Luka was standing in front of Reaper in Hades. After the latest incident, the opportunity to restart the advenure anew was getting more and more tempting. Maybe next time, he could weigh more on the game between gods...
The avatar of death started talking in a monotone voice.
"You will keep your current powers and start at the beginning of the adventure. Your companions will retain their power and join you in the next world. However, you should remove anything valuable from Alice. She will not necessarily be your companion in the next life. Are you prepared to begin anew?"
Luka mumbled his answer. "Yes."
"I'll ask you one more time. Do you truly wish to be reborn and start anew?"
"Very well… Then go."
"Where Am I?"
Luka looked around, wondering how he got in this strange place surrounded by soft light. The atmosphere felt solemn. He heard a voice calling for him.
"Luka… Hero Luka…"
She sounded gentle, full of affection. But he couldn't see its source.
Suddenly, Ilias appeared in front of a surprised Luka. He couldn't believe it.
"Are you really the creator of the world?"
"Luka… a crisis is approaching the world, if you don't stop it, the world ■■be swallowed ■■■…
"…huh ? What happened to you Ilias?"
This whole situation fell too familiar.
"With my last bit of power, ■■■to your dreams… There's no ■■■■■■■ time…
"Ilias, I don't really understand what you're saying…"
"Go immediately ■■■■■■■ out ■■■ … The world ■■■■ forget ■■■■■■■ …
"Forget? The world what? What are you trying to tell me…"
"This ■rld■■■■■ … Lu ■ … ■■■■■■■■…"
"Please wait Ilias! Don't go!"
This definitively felt too familiar.
"A dream…? "
Luka hazily got up, troubled by what happened. While he was disturbed by the vision he received from Ilias, he also had a sensation of déjà vu that he couldn't get rid of.
As soon as he stepped down, he could hear some commotion from outside.
"There's trouble! Hans the lumberjack has been abducted!"
Suddenly, Luka's memories flooded back. He remembered his adventures, what happened on the roads, his companions, the latest series of shameful events before he left in a hurry… And, more importantly, his real motivation. He would have to recruit Ilias and try to learn from her and from the seraphs how the angel world was.
He checked his equipment. He had his heavily customized sword and Excalibur, a legendary weapon he had found in the Labyrinth of Chaos. He was still wearing his legendary helmet and armor, as well as a glove that allowed to dual wield two weapons.
He sighed. Although he was now powerful and geared heavily, he would still have to act as if he was on his first adventure. Following mostly the path he used to would be the best way to get sure chaos doesn't spread faster.
He stepped out of his home to see his village thrown into chaos in an all too familiar scene. His aunt Betty called out to him.
"Luka! Get back in! The guards will handle it!"
"Don't worry. I'll be fine."
Something in his tone and his body language terrified the woman, as if he had suddenly changed overnight. She was no longer scared for Luka, but for the slimes that would get in his way.
She barely mumbled. "Be careful."
Luka smiled and stepped out of the village. This quest was the first of a long list of heroic deeds that would forge his legend. Once outside, he took a break to consider what would happen next. Feelings mixed in his stomach as he realized he had to do everything all over again. On the other end, he felt like he could actually make a difference this time, and he was surrounded by a loyal army of friends. His thoughts wandered to the likes of Morrigan, Mephisto and Spider Princess. Yes, "friends". He started once again to step toward Iliasville's hills.
As Saki said, time to get the show on the road.
Limy was looking troubled. A bit earlier, she saw Bunny, one of the pink slime, carrying a human up the mountain to join the bad slimes usually hanging there. She was cackling evilly all the way up while saying her plan was foolproof. Why did she do that? It only hurt the relations between slimes and humans. If she needed a human friend that much, Limy was sure Bunny just had to ask the inhabitants and one would eventually accept. But instead, she had chosen to attack one. Limy was sure Bunny was going to be punished by the humans who were going to come to save their friend.
A boy from Ilias Village appeared from down the road. He was slowly making his way up the hill. Was he scared by the monsters he was seeing? They were not bad slimes. As he got closer, she noticed he was looking unusual for a resident of the village down there. He looked like he was looking weary, as if he was used to fighting. Most soldiers in the region were weak, and fighting almost never happened, was he coming from abroad? As he kept progressing, she recognized Luka, a young man that frequently visited the area. This time, however, he was looking… changed… She eventually noticed his equipment seemed very powerful. Something had definitely happened to him.
Slightly afraid, she still decided to welcome the apprentice hero.
"Greetings, we're not bad slimes! Bunny took your friend up the hill! Be careful, there are bad slimes up there!"
The hero hadn't even slowed down his pace as he kept climbing. "I know." She shivered in fear when he answered. An unconscious part of her wanted to jump him as he smelled delicious, but, deep down, her survival instinct told her that would be the last action she would be able to take in her life if she tried. She wisely decided to let him be on his way.
Luka was slowly making his way up the mountain. He was in no hurry, as he knew Hans was not running any actual risk. At least, this time, no slime was interrupting his ascent. He looked around him, and saw that all of them were too afraid to get anywhere closer. Good, that'd be one less issue, and one less chance to screw everything up by killing someone.
He looked high in the sky and noticed a twinkle shooting in his overall direction. Great, right on time… The twinkle was getting bigger as it got closer. After a while, he saw it disappearing near the top of the hill. Right afterwards, a loud crash shook the earth.
He made his way to the impact site, and as he got closer, he saw a small, blond angel unconscious lying at the bottom of the crater. She was wearing a simple yet quite ornate (and slightly revealing) dress. Eventually, she opened her eyes to see the hero bent over her, holding out his hand.
She scowled. "Who do you think you are, to speak my name without proper deference, I shall smite-"
"I am Luka, the Second Seraph Lucifina's son."
Ilias looked in disbelief at the hero in front of her, checking him thoroughly in the process. There was no doubt that it was the Fallen Angel's descendant. And the hero who did beat her, supported by that whore who descended from the Dark Goddess herself.
"In that case, I shall personally smite you for all the evil you've done!" A small spark came out of her finger and hit the hero in the chest."
Luka barely reacted at the small shock. His expression hadn't changed one bit.
"What? You should have been reduced to a pile of ash! What's happening to me!" She proceeded to spawn a small mirror in her hand. "I'm tiny?! Is it another of Promestein's trick? Is it the Dark Goddess's fault? I- I-, I am vulnerable down there!"
She started running down, crying sporadically.
Luka shrugged at the aftermath. Nothing had changed this time. Eventually, he reached the top of the hill. Hans, the lumberjack, was on the ground, behind Bunny and two blue slimes that had decided to support her.
"Mwahahaha!, I captured a human!"
"Let him go!"
She threw her head back and started laughing at the sky. "Mwahahaha! Maybe! first, you must-"
A deafening shockwave passed right by her head before passing through a tree. A few seconds afterward, the higher part of the tree slid down and fell, cut cleanly from its base. The two other slimes ran away, crying and babbling in terror. The hero stepped a bit closer and placed his face less than an inch away from hers.
"Let. Him. Go."
The slime slowly nodded. As soon as Luka had passed her, she started bolting down the hill in sheer terror. Hans was laying wide eyed on the ground.
"Sweet Ilias! Luka! How did you get that powerful?!"
Luka nonchalantly got the lumberjack up. "Training."
"You sure are strong! I will go back to Ilias Village. I'll be fine, don't worry about me."
The lumberjack started running downhill, carefully avoiding on his way the numerous slimes that tried to grope him. Luka started following in his footsteps, but took his time.
On his way down, he heard the sound of screaming and pummeling. The bunny slime that had captured Hans was getting beaten by a small lamia who had light blue skin, a red tail and white hair.
"-stupid, annoying, trashy rabbit! Now even my knights don't support me! I will rip you apart with my bare hands until you turn me back to normal!" She punctuated each sentence with a strike on the poor slime who kept being tossed around.
Luka sighed at the situation. "Alice, let her go, she's not the White Rabbit." He muttered under his breath. "She's nowhere as annoying as the real one."
Upon hearing this, the small Monster Lord instantly stopped her assault. "Not the-, you're right, she looks nothing like her." She felt silent for a few seconds before her eyes suddenly widened. "Wait, how do you know my name? And how do you know I am the Monster Lord?!"
Luka kept walking as he answered without turning back. "Books."
"Books?!" Alice balled her fist in anger. "Do you think I am that stupid?! Who are you?!"
"Just a traveler."
Alice recoiled, and then tried lunging at the hero like a loaded spring. Luka dodged her, letting her tumble on the floor. As he offered his hand to help her get up, she coiled around him, but he managed to break free without difficulties.
"Sorry, but I don't have time for you Alice." He held out a handful of sweets out. "You can have those if you want."
"Candy!" Alice accepted the gift with starry eyes before she shook her head. "Wait!" The hero had started to move faster thanks to a magical ability, leaving the confused lamia behind.
"Was that the power of Sylph?" She started sniffing around in confusion. "It doesn't matter. I will find you soon enough."
After a few minutes, Luka was back at Ilias Village, where thee inhabitants were already back to dealing with their daily lives of farming and working. He was making his way to the temple where he could see a familiar, angry face walking briskly toward him. He sighed inwardly.
"Luka, you are late for your baptism! Did you forget it again?"
"Who are you already?"
Sonya jumped, surprised. "Huh, are you alright Luka? I'm Sonya, you're childhood friend and-." She shook her head as the hero started smiling creepily. "Stop messing around!" She tried swatting Luka's head, but the latter dodged the attack. The duo entered the temple, which birthed a strange sensation in Luka's chest. When he was younger, he remembered always being impressed and trying to enter the temple at every other occasion just to appreciate the fine art and its grand representations of Ilias. Right now however, he was feeling indifferent as he kept coming back there each time him or one of his companion changed job. At first, it was reassuring to see his home and the temple solidly standing in these troubled times, but it lost its luster after the twentieth-something time. Luka and Sonya eventually made their way to the center of the temple of Ilias, in front of the priest.
"Hello Luka, I heard why you were going to be late to your baptism. Don't worry, I'm sure Ilias would have approved saving someone."
Luka silently bowed down if front of the duo. Sonya solemnly handed the priest a vial of holy water. "The water, your eminence."
Luka felt a splash of water on his head. The priest started talking again.
"Sorry Luka, I hope you're not too disappointed. In the old times she would have came down and personally blessed the heroes, but she disappeared during the great catastrophe thirty years ago."
A heavenly voice suddenly rang through the temple.
"Luka, hero Luka…"
"What was that?" Everybody looked around, save for the addressed hero who didn't move an inch.
Ilias suddenly appeared in the middle of the confused group, everyone reacted again in shock, while Luka was too busy thinking over the situation. He cringed inwardly. Hey Ilias, I know you're going to die not soon after I see you in the flesh. Also, I am going to be the one responsible for getting Eden to open the temple that will lead to the Lilith Sisters murdering you. Also I recruited one of them. And I might have gotten killed by her afterward when I requested her company. And it was worth it.
He didn't even listen as she told once again that he had to save the world, and his mind was already on what was going to be next right afterward. As if on cue, Sara sprinted out of the temple. A few seconds later, she shouted out of breath.
"Luka! There's a fight in your inn!"
He started running toward her. He was already apprehending the situation.
"No running in the temple! I swear…"
Luka opened the door to his to see Alice and Ilias fighting while cussing at each other.
"-You big, glutonnous, slutty snake! I will smite you and rid the world of your kin!"
"That's rich coming from a genocidal bimbo goddess!"
Luka slowly inhaled before shouting. "KNOCK IT OFF YOU TWO!"
The combatants obeyed reflexively. "First of all, who are you, and what are you doing there?"
"I am Alice, the Monster Lord. I got turned into this state and kicked out of my castle by a rabbit. I wish to go back and get back my rightful place."
"I am Ilias, the Goddess of Creation, I want to know why I got cast down to this cruel world." She then glanced at Alice. "And I will smite any monster that will stand on my way. Will you help me?"
Alice scoffed. "Like anybody would want to help a petty goddess looking to kill innocent monsters!"
"Innocent? Oh, listen to the black hearted literal man eater? Did you wash your mouth from all the fluids you swallowed?"
"I don't know, I was busy not losing time listening to a goddess preaching mindless destruction."
"Of course not! You prefer gorging yourself on anything-"
Luka glared at one then at the other, sighing. He felt bad he had to crush Alice's heart like that, but he had made his decision long ago.
"I will help you Ilias, I'm sorry Alice, but there are some things I have to ask her personally."
The shocked small Monster Lord balled her fist in anger. "You, I will not forget this!" She then left the inn in a hurry.
Ilias haughtily declared. "It was the only choice really. How could she even think you considered recruiting her?"
Don't make me regret this. "No. Let's go, the village's chief wanted to see me."
Luka was already out of the inn as the Goddess was still gargling on her own ego. She eventually caught back to him in a huff. As he made his way to the chief's house, he heard one of the farmer's complaints.
"No, no! Get out of my way, you filthy imp! Stop eating my cultures!"
"Damn it! Luka, can you do anything?"
Ilias solemnly intervened. "Luka, just slice her head off and be done with it. We'll bury her in the field and let her blood fertilize the strawberries."
"Let's see the village chief first." Ok, I forgot how much she hates monsters… who make 90% of my party. Greaaat…
Luka quickly made his last goodbye to the village chief who gave him a key to get additional supplies. He didn't want to tell that he already had equipment several times better that came from another dimension.
As soon as he stepped out, he was greeted by Sonya's sight. She was wearing a light outfit theoretically more fit for travel, but which actually was lampshading quite well her generous forms. I saw monsters more conservatively dressed. As soon as she opened her mouth, the hero talked.
"Yes, you're coming with us."
"Uh? What makes you think I want to come with you?"
Luka refrained from sighing. "You are wearing your traveling outfit, there's a luggage right behind you, and the look of determination that you usually keep for when you are going to impose your decision on me tells even more."
Sonya was dumbfounded. "Are you alright Luka? Did something happen to you?"
"I just heard I had to save the world coming from the mouth of the Goddess of Light herself when she was considered dead for thirty years." Also I already played that little game enough to know that the only thing that would have kept you away was if I snuck away silently. And that didn't go well.
Sonya blinked a few times rapidly before conceding. "Good point."
Luka smirked. Now that it was out of the way, he could actually start his adventure.
Oh yeah, he forgot that… Or did he actively try to erase it from his memory?
A man wearing the most ridiculous outfit Luka had seen suddenly appeared in front of the group. The black and red robe could only find a place in a vampire assembly, and the belt that linked his lower legs definitely looked impractical. He was also wielding a humongous scythe that looked more like a toy than a weapon. Even knowing it was the real deal did not diminish the ridiculousness of the situation. The man repositioned his glasses.
"Greetings, our encounter is a fortunate coincidence, I wanted to meet the hero who got baptized."
Ilias butted in the conversation. "A fortunate coincidence, or rather, a judicious use of time stopping abilities." She checked him out. "You're incredibly suspicious. Who are you?"
"…Just a traveler, passing by."
Luka used his best poker face and politely nodded. Riiiight, and your mother is the Monster Lord…
He proceeded to turn toward Sonya. "And who are you?"
"I'm Luka's childhood friend."
"Luka doesn't have a childhood friend…"
"Well, I'm right there in the flesh!"
Nero apologized. "Sorry! That was extremely rude of me."
Luka started walking away. "It's all good. Can we go now?"
The hero sighed on his way out. He couldn't wait to start gathering information from Ilias about her vision of an "ideal world". Considering the importance of the choice he would have to make sooner or later, he considered those antics a small price to pay for the information he would get. Worst case scenario, he would maybe get more information in Esta this time, since he was now aware of what would happen there. He could prepare questions for that angel, Raphaela...
He stepped out of the village, soon followed by Sonya and Ilias. So far, everything seemed good. But even if he was no longer a beginner, he was still worried about his adventure. Right now however, he was more afraid of how his allies would behave on the road. Most of them were several levels of power above anything south of Hellgondo, and several of them could not be considered reliable in any way. He shivered as he envisioned Spider Princess looking for her "betrothed." He was not looking forward to it.
He saw Ilias looking suspiciously left and right. Oh yeah, they will rejoin as soon as the Pocket Castle is activated. I wonder if Ilias knows by now…
The Goddess of Creation whispered to him. "Luka, you may not know this, but in my struggle against evil, I managed to snatch away this." She showed the Pocket Castle to him. "Even if I abhor monster's creations, it will be useful as a warehouse."
Luka smiled inwardly. She doesn't. This is going to be good.
The White Rabbit was sitting on the edge of the platform. Reaper was leaning on her scythe right by her side. Both were looking at the hero through an orb.
"Aaand he's back on the road. I wonder if he will manage to hold onto his usual adventure this time."
"He is strong willed and smart enough to know that too many missteps would only result in the destruction of the world. I would not have offered him the possibility if I thought he would ruin it. The memory synchronization of his party members shouldn't cause any issue, and his whole army should be ready soon enough." She frowned. "I just hope he will not get too many of them to meet their double. I wouldn't want to restart because of that."
"But then again, you restarted his adventure when he asked to do it in hope of getting more information on the Angel World…"
She turned toward her acquaintance.
"How do you think he will react when he will realize he could have gotten his information by just asking one of his party member? I bet he will request to be reduced to a dry fish by the Succubus Queen."
Reaper grumbled. "I won't even bet on that one… Besides, he also wanted to escape another problem, didn't he?"
"Oooh, right, and he will have to make the same mistake again to progress. Talk about constants and variables." She clapped happily a few times and turned toward her friend. "Isn't it so funny?"
The black figure scowled. "Not when you have to revive him every time he makes a stupid decision."
The White Rabbit calmed down. "Oh… My bad!" She looked back at the emptiness in front of her. "I forgot heroes tend to be kind of idiots sometimes." She started swinging her legs back and forth. "Hey, you remember that guy during the Great War who went on adventure with one of the forgotten angel when-"
Reaper glared aggressively at the White Rabbit. "Don't." But the latter was lost in her storytelling.
"-And because he kept using the sword, the Ancestors attacked him again, and again, and each time they fu-."
"Stop right now."
"-And then Hiruko decided to-." The White Rabbit was mimicking a rising serpent with her arms linked together, before spreading them and wiggling her fingers.
Reaper suddenly beheaded the White Rabbit in one smooth motion. Both the body and the head fell into the abyss. "This is why people kill you."
After a few seconds, the victim came back from behind a pillar, massaging her neckline.
"That was mean… But I got the message, I'll stop there."
Reaper nodded briefly. "Thank you."