After messaging Azalabulia and Rao over Fiscord, taking a quick bath with Alice, and then getting a snack to eat since he was hungry, Ryouta finally finds himself immersing back into Fantasy Tales Online after almost being tempted into another round of distracting fun with Alice.
He starts wishing that he would have given into his temptations as soon as he gets up and looks around.
The only one not looking disappointed in him right now is Nell since she has also just gotten back in-game.
“I thought you’d be quick,” Cassiel says.
“You said you’d be quick,” Serra says.
“Right? We’ve been waiting for you to get back for a while,” Eva says just as naturally as his girlfriends. “Did you forget the whole time dilation thing?”
“I didn’t forget,” Fenrir answers. “I just got distracted.”
“My goodness, my hero. Am I only a distraction to you? Do you not see me and my needs as anything more than a simple distraction to pass the time on?” Nell asks with her usual dramatic flair.
“Were you doing lewd things without me?” Serra asks.
“Well, we did require a shower once we were done doing what we were doing if that answers your question.”
Serra looks at Fenrir and pouts.
“Hey, don’t pout at me. Cass and Nell were doing things on their own while we were in here,” he says.
Cassiel and Nell both blush, but Nell smiles whereas Cassiel glares.
“Y-you don’t have to tell everybody that!” Cassiel shouts.
Given that Rao and Eva are both present and listening in, Fenrir realizes that he probably made a mistake by calling Cassiel and Nell out like that. Though, he doubts that neither Rao nor Eva care since Rao is looking away and acting like he’s not actually listening, and Eva just doesn’t seem to care as she is much more interested in Nell’s monstrous features.
“Sorry,” Fenrir says.
“And you took forever! Do you know how long we’ve been waiting?” Cassiel asks.
“Ah, that is partially my fault,” Nell admits. “Please, do not only punish him for that when I am just as guilty.”
“You could’ve… you could’ve invited me to join at least.”
“And me,” Serra says, looking the most annoyed out of everybody.
“Apologies,” Nell says. “I wished to selfishly enjoy him. I will make sure that everybody is involved the next time!”
While Nell’s words seem to cheer up Serra and Cassiel, Azalabulia looks away with a bit of a sad expression showing on her face.
She is still the only member of their relationship not living together with them, and they have never even met her in reality yet.
So, as much as Fenrir just learned not to bring up their private lives when around others not in their relationship, he goes for it in an attempt to cheer her up.
“We’ll fly Azawaza down for it next time,” he says. “Then we can all enjoy each other.”
Azalabulia turns her head back to look at him with reddened cheeks as Nell says, “That sounds wonderful! Aza, please do let us know when you will have enough time off for a visit that may extend to a few days. All costs will be covered, so all you need to worry about is the time off!”
“A-ah… we – we’ll see,” Azalabulia replies.
“Is it always this lovey-dovey?” Eva asks Rao.
“Yeah… you get used to it,” Rao answers.
Now, everybody who is present and dating feels a bit flustered for one reason or another except for Nell who is happy to have her love life in the public.
“Anyways, let’s get going,” Fenrir says.
With that, the group loads up into the wagon save for Eva who has decided that she will lead it from the front.
“Are you sure?” Fenrir asks her.
“Hm? Yeah. Flying is fun. Sitting is boring,” Eva answers.
He turns to look at Nell. Despite her also having fin-wings, she doesn’t fly often at all.
As if able to read his mind and tell what he is thinking, Nell explains, “As much as I may enjoy my abilities in this world, I am still much more used to sitting.”
“Hm. Maybe my swimming is why I like flying so much,” Eva says.
“Do you have much experience with swimming?” Nell asks Eva now that the wagon has started on its journey toward the secret passage Eva knows of.
“Yeah. I used to be on the track team, then I was on the swimming team, then I got really into ice skating. Paragliding and skydiving were probably my favorites, but flying in this world feels more like swimming than those.”
“My, you have had quite the experiences! I have always been interested in going skydiving myself. Unfortunately, I never was quite able to overcome the fear of it. As tragic as it is to imagine my parachute not working and falling to the ground, thinking of my loved ones and having my life flash before my eyes as they watch on from the distance, I would rather not actually die.”
“Theoretically, depending on how you land, you could survive any fall. Once you hit terminal velocity, it doesn’t really matter how far you’re falling. Did you know that the longest fall that anybody has ever survived was over thirty thousand feet? Though, some believe that the story isn’t true and that the plane was actually flying lower than the reported height. Either way, people have survived falls from thousands of feet in the sky before. All you have to do is land right and you’ll live. You’re probably more likely to survive falling out of a plane without a parachute than going down and crashing in one depending on how fast it’s going and what angle it crashes into the ground at. Yeah, in either case, it really comes down to the landing. But, a crashing plane has a ton of debris and dangerous objects, fire, explosions… yeah, I would probably jump out of the plane myself if I knew that a plane was going to have a disastrous landing. I would make sure to land on my feet first, then my knees, then my hips, and finally my shoulder or something like that. The force of the impact would get split up that way instead of like, getting turned into jelly if you land horizontally.”
“Ah, that would be wonderful! To survive such a deadly fall after coming to accept that death was hastily approaching, only to survive and be placed in a coma with broken bones throughout your body while your loved ones look on at you with no idea whether you will ever awaken or not… that is just so, so wonderfully tragic.”
“You should try it sometime in this world. One of the first things I did after getting my wings was fly up as high as possible until I physically wasn’t able to go any higher, and then I pulled my wings in close, made myself upside down, and then dived! It was really exciting to fall for that long and then I didn’t even feel any pain when I smacked into the ground. One of the other scholars who was there watching had the gore stuff enabled and told me that they were finding body chunks everywhere. Every time they thought there was no way they’d find a chunk of my previous life’s body as far out as they went, they found one. It was hilarious.”
“I must admit that I am not too much of one for gruesome gore such as that. I prefer the gore to happen while I am still alive rather than as a result of my death. After all, if I am dead, I will not be able to enjoy the tragedy of it!”
“Oh, so you’re more of a masochist?”
Nell nods with a smile.
“Hm. In that case, let’s see… well, from what I understand, you’re already in a relationship so I doubt that you or the others would approve of you going down to that faction at the edge of the world where they’re a bunch of deviants into the really messed up stuff. All of the world’s worst people end up going down there. It’s all rape, torture, gore – then again, they all go there knowing to expect that, so I guess they’re having consensual fun in their own way. It’s not like the virtual assistants would actually let anything like that happen to you unless you opt into it and are enjoying it. Uh, what else since they’re out of the option… you could maybe dip your legs into lava? There’s this one swampy place in these mountains which has a bunch of giant leeches which cause extreme pain, uh… hmm. Mental pain or physical pain?”
“A mixture of both, please.”
“I haven’t experienced it myself, but there’s this one dungeon in the Scholars’ records that I was reading about. It’s like this really intense horror-themed dungeon with a bunch of eldritch abominations in it. One of them has tentacles to crack your limbs while its magic tortures your mind. It’s supposedly a really intense experience. Even the biggest masochists, supposedly, won’t go in there with their pain settings above ten percent.”
“A-ah. I see. That… that does sound a bit too intense for me.”
“Oooh, I’ve got you. So, you’re somebody who’s more into imagining it and thinking about it instead of actually experiencing it? And, when you do experience it, you don’t actually want it that rough?”
“Sadly, as much as I wish I could enjoy going through such extreme punishments, I do not think I would be able to handle it. I am much more gentle than I would like to admit when it comes to my realistic preferences.”
“Hm. Nothing wrong with that. I’m kind of the same. Like, sure, I have fun experimenting with things that usually result in me dying, but that’s only because I know for a fact that none of it is real. I’m super careful in real life. Even then, I wouldn’t go to that place with all the ‘evil’ players that I mentioned and I wouldn’t dip my legs into lava again.”
“Perhaps I am a little bit curious about my legs with lava. One of the most memorable scenes I have ever seen in a movie is when a grandmother pushed a rowboat through – I believe the water was either acidic or extremely hot, and she died as a result of pushing the rest of her family to safety through the water.”
“Oh, I’ve seen that movie. I love the classics like that. How do you feel about war movies?”
“Unfortunately, I cannot quite handle watching war movies. I get far too emotionally invested in them and know that I will be crying for a week whenever I recall any heroic deaths that happened in them. There is no greater way to die than for your country.”
“You sound like you’d make a great queen roleplayer.”
Nell smiles and says, “Then perhaps I must rule a country in this world! I must admit that it does sound like it would be entertaining.”
“It’s not that hard, really. All you have to do is build a small settlement and then AI will start traveling and moving in. Then they’ll help you build it up to be even bigger, causing more AI to move in, attracting players, attracting even more AI… almost anybody can. That’s why there are so many smaller kingdoms and cities inside of the Empire’s territory. There are probably a few thousand different kings and queens there who all report to the Empress. The only real problem with setting up a town or city or kingdom or whatever is that you’ll like, uhh, what was I going to say… oh, right. You have to be able to defend it or else you’ll get conquered. It’s pretty easy in the mountains and along this coast, though, since none of the major factions care about this region. Too bad those dwarves can’t get over here. They would love these mountains.”
“What is preventing them from getting over here?” Nell asks.
“All those dwarf roleplayers are, of course, at war with the elf roleplayers. The elves basically control the surrounding ocean over on their continent, so the dwarves can’t send anybody to settle these mountains since they get immediately caught every time they try leaving the mountains they already live in. If they were to settle even a single settlement in these mountains, though, then they would probably become the most powerful and largest faction in the game. There is so much prime real estate over here for dwarves – or, well, for anybody who wants to dig all day and never see the sun.”
“Ah, right, silly me! I should have known that already for how long I spent over there. I never did get to meet any members of the Conquerors of the Deep.”
“Psst,” Cassiel whispers to Fenrir, “did they just go from talking about fetishes and torture and all that to politics?”
“Yeah. I don’t know what I’m supposed to think of this,” Fenrir whispers back. “They seem to really be getting along with each other, at least.”
“I have a feeling that they’re going to talk forever if we don’t do something.”
“Eh. Is it really bad if they do? They’re having fun. We might as well let them enjoy the conversation.”
“I mean… I guess it’s not bad. I just feel like a third wheel.”
“Don’t worry. The rest of us are third wheels, too.”
“Hey… I know this is random, but have you ever seen those cars with two wheels in the back and one in front?”
“I think they’re kind of cool.”
“Wh-what’s cute about that?”
“Just the fact that you’d randomly whisper to me the fact that you think three-wheeled cars are cute.”
“Shush… there’s nothing cute about that.”
“Just take the compliment, my cute girlfriend.”
“Here!” Eva announces. “This is the tunnel. All we have to do is go straight through it and we’ll reach the dragons.”
Everybody else looks up at where Eva is looking and… see nothing but the wall of a cliff. There is no tunnel. Only rock.
“Are you sure?” Fenrir asks her.
“Of course! Watch.”
With that, Eva flies straight toward the wall and passes right through it.
She then turns around to pop only her head out of it so she looks like a floating head.
“You coming?” she asks.
“I think it might be hard to get our horses to actually go through the wall,” Fenrir says.
“Just pull them in. They’ll stop caring once they realize it’s okay.”
“I’ll help,” Rao says.
Fenrir and Rao jump off of the wagon and grab the horses by their reigns to pull them toward the hidden entrance.
Naturally, the horses start kicking up dirt and trying to resist as soon as they get close to the wall, but they stop resisting as soon as their heads actually pass through the wall. The rest of their bodies come in without any struggle.
The tunnel itself is beautifully lit for being inside of a mountain without any exposure to outside light sources.
Softly-glowing gems belonging to every color of the rainbow line the walls of the tunnel, giving the path clear illumination as far as the eye can see. In this case, they can see very far as the tunnel has no clear end in sight.
“How long is it going to take to get there through here?” Fenrir asks.
“A few hours. It’s a really long tunnel,” Eva answers. “Which means that there will be plenty of time for you to answer all of my questions! That was the deal, remember?”
“I know. You can start asking me questions as soon as you can stop yourself from talking about painful things and politics.”
“Hmm. You’re right, but politics are so fun to talk about. Well, fantasy ones. I have a strict rule of never talking about real-world politics with people over the internet since that’s one of the easiest ways to inevitably get into a bunch of annoying drama. Like, if you so much as even subtly imply that you might have a belief, you better be prepared to get everybody piling up on you shouting at you for how wrong and stupid you are. Ugh, it’s so annoying. I remember reading this one post online from a couple decades ago where people were saying that it was only their generation doing that and that the next generations probably wouldn’t bicker back and forth so much or something like that, but nope. Arguing over politics is never going to end for as long as humanity exists. This is why sometimes I vote that we should just nuke ourselves and be done with it. Can’t listen to people arguing about politics if we’re all dead.”
“What if there’s an afterlife and everybody argues there for the rest of time?”
“Then we’ll nuke the afterlife.”
“You can’t just use nukes to get out of any situation you don’t like.”
“How would you know?”
“I – alright, that’s a good point.”
“Ah, to think of two lovers embracing one another as they know that nuclear missiles are in the air in enough numbers to cause the end of humanity as we know it,” Nell says with a wistful sigh.
Fenrir looks around himself and notices that only Rao and Cassiel aren’t looking nearly as excited about nuclear annihilation.
Both Serra and Azalabulia are imagining the giant explosions and destruction, Eva is thinking about what it would feel like to get vaporized by a nuclear explosion, and Nell is lost in thinking about how tragic it would be to spend time with her lovers before inevitable death.
Then there are Rock and Shogun who have no idea what is being talked about, so they’re running around alongside the wagon to sniff at all of the glowing gems that they walk by.
“Now then!” Eva shouts. “Tell me all about your serpent, what you found in the depths, and about why you want to befriend some dragons!”
“Yeah, yeah. A deal is a deal,” Fenrir says. “What do you want to start with?”
“You’re going to have to be more specific. What do you want to know?
And so, Fenrir tells her everything.
Well, not actually everything. He does, however, tell her about how they befriended their serpent friend, how she discovered a mysterious army waiting at the deepest depths of the ocean where one of the great serpents stays, how they are now preparing defenses to defend against what they believe is an inevitable invasion, and how they want to befriend some dragons to assist them in their upcoming battle which they still aren’t even really sure of whether or not it will happen in the first place.
“Hmm,” Eva says after hearing everything. “What are you expecting when you think of dragons?”
“Giant, four-legged, flying monsters that breathe fair – fire, with long tails, covered in scales, really wise and like riddles and hoarding gold, stuff like that,” Fenrir answers.
“I think you’re going to be disappointed.”
“Why? You’re going to make me worried if you say it like that.”
“Because. These dragons are uh… very… well, first, let me say that dragons like the one you explained do exist. But, they’re usually really rare monsters who stay to themselves and don’t really care about people. Every now and then, somebody might befriend them and get to turn into a dragon themselves, but they don’t become like huge and super powerful like the original dragon or anything.”
“So then what are they like?”
“Have you ever heard of scalies?”
“Yeah. But, don’t worry. They only look like them. All of the real furries and scalies have their own communities in super easy-to-live places where they can just chill there without doing much work. These dragons act really honorable. Well, not all of them, but it’s kind of the theme that they have going on for their village. Like samurai. Samurai dragons. Flying samurai dragons. For what you want – warriors to help you in battle, they’re great. But, they are nowhere near as strong as a real dragon. Convincing a real dragon to help you would be really hard. Or you would have to offer it something to make the time worth it.”
“Gold, probably. They are pretty greedy. I mean, this is supposed to be like your typical fantasy world where all of the races and monsters generally act in according to their clichés. Of course the dragons are going to be the same.”
“By the way,” Cassiel speaks up, “there’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.”
“Hmm? What?” Eva asks.
“Your right eye. Isn’t that an angel’s?”
“Yeah, it is. I’m surprised you could tell so easily.”
“I spent a lot of time around them. How did you get it, though?”
“Oh? You’re curious, are you? It’s a pretty grand story. Getting this angel eye is probably one of the hardest things I’ve done for my current form.”
“So, how’d you get it?”
“I killed an angel and then took one of their eyes, took one of mine out, put theirs in where my old one was, and then used magic to connect them.”
“That’s not really that grand, and… that’s pretty messed up.”
“Well, she tried killing me first, so it’s alright.”
“Hey, are all your body parts like that?” Fenrir asks. “Did you just kill things and then take parts of their body to put onto yours?”
“Hmm. That’s the case for about half of them.”
“You are like Frankenstein’s Monster!” Nell declares.
“Kind of. Hmm. Now that I think about it… I always did love that story when I was growing up. I wonder if that’s why I’m so into this.”
“Classical movies truly are the best. Have you seen…”
And so, Nell and Eva end up getting into another long conversation that the topics of classical movies, plays, literature, and eventually they start talking about how all modern reboots of anything classical ends up bringing shame to the original, and that creators should really try to make original things instead of taking the easy way out and relying on an already-successful name.
While they talk, Azalabulia takes Serra’s spot next to Fenrir right after Serra gets off of the wagon to play with Rock and Shogun as they walk.
“Hey,” Azalabulia says in a hushed voice so as to not disturb Eva’s and Nell’s conversation.
“What’s up?” Fenrir asks her.
“A-about meeting… in real life.”
“Do you think we could… maybe… do that soon? I – I’m really nervous about it, but… I really do want to meet all of you. That’s normal, right? O-or am I taking it too fast?”
“You’re not taking it too fast. We can meet as soon as you want. I don’t like relying on her money, but thanks to Nell, we can pretty much do anything we want. You could probably quit your job and move in with us tomorrow. No, you could definitely do that. Though… yeah, it’d probably be best for you to just visit us once first before deciding anything like that.”
“Ehe… yeah… I – I think that moving in is a bit too soon.”
“There’s no rush, so don’t worry about anything like that. Just come and visit us whenever you want. Then, if you decide you can tolerate all of us in real life, you can move in whenever you want.”
“Maybe after the school year is over if everything goes well.”
“That sounds good to me.”
“Are there any schools near you?”
“I think there’s a middle school a few streets from our house. I know that there are a few daycares around since Serra keeps pointing them out even though I can’t imagine us ever actually needing a daycare. Why’d you want to know about any schools?”
“Because I don’t think I could not be a teacher… probably. I love helping kids and teaching them. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do, so it’s my passion, and a life without seeing their bright smiles every day is such a depressing thought to me,” Azalabulia explains, growing more confident in her words the more she sinks into teacher mode.
“You sound like you’d make a great mom,” Fenrir says, tearing her right out of her teacher mode and putting her into blushing-and-bashful mode.
“D-do you thi-think so?”
“Yeah. You sound like you’re going to be perfect for when we eventually have kids since everybody wants a bunch of them. You would basically have your own classroom’s worth of kids right at home.”
Azalabulia blushes brighter and brighter. “Are you – are you saying you… th-that you already want us to… to,” she taps her pointer fingers together while looking up at him from behind them, “ha-have kids already?”
Fenrir’s ears perk up as he quickly shakes his head. “No, no. Sorry. I just mean, between Serra and Nell being ready for kids at any time, I just talk like it’s going to inevitably happen since it probably definitely is going to happen.”
“Soon, TM,” Cassiel jokes since they have been talking loudly enough for her to hear now.
“I think me and Cass are the only ones being patient about it.”
“A-ah, I – I see, yeah… being patient is good. I can probably… wait… i-it’s not like I’m in a rush or anything to do that. It’s better to wait for when the time is right, r-right? But… maybe… having a kid sooner rather than later might be nice.”
The entire time that Azalabulia stutters out her desires under the guise of being unsure, she’s looking up at Fenrir to gauge his reaction while hiding most of her face behind her hands.
Seeing her look so embarrassed and cute is enough to make Fenrir want to give her the children that she’s asking for right now.
“Don’t get too excited, you pervert,” Cassiel says, leaning against his other side and resting her head on his shoulder.
“Then stop pushing your chest against my arm,” Fenrir whispers at her.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about. My eyes are closed, so I can’t see anything.”
Fenrir sighs and returns his attention to Azalabulia. “I’m sure there are going to be a ton of kids before long,” he tells her.
“I – I see. That’s good,” Azalabulia says. “Maybe I won’t need to stay teaching after all. Somebody will have to keep an eye on all of them and make sure that they’re behaving, and getting a good education, doing their homework on time, practicing their critical thinking skills, and learning how to operate as adults.”
“I think it’ll probably be a while before they have to learn that last part. No teaching toddlers how to do taxes.”
Azalabulia’s eyes light up before she grabs onto Fenrir’s nearest hand, holding it between her own. “Can I homeschool them? Please? Can I homeschool all of our kids? I could set up a room for a classroom, and I could buy all the materials needed to teach them, make sure that they get all of their state tests done and excel at them, motivate them to learn and discover their passions, and – and, please? Can I? It would be so much fun and they’ll be so smart! I don’t mean to brag or think too highly of myself or anything like that, but I am really good at teaching kids. I can bring out all of their passions and help them develop them whatever they are! I have all my teaching certifications up to date, too! And I don’t rely on any VR equipment like most modern schools! I’ll make them all love learning!”
While Fenrir has seen her get serious and passionate about teaching before, he has never seen her get this excited over it. She sounds like an excited little kid about to go to an amusement park, except in her case, she wants to surround herself with a bunch of kids to teach them for hours every single day until they’re adults.
“You really love teaching, don’t you?” Fenrir asks.
“I mean, I’m not objected to it,” Cassiel says. “I’d rather trust Aza than make them change teachers every year.”
“I agree!” Nell says. “It sounds like a wonderful idea. Though, it may be good to make sure that our future children are still enrolled in activities outside of home so that they may get interaction with non-family members.”
“We’re gonna have so many kids,” Serra says.
Azalabulia slowly comes to the realization that she was just fangirling over being a stay-at-home teacher-and-mother loudly enough for everybody to hear.
“I call dibs on being godfather,” Rao jokes. “Nah, the deer would probably want that.”
“I’m pretty sure Olly would call dibs on godmother instead,” Fenrir says. “You can be the godfather.”
“Sounds good to me, bro.”
While they all talk get into the flow of talking about kids, the logistics behind teaching them at home, godparents, and more, Eva is the one who is left with nothing to say for once. They are all busy discussing a topic that she can only listen in on with curiosity as she has no knowledge on it herself.
All she knows is that Fenrir has four women who all want to have children with him.
What’s so great about him? What’s so great about having kids with him? Is there something that she’s missing? The idea of having kids has never been too appealing to Eva, but now she finds herself curious about it. She finds herself looking at Fenrir as everybody else treats him as the center of attention.
Perhaps there is something about him that is more interesting than she knows? If he secretly a celebrity in real life or extremely wealthy? The heir to fortunes? Does he have a mansion? A private helicopter? A yacht?
Or is it something else?
Whatever the case is, her curiosity has been piqued and now she requires answers to her latest questions.
“Let’s have a bunch of kids this year,” Serra says.
“No,” Fenrir replies. “I don’t think any of us are actually ready for kids this year.”
“Eh, I’m ready,” Cassiel says.
“I am most certainly ready as well!” Nell agrees.
Fenrir looks at Serra and doesn’t even need her to say that she’s ready.
“I-it might be too soon, but,” Azalabulia says before trailing off into more nervous mumbles caused by actually thinking about the process of having kids in reality.
“Good luck, bro. You’re on your own for this one,” Rao says.
“Hey, you’re the godfather, don’t leave me hanging,” Fenrir says.
Eva observes the situation unfold as more and more questions pop into her mind.
She’s going to have to do some science.