it then the guard and back to the plate. In an instant Meredith is shoved as the woman turns and begins to run out the other doorway and just as fast the ashen colored guard leaps over the table and gives chase. Based on what you can hear she didn’t get far, as there’s a sudden amount of banging and yelling from outside the room before the guard returns, dragging the freshly bruised woman back into the room and forcibly shoving her into the chair.

You can tell already that she’ll be sporting a shiner within the next few hours, her expression is now one of horror. The guards clawed hands come down on her shoulders, holding her in place as flames leap out of the visor.

“Eat.” The guard demands, and the woman simply slumps as her face pales.

Everything following this was a bit of a blur, though you had to say you were glad it was over. Apparently the woman had been some kind of slime mamono, but now absent that part of herself had set out to try and kill. The others weren’t specific but you had suspected her motivations were based on the now missing slime, that it had changed her and to a certain degree she had resented it for this; or perhaps what you had gleaned made no sense regardless.

Lady Gelen had demanded you give repayment for the wasted night and food, though you were certain it had to do more with whatever the specifics of the book she had been reading and the massage you had given her. You weren’t really in a position to refuse, though were unsure about it all. As you had left you made Meredith swear she’d be present if and when Lady Gelen got around to demanding your presence; the ones with professional appearances were usually the ‘dangerous’ ones.

Large bear claws tapped at the wood of the table you were sitting at, Rose apparently thinking of something as you tore into your chicken and potato dinner; your meals had been paid for by Lady Gelen, something lending credence to your worry that your recompensation to her was merely an excuse to see you again; something also told you to a degree that her guests would, overtime, come by to either thank you in some manner. Rose sighed loudly, before going back to work on her meal.

“What’s wrong?” You asked, reaching for the mead she had brought and pouring some more for yourself, the inn around you was rather quiet as business wound down for the day.

“How did you know about the poisoner?” She eyes you curiously, her round ears wiggling as she apparently racks her brain for an explanation. Her soft blue eyes seem to peer into you, seeking an answer.

>Be honest and direct

“W-well,” You start, swallowing down a mouthful of her sweet mead, “I had a dream.”

“A dream?” Rose asks with surprise, her brilliant eyes seeming to sparkle at this. Her large paws work over her meal, seeming to dwarf it and for you makes you wonder if she’s somehow holding back on eating properly to not shock you.

“Yes. I had a dream about that woman, and she poisoned everyone.” You snag a potato skin and fold it a few times with a fork, “I saw all the decorations and Lady Gelen, even Ms. Delphie, before ever seeing any of them for the first time.”

Marin appears out of nowhere, swooping in with a very large bowl of what you could only guess is some kind of cobbler and setting it down between you and Rose. Quickly she produces a series of spoons and while grabbing a spare chair, takes a spot next to you.

“Is that why you were acting so odd when you met her? Delphie I mean,” Marin asks as she takes a spoon of the cobbler, something soft and warm gently wraps around your ankle.

“Yes,” You answer, “She looked the same from behin-”

Both Rose and Marin glare at you and you wilt under it, somewhat understandably as you realize what you had just said and how it sounds.

“Her horns and hair, from the back. It was the same as it was in my dream while I was in the kitchen.” You quickly finish, both of their expressions seeming to clear up a bit until they notice how each other had reacted. Rose seems to eye the smaller, albeit very large for her kind, woman; who likewise stares back unabashedly.

“Is there somethin-”

“No.” Both of them say in unison, looking at you while still not taking their eyes from one another.

“A-anyways, dreams are at least regarded by my culture and religion as something you should pay attention to. In this case, it was a warning.” You spear your folded over potato-skin and begin chewing at it. Rose simply nods at your statement.

The three of you simply eat in relative silence until you finish your main meal and begin to consider the cobbler, you gently pick up a spoon and begin to consider it for a moment.

“Marin, could I… if it’s not a problem I mean, could I have some milk with this?” You ask, thinking of how much better it'd be with a glass of milk. Marin simply nods, her tail giving your ankle a squeeze, and goes off to get you a glass of milk.

“Milk?” Rose seems to wilt at this, a look of concern playing over her face, and for a moment you're completely unsure as to why.

“What's wrong with milk?” You ask, looking up at her curiously. Rose seems to consider this for a moment, chewing on her bottom lip before her eyes light up a bit.

“N-nothing. Is milk common as a drink in your homeland?”

“For deserts, or breakfast typically. How come?” You ask, but Rose simply shakes her head, seemingly forgetting or no longer caring about whatever had given her apprehension about milk in the first place. How odd.

“O-oh, there was something I wanted to ask about.” You start, remembering the interaction you had had with Gelen, “Before… is monster some kind of slur?” you ask sheepishly, Rose hadn’t cared before and neither had some of the others, but Lady Gelen’s reaction had been a little off putting.

“Not in particular, but for some they may not like it due to personal experiences.” Rose takes a swing of mead directly from the bottle, stopping to consider things as her face begins to flush a bit, “Do you consider me monstrous?”

You swallow loudly, not sure how to answer. Did mamono consider it a good thing to be monstrous? Would she be receptive of your view of her being a rather soft and cute, but intimidating girl at the same time due to her size and hidden physical strength? Your mind races at how best to answer.

“The way your eyes shine when you look at me, makes me anxious in a good way…” You mutter aloud, which causes Rose to look away with her face turning red, her large claws coming together as she fidgeted a bit; obviously just as embarrassed you were.

Marin comes back and both of you seem to break out of your stupor of embarrassment, and in one swift motion she places a cup of milk before you.

“Thank you Marin,” You say, smiling happily before taking a spoonful of cobbler and beginning to dig into it. Flavors explode across your mouth and for a moment you're not sure what kind of cobbler it is, the fruit material being an off blue and purple with an occasional touch of red. Berries? No.

“You're welcome,” came her reply, a familiar warmth coils around your ankle below the table and you struggle to not give any sign of it. It had become obvious that the two had begun, quietly, to regard each other as rivals and you didn’t want to exacerbate this.

The three of you slowly begin to dig into the cobbler in relative silence, at least until you felt something bump against your crotch. You spit out the cobbler instantly and gaze downward only to be met with a face staring up at you, both Marin and Rose looking at you immediately with concern.

“Hello bed thief,” Mollie whispers up at you from between your legs.

>Disdain

You glare down at the small mouse, she simply glares up at you for a bit before smirking at you in a way you don’t like, this is only amplified when two small hands grasp at your knees. Reaching down quickly you thunk her on the head by flicking your fingers roughly, she winces at this and manages to stifle any sound she might make from it. Mollie recovers and goes back to glaring at you before disappearing under your chair. Mentally you sigh and wonder if the more aggressive mamono were actually worse or if it was just a perception because the smaller ones had to be more devious about their dealings.

As the three of you eat in a new found silence, with Mollie undoubtedly somewhere watching and plotting, and as you chew you can’t help but wonder about the day and what you had experienced. Magic was apparently real, you had a ‘prophetic’ dream, and had obviously attracted a ton of attention if not in a big way at the very least in terms of personal ways; the sudden desperate and needful appeal of Lady Gelen flashing across your mind, you absently shook your head just thinking about it.

You weren’t unattractive by any means, but this kind of direct attention and straightforwardness was definitely not something you could get used to; not that you didn’t like it. Was it because men were rare in mamono lands, you wondered back on your daytime jaunt with Rose through town, or perhaps because they were more beastly, monstrous, this translated into more direct drives? Less womanly behavior? You spooned out another bite and savored it while deciding to go back to puzzling over what kind of cobbler it was.

Your mind drifted back to the dream and the various possibilities it could imply. Was something happening with you? You wondered if there may be experts on dreams or what Mamono thought of it, but in the meantime you figured you would simply trust in what you knew and what your bible said. ‘Whats kind of cobbler is this?’ You wondered at the flavor as you took another bite.

This goes on for a while till you feel another set of warmth coil on your other leg as Maude hops into the free chair at the table and in between one of your sips of milk, and gently snags your hand and steals the bite. The three of you look to her, though Rose and Marin’s is more of a glare than anything.

“Whu?” She mumbles around the cobbler, “Ther arn ann spoofs,” Marin looks as though she’s about to yell at her, meanwhile Rose simply looks on as if unsure about what to do or even say. Marin starts to inhale sharply and you simply sigh quickly before taking another scoop of the cobbler and hold it out for Marin who's eyes start to refocus on it tentatively, temporarily forgetting her sister as Rose seems to wilt.

"Don't worry, I'll give you a bite too." You say smiling up at her which seems to improve her mood a touch while also lighting her face up red. Marin gives you a look while considering it, eyeing the spoon. "Say ah.” Marin’s eyes look away from you while simply opening her mouth and blushing, to which you carefully give her the bite.

“That reminds me,” You start, directing the question to Marin, “What you had mentioned before, is polygyny common for Mamono?” Marin simply gives you a confused look, chewing thoughtfully as Maude shifts in her chair. Rose’s eyes bear down on you needfully, waiting expectantly as you snag another bite for yourself before scooping some cobbler for her. Unlike Marin however, she maintains eye contact the entire time before gingerly taking it.

“What's that word anyways?” Maude asks, squeezing your ankle with her tail before holding open her mouth and waiting for you.

“No.” You spoon another bite for yourself, “You already stole an indirec-” You stop and look at the others who seem more curious about what you're about to say and you think better of it. “Uh… It’s a marriage with multiple women.” You deflect to the other subject and hope they’ll take the bait.

Maude simply grins sharply, while Marin begins to choke, and Rose meanwhile seems to look a bit more flustered; apparently they all to the bait.

“Why, wanting to get hitched already?” Maude's tail strokes at your calf and you can’t help but glare a little before sighing, realizing you may have to repeat this same set of information like a mantra.

“I’m not interested in anything unless I know the person,” Maude seems to drop a bit of the sharp look from her smile, “Meeting this morning doesn’t count.” You say in a flat tone and she instead takes on a somewhat cheerful, but markedly more muted, look.

“Eventually is better than never, and it’s somewhat common.” Maude grasps at your hand and takes the spoon from you gently before scooping out a bite of cobbler, holding it up for you to take a bite; at seeing this both Marin and Rose likewise take scoops of cobbler and seemingly seem to wait. “Is it a problem?”

“Not necessarily, its just not within my culture’s norms. Is there a population problem or is it a cultural thing?” You brow furrows, thinking this over as you lean forward and take the bite, that sweet and tangy flavor from whatever the fruit or berries were blast across your tastebuds. Maude just grins.

“N-no,” Marin responds for her sister, looking to Rose almost for permission before holding out her spoonful of cobbler for you, “Well, partially yes. Sons are very uncommon and for some monsters it tends to be prefered for that kind of arrangement. For mice it tends to be common, others may not be comfortable with such an arrangement.” You swallow, taking a swig of milk, and then take the offered cobbler which seems to please her; Marin and Maude share a look, communicating something silently.

“Mmmm,” you respond while chewing, your eyes flit over Rose who seems to be somewhat excited at the idea of getting to feed you cobbler next. This would explain the decidedly lower number of men you had seen, a decided implication being that Mamono weren’t raiding for men or at least had not done so recently or here.

“Was there anything else you’d like to know?” Rose asks excitedly, holding a spoonful of cobbler out for you. “I’m sure that between the three of us, we know enough about our culture to answer almost anything…We could also talk about anything you might want to, maybe something you’d like to share about your home and culture?” You swallow and immediately take the offered cobbler, Rose again maintaining hard eye contact with her brilliant blue eyes; you take a heavy swig of milk and swallow it all greedily before wiping your face.

“Well,” You begin.

>Study

“Well, would you like to read my bible with me? What do Mamono typically believe?” You ask before slowly finishing off your glass of milk. The three somewhat tentatively agree while also explaining the long to short of Mamono ‘religions’; effectively it broke down to regional beliefs, racialistic beliefs, and then finally based on how they viewed the ‘Maou’. “Some of these sound more like political or social beliefs.” You rounded out, starting to stand up from the table, Maude and Marin’s tails loose from your ankles, “Hold on, I’ll go grab it from my room.”

As you move past the table you can feel all three of them staring at your backside as you head off, and taking a look as you go notice the number of patrons at least eating at the inn has dropped as people slowly began to head home at the end of the day. Your mind wandered over some of what they had told you; most if it was religious was more akin to primitive spiritualism if anything if not just outright ascribing more importance to various relationships that occurred naturally than would be typical. You smiled absently as you thought over how Rose explained how Bear Mamono would plant clover to thank bees and how important it was to keep them happy; Marin and Maude’s answer had been concerning however: A slight obsession with cheeses and forming large households to get as many kids as possible through a shared husband. Gently you prod open the door and head in, the light now scarce as the sun was setting and quickly you snagged your bible off the small dresser in the room and headed back.

As you come back you notice that the table is now crowded up and a happy face flanked by messy brown hair grins at you from what had been your chair, a steady beat being thumped out by her tail. Now instead of ill fitting armor she’s simply clothed in some kind of wrapped cloth for a top and a simple skirt, the colors and patterns of such are quite loud.

“Hello Anon!” She waves a paw at you excitedly, some of the others turning to look at you as you notice the ‘guest’ to the group. Her skin is ashen, and her face is framed with thick dark hair that's somehow even messier than the kobold’s, as soft almost glowing amber colored eyes glance at you; she’s dressed in a similar manner to Kara, though the colors are more muted and complementary to her own. Despite not knowing her name, or even having seen her face, you realized this was likely the other guard you had met earlier. Outside of her armor she seems more intimidating than she had in it despite her shapely form and feminine face, being nearly as large as Rose but not quite and practically made of thick wiry muscles. “This is Shawna, we’re cousins!” She says enthusiastically.

“Hi.” She waves a large, clawed paw at you as you continue to the table. You snag a nearby chair and set up next to Rose who seems to lean a bit more towards you as you take your seat, though you're likely imagining it, you also take your meade glass and sip it and enjoy the warm and sweet flavor. “None of us are sure how you did it, but thanks for earlier today.” She follows up, and you're surprised by how soft the sound of her voice is.

“Oh! You got it back,” Kara exclaims, seeing the bible in your hands.

“And then some,” You smiling thinking over how it had been changed, “We were just going to get into it. Would you guys like to join us?”

Kara just nods excitedly while Shawna looks on curiously, somewhat unsure of it.

“What is it exactly?” She asks, her eyes lighting over you and then to the bible as you set it out on the table and open it.

“It's the complete written text for my religion, by the way what do Kobolds believe?” You ask, only for Shawna to frown deeply and the other girls to start laughing somewhat, she glances at her cousin harshly.

“I’m not a kobold,” She mutters, paws balling up.

“S-sorry,” You apologize, not sure if you had inadvertently insulted her or had just merely hurt her pride. Was this another instance of Mamono having strange views on things? Why would looking like Kara be viewed as a bad thing? “I’m still trying to learn everything, I just figured since you’re related, yknow?” Shawna just sighs exasperatedly, but the frown lessens.

“Well Anon, t-typically it's about humans for kobolds.” Kara states before pressing her paws together and looking away from you, Shawna seemingly forgetting why she had been upset moments earlier and grins, the other girls seem to chitter at this.

“Could you elaborate?” You ask curiously, wondering if this was going to go somewhere similar to the mice sisters. Shawna leans onto the table, her grin spreading out to reveal rather large fangs in her mouth.

“N-n-n-”

“She wants your hands all over her,” Kara shoots her cousin a sharp look, her face blistering red in an instant, “Touching, rubbing, squeezing… that's as close to a religion as kobolds have.”

“Certainly sounds like a religious experience,” mutters Maude, trying not to laugh.

“S-so?!” Kara exclaims, seemingly more incensed than Shawna had been, figuring you should intervene just a touch at least to help calm things down you motion to Shawna.

“Well, what do your lot believe then?” You ask, Shawna’s eyes seem to light up a touch as she sits up and thrusts her chest out in an overly bold manner. She slams her large paws on the table, her eyes beginning to literally smolder, thick black smoke coming off of her, what you assume is Marin’s tail gripped at your ankle tightly. Her eyes bore into yours.

“We hellhounds believe that you men are frail and weak, that you have to be taken and dominated and made to...uh,” Shawna trails off as Rose eyes her, her light brown fur seeming to rise up as if she was getting ready to fight, the smoldering seeming to sputter out completely as she sheepishly looks at the larger woman.

“That doesn’t sound religious,” You comment only for Maude to grin lecherously.

“You could always ask her dad, I’m sure h-”

“SHUT UP!” She barks back at the small mouse who just grins wider at her, obviously unconcerned.

“Well, those are more like social or political ideas more so than religious ones,” You start, realizing that again you had been wrong and that maybe some of the larger mamono were in fact aggressive, at least definitely sexually, and it wasn’t merely a perception issue from the smaller, devious girls. Gently you touch Rose’s knee, hoping it’d help calm her a bit as you continued, “And while you’re certainly free to think what you want, let’s not yell.” Rose seems to relax and attempts to seem aloof at the sensation of your hand on her, Shawna also seems to relax now that the large bear is no longer focused on her.

The group of you discussed various excerpts of text and stories from the bible and their own culture and histories. Creation in Genesis leading to a conversation about the Maou and how monsters had been altered, various other verses were discussed as well as tangential things that had happened on this earth as you went over the various prophecies required for Christ, to finally ending up starting Matthew only to be interrupted repeatedly; though you did enjoy it. Mentally you made a note to try to go see Lady Gelen and see if she’d let you get into whatever history books she had in her library, in particular a good commentary on the Maou and what it was exactly she had done.

Kara seemed overly excited about Jesus’ birth, as did Rose but not as animatedly, the mouse sisters were engaged but apparently incensed when divorce had been mentioned, only Shawna seemed a bit off put.

“Why would Angels care? Those don’t sound anything at all right,” Shawna grumbles.

“We don’t have Mamono where I come from,” You answer quickly, taking a quick swig of meade which warms you, “What we’re describing as Angels are nothing like what you're familiar with. They’re typically incorporeal, sometimes with forms that can be incomprehensible, and have no gender.” Shawna’s eyes grow wide at this, thinking it over, meanwhile you flip over to Ezekiel and find the verse.

“Here, this is a description of one: human likeness but seeming as four, with four faces and each having four wings, with feet like a calf’s, each side having human hands, and each one having the face of a man with an lions on the right, and ox on the left, an-”

“S-stop,” Shawna shudders at the description, paws held up in surrender, the other girls looking a bit green if not outright worried. “C-can I uh…?” She motions toward the bottle of meade and Rose promptly hands it to her before taking a swig for herself, obviously affected in the same way. Shawna takes a draw only for Kara to demand it next.

“That’s definitely not a Mamono,” Marin states, her tail tightening on your leg beneath the table.

“I don't understand, why are you all acting this way?” You ask, watching as Kara hands off the bottle to the mouse sisters.

“And this happened?” Rose asks, looking at you with concern and all you can do is feel off about it.

“Yes,” You reply earnestly, all of them seeming to become worried by this, Shawna shuddering a more though trying to hide it. “Is something wrong?”

“They sound like creatures from ancient myths that used to periodically hunt Mamono before we were Mamono,” Marin says, looking at you fearfully, “B-but that was before the Maou… well even before even primeval monster lords, usually it's just told as a story to scare children…but you’re certain they’re real?”

“Oh, well yes, but didn’t you say Mamono were evil before the Maou? Is it like an inbuilt racial fear, something instinctual?” You ask, realizing you might react much the same if you happened to come across something that looked like a meat eating dinosaur, or perhaps a neanderthal. Kara simply nods vigorously rather than answering aloud and the others follow suit, you can't help but feel a bit of dismay but also relief. “You don’t have to be afraid, Mamono aren’t what they once were. You’re all something new, well relatively speaking,” You can’t help but smile, they way they had talked about monsters being changes making it sound as if it had happened some few thousand years prior, “You have different capacities from what you all once were and despite natural differences, you all seem to have the same capacities for good that any human does. I know God wouldn’t reject any of you outright,”. This seems to put the girls at ease, except for Shawna.

“Even if we’re of a demonic origin?” She asks and you can’t help but begin to wonder if the various demonic things were merely the results of languaging in a world where magic existed, rather than a literal thing. But if literal, the added sex drive having come from a sucubus did seem to make logical sense but created issues with your interaction with Lady Gelen.

“We kind of glossed over it but in Genesis humanity was corrupted inherently and is effectively stained by it, I guess it’s comparable to what the Maou did but… well, inherently a bad thing. Humanity became fallen, we gained the capacity and desire for evil. We’re addicted to it honestly. Wouldn’t that be the same as your origin, something with the capacity for evil because of its nature but isn’t necessarily inherently evil itself?”

Shawna seems to consider this for a time before reaching out and touching at the bible hesitantly, her eyes narrow one she makes contact. Apparently she had the same idea as Lady Gelen about it.

“Is something wrong?” You ask as she snorts and pulls her paw away.

“It can’t be real,” She mutters, a slight look of disappointment painting over her face as she looks back up at you.

“It is,” You answer back, “I know what you’re thinking, is there any reason to believe it would have harmed you?” She frowns deeply, the others seem to be watching tensely, wanting to know how this will play out.

“The order has artifacts that are said to cause harm just by touch,” She grimaces, eyes glancing across your face.

“Don’t they have magic?” You ask innocently, her eyes widening at the implication, you hadn’t seen it yourself but from what you knew of the order and what you had begun to learn you wouldn’t be surprised if they were merely ‘enhanced’ to do so using magic rather than actual righteousness. “If you have doubts that's perfectly fine, I doubt you’d be convinced or even receptive even after months of talking about this. But there’s a lot of things I don’t know about here because my home-country is so different, so I wouldn’t mind having to talk about any of this at length.”

“You can talk to me about it Anon,” Kara exclaims happily, the mood seeming to lighten and you can’t help but smile as her temperament seems to be contagious. “Do you think he was a cute baby?” You can’t help but laugh loudly at this.

---

It had been awhile and the subjects changed to more of a general discussion of things and cultural views, talks of how the girl’s jobs were going, and finally how various trade routes were doing before everything really began to wind down. Kara and her cousin took off, Maude and Marin beginning to finish cleaning up the kitchen and closing up part of the inn, and you stayed at the table and nursed your cup of mead while Rose worked on the bottle while occasionally leafing through the bible as you both ask varying questions or discuss random thoughts.

“Rose,” You start, thinking over the interactions you had all had for the day so far, her behavior seemingly anomalous for it and you just had to know, “Is there something weird about drinking milk?”

“I’ll tell you if you tell me if you were going to say ‘indirect kiss’,” She says in a tone you hadn’t heard her use before, her face flushed as she leafs a few more pages and sets down the nearly empty bottle. First try at a seductive voice or was she just that tipsy?

“Yes,” You admit quietly, apparently your attempt to distract hadn’t worked on her. Rose simply responds with a hum and smiles at you sweetly, you slowly nurse at the mead you have left.

“Milk is from Holstaurs,” she says quickly and you choke on the mead, beginning to cough a little before getting yourself under control.

“What?” You half whisper, Rose starting to giggle at whatever face you were making, you were almost certain it was a mix of shock and disgust if you had to guess. “Marin just gave me some woman’s brea-”

“Delphie’s.” Rose corrects you, chuckling lighting at it as she leans on the table, apparently intoxicated but only to a safe happy level. “Delphie’s milk.” You pause and try to process this, only for things to get weird in your head. Complicated and weird feelings pouring over because of it.

“And that’s normal in a Mamono society?”

“Definitely,” She uses the tone again, placing her hands in her large paws as she stares at you, its a bit of a chore not to stare as her ample chest settles on the table, “I guess I just felt kind of…. Jealous.” You have no idea how to respond but the sudden change on her face tells you she realizes how strange what she just said actually sounds. “N-not like that, I mean, uh i-it.. I m-maybe eventually o-or….,”

“That kind of closeness?” You offer, and her face lights up as you save her.

“Y-yes,” she answers quietly, tapping her claws together nervously and you can’t help but wonder if she’ll say any other strange things, as you somewhat try to process.

“Well, I don’t think I’ll be drinking milk anytime soon,” Her ears perk up at this, “N-not that I’m uh… it has other tones attached and I’d rather not.” Rose simply nods at this, apparently understanding what you mean as she rests her paw on her large chest seeming to emphasize it.

“Not until you marry,”

“Not until I ma-” You stop mid repetition, a bit confused and realizing you may have had a bit too much of the mead and blushing darkly as you can’t help but stare at what she’s showing off, “N-no. I mean because it’s kind of… weird, in a sexual way.”

“Well where do your people get milk from?” Gone is the attempt at a sultry tone and her face is curious, though she merely presses down on her ample bust rather than change position as her shirt strains against it. “Or is it because it’s not a huma-”

“No.” You cut her off, struggling to maintain eye contact, “That would be just as weird, in the same ways. We clean and process milk from cows.” Rose simply snorts at this as if its the most absurd thing she had ever heard but then seems to stop and consider it.

“And babies?” She asks, clearly trying to fully grasp the concept and chase down the difference in mores, “They drink this cow-milk?” She shifts finally, paw back on the table as she leans in in obvious curiosity of the subject.

“No. Not until they have teeth or so, if there are issues there’s also a synthetic mixture that can be used for babies,” You explain and eyeing your cup, decide that it shouldn’t matter as you finish off the sweet liquid which kindles inside you warmly as it goes down. Rose considers this for a moment, hums and then gives you an odd look that you can’t quite place as a smug look curls on her lips.

“So your people believe its all for the child or a thirsty husband?” The tone creeps back into her voice as her paws shift back to where they had been, she was doing it on purpose. Your face burns for a moment as you peel it upwards and try to stare back into her face rather than look elsewhere.

“You're mean,” You mutter out, her brilliant blue eyes staring back into yours with the same smug smile played out.

“And you’re cute Anon,” Her smile softens and she relents somewhat, moving again to cross her arms in front of herself and leaning on those instead. “I uh… I don’t have work for the next few days, would you like to go on a picnic with me tomorrow? I know you said you wanted to court r-rather than just y-you know,” The nervousness is a new touch and it makes you wonder if Rose is scared of you saying no, but the potential confrontation she seemed ready to jump into with Shawna was apparently nothing. Perhaps the liquid courage was wearing off, or did she worry over such so much? She didn't seem aggressive, just overly sweet and was admittedly an amazing cook from what she had given you last time.

>Accept

“That’d be fine,” You answer, smiling at her, Rose’s eyes lit up brightly and she couldn’t help but smile back. She had so far been one of the better behaved out of all of the other Mamono you had met, the only second perhaps being to the strict and overly uptight guard Captain. “I’ll just need to check with Marin, but what time would you want to do that?” Rose tries her best to not frown at this for a moment, considering it.

“How come?”

“Well for helping out in the morning, did I forget to mention that?” You touch at the back of your head nervously, not entirely sure why you're nervous. Rose simply nods, apparently thinking about something else entirely before returning to her smile.

“That’s no problem, would lunch work?” She asks, apparently having intended for maybe a brunch or breakfast, a happy albeit nervous look playing over her face; her claws tapping at each other, and for a moment you wonder if its a nervous tick of hers.

“That would be fine,” You answer, pleased to see the relief playing over her face, “Just a nice lazy afternoon. Do I need to bring anything?” You ask, wondering where and what might take place. Your stomach seemingly prompts you about her stew again, and you wonder if you'd be so lucky.

“Maybe your bible, if you’d want… that is. I’d like to read more of it, or have you read it…” She trails off, the nervousness returning. ‘Is this because of me, or something she read?’

“That would be fine Rose, and I wouldn’t mind reading it for you at all.” She hums happily, smiling brightly. “By the way, do you want me to walk you home?”

“Worried about my safety?” She teases playfully, pulling her large paws in an almost cowering position while grinning at you coyly.

“I’d just like to keep talking a bit longer,” You offer, blushing.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind. You’ll keep your hands to yourself wont you?” She teases again, grinning at you while you groan before giggling about it before standing up and motioning to you, “I’ll let Marin know, I’ll meet you at the door.” And with that she heads off to tell Marin in some back part of the inn, and taking your bible in hand you head off to your room quickly to put it somewhere safe.

You quickly glance around in the darkened room, then set it down on the desk before hurrying off to the front of the inn. Right as you near the door, Rose appears from the back and happily opens the door for you and motioning, before following you out.

The cool night air meets both of you and you suddenly realize how warm you feel, likely an effect of the mead being strong in honey and alcohol. It takes a moment, but you realize one of her large paws is held out for you and slowly you wrap your fingers in it which earns you blush and a hum from the large bear-woman.

“You did a great job,” You mumble out and then pause, realizing it made no sense, “O-on the mead, I mean. It was delicious,” You cast your eyes up to her face, only to find her looking at you in a rather intense way.

“R-really?” She asks in an unsure voice, through her eyes seem to convey something else entirely as her face turns beet red.

“Yeah,” You manage before tugging on her arm, reminding her to walk, to which she does and actually starts to lead.

“T-thanks,” She mumbles, looking away from you though you can almost see a smile playing out on her face.

The two of you continue on in silence for a bit, something welcoming but also awkward as you realize you’re walking around in deserted streets with a rather cute bear-girl who apparently has a crush on you, seemingly from kind of love-at-first sight. It isn’t till the two you round a section of the city and begin to head through what you had guessed was a market area that Rose stopped walking and turned to you.

“A-anon, what do you actually think of..uh… you called it poly-ginny?” Her eyes look worried as she asks, her paw letting go of your hand as she steps back. “T-the others aren’t here s-”

“It seems like it'd be awkward,” You answer quickly, realizing what it is that may be eating at her. “It’s very abnormal from my background, and was typically illegal. If you're worried about anything, you don’t need to Rose. I’m certain I could feel more than happy enough with just y- er… w-with just one wife.” Rose giggles at you before reaching out again for you to take her paw, apparently pleased with your answer.

“Just me?” Her tone is smug and pleased, her brilliant eyes shining the dark.

“Lets court first, okay?” You look away, following along as she leads again.

“I-it’s not that I’d be overly opposed overall, and Mollie and her sisters aren't bad… t-they deserve to be happy.” She suddenly starts, eyes ahead and seemingly deep in though as the two of you walk through the market area, “I just… I want to know if I’m special to my honey.”

“Oh? Who’s that?” You ask quickly, only for her to pull her paw away again and cover her face with both of them as her face flushes red again. “Am I your honey?” You tease, to which all you get is an out of place squeak from her. Another awkward silence takes over for a solid minute or two, only for her to calm down and start to walk forward again.

“You’re mean Anon,”

“And you’re cute.” You state quickly, “Are you too embarrassed to hold my hand?” You ask, holding out your hand to her which she considers, face still red, before taking it and looking away from you.

“I-I’ve been drinking,” Is all she offers in a resigned way.

“Well, we’ll still have to court before I can be your honey.” You tease again, Rose making the pained squeak sound again as she tries to cover her face with her other paw. “And I wouldn’t mind if whatever woman I marry is greedy about me.” You finish, earning you a gentle squeeze of your hand.

After this the two of you walked in relative silence before heading into the residential area and rather quickly came to the front of a rather cozy looking house. It looks to be small, albeit built for someone of Rose’s size, and reminds you of the old recreated german style houses supposedly built from medieval instructions. Rose turns, and again lets go of your hand, facing you while on the doorstep with a somewhat sober expression, before sighing heavily.

“I wish you could come inside,” She mumbles before a panicked look plays over her face, “ah, I m-mean,”

“I know what you actually mean.” You offer, smiling at her and trying not to laugh, “I’ll see you tomorrow, okay?”

You don’t get an answer, instead you're suddenly thrown into a panic as large furry arms grab you up quickly and while squeezing you tightly, you are brought into a bear hug. Your back groans against this before loudly popping in a painful yet pleasant way. Your face is pressed full on into her bosom which is smothering you and absently you can feel her breath against the top of your head, apparently smelling your hair. And just as quickly, it's over as you are released while a blushing Rose steps back closer to her doorway.

“I-I’ll see you t-tomorrow, okay?” She ventures, seemingly to have forgotten where the conversation had left off. Your back felt like jelly, like a particularly good chiropractic readjustment.

“Sure thing honey,” You jab playfully, only for her to try and cover her face with her paws.

“A-anon,”

“I’ll see you tomorrow Rose,” You offer and she simply nods before heading into her house. Calmly you turn and head off into the cool night air, looking over the silent and sleeping city as you walk through it and can't help but think of how beautiful of a place it is, particularly at night.

Once you get back to the inn, most of it has been cleaned up and rather stowed well for the night. And out of curiosity, you head back to the storage area where you knew Marin was working still as she sorted through stowing various cooking ingredients for the next months for storage and pulling tomorrows for use in the kitchen. You mind jumped and bumped around, thinking over what had been said between her and Marin to have made her worried in the first place.

“Marin,” You start, spying her in the room and knocking on the doorframe to help alter her. “Do you need any help?”

“No, I’m nearly done,” She turns and stops, seeing you and then sniffing at the air suddenly. Quickly you pick up your feet one by one and check for the obvious before sniffing the air yourself.

“Do you smell something? I didn’t step in anything, did you?” You ask, completely sidetracked from what you had initially wanted to ask. Marin just sighs at this, leaning against one of the back walls.

“No. You just smell like her is all.”

“Rose?” You ask a bit dumbfounded, you couldn’t smell anything in particular.

“Yes.” She answers glumly before eyeing you again and then seeming to calm a bit. “I guess this was about what I had asked her?” Realization came to you and you remembered what you had originally intended to ask about.

“R-right. I think, maybe.” You follow up, “I'm assuming you brought up polygyny. I don’t know what exactly but she seemed anxious about it.” Marin just nods and sighs, trying to avoid your gaze.

“Sorry. I just figured… it's normal for my kind and the three of us have known Rose for years and just kind of figured… y'know? All of us have been kind of waiting for a great guy and you kind of fell into town, so...”

“I'm just…. She seemed rather anxious about ‘that’. Please don’t hassle her about it,”

“We won’t,” She replies, tucking a bit of her hair around her ear and looking at you earnestly. “But if things work out any particular way…”

“I’ll assimilate to my new home country, so long as it isn’t against my religion. And that’s more specifically a cultural issue rather than religious. I just… I don’t want anyone fighting over me, okay?” Marin seems to nod at this, thinking it over as she hefts up a container and heads out of the storage room.

“W-well, tomorrow will be about the same as this morning. I’ll come wake you once its time Anon,” her voice wavers somewhat.

You stand there, wondering at the situation and hoping it doesn't end up spiralling out of control. This could be bad.

Heading off to bed you check your room, under your bed, the sheets, even the various drawers of the chest; you were alone, and after proving this you shove a chair under the door to help ‘lock’ it. Laying down in the dark and wrapping yourself in your bed’s blanket, you offer a prayer; one that hopes that none of the girls would fight over you needlessly, that tomorrow would be more productive than today, and giving thanks for everything you could think of as you passed off to sleep. There are no dreams this time, but a deep relaxation that takes you.

Your eyes sting as light meets them, a small hand touching at your chest and rocking you as messy brown hair framing a face stares down at you. Maude stares down at you.

“Good morning sleepyhead,”

“Maude?” You ask, somewhat confused as you try to recall if Marin had said she would wake you and if you had blocked off the door. You could have sworn the answer to both was yes. “What?”

“Right. Right. Look,” Maude starts, moving the lantern she was holding to below the bedframe, which happily reduced the amount of light stabbing your eyes. “Not morning yet, figured I’d come talk to you a bit before for the sake of some privacy on it. You can’t tell Marin, alright?”

Hazily you cast your eyes to the door, which is still blocked by the chair, your mind crawling back to being woken by Mollie while the door was similarly ‘locked’.

“What?” You ask confused, not even sure where you were.

“Me and Mollie only agreed to a group with our little sister because she was worried about things, right? She has concerns because of her size. Me an Mollie are fine, we each know of different boys in the city who are kind of sweet on us and aren’t to worried about things, we only agreed because Marin never seemed to be able to meet anyone,”

“What?” You ask again, dumbly, not sure where this is going.

“Look, we talked about her offering Rose a group,” Maude starts, hand now off your chest and animatedly moving around, “We only decided on that because Marin was scared she wouldn’t be able to find anyone and from how she sounded, it sounds like Rose wasn’t keen on a fou-”

“Could the three of you just talk to Rose about this?” You grumpily mutter out, sitting up, Maude gives off a perplexed look. “Little sister?”

“Marin’s the youngest.” She answers simply, “I know right now isn’t a great time to really discuss this, but I figured it'd be best to try and get it out of the way now before Marin can butt in.”

“How’d you get in here?” You ask dumbly, still not fully awake as you try to process everything.

“How about we talk to Marin and you can at least bring this up to Rose, okay? We just didn’t want our little sister to be left all alone, alright?”

“I can talk to Rose, I don’t promise anything though.” You answer, pulling your blanket up and over your face and trying to go back to sleep. It takes a few moments, but you hear her feet pad away and after awhile you do fall back into sleep only to be woken hours later at a knocking at your door.

“Anon!” Marin calls from outside your door, and rousing yourself you get up and begin for the day. As you exit and wordlessly begin the process you had learned the day before, Marin is rather quiet and seems to avoid making eye contact with you; you were unsure if you should broach the subject, wondering if Maude had spoken to her yet or if she was planning on doing that later. No matter.

As breakfast was finished being created, you went to go let Marin know only for her to stammer a bit and just nod.

“L-lets talk after, okay Anon?”

“Is this about what Maude told me?” You ask, half wondering if you had actually imagined it only for Marin to nod vigorously and looking away.

“Look.” You start, Marin’s eyes suddenly looking at your face fully, “Its… abnormal for my culture. I’m not opposed to it necessarily, like I told you before. I think Rose was concerned about having to compete with the three of you, I think you should talk to her… and like Ive brought up before repeatedl-”

“Courting. Yeah.” Marin nods, looking a bit more calmed by your answer.

“You could ask when she comes to get me,” You offer, “The worst that could happen is… well whatever happened the prior time you had asked. And I'm not the only man in the world, but… thank you for at least finding me attractive.” Marin seems to consider this for a time before simply nodding, her face turning red. “I’m going to lay down for a bit, if you need anything let me know, okay?”

Marin simply nods, a bit of happiness or at least hope coming back to her. A complicated feeling comes over you, you want things to work out but how odd it is in general makes you wonder if it even should.

----

You found yourself being roused again, this time it was Rose tapping at your foot with one of her large paws and grinning at you while a wicker basket you don’t remember stares down at you from the dresser.

“Good morning, think you’ll be ready to go in just a bit?” She asks cheerfully, snagging the basket and heading back to the doorway.

“Y-yeah, just a second.” You say, piling out of the bed and throwing your shoes on as fast as you can and making sure to grab your bible, your on your way out when you notice Marin who simply nods at the two of you and smiles as you walk past. Whatever the issue was, apparently resolved to a degree, and while you're happy for it; you're also concerned. No one wants to be alone, but could you really deal with more than one woman?

Rose smiles at you before snagging your hand and heading out of the inn with you in tow, leading you through parts of the city. It isn’t you see the large gate flanked by various guards as traders with carts and various people mill about through the gate that your stomach hops into your throat.

“Rose, I can’t go out,” You offer the manacle on your wrist, part of you thinking the guards would pounce on you if you got too much nearer.

“That's just the primary walls, the city boundaries are determined by the roadways,” She gives your hand a gentle squeeze and pulls you along. You however cant help but hold your breath as you walk by.

Sure enough, however, everything is fine. Outside the city gates you are met with rather large fields of green with sets of sporadic trees and further forests sitting on a lower plane than the city itself, giving any leaving the gates a fantastic view of the immediate area. Cool air meets you and you can’t help but feel refreshed just from seeing the natural terrain.

“Cmon,” Rose smiles at you, letting go and going ahead of you, “The little hill over this way is perfect.” You can’t help but follow, the warm sun feeling great; all of this somehow better than it had been in the human kingdom.

It doesn’t take long before Rose is setting up a fire, a pot full of what looks like some kind of goulash, and another pot full of water. You can’t help but be impressed but also perplexed at the absurdity of it. You had figured she’d have made something prior and would just bring it, and you had figured wrong it seemed. Rose was apparently intent on ensuring a fresh, and hot, meal. It doesn't take long before the fire is going somewhat and the two pots are set on stones she had decided on as ‘burners’, slowly she stirs the goulash and waits on the water.

“Anon,” Rose pats the ground next to her, obviously wanting you closer, “Come over here, let's read it. I saw something before when I was looking through the pages,” You move to settle in, sitting next to her and setting the bible in your lap and bracing for the worst. Be fruitful and multiply? The song of solomon?

“Do you remember around where it was?” You ask as you open it, the texts immediately dancing and shifting through what you presumed was every conceivable language.

“John something I think,” She answers and mentally you relax.

“Well, what was the jist of it do you remember the numbers associated?” You ask, you didn’t have a photographic memory or anything like that. But you could remember where abouts very things tended to appear in specific books.

“Umm n-no…it was something like: To his own he came and his own did not receive him?” She asks in an unsure tone, “It followed after that and it was kind of interesting.” Reflexively you turned to the book of John and found it in the first chapter rather quickly.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to them he gave right to become children of God, to those that believed in his name?” You half read and asked, to which Rose nodded excitedly.

“Yes. I was kind of curious about it, because it sounds like its almost talking about adoption.”

“That’s because it basically is Rose,” You can’t help but break out into a smile, chuckling a little which earns you a light frown, “I know a lot to language is flowery or maybe not phrased the easiest way, but usually unless the verse is really weird it's typically straightforward in meaning. But in the particular verse, it's adoption essentially. Anyone who has faith is welcome completely and is effectively ‘adopted’ as being chosen by God.” Rose seems to consider this, and after a time the two of you talk at length about various other verses she had gleamed and found interesting, as well as various cultural hangups you might have in regards to what might be considered trivial to Mamono.

It isn’t until the goulash, or whatever it was exactly, was ready and assaulting your nose with a desperate remembrance that you were hungry that the conversation began to wind down; the water in the separate pot having begun to boil was promptly set aside and had what looked like a diffuser thrown into it. Bowls are brought out from the basket, as well as rather thick looking cups.

“Ready for lunch?” Rose asks happily, smiling sweetly at you.

>Rings/brick/trumpet

>Pirates/Church/Orcs

>Orcs

“Definitely,” You can’t help but smile warming back as your stomach nags at you for more of her cooking. Rose studiously goes about preparing your bowl and topping it off with a spoon before holding it out for you as well as a cup, which you carefully take as you are mindful of the hot food. “Thank you,” You state cheerfully, “And I’m guessing the other pot is tea of some kind?”

“That's right,” Rose nods to you as she begins to prepare hers, “It’s made of dual fruit and some black tea,”

“Duel, like a fight?” You ask curiously, wondering at the odd name.

“N-no. Dual like two. I-it has other names,” She mentions, obviously becoming flustered and you suddenly have to know even if it means delaying lunch.

“Like what?” You try your best to avoid the amusement from creeping into your voice, or playing out on your face.

“E-embracing fruit, or l-lov-lover’s fruit,” She stammers, face turning red and refusing to make direct eye contact, let alone look at your face. “Don’t worry, it’s safe this way.”

“What?” You blurt out, eyes snapping to the pot of water that's slowly diffusing into tea, your mind immediately jumping to ackee as a cause of death. “Is it poisonous or something if it's not processed correctly?” Rose looks shocked for a moment, only to finally make eye contact and tap her claws together nervously.

“Its uh… when its matures there’s not much of an effect except for contentedness, l-like a jasmin tea, and it has a really good flavor. W-when it isn’t mature it’s actually two different fruit.” She pauses and you can’t help but hold your hand up to have her pause.

“It's a mamono fruit isn't it?” To which Rose simply nods, a worried look starting to paint her face, “What’s it do if it’s not matured?” Rose mumbles something before blushing and more rapidly tapping her claws nervously.

“It uh… um,” She bites her lips almost savagely, “They uh… it’s usually used as a poor mamono’s love potion. B-but it isn't. Not really. E-even if ingested it only makes the couple want to be around each other u-until it's digested anyways.” You're kind of surprised by this, having not even considered such a thing or other avenues of weirdness the mamono lands might have. However, you are somewhat pleased at the prospect of teasing her a bit more about it.

“And you're sure you used the matured one?”

“Y-yes, absolutely, otherwise it would have been two fruits.” She answers quickly and surely.

“Oh, that's too bad.” You say feigning disappointment while working as hard as you can not to smirk, “If not maybe we could have….” You trail off, fighting your face violently to try and remain flat if not unreadable, to which Rose turns beet red and begins to look regretful until you can’t help but break into a toothy grin. Rose merely frowns before glaring at you.

“You!” She growls, but there’s no anger behind it at all, her voice almost seeming playful as she swings a large paw which she gently plops against your shoulder before laughing softly. “Do you have to tease?”

“Yes,” You hold out the cup for her, which she takes enthusiastically and gingerly scoops some of the tea for you, “But if that's all it does, I wouldn’t mind sometime maybe…” You trail off as her face burns and she seems to consider if you are teasing again as she gently hands the cup back to you.

Her brilliant blue eyes continue to scan your face as you smell the tea, which smells of a sweet and somewhat earthy aroma, before gently setting it down on the ground nearby and focusing on the bowl of food. You hold out your hand for her, smiling softly back at her, and she seems to consider your hand momentarily.

“Would you like to pray with me?” You ask finally and realization clicks for her, whose eyes go wide and alarm.

“I uh…. I wouldn’t know… that is,”

“I can do it for both of us, it's fine.” You hold out your other hand as well and slowly she takes both in her large clawed paws.

You go about praying, trying not to do so too fast even as your stomach protests for it, and list off everything you're thankful for, for the food, and that he had saw fit for Rose to notice you; as you finish your prayer Rose is looking away and completely red, and you can even feel your face burning somewhat. You grab up your bowl and begin to dig in, as does Rose after a moment, and the two of you begin eating in relative silence outside of the occasional warbling of various birds in the grassy hills.

“Did you really mean that?” Rose asks suddenly, eyeing you.

“About what?” You ask dumbly, not sure what she was asking about.

“A-about me.” She asks, face blushing, and you choke somewhat. You hadn’t meant for it to come off that way at all, it wasn’t your intention. It was more a general reflex and you didn’t even think about how she might have interpreted it.

“I am thankful.” You answer after clearing your throat, trying to focus your eyes on your food and not knowing necessarily how to deal with this. “It’s a bit more complicated than just…. I would be thankful even if you weren’t necessarily pursuing me.” You qualify, “I do like you though.”

Rose simply hums an acknowledgement and goes for her tea and looking up finally, she seems to be pleased but also embarrassed at the same time; you had to admit you felt mostly the same.

The two of you went back to eating in silence for a while as you eat, the goulash or at least what you assumed was goulash was heavy in your stomach and absolutely delicious; the tea made you feel sleepy and warm, like you desperately needed a lazy saturday nap and just doing so here on the grassy hill would be the most ideal thing in the world. As you slowly finished off your bowl of food, you set it and the spoon aside, and begin to lean back and sigh heavily.

“I feel like I need a nap,” You say absently only for large paws to snag at your shoulders and pull you close, laying you out with your head on Rose’s lap. The two of you look at each other before you can’t help but break out into a grin and Rose looks away. “Is that so?” You ask, realizing that much like her hug, this was an impulsive decision of hers.

“Hush,” She responds, still not looking at you as one of her paws gently pets at your hair, “I just figured… it’s nice out, okay? I wouldn’t mind.” She mumbles out, and you can’t help but yawn and shut your eyes as a few errant thoughts dance in your head.

“Rose,” You ask, hoping to a least get the few remembered ideas from the day out before you started to drift off while using her pillowy lap, “I guess you and Marin worked out something,”

You feel your pillow tense a little before Rose scratches at your scalp in a heavenly way, you help can’t but lean into it, and suddenly your pillow relaxes beneath you.

“Yes, we did. The three of us will have to discuss that later though…” She keeps gently scratching and you’d swear that if you were a dog you’d be kicking your leg.

“Okay,” You murmur as you slowly drift off to sleep, feeling warm, content, and very full.

You wake suddenly, disoriented as something blares loudly and cacophonously and large furry paws suddenly manhandling you into an upright position as you start to slump and stumble. Completely out of sorts and dizzy from waking up too quickly, absently you snag up your bible from the grass and look around. It can’t be more than a few hours later, the sun is starting its natural progression into the later afternoon but its no where near nightfall yet.

“Anon, we have to go now!” She sounded harried, almost afraid, and was looking around seeming to be looking for something in specific. You blink slowly, still trying to wake as you rubbed at your face.

“What?” You manage, your stomach rolled clearly unhappy at having to suddenly move, “What’s wrong?”

You aren’t answered however, instead Rose simply grabs you in a hold against her and begins to run back towards the gate for the city; another blaring sound issues out into the air, and you absently realize you're listening to a horn being blown. You can't help but wonder at how fast she’s moving, which was faster than you figured someone her size could move, and in moments you’re back in the city. The only things brought back being your bible, her pots and dish ware having been left outside. Once you're inside, Rose slows, but doesn’t dare put you down but instead keeps carrying you pressed into her side with her considerable strength.

“Whats happening?” You ask, trying to shift against her into a more comfortable position as you looked up at her from her side.

“Raiders,” She answers simply, and realizing things moves to set you back down on the ground, but a large paw snags your wrist quickly once you're down. A horn blares again somewhere off in the distance outside the city. “Orcs.”

“Why would mamono be raiding their own cities?”

“Orcs tend to be outsiders, barbarians, and they’re looking for something in specific.” Rose starts up, leading you through the city and as you quickly begin to note, towards her house.

“What exactly?” You ask, perplexed by all of this, “What are they after that they can’t just trade for get normally?” Rose stops, having arrived at her front door, turns to face you and as she placed two large paws on your shoulders as her bright blue eyes bored into yours.

“Men.”

Snatching you up again, Rose pulls you into a tight embrace, but instead of a hug simply drags you into her house quickly and shut the door and after setting you down gently again, a rather large and thick wooden bar lock places across it.

“Get undressed,”

>Explanation

>You first

For a moment you’re unsure how to answer back to this, simply blinking heavily, Rose however is moving about her stone floored living room and apparently looking for something. Part of you wonders at how undressing would do anything about Orcish raiders. Not sure how to react as you begin to mentally tick off boxes of what Rose intends to do. Mamono are all female, take marriage somewhat seriously, seal the deal with a load of baby batter, outside the city there was a warband of man hungry rampaging orcs, and now she’s demanding you take off your clothes while you’re effectively locked in a secure building with a very large and easily stronger than you Mamono.

“You first,” You blurt out, face starting to burn as you can’t help but begin to imagine her intentions. You held no illusions over it, if she really wanted she could just pin you with ease and take whatever she wanted, her panicked manhandling of you revealed as much. At least her cooking was good, at least you’d have that going for you in your newfound marriage.

“W-what!?” Rose bristles, turning quickly to face you while halfway through rummaging in a cupboard, her face is completely red as she pulls her paws up and together against her large chest almost defensively. This was not the response you were expecting at all.

Quickly you began to wonder if maybe she intended something else entirely, but you decided to shoulder through it and try to get an explanation while using the situation to hopefully get her mind off of things so she wouldn’t be so skittish and slow down with everything. The door was well barred, you doubted anything could get through it, and all the windows you had seen were rather high up and small; too small for an normal human adult to squeeze through anyways.

“Just...be gentle with me alright?” You answer, trying hard to look disappointed and trying not to grin as you look away from her and start to snag the hem of your shirt and lift. Rose makes an odd choking noise and you could almost swear that steam began to come up and off of her exposed skin as she stepped backwards into a wall.

“A-a-anon,” Rose whimpers, tapping her claws rather rapidly while looking away, “I know it was i-important for you,” She sniffs loudly, face breaking out into a rather remorseful look and an in instant you realize trying to distract her in this manner wasn’t a good idea, “J-j-just… you won’t hate me if we h-have to?” Tears are welling up in her eyes and all you can feel is anger at yourself for it.

“No,” You say as you approach her and try to gently hug her though your arms are nowhere near long enough to wrap around her, her large form pleasant and warm against you as she leans suddenly into the contact and shudders against you while sniffling. Maybe you should cut back on the teasing for a while. Large furry paws gently embrace you and hold you close and you can feel her breath on the top of your head, it's uneven and obviously upset. “I wouldn’t hate you if it came to that, but don’t get any ideas.”

You can feel her nodding emphatically as she simply just holds you and breathes slowly, which based on the rhythm is slowly going back to normal.

“Now, could you tell me why I need to get naked?” You ask, pulling back a bit and attempting to look up at her, most of your field of vision is covered over by her ample chest but up between the two large mountains you can see her looking back down at you. Rose is still rather red in the face as she stares down at you.

“You smell.” She states simply and for a moment you're perplexed. You didn’t smell as far as you could tell.

“How do you mean?”

“Mamono…. Our senses are different. Almost all of us are able to smell a man. To t-track,” She gives you a gentle squeeze while explaining this, now refusing to look at you as apparently this is too embarrassing. “I uh… figured we could hide you if you didn’t smell as apparent, your clothes are w-washed in how you smell. S-so hiding you should be easier if you were undressed.”

“Wouldn’t the lack of a man but his smelly clothes be more suspicious than just a lingering scent?” You ask and Rose seems to consider this silently, still refusing to make eye contact while her face burns brightly as she mumbles something you can’t quite hear. “Look, just tell me what we can expect, explain this to me if you can.”

She nods emphatically and gently releasing you from the embrace motions for you to head towards a series of stairs that you guess lead into some sort of basement if not storage for the house, meanwhile she goes back to rummaging in the cupboard before pulling out what looks like a flint and iron. Crouching at her fireplace, she quickly lights it and throws small chunks of wood and a few hunks of charcoal in.

“You’ll need to get somewhere a bit more secure first, okay? I’ll be right down once I’m done preparing up here.” You simply nod and head down, wondering what you’re in store for and absently the back of your mind realizes that Rose will be likely cooking you dinner as well and suddenly the issue of why any of this was happening didn’t really matter anymore. The woman could cook, if worse came to worse, it definitely wouldn’t be much of a loss.

As you headed down, you were met with a general smell of dust and old earth, though the pervasive smell of fresh, real wood was everywhere. As the stair terminated you stepped through a doorway into what was essentially a mirror of Rose’s living room, albeit this one had nicer furniture, various dried goods and storage containers about, and was missing the fireplace you had seen upstairs; the rest is covered over in darkness hiding it away.

Standing there at the bottom of the stairwell with the doorway still open and minimal light you looked around for a lantern and after finding one, brought it over to a nearby chair as you began to open it. After a moment of preparation, you realized you’d need the flint and steel that Rose had and resigned yourself to simply waiting and looking around in the low light. Likewise with the front door, the door to this basement area had latches for a locking bar and had two other doors leading off to who knows what. Rooms maybe or more storage?

It doesn’t take long however as Rose comes down, carrying a few large crates down with ease and once setting them down, hurries over to light the lantern you had partially prepared. In an instant the basement is bathed in a soft flickering light, and you get a better understanding of your surroundings. The basement itself is much larger than the living room, the darker corners receding off into a panel of other doors, apparently the bulk of Rose’s house being beneath the first floor.

Rose processes back to the door, shutting it gently, and placing a rather substantial locking bar in front of it to hold it in place.

“So raids happen often?” You ask, and Rose simply shakes her head.

“No. Only about once every ten or so years,” She answers sheepishly as she heads back to you, and sits on a rather oversized couch and motions for you to sit by her. “You did want me to explain it still, right?” You just nod, complying and sitting next to her. A large, clawed paw begins to gently pet your hair.

“They have a charter to raid for men every few years or so kind of sporadically,” Rose starts, “It's part of a cultural allowance by the Maou, they’re allowed to raid for men on a handful of frontier lands. This was from when the different kinds of Mamono became more united and humans from the kingdom were fairly consistently invading this part of the frontier,”

“So, solved two problems at the same time?” You offered, and Rose simply nodded.

“The deal still stands even though we don’t have any invaders anymore, so now they simply look for any men who aren’t claimed.”

“That's… odd.” You blurt out, “So it's just a surprise marriage thing now? There has to be more to it than that,”

“T-there is. We’re allowed to use reciprocal force and any property damage they cause has to be paid for after.” You mull this over, wondering at it. In terms of things it wasn’t as strange as cheese races anyways; this at least made sense to a degree.

“Is there any kind of bad blood on anyone’s parts over this?” You probe.

“Only for the claimant’s on the part of the differing Mamono who were interested in their claim.” She answers, now alternating to just scratching at your scalp, which was absolutely lovely. You grunted at the sensation, leaning into it, and trying to think over everything.

“So I’m trapped here now?” You ask plainly. The gates were shut but if the Orcs were insistent they could always breach the city walls one way or another, the less force used the more likely they’d be to succeed quickly, but if they were brazen they’d only have to use force to a point and then merely leave town. You sighed, mind jumping from one potential to another.

“The longest raid was about two weeks, but near the end though things were rather relaxed.” Her paw moves, and the claws gently rake down your back in a way that causes you flex and shudder, her tone dejected. “I’m sorry that outing didn’t work out,”

“No, it was great,” You look up at her, touching at her arm that's currently working on scratching your back, “I had a great time. You're a great cook and I honestly enjoyed spending time with you Rose,” Rose’s eyes catch yours and she blushes lightly, a smile taking over her face.

“So this a bunker for during the raids or…?” You trail off, looking around at the expansive basement.

“Oh goodness no Anon. I uh… during the winter I need to hibernate and I get kind of…” she shirks, claws now nervously tapping as nervousness takes over her face, “I get grumpy.” She finishes.

“That's okay. I can be a little grumpy myself.” You smile at her, an errant thought coming to mind and without thinking you can’t help but utter, “So, should I still get naked?”

Rose turns beet red, a frown painting on her face at being teased and swings a paw at you lazily which misses as you hop up and away in the soft flickering light.

>Get to know her more

>What are we going to do down here? *pomf*

>Ask about parents

>Tease more

<We arent going that explicit, yet*

“You!” She fumes, standing up rather quickly though her eyes, even in the low light, give away a playful shine to them.

“I’ll stop, I promise. At least for awhile.” You state quickly, backing up and looking around. “So what will we be doing down here in the meantime anyways?”

“Waiting things out mostly. I guess we could talk and learn more about each other, i-i-if that's okay I mean. I-I could also invite the others over or maybe singal the guards if we need anything… it shouldn’t be too long though. I’m sure they’ll be gone in a few days.” Her claws click together somewhat rapidly. “I hope you won’t mind…”

“No that’s perfectly fine Rose, I actually wanted to talk to you some more.” You say as you move to sit back down, though this time gently leaning into her side, which was warm and soft.

“What about Anon?” She asks, looking down at you and from what you can gauge, likely guessing at whether she should pet your hair or perhaps wrap her arm around you.

“Well…,” You start, looking back up at her, “Whats your family like? What are your parents like?” You feel her tense against you and for a moment you aren’t sure if its because of worry over embarrassment or something else entirely.

“Mother and Father, they loved this place out in the country, so after they bought the farm I-” You grasp her arm quickly, blood freezing over in your veins as you realized you had made a huge mistake.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up anything bad. I'm sorry for your loss.” You blurt out, to which Rose only looks at you in complete shock and confusion.

“What?”

“You said…. They haven’t died?”

“N-no. Not at all, why would you think that?” She asks in horror at the mere suggestion, and you sigh deeply as you realize what you just did wrong.

“Slang. I’m sorry,” You offer, loosening your grip on her arm as you look into her eyes, “‘bought the farm’ tends to mean that someone died in my homeland.” Rose seems to relax as you lean against her, though still looks concerned. “S-sorry to interrupt with something grim. What uh… what kind of farmers are they?”

“All sorts, mostly they have an orchard and an apiary.” Her tone obviously happy to be off of the prior confused subject.

“So you get your honey through your parents?” You ask, and Rose and she simply nods at this before shifting and wrapping her arm around you; you can’t help but shadow her paw as best you can by laying your hand on top of it. “Do ‘lover’s fruit’s grow on trees?” You ask, and she tenses against you somewhat.

“T-two trees actually,” She states simply, not elaborating as her face begins to turn red. Whether it was from your hand on her paw or being reminded of the tea, you couldn’t be sure.

“So…” You start after an awkward pause, “Siblings?”

“Y-yes. I have a brother and two younger sisters. Berin is a cooper, and Iris and Petunia both work on the farm to help harvesting.” Rose states, and you take note of the theme and wonder which of her parents was responsible for it. “What about you Anon?”

“I’m an only child and my parents divorced when I was young,” You state flatly, your eyes suddenly very interested in her paw and gently touching at the fur that covered it and feeling over her large claws. “When they split, it wasn’t great and all they did was fight or try to get me to help in fighting the other… just the way they behaved over it all kind of drove me away. I guess I’m kind of estranged from them?” You ask to no one in particular, “I guess it's part of the reason I’m as religious as I am though, so at least that's one good thing about it.”

It was only a second after finishing off this statement that Rose suddenly snatched you up, pulling you into her lap and tightly holding you in her large and furry arms as her face became buried in your neck; your hands gripping at her arm tightly out of surprise. You can hear a pained sound from her, followed by sniffing as she gently squeezes at you.

“I’m okay Rose,” You state, patting at her arm as you're at a loss as to what you should do about this or even how to comfort her over how distressing she finds this, you begin to feel wet spots forming on your shoulder where her head is buried. Reaching up you touch at her head, gently stroking her hair as her only response is to sniffle and gently squeeze you ever now and again.

The two of you remain this way for quite some time until Rose lifts away from you, still holding you tight, though now simply breathing slowly while resting her head on your crown. The only sound being her breathing, the only thing you can feel being how soft and warm she is against you as her large and pleasant body presses against you.

“Thats horrible,” She finally chokes out, arms loosening on you though you maintain a gentle grip on her paw. “How could they…?” You simply work on putting your hand into her paw, lacing your fingers through and squeezing as you leaned back against her. You didn’t necessarily want to discuss this, it had been years, and even if the pain no longer hurt it was still sore.

“Rose,” You state, and you feel her shift against you as her large chest presses more so into your back making you very aware of her, “I’m okay.” You squeeze her paw in your hand, slowly moving forward until you're off her lap. Standing and turning slightly, you look her into the eyes which are red and puffy, a frown covering her face.

Rose simply looks down, and squeezes your hand gently. The next few hours the two of you talked over various different subjects and seemingly avoided talking about marriage, and in specific your childhood and take on failed marriages. Eventually the two of you got around to talking about food, and Rose let on that she was going to be making her stew again to which your stomach happily acknowledged; her laughter was like the sound of bell and her smile was bright. It wasn’t until you broached the issue of sleeping arrangements before she had begun the head back up that she had faltered and looked worried.

“I uh… I could sleep on one of the couches?” She asked, and looking over it quickly you were almost certain she was too large lengthwise to appropriately use it as a bed.

“You only have one bed?” You ask, confused at this, because there were numerous different rooms that seemed to spawn off of this room alone, not even counting the three doorways you had seen above. “Youre clearly too big for any of the couches Rose,”

“I-I know, and I do. Just not down here.” She motions to the lock bar on the cellar door and it suddenly makes sense, though can’t help but fight against a grin that’s trying to take over your face. You know exactly what you have to say.

“So are there any actual Orcs or was this just an intricate excuse to get in bed with me?” You can’t help but smirk a little, biting at your cheeks to help fight back against the rabid grin. Rose simply looks away, tapping her claws nervously and blushing. “Just the two of us locked up in your basement for a while, no distractions, and only the one bed…” You trailed off, your tone changing as you said it aloud and your brain caught up. Wait, were there any Orcs? You hadn’t seen any. On the other hand, the city had seemed panicked because of the horns however.

“T-there really are Orcs,” She pouts, face burning brightly as an angry albeit very cute expression paints over her face. “Why do you have to be so mean about it?”

“Because you're cute,” You follow up quickly, smiling at her and her pouty, angry expression falters for a moment. “Besides, you could always tease back. The other night was… nice if not mean of you.” Rose’s face changes quickly, and in the low light you can’t place it.

Slowly she pads away from the doorway towards you, you could almost swear she’s trying to do some kind of swagger as her hips roll and pop dramatically until she closes the distance between the two of you. Her large paws grasp at your shoulders and she leans forward, your eyes filled with a vision of mountainous bosom before she presses close, her lips to your ears.

“Do you really want stew for dinner Anon?” She whispers, her paws shifting from your shoulders to under arms as she grips at your body, “Or would you rather eat something else?” The tone is sultry, and you can feel your face begin to burn as you swallow loudly. “I have something very very sweet for you, just for you if you want it. I know it wants you.” Sweat begins to bead on your brow as a need begins to stir inside you, and your pants.

“It’s okay, I know I’m so much larger and stronger than you. You could always claim I overpowered you, for pride’s sake.” Her lips trace shapes on your ear, and part of you desperately wants her to bite at them, her claws to scratch down your back so very pleasantly, “But we’d both know what really happened. How you begged for the taste of my honey,” Something about the inflection she put on honey sends gooseflesh across your body and your suddenly glad for the low light, hoping she wont notice anything below your waist. “How badly you needed and wanted it. I won’t mind at all.”

Slowly she lifts you up, straightening her own posture as well as your suddenly forced against her, eye to eye as she stares you down with a light in her eyes you hadn’t seen since the night before.

“Tell me what you want to eat Anon,” You feel yourself begin to swallow your own tongue, your whole body cold yet somehow beginning to sweat. Most of your lower body is forced to press against her chest, you're only hope to avoid drawing attention to yourself by simply not reacting.

>Stammer (2)

>Not till marriage

You stammer somewhat loudly, trying to find the words as your face burns brightly and trying not to avert your eyes or bring attention to your pants in any way. Part of you was very obviously happy at the offer and was currently pressed up against her rather soft, and warm chest. Rose shifts, slowly setting you back down on the floor as the two of you seem to silently work on regaining some composure, as Rose’s face is just as red as you expect yours is.

“W-well Anon?” She asks, grinning down at you as she begins to lift and move the large lockbar on the door. A smug grin breaks out on your face as the words come to you, and reaching out you touch gently at her hip.

“I’d love to taste your honey,” Rose’s eyes snap to you intensely, no longer paying attention to the door at all, and you can almost feel how hot her face is burning. “All the time even, but only after we’re married.”

Rose sniffed loudly, in a mix of disappointment and based on her face ‘something else’ you can’t place and makes an odd noise like a mix between a growl and a bad engine turning over. Quickly she turns back to the door and goes back to opening it fully and setting the lockbar aside.

“The stew would be great in the meantime Rose,” You state cheerfully, grinning a bit as she leers back at you with a pout before slowly heading up the stairs. “So…. what should we do about the bed situation?” Rose stops on the steps, turning back to look at you and tapping her claws nervously.

“I c-couldn’t ask you to sleep on the couch, its uh…,” She starts, her face actually a bit nervous.

“How about just for tonight then, and tomorrow we can try and get a futon or something set up?”

“Whats a futon?” Her eyes light with curiosity.

“It’s like a simple sleeping pad. That way we don’t have to try and move around any furniture, I don’t want to just upend your living arrangements just because of the raid.”

“I wouldn’t mind Anon, but we could do that.” Her tone is sincere as she smiles and begins to head up the stairs again; you have to fight part of yourself from staring after her rear. The feel of her lips on your ear and the sound of her voice suddenly popping back into your head and all you could do is sigh heavily and mentally ask God for strength.

You pause at the edge of the stairway before heading up after Rose, a bit of apprehension had started to take its hold on you. Outside, in what you couldn’t hear, was apparently the equivalent of a mass forced shotgun weddings by the mostly polite raider band who might come after you, but on the alternative side Rose was here; which now added on, but mostly because of yourself. You had been somewhat tempted.

As you come back up into her living room, you head over to a chair and snatch up your bible from the table you had left it on and sit down while Rose moves around and begins preparing various ingredients. You watch her for a moment as you feel the worn leather, a feeling of contentment slowly ebbs through you and the worry about a new, assumedly green, wife or anything terrible melts away. As you watch her begin to cut through and prepare some potatoes, you can’t help but think of how nice everything is in the Mamono lands and tangentially being tied down.

“Rose, would you like me to help?” You ask as you stand and head over, to which you only get a nod and a warm smile from her as she hands you a potato to scrub. The two of you worked on the stew, occasionally smiling at each other or sharing a word or two on the next step for the meal. After a while Rose presses her side against yours, scratches at your scalp with her paw, and drops the last of the ingredients into a large cast iron pot before smiling sweetly at you.

“Thanks ho-er uh… A-anon,” She blushes, biting her bottom lip.

“Anything particular bothering you about the word honey, honey?” You grin smugly at her, which only drives her skin to turn a brighter red and trying to cover her face with her paws.

“I-its just…,” She mumbles the rest, pulling her paws away from her face and wringing them together.

“Something you’d want to call someone you care about.” You state out loud for her, before touching at her arm and leaning into her side. “This is only the fourth day since we met… and it wasn’t a great meeting,” You trail off, smiling at the thought of it and how pleasant Mamono apparently were with some kind of built in directive to form a family, “I take it it’s because I’m going a bit slower and Mamono are quite a bit faster about things, and you don’t want me to feel rushed?”

“Mmhmm,” is the only response you get and reaching up, touching her arm to get her attention.

“I won’t mind, t-the nickname, I mean.” You clarify quickly, the feel of her easily lifting you and the way her eyes looked popping back into your mind. “Just… slowly is all. And only the one thing, not before marriage.”

Rose turns slightly and gently wraps you in a hug and bends down somewhat, her maple colored hair crashing against your face as gently presses her forehead against yours; the two of you sit this way for a moment and she begins to make the odd bad engine sound again, though this time somewhat quieter than before. You know little about Mamono, and even less about bears except what you learned from cartoons, but this has to be somewhat similar to a cat purring. After a time she pulls away, almost reluctantly, and begins to go about preparing a fire to cook it all in which takes little time with her practiced paws.

“S-so honey,” Her face tints with a slight blush, “W-would you like to read some more of your bible to me?” You can’t help but happily nod, and after snagging it off the table the two of you head over to one of her plainer couches. The two of you sit next to each other and after some back and forth you decide to focus on running through a set of the various big stories.

You had touched on the creation of man, and Rose seemed conflicted until you explained that it was allegorical but also a real event. Serving as an explanation at why things were the way they were, and the how and why of mankind being fallen. You couldn’t be sure, but it seemed as though the idea that mankind was permanently stained by evil seemed to upset her sensibilities; which took a while of explaining free will and that God had corrected this through Jesus, though you neglected to state the specifics of how this absolution had been gained. Just the mere mention of your parents splitting had pulled a rather stressed reaction from her, you weren’t sure if she could handle what had happened without trauma. You knew it was inevitable, but right now just didn’t seem right.

Afterwards the two of you jumped into David and Goliath, which had led into a discussion about why there weren’t any Mamono in your homeland. There had obviously been monsters, once the Maou came to power any that were around should have changed. You weren’t sure how to answer this, obviously worried about your alien nature and the way others might react. Maybe the humans would have attempted to dissect you if not just jail you as a madman, but the Mamono? Who knew, besides being ‘married’. Eventually you just conceded you weren’t entirely sure on the specifics, but clarified that Goliath wasn’t a giant as how Rose was probably familiar but instead a rather very deformed man from a family of deformed, possibly inbred, people; which transitioned to Exadactylus, the third son of Goliath, as well as the mentions of Goliath’s brother. While disgusted by the implication, Rose seems to accept this answer, all throughout checking the stew every now and again and near the end cooking up some meat for it.

“Well, it looks like the stew finished up early.” She gently dumps the freshly cooked meat into the pot with the rest. “It still needs to set up a bit longer though. Do you want to keep reading or maybe we could ta-” Three loud knocks suddenly resound from her front door. Rose merely looks at it, then to you. Her concern is obvious as she begins to motion silently with her paws to head down into the basement.

>Go downstairs (3)

>Knock back (2)

You quickly grab up your bible and head towards the front door, Rose whisper-yelling something at you as you plod over to the door and quickly rapp out shave and a haircut on the doorframe as clearly as you can. There’s a pause and you turn back to Rose and give her thumbs up, grinning dumbly as you start to head for the basement. Rose looks on at you in annoyance as you go.

You weren’t overly concerned however. Rose was quite imposing and more importantly: There hadn’t been a response. Whoever on the other side wasn’t frenzied and had clearly been confused by the response. You figured it had to be someone who had a real reason to come calling.

“Okay,” You call out quietly to Rose once you hit the bottom of the stairwell, and turning around you looked back up them, and waited patiently to find out who had come by. A guard? Marin perhaps? Or maybe a very clever Orc?

After a moment, in the silence you realized you were holding your breath for some reason and only let it go once you heard the door lockbar being moved free and the door being gently opened and in moments is closed again. It takes a moment but you immediately recognize the voice, which is sharp and barking.

“Have you seen him?” Asked the interrogator quickly, the tone somewhat annoyed but with an edge of worry to it. Quickly you started up the stairway and poked your head over the edge of the flooring to look over at the guard Captain. This time she was out of her armor, and much like Shawna and Kara, was wearing the same wrapped clothe and skirt. Was it a regional set of clothes that off duty guards wore? Or something specific for wolf like Mamono?

“I’m here,” You called out, stepping up further on the stairs. “How come?” Which gets you a look from Rose while the Captain merely sighs heavily and seems to relax.

“I had several people demanding I make sure you weren’t absconded with by any of our guests, but looks like you were anyways.” Something in the tone of her voice seems a little off. Jealousy or was it something else entirely? “Well congratulations.” Rose fumbles at this statement for a moment.

“Oh, Morinth, we aren’t uh… w-we haven’t. Yet.” You weren’t sure you liked the inflection Rose had put on yet. The Captain looked between the two of you, seeming to size up the two of you.

“Why not?”

“W-well you se-”

“It’s against my religion to have sex before being married.” You cut off Rose, offering it out and fully. Slowly you came up the rest of the stairway before sitting at the top step, eyeing the Wolf-woman who simply makes a face before turning to face Rose.

“And you’re going to go along with this?” Her tone is incredulous as she asks Rose, her large and fluffy paws landing on her hips in an almost disappointed look. Rose absently begins tapping her claws, looking away from you.

“She said as much.” You state, starting to wonder why this seems to matter to her, “For now we’re courting an-” She snorts at this, loudly. “What?” You spit out, feeling a bit defensive though most of it was for Rose, was the Captain judging her for this? Was it viewed as some kind of a weakness to wait by Mamono? Obviously your tone was noticed and both of them looked at you in a bit of surprise, Rose’s expression tinged with that same look that you can’t quite place. Wanting maybe? The two of them turn back to each other, then beginning quietly talking to each other in hushed tones.

“What?” You ask again, starting to head over only for the two of them to abruptly stop whatever it was they were discussing and for Morinth to pat Rose’s shoulder.

“Well good luck then,” She mumbles before moving back and approaching the front door, “I still say you should probably just grab him and bed him just to be safe,”

“Morinth,” Rose grumbles, moving to pick up the lock bar and readying for the wolf-woman’s departure. “I think I can handle this,”

“Fine fine,” The captain mumbles back and begins to open the door, half stepping out into the afternoon and looking around before turning round and looking directly at you and then finally settling on Rose, “Don’t go out for the next few days, they aren’t trying to climb over the walls like last time, so they're obviously planning something. I’ll check in with you tomorrow okay?”

“We’ll be careful Morinth,” Rose states as the door shuts and she quickly slots the lockbar and sighs loudly. “Maybe an Orc would have been better…” She mumbles before heading back towards the pot and looking at you expectantly.

“So what was that exactly?” You ask coming over and plopping back down on the couch, Rose already settling back into stirring the food momentarily before coming over to join you.

“N-nothing really, just Morinth.” Rose starts tapping her claws and looking at you with a touch of nervousness.

“I feel like it was a bit of scheming and something else,” Rose swallows loudly at this and reaches over to grab up your hand in her large paws and leaning closer into you.

“Anon, y-you wouldn’t run if the manacle came off, would you?” Her eyes are bright with worry, looming over you as she leans close.

“No, I don’t think so.” You answer rather quickly, and earnestly too. So far your jaunt through this world had been boring, until you ended up in Mamono lands, sure things were odd but that just made things interesting; a far cry from the poor renaissance fair that was the human lands. “I don’t think I’d want to, not that I’d even have a reason to run. Why?”

“Thats uh… basically what Morinth was mentioning before…” She trails off and you mentally fill in the rest of the line of thought. Did the captain think you were a suspicious person? She definitely seemed to think that during your interrogation. Did she, or Rose, imagine you simply running at the first opportunity you had?

“I’ll be honest, I’m not enthused entirely about needing to get married if I want to leave the city limits.” You state, squeezing her paw back. “But I overall like the city, and how interesting Mamono lands are, and few of the people I’ve met. And besides that, there is a rather cute girl I met…” Rose looks away, blushing slightly at it. “There’s also the issue of getting a job as well… well, after this raid I guess?”

“I see,” Rose simply states, smiling slightly before letting go of your hand and heading back to the pot to check on it.

“Is that okay with you honey?” You can’t help but grin, turning on the couch to face her and catching her blush quite a bit heavier.

“Hush,” She chides, but smiling brightly as she turns the stew over this way and that in the pot. The smell of it hits you in the gut and your mouth waters heavily at the smell.

“Well, though it wasn’t really planned, thank you for having me. If you need me to do anything or help out, just let me know.” Rose simply nods absently, before re-lidding the pot and heading back over. As she sits she goes to scratch at your scalp and pull you into halfway leaning against her and the two of you sit this way for quite awhile, just enjoying the smell of the cooking food filling the air, and the warmth of each other.

A loud, almost frenzied, knocking comes out from the front door in a harsh staccato. Rose snags the back of your shirt, holding you tight by it and looking down at you judgmentally.

“You are not doing that again,” She states, “Stay.” Quickly she gets up and begins to head toward the door before looking back at you, and motions slightly to the basement. “J-just be ready okay?”

>Move to the kitchen and ready to grab a fire poker

>Stand at the top of the basement stairs

>Tell Rose she doesn’t need to worry, you’ll be fine

>Stand at stairway, arm with fire poker

>Pray (2)

Silently, you mostly comply; snagging the fire poker and in one hand, your bible in the other, and stand at the top of the stairway while mentally ticking off a prayer. You weren’t even fully sure what it was you were rattling off in your head, something between asking forgiveness for possibly harming an intruder as well as a plea that God would grant you your chastity in the face of these raiders bounced around in your head.

You gripped the poker tightly, inhaling silently as went about slowly working on opening the door and after bracing it with her foot. Slowly, painstakingly, she opens the door just a crack and peeks out. ‘Maybe I should invent the peephole,’ you thought idly.

“Oh,” Rose lets out before fully opening the door and ushering in the guests and quickly re-barring the door. In comes four, one you can’t recognize whose skin is an off purple and her clothes seem to hug her in unnatural ways who immediately looks in your direction and smiles in way that makes you scared, of what you’re not sure; the others you know however, Kara dressed now in a different set of the similar wrapping clothes, Marin who is carrying the rest of your personal belongings, and oddly Lady Gelen. “We were about to have dinner, I guess the rest of you can join us if you’d like.

“Oh yes, thanks!” Kara responds in her usual cheerful manner, tail wagging excitedly, to which Rose simply nods happily. Apparently Kara’s infectious personality affected everyone.

“Anon, where should I put these?” Marin asks, eyes lighting over you as she approaches with your things in hand. Your comfy blue robes, and the bag you kept your gel pens, mead, and ceramic knife. It takes only a second but she notices your odd arrangement and stops in her tracks.

“Uh… here,” You mumble, silently and quickly putting down the poker against the wall and holding out your free hand for it, only to get a shake of her head. So you start down the stairs. “Sorry,” you mumble out quietly, Rose and Lady Gelen beginning to converse as she likely introduces the stranger.

“No, it’s okay.” Marin quietly answers back as she follows you down, smiling at you. “It’s kind of funny actually.”

“Doesn’t really seem like it for me.” You answer back as you head down into the low light and lead her over to the couch and thinking over it, you hold onto the bible as she sets your bag down. Lady Gelen was maybe here to hear or even read some more herself, Kara however had definitely come over to hear more. Just as you start to turn round, Marin presses close against you and hugs you tightly and for a moment you freeze up in surprise before gently hugging her back.

“What's this about?” You ask after a moment, letting go as she starts to sniff at you, and finally pulling away from you after an awkward moment. Her face is lit with a light blush and a smile.

“For uh… well for telling me to talk to Rose again,” She smiles toothily at you and grabbing at your hands, squeezes them in hers. “I’ll need to talk to both of you later, a-about courting. If you don’t mind.” You felt your face burning a bit, the issue between the two girls apparently an issue of how many were vying for you.

“S-so uh….” You try to distract and then seize on the obvious, “How come you brought my stuff?”

“Oh. The raiders. It’d be kind of suspicious if they found your things and they’d definitely notice a room that's rented but empty.”

“Right,” You answer, it did make sense.

“And We, uh… me and my sisters, didn’t want a repeat of last time. Last time they smashed a ton of tables while fighting over some guy's clothes that had been left months before.” Your eyes widened at this.

“Thank you for bring my stuff then and I apologize if m-”

“No. If they cause any problems, it won’t be your fault.” Marin sighs, probably thinking over the mess and mayhem that might be occurring or happening later. Your hands get another squeeze as she starts to look over your face, focusing on your eyes as she stares.

“We should probably head back up,” you float to her.

“Y-yeah.” Is the only response you get as she lets go of your hands and starts to head back to the stairway with you in tow. As the two of you come up, you notice the others already setting up the table with bowls of stew and bread for everyone, cups with perhaps water or beer. Kara’s tail beating out a rhythm from her chair. As you head for the table Marin snags a free chair and pulls one out for you which is situated next to her with what could only be Rose’s spot on your opposite side as it's the only empty spot left. Beneath the table you feel something warm coil around your ankle.

“Hey Anon!” Kara greets you in her cheerful tone, tail still strumming out a beat. “How’s your day been?”

“It’s been pretty good,” You answer back, you can feel the stranger’s eyes on you even though she’s in some kind of conversation about shipping or something. “How was your day?”

“I’m getting free off days,” She smiles at you as she announces this, Marin begins to bite one of her knuckles as she struggles not to say anything. “Captain said it was pointless so I got released from duties.” Marin, the stranger, and Lady Gelen do their utmost not to make any kind of sound at this; Kara however seems entirely ignorant of the implication and instead rather blissful at the free time off.

“That's good, you don’t want to get burned out.” You follow up as both Lady Gelen and the stranger stop their conversation and turn to acknowledge you.

“We haven’t been introduced,” Says the purple woman, eerie almost unnatural green eyes peering into yours as she holds out her hand to you across the table, her hair seeming oddly smooth and “Rullia. I’m with the Mages Guild, I was one of the guests at the dinner you delayed.” You offer your hand to her.

“I’m Anon,” You answer as her hand twists onto yours and you instinctively recoil from the unnatural touch. Her skin had felt slick, almost wet, and the movement and how she had grasped at yours wasn’t describable except for one word: wrong. As you pull away her image shifts and shivers, changing before being a decidedly more tentacled, eye covered, and slimy looking Rullia. It takes everything you’ve got to not leap up and away from the table. “Interesting, I guess you were right.” Rullia says to Gelen. Lady Gelen’s eyes light at this, simply nodding along to this, “He is definitely touched by something, but I didn’t feel him cast anything to disp-”

“Whats going on?” You ask quickly, the panic in your voice clear as you touch at your hand where Rullia had tried to grasp yours.

“We’re just checking on things is all,” Lady Gelen answers, her red eyes glinting with curiosity. You look over to Marin for reassurance who simply squeezes your ankle below the table and gives you a rather nonplussed look, “I knew he was some kind of priest, the fact that you dispelled an illusion proves it.”

“I uh… technically am.” You answer, looking between the demon and the Rullia both of whom snap to eye you more as their interest apparently piqued by your response. Rullia, whose entire body shifts and undulates, flexing or breathing, while her clothes gently and slowly moving against her as if they're a second layer of skin on her body.

“And you ran away? Failed to finish out an oath?” Gelen suddenly interjects excitedly, again getting lost in some story point from one of her ‘dirty’ books you assume.

“N-no.” You answer sheepishly, nervously offering a grin, “It’s uh… a bit more complicated than that. My religion mandates that I… Well, everyone involved is encouraged to behave as a priest, but I’m not married, in good standing in the community, and have children; so serving a congregation wouldn’t be considered ideal.” Just as the two of them share a glance, Rose comes by having finished whatever task she had been at work on and sits next to you, seemingly scooting closer as she adjusted her chair.

Just as you begin to draw your hands together, Kara starts to similarly mime, only for Rose to snag you hand in her paw; Marin simply looks at the two of you before you tentatively hold out your hand to her.

“I guess we should all join hands,” You smile nervously, unsure how Gelen and Rullia will react overall; Kara however snags up Lady Gelen’s hand quickly and reaches for Roses free paw. “I’m going to pray, f-for the food and all.” You explain, and the two of them slowly complete the circle.

It takes a moment, but you walk through almost everything you can think of. The food, the good day, having not been caught up in the Orc raid, and finally ending on having guests over. As you finish, both Rose and Marin gently squeeze each of your hands while Kara immediately tears into her food. The rest of you slowly start to mill your bowls about, evaluating the bread and making plans on how to best attack your meals.

“So, what exactly is the curiosity about anyways?” You ask, picking up your piece of bread and dabbing it into your stew to help soak up a bit of the fat off the top, but also because you knew the juices were perfect.

“I read something interesting, in your book I mean,” The blue woman answers, spooning up a potato and blowing on it. “Your deity seems to be a lawful one but then has qualities that would make it some kind of chaos being.”

“I don’t understand,” And apparently neither do Kara, Marin, and Rose who all seem to have stopped considering their food as they listen in on the discussion.

“Your god is described similarly to the chief god that humans from the neighboring kingdom claim to worship, but also has behaviors and traits that are also eldritch in nature.” Rullia answers, several more of her eyes focus on you, some opening even on her hands. “It’s an interesting conundrum, that and the explanation of how you knew about the poisoner… Do you know what I am?”

“A Mamono?” You offer, which gets you a rather toothy, too wide, grin from the shifting woman; you can’t help but shudder a little.

“While true, no. I’m an abyssal horror.” Rullia’s face shifts, no longer smiling too wide for her face. “We were curious about it because your deity sounds almost as if it’s ours.”

“Technically I’d have to argue that he is and merely lost to you. What… brought this on in particular?” You get a smirk from Rullia, while Gelen starts to fidget in her chair while trying to swallow her hunk of potato.

“T-the man whose face was altered.” She states, before grabbing a cup and taking a swig from her cup, which prompts you to look into yours: beer.

“Could you be more specific?” You venture, not sure what she’s referencing in particular.

“Uh… Moss was his name. He went up a mountain and looked at your god, and it changed his face. It wasn’t the only instance of eldritch I found.”

“Moss? You must mean Moses.” You answer matter-of-factly, Marin mumbles something in shock at the confirmation that a man’s face was altered simply for viewing something, “Why would any of that matter though?”

“My people have been looking for our creator for a long time.” Rullia answers, a forlorn look coming over her, all of her seeming to be drawn in as she folds her arms close. “Yours sounds the closest we’ve ever heard of, changing things just based on being glimpsed, and such known by humans no less, but he hadn’t taken a physical form s-”

“The baby!” Kara shouts through a mouthful of bread, excitedly while suddenly standing up, “You said he became a baby!”

“Yes. Right,” You say, halfway wanting to laugh but also exasperated by the outburst, “He did take on human form to purify and absolve us.” Rullia’s eyes, all of them that you can see anyways, seem to focus and shine brightly at this.

“How did this happen?” She asks quickly, Lady Gelen seems to be interested as well, but merely taking on a listening role.

“It’s a bit complicated,” You start, only to launch into a rather length discussion over the corruption of humanity, the nativity, the large debate over the general mystery of how a corrupted human woman could carry God within herself without contaminating him as well as the differing views on how that could be, and finally segueing into Christ in general.

“Interesting, do you think she could have been a Mamono or something similar?” Lady Gelen asks as she sips at her beer, almost all of you having finished with your meals.

“She was human though,” You answer, somewhat confused by this, “Can people become mamono?”

“Women can, from mana exposure” Rullia answers quickly for her, obviously thinking over much of what was brought up. “Men it just fixes up or heals. So his mere existence absolved you of this ‘stain’?”

“Oh no, his death did that.” You answer without thinking, and the entire feel of the room goes cold. Marin and Rose are staring at you, Kara happens to choke on her drink, and the interest of Lady Gelen and Rullia are redoubled in the subject. All at once there's a loud cacophony of all of them simultaneously demanding an explanation; Rose and Marin obviously concerned, Kara upset, and the blue and purple women clearly perplexed. Part of you realizes that most of it is as a result of their inherent nature; somehow the Maou had made them ‘good’, but whether it was an issue of that a perfect being or a man that was harmed that upset them, you couldn’t say.

>Demand one at a time

>explain the resurrection

>Suggestions

“Alright, let's go through this slowly and you can ask questions at the end. One at a time.” You state, looking at your hands and thinking of the best way to explain everything in a way that wouldn’t result in any questions. “Before time began, before anything. Everything involving his appearances, birth, incarnation, death and resurrection had been determined with the foreknowledge of every outcome that would and could occur, and he determined the path that had to happen and why. Before man was created he knew man would fall and how, and had already determined the means of purifying and saving any who would accept him through his own sacrifice.” Kara and Rullia seem to be rather enrapt, though likely for differing reasons, while Gelen swallows loudly. Marin simply tenses her tail on your ankle, her and Rose both looking on at you as you continue.

“Over time prophecies and laws had been given to mankind by him and all of them did occur, but some did not occur in the manner that had been desired. At the time, it was effectively believed that Christ would appear to establish an eternal kingdom, and any who opposed him would be destroyed. Physically, materially.” You sigh, “This is not what happened. Christ fulfilled the law, whose purpose was to show that we were incapable of overcoming our corruption, and then allowed for his own sacrifice. Through his sacrifice, he was harrowed and afterward had ended true death, then he was resurrected and his body changed.” You pause trying to think how to explain this, your forehead furrowing till you looked like a sharpei puppy, Rullia is completely absorbed as is Gelen. “Before this… there was only sheol er…. Hell. A total separation of God, from good; the only end was either something not great or true torment. After it was fulfilled he ascended, established his eternal kingdom, the ecclesia, which is made of the righteous dead with whom he begs pardon for against the judgement of his otherself.”

Kara gulps loudly at this, with the eldritch woman and the demon share a look, and though you're unsure it seems as if Rose broke out into goosebumps.

“I think that's the best I’ll be able to articulate it, at least as general statement.” You cross your fingers through each other, hands tenting as you try and think; but instead of immediate questions you get silence for several very long moments.

“So he became a lich?” Rullia asks, curiosity drowning her features as her eyes begin to literally glow an off shade of green.

“No.” You answer quickly, “He was fully alive, not undead. His body reformed but was still bearing the marks of his execution.” Rullia leans in quickly, more eyes opening on her body, her clothes, all of her seeming to shift or melt.

“Can you be certain of this? Are you sure?” Her boneless hands grasp unnaturally at the table’s surface.

“Out of the twelve of his primary apostles, only one died of natural causes. All of them were consistently jailed, tortured, and eventually executed; none of them ever waivered. If it was a lie, that would be rather crazy to needlessly endure… wouldn’t it?” You can feel Marin’s eyes boring into you from the side, the air in the room odd and tense, Kara is obviously confused but also upset by the turn of events.

“W-well,” Rullia relaxes, pulling back from the table and grabbing at Lady Gelen’s arm, “W-we really should be going. I have a lot to do, and I’ll be in touch Anon.” Lady Gelen looks a bit frazzled as she’s pulled along, back to the front door, Rose already in tow to help reset the lockbar.

“What about dessert?” Gelen mumbles quietly, but not quietly enough to be caught and you can’t help but grin about it; the tense feel completely evaporating.

“Next time. We have a lot of people to contact,” Rullia retorts excitedly, before looking to Rose and smiling, “Thanks for having us.” And just as quick as an oil flash in a pan, the two of them are gone and you can hope is that this wasn’t going to turn into something weird.

“D-did he really die?” Kara asks sadly, seeming deflated, as she looks over at you from across the table; Rose quickly rejoins the group for a moment before working on refilling everyone’s cups.

“Yes. But it’s okay, he’s risen and eventually I… well, hopefully all of us will get to see him.” This seems to reassure Kara a touch.

“It’s all very grim sounding.” Marin states, looking a bit glum. “Was it really that bad for them? I mean, all of them but one were executed?”

“Yes.” You say solemnly, “But it’s what was supposed to happen.”

The discussion dies out for a time, only to be rekindled about complaints with the inn and having to work even when no one would be showing up, or at least not until the orcs somehow get into the city. As a response to this Kara enthusiastically reminds Marin that she has the next few days or more off, causing the poor mouse to pout. Eventually however, Rose mentions that they could each continue to visit and help out with things as you’re stuck here in the meantime and would likely want a bit more company than just spending every waking moment with her; you can’t help but agree, but it does cause your mind to wander at the idea.

Locked in a house with a large, shapely bear woman who had only a few hours earlier had coaxed an almost visceral response to some rather honeyed innuendo and minor physical feat. You felt yourself swallow hard and mentally decided that having guests would probably be a good idea; being locked in with Rose might be dangerous, but it was as far as you could figure, less dangerous than risking the Orcs.

“Anon?” Rose asks, touching at your shoulder, your eyes locking with hers quickly as you look up from your chair. Kara is laid out on the couch, apparently over full and likely to fall into a nap shortly. Meanwhile Marin is moving about the kitchen area, helping to clean.

“Huh?”

“You seem kind of distracted, are you okay?”

“Y-yes, just thinking is all.” You answer, touching at her paw on your shoulder and smiling at her reassuringly. “What are Orcs like?”

“Smelly, rambunctious, and rude.” Marin answers quickly, turning to face the two of you and frowning as she apparently remembers the last raid. “And some of them have no concept of manners, last time one of them was swatting people with their tail a-”

“Tail?” You ask quickly in surprise, and both Rose and Marin look at you in a touch of confusion. “Orcs have tails?”

“Yes,” Rose answers, slowly nodding her head in agreement as she says it, confusion only growing as you forehead wrinkles.

“What does an Orc look like?” You ask as you put your head in your hands, rubbing at your forehead. Was there something else other than a tusked, green skinned barbarian?

“They’re either very… well pink or kind of a rudy, reddish brown. They have pointed floppy ears and their tails can either be short and corkscrewed or rather long with a tuft of hair, depending on how old they are anyways. They tend also to be a bit plump.” Marin answers, her free hand grasping at her own tail before wrapping it up and around her waist as a belt. You can’t help but frown at this description.

“So they’re pig like?” You ask, feeling a bit confused by this as all you can mentally figure is a rather curvy woman with pig-like features.

“Basically.” Rose answers, before pulling her paw away from your shoulder. “If you're tired Anon you could go lay on the other couch, and once we’re done here me and Marin can get you once we’ve made a futon for you.”

“Whats a futon?” Marin asks curiously and as Rose begins to explain, you think over your options.

>Refuse, help clean up

“I think I’ll help clean up first Rose,” You answer to which both Marin and Rose simply nod, the meal weighing heavily on you and for a moment you're not sure if you may have made the wrong choice. Your movements are slow and sluggish as you go about helping clean up, as you start to help with the various dishes you can’t help but be envious of Kara as she starts to snore.

As the various dishes and more are taken care of the three of you smile at each other and sigh, before you start for the basement as a blanket gets draped on Kara. Both Marin and Rose following after you as you head down.

“So where would be best?” You ask in the low light of the downstairs area, looking around and finding Rose resetting the lockbar and Marin holding several sets of blankets and a pillow or two. “Won’t Kara panic if she wakes up with us gone?” You ask, concern coming into your voice but you can’t help but grin a bit as you imagine it; a minor prank maybe, but you didn’t want her to be frightened that something unknown had happened.

“She’ll be fine Anon, she knows about the basement.” Rose responds as she finishes with the bar, and turns to face you. “Well… you can pick, most of the other rooms are storage areas.” Quickly you simply pick the room closest to the stairway to its right, heading over to it while Marin and Rose start a back and forth about why she wouldn’t offer the bed down here to you.

After grabbing your personal items you open the door and you're met with a smell that immediately makes you nostalgic, something you can’t describe at all but its instantly recognizable. The smell of an old, unused room and immediately all you think about is how the room you'd stay in when visiting your grandparents smelled exactly the same. After a moment you look around, and sure enough it was mostly storage; various barrels barring labels and crates lined the walls. As you turned back to Marin, she quietly hands off a large amount of the blankets to you.

After a quick survey of the room you find a spot that looks best and begin rolling over some of the heavier blankets and laying them flat on the floor and finally crowning it with a pillow and dropping a light sheet down as a blanket. Sighing you sit down on the floor and begin pulling off your shoes.

“Anon,” The mouse starts behind you, and you stop mid sock removal as you look back to her at the doorway. “If you're up to it… the three of us could talk, if you're not too tired that is.”

“I think I can manage it,” You smile at her, despite the awkward feeling about it overall, most of your concern being moreso for Rose then how it made you feel; you were stuck here, you might as well try to assimilate to a degree. Quickly you pull off your socks. “I hope earlier wasn’t too much though… I kind of figured it might be a bit too much for all of you right off the bat.”

Marin simply comes close, and touches at your shoulder before kneeling next to you and setting her head on your shoulder.

“It was a bit… much to take. Is it really for anyone, so long as they accept him?” Her voice sounds small and worried as she presses against you.

“Yes. I highly doubt Mamono would be denied. During Christs execution he promised a thief that he would be saved simply because he was repentant and one of the apostles who wrote most of the bible was a murderer…” Absently you touch at her head on your shoulder, fingers playing over her large mousy ear which flicked at the touch, “Just because your people look different, are different, isn’t reason enough I’d say.” Marin simply hums an acknowledgement before touching your hand with hers and starting to pull away and head for the doorway.

“Can we talk about that more? I’d like to learn more about it, I mean besides the other stuff we’re going to talk a-about...” She asks, looking back at the last minute and smiling at you as a blush starts to paint her features and all you can do is nod enthusiastically.

As she left you went about a routine of ‘brushing’ your teeth, setting aside your worn clothes to wash, and swapping into your rather comfy robes you were practically ready to sleep. Setting your shirt, pants, and socks in a neat pile and then thinking it over, grab your bottle of mead and head out of the room and head towards the couch in the basement livingroom.

Sitting down you roll the bottle around in your hands, feeling the smooth and cool glass, and rechecking the label find the mead to be one with mulled spices and wondered if opening it would be a good idea, on the other hand though you were never one to care about wine snobbery and felt that saving alcohol was kind of silly. Looking around you notice that Rose and Marin are apparently discussing something in the other room, likely Rose’s, in hushed tones with door shut. They wouldn’t try anything, would they? You shake away the errant thought, Rose wouldn’t allow it, so what were they discussing? It couldn’t be about who was sleeping where.

As you waited you went back to considering your mead. Did they have mulled spice mead here? Would Rose, as a meadmaker, be impressed with it or disgusted? Looking over the bottle you couldn’t find an age for it, so if anything it was maybe just short of two years old if not just barely older. At the very least she’d be moderately impressed with how clear of yeast it was.

“Anon. Could you come here a moment?” Rose calls out to you from the room with door just barely ajar, and after considering it a moment, you place the bottle down on the couch and head over. You aren’t sure what to expect outside of what they wouldn’t do, were they going to force you to sleep in the bed while they took the couch and makeshift futon? That didn’t seem too out of character. As you came to the door you stopped and thinking better of it, knocked just in case. There was a pregnant pause, apparently confused at why you simply hadn’t come in, and then the door was opened.

You couldn’t help snort loudly as you tried to suppress a laugh from jumping out of your throat. Marin was dressed in what you could only guess was a spare nightgown of Rose’s which looked like a tent on her, Rose apparently having the opposite issue with her gown seeming to barely fit against her large and generous form, you were forced to look at Marin who simply frowned grumpily at your reaction.

“S-sorry,” You blurt out, biting your bottom lip savagely as you fought not to laugh, let alone smile. “I-its just,” You snorted again, and Marin rolled her eyes in annoyance.

“I know,” Marin states as she grabs up heaps of the cloth to stop from tripping over it as she moves across the room and leans on the edge of the bed. But just as quickly the frown dissipates and as you all look at each other, youre certain your face is just as nervous and flushed as theirs are.

“M-maybe in the livingroom?” Rose ventures, “I-in here is kind of…” She trails off, trying to flatten a set of wrinkles on her gown which only drew attention to her large, muscular, but still pleasantly full thighs; to which you were having issues in looking away, but did manage it. Both you and Marin simply nod silently knowing exactly what Rose meant and begin trodding out of the room, Marin yet again having to grab heaps of cloth to do so. Mentally you tried to prepare yourself for the inevitable awkwardness during a conversation meant to sell you on dating both of them at the same time with a possible end goal of marrying both; the obvious issues between the two of them having been resolved since including Marin didn’t mean her two sisters tagging along.

The three of you eventually got situated on the couch, with you in the center being flanked by the rather generously shaped bear and the very tall mouse; your mead having been discovered and after a small conversation on it was unceremoniously uncorked and each of you took turns taking a swig. Both Rose and Marin apparently were impressed with the bright and warm flavor of the spices, and eventually the bottle was again passed to you before Rose touched at your knee and looked into your eyes earnestly.

“I… I know this is probably odd for y-you,” Rose stammers, blushing as she starts into the conversation, “But don’t… don’t worry, it’s okay.” You take a swig from the bottle, enjoying the taste while also trying to distract yourself from what this was about.

“Mostly it's part of the population issues, t-there aren't typically enough men due to Mamono tending to have daughters more often.” Marin follows, touching at your other knee before pulling away and wrapping your ankle with her tail instead. You move to pass the bottle, which Rose gladly takes and smells it, humming slightly. Apparently she very much enjoyed the mulled spices.

“I just… I don’t want to cause any kind of problems between the two of you. I’m not necessarily sure how everything would work,” You answer, eyes boring into your hands.

“W-well we would just have differing days or even go about things as a trio,” Marin offers as Rose gently squeezes your knee after taking a swig of the mead and moving to pass it to Marin.

“And, b-both of us think you're rather handsome and fine with waiting for you…” Rose follows up.

“No, I mean… after courting.” You explain and you hear both of them gulp audibly, Marin’s tail tightening on your ankle and Rose beginning to tap her claws together nervously. You aren’t looking but you're certain they’re quietly communicating through a series of rather nervous looks with red faces. You hear Marin lift the bottle for a swig.

“Separate bedrooms.” Rose mutters, “A-and ideally alternating pregnancies to help ensure enough help for the children…”

Marin chokes, her tail coiling on your ankle and flexing in nervous pulses as Rose lets out an odd noise in surprise, apparently not intending to actually say that aloud. You can’t help but bury your face in your hands, face burning and trying desperately not to laugh. Part of you can’t help it, and you give in.

“And how many children would the two of you want to try for?” You ask unable to deny yourself the opportunity to tease, your smirk hidden by your hands which you keep pressed to your face as if you're exasperated.

“Well,” Marin starts, apparently having recovered enough to answer as she swirls the bottle, “You're the one who said you needed to have at least two.” After finishing this she took a swig and pressed it to you. You can’t help your face burning and as you take the bottle you can’t help but meet eyes with Marin, who is smirking at you; Rose however is entirely flustered.

“I guess… I’m mostly… it’s just drastically different is all.” You offer weakly, taking a long drink and enjoying the warm, sweet taste.

“B-but Mamono in general aren't?” Rose asks, claws clicking, and you can’t help but look and notice how confused she looks as she asks this. Your face burns at this, knowing there wasn’t any good way out without explaining your view of it and being moderately embarrassed.

“I… it's,” You sigh, passing the bottle back to Rose while trying not to make eye contact, “Both of you are very different, but in a very good way. And I like that. I’m just… I’ll likely be awkward, and I… just, slowly and bear with me I guess?” Marin gently squeezes your ankle and Rose quickly takes a swig of the mead, before passing it to Marin. And as before, you're quickly seized up in her paws as she turns you round and kisses you gently, the sensation being soft, warm, and tasting sweet, halfway missing your lips before pulling away and quickly getting up.

“I-I’ll get you a blanket Marin,” Rose states as she starts to head around the basement area, hunting one down as you absently touch at your face, “T-tomorrow we’ll have to move furniture around…,” Marin tugs at your ankle, getting your attention as she jars you from your daze. Just as quick as Rose, she seizes your shoulders in her hands but doesn’t miss her mark.

“Now go to bed Anon,” Marin’s tail swats you almost playfully on the rear, before she sits back down on the couch in the borrowed tent of a gown. As you start to move off, Rose reappears with a blanket for Marin and you wonder if any of this is actually real. “W-wait Anon,” Both you and Rose look to Marin, only for her to motion to Rose. “You should try again, I think you missed.”

You swallow hard, face turning beet red as the large bear woman approached you, her large gown not quite large enough to fully contain or hold back her ample form. Her paws found your sides and leaning down, in a slower and more measured pace, her hot lips met yours as she kissed you full on.

The rest after is a blur as you headed off to your impromptu room, somewhat dazed, and hearing the two of them carrying on a small conversation in hushed tones before also eventually turning in. As you shifted in on your makeshift bedding, sleep claimed you as you absently thought about the way your lips felt. After a time however, you stirred, confused and eyes bleary you rolled onto your side; only to feel hands grasping at your hips, your robes hiked up, as they felt at the shape of your boxers.

>”Not until marriage,” //disappointment

“Rose, no.” You mumble absently, slowly shifting and reaching down to swat at the hands touching at you, “Not until marriage,” only for them to pull away and then immediately grasp at the hem of your boxers. You sit up quickly, trying to ready a disappointed look on your face as you come face to face with somewhat large woman, her skin marred with dirt which seems to blend slightly with the ruddy look of her skin, dark purple eyes stare back you and you vaguely become aware of the entire side wall of the basement being opened up into a cavernous tunnel.

“Oi!” She half whispers, fur tufted hand suddenly groping you roughly, while the other simply grasps at the hem still, “This is moine, an affer a quick in-an-out, we’ll be on ahr way. Kay luv?” You're completely dumbfounded at this and the situation in general. How was the tunnel dug without anyone noticing? Has it always been there?

“We don’t even know each others names,” You state, confused and too sleep addled to even properly know what to say.

“Are yew one uv dem romantic toipes? Me nan always bragged on bout me granfadda, said he wuz one onna count uv him givvin ‘er luv taps when she weren’t lookin’,” Her eyes light up while saying this and all you can think is that maybe he was trying to escape. As you look her over more closely it becomes apparent that you won’t be able to reasonably get out of this unscathed unless you somehow mitigate her advantage, which was sheer size and the cable-tight muscles that rippled beneath her skin ever now and again as she moved. If you had to guess she was nearly six foot and generous change tall with every bit of proper proportionate muscle, but didn’t seem too bright; maybe you could trick her.

“Yes, I’m something of romantic I guess,” You start, realizing your best bet was to stall her for as long as possible, maybe till you could somehow signal Marin who was just on the other side of the door or perhaps something else; anything else. Sure she was rather striking looking, and definitely had an appeal, but you didn’t know her, let alone love her. “So…,” You held your hand out, motioning for her to speak. Mentally you trailed off a quick plea to God that this is not going to turn out the way she wants.

“Oh, roight. I’m Brunhilde an ahm gonna be yer woife,” She touches reflexively at her collar bones while saying this, and you can’t help as your eyes wander. Her clothes are rather sparse and leave little to the imagination, mentally noting that you’ve seen bikinis made of more material, most of it appears to be leathers and the rest is merely straps to either help hold it to her body or make her ample and muscular form adhere to it. Her hands snag back at your boxer hem, “Now,” She starts.

“N-now,” You follow, snagging her hands at the wrist and eyeing her, “What about my name?”

“Aint it husbahnd?” She asks quickly, purple eyes glimmering.

“No. My name is Anon. And Brunhilde is a pretty name for a pretty girl,” You state quickly, gently pulling her hands away from the hem of your boxers as her face blushes a dark red as she looks away. In the back of your head you realize to a degree, this is how you're going to get away.

“Yew really think suh?” She asks, refusing to look you in the eyes as an odd sound emanates from behind her, likely her tail you absently note. You take the opportunity to scan the area, checking over the various boxes and more for tool that help aid in your escape.

“Oh yes,” You squeeze her hands in yours tightly and work a happy grin across your face, “You're very pretty.” It wasn’t much of a lie, she definitely was in her own very tribal way.

“Wuts are yuh tryin’ tah butter me up fer?” She looks at you fiercely though her face is still a dark blush and mostly soft in appearance, apparently having figured you wanted something rather than were trying to escape, maybe she wasn’t quite as dull as you had initially figured. An outright denial might reinforce that you were up to something and you were effectively stuck playing along for the meantime.

“You caught me, I guess.” You tried to bashful at this, looking down and away, and she snorts at this as she tries to pull her hands away from yours. “I’m just worried since you’re so much larger than me, stronger too…” She stops trying to passively pull away, and beams with pride as she shifts to emphasize her stomach and flexes it hard, turning something smooth and soft looking into a sheet of hardened, cable tight washboard. You swallowed hard. “C-can I uh…. Be on top just this once?” Your voice cracks at this, the nervousness at trying to pull off whatever you can to get away getting to you.

Brunhilde simply stares at you for a moment, her face still holding its red color before shifting and pulling her hands away and for a moment your taken by a panic that your ploy hadn’t worked, only for her nudge you over and lay on the padding next you as you start to sit up more fully. Brunhilde apparently having decided that breaking you wasn’t something she wanted. As you began to move away from the bedding, she splayed out more and held her arms out for you. You couldn’t help as your face burned at the display, her clothing biting into her flesh in an overly suggestive way as she effectively offered herself to you; a long tail forcing you to look where you shouldn’t as a heady, sweaty smell started to fill the room.

“C’mere Anon,” She mumbled, eyeing you longingly.

“I uh… meant the other way,” You venture, if she wasn’t looking at you you’d be able to get away with a lot more and probably be able to steal whatever precious extra moments you needed to escape this. Either that or this was all for nothing and once she figured it out, you'd have to hope help could come fast enough to save you or you’d suddenly have a new wife.

“Otha way?” She asks curiously and for a moment you could swear you could see the hamster turning in the wheel in her head.

“R-roll over, on your stomach.” You swallow loudly, “Y-your thighs could crush me you see…” You offer and she considers it for a moment before grinning at you as her face flushes a deep red.

“F-foine! But you gots to pull me hair an tail,” She demands, rolling over and posting up into position, her rear lifting from the floor as she looks back at you haughtily, “A-and call me bad. Jus don’ be tellin n-no one back ‘ome affer.” She mutters in a different tone, one that evokes something in you and seems to indicate something about her, but you bury it quickly; you weren’t going to marry in this manner and you weren’t to just abandon Rose or Marin. Slowly she looks forward away from you, her hands coming back and snagging at the tight fitting covering and began to slide it down her rear; a heady musk begins to fill the room and you feel an odd sensation coming over you.

Quickly you begin to look around for anything you can, anything to at least give you a couple extra moments to be able to hit the door and fling it open before she can realize and stop you. Your eyes dance out and even the dark you can see…

>A frying pan (5)

“One second, let me get this off…,” you offer as you start to pull your robes off, stepping over towards the crates lining the walls and making as if the only think you were concerned with was folding up your clothes; you had no intention of stripping further if you could help it. As you set the robe down, you stole a look at her to ensure she wasn’t looking and snatched up the frying pan as quietly as you could. Immediately you make the mental determination that you’ll have to knock her out, or at least land a really good hit, before yelling as loud as you can and trying to run.

As you heft it, it becomes immediately apparent why it was in here; the entire center of the pan is bowed upwards. If you had to guess Rose had brought it down here to store until it was reasonable to take it to a blacksmith and had, thankfully, forgotten it. Mentally you thank God for minor things and while doing your best to avert your eyes as you approach, try your best to ensure the pan won’t be seen. Your nose being assaulted by a sweaty, musky smell and while not necessarily unpleasant at all it makes your skin feel odd and your head light.

It isn’t till you begin to truly get close that you realize a handful of significant problems, the first of which is whatever the smell coming off of her is. Pheromones maybe? Your head is begining to swim as you amble over, knees touching at the outer parts of her thighs which are hot and soft against you; part of you is begging to just give in to it, to just sheath into the glistening scabbard you can’t help but find yourself staring at. Your traitorous parts throb and your mind starts to drift a bit as you mechanically beging to lift the pan high. The second problem was the how much larger she was than you, you were going to have to really reach if you were going to land the blow and that was if you were in a different position that you’d rather not assume; though it wasn’t as if she could do much to ‘force’ you into her while on her stomach and its not like you had a choice. Slowly, you move and shift, pressing close against her hot, muscular form and doing everything you can to keep the pan aloft and hidden as your arm starts to complain.

“Oi!” Brunhilde’s head shifts slightly, her large ears twitching and her large crown of thick messy hair moving which causes your heart to jump into your chest in a panic, “Wuts the idea?” You swallow hard, realizing you aren’t in a good position to strike yet, and looking to the door you wonder how long it would take for you to lose this fight. You might only get most of a noise out, but not enough to wake anyone, before being pinned and silenced; afterwards, who knew how long you’d be able to hold out. “Wuts wiff thos clothes Anon?!” She whisper yells at you, the tone is teasing and you immediately start to relax, your scheme still undiscovered.

“I… uh, k-kind of nervous,” You swallowed loudly, muscles in your arm starting to scream under the persistent weight of the pan.

“Well ‘ere,” Her large fur tufted hands reached back and grasped at you before quickly hooking her thumbs into your boxers and pulling at them. “Lemme ‘elp me ‘usbahnd,”

“W-wait,” You hiss quickly, some sense pouring back into your head as it floated in the miasma of musk, you used your free hand to steady yourself against her and pulled back but her grip wasn’t deterred at all and cool air hit you. In an instant her hot hands grasp at you, the tufts of thick fur brushing at the most sensitive parts of you as she blindly explores.

“Ooooh~ now dis is noice,” She mutters squeezing, and you can’t help but shudder at the intense contact, your hand threatening to loose the pan, “N-now, ah knows yer mite bit nervous ‘usbahnd, but alls yew gots ta do is stir me up real noice lioke, thats all yer gots ta worry bout. Hokay?”

“Y-yeah,” You mumble in response, the sensation beginning to overwhelm you as she gives a few experimental pumps and for a moment you wonder what you're even doing. As she lets go of you and grasps at her own rear, shifting somewhat, you remember with a pang of guilt and a touch of shame, and finally regret that you know that you can’t and won’t do what she wants.

“N-now oithers foine A-anon, just make sur yew pull me tail hokay? B-but later we ‘az to use dey loweh one aight?” She stammers out as she presents herself, and it takes everything you can muster not to look as you shift forward suddenly. Brunhilde makes a surprised yelp as the turgid, throbbing part of you slaps against her lower back and is pressed flat under your weight, your hand going to her shoulder and grasping tightly as you steady yourself and begin to pull back the frying pan. “O-oi! Calm down would yew, not in that much offa rush ‘usbahnd. Sides, yew missed.”

And in one solid, perfectly arching swing you bring it down onto the back of her head. The sound it made was decidedly bewitching and perfectly bell like, ringing out loudly and proudly at its perfect connection with the large Orc woman’s head, as soon as it stopped however panic overtook you which was multiplied as you felt every muscle in her large and powerful body contract. You can feel the blood draining from your face as you hear her spine cracking all the way up, knuckles and more all popping as she flexes tightly.

It’s only when she goes completely limp beneath you that you let out a breath you had no idea you were holding, and drop the pan which clangs loudly on the ground, as you begin to shake and try to make sense of all that had just happened. Part of you in a panic over the would be forced marriage, another berating you for resisting the impromptu raping, and you yourself simply thanking God repeatedly while asking for forgiveness.

Quickly you stood, and stumbling about as your body refused to work properly, threw open the door and as you gulping in fresh and clean air, your head began to clear. Falling to the floor onto your knees and trying to scramble back into standing as you began to inhale deeply and yell.

Things had been awkward in the follow days. You has suspected it had more to do with how you had bargained for Brunhilde’s work release and general compassion towards your would be rapist moreso than the fact that both Rose and Marin had effectively seen you naked, solider red and angrily saluting while yelling incoherently for both of them to come quickly, that you need them. Or maybe not, both of them had started to look at you strangely and often seemed to have their eyes wander over you, your hips in particular.

You interacts with either tended to be somewhat mechanical or with them demanding to comfort you in various ways, which you had finally resolved that you’d have to talk to the two of them about it; you weren’t traumatized, you didn’t need to be coddled. Though, the new bedroom Rose had furnished for you, and placed her bed and what was now Marin’s in the main room of the basement, and replaced the door with a heavy rug had made you feel safer.

Much like you, the Orc had been manacled, the exact nature of hers you were certain was different than yours but she wasn’t going to be leaving the city until every bit coin for the damages had been paid back to Rose; today was another day of watching her shovel dirt into the now sealed off and collapsed room she had compromised with her tunnel. Somehow you had been tasked with this, and while at first it you had been a bit irate at it, it was a paying gig; so for the forseable future you had a proper job at least for a year or two.

“Oi, Anon,” Brunhilde mutters, shoving the shovel she was using into the ground and looking over at you inquisitively. “A-an I knows yew loikely won wanna say but…. I… I ‘ave to know. Would yew ‘ave ‘ated me… iffin, yew know?” Her thick, messy hair billows lightly in the breeze, as she looks at you sadly.

>No, but I would be angry (strained relationship)

“No. I don’t think I could, everything considered. I would be rather angry about it though,” You answer, eyes meeting her purple ones, “Our mores are different, so it’d only cause problems in what resulted after; that's not something either of us would want I imagine.”

“Ah’d be a gud woife,” She whines, looking away and beginning to shovel dirt from a wheelbarrow into the pit. “Ah’d ‘ave taken care uv yew.”

“That’s not what I mean Brun,” She shudders at the shortening, whether she liked it or not you couldn’t say but she hadn’t asked you to stop yet, so it had stuck. “It would have made me resentful of you.”

“Whuz yew mean?”

“I… it would have made me a bad husband,” you venture, for a moment forgetting Brunhilde’s limited vocabulary and illiteracy. She was a professional hunter and survivalist, skills that were more in demand and suited for this world, or at least more suited than you were. You were effectively the equivalent of a monk without a monastery; well read, numerate, and not particularly suited to back breaking labor. If she had snagged you, besides the initial resentment, it likely would have continued on with you being unable to meet any of either of your needs, but in specific your emotional and spiritual ones. A man had to feel like he could provide, to have a pride in his own labors, and that he was respected in a way by his wife; all three were things you wouldn’t have had if she had been successful. She might have been able to deal with that, but you certainly wouldn’t.

“Yew really think suh?” She asks, scooping up more dirt and shoveling it into the gaping maw of the ground.

“Yes.” You answer back flatly, worry creeping into you. What if something inadvertent like that happened again? What kind of person would it make you into, someone angry or with a broken faith? You sighed while the Orc worked, slowly but steadily filling in the hole. The two of you sat in relative silence as she worked, the light bustle of city noise filling the air as birds called out, and you could hear an occasional war drum being beaten outside the city by the small contingent of orcs who remained.

The band of them having been told that, due to Brunhilde’s property damage, none of them were going to be allowed into the city till it was fixed. All of them had decided they’d camp out and wait for any men who might happen to try and leave, or men who happened to be coming to the city instead; to certain degree you were happy for the damage, because now you could safely walk about the city without care.

After a time, Brunhilde stops and stares at you for a while, face scrunching up as she apparently was thinking of something. You shrugged, looking up from your bible on your lap and met her gaze.

“Yes Brun?” She shivers at this and smiles at you.

“Could yew reads me a storeh Anon?” You sigh, before turning several pages as you scan for Jonah. You were almost certain she wasn’t actually listening to any of the requested stories, but instead the sound of your voice, but you didn’t have the guts to check in a direct manner. Maybe you’d have to stop sometime and ask her something at random from one of the stories, or perhaps derail it into something absurd and see if she noticed..

“Alright,” You answer back, “Let’s go over Jonah.”

“‘O’s dat?” She asks, hands going back to work with the shovel as she starts back into it.

“He was a minor proph-”

“Oi! Mining’s ‘ard work.”

“No, not like that. I mean he was a lesser prophet.”

“Suh ‘e only sawz de futurah a little?” She asked and you did your best not to laugh or even grin. Maybe she was paying attention, though you may need to explain things far more in depth.

“N-no, Brun.” You answered, and revisiting you last thought, “It means he talked to God and did what God had told him, but not as much as other more major prophets.” Brunhilde hums at this, still slowly, shovel by shovel filling the hole. And with that out of the way, you began reading the small book aloud for her. You receive no questions or interruptions, Brunhilde seemingly listening attentively, as you finish she stakes the shovel into the ground and excitedly approaches you.

“Anon! We gotz ta g-” And suddenly stops as she looks at you, her eyes snapping to your manacled arm, and her excitement seems to cool a bit, “Ah’ll getz a guard alroight?”

“What for exactly?” You ask, part of you kicking yourself and wondering what she picked out of the story and what she took it to mean.

“Wer loike Jonaa,” She motions to herself, “Orcs ah mean. Wer doin’ stuffs tha s’ould be gud, but arnt cuzza why wer doin’ it an itz only causin’ problems for uz.” Your eyes pop open at this, your worry and question apparently answered; and part of the moral of it also absorbed. “Ah needa ta go tell the other girls, troiyin ta get ‘usbahnds loike we do isn’t werkin.”

“Okay, but make sure you do get a guard or they’ll stop you.” You nod to her and immediately she’s off and you ponder the consequences of this. A lone Briton converted an entire country by himself, what would Brunhilde be able to accomplish? You sighed, closing the bible and grabbing up the canvas cloth you had borrowed from Rose, and gently began to wrap it, before placing it into a makeshift backpack; and just like Brunhilde presumably did, you head off for the main staging area for the guard post. As you come round the post you notice Captain Morinth, wave to her and approach her.

“Captain,” You start, “Brunhilde is off to find a guard so she can try and talk to the other orcs outside,” You motion outside towards the nearby city wall. She simply nods at you, an armored paw pointing at you.

“Just make sure she actually returns to the holding area by the end of the day.” Her voice is measured and smooth, something had changed lately and she had stopped barking out demands or statements; was it because you stopped an Orc by yourself?

“Yes ma’am,” You reply and she looks away from you, her face somewhat unreadable. “Anything else for me?” She simply shakes her head and goes back to scanning the area, and with nothing else you head off to go see either Marin or Rose for lunch, or if you could swing it, both. As you thought on it though, you do have a lot more time opened up than you had in the past few days and a good three or so hours till lunch.

>Lady Gelen

You settle on trying to go meet with Lady Gelen, figuring you could at least peek at a book or two to help you learn about the history or culture of Mamono, or even better yet, things you had no idea of at all. Learning more could be rather helpful and at least you’d be able to chat with Gelen about Rullia and why she had suddenly taken off that other night, or even ask her yourself if she happened to be around. Part of you was worried about it though.

You walked through the city at a good clip, most of the geography secondhand and it took only moments to arrive at the outside of the ‘castle’. The fact that most of it had been rendered invisible still confused and excited you, as well as worried at all that was involved with ‘magic’ as they had been calling it. Was it truly magic or merely the result of a differing set of physics or natural laws playing out? You shook your head to yourself absently as you headed up to the door.

After entering you let a seated Kikimora receptionist know you were there and checked to see if Lady Gelen might be free to see you, she was effectively running the place and as far as you knew, incredibly busy. In moments another maid appeared and headed off to see for you and you took a seat to wait. After the first five minutes you decide you’d rather do something productive and pull your bible from your bag and begin to read over a few psalms.

Eventually the maid kikimora returns, says something to the receptionist kikimora, who then lets you know it might be a good ten minutes or so; you simply nod, thank her and go back to reading. It isn’t until you lean back that you feel the chair wobble that your brow furrows. It hadn’t done that when you sat down originally.

Tentatively you leaned forward and the chair didn’t shift at all, you frowned and stood to turn and look at it, perhaps the floor was uneven?

“Restroom?” The receptionist asked suddenly, eyeing you.

“Oh! Uh, no I just…,” You trailed off, wondering how to explain it, “Just wanted to stand up real quick.”

“Well if you need anything, please let me know sir.” You simply nod in response and casually place a hand on the backrest and put your weight on it. It doesn't shift at all. You frown and sit back down, as you lean back, the chair wobbles again. You bite you lip angrily and shift forward, to which it wobbles again.

Looking up, you notice that the receptionist isn’t looking at you and you quickly lift yourself up and set back down, shifting the chair’s position on the floor. No wobble. You sigh in relief, leaning back only for the chair to wobble. You’re about to get up and move to a different chair when pain jumps at you through your rear and you yelp and jump up.

“Is something wrong?” The kikimora demands, and you look between her and the chair, your eyes boring into it as you find yourself unable to find anything that could be the cause of the sensation.

“I don’t know, it felt like the chair… pinched me?” You weren’t sure, and you had no idea why you were asking her; as if pinching chairs may just be a normal thing for Mamono. Her forehead furrows for a moment, before scowling.

“I can’t believe this! Get out of here!” She suddenly yells and you can’t help but flinch, confusion blooming as you hold onto your bible tightly and grab up your bag and start to head for the door, “Oh, uh… n-no sir, not you. Her.” She points an accusatory finger at the chair.

“It's just a chair,” You mutter to yourself only to see it shift and begin to fold onto itself until it begins to move as if it’s suddenly standing up into the shame of a woman. A pair of brilliant preternatural yellow eyes seem to glow as they meet yours, the woman’s body a cloudy purple and green blooming through her oddly wet and amorphous form. Her clothes, like Rullia, seemingly an extension of her own body. A small coy smile plays out on her face before she turns to the kikimora and the two of them begin arguing with each other firstly about being furniture, then you, and then finally about which of them were better. As soon as the maid returned you were more than happy to take off to go see Gelen, the raised voices in the reception fading away as you hurried off and worked on setting your bible back into its wrap and then into your bag.

Dutifully she brought you up to an office area and after announcing you, bowed quickly and headed off. As you come in Lady Gelen looks up at you from a salad and smiles warmly at you and waves you in, which has you relaxing as you head in and take a seat opposite of her on the desk but only after eyeing the chair first.

“Anon,” She says happily, setting down a fork and tenting her hands as she looks you over, “I was actually going to send for you later… you're not here like last time right?”

“Oh, no. I was wanting to find out if you might want to talk at all and if I could take a look at your library or maybe borrow a book, if it isn’t too much to ask.” The blue skinned woman simply swallows hard as her eyes seem to bug out of her head for a moment.

“My l-library?” She asks, her face turning purple as her red eyes dart about out.

“Like a historical text or anything to help me learn about Mamono culture,” you venture and she immediately relaxs, you suddenly remembering that she apparently kept a store of what was either trashy romance novels if not straight up erotica.

“R-right, yes.” She nods, “y-yes, I can definitely help with that.” And with that the conversation lulls out with her look suddenly looking sheepish, hands tented on the desk as she nervously stares at you.

“You can eat while we talk, I won’t mind. I promise.” You lean somewhat on the desk, smiling to try and reassure her, “You said you were going to send for me? I guess I also wanted to check in about the other day, any idea why Rullia just kind of took off? I didn’t offend anyone did I?”

“Oh no, not at all.” She uses her fork to stab at a hunk of lettuce and then dunked it in some kind of sauce she had nearby. “That’s actually what I was wanting to see you about,” She takes a bite of it, which loudly crunches before she chews it quickly. “She’s actually sent for seekers and secured a plot of land before heading home and she had an attendant assigned to you.”

“What? What are seekers?” You asked, a little puzzled as to what you were hearing. What exactly was this all about? “An attendant?”

“Oh right. I forget that you aren’t from here.” She answers plainly, taking another bite of her food and then finishing it off with a sip of wine. “Rullia has decided that she’s found what she was looking for, what her people apparently were looking for. So she decided to just go ahead and help you get a… uh… its not called a temple,” She trails off mid explanation, forgetting the word. Seekers are what we call people who tend to dedicate their lives to finding a higher ideal to follow.

“A church. That’s uh… a bit of a surprise and rather generous of her.” Your mouth feels dry as you try to take this in. It was overall a good thing, but you weren’t anything near to a public speaker, let alone a pastor of anything. “And the uh… attendant?”

“Alma,” She states matter of factly, “She got here this morning actually, she’s a shoggoth.” You mind jumped at the term, something you recognized but had no point of reference for in this new world. What would a giant shape shifting amorphous blob creature look like in this world? You touch at your forehead and sigh as you remember the chair-woman.

“I think I met her already actually, they’re shapeshifters aren’t they? So what all is involved with an attendant anyways?” Gelen simply nods, digging into her salad. “Any idea when Rullia will be back? I’ll probably have to talk to her about several things,” Such as being absolutely terrified of screwing up.

“Basically she’ll just be helping you with anything you happen to need, in particular with running the t-er… church. She might be back in a month or so…,” Gelen states as she stabs more greens on her fork, only to pause and hum in thought, “Oh, and a good book for you to read would probably be ‘The tale of the hero’, actually hold on,”

Lady Gelen set down her fork and reaching over, opened a drawer in the desk and touched at something which glowed softly before closing the drawer again and looking up, at the doorway, expectantly.

“What uh… what are you doing?” You ask, somewhat sure she’s expecting something to happen but not entirely sure what.

“Oh. It’s a summoning orb, I’ve called Meredith, she’ll bring you the book downstairs in the reception area.” She answers, “Anon, would you mind going ahead and heading out, I uh… I have a lot going on. I’m sorry.” She pauses, her expression glum, seeming to think this over before looking directly at you, “I… if you want to talk though, properly I mean, I s-should be free in a day or two.” Apparently she had remembered your original offer to talk.

“Yeah, that would be good. We could talk about the book or any questions I have about anything,” Gelen simply nods, lighting up a bit and smiles at you.

“Have a nice day, okay?” You start to stand, snagging your bag and heading for the door, Gelen simply nods as you go. It only takes a few moments, but you navigate your way back to the reception area, voices growing in intensity as you approach. The two Kikimora and who you were certain was Alma, still arguing loudly as you entered the room.

“And that’s why we are supi-”

“Alma.” You state flatly, and the green and purple colored woman stops and eyes you, “I’m Anon. Could you stop making a commotion?” Her yellow eyes flash brilliantly at hearing your name and she simply nods before assuming that same smale, coy smile she had made earlier after pinching you.

“Thank you,” Grumbles the receptionist as she starts to relax.

It takes only a minute or two, but Meredith appears with a book in hand and upon seeing you, happily hands it off with a slight bow before heading off; out of the corner of your eye you could almost swear Alma was scowling, but as you turned, it was gone. As the two of you leave the castle, you can’t help but want to know more about your newly arrived ‘attendant’ and more specifics, such as where she’d be staying or what you were expected to do. Were you considered her employer, or was it Rullia?

“Alma,” You start, the two of you headed off towards Rose’s house as you mentally begin to piece together a plan to try and have lunch with both Rose and Marin, and hopefully find Rose and let her know to go to the Inn. “What exactly are you tasked with doing?”

“Just to taking care of any and all needs you might have,” She answers quickly, the same smile played out on her face.

“Is there anything I’ll nee-”

“Oh no. Everything is taken care of, you only have to tell me your needs Mastah.” Something about how she stressed certain words left an odd sensation at the back of your neck, almost as if they sounded wanting. The constant, and consistent Mamono trait seeming to appear; at least, however, you didn’t need to do much about anything though. It was Rullia’s problem.

“Okay,” You answer simply, mechanically following the walkways towards Rose’s house, “You don’t have to call me master.” Alma simply makes a face at this, her eyes narrowing and the smile disappearing.

“Did I do something wrong?” Her tone is somewhat downcast, her hands grasping at each other.

“No...? Is this a Shoggoth thing?” You ask and she simply nods at this, the smile starting to come back. Part of you was starting to think the Mamono were going to be the death of you. You doubted Rose or Marin would be thrilled about this.“Fine then, it’s just kind of awkward is all… just… could you keep it to a minimum?”

“I can do that. As long as it's what you want.” Her tone warming up, sounding more cheerful.

“Okay then,” You respond and as you come round a corner only to see Rose standing in front of her house. A kind of exasperation grips you, how are you supposed to explain any of this? What would you do about the rest of it? The soon to be constructed church, seekers, and your unsureness about being able to properly teach, let alone lead as a pastor? You sigh, thinking about it and hoping that everything would turn out okay.

>I need to lay down for a bit

Rose looks up as you begin to approach, her expression shifting from happily surprised to one of concern as she reads whatever your expression is. As you walk up, you lean into her side and just groan.

“Anon, what’s wrong?” She shifts and pulls you into an embrace, one of her arms wrapping around you. You inhaled deeply as your face became pressed against her arm and body, the smell of yeast and honey met your nose and for a moment you don’t even care about how stressed or worried you feel as you begin to relax against her.

“I need to lay down for a bit,” You mumble into her side, “I feel like I just need to give up because I’ve completely lost control of my life.”

“Oh! I could run you a nice hot bath mas… erh. Uh.” You hear the Shoggoth trail off, almost certain Rose was giving her some kind of look.

“Who is that Anon?” Her tone is sharper than usual, but still warm and welcoming, apparently put off by the sudden and new intrusion so soon after the loss of part of her house and near theft of you. You groan as you peel yourself from her side and look up at Rose.

“Rullia has assigned her to help out, they’re going to be building a church.” You answer and Rose smiles down at you for a moment before her expression becomes neutral and then settles on worried.

“Thats… a good thing isn’t it?” Concern seems to bubble up into her voice.

“Yes,” You answer simply, wanting to add more but unable to help recalling reading Jonah to Brunhilde. Were you supposed to be doing all of this or if you tried not to, would a ‘fish’ of some kind find you in it’s gut until you did what was desired? Maybe your choice of Jonah was more for you than the Orc. “I’m just… I just need to calm down and pray I guess.” You sighed, pressing back against her, your face buried into the thick and soft fur of her arm. “I’m gonna go lay down for a bit, would you want to get lunch in an hour or so, I was planning to try and have lunch with you and Marin... if you’re free I mean?” Rose simply hums and strokes your hair, pulling you close and holding onto you tightly.

“Go ahead and go inside,” Rose starts as she shifts and leaning down, gives you a peck on the forehead and sniffs at your hair, her own body seeming to relax a bit against you and grow softer. “I’ll take care of everything and we’ll talk about it when you’re ready.” You simple nod absently, not really wanting to pull away from her.

“What about me?” Alma says, annoyance creeping into her tone and you feel Rose bristle and what you assume is her looking over to the goo woman. There’s a pregnant pause, the only sound of the general life of the city.

“I think I have an idea,” You hear Rose murmur as she begins to release you and gently push you toward the front door. “Now go lay down Anon.” As soon as your hand hits the door latch, you hear the two women beginning to chat. As you begin to shut the door behind you, you vaguely hear the conversation starting to sound blunt and containing the words mine and first.

As you head in, you kick off your shoes and begin pulling off your robes, both of which you unceremoniously toss and set your bag and borrowed book next to, as you head for the nearby couch. Dropping down onto it you curl up, laying on your side, and simply lay there breathing out slowly.

“Is this really what you want?” You ask aloud, before shutting your eyes and starting to pray. You started, as always, thanking God for everything that had been happening and had happened, as you finished you moved on to asking for guidance and to take your worries from you; finally you left on asking for help in protecting yourself from any other marauding mamono until when and if you got married. You felt yourself relax as you finished and slowly begin to pass into sleep.

----

Hands touched at your face gently before moving to your chest and rocking you. As you opened your eyes you found Marin staring down at you with a grin, her hand pulling itself from your chest as her fingers ran through your hair and gently scratching at your scalp.

“Hello there,” Her voice was happy.

“Hey,” You mutter back, not really fully awake yet as you looked back up at her, your job responsibilities suddenly flooding back into your head. You needed to make sure Brunhilde checked in before being put up for the night, “How late is it? I need to go check in with gu-”

“It’s only been about an hour, still plenty of daylight left.” She goes back to running her fingers through your hair, “Rose should be finishing up and then we’ll have lunch, okay?”

“Finishing up what?” You ask as you start to sit up and Marin pulls her hands away from you, shifting to more properly sit on the couch at your side.

“She said you seemed kind of put out from some news you got, so she’s getting lunch together from the inn and a few other things,” Marin fidgets a bit, looking at you expectantly, “Are you okay?”

“Im fine,” You start, “I just… I kind of worked myself up over finding out that there’s going to be a church built. I guess I was, well… still am, worried about screwing things up.” Marin looks surprised at this but smiles warmly, folding her hands on her lap.

“Well, if you mess up you just have to deal with it and move on right?” She leans close, tapping her forehead against yours, “Besides, it won’t be the end of the world, me and Rose will be here for you.” You can’t help but feel a bit more reassured at hearing that and your face begins to burn as she suddenly presses in and kisses you gently before slowly pulling away. She stares for a moment before hopping up quickly, her face reddening, as she heads for the front door. “A-anyways, we should head off to the inn.”

“The inn?” You ask getting up and following over and trying to steady yourself against the wall as you work on shoving on your boots. “Won’t you have to work?”

“N-no. We uh… well we took the rest of the day off, and we’re eating at the inn because then we won’t have to clean anything up.” She states, rocking back and forth on her heels as she eyes you.

“To celebrate Im guessing?” You succeed in shoving one of your socked feet into a boot and then begin to focus on the other. Marin simply nods as she waits on you, and in just a few moments, youre ready. As you stand up fully Marin drapes her arms on your shoulders, pulling you close as her eyes peer into yours.

“S-so, since you’re going to be leading a congregation…,” Marin trails off, face turning red as her fingers begin to weave themselves through your hair. Realization jumps into your head and you can’t help but blush as well.

“I uh… it wouldn’t be preferred for me to be unmarried, but it doesn't mean I can’t.” Marin immediately looked away, beginning to look crestfallen. Quickly you seize her up in your arms, “Look, that’s not a no, okay? We just… I do need more time, and besides that we should probably try to have a date sometime.” She seems to brighten at this and pressing close you found yourself kissing her gently, her lips warm against yours as she started to go limp in your arms. As you pulled away from her, her eyes fluttered as she tried to straighten up and stand fully, and another thought occurred to you; if Marin had made this assumption, had Rose as well? Was the ‘celebration’ for the building or the assumption of a wedding?

“Marin,” You bite your bottom lip, brow furrowing.

“Mhmm?” Is her only response, her face still flushed as she fidgeted a little and smiled at you, her hands grasping at her tail nervously.

“Did Rose...uh...did she make the same assumption as you?” You ask nervously, throat tightening, the prior worries about having to lead or teach fading away and being replaced with a general remembrance of how easily Rose picked you up and manhandled you with ease, and how on a certain level you were ready to just give in to it. Realization dawns on Marin’s face, only to slowly be replaced with her brow also furrowing up as she seems to think things over.

“I don’t… think so?” You sighed at this, and just wiped at you face with your hands in exasperation and your mind began to whirl at what to do if she had.

The half running, half walk the two of you made towards the inn had been rather taxing on your legs, part of you mentally noted that you needed to work out as your legs complain to you. As soon as the two of you hit the front door, you stepped aside and leaning on the back on the side of the building, simply nodded to Marin before she headed in to grab Rose for you and depending on things, help damage control. You only have to wait for a moment or so until Rose comes out to see you, smiling at you, followed by Marin.

“There you are,” And in an instant youre wrapped up in in her soft, furred arms as she squeezes you tightly against her body, your face ending up being pressed into her cleavage. “Marin said you wanted to talk to me before coming in?” Rose releases you, though her large paws linger on your shoulders.

“Yes.” You answer simply, trying to think over the best way to ask but failing to come up with anything, you decide to just jump into it. “I uh…. You didn’t tell everyone we were getting married or anything like tomorrow, did you?” Rose’s expression changes, her forehead wrinkling.

“Was I supposed to?” She asked, her tone taking on an excited albiet confused tone.

“Uh… don’t worry about it, it’s my fault.” Marin interjects, touching at Rose’s arm and the two of them look at each other for a moment. Marin looking minorly embarrassed. “We can talk about it later.”

“Well… we should go ahead and have lunch,” Rose follows up, turning back to you and grabbing up your hand in her paw as she starts to lead you to the door; only for Marin to clear her throat loudly and nod to you, which Rose looks surprised for a moment only to grin as she pulls you close and kisses you deeply. Her soft lips smash against yours and the scent of honey fills your nose as you feel her body heat coming off of her, your face flushes and just as quickly as it started, she smiles at you as she pulls away and opens the door of the inn for you.

The three of you enjoy lunch together, a very large meal of roasted chicken and vegetables and finished off with an ale, which was reduced to mere scraps. Your server being Alma, apparently covering for Marin’s work shift for the rest of the day, had brought over a cobbler and settling next to your chair looked at you expectantly as she noticed your glass was empty.

“Would you like anything to drink?”

>Ale, or something that’s like milk but isnt

“Maybe ale or is there something like milk that isn’t?” You ask, Rose choking on her drink before smirking at you and leaning onto the table suggestively, her rather large bust laying on the table as she eyes you knowingly. You try your best to only stare into her eyes, her smirk only growing as both of you start to blush, the innocuous conversation about milk apparently not forgotten on her part. Alma seems oblivious to this and starts to grab up your cup and something occurs to, “Wait.” you call out, and the shoggoth stops and looks at you curiously.

“What are you going to get?” You ask, suspicions seeping in. Breast milk from the chef wasn’t considered odd, what else would Mamono be fine with use as a beverage?

“Just some squeezing’s mast-uh…A-anon,” Alma stares off past behind you, there isn’t fear on her gooey face but something else entirely and you're almost certain what she’s looking at. Part of you is glad to not have to worry about more suitresses, but you resolved mentally to talk to Rose about it sometime, having her going about and threatening people wouldn’t do if that happened to be the case.

“Squeezings from what?” You can’t help the curious sound in your voice, the back of your mind working out that somehow it was something from her. “Y’know what, no thanks. How about just ale?” Alma just adopts a determined look, nods, and heads off. You feel Marin coil her tail on your ankle tightly, squeezing as she gives you a look.

“What’s this about?” Marin asks as she looks between you and Rose, Rose simply taking on a more smug look.

“Anon didn’t know where milk came from till recently,” Rose offers, her eyes shining as she leans on her chest while eyeing you knowingly.

“I know where milk comes from,” You half whisper, face burning, “We just don’t drink that kind of milk.” Marin just continues to look between the two of you, obviously confused, and you can’t help but feel a bit embarrassed by it all as well as worried at the looming prospect of Marin teasing you about it. Rose simply presses on her breasts and gives Marin a knowing look and as Marin starts to catch on and adopts a smug expression as well.

“So what kind of milk do they drink then?” Marin asks as she shifts around before settling on wrapping her arms around herself, pressing up from beneath her chest to help emphasise them.

“Cow,” You groan in response, trying not to let your eyes wander.

“That’s a little weird,” Is the only response you get back, some of the smirk disappearing as its supplanted with a look of surprise.

“Apparently the usual kind of milk is only infants and husbands,” Rose whispers to her across the table, Marin’s eyes pop at this and you can’t help but bury your face in your hands. It would be funny if it wasn’t embarrassing and an odd breakdown of your mores. You can feel Marin’s eyes on you as her spot at the table begins to radiate smugness, and you're certain that if you’d look that she’d be propping her chest up at you.

Thankfully the shoggoth returns, gently setting down the bottle of ale down in front of you. As you move to look, pretending to simply have been wiping your face, you notice that Marin is in fact exactly what you figured and you can’t help but ogle for a moment before putting your eyes to your drink. The rest of the inn’s eatery bustling somewhat.

“Thank you,” You mumble as you grab up the bottle, the shoggoth simply nodding and heading off the kitchen, “A bit cruel to be doing, honey.” You eye Rose who simply blushes darkly and starts tapping her claws together.

“Just trying to convince you is all,” Marin states, her tail gently squeezing on your leg while you use a fork to scoop out a shovelful of cobbler. The fruit is a melange of colors ranging from deep blood red to a soft purple and the smell is completely alien to you, you eye it for a moment as you consider it, but take the bite anyways; Rose had arranged for it, it should be fine. “Besides, maybe we could have the first wedding at your church.”

You choke on your bite and cough a bit as the flavor blossoms across your tongue and you swallow roughly, your eyes tracing over Marin’s face as she reaches out and pats your back. A warmth immediately fills your stomach and your skin starts to feel electric where her hand slaps on your back, and you squirm as it runs up your spine. The sensation is wholly indescribable besides it being very very pleasing. Marin’s hand pulls from you, her tail rapidly dropping from your leg, as if your body was a hot pan and she gives Rose a look.

“Lover’s fruit?” she asks as you start to recover from it. If you had to guess, it was probably akin to being a dog and having a particularly good scratch behind the ears, something overwhelmingly pleasant that you immediately yearned for. “Is that what you gave me earlier?”

“He said he’d like to try some e-eventually,” Rose manages against Marin’s near judgemental tone, her voice a little worried as she reaches out and gently touches at your knee. The effect is immediate and the soft, pleasant, thrumming electric feel of her touching you fills you with warmth and a desire to just press up against and enjoy the comfortable sensation. “Y-you aren’t upset about it, are you A-anon?”

“Oh no,” You mutter, leaning into Rose and feeling like you might melt. A wave of contentedness washes over you and for a moment you’re worried about falling asleep in the inn's dining area, but after a moment or two you don’t care. “This is very nice,” You mumble as something warm and lovely coils around your leg, Marin’s hand grasping at your other knee. “Could you scratch my head?” You ask to no one in particular, but the clawed paw leaves your knee and then begins scratching gently at your scalp and for a moment you're almost certain you're going to liquify or fall asleep; absently, without even thinking about it, you reach up and wipe some drool from you face as you sigh deeply.

“Maybe we should head out, it seems to be affecting him quite a bit.” you hear Marin suggest and sleepily start to sit up as you feel Rose, you assume nodding.

“Is that a bad thing, like an allergy?” You ask absently, leaning on the table as you shift, the pleasing sensation vanishing as a soft tapping comes from off to your side, Rose apparently worried at the prospect of things.

“N-no. It just means y-you’re likely sensitive,” You feel a paw gently scritch at your back and you sigh while pressing back against the touch, “which actually…. c-could you help him back home? I’m going to take care of some stuff, I-I’ll catch up in just a moment.” She trails off before pulling her paw away, Marin grabs up your arm and pulls you against her side and the sensation returns as you feel your muscles relax.

Rose stands and heads off towards the bar as Marin stands with you, holding you tight, but surprisingly your legs feel solid and strong beneath you as the two of you head for the door. You can’t help but lean into her, as the two of you head off. Most of the walk is a blur as you can’t help but close your eyes and enjoy the sensation of Marin touching you arm or her shoulder against yours, it isn’t until you feel familiar and warm furry paws grab at your free arm and help you along; you merely trudge along in a haze, enjoying the sensation as an electric current thrums through you.

It isn’t until you flop out onto a bed, your bed, and the warm, pleasant feeling disappears that you realize where you are as the two Mamono move about your makeshift bedroom and you realize that something is off. This was far more than being drunk, if anything it was like coming down from laughing gas though significantly better feeling overall.

“Am I going to be okay?” You ask absently, your mind and senses slowly washing in a haze and slow realizing a growing need to have at least one of them touch you. Your hands reach out, trying to touch at either of them as you shut your eyes and focus on your breathing.

“Yes, you’ll be okay.” You hear Marin say as a hand touches at your forehead and you can’t help but press against it; your hands grasping at her arm as you try to gently pull her close.

“W-watch over him real quickly, I need to check something,” You hear Rose murmur as her footsteps leave your room. The soft, pleasant thrumming returns as you touch at Marin’s arm.

“Just means you probably can’t have any more lover’s fruit for now on unless...well…,” Marin trails off only to let out a loud squeak as you grasp at her hips and pull her next to you, holding her close and tight as the sensation takes over and your whole body washes over in warmth. You hum happily and gently rub at Marin’s back as she’s splayed awkwardly, mostly on top of you. “A-anon, w-wait I thou-”

“No. Just hold me,” You murmur, “Everything just feels nice,” You open your eyes as Marin shifts against you, her face bright and red as she presses against you in a more natural embrace. An arm slides under your neck as a hand grasps at your back and you begin to feel yourself melt as you focus on your breathing as your eyes shut and all you can think of is the sensation of her touch.

You aren’t sure of how long it was, but after a time you hear heavy footsteps plod through into your room and a throat clearing as Marin shifted against you.

“Sorry, he got kind of grabby and I uh… we’ll it is rather nice.”

“No that’s fine, I just need to have a word with Anon if you don’t mind.” Rose’s tone is different from anything you’ve heard her use before and with your mind in a haze you can’t place it; it was nothing like the teasing or sultry tone she had taken that one time. What could Rose want? “Don’t worry,” You hear her plod over to the side of the bed, and as Marin sits up and pulls away you hear Rose whispering something to her as the pleasant electric feeling disappears, “I’ll only be a bit, and after… well, I already told you.” You can’t help but open your eyes, you know you should feel something but all you can care about is having the comforting, pleasant sensation return. She walked slowly to the other side of the bed, slowly lowering down on it, while Marin sat on the other side looking down at you.

A large paw can down and pressed on your chest, pinning you, as Rose shifted on the small bed awkwardly with her large form as her rather gravid chest came down and laid on you, one of her thick legs wrapping on yours. Her face loomed close to yours as the scent of honey filled your nose and the soft, warm, thrumming sensation returned. You couldn’t help but let out a pleased sound while you felt your face burn.

“R-rose,” You start only for her to hush you, her expression being a rather annoyed one.

“Marin,” Rose starts as she looks over to the mouse-woman, who then starts to lay back down on the other side of you, “Grab him. Tight.” A tail coils around your arm as Marin grabs you up, one of her legs hooking on and around your free one; you couldn’t help but swallow nervously, realizing your situation but the panic drowned out by the electric feel of their touch. A soft scent of various cooked things comes off of Marin and you can’t help as your mouth starts to water.

“Now Anon,” Rose drags her paw across your chest and you can’t help but squirm at the touch, “I know you’ve lied to us.” You tremble, as to whether it was her touch or tone you can’t tell. “Are you going to come clean or will we have to make you?” She presses close, her chest starting to envelope you as her lips come close to your ear. Your entire body felt suffocated in the sensation, so much so that you don’t even notice as Marin grasps at your chin, thumb running across your lips.

“Wha-?” You mumble, only to feel Marin gently bite your earlobe and an electric current jumps through you at the semi-painful sensation making you want more of it.

“No more lying or else,” Marin states as she releases your ear, one of her hands touches at your stomach, her long nails pushing aside the cloth and scraping at your skin. “If you lie we’re going to take turns making you an honest man.”

“Which could take a very long time,” Rose adds, “And with your sensitivity to the fruit, that could be a little too much for you. Wouldn’t you agree, Anon?” Hot lips seared the side of your face, a soft and muscular leg flexing against yours. You can only manage to choke out a noise as the thrumming sensation drowned you. “I was suspicious after the tea, but now I’m sure about it.” There’s a determined tone to her, a touch of anger but also a bit of that sultry tone from when the two of you had teased each other. “Now, where are you actually from? And remember, if you lie…” Rose shifted, her claws slowly being drawn up your thigh, “I uh… we were willing to wait for you, but if you’re willing to lie about something so inconsequential…,” She trails off, Marin pokes your bare stomach with one of her nails.

"There's really no reason we shouldn't just stake our claim for safety's sake," Marin finishes, dragging her nail across you and causing your skin to break out into gooseflesh. "That way, you wouldn't be able to hide anything else or even want to run." You trembled at the touch, the thrumming seeming to grow. You doubted they'd dissect you given what you had been learning about Mamono, but part of you feared being honest about it. Maybe they'd throw you back into that cell beneath the guard's station or banish you, or worse; maybe itd damage how everyone, Rose and Marin in particular, felt about you.

>the truth/secrecy/and more truth if they ask

You tremble, face burning and resolve for the lesser of all evils that could result and decide on just telling the truth and only elaborating if pressed; overall it’d be better to just admit your origin, save your virtue, and bear the brunt of the consequences of it all. Your voice strangles out in your throat as you try to speak, the haze on your mind clouding up, Rose simply grins at you with an amused look.

“Marin, let’s give him some breathing room.” Rose says, pulling away and sitting up on the bed as she looks down at you, “The fruit seems to be overwhelming him.” Marin simply groans as she pulls away from you and complies with the request, sitting up on her knees as her tail wraps up around her waist. Slowly the thrumming fades, the overwhelming sensations bleeding away with only the haze clouding over some of your thinking.

“Please don’t tell anyone,” You manage to mumble out, a longing starting to take place over what had been an overwhelmingly pleasant sensation. Part of you wanted to reach out, anything just to feel them touching you and you couldn’t help but whimper as you yearned for it.

“I’m not hearing a real answer,” Marin flatly said, eyeing Rose but waiting for what you assumed was an acknowledgement to go ahead. You sighed, shutting your eyes as you tried to work through the haze.

“Give him a moment,” Rose’s tone sounding amused, you swallowed hard and tried to focus.

“A different world,” you try to focus on your tongue in your mouth, trying to drown out the pleading need for touch or the way your head was swimming. “No magic, no mamono… just us,” You open your eyes, both of their expressions are not at all what you had figured. Rose seems to be in shock while Marin seems almost happily surprised. “Didn’t lie, necessarily.”

“A-anon,” Marin starts crawling over to you, her hands planting on your chest as she leans over you as her eyes bore into yours, which shine brightly, “You aren’t lying are you?” A wide grin is plastered on her face.

“No,” You manage, shutting your eyes again as the thrumming comes back and you feel the electrical current and you can’t help but shudder at it. A large paw touches at your head, gently petting at your hair as you feel the bed shifting on both sides of you as both of them move their bodies slowly, each coming back to their respective sides as they press close. Soft lips find yours and you can’t help but moan into it as your face burns, shivering as the electric feel and a set of hands grasp at your forearms and a tail wraps on your leg tightly.

“Oh Anon,” Rose's lips mutter as they pull from yours, her paw gently guiding your head into the crook of her neck as she sighs.

“To think we lucked into this,” Marin rubs your arms before squeezing your hands before lacing her fingers into yours.

“Wha?” You spit out lazily, fighting against the warmth that threatens to lull you into a coma of comfort as you try not to space out at the electric thrumming seeming to come from all over your body.

“W-we should probably tell him,” Rose murmurs, stroking your hair gently, “A-and we may have to explain it again l-later if he’s being overwhelmed…,”

“That’s fine,” Marin pulls one of your hands close and kisses your wrist elicating a shiver to which you groan. “He’s paying attention, mostly maybe.” You tone of voice is cheery and overly pleased.

“Well…,” Rose starts, “T-the Maou, it’s believed her husband was an otherworlder, no one’s really sure but he was odd a-and almost all of the other great heroes throughout the ages definitely were though. It usually… it means you're meant for something great.” Rose sounds sad as she says this.

“He doesn’t really seem like the dungeoneering type though,” Marin corrects, “I doubt he’d go anywhere even if he could,” She wages your manacled hand at Rose. “You wouldn’t go anywhere, would you Anon?”

“Nnnn,” You grumble, exhaling softly as you try and bury your face further into Rose’s soft neck. The two of them grasp at you, each of them squeezing you gently which causes you to squirm at the sensation as an electric charge cascades through your skin. “H-ow?” You slur out.

“The fruit,” Rose replies, her hot breath on your neck and you can’t help but shiver at the intensity of it. “It uh… d-demon energy changes things, imbues them with mana. T-the fruit it… um,”

“Mana poisoning. You aren’t used to the energy because you’ve never been exposed, so once you took it in your body it really dug into it.” Marin lets go of one of your hands, dragging her nails down your chest and you let out a rather embarrassing sound at the sensation. “It's thought to be one of the reasons why ‘heroes’ happen, their bodies don’t handle or process mana normally so it just builds up and makes an overpowered hunk.” You tremble, grasping at Marin’s hand as Rose’s paw continues to gently pets you.

“Hush now,” Rose mutters, her lips searing against you temple, causing you to whimper. “He needs to sleep this off,”

“Jo-b,” You mumble out, shivering.

“Shhh, I already told your ‘attendant’ to do your check in with Morinth and let them know you wouldn’t be able to work tomorrow.” The way she said attendant was venomous, apparently somewhat off put by the shoggoth and territorial over you. “Just relax honey, after a nice nap we’ll have dinner, okay?” You simply grunt in acknowledgement and breath out slowly, feeling your muscles unwind as your body feels as if its going to melt while Rose and Marin gently hold you close.

>Hammer and Chain Hero

You wake in your bed, the smell of cooking meat meeting your nose and your stomach growls hungrily. For a moment you feel dizzy but that quickly fades as you move out of bed, slowly making your way through the rug doorway as you begin to head up to the first floor. The first thing that meets your eyes is Marin rummaging about in the kitchen as what you can only assume is chicken by the smell, cooks in a nearby pan. A sensation pangs deep inside you and you find yourself slowly walking up behind her before wrapping her up in your arms, to which she loudly squeaks, and the feeling dissipates as you gently hug her.

“I was wondering when you’d get up,” Her hands grasp at your wrists, squeezing as she throws her head back to set on your shoulder. “How much do you remember husband?”

“We did not do that,” You mutter, and one of her hands comes up and strokes at your hair as she lets out a playful laugh. “Being from another world tends to mean someone is a hero…”

“So most of it then,” Marin moves, turning in your arms and kissing you on the forehead.

“So why would that make the two of you lucky?” You ask, eyeing the pan behind her which was full of a split chicken and some kind of blue chopped vegetable which were frying in a light dusting of oil. Marin simply looks away from you blushing and you couldn’t help but wonder at the typical reasons why a woman would want a ‘hero’. Was it the prestige? The expectation that you’d be rich or powerful? Mamono didn’t strike you as seeking such in a man, or at least not as a primary set of traits; maybe. “What?”

“It’s uh…,” Marin purses her lips, her voice cracking, “It’s kind of dumb, okay?”

“Try me,” You can’t help but smile as you let go and head for the nearby dining table to wait as she works. “It can’t be that bad, can it?” Marin simply turns red and turns away from you, focusing on cooking.

“Look, t-the stories are kind of a big deal culturally,” The embarrassment clear in her voice as she takes a metal spatula and pokes at the food, “E-everyone hears them growing up and its uh...it’s… t-they’re considered more romantic… please don’t laugh.” She pleads, turning to face you and you can’t help but grin at her as it clicks and you wonder why it wasn’t more apparent just moments ago. Of course it had to do with some other trait that the ‘hero’ might have, or was at least prescribed to them, on that Mamono were seemingly obsessed with. Marin just wilts beneath your gaze as you bite your lip to stop from laughing. “A-anon,”

“I’m sorry, it’s just… it’s cute is all.” You answer, looking away, the need to tease her rising up in you, “So because of some stories you think I’ll be better at sweeping you off your feet or kissing?”

“A-anon,” She pleads, turning back to the pan as a way to hide her embarrassment.

“I’m going to tease you about this you know,” Marin simply groans at this, poking and prodding at the chicken and turning over the chunked up vegetables. The two of you sit in silence for a moment, before you mull things over and remember something else. “You won’t tell anyone, a-about me I mean? I don’t want things to get weird, well, weirder.”

Marin turns, setting down the spatula, with a pleased look on her face as her eyes bounce over you. Part of you doesn’t necessarily like the way her lips curved or how her eyes seemed to light up.

“And what will I get for my silence Mr. Hero?” you sigh exasperatedly, part of you assuming where her mind might be going.

“Not before marriage,” you mutter, eyes meeting hers but she doesn't seem to relent whatsoever. Her smile becoming more smug.

“Of course not. I want something else,” Slowly she stalks over, fingers running through your hair as she presses close and kisses you forcefully, “T-the rest of the cobbler, I… we should finish it and you have to hold me. Tonight.” You feel yourself blush darkly, remembering the intense sensations from just a few hours early.

“It can’t hurt me… can it?” You manage to choke out, and Marin simply shakes her head before kissing you again and heading back to the stovetop and tending to the cooking food.

“Just your waistline,”

“O-oh, and when did you want to have a proper date?” You try to change the subject.

“How about tomorrow?” She floats, “We could work on that book you had and just enjoy spending time together.”

“That should be fine,” You answer, the smell of the chicken making your mouth water. The two of go back and forth for a while, talking about random things and then eventually settling on the meal and what the blue vegetables were. Apparently they were carrots, having been enriched by mana, had mutated into large, fat things with a dark blue color in and out; the two of them having decided that you needed to eat more mana enriched things to help build up a general resistance, so any accidental snacks in the future wouldn’t turn into a mess. Rose apparently takes upon herself to go do a round of shopping for only mamono fruits and vegetables and possibly a handful of things made from such.

Eventually the food was finished and as Marin began plating it, the front door swung open with Rose carrying in a large basket which she set down on the table before coming over to you as she smiled happily at you, her large paws grabbing you up as she warmly embraced you. Lips find yours as you're lifted from the ground and squeezed gently, part of you suddenly becoming very aware of the large breasts threatening to envelope you as you're pressed close and tight and just as quickly as you had been snatched up, you were let go and set down.

“So how much do you remember?” Rose starts, her lips curling up in a sharper smile.

“I remember,” You mutter, your face starting to flush a bit again at the memory and the return of the empty feeling that made you want to be close, to at least touch.

“W-well husband,” Rose starts, botching most of the delivery as well as being unable to control her face as it paints over with mirth and you can’t help but groan as Marin starts to laugh while setting up everyone’s meal.

“Marin already tried that,” You mumble, her only response to stick her tongue out at you playfully before leaning forward quickly and kissing you again. “So… what did you get?” You eyes darting over the basket, curious to learn more about anything you could. Would there be other weird effects from various mamono foods? Potatoes that made you smell good? Oranges that could solve insomnia?

“We can talk about it after dinner honey,” A large paw finds its way to your head and she begins to pet you before moving past and helping with setting out utensils and drinks. The three of you prayed and the rest of dinner had been a rather light conversation which bounced around what all the two of them had went about arranging and tangentially about how at least one of them would need to be near for the foreseeable future if you were going to be eating out. All the while you enjoyed your meal, the ‘carrots’ leaving a odd tangy taste not unlike a sweet barbeque.

“Anon, what are things like… you know, back in the otherworld?” Marin asks and you can’t help but swallow, not fully sure how to explain it.

“It might be best to go over specifics maybe, because overall here… this world seems better in most ways.” Sure you had technology back home, but you haven't met anyone here you gave you pause for concern. Outside of Brunhilde’s property damage, you hadn’t heard of any crime whatsoever nor witnessed even an argument, at least not a real one. “Like… somethings are faster, far more convenient, but people are distant and cold. Everyone had access to the largest repository of knowledge but all anyone cared about was petty nonsense, arguing over things that didn’t matter. Crime was an issue, but people refused to acknowledge the cause. Families falling apart for nothing…,” You frown, not really sure where you're going with this.

As you look up the two of them look a bit distressed but not overly worried, Rose tapping her claws together nervously as she thinks something over.

“I know it’s not an issue of technology, it's an issue of people.” You answer, heading off the likely question. “It was like most people were insane, and if you weren’t in some way, everyone else would attack you and call you insane. It was all upside down.” Marin’s eyes pop open at this and the two Mamono look at each other worried. “I’m fine,” you grumble as they silently seem to discuss something.

“So w-would you ever want t-” Rose starts, claws tapping nervously.

“No.” You spit out quickly, “I don’t want to leave here.” You grasp at your hands, fidgeting with them and trying not to look at either of them as they both began to grin. A lull in the conversation starts which slowly becomes a long pause.

“W-well, we should move on to dessert,” Marin says, breaking the silence, Rose shooting her a look for a moment as she begins to piece things together. “I’ll be careful, we have enough to be able to alternate for several days...” She follows up, Rose’s expression becoming more wistful than worried as your face burns. “Anon,” You look up at Marin as she eyes you much like she had earlier, a kind of predatory intent mixed with something gentle and needful. “Go ahead and get washed up, I’ll bring you your cobbler in a bit, we can handle the dishes.”

For a moment you glance at Rose who simply grins at you before making a shooing motion with her paw. You had to admit you craved the thrumming sensation, the warmth and touch, the contented feeling that it filled you with; but it also worried you just a touch. It wasn’t addictive, was it? Eventually you mustered up and headed off, grabbed a change of clothes for yourself, walked off towards one of the back rooms on the first floor, and entered into the modest bathroom.

You moved about as an established routine took hold. You brushed your teeth, and after disrobing went about using the water reservoir to draw a small bath in the rather giant tub. You had no idea how the water was heated, and you kept forgetting to ask as it slipped your mind, but it was always a reasonable temperature; not too hot or cold, just right. You quickly went about washing yourself, a bar of nearby pine-tar did nicely for a lather and left you smelling like a mixture of smoking tobacco and a fireplace full of fresh pinewood. Toweling off, you pulled on a fresh set of clothes and headed out with your mop of hair still damp and messy.

As you left the bathroom and began to head off to your makeshift room the two of them stopped and eyed you, staring rather intensely and just smiling happily at you. A cold shiver ran up your spine as you headed down the stairway, was the temptation of you starting to wear on them? Would you have to consider moving back into the inn or possibly a spare room of the soon to be built church? Maybe cobbler wasn’t a great idea, but you doubted either Marin or Rose would try to take you forcibly; despite having threatened it earlier.

You shook these thoughts from your head, grumbling to yourself, and as you entered your room began to pray again, figuring you might not be clear enough to do so once it was time to sleep. You reiterated your worries over the church, though much of the stress had since dissipated since you had learned of it, and asked for them to be taken from you as well as thanking God for everything so far that had happened; you had to admit you were happy overall, which all things considered was more than most could probably say. Slowly, after peeling your shirt from yourself, you laid down and pulled your sheets over yourself as you relaxed after having blown out your lantern, you had no idea why you didn’t feel over rested at this point, all you could do was chalk it up to the lover’s fruit.

You laid there, focusing on your breathing for a time and had begun to drift off as you heard your rug door flap and a bit of stray light bleed through. You couldn’t place what Marin was wearing, but it certainly wasn't the borrowed tent, it was loose and billowed somewhat though it was rather short as far as you could tell as it appeared to detonate high on her thighs, seeing as all you could see was a silhouette of the mouse. She approached in the dark, hands held up as she grasped at what you could barely see was a large spoon.

“Say ahh,” Her tone was husky and sultry, and you nervously swallowed. Maybe, when it was reasonable, you should see about going back to the inn. Not so much because of the two of them, but because you were slowly wanting to just give in.

“Ahhh,” You mimed as the large spoon was brought up and gently pushed into your mouth, obediently you take the bite and slowly work on the cooled dessert. Immediately the flavor hits you, and after setting the spoon aside Marin climbs onto the bed and grasps at you before she shifts and shoves herself beneath the sheets with you and grabs you up in her arms, holding you in a tight embrace. Slowly the electric thrumming comes and you feel yourself practically melting as ever muscle goes slack at the sensation.

“That’s a good boy,” Marin murmurs, fingers running through your hair as you shudder and squirm a little; the hazy feeling clouding over your mind. “Just hold me and relax, I’ll take care of you Anon.” You shiver as kisses you fully, one hand gently stroking at your back while the other is curled around you as fingers run through your hair. Eventually the sensations and comfort takes you, only occasionally rousing a bit as you feel her kissing you, and you slowly fall asleep.

Your dream was incomprehensible, disjointed and lacking any kind of narrative. Eventually it settled out and you found yourself weilding a rather ornate looking, long handled warhammer you had gone about fighting pirates on a ship, at least you thought they were pirates. Their appearances were fearsome, and unnatural, looking nothing like normal men or what you had come to expect from Mamono. Your hammer swung out and you connected with one as he attempted to draw a sword, his scream came out as lightning crashed down around you and you felt a weight suddenly press on your chest.

You opened your eyes, only to see Rose as she gently shook you. Breakfast had been made you were told, the smell of which started to drive your stomach wild, and interestingly enough; you had a guest, one of the seekers had apparently come to the city as fast as they could. Smiling, she pressed close and kissed you sweetly before pulling away and starting for the rug-door.

You sighed, and as you dressed, tried to make sense of your ridiculous dream. As far as you knew the region was landlocked and only had fairly large rivers and a few lakes, but nothing that could reasonably accommodate the proper use of such a large ship. Sometimes a dream was just a dream. As you finished, you headed up the stairs to greet your guest and hopefully tear into your breakfast quickly after that.

>Centipede

As you walked up the stairway on your way to the living room you did your best not to stare at Rose’s rear, which was admittedly becoming harder to do than you’d wanted to admit. Your eyes locked to it and you noticed her exaggeratedly rolling her hips with each step, the way her rear pressed back on her dress; as you tore your eyes away and looked up, your eyes met hers. A smirk takes over her face while both of you turn red and she wiggles her rear at you before hurrying up the stairs ahead of you. You sighed, knowing you were going to be teased about this and headed up.

As you peaked up over the edge of the floor into the first floor, you spotted most of the seeker. A long chitinous and segmented body spilled over the edge of a chair and snaked around of the floor, the rest of them was perched on a chair at the table; multiple sets of spindly, insectoid legs clatter a bit at the table edge and chair. As you continued up you weren’t shocked at what the rest of them looked like when you caught the rest of them, a rather young, maybe fifteen or younger, looking girl having sprung up out of the other end with a thick mop of black hair, wearing a rather large and baggy soft green shirt that seemed a little too big for her; from the table up you might not have realized she was a mamono had she not had antenna coming out of her head and her neck flanked with rather savage looking pincers. Currently, she was busy tearing into a plate of food.

“Hello,” You manage, trying not to drool as the smell of fresh food met you; the girl simply looks up from her food, tries to smile, realizes she shouldn’t do that while eating and instead begins frantically motioning with her hands. You try your best not to grin while Rose lets out a giggle before setting a cup of what could only be tea out for you at spot where you presumed your food was, the girl frantically trying to get the food down.

“‘Ullo,” She chokes out as you finally start to sit down, looking a bit sheepish, Rose touching at your shoulder and giving you a peck on the cheek. You start to look over your food, a plate full of scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast only to catch what you assumed was a centipede-mamono staring at you expectantly while looking a little nervous.

“Oh, uh… we can talk after eating, it’s no problem honestly.” You offered as you worked to suppress grinning about it, she immediately went back to wolfing down food. Did she think you needed to be impressed or that somehow thought you were a stickler for etiquette? Another plate came down, and Rose settled in next to you, one of her furred feet finding its way over and resting on top of your foot beneath the table.

For a moment the three of you eat in general silence, the only sound being utensils on plates or cups being set down. Eventually the newcomer sighed and simply focused on her tea, before looking up between the two of you as her antenna twitched.

“Sorry about that,” She starts, hands gently grasping her cup and seeming to enjoy the warmth it gave off, “I.. I didn’t mean to press your wife into making me breakfast but I hadn’t had breakfast yet and I was starving,” Rose turns to you, practically beaming at the mistake as you turned a bit red, “Did I say something odd?”

“Not so much,” Rose answers with a hint of satisfaction, snagging up a piece of bacon while nudging your foot beneath the table with hers. You sigh, eyeing her knowingly before taking a sip of your tea, you weren’t opposed to the defacto marriage but could cause problems if left unaddressed. For the time being you’d let Rose have it though.

“So...uh… I have no idea how this would work or what seekers do,” You laugh nervously, “I’m Anon, you already met Rose,” She nods at this, her antenna wobbling through the air.

“Your wife,” She tacks on and Rose nudges your foot with her, hooking it on your leg, all while shooting you a look with a mix of a saccharine and smug smile. You start to motion to the centipede girl and it clicks for her, “Oh! Uh, I’m Pekoe.” She smiles nervously.

“So uh...I honestly have no idea how anything of this works,” You mutter, grabbing up a piece of bacon, “Do we just talk about my religion in general o-”

“Well, if you have any texts could I see them first?” She jumps in, setting down her drink.

“Sure,” You nod, getting up and heading off to retrieve it. You pulled it from your bag, carrying it over in it’s canvas cloth and gently setting it down next to Pekoe. “So there’s a few odd things here and there, even with the translation enchantment on it, so if you have any questions please let me know,” She nods, her face somewhat determined as she pulls the cloth free from the bible and slowly starts into it. Completely becoming absorbed in it.

Looking up you lock eyes with Rose from across the table as you start to head back towards your plate, and as you come close you lean in, faking a hug.

“We should talk in the other room real quick,” You whisper quickly before quietly slipping into one of the spare rooms.

>"Mrs. Anon?"

>"I'm concerned about this," (Pekoe seems too young to be on her own)

>"What do you know about seekers?"

>Tease about marriage

It takes only a few seconds but Rose follows behind and gently shuts the door behind her. Part of you worried about what your guest would think or even worse, would it be considered normal for a married couple to just disappear for a moment or so? It might be for Mamono households actually...

“So when’s the honeymoon?” Rose grins at you mischievously, before pulling you into an embrace and kissing you on the forehead. Her large paws flanking either side of your face and gently angling it to have you look up at her.

“I didn’t say anything of the sort, I guess she just assumed we were married. W-would that be so bad if it was true though?” What started as a playful tone turns to concern as she eyes you, her large blue eyes seeming to question yours.

“Not at all,” You reach up for her and she happily obliges by leaning down to kiss you happily, her paws grasping at your back and squeezing you against her as you feel a tongue trace the edges of your lips. Part of you wants to tease her just to get back at her. You make a surprised sound at the sensation, Rose simply makes a pleased humm in response before breaking away from you. “That's a relief though, I thought someone had told you.” Roses eyes go wide at this as she peers down at you, curiosity bubbling over.

“Told me what?” She whispers suddenly, grasping at you in surprise while the curiosity takes hold.

“You didn’t know that we’re already married?” You asked doing your best to maintain a disciplined look on your face, if you grin or anything else she might see through it. Rose’s eyes take on an odd look you hadn’t seen before, then that same predatory look she had had so many times before and you swallowed loudly. “Wai-”

You weren’t sure when it had happened but you found yourself pinned against the wall and her chest, her largs paws grasping at your shoulders as lips were smashed against yours, her tongue against yours in your mouth excitedly exploring. You try to pull away but can’t, you can feel your face burning as she shifts and using one of her paws starts grabbing at your pants. Her breath comes at you in quick, hot gusts, all while she makes a happy sound into the overly passionate kiss. You grab at her paw with both of your hands, trying to stop her as she begins to fight you for it.

“A-anon,” a red faced Rose starts, her breath short as her large chest heaved as she started to relax and no longer fought for access to your pants, “W-we can quick, j-just be really qu-”

“Wait. Please wait.” Your head was light, just as red in the face and short of breath, and to a certain degree embarrassed at the tenting in your pants; hoping Rose wouldn’t notice it.

“I-its okay, I-I’ll be gentle with you. J-just give me all of your honey a-and we c-c-” Her voice is harried and full of need. Why had you done this? Why had you thought this would be a worthwhile joke?

“W-we can’t Rose,” You mutter, a mix of disappointment, fear, and worry that Rose would be rather upset about the poorly executed teasing. The disappointment that you couldn't continue, and the fear now knowing how badly Rose wanted you and how easily she had just overpowered you. She could simply take you if she really wanted, deep down part of you almost wanted that.

“Why!?” She cried almost a bit too loudly and the two of you stopped and looked towards the door, waiting for a moment while the only sound was that of the two of you breathing somewhat heavily. “Why not?” She whispered, starting to look annoyed.

“W-we aren’t married,” The only response you get is a glare and a disappointed look, “I just wanted to get you back f-” a low growl starts, and you reflexively swallow.

“Fine, fair is fair. Tell me how then,” A stern tone takes hold as her eyes keep their predatory look, you can almost feel her gauging if you should be devoured or if it might attract too much attention. “But no teasing.”

“R-right, yes.” Sighing, you reach out and tentatively begin scratching and rubbing at her ears hoping it’ll help relax her a bit, “U-usually it starts with an announcement, this is made for friends or relatives.” As you slowly knead her ears her gaze seems to relax a touch, though the underlying annoyance is still there, “T-then after awhile a ceremony is scheduled, vows are exchanged,” Rose relaxes a touch, leaning into your hands and touching at you chest gently with her large paws, “Then there’s usually a brief wait for anyone to object, and then a small party with food and drink, and finally everyone goes home.” As you finish Rose seems far more placid, her face still red, but softly making her bear-chuffing sound.

“T-then what Anon?” Her voice is calm and almost sleepy.

“What do you think?” You ask, smiling as the annoyed looked is supplanted with a rather pleased and relaxed one. Mentally you make a note to not forget that her ears are a weak point.

“Does Marin know?”

“I’ll make sure to tell her, I promise.” Gently you cup her face, to which she grins softly at you, “There is the other thing though I wanted to talk to you about.”

“What's that?” Paws find your hands and gently push them back up to her ears, goading you to resume your ministrations, which you silently do. The bear-chuffs return as you begin to work over her ears.

“What exactly do seekers do? I mean… Pekoe can’t be more than fifteen and she’s on her own… right?” Rose seems to think this over for a moment, pulling away from your hands as her face begins to contort a bit into one of concern as she considers it. “I mean… is that normal?”

“No, it’s not. Usually they travel quite a bit and hear various religions or beliefs of people to see if it calls them.” She mumbles, “But if she lived nearby sh-”

“She would have been by maybe a day or two after Rullia left.” You finish, Rose’s eyebrows furrowing at this as she considers it, the concern starting to seep through. “Do mamono have runaways or wandering orphans?” Rose simply frowns and seems to become lost in thought as you start to quickly go over options in your head. “Look, I was going to go see Marin in a bit, I’ll stop by the guard station and let them know not to let her leave town unless she’s with an adult or we made a mistake. Just don’t say anything about it in the meantime. I’ll be back with Marin and we’ll ask her then.”

“And then what?” worry crept into her voice, “What if she is actually alone?”

“Then we’ll figure something out and take care of it however we can, okay?” You float, despite likewise having no idea what could be reasonably done. Maybe you could lodge her in the inn, having Alma the shoggoth in charge of her and once your credit ran out, pay out of pocket to cover the room? Was there an orphanage or poor house in the city? Maybe you finagle an apprenticeship from Lady Gelen as a way of ensuring she could take care of herself if she was opposed to outright help?

“Okay,” Rose states solemnly, looking towards the door. You can’t help but feel an ache in your chest and as you reach out to her, you pull her close and kiss her as you hope to reassure her. Her blue eyes brighten for a moment and for that moment, you're certain everything will turn out alright.

“C’mon wife,” Your mouth turns to a smirk as you start to head for the door, her face flushing brightly, “we have a guest.”

“I-it was an honest mistake,” She mumbles, looking away from you.

“Would it be so bad?” You ask, still grinning as you open the doorway quietly and slip out, thankfully unnoticed by Pekoe as she continues to work the bible as she’s completely absorbed into it. As quietly as you can you head back to the table and sitting down, finish off your breakfast; just as you start to finish your tea, Rose exits and takes her spot next to you. The two of you look each other over before Rose begins collecting the various dishes and working to clean them.

“Any questions yet?” You ask, starting to get tired of the silence, Pekoe’s antenna twitch as she quickly glances up and then goes back to scanning the pages.

“A few, but I’d like to read over some more…” She trails off, turning several pages and scanning over them in rapid succession. “Why wouldn’t they just do what they were told?” It takes a moment for it to click what she means and you can’t help but snort and smile involuntarily.

“Because they wouldn’t obey God, they cared more about what they wanted rather than what God demanded. They were evil.” You answered, Rose taking notice and looking on with interest, “That's a simple way of explaining it anyways.” Then the three of you slipped back into a silence and almost knowingly, you and Rose share a look and you resolve to get on with your task.

“W-well,” You begin, Pekoe not even bothering to pry herself from the pages, all you get is a wiggle of her antenna, “I’ve got to get going, I’ll be back in an hour a so, if you have any questions I’ll be happy to answer them to my utmost.” This only grants you a grunt from the girl, who doesn’t even look up.

“Where are you going?” The tone is flat and again, she doesn’t even bother to regard anything outside of the pages. For an instant you're almost jealous of her concentration.

“Oh!” Rose chimes in and you can’t help but look over to her, “Marin, she works over at the inn,” You find yourself involuntary clenching your teeth while trying to covertly motion to Rose, who at seeing it simply smirks at you and continues on anyways, “She’s the second wife.” and again the only response is a grunt. You shoot Rose a look and all you get back is a smug, if not accusatory, expression. You had unfairly teased her before, but wasn’t almost being taken punishment enough? Apparently not.

Slowly you get up and head for the door, slowly snagging up the borrowed book, ‘the tale of the hero’, as you start to turn round to announce that you were leaving are snagged up in a warm bear hug and kissed gently. Bright blue eyes stare down at you as maple colored hair crowns Rose’s face as she smiles at you.

“I’m sorry for teasing, but I like how it sounds.” She whispers before releasing you, and giving you another peck on the forehead, opens the front door for you.

It takes only a few moments but you find yourself outside the guard station, somewhat nervous about the issue of the presumed wandering orphan you might have found. Could you face criminal penalties? Could she? Even worse, would they refuse to do anything simply because there weren’t any laws to deal with such? You shook these from your mind, and headed in.

“Well, if it isn’t the slacker,” You hear a familiar voice call out from the nearby desk sergeant post, and as you look, you immediately recognize the owner. Ruby colored eyes set to black sclera, framed by more black meets you. “Enjoying playing hooky?”

“I had food poisoning or something,” You respond to Shawna, who grins at you in an accusatory way.

“I’ve been hungover before too,” the hellhound jabs back and all you can do is sigh in response, starting to lean on the desk. Her odd, lighter armor looking odd and strangely naked as opposed to when you had seen her in plate. The padded armor almost making her look like a weird space warrior.

“Look, I needed to report something and let you know about something. Can we just get to that part?” Shawna snorts at this, frowning a little as she seems to think this over.

“Depends, are you claimed yet?” You sigh exasperatedly as she leans forward sniffing the air, folding your arms and glaring at her. It isn’t until her eyes light up and she stares at you more so that you start to wonder about things, was she smelling when Rose had grabbed at you earlier? “She did, didn’t she?”

“I don’t kiss and tell, you’ll need to ask Rose.” You fail to lie, “Can I just file a report already or do I need to talk to Morinth?” Shawna simply frowns again, mutters something, and pulls out a piece of parchment.

“Fine, go.”

>probe

“So a seeker arrived and is currently over checking my bible,” You start, not really sure about how to explain things fully, “And I have a few concerns to address before necessarily getting to that. Firstly, do seekers have any kind of legal considerations that are different from normal?” Shawna simply sighs giving you a look as she drops the writing implement and crosses her arms.

“No, outside of some stuff involving the sanctioned cults who have greater legal requirements, not really.” She makes an odd face while saying this.

“Sanctioned cults?”

“We don’t have any in town, is your guest a bapho or something?” The term is completely alien to you and has absolutely no frame of reference or context.

“She’s a centipede...girl? What's a bapho?” You ask curiously, only for Shawna to frown.

“Doesn’t matter, next question.” You frown at her response and mentally note to ask either Rose or Marin later. Obviously it had to be some kind of Mamono.

“Fine. How old does one need to be to be on their own?” You ask, part of the worry you had about Pekoe bubbling up again. Shawna merely grumbles for a bit before looking away as she thinks.

“It depends.” She mumbles, apparently thinking things over before turning round and starting to look for something. Her large paws search about as she continues to grumble a bit. “If she was an apprentice or representing a business, or maybe visiting relatives, then a child could be off on their own.” She says, obviously picking up on what you were looking for, “Usually it's regarded as unacceptable if they’re not old enough to uh… well, about seventeen or so.” You furrowed your brow at this. Why ‘about’ and not exactly? Shawna obviously catching your expression shot back with her own, “I’m not going to explain it. Ask Rose.”

“Alright then,” You answer back, making a mental note to do so.

“So you think your seeker is some kind of runaway or something? Have to say, if that’s the case she’s a smart kid.”

“Or something. Why would that make her smart? I’m not sure necessarily on everything but I wanted to file a report in case as well as see if the guards at the gate could make sure tha-”

“That she doesn’t leave if that is the case. Makes her smart because seekers tend to be regarded warmly by people, occasional free meals and board.” Shawna simply nods, her face seeming to soften a bit at the suggestion only to try to reshape into being harsh and antagonistic again once meeting your eyes, though not very well. “Fine, we’ll do that and look into what we can.”

“Thank you,” You respond as genuinely as possible, a bit of worry leaving you as you simply nod. “Is there anything else I need to do?” She simply shakes her head at this.

“Not really, if things can’t get sorted she’ll be deemed a ward here in the city and depending on things will probably end up being apprenticed by someone in town.”

“That… doesn't sound too bad actually.” Shawna simply grunts in response as she begins jotting down various information as she looks rather invested in it. “Well, again. Thank you.”

Slowly you head off, back on track for your trek towards the inn which takes little time at all. As soon as you enter, you notice a definite change in things and it’s not just the Shoggoth helping serve food and drinks in the dining area. Over by the bar both Mollie and Maude sitting on the wrong side with each next to drastically different looking men, besides the looks of embarrassment as each of the mice worked at trying to hand feed them; your mouse however, was on the proper side of the bar and smiled happily at you before waving you over.

“Feeling better?” Marin asked happily, finishing up wiping a glass before putting it away. Her two sisters and their respective men, eyeing you. Mollie’s was tall and wiry looking with a mop of thick brown hair, something you recognized immediately and figured he was a farmer of some kind; Maude’s looked more akin to someone who worked indoors, his ink stained hands making you wonder if he was a writer or perhaps a printer.

“Yes, much.” You held up the book to show it to Marin before looking between her two older sisters, “Can I go ahead and borrow her for now… or d-”

“We can go Anon, it’s fine.” Marin states quickly, taking off her work apron and starting to fold it up. “By the way, this is Anon,” She motions to you, “He’s the one who’s religion Maude has been trying to sell you on Brian.” The reaction is immediate as Mollie begins laughing, her man simply looking confused, while Maude shoots her sister a look and Brian looks as if he wanted to simply turn invisible. What had Maude been telling him? Apparently the half caught mentioning of ‘mandatory consummation’ between a married couple had actually caught her.

“Well it’s nice to meet you Brian,” You mechanically offered your hand to the man, trying not to laugh and settling for simply smiling. “I’m not sure what has been said, but I won’t mind clearing up any confusion and discussing what I believe sometime.” He nodded in agreement, clasping at your hand, and surprisingly gave a rather strong handshake.

“Likewise,” came his reply, and the other man shifted to offer his hand as you and Brian ended the greeting. “Meeting, I mean, not that I have anything to clear up.” He flounders, obviously still flatfooted from Marin’s introduction.

“Lee,” Says the man who you assumed was a farmer, his calloused hand quickly shaking yours before letting it go.

A lithe arm wraps in yours, and grabbing up your hand, begins to pull you away towards the inns door as a tail wraps around your waist. Marin pressing gently into your side while leading you away.

“I guess we’ll see you guys later,” You offer, while slowly being led surely away from them. The two men simply nod knowingly, while their respective mice wave the two of you off.

The two of you eventually found yourselves in the small garden near the castle, Marin pressed close to you on the bench as you stared down at the book on your lap. One of her small, lightly furred hands reached across and gently tugged the page and turned to the next. More foriegn symbols stared up at you and you couldn’t help but grimace.

“It’s okay, I don’t mind reading to you,” Marin coos at you, her head on your shoulder.

“How about teaching me to read these kinds of symbols as well?” You offer, slightly embarrassed at the aspect of not being able to read. You should have figured it would be the case, since your bible had been translated, that their means of writing had to be different.

“It’ll cost you,” Comes her reply, dripping with amusement as she shifts and looks at you with a smirk before biting her bottom lip. You can’t help but swallow at this as your look becomes a glare and Marin just snorts, stifling a giggle. “N-not that, I know. I want you to kiss me, just… kiss me.”. Gently you moved and pressed your lips to hers, her hands touching at your neck as she pressed more fully into it and humming happily at the sensation. As the two of you part, Marin is blushing and studiously turns back to the book and begins to read out the page to you.

Over the span of several more demanded payments for the pages, it started to become apparent that the ‘The Tale of the Hero’ was likely still in the category of inappropriate smut that Lady Gelen enjoyed, at least in your opinion, though Marin seemed completely unphased by the description of the Maou’s claiming of her husband and the graphic details within. Were Mamono books uncaring about such things? Outside of that, the book had been reasonably informative. Two and half thousand years ago, a succubus had become obsessed with, and fell in love with, what was assumed was an outworlder who had been questing to kill the then Demon lord. As they struck the killing blow, the hero was wounded grievously, and instead of letting all the errant power that was released find a new host the succubus took it, healed the hero, and by the virtue of how such creatures were shaped and lorded by their leader, monsters the world over effectively became offshoot succubi with a sort of template for their hearts and minds. Mamono.

The rest of what you needed to know was filled in by Marin. The various human countries who refused to make peace, the slow and eventual settlements of the outlands that eventually became occupied by Mamono and the various men who were claimed or had given up on living among their own kind. And eventually the de facto cold war that was going on. Another demanded payment and she had held you tightly, as her tongue had invaded your mouth before breaking away from you. Marin smiled sweetly at you, running her fingers through your hair and scratching pleasantly at the back of your head and neck.

“Is there anything else you’d like to know about Anon?” She asks, voice saccharine and pleased. You can’t help but feel the heat in your face, thinking over their origins and more.

“Just a few things I guess,” You start only to be kissed fully and rather deeply, her arms wrapping round you and squeezing gently. You couldn’t help but make a surprised sound into the kiss, feeling a little overwhelmed as she breaks away and smiles at you. “Do I have to ‘pay’ for questions?”

“No, but it doesn’t hurt, does it?” Her face takes on a pleased look, one of her hands finding yours as she interlaces her fingers with yours. “So, what did you want to ask?”

“Well, I guess… what do you want for dinner and are you okay with guests?” Marin seems to consider these for a moment before squeezing your hand and shutting the book on your lap.

“That was two questions,” She mutters, eyeing you and you can’t help but sigh in exasperation. Warm and soft lips smashed to yours and you couldn’t deny that you did enjoy it, but the childish reasoning behind it stole something from it. Marin hummed happily as she gently ran her fingers through your hair as her lips warmed yours, her other squeezing your hand as your head began to spin. “Okay… well, I’d be fine with mostly anything. Did you want to invite my sisters and Brian and Lee?”

“Not quite.” You answer, thinking over how to explain things. “A seeker showed up, kind of.” Marin just looks at you inquisitively and you can’t help but continue, “I think they might be an orphan posing as one, I’ve already contacted the guard about it just in case…,” Her face scrunches at this, a worried look playing over it. “She doesn’t look older than fifteen. I’m just concerned overall I guess, and just want to be wrong about this. For it to all to just end up as an awkward conversation.”. Marin gently sets her head on your shoulder, sighing.

“You know, it’s said that heroes are prone to all sorts of trouble.” Her tone is flat, her fingers squeezing yours, “At least this isn’t too much to deal with…,”. Quickly she stood, tugging you upwards to your feet via your hand as she looked at you earnestly. “What will you… we do, if she is too young to be on her own?”

>Apprenticeship/Well… (13)

“Maybe an apprenticeship here in the city or well… I don’t know, there are spare bedrooms at home. Maybe have her stay with us? I don’t know.” You answer, not fully sure about what to do. Part of you was upset by it, your own background bubbling up in your head, and the less rational part of you jumped at the idea of adoption while the more rational part reiterated that you didn’t even have a job, or even sure if she wasn’t actually an adult. Why was she on her own? If she was a runaway, maybe an apprenticeship would work best.

Marin simply hums at this, thinking it over as her large ears twitch, her tail wrapping around your waist.

“And what were you thinking for dinner? I’d be fine with almost anything,” her grey-blue eyes looking into yours and all you can do is groan. You had figured you’d try to make something for her, since the inn might be a bit too full of close company, and both Rose and Marin had been cooking for you since the raid started. “What?” She asked, curious at complaint and you press close.

“Look, just tell me something you’d be happy to have for dinner,” You goad, squeezing her fingers in yours. “Otherwise I’m just going to make whatever.” Marin’s eyes light up at this as smiles slyly at you and pressing close.

“You know, if you drop the silliness about having a job I’m sure you’d make a good house-husband,” Marin begins to tug you along, “Are you a good cook?” her tone warm and happy, “Besides the porridge I mean,”.

You couldn’t help but smile as you tried to sigh and seem exasperated as you began to try to fake a frown at her only for her to laugh softly and begin leading you on back towards the house.

“Are you going to tell me what you’d like to eat or just risk it?” You ask, happily to be led away as the two of you begin a slow walk back to the house. Marin slows and settles at a good pace next to you and sets her head on your shoulder.

“I kind of want to risk it,” Her tone is still carrying the excited sound in it, you can practically hear her smiling, “Maybe something from your home? It doesn’t need to be anything complicated, I’d honestly be okay with almost anything.” The answer makes your mind begin to jump through various hoops of food items you could reasonably make in this medieval world. Scotch eggs? Even back home the large amount of sausage and oil needed was an issue, so probably not. Spaghetti? How do you even make noodles? All you can settle on reasonably is hamburgers. You had tomatoes, lettuce, bread, ground meat, mustard sauce, and everything you’d need to make mayo; maybe even pan fry some potato wedges for fries.

“I think I know something we could try,” Even as you answer you wonder at what her, Rose, and even Pekoe might think of it. Would they enjoy it or maybe be put off by it? Regardless, you still had time to decide. Marin simply made a pleased sound and the two of you continue on, walking slowly through the city.

As the two of you near the front door of the house you felt yourself stop, only for Marin to stop as well as move in front of you with curiosity in her eyes.

“Something wrong?” Her tail loosed itself from your waist, her hand gently cradling yours.

“No. I just… I’m nervous. I want to be wrong about all of it.” You mutter, thinking over every way that all of this could go and hoping for an awkward conversation that all four of you could laugh about later after finding out that she was an adult. You sighed as Marin closed the small distance and hugged you tightly, her fingers running through your hair.

“It’ll be okay.” She mumbles, breathing deeply before pulling away and giving you a slight accusatory look before it changes to something rather hungry and angry. “Anon you smell like…”

“Oh! No. That didn’t happen,” You blush, realizing where this was going as Shawna had mentioned much the same. “There was a miscommunication and then I decided to tease her and uh… we’re all still waiting. Rose just grabbed at me is all, it was my fault.” A mix of relief and disappointment play over her face for a moment before her features soften a touch as she touches at your sides almost possessively.

“What exactly happened?”

“Pekoe thought we were married and Rose decided to just play along,” You sigh, face turning redder as you explained as part of you wondered what Marin would have done had you tried to pull the same on her. She wasn’t as big, though her size belied her actual strength. “And… look it was dumb. I joked that we actually were an-” Marin snorts loudly before breaking into a laugh.

“Well, I hoped you learned something from it.” She pulls away heading to the door and starts to open it only to look back at you with a cheeky grin. All you could do was sigh and resign yourself that she was going to start in on any excuse to call you ‘husband’ in the meantime. “Don’t be so grumpy, I know you like both of us enough for it to be true. I know our way isn’t allowed, but would you really want to say no if we did it your way?” You felt your face burn a bit as Marin opened the door finally, “Now c'mon husband, you said you were going to cook dinner for us?”

As soon as the two of you had entered, Marin was introducing herself to Pekoe and Rose grabbed you up in a warm hug, as usual, sniffing at your hair as she held you before letting go. Marin and Rose shared a knowing look, apparently over Marin’s announcement as the two of you had come in, before looking at you excitedly; even Pekoe looked on with a bit of excited anticipation. Did Mamono really believe food made by men was somehow inherently better? You knew there was no way you could hold a candle to anything Rose could make; that woman could cook.

“So what are you thinking of making?” Rose asked, smiling at you happily.

>Hamburgers/Fries

“Hopefully something all of us will like,” You answer, feeling a bit silly as you mentally settle on hamburgers. All of it you were fairly confident with except for making mayonnaise by hand, something you had never done but knew how to do. You had the ingredients necessary, but could you pour the oil smoothly enough while beating it senseless enough to get the frothy wipe needed? You’d have to find out.

It takes a few moments but after going over the various ingredients you do have access to, you slowly begin prepping the various items for a fast cooking and putting together. Four hand pressed patties waiting to be cooked, Rose’s being the largest, buns cut and ready, chopped onions, sliced tomatoes and lettuce ripped to a handful of leaves. Each item and step along the way getting more and more questions about how it all went together, so much so that all three of them are crowded round on one side of the table to watch you.

“Okay,” You announce, turning round to look at all three as you begin grabbing up various items before setting them out on the table. An egg, salt, pepper, vinegar, and cooking oil. “We’re going to make mayonnaise, so I need help with this part.”

“Is that what the meal is called?” Rose asks and you can’t help but grin, the honestly curious tone and the context of it threatening to make you laugh.

“No, this sauce is called mayonnaise.” Quickly you give Rose a peck on the forehead as you work on dumping the contents of the egg into a bowl with the dash of vinegar, adding the salt and pepper, and then beginning to beat it almost into a scramble. “Now, before doing anything, when the oil is poured it must be poured very very slowly and in very small amounts; otherwise it won’t be a sauce, it’ll make a soup. Now,” You motion with your head toward Marin, who dutifully takes the bottle of oil and prepares to pour it as you continue to beat the egg mix, “Pour barely any, less than you think is needed; if we need more, I’ll tell you.”

Rose and Pekoe looked on in interest, neither really sure what was about to happen. You knew there were only two outcomes; sloppy soupy egg mix or something that was recognizable as mayo but not quite as smooth. Slowly you nodded to Marin and just as slowly she added a small, almost miniscule, amount of oil and you kept beating the mixture. Slowly, it began to change as it became lighter in color and you sighed out loud.

“More?” Marin asked as she held up the oil, as you continued to beat it as it slowly began to thicken.

“No, not yet.” You huff, arm already starting to protest as you keep beating. “This’ll take a while, but it’ll be worth it.”

“Is mayonnaise a good sauce?” Pekoe chimes in, looking on with just as much curiosity as the two women. Her antenna twitching with interest as your arm complains.

“For a sandwich or a base for making a dipping sauce for something else? Oh yeah,” The mixture began to thicken up finally, which mentally you were thankful for, and set it down. “Some people though… They like it for all sorts of things. Not really something I like outside of sandwiches or for making a dipping sauce.”

“Is it done?” Rose asks as she eyed the bowl with what looks like an uncooked mess of whitened eggs, Marin and Pekoe adopting an unimpressed look.

“Barely even started,” You sigh, thinking about having to get back to beating the mixture in just a few minutes. “It has to rest occasionally through the process. This is just a quick break.”

The next thirty minutes were rather taxing, not just because of having to slowly work over the mayo mix and trying to maintain an ongoing conversation, but because it led to inevitably answering Pekoe’s questions about what she had read. Trying to think as your arm protested at your work wasn’t easy.

“So what was the point of the laws then?” She asked curiously as you fought to keep beating the mix into a whip.

“Mostly it was to force them into realizing that simply doing things wasn’t enough, that they could never do good enough. Never be good enough.” You groaned a touch as you felt the muscles in your arm ache, Pekoe’s expression becoming confused at your answer. “Look… how far did you get?”

“Ruth,” She answers as you slow your work on the mix, it finally starting to look correct for mayonnaise. You sighed as you set the bowl down, happy to have finished the hard part, as was your arm.

“Okay, so that’s kind of my fault,” You start realizing that maybe you should have stayed and supervised, “A lot of the reading shouldn’t necessarily be done sequentially. Later it becomes apparent as the motivation behind it all, as the only way for salvation is through God and not as a result of anything we can do. The purpose was to get them to rely on him,” Pekoe’s antenna twitch at this as she thinks it over, your arm feeling like jelly, and all three girls looking at the mayo curiously. “And I think this is done, so it's time to begin cooking.”

“Can I try it?” Rose asked curiously, already reaching over with one of her large paws.

“Sure, but you might not like it by itself,” You answer as you get up, gently massaging your arm as you head over to stove top and start by plopping the patties into a cast iron skillet. One large claw was dipped and after a quick taste Rose could only make a perplexed face. After a few moments the familiar hiss and crackle of the grease and meat fills the air, as did the pleasant smell, and you set to work finally getting things cooked up.

You had worked in relative silence and having finished plating and assembling the burgers, went ahead and severed them before beginning work on the fries. As you worked on heating oil in the greasy pan and throwing in the chunked spuds with a good handful of salt only to hear both Marin and Rose clear their throats at the same time. Casually you glanced back to see them both motioning at Pekoe to wait, whether it was for you or because there hadn’t been a prayer yet, or both, you couldn’t be sure.

After turning the large fries over, this way and that, you figured they were done enough as they turned a light golden brown and carefully scooped them out into a bowl. A last quick dash of pepper and salt, and they were finished. Quickly you settled at the table, placing the bowl of semi-fried spuds where everyone could get to it, and reached out to your mouse and bear; Pekoe looking on with curious interest.

“Praying, before the meal.” You mention, smiling passively at her. Slowly, almost timidly, Pekoe reached out and took one of Rose’s large paws in her hand and looked back at you with a touch of confusion. Shutting your eyes you began to list off the various things from the day to thank God for and then finally finishing by thanking him for the food. “Okay,” You say as you finish, nodding to Pekoe who like the other two Mamono on your sides begin to eye the burgers, unsure how to handle them. You couldn’t help but let out a light laugh as Marin looked at you with a confused look.

“Okay, like this.” You couldn’t help but grin widely, amused at the situation you had created. You scooped up your burger, holding it up in one hand. “Just like a normal sandwich,” The three of them begin to have a relieved look as they mimed you before starting on their meals. There were no words, just the awkward sounds of chewing and the occasional satisfied sound from each of them or the sound of fries being dropped unceremoniously on their respective plates. Rose seemed to be aloof and salivating, Marin looks as if she might melt, and Pekoe looks more lively and animated than any you had seen her since meeting.

It doesn't take long before all of you finish your meals, each of them bothering to compliment your cooking or remarking repeatedly that you’d have to cook them again sometime. Mentally you made a note to make burgers again, but maybe with cheese or bacon. Pekoe looked at you with a look of desperation as she wiped messily at her face and you couldn’t help but let out a small laugh knowing exactly what was wrong.

“You can veg out if you need to,” You offer before crunching into one of the last of your fries. The skin and spices of the spud giving you a nostalgic feeling for back home, but just barely.

“Veg out?” Confusion paints over her face as her eyebrows knit together and her antenna seem to point at you in an accusatory way, both Marin and Rose lethargically also giving you a confused look.

“Take a nap or just relax and digest.” You offer, just grinning, “It's probably a bit heavier than you’re used to,” She simply nods along to your statement and Rose starts to get up slowly.

“We have a spare room just over there dear,” Rose motions to one of the rooms slowly before making a grab at some of the dishes, Pekoe already heading off to it as her multiple legs scitter.

“I can get those honey,” You stress the word while smirking at Rose, who simply blushes and starts to pout a bit, “Go ahead and lay down if you want, I can take care of the dishes.” Marin grabs at you and kisses you lazily before breaking away and heading off toward the downstairs.

“Well, I’m going to go lay down.” Marin mumbles out as she begins to descend the stairs, Rose simply tsks before grabbing up dishes and shooting you a rather rebellious look and you can't help but smile back at her; Rose relents and smiles back at you sweetly.

Quietly the two of you collect the various plates, cups, and the skillet and begin the simple work of washing them. After a quick scrub of them, the two of you set them up to dry. Just as you place the last cup, you find yourself being wrapped gently in Rose’s warm and soft arms; gently being hugged against the large woman as she looked down at you with a slight blush on her face.

“Well now I know I have to marry you,” She whispers to you as she simply stares into your eyes, you can’t help but blush a little as you stifle a laugh. Her maple hair hung down almost like a privacy curtain as she leaned down and kissed you gently, her lips feeling warm and electric against yours. A shudder was elicited from you and Rose cooed to you, gently rubbing her nose against yours. “Cobbler?”

Your face flushed fully and swallowed before nodding silently, Rose just cooed at you again before gently angling your face upward for another soft and slow kiss. You still had things to discuss with Rose, but you could put off eating the spoonful of the desert until what needed discussed was discussed. Gingerly the large woman let you go and began rummaging around for a spoon before opening up a wooden chest she kept in the kitchen, cool air poured out and rather quickly she scooped a spoonful and smiled sweetly at you. Nothing mischievous,or lustful, just warmth and a need to hold you. Part of you wondered idly how long you’d be able to continue this onslaught before just giving and marrying them. Both of them had a mischievous touch and bit a lustful need that called to you but the genuine want to just keep you and comfort you put an ache in you that made you want to just give in; to just marry both of them if it meant the that the warmth and sweetness wouldn’t ever leave.

“Anon,” Rose whispers, holding the spoon out to you only for you to step back as you begin to head for the stairs.

“Downstairs,” You whisper back, as you slowly start to descend the stairs, Rose fast behind you as the two of you plod down towards your room. It takes only moments for the two of you to get to your room, as the rug flap falling shut Rose pressed close and embraced you and smelled at your hair. A large paw, gingerly grasping at the spoon navigated close and presented itself to you.

“N-not yet Rose, I need to be coherent first.” You grasped at the spoon and taking it, gently moved and set it next to the bed on a nightstand. Slowly you sat on the bed and Rose moved to sit next to you, her deep blue eyes locking with yours, a slight look of concern playing over her features as she focuses on you. Intent to know why the two of you needed to talk at length before resigning yourself to being a teddy bear for the overly sweet teddy bear. “So I was able to let the guards know about our guest,” A look of realization plays over her face which quickly washes away any of the concern she had. “We’ll probably...after confronting her, shop around for an apprenticeship for her which would probably work out best assuming she’s a runaway…,” You trailed off, not sure if you should even mention what you had absently thought about adoption.

“Well, we have spare rooms here.” Rose offers, smiling at you in a reassuring way as she gently places a large paw on your knee. “If she’s alone though, maybe…,” She trails off with a wistful look, seeming to gauge your reaction. Was she thinking the same thing as you?

“Also, this might be awkward but when I asked Shawna about ages… what happens around seventeen for mamono?”

“O-oh,” Is her only response as she blushes darkly, looking away from you and after pulling her paw away, nervously tapping her claws together. “Its uh… w-well,”

“It’s something to do with sex, doesn’t it?” You ask bluntly, realizing you should have just guessed.

“Mhmm,” Rose lets out, obviously embarrassed just by the mere mention of it, still looking away and taping her claws. “I-its the moon, it’ll s-still happen when it gets full…,” She trails off, starting to look at you again.

“I think I know.” you respond as your mind fills in the rest. Probably something like a first heat and then something that continues on happening once a month. “And uh… that, basically covers it. I think,” Reaching over you grab up the spoon and eye it before looking up to Rose, who watches you expectantly as you place the spoon in your mouth and take a mouthful of the cobbler.

Immediately her large arms wrap you in warmth, and pulling you close, she kisses you rather deeply; stealing a portion of the cobbler before flopping on the bed and simply holding you close. The effect is immediate as the electric thrumming begins to course through you, though somewhat subdued from what it was last time, something else seeming to ebb inside you as your body seemed to bloom with a sensation of warmth and contentment. Rose cooed to you, gently stroking your hair, and deep down part of you resolved to

>Marry them

Deep down, part of you resolves to just marry them. The constant temptations and worry, not to mention the almost addictive nature of being around the two of them and how warm and loving both of them were, it’d be best to just give in and say I do. Both of them seemed just as earnest about just being near and caring, not to mention attracted to you; so why keep fighting it? A nice, small ceremony and an exchange of rings couldn’t hurt. Officiating it yourself would be rather awkward however. Would they want to wait till the church was completed?

“What’s wrong Anon?” Rose asks, shifting and settling in a more natural position on the bed as she pulls you close against her, apparently sensing something from you.

“Nnnutin,” You manage to slur out, angling your face as you offer your lips to her. Thankfully she realizes what your doing and kisses you squarely on the lips, an electric current jumps across your skin as you break out in gooseflesh at the sensation and slowly begin to melt in the embrace; only able to make a contented sound as Rose breaks the kiss and grins at you happily.

“You know…,” The large bear woman starts, squeezing you gently in her arms as she presses her face into your neck, “Just knowing how good of a cook you are, I’m almost certain we have to marry you now.” You couldn’t help but blush darkly and let out a bit of a happy sound, reaching up and gently rubbing her ears in a slow deliberate manner. How many times had you thought the same about her? Rose simply pressed her head further into your ministrations as you kneaded and rubbed at her soft round ears, a low bear-chuffing sound filling the room.

As you worked over her ears lazily, you knew you’d have to likely talk to both of them about your intentions later. Obtaining or even making rings would take time, even with a soft decision for it, it’d still be something that’d take weeks if not a month or two; everything was handmade, everything that mattered took time in this world. Part you wondered if maybe instead of saying anything, you should just wait till the rings were ready to say anything. Then spring the issue of the dresses on them. It's not as if the girls would mind. Everything that mattered took time and would likely wipe out your savings; but that didn’t matter.

Rose coos softly, pulling away from your hands and kissing you gently again before slowly stroking at your back and whispering to you.

“It’s time to sleep now Anon,” Her lips find yours, another soft and sweet kiss as she whispers, “Just relax honey, just let me hold you.” You can’t help but relax, or blush even moreso at the petname, and slowly begin to drift off in her warm embrace as the occasional kiss finds your lips.

Your sabaton decked feet stride across fetid, rotted wood. It groaned beneath you almost as if it’s in pain , bending beneath your weight and giving off a smell you couldn’t quite place. Fungus and cold wet rot assault your nose, biting at your senses that fight to make sense of the other things you're smelling. A sickly sweet yet throat choking musk that makes your mouth water as it threatens to bring up bile in disgust, the more animalistic part of your mind seizing on it as rotting flesh.

You grasp at your warhammer tighter, knuckles aching as they blanche and slowly begin to move across the ruined wooden floor. You had no idea where you were, a place you had never seen nor imagined, but part of you recognized it as the hold of a ship. You huffed loudly, slowly shifting your weight across the boards as you went and made your way to the rear of the ship. As soon as you clear a crumbling doorway your eyes light on what you were looking for.

The girl is there, wrapped in rusted, thick chains; chains made for helping to moor a large ship rather than bind a prisoner, but desperation in dealing with the mamono prisoner they took necessitating something unconventional. The dark haired girl’s eye flicked up and met yours, one bruised shut and an unhappy color, her antenna twitching nervously as an upset look plays over her face. Neither of you make a noise as you slowly continue to move across the ruined ship.

Pekoe slowly raised her hands to you, palms outward as if telling you to stop. Your eyes immediately scan the area, no one else is in the room. No one besides you or the centipede girl. You slowly continue forward.

Immediately there’s a loud cracking sound and both your body and blood freeze. Pekoe shudders, seeming to crumble a bit at the sound and almost silently sob before shooting you a desperate look. You sigh quietly, as nothing apparent happens and start to move again only for something icy cold to grasp at your leg; the small bracer crumpling beneath the grip as you are yanked unceremoniously beneath the rotted wood.

As you begin to be pulled down and through, you lift up your warhammer about yourself as you ready it to strike and an engraving on it burns into your eyes; Κυρίω χριστώ. Resolve meets your soul and you feel no fear as you’re pulled into the black beneath by something that smells rotten.

A searing pain hits your eyes and you groan before rubbing sleep away and sitting up in your bed. In an instant the sensation of the pain reminds you of the first time it had happened and all you can do is sigh in annoyance as your mind spirals out and begins grabbing up everything that you saw and what it could mean; the first of which being that Pekoe had somehow left and bypassed the guards.

Looking over you find Rose asleep next to you, snoring softly and completely content. All you could feel was worry and questions setting into yourself. Where was there a ship in a landlocked country? Why had Pekoe left? Where and how would you get armor and a weapon? How could you even leave the city? You manacle would prevent it, you had no idea how but figured it wouldn’t be pleasant.

But first you had to know, had to make sure, at least before having a minor freak out and waking both Marin and Rose and whoever else you would need to for the armor, weapon, and to leave town; assuming that's even what you were supposed to do. Your feet are on the floor before you know it and just as quick your bounding through the downstairs living room before practically jumping up the stairs three at a time.

As soon as your eyes clear the edge of the floor you begin to scan the upper living room and you catch sight of numerous scittering legs silently gliding across the floor. A small knapsack laid out on the table nearby, various fruits or pieces of food on it as Pekoe silently moved around the room. Slowly, deliberately, you finished your ascent of the stairs and just stood there in the dark watching as she snagged three apples out of the cupboard and set them on the knapsack, a worried sound emanating out of her.

>Soft/Confront

“I know you aren’t old enough to be on your own,” You start, a small yelp fills the air as she bumps the handful of apples in shock, causing them to drop to the floor as numerous scittering feet back away. “You don’t have to be alone you know,” You move slowly and deliberately in the dark, coming to stop on the opposite side of the table as her, Pekoe simply raises her hands in almost defensive posture and you can’t help but grimace. Why are you running? Looking over the cupboard you can’t help but sigh as she goes about snagging up the apples nervously, “Why not something that won’t spoil so quickly?” you ask softly, grabbing a chair and moving to sit at the table, your eyes still fixed on her.

Pekoe simply whimpers and folds her arms, shrinking in on herself, her eyes avoiding you. Her antenna twitch as her face screws up into an upset expression, even in the low light you can tell her eyes are watering up. An odd noise gets uttered out as she starts to choke on her words.

“Look, just… just sit down. I’ll say what I think I need to and go back to bed while you make your decision.” You sigh again, somewhat struggling to find whatever words you’d need to try and convince her to stay in the city, at the very least. Maybe you’d have to give up your job if you couldn’t find her an apprenticeship, not that Rose or Marin would mind. The two of you wait in the dark silence before she slowly ambles into the chair opposite of you, and you find yourself at least a little relieved. “I don’t… I don’t expect you to tell me why you’re running or anything,” She wipes at her face, looking more relieved than you and at least looking at you now, “Maybe I’d be able to understand or not, I don’t know. What I do know is, there’s no reason you couldn’t stay in town at the very least and there’s no reason at all that we wouldn't be willing to help you in terms of getting an apprenticeship or whatever. Even if those avenues don’t work out, there’s more than enough rooms here or even the inn.” Pekoe makes a strangled sound, bowing her head just enough to hide her face beneath a curtain of hair.

“I d-do-n-,” She mumbles out.

“You don’t need to worry about that. Marin and her sisters run the inn,” You swallow, feeling a bit more confident in where this is going, but still worried that she might not listen anyways. “Even if money was an issue, the three of us could figure out something for you.”

“The three of us want to figure something out for you,” You near repeat as her antenna jump about and she fidgets nervously with her fingers, refusing to look you in the face. Obviously somewhat embarrassed if not outright ashamed by the reason, you just hoped she would be convinced to let others help her. “You just have to let us.”

>20/12 Warn about the dream/future

“I…,” Pekoe chokes out before simply looking down and balling her fists, making a strangled sound.

“If you keep on going, running,” You start, mind rolling through the dream you had just had, even touching on the prior one; the ships, the fetid smell, the aberrant looking ‘men’, “you have to know things won’t… can’t end well. That something terrible will eventually happen.” Your mind wanders back to the most recent one, of being pulled through the rotted flooring into a black abyss. Pekoe beaten and wrapped in the mooring chain and at the mercy of whatever was on the ship. Were there actual monsters still, despite the Maou? You couldn’t obviously tell her what you knew outright, you had only barely been able to convince Lady Gelen.

“W-what do you care?” She spits out, though its low and quiet, almost as if she’s unsure if she should even ask.

“Because I have to.” You answer quickly, completely unsure of what you actually mean despite it sounding good, maybe you were grasping or maybe you weren’t really fully awake yet. Whatever it was, your answer seems to relax her a touch as her hands relax and she merely stares a hole into the table. The two of you sit there in the dark for a time, seconds ticking by until you hear a sniff which eventually leads to nearly silent sob.

You can’t help but ball up your fists, not really able to stand the sound. Something inside you instinctively hated it, your gut and heart feeling like they were being wrenched in half. Something inside you wanted to do anything you could to make it stop. She sat there with her hands in her face, sobbing softly.

“Pekoe,” You start, furrowing your brow as you fought against a prevailing need to rush over and comfort her. What if it had been a man’s fault that she had run away? Something deserving of a quick drop and a funny dance? She might not be receptive of you trying to comfort her, it might solidify that she should run. The hold of the ship flashed in your head and you could almost smell the rotted wood. “I only ask that you let us try, for your sake. Okay?”

“O-okay,” She sniffs, wiping her face as she tries to get back to being composed.

“I’ll be heading back to bed now, I’ll be making breakfast in the morning if your st-”

“Yes!” She looks up at you finally, eyes red and wet, her nose needing to be wiped and face puffy. “I-I’ll be here, f-for breakfast.” She sniffs loudly again, wiping her face clumsily. You simply nod to her before you start to get up, only for her to suddenly hop off her chair with her numerous legs scittering as she quickly approached, faster than you realized, and wrapped you in a tight hug before letting out another nearly silent sob. You embrace her gently, one hand patting at the top of her head; part of you becomes aware that your shirt is slowly becoming wet as she simply holds you and crying softly.

“It’s okay Pekoe,” you whispered, slowly petting her hair, “We’ll do whatever we can for you,” the small girl simply squeezes you tightly in her arms, sniffing loudly at this.

“I’m sorry.” She whimpers to you, pulling away and wiping her face again, which somehow looks worse than before. Wiping at the mess with little luck.

“Don’t be. It’s okay,” you reach out and gently pat her on the head, careful to avoid contacting her antenna. “Well… go on to bed, I’ll clean this up.” The small girl simply nods to you, wiping her face absently again as she looks you in the eyes and for the first time you notice that they’re a dark, nearly black, hazel. Slowly, she turns, her segmented body beginning to head back to the room she had went off to go to sleep, “Oh, and if Rose or Marin gets up before me, tell them I said I’d make breakfast. Okay?”

“Okay,” She says in a small voice turning round to look at you, though smiling at you now, before scittering into the other room and softly shutting the door.

You sigh loudly, relaxing and almost mechanically go about cleaning up the various items that had been taken out; slowly putting them back to the various spots you believed they belonged in. As you finished you couldn’t help yourself as you sat back down at the table solemnly and folded your hands to pray. You sat there awkwardly in the dark, silent, unsure of what you should say or how you should say it; your eyes watered as you sat there, thinking only of what you had dreamt and thinking the worst about why Pekoe was alone.

“Thank you,” you finally managed, choking on it, before you wiped at your face and headed off to bed.

As soon as you hit the stairs you wondered at everything you’d need to do the next day, besides your job. Somewhere, outside the city in the countryside was an apparently beached ship in a landlocked country filled with things that needed unmaking, the three of you needed to try and find Pekoe an apprenticeship if she even wanted one, you needed to look into either buying or making rings, and most of all you needed to find out how long it’d take for the church to be built. Perhaps the service could be a wedding? You couldn’t help but snort and grin as you marched down into the basement, knowing it’d probably make some of the locals quite curious about things in regards to Christ, which wouldn’t be a bad thing.

As soon as you hit the bottom of the stairs you slowed in the dark, only to see the outline of someone before you. A somewhat lithe form standing at the size of a normal woman with large round ears projecting from the head.

“Anon, Is something wrong?” Comes Marin’s voice in the dark and immediately you reach out, hand gently brushing against her hip, only to yank it away as you realize what you touched. Bare skin and only a small amount of cloth had met your skin.

“Y-yes, I mean no.” You back up slightly, only for a mousy set of hands to grasp at your arms and a tail to wrap around your ankle. “E-everything is okay. Pekoe isn’t going to run.”

“That's good,” She replies softly with a sleepy tone before pressing close, her breath on your neck as she smells you. “Why are you so skittish?”

“You're not dressed…,” You mumble, feeling embarrassed and more than a little tempted to touch her, just to feel her skin against yours.

“Can you see anything?” Her tone is teasing, picking up on your distress, and sounding very much as if she were smirking.

“No.” You answer, disappointment seeming to magically fill your voice, “But that’s not the issue.”

“I know,” Marin replies, grasping your arm and moving behind you, slowly leading you forward towards your room in the dark. “Just the sound of your voice is a bit of a temptation, I can’t imagine what it’s like for you. Do you...Is it too much for you?” Her tone had shifted, no longer teasing but instead almost concerned.

“N-no. It’s just… I.. I know I’ll want to keep touching and I know after a while, it would be.” You mumble, “It’s different when either of you just hold me though, it’s a feeling of being home and belonging and I wan-” Warm and soft lips crashed against your neck as Marin pulled you close against her, hugging you tightly from behind, and just as quick the kiss was over, her breath on your neck as you stood there in mild shock. You could feel the form and contours of her body on your back and couldn’t help but swallow nervously.

“C’mon, let’s go to bed. I’ll hold you just how you need.” You couldn’t help but shiver at her tone, it wasn’t lusty or needful, but something else that made your face flush and made you sure you'd likely stutter. You simply made an affirmative grunt and dutifully, Marin began to guide you towards your room.

It takes only a moment but you're quickly back in your bed, settling down as Marin presses close behind you, spooning you and pressing you into Rose. Marin’s arms wrap around you, one coming up from around your chest and the other with her hand resting on your hip. Lips found your neck again and left a trail of kisses on you, causing you to shudder at the sensation; Marin simply making a pleased sound before stopping and snuggling up against you.

Slowly, you begin to drift off in the warm embrace of the two of them. The same warmth settling in you that you had come to expect whenever either of them held you, filled you and in moments you fell asleep.

The morning came and you roused by a rather heavy kiss from a mouse, followed by one by a bear before both of them demanded you make breakfast because you had said you would. Waking had been harder than usual, as you had been sleeping much deeper than usual and all the while you had tried to fully wake up or shake off sleep the two women took to stealing any kiss they could while helping you through your morning routine. It was enough to make you rather grumpy if it wasn’t so pleasant. Part of you was unsure however, as you had never fully decided on what to make for breakfast.

>Pancakes

As you begin the meander upstairs you sleepily notice Pekoe at the table looking on with a much lighter mood as Rose and Marin work on ushering you into the kitchen before likewise sitting down at the table to patiently wait for you to begin cooking. Slowly you began to wrack your brain for the general recipe before having to stop and frown; baking powder didn’t exist here. How were you supposed to make pancakes?

Mechanically you began to go about collecting the rest of what you would need, deciding to simply ask Rose if she had a leavening agent somewhere that wasn’t yeast. A large amount of flour, a dash of honey, and a few eggs into a large bowl before you frowned as you realized another problem: milk. Nervously you shot Rose a look and motioned her over, your face reddening as you began to feel awkward about it.

“What's wrong honey?” Asks the large woman as she plodded over to you, wrapping a large paw around you as she pressed close and met your eyes.

“Milk,” You mumble in a half whisper, face starting to burn as her eyes took on a particular shine before a smirk painted over her face. “I uh… need milk to make this, and a quick leavening agent.” Rose simply hummed out a pleased sound at you, her smirk becoming a rather worrisome smile.

“What’s wrong?” Marin asks from the table and all you can do is practically bow your head and mentally beg that they don’t bring up your milk issue in front of Pekoe. You didn’t think the young girl would necessarily join in on the teasing, but you didn’t want the awkward issue of having to discuss any kind of sexual behaviors with a child, especially one that wasn’t yours.

“N-nothing, just realized I couldn’t find something,” You answer back quickly, Rose simply hugs you slightly before heading over to the chest she kept in the kitchen and opening it; cool air poured out as she pulled out two different sealed metal cylinders. One had to be milk, you were sure of, but what was the other? Rose wasted no time however, and pulled the lid for one before handing it to you; a quick check confirmed it was indeed milk and looking back to her only got you a toothy grin in response.

“I uh… wanted to surprise you, but now is fine I guess…,” She answers quietly, as she worked the lid off of the other container. “

“You milked a cow?” You asked surprised as you begin to pour it into the bowl, eyeballing the measurement.

“N-no. It’s goat milk.” She gets out, as she holds out the other container to exchange for the milk. Immediately the smell hits you and you realize exactly what it is: buttermilk.

“Like a real goat? Not a Mamono?” You ask, somewhat surprised by this but also somehow worried this was about to become weird somehow, someway. You exchange the containers and pour a small amount of the buttermilk into the mix.

“Yes, a real goat.” Rose groaned at you, “As if I’d let you drink some other girls milk ov- uh… n-nevermind.” Her face immediately reddened as she used one large paw to cover part of her face quickly before quickly tapping her claws together nervously while looking away from you, you couldn’t help but quirk an eyebrow at her.

“What are you two talking about?” Pekoe calls out, and the two of you jump, Marin letting out a laugh.

“Oh it's nothing, Anon’s just particular about milk.” Marin starts to explain calmly, though you can hear a teasing tone in it.

“Oh,” is Pekoe’s only response, and thankfully that's as far as it goes. Maybe she was sympathetic because she was particular about certain things, but for drastically different reasons? Quickly you go about heating the skillet as Rose heads back to the table after storing both the milk and buttermilk and in moments you have a fresh pile of hot pancakes.

“Rose, do you have any syrup?” You ask as you bring over the plate and set it down, both Rose and Marin giving you a confused look as if you had just asked for jellied eyes. “Uh… Maple syrup, its uh... its collected from certain breeds of maple trees and it uh-” The three of them give you varying looks of confusion or wonder. “Well, I know we have honey at least. I’ll file that one away for later I guess.” You head off momentarily and grab the container of honey out of the cupboard and come back to find everyone’s food plated and the three of them waiting for you.

As soon as you sit, both Marin and Rose grab up your hands and Pekoe likewise doesn’t waste any time offering her hands. And almost immediately you begin thanking God for everything you can think of, primarily the guest and for another nice day before finishing up. And in moments the food is demolished by all four of you, with the three of them complimenting your cooking.

With a heavy sigh you start to get up, you don’t want to as you’d rather take an hour or two to just relax, but you have to get going to work; slowly you begin to tug on your boots. Marin likewise begins getting ready, mostly to help prepare the inn ‘just in case’ and to meet the needs of various diners; likely a matter of pride rather than necessity since Alma had been working there. Slowly you begin to wrap your bible in its protective cloth and begin to place it in your bag when a skittering sound of several tiny feet begins to approach you. As you look up, Pekoe smiles at you sweetly.

“Can I come with you? I-if that’s okay I mean.”

>Religion/Apprenticeship

“Sure, it’ll give us a chance to talk some more about my religion and what you think ‘seeker’,” You answer, smiling at her as you heft the makeshift backpack bag and start to open the front door, “And if you’d like, we could hunt around town for an apprenticeship if you’d like.”. Her face drops for a moment before taking on a determined look and simply nodding to you. Did she not want an apprenticeship? “Well, I’m ready if you are.”

“I’m ready,” She replies and the two of you head off to check in at the guard station. The walk is rather quiet and with the lack of people milling about or paying attention, you figure now would likely be the best time to get some clarification on things if she was worried about communicating things in front of Marin and Rose.

“Pekoe,” You start as the two of you walk along, her eyes locking with yours for a moment, “We’ll be checking in at the guard station, so you’ll likely need to file a report because of… well, you know.” She quickly nods at this, seeming to take on a nervous air. “It’ll be okay,” You add, hoping to reassure her. “The Captain yells at everyone it seems, and Shawna only seems angrily if she’s annoyed; but neither of them will mean anything by it, if they’re even there.” You follow up, unable to help but grin thinking about it. “If it’s Kara though, I think you’ll like her.”

“What’s she like?” She asks curiously, apparently uncaring about the other two who might yell.

“She’s a nice person. Quite friendly and rather warm, being a guard doesn’t seem to suit her at all, but she means well and does a good job.” You answer, Pekoe simply hums in acknowledgement of this; apparently trusting your assessment. The two of you continue in relative silence, aside from the sounds of her many legs, until reaching the station and Pekoe lets out a long and deep sigh. “It will be okay,” your eyes jump over her face and finding her a bit distressed, you offer your hand.

Hazel eyes regard it for a moment before she tentatively takes your hand and squeezes it tightly, pressing close and seeming to shrink in on herself. You can’t help but feel badly about it, but it was necessary overall. Gently you led her forward, towards the door and as you began to open the door you give her a reassuring smile, before leading her in.

The same sets of desks meet you as you had seen before the day before, only this time it's Kara and a few other Mamono you had never met. Immediately the kobold’s eyes catch yours and she smiles brightly and bounds out and around the desk, practically running up to you as her blonde hair messily swings about.

“Anon!” She shouts happily as she does a weird jig in place and for a moment you have no idea what she’s doing, until it clicks. Kobolds are a kind of dog and this was a happy dog dance. You snorted loudly, biting at your tongue savagely to stop from laughing as you fought to not grin like an idiot. “Who’s this?” She asks, stopping the little foot tapping dance as she looks over Pekoe curiously.

“This is Pekoe, the girl I had filed the report about.” You say, composing yourself to a degree, Pekoe looking at you in surprise. Kara’s hands shot out and snagged at Pekoe’s spare hand and began to shake it excitedly as she grinned at the young girl.

“Hell~o,” Kara lets out in a sing-song voice, her tail wagging along happily. “We should talk for a bit, do you want to be friends?” Kara began slowly dragging her back towards the desk area, talking excitedly and asking various questions, before stopping suddenly and looking directly at you. “O-oh, Brunhilde is ready whenever you are Anon.”

“Alright,” You answer cooly, Pekoe looking at you with a touch of concern though the nervousness has fully evaporated. As you move past the two of them you pat Pekoe on the head in a reassuring manner before heading back into the holding area.

As you head down the stairway into the holding area, you can’t help but think of how you had been rudely awakened down there. Your interrogation, confusion, and most importantly Rose; you couldn’t help but have complicated feelings about the small prison, if things played out it’d be where you had first met what hopefully would be one of your wives. You didn’t think Rose would get cold...paws? Though the pessimistic part of your mind certainly harbored a few fears about it, despite what you knew.

“Dere yew are Ahnon,” Brunhilde calls up to you from the base of the stairs, smiling up at you before practically jumping up them three at a time and wrapping you in a tight hug. You’re not even able to get out anything before youre squeezed tightly, your back cracking loudly but in a pleasant way. “Affer ah tol’ the odders dey said dey wuz innerested in ‘earing more all bout yer God, sum even said dat maybe stealin’ ‘usbahnds moight be bad.” Deep purple eyes peer down at you as she smiles happily, still holding you close and tight. “Ah did gud roight?”

You simply nodded, looking up at her and unsure if you should feel elated or simply stressed at the prospect of a congregation of rather ornery and worked up Orcs. Maybe if the town guard promised to help ensure your chastity? How many Orcs were there outside the city walls anyways? Instead of setting you down however, she decided to carry you up the rest of the stairs, regalling you with how worried she had been when you hadn’t come back the day before as well as a general update on the other girls in her clan, specifically which were interested in hearing you out. As the two of you finally hit the top stair she gently set you down, smiling at you as she swishes her fur tuffed tail back and forth.

“Wahtcha fink Ahnon?” Large purple eyes regard you happily, “Ah’ll even make sure dey leave yew be, boss even said suh.”

>Are you trying to trick me?

>Maybe a few at a time

“Depends on if you’re trying to trick me I guess,” You answer as her fur covered ears flop down, not really doubting her general new leaf and newfound desire for subtler husband hunting, “We’ll need to get special permission, I’d rather not be responsible for the raid taking over the city.”

“No, Ah… unnerstahnd.” She responds, starting to fiddle with her nimble fingers and looking a little disappointed.

“That’s not a no Brun,” Her eyes light up as her entire disposition changes, “It just means that today might be slow since we’ll check with Lady Gelen, which I need to do anyways. Okay? I’d like to though, if it’s possible.”

“Dats fair,” She responds, smiling happily as the two of you slowly begin to make your ways back to the front area. Both Pekoe and Kara lookup as you head towards them, each one munching on some kind of sweetbread and you couldn’t help but let out a small laugh; Pekoe looking over Brunhilde curiously.

“Ready to go Pekoe?” You ask, somewhat pleased that her and Kara had kicked it off; though if they hadn’t you might be rather concerned. Kara, while maybe not a very good guard, was a cinnamon roll made live.

“Oi! Wutz all dis den?” Brunhilde asks, eyeing the small centipede girl curiously. “Is she yer sistah?” Pekoe makes a surprised face at this, seeming to choke on her snack, Kara however starts laughing.

“Oh no Brunny, Anon hadn’t even met a Mamono before coming to the city.” Kara interjects quickly and the large Orc simply nods and seems to think about it some more while giving an affirmative grunt. “Pekoe is a seeker and gonna stay with Anon since she’s… um… is it okay if I…?” The kobold reaches out, gently touching her shoulder and giving the small girl a reassuring look.

“I’m a-an orphan,” She manages in a rather small voice, trying not to look at any of you. Instinctively you can't help but reach out and gently pat her head, sighing softly. “I’m not old enough to be on my own,” Hazel eyes glance at you, full of worry, her antenna twitching as you continue to gently pat her head, “I’m only thirteen.”

“It’s okay,” Kara offers, her furry paw still touching at Pekoe’s shoulder. “All of us will help a-and I know Anon will definitely help, a-all of us will.” Kara’s eyes seem to get a bit glassy, apparently becoming more worked up than Pekoe was over talking about it, or had she learned about something you didn’t? You didn’t think it was likely, had it been something truly traumatic Kara didn’t seem the type to be this composed about it.

“Well, are you ready to go?” You ask warmly, pulling your hand away and motioning to the large hunter next to you, “This is Brunhilde, we’ll be watching her for a good part of the day.” Pekoe's eyes dart to Brunhilde, curiosity painting over her face as she notices a similar manacle to your own on her wrist.

“Why?” She asks curiously, eyes lingering on Brunhilde’s manacle.

“Ah uh… dat is, Ah broke sum stuff an uh…,” Her face reddens, causing her rather dusky skin to darken as she refuses to look at anyone and practically fully turns away from you, Kara lets out a bit of a laugh at this.

“What?” Pekoe asks looking between the three of you, the three of you exchanging looks ranging from amusement, embarrassment, and wanting to laugh. Brunhilde looking like she wants to just disappear and seemingly rather ashamed of it all; whether it was because you had bested her or because she really had turned a new leaf, you couldn’t tell. She did deserve some light ribbing, but publicly shaming her and having it be a basis of someone’s introduction would be a bit too far. She wasn’t a bad person.

“Well, Brunny here dec-” Kara starts in, a rather wicked looking grin dancing on her face.

“We’re rather busy, we should get going, c’mon Pekoe.” You interrupt, earning a quick glance from the Orc with a look of relief in her eyes. Kara groans at this and puts on a rather sad look, before her tail starts wagging rapidly.

“We should all hang out later,” Kara says excitedly, everything involving Brunhilde and her crimes completely forgotten. “We could all read your bibble again. Do you think Shawna might want to come?” You can’t help but snort loudly, suppressing a laugh.

“I don’t see why not.” You answer, fighting your face as Brunhilde is already starting for the door and Pekoe slowly starts to get up from her chair. “I’m sure Rose and Marin would like that, if you want you could check in with them about a time?” She simply smiles at this as her tail beats out a rhythm and nods. The three of you made your ways out, Brunhilde holding the door open for you and Pekoe as Kara yelled out a goodbye.

The three of you walk along in general silence, Pekoe apparently mulling over the interactions. As the three of you near the path that should take you back to the house, instead you turn off and begin heading off for the castle; Brunhilde looking on curiously before following and Pekoe simply scittering along.

“Oi,” The large Orc starts, seeming a bit put off to the change in routine, “Whur we goin’?”

“To talk to Lady Gelen, remember?” You remind her, as the three of you round a bend and begin walking past the garden. “I have some things I’d like to ask about, and I won't forget to bring up what we discussed.” Brunhilde just hums out an acknowledgement and continues to follow along.

In a short time, the three of you get to the castle, entered and were waiting in the reception area. It takes only a few moments before Meredith appears to summon you, that you let both Brunhilde and Pekoe know to stay behind, and you head off with her towards Gelen’s office.

The two of you find the horned woman seeming to shuffle a series of books, one of which she made sure to shove to the bottom of her stack as the two of you had entered; her face purple as she fidgeted with the books to a degree while refusing to look you directly in the eyes. Clearly the bottom book was one of her ‘romance’ books you had heard of. Gelen cleared her throat repeatedly, obviously a bit nervous as well as shooting her attendant a rather unhappy look. Had you interrupted her?

“A-anon, it’s uh… nice to see you.” She manages, the greeting itself is warm if not also somewhat awkward. You had to have interrupted her reading time.

“Hello. I uh…,” Your mind suddenly dropping out as you can’t decide what to address first.

>Beached ship, Brunhilde, manacle, Church and adoption/soft lecture on smut

“I think there's a colony of monste-”

“Mamono,” The demoness clicks at you, her eyes glaring at you while dissatisfaction painted her face.

“No.” You corrected, refusing to look away as you peered back, “These aren’t Mamono.” Gelen swallowed loudly at this, her eyes popping open in a touch of shock.

“D-don’t be silly Anon, there hasn’t been any monsters for at least a millenia or so.” She offers as a general rebuttal, her tone carrying a slight nervous undertone; something that made you feel uneasy.

“I dreamed it, Gelen, I changed what was supposed to happen again, but they are still out there somewhere, somewhere near. They could hurt someone else instead or worse.”

“W-w-well… th-that uh…,” She trails off, unsure of what to say in response.

“T-they may not be evil if they’ve been untouched by the Maou’s influence for so long,” Meredith interjects on behalf of her employer, “T-they could be friendly.”. Whether it was to help Lady Gelen save face or to perhaps to deny whatever peppered her own voice with fear for her own sake; you couldn't tell.

“Meredith,” The kikimora eyed you nervously, “What do you think about the centipede girl who was with me in the reception area?” The attendant’s face brightened at the sudden shift in conversation, Lady Gelen however seeming to anticipate where this was going as her’s darkened.

“She was rather polite and seemed quite sweet, sh-”

“I changed things, she wasn’t going to be here today. They are monsters.” Her face drops, color dropping out of her as she registers the words, likely imagining far worse than what you dreamed. “Maybe they could be reasoned with, I don’t know; but I don’t think so.” The demoness only clicks her tongue at this as she pulls a leaf of paper from her desk and begins scribbling things down on it.

“Can you give me any other information about them Anon? Anything at all?” She asks as her voice drips with concern.

“They were on… a boat.” You can’t but help as a confused grimace takes over your face, Gelen simply begins jotting down all that she can. “I think it’s beached somewhere… maybe? It’s rotting, very old. Maybe within a day or three’s distance… maybe somewhat near a road?” You couldn’t really be sure, but it’s not as if Pekoe had an automobile or horse she was using and you doubted the young girl was roughing it through unknown terrain; so it had to be somewhere nearby. Meredith just eyes you, almost even more confused than you are. “I think that’s about it for that, there were other things I wanted to talk to you about. Assuming it’s not too much to ask?”

“Oh no, not at all.” She answers and holds out the note for Meredith, who simply takes it wordlessly and heads off quickly, likely to run it to the guards and to begin warning any trade caravans that may be in the area. “What about? Hopefully something less serious?” Her voice still carrying a touch of the nervous tone from before, though her face is fairly clear of it. You simply nod and relief spreads over her face.

“I know this will probably sound crazy,” The relief on her face immediately drops as her brow furrows, obviously not liking how this was already starting. “I’d like permission to have a very very small group of Orcs,” Gelen simply groans loud and dramatically at this, throwing herself back in her chair, “allowed into town for religious reasons. A handful of them have taken an interest and I’d like to at least try to reach them.”

Lady Gelen just gives you a look that’s a mix between pity and being the kind of tired that sleep won’t fix. A low volume litany of grumbles comes from her as she shifts behind her desk, throwing open a drawer and pulling out what you immediately recognize as a whiskey glass. You can’t help but snort, amused.

“They can’t be that bad,” You offer, unable to control your smile, especially as Gelen grimaced heavily. They were likely worse, but at least in honesty it wouldn’t be malicious troublemaking, just general rowdiness and man-crazed violence. At their core, you knew they were ‘good’, just rather low impulse control girls. “How about the opposite then?” You offer, only for her to furrow her brow before her face shifts to one of surprise, then confusion as her eyes fall to your manacled wrist. The purple sigil on the manacle glowing softly. The bottle she pulled from the desk filled with a semi-luminescent orange fluid, it makes a unique sound as she uncorks it.

“It won’t come off till your married Anon and none of us can take it off,” She answers, slowly pouring the glowing orange liquid into the glass; a sharp, bitter smell stabs at your nose making you shudder. “W-what about Rose, Marin?” Her tone darkens, her eyes beginning to glare at you as she bristles up; her face scrunching up into something judgemental and angry.

“O-oh! No! I uh…,” You recoil a bit in your chair, realizing what she must have assumed. You weren’t here to proposition her, even if you weren’t more or less sworn to them, you weren’t sure if you’d even be interested given your limited and odd interactions with her. “I mean, I think it’s defective. In my dream I didn’t have it and I wouldn’t… I can’t do such things until after being married in my religion.” Gelen seems to relax at this, though her eyes still linger in an accusatory way.

“If so, it’d be unprecedented.” She mutters, bringing the drink up to her face and taking a sip. A mellowed smell like chocolate and cigars assaults your senses, the drink drawing your attention and you can’t help but swallow and breath out a bit heavier to push the scent out of your nose. “But so was your latent dispelling of Rullia’s illusion…,”

“Is there a way to check?” You asked, suddenly realizing that you had never actually asked what would happen if you tried to leave the city while wearing it. The closest you got for an explanation was Morinth telling you that you’d regret it on your first day of being released from the cell. An electric shock? Forcibly paralyzed on the spot? You doubted it could be something excruciating, Mamono didn’t seem the type for that. Lady Gelen swirls her drink, thinking and all you can do is wrinkle your nose in discomfort. What was she drinking? Likely something with mana in it if you had to guess.

“You could always try to walk through the barrier,” She offers before looking up at you with a curious glint in her eyes. “Y-your not going to try to leave, are you? Rose and M-”

“No, I’m not, because of Rose and Marin.” You confessed quickly, face turning red a bit at admitting your feelings aloud to someone else. “It won’t hurt me though, will it?”

“It functions like a wall, so as long as you don’t run into it…,” She trails off, obviously thinking of something as she takes another draw on her glowing drink. “What are your people’s marriage ceremonies like?” Seizing on your confession, her eyes lit up and a small happy expression taking over.

“Well,” you swallow, face starting to burn, “Depending on when the church finishes being built, you’ll probably get to see one.” Gelen slams down her drink, suddenly sitting forward as her large elfin ears twitch.

“Oh~!?”

“Just promise you won’t tell anyone anything yet, okay? I haven’t gotten things ready yet or even said anything to either of them yet.” You couldn’t help but look away as she clearly began to take a more than typical interest, eyes shining.

“W-well, the foundation was just finished and most of the building supplies are collected.” Gelen bites her lips, a slight manic look playing across her eyes that you didn’t like. “I-I’ll have the planner meet with you later today, i-it could be finished at two weeks at the latest. Possibly sooner,” She makes an odd sound, almost as if she’s trying not to drool. “B-but what happens Anon, please?”

You furrow your brow, not sure if you should tell her and feed into what was obviously an unhealthy obsession; whether that obsession was priests, purity, or just anything to do with any kind of devout religious behavior you couldn’t say. You frown as you realize there isn’t much of a proper way to address any of it and start in on your explanation, slowly walking through most of various steps and details, trying not to miss anything. The proposal, engagement and planning, the start of the ceremony, exchanging vows and rings, it isn’t until you finally get to the bouquet toss that the manic look bleeds into something almost desperate and she swallows down the rest of her drink quickly.

“A-and this r-really does predict t-the next marriage?” She interrupts, eyeing you before pouring another large glassful of the glowing drink.

“No. It’s just a cultural thing, mostly done for fun.” You offer as you immediately realize partially what she’s likely after. Lady Gelen only lets out an affirmative grunt, deflating slightly, though the desperate look doesnt leave her.

“W-well, how about we keep that part a secret Anon?” She asks, lips curving into a smile.

“Only if you tell me why.” Gelen turns purple, looking away as she lifts her newly filled glass to her face and takes a long draw from it.

“A boy, er.. M-man! A young man.” She stammers out in an uncharacteristic way, “A-after… w-well that doesn’t matter, I found him w-when I was taking a lunch. H-he was interested in finding out about your religion,” And there it is, “H-he just needs a s-soft nudge and uh… mmm,” Gelen’s ears twitch, turning purple as she trails off. Her obsession is still there as she apparently wanted to create a conspiracy to change some unsuspecting guy’s life and possibly make him believe that they ‘had’ to marry just because of some flowers being thrown. You sighed, not sure what to do; had she been human this would be terrifying and very worrying, but she wasn’t. What could be the harm if it was a Mamono doing such?

“Neither of us are allowed to lie about it.” You state as you give her an accusatory look. “And given what I’ve noticed about you… his interest is more than just passing?” She simply nods at you, before drinking down a large pull of her drink, her face practically entirely purple. “Well, at least this might solve a slight problem I had. It’s not normal for someone to officiate their own wedding…,” You trail off, Lady Gelen’s eyes taking on a misty look and nodding at you fervently with a smile you weren’t sure you liked the look of. The two of you sat in an awkward silence, refusing to look at each other.

“Well,” You start, remembering another issue you needed to know more about, Gelen begins to take a pull from her drink, “How does adopting a child work?” Immediately she spits out her drink, coughing and hacking violently while looking directly into your eyes in shock.

“A-already?! B-but,” She wheezes, coughing loudly as she begins to bang on her chest with a closed fist, “Y-you don’t even have a wife yet and you already want children?”

“It’s not like that,” You respond coolly, feeling a bit silly at the prospect of technically being a single father before even being married or even ever having had sex. This place was making your life strange, but you couldn’t deny that you liked it. “The young girl I mentioned earlier, she’s on her own and needs time and to know that someone’s there for her. She didn’t say yet but… I don’t think things were good for her,”

“I… I could draft up papers for it, we could get everything taken care of rather quickly to be honest. It’d be no trouble.” She offers, seeming to think over what you had stated.

“If you could, just don’t finalize anything. I’ll need to talk to her,” You couldn’t help but crack a grin as you think of the absurdity of it, “I need to talk to her first, and Rose and Marin as well; though I don’t think they’d mind having to marry a single father.” The demoness simply nods at this, seeming to understand.

You turn in your chair, scanning the room to ensure the two of you are still alone before at least touching on something that may need to be addressed. You weren’t entirely sure though. Was lewd and smutty material completely ubiquitous for Mamono? The loaned history book seemed to lend to that, but Meredith and even lady Gelen’s behavior seemed to indicate that there was a problem. Could you even have this discussion in an appropriate way, or would you botch it?

>Mentor/Tactical/kick the habit

“Look, I’ll mentor him if he’s interested, but in exchange you have to drop your.... Hobby.” She swallowed hard at this, eyeing you as her hands slowly slips forward to the books on her desk, touching them slightly. “It’s a crutch for you and I’d rather that things work out overall, instead of you deciding to take refuge in it if there’s any kind of relationship issues.”

“T-there won't be,” She grumbles, looking away from you, and all you can do is sigh.

“Gelen,” You say in a bit more of a serious tone than you had intended, deciding to attack this issue in a rather embarrassing if not unconventional manner, “I used to have… a similar kind of issue.”. The demoness merely regards you, her hand still touching at the stack of books on her desk almost worriedly.

“This better not be a joke,” She mumbles, glaring at you and all you could do was simply shake your head.

“It isn’t.” You answer, wondering at how to explain this to get the point across without having to bring up too much of it. “It’s like an addiction, it seems harmless as you fall into it but over time it's a habit. Slowly it becomes a priority, something to look forward to at the end of the day. Eventually you stop bothering with people, because the habit is ‘better’, easier.”. Gelen locks eyes with you, her face a deep purple as she pours another of the orange drink for herself. “I know the excuses and reasoning, because I had a similar issue. It ruined a lot of things for me, a lot of relationships.”

An uncomfortable silence takes hold as the demon looks away from you, apparently ashamed somewhat, and sips at her drink. An awkward air fills the moment, and you can’t help but noisily clear your throat.

“W-well, if you’d like help I’m available to talk to you about it or you can go it alone if you’d prefer. Regardless though, there are other reasons beyond worrying about him being heartbroken by potentially being replac-”

“I wouldn’t.” She spits out quickly, her face a mix of worry and pain, silence taking hold again as the two of you regard each other.

“There’s also the other problem,” You mention, leading off with a grimace. “This is effectively forbidden, so once he’s been mentored it won’t just be me asking you to drop it.” Gelen gives you a pained look before looking away again. “There’s also the issues of church membership, as I wouldn’t be able to allow it considering this which means you wouldn’t be able to be married and since he’d b-”

“Be a priest as well, he'd only want to marry that way.” She finishes solemnly, staring hard into her drink as she seems to think it over.

“Yes.” You answer, wringing your hands together nervously. “Obviously I won’t say a word since this is a private matter. But he’d likely find out eventually though.” you swallow, your throat feeling dry. “I…,” You choke, not sure what you should say, red eyes regarding you as she sets down the pungent drink.

“I understand.” She responds cooly, chewing on her lip absently while deep in thought. “It’s because it’s a sin in your religion?”

“It’s because sins tend to harm the person engaging in it and those around them that they care about. It’s not just an issue of your soul, but yourself and the connections with people who care about you, or who you’d like to care about…,”

“I will… we will talk more about this.” Her tone is not necessarily angry or worried, but more of a resignation to the situation. Effectively realizing that she was essentially boxed in.

“Thank you for hearing me out about this, I should probably get going so Brunhilde can get some work done.” you manage to mumble out, unsure necessarily what to say in regards to the rest. Gelen looked at you with a slightly shocked look before nodding; was thanking her for the talk going too far? You slowly started to get up from your chair

“It’s… thank you.” She seems to bow her head a touch, staring hard into her drink. As you move to the door, you can’t help but feel like you have to say something however.

“When should I expect...er… what is his name?” Gelen seems to perk up at this, smiling softly, as she looks up at you. Gone is the somber feeling in the air, instead it’s back to feeling somewhat welcoming if not outright hopeful.

“Thom.” She answers, her face lighting up to a light purple, “He’s… well, he won’t be a miller at this rate anyways I guess.”. Part of you worried again at what was very likely some kind of stalking and conspiracy to direct this guy’s life, but on the other hand, what if it wasn’t? Maybe they had an incidental meeting and she had left infatuated, or any other manner of situations and occurrences. Mamono weren’t known for stalking men, were they? Maybe, but you doubted anything truly terrible would result from such, other than an inexplicable amount of ‘luck’ leading to a marriage. “I’ll uh… he should be by in a day or two to talk to you.” You nod, smiling back to her, before heading out.

On your way out you had run into Meredith on her way back, who had let you know in an almost overly serious tone about letting the guards know and that local freelancers would be actively looking; something that both worried and calmed you, strangely. Part of you wished though, that you’d absolutely be wrong, and that the dream was nothing more than a bit of metaphor and your own concerns and worries. You had thanked her and headed off to the reception area to collect Pekoe and Brunhilde.

You had found the two of them excitedly discussing what you assumed, and hoped, was hunting. The large Orc seemed quite proud of how impressed the small girl was as she explained the logistics of ‘ambush’ hunting, only to stop and regard you warily with her purple eyes and the two of them seeming to quiet down at your presence. Please be actual hunting rather than ‘hunting’.

“Ready to go,” You state simply, the two of them nod in their respective manners and with that, the three of you are off. The walk is rather quiet, aside from the two girls continuing their discussion, which thankfully really was just hunting, Brunhilde leading the way with Pekoe at her side.

“See deer senses ain’t loike ours, O-or even ‘umies,” Brunhilde casts a quick glance back at you before turning back to the now enamored younger girl, “but dey ‘ave really gud senses o’ smells, wich complicates trappin’ em.”

“You’ve trapped deer?” You find yourself blurting out after only half listening, your mind somewhat limping around as to why they would do that. You didn’t imagine they were good pack animals, pets, or even worthwhile for anything but their meat. “What for?”

“Oh yah Ahnon,” Brunhilde responds cheerily, a grin playing out on her face. “We takes em back to da enclaves an farm ‘em,”. You furrow your brow at this, confused at the prospect of it, at farming deer. It made a certain amount of sense, to a degree, but seemed like more trouble than it was actually worth.

“That’s kind of interesting actually,” You follow, wondering at the real long term benefit of it. Was long term access to venison really worth it? Maybe the Orcs thought so. Mentally you made a note to see about getting some venison from the raiding party if you could.

“Oi!” She snaps suddenly, eyeing you as if she just remembered something. “Wut did da lady say bout ‘avin somma da girlz come an listenz to ya?”. You smile warmly, starting to chuckle a bit at yourself as you think the meeting over; you hadn’t gotten any kind of committal to anything, just that you could try to walk past your manacles barrier. If you couldn’t, you could always just do a small meeting out where you and Rose had had a picnic, maybe borrowing Shawna or Morinth to help keep you safe. At worst you figured you could probably bring a handful of already married Orcs in, they’d have no real reason to rampage or pillage like their unmarried counterparts.

“It’s complicated Brun,” You answer, “But here, I’ll let you decide.”

>Small work day, test manacle, we all go

“We could do a rather short work day or the whole day, but I’d like to test if my manacle is broken at some point, and depending on things we could head down there or bring them up closer to the city gates, though any kind of talks would be near the end of the day, ” You offer, “I’d like Rose and Marin to come along to keep me safe.” You give her a warm smile as you listed off the various options, her own face blushing darkly at the apparent remembrance of how the two of you met; you had to admit, you had really started to enjoy talking to people about your faith since you had decided to more or less settle down here, maybe this really was what God wanted from you. Just a nice, calm life in a rather quiet Mamono city running a small church and trying your best to fix things and help people while discussing the faith.

“Mabbeh shert an’ all,” She offered, stopping her stroll and eyeing you as her long tail flicked back and forth. “Prolly be best fur dem to coom wiff, cuzza w-well...” she trails off.

“We can do that then,” you nod as the three of you come to a stop and just look at each other awkwardly.

“Why are you guys looking at each other weird?” Pekoe interrupts, eyes jumping between the two of you as she obviously picks up on the awkward air and Brunhilde’s behavior. Brunhilde seems to uncharacteristically cower away from the girl, obviously ashamed by either having been thwarted by you, something else entirely, or by the reformed opinion that what she had done was wrong; you hoped it was the latter. Pekoe’s eyes fixed on you, curiosity brimming over even more due to the boisterous Orc’s reaction.

“Let Brunhilde explain it, when she’s ready. Okay?” You mechanically find yourself patting the small girl’s head without even realizing it, her antenna twitching happily at the touch.

“O-okay,” She answers simply and Brunhilde gives you a somewhat pleased look, though something worried and pained. You knew this couldn’t stand, she’d have to address the issue eventually and move beyond it, did she need to hear it from you? In an instant you decide that you should at least try to help to whatever degree you could.

“Pekoe,” you start as you pull your hand away, her hazel eyes peering into yours, “Would you mind heading to the inn and the meadery to let Marin and Rose know about checking my manacle and seeing about talking to some of the raiders later?” She seems to consider this for a moment, thinking it over.

“I can do that, it’s the mouse inn right?” She asks and part of you wilts inside, you hadn’t recognized it at all when you had first seen it; but then again you were effectively an alien.

“Yes, that’s right. She might be busy but either Maude or Mollie, her sisters, should be there and they’ll let her know if need be.” You couldn’t help but wonder at how she would perceive the two mice women, whether they’d make a good impression on what could, potentially, be their niece depending on Pekoe and your two suitresses; though you were certain it would mostly be up to the small centipede girl. “The work area is literally behind the house, okay?”

“Okay. I’ll take care of it,” She nodded enthusiastically before beginning to scitter off in the direction that would take her directly to the inn first; the large Orc woman simply regarded you warily with a confused look. The two of you watched her go before you started back on the path to head towards the house again, Brunhilde tagging along a few paces behind you.

“Brun, you’ll have to explain things to people eventually.” This only gets you a noncommittal mumble from the large huntress as the two of you keep a good pace. “Is it because I beat you? Because you’re embarrassed that I st-”

“No.” She choked out in a rather pained and small voice that immediately causes you to stop mid stride and turn back to look at her. Her eyes red and glassy, her face screwed up into an expression that made your chest hurt. You swallow, thinking things over as to how to approach this, especially without having her bawling in public; you had no idea how any Mamono walking by would react to that, but didn’t necessarily want to risk anyone making assumptions or serving to further embarrassing Brunhilde.

“Brun,” you offer your hand out to her tentatively, frowning and wondering if maybe trying to confront her on this might not have been a great idea, but at this point it was too late to turn back. “Please don’t cry,” You plead quickly, hand still out stretched, “C’mon, it’ll be okay.”

The large Orc sniffed loudly, wiping at her face, before gingerly taking your hand as you began to lead her towards the jobsite. Despite the callouses and tight knit sinewy muscles, her hand still felt soft and oddly harmless in yours.

“It’ll be okay,” You offered absently, continuing the small trek back towards the house, the only response was another loud sniffle. “Is it because you feel bad about trying to ‘take’ me?”. You only get a quiet, affirmative grunt from the large Orc as she sniffles loudly while the two of you march on; it only takes a minute or two before you find yourself coming round a corner to the front of the house. As the two of you move towards the large hole in the backyard, you can’t help but realize what you had forgotten to tell her; something you had needed to tell her, but had neglected.

“Here, sit down,” you mumbled as you indicated one of the large stones you typically used as a makeshift chair when watching her, an awkward feeling settling through you as began to consider what you had failed to say; the other day having been an opportune time, but it had slipped your mind. Obediently she sat down, seeming a bit more composed then she had been before, her purple eyes regarding you curiously. “I’m sorry.” You start as you look her in the eyes as confusion spread over her face, the two of you nearly at eye level despite her sitting just barely off the ground, “The way you feel about it, the guilt, it’s my fault t-”

“Dats naht true Ahnon, Ah’m da one da-” Brunhilde’s face screws up, her voice strained as she interrupts you and you can’t help but lightly pop her on the top of her head, earning a flinch and her silence. Slowly you just rub at the top of her head.

“Hush. I’m trying to tell you that I forgive you, that I don’t hold it against you.” Immediately she looks away from you, tears starting to well up. “Probably should have said something about it earlier but it kind of….Look you don’t have to hold onto feeling guilty about it. Okay?” This only earns you a hiccup as her large fur tufted hands grasp at your hand, tears starting to drop.

“Howz ya suh good ahnon?” Her tone is completely different from anything you had come to expect from the usually loud Orc, something that was small and weak.

“I’m not Brun.” You answer flatly. You really weren’t ‘good’, even without the theological understandings you had, you knew you weren’t. Sure you tried to be good but it really wouldn’t ever be enough, part of you inherently knowing that at some point you were bound to somehow disappoint. “I’ve done bad things, hurt and upset people, even myself. I’m not good but I know you aren’t bad; you just wanted to have someone to cherish and was just doing things the way all of your people have done things. I know you didn’t mean anything malicious by it.” This earns you a whimper and a loud sniffle from her as she gently squeezes your hand with the two of hers as an awkward silence begins to take hold.

“So, no more feeling guilty or all broken up about it, alright?” This only gets you another sniffle as she looks you in the eyes, “You can be embarrassed or guarded about telling people if you want, but no more guilt over it. You didn’t hurt me and I forgive you.” You smile softly, squeezing back at her hands before pulling your hand away. She hadn’t hurt you, the worst of it having been the embarrassment of the situation and the two women catching sight of your nude body.

“Okay,” She mumbles, her tone somewhat back to what you had begun to expect from her, lively and large. Her purple eyes looking at you expectantly as she wipes at her tear stained face. “Canna… canna ‘ug yeh?”

>Hug her

“Here,” You answer softly, arms held out as you step forward only for Brunhilde to wrap you tightly in her arms; her face buried against your chest as she sniffles loudly. It isn’t quite as crushing as when Rose had giving you a bear hug, but you could definitely tell there was quite a bit of strength in her. Slowly you embrace her as well, patting gently at the top of her messy head of hair and her large furred ears. “It’s okay Brun,” she hiccuped softly, your shirt starting to form wet spots on it.

“Affer everyting,” She starts to mumble into your chest, her grip getting tighter on as she shifts her head to look up at you, “wood ah be able ta seez yeh?”. You can’t help but look at her in confusion, unsure necessarily what she means.

“What do you mean?” you ask curiously, “After what?”

“A-affer fixin dis stuff, affer…,” she mumbles into your shirt, squeezing you again as she sniffles loudly before wiping her face on your shirt, mentally you cringe at this. Pulling away and loosing you from her arms, bright purple eyes regarding you almost mournfully. “D-dey makes yeh ‘appy rioght?” You can’t help but snort at the question, as you try to cover your face to hide your smile. You didn’t want her to imagine you were laughing at her, because you weren’t; it had more to do with how concerned she was over you and the absurdity of it.

Steeling yourself, you peeled your hand from your face and gently grasped at one of her fur covered ears and began to work it gently. Scratching softly, rolling it in your touch, and gently massaging it; Brunhilde lets out a sound and seems to relax at the sensation.

“You’ll get to see me quite often since there’s going to be a church here soon, it’s not like I’ll be going anywhere.” you slowly shift to simply scratching at the large furred ears, “And, yes, Marin and Rose make me happy, you don’t need to worry.” This only earns you a bit a whimper as she starts to pull away from you.

“Ahnon,” She mumbles as she looks you in the eyes. “Ah… itz jus’ dat…,”

“I know,” You answer as you begin to realize more of where this was going and why, “I’m not the only guy in town you know. I know for a fact you could easily meet someone.” This only earns you a bit of grumbling as she looks away from you. In honesty it was hard to imagine any sane man turning her down unless it was an issue of intelligence, but even then you knew that was negotiable for some people. “Besides, you’re stuck here until you finish filling in the mess you made and paying it off; so you might as well start putting down roots.” This only gets you an even grumpier grumble, the tears and sniffling apparently forgotten.

“D-dats not fair Ahnon,” Brunhilde spits while quickly standing up, fidgeting as she moves away and begins grabbing up a shovel. “Ah… cant jus…,” she huffs loudly and immediately she begins to work on throwing shovelfuls of dirt into the large hole.

“Pekoe seemed rather taken with you, Kara enjoys talking to anybody,” You offer, the large Orc who only continues to shovel quietly, “Marin would probably like to be friends and Rose… you’d probably have to apologize to first, b-”

“Cuz offa yew?” She stops, turning to face you with a mournful look.

“Slightly, but mostly because of the house damage.” You couldn’t help but grin, the humor of it coming through now that it had been some time. “I’m sure she doesn’t hold wanting someone to have against you.” Brunhilde seems to consider this for a moment, her forehead wrinkling up. “I wouldn’t mind being your friend Brun,” you add, causing her to look away from you in embarrassment. “I know that things aren’t ideal, but please just give things a chance.”

Brunhilde seems to regard you for a moment before her eyes light to something behind you, likely Pekoe having finished her errand. It isn’t until her face looks somewhat shocked that you turn to see who is there behind you; only to find both Rose and Pekoe. Was Brunhilde scared of Rose? You had half caught Rose confronting the shoggoth who had been assigned to you, maybe she had done the same to the poor Orc after she had recovered from being knocked out? It could be that she had, you’d have to talk to her about it, you couldn’t have her going about threatening people over you; if it was over the house, it was somewhat understandable however, but would still need a talking to over it.

“I’m back,” Pekoe announces as the two large women eye each other for a moment, Pekoe seemingly oblivious to it. Oddly there doesn’t seem to be any kind of tension to it, just a cold regard not unlike what you’ve seen boxers do before a fight.

“Welcome back,” You answer warmly, hoping to at least distract the two from the small staring match, “Marin’s all tied up at the inn then?”

“Yup,” The small girl replies, scittering closer and settling on the rock as a perch to sit on. As an awkward silence sets over the situation she begins to pick up on it as the two women continue their staring match. You had to do something, and quickly.

“Brun,” You start a touch of worry starting to set it. What if they started fighting? How were you supposed to stop a nearly eight foot tall bear woman and nearly seven-ish tall Orc from brawling if it started? Would cold water work? Obviously getting between them would be a mistake, not that either of them would intentionally harm you, but a misplaced punch could be pretty bad; easily far worse than anything you and your stupid friends had done while boxing while drinking. “Wasn’t there something you needed to tell Rose?” Blue and purple eyes regard you before snapping back to each other and realizing you need an out and having Pekoe around for whatever they may discuss wouldn’t be ideal, you motion to the small girl as you head towards Rose, a small errand bubbling up into your head. You still had to check on rings as well. “I just realized I forgot to grab some stuff at the market, would you like to help Pekoe?”

“Hamburgers?” the young girl’s face lights up as she hops off the stone and you can’t help but let out a snort as you tried not to laugh.

“No, but we can definitely make something else.” As you neared Rose you touched gently at her forearm, looking up at her face as you whispered as subtlety as you could, “be nice please, we’ll talk about things later.” As you start to pull away she leans down and kisses you on the top of your head and you and Pekoe begin to head off toward the market area.

“So what sort of foods do you usually like?” You ask as the two of you make your way towards the market area. She seems to consider this for a moment, face screwing up in concentration as she scittered along next to you.

“Well sweets are nice.” She states matter of factly.

“Howabout for dinner in specific?” You couldn’t help but start to chuckle, earning you a bit of a frown from the girl.

“Hamburgers.” Hazel eyes bore into you as her antenna twitched about.

“Alright then, I’ll come up with something myself that I’m sure you’ll like.” You let out a more hearty laugh before rolling through a set of things in your head that you could reasonably cook. Either something straightforward or perhaps something complicated, regardless you wanted to make sure it at least impressed as much as the burgers had. Gumbo? It would definitely strike a cord, though you weren’t sure if anyone even knew what okra was. Mustard crusted fish with capers? Same issue but for capiers, what even were they? Just another set of things to ask Marin and Rose about. Perhaps a simple roast would be best? As the two of you come round along the walkway towards the marketplace you finally take note and notice that the jewelers are on the opposite side from the grocers; something you had never even realized till just now. “Pekoe, can you....uh...promise you won’t say anything about this?” You ask as you head over to the jeweler’s storefront, Pekoe’s face nothing but confusion for a moment before giving way to a bright grin.

“Oh! You're going to get jewelry?” Her eyes seem to shine at this as the two of you approach the store. “For who? Is it Mrs. Rose’s birthday or… maybe Mrs. Marin’s?” For a moment you’re confused, as you stop and stare at Pekoe trying to process what she just said, only for it to snap into place. None of you had bothered to explain actual current living arrangements of the lot of you, and why, after she had assumed various arrangements.

“Not quite.” You answer as you wonder how to explain things, hoping it won’t cause more problems than you already have. “It’s ah...its for the wedding, Marin and Rose and I, we aren’t married yet.” Pekoe’s face takes on a shocked look, her antenna sticking ramrod upwards in a dramatic fashion.

“But… I thought...There isn’t anything wrong is there?” She asks conspiratorially, something that besides the absurdity of it, planted another seed of worry in your mind about the circumstances of her being alone. Was it just the innocent assumption of something in general, or a question about something a child her age shouldn’t be thinking about? You had no choice but to run with the former for now, the small girl didn’t seem to indicate anything otherwise.

“No. Just them teasing me over you assuming things.” You smile at her, trying to be reassuring, but also at the memory. “What do you mean by something wrong?” You venture, halfway bracing yourself for something that’d either be soul crushing, middle of the ground, or something you shouldn’t laugh at.

“It's just that… I know that usually if a man is living with a Mamono, they’re married.” Her antenna twitch, as she looks away from you.

“Well the Orc raid kind of changed that,” you mention, “Ideally I wouldn’t be living there until we were married for religious reasons, but Rose and Marin were rather concerned; and after the tunnel got dug into the side of the house I don’t think they’d let me leave a-er…,” You trail off, swallowing, realizing you probably shouldn't say much more.

“I… promise I won’t say anything,” Pekoe leads, tenting her fingers as she looks at you, “But only if I get a hamburger.” You couldn’t help but snort loudly, biting your lip as you fought to not laugh while trying to put on a stern face.

“Tomorrow, okay?” Maintaining a rather serious face while realizing that the small girl is apparently a foodie, or at least an American citizen in training. “For now, we need to figure out what to have for dinner for a cover story and at the very least get an estimate on a set of rings. So, what do you think about...

>Gumbo

“Gumbo. It’s kind of like a soup… well, maybe not.” involuntarily you begin to make a confused face, having issues trying to describe the food. “Is it a soup?” You ask yourself for a moment, starting to get lost in thought, Pekoe’s antenna twitching as a perplexed look played over her face. “Yeah… I think it’s a soup, though a bit heavier and thicker than usual soups.”

“I dunno…,” Pekoe trails off as a response, making a bit of a face.

“Trust me, it’s better than hamburgers.” This gets you a surprised look from the small girl with a hint of eagerness beneath it. She had to be a bit of a foodie, or perhaps that was slowly becoming your fault. “Now c’mon, no tattling about this. Okay?” You motion and begin to head for the opened doorway of the jeweler’s store with Pekoe trailing after you.

As the two of you head in, you can’t help but be impressed at the array of goods and even moreso at the fact that right there in front of you is a man actively working on a ring in a stand, a handfile in hand as he grinds away at the metal though his back is to the door. Criminal activity almost nonexistent concept in this city. Various other kinds of jewelry stares at you from various stands, some of which you can’t even necessarily recognize. Necklaces, earrings, various rings in shapes and sizes, what appear to be bracers though much too small to even fit around a child’s wrists, odd curling strips of gold and silver with gems embedded, and even what you could only assume were adornments for ears all shined in the soft muted light of the shop as the man worked. These couldn’t be what they appeared to be however, the first time you had even spoken to Rose had seemingly implied such; fine metals for such things was considered overly extravagant and only the very rich wore fine metals. So what were these things?

“Hey Dad,” You whirl to see a young boy apparently having followed the two of you in, his face is bright and seems to be missing a few teeth in the all too common way that overly rambunctious boys tend to have; just based on looks alone and his somewhat stringbean frame, he couldn’t be much older than ten. Messy brown hair, sharp eyes, and clothes that bear the telltale sign of typical boyhood mischief. Perhaps you were wrong, perhaps he was the door guard for the shop or at the very least a rather noisy apprentice. “There’s a guy here and a.. Um… okkie… uh, legs. Lotsa legs bug…?” Pekoe immediately turns back, shooting him a rather scalding look.

“Oomukade.” The older man corrects, handfile raised up in the air for a moment which he waves in a chastising manner at his son, an unamused look on his face. “I’m sorry about that, he’s young.” The man offers sheepishly as he quickly regards the two of you, a hand running through messy brown hair almost nervously, the boy heading off behind the work counter and into the back, “Are you looking for anything in particular, maybe something for your daughter?” He asks as he slips into being a salesman.

“I uh… t-that i-” Pekoe starts nervously, looking at you only for you to gently pat at the top of her head, silencing her as she begins to blush in embarrassment, though leaning into your touch as her antenna whipped about.

“Not at this time,” You state warmly, somewhat enjoying the slight freak out caused by the assumption. How would she react in being asked if she’d like the adoption paperwork filed? Part of you hoped it would be a similar thing, just a general embarrassment and slight joy, nothing too heavy. “Actually just here to get a general idea of cost on rings, so I’ll be able to budget properly. Haven’t bought rings before so I have no idea what to expect price wise,” You answer diplomatically, failing to lie about the situation but also not correcting the salesman.

“Ah,” He quips back quickly, assuming whatever it was that sprung to his mind before launching into a speel about the various costs based on materials, size, and amount of detail on each piece. As far as you could gather, at least from basic context, jewelry basically was only utilized for anniversaries or other big events, a few of the pieces that sat behind the counter gave notions towards a few other things. The seemingly impossible materials weren’t gold, silver or even platinum; but instead quicksilver, dwarves’ gold, and a series of various other alloys with all the ‘gems’ being nothing but various natural, oddly, overly beautiful stones. After some general examples you realized you could likely already afford both if you opted for a bronze alloy, but for your own sake you couldn’t stand the idea of getting anything short of dwarves’ gold for both rings. “So, what do you think?”

“I think I’ll have to come back in the future,” You admit a bit dejectedly though relieved to a degree that your goal is in sight, and achievable. “But I will be back.” This earns you a grin from the salesman who simply offers his hand, which you gladly shake.

“Or you could do a deposit and we could work out the details until they’re paid off,” He offers back cooly, the suggestion stabbing at your origin and making you immediately worry at the motivations; but then again the prices weren’t exactly unreasonable. Was usury illegal, or at least uncommon, in Mamono culture? “I could get the agreement written up and ready for review by tomorrow and we could work out any general issues overall.”

“I guess that would be doable,” you offer, realizing that this likely would be something akin to a commission rather than a pseudo-loan.

The rest of the conversation was rather straightforward and each step of the way left you feeling as if there wasn’t anything at all to worry about. Part of you had to keep reminding yourself that this place wasn’t your home, while there was likely cruelty and needless things in this world you couldn’t help but seriously doubt that it even came close to what you were acclimated to. Saying general goodbyes as You and Pekoe began to head out, you can’t help but notice the boy reappear and for the two children glare at each other for a moment.

“Okay,” You state as you try to mentally list off various items that should be found in gumbo. “We have tomatoes, flour, and chicken; so all we need at this point is okra, a specific kind of sausage, rice, and possibly shrimp if we could find them… assuming they’ll have them here.”

“Shrimp?” Pekoe asks, following you along across the small walkway.

“It’s a crustacean, guess they’re kind of uncommon here just based on the climate. Maybe Okra too.” You answer as you think over things, wondering how you might be able to salvage things if you aren’t able to get enough of the general items you need. “Oh well, we’ll just try our best.” Pekoe just nods at your mumblings and poor explanation.

As the two of you go about the small open market stores you quickly find rice like grains and after a quick check, go ahead with a purchase of it. Strangely you found something resembling andouille sausage rather quickly, though no shrimp. It isn’t until you find the okra, or what you assume is okra, that you're given pause. Large, sickly yellow with purple stripes; it doesn’t sit well with you.

“Is this okra?” You ask the vendor, a rather plump looking woman with a heavy set of brown fur, a thick striped tail, and a pseudo-facemask. A raccoon? Some foods were strange here, that had slowly become apparent, so these oddly colored oversized vegetables very well could be. Pekoe grabbed at your arm gently, crowding close to you almost as if she was nervous.

“How many do you want?” Your question answered with a question, her eyes suddenly alight at the prospect of making a sale.

“Well that depends on if they’re okra.” You reply, part of you realizing that these may just be demon energy enriched okra, which meant you likely wouldn’t be able to eat any; at least with any company other than Rose or Marin. Assuming the flavor of the vegetable wasn’t somehow altered by the energy, something that very well could be an issue if the cobbler was any indication.

“Oh yes, definitely. seven for a coin, so how many would you like?” The odd woman’s eyes still alight with the possibility of a sale as she looks at you eagerly.

>Test one

“Would it be okay to test one?” You ask, “I’ve never seen okra that looks like this though and would like to make sure it’ll be okay, I could buy just the one if its an issue,” you offer quickly, unsure if the request would be considered rude; you had done limited amounts of food shopping since arriving, but most of that had been in the human kingdom and hadn’t required any taste testing. The odd racoon woman doesn’t seem phased by the request at all and simply snags one, holding it out to you.

“Fine, six in your first batch though.” She answers, her tone clear and sure, eyes still alight with what could only be the assured idea that she’d make a sale. Part of it was unnerving, the jeweler hadn’t been like that at all.

Tentatively you reached out took the odd looking vegetable and despite its odd coloring, its skin and texture at least were correct. Slowly you bit into it, you know it won’t be indicative of much since it isn’t cooked, but as long as it was close enough to normal okra you’d know. And immediately, you knew, your mouth immediately lit up with an electric shock as your tastebuds buzzed and an explosion of what was beyond the expected savory, slimy vegetable. Besides the added kick however, it was exactly as it was supposed to be. You gave a reassuring smile and quickly swallowed before reaching for your money.

As soon as the money leaves your hands as you exchange for a fairly conservative amount of the veggie, you feel an immediate weird warmth in your gut as your vision seems to oversaturate and colors bloom. Why did I just eat that? Dutifully, Pekoe grabs up the two small twin bound bundles of okra and tucks them under one of her arms. You do your best to smile and not indicate that anything is the matter however, while trying to quickly conclude everything. It isn’t until you begin to leave the store that things start to get worrisome.

Immediately you find yourself one somewhat unsure ground, almost as if you suddenly found yourself on a boat on rather rough waters. You knew, to a certain degree anyways, that the various differing kinds of items that carried demon energy would affect you differently but you hadn’t anticipated this at all. At least it wasn’t something truly embarrassing or even worse, incapacitating; at worst you’d likely have to send Pekoe to fetch Rose and be carried home like a sack of potatoes. Or worse, bridal carried.

“Is something wrong?” Pekoe asks curiously, sidling up next to you as you fight to walk in a normal manner. For some reason you can hear her various legs scittering and shifting as if amplified somehow.

“Mabbe,” You mumble, your mouth and lips fighting against you as they refuse to function properly. You reach out a hand to Pekoe, which she takes readily and you try to stabilize yourself as the two of you slowly head off. “Sensivvity tuh sum shtuff,” You manage, your tongue and lips feeling somewhat numb as you work on uneven sealegs.

“Will you be okay?” Concern clear in her voice, whether it was specifically for you or the worry of having to carry you, you weren’t sure but definitely didn’t blame her if it was the latter.

“Yuh,” you mumble out, stumbling a little before quickly righting yourself. This only earns you a worried glance and you try to grin at her to reassure her, obviously it didn’t land right as Pekoe only seems to adopt an even more worried look. “Itsh be hookay. Prommiss. Juz need ta resht.”

“I-if you're sure,” she replies, the sound of worry edging in while she tightens her grip on your arm with her rather small hands, trying to steady you. The walk is slower than you like, and somewhat embarrassing to a degree, but it’s eventually accomplished and you can’t help but silently offer a silent thanks to God that nothing happened; not that you necessarily thought anything would, but who knew? A partially incapcitated, chaste man stuck in a city full of semi-sex obsessed women was bound to be a recipe for disaster. The two of you head directly into the house, your general idea being that if you weren’t somewhat recovered soon, you’d have someone check in with the guards about Brunhilde and go see the Orcs tomorrow.

But as you step shakily into the house while hanging onto the door for dear life as the ground shifts beneath you, you can’t help but be surprised to see Rose and Brunhilde at the kitchen table with a steaming kettle nearby. Each of them having a drink before them as they both stare at you by the door, concern painting over both of their faces; whatever issues between them seemingly set aside for something more amicable. Axe buried. Gently Pekoe grasps at your arm to help steady you again as you shuffle forward more into the house.

“Oi! Wutz all dis den?” The large Orc mutters out, her usual loud voice and tone apparently back.

“Oh!” Rose begins tapping her claws together nervously, looking between everyone before locking eyes conspiratorially with you and biting her lip as she tries to think up how to address this. “I-is it your uh… food intolerance a-again Anon?” Her voice cracks nervously as she hops up and quickly strides over to you, grabbing you up from Pekoe’s grip.

“Yuh,” you let out, relaxing into the large and gently touch of your bear-woman. “Ashident ett summin weerd,” mumbles out of your numb mouth, various colors in your view blooming brightly. In particular the bright blue of Rose’s eyes seem to shine and catch your attention and you can’t help but feel your face burn involuntarily over nothing.

“Come on then,” She easily hefts you, lifting you into her arms and easily carrying you over to the couch. In moments you're placed down on it gently, one of her large fuzzy paws touching at your chest as she kneels down and seemingly feigns going through the process of ‘checking’ you. “No more eating anything enriched with mana, at least unless you’re home and safe.” She whispers to you before kissing your forehead and pulling away and heading back to the table; Pekoe and Brunhilde stare at you, likely because they were unsure if you really would be okay.

“I guess this means we won’t be having gumbo then,” Pekoe states dejectedly as she holds up one of the bundles of okra.

“Goomba?” Brunhilde asks in an almost confused tone, Rose also having much the same look.

“Soop, cook labber.” You offer from the couch. Slowly you fold your arms over your chest, the ground no longer shifting beneath you but the colors of so many things still seeming over saturated. Slowly you shut your eyes and focus on your breathing. Unlike with the dual fruit that made you rather touch hungry, whatever the mana enriched okra was doing seemed to be helping as a sleep aid. Faster than normal, you drift off rather quickly and without meaning to.

In seconds you’re roused from an unwaking abyss as something pats against either side of your face. As your eyes pop open you catch sight of Marin staring down at you with an amused look, her hands patting your cheeks.

“Finally awake sleepyhead?” Her tone is bright as her lips curl up in a soft smile, “Feeling better?” Her small hands trace over the edges of your jaw momentarily before you start to work on sitting up.

“Yes. How long have I been sleeping?” You ask as you begin to rub at your face, trying to wipe the sleep away.

“It’s barely even been an hour or so,” Marin’s claw like nails line the sides of your neck as she suddenly kisses you rather gently. “So don’t worry. We can still get everything done that you’ve apparently planned for the day, dinner may end up being a bit later though since you're the only one who knows how to cook… gumbo, right?” You nod, looking around the room as you slowly worked on waking, only to find the two of you alone.

“Where’s everyone else?” Spills out.

“Out in the backyard,” her hands find their way to your scalp and slowly begin to run through your hair. “What did you do to get Rose to make nice with the big bad Orc?” She asks with a hint of mirth.

“I just encouraged Brun to apologize is all,” you mumble as you move to get up, “Small things like that can go a long way.” This earns you an affirmative hum as she heads over towards the kitchen.

“Well, since you're settling into being a good house-husband,” Small cords of split wood get tossed into the stove, Marin’s soft blue eyes peering at you. “Why don’t you come over here and start dinner and tell me why you want to be a dad so badly,” there isn’t a hint of any kind of annoyance or anger, only warmth and a playful tone that you knew meant she was going to relentlessly tease you about this.

>Reveal plans/she needs parents

“Pekoe… She needs structure. Parents to take care of her.” You state plainly, drawing a shocked look from Marin and a light blush as she bumbles about, trying to start the stove while not looking at you. “I meant to ask the two of you later but… seems like the surprise is ruined. Don’t tell Rose just yet,” You approach the stove, eyeing the various ingredients you had bought on the nearby counter. In moments the stove is alight and Marin simply regards you, face burning as she clearly placed the pieces together.

“So you were serious about going about things your way,” She mumbles out, leaning back against the counter. “N-not that we would have forced you or anything.”

“Yes I was serious,” You answer plainly, unable to resist from smiling at the large mouse as you pull a skillet from the wall. “Can you get me some flour and oil?” Marin nods and sets about retrieving the ingredients dutifully. “What, did you think I’d just give in one day an-”

“Y-yes.” Marin cuts in, eyeing you for a moment, before presenting a container of flour and a small bottle of oil. Gently, you place the skillet on the stove to allow it some time to heat up.

“I’ll be honest,” you state while staring at her, watching her large round ears flick as she fiddles somewhat with her tail, which was wrapped around her waist. “I was rather tempted to just give in a few times and…,” you trail off, trying to think of what to say to further explain while also trying to make sense of what you could remember in terms of the gumbo recipe.

“Oh!” She exclaims, face stretching into a devious smile as she pulls away from the counter. In an instant herlean fingers are curled through your hair as her tail whips out and wraps around your waist. “And did we wear you down then? Got you to the point where you’re willing to beg?” her voice drips with mirth as her bright eyes peer into yours.

“Hey, let’s focus on dinner.” You say, your own face starting to burn, “And it’s not begging.”

“Aren’t you supposed to get down on your knees when you ask?” Her voice taking on a husky tone while her eyes seem far more cat-like than a mouse’s had any right to.

“Marin,” you can’t help but feel embarrassed and a touch worried about the future, she wasn’t necessarily wrong. Part of you was certain there’d be a whole slew of other mamono and prospective husbands who’d likewise wouldn’t necessarily be ‘wrong’ too. She smirks momentarily before letting you go, her tail however doesn’t loose you. “Besides, it’s not like that… I just.. I want to stay with the two of you. You're both warm and sweet, I want to make both of you as happy as you make me.”

“I know,” She says, giving you a quick peck on the lips, “Now show me how to cook this.” the small bottle of oil gets handed to you, Marin’s eyes bright and curious.

The two of you start in on making the roux as you work on explaining how to prepare it and what it’s for. From there you had tasked her with chopping the various vegetables, including your newly acquired okra, the sausage and picking through Rose’s cooling chest for leftover chicken. From there the two of you snagged a large pot, tossing in the roux and vegetables and a container of stock while you take the sliced sausage and begin browning it. Pepper, salt, and something resembling paprika go into the soup mix since you’re missing the various spice mixes from back home. Next another pot to begin cooking the pseudo-rice you had picked up. The two of you go over how it’s supposed to be plated, or in this case, bowled.

“Are you sure you’ll be okay with it by yourself?” you ask curiously, not necessarily concerned that she’d burn anything; just unwilling to let go of your kitchen work.

“I’ll be fine,” She chides, shooting you a look as she pushes you gently from the kitchen, “Besides, I’m sure the three of us will have quite a bit to discuss later tonight. So go take care of things and I’ll take care of this.”

“Okay,” and with that you sigh, trying to relax as you head over to the front door; your bag readily there, bible still safe and secure inside. Snatching it up you turn and stare at her for a moment, watching her sway and with a bit more of a bounce to her movements. It doesn’t take long for your staring to be noticed.

“Anon,” She chides again, eyes boring into you, but despite the things her tone is playful rather than serious.

“I’m going, really.” You reply, hefting your makeshift backpack up and on, “I just… I love you.” you feel yourself blush at admitting it aloud, something you should have probably said sooner to both of them. Marin simply smiles at you warmly, her eyes seemingly brighter than they’d ever been.

“I love you too,” She says softly, “Now go on.” You hum an affirmative as you step out the door.

As you came around the side of the house, you weren’t particularly shocked to see what you did but it was still surprising. The axe was apparently completely buried and forgotten. Rose stood by with a shovel, helping to fill the hole while Brunhilde also shovelled in dirt; Pekoe perched on your sitting rock. If anything the two seemed downright friendly, talking about something in warm tones.

“Anon!” Pekoe lets out suddenly, spotting you and hopping up as she begins scittering over. The two women look at you, Rose with a touch of relief and Brunhilde with concern. “Are you doing better?”

“Yes, much better now.” You give a reassuring smile, which seems to calm the centipede-girl and Orc.

“Well Anon,” Rose speaks up as she slots the shovel into the ground, “Are you still up for the plans that you apparently made?”

>Yes, but I need to take of something first


1181 Hits, 4 Comments

Anonymous

I will pay you to complete this

Anonymous

Thread 2 ??

freedom41

This was great, one of the iconic MGE fics that I have read to date.

Anonymous

Eagerly waiting for part two, one of the more interesting and well written monster girl fanfics.