Duality I

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◈ FOUR YEARS AGO 

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“This outfit is so tight around my chest-!” 

Amae complained at her big brother, attempting to fix the frilly top that pressed against her breast in a suffocating manner. Sitting on a wooden chair, Onii was carefully polishing his blade with an S-grade enchanted sharping stone. This was the ‘Legendary-tier’ Katana「Sen」, which could slice through atoms, even space and reality itself, when activated by its contracted user.

In other words, it was the perfect weapon for stealth missions. 

Evidence would simply disappear from reality, without leaving a single trace of existence. In situations where infiltration was key,「Sen」exceled in silencing enemies and creating paths out of the impossible. It was Onii’s one of most prized possessions, obtained from one of the hardest dungeons in the world — The Void.

"I think you look absolutely beautiful," Onii replied as he looked up, admiring her maid outfit from top to bottom        

“I think you look absolutely beautiful,” Onii replied as he looked up, admiring her maid outfit from top to bottom. 

Mari mentioned something about a lady’s appeal so she purposely made the top more revealing. While it made sense because their opponents were mostly men, Amae felt that the cleavage exposure down the middle was way too much.

After all, she was only fourteen. A young budding adolescent. Her breasts were still somewhat flat as a cutting board but fortunately, she could feel them growing!

“I don’t feel that way. More slutty than beautiful.”

“Try spinning around like you always do.”

Amae spun around like a ballerina dancer as the white-apron and red-ribbons on her chest fluttered in the air. On top of her head, the white-brimmed headdress perfectly maintained her hair in an elegant bun as she graced the floor.

“There we go,” Onii nodded in approval. “Yep, you’re absolutely gorgeous, little sister.”

“I should wear this just for you.”

“I wouldn’t mind that at all,” Onii patted her head tenderly, careful on not undoing hours of intricate braiding. “But you should know that you look good in anything. I doubt even a plain mage robe look bad on you.”

“Aw… Thank you…”

Amae trailed off into a soft whisper, feeling warmness rushing to her cheeks. Suddenly, an idea appeared in her mind. One that would help alleviate the incredible anxiety that she had been accumulating for the past hours.

She casually skipped to her big brother’s side.

“Hey Master, do you have a special request for your maid?”

“What do you mean?”

Amae leaned into her brother’s ears and whispered seductively, wafting her warm breath to increase the ‘Little Sister’ charm.

“If you want a massage, your maid will gladly serve you. Or if your heart desires, a very special massage is also available~”

“Amae, as much as I want to, we don’t have time right now. You need to be inside the palace and meet King Hurley by sunset.”

Onii looked back into her eyes, his crimson-red pupils filled with an uneasy seriousness in contrast to the playfulness she exhibited. Amae knew big brother was right.

That was because failure was not an option. 

The plan was to have Amae infiltrate the palace and gather essential information — King Hurley’s daily routine, the Unpolites’ synergy as a team, amount of slaves they owned, and the possibility of capturing their target alive. After collecting the key intel, Onii’s will remove himself from the shadow and strike.

But having to act as a personal maid under the notorious King Hurley while being on constant lookout for his elite magician guards was a dangerous assignment. Far too perilous than all the previous quests Amae had embarked on. One wrong move could expose her identity and compromise months of planning that led up to this fateful day.

What if I mess up my duties…?

What if King Hurley forces himself on me…?

What if the Unpolites counters my「False Data」and appraises my magical abilities…?

Onii must have noticed the anxiety because he clung onto Amae’s back and pulled her into his sweet embrace. Amae felt her shoulder being caressed. Falling into his chest, she smelled a nice and familiar scent, feeling the cloud of stress inside fading.

“We’ll have lots of fun after the mission — I promise.”

“I’ll be holding you accountable then…” Amae muttered, burying her head deeper into her brother’s chest. She could hear his heartbeat thumping, which had a mysterious calming effect. “Do you mind if we stay like this for awhile…?”

“Of course.”

An indescribable feeling of warmth and comfort enveloped her entire soul as Onii rubbed the back of her head. His touch was nice and firm. There was only a single word to describe this moment — heaven.

“Big brother, what if I fail…?”

“You won’t.”

There was a brief silence.

“…I’m scared that I will.”

Onii pressed his two hands on her cheeks and looked at Amae straight in the eye. It was as if he was searching into the depth of her soul for the root of the anxiety. The resolution and confidence in big brother’s gaze showed how much he cared for her emotional well-being.

“On the slight chance that you do, then I will immediately come to your aid and protect you.” Onii smiled warmly. “Remember failures do not define who you are as an individual.”

“Our months of planning and research would be a waste if the espionage were to—”

“—I rather discard all that than let my precious little sister be hurt.” Amae could hear the sincerity in his tone. “Your safety or the mission’s success, I’m sure you already know my answer.”

Instantly, the invisible weight burdening Amae’s shoulder was lifted.

“I see…”

“Little sister, you worked hard for the past month in the selection process. We already ensured our chances of success are at an optimal level. But even with these preparations, we cannot account for the unknown. Because in reality, plans rarely go according to plan.”

Those were indeed the dogmas of life.

Life was far too complicated to consider all the other variables that might interfere with the operation. King Hurley’s haughty mindset. The Unpolite’s attitude towards maids and slaves. The formal gathering itself was filled with endless possibilities. Ideals versus expectations, Amae knew the contrast all too well as Yin of Duality. Throughout her experience on the past three God-tier quests, improvisation was common for a quest of that scale.

Although this quest did not have the mark of difficulty, the amount of time and effort including their targets and mission objective indicated that this was on the same level as God-tier quests. No, it was beyond that. This was a classified authorization, granted by the Elite Five with worldly consequences.

“And if you were to be compromised, we’ll do what we always do best.”

Onii glanced at his prized weapon, which seemed to shine brilliantly beside the lit candle. It was as if「Sen」had a consciousness of its own, echoing a silent bloodlust.

“After all, no one in the world can stop us when we are together, little sister.”

“You’re right, big brother.” Amae smiled, feeling the motivation within her returning. “Thank you for cheering me up. I will do my best tonight.”

“That’s a good girl~”

The two siblings leaned in and pressed their lips together, savoring the little time that they have before sunset arrives.

♦ ♦ ♦

The plain room they had lived in for the past month had only the bare minimum of furniture. There was a large queen-sized bed and an ebony-brown wardrobe in which the two siblings gladly shared. The final piece was a simple wooden table, which laid a variety of battle gears, enchanted weapons, scrolls, and spell tomes.

At first, Amae thought the room was too mundane but Onii made an important point. Living in the destitute part of the capital avoided any unwanted attention.

Upon their first arrival at Temecula, Oni and Amae made a grave mistake.

Entering the corrupted capital as known ‘Master-tier’ adventurers was asking for trouble. Instead of a formal greeting, their response lacked even the most basic respect. Within a few minutes of conversation, a group of Temeculan guards purposely detained the siblings and performed a comprehensive search for dangerous items.

It was obvious from their facial expressions and sneering tone that it was extortion.

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In the end, they were fined fifty Qian. This was not a hefty amount for Duality but it left a sour first impression deep in their hearts. One that explained the culture of this city.

Onii was now fully outfitted in his signature battle panoply: A Wolf-Kabuki mask paired with a daunting black robe that was trimmed in crimson red and decorated in gold. He sheathed「Sen」beside his waistline and nodded at Amae.

It was time.

“Are you ready, Yin of Duality?”

After taking a deep breath, Amae smiled in an elegant manner and bowed in reverence, similar to how a proper maid should act.

“Yes, Yang of Duality. Let us make history.”

  

『 Amae (01/24/20): Flashback has a certain type of appeal, doesn’t it? I love it when a game does that.

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