It was now late morning on the first day of the year, and the elven capital of Azurvale had only just begun to sift through the aftermath of last night. News of ‘Imperial renegades attacking the city’ had already spread like wildfire, shocking the populace. The government had not made any official statements yet, but it was impossible to keep that many mouths shut. Rumors that a clandestine organization were targeting a Hero were already making the rounds. Naturally, much like during the assault itself, everyone had assumed the one being targeted was Keira, which caused a good deal of public outrage due to her popularity.
However, the impact of such gossip and hearsay paled in comparison to the death and destruction caused in the wake of the event. The battle between the elite adventurers and the trio of royal griffins in particular had caused massive collateral damage. Over a dozen buildings were completely wrecked, around fifty civilian bystanders were injured and another fifteen killed. Those numbers didn’t even include the lives during the hostile takeover and subsequent battle of Bryric mansion. And although one of the mighty beasts had been brought down, the other two managed to escape, as did the ringleaders behind the attack. As such, the government had difficulty claiming this was a victory despite the fact that a total of forty six enemy combatants were slain or captured.
Immediate public opinion regarding the Foreign Intelligence Bureau’s handling of the situation was somewhat split. Nobody could deny their timely intervention had protected people of great importance to the nation and the city, which was undeniably a good thing for elven society as a whole. At the same time, however, the FIB had also allowed a rather worrisome amount of civilian casualties. There would’ve likely been far worse consequences if they didn’t intervene, of course, but logic did little to ease grief-stricken hearts. Accusations that they purposefully left ‘the common elf’ to fend for themselves while they coddled the big-shots were sure to pop up. There even those that assumed a conspiracy of some sort was at play, as it was impossible to deny that the FIB seemed almost too well-prepared for ‘surprise’ attack.
As for Keira, Rowana, and the rest of the guests, they had spent the night at the Central Consortium building. The place was built almost like a fortress, so it was the safest place where the FIB could accomodate the affluent victims on such short notice and monitor the situation. It was a bit tricky for Boxxy and Xera to swap places with all that supervision, but it was times like these when the bathroom break proved invaluable. Kuro and Nao showed up about half an hour after the dust from the attack had settled and were immediately taken for questioning and then subsequently placed under the Bureau’s protective custody.
Boxxy, however, had to find its own answers, and fast. With its primary Facade compromised, Keira could come under attack at any moment. In retrospect it really should’ve allowed those guys to take Nao and spare itself the trouble, but it had underestimated the level of commitment from Edward’s lackeys. The Gilded Hand putting forward that much manpower, effort and resources just to capture a Hero didn’t seem right. It suspected there was something more to Hero of Magic that it was not aware of, and that was potentially vital information it desperately wanted.
Which was why Keira had went to check in on her fellow Hero as if it were the most natural thing on the world. Nao was technically being kept under guard and not allowed visitors for the time being, but the FIB had no reason to deny the Keira Morgana. Not after they confirmed her identity with an Appraisal check, at any rate. Thankfully the Scribe performing it was one of the Consortium’s staff members that the catgirl was familiar with, so the shapeshifter felt a bit more at ease going through it.
After getting the go-ahead, Keira walked through the guarded doors into the room Nao had been provided with. It was an office of some sort that had been hastily converted into a private quarters. Its new resident was currently sitting at the desk, keeping his mind occupied with the book in front of him. He appeared to be writing rather than reading, though he stopped to look up at and greet his visitor.
“Oh. Good morning Keira.”
“Hey, Nao,” she replied with a wave. “Who’s your friend?”
“Good morning, miss Morgana,” said the stranger in the room. “My name is Gibbs, and I have been assigned as mister Shoki’s bodyguard for the time being.”
The man in question was a stern-looking elf of a somewhat advanced age, with short ginger hair and wearing a green-colored uniform with the FIB’s insignia on his chest and left shoulder. His appearance reminded Boxxy of Silus Underwood, its handler and main point of contact during the war. Well, at least until he got himself killed during the two Overlords’ smackdown. It was something of a shame, too. That elf’s willingness to see trickery and patterns where none existed had been a big help towards establishing the Sandman’s persona as a professional problem solver.
“Bodyguard? What about Kuro?” asked Keira. “The jerk didn’t get himself killed, I hope.”
“No, no, he’s fine,” butted in Nao. “He pushed himself too hard last night and is still sleeping it off.”
“As I said, my position is entirely temporary,” reiterated Gibbs. “I will be relieved of duty once mister Shoki’s regular aide has recovered. I may not be a sand spider, but I assure you I’m every bit as capable.”
“That’s how it is,” stated the Hero of Magic. “I’m not a fan of this arrangement, but these FIB people were quite insistent. Enough about that though, what brings you here, Keira?”
“Well, I had some things I wanted to talk about, but…”
The catgirl looked towards the stranger in the room as if pleading for some alone time, but the officer was having none of it.
“My orders are to keep an eye on our guest at all times,” he said sternly. “My presence is not up for debate.”
“Fine, fine, I guess I’ll just get on with it,” conceded Keira. “So, Nao. How are you holding up?”
“… Better than I expected, to be honest,” he said weakly. “We’ve been attacked before, but it’s never been this bad. I actually need to thank you.”
“Yeah. I don’t think we would’ve fared as well as we did if you didn’t warn Kuro. I heard you were a talented scout, but spotting something was amiss in that situation was nothing short of amazing.”
“It’s nothing that grand, I’ve just come used to expecting the worst,” she claimed with a dismissive hand wave. “I kept thinking how vulnerable and exposed that position was, so I couldn’t stop glancing at the shadows. I’m just glad my paranoia paid off for once.”
“Yeah, you and me both,” replied Nao in good humor.
“Still, I can’t help but feel guilty about what happened,” she said with a more solemn tone.
“What? How can you possibly feel responsible for the actions of a bunch of renegades?”
“Well, I did cause that Clash when we first met. I figure if I hadn’t been so quick to jump to conclusions, they wouldn’t even know you were here.”
“Miss Morgana, if I may?” butted in Gibbs. “We believe the attackers were already aware of mister Shoki’s movements and whereabouts long before they arrived in Azurvale. This was not the sort of attack that could be orchestrated within the span of a week, so it would have happened regardless of that incident. If anything, we at the FIB actually owe you a debt of gratitude as well. We were informed of mister Shoki’s visit, but we wouldn’t have been nearly as prepared for an attack if it wasn’t for that announcement making it public.”
“Wow, okay. That’s, uh, good to know I suppose,” said Keira while blushing slightly. “Sorry, I’m not used to being thanked when things turn sour.”
“For what it’s worth, I personally believe your ability to make the most out of a terrible and unexpected situation is rather remarkable.”
Now this was interesting. It would appear that, judging by his slightly excited tone, loose tongue and overall respectful attitude, this elven officer was something of a fan of Keira’s. Not in her capacity as a Hero or because she was a cute girl, but as a fellow soldier. This was good, because it meant he would be more likely to divulge potentially sensitive information. He just might turn out to be more valuable than Nao if Boxxy played its cards right.
“Yeah, well, part of that is being able to tell what caused the terrible situation in the first place,” continued the catgirl. “That’s kind of why I’m here, actually. I can’t for the life of me figure out why things turned out like this. Like, why capture this guy?”
Her tone suddenly turned a bit aggressive. She even pointed right at Nao’s face as if he were somehow on trial as she continued talking towards Gibbs.
“I get that he’s a Hero and that alone makes him important to a lot of people, but why would a bunch of spies, thieves and assassins care? He’s too much of a spineless wimp to become involved in politics or intrigue so I’m certain he doesn’t know any state secrets or the like. He sucks at taking care of other people’s valuables, he’s dense, cowardly, has a habit of making things blow up and is overall a bit of a pain in the ass know-it-all. Er, no offense.”
“That sounded pretty damn offensive though…” grumbled Nao in a tired voice.
“What I’m trying to say is you have zero value as a prisoner of war. At least I helped put an end to their false war and maybe sort of led to them being exposed, but they passed me over for you. You! What makes you so damn special?!”
Gibbs gave her a puzzled look that seemed to ask why Keira was talking as if she was somehow jealous, but resisted the urge to vocalize his inquiry.
“M-maybe they just wanted to hold me ransom or something?” offered Nao weakly.
“As if!” snapped the other beastkin. “With how much resources they threw at the capital they’d have been better off trying to rob a bank! I just know those guys had some sort of ulterior motive and it’s been driving me nuts all night! How do I know they won’t come back in a week and pull something like this again?!”
Nao’s face screwed up as he silently deliberated whether he should spill his secret, though his reaction alone was enough for Boxxy to confirm that there was indeed a secret to be told. However, it would appear that the youthful wolfkin had doubts whether Keira could be trusted with such a thing, otherwise he would not be wavering this much.
“I’m your friend, Nao,” she insisted while putting a hand on his shoulder. “If you’re in some sort of trouble then I want to help however I can. But I can’t do that if you refuse to tell me what’s going on.”
“I don’t know…”
The wolfkin glanced over at the elven officer by his side, as if asking for permission. Gibbs, however, quite obviously did not want to get involved in what seemed like a personal matter. Even if he and his colleagues did know what the Gilded Hand was really after, it was not within his authority to divulge that information. Nor was it his place to tell the Hero of Magic what to do. Still, he personally wanted to hear Keira’s thoughts on the matter since she had something of a reputation within the Bureau, so he decided to speak up anyway.
“I don’t know if this means much to an outsider like yourself,” he said in a near-whisper, “but for what it’s worth the FIB believes miss Morgana to be a trustworthy individual and an ally to the people of the Republic. At the very least she holds no love for Imperial soldiers and spies.”
The time she described the human army that was annihilated by Fort Yimin’s dryads as ‘thirty thousand bags of high grade fertilizer’ was rather infamous, though he wisely decided not to bring that up.
“Huh. I had no idea you guys thought so highly of me,” commented Keira.
“Well, my superiors would never openly admit it, but we would definitely love to have more people like you working for us. You’d probably already have been offered a spot at our academy. If you were an elf. And, uh, not a woman.”
“Err… thanks, I guess?”
Though she said that with a cringe, the shapeshifter on the inside had to try extra hard to hide its devious smile when it heard those tasty words. Such a ringing endorsement was just the sort of thing a doppelganger wanted to hear. It was also the last bit of persuasion Nao needed to make up his mind.
“Alright, Keira. I guess I might as well show you.”
He opened up his Item Box and pulled out an untitled tome bound together with pale white leather. He set it down on a nearby table and placed a hand upon it. Black, scrawling text began spreading out from his fingertips as it spread across the book’s surface as if it were a bunch of snakes made out of ink. It appeared to be a form of divine script, though it moved around too fast for Boxxy to make any sense of it.
The arcane letters crawled across the otherwise blank cover, branching off and multiplying rapidly until they wrapped up the entire thing in layer upon layer of unreadable writing. By the time it stopped, the only thing visible of the original cover were random spots of glowing white amidst a sea of fuzzy blackness, almost as if someone were staring at the night sky. The tome then began vibrating and shaking as it clattered against the wooden surface.
“Uh, Nao? Should I take cover or something?” asked the catgirl nervously.
“No, it’s fine. Just let it do its thing.”
A trio of circles representing the moons then appeared on the cover of the clearly magical book, at which point it floated in the air until it was at Nao’s eye level. It flung itself open, causing its seemingly empty pages - yellowed from age yet glossy as if they were brand new - to flutter in front of his face. A projection of solid green light appeared above it, taking on the shape of a blurry face made out of an uncountable collection of glowing letters. And then, just as one might expect, the face spoke.
“The Librarium Infinitus Arcana Refactorium stands ready to hear thy query, o’ blessed child of the moons.”
The way it spoke was strange, to say the least. The voice, tone and even dialect changed so rapidly that it sounded like a bunch of people were trying to finish that sentence one word at a time.
“Keira, meet the LIAR,” stated Nao. “As you can see, it is a grimoire - a magical book with something of a mind of its own. It is also a Divine-class item. As the Hero of Magic, I am both its keeper and the only one who can access it. Of course, I would never use it for evil, but I wouldn’t have a choice if I were to be mind controlled. The people who attacked us had a Psionic with them, so I have little doubt this was why they wanted me alive.”
Now it was starting to make sense. Divine-class items were said to be the worth fighting wars over, so the Gilded Hand attacking in force was only to be expected if one of these was on the line. Which meant it would probably be for the best if Boxxy kept the details regarding that pink gem it had a secret, lest Keira also be targeted. Then again, now that Edward’s lackeys knew of her true identity, they just might come after her anyway.
The shapeshifter needed to deal with its problems one at a time though, and the most pressing concern it had right now was understanding the thing right in front of it.
“For real?! An actual Divine item?” she exclaimed she poked at the illusory face with a finger. Her slender digit passed through harmlessly without even disturbing the image or prompting any sort of response or reaction. “Certainly looks fancy enough. Why do you call it a liar, though?”
“Because referring to it by its full name is a pain in the ass, so I just use the acronym. It works just fine, even if it’s a bit ironic.”
“Yeah, see, this book doesn’t actually lie. It only holds factual truths.”
“Oh? What kind of ‘factual truths?’”
“All of them.”
“The entirety of the world’s knowledge - from the most mundane of quandaries to the most elusive of secrets - is contained within this thing.”
Boxxy legitimately had no idea how to respond to that. Such a ridiculous thing could not possibly exist, could it?
“However, accessing said knowledge contained within is not free,” clarified the wolfkin. “Each piece of information has a price, and the LIAR will not divulge anything until it is paid in full.”
“… So it’s like a library?”
“Hah. Yes, I suppose. The world’s most extensive and expensive library. One that, I might add, does not accept refunds.”
“And you say it knows… everything?”
“Literally everything,” he confirmed, “even age-old questions that have existed since the dawn of time. For instance- LIAR, what is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?”
“Query received,” stated the book. “Compiling… … … Done. Thy fee amounts to: 67,915,234,162 enlightened lives.”
“Holy fuck!” exclaimed Keira. “What in the-?! Are there even that many people in the entire world?!”
“Error: thine balance is insufficient,” stated the LIAR as the holographic face momentarily flickering red. “Query cancelled.”
“Obviously not,” answered Nao. “Regardless, there’s no way I can accept such a thing, even if I wanted to. Admittedly the way LIAR said it was rather dry, but bottom line is my life is the only one I own. And even if someone were capable of… ‘spending’ another’s existence, I fail to see how such a horrible person would ever be chosen as a Hero of Magic.”
Nao had a very good point. The deity-appointed Heroes of this world were all inherently good-natured people at heart who would be vehemently opposed to such atrocities. Barring a few notable exceptions, of course. The important part is that some curious moron wouldn’t be able to sacrifice the entire world’s population and then some, even if he or she wanted to.
“Right, that’s probably for the best,” nodded Keira in agreement. “Still, if the prices are that ridiculous, then isn’t this thing technically unusable?”
“Well, it depends on the information requested. If I were to ask for something like the current time or where I put my keys, I’d only be asked to pay a few gold pieces. But if we were to take a more realistic example… LIAR, what’s the true identity of the mercenary known as the Sandman?”
“Query received. Compiling… Done. Thy fee amounts to: twenty years’ worth of life experience. Doth thou agree to these terms?”
“Oh wow!” he exclaimed with a wide-eyed look. “That’s a much more valuable secret than I gave it credit for.”
Boxxy would certainly hope that was case considering it had fooled an entire nation and then some. It just wished the wolfkin had not unwittingly used the shapeshifter as an example to demonstrate his fancy book’s abilities. It was literally one twitch away from beheading him here and now and absconding with that stupidly dangerous book.
“Yeah, it’s not worth it. LIAR, forget I asked about the Sandman.”
“Acknowledged. Cancelling query.”
At the very least it would appear Nao was unwilling to sacrifice his entire life’s worth of memories just for that.
“Mr S again?” asked Keira with a raise of her eyebrow. “Didn’t I tell you it’s best if you don’t get involved with that guy.”
“Too late for that, I’m afraid,” responded Nao. “The way I understand it, he’s the one that pulled me and Kuro out of the fire last night.”
“Really? Huh. That’s unexpected.”
“Is it? I heard he was originally a vigilante that targeted black markets and slave traders and all that. Seems right up his alley.”
“Yeah, but he mostly did that stuff so he could steal their loot. I’ve worked with the guy, and the only thing he truly cares for is money. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a professional and a reliable ally, but only if you pay him beforehand. Point is, he’s not the type of good samaritan that would help people if he wasn’t getting anything out of it.”
“… Now that just makes me nervous. It makes it sound like he was also after the LIAR.”
“Both the Gilded Hand and your friend from the FIB seemed to know about it, so it’s definitely possible.”
“I see you’re as sharp as they say, ma’am,” said Gibbs with a dry chuckle.
“Part of the job, Gibbsy,” she replied curtly before turning back to Nao. “Anyway, I don’t think you need to worry about Mr S. It sounds like he had plenty of opportunity to force you into doing things against your will, but he didn’t.”
“Right, I suppose that’s a point. But then why did he show up at all?”
That’s what I want to know! yelled Boxxy inside its head.
“I’m not sure, but if I had to take a guess,” mused Keira while cupping her chin, “it’s because giving you up to those war criminals would be bad for business.”
“I see, that does make a certain amount of sense.”
“… It does?”
“Yeah. Apparently he told Kuro something about ‘Heroes being a valuable resource’ when they parted ways last night. Seems to be that was what he was talking about.”
Well, that wasn’t quite what Boxxy was alluding to last night, but it certainly wasn’t going to complain if that was how the Sandman’s words were going to be interpreted. It would seem that ‘cryptic bullshit’ was almost as effective a smokescreen as ‘weaponized cuteness.’
“Valuable resource, huh?” repeated Keira. “That certainly sounds like Mr S.”
“Excuse me, ma’am?” butted in the elven bodyguard. “May I ask your opinion on something?”
“Uhm, sure, if you think I can help.”
“I appreciate your consideration. I would like to ask what you think of the Gilded Hand’s intentions, now that you know what they were after. Do you have any idea what it was they hoped to gain from all this? Or what their end goal might be?”
“C’mon, mister Gibbs. There’s no way Keira would know something like that.”
“I realize this is rather sudden, but I would appreciate any sort of insight miss Morgana might be able to offer.”
“No offense to Keira, but I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you. The secret they wanted could literally have been anything.”
“… Actually, I do have an idea,” she blurted out. “Well, more of a guess, really.”
“You can’t be serious!”
Nao was naturally surprised at the girl’s words, but the elf’s expression showed he was just as astounded even though he was the one that asked. In actuality, Boxxy knew precisely what Edward was trying to do. Admittedly it had repressed a lot of the painful memories surrounding its capture, but it could scarcely forget why it had to go through all that pain and suffering. If volunteering this information helped the FIB bring down that bastard in its stead, then it wasn’t going to complain. Thankfully it was able to remember the existence of a certain weirdo priestess that Keira could use as an excuse to drop the elves a hint.
“I met someone back in New Whitehall, a strategist called Cecilia Underwood. Actually, I think she was part of the FIB too. Anyway, she had a lot of, uh, questionable theories, and one of those had something to do with stolen dungeon cores and how the Empire might be trying to weaponize the Calamity of Monotal.”
Of course there was a chance the Bureau already knew that considering the woman in question worked for them, but it was a big organization. Not to mention that the sort of conspiracy theories Cecilia thought up were quite outlandish, so there was a chance that her words were disregarded as the ravings of a madwoman. Still, a Hero’s word might at least get the government agency to reconsider them, so it was worth a shot.
“That… That’s horrible!” exclaimed Nao. “What sort of twisted freak would want to do that?!”
“Query received. Compiling…”
“Not you, LIAR!”
“Acknowledged. Cancelling query.”
“Sorry, it does that sometimes when it hears a question. Still, if that’s the sort of thing those guys are after, then I think I’d rather die than help them.”
“Let’s not get dramatic here,” urged Keira. “Like I said, it was just a wild theory. At the same time, it seems like the sort of thing a bunch of warmongering humans might need an all-knowing book for.”
“It’s certainly a frightening proposition,” remarked Gibbs. “I appreciate the input, miss Morgana. I’ll make sure to pass it onto my superiors.”
“Yeah, don’t mention it. Speaking of which, why don’t you guys just use this LIAR thing to track those scumbags down?”
“We have already taken the matter under consideration, and mister Shoki has offered his full support. However, we have deemed the information to be not worth the… price of admission, as it were. Not to mention that our adversary knows of the LIAR’s capabilities and has likely taken steps to counteract it. Even if we get a current location, there’s no telling whether it will remain that way by the time we’re prepared to act on it. Let’s not even mention the political clusterfuck - if you’ll pardon my language - if we have to perform an unsanctioned military operation outside our borders.”
“So what, you’re going to sit on your hands?!”
“We take steps to protect our interests and our citizens, ma’am. Same as we always have.”
“There might be something I can still do, though,” said Nao while scratching his ear. “This trick doesn’t always work, but- LIAR, how can you replicate the Calamity of Monotal?”
“Query received. Compiling…”
“Nao? What are you-?!”
“Just, give me a minute.”
“Done,” reported the magical book. “Thy fee amounts to: five unbound mid-range dungeon cores.”
“Right, nevermind about that. What is the Gilded Hand’s current main objective?”
“New query received. Compiling… Done. Thy fee amounts to: two unbound mid-range dungeon cores.”
“I see. I think that will be all for now, LIAR. You’re dismissed.”
“Acknowledged. The Librarium Infinitus Arcana Refactorium thanks thee for thy patronage and wishes thee an enlightened day.”
The book then abruptly closed up, instantly reverted back to its original appearance, then fell into Nao’s Item Box. The way that Storage-like portal opened up made it appear like the grimoire had forced it open without the Hero’s permission, though the person himself didn’t seem to mind.
“Well, there you have it, mister Gibbs. Whether you and your bosses want to interpret that as confirmation that the Hand is after the Calamity is up to you.”
“That’s… certainly an innovative way of using the Divine item,” admitted the elf. “I’ll certainly pass this on, along with miss Morgana’s suggestion, of course.”
“Nice one, Nao!” cheered Keira by slapping him on the shoulder. “You’re really good at working that thing!”
“Haha, well, I guess even a spineless wimp that breaks your stuff is good for something.”
“… I’m not taking that back.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to.”
“So… What will you and Kuro do now?”
“That’s a bit of a tricky situation, actually. Lady Imiryl was going to give us a ride back home on her flying ship, the Endeavor.”
“The one from last night? That’s hers?”
“Her family’s, but yeah. I helped design the Warp Gate for it, actually. That’s the thing that let it show up seemingly out of nowhere, though teleporting an entire ship is a trick it can only do once.”
“Damn. Okay, that’s pretty impressive.”
“Thanks, though it’s still a work in progress. Anyway, we won’t be going anywhere until that’s fixed since that’s our lifeline should the Gilded Hand attack us en-route. We’ll also have Lady Imiryl and her companions as escorts so we’ll hopefully be fine.”
“That does sound reliable. I guess it’s a good thing they didn’t attack you on the way here.”
“Yeah. I guess they caught wind of my trip too late and didn’t mobilize fast enough to intercept us.”
Boxxy was of the opinion that it was far more likely they had no idea Nao was even in Azurvale until the Clash happened. The monster wasn’t buying Gibbs’s explanation regarding this being a long-planned attack in the slightest. Yes, the Gilded Hand committed a lot of manpower, but the enemy had access to griffins. Royal griffins. Something like making it all the way from the Empire to Azurvale in a matter of days was well within their abilities, let alone intercepting a relatively slow-moving flying house.
The fact that the FIB were willing to lie about it to a couple of Heroes was an interesting tidbit, but there would be no point in calling out some low-level grunt like Gibbs on it.
“So that means you guys will be sticking around town a bit longer, right?!” asked Keira excitedly.
“Uh, yeah. For a few weeks more, at least.”
“Alright! That means we can hang out some more!”
“I… I don’t know if I can be as cheerful about it as you can, though. I mean, people died and-”
“Nope! None of that!” insisted the catgirl. “You had no control over what happened, so getting upset over it won’t change a thing. Just focus on the silver lining here.”
“No offense, but I hardly think your company’s going to help take my mind off things.”
“Sure it will! You love mysteries, right? We still have one of mine to solve, don’t we?”
This Gilded Hand business aside, the matter of the strange pink gem that was assumed to be Natalie’s Divine item still remained unresolved. Keira and Nao were going to ask Imiryl to help them safely set it off to see what it does, and Boxxy saw no reason why they couldn’t do that. In fact, now was probably the best time for it, as the Gilded Hand had lost a lot of manpower and were unlikely to be able to mount another offensive anytime soon. Especially with all those Republic Rankers around.
“Yes, I suppose that would be rather interesting,” he admitted.
“You bet your furry ass, it will! And even if it’s not, I have something even more fun in mind!”
“Oh? What would that be?”
The catgirl threw her arm around Nao’s neck and poked at his cheek with a finger while sporting a rather mischievous smile.
“I have a loooot of pretty friends, you know.”
“Is, uh, is that so?”
“Yup. Nice, sweet girls that’d love to hang out with you and get to know you better.”
One of whom might or might not be a certain ex-succubus.
“Please don’t do anything unnecessary,” he said in a rather angry voice.
“This is completely necessary. No friend of mine is going to become some shut-in virgin of an old man if I have anything to say about it!”
“No, for real! I’m good!”
“Sure you are. Then what’s your ‘little guy’ doing poking out of your robe?”
Nao immediately covered his crotch with both hands while his face flushed red, only to realize his private parts were perfectly contained.
“See what I mean? Now come on, we have to do something about those abysmal flirting skills of yours!”
“Gods damn it, Keira! Can you please just let me do my work in peace?!”
“Rejected!” she declared as she literally dragged Nao off by the collar.
“Mister Gibbs!” he shouted while flailing around. “I’m supposed to be under protective custody, right?! Shouldn’t you be saving me right about now?!”
“I’m afraid he has a point, miss Morgana. I cannot let you take him out of this room. Any - Ahem! - coaching you want to do will have to be done right here. Oh, and please don’t break anything, the FIB will be held responsible if you do.”
“Tch. Alright, guess I’ll skip the crash course.”
“Keira?! What’s with that tongue click?” asked Nao in a panic. “What did you mean by crash course?!”
Needless to say, today wasn’t the day when the Hero of Magic would overcome his fear of violent women.