Chapter 42: Lowering Suspicions 101
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Zeruna awakes to a heavy feeling on her body that is restricting her breathing. Zeruna's eyes can see perfectly well in the near pitch-black environment surrounding her. Sprawled out on top of her is the enormous figure of Verille. The back of Arachne's head buried deep between the bosoms of the Dark Elf as if they're pillows.

Zeruna's face lights up beet-red as her brain begins to process the information that a relatively good-looking female is this close to her. Carefully, Zeruna lifts the heavy Arachne from her body. As soon as the weighty woman gets moved, Zeruna gasps for air as her unarmoured chest becomes unrestricted. While she was sleeping, someone must've removed her armour. All that was on her was her grey gambeson and purple battle skirt.

The Dark Elf glances about for a sleeping spot for the spider assassin; there are only two beds in their room. Phalanx doesn't require sleep and is the best at defence, so leaving him in Tina's and Vidir's bedroom where an argument could spark at any moment is probably the best decision — for Vidir's sake. Zeruna was too tired to account for Verille's sleeping spot.

Zeruna pulls back the curtains slightly, the sky is a dark blue, and there are still numerous stars dotting the sky. There is no sign of sunrise in any direction. Zeruna estimates that the time is approximately 4:00 AM.

"She won't be too happy about sleeping on the floor," grumbles a still tired Zeruna. "I'm certainly not sleeping on the floor. I think Aema wouldn't be very excited to sleep on the floor. Well, I see only one choice. Goddammit, this is going to be so awkward and embarrassing."

Zeruna lifts Aema's sleeping body from her bed and swaps it with Verille. The displaced Aema then floats next to Zeruna and comes to rest into the bed. Zeruna moves right up against the rough walls of the inn to accommodate the now snoring Aema. Regret fills Zeruna — she really should've rented bigger or more rooms. With amount coin they possess, getting better lodgings would be easy. However, after living a frugal life previously, the act of spending as little as possible has been chiselled into Zeruna's mind. Currently, that is the least most important thing in her head.

'I can't let the King brainwash the hero, he may say that I've become an ally, but there's no confirming it. It's times like these that I wish I had Time Sight; Omniscience Intuition is amazingly good. I'm happy I at least have that. He could turn Ryota against me. Although killing the King would be swift and easy, it wouldn't help my image. I have a "truce" with Adrin currently but may not stop him from trying to turn the hero against me. After all, I took his fingers and humiliated him. It is only natural he would want one form of revenge. Turning the hero against me and getting him to stab me in the back is the perfect way to do so.'

Zeruna closes her eyes and slowly drifts to sleep, contemplating what her next move will be. The next time Zeruna opens her eyes, there is Aema silently writing in a book of some sort. Then Zeruna notices something strange: her hair isn't down. Her hair is tied up into a ponytail and on her face is a pair of delicate circle glasses. Zeruna stays in the bedsheets and merely watches the author in action.

Aema has total tunnel vision, and the speed her hand is traversing the paper is impressively quick; oblivious to the Dark Elf studying her every move across the paper. She sits back in the wooden seat and sighs, rubbing her temple in frustration.

"What to write? What to write?" she grumbles to herself.

"You look very nice this morning," says Zeruna absentmindedly.

Aema looks over to the sudden voice and beams another beautiful and heartwarming smile, "Thank you.I've still got short-sightedness which is why my aim is so bad. I've been using magic to enhance my sight, but now I've decided to use good 'ol glasses. It reminds me of what I used to wear back on Earth. Does it bother you?"

"No, no, the appearance suites you, Amy," returns Zeruna. "Where is Verille?"

"She went out with Vidir, Phalanx and Tina for whatever reasons," after a few seconds of silence, Aema continues. "Last night, Verille... she attacked me."

"Of course she did," Zeruna growls, as she bites her fingernail and unintentionally releases a menacing aura. It retreats into her body as she bows her head to Aema. "Apologies, she's like that. I should've anticipated this behaviour from her. Knowing her, she most likely thinks you've mind-controlled me. Are you okay?"

Zeruna begins to move from her bedsheets to inspect Aema's neck. It's was one of many methods Verille would intimidate people, by pressing on their jugular with her sharp limbs. If she decided their time was up, she'd inject a toxic chemical into their body or crush their throat depending on how she felt. Either method was equally gruesome.

"I'm fine, I'm fine," Aema squeaks.

"No, I have to be sure," states Zeruna firmly as she leans closer.

Then Zeruna spots it. Verille had used one of her skills that allowed her to place a special seal. This skill had been used to place a seal directly onto Aema neck. If Tina, for example, were to cast an ice shard spell and Verille activates the skill; the attack would immediately plunge directly into Aema neck. 

"You can move away from my neck now," Aema says while poking Zeruna, face slightly red. "This looks and feels weird."

While Zeruna had been thinking, the vampiric side of her mind had been unconsciously drawing her towards Aema's neck. At this point, Zeruna is breathing into Aema's neck. A few more moments and Zeruna might've bitten Aema and sucked her blood. Multiple times during Aema's training, Zeruna had etched ever closer to Aema and her sweet-smelling blood. This is the closest yet.

Zeruna throws herself backwards from Aema, "Sorry, sorry, sorry."

"Yes peasant, prostrate yourself before I," Aema says regally with a playful smile.

"You should be taking this more seriously," returns Zeruna. "This the eighth instant when I've nearly bitten you."

"Maybe I should, but I'm just like this, it's not my fault," answers Aema. "I'm trying not to let this world pull me down, you know. Try to make a joke out of everything. Healthy mind, healthy body."

"That doesn't work."

"Wow, just burst my bubble you dirty pessimist," jokes Aema. 

"I don't have to help you, you know."

"Well, if you want to have Ryota as the only otherworlder to speak to for eternity, then go ahead. I'll be waiting for you in heaven after you fling yourself from the biggest cliff in the world just so you can have a conversation with someone who won't stare at your boobs."

"Well put," Zeruna replies.

"Please speak to them though; I'm starting to get scared by Verille. But first, can you remove the spell or skill or whatever on my neck. That is what you were doing, right?"

"Can't remove them, only Verille can."

"Great, perfect, brilliant."

"Ay, don't worry, I've got this."

"Okay, best friend, you got this."

"Y-yep, trust in me!" 

"You okay?" Aema asks.

"Fine! Stop speaking, don't say anything!"

The Children of Chaos had been aimlessly moving around the city, conversing silently with the aid of a magic spell. The topic: Aema and Zeruna sleeping in the same bed. As soon as Verille woke and saw the sight of them wrapped around each other, she left the room and joining the other three and told them of the news.

"I'm getting weird vibes from this 'Aema'. The very moment I laid eyes on that High Human, I felt something was off with her," mutters Verille. "Yet, Zeruna is willing to sleep in the same bed as her. What sorcery is this? Mind control? Succubi in disguise? What is she?"

"That is indeed... strange. There might be a reason: you, an Arachne, are much heavier than a flimsy human girl. Perhaps she did it because of comfort?" Tina logically explains.

"Perhaps they're in a special relationship?" Vidir suggests. "They have known each other for a considerable amount of time."

"I'm not that heavy!" retorts Verille. "Besides, it doesn't explain why they were snuggling after the fact!"

"I thought you said they were merely in each other's embrace. Snuggling implies sexual contact. From the way you described: you fell asleep on Zeruna's chest meaning if anyone was snuggling, it was you!"

Vidir, upon recognising he's being ignored, grumbles and looks to Phalanx for assistance. The Homunculi looks back expressionlessly; they'd still be a blank and expressionless look if his helmet off. No eyes, no ears, no nose — only a stretched mouth with jagged rock-like teeth with a red tongue. Vidir had seen Homunculi before. They'd never cease to creep him out.

After an extended silence, he speaks, "Her statistics are... unseeable yet... she doesn't have perfect unknowable. But I sense no... hostility from her. Maybe... we should leave her be."

"For a shield of Zeruna, that is quite–"

"I dare you... to finish that... sentence, Verille," Phalanx growls as he stops walking, the air around him shuddering. His shadow begins to morph, a sharp protrusion appearing from it, still flat against the ground.

"Don't start fighting, idiots, you'll upset Zeruna," Tina says. "I am guilty of this, and you don't want to feel that feeling."

"Same," Vidir chimes in.

Upon hearing these words, the shadowy outcrop retreats and Phalanx stands down. The prospect of them causing their mistress any sort of displeasure instantly stopping their outwards hostility. But with these words spoken, they both turn to Vidir and Tina.

"You upset Zeruna?" asks Verille.

"Yeah, when me and Tina started fighting, she broke into tears."

"I've never seen such anguish on Zeruna's face before."

Before their conversation could continue, a voice rings in their minds. It just so happened to be Zeruna.

(Zeruna) [Greetings. I'm going to be doing something sensitive that involve the utmost care. For this reason, I need you to go to Tevin village. I trust Tina and Vidir can guide you.]

(Verille) [What? Why can't we stay?]

(Tina) [If Zeruna says we should depart, then we should go. Although, I don't see how I could do something entirely irrational and emotion-based like Verille.]

(Vidir) [Of course.]

(Tina) [You really have a deathwish, don't you? One day, your tongue will get you into a shit tonne of trouble.]

(Zeruna) [Again, what I'm going to do has a high level of sensitivity, I don't need you four messing it up or providing distractions or compromising the fact that I can bring back my subordinates. Sorry to rope you in with these, Phalanx but you are too. Vidir, you'll probably listen too. Tina, I'm sure you'd want to stick around and protect me, but you know if I needed your assistance, you'd come.]

(Phalanx) [My loyalty is unwavering, milady. Any orders you issue shall be followed without hesitation.]

(Vidir) [What he said, well, if you ask me to slay the Dragon God, I'll most likely hesitate.]

(Zeruna) [You'd likely run away screaming like a baby.]

(Vidir) [Never in my existence have I been offended by something so accurate.]

(Verille) [Zeruna, there's something about–]

(Zeruna) [Aema? No, she hasn't mind-controlled me. Yeah, I understand why you don't trust her, although your mistrust is mostly my own fault for withholding mine and her bizarre relationship. I've done so because it is a sensitive portion of my life, one that I desire to forget.

She, no matter how unlikely it may seem, is indeed a childhood friend of mine; however, it isn't as frilly as the phrase may seem. It starts with the death of my mother, a lowly concubine of a half-vampire, half-dark elf. Her death driving me from the village in a storm of tears and screams. I run into the forest, I fall, I roll and tumble into a stream in the thick foliage. There she was, playing with Koi fish. I don't know how she got this close to the village without being found and I probably never will. She took me to her little tree house and helped me recover.

This was the first time anyone excluding my mother treated me with genuine kindness and decency. Then she one day disappeared into thin air, this was just after Tina moved into the village. I was heartbroken, I failed to protect the one person who gave me the time of day. The one person who wouldn't scream and point at me for being descendant of a vampire. Even after I told her of my relation to Rhoam. It was like speaking to an angel. Nothing and no one else mattered anymore. I stopped feeling emotions after that.

Do you know why you're here? Because you're all just like her and you don't know it. You're just like her. The only people that evoke emotion within me, losing you means losing lifelines. Getting Aema back to me was just as precious as me resurrecting you all. I need your feelings in my life else I'll become an empty shell again.

It would devastate me to see you all brawl amongst each other, so please, please, try your best to establish friendly relationships. I trust all of you equally with my life; nothing else would bring me greater joy to see you cooperate. I wouldn't know what to do if you started fighting. My heart would shatter. I wouldn't know whose side to take.

Sorry if I didn't explain that well, but the point is my sanity depends on you.]

(Verille) [No, that was– sorry, adequate.]

(Vidir) [Is the Arachne crying?]

(Verille) [Don't try me, Dwarf! I'm perfectly fine.]

(Zeruna) [Can you do that for me? Get along?]

(Verille) [At first I thought she had manipulated you but as you tell me this, something seems resonates with me. I will try my best.]

(Tina) [I've already said that I've trusted Aema, yet I've been hesitant. I was blind: she is trying her best to assist us despite the coldness we've shown her.]

(Vidir) [Already was my sweet Zeruna.]

(Phalanx) [She has no malice, despite the mysterious vibes she silently emits, she is nothing but positivity.]

(Zeruna) [Thank you, I knew you all had it in you. Shit, now I don't know how to continue with the main reason I contacted you. Again, I need you to live in Tevin for a few days while I and Aema solve some pressing matters out. I know you all want to assist me; however, this is extremely sensitive and one misstep means unneeded chaos. We are the children of chaos so doing that is our speciality. I hope you all understand.]

(Verille) [Oooh, is it to do with the summoned hero? Tina's informed me of his incredibly troubling obsessions. I've been considering neutering him.]

(Tina) [I too thought of castrating him on multiple occasions.]

(Zeruna) [Me too.]

(Phalanx) [He seems to think with his penis and not with his brain.]

(Verille) [He also possesses the gall to think our Zeruna is something that can be tamed! Where does he get the audacity?]

(Tina) [He isn't worthy to impregnate Zeruna, he should not even be within 1000 miles of Zeruna without being under oppressive and heavy supervision.]

(Verille) [It seems there is a unanimous agreement between us that this Roita has forfeited his reproduction rights. All in favour sayeth so.]

(Vidir) [Nope, I'm sticking this one out. I don't want to be responsible for the snipping of someone's manhood.]

(Tina) [Aye.]

(Phalanx) [In favour.]

(Verille) [We are all in agreement.]

(Zeruna) [Sorry for my... extended silence, I was busy laughing and wheezing at this conversation. Maybe it is the coldness of your speech that is entertaining but that was funny. No, this option of castrating Ryota won't be required.]

(Verille) [I see three reasons. Either our mistress has taken a liking to Roytia, she cares not about her chastity or she's will personally chat with... Ryota. The second and first one are implausible obviously, I haven't met him and I want to tear out his eyes.]

(Tina) [The thought of him engaging in sexually explicit acts with our mistress makes me want to commit a war crime; perhaps I can travel to his world and slaughter his entire family and burn his house down.]

(Verille) [I wonder what face he'd make if I ate his parents and siblings in front of him.]

(Vidir) [Why isn't this group colourful?]

(Phalanx) [This is nothing, Dwarf. I'm sure Nyrilieth and Ursula would have much more colourful things to contribute.]

(Verille) [Shogan would probably torture the poor boy to death — his loyalty is beyond unbreakable. Hans would respond by terminating the boy immediately.]

(Vidir) [Maybe castration isn't so bad compared to death, aye? Then again, I'd be pretty lost without my manhood.]

(Phalanx) [I think we've spoken enough, we should take our leave to this Tevin. The longer we are here, the longer Zeruna has to take to act out her operation.]

(Zeruna) [I hope to see you soon.]



Zeruna turns back to Aema and smiles, "It is done, it required some subtle manipulation, incorporation of their own lives into it and some of my characters life to get it done."

"Thank you," replies Aema. 

"I also sent them to Tevin."

"Huh, why?"

"We're going to kidnap the hero."

"What?"

Longest chapter by far I've written. Was thinking of dividing this chapter but decided to fuse it later. Sorry for my random eight day break. I don't know why I didn't update the book four days ago. It's almost as if something happened that caused me to delete a chapter.

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