A/N: I apologize for the delay of this chapter; a lot of work was involved in building it and trying to fine tune it with research.
This chapter will set up what is coming in the following chapters, and some hints for what is to come in the future.
I am sure some of you can guess what I drew inspiration from and I do want to thank Jameyofthemegacosmos (for proofreading and editing of the chapter) and others for their suggestions and contributions that helped developed this chapter.
Now on with the chapter.
Three days later, Lelouch emerged from the Hub for Between Realms with Lucian, Primera, and Wilmarina tagging along. Unlike the world of Muspelheim, Lucian and Lelouch had visited the world they had just set foot upon was the exact opposite. As they exited the Hub, Lucian and Wilmarina's jaws dropped as they beheld a white landscape with snow-covered ruins upon a nightmarish land of unyielding cold, locked in an eternal deep-freeze. There was a sun behind the thin clouds, but instead of providing warmth, it seemingly made everything colder.
"How can I feel this?" Lucian asked, wearing her full body armor and helmet. "Muspelheim was an inferno, but I felt perfectly cool inside the armor. So, how am I feeling this?"
Primera wore her own new set of armor made by the Draven Brothers, which consisted of mostly brown and dark green leather armor. Like Wilmarina and Lucian's armor, it had a black undersuit and a shirt of Mithril Chainmail for added protection. She wore padded leather armor with boots and gloves with thick leather forearm protectors.
"Helheim is not for unprepared," a mighty voice declared.
Thundering footsteps accompanied the voice. Approaching the ground as the gigantic figure stepped out from behind a stone pillar. The giant stood a towering twelve feet with dark blue skin, short brown hair, and green eyes. He wore heavy leather in the form of a shirt, pants, and boots, all while carrying a polearm in one hand.
"Stand down, he isn't hostile," Lelouch raised a hand to halt Wilmarina and her companions from attacking as they instinctively drew their weapons. "It's good to see you again, Ulfbert."
"It's always a pleasure to see you, my friend, but what brings you to Helheim today?" The giant asked before glancing at Lelouch's companions. "I see you have made new friends since I last saw you."
"Everyone, this is Ulfbert, the chieftain of the Frost Giants living in Helheim," Lelouch introducing the towering giant.
"Greetings," Ulfbert greeted politely. "Welcome to Helheim."
"I thought the worlds except for ours and Earth got destroyed," Primera inquired.
"They were, but some are still able to support some life," Lelouch explained. "Helheim, for example, has conditions that are impossible for life to survive. But for Frost Giants, living conditions here are ideal for them."
"Living here has still been a challenge," the frost giant gestured for Lelouch and company to follow him. "Conditions make it difficult to raise livestock and produce."
"Was this place destroyed like Muspelheim?" Luciana asked, remembering Lelouch's story about that world.
"Yes, in a way, but circumstances were different considering our present surroundings," Lelouch answered before explaining. "Helheim was once home to the civilization of the Snow Elves, an offshoot of the Light Elf race that migrated from the world of Alfheim. Despite the chilling cold, the elves adapted and created a flourishing civilization."
"It wasn't this cold, was it?" Wilmarina asked as she gazed upon the white landscape around them. There was snow as far as the eye could see, but she could spot what looked like human-made structures. Some towers of stone and ruins were visible through small areas not covered in snow.
"No, Helheim had breaks between the long winters and was far more pleasant," Lelouch shook his head. "Like their Light Elf cousins, the Snow Elves were ingenious builders and craftsmen. Helheim became a center of high society, such as architecture, theater, and fashion. Their main exports were magical gemstones and enchanted items, including fabrics."
"We became friends with the Snow Elves, so we were allowed to establish a colony here," Ulfbert added as they passed by large huts where dark red lights emitted from inside. "We aided them in the creation of their cities and mining the gems valuable for their works."
"Are those from fires?" Primera asked, casting a curious glance.
"No, they are from magic crystals infused with fire elemental magic," Lelouch answered. "No ordinary fire can burn here. Therefore, to provide warmth for the giants and allow them to cook, powerful magical weapons and crystals were used."
Wilmarina, Primera, and Luciana exchanged glances with one another. They then looked down at their attire, wondering how long they would have lasted without their armor. The trio silently suspected they would have died within seconds upon stepping on Helheim's surface.
"So, what happened here?" Primera asked before adding. "What happened to the Snow Elves?"
"During the war, Helheim became a battleground for Kalika's army," Lelouch answered before explaining further. "Helheim possessed an atmosphere abundant with mana that offered lengthier longevity. After their heavy losses at Muspelheim, Kalika's forces invaded here and unleashed a powerful curse upon this world."
"Were they…all of the Snow Elves killed like the Fire Giants?" Luciana inquired.
"I do not understand the details," Lelouch answered. "What I do know is the deaths of several powerful beings altered Helheim into the hellish winter world you see now. The surviving Snow Elves, on the other hand, found themselves starved for magic. It appears that feeding off of the magic in the atmosphere left them with horrific withdrawal symptoms. Combined with the sudden loss of their civilization, the Snow Elves regressed into violent cannibalism. Being in a constant state of magical withdrawal likely altered their children as well, causing them to become mindless and violent, adopting a tribal lifestyle."
"Then the Snow Elves are," Primera began to ask, feeling a chill creep up her spine.
"Still alive, but they have become dangerous," Ulfbert answered as they approached the edge of what appeared to be a transparent magical barrier surrounding the hub and the Frost Giant village. "They will attack anyone or anything that isn't one of them. Thankfully, they keep to the caves and underground ruins, though they sometimes venture out in hunting groups to seek food."
"Do they attack your village?" Wilmarina asked.
"Sometimes, but they can never get past the barrier," Ulfbert answered as the group stopped at the edge. "However, they do lurk in the distance, looking for an easy target they can quickly overwhelm with numbers."
"Don't worry," Lelouch assured as he drew the Chain of Ogmios from his cape; its red glow had a warming effect holding it in his right hand. "They do not take well to light and fire, but I would ready your weapons just the same."
Luciana drew her new sword from its sheath, which possessed the same name of Surtr's sword, Laevateinn. It was a long sword with a black blade with glowing red runes, gold trims, and a gold hilt with a red gem at the end of the handle. Wilmarina drew her twin fire swords she borrowed while Primera readied her new bow, crafted from ebony, yet enchanted with different magics for a wide range of abilities.
The arrows within her quiver were also unique, tipped with experimental magic arrowheads with an enchanted substance only Lelouch knew about embedded in them.
"That's why you had us come while it was still bright outside?" Wilmarina asked, realizing why they came so early in the morning.
"They are rarely above ground during these hours," Lelouch led the way. "Traveling to our destination should be easier, but we should hurry and be back here by nightfall."
"Like always," Ulfbert said as the group passed beyond the magical barrier. "We appreciate whatever Snow Elves you can dispatch."
Meanwhile, somewhere near the edge of the Kingdom of Lescatie, hidden within a small valley, was an encampment. It was where the remaining soldiers of the Order gathered. There were at least three dozen soldiers, with some priests led by a bishop, but most notable among them was a young woman. She was around seventeen years old with medium-length orange hair with a blue beret on top with a fair skin complexion.
Her attire consisted of a blue and white top that left her shoulders exposed with a white corset and a black skirt. She had blue sleeves covering her arms and long armored boots upon her legs.
Why would they abandon us? Eristia Vitral cursed as she slammed her desk within her quarters. Why would they desert our nation when we needed them most? When so many people turned on us and allowed Lescatie to fall?
Eristia's blue eyes blazed in fury as she heard about how Zero disappeared. He was the only person who held his own against Druella, but he vanished and took a few members of the Order of the Ice Flower with him. How did they fight off the Fourth Princess of the Demon Lord and escape? Where did they go after that startling encounter? No one knew.
Standing nearby and silently observing her bout of anger was a young man around the same age. He had a fair skin complexion with black hair and blue eyes. He wore silver armor and a blue tabard with a matching cape. His attire also consisted of black pants and boots with a long sword by his side.
He was Yuriy Karelstein, Eristia's loyal squire. He was also her childhood friend, though she seemed not to recognize him, which he only assumed was the result of being apart for so long.
Was there anything Zero and the others could have done?
Yuriy was there with Eristia when Lescatie fell, although they had been returning from a mission along the border. Although they tried to aid the remaining soldiers, the city had already fallen, and they could only retreat. Because the monsters completely overran the capital, the young man was doubtful anything could have been done, even if Zero somehow defeated Druella.
In the days that followed, the other towns and the city of Salvarion fell as well.
Yuriy and Eristia had few places to retreat, but they eventually joined the remains of the Order's armies at their present location. Even more alarming, Eristia was the only Hero left uncorrupted in all of Lescatie. The others either escaped with him or joined the monsters to the Hero's horror and anger.
"According to this report, the monsters are trying to track down Zero and the other members of the Order of the Holy Ice Flower who escaped," Eristia explained.
Present in the room was a young woman wearing the attire of a nun of the Order consisting of white with gold trim.
"Indeed, they are," the nun Natasha replied, who gave her the paper. "Currently, the Lilim and her two Baphomets responsible for the invasion have left for the time being. However, efforts to continue their search are in the hands of Lady Noscrim."
"What about Priest Noscrim? Has there been any sighting of him yet?"
Natasha looked down in despair.
"Unfortunately, there's nothing. Even the reports we intercepted state the monsters do not know of his location either."
"Unbelievable," Eristia sighed. It was a more significant blow Wilmarina Noscrim of all people had betrayed them as well. "Is there any word of assistance from the other nations with the Order?"
Natasha shook her head.
"Although they are trying to muster a force to retake the kingdom, it could be weeks before reinforcements come."
"As if having our men desert us wasn't bad enough," Eristia buried her face in her hands in despair at their situation.
"I'm afraid so," Natasha looked away before turning back to the Hero. "Regardless, the Bishop wants to meet with you."
"So I have read," the last Hero of Lescatie noticed herself. "It's about a magical artifact that the monsters might have found."
"It indeed is," the nun nodded. "He wishes to meet with you whenever you are ready."
"I'll see him right now," Eristia said as she rose from her chair. The young woman turned to her squire, gesturing for him to follow.
It did not take the two long to arrive at the tent where the Bishop resided, who was the only senior member of the Order left. He wore white robes and attire expected of someone of his station, yet he was relatively young being in his mid-twenties with a clean-shaven face and green eyes. Eristia went inside to speak to the Bishop while her squire remained outside.
Yuriy took a deep breath as he wandered about alone in his thoughts.
I know Eristia does not want to hear it, but I think we should retreat and wait for reinforcements to come.
For as long as Yuriy has known her, Eristia was head-strong with extreme dedication to the Order. As such, he knew convincing her to abandon the kingdom would be impossible, especially if the Bishop was not giving up on it.
Deciding to distract himself from thoughts that Yuriy knew neither Eristia nor anyone else should hear for his safety, he walked over to a table near another tent. On the table were a dozen different types of pistols, including one wielded by Paula from the Order of the Ice Flower before she committed suicide. Yuriy picked up one of the guns to examine it but soon drew himself to the sound of a conversation that drew his interest.
"Is it true what happened?"
Yuriy kept to the other side of the tent, but inside, he overheard a group of soldiers talking.
"It is, I heard the men from last night's scouting mission left and gave themselves to the monsters to get eaten," another soldier answered.
"Really," another soldier exclaimed in shock. "Maybe we should just surrender ourselves. What's the point of fighting if the entire kingdom is lost, and we keep losing men?"
"I know, just the other day some more of the men left with some monsters. None of us have the will to keep fighting a hopeless battle. I think the Chief God has forsaken us!"
"Maybe, but be careful of such words, my friend especially around the Hero."
Yuriy had almost wanted to intervene, but he held back, knowing there was some truth to their words.
I don't disagree with everything they said. We are fighting a war we cannot win.
"Hey Yuriy," Eristia called emerging from the Bishop's tent. "We have our next mission. Please get some rest because we'll be heading out tomorrow morning."
"Of course, but may I ask where we are going?"
"We're to head to some old ruins to seek out an artifact," Eristia answered with a smile. "The monsters can't seem to find it, which means it will be a potent weapon for us."
"Very well," Yuriy replied with a vow, but a cold wind blew past.
I have a bad feeling about this.
Back on Helheim, Lelouch led Wilmarina, Primera, and Luciana as they made their way to the ruins of an ancient city, but the most striking thing they saw as they approached was an enormous hand. The hand draped over what appeared to be the remains of a collapsed structure, but despite the snow covering parts of it, what they saw for sure was a hand with jeweled rings. The trio followed Lelouch as they walked around the collapsed building where they stood upon the edge of an enormous crater.
The jaws of the women following Lelouch were left hanging in quiet shock as they gazed upon the body of a woman. She was a literal giant in every sense of the word.
Snow-covered portions of her body, but enough of it remained uncovered, displaying the gigantic woman had worn armor covering her torso, legs, and arms. She wore what appeared to be a white shirt with pants and an armored skirt. Her skin was pale grey with long black hair and white eyes staring into the sky. From the position where her body laid, most of it was within the crater. Her head, shoulders, her feet, and hands were just outside of it, having crushed some buildings when she fell.
However, the crater itself did not seem to be the result of the giant landing onto the ground but rather something else. Attached to the woman's arm was what appeared to be the remains of a shield.
"Is that a woman?" Primera asked.
"Yes," Lelouch answered. "In fact, she was a Goddess."
"A goddess!?" Wilmarina exclaimed in shock. "She's huge!"
"A goddess fell here," Luciana said, which Lelouch answered with a nod.
"I never heard of a Goddess who was so giant?" Primera added.
"She was the Goddess Skadi, associated with bowhunting, skiing, winter, and mountains," Lelouch said as the group began walking along the edge of the crater. "During the battle for Helheim, she faced against the brothers Madhu and Kaitabha. They were Rakshasas."
"Rakshasas?" Wilmarina asked, clearly unfamiliar with the term.
"They are a type of demon, but these brothers were born from the earwax of a god," Lelouch answered.
"Eww," Luciana commented.
"Sorry, it's what the legend says," Lelouch offered while shrugging his shoulders. "Anyway, the brothers were close allies of Kalika. They wielded a Trishula; rumors say it was a powerful divine trident forged from a sun, already known for beheading another god. Combine that with the brothers' power, which is enough to destroy someone as strong as the first Chief God you know of, and you can see how important they were in Kalika's armies."
"That…sounds like the deadliest combination," Wilmarina remarked.
"Then think of what Skadi had to counter against it."
"A counter?" Primera questioned. "What can stand up to...a basically unblockable attack?"
"Her shield," Lelouch answered as he faced the massive fragment. "During the battle on this world, she wielded the shield Svalinn, constantly protecting the world from its extreme heat. What you see is what happens when an unstoppable weapon created from the sun goes against an indestructible shield of eternal ice."
The fragment the pair stood in front of had broken off from Skadi's shield.
"Skadi's shield was called Svalinn, forged to stand against even the sun itself. It was perhaps one of the few weapons able to counter Trishula, but not completely as you can see," Lelouch said before pointing to the remains of the shattered shield upon Skadi's forearm.
"It was a mutual kill?" Primera asked.
"So," Luciana trailed, not sure what to ask. "Then, the brothers are dead too?"
"According to Havi, they got vaporized the moment they attacked Svalinn," Lelouch responded as he searched for a safe way down. "There's no trace of Trishula either; it was the inevitable result of the counter forces emitted by the two armaments. However, the blast was more than kill Skadi and shatter the shield she carried. Therefore, it was mutual death and nearly mutual destruction."
"Looks it wasn't enough to save the place anyway," Primera lamented as she observes the frozen landscape combined with the demolished structures around them.
"Don't get me wrong, Trishula would have been able to destroy this world should it hit the surface directly. Skadi died protecting this land with the only shield capable of standing up to its power, though admittedly, it did not mean the world avoided a cataclysmic disaster, considering the force of the fragments' impact."
"It's one thing to be told about a war between the gods, but to see the aftermath of one," Wilmarina began as she trailed off.
"It truly drives home how truly destructive such a war can be," Lelouch said, and no one argued that point with him.
The group continued their journey as they descended the crater seeking Frozen Flames, which would serve as the key material for Wilmarina's sword.
"Have you ever explored this area much?" Luciana inquired as they carefully descended the crater.
"I never traveled this close to Skadi's corpse before, but in the past, I traveled in the company of Ulfbert and his giants," Lelouch answered.
That's a relief to know Havi didn't send a child to this place alone, Luciana thought, feeling relieved considering how Havi allowed Lelouch to Muspelheim as a child.
The group reached an area of the crater where they found some broken metal fragments but nestled between some of them were flowing blue flames. According to Lelouch, these flames were Frozen Fire, a byproduct created when the powers of Svalinn and Trishula collided and the wave of energy unleashed. Frozen Flame was typically found near Skadi's corpse and around the crater itself.
Using a particular metal vial to draw the flames into, Lelouch used a unique pair of pliers to pick up the blue crystals where the Frozen Flame radiated power. As Lelouch finished filling one vial and began to work on another, Wilmarina found herself examining the broken pieces of the shield around them. As she moved some snow with a gloved hand to study shield fragments, but a faint blue glow caught her eye.
Is there something below us?
Wilmarina wiped away the snow at the base of the shield fragments before discovering she and the others were standing on a sheet of ice. Below them was a hollow chamber of some kind where a more substantial chunk of the shield glowed with something within it. She could not see below the ice, but it was a vast chamber to be sure. The glow from the large piece of Skadi's shield could not provide further details. However, Wilmarina, much to her horror, noticed cracks upon the ice forming.
Before she could alert anyone of the danger, the ice beneath them gave way as it shattered, sending Lelouch, Wilmarina, and the others falling into the chamber below.
Luciana and Primera panicked, but Wilmarina reacted quickly before using a casting of ice magic to slow their descent. She conjured a slide of ice to slow them down while Lelouch helped her by casting fire spells that melted the incoming chunks of ice. Lelouch cast a form of wind magic to cushion their fall as the slide caught them, but the cushion prevented them from colliding into anything at the end of the fall.
After the dust settled, Lelouch was among the first to stand, followed by Wilmarina as he extended a hand towards her.
"Thanks," Wilmarina said as Lelouch pulled her up to her feet.
"Are the rest of you, alright?" Lelouch asked as he and Wilmarina began helping Primera and Luciana.
"There's nothing broken," Luciana commented as she dusted her armor off.
Wilmarina assisted Primera, who remained stubborn as always, but Lelouch did not waste a moment to examine their surroundings. As far as Lelouch could tell, the group was inside some kind of enormous chamber that must have been part of a more massive structure akin to an indoor marketplace. Most of it collapsed when Skadi fell upon it, but somehow, the foundation survived.
I do not know how the interior held up, but we need to leave, Lelouch thought.
The danger was not the possibly unstable underground structure. Just being underground put the travelers at risk to attack from the Snow Elves. However, the glow from the large fragments of Skadi's shield drew his attention as Wilmarina stepped closer to it.
That is a part of Skadi's shield, Lelouch thought in surprise. Unlike the other fragments I have seen, this one still holds power.
Lelouch's thoughts were interrupted when some rumbling occurred. It was not long before he heard chunks of ice rolling down the tunnels up ahead. The rumbling caused Lelouch's accomplices to ready their weapons. Primera drew out three of her new arrows as she prepared to enchant them with her power.
"Get ready," Lelouch said with his weapon ready.
With a terrible how echoing from the tunnels above them, a group of tall and lanky beings emerged. They had ashen pale skin, white hair, and wore tattered, rag-like clothing.
Their eyes were a featureless white, and their spindly hands ended in claw-like nails. They were only vaguely humanoid, their bodies deformed, and emaciated. Perhaps they had been elves once, but if they were, then they had become something entirely different, something more bestial and inhuman.
Regardless it was their numbers that were a problem.
Primera used her magic to empower the arrow on her bow. Enchantments were quick spells regardless of the caster. In the half-elf's case, she used it to make her arrow home in like a missile. When she released her arrow, it guided itself towards the Snow Elf she targeted, impacting it in the head. The arrowhead exploded, setting several snow elves on fire. Despite the flames and howls of pain, the feral elves kept rushing forward, but Lelouch was already ready with a spell.
"Stream of fire, taste the breath of the dragon," Lelouch said as he finished chanting the spell.
A magic circle appeared in front of Lelouch as the magical construct of a dragon's head appeared, which released a stream of fire. A dozen snow elves screamed as Lelouch incinerated. He took a look at the arrows he provided for Primera, which already proved their worth from the pink explosions after detonation.
It looks like those Sakuradite-tipped arrows are doing their job.
Lelouch provided her with arrows that exploded upon hitting their targets. However, she did not know the actual science behind it as they used a substance only found on his homeworld at the moment. Its most notable feature was the pink explosion left behind after detonation. The explosion itself startled the one who fired it along with the other two Heroes.
Two of them survived the blast, but Luciana and Wilmarina intervened. Even though Wilmarina was more used to wielding one sword, she handled her twin Swords of Surtr with deadly skill as she cut off the arms of another snow elf before separating its head from its shoulders. Luciana, however, had her new blade at hand, made from the fragment of Surtr's blade that Luciana discovered. At first, it was a little hard to work with due to the extra weight, but she managed to get used to it in a way that fit her fighting style. Her weapon shattered the sword of the Snow Elf before cutting her down, shortly after Wilmarina quartered hers with her borrowed blades.
Behind them, another tunnel opened, allowing for the second group of snow elves to rush them. Lelouch saw the second tunnel open from the corner of his eye, but using his free hand, Lelouch reached into his cape and drew a flash grenade, additionally modified with magic.
"I'm throwing a flash bomb!" Lelouch warned as he tossed the grenade into the oncoming group of snow elves upon pulling the pin.
The grenade exploded blinding the elves, and because they spent all of their time in darkness, the blinding light was incredibly painful for them. Most importantly, the blinding light also stunned them, allowing Wilmarina and Luciana to go on the offensive.
"Flaming!" Luciana poured her mana into her weapon. Thanks to its natural fire affinity, it was easy for her to generate flames with her new sword. Such was more than enough to convince that she could handle these. Compared to Wilmarina, she has some kind of edge as the stronger Hero was more capable of ice magic. Either that or she did not know how to activate such a spell.
Readying her new swords, Wilmarina drew blood as her first swing decapitated a snow elf with his head and arms cut clean off. Luciana was next using her new blade to cleave a snow elf in half across the waist. Even though Wilmarina was more used to wielding one sword, she handled her twin Swords of Surtr with deadly skill as she cut off the arms of another snow elf before separating its head from its shoulders.
The snow elves carried old swords and make-shift weapons, but they could not block the powerful weapons wielded by Luciana and Wilmarina. Case in point as the pair had no difficulty in dispatching them, but the couple had themselves quickly surrounded. Luciana cut down another snow elf, clear down the middle alongside their weapon after it attempts to parry the attack failed. Their swords, with their powerful enchantments on top of the blades, cut down the Snow Elves effortlessly. For every Snow Elf they struck down, two more took its place.
Oh no, you don't, Luciana thought upon noticing a snow elf attempting to attack her from behind.
She impaled the attacking snow elf with her sword, but behind her, another one was about to attack. Until Luciana punched the snow elf in the face shattering her enemy's skull in one hit, killing her foe.
"Become my eyes and seek my target!" Primera chanted for her Enchant spell for her arrows again.
After releasing another arrow, Primera's eyes widened in shock before regaining her composure. The tip not only vaporized the Snow Elf, but the blast killed those standing near her target.
What the hell did he put in my arrows? Primera exclaimed in her head. He told me they were powerful, but I never thought they would be this explosive.
Lelouch had finished cutting down another snow elf while his weapon had left several cleaved in half across the waist and chest. However, despite collectively cutting down dozens of snow elves, Lelouch realized they would only keep coming, so he had to stop the flow of enemies so they could focus on escaping.
With a break from the seemingly constant onslaught, Lelouch put away his weapon to focus on casting a spell.
"I call upon the flames of the fire giant and their king to crush those in my sight," Lelouch chanted before conjuring a fireball bigger than his head.
Lelouch sent the fireball into one of the open tunnels. Not only did the impact kill the nearby snow elves, but it was enough to cause the passageway to collapse. Lelouch quickly cast the same spell closing the other tunnels, and his companions swiftly finished off the last of the Snow Elves.
They were safe for the time being.
Both women wanted to sit down and rest, but there was nowhere to sit since they were both literally and figuratively up to their knees in snow elf corpses and chopped limbs.
"I never fought that hard in my life, not since Druella," Wilmarina said, clearly winded from the fight.
"They just kept coming no matter how many of them we cut down," Luciana remarked.
"We can't stay here," Lelouch said. Although he was tired, he knew the longer they linger, the sooner the snow elves would find a way back into the chamber to resume their assault. "We're taking this with us."
Lelouch stepped before the shield fragment Wilmarina found where the former began chanting a spell.
"Become small to fit in my hand so that you can travel with me," Lelouch said, chanting a spell to shrink the shield fragment allowing Lelouch to pocket it to take the whole thing with them. "That spell will eventually wear off, so we'll need to return before it does."
"How do we get out of here?"
"We'll use my sword to travel back to the hub," Lelouch said, drawing his sword to open a portal.
"Ok," Wilmarina said as she and Luciana approached Lelouch, but as Lelouch feared, they could hear the sound of snow elves trying to dig their way back into the chamber.
Lelouch swung his blade, opening a portal with Wilmarina and Luciana rushing through, but Primera seemed lost in thought.
"Primera, we need to go NOW!" Lelouch said, urging the half-elf to follow them.
When Primera did not respond, Lelouch grabbed her shoulder.
"PRIMERA!" Lelouch said with more urgency before dragging the half-elf through the portal.
It closed just as the snow elves broke into the chamber, but Lelouch and his party were already gone.
Back at Lilith's castle, Druella was walking down the hallway towards her mother's chambers to have a word alone with her. Druella felt uneasy, but yet she could not see that she did anything wrong. Granted, she did acknowledge she could have handled things with Zero with more delicacy, mostly since the feelings in her heart and the longing she had for the masked man not only failed to diminish it kept growing.
Suddenly a certain Thunderbird entered from an intersecting hallway before angrily confronting Druella with a look of anger upon her face.
"Hi," Levin Dil growled at the Lilim, both daring to look at her.
"I recognize you. You are Levin Dil, aren't you?" Druella asked unconcerned by being confronted by an angry Levin. "I am pleased to meet you."
"I am," Levin replied.
"Right," Druella said, realizing the conversation was turning awkward. "I have heard about your past relationship with Zero, and I assure you I had no intention of stealing him from you. I am sure we could've shared him, but I would've allowed you to have him first."
Even through monster girls sought mates and spiritual energy, many of them preferred monogamy relationships; however, some monsters were open to polygamous relationships. It sometimes happened as a result of two monster girls in love with the same man, or a monster girl having taken a fancy for a married man, or a monster girl forms one for her lover.
Circumstances vary, but naturally, some monster girls sought harems for their husbands as well.
Druella suddenly found a bolt of lightning charge up from Levin's wings. Already, monsters were capable of dodging bullets fired from muskets as long as they were not distracted. As a Lilim, reaction time and speed eclipsed those of their subordinates. That and the fact she caught the Thunderbird charging up allowed Druella to avoid her sudden strike.
"Is that all you have to say?" Levin Dil said, looking at the ground. She then faced Druella with rage in her eyes. It did not matter to her if she just attacked a princess of the Royal Makai. "Is that all you can say after what you just did!?"
Druella realized Levin was furious with her, so she decided to try and be civil while attempting to deescalate the situation.
"Oh," Druella said, recognizing the apparent love Levin had for Zero. "If it was Zero, then I am sorry about that."
"What are you talking about!?" Levin looked at Druella in shock before her first twisted in anger. "I lost Zero because of what you did, and you likely alienated him towards us even more!"
"Please calm down," Druella said, raising her hands defensively.
Levin's fury did not diminish as she unleashed another lightning bolt, but before the situation could escalate even further.
Intervening to stop the clash between Druella and Levin was Yuusha, who had his wife leading him. Without the two even noticing him, the Fallen Hero had positioned himself between Druella and Levin, having used one hand to deflect a lightning bolt.
"Miss Dil, I must ask that you calm yourself," Lilith issued with a threatening tone. "Attacking my daughter will not change what happened. Know that if you continue, as her mother, I will stop your attacks with more forceful methods."
Levin felt the power radiating from the Demon Lord, which caused her to stand down and cease her attacks instinctively.
"And Druella, you should be a little more careful next time," Lilith said, turning to his daughter to kindly scold her.
"I don't think anything I could've said would've worked," Druella admitted.
"It just shows how much Lady Dil loves Zero," Bapho-Chan commented as she arrived onto the scene. "She does not take too kindly over what just happened recently."
"No," Lilith did not deny it as Lilynanna and Meivia arrived at the scene. "But we know that there's more to it than we realize."
Both Lilynanna and Meivia went to Levin to calm their friend and keep her temper from flaring again.
"I don't quite understand it, mother," Druella began speaking to Lilith, but she was mindful to keep her voice low to keep Levin from overhearing her. "Why does Zero reject the love of a monster who loves him at the bottom of her heart?"
"Dear, he could've been unaware of it as most men are," Lilith replied, patting her daughter's head. "However, I think Zero is prioritizing his goals over love at the moment, and likely his abandonment of Lady Dil was to avoid needlessly endangering her."
"I'm sure that he's just sexually repressed," Druella remarked, missing the point her mother was making. "Even with his power, he'll figure it out sooner or later."
"No, I don't believe that's the case," Lilith shot down Druella, showing glares her oblivious fourth daughter. "While it is true that he puts sexual relationships aside, it's not because he denies them. Rather, it's several factors that are driving him that seem to put other priorities ahead of such desires."
"You're talking about the Empire," the Demon Lord's top Baphomet inferred, recalling what Zero said about it. "You and Shirokuto said that he might be exaggerating their power."
"Yet not only is Zero prioritizing its destruction over everything else, but consider the weapons and armor he possesses? We know Zero can travel between worlds, and he has a unique set of moral values different from the Order, so what is it like back in his world? Many questions surround Zero, but until we know more, I am considering him and this Empire a dangerous threat and will treat them accordingly."
"I suppose," Druella answered with little to argue back.
"At the same time, I will be restricting you of your activities," Lilith commanded much to Druella's shock. "After Lescatie, you are no longer allowed to conduct any more invasions in Order territory."
"But mother!?" Druella offered in protest.
"Don't think I'm so busy in bed with my dear that I'm oblivious to what you're doing," Lilith displayed a gaze of disapproval in her eyes. "I have known your exploits for a long time. Even if few died, that does not mean I am happy with your conquests. Furthermore, I had learned you began laying the foundation of your invasion long before I gave you my approval with your corruption of Lescatie's Princess and its castle's servants."
Druella wanted to offer a counterargument, but the words could not escape her lips.
"Our goal is not to create a world without pain or suffering or to make everyone monsters. It is to remove the curse out on us by the Chief God and ensure coexistence with the humans. My lack of action towards the former should have already given you that impression."
"You would lean towards that goal eventually."
"Perhaps, but it has also created an enemy out of Zero. And he is one we simply cannot afford to have just from what we know about him." Lilith remarked before placing a hand on her chin. "However, as for this Empire, I believe Zero is now out there fighting against it."
"Huh?" Levin jumped.
"Considering the questions he asked in Dragonia about its history, and how he was actively planning to overthrow Lescatie himself? I believe the latter of which was a means to test himself."
"Test himself?" Lilynanna commented.
"If this Empire is as dangerous as Zero claims, wouldn't you seek a way to confirm if you had the means to bring it down?" Lilith answered, removing her hand from her chin. "I am almost certain of what his aim was, but what motivates him and what instilled such a desire is unknown to me."
"I think something terrible happened to him as a child, which made getting close to people difficult for him," Lilynanna remarked. "He never mentioned it himself, but Levin told me tales about some of the reasons he refuses to take off his armor."
"And maybe why he reacted so badly to," Meivia said, clearly regretting her actions that drove Zero and Levin apart. "Men who tend to hide away, even their identities, always suffer from some kind of traumatic experience when they were young or something close to it."
"Yes, that is true, but the Empire is the other reason I am restricting you, my dear," Lilith said, turning to Druella with a look of concern. "If this Empire is as terrible as Zero says, then you may be prone in intervening recklessly almost just like how wanted to overthrow Lescatie because of the kingdom's treatment of its people and heroes."
"Mother!" Druella protested.
"I know besides the potential danger Lescatie represented to the Royal Makai," Lilith pointed out, which was the main reason she authorized Druella to conduct her invasion. Should they have been left to their device, even if they did not defeat Lilith, they would have done a lot of damage and caused a significant setback in Lilith's ultimate vision. "I know it was their treatment of their citizens and heroes that alarmed you most as well."
Such a tale was something Meivia and those from the island of Dé Ryúa.
The Sixth Island of the Court Alf island chain was a slave island in the past, due to being a small area with few resources and several whirlpools surrounding it. Life unsurprisingly was tiring on the island until warships of the Order from Queen Diana seized the island to establish a shipbuilding yard. At first, the islanders did not complain about the seizure of their island, because the admiral charged to oversee them treated them fairly and well.
Unfortunately, for a reason, unpleasant rumors began to spread about the admiral overseeing them. The most commonly assumed reason was that the admiral's superiors did not like how he was lax with the workers and gave them too much freedom. After a rumor of him being close to monsters spread, Diana recalled him to be executed and replaced. Someone else then took over, who imposed much harsher rules by stripping them of their freedom, more or less making slaves out of them.
In a twist of fate, the monster girls who heard of the good-natured admiral's situation rescued him from the ship transporting him. They were also distressed by the sudden cruel treatment of the islanders as the walls that protected them from the whirlpools, and harsh seas were their prison now. However, with the aid of the aquatic monster girls, they managed to take back the island without fighting. It was thanks to the strong bonds formed with the island's people and the soldiers stationed there.
After the wars on the island chain were over, those brought to Diana returned to their original home island of De Ryúa. Those who left home thought of it was a paradise of wealth and fortune, entirely the contrary to what occurred. However, the island did achieve some kind of estate with immediate help from the Radical Faction. What was once a prison for slaves then became a red-light district with strip clubs, amusement parks, and casinos for visitors everywhere.
Such situations where a city or islands inhabits were suffering injustices, like Dé Ryúa and Lescatie, made easy targets for Druella to convert into monster realms.
"However," Lilith continued. "This is a different scenario. At this rate, you will end up provoking this Empire and potential allies into waging war on us, just like what we've done with Zero."
"I'm afraid she's right," Meivia agreed, thinking about what happened that day.
"I understand, Mother," Druella offered reluctantly.
"We'll keep an eye out for Zero, but I would rather conduct a fact-finding mission to learn more about him. If one were to find Zero, no one is to engage hostilities with him, even if it means I have to confront him myself."
"B-But, love," Yuusha stepped in. "I won't put you in danger. Not when we're so close to obtaining the goal we envisioned."
"It's alright, dear," Lilith placed a hand on her husband's shoulder. "Zero understands our goals and accepts what we're trying to accomplish. In a sense, he reminds me a lot about you even now."
Lilith's comment made Yuusha blush, and Druella chuckled from the side.
"Once we find Zero, we should prepare for the upcoming attacks, whether it be a preemptive strike or solid defense against their invasion. If we can understand Zero's power and might of the hostile nation he confronts, then it should allow us to confront him and who he brings with him. Then, we shall have more than enough to clear up this misunderstanding sooner or later."
"A-As if you say, love," the Fallen Hero acknowledged.
"Don't worry, dear," the Demon Lord hugged her beloved and adorable husband as they cutely embraced each other. "It won't be long before our dream world comes true, and only then humans and monsters can both be free."
The embrace comforted him for sure. Lilith was not dumb and well understood what they suddenly had on their plate. Even with Zero's power of purification, that would mean nothing if they had the means to rewrite the laws of the world. Both wished for a happy world for humans and monsters, and they got closer every day to the means to do it.
But even then, he had a bad feeling of what was going to happen. Perhaps it was due to the familiar voice he heard from Zero, or the disgust in his voice about the current system. Whatever it was, it stuck onto him like a nail, and not a single trace of demonic energy was able to pull it out.
Later that afternoon, the brothers were examining the shield fragment Wilmarina had discovered. The brothers were all very intrigued by the find, and yet surprised the piece still held vast amounts of power. Wilmarina stood nearby but out of the brother's way as they continued examining the fragment in an enlarged chamber next to their workshop. She had changed out of her armor dressed casual clothes consisting of a white-collar shirt and black pants.
"Lady, you must have the devil's luck to have found a fragment of a goddess's shield that held onto its power after being destroyed," Brokkr was impressed with the find.
"So, we are all in agreement then?" Eitri asked before his brothers nodded in agreement. "We're going to make you a sword out of this."
"You're going to make a sword out of a shield?" Wilmarina asked.
"Yes, and it's going to be immensely powerful," Sindri nodded. "Maybe our best work yet to rival Mjolnir."
"Just give us some time after we finish the new armor and weapons for your friends, and we'll get on it, and trust me, it's going to be beautiful when we finish," Brokkr boasted confidently.
"You guys seem very eager for this."
"Of course, when is it that you have material like this to work from," Brokkr answered before asking. "By the way, since the sword is going to be yours, how about a name for it?"
"A name?" Wilmarina asked.
"Yes, since you found it, Lelouch said the weapon made from this should be yours."
"Well," Wilmarina began before giving the question some serious thought. "I want it to be something more specialized for me. Something that does not have uncomfortable implications.
"Uncomfortable implications?" Sindri wondered.
"Nothing," the Hero shook her head. "I just want it to be more selfless. I am no longer doing this for just Elt or one particular person who is important to me. I want it to show that doing this for everyone's sake, just like Lelouch."
It looks like Lelouch has become more of an influence than I anticipated, Eitri commented internally.
"Your last sword was called All-For-You, so how about One-For-All?" Brokkr suggested. "Or better yet, how about Einfüral?"
"It means One-For-All in our native language, but it sounds like the perfect name for it, and your type. Don't you approve?"
"Sure, why not?" Wilmarina said, glad to be rid of that sword. "As long as it is nothing like All-For-You."
"Alright, then. You shall be more than happy when it's finished."
Around the same time, Havi was meeting with Lelouch while Koyoi stood behind the latter. The older man and Lelouch were presently discussing what to do with Kirsch, but first, there was an intriguing and yet worrying discovery about her sword that he carried.
"Kirsch's sword is a Cursed Sword?" Lelouch asked, clearly surprised by the revelation.
"Yes," Havi confirmed with a nod. "The effects its blade has on a victim remained active, but it seems the chain and lock around its hilt have suppressed the demonic spirit within the blade. So Kirsch was in no danger of becoming host to a Curse Sword, provided no one undid the seal upon it."
"What was the effect of her sword?" Koyoi inquired. "As I understood it, the blade caused those struck by it to vanish into oblivion if they don't die instantly from the first strike."
"The blade rather transports its victim into a location deep within a Demon Realm," Havi revealed to the surprise of Lelouch and Koyoi. "Considering her status, a loyal dog of Priest Noscrim, Kirsch never realized that she was sending people who opposed the decadence of Lescatie to their fate as monsters."
"I have a feeling Druella had a hand in that," Lelouch remarked. "It wouldn't be too surprising with all Heroes who joined her at the start of the invasion."
"Impossible, because I heard Kirsch had that sword since she was a child," Koyoi denied. "If it were true, that would suggest Druella has been planning the invasion of the kingdom for decades."
"So I have I, which must also mean Druella manipulated Kirsch into becoming Priest Noscrim's attack dog to put her in a prime position during the invasion," Lelouch deduced her unknowing role in the Lilim's campaign. "Besides sending heroes and their lovers to the demon realm to join their ranks, the seal on her sword would have broken at the right time. Priest Noscrim's attack dog would've become Druella's tool once transformed."
"Not just that," Havi pointed out. "The others don't know about this, especially the other Knights of the Ice Flower, and it's best if they did not."
"And that is?"
"After I discovered the true form of Kirsch's weapon, I investigated the other armaments the Heroes wielded. Fortunately, just about all of them were made of pure materials, made straight from Lescatie or one of the Order Realms. However, it was worth checking considering the origin of the kingdom."
Lelouch knew the story of the kingdom, too. It used to be a den for monsters long before Lilith's reign. That area was then liberated during a war against one of the Demon Lord when a certain Hero managed to cleanse the entire region of monsters. The nation became named after that Hero, and it thrived as a small insignificant nation until the recent rise and fall as a Theocracy.
"Since that realm was once a den of monsters, I had reason to believe that some of their weapons were the same. All more of the reason why I had you travel to Helheim to create a new alternative sword for Lady Noscrim."
"A good idea," Lelouch acknowledged before inquiring. "But what about Kirsch, knowing how deeply she is attached to her weapon? She might ask for it back."
"That's why I decided to destroy it," Havi suggested. "If anything, we can ask the brothers to make a replacement."
"Well then, you're both dismissed."
Once Havi left the room with what would be Kirsch's former sword, Lelouch and Koyoi began walking together until they stepped outside to walk around the ruins. The pair was silent until Koyoi broke the silence between them by starting to ask.
"There is something I don't quite understand," Koyoi began, turning to Lelouch. "Does becoming a monster…brainwash you…in any way…considering how…different…they are?"
"How different?" Lelouch answered. "You mean like what those in the Order of the Ice Flower became when they all married Elt? I don't think its mind control or anything like that, but it has something more to do with how repressed they were."
"Maybe not the best choice of words, but let me give you an example," Lelouch answered before explaining. "It depends on how the person lived as an individual, but I have noticed the transformations in mind tend to be the most profound for those from Order controlled states. Those from non-Order control stated or places not too controlling of their people's lifestyles tend to change little. However, because of how the Order of the Chief God pushes people to deny pleasure in all forms, including singing, are different."
"Sounds like how I lived under my grandfather," Koyoi commented as the pair began walking down some steps.
"Right, so with that in mind considering what will happen to a mind?" Lelouch pointed out. "When all of their inhibitions towards sex get suddenly removed? Then depending on the nature of their transformation, combined with a sensory overload of sensations foreign to them? I can't even guess the kind of psychological effect that will have on a person combined with their new instincts taking root."
Koyoi could not even begin to grasp what Lelouch was saying. But thanks to recent events and all of the new things she never knew until now, the monster slayer began to wonder.
How could anyone handle taking all of that in at once?
"Anything else would depend on the individual in question," Lelouch added. "This is if they had anything that could add to the effect."
As the two turned a corner, the pair happened upon a Primera lost in thought. The half-elf was still in her armor, but she had taken off the helmet. Primera was presently sitting on an old stone bench, but her reason for seeking solitude was not apparent, yet Lelouch had a suspicion.
"Are you feeling alright?" Lelouch asked, approaching Primera, who was surprised by his presence.
"It just that..."
"You were thinking about Lelouch, weren't you?" Koyoi's words slipped out of her mouth, prompting the green-haired elf to jerk.
"I don't think it's like that," Lelouch wanted to contain her outburst, but he was already too late.
"W-What are you talking about!?" Primera exploded. "It's not like that at all!"
"A-Are you sure?" Koyoi tried to help the conversation, only for the half-elf to end up even more annoyed.
"It's alright," Lelouch stepped in, finally taming the half-elf. "Such a personality and response are pretty common in my world."
"H-How common?" Primera blushed.
"About as common as your usual zealot or clergyman in the Order of the Chief God. So common, it's pretty much a cliché." Lelouch answered, but he decided to change the subject. "Anyway, you're troubled about our encounter with the Snow Elves, aren't you?"
"I," Primera froze for a moment before thinking about what to say. Koyoi caught her off guard as she indeed thought about Lelouch when they were back in Helheim. But that was not the only issue on her mind.
"Zero...I mean, Lelouch, those things back in Helheim...those were elves, weren't they?"
"They were," Lelouch sighed.
"And they were one of those great civilizations from before?"
"Shouldn't it be a surprise to you?"
"Of course, it is!" Primera exclaimed. "I may have my fair share of how elves behave, but even those back in my world were a lot more civilized. How in the Chief God's name did they go from such a great race to savages all overnight!?"
"Even the details are unclear, but it came so suddenly, that much is certain," Lelouch said. "Despite their successes, they were unprepared for such a terrible cataclysm."
"All from one just a single blow from that trident?"
"No, it was multiple strikes. When Svalinn broke apart, even though it stopped Trishula, it could not stop its momentum. The kinetic energy from even the smallest of pieces was as powerful as a small asteroid or meteor hitting the Earth. What you saw before we battled was how the devastating power of every single impact from the bombardment."
"Then what about their language? Education?"
"Back then, aside from mana, the Snow Elves completely relied on their technology for everything down to accumulating knowledge. They completely lost the means of having the information transferred to their brains. Once the impacts came and the network was severed, what do you expect to happen?"
"Losing so much, and they couldn't recover?"
"I am sure there was more to it, yet a lesson came from the tragedy," Lelouch began. "No matter how much as a civilization or a species we build ourselves up, it can come crashing down if we become too dependent on our accomplishments than ourselves."
Lelouch's upcoming war against Britannia was initially one of personal vengeance. But his time in the other world and the civilizations came before convinced him to be something more. Recognizing the folly made by the Snow Elves, Lelouch intended to build a new world on the ashes of Britannia's destruction, one that would not make the same mistake as they did.
Even if I take down Britannia, without hope and means to hold onto reality, it is the same as having no future. My war with the Order and Lilith is undoubtedly the same.
Lelouch already considered the consequences of his war against Lilith. Many of the monsters he befriended did not deserve to lose their humanity and love for humans. For one thing, Lelouch could reason with them, even if the prince had to do it the hard way. Regardless, even if they understood what was wrong with their society, they would gladly side with Lilith if he fought the Demon Lord just because of that. After all, she was currently the only pillar upholding their newfound humanity and ability to live peacefully with the humans, even if she likewise overwrote their personalities.
On the other hand, the Order was a side to join with either. Besides their war becoming a lost one, the Chief God simply clung to the past. By killing Lilith to reclaim control of the metaphysical systems of the world, she would return everything to her preferred form of balance for the world. To Lelouch, what she wanted for humanity and the world was nothing more than stagnation, a world trapped in a never-ending cycle with nothing outside of it.
I will have to deal with her in good time, so there can be a future for everyone.
Before the conversation could continue further, the sound of footsteps behind them caused them to pause.
"Lelouch," Olivie called out while running to catch up to them.
"What is it?" Lelouch asked as he and Koyoi turned to face the young woman.
Olivie had changed out of her past attire and opted for more casual clothing as well. Her choice of attire consisted of black pants worn under a yellow dress with boots.
"Have you seen where Mimil is?"
"I believe she was spending time with Nunnally and Mizuko," Lelouch answered.
Inside a room within the ancient complex Nunnally, Mizuko and Mimil sat together in living quarters, looking a nearly flat box with a bright screen. It displayed two young girls with decorative clothing that had different contrasting attire. One has short blue hair and a white and blue dress similar to a knight with a cloak, almost looking like Wilmarina in her Hero uniform complete with her sword. The other had a more revealing red outfit with matching red hair and eyes, wielding a long lance.
I cannot believe they can make these without magic, Mimil wondered as she continued to watch what Lelouch called a television.
It had been brought for Mizuko more than anyone else, but Nunnally had taken to watching shows with her. However, magic was the reason for the television and its player working thanks to a specialized magic generator the brothers created.
On the screen, the two young girls were in a standoff.
"Didn't Homura and Mami tell you?" the red-haired woman said with her lance in two. "This town's Grief Seeds belong to me."
"I know you," the blue-haired girl realized. "You're that magical girl from before, Kyoko Sakura!"
"I was wondering where all those targets from yesterday went," the girl named Kyoko hummed. "Looks like I found the thieving cat that stole them."
"Oh, those were yours?" the other girl smugly joked around. "Sorry my bad."
"Sorry!? Come on now! 'Sorry' isn't going to cut it for violating a magical girl's territory!" Kyoko spun her lance and aimed it the other girl's head. "If you want it, come take it over my dead body! I'm ready when you are!"
"No, that's not what I meant to do at all," the Wilmarina lookalike nonchalantly ignored the threat and handed Kyoko a handful of black orbs surrounded by dark metal. "Here, you can have their Greif Seeds back if you want. I used them a bit, though. Sorry about that."
"Uh, no, um…" Kyoko stuttered for a moment, dropping her lance, and turning away. "That's not what I…I just can't take these."
"You wanted Greif Seeds, don't you? It's fine, don't worry about it! I didn't use them that much."
"Eh!? Uh…You didn't use them…" Kyoko jerked back as she reluctantly took the Grief Seeds from the other girl's hand. "Th-Thanks..."
As the two eventually got to talking, Mimil leaned forwards with her legs crossed and hands on her checks.
"Is this really what magical girls are like in your world?" Mimil inquired, getting bored of the current scene. "At first, it looked like what you'd see back in Lescatie in the real world, but now it's turned into one of those fantasy stories."
"Well, it was supposed to be very grim at first," Nunnally answered as she watched. "Initially, it was only twelve episodes, and it was supposed to have a very different ending."
"What happened then?"
"Well…apparently, Big Brother Clovis was interested in this particular series."
"Your big brother?" Mimil raised an eyebrow. "I read your planet's history. Don't those Brit snobs hate other cultures or something?"
"Not all of them. Some people even embraced and integrated them. However, my Big Brother did not seem to like the original ending for this story and wanted the show to run more episodes. All of a sudden, it went for a complete turnaround that had a whole different message."
"That sounds very skeptic if you ask me," the pink-haired girl became annoyed with glaring eyes.
"Oh well," Nunnally thought nothing of it. "The series is still fun if you ask me. At least Mizuko seems to like the extra episodes they added in."
"The shows are a lot more detailed than they were back in my world," the Umi Osho began showing her less anxious self in front of the other girls. "We have something like this back in our world, but even they were not as detailed as this."
"Y-You have things like this back in the Demon Realms!?" Mimil's eyes widened with surprise.
"O-Of course, we do," Mizuko replied, returning to her anxious self again. "But Nunnally-san said they were more like what it was many decades ago back in her world."
"Indeed," the blind girl giggled. "At least here, you'll have a lot more sources of child-friendly entertainment than back in your world."
I am not so sure, Mimil looked away with puffed cheeks, facing Mizuko as she had some fun. I swear that the other show looked much better.
She was later trapped in her thoughts as she remembered the first show she saw.
On the screen, it showed what looked like a giant creature. Although Mimil wanted to deduce that it was a monster, it did not look like anything she had seen in her life as it was way too metallic. The closest was an Automaton, ancient mechanical weapons that were locked away, so these were way too big for that.
The giant mechanical monster attacked what looked like a city with dozens of towering structures. All the buildings that stood in its way got demolished as it rained debris onto the ground. Most notably, a pink-haired child became caught in the middle of chaos as she remained helpless on the ground, something that bothered Mimil.
The screen then switched to a large man with a black coat.
"FINAL FUSION APPROVED!"
It then shifted a young woman with red pigtails.
"Roger! Final Fusion: Program Drive!"
Shortly after, the young woman smashed a glass protecting a button. The screen then shifted to what looked like a human-looking machine just as tall as the monster Mimil saw a few minutes ago. However, this one white and looked more human, except for a lion's head on the chest.
As the lion-humanoid machine twirled around, a whirl of green and blue energy surrounded it. Three vehicles then entered the vortex. The first was a ground vehicle with two drills at the front that folded as it went into the legs of the lion machine. The second was a train that entered from the side, becoming its shoulders. The last was a flying machine that latched onto the back. Two pods opened up to reveal metallic hands. The airborne unit even added an accessory to the lion's head and a new helmet, completing the combination and transformation.
Mimil stood with awe as the machine posed, and a male's voice screamed out.
"GAO! GAI! GAAAAAARRR!"
The lion-faced machine then proceeded to bash the enemy, even when it was in the process of regenerating its lost limbs. When it was finally a wreck, the robot then used some kind of ultimate attack, clasping its hands together before pulling out a purple orb serving as its core, ultimately destroying it.
The first show that was wholly animated was what brought her seeing other series found in Nunnally's world. Even then, she had mixed feelings, especially after what she did throughout her entire childhood.
I am not sure how I should feel about this
As Mimil continued to watch the show with Nunnally and Mizuko, Lelouch, Koyoi, and Olivie stood just outside to observe them.
"I have never seen Mimil so content," Olivie commented.
"She is allowed to be a child, not a soldier," Lelouch remarked. He could not help but think back to how his childhood came to an end when his mother died. "Once your days as a child are over, you will never get them back."
"But you still giving her new weapons and armor, too, aren't you?" Koyoi asked.
"I am," Lelouch admitted with notable reluctance. "As much as I would rather allow her to spend her youth as she wants, I know sooner or later Druella and her faction could find their way to Earth. It's more for the sake of preparation for an inevitable conflict."
"Yet you want her to live as a child," Olivie asked.
"If not for the threat of Druella, I would like her to live her childhood on her terms before it's gone," Lelouch answered with a sigh. "Anyway, if any of you are interested, I believe you are all ready to see Area 11."
"When?" Koyoi asked instantly.
"I would say in about a week or less once everyone's weapons and armors are complete," Lelouch answered before warning Koyoi. "But as I said, be prepared yourself for what's to come. Where we're heading…it will not be pleasant for you."
"I understand…I will be ready."
Back at Lilith's palace, the Demon Lord sat behind her desk in her study. Standing sadly, like a child who got scolded by its mother, was her daughter Druella. Standing nearby was her husband, and off to the side was Bapho-Chan and Mari. Present in the room was Runya Runya and Saphirette Spherica, called in by Lilith to assist in her research.
"I apologize for not handling the situation more properly, mother," Druella said, apologizing for her mishandling of the situation with Zero.
"Apologies alone will not earn my forgiveness," Lilith shot her daughter down. "Consider it fortunate that your punishment is less severe than it would be."
"Oh, my," Mari chuckled to the side. "And if I thought getting attacked by the Thunderbird wasn't enough trouble for her.
"That goes for you, too, Mari," Lilith turned to her tenth daughter, terrifying her to the point of being the total opposite of her usual self. "While inadvertent, you also share responsibility for making Zero an enemy of us. At least, it is convinced Lady Dil and Lady Meivia to reconsider their actions. Worse yet, it may have them reconsider their loyalties."
"With all due respect, mother, but I am doubtful they would betray us," Druella pointed out.
"Perhaps, but we shall see."
"As much as I would like to continue more with Zero, there is the matter we need to discuss, mother," Druella began to the confusion of some in the room. "This information about her, I believe, needs to be kept to a select few."
"What do you mean?" Runya Runya inquired, before drinking a cup of coffee.
"When we took over Lescatie, it appears that another faction was involved."
"Initially, I wanted to invade the nation much later than I anticipated, when the barrier protecting the capital had fallen. However, someone had already disabled it, prompting me to invade much earlier than scheduled."
"Didn't you say that Wilmarina disabled the barrier?" Mari asked.
"That's the part that concerns me," Druella answered with a nod. "The last time I fought against her, she already escaped with Zero."
"Are you saying that there could be two of them?" Druella's mother took interest and turned to her daughter.
"Possibly, but I am not sure how exactly."
"That would be an interesting find," a curious Saphirette admitted. "Could this Wilmarina be a Doppelganger?"
"We have already ruled that out," Druella replied. "We kept a close eye on her during a full moon, and she didn't revert to any kind of original form."
"Then what is she if that Wilmarina isn't the real one?" Mari asked.
"We don't know, but she does seem to be Wilmarina in a sense yet different from the one I faced," Druella answered. "She doesn't recall the fight between me in the prison cells, and I suspect she doesn't know anything about Zero."
"How unusual? Do you think she is a danger?" Lilith inquired before resting her chin on her hands. "Do you have any reason to suspect she'll betray us?"
"No," Druella shook her head, "I have watched her closely, and so far, she has been unquestionably loyal."
"I see," Lilith remarked. "Then, we'll continue to observe her for the time being."
And perhaps keep the truth away from that other Wilmarina, the Lilim did not want to admit it, but the fact she did not have a clue about Zero gave her a bad feeling. Despite being someone who hated dishonesty, she believed it should remain hidden lest something terrible happened.
"What's next, then?" Mari asked, restarting the conversation. "What are your plans for Lescatie?"
"Securing the new Demon Realm should be a priority," Lilith admitted. "But that's the only task I'll allow your elder sister to do. Other than that, you'll work with me and the other personnel I recruit to investigate the mysteries of Zero and the other world."
"You're talking about the mysterious doorways," Saphirette inquired with Runya Runya equally curious. "It's a shame that he escaped."
"True, but that also reminds me," Lilith changed to another subject. "I've been talking to the Gods recently about current events and new findings, including Zero and his unusual powers."
"And?" Druella asked.
"I found something unusual from Poseidon," Lilith answered before explaining to the gathering. "She says one of her followers has been going missing on occasion. She is not in trouble, for if she were, it would provoke even her wrath. However, she continuously disappears after her duties, only to reappear when she's needed again."
"That is very unusual," Runya Runya admitted. "Anything else?"
"No, but so far, we narrowed down the area to one of the islands on Court Alf," Lilith answered. "The Great Songstress promised to look into the matter and entrusted Lady Arial to investigate. If anything, it could lead to us finding any doorways."
"That will surely be an interesting find," Saphirette acknowledged, interested in the recent development. "It would be something worth submitting to the Wandering Scholar."
The Demon Lord and the others were not so sure about that. However, the recent bizarre mysteries behind Zero have caused her to be sharp on other strange occurrences. A priestess of the sea repeatedly disappearing would be one such occurrence, and she wondered if this incident had a connection that would eventually lead to Zero.
A/N: If was there one thing I was very uncertain about this chapter it would be Mimil watching anime with Nunnally and Mizuko, but I'll let you guys if me and Jameyofthemegacosmos went too far with it or was it just right.
Wilmarina is one her way of getting a potent replacement sword to the blade that acted as the chain that bound her to a life she didn't want.
However, with this chapter I can put up a new poll on my profile, which is a question me and Jameyofthemegacosmos have been working on answering for something planned in upcoming chapters.
And lastly, we have some concerning implications Mizuko's disappearance has not gone unnoticed.
But next chapter Wilmarina and the others get to see Area 11.
Thank you in advance for your review and feedback.