B5 — 18. Week 3; The Tower of the Infinite Abyss of Nari

PoV:

1. Sora Moore (Our Null-Void Fox Mom!)

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Walking to the guest room, Sora opened the door and smiled at the colossal tower that took shape before her; Nari had created an entire pocket dimension inside for her daughter to play out her fantasies.

What good aunts I have…

She stepped inside and shut the door, glancing around to see a pixelated background in the distance; a forest opened up to display lush undergrowth, but naturally, the big center point was the ominous black tower.

“Aunt Nari…”  Sora snickered as dark clouds swirled into being from the middle of the fortress to swiftly become a raging storm, and her teenage-sounding aunt roared with laughter.

“Mua-ha-ha-ha-ha!  Foolish heroine!  To step foot in my Realm!”

“Mom!  Mom!  Help!  Evil Aunt Nari has taken me hostage!”

“Bia-ha-ha-ha!  Yes, fear me, niece—fear leads to the Darkside!”

“I’m trapped in a cage—oh, make a scary shark or something—Mom, there’s a shark!  Help!”

Sora chuckled as Seiōbo’s dull voice followed.

“I don’t think that’s the quote, Nari…  Weren’t we supposed to do a costume thing, too?”

Emilia gasped.  “Oh!  Oh!  Aunt Nari, I’ll make everyone outfits!  We can turn this into a fashion show!  Can we?!  Can we?!”

“Ooh!  Evil dress-up!”  Nari cheered!  “Yes, make me look eeevil, my captured little niece!  Ho-ho!”

Proceeding through the storm as lightning flashed around her—not all that concerning at her current level—she pushed through the fierce wind and pelting rain that didn’t touch her due to the Null-Void cloak she wore.

Emilia was having a blast, and Nari apparently wanted Sora to know her daughter was whispering secrets because Sora’s sharp ears only picked up hushed gibberish and highlights while her ‘evil aunt’ allowed their group time to prepare.

“Ooh!  Look at me, Bobo!  My corruption is working—mua-haha—soon our Darling Emilia will be influenced by the darkness!

“Noo!  Mom—save me from Evil Aunt Nari—I must resist her… her…  What’s it called, Aunt Seiōbo?”

“Eh…  Why am I suddenly in all of this black armor…  I can hardly see through this helmet.”

“Bia-ha-ha!  You’re my faithful minion, Sister!  Afflicted by a terrible curse that causes you to do all of my biddings!”

“You’re so evil, Aunt Nari!”

“Calamity I shall bring to your kingdom, Princess!”

“Isn’t it your kingdom, too?!  It’s not too late to turn from your evilness-essness!”

“Do I really have to wear this thing…”

“Wait, Aunt Nari, what if Aunt Seiōbo is the bad foxy magical girl—oh, and I can give her a wand—ah, and a cute outfit with purple highlights!”

“Mmmh…  Can she still be my mind slave?”

“Nari…”

“Yeah, your mind-controlled sister that tried to rescue me but failed—now my mom has to break her curse so they can team up!”

“Bia-he-he—you hear that slave sister—go get me chocolate!”

“Mgmmgmm…  Your wish… mgmgm… is my command…  Evil Nari.”

“Here—look, Aunt Seiōbo—do you like it?  Can you give the wand magic properties, Aunt Nari?”

“Too much work…  Oh, enchant your wand, Sister Slave Bobo!”

“As you command,” she mumbled, a tone utterly devoid of life it made Sora laugh.

“You look so cute, Aunt Seiōbo!  Oh, what about your monster army and commanders?”

“Bobo’s good at that stuff—make an army, my brainwashed cute big sis!”

“Ergmmm…  It is done, Mistress of Evil Nari.”

“Are you not having fun, Aunt Seiōbo?”

“Haaa…”  A bright and peppy voice—totally unlike the woman Sora had talked with through the night—cut past the storm.  “I’ll do my best, Little Sunshine!”

Nari burst into fits of laughter as Emilia cheered.

“Thanks, Aunt Seiōbo!  Oh, what do you two think of these clothes I made—do you think they’ll like them?”

“Hmm-hmm…  I’m sure they’ll love them.  Now, come, our troublesome niece that always gets in our way!”

“Heroines are so annoying!”  Nari roared.  “You won’t mess up my plot to turn the world to chocolate again!”

“Not the whole world!  That’s—you’re only supposed to have only a little chocolate before bed!”

“Mia-ha-ha-ha!  I will have all the chocolate!”

Reaching the doors, Sora casually pushed them open to walk inside the pitch-black space, even to her eyes; when passing beyond the barrier, the exit closed, yet something else caused her ears to twitch in mild surprise, vision drifting around the space as it brightened.

“Eh…  Huh?”

“What—where…  Sora—Liz?!”

“I… w-w-why am—Aiden!  Noo!”

Kari, Aiden, and Liz were spontaneously transported to the tower, causing Sora to force a smile.

Liz was half-dressed—and having gained a rundown of various customs or discovering a moral understanding with her previous curse lifted—the girl’s face was beet-red, arms crossed over her chest as she turned away.

Aiden appeared totally floored by the relocation and probably didn’t see anything, but the embarrassment he could feel from Liz was enough for him to instinctually turn away and blush.

On the other hand, Kari was in a black silk nightgown, looking unperturbed while scratching the back of her neck and turning to survey the area.

“Eh…  What’s going on?”

Seiōbo emerged from a swirl of black mist to perform an extravagant pose with her wand, cheeks slightly flushed.  “Welcome, heroes of—ahem—the Tower of the Infinite Abyss of… Nari, this is too long!”

“You must say the full thing, my tragic, utterly controlled, hypnotized magical fox girl sister!”

“Mgmgm…”

Forced cuteness returning, Seiōbo made a small twirl, thigh-high purple and red cross-stitched dress fluttering at the motion.  “Welcome!”

The corners of Seiōbo’s lips and left eye twitched with her ears, showing off her matching tights and heels.  “Welcome… to the Tower of the Infinite Abyss of Magical Oblivion in the folds of Ultimate Darkness…  I am Bobo, the Great Sage of Magical Despair…  You will join the Mistress of Evil or die…”

Sora wanted to laugh—violet lipstick, fingernail polish, twinkling eyes, and surrounded by radiant amethyst sparkles—her super-serious aunt had been totally dolled up.

Glowing wand flying into the air as Kari watched the performance with a curious half-smile, Seiōbo chimed, “I, the Great Sage of Magical Despair, will perform the duties I have been given… for… for the dream of a chocolate world!”

“Bia-ha-ha-ha!  Well said, Bobo!”

“Don’t look, Aiden!”

“I’m not!”  Aiden kept his eyes firmly fixed on Sora.  “What’s… going on?”

“Now observe!”  Seiōbo waved her wand to the side, creating a shimmering ripple in space to show Emilia in a cage hanging over a pool where a somewhat cartoonish shark was swimming.  “We have your daughter, oh noble queen of Vulpes!”

“Mom!  Help!  It’s evil Aunt Nari again!  You have to save her!”

“C-Can I please get some clothes—eh, what… are these?”

Another wave from Seiōbo’s wand and glimmering purple light surrounded them to dress them in Emilia’s fashion.

“Behold the power of Evil Nari!  Until you have purified your corrupted aunt—all of you will be locked out of your powers—forced to climb the tower using the magical equipment you gather along the way!  You are powerless in these halls—ha-ha-ha!”

“Mom!  Don’t worry!  I’ve enchanted clothing and items throughout the tower—I’m trying to keep Evil Aunt Nari’s powers at bay, but she’s sooo strong!  I don’t know how long my powers will last!”

Hehe, some holes in this setting, Emi, but I guess you’re doing it on the fly.

“Fight the hordes if you can, Magical Queen of Vulpes, Brawler of the Wolf Fang Kari, Healing Songstress of the Harp Liz, and Flaming Immortal Knight of the Shimmering Feathers!”

“I—I don’t get a name?”  Aiden asked with a forced chuckle, sheepishly looking down at his rather plane red armor and sword, his weapon sitting on the ground.

Liz was completely lost while staring at the harp in her hands and semi-revealing white robe, showing her upper bust and lower thighs.  “What is going on?!  I was about to take a shower…”

Sora smiled while lifting up a pink diamond necklace and the magical staff in her left hand she’d been given; waving it once, she saw rainbow colors trail after it.  Am I Sailor Pluto now?

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She’d allowed her dress to be taken over by the clothes Seiōbo replaced them with; having a slight warning that the magic was weaving around her, she gave it a place to set in by providing an exception for her Null-Void.

Sora now wore a galaxy-themed dress with white tones, such as the tights, gloves, and shoulder covering; it was very Emilia and showed a tad more work than the others’ base designs.

Kari laughed at her torn and beat-up clothing, lifting her hands to see the bandages wrapped around them while flexing her fingers.  “Is this… a part of Emi’s fashion show?”

“It is!”  Seiōbo brightly responded, making another pose that made Emilia’s eyes through the portal sparkle; Nari was still a shadow in the background, not wanting to reveal herself too early, Sora guessed.  “You will meet many obstacles in this Fashion Crucible Tower of Abyssal Ruin… he-he-mmgm—that’s name doesn’t even make sense—but do your best to try and purify this unhallowed dimension!  Ha-ha-ha-ha!”

“I’m rooting for you guys!”  Emilia called with a big grin and totally breaking character.

In a flash of violet light, Seiōbo vanished, laughter filling the space.

“Why is this happening today!”  Liz cried, falling to her knees in a mild pout.

“Haaa…  Sora.”

She gave Aiden an apologetic smile.  “I know what you told me the other day…”

Liz breathed in deeply and let it hiss out before trying to grin.  “It’s… fine, Sora…  Just please… a little warning next time.”

“I thought it was pretty funny,” Kari snickered, making a few swift jabs while showing excellent form.  “So… we’re not supposed to use our powers, right?  Eh—not that we can lower our durability or anything.  Hehe…  Although this is my kind of fashion show—fighting through monsters to show off the clothing…  Huh.  Cool concept, Emi.”

“Thanks!”  she chimed, showing they were watching.  “Oof—I mean—help me, Aunts, Uncle!  Look for the cute and cool stuff to rescue me!  Noo!  My powers to communicate are being blocked…  Hurry!  Eh, but not too fast!  Yes!  Hey, Luna, Rayla—you get to be bad guys today!”

“Yes!  I’ve been waiting my whole life for this moment!”  Rayla roared with laughter.

“Can I be the dark night fox girl?”  Luna asked.

“Mhm!

“Bua-haha!  More soldiers join the ranks!”

Aiden picked up his sword to smirk at the blade as it lit with flames and the girls’ voices ceased.  “So…  I guess I’m supposed to be the frontline guy with Kari.”

“How am I supposed to heal with… this thing?”  Liz asked, holding up her harp.  “I’m a healer… right?”

“Hehe… you heal by singing, Liz—eh, I think?”

Face flushing further, a lump dropped down her throat.  “Sing… I—I’ve only sung to Aiden and Alice…”

Kari began to limber up, looking them over.  “You don’t think Emi plans for Liz to be one of those pop singers as we go on.  Do you?”

“Pop… what?”

Aiden sighed, pulling her to the side to explain the kind of theme Emilia was probably pulling from for this type of setting.

Walking forward to join Kari, Sora chuckled.  “Sorry to rope you guys so abruptly into this.”

“It’s cool.  I was just getting up and was debating what to wear.  Hehe.  Emilia seems to be having fun with her aunts around.”

“She LOVES it!  Haha…  Man, she’s having the time of her life the last few weeks.  I don’t think it will be dangerous—”

Nari’s voice instantly interrupted.  “Bia-haha!  Fools!  Do not think there will be no consequences for your failings!”

Kari and Sora looked over at the couple in the corner as an HP bar appeared over their heads.

“For every life you lose, Emi will be forced to make me evil chocolate… for an entire day!  And—I get unlimited tickles!”

“No!  M-Mom!  You have to win—you can’t lose a life—she’s so good at tickling, and that’s so much work!  My life is in your hands!”

“Mia-hahaha!”

“Eh-heh, I suppose that answers that,” Sora mused.

Kari shook her head.  “Hehe.  Evil, indeed.”

After Aiden explained the system to Liz—the light pink-furred fox songstress steaming at the ears—they proceeded to the door.

Hands held behind her head, Kari hummed.  “What kind of monsters are we going to fight?”

“It’s only the first level,” Sora shrugged.  “We gotta level up and find items.  Look out for secret passages or hidden places with treasure, but I doubt the clothing will be that hard to find since this is a fashion rescue quest.”

“So weird…”  Liz mumbled, plucking at her dress top.

Aiden grinned, taking the lead with Kari backing him up.  “Let’s go!  I’m actually starting to get into this whole thing; seeing Liz dressed up in cute popstar outfits—I’m in!”

“Right?!”  Emilia giggled, a little ghost-like avatar appearing beside them.

Liz’s eyes widened.  “E-Emilia is…  Is Emilia dead?!”

“No, hehe, she’s just following along as our guide, I guess,” Sora said, waving at her snickering daughter.

“I’m a ghhooost!  Hehe!  No, I’m here to give you hints—eh, to support my Aunts and Uncle on their journey with the last of my diminishing powers!”

“You seem to have quite a bit of power,” Sora teased, reaching out to mime-rub her head, forcing her ears back.

“Yeah, cause I’m a super-powerful princess!”

Aiden nodded, sounding impressed.  “I can tell!”

“Mhm!”  Kari followed, jabbing her thumb at the doors.  “Monsters on the other side, Princess?”

“The Floor Boss will make his entrance!  Be careful; he’s a tricky one!”

“We’ll do our best, daughter—just focus on not getting taken over by your evil aunt.”

“I’m still resisting!”

“Good.  Good.  Okay, let’s go!”

Aiden shoved open the doors for them to enter another pitch-black room, and not too far from their left, a spotlight shone down from the fathomless ceiling to reveal a bearded, elderly man with white hair and nine long tails—it was totally White—with a big backpack more than five times the size of his body nearby and goods lying before him.

“Ah, my Queen, you have your noble knight and ladies by your side—good, good…”

“W-White?!”  Liz gasped, jumping behind Aiden with a blush while trying not to look at him.  “W-W-What are you doing here?!”

Stroking his snowy beard, Sora’s eyebrows lifted as the light in the room they came from faded, and snow began falling around them, a tragic violin moving in the background.  “I am but a traveling merchant, cursed by the wicked lady of this tower… forced to wander these halls and never find customers…”

Tears appeared in his eyes, showing excellent acting skills for his lines, his voice holding dramatic turmoil.  “I have… dreamt of this day for so long…  Finally, I have patrons…  I’d nearly given up all hope of seeing my sweet wife, and I pray she has been well these forty-three years I have wandered these halls, forced to give weapons of power to these fiends.”

“That’s so sad…”  Liz mumbled, actually totally buying the story until Aiden sent a short wave of strengthening inner flames to help grant at least a little resistance to the disguised Kitsune’s natural charms.  “Eh?  Mmgm…”

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“Oh, my Queen…  Please, take one of these items free of charge…  It is the best I can do given the strength of the curse placed upon me, but… if you can break eight Statues of the Beast, I can grant you… much more.  Please, my Queen, save this tormented soul…”

His upper torso faded for a spread of three items to shimmer into existence in front of him:  a hairpin, an icy runestone, and a choker.

Kari bent down to examine them with Sora as Aiden tried to distract Liz from her pout.

“Hmm…  The pin grants a one-second Lesser Heal cast time reduction…  The runestone adds minor Frost Damage to any item…  The choker, eh-heh… yeah, I’m good without the strength bonus—not a dog.”

“But it would look cute on you, Aunt Kari…”

“Sorry, Emi.”

“Okay…”

Sora picked up the hairpin.  “Is that a second reduction on each tick-heal from Liz’s songs?”

“Mhm!”

“Broken,” Sora grinned, snatching it up.  “Yo, Aiden…”

She tossed him the clip and gave him a thumbs up.

“Eh?  W-What are you…  Mmmh…”

Aiden grinned and brushed back Liz’s hair to put it in.  “Hehe…  I’ve never done something like this, Sora.  I don’t know what you’re expecting of me, but…  Hey, it looks cute on you.”

“Really?”

“Mhm!  It parts your bangs a bit to let me see your eyes better.”

“What does it do?”

Aiden was half done explaining when a low rumble shook the room, White disappearing for a deep, masculine voice to echo around them.  “Hmm-hmm-hmm…  You have stepped into my domain… taken my treasures?”

“Pfft…”  Kari couldn’t help but laugh.  “You… you collect cute hairpins and chokers?!  Interesting hobbies, Man!”

A spotlight shone from above to illuminate a figure high above them, dressed in all black armor; tall and imposing, holding a greatsword in front of him as he leered down at them… was White, yet again, but this time with dyed black tails and hair.

“Your mockery does nothing to lessen your crimes…  You face Death.  Hmm-hmm-hmm.”

He waved a hand to the right, White’s voice booming and making Emilia quiver with delight at the performance.  “Let the crucible begin!”

Emi really roped everyone into doing this…  I have a bad feeling about the future, though.  What tricks await us?

“Here they come!”  Aiden cheered, putting his helmet back on and raising his sword for it to light with a dull flame.  “You got me, Kari?”

“Hehe.  I feel a weight pressing down on me, so…  It’s like pushing through ultra-dense water.  Yeah, I’m getting pumped up!”

“I…  I just sing?”

“You got this, Babe!”

Ooh, on the babe stage, huh?  Sora mused, twirling her wand around like she did as a little girl.

“You’re so good at that, Mom!”  Emilia gasped.  “You look so amazing!”

“Hehe!  So, we got goblins as our first opponents?”

“Typical,” Aiden laughed, launching forward.  “Let’s go, Kari!”

“I got the left four!”

“There’s only four!”

“Exactly!”

Touching her diamond necklace, light surrounded Sora as Seiōbo’s magical signature spiraled around her, sparkles flashing through the air.  “For Love and Justice!”

Thrusting the wand forward, a string of colorful lights spun around Kari and Aiden to turn the goblins into glitter.

+5 Exp

+5 Exp

+5 Exp

+5 Exp

Party Share:  +2 Exp

“Sora!”

“Hehe.  Too slow, guys!”  she grinned, spinning her weapon around to give them a toothy sideways peace sign.  “Better step up, or I’ll out-level you!”

Liz’s glossy pink lips parted in disbelief.  “I… didn’t do anything.”

“Gotta be quick to the Exp!”  Sora chimed.  “Next!”

“Ho-ho-ho,” Dark Knight White mused.  “Be careful what you ask for…  Release the horde!”

Another rumble shook the tower, and purple gates appeared for dozens of goblins to rush out, slobbering everywhere and making a ruckus.

“That’s what I’m talkin’ about,” Kari laughed, smacking her fists together.  “Let’s get to work!”

Aiden and the Fenris Wolf dashed in opposite directions to meet them, Liz awkwardly singing some song the Firebird had taught her, which had some interesting context for the couple, making Sora grin.

Spinning around, she took care of any goblin that escaped their two melee fighter’s slaughter, and the Exp rolled in.  None of them took damage, but Liz kept practicing her song magic, plucking at the instrument that mirrored the guitar of the song she was thinking of.

After several waves of higher-tier monsters like orcs and wild beasts, their small number of abilities increased for the boss to take the stage—big Black Knight White himself—and in the now fully illuminated coliseum, he brandished his shadowy sword.

“Fools!  You think yourselves triumphant?”  A pulse of dread hit Sora and made her take a step back, White’s stern face darkening with malice she didn’t think possible.  “The end is upon you…  Your kingdom will perish—it is only a matter of time.”

“Ooh…”  Kari shivered.  “Anyone else feel that when White looks so intimidating?  Now this… is getting me excited.”

Sora forced a grin, White’s crushing black aura was radiating around them more than she thought it would be.  “Hehe, eh…  I guess he’s getting into his role.”

“A-Aiden…”

“I got ya!  Let’s do this, Mr. God of Death!  I’m immortal, you—”

“The skies turn crimson with the blood of the fallen!”

Aiden flinched with them as the lights flashed red, and dark energy radiated from White’s extended blade to dance around them—everything they’d slain began to rise from the ashes.

“For the damned, there is no peace… no mercy…  The Vulpes Nations are finished!  Soldiers of the Abyss!  Minions of Malice!  Hear the calls of the High Lord!”

Bubbling laughter echoed around the halls as champions of the past rose with the fiends they’d killed, breaking through the stone ground, ghosts floating out of the walls.

“You will never leave this place…”

“Woah, eh… hehe… guess we’re entering the Boss phase,” Sora muttered, hand tightening around her wand as White monologued, his greatsword pointed in their direction while a pillar carried him into the air.

“You have no idea what horrors lie above…

“You have seen nothing!

“The undead halls of Malignus await you!”

He vanished from sight, a massive abomination with a cannon arm breaking through the floor to meet them.

Taking a deep breath as the throng prepared to attack, Sora saw the look of amazement on her daughter’s ghostly face at the terrifying horde about to charge them.

“Okay…  Tutorial over—I think you’re taking this too seriously, White!”

“What do you mean, Sora?”  Kari laughed.  “I’m just getting pumped up!  Let’s go, Aiden!”

“Right behind you!  Sora…”

“Eh-heh, I got Liz.”

“Mmgm…  I guess I’ll sing…”

Emilia gave her a big grin.  “Good luck, Mom; I’m counting on you!”

“Yup!  I’ll save you, Emi!”

“I’ll be waiting!”

Her ghost vanished for the encounter to start.


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