Dragon of the Eldritch

Naturally, the second attempt to return to the underworld had been more uneasy and nervous for the two groups of devils. Needless to say, they were all rather grateful and relieved when they arrived, stepping safely off into Gremory territory.

They did, however, expect Rias and Sona to be immediately "attacked" on arrival.

"SOOOOOONA!" Serafall declared, instantly pulling her younger sister into a tight, almost desperate hug. "I was so worried about you! I thought the Eldritch were going to ravish your adorable head."

"Not an inaccurate concern," Sona murmured, begrudgingly allowing her sister this. After all, she was inwardly glad to be home as well after everything that happened.

"Rias!" Zeoticus said, instantly upon his daughter, hands on her shoulders as he looked her up and down. "Are you alright? They didn't do anything to you, did they?"

Rias smiled in assurance. "I'm fine, Father," she said, pulling him into a hug. Zeoticus only paused for a second before embracing her wholeheartedly.

"You all gave us quite a fright," Venelana said, approaching with Lord and Lady Sitri.

"When we heard of the train crashing, we feared the worse until your message," Lord Sitri said, waiting for Sona to wiggle herself out of Serafall's grip before taking her into an embrace of his own, his wife joining as well.

"Crash?" Akeno repeated with a raised eyebrow.

"Well, the front half that made it through," Sirzech explained, smiling at his sister and her peerage with Grafia by his side. "It's glad to see you are all safe and sound. Sona, I'm sure you wish to return to Sitri territory soon, but may I borrow you and Rias for a moment?"

Sona frowned. "Lord Lucifer, you may wish for our Queens to stay as well. They were present for events we didn't see ourselves."

Not losing a beat, Sirzech nodded in acceptance. "The rest of you may go and relax. We shouldn't be long."

Most of the young devils headed off, guided by Grafia. Venelana took this chance to give Rias a hug as well, kissing her on the forehead.

"Ahem," Rias cleared her throat with a small blush, Venelana giggling at Rias's reaction. "As we said before, our train was locked between realms by an Eldritch, who sent her servants to attack us."

"Rias and I were in another compartment, and they were both cut off from one another," Sona elaborated. "We were forced to fight something that looked like a Harpy but clearly...was more than that."

They all shared Sona's unease as Zeoticus turn to Tsubaki and Akeno. "And you, young ladies? What did the rest of you face?"

"In all seriousness, My Lord?" Akeno started with a frown. "Something like a cross between a pear and spider, with these...spiked, tongue-like things on the humps."

"There were a great many of them," Tsubaki picked up. "They seemed to be determined to make us suffer for some crime."

"Crime?" Sirzech said with narrowed eyes. "Did they say what?"

"They just kept calling us Black-wings, and that we angered the Eldritch Queen," Tsubaki answered.

"They were sent by the Queen herself?" Lord Sitri asked, all of them paling at the implications.

"No, we know they weren't," Sona said bluntly, taking a deep sigh. "There is no gentle way to say this. We met the Daemon Sultana."

Silence filled the area.

"You...met her?" Venealana asked, looking as if her daughter had survived the worst possible thing and come out fine. Which wasn't entirely inaccurate.

"Issei Hyoudou arrived and helped us, even sharing how to defeat these creatures," Akeno informed with a smile. "He then proceeded to venture into the area Rias and Sona were trapped in to aid them."

"And aid he did," Rias said with a grateful look. "After that, well...it's a bit complicated, but due to the nature of the trap, our peerages were stranded on an Eldritch prison on Jupiter."

Zeoticus wiped a hand over his face. "That is...a lot to take in. But you met the Queen during all this?"

"Well, Sona and Rias did," Akeno answered. "Apparently she had to do...paperwork to let us out."

"The Eldrtich have paperwork?" Serzech asked in honest surprise.

"The Eldritch use paper?" Lady Sitri questioned.

"Yes they do, and no...no they don't," Rias answered. The adults wisely didn't question that one for now. "When Sona and I awoke, we were back in the human world, at my clubhouse."

"Issei Hyoudou and other Eldritch Gods aided us in retrieving our servants. The...guards were, actually, quite hospitable and understanding about everything," Sona explained.

"You mean the giant bugs?" Serafall questioned curiously, getting a reluctant nod.

"But if the Queen didn't send them after you, who did?" Serzech questioned.

"The Black Pharoah."

Rias, Sona, Tsubaki, and Akeno instantly found themselves almost hurled behind the adult devils as they pointed magic circles at the voice.

There, on top of the train, was a horseman. Not a rider, but a being that was horse and man both. Yet It was no centaur, no.

The Horse-part was a full horse, however malformed, with the man-half appearing to be fused onto the back. Both were made of twisted, grey flesh that was ripped and torn all about. Purple flesh roped in and out of the gaps as if tieing it all together. The horse's legs mutated and misshaped, one looking backward while another had a smaller leg growing off of it. The horse head was an abomination onto itself, looking as if it had been split in two by a great axe, and only partially put itself back together.

The rider was cloaked in his own twisted skin, and only a vile, dim light could be seen beneath his hood where his face should be. In his hands, he held a large and twisted halberd, its color purple, and its presence filled the air with dread.

"Dismiss your magics, Devils. Your doom does not come today," the eldritch called out in warning.

"Who are you? And why are you here?" Serzech asked pointedly.

"What a great ruin your power shines with, Crimson Satan," it called out in praise. "My name is the same in every tongue. Among the Eldritch, it is La'gussun. I was tasked by Yog-Sothoth and Great Azathoth-"

Several of them flinched at the names.

"To guard these child devils to their home, and fend off the machinations of the Crawling Chaos," La'gussun answered civilly.

"We weren't told of that," Tsubaki said with a frown, wondering if it was a trick.

"The Daemon Sultana would not think to, and I have little doubt the Lurker of Time found it amusing not to," La'gussun remarked knowingly. "Tell me, do you think I would use their names so lightly if I wasn't here at their bidding?"

The devils shared a look before slowly lowering their hands and dispelling their magic.

"If that is true, we thank you," Zeoticus said, frowning despite his thanks as he glanced at the "horse-half" of La'gussun. "I would offer you a place at the tables, but..."

"I do not require your thanks, but there is another matter I am here for," La'gussun informed.

"There is?" Rias asked, furrowing her brow. Given everything she had experienced, she wasn't sure if this would be pleasant or not.

Both heads of La'gussun nodded. "I come bearing a request. In light of the recent tension our kind has brought to your own and others, our ruler would like to speak to you."

Sona narrowed her eyes and Akeno rose an eyebrow.

Serzech looked to Serafall, who was suddenly more serious than normal. "Where and when would this meeting take place?" Serafall asked with a wary frown.

"Right now," La'gussun said, head tilting up to look behind the devils.

They were all too aware of the sound of a portal opening, turning to see a grey, yellow vortex. And from it emerged three figures.

Rias recognized all three of them instantly. Yog-Sothoth looked as smug and amused as ever, while Yidrah had her mask between patience and disinterest. And finally... "Issei?"

"Yo!" he greeted with a smile.

One Week Later

"Here is your soda, Master."

Issei smiled and took the offered glass of ice and pop. "Thank you, Nctosa."

The daughter of Cthulhu bowed elegantly. She, like her sister, was currently in human form and wearing maid outfits that were sexy but still covering enough to be called clothing. Albeit, the tops were shoulderless, giving him a prime view of their breasts. Ignoring the legs, their human forms looked almost identical to their true selves, except their skin was a dark tan instead of purple, their white hair was less unnatural looking and reminded him of Koneko's, and they traded in their skimpy jewelry for the maid outfits.

Complete with chokers that had a blank medallion on them, reserved for when he had a proper symbol or seal associated with himself.

"Ncothlu, that isn't how you prepare a bed."

"Sorry, Miss Asia," the other twin apologized, causing Issei to glance at the open door to the Eldritch Guest bedroom, AKA Asia's room

"That's alright. Here, let me show you," Asia said with an encouraging smile.

It had been a week since everything happened. After some assurances, the twins gradually stopped being actively afraid of Aza and settled into the roles of being maids. Asia had taken it upon herself to help teach them all the little things they'd need to know. How to make a bed, use a vacuum cleaner, do laundry, etc. They had taken to it rather quickly, likely wanting to prove useful to avoid being sent back to Jupiter.

That said...

Issei glanced to Nctosa, who was now standing beside his chair, staring keenly ahead at nothing- and actually nothing. He wasn't sure how to describe it, but he knew she wasn't staring at something only Eldritch could see, her eyes were literally not looking at anything but the wall.

"You know you can relax a bit, right?" Issei offered in concern.

"Master?" Nctosa asked curiously, looking down at him with inquisitive red eyes.

"You feel a bit wound up. You can relax and take a break if you want," Issei suggested.

"You do not need to be concerned, Master, but thank you," Nctosa said with a smile. "But if your order still stands, may I return to my room?"

Issei nodded, watching with confused amusement as she went over to his bed and then effortlessly slid under it. Aza, bless her, had decided that his servants should have a bedroom right below his bed, and made some shadowy pocket space for them to slip into.

He idly wondered what was even in that "room" but was more concerned with the twins themselves. "All they do is maid stuff and then go to their room. With how much they wanted out, you'd think they'd be feeling a bit cooped up."

"Oh, what a good and adorable Kungur you are."

Issei looked forward, unsurprised to see that Yog was sitting on his desk, right in front of him with her legs open. "You know...if you were wearing a skirt, I'd be able to see your panties."

"Bold to assume I wear any," Yog said with a chuckle. "Why, disappointed by that, Issei?"

"No, just starting to think you picked that outfit just for this moment," Issei remarked, getting chuckles from the time god. "So, you got some advice about the twins?"

"Issei, they already told you: they will do what you say and nothing else," Yog reminded coyly. "They meant that literally."

"A bit too literally," Issei remarked in exasperation. "Look, I know they're not normal people, but..."

"You're worried they'll stress too much about not getting in trouble," Yog remarked. "Issei, I will say this is actually a good thing for them. That said, it is sweet that you're not keeping them on a short leash."

"It's just...I haven't seen these troublemakers everyone talks about them being," Issei said with a frown.

"I'll show you what they use to be like another time," Yog assured. "Look, they know this is their last chance to avoid a much longer sentence. Don't be afraid to punish them when they do mess up, and they'll learn like a fish learning to fly."

"...Is that an eldritch or evolution reference?" Issei asked with a raised eyebrow. "So...did you stop by for anything else?"

"Nope!" Yog answered with a beaming smile. "Can't a Grand Vizer want to spend some time with her Sultan?"

"Is...That's not any of your titles, is it?" Issei guessed with a furrowed brow.

"No, but it is fitting. I'm basically Azathoth's time-traveling right hand," Yog pointed out.

"Can't...really argue with that," Issei conceded slowly. "Yog...can you be serious with me for a moment?"

Yog sat up straighter, her jovial expression slipping away. "Yes. And I already know you have only one possible question right now," she said sincerely. "You're fully starting to accept this notion of being our king. That we don't care that you're more on the human end of power for now. So you want to know, what do we expect of you? What do "I" expect of you?"

Issei was surprised only for a moment before chuckling. "Yeah, I guess you already saw that coming."

"Kungur," Yog said firmly. "I "am" time. I know everything that might happen, with only certain entities able to hide from my sight over the timeline. And I can safely tell you how Time sees the difference between mortals, immortals, and eternals."

"You mean besides living longer?" Issei asked rhetorically.

Yog didn't even smile, didn't even look amused. She just placed her sword before her and leaned on it as if it were a staff. "Tell me, Kungur? Do you know what a Decision is? I mean what it actually, really is?"

"Are we getting into the topic of free will?" Iseei inquired with a frown.

"It's an equation. Or, more accurately, it's the result of an equation," Yog explained. "Mortals are entirely limited by the information they can obtain. This limitation to their understanding is what allows them to make so many varying answers. The slightest, most unimportant information can change the result. Immortals have more fixed points in their variables. Only under certain circumstances will their answer vary outside their normal parameters."

"Okay...should I guess that Eternals are entirely fixed in their equations?" Issei guessed with a furrowed brow.

"Yes. The decisions might not always make sense, but there are no true variables in our timelines. We might choose a different time or place to do something, but most often, we will do it all the same. Such as Azathoth turning you into an Eldritch and our Kungur. There is no reality where she does anything else. She would never stop waiting on you, never resent you, never truly try to force you, and never ever do anything to harm you," Yog explained.

Issei was prepared to make a joke about Aza hurting him in pleasant ways. Not the masochistic sense so much as nails claws at his back. But the sheer seriousness of Yog kept his humor at bay. "You make it seem like mortals have free will and we don't."

"No, we do. I randomly hop into other timelines to search for random patterns," Yog answered. "The issue we have here, Issei, is that you're equating free will with having multiple branches in the timelines."

"I mean, yeah. If timelines exist, that means every decision has an impact, right?" Issei questioned. "Ripple effects and all that?"

"Despite what Ray Bradbury claims, no. It's not that simple," Yog said, tapping her sword.

Issei raised an eyebrow as three lines of ethereal light appeared in the air.

Yog pointed to the middle one. "One butterfly flaps its wing an extra time."

"...Okay?" Issei answered questioningly, seeing nothing happening.

"A third, a fourth, a fifth," Yog continued, but nothing happened. "One more."

Now one finally branched off.

Issei raised an eyebrow at her and the display. "Okay, six a special number?"

"No. A child saw the butterfly, and the beautiful wings inspired them to become one of the greatest painters the world has ever known," Yog explained. "There are a million changes you can make to a timeline, but they won't alter it unless they are the RIGHT changes."

"So, mortals are easily changed by random things, but no one cares if your dog chases its tail for the day instead of gnawing a chew toy," Issei mused.

"A good way of thinking about it," Yog said, looking at the lines. "Mortals see linear time like tree branches, diverging from different points as the branches expand. I see it more...well, this is a simplified way of how I see it."

She tapped her staff against and the lights reshaped into a large pattern of interconnecting lines. It wasn't branches, more like a system of cracks that the light was forcing its way through.

"...Slightly lost, but I think I almost get it?" Issei mused.

"A future can have multiple pasts. Different events can lead to the same outcome. For instance, there is a timeline where the entire history of humans is the same, but they are descended from rodents instead of apes," Yog explained.

"There's a joke there," Issei muttered thoughtfully.

"Despite subtle differences, the entire timeline is virtually identical," Yog explained. "Now, the timeline where you have primate-humans and rodent-humans at the same time? Short of a quick genocide by either side, those paths have no chance of reaching the path of this timeline."

"Okay, I'm following you. I think. Maybe more than I should be able to," Issei muttered. "But Devils seem to be like normal people, personality-wise, so why do they have fewer variables?"

"Issei, most mortals live with a great deal of confusion and uncertainty their entire lives. Most of the supernatural world knows about the gods, afterlives, and much more. They have fewer questions and therefore are less likely to make different decisions in a given situation."

"For instance?" Issei asked curiously.

"There is no reality in which you didn't help Koneko Toujo," Yog explained bluntly, dismissing the cracks of timelines."The only variable was when and who had the nerve to ask you. Usually, it was Akeno or Rias. Often around the time it happened anyway. But someone was always going to ask at some point."

"...And I was always going to say yes," Issei concluded.

Yog nodded meaningfully. "In the grand schemes? For mortals, each choice on its own has very little influence over reality. The opposite is true for Eldritch. We are who we are. As there are much fewer potential outcomes, each decision we make carries greater weight."

"I...okay? That's good to know, but I'm not sure how that pertains to my question?" Issei asked in bewilderment.

"Because you were always going to have this moment when it began to sink in and stick. The biggest question was when you would," Yog explained. "I expect you to do what you want to do. Right and wrong don't apply to our mindset. If I were to save someone in the timeline, it's because I want to. Why I want to is the variable. Is this person important? Am I just feeling like taking pity on a mortal whose death wouldn't change anything important? Or perhaps I want them to meet a crueler fate? Something far more convoluted and nonsensical? Who knows. The point is, an Eldritch very rarely ever faces the issue of doing anything they don't want to do."

Issei stared at her, taking that in. It made a lot of sense. Eldritch largely did what they wanted. Well, the Gods did...

"Ahh, that," Yog said with a hum, already knowing what he was about to ask. "What about the lesser Eldritch, who have to obey the Gods? Our servants and spawnlings? The answer is simple: Even if they don't like it, they still want to do it. Because they would rather obey than face the consequences. And to an eldritch, not wanting to commit an alternative action is the same as wanting to the intended action."

"Huh. So it's not just hedonism or something like it," Issei muttered. "So, you're telling me to do what I want?"

Yog dropped her serious look and returned to her teasing look. "Or do WHO you want. After all, you're already building a good harem. Aza at the head with the twins, Aika, and Asia."

"That-I- Aika is the family dog at most!" Issei spat out in annoyance.

"Oh, how kinky. Don't be surprised if she has dog ears and tails with a collar next time you use her," Yog said with a chuckle. "But I'm not joking, she will be your dog if you want her to."

"Yes! I know! It's tempting on the face of it!" Issei said with a hand over his face.

"May I ask why you have an issue with her?" Yog asked curiously. "I'm deliberately not looking ahead for this, I want to hear it myself."

"Two reasons. One, she is as perverted as I ever was, if not worse, but got a pass most of the time because she's a girl," Issei said in annoyance. "Second...I feel like having her in a harem is to risk her usurping it from you."

Yog blinked, stroking her chin in consideration. "You know, with anyone but you...you might actually have a point. She definitely had some potential timelines for having a lesbian harem before you accepted Aza's offer."

"And now?" Issei asked with a head tilt.

"Again, she is your DOG if you want her," Yog repeated blankly. "Issei, that girl is happy, on principle to let you fuck her, kill her, and resurrect her to fuck her again."

"I...okay, not what I had planned,' Issei said in surprise.

"So, my foolishly wise king, what do you want to do?" Yog asked encouragingly.

"You already know, don't you?" Issei asked, more amused than annoyed.

Yog smiled. "You are who you are, Issei. There are a lot of variables to you still, but some things are just in your nature."

Issei shook his head. "Did you already set everything up?"

"Issei, you insult me," Yog said in mock offense. "I already did all that when we sent the devils home. Granted, I did it a few minutes ago when you weren't looking."

Issei's eyebrow twitched. "I feel like we've had this conversation several times already."

Yog looked sheepish-

Yog just grinned mysteriously.

Issei sighed and rose from his seat. "Asia, girls! I'm heading out for a bit! Have a good time with Nctosa and Nctolhu!"

"Okay, have a good time!" Asia called back with a smile. "Hmm, I wonder where he's going?"

One Week Earlier

"Who is this?" Lord Sitri asked with a frown.

"Issei Hyoudou," Sona answered uneasily. "He's-"

"My Lord," La'gussun greeted, trotting around the devils to approach the Eldritch trio.

"Oh, hey. La'gu, right?" Issei greeted. "Thanks for guarding everybody home."

"It was no trouble. The Crawling Chaos has taken her mischief elsewhere," La'gussun said, both his human and horse head bowing to the Eldritch Gods.

"I'm guessing Yog got you to deliver this message too?" he asked, giving Yog a knowing look.

"The second one did," La'gussun mused. "I take it these were two separate requests?"

"It was more convenient that way," Yog said pridefully.

"Do you have any more use of me, Outer Ones?" La'gussun questioned idly.

"Naw. We're good," Issei assured with a nod.

La'gussun nodded his luminous head, disappearing as his body turned into a sulfuric, putrid mist.

"Sorry about all that," Issei said with a smile to the devils. "Now, I think we need to talk."

End of Chapter

Well, not a lot happened, and yet at the same time, it kind of did. Issei got an interesting talk from Yog, and Issei is taking some initiaive with this whole Eldritch Knig thing. Also yea,h Eldritch have an entirely different view on time and relationship with timelines.

But more importantly, Issei deecided to have a talk with the devils on thier home erk. Which can either be taken as being polite or as being intimidating.

And way, until next time!

Early viewing of chapters 20-21 avaliable on my pat-reon:

p a treon . com (slash) akumakami64