I don’t regret the decisions I have made, because they have lead me to who and where I am today. I do have to admit however that I do wish I wasn’t so obstinate growing up, and missing out on some of the education that was uniquely available to me.
If I did go off to the university in Adra I would have never came to Tobes and met Two-Twelve, so everything has its reasons, but now that Tobes has its own university. I guess it wouldn’t hurt to take a few courses when I am able.
Who knows maybe I could even talk Two-Twelve into taking a few classes with me. My hands are a bit full right now while he is away, so maybe once he returns we can discuss it. Either way I don’t think he would prevent me from doing it if it was something I wanted, although between Rory and everything else going on it would be quite hard to find the time.
Speaking of not having the time, I have quite the busy day today so I guess I should get to it. My beautiful daughter reaches up for me while babbling.
“That’s right!” –I say while picking up and hugging my little angel.- “Your growing so fast! Your daddy is going to be home soon, I am sure of it can you say Dada?”
“That’s ok, will work on it, and maybe surprise you Daddy when he returns.”
After a bit of breakfast, and feeding Rory some mashed up fruit we start our day. I worried for a while about teleporting when I was pregnant and it took Two-Twelve taking me to the Mage’s Guild and asking if there was any danger to it to ease my mind, but lately Rory seems to greatly enjoy traveling through [Gate].
Every time we pass through one of the formed portals Rory begins bouncing in my arms and giggling reaching for the portal we had just passed through wanting to go again. Full grown adults who are not used to it often lose their lunch, so watching my baby girl enjoy it so much is quite amusing.
Today must seem like quite the adventurer for Rory as we travel though the portal over and over again gathering the dungeon’s adventuring parties that are out gathering xp. With some of the members wishing to take breaks and the absence of Poppy and Lynx we have done quite a bit of rearranging the last few months, and it has led to new friendships and parties being formed.
With the ballroom of the house full of adventurers I go through and make sure everyone is doing alright, and is happy before we slowly start sending them back out. The few members that wish to take a break remain, but by noon I have sent back the rest, but I am already quite exhausted from spending so much magic.
Next, it is time to take food to Akil, but Two-Twelve warned me to be cautious with him so I take Rory to play with Listel before transferring down to him. I have taken food to him on numerous occasions since Two-Twelve left, but for the first time one of his eyes open after I set down his food.
Akil: “Why if it isn’t the missus. I see you have been quite diligent in your husband’s absence.”
Akil: “The child, the dungeon, the monsters, he seems to have put a great burden on you while he is off doing his own thing.”
“He is not “doing his own thing” he is out trying to save our daughter.”
Akil: “Yes, your “daughter” but it seems she is doing the saving more then he is.”
“You know what is going on in the dungeon they are in?!”
Akil: “I can’t help it if knowledge just seeps into my bones.”
“You said Inari was the one doing the saving, does that mean they are all alright? Please you have to tell me!”
Akil: “I don’t have to do anything, but I will say even though they have suffered quite a few casualties from both sides your husband and daughter are currently fine, but the next few hours are the most crucial and he will either return home, or not at all.”
“Please tell me what is going on!”
Akil: “I’ve grown quite tired, and I’m in need of some rest you will know soon enough.” –He says while covering his face with his wings.”
Inari: “No-Mikoto… You are saying that you are a god?” –She says while trying to return to her feet, but the force holding her to her knees is stronger.-
Tsukuyomi: “You have no hesitation in calling Inari as such, and I am far superior to that disgusting creature.”
Inari: “Inari has protected the people of Shima! That is far more then I can say about you.”
Tsukuyomi: “Your precious Inari would be nothing without my sister, it is her you should be worshipping instead of that follower.”
Inari: “That sounds like quite the complex you got there, who is this sister of yours?”
Takeshi: “Forgive me, but if he really is Tsukuyomi-No-Mikoto, I believe he is referring to Amaterasu-omikami.”
Tsukuyomi: “I see you are not all completely ignorant, and yet you still serve that foul creature.”
“The old gods have been gone for so long, it makes since that your name has been forgotten especially with the situation Shima has been facing the last few decades.”
Tsukuyomi’s eyes snap to me and he appears to be sizing me up. “You appear different than the rest. Who is it that you worship?”
“I do not worship anyone, but I have had dealings with others of your kind, and I have to say to force us to kneel before you is enough to make me think you are not the kind of old god that deserves our respect.”
The force keeping me to my knees increases, and causes me to fall forward till my head is merely inches from the ground.
Tsukuyomi: “The one you serve may be lax, but you shall show me the respect I deserve!”
“Brother, stop it!” –A soft soothing voice rings out like a bell from behind Tsukuyomi, and I can instantly feel the force on my body instantly release me.-
I don’t immediately stand, but I do look up to see a panicked look on Tsukuyomi’s face as he turns to look at a young woman that is no less as lavishly dressed as Tsukuyomi. Where Tsukuyomi’s hair is that of a midnight blue, this young woman’s hair is azure like the morning sky.
Tsukuyomi: “How did you know I was here…?”
Woman: “I heard from Inari what you were planning, so I promised I would keep an eye on it’s follower and make sure you didn’t take things to far, and it appears it was right to be worried. Don’t you think you have caused Inari enough trouble as it is?”
The young woman then moves over to Inari and helps her to her feet. “I’m sorry about my brother, Inari has told me you have done great things under it’s name.”
Takeshi is still on his knees and he throws himself forward to bow to the woman. “You’re Amaterasu-omikami.”
Amaterasu: “I appreciate it, but there is no need to bow. Two-Twelve spoke the truth, we have done little to deserve that kind of treatment. In fact we should be thanking you for helping clean up my brother’s mess.”
Amaterasu: “They have a right to know what is going on, especially after you left them no choice in the matter but to deal with it.”
“Are you saying that the reason we can’t use teleportation or [Communication] is because of you?”
Amaterasu: “Not me, but Tsukuyomi.”
Tsukuyomi: “Your two groups have been the first ones to ever enter this place that had the potential in destroying the corrupt dungeon, so I had to make sure you defeated it before you left.”
Inari: “Why not just tell us that from the beginning?”
Amaterasu: “We are not allowed to interfere, at least not directly.”
“Your definition of not interfering must be completely different than mine… And why show yourselves to us now?”
Amaterasu: “Inari’s intentions from the start were to contain or destroy the corrupt dungeon. Tsukuyomi just wanted to be sure you didn’t give up halfway through. Besides the damage was already done, as they say, so I am sure his curiosity got the best of him and he to find the answer to why you seem so different then the others.”
“You said this was your brother’s mess, but I don’t think you meant blocking [Communication] do you mean to say he was responsible for the corrupt dungeons as well?”
Amaterasu: “Yes brother, are you responsible for the corrupt dungeons?”
Tsukuyomi begins to get nervous as he says. “It isn’t like that…It wasn’t intentional!”
Amaterasu: “We are nothing without the people of Shima, and if it wasn’t for Inari’s protection, your mistake, intentional or not, would have wiped out almost all of the people of Shima by now.”
Tsukuyomi: “You have always been partial to Inari, and I am doing the best I can to fix my mistake!”
Amaterasu: “By using Inari’s follower.”
“So let me get this straight, if Tsukuyomi is responsible for the corrupt dungeons, just how much of them can he control, this place has been acting far differently than the other corrupt dungeon Inari dealt with.”
Tsukuyomi: “I was trying to lead you in the right direction, and to make sure you were strong enough to deal with the corrupt dungeon’s crystal.”
“We lost a lot of family to this dungeon!”
Tsukuyomi: “None of the monsters I was directly responsible for caused the death of any of your teammates, it was their deaths that lead me to create that area for you to go through to increase your strength so you didn’t have to lose more, and I still wasn’t entirely successful, because you still lost another member.”
“If you didn’t block teleportation or put up walls keeping us from backtracking we would have lost far less than we did!”
Tsukuyomi: “But then you might not have destroyed the corrupt dungeon, so it was a calculated risk that I had to take. You yourself said it numerous times that if you were able to leave you would have.”
Inari: “But the dungeon was our goal, even if we had to retreat we would have returned eventually.”
Tsukuyomi: “I couldn’t risk the chance you wouldn’t.”
“And what if we didn’t survive?”
Tsukuyomi: “Then you were not the ones I hoped you’d be.”
“I have heard enough. Let me use teleportation so we can return home.”
Tsukuyomi: “But there are still 5 more corrupt dungeons out there that need to be dealt with.”
Inari: “I count on the corrupt dungeons for xp for my dungeon, I have no desire to destroy them all, even this one the original plan was to surround the outer edge with Inari’s protection to gather xp from the Oni and other monsters.”
Tsukuyomi: “What if I could help you do that?”
Inari: “If Inari doesn’t trust you, then why should I?”
Amaterasu: “Inari might not trust Tsukuyomi, but it trusts me, and I will see to it Tsukuyomi behaves himself if the plan is to retake Shima for its people.”
Inari: “Even if that is true, we just spent months and months to take this one, I can’t even think of dealing with another corrupt dungeon right now.”
Tsukuyomi: “That is not acceptable!”
Amaterasu: “That is enough, brother” –She sternly says then returns her gaze to Inari.- “It is your plan is to protect the capital of Shima under [Inari’s Providence] isn’t that correct?”
Inari: “That is right…”
Amaterasu: “If Shima’s capital is safe, then we have time to deal with other corrupt dungeons.”
Tsukuyomi: “Then she needs to protect my village as well! I was able to hide them in plain sight within the corrupt dungeon, but now that it is gone, they won’t stand a chance against the remaining corrupt dungeons!”
“So the Oni of this village do belong to you?”
Tsukuyomi: “They don’t belong to me, but they are my people, and after the incident that created the corrupt dungeons. It left this village as the only remaining safe haven for the Oni not under control of the corrupt dungeons.”
Inari: “After what you did, even if I decided to help you, [Inari’s Providence] is a gift from Inari, and if Inari dislikes you as much as you claim, then you have to ask Inari’s permission before I even attempt it.”
Amaterasu begins to laugh and she continues to laugh until tears form in her eyes as she says. “I think that is an excellent idea.”
Tsukuyomi: “You know Inari would never agree to such a thing, after what happened!”
Amaterasu: “I think begging for Inari’s help would be perfect atonement for your crime, so much so that I decree: You are not to assist Tsukuyomi, unless he begs Inari for forgiveness and help, and I will inform you of Inari’s answer.”
“These Oni are sentient are they not? Are you saying Tsukuyomi over exaggerated the danger to their lives?”
Tsukuyomi: “The threat is very real…”
Amaterasu: “Even more reason for you for you to beg for it for its help all the faster!”
“You are risking the lives of a whole village… No, those of an entire race on what, pride!? I understand [Inari’s Providence] will only work with Inari’s blessing, but for the safety of an entire race, I would be willing to house the sentient Oni in the safety of my dungeon until a decision is made to prevent the needless waste of life!”
Amaterasu: “You are willing to risk my wrath to protect a race such as the Oni?!”
“I can’t say I know what the deal is with you Shima gods, but what I have heard from Inari, is that the old god Inari is a decent being, and if Inari respects you I could only assume you are the same. If you are willing to throw an entire race of sentient beings away for a petty reason such as this, then I don’t see you any different than the old god that already wants me dead, so yes I guess I am.”
Amaterasu: “You are either extremely brave, or extremely stupid.”
Inari: “Please forgive Daddy, He means well!”
Amaterasu: “Ceres and I may not be close, but we are still sisters in a roundabout way, and I think I am starting to understand what she sees in you. Very well, if you choose to help Tsukuyomi, I will make sure Inari understands.”
Inari: “With the corrupt dungeon gone I have no use for placing an imitation crystal here, but you have seemed to prepare the Oni to the chance that they may not return to this place, so if you wish I can create a space for them in my northern village under the shrine of Inari.”
Tsukuyomi: “Transporting them there will be quite difficult. Most of them have never had contact with humans, and the ones that have, were treated as demons.”
“You are both gods, don’t you have a way to move them?”
Amaterasu: “Even if we could, there are rules forbidding us from taking such action.”
“What you can and can’t do makes absolutely no sense to me. You say you can’t interfere, but here you have been interfering with us since we came into this place. If you can’t interfere with the Oni then how did you get them to leave the village?”
Tsukuyomi: “A few strategically placed monsters were enough to convince them it was no longer safe here.”
“Then you allow us to leave here, and Inari can set up the area for them in her dungeon. I will set up a [Gate] to lead them to her dungeon, and if they don’t go through the portal on their own you can just chase them through with some monsters.”
Tsukuyomi: “I expect the remaining corrupt dungeons to be dealt with in a timely manner.”
Inari: “Shima is my responsibility and not Daddy’s, so if you tell me where they are and promise to deal with all of them but one, but for the last one I expect you to hold up your deal about assisting me in surrounding it with [Inari’s Providence]. I just can’t promise a timeline, because I have much recovering to do after dealing with this one.”
Tsukuyomi: “That not…!” –He starts to talk but is quickly cut off by Amaterasu.-
Amaterasu: “You provide a place for Tsukuyomi’s Oni, and cover the capital in [Inari’s Providence] within the next few weeks, and we have a deal.”
We then set up the details about when and where to set up the [Gate] to move the Oni. Even without ever being in that section of these tunnels, Tsukuyomi tells me to close my eyes, and when I do an image appears in my mind.
He tells me to focus on that image when I cast [Gate] saying he will take care of the rest, so as long as I cast it at the appointed time. Amaterasu sticks around until the end but doesn’t say anything else, only after Tsukuyomi tells us the restrictions on us are lifted, and he disappears from sight, does she nod to us and then disappears as well.
Inari: “If you will use your teleport spell to take us back to my village, I will set up an area for the Oni real quick, so we can get that out of the way. I am sure you are ready to get back home to see Mommy and Rory.”
Zoey: “And don’t forget you promised a big dinner when we return!” –She says excitedly.-
“I will remember to tell Roxy that dinner was your priority over her and Wolfric.”
Azami: “By now I am sure Roxy would expect nothing less.”
Zoey: “Roxy and Wolfric go without say!” –She says trying to defend herself.-
“First lets just worry about getting out of here.” –I say while casting [Gate]-
Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi promised that we were free to go now, but even after a portal forms after casting [Gate], it isn’t till I step through the portal arriving in the small temple that Inari made in the northern village, that I breathe a sigh of relief.
The villagers are quickly startled by our sudden appearance, but once they see Inari they quickly become ecstatic and some even begin to cry with joy. It takes a bit of work for her to get out of their sight long enough for her to work on the underground village for the Oni, but Chika manages to group them up to pray to Inari for those that were lost during the trip.
While Inari takes care of that, I send a message to Belinda telling her I have just one more thing to do before returning home, but promise her I will be home shortly. There is no reason for the others to not be able to return home though, so I go ahead and send Zoey, Azami, Poppy, and Lynx on ahead.
Once Inari has the underground village prepared she transfers me down to it. The village she built for the Oni is quite different than the one they had left, but it is twice the size and in my opinion, better in every way.
Inari doesn’t have access to the giant bugs, but there is a large area full of normal livestock. I don’t know if the Oni will know how to deal with them, but it was the best Inari could do. I don’t know how much xp she spent on the village, but just by appearance I am afraid if I saw the number my jaw would hit the floor.
“I am sorry you had to do all this, it was sort of my fault for volunteering to house them in my own dungeon, but it ended up having to be you instead.”
Inari:” Think nothing of it, I can’t say I would have done the same thing for a group of Oni, but were right in saying that every sentient being at least deserves their chance to live. It may take them quite a while to provide enough xp to make up the cost of this place, but they are Oni, so it might not take as long as you think, so it should work out in the end.”
“Still, I am sorry the decision was forced on you like that. Alright, it is almost time to set up the [Gate].”
Inari: “Alright, set it up over here.” –She says leading the way.- “I set this place up where we can hide behind the portal until all the Oni pass through, and they will never even know we were here.”
I am still not 100% sure if this [Gate] is going to work right, but Tsukuyomi said it would so I can only trust him. I focus on the image he placed inside my head while casting [Gate]. The portal at least appears so something seemed to have worked.
But after a minute passes and I have to spend more magic to maintain it I am starting to wonder if it worked correctly. After a few seconds pass however, from our hidden location we can see the Oni begin to pass through the portal, and begin looking around with worried yet surprised looks on their faces.
I have to maintain the portal twice more before Oni quit exiting the portal. When the Oni speak, it is in a language I do not know, but it doesn’t sound like the Shima language either, I look to Inari, but she shakes her head.
From the time we destroyed the corrupt dungeon and now I have managed to recover quite a bit of magic, but if I keep holding the portal open I won’t be able to cast the spell again until tomorrow, but I don’t know if all the Oni have made it through or not.
We can’t understand what they are saying, but they start to attempt to block off the portal so nothing else can pass through so I take that as a sign that is all of them and allow the portal to collapse. Others are starting to look around the area, and some are starting to get close to the location Inari and I are both hiding in so she transfers us back to the surface.
Inari: “I will have to keep an eye on them for a while, but I didn’t see a single one of them carrying a weapon, and the only exit is guarded by some of the highest tier monsters I can summon. I just have to make sure the humans don’t find the entrance from the surface either.”
“I am sure there is still a lot for you to take care of, but as soon as you get things taken care of let me know, and I will either take you to go see Rory and Belinda, or bring them here. Until then I better head home, I promised Belinda I would be home as soon as possible.”
Inari quickly gives me a tight hug as she says. “Thank you so much Daddy… I don’t think we would have made it without you.”
“I don’t know about that, I think you ended up saving us more than the other way around.”
Inari: “Maybe, but it would have still been too much for just us. Tell Mommy I have missed her and that I will visit as soon as I can.”
“We may be out of the dungeon now, but the great hunter is still after you for some reason, so be careful, alright?”
Inari: “You too…” –She says then finally lets me go.-
I pat her on the head and then cast [Gate]. I step through the portal and I am instantly assaulted by a massive amount of screens appearing before me. I am not worried about them all right now though, so I quickly slide them out of my view.
I can smell and hear cooking from the kitchen so I store my armor and things away in the dungeon inventory and then quickly head to the dining room. When I enter the dining room I see Zoey sitting in one of the chairs holding Wolfric up in front of her while making funny faces at him while Roxy has her arm wrapped around one of Zoey’s arms with her head on Zoey’s shoulder.
The sound of me walking in the room causes them to look over to me, Zoey smirks and I hear sudden movement as Belinda rushes from the kitchen and jumps into my arms hugging me so tightly that I can’t breathe.
Belinda: “I’m so glad you are home, I missed you so much!” –She says with tears streaming down her face.-
“I missed you too.” –I say rubbing the tears from her eyes and giving her a kiss.-
Belinda doesn’t seem to want to let go of me until she quickly says. “Oh no, dinner!” She then quickly pulls herself from me and runs back in the kitchen. I join her in the kitchen and she seems to be going overboard with the amount of food she is cooking, so I roll up my sleeves and begin to help her.
Belinda: “You just got home. You don’t have to do that.”
“I want to, because it lets me be next to you. Where is Rory at, I want to see her as well.”
Belinda: “When you sent the others ahead I asked Scylla to watch her so I could make some dinner. They should be here soon and they will bring her then.”
We then start working on dinner until Scylla and Kline arrive with the kids, I step out of the kitchen long enough to see Rory’s eyes light up when she sees me. She extends her arms out all the way while bouncing in Scylla’s arm while crying out. “Dadadadadada!”
Scylla hands me Rory and I give Rory a hug while she keeps calling out. “Dadadadada”
Zoey: “That’s not fair. When I walked in the door Wolfric just looked at me, smirked, and filled his diaper…”
Roxy laughs and comforts by whispering in her ear, which seems to brighten up Zoey’s mood instantly. Meanwhile Scylla then heads into the kitchen to take over for Belinda so she can join us in the dining room.
The house quickly fills with people while we laugh, cry, and joke for hours. Even Zoey and Roxy are not as quick to depart as they usually are. The celebration continues until long after the kids have all fallen asleep, and it is the wee hours of the morning before we all finally retire.