Chapter 15: Preliator
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Chapter 15: Preliator

14:24 - 22:47

(Disclaimer: Not all historical accounts are accurate)

The paramilitary behemoth of a leader had kept a predatory gaze set upon his formidable female foe who had stood at a stance as she had kept a keen sight on both him and a steel beam fixture hanging off the side of the abandoned factory within the undisclosed location just outside of the Tokyo area. She had known that she had only a limit amount of time to finish this fight as the local authorities would converge on this area any moment, yet the situation has called for dire measures. Her foe, cited by the dossier within the prominent level of World Mage’s Organization wanted registry of renegade mages, was specialized in eighth tier [Wind Magic] and [Earth magic.] Which was marginally incapable with her specialized attributes that consisted of [Water Magic], [Plant Magic], and [Healing Magic]. While the dryad did have experience with various other types of magic, such as fire, and wind magic, none of them would make a dent in the defensive field her foe was most likely going to put up in order to protect himself from her. The initial boast of having a high rank in [Wind Magic] had only been used as a diversion to throw her enemy off. Despite that, her tenth tier spell-casts in [Water Magic] was the scourge to the giant’s [Earth Magic], so she will have to resort to using the element on her foe. Vying on that knowledge, she had devised a plan to quickly drive him into a corner. But first, she needed to take out the small fries in order to gain any ground on him. Yet there was an unnerving feeling that bothered her due to the unprecedented nature of this attack.

“So, all that sweet talk you had spewed out earlier, yet you hesitate to attack?” The man had instigated albeit distorted due to the gas mask he had donned, cocking his fists as a streamline of rock fragments started to gather around them to serve as an offensive type of spell. The girl on the other hand had gazed at him with a coy yet bemused expression, prompting the giant to go on the offensive. “Very well then… Let me give you a small taste of Slavic hospitality!”

The man had shot forward a stream of accelerated rock fragments that would normally pierce through 10 cm thick steel, queuing the rest of gunmen to start firing their weapons in a blaze of glory. However, this attack had only been but a prolusion for the dryad as she started focusing her vital essence into a plant and water hybrid type of shield named [Thorned Pavilion.] The shield had been composed of a blooming rose at the center that sprouted out an array of thick thorny whips and intercepted each projectile at incredible speed. The water infused within it acted as a hardened shell stronger than titanium while simultaneously channeling out water torrents into various hydro-kinetic constructs such as ice shards and water barriers to intercept the projectiles. In the process using her fourth tier divergence to keep her opponent at bay, she had started secretly casting a timed pyro-elemental rune into the metal aperture that supported the steel beam cache. With a twirl, she had set course towards an overview located on a ladder platform. However, the behemoth had given her no chance to relocate as he had launched a set of [Serrated Protrusions] that had spiked up to impeded her advance. With a subdue grunt, she had retaliated with a copious amount of [Water Sprites] and [Mandrake Shrieks]. The behemoth had winced at the earsplitting sonic waves emanating from her hands but immediately recovered as he had closed in on her with a [Helix Thrust] along with a [Rock Sabot] forming in his right hand. He had shot it forth at the dryad, who had narrowly grazed her by a whisker as she had rolled out of the way of it before using [Lilac Burst] to compensate for a more favorable approach. Using her hair as weapon, she had hurled it towards the behemoth but the hair was immediately severed by what appeared to be wind barrier of some sort. This had caused that strand of hair to shrivel up, and lose color, as the dryad had cursed herself while keeping her opponent at bay. ‘The hair is no good huh? Looks like we’ll need to try a different approach.’ She had contemplated to herself while simultaneously dodging his attacks with the agility that had attributed [Lilac Burst].

The leader had continued to circle around the perimeter of the dryad as he ogled at the multipurpose defensive spell with contorted ecstasy written all over his face. He had become rather familiar with this spell-cast after the her unprecedented intervention during the clashes near the Kosovo and Serbian borders during the Yugoslavia War in 1998. As it was solely responsible for a foiled covert operation that resulted in half of his company being wiped out by the unparalleled threat. Being lead on that drive for revenge, he had flared up his mana circuits to the max as rock and concrete fragments had started expanded and enshrouding his being in a cyclone of death. The wind torrents he had generated had only added to the introductory arpeggio of their waltz to the death. Kicking up dust violently into the air coating the area in a thick sirocco. The leader had huffed out orders into his radio to his fellow comrades to regroup and initiate a certain task within the warehouse, as he started summoning lances of concrete before hurling them towards [Thorned Pavilion.] Causing parts of the spell to shatter upon impact since it was not a sentient being. Complying, the gunman had sprouted spiraling wind currents protruding from their backs that acted as wings and had dashed away using their surrogated powers acquired from obvious contractor. But not before popping off a couple of smoke grenades to mask their presence despite the cover of the sirocco.

‘… They’re heading to the warehouse despite the obvious trap near the entrance? Something doesn’t seem to add upHe’s had also intensified the output of his [Stratum of Mire] as well and has given his grunts parting gifts in the form of [Helix Seraphim]. The question is, who was the contracted spirit that granted him the ability to acquire separate hosts to transfer his powers to?’ She had briefly contemplated, before instantly dashing towards the mentioned warehouse as she started transferring a mana signal towards the rune to impede their advance. But not before she was immediately intercepted by the barreling beast of a man who shot forward at her and slammed into her with his [Stratum of Mire] like a raging bull. The sheer impact of the debris slamming into her various water based defensive fields she had cast would have pulverized any living creature, due to the majority of her wards shattering upon the impact. She had been launched through the air during the clash as she tried to adjusted her poise to regain her footing, landing in somersault to break her fall. However, she had barely had enough time to react as a barreling fist had narrowly swept across her face, flinching at would could have likely been a broken jaw. A stinging pain had flared up in her left leg despite the flawless somersault, signaling that she might have had some debris graze her during their initial clash. Her face had contorted into slight vexation at the sequence of events. However, only had a split second to assess her situation as a concrete jagged formation in the shape of a gauntlet had hurled at her, throwing a spare plant-based ward up to defend herself from the perpetual barrage of fists and high kicks in the form of the Spetsnaz Systema to impede her. A minor miscalculated defensive counter had sent her sailing through the air landing harshly against a large circular structure near a fence. The impact had knocked the air out of her lungs as she had firmly steadied herself but not before having to lunge away from another barreling fist flying towards her.

“Don’t toil with the likes of them… This battle is purely centered around you and I, vedma…” The man had chastised her spitefully, as he closed in on his opponent who had leaned onto what appeared to be a wire spool. The spool itself had immediately sparked an idea into his mind, as he had briefly appraised the wire material that was composed of an iron-copper alloy. The dryad on the other hand had composed herself, giving her foe a slight vexed grimace in response. She had channeled [Close Wound] essence down her leg meditatively, as she had adjusted to her opponents evolution since their last encounter. Not making the mistake of underestimating her opponent. She had then proceeded to spam cast a continuous barrage of [Water Blades] and [Spore Bombs] to create a distance between them. The [Water Blades] had provided a leeway to chip away at his [Stratum of Mire] absolute defense field, while the [Spore Bombs] had unleashed a toxic fungi that would rapidly grow under murky conditions and served to wear down the victim’s consciousness along with a certain side effect. Despite the [Spore Bombs] being a completely different organic type of matter, they were recognized as being a part of the [Plant Magic] catalog . The [Water Blades] colliding with his barrier had provided the perfect damp conditions for the two to coincide with each other. Though she had secretly and systematically launched volleys of [Spore Bombs] into certain strategic locations, casually weaving through the ransacked barbed fencing and marred asphalt as the behemoth had given chase.

“You’ve grown up quite well yourself since I’ve last seen you, haven’t you? You aren’t the cowardly little mage alumni I used to know.” The dryad had complemented sardonically, switching her offensive spells arbitrarily to keep herself unpredictable as she dashed and rebounded off various structures through the haze with [Lilac Burst] to avoid the incoming concrete and stone shelling. The colossus had intensified his offensive output, with the pure goal in mind to buy enough time to move into the next phase of his operation. With repetition and skill, she had ultimately jousted a [Tidal Stream] through an opening within his worn barrier. The man had cursed under his breath at such an occurrence, tanking the damage it had inflicted on him within his interior [Vortex Aura] in order to dispose of it. However, the damage in question had already been done by a combination of the water based spell and the battered [Thorned Pavillion]. The spell she had initially used on the helicopter had been labeled [Sunflower Glare], but due to the haze, the effectiveness of the spell had been rendered useless.

Once a few lingering spell’s water droplets had indiscriminately seeped into the cracks and made contact with his skin, the dryad had quickly manipulated and attached the mana structure into a dangerous rooted seedling spellcast named [Bane of Aesezlort]. It took the form of a bloodroot plant with a sinister coppery hue and had the inclination to thrive on living hosts. Once the host had been infected with the [Bane of Aesezlort], the victim in question would immediately feel a burning sensation tantamount to sticking your hands in a cast iron forge. Then numbness would proceed as the cusp of the root had branched out blue veins in the man’s skin. Flinching at the searing sensation, the colossus had shot the dryad a murderous look as he had inconspicuously gritted his teeth in pain. The barrier had weakened as a result of him losing focus but remained nearly impenetrable.

“You bitch, what did you do?” The man had spat, as he gripped his bowie knife next to his pistol holster. The dryad had responded with a stoic gaze of her own, not directly answering his question. Instead, she had felt slightly crestfallen that her former initiate have undermined the fact that her nature had very well revolved around the intrinsic role of being Guardians to the Forest. She had intensified the erosive nature the spell had on the body as the skin around the plant root had started to externally erupt into blisters and other painful rashes to keep the goliath subdued.

“Have you forgotten what I am? Who was it that had helped you cultivate into the monster that you have become? The one who had swept you up from the ashes of war and gave you refuge in your most despairing hour? I am a dryad, a protector and a mother to all botanical life forms within my domain. It is my duty to set complicit renegades like you on the right path.” The dryad had admonished, as she exerted her mana into a flow of poisonous miasma that started streamlining through the colossus’s body. With a fierce look within his eyes, he had unsheathe is bowie knife and had thrashed through his afflicted left arm. Clutching his amputated arm with a clench of his teeth from the jarring pain, he had shot his opponent a malignant glare as the squelching sound of the limb dropping had resonated through the advanced hearing of the dryad’s plethora of racial attributes. She had slightly flinched at the brute’s daunting measures of mutilation, reminiscing about the initiate’s belligerent and cold personality in the past. He had chortled menacing, which then exploded into full blown cackling as blood trickled down from the cavity of the lacerated sleeve. He had thrown a spare shiv at her, which was easily deflected by her wards.

“Hahaha, the pinnacle of self-conceited reverence. Truly the peak of magus evolution that those scheming bastards such as yourself that had imposed into the minds of the cattle sent to the slaughter…” He had shot her a pained and hateful morbid look had pervasively contorted across his face as mana particles had flared up in his only existing arm. The mutilated arm had oozed of a thick and foul oily black substance, pouring into the cracks of the earth before shattering into an array of mana particles. Subsequently, he had shot her a [Concrete Charge] while she had stood with a regretful and anguished expression at the past she had desperately tried to bury within the back of her mind. She had extra-corporeally summoned a spectral water shield named [Neptune’s Nebula] to protect herself from his attack. The cast had consisted of a shrouded gray cloud with trident like water columns spinning around within it, smashing the projectiles to pieces as the clumps had ricocheted back the concrete fragments back at the offensive caster. The brute had anticipated this action, reminiscing that her foe had been one the chief scholars within of the Tower of Ecomancy back when he was still an apprentice. Even now, he had known that he had stood no chance against her in a drawn out battle, as the lulled wail of sirens had shrieked in the distance. However, he did have a trump card hidden up his sleeve, and he needed end it quickly. With steadfast resolution and hatred in his voice, he had defiantly exerted a few choice of words. “For that very reason, I must destroy you for his sake.”

With the finesse of a blade dancer and the wrath of a vengeful dragon, he had quickly drawn out a series of runic scrolls with a series of calligraphic scribes written in them. Before proceeding to slam the talisman into the ground as an electromagnetic chain reaction had started to take precedent. The dryad’s eyes had widen in shock at the dire situation that had arisen, as she desperately tried to escape from the close proximity of the spell. She had unleashed a mirage of plant and water based attacks, however the [Stratum of Mire] had intensified its nearly impervious defense composition as all attacks had seemingly bounced off his shield as he rocketed towards her with a [Cyclone Burst].

Where in the world did he get that talisman? That’s a forbidden art buried through the ancient archives of the Athenaeum.’ She had desperately contemplated, as she had increase the output of her shield spell to its fullest potential along with a vast array of water based wards. However, the talisman had already been successfully cast in an inaudible chant as an explosive amount of runic discharges had distorted reality around her. Despite using [Lilac Burst] to avoid the spatial plasma projectiles, she had already been ensnared by the wire from the spool he had magnetized to whip against her left hips. A single streak of lightning had crashed through the air at the sudden surge of energy. With a single calculative spatial ray that had emitted through one of the runic gates, she had been sent crashing through various structures at an inconceivable speed. The shield and runes had shattered under the blunt force of kinetic energy that was distributed upon them. She had eventually found herself in the middle of the empty warehouse, pulling herself up weakly as every fiber of her mangled being had ached from the aftermath of the spell. However, she had barely any time to retaliate, as the various glass shards around her had emanated energy beams towards a focal point at the top of the structure. That was when she noticed in the unusual amount of dust and crates within the area, as a wind had stirred about disproportionately in the air yet enough to drown the area with. Her eyes had fell upon a vacuum seal placed within the hole of the wall that she had been smashed through, as she had squinted her eyes due to a haze. The last thing she had seen was a spark igniting at the focal point before the surrounding enclosed area had been engulfed in an explosion.

~ Line Break ~

Subaru and Rem for the most part, had abstained from involving themselves within the spiral of events that had unfolded at the abandon warehouse as they hid underneath a collapsed sheet of metal. Subaru had glanced over to Rem to keep quiet with a finger on his lips, as she rationally obliged to his concern. They had been already been subjected to an unparalleled amount of stress and bewilderment that would make even the most punctilious person’s head spin. One explosion after another along with a continuous barrage of gunfire had rocked the area as Subaru had clutched onto the weapon he had picked up from a dead corpse after the dryad had urged them to leave the area and met her at the location on the map she had indicated. However, something within him had stirred at the notion of leaving such a frail looking girl at the mercy of a bunch of militaristic brutes. With reckless curiosity, he had peered from under the cover as the clashes had kicked up debris into the air of all sorts, noticing that the enemy leader seemed to have some sort of power that allowed him to shield himself with sedimentary and concrete fragments. Subaru knew that if he had went out there to him the girl out, that it would be suicidal, yet he felt that he needed to do something.

They’re both leagues well above the average magic caster back in Lugnica, yet something is weird. If this is theoretically my world, why is there magic too?’ Subaru had contemplated, as he felt the reverberations and shock-waves from the intensifying clashes literally change the landscape around the duo. Rem had tapped onto his shoulder attentively, as she brought her face close to his ears.

“We shouldn’t let her efforts go to waste. The other men dressed in those weird tunics and robes seemed to have used the dust as cover to relocate. They might be searching for us as we speak.” Rem had suggested astutely, as Subaru had noticed the lack of gunfire going off nonstop during the battle despite the initial events. He had scanned the surrounding industrial infrastructure, noticing a derelict mossy-walled alley that lead to an old office building of a sorts with a shack harboring its exterior. Though the dryad had explicitly told them to wait it out until she had indicated that it was safe, Subaru’s mind had prioritized survival due to the sheer amount of power the two mages had displayed fearing that they might be caught in the crossfires. Clutching the rifle close to him in which he did not know how to use, he had absentmindedly prayed to whatever god was watching over them as his mind was set on getting out of battlefield. However, he did have a concern to address.

“Are you sure you’re going to be alright? I mean, you just got shot no less than an hour or so ago. I know that girl did heal you with what seemed to be a healing spell of some sorts, but that doesn’t mean you should push yourself.” Subaru had muttered worriedly. Rem had slightly pouted from the inquiry, but Subaru did raise a solid concern pertaining to her health. She did feel extremely light-headed and nauseous to the point of doubling over and passing out but she decided to stand firm to her resolve and dismiss it. At least until should could assure Subaru’s safety.

“I do feel a little light-headed from what most likely was the blood-loss earlier, but I think I can manage.” Rem had reaffirmed, disgruntled at the fact that she was going to burden Subaru due to her weak condition. However, Subaru had given her a reassuring smile of his own, crouch walking out of the cover of the metal hull as he extended a helping hand towards her, rifle slung across his other shoulder. She had humbly accepted as she crawled out of the collapsed structure herself, Subaru pulling her up as the hospital gown had crumpled up from the motion. Dusting themselves off, Rem had attached herself to Subaru’s arm as he had slightly shifted in galvanization from the sudden action.

“Geez, I was going to say that you could hold onto me if you felt like passing out, but it looks like you already went ahead and did it yourself.” Subaru had remarked, as Rem had clutched onto his arm snugly with blatant satisfaction on her face. He had felt the sensation of her breasts rubbing against his tracksuit as a beet red hue had washed over his face. ‘Oh my god, her breasts are rubbing against me and here I am standing here like an idiot enjoying every second of it.

As if on cue, a projectile had crashed nearby as Subaru had flinched at what could have likely been his death. The projectile had shredded apart chunks of pavement as fragments had been sent flying everywhere in the nearby vicinity. His heart had quickened as his fight or flight instincts had screamed at him to do only one thing, run away. With his instincts kicked into overdrive and his fears rising, he had briskly made his way towards the alley with Rem lethargically running along side him. Rem had suggested that they move about strategically with a low profile, utilizing the area’s cover in order to minimize the chances of getting hit by a stray spell or projectile. It was made apparent to Subaru that his father routine training that served a good purpose in getting them out of the sticky situation that they were in. Eventually reaching the deep end of the alley, and determining that they were out of harm’s way from the daunting battle which had still resonated through the alley despite being shrouded by the dense infrastructure around them. With a jaded and ragged breath, Subaru’s back had slouched and scaled down the wall sprawled out as he tried to recollect himself. Rem had simultaneously also tried to recuperate by leaning against a wall but her legs had eventually collapsed as well as she fell to the ground in a femininely modest sitting position.

“Look like we’re in the clear for now, but I don’t think we should stick around for too long.” Subaru had concluded, Rem had nodded along in agreement. Subaru had eventually brought out the map that the dryad had given to them and cursorily scanned the map, eventually finding the destination that dryad wanted the duo to met her at. ‘It’s good that we made it through this alley, because the place is conveniently located around the corner of this alley. But we still can’t keep our guard down.’ A shrill whistling type of sound had emitted through the alley as explosion after explosion had drowned out his thoughts. Subaru had instinctively ducked as one of the explosions resonated near their location. Rem on the other hand had put up a meditative pose once again in order to summoned her gate that she had failed to conjured during the hostage situation. However, much to her vexation, was unable to manifest it.

“Sounds like a war is going on over there. I wouldn’t doubt if they somehow turned out to be bosses in a Final Fate expansion.” Subaru had arbitrary noted, thinking back to the time he spent pent up in his room playing games all day before he was transported to Lugnica. Although he did not notice that Rem was trying to access her gate, but to no avail. “Although quite frankly, they were nothing but washed up fantasies I had indulged in to escape the shackles of my own self image.”

Rem was pulled out of her trance as she had cocked her head in slight confusion at the monologue Subaru was having to himself. Deciding to leave the issue aside, she had pulled herself up. Seemingly bemused at how adorable the love of her life’s habits and expression were to her. She had cupped his face within her hands as she had given him a quick peck on the cheeks. Subaru had flinched at the sudden development, a blush crawling on his face as she had pulled herself away from him in a teasing fashion.

“What in the world...” Subaru had tried to process what had happened, but his mind had reached a blank. “You kissed me...”

“I know it isn’t the best time to be doing this Subaru-kun but I just couldn’t resist. Forgive me...” Rem had giggled to herself, however deep down, she knew that his heart had been set on her Emilia and that she was being selfish. However, Subaru’s face had gazed at her earnestly despite the shocking development. He had felt that there was a need to address his feelings honestly towards her.

“Rem, do you truly want to know how I feel about you?” Subaru had initiated, Rem on the other hand had flinched at the sudden confession. However her heart had wavered woefully at the notion that she was going to rejected once again.

“It’s fine Subaru-kun, I know your heart belongs to Emilia-sama...” Rem had interjected, wanted to put the subject to rest. However, Subaru had decided to carry through with it anyways.

“No, it’s better to just get it out of the way for my grieving heart.” Subaru had stated, slight hesitation in his voice at the fact that his compromised heart wanted to contain those selfish and scandalous feelings of his. “I know I will sound like a selfish disloyal bastard for saying this but here goes nothing. Rem, while I do love Emilia at the top of my heart, I also happen to love you as well.”

“… Do you sincerely mean that?” Rem had responded, flinching at the fact that the love of her life had harbored similar feelings towards her. Yet she noted the disgusted look upon his face as he had while confessing his feelings towards her. He had boldly decided to continue this conversation with her with a firm look.

“I do, despite my hesitation… When I had first met Emilia, it was love at first sight for me and it still is. From the way her hair had swayed in both the sunlight and moonlight, to her flawless and beautiful appearance, and her naive, yet mature personality. All of them had combined into the ideal girl I had always dreamed of. She had even given me a motive and a place to stay, and unparalleled emotional comfort. However, despite how much we got along and hung out, there was always a gap between us. Like the times when she had treated me as if she were my older sister doting over a younger brother, instead of a man. That is you had completely differed from her.” Subaru had revealed, as his wavering heart had etched at the frustration he had felt within. “From the moment my eyes had fell upon the two of you, especially when you were wearing those maid outfits, I thought that I was trouble in paradise. Both you and your twin sister had the beauty that rivaled Emilia’s own in your own regard. However, your twin sister had always treated me like nothing more than a rag to be disposed of. Yet you were the opposite and had always come along to fill that void and treated me with respect and later affection.”

“… If you love Emilia-sama that much, then what had driven you to associate with the likes of me other than outwardly appearances? I was initially distant and cold to you when I had first met you, simply because I had the nature of putting a wall around people I didn’t associate with.” Rem had sputtered out, humbly solace that she had at least a place within Subaru’s heart.

“… When I had first started adapting to this world, all three of you and a couple of other individuals had been taught me everything there was about the world. Ranging from the geopolitical climate, the geography, the languages, and the culture. It had been frankly an interesting experience to say the least. I had used that time to educate myself with your culture in order to associate with Emilia better at the time, and honestly I had used the butler job as a cover to interact with the three of you. As time went on, I had gotten to know you guys better than the back of my hand. However, a certain spiral of events had unfolded, and sent everything tumbling down a slippery slope of hell and high water. There was even a time I had completely given up on trying to make things right, but you were the one that had pulled me out from that sinking ship in my most despairing hour. Even during my most desperate struggles, you had always been there for me and told me to never give up. That is when I finally truthfully realized that I loved you the two as much as I did Emilia. However, my parents grown up had raised me on the notion of getting to together with the person I truly hold dear to my heart. And frankly, I’m stuck in the middle of a tough decision at the moment in trying to realize which of you I truly love...” Subaru had reaffirmed, yet that lingering feeling of disdain at confessing how he truly felt had superseded his normally elated demeanor, he had felt humiliated. Rem had tried contemplating a compelling reason to fill the holes within his grated heart. “So I think I need more time to think over it some more.” Subaru had added, causing his heart to swell at the fact that he had left his feelings off on a sour note.

“Subaru-kun… I thin-” However, just before Rem had started to compose an ameliorate suggestion that would most likely leave her heartbroken. The duo had been silently ambushed and neutralized by well-placed tranquilizer dart shots from an overhead and covert location, causing them to instantly pass out before they could even react. Multiple tactically clad figures had started to descend upon the helpless pair. With turbulent wind jet-streams resembling wings protruding from their backs, causing nearby debris and street signs to billow in their wake. The paramilitary Vanguard Unit had moved forward cautiously, dissipating their wings as they had moved with precision and tact, guns drawn. The leader had motioned over one of the riflemen to disarm the gun Subaru has hoisting on his shoulder, seemingly statically laying about to the side of Subaru’s arm. Cautious about the possibility of causing the gun to accidentally discharge, the gunman had set the safety on. He had then simultaneously cut the strap with a pair of shears before kicking it out of arm’s reach, as another had went to confiscate it. Determining that all threats had been neutralized within the area, they had proceeded to try to apprehend their V.I.Ps. Unbeknownst to them, the pair had been directly taken into the dryad’s care as a protective rune had been set into fruition.

The gunmen had been taken by surprise as multiple vine and moss like components had weaved to a humanoid type of anatomical structure with a jaded mouth viciously gnawing at something rather gratuitously, while simultaneously oozing acidic substance down its mouth. Thorns had spanned across all parts of its frame, serving as a form of defense. The center abdomen was encapsulated in a gelatinous etiolated substances that served as the nucleus of the lifeform, homogeneous luminescent cell like structures visibly residing within it. Its long, vine tendrils had swept the ground to act as its footing, producing snappy sounds as it quaked under its weight.

The abhorrent life-form had lurched towards the wary and stiff gunmen, one of them producing an incendiary grenade as an impediment to see if it ignites it, as it landed into a fiery combustion of reactive phosphorus. However, much to their alarm, the lifeform had only intensified its advance towards them as it launched itself erratically at the nape of one of the gunmen at incredible speeds from seemingly absorbing the flaming content. It had swept down in a hacking motion, striking against the headpiece around the gunman’s neck, shattering it. The gunmen had slumped down lifelessly, as blood had poured from the lesion of his swaying neck. Shaken up from the sudden horror of watching a fellow ally slaughtered, the gunmen had manifested their wings to try to escape the monster while simultaneously shooting at it with their silenced weapons. It had been in vain, as the nearby vegetation had acted as an anchor to restrain them, giving the lifeform the opportunity to quickly dispose of them. Their struggles had only intensified as dangling laced vines had attached themselves to their anatomical frames, pitching out grunts of pain in the process as it splintered their skin from the lacerating vines.

“Finish them off all at once, [Sharthegon].” A familiar feminine voice had hollered out, as the plant-based life-form had rumbled in acknowledgment, shape-shifted its arms into rotary blades-like forms before launching them all at the targets, brutally hacking them to pieces simultaneously before they could even elicit a scream, though the terror in their eyes had been but a moment’s allegory. The female had shook her head at the display of cruelty, she had typically disliked getting her hands dirty when it came to those that have not awaken their [Corpus of Sorcery], however the history this rag-tag group of mercenaries have had in the past had reaffirmed her decision to enact it. Setting her thoughts to the side, she had peered towards her clients who had caused her even more trouble than what was worth. “As I expected, they had turned tail at the slightest hint of danger to prioritize survival. Such is the way of life...” The female had winded out, before turning towards her creation, as she had gestured towards her clients.

“[Sharthegon], send these two to my Sanctuary immediately. They may use my bed chamber as a guest room. Treat them them with upmost due courtesy as well in your more presentable form.” The female had ordered, as the lifeform had rumbled once again in acknowledgment, before weaving together a coach-like wooden-based structure behind its back to place the two within. It had set off using the cladded moss on the buildings to scale up them before disappearing out of sight. With a satisfied smile crawling on her face, she had glanced at one of the local analog clocks within the vicinity indicating that it was almost time. “I guess it’s time to tie up all the loose ends now… I don’t know if I can handle it.”

~ Line Break ~

The behemoth had slowly waded towards the warehouse that he had ordered his men to plant a trap within, with his amputated arm in hand and a scowl dawned on his face. A dust explosion, with the right materials floating within the air in a contained environment, the allotment of friction, and a proper oxygen output, had allowed the versatility to destroy and incinerate almost anything within its range. Sure, there were nuclear warheads and other high explosive yield weapons, but those were not at his disposal nor were they acquirable through conventional methods. Stand unfaltering, despite the stigma that he could not finish that witch with his own to hands, he had proceeded to make his way into the desolated compound with a little more than enough mana to cast one more spell. The talisman had sucked him dry of most of his mana reserve. It would take days to recover from the heated battle that had left him physically scarred for life, yet it had served its purpose. His mortal enemy, since the days he had left the Mage’s Association that had ruined and haunted his life, has now been vanquished with his own two hands. His eyes had wandered over to had been set on an inert and incinerated figure lying about on the scorched and cracked concrete foundation. Though the flames had smothered the surrounding entire area during the fallout, there was still something daunting about his surroundings.

“She was too easy to defeat…” The behemoth had blurted out, running his bowie knife across the charred desecrated corpse of the female who had both given to and taken everything he’s ever known from him. Clumps of dried blood had dripped from the cavity of the wound, which should have not have inhabited the vital essence of someone of her race. That unsettling feeling that something was wrong had crawled up his throat, as he gazed upon rather peculiar sight underneath the corpse, a runic inscription that read ‘paenitentiam agant. (repent)’ A feeling of alarm had consumed him, as he frantically pivoted his head towards the corpse of the dryad, who had melted into an ominous coagulum of black residue. Then a sudden jabbing pain had racked his body as he doubled over, letting out a wail of sheer agony as he clasped his head from sensory overload had started to take precedent.

“It seems that my timing was correct. After finishing off my [Avatar Incandescence], you would go out of your way to confirm their death just to make sure they stay down. A good judge of character for someone of your profession, I shall commend myself. But I’m afraid your journey ends here.” A rather euphoric and all too familiar voice had rung in his ears, as the behemoth had gruelingly had turned his head towards the figure in question. A sly grin had crept up her face, as she had manifested a totem from under her robe. The man had glared the article rather scathingly, eye twitching as the rest of his being had started to produce convulsions do to an unknown factor. He had drawn out his pistol with a war cry, hoping to gun her down despite the overwhelming pain but was immediately ruptured out of his hands by a rather surreptitious wind spell. The dryad in question, had shook her head at the display of enmity and futile resistance. She had regulated her mana pool throughout her body as her aura had begun to glow intensely amidst the smoke billowing through the landscape. However, her mind had lingered towards insignificant evaluation.

It’s quite the shame really, he had the power (most likely enhanced by an elixir) to take on one of our esteemed wizards but not the wit or patience of one. If only he had adhered the simple rules of magic to magic engagements, such as not using immense mana draining techniques all in one go. Nor underestimating your opponent’s capabilities. Then the battle would have probably swayed in his favor. But since he was consumed by desperation and hatred, his rational thinking had all but been lost within the chasm of his mind. Had he learned nothing from all my lectures about the fundamentals of strategic planning?’ The dryad had mentally chastised her foes battle prowess, noting the constant amateurish slip ups he had displayed through the insight of her [Avatar]. With a cursory cough, she had shifted her concerns towards the main topic at hand.

“Since the local authorities with be converging on this area at any moment, I will keep this brief. Does this at all look familiar to you? It was found during the skirmishes outside Glodjane. When you were aiding the Kosovo Liberation Army to repel the Serbian forces that were closing in, you had dropped it when the you and your fellow collaborators had started rounding up civilians to use as hostages. In spite of that, you had failed to stand your ground due to the sheer incompetence of the resistance forces and the fact that your magic was only adept at the time. I can only assume that the Serbian forces had started to overwhelm you, causing you and a couple of other defectors to flee from the battle and regroup. I also want to know where you acquired that talisman during your battle with my [Avatar].” The girl had interrogated with curt pauses, coursing a mana circuit through the totem, causing it to flare up into an array of runes intricately circling above the totem. The man had remained tight-lipped, despite the intensifying agony that was coursing through his being. Nightshade-esque veins had started to bulge out and swell the thick skin harboring the beast. The dryad had sighed at the defiant nature of her captive, signaling that she have to use a different approach. She had started chanting a spell in a maundering voice, as bulbous formations had starting forming around the jugular. The behemoth had hurled a barreling fist towards the dryad as a last resort, but was immediately parried and cut down by the wooden like claws that lapsed her hands. The next thing that the brute had felt was complete numbness and the inability to move. “I was hoping that you would cave in and give me what I want, but since you have decided to remain steadfast. I will bestow upon you a rather obscene death fitting for someone with your past.” She had started coursing through a [Vitality] through his being, as the behemoth single arm had twitched lividly, yet dubiously pondered why she was using a [Healing Spell]. As well as another unknown spell within the other palm of her hand.

“Have you ever heard of the Cordyceps fungi? There over 400 types of species of them in the natural world, and are rather infamous for infecting ant colonies by taking over a single parasitic ant’s nervous system. ultimately leads them to die above a colony to unleash its spores upon the rest of the healthy ant population. Though if noticed by the other worker ants, they are immediately cast out. They also happen to inhabit other species of insects as well, and ultimately destroys them from the inside out.” The dryad had articulated rather simplistically after a long pause, as the mercenary had quirked an eyebrow at the concept, though irate. “Though they are relatively harmless to the human species, there are types that constantly evolve into different strands of Cordyceps through mutations present within the arthropod kingdom. So I ask you this, what if we take that concept and alter the DNA so that it infests humans? Its mind altering traits have been proven to be quite useful for not only altering a person’s consciousness, but it’s ability to wire itself along with the rest of the brain as it reproduces rapidly to form fungal walls. We could effectively copy over a person’s consciousness with this strand of fungi.”

“...” The militant had remained silent through the paralysis and migraine waves bombarding him, despite the trepidation that stirred within him when she had revealed the ominous concept. It was true, he was guilty of a lot of heinous crimes during his campaigns across Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East, including human trafficking, sexual enslavement, pillaging, genocide, and all the other myriad of war crimes he had kept under a lulled guise. In spite of that, there was still a plethora of unanswered question that he had for the dryad, who had continued to circulate her spells through his being. But a defeat was a defeat, despite the ruse to survive. He had then started to feel his face twitch erratically, simultaneously causing his consciousness to fade in an out. A lump felt bile starting had crawled up his throat as something had started wearing away at his lungs and intestines.

“Those [Spore Bombs] my [Avatar] had cast weren’t without reason. Even if she were to fail her task, your vying desire in causing misery to others would have brought you inevitable peril anyways. You see, those spores had packed a delicately modified variant of Cordyceps that could be absorbed through open pores within your skin and your respiratory system. Due to your extra precautions as any paramilitary organization would take, I had added a slight variable to counter the gas mask you had donned during your battle to allow the Cordyceps to be absorbed directly through the skin with a filament of mana infused in them. Though your winds had proven to be quite the debilitating trial, I had secretly had also compensated for that by having you pass through various obstacles and traps that aerodynamics would not be able to counter. As such, they were strategically thrown upon those objects in question, walls, scaffolds, barriers… One mishap lead to another and you ultimately found yourself laced by my plans.” She had explained, given him a pretentious wry grin as she had culminated the right amount of [Vitality] for the deadly sequence to initiate. Subsequently, he had felt his consciousness being dragged down in a void of darkness as he had slowly felt himself starting to die. He had felt his head starting to bloat and burn, as if something was on the brink of bursting from his skull. Every fiber of his being had throbbed as it had given out by the agonizing sensation of being eaten alive inside out, yet a relative sensual feeling of tranquility had accompanied it. He couldn’t feel his slowing heart beating violently against his chest, trying to transfer oxygen to the vital organs that were being deprived by the fungal parasites exponentially multiplying. Instead, his body had paled and his breath had started to become ragged as a cold sweat had ran down his face.

So this is what it feels like to be at death’s doorstep… It’s a rather subtle feeling of peace that completely washes over you.’ The disfigured and capitulated behemoth had mused to himself in a nebulous state of mind, as he slowly started to lose cognitive functions by the moment’s notice. A sudden flash of rather veiled but discreet feminine hands had reached out out from a mist of nihility had consumed his mind as felt a sense of safety within them. ‘You were in my thoughts all this time...’ The behemoth had reached out into the void to join them but nothing came into realization. The dryad had noted the all too familiar delirious state that she had witnessed on countless people at the verge of death before. A sole tear had strode down her face the display, as she had cursed herself for letting her emotions get the better of her. It was only a matter of time before the compounded Conidia would completely take over his brain that had been altered to record his memory fragments for further analysis. With [Vitality] and [Enhanced Propagation], the process had sped up exponentially, all that was left was to collect the sample.

“…Ian...” The behemoth had painfully whispered through abated breaths, a coppery taste within the walls his throat. The paralysis had been further spreading, now reaching the past the neck region as the dryad had watched on with a sour taste in her mouth. ‘So in his last futile struggles he had let out my pseudonym as if I were his saving grace. The sheer irony in that is palpable...

“There’s no point in struggling any further.” Ian had hurled before pausing, a pained expression had formed on her face at her actions. “Tell me who had contracted you, and I will be bestow you the mercy that my Goddess bestows upon all her followers. Or I will have the blight consume your already terminal state.” She had spoke predominantly, but the brute had remained unfaltered. As if on cue, she had heard shuffling footsteps making their way towards her location through her advanced hearing. In one last struggle, the behemoth had engraved a [Mana Resonance] through the palm of his hands onto the scorched concrete before succumbing to his dire state. Multiple fungal protrusions had started to burst from his bloated wounds. Simultaneously, his ears, nose, and mouth had started to deform into a bloodstained fungal colony of their own leaving the deformed abomination of a what was once a human in its wake. Ian had grimaced at the gory and grotesque display, covering her nostrils from the overwhelming smell of bodily waste emanating from his being. After confirming his death, she had postulated herself in a pious manner to honor the contract bestowed upon her by the Goddess Qenja that required her followers to pray to the dead, whether they were good or evil. Her remorseful gaze had set upon the fungal samples emitting mana particles, which were drawing their essence into a [Syphonic Translation] attribute. Carefully, she had soaked up the volatile particles and coursed them into her [Memory Recollection] essence before transferring the spell into an empty vassal which would be used to store the memories in. Then she had inspected the [Mana Resonance] emblem on the charred ground, only to find out to her shock as to who had been the puppet master behind all the events that she had campaigned against all this time. A scowl had formed on her face. ‘So it was you…!

“May the guiding light of Qenja show you the path to reconciliation in your next life.” Ian had eventually recited, unsatisfied and rather livid. To the point where she had failed to notice the dead man’s trigger within his rib-cage that was about to detonate. The behemoth, despite the reluctance of an underground surgical practitioner, had selfishly request for a bomb to inserted within him during his paramilitary career rising through the ranks. He had wanted to ensure that if anyone were to overwhelm his power at one point, that they would be dragged into hell along with him in a do or die effort. However, it was futile against the overwhelm power that Ian had possessed as the blast had triggered a fragmentation charge that scattered projectiles ubiquitously through the warehouse, damaging everything within the vicinity but Ian who had been caught from the sudden explosion. Though her [Water Ward] had completely repelled the spell. Even though she had kept a firm composure at the dastardly action from the outside, her stomach had churned at the brash display of self-sacrifice that disintegrated the figure. A single droplet of blood had perched on her cheek as she had wiped it off her face instinctively. ‘Even in death, his drive to kill me is unparalleled. I have severely underestimated his wrathful resolve. Despite that, its seems that plans will have drastically change now that we’re have been caught in the face-first in this web of lies.

With one last courteous bow, she had turned on her heel and made her way to the other end of the warehouse as an onslaught of JGSDF and emergency responders had converged into the vicinity. A direct confrontation would have not been ideal for her, so she was left with no choice but to use [Lilac Burst] to retreat. Though she had been extra cautious about leaving evidence of the confrontation to the authorities. During the flow of events while the Avatar had dealt with the behemoth, she had made sure to reduce her enemies to ashes with an adept spell in [Fire Magic] while simultaneously having her conjured spirit search and destroy anything that resembled cameras within the vicinity. It was rather an inhumane method but the Mage’s Association can not risk anyone from the surface knowing about their whereabouts on Earth. Ian had sighed at the prospect of her inevitable debriefing that she was going to have to give in front of the council. But more importantly, she would have to repent for her actions and decisions that lead to her staining her hands with the blood of the only sole survivor of her first and last party of initiates she would ever agree to inducting, as memories had continued to haunt her. Yet the road to redemption would be a treacherous one, as she knew that one day she would find eventually find a compromise for all her past transgressions that will likely come at major price.

“This is goodbye, Zoraf...” With a casual wave and a glow of a summoned portal, she had disappeared from the hellish landscape she had molded into existence. A fitting and rather ironic grave for a misguided preliator anchored down by the worst humanity had to offer. Still, this was only an obstacle that Ian would have to reflect on for future endeavors.

~ Line Break ~

An array of godrays had shone brilliantly through a vegetative lined square-headed window fixture, into a galore of wood-based sculptures and floral décor that complimented the almost arboreous aesthetic of an unknown bed chamber. The light had glossed over the eyes of Subaru Natsuki, causing him to stir from his unforeseen slumber.

“Urghh, my head hurts…” He had added objectively, sounding out the world around him. However, in the midst of his lethargic state, he had realized something crucial. They had been attacked by an unknown enemy and saved by an unknown girl as well. “Wait a minute, this isn’t the time to moping around! Rem… Where is she?” He had cried out, jolting up from his bed panicking while simultaneously grazing his hand against a lock of hair. Turning his head towards the object in question, he had found the familiar female in question, peacefully sleeping next to him, albeit a little pale. Although she had still worn the tattered hospital gown that was forced upon her. A wave of relief had overcome him as he had glanced around at his surroundings. “Is this a bedroom? Looks a little too vibrant if you ask me.”

With a sigh, he had carefully pulled himself off the cushy bed made from a rather silk fabric weaved together in intricate patterns, making sure to not wake Rem up. He had made his way over to the window, peering out of it. But to his shock, the scenery was not what he expected. Instead of the unremarkable architectural eyesore that had dominated the culture of modern day Japan, in particular Akihabara. He had been graced by a mystifying and expansive beauty of what a fantasy forest should have looked like. While the living space was accommodated within a sacred grove that harbored tantalizing sets of hot-springs, the beautiful scenery outside of the perimeter of the dwelling had blown Subaru away. An abundance of birch, maple, and oak trees had encompassed nearly every direction within view, each harboring their own fantasy aesthetic and attributes to compliment the environmental aesthetic. Glancing down, he had indeed noted that the dwelling that there were in was situated inside a tree. Streams of crystal clear water reminiscence to the environment in Lugnica had cleaved into a gulley on a further offset near a ridge. Through the openings dotting within the foliage had grown a hodgepodge of various types of shrubbery, flowers, fungi, climbing plants/vines, and a plethora of other flora that dotted the mostly deciduous landscape. Each of them had supplied their own synchronized role throughout the thicket of the forest. However, that was only the tip of the iceberg. Across the expansive horizon stood tall a rooted tree, branching off an array of colorful and luscious leaves that could be seen from a distance. A spiral column of seemingly magical energy had revolved around it, seeming harnessing the powers from the earth and its surroundings to create a barrier of some sorts. Adding its own harmonious glamour to the scenic canvas that had graced Subaru’s eyes.

It was made apparent that Subaru had been completely engrossed by the scenery that he had failed to notice a knock on the wooden door on the other side of the bed. A rather humble and older gentlemen donning a dandy white tailcoat, tie, dress shirt and dress pants had entered the bedchamber. He had given Subaru a curt bow of chivalrous admission, despite Subaru’s astonished gaze, as he had briskly gravitated towards Subaru, handing him a note directly from a salver without a word. Subaru had mused at the gesture despite not knowing the circumstances that had lead to this situation, but then ultimately accepted it. Taking out of the envelope, he had unfolded the missive only to be met with beautiful calligraphic writing on par with Emilia’s own penmanship.

To my concerned guests Welcome to my humble abode that is my Sanctuary. While my introduction may have not been started off on the best of terms due to the precarious circumstances surrounding it. I would like to officially establish a means of succoring your rather abrupt evocation to this alternate world. I know that both of you and your partner have many questions as to how this came to be, and I would be more than willing to answer them for you. But to keep things simplistic, both you and your partner have been summoned to this world as fabled champions of our Goddess Qenja to undergo an arduous trial that will change the world forever. Though the nature of your summoning might have been been stark, and rather expedient, the Goddess is known to reward her champions rather handsomely, as integrity. My clients are currently still investigating the circumstances revolving around it as you rest but will make all efforts to assist you in your destiny. But until there is clarity on the situation, you are more than welcome to accommodate yourselves to my dwelling for remaining time. However, once you of you are open to dialogue, then please visit my study room to future discuss the details of your circumstances. My butler Vidrik in the mean time, will tend to your every whim and will let you know when talks become inevitable. Do be warned to not inquire about any further than his professional background as he is rather sensitive about his past. ~ Sincerely, Ianeira ~”

Subaru’s eyebrow had furrowed at the message the missive had conveyed. Not pleased that both Rem and him had been summoned into this world under the selfish caprice of an unknown deity. Though he had originally harbored the ambition of being a hero that would save the world from an evil overlord when he had first been summoned into Lugnica. That had all but nullified very quickly as reality had dragged him through the ground in his desperate struggle to set things right, as the aspect of being a hero had all been but a pipe dream. Despite eventually overcoming all odds and his fierce commitment in saving those around him. His optimistic outlook of the world had all but been void from his current ire aberration that compromised his mind. Instead it had been replaced by wariness and fear of the shadows and missteps that lurked every corner physically and psychologically. As a result, his morale had plummeted exponentially despite the enthusiastic charade he had donned as a mask. It had especially angered him as he had come to the realization that his time in Lugnica had been touted as a source for entertainment to the masses to consume. But the cherry on top was that he had not only been dragged into one dimension to suffer, but now someone here had wanted to utilize him for their own selfish desires in place of them, and a possible deity at that. The mere thought of it had bothered Subaru to no end. Especially considering the fact that he had never been devout except to Emilia’s cause.

A soft whimper had emanated from the bed as Subaru had turned towards the source in question, indicating that Rem had also woken up, albeit in a daze like Subaru had originally had. He had breathed out a sigh of content as had made his way over to her. She had glanced around at her surroundings groggily, confusion displayed on her face. But then, a relieved expression had crossed on her face subsequently as the face of Subaru had absorbed her thoughts. Subaru giving in, had embraced her in a tight hug. The cuddle had spoke the language of a thousand words about how grateful Rem was that Subaru had managed to make it out safe and sound as she had sobbed lightly into his arms. Rem had eventually composed herself as she had decided to inquire about their current circumstances.

“I’m so glad that Subaru-kun is safe and sound in spite of all that happened. The question is… Did that girl who saved us when we were abducted, bring us here?” Rem had inquired curiously, noting the significant change in their surroundings. Concluding that this had been indeed a private quarters for someone with a well-endowed background. Subaru had shrugged his shoulders at first, but then inconclusively nodded; as a myriad of thoughts had crossed her mind on whether or not the girl in question had some sort of ulterior motive for doing what she did and knew why there were here. However, Rem’s tentative gaze had set upon the butler standing in a servile manner next to a rack with clothing articles on it. The butler had noticed the girl’s scrutinizing glare, replying in a curt bow of his own as a humble grin had crawled on his face.

“You’re not human, are you? I had picked up on a similar scent upon your mistress as well.” Rem had inquired abrasively, as a subtle fragrant oak-like scent had enveloped her nose, and not the perfume type. The butler had nodded in confirmation, as amusement had formed on his face at the question. Subaru’s head had scudded at the rather tense dialogue between the two of them in disarray.

“As expected of an ogre, your species have quite the potent nose.” The butler had replied meekly, but with a hint of condescension. Subsequently, he had abstained from his brief conceited behavior with a defeated sigh as he had moved towards the bedroom closet encapsulated by vines that moved independently as if were an automatic door. Subaru had stared in awe at the conceptual mechanism as the butler posed himself in front of an assortment of clothing articles that filled the confined space. The butler had assumed that his female client would not want to don her tattered garb for too long and would want to look presentable. “In spite of our differences, I am under the order of my mistress to serve the both of you. As luck would have it, she had allowed this little lady access to her personal wardrobe for the time being. As an extent of my services, I can help her get dressed in any of the assortments of her choice.”

“Wait wait wait! This is all too sudden! We’re just barely trying to wrap our heads around the events that had happened throughout our day.” Subaru had interjected, posing in front of Rem while simultaneously waving his hands erratically. “Besides, despite how she looks, she’s the best maid the world has to offer. I think she would probably want her own privacy when it comes to meager things like these.” Subaru had added, giving Rem a wink of consolation. He didn’t want this complete stranger doing inexplicable things to the maid against her will. The butler on the other hand, had mused at the implication, before humbly accepting their request as he had made his way towards the door.

“Then I can say that this will sow the seeds of a rather fruitful relationship, if I dare say so myself. Though I can also assume that the two of you would like to have some privacy to yourselves for the time being?” Subaru had nodded at the request, as the butler had given them a curt bow once again but not before handing them two sets of what appeared to be smartphones to the his clients along with a guidebook on the devices. Subaru had goggled at the courteous gifts the establishment had given them, though they probably came with strings attached. Rem however, stared at the devices bewilderingly, clueless to the nature of how they functioned “Please use these devices to call for my services again once you so request it. You can use it to your hearts content in the mean time to explore our world’s medium, and other curiosities to sate your thirst for knowledge. But please, feel free to ask me any question of your choosing. Though I do not know whether or not the reliability of my answers would satisfy you.” The butler had announced informatively, as he started to file through the door. Though Subaru had listened in absentmindedly because of his attention being drawn towards the cellphones. However he had cried out as his opportunity to ask where the duo were was seemingly slipping away. Meanwhile Rem had kept an analytical gaze set upon the various semantic paraphernalia embellishing the chamber.

“Wait, I do I have one question for you. Where exactly are we? This place doesn’t exactly look like the congested streets of Japan I’m used to from where I’m from. And the whole aesthetic around here seems…Druidic? I’m not to sure how to describe it.” Subaru had added, rather lackingly as the butler had beamed at the inquiry, pausing at the door.

“Ah, the most astute question of all.” The butler had paused before turning to face them with a chivalrous gesture to accompany it. “Right now, you are harboring inside corporeal realm of my master’s boundless imagination. It is officially titled, the Sanctuary of Ianeira, if the name gives it away. Nothing from the ‘real world’ can enter this realm without directly controlling my master’s systematically complex mind, who’s [Psychic Resistance] is nearly impenetrable. I can say for certainly that your stay here will be safeguarded by the natural elements around you, that’s all I can reveal.” The butler had explained, as Subaru had pondered about extensive capabilities that magic had directly impacted on the world. Satisfied with that answer, he had given the butler a firm ‘Thank you’ who in turn had eventually filed out the door. Leaving just Rem and Subaru together in the room, as they contemplated what to do next.

“Rem, about what I had said earlier...” Subaru had initiated, but was cut off by Rem who had stared blankly at the sheet in front of her. She had clutched his arm firmly, indicating that she wanted to put off the subject for the time being. Subaru had been caught off guard by the sudden shift in her person as she had turned to face him.

“Subaru-kun, there is an issue I had been wanting to address. It’s about my gate…” She had added before briefly pausing as Subaru had started listening to intently to what her concern was. “When you had been taken hostage by those suspicious men back in what you called 'Akiharaba' or whatever the city name was. I had tried to manifest my gate to gain access to my arsenal of wind spells. However, when I started doing the chant, the gate had never manifested.”

“… Do you think it may be because we’re in a different world now? That the concept of gates no longer exist?” Subaru had added conclusively, as Rem had drawn a blank on that question. 'By the way, it's pronounced Akihabara.

“I don’t know. But whatever the reason may be, if I don’t have access to any Od, then my ‘demon’ powers will become incredibly unstable. It might ultimately make me lose control of myself and cause me to become a rampaging monster.” Rem had expressed rather gravely as Subaru had mulled over what to do next.

“Looks like we’ll have no choice but to confront this Ianeira about it then.” Subaru had muttered to himself but not before he decided to address another issue of his. “But I think it would be preferable right now if you take advantage of the clothes in that wardrobe rather than those tattered rags, don’t you think?” Subaru had added, causing Rem to glance down at the attire she had been forced to wear. Hesitantly she had nodded in agreement at the lack of propriety in her attire.

“... Give me 10 minutes.”