Chapter 8:

Brewing in the Dark

Six


Emyria stretched out her legs as she allowed the warm water to soak her body. Closing her eyes, she listened to the sounds of the water as it gently flowed into the rocks lined around the springs. She continued to enjoy the moment of silence before Nolvet spoke.Bookmark here

“You know, this hot springs is nice.”Bookmark here

“I agree, I only wish we had gotten here earlier.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s to be expected though. I mean, why wouldn’t the others in our class want to come down here, and enjoy this view.”Bookmark here

“Don’t forget the relaxing water.”Bookmark here

“Right. Also, where are Aystaria, and Wyiss? I noticed they didn’t show up.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, Aystaria doesn’t seem to like to bathe in front of others. Besides, I think she said she needed to talk to Wyiss alone about something.”Bookmark here

“I bet they are just using that as an excuse.”Bookmark here

“Maybe.”Bookmark here

While Emyria, and Nolvet continued to enjoy their time relaxing in the hot springs, Aystaria, and Wyiss entered their room on the sixth floor. Aystaria placed the lit lantern on the nightstand as she started to remove her boots.Bookmark here

“At least our students are getting along,” Aystaria said as she laid back on the bed.Bookmark here

“Since we have moment alone—”Bookmark here

“I already know you wanted to talk about it since we left the Tower’s Watch,” Aystaria said as she sat up on the bed.Bookmark here

“Guess it was pretty obvious for you,” Wyiss said as she made her way for the balcony door.Bookmark here

Aystaria danced over to the balcony on the tips of her toes, moving as graceful, and nimble as she was known for. Perched atop the railing of the balcony like cat, Aystaria stared out at the bright lights the could be seen from the eight towers where The Pit was. Wyiss leaned against the railing, and remained quiet for a moment. A few minutes passed in silence until Wyiss finally spoke up after having gathered her thoughts to form something cohesive.Bookmark here

“I watched a man crawl out of The Pit when I was apart of the Light Bearers. We were sent down to patrol one of the lower layers just to ensure things were okay. The man had long white hair, and looked as if he was already dead. A trail of blood followed him, and his left arm looked as if it it had been mauled by rats. Yet, even through whatever horror he had been through, he continued to step forward with six dog tags in-hand.”Bookmark here

Wyiss looked over to Aystaria, who continued to express a cheerful aura about her.Bookmark here

“My unit seemed scared to act, but I did not hesitate to try. I only saw a man who needed helped.”Bookmark here

Aystaria smiled as she slowly began to unwrap the bandage around her left arm.Bookmark here

“I could make out an emblem on his wrist that looked like a dagger with wings around it, and the number six on it. There were rumors of a unit that protected the world from the shadows. Of course, I didn’t carry about any of that. All I could think about was how to save this man’s life. So, I carried him in my arms to the surface, but I never saw him ever again.”Bookmark here

“And you were left wondering what happened to that man.”Bookmark here

“He appeared as if he was in so much pain, like he had lost so much. Yet, I’d never know. You are the man I saved though… aren’t you?”Bookmark here

A faint smile crossed Aystaria’s face as she hopped down from the railing, and removed the six dog tags from around her neck.Bookmark here

“There exist a fabled group comprised of elite warriors who enter into a dangerous realm that is dark, cold, and a place where death lurks in the shadows—known simply as Shadow Takers. One man entered with is comrades, but being young, made a costly mistake that resulted in the loss of their lives. He fought off the monsters of that realm, and tried to run. It was all in vain when the ruler of the realm revealed himself. The man fought only to be captured, and endured painful hardships that were cruel, and would haunt him if he didn’t sleep with a lit candle at his bedside. Of course, he wasn’t a man anymore, both literally, and figuratively. When he finally managed to escape he had to live with everything that he had done, as well as the nightmares he would continue to have. The only thing he could do, was smile.”Bookmark here

“I’m… sorry.”Bookmark here

Aystaria giggled as she placed the dog tags back around her neck. Hugging Wyiss gently, she kissed her cheek. This romance moment made Wyiss blush as she tried to process what had happened.Bookmark here

“Thank you, Wyiss.”Bookmark here

“Aystaria…”Bookmark here

“It’s okay.”Bookmark here

Wyiss embraced Aystaria tightly as tears started to flow down her cheeks. She was happy to have known that he person she had saved was still living life to the fullest.Bookmark here

“So, what should I call you?”Bookmark here

Aystaria lean back slightly on the heels of her feet as she smiled playfully.Bookmark here

“I lost many things at hands of captors, but I also gain much in the way of knowledge. I want you to continue to see me, not as the man I once was, but the female I was forced to become.”Bookmark here

Wyiss nodded.Bookmark here

“I won’t divulge anything that was said here.”Bookmark here

“You might not, sis. But I definitely will.”Bookmark here

The giggling voice of Lystaria could be heard as Wyiss turned around to see her little brother laying on the bed.Bookmark here

“B-Brother! You were listening the whole time?”Bookmark here

“Oh I knew he was,” Aystaria said with a smile as she turned to Lystaria.Bookmark here

“Wait, you knew? And you still kept talking.”Bookmark here

“So, cute little brother of Wyiss. I hear you like things a bit rough,” Aystaria said with a grin.Bookmark here

“That is true. I do.”Bookmark here

“You should know, we Shadow Takers are extremely skilled in extracting information from people.”Bookmark here

“Something tells me this will be fun,” Lystaria said with a cheerfully expression.Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Aystaria awoke to the feeling of something heavy against her body. Two melon shaped spheres pressed firmed against her chest. Opening her eyes, she was greeted by the sight of Wyiss laying atop her fast asleep. Well, this is one way to wake up, Aystaria thought as she realized one hand was caught under Wyiss’ body. Moving it forced a soft moan to escape Wyiss’ mouth. Guess I’ll just roll her over then, Aystaria thought as she counted to three. On the final count, Aystaria rolled Wyiss over quickly before ending up on top of her. Her hand was firmly grasping one of Wyiss’ breast as she watched the facial expressions that Wyiss made.Bookmark here

“Mmm. Aystaria, be gentle.”Bookmark here

Aystaria smirked as she carefully got off of Wyiss. So, that’s what you’re dreaming about, Aystaria thought as she brushed back Wyiss’ bangs slowly. Looking over to the other bed, she could see Emyria, and Nolvet both huddled together as they slept soundly—as if nothing in the world could wake them. Making her way swiftly for the exit, Aystaria made her way down the hallway as her bare feet left no trace of a sound. Entering into the lobby, she made her way over to the bar where she saw Feldia sitting, and slowly sipping on small class of red wine.Bookmark here

“Hey Lystaria, can you get me what Feldia has, please?”Bookmark here

“Sure, one second,” Lystaria said with a cheerful smile.Bookmark here

As Lystaria headed for the shelf to grab a bottle of the finest red wine they had, Aystaria spun around in her chair before laying across the chairs like a bed—with her head resting firmly in Feldia’s lap. Feldia continued to sip her drink as she paid no mind to Aystaria resting her head against her thighs.Bookmark here

“Sinulla on paksut reidet.”Bookmark here

“Voin puristaa sinut heidän kanssaan, jos olet siinä.”Bookmark here

“Olen enemmän—”Bookmark here

“Here you go, Aystaria,” Lystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

Sitting up from her resting position, Aystaria grabbed the glass as she downed the wine in a few seconds. Propping her feet up in Feldia’s lap, Aystaria signaled for Lystaria to pour another bottle.Bookmark here

“Shouldn’t you be wearing shoes?” Feldia asked as she took another sip of wine.Bookmark here

“You know I hate wearing them. Even as a guy I hated them.”Bookmark here

“Frankly, I could never tell if you were guy or girl when we went on that joint operation together.”Bookmark here

Aystaria couldn’t help but giggle as she gently pressed her barefoot against Feldia’s cheek.Bookmark here

“You’re mind games only work on the weak minded,” Feldia said as she downed the last bit of her wine.Bookmark here

“Oh I know, but it’s still fun to see if I can get under your skin.”Bookmark here

Grabbing the glass of wine, Aystaria began to down it.Bookmark here

“Like how the shadow lord got under yours?”Bookmark here

Aystaria split out her wine onto her clothes as she failed to hold back the laughter. For a second, she found herself coughing, and quickly beat her fist against her chest to stop it from going down the wrong pipe. In one simple motion, Feldia hit Aystaria’s back with the palm of her hand forcing Aystaria to cough once more.Bookmark here

“Thank you. That was just too funny.”Bookmark here

“Glad to be of service.”Bookmark here

“I love that about you. That feeling that you, and I are equals.”Bookmark here

“Well, we are. Though you are going to have a hard time explaining that to the harem you created.”Bookmark here

Aystaria smiled as she wiped off her clothes as best she could.Bookmark here

“I have no idea what your talking about.”Bookmark here

“Sure you don’t. Anyways, I take it your plans are to go shopping with Emyria?”Bookmark here

“Yup. We will be looking at some clothes to pick out.”Bookmark here

“Have fun with that. I’ll just spend my days reading.”Bookmark here

“Oh? You mean you didn’t want to stalk me, and get a glimpse of my cuteness in different outfits?” Aystaria asked with a smirk.Bookmark here

“Haluaisin nähdä sinut alastomana,” Feldia replied with a sinister smile.Bookmark here

Aystaria’s cheeks flushed red as she covered her eyes with her braid.Bookmark here

“T-That’s…”Bookmark here

“Flustered are we?”Bookmark here

“You… would actually want to see me like that?”Bookmark here

Playing with the tip of her braid like a playful schoolgirl, Aystaria stared back into Feldia’s stern gaze.Bookmark here

“Well, I need to go read. It was fun,” Feldia said as she started to get up.Bookmark here

“Awwie, you’re no fun. Leaving it like that. You’re bad at romance, you know?”Bookmark here

“I’m aware. Have fun.”Bookmark here

Finishing off the rest of her drink, Aystaria made her way back up to the room, and noticed Wyiss was still asleep as Emyria was just starting to wake up. A soft yawn escaped Emyria’s mouth as she stretched for a second.Bookmark here

“Good morning,” Aystaria whispered with a radiant smile.Bookmark here

“Morning. Did you just wake up?”Bookmark here

“Somewhat, yeah. You hungry?”Bookmark here

“Food would be nice,” Emyria said as she got out of bed.Bookmark here

“Want to try some käse auf brot?”Bookmark here

“What is that?”Bookmark here

“It’s basically bread with cheese baked on top.”Bookmark here

“Sure, can’t hurt to try it, right?”Bookmark here

“Exactly. I’ll be back in a bit. Afterwards, we can get dressed, and head out to see what the city has to offer.”Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Aystaria maneuvered gracefully through the city streets as she felt the rays of the morning sun against her face, and the light gentle breeze blowing her hair. The sounds of the city echoed throughout her ears as the sights of the city felt alive with the comings, and goings of various carriages, and people. Stopping in front of a shop that sat a the corner of the street, Aystaria looked over to Emyria with a smile.Bookmark here

“As per our agreement, since you passed your exams, you get to see me in one outfit of your choosing.”Bookmark here

“Any outfit? From this shop?”Bookmark here

Emyria looked over everything that was out on display in the front windows. Various outfits of risque design that appealed to a dominant majority of men who saw women as nothing more than sexual object.Bookmark here

“And you’re sure about this?” Emyria asked.Bookmark here

“Of course,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Well, if you’re sure about this.”Bookmark here

Making her way into the shop, Emyria looked around the all the outfits on display before one caught her eye. The dress was an elegant white corset that revealed a small section of the stomach with a matching frilly skirt that stopped at the thighs.Bookmark here

“I want you to wear that,” Emyria said as she pointed to the dress with her face starting to flush a hint of red.Bookmark here

Aystaria smiled as she grabbed the outfit—as well as a few other accessories—and headed for one of the changing rooms.Bookmark here

“No peeking,” Aystaria giggled as she closed the door behind her.Bookmark here

Emyria paced back, and forth as she waited for Aystaria to finish changing. After a few minutes, Aystaria exited the room only for Emyria gaze upon her like an old man that had never been with a woman. A single twirl, and cute pose made Emyria feel like her heart was about to stop.Bookmark here

“So, how do I look?” Aystaria asked with a smile.Bookmark here

“I’d hit that,” a man called out from across the shop.Bookmark here

“Yeah, what he said,” Emyria said as she looked over Aystaria from head to toe.Bookmark here

Why can’t there be a device that allows us to store moments like these in time, Emyria thought as she noticed the small accessories that Aystaria had added to her outfit.Bookmark here

“Are those wolf ears?”Bookmark here

“Yup. I saw them, and figured they would pair well. Can I assume the blood coming from your nose means you like what I’m dressed in?” Aystaria asked with a smirk.Bookmark here

“I… uh… just banged my nose on the door.”Bookmark here

“Mhm. Sure.”Bookmark here

Aystaria smirked as she made her way over to the nearby leather couch. Rolling up a pair white socks, she inserted her petite foot into one, and carefully pulled it up to her thigh—doing the same for the other. Jumping up to her feet, Aystaria twirled around on the ball of her foot as she continued for a few rotations.Bookmark here

“So, what do you think, really?”Bookmark here

“I think you’re beautiful. Probably need to find some matching shoes though that go well with it.”Bookmark here

“I mean, I could go without them,” Aystaria said as she stop, and playfully bounced on the balls of her feet.Bookmark here

“Isn’t that how infections spread.”Bookmark here

Aystaria giggled.Bookmark here

“Yeah, that’s true. Let’s look at what they got.”Bookmark here

Moving over to the aisles where the shoes were lined up, Aystaria looked over some of the pairs of shoes, and boots as Emyria noticed a pair that seemed to match perfectly.Bookmark here

“These could work.”Bookmark here

Aystaria smiled as she pointed to the number placed under the rack.Bookmark here

“Those are a size six, I wear a size five.”Bookmark here

Aystaria grabbed the pair that was label for her foot size, and made her way back over to the couch. Slipping on one of the boots, Aystaria easily wiggled her foot into it, and pulled it up to her just below her knee—doing the same for the other. Standing to her feet, Aystaria walked back, and forth as she tried to get used to moving in the new boots. In just a few minutes, she was able to move as she had when wearing her old pair.Bookmark here

“This could work,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

Before Emyria could speak, the sound of her stomach started rumbling. A cheerful expression showed on Aystaria’s face a she gathered up her old clothes.Bookmark here

“Let’s pay for the outfit, and get you food.”Bookmark here

“That would be nice.”Bookmark here

Making their way up to the counter, they were greeted by a young girl who smiled as she handed an item over to man she was serving. The girl was dressed in a black hair, and wore a golden ribbon to tie back her hair.Bookmark here

“Thank you for shopping here today, did you find everything okay?”Bookmark here

“Yes, I did. I’m going to purchase this outfit. Two gold coins, correct?” Aystaria asked with a smile.Bookmark here

“Actually, there is a sale on that dress, so it’s only one gold coin.”Bookmark here

“I see, well, here’s two anyways,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Oh wow! Thank you so much, Miss.”Bookmark here

“It’s no problem at all.”Bookmark here

“As thanks, word of advice. Pretty girls such as you, and your friend here shouldn’t be out when the sun goes down.”Bookmark here

“Why is that?” Emyria asked.Bookmark here

“Rumors have been going around of someone murdering young women or being kidnapped. The guards have been trying to catch whoever is at large but they haven’t been able to find anyone. It’s truly scary out there at night, especially at the Blackchapel District.”Bookmark here

“I see, I’ll keep that in mind,” Aystaria said without showing a hint of worry on her face.Bookmark here

As Aystaria exited the shop, she could feel something sinister in the air. It wasn’t just the stares of all the men, and women in the area, but something that made her body shake. The beating of her heart increased as she felt the presence of absolute fear itself. It can’t be. He’s here, Aystaria thought as she closed her eyes. Trying to isolate the presence, Aystaria focused as hard as she could, yet to no avail.Bookmark here

“Aystaria, are you okay?” Emyria asked in a concerned tone.Bookmark here

Of course he would mask his presence, he was always good at that, Aystaria thought as she turned, and smiled at Emyria.Bookmark here

“It’s nothing. I just didn’t think so many people would be staring. I’m kind of embarrassed.”Bookmark here

The cute blushing face of Aystaria looking embarrassed made Emyria’s cheeks flush a hint of pink. Why is my teacher so cute, Emyria thought as she continued to stare.Bookmark here

“Anyways, we should get back to the Grand Mysteria,” Aystaria said with a cheerful smile.Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Aystaria looked out at the city as she leaned against the railing of the balcony. She could still feel the presence of the fear that she had sensed before. Well, if he won’t come to me, guess I’ll come to him, Aystaria thought as she put on her boots, and made her way out the door. Seeing Lystaria at the lobby—standing behind a desk—Aystaria smiled as she greeted him.Bookmark here

“I’m going to be heading out for a bit. If anyone asks, tell them I took a stroll around the Blackchapel District,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Of course. Enjoy your night. Oh, and do be careful.”Bookmark here

Aystaria walked the city streets with her lantern around her neck. Even though the city of Athelas had candlelit lamps at every street corner, she always felt the need to carry one around. While she didn’t fear many things in her life, there was one thing she had grown to fear. Rounding a street corner, she noticed the subtle change as she noticed the a large bridge that entered into another part of the city. The river that separated the two districts were like night, and day.Bookmark here

So, across this bridge is the Blackchapel District. Makes sense why they named it that, I can see the chapel from here, Aystaria thought as she made her way across the bridge. The tone of the district felt more ominousness than the other districts that Aystaria had been to. She had seen many things throughout her travels, yet this was the first time she had ever stepped foot into the Blackchapel District. Grim buildings blotted the sides of the rough cobblestone street. All of the buildings seemed as if they had not been renovated in the past ten years or so. Many cracks, and signs of weathering remained, while even the street itself appeared worn out through the ages of time.Bookmark here

The various lamp lights were almost nonexistence as maybe only one or two shone every so often in the dark. Aystaria continued to maintain her composure as she noticed the lack of people out, and about the streets. The sound of crows were only things that could be heard—apart from the clacking of Aystaria’s boots against the stone—as Aystaria entered the main district square. Stopping to close her eyes, Aystaria tried to focus where the presence was. I know you’re out there, Aystaria thought as she breathed slowly.Bookmark here

A jarring echo of a woman screaming in the distance broke the focus Aystaria was trying to maintain. Using her magic to isolate the sounds of the scream, Aystaria made her way down the street, and through various alleyways until she found the woman that had been screaming. Aystaria had seen his work before, and she knew that the girl laying on the ground was not going to live to see tomorrow. A pool of blood covered the ground as the smell of her internal fluids filled the air. She had been sliced, and cut open at incredibly small but meticulous spots that would kill her in only minutes if they were not treated. He’s baiting me, that asshole, Aystaria thought as she watched the girl tried to speak. The girls eyes filled with tears as Aystaria thought about what her options were. I try to treat her, I’ll just end up captured by him. I don’t treat her, I have to live with her face haunting me forever. This is why I never liked him, he was always so psychotic, Aystaria thought as she rested her hand on the hilt of her sword.Bookmark here

“Come on, Rita. What’s wrong with you? Using a sixteen-year-old girl like this, forcing her to suffer by cutting out her vocal chords, and kneecaps. Do you have any sense of morals?” Aystaria yelled at as she continued to keep her guard up.Bookmark here

The sound of a creepy child-like laugh echoed throughout the shadows as Aystaria’s eyes quickly scanned the area.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Can you blame me for enjoying what I do?”Bookmark here

“Yes, yes I can. You’ve been the one committing these murders, haven’t you?”Bookmark here

“Hehe. I don’t murder people, sweet Aystaria. They simple stop giving up on their will to live. That’s all.”Bookmark here

“Thanks for the clarification,” Aystaria said as he continued to remain vigilant.Bookmark here

Aystaria struggle to pin down exactly where Rita was as his presence shifted from shadow to shadow. Looking over to the girl, Aystaria could see she was now dead, the sorrow in the dead corpse said everything.Bookmark here

“Damn it, Rita. Stop screwing around—”Bookmark here

In that instant, Aystaria could sense Rita’s aura behind her. The hair on the back of her neck stood up as she tried to turn around in time only to feel a small needle being injected into her lower body.Bookmark here

“Rita… you… coward…”Bookmark here

Aystaria could feel her vision fading quickly as her body fall forward into Rita’s loving embrace.Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Aystaria awoke to find herself shackled at the wrist, and her boots removed to ensure the shackles around her ankles were secured well. Looking around the area she could see her lantern sitting on a small wooden table, along with her boots, and bandage. After processing the fact that she was shackled to a wall, Aystaria sighed. Guess this where he’s going to play with me, Aystaria thought as she leaned back against the wall.Bookmark here

“Hey Rita, let me ask you a question.”Bookmark here

“Hehe. What would that be?” Rita as he appeared at Aystaria’s side with a grinning from ear to ear.Bookmark here

Rita’s pale complexion, and doll-like features made him look as though he were a girl. With his long white hair tied in a pair of long twin-tails, and his overall bubbly mannerisms, he was often mistaken for a girl.Bookmark here

“Does that scar on your neck still hurt?” Aystaria said with a mocking smile.Bookmark here

A large scar could be seen as clear as day around his neck with the stitching visible to the naked eye. Rita smiled as he licked Aystaria’s neck.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Want me to give you one to match?” Rita asked as he giggled in a girly tone.Bookmark here

“I’ll pass, thanks though.”Bookmark here

“Hehe. It’s okay. You’re more beautiful to look at the way you are, sweet Aystaria.”Bookmark here

Rita smiled as he moved down to Aystaria’s chest, and breathed in her sweet scent.Bookmark here

“Adding ‘sweet’ to my name doesn’t make you sound cuter, you know? Oh, by the way, Rita…”Bookmark here

Moving downwards, Rita slowly ran his warm tongue down Aystaria’s stomach, and carefully over her bellybutton.Bookmark here

“Hmm?”Bookmark here

Rita stopped as he looked up to Aystaria.Bookmark here

“Did you check your gender today?”Bookmark here

Taking a step back, Rita tilted his head, and place a finger on his cheek as if he was thinking.Bookmark here

“Hehe. I’m pretty sure I’m a girl today,” Rita said as she smiled cheerfully.Bookmark here

Rita carefully removed her large black overcoat, and placed her hands on her chest.Bookmark here

“Hehe. It feels flat. Maybe I need to check the other area too,” Rita said as she lifted up her black short skirt.Bookmark here

Taking a second to study it, Rita looked to Aystaria, and smiled.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Guess I’m a boy today,” Rita said as he lowered his skirt back down.Bookmark here

“Good to know. I’d hate to assume your gender,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

Rita giggled as he unbuckled his black high-heels platform boots, and slipped them off. Throwing them off to the side, he twirled around on the ball of his foot as he seen Aystaria do many times over before dancing over to her. Grabbing the end of her braid gently, he sniffed her hair, and smiled as he looked as if he was enticed by the aroma.Bookmark here

“Hehe. You always seem to smell so pleasant, Aystaria.”Bookmark here

“And you still have the most eccentric fetishes I have ever seen in one man.”Bookmark here

Placing the end of Aystaria’s hair under his skirt, Rita smiled happily as the expression on his face changed from happy to pleasurable.Bookmark here

“My braid did not consent to this, Rita.”Bookmark here

“Hehe. But it feels good!”Bookmark here

“I hope you know when I get free from here, you’re going to regret what you are doing right now,” Aystaria said in a contrasting cheerful tone.Bookmark here

“Hehe. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

Emyria awoke to the feeling of a tingle between her legs. Rushing out bed with haste, she made her way to the bathroom. A few minutes passed as Emyria felt the sweet release of fluid build up rush from between her thighs, and into the boxed chamber pot that fed out through a small drainage system. Once she was finished, she ensured she flushed the toilet, and washed her hands. As she exited back out to the main room, she noticed that Aystaria was nowhere to be found.Bookmark here

Did she go somewhere. Maybe she’s down in the lobby, Emyria thought as she put on her boots, and made her way down to the main lobby. As exited the room, she felt a dark presence looming beside her. Staring up at Feldia, Emyria smiled as she tried to imitate Aystaria’s mannerisms.Bookmark here

“Going somewhere, Miss Hyteria?” Feldia asked with a sinister smile.Bookmark here

“Well, you see…”Bookmark here

“I see you standing outside your room when it’s past the roaming hour.”Bookmark here

Emyria dropped the false smile as she looked to Feldia with concern.Bookmark here

“Aystaria isn’t in the room, and I was going to see if she was down in the lobby somewhere.”Bookmark here

Feldia thought for a moment as she closed her eyes. After a few minutes, she looked to Emyria.Bookmark here

“Follow me.”Bookmark here

Entering into the main lobby, Feldia made her way over to Lystaria who yawned once before continuing to maintain his professional behavior.Bookmark here

“Lystaria, did Aystaria come down here by chance?”Bookmark here

“Why yes she did. In fact, she gave me a message that I should tell anyone that asks about her that she headed for the Blackchapel District.”Bookmark here

“Emyria, go back to your room, if I’m not back by morning—”Bookmark here

“No! I’m not going to just stand by, and wait. If Aystaria is in danger then I want to help.”Bookmark here

Feldia sighed.Bookmark here

“You act like her with each passing day.”Bookmark here

Emyria smiled.Bookmark here

“And no that wasn’t a compliment, I truly find it annoying,” Feldia said with a smile.Bookmark here

Without another word, the two of them headed off for the district of Blackchapel. As they made their way down the streets of the city, they stopped once the bridge to the district came into view. Feldia pulled out a dagger that was hidden under her skirt. Handing it over to Emyria, it was clear by the tone in Feldia’s voice that she was serious.Bookmark here

“Take this, and stay very close to me. Do I make myself clear?”Bookmark here

“Why? What’s out there, Miss Feldia?”Bookmark here

“The stench of someone even I tend to fear.”Bookmark here

Aystaria, what the hell were you thinking? Rita is beyond even the Council of Shadows’ comprehension, Feldia thought as she closed her eyes.Bookmark here

“Vestigium.”Bookmark here

Feldia scanned the bridge, and noticed the small traces of foot prints that lead into the district of Blackchapel.Bookmark here

“Let’s go.”Bookmark here

Feldia followed the tracks carefully as she remained alert for anything that could attack her or Emyria.Bookmark here

“Hey, Miss Feldia?”Bookmark here

“You’re question better not be if you can use the bathroom.”Bookmark here

“I heard Aystaria speak in that same strange language. I’ve never heard of it though.”Bookmark here

“Ah. That is something I would love to explain, but I think it would be better if Aystaria explained it herself.”Bookmark here

Feldia continued to follow the tracks until a foul odor filled the air. Emyria covered her nose as she wondered where the aroma was coming from.Bookmark here

“What is that awful smell?”Bookmark here

“Breathe through your nose.”Bookmark here

As Emyria began to breathe through her nose, she noticed Feldia had stopped. Looking around, Emyria wondered what Feldia was looking at. The open lot appeared vacant which various objects scattered about from wood, and stone to bricks, and spare tables. While the darkness obsured almost everything for Emyria, Feldia was able to see what laid beyond the darkness.Bookmark here

“Aystaria was here.”Bookmark here

“How do you know?”Bookmark here

“Because she wouldn’t leave that,” Feldia said as she pointed on the ground in front of her.Bookmark here

Emyria looked at where Feldia was pointing to see a small golden hair clip.Bookmark here

“That’s Aystaria’s hair clip.”Bookmark here

“Thank you, detective. Truly elementary work, my dear girl.”Bookmark here

“What happened to her? Where did she go?”Bookmark here

“If you be quiet, I can figure that out. This just going to take a lot out of me.”Bookmark here

Feldia picked up the hair clip, and closed her eyes.Bookmark here

“Semita decorarat atque auxerat.”Bookmark here

Emyria continued to wait in suspense as hoped that Feldia would be able to find out where Aystaria had gone. A few seconds passed before Feldia dropped to one knee as if she had been drained of energy.Bookmark here

“Are you all right?”Bookmark here

“I’m fine. She’s somewhere due north of here. I think… that massive cathedral. Somewhere underground. Not completely sure.”Bookmark here

“I’ll go save her then!”Bookmark here

“Emyria, wait…”Bookmark here

Before Feldia could finish her sentence, Emyria had already ran ahead with the dagger in her hand. She knew she needed to save Aystaria. Running through the alleyways being as light-footed as she she could be, Emyria closed her eyes as she tried to sense Aystaria’s heartbeat. As she closed the distance to the cathedral, she could start to pick up on something that sounded like a faint heartbeat. Holding the dagger at the ready, Emyria carefully entered the front entrance of the cathedral.Bookmark here

While the outside appeared grandiose in its appearance, the inside was a stark contrast. Faded color on the walls, and floor along with the aged weathering of years of neglect meant the cathedral had been abandoned for at least several decades. The alter at the front of the worship area was broken in half where the wood had finally given up on life. Of everything in the main room, only a single banner with an emblem on it remained intact.Bookmark here

I’ve never seen a symbol like that before, Emyria thought as she approached the banner. The emblem was a simple black dagger that was pointed downwards, with a cracked skull at the tip. Surrounding it was five black swirls in a diamond like shape. Scanning the area, Emyria noticed a wooden door that was worn, and covered in mounds of dust. As she opened the door, the loud echoing creak of the hinges ensured that if there was anyone down in the dark basement, they knew she was coming. I wish I had brought a lantern with me, she thought as she carefully descended stairwell into the dark unknown.Bookmark here

Planting her feet down on each step carefully, Emyria held her weapon at the ready as she ran her free hand down the wall. As she descended deeper, she could hear a faint sound of voice she was unfamiliar with. It sounded like that of a small child with a high-pitch feminine tone. Yet, the expressions that echoed through the hallways were not of innocent nature, but of maturity that delved in the realm of ecstasy. Drawing near to the source of the voice, Emyria could begin to make out the words clearly.Bookmark here

As she turned down a hallway, she could see a faint light from one of the open doorways. Moving cautiously, she peeked into the room, only to wish she hadn’t.Bookmark here

“Oh yes! Aystaria, your so… great at this.”Bookmark here

“Again, I didn’t consent to this, Rita.”Bookmark here

“Hehe. But you’re thighs are all covered in condensed milk. That means you’re my property, right?”Bookmark here

“I hate to tell you this, Rita… but you’re wrong,” Aystaria said as she smiled cheerfully.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Well, you’re still mine. The question is, what am I going to do with the other girl over there?”Bookmark here

Wait, she can see me, Emyria thought as she held her weapon at the ready.Bookmark here

“Hehe. You know you can come out. We can both see you just fine.”Bookmark here

She has to be bluffing, Emyria thought as she continued to still in the shadows.Bookmark here

“Emyria, just come out, I can see you too. No point in hiding from him.”Bookmark here

“W-Wait… That’s a guy?”Bookmark here

Emyria stepped out from the shadows, and into the light as she continued to hold her weapon at the ready.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Yup, yup. I am is be a boy! How do you do?” Rita asked as he curtsied like a nobleman’s daughter.Bookmark here

“Um… Rita, you… actually, never mind,” Aystaria stopped her from trying to correct someone who was insane.Bookmark here

“Either way, leave my teacher alone!” Emyria shouted as she pointed her dagger at Rita boldly.Bookmark here

“Emyria, technically, I’m your tutor, not your teacher. Big difference,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

“Hehe. So, Aystaria, this girl is precious to you?”Bookmark here

“Oh Rita, the things I’m going to do to you when I’m free,” Aystaria grinned with a devilish smile.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Can’t wait.”Bookmark here

Emyria continued to stand her ground as she watched Rita move towards her. Okay, I just need to remember all the training that Aystaria taught me, and I can beat this… boy… girl… feminine boy… I’m just going to say boy. I’ll beat him, Emyria thought as she studied his movements like a hawk. Like a flash of lightning, Emyria watched as Rita disappeared from her line-of-sight. Scanning the room quickly, she realized that he wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Turning on the ball of her foot, Emyria felt the force of a powerful wind against brush against her face.Bookmark here

Even though everything happened at a break neck speed, she was able to see the glint sheen of her reflection on the blade as it missed her nose by mere millimeters—almost as if the world around her was moving in slow motion. As Emyria planted the sole of her foot onto the solid ground, she spring forward at Rita aiming for the nape of the neck. In one fluid motion, Rita spun on the ball of his foot, grabbing Emyria’s arm from the outside. Using the force of his strength, he twirled Emyria around several times as Emyria was forced to keep pace. After six full rotations, Rita let go, causing Emyria to fly into Aystaria’s body.Bookmark here

“Well, at least I landed into you,” Emyria said as she realized she no longer had her weapon.Bookmark here

Looking over her shoulder, Emyria could see Rita twirling the dagger in his hand with precision, and skill. A smile gleamed across his face as he slowly made his way towards Emyria like a wolf cornering its prey. Great, my only weapon in the hands of an insane feminine boy. Just my luck, Emyria thought as she tried to figure out what other options she had.Bookmark here

“Emyria, listen to me. On your right, is my sword on the table. Remove the sword. Don’t try to lift the sheath. Go when I say to, okay?”Bookmark here

Emyria nodded as she stared into Aystaria’s eyes. Her cheerful expression made it seem as if everything was going to work out. Aystaria watched as Rita moved closer, while Emyria’s heart continued to pound against her chest like a drum.Bookmark here

“Go!”Bookmark here

At Aystaria’s command, Emyria quickly bolted for the table as she kept her eyes on the sword.Bookmark here

“Hey Rita,” Aystaria called out.Bookmark here

For a moment, Rita turned his gaze to Aystaria only to feel something smacking him in the left side of his face. Taking a second to process what had happened, he smiled as he giggled in a high-pitched girly tone.Bookmark here

“You used your braid to hit me. That’s pretty clever of you.”Bookmark here

Rushing forward with the dagger prepared to impale Aystaria’s heart, Rita grinned sadistically from ear to ear. Aystaria simply smiled as she stood there.Bookmark here

“You’re going to die tonight, Aystaria!”Bookmark here

Like a flash of light, the room was silent for a brief moment. Rita looked at his arm, only to realize that it had been sliced off above the elbow. The dagger had fallen to the ground at Aystaria’s feet, along with Rita’s arm.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Oh dear. I’ve seem to have lost a hand.”Bookmark here

With haste, Rita grabbed his arm as he twirled around. Within just a few seconds, he was able to sew his arm back into place using the thread of his skirt, and a needle holding up one of his twin-tails. Smiling as he looked over his work, Rita ensured his arm was able to function properly.Bookmark here

“Hehe. There we go, good as new.”Bookmark here

“H-How did you do that?” Emyria asked shocked by what she had just witnessed.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Because I’m Rita.”Bookmark here

“Rita is a highly trained medic, and understands the human body well. There is no wound he can’t fix aside from a fatal wound.”Bookmark here

“So, I just have to kill him.”Bookmark here

“Hehe. You can certainly try.”Bookmark here

Emyria the weapon at the ready as she tried to clear her mind.Bookmark here

“Just remember to calm your thoughts, and let the world around her flow, like water,” Aystaria said in a gentle tone.Bookmark here

Emyria relaxed her grip on the hilt of the blade as she breathed in calmly. A cheerful smile crossed her face as she spoke with unwavering confidence.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, I’ll win this without breaking a sweat.”Bookmark here

A crackling giggle escaped Rita’s mouth as he held his side.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Just because you know her fighting style doesn’t mean you can do what she does.”Bookmark here

Pulling out two small daggers from under his skirt, Rita twirled on the tip of his toes as he twirled his bladed like a rhythmic dance.Bookmark here

“Hehe. I think it’s time for you to understand why they call me, Rita the Reaper.”Bookmark here

Without warning, Rita dashed forward with his two daggers ready to strike. Emyria evaded the first strike like she had calculated. She knew, by the trajectory of the strike that Rita would have to follow up in a predefined arc. Wait, what the hell, Emyria thought as she noticed his foot coming square for her jaw. Rita had taken Emyria by complete surprise by planting his hands firmly on the ground, and using his foot as a follow through for the attack.Bookmark here

The force of the attack was enough to jar Emyria’s stance as she stumbled with her footing for a second. As she tried to regain her composure, she noticed that he wasn’t giving her a chance to think. Struggling to block the two strikes to her chest, Emyria was barely able to keep Rita from landing a blow on her. This guy is like a deranged monkey, Emyria thought as she managed to block another strike. With a split second to counterattack, Emyria took the chance to try to land a fatal blow after parrying the strike aimed for her stomach.Bookmark here

As Emyria brought the blade down in an effort to end Rita’s life, she felt his legs wrap around her arm. Like a cobra coiling its prey, Rita latched on Emyria’s arm, and brought her down to the ground. In an instant, Emyria found herself pinned down with Rita on top of her. A sadistic grin appeared on his face he continued to hold her down with one arm. Pulling out a coin that Emyria had seen before, Rita planted it on the palm of Emyria’s hand. In that moment, Emyria could only scream as she felt the bone in her left hand break from the crushing weight of the coin.Bookmark here

“Hehe. You have a beautiful scream.”Bookmark here

Emyria could feel the pressure of the coin on her hand. Even though it appeared as if it was just resting firmly in her palm, the feeling was like that of one hundred bricks stacked atop each other. Removing another coin from a pouched strapped to his thigh, Rita placed it on the palm of Emyria’s other hand. Another agonizing scream echoed out from Emyria’s mouth as she became unable to move her arms even an inch.Bookmark here

“Emyria!”Bookmark here

“Hehe. She’s a screamer.”Bookmark here

“Rita, when I get—”Bookmark here

“Hehe. You keep saying that, but I don’t see how you will do that.”Bookmark here

Rita grabbed another coin from the pouch under his skirt.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Now where to place this one,” he mused as he licked the coin.Bookmark here

Holding the coin with the tips of his fingers, Rita smiled sadistically as he traced his free hand down Emyria’s body.Bookmark here

“Hehe. It’s truly a shame you’re not younger. You would be so great to use as a toy.”Bookmark here

“You make me sick.”Bookmark here

“Hehe. Guess this coin goes in the butt.”Bookmark here

“Or I can stick it straight in yours.”Bookmark here

The sudden voice from behind him threw Rita off as he looked for only a second. In that moment, he felt a bone shattering right hook to his jaw. Like a rag doll, he flew across the room, and into the wall.Bookmark here

“Miss Feldia!”Bookmark here

“Took you look enough, Feldia,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

“I’m old. You can’t blame me for that.”Bookmark here

Feldia grabbed both coins, and scanned the battlefield around her. Seeing Aystaria’s sword on the ground near her, Feldia stomped on the hilt of the blade. The forced was enough to send the sword airborne, and grab the hilt. Using the sword like a throwing dart, Feldia planted the tip of the blade precisely at the chain that held Aystaria’s right arm in place. In a split second, the chain broke free from the wall as Aystaria grabbed her sword, and freed her other arm—followed by her legs.Bookmark here

The anger on Rita’s face showed as he bit down onto his teeth, grinding them like an angry child. Rushing over to Emyria, Aystaria removed the coins, and placed them in the small pouch around her leg.Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, Emyria, you’re okay now.”Bookmark here

“I’m sorry I couldn’t beat him.”Bookmark here

“It’s okay, you did very well. Now stay here, and let us handle him,” Aystaria said with a cheerful expression.Bookmark here

Aystaria stood to her feet, and made her way to Feldia’s side.Bookmark here

“So, we killing him?” Feldia asked.Bookmark here

“Oh no, that would be far to easy. He needs to suffer,” Aystaria’s said as her happy expression contradicted her intentions.Bookmark here

#Bookmark here

The thunderous sounds of a skull hitting a brick forced a blast wave to incite a large dust of debris as fresh blood smeared down the wall. Feldia held Rita’s skull firmly in place as she looked over to Aystaria.Bookmark here

“So, anything else you want me to rip off?”Bookmark here

“No, no. Just his arms.”Bookmark here

“Hehe. You know I can’t feel pain, right?”Bookmark here

“Don’t worry, you’re not going to feel pain,” Aystaria said with a smile.Bookmark here

Grabbing him by the hair, Aystaria dragged Rita to a nearby room, and closed the door. Emyria sat in the wooden chair near the table as she wondered what Aystaria was going to do to him. She recalled that Aystaria had said Feldia was benevolent, but she was unsure as to how Aystaria was when it came to inflecting punishments.Bookmark here

“You’re curious about what Aystaria is going to do to him, aren’t you?”Bookmark here

“I think I’m afraid to find out.”Bookmark here

“You should be. Of all the torture methods I’ve been subjected to, Aystaria’s were always the worst. She is truly twisted, more so than Rita.”Bookmark here

As Emyria listened in, she could hear Rita starting to beg for his life.Bookmark here

“W-Wait… Aystaria? W-What are you doing…”Bookmark here

“Oh sweet Rita, just relax. It won’t hurt.”Bookmark here

“D-Don’t stick that in there!”Bookmark here

Loud echoing moans rang out as Rita’s voice reached a level of feminine that would have made many question their sexuality. Many minutes passed until Aystaria returned with a small vial of white liquid, and the happiest expression on her face.Bookmark here

“Got a new drink for you to try, Feldia. You love exotic things, right?” Aystaria asked as she handed the vial over to Feldia.Bookmark here

“Oh, lovely.”Bookmark here

Feldia downed the drink in one sip as she mauled over the taste for a second.Bookmark here

“That is some heavy cream. Thick but condensed in a way that is flavorful. It’s surprisingly not bad.”Bookmark here

“Hey, you should have saved some for me,” Aystaria said as she giggled cheerfully.Bookmark here

“What… is that?” Emyria asked.Bookmark here

“You want to try it?” Feldia asked as she handed the vial back to Aystaria.Bookmark here

“I… you know what? No thanks. I’m good.”Bookmark here

Aystaria returned to the room, as the sound Rita’s begging voice could be heard.Bookmark here

“A-Aystaria please don’t do—”Bookmark here

A loud moan that sounded of pleasure, and pain rang out. As Emyria heard the exchange from beyond the door, her face turned a bright cheery red color.Bookmark here

“Aystaria!”Bookmark here

“Out with it or it’s going in deeper.”Bookmark here

“N-No!”Bookmark here

Emyria turned to Feldia.Bookmark here

“I’m scared now…”Bookmark here

“Be glad she likes you.”Bookmark here

Before Emyria could ask a follow up question, the howls of Rita’s voice rang out louder than before.Bookmark here

“Hehe. Good boy.”Bookmark here

Aystaria’s voice sounded playfully before she exited the room with another vial of white liquid.Bookmark here

“You should get more vials. I could take some with me,” Feldia said as she watched Aystaria down the whole vial.Bookmark here

“Hmm. That is thick, and creamy.”Bookmark here

“You got a bit on your mouth, just there,” Feldia said as she pointed to the spot.Bookmark here

Using her tongue to clean the area clean, Aystaria smiled as she looked over to Emyria.Bookmark here

“So, how are you holding up?”Bookmark here

“I have… many questions. Other than that, I’m great.”Bookmark here

Sitting down on the wooden table, Aystaria rubbed her feet together as she hummed a tune with a cheery tone.Bookmark here

“Feldia, do you think it’s time?”Bookmark here

“I suppose. It’s your call in the end though.”Bookmark here

Aystaria hugged one leg to her chest, and lean her cheek against her knee as she smiled at Emyria.Bookmark here

“How about it, Emyria? Would you like to hear the true story of Aystaria Pynn?”Bookmark here

Before Emyria could speak, Rita’s voice rang out from beyond the door.Bookmark here

“A-Aystaria…”Bookmark here

“Quiet Rita, otherwise I’ll come back in there for more,” Aystaria said as she giggled in cutesy tone.Bookmark here

“I’ll keep him quiet,” Feldia said with a devilish smile.Bookmark here

As Emyria watched Feldia enter the room, she could hear the conversation taking place.Bookmark here

“F-Feldia…”Bookmark here

“Rita, you’ve been a bad boy. So, I get to make sure you stay quiet.”Bookmark here

“W-What you doing—”Bookmark here

The muffled voice of Rita’s words were no longer coherent as Emyria turned back to Aystaria.Bookmark here

“I’ll just ignore all that. Please, tell your story, Aystaria.”Bookmark here

“All right, let’s begin with how I was born.”Bookmark here

Ana Fowl
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