Eodem: A Rifle And Sword Adventure: 37 Chapter 37: A Fading Peace

"Are you sure about this?" Samantha asked.

She was wearing her a plain green training shirt, black colored jogging pants and most peculiar of all, a Sparring Helmet, designed for Hand-to-Hand combat training, handily provided by a concerned Aliathra at the last minute when she had heard what Iris has planned for her Magical Arts training today. Before the Lieutenant deemed the Chosen One of the Sigil 'Rhannu-Prietar' or the Share Holder, was Iris Cadohagan and whole a.s.sortment of various items ranging from weights, medicine b.a.l.l.s and even a several articles of clothing curled up in the shape of b.a.l.l.s being floated around by Iris' Mage Hand spell.

"You need to learn how hold yourself against any attacks from those who will try to hunt you down. I have to live through this every day before your arrival and its only right I teach you how to survive." Iris said.

"Yes, Okay, I remember from yesterday you taught me how to use the Shield spell right?" Samantha turned to the Elf Cleric.

"Indeed, remember what I taught you." Aliathra reminded.

The Shield Spell, as Samantha can decipher from Aliathra's teachings is from a sub-category of the Restoration School of Magic.

"I got it." Samantha readied herself. She grabbed the Unbinilium Crystal set aside to her on a pedestal set up by Dr. Mahelona who observed quietly above her by the Testing Chamber's theater.

"Today's lesson!" she raised her voice. "Block ALL of my Attacks!" she declared.

Immediately, Iris hurled the first of projectiles, a five-kilogram weight flying towards Samantha's direction. Tensing her knees and shoulders, the red head braced herself as the magical energies circulate around her.

Curling her fingers down facing the thumb, Samantha effortlessly casted a sapphire colored circle on her hands. Impacting the oncoming projectile, the weight harmlessly fell down before her, much to Iris closeted sadism and Aliathra's nervousness. At the earliest of stages, the Lieutenant was able to fairly withstand the lighter and fairly discernable reads of Iris' barrage. But as time progresses, Samantha's reserves began to deplete causing the shield to ricochet off the thrown projectiles before dampening the impact of the attacks that managed to come through until ultimately, Samantha faltered trying hold the shield all together.

"Stop!" Samantha begged as she shielded herself from the medicine b.a.l.l.s thrown at her with her limp arms.

"Yes, halt this lesson. You are going to injure her!" Aliathra rushed to Samantha to check her vitals. Fortunately, thanks to her mana reading's she discerns she was still hosting a safe level of Mana inside her.

After confirming the Lieutenant's safety, the Elf's eyes darted to the Vampire Witch, simmering with apprehension.


Iris gave pause, disappointed at the 'Chosen One's' weakness.

"She was about to exhaust her Mana already Iris. Your idea of training will not work, not at least alone that is." Aliathra reprimanded.

"Samantha needs to push harder if she wants to unlock her true potential Elf. Her training is to hold her shield for as long as ten minutes to replicate what an intense Magic Fight could entail. If she fails here, she could be cut down by Fireb.a.l.l.s, Magic Missiles and Ice Spikes or what not out there! She will be overwhelmed." Iris replied with a scalding voice. "Besides, she is a soldier after all. Shouldn't she be used to this?" she argued.

"I disagree. Samantha is still new to all of this Magic and must take this much more slowly." Aliathra protested.

"I agree... to disagree Elf!" Iris dejected. "What can you do?" she challenged.

"May I give a suggestion?" Aliathra requested to Samantha. "Instead of holding out and just standing in front of Iris all the time, why not strike back?" the Elf proposed.

"Absolutely not!" Iris dejected. "She must learn how to defend herself from an onslaught or she will not survive out there." She argued.

"Back in the Academy, we were told that when it comes to creating Wards and Shields, Abjuration spells or Amddiffyn Gúl, we are to only cast when we have no other means of protecting ourselves. We were trained to use as much as necessary before we find an opening to strike back. In essence, block then counterattack." Aliathra said.

"Yeah, that sounds right Miss Lareththor. Why not try that? I mean, I am not meant to be left alone all the time. I have the rest of Stryder and you to in my team." Samantha nodded.

"What makes you say your way is better?" Iris argued to the Elf.

"I am not saying it is better. I am just expanding upon your teachings Ladui Cadohagan." Alaithra explained. "The point back in the Academy is not to be told what is correct. But to be able to disprove what you think is correct. Isn't the point of this training being to 'push the limits' of Samantha's powers after all? It's not enough to know just what you are doing now." the Elf Reasoned.

"Hmm… perhaps I shall try that." Iris thought. "Very well, again. If you can lay one finger against me. Then you shall pa.s.s this lesson." Iris nodded.

Conjuring her magicks again, Iris' Mage Hand grabbed all of the objects she was using for her Projectile Defensive training and readied herself to release them.

Digging down at her position again, Samantha braced for the upcoming barrage. The Unbinillium energies reconst.i.tuted around her veins again as Iris threw one of several dozens of Medicine b.a.l.l.s at her.

With her powers, Samantha stopped the ball mid-air before promptly returning the Vampire Witch the favor by teasingly brushing the ball pa.s.s the Witch's head.  Iris reflexively, with a slight delay to register what had happened lost focus for a moment.

"You see? At that moment, you were now afraid." Aliathra justified, the infamous Elven smug protruding down on the Vampire Witch.

"Shut up Elf!" Iris fangs gnashed whilst the Elf laughed haughtily.

Not to be deterred, the Vampire Witch released more of the objects she held towards Samantha. But with a renewed will from Aliathra's more finesses approach to her training, Samantha managed to catch all of the objects thrown at her person before lo and behold to Iris' shock and Aliathra's amus.e.m.e.nt, now the Lieutenant has all the means of attack whilst Iris didn't.

"Prepare yourself!" Samantha smiled as she unleashed one full storm of metal, furniture and soft plastics onto the Vampire Witch who haphazardly curled herself into a protective shield, her smug grin wiped off of her face and her silky raven hair becoming undone of its flow as she withstood the hail.

"Point made?" Aliathra asked the Vampire Witch.

"Point made." Iris admitted defeat.

"You know, you two," Samantha commented. "I am glad both of you are here with me. Learning everything I can from you." She smiled.

"You are both right you know? Sometimes I need to push myself with my new powers sometimes. Others I may need to take it slow. Your trainings were both of great help." the Lieutenant bowed.

For the next few hours inside that chamber, Aliathra and Iris continued Samantha's Magical Training. The red-haired Lieutenant learned not only how to best use Wards and Shields to protect herself but also several more iconic spells like Fireball, Magic Missile, and even the Tweeter Bird spell that Sam abused to playfully annoy Dr. Mahelona's Science Team observing her to no end. Despite several arguments between Iris and Aliathra's training methods, one to push, one to nurture. Samantha took all of their lessons to heart despite the differences.

"Whew!" the Lieutenant wiped the sweat of her brow. "That was fun!"

"Yes, Indeed." Iris nodded.

"Perhaps tomorrow we can test how you do with a few Alteration Spells, Lúg Faer, I can teach you how to command the forces of the earth and make metal, trees and water bend to your will." Aliathra said.

"Hehe." Samantha chuckled. "Bend Elements to my Will? Reminds me of Avatar." She said as she glugged down her bottle of refreshing ice water down her thirsting mouth.

"Avatar? What is this 'Avatar' you speak of?" Aliathra asked.

"Oh, it's just some show that was popular for its time back at Earth. It's about these people who can bend 'the Elements'. Earth, Fire, Air, and Water just like what you said." The Lieutenant explained.

"A Show? Like those plays inside your magic mirrors?" Aliathra asked.

"Yes." She nodded. "You know, you actually gave me an idea for it… but that could be for another day. You interested to see?" Samantha invited.

"I am intrigued. I would love too." The Elf accepted.

"Me too." Iris added.

"Attention! Attention!" Dr. Mahelona's voice echoed down upon them from his Gallery.

"You three, please come to my office right now. I have a few things to discuss with you before you can go." Dr. Mahelona said.

The three promptly climbed up to the Scientist's Office situated above them next to the observation gallery of the Testing Chamber, there the girls can see the Scientist had placed on a large holographic screen, recordings, textual observation notes and a small obsession wall with interconnected colored lines attached to several ineligible ramblings of a disorganized but focused scholar detailing of Samantha's actions throughout her tests and tutorial sessions throughout her time with him. Mahelona was smiling humorously at all of his recordings as the girls entered his office.

"The Ministry is gonna love this." Mahelona grinned.

"Is there anything else that you want to test? I do want to get back out there outside already. I am kind of getting… restless just being on my… ehem…'Cell' this past week." Samantha complained.

"When the Ministry deems you can control yourself then they will let you go back to command for your squad now." The Scientist informed.

"Oh, come now Doc, how long would it take for you to synthesize that Armor now? And how the h.e.l.l are we going to get everything?" Samantha inquired about Doctor Mahelona's proposal.

She had heard more of the Scientists' promises of a 'revolutionary new armor' tailor-made for her but for all of the man's innovation l.u.s.t, she has yet to see it pa.s.s the form-fitting drawings that David showed to her and even then he was no fashion designer due to his unfamiliarity with the female form.

"I know I know, but your Containment and Dispersion Suit needs the materials before we get this party started. Luckily, we know where to get some right now. Okay, a lead but still!" David answered.Find authorized novels in Webnovel,faster updates, better experience,Please click for visiting.

"A lead?" Samantha asked.

"Lutheor Mirrien's brother in the Ostalrocs has some friends who are part of the Miner's Guild for the Dwarven Clans. They are a pretty tight-knit group of folks so if one Mine knows where to get a certain ore, the rest will know too. We can get both the Ghyranite and the Scandanite that we will need for your suit and you will be allowed to be left alone from… well… not hurting people accidentally by your Nuclear Powers." Mahelona said.

"I have the Powers of the Atom within me and this is still terrifying." Samantha sulked down and see her two pinked hands with distraught. She cooled her hands off with a quick shake of her risks to allay the singe of her hands as the Vampire Witch and Elven Cleric walked to her.

"But Magic is a Gift. And this…'New-klee-yar' you speak of? Why do you fear it so much? The way you describe the Mana Crystals and this 'New-klee-yar' you speak as if you fear it. But why fear something that you can control? Don't you have Machines to contain them?" Iris asked.

A moment of tense silence gave Mahelona and Samantha pause to Iris' question. They both looked at each other longingly, not knowing how to say the answer Iris speaks. Neither of them don't want to leave the Vampire Witch in the dark on what kind of mythical power those Nuclear Energy can entail in addition to its less than wholesome origins.

"Not all… creations were made with the best of intentions…" Mahelona broke his silence. "Some of the things we had made… used to start as something very… very frightening…" he continued.

Mahelona turned to his computer and then searched around the Ethernet for several videos and photos

"Nuclear power is the releasing of Energy from two powerful atoms… like… really small… power… things that we can catch and use… think like what happens to break a Mana Crystal but at a more… violent scale." Samantha explained, her voice awkwardly dumbing down the more scientific bits of Nuclear power.

"How dangerous can it be?" Aliathra asked. "If it is like our Mana Crystals then you can control it." She said.

"It's not that simple. Nuclear Energy or Radioactive Energy has a mind of its own. When let lose it can do so much harm to everything." Mahelona said. "Samantha's powers, its dangerous I tell you. You still don't realize what you are doing is probably the only thing keeping Samantha from either being killed outright or worse used against your people as a Weapon of Ma.s.s Destruction." He said.

"Ma.s.s. Destruction?" Aliathra gagged trying to comprehend such a combination of adjectives to describe an armament.

She never would consider a fellow mage, even if not born of the Same world as Samantha, to be a Weapon of Ma.s.s Destruction, most Mages have temporal limits to their bodies with some having the const.i.tution to regularly push said limits, her people included.

 "Look here." David lured the two Glisian's attention to the screen.

"Tell me, Iris and Aliathra? Do you honestly believe what you saw in Kesserheim, or what we did in Souviel? The Big Ships, the Guns, our Vehicles, our Cities, was our fullest and most high of our potential?" Mahelona asked.

"That is only a fraction of our full power." Samantha grimly added.

"In our long history of Wars on Earth, we Earth Humans developed terrifying new weapons of war in order to defeat our opponents as efficiently as possible." Mahelona reluctantly lectured.

"Efficiently as possible?" Iris asked.

With a click of David's fingers, the Screen metamorphisize to a barrage of images that bombarded the Gliesian's eyes in color. But not of playful prismatic variegations, but of vivid violence in its naked true self. The screen before the girls was perhaps the most macabre sight, they had ever seen in all of their long lives. Not even Iris, a woman who had her fair share of the acts of murder and the sight of the very worst of the social conditions of the Empire's racist laws against her kind shuddered at the sight of what she saw. A golden cloud soon erupted from the inferno. At first, the sight was relieving to see that the instinctual fear of fire's burning kiss dissipated. But for Aliathra, at that next moment she wished that if she were to die, she would be dead through the flames. The golden gas descended upon a group of weary blue men who looked upon the gas holding their breath in dread and held their breath in dread the forever did as they clawed their throats with them hopelessly as their life was stolen away by such a gilded yet silent killer. Their eyes froth in tears as they lay motionless and twisted in mangled angles to the ground as they drown in their own vomit, saliva, and breathlessness. It disgusted the Elven Cleric to the G.o.ddess of Life so much that she felt sick in her stomach. Such agony, the ant.i.thesis of her G.o.ddesses' teaching of giving solace to the body. A diary of faces permanently implanted into the poor Elf's head.

"Neneth's grace!" Aliathra grabbed the nearest trash bin to her person and vomited. Her naive stomach unable to weather the scenes she is witnessing.

Seeing the chemical reactions done to the people in the video had slightly unnerved Iris, for her own Magical spells of fire, ice and most especially acid were of similar experiences to the results of previous escapades and soirees. But such grievous harm to the human body was insignificant to the next horrifying weapon David showcased. Images, still and animated, display of fire, burning steel and worst of all faces, faces of people in agonizing stillness as their bodies lay mutilated in ways not even the Elf new the living body could bend or break in such away. They trembled as the screen emitted the audio of chilling rumble made in place as a great mushroom cloud of smoke erupted from the ground and the voice leaving a crater of what was once a living city in its wake:

I have become Death, the Destroyer of Worlds.

The ominous rumble of the cracking Earth made cold sweat flow down their brows as Samantha felt her hand being grasped by none other than Iris Cadohagan herself as she struggled to keep the highbrow demeanor of her own mortality to be humbled by the sight of such power. These Eldritch insights into the ways of the Earthling War were incomprehensible to the scale of what the Natives had ever seen before. The showcasing of Chemical Gas, the Atom Bomb and the Earth Cracker Orbital Bombardment over Bel-Taviv. Thinking back, she had heard of the stories of the previous 'Demon Invasions' that Gliesians had undergone through their history. Although the time was long since past and only told through oral or privileged readings of the legendary romanticizations of the events, to see such a horrifying sight in vivid detail, could not compare to speech or written thought. The faces of deceased, their mutilated bodies, the inventions born of war and the sheer scale had made them pale with fear as their volition began to break.

"Over Billions of our people fought and died in our world for resources, ideals, and power for hundreds of years. And every generation, there is always a new weapon ready to unveil its head to the world." Mahelona said.

The girls began to whimper as Samantha's empathetic instincts kicked in. They felt their souls torn asunder by these revelations. Seeing their fair share of fantastical elements and every Arcane awakening imaginable, none prepared them for Dr. Mahelona's discourse. They are like birds trying to outfly the storm. Try as they might, their might cannot compare to Nature's Wrath which the Earthlings had mastered to be able to weaponize in such a terrifyingly regular reproduction.

"S-stop!" Samantha told David alarmingly. "They've know enough!" Not even taking into account David's personal s.p.a.ce, Samantha dove to the Chief Scientist's computer and closed off the sordid sight that the Gliesian's had the unfortunate curiosity to witness.

"Oh Ladui Rose! Samantha!" Aliathra's eyes flooded again as she grasped for the Lieutenant's warmth. So does, but not as ardently, Iris the Vampire Witch too.

Like a crying child seeking the shelter of her mother's bosom as she entangled the Lieutenant in her embrace. Aliathra, breaking down on her person was perhaps the only thing the young Elf of a couple of centuries-old could fathom to do. In all of her life, she never felt so humiliated and powerless and the more she is exposed to the Earthlings, the more she had wished she had just stayed in her lofty tower back in Ethuilen. But even then, she could imagine the cracking of the earth that she had witnessed to be the end of her people that she had in her blood, the duty to protect alongside all of Gliesia's younger races.

Iris too can feel the same way.

"Neneth's Mercy, what do you want with us? I beg of you!" Aliathra broke into incessant pleas. "Do not destroy us! The Demons, the Demons of Old are nothing compared to your might. Please I beg thee… spare us…" she sunk down as Samantha caressed her golden hair.

"I never knew you are capable of such… such destruction." Iris muttered with distraught. "As for your Gift, now I truly understand why you see it as a 'Curse'." Iris, perhaps in the first time in her long life humbled herself before someone.

"I am so sorry… It was… for me the only way to show you. You have to understand." David said.

"I already do understand." Aliathra said, stifling the tears from her eyes. She mustered all the courage she could in order to face this Leviathan.

"You do?" David asked.

"If our people continue fighting against you. That will happen to all of Gliesia." Aliathra lamented.

The Elf know fully vowed that only she could prevent such a disaster from happening to all of Gliesia.

"No, it won't I promise it won't." the Lieutenant rea.s.sured.

"We will only use such Weapons if the lives of the Colonists are at stake. Tell me, do you know of such Magic capable of doing something similar to this?" David asked.

"None that I know of." Iris balked.

"Perhaps the Colleges but even I am not so sure." Aliathra una.s.sumingly answered.

"For all that you see. We only use these weapons against military targets, like Armies, Fortresses and Castles. Cities, however…" Mahelona stuttered. "Depends if your Magic does something very dire to the safety of New Albany." He said.

"Oh Ladui Rose, please promise to us, you will not do this to our home. I know my people will fight back but please. We are like children to you, ants to your feet, ultimately powerless to resist your flood but please… give us one chance… one to become the water that flows instead of the rock that withstands in vain only to be eroded." Aliathra begged. She began to blurt rapidly in religious psalms and proverbs incoherently as Samantha continued her warming embrace. Perhaps it was the first time for the Elf that someone, deep down, genuinely had cared for her, not for her status, not for her superficiality but for the virtuous soul within her. All she ever wanted to was to be the Paragon that all could aspire to be in for Neneth's Cleric, radiant, maternal and principled. She just never knew that it would create a road filled with such hardship.

 "I promise. We will make all of this right. Together." The Lieutenant sanguinely vowed.

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"The local Grey Order Office boss." Diaz informed as he pulled up his Mustang as he unlocked the door to allow himself and Bobby Bianchin out of the car. He had also taken with him, one big duffel bag of a c.u.mbersome weight that Bianchin had theorized that he will need for this venture as the two Aparo Corpo's stepped outside.

In all of its entirety of this establishment, the Grey Order Office had never before seen such activity. Tyr Rian's Guild Manager, Flynn was exasperated by the amount of foot traffic and demanding traffic inside the building.

It was a mix of complaints, inquiries and peculiar of all, Demands by an a.s.sortment of people. On one half there were the usual patrons of the regular stock of Grey Order Adventurer's, gallivant Knights, wandering Wizards and roaming Rogues. The other half were the 'Foreign Warriors' that the Federation had recently imported from their homelands. They were distinct in uniforms compared to the standard camouflage texture wear that the Armed Forces wore, instead they wore pitch black uniforms with lime green outlining that protruded from their strange armor and weapons. They also wore on their backsides a silvery backpack.

These were Mercenaries under the payroll of Aparo Corporation. Their company goes by the name 'Silverback Securities'. They are one of many Private Military Contractors rallied forth by Aparo Corporation to 'bolster' the defense of the New Albany colony as per the Megacorp's Alliance with the Colonial Governor. However, their real purpose into this strange and foreign land was of a more subversive design. Under orders of Aparo Corporation, their mission was to, by all means within their abilities (and even then, some) dismantle all presence of the Grey Order's economic and political influence in Tyr Rian and Ysanigrad. This also aligns with the UFE's goal of having a more centralized network of Law Enforcement and Public Utilities.

The strategy was devious but impactful. Their targets were not the inst.i.tution itself per se, but the very people who make the said inst.i.tution be what it is, the Adventurer's themselves. They would walk into any Grey Order Office that they come across and take up all of the Quests on the boards at a discounted or even straight up no rest.i.tution for their services. The Mercenaries are still getting paid stably by Aparo despite the varied risks of all the tasks, earning Credits by the number of Quests they have completed for the Grey Order. Most of the grizzled mercenaries were somewhat relieved that they are doing relatively easy work for an above medium paygrade while the greenhorns were balked by the disproportionate risk vs reward balance being gerrymandered.

But for poor old Flynn, the Guild Office Manager was having the time of his life in his long career seeing Adventurer's pa.s.s and go.

"Coming through!" one Silverback PMC said as he carried off the bullet broken body of the ferocious Worgs, who runs wild and rampant to prey on unsuspecting beings around the Princ.i.p.ality.

"Impossible! It would take days for even Silver Adventurers to catch such a beast." Flynn said.

"Here is the certificate of collection from the Sherrif for that Delivery." Another Merc said.

"But, the journey to Habshan would have taken weeks!" Flynn suspended his disbelief.

"Took only three hours." He answered.

Seeing all of these Quest being turned in at record times and quant.i.ties nearly made Flynn faint but even then, more and more quests from 'Item Retrievals', 'Explorations', 'Bounties' and 'Escorts' were done all throughout the Princ.i.p.ality solely by these Silverbacks. What would take even the best of Adventurer's days with a degree of hardship took only these Otherworlder's hours with barely any sweat to fall off their brows. At first, by the name alone, Flynn thought that these men would ask for an unconscionable price for their high-quality services but they didn't. These people couldn't care less of whomever or what rank and station in life who posted the quest or how little they would pay. In the most extreme cases, they even ask themselves to offer their superior services at a discount or straight-up free if the Quest Giver was of a low-status. Completely unimaginable for most other Adventurers who would often get into arguments with their Quest Givers over their 'rightful' earnings. If his throat wasn't so meek, he would sing to these Otherworldly heroes his praises.

"Yeah, keep'em coming lads." Crocker ushered the oncoming Mercenaries in and out of the establishment for their sweeps. "Hey Flynn, we need more Quests for these guys, these Gorrila's are starting to get restless!" he asked the Guild Manager.

"Aparo is paying me Twenty-Kay per Contract and I need to keep going!" one Silverback demanded.

"I… am sorry but…" Flynn put his foot forward and gestured his hands to be exposed. "But these other quests are for Silver ranked and higher Adventurer's." he explained.

"Why not give it to us? If it's just more killing some big monsters then we should handle it." The Silverback bragged.

"I apologize but there are rules in this Guild. I appreciate what all of your men have exceptionally accomplish but may you all yield for one moment please?" the Manager gaveled for order. "Understand me, but I am stretching the rules to the limit by allowing you all in here right now without proper registration of your ident.i.ties." Flynn said.

"Are you sure about that?" Bobby walked inside of the conversation to inquire.

All of the Silverbacks saluted their patron whilst Crocker and Clay lightly bowed in respect.

"Status report Sarge?" Bobby asked.

"Twenty-five quests sir. But there's more inside that safe over there." Crocker pointed to the secured object behind Flynn's back.

"So, Flynn's your name, right?" Bobby asked.

"I am sir. Welcome to the Grey Order Guild Office of Tyr Rian." Flynn bowed down.

"What do you think of my men? My Silverbacks?" Bobby asked.

"I think they maybe causing some trouble with ----" The Manager was about to air his grievances when the front door suddenly opened up to reveal even more Mercenaries wearing the Silverback's colors enter the building.

"One Kidnap for Ransom victim! And the Bandits are now six feet under. That means dead." the newly arrived said as he carried a dirtied and likely battered woman on his arms to the safety of the city. From her faint tears, she shed tears for joy for her valiant rescue from her oppressive captors.

"Ghana give praise thee! These men are indeed exceptional in every shape or form. Your men are perhaps the best people I have ever had the honor of hosting in my humble establishment." Flynn quickly changed his tune.

Bobby had done his research of the Grey Order and had studied them thoroughly after the Coup Attempt in Souviel. In the eyes of a Corpo, the Grey Order is a Guild organization of unacceptably vagrant mercenaries who act as both Teamsters, Explorers and Soldiers upon the drop of the coin. The Order is headquartered at the Empire's Capital and has reached around every corner of the Gliesian world. All races, creeds and species were allowed membership through a meritocratic system of ranks. From the lowest to the highest ranks there is the beginner Porcelain, Obsidian, and Steel; the intermediate, Sapphire, Emerald and Ruby; and the venerable Bronze, Silver, Gold, and Diamond ranks. They were an accessory to the law and order of the land and is a high-risk and high-reward means of alleviating one's status across the realms. But even then, such a loose-knit inst.i.tution had its flaws.

The most peculiar that the Corpo can exploit today is the disparity between the higher tier Silver and higher ranks versus everyone else lower than the Bronze rank. Silver rank and up Adventurer's get access to exclusive privileges within the guild such as exclusive access to Elite Quests that offer the highest pay grades, access to various perks on selected business establishments and quite the most unpopular of all the ability to influence or outright decide Rank Promotion and Demotions. These 'Elite Cloaks' or just 'Cloaks', named for the distinction formal Cloaks they wear to administrative meetings that display their statuses, or simply just 'Elites' as the lower folks call them were famous throughout the land for their exploits and are often hold significant political power within and without the Guild. The rest had to contend with limitations on their rank such as subpar privileges to none at all, contending with lower-paying quests and uncertain job securities.

"They will be taking all of the Quests! There's nothing left for us?" one of the Native Gliesian adventurers complained. He had the misfortune of arriving to take in his next odd job from the Guild he calls his own but only to be outshined virtually immediately by these Otherworlders.

"This isn't fair! If they keep doing that we are going to starve. We worked hard to get where we are the guild now. You have to do something about this Flynn! You can't just let them walk all over you." An emerald rank adventurer yelled.

"Walking someone over implies intimidation. I believe in this situation for me and my represented party's interests, Persuasion I believe is the best course of action. Observe." Bobby snapped his fingers to signal Diaz.

Vincente, with the duffel bag in tow, dropped it onto the Front Desk counter causing a loud thud to be emitted in its wake. He quietly unzips the bag and grabs a fistful of its contents before dropping them onto the floor.

"Ducats! So many Ducats!" Flynn hovered his hands over the gilded coins, a high of the denomination at that was before him, but his hand was caught by the firm grip of Mr. Bianchin's equally gilded in rings hand.

"I want those Elite Quest details. My Silverbacks WILL accomplish them and they are going to get away with NO problem. And you Will keep feeding my men more Quests whenever they come up again and again and again. And they will do them… for FREE." Bobby said

His coercive voice struck true at Flynn's innermost desires and needs. He was always making a meager salary being both the Manager and the Desk Clerk of the Grey Order Office Building. His position wasn't an attractive magnet for Graft due to him being only a simple Herald that doubles as a second-rate Innkeeper for the Office due to how little power he truly wields in the grand bureaucracy side of the Guild. But this much Gold, he had never before seen so many Ducats in his life.

"Do you understand?" Bobby asked.

"Yes." He bluntly nodded.

Bobby let go of Flynn's hands as the Manager quickly collected the Ducats on the table before the table. Much to the uproar of the Native Adventurer's present in the scene. As the Manager turned around to the safe to acquire the Elite Quests upon the Corpo's word, tensions began to escalate unhealthily among the Natives and the Otherworlders.

"Who do you think you lot are? Coming in here and taking our jobs away?" one adventurer said.

"Because we want to drive your kind of folks out of Tyr Rian." Crocker bluntly said.

"You scoundrels! Have you no shame?" He raised his fist.

"Says the one who drains old farmers off their coins to protect their hovels from monsters." Crocker cringed in disgust.

"Sergeant, allow me." Diaz intervened. "I'm a pay you twenty pieces if you f.u.c.k off right now." Diaz offered a hand of several Ducat coins of varying denominations to the provocateur.

"Who do you think you are? All of you?!? You're not even bothering to hide your intentions… you… you villains!" he shot down the obvious bribe. The man was fighting for his livelihood and to see these outsiders pay to be adventurers by breaking so many rules and regulations that had to maintain the Grey Order Guild's reputation of promoting peace, well-being and safe commerce throughout the land.

"I pay for the Privilege." Diaz smiled.

"Oh? You think you do?" the Adventurer furrowed his brow.

"Indeed? Where are your Papers and Tags? All adventurers need those to be allowed to take quests. You just came in today and just grabbed all the quests on the Public Board then fly off to finish them." Another Adventurer backed him up.

"You know, you can just take this Gold and go away too." Diaz offered to him.

"You think I am some scanty guard that you can just bribe?" the adventurer gnashed his teeth.

"It's not for you though." Bobby smiled.

"Oh?" the Adventurer turned to the rotund man in the rich dress, in confusion.

"It's for your wife. Gisela." Bobby said. "Dalmur isn't it?" he asked for his name.

The Adventurer nodded. But in his stricken heart, he was absolutely left frozen upon the hearing of his own name by the Otherworlder.

"How did-----"

"I am friends with Lutheor Mirrien at the Inn she works in. It's no surprise she, being wench offers a few 'extra services' to make your ends meet and you hate letting her do it just to put food on the table. I mean, what the h.e.l.l is a foxy and big t.i.tty redhead with golden eyes doing with a guy like you? Hunting wolves and bears for a living while she struts around her skirts all over at the Drunken b.a.s.t.a.r.d huh?" Bobby asked. "Wouldn't you want to at least I don't know… you come home with something nice for her? A new dress? Jewelry? Tickets to a show together?" he asked, his eyes piercing down on Dalmur's.

Bobby's eyes then darted back to Flynn.

"Which reminds me, you have neighbors right? At Byrn Haul? They got a bit of a Quinn-grif… eh Rabbit-Raven I call them. Their too poor to afford the fees to get their problem into the registry yeah?" Bobby inquired.

Flynn nodded.

"If it makes you want to scratch my back more if I send some boys and make some stew out of them? You know, a few herbs here and there, some vegetables and you got a really nice soup! Something you want to go home too yeah?"

His charisma made nearly everyone stoop down to laugh or at least smile reminiscing such a delectable dish.

"Also, how about that little Orphanage that I presume many of you folks have either come from or would sometimes donate a bit to the nuns there? Yeah, your Neneth be praised! That makes me happy, seeing kids, healthy, learning and having fun. Especially when a little someone… of my own stature and likeness offered to help renovate the place yeah?" Bobby smiled.

All of the Adventurer's lowered their tone as the stranger who seem's to know their own lives just as well as themselves. It shook fear and awe to their hearts of how much power and influence this Otherworlder possesses.

He then spat at the wooden floor of the premise to a.s.sert his high-caliber position now that the Natives have been cowed.

"I am Roberto Ferrero Bianchin of the Aparo Corporation. I have eyes everywhere in this city you call your own and thanks to your Prince, this city is working for me and the UFE now."

"Look, I know what I and the UFE doing is obviously 'bad' for you adventurers in making ends meet, but I believe in striking some compromises. My job is to make deals for a living you yeah?" he clasped his hands forward politely.

"Never you Cretin!" One of the Adventurers challenged avidly. "You will not take this City you scoundrels! I will not let some disgusting looking upstarts like you people to take away my glory! Engarde!"

The adventurers witnessing him knew of this man, a local hero of sorts who is known for his reputation of hot-bloodedness and his martial proficiency with the blade. But just as he was about to unsheathe his long sword from its scabbard, Diaz beat him to the draw by unleashing a wild swing of his t.i.tanium bat, knocking him to the ground. s.a.d.i.s.tically, whilst the man was down, Diaz repeatedly hammered his bat onto the swiftly defeated Adventurer much to the Native's shock and the Silverback's nonchalance. Crocker wanted to stop this as per his principles but these were two evils he had to choose over and the Megacorporation were the Devil he knew. For the Governor's plan, whom his and Clay's true loyalties were to succeed, Aparo's creeping takeover of their soft corporate power was a necessary evil. They just couldn't have what has essentially hired vigilantes to run loose around the Princ.i.p.ality, not while their only interests are their next pay, not while they come and go as they please and definitely not while the Prince or his puppet masters the UFE cannot have direct control over such deviancy. For if he remembered one thing to say about the Common State Party is this:

Whatever they cannot control, they will destroy.

"As I was saying, I am offering you a choice." Bobby gestured his right hand to the heart to showcase his sincerity, however brutal it may be. "We, Aparo Corporation and the United Federation are inevitable.  Already, Prince Clovich as we speak is thinking of having us partner up with the Guards for Tyr Rian's safety and security which will all of you be driven out of business." He told them the painful truth. "You can either leave here and don't make me see your mug ever again. Second is that you end up like your little friend here..." Bobby pointed down with a belittling tone to the beaten up and lifeless body of the man who dared try to openly defy him just as Diaz has finished his little session of battery on the man by whistling a playful tune as wiped the blood off of his t.i.tanium Bat.

The natives shuddered upon the sight of his purplish-red face oozing out blood and pus from his broken body. Many of the more green-faced of Adventurers, knowing no better, entertained the choice of taking their loss and run.

"Or lastly… something you may all like…" he chuckled.

"What could possibly be better?" one of the Adventurer's asked.

"I will give you twice this amount of cash you saw me pay off Flynn here if you join us." Bobby reeled them in.

 "Gentlemen and a few ladies over there at the back! I know you are struggling to earn a means of living because my Silverbacks take over all the quests and finish them much better than all of you could ever hope to pull off. Sooner or later, Aparo and the Federation will take over all your jobs and your Prince is going to love every second of it but there is a way out for this. If you can't beat us? Join us!"

"Join you? To share your quests?" the Adventurer pressed.

"Indeed! I know that some of you adventurers' band together to increase your chance of success in your quests so why not join the Silverbacks? We are in needs of people who know the terrains, flora and fauna around here? And who is better than you gentlemen who live here longer than us. Besides, we pay you fixed salary that means that every week you receive payment unlike you have to wait for who knows when to get some money? Why wait for the opportunity when you can be the opportunity?" Bianchin proposed.

"And to sweeten the Deal... Free Healings for all work-related injuries and a Retirement plan after at least ten years of Service with me and the Silverbacks." he added.

The Adventurers began to whisper among themselves of this brave new prospect being offered before them. What this stranger and his merry band of men were offering was a way out of their unstable financial situation. Like the security of Knighthood minus the t.i.tles and glamour but all of their futures and beyond secured 

"There is a saying where I come from: Oro o Ferito? Gold or Pain? Join us or be wiped away by us?" he gave his ultimatum.

"Join you? Ha! When it rains wine! You are even worse Villains than the Demons of Old." Another Adventurer rallied himself.

"Wine? Oh, go on! Toast to your 'n.o.ble' profession." Diaz teased. "Toast to being glorified murderers, thieves, and hypocrites or you can all do better? Join us, Join the Federation." Diaz added.

"You know what? I am sick and tired of the s.h.i.te pay while all of the Cloaks get all of the good stuff for themselves!" one Adventurer stood up and volunteered. He walked towards Bianchin and received his 'introductory welcome pay' from him.

"Where can I begin?" the Adventurer asked.

"Hey! Sarge, make every one of these good folks like him find a squad and attach him to it yeah?" the man slapped the Native's back like dear friend and brother as the UFEAF Soldiers begin the long process of a.s.signing Native Guides to the Silverback Securities Mercenaries.

However, just many adventurers pragmatically join the UFE to work and then enjoy better means of making living, not everyone thinks like that. For those Adventurers who rejected the proposal, glory, fame and rank are more important than a fat paycheck or luxurious benefits and the Otherworlders are taking them away. They quietly walked outside as they were showed off by the Foreign Warriors with their head looking down to the ground as to not show their ashamed face to the world as their position of keeping the status quo, weakened upon the wake of this new invasive wave that these Otherworlder's brought forth.

As some walked around, cursing silently of how 'cheated' they were by the Aparo Corporation, a shady figure approached them.

"Hey? Are you Adventurers?" he asked. "Looking for a Quest?"

"How so? There's nothing left." An Adventurer sadly informed.

"Oh no, this one I managed to save for myself but I can use some help for this. We can split the cash." The shady figure explained.

Lured in, several dozens of them like several dozen more before them approached the man.

"You know of those folks over by the Branch Office?" the figure asked.

"Yes, they took all of the quests away. We are being driven off."

"You want some payback for those Otherworlders? I have a Quest for people like you that can surely gain you great fame and let you pay back those people." the Figure coerced.

"Really?" the Adventurer's the figure managed to catch in the most opportune time collectively gasped.

"Have you heard of the Adventurer Radred the Flagrant?" the shady figure asked.

"Yeah, I know him, he maybe a Gold-rank but he looks out for us sc.r.a.ppers. What's going on with him?" an Adventurer asked.

"I hear he pays quite well." Another Adventurer added.

"Hehehe…" the figure grinned. "Listen closely and do spread the word quietly." The man curled his finger back repeatedly to usher them closer.

Little did they know, that these Adventurers were not only going to be recruited into a plot so sinister but they were being watched unknowingly from above them. A Spy Camera designed in the shape of a native purple bird to overlook discreetly the Grey Order Office, a 'Point of Interest' for the New Albany Police Department.

"What are you planning?" Inspector Reid whispered to himself as all of his colleagues spied at the disgruntled Adventurer's that Aparo Corporation wasn't able to successfully defect.

---------------

Light on her feet but still reeling from the revelations before she came to the Root Family Household, Aliathra put into her practice, years of the Quar-Alfel Vandor, the Dance of the Elven Forest as it is called. Something close to heart about the Creation legends of Gliesia, specifically the Elves and her homeland of Alfel-Nora. It is described by those few outside witnesses to the Elven continent to be a merriment-filled cavort filled with flowing movements to mimic the movements of her G.o.ddesses creation separated in verses: the Rushing Rivers, the Warming Sun, the Peaking Mountains, the Blooming Wood, the Frolicking Wilds, the Caracole of the First Peoples and lastly the Neneth's Regalement. The moves can be described with the contrasts the beget the real world it imitates, a mix of flowing, rising, and falling actions followed by a free-style of rapid movements and slow movements that interprets the Wilds that was the G.o.ddesses creation. It is normally danced by multiple people but if one has the ingenuity, intransigence, patience and Arcane competencies in the fields of Illusion Magic, one can accomplish the full dance alone with the aid of several Minor Illusions. The Quar-Alfel Vandor is often performed to mark a new point in a certain road for a person or to mark the beginning of Spring and Summer. Especially of one April Root's birthday, this Dance was more than appropriate. The Elf just hopes that this would be up to her parent's satisfaction as she has yet to detail Obediah about how she is going to provide entertainment.

As Aliathra hummed to the verses as she remembered from her youth, her ears perked, alerting her to an uninvited visitor.

"Who is there?" she asked amongst the solemn grounds of the Root Family Homestead.

"Hi-Hi-Hi." A peal of childish laughter can be heard.

"April?" Aliathra eyes widened as she recognizes that girl's voice. "Should you not be at your home right now?" the Elf asked.

"Never! My mommy will make me eat Beans for dinner! I rather play with you." She playfully protested.

"You need to be back with your parents right this instance!" Aliathra ordered.

"You have to find me!" April challenged before another playful laugh echoed through the chiming of the tree leaves.

With her senses tingling, Aliathra's eyes darted around the scenery, her shivers raised and ears perked to attention as she tried to search for Obediah's child. She will humor this little one today.

"Come out April! Your parents could be worried that your missing!" Aliathra warned.

"You have to find me first princess." She teased.

"May I remind you that I am also a Ranger? It's like your father being a Hunter. I track and find things in the forest." Aliathra kept the conversation going to egg the child for a response.

"You bring my mommy meat stew too? That's cool!" she exclaimed.

"Cool? What does that mean?" Aliathra questioned.

"It means you're a nice person to be with if you are like my Daddy." April smiled.

"Oh, sweet child. You know nothing of your father." Aliathra backed herself behind a tree, with a confident smile on her orifice as the shiver of her skin alarmed her to April's hiding spot.

"Surprise Attack!" April leaped off of the tree branch she hid from only to be caught by Aliathra's reflexes mid-air.

"Got you!" Aliathra babbled at the little one.

"Hooray! Hug me beautiful and pure princess!" April articulated her arms open to receive the warm bosom of the Elf's embrace.

Pure.

That word, that one single word soured that innocent moment that the Elven Princess wanted to cherish at this moment of fading peace. It made her body quiver upon the guilty word that the child had innocently reminded Aliathra. Her cybernetic body, her fractured soul, her broken heart shivered at Pure's reverberation on her ears. Her smile faded as her mind wandered off once again.

"You… think I am… beautiful?" Aliathra asked April.

"Not only that but pure!" April squealed. "Daddy told me all about you! How you help people, care for animals and being nice to everyone like a real princess should."

"Oh, your father must be saying abo---" Aliathra tried to backtrack herself in a haphazard attempt of humility to save her the further embarra.s.sment of the Child's incessant praises.

"Daddy also told me about how many bad people lying that your evil. But you're not!" April said.

"He… he told you that?" Aliathra asked, her mouth left agape at the child's insight.

"You are just misunderstood. You're not evil, you can never be evil." April further embraced Aliathra. "You are like Elsa the Ice Queen."

"Elsa? Who is she?" the Elf asked.

"Elsa is a Princess and later a Queen of her Kingdom of Arendelle who has tremendous Ice magic powers which makes people be scared of her, they even called her a monster too. But later, she does a good deed for her people and her people accepts her for what she is. My daddy and mommy said the beauty from the inside of a person is purer than the beauty from the outside." April explained.

"You think I am like Elsa?" Aliathra asked.

"Uh-huh." April nodded. "She's just like Shrek too! He's a big ugly Ogre but gets to marry a beautiful princess because he is a good Ogre from his heart! Even Auntie Iris too is a good lady. She maybe a blood-sucking vampire but she is a good Vampire! She always helps us when Daddy and his friends ask for her help and makes Mommy happy by buying her food too!" April further revealed.

Thinking back (in addition to the previous revilement of Ogre's and their foul general appearances), Aliathra recalled the time the Empire and her own people would describe these Otherworlders as 'Demons'. Feeding off of souls, ruining the land and wantonly sowing the seeds of decay in the world. But what these Otherworlders did was to the contradictory, constructive and benevolent even. They build prosperity when there's poverty, they built order for where there is chaos, they brought peace when there was only strife. Demons, shouldn't do that. However, the prophecy as she heard from Grandmaster Owyne that these Otherworlder's will sow the end of Gliesia still troubles her.

"Little One, I have to tell you something. It is about…" Aliathra swallowed her angelic demeanor to explain something serious, the but she was cut off when April whispered softly in to her pointy ears.

"Professy… Shmo-pessy." She denounced. "Those bad men in Hairy-Point are just dumb-dumbs. n.o.body can see the future."

"What do you mean? Clairvoyance is one of the most powerful spells in all of Gliesia." Aliathra leaped at the child's non-belief.

"The future, as Daddy told me is ours and ours alone. We choose where we want to go. It's just how we will face it is the hard part." April said.

Again, reflecting back, Clairvoyance, in spite of it name maybe powerful in manipulating the Quantum dimensions of the world to see into the future, but it is imperfect at the politest descriptions of its practical evaluation. It was a relatively new discovery by the College of Magi in Haringpoint that had met some controversy amongst the top Arcane Academics around Gliesia due to its unreliability and general inefficiency with how much Mana must be consumed to properly conduct the ritual. Was there a chance that Grandmaster Owynne misinterpreted the Future of Gliesia?

"You… you are wiser than you look little one." Aliathra softly praised.

For once in her entire duration of this tumultuous Quest in a search for acknowledgment, Aliathra felt a sense of hope. It wasn't through the political machinations these Otherworlder's concoct that will inevitably be triumphing against all odds, the prophesized humiliation of her kind nor the continued 'corruption' of Aliathra's body with cybernetics so she may fight on for a better future in this new tide that the Federation from the World above the Skies that gave her a glimmer into a day where all of Gliesia can live in peace. What renewed her hope was this child, this small tyke before her gave her hope! Her lamenting prayers to her G.o.ddess or whoever is listening to them were answered!

Aliathra hugged the child wholeheartedly as April embraced her back in equal folds. She even shed a single tear from her eye that, despite her damaged vision was able to seamlessly yielded.

"Enough talk Princess!" April lets go of her embrace so her little hands can grasp Aliathra's

"Can you show me more of those cool magics you are practicing for my party? I want to see it and I am the Birthday Girl and the Birthday Girl gets what she wants!" she ordered with an impish tone.

"Of course, your 'Majesty'. Allow me to demonstrate." Aliathra smiled as she stood up and began to hum again.

A Rainbow's worth of orbs consisting of sparkling lights conjured around her as Aliathra began to flow her body to the rhythm of the Quar-Alfel Vandor. April in tow, danced along to the playful song as well as her little body could copy the intricate and delicate steps the Elf had taken. Despite the contrast, they were both enjoying this moment together. This moment even reminded the Elf of a simpler time at her youth when she would use her magic not for healing, casting defensive wards nor even deceiving people with Illusions but to create something… something truly magical.

As the two danced together, a bewildered but now relieved Obediah and Leah root watched their only daughter play along with the Elf harmoniously as the sun began to set on the horizon.

------------------------------------

"Done!" Kayin smiled as he wiped the sweat of his ebony skin over a hard day of work.

The Combat Engineer was helping Iris Cadohagan move into her shared new little house (that she will also share with the Elf Aliathra.). Today, all of the basic furniture has been moved inside and now the home is now minimally livable. There were some empty walls that could use some brightening up with decoration and other sorts of knick-knacks here and there but outside of that, Iris now has a place to finally call her own (although she will have to share it). It is a single floor; residential home situated a moderate walk between her new home and the Underground Laboratory's entrance. It wasn't as s.p.a.cious as her old Cabin by the River Valley Woods but it was definitely more aesthetically pleasing. What was considered the most profanatory of this little hearth was the fact there's only a single bedroom inside the residence that she and Aliathra will have to share with two separate twin-sized beds on opposite sides of the room. There was a garage area that was meant to be the storage area for one such of the UFE's mechanized beasts they call 'Vee-hee-kills' but as Kayin explained, she can with some help convert it into a workshop just like or even better than its predecessor with the luxury of adding several new amenities and gadgets such as a full-fledged blacksmith anvil, a forge and a tannery. Too bad that she will also have to share that s.p.a.ce with Aliathra too, but at the very least she can brew stronger potions without some straggler getting suspicious as per her previous clandestine arrangements. There was also enough plot of open land that Iris can, when she can gather the seeds again, make her own little herb garden just like before. But for now, such additional facilities to continue her work at the comforts of her home will have to wait for now. She will have to contend with the bare minimum of decent living until more of the Federation's boons bless her again.

And already, the blessings she counted were beyond her 10 fingers…

"Oh, Glory to Ser Mudwin you are indeed so capable with your hands." Iris cooed as she placed on one hand to her breast and the other skirting away her long raven hair as she approached the Otherworlder whose skin was black as night.

"Well, this is your new home now Iris, I do hope you and Aliathra find it comfortable. It's not much but if you work more with us and with the Party you should be able to get some decorations out to make it really yours." Kayin acknowledged.

"You know, My Dear, Ser Mudwin… Kayin I mean… but ever since our little tango back at my old home, you were always so… so nice to me… despite your... Physique.~~" Iris tantalized as she caresses Kayin's biceps that lay bare due to his sleeveless shirt.

It seeped with sweat excreted through diligence but the Vampire Witch marveled at Kayin's firm muscles and how his skin was as dark as the night sky. She had a previous weakness for males of a well sculpture based on those Bandall Thunderhand novels who has a similarly described body. The musk of him, however, it made the Vampire Witch tremble at Kayin's presence even when he tries to be humble, she still feels an aura of masculinity whenever he sees him bravely fighting whatever it maybe in front of him. From the Western Desert, that Rainy Day in Souviel and most especially their first encounter, she has to say, Kayin Mudwin was quite a catch, exotic skin color not included. He was intelligent and as curious as to her, but there were some degrees of complementary traits that the Nightman exhibit that Iris lacks. Kayin was a planner above all else whilst she was a creature of impulse. While he is calm, she is pa.s.sionate. Lastly, despite his lack of Magic, he had respectable understanding and respect for her that Iris had never before had gotten before. Even Lutheor Mirrien, the closest person Iris has to a friend before meeting the Otherworlders was more of a Business Partnership with a few perks since deep down, even the Dwarf feared the Vampire's powers. But the Otherworlders, unlike the Inquisitors and self-righteous Adventurers who took bounties of hunting down Vampires like her, they treated her as a person and a sense of respect to her abilities with Kayin being its strongest example.

And this feeling turned into desire for Iris. A desire akin to the romantic novels she occasionally reads in between projects and business a.s.signments.

She wants Kayin, she craves his warmth, she needs his arms to wrap around her and protect her from the ravages of this cruel world and the horrors of what this Otherworld's Eldritch magics and technology could possess. After only having herself to fend against such monsters, Iris had always dreamed of a man who can say they will love her for who she is and have the actual might to protect her. A metaphorical… and quite literally in such a humorous sense a Black Knight to chase away the scary monsters of what Gliesia has to offer.

"You know, Kayin. Now that you helped me and all moving into this new home of mine… would it be good if you can stay for a bit… and help warm this place with your presence?" Iris said.

She stared at his eyes longingly as she fought her urges to claim him. Her hands, rather obnoxiously caressed her body top to down her violet dress in an amateurish display of sultriness. It was still too early to have her for himself and it would ruin this moment if she shoots her arrow too early. However, due to her lucid body dynamisms, Kayin was able to decipher that there was something off with the Vampire Witch.

"Is something the matter Iris?" He asked.

"Oh Love, so many where should I begin?" Aliathra exploded her arms up and about. "I had the most dreadful epiphany today with Samantha."

"Did something happen to the El-tee?" Kayin asked.

"Oh no, Ladui Rose is fine. As fine as a horse." Iris rea.s.sured. "It's what happened a few moments after that got me so… how do I say… restless." Iris said.

"What could be so bad now?" Kayin asked.

"Today, your friend, Mahelona talked about these powerful weapons you call 'Double-You. Em. Dees' and it made be so… dispirited! Hold me love!" Iris said as she pried Kayin's large right hand to caress the back of her head.

Almost instinctively, Kayin brushed the Vampire Witches silky black hair and for a moment he was mesmerized. But as Iris jovially moaned, the Combat Engineer snapped back into reality letting go of his amorous grasp.

"I-I-Iris?" Kayin questioned.

"Don't stop Love, I want you. I need you!" Iris retracted her Nightman's hands. "Relieve me of such fears! Hold my body as I fasten mine unto yours!~~"

"I know we do… but this is all going so fast." Kayin protested. But his face was then caressed by Iris's lithe snow hands.

"Where is the Night Man who bested me? Where was the Night Man when he defeated the villain Devicco from of one Iris Cadohagan? Where was the Night Man who valiantly slew the Orc Hordes?~~" Iris poetically challenged.

She was no true romantic however unlike the comical characters of those Bandall Thunderhand Novels could suggest. The dashing Elven Bard rescuing the Damsel in Distress or the ravishing ladies demanding to bed such a paramount poet had the gaudiest jargon to prose the Vaikuri translated pages. Many of such ladies who read these novels, mostly of those of obvious literate comprehension, the dream of a man like Bandall to romantically lift them up their arms and be their 'Knight in Shining Armors'. It was common for such folks to host chivalric tests to find the superior specimens amongst the males to become their husbands. Iris was no different, she may have the most extensive collection of Bandall Thunderhand this side of the Empire if she can admit since such a scandalous book was unheard of in the more conservative Empire territories and is regulated under the locked cabinets of the n.o.bility's Study Rooms.

"Iris? Are you okay? Did… did the Doctor get you all mad because he showed you all of those… those things?" Kayin asked.

"Oh, hold me! Oh, my brave Black Knight!" Iris smothered herself on Kayin's chest. "Protect me from the horrors of the world with your Sword you dedicate yourself to me!~~" Iris fainted blithely, taking good care, to follow how the woman would have pose visually speaking, as seductive and as vulnerable as possible.

Vulnerability, something Iris never thought she would allow herself to be in such a state of. But if it was with Kayin, all of the world around her, all its hate, all its tremors, and all its sorrow means nothing if he was by her side. Perhaps she has a taste for men who can keep up with her in the aspects she excels for a century in.

"I think you just need to relax after what happened. May I suggest some Herbal Tea?" Kayin asked.

"I need something better!" Iris grasped and fiercely pulled down Kayin's shirt on until Kayin can scent Iris' l.u.s.t-pulsing breath. Her teeth exposing her excited smile as she licked her yearning lips to meet with Kayin's.

"You have bested all trials to prove your virility on this young maiden! Claim your prize oh my brave Black Knight." Iris teased. "RAVISH ME!" she shouted.

"B-b-but…" Kayin was reaching his inhibition's breaking point as he too wanted to claim his glory but is still held back by his own volition to take it alone.

But alone, he did not have to take the next step in this amorous adventure as Iris' lips for the first time made contact with the flesh of another living being, not for her own feeding of her Vampirically enhanced nutritional needs but for the primal craving for something she didn't know she needed:

Companionship.

The Vampire Witch and her Black Knight warmly united their bodies together as the latter pushed their combined weight to the newly installed sofa who, true to its nature held firm as its soft foam supported Iris and Kayin as they magnetized themselves for the first time.

Little did they know, walking home now that Lehsol began to set down into the horizon, An Elven Cleric, one named Aliatha Lareththor witnessed Iris and Kayin's romantic moment. Ducking down shyly on the bush, the Elf saw the pa.s.sion that drove each of the two together as the repressed memories of her restrictive upbringing came back to haunt her. If she was the same Aliathra before months ago, she would have recoiled in disgust but, knowing Iris and Kayin's growing rapport with each other, how could this be a 'Sin'? Was what she witnessing of what she was forbidden to see as a 'Proper Princess should'…

"Romance?" Aliathra single word echoed through her head as now she too… desires companionship in such a time where she thought she was alone in this world and everything is out to destroy or taint her Soul.

"S-s-such might!" Iris squealed in delight as she faded to black under Kayin's charcoal embrace.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

"S-s-such might!" Prince Clovich squealed in terror as the thunder of the Self-Propelled Guns 155-millimeter cannon pound the ground and decimate a dummy Castle to literal dust. They were still in Reno-Tahoe Industrial Complex today as they Otherworldly but primitive guests get a front-row seat to a weapons demonstration of the UFE's a.r.s.enal. They saw the Guns, the Mechanized Steeds and Arms that the Earth Humans possess and wield with such distinctive enthusiasm and discipline. Many of Clovich's militaristic of companions and advisors speculated on the applications of such deific equipment be given to their own soldiers as they eagerly studied the UFEAF's Doctrines.

The Military Exercise that was used to demonstrate such arms, however, were of an unsettling scenario. It was a Siege of a pre-constructed Castle with the UFE's soldiers attacking target dummies worth of men in similarly designed steel, leather and iron equipment just like the Gliesian's wielded. They were torn to shreds without such an opportunity for a reprisal could be mustered as the outer walls were decimated by the combined might of Guns, Aircraft and worst of all, the UFE's answer to the Gliesian Trebuchet, a Self-Propelled Gun.

"This is Big Ba.s.s. Target is no more." The Radio on their observation booth casually informed all of the congregation.

Indeed, there was no more pretend castle to seek protection on. All that is left from the dispelling black smoke was a shallow crater of black where said target used to be. All were frozen but felt a stunning fever paralyze their bodies as they imagine such firepower impact there or their Liege Master's armies. No amount of formations, magic or equipment could stand up to such might. Clovich too now realized the hard truth about the Federation's power of whom its leader proudly smiles with self-satisfaction. He can imagine such familiar places such as Tyr Rian, Souviel and Great Haringpoint herself crumbling in ember-red smolders under the tattered and now trampled remains of the Empire's banners as the Federation's Armed Forces marched triumphantly above their corpses.

"Milord…" Sandulf shuddered.

"I know. There is no denying it." Clovich swallowed his pride. "They may not be G.o.ds but they might as well be."

"Of course, you do. Just as easily I can build, we so easily can destroy. Just so I can easily gift to you so I can easily take it away and use it against you." Prime Minister Bousquet lectured. "You know understand what power is at your back right?"

All of the Native Visitors acknowledged silently, at a loss for words of what to say next.

"Good, very good. You do your part in making sure what happened to Fort Rocky over there not happen too much to your home otherwise… well, you know. We may be Generous but we are also Impatient." Bousquet said as he snarkily chided to the crater before them at the distance.

The Otheworlders humbly lowered their heads.

"Hey what are the long faces?" Bousquet's voice raised up to a cheerful tone.

"Long faces? Did something happen to my face?!" Clovich asked in alarm.

"Oh, I mean… why are you sad?" the Prime Minister corrected himself. "I am not leaving here until you have something to bring home." He said with zealous determination.

"What could I bring home but Doomsays? You are like G.o.ds!"  Edmurl despaired.

"No." He shot down the emotional old man. His senile mind, not able to handle the river's current that is the progress of time.

"Aspiration." He said.

"a.s.s—per--- I… what is this word?" Clovich asked, the definition unknown to him.

"It's an Ambition. You saw what you could be back in Geneva right? Glistening Cities, Happy Populace, Peace and Prosperity." Bousquet explained.

"But, you speak of those yet wield the power to destroy everything with a Killing Word. How can I have the Ambition to achieve all of what you have built if you can easily take it all away?" Clovich asked.

"I believe there is a special someone, who lives in a castle in the middle of a certain Island country that can help you. Someone who can show you what was it like... to see such power." Bousquet smiled.

"Nakamura." the Prime Minister summoned.

A man of a humble stature with a soft smile emerged into the Gliesian's field of view. As the man stood before them he humbly bowed down to Clovich's presence. With his visage enthusiastically smiling on them, the man calmly introduced himself.

"I am Masakazu Nakamura, Herald of the Imperial Clan." He gave his name.

"Emperor Shinharu of j.a.pan has cordially invited your Audience to his Palace." The Herald continued.

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