Chapter 56: I Bought a Whorehouse (Part 9)

Ramming his spear down a souped up jungle cat's throat and burning it alive from the inside as Oct kept the homicidal feline restrained Cayman idly watched his EXP counter slowly tick upwards, the days of a single scrap netting him plenty of power evidently long gone.

Cayman Lute, LVL 37

HP: 2250

MP: 8800 + (20%)

STA:4400

STR: 235

DEF: 245

AGI: 480

MAG: 725 + (20%)

MAG DEF: 940 + (20%)

REIGN: 53

EXP: 3400/3800

300 EXP for three killer kitties that reminded him of panthers if panthers did a whole lot of meth in a mad scientist's lab wasn't too much to brag about, especially since this world didn't operate under 'strict' video game rules and the respawn rate was going to be tied to how long it took a momma panther to birth and raise a new clutch of ambush predators.

A glance to the side revealed Yumi safe and sound, dismissing one of her created swords and sheathing the purchased one as the last of the pack laid in a beheaded slump at her feet, Cayman rolling his shoulder and feeling barely a trace of stiffness.

"Damn, healthcare in this world is really something else. I got shot and instead of weeks - if not months - of rehab I'm back to business as usual not more than twenty minutes later. Till knows her shit."

He briefly wondered if that meant healthcare options in the UFS were more affordable than previously or if a five minute appointment with a Fairy would run you six figures without insurance.

"Yeah, that's a can of worms I don't want to get into."

"You regret going on this little adventure yet, Lilim?"

The Succubus mightily sulked as she poked out from hiding behind a tree, Cayman wondering if maybe he was being too harsh on the Demon as she seemed genuinely upset by current circumstances, grumbling, "Of course, it sucks! But…it sucks even more just having to hide all the time while all of you fight. I hate not being able to do anything…"

Caught off guard by the genuine regret in Lilim's tone he and Oct shared an uncertain look, Yumi thankfully coming to the rescue as she unpolarized her helmet, remarking, "It'd be a lot more dangerous for us if you did try to fight, Lilim. Right now you're helping us the most by keeping out of sight."

"That's what sucks about this…"

She gave Yumi a mildly bitter look.

"Not long ago you were jumping at shadows and needing help all the time as we gloriously showed you the ropes! And now it feels like you're having to look out for me every time something goes wrong."

Yumi awkwardly shifted as she was clearly unsure of how to respond to that kind of an 'accusation', eventually replying, "Well…I could still use some help before school starts? Rin and Mai are nice and informative but you always have a unique outlook on things and a good fashion sense."

"You're just trying to make me feel better."

"A little bit?"

The shy admittance had the Succubus weakly smiling - but she was smiling - as Till bluntly added, "Be glad Yumi's a lot nicer than I am, after everything you've pulled against Cayman I wouldn't be nearly as kind."

"If you don't have anything nice to say then don't say anything at all!"

"That's a lesson you should first learn yourself!"

Rolling his eyes as the pair of Demons got into it he instead checked his phone, nodding as it was still out of commission. He'd chatted with Rossweisse and Lavinia over the ins and outs of some of the more common bells and whistles of magic and communication between spatially removed realms had been one of them.

The short version was that while communication across different worlds was perfectly possible it was only within pretty narrow confines. Since the 'space' between realms was always shifting and turning you needed the magical equivalent of a lighthouse for either communication or teleportation, a stationary landmark that could be located and seen no matter how nasty the metaphorical weather could be. Trying to pull off that feat without some kind of super powerful empathetic or telepathic link like the one between him and his summons was just flat out impossible. And trying to teleport? Forget it.

If transmitting sound was already tricky then organic matter was a whole different ball game. Just because teleportation was one of the most cataloged and analyzed forms of magic didn't mean it was easy. It was a bit like building a car from scratch, where technically every conceivable part and bit of instruction was available for use but actually putting the damn thing together wasn't as simple as it sounded.

And where an incorrectly assembled car might - at worst - catch fire an incorrectly assembled teleportation array - at best - simply wouldn't work.

At worst you got to play space time roulette and oh the places you'll go…

"You sure we're on the right path, Till?"

"Yup~! It took me a moment to recognize it but these are the Halo Mountains we ended up in, there's a settlement of Dark Elves nearby that are on good terms with Till-Tien and they should be more than happy to help us."

"Always knew it paid to have friends in high places. And if they're as friendly as you say it'll be nice to finally run across some locals that aren't out to be dicks or just outright murder-"

Instincts granted by the spear in his hand caused him to tilt his head and narrowly avoid a lance of ice that tore a significant gouge in the ground behind him, immediately rolling behind a thick tree trunk and activating [Esoteric Parry] as Yumi grabbed Lilim, his spear lashing out and shattering several more ice projectiles before the ambush abruptly ended, Cayman idly noting, "I take back what I said, people are just assholes."

Till puffed out a cheek, irritatedly remarking, "These better be the people after us and not Dark Elves, otherwise I'm going to be pretty annoyed!"

Kinda liking this new and feisty side of Till he watched as the Fairy floated out from behind the tree, shouting, "If you're a part of the nearby Dark Elf community then you better stop right now, I'm the princes of Till-"

Another shard of ice flashed through his girl's body, causing her to burst apart in a fine mist of red and shimmering particles, Till reforming at his side a moment later with a massive expression of considerable displeasure, Cayman sharing the sentiment as he shouted, "That was a white flag, assholes! We're from Till-Tien, check your bullshit!"

"You have some nerve to ask for mercy after everything you've done!"

Frowning at the feminine and haughty voice that hollered back at him Cayman nodded at Oct, the summon's body shifting to match the colors around him before slithering off to ambush the ambushers, Cayman covering for him as he hollered, "Motherfucker we just got here! And because you were too damn impatient to wait for her to finish talking my contracted Fairy is the princess of Till-Tien, the community - if you are indeed Dark Elves - you're allied with! I imagine she's got a word or three for your leader after this!"

"She does indeed!"

There were a few beats of silence, Oct eventually communicating, "Master, there are two individuals watching you, a Dark Elf and what I believe to be a Taimanin. Orders?"

"Hold tight for the moment and be ready to jump em' if they do anything stupid."

"Look, I'll throw my weapons out into the open then my Fairy and I will come out into the clearing, we can chat from there, alright?"

Yumi and Lilim looked at him as if he was crazy, the Surveyor merely smirking as he snapped a branch off the tree, storing it in his inventory before remarking, "Spear-like weapon," and tossing the rest of his gear into the open, shouting, "There, satisfied?"

"And how do we know you don't just have more?!"

"How do I know you won't just fucking kill me the moment I leave cover?"

He thought he heard a petulant grumble but couldn't be sure, nodding to Till as he lightly raised his hands and stepped out into the open, coming to a stop a fair distance from his tools before raising an eyebrow in clear impatience.

Not ten seconds passed before the trees lightly rustled, admitting a dark-skinned figure to drop to the ground before stalking his direction, Cayman lowly whistling to himself at the woman's appearance.

Tight fitting and skimpy white leotard adorned with gold highlights, flowing mane of snowy hair and an absolutely killer body as intelligent blue eyes flicked across his own and settled on Till-

-whereupon she missed a step, breath hitching at the same time Cayman performed a double-take, inquiring, "Err, would you happen to be Eleonor?"

The Dark Elf thickly swallowed, staring wide-eyed at Till while shakily remarking, "Y-you know me?"

Thinking quick on his feet Cayman merely shrugged, replying, "I've got a couple Taimanin on my team who mentioned you. I can give names if you need further proof."

Till scowled, crossing her arms and acidly remarking, "As if we need to provide any proof after what you tried to do to both myself and my contractor!"

Nerve failing the woman quickly knelt on one knee with her head bowed, a pose that did all sorts of wonderful things to the male imagination as she hurriedly stated, "Forgive my hasty actions, Princess Till! Our community has-"

"Decided to just kill anyone that wanders by?"

Snapped out of his rumination by his partner's unusually sharp rebuke he was about to ask Till to cool it a little bit…and had to bite back a chuckle as she merely winked at him, the Surveyor blowing his lead lady a silent kiss as she did her level best to come across as the bad cop.

"C'mon, Till, take it easy on her. This might just be a misunderstanding."

"Hmph!"

Crossing her arms and turning away with an upraised nose Eleonor sagged slightly in relief-

-and Cayman was quick to interject with, "You're not off the hook entirely, you did just try to kill the royalty of an ally and murder her contracted partner who just so happens to be a Surveyor. Your reason for doing so?"

"Oct, make a point."

"Of course, Master."

His summon quietly reached out and snapped the branch the hidden Taimanin was standing on, a surprised yelp accompanying the woman tumbling out of the tree before primly landing on her feet, whirling around for any sight of her attacker…and Cayman resisted the urge to sigh as he recognized none other than Onisaki Kirara, the Taimanin man-hater in the flesh.

"Great. That should make things a sight more complicated, now shouldn't it?"

While she crouched in preparation for a fight and glared at him the busty Taimanin ultimately made no further moves, Eleonor now licking her lips in nervousness at how quickly - from her perspective - the situation had spiraled out of control.

"Well?"


"I'm not bowing to him, Eleonor!"

"Then bow to the Fairy, but show some proper respect, please!"

Sounding on the verge of tears as she tried to force her companion's head down Eleonor locked gazes with a resolutely stubborn Onisaka, Cayman watching with an amused air as the brief altercation had officially gone from potentially lethal to merely irate, the hybrid woman rounding on a pouting Lilim as she inquired, "And what about you?! You suddenly run away and leave us saddled with the bill for all the trouble you caused, only to show up here?!"

"It wasn't like I wanted to be stuck with you again, cow tits!"

"Y-you take that back!"

Cayman and Yumi shared a glance, the latter clearly asking for him to take the lead in handling this situation as the male idly realized that in the original Taimanin Asagi canon - or as close to canon as alternate timelines and current circumstances allowed - Lilim and the other two had likely crossed paths with most members of the cast at one point or another.

Till cleared her throat, pointedly remarking, "You're still avoiding the question, why are you so willing to shoot first and ask questions later?"

Keeping her head bowed but no longer kneeling Eleonor explained, "Around four months ago some of the people in our community were kidnapped and we were never able to track the perpetrators down. For a time we believed that Dark Creatures or other predators were nearby but a month ago we discovered that one of the kidnappers was a hooded and cloaked humanoid, my pursuit of them revealing what seemed to be a facility of sorts. I was also able to obtain a picture of the kidnapper and shared it with some allies that I trust."

Without batting an eye the Dark Elf reached between her significant cleavage and retrieved a simple flip phone, the dusky-skinned woman displaying the high-definition picture of a heavily cloaked and concealed figure, ornate and seemingly impractical blade held in their hand-

POP.

-Cayman glanced to the side, frowning as Yumi glared with bared teeth at the image, hissing out, "Excalibur Nightmare. I'd know that damn sword anywhere."

The Gamer was quick to set a hand on her shoulder, firmly stating, "Easy, Yumi. We'll help them out which will give us a crack at figuring out just what the hell is going on here."

"...Right."

+5 AFC with Yumi Kiba [10/100]

Calming down to a dangerous simmer rather than volcanic boil he shrugged at Eleonor's confusion and Onisaki's frown.

"She's got a history with the swords. Judging by Kirara here you got those reinforcements?"

"Yes, a team from the Supernatural Church and an additional Taimanin from the UFS should be arriving today."

The Dark Elf once more inclined her head, announcing, "I again apologize for our aggressive behavior, but with so many of our people having been taken we were acting…with greater caution than usual."

"Forget all that, what's this about you wanting to lend a hand? What, we're just supposed to trust you? And why did you even end up wandering around here?"

"Well to make a long story short there was an assassination attempt that ended in a botched teleportation kidnapping and here we are."

Onisaki gave him an incredulous look that he merely smiled at, continuing with, "As for why I'm offering to help? Well I'm a Surveyor of Sanctuary, that's reason enough but as you can see my bodyguard here has a stake in the game, never mind that as Princess of Till-Tien my lovely lady here has every reason to ensure your prosperity. Even if you did kill her."

Eleonor grimaced at the reminder as Onisaki - not one to just give a guy an easy way out - skeptically remarked, "And you're just going to do this for free, huh?"

"Free? Certainly not, once this matter is settled I expect a ride out of the Dark World all expenses paid."

Quick to interject the Dark Elf laid a hand on her companion's arm, hurriedly stating, "We would be more than happy to accommodate you. Now if there isn't any other matter you wish to discuss we may begin heading to my community?"

+10 REP with Eleanore [10/100]

Nodding in agreement Eleonor seemed relieved that things had turned out for the better, motioning for them to follow as Cayman asked, "It sounds like you got quite the bevy of backup coming. I guess a rogue Excalibur Fragment isn't something people want out in the wild, huh?"

Praying that the Dark Elf would offer much desired exposition she answered his prayers with, "Ever since they were stolen or lost over the course of several years their return has been greatly desired, this is a possible lead to such a scenario."

"Okay, so they weren't all stolen in one go so we're probably not going to have to tangle with Kokabiel. Shit, is this even going to end up anything like the Holy Sword arc considering all the newfound variables?"

Deciding not to worry about something well outside his control Cayman instead watched as Onisaki sidled up closer to him as they briskly marched towards the village, the action confrontational rather than friendly.

"Just so you know I'm going to be keeping an eye on you, if you try anything funny then I won't hesitate to subdue you."

"No worries, your comrades were of the same opinion when they first met me."

Crossing her arms over her chest the Taimanin bluntly asked, "And which comrades are those?"

"As of the moment? Su Jinglei, Yukikaze Mizuki, Natsume Amadare and Mai Nanase."

Onisaki's eyes widened, the young woman sputtering out, "H-how did you get together a team of that prickly honor student, black ops agent and the two annoying washboards?!"

Snorting at her description he merely replied, "A few life or death situations, bringing back one of them from the dead and a whole lot of headaches."

"...You're serious?"

"You can call em' and ask em' if you don't believe me. I'm sure they'd appreciate the update. And since your reputation for not being a fan of dudes seems spot on I bet you'll enjoy the dressing down I'm in for."

Cheeks pinking slightly the Taimanin fiercely protested, "I don't just randomly hate men, it's always for a good reason!"

"I'll take your word for it. Chat with your four comrades sometime, I'm sure they'll be more than happy to provide you with all sorts of horror stories."

+5 REP with Onisaki [5/100]

A bit surprised at the increase he was further befuddled as the Taimanin twirled a lock of hair around her finger, sullenly remarking, "I'm not that bad…are I? Do I really have such a nasty reputation?"

Realizing that he was speaking to an Onisaki that had gone through a bit of character development he improvised with, "You do, but so far I'm of the opinion that they were exaggerating a bit. Trust me when I say I've worked with worse."

"Hmph, I suppose that's true, isn't it? Baseless rumors, the lot of them!"

+5 REP with Onisaki [10/100]

"Well, at least I'm making friends with the man-hater fast. Although this has turned out to be one HELL of a detour."


The Dark Elf village that they reached after about two hours of hiking struck an interesting balance between rustic and modern, with wooden buildings straight out of a renaissance era dotting a verdant forest and none of them sporting anything resembling electricity…but a few communal buildings had what looked like computer terminals or telephones, one of them - a bar or pub, he was assuming - had a large flatscreen displaying some kind of sporting competition, a mix between baseball and rugby played by large and swarthy Orcs.

"Gonna have to look up THAT primetime at a later date."

The residents were very much in line with Eleonor in terms of fashion, sporting revealing or seductive cloths of white, black or green as they…honestly kept to themselves, the air tense and uneasy as the Surveyor reflected that considering what had been befalling them asking for wild celebration and welcoming was probably a bit much.

"How many people live in this community of yours?"

"Just shy of four thousand. Few enough that everyone has been affected in some way by these kidnappings."

Their Dark Elf guide solemnly filled them in as Cayman elected to keep things moving, next inquiring, "Any idea who these reinforcements are supposed to be? I doubt the Church would just send any yahoos to tackle a mission like this."

"Well it's not clear who's available and powerful enough to deal with a situation like the one we face but we do have an old comrade of ours-"

"Long time no see, you two~!"

The brash, cheerful words drew the group's eye as Cayman felt his brow arch, recognizing the long brown hair and bright pink bodysuit without so much as a moment of doubt.

"Asuka! Took you long enough, were you planning on leaving all the work to us?"

"Well you're just as prickly as ever, aren't you Onisaki?"

Pulling the busty Taimanin into a hug she yelped in protest, trying to pull away and meeting with zero success as Asuka glanced over her friend's shoulder, curiously asking, "Who's the field trip with you, I thought we-hey, aren't you that Lute Surveyor guy?"

Smirking at the USF agent's exclamation he mused, "I wasn't aware my reputation preceded me. Or should I be worried that a USF black ops agent knows who I am?"

Marching towards him with an easy grin Asuka extended a hand, Cayman clasping the woman's artificial limb - pretending not to notice how Yumi tensed at the overly casual and abrupt approach - as the soldier replied, "Nah, you're not on any kill lists. Yet. But word on the street is you've been doing right by a bunch of friends of mine so that's a point in your favor."

"Hmm, and here I was, operating under the impression that Gosha and the UFS weren't friends."

The brunette airily waved a hand, dismissively stating, "Enough bad shit happens on a regular basis that it's more of a polite fiction that both factions maintain. In reality we have to work together more often than not."

"Well either way it's a pleasure to be working with you, Miss Koukawa."

"Bleh, Asuka will do just fine."

+5 REP with Asuka [5/100]

"Hey, are you trying to put the moves on my friend?!"

Onisaki apparently had enough of Cayman 'monopolizing' the pink clad woman as Asuka merely rolled her eyes, dryly retorting, "Oh now you get all possessive and affectionate. Whatever, we've got bigger fish to fry. Hey, are you two lost or something?!"

A pair of robed and hooded figures strolled down the village road, one taller than the other - although neither were that tall to begin with - as one replied with a calm and feminine tone, "It's my students first time seeing Dark Elves, one can forgive him for indulging in curiosity-"

A hand snapped out of the voluminous fabric and smacked the smaller figure across the back of the head, their attention sticking for a bit too long on a pair of passing Dark Elf posteriors.

"-to an extent."

"Did you really have to hit me, Griselda?"

The male voice accompanied the pair drawing close and removing their hoods, one a beautiful blonde woman who wore matronly appeal like a fitted suit as the other was…was…

"A former protagonist?!"

Issei Quarta, LVL 28

HP: 2200

MP: 10,000

STA: 3000

STR: 380

DEF: 450

AGI: 320

MAG: 200

MAG DEF: 1100

"What the fuuuuuuuuuuu-"


EDIT 12/10/2023

Interesting fact! If you copy paste a bunch of text directly into the space where you create a new document it will keep the font changes such as bold, underline and so on and so forth but not the formatting, such as double spacing?

But if you copy said text directly into the document editor it will keep the formatting but not the bolds, italics or anything else?

I do now.