Author's Note: Have you ever tried to focus on writing one story, but your brain kept assaulting you with ideas and plot bunnies? Yeah, that's the situation I'm in right now. I have nothing to blame but my fertile imagination… and PokerPair week 2k19 prompts… and fanfictions… actually, it's more of a collaborative effort. In the end, I decided to just post them in this story and see what you guys think of them. These guys are more like rough drafts than anything, so they don't get the same level of research I try to put in my other stories. So if you read anything that's factually wrong, please let me know with either a review or PM.

This was inspired by one of the prompts for Day 3 of PokerPair week 2k19 – Gods AU. I then combined it with a 17th century setting; mainly because I'm a fan of Eric Flint's 1632 series. Though this story isn't itself a crossover. However, I do recommend it if you're a fan of alternate history fiction. The first edition of the first novel, 1632, is even free to download from the publisher's website ( ).

Warning: Fem!Allen; PokerPair; Possible OOC-ness; Artistic license applied to history

Disclaimer: Yup, still don't own -man. Not even a omake.

-XXX-

The Bargain

Holy Roman Empire, Spring 1631

'This is a bad idea,' Ellen's more rational side hissed to her. 'If the Black Order ever finds out what you're about to do, you will be imprisoned post haste!'

'But what about your friends?' her emotional side implored. 'If you decide against doing this, then there was a real chance they will be killed in battle.'

'There were other ways to help them,' her rational side insisted.

'What are they? You are forbidden from going onto the battlefield.'

'Like that has stopped me before.'

'Yes, and that is why Komui will have you under constant guard from the morning of their departure to a fortnight after.'

'I have traveled with Master Cross Marian. If I can evade his debt collectors, I can certainly outwit the Order's guards.'

'And you do not think that Komui has not taken that into account?'

Ellen's rational side paused before continuing on, 'Fine. But this is just too big a risk. Should anyone catch wind of this, they will cry heresy.'

'Like you really care about God,' Ellen's emotional side scoffed.

'No, I do not. But neither do I want to die.'

Ellen broke out of her internal monologue when she felt something tugging on her skirt. Her little terrier Timcanpy held the garment in his maw and whined as he looked up with his dark eyes.

"I am fine, Tim," Ellen reassured the golden-furred dog as she scratched him behind the ears. He whimpered in return, not quite convinced, but licked the inside of her wrist.

She cast her eyes to the items she had arranged in front of her. Flowers, fruit, and bottles of alcohol rested in the center of an improvised altar made from stone. Gathering them had proved to be a challenge. Oh, the flowers were easy enough. The meadows were filled with wildflowers at this time of year. Only a half hour was needed to pick enough blossoms to fill her apron. The fruit was more difficult as, since the closest orchard belonged to a miserly nobleman and thus was heavily guarded, it needed to be purchased at market. Still, she managed to get a respectable amount of pears and cherries. But then there was the alcohol: red wine, to be specific. Not only did she loathe it due to its intoxicating effects, she could not even look at a bottle without thinking about all the coins her master had spent on drink. Nevertheless, it was needed. So Ellen had no choice but to buy a few bottles, explaining to the vendor that she was preparing for whenever Master Cross deigned to visit the Order. Having already encountered the priest, he questioned nothing.

Towards the back was a small mirror, its reflective side pointing up at the cave's ceiling. Ellen was worried it wasn't big enough, but she didn't dare try to take any of the larger ones. Those were placed in more prominent places in the building that housed the Black Order. She didn't want anyone to wonder at such a disappearance. The small mirror, by contrast, had been in one of the seldom used rooms that Ellen cleaned out a few days ago. It's rough wooden frame and layers of dust further gave it an air of dullness, but the mirror itself still reflected objects accurately. And that's all that mattered to her.

Finally, at the very front of the altar were two clay dishes. The smaller dish was set to the left and had a knitted nightcap resting within it. The larger dish was in the center and contained Spanish tobacco arranged in the shape of a butterfly. She could have used incense but, as with the mirror, she didn't want to take the risk. The tobacco cost more but was the same type that her master smoked, so its quality was assured.

'I cannot believe the day has come when I'm glad about Master's pickiness regarding his vices,' Ellen dryly noted to herself.

She raised her right hand and touched one of the three candles surrounding the larger dish, then briefly glanced at the five surrounding the smaller dish. She originally was going to use tallow candles; cheap and made of animal fat, they didn't smell as nice as the beeswax ones. But the Order's supply of beeswax candles was large enough that Komui let Ellen and the others have free access to them. And she was already in the habit of borrowing candles to complete the tasks she took on to earn extra money. Thus no unknown observer would think it suspicious should they see her take a few more…

She let out a heavy sigh. She realized that the inane direction her thoughts had taken served no other purpose but to delay the inevitable. For all the good points not to continue on with this mad plan of hers, Ellen knew in her heart that she will do so regardless of the consequences. For the first time since her father figure had died nearly five years ago, she had found a place that she could call home. But because of the times they lived in, many of her friends now must fight to protect the 'true faith.'

And thus her desire to protect her friends had led her to this moment.

'No turning back now,' Ellen grimly decided as she reached though the side-slit of her skirt and pulled out a piece of flint and a small steel knife from her pocket. She walked up to the altar and took a candle from those surrounding the smaller dish. Then the young woman walked over to the small pile of tinder she had gathered just minutes ago. After numerous tries, Ellen finally managed to light the candle. The others were lit soon after. And once she had eight flames delicately flickering in the darkness, she took the top candle from those surrounding the larger dish (the first candle she lit having already been placed back in its original position) and ignited the tobacco butterfly.

Once the smoke began to rise from the dish, Ellen closed her eyes, lowered her head, clasped her trembling hands and prayed.

-x-

"Joyd, you have a prayer request."

"So why tell me this yourself, Wisely? We get them all the time..."

"Because it's coming from the lands that overthrew the Romans."

"Oh? Now that sounds interesting..."

-x-

Ellen kept silent as she prayed, though the tobacco smoke now filling the cave threatened to irritate her lungs. She didn't know how long she was supposed to keep praying – the grimoire she got the ceremony from didn't specify that detail – and it was hard to tell how much time had passed. Though in a horrible way, Miranda's bad habit of staying awake for days on end came in handy this night; both she and Lenalee were dead asleep when Ellen had sneaked out of their shared room.

Her eyes snapped wide once she heard Tim bark madly at her side. But before she could scold him for making too much noise, her gaze fell upon the altar and she let out a gasp of shock. Instead of rising up to the cave's ceiling and floating towards the exit, the smoke curled around the candles and offerings and drifted towards the back. She walked around the altar, not noticing that her dog now fell silent, to see exactly where the smoke was going.

When Ellen got close enough, she saw that it was gathering right above the mirror. Swirling like the whirlpools she had heard of from sailors, the smoke built up until it covered the entire altar. Yet the candles were not extinguished…

The young woman was startled when the vortex of smoke began to glow with an eerie purple light. She moved back to the front of the altar, grabbed Timcanpy, and watched in stunned silence as a figure – a man – emerged from the vortex. He stood on the altar for a few moments, moving his head as if looking for something. Soon their gazes locked, and again Ellen gasped. Golden irises, narrow pupils – such mesmerizing eyes burned into her wide set of silver.

Those eyes held her own for a few more seconds. Then they shifted down to take in her face, and then her figure. The candles, amazingly, were still lit, so it wasn't too difficult a task for him to see her. And visibility worked two ways, meaning that Ellen could see him as well. She couldn't help but silently marvel at his dark hair, warm brown skin, and a monochrome-clad physique that would rival the few Classical-inspired statues she glanced at during her travels across the Italian peninsula with Cross. There was even a small mole under his left eye. Over all he appeared to be a man who could compel even the most virtuous woman to consider committing the sin of fornication. Others less virtuous – well, they would move past the considering and go straight to the committing.

But though he appeared to be a man, she knew he wasn't one. Those black stigmata markings upon his forehead were proof enough.

Ellen broke from her thoughts when she heard a deep, rich chuckle. She felt her cheeks flush with embarrassment when she caught sight of his amused expression; no doubt he noticed her shameless staring.

"So, you are the one who prayed to me?" he asked in such a smooth voice.

"Ah, yes I am," she nodded, hoping she didn't sound witless in front of him. "I assume you are Joyd, the Noah God of Pleasure?"

His grin widened as he stepped off of the altar and onto the floor beside it. He made his way over to her, ignoring Timcanpy's warning growls. "You got it," he said as he came to a stop right next to her. "And what are your and your watch dog's names?"

"My name is Ellen Walker. And his is Timcanpy. It's a pleasure to meet you," she responded and gave a curtsy in return, Tim still held in her arms.

Joyd chuckled and purred out, "Actually, I believe the pleasure is all mine." He reached out and brushed a stray strand of hair from Ellen's face, earning a blush from her and more growls from her terrier.

"So why did you send a prayer to me?"

Ellen felt her embarrassment and nervousness disappear at his question. She straighten herself out, looked him in the eye and said, "I wanted to request your protection."

Joyd raised an eyebrow in bemusement. "Oh? Protection from what? An over zealous suitor?"

Her lips thinned and eyes narrowed at his rather flippant jape. "No," she corrected him, "I would like you to protect my friends going off to war."

Now Joyd looked at her with surprise. He didn't get that type of request very often. "You want me to protect a group of soldiers?"

"Yes," she confirmed.

"Are they such poor fighters you would request their protection?"

"No, quite the opposite really," Ellen shook her head. "But skill alone is no guarantee of survival on the battlefield. A small opening, better-laid plans, one instance of luck – it can take very little for an opponent to kill them."

Joyd looked away in contemplation. "Hmm, you do have a point there. Still, death is a part of war. Why do you go to such lengths to protect them?"

She let out a shuddering breath as her male friends came to mind: cheerful Lavi, trouble making Daisya, calm Marie… and yes, even that arsehole Kanda. "Because they are family."

"So will you do it?" She pressed, trying to keep her inner desperation from leaking into her tone.

Joyd turned back to the altar and stared at the fruit and flowers. He grabbed a pear and contemplated it for a few moments. "I can, but for a price."

Ellen wasn't surprised. She hadn't expected him to help her for free, after all. "And that 'price' would be…?"

He took a bite out the pear. "It depends: How long do you want me to protect your friends? A month? A year? For the rest of their days? The longer the time, the larger the price you would have to pay."

That did make sense. "Do I need to pay it all at once?" she asked as he finished eating.

"No," Joyd shook his head as he tossed the fruit core behind him. "So long as you keep up with the payments on a regular basis, I'll continue protecting your friends. Though I don't recommend going a month without offering anything; otherwise I would revoke said protection."

Ellen looked down in thought. If she was careful enough, she could make payments every two weeks without anyone else noticing. "I would have to take on more extra tasks, but surely I can handle it. Can I use the same goods offered to you today?"

"You could," he confirmed, walking over to her again with a grin. He leaned into her personal space, once again ignoring an angry Timcanpy. "But getting the same things time and again sounds boring, right?"

"Oh- well, yes I would imagine so. Exactly what would you want, then?"

His grin grew wider as he looked down at her. "It's not too hard to figure out, really," he told her. "I am the Noah God of Pleasure. As such, the offerings I accept are related to that concept."

Ellen felt her cheeks grow hot with his close proximity to her person. "Related to pleasure?"

"Exactly. Good food, interesting diversions; anything that gives someone pleasure can count."

"So that means you can accept a large variety of objects..." she whispered to herself, intrigued by the possibilities. Her savings might not take as big of a hit as she previously thought. One less thing to worry about.

Joyd let out a devious chuckle that captured her attention. "Oh, not just objects. Experiences can count as well." He took a gentle but firm hold of her chin and tilted her head back enough so that they locked gazes. His other hand then wrapped around and rested at the small of her back.

"And exactly what kind of experiences would you find… pleasurable?" Ellen asked, hoping that the god hadn't noticed how her voice became slightly breathless at the end.

The amusement growing in his eyes let her know that that hope was rather futile. "No need to play coy, girl. You know exactly what I'm referring to. But if you want me to give you a demonstration, then I'm happy to oblige."

He began to lean down, his handsome face drawing closer to her own. Ellen was no fool, she knew exactly what he was about to do. But she was conflicted. Half of her was adamant that she break out of his hold and make it clear that she would share no such experiences with him. The other half, one who looked upon the moments Ellen caught Cross… enjoying the company of loose women and young widows with curiosity, pointed out that a kiss was quite different from a maidenhead and thus the former could be safely given away. Though given how little she could afford to put into her bottom drawer as compared to paying off Cross' debts, there was a real chance that she would die an old maid instead. Dying a virgin might have been perfectly reasonable for Queen Elizabeth I, but was another matter for a girl coming from a small Northumbrian village.

However, just as their lips were about to touch, Timcanpy decided that enough was enough and leaped out of Ellen's arms to teach this stranger a lesson. His paws had no sooner hit the cave floor before he bounced up again with his fangs out, fully intent on biting Joyd's thigh.

That plan immediately went south the moment the dog passed through the god.

Ellen's wide eyes watched as Timcanpy came crashing down to the ground and rolled to a stop. The then quite confused terrier walked up to Joyd and tried to rest his left paw against the other's leg. And like before, it seamlessly passed through.

The young woman tried to figure out what had just played out in front of her. The grimoire had listed varying amounts of information regarding the Noah gods. Joyd's was among the more detailed entries. If she remembered correctly, he had the power of -

"Was that..." she whispered, diverting the god from disinterestedly watching Timcanpy, "was that your power of Choice?"

"Ah," he chuckled with amusement, "so you already know about it?"

Ellen bit her bottom lip in uncertainty, drawing Joyd's gaze. "Only the fact you are able to go through anything."

"Well, not exactly anything," he amended with a shrug of his shoulders. "But if it's a force or being of the mortal realm, I can Choose whether or not it can affect me. Like an overprotective dog."

Timcanpy growled in response.

"Or a pretty girl who's too adorable for her own good," he continued as the hand holding up her chin left its spot. He held it up in front of her face long enough for her gaze to focus on it, then moved it to rest on her right shoulder. And, without even the slightest sensation, the hand slowly moved inward.

Ellen was so stunned that she didn't protest when it stopped in the middle of her chest. "Only that which I Choose to touch will ever feel my grip. As you can clearly see and feel, I'm not Choosing to touch anything in your body." Joyd's grin grew ever more devious. "However, that can change. If I decide that I actually do want to touch something..."

Her eyes grew wide as something cradled her beating heart.

"… Then I will, without touching anything else."

She felt something rub the organ's smooth surface, and choked when she realized that it was his thumb. The action could have been soothing, had it been done on her hand or even cheek; but the fact that it was being done on her heart only increased its rapid tempo.

"It's a very useful power, indeed," Joyd casually stated, being far too relaxed for the circumstances. He then looked up, as if trying to remember something. "Ah, I almost forgot. Remember how I mentioned I could protect your friends for the rest of their lives?" Ellen nodded, not feeling able to speak quite just yet. "Good. Now, obviously such a deal would require a high price," his voice lowered to a whisper as he once again leaned in towards her. "To mortals like you, life is supposed to be precious; it's not something that should be exchanged for goods alone. No, the price has to include something equally precious. Like… another life."

She felt faint at that revelation. "Wait," she tried to say over Tim's renewed barking. It was accompanied with more biting attempts; they were just as successful as the first one. "If you… take my life, then how will you receive your offerings?"

"Oh, I wouldn't take it right now," Joyd clarified. "Like I said, it would part of the price. You would still have to offer other items before then. But once the time comes..."

Ellen bowed her head as she tried to come to terms with what the god had just told her. She looked back at him and questioned, "And you truly will protect them for the rest of their lives?"

Joyd raised an eyebrow in response to her insistent rhetoric. "Oh? Do you doubt the word of a god?" he asked, sounding both slightly miffed and very amused.

Her lips pressed together in a tight line as she responded with agitation, "Their lives are at stake. I need to make sure that how I ask this request will not harm them."

"Alright, alright. No need to get upset," he chuckled, causing her to feel great annoyance. "I guess this means you aren't stupid. But yes; I'll protect them from harm until their time comes."

Ellen closed her eyes at his statement. She already knew that dealing with a Noah god came with great risk. It was not just merely the risk that came of other people finding out. The grimoire made itself clear that the Noah gods were… volatile at the best of times, and any agreements made required the human to fulfill their side by any means necessary. So to keep her friends from dying in battle, her own life must be used to secure their safety.

Strangely, the frantic beat of her heart started to relax once her mind focused on that last thought. A life to save others. To insure that they will return home, or at the very least reduce their chances of being killed by an enemy soldier.

'I truly do not want to die, but...'

But with all other options closed off from her, either due to her gender, arrogant men with strong opinions and the power to back them, or just her own inner conflicts…

Ellen let out a quiet sigh before looking up once again. Surprisingly, that irritatingly attractive grin was no longer gracing Joyd's face. Instead he was staring at her with- confusion? Then she remembered that he still had a hand around her heart; he was just as aware of her heartbeat as she was.

'So even a god can be caught off guard,' she thought with amusement while biting the inside of her cheek. After she got this sudden rush of mirth quietly under control, she looked him straight in the eye and said, "Then I humbly offer my life, among other gifts to be given beforehand, in exchange for you protecting my friends."

- XXX -

Cultural Notes:

Holy Roman Empire: One of the strangest political states to come out of world history. Basically came into being after Pope Leo III made Charlemagne, King of the Franks, Emperor of the Roman Empire (ignoring the Byzantine emperor who still ruled what used to be the eastern part of the Roman Empire). Its territory comprised of several kingdoms, principalities, duchies, Free Imperial Cities… all over Central and Western Europe! Because of that, it was nearly impossible for the Holy Roman Emperor to collect taxes the way rulers of centralized states could. But despite being a hot mess, the Holy Roman Empire managed to hold on from 962 CE until being dissolved during the Napoleonic wars (1806 CE).

Grimoire: A book containing magic spells and instructions on how to make amulets/invoke supernatural creatures. While the term is European in origin, there are similar books all over the world.

Bottom drawer: UK term for where a girl would have kept her trousseau(the household linens, wedding clothes and other items a bride would bring into her marriage; the same as a dowry). Known as a hope chest in the US.

Queen Elizabeth I: King Henry VIII's second surviving daughter; she's pretty well known, so there's not much for me to write about here. Seriously, she has a bunch of documentaries and books about her!

- x -

So yeah, I ended on a cliffhanger. Like I mentioned in the author's notes above, this is a plot bunny that I felt compelled to write so I can go back to writing Boto Cor de Rosa. And oooh, do I have plans for that one… provided I can appease the other plot bunnies I have running about. I did say I had a fertile imagination!

For anyone wondering why Tyki was referred to as Joyd, the answer is simple: that's his name as a god. He doesn't have the name 'Tyki' just yet…

Thanks for taking the time to read this! Please review it; I can't get enough of your feedback.