Update to author's note at the bottom: 12/22/18

(Here you go, the new chapter! Told you I'd get it out as soon as I could! ...did I really say that, though? I can't remember. Hehe…please don't hurt me! Anywhales…I did some thinking, and it turns out that the next chapter won't be the last one for Before the Fall. Or it will be, just with time-skips implemented here and there, just for the story's sake. I'll be sure to actually make a poll for it [yay! My first poll!]. There just isn't enough going on for me to accept, and so next chapter will be a wee bit longer than this one.)

[ Wolf Guard Miestwin — Well, I thought of that as well...but there was an issue with that. While Cardina mentioned cannons being shot at them if they turned the wagon around, there just wasn't any evidence of guards patrolling the top of the wall. Even as I looked through the manga, I found no traces of anything of the sort. Especially when Kuklo and Cardina were taken up onto the wall by Jorge.]

[ Guest :Andromeda: Yes, the Wall Maria incident will still occur.]

'Single Quotation Italics': Thoughts

"Double Quotation Normal": Speech

"Double Quotation Italics": Human Telepathy (in response to Tailed-Beasts)

Italics: Emphasis

Underlined Italics: Move/Attack Name

'Single Quotation Bold Italics': Titan/Tailed-Beast Thoughts

"Double Quotation Bold": Titan/Tailed-Beast Speech

"Double Quotation Italics Bold": Tailed-Beast Telepathy

Chapter 6: Idiot Reunites with Princess!

First Person - Kurama

The reactions humans always displayed towards me were generally amusing, especially the boy's, Kuklo. I recall that the only encounter with a human that wasn't worth any mirth whatsoever was with the earlier monkeys that migrated from cave to cave; it was on that day, that for the first time ever, someone had crapped on my hand. 'That was fucking disgusting.' The event was so personally traumatizing that I still remember it to this day.

My gaze fell upon the spooked Kuklo after having taken a moment to ponder my intriguing past. The boy extended an arm and pointer finger at me as he retreated from me as much as possible on the wagon; my small form meant nothing, and I was more than sure that Kuklo understood that. Certainly, at least one human was capable of judging based on other factors besides what was laid out in front of him. 'Maybe humanity isn't so doomed after all.' If anything at all, Kuklo seemed capable of at least a decent analysis of situations, regardless of the boy's current actions.

"How—how were—what?!" Kuklo, from what I saw, was currently incapable of forming coherent words and sentences befitting a well-spoken human being. Unfortunate, I suppose.

"You mean to say how it is that I'm here is?" I inquired amusedly, a smug smirk drawn over my face. Kuklo nodded slowly whilst sitting as far away from me as possible. "Well, it isn't because I'm projecting an image from somewhere, so I'm actually here." I observed the boy visibly deflate. He must've thought that I was elsewhere whilst appearing in front of him in some mystifying manner. Maybe the boy thought I was here to kill him and the inhabitants of the city ahead; a foolish notion, although possible if this world had gone to proverbial hell. Humans have yet to slight me also, so until then, all will be well for the furless apes.

"Quit moping, I'm only here because I want to observe you. You've gotten my attention, and I want to see just what goes on for a little while before going back to sleep." I laid the facts unto Kuklo without a second thought, my brows furrowed as my vulpine lips settled into a faint frown. Plenty has occurred around the human before me and I planned on being there to watch for some time longer. 'Perhaps the boy'll impress me,' I pondered, indulging the idea for a moment, 'I doubt it, though.'

Kuklo seemed to be getting somewhat comfortable with my presence, because the boy inched away from his end of the wagon only a tad. He still cautious, undoubtedly, although I assumed Kuklo finally was coming to the conclusion that maybe I wasn't there to destroy all he held dear at the moment. "If you aren't here with mal-intent...then...you're here to watch me? That sounds...I dunno...concerning?" Kuklo, evidently, was soft-spoken due to my presence and the fact that I was an unknown to him, talking indecisively as if I would go off on him for even the smallest implied insult. Lucky for the boy that I had more than just a great deal of time to temper my inclination towards rage and hate. 'To think that it took a couple of generations and an obnoxious blonde for that to happen, feh.' I kept my gaze lazily trained on the boy, only shrugging my shoulders in response. At this point I could pull the 'I'm an ancient being of power, respect me' card, yet it seemed inappropriate; I was looking to be an acknowledged observed, not a conceited and wrathful presence.

Then boy, Kuklo, as he finally noticed, realized his companions were unaware of the conversation between him and I. He called to his female companion. "Cardina, are you seeing this?" However, much to Kuklo's confusion, Cardina, as I finally deigned to remember, did not even so much as twitch at her name being called. I remained silent, observing Kuklo interact with the world. It was then that Kuklo recognized that his world was tinted a faint blue, because I watched the boy stare at his hands and self as if they were the strangest thing; it was akin to watching the supposed first humans encounter fire. Only on a much tamer level. Then Kuklo shakily extended an arm towards Cardina, right hand inclined towards her with the pointer finger out. I sighed, resorting to barely shaking my head as I looked on. 'With or without chakra, humans are incapable of telling when they're within an illusion at the worst of times.' I felt no small or large disappointment, none at all, actually. My thought was a meager statement. 'I best just tell the boy.'

"Stop right there, kid." I intoned calmly. Kuklo ceased reaching for Cardina obediently; I could garner a sheen of sweat forming upon the boy's skin, apprehensive, it seemed. Probably due to momentarily having set my being here aside in favor of his trepidation towards the condition of his company. Unbeknownst to the boy, I forgave it. "None of this is real." I relayed to Kuklo with a bland countenance. It was only natural for the boy to become utterly confused at this.

"What do you mean this isn't real?" Kuklo made an expression of concern.'Perhaps I should explain before he jumps to a conclusion.' I craned my neck towards the boy and bore into him with lazily narrowed eyes like a disinterested professor would to student. "Firstly, I'm going to give you a quick lesson; ask no questions until I finish. Secondly, do not jump to conclusions. Thirdly, don't interrupt or I'm going to kill you." I added a slight growl to the end of the instructions, a deep rumble from my throat to let the boy know not to push anything. Although I wouldn't actually kill him. Kuklo nodded and I suddenly had his rapt attention. "Now then, there's a saying that originated from a bygone time: 'look underneath the underneath.'" I lectured to Kuklo. "The relevance of this will come to you soon enough. Now to the main lesson; long ago there existed three general classifications of techniques, of which we will focus on one: genjutsu, otherwise known as illusionary techniques, or simply illusions, I will only instruct you on this and nothing else. If only for the sake of you understanding what is currently happening," I paused to ensure that the boy wasn't distracted. I hummed curtly before proceeding, "these techniques allowed the user to warp and change the world in the eyes of their enemies, whether it be through their foes' perception of the physical word, or to create an entirely new world within their minds and engage them there, thusly fooling them into thinking an actually battle was taking place..." I trailed off, eyes sharpening upon the sight of the earthbound and pensive eyes of Kuklo."Are you listening, boy?" My voice an aggravated snarl through the connection.

Kuklo's eyes immediately shot up to meet mine, startled and momentarily afraid. "No, no! I mean yes! It's just that I was considering what you were saying! Especially with the whole 'underneath the underneath' thing!" The boy rapidly defended, desperate to appease my minute anger. I huffed, nodding in grudging acceptance of the excuse—no matter how truthful it was.

"Anyhow...with these abilities the user can basically alter the world to fool their victim's sense of the real world, or recreate the world in their victim's mind and do as they wish there." I ended with a roll of my eyes, that explanation was not fun, even if I were to entertain the notion of teaching Kuklo for a while longer. It is not to say I disliked it, just that I gave no real consideration to it; nor will I, because I don't plan on sticking around for so long.

"I get it...so we're basically in what I perceive to be the real world when we're actually in my head due to an illusion you cast?" The boy figured it out fast; then again, even a monkey should be able to within time. I nodded at Kuklo, whom seemed to be taking it rather well. "Then what's going on out there?!" The boy exclaimed with a restrained panic, leaning towards me with expectant eyes. I groaned, the worry this boy exuded reminded me of Naruto's incessant and annoying tendency to want to know what was going on.

"I forgot to mention that perception of time is also affected, so don't worry about that. It's been maybe three minutes out there that you've been looking seemingly anxious about getting to the city that your 'hero' talked about." At my factual words Kuklo calmed down, slumping against the wood frame of the wagon; face riddled with relief. Then a thought came to the boy, his eyes widened as he looked to me. "Is there a way to escape these illusions?" He asked with sincere curiosity. 'Probably in the case I use them against him or someone else. Smart kid...kind of.' I nodded slowly, appearing reluctant to answer. "Why should I tell you?" I asked, caution laced in my voice, attentive of the boy's every movement...as if he could actually do anything to me, unfortunately for him. My behavior spurred the boy on. 'Looks like I'll have to teach him how to detect discrepancies eventually, or everyone'll end up making him their bitch.'

"Because you can't—shouldn't end your quick lesson like this—you only told me the strengths of these illusions." Kuklo spoke unto me. The boy spoke truthfully, however, I had no real obligation to do so. I lecture however I deign to lecture, not at the whim of a child. At the very least I will indulge him.

"Fine." I said with finality, all my pretense shattered as I took on a straight face. "There are two ways in which to escape the illusions, one of which is no longer accessible to your kind, so don't ask; the other is through acute and intense pain to bring your senses from the hold of the illusion. The latter is a bit of tricky one because you need to know when to hurt yourself." My explanation done, I saw Kuklo about to bash his head into the wood of the wagon. I changed his mind with negative reinforcement via a smack upside the head with two of my tails.

"Idiot, I'll let you out, no need for that." I relayed to Kuklo, exasperated at the knucklehead's attempt at freeing himself. Following that, I faded away from the world, and by then, Kuklo's senses will have returned to reality.

First Person - Kuklo

The first thing I noticed, upon the fox informing me of its willingness to release me from the illusion created within my mind, was that the world was no longer tinted blue. Secondly noted, the wagon hadn't moved much in the terms of distance, thankfully—the fox-titan explained why already, difference in passage of time and all that—so there wasn't much I could have missed. 'I can still see a few landmarks—means we haven't made much in terms of tracks since the illusion.' I thought as I averted my eyes from Jorge's direction, taking in the view being left behind for confirmation on the wagon's position.

After assuring myself that nothing was likely wrong—'As if I could really do that. A fox-titan capable of changing size and making illusions? What's even real anymore?'—I slumped against the walls of the wagon's frame with no visible relief. 'The others'll probably think me a fool if I told them.' There was no concrete proof that the fox actually spoke to me. For all Cardina knew, it could be a growing obsession so that I cope with existence of the fox-titan we had a glimpse of beyond the walls.

It was then that Jorge spoke up. "Hey, boy, Cardina, come take a look. The city's within sights." The hero called to us.

I complied and scrambled to the front, sticking my head out past Jorge's left side. The view I witnessed was astonishing. A city with a large centralized building that look to be constructed out of pure metal; it was a sight to behold—even more so the great clouds of smoke the industrialized settlement exhumed. There was a wall right before it, however, a checkpoint more less like the previous one we crossed. Passed that was a body of water with bridges extending over it; then after that...the city. "Welcome to the industrial city." Jorge's voice accompanied the sight, mirth in his tone. I wasn't sure I'd ever recover my voice at the sight of the incredible construct. It was enormous; it looked to be just as big, if not, bigger, than the walls protecting the territories. After having seen towns and cities in the Shiganshina district and what I saw on my way to a cell prior to my exile, things I've never seen before...this industrial city dwarfed them. I was impressed by it all.

'So this is...the industrial city.' It was strange sensation that gasped my heart; accompanying the thought of Sharle, the knowledge that this location was alien to me left me anxious. The hardworking girl I came to treasure is safe. 'What really matters is that I get to see her again!' Honestly, it never occurred to me that I might actually survive all the problems that have presented themselves to me over the course of all this time. I'm just glad. 'I get to see another sunrise. Question is...for how much longer?'

As we closed in on the city my anxiousness only grew worse, obstacles passed and left behind, bridges crossed and left further untouched; eventually more and more became visible of the city. The large building in its center was made more vivid by the distance we had crossed, it was surrounded by pipes and platforms with catwalks galore—everything only added to the powerful presence the structure just seemed to give off.

Eventually we entered the city and left the horse and wagon at some stable from which we departed and began to move throughout the settlement. During our walk...I couldn't help but notice the unusual amount of guards; more numerous than those in Shiganshina or elsewhere that I've seen. "It's as if they're on high alert...what's going on?" I questioned Jorge, my voice, while I attempted to keep myself sure that nothing was about to go awry, was somewhat shaky. Cardina had added an inquiring and drawn out "Indeed," after my question.

Jorge seemed to pick up on my trepidation, because he seemed mildly amused. "That's because this city is basically the land's armory. All of our weaponry and equipment come are produced here." Jorge glanced over his right shoulder every couple of steps to ensure that Cardina and I wouldn't suddenly go off and get lost.

'We aren't children, quit lookin' over your shoulder!' I thought indignantly, although the expression never really showed itself on my face.

"Additionally, it'd be catastrophic if this place fell—whether to titans or their worshipers, even against those that look down upon establishments. The added security is for just that: protection." Jorge further spoke, informing us of the reasoning behind such heavy guard activity. However, I found it just a taddifficult to acclimate to such conditions; my experiences with guards have not been the best and I tended to come out of those encounters with more than just a few bruises. It was then that a pair of the patrolling M.P.s had passed on by, just a few meters away; I couldn't help but scowl in their general direction, keeping my good eye on their forms as they passed on by. Jorge noticed, apparently, since he flashed me a smirk from over his shoulder. "Don't just be hostile—think of it like this: it just means that Lady Sharle has more protection." Jorge intoned, then took to keeping his eyes on the road; following that he extended his right arm and pointed at building just between a couple of trees. "See that? That large workshop? My friend's the foreman there and—" all of a sudden Jorge's voice was cut off by far more feminine, albeit familiar, voice.


It was Sharle.

Third Person

As much as Kurama was sure that humans were physically frail, they could be just as emotionally fragile. While having nothing against Kuklo and his company, the Nine-Tailed Fox of the Village Hidden in the Leaves was, plainly put, unamused. The princess that the boy appeared so enamored with rushed into the boy's embrace without so much as a thought. Heartwarming? Yes. But at this point things could have changed and Kuklo could have been warped in mind and spirit. 'The girl's lucky, Kuklo's got spirit and determination in spades; kudos for him.' Thought the titanic fox in a miniature form. Kurama kept near to Kuklo, though never once making physical contact with the mortal.

"Sharle..." Kuklo spoke, the name that belongs to the girl he so dearly adored; Sharle meant so much to him that he managed to survive situations and monsters that might as well have been wrought from hell.

It was then that Sharle turned her head upwards to look unto her dear friend's visage. "I'm glad..." she uttered softly, "I'm so glad that you're alright..." Sharle's voice began to break up towards the end as she started crying, sobbing, now aware, and with physical proof, that Kuklo was safe. Sharle leaned into Kuklo as the boy set his hands upon her shoulders; he was unsure of what to do with a crying Sharle and so settled for squeezing her shoulders, confirming that he was truly there, that this was no trick of the mind. 'When it comes to the fox, however...I can't be sure.' The boy kept the thought to himself. Better not to seed panic and trepidation.

It was then that Cardina chose to make herself known. "Uh, Kuklo, sorry to interrupt, but think you could introduce us first?" The ex-trainee of Jorge asked with a nervous tone; she was sure that Jorge and she were being left out. 'Don't think I'm going to let myself be scarce!' The long, curly-haired Cardina thought fiercely. She also seemed to think that it was in no way rather fair that Kuklo had just seemingly forgotten about her...and Jorge, too, of course.

Kuklo, however, felt somewhat protective of Sharle the closer Cardina came to himself and the blonde noble. It was as if two clashing sides might come together...Kuklo felt some anxiety from the very thought. "You don't need to be introduced!" Kuklo bit out with a low, dissatisfied, tone; denying Cardina any introduction. Unfortunately for Kuklo, that didn't serve to stop the woman he spent time with in prison before being exiled. "I don't have to be, although she doesn't know me." Cardina made sure to emphasize the first and third person pronouns. Throughout the ordeal Sharle was attentive, although she kept close with Kuklo, always in contact with the boy; something that seemed to irk Cardina. Sharle took a step from Kuklo towards Cardina and gave a short bow. "It's nice to meet you," Sharle said with a small amount of enthusiasm, "my name is Sharle Inocencio."

It was then, right after Sharle's introduction, that Kuklo spotted a flash of orange fur going past the entrance to the workshop and making an immediate turn, disappearing out of sight. 'Orange hasn't been a color that ever bode well. Might be the fox...' just because the fox appeared small in the illusion did not mean it couldn't scale itself that way in reality, either. Kuklo then became much more on guard and aware of his surroundings.

Unaware of Kuklo's turmoil, Cardina proceeded to introduce herself to Sharle. "How polite," Cardina chirped slightly. 'Unlike a certain thick-headed one-eyed boy. Seriously, life-death situation or not, suddenly grabbing a lady and holding her close is not proper! He better own up.' Cardina then smiled, "I'm Cardina Baumeister." It was at the familiar last name of Baumeister that Sharle perked up before the meaning of that surname dawned upon her. "Bau-...Baumeister?" Sharle muttered underneath her breath, suddenly feeling a nervous sweat upon her forehead as she paled considerably. Immediately the runaway noble hid behind Kuklo, her worries marginally staved as she sought protection from one of the few people she trusted with her life.

Cardina could not help but stifle a chortle that battled her very will to come out before attempting to speak. "It's fine, don't worry, the engagement is off," Cardina assured Sharle, "and before anyone asks, in case they will, no, I do not have a brother. My father wanted a son and so I became that in name." There was a moment of silence in which Cardina suddenly felt an awkward tension. The Baumeister cleared her throat. "Ahem...I'm not into women, that's all I got to say." Cardina added, as she felt the need to get that out there.

Somewhere on the other side of the entrance to the property, Kurama almost let out a laugh. It was these kinds of moments and others that gave the fox at least a modicum of amusement.

"Anywho...you don't need to worry, the engagement is off so don't let it bother you anymore; besides, I already went against my father's wishes." Cardina attempted to calm Sharle's nerves while raising her hands in a placating manner. "That makes us sort of like..." Cardina paused to search for the word, "friends. It makes us like friends." For a moment Sharle didn't seem convinced, but the allure of having a friend that was female instead of male looked to be like a refreshing change. Though unsure of what to say, Sharle only nodded in response to Cardina's words before coming out from hiding; if only somewhat that it. Cardina, afterwards, gave Kuklo a look that seemed just a tad too merry for it to have been natural. "Kuklo," Cardina called softly. Kuklo responded with a curious "huh?" Cardina's merry expression seemed to have gotten worse, because her seemingly sweet countenance was marred by a smile that showed a little too much teeth to be healthy, "I said that the engagement is off." Kuklo only frowned at that. "Why the hell are you repeating yourself?" The boy responded annoyedly.

Kuklo's scowl faded after just a scant few seconds or so from being formed, his gaze coming down to focus on Sharle's form. The sweet girl was holding a bag of what appeared to be groceries, and filled to the brim, too. "Here, lemme get that for you." Kuklo expressed a gentleness towards Sharle, it was then that Kuklo reached out and slipped his arms around and underneath the bag before gently taking it from the girl's hands. It was a tad rushed, though, so it might seemed to Jorge or Cardina as if he snatched it from Sharle. "Th-Thank you, Kuklo." The girl stuttered with a faint tint of a flush to her cheeks.

Jorge shook his head, a faint grin upon his features, at Kuklo's antics. "Well, we best be getting inside then; no point in keeping everyone waiting." The hero mentioned to everyone.

First person - Sharle

It hadn't been more than twenty minutes when Kuklo had just arrived and I felt as if all was well. Meaning that today had ended up being a better day than it already was; sure the guards made me anxious every once in a while but that was because I basically abandoned and ran away from my home. It was a godsend that none of the guards in the area were able to recognize me. 'The Baumeister girl was certainly a surprise, though.'

Upon entering the workshop, I heard the familiar sounds of iron being worked on. Hammers pounding away any errors, shaping hot metals into parts for whatever they were needed, tinkerers making repairs with their tools, and other workers making do with their own professions. It was basically an artisan's dreamland, where craftsmen came together made their creations with deft hands. When I first arrived, I was in total awe. The companionship and camaraderie was heavy in the air. Everyone in the place might as well have been family.

"Everyone, I'm back!" I called out to them as I led Kuklo and the others towards the forman's office. Kuklo hadn't uttered a word upon coming inside, I was hoping that he was content. It was rather worrying not hearing him talk, and it might've been the numerous people or something else; and I would've asked Kuklo were it not for me fearing that I might offend him in some manner. 'I care for him, what if I say something wrong?' It never was easy with how Kuklo and I had to do our best to remain inconspicuous. That might have something to do with his silence, although I wasn't sure.

It was then that welcoming cries and calls of "welcome home," "welcome back, miss," and "oh, Sharle! Welcome home," rang out from a majority of the multitude of workers beckoned me to acknowledge their speakers.

Once done greeting as many as I could on the way to the office, I just barely caught a conversation between Kuklo and Jorge. 'Something about being accepted, I think?' Nonetheless it must not have been important. 'At least he's talking again...' and with a look over my shoulder I saw something that only served to brighten my day, 'he's smiling again...' I could never stand the sight of Kuklo being melancholy, it's honestly heartwarming to see him smile again. A shame it was that Kuklo never got to properly experience his childhood and adolescence, always being sold around up until he had reach my household. It still shocked me that I wanted to kill someone as innocent as him back then.'Kuklo had never done anything wrong, and yet I wanted to...kill him.' I frowned at the thought, however, the expression did not remain for long, and a countenance of contentment replaced it. 'Kuklo is alive and well, that's all that matters now.' With that final thought I crossed the last of the distance necessary to reach the foreman's office door.

I pushed the door open, it having been unlocked and slightly ajar while I announced our destination. "This is the foreman's office." My voice might have come off as somewhat pompous but that's due to me working on my confidence. 'I don't want to seem so meek anymore...' Kuklo was at my side while Cardina and Jorge stood behind us.

"Admittedly...this place is tidier than I expected." Cardina idly commented. I barely angled my head, a nervous chuckle working its way passed my lips at Cardina's observation. "Well he has to set an example as the head of this workshop, no?" I refuted Cardina's comment with the inquiry. Cardina only nodded as I led everyone into another room within the office.

"Did someone sneak in here to take a nap?" Cardina ask monotonously to no one in particular, right arm and pointer finger extended towards a body sleeping on a row chairs lined up before a table. My eyes widened as soon as I realized who it was. "No! That's the foreman!" I moved immediately to the side of a short, aging man. Hairs stuck out in a wild mop of gray, signifying the foreman's increasing age. "Mr. Xenophon, wake up! We have guests!" I called with a louder voice, prompting the older man to rouse from his sleep. For a moment the foreman wouldn't do anything but lay there, until he groaned an pried open his left eye. The other eye was almost constantly under a magnifying monocular eyepatch. It wasn't until the foreman stopped grumbling tiredly that he managed some coherent words. "'S'it morning already?" The foreman muttered groggily. I almost felt myself suffer a twitch of the eye; I'm usually a rather passive person, yet this old man managed to break me from whatever shell I live in. "No," I began sharply, "not even close!" I chided the foreman on his actions, that he had his duties and shouldn't shirk them. "'Side from that, why'd y'wake me up?" Intoned Mr. Xenophon, lazily propping up his head on his left hand, supported by his arm against the chair surface.

"You have guests!" I urged for Mr. Xenophon to pay attention to the matter; and it seems as if my enthusiasm did the trick, because the foreman laid his eyes upon the forms of Kuklo and his party.

"So..." Xenophon began, "y'finally arrived." He stated towards Jorge.

Third Person

Kuklo didn't feel comfortable with the observant look the foreman had given him, as if the old man were analyzing him. It didn't help, considering that this whole time Kuklo had been seeing flashed what could have been orange fur; with that said, Kuklo hoped for all those glimpses of orange had been tricks of the mind or even a trick of the fox-titan. Jorge and the foreman had a short conversation about the device, although I had no interest in it since it was just the old foreman rambling about how happy he was that Jorge hadn't mistreated it.

Jorge's voice soon cut in somewhat stronger after having spoken to whom Sharle referred to as Mr. Xenophon. "Alright, this the owner and manager of this workshop, who will be taking you in for the foreseeable future." Jorge introduced Xenophon, not by name, for whatever reason he might have.

The forman shrugged his shoulders, he didn't care whether or not the boy that had walked into his office knew his name. For all Xenophon knew, the boy, Kuklo, as Sharle called him whenever she spoke of him, probably heard his name when Sharle woke him up. "Took y'longer than I thought," the foreman frowned for a moment, pausing in thought. Then he grinned, "y'were so late that I thought y'might've been eaten by titans." Xenophon ended, a grim sense of humor tinging his voice.

Kuklo and Cardina shared a few words in between them about the foreman; the former more or less iterating Xenophon's words, while Cardina had let it be known that she thought the old man was a derelict that had snuck in for a nap.

As the foreman went on to embrace hold his face against the device, an unseen fox with nine tails the size of a common dog stood upon the table in the room, only ever moving to make space for the invention of the foreman once it was set down.

'Huh, what manner of technology is this?' Kurama wondered, leaning in to inspect the piece of human engineering in favor over paying any attention to whatever late proper introduction the foreman made to Kuklo and Cardina. With curiosity spurring him on, Kurama set an illusion over the device and its case, making it appear the the human invention would still be in place once he removes it. The metal contraption was taken in paw-hand by Kurama, lifting it up for his eyes to closely inspect the human creation. 'Do humans never cease their progress? Even now, ages after a cataclysm, do they advance.' This always seemed to baffle Kurama, somehow humans were always capable of adapting to the situations around them. 'If they can't fly, then they make winged passenger vehicles; and if they can't swim long distance, then they make a vehicle that crosses oceans in a matter of a few days.' The fox shook his head. Truly, humanity was always moving forwards in one way or another.

Kurama's curiosity of the device had settled down just in time for a viewing of the old foreman inspect Kuklo so closely that it was like watching a pedophilic old man observe some jail bait. Only for Kurama it was the old man getting a close-up instead. 'I had also forgotten that the more intelligent the human, the closer to madness they are.'Kurama pondered as looked on at the scene, the old foreman then looking to Cardina and dubbing her as spare before moving on to converse with Jorge, the so called hero. The foreman complemented Kuklo's and Cardina's bodies, thinking the two great subjects, their muscles being taught and whatnot. Kurama could honestly care less, the only thing that really piqued the nine-tailed fox was Jorge's declaration on returning at some point to drag Kuklo and Cardina into the military.

It was as soon as Jorge mentioned the Survey Corps. that Kurama's ears came to an immediate rise. 'I had feeling Kuklo was going to end up involved with them somehow.'

"The Survey Corps. is horribly short on manpower, the recent expedition made that brutally clear." Jorge said with a restrained despondence. Thehero sighed and shook his head. "We need fresh blood—fresh blood like these two! Like them!" Jorge was sure that if a pair of young recruits joined, then the Survey Corps. would come to benefit from their presence. Jorge already understood the pressure and responsibilities that his son bore upon his shoulders; it must've been more than a tonne. For now there was nothing the father of Carlo Pikale could do, and until then, Jorge Pikale, father and hero, would support his next of kin.

Kurama now understood. The circumstances surrounding Kuklo might end up being more than just extraordinary. A small exchange of life-changing words was made between Kuklo and Cardina, both of them seeming to accept their fates with some trepidation. Unlike Cardina, though, Kuklo appeared more to be considering the idea. That was when Sharle, the noble girl that he hadn't bothered with really observing, come back after having left at some point with a tray holding a few cups. Sharle's mouth was agape. 'She's shocked by this. Wonder this'll play out.' Sharle looked as if she had just seen a ghost. 'Maybe she has a bit of Naruto in her?' Kurama pondered with a faux self-indulgence.'...Nah.'

"Sharle..." Kuklo muttered as the usually meek girl gained a surge of unusual defiance and boldness.

The blonde runaway noble stepped forth and set the tray unto the table before facing Jorge and Xenophon with an expression of clear displeasure. "I'm grateful that you took me in and hid me, and for rescuing Kuklo, too," Sharle's voice was a calm, one that gradually lost its metaphorical honey and began to sprout thorns, "but what you're saying something else completely...Kuklo will not be joining the Survey Corps.!" It was then that Jorge made an endeavor to calm Sharle, his hands raised no higher above his waist as he gestured absentmindedly. The hero then tried his hand at speaking to, and placating, a cross Sharle. "We've...gotten ahead of ourselves, please understa—" that was when Sharle cut in. "Let me tell you something about Kuklo!" Sharle snapped. "Ever since his birth he's been cursed by the titans..." Sharle's eyes became glossy and moist, "he risked his life to go and see one! All so that he was sure that wasn't the spawn of some—some titan!" The petite noble protested fiercely, her moistened eyes began to accumulate tears. "He's not the 'Titan's Child' anymore! He has the right live in a world apart from the titans and have the same happiness as anyone else!" It was after her last outburst that Sharle's tears finally began to fall, slipping over her eyelids and streaming down her face.

The tension in room became heavy, and in no way was Kurama going to intervene in any form, unless it meant communicating with Kuklo that is. Not that the fox ever planned on making any other interventions, anyhow. The situation was something to be solved by humans, it was their emotions that always tended to get a hand over them and dictate their actions. Just that sometimes the humans need an extra hand.

"Hey, kid." Kurama relayed to Kuklo via the connection. This garnered a reaction from the boy himself, his eyes began to shift in their sockets, searching for any signs of the orange nine-tails.

"The fox? But...how? I don't see you anywhere." Kuklo responded, a clear anxiousness tinged the voice of the boy's mind.

Kurama shook his head and grinned. "Don't bother looking, I won't show myself until later; but for now, you need to consider what's going on." The demon fox pointed out, his voice through the telepathic connection sounding out suggestions—instructions, really—to Kuklo.

"What do you mean?" Kuklo replied, a slight frown marring his already scarred face. Kurama sighed at the boy's response— 'He might just be as clueless as Naruto.' —unsatisfied by what evidently is a case of obliviousness.

"Tell your little girlfriend that you want to be a part of the Survey Corps., it's what you want, right? I'm sure that someone cursed by the titans only wants to return the favor." Kurama only backed up what he assumed was already on Kuklo's mind, especially since the boy's expression became one of surprise, cementing what Kurama had deduced.

The time at which Kuklo and Cardina exchanged some 'life-changing' words, Cardina had expressed with concern how she and her partner in exile would definitely end up in the Survey Corps. This had not seemed to deter Kuklo, instead the boy became contemplative of the idea, deeply considering the option.

At the moment, Kurama only inspired Kuklo into taking that step forwards. Kuklo had no reason to trust the fox, yet it encouraged him to take the chance to become a member of the Survey Corps. 'Stupid fox, I was planning on it.' The boy thought vehemently.

"Sharle," Kuklo addressed clemently, "I don't actually...mind joining them." Kuklo said softly. Then upon clenching his left hand into a fist, Kuklo's face adorned an expression of wary determination. "If it's possible...I want to be a soldier in the Survey Corps.!" The boy managed out, his mind already committed to another goal.

Sharle, however, was on the verge of a breakdown. Kuklo's words had become a sort of trauma to the girl. "What for, Kuklo?!" She pleaded for an answer, her hopes of Kuklo living a life without a titan spurring him on in some way were more than just dashed. Her hopes were more than just dashed, rather than being eclipsed, they had been ripped apart by the revelation that the person she held so incredibly dear decided to face the monsters outside the wall.

Kuklo didn't answer Sharle, she would hear his answer alongside a condition. "I'll do it, I'll join the Survey Corps.! But you have to let me use that device!" Kuklo demanded firmly.

"I want to use that device to topple a titan!" The boy declared without stutter.

(Extra notes… While this is going on, I thought up of a few fanfiction projects I'd like to start on. However, neither of them will be possible because of this story [and a few things keeping me busy] and my bad laziness habit. At least…not yet that is. ~ Also! Do check out that poll while I work on the next chapter [I'm not even halfway through it. T_T I told you it was going to be long, and either be the last BtF chapter, or not.] BE SURE TO LOOK AT THE POLL.)