"Thank you for coming, Madam Yi."

"It is no trouble, Devil Princess," Yidrah assured, sitting on a couch with Koneko seated right in front of her. The neko was kneeling on the floor, eyes in a trance while the Outer Goddess's fingertips gently moved on the scalp. "The Kungur desires this one heals, and I would not see his will unsatisfied."

"You among others," Rias said, glancing around for a moment. Kiba was out practicing and Akeno was...still with Issei, and Rias wasn't sure she wanted to know what they were doing. "May I ask a question?"

"I will not forbid you from idle chatter," Yidrah answered simply, focusing still on the neko.

"It's about Issei," Rias said before frowning. "Or I suppose I should say the Kun-"

"I do not believe the Kungur would be displeased to have his name on your lips, She-Devil of Ruin," Yidrah remarked suddenly. "Do not stress over his title. He considers you a friend of sorts."

Rias was appreciating that sentiment more and more. "I take it you heard about what happened with...the Goat of a Thousand Young?"

"Shub, yes," Yidrah acknowledged. "What question do you have of her and the Kungur? They have not yet copopulated together yet if that is your inquiry."

Rias chose not to dwell on the "yet" of that statement. "No. It's just that she suddenly became...very afraid when Issei showed up."

"She had the ire of the King of the Eldritch on her, or on her spawn. Of course even she might tremble before such a thing," Yidrah answered.

"It's just...it felt like she was scared of Issei himself, not what the Queen might do," Rias explained uncertainly. "But Issei is still mostly human, isn't he? Nowhere near an Outer God yet?"

"You are correct in your observation, but not in your conclusion," Yidrah answered, looking almost amused.

"What do you mean?" Rias asked in confusion.

"We Eldritch are eternal, Rias Gremory," Yidrah answered softly. "Issei will one day rival or match the Daemon Sultana in all her terrible glory. That is a fact now. And no matter how far away that time is, how many unfathomed ages it takes, we will still be there when he beomes such. The idea of displeasing him now is no different than displeasing him in strange eons yet to come when he has all the might to tear the universe asunder himself. If anything, it is more terrible to do so now, knowing the time of your judgment is always ticking. Like Death for you mortals, but worse."

Rias stared silently, taking that all in. She sometimes had trouble grasping that time was different for Eldritch. Issei's complete ascension was beyond any horizon she could grasp. But to these eternal beings? In some ways, it had already happened for them.

Issei was King of the Eldritch, the only one that could rival Azathoth. It didn't matter when his power would come in full, just that it would. It was inevitable and unavoidable for them, no different than the passing from day to night.

"Your feline is adapting very well," Yidrah remarked suddenly. "Her mind is much easier to tend to this time."

"Not to sound accusing, but are you sure she is not just getting too used to your...powers in her mind?" Rias asked in concern.

"It is a fair consideration that I have already accounted for. She will not become fixated on me or any other unwillingly," Yidrah answered with a hum. "Exposure and healing. It can create a tolerance, a resistance. Even an immunity, to some extent."

"At the risk of her mind being lost entirely," Rias remarked softly.

"Such is the gap between we Eldritch and all others. We know the unknowable. And that in turn makes us similarly unknowable in many manners," Yidrah said, removing her hands and gently stroking Koneko's hair. "Our King is the bridge over that gap."

Rias raised an eyebrow. "You mean, Issei might actually be able to have the Eldritch coexist with others? Beyond just ignoring each other, I mean."

"I mean that our Kungur was a human, and I doubt he will ever lose sight of where he began," Yidrah answered with something approaching fondness. "It is by his will that many work together to keep this world from being destroyed. True, many would do that regardless, myself among them. Earth is of import to numerous Eldritch. But the Daemon Sultan has placed many in check, knowing to act would risk the wrath of the eldritch majesties."

Rias pondered on that. The supernatural world was tense with fear over the many Eldritch that were coming to Earth. The Eldritch themselves were wary of causing issues for the supernatural world because of Issei's desire to keep Earth from falling to ruin.

Koneko suddenly looked up, eyes sharp and focused once more. "...Issei sent you," she remarked to Yidrah. "Thank you."

Yidrah gave a ghost of a smile. "It was of no trouble. The Kungur would be sad if you were lost in the broken shards of your own mind."

Koneko looked a bit annoyed by the description but kept to the topic. "He wouldn't punish you for failing."

"To some, his sadness would be punishment enough," Yidrah said with a knowing look in her eye. "I shall take my leave, now that this matter is tended to."

"Thank you again, Madam Yi," Rias said respectfully as the Eldritch Goddess rose.

Yidrah hummed as she paused with a glance at Rias. "I hope the matter of Shub's cult and the assailant is being dealt with?"

Rias nodded, deciding to choose her words carefully. "They'll be arresting him tomorrow, and turning him over to the cult soon after."

"Good. The more days you have to spare, the less there is to worry about," Yidrah said with a sigh. "I would rather not have to deal with the fallout of a Dark Young being set loose on Earth, even if it was only to get to Hell. I suppose it would have to manifest as a small earthquake or twister to the minds of the mundane mortals."

Rias said nothing to that, knowing perfectly well that the average human witnessed Eldritch events as something horrible but normal. Mountain slides, generators exploding, etc. It was almost enviable, how easy it was to hide from the mundane world, if not for the fact their "camouflage" was just forcing mundane minds to use their sanity to misinterpret what they saw as something...safer to perceive. Only when an Eldritch wanted to be truly seen, or just didn't care about hiding, did a normal human see them truly and terribly.

"Yi."

Yidrah looked back to Koneko, who was staring at her with a rather curious look. "Yes, Little Neko?"

"Are you slurping his tentacles yet or not?"

Meanwhile

"So, you are...or were a fallen angel?" Issei asked curiously.

Akeno scowled a bit as she sat at the dining table, dressed in a house coat over her underwear. Not that it mattered much, given how much Issei had seen. Her hair was down, still shining from her shower.

"Sorry, sore subject?" Issei asked, passing her a cup of coffee. "Couldn't help noticing the mismatched wings last night."

"Somewhat. Why do you ask?" she asked neutrally.

"I was just wondering if you were a devil-fallen hybrid, was that a side effect of reincarnating a fallen angel, what?" Issei asked curiously.

Akeno tilted her head. She supposed that was a fair question. "I was born a fallen-human hybrid until I was reincarnated as a devil became Rias's queen. I can normally disguise my other wing as a devil's, but it …slips out sometimes," she said, trying to make a suggestive smile that didn't reach her eyes. "I'm sorry if that was almost a turn-off. I'm sure you have plenty of reason to find fallen wings distasteful."

"What do you- oh, right, that bunch. Honestly, them being Fallen Angles never really registered since I was too busy dealing with...everything Aza revealed to me," Issei recalled. "I don't really have anything against the group, so don't worry about that. I actually thought your wings were kind of pretty."

Akeno looked surprised before putting on her lewd look. "Why, my dear Kungur? Sweet talking me again already? I just got cleaned up. I'll never get back to Rias if you keep saying such things~"

Issei chuckled at that.

"By the way, what is this place?" Akeno asked curiously, looking around the apartment. "Is this another expansion in your room? Is Asia nearby, perhaps?"

"Oh, no. You know the generalist cults? The Cults for Eldritch worshippers not yet unaligned with any specific god? Yeah, they have a few empty apartments and hideouts all over the worlds," Issei informed causally.

"Really? What for?" Akeno asked in surprise.

"Meeting places, safe places for members in hiding to stay, spare places for their gods to crash. Some weird little things take care of the places. I don't think you have a word for them, but they're like Eldritch Fairies- do not look for them, trust me," Issei advised quickly as Akeno started to do just that.

"I see," Akeno said with a hum as she took a long drink of coffee. "So, Issei? What are we?"

"Funny, I was about to ask you that myself," Issei admitted with amusement

"I suppose I should be clear, what do you want it to be?" Akeno asked curiously. "Aza has been rather obvious in how little she cares if you fuck others. I'm surprised you said I was the first person you've slept with that wasn't Aza."

Issei shrugged. "I'm not the kind of guy that wants only a screw and nothing else from a woman."

"So, a relationship, not just a fling," Akeno said with a smile. "I was hoping so. Now, eventually? I might just not mind becoming a family pet for you and Aza."

Issei smirked a bit, enjoying that image a bit. "As hot as that would be, I'm not an ass. I'm not going to tear you away from Rias and the others."

"Hmm, how about we settle for being friends with benefits, attempting to date?" Akeno suggested with a smile. "Then, oh King of the Eldritch? I'll join your harem~"

"That would be amazing," Issei agreed with a chuckle. "Though, you realize that part of your duties in this relationship is helping reign in Aza's misunderstandings about mortals?"

"You say as if I would do anything else," Akeno teased playfully. "Speaking of her, should I be worried? I mean in terms of my sanity staying intact?"

"No, I've been keeping a mental eye on yours this entire time. For the most part, you're actually very sturdy against Eldritch influence wearing on your mind," Issei noted curiously. "Which is weird. Being around Aza when she's careful would give you some tolerance, but not this much."

"Hmmm, maybe you...vaccinated me last night?" Akeno theorized suggestively.

Issei gave a laugh. "By the way? You don't have to worry about getting pregnant. One of the first things I learned was how to turn my fertility off."

"That's almost disappointing. Kind of takes a thrill out of it," Akeno all but purred.

"...Do you have a breeding kink?" Issei asked with playfully narrowed eyes.

"I believe you should ask Shub that question, according to Aza," Akeno commented with a giggle. "I suppose I should be grateful for your consideration. Though, if you did impregnate... anyone that wasn't a god, would that be a problem?"

"My lack of answer is exactly why I turned the fertility off," Issei muttered with a sigh. "Granted, that's not the only way I have to worry about having kids."

"I'll be nice and not make the obvious joke there," Akeno said. "So, I have to ask, but is Aza expecting me to date and sleep with her too?"

Issei rose an eyebrow.

"Oh, don't worry. I'm not opposed personally," Akeno said with a wink. "I'm not exactly eager to stress test my sanity, but I'm not clear how Aza sees you having a harem still. Does she see it as both of you sharing a harem...?"

"No, she just sees you as her mortal friend. I mean, I know she's down for me sleeping with her and another woman at the same time, as long as it's not her daughters. Or her niece," Issei explained.

"I...Aza has a niece?" Akeno repeated in surprise. "Hmm, hadn't heard that yet."

"She hasn't explained it to me yet either. Yog makes it out to be a funny story though," Issei mused. "So, what now?"

"You mean right now, or for us?" Akeno asked with amusement.

"Oh, I already have plans for us. I just need to know the next day you're free," Issei answered with a grin.

"Bold. I like it," Akeno mused. "I'll have to get back to you on that. I know we were all doing a bit of training soon."

"Fair enough. As for right now, well, would you mind me walking you home after we get dressed?" Issei offered with a smile.

"Issei, I'd be disappointed if you didn't."

"Can't have that."

Meanwhile

"She actually came out here?"

Yad nodded solemnly as she stood near the edge of the universe with Aza. "Yes, my Queen. She has not left the universe proper, but nearly."

Aza shook her head. "I knew Yog was upset, but I didn't expect her to nearly run to her parents. I love my children, but I know you both hate being around them."

Yad made a face before banishing it. "The chaos they cause out in the nothingness can prove a great distraction from the racing thoughts she doesn't want to deal with."

Aza nodded. "Thank you, Yad. Please keep an eye on things while I have a talk with her."

Yad vanished into nothingness, while Aza flew forth. She could hear and feel the climactic turmoil of her two children off in the vast distance, but she ignored it as best she could. She loved her children, but she didn't want to get in the middle of these.

Aza soon found what she was looking for. The frozen, ruined crust of some long destroyed planet. Like an apple devoured from the inside out, only the broken shell remained. And of that, a mere skeleton remained.

She descended upon that dead world, finding the surface scorched black and frozen blue. Nothing was here, nothing was meant to be here. Not even Time.

But Time was here indeed.

"Yog, come out. I know you're there," Aza called out, only silence greeting her. "Yog, I will grind up this place up and eat it if you don't come out here. I'm missing out on asking Akeno what her time with Issei was like!"

There was a different silence in the air now. She waited patiently as something slithered out of the shattered world. Large, liquid tentacles and fleshy spheres that were like eyes. They came out to form a body resembling a star system, before vanishing as Yog took her human form and came down to meet the queen.

"Issei already got with Akeno?" Yog asked with some surprise. "That's strange, most paths had him still in his accidental workaholic streak for a few more weeks."

"There was...an incident with Shub," Aza informed carefully.

"The cultists, I know about-" Yog stopped in dread at the look on Aza's face. "There was another...?"

"Igartha attacked the she-devil of Ruin and her servants," Aza informed slowly. "She came to defend her child, but..."

"But what? " Yog asked, almost afraid to look now. "Is Issei mad that their sanity was harmed? We can heal them."

Aza stared long and hard at Yog. "Issei stepped in to stop Shub."

Yog didn't speak. No part of her entire existence moved. Eldritch across space was vaguely aware of Time itself pausing for an instant.

With a single motion, Yog pulled out her sword, slashing the air to create a time portal. Through it, she viewed the event she desired and dreaded to see.

She saw Igartha attack the devils in senseless vengeance, but beaten rather thoroughly.

She saw Shub take to the field and force the devils to spare her son.

Yog's hands trembled as Shub's face melted into fear and Issei came into view.

She saw Shub cowering before Issei.

She saw Shub forced to attack her own child to save him from the Kungur's wrath.

She saw Shub's sorrow and fears and wanted to erase them.

Without thought or consideration, she tried to enter the portal, only to find herself rejected, blocked, and pushed back.

"What? Aza! What is this? Why have you locked this moment in time!?" Yog all but demanded. It wasn't something Aza often did, hardly ever really, but it was something she could easily do.

Aza rose an eyebrow. "I haven't done anything, Yog."

Yog stared as understanding drew near. "Issei did this."

"Subconsciously at least, Issei wants this to remain," Aza remarked. "Why, I can't say for sure, but I have a few ideas that might all be corrected."

Yog was torn between being filled with anger and sorrow. "I will convince him to undo this."

"Will you?" Aza challenged knowingly. "He isn't going to allow you to keep resetting until you convince him, Yog. He's said that much to me. He can't really ignore it like I can."

"Aza, you KNOW why I do that," Yog said in frustration. "Why couldn't he have gained that later? When a few seconds of Deja-vu would be something to brush off?"

Aza chuckled. "Yog, we both know he was always going to notice and it was always going to be upsetting for you. You DO realize Issei doesn't want to humiliate you unless that's your kink, right?"

Yog almost laughed at that but just looked away in the end. "I'm just scared alright. I can't...see any likely path around him anymore. I don't know if he'll leave me be or just forbid me from doing it at all when conversing with other Gods. And all of that is ignoring the fact that I need to talk to him about whatever is going on with Shub and Iggy."

"None of which you can do while hiding out here, listening to your parents have eternal war-sex."

Meanwhile

"And you're SURE about this, Irina?"

The pig-tailed woman rolled her eyes. "Xenovia, we've been over this! I've been literally interrogated about this! Yes, it is the same Iss-"

Xenovia quickly covered her mouth. "Don't say his name, you idiot!" she hissed, glancing around the ferry. It was lightly filled with people, but none paying them attention. "You don't know who or what might be listening. you want to drop mind-shattering madness on these pour souls?"

"No, it's just..." Irina made a face. "I have a hard time believing it sometimes. That funny little friend of mine, he didn't even realize I was a girl for the longest time. And he's...connected to the Eldritch?"

"According to the angels themselves, he has become a lover to the Daemon Sultana herself," Xenovia said gravely. "We can't make a move against him, the church knows this well. To do so would be suicide for the entire planet. God himself does not wish to see the end of the world."

Irina nodded absently. "So they want me to find out how much of my friend is there, find out if we don't need to prepare for an apocalypse."

"Supposedly he is holding the Eldritch Gods in check, in some way," Xenovia said with a frown. "But he could just be planning to do it himself, to crown himself the Mad-King of the insanity he would unleash upon us."

Irina frowned. "And then there is...that last resort we have."

Xenovia sighed as the salty ocean air washed over them. "Let us pray to God it does not come to that."

Irina did, she truly did.

End of Chapter

Well, all of that happened. Another healing session for Koneko's poor noggin, Issei and Akeno enjoying their afterglow, and more stuff happening. Hope you all enjoyed this!

Early viewing of chapters 30-31 avaliable on my pat-reon:

p a treon . com (slash) akumakami64