TSF Series #016: Darling Lust

  • Post category:TSF Series
  • Reading time:306 mins read
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From the ashes of EOS and the soul of VoRE, a true and terrible pleasure lives once more. It is Venturers of Radiant the 3rd!

Content Warning: This work contains sexually explicit activities and incest. Reader discretion is advised.


In September 2020, I wrote a fanfiction based on Dragalia Lost, a mobile action RPG created by Cygames and Nintendo. A ‘what if’ story that imagined the events of the game playing out differently than they actually did. However, following Dragalia Lost’s end of service on November 30, 2022, I developed a desire to revisit the alternate universe I created, but separate it from the Dragalia Lost IP into something of my own creation. 

Following some creative consultations with a Natalie.TF reader and Dragalia Lost fan, this desire billowed and grew into Darling Lust. An eleven chapter, 43,000 word novella that pays tribute to and parodies Dragalia Lost, while boasting a surplus of its own eccentricities and creative liberties.

Despite my ambitions, the end result is less of a full-length fantasy story and more akin to a ‘highlights reel.’ All the key events are there, but there are numerous week-long time skips, and much of the ‘adventure’ the characters go on is mentioned, yet never shown. I typically try to avoid these things, but I was working against self-imposed time limitations here.

I gave myself three weeks to complete Darling Lust, and I did just that. The story was outlined in 2 days, drafted in 12 days, edited in 2 days, and its twelve header images were made in 2 days. With a schedule like that, there was no time for anything other than the ‘bare minimum.’

Chapter 01: A New Venture

The tranquility of night was shattered as two figures ran through the forest, their hands clutched. Vegetation was dense, visibility was poor, and the sound of their rustling traveled far. With no path or clearing in sight, this was the two’s only way forward, and from the way they were moving, their only hope.

The two were a young man and woman. Each bearing a light complexion, almost regal in its fairness, and golden blonde hair.

The young man’s blonde hair was spiky. His eyes shimmered like a pair of emeralds. And while his lean frame was unassuming, he moved with the determination and power of an athlete. His body was dressed in metal boots and gauntlets, thin leather armor guarding his chest, a black shirt and a red jacket covering his torso, and a pair of navy trousers covering his legs. A blade rested in a sheath strapped around his broad back.

The young woman’s blonde hair flowed down to the middle of her back, its form straight yet voluminous. Her blue eyes were like moonlight shining down upon a lake. Her beauty was clear to see, from the finer features of her face to her slender frame, yet she was neither built nor dressed for such strenuous activity. Fatigue lined her face as sweat dripped down from her brow, dripping onto her pink dress. A garment made for leisure and nothing more rigorous than a trip to the market, yet was now torn and stained by the brambles and branches of the bushes she dashed through. At least her feet were protected by a pair of leather boots.

As the two continued to run forward, the woman’s grip on the man’s hand loosened. Her body drifted to the ground as the momentum propelled her forward, only for her to save herself with the support of her staff. A finely crafted piece of white wood, with a shimmering clear gem as its catalyst. 

Young Man: “Zilya?! Are you alright?”

The young woman, Zilya, then looked up at her companion with tired eyes.

Zilya: “I… I’m sorry Euclyd. I don’t think I can go any further.”

As Zilya caught her breath, the young man, Euclyd, heard a noise in the distance. It was faint, but it triggered something within. Something that urged him to pull out his blade. Something that sent his mind back to how he got into this unfortunate mess.

Three days ago, Euclyd and Zilya were called to the heart of their home, the proud and awe-inspiring Radiata Castle, where they met with their father, King Cornelius. A large and imposing man whose hair had begun to gray, and bright eyes had grown pale. He stared out of the castle into the courtyard as his children walked up to him. Both shared eager looks on their faces, while a dour look rested upon his.

Zilya: “Good day, Father. Is there something troubling you?”

Cornelius: “No, far from it. I simply wish to tell you that I shall be departing tomorrow at dawn. I should return within two days.”

Euclyd: “Oh? Do you have plans to meet with a noble? Perhaps a neighboring kingdom?”

Cornelius: “Heh. I wish it were that simple, my boy. No. I must venture off into the Nether Catacombs.”

Zilya: “Oh? Well, I suppose it is that time of year. Summer is coming to an end.”

Euclyd: “Father! May I accompany you to the Catacombs?

Zilya’s eyes widened as Euclyd made this request, while a grumble escaped Cornelius’s lips. His brow furrowed as he processed this request, before shaking his head.

Cornelius: “No son, you may not. Not because I do not trust you, but because if something were to happen to the two of us, I worry what that would mean for the kingdom.”

Euclyd’s face soured as his request was denied, but he wasted little time before prying further.

Euclyd: “But Father, I am already of age. While I do not wish to take the throne anytime soon, the more experience I get, the better it will be for my growth. The more responsibilities of yours I take on, the better.”

A small smile appeared on Cornelius’s face, but he was not moved.

Cornelius: “Perhaps next year, you, the tutelary, and the royal guard can venture there yourself. But for now, I must take this duty upon myself.”

The Nether Catacombs was an isolated dungeon that existed to imprison Malachi the Destroyer. A force, undead and inhuman, who wrought destruction upon the kingdom of Radiata three generations ago before being stopped by Queen Euphemia. Since his binding, the kingdom of Radiata has enjoyed a period of prolonged prosperity, with its citizens happy and cared for, and international relationships civil. 

To maintain such good tidings, it was necessary to ensure the strength of the bindings, to prevent Malachi from ever resurging and wreaking havoc upon the land. It was a great responsibility, one that was attractive to Euclyd, but he was denied it yet again. He hid his bitter disapproval from his father though, and simply wished him a safe journey, with Zilya doing much the same.

By the time Euclyd and Zilya woke up the following day, their father was already gone. He returned two days after his departure, as expected, but when he returned, he did not return with his guards or the tutelary. Instead, he walked up to the castle gates alone. Euclyd and Zilya greeted him as they heard of his arrival, but as they came face to face with him, he looked upon the two with a fiery gaze.

Cornelius: “It was them! My own children hired assassins to take my own life. Instead, they took the life of some of my finest men. Guards! Cast them into the dungeons immediately!”

Euclyd and Zilya froze as their father voiced such accusations, as did the guards. Within a matter of seconds, they had gone from prince and princess to traitors of the throne. They had a single critical moment to determine what they would do. A moment that would shape the very form of their future. 

In those seconds, they noticed something… wrong with the man before them. His eyes were not the same faint green they had always known. Instead, they were a vibrant scarlet. 

Zilya: “You… You are not our father! You are merely a fiend wearing his form!”

‘Cornelius’: “Is that truly your best ruse? I thought I had raised you two to be wiser than that. But I suppose such underhanded tactics are apt for treasonous scum such as you.”

Guard A: “Right! We’d recognize our king no matter what, I don’t want to do this, but you two are coming with us.”

Guard B: “If you care about proving your innocence, you will submit to justice.”

Euclyd: “Damn! It seems they cannot see reason. Zilya, we need to—”

Zilya: “—I’m on it!”

Using the staff in her right hand, Zilya covered her and her brother in a vibrant light. One that consumed their bodies fully and completely, before shooting past the ground, into the air, and through the nearest window. By the time the guards realized what had happened, the two were gone, teleported away from the castle, and into the dense forests that guarded it to the east.

From there, they ran. Through the forests, past any nearby villages, and along a winding path chosen more out of desperation than strategy. From the height of the afternoon through twilight and into the heart of the night. 

Their bodies were sore and ragged. Their clothes were worn and tattered. It was in this state that they had finally stopped. It was in this state where, if the rustling from nearby were to be believed, they were finally found.

Euclyd stood tall as he heard several figures approaching from the dense vegetation in front of him.

Euclyd: “They’re here… Zilya, stay back. If anything happens to me, run!”

Zilya: “B-Brother, please. With my Mana, I can help you and—”

Euclyd: “We can’t risk it! You saw what happened to Father. If I fail, you can fight on. Seek help. But if we are both captured, that’s the end of our story.”

Zilya: “But…”

Euclyd: “You know I’m a ‘prodigy’ when it comes to Mana. Few people are as proficient with all five elements as me. Your Radiant Mana is on another level, but with my Mana and my blade… I can take ’em. Trust me!”

Euclyd stood proud as he brandished his sword and looked on at the rustling around him. Then, once he sensed his approaching foes were near, his blade glowed with flames.

Euclyd: “Pyro Circlet!”

As Euclyd shouted, he swung his blade in a circle twice, the flames lighting up the dark forest around him and burning away at the dense shrubbery, before striking a guard, his armor bearing the crest of Radiata. The guard fell, his mace flying from his hand as his back slammed into a tree. He was not dead, but merely incapacitated. However, he was merely one of many.

Euclyd stepped to the side, narrowly avoiding another guard, wielding an axe in both hands. One swing would be enough to knock him down, forcing Euclyd to dodge his slow telegraphed attacks, while his sword glowed with another element.

Euclyd: “Freezing Slash!”

Euclyd slashed his sword high, striking the air, but sending out a frigid wave of energy that collided with the guard’s hands as he revved up an overhead strike. From the handle of his axe down to his elbows, his arms became encased in ice. With his muscles now frigid and his joints sealed, the guard’s balance was disrupted, sending him falling to the ground. Incapacitated, Euclyd bashed his face with the handle of his sword, knocking the soldier out with one carefully placed strike.

Knowing that guards never carried out attacks in groups of two, Euclyd waited for more to attack him… and he was met with three rushing him simultaneously. One wielding a greatsword, the other a spear, and the third a blade identical to his own. Euclyd had a mere moment to think, and with his every side surrounded, he looked up.

Euclyd: “Aero Ascend!”

His body shot up four meters into the air, his hair scraping against the leaves of the trees before he latched onto a branch, above and out of sight of the guards. He knew he had precious seconds to make his next move, and cast his non-dominant hand forward as he used his next skill.

Euclyd: “Umbra Darkness!”

A burst of black miasma ejected from Euclyd’s hand, and homed in on the soldiers, gathering around their eyes. They groaned as the miasma crept through their tightly sealed eyelids. They tried to disperse it with their hands, but the darkness remained locked to their faces.

With this opening, Euclyd returned to the ground and held his sword with body hands, its form glowing once more, this time the color of a midday sun. With every second, the weapon grew brighter and brighter until, once its radiance was so great it pierced through the dense leaves overhead, did he swing the blade at the three before him.

Euclyd: “Exalted Radiance!”

His blade’s reach was twice as long as it usually was, and with a single mighty blow, sent their bodies through the dense bushes and grass with a loud thud. 

Euclyd looked on at this sight with a sense of pride… before giving way to exhaustion. His body was driving on adrenaline and taking down six guards had emptied his reserves. His breathing was heavy, he struggled to stand, and as he listened to the dark forest around him, he realized that there were more guards.

Euclyd: “No… No way. Is this really the end?”

???: “Like HELL it is!”

As a brash female voice shouted, a guard flew toward Euclyd, before flopping to the ground. Euclyd looked toward the source of this guard, and was met with the sight of a woman. Her hair was silver and fashioned into a ponytail. Her skin colored a dark brown. And her eyes shone a dim violet. She was dressed in sapphire armor, covering all but her head, and in her hands, she held a lance, its body made of steel and its point crafted from an enigmatic cyan crystal. 

The woman held herself with the poise of a warrior, and stood taller than most men, but as she looked down at Euclyd, she adopted a warm smile.

Female Warrior: “Sorry to keep you waiting.”

Euclyd: “Isadore? …Thank you.”

Isadore: “Save your thanks for when you’re safe. In the meantime, I’ll deal with these jobbers.”

As Isadore made herself known, a group of five guards emerged from past the trees. They looked at Isadore with shaky confidence, thinking that the power of numbers would be on their side… only to be proven dead wrong.

Isadore: “Hydro Geyser!”

Isadore slammed her lance into the ground, its tip glowing as it filled the ground below with Hydro Mana, causing it to glow a bright blue. This glow was followed with a burst of water that shot from the ground with enough force to send the six up into the air. With her enemies airborne, Isadore unleashed a flurry of blows on the five simultaneously, juggling them before lunging down with her lance. The five were sent crashing into the earth, where their bodies rolled through the shrubbery like fallen fruits.

Isadore landed onto the forest floor with grace, looked upon the squad of twelve, their bodies obscured by vegetation and darkness, and shook her head with disappointment.

Isadore: “This is why I said that all guards need to be trained in Mana, because when up against people like me, they don’t stand a chance.”

Zilya: “Isadore!!!”

With the threat of the guards dealt with, Zilya rushed from her hiding spot and ran toward Isadore, tossing herself into the warrioress’ arms.

Isadore: “Oh, thank Akupara you’re safe. I don’t know what I would do if they got the two of you.”

Euclyd: “S-So, you’re not here to capture us for yourself, eh?”

Isadore glared at Euclyd for his poor attempt at a joke.

Isadore: “Of course not. I’ve been looking after you two for twelve years. You might not always make the best decisions, but I know neither of you would ever so much as think of betraying the kingdom.”

Zilya: “Wait, but you’re a Grand Knight. You swore to follow our father no matter what his orders were.”

Isadore: “I did, but that man is not your father. His aura has been replaced by something… vile. Even the way he looked at me was different. He is not the king I swore loyalty to.”

Euclyd: “I’m glad someone else could see that something is wrong with him.”

Isadore: “Oh, I know what’s wrong with him. He went to the Nether Catacombs, right? So, the simplest answer is that he’s no longer Cornelius. He is the Destroyer. Malachi.”

Zilya: “Oh… When you put it like that, it really seems so simple.”

Isadore: “It’s easier to think these things through when you’re not running for your lives. Though, I guess I’m going to need to do a lot of that. …But for now, you two need some rest, and some grub. Follow me. I have some friends at a roadside inn not too far away from here. …Assuming you don’t want me to carry you around, like old times?”

Euclyd: “W-We’re too big for your double-piggyback rides, Isa. And while we’re both tired… we should be able to walk, right sis?”

Zilya: “Yes, brother. I think I can manage.”

With the trailing guards dispatched, the three made one final trek through the woods, arriving at a road some minutes later, and an inn shortly after that. Over a pot of warm stew, the three discussed their situation. How they could possibly hope to remove Malachi from their father’s body and bind him once more. While the specifics were lost on them, Isadore reassured her that she had a plan, and come dawn tomorrow, they would head to their next destination. The home of one of the warriors who aided Queen Euphemia in binding Malachi seventy-eight years ago. A secluded place deep into the mountains known as Vulpes Shrine.

Chapter 02: The Vulpes Shrine

Mount Rapuken stood in the center of the kingdom of Radiata. A natural landmark visible from everywhere but the densest forests. Its peak was covered in snow year-round, and its body covered in lush coniferous trees.

While the base of the mountain was home to many small villages, the mountain itself was largely uninhabited. Despite its forestry and plentiful animal life, the rough uneven terrain made it difficult for even simple homes to be built, and the threat of avalanches dissuaded all but the bravest from claiming this land as their home. While frequented by hunters, explorers, and adventurers aplenty, it remained a largely uninhabited strip of land. One whose trails ended after a few hundred feet.

Despite this, locals who lived at the base of the mountain claimed there rested a place of respite and worship halfway up the mountain. A place known as The Vulpes Shrine. With only vague directions, Euclyd, Zilya, and Isadore ventured up Mount Rapuken, and as their climb progressed, fatigue followed.

Zilya: “Isa… how much further do we need to go? I’m… not sure how much more… I can take.”

Isadore turned back to Zilya, who was using her staff as a cane as she traversed up a steep slope.

Isadore: “I couldn’t say. All I know is that the Vulpes Shrine is somewhere here, that you ‘can’t miss it,’ and it is the home of the Hydro Avatar, Ricardt Vulpes.”

Euclyd: “I… I think we’re getting closer. I can feel a source of powerful Mana growing near. We just… we just need to take a few— thousand— more steps.”

Zilya: “Oh goodness… I guess I should have taken you up on your… t-training regime, Isa.”

Isadore: “You can’t change the past, sweetie. All you can do is keep going and wake up the next morning a little bit stronger.”

As the three continued to climb, Euclyd paused, and saw something fluttering between the trees. Though he knew it was probably just a common bird, he could have sworn it was something larger and, perhaps, more significant. He stared intently at this spot, trying to discern where this creature went… only for him to spot something else in the distance. A stone stairway.

Euclyd: “…Those stones over there, do they look like steps to you?”

Isadore and Zilya looked at where Euclyd was pointing, and their eyes widened.

Isadore: “Oh, son of a bull! Do you mean to tell me Ricardt built stairs, and nobody knew about it? Guh! C’mon kids, let’s go.”

With irritated expressions, Euclyd and Zilya followed their companion, going through one final stretch of wilderness before reaching a stone stairway. One that stretched down hundreds of steps, and up… maybe fifty.

Zilya: “Well, at least we found it in the end… I guess.”

As Zilya offered a faint laugh, the three slowly walked up the remaining steps, life returning to their body as they passed through a red wooden arch and at their destination. Before them was a trail of stone tiles that led to a shrine. Its body was made of wood, its windows made of paper, its roof made of clay, and its design utterly foreign compared to the structures of stone so common throughout the land of Radiata.

It looked unassuming, plain, and almost like it could have been the product of a traveler who wished to live in the mountains. However, the stone foundation of the building, pathway, and flattened land around it posed a different narrative. That this was a more permanent and important building. That this was Vulpes Shrine.

Euclyd: “H-Hello? Is anyone here?”

Euclyd walked forward as he spoke, his friends following behind him. His metal boots echoed against the stone tiles below him, but halfway down this path, he paused. He turned his head away from the shrine and looked past the dirt field surrounding the pathway, until he was staring into the wilderness he had been exploring mere moments ago. It was then that he saw something glow from within these woods. Something that unleashed a tempest of wind. 

The three braced themselves as they saw the tempest come at them, but it still knocked them off their feet, and sent them flying into the dirt field behind them. They wasted little time before rising from the ground, where they looked to see who, or what, attacked them. And the answer was… a floating clay pot with a green glow beneath its lid.

Before the three could get over how… odd this threat was, it began to speak in a guttural and echoey voice.

Floating Pot: “Kukukukuku! It seems that a band of fugitives have come to disgrace this most sacred of locales and rob it of its riches! Well, too bad! If you want more than a scrap of stone, you must defeat me! The infallible yo-kai known as… Potty Geist! Kukukukuku!”

Isadore: “Wait, potty as in toilet? Does that make you a chamber pot ghost? Because I am not in the mood to fight a fiend themed after urine or feces.”

Potty Geist: “I… N-No! Of course not! I am just a regular pot… blessed by the power of Aero Mana!”

Zilya: “Aero? But if you are a pot, you must have been baked. Wouldn’t it make more sense for you to be filled with Pyro Mana?”

Potty Geist: “…How dare you question my validity! For your insolence, you shall face my unbridled wrath!”

With a shout, Potty Geist began channeling wind around the stone tiles that connected the shrine to the stairway. As the winds grew in both volume and power, the tiles lifted into the air, spinning several times a second, before shooting toward the trio at breakneck speeds.

As the tiles began flying their way, the three began running, moving their bodies as fast and efficiently as they could to avoid these devastating stone husks as they smashed into the dirt, shattering upon impact. 

Once her composure was regained, Isadore took the initiative and began smacking the tiles floating in mid-air, only for them to fly beyond her lance’s reach. Even when she switched to Hydro Mana, the tiles still flung themselves away from her strikes, no matter how broad or fast.

Euclyd took a similar proactive stance, but aimed instead for Potty Geist themself. Alas, no matter how swift he was with his sword, the air around the pot shifted whenever danger was near, leaving the clay creature unharmed, and Euclyd exhausted.

Zilya tried a similar tactic, holding out her staff as she charged and unleashed beams of radiant light, flushed with Mana mighty enough to end the life of lesser fiends. But the Aero Mana of Potty Geist continued to prove itself profoundly effective.

Potty Geist: “Kukukukuku! That all you’ve got? C’mon now! I know it’s a cheap trick, but I would expect better from royalty!”

Zilya: “Grr… I’ll show you, you bothersome little pot! Radiant Bubble!”

As Zilya unleashed her next skill, Potty Geist found themself surrounded by a glowing yellow bubble nearly two meters in radius. They scoffed at the sight, but before they could usher another wisecrack, they saw that the bubble was shrinking.

Potty Geist: “H-Hey, you can’t just make stuff up on the fly like tha—”

Isadore: “Frosty Winds!”

Isadore thrust her lance forward before Potty Geist could finish their criticism, causing a chilling mist to shoot out from her weapon, aimed directly at Potty Geist. Try as they might, they could not evade the encroaching chill, and their clay body became encased in an inch-thick layer of ice.

Potty Geist then fell to the ground in a dull thud, and their remaining stone tiles did the same, flopping down onto the dirt surface below.

Euclyd: “Great work you two! Now if you don’t mind, I’m going to finish this fiend off with an… Umbra Stab!”

Euclyd’s sword danced in his hand as he stabbed Potty Geist in the back, or what seemed like their back, only for his blade to be pushed away by a burst of flames. He recoiled at the sight, sharing looks of concern with his allies, before returning his eyes to Potty Geist, who was unfrozen and floating in mid-air once again.

Potty Geist: “Bah! You traitors are craftier than I thought, so I… had to show my… true power!”

Zilya: “Wait, so you can use Pyro Mana? Didn’t you just get mad at me for asking why you couldn’t?”

Potty Geist: “Can it blondie! You have angered the great Potty Geist, and for your insolence, I shall… heat things up! Get ready for an Aero Pyro Inferno!”

As Potty Geist made that command, they began to create a tempest once more. But rather than shoot forward in one direction, this one rotated around the four, creating a vortex of wind that locked them in a makeshift arena of dirt and stone. They stood in the center of this windstorm, back to back, only for flames to emerge within the wind’s trajectory. As the vortex swirled, the flames grew, larger and larger, until the flames and the wind were one in the same. Until the three were surrounded by a whirlwind of fire.

Potty Geist: “Kukukukuku! It’s your move, traitors! So, what are you going to do nex—”

As Potty Geist spoke, the inferno she created extended beyond the arena. Flames spread onto the pine trees and bushes surrounding the shrine, before landing on the shrine itself, setting its frail wooden frame ablaze. The second Potty Geist realized what had happened, her boisterous attitude vanished.. 

Potty Geist: “Oh crap, crap, crap, CRAP! That was not supposed to happen!”

Isadore: “Good job defending ‘this most sacred of locales.'”

Potty Geist: “Oh, shut up and help me! You’re good with Hydro Mana, right? So save the shrine and I’ll… I’ll try to put this inferno out.”

Isadore and Euclyd nodded at Potty Geist’s request, and began dousing the flames on the shrine… only for the fire to break out in another spot.

Potty Geist: “Oh shazbot, this isn’t just bad, this is deep dookie!. Kassie! I need your help! Like, right now!”

From the burning shrine, a figure emerged. One that leapt through the fire and entered the eye of this burning whirlwind. She was a young woman with a light complexion, dark forest green eyes, and flowing orange blonde hair that went halfway down her back. Her frame was short, chest was large, and she was dressed simply in a baggy white folded jacket, a long red skirt, and brown shoes. She would be a simple, unassuming girl… if not for her animalistic qualities. 

At the top of her head, she bore a pair of fox ears that poked out from her hair, and from the back of the dress came not one, but three fox tails. She was a demihuman, an uncommon sight in this kingdom, and as she made her grand debut, she turned to Potty Geist with a strained expression.

Fox Demihuman: “Oi! What the heck are you doing, Nuttz? You trying to burn everything?”

Potty Geist: “Well excuuuuse me, Kassie. I wasn’t the one in charge of the flipping fire! You gave me way too much!”

Kassie: “No I didn’t! You’re the one who spread it all over the darn place, ya jerk!”

Euclyd: “Less complaining and more doing! Because this whole mountain’s going to burn at this rate!”

As Euclyd said that, he unleashed a wave of Hydro Mana on the trees, dousing them to prevent them from catching on fire.

Kassie: “Eh, right. Let me just focus on the fire, bring it all together and then, like this…”

As Kassie trailed off, she shut her eyes and began moving her body around, performing a sort of dance as the flames of the inferno drifted upwards into a great ball of fire that loomed ten meters overhead. The fire leapt off the trees, hopped from the shrine, and joined with the frighteningly large sphere of flames 

The three adventurers looked up at the flame in awe, knowing that if it were to be dropped on them, they would be as good as dead. Instead, the flame shot upwards, high into the sky, before exploding into an array of lights, sparks, and smoke.

A wave of relief filled those on the ground as this threat was dealt with, but as they looked around themselves, they could tell the damages were severe. Dozens of trees were burnt or wounded, many parts of the shrine were charred black, and the once elegant stone path from the stairs to the shrine was now a discordant mess of stone shards, chipped tiles, and dirt.

Potty Geist: “Ah crap, I really made a big mess here… may as well just add this to the pile.”

Potty Geist then threw their body onto the ground, where it fell to the dirt in a dull thud. The three humans looked on as they heard this, and were met with the sight of a small humanoid woman, no more than a foot tall. 

Her complexion was a dark brown, eyes a vibrant pink, and hair a dark indigo that messily fluttered down to her shoulders. A scattering of freckles covered her cute little face, and her slim body was dressed in a cream-colored sundress, in addition to a pair of yellow rain boots. Along her back was a pair of wings, colored a faint lavender, approximately the size of her torso, that allowed her to flutter above the ground.

Zilya: “Heh. I had a feeling you weren’t really a sentient pot. You’re a Fae!”

Fae: “Darn tootin’ I am. The name’s Nuttz! And even though you saw through my disguise, my li’l sis and I aren’t gonna let some criminals off the hook!”

Isadore: “Um, how do you even know we’re ‘criminals?’ It’s only been three days since we left Castle Radiata.”

Kassie: “News travels fast in these modern times! Ever since they got a printing press in the village, a nice boy’s been bringing us a newspaper every week.”

Nuttz: “Yeah, and the top story was that Prince Euclyd and Princess Zilya were both traitors who tried to kill their daddy! Have you two no shame? Truly, the only thing worse than patricide is matricide! …Oh snap, you didn’t kill your momma too, did ya?”

Euclyd: “…Nuttz, was it? Did it ever occur to you that the news might be lying to you?”

Nuttz:…WHAT?! You mean to say that the newspaper is full of lies?”

Isadore: “Girl, what were you reading?”

Kassie: “The Royal Gazette, of course! Approved by King Cornelius himself!”

Isadore:Right, I read through the latest release at the inn before we headed out. Say, did it ever occur to you that maybe something approved by the king might be biased to protect his interest? That the ‘truth’ might be presented to make the king look good?”

Zilya: “…And did you read how the nation was renamed from the Kingdom of Radiata to the Nether Empire?”

Euclyd: “The exact same name as the kingdom once ruled by Malachi the Destroyer.”

Nuttz: “OH SNAP! Nuttz is such a dummy-dumb! Kaaasssiiieee! Why didn’t you tell me those parts?”

Kassie: “I thought I did!”

Nuttz: “You told me that the royal kids were now treason-ers! No more, no less!”

Kassie: “Oh… Kassie is a bit of a space like that.”

Kassie then lightly bonked her head with her knuckle and stuck out her tongue. Nuttz, however, was not amused by this. In fact, she raised her tiny brown hand high, and summoned a manashooter. A handheld weapon that shoots concentrated bursts of mana over a long range, similar to a bow or a crossbow, but faster, stronger, and objectively better. There were some who argued with that statement, but they were eventually killed by those who invested in manashooters.

However, with Nuttz’s small size, she could not hold it in her hands, and instead braced it with her full body, planting her entire right arm against the firing mechanism and shooting Kassie with a burst of Aero Mana.

Kassie: “KYA!”

Kassie then began to run around the shrine, fearful of Nuttz’s manashooter, while Nuttz pursued her. This lasted six rotations before the two finally tuckered themselves out and invited the three into the— slightly singed— Vulpes Shrine. There, they were quickly directed to a low table where they sat down on a set of cushions, while Nuttz and Kassie treated them to piping hot tea and crunchy crackers.

Nuttz: “Okie dokie! Now that we got that taken care of, would you be so kind as to tell my sister Kassie and I what brings you to our humble little home.”

Isadore: “Well, I figured that would be self explanatory. Malachi possessed King Cornelius, framed Euclyd and Zilya for treason, and now we need to stop him.”

Kassie: “Oooh! You must’ve come here to see Daddy!”

Euclyd: “If by ‘Daddy’ you mean Ricardt Vulpes, yes, that is exactly why we—”

Nuttz: “We do and, sadly, he passed away three years ago, at the ripe age of ninety-nine.”

Kassie: “He wanted to live to be a century old, but he still had a good long life.”

Zilya: “I am sorry for your loss then… But do you know anything about how he defeated Malachi along with Queen Euphemia?”

Kassie: “Kassie knows! Kassie knows! Let her tell the story.”

Nuttz: “Alright, foxy momma, hit ’em with the exposition!”

Kassie: “Because Malachi is super duper powerful, the only way Euphemia, Ricardt, Linyu, Nefaria, and Gavin could defeat him was by becoming the Elemental Avatars! By proving their mastery of Mana to the Elemental Beasts and conferring their blessings to become the mightiest in all the land!”

Nuttz: “Well, pretty close. You remember how Ricardt talked about how he could never beat that one lady. What was her name? Celery?”

Kassie: “I think it was Cibella?”

Nuttz: “Nah, no way. I know a B when I hear it, and there weren’t no B’s. Ciella sounds pretty close, but not quite right—”

Isadore: “Do you mean Celliera of the Grand Knights?”

Nuttz & Kassie: “BINGO!”

Kassie: “Heh. Anyway, if we wanna beat Malachi and bind him up all over again, then the answer is super simple. You gotta find the Elemental Beasts and become Elemental Avatars! They all live in areas with pretty high Mana levels, so if you use a tracking skill, you should be able to find them all lickity split-ity! Now you just need someone proficient in Hydro, Pyro, Aero, Radiant, and Umbra.”

Nuttz: “Well, they’ve got at least two of those covered, with ice knight and Zilya.”

Isadore: “My name is Isadore.”

Nuttz: “More like ice-adore, ‘cos you love that ice!”

Isadore: “Ha ha. Very funny. Not like I haven’t heard that one for the past twenty years…”

Euclyd: “Say, would you two be willing to join us on our quest?”

Nuttz: “Wuzzat? Oh! I see now. You were impressed with my mastery of Aero. Well, as a Fae, I am naturally proficient with the ways of the wind. But even though I am self-taught, Daddy used to always say I was in the top percentage of Fae when it comes to this sort of thing. So of course you would want moi to help you save the world. I suppose heroism is in my family.”

Kassie: “And this is why you don’t compliment big sis… W-Wait, do you mean you want me to join you as well?”

Zilya: “Admittedly, your Pyro Mana got a bit… out of hand. But the way you threw that giant fireball into the air was… amazing! I have never in my life seen a display that impressive!”

Kassie: “I-I-I-I— Thank you so much, Princess Zilya!”

Kassie then bowed before Zilya, planting her head against the mat-covered floor while her three tails shook erratically.

Nuttz: “Yeah, this girl always had a thing for princesses, so be gentle with the praise, if you will.”

Zilya: “I’ll, um, keep that in mind.”

Euclyd: “A-Anyway, with the four of you, we now have four out of five positions fulfilled. Kassie can be the Pyro Avatar, Nuttz the Aero Avatar, Isadore the Hydro Avatar, and Zilya the Radiant Avatar. Now we just need an Umbra Avatar…”

Isadore: “Why not you, Euclyd? Your Umbra skills aren’t that of a master, but if all you need is proficiency, like Kassie said, I think you’ve got that covered.”

Euclyd: “Heh. I guess I do. You always said I was a Jack of all trades and a master of none, but when you think about it, a Jack’s not that bad. It’s better than any number.”

Zilya: “Hm, I never really imagined you as the Umbra type brother. But if this is what we need to do to save our kingdom and free our father, then so be it. Are you all with me?”

Zilya shot out her hand over the table, and the others joined her one by one.

Isadore: “But of course!”

Euclyd: “I’ve always been!”

Nuttz: “Heck yeah! Imma save the world just like Daddy!”

Kassie: “Hm… I dunno if I can really do this… but if I’ve got Nuttz and a princess by my side, I’m sure I can do anything!”

Zilya: “Thank you all. I know I am not the adventuring type myself, but when my kingdom and father are in danger, I have no other choice. Together, we shall save this nation. We shall band together and form the third incarnation of the Venturers of Radiant. After Euphemia, and after the Hero King Zyrus. Now, together! For Radiata!”


Chapter 03: An Abridged Avatar Adventure

For the first month of the autumn season, the quintet of Euclyd, Zilya, Isadore, Nuttz, and Kassie ventured endlessly throughout the nation of Radiata, all in search of the Elemental Beasts. Creatures of divine power who were the key to defeating Malachi the Destroyer, and the first test as the Venturers of Radiant. 

We originally wanted to dedicate a chapter to each of these encounters. However, due to funding issues from our publisher, Nina Tendo Incorporated, we here at PsyGaimz could only produce a small sample of what happened during this arc of the story. Please send all complaints related to this omission to noreply@ninatendo.net.

Scene #06-3: Hydro Ox Battle Finale

The marshlands had become coated with fog after the ox’s latest attack. Fog so dense that Isadore could barely see a meter in front of her face, let alone gauge where the Hydro Beast was as they swam through the mud. With her sight useless, she cast it aside, stabbed the murky ground underneath with her lance, and relied on her other senses. She listened for the rippling of water. Felt the vibrations through the earth. And smelled the thick aroma of the Hydro Ox. 

It was only then, when she stood still, at her most vulnerable, that the Hydro Beast emerged from the murky floor below, and pierced the surface of the water. Their body moved swiftly despite the creature’s girth and strength. So swiftly that they managed to get within breathing distance of Isadore before the trap was triggered. 

A pillar of ice rose from the water below, its body strong and dense enough to lift this oversized beast two meters into the sky. There, they flailed about their legs helplessly, unable to break away the ice, no matter how much they huffed and puffed. With her opponent incapacitated, Isadore drew her lance from the ground, and took aim for the exposed underbelly of the Hydro Ox. A soft and tender scattering of flesh, not protected by the fur guarding the rest of the creature’s body. She stabbed her weapon forward through it, severing the skin, penetrating the flesh, and as the Hydro Ox registered the pain, they screamed out in agony.

Hydro Ox:YOWCH!!! Okay, okay, you win! Just take your damn spear out of me.”

Isadore: “Technically, it’s a lance, not a—”

Hydro Ox:Just take it out! You won! I give!”

Isadore did as the Elemental Beast requested, removing her lance and allowing the ice pillar to melt, returning the Hydro Ox to water, where they quickly submerged their underbelly, rubbing it into the mud.

Isadore: “S-Sorry, I didn’t mean to, and you were so aggressive and—”

Hydro Ox: “Yeah, yeah, I get it. Just… give me a minute to recover.”

Isadore: “Here, let me help you with that.”

As Isadore said that, she used another Hydro skill. One that used water to cleanse and mend the wounds of allies. While not as powerful as Radiant recovery skills, it eased the Hydro Ox of their pain, and caused them to utter a satisfied groan.

Hydro Ox: “Ooohhh! That’s the good stuff…”

Isadore: “D-Did I prove myself?”

Hydro Ox: “Ha! Compared to that Ricardt bloke, I’d say you passed and then some, girlie. In just the past minute, you demonstrated a master’s understanding of Hydro Mana. These days, few understand the true versatility of water. It is a temperamental and powerful thing. Required for all life, but just as capable of destroying it. You get it. And with that Malachi bloke running amok, I couldn’t ask for a better Avatar.”

The Hydro Ox then flowed a vibrant blue, before losing its corporeal form, and leaping into Isadore. The Elemental Beast’s essence flowed through every facet of her body, giving it a radiant blue glow that quickly faded. As it did, Isadore looked down at herself. Though her body looked the same, she felt a power like never before flowing within her, and with ample water before her, she chose to flex it. Causing whirlpools and waterspouts, freezing the surface into platforms hard enough to support the weight of an adult, and causing the water to boil up into a cloud of hazardous steam. As Isadore looked upon these feats, ones that were always beyond her abilities, she felt a single tear trickle down her face.

Isadore: “Thank you Hydro Ox. With your power, I shall reclaim this land for the righteous and just. You have my word!”

Scene #13: The Pyro Hound and the Beast Within

The Venturers of Radiant traveled across the dormant volcano of Mount Phraeganoth in search of the Pyro Beast. The land had long since been expunged of any and all vegetation, leaving behind only volcanic rock. A fragile material often harvested by the farmers some kilometers away, and it made for shaky, uneven footing for the Venturers.

Nevertheless, they remained steadfast in their hunt… only for their target to come to them. As they looked above, they saw a most peculiar beast. A giant three-headed dog, a Kerberus, wearing a ring of fire along its withers, acting almost as a necklace. As the beast saw the five Venturers, they leapt down the terrain, stopping some meters away before finally speaking from its three mouths.

Pyro Hound: “You! Come show me your might!”

The beast’s three heads all stared past Euclyd, Isadore, and Zilya. Instead, they were only interested in Kassie.

Kassie: “M-Me?”

Nuttz:Of course they want you. Don’t get discouraged, sis! You’ve got this in the bag! Just show him some of that old Kassie brand razzle, throw in some foxy dazzle, and bam! You’ll be the Pyro Avatar in no time!”

Kassie nodded at her sister’s encouragement and walked forward with a confident smile on her face. A smile that lasted until she was a mere three meters away from the Pyro Beast, when they howled with all three mouths. Before Kassie could react, a circle of terrain around them cracked, melting into the ground to reveal a moat of magma.

Pyro Hound: “There is no escape until you show me your true form, Canine!”

Kassie: “C-Canine? I’ll have you know I am not a dog, like you! If my ears and tails do not make it clear enough, I am a fox!”

Pyro Hound: “I said… SHOW ME YOUR TRUE FORM!!!”

As the Pyro Hound roared in rage, Kassie felt a tingling sensation in her ears. A sensation that soon reverberated throughout her entire body. As the roar ended, she brought a hand to her face, and began scratching against the skin. With every scratch, her soft skin felt less smooth, as if something were poking out from it. One point of irritation led to many, and as she continued to rub her face, she realized thick tufts of hair were growing from it. Soft hair, fluffy hair, hair that reminded her of her ears and tails.

Concerns rose at the same time as she felt her nose wiggle against her will, shifting in all directions at once, shrinking and growing at the same time, while remaining beyond her vision. Using her hands as her eyes, she felt a soft, almost moist, nub where her nose should be. She then cast her vision down without tilting her head, crossing her eyes in order to see her nose, but all she saw was the snout of a fox.

Looking beyond the snout, Kassie realized the transformation had already progressed well her head. The backs of her hands had become covered in a light layer of black fur, with her lower arms bearing fur identical to the orange blonde hair on her head. Turning her hands around, she saw that her fingers were rapidly shrinking down into black nubs, her nails morphing into claws, and her thumbs… were simply gone. She tried to resist these changes, but in doing so, she only became more aware of the loss of mobility. She went from having over a dozen ways to move her hands, to barely being able to move her wrists. 

Panic sent Kassie down to the ground, where she found her clothes sinking into her fur, revealing more of her fox body with every second. Her breasts receded and split into teats along the bottom of her stomach. Her legs grew rigid and smaller as her torso grew longer. And with a powerful crack of her spine, Kassie found herself unable to stand upright, forced to touch the ground on all four of her limbs. Each one as sensitive as a tongue.

Though she could not see herself, she could tell from the way she stood and the sensations across her body that she was no longer a human. She was a fox. A giant fox, the size of three or four horses, and a comparable size to the Pyro Beast who stood before her.

Kassie: “Y-You! You did this to me! Change me back, you dastard!”

As Kassie shouted, a burst of flame escaped from her mouth. It flew through the air, aimed directly at the Pyro Beast… who dodged it with ease.

Pyro Hound: “You desire my power, to become my Avatar, do you not? To become a recipient of my power, you must maximize your own power first. Which you cannot do in the form of a humanoid. You must come to terms with your true beast form!”

Kassie: “Oi! Where do you get off calling this my true form, you stinking mutt? But I will say… I feel a lot of Pyro Mana flowing through me… and I’ll throw everything I’ve got at you!”

Kassie’s body then became surrounded by a series of fireballs, all burning a curious violet. As she howled, they fired themselves at the Pyro Beast, homing in toward him even as he leapt and ran throughout the small arena, yet never making direct contact. As Kassie saw this feat of agility, she found herself lunging at the Pyro Hound, trying to catch them off guard, trying to bite into their flesh as they sidestepped every blow with grace.

Kassie: “STOP RUNNING!!!”

With a shout and a stomp, Kassie caused pillars of fire to rise from the ground, spinning in erratic patterns, and forcing the Pyro Hound to take evasive maneuvers again. They laughed as they ran, clearly happy with Kassie’s display of power, but the laughter only went to further her burning frustration. 

Kassie: “FOX HUNT DOG!!!”

Kassie pursued the Pyro Hound once more, spitting flames from her mouth as she forced them to flee, and summoning violet balls of homing flame with every howl. Most dangerous though, was her growing physical strength. Her motions became swifter and harder. Her cautious bites morphed into crunching chomps as she came within centimeters of capturing the Pyro Hound’s flesh within her lips. All until, with flames on both sides and magma behind them, the Pyro Hound was surrounded, and Kassie leapt on top of them, digging her fangs into the neck of the center head!

She clawed through the flesh of the Pyro Beast like the vicious animal she appeared to be, treating their body with neither respect nor humanity as she consumed the flesh with vigor. It was at this vicious moment that Kassie’s ears wiggled and rose, for she heard a familiar voice call out to her.

Nuttz: “Kassie, what in the HECK are you doing!”

Kassie stopped chomping away at the Elemental Beast and looked behind her at Nuttz. A figure so small she was barely perceptible to Kassie in her current form, yet that did not stop her from fluttering closer.

Nuttz: “You might be a fox, but you are not a beast! This isn’t you! And I won’t let my sister lose her way! No matter what! …Even if I need to put you down myself!”

Nuttz then summoned her manashooter and fired it at Kassie, where she hit her squarely in the forehead with a burst of Aero Mana.

Kassie:GYA! Big sis is being mean to me again!”

Nuttz: “I’m not being mean to you, I’m reminding you of your humanity! Now go back to normal and use your awakened powers to put this dog down!”

Isadore: “We don’t want to kill the Elemental Beasts, Nuttz!”

Nuttz: “I didn’t say kill, I said put them down. Knock ’em into the dirt and make ’em beg! Now then, transform and fight, Kassie! Believe in the Nuttz that believe in you!”

With encouragement from her sister, Kassie’s body began to transform once more. Her bestial features receded, her body shrank, and her shrine maiden outfit re-emerged from her hair. Within less than a minute, she was returned to her normal form. That of a fox demihuman with a trio of tails poking out from the back of her red skirt.

Pyro Hound: “Heh. You could have easily defeated me if you remained in your true form, young fox. Do you truly believe you can defeat me in such a soft and puny form?”

Kassie: “I believe in possibility, and with all this Pyro Mana flowing through me, I can see lotsa different ways I could beat you. …But this one seems like the most fun!”

Kassie then held both hands above her head before throwing them down as whips of flame appeared within her hands. A snicker appeared on her face as she wielded this new weapon, and a second later, she began her attack.

Actually, to call it an ‘attack’ would be robbing it of so many things. For what Kassie did was dance. Moving her feet with elegance and grace as she swung her body and arms about, moving herself forward and throughout the battlefield as the burning whips forced the Pyro Hound to maneuver away from her. Much like before, Kassie managed to corner the beast, and with whips blocking them from escape, Kassie looked down on them and laughed.

Kassie: “Ohohoho! It appears that this fox has captured her prey! Make your decision, doggy! Will you grant me the power of the Pyro Avatar, or do you want this fox to engage in further savagery?”

Pyro Hound: “…Your power is vast, young demihuman. You must master the power of beast and man for your power to be complete. But for now, I shall ignite the raw potential within.”

The Pyro Hound’s body then burst into flames and flew at Kassie. Impulse caused her to raise her arms in fear, but as the flames made contact with her robes, they did not burn. Instead, the flames sank within Kassie’s skin, and entered her very soul. As they melded, she felt a surge of power through her, causing a howl unconsciously to escape her lips!

This howl led to the creation of a dozen violet flames that surrounded her, and as she pointed at the sky, they flew upwards. There, they merged and ignited into a vibrant ball of flames that burst into something of profound power… and beauty.

Kassie: “Ahahaha! So pretty!”

However, her allies were not looking up at the display before her. Instead, they were looking at the tails covering Kassie’s rear.

Nuttz: “Um, Kass, I think you should scope out your keister, because at some point, your tails… doubled.”

Kassie made like a dog trying to catch their own tail before latching onto her orange and white fox tails, and finding a position where she could look at them without a mirror. As she did so, she counted her tails one by one… and found that she was now a six tailed fox demihuman!

Kassie: “Eh? Is it… really happening? …Hooray~! Daddy always said that I would keep growing tails! Meaning I’m going to become a Kyuubi soon enough!”

Euclyd: “A… Kyuubi?”

Nuttz: “A fox girl with nine tails. Why is she so obsessed with a name that nobody else on this continent knows is beyond me, but that’s Kassie for ya!”

As her allies looked at her with concern, Kassie continued to roll around, playing with her own tails, and rejoicing at how soft and ‘floofy’ they were.

Scene #17-2: Aero Rooster Revenge

The winds were mighty across these vast plains. Wedged in between two sets of tall mountains, it was only natural for the winds to funnel through here and grow in strength. It was an ideal place to practice one’s mastery of Aero Mana, but even as Nuttz tried her best, she still could not fly through the air faster than the Aero Rooster. A speedster who glided through the air with extreme ease, and moved faster than even the most well-bred race horse.

With defeat at hand, Nuttz fluttered to the ground, and stared up at the blue sky overhead.

Nuttz: “I know I could beat that jerk. If only I was BIG! Like you, Kassie!”

Kassie: “M-Me? Like my beast mode?”

Nuttz: “Yeah! I’m only a foot tall. My wings are too tiny to keep up with that human-sized rooster! I need to be, like, human-sized myself! If only…”

Zilya: “Well, as a Fae, don’t you have that ability?”

Nuttz: “Whatchu talkin’ bout, Zilly?”

Zilya: “Well, I don’t know too much about Fae other than storybooks Father used to read me as a little girl, but I remember one about a Fae who became huge to protect his friends from a bear. They were scared of him at first, but he then turned back to his normal size. From then on, he would adopt that bigger form to help his friends whenever they were in need.”

Nuttz: “…Wait, is that a thing?”

Kassie: “Why’re you asking me? We didn’t have any books on Fae at the shrine!”

Nuttz: “Zilly! How did the Fae in the story become big in the first place?”

Zilya: “Well, I don’t remember the exact details, but I think it was by eating berries, his favorite food. Oh! Come to think of it, their name was Barry!”

Nuttz: “…Is that why Daddy named me Nuttz? I thought it was because I was always a li’l bit silly and hyper. That’s what he said anyway… but maybe, if I eat enough nuts, I can become… BIG NUTTZ!”

Euclyd: “I guess that makes some kind of sense, but don’t you think we should check if—”

Nuttz: “No time! Nuttz needs to get some nuts!”

Nuttz then began following her nose until she reached a tree bearing oodles of fresh nuts that had yet to be harvested. Nuts that normally were harmful to humans unless properly cooked, but Nuttz gobbled them up straight from the branch, crunching them up with her tiny teeth before moving onto the next one. This lasted until she ate about thirty of these nuts, when she found herself tumbling down from the tree, and falling in the grass below. Her belly was swollen, and her cheeks full of unswallowed nut meat.

Nuttz: “Nuttz went nuts for nuts, and now Nuttz is full of nuts and her tummy huuuurts…”

Isadore: “Nuttz, how old are you?”

Nuttz: “Twenty-seven.”

Isadore: “You’re one year older than me and you still don’t know that you need to control your portions?”

Nuttz: “I got excited… I just wanted to be BIG, but now I’m just FAT!”

Kassie: “Just sleep it off, sis! You’ll be back to normal in no time!”

Nuttz: “But I wanna be BIG! I wanna! I wanna! I wanna! I— *belch*

As Nuttz’s complaints were ended with a belch, her body began glowing with a green light. With all the Venturers surrounding her, Nuttz’s tiny Fae body began to grow at a rapid rate. From one foot to two feet to five feet, before finally stopping at a whopping seven feet in height, causing her to tower over her allies, including Isadore. Once her growth was completed, the light faded, revealing Nuttz but… bigger in every way. 

Her face retained the same general shape and dark features, but it looked less pudgy and more refined. Her hair grew past her shoulders down to her tailbone, and had a more flowing and kempt look. Wings extended from the tip of her head down to her knees, granting her a wingspan nearly three meters long. And her black freckles expanded past her face to every inch of her skin. 

Arms and legs had gained considerable muscle, beyond their sheer growth in size. The cream sundress had grown to fit her new form, even if it was far tighter than it was when she was smaller. While her rain boots had grown into knee high heeled metal boots, as if she needed any more height.

However, the biggest change was her chest, as she went from having barely anything to boobs as big as her friends’ heads. And these, more than anything, are what captured Nuttz’s attention.

Nuttz: “Holy pigs in guano! I’ve got boobs bigger than Kassie’s… FINALLY! Thank you Akupara for correcting this profound injustice! Or mayhap it was the Titty Fae those girls in the village used to talk about.”

Kassie: “Y-You were jealous of my chest?”

Nuttz: “Nah, I hated them. That’s why I slept between them on the reg. …Of course I was jealous of your tits, girl! But now that I’m BIG Nuttz, I don’t need your boobs anymore! With honkers like these, I can do anything!”

Nuttz then began flying through the sky, moving three times as quickly as she soared through the air, flying in circles just because she could. She became so enamored in flight that she left her friends behind as she made her way through the plains to the Aero Rooster. A rooster with a white and green color scheme. Including a forest green comb and tail feathers, minty green breasts and wings, and stark white legs. He stood at a mere five feet tall compared to Nuttz’s seven, and as he laid eyes upon her, he cawed as if he had just seen a wolf of a comparable size. 

Aero Rooster: “Bacaw! Little Fae, is that really you?”

Nuttz: “Darn tootin’, little chicklet! You ready to make me your Aero Avatar?”

Aero Rooster: “Well, you must defeat me in a race if you want to—”

Before the race could properly begin, Nuttz flew off, moving at a resounding 150 kilometers per hour, while the Aero Rooster struggled to exceed 90 kilometers per hour. Even without holding a ‘proper’ race, the Aero Rooster realized after a scant 30 seconds that Nuttz would win, and gave up.

Aero Rooster: “I don’t know why you didn’t do this before, but—”

Nuttz: “You think I knew I could do this? I didn’t! But after munching on some nuts, I became BIG Nuttz!”

Aero Rooster: “Um… okay. Well, you may be an odd girl, but I doubt I could find a stronger Aero Mana user in this continent, so I hereby confer you the mantle of the Aero Avatar!”

The Aero Rooster then became ethereal green energy and rushed into Nuttz, where his energy was absorbed by Nuttz’s big and busty body, filling every facet of her being… but mostly her chest. As this power flowed through her, a tempest surrounded Nuttz, forming what was almost a tornado, before being dispersed in a display of control.

Nuttz: “Kukukukuku! Nuttz has finally achieved GREAT POWER! And now, I shall remain BIG forever!”

As Nuttz flaunted her power and made her intentions known, her person became covered in a dense smoke, and when it faded, Nuttz returned to her smaller form. Everything was as it was before she went on her nut binge, and not a hair on her head was any different.

Nuttz: “Oh, what the frick did I do wrong? It’s not like I was going to hurt anyone or nothing! Darn you Akupara, I just wanted to be BIG!”

As Nuttz complained, the Aero Rooster’s ethereal form appeared before her.

Aero Rooster: “You do know that Fae can only sustain that form for a limited time… Right?”

Nuttz: “What do you think, buster?

Aero Rooster: “Well, with practice, you should be able to attain it for longer periods of time, but it would take years of practice before such a form could ever become your default.”

Nuttz: “Ah nuts! Guess I still have a long way to go…”

Scene #23: Zilya Destroys Radiant Rabbit

As Zilya entered into the domain of the Radiant Rabbit, she was met with a location of an otherworldly quality. She was standing on a stone platform, an arena, that magically floated above a void of light through no mechanism or support structure she could see. Stone torches carried white flames as they hung from invisible chains. Pillars of stone stretched from the invisible floor to the invisible ceiling. And as she looked to the walls, she was met with an endless series of stone arches that did little to stop a vast array of light that shined upon her… and her opponent.

The Radiant Rabbit. A pure white beast, as tall as a horse, with golden trimmings and slight armor all around their fluffy body. Their face contorted into what Zilya interpreted as a smile as she approached, while Zilya wore a look of determination.

Zilya: “What must I do to prove myself worthy of your power?”

Radiant Rabbit: “You have already aided the wounded in my village with your healing prowess. You understand the most crucial power of radiance, to heal others. As expected of the Princess of Radiata, I suppose. However, if you wish to defeat Malachi, you need more than kindness and compassion. You need power! Euphemia had great power, and without the radiance coating her blade, she would not have been able to piece past Malachi’s Nether Cloak. And while you are more of a staff user, that is no excuse to not have profound might!”

Zilya: “So, you wish for me to hit you with all of my might?”

Radiant Rabbit: “Precisely! So, without further ado, charge up and lay it on me, blondie!”

Zilya did as the Radiant Rabbit suggested, holding her staff tightly as she channeled the Radiant Mana, gathering it around the catalyst in her weapon. Her staff— her entire body— glowed with a white light and, when the light became overpowering, a beam of shining energy left her staff, and collided directly with the Radiant Rabbit. 

Dust followed the explosive impact, and as it faded, Zilya looked on to see the Radiant Rabbit on their back, limbs twitching.

Radiant Rabbit: “Y’know, I’m supposed to resist ninety percent of all Radiant Mana… but that still managed to whoop my buns.”

Zilya: “I-I am sorry, Radiant Rabbit. I never meant to harm—”

Radiant Rabbit: “No, no, you… you did good, blondie. You’re easily in the top percentage of Radiant Mana users in the world, that much is for sure.”

Zilya: “So, you mean to say that you will permit me to become the Radiant Avatar?”

Radiant Rabbit: “Well… I might’ve forgotten a little something. I gotta make sure you’re free of heart.”

Radiant Rabbit then stood up and patted off their fur, seemingly no worse for wear despite looking half dead just moments ago. Once situated, they looked at Zilya with their yellow eyes, staring past Zilya’s sapphire irises and into her very soul. What the Radiant Rabbit saw was one of purity. A soul without dark impulse or taint left by the evil machinations of the world… except for a lone smidgen. Something that was not dark, but merely a sort of gray. A smidgen that, as the beast looked closer, was full of love.

Radiant Rabbit: “Eyup! Soul’s easily in the top percentage too. I couldn’t ask for a better Elemental Avatar. So brace yourself Zilya, you might feel a bit fluffy after this!”

Like the other Elemental Beasts before them, the Radiant Rabbit lost their corporeal form, became ether, and leapt into Zilya’s body. As their essence was absorbed into her, a white radiance covered her body, from her blonde locks all the way to her boot-clad feet. She looked upon herself, a mix of relief and pride on her face, before turning around and walking out the door that brought her into this domain. 

From this door, she returned to the heart of Animal Village. A secluded domain deep within the unsettled forests of Radiata, where sentient creatures who did not match the usual mantles of human or demihuman gathered to make a society all their own. From common squirrels to dogs and cats, and even bears, animals of all shapes and sizes rested within this village, and together, formed a society that filled Zilya with inspiration. For it reminded her that all people, even those as different as cats and canaries, could live together in a single society. So long as it was given the right structure and the right leadership.

However, Zilya did not have long to linger on this sight, as she was soon greeted by Kassie and Nuttz, in their beast and… BIG forms respectively.

Nuttz: “Girl, don’t tell me you’re done already!”

Zilya: “Well, to say otherwise would be untrue. The Radiant Rabbit was most impressed with me, and now their power is flowing through my being.”

Kassie: “Hooray~! That’s four outta five Elemental Beasts befriended! Meaning we just have one more before it is time…”

As Kassie made this realization, she sat down and curled up her body, hiding her face in her six tails.

Kassie: “Even after we save the world, can we still be… friends?”

Euclyd: “Of course we’ll still be friends!”

Euclyd and Isadore then walked up to the three, each with a smile on their face.

Isadore: “You two do make me a bit… nuts—”

Nuttz: “Ha! She said it again!”

Isadore: “But I certainly would never dream of shooing you away. You’re helping us save the nation, so we will make certain you are rewarded handsomely. A status as heroes in the annals of history, a royal pension, and improvements to your shrine at the very least.”

Kassie: “But what about love and affection?”

Isadore: “That’s… going a bit beyond the whole friendship thing, but you’ll always be welcomed guests at the castle, and I’m sure we can find some time for some ‘playdates’ once things settle down.”

Nuttz: “Heck yeah! Playdates are RAD!”

Zilya: “Hehehe. It is nice to imagine what our future will hold, but we cannot dawdle now. We still need to pursue the Umbra Beast. Brother, do you think you’re ready to take them on?”

Euclyd: “I have been trying to switch to as many Umran skills as I could, and I know I have gotten better. I’m not sure if it will be enough, but I will never know for certain unless I try.”

Isadore: “Heh. Nothing makes an instructor prouder than seeing her own students spitting out her words like it’s nothing special.” 

After saying that, Isadore paused to look up at the sky.

Isadore: “The sun is still high, and the Umbra Beast is close. If we are dead set on finishing the first phase of our quest, we should get going.”

Nuttz: “What, already? But I wanted to bake cookies with the mice folks!”

Euclyd: “Isadore’s got a point. And Nuttz, I promise, you will have all the cookies you can eat when we defeat Malachi. However, the woods are treacherous, and I doubt we will be as lucky as we were last night, when we found Animal Village.”

Zilya: “Euclyd is right. If we are venturing into the unoccupied regions, we need to be careful, and cover as much ground as possible. In fact…”

As Zilya made that comment, she looked on at Kassie, still in her giant fox form. Her other allies joined her in this staring session, and as they did, Kassie rose from the ground and began backing away… only for the other Venturers to walk toward her.

Kassie: “H-Hey, don’t I get a say in this? I mean, I might be a fox, but foxes aren’t horses and—”

Nuttz: “Kassie, you do owe them after you ate an entire cow last week…”

Kassie: “T-That was an accident! I didn’t mean to, I was just running and got hungry and—”

Isadore: “Replacing that cow cost us a week’s worth of lodging, Kass. And after this, it will all be water under the bridge. What do you say, deal?”

Kassie whimpered in response, but as she looked out at Isadore’s metal-clad hand, she realized she was not in any position to argue. With hesitation, she brought out a front paw and planted it on Isadore’s hand, doing the closest thing to a handshake she could in her current form.

Kassie: “Deal…”

Scene #25: Encounter With The Umbra Rat

After a six-hour-long journey through the woods, Kassie collapsed onto the floor of the forest clearing before her and transformed back into a demihuman.


Nuttz: “It’s okay, Kass. We got here in one place, and now you can rest.”

Kassie: “…Could you please get Kassie some meat then?”

Nuttz: “Can do! It’s squirrel season after all!”

Kassie: “No! I want rabbit!”

Nuttz: “…Sis, we’re in the middle of nowhere. If you start getting picky, you’re gonna go hungry!”

Kassie: “Guuuuh…”

With the Vulpes sisters occupied, Euclyd, Zilly, and Isadore examined the forest clearing in more detail, before quickly happening across a structure hidden by overgrown plants. A dark ominous cavern that went deep underground.

Euclyd: “Well, it makes sense that the Umbra Beast would want complete darkness.”

Isadore: “You want to go in there alone?”

Zilya: “Even if he does, I… I don’t think it’s safe. Let my light guide you, brother…”

As Zilya said that, she used her Radiant Mana to create a floating source of light, one that illuminated the cave before them. With their path visible, the three went down, spending several minutes walking through this stone corridor before reaching something of note. A massive room with a radius of approximately twenty-five meters. They proceeded with caution, their weapons drawn, when they heard a screeching noise from a creature in front of them. A horse-sized rat who looked to be on the verge of death, with their body covered in wounds, and a sickly look upon their face.

Zilya: “Oh, you poor creature. Are you the Umbra Beast?”

Giant Rat: “That I be, lassie. Though, I sure as soot don’t feel like it right now, hahaha.”

Isadore: “Is there anything we can do for you?”

Umbra Rat: “Don’t waste your Mana on me. My body heals in the darkness. Gimme a day or three, and I’ll be right as rain. 

The Umbra Rat then hacked up a dark fluid onto the stone floor below, grimacing as he finished.

Umbra Rat: “…You there, boy, I take it you’re here to become my Avatar, right?”

Euclyd: “R-Right. How can you—”

Umbra Rat: “You asked for the Umbra Beast, and came down here with two other Avatars. I might be a rat, but I can put six and seven together.”

Euclyd: “So, do you want me to come back and—”

Umbra Rat: “You’re too late, boy. The person who gave me these wounds, he’s my Avatar. Got finished with me just eight hours ago.”

Zilya: “W-What? Why would anyone try to become an Elemental Avatar just like that?”

Isadore: “Who were they? What was their name? What did they look like?”

Umbra Rat: “All I can say is that he was a swordsman dressed in black, his skin pale as stone, with short black hair. He wielded an exotic blade and, as you can see, he was damn good with it.”

Euclyd: “That’s something but… don’t you two have a link? Can’t you sense him?”

Umbra Rat: “That I can’t. There is something with that man’s aura. Something that is blocking me from finding him. But I can say he was filled with Umbra Mana. More than I’ve seen since the days of Nefaria.”

Zilya: “Hm… I could seek out this man’s Mana and track him. It will require a lot of meditation, but I suppose we have no other choice. Only one Elemental Avatar may exist at a time.”

Euclyd: “Well, at least we have a new destination. Thank you for your time, Umbra Beast. I hope your wounds heal swiftly.”

Umbra Rat: “They’ll heal as quickly as they feel like it. …And whatever you do, don’t take on Malachi as you are now. I can sense your friends outside. They’re strong, as are you. But without five Elemental Avatars on your side, the odds aren’t in your favor.”

Euclyd: “I’ll… keep that in mind.”

Scene #26: Dark Terminus

Euclyd, Isadore, and Zilya then began walking out of the cave to the dark forest above. There, they saw a small fire burning, where Nuttz was roasting acorns, while Kassie was eating a rabbit, its body stripped, cooked, and impaled on a stick.

Nuttz: “…No way, that was too fast. What happened? Do they need a dragon tail or something to unlock your true potential?”

Euclyd: “Someone already became the Umbra Avatar. A swordsman dressed in black, with pale skin and dark hair.”

Kassie: “Hm… that’s not very specific.”

Zilya: “It is not, which is why I shall spend the night trying to find his Mana. He only left eight hours ago, so he could not have gone far. And from what the Umbra Beast told us, he should be easy enough to find.”

Isadore: “Meaning we’re staying put. Euclyd, help me set up camp for the night.”

With Isadore’s lead, her and Euclyd began setting up their tent, staking it to the ground while Kassie and Nuttz readied the beddings. Their energy levels dropped as they prepared for yet another night of roughing it in the woods… when they felt a presence most foul.

As the five felt this presence draw near, they looked into the woods… where they saw him. The entity that wore the body of King Cornelius, but had corrupted him with reddened eyes and an aura of malice. No matter who the world considered him to be, they knew his true identity. That of Malachi the Destroyer. 

Malachi: “This is what I get for relying on others to do my business. Your numbers expanded and your powers grew. And to think, you came so close to victory. But now that I have you where I want you… I shall take what I desire.”

From his strong yet withered hands, Malachi shot a burst of Umbra energy, aimed at Euclyd. He attempted to block it with his blades and gauntlets, only for Zilya to knock him off his feet, allowing the energy to strike her in the core of her being. Her body tumbled to the ground, where her pink dress was stained and torn for the umpteenth time in their journey. Breath still escaped her lips, and her body spasmed in pain, but it was clear that this blast harmed her greatly, even with the protection of the Radiant Rabbit.

Euclyd: “Zilya!”

As Euclyd rushed toward his sister, his remaining allies looked at Malachi with fury in their eyes, and wasted little time attacking him. Isadore brandished her lance as she shot shards of ice at him. Nuttz grew BIG and pulled out her upgraded manashooter, capable of unleashing bursts of Aero Mana powerful enough to shatter trees. While Kassie summoned a whip of flame and spread fire around their foe, limiting his mobility options, before howling, calling balls of purple homing flames into being.

Malachi, shakily, held off these threats, pulling out his sword as he braced himself using a nearby tree.

Malachi: “Wait! Stop your attacks! This is all a misunderstanding!”

Isadore: “Like HELL I’ll believe you, you dastard! If it is a fight you want, it’s a fight you’ll get!”

Nuttz: “You can say that again! Nobody hurts Zilly and lives! We might not have been ready, but you sure made us!”

Kassie: “I am so goldarn tired, and you just had to get in my way before going to bed. Nobody stops Kassie from sleeping and lives! You’re going down, Malachi! Even if we gotta kill the king!”

‘Malachi’: “I am not Malachi! He took my body for himself, but I have control once more!”

Isadore: “How stupid do you think… Wait— Ceasefire!”

Kassie and Nuttz paused as Isadore gave the order, and once they did, they looked into King Cornelius’s eyes… and found them to be pale, almost white in the dim light of night.

Nuttz: “Wait, if he’s not Malachi, then—”

Before Nuttz could finish that thought, a stream of Radiant Mana burst through the makeshift battlefield, and struck King Cornelius, landing directly in his chest. The mana was powerful, immensely so, and as they looked on at King Cornelius, they saw him standing… with a hole through his chest. Organs were severed and destroyed. Blood was seeping into the ground below. And as this arm-sized hole burnt itself into the three’s eyes, the man they spent the past month trying to save fell to the ground. A dull gasp escaped his lips, but by the time his head struck the grass, he was already dead.

The three slowly turned their heads to the source of this Radiant Mana, and their eyes landed on Zilya. She clenched her staff outward, aimed at her father’s corpse, and looked at the sight with red eyes. Euclyd stood by her side, the horror on his face contrasted by Zilya’s sinister grin.

Before any words could be exchanged, Zilya turned her attention to Euclyd, and struck him with a wave of Umbra Mana, causing him to fly into a tree. 

It was clear to the four what had happened. Malachi had discarded Cornelius’s body… and taken residence within Zilya.

Malachi: “Oh, what a glorious body this is! Mana flows thickly through every vein. For such a frail girl, every inch of her being is frothing with power.”

Isadore: “Get out of her, you bastard! You have already taken one member of the royal family, is that not enough for you, you twisted devil?”

Malachi: “Oh, Isadore. Your powers are so cold, but your passion is so hot. Perhaps that is why the Captain of the Grand Knights was so saddened by your loss.”

Nuttz: “I don’t care if she looks like Zilly! She— erm— he needs to be stopped!”

Nuttz then attacked Malachi with her super-sized manashooter, blasting him with a concentrated burst of Aero Mana… that he absorbed by holding out his hand.

Kassie followed up this attack with a massive sphere of Pyro Mana, but it was cast aside and thrown into the woods with just a flick of his wrist. 

Malachi: “Even with your enhanced powers, you are still NOTHING compared to me!”

From his free hand, Malachi channeled an attack of both Radiant and Umbra Mana. One that blended the forces of light and dark into something all powerful… and sent it flying at the three warrioresses before him. Nuttz shrank down to her usual size before falling into the dirt below. Kassie’s dress became torn and tattered. And even Isadore’s armor became chipped and cracked. They all looked up at Malachi with rage… but that was only to hide the fear they bottled up deep within.

Malachi: “Do not cry, for I could have unmade you all in a single strike. Just as I unmade your king. Fortunately for you, your demise is not what brings me here today. What I came here for… is you, Euclyd.”

Euclyd had found the strength to stand up after being cast aside, and limped his way closer to Malachi, struggling to hold up his sword, let alone swing it.

Euclyd: “M-Me? You took my father and now you stole my sister, and you want ME?”

Malachi: “My skill was aimed at you, after all, and if I could, I would make your form my own here and now! Alas, even the mightiest skills have limits, and I must remain within this form for another month. And it shall be a most enlightening month, that much is for certain.”

Euclyd: “You… So, if I give myself up, will you set Zilya free?”

Malachi: “I shall. I only need one vessel after all. I could capture you now, keep you locked in a dungeon, and watch you all suffer… but I have no need for that. I want to face some resistance as I come to power, and you have utterly failed to deliver on that front. As such, I shall give you one month. One month to hone your powers, and amass an army. Then, if you can make it to my throne room, I shall free Zilya to you… at the cost of your body, my dear, sweet, brother.”

Euclyd: “I am not your brother!”

Malachi: “Oh, how could you be so cruel. To deny our familial bonds after all we have been through! …I have to say, her memories of you are so sweet, they are almost sickening… almost.”

Euclyd looked on at his companions as he deliberated this choice… but there was nothing to deliberate. No way he could refuse. No way he could abandon his sister, his only living relative, someone he knew since the day he had been born. Since the day they had been born.

Euclyd: “In one month, Malachi, I will storm the castle, I will make it to your throne room, and I will save Zilya.”

Malachi: “Ah, so we are in agreement then. Thank you, brother… and please don’t disappoint me this time.”

Chapter 04: Quite A Pickle

A few days after their encounter with Malachi, Euclyd, Isadore, Nuttz, and Kassie made the decision to return to Vulpes Shrine to recuperate and think of a plan. When they arrived, they were met with several newspapers placed along the doorsteps. The newest of which declared that ‘Zilya’ had taken control of the Nether Empire, positioning herself as Empress. It was a sour reminder for the downtrodden quartet, who sat in silence, their table filled with tea and crackers.

Euclyd: “…How are we going to do this?”

Isadore: “With just four people, our only option is to sneak in. That could work, but I am certain that Malachi will have the castle on high alert. And no matter how hard we train, I don’t think we can take on a hundred men, let alone… however many have been enlisted after the draft.”

Nuttz: “Finding Mr. Umbra Avatar is a no-go after Malachi borked up the whole Mana spectrum of the region.”

Kassie: “I know! I can’t go an hour without feeling her Mana!”

Nuttz: “Uh… wait, did we decide if Malachi is a boy or a girl?”

Isadore: “They’re wearing around the body of Zilya and called themself Empress, so I’m guessing they’re a girl now.”

Euclyd: “Their gender does not matter. What matters is that they are continuing to decay the foundation of Radiata. Settlements that sovereign themselves are being forced to swear fealty to the crown or be burnt. Borders that have existed for generations are now being ‘questioned’ as Radiata soldiers occupy beyond the nation’s reach. And all who oppose the state sponsored theft of their crops and labor are cast aside as traitors, forced to act as slaves, or forfeit their life. Just thinking about it makes me so… FURIOUS!”

A frustrated miasma permeated throughout the room. The nation was falling, hope was at an all-time low, and unless they could find a solution quickly, the Venturers of Radiant would be walking into a death trap. They needed something. …And that is when Nuttz slammed her tiny hands on the table.

Nuttz: “PICKLES!”

Isadore: “…What?”

Nuttz: “The Picklekin!”

Isadore: “…Kassie, could you please translate?”

Kassie: “Um… You’ve got me. Nuttz, what are you talking abo—”

Nuttz then left the dining room behind and moved a loose mat from the floor, revealing a door to a basement. She heaved the door open herself, too enthused to ask for help, and flew downstairs. Kassie’s forest green eyes went wide as she saw this, and immediately left her seat to follow her sister. This left Euclyd and Isadore, who joined the two, cautiously entering the hole and traveling down a series of stairs… only to be met with a library.

An expansive hall of books that covered walls and shelves, with what had to be thousands of tomes. All of which looked… pristine. There was not a speck of dust, a single blemish in any of the wooden shelves. Aside from the simple aesthetic of it all, with cobblestone floors and plain woodwork, it looked almost as impressive as the royal library with its upkeep. It was even illuminated by Radiant crystals hanging from the high ceilings, rather than simple torchlight or candlelight.

Euclyd: “You… you had a place like this, hidden all this time?”

Isadore: “I suppose it makes sense. Ricardt was something of a scholar, and despite being a hermit, Cornelius always said he was among the wisest men in the world. And you don’t get a title like that unless you do a LOT of reading.”

The two continued to walk through the library, too sheepish to pick up anything from the shelves, but as Nuttz casually flew around, she let out an excited yelp.

Nuttz:Ah-ha! I found you!”

Nuttz then rushed to a table in the center of this room, where she plopped down a book, no less than five-hundred pages in length, and began flipping through it before finding the section she was looking for.

Nuttz: “Yes! I wasn’t crazy! We can make an army! An army of pickles!

Euclyd: “…Is that supposed to make sense to me, or—”

Kassie: “Oh! Now Kassie remembers! Back when we were little, we got in big trouble with Daddy for using a skill to make all the veggies in our garden come to life!”

Nuttz: “Yeah, Daddy was super mad at us, when we just wanted some friends, since it gets kinda boring just hanging out with your baby sis all ding-dong day!”

Isadore: “…Can I look at the book myself? That will probably be easier than fishing for information with you two.”

Nuttz then fluttered away from the book, allowing Isadore to sit down and examine the pages open. Reading them line by line, her expression growing from skepticism to awe. 

Isadore: “Through a combination of the life-giving properties of Hydro, the energy of Pyro, and the plant enriching Aero, vegetables can be grown into a higher state of being. An autonomous humanoid state, ideal for simple tasks, including farmwork, transportation of goods, mundane labor, and frontline infantry’— this book advocates turning veggies into soldiers?!”

Euclyd: “That sounds too good to be true…”

Nuttz: “Well, buster, it ain’t too good! It’s awesome! Isa, Kass! Isa! This girl needs your power, ‘cos she’s the master of ceremonies!”

With an abrasive attitude, Nuttz carried the book with her as she flew out of the basement. The rest of the Venturers followed behind her as she went through the back door of the shrine… and to a garden. An eight acre large garden that boasted a positively absurd variety of crops, and was built around one of the many rivers that flowed down Mount Rapuken. A river that gave way to a robust irrigation system, bringing the plants a constant and steady supply of water, which explains why they were still alive after being unattended for over a month.

It was a feat of agricultural engineering, and immediately answered the question of where Nuttz planned on getting all the vegetables from.

Isadore: “…Why did you not tell us about the library and garden when we first came here?”

Kassie: “‘Cos we had to save the world, of course! We didn’t have any time for sightseeing!”

Nuttz: “Hush, ladies! Nuttz needs complete concentration as she reads aloud this phrase. One wrong syllable, and we’re toast! And not the good kind with blueberry jam! The kind that’s all burnt because someone made her Pyro crystals too darn strong!”

Kassie: ‘Hey, that was only once— thrice— Well, it was less than… I’m sorry sis.”

Nuttz: “No need for sorries, it’s all water under the bridge, Kass.”

Nuttz then interrupted her thoughts by transforming herself into BIG Nuttz once again, positioning the book on top of her breasts and stretching out her hands.

Nuttz: “Now then, you two ladies grab my hands and lend me your power. ‘Cos we’ve got an army to raise!

With hesitation, Isadore grabbed onto one of Nuttz’s giant-sized hands, while Kassie did the same, but with fire in her eyes. Once the three were joined physically, auras of their respective elements began to glow around their bodies, as Nuttz concentrated, harder and harder, until she uttered the vocal command for this exotic skill.

Nuttz:Comifet Dykedj Beli Bi Dubi Ciffoi Gtoimsd!

Her words caused the wind to go wild, the water of the river to become aggressive, and the heat of the sun overhead to reach a heat only found in the hottest days of summer. For a moment, it looked as is Nuttz had ushered in something apocalyptic, or summoned some manner of demon. Instead, as a minute passed, the signs of disruption faded, and the Mana unleashed by Nuttz began to take its new form.

The vegetables planted in the ground began to shake and wiggle, growing to abnormal sizes within the soil before one, a turnip the size of a head, began to climb out of the soil. As it emerged, the turnip revealed a childlike body, complete with stubby arms and legs, both about half the length of a human being of a similar stature. This turnip creature began a ripple effect, with more vegetable humanoid beings emerging from the soil with every passing second, until the garden had been unrooted, and the four were looking at no less than five-hundred creatures.

As these creatures finished emerging from the ground, Nuttz let go of her allies’ hands and undid her transformation, causing the book to fall from her boobs and onto her head, knocking her down to the dirt.

Nuttz: “Guh! Note to self, do not transform when carrying stuff in your boobs…”

Euclyd: “This… this is amazing. You created all of this life with only a few words?”

Kassie: “That she did. Now, we just need to have someone take control of—”

Isadore: “I’ll take control of them. Unlike you three, I have military experience.”

Nuttz: “…Yeah, that sounds fair. The Picklekin are yours to command.”

Isadore: “Right, you said they were pickles earlier. So, how does that work? Does the vinegar bring them sentience or—”

Nuttz: “It preserves them. Otherwise, they would die in less than a week. Now? They’ll be good for years!

Isadore: “Good to know. Ahem! Picklekin! My name is Isadore Ivalliance, and I am your leader! You are to obey my every command!”

Isadore was greeted with a series of high-pitched chirps from the Picklekins, which mingled into a barrage of noise that sounded like a bunch of toddlers trying to play musical instruments for the first time.

Isadore: “Uh, is there anyway to stop that from—”

Kassie: “Nope. It was bad with just one of them, but now…”

With frustrated sighs, the four Venturers began the process of cataloging what they had, and organizing their newfound troops. What they found is that the Picklekins naturally sorted themselves into groups, and assigned themselves names based on the vegetable they originally were. These included Asparaguu, Beetalu, Berribi, Caulifloo, Carrotto, Cherree, Cucumuu, Grappe, Mushymoo, Onnio, Parshappa, Peachy, Peppero, Radasha, Rhubaroon, Squashly, Totomatt, and Turnurp among others. All of whom only spoke in some combination of high-pitched chirps and their own name. 

They also all shared the same body shape, that of a stout child with tiny arms and feet, with the key differences between them being the color of their bodies and the shape of their heads. From heads of bushy cauliflower to tiny cherries, all were expanded and adjusted to the size of a human head, and, somehow, developed eyes and a mouth at the expected locations. It gave them a cute, childlike, and slightly eerie look

However, of all of these dozens of Picklekins, there was one who stood out to them. One with the head of a pickled cucumber, who called himself Pickalou. He was taller than the others, with longer more vine-like limbs, and as Nuttz looked at him, her brow furrowed.

Nuttz: “This guy… I don’t know about this guy. He seems to have maybe five times as much Mana in him as every other Picklekin, and these vines remind me of… I HAVE AN IDEA!!!”

Isadore: “Your reaction breeds concern… but your last one worked brilliantly, so I’ll bite. What is your idea?”

Nuttz: “So, you know how Malachi wants to steal Euclyd’s body?”

Euclyd: “Yes, about that, I… I am willing to do it, no matter what.”

Isadore: “W-What? Prince, surely you must be kidding.“

Euclyd: “Zilya is my sister. At the start of this journey, I risked my life for her. And I would do it again. Ever since we were born, I have been her protector and defender. Even when we were still barely able to read, I swore to protect her with my life. I did this time and time again. And I stand by that… even now. Even as the only living male heir to the royal family. I would rather die than know that my sister is captured by that… monster. That every day, they are using her body for their nefarious purposes… It enrages me. It sickens me. And I will do anything to free her.”

Nuttz: “Well, lucky for you, Professor Nuttz has a little alternative to your heroic sacrifice. One involving this little buddy.”

Kassie: “Um, but if we try to bring Pickalou with us, I don’t think he’s gonna last long. Vegetables are weak to swords, and if Malachi hit him with anything, he’d probably go splat!”

Nuttz: “…You were a baby when this happened, so I’ll forgive your poor memory.”

Kassie: “Oi! I was five, thank you very much!”

Nuttz: “Right, like I said, a baby! But Picklekins like this have the nifty power to become vegetables again. As an example, Pickalou, go back to your veggie form.”

Pickalou: “Pi-Pi-Lou! ♪”

Pickalou then sucked its body into its head, becoming little more than a giant pickle with a face on it, before shrinking down to the size of a regular pickle, small enough that it fit nicely within one’s hand. He spoke softly as the transformation ended, as both his eyes and mouth remained part of his pickle body. Though, that was not the only un-pickle thing about the smaller Pickalou. In the shrinking process, his body grew peculiar vines from it, ones that squirmed about almost like tiny tentacles.

Isadore: “…How did it get so small?”

Nuttz: “How do I get so big and grow huge boobs when I’m normally so teensy? Mana, baby!”

Euclyd: “Ah, so I suppose we could hide Pickalou with us when going into the castle. He is small enough, but what could he do that we couldn’t?”

As Euclyd voiced his lack of understanding, a troubling expression crept onto Nuttz’s face.

Nuttz: “Heh. Well, it is a bit unorthodox, but I have a plan for us to save Zilya, and you, and defeat Malachi. All thanks to our little pickle friend here!”

Kassie: “Nuttz, that is crazy… but also pretty brilliant in its own way!”

Nuttz: “Yeah, I know, I’m a genius in my spare time.”

Isadore: “Are you both insane?! This is the prince of Radiata we are talking about! How could you expect him to do something so… indecent?”

Euclyd: “Isa, please. I can speak for myself. …And I did mean it when I said I will do anything to free her.”

Isadore: “I guess your love of Zilya really is that strong.”

Euclyd: “My love of Zilya is the strongest I know. She has always been there for me, and I always want to be there for her. I love her, but it is more than that. I love her as my sister, and I love her as I love you three.”

Kassie: “…What does that mean?”

Nuttz: “Uh… after I got BIG for the first time, I sorta thought you might love me that way, but…”

Isadore: “And you did say you wanted to marry me when you were little…”

Kassie: “Uh-oh… Um, girls, am I the only one who… like-likes Euclyd?”

Nuttz and Isadore stared at Kassie, stared at each other, and then all three stared at Euclyd.

Isadore: “I— I think it’s because he’s the only man we had any meaningful interaction with in the past month…”

Kassie: “Or in Kassie and Nuttz’s case, three whole squeakin’ years!”

Euclyd: “Ehehe… I think I see what is going on. Ladies, I am more of a lover than I am a fighter, and after everything we have gone through, I have come to love all of you in your own special way. And it seems you feel similarly. I do not want to change up our relationship when we have such a pivotal goal ahead of us, but once this is all over, I hope to reciprocate my love to you all.”

Nuttz: “…Do you mean sex or—”

Euclyd: “Why, of course!”

Kassie: “W-With all of us?”

Euclyd: “That’s the plan!”

Isadore & Nuttz & Kassie: EEEEEEHHH?!

Chapter 05: True and Terrible Pleasure

A palpable darkness lingered over Radiata City. The capital of the vast nation that had been known as the Kingdom of Radiata for nearly a century, yet in the past two months, it had mutated into the Nether Empire. A tyrannical regime that ruled its citizens without empathy or compassion. Where citizens’ only freedom was to choose submission or death. None among the populus knew how or why this had happened, and ever since the heiress Zilya took the throne last month, things had grown even worse.

People wanted change. They wanted this vile regime toppled and for the order of old to be restored. And that is why no citizens defended the throne when the gates to the capital city were toppled, when the soldiers who treated them with such disdain were attacked by an army of sentient vegetable warriors. Instead, the common people joined these forces and fought off the soldiers themselves, robbing them of their weapons of armor and staging what, from up close and afar, looked to be a revolution.

The uprising within the streets forced guards and soldiers to leave Castle Radiata behind. But in doing so, they opened the proverbial door to the throne’s greatest threat. A small team of four known as the Venturers of Radiant. Their ranks consisted of Euclyd, the traitorous prince who, according to the state, murdered his own father. Isadore, a disgraced Grand Knight who approached her former comrades without a modicum of mercy. Nuttz, a giant Fae whose mastery of Aero Mana sent all opposition flying. And Kassie, a woman who took the form of a giant fox once she entered the halls of the castle, using her size, bestial might, and profoundly powerful Pyro Mana to incapacitate all opposition.

They moved like a force of nature, storming from room to room, floor to floor, and never faltering, no matter how many soldiers were sent their way. All fell, all were left nursing their wounds, and all were in awe at the might of these four.

Through much resolve and efficiency, the Venturers reached their destination. The throne room. Its doors stood tall, and from its cracks, an ominous fog seeped outward, dissuading any but the most determined souls from entering. And Euclyd was one such soul…

Euclyd: “This is it. Once we are through this door, it’s all over. Either we succeed, or we fail.”

Isadore: “We cannot fail. We will succeed!”

Nuttz: “That’s the spirit. There’s nothing we can’t do! And our plan is rock solid, if I do say so myself.”

Kassie: “Enough chatter! My patience is slim while in this form! Open the door, Euclyd!”

Euclyd brought his gauntlet-clad hands to the doors and thrust them open, sending a concussive burst of noise throughout the room before him. From the throne, a dark aura could be felt and seen, pulsating throughout the room and out the castle walls into the sky above. It was a miasma released by none other than Empress Zilya. A once kind and loving woman whose body had been stolen by Malachi— the Destroyer. They had both waited a month for this reunion and now, with both in the same room once more, this conflict would finally come to an end.

In the month they had to settle into this body, Malachi had made it their home and given themself a severe makeover. The flowing blonde hair remained largely untouched, but it was accessorized with a pair of horn-like accessories adorning the head, giving Zilya’s form an almost demon-like silhouette. Their once fair skin was even paler, as if it had not seen sunlight in a month. While radiant blue eyes had been inverted into a vicious scarlet. 

However, the most significant transformation was in their attire. Zilya’s pink and white dress was traded out for a garment colored a royal purple with azure accents. A garment that left little to the imagination. Zilya’s bosom was put on full display, the bulk of her back was laid bare, covered only by her flowing hair, and the front hem of the dress stopped above the knees, revealing a pair of long, slender, legs.

Malachi emerged from the throne and walked to the four, their dainty, slipper-covered feet silent as they walked across the floor, and as they drew closer, a warm smile appeared on their face.

Empress Zilya: “Oh goodness, I can tell that you’re grown so much stronger, brother!”

As Malachi morphed Zilya’s voice, Euclyd paused, momentarily believing this impression, that Zilya had been freed somehow. But then his rational mind reminded him that this was a mere imposter.

Euclyd: “I am not your ‘brother,’ Malachi!”

Nuttz: “Yeah, cut the crap and just Zilly back to us! We had a deal!”

Empress Zilya: “Hmph. Indeed, we did. And despite what you may think about me, I intend to honor my deals.”

Kassie: “Are we seriously doing this? If Malachi wants Euclyd’s body, he wants it for a reason. And we don’t know what that reason even is..”

Isadore: “Kassie’s right. We have grown stronger this past month, and if we fight Malachi here and now—”

Empress Zilya: “Ha! Trying to weasel out of a deal right before the exchange. Yet you call yourself heroes. While it is true I have my own reasons for desiring Euclyd’s body as my own, I would advise you to not aggravate me. My power is still a league beyond yours. Even if you resort to violence, I WILL get what I want.”

Empress Zilya then paused to hold out their hand, summoning a staff. A staff that was a far cry from the wooden one wielded by Zilya. Instead, it was a rod of obsidian, its structure wrapped around a glowing white orb that served as its catalyst.

Empress Zilya: “If you honor our agreement, you all can walk away to live another day. If you choose to fight me, I will use my mastery of Mana to unmake you… and the less said about Zilya’s body, the better.”

Nuttz: “What’re you getting at, chief?”

Empress Zilya: “I am ‘getting at’ the fact that I have made this body my own this past month. I have been using and abusing it for my own gains and pleasure. The strain I’ve put upon it, combined with the strain of battle, might be too much for your dear Zilya. You have two options, Euclyd. Either you try to fight a battle you cannot possibly win, and lose everyone in the process. Or you surrender your body to me. The choice is obvious.”

Isadore: “…Euclyd, are you—”

Euclyd sheathed his sword and walked up to Empress Zilya, a scowl upon his face.

Euclyd: “Very well, I’ll do it.”

Kassie: “What? This wasn’t part of the plan, Euclyd!”

Nuttz: “Yeah, what the heck are you doing? We were supposed to—”

Euclyd: “I cannot take that risk!”

Isadore: “You know Zilya wouldn’t want this. She protected you for a reason. You care for her, but she cares for you just as much, if not more.”

Euclyd: “SHUT UP! This is hard enough without you all guilt tripping me! Malachi, I submit myself to you. My body is yours to do whatever you want with.”

Empress Zilya: “Oh? In that case, there is something I have been dying to do this past month. Come, Prince. Follow me to my bedchambers.”

Isadore: “Bedchambers?! You don’t mean—”

Empress Zilya: “Indeed. If you wish to preserve your sister, the exchange must be performed properly.”

Euclyd: “So in order to get Zilya back, I need to— to—”

Empress Zilya: “Lay in the same bed with me, embrace this body in its purest form in the act of love.”

Kassie: “That’s sick! Sick and wrong!”

Nuttz: “Yeesh! I knew you were one depraved dastard, but this is something else. I don’t even WANT to know what you’ve done to Zilya since you snatched her body.”

Empress Zilya: “Heh. That is my secret to keep. Now then, brother, would you care to join me and reclaim your sister?”

Euclyd: “I… I shall do whatever is necessary to rescue Zilya. I know you might not agree, everyone, but… please.”

The Venturers of Radiant looked on at the prince with forlorn faces. Euclyd had made up his mind, and they knew what would happen if they acted on their emotions and tried to stop him. Either they would be pushed away by the man they followed, or they would be overwhelmed by the power of Malachi. All they could do was stand, watch, and let Euclyd sacrifice himself.

By the time their sorrow gave way to fury, Euclyd had already left the throne room, following behind Malachi. As he ventured down the halls, Euclyd’s metal boots clanged down the barren halls while Malachi’s slipper-clad feet silently brushed along the stone. While walking down these familiar castle halls, Euclyd’s mind played back memories of his youth. Of wandering these halls with his late father and mother. Of playing with his sister. Of learning everything his tutors taught him as he was groomed to one day become the king. They were happier times, and with every passing second spent reminiscing, he became all the more aware of how much had been lost.

It was at the apex of his frustration that Malachi opened the door to Zilya’s bedroom. The sheets, the shelves, the desk she would study and read at, everything was as he remembered it, almost as if it had been placed in a bubble these past two months. Once Euclyd regained his composure, he saw that Malachi had already moved into the room. There, they daintily cast aside the blankets before plopping their womanly form onto the uncovered bedsheets. 

Empress Zilya: “Are you ready to become one with me, dearest brother?”

Euclyd clenched his teeth as he looked over his possessed sister, saying nothing but clearly conveying his disdain through his expression alone.

Empress Zilya: “Oh, are you nervous, Euclyd? Well, don’t worry. It’s a new experience for me too.”

Euclyd: “Zilya… you are my sister. I love you. I swore that I would do anything for you and if this… if this is what is necessary, I’ll do it.”

Empress Zilya: “Thank you, brother. I shall let you take the lead.”

Euclyd: “…The lead?”

Empress Zilya: “Embrace me. Expose me. Make me yours.”

Euclyd: “I… If that is what you desire.”

With narrowed eyes and a clenched face, Euclyd brought his hands to Malachi’s back, where he brushed his metal-clad fingers against the knot that kept the outfit around his sister’s body. Euclyd fumbled for a moment while Malachi smiled in contempt, soaking in the frustration of his future vessel. As Euclyd leaned close to undo the knots, he looked into the face before him, eyes shut, depicting joy, and whispering the word “brother.” Euclyd shook his head, reminding himself that he was looking at a monster. But when he took off the horns adorning their head, he did not see a monster. He only saw Zilya.

Empress Zilya: “We’re almost there, brother!”

Euclyd: “Yeah… We are.”

Shutting his eyes, Euclyd pulled off the dress covering Zilya’s body. His motions were slow, deliberate, and done to avoid any needless touching. Euclyd turned his head and solemnly threw the dress onto a desk, biting his tongue as he slowly returned his vision to look at his unclothed sister, only for his composure to shatter.

He had expected for Zilya’s body to be covered with undergarments, but instead, it was completely nude. Her breasts, her sex, all were laid bare before Euclyd. As he stared at this sight, Malachi brought this body to the bed, where they splayed their legs wide and propped their torso up, practically shoving Zilya’s womanly features into Euclyd’s face. In response, Euclyd turned his head once more and muttered a panicked reply.

Euclyd: “I— I’ll disrobe now.”

Empress Zilya: “Heh. Thank you for helping me, brother. I love you soooo much!”

Euclyd ground his teeth as he heard his sister’s voice to say something so innocent yet perverse. His desire to be rid of Malachi eclipsed all others for a mere moment, causing his hand to drift to his sheathed weapon, but he did not so much as touch it. Instead, he heeded his own words and began to disrobe. His gauntlets, his metal boots, his leather armor, and so forth.

Before too long, the prince was reduced to his naked form. His frame was lean, lacking the refined musculature that one would expect from a knight or imposing ruler. Still, he was inarguably a handsome, well endowed, man. One who looked at the woman before him with an ironclad conviction.

Euclyd: “I’m ready.” 

Empress Zilya: “Oh, but dearest brother, it appears that you forgot something. If you would, kindly.” 

Malachi then raised their feet, revealing their light slippers. With a sigh, Euclyd did as requested, bringing his hands to his sister’s feet. They slid off the skin with ease, and once their feet were freed from their bindings, Malachi celebrated by wiggling their toes in Euclyd’s face, momentarily captivating him as he saw just how dainty they were. He shook his head as he realized this, and treated the slippers like the rest of Malachi’s attire, flinging it to the other side of the room without any care. With the final article of clothing discarded, Euclyd gulped and spoke once more.

Euclyd: “So, how do we…”

Empress Zilya: “You get in the bed with me, and place yourself inside of me. Are you truly that innocent, Euclyd?”

Euclyd: “I… in a sense, I suppose. This is… far different from any lecture I received. Especially because it’s with…”

Empress Zilya: “Your darling sister?”

Euclyd: “…Yes. That and… so much more.”

Empress Zilya: “Oh, then perhaps you would like me to take the lead?”

Euclyd: “I… No, I can do this myself. For Zilya, there is nothing I can’t and won’t do!”

Filled with determination, the prince focused his vision and looked at his sister’s manipulated and stolen form in every detail. Her clean, soft, and fair complexion, as pure as it ever was. The supple curvature of her developed form, from her face to her slender limbs, and most especially her unbound, plentiful breasts. He looked deep at the signs that she was no longer the young girl he spent his days with, at the womanhood displayed between her legs. A small puffy pink slit that allowed a man to enter her, and the point from which all human life began. 

Euclyd momentarily shifted his attention away from the womanly form before him, glancing at his door, still open slightly. The option to flee and try to fight again another day was available, at least in theory. But he could not abandon Zilya now, even if the only way to save her involved engaging in… this. He wished there was some way to gain his sister’s consent, but with her mind locked away, that was not an option. And with his goal splayed so gracefully before him, he had little choice but to pursue it.

Euclyd: “Zilya, I’m sorry! I’m sorry for everything! But this is the only way!”

As Euclyd made his declaration, speaking to the woman trapped within her own body, he thrust himself onto the bed and into his twin sister. His penis had grown erect from the anticipation, and it slid into Zilya with ease. Immediately, he felt the tension of her body wrap around him, comforting him as he began to trust himself in and out, searching for the correct rhythm. For his efforts, he was rewarded with the sounds of his sister’s delicate voice. The tattered panting, the fragmentary praise, and the very sounds of pleasure.

Empress Zilya:Brother, thank you! Thank you Euclyd! I love you so much!”

These words caused Euclyd’s body to tense. They were the words that any lover would want to hear from their partner when in the throes of sex, but he knew they were insincere. No matter who the woman before him appeared to be, he knew her words were that of Malachi. That they were deriving pleasure from every aspect of this situation. It was enough for Euclyd to shut his eyes in protest… only for Malachi to bring a slender hand to Euclyd’s soft boyish face.

Empress Zilya: “Look at me, brother! Look at your lover!”

Euclyd steadily opened his eyes. He saw sister’s body in the midst of copulation, her body vibrating, her breasts gyrating, and her mouth open, releasing bursts of hot air that he could feel against his face. Tears escaped his eyes as he saw this sight, but before his tears could pass his cheeks, they were wiped away by Malachi, who locked eyes with Euclyd once more.

Empress Zilya: “Touch me, brother. Truly embrace me!”

Malachi then grabbed onto Euclyd’s torso, thrusting him down into his bed as their chests touched and faces pressed against one another. The slender arms of Zilya wrapped across Euclyd’s broad and strong back, locking the two together as they continued to look into one another’s eyes.

Euclyd: “Please, Zily— I mean—”

Empress Zilya: “It’s okay, brother. For now, I AM Zilya. Of course you can call me by my name.”

While the prince recoiled from the faux sincerity of Malachi, he found his lips sealed, embraced in a prolonged kiss wherein his mouth was invaded by a stolen tongue. Once this happened, once the two became wrapped in one, once Euclyd’s nipples brushed against Zilya’s, and once Zilya’s hips began churning, practically begging for his penis, something within Euclyd cracked. He had been disgusted by the fact he was having sex with Malachi. Enraged at their audacity in robbing his sister of her identity. But the less he thought about that, the more he realized what he was doing. Making love to his sister… 

With this revelation, a fire was lit from within Euclyd, and the once passive and hesitant young man became a dominant force. He invaded the mouth of Malachi, who unleashed a muffled chortle in response. As their kiss intensified, so too did Euclyd’s thrusts, his member growing harder, and his hips thrusting faster.

Empress Zilya: “I often made pleasure to this body during times of respite, but this… this is of another caliber.”

As Euclyd lost himself in the act, heeding Malachi’s advances, he felt a sensation reverberating throughout his lower regions. The climax was near, in more ways than one. As he felt this happening, his body stiffened, his lips left that of his sister, and his face contorted into a scowl as he shouted at the heavens.

Euclyd: “THIS ENDS NOW!”

As Euclyd’s cry resonated throughout the room, he unleashed himself, ejaculating inside of Zilya’s stolen body. With this, the act of coitus was complete, Malachi’s plan had reached its next stage, and the souls of the two persons in the bed began to loosen. 

Euclyd’s essence became slacken and malleable, allowing Malachi, the living miasma he was, to claim the vessel for himself. They pushed Euclyd out of his body and into that of Zilya. This was not a mere possession, as Malachi had done previously. Instead, Malachi had become the sole occupant of Euclyd’s body, fully claiming it for themself.

Euclyd’s body then reopened its eyes, revealing that its emerald green irises had transformed into a ruby red.

Malachi: “Hahahaha! Yes! After all these years, I finally have the power of the blessed one!”

Malachi then looked down at the body of Zilya, the body that now contained two souls, yet lacked the strength to do much more but stare at Malachi with a weak expression.

Malachi removed himself from Zilya, ripping his penis out of the semen-filled vagina of his former vessel, fluids overflowing from it and onto the sheets. But as Malachi stepped out of bed, he found himself tumbling on the floor, unable to bring his spry male body upwards despite his efforts.

Malachi: “Damn! What the HELL is this? Is this a—”

Malachi’s speech was then interrupted by a sound of laughter coming from the bed. It was Zilya. Or rather, Euclyd from within Zilya’s body.

Euclyd: “How fortuitous that even a being as mighty as you is susceptible to a folly as petty as lust. I suggest you examine what you stole in greater detail.”

Malachi darted his crimson eyes away from the bed and down at the body he now called his home. Its chest was flat, possessed lean musculature, and was devoid of any bodily hair. There were no blemishes or wounds more severe than slight bruises… but then he felt it. Something had been lodged up his butt, into his anus. Something large and thick. Taking a hand to investigate, he found a vibrant green vine. A vine that went beneath the bed. His body weak, Malachi crawled on his chest to lift the bed skirt that hid what this vine led to… and what he saw was… a vegetable. 

A being not animal, human, nor demihuman. It was a plant, with a large head the shape of a cucumber, stubby limbs, and a stout torso. It moved, it had eyes, it had a mouth, and it looked at Malachi with glee as it flaunted one of its arms. An arm that was connected to the vine lodged up Malachi’s anus. 

Euclyd: “Pickalou! Please! Finish the Soul Transfer! Now!” 

Pickalou: “Pi pi ka-loo! ♪”

Malachi glared at the creature before him, halfway under the bed, as he felt a building pressure in his rectum, something leaching into his prostate and crawled up through to his spine. Malachi’s limited mobility was reduced to nothingness within a matter of seconds, and his grasp over the body of Euclyd dissipated away. His vision became blurry, hearing muted, and the sense of soreness across his being was replaced with nothingness. However, it did not remain that way for very long. 

Malachi’s senses returned just as soon as they had left, but they were all… wrong. He felt small. He could not feel his fingers, and his proportions were… simply inhuman. The only reason he did not immediately piece together what was going on was due to how piteous his situation was. Within a matter of a few seconds, he— the Destroyer— had become a goldarn pickle!

Malachi: “Loo-loo? Pi? Pike-piku!”

As Malachi examined his new vessel, he looked at the one he had for only a matter of seconds. Euclyd’s body, naked, and lying across the carpeted floor. They looked at Malachi with bright green eyes and a smile before speaking.

Pickalou: “Pick-a-loo… got-a-loo! ♪” 

Malachi then saw Pickalou pull the vine from out of his butthole, throwing it onto the floor. Though Malachi tried to move this vine connected to his body, his attempts proved futile, and the limb remained limp.

Malachi: “Pi… Ku pi pi!”

Malachi rolled himself from under the bed and began to flail their tiny body at Pickalou in Euclyd’s body, but his actions proved to be utterly ineffective. In response, Pickalou grabbed his former body, and tossed it halfway across the room, where it slammed against a dresser.

Malachi: “Ka-loo! ♪”

Malachi fell to the ground like a vegetable, vinegar splattering all over the furniture and seeping into the carpet below.

Euclyd: “Good work Pickalou… NOW! Isadore, Nuttz, Kassie! Get in here and kill Malachi!

As Euclyd uttered those words from his sister’s mouth, the door to the bedroom slammed open, and from it came the other three Venturers of Radiant. Nuttz was small and Kassie was humanoid once more, but all had their weapons drawn, and all glared at Malachi as he tried to stand up using his tiny Picklekin body.

Isadore: “So, girls… how would you like to kill this bastard?”

Nuttz & Kassie: “WITH FIRE!!!”

Before Malachi could even think of a way to evade these three women, Isadore grabbed Malachi by the head and tossed him outside the carpeted bedroom into the stone hallway, where his body squished against yet another wall. Before he could even try to get up, Kassie flung a fireball his way, and his plant-based body immediately ignited in flames.

Malachi: “PI KU! PI PI LOO!”

Malachi attempted to roll on the stone floor as the flames gnawed at his body, only for Nuttz to pull out her manashooter and assault him with air, empowering the flames and planting holes in his soft Picklekin body.

With his head cracked, body filled with holes, and the burning showing zero signs of stopping, Isadore walked toward him with her spear, and pounded it directly through his face. His mouth and eyes were decimated, and his entire head was split in two. 

Malachi was dead. And his latest vessel was burning before the heroes he so effortlessly defeated with a single strike just one month ago.

Isadore: “…So, is that it? He’s not going to come and attack us as a spirit or anything?”

Kassie: “No way! His spirit’s been bopping around so much, it can’t sustain itself.”

As the two continued to converse, Malachi’s body had been reduced to little more than charred, blackened remains, causing the intense flames to fade into nothingness.

Nuttz: “On that note, what should I do with this nasty, nasty boy?”

Nuttz then manipulated the air around the charcoal husk of Malachi, trapping him into a tightly bound sphere of wind, where his body quickly crumbled into ash.

Nuttz: “…For the record, I knew that was gonna happen.”

Isadore: “Sure you did, dear…”

Kassie: “S-So, where should we put him then?”

Isadore: “Nowhere. If he is nothing but ash, the best thing to do is spread the ash and let him spread to the winds. In due time, a hundred remnants shall become a thousand and a thousand shall become ten thousand. Soon enough, he will be absorbed by the earth, and become Mana.”

Nuttz: “And you’re a hundred percent sure he won’t manage to amass power and cover the world with a hundred control spires before regaining not only their true form, but one more powerful than ever?”

Kassie: “Sounds like someone’s been reading too many light novels!”

Nuttz: “Hey! I’ll have you know they were regular novels!”

Isadore: “Novels you could get for a single bronze coin, I bet.”

Nuttz: “Grr! We shall have a fierce debate about the merits of all literature once I am back. Kassie! Follow me outside and let’s re-explode these bits!”

Kassie: “Aw, but I wanted to see—”

Nuttz: “Euclyd needs to rest, and I need to watch something go KABOOM! Help your sissy or fear her wrath!”

Kassie: “…Oookay.”

With a forlorn expression, Kassie followed Nuttz as she flew out the nearest window to distribute the ashes of the Destroyer. With them gone, Isadore was left alone in the hallway, staring into Euclyd’s bedroom. 

On the floor, she saw the body of Euclyd, bereft of clothing, with eyes colored a pale green. He was examining his own person with an elated look on his face as he wagged his fingers, wiggled his toes, and looked down at the erect appendage that laid between his legs. The sight made Isadore’s eyes widen for a multitude of reasons, but for as much as she wanted to discipline the vegetable turned human, she knew her attention ought to lie elsewhere.

On the bed, she saw the naked body of Zilya, her eyes green, face covered in dried tears, body doused in sweat, and a mass of semen flowing out of her vagina and onto the sheets she laid upon. It was a shocking sight to behold, but less shocking than the fact that both Euclyd and Zilya resided within her body.

Isadore: “I’m so, so sorry you two. Can… can you hear me?”

Zilya’s body nudged in bed before opening its blue eyes to look up at Isadore. 

Euclyd: “I… I can hear you, Isadore. Tell me… did the plan work?”

Isadore: “It did. We did not expect you to end up like this, but… I suppose this is still a success. Malachi was trapped in the body of Pickalou, and his ashes are being spread by Nuttz and Kassie as we speak.”

Euclyd: “Good… So, that’s it then? We won?”

Isadore: “Indeed we did, my prince. I can tell you are tired, and I do not want you to do anything more than rest at the moment. Allow us to return order to the kingdom in your stead.”

Pickalou: “Loo-da-chu! Piacklou koo help-a-loo! ♪”

As Isadore heard Euclyd’s voice used to speak what sounded like baby talk, she couldn’t help but turn her head at Euclyd’s body, occupied by Pickalou, who was standing up, still naked, with his penis erect. This sight, combined with Pickalou’s happy-go-lucky expression, was a surreal tonal twist after everything she had been through, but somehow that was not the weirdest part. It was that this vegetable could talk.

Isadore: “…Okay, I know we didn’t go over the whole Pickalou possessing Euclyd thing, but I did not expect you to be able to speak just like that.”

Pickalou: “Pi-fuu is fu-loo surpr-ickles!”

Isadore: “I’ll… help you later. Just… don’t play around with the prince’s body too much.”

Isadore then turned over to Zilya’s body once more, and it hurt her deeply to see a princess like her in such a sorry state. Using a rag she kept on her person and some water manipulated through Hydro Mana, she cleaned away the sweat from the body… along with the semen gushing out her labia.

With the current body of Euclyd and Zilya moderately clean, Isadore ruffled through the dresser for a set of smallclothes to retain some of the princess’ bodily decency. Once Euclyd was left fully clothed, he let out a small moan, before being covered up by a blanket cast upon him by Isadore. As the warmth began to return to him, Euclyd offered Isadore a sincere smile. 

Euclyd: “Thank you, Isa. For almost my entire life, you have always been there to protect me. You’ve done so much for me that… I wonder if I could ever repay you for your endless acts of kindness.”

Isadore: “P-Please, my prince. It is my duty to serve the royal family. I chose this life for myself, and I do not want you to repay me. Simply leading the country should be enough.”

Euclyd: “Heh. That’s right. With my father gone, the title of king falls to me. …I don’t think that I’m ready, but… I guess that is merely another challenge for me to overcome. For the time being though, I suppose Zilya and I will need to pose as a reformed Empress. One who followed her father upon his death, only to realize the error of his ways. I hope that, with time, this can all become a distant memory.”

Isadore: “And this is why I follow you. Because you have a righteous heart, a strong sense of duty, and the necessary optimism to make the world a better place. Rest well, Euclyd. By the time you awaken, I shall have the… unpleasantries cleaned from your room, and a hot meal ready for you.”

Isadore then bent down to plant a kiss on Euclyd’s forehead. Or at least, that’s what she thought of it as. A light chuckle escaped Euclyd’s lips as he felt the tingly sensation through his borrowed face, before his eyes shuttered.

With her prince, and princess, both asleep, Isadore tidied up the room. Cleaning up the clothing strewn about, washing away the various stains left by Malachi, and escorting the zealous Pickalou to a ‘safer’ place for him to ‘experiment.’ 

Once the room had been cleaned, Isadore looked it over. She was no maid, but she still took pride in all of her knightly duties, and no matter the circumstance, Zilya’s sleeping face always filled her with joy. 

She then left the room with a satisfied sigh… only for her to be struck down to the floor.

Euclyd awoke in a place cold and desolate. The air was thick with a violet miasma. His surroundings consisted of coarse stones. And as he looked down, he saw his own body once again. 

Euclyd: “So… this must be some sort of… dream.”

Euclyd slowly stumbled throughout this darkness. With each step, the darkness dissipated, and as his pace continued, he saw radiant lights shining across the horizon. Confused and desperate for direction, Euclyd wandered towards the brightness and was met with the sight of the one he cherished more than any other. A young blonde woman in a beautiful pink and white dress, kneeling with a staff between her hands.

Euclyd: “Zilya!”

Upon hearing her name, Zilya turned her head, her face shimmering as her eyes landed on her brother. The two met one another with open arms, spinning and pressing themselves against one another as they were reunited once more.

Zilya: “Euclyd! It’s been so long, and now… now…”

As Zilya spoke, her brother’s grip on her tightened.

Euclyd: “Zilya… I must apologize. I used you. I used your body without your consent, and then I… stole it for myself. I always loved you, and I care for you so deeply, but I never—”

Zilya: “Brother, you saved me! Without you, I would have spent the rest of my life as Malachi’s puppet. You freed me of him! You destroyed him! You did so much for me, expressed such bravery, that no matter what you did to me… I could never hope to hate you, Euclyd. You are my brother. And… I love you! I always loved you! And… I loved what you did to me. I felt everything. As you… made love with me, Malachi made certain that I felt everything. He wanted to break me, but I didn’t break. If anything, it just confirmed the feelings I have been mulling over for so long.”

Euclyd: “Zilya, I… do you mean to say you love me as a brother or—”

Zilya: “I love you as a MAN! I want to be with you both in body and mind. After what you did to my body, I… want to try it again, except this time, with both of us able to enjoy it. Whenever I thought about giving up, you kept me going. I believed in you, I put all my faith in your ability, and you did it. I thought about you so much that… I reached this conclusion. I know it’s wrong, it’s indecent, but I— I just don’t want to repress it. I don’t want to repress anything. And that is why I need to ask you something, brother.” 

As Zilya said that, Euclyd turned his head away. Zilya thought she knew the answer from that gesture alone, but she asked anyway.”

Zilya: “Euclyd, do you love me… as a woman?”

Every second was a small eternity as Zilya awaited her answer…

Euclyd: “…Zilya, I… I do. I’ve loved you as a woman for… for as long as I can remember.”

Zilya thrust herself at Euclyd, planting her lips against his, and he reciprocated her affection, wrapping his arms around her and allowing their tongues to mingle. Unlike last time, their actions felt pure. There was no doubt or deception to cloud their feelings. No sense of shame or sorrow. No worry about breaking some taboo.

Because… none of that mattered now. All that mattered to them is that they were two people who loved one another.

Zilya: “Thank you, Euclyd. Thank you for accepting me.”

Euclyd: “I should be the one thanking you, Zilya. Our relationship is a fragile thing. We have always been together, always been a pair. I harbored these feelings for so long, and now that I can share them with you… I feel lighter than air.”

Zilya: “The feeling is mutual, brother. I know not how our friends or how our countrymen will take to this news if— when they find out… but it matters not.”

Euclyd: “All that matters is that we are together once more… even if it means we are currently bound in the same body… for the next month or so.”

Zilya: “Heh. …Well, that doesn’t need to be a bad thing, right? For as much as I loathe Malachi, and I detest him for using my body, he did show me pleasures beyond my imagination. And once we recover from our fatigue… I would like to share these pleasures with you, Euclyd.”

Euclyd: “You… you would do such things while we share your body?”

Zilya: “No, silly. We will do them… together.”

As Zilya clenched Euclyd’s hands, the brightness of this world of dreams began to fade, and with their time together nearing its end, the two brought their lips together once more.

As Euclyd fluttered open his borrowed eyelids, the sights he saw were far from what he expected. Instead of his bedchamber’s ceiling, he was met with a cloudy orange sky, brown mountains, and a gust of chilling wind. He groaned as he looked over this sight, releasing disjointed syllables as he sorted out his thoughts, only to have his attention redirected once more as an unfamiliar voice spoke to him from behind. 

???: “I see you are finally awake.”

With a girlish gasp, Euclyd turned his head and looked on at the speaker. He was a man dressed in dark leather armor, covered by a black cloak. His hair was short, dark, and spiky, his face beyond pale, and his eyes a piercing yellow. He was imposing, but as Euclyd looked on at him, he realized that this man had his face. From the brow to the nose to the curvature of his chin and cheekbones. 

He looked on at Euclyd, still confined in Zilya’s body, with an apathetic and tired expression, before grabbing his small shoulder. The man’s face then morphed into a small smile, while fear painted Euclyd’s.

???: “My name is Dyre, and I… am your brother.”

Chapter 06: Brother and Sister

Euclyd and Zilya stared down at their naked body, slowly caressing their hands over every inch of their person. From their limber neck to their thin soft arms, to the exhilarating curvature as their waist gave way to their hips. Every new inch explored made their body hotter, made their breathing faster, and made their vulva grow moist with anticipation. All until it was too much for the two to bear, and they brought their right hand to their sex.

Zilya: “Now Euclyd, you want to use two fingers to enter yourself, and use your thumb to stimulate the clitoris.”

Euclyd: “Y-You’re supposed to put two f-fingers in there?”

Zilya: “Please, Euclyd. You put your entire penis in there, and it was far bigger than two of our fingers.”

With shaky hands, Euclyd did as Zilya requested, moving their shared fingers deeper into their person, past their vulva and into the core of their sex. His actions were slow and tepid, but rather than growing frustrated, Zilya only giggled.

Zilya: “Hehehe! It feels kind of nice when it’s so slow.”

Euclyd: “I-I think that’s as far as they—”

Zilya: “Oh please, we’re not even close, Euclyd! Keep going, and remember, if it feels ‘weird,’ that means you should do it!”

Euclyd made their shared body take a deep breath before heeding Zilya’s advice, and thrusting two fingers in as far as they could go. 

Euclyd: “KYAAA! Oh my goodness! Is this how it always feels for you, Zilya?”

Zilya: “N-Not quite. It’s just… different with your technique. And knowing that you’re here with me, brother, that makes it a lot better.”

Before Euclyd could recover from this bursting new sensation, Zilya moved their left hand, reaching for their clitoris.

Zilya: “Now, you want to be very gentle with your clitoris, brother. They say it’s kind of like a penis, but all the pressure points are condensed into one little nub. Just give it small little rubs like so, and let the sensations wash over you.”

Euclyd stopped listening to his sister’s words after the first sentence. The feeling of two fingers lodged inside of his body and the massaging of his clitoris dominated all his senses. He felt like he could stay like this for hours, but curiosity and lust are powerful things, and urged him to thrust his fingers in and out. Zilya guided him, helping him find the right tempo as he adjusted the pace and angle of his digits. Then, once he found the tendermost spot amongst his folds, he felt a burst of electricity flow throughout his entire skeleton, before returning to his crotch.

Euclyd: “KYYYAAAAAA!!!”

Their body lurched backwards, falling onto their bed. Their rapid breathing had become relentless, but as their chest bobbed up and down, they felt nothing more than utter pleasure.

Euclyd: “That… That was… the BEST!”

Euclyd then saw their left hand rise to their eyes, its fingers dripping with a translucent substance with a mild sweet scent.

Zilya: “Hehehe! So, I take it you liked your first climax as a girl.”

Euclyd: “I can’t say I had too many as a boy, but that… it felt like I was orgasming with the whole of my body, not just my penis. It was not as… focused, but the sensation was far… larger. Far more.”

Zilya: “And that, Euclyd, is what I felt when I was with you… when Malachi was using my body for their own purposes. I’m glad that I was able to share this with you as… I doubt many lovers have ever had the chance to experience this.”

Euclyd: “Heh. So, is that what we are now? Lovers?”

Zilya: “We love each other and… we just made love together. Or, at least, as close as we can at the moment.”

Euclyd: “…And you said you can do this several times a night?”

Zilya: “When Malachi was possessing me, he did… and every night, every passing orgasm, felt greater than the last.”

Euclyd paused before responding, choosing which path to take in this conversation…. And he chose the path away from the Destroyer.

Euclyd: “You mean to say… it gets better? The good news just keeps on rolling in! If this keeps up… I might not even want to go back! Hahaha!”

Zilya: “W-Well, if we can pinpoint how Malachi did this, this might not need to be a one-time exchange.”

Euclyd: “I… I’m just kidding, Zilya. As much as I love this, as much as I love sharing this body with you, I have greater responsibilities. Someone needs to lead Radiata. I would not want to cast that burden upon your shoulders, or entrust it to a foreign king.”

Zilya: “Hehehe! Even the power of lust is not enough to dissuade your sense of duty. This is one of the many reasons I love you so, dearest brother.”

Euclyd: “And your comforting nature is one of the myriad reasons I love you, precious sister.”

As they complimented each other, they heard a groaning sound from outside of their tent. The two then immediately paused, and glanced away from their bedding to the smallclothes they discarded at the beginning of this ‘session.’ The two swiftly put them on before they ran out of the tent and to the campsite. One with a simple flame that burned with enough kindling to last the night, and two small tents, their designs plain and innocuous.

It was a familiar sight to the two, one near identical to the numerous campsites the Venturers of Radiant established during their quest for the Elemental Beasts. As they looked around the campsite, they saw someone who they could only tacitly call a ‘companion.’ The man with spiky black hair and black armor. The man with the same face as Euclyd’s body. Dyre.

…Except, he was awfully close to Euclyd and Zilya’s tent. And as the two gazed upon him with their shared eyes, they noticed his hand was in his pants, positioned around his crotch.

Zilya: “…You CREEP!”

Zilya then moved her hand, slapping Dyre in the face. Despite having put the whole of her strength into this strike, he was barely phased. 

Before Zilya could say anything else, Euclyd took control, and their shared expression shifted from rage to confusion.

Euclyd: “W-Wait, I’m sure there is some explanation for this. B-Besides, it’s not like he was u-using us or—”

Dyre took his hand out of his crotch and glared down at Zilya’s body.

Dyre: “I had every intention of sleeping, but it is hard to sleep when someone five meters away is loudly masturbating! You should be happy I didn’t come in and rape you.”

Zilya: “You would DARE to rape the princess of Radiata?! You lecherous cur! 

Euclyd: “P-Please, Zilya, I’m sure there is a better way to handle this situation… even if Dyre is more than a little crass.”

Dyre: “…It is beyond frustrating to deal with someone who changes their persona every other sentence.”

Euclyd: “L-Look, I know we got off on the wrong foot after this whole kidnapping thing, so could we try to talk it out? You said you would explain everything later, and it has been two days, so…”

Dyre looked at Euclyd with fury in his eyes, before sighing and sitting down near the campfire, planting his bottom on a log. Despite Zilya’s initial resistance, Euclyd moved their body and sat across from Dyre. Several seconds of silence lingered as Dyre stared at the person in front of him, before he finally spoke and began his story.

Dyre: “I’ll start with one of your first questions. ‘How am I your brother?’ The truth is that you two were not born as twins, but rather triplets. Our mother gave birth to three children. Two of them were the picture of health, but another, the one born last, was sickly and weak. As physicians examined him, they determined his soul was cursed by one of the servants of Malachi. The Nether Dragon. A beast who would one day use the child’s body as a catalyst for its reawakening, killing the child and ushering in an era of destruction.”

Dyre: “At three-months-old, the cursed child was executed by two of King Cornelius’s most trusted advisors. Isaac Ivalliance and Ricardt Vulpes. One rainy winter night, the two traveled to the most isolated part of Mount Rapuken. There, they severed the infant’s head, burying it and the rest of his body in separate graves. The child died then, but his soul did not return to mana. The Nether Dragon had claimed a vessel, and it would not allow this vessel to die. No matter what.”

Dyre: “The following morning, the child emerged from the mud and breathed life anew. He had been resurrected by the Nether Dragon, but his body was no longer the same. His red hair had darkened to black. His skin became eternally pale, regardless of how many days upon weeks he spent in the sun. And his bright turquoise eyes became a sickly yellow.”

Dyre: “After spending several hours alone, crying in a puddle of mud, the child was discovered by a group of mercenaries. A coalition of men and women who raised the child with love… until he turned six, when he was deemed ‘old enough to work.'”

Dyre sighed and looked beyond Euclyd and Zilya as he finished this look back at the past, before returning his yellow eyes to them. A look of concern was on their face, but not disbelief.

Dyre: “For fourteen years, I worked as a mercenary. I traveled across the continent several times over, saw sights beyond my wildest dreams, but I also suffered deaths upon deaths. How many times I died in battle, I cannot recall. But no matter what, I would be revived the next day.”

Euclyd: “…So, you mean to say that, in addition to being our long-lost sibling, you’re immortal?”

Dyre: “I would not phrase it that way. For I know I only have a limited time left before the Nether Dragon will take hold of my body.”

Euclyd: “And how do you know that?”

Dyre: “The Dragon speaks to me within my dreams. It is the one who told me of my past, and every time I sought to verify its claims, I discovered them to be true. But even if I did not see the dragon in my dreams, its dominance is plain to see.”

Dyre then took off his jacket and armor, revealing his bare chest… or as bare as it could be. Half of his chest was covered in black scales. Thick dense scales that were unlike anything found on any common animal. Scales that could only belong to a dragon.

Dyre: “These scales have begun taking hold of my body since I became an adult, and I do not have much time before they overwhelm my entire body. Once they do, the Nether Dragon will use my body as a catalyst for its reawakening. Once that happens, I dread to imagine what will become of this world.”

Zilya: “…How much longer do you have?”

Dyre: “At worst, a month, at best, another season.”

Euclyd: “And this is why you captured Zilya and I?”

Dyre: “I only meant to capture Zilya. You, Euclyd, were an unexpected victim.”

Zilya: “Can I banish the Nether Dragon with my Radiant Mana? I must admit, my full strength has yet to return to me, but—”

Dyre: “Close, but not quite. I trust you are familiar with Yggdrasil?”

Euclyd: “The world tree, located at the top of the world, and the nexus of all Mana? We, of course, know about it, but we are far from experts.”

Dyre: “I see. Well, there is more to it than that. I have consulted many scholars for advice, and through their collective wisdom, I believe I found a cure. They said that at the height of Yggdrasil, one may pray and be blessed by Akupara. There are historical accounts of people going there to restore limbs, regain their youth, and heal themselves of any manner of illnesses. There once was a priestess at the top of Yggdrasil who aided the people of Gaia in praying, using her Mana to amplify their prayers so they could reach Akupara.”

Zilya: “…Then what happened?”

Dyre: “Yggdrasil was seized by an invading force who wished to hoard these blessings for themselves. They believed that Akupara would confer upon them the power to rule the world. They were naught but fools. Radical zealots who were blind to reason and the teachings of Akupara. For their avarice, for daring to spill blood within its domain, Yggdrasil closed itself from humanity, filling its body with beasts and hazards. Since then, the tree has been a destination for countless adventurers and warriors. Yet there is no recorded evidence of any returning from their venture.”

Euclyd: “So, you kidnapped us for two reasons.”

Dyre: “Yes. I need an exceptionally powerful Mana user to send my prayers to Akupara, as they are the only hope I have of ridding myself of the Nether Dragon’s curse. However, I also need an ally to assist me in my journey through Yggdrasil.”

Zilya: “Is this also the reason why you became the Umbra Avatar?”

Dyre: “Indeed. While I gained ample experience and strength through my time as a mercenary, I needed all the help I could get if I wanted to stand a chance within the heartwood of Yggdrasil.”

Euclyd: “…You know, Dyre, you could have just asked us for help.”

As Euclyd made his point, Dyre stood up, his body tall and imposing compared to the vessel of Euclyd and Zilya. Their body tensed as he looked down at them, only for Dyre to lower himself, getting down on his knees and planting his head into the dirt.

Dyre: “You speak the truth. I am sorry. It was wrong of me to abduct you as I did, and I should have asked for your aid… but I could not trust you.”

Dyre then stood up and returned to his seat, a forlorn expression still lingering upon his face.

Zilya: “W-Why? I know that the Nether Empire branded us as traitors, but—”

Dyre: “That has nothing to do with it. The man who ordered my execution was your father. The men who carried out my execution were the fathers of your three closest allies. …Need I say more?”

Euclyd: “No, I suppose not. You did not know if we knew of you, or if we were told lies about you. So you monitored us from afar, and you struck us when we were most vulnerable.”

Dyre: “Precisely. I am not proud of such underhanded tactics, and for my transgressions, I shall submit myself to the two of you. Whatever you want from me, whether it be a lifetime of servitude, or a life of imprisonment, I shall accept it. So long as I can rid myself of my curse.”

Zilya: “…Dyre, I am sorry for judging you. When I first saw you, I assumed you to be a mere thug. Someone who kidnapped us for gold or something equally petty. But despite your dark exterior, you are truly a kind soul.”

Dyre: “…Did you forget that I was masturbating to you mere minutes ago?”

Zilya: “Heh. It would be hardly fair for me to judge one of my brothers for finding me sexually desirable, considering what Euclyd and I have done together. Considering that… we are in love!”

Euclyd: “Hehehe. As you probably could have gathered, she was showing me the… pleasures of her body, since we’re going to be like this for quite a while. In fact… Zilya, would you be opposed to—”

Zilya: “—We have already crossed that line and dove of incest, so no. And as you know, I had certain… urges around him over the past two days.”

Dyre: “You… You aren’t saying that—”

Euclyd & Zilya: “We would like to make love with you!”

Dyre looked at his siblings with widened eyes, shocked at how much the tone of this conversation changed over these past few minutes. They had gone from abductor and abductee to… something far less more complex..

Dyre: “I… Hahaha! I must say, I could have never expected things to end this way… and I must inform you that I know precious little of sex. I had seen much during my time as a mercenary, as those I served alongside frequently used sex to relieve stress. But I never felt I could show someone my scale-infested body and expect them to look at me with even a flake of sexual desire.”

Zilya: “Well, so long as your penis isn’t covered in scales—”

Euclyd: “Zilya!”

Zilya: “Trust me, you do not want to be penetrated by something that’s actually rock hard…”

Dyre: “Fortunately, the curse has not spread to my loins.”

Zilya: “Good! Then I guess it’s settled. Follow us into our tent, and we’ll take your virginity!”

Dyre: “…For a princess, you sure are chipper about this.”

Euclyd: “She, um, went through a lot with Malachi. I— I swear she didn’t used to be like this.”

Zilya: “I can speak for myself, thank you very much, brother! Now then, other brother, let’s not dawdle!”

Zilya then cast off her smallclothes and scurried into her tent, gesturing at Dyre to come join her. Seconds later, Dyre followed, and was met with the sight of Zilya’s naked body. He immediately turned his head, blushing as he averted his gaze.

Euclyd: “Heh. It’s cute seeing someone as intimidating as you get all frazzled at something as simple as nudity. As Zilya would say, there is nothing shameful here. We’re all adults, eager to enjoy each other.”

Dyre: “I… I know that much, but… if you wish to call this off after seeing my body—”

Zilya: “Just strip, you virgin!”

With a forced chuckle, Dyre did as Zilya requested, casting aside his dark clothing to reveal his body. While his skin was pale and his build was athletic, materially more muscular than Euclyd’s ever was, much of his body was covered in black scales. Half of his chest, his left arm, and the bulk of his legs. It was hard to say how much of his skin was covered in scales, but it was easily more than.

Despite this, his penis and balls remained untouched by this encroaching black hardness, and as Euclyd and Zilya laid their eyes on his genitals, a look of surprise appeared on their face.

Euclyd: “That looks exactly like mine! …I probably shouldn’t have said that!”

Zilya brought her shared body into an uproar at Euclyd’s outburst, shattering any sense of eroticism that had been building in the stripping process, and forcing Dyre to adopt an awkward grin. Once her composure was regained, Zilya gestured Dyre to come closer, before laying him down next to her. With his penis still flaccid, she brought a hand to it, rubbing it gently before pausing. She allowed Euclyd to take control over this part, and while he did wince slightly as he realized he was touching another man’s schlong, he smiled as he realized it had pretty much the same ‘soft spots.’

With Dyre now hard, Euclyd and Zilya spread their legs. They rubbed their thighs as they patiently awaited Dyre to stick it in and, after a few seconds too many, he did just that, lowering himself in gently as the vulva’s natural juices welcomed him.

Dyre: “S-So now, I just… thrust it back and forth?”

Zilya: “Pretty sure that’s all there is to it. But do try to go with the flow, not against it.”

Dyre shot a bemused look down at Zilya, before he shut his eyes, planted his arms down to the floor, and began thrusting. His technique was slow, almost gentle. …Or, at least he was trying to be.

Euclyd: “You can go a bit harder, we can take it!”

Dyre paused at Euclyd’s request, before he complied. His technique was still rough and imprecise, truly that of a man who had little idea of what he was doing. The two attempted to adjust themselves around this approach, with Zilya trying to use this opportunity to show Euclyd the joys of ‘traditional’ intercourse from a female perspective… only for things to come to an abrupt end.

Just over a minute in, Dyre ejaculated into their body, filling their person with his semen. Immediately, Dyre pulled out and looked away. Though Euclyd and Zilya could not see his face, it was obvious he was blushing

Dyre: “I… I’m sorry, I got all worked up before this— and you are so beautiful— but you’re also my sister and—”

Zilya: “Oh my gush, you are such a dork! It’s okay, Dyre. We can always try tomorrow if we want.”

Dyre: “Why… why are you so kind to me?”

Euclyd: “Because you’re not a bad guy. I can only imagine the hardships and horrors you’ve been through. To come out of all of that with a sense of restraint and justice is… impressive. From what you said about the Nether Dragon, you are ultimately trying to save the world, not just yourself. And even if we only just met… you’re still family. You’re still my brother, and I intend to treat you as such.”

Zilya: “In fact, forget about that talk about ‘a lifetime of servitude.’ You are a member of the royal family, the king’s blood flows within you, and when we return to the castle, we will formally make you a member of the royal family. It’s your birthright and… it’s the right thing to do.”

Dyre: “You would… do all that for me? You would give me that level of power over the nation?”

Euclyd: “Well, I’m going to need all the help I can get, but what Zilya said was true. You deserve this.”

Dyre: “…Thank you. Ever since I knew of my origin, I always thought that if I were to approach you I… I would be killed anew, tortured, or, at least, imprisoned until they found a way to exile me from this world.”

Zilya: “I can understand your fears…. But that will never happen. Now, we just need to head to Yggdrasil.”

Euclyd: “Actually, we probably should contact our friends to join us. With the five of us together, I’m sure we’ll be able to overcome anything Yggdrasil could throw at us and—”

Dyre: “I’m sorry, but… we cannot wait for them. The path to Yggdrasil is long and hard, and I do not want to lose even a single day. I waited too long and now… time is of the essence.”

Zilya: “Hm… I don’t like it, but I understand. Very well. We will continue traveling by ourselves, but at least allow us to send a letter to our friends when we come across the next town. They deserve to know what we are doing, even if we cannot wait for them.”

As Zilya made this compromise, Dyre leaned toward her head, and planted a kiss on her cheek.

Dyre: “Thank you, you two. Thank you… for everything.”

Chapter 07: Tussle in the Tundra

The skies were black. The ground was a stark white. And the winds were rapid, powerful enough to push away even the most headstrong adventurers as the temperatures reached deadly lows. No one but a fool would dare to travel in these conditions, but that did not deter a group of valiant venturers.

They traveled through this hostile tundra on the back of a giant six-tailed fox, the bestial form of Kassie Vespa, whose furry body emitted a warm and fiery glow. Isadore rode atop Kassie’s back, as if she were a horse, wrapping her arms around herself as she breathed into her thick coat. A coat that was also home to the tiny Fae, Nutts, who nuzzled herself between Isadore’s breasts. Behind her rested a young man, his body covered from head to toe, with the only visible part of him being a strip of light skin along his nose, and his green eyes. Beneath this mask was none other than Pickalou, still bound in the body of Prince Euclyd.

The four were protected from the harsh blizzard wings by a barrier of wind created by Nuttz, protecting them from the cold. However, in temperatures this low, it was hard for even a master of Pyro Mana to keep themselves warm. The strain was visible on Kassie’s face, her tired eyes and the specks of snow that remained on her face, refusing to melt.

Kassie: “GOLARN IT! How much longer is this tundra? Why does the planet even NEED this much snow and ice?”

Nuttz: “Oh, sis is complaining about the cold too. Glad I’m not the only one. Like, I am the master of Aero Mana, but we’ve been at this for EIGHT FRICKIN’ HOURS!!!”

Pickalou: “Wah! I’m sorry, guys! Pickalou wants to help, but he really can’t!”

Isadore: “It’s not your fault, Lou. We… We made enough progress for today. Let’s set up camp.”

Kassie: “We’re in the middle of a blizzard, not in some forest! How the CRAP are we gonna make camp?”

Isadore: “Well, there’s a technique I learned from my Hydro Mana instructor, and it will be a lot easier to do here than it was back at Lake Reeve.”

Isadore then leapt off Kassie, causing Nuttz’s Aero shield to spasm slightly, before Isadore bent down, pressing her gloved hands into the tundra beneath her. With a deep breath of the cold thin air around her, she created an indentation in the snow, laying a circular foundation with two levels of elevation. She looked upon this sight with a sense of pride, before gathering the ice and snow around her, using it to create a foot-thick three-meter-tall dome of ice that rested over the foundation. With the base of the structure established, Isadore then carved a doorway of sorts into the lower section of this ice-based dwelling, and crafted an entranceway of ice.

Isadore: “They call this a frost hut. I’ve never used one extensively, but this should be sufficient. Everybody, get in.”

With hesitation, Kassie transformed back into her demihuman form and grabbed Pickalou by his hand, dragging him along as all four ventured into the ‘frost hut.’ Once inside, Isadore swiftly went up to the higher level of the hut and used her Hydro Mana to create two holes in the opaque dome ceiling.

Isadore: “This will keep the air circulating. Now then, Kassie, could you make a fire in the center of the hut?”

Kassie: “Huh? With no wood?”

Nuttz: “Girl, you’ve been making floating fireballs for months at this point. Just plop one of ’em in the center and let’s heat this bad boy up! …Wait, won’t that melt it?”

Isadore: “You’d think so, but no. Ice is pretty good insulation, and it doesn’t take to fire easily.”

Kassie did as her ally requested, flicking her fingers to summon a fireball the size of her head that rested in the bottom center of this dwelling. Immediately, they could feel the heat permeate through the wall of this structure and, with renewed assurance, began to take out their bedding from their bags of condensed holding.

The three girls plopped onto their bedding with sighs of relief, before looking down at Pickalou, still straightening out his bedding. In the past week, he had grown far more accustomed to this new body of his than any of the three had ever expected. He was moving his digits with proficiency and mastering many of the subtle mannerisms that made a human appear ‘human.’ Though they knew better, the person before them looked like Euclyd, and if they blurred their eyes, even moved like Euclyd.

Once their minds all reached the same conclusion, the three drew closer and began to whisper among themselves, hoping that Pickalou wouldn’t be able to hear them. 

Nuttz: “So, you girls remember what Euclyd said, like, six weeks ago?”

Kassie: “About how he wanted to have… sex with us when this was all over?”

Isadore: “I suppose he took after Cornelius in that regard. Cornelius enjoyed many women, and he condemned teachings that presented sex as wrong or unnatural.”

Nuttz: “Yeah, not gonna lie, I was pretty pissed when he got trapped in Zilya’s body, because lemme tell you, I was ready for him!”

Kassie: “N-Nuttz, but you’re—”

Nuttz: “Tiny? Some guys like that, y’know. Big? Other guys like that, y’know. And I’m sure Euclyd was part of one— or both— of those clubs!”

Isadore: “We all want to have sex with Euclyd, and while I know I should not harbor these feelings as a Grand Knight… I still do. Ever since he was declared a man, I have hoped he would develop feelings for me. And in the nights I had to myself, I would often think about him professing his love for me, of him making me his queen.”

Kassie: “Geez… so this whole thing with Pickalou has been—”

Isadore:Beyond frustrating, because he keeps touching his penis!”

The three then looked over to Pickalou, where he was wrapped up in his blankets, his back to the three, but from the way his right arm moved, they could tell he was jerking off.

Nuttz: “…Okay, screw this! I’m cold, I’m tired, and I’m horny!”

Nuttz then fluttered out from her sister’s bed and plopped herself onto Pickalou’s blonde little head.

Nuttz: “Heeeey Lou! You want some help with that?”

Before Pickalou could respond, Nuttz leapt to Pickalou’s penis and pushed his hand away, revealing a fully erect penis bigger than Nuttz’s torso and head.

Pickalou: “S— Sorry-oo! I know I’m not supposed to touch my pi-nis, but—”

Nuttz: “Hush, darling. I’m sick of looking at you pleasing yourself all the time, and I’ve been craving this schlong for a good month, so let me just work my magic.”

With Pickalou thoroughly confused, Nuttz began to lick the tip of his penis, sending her tongue around the rim before digging into the urethra. With his erection even firmer, she began pressing her teensy sundress-clad body against the fleshy tube before her, humping its veiny underside. Nuttz knew enough about the male sex to know that this would be enough to elicit an orgasm, but curiosity drew her to a little flap of skin underneath the penis head. The tender and nerve-filled frenulum.

She clenched her itsy bitsy hands around this centimeter of skin, rubbing and tugging it gently. While she didn’t quite know what this was, she could tell that it made Pickalou’s heart race, and caused his moans to grow louder. 

Having found a ‘sweet spot,’ Nuttz continued to press herself against Pickalou’s penis, fiddling with its skin, licking the most tender part of Pickalou’s body, and humping herself against him. It took her a few minutes but eventually Nuttz got what she wanted. She got nutted on. Her face was caked with semen as Pickalou reached his climax, blinding her as she fumbled backwards and semen filled her indigo hair.

Nuttz:Ah nuts! You caught me by surprise, and now I’m all sticky and…”

Nuttz paused to taste the semen that covered her face, licking it, tapping her tongue against her palate, before adopting an quirky expression.

Nuttz: “This tastes exactly like vinegar… How the heck didja do that, Pickalou? I know semen’s supposed to be salty, but this—”

Before Nuttz could fully articulate her question, Pickalou shoved his penis into her face, almost smacking her down onto his bedding.

Pickalou: “That was suuuuper cool-a-loo! Again, again!”

Nuttz: “Heh. Okay, we’ll do it again, but this time, you’re gonna get a load of BIG Nuttz!”

With a flick of her wrist, Nuttz’s body grew from a foot-tall Fae into one taller than the vast majority of humans. Her dress pressed against her body, her rain boots became knee-high boots, and her chest went from flat to bouncy, with boobs almost as big as a head.

Pickalou: “Wow! So do I get to have sex with sup-pi-per pretty Nuttz?”

Nuttz: “Darn tootin’ ya do!”

Nuttz then used Aero mana to ‘fwoosh’ her tight clothing off of her body, leaving behind her naked form. Her breasts fluttered as they were freed, and as Pickalou stared at them, mesmerized, he failed to see that Nuttz’s crotch was already moist.

Before the two could exchange any words, Nuttz sent a gust of powerful and focused winds across Pickalou’s body, stripping him in a swift three seconds. With his body naked, and his erection aimed upwards, Nuttz slid her breasts onto Pickalou’s penis, encapsulating it in a soft warmness that only made him harder.

Nuttz: “I’ve ALWAYS wanted to do this, and now that I’ve got honkers like this, it’s time to see if the mystical art of paizuri is worth all the hype!”

With great enthusiasm, Nuttz began to massage her own breasts, rubbing them against the penis before her, while bending her neck down to lick the tip that just barely made it past her plentiful chest.

As this scene played out before Kassie and Isadore, Kassie brought one hand past her red skirt. Her breathing then grew more intense, subtly at first, but it only took a few seconds before Isadore turned to her companion.

Isadore: “K-Kassie? What are you doing? Y-You know that’s your sis—”

Kassie: “I can’t help it! This sight, just seeing Euclyd’s face looks like that, it makes Kassie wanna… wanna…”

Kassie’s ears then began to twitch, drool began to drizzle from out her mouth, and her six tails began tussling against each other as she sat. She was more than aroused. She had become a fox in heat

Kassie tussled her way out of her garments to reveal the entirety of her body underneath. The breasts whose true size was obscured by her baggy top, the pale flawless skin she had maintained even through countless battles, and her slender figure. With her full self before her, she wasted little time bringing her hands to her chest and vulva, her green eyes locked onto the sight of her sister giving a vegetable-turned-man a titjob.

With the three before her all in the midst of pleasure, Isadore felt her body grow hot. She began by taking off her coat and sapphire armor, her movements fast and panicked, before getting down to her smallclothes. However, this did little to alleviate her, and only made her more aware of the true source of her unrest. With a shaky hand, she touched her clothed crotch, and felt something damp underneath. She did not want to admit it, but she was aroused. She locked her arms in protest of her body’s urges, casting her eyes to the walls of this frost hut, only for a fluffy appendage to grab her by the shoulder.

Isadore’s body swung around, bringing her face to face with Kassie, her dark green eyes practically shimmering as they looked upon Isadore’s lightly clothed and muscular body.

Isadore: “Oh no… Kassie, I like you, you’re a great friend but—”

Kassie: “Liar! I know you think I’m cute, and I think you’re beautiful, Isa! You’re horny, and I’m even hornier! So just listen to your body and do what feels right!”

Isadore looked away from Kassie, back at Pickalou and Nuttz as they continued to enjoy their second round together, and then down at herself. Beneath her light top, she felt her nipples grow erect, and as Kassie rubbed her fluffy tails against her back, she felt her labia twitch, begging for attention.

A look of confusion and frustration grew on her brown face, only for this expression to shatter as she accepted her own feelings. With a shaky smile, Isadore opened her violet eyes and brought her hands to Kassie’s ears. Whatever aggression flowed through Kassie immediately vanished, and she fell to the bedding without a flake of resistance. 

Isadore: “Alright Kassie, I’ll admit it! Ever since Euclyd mentioned that he wanted to be with all of us, I couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if we were all together, in a bloody orgy! And while I never imagined us doing it in a place like this, reality rarely ever lives up to our expectations. So lay back and let me take the lead.”

From there, Isadore flung her smallclothes away and embraced Kassie, wrapping her hands around her back, and bringing their lips together. The fox girl spasmed as Isadore adopted this dominant position, but quickly fell into place, spreading herself out and inviting Isadore to take the initiative. Isadore began by bringing a hand to Kassie’s labia, pushing aside her slightly hairy skin, before revealing her clitoris. Isadore took a single finger to this tendermost spot, giving it a light rub, only for Kassie to jolt up, like someone stepped on one of her tails.

Kassie:KYAAA!!! W-What did you do?”

Isadore: “I… I just touched your clitoris—”

Kassie: “My what?”

Isadore: “Oh, you babe swaddled in a cashmere blanket of ignorance. Allow me to show you one of the greatest joys the female body has to offer.”

Isadore moved her hand without looking, brushing her fingers against the folds of Kassie’s vulva, before finding her vaginal opening. She sank two fingers inside her, causing Kassie to squirm, before bringing a thumb to her clitoris. Isadore looked at Kassie’s face as she continued to stimulate her, shooting her a playful wink while Kassie wore a look of elation, with her eyes glazed and her mouth drooling yet again. Smiling, Isadore brought her lips to Kassie’s mouth, kissing her before sinking her fingers in as deep as they could go, and pressing her thumb against her clit like a stubborn button.

Another spasm erupted from Kassie’s being, her tails tossed themselves into a tizzy, and as her pleas for release went ignored, her body provided a release all on its own. As she reached her climax, she discharged all over Isadore’s hand, painting it with her own juices.

Isadore: “Oh, by the crown. How long has it been since I did it with another girl like this? Why, it must have been two years ago when Patti and I—”

Isadore paused as she reflected on a prior sexual encounter, for she felt her arm bound by one of Kassie’s tails. Startled, she looked on at her partner, and her eyes widened. A pair of whiskers had grown on her face, and her pupils had grown tall and narrow.

Kassie: “Don’t talk about other girls when you’re with me! You have awakened the sexual beast within me, and now… this beast wants to plaaaay!”

Kassie then used four of her tails to pin down Isadore, shifting the dynamic in a single motion as she towered on top of her more muscular partner. Despite having her limbs bound, Isadore smiled at this turn of events and looked up at Kassie, only to pause as she noticed a seventh tail poking from Kassie’s tailbone.

Isadore: “You, um, do know you just grew a tail, right?”

Kassie: “Ooooh! I did, didn’t I? Well, that changes things! But first, since you were so good to me, let me give you my thanksies!”

Kassie then lowered herself to Isadore and began intermingling their legs, bringing their moistened labias ever closer until their lower lips were kissing.

Kassie: “I only read about this in… books, but I know that with the right pressure, this can produce the utmost pleasure!”

The two then began to rub against one another, each exerting pressure as they eked out what was right for them. Isadore could not help but laugh as Kassie’s soft hairs brushed against her most tender skin. And as Kassie looked at her partner sliding through waves of passion, she remembered the three other tails she had, and brought two to Isadore’s breasts. Her shuttered eyes flapped open as Kassie tickled her body, and with her body already primed from the preceding foreplay, it only took her a matter of time before she reached an apex.

Isadore:KYAAA!!! …Okay, Kassie. That was… fantastic. Please, keep filling me with your special brand of fluff—”

Kissie abruptly thrust herself away from Isadore as she recovered from her climax. This caused Isadore to pause, before she noticed an eighth tail creep from behind Kassie’s back. With her hands still bound and tails still caressing her nipples, Isadore had no means to resist her friend. Recognizing this immense degree of power, and with the look of a trickster upon her face, Kassie took her two free tails… and rammed them into Isadore, shoving one into her vagina, and another up her butt.

Isadore:OH BY AKUPARA!!! Kassie, this isn’t what I meant!”

As Isadore rejected the tails, they began to thrust themselves in and out, moving at identical frequencies, causing her lower regions to condense and expand with every passing second.

Isadore: “O-Okay! M-Maybe, this is really frickin’ good! But this is still—”

Kassie: “Shush!”

Kassie then planted her lips onto Isadore, quieting her as every one of her holes was filled. …Well. all of the holes that mattered. With her partner left floating in ecstasy, a scream lured Kassie’s eyes to the other side of the frost hut. There, she saw her sister, still in her larger size, in the midst of anal sex with Euclyd. Or, as Kassie reminded herself, Pickalou.

Nuttz’s wings were aflutter, causing the fireball in the center of the room to grow larger and warmer. Her face was warped by pleasure into an expression her father always called an ‘ahegao.’ As she looked on at this sight, Kassie could not help her hands from drifting to the most sensitive areas of her body, taking a hand to her plentiful bosom and sliding finger past her labia.

The repetition and billowing pursuit for an orgasm continued for this young woman, her body growing hotter with every passing seconds as the tails binding Isadore to the ground grew tighter and more aggressive. It was only then, after Kassie led Isadore to her second climax, and her eighth tail became drenched in its juices, that Kassie reached her second apex of the evening. After all she had seen, learned, and done, it wound up far more… intense than the first.


As Kassie climaxed, the Pyro Mana within her body became unstable. Her green eyes glowed with a fiery intensity unlike anything seen before. Tufts of flame burst from her skin, spreading itself outward and upward, rising to the top of the icy ceiling above them, and melting it away into steam.

As she concluded her Mana-infused climax, Kassie fell back to her bedding, pulling her tails away from and out of Isadore, before looking up at the dark sky above. …But only for a few seconds, as the sound of her sister and the pickled prince brought her back to reality.


Pickalou:Pi! Ku! LOO!!!

As they finished their mutual climaxes, Nuttz and Pickalou began to laugh, separating their parts and letting the residual juices fall onto their already sullied bedding.

Nuttz: “Hot DAYUM! For a veggie, you’re kinda awesome at sex!”

Pickalou: “Hehe! Well, you kept on telling me what to do, Nuttz.”

Isadore: “…Kassie, why did you burn away the only thing protecting us from the elements?”

Kassie: “Ehehehe… That was an accident… but I have a solution!”

Kassie then threw out her tails, wrapping them around her fellow Venturers, before lumping them together in a giant pile of fluffiness.

Kassie: “With nine big fluffy tails, everybody should be warm… wait… NINE? I must’ve grown another tail! That means… that means I’m a full-blown Kyuubi!”

Nuttz: “For real? Congrats, sis! I didn’t even realize you grew three tails. But I guess what they say is true. Sex helps you unlock your full potential!”

Isadore: “…Nobody says that. You just made that up!”

Nuttz then transformed back to her smaller form, causing Kassie to wrap a single tail around her tiny Fae sister, before sending a fourth tail to both Pickalou and Isadore.

Nuttz: “Even if nobody says it, that don’t mean it ain’t true. Anyway, Nuttz is all warm from sex and floofiness. Good night!”

Pickalou: “Good night-a-loo!”

Isadore: “Uh, guys, I know that this is really cozy, and we still have this little fireball keeping us warm, but we should put on clothes and if Kassie could free my arms long enough to—”

Isadore paused as she realized that all three of her allies had already fallen asleep. Kassie’s face had gone back to how it was before, with her whiskers receding, and Nuttz was covered in so much floof, she could barely see her. 

With a groan, Isadore moved her hands away from the tails covering them, and began to remake the ceiling that Kassie had so carelessly destroyed. With a risk of hypothermia averted, Isadore briefly looked at her discarded clothes, before deciding she was fine sleeping in the nude if the comforting was this warm.

Isadore: “No wonder this girl never complained about getting cold despite wearing so little. Well, until we got to the tundra, anyway.”

She tried to join her allies by drifting to sleep, but as she did so, she couldn’t help but stare at Pickalou. He was already in a deep sleep, drool cutely trickling down his face, but as she looked at how the fox tails were wrapped around him, she realized that she could see his penis poking out from them… And it was still erect.

A flight or fight flag was then triggered in Isadore’s mind. But as she stared at the unattended schlong before her, with her crotch still damp and her mind still swimming in the juices of an afterglow, she knew what her response should be.

Isadore: “…I have waited for this for so many years and… screw it. Even if it’s not Euclyd in there, it’s not like it really matters when he’s unconscious. Besides, they would both agree to this… I think… I hope.”

After establishing a dubious sort of consent and choosing to pursue the man before her, Isadore brought herself to Pickalou. With the blizzard still raging above, and the sound of sleeping friends in the background, she slid herself onto the penis before her, and shed a single tear. After so many years, she was finally with him, and pickle brain or not, she was determined to screw him all night long.

Chapter 08: The Heartwood of Yggdrasil

The innards of Yggdrasil were a thing of both beauty and horror. 

Despite being within a tree, entering it was akin to entering another world. One with rich rivers covered in violet water plants. A dense fog that made it difficult to see twenty meters in front of oneself. Large internal branches served as makeshift hallways for travelers and native inhabitants alike, in addition to serving as the home for plantlife. From fruit-bearing trees to massive flowers, or mushrooms that stuck to the side of the bark. It was almost too good to be true, a paradise of natural beauty untouched by humankind or any demihumans. …And it was too good to be true.

This almost heavenly place was home to creatures both mighty and hostile. Beasts and monsters of all shapes and sizes whose initial docility shattered upon coming face to face with an outsider. This aggressive opposition is what had slain many an adventurer, and left Yggdrasil a domain unconquered for centuries. At least, until today.

After days of travel, two figures neared the top of the Hollowed Heartwood of Yggdrasil. The first was Dyre, a man dressed in black leather armor, with dark spiky hair. His eyes were a piercing yellow, while his skin was concerningly pale, with the only speck of color coming in the form of inhuman black scales that crept up his neck and onto his cheek. He clutched a blade in his arm, but its form was thinner, more curved, and longer than most swords found in Radiata. For it was a weapon from a distant land, the homeland of one of the men who raised Dyre into the warrior he is today.

The second was Euclyd and Zilya. A pair of siblings who had taken up residence in Zilya’s body ever since their plan to eliminate Malachi the Destroyer took an unexpected turn. Ever since a possession turned out to be a body swap.

During their time as a singular being, Zilya’s body had grown through a sort of transformation. Its blonde hair was still long and flowing, silky to the touch, its eyes were still a vibrant blue, and its skin was still fair and beautiful. Yet Its once frail frame had developed a barely visible yet impactful layer of muscle across every limb. While the flowing dresses it was ordinarily adorned in had been exchanged for something more fit for battle. A suit of leather armor covered its ample chest, as best it could, while sheets of silver covered the lower half of the legs and arms, protecting the vital areas. However, its lower body still retained a flowing lavender skirt, stopping at the knees in the front, while reaching down to the ankles in the back.

The two had the look of both a knight and a maiden all in one, but that was not the most curious thing about them. That was the way they wielded a sword in their right hand, and a staff in their left, offering them access to both Euclyd’s skills with the blade, and Zilya’s mastery of Radiant Mana.

While fatigued, the three walked up the path before them, to a glowing gate that would lead to the peak of Yggdrasil. Knowing their destination was so near brought a smile to their faces, but as they reached a hundred steps of their goal, they heard a bestial howl. The two stood back to back, awaiting a foe that could emerge from any direction, before Zilya brought her eyes up. As she did so, she saw a giant snake looming from the ceiling, and as she met its piercing gaze, the dark purple creature dropped from a branch on high, landing between the Venturers and their destination.

Dyre: “Another one of these dastards?”

Euclyd: “I know, right? I was expecting something a bit more for Akupara’s guardian!”

Zilya: “Brother, please. Let us take down this beast as quickly as possible.”

With Zilya’s orders clear, Dyre and Euclyd shared a glance, smirked, and then launched their attack.

Dyre: “It’s going to cost a lot of Mana—”

Euclyd: “But we’re at the top anyway, so—”

Euclyd & Dyre: “Let’s end this!”

Euclyd and Dyre then rushed forward, effortlessly dodging the venom spewed by the snake as they approached, before channeling Mana into their blades and aiming at the belly of the beast. With Euclyd’s blade full of Radiant and Dyre’s full of Umbra, the two struck the same location on the beast at the same time, and moved with such speed and ferocity, they wound up behind the creature. A second later, an X-shaped symbol appeared across the snake’s body, one line bright and the other dark, and the creature fell apart, its head falling into the Heartwood below.

Zilya: “Hehehe! I’ll never get over how… exhilarating that X-Slash of yours can be!”

Dyre: “Heh. Not the word I would use to describe it but—”

Dyre then paused as a pain struck his chest. His body lurched over and his blade struck the ground as he recoiled, but after ten seconds of deep breathing, he was standing as tall as he ordinarily was. Once he was recovered, Zilya walked toward him and planted a kiss on his cheek.

Zilya: “Do you need my healing, Dyre?”

Dyre: “No, I… it’s just that, since we got here, the Nether Dragon’s gotten more aggressive. But it doesn’t matter now. We’re just a few meters away from our goal. Soon enough, these aches will be nothing but a bad memory.”

Euclyd: “That’s right, brother!”

As Euclyd said that, he leaned in and gave Dyre another kiss on the cheek.

Euclyd: “After all this time, we’re finally at the end. It’s a bit hard to believe it’s only been three weeks…”

Dyre: “Heh. And in that time, I still haven’t been able to tell your kisses apart. No matter how many hundreds I’ve received… I wonder, will you be this affectionate once you are back in your own body, Euclyd?”

Euclyd: “I don’t see why not. I believe that love should be shared and eternal, and people should express it however they wish, so long as everyone’s okay with it.”

Zilya: “Um, about that Euclyd, are you sure about this whole ‘multiple partners’ thing?”

Euclyd: “But of course! There is plenty of love to share, and I would not want to claim exclusive access to anyone. Not even you, Zilya. Once this is all over, I hope you, me, Dyre, Isadore, Nuttz, and Kassie can all be one big happy family!”

Zilya: “That’s… we’ll talk about this for another time, brother.”

Dyre: “For a prince, you are awfully open minded. It is not typical, but I suppose that is what makes it such a virtue. …Come, let’s not make any further waste.”

With that declaration, Dyre walked toward the light before him, and Zilya followed. As they passed the light, they were met with a vast flower-covered plain, leading to an elegantly crafted stone platform, no less than a hundred meters in its radius. Off in the distance, almost mirroring the wooden gate they emerged from, they saw a gate of stone, tall and wide enough to accommodate even the largest of beasts.

Euclyd: “So, is this when the real guardian flies in to prevent us from praying?”

Dyre: “Please don’t even joke about that.”

Zilya: “Y-Yes, Euclyd. I know that the thrill of battle has reawakened something in you, but the less fighting, the better.”

Zilya and Dyre then began walking onto the stone platform, thinking that the best place to pray must be the center. But as they stepped foot upon the stone, they heard something in the sky.

Dyre: “Euclyd, I swear, if you jinxed us for the dozenth time—”

As Dyre said that, the source of the noise appeared before them. It was something shooting high into the sky, reaching higher than even the tallest branch of Yggdrasil, but as it reached this peak, it began to plummet downward, losing all momentum and quickly reaching terminal velocity.

Without thinking, the three ran, rushing further onto the stone platform, and practically tumbling as the flying object, or perhaps creature, collided into the flower-filled fields. A cloud of dust obscured the crash site, but both Euclyd and Dyre feared the worst, and grabbed their blades. They stood their ground as they prepared only for a foe to attack them… only to be met with a surprise.

In a small crater, they saw a giant fox, a giant woman with dark freckled skin and indigo hair, a young blonde man covered in metal armor, and a woman with silver hair, dressed in sapphire armor.

Euclyd: “Isa?”

Zilya: “Nuttz?”

Euclyd: “Kassie?”

Zilya: “And… your body, Euclyd?”

Euclyd: “I… I guess?”

Dyre: “The body you said was currently controlled by a… sentient pickle soldier?”

Euclyd: “It… wasn’t part of the original plan.”

After the onlookers finished their observations, Nuttz and Kassie transformed back into their base forms, while Isadore helped Pickalou off the ground.

Nuttz: “Okay, note to self. Pyro plus Aero plus wings equals super good flying! …But even we have our limits.”

Nuttz then fell onto Kassie’s head, waking her up from her bout of unconsciousness. Her eyes fluttered and as she recognized the two standing in front of her, she jumped.

Kassie: “That guy, that black guy! Is he the one, Isa?”

Isadore: “Kassie, please! I know you’re sheltered, but you shouldn’t use the term ‘Black’ to refer to a person like—”

Isadore then turned to see Dyre standing before her, brandishing his foreign sword.

Isadore: “You!”

Dyre: “Isadore, is it?” 

After acknowledging her, Dyre got down to one knee, and looked up at her as she rose from the crater.

Dyre: “I apologize for hurting you that day. I simply needed the help of Zilya for something, and if you give us just a few minutes, then our journey can come to an end.”

Euclyd: “Y-Yeah, Isa. It is a pretty weird situation. I already explained everything in the letter.”

Nuttz: “Eh? So you mean all that stuff about praying to Akupara to save the world from the Nether Dragon was true?”

Zilya: “Exactly! Euclyd and I mailed and wrote the letter ourselves.”

Kassie: “Hm… I dunno if I really buy that. Dude looks like a total anti-hero. Dreamy, but dangerous! If he really just wanted to help, why not ask like a normal person? With words, not swords!”

Dyre: “Allow me to apologize once more. I took the actions I did out of fear, of concern that I would be rejected by you all due to my past. I worried that Zilya and Euclyd knew of me through Cornelius, and were told not to trust anyone who claimed to be their third sibling. And I feared you three would be hostile to me, for it was your fathers, Issac Ivalliance and Ricardt Vulpes, who carried out my execution. The risk was great, no matter how small, and I was unwilling to take them. If I had known you were all ignorant of my existence, then I would have requested your aid in a far more ‘civil’ manner.”

Isadore & Nuttz & Kassie: “…WHAT?!”

Dyre: “Heh. So your fathers never informed you about how they ended the life of one of Cornelius’s three children?”

Nuttz: “Um, no?! And if Daddy did, I sure as sugar wouldn’t tell that kid to buzz off if he came up to me, looking all pseudo-zombie-like!”

Isadore: “And as a Grand Knight of Radiata, I have a sworn duty to protect all who bear royal blood, no matter what.”

Pickalou: “Besides, don’t you have a dragon inside you that will destroy the world? We probably should take care of that… right now!”

Euclyd: “Yeah, what… Pickalou said… It is so weird hearing him speak like that.”

With the group of seven in agreement, they all walked forward to the center of this large stone platform. It was a feat of engineering, but it was lavished in such detail that it felt almost wrong to walk atop it. Even from a casual glance, it was clear that this platform was carved with a grand story of this world’s creation, and at the center of the platform, they found a beautiful, ten meter wide, engraving of Akupara. The divine being responsible for this world’s creation, and all life that resided on its surface. Not daring to risk offending her by stepping onto her body, Dyre got on his knees a meter away from her engraved head, and bound his hands together.

Dyre: “Zilya, if you would please, fill my words and my being with Radiant Mana.”

With a wave of her staff, Dyre’s body began to glow, and his words gained an ethereal form as they flowed out his mouth, floating up into the heavens.

Dyre: “Akupara, I beg for your aid! When I was born, my body was cursed by the Nether Dragon, and in a matter of days, he shall take control of my body, and reawaken. The damage he will wrought upon Gaia will be catastrophic, and in order to prevent it, I implore you to—”

Dyre’s speech then came to an abrupt end as his back was struck by a burst of Nether Mana, one that sent his body tumbling forward. The onlookers turned to find the source of this unexpected attack, and as their eyes shifted, they saw Pickalou, a dark aura emanating from his hands, and his eyes now a familiar red.

Euclyd: “P-Pickalou? No, you’re—”

Euclyd’s Body: “Heh. Like all things, I returned to Mana. It was so cute that you thought you could be rid of me by simply spreading my ashes. Come now, did you truly believe the Destroyer would be so easy to destroy?”

Isadore: “Malachi! But… how? How are you back and… in the prince’s body?”

Malachi: “Fair questions, but I shall keep my answers brief. I returned to Yggdrasil, for I willed it. For I could tell that many powerful sources of Mana were heading there, and though my chances were slim, I wished to test them. Woefully, I was reborn as a mere vegetable— a damned cucumber— but after our little incident last time, I learned that vegetables were far more powerful than I ever thought. For they can serve as vessels for unwanted souls.”

Malachi then brought a hand to his rear, where he produced a cucumber. On it was a tiny face, one that resembled that seen on the picklekin army who helped the Venturers storm Castle Radiata. Before the cucumber could speak though, Malachi placed it into his mouth, and scarfed it down like a hungry dog, swallowing it while it was still in bean-sized chunks.

Nuttz: “What the FRICK dude? You just ate our friend!”

Kassie: “Surely, you know this means war!”

With fire in her heart, Kassie flung a ball of fire from her fingers, only for Malachi to strike the fireball away, where it flew off into the sky.

Euclyd: “Why are you even so obsessed with my body? I don’t even have the power of a Divine Beast.”

Malachi: “Oh? You do not know? That Cornelius, thinking that secrets would keep you safe. You see, Euclyd, your body might not be as proficient with any school of Mana as your allies, and your multifaceted proficiency is a minor rarity at most. However, what makes your body special was determined at birth. For you are the firstborn of Radiata royalty, one blessed with the power to enter the Domain of the Divine. You, Euclyd, are Akupara’s Avatar!”

Zilya: “What? Akupara does not claim an avatar. Her realm is off-limits to all and no mortal has ever seen its contents beyond visions offered by the World Turtle.”

Malachi: “Oh Zilya. Has our time together done nothing to expand your mind? Just because you have never heard of something does not mean it is not real. In fact, I shall prove it before your very eyes. When I open the gate to her domain… and kill her.”

As Malachi made his end goal known, Nuttz pulled out her manashooter and shot him with a concentrated blast of Aero Mana directly in his face.

Nuttz: “KILL THIS BASTARD! Kill him NOW!!!”

Euclyd: “But, my body—”

Isadore: “Don’t be selfish, my prince. We will find another way to return you to your body! For now, we fight to kill!”

As the threats were made apparent, the Venturers rushed forward, all bearing the power of an Elemental Beast flowing throughout their forms. …But as they ran, a broad Umbra slash struck them in the back.

Euclyd, Zilya, Isadore, Nuttz, and Kassie all fell to the ground from the strike, and as they looked toward their assailant, they saw Dyre, Nether Mana surrounding his body.

Dyre: “D-Damn it all! My body is… moving on its own.”

Malachi: “My, did you forget that your friend here has a relationship with one of my pets? Cast your armor aside, boy.”

With his body shaking and hands moving on their own, Dyre threw off his top armor and gloves, revealing that the entirety of his chest, arms, and hands had become covered in black scales.

Malachi: “The Nether Dragon has taken control of over eight tenths of Dyre’s body, and all it will take is a little boost for it to obtain complete control.”

Malachi thrust his hand out toward Dyre, and shot a burst of Nether Mana at him, causing the scales to crawl beyond his neck and to his face.

Dyre: “KILL ME! Kill me before the transformation is complete!”

Isadore: “I’ll… I’ll try my best! Frost Spear!”

Isadore threw a spear of ice at Dyre, only for it to be shattered by Malachi with his free hand.

Malachi: “Do not waste your energy. For you have already lost. For the Nether Dragon has reawakened!”

Once those words left his lips, the scales finished crawling up Dyre’s face. With every part of him consumed by the scales of the Nether Dragon, his body crumbled to the engraved stone platform, where the transformation began.

The humanoid head of Dyre was the first target of the transformation. The circular shape of the skull collapsed and expanded as horns grew from the back of his head, his brow adopted a sharp slope, and his mouth lurched forward. The bones crackled and cackled as they were reforged into a shape they were never meant to be, The white teeth became blackened fangs, and the fractured groans of Dyre became unintelligible roars. His eyes then narrowed and lost all features or texture, becoming nothing more than glowing yellow orbs against a black skin.

The scales had already morphed Dyre’s fingers and toes into clawed appendages, but as the dragon reawakened, their form shifted until their base shape was inhuman. Muscles ballooned beneath the scales, arms and legs assumed a near identical length, and the very structure of his feet transformed into something more befitting a beast.

From his lower back, a tail emerged, ripping through the surrounding scales and slithering out like an aggressive serpent. It spread past his hindquarters and his legs, growing thicker as it grew longer, until it began to consume the bulk of Dyre’s lower body. Across his glutes to his crotch, all were consumed by his growing tail, until it became something inseparable from the torso.

With Dyre’s body already bound to the ground and his head transformed, the expansion of his neck then followed. A small protrusion the size of a hand stretched into a tube of scales and flesh that brought its head further from the shoulders, granting it enough length to resemble a serpent.

With his body now nearly matching a textbook definition of a dragon, The Nether Dragon roared loudly as it displayed its underbelly, which expanded as its organs tore apart, rearranging themselves into something befitting this creature’s biology. It was only then, with the core of its body fully formed, that the scales lining its back cracked open, and from it emerged a set of wings. Wings with arms and fingers of the same scales that covered the body of the Nether Dragon, along with a membrane the color of a bloodstained violet.

Once fully formed, the Nether Dragon was no less than forty meters from head to toe, with a wingspan of roughly thirty meters. A truly massive beast who celebrated the end of their reawakening by cracking its wings, sending a tempest at the Venturers who stood before it. 

Euclyd, Zilya, Isadore, Nuttz, and Kassie did not falter at this sight. Instead, they drew their weapons, filled them with the power of their Mana, and rushed toward the dragon.

However, as they dealt with the threat before them, there was another threat who had snuck behind the Nether Dragon during its awakening. Malachi, in the body of Euclyd, had walked past the stone platform and to the giant stone arch. As he stood before the arch, he held up his hand and spoke loudly.

Malachi: “Akupara! It is I, your Avatar! And per my divine birthright, you shall grant me entry into your domain!”

As Malachi made his demands, the stone arch reacted, and a portal began to manifest itself. A portal as wide and as tall as the arches itself. It faded into reality swiftly, and Malachi’s eyes went wide.

He saw a void. A realm full of distant stars and occupied by the remnants of a world. Castles floating on small bits of land. Forests that had been folded into spherical structures. Rivers that flowed with no natural boundaries. And spiraling brick walkways that seemingly connected everything. It was a bizarre collection of matter that grew in its variety and diversity with every passing second Malachi stared at it.

However interesting this may be though, it was not why he opened the portal to the Domain of the Divine. Instead, as he craned his neck upwards, he saw his target.

A turtle, floating through this void. Her body giant and her back adorned with not only a shell, but an island filled with vast forests and tall mountains. She was the creator of all. The grandest mother of humans, demihumans, and all creatures who walked this world’s surface. She was Akupara, the World Turtle. 

Chapter 09: The Battle of the Divine

With their newfound ally now transformed into the Nether Dragon, the Venturers had little choice but to battle. With their weapons filled with Mana, they struck the dragon, hoping for a swift victory. Instead, as the dust settled, they looked on at the dragon and saw that his body was barely even scratched from their efforts.

Nuttz: “Alright, I guess it’s time for the BIG guns! Sister, you know the drill!”

Kassie: “Right! It’s fox time!”

In a wild burst of Mana, Nuttz grew into BIG Nuttz once more, taking the form of a giant Fae while Kassie entered her beast mode, taking the form of a giant fox. This display of power was enough to grab the Nether Dragon’s attention, who responded to this new threat by spewing a stream of Umbra Mana at them, drenching the battleground in a pool of toxic ooze.

Not dissuaded, Nuttz pulled out her super-sized manashooter and assaulted the dragon with Aero Mana, while Kassie surrounded the dragon in a circle of flame. The resulting inferno spread across the dragon’s body, causing its scales to burn and crack from the intense heat. For a moment, it seemed as if it was trapped, only for the dragon to fly past the walls of flames, and bring its claws down to Kassie, who only narrowly avoided its strikes.

Kassie: “Ah geez, why do you gotta target me? Aren’t I a little too far down the food chain for a frickin’ dragon like you?”

The Nether Dragon merely roared as it continued its assault, only for its attack to be interrupted. A pillar of ice rose from the ground below and its piercing tip clashed against the dragon’s scales, chipping them, but failing to break past the hide.

Isadore: “Oh, give me a break! How thick is this thing’s skin?”

Zilya: “How about…”

Euclyd: “Some of this!”

As Euclyd and Zilya shouted, they rushed toward the dragon’s right hind leg, slashing against it with a Radiant-infused sword, before blasting it at point-blank range with a burst of Radiant Mana.

The strike was powerful enough to make the Nether Dragon wail in pain, but it barely penetrated its scales.

Nuttz: “What the frick?! Nothing’s working! We have the power of the Elemental Beasts, but this jerk thinks he can treat us like we’re nothing? Balderdash, I say! Balderdash!

Just as the Nether Dragon prepared to strike the Venturers once more, a shout flowed across the battlefield.

Malachi: “Nether Dragon! Stop wasting your energy on them! Our real target’s right here!”

The Venturers turned to see Malachi pointing at a gateway to another world. A world home to vibrant colors, dazzling stars, and most importantly, Akupara, the World Turtle.

The Nether Dragon rushed toward Malachi like a dog to its owner. The Venturers followed behind, with Nuttz flying and Kassie running as fast as her four legs would take her. Alas, they could not hope to keep up with the Nether Dragon, who swiftly leapt into the gate to the Domain of the Divine, with Malachi following behind it a second later.

The moment their enemies passed the gate, it began to close, collapsing in on itself until the vast doorway was no larger than a mere window and then, a second later, nothing. The portal had shut before they even had a reasonable chance of making it through. At this sight, the sight of the stone arches, bereft of Mana, the Venturers stopped their sprint, and collapsed.

Kassie reverted back to her demihuman form and looked on at the gate with a mortified expression. Nuttz became small and flopped down to the ground, landing on her rear. Isadore fell down to her knees, dropping her lance onto the ground. While Euclyd forced Zilya’s body to move forward, where he cast his hand upward and shouted as loud as he could.

Euclyd: “Akupara, please! I am Prince Euclyd! I am your true Avatar! Let my friends and I help you! Without us… without us…”

Isadore: “Euclyd, she won’t listen to you. Even if she could… How could we even help her? We could barely scratch the Nether Dragon.”

Kassie: “I don’t want to make everybody upset, but… we already lost. It’s all over now.”

Nuttz: “Yeah. If Akupara dies, Gaia’s done for. That’s what the legends always said. And in her place, Malachi will become the new god of Gaia. He’ll remake it in his image and… we sure as heck aren’t going to be part of whatever that is.”

Euclyd: “No! We cannot give up! There has to be another way! There just has to be!”

Zilya: “Euclyd, I’m sorry, but… wait… no. Euclyd might be onto something! While we might not have the power to open this gate, while no other mortal might be able to, what about the Elemental Beasts?”

Nuttz: “…Oh SNAP! Why didn’t I think of that! By the power in my teensy Fae body, I summon thee, Aero Rooster, appear!”

As Nuttz called for her Elemental Beast to appear, a burst of immense Mana appeared across the stone platform behind them. Turning their heads, the five saw that not only had the Aero Rooster appeared, but all five of the Elemental Beasts. The Hydro Ox, the Pyro Hound, the Aero Rooster, the Radiant Rabbit, and even the Umbra Rat.

Kassie: “Ah geez, I really wasn’t hoping I’d see that dog again…”

Hydro Ox: “Venturers, you have done well to make it this far.”

Pyro Hound: “But it appears that your might was insufficient for this task.”

Radiant Rabbit: “Of course, that’s more of an ‘us’ problem, as we really have gotten pretty soft the past couple decades.” 

Aero Rooster: “Bacaw! Speak for thyself. But I suppose I should have tested for strength over speed.”

Umbra Rat: “The past’s the past, and what’s important is that we’re helping you out now! Akupara is growing weaker by the minute, and the sooner we save her, the better.”

Hydro Ox: “Together, we shall lend you our full strength!”

Pyro Hound: “Every last drop of it!”

Aero Rooster: “For we all have a stake in this!”

Radiant Rabbit: “Because if turtle mama dies, we’re toast!”

Umbra Rat: “So let’s cut the chatter and get on with it!”

The five Elemental Beasts released a stream of Mana onto the stone archway, causing the massive portal to appear once more. With their first duty done, the Elemental Beasts then leapt into their Avatars, filling their bodies with a second surge of strength. The Hydro Ox went into Isadore, the Pyro Hound into Kassie, the Aero Rooster into Nuttz, and the Radiant Rabbit into Zilya. Their bodies all glowed with Mana and all stood valiantly as they recognized their newfound might. Though, there was one exception.

Umbra Rat: “That swordsman dressed in black, he became the Nether Dragon, right?”

Isadore: “Indeed, he did.”

Umbra Rat: “Then let me come with you, lassies. I still have a part to play.”

With the vague promise from the Umbra Rat, Euclyd, Zilya, Isadore, Nuttz, and Kassie all looked at each other and nodded. They were mighty, they were ready, and without a second to waste, they ran through the portal and into the Domain of the Divine. 

It was here where the fate of Gaia would be determined.

It was here where the final battle would be waged.

The Domain of the Divine was a curious one. A place where life was not bound by things such as gravity or weight, where the world itself shifted itself using fragments, creating steps and walls wherever an occupant desired them. It was a dreamlike domain where it felt like anything was possible if one put their mind to it. However, there was only one thing that our heroes desired.

As the Venturers and Umbra Rat entered this domain, they quickly learned of the rules of this world. How to summon bricks beneath their feet, shoot oneself through space in any direction, and leap incredible heights. It was a fascinating place conceptually, and an empowering one to reside within. However, any detailed exploration was quickly cast aside as the group heard the sounds of crying echoing in the distance. With the winds of the Nuttz to propel them forward, the six made their way to the sound of the crying, where they saw Akupara battling against the Nether Dragon. 

Akupara was not a fighter. She was slow in her movements, and with her shell alone having a radius of a kilometer, to say she was giant was an understatement. As such, it was of little surprise to see what became of her body during her minutes of battle with the Nether Dragon. Her shell had been cracked, her fins were cut, and there were deep claw marks over her left eye. She cried for mercy, and cried for help, which is precisely what the Venturers sought to deliver.

With her staff held high, Zilya shot a colossal blast of Radiant energy at the Nether Dragon, hoping to stop or delay its attacks. The attack traveled far, only for the energy to collide with something equal in power. Looking toward the source, the heroes’ eyes fell upon Malachi, his body floating against nothingness, and his metal-clad hands pulsating with Nether Mana.

Malachi: “I care not how you made it into this place, you are already too late! Nether Dragon, kill Akupara! Unleash your Nether Flare!”

With the distance between them still great, the six charged forward as fast as they could, all attacking the Nether Dragon with whatever they could throw at it. Zilya assaulted their body with Radiant rays that shone upon every inch of its body. Nuttz shot against its body with bolts of air that moved at half a kilometer a second. Isadore launched spears of ice against any open wound, digging deeper into its dense flesh, and causing blood to gush out. While Kassie rushed forward in her beast form and dug her fangs through the dragon’s scales, before filling her mouth with flames.

Yet, no matter the attack, the Nether Dragon continued to charge what appeared to be its ultimate move. One that could end the life of Akupara in an instant. That is, until the Umbra Rat thrust himself forward and adopted an ethereal form, entering the very flesh of the Nether Dragon. It was then that something began to rumble within the chest of the Nether Dragon, that its unmoving mouth began to shake itself, closed, and its aim on Akupara was disrupted.

As the Nether Dragon unleashed its devastating Nether Flare, its head had craned upwards, and its chest had burst open. From it fell a downpour of blood and a hailstorm of shattered scales, but most crucially was a man dressed in black. A man who wielded a curious blade, and one that he used to strike Malachi, slashing one of his eyes and severing one of his hands.

Malachi: “GYAAARGH!”

As he shouted with pain, Malachi unleashed a wave of Nether Mana, powerful and imposing enough to summon a platform of pure obsidian below him, and cause the Venturers to fall upon it. 

Kassie: “How do you like us now, you nasty freak?!”

Isadore: “You might have thought we were weak before, but we were merely Elemental Avatars! Now we have the full power of the Elemental Beasts at our disposal!”

Nuttz: “You can say that again! We’re just bursting with POWUH!”

Euclyd: “I would offer you a chance to surrender yourself, but you would neither accept it, nor do you deserve it.”

Zilya: “You are a threat to all of Gaia, Malachi! And for that, you must be stopped.”

Dyre: “Even if you weren’t, after what you and your ‘pet’ put me through, I want nothing more in this world than to see you die!”

Malachi looked on at the Venturers with his one good red eye. He realized that if one single strike from Dyre was enough to deal this much damage to his form, he wouldn’t last a minute against all of them at once. 

Malachi: “Very well. If it is a battle to the death you want, I shall gladly comply. But first, if you infused yourselves with beasts, you’ll surely grant me the same privilege. Nether Dragon! Become one with me!”

Before any of the Venturers could respond, the bleeding and battered body of the Nether Dragon flew down to Malachi, and embraced him with its wings. A second later, Nether Mana flourished from the Nether Dragon’s body. The Venturers stood their ground as this Mana persisted and the darkened silhouette of the Nether Dragon shrank to something approximately half its size. Small by comparison, but still massive next to a human.

As the darkness dispersed, they saw a creature part man and part dragon. The head and torso of their body was that of a man, one who strongly resembled Euclyd, but with drastic changes. His short spiky blonde hair had become white and flowing. His skin was tanned and considerably darker. While the undamaged right eye was still a bright scarlet, the left was yellow and bereft of any pupil. The armor that once clad his body had been shattered, and in its place was a black cloak that covered his chest and went down to his knees.

As for the rest of his body? Every morsel resembled that of the Nether Dragon. His forearms and legs were covered in dark scales. Hands and feet were both adorned with dark claws. Large winds that made his body three times as wide extended from his back, their body covered in scales and membrane colored a bloodied violet. And from his back, a large tail, twice as long as his legs, emerged.

Malachi: “Bahahahaha! It has been too long since I absorbed another like this. Now, bask at the enhanced power of Malachi, THE DESTROYER!!!”

From his hand, Malachi unleashed a beam of Nether Mana at the five before him, only for them to dodge it and effortlessly approach him. In a clash, the give all struck him at once. Isadore and Kassie struck his arms, Dyre and Euclyd struck the legs, while Nuttz aimed her manashooter straight for his face, popping a hole through his cheek.

Malachi: “GYAAARGH! You… how? You should not be able to—”

Malachi turned back to Akupara. Though her body was still wounded and she was still in a weak state, Mana was flowing from her body, and to the six who stood before him.

Nuttz: “I mean, this is the Domain of the Divine, so you’d think the ‘divine’ would have extra special power.”

Isadore: “The Elemental Beasts themselves are divine entities, but combined with the power of Akupara, I’d say—”

Dyre: “You’re done for!”

Euclyd: “Not quite, brother. But now that we know we’re strong enough to shatter his body—”

Kassie: “It’s time for an all-out attack!”

Zilya: “Everybody, pick a limb and strike! Save the arms for the very end!”

From that decree, the five bodies of the Venturers then spread behind and around Malachi, eager to deal their devastating blows!

Nuttz moved the fastest of the bunch, and immediately flew above Malachi, taking her manashooter and aiming for his left wing. She began by attacking the membrane of his wings, launching powerful Aero bursts that left tears and bruises, without cutting through them. With a frustrated expression and puffed up cheeks, she took her manashooter and began to tinker with it, until she just so happened to press a switch that she did not see until this pivotal moment.

Her manashooter immediately went from firing bursts into unleashing a stream of rapid air moving at half a kilometer a second, which positively shredded through the membrane of the wings. With this newfound last minute power up, She then took aim to the upper arms of the wing. Seconds later, she heard the bones shattered into a dozen tiny pieces.

Nuttz: “…What the frick?! Why did nobody tell me I could do that?”

Kassie took the right wing while her sister was busy with the left. She leapt and dashed around to the backside of Malachi on her four legs, before unleashing a flurry of fireballs that assaulted the back of her target. The scales along the back of the wings were singed, but not destroyed, leading Kassie to reach an irritating conclusion.

Kassie: “Damn it! I know I’m a fox, but why does every battle always end with me biting something to death?”

The fox girl then leaped up to the base of the wing, the part connecting it to Malachi’s back, and sank her Pyro-infused fangs into it, burning the thin flash across the limb, and cracking the bones. With the target weakened, she planted her feet against Malachi’s back and tore off the entire wing. Dark blood splattered across Kassie’s face, but as she tossed the wing off the side of the arena and into the oblivion below, she knew it would all be worth it in the end.

Isadore immediately rushed for Malachi’s left leg as the Venturers made their battle cry, and with his feet unprotected beyond a layer of scales, she quickly took aim at his ankle. To her delight, her Hydro-infused lance penetrated past the scales, and dealt an expected amount of damage. Dark blood flowed out from the shattered ankle, and within a matter of seconds, it was clear that it would be functionally useless for the purpose of battle. However, Isadore was not kind enough to let this slide.

She looked upwards at the backside of the knee, just within reach of her lance. Her time as a soldier taught her that a shattered knee was one of the best ways to cause your enemies pain. And she wanted little more than to make this dastard suffer! With a grimace across her face and fury in her dim violet eyes, she raised her lance and unleashed an enraged flurry against the backside of Malachi’s knee.

Isadore: “You killed my king! You devastated my country! You made me fight against my brothers and sisters in arms! You stole my princess and my prince and made their bodies your own! You are vile! You are scum! And by my hand, you will DIE!”

With the final thrust in this flurry of rage, Isadore pierced past the entire knee and shattered the kneecap. The support structure was devastated and blood was flowing out everywhere. The leg was beyond useless, beyond repair, and as she looked at the sight, all Isadore could do was smile.

Dyre stood back as his allies attacked the various limbs of Malachi, but rather than just dawdling, he was holding onto his blade, already frothing with Umbra Mana, but it was… insufficient. As Dyre looked on at the person before him, he realized he was not a mere foe. He was not only a bringer of suffering, one who attempted to destroy everything that ever existed. He was more than that. 

Dyre: “You… you are not only the Nether Dragon, but you are the one who cursed me. You are the one responsible for it all. You cost me my family, my innocence, and so many things I can only faintly imagine. Twenty years of suffering. The experience of dying again and again, dozens of times. The dread of knowing that I was never anything more than a catalyst for your ‘pet.’ You… you shall feel my hatred. In one. Single. Blow!”

He then rushed to the right leg of Malachi and slashed it once. It was one slash with the power and passion that could only be channeled through obsession and the rawest form of hatred. A slash powerful enough to completely sever Malachi’s leg at the hip, and send it falling to the ground like a one ton piece of meat.

Euclyd and Zilya had chosen to go after Malachi’s tail. His longest and most aggressive limb of them all, swinging and striking at anything that moved, almost instinctively, and employing a manner of different tactics. The sharp spikes along the back of the tail could stab them. The blunt force of the tail could knock them around. And like the serpent it resembled, the tail could try to constrict the life out of them.

It tried to do all of these things, but Zilya and Euclyd had learned how to move their body as one. The trials of Yggdrasil had trained and honed them for an encounter such as this, and now, all they had to do was strike the beast down at its heart. Or in this case, the base of its tail. 

Euclyd: “Zilya, how do you want to end it?”

Zilya: “E-Euclyd? But, he stole your body and— “

Euclyd: “Heh. If the circumstances were different, I might thank him for that. I know what he did to you, and I want you to end this on your own terms.”

Zilya: “…You take out his tail. I… have an idea on how to end him.”

Euclyd: “In that case… Exalted Radiance!

Euclyd’s blade then glowed with Radiant Mana, and he sliced through the tail. However, it only went down to the bone. As Zilya realized this, she unleashed a beam of Radiant Mana, powerful enough to not only shatter the bone, but decimate whatever flesh remained underneath.

Over the span of a few minutes, the Venturers had crippled Malachi. What was once an imposing combination of human and dragon was now a poor excuse for either. A man with no legs to stand upon. A dragon with a severed tail and torn wings. Reduced to this weary state, he merely crawled at the six as they gathered. Not because he thought he could defeat them, but because there was nothing left for him.

Because the only way he could ever accept defeat was through death.

As he crawled forward, Zilya raised her staff, and her allies offered their Mana to her. The power of the Hydro Ox, Pyro Hound, Aero Rooster, Radiant Rabbit, and Umbra Rat were all sent into a single catalyst, and channeled into a single skill. A skill that Malachi could not see initially, but as a light shined upon his face and he gazed upwards, he saw it. A sword of light, larger than him, larger than the Nether Dragon, looming overhead, and aimed directly for him.

Kassie: “For our beautiful world.”

Nuttz: “For all who live within it.”

Dyre: “For the futures yet unwritten.”

Isadore: “For those we love.”

Euclyd: “And for everything that’s good.”

Zilya: “Your end is nigh, Malachi!”

With a smile on Zilya’s face, she swung her staff down, and let the sword of light drop on Malachi.

Malachi: “N-No! It can’t end this way! I was so close! Damn you Zilya! Damn you Euclyd! DAMN YOU AAAALLLL!!!”

Chapter 10: Akupara’s Blessing

The impact of the sword of light was beyond words. A release of Mana more powerful than anything that had been seen or felt in centuries. A blast so powerful it not only destroyed the entirety of Malachi’s body, but the obsidian battlefield they fought him on. 

The battles against Malachi had left their bodies fatigued. The final blow left them bereft of Mana. And so, when the battlefield exploded beneath their feet, their bodies were sent adrift. Floating in the vast, endless void that made up the Domain of the Divine. There, they rested. Perhaps for minutes, perhaps for hours, perhaps even for days. But eventually, once they regained enough strength to open their eyes, they saw Akupara.

Her body showed no signs of battle or damage. Her shell was mended, her fins were pristine, and both her white eyes looked on at the six Venturers with a motherly kindness. A kindness that was mirrored in her voice, sounding not like a giant turtle, but a sweet and loving grandmother.

Akupara: “You’re finally awake! Oh, thank goodness. I was worried for a moment there.”

Isadore: “You… You’re okay, Akupara?”

Akupara: “Yes, my child. You six saved my life, you saved all life. And for that, I cannot offer you enough thanks.”

Nuttz: “Aw shucks. We just did it because it was the right thing to do. We’re heroes after all!”

Akupara: “Indeed you are, but for such a display of bravery and dedication, a simple thanks is simply not enough.”

Dyre: “What are you… What are you saying?”

Akupara: “One wish. I shall give you all one wish. Tell me your greatest desire, and I shall make it a reality.”

Zilya: “A-Are you sure? Such power is—”

Akupara: “Through your actions and your souls, I can tell that you are all pure. Or… at least pure enough. Ahahahahaha!”

The six floating adrift looked at each other in a state of confusion as the offer was raised. It was almost too good to be true. But that did not stop Isadore from speaking up, and making her greatest wish known.

Isadore: “Over the past three months, the Kingdom of Radiata has been devastated. Hundreds have died and thousands have suffered. My king, my comrades, and far too many more, all lost their lives. I know this desire may be broad, or even selfish. But there is nothing in this world that I wish for more than… for the evils of the Nether Empire to be erased from history, and the people it killed to be given life anew.”

Akupara: “Ahahaha! That is a mighty big wish you have there, but I shall make it so. Few things bring me greater sorrow than seeing my children engage in such awful, awful things. I brought you into this world to love one another, to create, to use your brains and your hearts to become something spectacular. And you have. I am immensely proud of what you have achieved… but I always wish it was with less bloodshed.”

The Venturers paused as they took this insight in, comparing it to the teachings they had been taught about the god of Gaia. It was in this momentary crisis of faith that Akupara turned her eyes to the next person in this metaphorical line.

Akupara: “And what of you, young foxling, what is your greatest desire?”

After three seconds, Kassie realized she was speaking to her, and proceeded to respond in a frazzled tone.

Kassie: “I, w-wait, me? I… Oh geez, what does Kassie want? Kassie always wanted to be a Kyuubi, and Kassie became one just a bit ago, so um… lemme think this through and… I-I, um, um—”

Nuttz: “Hey, sis, do you need—”

Kassie: “Oh, I’ve got it! I… You see, Miss Akupara, I love my family’s shrine, but it’s really far away, and over the years, it hasn’t stood up to the elements all that well, and then it got messed up by the picklekins and—”

Nuttz: “Focus!”

Kassie: “What I wish for is for our shrine to be bigger and nicer and prettier and closer to people so we can have festivals and parties and make a lotta people happy and teach them stuff!”

Nuttz: “…Nailed it!”

Kassie: “S-Shut up! I don’t do well under pressure!”

Akupara: “Ohohohoho! You’re a cute little thing. Very well. I know how important the Vulpes shrine was to you, and after spending so much of your life with no one but your family, your desires are as clear as they are pure. Consider it done.”

Kassie: “Th-Thank you, thank you, thank you Miss Akupara!”

Akupara: “As I said, I should be thanking you all, and I am. Now then, Nuttz, since your sister took care of the shrine, what is it that you desire most of all?”

Nuttz: “Easy! I wanna be my bigger Fae form whenever I want, for as long as I want! I can do a couple hours a day at this point, but I wanna be able to be BIG Nuttz for a whole month if I feel like it! …In fact, maybe you could make this wish a bit less selfish by sharing the buff with the rest of my Fae folks! …Or is that a bit too much?”

Akupara: “Hm… I did have a reason for not letting the Fae assume their larger forms back when I made them so, so many millennia ago. I did not want them to become a violent or rude sort. But they have been such a delight and so kind to this world, that I think it’s time to change that. It shall be a boon to you, young Nuttz, and to all Fae across Gaia.”

Nuttz: “Heck yeah! Score one for my kind!”

Kassie: “You make it sound like you’ve met other Fae before, but you never have…”

Nuttz: “And whose fault is that! More Fae should move to Radiata! It’s cool in my hood!”

Dyre: “Assume you two are done, I would like to go next.”

Nuttz: “Go for it, mister dark and edgy!”

Dyre: “…After having slain the Nether Dragon and Malachi, my greatest desire has been fulfilled. Though my body may no longer be immortal, I am left with only one desire. A desire to claim the life that was stolen from me. Akupara, I wish to live as a member of the royal family.”

Akupara: “Why, of course dear. I know you never got to know them, but your father felt awful for what he did to you. He wanted nothing more than to love you and see who you would become. Even years later, he still wept for you.”

Dyre: “I… so, he did care? W-Would he have accepted me if I had—”

Akupara: “Yes, dear.”

Dyre: “Then… could you—”

Akupara: “Give you the life you never had, and all that would have come with it?”

Dyre: “H-How did you know I was going to…”

Akupara: “You’re not quite as mysterious as you think yourself to be, Dyre. It was plain that all you wanted was the life you were entitled to from birth, and it is my pleasure to make this desire a reality.”

With a smile on her reptilian face, Akupara then nudged herself slightly to look at the shared body of Euclyd and Zilya.

Akupara: “Now then, Euclyd and Zilya, you two have been through great hardships these past three months. Traveling across Gaia, toppling foul empires, and growing far… closer than any pair of siblings ever have before. Although, your situation is not unheard of…”

Euclyd: “I, that is to say, Euclyd, will go first. Akupara, after spending so much time bonded with Zilya, I have come to rethink myself. Rethink who I am and who I want to be for the rest of my days. My greatest desire would be to restore order across Radiata, but with Isadore’s wish already handling that, I fear my next greatest desire is a deeply selfish one. I… I wish to return to a body of my own, but not… not the body I had known for the first twenty years of my life. I wish to be reborn in a new form. That of… Zilya’s sister. That of a woman.”

Isadore & Nuttz & Kassie: EEEEEEHHH?!

Isadore: “M-My prince! Euclyd, please, are you certain this is what you want?”

Dyre: “It has been three weeks since you shared a meaningful conversation with Euclyd. And in that time, I found it hard to believe that they ever once were a boy. They took to Zilya’s body well, found comfort in it, and after what we did together, I was certain that their soul was no longer that of a man.”

Nuttz: “…Wait, so did you two— erm, three, I guess— have sex together?”

Kassie: “I mean, is that such a big deal? We all had sex together at least once and—”

Isadore & Nuttz: KASSIE!!! Not in front of Akupara!”

Akupara: “Ohohohoho! There is nothing you should feel ashamed to share with me, my children. No matter how ‘uncommon,’ I care not how my children make love to one another, so long as they do it with love. And just from the look on your faces, I can tell that was the case.”

Zilya: “Euclyd and I… discussed this in detail, and if they want to become my sister, I… I would love that. So long as it brings her joy, it will bring me joy. Besides, I always wanted a sister, and I think it would be a lot of fun showing Euclyd how to be a precious young maiden.”

Akupara: “Do you have a new name in mind, my child? And what of your old body?”

Euclyd: “I would like to be named Ilia. It is a beautiful name, and I always felt a certain bond with it. I didn’t understand why… until now. As for my old body, I would like you to give it to Pickalou. He played a pivotal role in the defeat of Malachi, and within my form, he came into his own. The Picklekins are a race that crave to be killed or consumed. But during his time in my body, Pickalou became so much more than that. He became… human. As such, I would like to give him life anew… assuming that is okay with you.”

Akupara: “Why, it is my pleasure to revive heroes who fell before their time. It is true that Pickalou did develop a human soul during these past few weeks, and, as part of Isadore’s wish, I intended to revive him, but now I know the best way to do so. As a prince of Radiata.”

Nuttz: “The vegetable who became prince… sounds almost like a kids’ book.”

Zilya: “I suppose I’m last and, with everybody’s other desires already made, mine is a selfish and… controversial one. I wish for Malachi to be revived.”

Isadore & Nuttz & Kassie & Dyre: “WHAT?!”

Zilya: “This is something that Euclyd, erm, Ilia and I discussed. While he was within my body, Malachi told me his origin. That he was just a child once, one who was exposed to profound abuse and suffering, robbing him of any hope and belief in goodness in the world. This despair gave into a lust of power, and upon obtaining it, he discarded his humanity and became something far worse. He became the Destroyer. Deep down, deep within him, I know there is a person there, and it is that person that I want to be revived. To be reincarnated anew, with none of the hatred and pain that once bogged him down. I want him to become one of my siblings. I want to teach him how to open his heart! How to love.”

Akupara: “While even I find it hard to pity someone who sought to destroy me and the entire world I created… I find your kindness admirable. Per your desire, I shall make it true. I shall give them a form matching their desire, and they shall join you in this new world.”

Isadore: “So, is that all? W-What’s going to happen now?”

Akupara: “You shall all fall asleep, my children, and when you awaken, you will be in the new world, forged and shifted by your deepest desires. However, as one final expression of my thanks, I shall grant you all the ability to speak to me directly. After Malachi’s trickery, I see the foolishness in deeming one person an avatar, and binding entry of their realm to their body, not their soul.”

The six Venturers then felt a tingling over their bodies, and as they looked down, they realized their forms were beginning to fade away, that they were leaving the Domain of the Divine.

Akupara: “Venture forth my children, and enjoy a world forged by your deepest desires!”

With those words, the six were blinded by a gleaming light. A light that would cast them into this new world.

Chapter 11: A New World

As the afternoon came to an end across Castle Radiata, two men walked through the courtyard, one young and the other past his prime. The young man was tall and athletic, at the height of his health and fitness, and carried himself with a level of grace as his white jacket fluttered behind him. His short hair was colored an eye-catching scarlet and cut short, his eyes a light turquoise, and his skin pale. 

The older man was large and imposing, and while strength and vigor continued to flow through his body, the signs of age were apparent just by looking at his face. A face shrouded by a dense beard, colored more gray than blonde, with green eyes that had grown pale in recent years. A thick burgundy coat covered his frame, one engraved with the crest of Radiata. A casual outfit, surely, but one befitting Radiata’s king, Cornelius.

Together, they moved slowly, scanning their eyes over the gardens. Autumn was nearing its end, and winter was near, meaning that many of the flowers had already withered , but a few still remained as they were, standing tall. 

Red-Haired Man: “So, what is it you wanted to say to me, father?”

King Cornelius: “My son, nothing I could do would ever right my wrongs. Before now, you led a life of hardships I can only scarcely imagine. However, through our time together these past months, I can see you did not allow yourself to be defined by hatred. You possess great patience and compassion, and though you may be too headstrong for your own good, you have the qualities to become a strong leader. Dyre, in the next few years, you will inherit the throne.”

Dyre: “Father, I… thank you.”

King Cornelius: “To be a good ruler, one needs perspective, and in her infinite wisdom, Akupara has given you memories of two lives. Life as a prince, and life as a mercenary. Through these two, you possess every skill needed to be a ruler.”

Dyre: “Please, father, you’re exaggerating my wisdom. I am still young, and have much to learn. But… I am fortunate to have someone like you to teach me.”

King Cornelius: “Ha! Keep that up, and you will be king material in no time!”

Cornelius offered Dyre a hardy slap on the back, but he did not so much as flinch. Instead, Dyre returned the favor, throwing his arm around his father.

Dyre: “But, what of Ilia? She was in line before me. Did she agree to this?”

King Cornelius: “Oh, that girl. She would make a fine queen, but now, following her rebirth, she has enough on her plate. She promised me she would support you however she could once you’re king, but her passions have… drifted since her quest began, and it changed her. In more ways than one.”

A wall away from the courtyard resided a small field reserved for sparring and training. For knights of Radiata to hone their skills and maintain their strength during times of peace. With the sun low, all guards had dispersed off to the mess hall for an early dinner, while two lone figures remained. 

The Grand Knight Isadore, clad in her sapphire armor and with her silver hair fluttering in the wind. With her trusty lance in hand, she sparred with her usual opponent.A blonde man with emerald eyes, young, spry, and dressed in plain leather armor, as it was foolish to train in anything more elaborate. 

As Isadore looked upon his body, her instincts often told her it was prince Euclyd she was looking at, but while the body was the same, the mind was not, and neither was the name. For the man before her was Prince Louie. A crucial ally in the defeat of Malachi and a former Picklekin… but if she were to tell anyone that, they’d think she was daft at worst, or pulling their leg at best. That was because she was one of the few people who remembered the old world, who remembered the third war against Malachi. To everyone else, he was always Prince Louie.

As Isadore blocked his blows with a sword, she remarked at his progress. Despite having only been alive for a scant five months, Louie was attacking with the speed, strength, and skill of a venerated knight. She remembered back when he could barely swing a sword upon first claiming this body as his own. Now, he was moving like a young knight after only having a fraction of the training. Truly, he was getting better with every passing day. …But that did not mean he was even close to Isadore’s level.

When she spied a sloppy movement and a wide opening, she cast the blade from Louie’s hand, and pressed her weapon against his chest, pushing him to the ground. With Isadore towering over him, her lance aimed at his head, Louie let out a childish laugh.

Louie: “Ahahaha! Ya got me again!”

With a snicker, Isadore put her lance aside and offered him a hand, lifting him off the field of well trodden grass.

Isadore: “You’re getting better every passing day—”

Louie: “—’But you’re still ten years too green before you’ll be an even match for me.’ Yeah, yeah, cut me some slack for once!”

Isadore: “I was going to say you were only ten months away from being an even match.”

Louie: “Heh. Are you trying to get on my good side or something?”

Isadore: “Perhaps. But remember, there is still much for you to learn. Akupara might have given you a lot of memories when she gave you this new life, but that is no substitute for hard work and practice. And as a prince, there are many things you must be more than proficient at. Reading, writing, public speaking, diplomacy, debate, the arts, and so forth. I’m glad that you are still eager to learn your way around a weapon but—”

As Isadore criticized Louie, a gust of powerful wind caused her to topple backwards, where she landed in Louie’s hands. She looked up at him with a bitter expression, only for Louie to plant a kiss on her lips.

Louie: “You know, you can be a real nag sometimes… but I know it’s only because you care, and I love you for that.”

After that backhanded compliment, Louie went in for another kiss, only for Isadore to shove her hand into his face.

Isadore: “Of course I care for you. It’s part of my job to—”

Louie: “Come on, don’t give me that crap. I’ve got a full brain now, and I’m nowhere near as oblivious as Euclyd. You know how I feel about you, I’ve seen the way you look at me, so just be honest with yourself and let’s head to my room. It’ll just be like old times! Hahaha!”

Isadore: “W-What? Y-You shouldn’t expect things to be like this in the old world. I have my honor and valor as a Grand Knight to consider, and I don’t just want to be…. The prince’s fling! I-If you want me to be involved in a serious relationship like that then… you’ll have to marry me!”

Louie: “Marry you? Seriously? Hahaha! Terrific! I thought it’d be years before we had this discussion, but I’m game if you are! I don’t have a ring on me now, but you know I’m good for one!”

Isadore’s brain crashed as she tried to process what was happening, and once it recovered, she was looking down at a blonde man, bent on one knee, lightly clutching her hand.

Louie: “Grand Knight Isadore, would you marry me?”

Isadore: “Eh… Eh?! EEEEEEHHH?!?!?!

Within the wall of Castle Radiata, workers of all trades and skills were hustling about in a flurry of activity, for there was always something that needed to be done and somewhere they needed to be. However, tucked away in a secluded bedroom, past all the hustle and bustle, sat two ‘nobles.’ 

One was a young fox demihuman with poofy ears and nine tails pouring from the small of her back, her body curled up in a ball as she rested on a bed, completely naked.

While the other was a Fae with dark indigo hair, dressed in a purple dress that looked as if it was originally sewn for a doll. She sat at one of the two desks in the room, her chair’s seat propped up by a jar of cookies, and groaned as she looked at the sight before her. A desk positively overflowing with papers, folders, and opened books that piled on top of each other. She scribbled a tiny pencil against a piece of parchment, but as the graphite snapped in her hands, whatever composure she had snapped along with it.

Nuttz: “UGH! My head is going to explode if I gotta keep on fussin’ with all of this… bureaucratic balderdash! If I knew planning a festival would take this much work, I would’ve just stayed up in the boonies. Guh! So, how’re  you holding up Kass? …Kass?”

Nuttz then turned her head to see Kassie resting on the only bed in the room, her red kimono left laying on the floor, and her desk covered in papers. As Nuttz looked at this sight, her cheeks grew puffy and in a burst of light, she adopted her bigger form.

Nuttz: “You’re sleeping on the frickin’ job again! You do know that we still have responsibilities! If we don’t get the paperwork organized for this year’s Turtleyule Festival, you know who will? Frickin’ no one, that’s who! Now get up and get to work!”

Kassie: “Noooo! Kassie is sleepy, so she’s gonna sleep!”

Nuttz: “Come on! It’s to celebrate Akupara! You want to thank her for everything she did for us, right?”

Kassie: “Kassie knows, but she worked her tails off saving the world. And foxes like me get sleepy during the winter.”

Nuttz: “It’s still autumn, ya dorkus! Now get up, and hit the papers!”

Kassie: “Noooo! How about you join me in bed? Come, come, let’s have a sisterly snuggle!”

Nuttz: “We can— tonight— after you do at least some work.”

Kassie: “Hmph! I liked it better at the old shrine. With this new one, we don’t even get to hang out anymore, and there are always visitors.”

Nuttz: “The old shrine’s still up at Mount Rapuken if you wanna be a hermit. Personally, I like the idea of hosting a shindig with thousands of people, dozens of stalls, oodles of games, and lots of delicious fried foods!”

Kassie: “Sounds like fun to visit… but we’re heroes, and heroes need to rest!”

Nuttz: “You had a month of doing nothing already, now go to your desk and work, or do you want your precious sister to do all the work for you?”

Kassie: “Really? You’re offering to do my work for me?”

With a groan, Nuttz grabbed Kassie like a ball and threw her to the wall, where she bounded off the brick and landed in her chair.

Nuttz: “Work or you’re getting no snuggles all winter!”

Kassie: “Eh? Y-You’re kidding right?”

Nuttz:NOPE! You agreed to this job, miss festival planner, so you gotta do it before you do me, got it?”

Kassie whimpered in response before looking at the work before her. For as much as she wanted to host parties and festivals, her ignorance shrouded her from the bureaucratic busywork that was involved in anything involving hundreds of vendors. 

Kassie: “Next festival, I’m just gonna sing and dance instead. Those are the only fun parts! …That and the food… and dresses… Ugh!

Past the walls of Castle Radiata, off in the northeast, rested a large hill that overlooked the castle. The view was ordinarily wonderful, but with the sun setting in the background, it was simply divine. Residents of Radiata City would venture to see this sight every now and again, but today, it was occupied by only two. Two women who sat on a blanket, resting in the shade of the tree, a basket full of fruit and sandwiches resting between them. As they both reached in for the same apple, their hands touched, and their eyes drifted from the setting sun to one another.

The first girl had silky blonde hair that flowed down her back, gorgeous sapphire blue eyes, and dressed in a white dress, with a dark violet jacket on top. The other girl had rose blonde hair that brushed past her shoulders, beautiful emerald green eyes, and dressed in a lavender dress, with a bright red jacket over her shoulders. Despite some differences in color, it was clear that the two were twins. They shared the same fair and smooth skin, their builds were both lean yet busty, and as they looked upon each other with near identical faces, they shared the same smile.

Zilya: “You take it, Ilia. I’ll just have some of the cider instead.”

Ilia: “I, um, I was actually going to grab one of the sandwiches.”

Zilya: “Oh? In that case—”

Zilya then grabbed one of the tiny sandwiches from the basket, taking a small bite into it while shutting her eyes, examining the flavors thoroughly and fully, before turning to her sister with a smile.

Zilya: “Hehehe. Those girls in the kitchen sure taught you well.”

Ilia: “Oh please, it’s just a sandwich. But… I have been enjoying cooking more than I thought I would.”

Zilya: “Oh, hush! You’ve been cooking since we went on our adventure together. And I know you’ve enjoyed it since day one.”

Ilia: “Well, it is taking something raw and unrefined and making it into something nutritious, delicious, or just plain edible if that’s all we can do.”

Zilya: “Well, I think you managed all three with flying colors. It’s so nice to see you try so many new things, sis.”

Zilya continued to chomp down on her sandwich, smiling as she chewed.

Ilia: “What can I say? It’s a lot of fun to be able to express myself in these new ways, not worried about needing to live up to some sort of ideal as a ‘paragon of masculinity’ or anything like that.”

Zilya: “It really does feel like you’ve come out of your shell since then. Not that you weren’t happy before, but now, I feel like you do everything because you earnestly want to.”

Ilia: “Heh I guess I do. And that’s why I’ve been spending so much time with you, because even though we’ve got our own bodies again, I still wanna spend the rest of my life by your side.”

Ilia then leaned into Zilya, and planted a kiss on her cheek, causing her fair skin to blush.

Zilya: “You’re such a cutie!”

The two then embraced one another in a hug, laughing as they fell down onto the blanket. Their eyes locked as they prepared for another kiss… only to pause as they heard something rustling in the forest behind them. Ilia loosened herself away from her sister’s grip as she turned to investigate. Her warrior’s instinct told her to expect a beast, fiend, or baddie of some variety. Instead, she was met with the sight of a young woman.

A young woman with fair skin and white hair, wearing a dress that neatly blended in with the dark greens of the forest behind her, and a pair of familiar dark purple horns atop her head. A surprised look appeared on her face as Ilia stared into this girl’s dark green eyes, leading her to avert her gaze. She clutched her frail arms nervously before she spoke in a quiet voice.

White-Haired Girl: “Um, would you mind if I joined you two?”

Both Ilia and Zilya immediately broke out into smiles.

Zilya: “Of course, Malaya. Come, sit with us and watch the sunset.”

The white-haired girl, Malaya, then joined Ilia and Zilya, sitting between the two, and making the similarities between the three obvious. They were triplets, all with the same frame and face, just with slightly different colors to their hair and eyes.

Ilia: “You know, if you want to join us, all you ever need to do is ask.”

Malaya: “A-Are you sure? I was so cruel to you when I woke up like this and—”

Zilya: “Malaya, you were angry and confused. Everything you knew changed in an instant. It would be weirder if you were acting like everything was normal.”

Malaya: “T-That was my original plan, but as I saw this body before me, I just…”

Ilia: “Couldn’t help yourself?”

Zilya: “Akupara did say this was your dream body, which was a bit strange but after what you put me through—”

Malaya: “N-No! I don’t want to talk about that! I… I did so much wrong back then and I want to make amends, but I don’t know how. You gave me a second chance for a reason and—”

Ilia: “Malaya, we’ve been over this. We brought you back to life because… it is the right thing to do. Because Zilya and I believe that, no matter how wicked—”

Zilya: “There is something precious within everyone.”

Ilia and Zilya threw their arms around Malaya, wrapping her in a sisterly three-person hug. She returned the favor, tossing her arms around her new sisters.

Malaya: “Thank you… for giving me a second chance.”

Das Ende

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  1. Cassandra Wright

    Two weeks were never better spent.