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We need more paper! (ReZero SI)

Discussion in 'Creative Writing' started by JBukharin, Jan 19, 2020.

  1. Threadmarks: Chapter 15

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

    Mar 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    28 June 422

    I was spot on with my suspicions as when the morning of the next day struck, I was given a full reveal the extent of the situation from the prince himself.

    Maybe a little summarized narration will help.

    The first clue that gave more legitimacy to my guess over why he looked this much afraid was the way Fourier had nervously panicked when I informed him that I had decided to join him for this 'simple visit' back to the capital. I admit the shocked expression was kind of flawless in someone I hardly saw this much awed or surprised by something or someone... but I'm digressing here.

    The blond recovered moments later as he tried to make some 'strong cases' about having me to stay in Erindor to work, or to keep watch over the twins. This last reason actually getting me doubtful for a moment, the kids seriously needing some affection since they got kidnapped by Ivan, but I was stubbornly latching to the red-eyed moron for the sake of not seeing him in a coffin in less than a week from now.

    The very image was enough to send some inner shivers to my core, the idea of ditching the blond to that fate was... uncool. And bad in all possible situations.

    There was also to consider that if Fourier survived, Pandora's plans about the Royal Elections would be screwed beyond recognition and a large chunk of the canon timeline would be nullified and half of my knowledge would be mostly rendered useless.

    Was it a good price to save someone's life? I wasn't Kiritsugu Emiya, but part of my pragmatic self would curiously think about this notion.

    Was it worth? Yes, but a small voice was quick to say no.

    I was hesitant to venture in unknown territory, especially in a dimension like this one and... still, I decided to go ahead and join Fourier in the Royal Convoy arriving from the capital, ready to take the prince back to his castle.

    The carriage was modestly-ample inside and I tried to appear clueless of the inner struggles displayed by the blond while we began our journey to his home, squirming as no proper distraction seemed to come to his head and... he finally surrendered to the indirect pressure.

    He started quietly, his voice showing that he was bracing for some ill reaction from my part and, if I had known the full context of the predicament we were running into, I would have seriously reprimanded him for not telling anything about this.

    But I couldn't chide him, or at least I couldn't in a realistic tone and manner as I too was hiding stuff from him.

    It was the future knowledge that got me to know when things were going to happen, the accuracy a little difficult to pinpoint but it was still some preparation that would have worked if given prior to him.

    Maybe to avoid Crusch getting kidnapped and the little conspiration from escalating to the canon standpoint, surely to also get Volacchia to back away for some years rather than see them meddling around with the events in Lugnica.

    I decided to use a faux stern tone, the guilt possibly hindering his capacity to notice that I wasn't meaning my words to much and in the end I was dealing with a completely quiet trip that lasted for about two to three hours of utter boredom.

    We ended just by the entrance of the strong walls around the capital, some of the guards assigned had requested the convoy to stop as they started to check for anything dangerous or unlisted by the leading figure of the carriages.

    Moments of silence persisted but then we were granted permission to enter while also being escorted to the palace. First we had to detour to leave the carriages behind and then we continued our path to the massive fortress by foot, squadrons of armed men keeping things safe during the entire walk.

    The palace was immense, humongous and incredibly bright to look at, both inside and out. Red flags showing Volcanica's representation as the 'Dragon' that protected the kingdom from the forces of veil.

    Maybe it could have been the case in the past, but with the resurface of the Witch Cult, mabeasts sowing chaos left and right, I reckon that many wouldn't be minding if the dragon was omitted as a part of Lugnica. Only nobles and high-mages nowadays cared for that legend while the rest of the population just settled in praying for... their own survival each day.

    Kind of sad, considering that the legend was true and... the Dragon was sleeping somewhere in the Kingdom. It was never mentioned much but I reckon that, if the big-ass winged lizard was around in this world, it has to be right in Lugnica, in one of the many forgotten caves or mountains littering the nation's lands.

    Just as we stepped inside the palace, we were swarmed by a large group of aristocrats of various ages and ranks, all trying to get the returning prince's attention on themselves and causing quite the flinch-worthy dogpile, the young man almost drown by the mass of eager nobles if not for Wilhelm and the other guards moving to help the poor royal out of that ugly predicament.

    I was left mostly untouched, some individuals sparing some brief curious glances that only ended by the time a new splace in that meat-barrier of soldiers opened for them to exploit and get closer to Fourier.

    I sighed, partly-aware that this kind of situations had to have been predicted and somehow common for the blond, the prince huffing calmly, a clear distance taken by the previous nervousness he had on his face and core.

    Before I could do anything to help the plight unfolding before me, I was interrupted by a gloved hand poking at my shoulder. The slender finger retreated as I turned my head to greet who had decided to interact with me and- I froze in surprise.

    Fluffy, light-brow cat-ears twitched as I found myself staring at a pair of soft-yellow eyes, a small but giddy smirk on his face as Felix Argyle tilted his head in adorable curiosity.

    "Hello," His tone was feminine, so much that if I hadn't known that he was a dude I would have certainly fallen for the trick presented by his appearance.

    "Hello there," I replied back slowly, my eyes blinking just once before I continued. "I'm John Bukharin, Mayor of Erindor."

    I extended my right hand to him and the cat-boy stared down at it with a quizzical look, then without saying much of a word, he had both his hands onto my palm to bring it to his... cheek? He started to nuzzle it, meowling calmly and-


    A few moments of stunned silence passed from my part but then I woke up and faked a cough with my free hand, ending up managing to get his attention back to the situation rather than just got me to pat his cheeks? What the heck?

    "M-Nyah~?" He opened his eyes once again, he blinked twice and then he seemed to realize that I was confused. "What? You gave me your hand."

    "To shake it," I calmly returned, frowning at the smug exuding from the knight. "Not to use it to get some free cheek-patting."

    "Oh~?" He retracted my hand back, pouting a little but nodding. "My bad then~."

    I decided to ignore the playfulness displayed. "And I reckon you are Felix, one of the close friends to Fourier-"

    "I prefer Ferris," The cat-boy admitted, interrupting me with a bigger smirk. "But yes, that's me and... you are Johnyah?"

    Oh God, no. Please no, I'm not ready for this!


    "Johnyah!" He suddenly exclaimed with a grin, much to my immense chagrin and dismay. It would seem like dialoguing with Felix was proving to be as difficult as expected. Not in the bad way, but in the strange and partly-fun way.

    It was creepy, but it was easy to get weirded out without prior knowledge, which I had plenty of.

    But still, that nickname was just cruelty upon me.


    "-nyah~!" He giggled, causing me to facepalm and groan within and outside.

    Goddammit Felix.

    "You aren't going to... make my life easy, aren't you?" I asked slowly, looking at the smug feline as he shook his head.

    "Nope~!" He replied ever-so cheerful.

    I sighed. "Well, at least I know that he was correct when he said that you were this much... amusing." I said with a little smile, Ferris pausing a moment in surprise at that counterattack.

    "Oh? He spoke about me well, I hope." He nodded, trying to recover from what was just the beginning of my comeback.

    "He sure did," I admitted cheerfully. "In fact, I was a little skeptical when he mentioned about your fluffy cat ears."

    He tensed up suddenly, the young knight's eyes widening in shock at that unexpected mention. Fourier did mention about Ferris' cat-like features, but he genuinely never stopped to describe the ears.

    Which was sad and also quite a curious detail to hide from me. Imagine this character with real cat ears and... I was looking at him.

    Those now-attentive ears, those fluffy and cute ears were something that I was having some problem to not stare at.

    I am a pet-person, someone that loves both dogs and cats until they didn't try to bite or scratch me up for no reason. To see a pair of cat ears seemingly itching for attention was... quite a difficult need to keep at bay and soon my hand was upon his head.

    Instead of reaching out for the ears themselves, which were surely more-sensible compared to a cat since those were 'installed' on a human and Ferris looked panicking about at first, I went for the small spot between them and... started to scratch.

    Ferris tensed up even more, his hand hovering by the hilt of his sword but never doing anything about his, his wide eyes displaying an incoherent flow of emotions that started from horror and ended in... delight.

    A genuine meowling originated from his lips and soon his posture dropped to a more relaxed one, his eyes softening and his lips twitching happily at the treatment bestowed to his head. I was taller than him as he was a little shorter than Fourier, so reaching out for the top of his head was easy to accomplish.

    It took me a few more moments to realize what I was doing, it took me even less to understand the reaction the Demi-human was having at the ministrations and the disappointment appearing as I slowly retreated my palm away in abstract surprise and confusion.

    The cat-boy was confused himself, both for what had just happened and his reaction to it. "W-Whyat?" His tone was a little screwed from the little massage and it didn't make him any less adorable than before.

    Seriously, someone quarantine this cat and his cuteness!

    Before I could apologize for doing something like that, I felt something approaching.

    Footsteps, abnormally loud footsteps that were closing in on... Fourier.

    I glanced at the prince, still fending off the 'fangirling' nobles with the help of the guards...

    But I also saw her approaching him with a petite smile.


    I have seen only a few images of this character, so little was known of her plans and I had almost missed her when she started her approach.

    My eyes were fixed on her, as if it was the most terrifying monster ever let out against humans and... maybe she was.

    Her hair was platinum blonde with a little blue ribbon capturing a few locks away, her dark-blue eyes a turbulent storm of mirthfulness and godly childishness. She was wearing a simple elegant white dress with black decorations, her appearance the one of a child, a clear contrast to how old she truly was.

    It was impossible to miss her giddy smile, her elated expression as she continued to approach Fourier calmly. None of the guards had noticed her, maybe it was because she looked like a little noble girl approaching in a silly manner the possible future monarch and-

    She stopped. Or rather, she was stopped.

    Her eyes widened in minor surprise, her smile twitching some confusion as I reached out to stop her march to victory by grasping her extended arm.

    She turned to look at me and I felt shivers and trembling at the ominous smile on her face. I knew Felix was looking but... he was still distracted. It didn't matter, she was here and... she knew I was here too.

    A giggle left her lips. "Hello~." She greeted with a mirthful tone, almost eager to see what I wanted from her.

    Boredom? Interest? So many variables that I couldn't pinpoint so quickly.

    "H-Hello," I replied back, my gloom dripping off the words and seemingly sending the girl for another laughter.

    "Who are you?" She asked childishly, curious and amused. Terribly amused, pain-stakingly amused!

    "I'm... someone." My response was careful, I couldn't just give her my name. What if she was already aware of it? But still, I had to try and cover every bases.

    "Hello 'someone'," The child returned with a nod, her smile widening. "I'm somegirl."

    She was playing with me. How cruel, how infuriating!


    A nod, then she hummed. "Mr. Someone, can I ask you a question?"

    I was dying inside, the nerves were indeed starting to make me sweat a little. But I continued to display some bravado. "You already asked one."

    She giggled again. "I did, didn't I?" The admission was soft-toned, just like a whisper, and then she continued. "But... really, can I?"

    There was anticipation, like a kid that had just ended up 'cleaning' some plants with bleach. Why the example? My childhood was an odd one.

    "You 'may'."

    Another giggle, she looked so much excited but... her next words proven my assumptions wrong.

    "Why aren't you dying?" The petulant brat finally asked with a solemn but whispered tone. "I 'killed' you 23 times now."



    Her words were just... insane. Mad, she was mad but... she was blunt. There was honesty, there was annoyance and... she couldn't kill me?

    Her Authority was a mystery, no limit was ever reported by the lore and... it was considered nigh-impossible to measure with the other beings in this universe. Someone far stronger than Satella and the Witch of Envy.

    She was the leader of the cult, the one that so desperately wanted to shatter the world. Chaos-bringer, an apt title for the little demon before me.

    "Oh? Well, I don't know," I wasn't ready to continue this, the development bringing even more panic out of me. "By the way, you may leave this place, Pandora."

    The Witch of Vainglory looked surprised, her eyes widening again as to show some genuine shock at my knowledge of her name. Names represented power, it was a rule that was always present in those places where magic existed.

    And the girl knew it, that is why no one truly knew about her, why nobody of the Witch Cult suspected why someone this 'fragile' was actually a being close to a deity.

    I was staring at a little Goddess, one that was bound to a deviated and twisted sense of evil and morality, one that didn't care for anything.

    Except someone.

    She finally overcame her initial reaction, the Witch pouting at my order. "But I'm having fun, you meanie," Pandora huffed, her stubborn tone leaving me somewhat nervous.

    "Go away, Pandora," I sternly added, the news that I was immune to her world-warping powers (there was no other ability that matched up with her fullest capacity to kill this easily) gave me some little more courage. I had to get her to leave this place, now I was aware of what had caused the death of the Royal Family.

    It wasn't a curse, it was Pandora taking things on a personal and direct approach.

    The blunt witch, she was.

    She puffed her cheeks but slowly turned around and walked away. She didn't bother to say goodbye, she didn't even seem willing to spare me one last glance as she left my eye-sight and-

    "Ugh-!?" I felt a pair of arms wrapping around my waist from behind, I recognized some of the clothes and-

    "H-Help me!" The muffled request was loudly perceived as Fourier started to push me away from this large room, the guards having finally gotten under control the group of nobles but seemingly having trouble to keep the situation stable.

    I imagined the barrage of people rushing at us, a stampede of aristocratics that would seriously annoy the hell out of me.

    Without hesitation, I decided to comply to the request and I started to pace outside of the area with the prince still latching at my back. Wilhelm followed nearby... with Felix following his example.

    The cat-boy looked intrigued, eager to tease and-

    Oh right, Fourier had yet to tell him that Crusch has been kidnapped by his father.

    ...Oh crapbasket!


    Afterthoughts: Ferris is here, expect some character building soon with him and... yes, I am a pet-person. It's because I spent a large amount of my time back in my childhood by my grandma's house and she had several kittens and a small pupper in her house. I was there to help around and some were just attached to me... sadly, cats don't live long and that ended up in quite the saddening way. Still, let us focus on... Pandora?! Yes, I know that she is too much but... she will not appear for a long, long time.
    This is a little Omen for something that will be coming soon, something about the MC's power and it's not Time manipulation like I've said before and it's not a Sin-related ability.
    There isn't much of a hint but... it matches up with Vainglory? How?

    AN for QQ readers: We have reached up the current pace of the story. Next update will be tomorrow (January 28th).
  2. Threadmarks: Chapter 16

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

    Mar 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    28 June 422

    Things were certainly looking just as I could remember from this segment of the Volume.

    We were all waiting inside the Karsten office, a small section of the castle that was assigned to house some pseudo-embassy to the Karsten family. Furnished with a Conversing mirror connected to the Karsten mansion and with a small home for the officer established there, it generally worked as a quick mean to gather around the nobles in time of emergency. It was sited in one large quarters that contained other offices, as much as there were noble families worth of such honor.

    But the problem at hand didn't allow me enough time and capacity to scan thorough the entire place, my full attention taken by the outburst coming from Felix, the cat-eared knight slamming down at the dark dest, eyes sporting immense horror and fury at the news now unfolded by the officer.

    I didn't say anything, merely look around the room and glancing absently at Julius Juukulius and Reinhard van Astrea, both men being part of the incensed demihuman squad and following the same example as mine while the predicament unfolded in a quieter declination.

    With Fourier intervening to calm down his childhood friend, the officer finally conceded the entire report to the group and... yep, the case was as it was wrongly displayed.

    Biehn Argyle, Ferris' father, has been caught 'smuggling slaves' in his mansion for unknown reasons, completely breaking the rules from both the Kingdom's law and the ones from the Duchy it was part of, which was led by the Karsten family.

    After making sure of having the entire building encircled and isolated, Crusch herself decided to try her hand at diplomacy but said attempt failed and not much was heard of the young woman ever since then, causing a further increase of guards and a letter to Fourier himself to be sent.

    I detached myself from the discussion the moment the officer continued to detail about the current state of the little army led by Bardok, one of the captains incredibly loyal to the family it worked for.

    Why? Well, I was contemplating two major issues over the matter:

    1) The Volume itself wasn't much descriptive of the mansion as a whole, only of some of the rooms were the action happened and I was utterly unaware of the extent of such building. I knew Crusch was kept in the basement, specifically the room which once was Felix's, but I didn't know how to reach it from the entrance;

    2) The guards covering the lands of the Argyle family, the three knights and Fourier didn't knew the horrible surprise the insane bastard had left for them to discover, the slaves having not been used as a work-force but... as specimens for some resurrection spell that was meant to bring Felix's mother back to life.

    So much to do, so little to move around without causing any awkward issues with the others, especially with Julius.

    The light-purple haired young man had some good relations with his spirits and I couldn't risk trying to force a lie if one of said creatures was capable of knowing the truth from the false.

    I had to play my cards carefully to bring some more preparation to the rescue party and... I had a big, insane and incredibly dumb idea to bring up.

    But first, I needed to bring up the 'curious' clues left out by the report.

    "The slaves," I spoke up midst of the concluding sentences of the officer. "Did any of the guards see them, even through the windows?"

    The man stopped to stare in surprise at the interjection, the whole room focusing on me as I blinked at the officer. "Please, do answer that question." I pressed on, gaining a slightly nervous look from the diplomat.

    "A-Actually no."

    The reply caught some frowns , Reinhard being the one to recover first.

    "There was no sight of any of the dozens of slaves purchased by Lord Argyle?" The redhead asked quizzically. "I thought with so many men dispatched, someone would have seen someone-"

    "If there were slaves wandering inside mansion to begin with," I interrupted quietly, once again gaining control of the situation. "I just have two questions I wish to ask, then I will see if this theory of mine is truly worth of be brought up or not."

    Just as I said this, I turned my eyes at the diplomat once again. "Did Lady Karsten ask for any documentation about the current standing of the Argyle family? The economic side of the report."

    The man gave a quick nod and he quickly went to search and bring up the small stack of papers, which I was quick to take hold on and start to look through.

    Felix blinked and walked towards me, stopping as he started to look quickly at the data written on the papers while Fourier frowned at the scene.

    "What are you trying to find, John?" The blond asked without hesitation, something I found myself nodding at as I found the ledger I was trying to find.

    "Something that is dignifying my worries," I replied and I looked up at him. "You know that slaves are used by some nations as unpaid labor, right?"

    The prince nodded and I continued. "Well, considering the quantities reported I can only assume from a logical perspective that the number of slaves would have been used as a free workforce to improve the already-declining state of the family's economy-"

    "But the treasury is still declining, even faster than before," The brunette muttered as he continued to glance at the paper. "This mean that Count Argyle didn't use them as a workforce."

    I nodded at the deduction while ignoring his little poisonous words toward his father. "That's correct and... that means that there are other reasons that had forced the man to buy slaves," I hummed, eyes resuming their stare at the officer. "What about the guards to the mansion, were there sightings of any garrison protecting the building or-"

    "T-That is actually another abnormality that the scouts couldn't explain," The diplomat commented with a brief stutter. "There was no one guarding the mansion before and after Lady Crusch entered the place."

    The knights tensed up and Fourier's frown deepened... while Felix was now staring at me.

    "You mentioned a 'theory', can you say what is it, Johnyah?" He finally asked, causing me to blink back at him.

    ...Goddammit Felix.

    I let out a sigh and nodded. "Since the slaves have not be seen, they haven't been used as unpaid labor and there is no guard to 'keep a watch over the slaves', I think that the situation is completely different that everyone's initially thought it to be."

    The prince huffed. "Then please, do tell what kind of theory you have; every moment is essential," He stated quickly to which I nodded curtly.

    "I think that the slaves have been used for something, something that goes a little beyond the barrier imposed by morality itself and... it would match with another event that has happened to Volacchia thirteen years ago," I commented with a serious tone. "Eight-arms Kurgan was slain and the Kingdom lost one of their greatest heroes... to which no one has been able to even reach in terms of power to properly replace him."

    "How does this detail connect to this case, Mayor Bukharin?" Julius swiftly questioned, yellow eyes sporting an inquisitive glint.

    Nothing in terms of factual truth as the Volacchian connection was just minimal compared to the whole plot but I was going to make a little 'alteration' to the real situation, something to had a backstory and a reason to be wary of the situation while also hiding my current knowledge as... mere knowledge without proof.

    "The Karsten's lands border with Volacchia," I quickly pointed out. "And Volacchia does allow slavery, which is why Lady Crusch suggested a possible foreign support to Count Argyle."

    "Your theory stretches quite a lot, John," Reinhard commented, landing a cautious note around dropping formality but I nodded at him, and then continued. "But it does bring up some important details that were previously ignored; If Count Argyle is indeed dabbling in necromancy, then we should be wary of approaching the area and we should warn Captian Bardok of-"

    "Reinhard, if I may intercede you, I think there is something missing from this supposition," Julius piped in politely, looking once more at me. "I still find it a long jump to consider that the Head of the Argyle family could be making use of such horrible kind of spellcraft. But I reckon from your stare, Mayor Bukharin, that you are ready to provide some more evidence."

    "Please, do refer me as 'John'," I started quietly, drawing a surprised look out of him. "It's more of a safety measure, if something bad happens everyone needs to be able to address each other without having 'mouthful names' to sprout at any issues."

    He blinked, still confused by this development but... giving a slow nod back. "Then I suppose I could ask the same from you, of course only for times of need," Julius concluded and I nodded with a small smile.

    "Good and," I hummed quietly. "I guess I can give a strong detail that prove my standpoint a little more, beginning from what 'could make' necromancy a good probability."

    I turned at Felix, the cat-eared boy staring back. "Ferris, did you ever have the chance of listening anything about your family's secret arts?"

    The sudden question was met with surprise and confusion, the young man blinking at the query before shaking his head.

    "Before I explain what kind of 'secret arts' I'm referring to, I've to bring up a fact that only Fourier knows about."

    The blond tensed a little and I nodded to him.

    "I've a secret spy network that used to work for the Royal Family," I revealed placidly, ignoring the surprised stares from the rest of the room. "And I've some material over some nobles' secrets. One of these is quite the infamous burden of the Argyle Family."

    "Which is necromancy," Reinhard guessed correctly, getting a quick nod from me.

    "Before I name this spell, I wish to know how 'safe' this room is. I don't want to have any leaks of the info that I know much of the entire Lugnican Nobility's secrets."

    The diplomat blinked and, after spending some moments thinking about it, ended up giving a nod. "The room has a powerful soundproof spells to keep discussions of this kind hidden from everyone."

    I nodded. "Then I can go ahead and say that the name of the spell is 'The Immortal King's Sacrament', which technically is just a large fragment of a working spell that was used in the past to bring people back to life."

    "A fragment?" Felix quipped him. "You mean that it doesn't work well or-"

    "It does a partial resurrection, the soul is manifested but quickly rotten if the caster has a limited understanding of the magic behind it," I turned at the demihuman. "Which is why your father 'needs' you as a new hostage."

    His cat ears tensed at that comment, twitching uneasy at the situation as I concluded with one last note.

    "Considering the possible presence of some important Volacchian figures, I suggest that Fourier is guarded for the entire duration of the mission," I pointed out without hesitation, drawing a pout from the prince. "If he is spotted during the raid, he will be considered a prime target to capture and that is not acceptable."

    I saw several nods and Julius stepped forward. "I will take care of His Majesty," The knight said and before anyone could say anything about it, I felt a pair of arms wrap around my neck while a certain face started to nuzzle my cheek.

    "And I will be meowre than happy to take care of you, Johnyah~." Felix explained much to my confusion, shock and inner facepalming.

    Goddammit Felix!


    A few hours later, Argyle Mansion...

    Just as the novel had commented over the state of the grounds before the building, I couldn't help but compare the scene as a full-fledged battlefield.

    Part of the field outside the gates has been scorched, corpses made by undead foes and soldiers were now littering some of the sides as Bardok's unit had suffered some non-negligible losses against the ambush of the zombies even with preparations having been made.

    Some of the still-living fiends were lurking around the courtyard and the duo formed by Reinhard and Julius was quick to end the first line of resistance made by the undeads.

    Fourier was, just as I had expected him to do, keeping up with Julius much to the purple-haired knight's dismay as 'he could not stand behind and do nothing for this situations'.

    I was glad that Ferris was actually smart enough to not engage in direct confrontations until the foes got to close and I would give help when it was needed.

    The place was the least infested by the zombies now festering those lands, the quantity of zombies being far beyond the mere dozens as it easily looked to be hundreds, between two and three to be exact, and the odds were quite grim for the current guards dispatched on the area.

    A rally of sort had been summoned and some of the nearby houses were already mustering enough troops to combine and strike at the undead horde, while we were left to deal with the epicenter of this sudden dangerous force.

    I glanced at the derelict building, seeing some monsters already coming to wander from some of the secondary entrances, further increasing the number of zombies.

    "We have to hold," I muttered curtly, gaining some nods as I was perfectly aware of the unfair situation, but I knew perfectly how to deal with this all at once. "Or we can try something quite mad."

    "How mad are we talking about?" Ferris mused quietly, gaining a snort from Fourier.

    "Probably something as dumb as going inside the mansion but... that would just be too silly and-" The prince stopped in that very moment as he noticed my surprised look. "You two are not entering that place."

    I huffed. "It wouldn't be that bad-"

    "Considering that Count Argyle wants only Felix, he could order for your death-"

    "If he had some guard to order around," I interjected at Reinhard's comment of genuine worry, my eyes glancing at Fourier. "I know it's a bad idea at first glance-"

    "It's a bad idea. Period," The blond snapped without leaving me space to continue. "Don't make me order me to stand down, John."

    "To be fair, Your Highness," Ferris butted in. "I think I can protect him and vouch for him if we were to 'concede' to his demands."

    Then the brunet glanced at me with a tiny smirk. "You want to infiltrate the place and... destroy the cause of the spell, right?"

    I slowly nodded, actually surprised that he would-

    "S-Still, I can't have two of my friends go inside that horrible place and-"

    "Now you are stopping me to save my friend, Your Majesty?" Felix interrupted with a serious look. "You know that I have to help Lady Crusch."

    The blond blinked, stopping in his rant at hearing this sentence and... groaning.

    "I-I will accept it only if you promise me to come back all fine and without any injuries," His scarlet eyes narrowed at me, causing me to flinch briefly. "If I catch any little cut on both of you I will-"

    "We understand," I said ultimately, my tone grasping to some impatience. "And I think we both appreciate the worry... but-"

    He looked surprised when I pulled him in a quick hug. "Good luck with the situation here, I think I can say that I will punish you if you get too boldy with the monsters here."

    The young man blinked twice and... cracked a defeated smile. "How is it possible that you can manage this with me and I can't do it with you?"

    "You mean coaxing to not do something?" He nodded and I smiled widely. "Why, I guess being the oldest between the two of us I've more wisdom-"

    "Says the 'wise one' going inside the evil building," He sassily interrupted, causing me to huff.

    "Well, see you soon then." I waved as Felix and I wandered inside the mansion, avoiding the first floor and rushing at the staircase as many of the undeads here were still unable to discern any enemies, having been spawned possibly quite recently.

    Once we reached the upper floor, we were greeted by a surprised individual.

    The middle-aged woman looked partly-surprised at our presence, then her weary eyes focused entirely on my bodyguard and she started to relax.

    "Welcome home, Master Felix," She greeted with a somewhat warm tone, my heart clenching in silent discomfort as the demihuman scowled slightly at her.

    How tragic it is for a mother to be treated like this by her blissfully-unaware son?

    "Spare us the small talk. Where's Lady Crusch?"

    It was just like in the novel, my presence seemingly adding nothing to the scene but I was glad when the maid merely ignored my presence while interacting with Ferris with the 'weird' familiarity the brunet couldn't make any sense of.

    "-The master is waiting. If you'll follow me..."

    The next few moments were spent becoming a silent witness for the following 'two pages' to unfold, the ominous walk through the hallway filled with seemingly-harmless undeads that just left me with even more disgust towards the man that was Biehn Argyle.

    The situation remained unchanged until we reached the door that led to the study of the horrible bastard, the moment we entered inside noticing the lack of surprise at my presence here in that very instance.

    He was smiling, I was looking at some devious fool smiling at the predicament as if nothing mattered.

    He was empty, his eyes almost glassy and dead-like as he greeted us.

    "You made it back, Felix," His smile widening. "And I see you have brought with you someone quite interesting."

    He stood up from his chair and walked around the desk, his smile never fading and my scowl never once regressing.

    "John Bukharin, the Mayor of Erindor, the one that not only out-smarted Prince Ivan but also made it alive after that encounter," He described mirthfully, gaining a frown out of me.

    "Biehn Argyle, Head of the Argyle Family, true cause of this sudden case of necromancy and... unfaithful husband."

    I admit I had gone heavy with my premises, but the horrified look did made a pretty sight before the red-purplish rage spread all over his face.

    "What?" Ferris asked softly, eyes going wide open while the maid still there seemed to have seen a ghost at how pale and tense she looked like.

    I blinked, frowning again as I realized that the man couldn't technically use spells this close and...

    So anyway, I started punching and things escalated even more. Some people screamed, some people watched in stunned silence... and there was the preserved corpse of a woman lying there without much to do in that very moment. What a odd day for sure.


    Afterthoughts: I kind of experienced that moment in Chaotic Neutrality that urges people to quote the legend himself, Danny Devito.

    So anyway, I started writing away and-
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2020
  3. Threadmarks: Chapter 17

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

    Mar 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    28 June 422

    A single but loud thud cemented the aftermath of an incredibly satisfying beating, of which I was glad to have initiated, conduced and then concluded.

    Biehn Argyle was unconscious by the time I was done, he was now sitting by the ground with his back slumping on the side of his desk while his head, now starting to sport some bruises, was slightly turned in a display of forced relax.

    I was a little bit winded by the quick intervention, my brain trying to recollect proper thoughts as I was brought back to the reality of things and... I still had so much to do in this little possibility offered by the 'Classic Villain' moment.

    Seriously, the man could have easily planned some contingency instead of trying his way for some partly-insane monologue, but no, he had to play the 'superiority' card and get pummelled by an 'unexpected element'.

    And I had all reasons to give him some 'kind words' about messing with natural laws because he was dumb enough to kill his wife in a bout of rage.

    Like, what should have I done? Let him recover and restrain me so that I could have become another hostage to force Ferris to resurrect 'his mother'?

    My hands were still shaking, knuckles sore and starting to redden up as the ugly mug of this corrupt noble wasn't certainly a soft thing to punch so vehemently, but I still walked around the desk and started to rummage in the various drawers on it.

    Humming quietly, I continued to search for a certain scroll, some old paper that might or might not be glowing eerily and murderously within the furniture and dignify its horrible usage.

    The Immortal King's Sacrament was something that worked pretty much like the Edo Tensei from Naruto, but instead of sacrificing people... to bring dead people back to live, the cost for such a terrible spell was the quality of the energy used in the incantation itself.

    The House of Argyle is known for its high Water-Affinity, a special rarity that had long started to decay after decades of proper training and study, enough to bring this situation to happen... so badly.

    Biehn was correct in seeking Ferris for his prodigious grasp of the affinity, something far better than the man could ever achieve in little time and with so many limitations imposed by his aristocratic life, as the young Knight did have a 'little' chance of actually make things work as per the fragmented incantation.

    Why so little? Why not at its fullest since Felix currently had the highest Water-Affinity in the whole kingdom?

    Well, the issue lingered within a small detail that Biehn had blatantly ignored about the paper he had safely kept around and away from dangerous individuals.

    The Sacrament was not complete.

    Years of being either forgotten or misused saw the integrity of the spell mostly lost for a reason or another, leaving just a meek replacement that couldn't be really used for anything but create zombies out of dead corpses.

    No matter the user of the magical concept, the result would still be the same, if not worse considering what happened in Canon when Felix used it on his mother's corpse.

    Just as I found a certain tied-up scroll put at the end of the lowest drawer on the left, I tensed up at the noise of a pair of hands slamming on the desk and I was soon backed away from the furniture in a moment of quick panic.

    My wide eyes looked up to the responsible of this little 'prank', my mind swift in reminding me that Biehn had been far too much beaten to have recovered so quickly and... I stared up at a pair of furious yellow eyes fixed on my own face.

    "Johnyah, what do you mean with 'unfaithful'!?" Felix demanded with a loud voice, his face contorted in a mix of anger, confusion and... a certain degree of panic.

    I blinked at this unexpected development, suddenly realizing that the cat-eared young man did ask me something after I was done with beating his abusive father, his voice quite quiet at first before it escalated to this crescendo of confused anger over the matter.

    I did drop some 'truth bomb' that were half-proclaimed and left much unsaid, I could have been a little more subtle if not a little more 'expressive' of the matter but... considering the current state of the old maid now staring in shock at me, I could say that I did avoid her getting a higher chance of having a heart-attack.

    I slowly got up from the ground, dusting myself as I continued to grasp at the closed paper.

    "What do you know of your parents' situation before you were born Felix?" I asked calmly and softly, slowly approaching the slightly-furious demi-human, Felix was now looking more confused now than irritated which prompted me to continue. "Did Lady Karsten ever tell you about the issue they had over their early insuccess of producing an heir?"

    His eyes widened a little. "S-She did but- but that couldn't seriously mean that he could have-"

    Before he could finish, I turned to the woman.

    "Ms. Regret, can you please approach the desk and take a seat?" I requested kindly, trying my best to not have her jump at my words. "I think it's the best Felix knows a little more about the real reason behind the hate from both Count and Countess Argyle."

    The maid blinked, her posture easing just a little and then... she spoke.

    "He doesn't need to know this, milord," She said with a pleading tone, something that got me actually pausing as... she did remind me of my own mother. The almost-begging... was quite dreadful to endure without showing any flinch. "Please."

    I sighed, tiredly so as I glanced at the confused look coming from Felix. "Ferris, please tie Count Argyle. We don't need him jumping us for... this much-needed talk."

    His cat-ears twitched suspiciously at the request, but he slowly started to comply while the woman took a step forward. "M-Milord-"

    "Hannah," I briefly interrupted with a certain uneasiness, bringing her to drop her renewed plea by bringing her name up. She tensed up again, but this time it was mere surprise than anything that would induce unrequited shock. "While I understand the nature of your request and the reasons driving you to keep this away from him, I hope you can forgive me for denying you this much. He needs to know as it's his right... as your son."

    The demi-human had just finished tying up the unconscious noble when he caught this last bit of my reply, tensing up as he looked back at the maid.

    The tired woman glanced back, a nervous look on her face as she slowly nodded and walked to take a seat by the chair I gestured her.

    Felix's surprise got him pausing for more than a few seconds, but he too got seated by the remaining chair.

    "Do you wish to be the one to tell me or... I can try to give a summarized version," I tried to ease up her concerns, hoping to not have to deal with any unexpected escalations in this talk.

    Meanwhile, the scroll with the spell had been set on the desk, a little rune circle appearing as I commenced a little incantation to purge the content paper safely and without causing any fire to erupt in the mansion.

    It was the slowest but safest route to take right now as I dealt with... family drama.

    Hannah sighed and nodded before... starting to explain the entirety of the situation.

    "Lord Argyle was desperate to gain a heir, someone to pass on his titles before Lord Karsten could have decided to remove him the control of these lands for lacking a successor to pass those on," The maid narrated with a tense voice. "Lady Argyle was born a frail lady and didn't offer the opportunity to pursue a... proper attempt to secure a child."

    I blinked, keeping silent as the woman continued with her story and I would rarely pause from my staring to take a look at Felix and his reaction to the tale.

    He still looked confused, but some realization was starting to appear on his feminine face.

    I wonder if he had already noticed or not that he looked quite similar to his mother.

    "Time was of major importance for Lord Argyle andwith his wife proving to be incapable of providing him of a heir, he decided to interest himself on taking on a... mistress," Her tone started to feel twitching, close to draw a sob but... still managing to keep herself from stopping with her story. "Many were selected but... I was picked for my unique affinity with the Water element and in the end I was his mistress for twelve months."

    There was some silence, Hannah brought her right sleeve up to her face as she rubbed it by her eyes.

    "Why," Felix softly commented, his voice feeling quite... floored by what he had just listened to. "Why didn't you help me- even once-"

    "My lord had strictly forbidden for me to even approach you for too long," The maid replied with a uneasy sigh. "He would give the most horrible of threats, promising my own demise and... yours, if I didn't abide by his demands."

    The cat-eared knight slowly nodded at her words, some tears already forming by the edges of his eyes. "B-But why- why wouldn't he tell me?" This time he glanced at me. "W-Why?"

    I looked down at the desk just for a moment and then... I decided to intervene.

    "While having a demi-human wasn't truly a stain to begin with, having an illegitimate child with another woman is considered as one of the most heinous child for nobility," I answered him with a heavy heart. "If words got out, somehow, that you were not the son of both the Count and his wife, your 'father' would have lost much more than just his lands."

    "This is- this is so unfair!" The dams broke as his hands slammed again on the desk. "Why did he have to ruin my life- why this much!?" He demanded with a sob or two, his temporary ire retracted into a quiet moment of crying and... much to my surprise the maid moved carefully to approach him.

    He did notice her actions, but he let her come closer and... engulf him in a quiet embrace.

    "I'm so sorry." A sob erupted from the woman as the two basked in the quiet scene allowed by the little office.

    I decided to not disturb them, my eyes moving away from the mother-son scene to look at the scroll, now a little speck remaining as it was decimated by the light-blue flame originated by the circle that carefully destroyed it.

    I blinked by the time the circle disappeared and decided to glance by the window behind the desk, only to see numerous corpses collapsing at once now that the spell was dissolved.

    I sighed happily at the development, now preparing to deal with quite the interesting aftermath as this double problem was solved and I could finally meet Crusch Karst-

    Just as I turned back towards the two, the door slammed open as a certain blond-haired moron popped in with something in his hands. "Biehn Argyle, you tried to kidnap my friends and- TAKE THIS!"

    There are many things that I wasn't expecting from this world and its inhabitants, one of those was Fourier yanking a shoe right below my belt with the mistaken idea that I was the big bad guy.

    Now imagine this little scene, with my entire frame collapsing in utter agonizing in pain while the same 'certain blond-haired prince' noticed the epic miscalculation once he caught sight of the still-unconscious Count Argyle away from the 'target' and that 'I' was missing from the scene.

    The numerous 'sorry' didn't manage to have him survive the chance of being given a 'kind and honest' talk about NOT breaching-and-clearing without a clear idea of what was happening in the room that needed the breaching.


    With Reinhard and Julius deciding to stand by the outside section of the carriage while also keeping an eye to the better-tied-down Count Argyle, the quiet time made by the peaceful return to the capital was mostly dominated by a simple topic, or rather green-haired individual, to which I was given the chance to make an acquaintance with.

    Crusch Karsten was much more different that I had initially thought her to be.

    Despite being two years younger than her canon self and having to not deal with Fourier's unexpected passing, the Valkyrie proved to be quite the complex individual to face and talk to during this initial contact.

    It wasn't that I found her presence negative in any way, shape or form, but I couldn't help but feel quite unsure how to deal with someone with her slightly-different personality compared to what I was more 'accustomed to'.

    Not only was she a polite individual with an undeniable degree of intelligence, far more than the show would dignify to her, but she was incredibly less serious and collected than how she had looked back during the Capital Arc of the show.

    There was none of the overly-pragmatic thinking that made her a difficult character for Subaru to befriend and seek help from, her 'Lion King' disposition far more diluted without our mutual friend's dying because of some curse and that made her... quite an enigmatic individual to understand and properly talk to.

    It didn't help that she instantly started to inquire about what had happened back in that office, about the development with Felix and... me.

    The first two topics were fairly easy to deal with as I bluntly but politely described those moments with the help of the cat-eared boy and his mother.

    The woman had joined with us inside the carriage, but her next disposition after her 'dimissions' proved to be quite difficult to settle with, especially with the various variables to take into account.

    The Royal Castle would have never accepted a now-criminal's former servant and the Karsten mansion was already filled with people working for the family so... the last proposal was actually one that was born out of the sudden issue at hand.

    Since I had been struggling to find someone to properly take care of Fritz and Hans back home, I thought back at the irony that it would be to hire the woman as the caretaker of the two demihumans and... it had clicked perfectly in a more realistic point of view.

    Not only was she experienced with taking care for a noble's mansion, but she would also find some little chance of redemption in the form of taking care of the two children.

    I had explained the situation to both her and her son, Felix surprisingly unsure about the matter as he had just found his 'remaining parent' and he was quite unwilling to part with her, even though it was for her own good.

    Hannah gave it a serious thought, asking more about the limits, the rights and the duties that the job would entail and, much to my inner relief, she accepted with a polite smile.

    With what had happened inside that office fully narrated to the rest of the group, Crusch decided to move the focus of the discussion to something that had sparked her curiosity, a detail I had completely forgotten to have given to Fourier weeks ago.

    A curiously-interesting conversation ensued...

    "So you are not part of the nobility from where you are from, Mayor Bukharin?" The young woman asked with some surprise dripping from her words, just enough to cause me to blink at her.

    "That's correct, Lady Karsten," I replied, thinking that it was just a little declination without much of a deepening planned.

    I was immensely wrong.

    "Yet you are well-educated," Crusch pointed out, careful to not overstep with her own curiosity. "Your capacity as a Mayor having been displayed well in handling Erindor in the last few weeks."

    I hummed. "I guess you are implicating a little question here, Lady Karsten," I said with a mindful tone. "I suppose you are referring to the fact I gained some education despite my upbringing."

    Her eyes showed some minor uneasiness. "I don't wish to sound too offensive about-"

    "There is no need to apologize," I interjected quietly, a little smile on my face. "And to answer your question, I can only say that the society in which I was born in allowed everyone to take on educational paths."

    "But wouldn't education warrant some considerable funds?" Felix piped in with a curious look on his face.

    "Not truly," I commented patiently, slowly coming to realize once more that this world had yet to experience any of the education-related reforms and that there was no such thing as proper 'social mobility'. "The situation is fairly complicated since there are two different kind of schools."

    "Two different... kind?" Crusch asked slowly, blinking at the little details offered. "Could you please elaborate?"

    "Well, there are 'Public Schools', which are sanctioned by the government, and 'Private Schools' that are sanctioned by the parents of the children sent to study there."

    "But why?" Fourier asked confusedly and confused.

    Still, I managed to understand the issue behind understanding this concept and I continued to talk.

    "With the expansion of society, with its evolution, new kind of jobs are born to compensate with the new developments," I replied to him with a small smile. "Those new jobs can't be taught by parents to their children, the intricacies being even new to the parents themselves. Thus-"

    "Schools are created to... allow the learning of those new kind of works," The lady interjected with a surprised glint in her amber eyes. "But wouldn't this kind of change warrant some... reaction from the nobility?"

    "It did... or at least, in a minor scale," I answered with a nod, slightly taken off-guard by this conversation. Seriously, it's been so long since I've held an educated discussion with someone since I was taken in this world and... it was incredibly refreshing. "The nobility was challenged by the growing class formed by self-made men and women that held a certain high standing in society, individuals that had gained some major status to the public with their hard-work and merits. Their fresh perception, along with the full embrace of the new technologies led to a silent victory from the emerging class."

    "By your description, I can only think of... the merchants as the only emerging class capable of withstanding such a conflict," The green-haired young woman pointed out with a frown. "But their current standing is not enough to keep up with the entire nobility."

    "That's because the merchants were part of emerging group," I added to the situation. "But I think I will have to give a little example to explain it properly."

    I turned my attention to the blond prince, the red-eyed young man staring back at me.

    "Imagine that Fourier's birthday is coming soon and you wish to commission for him something that he has shown inclination to like," I started to explain with a slow pace. "Let's say that the object is one made with wood and so you have to summon an artisan to accomplish this task."

    She nodded, following the explanation silently and raptly.

    "Now imagine if said object is easily available because it's made en-masse by numerous workers assigned to the task and the price set for it is cheaper than having it made by an artisan. Let's also say that the quality is similar if not the same," I continued while picking up the pace a little. "You would pick the mass-produced one, not because it's cheap, but because it sounds a fairer price compared to the overly-expensive and seemingly-suspicious price offered by the artisan."

    Crusch took a moment to think about it, but nodded. "The leading figure for this class is the one that owns hegemony over this fresh method of production."

    "Yes but-" I stopped, eyes going wide open at that sudden answer. "T-That is correct. How did you-"

    "It's not difficult," She politely interrupted. "Considering the endless possibilities of expanding this kind of operations with the proper usage of the new wealth gained, the system would easily see the 'leader' of this well-balanced organization able to dominate upon the current market."


    Holy Jesus Christ, I don't know what to say after this one.

    Like- what the heck?!

    I knew Crusch was smart but... this was a completely new level.


    Felix giggled. "Lady Karsten is incredibly intelligent. So much that she got Johnyah gawking like a fish~!"

    Fourier snorted at this and I realized the need of closing my mouth because... holy Jesus, that absurdly-clever comment hit me out of nowhere.

    "Ferris, you shouldn't be saying such things to Mayor Bukharin and-" Crusch stopped in her half-chiding for a moment, only to sigh before she turned back to look at me with an apologetic expression. "I wish to apologize for his behavior he-"

    "I know, there is no need for that and I find it refreshing." I interrupted with a small smile. "Still, he is correct. Your assumption was not only correct, but impressively accurate considering the little information I had provided."

    A little smirk appeared on her face and... her cheeks took some more color. "Those are flattering words but-"

    "Those are truthful words," I commented back with a wider smile. "Lady Karsten, please... just take this compliment as it's factual."

    She slowly nodded. "I guess I will humbly accept your kind words... but if it's possible, there is another thing I wish to inquire about."

    I blinked. "Sure, do ask," I conceded quite eagerly, now curious about what kind of thoughts she had planned to invest verbally.

    "During the example, you have referred to His Highness by his name and... may I inquire if it's a conceded right or something I might be missing?"


    No. I don't want to- She couldn't just be suggesting that so suddenly. Not her- Really, I hope this is just my tired mind messing with me.


    Oh my God.

    "Fourier is a friend of mine and thus we refer to each other by name rather by our titles, only in private of course," I replied carefully, my brain trying its best to not have me facepalm at the little suggestion forwarded by the intelligent woman.

    "I understand," She nodded calmly, seemingly unfazed by the little mistaken thought over the matter... but I was sure not going to forget this little 'slight'. Actually, I had already something planned for her.

    I hid my little smug glee at this simple plan as I nodded right at Fourier. "By the way, why don't you extend this courtesy to Lady Karsten?"

    The blond's smile froze as he looked at me intensively and with an awkward look. "I- What?"

    Crusch frowned. "There is no need. I think if His Highness wants to-"

    "I would like to extend that courtesy myself to you, Lady Karsten," I interjected quickly, my smile twitching. "I wouldn't mind if you called me by my first name and I would like to ask if it would be... acceptable if I referred you by your first name."

    She looked surprised at this escalation, clearly not expecting this much to happen and, since I had been careful to not appear forceful, she merely sighed and nodded.

    "If only for informal settings, I guess that would work sufficiently... John."

    "Of course, Crusch," I replied with a kind tone, trying my best to keep my cover as I glanced briefly at the prince, Fourier looking slightly confused by this development and then... I winked at him.

    The gate is open! Launch the attack!

    The message seemed to pass through as the blond cleared his throat and gave a quick smile as we turned to look at him. "Actually, I wouldn't mind to extend this kind of courtesy to you too, Lady Crusch. Why I think we've known each other for long enough that I should have asked even earlier!" He exclaimed with a cheerful tone, catching off-guard even more the slightly-confused green-haired young woman.

    Still, she nodded and she forwarded a smile with it. "I'm honored of such praise... Fourier."

    The effect was instantaneous, the blond's face exploded in red at being addressed on such a personal note by the very girl he was attracted too.

    Felix noticed this too and snickered softly, turning his attention once more back to his mother, Hannah looking at this whole scene with curiosity, surprise and quite the amusement.

    It would seem the apt words were 'like mother like son' for this peculiar situation.

    The rest of the trip proved to be surprisingly calm and uneventful much to my inner surprise, partly expecting some ambush along the way to ruin the victory gained today.

    Fate wasn't screwing with us and...

    Boy, why did I thought that things would go smoother with Fourier surviving this ordeal. This world... just can't accept changes, doesn't it?!


    Afterthoughts: Lots of talking, lots of drama, comfort and (mis)understandings. Now that the 'worst' is over, we can pass to the next phase... which is the actual worst.

    Also next chapter will have an Omake... and the one after that another!
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  4. Threadmarks: Chapter 18

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

    Mar 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    29 June 422

    It was early in the morning when I found myself rushing through my usual routine, my mind burning a little at the multitude of thoughts born from what I've just heard from the guard stationed outside my temporary room.

    Yes, once we were back to the capital, we were all provided some rooms to make use as guests of the Royal Family with Crusch being taken for a quick checkup by the castle's hospital ward.

    The green-haired woman looked irritated by the need of this procedure, but she seemed to accept quietly the needed step to formalize her complete and safe return away from the previous night's ordeal.

    Felix joined her as his presence would have guaranteed a faster pace for the checkup while also comforting the seemingly-annoyed young woman.

    Fourier had looked interested of joining the little entourage leading his childhood friend to the Royal Infirmary, but the guards led by Captain Marcus were quick to 'escort' him back to his quarters for some urgent matters and I would only discover of the major reason behind this sudden maneuvering by dinner.

    The incredibly-long table that was used for the banquet was mostly left unused and the presence in there was... quite limited too in terms of important people.

    I was actually allowed to take a seat near the young prince, noticing quite swiftly about his distressed mood and the overall strange lack of warmth from him.

    His red eyes were dulled as they were fixed to look at the plate, merely nodding to address the arrival of the small group formed by Crusch, Ferris, Reinhard, Julius and I.

    It took just some careful probing to get a straight response about the gloom coaxing over his features, the lack of genuine happiness at how things had unfolded at the Argyle Mansion and... the reply proved to be more than enough to get me stopping in my tracks.

    Zabinel Lugnica, Fourier's oldest brother and First Prince of Lugnica, had died because of the illness that had struck the other princes and the King, leaving only Fourier as the healthiest heir of the Royal Family.

    It was never expanded much the 'relationships' unfolding in private with the Lugnica family, only that there were some different branches and that Fourier and his father shared the same naive enthusiasm over the future of this kingdom.

    For just a moment in that very cloudy night, I felt a distinct sense of nervousness at the implication born from this very news.

    With the death of Zabinel and the current sickness killing slowly the rest of the King's children except Fourier, it was clear whom was going to receive the title of Crown Prince and true heir to the Dragon Crown.

    Why was this a big issue? Fourier wasn't someone that worked well under so much pressure. This very detail was born more from spending some time around the blond rather than my recollection of the Ex Volume1.

    The young man wasn't ready to rule a kingdom just yet, especially with what he would have to deal with as the crippling issues within the kingdom were nothing to scoff at.

    Witch Cult, Demibeasts, war-eager Volacchia-

    There was just a roster of means to kill this nation in a few, silly but damning moves and I was sure that this was part of the reason why he had looked this much depressed.

    Ignoring any major events that could have both Fourier and Zabinel clashing with each other, I could see some genuine mourning coming from his quiet demeanor and I decided, just like the others did, to not impose ourselves too much with some conversations.

    The dinner was short-lenghted and soon we were escorted back to our rooms, where I decided to contemplate about the possibilities born from the death of this 'unknown' character.

    The oldest child of the King was dead and the state of things was far from sunshine and rainbows, the current liege was close to die too and it wouldn't be wrong to consider a possible push from the Council of Sages to turn Fourier in a figurehead.

    Of course I wasn't thinking everyone in that group would want such development, McMahon being the stark example that maybe some opposition would be born out from this kind of decisions.

    Yet as my mind drifted away into a dreamless night, I couldn't help but notice a new detail that gave me even more worry about the situation at hand.

    Edna didn't appear for the usual chats, something that was possibly attached to the fact that I was also unable to use the mirror that connected me to Satella.

    Maybe it was the holy energy within the castle itself that prevented to establish any contact with the two 'Witches', but my growing concern was mostly directed at the lack of trustworthy advice about the nervous theories my mind was so giddily creating to annoy the hell out of me.

    After a full twelve hours of rest, I woke up at the noticeable banging at the nearby door.

    "Y-Yes?" I loudly asked from my waking spot, my eyes wide open as I tried to force myself out of my sleepy stance.

    "Mayor Bukharin, I'm a messenger with an urgent summon," The man on the other side replied a little louder than I did, he was well awake and ready to dispense this kind of tones. A guard for sure.

    "A-A summon?" I parroted, biting down a yawn while I adjusted myself to sit by the soft mattress.

    "Aye, Mayor," The unknown man continued with his robust tone. "King Randohal wishes to speak personally with you."

    I was about to blink and ignore to answer at first, then the title and name struck me completely awake and quite panicking.

    "I-I see," I said, realizing just a moment later that my voice had grown soft for this response, urging me to reply once more. "I-I will be ready in a matter of a few minutes."

    "Understood, Mayor."

    Without answering that, I swiftly jumped off the bed, my wide eyes scanning my surroundings as I rushed to get in the small bathroom with my ordinary clothes in my arms, leaving behind the night-wear I had taken with me from Erindor for this situation on the bed.

    I was generally done, cleaned and clothed more or less after twenty minutes spent by the bathroom, but this time I managed to get through with it all in less than fifteen minutes, my face now a little red and my breathing sounding labored at the struggle exerted by my body to conclude my usual morning routine.

    Once I got my night-wear folded by the end of the bed, I walked right by the door and slowly opened it, glancing at both guards and the man standing between them.

    It was Captain Marcus, the Knight Commander that had presided over the security of the inauguration event of the Royal Elections in Canon. The large man looked partly-surprised by my sudden presence, possibly impressed by the swift maneuvering I just did from mere sleeping to being this much active and operational.

    I blinked at him. "Can we go now? I don't wish to keep the King waiting."

    My blunt and curt words seemed to bring the experienced Knight out of his surprise and back to his previous serious expression as he nodded, ordering for the two other knights to led me right where the kind was and... I found myself both confused and perplexed by the 'little' trip we had by the castle.

    At first I thought that the current location of where the ruler was resting was still near to the living quarters, or at least close to the hospital's ward.

    Imagine my surprise when we traversed the entire castle from one side to another, then walking to the tallest of the towers present in the building... right to one of the various places where a sick monarch shouldn't be having his own resting room.

    What if someone managed to get some magical artillery cannon and attack the tower?

    Even though I was pretty sure that some magical enchantment had been provided to make that section of the castle impervious to magical attacks, I was still confused over this bad placement.

    Despite these few moments of confusion, I was still capable of giving a proper formal expression when the heavily-guarded and enchanted doors were slowly opened for me to enter inside the bedroom of the king.

    At first I found myself keeping quiet at the scene that welcomed me, but then I found it difficult to keep myself from flinching at the painful amount of papers and ink littering the floor of the room.

    "-but if we manage to increase the wage-"

    "The Military Budget is already satisfying all the expectations of our generals, my liege. Increasing it wouldn't make the guards stronger."

    "But I was referring to the peasants!" The bedridden ruler shot back with a huff, red eyes displaying some hints of playfulness while his shoulder-length golden hair seemed to waggle like a dog's tail at the heated debate. "If we increase their pay-"

    "We don't pay the peasants, your highness," Miklotov McMahon interjected with a patient sigh. "They gain income from selling their crops, then we take some of their income with taxes."

    The old man hummed quietly as he turned around, glancing at me with a curious expression.

    "And I reckon it's time to introduce yourself, young man," The Sage commented with a calm tone. "You shouldn't skip formality because of some unexpected scene."

    I blinked at the blatant chiding, yet I noticed from the eye-widening coming from the King that even the liege hadn't noticed my presence.

    Still, I fell on one of my knees while looking at the floor. "Mayor John Bukharin, I'm here by your Summoning, your highness."

    There was some silence at my presentation, just enough to get me worrying about having messed up with the procedure and I was almost ready to try again-


    Randohal exploded in a loud laugh, his right hand lifting up to his mouth as to try and subdue the mirthful reaction to my rigid posture, only failing to keep it by his throat while some coughs filtered once or twice in this development.

    "B-Bukharin! You are just like I had heard from my youngest!" The monarch exclaimed once he was capable to speak. "Fourier did say that you were quite the formal and loyal individual, but I've also heard about your mischievous side! I wonder when you are going to show this-"

    "Your highness, some decorum towards your guest," McMahon scolded softly, shaking his head. "Can't you see that he is already panicking at your outburst?"

    The king frowned at this comment but... I was indeed having a minor panic attack.

    While I had read about the easygoing and extroverted nature of the sick man, similar if not worse than Fourier himself, I would be lying in saying that I hadn't been caught off-guard by that wave of warmth and familiarity.

    I was stuck speechless, the gold-haired ruler ultimately sighing at the lecture. "I guess I came in too strong on this young man and... I guess I should be a little more considerate of his unfamiliarity with the court," He glanced back at me with a genuine smile. "Please stand up, Mayor Bukharin."

    I slowly complied, my brain still rebooting from that unexpected escalation, and I was once again standing up before the bed occupied by the king.

    "While you might be curious over your summon here today, Mr. Bukharin, I'm saddened to say that the prime reason can't be discussed right now. At least not until the proper time has come," The sage proclaimed with a cautious tone, eyeing the dying ruler with a stern look to keep him from talking. "The only thing that I can say for sure is that his Majesty wishes to test your logical reasoning with five precise questions."

    The blond nodded. "A simple questioning with no major impacts, nor means to fail," Randohal continued, looking fairly calm over the predicament. "I just wish to see if what Fourier had said about your capacities were correct or not."

    I was once again drew to a confused state of mind, but I still managed to give a solid nod as the monarch's smile widened.

    "Good, then we can begin."

    The elder sighed and nodded himself. "Then I shall start with the first question," He mentioned as he took a moment to ready his throat. "Which is best for a king? To be Cruel or to be Merciful?"

    I blinked at the sudden query, finding myself tensing at the oddly specific inquiry that... I couldn't genuinely connect to my presence.

    "It's easier to be a Cruel King as Cruelty shatters the chances of opposition," I started my reply with a careful tone, minding the fact that a misstep could actually screw me up even with the reassurances advanced by both sage and king. "But it's probably the best when the King can manage the difficult ordeal of being both merciful and cruel when the right times call from one or another."

    "The easy road is never the rightest, but the right road is mostly a difficult one," McMahon added with a polite smile, his eyes widening in interest at my answer. "Truly an interesting response."

    The king merely nodded and then he spoke himself. "What about the need of bringing improvement to the people? Do you think that a King should be generous with his own subjects?"

    "A-A king could consider offer a partial generosity to their subjects," I stuttered early on, surprised by the sudden continuation of the little interrogation. "Money is not unlimited and giving out too much would only urge the people to ask more and more, until the ruler is deemed too careless and giver of false hopes to his own subjects."

    "Balance is the key of success," Randohal continued with a small smile. "Kind is a good thing, but being too kind can be easily be taken as being foolish and dumb."

    There was a brief pause, a long moment of silence that was then interrupted by the elder.

    "What is the difference between a nobleman and a simple peasant?"

    I blinked again, this time feeling close to a real ambush considering to whom I was going to answer and the man beside him.

    I took a nervous gulp and then nodded. "Their early standing in society," I confirmed cautiously. "They might begin from different upbringings, but they still have to deal with the obstacles along the path of success, lest they all fall to failure and dismissal. A peasant can join the military, it would take a war to bring him to a high rank but the situation is possible and thus worth of exploration. A noble can be gifted with money and proper education, but the wrong understanding of affairs can led his life to spiral down to ruin."

    "Personal skills have a major role in the making of great people," McMahon agreed with some emotion in his voice, something I couldn't truly perceive there in that precise instance. "But would it be right to allow social mobility to be something... natural?"

    "Not immediately," I replied quickly. "Society is slow-paced, changes should be gradual and well-ingrained to help those interested by this reforms... while also guaranteeing the safety of those that might feel 'hurt' by such changes."

    Both men nodded at my swift response, another moment of silence ensuing as I felt like tension was rising up from within my chest.

    Until now the questions had been about being a monarch and all of that, something that wasn't meant for someone like me, a 'foreigner' and a commoner to be subjected to.

    The final query, hopefully, would bring me some light over the matter and...

    I was right.

    Randohal coughed a little, his hands moving by the little furniture beside the bed... right where his crown was, sitting on a plump, red pillow.

    "And now for the final question," He said while he gestured me to come closer, something that got me standing still at first before I finally decided to slowly approach the bedside. "I will be honest with you, the reason behind your presence here is... to see if you would make a better king than Fourier."




    "I would be lying if I said that I wish for my remaining son to be burdened by the horrible issues troubling the realm, the world is far too hostile for my heart to allow the only child I've left to be forced to pick a side so suddenly, to become... sad like I was at his age when I was forced to rule after my father's unfortunate passing," He said while looking at the crown, then his red-eyed stare directed at me. "While Fourier's words would give me little advice upon this decision, Miklotov has spoken highly of your current administration and... he praised your energy and desire to bring prosperity to a place that isn't your birthplace."

    "Your Majesty-"

    "While I can understand the problems rising from being put in this elevated position of power, the issues created by the other branches of the family and-"

    "I can't-"

    "You will be given full support with my last wills. The legacy of a ruler matters more than the bickering of some nobles. Your capacities will fit best to take the lead and-"

    There was no stopping in that steamrolling coming from the king, my irritation growing the more I got interrupted in my interventions and... I just knew what to say to him.

    "[I refuse.]"

    I channeled by inner Rohan Kishibe in those two words, surprisingly enough the lack of a loud voice managing to still get the golden-haired liege to stop in his tirade, a surprised look on his face.

    "What? But... Why?!"

    "The crown will be rightfully inherited by Fourier. He will become King," I explained calmly. "It's his truest right."

    "But you would prefer to let go of such opportunity, even though you would make a better-"


    Miklotov looked confused at my interruption, but I still continued to speak. "My abilities would be hindered by a situation beyond the capacities I might have displayed in this inquiry, not only from internal issues but also by the external threats lurking over the border."


    "Is not the main issue, I know, but Volacchia would still try to impose a monarch of their liking on the throne at the first glimpse of instability."

    There was a pause, a very long one and... then Randohal started to laugh.

    Louder than before.

    "Pfft-hahahahahaha! Y-You truly are a good friend to my son, a-aren't you?" The man asked/proclaimed quite suddenly, seemingly growing even more entertained as I started to look at him with a surprised look. "Y-you are a good person, someone that is loyal to Fourier to the very end."

    He sighed. "I guess I should have expected this but... still, it's good that you have passed the test."



    "It would be insane if I decided to offer the crown to someone that isn't blood-related to the Lugnica family, or even a noble-born. The riots would be immense and... still, I'm glad that my hunch was correct," The gold-haired joker turned at the tired-looking elder. "It seems like you're getting old and quick to make mistakes, Miklotov. You got what you deserved from trying to outsmart me!"

    I frowned, confused over the need of wacking the cackling ill man while he continued to flaunt 'his' victory over the matter.

    "Once again, I'm glad that this ended up so positively and..." He paused, blinking while tilting his head to the side while looking at me. "By the way, why don't you go and help Fourier? While I've... had enough experience to stomach losing someone like Zabinel, my youngest did take this news the worst. Please, assist him."

    He gestured as if to 'shoo' me and I frowned as I took a few steps back. I gave a quick bow before slowly turning around and retreating away from the room, my mind having to reboot twice now... and it was just morning.

    Still, as the door started to close, I could have sworn to have heard some more mutterings coming from inside, the content quiet and undecipherable but...

    Why I felt like I missed something from that very test?


    You thought it was the end of the chapter, but it was I, the Omake!

    Omake 3: The Hug Affair

    Crusch was unsure of how to deal with what she was looking at, a sight that was certainly rare as disheartening to be dealing with.

    Sitting in one of the small chairs available within the prince's room, her attention was carefully divided between the spent-looking expression within Fourier's face and the concern dripping from Felix's uneasy smile over the quiet state of things.

    Morning was close to come to an end and, despite the efforts displayed by the cat-eared night, nothing seemed to dent the incredibly stubborn front displayed by the blond.

    It was an odd sight, an unnatural one considering the usually cheerful attitude the young man was keen to have around everyone, the almost-childish demeanor that was actually endearing of his growing personality and... she would be lying in saying that such a scene was leaving her quite saddened too despite her minimal efforts to solve this matter.

    It was difficult to be the one initiating this 'close' interaction with Fourier, it was generally the prince that would start any conversation, from formal to friendly and private, and the sudden need to be the one to begin the discussion was... quite difficult to properly contemplate.

    Many outcomes, most of those seeing her failing or even worsening the gloomy mood displayed by the young man and, much to her growing chagrin, she was starting to feel impotent over the matter.

    If it had been something formal, it would have been easier to formulate as the conception of some proper sentences was quite straight-forward and quick to come to her mind but...

    What was she was supposed to do about this? Should she try to emphasize his pain to the departure of her own mother?

    No, Helena Karsten had perished during Crusch's birth and it wouldn't fit with the same amount of attachment and memories behind the passing of Zabinel Lugnica.

    Should she ask to her father for some advice over the matter?

    No, the man was already worried and, with his mind focused on reaching the castle to greet her and possibly bring her back to her own home, it would be best to avoid any misunderstandings by seeking some solutions from the more experienced noble.

    So what should she do? Wait and hope for a change? It would be wrong. Incredibly so.

    Here Fourier was keeping all the pain inside, looking quite the miser individual while trying his best to keep the distance with everyone.

    It was also... painful that she was included among the people he wanted to have 'little about' during his grief and that was certainly a powerful motivation to try and get him to return back to his normal self.

    But it wasn't an easy task, nor she expected a speedy answer to this aching problem.

    Just as Felix tried to once again approach the tired-looking prince while the blond continued to silently read a particularly thick tome, the door of his room opened without notice, nor knock.

    Crusch's eyes darted to see whom was intruding and she blinked in surprise, relaxing just a little as she recognized the individual as the one and only Mayor of Erindor, John Bukharin.

    The man was just a few years older than them, yet the little difference of age seemed immense before the undeniable knowledge and experience this curious fellow was more than happy to gift to those he deemed friends or confidants.

    He behaved well and her Divine Protection of Wind Indication had spotted no lies in the first few interactions they had.

    It was also odd how those discussions would develop, not because of the topics (albeit most of those were fascinating on their own) but by the way he would treat her in such discussions.

    Having taken most of the duties as the matriarch of the Karsten family, the green-haired woman had seen her own fair share of foolish men and women that were quick to denigrate her intelligence based on her gender as many ladies were mostly known for their 'naivety and romanticisms', with the only exclusions being Ferris, Fourier and... John.

    But while the first two had their own reasons to see her as a smart lady, actions that had been truthful of her capacities over her presence in their lives, the Mayor had displayed no doubt while giving her a thorough explanation of something that she herself had some few troubles to understand with her own knowledge.

    That discussion back in the carriage directed at the castle had been... enlightening but also intriguing.

    Yet, while her minor admiration over this curious individual took some of her mind's attention, most of her focus shifted at the actions the young man was now adopting after having spotted Fourier sitting by his desk.

    Red eyes had momentarily glanced to the entrance of the room, a sigh filtering out of the blond's lips as he tried to give little attention over the newcomer but, much to everyone's surprise, John didn't seem to mind.

    Actually, the man seemed to calmly approach the blissfully-distracted prince, looming over him as he read some of the verses in the book and... then suddenly shut it close.

    The loud noise got Ferris almost jumping in surprise-induced fright, the red-eyed prince staring in shock at the perpetrator of this development, but pausing short from answering.


    John didn't answer, instead his previously blank expression morphed in an amused and mischievous one, a smile perking at some secret idea and... he lunged towards the blond.

    At first Crusch expected a brawl, especially at the first sign of struggling from the prince, but then her panic lessened to nothing as she recognized the close interaction after waiting for just a moment, gauging a reason to truly enter in action.

    Instead of attacking the distraught young man, the Mayor had his arms wrapped around Fourier's neck, pushing his head into his chest while he domineered with what looked to be a forceful hug.

    Her mind was taken back to the hugs she would give to her father, back when she was incredibly young and interested in the warmth born from such interaction and... why would the brunet start such effort to help the sad prince in such an... intimate manner.

    There was still a struggle, yet neither her nor Felix decided to intervene. The cat-eared Demihuman actually giggled at the development, his tail lifting up from its previously low elevation... a sign of entertainment?

    The attempt to break free was all in vain, the visibly stronger man holding without much effort the young man in his hug, the sight turning somehow... comical the moment the prince groaned and conceded defeat, his own arms rising up to wrap around the older male's torso.

    The young Duchess stared at the conclusion of that little 'fight' with a somewhat fascinated look, even more intrigued as Felix approached the duo and, after giving a pleading stare to the tallest of the two, he was allowed to join that lengthy embrace.

    It took her just a moment to realize that she had been standing up for a while now, it took her just a little more to realize that she had gotten a few step closer to watch the scene better.

    Her proximity was noticed by John, the brunet glancing at her with a curious but mirthful look... before he slowly gestured her with his head to come closer.

    She blinked. Wouldn't that be improper? As much as it seemed like an important things for Fourier to have his friends close, wouldn't it be scandalous for a woman to-


    When did her arms move to wrap around Felix's and John's torsos?

    And why was Fourier blushing and smiling at the same time?


    Afterthoughts: Yes Crusch, you are a dense but lovely lady! Also, quick unrelated note, I have an announcement to make:

    Yes, I, BUKHARIN, decided to bestow you mortals with the first and greatest Self Insert Story of Dio-sama... starting from Ep1 of Phantom Blood! Check it out, Absolute Divinity!

    In conclusion, this Omake 'can be considered' Canon as it doesn't defy too much from what I've planned for their personalities. It was a quick one, it had Fourier being the little spoon of a big hum from his childhood friends and MC... all is fine in the western pillow. Going for the nap and slep maneuver!
  5. Threadmarks: Chapter 19

    JBukharin Signer of the Totalist Charter

    Mar 14, 2019
    Likes Received:
    30 June 422

    "Are you sure that this is what Captain Marcus meant with keeping a 'close' watch over me?" I found myself questioning in that incredibly-confusing instance I was subjected to.

    Felix didn't reply as he continued to rest his head on my shoulder, nuzzling a little while purring in quite the loving manner. We were staying by one of the various living rooms within the palace, with me and the cat-eared young man sitting together in one of the long couches while Reinhard was quietly seated on the couch standing right in front of us.

    The Sword Saint had been a surprise to find around after just the kind of day I had to face yesterday, but I certainly didn't voice any of the questions about the sudden need to keep an eye out for me.

    Either I had given some 'wrong answers' to the past day's inquiry from both the King and McMahon or there was some serious worry that someone had infiltrated the palace.

    Considering the company I had, I was partly sure that it had to do much more with the latter than the former possibility.

    The Captain of the Knights wouldn't have never let two 'compromised' subordinates to take action in such an important mission if it was truly something against me.

    "Sir Ferris is quite affectionate towards you, I guess it has to do with what had happened after the events back at the Argyle Mansion," Reinhard commented mirthfully, blue eyes vibrantly enjoying the entertaining scene unfolding before him. "But our presence here is related to some royal orders that sadly we can't disclose."

    I blinked at that, curious over the reason behind the quality guarding and the secrecy, yet I decided to bid my silence over this topic and shifted my attention to the Demihuman himself.

    "To be fair, he isn't overbearing about it," I admitted while lifting one of my hands to start to caress a little some of his hair, eliciting some surprised twitch from his cat-like ears before he resumed with his quiet purring. "It's just that I didn't expect this much company without much notice."

    "Y-You are surprised, Johnyan?" The half-feline fellow asked with a teasing tone. "Weren't you expecting Ferris to come and visit ya?"

    "I expected you to be by Lady Karsten's side now that her father has reached the capital," I replied politely. "Couldn't see why you would miss that opportunity, Felix."

    He hummed, glancing at Reinhard with a curious glint and causing the redhead to sigh calmly.

    "We were ordered to keep you safe and away from any dangerous encounter until later today," The overpowered knight explained with a careful tone. "We aren't truly aware of why, but the King was insistent to keep you away from any threats until some event will be happening."

    Not truly something that offered me more insight over the matter, but I was starting to suspect more and more that it had to do with what had happened yesterday.

    While King Randohal had looked quite genuine about the fact that the final offer had been just a ploy to verify my moral integrity, both he and the sage giving him advice hadn't said anything about the purpose behind such a complicated interrogation. I couldn't just accept it as an attempt to gauge my personality... as a friend to Fourier.

    It wasn't made as a friendship test and... hopefully, I wasn't going to deal with some crazy stuff anytime soon.

    The quicker I was out of this castle, the better my chances are going to be of having a chat with Satella over the true nature of Pandora.

    I knew that the insane girl had been close to the Witch of Envy before her personalities split in two, that she had known Flugel and that he was somehow responsible for how her power worked... and was also the cause of her dreadful intents.

    I needed details, some of those surely going to be difficult to get because of how painful the memories attached to those were going to be with Satella but... I had to still give it a try and verify that some of my assumptions were either correct or not about Pandora.

    The final enemy, the ultimate obstacle to peace...

    Or maybe the key to unlock something far worse. Her box was the secrets she was holding.

    "Shouldn't Fourier receive some higher guarding than me?" I pressed over the whole debacle once again. "Once again, I'm not trying to ask for any secretive subjects but-"

    "His Majesty is currently busy with a royal meeting," The Van Astrea interjected with a minor frown. "An important noble-lady just recently reached the capital and wanted to spare some words with the Prince about the chances of an arranged marriage contract."

    My eyes widened in surprise and I felt Felix tensing up as he interrupted his purring.

    "I wasn't... aware of this situation," The Demihuman commented softly, eyeing the fellow knight with a quizzical look.

    "It was something that happened without much notice," Reinhard continued with an uneasy tone, drawing quite some nervous predicament the more he gave details over the topic. "I would find it difficult to say this myself, but I guess it was her luck that warranted this kind of opportunity."

    "Luck generally can't get an encounter with an unmarried prince with the King being ill and-"

    I froze on the spot as the words of the Sword Saint finally sunk within my brain and... I started to connect dots over the horrible predicament unfolding not too far from now.

    It was a slow crescendo as I remembered that only one character had the kind of 'luck' that allowed her to gain these kind of circumstances, someone that was supposedly going to be a thorn in Fourier's rear if not treated with extreme attention and 'proper care'.

    Then I started to bring up in my head all the information I had over such a character, someone with the same ego as Gilgamesh, some non-negligible cleavage and the distinct ambition of ruling over the world 'because it was her right'.

    But I didn't jump in action while the realization started to wrap over my brain, still unsure that it was actually this character or maybe we were dealing with someone less important than I thought.

    "I know that it might sound strange to ask you this, Reinhard," I mentioned with an uneasy smile. "But perhaps the lady that is engaging some discussion with Fourier may be... Lady Pendleton?"

    The knight was quiet, his eyes still showing some surprise at the sudden inquiry and I could feel Ferris alternating to stare both at me and at his companion, a little confused over the question.

    "I'm not aware of anyone with that name-"

    "That is... correct."

    Fuck, double fuck- no, triple fuck!

    The timeline was already getting screwed beyond recognition.

    I was quite aware of that after the whole Agryle Mansion ordeal going differently than Canon, but to see the results of such change already coming to bite my butt so quickly was... horrible.

    Priscilla shouldn't have been coming here in Lugnica, at least not this soon in the timeline and not without the Royal Election happening for her to have a chance of getting a kingdom out of it.

    She was still not married with the plotter that was Leip Barielle, but I was partly certain that the man had to be responsible somehow for this unexpected encounter and-

    I stood up from my seat, Reinhard and Felix following my example and-

    "Mayor- John, I ask of you to not try anything stupid right now," The red-haired swordsman said with an half-plead, making me pause just a moment. "Whatever you are planning to do, Lady Pendleton is well-guarded and she is considered a ward of the kingdom as per order of Lord Barielle-"

    "Which is why this is problematic, Reinhard," I intervened with a tight voice, making just two steps towards the door only to be stopped by the Sword Saint. "Lord Barielle-"

    "Lord Barielle is the one responsible for the Dragon Tablet. His loyalty to the kingdom is assured by difficult tests that show how much of a devote subject he is for the-"

    "The chance of getting to steal the kingdom for himself if he plays his cards accordingly," I interrupted again, this time my irritation flaring at his opposition. "The Tablet has a prophecy about a Royal Election, which would only happen when all the heirs of the Lugnica Clan are dead or have resigned their duties as Crown Princes and... who would have the best chances to win an election, if not someone that was married to the former heir to the kingdom?"

    "That sounds way too... complicated for it to be the case," The knight pressed on. "Even a spy network like yours wouldn't be able to know the content of the Dragon Tablet, the security being far too high for anyone unknown to infiltrate such an administration."

    ...That was actually a fair point. While a majority of the kingdom was still easy to access for a spy, something as ancient and immensely important like the Dragon Tablet had magical barriers that made it impossible to spy upon without being already connected to the group assigned to guard it.

    I blinked, feeling a little stomped by the fact I did just brain-fart here but I was also glad that Reinhard was somehow quick to dismiss my theory as an elaborate and complicated mess without a proof rather than getting suspicious over the precise summary of what might be happening right now.

    It would fit well for Leip, the plan would see Fourier die because of the 'royal illness' and thus prompt the beginning of the Royal Elections while giving Priscilla, someone that would have a 'contract' with some arranged marriage, the chance of having an easy competition.

    Ultimately, the bald bastard would then marry the woman during the competition, offering his riches and his lands as resources to make some aggressive but victorious campaigns.

    I could already see a major flaw in that 'foolproof plan', which was the BS luck the blonde was renowned to have and that could in the end see the young woman obtaining the throne alone and without any dangerous conspirators damaging her new kingdom.

    I huffed, grunted even, as I forced my arm out of Reinhard's hold, marching back to the couch and... slumping over one of the corners, engaging in what many observers could describe as a clear case of deep irritated-induced pouting.

    I was quiet, Felix looked surprised at my lack of strong response at that final obstacle, but still followed me back to the couch and so did the redhead.

    Time passed, ten or so minutes that began silently and then returned to some friendly bantering between the two knights about the recent developments.

    Reinhard would still give me some intrigued glances, confused over my sudden defeat and how 'quick' it had been compared to what he was mostly accustomed to at this point.

    I huffed once in a while, my eyes glancing briefly around the room and giving no response whatsoever at the conversation both guards were having with each other.

    Ferris seemed to have lost his own surprise by going deep with his news about his mother, the woman having arrived at Erindor and having already started to have quite the curious discoveries by dealing with both Fritz and Hans.

    From what the demihuman was aware of, the twins had been skeptical of the old woman's role in the household but they soon started to grow a little more trusting when she decided to prepare for them some apple pie after lunch.

    While many could easily think that I had thrown the towel and I was already killing my mind by thinking at the aftermath of this horrible scenario, the reality of my predicament was quite the opposite.

    I hadn't accepted defeat, I had merely decided to switch tactics to something a little more unpredictable.

    It was time to be a little smarter than usual, I needed to adopt a plan that best worked for my current limitations.

    I couldn't approach the door, nor I could ask to go to the bathroom without having both following me around; making a run for it would result with me getting caught and possibly tied down as to not be able to commit myself to another of these attempts.

    Knowing these two major details, I was offered a grand hope in the form of the large window set right by one of the deepest corner of the room, the further part from the main doors.

    It was half-open as to allow some wind to enter inside, the climate offering little mean to cool down the warmth created by the chimney installed in this room and...

    I did play Assassin's Creed more than enough to know how to move around that predicament and I was fit enough to pull some cool maneuvering if given the proper time to think beforehand.

    I pondered over the floor we were currently standing in this room while also creating a crude map of the overall castle we were in. I hadn't seen many of the rooms there, but if I had to take a wild guess from the general disposition of the quarters, I felt like I could think of a proper planimetry of the major building.

    I blinked, slowly shuffling up from my current seat in utter silence, gaining Reinhard's full attention just for that moment...

    As I started to stretch up and yawn.

    "I need to go for a walk... around the room," I muttered tiredly, my body indeed requiring some genuine stretching after staying in that draining position for that long. "And away from the door."

    The last detail got a curious look from the Sword Saint, the man trying his best to see if I was telling the truth or not.

    In the end, he sighed and gave a nod to which I replied with my own sigh before going for a walk around the place and... right towards the big 'window of opportunity' I had for my little escape.

    I could hear the discussion had resumed behind me, giving me just enough of a distraction to begin move out of the room via the opening.

    Just as both legs had stepped over the small section of the wall, carefully settling by the decorations just outside the window and... I heard the distinct noise of two panicking knights making their way towards me-

    But it was already too late as I started to cautiously descend from that unpleasant circumstance to the others that preceded me from reaching my last goal.

    I was nimble, I was quick, but my name wasn't Jack and I didn't know anyone called Jill~.

    Two floors below and after 'enjoying' some aching hands and toes, I was granted relief in the form of an open window that got me to charge inside... into a completely empty room.

    Not good, but also not too bad as I still had some chances of reaching the scene just before anything serious could happen from this maddening plot.

    I didn't pause for too long in that empty space, just enough to take notice of the section of the palace I had ended up into and... then I bolted without any restraint over my sprint.

    Lungs going for some overwork, I dashed through the hallways with only two thoughts in mind.

    The first was that Fourier might be in serious danger if I didn't move too quickly and-

    Two, I had Reinhard now surely going to hunt me down with the intention of possibly tie me down back to that 'safe room' while giving me some lecture over his duties as my bodyguard, the importance of keeping me away from danger and... something about justice.

    He would be right, he would be correct... but then again the situation warranted some drastic and unpleasant decisions considering the horrible odds staked to me right now.

    Seriously, why there was an assassination attempt right after the whole insane thing with the Argyle Mansion and-

    I turned the corner, rushing through the secondary staircase with the intention to reach Fourier's room, ignoring any strange noises that might distract me along the way to make the difference.

    My breathing got labored, my face reddened and after two minutes of straight running around the place and ignoring the glances I was getting from the various nobles and guards wandering around, I finally reached my destination.

    I took just a few seconds to get my breathing back to normal, the little marathon bringing up quite the adrenaline running through my body, and then knocked thrice at the door.

    I waited patiently for some sound or noise, anything that could bring me relief of the fact that I was just in time to-

    "Please enter," Fourier allowed with a slow but confused tone of voice, enough of a sign for me to slowly open the door and... be presented with quite the odd scene.

    Fourier's red eyes widened in recognition, surprise swelling in his face while Crusch looked merely confused over my presence there.

    It took me just a moment to realize that while Fourier was sitting in front of a younger Priscilla Barielle, beside him was the Duchess Karsten herself...

    And between the two couches, right where the small wooden table was supposed to be, there was an unconscious bald man tied down over the now broken mini-table.

    I blinked. "Oh... so I was right."

    "Mayor Bukharin," A certain purple-haired knight spoke with a hint of surprise. "What are you doing here? I thought that Reinhard and Felix-"

    At the mere mentioning of the two knights surely hunting me down in that very moment, I decided to carefully enter inside the room and close the door behind me.

    "Are supposed to be guarding my well-being, yes," I interjected with a half-whispered tone. "But I had to check here because I knew something was off."

    "W-Who are you?!" A furious feminine voice finally broke through the silence and I snapped my attention right at the angry-looking expression of a certain light-orange-haired young woman. Priscilla looked as gorgeous as she was in Canon, maybe a little bit younger than that considering that she had to be 16 in the current timeline as displayed by her shorter height.

    "John Bukharin, Mayor of Erindor," I introduced myself quickly and curtly. "Currently trying to avoid making amend for doing something not that bad, but also not nice towards some kind people."

    Fourier frowned. "You are running from Felix and Reinhard?" He asked with some nervousness. "You are running from Ferris?"

    The repetition dedicated to the cat-eared boy instead to the strongest of the two knights was more than enough to put a perplexed look on my face.

    "Yes?" I stated with some uncertainty before turning back to Julius. "By the way, can you please tell me what exactly happened here?"

    The knight frowned but gave a polite nod. "Lord Barielle tried to use poison to assassinate both His Highness and Lady Karsten, the attempt was foiled when my spirits confirmed of the illicit action perpetrated in their cups."

    "Then Cru- Lady Karsten's used her gift to gain a full read on Lord Baldhead-" "Barielle, your Highness," "Yes, him, and he got restrained for attempting at our lives." Fourier concluded with a huff. "Now Lady Pendleton is still demanding an arranged contract when-"

    "I am merely asking for something that is rightfully mine," The orangette stated with a serious voice, narrowing her blood-red eyes at the blond. "You are mine, Prince Fourier."

    Crusch blinked at that statement and then sighed tiredly before turning her attention right at me.

    "Considering the current circumstances, I still think that your own issues are far greater right now, Lord Bukharin," She said with quite the pitying tone, way too genuine to allude to some jesting.

    Why were these two afraid of an angry Felix?

    I know that he was pretty rough with Subaru in Canon in certain occasions, but I couldn't see the cat-boy be much of a problem when-

    My thoughts died when I heard the sound of a snort coming right behind Priscilla, the young woman turning her incensed attention right at a certain one-harmed and helmeted fellow trying to hold back himself from laughing for some reason.

    "W-What are you doing? You aren't supposed to-"

    "Forgive me, hime, but I find the name of this fellow quite... familiar as ironic considering the title attached."

    My eyes widened as I knew whom we were all looking at right now.

    So... Al was making an early cameo?

    I was partly confused by the his presence, but considering that it hat been Leip in Canon to bring him as one of the 'knights' for Priscilla, it was possible that the bald man had decided to hire him earlier for this occasion.

    "Truly?" I piped in with a fascinated tone. "Is perhaps a certain Soviet writer that gave off the reference?"

    His chuckles lessened and he seemed to appear even more curious. "What if I did, Johnny?"

    I hummed. "Then I would be elated to find someone that understands references," I replied mirthfully. "You are... Japanese, your accent is a dead giveaway and... how long have you been wandering around?"

    He tensed up at the mentioning. "I've been here for... almost two decades now," He muttered carefully, then he nodded. "By the way, my name is Al."

    I smirked at that opening. "Like a certain 'Weird Al'-"

    "He is still around after so long?" The one-armed knight interjected with some fascination. "Is he still making parodies?"

    "He is, but he is also doing his own songs and other projects."

    Al nodded happily at the news but our little conversation was interrupted by a certain annoyance.

    "T-That's enough!" The young woman exclaimed harshly. "I will not allow this mockery to continue any longer!"

    Priscilla aimed her index at her knight. "You will desist from annoying me."

    And then she moved her attention to me. "And you, John Bukharin, will accept to become my-"

    "Not interested."


    "It wasn't a request-"

    "Nor it was a demand since you don't have any leverage on me, don't you?" I interrupted with a tired sigh. "You may offer me whatever 'I desire', from riches to favors, but in the end your offer isn't just endearing as it could be to any normal individual."

    She blinked, shock spread on her beautiful face. "What?"

    "Lady Pendleton, you are resourceful and ambitious, you have an absurd luck by your side and you certainly don't lack the intelligence to understand that not everyone can just submit at your whims because you want it," I started to explain with a dull tone. "I could spend endless hours to unravel the kind of individual you are, but I think I can summarize it all in a single sentence: I detest your personality, but I understand where it originates from."

    I glanced at her with a blank expression, her jaw dropping a little at my words. "It was a wrong nurturing, one that got you stuck in the greedy aspect of survival... despite being far from the conditions you were facing just a few years ago," I muttered tiredly. "Consider what I will offer you right now as the best bet right now, ignoring your luck as it wouldn't work against me, and merely accept this."

    I gestured at the document in her hands.

    "That is a magical paper, I can feel some magically-enforced clauses on it and from my understanding it can accept a single drop of blood as the signing of one of the two parts, right?" I asked quietly, keeping silent until I saw her give a slow nod at this, her eyes narrowing once more in interest about what I was referring about.

    Gone was the uneasiness she briefly displayed, now her usual personality was back in control.

    "Then you could just do this with Lord Barielle here," I suggested with a hum, glancing down at the still-unconscious bald bastard. "He is quite wealthy, his lands are extensive and you would have a higher chance to aim at your 'world-conquest'."

    Priscilla snorted. "And let go of the chances of gaining my rightful title as-"

    "You would want to go in a war that could see the entire world plunged in chaos only to try and become the foreign Queen of a nation that is in regression?"

    My inquiry got her to stop with her attempt, enough for me to continue. "Your luck can preserve you, can have you survive, but then you would be alone with dust and ashes... again."

    Her features hardened at the little allusion to her childhood, her irritation kept at bay by the strong sense of self-preservation she had.

    Ultimately... she was forced to concede.

    "B-But why would you want to marry an old man?" Fourier blurted confused, causing the orangette to scoff back at him.

    "Maybe you should ask him why," She quietly snapped back, causing Crusch to appear quite irritated by such response.

    "You best hold your tongue from disrespecting his highness in such a manner, Lady Barielle," The Karsten glanced back at me with a skeptical look. "I still don't see why you would want to trade such an important chance for-"

    "She knows she wouldn't win in a serious 'fight' between herself and us," I interjected quietly, ignoring the angry look coming from the young woman. "But I think it's best to not create enemies without reason and Priscilla wouldn't mind waiting some little more if given something to do in the mean time."

    Plus, I wouldn't be forced to compare Erina Pendleton with Priscilla with their same surnames.

    Her face turned red in fury. "H-How dare you consider me a child- A-AND I DIDN'T GIVE YOU THE PERMISSION TO SPEAK ME WITH SUCH FAMILIARI-"

    She froze as I took some steps toward her, stopping right to lean close and look at her face with a curious look. "You know, you have some pretty eyes there."


    A blink, then two and... the blush turned into one of embarrassment at the sudden compliment.

    Instead of retaliating with another indignant shriek, the woman merely turned her attention back to get a drop of blood from the man's undefended thumb and sealed the deal for the contract.

    Just as I felt that I had finally resolved quite the insane debacle and prepared myself to think how I was supposed to leave this place without getting caught by my two active 'hunters', I felt... my entire body go numb and... my sense of touch and balance vanished without notice.

    I tumbled backward, a groan stuck in my throat as my lips weren't willing to part and make way to the pain-induced sound.

    I was awake, but my body was disabled as... I spotted a certain smug-looking cat-eared knight looking at me with some amusement.

    "Johnyah, I found yah~!"

    ...Oh God.

    "Good job, Ferris," Reinhard slowly entered in my limited line of sight, the young man giving a full look at the room with a certain sense of sheepishness. "Apologies your highness and Lady Pendleton-"

    "Barielle, Sword Saint," The young woman corrected with a sigh, her attention drawn to my unmoving body. "But I will forgive this slight since you have provided quite the entertaining scene."

    Fuck you.

    "Reinhard, I found him first," Felix whined quietly, his smug smirk deepening in something quite menacing. "Do you remember the bet, don't nyah?"

    Why was the redhead shivering, why was one of the strongest being in this world trembling at Ferris?

    Before I could deduce what was going on, I noticed much to my dismay that the demihuman had already began lifting me up standing and... pulled me out of the room and somewhere I was unaware about, the saddened glances from Fourier and Crusch giving me the worst of dreads.

    W-Where was he taking me? W-What was the adorable-looking soon-to-be 'torturer' going to do to me?!


    ... Hi, I'm Bob the intermission.

    Omake 4: The 'Torture'

    I was shocked by how extensive Felix's thought had been over the punishment he had planned for me.

    Or rather, what Fourier and Crusch considered something worth of being a true punishment.

    I blinked with some uncertainty at the little steam created by the heat rising from the bathing area, one of the few rooms within the castle that was mostly used like a sauna of sort and that resembled a lot like the Japanese Onsens.

    Since this very one was currently lacking any previous occupant it was a must for a certain giddy-looking demihuman to claim it as the proper setting to exact his planned torture.

    Felix was humming happily as I carefully used a sponge-like object to spread over his exposed back with some soapy water, the cat-eared young man giggling as I took the nearby water-filled wooden bucket and released its content well over his head, washing away all the soap off from his body.

    "That's just... nice~," He commented with a smile before starting to purr at my hands going to carefully fix the hair getting stuck near his animal ears. "Ya know, Johnyah, I didn't expect ya to be this much helpful about this."

    I frowned at these words, but I shrugged nonetheless as I realized whom was saying this.

    Felix was someone which didn't have as many limitations in terms of physical contact compared to other individuals, the closeness he shared with those he cared for was a result of the distrust born from his childhood to his family.

    Friends were now his new family and that didn't stop him from being quite the intimate-seeker with those that gained his full trust.

    "This isn't the first time I help someone with bathing," I pointed out carefully, unsure if bringing this up would be beneficial to my current predicament or not. "I did try something with Fourier but he was quite the pest."

    Felix nodded. "The prince is quite the little child when he is bathing, especially when around a friend."

    "You are making it sound like you did share a bath with him," I said, only for the cat-boy to nod at the case proposed and... it urged me to think about something suspicious about the matter, something about a certain young woman. "But you certainly didn't bathe with Lady Karsten since she is-"

    "She is reserved about it and very limiting over my means to help her around," Ferris interjected mirthfully. "But there are still some times where she just outright refuses my presence."

    I blinked at this explanation, surprised that even a woman like Crusch, despite her lack of major traits that would push her away from pursuing such a close bond with these guys, would actually accept the demihuman as a help during baths.

    It had to be embarrassing, quite so, but while the young Duchess was still keen to reject some of these instances, Ferris seemed completely unaware of the predicament he was discussing about so calmly.

    "But isn't it a little... nerve-wracking? To bathe with someone of the opposite sex?" I inquired carefully, feeling like these very questions were fairly delicate with someone like the demihuman.

    He merely shrugged. "Just... a little," The knight admitted quietly. "I guess not many would see the circumstance as normal or-"

    "It's just unexpected. Surprising even," I interjected, trying to avoid any souring of the current conversation. "There are instances were siblings use to bathe together, I guess you could compare it to those cases."

    His cat ears twitched at the word 'sibling'. "Thinking of Fourier and Lady Crusch as... my brother and sister?" The brunet mused quietly and distractedly. "I guess... that would be a little odd."

    I frowned, huffing at him. "You mean because you got an 'adorable pair of cat ears and a tail', you are odd?" I pressed him with a faux-annoyed voice, causing him to turn his head to glance at me with a curious look. "As far as I'm concerned those are some pretty perk to have, especially when you are trying to find some ladies' attention."

    Felix blinked. "Why would ladies want a demihuman- uh?"

    He tensed suddenly as I carefully reached for his ears and started to scratch the area between them. He let out a suave purring, delighted by the mindful touch and... I nodded.

    "That is what I'm talking about, Ferri," I mentioned with a twitchy smile. "Ladies dig the affection you could give them with purring while cuddling with them."

    Ferris gave a slow nod as I retracted my hand away from the top of his head. "I guess girls do love this... but I don't think I will interest myself with any romantic relationships just yet."

    I hummed at this decision. "You don't feel ready for a serious commitment?"

    "Something like that," He replied quietly. "I just feel like... I should first find my balance with my life here and now rather than try to jumble in something new."

    "You are doing a good job right now."

    "Only because I've some nice people helping me when I need help," Felix admitted happily. "Even when... I try to make it seem like I don't need any."

    I blinked at the allusion to his little fear and I nodded. "It isn't wrong to seek help, you are still a limited being... or maybe you are confirming your suspected role as God of Fluff."

    A giggle left his lips. "I wonder if I should sign down this title, the... God of Fluff," The demihuman smirked mirthfully at the words and then gave a pleased sigh.

    "Ya know, it's quite the nice experience and..." There was a little pause and then... he smiled even more. "Would you mind if I wanted to do this again in the near future?"

    I blinked at the request, the cat-boy turning his head once again and giving a pleading look, to which I sighed and gave a tiny smile. "I don't see why not."

    "Yay, Johnyah is the best brother ever~!"

    My smile froze at that word, my head tilting to the side in confusion. "Brother?"

    He looked embarrassed at being caught so suddenly about this. "I-I didn't mean to-"

    "Why? Just explain, I'm not angry or weirded out."

    A blink, then two and... he spoke once more. "I just thought that, since you said that my demihuman's traits don't matter much and since your hair is a color just a darker shade of mine that, well, we could pass like siblings. Like you said about... siblings sharing baths together."

    I hummed at the logic and gave a nod to him. "I see what you are referring too and..." I shrugged. "I wouldn't mind to have a little brother."

    His eyes widened in glee and, without much notice, I found myself falling on the floor courtesy of tackling from Felix.

    The cat-eared knight was smiling eye to eye as he nuzzled his head close to my chest, his purring intensifying to a new degree and... thank God we had some towels covering ourselves from giving each other too much of an exposure.

    My soul would never forgive me in being witness of something so awkward after such a meaningful moment.


    Afterthoughts: You know the feeling when you start a chapter, planning to stop before 5k, and then end up incredibly drained but with 1k+ words more than planned? Yep, today is one of those days... especially with the whole crazy situation with the Coronavirus. Sounds odd but yes, Italy is suffering a little from both the spread of the virus and the slow actions to contain the situation to a safe degree. Nothing worrying here where I live, being isolated from major cities and all, but the hysteria is starting to get quite annoying to deal with nowadays.

    Lastly... I did put a lot in this chapter. Some stuff was born from the spur of the moment, I'm expanding a little over this arc because soon MC will be back to his duties as mayors and... some wacky escalations will ensue even there.

    Priscilla is here and she will be quite the hindrance very soon and... a plot is currently going to unfold next chapter as Fate is never going to let go of its favourite events.

    P.S. Should I switch the chapters' names to what I'm using in FF or not? I feel like I should add the fun titles I had picked for the various chapters but... you decide.
  6. Potates

    Potates Know what you're doing yet?

    Feb 5, 2016
    Likes Received:
    I ship John and Felix so hard right now-

    ...and now I ship it even harder.
  7. Exist Error

    Exist Error Know what you're doing yet?

    Oct 19, 2018
    Likes Received:
    reading the chapter with Felix interacting with the MC, my reaction: "must resist urge to ship them!"
    FeebleEcho and JBukharin like this.