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Part 1

 

I opened my eyes and sighed. Well, it was actually more of a gasp, really. The breath escaping my mouth felt heavy, like it was trapped in my chest for months. After refreshing the insides of my lungs a couple of times I closed my eyes again and carefully massaged my temple for a few seconds. I had a feeling I had a weird dream just a few short moments ago, but when I tried to recall what it was about, it felt like dry sand slipping through my fingers. It was something about rooms and heads and stars or something...

Anyways, after a few short minutes I decided to stop being lazy and I sat up. Since my eyes were already adjusted to the darkness, I quickly found my clock and realized it was past one in the afternoon. Did I sleep in?

“... That sounds subtly wrong,” I muttered under my breath as I was trying to get my rusty brain to start working properly, and after a few seconds of prodding, it finally switched into gear.

Right. That made no sense because I never sleep in. As in, it is logically impossible, since I do not sleep. At all. In the past, I stayed awake for more than a month straight. But if so, then why was I sleeping in my bed anyway and dreaming about star-stuff or something?

The answer came to me with a flash of stinging pain in my abdomen. Right, I remembered. I poked my nose into a climactic fantasy-battle and got an ice-spike shoved into my stomach for my trouble. I cautiously rolled up my pajamas to check the damage. It wasn’t particularly ghastly as far as I could remember, and I received magical emergency treatment, but something like that should have left a mark.

To my sincere surprise, all I found was a single patch of pink skin on my abs. I let out a soft ‘huh’. I supposed magical first aid was even better than I imagined. The spot was a little tender, but considering I had the equivalent of a spear stuck in there not too long ago, my recovery still blew all my expectations out of the water. I allowed myself a satisfied smile before it withered as a new question appeared in my head: I said ’not too long ago’, but for how long was I unconscious?

My first idea was to look the date up on my phone, but I couldn’t find it in arm’s reach. As such, I groggily threw off my blankets and put my legs down the side of the bed. For a moment I felt a little nauseous, probably the blood rushing to my head after lying down for too long, but I still rose to my feet without much of a problem.

First I walked over to the window and opened the curtains, then after a few seconds of thinking I did the same for the actual windows as well. Some fresh air never hurt anyone. Since now the room had better lighting conditions, I looked around again and finally found my phone on my desk. I turned it on, and while the battery was low, it seemed to be in working condition, which was surprising after all the abuse I put it through that night.

Speaking of ’that night’, what was the date again? That was the whole reason I looked for my phone, wasn’t it? After some fumbling, I opened up my calendar and grunted in surprise. It was the 15th of October, meaning I was out cold for; let me see... three days? That wasn’t too bad.

Still, it meant I didn’t take a shower for three days, so I decided to rectify that. It also provided me with a great opportunity to check the rest of my body for scars, so I picked up a clean set of clothes and headed for the bathroom.

My house was incredibly clean, as always. It appeared my theoretical ninja maids worked overtime even while I was unconscious. First I headed for the toilet (for obvious reasons) then I walked over to the bathroom right next to it. There, I stripped down to my underwear and stood in front of the mirror.

My face was smooth without a hint of stubble, which wasn’t surprising. I didn’t have to shave or cut my hair once since I woke up for the first time, so I figured this would be the case. It must have been because of the whole either-simulation-or-a-dream-or-whatever nature of this world, and while I had many discussions about its implications regarding my biology, it was still pretty convenient. I checked my skin and found that, besides the already mentioned pink spot on my stomach, I had a couple of similarly colored scars on my left calf and my left shoulder was a little bruised. Aside from those, I seemed completely fine. I did a few simple warm-up exercises, just to make sure my body was really all right. It was better to be on the safe side about these things.

First I did a few squats, then I leaned forwards to touch my toes, I circled my waist, then my neck, and then finally I stretched my three arms. Everything seemed to be in—

“Three arms...?”

I froze mid-stretching and I slowly loosened my posture. I looked at my right hand. Yep, that was definitely one arm. Same on the other side. Two perfectly normal human arms with perfectly normal human hands topped with perfectly normal human fingers.

“So what the hell is this?”

I waved around my ’third arm’ or whatever, and the longer I did, the more squeamish I felt. I couldn’t see it, either normally or through the mirror, but I was completely aware of its position the same way I could feel where my ’normal’ hands were even when I closed my eyes. I could sense the wind rushing around it, and I could even faintly hear a whistling sound as it cut the air, though the latter part might have been just my imagination. However, it didn’t have any joints. In fact, it felt more like some kind of invisible tentacle rather than an actual human limb. Also, it could pass right through solid objects, such as my actually visible limbs, while delivering a strange sensation akin to my skin being jolted by a mild electric current.

After waving it around a little longer, I realized that it could either stretch a lot, or it didn’t have a spot on my body it actually grew out from, as I could ‘touch’ anything within a roughly two meters wide sphere around me. After a couple of short minutes I finally stopped messing with it and let out a tired groan. This was so typical.

When other people woke up after being asleep for too long, the worst they would find was a bump or scar they couldn’t remember. Me? I wake up with an extra bloody phantom limb! And the saddest part? This probably wouldn’t even break top 5 on my ’weirdest stuff I experienced in the last two months’ list.

Since it didn’t feel like a pressing problem, I decided to temporarily ignore it and enter the shower, but then my ears picked up some sort of commotion coming from the outside. I pulled my underwear back up, and just in time, as a moment later the bathroom door was thrown open with a bang.

“Leo!” Came the panicked cry from the girl standing in the doorway. I let out an unsubtle groan and frowned at her.

“What is it, princess?”

For a few long seconds the familiar blonde girl only opened and closed her mouth repeatedly like a fish out of water. At last, after an embarrassingly long time, she let out one of her customary cutesy cries, covered her beet red face with her hands and hid behind the doorframe. The whole thing felt somewhat nostalgic; she rarely had these kinds of over-the-top reactions anymore. Anyways, at first I thought she might have run away, but a second later she poked her head around the frame while sputtering at record speed.

“S-S-Sorry! I wasn’t peeping! It wasn’t on purpose! I swear on the name of the house of Dracis! It was a completely honest accident and I…” And so on and so forth, her motor-mouth kept making excuses without end.

“Did you find him?” A question interrupted the princess. She glanced back and nodded twice. A moment later the face of Judy, my dear deadpan research assistant, also appeared from behind the doorframe. She gave me an outwardly expressionless look-over, though from the way the corner of her eyes twitched and her cheeks got slightly flushed I figured she was also somewhat flustered. After a long moment of silence, she pointedly cleared her throat and flatly greeted me with, “Good morning, Chief.”

“Back to you,” I answered off-handedly as I directed my frown at her. “So, what exactly are you doing here?”

“We were looking for you,” She answered immediately without averting her eyes.

“Y-Yes!” The princess nodded repeatedly, and it only just registered with me that instead of her usual ringlets, she now wore her long hair loose. It was a refreshing look that suited her just as well, but more importantly, she started sputtering again. “We went to your room to check your condition, but you were gone and the window was open, so we thought you were kidnapped! I didn’t barge in to peep, I was just worried! I swear!”

“… You know, I would have an easier time believing you if you would stop peeking through your fingers.”

The princess blinked in incomprehension, but after a few seconds she let out another cutesy yelp and she once again disappeared behind the doorframe. I shook my head and returned my attention to the other girl, who in the meantime came into the bathroom and was earnestly observing my abdomen.

“Does it hurt?” She asked while poking at the tender scar on my stomach. I let out a hiss, more in surprise than in pain, but she immediately retracted her hand like she was touching fire.

“Only when you poke it,” I answered ruefully as I rubbed the spot.

“Sorry,” She apologized flatly, but I have known her well enough to understand that she was genuinely regretful.

“Hey!” The princess once again poked her head through the door and she blindly reached out for Judy, as her other hand was firmly clamped over her eyes. After a few misses, she finally managed to grab hold of the back of her blouse and firmly tugged on it. “No touching! We had an agreement!”

“What agreement?” I asked reflexively.

“You don’t have to worry about that,” My assistant answered just as quickly as she looked me over again, completely ignoring the other girl pulling on her, and ultimately she asked, “Are you all right?”

“Mostly.”

“Does it hurt anywhere?”

“As we already established, only when people poke me.”

“So you don’t need help for washing yourself?”

“No, I’m fine.”

“… Are you sure?”

At this point, the princess grabbed hold of Judy with her other hand as well and she tugged on her hard. She lost her balance, and before I could do anything they both tumbled backwards and fell on their butts by the door.

“Ow!” The princess whined while rubbing her hip, but then a moment later she raised her hand and pointed an accusatory finger at my assistant while still sitting in place. “Stop right there! You cannot offer such l-lewd services! It’s against the agreement!”

“Lewd?” I asked while trying to raise only one of my eyebrows. It was harder than one would think. Anyways, was she talking about Judy’s offer to help me wash myself? I’d say that was a fairly innocent thing to ask from someone who recently got bitten by a monster, fell off a roof and then got skewered by an ice spear. But then again, the princess was always easily embarrassed, so maybe she read something into it.

Anyways, at this point I subtly rolled my eyes and said, “I would like to have a shower now, if you don’t mind,” and closed the door. I could hear some kind of scuffle from the other side, and the princess repeatedly complaining about some kind of agreement, but I decided to ignore them and whatever love-comedy antics they were up to, even if just for a little while.

 

Part 2

 

“How’s the tea?”

“It’s good, thank you,” I answered before taking another sip from the cup in front of me. I savored the taste as I leaned back in my favorite comfy sofa in the living room, then I breathed out in satisfaction and glanced at the young woman in a French-maid outfit standing beside me. “By the way, what exactly are you doing here?”

“I am looking after Lady Eleanor, naturally,” Melinda, the princess’ chamber-maid, answered with a mild-mannered smile. “Meister von Fraenir decided it was improper for our lady to spend the night over without supervision.”

“I see,” I nodded before turning my attention towards the lady in question. “Speaking of which, what are you doing here?”

“I was here to look after you,” The princess answered with a slight pout, like I just asked something stupid.

“So was I,” Judy added while repeatedly blowing on the cup of tea she held in both hands.

“Which reminds me, just how did you even get into my house?” The moment I asked the question, I noticed that the princess immediately and pointedly averted her eyes. I gave her a scrutinizing look, which only made her act even more forcedly nonchalant. “… You know, if you are acting that innocent, it only makes you look even more suspicious.”

“H-Huh?” She turned back to me with an astounded expression. “Really?”

I nodded and told her, “Yes. So, do you have something you want to tell me?”

After a bit of fidgeting, she gave me a pitiful smile.

“Ehehe… Y-You see, I might have been a little spooked at the time, so when we couldn’t open the door I… I broke the lock a little.”

“You did what?” I raised my voice, and she immediately began waving her hands defensively.

“B-But we fixed it! I mean, Ammy fixed it! With magic! It’s as good as new! No, it’s even better!”

I kept frowning at her for a while, but at last I let out an exhausted breath and took another sip from my cup instead.

“Fine. I’ll let that slide. I will also not ask how you can break a lock only a little, but I cannot ignore how you are still ignoring my original question. What are you doing inside my house, on a school day?”

There was a short silence, but probably only because Judy was finishing up her tea. After she did that, she placed it onto the table with a barely audible clank and she took out her familiar pink smartphone from her pocket. A moment later my phone on the table let out a jaunty little tune, so I picked right up, then I opened up the messaging app and accepted the attachment.

“What’s this?”

“My report. It will explain why we are here.”

“Oh?” I quickly skimmed through the text file and nodded in approval. “You are diligent as ever.”

“Of course,” She nodded with the closest thing to a proud smile her face could produce and then added. “I want back pay.”

“Back pay?”

“For the last three days.”

“… Still in sandwiches?” She nodded, and I could only sigh at her eccentricities. “Fine, my treat as usual. As for this,” I paused and shook the phone in my hand while pointing at the screen. “Could you give me a moment?"

“Sure.”

“So, let’s see…" I subtly glanced around the room for a second, then I began scrolling through the file while holding the phone close to my chest. "According to your report, after we left the purple zone I collapsed. Angie applied healing magic to my wounds, but since I didn’t regain consciousness, you took me home.”

“Yes,” The princess nodded.

“Why not the hospital?”

“It would have been hard to explain where you got your injuries,” Judy supplied the answer.

“Oh, and they were half-healed too!” The princess added in a hurry, desperate to contribute to the conversation. “It would have been impossible to explain those.”

“I see,” I spoke half-heartedly before I returned to the text. “So you took me home, where I was put to rest. I stayed unconscious until just this morning, and you two stayed over to watch over me.”

“Indeed!” The princess stated proudly, for some reason.

“Did I really need guarding?”

“Yes,” Judy stated emphatically. “Amelia said that the mages would suppress any information about what happened in the Restricted Space, but some people might still try to take advantage of the situation and try to kidnap you.”

“You already said that when you barged in on me in the bathroom,” When I said that, the princess flushed red to her ears, but I ignored her and continued, “But who would kidnap me? The Abyssals are gone, aren’t they?”

“Not all of them,” Judy stated, and it took me a moment to catch onto her meaning.

“Speaking of which, how’s Snowy?” The three women in the room sent meaningful glances at each other, immediately raising the warning flags in my head. “Is she all right?”

“We don’t know,” Judy answered dryly. “After she woke up she ran away and we couldn’t find her.”

“Judy!” The princess hissed while glaring at my assistant, then whispered, “We agreed not to tell him yet!”

“I can hear you,” I muttered, but I got totally ignored as Judy shrugged her shoulders.

“The chief would find out in no time anyway. I told you.”

“But he is still injured! What if he tries to find her and gets into a stupidly dangerous situation again!” The blonde girl whispered in a still clearly audible voice.

“I said, I can hear you,” I told her again, this time a little more forcefully, but I was still ignored, so while they continued arguing I simply closed my eyes and slipped into Far Sight.

My extra-sensory ability, which I still didn’t completely grasp due to my lack of understanding in regards to magic in this world, quickly found purchase on the red dot in the distance. After a split-second, I could feel my vision blur, as if I was being dragged across space itself, through walls and everything, and after another split-second, I found my disembodied consciousness in a small room.

It was a tidy place, a fairly high-class hotel bedroom by the looks of it. It seemed subtly familiar, and after looking at the décor for a while I finally recognized it. I saw it in a previous Far Sight session, when I spied on Snowy’s brother while he ordered my assassination. For a moment I had to wonder just how messed up my life became that I could say something like that with a straight face, but I didn’t dwell too long on it. Instead my attention returned to the room in question and looked around again.

The curtains were closed, but I could still make out the shape of a human body sleeping in a fetal position on the large bed. She had several layers of blankets piled on her, so only her head could be seen, but it was obviously Snowy. Her pure white hair was hard to mistake. Her sleep seemed to be somewhat shallow, as she tossed and turned around twice during the time I studied her. At first I thought I might have woken her, but then I remembered that I could only observe things like this. Speaking of which, spying on a sleeping girl longer than absolutely necessary was rude, so with a flick of my mind (don’t ask me how that worked, it just did) I was back in my body.

I opened my eyes and beheld the two girls in front of me, still glaring at each other. Well, okay, in Judy’s case it was more of a tiny frown, but considering it was on her normally deadpan face, I judged it had about the same severity as the princess’ scowl. I let out a long breath and reached out for the teacup on the table, which got refilled during my time out. I gave an appreciative nod to Melinda on the side, then I took a sip and cleared my throat.

“I'm sure she is fine for the time being, so don't worry, I won't rush out the door and get into any ‘stupidly dangerous situations’ just yet.”

The princess twitched and gave me a skeptical look, ignoring the way I threw her words back at her, before muttering a similarly critical, “How do you know that?”

Before I could answer, Judy let out a satisfied huff and answered in my stead, “I told you he would figure it out in a moment.”

“But why is he so certain about…?”

I cleared my throat again, this time a bit harder.

“Excuse me; I am still in the room. Stop talking about me in the third person.” To my sincere surprise, not only the princess, but Judy had fallen into a sheepish silence as well. I shook my head and continued with, “So you two have been keeping an eye on me because you thought she might try to kidnap me? Really?”

“Technically I was only keeping an eye on Eleanor,” My assistant raised an objection.

“Hey! What is that supposed to mean?!” The princess flared up again and pointed an accusatory finger at the other girl. “If anything, I was the one who had to stop you from u-undressing him all the time!”

“I was only wiping his sweat,” Judy retorted with the frown back on her face.

I let out a long sigh and gestured for the maid to get closer.

“Were they like this all the time while I was asleep?”

Melinda pondered for a moment before she showed me one of her businesslike smiles and whispered, “Milady and Miss Judy actually get along very well.” After a moment of pause, she leaned a little closer and added, “I believe they are only expressing their relief this way.”

“I see… I think.”

She gave me another smile that felt maybe just a little bit mischievous. I have never seen this side of her, though to be fair, I only met her a couple of times in the past. It was oddly refreshing. Anyways, I cleared my throat for the third time and waited for the two girls’ attention to return to me.

“So, back to the report and what happened while I was out cold. Where are the others?”

“Amelia was only lightly injured, so she is already back at the school,” Judy answered after sending one last pointed glance at the other girl. “The last time we talked, she said she was writing official reports about the incident.”

“I see. Now that you mention injuries, what is my cover story?”

The two of them blanked out on me for a moment, but then the princess quickly spoke before Judy could answer, apparently still desperate to be a part of the conversation.

“We said you had the flu!” After noticing how loud she was, she toned her voice back a little and repeated, “We told them we had the flu.”

“We?”

“You, me, Judy, Josh, and Angie,” The princess spoke while counting on her fingers in a surprisingly cute display.

“So I was out, you two were keeping watch, Snowy is in hiding and…” I paused for a moment as I scrolled through the text file before glancing up in surprise. "She is under house arrest?" The two nodded in unison. “By the mages?" They nodded again, and I let out a troubled breath. "Another thing to fix. Great. … What about Josh?"

“You should ask him,” My assistant stated, earning a raised brow from me. She turned her phone towards me and added, “I messaged everyone that you got better. He said he is coming over.”

I wanted to ask ‘when?’, but then I remembered I had a better way to learn these things as I swiftly entered into the first stage of Far Sight, the ‘radar mode’ in which I could sense the distance of people I could observe. To my surprise, I found Josh’s ‘dot’ coming over at a very high speed, and when I got out of my trance, I could already recognize the sound of his moped.

I stood up without any further ado and walked up to the front door while in the crossfire of the confused gazes of the other people in the room. I stood there for several long seconds, but just as the princess was about to finally break the ice and ask me what I was doing, I casually opened the door. Unsurprisingly, as per the unwritten laws of convenient timing, Josh was already standing in front of it, one hand raised and balled into a fist in preparation to knock.

I was planning to make this one of those amusing ‘how did you know that’ situations, but my intent flew out the window when I actually saw him. Josh was, frankly speaking, haggard. His short brown hair had a serious case of bed-head and his clothes were strewn over him haphazardly, as if he just put on whatever was at hand. As far as I knew, he did just that. He also had black circles under his eyes, and as our gazes met, he finally let his arm down as his entire body tensed up like a piano-wire about to snap. He took a deep breath and, after relaxing his posture a little, he spoke to me in a hoarse voice.

“Leo, we need to talk.”

I couldn’t help but smile at his overly serious voice as I stood aside and gestured for him to enter.

“Yes, we do.”

 

Part 3

 

There was a heavy silence in my living room. I was sitting in my comfy chair, and since the girls were still on the sofa, we actually had to bring in a wooden chair from the kitchen so that Josh would have a place where he could sit. Once we all got comfortable (well, as comfortable as we could get under the circumstances), I lightly cleared my throat to break the ice.

“So, I guess you want me to explain what the hell is going on, right?” I asked as cordially as I could manage.

“Yes,” Josh nodded, but then his eyes seemed uncertain for a moment and he added, “If you are well enough to talk.”

“Oh, I’m fit as a fiddle,” I told him with a reassuring smile. “Thanks for the concern.”

I was tempted to say he looked worse than I did, but I refrained. In that moment of pause he clasped his hands in his lap and said; “You told me that once I get ‘roped into this mess’, you would finally spill the beans. I think I am very much roped into…” He paused for a moment, raising a hand as if trying to point at something, but in the end he just ended up dropping in back into his lap and he feebly groaned; “Into this weird-ass nightmare.”

“Now, now,” I chided him with a wave of my hand. “It’s not that bad.”

He gave me a flat look and then crossed his arms in front of his chest.

“Dude, I got kidnapped from my own bathroom by a literal demon, I was tied up and gagged with invisible rope, then I was nearly dragged to literal hell until the people I thought were my friends showed up, turned out to be…” He paused again as he looked for the words, but eventually he just let out another groan instead. “The point is, my reality is literally falling apart, and you are telling me it’s ‘not that bad’.”

I ignored the barbs in his voice and answered as evenly as I could manage.

“First off, let me correct a few misconceptions: You were kidnapped by Abyssals, not demons.”

“What’s the difference?”

“I’ll be damned if I know, but apparently there is one,” I answered nonchalantly, which earned me another flat look, which I once again ignored. “Secondly, you were not going to be taken to ‘literal hell’, but the Abyss.”

“Again, what’s the difference?”

“Oh, I can actually answer that: Hell doesn’t exist, but the Abyss does. It’s something like a pocket dimension copy of this island, and it’s something of a prison to the Abyssals. But anyways,” I raised my voice before he could interrupt again, “As for your third misconception; the people who saved you are still very much your friends.”

Josh visibly twitched for a moment. He gave me a dubious look at first, but after a few seconds of silence he slowly exhaled, and I could see the tension leave his body like an overwound spring finally finding release. He closed his eyes for a moment and then gave me a look that was decidedly less dubious.

“I get it,” He said softly. “I’m listening.”

“Good!” I answered with a grin as I leaned forwards. “I’m glad we cleared that up. However…” I stood up at this point and gave a meaningful look to the maid by the couch. “Before we continue, since these are confidential matters that could land Josh in quite the right pickle, I would like to ask everyone not directly related to leave the house.”

After a moment of pause, Melinda cleared her throat.

“I presume that refers to me.”

“Indeed,” I answered.

“Wait!” The princess interrupted with a glare that I haven’t seen on her face in a while. “Melinda is my chambermaid since I was eight! She is completely trustworthy!”

I gave her my best imitation of Josh’s brand of flat looks and shook my head.

“This is not about trustworthiness. While I am sure she would not gossip about what I am about to say, she is still part of the Dracis family.”

“So am I!”

“Yes,” I answered while raising my hands to indicate she should calm down. “However, you are the heiress. You can say no if, say, a nosy old butler told you to expose everything said in this room. She can’t.”

The princess opened her mouth to reply, but before she could say anything, the maid took a step towards the door before she turned on her heels and gave us a small bow.

“I understand. I shall return to the mansion and tell Meister von Fraenir about your recovery.”

I gave her a small smile and an appreciative nod in return.

“Thank you for your cooperation and give my greetings to the old man.”

Melinda returned the nod and then faced the princess.

“Milady, I shall go ahead. I’ll make sure your dinner will be ready by the time you return.”

“Y-yes.” The princess answered by reflex while seemingly dazed by the maid’s decisiveness. I waited for Melinda to grab her bag and leave, and I only let out a pent up breath after I heard the door click.

“Well, that’s one down,” I said as I stood up.

“One down?” Judy repeated after me while looking over us and pointing at the princess. “Do you want her to leave

too?”

“What?” The blonde girl snapped back at her. “If anyone should leave, it’s you!”

“Hush,” I interrupted them while gesturing for them to be quiet, then I walked up to Josh and whispered, “Could you stand up for a moment? I need the chair.”

“Um… sure?” He answered uncertainly as he got on his feet.

I grabbed said chair and, while being followed by three pairs of skeptical eyes, I moved it to the corner of the room. In said corner, just under the ceiling, floated a small, softly glowing green eyeball. Well, not a physical one, that would have been creepy, but more of a magical… something. I was still not certain on the terminology, but I have seen enough magic lately to recognize the glow. It was apparently another unique ability, as others weren’t able to see magic, or at least not the way I could. Either way, the stupid thing has been bothering me for a while, but I couldn’t do anything about it while Melinda was still around. Call me paranoid, but I decided to start playing my cards close to my chest, so the fewer people knew about my unusual abilities, the better, especially since even I didn’t know how they worked.

But I digress. At this point I positioned the chair just under the curiously swiveling translucent eyeball, then using another of my currently still unexplored abilities, I took a deep breath and extended two fingers before I made a quick cutting motion through the eye. There was a numbing tingle on my skin when I made contact, then it faded as my fingers passed through the eyeball, and as they did so, it disintegrated into green smoke. After a few short seconds even that dissipated, with no trace left behind. I let out a pent up breath out and got off the chair, returning it to Josh, who was giving me a weird look.

He wasn’t the only one, as the princess was looking around the room with a strange expression on her face.

“What did you do?” She asked while still fidgeting. “I got goosebumps all of a sudden.”

“Still hush,” I repeated myself, which made her cover her mouth for some reason. I gestured for everyone to stay put, then I left the living room to systematically check every part of the house, which took about ten minutes. The results were two more green magical eyeball things, seven tiny balls of blue fire, a something that looked three oscillating white rings turning around each other like a gyroscope. After I got rid of all of them I returned to the living room and then immediately I fell back onto my comfy chair with a tired sigh.

After a few seconds of awkward silence the princess (who, for some reason, was still covering her mouth) asked the question that seemed to be on all of their minds:

"What were you doing just now?"

I shrugged my shoulders and answered, “I just dispelled some magical surveillance. Or at least I guess that’s what they were.”

“Wait, since when can you do that? And how?”

I raised my palms once again, and after she quieted down, I used them to point at my increasingly confused friend on the chair next to us.

“We will discuss this in detail, but I think we should get Josh up to speed first.” For a moment she looked like she might object, but then she glanced over to Josh and nodded her head. Following that I also turned towards him and clapped my hands to punctuate the change of topics. “Now then, here’s the footnotes version of this whole mess.” I paused for a moment and glanced at Judy before I added, “You may interrupt if I miss something.”

“Mm.” Judy mumbled with a nod while she fished her phone out of her pocket and began poking at it.

“What about me?” The princess interrupted with an indignant frown, but I simply ignored her. “Hey, don’t just ignore me!”

I let out a short sigh and nodded towards her.

“Right, you do that too.” The princess puffed her cheeks in an admittedly adorable display that didn’t really fit her age while mumbling something about not being an afterthought, but by that time I returned my attention to Josh, so I didn’t really pay attention. I took a deep breath and began.

“So, let’s start at the beginning, shall we?” At this point a paused for dramatic effect, but it seemed like my friend didn’t appreciate it, so I continued, “First off, as you might have noticed, there’s a bunch of supernatural stuff in this world. You didn’t notice it, because there is a masquerade in effect.”

“Masquerade?” Josh interrupted as he masterfully raised a single eyebrow. Damn, he made it look so easy. Anyways, back to the exposition:

“Simply put, the supernatural power blocs are trying to keep a low profile because of various reasons. These power blocs are the Magi, the Celestials, the Draconians, and the Abyssals, along with a few minor factions. In detail: The Celestials are definitely-not-angels with a bad reputation for manipulating people. Then we have the Magi, who are bureaucratic magical researcher types who keep the other factions from running amok. Next are the Draconians, who are aristocratic dragon people with more money than common sense.”

“Hey!” At this point, the princess interrupted me with a scowl that was completely ruined by her still puffed cheeks, so I smoothly ignored her once again.

“Now where was I? Oh, right. Finally, we have the Abyssals, who are definitely-not-demons exiled into the Abyss, which as I previously explained, is not hell. Any questions so far?”

Josh immediately raised his hand like we were in school, but caught himself halfway and instead he crossed his arms in front of his chest once more.

“I have one. Draconians can turn into lizard-people, right?”

“It’s called the draconic form,” the princess interjected, still pouting.

Josh uncertainly glanced up at her and then back to me before adding, “What she said.”

“Right. They get scales and horns and tails and the whole package.”

“Like I did that night,” Josh muttered before his eyebrows joined into a frown. “Does that mean that I am a… Draconian too?”

“Right, that’s a good question!” The princess interrupted again, and she finally stopped puffing her cheeks so I could take her seriously. “I wanted to ask about that too!”

I raised my hand and waved at her to calm down before I spoke again.

“No, it is a bit more complicated. Let’s leave that for a little later. First, we have to discuss how this all relates to you.”

“I suppose,” Josh conceded after a bit of grumbling.

“So,” I exclaimed while clapping my hands. “First off, I suppose you already know this, but let’s say it out loud for the sake of clarity: The princess is a Draconian, along with her family and the maid who just vacated the premises. Angie is a Celestial, as you probably already guessed from the wings and all, while the class rep is a Magi. As for Snowy, by process of elimination, she is obviously an Abyssal.”

“And you are?” Josh interrupted me once again.

“I am Leonard Dunning,” I answered reflexively, earning a skeptical look from my friend.

“I know that. I was asking which of these… what did you call them, 'power blokes'? Anyways, which one do you belong to?”

I paused for a moment, ignoring the princess’s intrigued looks, and theatrically rolled my eyes.

“Damned if I know,” I answered with a bit of self-derision. “You of all people should know better than to ask something like that.”

“What are you…?” He began, but then realization dawned on him and he let out a soft ‘oh’ in the end. “Right, I forgot about your… erm… condition.” He finished sheepishly while scratching the back of his neck, only to realize what he was doing and hastily crossing his arms in front of his chest again.

“Condition?” The princess asked with a raised eyebrow of her own, and I quickly brushed her off by muttering:

“It’s irrelevant for now, I will tell you later.”

"You will?" This time the surprised question came from my assistant, but it was her turn to be ignored.

“Anyways!” I raised my voice to get the discussion back on track. “You probably wonder why all of these supernatural people are crowding around you, right? The reason is a prophecy. Or rather, a bunch of vague prophecies that may or may not apply to you.”

“Right, you told me there was more than one,” the princess muttered as she also began looking at me at least as attentively as Josh.

“Yes, it’s as I told you. Each of the factions has a prophecy about Josh. In no particular order: The Draconians have a prophecy about a human restoring the old bloodline, meaning it would allow them to be more like dragons with all the benefits. The Celestials’ prophecy is about their dear leader from a few thousand years ago being reincarnated as a human, coming back and ushering in a new golden age for them. The Abyssals’ prophecy, on the other hand, is about a human who can absorb the power of the Abyss, and in doing so would allow their own dear leader to come back and wage war on the rest of the world again. As for the mages… well, I haven’t asked the class rep yet, so I don’t know, but I would bet they have something similar too.”

“A moment,” Judy abruptly interjected, and a few seconds later my phone let out a jingle again. I glanced at it and then told her with my eyes how she should continue the explanation while I read it. She didn’t seem too thrilled by the idea (or maybe she just couldn’t read eyes), so in the end, I had to do it myself.

“So,” I began after skimming through the text, “According to what my taciturn assistant discovered while I was sleeping from some really old documents in the Dracis library; although they didn't say anything about the mages' prophecy beyond the fact that it exists, we know that the knights with the long name who are the sworn enemies of the Draconians also have a prophecy. It’s about a young man who would pull out some very elaborately named magical sword from some equally magical stone and then go and beat down all the bad, bad dragons. Kinda clichéd, if you ask me, but if that is what’s written there, then that’s the prophecy.”

I put down my phone, only to notice that Josh had raised his hand again. I gave him the go, so he let it down and asked, “So… you say all five of those are about me?”

I involuntarily raised my brows derisively at the question, then I quickly forced my face into neutral gear and chided myself for being insensitive. It should be laudable that Josh could keep up with the conversation so far without freaking out on us, I should not fault him for not yet realizing just how absolutely bonkers this world was. That said, I cleared my throat and answered, “Yes.”

“All of them!?” Surprisingly enough, the question didn’t come from him, but from the princess. “You mean, all of those are really about him?”

“Yes,” I repeat.

“But… they contradict each other!”

“Obviously," I answered with a shrug.

"So… um…" The princess stammered for a while before she gave up. "Okay, so how does that work?"

"Well," I began while focusing on Josh again, "In practice, it means all the prophecies are practically meaningless." Looking at their confused expressions, I slowly shook my head, straightened my back and linked my fingers in my best 'all knowing mastermind' impression. "Listen to me. If there was only one prophecy, then we would have a problem. Prophecies, by nature, tend to throw free will right out the window. If that happened, I would be already working on breaking said prophecy to pieces just on principle." I paused and raised a hand, and then slowly opened it. "However, thankfully we have five prophecies, and at least four of them are contradictory; based on the track record, I guess we can go five out of five. This means that for one of them to be true, four of them have to be wrong." Saying so, I closed my hand in a way that only my index finger remained outstretched. "That means that any single prophecy has an 80% chance of being wrong. At that point, either one of them is as good as complete bunk."

"But…" The princess stammered as she looked at me with a weird expression. "But wouldn't that mean that our prophecy… It's wrong?"

"Wrong? No, not necessary." I told her, which for some reason seemed to immediately reassure her. "Now, when you think of prophecies, you think of ironclad predictions of the future, right? What if we look at them differently?" At this point, I paused for dramatic effect, then continued with, "What if all of those prophecies are just possibilities, and depending on your choices, you can fulfill or avoid any of them?"

"Ah!" Came a soft exclamation from my assistant at the side, then she stated, "They are routes."

"'Routes'?" Josh asked with a proverbial question mark over his head, but I quickly dismissed him with a wave of my hand.

"It's not important, just terminology Judy and I use," I sent a meaningful look the girl in question, but she was too busy taking notes, so she didn't react. After a while I cleared my throat and continued, "So, this actually ties into a previous question. Josh, remember how you turned Draconian that night?"

My fried shuddered and after a momentary pause answered, "How could I forget…"

"Yes, but can you do it now?"

Josh furrowed his brows, then shook his head.

"I have a better question," The princess interrupted us with a raised hand. "How did it happen in the first place?"

"All right, let me explain from the beginning," I said as I reassumed my mastermind pose. "We are clear on the prophecies, right?" Everyone nodded, so I continued. "We are also clear on all of them being bunk, right?" I got another, slightly less enthusiastic nod this time. "However it also means they all have the potential to be true, right?" This time I only got confused looks, so I put extra emphasis on my words. "What I am saying, it that if we presume that Josh can fulfill any of those prophecies, it means he has the pre-requisites to fulfill each one separately. Out of all of them, the one that I could confirm for sure was the Abyssal one. According to Snowy, on your first meeting you showed a reaction when you made physical contact."

Josh visibly twitched at the mention of 'physical contact', but he remained calm enough to ask, "What does that mean?"

"Well, for a start, the Abyssal prophecy said that their own," I paused and made air-quotes with my fingers, "'chosen one' will absorb the power of the Abyss. According to Snowy, that's what happened on your first exchange of bodily fluids. Now, that got me thinking, and while I never had the opportunity to confirm it until the incident, my hunch was right." I paused again, this time not for dramatic effect but to take a huge breath, and then pointed at Josh. "The thing that makes you special is that you can 'absorb' the powers of others. This is the reason why you can fulfill all of their prophecies; so long as you have someone belonging to the supernatural guys next to you supplying you with bodily fluids, you can become one of them, even if temporarily."

"Combat transformation?" My assistant asked as she glanced up from her notes.

"We'll discuss that later" I responded.

"Wait, let me see if I get this straight," Josh interjected. "So I turned into a human dragon because…"

"Because you were given some of the princess' blood."

"So I need to drink their blood to… transform?"

I stifled a snort and shook my head, "You weren't paying attention. Remember how I told you that Snowy knew you were their chosen one by kissing you?"

"So… saliva works too?"

"Apparently, though you probably need a lot more. You didn't transform on the street when you first met Snowy, right?"

"Right, but… what exactly do you mean by 'a lot more'?"

"Probably a French kiss."

"A… French kiss?"

"Yeah, a vigorous one," Seeing that Josh's ears were getting redder by the second, I couldn't help but want to tease him a bit. "So, for example, if you want to get some fancy angel wings and a halo, all you have to do is get Angie, and then—"

"Stop!" Josh exclaimed, cutting me off. His breathing was strangely ragged. "You keep saying 'probably, probably'. Does that mean you don't know for sure? Why is it me?! Why did all of this happen to me in particular?! Why aren't you telling me that?!"

"Well, we never had the chance to actually experiment with your ability to transform, so I don't actually know yet, but…" I began, but then I noticed the severity of the eyes looking at me. "What?"

"Leo," Josh spoke in a quiet but unusually hard voice. "You didn't really know, did you? You didn't even know if this… this 'transformation' would be permanent or not, and yet you gave me Elly's blood!?"

"Well, excuse me!" I raised my voice in response to his accusing tone. "We were in a tight spot, and if I didn't do that, Snowy would be dead right now."

My words hit Josh like a bucket of cold water and he awkwardly averted his gaze, but then his eyes immediately returned to me, accompanied by a question; "Speaking of which, how's Snowy? I haven't seen her since that night."

"She is fine," I told him off-handedly. "She seemed a little rattled, but safe. I'll go and visit her today after we—"

"Hold on for a second!" The princess interrupted me while leaning forward, hands planted firmly on the coffee table between us. "I already asked this, but how do you know that?! You just woke up! Not to mention, you promised you wouldn't go after her!"

"No," I chided her, "I promised I won't do anything stupidly dangerous."

"But—"

"As for how I know, I am going to tell you after we finished discussing things with Josh."

"You will?" Judy inquired incredulously from behind her phone.

"Yes." Judy gave me a weird look, but I refused to elaborate. Instead I turned back to Josh and inquired, "Any other questions?"

 

Part 4

 

As it turned out, Josh had many questions, most of which were still about the very basics of the supernatural part of this wonderful, weird and horribly inconsistent world we lived in, and I tried to answer all of them to the best of my ability. Before we noticed it, the sun was already near the horizon, though it didn't seem to bother the others.

"… So, as I said, I will get Snowy today, and I will look into getting Angie out of house arrest tomorrow. I may ask for your help with the latter, you would probably have a better chance persuading the class rep." I finished recounting my plans to Josh. Maybe it was all too much for him to take in at once, but he actually looked visibly worse than when he first arrived, to the point I was actually worried about his health.

He kept staring at me with a difficult expression, and in the end he let out an audible groan as he began massaging his temple while tentatively asking, "So, what should I do?"

I glanced back at him and told him the first thing that came to mind.

"Get a good night's sleep. You look bad."

"That's not what I meant," He told me with a critical look in his eyes. "You explained a lot of things to me, and you told me what you are planning to do, but I still have no idea what I'm supposed to do! Angels, demons, dragons, prophecies; I don't know what to do with any of this crap!"

I shrugged my shoulder and told him in a slow, even voice, "Okay, then here are some basic instructions: First, go home, take a hot bath and get some shuteye. The Abyssals are out of town, the mages are neutral, the Draconians won't bother you because of the princess, and the Celestials are…" I paused for a moment and peeked at Judy. She noticed my gaze, and after a moment she shook her head, so I let out a small sigh and told Josh, "The Celestials are none the wiser for the moment. You should be safe. Go home, calm down, and sleep. I am not going to repeat myself, but I will try to get everyone together tomorrow and we will come up with a plan together, okay?"

Josh still looked wary, but ultimately he hung his head and told me, "Fine. I really feel like crap, to be honest..." He looked up and stared at me for a few seconds, then he added, "Leo, can I trust you to keep me in the loop?"

"Of course. You are the center of the loop, it would be impossible to keep you out at this point."

Josh let out a derisive chuckle in response and said, "You are not making me feel any better, man."

"But a good night's sleep will."

"I suppose…" Saying so, he wearily stood up from his chair and stretched his back. I followed suit and walked over to him. After a moment of thinking, he seemed to reach some kind of decision and offered a hand to me. "I didn't actually thank you for saving my skin back there. Thanks."

"You are welcome," I told him as I accepted the offered hand and shook it. "I will have your back in the future as well."

"That's… Huh." My friend raised a surprised eyebrow let out a dry chuckle. "You know, that's actually very reassuring."

I couldn't help but smile at his response.

"Thanks for the vote of confidence." After saying so, I waved for the girls to remain seated (not that it seemed like they wanted to go anywhere) and I led Josh to the entrance of the house. Once we were outside (and I made sure there were no magical eyeballs peeping on us, which was somewhat surprising), I patted him on the shoulder and told him. "Don't worry, things are not as complicated as they first seem."

He didn't answer at first, but then he looked behind me as if to check if the girls were in earshot before he asked, "Leo, why didn't you tell me about this ahead of time?"

"I had my reasons," I told him, then I immediately shook my head and added, "You probably wouldn't have believed me anyway."

"I might have," He answered with a huff. "It would have at least prepared me."

"Trust me Josh, I knew about this for two weeks, and I still wasn't prepared."

My words got a surprised frown out of my friend and he looked me over with dubious eyes.

"Did you just say 'two weeks'?"

"Yup."

"… And you figured all of this crazy stuff out in just two weeks?"

"What can I say, I've been busy. I also had Judy help me." As I said that, I glanced back into the house and then my shoulders sank a little. "Speaking of which, I have to sit down and talk with her. The princess too."

"About what?"

I fell silent for a few seconds, debating whether I should tell him or not, but considering the cat would be out of the bag very soon, I decided to come clean.

"About our relationship and stuff."

Hearing my mumbling, the corners of Josh's lips finally rose a little as he shook his head. "You know what? I'm glad that, even when my entire world turns upside down, there is at least one fixed point that never changes."

"Me?" I ventured a guess.

"You," Josh nodded, and then he added, "and your womanizing."

I was tempted to punch my smirking friend in the shoulder, but considering how exhausted he looked, I was afraid he would keel over, so I just pointedly shut the door on him, earning me a displeased 'Hey!' from the other side. I didn't care though, as I turned on my heel and marched back into the living room, where my assistant and the princess were sitting still like mannequins. For a moment I thought they might have overheard what I was saying to Josh, but then again, the princess was way too calm for that. Ultimately, I walked over to my usual comfy chair and sat down with a quiet sigh.

"So," I spoke up with a slightly awkward voice, "It's just the three of us now."

"Yes," Judy nodded and then raised her phone, "Chief, about the prophecies being routes—"

"Not now, Dormouse," I interrupted her, causing her to twitch and for the princess to raise a curious eyebrow.

"Dormouse?" She asked incredulously, earning a slight squint (translation: bone-chilling glare) from my assistant, which was then subsequently aimed at me.

"Chief, I thought we agreed you wouldn't call me that in public."

"We are not in public," I told her flatly while I gestured for her to calm down. Initially it didn't seem to work, but then she softly clicked her tongue, which I decided to interpret as her taking a step back. I took a deep breath in turn and looked the two girls in the eye (though not at the same time, that would have been hard) before I spoke again; "Since it's just the three of us, I wanted to have a serious talk with you two."

The princess inaudibly swallowed before as she linked her fingers in her lap and insecurely asked, "About… what happened at the school?"

I shook my head.

"No, it's about the three of us." The moment I said that, the air suddenly became heavier in the room, so I lightly cleared my throat and continued with, "You know, I just went through a near-death experience, right? I… would like to say it opened my eyes to certain things, but the truth of the matter is that I have been aware of our ambiguous relationship for a while."

"You mean our love triangle," Judy stated expressionlessly, earning a small gasp from the princess and a silent chuckle from me.

"That's right."

My assistant tilted her head to the side and, with some actually perceptible concern in her voice, asked; "Chief, are you all right?"

"Yes. Why?"

"You are unusually…" She paused while looking for the right word, then finally uttered, "… blunt."

I gave her a wry smile and told her, "As I said, while my near death experience didn't give me any sort of last-second revelation, it did put some things into perspective." I once again paused, partially to change my posture, but mostly just to steel my nerves. "Listen. Things are going to get hectic from now on. More dangerous too. I am 90% sure that once they learn about Josh, the supernatural power blocs will start moving. Chances are, it is going to affect our everyday lives, and to be frank, I believe we simply won't have the time to entertain any more 'love triangle shenanigans' in the future. So, I decided to deal with it right here, right now."

"W-W-Wait! This is too sudden!" The princess raised her voice in protest, so I turned toward her first.

"Elly?" The previously blushing princess suddenly went deadly pale, prompting a confused 'What?' from me.

"When-whenever you call me by name, something big happens! I'm not prepared!"

"Calm down, calm down. I just want you to answer a simple question: Do you remember what you told me on the rooftop back then?" She cautiously nodded towards me, so I continued, "Have your feelings changed?"

There was a long moment of silence before the princess sharply inhaled and sputtered, "No! If anything, I like you even more!"

As if only just realizing what she said, her face contorted and she immediately hid it in her hands. She couldn't see it, but I gave her a toothy smile and said, "I'm glad to hear that," which made her shudder like someone poked her side.

"So, Judy?" I turned to my assistant, and to my surprise, she also twitched a little. "Correct me if I am wrong, but based on aaaaaaaall the clues you have been giving me since pretty much the first day we met, can I venture a guess and say that there is a slight chance that you might like me?"

Judy looked me in the eye for a few seconds, then she let out a decidedly defeated sigh, only to immediately snap back into a determined expression.

"Yes chief, I like you." She told me with a firm voice and a tiny, barely perceptible blush. "A lot."

"I am glad to hear that," I told her with a smile just as toothy as the one I gave to the princess before I closed my eyes and took a huge breath. Now came the hard part. I calmed my nerves and slowly exhaled, then I stated, "I am also glad we are on the same page. I also like both of you."

"You do?" The princess asked with a frankly incredulous expression.

"Of course. Why else would I spend so much time with you two?"

"For the research?" Judy asked in a low voice, and I promptly shook my head.

"That's a separate thing," I told her. "The truth is, through all our misadventures since this school term started, I grew to like both of you for different reasons. I didn't want to move our relationship forward because of the circumstances, but as I said, I do not think I will have the luxury to stay indecisive any longer." I was also getting really annoyed by the others thinking I was either a Casanova-wannabe or some dense idiot, but I didn't spell that out for them. "So, after some thinking, I decided it would be best if we actually made things official." I flashed them my winningest smile and finally asked, "So, would you like to go out with me?"

The silence that followed my question was deafening, and the two girls in front of me were slowly alternating their glances between me and each other. Finally, after close to ten seconds, Judy broke the ice.

"Chief… Which one of us were you asking?"

I gave her a look that implied it was a silly question and answered, "Both of you."

"Both of us?!" The princess exclaimed so loud it almost hurt my ears, while Judy only looked at me uncomprehendingly for a second before there was a glint in her eyes.

"Chief, are you aiming for a harem?"

"No, just you two."

"So an OTT?"

"Erm… Please elaborate. What does that stand for?"

"One true threesome," Judy stated, earning another exclamation from the princess before she slouched down like a puppet with its strings cut.

"Yeah, you can say that." I tried to appear as confident as I could, and then asked the big question; "So, what is your answer?"

Judy gave me a hard look and answered, "Chief, that could—"

"That could actually work!" To our sincerest surprise, it was the princess' sudden exclamation that interrupted Judy as she stood up with sparkling eyes. "Why didn't I think of it before!?"

"Um… Elly, are you—?" I began, but then this time it was me who got interrupted as the princess rushed over to my side and grabbed hold of my hand.

"Leo, listen! There is actually an old tradition in the Dracis family, where the head of the family can have multiple lovers! It's to uphold the bloodline, but if I asked dad, I'm sure he would allow it!" All of a sudden she sat down onto the arm-rest of my comfy chair and linked her arm with mine. "I never really considered it before, but this way I could be the official wife, and Judy could be the concubine! Everyone wins!"

"Hey!" My assistant suddenly exclaimed as she also walked over and grabbed hold of my other arm. "What makes you think I will let you be the official wife?"

The princess leaned forward and glared at Judy.

"Of course I will be the main wife! It's my family's rules!"

"Chief, Eleanor is trying to use her family to get ahead. It's cheating."

"No, it's not!" The princess protested. "This is the best way!"

"I don't like it," Judy said with a barely noticeable pout while holding onto my arm even harder. "If you want us to go with your plan, I let you be the concubine."

"Leo! Judy is being obstinate, do something!"

I glanced at the two girls dragging me back and forth and let out a small groan. Well, I suppose that's as far as avoiding love triangle shenanigans went, huh? Oh well, it was my decision to do it this way, so it was my responsibility to deal with situations like these. That said, I smoothly disentangled my arms and grabbed both girls by their waists, abruptly pulling them towards me until they ended up practically sitting on my lap.

"So," I told them with a smile I hoped wasn't too impish, "I gather you are fine with my suggestion?"

The two of them looked at each other for a few seconds, seemingly engaging in that weird, female only communication that seemed to be able to get complex ideas across using eyebrow-movement and small grimaces, until Judy finally exhaled and told me, "It's the prisoner's dilemma all over again."

"Yeah," The princess nodded. "With the super-something of the coin, right?"

"No, it's the other half, though it still has nothing to do with the actual prisoner's dilemma," I grumbled.

"Semantics," Judy scoffed at my objection before she softly said, "I suppose it's an adequate solution, considering the circumstances.

"Right," The princess nodded in agreement.

"All right then," I spoke with palpable relief, now that this ordeal was behind me, and I went ahead and used my already in-position hands to pull the two even closer into a bear-hug. "Let's all get along, shall we?"

"Sure," Judy said with barely reddened cheeks, then after a moment she turned towards the other girl. "First things first, we should figure out a rotation."

"A what?" The blonde girl asked while cocking her head to the side.

"A rotation of when we can have the Chief all to ourselves, and when we should share him."

"Oh," The princess' eyes practically sparkled as she nodded. "Great idea. What about the cooking?"

"We should schedule that too."

"Today is mine!" The princess exclaimed.

"No, today I will cook," Judy stated empathically. "The Chief is recovering, so he needs something simple."

"Hey! I can make simple dishes too!"

I glanced between the two bickering girls sitting on my lap, and I couldn't help but feel that I might have bitten off more than I could chew… but at the same time, I felt that if I forced myself to pick one or the other, I would have ended up unsatisfied and would have regretted it in the long run. My life was already messed up beyond belief, so this polyamory or polygamy or whatever situation didn't even feel like that big of a deal. Most importantly though, while I felt tired, mentally exhausted and increasingly irritated, I was also strangely content. Giddy, even. As such, I simply let my lips curl into a smile that I hoped wasn't too dopey and continued to hug both my girlfriends until they figured out their 'rotation' and whatnot…

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A note from Egathentale

Okay, I am not going to lie, I am a little worried about your reaction to this resolution to the love triangle, but I will say this: I am doing a thing here, so wait for a little longer before you pass judgment on it.

On another note, since some of you have been pestering me about it quite a bit, I decided to give in and relax my stance on Patreon releases ahead of schedule. For details, check my Patreon page, I should hammer out the kinks and the tiers by the weekend.


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Egathentale

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redria7 @redria7 ago

Hype!

Oh no. Oh no. 

There is no way this can end poorly at all. Theatrics aside, I’m not sure how well a threesome like this might work if the girls don’t seem to have much interest in each other. Of course our hero is (probably) some sort of god figure trapped in a simulation so it will work out somehow. (My bet for the grand plot twist is that he isn’t the person being discussed in the prologues, but an extra party!)

    craxuan @craxuan ago

    You're not sure? Go read the Millennium series, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo until The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets' Nest. Also, the biggest lie you can tell yourself in life is that something is impossible.

    TheMon @TheMon ago

    I got the same suspicion about the prologue discussions. I also bet that Judy isn’t normal, plot twist, she really is a robot or some other form of AI.

    Also, I’ve been waiting for the alien girl to show up, oh, and don’t forget the ‘boob-armor-knight-girl’ and the animal girl (cat girl, wolf girl, etc...).

      The Critic @The Critic ago

      Maybe Judy is the other free actor? Or similar, because we are pretty sure she was a placeholder at some point - maybe she found a way to break out of it? Or maybe Josh is. Right now, I don't know what I should think.

      Anyway, thanks for the chapter!

Cheschire @Cheschire ago

Love! Good job!

The resolution of the love triangle considering characters, the universe and the way you write, feels perfectly fine to me. It's way better than dragging things off.

The multiple wifes Dragon thing could be attributed to the universe rewriting itself to fit our MC.

After all, I feel like our MC is stealing (narratively speaking) the limelight from the true(?) MC Josh. After all, his (not at all) flirting seems to bring the cover (harem girls) to him, starting with our draconian lady.

Thx for chap

    Plastic
    Premium

    Plastic @Plastic ago

    Perhaps his emerging powers (spiritual hand, claravoyance) are a sign on him assimilating into the story. He might start to lose other things though, like the inconsistant ability to phase through objects and not needing sleep.

      Cheschire @Cheschire ago

      Yeah, might be possible. For now, I don't see anything going this way, but it's not impossible. The easiness with which he is handling weapon makes me think he might be from the knight order thus being an important character and discovering other power linked to his (for now) unknown background.

      But every power (spiritual hand, clairvoyance, blink, no sleep) seems directly linked to the fact that this is a simulation of some kind. The question is, does the power come from himself and what he really is (the red sun) or does anybody outside the simulation can do things like this (some kind of console command access) if they get in.

Swooce @Swooce ago

Oh bruh, thank you for posting this. I am very, very glad that you took a decisive stand on Leo's relationship with Princess and Judy. I don't think I've seen such a thing before, and certainly not recently, so I greatly admire your courage. I stand behind you all the way, please keep the chapters flowing!

x89rt @x89rt ago

"The princess and her maid's intrigued looks"

Maid was already gone so it would just be the princess and possibly Judy.

dmitril @dmitril ago

As expected, you are getting those 0.5s soon.. Funny they wont make much difference at all soon :)

Oninomad @Oninomad ago

First I headed for the toilet (for obvious reasons)

Finally confirmation that he does that!

    Misery's End @Misery's End ago

    Think it was mentioned before as a passing comment. But it does make sense. If food goes in, he at the least will also have to spend time to make a few deposits.

      Oninomad @Oninomad ago

      And yet is almost every game where you can eat you don't poo, there was always the chance the reason he didn't sleep was this is a simulation and they never bothered with the mechanic (still possible but if they bothered with poo it's unlikely they'd leave out sleep)

Lokumi @Lokumi ago

I generally don't like harem since it's most of time the MC collecting token wife, but here we saw a development on the part of both MC and the girls do it's okay I think.

Thanks for the chapter

    Misery's End @Misery's End ago

    There has been a few decent harems that I've found over the years. A couple of them are here on RRL as well

      Lokumi @Lokumi ago

      I avoid the tag Harem like a plague, be it on nu or RRL so I wouldn't know, any good one to give ?

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      RRL

      • The obvious one The Arcane Emperor though it's more a love triangle u less you count the sister, the elder goddess, and Gunther (which I dont, least for now)
      • Next up is Altos Imperium so far we've got two very fleshed out confirmed, a very fleshed out in the works, and two possibilities that may or may not join. Well one if more a possible foreshadowing and the other is just an assumption that might never be xD But the three mentioned above are close to the MC, and have well defined personalities and backstories.

      Original novel, but not on RRL

      • (R18, Smut warning) Three Square Meals umm.... yeah space opera with lots of interactions with his harem.. suprisingly fleshed out characters, though it is starting to struggle under the number of women involved... still think the author does a passable job with his harem characters despite their soon to be obvious requirements.

      Translations from NU

      • I Reincarnated For Nothing more normal harem fair, the harem has clustered around the MC, he isn't ignorant of there feeling, just putting them off while they are saving the world... Characters are decently fleshed out, though could have done better. Possible something is lost in translation, but then again it is an import so differing cultural values isn't suprising.

      Huh, thought I had more there that... then again I had to dig thrue recommendation posts looking for the above so guess I shouldn't be too surprised xD then again good harem is hard to find ...

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Oh.. fair warning, I like long, text dense chapters. Most chapter will have around 2.5k+ words or more per chapter.

      Lokumi @Lokumi ago

      Thanks for the novels, though I droped both arcane (I really should re-start this one though) and atros, I'll try the other two. Thanks again.

      Andross Guile @Andross Guile ago

      I guess you could call the latter chapters of Everybody Loves Large Chests a harem, though it's very rapey and the reason I stopped reading.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Only two cases of rape were written into ELLC, every other instance was welcomed and in most cases begged for. And no I don't count Kora and Xera's fuckfights as rape. And tbh after Boxxy made it to Azurevail, even those gratuitous acts of angersex fell to the wayside and became more akin to passing inside jokes.

      human 000 @human 000 ago

      Can you count the number of hearm in Arcana emperor

      ghostybones @ghostybones ago

      ELLC is the only good harem story in this site. This story is just way too cringe for me.

      human 000 @human 000 ago

      Ellc is short for what?

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Everybody Loves Large Chests

      Also @ghostybones's comment is the main reasion I dislike how harems are currently defined in most online literature today. For me there should be some form of romantic attachment before a harem tag is added. Sure Boxxy loves Fizzy's shinnyness and enjoys the tastiness of Snack, but it holds no romantic feelings of love for any of it's minions. Things might change in the future as things evolve, but atm all we see is Boxxy caring for Minion that act as it's weapons, food or tools.

      human 000 @human 000 ago

      I stoped half way reading the novel. It has too much females like boxy summons only females and

      ghostybones @ghostybones ago

      I am bais. But non-human MCs are more interesting for me. Humans are just boring to read about.

      human 000 @human 000 ago

      True I mean i love Blacknail or tofu and they are both enjoyable. But boxy is not to my test

Oninomad @Oninomad ago

“I was here to look after you,” The princess answered with a slight pout, like I just asked something stupid. “So did I,”

Judy's response isn't phrased appropriately, shouldn't she say "So am I" or even better change the princess to "I came to look after you" as her current wording is awkward (not bad enough to need changing on it's own but if somethings gotta change...)

Azarek
Premium

Azarek @Azarek ago

I was worried you were going to make Leo chose one or remain wishy-washy about the whole thing like a lot of novels (which is incredibly annoying). I'm relieved and satisfied it got resolved in such a way, and hopefully it will stay like this.

I hope your thing doesn't mess this up too much because I feel the relationship aspect is already quite good.

    Egathentale
    Author

    Egathentale @Egathentale ago

    Truth be told, originally the whole "Betty and Veronica love triangle" was supposed to be resolved a bit later (though in practically the same fashion), but I looked at my notes, realized that since I pretty much already confirmed that Leo is aware of the love triangle, drawing things out much longer would make him a bit of a dick, so I decided to "resolve" things here. That doesn't mean the relationship has no space to grow, or that there would be no dramatic development or more shenanigans, but it will be in a different context that hopefully will make things more interesting.

      Misery's End @Misery's End ago

      Actually think it was handled nicely. I mean both girls like him and at least can tolerate each other, so this isn't going to turn into a case of a pair of cat hissing and clawing at each other over the corpse shaped trophy.

Methustos @Methustos ago

Thanks for the chapter!