Author's Note: Better late than never, eh? Terribly sorry for the delay, Uni got in the way on AdV's end. It didn't help that this chapter needed quite a bit of editing, lol.

Nor did chapter's sheer fucking length help.

AdV: I'm very glad you went and did most of the editing yourself… because even going over the revised version for my edits made me feel as enthusiastic as the Land of Snow arc in our insane Naruto rewrite…

DMS: I did my best, lol. That being said, I would like to thank Dunestyler once again for the translations. I only know a little German and I can't spell it for shit, so he was very helpful in that regard. XD

AdV: Gott mit uns is all I need to know, and I'm not even religious!

Hmm… Kaiser-gott mit uns… Gott-kaiser mit uns… Krieg boys, ya'know…

DMS: Still looking forward to tackling that 40K crossover in earnest, lol. Until then, though, on with the fic!

AdV: You just wanna lewd the Sororitas! (Yes plz!)

DMS: Guilty as charged. XD

Volume Two: Walls of Meat

Chapter Six: Operation Lumberjack

Naruto moaned in delight, the sound gleefully swallowed by his wife's mouth and throat as the succubus mewled in turn. The power-couple relished in each other's warmth, the sensation of skin on skin and the feel of their connection as man and woman.

In this moment, nothing else mattered to either of them, but the need to please the other and themselves.

The youko shuddered, growling like the animal his race looked akin to, bucking his hips while he felt his wife's inner walls writhing around his shaft, caressing it in ways his daughters never could, even if their loins could all but crush his cock in an attempt to milk it.

The way they squeezed and seemingly stroked his shaft with her own movements… it was like she'd literally been designed to make him feel good in ways that were simply not physically possible… and it drove him nearly mad!

He honestly had no idea she was capable of such a thing until now… It had to be because she was a succubus… He couldn't help but imagine what their daughters might be capable of when they started making a few… hundred…

Naruto's arms and tails wrapped around her, his dick throbbing at the thought, his eyes threatening to roll up into the back of his head as his imagination took a wild turn. Then, with a roar and mighty thrust, the youko let loose within his woman, his instinct to make it so kicking in.

Albedo's delectable, whorish moan didn't help in the slightest…

It… took him a while to empty. Longer than usual, at least.

Something his wife thoroughly enjoyed, if her content giggling and pleased smirk was anything to go by.

The redhead huffed, his body collapsing into the mattress as his muscles became as limp as wet noodles while Albedo stretched above him, rolling her hips back and forth, side to side, gently milking his shortening shaft, her insides writhing around the invading prick.

Someone could've taken a mugshot of his face at that moment and printed it inside a dictionary right beside the word 'satisfaction', and it would still fail to state just how good he was feeling right now.

The succubus giggled as she smiled down at her husband, feeling rather proud of herself from how pleased he looked.

Rather than letting him have his way with her, she took it upon herself to seize control and ravage him for once… and the joy and satisfaction that washed over her from seeing what she could do to a Supreme One…

It was intoxicating!

"Fuuuck…" Naruto sighed, "I never woulda guessed you had that in you!" Even his voice had a dreamy quality to it…

"I never would've imagined that it would be so effective," Albedo replied, her lips pursed coyly, her eyelashes all but fluttering his way.

"Makes me wonder what else you're capable of," the youko purred, eliciting another giggle.

The succubus let herself fall upon her man, wrapping her arms around him and basking in his warmth once more. "I will gladly show you," she cooed. (1)

Naruto hugged her back, planting a kiss on her head before falling silent and enjoying their embrace, with Albedo making sure to gently caress his chest while he fell asleep.

Soon, he literally started purring and the succubus' smile widened.

It was just so cute! Oh, she so dearly hoped any children they had would share that trait!

Meanwhile, in Godhaven…

"...So, you are having these weird episodes as well." Artemis mused aloud.

She, Mebuki and Kushina all sat in the royal bedchamber of Godhaven, conversing alone with the privacy enchantments activated… even if they seemed utterly unnecessary.

Artemis was seated prim and proper, Kushina was leaning on her knees, and Mebuki was lounging on her side, looking for all intents and purposes like a college kid utterly done with everything.

The red haired paladin perked up. "Are you implying that you've been having issues as well?"

"Not nearly as much from the sound of it," Artemis replied with a shrug. "Though I assume it's more due to a lack of opportunity than anything. I've been noticing that I seem to just… instinctively know things that I shouldn't, though."

"Yeah, like how to properly sharpen a sword…" Mebuki chimed in, idly looking at one of the three upon her belt.

"Among other things…"

Cleaning, sharpening, oiling… polishing armor, and so on.

"Speaking of, how are you fairing?" Artemis asked, turning her attention to Mebuki.

"I turned into a chick," the elf deadpanned, albeit in good nature. She cracked a smile, looking down at her bosom, finding herself blushing. "I haven't been feeling like myself since the start of this whole thing. But I can't complain. I mean, just look at these majestic tattas~!" She grinned, reaching for and cupping her breasts with a giggle, just managing not to moan from the self-inflicted stimulation.

Damn if her funbags weren't sensitive!

"...Just so you know," Kushina muttered, a vein throbbing in her forehead at their friend acting stupid and perverted, "I will not envy you when that time of the month rolls around." Or whatever the elven equivalent may be… Mentions of that were predictably absent in the lore. She didn't seem to be… ahem… when Kushina's kicked in not too long ago.

Somehow, her thong proved sufficient…

Kushina's cheeks burned at the memory. In the end, she chalked it up to "because magic" and carried on.

"I'm guessing that contributed to your reaction?" Artemis asked, nonplussed at the elf's shenanigans.

And like that, the ginger was bright red.

"...I'd rather not talk about it."

"You're the one who brought it up," Mebuki pointed out, letting go of her tits to lounge, a leer on her face, "Turnabout's a thing, you know."

"...Shut up."

"...That aside," the ranger injected, deciding to change the subject. "How do we address this situation with Baharuth and Re-Estize?"

"Politically," Kushina grunted.

"Obviously," Artemis stated, lips pursed. "But how do we go about that? The literal wall of undead being in the way makes things complicated."

"Someone has to be controlling them. " Kushina replied. "It's probably one of the players that got pulled in… No, likely two or three… or maybe one with a posse of necromancer NPCs? That seems more likely…" The redhead straightened up, speaking with an air of authority. "Regardless, we get their attention peacefully and request a chat between guild leaders. If their NPCs are anything like ours…" the paladin trailed off.

"...That's another complication we might want to keep in mind," Artemis sighed, giving Kushina a sidelong glance. "You think they remember you raiding the guild base?"

"I… honestly wouldn't be surprised if they did at this point." The redhead didn't look forward to the awkwardness of that conversation…

"In the meantime, what do we tell the Emperor?" Mebuki asked, reminding them of the reason they went there in the first place. "He is at war with Re-Estize, after all… Pretty sure he'd rather not just sit idly by."

"We'll tell him we're working on it." Kushina said with a shrug. "Let him know that I'm familiar with the culprit and might be able to negotiate." (2)

"Somehow, I doubt that's going to go over well…"

"I feel the same," Artemis added.

"With good reason, I'll admit," Kushina sighed. "But, it's the best option we have at the moment."

The 5th Floor of the Great Tomb was a frozen wasteland, a massive glacier with a single landmark in the center, standing tall and imposing over the otherwise featureless plane like a tombstone marking the mass grave of those hundreds of players who met their collective end upon this level.

The constant snowfall danced wildly in the biting winds and the flat plane was a minefield, both figuratively and otherwise, riddled with deadly traps of all sorts from conventional mines to teleportation runes. Deadly ice-dwelling creatures of all kinds also populated this floor, hidden well beneath the snow.

In the center of this frozen hell, meanwhile, stood a mountain of ice, glowing from within and surrounded by a frozen forest, covered in snow, housing many more horrors and deadly traps and partially veiled by a frosty mist.

Approaching the forest when morning came, Naruto stood, slightly hunched over to push back against the wind, his fur and hair having turned white in response to the temperature, but still fading to black at the tips. This was thanks to one of his racial abilities being triggered: Winter Coat, which made him immune to environmental effects involving cold weather.

It also increased his stealth in wintery environments, though that feature had rarely ever proven useful due to the lack of any such opportunities. Despite that, he was rather fond of the ability, finding it better to have and not need than to need and not have.

Ignoring the many, suspiciously feminine giggles seemingly coming from nearby trees, Naruto looked over to Albedo and frowned in mild concern as she was garbed only in her usual dress. "Are you cold?" He didn't want to come off as controlling, but that didn't look healthy to him… "Feel free to put your armor on if you need it."

"Thank you for your concern," she replied with a touched smile. "But, I will be fine. There is no need to worry about me, honey~!"

He remained unsure but didn't push it. "Alright." She did appear to be doing just fine, but as her husband, it felt irresponsible not to make sure.

Doubly sure. His instincts only made him more inclined to do so, though he didn't question it. She was his mate, after all, so it made sense that Kurama wanted to take care of her.

"Damn straight!"

Normally, he wouldn't have asked, since any non-essential functions of the tomb had been deactivated due to their upkeep cost. This included the slowing and cold damage effects of the 5th Floor biome, but they apparently applied regardless, free of charge, due to it still being a fucking glacier.

His Winter Coat ability wouldn't have triggered otherwise… supposedly.

Clearly, he still had some learning left to do… Whoop-de-fucking do! Like it wasn't already hard wrapping his mind around all the physics defying nonsense already on his plate.

Scaling the mountain, Naruto eventually found himself eyeballing the two story mansion at the very top. It seemed so out of place in this frozen hellscape, looking like the dwelling fairytale prince, though the aesthetic was offset by it being covered in ice.

This was the Frozen Prison, Cocytus' home as well as that of the woman he sought to visit.

…All this stuff had been cool when it was nothing more than fancy bytes of data, but the drama involved with actually living in the tomb was slowly starting to annoy him.

There was just so much of it…

Setting that aside for later, Naruto ventured forth. Opening the gate, he then flinched at the blast of cold air that suddenly burst from within. It didn't affect him, of course, but he was still caught by surprise. Albedo, meanwhile, started to shiver. The interior of the prison was much colder than the glacier surrounding it, and the succubus still had yet to get used to it despite her frequent visits as of late.

On the upside, any colder and her nipples could probably be used as bludgeoning weapons.

"On second thought," she said, "I believe I will be needing that armor."

One of the many effects of her armor was a high resistance to all manner of elemental damage. She wasn't immune to these effects outright, of course, but it reduced the amount of damage taken by quite a bit and would thus prove more than sufficient.

Naruto couldn't help but stare when she shed her dress, revealing that she still wore absolutely nothing underneath. Given that her outfit had a quickchange gem, though, this wasn't needed… at all. She was probably trying to seduce him again, to remind him of her delightful figure after eloping with his own daughters for so long… and succeeding, he had to admit.

She didn't mind that he did, of course, but Albedo still felt the need to continue showing him what he'd been missing out on in the meantime.

Like the little sex demon she was…

Changing into her black harness, Albedo forewent the helmet this time around and didn't bother concealing her wings, which Naruto quite vocally approved of.

"You have no idea how sexy you look like that," he muttered. Badass, too… like an angel of death or some shit. He thoroughly approved!

And with that, it was Albedo's turn to flush a little, giving her husband a hooded, sidelong gaze with an impish grin. It only widened in satisfaction at the tent he was now pitching and she herself let loose a naughty giggle while licking her lips.

The sight and sound made his balls ache, but Naruto resisted the urge to just mount her right then and there… for now. He averted his gaze and cleared his throat, opting to "show his bitch her place" later, seeing how they had a job to do at the moment.

"All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy~!"

"Fuck you."

Ending the conversation there and taking a deep breath to calm himself, the youko ventured forth. The extreme cold helped, if only marginally. It was better than nothing…

He hummed thoughtfully while staring down the corridor. Because of his levels in necromancer he was passively aware of the undead roaming about and that there were a lot of them, though he couldn't tell how many from this distance.

Given that various undead were immune to the cold, it made sense to populate this area with some as a defensive measure. Of course, because the pop monsters in question were all below level 30, said defense amounted to little more than a glorified detection system for enemy players―and some more RP-ing drama―but they were better than nothing and respawned free of charge after serving their collective purpose.

"Come to think of it," Naruto muttered to himself, "Shalltear's managed to collect a lotta bandits, I hear."

"Indeed she has," Albedo confirmed with a smile. "Shall I summon Neuronist for a status report?"

A scream of agony echoed through the halls from deep within.

"No need," Naruto chuckled after a moment of feeling mighty awkward. "I'll talk with her later. For now, we'll just pay your big sister a visit."

And with that, the husband and wife delved even deeper into the prison, Albedo serving as Naruto's guide.

Soon enough, they found themselves approaching their destination.

The succubus then reached out and a glostly hand phased through a nearby wall, depositing something into her grasp. It was a baby doll, which she then handed to Naruto. The doll was about the size of a real-life baby and… vaguely the same shape, but that was about it.

The doll was a twisted caricature of a human baby, its eyes in particular being nothing short of horrific.

"Well, that's not creepy at all," Naruto muttered, his voice dripping with sarcasm. Then he chuckled warmly. "Using your love of horror movies as inspiration, Tabula-san?"

"Horror movies, my love…?" Albedo looked rather confused by that.

"Uh… right." Naruto took a moment to collect his thoughts. "The best way I can describe it is that a movie is a… moving picture that tells a story," he explained. "Tabula-san especially loved the ones that tell horror stories in particular."

The succubus hummed thoughtfully at that, then a fond smile stretched across her face. "How intriguing… you learn something new every day." (3)

Naruto smiled back before turning his gaze to the end of the corridor. There upon the wall around the doorway, was a large fresco depicting a mother cradling her baby. It probably looked beautiful ages ago, but due to years of decay, it was anything but, the depiction having been warped as a result into something more… unsettling. The baby itself was no longer visible, only a vague remnant of its shape, making the mother appear to be holding something monstrous and twisted.

Naruto approached and the door slid open with nary a sound nor a single detectable ounce of resistance… and when he drew even closer, the sound of dozens, if not hundreds of wailing infants filled his ears, yet not a single one was in sight. The sound came from the ceiling and floor, but nothing was there but the dimly-glowing lanterns hanging above and bare stone.

In the center of it all, within the room otherwise devoid of furniture, Naruto spotted a woman in black with raven locks, gently rocking a cradle. She wore a simple dress, more like a giant, short-sleeve shirt in all honesty, and was barefoot, her wild mane reaching past her shoulders and hanging feely in an untamed mop.

"She gonna notice soon?"

"Indeed," Albedo confirmed. "Do be careful."

"I will."

Then, as if on cue, the woman froze. She gently reached down within the cradle and tenderly retrieved the infant within and shook violently.

"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, it's wrong… it's wrong, it's wrong, it's ALL WRONG!" Turning slightly to one side, she raised the infant into the air by one leg, revealing it to be naught but a doll, and hucked it into the wall with all her strength. It shattered on impact with a frightening crash and the sound of wailing only grew louder.

Rising from below and descending from above, several dozen horrific, twisted mockeries of translucent baby heads phased through the stone, riddled with tumors and writing tentacles. Naruto recognized the creatures as carrion babies, a type of undead close to level 20 or so.

These weren't like the other pop monsters of Nazaric, though, but a special kind that could be added to a player's home by way of paying real world or ingame currency. They didn't count towards the level limit, but wouldn't respawn upon their death. In short, they were more of a luxury than anything and rarely used by anyone who didn't focus on roleplay.

Naruto couldn't help but wonder how much money this little horror show cost Tabula-san.

'My baby," the woman growled. "My baby, my baby, my baby, my baby, my BABY! WHO TOOK MY BABY?!" She pulled a pair of large scissors from… somewhere, and gripped them tightly, then, her gaze slowly turned towards Naruto and Albedo, a lone glowing, golden eye peeking out from beneath the mop of black.

Naruto had to force himself not to flinch. It was so damn creepy!

"You… you took my baby, you took my baby, YOU TOOK MY BABY!" She lunged fort, brandishing her scissors like a dagger, again, startling the fuck out of Naruto, though he hid it well.

The youko presented the doll without a single word and the woman stopped dead in her tracks. The babies stopped crying and a long, tense silence filled the room as she stared. Then, she snatched it from his grasp and cooed lovingly, her scissors vanishing while she cradled the doll like an actual child. The carion babies floated away, cooing and babbling as they did and all was well.

The whole display was a programmed ritual, required to gain the woman's trust, basically―much like giving a dog treats on occasion to show that you mean no harm. Naruto had never performed the ritual because he hated horror movies, but now that he needed her help, it was a requirement to get that out of the way.

"Yeah, you're unmistakably his kid," Naruto muttered awkwardly, eliciting giggles from both women.

"Lord Kurama and my lovely, little sister," the woman cooed, her voice as lovely as Albedo's despite her appearance, her features doing a complete flip from nutty to overprotective big sister. "I trust you two have been well?" There was a sharp undertone there that a slightly younger Naruto would've completely missed.

"We have," Albedo chimed in with a warm, reassuring, sisterly smile.

And indeed, this was her sister, Nigredo. Much like how Albedo embodied Tabula's love for gap moe, Nigredo was the result of his love for horror movies as Naruto had suspected.

All three sisters had been named after the three phases of creating the philosopher's stone: nigredo, albedo, and rubedo―the blackening, whitening, and reddening, respectively. The first was the process of bringing the impurities to the surface, the second was the purging of those impurities, and the last was the completion of the stone itself.

So, of course, Nigredo was the eldest and Rubedo was the youngest.

"I so wish you were there for the wedding," Albedo cooed, hugging the smaller woman to her bosom.

"The groom hadn't yet gained my trust," Nigredo said succinctly, eliciting a sheepish look from the still-white-haired youko. She knew he'd make up for it later, though. "So, I take it you wish for a status report on this Zy'tl Q'ae creature first?"

"Uh… yes," Naruto began awkwardly. "Albedo tells me you've been keeping an eye on it?"

"I have," she confirmed with a nod. "It has yet to awaken. While I'd much rather see Spinel stay asleep, your plan to bring the Hierarchy down upon this creature is bound to succeed."

That was definitely promising. Nigredo was quite adept at scrying and divination magic, so if there was anyone to consult about matters like this, it was her.

How predicting the future was supposed to work, he didn't even want to try to understand. His mind could only take so much.

"I really wish you'd stop calling our beloved sister that," Albedo complained.

"Your beloved sister, perhaps," Nigredo huffed. "That thing is dangerous; I've foreseen countless potential futures where it brings utter ruin to Nazarick!"

"But they're just that: potential futures. I know she's different and far more powerful than the rest of us, but she wouldn't do us or Lo―uh… ahem… or Kurama any harm."

She still had trouble calling him by name without that title…

Naruto, meanwhile, frowned thoughtfully at the exchange. He was aware that Tabula-san had made Rubedo with the Chaloric Stone, a consumable World Item they once owned, but it never occurred to him that the others would know about it too. Was it because they were her sisters? Was it because Nigredo was a scryer? A combination of the above, perhaps? It was hard to say… (4)

"I'll keep an eye on her," the youko assured. "You have nothing to worry about."

Nigredo didn't look so sure about that. "Very well then," she said halfheartedly. Then, she turned to address Lord Kurama directly. "That aside, with Aureole and Cocytus taking the princess' places, the Hierarchy should be more than sufficient, especially given your cautious nature." She then smiled impishly and Naruto somehow detected it under that hair dangling in front of it. "Also, I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that you have five daughters on the way."

"Wait, five?!" Albedo squawked, her mind jumping to all manner of conclusions. Did that mean she had to choke a bitch or two?!

Naruto, meanwhile, looked at her then back at Nigredo with burning cheeks. "Does that mean she and Shalltear―"

"No," Nigredo interrupted.

Albedo froze and blushed at her hubby's innocent response, mentally kicking herself for assuming the worst like that. She'd have to make it up to him later. He did love her, after all, so she was a fool for assuming that some hussy was trying to steal him away… (5)

"Princesses Fumiko and Tayuya are pregnant with twins," the shorter woman explained. "If you treat your women well, all five of your unborn children will be delivered without issue… as will many more in the future, I'm sure. I have no doubt that you will have several more children on the way rather shortly, in fact, given how eager Albedo and your lovers are to supply more… expendable babymakers."

That thought quite visibly put a bad taste in her mouth, but it wasn't Nigredo's place to question him… and she knew full well what would happen if the Last Supreme One had no outlets.

Naruto, meanwhile, shifted awkwardly at those last two words, someone downstairs perking up in approval… but didn't protest her insinuation.

The thought that they were capturing women so he could put some rape-babies into them didn't even make him bat an eye, in fact, much to the dismay of an ever-quieting voice in his head.

As for Albedo, continued to shift uncomfortably, still beating herself up over jumping to conclusions like that. Of course, by process of elimination, this revelation still meant he stuck his dick into a fifth woman, but that was clearly either Lupusregina or that human girl he loved to torment.

Come to think of it, that girl had a younger sister… whom her love would undoubtedly enjoy toying with. Albedo turned even redder, feeling all the more sheepish. Indeed, she most definitely felt like kicking herself.

"Somehow, I didn't foresee you being so adorable," Nigredo commented with a warm chuckle. "That's not all you're here to see me for, though…" She then gave him an expectant look.

"R-right," Naruto replied, taking a moment to compose himself, but then Albedo beat him to the punch.

"Demiurge has spotted a girl in Baharuth who resembles someone from the Siege of Nazarick," she explained, a dire look in her eyes. "A red-haired one with matching eyes. She's scantily-clad in black and red and appears to be thirteen years of age."

Nigredo hummed thoughtfully, her eyes closing as she concentrated.

"...I will need to look into it," she said, before turning her attention to Naruto. "But, I suspect that you are right to worry at the very least."

"I'll keep that in mind," he replied. "Let me know when you can say for sure."

Nigredo nodded. "Will that be all?"

"Uh… right... " Naruto muttered. Then, he took a moment to think about it. "One more thing: outta curiosity, is there anything else in the forest I should look out for?"

"Not to my knowledge," she replied regretfully. "My magic sadly has its limits, though, so I ultimately cannot say for sure. My gut tells me that there is something, but I cannot pinpoint what it is from this distance. It might also be warded against such magics."

"It's fine," Naruto assured, giving her a polite smile. "I'll be on the lookout just in case, then."

"As will I."

"Good to know!" Naruto's smile widened. "Let me know if anything comes up… or if you just need something. Don't be afraid to ask, eh?"

"Of course." Nigredo smiled approvingly, giving him a respectful bow. Clearly, her little sister was right to pursue the last Supreme One… not that it was at all surprising.

Later that day, now back in Arwintar, Kushina stood before Jircniv, alongside Artemis, Mebuki, and of course Mito. And of course Andraste insisted that they bring a larger entourage to make sure everyone was safe and sound. As such, she, Serqet, Hidone, Morrigan, and Nyx were all present.

The angel, of course, drew the most attention, especially from the men who swore she was a dark elf up until now.

Fluder, meanwhile, predictably found out a long time ago and proved more than happy to tell Jircniv and the Imperial Knights in advance.

"...So, what do you have to report?" Jircniv asked, breaking the ice.

"Right," Kushina sighed. "As it turns out, I recognized the banners that fort is now flying."

That caught his interest. Did that mean this woman and the one responsible knew each other? "Do tell."

The red-haired loli nodded and continued. "The banners bore the symbol of Ainz Ooal Gown."

"...The Hero of Carne Village?" Jircniv asked.

That gave Kushina pause as looked at him oddly… for two reasons. Being Japanese, the small woman wasn't sure how she could tell that he meant "hero" and not "heroes" without any context whatsoever. That was a question for later, though. (6)

For now, there was a more pressing one…

"'Hero'," she parroted. "As in singular?"

This time, it was Jircniv's turn to give her the odd look. "...Yes, why?"

Kushina pursed her lips in thought. "Where I'm from, Ainz Ooal Gown is the name of a rival guild," she explained. Perhaps only one of them had transferred here…? "Would you be so kind as to describe this 'hero'? I find myself in need of context at the moment."

"Uh… certainly," Jircniv replied. He turned to one of his imperial knights and gestured for him to step forward.

The man in question was a middle-aged one, but tall and imposing, clearly having another decade or two left in him before retirement. His blond hair was pulled back into a long ponytail, a golden goatee adorning his chin, and his blue eyes bore the look of a man with years of experience. Like Leinas, he donned black and red plate that accentuated his form, showing him to be built like a brick shithouse despite his age.

He was recognized as Baziwood Peshmel, acting leader of the Imperial Knights, according to Serqet.

Needless to say, the roguish NPC in question had been assigned to gather any potentially useful information when the opportunity presented itself.

"Right, then," he said with a small head bow. "The Hero of Carne Village is described as a red-haired man with red eyes, wearing a robe-like tunic with baggy trousers, a headband with decorative horns, a tiger pelt around his waist and a sword on his belt. He has three whisker-like markings on either cheek, fair skin, and is lightly armored. Finally, he appears to be in his twenties or so and is rather fit." He recited from memory.

As one of the emperor's foremost bodyguards, it was quite literally his job to keep an eye out for anyone who might pose a threat. So, he'd been keeping tabs on this Ainz Ooal Gown for a while, though very little was known about him beyond what they could gather from his appearance in Carne, much to Baziwood's chagrin.

Kushina, meanwhile, was twitching with annoyance by the time he finished. Of all the people it could've possibly fucking been…

"Ladies," she called out, her tone sickly sweet, "scan the room for shapeshifters and illusions. She pointed at the solitary female among Jircniv's Imperial Knights. "Starting with that one."

"That one" gave her an utterly incredulous glare… and was promptly ignored.

There was a decidedly awkward silence as the women did precisely as their queen had commanded, Serqet being the one who broke it. "Everything is as it seems, my queen."

"...It would appear that I am the one in need of context, now," the emperor commented, rather amused at the turn of events.

Kushina visibly flushed at that. "M-my apologies," she said, giving him a respectful bow. "The one you described as Ainz Ooal Gown is a shapeshifting fox demon named Kurama. Literally anyone in this room could have been him and you wouldn't have known."

"...I will never understand your hate-boner for that one," Artemis sighed under her breath.

"It's not a hate-boner!" Kushina snapped, rounding at her friend. Then, she remembered that she was in the presence of a noble. Sheepishly clearing her throat, Kushina composed herself. "It is a firm disappreciation for what could only possibly be described as bullshit."

She twitched violently at Artemis' barely-contained snort. The words 'pot' and 'kettle' were mentioned, but she found out to have temporarily developed ail of hearing. (7)

"...You and I will get along quite swimmingly, I'm sure," Jircniv commented, looking amused at the woman's rather… colorful reaction. He meant it too… and his smile only widened when the small and apparently fiery queen became quite thoroughly flustered.

'Forgive me," Leinas spoke up, a subtle tone of annoyance to her words, "but I must ask why you had me checked first."

"I could sense something off about you," the redhead replied unapologetically.

"She's been cursed," Mito blurted out… then she paused, looking mortified and apologetic.

Leinas flinched, a hand subconsciously going up to the covered side of her face to shield it as she turned away.

The other knights frowned sympathetically.

Now curious, Kushina gave her "daughter" a questioning look, prompting the half-elf to continue.

"I cannot tell what it is from here exactly," she uttered halfheartedly, her face now aflame with an embarrassed flush, "But it's not incredibly powerful."

The various looks Mito received all said otherwise, which Kushina and her entourage were quick to notice.

"I see…" the paladin muttered, wheels in her head now turning. She then raised a hand towards Leinas. "Asses Ailment!"

The imperial blonde's form flashed with a golden aura, a ring of runes briefly floating around her before fading away.

The redhead, meanwhile, just sighed, looking amused of all things. "Oh, you poor, sweet child," she chuckled. Then, before anyone could give the "red-haired brat" some choice words, she raised her hand again and cast another spell. "Cleanse All Before Me!" (8)

This time, Leinas was wreathed in golden fire, the right side of her face tingling, and then, when the fire vanished, she felt… renewed… much less tense… and… something missing. Her lip quivered as she fished out a handkerchief and dabbed at her face for the umpteenth time, only for her to see no puss when she extracted it. And with that, her whole body started shaking.

"L-Leinas…?" Baziwood called out.

He was utterly ignored as the frantic blonde practically tore off her gauntlets to check, to make sure. Seconds later, now-bare hands slipped under her golden fringe and patted at her cheek, feeling naught but fair skin beneath. No knots, no folds, no puss even―just taut, flawless skin… Her eyes burned, vision blurring and knees buckling.

"It… It's gone," Leinas sobbed, tears of purest relief pouring down her cheeks. "It's gone, it's gone, it's finally gone!" She disregarded her peers as they frantically swarmed her. At the moment, they simply didn't even exist as she just sat there and bawled her eyes out in sheer catharsis.

Jircniv and Fluder could only stare, swearing that they were mishearing the woman's frantic ramblings. As far as they knew, that curse was unbreakable!

"...Distractions aside," Kushina said with a good natured drawl, drawing Jircniv's attention once more, "I feel the need to… provide a bit more context."

She added that last bit rather cheekily.

The thunder of footsteps echoed reverberated throughout the Great Forest of Tob as thousands of undead marched in perfect unison across its dense foliage to meet up with Cocytus' forces.

Among them, a man with blue plate armor, regal in appearance and well-kept, sporting a three-horned, stylized barbute, though his right arm was bare. Grotesque and twisted, the bulging limb sported only two fingers and a thumb―each of them ending with wicked, serrated claws.

His weapon was equally so, a massive demonic sword―part flesh, part metal with a bulging eye. (9)

"Ainz Ooal Gown…" Kushina began, pacing back and forth as she addressed the emperor with an air of authority that the redhead didn't seem to realize she exuded. "As I said, theirs was a rival guild… or rather…" She took a moment to gather her thoughts. "'The mercenary guild of a rival kingdom' would be a better way to put it." she waved one hand through the air, the other coming up to rub at her neck and shoulder, "The situation is a complicated one… hard to describe in a single sentence. In a way, though, they essentially were the rival kingdom in and of themselves, given the sheer power they wielded."

Also among the hordes, a mass of green eight feet tall and four feet wide, covered in skulls and leathers; the orcish male sported a thick beard and two long braids lie draped over his shoulders. He wore a dragon's skull for a hat and was armed with a shield and warhammer. He chewed on a piece of hay, the look in his eyes belying his true nature in spite of his appearance.

The orc trailed behind the knight in blue, flanked by two other beings of equal power.

To his left, a ghostly woman, floating in the air, swirling about in a serpentine dance that could never be achieved by a being of flesh and bone. Slender but shapely, with a large bosom, the woman was scantily clad with a sword upon her hip, its blade segmented like the body of a worm. A translucent veil covered her face and a second one covered her head, the rest of her attire lying somewhere between a bikini and the outfit of a belly dancer, seemingly made entirely of leather straps with heeled, thigh-high boots.

To the orc's right, a man in a red long coat, his hair white as snow.

He appeared to be human but was far from it.

The long coat was lightly armored, accompanied by fingerless gloves, black trousers, and heavy boots. Resting on one shoulder was a massive nodachi, twice as long as he was tall and his mane was long enough to tickle his shoulders. His red eyes bore a faint glow, hinting at his demonic nature, and his build was lean, but very well-toned.

"I've since become accustomed to referring to them as a rival guild for the sake of simplicity."

"I imagine them taking offense to that," Jircniv mused.

Kushina could only offer a helpless shrug. "Our relationship was quite heated at the time," she replied, looking rather sheepish, "and both sides are responsible for that, I'll admit, at least to some extent."

Meanwhile, further back in the formation, a man in the attire of a fantasy ninja followed the orc.

A black hood and mask with a spiked headband hid his distinguishing features, save for the glowing, fiery eyes, and he wore a yellow gi and black hakama, his greaves and pauldrons wickedly spiked and bladed. His gauntlets, meanwhile, were equipped with shuko, wrist blades, spikes, more blades, and more spikes. Beyond that, though, he wasn't visibly armed… not that he appeared to need it, of course.

To his left was an angelic figure, wings seemingly made of silver with ten flight feathers significantly longer than the rest on either wing, spread out evenly in alternating patterns. She wore a midriff-baring literal breast plate with spaulders and a white hood, her face concealed by the black void therein. Blue gloves with thick vambraces adorned her forearms, her hips wrapped in a blue and white skirt under the fauld, with thigh-high, armored boots. Her armor was adorned with gold accents and massive, glowing sapphires.

To his right, meanwhile, was a skeletal zombie sporting the garb of a bishop, the cross inverted upon his miter and rosary. His attire was primarily black and white; his miter was more the latter, his robes were more the former, both decorated with gold accents, and a white mantle adorned his shoulders. His eye sockets were empty, red pinpoints of light aglow within the black voids. His skin was a sickly gray and he sported an unruly mop of white, spilling down towards his shoulders.

Finally, bringing up the rear with Aureole in tow, watching the backs of her compatriots, was Rubedo, garbed in her frilly funeral attire. She specifically wore a black halter dress with red accents, leaving her shoulders exposed as well as much of her chest to present the glowing stone that was her core. Black and red garters, red slippers, and black and red gloves, all adorned with ribbons, frilly lace, and little bows all accompanied the similarly-decorated dress. Her frilly headdress was decorated with a red rose and she was armed with a lance, black in color with a red blade and sporting decorative, white tassels and a glowing, red gem.

Though her face showed no emotion as usual, her body language made the girl's eagerness abundantly clear as she skipped along to their destination while humming a merry tune.

"That being said, however," Kushina concluded, "the guild and my kingdom have enjoyed a ceasefire of sorts for the past few years." Her expression sowered. "Assuming he's willing to communicate with me… given our… relationship, mind you…" She cleared her throat, looking Jircniv in the eye. "We could potentially negotiate with him peacefully."

"I don't see why he wouldn't," Mebuki pointed out, having watched her friend lecture the room with an amused look upon her fair face. "He's presumably stuck here too."

"Assuming he's not responsible for us getting stranded," Andraste added, frowning in disapproval.

"I doubt he is," Artemis said, giving the barbaric woman a reassuring smile. "You worry too much."

"With respect, my lady, that is literally my job," deadpanned the NPC.

That elicited no shortage of hearty chuckles from her peers and pantheon.

Jircniv cracked a smile at the display. Clearly, these women were very close to one another, sharing a level of comfort he'd only ever seen on rare occasion before.

Of course, and much to his chagrin, this meant that they'd all be incredibly protective of a certain, beautiful half-elf… he did his best to keep his gaze from wandering…

Maybe that was for the best, though; such a sweet and innocent, little thing needed to be protected…

Forcing those thoughts aside, lest he come off as rude, Jircniv addressed the fiery, little queen once more. "Getting him out of the way politically would be preferable for obvious reasons," he said, regaining the women's attention, "but are you certain that is still an option? That sign and graveyard made his intentions rather clear, after all."

"It's at least worth a try," Kushina replied with a shrug. "He and I clearly appeared in different countries without my knowledge, so I have no idea what his situation is in Re-Estize, but if we can learn what it is, we could potentially reach some kind of compromise."

"That very much depends on his situation," Jircniv sighed.

"Which is why I intend to learn what that situation is," the warrior queen pointed out. "If we're able to reach out to him, there is definitely a good possibility that some manner of compromise can be met."

"And if not?"

Well this wasn't going to sound like a threat at all…

"It would be in your best interest if we avoided that."

Soon enough, the army reached a small hill fort Mare shat out in less than half an hour with a few druid spells. Pinison's tree was still there as well, standing on the very southern edge of the artificial clearing this meager structure now occupied.

To be honest, it wasn't much, just a large, fancy tent surrounded by earthworks―brown, dirty, and ugly as sin, but which worked well enough―and some palisades atop the artificial hill for Cocytus to occupy while he and Mare stayed in the area to keep an eye on things until their esteemed Lord Kurama and princesses was done… bonding… with and without the D as it were. (10)

Despite that, though, after having seen the display of creating this fort and clearing, the young dryad ended up declining the offer to have her tree moved as she simply couldn't help but be curious.

She eyeballed the forces with childlike wonder, amazed by the sheer number of soldiers this one man brought to bear.

Naruto, meanwhile, addressed the assembled units, starting with the forces brought here from the 8th Floor.

Of course, Victim was here, in case its special ability was needed.

Rubedo bounced adorably upon the balls of her feet, wanting to get shit done like a hyperactive child.

Aureole, unsurprisingly, stood there patiently.

And as for the others…

Naruto's gaze fell first upon the zombie, a lich. The most powerful lich in all of Nazarick, arguably more so than Naruto's senpai due to the more minmaxed build, though Momonga-senpai would definitely give him a run for his money with the superior gear.

That wasn't to say his gear was shoddy by any stretch, though; like Fumiko and Tayuya, he and the others all donned multiple Divine Class items. He also now held and wielded the red orb Naruto had looted off that bald guy in E-Rantel.

His name was Acererak. (11)

Those other four liches were skeletal in appearance, more traditional elder liches, all level 85 and hailing from Ashurbanipal, the grand library of the 9th Floor.

Next, Naruto's gaze fell upon the man with the red coat and long sword, Dante. He was a demon, and a frighteningly powerful one at that, with many sources of inspiration.

To that man's left stood Siegfried, the blue-armored demon. Naruto couldn't help but smile at the mental image of Rubedo leading the charge alongside this man and Fumiko-chan, though a member of that trio was absent for obvious reasons.

Next to him was the hooded angel, Azazel. Her build was primarily geared towards mobility, range, and single-target burst-heals, if he recalled correctly. To that end, she was armed with a magic bow, seemingly made of light, that she could summon at will.

Next to her was the orc, Go'el. Clearly, he was inspired by the most famous MMO of all time. Even now, despite having been dead for three times as long as he's been alive, World of Warcraft was still a household name and incredibly influential. YGGDRASIL obviously drew quite heavily from it.

Next was the ghostly maiden, another damage dealer, largely based on an infamous spectral boss from a notoriously-difficult RPG of the previous century. Her name was Isabella and she was a banshee. Her weapon was a magical whip sword.

Last, but certainly not least, was Hanzou. He shared the same creator as Siegfried―that being Roflstomp, the guild's fighting game enthusiast who also dabbled in RPGs.

Needless to say, he was mostly based on Scorpion, from Mortal Kombat―a fighting game franchise that managed to persist to modern day despite all odds and setbacks. It was also quite infamous for being singlehandedly responsible for video games having their own age rating system.

Naruto had helped in this one's creation, but only as an advisor, as he had more insight and experience with ninja history and rogue-like classes. (12)

And of course, they were far from the only ones here. No less than 1,500 lizardmen were also present, including the Five Fang Council. Most of them were new recruits, though, visibly eager to prove themselves to their new god.

Aside from them, there were a total of 10,000 undead, mostly skeletons, with 20 being zombified ogres. And of course, Mare and Cocytus remained there and at the ready, the latter now donning his golden armor and a weapon in each hand.

In some ways it was honestly curious to see the lizardmen―living, breathing beings―mesh with… well, undead so easily.

But that was something to ponder later...

"I trust everyone here's already been informed of our task," Naruto said, exuding an air of authority. "But let it be said that best laid plans of mice and men never survive contact with the enemy. So, we won't bother with planning ahead… not very far at least. We're not sure what we're dealing with, after all."

That sounded… odd, though his logic was sound enough? He got no shortage of confused looks as a result, though.

"What do you propose, Lord Kurama?" Zanberu asked.

"We'll be sending the ogres in first," the youko said. He turned his attention to Acererak, who controlled the army of undead. "Have them beat the absolute fuck outta anything that even resembles a tree and make sure they focus on the big ones first. All goes well, this thing dies while it's still asleep and we can all go home. Worst case scenario, we know which one to kill and focus on it. We'll figure things out from there if it comes to that."

Unbeknownst to him, several pairs of eyes were giving him incredulous looks from deep within the treeline, pegging him for an idiot or a fucking psycho… possibly both.

The lich nodded and Naruto addressed everyone else once more.

"Demiurge will be keeping an eye on us with the Mirror of Remote Viewing and giving me his input if we need it," he added with a shrug. "You can never be too safe. I'll send a message to anyone who should switch to a different tactic or whatever when needed."

"Given our lack of intel, that makes sense," Hanzou said seriously. "A spontaneous, but intelligent assault would be the most logical way to go about it."

"Exactly what I was thinking," Naruto replied with a smile and a nod. Then, he addressed everyone with a serious look. "We don't know much, but enough to label this thing a potential threat to our northern border. For that reason, it's gotta go." He then turned to the undead bishop more. "Acererak," he said, "Operation Lumberjack begins now!"

Raising the orb in his hand, the lich in question complied, sending the ogres into the treeline to "beat the everloving fuck" out of the forest, creating a clear path in their wake in the process.

Naruto and his army, meanwhile, slowly followed at a safe distance. The groaning of the zombie ogres, the thunder of their pounding, and the splintering of wood filled the youko's ears for what felt like hours as tree after tree was obliterated. It was a long and boring trek to say the least, uneventful, but eventually, the ogres happened upon a big, gnarly-looking fucker and started whacking it.

The tree looked fucking ancient, and taller than even Gargantua by a significant margin. It had no leaves and its limbs looked more like tentacles than actual branches, with a jagged hole in its trunk.

His gut telling him to do so, Naruto had his troops pull back to what felt like a safer distance.

And soon enough…

A thunderous, horrific roar emanated from the tree as it opened its gaping maw and its limbs lashed out at the ogres. They didn't last long, devoured one by one by the massive treant.

Casting Detect Vitality, Naruto was visibly taken aback by its HP being… unfathomable. This thing was going to be a bit more of a bitch than he was hoping… "Send in the first wave," he ordered. "Have them focus on the limbs! Archers and slingers, loose at will! All druids try and pin it down!"

The liches responded immediately, sending in 2,000 undead to charge at the creature and test it, and a hail of arrows, stones, and spells soon followed. To Naruto's annoyance, the treant started carving through the horde with utmost ease, seemingly unaffected by the assault. The crowd control spells also had no visible effect. Not even Mare's, which Naruto found especially troubling.

"Right," the youko muttered. "Kid gloves are off." He turned to Victim as the angel came up and landed on his shoulder. "You know what to do."

The Guardian of the 8th Floor nodded with a solemn expression. "As you wish," it said.

It then hopped off of Naruto's shoulder and took to the air, flying just above him and started to glow. White light radiated from the angel and its aura then started to seep out and form into a ball of light, before launching itself at the tree. The body, meanwhile, went limp, falling to the ground, only to be caught by Naruto.

Zy'tl Q'ae roared once more, this time in what appeared to be dismay, as the horde apparently started to actually do some damage.

It was far from good enough, though, as they still fell far too quickly to be of use for much longer.

"Plan's the same," Naruto called out, a massive dome of runes and white light radiating from him as he prepared a Super Tier spell to fling at the creature. "Focus on the limbs and hit it until it dies. All archers and druids, keep it up! Aureole, buff the party! Rubedo, lead the charge!"

The miko slammed her staff into the ground and a white light enveloped Naruto's remaining forces, no less than five mass-target buff spells cast in rapid succession. Then, Rubedo's eyes went wide and glowed more vibrantly as she spread her wings and took flight.

Azazel took to the air at the same time, as did Acererac, the other liches, and Isabelle.

The other members of the Hierarchy and Cocytus, meanwhile, launched themselves at the treant. Hanzou latched onto one of its limbs with flaming chains that appeared in his hands and zipped towards his target while the others simply leapt towards it at inhuman speeds.

As for the Lizardmen…

Zanberu pointed his dwarven halberd at the creature and began the charge with a warcry. "FOR THE SUPREME ONE!"

A stampede soon followed as the thunder of bony and scaly feet shook the very ground, followed by a volley of arrows and stones that now blotted out the sun.

Truly, the forces of Nazarick were not holding back; they were not taking any chances and it showed. Though Zy'tl Q'ae still carved through their ranks it was visibly doing so far more sluggishly. One limb then fell to the ground as a red blur cleaved it in two, another crashed through a second, splintering wood in its wake. Its head was quickly set ablaze by Hanzou while Acererac relieved it of another limb.

Their hidden audience could only stare in utter shock and amazement at how long they lasted, unable to believe their eyes as they'd been certain from the start that it would all be over by now.

And then… the fox-man roared two words that nearly made the onlookers shit themselves.


A flaming ball of rock soon followed, falling from the sky and hitting the creature dead center, eliciting another roar.

Satisfied with the respective chunk he took out of this thing's health, Naruto took to the air with a flight spell of his own to get a better view of the battlefield. He was quite impressed to note that the lizardmen had looped around to attack this thing from behind while his undead were taking the brunt of its assault.

Azazel, meanwhile, had taken to peppering the creature with bolts of white light from her bow as the tanks had yet to need a single heal spell cast upon them.

Siegfried and Cocytus were now on top of the thing's head, alongside Hanzou and Go'el, both hacking away at one limb each while the orc was busy whacking its head and the ninja was setting more of the creature ablaze.

"Kitsunebi!" Naruto cried out, attacking its remaining limbs, sending three fireballs at each. They didn't last long, either…

"Press the assault!" Naruto ordered. "Keep it up!"

And with that, he chucked a Grinding Sphere at the tree, beaning it right in the head, before launching himself at it.

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" One roar and eight poofs later, Naruto and just as many more youko shadow clones were upon the beast.

Meanwhile, back in Nazarick, Demiurge chuckled in amusement. Clearly his assignment was not needed, not that it was surprising; the last Supreme One was simply too modest for his own good. It was quite endearing, he had to admit.

Meanwhile, back in Carne Village, a certain hot-blooded kijo couldn't tell if she should be relieved or pissed the fuck off that they were too far away to hear the action… she wanted to kick some ass too, damnit!

So what if Boss wanted to keep his girls safe?!

The fact that she was now pregnant probably didn't help… with her sibling(s) at that...

Tayuya sighed, subconsciously eyeballing several potential meals on occasion, but pushing the thoughts of eating them aside. She didn't want to get in the way of Boss' plans. Even if the meat on their bones looked rather scrumptious...

He did promise to bring her a meal and snuggles when he was done, after all.

The redhead groaned, leaning against the hut behind her.

"Something wrong, your highness?" Lupusregina asked, suddenly appearing from a shadow behind the other redhead and momentarily startling her.

Of course, Naruto had entrusted her to keep an eye on Tayuya and tend to her if needed. She was in her typical guise of Regina to avoid awkward questions in the event that the Swords of Darkness showed up.

Yuri Alpha and Narberal Gamma were there as well to provide additional aid if needed, though their presence was entirely unnecessary. Her father was just a bit paranoid is all.

Tayuya found it annoyingly adorable in all honesty…

The bespectacled maid was in the hut that served as Tayuya's home away from home, dressed more as a traditional maid and tending to said dwelling. Narberal, meanwhile, was similarly garbed, sporting the same attire as the homunculus maids and tagging along with Tayuya herself.

"Really wish you'd stop callin' me that," the kijo muttered, her cheeks burning.

"Right…" the lupine maid chuckled sheepishly. "Force of habit."

Tayuya huffed grumpily. "I'm fine, by the way," she added. "Just anxious. I know the others are good 'n' all, but I'm their off-healer 'n' support caster. Feels wrong just sittin' on my ass when they 'n' Boss're fightin' something like this Zitty-fucker."

"It is natural for him to be concerned for your safety," Narberal chimed in. "Not only are you his daughter, but you're also pregnant with―"

"Oh! Congratulations!"

The three women perked up, hearing Enri speak as she approached.

Tayuya's cheeks burned hotter as she averted her gaze. "Th-thanks…"

"Who's the father?" Enri found herself asking―or rather, blurting out. She couldn't help but be curious. "Anyone local? A brave knight from afar?"

Tayuya flashed an impish grin, resisting the urge to tell her outright just to see the blonde's reaction. Oh, how she wanted to, but her plans for the future made it an unwise course of action.

"Sure as hell a brave one, all right," she gloated. "Brave, strong, carin'… with a big dick that he knows how to use~!" She held her forefingers up, rather far apart to give a good idea of his size… and the reaction was nothing short of fucking priceless.

Enri turned bright red, sputtering incoherently at Tayuya's brazen response as her mind went straight to the gutter. The lust and envy she saw in the maids' eyes didn't help in the slightest…

"Th-that―such a thing…'' she murmured, "You must be exaggerating."

Tayuya said nothing and let her glib smile speak for itself.

"Oh my…"

Lupusregina couldn't help but giggle at the interaction. If this was anything to go by, she looked forward to staying here for a while.

The red haired kijo chuckled and let Boss' cute, little future plaything, recover before addressing her once more, one hand falling to her hip.

"So, how're ya holdin' up?"

"I'll live," Enri sighed somewhat jokingly, giving her a halfhearted smile.

"Losin' a friend is rough," Tayuya commented. "Knowin' Boss, though, he'll be makin' damn sure that never happens again."

"He truly is a selfless man," the blonde said, her smile becoming a bit more sincere. "Makes me worry for his safety, though, I'll admit."

"Eh, he'll be fine," Lupusregina chimed in with a chuckle. "Knowing what he's capable of, I can assure you that there's nothing to worry about."

"I honestly have no idea what he's capable of, so I can't really comment," Enri replied with a helpless shrug. "That's very reassuring, though."

She didn't notice the leer the werewolf threw her way. Oh, she'd find out soon alright...

"I'mma be headin' home ta get ya somethin' 'at might help, by the way," Tayuya added. "A medicinal herb 'at's been known ta help with stress."

That wasn't… too far from the truth… in a way… if you squinted and looked at it sideways. And generously poured oil all over it… and tossed a match in for some good measure.

"Y-you don't have to…" Enri started to fidget a little uncomfortably upon hearing that. She wasn't used to others worrying about her, let alone someone of such high standing.

"I know," the kijo told her with an impish grin. "Just somethin' in case ya need it is all. Stress ain't good for ya..." Her grin widened. "'N' it's the least I could do for my future stepmother."

There was a loud poof as a cloud of steam rose from poor Enri's head. She turned bright red from her collar bone to the roots of her hair in an instant and started sputtering, eliciting a hearty chuckle from the kijo.

"Fuck, I needed that," Tayuya cackled, giving Enri what appeared to be a sincerely friendly smile… one that looked rather out of place on her if the others were to be honest. "I mean it, though, it's no trouble at all."

"Y-you're too kind…"

"Bullshit," Tayuya snorted, a far more familiar expression on her face. "Just lookin' out for one o' Boss' girls is all. Any good daughter would do the same." With most assuredly, wicked intentions…

Enri could only fidget in response to that, much to the redheads' collective amusement.

Back in the Great Forest of Tob, the now-limbless Zy'tl Q'ae let loose one last roar, a deathrattle, as Naruto slashed at its rear with Wrath of Jigoku, still holding Victim under one arm. Dozens smoldering gashes, identical to the one he'd just inflicted, serving as testament to the other whacks he and his clones took at it. The tree then fell forward, faceplanting upon the corpses of the archers and slingers it had slain while a number of its assailants hopped off of its head.

In the end, Naruto could only chuckle at how this whole thing played out. Surely, Momonga-senpai would be laughing his boney ass off at "figure things out from there" ultimately translating to "hit it until it dies" in a very… Naruto fashion. (13)

Needless to say, it wasn't just because of her profile that Fumiko had such similar tendencies...

Of course, that was not to say the fight was without casualties. Other than the liches, only 20 undead emerged unscathed, with about half of a dozen more being… intact enough to crawl around. They also lost hundreds of lizardmen

The fight was a brief one, only a few minutes long, but the fact that it had even lasted this long against him and the Hierarchy, even with Victim's debuffs, made it clear just how right he was to have been wary of the thing.

"Mare!" Naruto called out. "Make sure it's dead for real this time! I don't want this thing coming back to bite me in the ass!"

"Y-yes, Milord!"

The youko nodded in satisfaction before appraising his handiwork. He couldn't help but be proud of himself… It was just like the old raid bosses of Yggdrasil and gave him a similar thrill sense of accomplishment when it finally died. Still though…

"Who killed you last time?" Naruto mused aloud. "And are they still around?"

The fact that this thing was slain before made the displaced youko wonder what exactly was out there. Whoever was responsible for dealing with this thing the first time around had to have been powerful… a team of players, most likely.

Barring some manner of bullshit, likely involving a metric asston of explosives, he couldn't see that party having just one. Even Touch Me-senpai wasn't capable of one shotting everything, after all.

Then again, now that he thought about it…

"Maybe I should investigate that wizard from Baharuth I've heard so much about," he thought to himself.

While Naruto and his forces busied themselves with the cleanup, seven dark elves, four male and three female, dashed back to the nearest entrance of their underground domain.

Leading them was a battle scarred woman with mocha skin and silver hair, what remained of her left eye covered with a simple eye patch. Her remaining eye was pink in color. She was garbed in dark wool and leathers, her outfit reminiscent of a low-cut leotard, a vest with several pockets over top, with a belt for her sword and dagger, thigh high stockings, and soft-sole, knee-high boots.

Neither she nor her party made a sound as they gracefully hopped from tree to tree in their mad dash to report what just happened.

To think that the Accursed One had been slain… and by someone who knew one of the Holy Spells of the God-Queen!

Was he a lost relative? A reincarnation? Another being who descended from the Nine Promised Lands of Yigh Draezll?!

She didn't know, but in any case, King Aksel had to be informed of this immediately!

Later on, back with Naruto, he oversaw the many more undead that had been brought here, chopping away at the giant tree carcass to process the uber-magical―not his words―wood for later use while Mare harvested some interesting herbs that apparently grew from on top of its head.

Of course, only a few of them survived, but it was still more than enough for him to work his druidic magic and start planting them.

"Tougher son of a bitch than I'd hoped, but we managed," Naruto sighed. This was the oddest Raid Boss battle he'd ever participated in… and that was saying something.

"Sad I missed it," Fumiko muttered with a childish pout, the sisters having been brought to their papa now that the danger was over. "You have no idea how boring it's been with nothing to break."

"Oh, don't worry," Naruto chuckled, ruffling the young kijo's hair. "Something tells me you'll have plenty to do when we head down south."

"Just don't hog 'em all for yourself," Tayuya grunted. "I'd like to off a few of 'em, myself… and see how they taste."

"Most of them were kinda bland, to be honest," Fumiko muttered with a pout. "The ones who looked like adventurers were pretty tasty though."

"We'll find out soon enough," Naruto interjected with a chuckle. The thought of feeding the bastards from the Theocracy to them sounded rather appealing in all honesty. He pinned the blame on Kurama wanting payback… with good reason, admittedly.


Ignoring the fox's input, the man in control addressed his daughters once more. "With that thing gone, though, I think we can finally call our northern border secure… for now."

Naruto had no idea just how wrong he was… but he would learn soon enough.

Turning to Zanberu as the lizardman approached he greeted him with a nod. "Councilman Zanberu," the youko said, smiling at him. "Still alive, I see," he added jokingly.

"Half of the Lizardmen contingent was wiped out," he said, glancing away in shame, "Our first deployment under your banner and we failed."

"It's fine," Naruto assured. "That thing was strong enough to kill me if I wasn't careful; the fact that any of you survived at all is a resounding success as far as I'm concerned."

The lizardman looked rather sheepish upon hearing that. "You're too kind."

"Maybe I am," Naruto chuckled. "I do mean it, though. How many of the bodies are intact?"

"A few hundred or so," another voice chimed in, this one seemingly coming from a bush as Crusch Lulu approached, covered in foliage as she often was.

"As I said before," the youko told them, "I'm not very good at reviving people. More of a… god of war than anything." He felt so weird calling himself that, but if they're going to revere him as such, he may as well play the part. Compared to them, he was close enough. Plus, it did his egos―his and Kurama's―much good no matter how weird it might've felt at first. "That said, It's gonna take a while to revive them, and if they're in particularly bad condition, I won't be able to at all."

"Me and my people will appreciate the effort all the same, my lord," Zanberu told him with a bow.

Naruto smiled at that.

"So, I take it you'll be headin' back ta Nazarick when you're done with the Bush 'n' Fap Hand?" Tayuya asked, looking at her father.

Zanberu laughed loud and hard at that, unable to help himself. The implications of his right arm were not at all lost on him, but this was the first time someone had the balls to mention it to his face… and that someone was a female, no less!

"I like her already," he said.

There was a loud, terrible, cartoonish creek, like that of rusty metal parts which hadn't been used in years lurching to life as Tayuya faintly, but sincerely smiled at him. (14)

Naruto, meanwhile, couldn't help but be amused. "Yeah." The youko nodded, addressing his red-haired daughter. "You need something?"

"Gotta talk ta that weirdo in the treasury," Tayuya muttered. "Ask 'im if we got an item I need for somethin'."

Naruto perked up at that. "Oh? Something wrong?"

"Nah, just a little experiment I wanna try is all. Nothin' major, just curious."

That was a big fat lie… mostly; at best, she was curious to see if the item in question would actually work. In either case, though, her creator would undoubtedly be very pleased when everything was said and done.

"Ah, alright," the youko said with a nod. "I'll bring you with when I revive Victim, then, and you can talk to him when I'm done."

Taking a moment to catch their breath, the seven elves made sure they weren't being followed before hopping down to the base of one old oak tree, its roots covered in vines and moss.

The tree in question was ancient, said to predate the arrival of their beloved god-queen by a few centuries. It was an important landmark and an even more important monument; a testament to their old cultures.

Slipping underneath, the seven of them ventured into the twisting caverns beyond, winding this way and that, only able to see where they were going because of the centuries they'd spent down here, and the vision spell that let them see in environments without any significant light.

Eventually, the cavern started to widen and a massive, black gate came into view.

The Gates of Baldur, which led one of the three largest settlements in the Kingdom of Fenn Ulfyr… or what remained of said kingdom, at least. (15)

The one-eyed woman approached the giant, metallic doors and recited an incantation in their god-queen's mother tongue.

"Göttin mit uns."

A purple glow briefly flashed, outlining the cracks and carvings. Then, the gates slowly parted forward, swinging open to greet them. The two guards on the opposite side perked up to see that they had returned, both male, and one of them smiled at the woman leading them, hiding his nervousness quite well. Something happened, he could tell, but he didn't know what.

"Scoutmaster Lydia," he greeted with a bow of his head, even as he secretly undressed her form with his eyes; a natural disposition among their race and culture. "Welcome back. We weren't expecting you to return so soon."

"The Accursed One has been slain," the now-named Lydia replied, looking as though she'd seen a ghost… and making the leering guard pale, all thoughts of flirting forgotten.

Further down, in the settlement beyond the gate, the bustling of a large town came to a grinding halt as everyone within earshot paused in utter shock. A thunder of whispers soon followed, spreading like wildfire.

As Lydia and her entourage ventured forth, the gates closed behind them.

What lie beyond was a massive underground cavern, no less than ten miles in width and twenty in length. The city was dimly illuminated, partially by enchantments and partially by glowstones, a low-tier magical item invented by the glorious founder and late god-queen of Fenn Ulfyr, Dietrich the First.

Unbeknownst to them, she didn't invent said item at all… It was just carried over from her world… her game world…

The glowstones were situated in little lanterns stuck on large poles to bathe the street and surrounding buildings in purple light. Considering they were living deep underground, lighting any sort of fire would be tantamount to mass suicide so they had to use other methods of lighting and cooking.

Good thing they had magic.

The city before them didn't encompass the whole cavern, though; a gap of thirty paces or so separated the city walls and ramparts from those of the cavern. The former stood atop an artificial hill as well, forming what was essentially a moat… filled with bubbling iridescent acid, partially illuminating the cavern and making the city… easily accessible only by the three bridges leading towards it.

One drop of that stuff was also highly-toxic, able to kill ten men and eat through their armor and weapons.

Crossing the bridge, Lydia and the scouts waited for the drawbridge to drop with a thud and the gates to open. Of course, the three bridges had a fully-stocked and proper gatehouse to repel attackers. Various anti-flight and anti-climbing enchantments also made the city all but impregnable in combination with those security measures, mostly thanks to the two remaining members of the royal family at the time.

All of the enchantments and automated defenses were tied to their royal, godkin blood as well, meaning they could be turned off if they needed to launch an aerial assault, also if the city was faced with an overwhelming invasion, they could easily direct and fuel these enchantments without any other dark elf to assist them. Of course, as an additional security measure, these defenses were tied only to their blood.

It was a double-edged sword; on one hand, it meant that these defenses could not be undermined by an act of betrayal. It was all but impossible, infact. But, on the flip side, it also meant that they were the only ones who could bolster and optimize them on the spot. In short, these defenses weren't a perfect system, but they were the closest thing to one in existence and served the young City of Baldur well over the past two centuries.

They weren't the only things living down there, after all...

The first thing the scouts passed through was the trade district along the way to the northeastern bridge, the smell of fish and mushroom soup with garlic and onions filled the air from a nearby hut, one of the soup kitchens that dotted the trade district.

Of course, without the ability to use fire, they needed to find alternatives to cook their food. As such, they figured out a way, using lightning magic to heat up metal to that end. This resulted in the 1st Tier spell Shocking Grasp being among the most commonly known, as one would expect―right up there with Clean and Create Water.

In fact, no less than 80% of Fenn Ulfyr's population knew one if not all of those three spells.

However, that wasn't to say the spell Heat Metal didn't exist. But, that spell being of a higher tier made it less accessible. That said, while anyone who knew it would prefer Heat Metal due to its efficiency, the Shocking Grasp method was simply more common.

Another thing dotting this district would be the abundance of brothels. Their illustrious god-queen was the most enlightened elf to ever grace the dark elves of the Great Forest with her presence, a force of sexual liberation like no other.

As such, her kingdom had some of the biggest and best redlight districts one could ever imagine. They were also quite pretty, the red glowstones used in those areas giving rise to that term. Alas, despite being a trade hub and one of the three largest cities of their recovering nation, Baldur simply wasn't big enough to have a dedicated one of such grandeur.

Their destination, however, the city of Dietrich, the gem of their kingdom, had one like no other, one that was said to even surpass the red light district found in the lost city of Fenn Ulfyr.

Of course, they still married and such; they were just more… open to sharing.

Lydia blushed at that thought, just a little annoyed that she had yet to find a man of her own.

Pushing those thoughts aside, she kept moving, ignoring the catcalls of male and female prostitutes alike, making sure her retinue were also keeping pace, as they made their way to Dietrich's Lament. (16)

"Victim: revive!"

A white glow enveloped Victim's form, concealing it for an instant. The fetal angel's eyes closed and he let out a little coo while falling asleep. No gold was needed, though, thanks to his level… which only made the little guy more broken.

Naruto smiled fondly at the memory of Victim's creation, or rather, the discovery of something they could exploit: Martyr's Vengeance. It was an ability of the Martyr class which transferred every debuff placed upon its user onto a single target. It was considered garbage because this was performed at the cost of the user's life, but it was also very easy to enhance with other abilities and such, which players and NPCs had access to at early levels.

And because Victim was below level 30, reviving him could be done free of charge. (17)

Of course, Martyr was a pretty rare job class with some obscure requirements to unlock, but angels had fairly easy access to it… and to many of the synergies used in Victim's creation.

Naruto's smile widened at Tabula's maniacal cackle as it echoed through his mind. He wasn't responsible for Victim's creation, but the man in question was among their best and brightest when it came to finding potential exploits.

Literally the only reason he stopped playing was getting banned for that shit. His creations still remained because they were guild NPCs, but his gear and expertise were a sad and heavy loss.

Aureole quickly scampered on up to the now-sleeping angel, gently picking it up and adorably carrying Victim like a big ol' stuffed toy. Naruto couldn't help but chuckle at the sight.

"Victim should be good as new in a few hours," Naruto said. "Possibly sooner, since he's a lower level than Fumiko-chan. You mind keeping an eye on the little guy until then?"

Figuratively speaking, of course…

"Not at all," Aureole replied.

Naruto smiled again and ruffled her hair eliciting a blush from the miko. Then, he dismissed her, gesturing for Tayuya to follow him.

The kijo did so without a word. After a minute, though, Naruto couldn't help but break the comfortable silence they shared.

"So," he began awkwardly. "How're you holding up?"

"I keep wantin' ta eat someone," Tayuya grumbled. "Your brats are damn hungry, little rascals… and they want real meat," she added, giving him a small stink-eye for not letting her eat whomever she damn well pleased… for fucks' sake, they weren't two weeks old inside her belly! "Them adventurers 're lucky they ain't around. Probably woulda eaten the dumbass if they were."

Naruto couldn't help but chuckle, if a bit awkwardly, at that. "Can't have that, now, can we?" He ruffled her hair and that chortle became far more sincere when she literally started purring, much to his baby girl's embarrassment. "So cute!"

"Boooss!" Tayuya whined, turning as red as her hair… but doing nothing to dislodge his hand.

The youko's smile only widened.

"Sorry, sorry, couldn't resist."

They continued on towards the lair of Pandora's Actor from there, a comfortable silence descending upon them once more until the doppelganger in question took notice.

Pandora's Actor perked up immediately, standing up with nary a shred of hesitation and giving his visitors a salute. "Lord Kurama and Princess Tayuya," he greeted loudly. "How can I be of service to you?"

Tayuya pouted grumpily but said nothing, glaring at her father for having a hand in creating… this.

Naruto only chuckled in response, opting to give her more than just snuggles and a snack later. Turning his attention to the kijo's… cousin, he greeted Pandora's Actor with a smile. "It's nice to see you again," he said. "I'm here to ask about how much of the new world currency we have."

"Our current balance is 581 new world gold pieces, 962 silver coins, and 1,203 coppers, my lord."

The fact that he was able to say this off the top of his head was very impressive to say the least. That currency was also undoubtedly in excellent condition, now, thanks to the tender love and care he showed to every little thing of even minute value that entered his vault.

"Sounds like Shalltear's been a busy girl," Naruto chuckled. Last he recalled, they had less than half that many gold pieces and not nearly as much silver or copper. "Just wanted to make sure we had a good amount before heading out. I'll be heading to the Frozen Prison to fetch my baby girl here a snack, so have 1,000 coppers, 500 silvers, and 300 gold ready for me when I return."

"As you wish!"

'While he's doin' 'at," Tayuya grunted, "I need somethin'."

Pandora's Actor perked up at that, shifting his attention and bowing to her dramatically. "And what can I do for you, my illustrious princes?"

"...Pregnant and grumpy," the kijo warned.

"Oh! Congratulations." His tone did a complete one-eighty, turning much quieter, but still respectful, as he straightened up, standing at ease.

Naruto only chuckled again and took his leave as Tayuya grumbled to herself. Waiting for him to do precisely that, she took a moment to calm herself before addressing the doppelganger.

"You're in charge o' the race change items we have, right?"

There were a number of those in their creators' homeland. While most of the supreme ones were simply born into the forms they took, others had started off as something else and simply switched over to another with the help of these strange treasures that dotted Yggsrasil.

Of course, Tayuya only knew of this because oni were typically created through such means… as were members of a few of her colleagues' races.

One of such items was the Angel's Feather, for example, which turned its user into an angel. This item was apparently required for the creation of Azazel, though that was only a guess on Tayuya's part. Boss did need another such item to create her and Fumiko, after all.

An item that she was here to attain.

'Why, yes I am," Pandora's Actor replied, looking rather curious despite his ever-unchanging face. "Is there one in particular that you need?"

"Do we have any Seeds o' Resentment?" (18)

"Yes, we have a total of 35, in fact. How many do you need, your highness?"

"Just one for now," she said. Then, when Pandora's Actor dramatically took his leave to fetch the item, Tayuya frowned and hummed thoughtfully before calling out to him. "On second thought, gimme two… just in case."

"Wie Ihr wünscht, Prinzessin!"

DMS Notes and Trivia:

AdV: Dear lord, that's a lot of pages…

1: Someone's becoming a little more confident… I look forward to seeing how this plays out.

2: And the encounter looms ever closer… =3

3: I just love the character interactions these two have been sharing as of late. It's a small thing, but it makes Naruto and Albedo feel just a little more… alive in my opinion.

AdV: Yup… she's definitely one of the main characters, so its a shame she gets so little actual char. development.

4: Got one of those blue squiggles under the word "scryer" while editing this portion of the chapter, because Google recommended the word "screamer" instead.

…Hilarious, but not what I meant. XD

5: Eh, heh… I wouldn't be so sure about that, Albedo.

6: That's a weird quirk of the Japanese language, but one I should bear in mind.

As a reminder: the whole auto-translate whatchyamafuckery in canon is not a thing in Vulpine Overlord because my partners in crime and I didn't know about it when we started writing, and thus, we didn't account for it in the previous volume. This fanfic is basically an accidental AU in that regard as a result. But, there is still some fun we can have despite that. =3

7: I just love writing her so much! Kushina's such a treat in this fanfic. XD

AdV: Yuuuuup… I know. Thus why I said we should do it xD.

8: Given that I am currently in the process of writing my own original fantasy, I of course used this fanfic as an opportunity to come up with original spells in addition to the classes, abilities and so on.

And I don't just mean making a throwable Rasengan and calling it Grinding Sphere, lol.

Cloud of Knives, Chains of Hell, Feast of Blood… These were fun, but not the only such cases.

I'd imagine that something to the effect of Assess Ailment exists in canon, but I wasn't able to find it while we were writing this. It makes more sense for a dedicated "magical diagnosis" spell to exist than not when healing magic is a thing.

Taking this to its logical conclusion, a high-level turbo-purge spell is something I've weirdly never seen before. In D&D, we have Cure Wounds, Remove Disease, Remove Poison, Remove Curse, and Exorcism, but not a 9th level (basically Tenth Tier) spell that does all of the above. O.o

…Not one I could find, at least. Kinda hope I'm wrong. It makes more sense for it to exist than not, given how low-level the above spells are in context.

Regardless, it was quite fun to come up with these and I will only continue to do so. =3

AdV: Just remember that the magic system in place is entirely different than what we've come up for it.

DMS: Of course. =3

9: The timing of this reveal was hilarious to me, not gonna lie.

AdV: Meh… don't really care bout those guys xD

10: I am still not sorry.

11: Given Overlord's unapologetic D&D inspiration, I simply had to toss an Acererak in here somewhere, and here he is! Made him an evil bishop because the canon Acererak of D&D was a cleric and wizard.

12: I'm a former WoW player; there just had to be a Roflstomp in here somewhere. XD

That being said, this is Vulpine Overlord's in-universe variant of the Hierarchy. AdV, Spy, and Dunestyler were quite helpful in its creation. Strap in, bitches, and prepare for a long one.

Starting in order of appearance, Siegfried is quite obviously Nightmare from the Soul Series. He serves as one of the secondary tanks in the event that Rubedo is either taken down or preoccupied, much like Fumiko.

Go'el is partially based on Thrall from Warcraft. He's the primary healer of the group.

AdV: Oh I remember us designing him. That was hilarious. Definitely favorite… well, really the only one because the rest are somehow utterly forgettable to me… dunno why.

DMS: That's fair. Pretty fond of what we did with him, myself. =3

Next is Isabella, one of the damage dealers. She's based on Isabella Valentine (better known as Ivy), also from the Soul Series, and the Boreal Dancer from Dark Souls.

Hanzou is Scorpion from Mortal Kombat, but named after Hattori Hanzou, a famous ninja of Japanese history. Obviously, he's the ninja motherfuckery character. His appearance is also partially inspired by the Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Dante is obviously based on the so-named character from Devil May Cry, based on his iconic appearance, but also with some Sephiroth mixed in.

Azazel is named after one of the Watchers from the Book of Enoch, though I'd be lying if I said that Helltaker was not a factor in me choosing that name. I'd have used it regardless, mind you, but the game and like-named waifu in question provided… additional motivation and potential future inspiration, lol. That aside, Azazel's looks are based on Auriel from Diablo and Shana from The Legend of Dragoon.

Also, funny side note: when writing these notes, I was listening to one of my YouTube playlists and If You Still Believe from The Legend of Dragoon started playing when I got to Azazel. Fucking awesome timing, lol.

Finally, Acererak, as stated above, is based on the D&D character.

13: I find it so easy to picture. Naruto's clever, but a bit of a meathead and the thought of his friends finding his simpleminded, but effective tactics amusing makes me smile for some reason, lol.

AdV: Ooman-smash!

14: I had so much fun writing that interaction. It was so easy to picture.

AdV: It's damn amusing. I'll have to remember that line for… future efforts that involve best fanon chick!

15: Pretty on the nose, I'll admit, but I simply had to add in the Baldur's Gate reference. XD

16: After reading about those underground chambers Aura didn't explore and hearing about the dark elves who once inhabited the Great Forest of Tob, I simply had to play with the idea.

I just couldn't help myself and came up with a still-recovering remnant that was more than happy to hear about the death of this tree. And I imagine the "Accursed One" being toyed with by only a team of men, women and children, not even numbering a dozen in total, before suddenly exploding for no damn reason would give them quite a bit more pause than what Naruto did.

Like many things he's done in this story, the result is the same, but Naruto's differing mindset and methods have their own set of consequences.

This underground kingdom was also very much fun to think about in general. I have a number of subterranean cultures in the original story I'm working on and the worldbuilding of this scene was a lovely thought experiment due to the presumed lack of ventilation begging some interesting questions… mostly because I haven't read the Dwarven Kingdom arc quite yet, lol.

AdV: I don't even remember what my contributions were… I just know I wanted the Dark Elf-like chicks from that one hentai xD

17: Not canon as far as I'm aware, though I'm still learning what is and is not established in canon, but there appears to be a fan theory that Victim is such a low level because he has a self-destruct ability of some kind. Makes sense, seeing how the little guy's a martyr.

Also, the thought of Tabula being the mad scientist he looks like when it comes to ingame mechanics kinda tickles me, lol.

18: The name of this item was inspired by the stories I used as inspiration for Naruto and Tayuya, those being the stories of Shuten Douji and the woman of Mino Province respectively. Resentment in one form or another seemed to be a common theme between them and it can make people do some terrible shit, so I went with that.

AdV: Hmmm… well, if we ever wanted to introduce some more Kijo… Fate has her =3. Fate has plenty of oni…

Parting Notes: Fucking shit, this was a long one!

Enjoyable as fuck, though. This is definitely one of my favorite chapters so far, though chapter 4 of this volume is still at the top of my personal list, lol. I dunno why I like Aura so much, but I do… and writing that lemon was such a treat.

AdV: …Meh. Land of Snow-feelings. Ugh…

(...for reference, my muse kicked the bucket so hard when it came to that arc, there's an entire rewrite waiting to happen to 'avoid' much of said muse-killing)

…Ngl, that probably influenced this delay more than the IRL stuff lmao…

DMS: We shall see how well that plays out in other stories. =3

In any case, I hope y'all enjoyed!