When I awoke, I felt myself resting against a soft bed, warmth and comfort surrounding me. I shifted, and noticed that there were two bodies pressed against my own, causing me to open my eyes. To my right, I saw Terra’s incarnation, and to the left I saw Ryone’s. I did my best to carefully lift myself from the bed without disturbing them, but the two girls let out disappointed groans when I moved.
Thankfully, I was able to still get out of the bed, though that only meant that I was able to see the two of them shifting closer to one another in my absence. Shaking my head with a small smile, I made my way out of the room. Okay, Terra, what’d I miss?
You were only out for most of a night, so not that much. She responded almost immediately, a relieved tone in her voice. Really, we got lucky this time. If those monsters had appeared anywhere else in the four worlds, the invasion would have taken a lot longer. But, because they showed up in this continent, where the population is densest, you were able to find them soon.
I gave a small nod at that, agreeing with her. I barely even noticed Tsubaki waiting outside of my room, though she began to follow behind me quietly as soon as I walked out. Did we get any rewards for fending off the invasion?
Aside from living for another standard month? She asked in a teasing tone. You received the achievement, Stalwart, for personally fighting in the defense. And for completing your first defense, you earned the Guardian achievement, which gave an extra two points to stamina. However, since he really only sent five troops… Their combat potential was assessed as being worth one thousand points in total after a comprehensive analysis.
Okay… and why were your and Ryone’s incarnations sleeping with me? This time, it was my turn to tease her, as I knew that it had to be her decision for that to happen.
What, you didn’t like it? I could practically feel the grin in her tone when she asked that. Tsubaki nearly broke herself bringing you back to the Citadel, so we decided to make sure that you weren’t alone when you woke up.
She what? My eyes widened when I heard that, and I glanced back towards Tsubaki, who simply offered me a casual smile as she continued to follow me. Now that I was focusing on her, I could tell that her energy felt a bit weaker than it had before.
Remember how high your physical stats are as a Keeper, Dale. Your body is heavy enough that she had to push everything into her strength to lift you. Right now, she’s just barely able to maintain a full-sized form.
I shook my head, turning to face forward again while passing through the halls. Should have just left me on the ground, then. I’m sure she would have been able to make sure nothing took a bite out of me.
Oh, I tried to tell her that, too. Terra let out a small sigh, before suddenly laughing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone glare so hard at a deific figure. Just the idea of allowing her master to sleep in the dirt seemed to insult her.
I couldn’t help but chuckle at that, finally reaching to door to the throne room and making my way inside to take up my usual seat. How are the others doing?
Pretty much as you could expect. Rivy’s begging for us to let her train her slimes like that, after seeing how powerful they could get. Ryone… she found a new toy to play with, thanks to that mage you brought in to help with tracking the slimes. Another lucky break, by the way.
I thought as much. Musing inwardly, I shook my head. Do we have an opponent set up for the next round yet?
Not yet. You managed to get through the invasion in thirteen days, or eleven in standard time. You need to wait until half of the month has passed before you’ll get your next opponent.
Good to know. I felt like I had heard that somewhere before, but shrugged off the feeling. We should be playing offense next time, right?
Not necessarily… Terra pointed out. The first two types are set as they are to be a tutorial to the Keeper Games. From now on, we could be placed in either the attacking or defending roles in any match. If we’re unlucky, we might be defending against another hostile Keeper next again.
Well, that was troubling to think about… After giving a brief internal check to ensure that Leowynn was within my spiritual realm, I ascended back to the Admin Room. Given that I just survived an invasion, I felt like there were some people I needed to check in with.
When I arrived, I found Terra curled up on the bed, staring at me as her body was wrapped around a bundle of blankets. “You came back quickly.” She said, blinking slowly as she sat up. “Thought you’d want to enjoy being down there a bit more.”
“I had considered it… But no. I’ll head back down after I speak with some people.” She gave a small nod when I told her that, before I sat down at the computer. The first thing I did was to open up the guild chat window.
EarthForceOne: I’m back.
EverLasting: Hey! You survived your invasion? Great!
Meatlover: You are the new member, correct? Greetings.
EverLasting: Even you’re here? Wow, today must really be special!
ToothAndNail: What’s going on, Sarah? Chat isn’t usually this lively.
I gave a small smile as I saw the chat going by. It seemed like half the guild members were in their Admin Rooms at the moment and able to talk, which was apparently a higher number than usual. I gave them a brief update to let them know I was still around, and that I’d check back in later, before sending a message to someone else.
EarthForceOne: You around, Balu? I’ve got some information I’d like to sell.
Starkiller: Dale! Is Bibi doing well?
I rolled my eyes at seeing that her first instinct was to check on Bihena.
EarthForceOne: She’s fine, yeah. Anyways, I have more information on Savage’s monsters.
Starkiller: Savage… ah, the Keeper you just fought? Alright, I can set up a trade, just give me a few minutes to grab all my notes! I’ll let you know when I’m ready!
“Hopefully, I’ll be able to earn a decent sum of points with what I learned. Though, really all I learned is that they’re slimes, and that they are able to break runic magic.”
“That’s still important information.” Terra assured me, and soon I felt her arms around my chest, and felt her chest pressing against the back of my head as she leaned into me. “Though… there’s still one person you have to contact, right?” Her teasing tone reminded me of someone else who was probably worried. Someone that I had been putting off meeting for a while.
EarthForceOne: Kathy, you free?
SentinelSeven: DALE! Are you okay!? You haven’t gotten in touch all month! I heard you got in your invasion, is everything alright?! Can I come visit soon!?
EarthForceOne: I’m fine, I’m fine. I’ve still got some business to take care of, so I don’t really think I’ll be able to play for a little while. You can come and meet my Companions if you want, and I can chat until I need to get back to work.
SentinelSeven: Yes please! Oh, what should I wear? Is there a special fashion custom of your world I should know about? Do I need to bring gifts?! Wait, no, Keepers can’t take gifts to each other…
EarthForceOne: I… don’t really think what you wear is going to make much difference with my Companions.
My worry was more along the lines that my Companions might get freaked out by a giant talking spider-girl… I knew Bihena was mostly alright with it, but Kathy had never met any of the others.
SentinelSeven: Okay, then I’m ready to come by anytime!
Giving a small nod as I read that, I sent a message out to the rest of the people in the Admin Room while lightly placing my hand on Terra’s arm. Everyone, we’re about to have a couple of… energetic guests. Just a warning.
Just the thought of Kathy and Balu feeding off of each other’s energy was enough to give me chills, but I stood up from the chair and walked out to the living room with Terra. Like always, I made sure to seal off my room, just in case, before sending the invitation out to Kathy.
As I sat down on the couch, I heard a light, familiar laugh. Kathy had apparently already arrived immediately after the invite was sent. Though, I did not hear or see anything that would hint at her arrival, making me look around in confusion.
“That tickles, Dale.” She spoke out… and I realized where the sound had been coming from. “You’re sitting on my chest.”
I shot to my feet, turning around to look in horror as a face appeared on the arm of the sofa, slowly rising up to form a female head. Then, along the body of the couch itself, Kathy’s body slowly rose, until it got to her wider spider-sections. At that point, she seemed to be briefly stuck, whining for a few moments as she forced herself to shrink enough to fit through. “That was a fun one!”
“I’m glad one of us thought so…” I muttered, not sure I’d ever be able to sit on that couch again without remembering that sight.
Kathy apparently didn’t hear me, her legs clacking rapidly against the ground as she skittered in circles. Her eyes soon landed on Terra standing at the entrance to the hall. Her legs all jumped briefly as she gasped in glee, before running over to wrap Terra up in a hug. “Hello! You must be one of his Companions! I’m Kathy!” She introduced herself rather… forcefully.
Terra let out a dry chuckle, prying herself out of Kathy’s arms. “Terra. Pleasure to finally meet you in person.”
“In person..?” Kathy asked curiously, glancing down at Terra. “Oh! You must be his System Companion, right? Mine talks like that all the time, too! When he’s not being a jerk… You’re not a jerk, right?” She hesitantly backed up from Terra, warily watching the catgirl.
“I’d hope not.” Terra replied with a roll of her eyes. “And here… she… comes.”
“I heard we had guests!” Another voice called out, before a familiar head of pink hair ran out of the hall, all but slamming into Kathy’s navel. Caught off-guard, she fell down as if she had been clotheslined, before finally seeing the massive arachnid body above her.
An unearthly shriek filled the living room as Aurivy bolted away, hiding behind Terra. “Giant spider!” She cried out, before noticing a now rather wounded looking Kathy attached to said spider body. “Oh… Oh I’m sorry! I just wasn’t expecting that.”
“No, no it’s fine.” Kathy shook her head with a sad smile. “I’ve had worse first meetings. I’m Kathy, by the way.”
“Aurivy! Goddess of Love, Travel, and Dungeons!” She introduced herself with her full list of domains, seeming immensely proud of them. However, Kathy let out a small giggle when she heard them.
“Quite the odd list, isn’t it?” She asked as a smile slowly grew back on her face.
“Oh, you have no idea! Lately, people have been trying to figure out a way to hold marriage ceremonies in dungeons, thinking that they were like little temples for me.” Aurivy let out a dramatic sigh as she spoke, sending a playful wink my way. “Sorry about before, Kathy. Can we be friends?”
Aurivy barely had time to make her trademark wide-eyed pleading stare before she was wrapped up in Kathy’s arms and lifted, held tight against the arachne’s chest. “Oh yes please, I’d love that!”
“Breathing… difficult.” Aurivy choked out. “Vision… growing faint. Consciousness… fading. If I go… tell my brother I said… hello. Geh.” Aurivy tilted her head to the side, closing her eyes as if she had passed out, causing Kathy to cry out in worry, abruptly loosening her grip on Aurivy.
“Oh no! Are you okay? Aurivy, say something!” She pleaded, lightly shaking the halfling goddess as if she had forgotten that Companions couldn’t really be harmed in the Admin Room. A fact made clear when Aurivy’s eye opened just slightly, peeking out at Kathy.
Though, this did remind me of something… and I immediately sent a message to Ashley, warning her that our guest was an arachne… Although a bit late, I remembered that she had a rather extreme fear of spiders back in the old Earth. As soon as that message went out, I heard the faint slamming of a door.