I held Kunou on my shoulders as we stepped through the portal. The adorable fox grabbed my hair to hold steady, giggling as we left Skyrim.
"Heya, Gramps." I greeted the old man as we walked into his home slash workshop.
"Well, well, look who decided to drop by." Zelretch smiled back, his girlfriend sitting next to him.
"Lucretia, you're looking as beautiful as ever." I gave her a polite nod. I Still didn't know what to call her yet….. so I guessed I'd just wait to see what fell into place.
I turned to the last person in the room, sitting opposite the two older members. "Who are you again?"
"Good to see you too, Schweinorg." Rin deadpanned.
"Daddy, it's auntie Rin! How could you forget!?" Kunou chastised me, not catching the fact that I was being facetious.
I picked her up setting her back on her feet. "Of course, how could I forget?" I rubbed my daughter's head. "Why don't you go give your Auntie Rin a big hug~"
Kunou took the cue as she ran towards the younger Magus, who's eyes widened as she did her best to intercept the fox-shaped missile.
"Gah, so cute!" Rin groaned out, giving her a hug. "I can't even be mad at you, Schweinorg, this isn't fair."
"It's good to see you, Rin. Seems like our schedules are making it hard to bump into each other recently." It's good that she's doing her own thing though, getting out there and living her best life.
"Yeah, Yeah." She huffed, still cradling Kunou in a hug.
"My Granddaughter is irresistible."
Kunou perked up. "Hi grandpa Zelretch" She waived from within Rin's arms.
"Hello little fox." Zelretch smiled brightly.
"Tactical Kunou strikes again." I replied without a hint of shame.
"Weaponizing your Fox Daughter, well done my Grandson." Zelretch nodded in approval, which earned him a shoulder smack from his paramour.
"Zelretch." Lucretia huffed, giving him a glare. She got up, walking around the table towards Kunou. "Hello there, cutie~"
"H-hello." Kunou looked hesitant as she usually did when meeting new people. "I'm Kunou."
"And I'm Lucretia, you can call me Grandma." She smiled brightly. "And you're in luck, cause Grandma just made a batch of cookies."
Huh, that's lucky timing.
Kunou's eyes began to sparkle? as she looked over to me.
"Go head." I let out a sigh. "I'll just let your mother get mad at me for letting you eat so many sweets." She was going to be bouncing off the walls all night. Perhaps even literally in her case since she could turn into a cute little fox.
"Let's go to the kitchen." Lucretia held her hand out, which Kunou happily took it as she was led away.
"She ate one of those monstrous sweet rolls over in Skyrim." I rubbed the bridge of my nose.
"You mean the ones that are like….as big as her head?" Rin asked.
"Are there any others there?"
"….now that I think about it…." Rin just blinked. "I couldn't get through a third of one…"
A thought crossed my mind. "I assume Artoria could finish one off easily?"
"Try four." Rin snorted with a laugh.
"Sounds about right." Honestly, it was cute to see how gluttonous Artoria could be.
"So what brings you around, Wilhelm?" Zelretch spoke up. "Something you want to tell me?"
"Not in particular." I had a strange feeling.
"Hmm? Nothing at all? Not any sort of….scandalous bit of information?" Zelretch was failing at holding back a growing smile.
I narrowed my eyes, staring at him then I looked at Rin who didn't meet my gaze, instead turning a slight shade of red.
"Alright, who told you." I crossed my arms.
"I don't know what you mean." Zelretch hummed.
"Was it Artoria?" I raised an eyebrow. "No, she wouldn't. Maybe she'd tell Rin, but Rin's acting too flustered."
Rin, just flushed further in response.
"Scáthach?" I tapped the table. "She definitely would, but I don't think she's been back yet."
"No one's told me anything but you." He held his arms up with a 'I don't know' gesture.
I stared at him for another moment before taking out an emerald from my ring. I channeled some Magical Energy to my finger and began to engrave a Rune onto the emerald. Blowing away the excess, I held it up to my eye, looking at the old man again.
"Really?" I sighed, setting it down. "Did you really disrupt your own time flow just to tease me?"
Zelretch started laughing. "What gave it away?"
"The cookies were way too well timed." I shook my head. "You must have known we were coming" For real, he, well we, would go to some impressive lengths sometimes just for a chuckle. "And you give me a stern talk about time traveling, yet you're doing this." I rolled my eyes.
"Oh, I'll snap back in a few minutes. And Lucretia actually likes baking, I've actually had to give away some because we were running out of room." He chuckled again. "And you darn well know I was speaking of true time travel, not merely messing with your temporary temporal alignment. I made sure to keep it a closed loop and with no causality disruption, so there's no issue."
"Uh huh." I crossed my arms again, giving him a dry look.
"You should take some stuff back with you, I'm sure the girls would love some homemade treats." Zelretch smiled warmly.
"If Kunou doesn't eat them all first." Yeah, the girls would love that sorta thing.
Actually, that wents double for Artoria too.
"Did you really bang your Grandmother, Schweinorg?" Rin asked, and weirdly, it didn't feel judgmental.
The Old man must've told her. Funnily enough, Zelretch didn't even bat an eye. Well, it seems pretty obvious that it wasn't really something that would phase him. If I wasn't stressing over it, he probably wouldn't care either.
"Yup." I wasn't going to be embarrassed by it.
"Why would –"
I waived my hand, creating an illusion of her image floating between us.
"God damn." Rin corrected herself, staring at my new woman. "But seriously, I know you're a pervert but you wouldn't get led around just because she's hot."
"To be honest, I found her charming and intelligent. When we spoke, I sorta found myself fond of her and she broached the idea of something together, so I accepted." I followed it up with a shrug. "That besides the obvious, you know, finding her drop dead gorgeous."
No one could say that Venelana Gremory wasn't a stunning woman.
"Not even the strangest thing I've come across this week." Rin shook her head. "I'm pretty sure there's a Lord in the Clock Tower that made a homunculi in the shape of his daughter and married her."
"That's weird." I just blinked. And that was coming from someone who added their grandmother to their harem.
"You seem to be in a good mood as well." Zelretch leaned forward, propping himself up with both hands. "And I don't mean that due to certain indiscretions you partook in with your grandmother."
"I feel a lot better than I have in awhile." I fully admitted. "Felt like I got some stuff off my chest that I needed to and well, you should know the details if you're messing around with time." I rolled my eyes again at the absurdity of him doing that for a quick laugh. "Very cathartic."
Admittedly, the fact that I'm banging his mother was something I took pleasure in. Though it wasn't at all what swayed my opinion, I'm not that petty, nor would I open myself up to a woman just for that.
Will I say something if he runs his mouth infront of me? You better damn believe it.
Zelretch shifted slightly in his seat, and I watched as his normal flow of time returned to normal, he winced slightly but otherwise didn't react. "So what brings you here, just dropping in or need something?"
"Do you not know?" I tilted my head.
"This is as far as I came." He shrugged. "We were having a wonderful talk about the nature of Lucretia's magic and how it translates in her own world. You're always welcome to stay and participate."
"I don't want to intrude if you guys were busy." I scratched my head. "I just wanted some opinions and maybe some future help on something. Besides that though, I had some free time before the Girls were done with what they were doing, and I thought Kunou would like to see you guys again."
"Oh nonsense." He waived my off. "What can we do for you?"
"Actually, I'm happy Rin's here as well, and Lucretia."
"Did someone call me?" The aforementioned woman walked out with a tray of cookies half full, and Kunou's cheeks were noticeably bulging.
Yasaka was going to force me to sleep over just so I'm forced to sleep on the couch and take care of Kunou until she crashed.
"Yes, actually." I raised my head as she took her seat again, Kunou sliding in right next to her. "I wanted some opinions on an idea I've had but haven't quite worked out yet."
"Sounds interesting." Lucretia started to nibble on a cookie. "But I don't think my knowledge and experience will be of much help, our systems are so different in application."
"Well, maybe, maybe not. What I want to do relies heavily on established legends and symbolism."
"Oh?" Lucretia looked intrigued.
"Alright, so has gramps told you about my Nine Realms spells?" I asked.
"He only vaguely described them at some point." She said nonchalantly. "Sounded interesting enough. And I'm sure you got enough people in a tizzy back home because of it."
"Well, I cast my Yggdrasil recently, and my new Divinity definitely had an effect stabilizing it." I needed to do a thorough test of everything now. "But it also gave me an idea for something else." Particularly because I didn't think it would be able to support this before now. "You also know about Ddraig, right?"
"The Dragon in your soul?" She quirked her head.
"That's right." I confirmed.
"Yeah, you can summon him in your Gauntlet." Rin also spoke up. "I think I know where you're going with this if you're basing everything off the Norse Cosmology."
"Indeed." Zelretch rubbed his chin. "I could take a guess or two, but continue."
"It's probably as you assume, there is a dragon associated with the World Tree, and I thought about creating a spell to bring Ddraig's spirit out temporarily and inhabit the legend and myth of Níðhöggr. A sort of pseudo-summoning using the Tree as an anchor and tricking the world into thinking he is Níðhöggr."
Níðhöggr was the poisonous dragon that ate the roots of the world tree in Norse Mythology. There were varying accounts on the beast, but it was something that even the Asgardian Gods feared. Something that existed on the same level as Fenrir, Surtr, and Midgardsormr.
[Brat, you're serious about this?]
I knew it's not exactly like I promised, and I'm still working on that, but I wanted you to alteast be able to come out. You're my partner, I want to fight by your side.
[…Whatever. I guess it's not strange, of course you would need my help.] He huffed, going silent again.
"What an interesting line of thought." Zelretch genuinely looked intrigued. "But it won't be easy, the Boosted Gear is supposed to be a prison."
"I know." I ran a hand through my hair. "I feel like….I have a bunch of pieces and I want thoughts on how to assemble them to see if anything is missing."
"As interesting as this is, why did you want me here?" Rin asked. "I'm not exactly an expert on this stuff."
"True, but who was the one who thought the Kaleidophones were an obvious idea?" I pointed out. "Believe me when I say, I genuinely want your input and opinions. You may not be an expert in the crafts I'm using, but you have a perspective that neither I nor Zelretch seem to have."
Rin looked…proud? And there was an added hint of embarrassment at the praise.
"And my knowledge on Legends and Myths with how they interact with the physical world." Lucretia hummed.
"And the plethora of other knowledge you've gained over the years." I nodded.
"Oh my, he sure does know how to butter someone up." The old Witch giggled.
"You plan on bringing others in on this?" Zelretch asked.
"Scáthach and Jinn." I thought off the top of my head. "Maybe ask Kairi for some input since he's more adept at Necromancy....possibly Medea if she's up to it."
"Hmm, Necromancy might be an avenue worth looking into. Not quite raising the dead by jailbreaking a spirit." Zelretch muttered to himself. "And if I'm not mistaken your original spells make heavy use of Runecraft, so Scáthach will be required. And Medea is frightful in how much magical knowledge she's amassed in her life."
"And Jinn's been studying Skyrim Magic for awhile now, with her speed, she's probably mastered enough to match the Archmage." Being a Spirit of Knowledge wasn't something just for show.
"That's an amazing lineup." Rin commented, a thoughtful look on her face.
"Hopefully it's enough to get my partner a little bit of freedom, even if temporary." I was hesitant to ask Meridia, I was fairly sure she could do something, but I didn't know how much effort it would take. Ddraig wasn't exactly on the same level as creating Dawnbreaker. He was a significantly powerful individual.
Would she have to consume some of her power to recreate his body or something like that? I didn't want to ask her something so...draining, especially when she talks about how the other Lords were always watching each other for openings.
I'd rather we crack this the old fashioned way than risk one of my girls.-
[Brat.] Ddraig whispered. [….thanks.]
"My, this is giving me a lot of ideas." Lucretia smiled brightly.
"Yes, I can't say I've been this excited to research for a couple years now." Zelretch seemed to share the enthusiasm. "To summon a dragon, well, this is going to be quite interesting. Your other portions of the spell use Symbols and Anchors, should we start with that? I don't think you can use the Boosted Gear since it's still bound to you."
"Yeah, I'm going to need to find something that works. Maybe see if a piece of Ddraig's body is still floating around somewhere or something." I honestly hadn't made it this far yet.
"Why not make something?" Rin asked.
"Hmm?" I looked towards her.
"You got a bunch of dragon bones and scales, right? Why not make a staff or something like those ones that're in Skyrim. I've seen a bunch that can summon those Daedra or other creatures. Maybe do something like that?" She offered, if a little hesitantly.
"That's….a good idea?" My eyes widened as I thought about it more. "No, that's a great avenue to explore."
"Daddy, I'm tired." Kunou yawned as I embarrassingly forgot she was there while getting swept up in the conversation. I looked down, realizing she ate the entire tray of cookies and was apparently crashing instead of going into a sugar high.
"Why don't you settle your stuff and we'll meet up in the next few days to properly discuss this?" Zelretch offered.
"That would be appreciated." I couldn't help but smile seeing the sleepy fox. "I'm heading out with Yasaka and Kunou but we should be able to squeeze something in sometime later this week." Still didn't know the exact date for the festival, but we'd probably solidify a time after this meeting with the other Youkai.
I stood up, walking over to Kunou, she lazily held her arms out as I picked her up.
"Alright, my little fox, let's go home." I whispered, rubbing her head gently. I was sure that Yasaka was probably back at this point.
"Yeah, it's getting late." Rin stood up, stretching. "Thanks for everything, old man."
"Think nothing of it. You're my student, and It's my duty." Zelretch smiled. "And you've been doing absolutely wonderfully so far, I'm very proud of you, Rin."
The younger magus showed a red face at the honest praise.
"Oh she's so cute~" Lucretia teased. "And a granddaughter!" Lucretia exclaimed. "Zelly, our granddaughter is so adorable!"
Jeez, she was quick to latch onto the idea, not that I could talk there. I guess we're all a bunch of weirdos who were happy to accept these abrupt relationships.
"Can you say bye to your grandpa and grandma?" I said softly to my little fox.
"Bye, grama and grapa" She sorta slurred it with a tired tone.
"Coming with, Rin?" I offered her a ride.
"Yeah, I'd appreciate it." She nodded as I opened a portal and we both walked through.
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