Chapter 1: Chapter 1: A New World
Agent of the Multiverse: Evenicle
A New World
In a hidden room in a hidden castle in a far off shard of a shattered universe sat two people, both very different and yet closely connected. One was male, with dark black hair and clad in smooth white robes embossed with golden patterns, a pure white sword hilt strapped to his side. He bore an expression of annoyance, as he often did these days, as he looked upon his partner rummaging around, half her body hidden away in a hole of darkness.
"You should be more careful," he warned. "Any further and you'll fall right in."
A snorting laugh returned to him as she popped out of the hole with an insufferable grin on her face. "As if I'd fall for something that simple," she told him as she stood up to her admittedly limited height, only coming up to his chest. She was dressed in an off-white kimono with a black shawl and tresses, held together with dull red ribbons the same color as her eyes, while her ice blue hair was pulled back into twin tails by a pair of black ribbons.
In her arms was a pile of manga of all styles and colors, a few falling out of her grasp onto the floor as she smirked at him.
"And what about that time you did fall in?" the man taunted as she let the rest drop and started sorting through them, tossing them seemingly at random over her shoulder as she went.
"Incidental, and not at all a big deal." She picked up one lengthy tome, flicked through it rapidly, then grunted and threw it away like the rest. "Besides, I needed some new reading material at some point, might as well grab it in bulk."
The man sighed, ignoring the few books that bounced off his chest in her hasty throws. "I don't know why you bother with grabbing so many. You barely read them in the first place."
"Well I don't need the whole thing anyway," she retorted. "Just the summary. But so many of them put too much detail into it, ruins the narrative."
Pinching his nose to keep his frustration bottled up, the man looked down at her and said, "Most people would say the opposite is true."
"Those people would be wrong. Subjectively."
Eventually she sat up from her pile, which had been much diminished by her random 'sorting', and huffed with annoyance. "Not a single one has the emptiness I'm looking for. They all have too much plot, too much character. I need the raw story, not the fluff!"
"Why don't you just make them up?" he asked her, then grunted as a book was thrown straight as his head hard enough to knock even him for a loop.
"Arthur you dolt, that will never work!" she shouted at him. "I can't make this stuff up, if I did then it would be hollow!"
Glaring up at her from the floor, he said, "Isn't that the point though, Qu?"
"No! Not even close!"
The argument continued for a while, as it usually did, ending as it always does with Qu sitting atop Arthur with a lewd grin and him paralyzed beneath her, trying not to show his excitement at her attention. Then, like usual, she yawned and slid off him, ignoring his wanting expression for the split second it appeared and was replaced by his typical scowl.
It was a routine they'd played out hundreds, maybe thousands of times by now, but neither of them tried to think about the years and centuries like that. The madness of it got boring after a while.
"Well all that was a bust," Qu said as she torched the pile of manga without leaving even a trace of soot on her floor. "Maybe the next search will be better."
Arthur rolled his eyes and turned his attention to the magivision while she opened her gravity portal again and started to dig through it. His attention was immediately pulled back though when he heard a female voice screaming through the portal, turning to see Qu get flung through the air along with another form that launched itself out of the darkness and smacked into the wall hard enough to leave a dent.
A quick glance showed that Qu was fine, as he expected, so he looked back to the girl slowly sliding down the wall into a crumpled heap on the floor. Suspicious and cautious as was his wont, he flashed his uniform into existence, white armor clad in green cloth embroidered with gold. He held his shield-clad arm in front of him, forgoing pulling his sword off his back for now, at least until he knew whether or not the intruder was a threat.
"Qu, did you mean to pull a person through?" he asked in a low voice.
Qu moaned deliriously for a moment before shaking her head vigorously to clear it. "What? No, of course not! She was already flying at me when I opened the portal up!"
Arthur blinked in surprise, then looked back at the girl and tilted his head. "Well if you didn't mean to bring her here… who is she?"
Edging forward slowly Arthur got close enough to poke the girl with his boot, which drew a loud 'Ouch!' from the girl and got her to look up at him. Her eyes were a dark silver, like the root of a sword, while her hair was deep orange like the sunset, long enough to reach her shoulders in an untamed tangle. She wore a curiously patterned set of clothes, with varying patches of dark green and lime-blacks that did weird things to his vision. Strapped to her belt was a curious item, an L shaped metal block with strange carvings and etchings in it.
"Who… are you?" he asked, his bewilderment leaking into his voice.
"I could ask you the same question," she retorted, standing up before him and immediately slipping into a prepared stance he could tell was defensive, even without recognizing the form. Now that she was standing, he could get a better look at her figure, and being a male with much experience in the field, he was quite impressed. Her clothes cut off at the midriff and upper thighs, showing creamy white skin that had undercurrents of muscle, showing a measure of strength unusual in women this fine. Her breasts were, if not exceptional, then quite fine in their own right. A handful worth each, and rather perky.
"Done checking me out, wise guy?" she taunted, forcing him to refocus at her glaring face.
"You haven't answered my question," he said, ignoring her statement. "Who are you, and why are you here?"
The girl pursed her lips, folding her arms over her chest. "The second answer feeds into the first, so I'll give that one after I get a bit of information myself. Where am I exactly? And I don't mean geographically, I mean metaphysically."
"You are in the World of Eve," Qu answered the girl, a sly grin on her face. "One of the shattered shards of a larger world broken apart a long, long time ago. Specifically you're in the shard that has the Right Arm of the Archfiend in it."
Arthur looked at Qu out of the corner of his eye, confused as to her answer, but to his surprise the girl seemed to understand her. "The World of Eve, huh? Must be a meta-plane I haven't heard of before. Still, I suppose this is my new assignment, so I'd better get up to speed. Any world-threatening events on the horizon you need my help with?"
Arthur blanched, both at the suggestion of such a looming future and the nonchalance of the girl for suggesting it. "We have no idea what you're talking about! This world is peaceful and stable, with only the threat of monsters as a danger to mankind!"
Qu patted him on the arm as he spoke, breaking him off from continuing as he looked to her with confusion. "I don't see anything in particular coming our way, but if you are who I think you are, there's going to be some major shake ups in the near future."
"W-what? What are you saying Qu? What shake ups?"
The girl quirked her eyebrow at Qu, a slight smile growing on her face. "You know what I am?"
"I have my suspicions," Qu told her. "Though your responses give you away pretty well. And if I'm right, you're going to be very helpful in the coming trials. But… before I let you go…" Qu sported a sneaky grin, and for a second Arthur was worried more than confused about everything.
"I want… to ask you a question."
The girl shrugged, then motioned. "Shoot."
Arthur wondered at the exact meaning of the girl's word but Qu seemed to get it just fine.
"What… is your story?"
Arthur groaned and couldn't stop himself from facepalming. "Seriously, Qu?"
"It's a legitimate question!" she yelled at him.
The girl watched their back and forth with a grin, then cleared her throat to get their attention. "You want my story, huh? Well, there's plenty to choose from, but I think I'll go with the simplest one. I show up, I see a problem, I fix the problem, I make things better. The end."
Arthur felt his mouth fall open, then slam shut as he looked at Qu, his face going white as he saw her unbearably wide grin.
"Oh I'm going to like you," Qu said nastily. "I'll let you get started then. I think I see just the right moment to send you to for the start of this little adventure. See you in a few weeks!"
"Wait, what do you mean by t-AAAAH!"
With a snap of her fingers one of Qu's portals appeared behind the girl on the wall, sucking her inside before immediately snapping shut again. Arthur turned to Qu, dozens of questions on his face.
"What in the hell just happened? Who was that girl, why was she here, and where did you send her?"
Qu snickered, then flicked her finger at his face, causing him to flinch from the puff of air that was sent into his eye.
"You ask too many questions, Arthur. She already told you everything you need to know. Her story, through 'til the end."
Arthur rubbed his eye, grumbling as he did before glaring down at Qu. "That wasn't a story, that was a mission statement. A story is all the details that go around the plot to make it interesting!"
Qu rolled her eyes at him. "Oh fine, be that way then. We'll watch her story unfold for ourselves so you can get all the answers you seek. Happy?"
Happy he wasn't, but intrigued he most certainly was. Qu was never one to much care for current events beyond the responsibilities of her station, but if she was actively paying attention this time… He shuddered as he realized the implications.
Whoever that girl is, important things are going to happen to her or from her. And there's no telling what they'll be…
Reluctantly he settled in next to Qu as she flipped the magivision to a new channel, one which showed a peaceful looking beach with two people strewn out on the sand.
The beach was quiet at this time of day, all of the local beach goers having too much work to do to hang around and enjoy the surf. Despite that though, a pair of people were out on the sand, both oblivious to the world around them as they snored so loud they disturbed the fish testing the waters under the waves.
One was a boy clad mostly in blue, a simple shortsword in his outstretched hand, his mussy brown hair matted with sea-water. The other was an orange-haired girl with a black shirt and silver skirt, with a plain mace laid out in the sand next to her. Neither seemed to be able to wake the other up with their snores, despite how loud they were. The noise did attract some attention though, as a girl with cascading blonde hair stepped out onto the beach, gaze quickly moving to the two people snorting loud enough she could hear it from the fields beyond the beach.
"Wow, those two are loud," she muttered to herself as she studied them from the head of the beach. "It's a wonder no monsters have shown up. Hmm… it looks like they can defend themselves though, with those weapons on hand." Curiosity getting the better of her, she trotted down the beach, careful not to get sand in her boots, approaching the pair to get a better look. Her eyes were drawn to the boy first, and somewhere inside her she felt a spark of something she couldn't quite recognize. "He's kinda cute, for a snorer."
She knelt in the sand next to him, studying his boyish features. Even while asleep, the boy had a cheerful grin on his face, one that exuded excitement and energy, along with a hint of something more… perverted? She had to be imagining that. She grinned, struck with a sudden and amusing thought.
Well, no one else is out here aside from that other girl… I can probably get away with it.
Moving carefully she moved to straddle the boy's chest, settling herself down gently on his body.
When he wakes up he's going to get a very nice surprise, she thought to herself.
It didn't take long for him to wake, his eyes blearily opening up to stare at her. It took him a few moments to process the sight of her, but when he did his eyes widened incredibly fast, and she had to suppress a snicker.
"Uh… h-hello there," he said haltingly, obviously shy.
"Hello," she returned with a cheerful tone. "Glad to see you're awake. Who are you?"
"M-my name's Asterisk, but everyone calls me Aster."
Cute name, she thought to herself, while saying aloud. "Nice to meet you Aster. I can call you Aster, right?"
He nodded with a small grin. "Sure, I don't mind. So, uh… where are we?"
He doesn't know? She asked herself, her grin slipping a bit. "We're on a beach near Abel. I just found you sleeping here. Do you not know how you got here?"
"I'm going to guess no," she answered for him. Then she looked down at where his eyes were and grinned. "A bit distracted are we?"
"I WASN'T THINKING ABOUT YOUR ASS!" he blurted out, his face lighting up red as he went stiff as a board.
Oh yes you were, but she didn't call him on it. "So, are you sure you're okay? I see that you're all wet, and you were sleeping for a long time… did you get lost in the surf and have to get saved?"
The boy - Aster, she reminded herself - fell silent, forgetting his embarrassment as he started to think. "I… I don't remember. All I remember is swimming really hard, then there was this flash of light and… that's it."
"A flash of light? Hmm…" Riche looked over at the other girl, who was still snoring away, more softly now. "What about her?" Riche asked as she pointed Aster's attention the girl's way. "Do you remember her?"
Aster looked that way, eyes squinting as he studied the girl. To Riche's surprise, he kept his attention serious instead of checking the other girl out. At least at first, if his slowly growing grin was anything to go by.
"Uh… no, not re… Wait… I think I actually do remember something."
"In the flash of light, I think… I think I saw something orange in it. Orange like her hair."
Riche's eyebrows rose as she looked back and forth between the girl and Aster. What in the world happened here? Looking back down at him, she summarized, "So you were out for a swim, in regular clothes, and happened to see a flash of light with her in it, then the next thing you know you're here on the beach?"
Aster took a moment to think it through, then nodded with a shrug. "I guess so. I have no idea what happened. All I know was I was trying to reach the mainland…"
"The mainland?" Riche asked. "Were you on a boat that sunk then?"
"Nope," Aster answered. "I was swimming here from my island. Fresh Fish Island, way out that way." He pointed off in a random direction out to sea.
"Wait… you swam here from an island out to sea?" she clarified. "How… how far did you swim?"
Aster shrugged again. "No clue. I just kept swimming and swimming forever until I reached shore. I guess I kinda did, or else I wouldn't be here talking to you… with you on my…"
Riche grinned again, enjoying his bright blush. "That's very impressive, being able to swim that far. Most people couldn't do that."
Aster's blush deepened, but so did his grin. "Well, I mean… I just really wanted to get here, so I kept going no matter how tired I was. Funny, I don't feel tired anymore. I must have slept really good!"
"With all that snoring, probably." Riche giggled at his confused expression, then both of them turned as they heard the other girl stop snoring and watched her rub her eyes.
"Wha's a… who's… wha's happenen?" the girl said incoherently as she sat up.
"So you're awake too, huh?" Riche asked, drawing the girl's eyes towards them. Her eyes were a striking silver color, like that of a set of plain armor, but with a bit of shine to them.
"Awake? Oh hell, don't tell me I arrived sleeping again!" Riche didn't know what to do, so she just nodded, prompting the other girl to groan and fall back on the sand again. "Just fucking typical," the girl bellyached. "I come in asleep and miss everything!"
She has a mouth, Riche noted idly, before saying, "Do you remember what happened before you were asleep?"
The girl looked like she was about to answer, then reconsidered, pondering. "Last I remember… I was falling from somewhere…"
"Was it from up there?" Riche asked, pointing up and out to sea. Both the boy and girl looked up where she was pointing, seeing a giant floating island high up in the sky, passing between layers of clouds as birds floated around it.
"What the… okay… this is definitely not a normal world," the orange haired girl said.
"Oh hey, Sky Island. I didn't know it was passing through this area," the boy said, then turned to the other girl. "Did you come from up there?"
"That's what I wanted to ask," Riche teased, reminding the boy that she was still sitting in his lap, causing his blush to return.
The orange haired girl looked up at the flying landmass and shook her head. "I'm pretty sure I'm not. I don't think I was falling through the air normally. I think I came out of a portal."
Riche looked up at her in shock, then gasped in delight. "A portal?! Then you really must be an angel!"
Riche nodded, waving at Sky Island again. "The Island is said to be blessed by Mother Eve, and Mother Eve is rumored to have legions of knightly angels in her service up there! Are you sure you're not one of them?"
The other girl shook her head again. "Pretty sure. At least… not this time."
"Never mind that," the girl told her. "I… wait, I just remembered… I DID fall out of a portal! I remember because I fell on top of somebody! Somebody with brown… hair…" She looked at Aster, suddenly wincing. "Um… sorry about that. I think I must have landed on you when I came out. My bad."
Aster just grinned and shrugged, as best he could while Riche was still sitting on him. "It's okay, you didn't mean to. So, uh… does that mean you were what knocked me out?"
"Musta been," the girl answered. "And I think I'm also the one who carried you to shore before passing out myself." She sighed, thunking herself in the forehead. "Note to self, work on new body's cardio when the time allows."
"New body?" Riche asked. "So if you aren't an angel, what are you? An alien, a monster girl who achieved sentience? A mythical dragon?"
The girl shook her head at all of those, but had a clear smile on her face. "Oh I can tell this world is going to be a fascinating place, but no, I'm not any of those things. I'm… well, to put it bluntly, I'm a traveler from another world."
Riche's eyes lit up and she squealed even more excitedly than before. Even Aster seemed shocked, so much so he didn't react when Riche leapt out of his lap and launched herself at the other girl.
"Oh Eve, a world traveler?! That is amazing, you have to tell me everything! Oh I have so many questions, I don't even know where to begin!"
The orange haired girl flopped to the sand as she was glomped by Riche, grunting as Riche started shaking her as she pummeled her with questions. "Woah, woah, slow down there! There'll be plenty of time for answering questions once I have a few answers of my own. To start, who are you, and where are we?"
Riche, flushed with embarrassment at her overreaction, backed up to give the girl some space. "My name is Riche, and you're near Abel, in the country of Eden." She waved her hand back at the boy, saying, "His name is Aster, and he's from an island out to sea somewhere."
"It's called Fresh Fish Island," Aster explained as he approached, standing unsteadily in the sand, his shortsword in hand. "How about you? What's your name?"
The orange haired girl cleared her throat. "It, uh, varies sometimes by location, and mission, but let's go with… Bella. Short for Bellator. Last name… Vagus."
Riche tilted her head at 'Bella'. "That's a very odd name. I've never heard anything like it before."
Bella shrugged. "It's from another language. Plus my name tends to shift all the time, so I tend to go by codenames anyway. This is one of my more common ones. So… now what?"
Riche opened her mouth to answer, trying to pick one of her hundreds of questions to choose from, but was paralyzed with indecision. There was so much she wanted to know, how could she ask it all at once? How could she choose which to ask first?
"Hey, uh… did you technically save my life?" Aster asked Bella, to which Bella blinked.
"Um… I guess, but I'm the one who put you in danger in the first place, so I think we're already even. Don't worry about it."
Aster nodded but smiled at her. "Alright, well, thanks anyway." He looked at Riche and added, "And thanks for helping us out too."
Riche looked at him funny. "All I did was tell you where you were, though."
"Still helped," Aster told her, to which Bella agreed. "So, hey, since you know your way around here, do you think you could tell me what I have to do to become a knight?"
"A-a knight? You want to be a knight?"
Aster nodded. "Yep. It was the whole reason I swam out here in the first place!"
Bella quirked an eyebrow at the conversation. "What is a knight, exactly? I know the word, but I'm curious what it means around here."
Riche grinned, glad for a chance to educate a person from another world about her own home. "A knight is a guardian who fights to protect people from monsters and outlaws. They are blessed by Mother Eve to have the restrictions of her laws removed from them conditionally, so that they may do the things that others can't to keep the world safe."
"And they can have multiple wives!" Aster interjected. "That's why I wanted to be a knight in the first place, so I could marry my sisters!"
"Wait, your sisters?" Bella asked incredulously.
"I mean, they're not really my sisters," Aster explained. "They're more like my best friends back home. They looked after me and cared for me as I was growing up, and I really care about them. I… I proposed to both of them because I just couldn't choose one, so that's why I have to be a knight. That way I can have both of them as my wives!"
Bella looked completely confused at what he was talking about and looked askance at Riche for an explanation.
"So you only want to be a knight so you can have multiple girls huh?" Riche huffed in slight annoyance, but she found she couldn't be mad at someone so earnest. She turned to Bella and said, "Most people can only marry one person, according to one of Mother Eve's two laws. Her laws say that no one may kill another person, and no one may marry more than one other person. If they disobey those laws, they become an outlaw, and are stripped of Mother Eve's blessing, meaning they can't make or grow anything by their own hands."
Bella's eyes shot up in shock. "Wow… that sounds very… strict. I assume these laws are… magically enforced?"
Riche nodded. "Yes. If anyone breaks the laws, they have a black ring show up on their finger. That way anyone can tell who is an outlaw just by looking. Not all outlaws are evil, of course, but a lot of them end up becoming evil even if they weren't simply because they can't live any other way. Their sins corrupt them into a worse being, something less than human…"
"Nasty," Bella commented. "Though, again, seems harsh. Still, I suppose I should learn more about the system before criticizing." She looked at Aster, smirking. "So, trying to woo both of your 'sisters' at the same time, huh? Think you're up for it? Think you're man enough to be able to satisfy both of them?"
Aster looked unsure for a moment, then steeled his gaze and looked her dead in the eye, saying. "Absolutely. I love my sisters, and I will do my very best to make sure I am worth it for them, no matter what."
Bella hummed, a small grin on her face. "Determined and empathetic. Off to a good start I think. So, these knights… I assume they go on adventures to rid the world of evil and the like?"
Riche shrugged and answered, "Some of them do, but most stick to their home country to protect the people living there. There's always so many monsters and outlaws out there, there's usually not much time to go exploring to solve problems elsewhere."
"Still sounds like my kind of job," Bella said. "Protecting people and fighting evil are what I do literally everywhere I go. So you know what? I'm following Aster here so we can both become knights. Sound good?" She offered her hand to Aster, who looked surprised then pleased, taking her hand and shaking it firmly.
"That's great! Having a cute girl to fight alongside will make being a knight even better."
Bella lifted an amused eyebrow at him. "Think I'm 'cute' huh?"
Aster suddenly lost all his confidence, stammering out, "W-well yes, I mean… you have really pretty hair, and your eyes are stunning, and you have nice boobs too."
Bella coughed, but was still grinning. "Forward, but polite enough I guess. Besides, you're not half bad yourself pal."
Aster grinned widely at that, Riche looking back and forth between them, both a bit embarrassed and slightly… jealous? Why was she jealous? Riche shook the thought away, about to say more when she heard a shout up the beach. Looking up that way she saw a party of people approaching, with a familiar shock of white hair amongst them
Oh no, she's found me! She immediately bolted for cover away from the beach, startling Bella and Aster.
"Hey, where are you going?" Bella called after her.
"Personal matters, have to go! Welcome to Eden, I'll find you later so we can talk more, byeeeeee!"
"Hey, wait, I still have que- and she's gone. Crap." Bella sighed, pinching her nose. "So much for that lead."
Aster was busy watching Riche's skirt as the girl fled, hoping to see a glimpse of some panties as she left… "Oh, uh, yeah, it's too bad she had to leave. But hey, maybe those people know what we need to know?"
Bella looked where Aster was pointing, noticing the group heading towards them. Then she noticed the pitchforks and hoes they were carrying, and took a step back.
"I don't think they'll be particularly friendly, Aster." She looked to the sand for a weapon and noticed the mace laying next to her. "A mace, huh? I'll look for something better later." She took up a ready stance, trying not to appear aggressive just yet. "You know how to fight, Aster?"
Aster gripped his sword hesitantly. "Kinda. I mean, I trained a lot against the monsters on my island, but I've never fought people before."
"Well, let's hope we don't have to," Bella told him as the group approached. The small mob stopped a short distance away, lead by a tall man with red hair that matched his outfit.
"You two, stay right there!" he ordered.
"No problem," Bella told him, keeping her mace loose in her hand. "We're not here to cause any trouble."
"Our knight will be the judge of that," the red haired man told her. "Hey, clear a path for her!" The crowd split, and walking out from amongst them was a girl with flowing white hair that went down to her legs, carrying a heavy shield and a broad, sharp pointed lance in the other. Neither Aster nor Bella noticed those aspects for very long, though, as they were quickly distracted by her outfit, a pair of small black shorts holding up nylon stockings matched with a cropped top that only covered the top half of her bountiful breasts.
"Holy crap," Bella muttered. "That girl is stacked."
"Beautiful boobs," Aster agreed.
The girl walked up to them, all business, and pointed the lance in their direction. "Are you two the suspicious characters who were reported on the beach?"
Bella blinked. "Um… probably? So far as I know we've been the only ones here for a while."
Aster looked like he wanted to bring up Riche but a quick glance from Bella shut him up without a word. The white haired girl stared at them suspiciously. "How did you two get here? It was reported that you were seen swimming in from the ocean. Were you stowaways on a ship that escaped?"
"Stowaways?" Aster shook his head. "No, not at all. I-"
"We're from Fresh Fish Island," Bella interrupted him. "We swam here together today but passed out on the beach from exhaustion."
"Fresh Fish Island?" someone called from the crowd. "That's way out to sea! No way anyone could swim from there!"
"We totally did though," Aster assured them. "I mean, I got really tired at the end and almost drowned, but we still made it here."
The red-haired man scoffed, saying, "You have to be lying. There's no way anyone would believe that!"
"They're outlaws, we shouldn't trust them!" a person called out, causing a stir from the others.
"Wait, hold on, we're not outlaws!" Aster insisted, but froze when the tip of the female knight's lance shifted to him.
"Don't move!" she ordered, and Aster gladly complied, causing her to drop the weapon back down. "Now, outlaws have been spotted in the area near the town. I'm here for another mission, but since the town needs my help, I'm here to investigate."
"They're after the cows, I swear it!" a panicked farmer shouted to everyone. "Please, lady knight, you must deal with them!"
Bella looked to the girl intently. "So you're a knight then?"
The girl nodded, announcing, "Indeed. I am Ramius Dreissen, a Knight of the Kingdom of Eden."
"Well, if you are a knight, then you must know that outlaws are marked by a black ring on their fingers," Bella argued. "Do you see any on us?"
Ramius shook her head, but she did not back down. "Outlaws are crafty. They could have blackmailed you into working with them. They are ruthless and cunning, and will stoop to any low to get what they want, even including innocents in their schemes."
Aster stood up tall and declared, "I'd never work with any outlaws! I swam here from my island to become a knight!"
The crowd murmured at the declaration, and for the first time Ramius seemed to lighten in her stance. "Truly? You came here to become a knight?"
"We both did," Bella answered her, which caused Ramius to consider them both carefully.
"I see… Very well. In order to prove your honesty, I shall need to test you both."
Bella smiled. Now they were getting somewhere. "Test us how, exactly?"
Ramius tilted her chin up at her. "If your goal is to become a knight, I'm sure you are confident in your strength. Defeat monsters in this area and bring me 100 gold each to prove that you have what it takes."
"I assume monsters drop gold then?" Bella asked, to which Ramius nodded.
"Huh, that's funny, they didn't back home," Aster said. "I wonder why that is…"
"Either way, I think we can handle it," Bella told Ramius. "We'll get you your 200 gold in no time at all, just you watch."
Ramius merely nodded. "We shall see. Also, to prove you're not cheating, I'll need to hold onto any gold you have in your possession."
Bella paused, then riffled through her skirt looking for pockets and came up empty. "I don't have anything, actually."
"Neither do I," Aster said with a downcast expression.
"Ah, I… see," Ramius said, appearing off put at the answer.
Aster groaned, holding his head in his hands. "Oh man, you think we're pathetic, don't you?"
Ramius stammered for a second, then regained her composure and shook her head. "If you both return to me with the 200 gold, I'll vouch for you and you'll be able to enter the town."
Bella nodded, smiling. "Sounds like a plan to me. We'll get right on that."
"Very well." Ramius turned to the crowd and addressed them, saying, "Do not fear, everyone. The situation is now under control. You may return to your homes."
Bella eyed the retreating people suspiciously, particularly the red haired man who seemed far too put out that nothing had actually happened. Great, suspicious locals who jump at the first sign of danger. That's always helpful.
Ramius turned back to the pair of them and said, "Fare well in your searching. I shall await you on the edge of town." With that she strode off in the direction the crowd was going, and both Bella and Aster took a chance to look at her swaying ass as she walked away.
"Well… that was close."
"Yeah, kinda scary…" Aster grinned. "But hey, she was pretty hot though, wasn't she?"
"Oh yeah, unbelievably hot. Though I have to question her choice of clothing. If she's a knight, why the hell isn't she wearing armor?"
Aster shrugged, still grinning like a goof. "Worth it to see her tits."
"Hey, focus bud," she said, clapping her hands in front of her face. "We have a mission to do, in case you forgot."
"Right, right! Slay monsters, get gold! Should be easy." Aster flourished his sword back and forth, grinning widely. "I learned how to fight monsters back home, and I got pretty good at it. It shouldn't be too hard to do here on the mainland. What about you? You know how to fight, right?"
Bella smirked aggressively, so much so that Aster almost felt intimidated. "Oh, trust me, I know how to handle myself in a fight. Now, how do we find monsters, exactly? Do we just wander around and wait for them to come to us or what?"
"I'm not sure. Back home all the monsters stayed in the local ruins where nobody entered except me. I would leave and come back every few days and they'd be back again, like I hadn't dealt with them. I guess they just… appear every so often. So if we go looking, we're bound to find them eventually."
Bella processed this for a bit, rubbing her chin in thought. "Interesting… monsters with no clear ecology related to the world itself. Must be a magical thing. Alright, let's get to monster slaying then."
The pair walked up the beach, conspicuously moving away from the direction of the town and out into wide open fields of wild grass stretching far into the distance, small hills here and there breaking up the landscape with scattered groves of trees near a wandering river.
"Wow… this place is beautiful," Bella said. "Pretty idyllic, great farmland."
Aster's head was moving all over the place taking it all in. "I've never seen a place so… big before. On my island I was always able to see the ocean from somewhere, but here… the land just keeps going and going."
Bella grinned, patting him on the shoulder. "A lot of people from deep inland feel the same about the ocean, you know. The new and unfamiliar is always at least a little exciting. Now, where do we find ourselves some monsters, do you think?"
Aster shrugged, looking about again before his gaze narrowed in on a copse of trees. "Let's try there, maybe?"
"Alright then." Without another moment's waiting Bella headed out towards the trees, Aster following after her. As they drew closer they started hearing unusual noises that didn't sound like animal cries. When they finally reached the wood they got a look at what was making the sounds, a pair of weird white slime creatures with yellow eyes and small antenna above their faces.
"What are those?" Bella asked as she readied her mace.
"Hanny slimes," Aster answered. "They're what happens to hannies after their clay gets broken down. Usually after melting in some way. Don't worry, they're super weak, even a child could beat them with a hammer."
"Never heard of hannies before, but I'll worry about that later." Bella scoffed, hefting her mace in one hand. "Anyway, if they're that easy to beat, let's do a review of your combat skills, shall we? How much do you know about wielding that sword of yours?"
Aster looked at his sword then back to her. "I mean… I know how to swing it pretty well, and I can cut through most monsters without problems."
"No no no no no, I mean actually wielding your blade, not just swinging it like a machete through branches. Come on, show me a stance and some moves."
Aster shrugged but did as he was asked, slipping into a wide footed stance where he held his sword low and pointed outward. He then swung heavily from side to side, followed by an upward cleave and a downward thrust into the dirt.
Bella watched it all in silence, eyes flicking to various points of movement as she watched his display. When he finished she regarded him closely, then nodded approvingly. "Not too bad really. A bit amateurish in the force of the swings, and especially the telegraphing, but you have a solid basis to build from. A general tip for right now, heavy swings will be just fine against dumb beasts and moronic human fighters, but against anyone with skill they'll only open you up to parries and blocks. When you fight someone with skill, try to limit your strikes to only the most necessary movement, to cut down on the warning they receive."
Aster blinked at her, wide eyed as she delivered her advice. "Wow, that's… I never considered that before. I just did what worked against the monsters back home. Nobody ever taught me how to wield a sword."
Bella's smile widened. "Then for a self-taught newbie you are actually in a pretty good place. Just need some guidance from an expert to get you on the right path. Now, let's take care of these things, huh?"
The two hanny slimes had remained utterly oblivious to the impromptu weapon study, only noticing their approach when one of them had its center bashed in with an overhead blow from Bella's mace. The other, panicking, tried to deliver an electric shock to Aster, but he easily sidestepped the swipe and then stabbed the thing between the eyes, causing it to go limp.
"Well… that was easy. Disappointingly so."
Aster looked at Bella with a confused expression. "Do you want it to be hard?"
"No, of course not, but… there's always that feeling that your first bit of combat you have in a new place should be special." She noticed he clearly didn't know what she was talking about and sighed. "Never mind, old warrior thing, nothing for you to worry about. Anyway, how do we collect our gold?"
A few moments of staring at each other later they looked back at the bodies and noticed that a pair of sparkling piles appeared on the ground in front of them.
"So… it seems the gold just… appears in front of you when a thing dies," Bella observed. "That's some RPG magic if I've ever seen it."
"I'll explain later," Bella said as she scooped up the earnings, counting out the coins. "Right, so from these two hannies we got… 24 gold. That's not bad at all. Find a few more and we'll get our 200 in no time."
The pair searched the rest of the grove, coming upon several other hanny slimes and killing them in short order. Aster did get stung by them once or twice, but he was easily able to shrug them off within a few minutes. As they walked, Bella coached him on a few aspects of sword fighting, Aster proving to be a worthy student as he took her words to heart quickly and started to apply her advice. Once the grove was clear they headed out into the grass again, only to be met by two human-like forms running towards them.
"Are… are those people?" Bella asked.
Aster pulled out his sword and took his stance. "I don't think so! I think they're gal monsters!"
"Gal monsters? Oh man, what weird anthro shit are we going to get here?"
Bella watched the two things approach, frowning as she saw they looked remarkably human, but with rather childlike proportions. One had black hair and wore running clothes, while the other had on a fluffy bunny-girl bikini on and nothing else.
"Uh… these are gal monsters?"
"Guess so," Aster said kinda dazedly. "They're kinda cute now that I see them."
The racer one launched itself at Aster with a huge kick, forcing him to duck out of the way.
"Cute, sure. Hostile, absolutely. Deal with them!"
The resulting fight was rather short, all things considered, as only the runner tried to attack them, the bunny girl standing off to the side giving what Bella could only assume was moral support. Aster's face was a bit green when he watched Bella rap her mace against the monster girl's head so hard she went down in a spurt of blood, and his expression only worsened as he watched her brain the bunny girl right after.
"It… it feels wrong killing them," he said as Bella cleaned off her mace in the grass.
"Yeah, killing something human is never supposed to be easy." Bella collected the gold and added it to their bag. "But they attacked us, clearly could not speak, and are obviously not fully human given their small stature yet… developed bodies."
Aster shook his head, still clearly distressed about it all. "They look so much like cute girls. It just feels… icky."
"I agree, I much prefer killing non-human things," Bella told him. "But sometimes you have to kill stuff that you'd rather not if you are out on your own. It's just a fact of life in a harsh world. Only thing you can do is get used to it Aster. The sooner you do, the sooner you'll be equipped to be a proper knight, whatever that ends up being."
The boy sighed, clearly still not comfortable, but he at least acknowledged Bella's words as they pressed on. They met a few more hanny slimes as they wandered, along with another couple of gal monsters, but this time Aster was more proactive in defeating them. He came away from the fight shaken, but a bit more assured of himself. From there it didn't take much longer before they had gathered everything they needed. On the way back from town they killed another few hanny slimes, only for Bella to feel a sudden rush of energy well up inside of her.
"Aster, what was that I just felt?"
Aster smiled at her. "Oh hey, looks like you just got your first level up, that's cool."
Bella just stared at him blankly. "Level… up?"
"Yeah. When you get enough experience from killing monsters you gain energy for a level up. Then you go to a level up shop and the shop mage does a ritual that lets you absorb the energy into yourself so you can get stronger. It's pretty neat. I mean, that's how my sisters told me it works. I never got to do it myself, since there was no level up mage on Fresh Fish."
Bella took in a deep breath and let it out slowly. "Looking more and more like an RPG world all the time."
"What was that?"
"Nothing important. Come on, let's head into town."
It didn't take them long to find a road and follow it towards Abel. The town wasn't all that large, around 50 or so houses spread out along a market road and town square, but it was clear most of the town's area was dominated by farming, as fields of fruits, vegetables, and especially cows were everywhere around the town. Said cows were solid brown all over their bodies and had a large, solid horn in the middle of their heads, but still looked like regular bovines otherwise. Bella refrained from commenting on the differences. They passed by several groups of farm hands on their way down the road, drawing a few stares with their gear but nobody stopped them or asked them questions. Eventually they reached the edge of the town itself, and sure enough there waiting for them was Ramius, who looked to be rather impatient about something.
"Hello there!" Aster called out with his friendly manner, only to get Ramius' lance jabbed in his face again.
"Halt!" she ordered, both doing so. "You've returned. Did you collect the gold?"
"Right here," Bella told her, tossing the bag into Ramius's hand. The knightess took the bag, hefted in her hands a few times, then proceeded to dump the bag onto the ground, the contents forming a pile in the dirt.
"Uuuuuh… is that the best way to count them, miss Dreisson?" Bella asked.
"Do not distract me!" Ramius snapped at them. "I need to count." From there Ramius bent down - showing a delightful view of her ass as she did - and slowly, painfully counted each individual coin one by one. Aster and Bella watched in stunned silence as Ramius' counting continued for several very long minutes.
"I… get the feeling you're not great with numbers," Bella offered.
"No, I am not," Ramius answered honestly, then went right back to counting. To pass the time as she counted, Bella decided to teach Aster the principles of rock, paper, scissors, only to find that counting to three for each round actually tripped up Ramius' counting, forcing her to start over. After that they switched to thumb war, which Bella won handily.
Eventually, finally, Ramius finished counting the gold. "Yes, this is indeed 200 gold,' she declared. "You both have proven your strength such that you can be considered prospective knights. You may now enter the town as you wish." She scooped up the gold she had spilled back into the bag and handed it over to Aster. "You may have back the gold you earned."
"Huh? You're letting me have it back?"
"Of course," Ramius said, as if it were obvious. "You earned the gold, you deserve to have it. I merely needed to see if you were capable of earning it, which you proved you were."
"Reasonable of you," Bella said. "A lot of other people I know would have kept that money for themselves."
Ramius scowled, saying, "I am not a person who takes what I have not earned. If I wish to have such gold, I must get it through my own merits, not by taking from others."
"Well said," Bella praised. "Thank you for your generous aid, lady knight."
"Yeah, thanks a bunch," Aster added. "We would have been in trouble with that mob if you hadn't helped us out."
Ramius seemed to stiffen at the praise, locking into her serious position and standing firmly. "I was merely doing my duty of protecting the innocent, while ensuring those who could be innocent were not treated as dangerous. That is my job, and I will do it to the best of my ability."
Aster grinned anyway, saying, "Still, thanks for doing such a good job, Lady Ramius."
"You can drop the title," Ramius said politely. "I don't care much for formalities."
"Ramius it is then," Bella said. "Thank you for your help, and we hope we can serve with you in the near future."
For some reason Ramius went stiff again, only even worse this time as she averted her gaze. "Y-yes, of course. Now, I'm sure you're both tired from your efforts against the monsters, so you may stay at the town inn if you need rest. Do not worry about being attacked while in town. So long as I am on duty, you will be safe."
"I believe it," Bella said.
"Yeah, we really appreciate it," Aster said. "But you shouldn't forget to take some time for yourself. A cute girl like you shouldn't work herself too hard."
Like a switch had been flipped Ramius' professional demeanor was lost as she gasped in shock at what Aster said.
"What's wrong?" he asked.
"W-w-who are you calling a c-cute girl?!"
Aster, bewildered by the question, simply replied, "Uh, you, right? I mean, are you a boy?"
"Of course not!" came the shouted reply.
Aster smiled as he watched Ramius' boobs jiggle with her movement. "Oh yeah, obviously."
Bella watched with amusement as Aster's leering made Ramius blush heavily, the knightly girl shivering a bit at the attention.
Methinks she's not used to being noticed as a girl so much as a warrior. This could be amusing.
After a few more moments of stuttering and blushing, Ramius gathered herself and ushered them into town, returning to her post while obviously still a bit flustered about the event.
The inside of the town was rather quiet and slow-paced. The few people out and about were moving around calmly, chatting with neighbors or playing board games with each other. Children ran around each other in big circles shouting about knights and outlaws. It was in all a rather idyllic existence, one that Bella couldn't help but wonder at how safe it all was, considering that monsters apparently were a never ending source of trouble.
Their first stop for the day was at the inn to secure a room for themselves. They needn't have worried though, as there were plenty of open spots available. Aster marveled at the size of the room for a while while Bella organized what little stuff they had, then they headed out into town to get lunch. A quick sit down for steak and lettuce later and they were exploring the market.
The first place they stopped at was the level up shop, which proved to be an… interesting experience. After signing in, they were led into a back room that seemed to be deserted. But after a few moments of waiting they were greeted by a female voice who told them she would be their level up mage. According to the rules the mage laid out, only one mage could be an individual's level up source, but rather than make a person go back to the same place over and over to level up, she just did it through magical speakers set up in the room. Bella found the whole idea to be rather clever. Aster though was distracted by the profile their mage had posted in the handbook, as it was of a rather buxom young woman with pinkish hair.
The level up process itself was dead simple, as they merely had to have the mage do a short ritual to have the level up applied. Though apparently the business end of the process was rather more detailed than they were aware of, as the level up mage had to consult a god of some kind to prove that enough experience had been earned for a level up to be applicable and a whole bunch of other stuff Bella barely followed. The important thing in her opinion was that she felt a measurable difference in her strength after the level up was completed, and she resolved to keep a close eye on that as they went on.
From there they wandered the market, looking at vendors and sellers of various kinds. Bella stocked up on food, thinking that if they were going to be adventuring, it would be best if they had ample provisions for any kind of journey they had to undertake. To her surprise Aster professed to be a good cook, so that was one less concern she had on her mind. The item and equipment store proved to be an experience, mostly for Aster as the male shopkeeper- who claimed to be female, not that she was judging -had a hell of a time flirting with him the whole time they were there. After picking up a few healing items, which Bella immediately prioritized once she knew what they were, they marked some weapons and armor for future interest and resolved to return once they had more gold.
Funnily enough the church was their next destination, mostly because Bella was curious how the Mother Eve religion worked, and she got way more of an answer than she was bargaining for when they entered. Apparently churches occasionally played host to a 'saint', a woman of great virtue and spiritual energy who could channel the power of Mother Eve's magic and use it to help cleanse the minds of worshipers. All of this went right over Aster's head the first time, as the saint in question was a shapely auburn-haired girl who wore an outfit that Bella was sure would cause the adherents of most other religions she knew of to faint outright at the sight of. Not that she was disagreeing with Aster's assessment of her heat, she was just better able to control herself in her reactions. She only stared at the saint's nipples poking through her vestment through half of the girl's speech instead of the whole thing like Aster.
The real fun came when she and Aster prayed and they both caused a stir when they generated a slew of pink gas during their prayer. Pink was apparently the color of lust, and the production of so much of it was extremely unusual. Personally Bella suspected the bulk of the stuff had come from Aster, but she couldn't deny that after the likes of Ramius, half nude monster girls, and then the sexy saint she was feeling just a wee bit desiring of her own volition. She did take note though that the edge of her lust was indeed sanded down after the prayer, suggesting to her that the idea of prayer reducing the power of certain emotions was more than likely accurate.
After they left the church they wandered town for a while, asking questions of various townsfolk, learning the history of the area and some of the local trivia. Most of it was pretty bog standard, but the news that the outlaw band that had been troubling the town was made up primarily of foreigners was concerning to say the least. They also learned that the reason the monsters in the area were pretty much all melted hannies or weak monster girls was the result of a heavy duty campaign from the knights to purge the area of higher-level monsters, and that other parts of the country would be markedly more dangerous. A final useful tidbit was learning that there were various fountains built to celebrate Mother Eve built around the world that purified local water and gave it healing powers. Apparently the water would refill naturally over time, but that each person could only drink a bit of it at any one time, so it wasn't a way to stay healthy consistently.
By the time they returned to their room the sun was almost setting beyond the horizon. They ate a quick dinner at the inn - hamburgers and freshly grown farm veggies, natch - before heading up to sleep. That's where the trouble started.
"So…" Aster started as they entered the room together, "I guess we're sleeping in different beds, right?"
"Oh yeah, for sure," Bella answered him as she laid her mace against the wall near one of the beds. She then started to take off her shirt, causing Aster to squawk in surprise. Bella turned around, shirt off and only bra covering her chest, looking at him with confusion. "What's wrong?"
"Y-you just took off your shirt!" Aster said, pointing at her chest.
"Yeeees, that I did," Bella confirmed. "Your point?"
Aster was too busy stammering to answer at first, then he gulped and gathered himself. "I… I mean, you know I can see you… your bra… right?"
Bella mentally smacked herself for her carelessness. Of course the earnest pervert is going to be shocked when you start to undress, Bell, you moron. Nice job acting without thinking AGAIN!
Oh shut up, it was an honest mistake. Besides… he's not going to say no, now is he?
Bella smirked as she watched Aster's gaze keep switching between her cleavage and her face, as if he was debating internally if it was safe to stare or not.
"Yes, yes I do. And I honestly don't care. After all, you're going to be seeing a lot more in a minute."
Aster's eyes widened even further, and Bella had to stifle a laugh. "What… what do you mean by that?"
"I sleep in the nude," she told him flat out. "More comfortable for me that way, and I never liked pajamas anyway. And before you ask, no, I don't care about being seen naked. You can stare all you like for all I care, so long as you don't try to touch without asking first."
Aster's shocked expression remained for a few seconds longer before it was replaced with an ecstatic grin. "You mean I get to see you naked! Awesome!"
My god, he's such a doof. A lovable one, but still. "Yeah, yeah, enjoy looking all you want, but don't forget to get some sleep. And if you need to whack yourself off, that you can do in another room, because that is private and there is no need to be sharing that with me, got it?"
Aster vigorously nodded his understanding. "Yeah, I getcha! Wait… oh… ooooooooh."
While Aster started to come to terms with what she had just said, Bella pulled off her skirt, folding it neatly and placing it on the dresser next to her shirt. From there her bra and panties came off easily, set atop the other pieces of clothing. She glanced back at Aster to see his gobsmacked expression, then slipped into her bed, sighing with delight at the soft sheets and firm mattress.
"Get to sleep, Aster," she told him. "I'm sure tomorrow will be just as busy as today was."
Aster was stuck in place for a few seconds longer before he obeyed, jumping right into bed with his day clothes still on. "Good night, Bella," he called out to her. "And, uh… thanks. For letting me look."
Lovable doof indeed. "Sure, Aster. Maybe you'll return the favor sometime."
She laughed at his squeal of shock, then settled in properly and closed her eyes.
This is going to be a very different world than I am used to, she thought to herself as she reviewed what she'd learned during the day. I'm sure there's much more to explore and learn. Hopefully whatever I find won't be too weird…
Her final thoughts as she drifted off were of the people she'd met in the day, and how much she was looking forward to finding out more.
Hello everyone and welcome to my story about Evenicle, a fantastic light novel/rpg about a boy who goes around the world collecting wives and fighting bad guys. I enjoyed this story immensely when I played it, so much so that I finally decided to take one of my oldest long-running meta-fiction concepts and apply it to this game. What is this meta-concept you may ask? Put simply, the Agents of the Multiverse are random heroes and heroines who travel about the multiverse helping the locals against both threats from their own universe and those who come from another world. Each of these agents have gone through numerous such missions over an extended period of time, leading to some of them becoming unnaturally experienced and skilled in almost any field. Bella here isn't quite to that level, but she's been around the block a few times, as this story will show.
As to what form this story will take, consider it a slightly alternative universe walkthrough of the game itself, with most of the changes coming from Bella's presence, but a few coming from within the story itself. Changes that might grow with time... Either way, for those of you who have played the game expect the same mix of fluffy goodness, fun combat, and loathsome villains as before. For those of you who haven't played it, I would heartily recommend it, even beyond the simple appeal of the waifus and sex scenes. This story has many merits of it's own, ones I hope I can recapture in my own writing. Hope you all enjoy, and let me know what you think.
Chapter 2: Darkness Looms
The next morning came bright and early, the sun leaking through the window onto Aster's bed, waking him up instantly. When he sat up, it took him a few moments to recall he wasn't in his room at home, but in a completely new place. And he wasn't alone…
Aster looked across the room at the other bed, seeing Bella snoring softly, her fire-like hair spread out around her pillow like a solar halo. She was beautiful, to be sure, and incredibly cute when she wanted to be, but she was also powerful and kind of intimidating, especially in combat. Aster recalled the vicious and focused look she'd had on her face when fighting. It was like she was a completely different person when she was locked in combat. It was hard for him to reconcile the strange but cute girl she was normally with that aggressive and brutally competent fighter.
His eyes trailed down from her face to her neck, then further to the upper part of her chest, where her blankets rose up to cover her boobs in a very alluring way. The fact that she was nude under that blanket only made him more eager to see underneath it, but he contained himself. If she caught him staring at her while she slept, she might get really upset at him and yell, or even leave, and he really didn't want that. He hadn't imagined he'd get to start his journey to become a knight with a girl as his partner, but now that it was his reality he really didn't want to miss the chance.
Besides, if she becomes a knight too, then maybe we can share partners if she chooses to marry me. Aster knew the thought was ambitious, but hell, she was a really cute girl who seemed to like him, and that was good enough to want to marry her in his book.
He didn't want to disturb her sleep, so he sat quietly in his bed for a while, watching her as the sun rose higher through the window. Eventually she started to wake up, yawning heavily and sitting up from the bed, letting her blankets fall and uncovering her chest. Aster bit his lip, excited at seeing her boobs again but not wanting to say anything that might upset her.
"G-good morning Bella," he said to her, drawing her bleary eyes his way.
"'Orning," Bell responded sleepily. "Where's shower?"
"Over that way," Aster told her, pointing to the bathroom to her right. She muttered a quick thanks before hopping out of bed, walking towards the bathroom without a second thought despite her nudity, giving him a look at the rest of her body. Aster's blush grew twice as strong as he studied her form, particularly her tight but curvy ass, before she left his sight and closed the door to the bathroom. He listened to her start the shower and was left wondering just what he should be doing at the moment. He felt his body supply him with an answer, but shut down that idea immediately, remembering her warning from the night before.
"Not enough time for that, now. Plus, I think I should really ask her permission first. Otherwise it feels like I'm taking advantage of her…"
Her shower was surprisingly quick, as she came out within only five minutes, roughly drying her long hair with her towel, leaving the rest of her uncovered.
"Shower's yours, Aster," she told him, her voice much more coherent now. "Plenty of hot water left, it seems. Rather impressive plumbing as well for a seemingly medieval society."
"Me-what?" he said, too distracted by her still wet boobs to hear her properly.
Bella rolled her eyes at him, then snapped to get his attention, which only lasted a few seconds. "Go ahead and shower, bud. We have places to be today. What those places are we don't know yet, but places all the same. Get!"
Aster leapt out of bed to follow her order, rushing into the bathroom before even thinking of removing his clothing. Once he was safely inside though, he was struck with a particular thought again, and this time it was much more tempting.
"I've never masturbated in a shower before," Aster said to himself in a whisper as he pulled down his pants. "Mostly because we didn't have a shower at home…" His pants and boxers fell to the floor with a swift tug, leaving his half-upright cock to jump free. His breath hitched as he cautiously grasped his member, then he grinned. "I mean, if I hurry, I should be fine, right? We're not in that much of a rush."
Excitedly he jumped into the shower, in his haste forgetting he still had his shirt on and tossed it out onto the floor. He fumbled with the handles for a bit until he figured out which was hot versus cold, then set the shower to just the right temperature. For a while he just stood under the stream, enjoying the sensation of water falling down his body and soothing his muscles. But down below his cock was still hissing at him to attend to it, and soon enough he obliged, taking it in his hand.
Aster was proud of his cock, even though the only thing he had to compare it to was porn mags, which his sisters had told him were blatantly unrealistic in their sizes. When he was fully erect he measured about a quarter of his arm's length, and wide enough he had difficulty rubbing the whole of his cock with one hand. It would take him a bit to reach that size at his current level of arousal, but he was more than eager to expedite the process.
But who do I think of? Bella, Raimus, Riche? My sisters? He struggled with his choice for a while, images of all the girls floating through his mind, before deciding not to decide and choosing them all. Grasping his cock tightly, he explored the feeling of water coating his length and making his hand move smoothly up and down. He started to envision the boobs of all the girls he'd seen. Raimus' mountainous curves, Riche's restrained but perky beauty, his sisters' twin sets of gorgeous peaks. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, none of them could compare to Bella's, as he had seen them in all their glory, unspoilt by clothes or bra. Her creamy smooth skin, her small pink nipples, how they jiggled as she moved.
He sped up his pumping, moving his hand from head to balls in rapid fashion. The water was making this extra easy, and the heat in the shower was making him pant.
Next he imagined Bella's ass, seeing it right there in front of him, with curves so perfect he couldn't dream of better. He wanted to touch her ass, feel it in his hands, grasp it tightly and run his fingers over every inch. His breathing grew labored, and his cock grew stiff and hard in his grasp.
He saw her pussy in his mind's eye, that soft, inviting slit waiting there between her legs, wanting him to get close and probe with his fingers, his tongue, his cock. He thrust between his hands, imagining it was Bella's pussy instead, moaning as he could almost feel himself slip into her. He saw her lips spreading to take him in, heard her gentle moans as she flooded with pleasure from his thrusts. Their eyes met, his and hers, both staring at each other with passion, pleasure… and love.
Aster groaned heavily as he reached his peak, ropes of his cum launching from his cock against the shower wall. He kept pumping away as his climax continued, imagining Bella's content smile as he filled her up with his cum. At last he ran out of steam, falling back against the wall, hand over his heart as he breathed in and out deeply.
"Wow… that was… incredible."
It took him a few minutes to recover from the force of his orgasm, but finally he remembered he was technically in the shower to get clean and rinsed himself off. Once he was out he picked up the towel laid out for him and dried himself off, taking care around his cock since it wasn't quite shrunk just yet. He then picked up his clothes and put them back on, striding out the door with a smile.
Outside Bella was waiting for him on the bed, spinning her mace around between her fingers out of apparently boredom.
"So, how was the wank?"
Aster just about flatlined, jaw coming loose as his mind shut down entirely.
"I assume it was a good one, given how long you took," she said, voice not changing at all in pitch as she kept speaking casually. "I wonder who you thought of most? I'm guessing it's me, since you saw me naked twice. Then again, could be your sisters, if you've seen them naked as well."
"It was mostly you," Aster said, then clapped his hand over his mouth when he realized what he'd just spoken.
"Called it," Bella said cheerfully. "Anyway, hope you had fun, because we're heading out now. Got lots of stuff to do."
Aster just nodded mutely and followed her out of the room, stiff as a board as he walked. He noticed Bella add some more time to their inn stay before they walked out into the street.
"So… what to do now?" Bella asked herself as she looked around.
"Should we try to go find Ramius?" Aster asked. "Since she's a knight she might know what to do to become one."
"That was my thought, but we have no idea where she might be at the moment. She did say she had other jobs to do besides protecting the town." Bella hummed, tapping her chin in thought. "I suppose for now we could just wander around killing monsters again. Getting some more gold to upgrade our equipment is far from a waste of time."
Aster was torn between really wanting that nice sword he saw in the shop and having to go out and kill gal monsters again, but he told himself that in the end, they were monsters, and half of a knight's job was slaying monsters in the first place.
"Hey, do you think we should look for Riche too while we're out there?" he said as they made their way to the edge of town.
"Oh for sure, but I don't think we're likely to run into each other on our own. She looked like she had places to be. If anything, I think she'll be the one to find us."
They chatted for a while as they left the town behind, Bella grilling Aster on what he knew of using his sword and her giving him more tips on using it effectively. As they were walking, they heard a moo come from behind them. Sure enough when they looked there was a cow wandering around on the road alone, no herd or humans in sight.
"Where did you come from, fella?" Aster asked as he walked up to the cow, petting it on the head. The animal barely seemed to notice his presence, mooing again in the exact same tone.
"Probably escaped from one of the farms around here," Bella speculated.
They looked up to see a girl with green hair and a long dress running towards them out of breath.
"I assume this is yours?" Bella called out to the girl as she got closer.
The girl paused for breath once she arrived, then nodded at them once she was settled. She had a thin pair of glasses over her eyes and overall carried a 'home-town girl' vibe. "Yes! He's mine! He likes to wander off sometimes, so I have to go chasing after him."
"Isn't that dangerous though with all the monsters around?" Aster said. "I wouldn't want a cute girl like you to get attacked.
"C-cute?" the girl said. "You think I'm cute?"
"He thinks every girl is cute," Bella told her.
"They are though!"
"Don't mind him," she continued kindly, "He's just a bit too free with his compliments for his own good. But he has a point you know. Even with the knight Ramius around, it's clearly not safe to go wandering around outside of town."
The girl looked down at her feet, clearly embarrassed. "You're right, I'm sorry. I just… when one of my cows is in danger I tend to forget about the risks to myself. My family gets awfully mad at me for that."
"Well, nothing happened this time, but you should take the warning seriously," Bella said. "Nobody wants to be the one attacked by monsters or outlaws."
"Of course, I'll be extra careful next time and get someone to come with me," she promised. "Thank you, and especially thank you for finding my cow for me."
Aster and Bella shared a look before the former said, "He… kinda found us, but you're welcome anyway."
The girl giggled. "All the same. You know, you two should come by my family's farm the next time you're in the village. We'll give you a nice home cooked meal to thank you for your help. We're on the west side, by the river. Come by any time!"
"Sure thing," Aster told her eagerly. "We'll be there. Oh, but what's your name? Mine's Aster, and she's Bella."
"Yo," Bella said, giving a little wave.
The girl bowed at them slightly. "Nice to meet you. My name is Colpis. And this is Moosel. Say hi Moosel."
The cow did no such thing, blindly staring at the empty sky, oblivious to Colpis' touch.
"Geez, and I thought cows in my world are dumb," Bella whispered under her breath.
Colpis wasn't put out though, gently patting the brainless animal on its empty skull and giggling. "Oh Moosel, no need to be shy. Anyway, I guess we should head home now. I hope to see you both soon!"
"Plan on it," Aster promised, waving goodbye to Colpis as she took the cow away. He stared at her as she left, a wistful smile on his face.
"She won't let you touch her boobs just for saving her cow, you know."
"Gah!" Aster jumped at the sudden sound of Bella's voice uncomfortably close to his ear, looking to his left to see her smirking at him. "I… I wasn't… Okay I was, but I wasn't serious about it. Much."
"Sure you weren't," Bella teased. "Look, I respect your desire to touch boobies, but you have to do a wee bit more than notice a random cow on the road to earn that privilege. Try becoming a knight and saving someone's life before you ask. Politely."
Aster's face grew determined at that as he flung his sword up above his head, shouting, "I will become a knight so I can touch a girl's boobies! This I swear."
"Yeah, you tell that sky Aster," Bella said with a touch of humor, the boy rubbing his hair with a bit of embarrassment.
From there they wandered around the plains surrounding Abel, finding several more hanny slime packs and a few more gal monster pairs, but less than yesterday. Apparently their work from the day before actually had an effect on the population, which was an encouraging thought. All the same, they earned enough gold to afford a few new items at the store and decided to head back for an early lunch. As they reentered the town they saw the red-haired man who had been with the mob on the beach, and he apparently saw them, as he walked right over.
"Hey there you two!" he said in greeting. "No hard feelings about yesterday, huh? I was just doing my job you know."
Bella rolled her eyes at him. "And what job would that be, pray tell?"
"Adventurer! But, uh, right now I'm employed as a soldier for the town." The man held out his hand to them. "My name's Yarase."
"Aster," Aster said, taking the guy's hand and shaking it firmly. When the same hand was offered to Bella, she was more reluctant to shake it, but eventually did so while giving him a bit of the stink eye.
"Bella, non-outlaw seeking to become a knight."
Yarase chuckled weakly. "Yeah, sorry again about that. I was just… really bored, cause there's not much that happens around here. I joined the town militia because I couldn't become a knight until I took the Knight Test that happens in the capital. Once I ace that, then I'll be a knight free and clear. Then I can have more girls as my wives, oh yeah!"
Oh great, another one.
Aster on the other hand seemed thrilled. "You're becoming a knight to get more girls too?"
"Oh yeah, obviously," Yarase said. "Why else would I do it?"
"Oh, I don't know," Bella said, "maybe to help people, do the right thing, fight evil monsters to keep the world safe?"
Yarase's face fell. "Oh yeah, knights do that stuff too… Well, that stuff'll be easy once I get to be a knight! I'll train hard to take on any challenge and get all the ladies to myself!"
Suuuure you will.
"But for right now, I'm just a soldier, and soldiers don't get any special privileges like knights do. We're just supposed to fight monsters and protect places."
"Like Ramius does," Aster said cheerfully.
Yarase shrugged. "I mean yeah, but… to be honest, me and the other soldiers have been kinda avoiding her."
Aster was instantly aghast. "What? Why? She's great!"
"Oh she may be hot, but did you notice she's here alone?"
Bella perked up at that, paying attention to the conversation again. "Why does that matter?" she asked.
Yarase glanced around, as if looking for anyone who might be listening in on their conversation. "Knights are supposed to operate in teams you know, but Ramius is always alone from what I hear. Rumor is everyone she works with gets injured and leaves her behind. That's why she earned the nickname 'the Loner Knight'."
Aster's face darkened at the mere prospect of Ramius being disliked. "That's unfair. Knights have a dangerous job don't they? Just because they get hurt when they're with her doesn't mean it's her fault, right?"
"Hey man, I'm just saying what I know," Yarase told him. "And what I know is that nobody wants to work with Ramius if they can help it, and I'm listening to their advice."
"Yeah, you do that," Bella said flatly, but Yarase missed her comment entirely.
"Man, if only they'd sent Acheval down here. If he saw how skilled I am, he'd totally set me up with the knights!"
"Who's Acheval?" Aster asked, causing Yarase to gasp in shock.
"You've never heard of Acheval?!" the man shouted, to which Aster just shook his head. "He's, like, one of the most famous guys around! He's one of Eden's only three Zero Knights!"
"I assume Zero Knight is a very high rank?" Bella asked, arms folded over her chest.
"The highest!" Yarase told her. "He was a hero in the Arthur Tragedy. You guys had to have heard about that one, right?"
Bella and Aster both said no.
"We're not exactly from around here," she told him. "Grew up on an island with no news beyond its shores."
Yarase stared at them in shock, saying, "Man, you guys don't know anything." He missed Bella's glare and kept right on, saying, "Well, if you want to know about all that, I'm not the guy to ask. I flunked out of history class."
Gee, what a shock.
"Anyway, what are you guys up to right now?"
"We wanted to go find one of the farms so we could eat there," Aster told him. "We were invited by Colpis personally."
"Colpis, Colpis… oh yeah, that cow girl! Yeah, she lives over on the west side. I can show you there if you want."
Yarase smiled and nodded, waving for them to follow. "This way then." He led them through the town, pointing out various places of interests as they went, most of which they'd already visited the day before. It didn't take them long to reach the farm on the edge of town, where a wide-open pasture was being grazed by a herd of cows. Standing by the fence there was Colpis, hand feeding one of the cows from a bucket of grass.
"Hey Colpis!" Aster shouted to her, causing her to jump in surprise and drop the bucket. The cow took several seconds to notice it wasn't being fed anymore, staring straight ahead for a while before leaning down to eat directly from the bucket.
"Oh, hello Aster, Bella," she said as they walked up. "And Yarase, nice to see you again."
"Yeah, you too," Yarase said. "So where's your fiancé, Ginyu? I usually see him out here with you when you're feeding the cows."
Bella glanced at Aster when he heard Colpis was taken, but to her surprise he was only sad for a moment before cheering right up again.
"He's inside, working on some paperwork," she said. "Oh, Aster, Bella, as part of my thanks for earlier, I'd like you to try some of the milk my cows have been producing." She held out a couple of glasses of white liquid. Aster took his eagerly, while Bella had to mentally chide herself for thinking it was a different white liquid.
Mind out of the gutter, girl.
Aster took a hearty swig, then gasped in delight. "Holy cow, it's so sweet!"
Bella took her own sip, eyes widening in shock as she tasted. "Jeez, it's like liquid ice cream. How did you make this?"
Colpis smiled widely. "It's milk from a specially bred cow. It's actually so sweet it can't be drunk on it's own, so you have to mix it with water."
"You made this just by breeding a cow?" Bella asked in amazement.
"She's been trying stuff like this for years ever since she was little," Yarase told them. "Though this is the first time I've heard of it making something really great. Congrats Colpis."
"Thank you so much," Colpis said, beaming. "I was hoping to develop it for export so that Abel could spread it around the world. That way our little farming town could get to be a little more famous."
"If it tastes like this, then I'm sure you'll succeed, Colpis," Aster told her.
Colpis grinned at him. "That's very kind of you to say, Aster. Thank you."
They all looked up to see a young man with dark brown hair running towards them.
"Ginyu? What's wrong?"
"Oh, that must be her fiancé," Aster said, his smile slipping a bit.
"Easy there, boyo," Bella whispered to him.
Ginyu arrived, taking a breath to settle his lungs. "Colpis, I'm so sorry, but that special cow you bred? It seems like it's caught mad milk disease!"
Colpis gasped. "Oh no! Not her! I put so much work in to breed her."
Ginyu clasped her hands to calm her. "It's okay, sweetie, we just need to find some special nutritious grass to feed it and that should cure the disease."
"But grass that nutritious doesn't grow around here," Colpis said.
Ginyu nodded but said, "I've heard that the sea wind near Fort Baroroan makes the grass there extra nutritious. We just need to have someone get it."
Colpis started to say she'd go but she was interrupted by Yarase.
"Colpis, get real! If you go that far from town you're bound to be attacked by monsters!"
"B-but… if we don't get that grass my cow will die…" She started to sniffle, the beginning of tears in her eyes.
"We'll get it."
Everyone looked to Aster with surprise save Bella, who merely nodded along.
"R-really?" Colpis asked. "You'd do that for us?"
"Sure," Aster said freely. "We'd love to help, right Bella?"
Bella smirked. "Oh yes. There's nothing more I'd like to do today than to save a cow by feeding it special grass. Especially if it means you get to keep working on your dream Colpis," she said in a more serious tone.
"Oh thank you, thank you so much! You have no idea how much this means to me!" Colpis broke down crying, but there was a bit of joy to the tears rather than pure sadness.
"You two really are great people," Ginyu said as he cradled his wife to be. "The grass should be growing off to the north of town near the river. If you can see the Fort in the distance, that should be close enough. Thank you, truly."
"Not a problem," Aster said. "We'll be back with that grass in no time."
Yarase clapped Aster on the back, staggering the smaller boy. "Hey, you two be careful out there, huh? No telling how many monsters you might see on the trip. And I can't go out there to help, I'm stuck here watching the town."
"Don't worry, we'll be able to handle it," Bella assured him. "We should be back in a few hours."
They waved goodbye, Colpis rushing up and giving Aster a tearful hug of thanks as they went. Close as they were to the edge of town already getting out into the open took only a few minutes, and from there Bella oriented them northward by measuring the angle of the sun in the sky. They walked for a while in silence, both content with their thoughts, but eventually Bella started up a conversation.
"You're a real nice guy, you know that Aster?"
"Hmm?" He looked at her in confusion. "What do you mean?"
Typical. The guy is so nice he doesn't recognize his own kindness. Out loud she said, "You're offering to go out on a potentially dangerous task to fetch some grass all so a dumb cow doesn't die just to let a girl have her chance at her dream. That's pretty selfless, you know."
Aster blushed but stayed firm in his conviction. "I just… couldn't stand to see a cute girl like Colpis sad, you know? And since I could help, I really wanted to. I don't want to ever let someone be sad if I can do something to fix it."
"And that's one of the best virtues out there," she told him. "That sense of selfless heroism. Which, by the way, a lot of girls find very attractive in a man."
Given his shocked expression, Aster was surprised at the idea that his basic personality would actually be a turn on for most women, then he smiled dumbly for a while. They kept on to the north for some time, wandering away from the road after an hour to head directly towards the river. They ran into several more hanny slimes along the way, as well as more gal monsters , but none of them posed a challenge when they were spotted coming almost literally a mile away. Eventually they caught sight of the river, a wide, meandering body of water that moved at a modest pace to the southeast towards the sea. The grass around it was remarkably tall and sturdy, forcing both of them to work together to pull out a thick clump of it.
"Well, that was easy," Aster said as he stuffed the grass into his pack, only for Bella to hiss at him. "What? What'd I say?"
"Never say those words, Aster," she warned him. "Whenever you do, you jinx things so that something will go wrong. What and when is hard to predict, but I'm telling you, something always goes wrong when you say that."
Aster looked like he didn't believe her, but chose not to comment on it. The return journey was utterly peaceful, no new monsters appearing on their path back to town. Halfway back though they saw an oddity appear in their path: a random chest just sitting in the grass.
"What's that doing there?" Bella asked.
Aster was about to shrug when he remembered something. "Oh hey, I think that's a skill chest."
"A… no, wait, don't tell me. It gives you a skill when you open it?"
"Yep," Aster said as he approached the chest, hands out.
"And how do you tell if it's meant for you?" she asked him.
"That's what I'm trying to see," Aster said. "My sisters told me a skill chest will feel warm to the touch if it has a skill you can use inside." He put his hand on the wood and grinned. "Warm! This is for me!" He opened the chest and stuck his hand inside, then yelped as he leapt back, electricity coursing over his arm.
Bella rushed up to him. "You okay?" she asked, looking him over.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It was just kinda… shocking." As Aster said the word, more electricity ran down his arm, but this time it didn't stun him.
"Well hey, looks like you can control lightning now. That's cool."
Aster laughed with glee, then thrust his hand out at the ground, a small bolt of lightning lancing out and burning the grass there with a snap. "That's so awesome."
Bella clapped him on the shoulder. "Come on, you can practice more on the way back."
Aster grinned at her happily, then asked, "Hey, what skills do you have?"
"No idea so far. I'll figure it out later."
It wasn't long after that they saw the outskirts of town. As they got closer though they saw a group of people massing around the farm where Colpis was, and that made both of them nervous.
"That's not a good sign," Bella said for the both of them. Rushing the rest of the way there, they pushed through the crowd to the farmhouse. Ginyu was slumped against the front door of the house, Yarase standing over him looking dejected. Ramius was there as well, her brow furrowed.
"Ginyu, what's wrong?" Aster said. "Where's Colpis?"
Ginyu didn't answer, instead thumping his fist against the door behind him angrily.
"Outlaws took her," Yarase answered for the grieving man. "Happened not long after you left. They just… rushed onto the farm and nabbed her, plain as day. I was too far away to stop them, and they were too fast to catch. They got away… and I couldn't stop them…"
Aster looked like he'd been struck in the stomach, while Bella simply closed her eyes and let her anger seep away before it rose up.
"It's not your fault, Yarase," Ramius told him. "Outlaws are crafty and sneaky. They know how to go unnoticed until it's too late."
"But I was the guy on guard duty!" he shouted back at her. "It's my fault she was taken! I should have been stronger! Been faster, something!" The man's anger faded as fast as it came, his head hanging and his voice hollow. "Some knight I'd be if I can't even protect my own village."
Ramius stood next to him, fidgeting, clearly wanting to say something but unable to come up with the words. So Bella did it for her.
"Yarase, look at me." She waited until he did before she continued. "Sometimes in life, shit happens, and there's nothing we can do to prevent it. It sucks, it's awful, and it tears us up inside. Makes us start to focus on the what-ifs and the what-could-have-beens. Speaking as someone who's dealt with that feeling more times than I can count, listen to my words here: it's okay to feel sad about it, but don't blame yourself for something you had no control over."
Yarase stared at her in shock, but started to harden his expression as her words sunk in. "I… I see. I… thank you Bella."
"You're welcome," she told him earnestly. "Now, let's get to the part we can control. Finding these bandits and dealing with them."
Ramius stood up tall when Bella said that, saying, "It's my job as a knight to deal with them, and that's what I'll do. From what I saw of the tracks, it looks like the outlaws headed to the west around the cape. There's rumored to be an old smugglers den out there that they may be using as their base. I shall go there and clear them out, while all of you remain here."
"But we can help!" Aster shouted. "We should help! Colpis needs us to save her!"
Ramius stood steadfast though, shaking her head at him. "You are not a knight or a soldier, Aster, so you are not permitted to kill another human, even an outlaw in defense of another. More than that, it is not safe for anyone who is not a knight to go. The cave is known to be a haven for monsters now, and if the outlaws have joined them there, then it is far too dangerous for an ordinary citizen to go, no matter how skilled."
"Wait, how could the outlaws be hiding in the same place as monsters?" Yarase asked. "Monsters attack everybody, even outlaws, no exceptions!"
"Which means either the outlaws have found a way to co-exist with monsters," Ramius said, "or they were strong enough to clear out the entire cave of those monsters, meaning they are strong enough ordinary soldiers can't deal with them. No. Only I can go. I am the only one who can defeat them." She looked to Aster with an apologetic expression. "I'm sorry, Aster, but it has to be this way. Please, follow my orders."
The boy grit his teeth, the argument on the tip of his tongue, but he backed down, slowly nodding his ascent.
"Very well. I shall leave immediately so that she may be saved before they can attempt to turn her against Mother Eve."
"Wait, what does that mean?" Bella asked.
Yarase's expression grew dark as he explained. "Outlaw men take women for only one reason: to rape them. And if more than one of them rapes her, she'll be considered an outlaw and lose access to Eve's blessing just like them."
Bella's jaw fell open a second before she exploded with rage, saying, "ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?! THIS BULLSHIT SYSTEM LETS OUTLAWS TURN OTHER PEOPLE INTO OUTLAWS AGAINST THEIR WILL?! HOW THE FUCK IS THAT POSSIBLE!?"
Everyone shrunk back from her roaring, both in shock and alarm.
"That's just the way it is," Yarase told her, trembling. "Nobody knows why the rules work like that but Mother Eve herself."
Bella was still seething as he spoke, but quickly attempted to compose herself, succeeding only in tempering her rage into a fine and quiet fury. "Well rest assured, if I ever have the opportunity to meet with this Mother Eve, I'll give her a piece of my mind, that's for fucking sure."
Everyone gasped at the proclamation, a few people in the crowd shouting at her for going against Eve's teachings. Bella had to suppress the urge to yell at them for being unthinking and uncritical about such an obvious flaw in their system of laws, but kept her cool enough not to rant.
"There is still time to save her if I hurry," Ramius assured them all. She looked to Ginyu, who was slumped on the ground now, tears dried from exhaustion. "I promise you, I will return her to you safely."
To her surprise though, Ginyu looked up at her with furious eyes. "How can I believe what you say?! It's your fault she was taken in the first place!"
Ramius, wide-eyed, backed away from him as he kept up his shouting.
"I wish the capital had sent Acheval here! If he was here, Colpis would never have been taken at all! Instead we got you, his useless sister, who gets all of her partners killed! How can I trust you'll save my fiance if you can't even keep your teammates alive!"
Aster grew livid as Ginyu ranted and was about to make a move at the man, but Yarase beat him to it.
"Shut the hell up you idiot!" Yarase roared in Ginyu's face, making the meek farmer fall back to the floor. "She's offering to go alone to save your beloved from outlaws and monsters and you scream at her for it?! How could you!"
Ginyu, his anger diminished, shrunk into himself, curling into a ball and heaving with tears. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it…"
"Sure you didn't you fucking prick," Bella sniped at him. "You're lucky I know what grief does to a person, or I'd pick you up off the ground and slap you right back down." She looked to Ramius, who was looking away from everyone, her gear loose in her grasp. "Ramius, don't listen to him. He's mad with grief and it's making him say stupid shit. I know you're the best bet Colpis has of coming out of this okay. You may be the only knight for the job, but that doesn't mean you're not the best knight for the job."
Ramius didn't acknowledge her words, but she did grip her lance more tightly. "I'm leaving now. I shall return with Colpis as soon as I am able." She turned to address the crowd. "All of you please return to your homes. The situation is under control."
At her order the crowd started to disperse, many of the people muttering to each other as they left. When most of them were gone, Ramius turned to Yarase.
"Please watch over the town while I'm gone."
Yarase straightened in place, saluting her. "Absolutely! I'll get the guys together and make sure nothing gets close, outlaw or monster."
Ramius gave him a small smile. "Thank you Yarase. I know I can trust you. And… thank you for defending me."
Yarase faltered a bit but returned to his serious pose. "S-sure thing."
Ramius nodded to him one last time then left, heading towards the edge of town. As she was walking off, Bella nudged Aster, motioning in the direction she had gone, to which he nodded and they both walked after her.
"Hey! Where are you guys going?"
They paused, looking back at him. Bella smirked and said, "Exactly where you think we're going."
Yarase stared at them wide-eyed for a moment, then grinned. "Good luck then. And… bring Colpis back in one piece, you hear?"
Aster firmly nodded to him, then took the lead in following after Ramius. It didn't take long to catch up when they both went at a light jog, catching her just as she was leaving the town boundary. She noticed them arriving and turned to see them, obviously confused.
"What are you two doing here?"
"We're here to help you," they both said at the same time, surprising each other, but surprising Ramius more.
"That's… that's not necessary," she started to say, but Bella cut her off.
"Necessary or not, we're doing it anyway. Colpis is in danger and she needs all the help she can get. And I don't like the idea of you going into a bandit lair all by yourself."
"Outlaws," Ramius corrected absently. "I'll be fine. I'm used to working alone. If you come, you'll just be put in danger."
"We can handle danger," Aster assured her. "We can take care of ourselves. Plus, we don't want to see you hurt any more than Colpis! We have to help to make sure you stay safe too!"
"I…" Ramius fell silent, staring at the ground between them. "I don't want you to get hurt either. Like… all my partners do."
Bella noticed how downcast Ramius was and decided to buck up her spirit by lightly punching her in the shoulder. "Hey now, we can handle it. We cleared out the hanny slimes and gal monsters from these fields by ourselves without a scratch. If the three of us are working together, there's no way those outlaws stand a chance, right? Plus… there's no way I'd forgive myself if a cutie like you got hurt."
Ramius' face turned up to her in sheer shock as she started to stammer again. "Y-you too? You think I'm cute as well?"
"Totally," Bella said. "Everything about you is adorable and hot at the same time. Heck, I'm almost as enamored with you as Aster is, and that's saying something."
Aster nodded to confirm, leaving Ramius no safe place to squirm her way out of the compliment. "I've never met a girl as attractive as you are before. And I saw Bella naked!"
Ramius' eyes, somehow, grew even wider as her gaze swapped back and forth rapidly between them.
Bella thumped Aster in the head, saying, "That didn't need to be mentioned, Aster."
"Sorry, I was just getting excited. But it's true!"
"I… I don't know what to say," Ramius told them. "No one has ever said such things to me before."
Bella looked at her with surprise. "Seriously? A girl as hot as you not ever getting compliments? Jeez, what blockheads and morons have you been surrounded by all your life?"
"They… most people can't see me as… cute… because I am a knight who slays monsters," Ramius told them. "They only see me as a warrior."
Bella pinched her nose. "Well then they're blind and stupid. Just because you're strong doesn't mean you can't be beautiful."
"Yeah," Aster agreed. "You're the strongest girl I've ever met, but that doesn't make you any less hot."
Ramius shuddered for a bit longer, but the pair could finally see the hint of a smile on her face. "Thank you… both of you. Your words mean a lot to me." She straightened, allowing some of her prior composure to return. "You both mean to help me, even though it will be dangerous?"
"We do," they both confirmed in unison.
Ramius closed her eyes, smiling as she came to her decision. "Very well. Then with the power granted to me by the Kingdom of Eden, I shall make you both Soldiers of Eden, so that you may be allowed to fight and kill like a knight." Her eyes hardened, and she pointed her lance at both of them. "Be warned. Do not misuse this power I have granted you, as I will not hesitate to eliminate either of you if you prove you are not responsible with it. The ability to kill at will with no repercussions from the law is a dangerous ability that not all are able to wield safely. If you begin to abuse it, it is all too easy to fall into evil."
Aster solemnly held up his hand, saying, "I promise I won't abuse my power."
Bella didn't say anything for a moment, instead wearing a sad smile on her face. "You may not know this, Ramius, but this is a power I am all too familiar with, and one that has plagued me for most of my adult life. You have my word I shall not kill without adequate reason, as well as the promise that if ever I do, I shall not resist your lance's punishment, and indeed present myself to you."
Ramius passively heard the speech in full, her eyes narrowing throughout before she nodded firmly.
"Very well. With that settled. Let us hurry. Colpis only has so much time before it is too late." Ramius held her lance out above her head as a light coalesced at the tip, shining brightly even in the midday sun. Once it was collected, she pressed it into both their shoulders in turn, saying, "In the name of Lady Ramius Dreissen, may Aster and Bella be granted the title of Soldier."
The pair felt a warmth flush through them, their shoulders growing numb at the point of contact for a few moments before the sensation faded.
"That was simpler than expected," Bella said.
"It is not a complex ritual," Ramius told her. "Also, now that you are soldiers, both of you will be eligible to become knights through the test in the capital."
"Wait, really?" Aster said. "Awesome! My first step to becoming a knight! And one step closer to being able to fuck my sisters!"
Bella facepalmed at the random declaration, then immediately removed it when she heard Ramius' lance moving. She looked just in time to see the point of the lance laying flush against Aster's neck, Ramius staring at him with clear anger.
"You… you wish to be a knight only to have sex with multiple women! That's an insult to the meaning of being a knight!"
"W-what?" Aster said, trying not to move so he didn't get stabbed. "That's the main reason why I wanted to be a knight, because you can have multiple wives."
That did not help matters, and indeed seemed only to make Ramius angrier. "So you are perverted and dishonorable then! I should take back your soldier designation, but I cannot do so by myself! But know that I will not work with you for anything at all!"
"Woah woah woah, Ramius, calm the hell down," Bella said. She grabbed the point of the lance and pulled it away from Aster, only to end up having the tip stuck to her neck instead.
"And what of you? Are you planning to do the same pervertedness with multiple men? Are you so lustful you can't stand the idea of only one partner?"
Fighting the urge to roll her eyes at the ridiculousness of the situation, Bella answered Ramius with, "Are you forgetting the fact that the whole reason we came after you was because we wanted to help save Colpis? A girl who, may I remind, is already set to be married to someone else?"
That gave Ramius pause, enough that Bella was able to step out of range of the girl's lance.
"Look, Aster's stated reason for wanting to be a knight may not be the most noble thing in the world, but you can't deny he is a noble person! He is here literally risking his life just to save a girl he barely knows all because he wants to help, not even in expectation of getting anything for it! Does that honestly sound like the actions of a person who has bad intentions for anyone, Ramius?"
The white-haired girl seemed to struggle internally with how to respond, a struggle shown in the unsteady waving of her lance back and forth. "But… but it's wrong to desire more than one partner! It's perverted, against Eve's teachings!"
"If it's against Eve's teachings, then why did she allow knights to have multiple partners?"
That simple question utterly broke Ramius' composure, as her arms went slack and her mouth fell open in shock.
"That's actually a good point, Bella," Aster said. "Eve must have wanted some people to have multiple wives… or husbands, I guess, or else she wouldn't have let knights be the exception!"
Bella reached out to Ramius, taking care to step around the lance scraping against the cobblestones. "Ramius, it's okay if you disagree with what he wants. If you find sex uncomfortable like that, then that's perfectly fine. But please, don't discount his virtues as a person simply because he enjoys something you find you can't enjoy the same way."
There was silence for a while as Ramius processed what Bella said, both Bella and Aster waiting quietly as she thought. Eventually Ramius looked up at them, a stern expression on her face. "Fine. I shall still work with you to help save Colpis. But know that I will not respect you so long as you have such ridiculous ideas in your head!"
Aster winced but quietly nodded. "Sorry, Ramius. I didn't mean to upset you. I just… like what I like. Still, I'm glad you're letting us help you so we can save Colpis."
Ramius didn't say a word, turning away towards the path. "Let's go. We need to hurry to catch up with the outlaws."
With that Ramius took up a jogging pace, both Bella and Aster following closely behind. None of them noticed as a figure moved out of the shadows of a building near to where they had talked, a blonde-haired girl leaning out to watch them go.
"It's been a long time since I've seen Ramius blow up like that," Riche whispered to herself. "She looked devastated when she heard Aster say that." She giggled. "That Aster. He's so different. He seems like a pervert on the surface, but under that he really seems to care about girls as girls, not just as things to be lusted after. How can a boy like him be so earnest about something most people are scared to talk about?" She paused, looking at the other retreating figure, the one with orange hair. "And Bella… she seems so wise, despite not looking any older than Aster. How old is she really? And where did she learn to be so understanding?"
Riche sat by herself in the shadow of the building for a while, wondering as to the answers to her questions. Then she reminded herself of the mission her friend was on and she stood up. "They'll need my help for sure, no doubt about it. I can't just wait here for them to get back. I should do something to help. Ramius. Aster. Bella." She smiled, holding her staff to the sky. "The Princess of Eden is coming to aid you!"
Thus, without another moment's hesitation, she took off after them, moving at her own pace so that she could meet them at the proper moment. As she ran a wind picked up across the plain, carrying with it a change in direction that marked the course of something much greater.
And thus we start our first major quest. Not much to say so far, very little has changed to this point in terms of plot. That said, I am going to try and dive a bit deeper on the various characters we spend time with in the game, seeing some of their other sides and exploring the changes they make over time. Incidentally, Ramius is best girl and I shall fight to the death to defend her.