AN: before you say anything, I think it should be obvious that this is a more realistic AU, of course, some elements (namely Milim) stayed the same as from canon.
Milim offered me way too many laughs for me to change her.
I personally felt that any crossover with Worm, be it in its CYOA form or otherwise should have some amount of darkness in it.
Also due to the amount of negative backlash I got from the last chapter, I decided to review several plot points and move them up or altered them entirely, expect the seeds I sowed in this chapter and before to bloom faster than originally intended.
After we had checked Shizue into the hospital section of the Egg, we were prepared to give her an injection of Anesthetics.
But she refused!
Apparently, she didn't trust us yet, even with local anesthetics. In the end, we moved on with the reattachment procedure with her still conscious and lucid, biting on a towel through her mask to endure the pain as the machine got to work.
Honestly, it impresses me with how much she can endure and makes me seriously question what caused her to have such an unbending will.
What kind of trauma must someone go through to readily accept surgery without any anesthetics??
Nerves of steel indeed!
Like, to willing endure the pain of reopening the cauterized leg, to willingly watch as a piece of their leg flesh is taken to aid with the reattachment surgery, and...
I sighed as I looked away from the glass screen separating me and the operation room, a modern person would never be able to endure so much pain, and the twitches her body sometimes make made me cringe in discomfort as the glass muffled the quiet screams.
I have taken so much for granted haven't I? Anesthetics, liberty, economic growth, clean streets, even as I introduce these modern concepts to these primitives, I'm left with the answer of just how far will I go to see them accept my modern sensibilities?
These goblins are easy since they are highly adaptable, but humans...just need to look at history to know just how stubborn and rigid the humans are.
Images of the Egyptians whipping slaves to build pyramids flashes into my mind, followed immediately by photos taken of Soviet gulags.
Tapping a finger on the glass just as Shizue had passed out from the pain, my lips thinned into lines as I thought grimly of just how many deaths there will be in the future.
The door to the observation room opened as a robot carrying a cart full of vital chemicals ready to be decontaminated before entering the operation room.
[Medicine] combined with [Chemistry] telling me that these chemical concoctions are responsible for encouraging the muscle segments and bones to reattach themselves together before stitches could be used.
Taking one last look at the glowing "In-Operation" sign, I pulled out the pin from my watch and whispered "Teleport: 2-A" before pushing it in.
I disappeared in a flash of light.
"I'm assuming you all want answers?" I blinked into existence in the next room, causing the 3 adventurers to shout in surprise. Right before I had come to the hospital, I had prepared several different stories to tell as my 'backstory' before settling on this one that my gut is screaming at me to use.
"Hell yeah, I want answers! Like how the hell did you teleport without any magic!? it's impossible!"
Planning my next moves, I decided to try and appeal to their sense of humanity, "I...I am a creation of a particularly cruel family of very powerful artificers," I said while eying Rimuru, ensuring that, NO, we are NOT gonna tell them anything related to a Perfect Homunculus.
The group widens their eyes at the mention of such a name.
"You see, within certain Magic Houses there exists a VERY secret tradition of...of carrying the family legacy in the event where every member was to die. It's where Homunculus like me comes to play. I am what is essentially a record doll, a mobile library containing everything a family of magicians has been working on." I am totally bullshitting here and going with the cover story my gut had recommended to me, [Acting] is ensuring that I maintain a poker face while Rimuru looked at me with bewilderment.
"For the centuries I was alive, I was mindless, a mere doll for others to command...and do with as they see fit. However, whether by a miracle from God or pure chance, I was given the ability to have my own free will, a mind of my own, an ego, sentience. The family that owned me didn't like that. So they prepared to transfer all my knowledge into a new Homunculus and then destroy me."
To fully be able to act or lie, you need to fully embrace the mask that you put on, and truly act as if you've always had that mask for your entire life, "But the Young Master..." False tears form into my eyes, surprising even myself with how much [Acting] is capable of, "He ensured that I would get out alive, and when I asked why he would say 'live, you've never had a chance to, so as my final order as the Heir to the house you once served for too long, I order you to LIVE!'"
The story is affecting the adventurers as a solemn look fell like a curtain, Eren getting extra emotional.
"And so, I decided to live, to live on, to see the world. Eventually, I met up with this group of small goblins with a blue slime by my side, and upon taking pity on their situation I decided to help them build the things you see around me. That is why you cannot tell anyone of this, of my existence. I apologize for trying to kill you but please, see things from my perspective."
I ended the beautiful story, a beautiful lie for them to gobble up. Every step of the way I made sure my story have no loopholes. Why don't they just try and confirm it? Well, the powerful mage families in this Tolkien knockoff are extremely secretive, especially those in the Sorcerer's Dynasty of Sarion. There's no way they would confirm or deny it, other than calling those who accused them of this to be insane.
"What's the family's name?" Kaval asked, just as planned.
"I do not know, for I didn't have my own will for long before the family decided to replace me. What I do know looking back at it now is that the family was situated in the West."
Whatever objection to my story died in their throats as Eren, the mage girl, cried out loud, completely moved by my story.
Crickey, just how powerful is [Acting]?! and now the girl moved to embrace me in a bear hug-
ugh, why??? why are you sobbing into my clothes?! I just had this made after the last one went up in flames when I fought you guys! Unknowing to my inner thoughts, whether due to my poker face or being moved by my false story, I was enveloped in a hug.
"Are you all done?" I asked, "The Young Master is still alive from the last I've heard of him, so no need-"
"Listen, I know how you feel," the mage girl said, her lips trembling, "my-"
A hand fell on her shoulder, Gido looked concerned, his eyes saying all that needs to be said.
"Yes, yes I'm ready to say it. I NEED to say it it's been bottled up for so long" She closed her eyes before opening them, tears clear on the edge. "My name, my true name is Elyune H. Grimwald, I am-I was the daughter of Archduke Erald Grimwald of Sorcery Dynasty of Sarion before escaping that life, that that that-" she gritted her teeth as if the very mention of that thing pained her on a physical level. Her knuckles were white from how hard she was compressing them.
Good god, I almost killed the daughter of an Archduke?! Well more like was but still! It looks like I owe Rimuru one for dodging that political shitstorm and possible war. My eyes widen when I had that epiphany.
"My Father," she spits it out, "wants me to marry the prince, nay, he forces me to marry the prince, supposedly for my own 'good' or some random crap like that."
Surprisingly, [Psychology] is saying that everything the girl said is the truth. There's an uncanny parallel between her story and the one I chose that it seems the girl latches onto like how a drowning man latches onto a lifeboat.
"But the Prince is known to be someone who's...strange and his servants are replaced every month, the court gossip said he was a dreamy gentleman, the target of maidens everywhere. Of course, I don't listen to such things but..." She collapsed into my arm and cried softly, "I...I saw THINGS that day, things that a prince should not be doing, things that a HUMAN should not be doing...I tried to talk to father but he refuses to budge on the marriage proposal unless I had proof, and to have to marry such a monster for the rest of my life..."
I patted her softly on the back, comforting her. I can sympathize with her situation, you see back in my old world, I had a sister who's absolutely infatuated with this boy, completely and utterly, and would talk about him both day and night.
However, one day she returned home crying uncontrollably, when I asked what's wrong she said nothing. Due to me thinking it was teenager stuff, I had left it alone.
She almost killed herself with a slash on the wrist the following day. That was probably the most traumatic event of my childhood.
Of course, once the truth had come out, I was furious, however, I was powerless to do anything.
But there is a saying in China where it essentially translates to "revenge is never too late, even if it takes ten years." I had gotten a corporate executive position and used my connections and contacts to ruin the boy financially.
Ah, it was so sweet, I had a soft, heavenly smile on my face as I thought about it.
"And-And...and so..." patting her head I shushed her, only then did I realize that Rimuru had given me the appropriate amount of privacy and quietly left the room alongside Kaval and Gido.
"It's alright," I felt an odd sense of happiness, the type that one would feel when they connected to someone else. "I get it, you ran away from your father's influence in order to escape that monster of a prince, isn't it?"
Nodding, I had her move over to sit on the couch in the now emptied room and have her join me. What to do now? ugh, this is a powder keg just waiting to blow...I've read too many books and seen too many movies where a small lie at the beginning would backfire hugely later down the line, it's one of the reasons why I prefer to stay honest in my personal relationships.
"Wha-" slamming a palm over my mouth as I realize she fell asleep from the sheer emotional exhaustion that dump must've taken out of her.
I looked upon her sleeping visage, her elven ears radiated as her human disguise fell apart. My eyes drank in her admittedly beautiful form. Even if this can easily cause a scandal, I had to tell myself that this isn't my old world where a single half-hearted joke can cause you to lose your job.
Unknown to me at the time, from that moment I've just gained a new valuable ally for the future conflicts to come, even if the road was bumpy.
"You regret not taking anesthetics, didn't you?" I said with a superior smirk on my face.
"...yes..." Shizue had said quietly, her mask on her face blocking from seeing her features. She was walking around the patient's bedroom, testing her leg to see if it works.
It was only due to her losing and regaining her limbs in a single day that allowed her to not require much rehab.
"You're an otherworlder, aren't you?"
Whipping around, her legs still new to her as she stumbles around before catching herself by the bedside. "How did you know?"
"Well, the fact that you seemed to know whatever Rimuru was doing when he bowed was the smoking gun, however, you just confirmed it."
Her body language says she's afraid but hiding it well. The hostility that once existed between the two of us faded after getting her legs back at essentially no cost, however, once the hostility was gone there still lied a sheet of ice separating the two of us.
An uncomfortable silence descended on the room as Shizue tried to get up before sitting on the hospital bed. From the way she was moving, I can tell she's ready to fight at a moment's notice, a true warrior's spirit still lingers in her body even when it's healing.
Breaking the ice, Shizue spoke up, "I was told of your backstory from the 2 adventurers."
[Acting] instantly activated to make sure I don't screw this up. I doubt a woman as strong as she isn't well known, possibly even having international attention. Gaining her help and support will aid the Republic in gaining legitimacy and recognization on the international stage.
Ah, the bane of all new nations, in my old world, typically you would need to ally with one of the global superpowers to be seen as you 'existing'. However, in the Republic's case, it would be like if a new nation arose in the middle of Africa or the Ocean that has spacefaring capacities.
We would have a huge target on our back, yet at the same time, I do not doubt many would also come to our aid in hopes of getting a piece of our technology.
"I...there were rumors of some well-known mage families doing something similar to what you described, so I wouldn't say it's out of the ordinary for a family to transcribe everything they've learned into a Homunculus' brain." She said, the best lies in the world are those who have a sprinkle of truths mixed in, once I heard the existence of homunculus and how mental magic works, I knew there was a high possibility for at least one family to use the dolls as the ultimate hidden library, after all, who could've imagined this servant contains the secrets to creating artifacts that boggle the mind?
But I heard and understood what she didn't say, which compounded to 'you have your secrets, I have mine.' essentially it's a pact of silence, she wouldn't reveal my lie and I wouldn't reveal her status as an otherworlder, as otherworlders are seen as strategic weapons perfect for enslavement.
"As enlightening as your story is, I must ask, do you have the capacity to...remove spiritual possession?"
My eyes had a look of confusion, I was not expecting that. "What do you mean? like an exorcism?". Jokingly, I placed a charge in [Exorcism] and found out that, yes, there are so many ways to banish demons, and combined with [Magicule] gave me several different spells I can use to completely destroy a Baron rank demon while also seriously harming a Viscount.
"...Well sort of. You've created miracles I've never seen before, even beyond that of my own world. And from what little I can still recall, we were fighting a losing war against America."
World War II Japan?? Well, I guess I shouldn't be surprised but...She looked so young it's not even funny! "How old are you?" I blurted out without thinking, only to get smacked in the head with a thrown pillow.
"How rude, didn't you learn any manners from your stay at the 'Noble House'?"
"Apologies, so you want me to banish a spirit?"
She seemed to be silent as if she isn't allowed to actually say it. As if an everpresent eye is always watching, ready to strike if any of the terms are broken, completely devoid of privacy.
What a frightening concept. And if The Exorcist is anything to go by, possession of any kind rids the body of any semblance of will.
Taking her silence as yes, "The family I stayed with did have some entries on removing spiritual possessions. but...from my knowledge, there are many forms of spiritual possession, what kind of possession do you potentially want to remove from this...hypothetical person?" I framed the question in such a way as for the 'eye' to see Shizue referring to a friend instead of herself.
"This person is being possessed by a Greater Spirit."
[Exorcism] was silent on the matter as the being wasn't a demon. So instead I placed enough charges into [Spiritual Removal] before finally stumbling on a way to remove it, although it would be extremely expensive.
"The process to remove a Greater Spirit is very expensive and not everyone can afford it, are you sure this 'friend' of yours can pay for it?"
"I'll pay for them. I have connections. connections that would undoubtedly help a homunculus on the run such as yourself, personal wealth that can buy an estate in the upper section of Marris in the Kingdom of Falmuth, and a squeaky clean reputation as the Conqueror of Flame, these compounded will ensure it is worth it."
I had a smile on my face, yes this is indeed good. "Yes, but...you see, I am more in need of a strong bodyguard in the future to protect myself against the many threats that'll surely come, a shield that'll protect me loyally."
Her mouth thinned to a line at the implication of what I want, which is loyalty enforced through a contract, a 'Geas' these primitives are so fondly of calling it. The silence persisted until Shizue draped her head in submission, "very well, a contract then? For how long?"
Putting a finger on my chin, [Spiritual Removal] states that to remove the possession of a Greater Spirit, I would need many Magitech currently not built. Yet the thought of gaining someone as strong as the Conqueror of Flame as a bodyguard is just too tempting, long-term goals, Scientia.
"How long are you willing?"
Shizue's body language says she was in deep thought before turning to me and taking off her mask, allowing me to view her properly. Her black eyes filled with determination.
The left side of her face contained discoloring that only emphasized her being a warrior.
"I...I will become your bodyguard for as long as I shall live, as long as you help this 'friend' of mine and save her from the spirit possessing her."
I had a truly wide grin at that, [Planning] and [Economic Design] all rejoicing at the things the Conqueror of Flame could bring, [Strategy] thinking that Shizue could definitely help train the hobgoblins in hand-to-hand combat.
"I accept this contract."
[Guide to Victory]- a subconscious skill that guides the user to victory through mental suggestions and odd feelings they'll have every now and then. The ability is less useful on those of stronger wills as they are more likely to reject whatever advice the Guide gives them.
-[All the Possibilities]: whenever the Guide tries to think of advice, the power will go through every single possibility and select a range of options that result in at least some form of victory. Then it selects the options most likely to succeed.
-[Into the Unknown]: This Skill will passively simulate countless futures using the magicule within the host's body and collect data for what the user finds most satisfying before trying to nudge them towards that future.
-[Unseeable Future]: This skill cannot guide the user against any Ultimate Skill users as their future is too chaotic to be known, however, it does also have the effect of making the user a blindspot to any divination or precognition magic, skills, or artifacts. This effect can be extended if the Guide sees it as necessary to victory.
-[Conflict Drive]: The Guide seeks conflict as a secondary goal, so oftentimes, it will attempt to achieve victory through the most conflict-driven way unless it counteracts the user's safety or its primary goal of attaining victory.
AN: I felt the 3 adventurers were WAY underused, and so I offered them to have some character depth beyond just helpful background character.
If you guys are confused as to why Shizue didn't get overpowered when she had her mask off, recall what I said about the Vesta incident, I sped up the timeline by months so Shizue still could contain Ifrit somewhat.
and I need to somehow deal with Chloe Aubert and her stupid Grey Boy+ Time Looping.
Also, believe it or not, the false back story of Scientia was actually the first draft. The first version was going to be in Worm and Scientia was originally going to be a Bonesaw creation before eventually escaping.
BTW, if you guys still couldn't understand what Guide to Victory is, then just imagine Jack Slash's secondary power of subconsciously knowing what other Parahuman wants but instead for the future.
Several of Chekhov's guns are primed and ready.