WELL HELLO AGAIN!
Again, sorry for not posting that chapter I'm working on Nix... I'm still working on it, it's just my muse doesn't like me sometimes and I'd already started this chapter when you asked me... so yeah... I'll work on it next.
This is the next chapter of A Familiar Assortment and we have one of those 'after story' stories, in a similar vein to: The Path of Zero by ariados26 Which shows the story AFTER everything takes place.
And in this story Louise got reverse summoned to the .Hack GU verse to take Haseo's place. And guess what? Lesbian Louise is BACK BITCHES! And she has herself a harem, read on to find out who.
Since this takes place AFTER the games, expect massive spoilers for the Dot Hack GU games and anime. ESPECIALLY near the middle as that's a short summary of the three games explained to Osmond and Colbert, as well as to those of you who have only a cursory knowledge of the GU series or dot hack in general. So, if you're at any point planning to play the games or watch the anime, I'd steer clear of this chapter until you finish them.
Since this is basically the epilogue/segue into another story, expect things out of the blue that would normally make sense if you had read the story before this. Since that story doesn't exist, you'll have to play along. I'll explain what I can, but having only a decent knowledge of the .hack GU games and anime would get you through most of it. So those who don't know what the hell I'm talking about... just nod your head and smile.
Warnings: Suicide trigger (possibly, merely mentioned) Violence, Language, Sexy themes, Futa Louise, Dual gender Harem Louise.
DISCLAIMER: I Don't own the .hack franchise or the Familiar of zero franchise, those belong to their respective owners
Chapter 5: An eccentric family built on electric means
Louise breathed deeply, staring at the Tri Edge mark at the back of the Hulle Granz Cathedral, the place where it all started. Aura, who was hovering off to the side along with her three Azure knights, was strangely solemn.
"Are you sure this is what you want?" The girl whispered quietly. "I am unsure if I will ever be able to open this again."
"It's my home." Louise smiled sadly. "And I've been away from it for far too long."
"Very well." Aura responded morosely raising her hands up in the air and calling upon the her powers to rip a hole in the fabric of The World. In front of the dais a large, almost all encompassing green portal formed. Aura's tone turned bittersweet as she looked beyond the young Valliere. "You may have chosen this path, but I believe those behind you may wish to say goodbye to you first. I do not think they would appreciate you leaving without a word."
Louise spun in place, immediately noting a large number of people behind her.
"Think you could sneak off without saying goodbye?" Silibus remarked, cheekily rubbing his nose with a finger.
"Ye-yeah." Gaspard sniffled. "How could you just up and leave without telling us?"
Her friends and her comrades, they had all come to see her off, to say goodbye. A small, sad smile formed on Louise's lips. "I didn't want my last memories of you to be stained with tears." She hung her head and let out a small chuckle. "I should have known better, you all wouldn't let me go that easily."
"Of course not brat." Antares crossed his arms and let out a hearty laugh. "No apprentice of mine is going to run off for good without saying goodbye."
"Yeah, but what happens when the apprentice surpasses the master." Matsu responded cheekily.
"Bah." Antares waved it away. "I still got a few tricks up my sleeves, until she learns those she'll always be my pupil."
"It is quite fortunate though that we caught her when we did." Zelkova remarked wryly. "I wouldn't want the person I trusted with the Xth form to run off without a word or two."
"Yes Lord Zelkova." Kaede spoke quietly. "Truly, Louise has yet to learn to curb her impulsiveness."
Louise couldn't help it. She laughed. She laughed long and hard at the interplay of her friends, of her comrades... and tentatively, the family that she never knew she had.
Well aren't you just barrel of laughs." Kuhn piped up. "And here I thought you only knew tsundere anger and rage."
"Louise isn't like that and you know it." Sakubo turned to Louise and blushed. "By the way, Saku want's you to know she doesn't hate you anymore Louise."
Taken aback, Louise blinked several times as if registering how insane such a comment was when the adorable little alternate personality had hated her guts since... well, since they'd met. Unable to really come up with anything better, she simply smiled. "Tell Saku that it really means a lot for me to hear that and that I shall always consider her a good friend, despite our... disagreements."
It went much like that, with little bits of small talk, hesitant goodbyes that at the same time weren't goodbyes and a number of other conversations that tried to hold the conversation as long as possible.
Finally, Louise turned to the portal. "I think it's about that time..."
"Do you really have to go?" Silibus asked quietly. "We'd come to see you here in The World when we could. You know that, right?"
Louise looked over her shoulder at the teen. "I can't put it off any longer, I know my mother has probably razed half the continent by now looking for me."
"Ah..." He lowered his head. "I see, I guess it's for the best. It must be nice... having a mother as caring as her."
Quite a few of the group shifted uncomfortably at that, seven in particular.
"I don't mean to interrupt." Aura cleared her throat slightly, drawing their attention. "But the portal can handle more than one person, should anyone wish to go with Louise."
"Seriously?" Kuhn blinked, glancing from the portal to Aura and back again. "That's pretty sweet. Would we remain in character when we got there? Would be pretty cool to have this character as my body, then I'd get all the ladies like Louise!" He let out a fake evil laugh before he was cut off by a sharp whack up side the head by one of said ladies present.
Aura seemed pensive for a moment before nodding. "From my understanding, yes, you would keep the bodies you are using now. I do not know what would happen to your bodies outside of The World but your minds should inhabit the bodies you are using now if you do indeed follow Louise through."
For a moment, no one spoke, many of them gave the portal a look of longing as they thought of the grand adventures they could have simply by becoming the characters that they portrayed. Then the thought of their family, the loved ones they'd leave behind made most of them immediately moved back from the portal.
All but seven of her comrades, whom stepped forward.
"I have nothing of importance in the real world" Endrance replied wistfully. "The only time I ever feel alive now is when I'm with you my love. I will follow you through without hesitation or regret."
"I know it seems like I'm running away from my problems with my parents." Atoli rubbed her wrists self consciously, no doubt rubbing the scars in real life where she had tried to end her own life on several occasions. "But I love you too much to let you go Louise. You've done so much for me... I'd be happy to go with you to your world." Atoli, looked away with tears in her eyes and a deep blush on her face.
"My parents cared more about themselves then they ever cared about me." Bordeaux growled. "Even now after they split up they never really looked at me as anything more than a child." Her eyes softened as she stared at Louise. "You're the only person who's ever shown me that bit of love and respect, you better damn well believe I'll follow you wherever you go!"
Alkaid rolled her eyes. "Classic Yandere response."
"Well if that isn't the pot calling the kettle black, little miss Tsundere." Kuhn snickered from behind his nice, safe human shield. Aka Piros the Third.
A tick mark appeared on Alkaid's head. "Bite me you womanizing bastard!"
Pi stepped forward as Alkaid huffed and turned her back on Kuhn. "I don't exactly have a social life." She replied, nervously rubbing the back of her neck with an embarrassed blush. "I am, after all, quite the workaholic..." She cleared her throat when she noticed the gaze of the others on her, those not used to seeing the straight laced and together woman looking so flustered. "Anyway, I wouldn't lose much going along with you and maybe I could do a bit of good in that world you've talked so much about."
Shino sighed sadly. "I didn't have much longer in the real world anyway. After waking up from my coma, I found that my illness was in even worse condition than before... the doctors didn't give me long. They said there was a very slim chance that I could be healed but... I want to see your world Louise, feel it on my skin rather than live a fantasy in here or a sickly reality out there..." She trailed off and remained silent after that.
Tabby rubbed her hand together as the others around her gave their reasons, it was likely a nervous tick. "I don't have many plans IRL since I never had a really good relationship with my family. I was thinking that I could maybe become a nurse to help out Shino but... since she's going with you..." She looked over at Shino and blushed when she noticed that the girl was looking her way as well. Apparently there was more to their relationship than just 'good friends.' Finally it seemed that her cat like curiosity won out and she pointed forward like an explorer on an adventure. "Ah what the heck, count me in too!"
"Hell yeah! I agree with the crazy cat lady" Alkaid hooted. "Besides, I told you I wouldn't ever leave you alone, Zero." The twin blade smirked as Louise scowled at the nickname. Only she could get away with calling her that and she would milk it as much as possible. "I don't really have any good friends IRL and my family is distant with me at best, it's kinda why I spent so much time playing The World." She looked down at her feet, her shoulders slumping. "They would miss me, I know that... our family and friends would miss all of us... but just this once I want to be selfish... just this once I want to choose my own way in life rather than have it decided for me!" Her eyes rose up, a fire lit in them. "And I'm choosing you, don't care if I have to share either, we figured all that out when we all decided to marry you." She looked at each of the other girls in turn who all nodded in agreement, apparently they had spoken quite a bit on the topic beforehand.
"All of you..." Louise's scowl evened out as tears welled up in her eyes. She looked around at all the people who had made her the woman that she was, a tingle of love and affection bubbling her spine. It made her happy that they'd choose her... but it also hurt, knowing that they would give up all they knew just to be with her.
"Hey, don't get all sappy on us." Kuhn joked. "Like little miss tsundere said, it's their decision. Besides, you did end up marrying all of them in-game so they are 'technically' your wiv... er spouses?" His face screwed up a bit when he remembered Endrance wasn't a girl, though with the way he looked and acted it was hard to remember that fact. "Still, I'm surprised Yata was able to convince the suits at CC Corp to go along with that. It's being called 'The First Group Marriage in MMO History.' all over the net."
"Hmph. Yes, it was a tad bit difficult to pull off."
"Gaahhh!" Kuhn nearly jumped out of his skin as he spun in place to find Yata right behind him. "Dammit old man, give me some warning before you do that. I swear, nearly gave me a heart attack..."
Yata ignored him. "But you did mention to me that it would be hard for you to choose between them if it came down to it and they-" He gave the girls a look, though he passed over Endrance as he had been fine with sharing from the begriming. "-Might have mentioned to me something similar" He pushed his glasses further up his nose. "So I thought it wise-" A uncharacteristic smirk crossed his face. "-to provide you with the Tenchi Solution."
Off to the side Pi groaned in annoyance. "You just had to bring that up, didn't you?"
Yata glanced over at Pi with an eyebrow raised. "It seemed fitting considering the circumstances don't you think?" He motioned to the portal that remained floating behind the group. "A portal to a world of magic, real magic." He nodded to the group surrounding Louise. "A group of star crossed women who couldn't decide between them who deserved the hero- hrm excuse me, the heroine of the story and when given the chance to go back with her to her home, chose so despite the fact that it was highly possibly that they would never return? Why yes, I do believe that now is a perfect time to bring it up."
Pi's expression soured. "I liked you better when you were aloof and mysterious."
"Then you clearly never saw him before he took up his job at CC corp. He always did have a dry wit."
Everyone in the cathedral turned to the entrance which two people walked through, two people who were immediately recognizable.
"Ovan, Aina." Louise asked, surprise filling her voice. "You're back!?"
Ovan smiled that mysterious smile of his. "In a limited form, but yes, I'm back." His expression flattened. "I've had better days, my body being in a coma after all... but as long as Aina is here with me, I'll manage."
Louise's face fell. "So you weren't able to free yourself after all?"
Ovan shrugged. "Not yet, but it was my hope that I would be able to, eventually." His glasses caught the little bit of light in the cathedral, making them flash ominously. "However... I think I might actually take my chances with that portals of yours." He wrapped an arm around Aina. "The both of us actually."
The pinkette's eyes snapped up, her mouth hanging open in shock. "You want to what?"
"Go through that portal to your world." He replied, unfazed by Louise's apparent disbelief. "We can't go back to the real world, our home is no longer our home." Several of Louise's lovers winced at Ovans words and tone, feeling them far too close to heart. "Aina here was hospitalized with an illness that is all but terminal, her becoming a lost one only aggitated the illness to where... I'm not sure if she'll live long enough to see me return to my body."
He sighed then, long and deep. "As for myself; I have lost my job, my credibility and very possibly my life. If it were only a coma and I could eventually restore myself then that might have been fine but after my time running from the authorities and spending all my time searching for a way to free Aina... well, I would be unable to pay for my livelihood and her medical expenses as well. In a way, there is no action that I can take that would save both of us and have a decent livelihood. " He nodded to the portal in front of him. "Aside from starting fresh in greener pastures."
"So after all the work we've done..." Yata trailed off with a sigh. "I guess it's true, in war there are no victors. We may have defeated AIDA and Cubia but people are still suffering from the aftermath."
"It could have been worse." Ovan waved the Raven Guild leader's morose attitude off. "I'm here now, with my sister and the possibility for us to fufill our greatest desire is right behind Louise."
"Your greatest desire?" Louise asked quietly.
"To be able to live with each other in the real world." Ovan replied with a tone of finality. "Your world may not be Earth... it might not even be remotely like our world... but I'm willing to take the risk to be with my sister in the flesh and blood without having to worry about her dying a premature death."
"Regardless." Like Yata, the man adjusted his glasses. "We're not going through without a plan, nor empty handed." The man pulled a book out of his inventory. "This is a cheat item that contains the contents of a real world book, I've made hundreds of these books while lost in the Sea of Data for just this possibility."
"You really thought that far ahead?" Louise muttered dumbly, to have lead her along as much as he did. Louise would be lying if she wasn't impressed and a tad bit pissed off at the man... but she wouldn't deny him the chance of a new life if he wished for one.
"Yes." He nodded." I've always been fascinated with your story, it wasn't until I met Aura in the Sea of Data and she explained how you arrived here that I truly devoted all my time into this." He pulled a few more books from his inventory to scan through them. "This collection covers a vast number of subjects, as many of the sciences and industries that I could find, from pre-industrial all the way to the modern age. It is my belief that we can spark an industrial revolution and have your people up to the standards of humanity on this side of the portal within a couple of generations. Indeed, we might even be able to see technology grow alongside magic and become a society that our's can only ever hope to be."
Ovan held up his hand and several more books came forth, seven of them in fact. "These books are cheat items as well; They max your character level to the cap and unlock all the abilities inherent to your job, extend your inventory to Nine-hundred and ninety-nine, constantly keep the items in your inventory at the max ninety-nine and max's your currency to a ludicrous amount. Aina and I have already used ours." He held the books out for them. "Most of this was compiled by myself but a few things I had help on." The man glanced to the side at Zelkova who was grinning cheekily.
"You're welcome Ovan." The small Guild Leader replied with a bow. "It always fills my heart with joy to assist a fellow player in need, it's why I started Moon Tree after all."
"Indeed." He replied with a small chuckle. "With you all leaving, I think it would be wise to use these and prepare yourselves for the world we're about to enter. If we're in luck and we do keep our bodies from The World, we may be able to do things that normal humans cannot because of our characters' abilities."
Those who were planning to go with Louise, along with Louise herself stared at the books carefully. Slowly, one by one they took the books until Louise was the only one left.
"Ah, I have a special book for you." Ovan smiled mysteriously, pulling another book out of his inventory. "This one in particular edits your character on top of what the others do."
"Edit my character? ...Why?" Louise asked slowly, staring down at the strange book.
Ovan's smirk grew as he shifted to private chat and leaned in closer. "I know you've been in love with Shino since your first days in the Twilight Brigade and those other girls have only compounded upon the problem. If we do keep our in-game appearance when we cross over then that little book will make sure you have everything you need to keep them satisfied. Consider it a gift for helping me save Aina"
"Wha-?" Louise turned as pink as her hair as what he said dawned on her. The cheeky bastard really had thought this far ahead?
With that each of them used the cheat books. A swirl of white petals rose up as the books rewrote the data within their characters, changing their stats and in Louise's case, her character model...
"Aside from that." Ovan spoke smoothly, shifting back to open chat. "It might be best if you all wrote notes to the people you're going to leave behind, as well as tell everyone here who you are outside of the game. In case we ever do come back, we can meet you all again whether it be in the game or the real world. As for the letter, just a short note to tell them where you're going, not to worry and it might even be possible for you to return one day." He looked to Aura for confirmation. "Correct?"
The Goddess of The World nodded. "It is only a theory. Louise arrived here through a similar portal, which interacted with The World strangely. I only have enough power to open this one portal, however the portal that brought her here had to have come from her side as there is no magic on this one. If it was a natural occurrence or someone did so intentionally, there is always a chance that you all could return to Earth. This is merely conjecture on my part however."
Most of Louise's group looked at each for a few moments before nodding, then, the sound of headsets coming off could be heard over their mic's as they all went off for a few minutes to write what would probably be considered by many as a suicide note. Though only those that went with Louise or were here when they left would know the truth.
Minutes later, everything had been taken care of and the group of travelers stood only a few feet from the portal, back facing it and waving teary goodbye's to those friends that they would be leaving behind. It was a new step forward for all of them, a chance to start over. And for seven of them, a chance to start over with the love of their life who had made herself such a huge part of theirs, even if it was only just in a game. To them she and what she'd done for them was as real and as tangible as they were.
"She of fair eyes!"
Louise blinked to find Piros kneeling in front of her. While not one of her most liked friends, he was that annoying younger brother figure she'd always wished she'd had, if only to tease him.
"It has been a pleasure and an honor fighting by your side." He spoke solemnly, one of the few, if not the only times she'd ever heard him speak like that, which shocked her more than it rightfully should have. "As an original member of the Dot Hackers alongside Natsume-san and Yata-san-" That bit of information got a few raised eyebrows from those who knew of Piros' antics and the reputation of that legendary group. "-I give you my blessing as you go off into the unknown with your lovers." He stood and saluted the girl. "Fare thee well milady, may you have as much fortune in your world as you had in this one!" He then turned and walked back to the line of her friends, holding hands with Natsume who was near to crying.
With a deep inhale, Louise calmed herself. "Goodbye, all of you. I know we'll see each other again someday."
As one, Louise's group stepped back into the portal. The last thing they all saw were the faces of their friends and comrades. Gone away but not forgotten, with a small chance that they would see them again someday.
"Has everyone finished with their familiar summoning?" A elderly balding man called out to the gathered children who each had a magical animal of some sort next to them.
"I think that's everyone Mr. Colbert" A voice called from the back, one Kirche von Zerbst.
"Very good!" He smiled warmly. "It seems that this years Familiar Summoning Ritual has been an outstanding success!" He would have said more, would have ushered the children onward towards the castle proper but something stopped him. It was a tingle in the back of his spine, normally unnoticeable by an average mage but highly developed in those who had made the battlefield their home for a fair portion of their life. It was a sixth sense, a sense for magic and blade that warned those unaware that something was about to happen and you probably didn't want to be around when it did. Idly he noted that Kirche and Tabitha were both staring behind him with a tense expression on their face. Moments later the other children turned to look too.
Taking a deep breath, Colbert turned around. The last student had finished the ritual over a minute ago, so there shouldn't have been any reason for the summoning circle to go off... unless... unless something was using the summoning circle as a destination for their own transportation spell. Eyes widening, the man called for all of the students to get back. He stood between the group and the circle, conjuring a large fireball, easily triangle in size and holding it like a giant hovering beach ball over the tip of his staff.
The array of lines on the ground burned brighter, a distinct whine coming from them as if the power ushered through them was too powerful to contain the magic's used. That thought brought a shudder to Colbert's spine.
Finally, the building power reached the apex of it's charge and seemed to hold there for a moment. For a short few seconds, Colbert feared that whatever the circle was doing would probably reveal itself soon.
No sooner had he thought that had the circle promptly detonated like a giant smoke bomb, releasing dust and debris into the air and clouding his vision. Colbert knew better than to launch a fireball into the unknown and risk startling whatever had come through the circle. He felt more than saw Tabitha come up behind him and use her wind magic to clear the dust away. Good, he could definitely use the backup of a prodigy triangle class mage if things came to blows with whatever was within that smoke.
The smoke cleared completely.
Colbert found it hard for him not to stare at the ten strange individuals standing in the middle of what was left of the summoning circle. All of them appeared to be wearing an eclectic mix of clothing and armor, some of it practical, some what appeared to be for show as several of the woman among the group had far more skin showing than covered by said armor. Out of all of them, five stood out the most; One was the girl with the cat ears and nose off to the side, some manner of human-beast hybrid? The other was the two men, both handsome and beautiful beyond what was normal. Another was the young girl standing next to one of the men, holding onto his hand as if it were a lifeline; The final one however... that was the one that caught his attention almost immediately. It was honestly like looking thirty years into the past at the one woman who would forever hold his respect.
The pink haired girl reacted to the name and glanced up at him. For a moment there was a frown on her face, then something seemed to click as a spark of recognition filled her eyes. She looked around her, taking in the sights for a moment, a small smile on her face. After she appeared satisfied with the scenery, she turned and spoke a strange language to the others of her group that he couldn't understand.
In response the man with the small girl next to him let out a chortle, as if he was positively pleased with himself. The group then started to... touch themselves? And certainly not in the inappropriate way. It was almost as if they did not know the bodies that their heads were attached to. Oh, there we go, the large pink haired woman had grabbed her breasts and squeezed them, raising an eyebrow as if she were inspecting them for flaws.
It was then that the other pink haired girl, the one that looked like a young Karin, approached him. He half expected her to speak that strange language from before but was pleasantly surprised when she spoke Tristanian fluently. What surprised him more... well, more like shocked him honestly, was that the girl knew his name.
"Ah, Professor Colbert, it's good to see you again."
"Have... we met?" Aside from the fact that she looked like Karin, this woman looked far too at peace with herself to be the same woman who could shatter mirrors with a simple glare.
At that, the girls face scrunched in confusion. "I would expect so, I know it's been nearly a year since I was here last but I couldn't have changed that much that you wouldn't recognize me. You taught the basics of fire to my entire class last year."
Suddenly the reasons for this girl's appearance clicked in his mind. His mouth fell open in shock. "L-L-Louise!? Louise Francoise le Blanc de la Valliere?" The girl beamed at the recognition, which only brought him further horror. "B-but... you've been missing for a year! You were given up for dead after we found nothing but your smoking shoes in your room, they even had burial services!"
At that declaration, Louise's face fell slack, momentarily forgetting the happiness from before. It was gone a moment later as Louise schooled her features into a frown. "One moment please." She turned to her companions and went through a quick string of words, most of which sounded agitated and strangely... anxious.
In response to that, the majority of the women and the blue haired male gathered around Louise and appeared to be consoling her, though the girl didn't seem to be crying, likely she had a good control over her emotions.
"Louise? Is that really you Louise?" Colbert assumed, from the sound of the voice, that it was probably Kirche who was speaking.
Louise, on the other hand seemed to be about to speak when one of the boys, a Malicorne if memory serves, scoffed at the name. "That explosion prone brat from first year?" He glanced over his shoulder at Kirche. "I thought she was taken out of school because she was a hazard. She certainly blew up enough classrooms to be labeled as one."
It started as a twitch, a twitch Colbert recognized, one that did not bode well for anyone. He would have stopped Louise then, held her back with a hand and a few calming words.
But then he got a good look at her eyes. They were GOLD! Changing from their off red to a metallic molten yellow. A shiver passed up the man's spine as Louise pulled herself free from the group of women and stalked closer to Malicorne who apparently didn't understand the danger he was in. Colbert silently prayed for the boy's well being, he was certainly not going to pick a fight with someone who moved with a stride of an apex predator; measured, deliberate and most of all, hungry. Another shiver rolled through his body.
Malcorne finally seemed to notice the woman he had just been insulting whom had closed the distance until they were only around four feet apart. "What do you want?" He spoke primly. "Have you come back here to try again at being a mage, or did you finally find your place as some uncouth mercenary?" He gave her armor a look of distaste. "And it certainly does nothing to flatter your figure, not that you had one to begin with-"
A tick mark formed on Louise's head for each insult thrown her way, the last being the most prominent. By now many of the other students had already backed away from the doomed fool and cleared a rather large circle around the two.
"-And another thing...hmm, what are you doing?" He finally noticed the strange atmosphere around him and that the others were looking at him with pity, as if he were some sacrificial... He then noticed that Louise's right hand had moved over her shoulder to grab something that wasn't there.
Then she pulled.
There was a flash of light and then Malicorne felt more than saw the blade held at his throat. Correction, make that teeth of the blade at his throat. He gulped as he noticed the razor sharp spines sticking out from the strange club-sword combination.
That is until Louise did something with the hand holding the blade and the most awful noise any of the students had ever heard filled the air; like the buzz of bees but amplified by a factor of a thousand. The boy took an unconscious step back, which in hindsight most likely saved his life. The "sword" roared to life as the blades spun and blurred, creating the illusion of a blade while at the same time creating an ungodly sparking whine.
Faced with the demonic weapon almost claiming his life as it's own, Malicorne did the only sensible thing he had done all day. With a dull thump the boy hit the ground in a dead faint, urinating himself optional but much appreciated.
Several of the woman of Louise's group had facepalmed, muttering to themselves tiredly, as if this was a common occurence.
Oh how right that assessment was.
After that little display, Colbert had thought it wise to bring the group of... warriors to Osmond's office, if for no other reason than to have a square class mage of wind between him and his students, and Louise... he was beginning to suspect that even that wouldn't be enough to keep the volatile Valliere from him if he did something to set her off.
The group had then sat down, Louise at it's helm and explained what had happed to her over the last year.
It was actually a fairly simple, if fantastical explanation. Though Louise did tweak the truth of a few things here and there so as to keep the fact that the world she landed in was actually not real a secret.
Louise had tried to summon a familiar in her first year and accidentally got summoned herself to The World, which was the name of the planet the rest of her group was from. When she arrived in that world she was soon recruited into a local militia, otherwise known as a guild, after discovering her talent in that worlds spellcraft and swiftly put to the defense of the city to keep the ever present monster threat at bay.
The guild which she was placed was known as the Twilight Brigade and was so named for the mythical Key of the Twilight which they searched for in an attempt to stave off the monster menace. After a period of time in the guild, and a few dozen missions given by the guildmaster, one of the guildmembers was found unconscious, attacked by a phantom creature that put the girl under a curse that rendered her comatose.
Louise, who had become a dear friend to the girl, set out to find a cure and baring that, find the creature to deliver justice upon it. Another long period of time passed where many amazing and wonderful experiences were described, including Louise becoming a legend on par with her mother, gaining the moniker 'The Terror of Death.'
When questioned on the last several points, Louise simply responded that where she had gone it was a heavily militant society with three factions that were in a shadow war with each other.
Arvakv the Innovators; who were the human inventors of Steam Technology; fantastical creations that didn't use magic yet could destroy entire platoons of soldiers if given the chance.
Ogmios the Conservatives; Beastmen who followed the old teachings of the gods of The World and eschewed the newer innovations for the old magics, Crest technology.
Teutates the Pursuers; which were the group that picked Louise up. Comprised of both Human's and Beastmen, they sought power for power's sake, using both Steam and crest technology to further their own goals.
Each had a leader that governed them. The leader of the Teutates was the one who created the guild system and allow those guilds some autonomy to pursue their own goals, which was the very creed of the faction they served. In that society it was a common occurrence to simply name the children whatever name struck the parent's fancy and sending them off after a short childhood to defend the city.
When asked about family, Louise grimly explained that family names meant little in that world and if you wanted to distinguish yourself from someone of similar name then you had to fashion a title for yourself through feats of ability. In point of fact, Louise had mentioned that there was several Louise in the City of Lumina Cloth, which was her home city and the base of power for the Teutates, but only she could wear the moniker The Terror of Death. By loosely agreed upon law, If you caught someone imitating your name and title, you were given Carte Blanche by the three factions to do with that person what you will, even going so far as to kill them without repercussion.
Colbert had felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end as Louise described such a society. They reminded him too much of the old days, during the wars that had torn though so much of Halkeginia, only this sounded far, far worse...
Louise then went on to explain the wonders of The World's technology and magic. Colbert in particular seemed interested in the Steam bike and the Warp Gates. Such tools alone could bring about incredible change to Halkeginia if duplicated with any amount of quality. Louise had admitted that she knew little of both of their inner workings, she waved further questions away to continue the story.
She then described her encountering Tri Edge, the phantom creature that had put her friend into a coma. After a heated battle with the beast, Tri Edge proved itself the victor and cursed Louise as well. When several eyebrows rose at that Louise had then explained that she had awoken later, as weak as she was her first day of The World. As it turned out, she had been defeated by a time draining curse, that reverted her back to the days when she was still just a little girl, forcing her to earn back all the progress that she had sweat blood and tears to make.
That had earned her a few sympathetic hugs from the girls around her, even if most didn't understand a word she said, they could still understand the defeated tone.
After a moment to recover, Louse explained that the first few weeks of that were the most dangerous. When asked why, she again pointed out the law of The World. She was no longer the 'Terror of Death.' If a simple novice warrior could kill her, anyone could claim her title and easily usurp her, and given the name, she hadn't exactly made many friends during her time as a legend.
But all was not lost, she pointed out quickly. Due to a prophecy made in ages past, Louise had discovered that she was what was known as an Epitaph User. A person who housed an Avatar of Destruction within them, granted to those worthy by the Goddess of Light Aura to defeat her enemies. There were a total of eight such Avatars, each representing a different aspect of destructive human tendencies.
Avatar Skeith: The Terror of Death
Avatar Innis: The Mirage of Deceit
Avatar Magus: The Propagation
Avatar Fidchell: The Prophet
Avatar Gorre: The Machinator
Avatar Macha: The Temptress
Avatar Tarvos: The Avenger
Avatar Corbenik: The Rebirth
The final avatar confused both Colbert and Osmond, though it only took a moment for Louise to explain that rebirth meant the destruction of everything that came before it and was therefore the strongest of the eight phases... theoretically speaking at least. She explained, that at the latter end of her journey, her Avatar had become the strongest in light of her absorbing the powers of all the other Avatars in combat. When asked which Avatar was her own, Louise looked at the as if they were stupid and said that her title was in the name, as if it was that obvious. Which it was.
And of the ten people from The World, including herself, five of them were the bearers of an Avatar.
When asked where the other three were by a rather shaky Osmond, Louise had responded that those with her had little to nothing left back in The World and had chosen to come with her for a fresh start, the rest of her comrades had elected to stay.
Louise quickly explained the threat of AIDA, passing it off as a parasitic demon with powers greater than the gods of The World, a parasite which had infected people and had even corrupted a few into doing it's bidding. It was this problem that lead Louise to the Arena, which was a place of holy combat to decide the leaders of the three palaces, great positions of power for any aspiring warrior. After much effort she had worked her way up the rankings until she defeated and purified the arena emperor Endrance, whom she pointed to behind her. In doing so, she herself became the emperor of the Demon Palace, which held a similar influence to that of a high ranking officer of a Guild. To put that plainly, she had won a title of nobility through martial combat.
Now that had surprised both Colbert AND Osmond. Not that it mattered much here in this world but being able to gain a title through sheer skill was a very rare occurrence with only a few Chevalier or knights having that honor; Louise's mother was a very good example.
It was then that Louise described her confrontation with Tri Edge and that silenced everyone in the room. She described the battle in vivid detail, likely having memorized every second of it, burned every tiny bit of revenge into her mind so that if her friend never work from her coma, she would at least be avenged. After what felt like an eternity of battle with the phantom and learning that Tri Edge had a form similar to an Avatar, Louise had stood, victorious over the creature.
Unfortunately, it's defeat had done nothing, Shino had still remained frozen in her unnatural slumber. She then pointed out that they had later found that Tri Edge along with two other creatures similar to him were actually the knights of the Goddess Aura and had been tasked with destroying anything that had come into contact with AIDA. As it turned out, Tri Edge was actually not responsible for her friends coma and it was in fact caused by another.
Ovan shifted in his seat uncomfortably, though he didn't know the language he could certainly tell when he was being spoken about negatively.
She then covered a few other key things, like her defeating of the Holy and Sage Palace emperors, thereby cementing herself as one of the most powerful warriors of The World. She was now on par with Guild Leaders in political strength, only answering to the leaders of the factions and the leaders of the strongest and most powerful guilds that had tens of thousands of soldiers under their command.
Or to put it plainly, Louise held a title similar in power to a duke, answerable only to a level of royalty, if not greater. By now the two elderly mage's were becoming more accustomed to the strange events that Louise had participated in, though they still made note not to piss the young girl off; such power at such a young age to be one of the strongest of an entire World? Quite terrifying.
Louise then explained the terrible revelation that Ovan, one of her closest confidants and the girl's previous guild leader was, in fact, the true Tri Edge and had been infected with an AIDA that threatened his very life. She then pointed out that the other man in the room besides Endrance and them was actually Ovan himself.
Colbert and Osmond shot the man a wary glance and palmed their magical foci cautiously. They had a betrayer in their midst and it never did well to have your back to one.
Louise pointed out that this wasn't the worst part of it. Ovan then turned out to be an Epitaph User himself and in fact weilded the Avatar Corbenik, the most powerful at the time. She then explained that Ovan was actually trying to defeat AIDA and that his plan was for her to gather the powers of the other Avatars and use that along with his own Avatar's ability of Rebirth to return the world back to it's normal state, killing the AIDA parasite in it's entirety. He did this for the girl at his side, his sister, who had fallen into a coma because of AIDA.
Thankfully, due to the man's interventions, Louise had gained the power needed for Ovan to activate Rebirth and the world was completely cleansed of the parasite.
"With the death of AIDA." Louise spoke solemnly, bringing her story to it's penultimate point. "All those who were cursed and put into a coma were revived, ending it's threat to The World for good."
"Why does it sound like this isn't the end of your tale?" Osmond remarked with a frown.
"Because it isn't." Louise responded flatly. "When Ovan used his Rebirth ability, a great flash of light cleansed the world of AIDA. Unfortunately, that flash of light revealed a shadow... Cubia."
The way Louise's companions stiffened at that name did little to ease Osmond's worry on the subject. "And that is?"
"A monster." Louise replied coldly. "A beast who has existed since the dawn of The World. A primordial being who was born at the same time as the light and slept in darkness since ancient days. Ovan's light awakened it and it set it's wrath upon the world." Louise shook her head, shivering while she did so. "You must understand, Cubia was the antithesis to what it viewed as it's greatest threat; Me."
"Then how did you defeat it?" Colbert prodded slowly. "Such a beast, I can only imagine how terrifying it must have been to face it."
Louise shook her head. "That and more, as for how? Simple, I temporarily absorbed ALL of the powers from the other Epitaph Users." Louise motioned to several of the others behind her. "In doing so I unlocked the final true form of my Epitaph and was able to use it's Avatar Ability: Death."
Even those that couldn't understand Louise at that moment felt a small chill go up their spines as she spoke that last word with a coldness that rivaled a blizzard. "With help from Ovan, I utilized my powers to finally and hopefully permanently put Cubia down once and for all."
In the silence that followed that, Louise studied the Headmasters face. She could tell that this was a lot to take in but seeing the deep thought and outright wonder on his face was strangely fitting for the elderly man.
Then that look of wonder faded and a small frown found its way onto his face. "There's just one other thing I would like to know. How did you find a way back to our world?"
Louise shrugged. "The Goddess of Light herself sent me back."
Now that got some wide eyes from both of the mages. "You met a goddess!?" Colbert gasped in barely controlled shock. Such a thing would normally be a blasphemy but considering the fact that Louise was on a completely separate WORLD, she could be forgiven... possibly.
Louise nodded. "Due to an incident in a previous age, Aura disappeared from The World and The Shadow took advantage and sought to claim the land. Wherever it touched, monsters would appear and cause untold destruction, this is why there are only five major cities left in The World.'
The young Valliere sat back in her chair, her voice starting to crack from speaking so much. "That was also one of the reasons why her Avatars and Knights were sent in to contain the problem. With the use of Corbenick's Rebirth ability, it created enough light to bring her back into The World and after the final battle she appeared before me, thanking me for my part in her return and the saving of her world. She had been aware of my presence since the beginning along with the method of my arrival. It was this same portal that she offered to open and return me to my world." She waved a hand around the room. "As you can see I accepted and she used the meager reserves of her returning strength to open the portal and send me back along those that chose to follow."
A small sad smile graced Louise's lips. "It's my hope that with the return of Aura, the problems that plague The World will become a thing of the past. The people wont have to live like soldiers any longer and there can finally be peace."
With that rather sobering climax to her story, those present to hear it leaned back in their chairs, Osmond and Colbert especially as they had to mull over what was said and try and figure out what to do from there.
It was at that point that Bordeax, who happened to be sitting closest to Louise, snorted in amusement and looked at Louise as if she was crazy. "That has got to be the biggest fucking half true story I've ever heard." Of course the conversation was in Japanese so neither Osmond or Colbert understood them. "I may not speak a whole lot of french but I KNOW you basically smushed what happened to us together with the 'canon' storyline of The World and gave it to them on a platter. Hell, you bullshit half of that stuff up on the spot."
"How did you even understand that?" Louise responded with a raised brow. "I know I was taught Japanese but I don't think I ever taught any of you Tristanian."
Bordeaux shrugged. "It has a passing resemblance to French and Latin. I took some of both while I lived in Germany... at least until mom and dad split and we moved to Japan."
Louise blinked for a moment before a smirk formed on her face. "Well, good then." She responded smugly. "You can help me teach the other's the language."
"HUH!?" The look of outrage on Bordeaux's face was tempered by the sniggers of the other women in the room, particularly Alkaid and Pi. "Why the hell do I gotta do that?"
"Because if you don't." Louise responded smugly. "You'll be the last one to get any."
Bordeaux opened her mouth to throw a retort back but clamped it shut a moment later as a frown found its way onto her face. "That's so unfair Louise."
"Yeah." Louise chuckled. "Just like it was unfair for me when you cornered me back when I was at noob level to get your PK jollies off?" In response to that Bordeaux acted her real age and stuck her tongue out at Louise. A feral little smirk formed on Louise's face. "I wouldn't do that unless you plan on putting that thing to use, Bordeaux-chan."
Again The tanned woman opened her mouth to respond but closed it with a rather gobsmacked click as what Louise said dawned on her. Then her face errupted into a dusky, chest deep blush. "You-you're such a pervert."
Louise's grin only widened as she drew closer. "Oh don't worry." Louise placed a kiss on Bordeax's forehead. "I was only teasing."
The ex-PKer blinked and found Louise's feral grin now downgraded to a satisfied smirk. A twitch formed on her brow. "Why you little... I'll show you who to tease!"
In hindsight, Louise probably shouldn't have poked the crazy lady with the proverbial stick as she found her lips clamped in the vice that was Bordeax's own. With a small groan Louise melted into the woman's embrace. She wouldn't say it out loud but this was a moment she had fantasized about often. Since she was trapped within The World, she could feel everything as if it were real, which inlcuded the kisses she'd received at one point or another from all her lovers. However, she knew that those kisses were merely a token gesture. For all her ability to feel them, she knew that in the real world, those that she loved were merely staring at a screen and couldn't feel a thing.
Now though? Now she could indulge in her lovers, she could savor every little emotion that passed between them like a hot, raging inferno and they, in turn, could feel back! Not even really aware of it, Louise overpowered her dusky skinned lover, clinging tightly to her as she sucked face with such a voracious appetite that even Bordeaux herself was taken aback by it. With an almost perverse thrill, Louise pulled the woman closer, grabbing out to cup her firm behind and pull the PKer closer. A jolt of electricity surged up her spine moments later when she felt their tongues touch. In a bid for dominance the two wrestled playfully but like before, Louise ended up on top and their kiss devolved into small licks and tastes that left the two winded for several long seconds as they broke away to regain their composure.
The silence that followed THAT little stunt was near deafening. Sure, Louise's other lovers looked unfazed by the whole thing, in fact they looked rather eager to try something similar.
Colbert and Osmond on the other hand? They looked absolutely gobsmacked, jaw hanging open loosely.
Osmond was the first one to recover and his wary expression and tone all but broadcasted the way this conversation was going to go. "Ms. Valliere..." He began slowly. "What is your... relationship with this woman?" As if that wasn't already apparent.
Louise shot the older man a frigid look. "Aside from Ovan and his little sister, the rest of my companions here are both my wives and in the case of Endrance, my husband." She ended that with a tone of finality as if it wouldn't be discussed further.
Osmond leaned back slightly at the frost in the woman's tone, apparently she cared for her lovers quite a bit to threaten one of the oldest and strongest mages in Halkeginia. "That's... more than what I expected but not as fantastical as the rest of your tale I suppose." He looked up with a quizzical brow. "Am I to assume that you were married according to the laws of their people." He nodded to the women and man behind Louise.
Louise shared the nod. "With the blessing of Aura herself as well as two of the three most powerful guild masters of The World."
Osmond stroked his beard in thought. "Having your wedding blessed by both a goddess and the established government? You would be hard pressed to find a marriage more binding..." His hand fell. "I do hope you realize that according to our and the church's laws that a marriage such as yours is forbidden." He glanced over at Endrance. "Except for the young man here."
Louise's demeanor soured and a threatening cloud of danger welled up behind her. "If they attempt to disrupt this goddess given union, then we will be forced to bring to bear every power that same goddess has grunted us, as well as our own martial and magical prowess to defend ourselves... if necessary."
The old man tensed. "I was afraid you might say that." He leaned forward in his chair and placed his elbows on the table, bringing his hands up, the old man stared at Louise over his fingers. "You need not be angry with me as I hold no such prejudices, however in the spirit of peace and good relations between your group and Halkeginia-" He grabbed piece of parchment and quill. "-May I attempt to resolve this issue without conflict?"
"That depends." Louise spoke slowly, eying the parchment with unease. "What did you have in mind?"
"Would you grant me a short time to send a few letter to a couple of relevant parties?" He asked politely. "So that we can address this issue swiftly, of course."
"Who're you sending them to?"
An eyebrow twitched, the only sign of the old man's loss of composure. "That would be the princess, the cardinal... and your mother."
A slight pale sheen passed over Louise's face, though she nodded easily enough to the list. "I can accept those. In return may I reacquaint myself with the grounds while I wait? Also would it be too much of a bother if I and my companions took our meals in the Alviss Dining Hall?"
"You may on both accounts. Even with the fastest messengers it would still take some time for a response from both the crown and your mother. Although, I do expect you to be on your best behavior." The old man looked at her meaningfully under his brow. "Incidents like this evening with the de Grandpre boy; Malicorne I believe his name was, should be the exception rather than the rule, understood?"
Louise waved him off. "As long as he and his sort do not attempt anything untoward my lovers or myself, then there shouldn't be an issue."
The old man sighed. "Very well, you may go." As the group closed the door behind them, Osmond waited for several moments, listening to their receding footsteps before he reached into his drawer, pulling out a small hand mirror. Mumbling a few words under his breath, the mirror flashed several times, releasing a small pinging noise. For many moments the noise went uninterrupted. Then-
"Hello?" The tired face of Henrietta appeared in the mirror. "Oh, headmaster Osmond?" The young womans eyes sharpened and her previous fatigue disappeared. "You wouldn't contact me with this if it wasn't something urgent."
"We've found Louise." The old man said simply.
It was quiet for several long moments as the princess digested the repercussions of that those particular words. "I... I see. Am I to conduct another funeral then?"
"Alive." The headmaster corrected her dryly. "Or to be more precise, she found us."
The Princess' eyes widened. "How!? Where!? Her mother and I have scoured everywhere within a weeks ride by manticore and found no trace of her, how could she just show up out of the blue?"
The old headmaster cleared his throat. "If you aren't seated, I think it would be wise if you did so."
"Louise." Atoli whispered. "Everyone's staring."
"Well then, let them stare." Louise grumbled in Japanese quietly, then in Tristanian loud enough for everyone to hear them as she tore into another leg of lamb. After having been trapped in a world that didn't require you to eat to function for near to a year, finally having to eat and in fact the sheer act of eating itself was something of a novelty, which Louise planned to enjoy with gusto.
"This spread is nice and all." Bordeaux pointed at Louise with a chicken leg. "In fact, this food is damn near some of the best I've ever eaten but the atmosphere here could use a bit of work."
Louise waved her off. "They're just upset because they think we're a bunch of magicless commoners." She poked a random something or other with her fork before continuing. "This hall is technically reserved for nobles only. I'd be able to eat here but normally you wouldn't. Since we have the headmasters approval, they cant do anything about it and it's probably eating at their ankles like a hungry hobgoblin."
"As fascinating as this all is." Alkaid leaned forward to rest her elbows on the table. "Didn't they get the hint when you nearly buzz sawed tubby over there?" She threw a thumb over her shoulder at Malicorne who was still shivering from the near death experience.
Louise sighed, dropping her food and sliding the plate away, resting her face in her cheek she spoke with a rather withdrawn tone. "I have since found that my people... well, the nobility at least, are perhaps some of the densest and ignorant people I know. I'm starting to have second thought's about this whole moving back to my world thing. After having fought for my life for so long... the lack of adventure just seems so...?"
"Dull?" Endrance asked slowly, twirling a stray strand of hair from Louise's face. "Worry not Louise, I do not regret my decision, nor do the others. To feel your skin like this on mine- " He shivered and closed his eyes. "-It is exquisite"
"I suppose you're right." The Valliere scrunched her nose in thought. "And I do suppose we've yet to consummate our marriage." She flashed a grin down the line. "Speaking of. Ovan, you clever bastard, your little gift actually works."
The man snorted and nearly choked on his food. "So that's why you were in the bathroom for so long, testing the new additions were we?"
"Am I the only one who feels left out of the loop here?" Pi spoke up, downing her second glass of wine and feeling rather good at the moment.
"Ovan." Louise spoke with a smirk. "In his infinite wisdom, thought to hack my character model before we left, so that certain additives would carry over into this world."
"Oh?" Pi asked, barely holding an interest. Then the connotations of that sunk in and she turned to Louise with a slightly tipsy deadpan. "Oh..."
"I'm not following." Shino's frown only lasted until she took into account what Ovan had said and how he said it "Oh... really?" She peeked over the table curiously.
"For those of you who don't know." Pi drained another glass. If she was going to have to deal with genderbending spouses, then she needed to be damn well good and sauced. "Louise is now both a husband and wife in every way..."
The rest of the women at the table blinked, then followed Shino's example and leaned over to get a peek.
"S-stop that!" Louise closed her legs quickly, the staring causing her to slip back into tendencies she'd frankly wish she'd forgotten.. "I-I-It's not like I did it for y-you all or anything." She looked away with a blush on her face.
Alkaid, who was on the other side of Louise, snorted. "And Kuhn called me the tsundere?"
Louise almost got enough wind in her sails to activate her tsundere vengeance at that.
Then Alkaid leaned over and planted a nice wet kiss on Louise's lips.
Louise sputtered for a moment, thinking thoughts of righteous vengeance, then quickly lost her steam as she felt Alkaid's arms snake their way around her. They sat there, much like before with Bordeaux, licking and kissing until they both had to break for air.
Pulling away with a satisfied smile, Alkaid gave Bordeaux a thumbs up and a smirk, which was returned with similar exuberance.
The rest of the hall was silent as a graveyard, many of the students staring at Louise and Alkaid in open shock. Several, like Guiche and a few of the other self stylized 'ladies men' could only stare on in wonder. To most everyone there, the sight of two girls kissing must have been unheard of.
Then, as if a damn broke, each of the members of Louise's little harem decided to get in on the 'kiss Louise silly' train. Endrance being the last one to kiss Louise, did so with far more passion and poise than the others, though it was no less dirty to those around them. Breaking away with a satisfied sigh, Endrance turned back around in his seat with an elegance that Guiche could only hope to copy, even the rose petals that seemed to appear from nowhere trumped the fop's act.
After a moment to bask in the afterglow of such spine tingling experience, each of the harem then turned their attention to the rest of the room and glared, or in the cases of Atoli and Tabby, frowned sternly. Almost immediately those watching the spectacle averted their eyes and returned to their meals. Those whose gaze lingered longer than it should have found themselves the recipient of seven in return, with an air of danger surrounding all of them, they wisely turned away as well. The message was clear. 'This is ours! If you want to make something of it or the way we do things, then prepare to be destroyed!'
Louise, who was the object of her harems attention and defense, sat in a daze, a shit eating grin on her face.
"Well, I never expected this of you Louise."
And then that grin disappeared under the wall that was Louise's frown. "Hello Kirche, didn't think I'd ever see your shabby self again."
Kirche smirked at that, some things would never change despite how much Louise had. "And a warm hello to you too. It's good to see you again Louise, I almost didn't recognize you with that costume you have on."
Louise rolled her eyes. "And I recognized you instantly with all those fools you have hanging around you."
"Are we really going to devolve into an argument after not seeing each other for a year?" Kirche raised an eyebrow, was it still so easy to rile the girl up?
"No, no we wont." Louise waved a dismissive hand. "I've long since come to terms with our relationship."
"Oh?" Kirche looked surprised at that. "And what happened to my little friend to make her all grown up?"
Louise scowled. "We've only known each other for a couple months, Kirche. That hardly makes us friends." Her expression doubled up when Kirche wrapped the younger girl in a hug, unfortunately sandwiching her head between the dusky woman's breasts, which elicited a growl from a couple of Louise's lovers.
"And I thought I told you the day we met that I didn't care about what our ancestors did a hundred years ago. In fact, I don't care much about what my family does now, so why shouldn't we be friends?"
"Well, for one." Louise responded dryly. "You're about three seconds away from getting hit with a Lei Zas spell from my lovers; You being dead would be a very good reason."
Kirche blinked sheepishly and glanced up at the others at the table. She paled slightly when she noted that two of the women had a staff out.
And all of them had a white ball of light hovering at the end of a staff or clutched in their fist...
"Right.' Kirche said slowly, gently releasing Louise from her grasp and holding her hands up. "We're all friends here." She laughed nervously. "How about I start from the beginning." She place a hand on her chest. "I am Kirche Augusta Frederica von Anhalt-Zerbst, and this." She stepped to the side, revealing a blue haired girl no one had noticed before. "Is Tabitha."
"Troublesome." The bluenette sighed.
Louise's lovers powered down their spells warily.
"What did she say?" Tabby whispered in Japanese.
"She's trying to be our friend and she introduced herself." Bordeaux muttered to the rest. "Her name started with Kirche and ended with Zerbst. The girl behind her is Tabitha."
Alkaid, like the rest, had yet to put her weapons away. "Do you think she's legit?"
"It's better than trying to fight her." Shino pointed out.
Atoli nodded. "Yes, I think it would be best if we gave her a chance."
In several flashes of light their weapons and spells were put away.
"Right." Louise nodded at the less threatening atmosphere. "I'll translate your introduction into my language." She switched to Tristanian to speak to Kirche. "They agreed not to smite you where you stand and want to introduce themselves, I'll translate."
Atoli bowed. "It's a pleasure to meet you miss Zerbst. I am Atoli, a Harvest Cleric."
Shino mimicked her twin's actions. "Shino; Harvest Cleric, as well as the current guildmaster of the Twilight Brigade."
The only other dark skined woman in the group looked at the similarly toned Kirche. "Bordeaux; Blade Brandier."
Alkaid crossed her arms and nodded lightly. "Names Alkaid; Twin Blade and former Demon Palace Emperor."
The more feminine male of the group stood and curtsied like a noble at court. "I am Endrance, Blade Brandier and like Alkaid I was also once the Demon Palace Emperor, a title which Louise currently now holds."
That got a few raised eyebrows from those in earshot as Louise translated it.
Tabby's grin was almost infectious. "Names Tabby; Tribal Grappler and ex-guildmaster of the Paw Pad Squadron"
Pi adjusted her glasses in a very Yata-esque manner. "Pi; same as Tabby and second in command of the Guild: Raven."
Ovan stood and bowed lightly. "Ovan; Steam Gunner and ex-guildmaster of the Twilight Brigade." He looked down at his sister and gently moved her forward.
"I-I'm Aina." The girl spoke quietly. "Shadow Warlock... and Ovan is my big brother."
"Oh, she's so adorable." Kirche nearly squeed as Louise had even replicated Aina's meekness when she translated her words.
To this, Louise just looked amused. "Being a shadow Warlock, she's also the strongest mage of our group, so you would do well not to irritate her."
Kirche blinked, mouth open as she looked back and forth between the two. "You've got to be kidding... this little girl is stronger then you?
A shark like grin formed on Louise's face. "I said the strongest mage. Her class allows her access to higher tier spells that those of us who picked a more physical discipline are incapable of, that however, doesn't mean she's the most lethal."
"Oh?" Kirche scanned the group of people carefully. "And who would be the strongest of this group?"
In response to that, Louise's grin grew larger as she dipped into a low bow. "I apologize, I forgot to reintroduce myself." An aura of power seemed to radiate around Louise. "I, am Louise Francoise Le Blance de La Valliere; Adept Rouge and Current emperor of the Demon, holy and Sage palaces; Guildmaster of Canard; Two time conqueror of the Forest of Pain; Slayer of the One Sin, The One Death and The Doppleganger; killer of the Sixteen Chaotic PK's; Bearer of one of the eight avatar's of the holy Goddess of Light, Aura." Louise grin was practically demonic as she yanked her Scythe Dakini out and spun it in a confusing pattern of light before slamming the roaring chain weapon several inches into the stone floor right in front of Kirche, sending out spiderweb cracks that crackled with energy. "And lastly my title: The Terror of Death!" With that display, the roaring of her weapon and the powerful aura that surrounded her, Louise cut a very imposing figure.
If the silence during the make out session before was quiet then the silence now was absolute as no one, not even the barely heard birds outside encroached upon the unnatural soundlessness. Then, Louise broke it by taking a deep whiff of the air. "You smell that?" She asked her companions in Japanese. "That's the smell of vindication!"
"Actually." Alkaid wrinkled her nose. "I think one of these idiots pissed themselves in fear."
"Eh." Louise shrugged. "Close enough."
Karin Desiree de La Valliere -otherwise secretly known by her maiden name as Karina Desiree de Maillart or more infamously by her title; The Heavy Wind- was not amused, not amused at all. It started like any other week for the past year. She had sent out a small group of spies who would search for any information on the whereabouts of her daughter, they would then come home after that week and give their findings to her. Now normally, she would have sent out riders by now rather than coming herself but she had received a message from Princess Henrietta about information regarding Louise.
Or to be more precise, the exact location and current status of her dearly departed daughter, who she knew for a fact wasn't actually deceased. At least, that's what she told herself at night to stop herself from grieving and breaking the small hold of the rule of steel that she still yet commanded. Yes, she was at her wits end, her nerves frayed and temper returning at the smallest slights. It had only been realized months after the fact that Louise was the glue that held their family together. With Eleanore being distant, Cattleya sickly and her husband off Brimmer knows where taking care of the family's finances and estates for weeks on end... it was lonely.
For the first time in years she had admitted to loneliness, that feeling of meekness that was derived from complete isolation from what you yourself desired. Sure, she had Cattleya to talk to but her quiet and wilting flower of a daughter didn't have the outer fire that burned within her mother's heart. And Eleanore, who was home less and less often had only embodied the worst traits of her personality. No, only Louise had showed the same steel and fire that she had with the same desire to succeed. It was this attitude that all but demanded her to teach her youngest the full measure of the rule of steel.
But to her shame... her daughter was not a prodigy of magic that she had once claimed so highly. No, her daughter was in all probability a Blunt: A magical shortcoming that rendered a persons magic inert at best or volatile at worst. Louise had been unfortunate to gain the latter and it had caused no end of embarrassment for the family.
And yet Louise persevered. Never stopping. Never quitting. It filled her heart with pride to see her daughter so motivated to succeed... yet that pride was tempered with the knowledge that she would likely never make it to dot, that she would always be the family's dirty little secret. That knowledge had hurt the mother inside her far more than most would know. The knowledge that her daughter would end up as nothing better than breeding stock, to hopefully jump the gap of blunt and reestablish a strong magical affinity. It had hurt in only the way a parent could know, to watch the child they had reared to have such a fire in their heart, only to see it doused in the waves of failure and duty.
Which was why the Incident - and it begged capitalization- had put such a strain on the Valliere Matriarch's cold metal heart. With Louise gone, a hole iron clad emotional defenses which she had for the longest time been unaware had suddenly widened. Now, like a ship on the ocean, that hole was taking water and bit by bit the sea was filling her up, filling her heart with wretched emotion that she had long thought suppressed. The week after the funeral services, when her heart was filled with cold sorrow, she had sent out a single rider to search for her daughter. In the coming weeks one became two, two became five, and five became ten.
In these last months she had almost lost it several times. Particularly with Eleanore, who, while initially somber and withdrawn with the supposed death of Louise, had since gained back her icy, snappish personality. That personality grated against the cold steel around her heart like fingernails on chalk board and made what was left of her heart shiver in agony. At one point, she had been one word away from using the Heavy Wind on her daughter, only the quick hand and words of her husband had stayed her rage. The subsequent low powered tempest had tossed everything in the room, including Eleanore, against a wall. Had her husband not stopped her, the full powered version would have likely killed rather than bruised.
In the privacy of her bedroom, It was at that point that she had broken down, months and months of pain and agony of losing the daughter who had most embodied her had broken the woman. After a night with her husband who had spoken with her, consoled her and kept her sane, Karin finally realized what she had to do. It was not desperation that she now searched for her daughter in these final months. No, It was a sworn duty as the mother of her daughter. She knew Louise was still out there, a pair of smoking shoes wouldn't have been enough proof of death, never! If an explosion of magic had killed her daughter then there would have been more blood, more destruction. But all that had been destroyed was a small section of floor where a circle had been and some mild smoldering on a book nearby.
A book about the Familiar summoning Ritual: A ritual that would prove once and for all that one was a true mage...
Karin didn't need a degree at the University of Magic to put two and two together. Louise had probably practiced the drawings of the circle as well as the incantation so that she could prepare for the ritual. It was something the mother knew her daughter was want to do. With the lack of any true magic, Louise had instead put all her faith in one event, turning to her mental genius that she had refined to a dagger point to prove once and for all that she was a mage, even if it was only a limited one. It was this mind that had probably doomed her daughter to some foreign land.
Knowing her daughters propensity towards accidental releases of magic and their sometimes contradictory results, she had likely inadvertently activated the circle and somehow summoned herself somewhere else. In some ways that made her mother just as proud, knowing that her daughter had succeeded in at least some kind of magic, and the knowledge that she would likely survive wherever she'd landed due to that same intelligence that had doomed her in the first place.
But now... now she had news, news she had hoped for, prayed for...begged for...
Her daughter was alive!
And more than that she was... married.
Karin shook her head, that being the least of the strangeness that had been brought to light by the princess' message. Her daughter was married... to seven people... six of them other women. And she had been called in along with the princess and cardinal to handle both it and this talk of a goddess that her daughter seemed to be a follower of.
Normally she would call that blasphemy. But then she'd been told that same goddess had been the one to send her daughter back, which meant actual interference from a divine being in mortal affairs. For her levelheaded and Brimmer loving daughter to even consider converting to another religion or at best supplementing her own with it... there likely had to be undeniable proof of this goddess' existence and power.
None of this mattered at that moment as Karin all but kicked down the gate to the school courtyard, proceeded up the many winding staircases of the main tower to the headmasters office. Along the way she met the princess and cardinal whom both looked no less resolute to see if what Osmond had told them all was true. They stopped at the door, Karin taking a deep breath before she did so.
She turned the knob and let the door swing in.
Her eyes narrowed on the half score of people inside other than Osmond and Colbert. As she was told there were two men, the more elegant one likely her daughters husband, while the rest were women of various styles and design. Quickly discarding the notion that her daughter would marry the young child, she noted that while her daughter's taste in gender was strange to her, the girl's taste in beauty and skill were not.
The moment she had walked in the door, they all had formed a wall in front of Louise, each of their hands inching towards what she could only imagine to be some sort of weapon. These people were comrades, soldiers at arms and their dependability of each other would likely be as absolute as any married couple she could ever find. Yes, She finally asserted to herself, these people were definitely fit for her daughter.
Speaking of which. A shock of pink hair -not attached to the other pinkette who clearly had none of her facial structure and therefore likely only shared the hair color- moved forward through the group until she stood in front of them.
Louise... her daughter. Look at how much she had grown! A small bit of moisture formed in the Duchess' eyes as she walked forward. Louise looked so much like her; The hair, the face... the eyes.
Karin blinked, temporarily stopping half way at the look in her daughters eyes. Those were the eyes of a warrior, of someone who had been in countless battles and come out by the skin of their teeth.
They were also the eyes of a killer. She would know, she saw them every morning in the mirror.
A small cry from her soul screamed at her for letting her daughter become the creature that she had been up until her daughters disappearance, that wretched heart of steel that had driven a cold wedge between her and her family. But then, something drew her attention, something that had a small bit of pride work it's way into her heart when she noted the caution in her daughters eyes, the concern for the women behind her shimmering in their depths. No... Louise wasn't like her. No group this large, no matter how well aquatinted they were, would ever share a life with each other unless they truly did love the ones they were sharing. They might not show it to a threat -and she most definitely constituted a threat if Louise had mentioned anything about her to them- but in private, or at least in a comfortable setting, they most likely showed as much love for each other as she wished she could have shown to her daughter.
Louise stared at her mother for several more moments before walking forward, coming to a stop half way as well and no more than a few feet from Karin. The mother and daughter stared at each other for several long minutes, just looking into the eyes of the woman who they had based their entire life around for over fifteen years.
It was in that moment that Louise's eyes changed, having noticed a single, small bit of moisture in her mother's own. As if the flood gates were let lose, tears came freely to the youngest Valliere. "Mother." She whispered huskily, fighting back the urge to cry.
Karin didn't even show that much restraint as she all but snatched her daughter into her arms and planted her face into the girls shoulder. Like the wind after which she was named, she allowed all her emotions to flow out in one heavy breath; releasing all the pent up stress, all the long sleepless nights, all the aches and pains that had nearly driven her to madness. All was released in one long, soul wrenching scream that was thankfully muffled by Louise's clothing, a scream which whittled out into a series of sharp body wracking sobs that brought both of them to their knees.
To say Louise was shocked by her mother's actions would have been an understatement. A shock that lasted only as long as her tentative grasp on her own emotions held... which only endured for a few moments until she found herself hugging her mother just as tightly.
Neither one spoke during the tearful reunion, they simply held each other. Truly, for the first time as mother and daughter... but nowhere near the last.
"As a representative my ass." Louise growled in Japanese as she and the motly group from Osmond's office made their way a distance away from the school. The nobles and royalty rode horses while Louise and her group walked, not because they couldn't ride, several of them were experienced but they had always ran in The World and this felt the most comfortable to them.
Bordeaux walked up beside her and patted the girl on the back. "You have to admit though, that conversation ended better than you thought it would. All we have to do is prove Aura's divinity and we get treated like dignitaries from the Mystic East."
"They only made those laws because we rarely have contact with their caravans." Louise responded crossly, shaking off the comforting hand. "Even less so their clergy. Aura on the other hand is a deity of an alternate reality, even in your world her powers only extend through the net. The only thing of hers that came over with us are the avatar's and I'm not certain if they can actually manifest here." The nervousness in her tone, didn't help matters any.
"We can only hope." Ovan mused, falling into step beside her. "At worst we are all still powerful fighters who've taken on monsters many times the size and strength of any mage of this world. If worst comes to worst, we can always attempt a Rip Maen to resurrect someone." He turned a curious eye on the girl. "Am I right to assume that there are no resurrecting magics on this world?"
Louise's mood brightened a bit, eager to test her knowledge but her voice was still agitated. "In some ways, yes. Necromancy or forbidden firstborn magics can raise the dead... though those brought back by such means are merely a shade of their former self, nothing more than a soulless shell with the memories and abilities of the person revived. Vampires are also a case of undeath but are extremely rare and dangerous. It is possible that Rip Maen might be considered Necromancy, it would depend on the cardinal's reaction."
Ovan appeared less than pleased by that. "Let us hope he equates it to divine providence then."
The group traveled for another hour or two until they happened upon a large clearing far off into the forest. Merely a break in the tree line, the clearing was surrounded by larger than average trees, likely due to a fire that had made the clearing in the first place. Louise called for the small procession to stop as she took in the place, going over several calculations in her head the Valliere found that the place was more than large enough to call upon an avatar without gaining undo attention or accidentally destroying large swathes of forest.
"This will do." Louise moved away from the party and made her way into the clearing.
"So now that you've found what you were looking for. What have you planned to show us that will convince me and by extension the church, that your goddess should be recognized as a foreign deity and thus be given diplomatic immunity rather than be considered heresy?" Cardinal Mazarin was a polite man when it came to political dealings and the necessity of assisting the royal family but he could also be rather prideful when assured of his superiority. And why wouldn't he feel that way? No matter the fact that he was outnumbered, he only considered that of the four mages there representing Halkeginia, three of them were living legends that had trained together during the great wars; Osmond the Howling Gale, Colbert the Flame Snake and of course, Karin the Heavy Wind. Alongside the princess who was herself a Triangle water mage, there was little a bunch of sword wielding warriors could do to hurt him.
Oh how wrong he was.
"The Goddess of Light." Louise spoke easily. "Gifted eight individuals with an aspect of human destruction. These eight were known as the Epitaph Users and the power that they summoned forth were known as Avatar's" She stared dully at the Cardinal. "Of those eight, five of them are here now; Including myself there's Atoli, Endrance, Ovan and Pi." She pointed out these individuals to the elderly man. "These gifts should be more than acceptable to prove her divinity." She shot her lovers a glance. "In the event this does not convince you, there are other methods; Deity blessed spells of healing that each of us are taught in the event of an injury... or in the worst case, death."
Mazarin frowned at that. "You speak as if you have means to bring back the dead."
"That's because we do." Louise remarked firmly, drawing a choked gasp from Henrietta and Colbert, as well as a swear from Mazarin and Osmond; Her mother simply narrowed her eyes.
"Blasphemy!" Mazarin growled. "To fool with the bodies of the dead and create some soulless abomination!"
"In most cases, at least for our magical system, you'd be right." Louise agreed. "Except the magical system that their people and myself use was granted to them by their old gods and the spirits of nature. As long as there is an intact body and it hasn't been deceased that long, you can pull the soul back and heal the damages."
Louise glanced over at her lovers, silently urging them to play along even though most of them couldn't understand what she was saying, intent was readable easily enough. "Barring death by monster, most of their people live to an elderly age despite the constant life of war, simply because of their powerful healing magics. In fact, the only permanent deaths that most suffer from are those that healers can't reach in time, or that their body is completely destroyed." Ok she was making that up, most of the time you only stayed dead when your entire party was defeated. Since this wasn't a game, the minor lies would make a believable half truth. "Unfortunately, most of the monsters of their world are highly voracious or destructive and those that do fall rarely ever have the chance to be revived before their comrades are also slain, which would render them permanently dead."
Karin closed her eyes, humming to herself. "So the deaths are permanent due to absence rather than practice?" She opened her eyes to stare at her daughter. "You mentioned that their people had powerful healing magics? How powerful?"
"Powerful enough to heal grievous, near-death injuries instantly." Louise assured. "As well as healing a number of effects that monster were prone to using, including curses, poisons, and a number of charms."
Karin matched her daughters stare for a few moments before whispering "Would they be capable of healing your sister?" Though everyone could hear her in the quiet clearing.
Louise opened her mouth to say something, then her mothers words really sunk in and she closed it. "I... I am unsure... there were very few actual diseases where they come from, most were simply virus infections and those that caught them didn't last long enough to develop diseases..."
"I see." Karin, relented gently. "I suppose it was too much to ask for two miracles..."
Louise frowned at that and frantically wracked her brain for some way of helping her sickly sister... oh if only it were a computer virus she could simply Data Drain it into obliv- Louises eyes widened as she turned slowly to Ovan, arguably the most tech savvy person there. "Ovan, if someone was sick on this side of the portal, do you think Data Draining them would treat a disease like corrupt data and remove it from the person?"
The man's eyebrows rose noticeably as he pondered such a question. "I'm... not sure... we would need a suitable subject to test that idea. In theory it could work. Our spells and powers have transferred over so it wouldn't be much of a stretch to think that our avatars could be capable of something that it's powers normally wouldn't cover."
Well that was something... Louise nodded her thanks. Turning back to her mother, the youngest Valliere spoke slowly. "There is... one possibility... If any of our avatars are capable of full manifestation then it is possible that we can attempt to drain away the disease that afflicts Cattleya... though I've never tried such a thing on a human before."
Her mother tensed for a moment before her muscles relaxed. "Then we shall see to it after this affair is over and done with."
"And my lovers?" Louise had to ask.
"As long as you follow through with these wonders you speak... then I shall accept them."
Louise's heart soared at that; her mother actually approved of something she'd done! All she needed to do was prove her words true. With a confident grin Louise walked to the middle of the clearing, clenching and unclenching her fists in anticipation of calling on Skeith. Taking her place a dozen meters from the group, Louise tensed, a roar building in her throat as her fists shook.
Those who hadn't witness the use of an avatar before felt more than heard the reverberations in the air that sounded vaguely like a tuning fork being struck. Underneath Louise's feet the very fabric of reality seemed to ripple as the girls body took on a red outline.
Henrietta stifled a gasp as golden symbols formed, hovering just above the skin all over Louise's body, accentuating the armor she already wore as well as giving her an almost ethereal glow. Then she heard what appeared to be Louise's voice echo through the void.
"Alright, come on, come on!" Louise gripped her head, tensing as if in pain. "I'm, RIGHT HERE!SKEEEEIIIIITH!" A burst of golden light erupted from Louise's body as she reared back and stared into the sky. The light forming a sphere around her and forcing those witnessing to cover their eyes lest they be blinded.
When the audience stopped seeing spots, they turned back to see...
Another gasp came from Henrietta along with those who hadn't already seen the form of Skeith in all it's glory.
"My god." Mazarin swore, staring up at the being in front of him. It stood nearly fifteen feet tall, far larger than any beast the man had ever seen. It's body appeared to be made of a pure white metal with gear like joints and long spindly, knife-like limbs that floated independently from the main body; the chest and head, likewise appeared to float separate as a single sphere hovered in the intersecting point of all the limbs. The face was devoid of features except for three glowing red eyes and a pair of long elegantly curving horns.
Aside from the strange body, random spheres interlaced the things wrists, shoulders, knees and the last one in the chest; A series of seven blades formed an angelic wing-like structure behind the creature as well.
The final oddity the man noted and what was more apparent then the strange things appearance... Power, absolute power that seemed to cloak the being in a radiant red glow that made it appear as divine as it was described to be.
Then Skeith took a step forward. "Behold! Skeith, the Terror of Death!" Louise's voice seemed to radiate from the creatures body, though it had a slight metallic ring to it.
The Avatar then turned toward the opposite end of the clearing, which stood a line of tall oaks thick enough that even a triangle class wind spell would have a hard time cutting through them. With a roar, the blades on Skeith's back fanned out, glowing a golden color before they turned into great beams of light, splitting in half to create fourteen beams that bored straight through the trees and continued on through several dozen more trees behind them.
Not to let that small feat define her, Louise then clenched the empty air, her avatar doing the same. In Skeith's palm a large scythe made from golden energy formed. With a quick twist a blade of energy easily the Avatar's height soared across the distance and cut through the first line of trees, then the next line... then the next line, continuing on past the line of sight of those on the ground. But Louise wasn't through, no, she continued her twist, bringing the blade around in a parallel slash that sent several more, blades down range. For the finale, Louise reared back, a golden windmill of energy spinning like the blades of a fan on Skeith's back.
Then she released it, sending the easily sixty foot wide disc of energy towards what was left of the tree line and turning it into mulch as far as the eye was able to see at ground level. From Louise's point of view however, the girl could see a hill off in the distance which was the only thing that stopped the energy blades from continuing on unimpeded.
"Such power, on the level of Square at least." Osmond mumbled to himself though Louise's currently enhanced hearing caught it.
"This is nothing compared to some of the attacks that the other's are capable of." She laughed cheekily, the words echoing metallically around the clearing. With the sound of breaking glass, the Avatar disappeared and Louise floated to the ground in particles of white light. She eyed the rather gobsmacked expressions of her Halkeginian audience, sans her mother of course, who appeared to be staring at the destruction with a rather keen eye.
"Is that the full extent of it's powers?" Karin asked slowly, going over the damage of that and what her Heavy Wind could accomplish.
Louise shrugged "The Avatars were meant to fight incredibly strong and large, individual threats." She pointed to the destruction. "I could use those same attacks hundreds of times and only be slightly winded from it. The endurance of an Avatar is there so that it can match the near indestructible nature of the things that it has to face. AIDA for example, each of those infected with the parasite are completely invulnerable as long as they have their shields up, it takes a near constant barrage of that magnitude to destroy their shields and allow the use of the most powerful weapon each Avatar has at their disposal; Data Drain."
"Data Drain?" Colbert asked curiously, such an odd name for an extremely powerful attack. "What does it do?"
Again Louise raised her shoulders. "I don't honestly know what it does in detail, but the way it was explained to me... it basically 'fixes' that which is abnormal, it heals the corruption and abnormalities in The World and seeing that AIDA was one big corrupt abnormality..." She trailed off, letting those words sink in.
"It would essentially wipe it from existence." Karin grimaced, such a powerful weapon, to basically undo the existence of something, as long as it wasn't supposed to be there... that sounded very much like something a Goddess would grant to a group of humans, it wasn't a power of destruction, it was one of healing, to rip out the infection by force if necessary. Karin's eyes widened slightly as she analyzed that thought for a moment. "You plan to Data Drain Cattleya?"
Louise blinked, caught off guard by her mother's observation. "Yes actually. I'm making an assumption that the disease in her body is something unnatural and Data Drain should remove it... though I'm unsure if it is actually capable of something like this, so I might need to test it on someone first." Louise glanced over to Henrietta. "Perhaps a prisoner that's suffering from some incurable disease?"
Henrietta nodded. "I'll see what I can do."
Louise's gaze moved to Mazarin, who was sweating lightly in the face of such destructive power. "Is that proof enough of Aura's divinity or should my lovers show you their forms as well?"
The man gulped, shaking slightly. "For thoroughness sake I think it would be best to display all that these... Avatars are capable of before I make a decision."
Bordeaux whispered the translation to the rest of the group and those that had Avatars made small noises of annoyance at the man's thick headedness but relented nonetheless.
It was funny, after seeing the size of Louise's Avatar, most of those present who hadn't already seen the others probably thought that Skeith was as big as they got. So when the sword-like Innis appeared, nearly three times the Terror of Death's size... well, Mazarin was seriously reconsidering his thoughts on his supposed group's superiority. The destruction caused by Innis' swords and energy blasts leveling another portion of the forest was another nail in the coffin of the man's sense of security.
This was further pounded home by the Cat head-human torso-flower body form of Macha, with it's energy rings and number of long ranged attacks, the poor tree's in the forest were already looking worse for wear. The... controversial bondage form of Tarvos raised a few brows but were quickly wiped away by the creature's destructive potential as energy spikes tore through the downed tree's in the clearing and continued on, pinning the wood to the ground.
The final Avatar was Ovan and his purified Corbenik, while humanoid unlike the others, the creature was still much larger than Skeith. The barrage of Clinch Needles finished off what was left of the forest that surrounded the now much larger clearing.
Louise looked over to Mazarin, who looked as white as a sheet. "That enough for you?"
The man stared at her blankly for several moments before pulling a scroll from his robes. He found a suitable log that was knocked over and unrolled the scroll on the bark. From his robes he pulled a quill and inkpot, quickly scratching out what was probably a well memorized document onto the parchment, he then finished with a flourish as he signed his name. Given his political clout as both Cardinal and Regent of Tristain, it was well within his power to approve this document. He glanced over at Colbert. "Would you do the honors?" A quick dot level fire spell dried the ink and the Cardinal rolled the scroll up and tossed it to Louise. "I'm getting too old for this shit." He mumbled, before walking back to the horses.
Louise stared down at the scroll for a moment before opening it up to read. After scanning the pages, Louise's face lit up with a satisfied smirk, that alone tipped off the other gamers that Louise's ploy had worked; Aura was now a recognized foreign deity by the Church of Brimmer and was therefore had legal power to practice anything pertaining to their religion as long as they did not attempt to subvert the people's right to believe in Brimmer and his practices or cause harm to another's person or property.
So her harem marriage was now legally binding in this world!
Louise's smile turned predatory as she gave her lovers a perverted little leer.
More than a few shivered in anticipation...
They made it back to the school in short order, moving far quicker thanks to casting Ap Do and using several dozen Speed Charms over the party, the later of which was something that Colbert had marveled at, he even started asking Ovan and Alkaid, who had been the ones to use the Speed Charms on everyone, question's on how they were made.
Louise looked at the Elder fire mage as if he ware daft. "They can't understand our language Mr. Colbert, I thought I mentioned that earlier?"
Colbert blinked. "Why no... that would explain why they haven't answered my inquiries..." He frowned slightly. "How can you understand them if I may ask? Do they have some variation of the Translation spell available to them?"
Louise actually smirked at that. "No sir, I learned the old fashioned way." That rose a few eyebrows from the Halkeginia group, especially from her mother, who felt a rather large ping of pride that her daughter actually learned another language fluently enough to converse with an entirely different people in such a short amount of time. Louise smirked, pride clear on her face as well. "Their language is very complex and polite, so it's quite difficult to learn, even I still have some difficulties getting things across to them."
"Perhaps I could be of assistance then?" Colbert asked congenially. "There are certain spells that allow people to learn the language of another fluently, all it requires is the blood of the person who's language you're attempting to learn and I would be more than happy to be the donor and caster of the ritual."
Louise stared him with a deadpan. "You're just trying to bribe us so that you can learn about their technology." She accused.
Colbert smiled sheepishly but didn't deny it. "I am merely curious about their world, to have such fascinating things, even a working model of something I've been attempting for many months now-" When Louise looked at him funny the balding man rubbed his head in embarrassment. "Oh, it's just a small toy I devised that uses a flame to move a little toy snake back and forth, nothing too complex but from the brief description of the workings of this Steam Bike, the mechanisms appear vaguely similar."
Louise's eyebrows rose at that, remembering one of Ovans goals in this world she quickly relayed the information to him.
"So he's created a simple combustion engine has he?" The Steam Gunner rubbed his chin in thought. "Judging by this worlds level of technology It's probably best to assume that he's the only scientific community here and with access to the materials and magic to quickly and efficiently make the materials we don't have... hmmm, yes, he will do nicely." Ovan glanced up and nodded to Louise. "Tell him that we agree, as long as I can be there with him. Out of all of us, I along with Pi are the only one's who are old enough to actually know a good portion of what I'm about to impart to this man, so it would be best if we were able to understand each other."
Finished with his little monologue, he left Louise with the task of explaining what he just said to the teacher. Colbert was many things, but in this instant, patient was not one of them. When he was told he would indeed get a chance to see the field study he had only just scratched the surface of, yet was several centuries, if not a half millennium more advanced.
He nearly jumped at the chance.
Louise fell back onto her bed with a gasp, utterly spent as those around her gasped for breath as well.
"How the hell did that turn in an orgy?" Alkaid mumbled from the floor, off to the side and to the left of Louise.
"What the cherry said." Bordeaux raised a hand to point to the ceiling, though only the tips of her fingers were visible to Louise over the end of the bed. "What the hell happened?
Louise pulled herself up to a sitting position to take in the room and all of her lovers splayed out, completely naked and in various states of satisfied stupor. How the hell did it turn out like this. Last thing she remembered was having a family meal with her mother and then retiring to her room with her lovers, where everything went to hell... She blinked, taking in the room again and felt her own satisfaction in the delicious ache of her body and the spent pleasure still sending ghostly tingles through her nether regions.
Perhaps 'went to heaven' would be a more appropriate euphemism?
A knock sounded from the door. Louise groaned as she stumbled to her feet to get it, hastily throwing a robe over herself to cover her indecency. Opening the door found her mother, standing there with a furrowed brow.
Louise twitched in confusion as her mother stared at each of her naked lovers with a severe expression before turning her eyes on her. "I see that my preparations worked better than I had hoped." The frown on her face dropped, to be replaced with a smile.
An eyebrow twitched on Louise's face. "You had something to do with this?" She asked incredulously.
In response to this Karin pulled out a small half empty vial of some bright pink liquid. "I bought this years ago in an effort to get Eleanore reacquainted with the idea of marriage and children... but she was never one to listen, even to her own body."
"You drugged us?" Louise squawked, staring at her mother as if she'd grown another head.
"It is merely a strong aphrodisiac." Her mother shrugged. "And I saw the looks you were giving your lovers... as well as heard you contemplating who would be your first." She waved a lazy hand around the room. 'This way, they all were your first."
Louise looked like she'd sucked on a lemon. "Be that as it may, that kind of thing is-"
Karin deadpanned, cutting her daughter off. "Louise, I have very few things with which to amuse myself these days, at least let me enjoy putting my children in humorously debaucherous situations."
A stricken look passed over Louise's face. "Did you just make a joke?"
Her mother cleared her throat. "Perhaps... I expect grandchildren from this, if not now then soon; I wish to spoil them."
If anything Louise looked even more flabbergasted. "We can't have children this early, we've only been-"
"Grand. Children." Karin stared directly into her daughters eyes, putting emphasis on each word.
"Grandchildren..." Louise nodded, meekly backing into the room, while closing the door slowly in her mother's face who didn't stop staring at her until the wooden fixture blocked her view... and even then she felt her mothers gaze through the wood.
"You mother is crazy." Alkaid remarked offhand.
"Again, agree with the cherry. " That was Bordeaux.
"That was underhanded of her." Pi mumbled from the other side of the bed, from her standing position she could make out the top of the woman's head as she leaned against the bed. "Can't say that she doesn't play a damn good wingman, this was actually kind of nice, having all of our first times in these bodies together I mean."
"All this stamina makes it so much more enjoyable. "Shino chuckled breathlessly from the side of the room. "It's amazing how long we can last now, even in things like this."
"Agreed." Atoli snuggled into the crook of Shino's arm.
"How the heck did I end up under the bed?" Tabby grumbled, coming back from the land of delirium to find her head poking out from under the bed skirt
"It must have been a beautiful night." Endrance muttered wistfully. "Though much of it is a blur to me."
"I remember most of it and yes it was amazing." Louise grunted, bending her spine until a loud, wet series of cracks echoed in the room.
"How does that not hurt your back?" Tabby moaned from under the bed.
Louise smirked. "The same way you did that thing with your mouth last night without hurting yours... you were quite... flexible by the way..."
Tabby rolled her eyes after a few memories of last night graced her with their presence. "I'm a cat woman, what did you expect?"
"I still don't know how the hell you both can be so big." Bordeaux muttered, staring at both Louise and Endrance's naked bodies. "With how fruity Ol Endy there acted most of the time I half expected you to be a dyke under all that armor."
Endrance sent her a bland glare. "As if you have the right to call me that, you act more mannish than everyone here, except for perhaps Louise and she is technically your husband so that is a given."
"Yeah and you're lucky that you weren't the bottom when Louise got around to you." Alkaid chuckled, raising herself to a kneeling position by the bed to playfully glare at he man.
Endrance's eyebrow twitched as her turned his nose up at the woman. "I would be perfectly happy to partake of any part of Louise's body, including that which makes her a man."
Alkaid snorted then fell back in floor rolling laughter at the thought of Endrance being the woman of the relationship. "You have got to be the weirdest guy I know.
"And I appreciate that weirdness." Louise chuckled as well, knowing how odd all this must seem to someone from the outside but here, in the confines of her room, with the people that she loved... well there was just nothing that could beat it.
Tabby pulled herself out from under the bed and rose to a sitting position. "So what do we do now?"
A loud growl chose to answer her, a loud growl from Louise to be exact.
Louise looked down at her stomach, a deep red blush on her cheeks. "I suppose food would be the first order of the day."
Another knock interrupted the afterglow for the group. "Who could it be this time?" Louise grumbled, throwing the door open to find a rather large cart of food and drink enough for eight people set up outside. A letter was sitting in the middle of the display, which Louise picked up and opened.
Louise stared at the two looping and gold etched words blankly before a groan of annoyance left her lips. "Mother is going to be insufferable for the foreseeable future." Another rumble of her stomach answered her. "Though I suppose it's nice that she's just being annoying rather than severe." She blinked, then stared down at the food suspiciously, in light of that letter it would be wise not to trust the food unless they were ready for round two... speaking of... Louise looked down and noticed a certain part of her anatomy seemed to be raring to go this morning. She turned back to her lovers. "In the event that this food is spiked like the last bit, is anyone ready for round two of our honeymoon?"
"Here here!" Bordeaux and Alkaid cheered.
"I think I'm up for it." Shino and Atoli shared a smile.
"Give me a glass of wine and I'm good." Pi grumbled, picking herself up. "It's just been awhile that's all."
"After we eat and rest a bit." Tabby groaned. "If it's any problem with you, I think I'll go last."
"It would be best if I bathed first." Endrance grimaced slightly. "I seem to be rather...sticky."
"That would be Louise's." Alkaid smirked, giving Louise a sly grin. "Who knew she was a squirter?"
Louise turned away from the group hiding her bright red blush. "S-shut up you."
"Like you're one to talk." Pi leaned over the red head to stare down at the girls body. 'If I remember correctly you practically soaked through the top comforter." She then pointed to a blanket wadded up in the corner of the room that had a rather pronounced stain on it.
"And you moaned loud enough to wake the dead." Alkaid retorted.
"Can't we all just agree that we all have our quirks?" Atoli was up, rubbing her hands together nervously. "I'm just happy that we can satisfy each other, no one get's left out or neglected."
Shino was beside her then, hugging the girl. "Yeah, we can all agree on that. It's nice, having such a large family, even if it is a strange one."
Everyone was silent after that, no one speaking for many moments until Louise let out a little breath while running her hand through her air. "Family huh?" She looked around the room at the man and women that had devoted themselves to her and each other... it was a strange relationship... but it wasn't a bad one. It was...
"Yeah." Louise smiled, happier now than she could ever remember being. "We're just one big eccentric family."
Wardes giggled madly. There was no way... simply no way that this was possible. He had killed the prince and the forces of Reconquista were utterly destroying what was left of the Loyalists.
So how could everything have gone so wrong?
All Louise had done was look at the quickly cooling corpse of the prince and spoke two words; Rip Maen and poof! the dead prince was now alive again looking rather pissed off. Outside, the forces of Reconquista were being routed like common rabble by giant beings that seemed like the vengeful hands of God, destroying everything in their path.
Wardes continued to giggle madly up until the point that Louise backhanded him with the flat side of her broadsword, knocking the man out cold.
Prince Wales looked at his would be assassin with a small sneer before turning to Louise, teeth shining in the dim light as he let out a little chuckle of gratitude. "I can't thank you enough Louise, you saved my life."
"Don't mention it" She mumbled, all too happy to put down the evil elements of this world. Hey, she may have been disillusioned to the status of nobility by her lover's world but that didn't mean she hated the world she now lived in... it just needed a few... changes... changes Ovan and Colbert were already devising. They were already working with people from all walks of life, including some of the less snooty nobles, blacksmiths and many healers to take the applications brought here from Earth and apply them here. With Magic there were so many possibilities with the resources here, including windsones, extremely large deposits far underground could finally be tapped for fuel and to harness the anti-gravity nature to do things that would have made scientists back on earth scratch their heads in confusion.
With such power in the hands of the common people, Nobility would mean less and less until it was more of a title rather than a state of being, it would increase the economy, increase the number of jobs available, increase the quality of life for everyone. It was almost utopian in concept, all it need were those dissident few who spoke out against their loss of power to be curbed. Reconquista one among their number, they sought the destruction of the current Albion monarchy but all they'd be doing was replacing one totalitarian government with another, it was almost humorous.
The freedoms she'd seen at a distance from her place in The World, spoken of in passing and witnessed through the cracks of The World during it's infection, there was so much out there that her world could become and after Ovan had pointed out how simple it would be... well, she wanted excitement, overthrowing the established order was as exciting as she could think of. She even had Henrietta's blessing; Tristain was full of corrupt nobles abusing their powers and that needed to change, likewise there were any number of other mages oppressing the common peoples all across Halkeginia.
There was just so much left to do... they still needed to bring Albion under heel. Then Gallia with rumors of madness following the king around, they would need to weed out the problems there as well. Then onto Romallia, the Pope had been rather too kind to welcome her and a foreign religion into his lands when they had met the week before. There was just something about the man that seemed...fake... They would take care of him next. And finally Germania... while it wasn't a Brimmeric nation, Louise had felt bad about leaving Kirche's surprisingly progressive country in the dust. She had to admit, at least to herself, that the Germanian's were more noble than most of the so called nobility in Tristain...
Of the people, power given. For the people, power used. It was a strange concept but Germania had coined such a thing when they had given every person the right to lead as long as they worked for it. A noble of Germania could have been a peasant but so long as they used their power for the betterment of the country and it's people, then it didn't matter where you came from.
And that was a lesson Louise took to heart. It didn't matter where you came from, only your deeds defines who you are.
Louise stared up at the utterly ruined forces of Reconquista and her comrades who had decimated them, their Avatar's routing at every available chance. Louise chuckled to herself then, if this was anything to go by, then her legacy and the legacy of her lovers would be that of conquerors... Oh well, it wasn't like they were destroying the world... no, they were creating a new one; Like the title of Ovan's avatar, this world needed a rebirth. Louise briefly pondered the amusing notion of how The World creators would react knowing that the name of one of their factions were being used to change a foreign world. She idly played with a patch on her shoulder, a patch depicting a roaring lion over top a magical staff. She'd be lying if she said ruling a faction was easy; It wasn't easy, but she had a lot of practice running Canard so it wasn't like running the Teutates faction would be that difficult... right?
This is one of those points in a story where you kind of just have to let things go. I'm sure at some point one of my other stories might end up this way if I screw up and take them down a road that has no conflict. That is the point of most stories, to create conflict (Hopefully in interesting, thought provoking and Lord help us all, well written ways) The threat of defeat kind of stops being an issue when your main cast can smash in the face of pretty much everything in universe.
This is basically my superman vs batman argument in story form. Having a plan is all well and good but the thing is, one of them is a physical god, the other is a squishy human with a tactical brain and while the veritable David vs Goliath match up can make for good reading, it also ignores the fact that Goliath is the good guy here. In fact, if Superman didn't have his no kill ethic like the rest of the pants-on-head retarded superheros of the DC universe then the worlds supervillians would be gone within the week. Hell Superman wouldn't even fight batman fair, he could just lazer eye beam him from orbit and he'd never even know he was there, much less have time to react to an attack that's moving at roughly the speed of light.
My point is, when the main character can bitch slap threats into their composite elements then there isn't much of a story. Now granted, there ARE godlike stories out there, but those stories treat the godlike being as a force of nature rather than a physical character. Take Alucard from Hellsing Ultimate for example. There is literally nothing that can kill him, it takes a contrivance, a freaking chekovs gun just to inconvenience him for a few decades. And a few decades mean nothing to an immortal vampire.
And even then Hellsing follows the correct format of a godlike story and has a squishy cast to counterbalance, hell it could be argued that Seras Victoria is truly the main character of the story as it follows her decent into vampire-hood
This story here was basically, like I said, an "after the fact" story that had Louise returning to her home. There was no plot to add to that, it was basically. "Louise shows up back home after becoming a badass; shit happens." That was literally the single line of text that I started with and it ended up being this... I'm not saying it's bad, it's actually a exercise in describing a story for me, I haven't had much experience in this particular brand of explanation so it's a practice for other stories later on.
As for cutting this chapter a bit short in the timeline (relatively speaking) It's because Louise and company would turn Halkeginia on it's head. The problem is, there would be no conflict, they could wreck absolutely every threat they come across. With Louise and the other Epitaph users, the threat of Reconquista, Joseph and hell even an entire squad of elven archmages would be like throwing ping pong balls at a brick wall and hoping to break through. And with Colbert and Ovan supercharging the scientific community, the nobility system would become something more mundane as average soldiers can now utterly dominate on a battlefield with superior weaponry. And with scientific innovation mixed with magical reality bending they can create a more utopian world as there really isn't a shortage of food or jobs as with an economic boom and the ability to magically grow things much faster than normal, the economy and standard of living would sky rocket. Just imagine the medical sciences being performed by water mages who doesn't even have to cut you open or subject you to radiation to get rid of cancer or some other serious illness. No, they can go in and remove it via magic, breaking the thing down into something harmless.
Mages would then take on a more respected profession so, instead of nobility, mages would be a public service, the cops, firefighters and medical personnel that help others. I know this wouldn't be likely to happen quickly. No, they need to disillusion the current ruling nobility and bring in those bastards and cast off nobles who aren't so uppity and corrupt. This would end up as more of a political series rather than the hack and slash epic that the .hack games are known for... so I stopped it here. It's anti climactic I know, but it wasn't meant to be something grand... just a bit of muse juice that squirted out of my ears and formed a story.
Till next time peeps.