Swapped

Chapter 2

'Slayer, get her back before she gets hurt.' Vega said.

"She is heading down the hall to the medical bay." Hayden said as the Slayer exited his private quarters.

Nodding, the Slayer ran to the stairs and climbed up them to reach the pillar that used to hold the Unmaykr. Taking a left, the Slayer ran down the hall that would take him to the medical bay. While he would never need one, the Slayer was glad he had it now as it allowed him to heal and tend to the injuries of the very few others that ever managed to get to the Fortress of Doom. And now it would let him and Vega do a more thorough evaluation of the young woman and see if there were any indications about where she was from and how she arrived. But he would 'tell' Hayden this as he was the one to suggest installing one.

'Slayer. She is at the intersection, pondering where she should go next. Take the next right, and you will see her.'

Nodding, the Slayer picked up his speed while wondering how such a young woman was able to run so fast. But that question, along with others, could be asked by Vega and Hayden later. First, he had to get to the young woman and bring her back to his private quarters to ensure she didn't get hurt or killed. Turning the corner, the Doom Slayer saw the young woman looking left and right, wondering which direction she should take.

"Oh, Earth Mother. Which path should I take? Where is the exit? Where're my friends?" Priestess asked, desperately looking back and forth, hoping something would tell her which way she should take to get out of there and away from the bloody stranger. But she tensed up considerably when she heard heavy footsteps behind her. Turning around, Priestess saw the giant figure trying to sneak up on her. However, it failed as being sneaky was hard while wearing a heavy suit of armor.

"Do not be afraid, young one. We mean you no harm. We just need to talk with you and make sure you are okay." Hayden said in as calm a voice as he could make, which still sounded cold and neutral.

"D-don't come near me. S-stay away." Priestess stuttered, raising her mace at the figure in a futile attempt to appear threatening. As Priestess did this, she readied her sounding staff to cast a miracle as she doubted she could even harm the figure.

'Don't worry, young one. We only want-' Vega began.

"STAY AWAY!" Priestess shouted.

Raising her sounding staff, Priestess closed her eyes and said a quick prayer. And before the Doom Slayer, Hayden, or Vega could do anything, a bright light appeared. It was so bright that the Doom Slayer had to raise his arm to shield his eyes. After a few seconds, the light finally died down, allowing the Slayer to lower his arm and blink a few times to let his vision refocus. But as soon as it did, the Slayer realized the girl was no longer there. Looking in each direction, he realized that she was long gone from this spot.

"Vega. Can you see what happened? Did the girl have a flashbang or something similar on her?" Hayden asked.

'One moment.' Vega said as he checked the security camera footage. 'I am sorry, Dr. Hayden. It does not appear that she had anything physical that could have caused it.'

"What do you mean by physical, Vega?" Hayden asked, curious, with the Doom Slayer also curious.

'Aside from the mace and her sounding staff, there was nothing else on her person that could suggest she had something that could have caused the blinding flash. But the origin of the flash seems to come from her staff after she said a small prayer.'

"Hmm. Interesting. Perhaps wherever she is from, things such as magic exist. But let's not jump to that conclusion just yet. The flash could have come from her staff, and her prayer was what activated it. Right now, let's focus on catching her and getting her to safety."

'She is currently heading down the hallway that would take her to the armory and vault.'

Remembering the shortcut that he always took to get to the vault, the Slayer returned to the pillar that held the Unmaykr.

Meanwhile

"Oh, Earth Mother. I knew I should have learned that language spell." Priestess said, panting, as she looked at a sign.

Finally catching her breath, Priestess adjusted her clothing before looking around to see if the intimidating figure was near. Thankfully, he wasn't. But she knew it would only be a matter of seconds before he caught her. Looking back up at the strange markings above the door, Priestess figured it was worth the risk of entering as it could be an exit. And if it weren't, it would still put more distance between herself and the figure unless it was a dead end.

Seeing a rune next to the door, Priestess figured it was an elaborate way to open a door and keep others out. And she was right, as after she pressed it, the doors slid open. Stepping inside, Priestess noticed that it was pitch black. All she could see were two torches on either side of the room. But she had to hold back from letting out a yelp when the torches suddenly sprung to life with blue flames dancing on top of them. And not even a second later, the other torches that were in the room also lit up by themselves, bathing the entire room in an eerie blue light.

But the light allowed Priestess to see that the only thing in the room was a massive well of some kind. Letting her curiosity get the better of her, Priestess walked over to the well. But as she got nearer, she could feel the temperature rising slightly and hear what sounded like lightning. Reaching the steps, Priestess climbed them to the top and peaked inside the well.

"What is this?" Priestess asked, curious, as she saw the red bubbling liquid inside the well. It bubbled and radiated some strange warmth. Yet, it was the kind of warmth that she did not want to be around for long, like a forest fire. But as she kept looking at it, a thought came to her mind. "Wait. Maybe this is water that's corrupted or something. Perhaps I can purify it."

"WAIT! DO NOT TOUCH THAT!" Hayden shouted, startling Priestess. Turning around, she saw the figure walking toward her at a slow pace with his hands up as if trying to show he wasn't a threat.

"EEP!" Priestess squeaked, bringing up her sounding staff.

'Watch your step, young lady. That is not water. It is a dangerous substance that could have possible life-altering effects if you were to fall into it.' Vega warned, causing Priestess to step away from the well. Yet, she made a mental to remember the place. While she knew it might be a transgression against the Earth Mother, it would be worth it if it meant saving many. Taking a few steps closer to the figure, Priestess readied herself. Once the Doom Slayer moved to place his hand on her shoulder, Priestess cast her Holy Light miracle again. And once the Doom Slayer took a step back, she bolted out of the room.

"Vega. Start making plans to upgrade the Slayer's suit and visor to protect himself against flashes like that." Hayden said as the dots slowly vanished from the Slayer's vision. While the imps' fireballs were pretty bright, they were never as bright as whatever the young girl did.

'At once-Slayer! The young maiden is heading to the elevator that would take her to the Ripatorium. If she gets there, the demons will undoubtedly rip her apart.' Vega warned. And despite having a mostly neutral voice, both Hayden and the Doom Slayer could tell he was heavily concerned about their guest's safety.

Nodding, the Doom Slayer raced out of the room and headed to the elevator. But, to his dismay, it was already heading down to the Ripatorium. Not wasting any time, the Slayer turned around and jumped over the railing. And despite the fall being over a few stories, he landed with no problems thanks to his suit's pressure compensators. Moving to the opposite end of the room, the Slayer grabbed the emergency hatch and ripped it off before jumping in.

Landing on the Atlan, the Slayer got in and activated it with what little power it had. He then used the shoulder cannon to blast a hole into the Ripatorium. Now, with a way into the Ripatorium, the Slayer exited the Atlan before jumping through the hole and landing on one of the broken pillars. And no sooner than he landed, the elevator opened to reveal a confused Priestess. But her confusion turned to fear when the demons appeared. Knowing what he had to do, the Slayer reached for his Super Shotgun, only to remember that it was no longer there.

"AAAAHHHHHH!" Priestess screamed when an Arch-vile roared while bringing its arms up, creating fire around it and summoning a Whiplash, a Cyber Mancubus, a Pinky, a Cacodemon, and a Hell Knight.

Not wasting any time, the Slayer took out his Heavy Cannon with the Precision Bolt Mod attached and fired three shots at the Arch-vile's head, killing it. And before its body could even hit the floor, the Slayer froze the other demons with an Ice Bomb. Seeing the familiar sight, the demons turned to the Slayer and let out screeches or roars that were loud enough that Priestess had to cover her ears. But it proved futile when she heard a deafening boom.

With the Cyber Mancubus and Hell Knight dead, the Doom Slayer ran past the other demons while using the Full-Auto mod on the Combat Shotgun to tear apart the Pinky. He would have immediately turned to the Whiplash once the Pinky was only chunks, but getting to and protecting their guest was more important.

"Hold on tight and whatever you do. DON'T. LET. GO!" Hayden warned as the Slayer placed Priestess on his back and had her wrap her arms around his neck.

'Do not worry. You will be okay, and it will be over soon. But you may want to cover your eyes.' Vega added. And even though Priestess still didn't know or trust them, she felt inclined to believe him. Nodding, she closed her eyes as the Doom Slayer swapped the Combat Shotgun's Full Auto mod for the Sticky Bomb Mod.

The Doom Slayer and Demons stared at each other for a second before the demons let out another roar as more appeared. And as soon as they did, the Slayer launched a grenade into the Cacodemon's mouth, shocking and stunning it when the grenade exploded. With the Cacodemon stunned, the Slayer ducked to avoid the Whiplashe's attack before retaliating with a charged Ballista shot to the head. He then dashed and jumped to the Cacodemon and used his Doomblade to forcibly remove the eye. Landing back on the ground, the Doom Slayer swapped his Ballista for his Chaingun. Yet, no sooner than he did, something sent him and Priestess skidding back a good ten feet.

"What was that?" Priestess asked, scared, as she saw nothing. But the Doom Slayer knew what hit them.

"A Specter." Hayden answered. Glaring at the Demon, The Slayer charged at it, with the Specter roaring before charging as well. And right before they collided, the Doom Slayer dashed to the left and delivered a blood punch to the Specter, causing it to blow into chunks.

"W-What?" Priestess asked, shocked at how the figure managed to make bloody chunks appear out of nowhere.

'Please, keep your eyes closed until the encounter is over.' Vega reminded, causing Priestess to close her eyes.

Swapping the current mod for the Mobile Turret mod, the Doom Slayer activated the other two turrets of the Chaingun and began firing at all the demons he could see, turning them into a bloody mess. Hearing the familiar sound of a missile locking on and some red lasers, the Doom Slayer ran forward to avoid the barrage of missiles the Revenant sent his way. But instead of leaving as Priestess had hoped, the Doom Slayer ran toward the Revenant. And once he was underneath it, he pulled out his chainsaw, jumped up, and sawed the Revenant in half, spraying blood everywhere.

'He's more brutal than Goblin Slayer.' Priestess thought when she felt the familiar but unwelcomed feeling of the warm liquid hitting her skin.

Landing back on the ground, the Doom Slayer swapped the Chaingun for his Plasma Rifle with the Heat Blast mod. He then began blasting away at the demons as he ducked and weaved between everything they fired at him. And any demons that tried their luck by getting close to him were instantly turned into a puddle of blood and guts when the Slayer activated the Heat Blast mod, causing the Plasma Rifle to release a concentrated blast of heat.

After staggering a Dread Knight, the Slayer used his Doomblade to cut off its hand before decapitating it. Seeing that some demons that were coming at him were in groups, the Slayer quickly moved to a boost pad that launched him into the air. He then took out his Hellbreaker and used his dash ability to slam it onto the ground, creating a shockwave that killed or staggered all the demons. The Slayer then delivered another swift Blood Punch, killing the remaining demons.

"WATCH OUT!" Priestess shouted.

Looking to where she was pointing at, the Doom Slayer saw that she was pointing at an Arch-vile with its arms in the air and surrounded by fire. Instinctively, the Doom Slayer took out his Chaingun with the Precision Bolt Mod and killed the Arch-Vile the second its protective flames died down. But it was too late as three Tryants and two Fireborne Barons appeared and roared once they saw the Doom Slayer. Knowing that their guest could easily get hurt, the Slayer decided to end this quickly. Taking out his Combat Shotgun with the Sticky Bomb Mod equipped, the Slayer charged at the Demons while firing at them as they took aim and tanked the hits. However, the Slayer stopped dead in his tracks once he reached the halfway point when a wall of light appeared out of nowhere.

"What... is this?" Hayden asked as the Slayer looked at the wall. Even the Demons seemed confused by the wall of pure light as they stopped aiming at the Doom Slayer.

'It appears to be a wall of light, Dr. Hayden. It seems to be radiating some kind of energy and has other unknown properties that I can not make out.' Vega said.

"That should keep us safe for a moment." Priestess said, sighing in relief.

"Did you make this?" Hayden asked.

"Yes. It's one of the miracles the Earth Mother allowed me to do."

"We have a lot to discuss once this is over."

Feeling that 'a lot' was an understatement, the Slayer wanted to start as soon as they could to get it over with and get some much-needed answers. But first, he would need to take care of the remaining demons. Putting away his Combat Shotgun, the Slayer swapped it for the Unmaykr and waited for the wall to dissipate. And after a few moments, it finally disappeared. However, the Slayer was unsure if it was because it 'expired' or if their guest made it go away. But once it did, the Slayer pulled the trigger with the Unmaykr obliterating the Demons and turning them into chunks. And with them dead, the elevator's doors opened as the session ended.

"That was- extreme. And messy." Priestess said as the Doom Slayer made his way to the elevator. 'I'm going to need to take a shower.'

"Yes, but nowhere near as messy as typically gets." Hayden said.

"I-I don't want to imagine that."

'You don't have to. Right now, the only enemies are in this room. If we avoid this room, they will not appear. You are safe as long as you stay with us. I assure you, none of us will hurt you.' Vega said, trying to calm Priestess's nerves.

"A-alright." Priestess said as the Doom Slayer stepped inside the elevator with the doors closing a second later.

Meanwhile

"PRIESTESS!" High Elf Archer shouted as they looked around their surroundings for any clue about their missing party member.

"PRIESTESS!" Lizard Priest shouted.

"Are you sure this is the place, Beardcutter?" Dwarf Shaman asked.

"Yes. This is the place. I even checked with Guild Girl to ensure it was." Goblin Slayer answered as he scanned the area. Even though he doubted there were any goblins or enemies nearby, there was something about the place that greatly unnerved him.

"But something seems off, right?" High Elf Archer asked.

"Yes. But I can't place what."

"What was Priestess supposed to do again?" Dwarf Shaman asked.

"She was supposed to purify the water some adventurers brought."

"Did it say anything else?"

"Not much, and everything seemed to be in order."

"Perhaps we could find the adventurers. Maybe they might have some idea of where Priestess is." High Elf Archer suggested.

"If we could find them, that is. Or anyone, for that matter. This place seems deserted." Lizard Priest said, looking around.

"Where is everyone?" Dwarf Shaman asked, looking around. While everything seemed normal, there was something offputting about the place.

"Somewhere. We should hurry up and find something that could lead us to Priestess. I don't like it here." Goblin Slayer said as he took out his shortsword.

"Yeah. Something just doesn't sit right with me." High Elf Archer said, scanning the tree line while carefully listening for anything.

"HEY! I THINK I FOUND SOMETHING!" Lizard Priest shouted, getting their attention.

"What did you find, Scaly?" Dwarf Shamen asked as they ran over to him.

"Something... unsettling."

"How so?" High Elf Archer asked.

"I'm pretty sure these are the barrels of water that Priestess was supposed to purify."

"That's great. Now we know we are on the right path."

"But why is that unsettling?" Goblin Slayer asked.

"It's what I found behind the barrels that's unsettling." Lizard Priest answered, showing them a strange weapon and a mysterious note.

"What does it say?" High Elf Archer asked as Goblin Slayer took and looked over the note.

"Not sure. I can't make heads or tails of the writing. I'm not even sure if it is writing or just random scribbles." Goblin Slayer answered, feeling annoyed at not being able to understand it. While he knew Priestess could handle herself for a bit and had been getting better, he still was worried.

"Perhaps Arc Mage or someone similar might have a spell that could possibly translate it." Dwarf Shamen said.

"Maybe. We should pay whoever we agree on a visit when we get back."

"But what about this thing?" High Elf Archer asked, pointing to the Super Shotgun.

"I wanna say it's a weapon of some kind because of the blood stains. Then again, almost anything can be used as a bludgeoning weapon in the right hands. But its shape and design would make it impractical to use it as one." Lizard Priest said.

"Let me see it."

"Careful, High Elf Archer. It is-" Lizard Priest began, handing the weapon to her, only to wince when he let go of it and let it drop into her hands, causing her to fall to the floor with it. "Heavy."

"AH! HA! HA! HA!" Dwarf Shamen laughed.

"WHAT... UGH... IS THIS... UGH... MADE... OF?" High Elf Archer asked, struggling to lift the weapon.

"I don't know. But whatever it is, it's got to weigh a good twenty or more kilograms." Lizard Priest said.

"It must have been specially designed for someone." Goblin Slayer said as he took the weapon with only some effort. It was heavy, to say the least, but he was pretty sure he could learn to wield it with both hands over time. But at the same time, he was curious about who it was for and if the owner was what took Priestess.

"Perhaps one of the local blacksmiths could figure something out about it." Dwarf Shamen said.

"Maybe." Goblin Slayer said before turning to Lizard Priest. "Did you find anything else?"

"No. That was all that was there. There was no other trace or clue about who/what was here. Whatever took Priestess, if that's the case, was thorough about the whole thing and made sure not to leave behind any trace." Lizard Priest answered.

"Then, if that's the case, we are either dealing with an expert or a mage who knows some powerful spells." Dwarf Shamen said.

"Doesn't matter. We will get Priestess back. But first, we need to find a clue about where she could have gone or if she was kidnapped in the first place. Come on. Let's head to Arc Mage. She might have something that could translate this." Goblin Slayer said. Nodding, the rest of the party followed him back to town.

Thirty Minutes Later

"Yes?" Arc Mage asked, opening the door, curious as to who would be knocking on her door. And she was surprised to see Goblin Slayer and his party. But she became slightly concerned when she didn't see Priestess. "Goblin Slayer and party. What brings you here today?"

"Something happened with Priestess. We need help." Goblin Slayer said.

"What happened?" Arc Mage asked as she ushered them into her place.

"We don't know everything." Dwarf Shaman began.

"All we know is that she went to purify some barrels of water some adventurers brought. But that should have taken about half an hour at the most. Yet, it's been about five hours since then." Lizard Priest continued.

"Couldn't she have simply gone someplace else?" Arc Mage asked. "She is her own person after all and has her own life."

"I reminded her to head to the smith to get some new chainmail. She also said she would be at the temple to pray for the rest of the day. But she wasn't at either of those locations, and no one there saw her enter or leave." Goblin Slayer answered.

"Still. She could have gone someplace else."

"Not without telling us or someone she trusts. No one knows where she is."

"No one that you would know. Still, Priestess might just be around or helping some people. And even if she was missing, why did you come here? I'm not a tracker."

"We thought so, too. Well, I did anyway. But that was until Scaly here found this." Dwarf Shaman said before pointing to Lizard Priest as he held the strange-looking weapon and note.

"Hmmm. I'm not a weapons expert, but let me see it."

"Careful. It's a bit heavy." Lizard Priest warned. Yet, Dwarf Shamen laughed at High Elf Archer's expression when Arc Mage took it with no problem.

"Hmm. Heavy, but not unwieldy like some other weapons. But it would definitely take some strength and time to use this weapon effectively for whatever purpose it has."

"Do you have any idea what purpose it has?" High Elf Archer asked, curious.

"No. Again, I'm not a weapons expert. And even if I were, I would still be more interested in the writing on the metal part." Arc Mage said as she traced the writing with her fingers. And for whatever reason, she had to suppress a shiver when she did it.

"This paper was next to it when Lizard Priest found it. It seems to have the same type of writing on it as the weapon. Do you think you could translate or have a spell that could translate it?" Goblin Slayer asked as he showed Arc Mage the paper.

"Well, there is the Mircale called Communicate, which makes it so that whoever cat it can understand and communicate another person's language. But, to my knowledge, there is no miracle that does the same for writing." Arc Mage said as she went over to a nearby bookshelf. "However, there are a few spells that can translate the writings of any language. And luckily for you all, I have it with me."

"How long will it take for the spell to translate the writings?" Lizard Priest asked, curious.

"That's where it gets complicated."

"How so?" Goblin Slayer asked.

"There are hundreds of known languages and thousands of dead or forgotten languages. So, it would take some time for the spell to correctly translate the writing and find suitable replacements as there might not be an equivalent in our language."

"How long?"

"If we're lucky, a few hours. But considering how the writings seem like runes, I would say twelve hours, and at most, twenty-four."

"I'm not too big on long wait times, but if it helps us find Priestess, then I'm willing to wait." High Elf Archer said.

"I'm still not entirely convinced Priestess is missing. But if that is the case, then this should hopefully point us in the right direction. And if not, it would at least possibly give us some insight on a new culture and their technology." Arc Mage said, curious about the weapon's creators.

"Is there anything we can do in the meantime?" Dwarf Shaman asked.

"Not on this end. But I would suggest you see one of the local smiths to see if they can give you any more information on the weapon."

"Alright. Thanks, Arc Mage." Goblin Slayer said as he took the weapon and exited, followed by High Elf Archer and Dwarf Shamen.

"You felt the chill go down your spine, too, when you touched the writing." Lizard Priest said.

"Yeah." Arc Mage said, feeling incredibly distressed. "I don't know why, but it felt like the wording was a warning to all about its wielder like they are a Hellwalker."

"Or an unchained predator."

"We should probably prepare for a tough battle if the wielder does show up or if they were the one that supposedly kidnapped Priestess."

"And warn the others. We might need allies."

"I'll send a message to some people I trust. They might be willing to lend a hand."

"We would appreciate it, Arc Mage. Have a good day." Lizard Priest said before leaving and running to catch up with the rest of his party.

"I really hope for their sake that Priestess is still around and not missing or kidnapped." Arc Mage said, suppressing another shiver when she looked at the runes on the paper. Breathing out a few times, she steeled herself before getting back to work.

Twenty Minutes Later

"Goblin Slayer. Here for another round of cheap equipment?" Smith asked as he stopped banging on a sword when he spotted the familiar sight of Goblin Slayer and his party.

"No. I'm good on equipment." Goblin Slayer answered.

"Then why are you here?"

"We need your help." High Elf Archer answered.

"That's different." Smith said, surprised. "What do you need help with?"

"This." Goblin Slayer answered, placing the weapon on the counter. "We found it while searching for Priestess, who has gone missing. And we found it where she was supposed to purify some water some adventurers brought. We want to know if you can figure out anything about it."

"Alright. Let me take a look at it." Smith said as he picked up the weapon.

And the first thing Smith took note of was the weight. But not because of how heavy it was, instead, how it was distributed. Most of the time, a weapon had the majority of its weight at a specific point to increase its effectiveness. Yet, this seemed to be evenly balanced, with it only being slightly heavier toward the end. The next thing Smith took notice of was the material. At first glance, it would seem to have been made out of wood and steel. However, due to his years of experience, he knew that wasn't the case. But what piqued his interest was the little lever button on the underside of the weapon near where the metal ended, and the wood began.

"Stand back. Let me try something." Smith said. Nodding, Lizard Priest, High Elf Archer, and Dwarf Shamen stepped back while Goblin Slayer stood in place. Rolling his eye at Goblin Slayer, Smith adjusted his grip on the weapon before pressing the button.

"WOAH!" Lizard Priest, Dwarf Shamen, and High Elf Archer shouted, surprised when a hook fired from the weapon. And they were even more shocked when the force behind it was strong enough to pierce through Smith's shop walls.

"That's interesting. I can't say I've seen that before." Smith said as he struggled to pull the hook out of the wall.

"Let me help." Lizard Priest said as he helped Smith remove the hook after the third try.

"Thanks."

"You're welcome, Smith."

"Okay. What would the point of something like that be? It seems rather impractical." Dwarf Shamen asked.

"Impaling others at range, I guess. And judging from the force behind it, I would say whoever designed it wanted the hooks to be able to penetrate most armor. Not only that, they wanted to ensure that the target potentially gets set on fire." Smith answered as he manually put the hook back where he thought it went while looking at the red-hot holes in his wall. "There also must be something here that would make the hook retract."

"Still. I think it has another function." High Elf Archer said.

"It must have, 'cause I don't think the holes at the end of it are there for decoration."

"True."

"Can you tell us if there is any indication about who its owner might be or who created it?" Goblin Slayer asked.

"Maybe. But I will need time to figure that out."

"Alright. We'll be back." Goblin Slayer sighed. As much as he wanted answers, he knew it would take time since it was an unknown weapon.

"If we don't see each other, I'll send a message to Guild Girl to tell you." Smith said before disappearing.

"What should we do in the meantime?" Dwarf Shamen asked.

"We train and get ready. Something tells me we will be in for the fight of our lives once we meet the owner of this weapon." Goblin Slayer said.

"We should also see if other adventurers are willing to help us." High Elf Archer said.

"Good thinking. I'll see if any of my people would be willing to lend a hand." Lizard Priest said.

"Right. And we should start as soon as we can." Goblin Slayer said before everyone left.

Meanwhile

"Here we are. The medbay." Hayden said as the Doom Slayer pressed the button to open the door and enter. He then placed Priestess on the bed before going over to one of the nearby cabinets.

"Medbay?" Priestess asked, confused, as she looked around the room. While some things seemed familiar, the rest didn't.

"Where sick and injured people get treated."

"Oh."

'Okay. Before we continue, we have to check you over. Do not worry, it is non-invasive.' Vega assured.

"Okay." Priestess said as the Doom Slayer examined her head, arms, and legs for any injuries or cuts she might have received while they were in the Ripatorium. Thankfully, while there were some bruises, they didn't seem to be from the demons.

"How are you feeling? Do you feel any light-headedness, dizziness, nausea, or anything similar?" Hayden asked as Doom Slayer applied some cream to help the bruising go down.

"No. I feel fine. Well, I did feel a bit weak when after escaping your room."

"That could be from how you arrived here, which we will discuss after we are finished here."

"Alright."

'Do you have any pre-existing conditions that your healers told you about?' Vega asked.

"Um. I think one of them said I should be eating more fruit and vegetables and cut down on the watered-down wine I have for lunch."

"Vega. Run a blood test." Hayden said.

'At once, Hayden.' Vega said as he started up a nearby machine.

"Blood test?" Priestess asked, confused.

'A way to see if there are any underlying conditions. We just need a small sample of your blood. Do not worry; it will not hurt.'

"A-alright. How will you do it?" Priestess asked, scared as Doom Slayer readied a needle before gently poking her with it and drawing some blood. And to her surprise, it didn't hurt. "Huh. I guess you were right. It didn't hurt."

"Despite being a brute, the Doom Slayer can sometimes be gentle." Hayden said, earning a glare, as the Doom Slayer placed the blood into a vial and placed it inside a machine.

'One moment.' Vega said as he ran the tests. 'Done.'

"Wow. That fast?" Priestess asked. While she didn't know what happened, she was amazed they were able to do it this quickly.

"Did you find anything, Vega?" Hayden asked.

'She seems to be in perfect health, Hayden. But there is one thing. How old are you, young one?' Vega asked.

"Seventeen."

"What is it, Vega?" Hayden asked.

'Her hemoglobin levels are slightly low. While nothing to worry about yet, it would be recommended to increase it.'

"Hemoglobin?" Priestess asked, confused.

"Something that keeps your blood healthy and going without any problem." Hayden answered.

"Oh. So, how do I increase it?"

'There are several ways to increase your hemoglobin levels. The simplest of which is to change the foods you eat. The foods that would be best suited are fish, eggs, spinach, rice, and peanuts.' Vega answered.

"Okay."

"Anything else, Vega?" Hayden asked.

'No, Hayden. There were no other conditions that I detected.'

"So, what now?" Priestess asked, curious.

"We head back to the Slayer's private quarters to talk. There is a lot we need to go over." Hayden answered as the Slayer placed Priestess on his shoulders. While he knew she could have walked, he did not want to chase her again.

Five Minutes Later

"So, what do you want to know?" Priestess asked, sitting in the Doom Slayer's chair while he sat in another. But as she asked this, she looked around the room in fascination. While most seemed alien and nonsensical to her, some of the things did seem interesting to her. However, she wondered why the figure had three guitars, with one of them glowing red.

"First, before we begin, I need to ask you this. Are there creatures such as trolls in your world?" Hayden asked.

"Yes. They are powerful creatures known for their regenerative powers. But they are a bit slow."

"Hmm. Interesting. Anyway. Let's get introductions out of the way. My name is Dr. Samuel Hayden."

'And I am Vega.'

"And the large figure you see in front of you is the Doom Slayer." Hayden said as the Doom Slayer kept his focus on her, but not in an intimidating way.

"Oh. So neither of your voices are coming from him."

"No."

"Then where are you two?" Priestess asked, looking around the room.

"Think of Vega and me as familiars, but ones without bodies."

"Alright."

'What is your name?' Vega asked.

"Priestess."

"Priestess?" Hayden asked in a deadpan voice.

"Yes. That's my name."

'Your actual name or a title given to you?' Vega asked.

"My actual name." Even the Doom Slayer raised an eyebrow at this.

"Very creative. Anyway. What was the last thing you remember before arriving here?" Hayden asked.

"Where is here anyway?"

"Currently, we are in the Fortress of Doom."

"Yeah. And you called my name 'creative.'" Priestess said, earning a shrug from the Doom Slayer. He never named the fortress; he just used it as a base/home. Although, he would admit the name could be better. "Anyway. The last thing I remember before coming here was arriving at some barrels of water some adventurers brought to town. But I noticed something off, then I felt drained, passed out, and the next thing I knew, I was here."

'Why did you have to go to them?' Vega asked.

"Guild Girl said they wanted me to go purify the water they brought."

"How would you or did you purify the water?" Hayden asked.

"With the miracle: Purify."

"And how do... you do this... miracle? Is it like magic?"

"No. Magic is something anyone can learn through a variety of ways. Miracles, you must pledge yourself to a god or deity."

"Well, that's automatically out." Hayden said as the Doom Slayer balled his fists.

"Why?" Priestess asked, confused.

"Let's just say someone here isn't very religious, which is putting it lightly."

'What diety have you pledged yourself to, Priestess?' Vega asked.

"I pledged myself to the Earth Mother." Priestess answered.

"Earth Mother? Do you mean like Gaia, Aine, Bhooma Devi, or Terra?" Hayden asked.

"I don't recognize those names. But I can't really give you a definite answer since I don't know her name. Me and everyone who has ever pledged themselves to her only know as Earth Mother."

"And it was this Earth Mother that allowed you to use this miracle: Purify."

"That's right."

'What about the blinding flash?' Vega asked.

"That was the miracle: Holy Light. It creates a blinding light. I can keep it up for longer, but it drains me."

"Does this Earth Mother have to be present for you to be able to use these miracles?" Hayden asked.

"I'm not too sure. I guess there are places that would cut me off from her." Priestess answered after thinking it over. "Why?"

"Let's just say that if there is an Earth Mother in this universe, I doubt she would be in a... giving mood considering what the planet has gone through."

"Huh?"

"Forget about that. It's not important at the moment. But as you probably already guessed, you are far from home."

"Yeah. I don't recognize anything here. It seems so... foreign, no offense. But uh, how far away I am from home?"

"Take a look for yourself." Hayden answered as the Doom Slayer input some commands into his computer, with the shields lowering a second later to reveal space and Earth.

"Wow. Wait. Is that Earth?" Priestess asked, amazed.

"Yes, but not your Earth or the one you know."

"What do you mean?"

'We have nothing concrete yet. But you came here through a golden portal, likely from your universe's Earth.' Vega began.

"Like a gate scroll?"

"How does a gate scroll work?" Hayden asked.

"I'm not entirely sure since scrolls contain magic spells that have long since been lost. But gate scrolls work by having the caster inscribe a place into it with a gate/door appearing that will take you to that place."

"Then we doubt it was a gate scroll that brought you here."

"Why is that?"

'You arrived here through a golden portal. Additionally, as you said, after checking something, you felt drained and passed out. You woke up shortly after arriving here with no abnormalities to your health.' Vega answered.

"So, how do you think I got here? And where is here, exactly?"

"We don't know how you got here, which is another universe far different than yours."

'Far different seems like an understatement. But this planet seems pretty. But what are those strange symbols? Although, I should probably wait a bit to ask Vega. This Hayden doesn't seem too pleased that I am here, and Doom Slayer hasn't said a word.' Priestess thought as she gazed at the planet. "Do you have any idea who or what could have sent me here?"

"Unfortunately, no. While we have made numerous discoveries in our universe, there is still much to learn. For all we know, this could have been an accident on our end or some other ancient civilization reawakening and trying something new." Hayden answered. While it was true that they learned plenty about the Night Sentinels, Maykrs, and Hell, there was still much they needed to learn, such as the other civilizations the Night Sentinels fought before meeting the Doom Slayer. "And that's not including your world, where magic and gods exist."

"True. But would it be possible to send me back?" Priestess asked, sounding worried. While the idea of exploring an advanced world that didn't have her world's problems did sound like a lot of fun, she already missed her friends and wanted to return to them soon.

'Yes. Rest assured, Priestess. In our universe, things such as creating portals that lead to different planes/planets already exist. While it would take us some time, it is possible for us to send you back to your universe. We would just need to locate your universe.' Vega assured.

"Vega is right. We just need time, and you will be back with your friends and family." Hayden said with the Doom Slayer nodding.

"Thank you." Priestess said with a small smile before letting out a small yawn.

'Are you tired?' Vega asked.

"A little. I guess whatever brought me here took more of my energy than I thought."

"Does casting your miracles make you tired?" Hayden asked.

"Only when I use holy light and maintain it for a longer duration."

'Then you should probably take a nap.' Vega said.

"But... Where can I take a nap?"

'There is a guest room nearby. The Slayer will show you the way.'

"Rest well, Priestess. Once you wake up, we will finish going over our next step in getting you back home." Hayden said as the Slayer led Priestess to the guest room. After a few moments, the Slayer returned. But he made sure to lock his quarter's doors once he got back to his desk. "Vega."

'I have been monitoring her levels, and she seems to be telling the truth, Hayden.'

"Hmm. Interesting. This means there are other universes out there, which means potential new allies and enemies."

"Unf." Doom Slayer grunted.

'The Slayer is right, Hayden. The probability of finding new enemies is far greater than that of finding new allies.'

"I know, Vega. I do not plan on trying to make new allies from other universes. The risk is too great. All I am thinking about is what it would take to prevent more portals that would lead to other universes after we return Priestess to hers."

'Do you have any leads about where we should start?'

"Only one. But it's a long shot."

"Unf."

"It would require us to see if we can capture an energy reading of some kind when Priestess casts one of her miracles. If we can capture something, we can trace it back to her world. If not, we would have to figure out another way since her anatomy is the same as the people from our Earth."

'Perhaps an answer might lay in Argent D'Nur or Taras Nabad?'

Hearing this, the Slayer cupped his hand on his helmet. While he didn't know everything about the Night Sentinels or Argenta in general, he knew they were pretty advanced. And they had already traveled to far places before he even arrived at Sentinel Prime. Heck, the Slayer could even use himself as an example of the possibility of visiting other universes, as he is not native to this one. And while most of Argenta and the Night Sentinels fell during the civil war and demonic invasion, the Slayer was positive they could find something in the ruins.

"Maybe. There is still a whole world to the people of Argenta and Argent D'Nur that we still have to discover." Hayden said with the Doom Slayer nodding.

'But there is something else we need to discuss, Hayden.'

"What is it, Vega?"

'What should we do with Priestess in the meantime? And what should we do if we can't return her to her universe? She can't live here in the Fortress of Doom.' Vega said, surprising Hayden and the Doom Slayer.

"We should probably make this place a bit safer and more hospitable then." Hayden said, still surprised that it flew over his head.

But while both AI discussed how to make the Fortress of Doom more hospitable, the Doom Slayer pondered the situation. Yes, these space stations could house multiple people for long periods of time. But it has been more than a few millennia since that has happened. Most rooms would be in desperate need of maintenance or would require a complete overhaul. Thankfully, some other amenities are still functional, like the bathrooms.

But then there would be food and drinks. While the Slayer knew he didn't need either due to the Divinity machine, Priestess would eventually get hungry and thirsty. The thing is, he was unsure of how he would stock up on Earth food without causing a commotion or panic. And while there is food in the Sentinel Home Worlds, the Slayer wasn't sure if they were safe for Priestess to consume.

Yet, those were just the temporary things. Yes, it would take some time to make Priestess's time on the fortress more comfortable, but it is possible. But what about the long term if they couldn't find a way to bring her back to her universe? The Slayer knew he couldn't look after her, especially since the only form of 'care' he had given to any living creature was his pet bunny, Daisy. And taking care of a bunny was far different from caring for someone who could cast miracles. Not to mention, he, Hayden, Vega, and the Night Sentinels were still hunting down the last demons and Maykrs. And once they found them, who knows how long it would be before he could return. While Priestess does seem to have some combat knowledge under her belt, it wouldn't be enough against the demons.

'We would need someone with experience in raising/caring for kids. While there are books out there we could download, first-hand experience is always better.' Vega said. But hearing this, the Doom Slayer remembered something.

"What are you doing, Slayer?" Hayden asked as the Doom Slayer went to his computer and pulled up some files.

'That is correct. Commander Valen of the Night Sentinels was a parent as he used to have a son. While not the best, his advice should be more than sufficient until we return Priestess to her home universe.'

"Then we have our plan. Once Priestess wakes up from her nap, we will take her to Argent D'Nur to seek out Valen's advice and possibly get her some better armor than the chainmail she is wearing underneath her robes." Hayden said. Nodding, the Slayer went about getting everything ready to travel to Argent D'Nur. While he would only need his weapons, the Slayer figured he would grab a few more things he might need since they would be taking Priestess with them.

'Do you have any leads on who could help us with getting her home, Hayden?'

"There are several still alive ARC scientists that have been studying portals. Luckily, the top researcher is one of the survivors."

'What is their name?' Vega asked.

"Dr. Elena Richardson."

*SNAP*