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Chapter 5-19

Page history last edited by some editor 8 years, 10 months ago

Three days of marching. Three long arduous and silent days of trekking through the wilderness. Off the beaten path, away from the civilized lands of man and into the waiting maw of monster kind. On the fringes of The Marches, in the shadow of the mountain range which encloses it off from the rest of the world, sits a grassy hinterland. I savored the peace and quiet of the land which was oh so different from the death march we had just ended. Underneath a lone tree crowning a small hill and overlooking a quaint village, I finally had my long awaited moment of rest.


The feel of my old blue jeans and shirt, the comforting feeling of my worn in leather jerkin, gloves and boots, each one soothed me. I felt as though I could fall into a sleep like Rip Van Winkle at any moment. But then I would miss everything I had worked toward. Below me all the girls we had rescued were gathered. Near them, Shoshanah was discussing something just out of earshot with the village elder. A very tall woman. With bodybuilder muscles, short boy's cut hair and a dirt stained but southern belle farmer girl's face... And that's about where the human stopped. She had digitigrade, bovine legs from the waist down covered in shaggy brown fur. She stood on a pair of massive hooves with thick iron horse shoes underneath. A pair of massive bovine horns protruded out of her head, just like a bull's. She stood there, a good couple heads taller than Shoshanah, with her arms crossed over her chest while listening to our plea. I hoped against hope they would agree.


That minotaur woman was not alone; a pair of other women—who looked like twins—with insectoid features like those of a wasp stood guard beside her with iron tipped pikes at ease. They had human silhouettes but came complete with bright yellow and black abdomens which jutted out from their backsides, each tipped with a wicked dagger-like stinger. Their arms and legs were encased in long chitinous boots and gloves, and a pair of thin membrane wings stuck out of their shoulder blades. Those girls also had two smaller pairs of hands sprouting from their sides, currently crossed over their stomachs, while antenna and pairs of compound eyes protruded from their long black hair.


Behind them were all manner of monster from those with traits from cow to sheep so on and so forth. I spotted a few men and boys here and there too. It was a ranch we had sniffed out far away from the turmoil that ravaged the rest of The Marches. Some would call it a demon realm; but after seeing one for myself back up north, I would call that an absurd notion. This place was peaceful and kind. If these girls couldn't go back to the abbey or anywhere else that the Church has power, this was the best we could do for them... Although I still wasn't sure it was for the best.


Minte and Chris were busy keeping the girls herded together and safe. They had been around those two for long enough to know they were harmless. Some had already opened up to them a bit. It was easy for Chris who could act just like a child at times. Some thought Minte looked really cool and mature. I could tell from the way her antenna spun about that she was actually overwhelmed and embarrassed with all the attention. She wasn't used to being seen, let along have kids pull at her and wanting to play.


My eyes turned toward Ba'el. She had awoken after the second day. The girl couldn't move very well though. We had to keep carrying her for a whole day until she could wobble and slowly walk on her own. It was as though her muscles had suffered a couple years worth of atrophy. I guessed, and she confirmed, that it had to do with the punishment she received for breaking her contract. How did she not die from it? That she refused to answer. Maybe she didn't know? She certainly didn't say anything more about well... anything. Ba'el was keeping rather uncharacteristically quiet and reserved about it. Even now Feena, Gloria and Heather were surrounding and overwhelming her with questions and attention... The look on the demon's face told me she was ready to freak out at any moment. Especially with Heather who kept pulling on her tail and laughing.


Did she end up really finding that answer she was looking for? I was curious... Maybe I saved the demon because I wanted to hear it from her... Nah, I wish I were that enigmatic. It's probably because I'm a putz who couldn't stand the thought of what would happen to that girl if I didn't stand up for her... Saving her meant I had robbed that Grand Cardinal of her prize. That had to sting. I wouldn't be surprised if she tried again. Would the demon be strong enough by then? Would this place be safe with her in it? I had made some pretty crazy threats in the heat of the moment. Maybe she would be safe for just a little while. Dammit, the more I thought the more unsure I became.


     "Was it worth it?" I asked out loud to myself.


I shouldn't mince words: I completely lost it a few days ago. There were a lot of emotions that boiled over, and I may have taken things too far. This end may be what I wanted, maybe not, but the means still left a bad taste in my mouth. Threatening to lynch old ladies, no matter how powerful they are, may undermine my moral authority. Had I gone too far?


    A familiar voice stirred me from my nap, "If you went through with it, we woulda' heard from them again by now."


Rose had pulled herself from the chaos below and made her way over to my tree. A few comforting words was her gift to me.


     “Heya,” she said as she poked her head out from behind the tree.


     “Hey,” I replied, half asleep.


She sat herself down right next to me without even asking. I shouldn't be surprised about that. She lacked at least that much tact.


     "Can't move that fast with a bunch of girls. It'd be about as fair a fight between a drunk man and the whole town guard if they wanted to chase us."


     "I guess that's a fair point."


There was an awkward pause for a moment.


     "You didn't actually do it, did you?" She asked in a hushed voice.


     "I just left her hanging," I replied, "I'm sure they found her before those old legs of hers gave out."


I was vague enough that she didn't seem to pick up exactly what I was talking about, yet she seemed to believe me. My word seemed enough for her, and she didn't feel the need to press me any further. I did catch a sigh of relief out of the corner of my eye though.


     "Besides... Even if she tendered an early resignation, it wouldn't make anything better. For one, we'd have a marauding band of vengeful paladins after us. Two, she might get replaced with someone worse. This isn't bandits, thieves and vigilante justice. There's heavy politics and power plays I'd rather not get tangled up in... And three, the two of us had our differences, we played our cards and we happened to come out on top. Maybe not because it was a fair fight, but a win is a win," I let out a deep sigh, "Only I think it's gonna bite me in the ass later. I just can't seem to think I did the right thing."


We watched the happenings below. It was the type of mingling you'd get at a grade school dance. Everyone lined up against opposite walls, too afraid to cross over... At least from one side. Those kids had a lot of baggage. It didn't help they had been raised from their first memories to fear monsters as creatures that would eat them or steal their souls... Sometimes both at the same time.


     Rose waited for half a minute before she spoke, “I think it's gonna be alright for 'em.”


I sighed because I still wasn't able to muster up that much confidence.


     “In the end I'm not much different from the Cardinal or the Abbey.”


Rose looked over at me and tilted her head, “Why's that?”


     “It's still not their choice. I'm not their parent, just some stranger dropping them into the lap of more strangers... It's the best I can do, but even I'm not sure if it's the right choice.”


     “You should stop thinking and just look,” She said pointing down below.


Though the village elder and Shoshanah had yet to finish discussions, one of the girls had strayed from the group and ran into one of the village women. She was a little portly with massive knockers and bovine legs, a cow's tail swishing behind her and little horn nubs coming out of her head. The bob cut hair was colored just like the fur on her legs, white with splotches of black. She squat down and smiled warmly at the child who was frozen to the spot in fear. The cow woman just opened up her arms and waited for the child to approach on her own. When she did so slowly, the woman hugged her tight. Two cow ears on the sides of her head flapped in delight while she smothered the poor girl between her massive breasts... But I think I saw the girl's face relax and a smile return to her face.


     Rose couldn't suppress her own smile, “See? That one's got one hell of a material instinct.”


     “Maternal. It's Maternal instinct, Rose.”


     “But look!” She said pointing excitedly at the pair still in mid embrace “They'll be just fine.”


     “-Or maybe just end up turning them into monsters themselves.”


     “That's what you told Susan to take care of. Make em agree to not push em or force it on 'em. They just need place to stay till they're big enough to take on the world.”


I hemmed and hawed. I still couldn't muster up that much confidence.


     Rose leaned over and stuck her face in front of me, “Hey. You really like kids, don'tcha?”


     “To be honest, Rose... I could go without dealing with kids for a while.”


     “Hmm? That's a shame.”


For some reason my heart skipped a beat. I looked up at Rose, and I think the feeling might have been mutual. Her face had gone beet red and no doubt mine had as well.


     “Ah ha ha ha~” She laughed nervously, “Oh Laven, yer such a kidder. Ah ha ha ha~”


Rose pulled away and sat, curled up defensively, right next to me, still laughing a bit. I was restless and couldn't wipe the red off my face so I stood up to leave that sinking feeling behind. The salamander followed me, and so we stood underneath the tree together and watched the exchanging and mingling below us. It took a bit, but the awkward feeling faded away. That was all Rose needed to break that peaceful silence once again.


     “Hey. Laven... Thanks.”


I turned my head to look at her profile, claws folded behind her back as she rocked back and forth on the heels of her talons, long red pony tail and black ribbon fluttering in the breeze together.


     She continued to look ahead as she spoke, “In the cave...” Her face turned to me, and she flashed a big sharp toothed smile, “Let her go!” Rose said in a deep voice trying to mimic my own.


Here came the blush again. I looked away embarrassed, but I couldn't get away from her voice in my ear.


     “Although I still coulda' done it on my own,” She boasted.


     “Uh-huh, sure, whatever you say, Rose,” I said, teasing her a little.


     “Hey! I'm serious!”


     “I'm not gonna disagree,” I said in a monotonous sarcastic tone while shrugging my shoulders.


I took a peak back at her and saw her puffing her cheeks out in a pout. There was no way I could keep a straight face when a girl had her face like that. I broke out into a quiet laugh. She couldn't keep it up either, and she also laughed... And then slapped me across the back hard enough to almost knock me over.


     “But really...” She began to say seriously, “You were brave. Real brave. Seeing it makes me feel as though I were falling in love with you all over again.”


Thump. My heart almost escaped from my chest with that one. I turned my head away, and a finger of mine strayed and embarrassingly scratched my cheek on reflex as I chucked weakly.


     “So smile, Laven! This is your reward for all your blood sweat and tears! Add a notch to your victory count. Take a breather... We got a long way to go yet, right?”


I looked back to see Rose swing her arm and clench her claws dramatically as she puffed out her chest and lifted up her chin with pride and conviction. I couldn't disagree with her.


     I did smile and say, “Yeah, that we do.”


     “And another thing,” She said while walking around behind the tree with her claws behind her back, “What was that you told Heather back in the cave?


Shit. She was playing uncharacteristically coy as she goose-stepped mechanically. Rose was acting like a cat toying with a mouse.


     I tugged at my shirt collar, “I-I'm not sure what you're talking about.”


     “Come on. What did ya say? Come on. I thought I heard you say-”


     “You must have heard things!” The words came spitting out my mouth. Lots of falling rocks. The brain does funny things like fill in missing parts to make patterns out of nothing. Yeah. Something like that!”


     “Hmmm?” Rose said with a look that had to mean she was just teasing me now. “I'm sure I heard a thing. That's why I'm wondering if it was you saying-”


     “And one more thing!” A chipper and high pitched voiced interrupted me.


I flailed when something came from out of my blind spot and jumped up into my chest. I only just barely managed to catch it. A pair of fuzzy paws wrapped around my neck as Ba'el hung off of me while catching me off guard into carrying her princess style once more.


     The little demon narrowed her eyes seductively at me and cooed, “My hero~”


     “Ack!” Rose muttered as she froze up at the sight of the demon in my arms.


I too voiced my confusion, “Ba'el?”


     “What?” She said, halfway between annoyed and confused, “Can't a girl thank her hero too? I must say though, I never expected that kind of guts out of a person like you... What I'm left wondering is why~ you'd be so desperate to save a girl like me~.”


The inflection she was giving certain words along with her seductive gaze was putting me off my center and embarrassing me even further. That caused Ba'el to giggle and kick her legs playfully while in my arms.


     “I think I've grown to like you quite a bit... But more importantly, you gotta take some responsibility.”


Rose and I both looked like lightning had struck us both. Ba'el grinned and laughed jovially as a blue pentagram made of light slowly formed on her forehead. I felt a sting on my buttocks soon after it formed completely.


     “Wai-What?” I yelped.


I kept holding onto Ba'el with one arm and quickly pulled my jeans down far enough to uncover the searing and stinging feeling that felt like I had just been bitten on the ass. Glowing green and clear as day was a green pentagram just a little off center and to the right on my right ass cheek.


     The demon was chipper and her voice jovial, “You never specified terms, but that's just fine with me. I hope we can get along, Big Brother. Eeeeeeek! I've always wanted to say that!”


She removed her hands from my neck to squish her cheeks between her paws as she squealed. I had to quickly pull my hand back to catch her; lest she slip free from my other hand and fall to the ground. Before I could recover completely, she put my head in the vice grip that was her paws and pulled my face down without an ounce of effort to kiss me on the cheek.


Rose's tail erupted into an inferno as she pointed a claw at the two of us and screamed.


Please no.


     “No fair!” she protested, “I was gonna do that next!”


Rose grabbed hold of my left arm and started to shake me back and forth. I almost toppled over; Ba'el had let go and wrapped her arms back around my neck and laughed as we both shook back and forth together.


Another hand grabbed hold of my right arm, Minte had appeared out of nowhere and was staring up at me with a slight blush on her face. Her eyes were a little wet... a little expectant as she stepped up on the tips of her toes to bring her face closer to mine with pursed lips. Chris came from behind; her massive breasts caught my head between them as she leaned on me.


     “Hey, what's going on now?” She shouted seemingly oblivious.


Shoshanah came running up last shouting something incoherent I couldn't quite catch as she pointed at everyone. Her face was also flushed red, and she argued with each girl one by one to let me go. Ba'el snidely suggested she was jealous... That caused Susan to fume smoke out of her ears, go completely red and nearly pass out; she exploded into an even greater rage than before.


I stood there, at least I tried to, with a blank look on my face and life no doubt driven from my eyes. This is gonna be a thing now... Isn't it?




Far to the east of The Marches, on the furthest edge of the continent, night had already fallen. Fierce winds and a spring tide from the full moon caused the cold ocean waters to crash against the shore and an ancient structure that loomed at the cliff's edge: a giant lighthouse long forgotten by the Empire's expansive libraries. Certainly no living human would remember it either. The crashing of fierce, relentless and deadly waves, the salinity of the barren soil layered on worthless rock and the absolute absence of sea life saw to that. It was one out of a series built along the treacherous coast, and it was the only one still left standing after thirteen-hundred years. Against the darkness of the night, only the pale full moon made it cast a shadow and silhouette that made it stand out in the early twilight darkness.


The land was barren, salty brine kicked up from the ocean made sure of that. There were only small tidal animals, barnacles and muscles clinging to the cold rocks. That was until one lithe and graceful figure stepped and leaped off the rocks with quickness, precision and grace. A long black trail of hair and knife tail billowed from her head as she ran; the pale moon reflecting the black and pink of her dress. Her nose and mouth was covered by a pink mask; her white skin marked by tribal tattoos that told those who knew that they meant that she was a member of the kunoichi Shadow Glade clan, Shizuka.


Weeks ago her master, Milonia, had sent her on a very important mission. She was to find the hideout of the elusive Elektra, princess and daughter of the Demon Lord herself. Her reconnaissance, her sleuthing and her tracking had led her to the end of the world. Beyond the roiling waters were the islands of her ancestors, but to cross the ocean directly instead of around it was suicide for any vessel. Only the denizens of the oceans dared cross those murky black waters. That is why this part of the world has been totally forgotten. There is nothing here to be gained by any man. The only reason this place was built was so it may act as an outpost. A guard house to warn the Empire should the Demon Lord Ulrik'el'Shemsalar invade the Empire's mainland from this far East. It served its purpose and was then left to rest in peace.


Then Princess Elektra reconstructed it.


The height of the lighthouse was impressive. A wide and sturdy twenty stories high. Shizuka wasted no time when she reached it's base and began to climb it using a pair of climbing gloves tipped with sharp claws. The tip of her devil's tail wasn't a spade like others of the succubi type; it was sharp and pointed like a knife, and it could also extend. When she needed to cross a section of the exterior lighthouse that could not support her weight, least the hand and footholds crumble, she secured her feet and threw her tail like a grappling hook. She wrapped the tail around her thighs and made use of it as a makeshift harness to hoist herself up the side of the lighthouse.


Climbing the lighthouse was child's play for the ninja. It didn't take longer than a minute to scale the lighthouse, and she entered it from the only visible entrance, above.


There had once been a magical contraption here to illuminate the land for leagues around. It could even pierce the darkness of the water like daylight, but that light had been removed centuries ago. Yet beneath the lighthouse, in the caverns carved out below, the radiation from an ancient power, nearly undetectable through the bedrock, remained. The kunoichi moved silently down the steps and descended deeper and deeper. She tread carefully, cautiously, until she had gone much further down than twenty stories. At the bottom was a massive set of cast iron doors.


A mighty lock blocked her path, but she wasn't unprepared. Shizuka plucked what looked like a long string of hair from her flowing ponytail. It was actually a long iron needle. She put the tip of it into the lock; and with a quiet spoken ninjutsu, it came to life and wormed its way into the lock. It tumbled the mechanism, and in a flash the lock was undone. She did not push her way through the door; instead, she muttered one more spell and vanished into a puff of smoke and silently rematerialized on the other side.


Machines were everywhere. Alchemical devices and storage containers and flasks of liquid in all directions. The air was thick with chemicals of all natures, and it buzzed with energy. Still, the ninja leaped into the rafters where tubes and funnels carrying all manner of liquids flowed and bubbled. The lock was nothing, but the maze of all this equipment packed in such a tight space proved an obstacle.


Her presence was less than that of a mouse, but something black and snakelike silently stirred to life in her blind spot.


Shizuka did not sense it, not until it was too late.


     “Gotcha!” A childish voice shouted.


The ninja did not panic as the voice she heard called out in all directions. She didn't stand a chance when several black tendrils seized her by the wrists and ankles and then dragged her off the rafters. She fell until the slack of the tentacles ran out and was left hanging spread eagle. She still did not scream. Not even when the childish giggling got closer and the black viscous tentacles rummaged over her skin and wrapped around her breasts and squeezed them underneath her fishnet top. They only ceased their advance when they reached her groin.


     “I did not expect visitors, nor do I recall inviting anyway,” a woman's voice called out from somewhere deeper in the laboratory.


The childish giggling and molestation did not stop, and the other voice snapped.


     “Nerin! Knock it off already!”


     “Awwww~,” the girly voice pouted.


Something in the form of a young girl but with elvish ears, red colored eyes and teeth more like demonic fangs swung down upside down in front of Shizuka. Her long black hair hung down and swayed to and fro as the girl shifted back and forth. The girl looked like some type of demon, but her legs ended in amorphous blog of black energy which had wrapped themselves up in the rafter above. As the tentacles let go of the ninja, they retreated toward Nerin's shoulders where they gathered and formed two slender arms; beyond where her elbows should rest were black tentacles which still held the ninja aloft.


     “Ne-rin!” that voice said again, becoming more impatient.


     “Fine!” Nerin shouted angrily and then let the ninja go.


Shizuka gracefully fell to the ground on her feet and knelt. She had been dragged and dropped in one of the few open areas underneath the lighthouse. Even then, papers of figures and data scrawled all over them were strewn everywhere with no apparent rhyme or reason. Nerin meanwhile pulled her tentacles back until she had fully human hands. Even the black mass wrapped around the rafters pulled back. The girl mysteriously floated in the air even without holding on. The stuff retreated and formed legs, but now the girl was floating in the air, seated on an orb of black that appeared to be made of pure energy. It seemed to perpetually drip droplets of energy off of it. They never reached the ground and the orb appeared to never run dry. That girl was satisfied to sit and watch, still naked, with a playful smile on her face.


The woman behind the voice finally revealed herself. She wore a white lab coat over a very risqué two-piece of black underwear. Her skin was a flawless fair and white. With slender perfect curves and modest bust. Her most charming asset was a set of long alluring legs she clothed in black thigh high stockings and a pair jet black and sexy boots reaching up to her knees. Sprouting out of her back was a pair of demonic wings that were pure white . From our of her spine, a likewise pure white devil's tail tipped with a spade caged in an intricate piece of silver jewelry swished back and forth. Long elven ears protruded from the side of her head graced with a face of beauty that even caused the heart of the unflappable ninja to flutter. The demon's irises were a bright pink. Her shoulder length hair curled into drills which draped over her shoulder was a metallic silvery-green. From the top of her head, one black, large, lonely and large horn satanically curved toward the ceiling.


     “Princess Elektra,” the ninja said with respects.


     “You are correct.” Her mature soothing voice replied, “I hope for you are-”


     “Hey~ Sis? What's all the noise about?” Another voice called out.


Sliding out from behind some shelves was another demon not unlike the other. She rode in slouched on a chair with four wheels. The demon was dressed in an identical white coat, but had a tight tank top and formfitting short shorts on below. She was barefoot, and the way she carried herself showed that she cared very little about her appearance. The woman was shorter, but with all the same dignified and sexy curves, a not so modest bust. On her back were the pearl white wings and tail from her spine. Her ears were elven shaped, and between them was gorgeous face that indeed made her look related to the other woman. Her eyes were brown and were hidden behind a pair of thick rimmed spectacles. Strands of wavy and scruffy waist length metallic silvery orange hair hung from her head, and crowning that head were a pair of comparatively thin sharp black horns that rose up thirty centimeters straight up.


     Elektra groaned, “Silvia...”


     Shizuka rushed to bow her head again, “Princess Silvia."


     “Oh ho? Visitors? It's been quite some time.”


     “Silvia, now is not the time to play the fool.”


     “Ouch, dear sister,” Silvia said spinning in her chair and dramatically reclining back to clutch her chest with one hand and hold the back of her hand against her forehead. “You should treat your seniors with more respect,” the slovenly demon sarcastically lectured the taller though younger one.


They did not appear to have the grace, but they were one of several princesses. Daughters borne from the union of the Demon Lord and the Hero who was originally sent to slay her. They are the lilim. What happened between those two, and what made them set their difference aside, few know. Each was a potential heir to her mother's throne, and the power they wielded would terrify any mortal.


     Electrka turned back to the kunoichi to demand, “Why did you try to hide from us?”


     “Sneak! Sneak! But Nerin caught her!” she said while floating around on her back in circles around the room.


     “Yes. Good girl, Nerin,” Silvia praised the girl and patted her on the head when she flew down closer toward her.


The girl giggled as the elder lilim smiled, but Electrka grew irritable.


     “My master, Mistress Milonia, sent me to bring you a message,” Shizuka said.


     “Milonia?” Electrka said with a hint of disgust. “What does that filthy hedonist want? Where would she even get the idea that there would be anything her debauched eyes and ears have seen or heard would interest me? I am far too busy for her dirty jokes.”


     “You could learn a few things from her, dear sister,” Silvia said lightheartedly, “You've holed yourself up with books and done your little experiments for as long as I can remember. Not once did I ever catch you going out for fun or bringing a man home.” She rolled her chair over beside the ninja and whispered into her ear, “It's gotten so bad she diddles herself to Aldwin's Constant of Alchemical stability of Ether.”


     “Hee hee! Diddle diddle! Elly is gonna become a spinster!” Nerin giggled as she floated on her sphere above them all.


Electrka growled, grabbed hold of the chair and pushed it back. Silvia cackled as she spun round and around while seated, until the motion sickness took hold, and her laughter died down into a pained groan.


     The ninja dared not laugh, so she continued through all the absurdity, “Mistress Milonia did encounter an anomaly she though you would be interested in.”


Electrka sighed and turned around. She immediately lost interest, but before she could tell Shizuka to leave, Silvia spoke up, now upside down in her chair with her head nearly hitting the floor and her bare feet sticking up into the air.


     “Come on Sis~ hear her out... Well, if you don't, I want to hear it. She must have worked hard to find this place. Besides, are you really worried about anything that would manage to find its way here.”


Silvia said the last bit with narrowed eyes and a twisted smile. It was a smile that could petrify a man to stone.


The younger sister spun and around and looked expectantly at the ninja. Telling the girl to get on it with through not so subtle body language.


     “A man. He sloughed off enough abyssal energy to corrupt twenty men into lascivious fools.”


Now the ninja had Electrka's attention.


     “Come again?” The younger sister asked, her tail flicking back and forth, her wings flapping a little.


     “He was passing through with two other monsters. Left the next morning no different from when he arrived. The girls no more affected than he was.”


Silvia put her butt back properly in her seat and gave even her rapt and serious attention to the ninja's wild tale.


     “Hey... Sis,” she spoke softly, “You don't think that-”


Electrka snapped her fingers. The whole lab rumbled; and from the mess surrounding them, dozens of steel block containers lifted up into the air. Nerin squealed as she floated away to dodge them as they danced and orbited above the lilim. Each one moved to her telekinetic whims, and they moved about until they all came to a standstill. Out of them all, one drifted down in front of the snow white demon. The lib opened on its own and a small flat object was retrieved by an invisible hand. Electrka sent the card with a swish of her fingers, and it held in place right before Shizuka's eyes.


     “Does he look like this?” Electrka asked with bated breath.


Shizuka studied the object. It appeared to be mostly burnt black to a crisp. Some clear substance encased it where it wasn't and looked like melted glass where it was burnt. On the far right side where it wasn't destroyed was a black and white image of a man. The ninja thought to herself that only a master artist or fairy could make something so detailed but still be so small. There were a jumble of symbols and strange letters she did not know. Below that would have come a name, but it was burnt off with the rest. On top of that was what read,

University of-


The rest was also burnt off.


     “Yes. That is him,” The ninja confirmed.


The card flew back and was caught between Electrka's slender fingers. A smile appeared on her face for the first time. She did not say anything more than that. The lilim turned her back to Shizuka and tossed the card onto a nearby table.


     The Ninja continued, “I also have creditable knowledge that he had come across a shard of the Second Tear... From my informants within Typhoon.”


This news appeared to have no effect on the lilim.


     “I have new orders for you. Keep an eye on this man. Do not interfere. Send me updates on his movements. That will be all. You are dismissed.”


The kunoichi's heart jumped. Her pink mask showed the outline of a smile underneath it. Even she could not hide the swelling pride in her breast. It was an honor to receive an order like that from royalty. Shizuka stood back up, saluted by pounding her fist against her shoulder and then vanished in plain sight.


     Silvia let out a long whistle, “Wow. A shard, huh? I guess those things are on the move.”


     “Yes sister,” Electrka said as she began to pull out more objects from the containing floating around her. “But you remember what mother said. That stone, even in all its pieces, will move as it wills. There is no point in wasting time and effort hastening it or forcing where they go. If they desire to reconstruct itself now, they will gather on their own.”


     “If only that snake understood, huh?”


A few torn, tattered and partly burned books emerged from the box. They were also written in the alien language from the card. They were also very thick and made of strange unknown materials and colors not seen before by either lilim.


     “There are plenty who are restless. It has been many years of tedium and boredom. I'm not sure if they will wait for Mother's word to begin again.”


     “You think so, Little Sis?”


     “Take that pale queen for example. She's had her eye on that man long before he was ever born. I do not think she is that into older men.”


A strange oval object with a long snaking thin cord like tail that looked reminiscent of a small rodent was next to float free of the box. It coiled up on itself and lay down on the table.


     “So what are you excited about?” Silvia asked, cleaning the insides of one ear with an extended pinky.


     “Experiment Efta-Franc-54,” Electrka said ominously.


     “In a modern tongue, perhaps?” Silvia asked raising her eyebrow, “My business is in cryptozoology. Not your theoretical cosmology.”


     “I thought it was a failure... Maybe it wasn't after all. It will take some time, but we'll need to reboot it and proceed to phase two.”


Silvia looked as though she had already lost interest, so she spoke while spinning around in her chair and staring up at the ceiling.


     “It's not like we have to worry about time or energy... But was it a failure? Would you count out all those weird artifacts that showed up?”


She stopped spinning; a thought had crossed her mind, and her rapt attention turned back toward her sister.


     “Then again, you told me they weren't worth anything in the big picture. Yes. I remember it now. You said, 'If it isn't a step in the right direction to figure out what keeps monsters and humans apart, they are not worth anything'.”


     “Perhaps,” Electrka said curtly.


One last object appeared from the box, a wooden case. It opened up on its own just as the metal crate did. A parade of small cylinder objects flew out and began to orbit around the lilim's head. Round tips, colored brass, a cylinder body, colored what looked like a shade of gold and round silver circles on the underside of each object. Aside from an old faded letter with more alien language, a larger object still flew up and out of the box at the demon's command. It was curved and shaped like a boomerang, except that the object was made of metal and had many intricate moving parts. One part of it fit a human hand perfectly. Rough, wood-like surfaces flanked the grip on each side, but they felt unlike any other material she had ever seen. All these metal pieces danced and rotated in front of her.


     “But everything needs context, dear sister,” the lilim smiled, the pink coloration of her eyes glowing bright, “Everything in context.”

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