Hello everyone! I do apologize for the long wait. My writer's block has been kicking my ass. But please enjoy The Last Trial for our Empress and Lady-in-Waiting.

I own nothing but my thoughts, ideas, and prayers.

Please enjoy and R&R!

"I still can't believe you cut your hair."

Lina touched the ends of her new haircut before they left Sasan. Before they left, Lina had a bit of a mental breakdown and chopped some of her hair off. Once she realized what she had done, she had a little freaked out and somehow sweet-talked her way to get a local woman to cut her uneven hair and give her a fresh blob. The haircut shows off her beautiful face, and her head feels much lighter. She's free from the weight that's now off her shoulders and ready to move on.

"It was getting in the way; besides, I needed a change." Lina avoided the real reason.

Kougyoku raised an eyebrow but went along with it. "Well, it looks good, Lina-chan."

"Thank you…Well, how about you?"

"What? Cut my hair?" Kougyoku raised both eyebrows and shook her head at the ridiculous idea. "Not a chance in hell unless something happens. Besides braiding it, twisting it into a bun works just fine for me."

Lina shrugged and nodded, "Fair enough… How much longer do we have to wait?"

Kougyoku shugs because she doesn't know, but water is her specialty, and she at least knows they are going in the right direction.

"...can we dye the rest of it?"

The dirty look Kougyoku gave her was so worth asking the question.

The Princess and her companion made it to Reim faster than they thought. The wind and waves were definitely in their favor. Once they made it to the docks, the girls sold their boat to the locals with a bit of persuasion and a subtle threat. The girls found a little cafe with the dragon symbol they're finally familiar with and met other hunters. They explained why they were in Reim.

Their subsequent trial is going to happen in the Colosseums in Reim. The test will be emotional because they have already done physical and mental tests. What comes next is going to be a pain. As it turns out, they'll have to separate during their trials. Kougyuko is going to stay in Narpolia while Lina is going to leave for Ria Venus Island. They will be by themselves in their fighting arenas.

For some reason, Kougyoku has the feeling that someone is watching her. It didn't feel threatening or dangerous, more curious, safe even like the Rukh was trying to push her on the path to someone special. Someone who can help better understand what her purpose is… What was… What is… What could be… After all, the Rukh works in mysterious ways.

Before the first sunlight, they went to the docks the following day. Lina and Kougyoku quickly hugged and said their goodbyes.

"Good luck Lina-chan."

"You to Hime. See you on the other side."

"I will do that." Lina raises an eyebrow and makes a hand motion. Kougyoku sees this and resists, rolling her eyes with a slight smirk: "Hell yeah!"

"Much better!"

"Time to go." The captain of the ship waved at Lina to hurry up.


"You better keep your promise!"


The Princess stayed at the harbor to watch her sail away to the island; she walked away once the boat was out of sight. Kougyoku made her way to the Colosseum, but she didn't realize someone was before her and bumped into them.

"Oh! I'm sorry! I was lost in through! Here." Kougyoku picked up the man's bags.

Nodded to thank her and accepted the apology, "It's alright. I wasn't paying any attention either."

The first light rosed, and she got a good look at the man's face: long golden hair with golden eyes, wearing a familiar outfit that was a little outdated and plain. But his hair got her attention because it reminded her of her dearest friend.

"Alibaba-chan…" She whispered.

The man blinked a few times in confusion, "Excuse me?"

"Sorry! You um… You look like a friend of mine." she blushed.

"Ah… Well, I hope your friend is in good health."

"Me as well." Kougyoku saw one of the hunters calling and waving to her to hurry up. Kougyoku bowed to the man politely, "Have a pleasant day, sir!"

"You as well, my lady." The man watched the young girl swiftly make her way to the hunters with a contemplative look but smiled and continued his morning walk. After taking a step, he felt something under his shoe. It was a gold coin, but he had never seen a currency like that before. He looked around for the young lady and remembered someone shouting her name… Her name is Gyoku.

"Gyoku! There you are. We've been looking for you."

"I apologize. I wasn't paying attention to the time."

"Entitled Princess." The hunter rolled their eyes but held no malice, just amusement, "Follow us, and we'll begin."

Lina was on the ship, making everyone's life a living hell with her questions because, without Kougyoku, she could be very annoying. Plus, it has been a very long two days at sea, sue her.

"Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we there yet? Are we-"


"Sorry, I'm just bored… Can you tell me about the island?... Please."

The ship's captain rubbed his forehead as if remembering why he didn't like kids. Never mind that he has three of his own brats, but they weren't as annoying as the young woman before him. "Ugh, fine. Ria Venus Island is the main island for Mariadel Company, run by Maader Umm Mariadel, also known as Lady Maader."

Lina tilted her head, 'Maader… that sounds very familiar… why?'

"Lady Maader is a prominent merchant based in Remano before settling on Ria Venus Island. The island is the Special Administrative District and the Company's main branch. It's one of the main trade locations owned by the prominent and powerful families of the Mariadel Company. Ria Venus island was built to show appreciation to merchants from various places and became a place where they could privately enjoy popular attractions such as casinos and the arena. The island also serves as a center of commerce where tourists can come and go freely. It may be a territory of Reim, but it's a self-governed region with its own laws. It can be difficult for the mainland to interfere with matters occurring within the region, pretty much making it an entirely separate country. Lady Maader's private life is kept under key, so no one really knows her or her personality, but she has many children."

"That she adopted or…?"

"It's unclear, but kids seem to like her."


After the conversation, Lina left the sailor alone to think. She knew the name was familiar, but it was just out of reach, on the tip of her tongue. 'Reim, Remano, Ria Venus, Maader, kids… Reim, Remano, Ria Venus, Maader, kids… Reim, Remano, Ria Venus, Maader, kids… What is it?'

Lina was thinking about the connection, but nothing was coming up as they made their way to Ria Venus Island. The island was quite beautiful, but it was not Lina's cup of tea; too much gambling. After all, she could be lazy and angry but not greedy. That was more of Princess's thing. The island felt off; it was a little too clean. Yes, casinos were everywhere, people were gambling left and right, and there was rare fruit that Lina had seen at the Kou Palace, but it all seemed fake. Finally, the reason she's here… The arena. A place where people can bet higher than in the mainland. The island just screams money. Lina wonders where the funds come from, other than gambling and bets. Wait…

Lina sat up with a straight back and turned to the captain, "Hold up, what does she exactly trade?"

The captain scratched the back of his neck, looking away at the young woman, "...You might not like this kid,"

Lina narrowed her eyes, "Just tell me."

"Mostly goods like clothes and such, but she's primarily known for…" He sighed. "Slaves…"

Lina's eyes widen, "...Fuck."

"Told you wouldn't like it."

Lina is close to a panic attack but closes her eyes and breaths. She counted to a hundred before steeling herself. She has to remind herself she's not a slave or a servant anymore. She is just an attendant to her Empress because she freed Lina; even when she hates Kougyoku, she still lets Lina choose like everyone else because Kougyoku is not her family. Kougyuko promises to help Lina look for her family. Lina knows for a fact that Kougyuko does not break promises. Lina opened her eyes and kept her face blank because she could only do this by not thinking at all.

"This is going to be a disaster."

The ship reached the docks, and Lina walked to the ramp to get off.

The Captain gave Lina a two-finger salute, "Well, this is where I drop you off. See ya, kid."

"Yep! Later, old man!" She saluted back and flipped him off with a laugh.

The man laughed, "Screw you too, kid!" After that, his ship sailed away onto another shipment on a nearby island.

Lina walked into the town, 'I guess I just wander till I see; nope, never mind.' Her eye caught a symbol she was now very familiar with at a fruit stand. Pineapple, what a treat! Lina speed-walked to the stand and hoped to get a few answers about her trial.

The seller saw her and said, "Hello! Here you go!" She then handed her a slice of pineapple on a stick.

Lina was suddenly taken back with a pineapple on a stick in her face. "I didn't ask for one," she said.

"The first one is free to newcomers."

Lina nodded and took the stick, but before she took a bite, she had to ask, "Ah, thanks. Hey, question, who can I talk to about this?" Lina showed the seller her dragon coin as she took a bite of the pineapple. "Yummy!"

The seller's face had five different emotions: happy, scared, worried, sad, hopeful, and back to the fake-happy mask of a seller. "Ah! Yes, I do know where to lead you." The seller pushes some hair behind her ear to show her bracelet with a dragon carved into it. "Mister Alexius has been waiting for you."

Lily, the seller, asked her coworker to take over for a few minutes so she could take and show Lina where Mister Alexius was working. Lily explains to Lina who exactly she is meeting. Mister Alexius, also known as Gailus Alexius, is the younger half-brother of Ignatius Alexius, but due to his status, he is not part of the direct line. Gailus worked hard as a soldier and stayed away so as not to bring shame to his family. Gailus got injured in the field while protecting a household family of the Hunters. One member of that family saw the potential in Gailus, and he went looking for him after being told Gailus had been discharged from the military. Ever since then, Gailus has been with the Hunters.

"Here we are!" They arrived at a building that was a close distance from the arena. Lily explains that this is where fighters and gladiators come to sign up for a fight. "Mister Alexius, I have brought the recruit!"

Mister Alexius has features similar to his brother, with long, wavy blond hair, bushy eyebrows, and a long nose, but he looks younger than his brother, who looks older with his wrinkles.

He looks up at the girls; surprisingly, his green eyes light up when he sees them. "Lily! It's good to see you again! Thank you. Sure, you don't want to stay."

Lily giggled and shook her head, "Nope! I got work to do. Bye!"

Lina raised an eyebrow at Lily's quick escape but kept her true thoughts to herself, "Interesting girl…"

He chuckles under his breath and smirks, "You can say that again. I'm Gailus Alexius, you must be Lina." He stands up and bows.

"Why must I be? But yes, I am. Pleasure." Lina bows back to the man.

The man laughed full-heartedly, "Funny, too! Now let's begin."

Mister Alexius is a tall man who walks with a cane due to an injury on his hip, which gave him a limp. But his disability doesn't stop him from fighting if need be. He can still keep up with the best of them.

They make their way to the arena to start the trial.

"Mister Alexius-"

"Gailus, please. I'm not that old."


"That works, too. Please continue."

"What can I expect with this trial?"

"To be honest, I'm not sure… Each recruit's trial is different, but I know they follow the same theme. What is your theme?"

"Sin… The Seven Deadly Sins, to be exact. I have done Sloth and Wrath. My friend got Greed and Envy."

"Hm, I see. So next will be Pride, Lust, or Gluttony. That is interesting… Not many get the sins. You and your friend might be special."

Lina blushed and laughed, "No, I'm nothing special, just someone trying to survive and live as much as possible."

"There is a saying, 'Those who survive life will live longer but have regrets, while those who live every day like it's their last will never have regrets.' Life is always a risk."

"Who said that?" Lina raised an eyebrow at the older man.

"I did, just now." They laughed, "What I'm saying is… Yes, there are times we must survive, but never forget that life is beautiful, and we must live to the fullest, so we know we didn't take life for granted because that makes life so interesting."

"Thank you."

"You are welcome. Here we are. Welcome to the Ria Venus Island's Colosseum!"

The Colosseum looks to be just as significant as Reim's—maybe more minor, but still as impressive. It's filled with people cheering and booing inside that can be heard all over the island.

"It's pretty packed in here."

"That happens when a fight is going to take place. It can be enjoyable, but sometimes it can be difficult to watch, especially when Lady Maader makes an example." His eyes glass over before he shakes his head as if to get rid of a thought, "Never mind that, follow me." Gailus led Lina to a different entrance that's hidden in plain sight; it's where mostly workers, servants, attendees, and slaves go through to get inside the Colosseum when their masters don't want them to be seen.

Gailus explained to Lina that the trial is somewhat two-part; she will be injected with a potion, with the promise that it's not poison and won't kill her, but it will take time for it to activate. After that, she'll have to participate in the arena. While fighting, she must win by using physical, mental, and emotional strength. The potion will attack her emotionally and mentally, so she must defect her sin before defecting her opponent. Her opponent will be a new hunter who is training under Gailus. Rue, the new hunter, will get images of Lina's sin and try to make Lina forget what is a hallucination and what is real. The trial aims to separate dreams from reality and combine emotion with physicality because there are times when logic and emotion don't always go hand in hand. Lina must learn how to combine them.

"You ready?" Gailus asked both Lina and Rue.

Lina nodded and sat on the table, waiting for the injection.

Rue was a bit more nervous, for this was her first assessment. Closing her eyes and breathing deeply, she nods, ready to begin and help the newcomer.

With the deafening sounds of cheers from the crowd, the two girls stand in the middle. For the public, it's a fight between rivals with unfinished businesses that want to show off. In reality, it's a test not for the faint of heart.

"Ladies and gentlemen! We bring you the sword match sponsored by The Abyss Company. Today's match is a special match that can be seen just once! Please welcome Lina and Rue to the stand!"

"A young woman traveling the seas trying to make a name for herself and settle the score with her rival! Lina! And representing The Abyss Company, an up-and-coming warrior of renowned military service known by Reim! Rue!"

The girls hold their respective weapons: Lina with her bo staff and Rue with her sword and small knives. They wait for the bell. It rings, and they begin their fight. They attack each other quickly, learning their techniques, strengths, and weaknesses. The fight looks brutal, and the crowd cheers for the excitement.

The crowd is cheering with their deafening sound. Lina can barely concentrate on her opponent because it feels like there is another with them. All time had stopped for this one meeting. The Sin has arrived with orange hair, dark skin, and purple glowing eyes, marking all over the body in orange and purple. A dark body suit covers the Sin's assets. Around the neck is a wide choker, and another piece comes down to the middle of the chest shaped like an eye.

"Don't worry. This won't take long. That is… If you understand the meaning of my clue." The sin glides over to Lina.

Lina raises an eyebrow, "Not a fight, I'm guessing."

"Nope. That's what this huntress is here for."

"Which one are you?"

"Gluttony, consuming an unhealthy excess or amount, but never mind that. Here is your clue: follow your king, learn as much as possible, but be overindulgent; you will not go far. Knowledge is power, but it can cost a price. Endless freedom is a distance away. It's at your fingertips."

Lina has to think about it because it is obvious it's not about food, which is most associated with gluttony, but Gluttony is mainly talking about knowledge, power, and freedom. The test is about how much knowledge will be too much, and it can overpower Lina and keep her from her original goal. It's a warning before it gets too bad or far, and she would be too late to save her home and family. But if she can gather her knowledge modernly, she will know how to get home, be free, and have endless freedom with her family at home. It's about control, self-restraint, and taking in the knowledge in moderation.

Once it clicks in Lina's head, the Sin smiles; the orange lines turn purple, and the hair gets short. Gluttony turns into Abstinence.

"Congrats. Sorry this wasn't as exciting as the rest of the Sins, but you have a fight to finish. Don't be easy on her. She can use a challenge."

"Thank you."

"Good luck. You and the Empress are almost there." Abstinence was left in a swirl of purple mist.

Lina is back in the fight, stops playing around, and gets serious in a quick movement. She twirls her bo staff in many serials and lands two hits on Rue, one close to the head and the other on her side, which has Rue on her knees but has to move and get back on her feet. Lina doesn't give Rue the chance to attack, only dodge and parry. Rue lets her guard down for a second, allowing Lina to kick Rue in the stomach and send her flying. Lina jumps after her at a fantastic speed, ready to impale Rue to the ground. Rue jumps out of the way to create distance between them. Rue knows she's at her limit and has only one trick left up her sleeve. She gets started and waits to create an opening. Lina smirked, knowing what was to come, but she also knew how to get the upper hand. Lina breaks her bo staff into two and throws one half at Rue. Rue is surprised at the turn of events and blocks the broken staff coming her way. Lina runs towards her, throwing the other, which is also blocked, but Lina gets into Rue's space using her arm guard to block the sword, throws Rue over her shoulder, and steals her sword simultaneously.

"Wow, nice sword."

"Eh?!" The crowd shouted at the display below them.

On the sidelines was Gailus chuckling in disbelief as the audacity Lina had just shown, "Sword-stealing? Ha! You don't see that every day! Good work, soldier!"

"Give it back?" Rue asks in shock, her hand stretching out for her sword.

"I declare defeat."

From there, Rue admits defeat, and Lina stands tall and holds the sword in the air. The crowd goes wild for the fight. In the shadows, a few kids can be seen watching the fight. The kids have chains on their necks and ankles. They are slaves to Lady Maader, and they don't honestly know that being covered in chains is wrong and the woman they call mother is a monster in disgust, but a little boy with heavy chains and weight balls on his throat, wrist, and ankles watches the fight with more attention than he usually gives, but the lady, Lina leaves an impression on him. He wants to fight her too.

Kougyoku lay on the table, waiting for the potion to activate. Her mind and heart were racing, and she couldn't focus on Gemma's words, but it was the same as before.

"You will be injected with this potion. Once it activates, it will feel odd. For every recruit, it's a different experience, but the beginning is the same. It's a dream walk. It's like sleeping with your eyes open, but instead of walking through Reim, you will walk in your trial with your sin. Remember, the trial's goal is to separate dreams from reality and combine emotion with physicality because there are times when logic and emotion don't always go hand in hand. You must learn how to combine them."

Gemma looks at Gyoku, and her eyes start to gloss over. "Good luck." Gemma disappears.

Gyoku looked around the area but couldn't find anyone. That was when she realized the potion had already been activated, and she was now in the dream walk.

The room changed from a medical standard room to a white room with no doors. Gyoku got up from the table to look around. She turned once more, but the table was now missing.

"Please come back to me."

Kougyoku tilted her head. She thought she heard something, "Huh? Hello? Is someone here?"

"Find me, please." She heard the voice a little more transparent now, but it seemed familiar.

"Which sin are you?" Kougyoku called out.

"Princess…" She turned around and saw someone who wasn't supposed to be there. He's on his way to the North.



She turned again and stepped back away from who was before her. "You are not Sinbad-sama. What's going on?"

"Intellange and kind." A teen showed up, but he wasn't supposed to be there.


"Strong with the biggest heart." Neither should he.

"Aladdin," Kougyoku had to step away. She couldn't believe what was happening. You are not real. None of you are real." Kougyoku was now being circled in by the men in her life who were not her brothers but the ones she held love for. She closed her eyes and wanted to cover her ears, wanting this to stop, but someone held her hand to stop her.

"Old hag."

Her eyes snapped open. "Judar. Stop, please stop."

"Powerful Empress the world has ever seen."

"Koubun Ka. This does not make sense." Kougyoku looked at each man to see which was the sin or if they would give a clue to what was happening. "Wait…" She put her fist to her chin, thinking the trials through. "Seven Deadly Sins… So far, Greed, Sloth, Envy, and Wrath. Gluttony, Lust, and Pride are left. Sinbad, Alibaba, Aladdin, Jadur, Koubun Ka, you are not real… But why do I see you all?" She was still trying to figure out which sin she was facing and hadn't noticed: the shadow behind her or the room had changed again.

Instead of a medical standard room or a white room with no doors, the room is now pink. It was in a way that was not overpowering and faded into another color, mixed with purple and red. With a big bed, hot tub, closet, tables and candles. In the center of the room is a stand with a couch and chair near it.

"You are correct. They are not real, but your feelings for them are."

Her eyes snapped open, looking at the woman who was wearing barely any clothes, "Lust! You are Lust."

"Ding! Ding! Ding! Give the beauty a prize! Correct! I'm Lust, considering others as objects of sexual desire. And my, my, my! Wouldn't I love to go a round with you!" Lust was pink but had hints of gray, purple, and red on her figure. She had pink hair, jewelry, and makeup, but her skin was gray. Her clothes were a tiny pink dress with a purple and blue robe on top, but it was slipping off her shoulders.

"What?" Kougyoku is bewildered by how shameless she is, but then again, it's Lust.

Lust gave the princess a slow once over but sat on the comfortable chair. "Come now, I can feel your desires. Granted, they've been pointed to this man, but it seems maybe not." Lust pointed to Sinbad.

Kougyoku glared at Lust and the older Sinbad, "I know what I feel for him, and that's the result of his actions and words."

Lust shrugged in agreement, "I understand, but lust is more than that. But for today, we'll keep it simple."

Kougyoku's eyes started to twitch, "You are very confusing."

"Good, maybe you'll learn something from me."

"Fine, but what does Sinbad have to do with this?"

"Everything. He is your past, present, and future. And you are his. Your paths intertwined in a way that only shows once every thousand years." Lust looked at her long nails and pulled a nail filler from the air.

"What does that even mean?"

Lust sighed. She dropped the filler and got up to move closer to the royal. "No matter the time, place, or distance, you two created something so strong that not even death can separate."

Kougyoku turned to look at Sinbad, both past and future. "How is that possible? With Sinbad-sama, he wants nothing to do with me unless we meet up for our roles as leaders, and young Sinbad, I only met him once. Yes, we travel together for a few hours, but how can that be enough?"

"Even if it were a few seconds, a slight glide of the hand, a quick glance in the eye. That would still have been enough. Sinbad, present or future, will always need you for something."

"Thank you for that." Kougyoku said with a deadpan expression, "What does this have to do with lust?"

"Mm, nothing," Lust smirked. She's having fun riling up the Empress, "It's just information you will need later in your journey."

Gyoku throws her hands in the air, frustrated, "You're accommodating with giving nothing."

"And you are ignorant for not listening." Lust throws right back.

Gyoku sighed, ready for this to be over, "What's the test?"

"I told you, use the information that has been handed to you."

"What information?" She asked, "So far, I've seen Sinbad-sama and young Sinbad, Alibaba-chan, Aladdin, Judar, Kiubun Ka, and you! And! All you told me is I have a connection with Sinbad."

"Yes. Why do you think it was these men? What do they mean to you?" Lust really wanted the future Hunterness to think about it, but it looks like she'll need help.

"I don't know…"

"Yes, you do," Lust pointed to the men standing in the room, "or they would not have shown up. You have feelings for them."

"I don't feel lust for any of them!" Kougyoku blushed and shouted.

"Sweetheart, I'm a part of you and the Sin of Lust. Believe me, you have felt it at least once."

The royal was now red, confessing, "Maybe for Sinbad-sama, but not really for the rest."

The sin stretched and fixed her robe, tightening it up before grabbing the redette and sitting her down on the cozy chair, "Let's try it this way." Lust snapped her fingers, and another chair appeared. She sat in front of Gyoku and explained, "Do you know there are six types of love? And before you say anything, love, and lust are two sides of the same coin. Lust is desire, sensuality, passion, erotic, amoros, longing, sensual, and many more. But you have to remember so is love. Love comes in many different forms. For example, Eros, my favorite, is a primal love that comes as a natural instinct for most people. It's a passionate display of the desire for another person's physical body or romantic."

"In other words, lust." Kougyoku rolled her eyes but was starting to understand.

"Eh, to a degree," Lust shrugged. "Moving on. Storge is a naturally occurring love rooted in parents and children. As well as best friends. It's an infinite love built upon acceptance and deep emotional connection. It comes easily and immediately in parent-child relationships."

"I don't remember my parents that well."

"It doesn't have to be blood-related."

"Oh. Ohh. Wait, what about my brothers?" She asked.

Lust smiled at her because she slowly understood the point, "That would be sibling love, which is philia. It's love without romantic attraction and occurs between friends or family members. It occurs when both people share the same values and respect each other—it's commonly referred to as brotherly love. More than one person can fall into these, but we're sticking with nonblood-related love."

"Okay. What if you don't feel desire or familiarity?"

"Good question. That would be Xenia. It's hospitality, meaning guest friendship. It's associated with hospitality, generosity, and the courtesy of having someone from far away come to your house. In a way, it's love for strangers or acquaintances."

"Makes sense." Kougyoku nodded.

"Next is philautia, a healthy form of love in which you recognize your self-worth and don't ignore your personal needs. Self-love begins with acknowledging your responsibility for your well-being. It's challenging to exemplify the outbound types of love because you can't offer what you don't have." Lust gave Kougyoku a secret smile and continued on, "Finally, the last form of love I will tell you is agape. Agape is the highest level of love to offer. It's given without any expectations of receiving anything in return. Offering Agape is a decision to spread love in any circumstances, including destructive situations. Agape is not a physical act; it's a feeling, an act of self-love. You can also feel this for another person as well."

"Are there more types of love?" Kougyoku asked, wanting to know more.

Lust nods with a full-on grin, "Of course there are. But these are the most prominent for you. Let's play a game of which one of your boys fits into which type."

"I have no choice, do I?"

"Nope." Lust's grins stayed in place. She made their chairs into a single couch and had the men stand in a line in front of them with the stand also in place. "At least it's fun. Now, when you think of eros, who comes to mind?"


"Don't think about it. Just say the first person that comes to mind." Lust wanted her to spit it out, not think about it. Like ripping off a bandage. So they can get the show on the road with their back and forth.


"Good. What about storge?"

"Koubun Ka."

"Who received your philia?"


"Interesting. Who is your acquaintance? Your xenia?"


"You sound sad about that. Why?" Lust asked.

Kougyoku sighed and hugged herself, "I want to know him better. I want to understand the stories Alibaba-chan and my brothers tell me about him."

"Admitting it is a good first step to learning about love and how it can change over time," Lust advised and moved on. "Philautia?"


"Hmm. I guess that would make sense. And finally, agape. Now, think about it. Obviously, it's yourself, but does anyone come to mind?"

"Sinbad, the younger one. Why?" She asked the sin.

"Like I told you. The two of you are connected in a way that the fates themselves decide and put into light."

"For someone whose embodiment is lust, you sure are a romantic." Gyoku raised an eyebrow.

"Two sides of the same coin, darling. You already have chastity. I have always been Chastity, but you were brought here to learn there is more than one path in love, lust, and life. Also, it doesn't hurt to be flirty once in a while. Be free while you are here, and don't hide your true self anymore. But then again, you'll have everyone falling at your feet." Chastity said as her figure changed a little. Her pink hair turns purple, and her skin looks a lot healthier with a tan. She was still wearing the robe that was slipping.

"It was good, then downhill it went." Kougyoku glared at Chastity.

"You have to take the bad with the good, Sweetheart." Chastity winked at her.

"I thought this trail was about separating dreams from reality, combining emotion with physicality, and learning how to combine logic and emotion."

"And you think the different types of love aren't?" She asked.

"Huh. I guess that would."

"Every trail is different for each hunter. They gave you the baseline, but in the end, this is about you as a person. You passed, but remember you still have much to learn, and Pride will make you see that."

"Thank you," Kougyoku honestly tells Chastity with a bow, "For teaching me."

Chastity bows back with a smirk, "No prob. Tell your boys I say hi."


Kougyoku closed her eyes and was back in the medical standard room, lying on the table. She got up and stretched.

Gemma was still there waiting for Kougyoku to wake up, "Welcome back to the living. Good trip?"

"My head hurts." She held her head, and Gemma grabbed a pill and water for her. "Thank you, and yes, I learned a lot."

Once Gemma finishes checking her over, she lets her go to explore. Kougyoku walks out of the room to wander around the Colosseum to find somewhere to eat. A little boy runs past her into another room. Kougyoku is curious and follows him, but the boy is nowhere to be found inside.

"Hello?" Kougyoku called out. "Sorry for intruding, but I just need help."

A voice near a widow spoke, but it wasn't male but rather a soft female voice that held power, "We all need help no matter what."

She walked further into the room and gasped, "Scheherazade-sama…"

"You know who I am. That's good."

Scheherazade is an old magi with more than 200 years of experience. She has the appearance of a young female of a short stature. She has big, bright, blue eyes that are usually closed and only open when she wants to put emphasis on something or when things go wrong. She has long blonde, wavy hair with two braids in the back that reach down to her ankles with a laurel wreath of grapes and vines around the left and right side of her head. Her attire consists of a long white robe that looks similar to a stola, with loose short sleeves over her shoulders that are secured by a round fibula and a long pink ribbon tied under her bust. It's usually not seen, but underneath her long robe, she is depicted barefoot. Scheherazade's wand resembles a trident. It is longer than her body and shaped like a crescent moon pointing upwards. The center is a spherical red gem, and the tip extends through the gem.

"So you're the one who has been changing." Scheherazade turned to face the Empress.

"I-I. I'm sorry." Kougyoku was very out of place. She only occasionally spoke to Titus, but facing Scheherazade was a bit intimidating.

Scheherazade smiled at the royal like she knew exactly what was going on, and she did. "Don't be. It's been a while since I felt a soul like yours. The changes you have made might help the world become a better place." Scheherazade studied the young woman in front of her. A princess to some but an Empress in truth. Scheherazade can see that the young royal is troubled by her and looks closer. "I take it you don't have a high opinion of me."

Kougyoku's eyes widened, and she shook her head. "It's not that. It's just… future stuff."

Scheherazade giggles a little and nods, understanding the future is a tricky topic, "Well, luckily, I can see your old future and the new one you are making."

"I'm literally making a change?" She states it as a question.

"Yes." Scheherazade nodded, "Don't be disheartened. Just keep true to what you are doing."

"Thank you." Kougyoku bows to the magi. Grateful for getting an answer she didn't even know she needed. "That makes me feel better."

"You're welcome, Your Majesty." Scheherazade bows back.

Kougyoku waves off the title with a blush, "That title doesn't belong to me here."

"No, but it still stays true. After all, you and your friend will be going to my dungeon next. I wanted to meet the King who will conquer it." Scheherazade smiles at the surprised expression on the Empress's face and quickly stops Kougyoku's train of thought that she is not worthy. "And don't say you are no one special. Because the changes you made are from someone special and worthy to be one of my Kings."

"Thank you, Scheherazade-sama."

Scheherazade walked up to Kougyoku and lifted her chin to lock eyes with her to show how serious she was, "Pride will help you. Through that door, it will take you where you need to go. May we see each other again." Scheherazade waved her wand at the mirror that turned into a door and smiled at her chosen King.

"I hope to see you again, Scheherazade-sama." Kougyoku bowed, touched the door's handle, and walked through, but not before she heard Scheherazade say one last thing.

"Goodbye Empress Kougyoku." Scheherazade went back to the window to look at her city, and Muu popped his head up from the table with food.

"Who was that pretty lady?" he asked.

Scheherazade smiles at the young teen and waves him over, "Someone special, and I believe you two will meet soon."

Muu perks up, excited to see the pretty woman again, "Can't wait. She looks strong."

"Indeed, she is." Scheherazade places a coin in his hand. "Keep this on you. One day, you will need it."

Muu closed his hand and kneeled to her, his fist at her heart. "Yes, Scheherazade-sama."

"Don't be so serious. Smile."

"Yes, my lady." Muu smiles brightly for her.

"Thank you." Scheherazade pets his head, and they walk to the food to eat. Scheherazade can't wait because the next few months and the upcoming year are going to be interesting.

Kougyoku walked around the long hallway and spotted green hair and brown clothes. She gasped and ran towards her friend.

"Lina, it's been so long!"

"Princess, it's only been a week." Lina hugged her back while laughing.

"Still…" The royal pouted a little before grinning.

Lina rolled her eyes, "I missed you too." Kougyoku gave a happy clap.

"Yeah, yeah." Lina smiled because she missed the crazy princess, "So, do you know where we are?"

Kougyoku nodded and led them down the hallway, "Scheherazade-sama said she raised a dungeon around here and was waiting for a potential hunter to claim it."

"It's a hallway…" Lina shakes her head. Magi and magic are above her paygrade, "So you?"

"I don't know; it could be you." She shrugged and continued to follow her instincts about where to go.

Lina scruffed, "Please, I would be better off as a household member than a king. Plus, you already have one, so… Why not another?"

"We shall see."

They walked quietly for a little bit, but then they got to talk.

"So, what's the story behind the dungeon, anyway?" Lina asked because they had been to two dungeons and doubted they would stop anytime soon.

"My brothers told me bits and pieces, and Judal wasn't good at explaining what comes naturally to him, but the Magi and the dungeon are connected. They are from another world…" Kougyoku explains what she knows so far from her own knowledge, her brothers' and Vinea had told her. It took a while to explain it all, but Lina understood the basics of it all.

"Where is this dungeon?" Lina groaned as they walked for what felt like an hour or so, "I thought something so big would be easy to find. But we're stuck in this maze!"

"Magic isn't always so easy. Sometimes, you just have to look around to find it. She did say Pride will help, so..."

Lina facepalmed, "Great, another trial!"

"Speaking of which, how did yours go?"

Lina stopped her mumbles of murder and scratched her cheek, trying to remember, "Well…" Lina told Kougyoku about her trial, the hunters, Maader, her island, and the slave kids she saw. "Afterward, when I was done and brought in for a check-up, I saw a little boy following me. He was a Fanalis that was familiar, but I don't know who he was just yet."

"Hmm, a male Fanalis… Reim will have their corps, so maybe one of them."


Before Kougyoku could tell Lina about her trail, there was a sound behind them. They turned around and saw shadow-like creatures coming towards them. They split-second look at each other and run like hell.

"What the hell?! Where did these things come from?!"


"Door! Door! Door!"

They ran into the door, closed it tightly behind them, and moved back from it in case they had to fight. They waited with weapons in hand, but after a few minutes, they relaxed.

"Thank Rukh!" They breathed in relief because their strength wasn't back to 100%, they hadn't had food in a while or slept, and Kougyoku didn't feel strong enough to use Vinea's power.

Lina heard her stomach growl, reminding her it had been a few hours since she had eaten. After her trial, she got a checkup and some food, but she gave the rest to the little Fanalis boy who was following her before she disappeared into a strange hallway and found the Princess. She took a deep breath and looked up and saw a sight that had conflicting emotions of relief and dread.

"Um, I think I found the dungeon."

The dungeon is a tall arch that looks to be held up by warriors and dragons, one on each side. Below the arch is a small building with a tall door that's the entrance to the dungeon.

"Whoa. That's pretty." Kougyoku looks at the dungeon in awe, the same way she looked at Vinea's when she first saw it.

"Yeah, let's go get your djinn." Lina put her spear on her back and pointed to the path leading to the dungeon, "There's the pathway."

Kougyoku nodded, sheathed her swords, and said, "If they pick me." She lightly touched her hairpin, holding Vinea, which glowed beneath her hand.

"They will."

"I love your confidence in me." Kougyoku giggled at her companion.

"Someone has to," Lina smirked back.

They walked through the door/gate and fell into a river. As in every dungeon before, the inside is significantly bigger than the outside. The river leads into a cave, but the girls have to get out quickly for the water monsters that are trying to kill them. The cave brought them into an underground city filled with many trails with flying creatures in every direction.

"I hate dungeons," Lina whispers to Gyoku, "Can we please stop going into them?"

"I doubt it." Gyoku gave her an apology smile.

"Aw." Lina hits her head on the rock, but it makes them slip, and they have to run again. They went down the path that led straight into a gate. That coved each back as the creatures started coming in every direction. They left the underground city and moved into another city, but one that's familiar. The city is the same as the other dungeons, meaning they are close to the treasure room. They ran, hoping not to run into any more monsters of the dungeons. They stop to catch their breath.

"Oh, another gate." Lina pointed to the gate in front of them.

"Come on." They reach the gate, and Kougyoku has to stop Lina from opening the door, "Wait, there's writing on it."

"What does it say, Princess?"

She lightly touches the script that's in Tran. "To go through, release all pride, and be humble to pass."

"Another test?"

"Looks like it." Gyoku nodded.

"How does one release pride?" Lina asked.

"Hmm." Gyoku had to think about it. It wasn't as straightforward as the other dungeons. Her leg brushes, her swords attached to her back and legs. Gyoku stops in place and pulls off all her weapons in a second.

Lina sees this and tries to stop her. "Please don't," she says when Kougyoku tries to give Lina her prized possession, her pride, her hairpin that holds Vinea.

"We won't know until we try." Kougyoku places Vinea gently in Lina's hand, "Worse comes to worst; we have each other to protect our backs." She stares into Lina's eyes to show that she trusts her to take care of Vinea.

Lina stared back, looked down at her hand, and sighed, "Fine." Finally, Lina nods in agreement.

Kougyoku nodded back. She stepped away and got closer to the gate with a deep breath. She whispered Open to the door, and it opened for her, "It worked. The treasure room." They ran in as the door closed behind them. Lina gives back Kougyoku her hairpin and weapons.

She looks around, but a question sits on her tongue, "Wait, what exactly was the trial?"

"Good question. To release all pride would be ridiculous." A woman appeared with long black hair, gold-green eyes, long pointy ears, and a dragon tattoo on her whole right arm, wrist to shoulder. She was wearing a simple white dress with pink scales on the top.

"Are you Pride?" Kougyoku asked.

She nodded, "I am, but I am also Humility." She bows to the girls, and they bow back.

"Pleasure to meet you." Thye raise from their bows.

"That's more of a Lust thing." Pride smirks at her joke.

Lina respectfully rolls her eyes in a good-natured, "Funny." As Kougyoku tried to cover up a giggle.

"I am your final trial, and this djinn will judge you as both King and Household member." Pride explains, "Sheila! Come meet our guest." she calls out, and in the center of the treasure room, the djinn showed up in smoke and a bright light.

Sheila is a female djinn but doesn't look like other djinns. All the djinns Kougyoku had seen had blue bodies, and their clothes, hair, jewelry, or accessories were a different color. This djinn did have blue skin, but it was toned down where it was like makeup or tattoos. Her hair is blonde with brown tips that reach down to her hips. She's wearing a white, gold, and red dress that makes Kougyoku blush for how revealing it is. The top only covers the breast in a criss-cross fashion, and the skirt has long slits for both legs on the sides.

"Who shall be King? Apologies. We have to say that every time someone proves themself."

"But we hav-" Kougyoku tried to deny that haven't done that much to prove themselves.

Sheila cuts off the princess because she knows the truth, "Yes, you did in your trials. And I know who my King will be. I am Sheila Djinn of Life and Illumaution."

"An honor to meet you." Kuogyoku smiles at the beautiful djinn and bows to her.

"It is mine, Empress Kougyoku and Lina of Xue Rue."

"How do you…" Lina stares in shock at the djinn who knows where she's from.

Sheila smiles at the young woman in front of her and explains, "Magic mixed with hunters and my own can let me see paths that could, would, and will be."

"Can you see us returning to our timeline?" Kougyoku asked.

"Yes and no. Sorry for sounding cryptic, but the choices you make will reveal which path you'll take."

"That plus needing Judar as well." Lina sighed.

Kuogyoku nodded and had to think where he was now, "I believe he's a child right now and with… Oh no."

"I don't want to know."


"I just said… I forget about them."

"Maybe we can stop them before everything pops off." Kougyoku was surprised by her train of thought and agreed with it because they were here to make a change.

"Princess, in case you're forgetting, there are only two of us." Lina believes in her princess, but it's a big change, and she doesn't know if just the two of them can do it.

"Yes, and we had already changed the past by just being here. And Sheila-sama wasn't claimed last time."

"I thought you said Scheherazade-sama raised this tower."

Sheila nodded and was pleased that her King was going to continue to make changes, "She did, and she picked up because she saw what I saw."

"Past, present, and future," Kougyoku said, understanding what that means now.

"Yes, what could, would, and will be. The paths of life." Sheila nodded and held out her hands, showing the paths.

Pride watches them interact with a smile filled with pride because the girls are growing and understanding. She pulls out two pouches from the air, "Before you go, keep these on you."

"What are they?" The girls asked and opened up the pouches, which revealed…

"They look like… Eggs?" Lina asked, holding the green and brown egg. Kougyoku has a red and blue egg.

"The tattoos are more than a statement. Each hunter has one, but no one hasn't woken up yet." Humility said.

"And you believe one of us will?" Kougyoku asked.

"I believe both of you will. You two are kind and humble and have grown so much. You are hunters, and you will continue the traditions of a hunter for generations to come." Pride has faith that these girls will continue the traditions of a hunter because, in their time, it had died out, but now they have a chance to save their way of life.

Sheila goes through the treasure and pulls out a small bag, "Here, take this bag for the treasure. It's bigger on the inside."

"Sweet." Lina grabs the bag and starts filling it with money, books, and clothes.

"Don't be greedy." Kougyoku jokingly tells Lina and hands her a few items to put in the bag.

"That's your thing." Lina's side-eye glares at the Empress.


Humility laughed and brought attention back, "Good luck, girls. I believe in you and want you both to believe in each other and yourself."

"Thank you, Pride, um, Humility."

"Either will do. We'll meet again." Pride/Humility waves at them and disappears in the light.

Sheila smiles and turns to her King, "My King, do you have a vessel?"

"I don't. Wait, no, I do." Kougyoku takes off her necklace that was given to her by Sinbad, "My necklace."

Lina looks at it and remembers where it came from. "Isn't that?"

Gyoku nodded, "Yes, but when the time comes, I can always change it if he wants it back." She stares at the necklace with a gentle look and remembers Esra-san, and now she'll be part of their journey.

"Good choice." Sheila touches the necklace, and the symbol appears on the red gem. After that, she makes a portal to leave the dungeon and waves them in, "Best get in, then. I'm going to return you where it all started."

"What does that mean?" Lina asked.

They were lifted out of the dungeon before the djinn explained what she met. It was a quick trip, and they landed roughly on the ground.

Kougyoku got up and rubbed her back, "Ugh. My back. Where are we now?" She looks around and sees a harbor. A harbor that they haven't seen in a month or two, "We're back in Contantia Harbor."

"What?" Lina got up quickly and ignored her dizzy spell to see the harbor, "How did we go from Reim to Contantia Harbor?"

"Magic?" Kougyoku shrugged.

"Whatever." Lina shook her head, but it snapped in a second, and groaned, "Oh no, I'm going to have to face that stupid man again."

Gyoku laughed at Lina's expression and pushed her to start walking, "Come on, let's get this over with."

As they walked the harbor, it looked like nothing had changed. They arrived back at the store where everything started, and the same older gentleman was there and greeted them.

"My ladies. Welcome, Lady Ash awaits you."

"Thank you." They said and walked into the back room where only Ash was waiting in her black belly dancer outfit.

Ash looked up from her cards and smirked, "Welcome back. Now, let's really begin." She picks up a single card and twirls it on the tip of her finger.

Kougyoku and Lina looked at one another and nodded, ready to start their beginning as Hunters.