The City beyond (Thread1)

By spurg

Half burdened with sleep you stumble slightly towards your bed, fumbling about with your hands you find the key and begin to turn, tightening the mattress. The modest apartment’s walls seem to loom and close in on you, though it may be the sleep wanting to take you. You had, after being whisked away to this realm, slowly become the same kind of tired you were in your native realm where towers of steel screamed up into the sky and machines slowly stole men’s futures; the kind of tired that sleep wouldn’t fix, but now only the sleep matters.

You weren’t like the other humans who had appeared on occasion or in the past, that much was immediately apparent. Sorcerers, swordsmen, men archetyping aspects of weird tales and gaining titles, land, and women; you however sought something different, something impossible in the prior world given its structure, to make a real difference. It had started simply enough, some minor artificing and sketches while applying for patents and that had quickly turned into yelling for hours during council meetings on what the kingdom should look at doing as a means of improvement.

The money was nice, as was the sort of pseudo-fame your defacto position and renown seemed to generate to a particular degree; though overall the mere act of being a magical medieval kingdom’s equivalent of the mundane’s elongated muskrat was definitely starting to grate.

Generalized education for child citizens as a means of ensuring a better skilled workforce in about a decade? Screaming match with a gaggle of various guild leaders who rely on child labor. New interlocking masonry for buildings and perfectly smooth cobblestone roads? All the Golems in the kingdom take extreme offense, a few wayward bricks still occasionally fly through your windows and a certainty that anything you might have requiring stonework will never happen. Overhaul of the treasury to ensure lower taxes throughout the kingdom? Danukis closed your bank account, and you were forced to take up “banking” with a shady vampire.

So now you’re tired, and the sleep is calling. At every turn you tried to do what was best for the long term of the kingdom you found yourself in, and more often lately you found it harder and harder to fix things; even when the cost came from your own pockets. Finishing with the key, you flop unceremoniously onto the bed and sigh loudly. Slowly there’s only the slight feeling of the turn of the earth beneath you, then the muffled sounds of what nightlife Komin city had, and then finally nothing but your own slow, rhythmic breathing until the black embraced you.

>Sleep

In an instant you tumble forward jumping from near slumber and immediately, painfully contact your head against a cool set of tiles. Sounds and voices assail you, and you realize quickly that you are not in your small, cozy albeit medieval styled Komin city apartment. Gone is your bed, the welcoming warmth, and oddly enough the need for a deep sleep.

Sitting up and touching at your head and the now forming bump on it, you scan your environment as you seek greater context. Hadn’t you just gone to bed? All around you the ground is formed of neatly arranged hexagonal tiles who’s grout seams are flawless and flush with them, behind you a fountain and its pool ledge which presumably what you had just fallen from, and arranged around you are odd perfectly rectangular lamp posts marking the area, all of which glow with a soft unobtrusive light and follow an overly symmetrical pattern. The fountain itself isn’t anything overly spectacular but as a general centerpiece to what looks as if an entire city has been built up and around it, the only thing breaking the symmetry and look being a single metallic if not crystalline tower streaking high into the sky, it adds a concept of wonder to what would be a somewhat normal back home. Back in the purely mundane. Scanning further, your mind begins to reel against the realization that there are no stars in the sky nor other celestial objects. There isn’t enough light pollution from the lamps to do this, where the hell am I?

Vaguely you’re aware of a few figures of others around you, but the sudden shift to a place that reminded you of home created an almost mournful sense of nostalgia for your long displaced home. Soft lights light glass like obsidian roadways, semi-modernist looking buildings rising against the skyline, and yet there are large areas of grassways and trees dotting everywhere; nature and city balanced perfectly throughout. Your eyes get lost, soaking in the view of something you thought you’d never see again since being whisked away to a realm with magic and monsters.

A hand grabs at your shoulder, wheeling you around as you fall back into sitting on the fountains pool ledge and for the first time since your sudden waking you actually hear the sounds around you. The sounds of the running fountain water, its gurgles, and soft voice.

“Hey, can you hear me? Are you okay?”

>Other (Specify) cherry

While a touch of panic had begun to take you as you began to worry that you had again been somehow whisked away to an even stranger land, relief washes over you as you look at the face that belongs to the voice. Sharp angular horns jut out from a head of full of long jet black hair, black sclera making the sharp red eyes seeming almost to glow in contrast when compared to the blue-purple skin that frame them and set behind large circular glasses, and a sweet almost overbearingly painful smell assaulted you; images of homemade pies, warmth and welcoming coming with it.

“Uh, yeah… I’m fine.” You reply looking up at her from the fountain ledge. Her appearance wasn’t necessarily atypically for a Demon from what you had heard of though was considerably more shapely and had the look of being softer and bouncier than the finest flan; her clothes however were. It was a simplistic creme colored sundress, and though the bit of a tight fit on her rather large chest the way it billowed about her legs and kept most of the rest of her hidden undeniably had its own special appeal, her spaded tail and lightly folded wings added to this rather than any sort of feeling of menace. Weren't demons supposed to be somewhat intimidating? You wouldn't rightly know, this was the first one youd seen in person. The smell washes over you again as you look over her, cloying and somewhat overwhelming. “Do you happen to know where we are…?”

“Nope,” She responded nonchalantly, tucking an errant bit of hair behind her ear, “Where were you, you know, before?” Her eyes flick over you and somewhat unlike when you had first arrived in monster lands, you don’t feel them touching you hungrily, but they do seem to linger for longer than necessary.

“My apartment er ….Komin City,” You list off and her eyes go wide, surprise painting her features.

“That far away? I was in Threstis,” She responds, and now the surprise is yours. Threstis lay on the exact opposite of the country, some odd thousand units away and taking well over a week to travel by conventional carriage. Just as this realization began to light your mind, she turned away quickly and began waving to some of the other figures who were off at a distance, “Hey, over here. This guy is from Komin,”.

Turning back to you she smiled at you, no hint of anything other than general happiness, and promptly sat next to you on the ledge. And again, the same smell began to assault you; there was no unpleasantness to it, rather quite the opposite, the smell of it driving your mouth to water just a bit. Cherries.

“Im Meryll Azrinel by the way, what’s your name?”

DIRK/PEACH/PLASTEEL

“Dirk,” You reply and offer your hand in what is only a few thousand years worth of genetic behavior, to which she just stares at somewhat before breaking out in a wide grin.

“OHo~! Mister Dirk, how forward of you! Is this what they call love at first sight?” Meryll’s voice is full of saccharin joy with a heap of smug, you can feel your face beginning to burn a bit. “I guess its true what they say about you otherworlder men, so re-”

“No, that's... not it. Just reflexive behavior is all, I didn’t mean anything by it. Sorry.” You say looking away, off in the distance you can see some of the others she had just moments before called out to. A minotaur, a lizardwoman, and a few other forms that you can’t quite make out.

“I know so no apology needed, and with reactions like that I’ll definitely have to tease you more.” She grins slyly at you and it shows even in her sharp red eyes, her tail swishing back and forth almost as if dancing. “If you want though, you could apologize through a deed…” she leads off.

‘Great, this is how it starts,’ Is all that swims through your mind, curiosity driving things at this point.

“Alright, shoot.”

“Well Mister Dirk, you’re a bit of a celebrity of sorts in certain circles given the kinds of trouble you stir up,” She leans closer to you on the fountain pool ledge, the smell of cherries claws its way into your throat almost drowning you. Why do her lips look so soft? “What's with the fake name?”

“Ah,” You start, looking away. “It's a bit of a superstition of sorts… basically certain kinds of magic shouldn’t work if the name of the subject isn’t known. It should misdirect them and make such useless… or that's the idea, anyways.”

“Interesting,” suddenly she’s leaning into your space again, her spade tipped tail tapping on your other side as a hand of hers touches lightly at your knee. “So hypothetically, if we made a pact right now Mr. Dagger, you don’t mind me calling you that do you? Dirks are daggers, and I’m sure youre pointy enough, but anyways you should be able to violate that pact without consequence right?” The inflection of her voice changes somewhat, sounding a bit more alluring than it maybe should as your face begins to burn. Her eyes seeming to smoulder into you.

“Hypothetically,”

“Well,” She starts, “I am right here. We could do a little itty-bitty pact and see what happens, aren’t you curious to find out?” All you can smell is the overwhelming smell of overly sweet, possibly fresh baked cherry pie. Her hand on your knee squeezes gently as her eyes bore into yours. “Or maybe we could do a bigger pact than that. Maybe we could see about getting Mr. Dagger a sheath, you know what those used to be called, dont you?”

Your body begins to refuse to react, except for the obvious and your burning face. You can feel her tail creeping up and around your waist, pressing tight on you.

“Aren’t you just the least bit curious about what will happen?” She pleads, and you have to admit you absolutely are. “At worst if it doesn’t work we’ll both get somet-”

“MISTRESS!” A voice calls out suddenly, as Meryll turns away from you you let out a breath you hadn’t even realized you were holding. Cold sweat beads your forehead and back, your face is on fire, and youre hands hurt from balling them so tightly.

‘More of a succubus than a demon, what the hell was that?’ passes through your mind.

“Mistress Azrinel, there you are.” A smooth monotone bleats out, turning to share in what Meryll is looking at you’re struck by another first. An Automaton.

She was garbed in a semi-simple frock of black cloth, only the shoulders and neckline of such giving away more details of her. Obviously a maid or servant of some kind. Her figure was svelte and something about it seemed oddly familiar in terms of having seen beautiful works of engineering in the ‘old’ world; well-built.

“Cera, not now. I’m in the middle of s-”

“I can see exactly what you're doing, what would your mother think?” The maid cuts her off abruptly, even for an emotionless monotone it seems to drip with disgust. Looking around you notice the others are closer, indeed it was a Minotaur, a lizardwoman, and they're seemingly joined by a Dragon, a Dark elf, and a Cyclops.

“We’re just talking Cera, honest, no need to get w-”

“With his pants undone like that, in public no less?” Her voice is much louder at this insinuation, and the two of you look down at you crotch and sure enough your belt is undone and your fly is down, the others further off seem to take notice of this and speed up on trying to congregate in the grand circle of the city at the fountain. In an instant Meryll’s face turns a dark shade of purple, obviously blushing deeply.

Thinking hard you can vaguely remember undoing your pants prior to going to sleep and obviously since waking here, in this unknown place, still hadn’t fixed them. Looking up at Cera and holding your hands up, you start,

“No it’s okay…”

>Botch the explanation

“I woke up like this.” You float, smiling awkwardly. Her eyes narrow as she takes a slight step back, actual disgust starts to paint her face.

“Mistress, your mother will hear about this. Resorting to forming a ‘pact’ in public like this is far beneath your station, especially attempting to inspect the unconscious man beforehand...” The automaton droned, her eyes switching between the two of you as Meryll placed her face in her hands.

“N-no, we hadn’t even started the pact y-yet,” She manages to stammer out before you notice the maid’s disgust become even more prevalent, her white metal hands balling up tightly. Meryll trying to hide more and more in her hands.

“Your mother will be greatly disappointed, engaging in such without a pact…. You were raised better than that. Thankfully she isnt here t-”

“Lets time out,” You interject, hands out in a T formation and standing up, “We were just talking and things just kind of ended up this way, y'know just one thing after another, and then we were talking about my fake name an-,” The automaton’s facsimile eyebrows rocket towards the top of her head, the white metal plasteel material of her forehead almost seeming to form deep wrinkles throughout.

“Not even wanting to know his name?” She lets out in a whisper.

“Just stop, please.” Meryll pleads.

Cera the automaton simply stares at you in disbelief as a loud wolf-whistle fills the air. At this point the small band of others are now within the immediate area and youre now definitely sure that the few others who also got whisked to wherever here was, were in fact what you had previously guessed. The minotaur was somewhat looming with large horns and dressed in a set of worn tan pants and a light cotton shirt, the lizardwoman in simple bits and pieces of eclectic armor, the dragon in a nightgown, the cyclops in dirt encrusted work clothes and a sunhat, and the dark elf was wearing what could pass as either fetish gear or traditional evlen clothing you weren’t sure which.

“Looking to propose or just giving a free show there big boy?” The minotaur calls out to you, something about how she rolls the o’s a little longer than necessary somewhat bothers you. Her hair is a soft brown and styled as a bob cut, and as best as you can tell based on her clothes, possibly a dock worker.

“Huh?”

“Your pants,” She starts, motioning at them while smirking, the others near her also either smiling, giggling, or refusing to look directly at you.

“Oh right,” You blurt out and start fixing your pants, relooping your belt while there’s a slightly dejected sigh from one of the newer girls, the lizardwoman specifically.

>introductions

“Okay, let me start over.” You say, as you finish zipping your fly. “I went to bed like this, in my apartment, in Komin city and woke up here presumably after being magic’ed here and then started our conversation,” You motion towards Meryll, “You mentioned that you had been in Threstis, which means this has to be an effect of magic of some kind. Then we ended up discussing my name because I’m Dirk. Yes, that Dirk, and it’s not my real name because I don’t trust magic because I’m an outworlder. Which uh…. Meryll, how did you know my name was fake?” Meryll seeming to have recovered somewhat looks at you, her face slightly less purple.

“Gossip about you is kind of extensive and... this is your third name I think?”

“Yes.” You respond flatly, not really wanting to elaborate as you might reveal something inadvertently. While true names and the magic involved appeared to be a thing, there was admittedly scant about it that could be found. So potentially you could be effectively mind controlled and there was little in safety to test this fully without potentially trapping yourself. You had been using a pseudonym shortly after arriving and realizing that magic was a thing and shuffled them on occasion, Dirk however was at least planned at this point to be the last one and only existed as a means of maintaining patents.

“So nothing untoward was happening?” Cera’s face going back to plain and emotionless, perfectly robotic.

“Uh… She’s been nothing but perfectly demonic?” You end the statement with too much of a tone, making it sound like a question. Cera’s face remained unreadable.

“I guess that's acceptable then.” She says with a slight curtsey, then promptly begins to look about at the surroundings again.

"How about the rest of you? Where are all of you from? What were you doing prior to getting here?" You ask the others as your mind hops back onto the issue of the geography involved with you and Meryll's differing points of origin and wanting to find commonality to help rationalize this.

"Delphie," the Minotaur blurts out, "I was at work in Gelb, I had just sat down for lunch."

"Adira, I was in the middle of sparing." Says the lizardwoman, and all you can think is 'of course you were.' as she shifts this way and that, ponytail swaying and assorted armor pieces clinking. "Out in camp near the northern border, near the Orc badlands."

"Vashu," the Dragon holds up one of her large clawed paws, her red scales seem to glisten. "Napping on my horde actually, so this is a bit surprising. Its a bit of a distance from Gelb, but reasonable to get to in a day or so by air."

"Erin, I was uh… hunting." Says the dark elf, her hands touching at her hair nervously as her face lights with a blush and begins to fidget in what is no better than fetish wear, even the others notice her odd behavior.

>clever

“I uh… just what part of the Kingdom?” You cut in before any of the others can ask what she was hunting dressed as she is. Its far readily apparent that what she’s wearing isn’t necessarily some kind of weird Elvin fashion but actually is some manner of fetish gear; likely ‘hunting’ out and around some part of a larger cities bar run.

“The southeast region,” She quips quickly, refusing to look anyone in the eye while still fidgeting and touching at her long white hair. With that all of you turn to look towards the Cyclops who merely huffs loudly and crosses her arms.

“Outskirts of Komin, just finished farm work.” Sneer the Cyclops, her large purple eye piercing into you, “You haven’t seriously forgotten who I am, have you?”

“Only a little bit,” You respond, “You’re one of the representatives of the farming guild. Can’t honestly place your name.” In truth you really couldn’t, there were some odd numerous representatives for various guilds and businesses and in most cases they’d begun a process of swapping out their people as a means to delay negotiations, wasting time, and being general nuisances about anything changing even when they agreed or profitted of it; so learning names wasn’t a priority. Quitely Cera begins to pace around the fountain, looking this way and that at nothing in particular as far as you can tell.

“Mira.” She grumbles as the others start to eye her, whether its from social pressure or realization that she was part of the reason you didn’t know her name or had any recognition, you couldn’t tell.

“Well… none of those are consistent except that we’re all within the boundaries of the kingdom…” You float, hoping one of the various girls may have anything to add to it. Instead you get silence and some awkward staring. Absently you touch at the back of your neck, “Maybe something happened like a cataclysm?”

“This place isn’t real!” Announces Cera quite loudly, causing most of the impromptu groups to jump a bit and focus on her. “There are no stars and that tower is not architecturally possible, several other buildings also appear to be improper.”

“What?” You start, confusing falling onto you.

“The tower is too tall for the materials to appropriate support itself given its shape,and the structure itself lacks various necessary supports.” Cera turns, pointing off to a nearby building on the opposite side of the fountain, “That building’s size and shape are inconsistent if viewed from different angles.”

“So what is this place like a wonderland realm or pocket dimension?” Adira spits out quickly, looking around. “I don’t see anything overly strange or anything like that.”

“No,” Meryll injects, “At least on the wonderland part. This definitely isn’t part of there, and I don’t think this is a pocket dimension; it doesn’t feel like one. There is magic here, I can feel it, but not the right kind for that…?” She trails off.

You however are only half listening as you slowly begin to walk round the fountain, eyes fixed on the designated building. Sure enough, as you walk along the path in a clockwise manner, the geometry of the building begins to unfold and warp; first it three floors, then no windows or doors, then one floor, and then finally back to three floors high with all of its accoutrements included. Tilting your head, you double back going counterclockwise.

“Some kind of Chaos realm then?” Delphie posits.

“Those types are at the bottom of the ocean, we’d all be drowned.” Vashu answers as she rolls her eyes.

The building folds inward, colors shifting and changing shapes. All doors, disarticulated windows suspended on air, two stories, nothing, and then finally something no larger than a shack. You snort loudly, slightly unnerved but also amused by it. Hooking your fingers into your pant loops you simply stare and wonder about your current predicament.

“Who knows,” Mira states.

>Don’t Panic

Controlled/ Dont panic

Your mouth runs dry as your hands begin to shake, and for the first time in a few years, you desperately want a good smoke and too many whiskeys. You breathe in slowly, trying to exhale at a proper rate but it comes out haltingly. Your mind cartwheels around, jumping from various off ideas that maybe that weird new englander with the spooky stories may have glimpsed this place or that you had been stuffed into some kind of faulty simulated reality for some unnameable reason, only to eventually settle on that Cera has whacked out ideas on what is and isn’t normal.

‘She totally undersold it,’

You sit down suddenly, trying not to shake as you keep working on your breathing.

‘Just need to think about this logically, and if that fails its probably some kind of magic nonsense.’ You breathe in deeply again, slowly getting your breathing under control. Standing suddenly, you shove youre still shaking hands into your pockets to hide the moment of concern from the others. ‘It’s probably some mage apprentice who did something nuts. It’s just another puzzle, I can solve this,’

“Guys,” You start, looking around again at the city before you, “It’s a bit more than just inconsistent, just… don’t look too closely at it. We should probably try and figure something out, maybe try to look around and see if we can find the person who brought us here?” You can feel all of their eyes on you. “We could try the tower, or maybe wander a bit looking for anything unique… or just pick a building I guess. What do you guys want to do?” You turn, looking over your shoulder at each of them from across the fountain.

The girls all turn back to each other, mumbling to each other while the soft sound of the fountain water fills the air. The air is cool, and the location and soft light is rather pleasant if not the eerie quiet you notice now, sending a shiver up your spine. Outside of the peculiarities of this place, it honestly isn’t all that bad you have to admit.

“We have decided on the tower,” Annonces Cera, hand raised out.

“No we havent!” Hisses Mira, eye narrowing at the maid.

“Well it’s better than waiting here for rescue,” Meryll jabs, folding herself into sitting with a leg cast across the other on the fountain pool’s ledge. “I swear, the only reason you suggested it was because its the opposi-”

“That IS not why!” The farmer bites back, and with that you stop listening, letting the noise drown out and instead listening to the fountain and the water as it splashes and sprays.

Shutting your eyes and thinking on it, the Tower is the best bet as you likely won’t be able to get lost on the way to it, and if this was a pocket dimension or synthetic reality of some kind wouldn’t the prominent landmark serve as a general area for people to congregate and orient themselves? As you think quietly, the smell from earlier comes back. Sharp and sweet cherries assail you, followed by a mix of other scents surrounding you; Cinnamony peaches, cucumber, something like honeysuckle, apples and more. Your head starts to drift a bit, and you begin to feel lightheaded. Focusing now you can still hear the girls arguing over what to do.

“Well, I’m off, I’ll see you when I see you guys I guess.” You turn away from the fountain and start what will likely be a trudge up the landmark. It cuts across the sky almost menacingly, but has an odd modern and stylized feel that invokes a nostalgia for old pulp science fiction covers.

“W-wait for me!” Meryll calls out, hopping up and hurrying to catch up with you.

“At least someone made a decision,” Adira mutters, and by the sound of all the clinking has also started following along. The rest shrug somewhat before deciding to follow, leaving only the cyclops to huff loudly and resign herself to following as well.

>Red

It had been some odd thirty minutes or so, and you still weren’t anywhere near the tower. You were at least making headway, no issues with the geometry of approaching it, it loomed even moreso above as it stretched high into the sky. You did have to admit, the more you looked at it during your approach, the more you had to agree with Cera; something about how it stood wasn’t right. You had no idea if it ‘shouldn’t’ be able to stand, but you could at least say that it didn’t look like it should.

A blue skinned arm had hooked into yours and you had thought for a moment as Delphie sped up to match pace that she might try for your other; but she didn’t, instead she spent most of the walk nearby and casting accusator glances at some of the other girls and flicking her tail. Occasionally you can smell the odd scent here and there of cherries or a mingle of other smells, outside of that the walk is more or less uneventful.

Various buildings are passed, some resembling various styles of open air shops or stands. The same soft light, uniform lamps line the streets and outside of the strange circumstances or off putting weirdness of this nonplace with no stars in the sky or other people, this would appear to be a nice city to live in. Distances from what you guessed were work areas, businesses, and housing appeared to be prioritized with immediate foot travel in mind but the roads were nice and extra wide; roughly three car lengths wide if you had to guess, something about the Demon Lord’s cities that had driven you to raving when you had started your first business. The concept of city planning or long term thinking for roadways was an afterthought, another error you had plans to try and correct given enough time and resources, and now a smooth and flawless obsidian roadway was stretched beneath you and all you could feel was an odd kind of relief. No more crowded, inconsistently sized roads or crappy cobblestone.

“This place isn’t actually half bad…” You say absently, and in moments your arm is pressed tightly into Meryll’s soft side as she squeezes it against herself.

“I was actually thinking that,” She smiles at you, on your other side you can almost feel Delphie staring through you and a few of the other girls possibly staring up at the two of you from behind. Not exactly a pleasant sensation. “It’s too bad there arent any other people, that place looks like itd nice to eat at.” She motions off to the side, towards what looks like a outdoor cafe. Tables, chairs, and large parasols are arranged around a small building with a pick up window; then your eyes spot it and you actually stumble.

“Woah, Dirk, tripping on air huh?” Meryll asks, starting to try and squeeze your arm against her again, but in an instantly you pull yourself free and break into an immediate sprint.

“Whats happening?” Adira yells out, in alarm as some of the others look on in some concern. “Enemies?”

“No fucking way, no fucking way,” You mumble, coming up to the flat black panel, your hands tracing the sides and touching it completely. The sides were most definitely not plastic or metal, but the front of the panel was definitely glass.

“Whats the big deal, its a weird decoration, why does that matter?” Spouts off Mira, you can tell how unimpressed she is just by the sound of her voice.

Your hands play across the sides, the surface, looking for the switch or button, anything really.

“What are you looking for?” The dark elf asks, and a moment of brilliance takes you as you tap the screen twice.The display floods with light, illuminating the area as a soft reddish light spills from the screen.

“This,” you mutter, a slight sound of awe is elicited from the group.

“Okay, so its weird lightbox that's red, whats the big deal?” Mira starts again, sounding annoyed. Images danced across the front of it, pictures of drinks and various kinds of small cakes.

“Its a menu,” You state flatly, “A menu made like the ones from my world, but it isnt… this is made with artificing.”

>Interconnections

In an instant a form of realization dawns on you and it all unfolds. Like seeing a magic trick performed from the wrong angle, it suddenly all falls into place and you’re very certain about it all. Everything is already decided and resolute, as you begin to walk away from the kiosk menu towards the closest table.

“And how is that significant to anything?” Mira responds, some of the annoyance dropping way to curiosity.

You grab a chair, turning again and heading back to the kiosk and gripping it tightly with both hands. You already know what’s about to happen, at least mostly, as it’s the only thing that could make sense.

“Because I’ve seen this before.”

The chair connects with the kiosk, smashing the screen, the glass shattering and giving way. A small blast of sparks are emitted, and the kiosk panel hisses loudly.

“H-Hey, are we goin to have a pro-” Adira starts, youre certain most of the other girls either jumped or shirked away due to your totally reasonable behavior.

“No.” You drop the chair, it clangs loudly on the ground, the legs making an odd reverberating sound despite not being metal, “Just need to look inside.” You start to peel your shirt free, lifting it up and over your face, only to hear someone whistle and mumble ‘shut up’. Your face burned slightly, its not like you had any definition, but you weren’t portly either.

Once free of it, you wrapped your hand with the shirt and gently begin to brush the glass and more aside.

“What do you hope to find?” Asks Vashu, stepping closer than the rest behind you, she’s practically peering over your shoulder into the ruined artificed tech. A smell akin to smokey whiskey plays over you, while somewhat distracting and somehow mouth watering, you still manage to move a few components around. Large glass plates with inlaid copper strips, the powering crystals, and miniature crystal balls fill the kiosk.

“I’m looking for a ‘signature’, something that shouldn’t be here. The more complex a machine, the more likely it is that it’ll have a ‘signature’ or specialized means of manufacture. Something that makes it highly unique.” You turn to face Vashu, the pleasant smokey smell invading as you shove your hand blindly around in the kiosk components. “Ms. Cera for instance, is an automaton. Her shell is absolutely unique solely to her,” You shift, hand running deeper into the kiosk as you twist a bit.

“This is true.” States the maid robotically.

“But her innards, the components that drive and function her are specific to a series made by whoever it was in specific who made her. All the automatons made by that maker, likely would have the same or nearly the same innards.” Your hand closes on the object that had called out to you in your sudden realization.

“He is correct. My sister unit, Adras, has identical internal components.” She states plainly.

“How would you know that?” Asks Meryll, her tone somewhat confused but curious.

“I wasn’t always your maid, how do you think Adras and I met your mother mistress Meryll?”

“The point though, is this,” You pull sharply, components groan inside the ruined machine until it gives and you slam your cloth covered hand into the bottom of the kiosk. You hiss in pain at what was likely a minor cut, but you’ve got the prize nonetheless. “I know who designed this.”

You hold out the redundant miniature crystal ball, wrapped this way and that in crisscrossing copper wires an image that you could recognize in an instant stares back at you. Your hand throbs slightly as small amounts of blood dot your shirt.

“I did.”

>Lambda

In an instant, she’s front and center in your face and yelling. Her face is stretched into an angry grimace, a litany of slander and curses pouring out. Her pitch and volume growing in intensity, becoming more and more harried, it isn’t until she starts trying to slap you and veins stand out on her forehead that you really register what's being said around you. All you have is confusion and the overwhelming smell of something like cucumber soap and kimchi.

“Okay, thats enough.” Delphie lulls out as her large muscular arms come down and hands clamp on the cyclop’s shoulders and pull her away with ease.

“No its not! Its not!” Mira struggles against the larger girl’s grip, the others carrying views from concern to Cera’s deadpan. “This is exactly the reason none of the guilds like you! Just doing things and causing chaos wherever you go!” Her voice hitches, her large purple eye tearing up, “Now we’re stuck somewhere weird and its your fault!”

“We don’t necessarily know tha-” The crimson dragon starts only be cut off.

“It has to be! He did this somehow!” Mira struggles against Delphie’s grip, twisting this way and that, and for a moment you honestly didn’t blame the farmer or her dislike of you. You could definitely see her reasoning.

Prior you had suggested streetlights to be placed throughout Komin City to make it easier and safer to navigate at night, and not just because of precocious teenage monsters that tended to roam around looking for ‘husbands’ in the dark. You had seen an accident. Two centaurs both pulling carriages, going down towards each other on a narrow road in the dim afternoon and rather going rather fast as high shadows were cast everywhere from the buildings that crowded about. You honestly couldn’t believe it, but then again various car accidents from your original home were just as inexplicable, but you did readily identify a cause; it had been too dark. You honestly might not have believed what you saw that day if you hadn’t physically seen it play out.

There was no warning, nothing, just the sound of metal, wood, and bone smashing together as two different centaur women suddenly screamed and things tumbled and people were thrown. Two people died, several more were injured, one the centaurs was badly injured enough that she can’t work as a driver anymore. And as you stood there on the dim corner that day, pure chance due to a late errand, you could honestly say that even you couldn’t see one of the carriages.

This started your first foray into politics and trying to improve the city, which then slowly grew and grew. Your petition for streetlights was readily passed and was supposed to have been implemented throughout the city, instead the guilds interfered fearing the cost of potential taxes, citizens complained, and a good number considered you nothing more than idealistic eye candy who might calm down if you were barefoot with a kid or two. So instead, only a few special areas got streetlights and their cost was higher than it needed to be, while you couldn’t complain because it kept you feed and housed…

You still occasionally see what looked like a carriage slamming into nothing in that dim road. The yelling, people screaming as they panicked. The terrified face of the centaur woman with a broken leg and the intrusive, aberrant thought that you should design a shotgun. At the end of that day, you never completed the errand.

The guilds and more didn’t consider it necessary, they were used to it. Felt it was normal, acceptable; and you were just a noisy, expensive wheel that needed to be greased till it was forgotten about. You could get the perspective, they didn’t really know better, nothing that mattered was ever easy, nor ever could be. So as Mira started to thrash and yell, some of the other girls considered what she was saying, though likely with concern, you couldn’t help but understand her view but it didn’t matter.

Stepping forward, the clothe of your shirt unfurled from your hand with dripped blood from its minor cut, and in an instant it’s hot and sharp. A loud clap fills the air, and your palm stings and throbs as shock overcomes her, Delphie smirks and Adira’s face flushes a little; tears roll down her face.

“I’m inert, magically.” You start, your tone is flat and dull, “I can’t use ‘real’ magic Mira. That’s why I make things with artifice. How did I make this?” You wave your stinging hand out wildly, at the road and buildings and more. “How does a tinkerer make a false reality, abduct some odd seven people from various locations from an entire country, and create more than he could in a nowhere place than he could with a very generous loan from the kingdom?” Your voice grows tight in your throat, “I was given enough to commission a legion of soliders, we got some thirty streetlights for that Mira, there looks like thousands here. What kind of resources, money and raw magical power are required for this? You honestly think I have that somewhere?”

Cera begins to raise her hand only to be stopped by Meryll, who realizes your questions are rhetorical. Nevertheless, the automaton belts out,

“Certain aspects make this far too expensive even for the Maou in some ways, at least currently.”

>Laugh

>laugh

==Youre now aware of Awareness skill==

==Are you aware that awareness makes you aware of what you typically wouldn’t be?==

You honestly couldn’t help it, and the absurdity of it just hit just right, you started to chuckle, the stinging in your hand becoming a lot harder to ignore. Mira snuffled, wiping tears from her face that now bore a bit of a red hand mark, and a few flecks of what you assumed were your blood smearing as she wiped.

“N-not even the Maou, heh, ha,” Your words catch light and staccato, hitched between minor little chuckles as it slowly starts to build in your gut. Slowly it rips through and the deep laughs come from within, your full chest moving the air as you laugh loudly. Tears start to well in your eyes, your gut begins to ache, and you're still aware of the sharp pain and warm wetness on your injured hand.

Youre still laughing as it starts to become harder to breathe, the muscles of your chest and lungs starting to ache, you wrap your arms around yourself. A groan, inhale and back to laughing. You’re only vaguely aware of it, but Meryll is at your side and gently leading you over to one of the cafe tables.

“Okay, this isn’t really getting us anywhere,” States Vashu, her tail slapping against the smooth roadway loudly, “So, let’s all just calm down and relax and think this through slowly. Step by step.”

“No problem there,” Murmurs Delphie, letting go of Mira, as others mill about or start taking various seats at the cafe tables. Mira is sitting as far from you, angling away. The others form somewhat of a semicircle.

Meryll sits close to you with Cera not too far either, her hands playing over your injured one, the smell of cherries clawing into your nose. You’ve somewhat calmed down at this point, though your chest still aches and can’t help but let out an errant chuckle every now and then. You almost don’t notice her hands as they play over your hand.

“Agh!” You recoil as a minor peice of glass is pulled loose.

“Hold still please, I’ll try not to make it too bad.” You can tell the concern is genuine without having to see the look in her eyes.

“Back to the beginning,” Vashu declares, standing up and in front of everyone, “This place appears to a be false realm or faulty pocket dimension and not bound by natural laws.” She motions to Cera then her large clawed paw motions to you, her thick tail moving this way and that, “And its apparently filled with various things that Dirk designed, but are too costly to actually make in this amount, and Dirk isn’t a mage of any kind.”

Vashu suddenly points at Cera again, “And the Maou couldn’t do this…?” and trailing off in doubt.

“Potentially, this is based on how large this city appears to be based on what we’ve seen so far, the cost of providing financially and resource wise for the creation of most of these specialized machines that we’ve seen, and estimating that if they are consistent throughout this ‘city’ a comparable value throughout.” She tilts her head to the side, synthetic hair dancing, “This doesn’t take in account resource infrastructure, management, maintenance, or the costs of building a city this large however. Assuming things were going well, and this was a real city, the Maou could potentially create something to this size and cost scale within the next thirty years.”

“How could you possibly know that?” Erin asks quickly, a bit perplexed. Merylls hands slowly twist and turn your hand over in yours looking for more glass and looking it over as you bleed slowly.

“I have a vested interest in artificing, engineering, and cost production.” She states flatly, hands on her lap.

What’s her interest?

17/12

“Because she’s an automaton,” You start but realize you may not continue with the present company, but it's a bit late for that as all eyes fall on you, “You know, having kids and all and who her employer is. Right?” Realization begins to dawn on them.

“Yes,” replies the maid. “It is as you say. Th-”

“Cera,” Meryll starts in, her grip on your hand was tight if not somehow stressed, “The other’s don’t need to hear about my family’s issues, so let's not talk about that. You can elaborate on wanting children though,” Her tail swishes about much like a cat would if aggravated and the tone of her voice is dramatically different than it had been since having met her. Obviously her family was a bit of a somewhat sour topic.

“Just planning on a possible future, things didn’t pan out but at least I’m prepared for next time. And doing more than housework is quite pleasant, drafting buildings is an interesting hobby.” Cera finishes, almost sounding cheerful.

Vashu folds her scaled arms over her chest, and sighs.

“Okay, lets start again,” The dragon says as she plunks down on one of the chairs, “This place is filled with things that can’t possibly be, at least yet, so it can’t physically exist; it has to be a pocket dimension or false realm.”

Meryll huffs, her fingers having found what was potentially another piece of glass.

“That’s unlikely,” Erin injects again, “Meryll already pointed out, and I agree, that the latent magic here doesn’t feel right for that. Its like its too thin overall, not enough mana to draw from to do much besides basic spells I’d imagine.”

“And Pocket dimensions aren’t like this.” Meryll finishes off her line of thought, still inspecting your hand. “Typically they’re about the size of the inside of a house, a small field or so at the largest, and not this overly complex; even with how things are broken down in terms of reality. Anything within it is also compelled to function as an aspect of magic moreso than reality,”

“What?” You ask, some of the others obviously also needing more information as well due to the confusion on their faces.

“Take a kettle for instance.” Meryll reaches up and taps her tongue with a fingertip, “You wouldn’t need a wood stove to heat it, you would just compel or even assume that the contents were nice and hot already. And they would be.” She presses the fingertip against one of your cuts, sealing it away. What feels like licking a nine-volt slides across your skin beneath her finger tip, though warmer and softer. “This also works in other ways, so back to the kettle. If you took it to say… a fireplace in a sitting room in our hypothetical pocket dimension, the kettle’s contents couldn’t be heated by the fireplace. It wasn’t made for cooking, it was made for relaxation.”

She brings her fingertip back to her face before making an odd expression, almost confusion, before tapping again and working on the few other small cuts.

“This place definitely isn’t a pocket dimension though, otherwise we would have been able to leave already.” Her expression is somewhat glum.

“How can you know that?” Adira asked, cocking her head to the side in a decidedly lizardly fashion. Meryll’s only reply being making hard eye contact, and unfurling her large dark blue leathery wings. “Okay, stupid question. But the rest of us don’t necessarily understand magic.” A scaled hand waves over most of the group.

“To enter a pocket dimension you have to be brought in by whoever owns it, but to exit you just have to know the generic ‘exit’ component of the spell. I know that spell and we’re still here. So it can’t be a pocket dimension,” She pauses again as she finishes healing the cuts away, hand close to her face, the same almost confused look playing over her features.

“Okay,” You inject, “If this isn’t a real place, and creating this physically isn’t a possibility nor magically what if…

>Math Devil

“What if this is a math devil?”

“A what?” Meryll spits back almost immediately. “So there’s some kind of other demon here trying to whisk you away and confuse you till you can’t resist?” Soft blue fingers curl tightly against your hand, she shifts slightly, attempting to press against your side though seems a bit off put to do so in front of the others.

“N-not quite, maybe, its likely not the correct term, but back in my world there was a mathematics and philosophy principal about a demon purposefully altering perceptions of things so the outcomes would purposefully be wrong. Two plus two always equalling five because the ‘demon’ was present and any instances of four which would be written off as an error as a result, when it wasn’t.”

Delphie the minotaur’s face twists into confusion, hands beginning to outstretch only to look at them and back at you. “The hell kind of philosophy concept is that?”

“Reality is a series of predictable assumptions based on prior perceived occurrences. If something happens to your perception of reality, reality from then on changes or breaks down.” You look up at the starless sky, “Everything about this place is inconsistent and could only make sense if our sense of reality was wrong. It’s both real but isnt, filled with something I’ve made but can’t possibly exist in these numbers, and is filled with anomalous problems in terms of buildings and space. Other than the obvious, have any of you noticed anything off? Colors being off, taste, anything?”

Meryll huffs loudly, squeezing your hand tightly, the smell of sweet cherries rushing into you.

Suddenly all of the girls but Cera start talking simultaneously, some of its loud and fast and some is just a flat statement overall. They stop, looking at each other and begin starting with Meryll who is closest to you.

“I can’t smell you or your aether!”

“You’ve got the scent of an empty room,” Delphie adds.

“I was wondering why I couldn’t smell you,” says Adira.

“He’s supposed to smell like how burning cedar sap would smell with a bit of honey kind overlayed on it…” Mira starts before trailing off and turning a deep red, all the other girls are looking over at her with a mix of curiosity. The pace clearly disrupted and the silence pregnant with an awkward air. “At least that’s what I smelled before, during the meetings…”

“Well, that's a star-”

“Mr. Dirk, your face is deformed.” Cera cuts in with all the beauty and timing of autist publicly announcing something deeply inappropriate. Meryll especially, and the other girls glare daggers at her. Absently you touch at your face, almost doubting your memories.

“Describe my face.” You quickly respond, hoping things won’t escalate into some odd monster based white knight nonsense.

“You left eye is significantly lower than the right, your head is shaped oddly though not overly atypically, your nose looks as if its been broken repeatedly,” Cera lists off, even Erin the dark elf who seemed somewhat uninterested in you seems off put by the description as the maid lists off more and more, “I had thought it odd that Ms. Meryll would be interested in such a homely looking man given her status, but we all have our peculiarities.”

Meryll just sighs deeply and casts her hands into her hands.

“Interesting.” Is all you can really respond with, “What is the most significant feature of my face that the rest of you can pick out? Mira, don’t say anything.”

“Your warrior’s nose,” Spouts the lizardwoman, Meryll looks somewhat taken aback by this.

“Your short red hair is pretty nice,” Starts Delphie, which elicits looks from the others.

“His hair is black and long, ” Vashu gives in response, only for Erin to give off a concerned look.

“You mean he’s not blonde?” All the others look at each other back and forth, sudden realization dawning on them.

“That's actually really interesting. I think my sense of smell is like how all of yours should be normally…? I keep smelling various things, but not like a smell coming from each of you yourselves?”

“Like anything you're picking up?” Asks Erin suddenly, she shifts in her seat and her revealing clothes showing off a bit more, smooth ashen skin begging your eyes to look, “Most of a sense of smell is taste after all, so keep that in mind.” She tongue peeks out, and in moments you’re almost certain there’s a spade shaped object touching at your back.

“Lets… change subjects.” You reply, the insinuation not being missed. “If it is a math devil, it means specific rules of reality wouldn’t be able to be altered just our perception of it. So, since pocket dimensions have limits we’ll need a volunteer.”

Everyone looks at another, unsure if they necessarily want to be involved in this further, until Adira sighs and stands up.

“Okay Dirk, so what am I going to do then?” She asks, obviously unhappy with the lack of a warrior’s spirit from the others.

“Just walk back to where we had come from, and we’ll call out to you when it’s enough.”

“That's all?”

You just nod in agreement, and in a second she turns on her heel and begins back down the smooth glass road.

“So now what?” Asks Mira, suddenly willing to more properly engage with the group, and by extension; you.

“We observe,” You respond, eye’s tracing over Adira’s scaled digitigrade feet, it takes less than a minute but you begin to see what you were hoping for. As she continues to walk, her feet slip on the smooth glassy road and appears to walk in place.

“What the hell?” The minotaur lulls out, obviously seeing the same thing.

Cupping your hands around your mouth you shout out to Adira who stands only some odd twenty or so feet away.

“Just a bit further Adira,” You yell out, her feet continue to slip seamlessly on the roadway.

“Okay!” She shouts back, apparently oblivious to her slow march in place, without looking you can tell the girls are definitely somewhat shocked.

“Mira, could you go get her?” You ask, looking to her since she was the closest. You don’t get a response but Mira gets up and walks up behind Adira, only for her to spin around at the sound of footsteps behind her and let out a yell.

“How did you do that?!” Yells the warrior at the farmer, fright paints over her face as she suddenly comes to terms with having somehow teleported.

“Weren’t you paying attention?” Mira groans at her.

“Yeah, its got to be a math devil… or some kind of effect like it.” You state aloud, Meryll tugs on your hand, though still apparently reluctant to hold it. Pulling you close, you can feel her spaded tail on your back as she leans in close; a wing gently touching at you, but overall hovering over you.

“I could protect you you know,” Her voice low, almost husky, “It’d be so much easier with a pact, but we could wait if that's better for you Mr. Dagger.” As you look over, trying to make eye contact all you get is a nice view of the pallid blue skin of her chest right before it ends at the hem of her sun dress. “Besides, I saw you first.” She finishes, moving slightly so it strains against her ample form, you can’t help but nervously swallow as your face burns.

“So what should we do now?” Asks Vashu to no one in particular looking between everyone for an idea on how to proceed, the recovered lizardwoman however has other ideas as she takes on a fighting stance.

“COME FIGHT ME YOU FUCKING COWARD! WE’RE RIGHT HERE AND WE KNOW ABOUT YOU!!!” Adira screams up at the black starless sky, and despite what you expected there isn’t even the slightest hint of a reverberation of the sound. Silence overtakes the group, everyone looking this way and that as it continues to grow.

A tongue clicks loudly, the sound of a chair moving away from a table can be heard behind you, you and the others turn to the sudden noise. What you’re greeted with doesn’t look like any devil or demon you’ve seen or heard of, nor do the other two look like any monsters you’ve ever heard of.

The first one that catches your is has a large arrangement of pink horns, almost forming into a large crown, this is framed by long flowing silver hair that drops down to below the waist. Sharp hot pink skin meets your eyes and large sharp looking teeth grin at you, a spear-like tail and large almost angular batlike wings; and foremost she was completely nude. Preternatural glowing green eyes stare at you.

“And you said they wouldn’t be able to figure it out,” Comes a raspy voice, it’s grating and sharp but not overly unpleasant, from this ‘Demon’ as she regards one of her companions. Her companion regards her, being what would undeniably be practically a completely normal looking if not somewhat plump woman besides looking as if every part of her was composed of bronze; as if a poured statue of a woman had somehow become a golem. She also is nude.

The third, is some kind of insect woman, and is also dressed like her compatriots. Her chitin is sharp glossy bright yellow, four sets of insectoid arms resting on the table as her mandibles moves and slides about, softly clicking slightly. Red hair frames her face.

“Can’t always fool ‘em, some are clever.” Comes the bug woman’s response.

“Who are you?!” Adira whirls, demanding and pointing a clawed finger at them “Why’d you kidnap us?!” The other girls begin to take on defensive looking stances, even moving back away from the interlopers or towards you.

“Wouldn’t you like to know lizard,” responds the bronze woman, leaning back, and instinctually you can’t help but look away as her chest shifts; Meryll’s wing pressing down on your side, almost possessively.

“Well, we’re going to dump you off somewhere else now.” The, assumedly, Math Devil rasps out, “And don’t worry Dirk, we’ll make good use of what you’ve got. It’d be irresponsible to waste all that talent on simply making people more comfortable, specially with how complacent the Maou has become in recent years…” She lists off, hand finding her hip as she leans somewhat on it.

Her eyes take on a somewhat evil shine, fully predatory. Full realization coming to hold, as most of it clicks into place. Someone realized the potential of most of your random thoughts and ideas from home and you were effectively to be some kind of princess in a tower kind of prisoner; a hostage helping to facilitate a complete take over.

“So, are you going to be a good boy and surrender?” She smiles and all it does it make your skin turn to gooseflesh, Meryll’s tail wrapping on your leg.

>Stall/decieve/ gather info/impromptu weapon

“Who are you people and what do you want? What are you?” You start, trying to sit more upright and try to give off the appearance of not caring as at worst this could blow up into some kind of a fight, at best an odd negotiation. The insect woman chitters, chitinous fingers tapping on her table, she glances to the bronze woman almost as if she’s saying something to her.

“You're right, fine. New management,” Starts the bronze woman, “The current way things are, isn’t working. The Maou doesn’t really do anything, besides her husband, does she?” She shifts, her shiny ample chest rolling and bouncing as a thick leg crosses the other. She hums, eyeing you sharply and glancing back to the other two, the other girls still tense almost seeming ready to attack. “Us two aren’t from this realm, I’m a rather brassie girl, the chitin covered one is a bit unlikely and,” She points at the bubblegun colored demon, “She’s your ‘math devil’.”

“What the hell kind of explanation is that?!” Adira barks out, suddenly moving, as your hands come up almost as if just seeing them might calm her.

“Lets not do anything crazy, there’s not much we can do about this overall… so let's all just stay calm and talk first,” You lead, hands slowly dropping as you feel Merylls’ tail wrapped around your leg. Adira just stares at you.

“They kidnapped all of us and just said they're trying to dispose of the Maou,” Her eyes bore into you, part of you wonders if she only cares because it's an opportunity to fight.

“No, just him.” Shoots the bronze woman, “The rest are just collateral damage.”

“Dirk.” She demands.

“We can’t do anything about it, let alone fight them.” You respond coolly, “So let's just sit down and talk about this before whatever comes next.” Slowly her stance relaxes and she heads to an empty chair to sit in, almost moping.

Meryll leans closer to you, whispering, “We can’t let them take you, if they take you…” She leads off.

“What do you want with me?” You ask them.

The hot pink demon giggles, the bronze woman smirks, and the insectoid woman makes an odd almost hissing sound as her mandibles flex and she seemingly claps two of her smaller hands together.

“Initially just what's in your head, though,” The brassie licks her lips slowly, eyes seeming almost molten, “Plans are changing.”

>Gather info eliminated

>Awareness 16/12

“I dont think I believe you about all of us,” You reply, if they could magic you away to where-ever you happened to be now, surely they wouldn’t just pick up a bunch of other randoms somehow. “Why more than just me?”

The brassie scoffs, large chest jiggling slightly before covering her mouth with a hand while her insectoid compatriot looks away dejectedly, the sudden shift in emotives from them to something less threatening and natural is somewhat relieving and reassuring. The insectoid woman begins nervously wringing her many hands together. Obviously she had something to do with it.

“Collateral damage,” Rasps bubblegum, “Teleporting is more of an art form, in particular if it's to a pocket dimension suspended between multiple layers of planes and perched to bridge two differening realms. Probabilities and unprobabilites get weighed, whatever is more likely is used, and the dice fall wherever they may by chance; but sometimes unprobabilites speak to something. Regardless, we didn’t intend for you to have guards. Who knows, maybe reality wants them here. Is that the answer you were hoping for?” The insectoid woman you notice, refuses to look at you.

“Fine, whatever.” You reel somewhat, partially processing what you were just told. A probability mage. Magic dumped into a form of ‘randomized’ effects and occurrences, but nothing was ever truly random; with enough time, planning, and understanding that ‘random’ occurrence could be channeled and controlled.

You had been nervous about the Math Devil, but this was worse. It was one thing to be unable to trust your perceptions of reality, making escape or confrontation deeply challenging, this could be potentially impossible. A veritable glass cannon, potentially one minute being an apocalyptic nightmare fueled by magic able to accomplish the truly impossible to suddenly being unable to make any of the spells work properly; everything coming down to pure chance in terms of the effect, power, and success. Could you chance it?

‘But the other’s are here as well?’ You think, ‘If pure chance lead to that happening than it is unintended on their part, perhaps everything involved was somehow interconnected?’

“And you?” You finish out with the brassie, unsure why they're so forthcoming but fearing it to be likely, at this point, because they might be nearly unstoppable and you're just a tinkerer; Or atleast assume such on their own part.

==Awareness== 16/12

You notice as she looks up at you that her fingers are tracing something on her table, a dim light reflecting off of her fingers and seemingly coming from the table. Softly reflected against the back of her hand you can almost make out a series of symbols and shapes.

‘She’s… casting something?’ You posit, ‘Or at least preparing some kind of spell,’

“I’m your dream girl,” She replies smartly, smirking, an arm shifts over what she had been scrawling into the table.

==Awareness== 16/16

Realization floods your mind, colors seeming somewhat more vibrant and clear. You had gone to bed before waking here. Adira had been knocked out. Delphie inadvertently fell asleep. Meryll, Vashu, Errin, and Mira had all been likely unconscious knowingly or unknowingly before arriving here. Cera though… posed an interesting problem. Do automatons dream of magitech sheep?

“Right, and that’s likely how the two of you are from a different realm then, because its easier to bridge across that way? And that’s why you don’t have an issue with telling us what's happening, I take it?” Confusion paints the faces of the girls, but the three simply grin, the Brassie in particular looking especially pleased. “How you ‘know’ the workings of my inventions, because I’m here and I know them?”

“It’s as you say.” She winks at you. “Anything else?”

Meryll squeezes you slightly with one of her wings, pressing you close.

“What does any of that mean?” she whispered, trying to remain inconspicuous.

“None of this is real, we’re trapped in a dream with layered magic. I… we may have to make a pact, so just, be ready.” You reply softly, hand covering over your face as if you were thinking.

“Why are you two trying to come to our Realm to take over in specific? And what do you get out of it, why betray your own?” You follow up the second question for the bubblegum pink demon, hoping to stall for a bit more time as your mind bounced along trying to figure out a way out of this. This certainly explained the two overpowered magic users, dreams were inconsistent and incapable of really being stable unless being helped guided. Taking a dream realm, a realm that could be manipulated through changes in the dreamers perceptions, and shifting it based on probabilities and uncertainties… potentially you’d be able to keep a dreamer locked in a stable dream. Everything you had experienced here thus far, everyone else, could all just be part of this dream.

‘I’m already in the tower,’ you thought errantly.

“The usual, this is a resource war after all: magic, land, and men.” She replied, the insectoid woman finally willing to look at you, “Our world is pretty similar to the one your in. A Maou changed everything and then wasted time trying to accrue enough magic to cast a spell she forgot after a few centuries of playing wifey, and the population train crashed.”

==Awareness== 16/18 Failure

This explained their odd appearances, perhaps they were dramatically different takes on various other aspects of things or even the result of succubization playing out differently on a metal golem and mantid of some kind?

“I’m regarded as defective because of my inability to use pact magic and appearance,” Pinkie looks away, clawed hands forming a steeple, “Why shouldn’t I help with this upheaval? I only have one direction I can take my status in doing this,”

>Stall/Deceive/improptu weapon/pact/suggestions

“Unless you fail, then it’ll be decidedly worse.” You reply plainly. “So how do I figure into this exactly?” Your mind whirls, bounding about to try and figure a concept that could be beneficial to your current predicament. This was a dream, allegedly held as a pocket dimension though it didn’t appear to behave as one, your perceptions warped, and the likelihood of outcomes of anything was being manipulated to be against your favor. Anything beyond yourself was questionable. ‘What if all of this isn’t real? What if this is a trick,’ Your eyes drift to the blue skinned girl next to you, her tail and wing gripping you while she wears an annoyed look in regards to your captors, ‘Demons are quite powerful….what if this is all just Meryll? What if this is just to get me to form a pact and be unwittingly married?’

“You’re transitional.” States the Brassie, “Some might get upset with the Maou being deposed, but if during that process their lives materially improve they’re less likely to try to revolt against us. A little comfort and they’ll fold.” Her fingers slowly twist this way and that, still working on whatever the spell was.

“You really think no one would inherently oppose you?!” Meryll shouts suddenly, startling you. “That m-uh ah, t-the Maou, wouldn’t have absolute support? That’d they’d just refuse to fight because they’re comfortable?!” The idea had a familiar ring, and you were starting to realize who the real mastermind might actually be.

“Meryll,” You start, your voice somewhat losing its luster, you touch lightly at her tail that's wrapped on your leg near your knee, “They’re right. It’s true, I’ve seen this before.”

“But thats... What?” Her eyes looking glassy, her voice wavering.

“The plan is to arrive as liberators and ‘save’ everyone from the Maou’s rule, isn’t it? Then placate them with creature comforts and a much smoother kind of life...just say no if I'm wrong.” You say, looking away from Meryll, and all you get is silence from the three.

‘That answers that,’ you think, you can feel everyone’s eyes on you, ‘I’m the mastermind of the little plot to overthrow the whole kingdom.’

You notice a sound, chittering from the insectoid woman as she talks to the other two obviously somewhat animatedly about… something. ‘This is just a dream, isn’t it? I should be able to change things then, shouldn’t I?’

Thinking quickly you settle on a rather simple idea that should be rather minor; Chairs levitated when sat on. Some of the girls have begun to engage with your captors, all of them talking somewhat calmly back and forth as you played out the idea over and over in your head. It was natural, it always happened and always had happened. Chairs always floated when sat on.

You felt it slowly lift slightly, it bobbed slightly in a barely noticeable way. You pulled gently with your feet that were still planted on the ground and you felt the chair slide on the air as it floated. Some of the hopelessness of the situation evaporated, now it would just be an issue of dividing the presumable three, assuming they were even real and not merely some others or one else, and working on getting out of here; dropping back into the conversation at hand you focus back on what's going on.

“Look, there’s ten of us. We could do, what did he call it?” Rasps the hot pink demon to her fellows, the insectoid woman shifting and chattering loudly at her. “Right, a timeshare. That's roughly three rotations a month, with the occasional spare day or so for himself. So, as long as you don’t oppose us we could faci-”

“I refuse,” Meryll spouts, folding her arms as she starts to pout, “I can’t oppose the Maou, it’s not…. I just can’t.”

“I’m not too keen on only three times a month either,” Blurts out Delphie, only to realize that youre now paying attention and looking away from you somewhat embarrassed.

“And I’m not one to typically share anything that’s mine,” States Vashu, the dragon huffs a bit, smoke coming from her nose.

“And I’m not interested in such an annoying guy. It's a bit more of a punishment than a reward, who’d be interested in him anyways?” Mira follows along, hands steepling as her face starts to flush.

“What about me? Don’t I get a say in this?” You ask, concerned with where the discussion from earlier has gone. In most cases one monstergirl could be too much, two or three could be pushing it, but possibly ten keeping you as some kind of prisoner-husband? A cold fear begins to grip you, and something else.

“Not really,” States the Brassie, her eyes taking on the molten look again. Looking round doesn’t necessarily inspire confidence. “Besides, after awhile I bet you’ll love it.”

Errin the Dark Elf looks enthused at the prospect, Adira seeming to at least weighing the benefits, and Cera looking as robotic as ever. Only Delphie, Meryll, Vashu, and Mira seemingly disapprove but not in terms of you and your wants; Mira’s being the most unbelievable of them.

>Confront/ Inject Nightmare

Feeling a bit more assured of things and what could be done, you began to think hard about the various wars that you could. Screaming aircraft flying through the air, machineguns barking out unending streams of cacophonous staccato, screams and yelling while the acrid smell of spent gunpowder burned the nose; men with crazed eyes, caked in mud and blood, shuddering while laughing hysterically.

“And what makes you think I’ll just play along with that?” You ask coldly as you try to focus on what the constant sound of mortar fire and bombings would sound like, the spray of the dirt and smoke so thick it could never seem to clear; air raid sirens set to a continuous buzz of blown out eardrums. A second idea takes you and you begin to also think of pulling the table that the Brassie is scrawling on, and everything about it seems perfectly natural.

“After a few months of doing things the old fashioned way I’m sure you’ll start to behave like a pro-” replies the pink demon as your chair clattered to the ground slightly, the Brassie’s eyes going wide at it and the insectoid woman beginning to chatter animatedly. In an instant the Brassie is standing, eyeing you directly.

“What are you doing?!” She demands and in an instant her table lifts smoothly and glides towards you, “H-hey!”.

It only bounced once against the smooth ground as it hitched during its trip over. As it arrives you notice a litany of markings, symbols, and sigils; its definitely some kind of spell.

“Meryll what is this?” You ask quickly, her sharp red eyes jump over it but the confused look playing over her face as she studies it doesn’t lend to any form of confidence you’ll get a worthwhile answer.

‘Perhaps magic is dramatically different in their realm?’ You posit to yourself.

“Do you really think you can fight this?” Pinkie’s wings are unfurled as she starts to take flight, her crown of horns almost making her look like some terrible queen. Each of the other girls begin to take on defensive poses, standing or getting ready to fight; only you and the insectoid woman remain seated. “That we’d let you stop us? Let you keep what's rightfully our destinies from us?” Her rasping voice belted out, surprising quite loudly.

“Yes.”

Shock over takes her features at the reply only to be quickly replaced by anger, her wings beginning to beat at the air furiously, tail lashing around angrily. Vashu has taken to the air, smoke billowing from her nose as she prepares to fight, the other girls grabbing chairs as impromptu weapons while Meryll had maneuvered in front of you, seemingly to guard you. Then it begins, the low slow warble picks up over the air and the tension is suddenly gone.

The warble runs low and then slowly begins to pick up higher and higher in pitch while somewhere deeper in the city, gunfire begins to erupt. All of the others begin to look around nervously, only you and the insectoid woman appear more or less unconcerned; although she did look quite curious at the sudden change in things. Then the whistling started, soft and far off but growing in intensity.

>Mortar

“Mortar!” You yell suddenly, quickly hopping up and tackling Meryll into the ground as you try to shield her. An odd heat seems to pass over you as the two of you land in mud, it’s raining lightly as machine guns and larger armaments rattle off thunderously in the distance. Two things immediately occur to you, the first of which is that your clothes are dramatically different; some odd interpolation of various uniform types and forms, its grey with black and red, high collared. The second, is that Meryll who is now beneath you is apparently likewise wearing a “uniform” as you press down from on top of her.

As best as you can tell it's some kind of leather, criss-crossing across her skin and as absurd as it looks to be some kind of armored lingerie set which seems to hug and bite into her soft body in just the right ways. Confused red eyes look up at you, which slowly become almost pleading, then back to confused as she takes in the various changes; her hands gripping your sides tightly.

There’s a sudden raucous sound as the world shakes and dirt splashes against the two of you and smoke stings your nose and eyes.

“What just….,” She trails off before gripping you tightly and pulling you close, wings enveloping you, “Oh, you smell sooooo good,” and errant thoughts spilled into your mind. You couldn’t smell those sweet cherries anymore, you were within raping distance, and she was clearly dressed for the job.

“We have to go, now. It’s not safe.” You try not to let on why you’re actually worried, hoping the shift in environment might help lend to the perceived necessity to get out of this predicament after having, for now, effectively escaped something that seemed inescapable.

Meryll’s reply is to simply bite her lip as her spaded tail slaps at your rear, eyes smoldering with want which is short lived as a death wail fills the air only to stop as loud machine gun fire cuts it off. In an instant you can tell she isn’t gripping you in want anymore.

“We have to go,” to which she simply nods, letting go of you as you begin to sit up. Taking in your immediate environment, you’re in a fox-hole with bits of equipment scattered about; all the others appear to be gone, whether that's from being somehow left at the cafe or just dumped somewhere at random on the battlefield you can’t tell.

>Kitt, brief

Looking round you scan about the area, it’s definitely a foxhole and looks well lived in. Spare items, junk, and trash litter the area and though it’s not necessarily welcoming, in opposition to the cool air and horrid sound of gunfire it definitely feels homey; no radios or communication equipment however. Grabbing a spare rifle you spot and ammunition near it, you begin to get armed; a rucksack making an impromptu backpack for food rations, a spare set of boots, basically anything of moderate use even with how pointless it was in this dream. ‘I couldn’t hurt,’ Is all you can rationalize.

Looking over yourself you notice what your wearing is an odd amalgamation of wehrmacht, an imperial briton, and doughboy uniform. ‘Perhaps what she is wearing is similar? An admixture of Demon uniforms?’

Thinking over aspects of things you tried to flex your mind as you had before, thinking of something like a laser gun but nothing happens. In the back of your mind a slight change of demeanor takes hold, an old instinctual and childish fear about dreams and what happens in them. ‘What if I’m not invincible here?’

“Meryll, I think we should discuss what’s going on and even make some plans,” You start, shoving what looks like a small medical kit into the rucksack.

“Okay, I’m fine with taking a rain-check for earlier Dirk, you look great in that… whatever it is, I ju-”

“N-no.” You spit out, face suddenly in your hands and a realization that there were days you did dislike living in the newer realm moreso to social reasons than anything, “About what's currently going on. This is a dream, I’m somewhat certain we’re perched in my dream.”

“Oh, well we’re still taking a rain-check.” She replies, eyeing you and walking around in the foxhole. “This doesn’t seem like much of a dream, more like a nightmare.”

“That’s because it is.” You grab a spare pistol, check it for rounds and find them within, you hold it out tentatively to Meryll.

“This is me trying to push back, in the dream. This is, I guess, a mix of various different wars we had in my world. You’re going to see a lot of pretty horrific stuff, we may even have to deal with enemies quite a bit unlike anything you might have ever heard of.”

“What do you mean?” She asks, taking on a serious look as she takes the offered gun.

“In my world, things are and were very different. There’s likely to be a lot of men dying here, or trying to kill us, so don’t hesitate or hold back. Things could end badly if you do.”

She looks down at the pistol in her hands, it looks something akin to some kind of degenerate colt-jager hybrid, starting to look somewhat green around the gills.

“And the women of your world… let this happen?” She mumbles out in some shock.

“They encouraged it and shamed anyone they felt wasn’t murdering his own brothers enough.” You respond, back to picking through the various items in the foxhole as small rain droplets start to pelt you. Stopping and thinking, you begin to strip your coat off, before standing and wrapping her in it.

“I know this place isn't really real…. But, yknow, so you don’t get cold.”

“Your home sounds horrible.” Is all she manages, eyes still boring into the pistol in her hands.

“Oh it gets worse, don’t worry.” You respond, snagging what look like wire cutters, a bundle of wires, and some spare nails. With that you sling the ruck, recheck your rifle, and approach Meryll.

“Okay, so here's the plan,” You touch at her shoulders, trying to get her to distract herself from the weapon and the grim change of things. “We’re going to pop up, look around, and find a trench to jump into before anyone can notice. Then we’re going to look for the others and try and get out of here,” You motion around, “Try to wake up.”

“Y-yeah,” She responds nervously.

“Which reminds me, I needed to discuss the specifics of pacts with you.” She immediately perks up, face turning a bit dark purple as her red eyes stare directly into yours.

“You better not be teasing me,” She states somewhat breathlessly.

“Moreso the limitations of pacts, like… if we were to be separated, assuming we had a pact, would it be able to function like a compass for either of us and lead us back to the other? Or more?” You posit, some of her eagerness evaporates but a certain kind of light remains. “How extensively could a pact work?”

“Errr… y-yes.” suddenly refusing to look you in the face, “There are however costs, as in I’ll need something from you to fulfill it. The more expensive,” You can feel her eyes on you and you cant help but step back as they lower to your pants, “and I’ll need mana from you.”

“Okay, so what about later, for all of us who got snagged and the compass ability? We’re likely to need to navigate some weird places,” Your mind instantly going into a realm of impossible architecture and nonsense buildings, and each of you able to seamlessly navigate them without even having to think, “Obviously the others would have to be present to agree to such, but would it be possible? What would it cost?”

“M-more than you’re willing to pay, at least here anyways, from what you said Mr. Dagger.” She responds, face fully flushing a dark eggplant, eyes refusing to look at you.

“And how much would it cost me for just the compass for you and I?” You finish, a slight dread creeps into you. This could be a literal deal with a demon, one that could potentially cost you future wizard powers and the fun of being grumpy on your lonesome; the alternative was to lose the only companion you had in what was likely to be an entirely nightmarish slog through a literal nightmare.

“Not much comparatively, I don’t have any paperwork but we could seal the pact with its payment. Just a k-k-k-” She starts to stutter, obviously embarrassed, while good at putting up a false front, Meryll apparently was quite sensitive to certain particulars.

>klondike/chaste kiss

Never one to pass up an opportunity, you try your best to dream up a klondike bar, but unlike with the laser gun attempt you feel something similar to when you pushed for this warzone, but looking around you see nothing new or any changes. Sighing, you resign yourself to the necessity of things and the caveat of phrasing.

“Meryll,” You reach out, gently grabbing her shoulders and looking into her eyes, “Are you sure you’re okay with that?”

She seems to think on it for a moment before biting her lip and simply nodding, face a deep shade of purple as she fidgets a bit. Moving quickly you quickly peck her on the cheek, only for a look of disappointment followed by what is obviously anger.

“Y-you!” She spits out accusatorially, starting to pout while balling her hands into fists. “I told you not to tease me!” She stamps her heels in the mud a few times as if to emphasize her anger.

“You’ll have to be more specific next time,” You can’t help but grin, “Besides, would you honestly pass up the opportunity to trick me?”

“N-no, but that's not the point,” She stamps her feet angrily again, “I’ll get you eventually Dirk.” Though the message is somewhat ominous, the tone it's delivered with is more frustrated and playful than anything.

Moving over the side of the foxhole, you pop up quickly and drop down in less than a second, trenches stretch every which way; north, south, west, and east. As you drop down and turn to your companion you suddenly become aware there is a dead silence from all around and your blood runs cold.

“So now wh-”

You immediately hush her loudly, moving towards her and pulling her to a side wall and pressing close.

“Don’t make a sound,” You whisper, “Something is wrong. It should never get this quiet. We may have to make a run for it, we can’t stay here.”

>North

Suddenly machine gun fire starts up again with a sudden barrage of mortars, and reflexively you sigh in relief, even Meryll seems to visibly relax a bit.

“I think north might be a good idea,” You start to explain, “We might have to wander around for a while, so be ready with the pistol. If we get separated how would the pact work anyways?”

“You’ll just need to think about me and think on what direction to go, and it should take care of itself.” She says somewhat grumpily.

Touching at her shoulder, you turn and face north pointing straight forward, helping orientate her as well as to avoid confusion.

“This direction. We’ll pop up, and drop into the nearest immediate trench which should be some thirty feet or so…” You try desperately not to overthink it, or how catching a bullet might feel, “This is a dream, but who knows how… in depth it is. So we just have to be fast, okay?”

“Got it,” she responds, wings flapping as you began to hoist yourself on the ledge of the foxhole.

In an instant you’re up, feet plodding through ruined land and splashing through mud as the sound of bullets is no longer something far off and just a sound but instead whizzing past you, some impacting into the ground and spraying you with dirt. Your lungs burn as you forget to breathe, and dropping down into the mud you pivot and shift to be able to smoothly drop into the trench feet first. In an instant you have your rifle in hand, spinning round to look over your new environment and deal with any threats you may face.

A concrete corridor stretches out before you, seemingly melted into the reality of the trench like a bad optical illusion and your eyes ache painfully as you stare at it, pipes and electrical work run down the corridor as lights illuminate various doorways. Tearing your eyes from it, you can feel almost the beginnings of a headache as the sound of rapid beats of large wings comes from overhead.

“Dirk, what’s wrong?”

“You can’t see it?” You keep your eyes shut, gritting your teeth as the back of your head pounds slightly.

“See what? It's just a trench.”

Instinctively you hold out your hand to her, peeking somewhat from behind aching eyes, Meryll stares at your hand reluctantly before blushing somewhat and finally grabbing your hand. Moving slowly as you look back down into the corridor, head pounding, you step into it and pull Meryll with you.

There’s a loud gasp from the demon, a rush of much cleaner smelling air, and an immediate change as you can feel your sinuses shift in pressure; the pain in your head is gone as your booted feet clatter a bit on the concrete floor.

“I thought you couldn’t use magic Dirk!” She exclaims excitedly, running in front of you and looking you over.

“I can’t, but since it’s my dream I can change somethings… but you couldn’t see the corridor?” You ask curiously, unsure if you should be happy about the change in environment or not.

“No. There wasn’t anything there, just the trench.” She replies, squeezing your hand.

“Weird,” Is all you can manage. This was a dream though, so some strangeness should be expected was all you could effectively rationalize from the odd change; the only welcoming aspect was the relative silence and safety felt by the closed in concrete walls.

>Explore

Mentally you opt to explore the new space, the sudden lack of an immediate threat and your burgeoning curiosity getting the better of you. As you start to walk you realize that Meryll is still holding your hand and can’t help but think about how soft her hand is.

Only the sounds of each of your footwear greets the two of you as you follow along the set of pipes until you come to a door, though it looks more like a bulkhead with a small window placed into it. Stepping close to it you look in to see what you can.

==Awareness==

19/15

It takes a moment, but you begin to quickly realize that what you’re looking at isn’t dust or smudges reflecting light in some alien way; you know exactly what you’re looking at.

“Stars,” You murmur, almost involuntarily as you look.

“What? Let me see!” Meryll demands, pushing by and looking through the small porthole, “Wow, it really does look like stars…” She trails off, looking through the small porthole in wonder.

Looking around you more you notice that some of the theme of your previous dreamscape seems to be gone, most of the pipes and electrical wiring that run through the corridor look somewhat modern, in particular the zip ties holding the wires together to prevent clutter. As you peer further down the corridor you realize it seems to turn off just as a yellow painted line appears on the wall.

You feel a squeeze of your hand and look back expectantly, red eyes peering directly into yours as she grins at you toothily. The warmth and softness of her hand, plus the overly forwardness of earlier somewhat eat you as something stirs inside.

“Let’s keep going,” You offer, as the two of you continue and only every now and then stopping to look into each new porthole that you come across. Each one offers a different area; rolling fields, the deck of a ship, a forest that looks as if Andy Warhol colored it with his vomit, and interestingly what looks like the strange city where all of this started.

As the two of you round the corner Meryll begins to pull forward, leading you forward by the hand, the yellow line on the wall showing the corridor chasing off and to a series of normal looking doors. Three doors line the upcoming wall as the corridor detonates into a deadend.

“Where do you think those go?” She asks absently, fully pulling ahead, obviously a bit more curious than you. “They don’t have windows like the others…”

“Well, we could always open one and find out.” You put forward, following along behind her. As you do, you can’t help where your eyes fall, each step emphasizing her form and the current state of her clothes leaving nothing to the imagination. For a moment, all you can think of is the hushed, husky tone she had taken with you before and what she might have asked for during your name test.

Coming to the middle door, Meryll grabs its handle and immediately flings it open, and in an instant the other two on its opposing sides disappear, literally melting away into the concrete that housed them. Inside is a stairway, and given your lower vantage point, what looks like a much larger room. From your current position, all within looks similar; industrial and made of concrete.

Stepping back she admires the sudden lack of doors, and turns to you, obviously becoming somewhat more resolute in pushing forward since there’s no other path available. All you can think of however, is how the various strips of cloth and more that she’s wearing squeeze against her just right.

“Cmon Dirk, let's see what's up ahead.” She turns somewhat with a flourish, but waits, and you follow along, her armored heels clacking loudly up the stairs. Her plump rear, bouncing somewhat with each step as her tail wags back and forth in an almost hypnotic way.

In an instant you know exactly what you need to do. You bite at your lip as you watch her soft blue rear shift, bounce, and fight against the odd demon uniform; practically begging you for attention. The tone of her voice and behavior from the name test crawls back into your mind, your face starting to burn up, as you clench your hand a few times. Everything around you has been drowned out, you can’t hear anything or see much of anything, other than absolutely lovely blue moon. Its now or never.

“Are you paying attention Mr. Dagger?” You almost hear before a resounding slap fills the air. Your hand immediately aches, but seems to have found a lovely balm for the sting as it cups at Merylls rear. Your face is rather flushed and you’re only partially aware of her tail wrapping around your neck as she looks back over her shoulder at you, her face a deep purple.

“I was wondering how long it’d be,” She whispers out huskily, slowly turning and stepping up and over her tail with one leg so she can face you; eyes bearing down at you from higher on the steps. Her tail tightens its grip on your neck, trying gently to pull you closer as she gently touches at the top of your head; barely there at all, you can almost smell something. She starts to lean back onto the steps, fingers running into your hair and pulling you close, soft blue thighs flanking you on both sides. “I warned you not to tease,” is follows up, and it becomes clear despite how muted and barely there it is: You can smell sweet cherries.

>continue to tease/ask about parents/offer pact later instead/cherries

Deciding to continue to poke the proverbial bear, you grasp at her thighs and run your hands up sliding across patches of bare smooth blue skin and the strips of cloth that make up her current outfit. Ankles hook behind your head, and with help with her hands in your hair and tail on your neck, Meryll pulls you closer in.

==Awareness==

17/11

In a moment the scent of cherries fills your nose again, although muted and headier, more of a slight musk and you suddenly realize what you had been smelling far earlier when your senses were being manipulated. You were smelling this, and the others, this way. You can’t help but feel lightheaded, whether its from blushing deeply at the realization or the somewhat pleasant, needful scent you can’t be sure.

‘So when they ‘smell’ me, theyre smelling…’ you trail off as Meryll tugs on your hair suddenly, coming from your thoughts you go back and finish running your hands up her legs and grasp at her hips tightly. She whimpers, staring down at you.

“I know,” You finally answer, “But you were holding my hand and in an outfit like that…,”

Your only answer is her turning a bit purple and looking away from you, legs tightening somewhat on you as soft thighs begin to squeeze your face gently. You squeeze down with your thumbs tracing the shape of your hips as you hold tight.

“Meryll,” You squeeze a bit more roughly, and she trembles, “I want you to tell me the truth. Earlier, when we were dealing with those weirdos...is your mother the Maou?”

Your met only with a sweet sounding laugh, her legs tightening on you.

“N-no, not my mother, my aunt.” She states, running her hands through your hair, “It’s a little too late to claim you're intimidated though… not like I’m interested in any of that kind of business. All of that is auntie’s problem.”

She bites her lip and squeezes you in her thighs, her breathing changed to be slower and more deep, as her sharp red eyes look down at you. All you can do is drown in the scent of sweet, musky cherries.

“Was that your only concern? Don’t make me beg Dirk,” She moans out, “I’m sure you want this as much as I do,” She shifts, pressing her mound against you; and you have to admit you're tempted.

“Wouldn’t you want a bed instead?” You put forth, starting to realize you might be trapped. Albeit this was definitely a nice one, or maybe that was what your other head thought while drowning in her scent as soft legs enclosed you.

“Nnn~o,” she throatedly let's out, starting to grind against you. Part of you aches and wants to give in, the rest is somewhat alarmed that this is how your bachelorhood ends. “I’m not going to let you get away that easily Mr. Dagger,”

“How about a pact then?” You offer, using your hands to push away on her hips to help prevent your face from being buried in her barely covered crotch, though to her this is more likely perceived as more teasing; Her eyes go wide, looking somewhat perked up even more than currently.

“Tell me what I’ll get first,” Is all she lets out breathlessly.

>Wagon full of kids, a proper date, and lets wait till it could be real

“Well,” You start, thinking as quickly as you can, “How bout, we wai-”

She groans loudly, tightening her legs around your head and trying to pull you in closer, but a quick pinch to her rear makes her squeal and relax a bit.

“We wait till we’re outside the dream, then we could make plans for this to be real.” You finish off, going back to tracing the shape of her hip bones with your thumbs hoping it might be enough to distract her a bit.

“I… I don’t know Dirk,” She hums loudly, shifting her hips beneath your touch and as well as a means of trying to further press herself into you face.

“And afterwards we’ll plan a proper date, with kissing, and make plans on filling up a whole wagon.” You finish off, almost feeling bad at how your parsing your words and hoping she won’t notice. Your only reply from her is a throaty humming and slight loosening of her legs around your head.

“S-say it as one complete statement and we’ll seal it,” her hands are touching at her deep purple face, her bright red eyes shining.

“We’ll wait till we’re outside the dream and then we could make plans for this to be real. Afterwards we’ll plan a proper date, even with kissing, and make plans on filling up a whole wagon together.”

She shudders silently, her skin breaking out into goosebumps and the heady smell of sweet cherries seeps back into your nose. She stops and begins panting lightly and your suddenly again somewhat at odds with yourself.

“A-agreed, now kiss me on the lips,” she says breathlessly, looking down at you almost expectantly as a pregnant pause takes hold. Supple legs tighten slightly around you.

>Proper

The pause continues to grow as she begins to stare at you somewhat impatiently, seemingly expecting something entirely different. Reaching up you pinch her rear again and she struggles to maintain her grip on you.

“So are you going to let me kiss you?”

Her only response is to look away, and slowly begin to loosen the grip on you, her tail unwinding from its gentle hold on your neck; arms held out needfully as she lays on the stairs, waiting for you. Shifting, you move upwards over her and in an instant her hands on your back as she tries to hold you tightly against her body. Slowly she moves to look you more directly in the eyes, holding still for you as she purses her lips.

Gently, slowly, you press your lips to hers and feel her begin to melt against you as her hands run down your back. Absently you can’t but help note that her mouth doesn’t smell, or taste, of cherries but is instead soft and sweet as her tongue darts immediately into your mouth. Pulling away slowly, she grins up at you before biting her bottom lip almost teasingly, for a moment you almost feel bad about having tricked her again.

“More later?” Red eyes stare into yours imploringly, her hands having migrated to your face cupping it.

“L-lets not get distracted, we have a pact so…” You trail off only to wince slightly as she snags your earlobe, pinching it.

“Not that, kissing.” Meryll shifts, and your vaguely aware of her suddenly kissing your neck as she starts to sit up. “I guess we should get back to trying to find the others and everything…”

You breathe out in relief, face flushed, and somewhat unsure if you're making the right decision; but like most things you decided to just roll with it and try to deal with the fallout. Standing properly on the steps you offer your hand to her to help her up, which she takes without thinking and stands quickly at your side not letting go of your hand.

“And Dirk,” She leans against you, looking into your eyes wantingly, “I am going to get you.” You can’t help but shiver at the statement.

Heading back onto course, the two of you head up the stairway only to be met with a large opened area of smooth concrete with what appears to be a series of door frames set into the walls that surround you, in the center of the room is a device you recognize immediately. Large, shaped like an odd bird bath with a series of panels and a large amber gem set in the center; taking this in with the door frames set into walls, you know exactly what this room could be.

“Meryll, this is… I think we... this might be how we get out of this dream.” You look around, taking in more of the room. A series of other rooms can be accessed from this main area, but none are corridors or go anywhere in particular; most appearing to be equipment rooms or some form of general storage.

“Are you sure?” She asks curiously, eyeing the various doorframes and the odd device in the center of the room.

“Absolutely,” You reply quickly, as the two of you approach the dialing device, the symbols on it become clearer and you’re even more sure based on them and the doorways that this is the way to wake up. In the back of your mind you're almost certain that if all of the various doorways are activated and cleared, this will end the dream, obviously this place had to be some kind of construct from your subconscious. “So, who should we save first?”

You slide a hand across the various panels of the device, the symbols apparent in their meaning.

>Sword and shield

Spying over the various panel you begin to weigh your options, Cera could be worthwhile in trying to reign in Meryll and keep her on task but Adira could be useful in ensuring this location could be held and maintained in your absence while trying to find the rest of the girls and even attempting to fight your captors. A small internal debate, and your hand falls to the sword and shield panel and you touch it; it lights just as you’d expect and the amber jewel in the center of the device lights.

There’s a loud electrical pop, and one of the various doorways lights up and begins showcasing a completely new location. Your eyes catch snippets of blurred movement, but overall the image appears to be a snowy location with trees scattered about; or atleast, that's what your mind makes of the blurred image you see.

“We’re going to get Adira first,” You say aloud, glancing over to Meryll, “Assuming we can come back we’ll need a way to defend this location. Make it safe as a base of operations in the meantime.”

Her only response is a somewhat blank stare and it takes a moment to realize why.

“The lizardwoman.” Meryll huffs, crossing her arms.

“I can protect you,” She responds, obviously jealous.

“I don’t doubt that,” You reply, begining to move to the doorway and peering at it, quickly trying to thinking of a clear way to sidestep her concerns, “But you can't defend this place and me at the same time if I’m not here…”

This seems to silence her for a moment as she considers it. Possessive, needy, and obviously a semi-out of control sex drive; you almost do feel bad about not forming a proper pact with her but that would likely forcibly change later after she realizes that you had tricked her. You had heard horror stories about paper pacts being ‘found’ or even mailed to unthinking men who had run afoul of a demon, you weren’t sure if those tales were true but it did send shivers down your spine. One minute trying to be mindful and pick up some liter and then suddenly your incubized with five kids, forcibly compelled to be some demon’s husband.

“Ready?” You ask turning back and holding your hand out to the demon, her eyes flit over you before taking your hand and squeezing.

“Y-yes,”

And in a second you step through the doorway. You notice immediately that it feels like you’ve stumbled through a door, Meryll falling against you as you catch her reflexively; hands on her sides, tight and not wanting to drop her. Outside of noticing that skin is just as supple as it was before, you notice she’s pale, hornless, wingless, tailless, with long thick blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Her outfit however is just the same, still decked out in the strips and straps of what appears to be armored lingerie; body seemingly threatening to spill out at any moment.

“Meryll?” You ask, curious but also somewhat concerned. Eyes meet yours and she gasps loudly, pulling away as quick as she can, high heeled feet sloshing in what you had correctly guessed was snow.

“Who are you!? She spits out, fear clearly painting over her face as the snow slowly starts to drift down around the two of you.

“What do you mean? It’s me, it’s Dirk.” You answer, somewhat confused, “What’s wrong?”

“Y-youre a demon.”

“What?” You almost laugh while asking, your eyes fall to your hands and sure enough they're a dark blue, fingers turned to not much better than blackened claws. “Do I sound different?” You float, and you’re met with a nod.

“Then the math devil is probably here somewhere, assuming we understand how her powers work…” You cast your eyes about, taking in your environment. An odd, not unpleasant but unplaceable smell pervades everything; snow gently falls all around you and twisted looking old trees twist this way and that. If you had to describe it, you’d have to say it looked like the setting of a dark slavic fairytale; bizarrely however, it isn’t cold at all.

“Meryll, do you feel… is it cold?” You ask, skittishly she glances at you.

“N-no, it feels quite nice actually. Like a sunny day…. Are you actually Dirk?”

“We have a pact and you tried to make me kiss your other lips, is that sufficient?” You follow back, to which she blushes savagely and nods happily, grabbing your arm tightly and pressing her breasts against it.

“So, now what…?” She posits, absently.

Taking a clawed finger you point out further on, in the distance there looks like three workable pathways. A path through some snow drifts that seems naturally formed, what appears to be a walkway through some of the twisted trees, and finally what appears to be a pathway that had been driven through the snow as it looks travelled and tamped down.

“We get lost or find what we’re looking for.”

>Driven snow

==Awareness==

16/15

You think on it for a moment and decide on the driven path, as its the only indication of someone having come through the area as there are no footprints in the snow. You wave over Meryll as you begin to trudge forward, finalizing the choice as you head off. Small snowflakes drift down lazily around you.

“Isn’t it a bit unsettling that it isn’t cold?” Meryll throws out, following along behind you as you lead the way.

“Just a bit,” You reply, trying to focus on your footing as you walk slowly through the tamped down snow. Looking forward you begin to notice the odd few trees here and there, unlike the twisted wood from before these look full and as healthy as winterized trees can. Nothing odd catches your eye, nothing out of place, only a driven path through the snow in what is slowly becoming flanked by trees.

In an instant there’s a scream from behind you, high and shrill, full of shock. Whirling round, you nearly lose your footing, and nothing is amiss; Meryll is there, seemingly fine but waving her hands around excitedly.

“What’s wrong?!”

“The snow is wrong!” She spits back quickly, but doesn’t look upset or worried at all. “Stick out your tongue!” She urges on excitedly.

Opening your mouth, you catch a few bits of falling snow on your tongue and they melt nearly immediately. Something is definitely wrong, but you can’t place it other than the fact that whatever it is around you and falling from the sky in slow lazy drifts isn’t snow.

“Weird,” Is the only thing you can put forth as you scoop some of the ‘snow’ from the ground. Meryll quickly bounds over and grabbing your wrist, pulls it close and quickly takes a bite from it. “Wait dont!”

“It’s sweet,” She states, “It’s like a desert…”

You sigh partially of relief but also at the realization of stress you hadn’t realize you were carrying and gingerly take a mouthful of the ‘snow’.

==Klondike bar==

In an instant you realize this is ice cream, some kind of odd flaked and pure snow-white vanilla ice cream. ‘Not too weird, this is a dream after all,’ Is all you can think in response.

“It’s Ice cream, it is a desert.”

Pale hands grip your wrist as your hand is stolen away from you, a soft mouth making incidental contact as bright blue eyes peer at you.

“What?” Meryll asks, “It’s tasty,” You clawed hand still hostage as she pulls it close and being even more bold than before as a tongue darts out and begins to lick at some of the vanilla on your palm. You can’t help but look away, embarrassed but also kind of put off.

“Do you have to eat it from my hand?”

“Huh? But we have a pact, and I’ll be using your body in more ways than this for that,” She states matter-of-factly. “A wagonful of children. It's sealed. Your body and spirit energy is as good as mine.”

“R-right. Yes.” You reply quickly, trying your best not to let any kind of nervousness come into your voice.

“Oh! Dirk, we should plan on some names. What are some go-”

Meryll gets cut off as your world spins into a rapid swirl of vertigo and a stinging pain in your back screams, confusion and disorientation take you.

>Dinosaur

You sprawl roughly into the ice cream-snow with a single loud thud, a shrill scream fills the air as a rasping bird-like barking commences; an unknown weight presses down on your back, pinning you in place.

“Meryll, run!” You manage to yell out, trying to sit up and struggling against the full weight against you. You can’t see it, but you hear her take several steps in the snow, only to fall and scream again. The weight disappears and you flip onto you back, trying as quickly as you can to right yourself in the face of an unknown threat; only to realize you know exactly what this is.

Nearly twenty feet in length, standing a cool five high, scaled death stares down Meryll. Sickle like claws click on its hands as it shifts in the snow, tail waving out while large slit eyes turn this way and that in its narrow skull as it turns back to judge between you and Meryll.

“Aw shit,” Is all you can manage as you fully take in and realize the raptor.

A loud twang resounds through the wooded area and the raptor barks out a shrill song, an arrow suddenly jutting from its shoulder; and like a bad dream, the creature is forgotten as it disappears into the wood.

“Who’s there!?” You demand into the woods as your right yourself, moving quickly to Meryll to check her and help her up. Finding her untouched, but obviously shaken you grab her up and help her into standing.

“What was that?” Meryll asks, shaking as she tries to cling to you.

“An ancient creature from my world,” You reply, obliging and brushing her hair gently.

“It’s me Dirk! Stay put, I’m coming.” Comes a call far off in the wood where you can’t quite see, the voice unfamiliar but if following the conventions of this place perhaps a humanized Adira.

The sounds of footsteps through the woods is the only thing that you and Meryll get in for a good time before you see what is decidedly a human woman in various eclectic pieces of armor, both you and Meryll sigh in relief at the sight of her. Messy brown hair crowns her head, the features of her face dramatically different now that she appears human, and moving slowly and oddly as she walks.

“Are you okay? Are you injured?” You call out, she waves you off as she continues the odd gait.

“No, just… weird to move without a tail or my proper feet.” She replies as she strides closer. “You two look weird, are you that clingy demon from earlier?”

Meryll begins to pout a bit and you can’t but help grin about it, barely managing to suppress a chuckle.

“I am not clingy,” she mumbles, a bit of venom creeping into it.

“We should probably get out of here before the raptor comes back, there’s a safe place we found outside of,” You wave a arm out at your surroundings, “here.”

“Raptor?” She asks, tilting her head to the side, “Like a bird?”

“Think lizardman, but moreso an unthinking animal and from my world.” You look around conspiratorially, almost worried that talking about it anymore may summon it.

“Weird,” She replies, shrugging. “So how do we get out of here?”

>Wandering and wishful thinking

“Wishful thinking while wandering around mostly,” You say as you scratch at the back of your neck, “We may want to hurry, the raptor is from my dream so it’ll likely behave similarly to what I’d learned they had. Pack hunters, especially clever for a wild animal.”

She simply nods at this, seeming to agree with your assessment, and simply shuffles slightly heading in the opposite direction that the raptor had taken off in and waved for you to follow.

“Based on what the two of you are are wearing, I’d say you’ve probably found somewhere stranger than here.”

“You could say that,” You reply, following along in the ice cream-snow.

The three of you trudge along in relative silence for a time, until Meryll grabbed at your clawed hand gripping it and smiling at you which didn’t go unnoticed by the warrior.

“Oh! Did something happen while our group got separated?” She asks somewhat surprised, though the inflection is wrong and comes off sounding a bit disappointed.

“Yes.” Meryll replies matter of factly.

“No.” You reply just as quickly.

There’s a slight pregnant pause as she evaluates both of you only to make a bit of a scoffing noise and go back to shuffling through the snow, Meryll’s response to such is to simply begin to pout again.

“So he’s still fair game, that’s good to know.” The brunette states.

“He is not,” Shoots the blonde angrily, “He’s mine and the rest of you will have to get used to the idea.”

“I’m right here,” You manage, booted feet crunching through the snow.

“Is that so?” Asks the armored one, ignoring your interjection.

“That’s right!” She half shouts, stomping over, “We made a pact and everything, so there’s no point in trying!”

“He sure doesn’t smell claimed to me,”

In an instant the words became more like inarticulate yelling, as the two began to grab at and struggle with each other.

>Let it go on

You endeavour to let it go on, but only as long as it actually needs to. If you intervene they’d likely just start it up again at a later time and it might be worse overall; and at worst just affirm that there is a pact, not necessarily what it entails to get them to stop. At a certain level, the word play you had played kind of eats at you a little as Meryll was obviously somewhat obviously infatuated with you if she was willing to pick a fight over just the potential of some other girl vying for you.

There’s a bit more yelling, a slap, and you’d be lying if you said you weren't watching rapt as Meryll and Adira’s bodies bounced, jiggled, and flexed. And in an instant, none of it matters.

You’re suddenly aware that you’re being dragged rapidly away at a fast clip, something tough and absurdly strong is gripping your ankle as you sail through ice cream-snow. Everytime you try to orient yourself upwards and open your mouth to yell, sweet vanilla powdered ice cream fills your mouth choking out any sound you could muster.

Passing glimpses around you show the trees becoming gnarled and twisted, almost warped looking from what you can tell between bouts of drowning in the snow as you twist this way and that. And just as suddenly just as soon as it started, it stops.

Whatever grips your ankle releases it and your blood runs cold in your veins. A loud bird-like barking greets you as you hear feet crunch snow some feet from you. Turning over, a soft earthy colored apex predator stares you down as it tilts its head in a decidedly natural lizard fashion.

“Erk!” The raptor barks at you, clawed hands flexing rapidly as it waves them excitedly. It takes a moment, but you notice the raptor wearing a small set of ragged impromptu bandages where it had previously been hit with an arrow. “Erk! Erk!”

Your mind reels in confusion, not quite sure to process what you're seeing besides simply saying that it’s just a dream.

Sickle clawed hands take hold of your coat as the lizard quickly sets upon you and you can’t help but flinch expecting immediate death. But it never comes, instead the raptor shakes you roughly.

“ERK!” it barks, in the distance you can see a doorway set into nothing looking much like the one you went through to get here.

>Think it through

“A-adira?” You manage as the surreal nature of it hits you, this only prompts more shaking before the raptor grasps you tightly as if hugging you. You shiver uncontrollably at this, as ancient primeval parts of your lower brain screams in abject horror.

“ERK!”

“What happened to you?” You sputter trying to pull away and lightning fast a claw grasps at your head and you’re suddenly reminded of your changed appearance as she maneuvers your head about by what you assume is a horn coming out of your head. One of the changes to your appearance you couldn’t see.

“Erk! Erk!”

“Right, the dreamscape changes things…” You say outloud, mostly for yourself, “We have to go back, we can’t just leave Meryll.”

Large slit predator eyes regard you, head twitching like a bird before a muzzle presses against you and inhales deeply, clawed dinosaur hands touch at your shoulders and tap gently.

“Would all of you stop that!” You pull away, “We have to go back and get her, because you left her with who knows who! Besides, we’ve got a pact and its… look, you guys can’t fight over me in the real world if you're so dead set on it.” Adira seems to consider this a moment before snorting loudly.

She shifts oddly, body lowering somewhat, you move closer hand outstretched.

“You're going to carry me?” You ask, trying to make sense of it all while ensuring there isn’t a miscommunication. In a moment she’s pressing against you as you clamber about, nearly falling over and off, before she begins bounding off into the snow clumsily with you on her back.

This time the trek through the snow isn’t quite so bad, albeit with a touch of disorientation as the world gallops by. Above the sky darkens almost ominously.

“Erk! ERk!” Adira barks as she suddenly jumps to the side and you find yourself falling into a drift of snow roughly as an arrow slams into a nearby tree.

“Dirk!?” Comes a quick yell, the voice is immediately recalled and despite some minor pain in your back, you already feel somewhat better hearing her.

“Meryll, come here right now!” You sit up, groaning somewhat, noticing the raptor taking cover behind a set of trees; an odd sight. “Don’t argue, just come here!” You hope to a certain degree that whoever Meryll is with is still pretending to be the Lizardwoman.

“But it’s out there, somewhere!” Comes the other, calling out likewise.

“No, its gone!” You yell back, “Just… I’m injured, please!” You plead, sitting more so on the balls of your feet in a squatting position as you do your best to look in pain. The sky above darkens slightly.

There’s a sudden shout from the false Adira as Meryll bounds to you in the snow, her current blonde hair flowing about while the demon uniform somehow continues to contain her from simply spilling out. ‘Has to be magic,’ You think in the back of your mind. As she comes close you hold out your clawed blue and black hands only to snatch her wrists and pull her quickly down into the drift with you, one hand quickly covering her mouth as she begins to gasp.

“Don’t say anything, just follow my lead. That isn’t Adira.” You whisper quickly.

“What happened?” Comes a call from the woods, you eyes pour into Merylls before you nudge her.

“I-I fell down, I’m okay. Dirk is here,” She yells back, looking somewhat tense as she remembers that the fake was armed. As she scans about she notices the real Adira and simply gives you a look as if she doubts any of it.

“Adira,” You call out to both at the same time, mind rolling forward on your next step.

>We’re going to come to you

“We’re going to come to you, stay put and watch behind us as we approach.” You stand slowly, helping Meryll up as well as you do. “Adira,” You loudly whisper to her as she stays hunched behind a tree, “Go around and get her from behind, we’ll try to distract her. Don’t kill her.”

Reaching over you take Meryll’s hand and halting, adopting a limping gait, moving somewhat slowly and overly dramatically.

“Make big movements as we go so she wont notice Adira, once we’re close enough to speak to the fake face to face you’ll need to slip in the snow and twist your ankle.” You speak low, “Then we’ll have her approach to help carry you. Dont tell or try to signal when, just do it.”

“I understand,” She gives your hand a squeeze in hers, “Do you think it’s one of the upstarts who brought us here?”

“Maybe. She could also be just an aspect of the dream, She could also be Adira as well, She could be anyone or anything honestly.” You think through, “We can’t really know, we basically have to feel this out blind with only our wits and hope for the best.”

“At least you're here then, I'm sure you’ll be able to figure this out.” She replies smiling at you, helping you along in your false walking.

The sky darkens more as you continue to approach, threatening to snow or perhaps rain, in a short time you begin to make out the fake as she’s crouched down by a tree with arrow notched and ready.

“There you two are,” She says almost relieved.

“Have you seen it?” You ask, trying to sound somewhat harried as you try to force worry into your voice.

“No,” She replies quickly, keeping her voice low.

And in a split second Meryll tumbles, pulling you down with her into the snow and on top of her with a yelp. A smug if not outright mischievous grin meets you for a split second until she remembers her role.

“M-my ankle,” She hisses, shifting under you and touching at your sides.

“Are you okay?” You start, starting to sit up on your knees and go almost mechanically to check her leg, only to be interrupted.

“You did that on purpose!” The fake shrieks angrily before beginning to bound towards the two of you in the snow, huffing loudly all the way, “You think I’m going to let you try and woo him with some clumsy girl act!”

As she begins to bound forward you almost didn’t notice something fall into the snow as a blur of soft earthen toned lizard begins to bear down on her. Another object falls into the snow just out of your view.

>Stay calm as adira works

==Awareness==

20/12

Thinking better of it, you decide to let Adira get the fake as there’s no need to do much of anything else as she throws a complete fit over Meryll. Maybe it jealousy, maybe she could tell that Meryll actually was faking her fall, but it didn’t matter because it had accomplished what you wanted. She was distracted.

In a few moments more objects fall from the sky, thumping into the ice cream-snow and as you notice their shapes you immediately recall exactly what they are.

“Ha!” You let out involuntarily, smirking somewhat about the blocks of chocolate covered ice cream that was ‘snowing’ down lightly.

“What's that?” The fake suddenly asks, stopping dead in her tracks, Adira now closing in.

“What did you do?” She rasps loudly and a suspicion you had is immediately confirmed just as Adira slams into her and into the snow. A shriek fills the air as more bars fall from the sky, Adira simply stands on her prey pressing down at her shoulders to force the fake to be prone.

“We did it!” Meryll lets out joyfully, sitting up some and grabbing at you.

The environment around you shudders, seeming almost to tilt in on itself as some of the snow begins to lift off into the sky from the ground; the trees around you begin to dance with colors.

“Adira, don’t move no matter what,” You yell out, shutting your eyes tightly as you begin to get disoriented and a sensation of sea-sickness begins to take you, a series of lizard like whistles greet you. “She’s trying to screw with our perceptions.” You can still feel the world shifting beneath you as Meryll grips you tightly in desperation.

“Dirk! How are we going t-”

“Just, give me a second.” You snap back quickly, stomach rolling violently over itself.

“Adira, gently press down on her chest. Don't let her breathe until this stops and she’s out cold!” You grab Meryll tightly, pulling her close and on top of you expecting things to get turbulent.

Instead there’s a sudden silence and out of curiosity you open your eyes. Only a black void greets you; you can see nothing, hear nothing, and besides the sensation of holding Meryll and her body against yours, you can’t feel anything. Just nothing, in the endless black.

Moving one of your hands you touch at Meryll’s back and are surprised to find her wings are back as is her sundress, but really it wasn’t so surprising; they had always been there, you just couldn’t perceive them before. You wait a few moments, only feeling Meryll touching at your face, and in your boredom touch at her wings again, feeling the contours of it and oddly her heartbeat thudding gently in the soft nearly skin-like material. They aren’t leathery, tough, or nearly as sharp feeling as they looked but were instead smooth, soft, and but a decidedly different texture than the rest of her skin. You gently squeeze at one of the wing joints, feeling it against your fingers and palm.

Hands grasp either of your ears and yank in a way meant to get your attention as she shudders against you, a tail you can’t see wrapping tightly on your wrist.

>Keep touching

You smirk in the dark void, hands drifting over her. Following her tail thats wrapped on your wrist you find its source and gently grab it, this illisits a shudder followed by soft lips violently clashing against yours, a leg shifts and wraps around one of yours as you drift in the nothingness.

A hand runs itself through your hair, tugging as another touches at you chest, and in an instant the lips are gone from yours but instead now tracing on the side of your jaw. You can feel Meryll’s breath hitch with each one, her face pressing into the crook of your neck.

Idly you touch at one of her horns with your other hand, gently caressing the protrusion. You wondered at it, as it was warm and certainly didn’t feel like it was made of keratin. Silently you feel her pull away somewhat, then readjust herself in an odd position as she grabs up handfuls of your shirt. It takes a moment to realize, with no concept of up or down, but as she wraps her other leg around your you fully comprehend what might be about to happen.

But nothing does, instead Meryll simply shifts somewhat in a way you can only describe as needfully as her hands touch at yours every now and again, trying to urge you on.

>tease

You opt to tease her a bit more given the prime opportunity. You tug at the base of her tail and instantly you can feel her flex her legs against you, a hand pawing at you chest as lips chase the side of your neck. Letting go of her horn you reach down and grasp gently at her thigh, this only seems to drive her on as her hips begin to sway and her spaded tail squeezes at your wrist rhythmically.

Sensations begin to bleed back into the world, you can tell you're on your back but it definitely no longer holds the texture of the ice cream-snow, nor does it feel like the ground. A scent of cherries wafts over you and in a moment is gone.

One Merylls hands traces of your throat, shifting her weight to be more on you as she grinds down on you; your body happily responds, obviously the reaction she was wanting because she uses her legs hooked around yours to leverage down onto you further.

Quickly you let go of her tail and slap roughly at her rear, and in an instant the world is awash in color and form.

You’re laid out on a bed in a room you don’t recognize. Tones of hardwood cover most of the walls and even ceiling, almost all of the cloth is either a wine red or purple; books on shelves, tapestries, and more line the walls. A single large window pours in light, in what appears to be a nice sunny day.

Meryll stares down at you, purple in the face and back to being a lovely blue with her sharp midnight hair; though her sundress is gone, the only thing she appears to be wearing nothing much besides a determined look that was slowly being overtaken by surprise. Supple breasts stare at you, as does smooth perfectly unblemished skin that begs for you to look at it.

“Y-you are the worst,” She mutters, pressing close and setting her head on your chest, her hands touching your hair.

You slowly begin to take account of everything and quickly realize that you're in somewhat of a risky situation. Like Meryll you aren’t wearing much, though you're at least wearing what passed for boxers in the monster realm, small clothes they call them, and they're soaked through.

“You know…” Meryll starts, tracing a shape in your hair.

“We really should wait,” You murmur, not sure if you even want to wait yourself, “Is this… your room?” You ask curiously, hands beginning to wander down her back simply to admire the feel and warmth.

“Yes,” nails scratch gently at your scalp, you can feel something running up your thigh trying to snake its way into your boxers. You try to ignore it somewhat, considering it mostly a consolation prize for her as you try to think in terms of dreams and irrational reality; hoping you can somewhat salvage what and where you are or somehow return to snowy woods.

“Meryll, when you are home,” You start, feeling her prod with the tip of her tail further trying boldly to get at you, “How do you normally summon Cera?”

Her prodding ceases for a moment, then resumes, slipping past as she points over to a nightstand with an prismatic colored orb on it.

“Normally, I would just touch that.” Something warm touches at you in your boxers.

“H-hey,”

“Hey yourself,” Her voice takes on a husky tone, “You were mean to me, I can be mean back if I want. Fair is fair.” The spade prods at you, causing you to inhale sharply only for a loop of tail to grasp around you.

“M-meryll,” You can’t help but flex your back as she tightens down on you with her tail, squeezing, “We could try to, nnn-” You trail off trying to grab at her only for her to grasp you hands and press down; her coiled tail giving a few incredibly tight experimental pumps.

“W-we will,” She breathes down at you, “We can try to summon her after I’ve punished you. Our pact will stand though, so don’t worry.”

>½ comply, ½ try to summon Cera

You relax somewhat as her tail coils about, pumping in a slow but consistent method that moment to moment becomes more and more rhythmic. Parts of you twitch needfully as you fight the need to thrust or flex in response to the sensations. Meryll shifts lightly, one hand disappearing from your wrist as she hums in approval, her tail picking up speed.

“G-good boy,” She murmurs, face pressing into the nook of your neck, her skin feeling hot.

“M-meryll,” You tremble, feeling part of her coil up and over the underside of your turgid form as it slips past mid pump, only to quickly recoil around you tightly, “W-what if Cera or someone comes in?” This causes her to pause mid pump, a deep inhale against your chest as she begins to think it over. “How are we going to make sure we have privacy for this, or more if you’d want?” You add, hoping she’d either go for the door to lock it somehow or at least get her thinking about Cera just walking in.

This was obviously an outcropping of her, a dream being projected from her onto your dreamscape in this shared place; somehow. Wanting something or thinking of things seemed to cause changes, maybe her desire caused by your teasing created the change in environment? A deep need for you to be in her bed; you bury the thoughts as she begins to huff somewhat and sit up.

In one fluid motion she’s up, plodding across the room and quickly threw open the door and held her arms out to present it.

“See, we’re alo-” She stares down the hallway, somewhat surprised by its presence; in terms of things it looked like it belonged as part of the same building. Beautiful, polished hardwood and colored furniture meeting the same patterns as her room. You shift to the edge of the bed, feet to the floor as you sit watching. “N-no matter, we’ll just lock the door.”

Quickly she grabs a chair from a desk on her wall and after closing the door jams it under the handle. You can’t help but admire her form, supple with a proper amount of bounce as she moves, your eyes inetrixably being drawn to her hips.

“Now,” She turns, her full body on display as she takes on a husky, predatory tone yet again, “Where were we?” Part of you immediately goes to war with yourself and you can’t help but be tempted, part of you traitorously twitches drawing her ruby eyes to stare at it.

“Maybe we could…,” You trail off, not sure quite what you want as you look her over.

“Naughty boy,” She whispers, strutting over and each step giving her chest a nice bounce that drives you more into temptation. “You want to break the pact you made with me? Or maybe you want to negotiate a new one…?” She trails off, leaning close and touching at your shoulders.

“Maybe just… change how you punish me?” You float hopefully, unsure about what's going to happen other than looking over to the door between stealing longing looks over Meryll’s body; part of you instinctively believing the two of you would be interrupted in moments.

“And what should I do to punish you then?” She licks her lips hungrily, her black backed eyes boring into you.

Reaching up you grasp gently at her horns and her eyes immediately drop from your face and lock onto their target, obviously Meryll had been thinking something similar. Black nailed hands touch at your thighs as she lowers herself down to her knees, she glances up momentarily before smirking at you as you grip her smooth horns firmly, her tail wagging happily.

Meryll shifts forward, biting at the hem of the boxers and pulls them down excitedly, eyes glancing up to catch yours momentarily causing your freed form to twitch needfully, a low sound of awe is her only response as her hands begin to grip your thighs.

“Dirk,” She says, breathing intentionally on you and stealing another upwards glance at you, “How bout we make a deal?”

“W-what?” Is all you can manage as she suddenly rushes forward, tongue teasing you immediately as your tip is taken into her mouth; ruby eyes glare up at you as you reflexively try to pull her away using her horns.

You tremble, fighting against her and losing but more so due to the overwhelming sensations as she suckles harshly on the tip of you, tongue darting across you. Spade tail disappearing beneath her and though unable to see it, you know exactly what is pressing up beneath and cradling you as her mouth cruelly works on you.

After a moment your strength leaves you and all you can do is give it, her horns becoming nothing more than handlebars for your ride. And just as you begin to relax, there's a wet pop and you're free from her ministrations, left only to pant and realize you had been holding your breath.

Meryll’s lips trace against you, tongue darting out and tasting at you teasingly.

“You smell soooo good,” She murmurs, mostly to herself before eyes look up at you and catch yours. “You’ll have till I’m done to make any kind of pact with me that you want,” Her tongue touches at you, before she kisses at the tip of you. “Anything you want from me, otherwise, you’ll have to wait.”

<Embrace 10 innate recognition

<Privacy 12

Your eyes fly over the door in a slight moment of panic before looking back down to Meryll, her mouth envelopes you again as she savors the moment. All is quiet except for her ministrations, no far off footsteps or knocking at the blocked door. You know what she’s actually asking for, but you have other ideas.

“Innate,” You inhale sharply as her tongue rolls over you, eyes starting to glare at you, “recognition. I want to be able to see through glamours or magic.” You finish right as she slaps your thigh.

There’s a wet pop as you're freed, her hand tightening on you as an annoyed look paints over her face.

“Dirk!” Her voice is an odd mix of annoyed and excited, “T-that’s not what I meant…but I will, if you want… but it’ll be costly mana-wise,” Her hand tightens on your member, and you groan at the needful sensation, her face a deep purple. “Are you always going to be all business about these? I didn’t take you to be so old fashioned, it’s not a bad thing but its just surprising.” She pumps you slowly with her hand, staring up at you.

“N-no, once we’re outside the dream we ca-” Your breath hitches as she licks at you, lips dragging across you.

“You’d better,” She nips at the side of your member, her noise pulling deeply at your scent, her voice takes on a husky and needful tone again, “I’ll need your mana about once every now and again to power that, if this pact is agreeable for you just grab my horns and enjo~y.” Her ruby eyes bore into you, face purple, and wearing a lustful appearance.

----

“Well, if you wouldn’t mind being old fashioned maybe after giving you mana you should do what I request,” You float, grinning cockily, her only response is to somehow look an even darker shade of purple.

You grip her horns readily, having decided on this course of action, only to immediately be hit with a wave of soul shaking pleasure as you feel her mouth slam down on you. You can’t help your voice as she works on you, her hands gripping tightly on your hips. You begin to tremble, hands beginning to white knuckle as you hold on for your life fearing against reason that your soul was about to be sucked out.

It doesnt take long before you begin to feel lightheaded and as if the impending completion of the agreement. Unsure of what else you can do, you glance down and catching her perfect red eyes sends you over the edge and you release her, falling back onto the bed in heap as your body gives her several large swallow fulls of mana. You shudder and she swallows one last time before releasing you.

“So tasty,” She murmurs as you lay on the bed panting. Meryll lifts herself from the bedside and goes about her room, looking things over and opening a nearby armoire as she riffles through various outfits. Slowly you catch your breath and sit up, a faint wisp of green catches your eye, but immediately fades from view; it takes only a moment or so but you realize a problem you face.

“Meryll,” You start, “What am I going to wear? I’ve only got these boxers,” You say shifting off of the bed and hiking them up onto yourself.

Meryll hums, turning to look at you in a somewhat predatory grin.

“I don’t know, those seem fine for now and for old fashioned things.” She smirks, turning back to the armoire. “Besides, I don’t mind the view.”

“You really are after me, aren’t you?”

She simply grins at you again before there's a sudden loud bang from the door. This is subsequently followed up by a series of knocks on the door with Meryll walking over it and pulling the chair free.

“Cera?” Meryll asks as she opens the door and sure enough, the automaton is standing there just as you had last seen her.

“Ah, mistress.” She states flatly as she sees Meryll, her eyes scanning over the room till falling on you as you attempt vainly to halfway cover yourself; there is no recognition, whatever that would look like in her robotic eyes. “How sad. Dirk seemed like a nice fellow if not a bit odd, where did you find this man?”

“I’m Dirk.” You respond flatly sighing, you look over Cera with a bit of concern. She was there when you established to the group that everyone’s perceptions weren’t trust worthy, in particular that the girls weren’t able to determine what you accurately looked like; Cera in specific believing you to have a facial deformity.

Mentally you press and try and cause your newfound pact ability to activate, nothing happens for a moment but in seconds Cera appears to become transparent and blending slightly into the background.

“Cera, why don’t you r-”

“She’s not Cera, she’s just part of the dream. Background, maybe because we’re expecting her.” You state, walking towards the bed nightstand and the summoning orb.

>Attempt to summon Cera and then go back for Adira

You touch at the orb, it lights at your touch and as you heft it and turn back the Meryll you hold it out, unsure of what to do next.

“What next?” You ask, almost holding it out.

“That should be it, it is lit up…” The two of you look around, even down the hallway as a ghostly Cera begins to go about tidying up the recently used bed. There isn’t any changes until the ghostly Cera bows and begins to go off down the hallway.

“Well… that’s a bust.” You mutter, “You really don’t have anything for me to wear?” Meryll simply smirks and sticks her tongue out at you.

“Fine, but you’ll need to hold this,” You hand off the orb, “Might as well use the dream logic any chance we get. Maybe it’ll work somewhere else, until then… maybe we should try to find Adira again.” Meryll quietly takes the orb and begins to dress, almost making a show of it as she pulls on stockings and a simple dress; occasionally pausing to look back at you almostly knowingly, until she was fully clothed and pocketed the orb in a shoulder slung bad. Her outfit was reminiscent of black nylon tights finished with shiny black heels, an oversized cardigan that turned into a dress, and a bag that rested on her hip.

“Well, let's go then.” Meryll stands at the door and holds her hand out to you expectantly, smiling happily. You take her hand, feeling her warm skin against yours as the two of you begin to walk down the hallway. You mind begins to drift as the two of you cross through hallways that all begin to look the same, no changes or looks of confusion begin to paint her face so you relax.

Thinking over it and what you’ve gotten yourself into so far you begin to realize that you're more or less wandered into being married, if not slowly groomed for it. Ordinarily this would evoke a level of anxiety in you, not necessarily cold feet perse, but the realization of responsibility and concerns of disappointment; the walls of the mansion around you begin to press in, almost mocking you and you feel nothing but contentedness. A calm, an absolutely alien calm.

“Meryll,” You stop abruptly, her hand tugging at your arm before realizing you’ve stopped, “Do you… feel anything?”

“I feel a lot of things,” She turns to you almost purring, pressing close as her fingers interlock with yours as her wings flap gently, “Why? Do you feel something you want to tell me about?” Her emphasis of ‘feel’ sends goosebumps across your skin.

“Not like that,” You start, “I should feel concerned about everything, us mostly…but I don't.” You wave your arm around at your current surroundings, “I don’t have anything close to this to share with you at all, I live in a shack in comparison, I should feel worried about thi-”

In an instant you’re against the wall, her body pressed tight against you as her lips find your ear and her spare hand grasps your spare wrist and pinning you to the wall with a level of strength she hadn’t shown prior. Her breath is hot on your neck, lips brushing against your ear gently.

“Don’t worry about it. I told you I’d get you and now I have,” She looses your wrist and grabs at something near your neck and tugs at it, a faint glow of green from something you can’t quite see pulling on your neck, “You’re mine now. Anywhere or thing more that happens, it’ll be fine because you’re mine.” A knee slides up your leg, pressing against you roughly and your only response was to blush deeply while also feeling your stomach begin to drop out.

Teeth nip at your earlobe, another tug at whatever it was around your neck pulled at you, and a knee dressed in dark tights ground into the underside of you, begging for a response.

“If the lack of your normal feeling of worry is an issue, I can lift that from the pact…” She kisses at the side of your neck, “But I wouldn’t have formed it unless I was fine with the consequences.”

“But we didn’t form that kind of a pact,” You reply, confusion in your voice very apparent as your traitorous body begins to react.

“Vague verbal contract which you fully agreed to,” She clicks her tongue, “You implied that you were going to make a proper, modern pact with me. Should have been more clear.” She kisses you roughly before pulling away and looking a bit concerned for once, “Y-you aren’t upset are you?”

>Dont mess with my head, I need to think and react clearly to make decisions

“About tricking me? No.” You respond as a sharp smile catches your eye and you can’t help feel a bit embarrassed, she had gotten you. “Just… please don’t mess with my head, I need to think and feel like I usually do to react and make clear decisions,”

Meryll simply presses against you again and kisses your neck before pulling away and in seconds you feel the weight of the anxiety and worry coming down on you. You feel oddly happy to have it before sighing and holding your hand out for her to resume your walk through the dream-mansion.

“Thank you,”

“It’s no problem,” She says as she takes your hand and begins to guide you through again, “You were really worried about my decision because of this place?”

“Yes. Things are different in the otherworld.” You offer, only for her to scowl.

“Things aren’t like that here,” She squeezes your hand before lightly letting go and lacing her fingers in yours. “Besides, it isn’t about where we are so long as there’s a ‘we’ whereever it happens to be.” Most of your anxiety begins to evaporate, as your more rational mind begins dumping out monster’s obsessive behaviors in regards to men and what they’d do just to be able to hold hands with a man.

“Y-yeah, sorry. It’s just what I’m conditioned to, so please dont… It doesn’t mean I have doubts about you I mean.” She merely hums happily and squeezes your hand again as the two of you continue on down the hallway in relative silence.

Turning the two of you proceed only to stop abruptly as Meryll starts to look confused, the hallway deadending into nothing. She goes to turn around, taking you with her, only to be stuck again as the two of you find yourselves in a small room seemingly comprised of the hallway. The two of you turn about, seeing all four barren walls before settling on a door that hadn’t been there before.

“Where do you suppose that goes?” She asked aloud, perhaps even to herself, her tail swishing through the air like a cat having found something it doesn’t recognize.

“I have an idea,” You say, taking a few steps closer to the rouge door and touching the handle gently. “Think of where we were before, okay?”

You look back only to see her turning purple and licking her lips.

“Not there, before!” You snap, your face heating up, “The snowy place. Alright.”

“Alright,”

You close your eyes, trying to focus on it as you grip the door handle and turn.

>12/16

>Bad things

The door is flung wide and you open your eyes as you step with Meryll in tow, into snow. The trees surrounding you look similar to what you had left behind, and gently scooping up a handful of snow you test it apprehensively only to find that it is vanilla flavored. Looking down youre yet again in the amalgamation uniform, Meryll in her tight form fitting lingerie’-like armor and threatening to spill out at any moment. Albeit you are perfectly human this time, and she is perfectly blue and her typical self.

“This is the right place, right?” She eyes the snow in your hand.

“I certainly seems like it, lets look around for her.” You reply, holding the snow up for her to try, which she does happily and with gusto.

The two of you trudge about, finding little that fully resembles what you left behind but instead trees bearing more and more greenery; though the snow is still ample and covers much. It isn’t until you hear the far off echo of a mortar that you begin to realize that something isn’t all quite right. You squeeze Meryll’s hand tightly, pulling her close at the sound but strangely nothing follows it.

“Thats odd,” She says, “Do you think we’ve ended up back at the warzone place? We are wearing those clothes again.”

“I don’t know,” There’s another far off mortar, thudding and echoing as it explodes.

“Should we go towards it?” Meryll asks nervously, stepping close. In your periphery you notice some of the green on the trees beginning to darken and wither rapidly. Your eyes snap to them, watching it happen, and part of you begins to fight another. You know what that is, but you just can’t place it and your curiosity demands you figure out; meanwhile the other insists that Adira is likely where the fighting is happening and to forget this place.

>Stay and observe

“No,” You reply quickly, “We should try and observe this and figure it out, we already know what’s likely over there.” You whip your eyes back and forth slowly watching the trees and greenery wither up and die. “I know this, but I can’t place it…” You mutter aloud, as the two of you hold onto another.

“I’ve never seen anything like this… but you have?” Meryll’s voice takes on a concerned tone.

“N-no, I’ve heard of this before but I can’t place it.” You elaborate, staring at the trees with suspicion, “It’s weird because I’m almost certain I should know this…”. Meryll simply huffs and you try to shake away the errant and intrusive thought that you know exactly what this is.

Reaching down you scoop another handful of the ice cream-snow and hold it out for her, as she leans in for it you gently toss it onto her exposed chest only to illicit a shrill shriek and a dirty look as she tries to brush it out of her cleavage.

“Dirk! Thats cold!” She glares at you and without thinking you reach out and grasp at her to check; her skin and what little of it still there does indeed send a chill through you.

“Weird, it wasn’t cold when I picked it up…” You trail off, hand cupping a rather plump blue breast. Your eyes lock with hers for a pregnant pause before you catch a light of something that gives you pleasant feeling in the back of your head, like a prickling touch at the back of your neck, and pull your hand away just as a predatory smile begins to form. “Probably means the dream is shifting,”

You quickly pull off your amalgamation military coat and begin wrapping her in it, her arms popping through the sleeves.

“We’ll have to hurry and figure this out, if our sensations are going to reflect the environment this place is going to get really unpleasant quite quickly.” She gently touches at your hands as you button up the coat for her. As Meryll begins to open her mouth to say something a stark, wailing whistle pierces the air and then silences and as you look at her, you're certain your eyes are as wide as hers.

You take a moment, both of you looking about before grasping at Meryll and taking her by the wrist to lead her off in a direction opposite that the sound appeared to have come from in the far off woods. After only three steps a shrill whistle begins, flat and sharp in tone and as it belts out tones your mind grasps at it and responds.

‘What would I do?’

>Awareness 19/11

>Look for a place to hide

You recognize the song from years of the commercials, but its wrong and warped and flat. All of the tones are wrong by an octive or two, the tempo slow and lower than it had any right to be. The shrill whistle starts again, belting out the notes one by one and your now aware mind follows. Your eyes snap about looking for a source of it or for a place to hide.

‘What would yo~u do, for a klondike bar?’

“Huh,” You grunt, starting to calm somewhat before letting out a chuckle; Meryll simply looks on at you in confusion. “It’s uh… it’s a jingle for the ice cream,” You offer with a smile as you motion to the snow around you, “Its just off for some reason, it shouldn’t sound like that.”

“Oh,” Is all she offers.

“W-we should hurry and figure something out,” You say, a slight sensation of cold creeping into the tips of your boots.

You held your hand out for her, waiting expectantly only for her face to twist in fear before letting out a shrill scream and hoping back and taking a tumble in the snow.

“Meryll what’s wro-” You start only to be jerked the opposite way.

Blood and gore greet you, bile and blood and the immediate recognizable smell of sweat and piss and something you can’t quite place. Fetid, ruined flesh fills your vision as well as bloodied, cooked looking eyes staring into yours as you are grabbed at and unceremoniously shoved into the snow; pieces of it come loose onto your clothes and a new smell and set of sensations assault you.

Sharp chemical cleaner stabs at your nose, making it sting, as the oily remains of skin and muscle bleed through your amalgamation shirt. Black bile rockets from what used to be a mouth as it falls into the snow next to you; the remains of a man who suffered something worse than death. You retch as tears fill your eyes but not just because of the smell. You scan the attacker, picking through all the details you can before looking away as your stomach begins to death roll.

“Meryll, w-” You begin coughing, fighting your stomach as you start to stand up, “We have to go now.” As you stand you notice her bent over and losing her lunch.

“What…” She pauses in between motions, taking a breath as tears stream down her face.

“Dead men. Attack of the deadmen.” You spit out, mouth salivating as your body screamed for the right to vomit and absently you wiped at your mouth, unsteadily approaching her. Scooping up snow as you stumbled, you began to use it to scrub at your shirt where it had touched you hoping to either wipe a good amount of it away; there was no change to the smell, but it made you feel as if it was cleaner as you scrubbed and a newfound cold set in on you. “The trees withered and died first, a sign of the imminent and invisible attack,” You spit excess saliva away as you battled your guts, “They were dead and didn’t even know it yet, kept fighting even as their bodies fell apart… they won, even though they all died.”

“And in the otherwor-”

“Yes.” You cut her off, knowing exactly where her line of questioning is going, similar cultural questions had been drilled out of you after you had been taken to your new home; most mamono had a deep set problem with accepting everyday normal for mundane humanity’s culture and mores. “This is considered a normal expectation of war for men.”

Meryll, doesn’t respond but instead grimaces and sobs quietly.

“We have to figure out where Adira is,” You finally close the distance, touching her shoulder gently, “And quickly. Dont look at it, but my uniform is different. There’s likely more of them, and they’re supposed to sweep through this area and begin killing anything that isn’t them.”

“T-this really happened?” She folds her arms over herself, beginning to tremble.

“In a manner similar, but this is a poorly shaped nightmare. We have to go, the dream is taking hold and shaping now, the dead are coming and it's getting cold now.”

>Oneiromancy 18/15

>Rip and tear 18/17

>Decomp the bodies, fight through the dead, find Adira

Your mind tugs at you in an alien manner and you find yourself holding out your hand to the now ruined body before you, fingers stretching out as you begin to feel the edges of an unseen fabric of dream-reality. You push gently as you had before and beyond, hoping to skeletonize the ruin heap of man shaped meat before you to at least make it easier to look at and possibly to ensure future encounters weren’t as traumatic. Instead of simply skeletonizing the corpse, it hissed and loudly shifted as if expelling materials and merely molded, blackened, and began to have shards of it shatter off in chunks as if made of glass before leaving only a ruined, corpse stained uniform.

You sigh in relief, partially that the body is gone and that a impulsive sensation from outside yourself wasn’t a mistake. Despite the bite of cold you become away of sweat beading on your back and brow, shaking not from the cold but from the sensation of that alien will that had pushed you for your action. Meryll merely looked on, making a shocked sound in her throat as she watched you, seeming to have calmed from the initial trauma.

“T-thats magic! I thought you said you said you couldn’t use magic?” Meryll starts in a tone of awe and upset, perhaps thinking you had lied.

“I-I can’t. I don’t understand this… I just… we have to find Adira, we have to get out of here.” You shiver, your indwelt slight distrust of magic biting at you. You weren’t necessarily irrationally afraid of magic, but you distrusted it as a man would distrust guns after an accident. “Maybe it’s because its a dream?”

Meryll just looks at you curiously, eyes sharp as always but lighted with concern.

“We…. we should hurry,” She mumbles, holding a hand out to you, if there was any doubt of you she didn’t readily show it.

You gently take her hand, helping her stand in the snow as she shivers a bit as both of you breath out jets of steam; the cold fully setting in as the dream shifts to be more ‘real’. You think deeply as the two of you start to shuffle through the snow in a seemingly random direction as you still feel some kind of ethereal guidance, you squeeze lightly at Merylls soft hand as you enjoy its warmth and general security. ‘She’ll protect me,’ you think absently.

Your mind jumped around, thinking on weapons and more and how the bag you had left in the weird storage room with the doors would be useful at a time like this. You could almost visualize the bag and everything in it, the shape and textures, the materials. Your eyes catch your free hand an an errant thought hits you, you stretch out your hand as the two of you near a tree and all you can think of is the cache of guns and tools in the duffle you had left behind, how natural it would look propped against the rear of this tree. How would be there as you rounded past.

Mentally you pushed gently, and as before you begin to feel something give against you.

==Four of six points remain==

As you rounded the bend, you cast your eye to the back end of the tree only to find a duffle there and the shape it was making was unmistakingly meaning it was full. You stop and go to move towards it only for Meryll to tug on your hand, the concerned look returning to her face.

“Dirk,” Her tone is flat, obviously worried, as she squeezes your hand tightly. “D-don’t.You’re using up mana and we have no idea how you’re using magic, we don’t know if it’s even safe. If the things your causing are safe…,”

“Well, how about we make some rules then?” You posit, only for her to stick out her tongue playfully at you.

“I do like having rules for you,” She murmurs, her voice turning somewhat husky as her eyes light in a predatory fashion.

“And besides that, how do I recuperate mana anyways?” This question only gets an incredibly toothy grin from her as she presses close, your question seemingly answered as she grabs at you with her free hand and cups tightly.

“And moreso then what I need from you for the pact.”

“R-right. Yeah.”

“So only use it as needed?” You offer, both of your eyes meeting for a moment before her’s begin to darken.

“W-what? No. We’re going to use it often and…. You mean the magic, don’t you?”

You feel your face begin to burn somewhat as hers starts to turn purple, part of you unsure if you’d ever get over how needful she’d be about you and your one eyed friend.

“Yes, Meryll. Only using the magic when its actually needed,”

“T-that should be acceptable then, only when necessary and recharging whenever I want.” Her grip on you loosens as she steps aside and grabs at the duffle for you, hefting it and then coming back and pulling you into a savage kiss. In the cold environment her lips feel surprisingly hot to the touch and even as you reach for the bag and knowing about the chaos that was about to unfold, you felt reasonably content.

Taking the duffle from her you pull out an odd dream-handgun for each of you, checking to see that they’re loaded out of habit. You yank out a rifle, check it, and shunt it back in for easier carrying before slinging the duffle across your back.

“Remember, they aren’t real, so don’t get hung up on putting them down. Take time to line your shot, try to get them in the head for every shot. Don’t shoot if you're concerned about what’s behind whatever you're shooting at, better to hold off and be safe than anything...” You touch at your nose absently, thinking, “If they’re out and about then Adira is likely trying to fight them, if not the fake; So do I have your permission to use the magic to just take us to where we need to go?”

Meryll bites her lip before a bit of a smug look begins to paint her features, the tips of her ears turning purple as she breaks out into another toothy grin.

“Ask properly like a goodboy,” She bites her lip again, her breath coming out in steamy jets in the cold air. You sigh, exasperated, knowing that this kind of behavior was likely never to end and that’d be best to just give into it.

“Mistress,” you start, her breath suddenly shooting out of her nose, you eye her sharply in a way you hoped she’d find enjoyable as you pause as her eyes grow wide, “May I use magic to hurry this along?”

“Mmmmhmmm,” She shudders, face now fully turning purple, she grabs onto you and presses close; her breasts enveloping your arm as she looks at you longingly.

You hold out your hand into towards an area of snow, focusing on forming a doorway to whereever Adira was. You focus on it, almost seeing a doorframe.

>14 (11)

>18 Rip and tear

==Reminder: 3 of 6 burn points for Oneiromancy==

A door formed set in its frame, you sighed, looking into your companions' red set in black eyes; concern and worry met yours and after a pause, the two of you approached it. You hand grasped at the handle, the icy metal biting at skin and for a moment you wondered if your skin might stick to it; your wrist twisted mechanically, the latched audibly clicked and you flung it open.

Snow danced down in the air as you stared out into another place, a place that was not behind the doorway. The scene was placid, the only oddity were the shambling bodies roaming through streets of cobblestone and what seemed like a mix of european styled buildings. Quickly you checked your pistol once more, tightened your duffle against you and stole one last look at Meryll.

“On the count of three, okay?” You asked as she smiled at you.

You had never been seasick before, you had no concept of the sensation, and nausea was not the correct term either. In an instant the world seemed to tilt beneath you, dipping you into the doorway which promptly slammed as soon as you realized you had crossed the frame.

You fell with a clatter on the hard stones, your duffle spilling its contents as you dropped everything. Your aberant hybrid pistol ringing against the cobblestone roadway as it bounce off of the stones before being stepped on by a leather boot. Confusion and disorientation were quickly replaced as you glanced up at it’s owner. Dead eyes and a half peeled face stared down at you.

For an instant you consider just freezing, hoping it can’t see you, but you know that its pointless; your eyes snap to what you dropped, items and tools scattered about, looking for anything at all to use. Your eyes dance and you spot a trench shovel, some kind of a saber, and of course the pistol that the deadman is currently standing on.

>Rip and tear 18

>17 Trench Shovel

Your body reacts, hurling you almost automatically at the shovel. As your hands grasp it in an appropriate manner you’re only semi aware of the deadman leaning down for the pistol he’s currently standing on. You shift, still crouched over, and lunge at the corpse as adrenaline takes hold. You swing the spade of it down and across, you don’t feel any of it connect but see the results as ruined face splits open and a lower jaw clatters to the ground below.

Even before the deadman begins to recover from his staggering wound, you bring the shovel down again and again. Black blood begins to splatter against you and the ground as you hack at it, your eyes slowly only seeing red as you desperately slam the spade of the shovel into your newfound enemy as fast and as hard as you could. A hand came up to block you, only to be chopped away by the rough, unsharpened edge of the shovel.

In moments all that was left before you is a ruined pile of flesh with black blood pooling out into the cobblestone around you, the only sound you could hear was your blood rocketing through your ears as you panted raggedly. Reaching down you scooped up the pistol, checked it to ensure it was ready, and staggered about as you recollected the saber and your duffle bag.

It isn’t until you begin to set your gear that you begin to really come to your senses that you start to get angry at your situation and quickly focus on trying to locate Meryll. In instant you find yourself hopping on one foot with a leg shot out behind you and your arm stretched forth, finger pointing wildly before your body begins to turn itself like a compass finding north.

“Okay, okay,” You mumble to yourself as your body settles and you point out in a random direction, you then relax and have hold of your body once again. You scan quickly, taking in the city’s structure and form and where the deadman appear to be congregating as they shuffle about completely oblivious to you; everything is quiet about you but in the distance you can hear some kind of rabble.

You breathe slowly, trying to relax and think. You had an adequate means of finding Meryll, you didn’t for Adira. You effectively only had a limited amount of time as far as you could figure it; you had to reconnect with Meryll, unsure if she would be safe by herself in this alien dream world, but you also needed to at least look for Adira. You huffed loudly, tightened the duffle on your back and began slowly jogging down the road towards the far off sound of something.

You make quick work navigating through the streets, on occasion a deadman turning to look at you or slowly beginning to stagger up after you. A distinct Romero-feel in the pit of your stomach starts to form, but you ignore it, pushing on as the far off sound becomes somewhat clearer and clearer. It’s definitely some kind of a fight or confrontation occuring.

You round a corner, following the road around a bend for what looks like a very large and beautifully constructed brick and mortar pub only to have something thrown at you and to crumple into the ground.

>19 Dodge

Somehow you manage to shift as you fall, whatever having been thrown at you slams clumsily on the ground nearby and as you hit the ground, twisting instinctively to see it; you recognize it in an instant. The eclectic set of armor, the scaling skin, whatever has changed while you and Meryll were gone has set Adira back to normal. She scitters to a stop, limp, and wearing a wistful expression.

“Hey Dirk,” She says glumly. You lay there a little confused, the deadmen don’t seem energetic enough for this.

“Whats going on?”

“I’m getting my ass kicked,” She sounds positively broken down, in the back of your head you wonder if maybe the stories about lizards enjoying being beaten was just some kind of messed up mamono stereotype. As you turn to see where she came from, a fetid, rotting blood splatters across the two of you; gallons of it. You began gagging heavily as you attempted to quickly stand and move out of the way, eyes rolling around and suddenly disorientated by the horrid assault.

“You're not supposed to be here.” A deep gravelly voice mutters and as you look up you see a veritable legion of deadmen all staring at you, but as still as graves. Far back at a table you can see a lone man sitting by himself, familiar eyes that glint like yours boring into you.

“How are you here right now?” A voice asks, instinctively almost, you know its his despite his lips not moving. A whiskey glass is brought to his lips and he sips it. His features are odd, familiar but you know you’ve never met him before. Thinning hair yet appearing in a regal and respectable manner with it slicked back on his skull, his clothes were a familiar style of woolen suit, a walking cane resting against the his table. He was lanky and tall, dark in form and features, with a pallid tone for his skin.

“You’re not supposed to be here boy.”

>Attempt negotiation

You hold up your hands in the universal sign of ‘lets not fight’ and take a couple steps back, eyes still forward on the tall man and horde of deadmen before you. He regards you for a moment and begins to nurse the drink again.

“I’m just here for the lizardwoman, and now that I found her we’ll j-”

“No.” The whiskey glass gets set down and he stands suddenly, grabbing up his walking cane and turning to face you. “I don’t think so.” His spare hand comes up and he snaps, and in moments your world is a wash of colors and sensations as gravity goes out. It isn’t until you find yourself submerged fully in water that it returns and you can orient yourself.

Standing suddenly in the cool, cold water you find yourself coughing loudly as you wipe water away from your face you find yourself overcome with the sound of a fountain bubbling; your back in the center of the odd city you had woken in. You scan your surroundings and find the odd, physically impossible and unfinished buildings smoothing over and correcting themselves as everything seems to take on a better look and cleaner appearance; the tallman heading down the roadway towards the steel tower, that still appears to be hung on nothing but the air itself. You yell out to him, demanding answers or any kind of explanation, but there is no response as youre ignored. It's only seconds but he seems to traverse the large distance between where you are and the tower; just as quickly as he had appeared, he is gone.

You cough a few more times until there’s a sound of a splash behind you, you turn quickly and seeing someone floundering in the water, grab at them and haul them up as fast as you can. It takes a moment to reconcile the sensations you're feeling and what you're seeing. Your hands and fingers press smoothly and easily into her flesh, the hand on her wrist squeezing it with no resistance as is your other hand on the ample hip whose bit of a love-handle feels soft and supple despite being metal. Metallic eyes lock with yours and for a moment the two of you simply regard each other, both sopping wet but only you wearing clothes.

Your mind comes back to you and you push her back, to which she falls back into the shallow water with a splash. As quick as you can you slog out of the water, hopping out and over the railing and back onto dry land before turning and backing away from the fountain. It takes a moment but the plump Brassie lifts herself up from the water and glares at you, you try your best to focus on her face rather than her rather large metallic assets.

“Well hello to you too,” She spits, approaching the retention wall for the fountain’s pool.

“Don’t come any closer,” You warn, water pouring from your clothes which stuck to you oddly, “Stay back!”

This only gets a stare from her as she looks you over in a way you don’t quite like, its hungry and angry at the same time; in the back of your mind you somewhat regret not seizing the opportunity afforded to you when you were in Meryll’s bedroom; why had you tried to make her wait? The Brassie sniffs at the air before a smirk spreads over her face.

“Oh really?” She sits on the wall, her ample form dripping as she grasps at her chest, “Can’t you see how c-c-cold it is in this water?” Her rather large chest on full display, and judging on things and your own soaked clothes, it was indeed quite chilly.

“Stay back,” You try again, just to focus on her face, hands up in a way you’d imagine a wizard might. “I have powers now, I c-”

“I know. I can feel how you're bending the dream around you.” Her eyes soften as she sniffs at the air some more before her smirk changes into a toothy grin, “But I can also tell that you aren't properly claimed yet, although it seems like someone’s played with you. Why fight this Dirk? I know you’ll enjoy it.”

“I can’t let you people take over things,” a chill runs through you due to your clothes and you wonder how you can get away or change this, if even can, perhaps making another door? “Sure the world has its issues and I don’t like how things are being done currently, but Im not about to just allow an invasion to come in.”

“You really have no idea how much you don’t like it, do you?”

“What?” Is all you can muster, completely unsure of what she’s even saying.

“Doesn’t matter, c’mon Dirk, what will it take? Do I need to promise we won’t overthrow the Maou?” Her metal face takes on a coy expression, “Oh~! Or is it more a matter of ‘who’ is asking?” She draws a hand across her body and it shifts and changes in an instant. You can feel the very fabric of the dream reality shift as shiftshape, almost melting and metamorphosing before you. ‘This is what she meant when she said she was a dream girl, she’s an oneiromancer.’ you idly think to yourself.

In an instant a more buxom and plump version of Meryll stands before you, nude except for a series of gold chain jewelry attached to various piercings, the one wrapping around her hips and legs and connecting to a set of studs in particular making your face burn, and a thick bolted collar. You feel yourself seemingly swallow your tongue. Would Meryll look like this in about a decade after a few children, save the piercings? Plump and motherly with a body you could happily drown in?

“Well Mr. Dagger? Won’t you at least consider what I’m saying,” A blueberry toned hands grasps at a thick breast and wags it at you, the piercing that attaches it to a chain to its twin causing the other to jostle in a hypnotic way, “Or at least this body?”

>Statue 18/17

>Oneiromancy 0/6

“I think I’d like you in a different way to be honest,” You mutter coldly, hands balling into fists as you press as harshly on the dream as you can, which gives at your touch. All you can think of is her being what she looked like, a statue sitting in that fountain pool. A somewhat lewd bronze statue of a rather motherly figured woman, but a statue none-the-less. There’s a sound akin to this hiss of a red hot metal being placed in iced water, a strange groaning and hiss fills the air as the Brassie looks at you in shock.

It isn’t until she begins to open her mouth that you begin to realize that she’s making the noise itself, as it echoes out from her, her body and skin turning back to being truly hers and that normal bronze. There’s a few deep sounding pops and her body no longer seems to be soft or to have any kind of give, at least based on looking at her. In seconds its over, and there appears to be a rather motherly shaped bronze statue on the pool before you with a shocked expression carved into its face.

You fall to your knees panting, feeling an odd kind of drained, a form of exhaustion you can't seem to place at all. It isn’t physical, nor mental, or the kind of strain associated with simply being awake for too long; instead something alien to you, like a void in your soul. And it aches.

A cool sweat takes over you skin and body as you sit there, panting heavily in your completely soaking wet and cold clothes. ‘Now what?’ Is all you can think before a painful strike lands across the top of your head, causing you to cry out and grasp at it.

“Idiot boy,” The odd Tall-man’s voice says, you wheel around just barely only to find yourself alone with a gurgling fountain, “All that effort for so little. What if one of her fellows is here?”

“Who are you?!” You call out, head aching as you struggle to sit back up be the exhaustion eats at you, your limbs feel like concrete sinking into mud.

“You know my name Anon, we’ve known each other for years.” Is the the reply and strangely you find yourself looking towards the metal tower, almost as if it was the man himself; his face looking at you from every piece and part of the metal.

There’s another rap at the top of your head and pain erupts, your eyes slamming shut as you flatten onto the smooth and featureless ground and part of you realizes that responding is likely a waste, all you actually need to do is leave. You move, just barely, with limbs of concrete as you shift slowly on the ground, which is slow and painful work.

“The other two are watching, waiting. Then there’s the other.” The Tall-man’s voice calls out to you as you slowly crawl your way away.

“Even if you get out of here boy, things will not be as they were.” Your knuckles are white as you continue trying to move, not making much headway, but slowly and surely at least leaving the immediate area of the fountain.

“The others will be harder, worse to deal with. I doubt you can handle it, you can barely handle the demon.” you shudder, aching before just collapsing flat on the ground and simply focusing on your breathing as everything slowly turns black.

Your eyes snap open and the soft blue magitech nightlight you had made for yourself greets you in your small humble apartment. You shuffle about, sitting up and off your bed, and at noticing it; yank up your pants and fasten them properly.

‘Was it all just a dream?’ you wondered, looking around your room. Quickly you snagged a book from a shelf, a book you hadn’t yet read, and threw it open and dove into it at random. What met you was context, consistency, and a handful of information about some far of country called zing pangu or something or another. All of the information was clear and proper, not jumbled or odd as you had encountered in dreams you had dreamed long ago.

“I’m awake?” You asked curiously, scanning your apartment again. “It was just a dream?”

>It wasn’t real

<No one noticed the name slip?

Moving around in your apartment you began pulling out other books, checking all of them one by one; again the information was clear and concise, nothing seemingly out of place. A cold knot formed slowly in your stomach as you began pulling various books down and looking through them before dumping them flat out on your floor. It wasn’t real?

You felt like you were awake, and you had just woken where you had originally fallen asleep. Was it just a dream or did you somehow escape?

Stumbling around in the low light you grab at one of the curtains that covered over a singular window and yanked it free, pulling down the cloth and all; none of it concerned you at all as it clattered to the ground. The dark skyline of Komin city stared back at you, out in the streets below you can see various torches flickering and a few people going about their nocturnal activities.

You rush around your apartment, mind reeling and thinking over various dreams you had had in the past. Grabbing open every door, cabinet, drawer you can as part of you hopes to prove that you're still in the dream or not, anything at all for it to make sense; most of the rest would be nearly impossible to verify, except maybe Meryll or Mira. Meryll because of her aunt, Mira because she was in town and if she happened to be in a coma could confirm if you had somehow escaped; if she wasn’t, you’d have to come to terms with your dream and the slow, crushing sensation that you were alone. Was this real?

The math devil and improbability mage were still about, assuming it wasn’t just a dream. Meryll’s mischievous smirk and happy smile flash in your head and you sigh in exasperation, you had fought against it sure, but you didn’t want it to simply have been a dream. Part of you ached just thinking about it, about the potential of suddenly being alone; About it having only been a dream, an idea you couldn’t seem to shake as you meandered around your apartment.

After seemingly calming enough to have the presence of mind, you checked your clock. It was the equivalent to a magitech potato clock, but it worked and that’s really all that mattered, which indicated that it was just barely past six in the morning which meant you had an hour and half till sunrise, possibly making it two hours to wait before the mages guild in the city opened. Two hours alone with your thoughts and the inescapable worry that none of it had been real. That you were alone.

Your body was mechanically going about what your mind was slowly realizing it was planning; you were going to head to the guild immediately, snag a mage, and demand they contact the guards in Threstis and track Meryll down; afterwards you would try and find Mira. If anything Meryll’s out of the dream and just as confused as you, or perhaps just still locked into the dream, or maybe…

You shake your head angrily, waving away the errant thoughts as you trudged off to your small kitchen area and began to tear into a loaf of the mamono equivalent of banana bread.

An hour and half later you find yourself running through the city, nothing seems out of place from a regular day in Komin. Every now and then you find yourself stopping and staring out, scanning the area and burning every face you can see into your memory and hoping you can recognize someone who shouldn’t be; someone from back home on earth, someone with the wrong face, someone who couldn’t possibly be here, or at the most extreme: someone without a face. Nothing seemed off, so you’d continue on, slowly making headway towards the guild. The longer you were here, the more assured you were that you were awake, and the more the aberrant thought echoed in your head that none of your dream wasn’t real and your chest would ache as a knot welled up in your guts.

It had taken something like twenty eight minutes to fully run across the city to the guild. You lungs burned, your mouth tasted of blood, and your clothes were slick with sweat as you approached the guild and thankfully was just opening, a somewhat lithe cait sith looked at you warily as she began to open up the up the gate and apparently didn’t like the harried look you had about you.

“N-now hang on there, w-we aren’t q-” You unceremoniously shove past, half jogging into the complex as the small girl yells after you.

It had taken only moments to get noticed once you had entered, but to actually get in contact with any guild representatives in Threstis had been a chore. Erring on the side of caution, you simply made the claim that Meryll was an associate of yours and you were concerned something had happened, being as vague as possible as to specifics or who she was. If none of it had been real, it wouldn’t be wise to mention danger and a relative of the Maou. You had been told it could be a day or two until they could get a result, but the guards would be looking for her and that you’d be contacted as soon as they had something.

You had left, mentally exhausted and smelling of sweat while getting looks either to the strangeness of your appearance or because the pungent smell of you coming off of you. Your muscles ached, but not nearly as much as the feeling in your chest that you wouldn’t hear anything back at all or worse. With that matter at least partially settled, you could at least attempt to pursue your other lead; Mira.

>Pact: Detect Meryll

>Mira

Your mind snaps back, quick and whiplike, and realized in your haste and panic that you had overlooked something simple. You let yourself relax and fall into it as your opposing arm and leg splay out and you begin to spin round and round, your pointer finger leading to wherever you may need to go to find Meryll; except that you keep spinning. After a solid minute you stop, nearly falling in the process and feeling a touch dizzy. You didn’t care that some people were looking, staring at the weirdo; that didn’t matter.

What did this mean? Was Meryll in another realm, or when you were in the dream did that mean literally and physically in it? Or was something else going on? Why wasn’t there a set direction? Though this was proof that perhaps your immediate fear was wrong, you couldn’t help the nagging feeling that maybe it hadn’t been real.

You bit one of your knuckles as you thought, trying to puzzle through this and figure out what you should do. For the ‘compass’ to work you’d need to give Meryll mana after a while or else the ability would stop, at least eventually; how much battery life did your blueberry have anyways? You’d have to use it sparingly.

This left only one avenue left while you waited on the guild representatives; Mira. Tired but unwilling to stop you began to head towards the grocer markets of the city, slow strides eventually giving way to a light jog. Your legs ached, your throat was again feeling dry and raw, but you couldn’t stop; you had to be sure. You had to stop the interlopers, or to find Meryll at the very least.

You slogged through the city, dodging and weaving through crowds at a good pace as you headed for the grocer. Even if Mira wasn’t there, you could at least find one of her work associates and get directions on how to find her farm. You slowed, stepping off into an alley and as you slowed, and hacked up a large amount of phlegm, before heading off further and faster then you had before.

Again, you neared you location, clothes dripping with sweat and breathing heavily as various people, Mamono in particular, leered at you as you slowed to a normal walk before leaning over and trying to catch your breath. Your lungs seared, aching, but it didn’t matter at all. Painstakingly, you stood up and walked through the area trying to suppress the need to cough as you tried to control your breathing. As you came up through a series of stalls, you noticed the one you were looking for.

A plethora of various fruits, vegetables, starches, tubers and more were on display, the seller behind the counter however was not the cyclops you were looking for. Instead there was a rather chiper looking hedgehog girl, or at least she had been until her eyes locked with yours and a scowl jumped over her face. Your popularity in the local comings and goings of the city’s politics were well known.

“What do you want, Dirk?” She asks, voice washed in aggravation, her small size almost making it comical.

“I uh-,” You wheezed, throat dry and aching as you fought to suppress another bout of coughs. “Looking.” You manage to get out, body aching from overuse as you lean on your knees and focus on breathing.

“Well hurry it up, I don’t need someone to think I’m being soft on you or going to compromise my position. And I won’t change my vote no matter what!” She squeaks out at you imperiously, eyes alight as her hands find her hips.

“N-no, Mira.” You cough out, and after clearing your throat you try again. “I’m looking for Mira.” The hedgehog woman glares at you, brow furrowing up and her scowl deepens and her face starts to turn red.

“Very funny Dirk,” She spits out, “How long did it take for you to come up with that?”

“What?” You rasped, straightening up.

“What's this about anyways?!” She yells at you, smalling her small hands on the stand, her face growing redder. “What do you want?” You step back instinctively, hands raised up. What the hell is her problem?

“I just need to talk to Marin, that's all.” You state calming, concern seeping in. Meanwhile she simply grabs up a random apple and tosses it at you.

“Guards!” She yells loudly, snatching up more fruit and throwing them at you, you simply back away and dodge as well as you can. An orange hitting you in the process.

“H-hey! What are yo-”

“Guards! Guards!” She yells louder than before, rearming herself with more fruits, and with little else you can do, you leave as quickly as you can. You turn round at the edge of the market area, somewhat perplexed and confused. What was that? It isn’t until a large set of paws snag you by your shoulder and force you to turn back around that you remember that the guards had been called. A rather unhappy looking guard stares out at you from her armor, crimson colored fur and wings just as dark while her rather large barbed tail weaves about in the air.

“You’re coming with me,” States the manticore, her eyes jumping across you and an odd look playing on her face as she sniffs at the air. “I’m certain neither of us want trouble, so just come quietly or there will be trouble.”

>Comply

“I don’t… I’m not trying to cause any problems, I swear.” You answer quickly, you hold your hands up in the universal signal of compliance. “I just wanted to talk to Mira, she’s a farmer and works here on differing days, but I don’t know which.”

“And why did you need to see her for anyways? This some kind of lover’s incident?” She asks, her large paws finding her hips as her barbed tail pulls away from you. Mentally you relax at the change in her posture and demeanor.

“Oh god no.” You spit out quickly with a nervous laugh, “She hates me… I think. Maybe.” The manticore’s eyebrows furrow at this, as she glares at you, seeming to size you up to a degree; part of you realizing you couldn’t just tell her flat out that you had a bad dream about interlopers wanting to replace the Maou. You’d sound nuts. “I just needed to talk to her about various ordinance proposals and trying to convince her, or her guild, to vote in a way that’d be beneficial.”

The guard seems to consider this before clicking her tongue and nodding a bit before looking back to the direction which you had come. Then back to you.

“What's your name?”

“Dirk, miss.” Her eyes light up and she snorts in an amused way before folding her arms together.

“Okay. I know who you are,” She states, your reputation seeming to have preceded you, “How about this then? You stand right here, and don’t move, and I’ll go talk to the hedgehog and see what the actual problem is, and if alls good, I’ll let you go?” You simply nod in agreement to this, it is rather fair and straightforward. “If you try to run, I’ll sting you,” Her tail suddenly thrusts itself close in your line of sight, spines slowly edging out of it, “And then you’ll be put in a cell to wait it out. Understand?”

“Yes ma’am,” You answer quickly, and all she does is smirk before turning round and heading back towards the market area; only stopping once to look back at you, as if you’d be stupid enough to run. You knew about manticore venom, in particular the agony it caused if someone was stung and didn’t have a way to relieve it.

You waited a good ten or so minutes before she came back, her demeanor changed again as she now walked briskly towards you; frown plastered across her face as her eyes bore into you. You didn’t like that at all.

“Get on the ground and lay flat, you're under arrest.”

“Woah, wait! What?” You ask, stepping back away from her as she closed the distance between the two of you. “Whats going on?”

“Comply or I will use force,” She warned, stretching out her paws as she walked closer; tail bristling with needle points.

“I don’t understand, why? What's wrong?” You instinctively begin to move backwards, hands still raised, part of you considering running but unsure if it’d be worth the risk. On one hand something weird was going on and you didn’t want involved, on the other the idea of sitting in cell feeling like your nutsack was about to explode was equally unappealing.

“Understanding isn’t required, get on the ground now!” The tone is measured and self assured, lacking any kind of anger to it; whatever was wrong couldn’t be something significant, but was at least enough of a concern that you’d immediately be under arrest.

>I dont want any trouble //19

“I don’t want any trouble,” you state, continuing to back up, hands raised as a sinking feeling began to sink into your stomach, something told you you needed to run, to fight. Her eyes bore into you and part of you is certain you aren’t going to get out of this without getting stung, if not roughed up.

“I said get on the ground!” She yells, her large wings spreading out as her tail begins to ready; spines suddenly barring.

You knew running was pointless, she could fly and was stronger than you and if stung you’d be effectively incapacitated. Most of your muscles tensed as you thought over this, and your hands turn to fists as your body begins to move and shift itself into a natural fighting position as she continues her march forward towards you. Something clicks in your head and you remember memories that aren’t your own but still, somehow are.

You remember old Jinko beating you senseless with a walking cane while chastising you about being weak shortly after being isekai’d. You remember training, how your body ached and was bruised by this and how you had resented the old Jinko, Biyu, over this despite being the one who asked for it. How you had a completely different set of acquaintances and a few friends, Sarah the hedgehog girl being one, and how the two of you had grown apart due to your hounding of the guilds. How you weren’t an inventor or investor who was struggling and fighting the various guilds, but instead considered a stranger who had decided to help preserve one of the old, decrepit Zipangu martial schools and had been at odds with the various guilds over much the same issues though lensed through doing most of the heavy lifting yourself and demanding they financially back it; a reversal.

Your knuckles pop loudly as your mind begins to bounce between the two set of various memories you hold. You know the second set are overlapping with what you do directly remember, but they feel real. The sights, the sounds, the smells, and even the bruises; all of them tell you the second set of memories are true somehow. An inexplicable feeling overcomes you as the memories begin to nestle in your head and part of you knows that Mira is dead and had been for years, that's why Sarah is at the food stand. That's why Sarah is a guild representative instead of the Cyclops; because Sarah isn’t anywhere to be seen in your original set. You however, were still Dirk, still hiding your name.

You breath out, your body relaxing as you suddenly pop forward. Ingrained memories flooding over while your body reflexively carries them out. You pop forward at the Manticore guard and roughly slam a fist flat on into the center of her unarmoured hips, as she begins to buckle forward you nimbly drop, grasping now at the lip of the armor itself just above her crotch, and dash through her legs while your arm trails behind you and you pop for leverage as you pull back and up. In an instant she flips, heels going over her head as she slams roughly into the ground head first and you’re already running as a bystander begins to yell for more guards.

You move through the area, hopping through stands and throwing things over as you move if you even begin to hear footsteps or anything behind you. It isn’t until you jump through a set of a souvenir stand that you find yourself cornered by three other guards.

“Halt!” The one closest to you yells, a rather beefy looking wardog, as she takes a swing at you to which you duck and slap your palm high on her chest plate and shove, sending her tumbling back as she stumbles to catch her footing. The second guard, another wardog though her fur is nearly white, pulls a weapon from her side and your two sets of memories scream out simultaneously. You were certain it was a chakram, the newer memories claim, and not a throwing anus.

Quickly the second guard readies the weapon as the third guard grabbed at you, claws digging into your skin as she grappled with you to allow her fellow to strike at you. Instead of fighting, you leaned back into her and kicked your legs up as hard and as high as you can which helped offset her balance and as they came down, you kicked at the second guard, dazing her as she fell to the ground. Claws dug deeper into you, and you feel fresh welts of blood forming against your pained skin, but none of it bothers you; your training had been worse. Readying your folded chair impression, you hike your legs up again, and bring them down in a smooth arc with just enough give in the third guards grip to swing back between her legs and hook your feet on each of the outside of her calves.

You had no idea what kind of mamono this third guard was, but you were confident you would be okay so long as you didn’t relent since she wasn’t a minotaur or something just as equally indomitable. Flexing your legs hard, they screamed at you, and slowly you began to pull yourself from the clawed guard by using her legs to pull yourself back through them; her claws sliced at your clothes and skin, searing with pain as you slowly shimmied away through her own legs.

You snag at the clawed hands grasping at you, as you began to drop down, realized that she was a lizard.You hands find her scaly wrists, her claws lightly painted with your blood, and shift your body weight as you let go of her legs so you can flip her up and over yourself. As she begins to sprawl out in front of you, you hold fast to her wrists and bring them up and tight against her back, shifting her and using your knee; punt as hard as you physically can, to which her thick tail goes ramrod stiff and sticks into the air as you drop her. The noise she made as she hit the ground, a mix between a pained moaned, realization, and oddly pleasure.

A momentary pause and you’re off again, running as hard and as fast as you can. On occasion grabbing at random objects and throwing them into people, using them to clear avenues of escape. It isn’t until you notice a small band of much larger guards, two minotaurs and an Oni, and begin to double back, only to meet face to face with the original manitcore who is now limping considerably, that you stop.

“S-stop,” The manticore pants, before leaning over against the wall as pain clearly paints her face. “S-stop right there!”

“Alma what happened?” The oni calls out to her coworker, the concern clear in her voice as the manticor collapses to her knees and lets out a pained sound.

“The same thing that's going to happen to you. I didn’t want any trouble, but you brought this on yourselves.” You hear your voice proclaim, as you turn to face the larger guards, the Oni scowls at you and steps forward.

“And what's that?” She bellows, teeth barred at you angrily as she begins to approach, hefting a club into her large red hand as she leers at you. She stops just short of you, glaring, while her minotaur backup look to each other in concern about what she’s about to do. “What do you think you’re going to do?”

“Your pelvis is already broken,” You state flatly, your primary and more sarcastic memories winning out as the Oni’s eyes bulge and an incredulous look comes over her.

“Wha-” And just as you had done with the Manticore you popped forward, jumping close, and aiming just as before brought blow after blow against her low slung belt line; fists beating against the soft, tender flesh that barely protected the small piece of cartilage that held the two peices of hip together. Without this joiner, she was useless; at least until she could find a healer or wait out four weeks or so. The only sound is the loud and rapid slapping sound of blows landing and a sharp exhale of pain from the Oni.

It isn’t until you stop and deftly move back as her knees hit the group that sound seems to return to the environment; various murmurs from errant watchers and the guards telling their fellows to approach you first and that they’d definitely help. Eventually this hush, and you stand there with a felled Oni who can only wince in pain, in silence.

“Who else wants some?” You yell out, only to suddenly wince in pain and clutch at your head; a loud knock filling the air.

==Wake up boy.==

You hear the tallman command, and you fall to your knees and scream in pain. Your skull thuds loudly and you feel the hot blood rushing around inside ever inch of it, the pulse and throb of every vein, the sizzle of static charges leaping from one neuron to the next as they activate and light up. The feel of them beginning to short out, as parts of your body begin to contort, completely out of your control; your will, bones, and nerves screaming against the muscles as move and flex.

==Open your eyes.==

You feel your open eyes split open and open onto themselves again, as your body begins to seize and everything around you bleeds away until you find yourself laid out again in the dream city, the smooth ground seemingly your bed and the fountain and its new bronze statue nearby just as you had left it. You shudder at the memory of the sensations you had just had, your head aching, and the now confusion of what you had just experienced.

>What the hell was that?!

“What the hell was that?!” You scream loudly, your head pounding as you sit up and attempt to stand, only to stumble about. Something smacks you in your chest, and you have a flashback to Biyu and her cane, memories that are inexplicably yours and also not; you fall back into a chair as the world shifts around you and you find yourself at an onyx colored table.

The tallman simply glares at you from the spot next to you, cane in hand as a cup of something that smells like coffee lets off steam next to him.

“You woke up, Anon.” He pulls the cane back, setting it in his lap, “Tends to happen when you deplete the mana here, and you're back because you’re chained to this place by those outsiders.”

“How do you know my name?” You demand, the tallmans glimmering eyes boring directly into your soul.

“We’ve known each other for years Anon, even before the crazy new world with the crazy new women.” His deep baritone rattles off, the thinnest hint of a smirk beginning to play out on his face. His explanation was somewhat upsetting, as he seemed familiar to a degree but you knew you had never met him before. You focus, pressing against your mind for the pact magic and try to recognize him, but nothing happens. Is he part of the dream? “But that doesn’t matter boy. You wanted to know what that was.”

“Yes,” you mutter, touching at you chest where you had been struck as you took in your new surroundings. You’re in a cafe type area, much like you had been much earlier in the dream city, but now the buildings and more look sharper and more refined; more real than they had been before. Gone are the floating artifacts and broken geometry, the upside down windows, or improper features.

“Remember the dream you had years ago, the one with the Nereid?” He asks and you feel the color drain from your face as you remember, your fists balling as your knuckles whiten. The tallman simply smirks at you more, his teeth worn and not quite right.

You had no idea what a Nereid was until you had come to the Mamono-world, but you had dreamed one, only once, and it had stuck with you for years. It had been intense, full of sensations, and one of the only times you had dreamed of sex; and you never forgot it. Had that dream influenced your preferences in women? You did seem to have a preference for ‘blue’, and something you’d never admit aloud, being controlled.

“It wasn’t a dream,” He states as he reaches out and takes his steaming cup and lifts it up to his face and sniffs it, “It was real, just not for this you. The you that ‘dreamed’ it.”

“Dream magic can lead to other realities?” Your voice is incredulous, but given your current situation you have no reason to doubt it; the three usurpers were attempting to use your dream as a staging ground to force a doorway into your new home-realm. The tallman simply grunts and begins to sip his coffee before clicking his tongue loudly and clearing his throat.

The errant thought that this place wasn’t real, the memories of a life experience you hadn’t lived becoming some kind of kungfu master, and the experiences of relationships that happened with people who didn’t exist had all been yours; just not this you.

“Oneiromancy is effectively banned in most realms because of how dangerous it is Anon,” He grumbles, eyeing you from over the steaming cup. “It can do anything given enough mana, concentration, and imagination. Some realms no longer exist, some are locked into a dream, and some others… well, they’d be better off being more like the two former.” You simply swallow, thinking this over and wondering about it.

“And what happened to the other me, at the end, when I got yanked back?” You asked, forehead furrowing as you remember the intense pain as your body seemingly rebelled against you.

“Medical people from your original home would call it a ‘grand mal seizure’.” He states calmly, no concern at all in his voice as he pulls his cup for another draw of the hot drink. He hums as he sips it, apparently pleased with it.

“Will I… he be okay?” You ask, looking over to him only to catch him cock his eyebrows at you and glare from above the coffee.

“He isn’t you, so it doesn't matter.” He answers quickly, setting down the cup of coffee as he grasps at his cane which he quickly hefts and taps harshly against your knee. “This has been an amusing distraction, now get lost.” The world around you melts into nothingness as you fall backwards into a bed.

Sitting up you look around and find yourself somewhere familiar; Meryll’s bedroom. The details of it are slightly different than it had been before; the sheets are soft reds, the armoires bearing minor scratches here and there, and a pile of clothes sit in a corner of the room. The feel of the air is different and you can’t help but feel this is someone else’s dream entirely, likely Cera’s. Glancing around the room you head over to the nightstand and touch at the summoning orb, which immediately glows softly at your touch and makes a soft tone.

“Yes Mr. Dirk?” Comes the automaton’s voice from directly behind you, you make a choking sound as you jump slightly and drop the orb. Whirling around you find the maid staring at you curiously. “Did you need something?” You focus and you recognize her as the real Cera, and you sigh in relief.

“Yes, I need you to come with me. We need to go find Meryll and the others.” You answer, feeling yourself break out into a smile as you start to feel like something is going right for once. Cera simply nods.

“She hasn’t gotten into any kind of trouble has she?” She asks as you start for the bedroom door and you pause with your hand hovering over the doorknob; you stop and touch at the door instead. “She didn’t do anything…. Untoward to you, did she?”

You try to focus on the door, thinking of the staging area with the DHD and portals. You focus, almost seeing it in your head and feeling it as if it was forming on the other side of the door.

“She didn’t molest you, did she?” She asks in monotone, but you can almost hear judgement in it and you can’t help but snort loudly at it as you fight not to laugh.

“N-no, Cera. Meryll has been uh…,” You pause, face beginning to burn up as your eyes catch view of the bed and memories flood back to you as well as the regret at not sealing the deal when you had the chance, “She’s been great, I nee- uh… we need to find her.” Cera simply stares at you, her expression completely unreadable.

“She did.” For a monotone there’s a considerable amount of venom in it, you simply shake youre head while biting your lip to avoid from laughing. You grasp at the doorknob, begining to turn it.

>Truth/annoyed

“No, I did.” You mutter, part of you becoming a touch annoyed though you did find it funny that Meryll’s maid would have such a vested interest in stopping her employer from such. Wasn’t it usually the other way round with the rich mamono? You could have sworn you had heard a story or two about a rich vampire using their waiting staff to lure young men, or was it a dragon? “Now, we need to find her and everyone else.”

“Did you really?” She asks curiously as you open the doorway, concrete walls and a stairway leading up into an open atrium; your face burned as you spied the stairs and you remembered what had happened the last time you tried walking up them. You brushed it away, or tried to, as you began hopping up the stairway; visions of thick, blue thighs wrapping around your head fill your mind.

“Yes. She’s mine, but we need to hurry and at least try to go get her back before the dream changes anymore. Otherwise finding her is going to be a bit of a chore...” You answer plainly, continuing up into the main area while the maid trails behind you; as soon as your eyes fall on the DHD.

“W-well then, congratulations.” She states, the stammer throwing you slightly, she follows along and finally settling behind you at the device. “The rest of the family will want to meet you.” You simply nod to this, as your eyes scan over the top of the device.

“I’ll endeavor to make a good impression, if we survive.” You squint, looking over the symbols; all of which had scrambled and changed. Gone are the glyphs that seemingly represented the various girls, now they were replaced with runes of an origin you couldn’t quite place. Dwarven maybe? You had to figure this out, you had to get your blueberry.

“Mr. Dirk,” Cera starts, you know the tone is flat and robotic as always, but you can almost imagine an edge creeping into it, something dark and judgemental, “If any of this is a result of my mistress’ family or if you hurt her in anyway, I will pe-”

“Cera, I don’t care about the money or politics, I just want Meryll.” You interrupt, annoyance coming back to you, “I just want to… I need to find her. I need to hold her again.” You grumble, shooting her look, “So can we hurry up and try to get going?”

“Yes. Of course Mr. Dirk.”

“My name is Anon,” You mutter, looking over the panels and trying to associate anything you can with the runes. “Can you make sense of this? Do you recognize any of this, even vaguely?”

Cera steps closer, white plasteel hands touching gently at the DHD and looking over all of it with as much curiosity that an automaton could. Cera looks at you, mechanical features completely unreadable before beginning to activate specific rune panels.

“These runes in specific are a symbol for demons,” Her hand touches at the last glyph, activating it as a doorway suddenly comes to life, “the others are what I would assume are for the others. Minotaur, dragon, dark elf,” She points to the various other runes and you simply nod.

“Thank you Cera.” She simply nods at you and touches your shoulder, but you find yourself immediately headed for the lit doorway; practically running. You stop and look back to her, “Well, c’mon, we have to go.” Cera manages to look surprised somehow before bounding over, and the two of you step through.

----

The cold air immediately hits you as you stumble down into some snow that crunches loudly, Cera stumbling over you before grasping at you and hauling you up in the snow. A wind blew ominously and you could help but shiver and grab at yourself, trying to keep warm.

“W-we have to hurry!” You yell quickly, trudging out into the drifts, almost running. “Adira could die in this, and there might still be deadmen about. T-think undead but a-actual monsters, t-the bad kind. B-be prepared to show n-no mercy.” Your teeth chatter in your skull, sinuses aching at the cold, and Cera again nods. You weren’t sure if Adira would be here, but it was all a dream, why wouldn’t she be?

“Understood.”

The two of you ran, after awhile you only felt the ache of the cold in your sinuses and lungs, the bite in your fingers and toes, but the warmth of the exertion did help to a degree; bitter cold reduced to a dull, throbbing ache as your skin felt like ice. You scanned as you moved, it didn’t take long but the two of you eventually came across older footprints in the snow, all you could do was croak to Cera who thankfully understood your meaning and immediately outpaced you. In moments she was far ahead of you, part of you wanted to slow but you knew you shouldn’t.

Your throat burned, your muscles ached, but all you cared about was finding Meryll. Seeing her smile at you, touching you, and making demands you’d resist while she had a smug look that seared part of you and made you want to give in to what she offered; all of these things driving you on. Or the mind melting feel of her tongue, that was also a great motivator. You cry out loudly, yelling for her or Adira, wondering if Cera could miss either of them as she ran.

Icy hands snagged at you and grasped you tightly, whirling you round as they snatched at you and pulled you close. Raven black hair slammed against you as icy skin pressed on you, another set of teeth chattering in your ear as a rather soft body pressed into you as close as possible; the smell of cherries meeting your nose.

>make sure its her/Kiss

The two of you hold each other close and tight, bodies shivering against each other as teeth loudly clatter. Heated, steamy looking air shoots out of both of you and hanging in the air. Ruby colored eyes meet yours and all you can see is relief and happiness, but doubt fills you. This could be math demon, the insectoid woman, or maybe just a projection of a nightmare.

“M-meryll,” You clammer out as your body trembles, “C-cer-as h-here. W-wh-ere is Adir-a?”

“B-back,” She starts to motion back from where she came from, “b-b-back…,” You look past her, tracing her footprints back and near a tree you see a slumped form.

“W-w-ait,” your teeth chatter against your will, your nose itself feeling like it may just fall off you. “I-I-I ne-ee-eed y-” one of her sharply nailed hands comes up quickly, though shaking, and grasps near your neck; a flash of green from something you can’t quite see as she tugs at the ethereal aspect of your pact, and numerous sensations bloom through you. Longing starts and bleeds over into a deep want and warmth, and after a moment your body no long trembles from the cold.

“G-get h-he-her,” Meryll mumbles, teeth clattering. You glance at your now still hands as realization dawns on you. Just as before when she had blocked out your concern, only now it’s your ability to feel the temperature; absently you realize that this means part of your pain receptors aren’t working normally anymore. You had your confirmation however, this was Meryll, she was the only one who knew about the ‘pact’ that was wrapped around your neck.

“Right,” You breath out quickly, before inhaling deeply and yelling for Cera at the top of your lungs as you clumsily navigate through the snow towards the lump in the snow. You know your body should feel the cold bite of the air, the ache in your bones, or the tightening of your muscles in the cold as they turn to sludge beneath your skin; but none of it is there as you amble through and grab at the crumpled, snow covered form.

Your hands find scaled limbs and you slowly heft a lightly armored lizardwoman from out of the snow. Her body is stiff and icy to the touch, worry grips you when you fail to feel the natural pliable touch that should be accompanied with touching any mamono. Part of you seizes up at this, worried that she may be dead, but you have no choice but to try; so slowly, you start to lift her over your shoulder.

“Do you require aid?” Cera asks from behind you as she steps out and into view. Her black smock occasionally catching a snowflake here and there.

“Here, grab her. I’ll get Meryll.” You lean unstably as you offer Adira to the automaton, who simply takes her with little issue. Immediately you head back to Meryll, who seems to have shakily started to follow after you. Your arms find her, and struggling a touch, lift her as you carry her against your chest as you move to stand near Cera. “Hold on,”

You stretch out your hand and focus, pressing on the dream in your mind and demanding it give way to the hub. The path in front of you wavers and shifts before it melts away and forms a familiar looking bulkhead set in a concrete wall. You don’t even wait for it to settle, the recesses of your mind aware of the state of yourself being unable to feel the wretched cold as well as Adira having begun to freeze, and you trudge towards it and immediately work on opening it.

“Go,” You yell as you free the door, nodding to Cera who practically throws herself and Adira through the doorway into what you can see is in fact the hub area. Just as quick, you step through and grabbing at the door, slam it shut behind you. “Cera, wrap her in a couple of blankets. Keep her away from any heat sources for the next few hours, we don’t want her going into shock… same with Meryll,” You trail off, cradling her as Cera sets down the lizardwoman and wanders off to search for blankets. Slowly you stroke Meryll’s hair, slowly sinking down against the concrete wall as you feel a mixture of feelings.


577 Hits, 0 Comments

No comments yet