Claire frowned. It didn't look like the girl had any intention of backing down, and she doubted there was any way to realistically force her from ever logging back into this 'game' of hers without directly killing her current body.
"Alright," She sighed, "I won't say anything about that but, just for now, could you logout? I want to see what happens to your body once your control is gone."
Sora happily nodded at that.
"Of course, but you have to remove any intention of attacking me from your mind."
Claire nodded and did as the girl said. A moment later, Sora's eyes blanked and her head dropped.
Exactly two seconds after that, her head shot back up.
"—heeee!" Lara screamed immediately when she saw Claire staring at her. "P-please don't kill me!"
". . .?"
Claire looked at the frightened girl with disbelief. So this was the actual Lara De. Frag? She squinted her eyes. The girl's appearance no longer matched her personality at all. She seemed even more timid than the initial impression Claire had of Fiora.
"Relax, I have no wish to kill you," She said.
". . .r. . .really. . ?"
"Yes, really, I simply want some answers."
Lara's eyes danced as she gulped. "Huh. . .Miss, answers to what?"
"Miss? You don't need to call me that. . ."
"You don't need to apologize."
"Sorry. . ." The girl squealed out another answer.
Claire felt as if a migraine was coming. She wasn't exactly good with overly timid people. She wasn't exactly bad either, she supposed.
"Alright, take a moment to calm down, and when you're ready to speak, tell me."
"Y-yes. . .thank you."
And so, the area quieted. It wasn't until at least a minute had passed that the Lara actually began speaking. She took a deep breath, calming herself then nodded as if psyching herself up.
Claire perked up at that.
"Okay, Lara, I shall refer to you as such from now on and the other 'you' as Sora, do you understand?" She asked.
The girl nodded. "I do."
"Mhmm, alright, I've already surmised a couple things myself but," Claire continued, "First question. What happens when the other Lara, Sora, takes over your mind?"
"Humm. . ." Lara thought. "It feels like I'm submerged in water, a bit like now, with my mind floating nowhere. I, huh, I'm able to still experience the same thing she does though."
Claire raised a brow. "So you're suppressed but still able to remember what's going on around you while she controls your body?"
"Y-yes! That's it! Wow. . .you're good with words!"
Lara seemed amazed while Claire thought it was rather a simple matter to turn the mass of words into something much tamer to understand.
"Alright, then, this is my second and last question, how did this begin for you?"
"Is that your catchphrase?"
"Ah, no no no no, I'm sorry, sorry, I was. . .I. . ."
Lara blushed and glanced away.
"I'm not good with telling stories about myself. . ." She said, "I'll, I'll begin talking now. . ."
". . ."
At one point, Claire had thought she was an introvert, but she now thought, sitter before this girl, that maybe she was entirely wrong.
"I. . .I made a deal with a god," Lara began, "I'm looking for my brother but I'm not strong enough to—to adventure this world. . .so, I allowed myself to become a vessel for another's mind and, in return, they can help me."
Well, at least her story was fast.
"Who's the god?" Claire asked.
"I don't know," Lara replied, brows furrowed, "I—I'm not quite sure if it even was a god. It was more of a voice coming to me, and I. . .answered?"
Alright, so the girl knew very little herself.
Claire nodded and asked her next question.
Time passed swimmingly and the session came to an end.
As far as she learned, Lara, the actual owner of the body, was the only one of the two who held memories of all the events either one experienced. While Sora, the girl from another world, only remembered things that occurred when she was in control of the body.
In tandem with that, however, Lara also had the ability to issue missions that needed to be completed by Sora, in addition to those already set by the god-like being she thought she made a deal with.
In a way, Claire supposed, it was a symbiotic parasitic relationship.
Sora received her fantasy land which she could escape to and enjoy, and Lara received the help she badly needed as she was someone who was weak-willed enough to become dizzy at the mere sight of blood.
'One way or the other,' Claire thought, 'It sounds as if, at the very least, one additional god-like being is meddling in this game.'
She sighed and looked at the Edson before her.
The ocean floor rose on that spot and Lara found herself ejected with confusion.
"Let's go," Claire said.
As soon as they made their way back into the outside world, Claire spotted holes within mountains, large and small rocks upon land, and just simply an area that had been ravaged by a rather intense battle.
"Oh you're finally back, 'Ice Queen,'" A snarky voice called out to her, "I didn't know you could rip out the power of a hero?"
Claire turned, immediately recognizing that Via had seen the battle between her and the Dragon Slayer. If that was true, that also meant the entire world had done so as well.
"Well," She smiled, "Things happen."
"Claire!" A voice came from her front.
Claire hurriedly sidestepped the rushing figure of her partner.
"Why. . .?" Alicia looked as if she had been betrayed.
"You're far too bloody."
To her side, someone had already turned her gaze away, breath rushed to calm herself.
The vampire chuckled, frost-covered her before shattering away and drifting into the wind as bloodied snowflakes.
"Now, you may come."
The vampire readily hugged her. Before she knew it, Claire saw her sniffing at the base of her neck.
". . .just do it."
Alicia's expression elated and her fangs pierced into the nape of the Ice Queen's neck.
". . .?" Via looked to her left.
"He-hello. . ." Lara awkwardly waved, not exactly sure where she ought to be looking.
The bunny narrowed her eyes. "Who the hell are you and why are you almost naked?"
"Don't tell me you're the dragon slayer I saw a few minutes ago? You look damn weak just standing there right now. Is that how all heroes are who lose their powers?"
". . ." Lara felt as if she could cry.
Via scoffed and turned her head. "And you almost destroyed a village."
"I. . ." Lara quieted.
Ignoring the two's meeting, Claire looked at her partner.
"Now, what happened?"
In the midst of her blood-sucking, Alicia pointed at the battered landscape.
"I was seconds from winning, but he ran away," She said, almost furious at that thought.
Claire patted her golden hair. "I see. Did you have fun?"
Via, on the other hand, rolled her eyes as she watched the two. "A spatial portal opened up and sucked him in, but, I guess he at least apologized. . ."
A spatial portal? Claire raised a brow at that, reminded of the girl who had appeared closer to the end of volume 1.
"Bam Veronica, wielder of the Space Seed. . ." She muttered.
"Probably." Via said, "That or the Sword Saint."
"The Sword Saint?" Claire asked.
The bunny nodded. "His powers work on the attribute of space as well. His <Sever>, for one, doesn't cut through distance like some idiots think, but space. So it could be any one of the two."
"I see. . ."
A book appeared in Claire's grasp.
Lara jumped in place, eyes following it.
"Alice, here, hold this and wish to use it," Claire said.
"Hmm?" Alicia took the book.
Claire's obvious first thought was to hand the book over to Alicia but, remembering the voice, there wasn't even an option for that. She thought it might still work, however, maybe a hidden option to give it to the future Demon Lord? After all, this was still an isekai, and those kinds of loopholes tended to exist.
Yet, Alicia merely blinked her eyes at the thing and nothing of note happened.
"Well, that's that then."
Claire took it back and glanced at Via, much to the dangerously changing expressions of Lara, who looked as if she might die as she bit her lips. Claire almost wanted to roll her eyes, because she could already surmise what would happen.
"Via, if I could give you a 'power-up', putting you directly on the level of a hero, would you take it?" Claire asked.
"Huh?" The bunny turned to her. "Fuck no. I barely took the last one you gave me. I don't want power from others. I hardly even use Bell's."
The Ice Queen chuckled. "I thought as much."
"T-then. . .?" Lara asked.
"Count yourself lucky," She said, "For the devil I know is much less frightening than one I do not."
She couldn't allow the book to simply shatter and choose someone else. As Lara tilted her head, she continued.
"For now, I'll hold on to it as I watch you, for a week still remains. If I feel like it, I'll gift it to you. If I don't, I'll use it on myself."
"Gift? But. . .it was always mine. . ." Lara's voice quieted.
"And? It's now my loot," Claire replied, "So I'll be gifting it to you."
". . ." Lara felt as if something was wrong here.
The book disappeared from her hand and Claire looked at the group.
"In the meantime, it's really about time we finish our travel to Tress," She stated, "I'll first transport to Aclair and consider the quest completed while obtaining some clothes for this girl as well, however. Maybe a time skip will do so that author-san doesn't bore the readers further?"
"Huh?" Via blinked her eyes.
"Also, Alice, could you heal the remainder of this girl's wounds?" Claire pointed at Lara.