E c c h i W o r l d . c o m

Ecchi Section => Ecchi Manga Fanfics & Stories => Topic started by: MahluaandMilk on May 15, 2018, 07:56:22 PM



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Title: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 15, 2018, 07:56:22 PM
Yeah remember that thing I only posted about literally a few hours ago? I have something resembling a first chapter and an idea on where to go from here. We may have ourselves another story enough to start building up our own universe here. Or expand on MRverse. However you wanna look at it.

Without further ado or explanation:


RESET
Chapter 1
Sometimes, MR City was just too busy of a place. Between Coryn and Lego duking it out on the reg, an old legend returning, and the array of usual shenanigans, a raider would do well to practice some mindfulness meditation and chill.

Or general Pagan-y magic whatnot level meditation. One can, if trained, commune with the gods in prayer or worship, even join them on their plane. With the bridge to EcchiWorld destroyed after the Twins’ stint genderbending the city, such meditation was the most accessible way to visit the pearly sister city. The technical term may or may not be “astral projection”, and raider MahluaandMilk may or may not be keen on abusing it.

Technicalities aside, Mahlua drew her hood over her face and continued along the cobblestone street of the majestic acropolis. Such streets never knew the destruction and havoc like MR. Occasionally, at worst, a stray spam ninja would squirm its way in, but they could be easily dispatched. In fact, that was part of the reason Mahlua enjoyed visiting the place.

As if on cue, a shadow scurried down the alley to the raider’s left. Her attention snapped to it. A smile curled on her lips as she followed the sound of its padded footsteps. Now, the city liked to change on her with the way it slowly stretched its corridors from the temple. She knew that. Anything could change over the course of a few weeks’ absence. What might have been a dead end one week could easily lead to an amalgamation of streets and more winding alleys the next.

This week, the raider met with the backside of a curious new motel blocking her way. Surrounded by more brick walls, some dumpsters and recycling bins, and rusty fire escape ladders, Mahlua crossed her arms and pursed her lips. Her eyes didn’t deceive her, did they?

From behind, a thick Russian accent coaxed, “Hey kid, want some Viagra?”

“Jeez, the spam ninjas are so weird here,” Mahlua sighed, turning to face the menace, fists raised.

The dumpster beside her rattled, and out from its questionably sticky depths, another ninja launched itself. Mahlua deftly stepped aside and grappled the beast by an arm. It turned to face her, rank breath grazing her face. “Cheap pharmacy stimulants for free, yes?” It said. Mahlua rolled her eyes and thrust her knee into its ribs.

The other ninja sprung for the attack as if to assist its buddy, only to be knocked down by the one he charged in to help. Mahlua dusted off her hands and took two fingers to draw a simple sigil—an upright triangle—in the direction of the inept enemies. A furious green flame erupted from the triangle’s center and burst against the dunce duo and caught instantly.

Screaming, the ninjas appeared to dance in a circle, patting themselves in a pathetic attempt to out the fire. One even managed to drop to the ground and start rolling.

“Idiots…that’s not just any fire,” the witch chuckled, resting her fingers to her temples. “Seriously, show a little bit of sideboob and even spam ninjas drop in IQ by at least forty points. You two probably hit the negatives coming in here. I’m almost sorry for you.”

“Dropping by forty puts you at the lower end of average, doesn’t it?” a familiar voice echoed.

“Psh, if I’m being modest, probably,” Mahlua turned to face the Tan on the roof nearby. “What brings you outside the temple, Ecchi-tan?”

“You, actually,” the pink haired girl said, gracefully hoping from the slanted shingles to solid ground.

“Me? I may be one of the few women around here, but I’m not that special,” Mahlua shrugged.

Ecchi-tan stepped forward, invading the witch’s space. “Don’t sell yourself short. You’re still able to come to and from here as you please, which is a bit of a task for some of our other residents. The collapse of the bridge has actually been a little, ah, troubling to our traffic flow.”

“And you believe that I can help with that?” Mahlua raised an eyebrow.

“To an extent. What we need is a new bridge, that way we can start making room for more guests than your little friends there.” Ecchi gestured to the crispy remains of the spam ninjas with an approving nod.

Mahlua leaned against the wall behind her and crossed her legs. “Forlorn and Dev seem to be able to get back here from time to time just fine on their own, but I assume you’re talking about something a little bigger than that.”

“Well, first thing’s first, we need EcchiWorld to be more stable. You’ve noticed that it continues to grow, right? The city has an ambition, but it needs to be controlled. It’s gotten a little too big for its population. So really what I’m asking from you is two little adventures,” Ecchi-tan explained. “First, you’ll need to find the heart of the city and reboot it, so to speak. Not like, factory reset, but like, turn it off and back on again.”

“Uh…huh.” Mahlua’s voice went flat.

“Then, we construct a new way for raiders to more easily access EcchiWorld from MR City directly. That’ll be the easy part.”

“And what about all that ‘heart of the city’ stuff?”

Ecchi-tan laughed. “Well, you know that labyrinth from the great raid last year?”

Silence hung in the air.

“You’ve gotta be kidding me.”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 16, 2018, 12:55:07 PM
The adventure continues. Good gods, what have I gotten myself into?

Chapter 2:
When a Tan asks something of someone, usually it’s not a request at all. Even so.

“The labyrinth. The sprawling maze full of dragons and booby traps? You want me to go back there to reset the city?” Mahlua asked, desperation creeping into her voice.

“It won’t be quite so bad as it was during the raid,” Ecchi-tan said, swinging her weight from toe to heel and back. “The city had all its defenses on then. You’ll be going in with those turned off this time.”

“And why exactly would I want to do this?” Mahlua pressed.

“I can come up with three reasons of the top of my head. First, it’ll be a big help in stabilizing and building up EcchiWorld as a whole. Secondly, I know you raiders are chomping at the bit for any and all information that could ever help you in those annual raids. How’re those scars healing up, by the way?”

Mahlua flinched.

“And, thirdly, Lewd and I have decided that this is the perfect way to test you,” Ecchi said, ceasing her swinging.

The raider pressed her lips together into a fine line for a few moments. “What is this test testing? And what’s the benefit of passing?”

“Only something you’ve been pining after for a good two years now: security clearance for the second level of the administration temple.”

“I’m in,” Mahlua said without a shred of hesitation.

Ecchi-tan clapped her hands together and smiled a smile that would melt hearts. “Great! I knew we could count on you. Slip on back to your body in MR to prepare. When you’re ready, I’ll phase on over there and bring you back physically so you can be in peak condition.”

---

Ecchi Pub throbbed with the swelling baseline of a gyrating electronic dance song. Three patrons sat at the bar, sharing drinks. The one in the middle bore a heavy mace on one hip, a khopesh at the other, and a whole bag of goodies on her back.

“Looks like you’re ready for a fight,” Lewd-tan said, swirling her glass with a greasy smile.

“Good thing, too. Just because everything is in sleep mode for now doesn’t mean that some of the defenses won’t trip and get in your way,” Ecchi-tan added.

Mahlua nodded. “I take it finding the heart of the city won’t be easy,” she said, “Let alone figuring out how to reset it?”

“Actually, finding it isn’t the hard part. It’s located in the big tower at the center of the maze. It’s mostly just getting to it,” Ecchi-tan said.

“It will look like a circle of pillars surrounding a pool of water. You’ll know it’s the right one when you step into the water. It will heal any and all wounds you have. From there, you can sync with the city’s essence, and you’ll have to reset it manually from there,” Lewd-tan explained.

“I’m starting to understand why you couldn’t just send Rubix or someone else for this mission. It always comes back down to magic with me,” Mahlua sighed.

The twins shared a look and nodded.

“Guess there’s no time to waste, then.” Mahlua rose from her seat and finished her drink. “Take me to the entrance.”

---

Ecchiworld’s bright sun hung at its zenith, blue skies fading slowly to white as the expansive city reached its limits. Three familiar entrances cut through the high walls that separated the labyrinth from the rest of the city.

“Good luck,” Ecchi-tan smiled, giving Mahlua a sturdy pat on the back. With that, the twins disappeared.

The raider stood ready and took a deep breath. Upon its release, she strode through the middle path. Darkness enveloped her for a few moments as she passed under the tunnel, but the light on the other side drew her to it. Once on the other side, the labyrinth snaked out before her. It looked much smaller than it did during the raid, no doubt because it wasn’t out for giblets at the moment. On the horizon, the tower rose sharply from the maze walls.

Mahlua halted at the labyrinth’s mouth and slung down her bag. She groped through it and drew out her old friend the pendulum. She cracked a smile and muttered a spell to link the pendulum’s energy to the tower’s, causing it to emit a faint purple light. With the tool in hand, she hoisted her bag back over her shoulders and started on her way.

At every intersection, Mahlua held the pendulum by the chain and let it dangle, circling clockwise until the weighted end tugged on the chain and pointed her the fastest way to her destination. She tried to remember every turn required to get to the center, but before long, all the walls melded together in her memory. Rather than test if it was a defense mechanism, she gave up memorization and focused on the pendulum. Eventually she reached a clearing with a fountain at center. The base of the tower gave way to a magnificent stained glass doorway at the other end.

Mahlua scanned the area and sat by the fountain for a short rest, unbuckling her weapons and going through her bag again. She tucked the pendulum safely away and pulled out a water bottle. After downing half its contents, she wiped her mouth and looked to the sky again.

So far, things had been too easy. Without the twins or the dragons or golems or illusions, the place felt eerily quiet. Something wasn’t right. The twins were going to give her access to the second level of the temple for this, and they even let her preview the very place where the raid continued. They wouldn’t hand all that out for something they could easily do themselves. Mahlua sighed and planted both feet flat and firmly to the ground and closed her eyes. She activated her extra senses and energetically perceived the tower.

At first, the tower felt normal, like the stones around it and nothing more. The witch’s eye twitched. She pushed in closer, tried to feel the walls. When she touched it, something seemed to ripple. She drew her energy away and came back to herself. A shield. A reality-bending shield.

“Now things are starting to get interesting,” she muttered to herself, packing up her water and buckling her weapon belt back around her hips. Mahlua faced the building, jaw set in determination. Its heights seemed more lofty than before. With a shield like that, no doubt walking in will trip the alarms. Regardless, the witch placed a hand on the beautifully decorated double doors. As she did so, the hieroglyphs under her skin illuminated purple. A smile cracked her face.

“Let the games begin, then.”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 17, 2018, 04:58:12 PM
Now you're going to start to see why this is going in Ecchiworld. It's only going to go downhill from here, folks. Bear with me.

Chapter 3
Reality-bending didn’t even begin to cover the madness that awaited for Mahlua inside the tower. Dimensional shifting seemed far more accurate.

The huge stained glass doors gave. Mahlua stepped inside the pitch black space, only to find herself in the middle of a long hallway, with Japanese styled sliding doors and windows pouring crisp morning sunlight around her. Her hand itched to the khopesh at her side, but it had vanished. In fact, her entire attire had shifted to reflect her new reality.

“Well, don’t this have Ecchi’s pretty pink bubblegum name all over it,” Mahlua huffed, examining her new school uniform. It was a simple design: a white sailor top with pastel green accents and a purple pleated skirt to match. “Man, I already graduated high school. What kind of sick prank is this?”

A footstep behind her caught her attention. She turned around, only to find the door she came through gone and a group of students rounding towards her from the stairwell, all with unnatural anime hair colors. A small girl with long pink hair and swoopy bangs smiled and waved. “Hey, Protagonist!”

Mahlua took a step back. “Protagonist?”

A taller girl with short blue hair adjusted her glasses and shook her head. “C’mon, Protagonist, don’t tell me you’re still so close to dreamland that you can’t even remember your name this morning.”

Nervous laughter bubbled from Mahlua’s chest. “Right, right,” she said, “And those were some pretty weird dreams I was having, to be sure.”

More students began filling the halls. “Well,” the blue haired girl said, “Looks like it’s about time to hop on to homeroom.”

Mahlua nodded and let the two strange girls pass and followed in kind.

---

As if being in class 2A wasn’t stereotypical enough, it turns out her assigned seat was, in fact, the corner seat by the window. Mahlua rested her chin in her hand and glared out that main character window, contemplating the bizarre oddity that the tower had bestowed to her.

So her name was now Protagonist, and her childhood friend was the pink haired girl named Hana, and her smart friend (trademark) was the blue haired one. Yuki was her name. She’d have to watch out for the student council president called Tachi and had kendo practice this afternoon with captain Yumi.

This had to be some kind of challenge somehow. Did she have to survive a week as a generic self-insert high school harem anime protagonist? Did she have to successfully woo one of the girls? Or all of them? There were a whole lot of options, and not a whole lot of clues to figure it out. A better question was how she was going to manage being on the kendo team without knowing the first thing about the sport.

A wad of paper hit Mahlua in the head, drawing her out of her thoughts. Diagonal from her, Hana smiled and waved, sticking her tongue out playfully. Mahlua took the paper under her desk and unraveled it.

“Lunch on the roof again?” it said in pretty, curly, clearly feminine handwriting.

Mahlua looked to Hana and nodded, and then turned to face forward, examining the teacher and the blackboard.

Suddenly, time skipped. It looked like the world had glitched. Everyone sat at a different angle, and the teacher, originally in the center of the chalkboard, had moved behind the desk at a snap. A bell rang in the hallway, so the students responded in kind by packing up. Hana stood up for a stretch and turned back to Mahlua, smiling broadly.

“You ready to go, Protagonist?” Hana asked.

“Yeah,” Mahlua said, grabbing the schoolbag that mysteriously replaced her magic bag of goodies.

Hana led the way to the door and took a turn. As the two made their way out of the classroom, the doorframe caught Mahlua’s shoe, tripping her. She landed facefirst on the hardwood. A few chuckles sounded around her. Her eyebrow twitched. She lifted her head and started to get up. Instead of just seeing the hallway or some stray students pointing and laughing, her eyes landed on a pair of white panties, between the thighs of someone she didn’t know.

Oh, great, she thought to herself. She had seen enough anime to see where this was going.

“PERVERT!” a scratchy voice screeched from above. A sharp kick caught Mahlua in the cheek, the force of which sent her skidding down the hall.

“I just tripped,” Mahlua groaned, putting a hand to her smarting face as she rose. “You ain’t that special, hun,” she added without thinking.

That was a terrible idea.

A girl with a firetruck red high ponytail stormed up to Mahlua, fist raised. On her arm hung a red and white band with the school’s insignia. She had to be the student council president.

“Oh, I’m not special enough? Then how about those allegations of misconduct I came down here to talk to you about?” the fiery girl shouted. People stopped and stared, some in fear, some in pity.

“I’m pretty sure most of those allegations are from you stalking me like a fly on the wall and looking for an excuse to talk to me,” Mahlua bluffed.

Tachi went wide-eyed and blushed pink at the ears and nose. Bingo. Student council president out to get the main character for no reason, check. Another stereotype crossed off the list.

“RIDICULOUS,” she spat. “As if I’d be interested in a delinquent like you.” Tachi’s nose twitched in rage and a visible aura of fire engulfed her. Fist still raised, she grabbed Mahlua by the collar and drew her in nose to nose. “Dare suggest such a thing again, and I will personally report you for sexual harassment, which would be an even worse achievement than the stupid mess you’ve already made for yourself!”

Mahlua calmly took Tachi by both wrists and disengaged the grip on her collar. “Now, now. There’s no need to get physical. Wouldn’t that make you the assailant, dear President?”

Tachi’s face contorted as if someone had stuck a pile of raw cow dung under her nose. She jerked out of the grip and turned away. “ARGH. What is WITH you today, Protagonist?” she huffed, “Just meet me in the office after classes. I don’t have time to deal with your attitude right now.”

With that, the student council president stormed down the hall. She aggressively shouldered into Hana along the way.

Hana approached, wide-eyed in awe from the situation. “I can’t believe you just stood up to her like that! Are you all right?”

“I’m fine,” Mahlua smiled. Meta knowledge was a fantastic skill. “C’mon. Let’s get lunch. I’ll worry about her later.”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 17, 2018, 10:49:23 PM
Hmm... I sense where this could end up.

It's interesting so far though! Those twins are definitely up to something sending you in such as they did (as per use).

I kept imagining the first two chapters with this like, deep South guitar strumming going on in the background. Very cinematic and quiet like. But I'm guessing iay need a new head-soundtrack now?
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on May 18, 2018, 08:03:21 AM
Dun dun duuun. The plot thickens.

It'd be an ambitious thing, to bind the two worlds.

Also there's some weird headcannon I had in my head that one of the pools at the ecchi temple is made of milk?


Also gawd thank you for reminding me of my side-boob fetish. Long time no indulge *Further ruins internet search history*

Good Stuff Mahlua

Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 18, 2018, 09:34:00 AM
Warm milk baths are probably a thing
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 18, 2018, 10:06:39 AM
Warm milk baths are absolutely a thing. I think I find weirder places on the internet than you guys...you wanna talk about interesting search history...

Anyway, I don't know much for soundtrack for the third chapter, but I definitely know a song that shows what our poor raider friend feels during all this mess: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSBsqx0iuPg (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSBsqx0iuPg)

Lol, expect another chapter out today.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 18, 2018, 01:21:42 PM
I'm on the ball now. Chapters are getting longer. This was a little uncomfortable to write, but if all goes my way, there may be another chapter out tonight.

Chapter 4
Warm afternoon sun filtered through the gates that surrounded the school roof. Yuki sat waiting for the two to arrive with one hand on her hip.

“What took you?” Yuki asked.

“We had a little run-in with the student council president. Or rather, she had a run-in with me,” Mahlua said, plopping down on a bench.

Yuki’s disapproving stance dropped and her face went pale. “What? Again? She’s really trying to get you kicked out, isn’t she?”

“And Protagonist’s stupid self started to fight her on it and accused her of stalking us!” Hana added, crinkling the space between her eyebrows.

Mahlua unzipped her schoolbag and found a neat black box wrapped in a cloth, which she assumed to be her lunch. “I totally bluffed on that, but did you see her face? That’s an admission of guilt if I ever seen one.” She untied the cloth and placed the box in her lap, happy to find steamed rice and three nice little strips of chicken inside. Another bluff formed itself in her mind to explain the change of behavior per universe rules. She had to make herself look good in front of her friends, after all.

“It came to me in those weird dreams I mentioned last night. She was chasing me, trying to get me for something, but when I hid in the janitor’s closet, she came in, closed the door behind her, and kissed me,” she glanced between her two friends, gauging their reactions. “It was kinda gross, but I mean, it might’ve been a prophecy. Guess we’ll find out when she meets me in the office this afternoon.”

“Man,” Hana drawled, “If only you could have prophetic dreams about exam answers or something. What about kendo practice, though? Those start after classes too.”

“If one of you would tell the captain what’s been going on, I’d greatly appreciate it. She might be a good person to have on our side if the president wants to make things messier for us. Besides, meeting with her should only take a few minutes. Fifteen, maybe?” Mahlua said, taking a piece of chicken between wooden chopsticks. She ate it gratefully, although a doubt in the back of her mind worried it might be another trick of the tower. She couldn’t let herself get too lost in this reality, or she might get stuck in it.

“You were really out of it this morning, but it looks like you’re more on the ball now than you are usually. It’s like you’ve matured,” Yuki observed. Mahlua couldn’t help but notice a faint blush creeping into Yuki’s cheeks as she spoke.

“I, ah, started reading a self-help book for taking charge of your life. ‘You must be firm in what you want, but considerate to others and their roles in helping you attain it,’ it says. Or something like that,” Mahlua said. It seemed far more reasonable than admitting that she was actually almost half a decade older than everyone else.

Beside her, Hana giggled. Yuki even gave a lopsided smile. It was strange to see her almost approve of something.

But then, time shifted again, and this time the setting did with it. The world rippled and swirled around Mahlua, and when colors took form again, she found herself in class, at her seat, by the window. The sun had sunk, dying the sky with more saturated colors.

“That will be all for today,” the teacher said as he put the chalk down in a little cup by the board. Students began to prepare their things and the bell in the hallway let out its harsh ring again. Mahlua grabbed her bag and stood up, fighting vertigo and lingering confusion. She turned to Hana.

“Don’t forget to tell the Captain I’ll be late, and let her know that it’s the student council president that’s keeping me,” Mahlua said, putting a hand on her friend’s shoulder.

“Yeah,” Hana nodded, smiling. Her smile dropped. “But, you’re sure you’ll be all right? What if she sends you to the disciplinary committee for examination?”

“I’ll be fine,” Malhlua assured, giving Hana’s shoulder a little squeeze. “Have fun this afternoon. I’ll join you when I can.”

“All right,” Hana said, sounding just a little unsure.

Hana packed her things and headed down the hall to wherever the kendo club met. Mahlua kicked herself in the rear for not asking where that was, but she had other things to worry about. She cracked her neck and headed to the first floor. That was usually where administrative offices were. Sure enough, down the hall on the far side, a little tag stuck out from the wall that read “OFFICE”. The door was slightly ajar, so she invited herself in.

Teacher workdesks filled the place, and only one of them sat occupied. At the head of the room, the student council president stood, arms crossed and angry eyed. “Miss President?” Mahlua called. Tachi’s eyes snapped to her, then to the teacher at her desk. With a frustrated huff, she pushed past Mahlua and stood in the hallway, watching the students filter out of the building.

“Y’know, being this angry all the time isn’t good for your blood pressure,” Mahlua said, leaning against the wall.

“You’re not good for my blood pressure,” the president corrected, glaring fresh daggers at her target.

“Look,” Mahlua shrugged, “We can’t really control others. We can only control ourselves, and clearly something I’ve been doing isn’t up to specs with you. Tell me about these infractions of mine you keep alluding to, and I’ll see what can be done on my end. All I ask for in return is to stop being a victim of your temper. You can control that, by the way. Don’t act like I’m making you do anything.”

Tachi flinched. “Unbelievable,” she sighed. “Just this afternoon you ‘tripped’ to get a look up my skirt and you still have the nerve to sound like a self-help book to me?”

“And what had I done before then? Explain it to me,” Mahlua said, opening her arms in an expansive gesture.

“Those kind of ‘tripping’ incidents happen around you all the time. Too often to be just a coincidence. We all know you joined kendo club just to have an excuse to fight people.”

“I do enjoy a good fight,” Mahlua interrupted, earning another harsh gaze from the president.

“That’s part of the problem. We want to rehabilitate you,” Tachi explained.

“Who is ‘we’, and what am I being put in rehab for?” Mahlua retorted as she crossed her ankles.

“The school. We want to help you find better outlets for your anger. Of course, we’re happy that kendo has been such a release for you, especially with your parents…” Tachi bit her lips and hesitated. She quickly changed the subject. “But now we’ve heard strange things. Leery eyes into the girls’ locker room. More physical contact observed between you and your little friends. Then there was this morning. What even was that? To say that someone isn’t ‘that special’ in regards to looking up their skirt is just flat out weird. And then you turned around and accused me of stalking—I’m just doing my job!”

Mahlua nodded and pondered this for a moment. “I see. So you want all the students in the school to feel safe and happy here. You want to help me through my issues because you think it will make a better atmosphere at the school for me and others. That’s very admirable of you.”

The president’s shoulders relaxed and her face started to soften.

“There’s just one little hole in your plan, though. Teenagers get angry. They get upset. They even—drumroll please—get horny. Part of growing up is learning how to manage all that. Looks to me like you need some help there, too. C’mon.” Mahlua opened her arms for a hug.

“I don’t remember making this conversation about me,” Tachi said, hardening up again.

“A good conversationalist works to serve as the host in all situations,” Mahlua smiled. “Now c’mon. Ease up on yourself a little and let go. Most everyone’s gone now. I won’t try anything. You’re too young for me anyways.”

A mix of shock and horror crossed Tachi’s face. “But, I’m a third year, and you’re a second year. What do you—?”

“Don’t worry about it. Just get over here and let yourself be held,” Mahlua said. She flicked her fingers towards herself for emphasis.

“Idiot,” Tachi mumbled. There wasn’t much force behind her voice anymore. She looked around suspiciously and tensed. She looked to Mahlua, then to the ground, back down the hallway, and then she let out another long sigh. “You’re not going to move until you hug me, are you?”

“Nope.”

“Fine,” she growled, stepping forward. “But you’d better not go around bragging about this.”

“I won’t,” Mahlua promised.

Finally, Tachi closed the gap between them and let her head rest on Mahlua’s shoulderblade. Mahlua, in return, rested one hand on the girl’s back and another in her hair, petting softly.

“There, see? You don’t have to fight anymore, at least, not right now. Just breathe and relax,” Mahlua whispered gently.

“Idiot,” Tachi mumbled, muffled by the fabric of the school uniform in her face. Her shoulders began to tremble. Mahlua pulled her in a little tighter.

“It’s been stressful lately, hasn’t it? I’m sorry for the part I played in making that worse. But you’re strong. You’ll get through this crazy year, graduate, and move on with your life, so long as you never lose that heart of yours. Let yourself care, even when it hurts,” Mahlua continued, trying her best to maintain a soothing voice that wasn’t her bedroom voice.

Tachi looked up, eyes bleary and a little red. “When did you get so grown up, anyway?”

“It happens sometimes,” Mahlua said.

“…Idiot.”

Tachi pulled away slightly, put both hands on Mahlua’s shoulders, and looked away. She bit her lip then looked back, but Mahlua could tell it wasn’t her eyes she was locked on. Her gaze was a little lower.

Oh gods no.

This was the exact opposite of what she was trying to have happen.

The space between them grew smaller as Tachi stood on her toes to have her face level with Mahlua’s. “Are you sure about what you said? Am I really not that special to you, even though you’re doing all this?”

F8ck, high schoolers are so stupid sometimes. Mahlua faltered. “Uh, I’m not exactly all that I appear to be,” she said. She tried to take a step back, but having been leaning against a wall, there was no room to do so.

Tachi’s eyes glanced back down the hall. Satisfied, she looked back. “Show me.”

A bead of sweat dropped from Mahlua’s temple. “Oh, honey, I could show you a lot of things, but, ah, that’s really not appropriate considering—”

Tachi moved in a little closer. They were almost nose to nose now. “I get it, I really do, but can you just…humor me? Just this once, and then it’ll all go back to normal.”

“I think it’s more likely that you’ll kiss me and that it’ll get stuck in your head and there will be no way for you to go back to normal.”

A small giggle shook Tachi’s chest. “That good, huh? Then maybe…”

Mahlua pulled her head back as far as she could and gulped. “N-no. That’s not what I meant. I meant that, I mean, sometimes adding a physical layer to things really stirs up feelings, and makes them stronger, y’know? So, it won’t help your crush on me go away. That’s what I’m trying to say.”

No sooner than the words left her mouth did a soft pair of lips brush against hers. Nausea swirled in her stomach. This kid was in high school, for crying out loud. And it really showed. Tachi clumsily tried to morph the little kiss into something open-mouthed, but hit one of her front teeth on Mahlua’s. Mahlua rolled her eyes. If the damage was already done, she might as well save the next lover some trouble.

Despite the bile that threatened to swell up her esophagus, Mahlua lowered her hands to the small of the girl’s back, just above her ass. She didn’t so much return the kiss so much as stabilize it, bringing it to something that resembled pace, and then she let her teeth graze the girl’s lower lip. Ugh, this felt disgusting. She needed a shower. And a drink. Bleach would do nicely to wash out the feeling. Still, she had to finish strong. Hopefully that would cause this reality to break and send her back to the tower. Maybe. To ease things out, she let her tongue knock on the barrier between her mouth and Tachi’s. In response, Tachi gave entrance and stumbled into her, like gravity had impaired her ability to stand upright for herself. No doing it like overdoing it, Mahlua supposed.

Just when she had started to explore the roof of the president’s mouth, and the president exploring her tongue—“TACHI!”

The make-out session grinded to an immediate halt as the girl in question jerked away, much to the relief of Mahlua’s stomach, albeit not so much for her moral compass.

At the edge of the hall, by the entrance, a girl with long green hair stood, still sporting what appeared to be a hakama and a kendo breastplate.

“Y-Yumi,” Tachi replied with a nervous laugh. She held up both palms and took a couple steps back.

“I heard that you were keeping Protagonist from practice, and that you had raised some accusations against them.”

Wow, Mahlua thought, this reality actually configures itself for the Protagonist to be gender neutral. Oh, wait. Incoming catfight. That’s probably more important than the functions of this reality.

“I did tell you that kissing me would probably be a bad idea,” Mahlua said, rubbing the back of her neck.

Yumi’s hard green eyes settled on her. “And I’ll be having a discussion with you later as well.”

So much for romancing one of the girls as a way out.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 18, 2018, 03:57:26 PM
 Let's settle for 'different places' before we go and get competitive.


I can see why this might have been somewhat difficult to write (it was somewhat difficult to read). There's a skeeviness there that's impossible to ignore.

Ah well, at least I know my moral compass is pointed in the right direction. And you're right, you really did sound like a self help book in this chapter. But don't take that the wrong way as that seems to have been the intent.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 18, 2018, 06:12:46 PM
Yup. It's mostly just weird because I'm not in high school. If it were two people in high school around the same age, that would've been a lot less weird.

Sounding like a self-help book has been a trend with me lately. Figured I'd put it to use.

Let's be real though. High school girls be aggressive as hell, especially in ecchi.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 18, 2018, 08:22:05 PM
Hey, I actually have exactly one area of this bit that has soundtrack. You're welcome. Sorry I went a little basic with it. I couldn't help myself with the similarity to the situation as it unfolds.
Chapter 5
Mahlua never knew what it was like to be in the center of a catfight. Not like this, anyway.

Yumi strode forward, green hair flowing behind her. “If anyone on my team has allegations of any form of misconduct, you know to inform me of the matter so that we can work together on deciding disciplinary action, but I see you’ve gone and found a suitable punishment for yourself.

“With what information I had, the procedure for me was to talk to them first,” Tachi said, lowering her hands and taking a more defensive stance.

“Fat load of talking that can be done with your mouth being so occupied. You really haven’t changed from first year,” Yumi retorted, passing Mahlua and glaring down at the president.

“That wasn’t supposed to happen. If this idiot hadn’t blindsighted me with sweet words, I wouldn’t have—” Tachi tried to explain.

“I didn’t make you do anything; you kissed me!” Mahlua objected.

Yumi’s eyes sliced into her. “And, from what I saw, you didn’t seem to be retaliating all that much.”

Mahlua winced. That much was true. She was still due for a glass of bleach, speaking of.

“Now,” Yumi said, resting her hands on her hips, “If the two of you are quite done here, can I have my club member back?”

Tachi nodded, jaw muscles clenched.

“Come along, then,” Yumi said. She turned and started walking away. Mahlua shot Tachi an apologetic look and followed.

---

“I’ve heard part of the story from Hana and a few students who were in the hall to observe what happened this morning. Tell me, how did it wind up with your hands all over each other?” Yumi asked. She sat on a training mat in the gym with the sounds of wooden bokkens snapping at each other behind her.

Honesty is the best policy, or, at least, that’s what Mahlua figured would be the case when dealing with the captain of a club you’re supposed to be in.

“I figured that something must be going on in her personal life to cause her to want to lash out at others and find fault with them. When we met privately this afternoon, I apologized for adding unnecessary pressure to her and offered to work on my behavior if it would help. She still seemed tense and defensive, so I did the unexpected: I started being nicer, to the point that someone hurt would find it cruel. Sure enough, she cracked. At first, it was just a hug. Nothing romantic or sexual. I felt her trembling, and it looked like she might have started crying. Perhaps it was wrong of me to offer her such a kindness when I realized that she had feelings for me. I tried to pull away, but my back was to the wall, literally, and she pleaded with me. I told her that it would be a bad idea, that it wouldn’t help get rid of her feelings, but she almost didn’t even let me finish talking before she kissed me,” she explained. Her mouth felt dirty at the word ‘kissed’, and her face must have contorted to show it, because Yumi’s softened.

“I see. Tachi has always had a bit of a bad habit of roping people into her emotional problems like that,” Yumi said, shifting her eyes to the floor in thought.

“I heard you say something to that effect in the hallway. Would you mind explaining a bit?” Mahlua asked. “Not for gossip’s sake, of course. Just as much information as is relevant to my situation.”

“Kendo must be doing well for you. You are learning a lot about restraint. Perhaps I could have remembered the same, instead of going for a cheap shot like that,” Yumi said, followed by a short tug at her lips that looked like a proud smile. “Let me handle her for now. Just focus on bringing your grades up and I think this will blow over.”

Mahlua nodded and gave a small bow.

“Dismissed,” Yumi said.

The world swirled again, and then Mahlua found herself at the gate to the school, Hana standing beside her. The sun had sunk even lower, coloring the world with warm oranges and purples. The tower really needed to stop its games, or she might really throw up on the floor next time—and that’s no small threat from someone with emetophobia. She quickly had to shake off the cold sweat that threatened to overwhelm her.

“So what happened? I saw you talking with the captain when you got back,” Hana asked.

“I had a little talk with Miss President. It looks like she has a lot on her plate. I turned out to be right, by the way. She really does have a thing for me. It made her job a lot harder, it seems. I believe the captain will talk with her about it later, just to make sure that biases don’t get in the way of things,” Mahlua explained, steadying herself against a streetlight.

“Are you feeling all right?”

“Yeah, must’ve just worked too hard at club. Nothing a light walk won’t fix.”

“Wanna head to the usual place, with the view of the ocean?”

“Absolutely.”

Hana smiled gently and started walking ahead. Mahlua followed and let her mind start to wander. This didn’t feel like episode one material. Episode five or six, maybe if she was lucky, episode eight. Somehow she had to survive this, since clearly the romance option failed. Not that she was looking for that one, in any case. There had to be some way to break out of this reality. As they walked, Mahlua tried to feel the weight of her weapons at her hips, but to no avail.

Before long, the duo reached a railing over a cliff face, blue ocean shimmering below.

“It’s so beautiful here,” Hana smiled, raising her arms up for a long stretch.

“Yeah,” Mahlua nodded, resting her arms on the railing and leaning forward to observe the sunset. Its warmth caressed her skin. She tried not to think about it, get to immersed in it.

“These really are the golden years, don’t you think?” Hana asked.

“Nah. That’s only true if you give up on determining your own life. If you continue doing what you love, every year is golden. Sure, it gets harder with the more responsibilities you get, but there’s some power that comes with it,” Mahlua said.

Hana blinked in surprise. That must not have been part of the script.

“I mean, I’m sure there are great things about adult life, but there’s value in letting yourself be a kid for a little longer,” she said, a hint of concern slipping into her voice.

The Major Arcana card the Fool came to the witch’s mind. “I suppose there are times where embracing the inner child is the best thing you can do. It’s good to remember times like these. But…high school isn’t the only time in life where it feels like life a bowstring, and you’re the arrow, notched and drawn as far back as you can go. The promise of growth is always on the horizon.”

“Just how much of those self-help books have you been reading?” the pink haired girl sighed. Her blue eyes looked from the ocean to the ground.

“I think you mean to ask when I suddenly got so grown up. Do you feel left behind?” Mahlua prodded.

“Yeah. I mean, one day you’re how you’ve always been, and then, today, you’re suddenly devil-may-care and…insightful. You’re kind of a stranger now.”

“Believe me, that’s more true than you know. Growing up can do that to people. You look back on yourself from the year before and almost don’t recognize the person you were.”

“Stop it.”

Mahlua perked up. “Huh?”

“Stop acting like you’re so above everything.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound condescending. It’s just…” Mahlua was at a loss for words.

“You don’t belong here. You reject some of the most beautiful aspects youth has to offer. You want to act all grown up instead.” Hana clenched the railing. “Do you know where you are?”

“Please tell me this isn’t going to get meta as f8ck,” Mahlua grumbled. “Not really, if I’m to be honest,” she admitted, louder, so she could be heard.

“You’re in the first stage of the heart of EcchiWorld,” Hana said, eyes turning cold as ice.

“How did I know it was about to get meta?” Mahlua groaned.

“Because you make a horrible protagonist. You don’t suspend disbelief enough. You would rather work through problems than make a fun mess of life. You’ve been trying to get out from the very moment you stepped through that door. Haven’t you let yourself enjoy any of this at all?”

“Why do I get the feeling of an incoming boss fight?”

The world began to warp again. Mahlua held tightly to the railing, palms slick and clammy. This time, it didn’t stop warping.

“You could’ve just given in, lived out a little ecchi fantasy, but it looks like that’s not for you.” Hana’s voice started to sound distorted.

Mahlua gripped her head, trying to feel stable and find her center of balance. The very fibers of reality were ripping apart. She squeezed her eyes shut and focused on her breathing.

“Do you know who I am?”

“If I had to guess,” Mahlua said through dry lips, “You’re one of the guardians of this place.”

“Correct. I am the first line of defense. I am the schoolgirl.”

That’s it. Mahlua could finally place what was weird about her voice. She looked up. As reality continued to shift, the girl before her morphed between the four main girls she interacted with at the academy.

“You just couldn’t take us as we are,” the girl said, hair morphing to Tachi’s red more and more frequently.

“In my defense, it’s a little weird to be creeping on a high schooler.”

Finally, reality snapped into place. Mahlua stood in the light the stained glass door behind her. Familiar stone walls and their torches surrounded the hallway with its padded red carpet. Schoolgirl finally settled on Tachi’s form and hovered inches above the ground.

“You have no defense against me. You offered more adult stimulus to me in this form. It’s recorded in my memory.”

“Woah, woah now,” Mahlua said, surprised at the weight at her hips as she stepped forward. “I didn’t offer anything but a hug and some kind words.”

“Oh, honey, I could show you a lot of things,” her own nervous, creaky voice echoed back to her.

“You are so taking that out of context,” Mahlua huffed, reaching for the heavy mace she was happy to have back at her side. The hieroglyphs under her skin throbbed with light.

Schoolgirl’s head tilted at a disturbing angle. “Am I really?” She began drifting backwards down the hallway, turning the corner.

Mahlua bit her lip and followed, reasserting her psychic shields.

“I’ve seen a lot of Protagonists come and go. It usually takes them a lot longer to get to a kiss. But you, oh you did what you could to prompt feelings of sexual frustration and jealousy. And what did you do when that gift was presented?”

Around the corner sat a circular room, a battlefield, by the look of it. White walls led up to an open ceiling. At its center, Schoolgirl sat in Tachi’s form, still taunting with her voice.

“Believe me, I know your kind. You’re a corrupter. I even tested it by being a little sloppy. Tell me, what did you do in response?”

“If I’m going to have to mouthwash with harsh chemicals later anyway, I figured it should be for a decent reason, not a pathetic one,” Mahlua retorted, gripping her mace more tightly.

“Not only did you give in and kiss back, you added to it. I picked up every little bit of your physiological response through a body scan. Sure, you hated it on the surface, but you thrive on putting things in a place that suits you. Tell me, if I didn’t interrupt it, how much further would you have taken it?”

“Uh, not at all? I’d let your stupid self keep locking lips until you needed to come up for air and then gently let you down again. I’m starting to think you’re mistaking your system overheating with my responses.”

“How cruel of you. That’s worse, you know. As the first guardian of the heart of EcchiWorld, I deem you unworthy to reach the heart. You’re dead now.”

* Cue the music * (https://youtu.be/YCUe7UyA_Ec)

Mahlua’s hand shot into the air, two fingers at the ready. She drew another simple sigil: a triangle, pointed downward this time. Schoolgirl charged her, hands drawn like claws. A wall of earth blocked her way, and she stumbled through it, falling to the floor. Mahlua didn’t hesitate. She swung the mace down at Schoolgirl’s head.

Schoolgirl deftly rolled to the side and swung a leg to kick the raider. It caught Mahlua squarely in the thigh. In response, she lowered her stance and adjusted her balance. Schoolgirl circled her weight and crouched to her feet again.

“Looks like you won’t die easy,” she taunted.

“Looks like you won’t shut up,” Mahlua retorted.

Schoolgirl’s lips curled down into a grimace as she went in for another hit. It should have connected, and if Mahlua were any other raider, it would have. Thankfully, she was not. Schoolgirl jerked her fist back and let out a scream of agony. Raw flesh surrounded deep burns across her knuckles.

Sparks of electricity crackled from Mahlua to the ground, to her weapons, between her limbs. She tilted her head back and smirked widely.

Fully charged, Mahlua swung with her mace again, sending a spray of violet energy in its wake. Schoolgirl managed to dodge the mace, but a stray bolt of lightning caught her shoulder. She let out another cry and collapsed.

Mahlua crouched next to her, eyes glowing the same purple as the neon energy zapping its way around them. Schoolgirl trembled and tried to rise. Clearly the voltage had caused some nerve damage.

“If this is all, I’m sorely disappointed,” Mahlua said.

Schoolgirl managed to get to her feet and put her fists back up. Her clothes were burnt around the sleeve the lightning struck, and the smell followed her. She went for a punch.

Mahlua deflected it with her mace, focusing the electric energy through the weapon. It sent a lower voltage charge through the point of contact. Again, Schoolgirl cried out and stumbled back to the center of the battlefield.

She began to tremble and sway. Her body lifted from the ground and hung, suspended in air by threads of reality. Wings of light unfurled behind her, and beside her, a spear materialized.

“Here we go,” Mahlua said, clipping her mace back in place and drawing her khopesh. A smug smile plastered over her face.

Schoolgirl took the spear and divebombed for the raider, who ducked and let the curved blade keep the spear away from her. Sparks flew. Mahlua rose, and Schoolgirl, still in the air, held the spear with both hands and began jabbing. More electric energy fizzled around them. Between the pockets of air and reality distortion Schoolgirl created, there was enough pressure to form ball lightning. It burst suddenly, much of it dispersing into the spear and missing the target, but a few stray tails found their mark.

Mahlua took a leap back as Schoogirl shifted the spear to one hand. It blurred momentarily and reformed from the same luminescent material as her wings into the shape of a shortsword. The angelic beast swung, and the blow met magic blade.

Across.

Thrust.

Slash for the shoulder.

More sparks erupted between the fighters.

Schoolgirl tried again for the outside of Mahlua’s swinging arm.

The Mahlua let the khopesh’s curved blade slide, then she jerked down, using its signature puncture tip to throw off the shortsword’s point of balance. Schoolgirl snarled and threw her weight forward, barreling into her opponent.

The force of the blow caused Mahlua to fall to the floor. Schoolgirl dropped her weapon and went in for a punch. It connected easily in Mahlua’s prone state. Mahlua coughed and swore something almost cracked inside her. Apparently Schoolgirl was a lot stronger in this state. With her free hand, Mahlua took two fingers and drew another sigil in the ground: an upright triangle cut in half by a single horizontal line. A gust of wind knocked Schoolgirl back enough for Mahlua to hop to her feet.

The khopesh shifted to her left hand as the witch picked up the angel’s weapon.

“Sorry, do you need this?”

Schoolgirl scowled in disgust and formed another shortsword of light. Two, in fact.

“Guess not.”

And they were upon each other again, parrying and sending sprays of sparks between blows. Sweat began to form at Mahlua’s brow. She couldn’t afford to waste much more time here.

Khopesh hooked against shortsword once more, and Mahlua managed to knock one out of Schoolgirl’s hand, but rather than go in for the opening, she jumped back and tossed the shortsword she had been wielding aside. This gave her a free hand to draw her last elemental sigil: an upside down triangle with a horizontal line splitting it in half. The air became thick with humidity, and a gentle mist settled over the battlefield.

Mahlua could see the form of Schoolgirl looking around frantically, weapons up in defense. A chuckle threatened to give away her position, but she kept it down. She sheathed the Egyptian weapon and drew the mace again. Electric energy popped and crackled around her. Schoolgirl charged immediately for the sound, but caught nothing but mist between her blades. A sharp blow caught her elbow, then at her back, and then her other shoulder, each one punctuated by the sound of an electric snap.

Schoolgirl scrambled to keep up, but the dance of lightning cackle through water in the heavy air was too much. Finally, the mace thrust into her chest, cracking bone. She collapsed to her knees, dropping her weapons. Mahlua materialized from the lightning around her and smiled wickedly.

“What was that about dying?”

Before she could answer, Schoolgirl was ended by the weight of her own skull collapsing into brain matter. The light from her weapons and wings faded.

Mahlua dispelled the water in the air and kept an eye on the unmoving form. The sound of stone moving against stone caught her attention. Beside her, a stairway formed. She started on her way up, but paused, looking up to the open ceiling. Her gut told her that she would see another battlefield like this before the mission was over, and the opponent wouldn’t be so easy next time. She’d have to be more careful.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 19, 2018, 12:01:56 AM
Five chapters in and we're bashing in schoolgirl brains. That sounds about par for the course.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 19, 2018, 12:03:36 AM
Lol, yup. And it looks like it'll only get crazier from here, if my notes are any indication.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Kakashi on May 19, 2018, 01:18:41 AM
wow !! did you all of those chapters in 5 days ??? Girl you should get into Copywriting business ! Keep it more Ecchi don't go in high school of dead direction !~ xD
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 19, 2018, 10:33:07 AM
Don't worry, it will be more and more ecchi. Might even brush up to some adult situations-ish...Although I hadn't made the connection that Schoolgirl and her universe are now quite literally a dead high school. I kinda liked HOTD, despite how stupid it was. Saeko is bae, after all. Sweet sadistic child.

Welp, back to writing. Gotta keep up my daily streak.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 19, 2018, 05:22:35 PM
Well this is kind of a filler chapter but ah, interesting things happened. I don't think you have to worry about a lack of ecchi anytime soon, Mr. Admin.

Chapter 6
Light projectors pulsed saturated neon beams in time with a droning bassline designed to pump up heartbeats. For as small as it was, EcchiPub knew how to have a good time.

Ecchi-tan curled her head by her sister’s collarbone, with Lewd’s arm draped over her shoulder, keeping her nice and snuggled up. In front of them, a male performer exhibited his finest flexibility around the slick, rotating dance pole. It had been almost 12 hours since they had dispatched the raider MahluaandMilk on her mission.

“You think she’ll make it?” Ecchi-tan asked, turning her gaze to her twin.

Lewd-tan gave a hum that sounded like a question mark as she sipped the mojito in her other hand.

“As strong as Mahlua is, physically and magically, she does have a pretty big weak spot. You know the one.”

Lewd-tan’s lips curled around her glass. “You mean the one between her legs?”

“Exactly. The first few floors shouldn’t give her too many problems. It’s the last couple I’m worried about,” Ecchi-tan said, shoving her nose against the bit of exposed flesh at her sister’s collar.

“Even if she fails,” Lewd-tan replied, biting her lip, “She’ll have other opportunities. We can always train her ourselves. Coryn and Lego from MR City have been fantastic sparring partners, always keeping us on our toes, but we were really blindsighted during the Raid two years ago.”

Ecchi-tan let out a soft giggle. “You mean you were blindsighted two years ago when she found your weak spot. Hate to break it to ya, sis, but it’s not that hard to figure out.”

An offended scoff matched the dead face Lewd-tan shot her twin.

“Oh, don’t give me that,” Ecchi-tan rolled her eyes and gave her twin a playful slap on the chest. “I know that’s why you specifically targeted her group during the Raid last year. And why you’re so hell-bent on putting her up the ranks with the other two.”

“She’s put in a lot of work to get where she is,” Lewd-tan said defensively.

“I’m not disagreeing with that. I have my eye on her for my own reasons. All I’m saying is that you’re not slick. Sometimes I wonder just where you were on the day she was born…”

Lewd-tan straightened her posture. “What do you mean by that?”

“Well,” Ecchi-tan said, hoisting herself up to better look her sister in the eye, “It’s entirely possible that you were in the Weather Department of the Science Division, messing around with the thunderstorm. Or maybe you could’ve been outside the walls of MR City, directing some magic.”

“As if I have the knowledge of the conditions necessary to create life.” It was Lewd-tan’s turn to roll her eyes. “We’re Tans.”

“Goddesses, now. In a way, we always were,” Ecchi-tan reminded her.

“Not quite. I mean, technically any being can undergo apotheosis. We hadn’t until we forged the soul gems and had their power released. Besides that, we still aren’t fully aware of our deity-level abilities. I’m not sure either of us are lifebringers. Even if I am one, it’s a huge stretch to assume my power birthed Mahlua.”

Lewd-tan punctuated her lecture with another sip of her mojito. It was amazing how she could turn a simple gesture into something so dismissive. She turned her gaze to the dancer before them, letting her eyes trace along the curve of his muscles as they held him suspended, upside-down from the pole. She put the glass down and leaned forward, letting a folded bill slip from her blazer sleeve between her fingers. The man gratefully took it between his lips on his next rotation around.

Ecchi-tan puffed out her cheeks in annoyance. Her twin really did have a one-track mind sometimes, hardly open to the possibilities. The next time Lewd-tan took a sip of her silly little drink that would never get her drunk anyway, Ecchi-tan popped the bottom of the glass, spilling its contents down her chest.

“What the f8ck?” Lewd-tan growled, pulling her lips down in a look of disgust.

Ecchi-tan swung herself over, letting one thigh rest on either side of Lewd-tan’s hips. She glared down, red eyes boring into pink. “I need you to focus for a moment.”

“You’ve certainly got my attention.” Lewd-tan raised an eyebrow, wiping the remains of her drink from her chin.

“This girl is dedicated. She’s been giving small offerings when she can at the temple. She’s been a champion in two of the biggest Raids in history. You should’ve seen how immediately she accepted the mission when she heard the rewards. She’s probably one of the best examples we have of someone with a foot in both worlds. Even with her present focus mostly being in MR City, she keeps her fingers on the pulse here.”

“None of this is exactly news,” Lewd-tan said flatly.

“You’re missing the point. The point is MR has a lot of heroes. We’ve had our small glories with Kite, with Last, with Rubix, arguably with Forlorn, but consider this: What if Mahlua comes out victorious over the tower’s challenges? We’ll actually be able to say that we have someone. We could convert her, we really could,” Ecchi-tan explained. She shifted her weight and rested her hands above Lewd-tan’s shoulders, steadying her upper body. “We could make her one of us.”

Lewd-tan chewed on her lip and turned her gaze to the side, thinking. “You really are something else,” she said, finally.

“Oh, come on,” Ecchi-tan groaned, pushing even closer. Her hips pressed against her sister’s at a rather forceful angle. She could feel the dancer’s eyes on her back. “She’s just the first. I’m not giving up on the others. We don’t need a savior or a hero; we just need a bad influence. Someone who’ll really go out of the way, spreading our names across the net. Besides, with all that occultic knowledge she got from who knows where, is there anyone better to have by our side?”

At first, Lewd-tan snapped to retort, but closed her mouth, considering her words more carefully. “I only agreed to send her on the mission to add a little spice back into EcchiWorld, but what you’re suggesting…It’s so insane it might just work. Just how long have you been planning this?”

Ecchi-tan leaned in a little closer. The smell of alcohol was so strong in her nose that she could almost taste it. “Since the first time you told me about how she almost completely knocked you on your ass in the Raid two years ago. Her role in releasing the soul gems was the icing on the cake.”

“You made some alterations to the tower, didn’t you?” Lewd-tan said, more of a statement than a question. She could read what was going on behind her sister’s eyes.

“Of course,” Ecchi-tan chuckled. She craned her neck and rested her head where the smell of alcohol drew her and let her tongue fall out of her mouth, licking away the sugary stickiness of the lime and mint that clung to her sister’s neck. Lewd-tan shivered.

“What kind of hell are you putting that girl through right now?” Lewd-tan managed to choke out, despite the sudden rush of heat to her chest and head and everywhere else.

Ecchi-tan’s voice dropped to a silky whisper. “Shouldn’t you be more worried about your personal hell at the moment?”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 19, 2018, 06:04:05 PM
Mahlua, are you perhaps trying to make yourself into some sort of god? It feels an awful lot like you're trying to make yourself into some sort of god. What with this, "one of us" stuff.

Fair warning Mahlua. Don't make the god mistake.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 19, 2018, 06:10:05 PM
Nah, more like a priestess. Imagine a god's secretary. More like that.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 19, 2018, 08:17:20 PM
Also, I'm imagining that male dancer was just a treasure trove of images for the "reaction images from gay porn" meme.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 19, 2018, 08:28:40 PM
That bill Lewd-tan slipped him may or may not have been a fifty.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 19, 2018, 11:22:27 PM
High rollin'

Also, did Ecchi just, shatter the glass? Or what? Cause I wouldn't want to climb aboard anyone covered in glass shards. But maybe that's just me.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 20, 2018, 12:34:17 AM
Whoops. Nah, she just did that annoying sibling thing where she bumps the butt end of it and made Lewd spill the drink all over herself. I should've wrote somewhere that Lewd put the empty glass down.

Great catch.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 20, 2018, 11:03:35 AM
Speaking of, I think there was also a point where Ecchi asks a question, and then answers it herself, and then gives the follow up line. Somewhere towards the top. Pretty sure it just needs a name swap.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 21, 2018, 12:06:29 AM
Bah, so I posted six minutes past midnight. I'm still counting it on my daily streak.
This one's for TinTin, wherever that crazy bastard went.


Chapter 7
Another pair of magnificent double doors rested at the top of the battlefield stairs. Mahlua did not expect the grand end of her journey behind them, but she didn’t expect what she got, either.

As she heaved and pushed the massive stained glass doors aside, three beautiful maids stood before her and bowed deeply. “Welcome,” they said in unison. They rose, revealing just how similar they were. All three had black hair and deep brown eyes, and yet all three wore their hair differently. From left to right, one sported long hair with short bangs, the next with a cute bob, and the third medium length and parted to one side.

“Wha..?” Mahlua tried to process the new visual information.

“The Lord is expecting you,” the one in the middle said. She turned and began walking down the hallway.

Curious, Mahlua stepped forward. The other two maids flanked her, one gently removing her bag and the other going for her weapon belt. “Woah,” the raider said, striking a defensive stance. The maids shot her a very confused look.

“We will be moving your belongings to your room. The Lord is expecting you,” The long haired maid explained.

Mahlua clenched her fists in frustration. She wasn’t sure she wanted to meet with this Lord of theirs unarmed, but the girls looked hurt by her display of mistrust. If she knew anything about a situation like this, to reject the offer was an insult to the rules of hospitality, which she was clearly being shown. She set her jaw, but forced her body to relax. “Forgive me,” she said, “I am battle weary.”

The two maids shared a look of relief and tended to taking the raider’s heavy equipment from her. Up ahead, the third stood patiently in the hallway, hands clasped elegantly in front of her. Once her equipment was securely removed, Mahlua strode forward to catch up.

The maid with the bob cut led her across a grand stairwell into a side room separated by impossibly tall doors. In that room, Mahlua’s eyes followed a long dining table to the figure of a man sitting at its head. As she entered the room, he stood.

The man adorned himself in what appeared to be a sharp blue military uniform, colored with pins and badges of honor. White chords hung at his shoulders, and long cascading blonde hair behind them. He had very long features and intense, stormy grey eyes, and yet he looked rather young. “Welcome to my home,” he smiled warmly. He showed his gloved palm and gestured to the seat at the other end of the table. “Please, sit. I am sure you have many questions, which we will discuss.”

“Yes, thank you,” Mahlua said, keeping her eyes on the man as the maid pulled the chair out. Mahlua sat and kept her posture as straight as she could. She was not used to formal situations.

“That will be all, Norberta,” the man addressed the maid.

She gave a small bow. “Thank you, my Lord,” she said, then turned and exited.

“Now,” the man said, brushing the tails of his long jacket behind himself as he sat, “As you may have observed, I am the Lord of this household. I am only known as Lord or Master. I have observed you as well, and your battle with the first guardian of this place.”

Mahlua twitched uncomfortably.

“Have no fear,” the Master said, tilting his head and flashing another winning smile. “She and I rarely see eye to eye when it comes to worthiness. My challenge is far less brusque. I prefer to be upfront about my methods.”

The pause settled in the air. When Mahlua was certain he had finished speaking, she asked, “So then, what is your challenge?”

“It would do well for me to first explain the nature of this tower, so as to better prepare you for the tasks that lie ahead.”

“That’s very kind of you,” Mahlua said calmly, although her eyebrow twitched. The Master waved his hand, as if to say ‘It’s nothing’.

“Ecchi Tower has seven levels. The first of which, as you saw, belongs to the ecchi trope of schoolgirls. Mine, as you have probably figured out, deals with that of maids. Above me is the realm of the kemonomimi, and from up, there are general monster girls, and above them, well, level five more or less serves as the obligatory beach episode reprise. Believe me, you will need it. The last two levels are by far the most challenging. One deals with the fantasies you have on the surface, and then, the ones you do not wish to confront. As of yet, there have been no victors who have tamed Ecchi Tower. Theoretically, should one conquer their desires and be deemed worthy, they would establish a connection with the heart of EcchiWorld itself. Such a person would not become more powerful, per se, but they would become something of a guardian themselves, for the external aspects of the city. The Twins have attempted before to have such a champion, but thus far they have been…unsuccessful. Then again, their experiments have involved spam ninjas and ghost spectres particular to EcchiWorld. Useless fodder, most of them. Schoolgirl usually handles them. I personally believe they have only kept up their experiments to amuse us.”

Another pause washed over the room, glittering it with sunlight from the tall windows on either side. Mahlua pressed her lip into a flat line, thinking. Clearly, the Master was open to answering just about any question.

“So, what exactly does a failed challenge look like?” She figured she would go for knocking out as many stupid mistakes as she could.

The Master tilted his head from one side to the other. “It varies by which floor you’re on, but, in theory, the connection is that each challenge deals with some aspect of ecchi. To give in and take things too far, or to be overwhelmed by the situations any floor presents, marks a failure.”

“I see, so because I comforted that girl and it led to a kiss,” Mahlua thought aloud.

“Precisely. However, that situation caused another to form that aligns with an ecchi trope: a misinterpreted forced kiss. Since that could happen to an ecchi harem protagonist, it was not a complete fail. It is my belief that her anger with you stems from you correcting the kiss, which an ecchi protagonist is not likely to do at all. She is quite easily offended, you see.”

“If that’s the case, then what constitutes a pass?” Mahlua asked, leaning back and dropping her posture despite herself.

The Master’s smile tightened. “Now that is a very good question. You will be put into situations designed to arouse you in small ways. You know that you must not falter or give into the illusion, and yet, resistance isn’t the point either. Rather, the point is acceptance. That is why my challenge will be to entertain you for a total of 24 hours, during which I will have my maids perform specific tasks. They will report to me of their successes and progress in their individual assignments. Some will be innocent, such as food, drink, and sleep, but others will be intended to probe you and tempt you. With that said,” he rose from his seat again and called to the door. “You may enter now, Nori, Nora, Norberta.”

The large dining hall door slid open again, and the three maids filed out in the order they were called: Nori with the longest hair, Nora with the medium, Norberta with the short.

“See to it that our guest is prepared for bed. No doubt they are weary from Schoolgirl’s troubles.”

“Yes, my Lord.”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Kakashi on May 21, 2018, 10:46:47 AM
How on earth you got energy to write so much ? ))  I think the story is better better with each new chapter. ))
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 21, 2018, 10:53:12 PM
Well that does certainly give a road map. Doing a couple chapters per level then?

It is refreshing to have a little structure though. It's felt a lot like flying blind until this point. But y'know, I got to feel bad for the spam ninjas and guest specters. Even non-sentients don't deserve to be experimented on by the Twins like that.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 21, 2018, 10:55:33 PM
Yeah, I feel you. But, with EcchiWorld going quiet as frequently as it does, I can't say that I don't understand their boredom.

To be fair, I only just got the whole thing settled in my head. Originally there were going to be nine levels and then I was like hahalol no I will literally die.

HUZZAH. It may be a little shorter than I would have liked, but I am, in fact, uploading before midnight.


Chapter 8
More than anything, Mahlua was relieved when the maids guided her to her room and she found that her weapons and other materials were safely left at the foot of the bed. She knelt and reviewed her stock.

Behind her, Norberta spoke. “We will prepare breakfast in the morning and wake you when it is ready. That will be when your 24 hours begins. Rest well,” the maid said, then gave a small bow before exiting.

Nori and Nora lingered for a moment. Mahlua put her things in order and sat on the bed, looking between them. “So,” the raider said to break the silence, “What will be for breakfast tomorrow?”

“Omelets stuffed with your choice of fillings,” Nora replied.

“Thank you,” Mahlua said, and then, after a moment, “That will be all.” At the command, the two maids gave a small bow and quietly left the room.

With that, Mahlua flopped on the bed and stared at the ceiling. She thought for a moment about the day ahead. No doubt shenanigans would ensue from the moment one of the maids came to wake her. And how would they choose to do so? A hot chill crashed over the raider at the thought. She bit her lip and rolled to the side, as if it would distance her from the thought she had while facing the other direction. Despite her efforts, it took a while for her racing heart to drift to sleep.

---

There was a sound of a curtain sliding on its railing and the sensation bright morning light pouring right over Mahlua’s eyes. She groaned and tugged the covers with her as she rolled over. Weight sunk the bed away from the raider and a gentle hand rested on her shoulder.

“Breakfast is ready,” the maid whispered softly.

Mahlua cracked open an eye and rolled back over. With the way the sun filtered in so much white light, Nori almost looked like an angel, posed as gracefully as she was. With a grunt, Mahlua propped herself up on her elbows. Nori retracted her hand.

“I’ll prepare your seat at the table,” Nori said. She rose from her place on the bed and left to perform her task.

Mahlua wondered if perhaps the Master had cast a glamour on the girls. Still dazed, she swung her feet over the side of the bed and started getting ready.

---

Breakfast tasted like heaven—if heaven was a three-egg omelet stuffed with an impossible amount of cheese and veggies. The Master did not attend, but Mahlua was certain she could feel his stormy-eyed presence somewhere nearby.

After she finished her meal, Mahlua left her plate and exited the room. Outside, Norberta waited for her. Mahlua raised an inquisitive eyebrow.

“Based on the Lord’s observations, you enjoy battle. If you’d like, we can spar in the courtyard.”

“Sure thing,” Mahlua said, “Just as soon as the food settles.”

“Of course,” Norberta smiled, offering a small bow.

---

A faint breeze kept the combat partners from getting too hot in the sun that began peeking its way up to its midheaven. Never mind how there was a courtyard and with sunlight on the second floor of a seven story building. No wonder the reality distortion field was so strong around the tower.

Mahlua went for a punch. Norberta swerved and sent a fist flying for a hook. Mahlua deflected it with her forearm and thrust her knee forward. The two stopped as knee touched ribs, and then took a step back in appreciation.

“Guess that’s another one for me,” Mahlua said, offering her hand out for a shake. “You’re not going easy on me, are you?”

“Of course not. We are maids first and foremost, after all,” Norberta replied, giving the hand a firm shake.

The door to the courtyard clicked open, and Nora walked out, holding a tray with a glass and a pitcher. “I’m back with the drink you requested,” she announced.

“Ah, yes. Thank you,” Mahlua said.

Nora placed the tray on a short garden table and poured the pale pink contents of the pitcher into the glass, and then handed the glass to Mahlua. Mahlua took a few sips and smiled as her tastebuds were caressed by the refreshing taste of raspberry lemonade (because strawberry lemonade is so overrated).

Once again, Mahlua let her eyes settle on one of the maids. First Nori, now Nora. Time seemed to slow down as she noticed the tiniest details. She blinked rapidly and turned her focus back on the raspberry lemonade. There was definitely something fishy going on.

---

Back inside, the raider noticed just how much of a sweat she had worked up sparring. Her stomach sank a little. She would have to take a shower, but knowing her luck, she’d be offered a bath, and if ecchi anime was any indication, some sh*t was about to go down. Despite her concern, she turned to Norberta.

Before the words could leave her mouth, Norberta responded. “It looks like the sparring was a good work out for you. Would you like a bath to freshen up?”

“Yes, I would. Where would I go for that?” Mahlua said, licking her now dry lips.

“Follow me. I will tend to it,” Norberta replied as she walked forward. “How do you like your water?”

Mahlua blushed at the ears and followed. “I prefer it to be hot enough to turn me a little pink, but not enough to burn after long exposure.”

“I see,” Norberta turned to show her smile. “The Lord is very similar. He says it helps him clear his head.”

“Yes, it’s the same for me. I feel more connected and grounded with heat rather than cold.”

“That would make sense, if lightning is your primary magic.”

Mahlua stumbled over her own feet. It shouldn’t have surprised her that she knew; the Master had mentioned observing her battle with Schoolgirl. Somehow, though, these girls just kept surprising her.

“Here we are,” Norberta said, snapping Mahlua back to her senses. The maid opened the door a crack at first, and then all the way.

Inside, the tile floor rose around a massive pool-size bath. Norberta made her way to one head of it and adjusted a few knobs. Water began to fill the bath, and before long, steam rose from it.

“Would you like any oils for fragrance?” the maid asked as she finished adjusting the knobs.

“I’ve never had oils in a bath before,” Mahlua admitted, “Since usually I’m pretty broke, but I’ll try it out.” She shuffled uncomfortably, unsure if she was expected to begin undressing.

Norberta turned her attention to a few bottles in a cabinet near the door. Mahlua had missed it coming in. The maid then took a handful of them and spread their contents along the still filling tub. By the time that task was done, she returned to the knobs and cut the water off.

“There are towels in here for when you’re finished,” Norberta explained as she put away the oils. “I will begin preparing lunch and planning for dinner. Please relax and enjoy the rest of your day.”

With that, the maid politely made her exit, and Mahlua sighed a sigh of relief. “Thank the gods,” she said aloud as she peeled away her clothes. She carefully folded them and placed them on a small counter near the cabinet.

Mahlua stuck a careful foot in the water. Pleased, she let herself slide in and breathe the fragrances. She tried to pick out what scents they were. Definitely rose petal—it dominated the room. A touch of vanilla sugar perhaps. There was also a hint of another flower. Honeysuckle. Another blush crept up the raider’s neck to her ears. Love smells, commonly used for magic and aphrodesiacs, all of them.

Stupid, stupid, stupid. Why did she agree to something like that? How did the witch fall for that?

She let her head sink under the water for a few moments to calm down. It’s entirely possible that the maid has absolutely no acute knowledge of magical associations and the flowery scents are common here. The witch came back up for a deep breath.

“Enjoying your day so far?” a soothing male voice called.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on May 22, 2018, 07:23:32 AM
dun dun duuuuuun.

Bayonetta music works too well here.

Hope you have all this in one word document because I picked these typos out : Malhlua and Omelets


Also in this scene:  Mahlua kicked herself in the rear for not asking where that was, but she had other things to worry about

Not impossible, I just find it hilarious heel-kicking your butt in frustration hahaha. Or was it purely metaphorical?


Have to shamefully admit the kissing scene was on point. My moral compass is useless. Thank goodness I'm not legomaestro, just some other dude named Rubix.


Really love the flow of the conversations and the like. You have a knack for representing the twins. Pretty interesting story and great output. Keep at it.


Someone needs to fight for those guest spectre's rights though. They get experimented on everywhere.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 22, 2018, 06:54:09 PM
Bayonetta music feels like such a copout because it's always 12/10, but thanks.

Whoops. I have each chapter in a word doc but no matter how many times I add "Mahlua" to the dictionary MS Word still redlines it, so I usually ignore it. I'm pretty sure it told me to correct to "omelets" though. It's not showing up as a redline here either.

When I was in aerobics, "butt kicks" was an actual name of a leg warm up we would do. Your heel pretty much does fwap your ass. But yes, the scene was metaphorical.

I mostly tried to focus on the "Well, this is gross, but I'm already here, so f*ck it" aspect. Glad it isn't absolutely horrible.

Funny, because I generally hate writing dialogue. I feel like I'm being too repetitive, but I've been told it's easier to follow now that I use character's names instead of descriptors for the most part. I wonder what could possibly make me so good at representing the Twins? Maybe Ecchi-tan has a point about the mysterious whereabouts of Lewd-tan on the day Mahlua was born...

Fair point. Poor guest spectres. To think, they're probably actual people on other sites.

I'll be starting chapter 9 a little late today thanks to some drama llamas all up in my business this morning, but maybe I'll get it out before tomorrow morning.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 22, 2018, 10:40:29 PM
Just try not to think about your own guest spectres out there.

Nice little chapter though. Seems like we're getting a little twist. Really made me want to take a nice bath. Too bad I have a tiny tub that leaks if you try to fill it. >.>


It's good to use names. With dialogue it's best not to over the think the transitions. You can refer through description at times if it feels suiting for the moment, but when you're reading, it all flies by anyway.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 23, 2018, 12:02:32 AM
I know it all flies by when you're reading it. It just doesn't quite fly by when you take forever writing it, lol.

And my daily streak is broken. I probably can't write tonight due to some stuff from today. I'll see what I can do tomorrow/Wednesday as I prepare for a con trip starting Thursday.

Besides, I did kinda post two chapters in one day once. I'm still technically on the ball.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Froneezy on May 23, 2018, 02:18:17 PM
Oh yeah... This got saucy real quick.

Unfortunately, since my moral compass is pretty much broken I enjoyed the schoolgirl segment way more than I should have. Definitely a highlight.

I was thinking to myself during the  Tachi scene, “Is she going there? Naw she ain’t going there. Mahlua ain’t crazy. She would never-“

And then you freaking went there haha!

Are you planning make yourself a tan, Mahlua? I’m onto whatever the hell you're scheming. Still interesting nonetheless.

Love where this is going so far! Can’t wait to see more!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 23, 2018, 02:43:13 PM
Only thing that soothes me about that scene is that I'm still only 20 and a third year/senior in Japanese style high schools would be about 17, possibly even 18 if this takes place later in the school year. It's dubious af and it really does make my stomach unsettle, but there is a possibility that it's not actually morally horrible.
Still a high schooler though and that's enough to make me stamp a big red NOPE all up on that. Clearly in an IRL situation my response would be a lot different, and I don't foresee any "getting trapped in a dimension with questionable ways out" situations in my near future.

Not so much a Tan, but rather more like the Twin's b*tch I mean secretary or errand runner.

Hopefully now that things have calmed down on the personal front, I might be able to get a chapter written today.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Froneezy on May 23, 2018, 04:21:49 PM
I can see why you may feel that way. I agree with you of course, but seeing how I grew up in a environment where age is literally nothing but a number to a lot of people, I guess you can say I’m a bit numb or not as morally sensitive to the idea for lack of a better term.

It’s one of those, “hey, I’ve seen and heard worse, and unfortunately it’s a little common” kind of cases with me. Again, Moral compass does not function properly.

But that’s off subject. I totally missed the big deal with the cutting off the bridge between MR and Ecchi World. It makes sense to me now that it would take more of an added effort to get to the place. Figured we just take a bus and train, but i guess not lol.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 31, 2018, 12:16:17 AM
Ayo whaddup I'm only a little behind schedule but there is now a chapter that somewhat resembles a chapter. Sorry the writing in this one is crap. I'm not going to try to cover up the fact that this chapter is crap. I'm going through some weird personal stuff and really want to get this plot on a roll, so I figure what's one crappy chapter, eh?

Chapter 9
Mahlua started at the sound of the intruder, and her arm flew to cover her chest. Across the steam, a shadowy figure sat, arms stretched over the side of the bath. The Master’s silhouette was unmistakable.

“My apologies,” he said, “I didn’t mean to startle you.”

“People do tend to be startled when someone shows up unannounced at a bath,” Mahlua grumbled.

“Strange,” the Master said, scratching his chin. “I am everywhere in my mansion at all times.” Mahlua thought back to the presence she felt in the dining room that morning and nodded, jaw set tightly. He continued with a wave of his hand. “In any case, your trial will be over when we meet for breakfast tomorrow morning. I figured it only polite of me to check in. Now, back to my original question: have you been enjoying your stay with us?”

Mahlua forced herself to relax. He had made no move to harm her, as far as she could tell. “Yes. Your servants are quite skilled in attending to my requests, even before I verbally express them,” she said.

“I see. In that case, don’t be afraid of asking for a little more,” the Master said. Even with the thick steam separating the two, Mahlua could feel his smugness across the bath.

“I’ll not shame them, if that’s what you mean. Surely they have other matters to attend to,” she replied coolly.

“We shall see,” he said. His laughter echoed in the bath, even as his silhouette disappeared.

Once again, Mahlua dunked herself under the water and held herself there, shaking off the tension of the recent events. The Master’s last words rung in her ears and churned her stomach. She couldn’t tell anymore just how this level was supposed to operate. Her frustration lost out eventually to the clawing sensation in her lungs as the witch was forced to come back up for air. Not long after she let the sweet taste fill her, she went back under, and kept going back and forth until her mind started to clear of any and all bizarre questions and images. She grounded herself and focused on the immediateness of time and her surroundings relative to the elements in her body. The functions in this reality had shaken her balance and perspective, but once she felt more properly aligned, she rose from the water and stood upright, focusing on her breath.

Finally calm, she carefully took towels from the cabinet and dried herself, then put on her clothes. The air seemed to have freshened them, despite the wear they had taken from sparring and the previous level’s battle.

---

Outside the bathroom, Norberta waited for the guest. “Lunch is ready for you,” she said with a small bow.

“Thank you,” Mahlua said as she followed the maid back down to the dining room. A beautiful gourmet sandwich with fancy cheese she probably couldn’t pronounce the name of sat waiting for her at her seat. Part of her wanted to make a Fr E Sh A Voca Do joke, but she figured that such base humor was out of place.

---

After another fantastic meal, Mahlua made to return to her room. Along the way, she saw Nori, who was standing on a ladder to clean a light fixture higher up on the wall. Of course, as she passed, Mahlua noticed the ladder wobble slightly. Without question, she immediately gripped the ladder by both sides and steadied it with her weight, earning a confused sound from above. Nori glanced over her shoulder, eyebrows scrunched together.

Mahlua released the ladder and backed away. “Sorry,” she said, “It just looked unsteady.”

Nori turned and crossed her arms, and her lips pursed and twisted to the side of her face to form a look of discontent.

It struck Mahlua then that the small act of kindness carried different weight here. Clearly, she had interrupted and made the maid feel incompetent in her task. She wondered if that counted for or against her in the grand scheme of things. If Nori’s hard eyes were any indication, the answer seemed to be “against”.

“Sorry,” she said again, rubbing the back of her neck as she looked away.

“You’re not used to having help, are you?” Nori asked, not intrusively, but not quite subtly either.

“No,” Mahlua said, “More like I tend to be the help for others.”

“You’re not here for yourself, then, I presume?” Nori pressed, stepping off the ladder.

“No, I’m not,” Mahlua admitted. “I was sent on this mission by the Ecchi Twins themselves. It seems they want to test my abilities.”

“If I may speak openly?”

Mahlua blinked. She had forgotten that often times servants were not permitted to give their opinion on personal affairs. “You may,” she said.

“That seems like an awfully strange way to go about it, even…no, especially for the Twins.” Nori took a step closer.

“How so?” Mahlua asked as she took a step back and leaned against the wall.

“Now, this may be only my meager observations from your battle with Schoolgirl and your limited time here, but something about you just doesn’t seem to fit. I fear that the higher levels may give you grief for it, much like Schoolgirl did,” Nori explained.

Mahlua licked her lips and bit them in thought. “In what way do I not fit in?” she asked, choosing her words carefully.

Nori put a finger to her lips and gazed at the ceiling. “Hmm…You’re both perverse and not. Usually the ones Fortune favors here are one or the other, and they have different advantages over certain challenges. You seem to work in the reverse of what’s expected. When you have been expected to press, you have not, and when you have been expected to deny, you press. It’s rather difficult to get a read on your intentions because you are both genuinely kind and…” The maid trailed off and turned her attention to her shoes, a faint blush creeping up her neck.

“Genuinely kind of a freak?” Mahlua offered.

“That’s certainly one way to put it,” Nori said. The maid cleared her throat and turned her attention back to the light fixture. “I think that will be all I can say for the time being. Please enjoy your stay.” She gave a small bow and returned up the ladder.

Mahlua thought about asking her another question, but pressed her lips together and started back to her room instead.

Once inside, she sat by her bag at the foot of the bed and examined the instruments and tools she brought with her for the adventure. Her weapons sat nearby. They all seemed pretty useless here. This was a giant mind game, she realized. Among her belongings, the witch fished out her hematite ring and put it on. With it, she sat with her back upright against the bedpost. At the very least if things were going to be a mind game, she could meditate between events and keep her head screwed on as straight as possible. She focused on the weight of the hematite on her finger and emptied her thoughts into it.

Around her, the physical connection between her body and the room faded. She turned her focus inward and assessed the situation internally.

---

With her mind clear and her energy successfully grounded with the hematite, Mahlua entered her mental landscape. A familiar lake spread before her, littered with small islands. The clay seemed to squish beneath her as she sat, smelling the earth and nearly clear skies and muddy, fishy waters. The sensations were present, but only vaguely, like the phantom sensations in a dream. The witch focused on her breath and let thoughts come and pass as they would, scanning them for anything of importance.

Finally, from somewhere in the murky water, a thought came to her. It may be entirely possible to ask one of the Ecchi Twins directly what their plans were for her, if she could reach meditative state even within Ecchi Tower. Mahlua allowed this thought and those connected with it to step closer, turning all others down into a dull murmur, even that one annoying song that gets stuck in your head and never leaves no matter what you do. The thought reminded her of its important origin: she felt the need for assistance, a need to understand her situation in order to find resolution. Such thoughts came with it as it began to take human form.

The vague silhouette handed Mahlua a chain of other thoughts and memories that connected the witch’s heart to the twin goddesses in question. Mahlua took the chain and focused deeply on it, feeling the emotions rise and fall as the memories that made up each link played on loop. The memory figure nodded and receded back into the lake.

Mahlua began to piece together what she would say to the Twins, should she be able to reach them. She had made it to the second level, and one of the guardians of the tower had given her more information regarding the mission. She would ask the Twins what had been meant by her actions being the reverse of the expectations.

The presence of the divine caused the hieroglyphs under her skin to illuminate with violet energy as she continued to follow her connection to the Twins, until finally…

---

Night had fallen over EcchiWorld. Pale moonlight illuminated the temple gardens as night blooming plants opened themselves. Ecchi-tan always loved watching them unfurl, but tonight, something nagged at the back of her mind. At first she thought they might have been intrusive thoughts, but being a Tan and not being entirely susceptible to symptoms of mental illness, the conclusion was a non sequitur. It wasn’t until she distinctly made out Mahlua’s voice that she realized what was happening.

“Are you seriously telepathically contacting me from the Tower right now? Like, is that a legit thing you figured out how to do?”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Froneezy on May 31, 2018, 07:45:50 PM
Ah finally! Was waiting on this.


Enjoyed this chapter a lot. I doubt the twins would just straight up give away the blueprint of the mission (cause this is more so a test right? I would imagine they would keep her a bit more in the dark to get a genuine grasp of what’s she’s capable of), but hey anything can happen in this story, so I’ll wait and see what happens.

Looking forward to more of this sauciness!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 31, 2018, 09:19:32 PM
We'll find out soon enough. So much of this is flying from the seat of my pants. I guess I'm still stalling until I figure out how to approach and tackle the next two levels. I know what I'm doing for the fifth level aND RUBIX CAN KEEP HIS MOUTH SHUT ABOUT IT. Sixth and Seventh are still giant question marks to me.

Looks like this one is going to wind up being like, twenty chapters at least. Hhhhhhh, I didn't sign up for this, but at the same time, I'm not particularly complaining for the work.

Someone hire me to write maybe?
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on May 31, 2018, 09:37:15 PM
Yesssssss, feel the need, feel the burn. That way I can shamelessly enjoy more ecchi fiction without needing to lift a finger.

Hey I have no idea what's on the 5th level. Last ecchi tower I checked out had a hell of a lot more and I didn't even make it that far - wait my brother lego didn't make it that far - *cough*

Solid writing. The astral projection paragraph in particular was my favourite. Also... Mahlua helping on the ladder bit... A very, very important question....

Did she see her panties?
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 31, 2018, 09:41:24 PM
Maid skirts and aprons are rather long, and if a petticoat is involved, it would require effort to find them. But that's using normal people logic. This is an ecchi series, after all. They were grey with a darker grey lace lining.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on May 31, 2018, 09:41:50 PM
I would argue that signing up for it is exactly what you did, but I digress.

I guess you're astrally projecting from a physical place somewhere, even if reality is a little twisted. There's going to be a path back somewhere.

Neat how the master is sort of omnipotent in the house, although I suppose that means that he knows exactly what the maids are doing at all times already, and wouldn't have to ask you how they were doing  :-\

@Rubix: Your mistake was playing by the rules it seems. No barrier created by the site should even be a distraction to a Mod whose mind is set on their goal. Perhaps you simply lacked the resolve?
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on May 31, 2018, 10:01:08 PM
The Master's question was less about them and more about Mahlua's responses. It was a kind of conversation tester. Don't worry. He still has one very important task left for them.

To better explain, I was mirroring a kind of "happy place" that I often find myself in when I'm in a dream state. My "dreamscape" as it were is populated with vast expanses of freshwater and marshy but thick woods, even on the tiny islands scattered between bigger expanses of land. I try to connect to it when I meditate because it feels the most "home". I'll explain some more mechanics in the next chapter, which may come out in the wee hours of the morning today/tomorrow however you wanna put it.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 07, 2018, 10:15:16 PM
Eh, I considered adding another scene to this one, but I figure it might make a better beginning to the next chapter than an end of this one. I had to think on it for about a day and a half before I came to that conclusion though. I'm also thinking about picking up another project, and I'm still not sure if that's also going to be an EcchiWorld exclusive story or not. Since most of my fanfics wind up with smut later, I could simulpost it like I did with the Panty Raid a couple of years ago with the more suggestive chapters being exclusive here, but I don't wanna make things too complicated.

Ignore my rambles; they're better suited for my Plots thread. Anyway, long time coming. It's been a week. Here you go.


Chapter 10:
A tug on the other end of the memory chain filled the meditative space with Ecchi-Tan’s presence. Her words rang out sharply in annoyance.

“To be fair,” Mahlua said, “I didn’t exactly expect this to work either, with how this place is surrounded by layers of reality-distorting shields. I just applied the principles of godphoning, which, now that you’re a goddess, appears to work.”

Although the witch couldn’t physically see the goddess, she could feel Ecchi-tan purse her lips with a look between skepticism and amusement. She figured she might as well continue with her report.

“I’ve made it to the second level of the Tower. The apparent guardian of this level has explained a few things to me, and I’m left with some questions I think you may be best fit to answer,” Mahlua explained.

“You already made it to the second level? That was fast,” Ecchi-tan said.

“Yes. The first guardian decided fairly quickly that she didn’t like me. We settled that on the battlefield.”

The feeling of amusement in the air thickened. “I don’t see why you feel the need to ask any questions, then,” Ecchi-tan said. “Sounds like you’ve got this under control.”

“One of the guardians of this level spoke with me briefly and said something that confuses me,” Mahlua said. “That I’m the reverse of what is expected here in the Tower and its challenges. As the embodiment and newly appointed goddess of your namesake, I feel it only appropriate to ask you for clarity.”

Ecchi-tan paused. Mahlua could feel her searching for words.

“To be perfectly honest,” Ecchi-tan said, finally. “This whole test is designed to figure that out. It’s been clear from the beginning of your adventures that you bear elements of Ecchiness within you, but I’ve been wondering for a long time now if it’s enough, or too much. It’s not like it’s the world to you, but it’s very much a part of your life. One foot in, one foot out, in a way. At the very least, through this test, we’ll be able to figure out in what ways that is true.”

“So what you’re saying is that you don’t really know either,” Mahlua said flatly.

“Think of it as more of that we know enough to want to know more,” Ecchi-tan said, amusement thickening the air again. “Your decisions here will solidify things, like the choices in an RPG. Now, hop to it. You can’t show us what you’ve got if you distract yourself from the matters at hand.”

And suddenly, the connection broke, leaving Mahlua a little dizzy with the sudden shift in atmosphere. She focused on the hematite ring’s weight on her finger and eventually the room came into view, all the sensations swirling along with it. It was hard to tell how much time had passed, what with time being relative in the Tower. She stood up for a stretch.

Dim light filtered through the window by the bed, signaling the approach of dusk. Mahlua, not having anything else to do, followed the steps she took earlier that day to reach the courtyard. Along the way, she noted a distinct lack of the maids. It put her on edge, until she figured that they were probably cooking dinner.

---

Outside, a thick humidity hung in the air as fireflies began their lazy dance. Dark clouds loomed on the horizon, over which the sun sank, dying everything in hues of greys and blues. There was a small gazebo by the entrance to a garden. Mahlua decided to sit there, absorbing the feel of her favorite time of day. If a thunderstorm hit later that night like the heavy scent teased, all the better. With each deep breath, the smell of distant rain soothed nerves Mahlua didn’t even realize were tense. She rested her arms on the backrest behind her, crossed her legs, and arched back, just feeling.

Light greys and subtle blues gave way to deep purples and dark shadows as the sun continued to sink. Eventually, the flicker of the fireflies thinned, and they dispersed.

One of the maids approached from the mansion. Mahlua could sense her coming before she bothered to look. “Is dinner ready?” she asked, eyes still resting where the sun disappeared what only felt like minutes ago.

“Yes,” the maid replied. Nora, by the sound of it.

Mahlua rose slowly from her seat. In the dim remnants of light from the stars, she could make out the maid standing by the entrance to the gazebo.

“I think after dinner, unless it begins raining heavily, I would like to have a walk through the garden,” Mahlua said as she turned to exit.

“That sounds very like you,” Nora said, following the guest back to the mansion.

Mahlua smiled tiredly. “It’s the witch thing, isn’t it?”

“Yes and no. You are a witch, and that does give you a higher association with nature, yes, but you are also a romantic,” Nora explained.

“I do appreciate the Romantic era of literature,” Mahlua said with a nod.

“I mean…” the maid paused and stopped in her step.

Mahlua stopped and turned to face her. “Yes?” she pressed, and then added, “You may speak freely with me.”

Nora let out a slow, deep breath. It did not give off the impression of relief or agitation. It looked rather elegant, all things considered. “I mean that you often find the beauty in the simple things. You had expected more fighting to take place, and after finally relaxing, someone like you would of course like to stop and smell the roses. You may be here on a mission, but that doesn’t mean much. On one hand, you are easily shaken to the core, but on the other, you are also easily soothed by beautiful things.”

Mahlua’s ears grew hot. She rubbed the back of her neck awkwardly. “I’d say that’s a pretty fair assessment of me.” The word unfortunately came to mind, but she did not voice it.

Nora resumed walking and made to open the door for her guest first. She gave a small bow and said nothing further.

---

Dinner was just as fantastic as the other meals, but Mahlua found it difficult to focus on. Restlessness had settled in. She could never stand being comfortable for too long. Instead, her mind zeroed in on the walk through the garden and the eventuality of sleep. The weight of however long it had been since she left for the mission and how much further she had to go kicked in. Even so, the food refreshed her.

After she finished as much as she could stomach, the witch rose from her meal and headed back outside. The air hung a little heavier with a faint mist, likely carried over from the rain she felt earlier. She invited the energy in, although she could do without the chill. It made her wonder why exactly she bothered. An instinct seemed to nag at her, so she had to sate her curiosity.

Modest hedge walls protected the flower garden, aesthetically arranged to follow a brick-lain path. From the outside, it was impossible to notice, but from the inside, Mahlua recognized the organization immediately. Of course it would be a walking labyrinth—different from the type she dealt with before the tower. There would only be one entrance and one exit, with a small space at the center for meditation. With a deep breath, she began the walk.

The scent of night blooming flowers and the lingering buds of the day comforted and cleansed Mahlua as she walked. She let the circle do its work, although she kept careful note of which flower arrangements she let capture her focus. She did not want a repeat of the bath incident. Her steps continued without the need to think, and by the time she reached the center, trance was imminent.

Mahlua sat to rest on one of the benches at the center of the walking labyrinth. With her mind effectively empty, she set her mind to the future challenges. There was no guarantee that she would have time like this again, so she centered and drew in what peace she could, although she did not know how much good that would do in a dimension where reality could warp at will. This was but a small reprise.

Just as she finally felt ready to rise again, a low rumble of thunder shook the sky. The witch smiled broadly and stood up. Whatever lightning had struck had charged the air enough to faintly smell of tropospheric ozone. It was as if the universe wanted to give her one last pat on the back as a push forward. Mahlua gave a small nod and headed out of the walking labyrinth, letting her feet follow the winding, cyclical path.

---

 A/N: Sorry to make y'all wait a week for nothin but filler, lmao. (Edit: Oh gods, I am a mediocre ecchi anime...)
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on June 08, 2018, 11:55:35 PM
And admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery.


It's as you say though. It's filler alright. And not to bemoan it, but it does feel like it's just reafirming information we already know. You get retrospective pretty often, so it doesn't feel much like a reveal of your character as maybe you intended it to be?
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 09, 2018, 12:18:47 AM
Yeah. I was real hesitant to post it. It's not great. But I will recover.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on June 11, 2018, 07:38:05 PM
All I know is that I like mazes.

Nora chan is reminding me of the first time I played an eroge that is Tsukihime. Ah, the shame, but the beauty of the moment. Maids are so much waifu material it's not even funny.

By the by I always figured Mahlua to be a super affirmative type without a need for a break. Actually Bayonetta always comes to mind (and Soi Fon a little) When I think of Mahlua so I don't expect a lot of introspectiveness. But I'm happy to be proved wrong. Being vulnerable is only human. Haruhi knows everyone is.

Also cyclic gardens ftw!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 11, 2018, 07:43:30 PM
Yeah I didn't expect it to get so introspective either, but like, in a way I intended it to be a piece that could be used to introduce people to ecchi tropes and how to subvert them, but it seems to have turned into me plucking around my own brain for a bit. I can see why back on MR how Coryn's Saga got so long. Stick around, though. It looks like the next chapter might be out tonight, and it promises a little spice.

Also I only watched like a weird anime version of Tsukihime because I heard there was vampire.

And HA, I look up to those women because I am NOT that.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 11, 2018, 08:35:11 PM
And just a little feels--F8CKING DAMMIT I'M NOT CHOPPING ONIONS YOU ARE.

Chapter 11

When Mahlua returned to her room, the fuzz from the meditation still hung over her. She collapsed onto the soft bed and kicked off her boots, then snuggled under the covers. Sleep tickled the back of her mind. By tomorrow, she would be on to the next level of this crazy tower, and maybe one step closer to figuring out why.

As she continued the shifting trains of thought, a doze overtook her, but not long after, she was roused out of it by the feeling of weight denting the mattress. The witch rolled over and cracked an eye open. Norberta gave her an amused half-smile, sitting beside her.

“You forgot to turn the light out,” she said.

“Sorry ‘bout that.” Mahlua yawned and propped herself up. With her consciousness slipping back to her, she realized that the maid had already hit the light. Pale moonlight filtered through the curtains adjacent to the bed, casting a blue hue on everything, including the hand that reached to stroke her hair.

Norberta inched closer. “You really are quite childlike,” she said.

Mahlua allowed the fingers to comb through her hair, although the action seemed odd. “So, did the Master put you up to this? To tuck me in?”

“Yes and no,” Norberta said. “The actual command was to gauge just where your defenses are and aren’t. We’ve come to something of a consensus.”

“Might I ask what that is?” Mahlua asked.

“All of that will be discussed tomorrow morning, but for now, I do think there’s a little more to be explored tonight.” Norberta shifted her gaze downward and moved closer to the head of the bed.

Mahlua pressed her lips together and sat upright. “I understand that in your position, it is good to serve to the whims of the guests, but if you’re suggesting what I think you are—”

“And what exactly are you thinking?” Norberta’s eyes snapped to make contact with Mahlua’s, and her hand dropped from the witch’s hair to her hand.

A static shot through Mahlua’s nervous system. Like with the other maids earlier, she suddenly saw Norberta through a peach-colored fog, picking up on every small, beautiful thing.

“Forgive me,” Mahlua said, “but more to explore sounds like a reference to between these fancy sheets.”

Norberta chuckled. “I think that exhibits more about your ideal of providing service than our actual job description.”

Searing heat burned Mahlua’s ears and forced her to look away. “I know,” she said quickly, “and even so, I’d have to politely decline an offer like that, because it’s not truly befitting of the type of respect that your dynamic is built on.”

“Dynamics vary from guest to guest,” Norberta said as she her other hand on top of Mahlua’s for added pressure. “Remember, our orders are simply to find where your defenses are and are not.”

“Do you mean to suggest that you would be rewarded if you managed to slip past mine by getting me to accept these advances?” Mahlua asked.

“Are your rewards worth it?” Norberta asked.

Mahlua pursed her lips. “Not interested.”

A smile tugged Norberta’s features, causing Mahlua’s heart to leap into her throat. Whatever charm spell they had, it hit stronger than anything she’d cook up. The look on the witch’s face as she processed the stimuli overload must have given her away, because Norberta withdrew her hands and pulled down her headband. It was such a simple action, but Mahlua’s chest threatened to implode.

“Come on, now,” Mahlua groaned. She tore her gaze away and stared at the curtains on the window instead. The moonlight did her no favors, and her energetic sixth sense was still locked on the warm body that creaked the bed as it moved closer. Too many images bubbled to mind at once, and she became very aware of her own heartbeat. “Y’all play dirty,” she grumbled.

“So this is the situation that breaks you,” Norberta asked, albeit not in a questioning tone. She chuckled and placed her hand over Mahlua’s.

“I ain’t broken yet,” Mahlua retorted, trying to absorb herself in the intricacy of the lace design at the floor of the curtains. She then squeezed her eyes shut and felt for her energetic center. “Besides, if I already said ‘not interested,’ aren’t you overstepping your position? Like, can we please stop with the ‘but your body says yes’ nonsense? It’s pretty rapey.” It was a struggle to force the words out, but she managed.

Norberta sighed and pulled her hand away. “I suppose you have a point. It’s not exactly fair to pull that kind of card on you when you’re so weak to being taken care of.”

Mahlua’s eye twitched. “What is that supposed to mean?”

“Maybe if you got your head out of the gutter you’d find that you really don’t mind this,” Norberta said.

“Wh—”

Norberta pressed a single finger to Mahlua’s lips. “Here, I’ll cheat for you, even if it is bending the rules. Nothing sexual has to happen. As you said, that’s not really a part of my job. The whole point of maids is to feel welcomed and cared for. It’s impersonal,” she said. After a brief pause, she continued.

“You’re supposed to hear this tomorrow from the Master, but, all things considered, it will do no harm this late in the game to know. You fear your own sex drive too much and let that fear get in the way of the fact that you care most about the little things. Think about it: when did you feel most drawn to us?”

Mahlua’s eyes widened. She made as if to speak, but the finger at her lips pushed harder to reinforce her silence.

“Exactly. Those were the moments we did slip past your defenses.” Norberta removed her finger.

Stunned silence hung in the air. “So,” Mahlua said, catching up to the situation, “What do you gain for giving me that spoiler?”

A crooked half-smile appeared on Noberta’s face again. “Seeing someone with potential actually progress through this place. We rarely receive visitors, and the experiments the Twins have sent our way have not always been great company, but you…You’re a bit of an idiot, but I like you enough to step out of bounds. Don’t get used to it, though. We’re probably the nicest level. On top of that, with how much you were holding back during our little sparring session, I can tell that even if you displeased the Lord entirely, you would be able to take all three of us.”

“Why am I not surprised there was a route here that would end in a battle royale against maids?” Mahlua thought aloud, rolling her eyes.

“Regardless, you should get some sleep. The question is, would you rather be alone, or can you stand actually having someone there?” Norberta asked pointedly.

At first, Mahlua thought angry words would spill out of her mouth. She opened it as if to yell at the maid, but…nothing came out. She felt an immense weight on her chest, different from before. This weight actually hurt. She closed her mouth and pressed her lips together into a flat line. She closed her eyes, but the pain seemed to intensify, so she opened them again and gazed from the curtain, to the door, around the room, to her hands, and finally back to Norberta.

“You could stay?” Mahlua asked, lips dry.

“Can you handle it?” Norberta replied.

Mahlua gulped. “It’s just…been ages since I’ve not been alone at night.”

“Nothing sexual,” Norberta reminded her. Her face was stern, and yet, after a moment, the mask cracked. She giggled, actually giggled. “Come on, though. Let’s get you into something more comfortable.”

Before Mahlua could figure out which question she needed to ask, Norberta rose from the bed and strode over to the dresser and opened it to reveal an assortment of nightwear. By the time she figured out that the question she wanted to ask was what, the maid returned and ushered her to the nightstand.

“Given your disposition, I understand if you will not be comfortable with me changing you, or possibly even watching. Just hand your clothes to me and I’ll fold them and lay them next to your other things,” Norberta said.

Still dazed and confused, Mahlua obeyed. She wasn’t sure why she obeyed, but it seemed to get her through the situation more quickly. She chose a simple nightgown and threw it over herself before turning back. To her surprise, Norberta had not only folded the clothes she had handed to her, but the maid had also removed a her apron and outer layer clothing and was in the process of folding them.

Nothing sexual, Mahlua screamed at her brain.

Satisfied with her work, Norberta turned and gave a small bow. “Shall we go to bed now?”

“Y…yeah,” Mahlua nodded, still under heavy situational whiplash.

---

It was so foreign to the witch to have someone near her. For all intents and purposes, she could have invested in glamour magic or in some of EcchiWorld’s local businesses, but she could never bring herself to do it. Now, though, with a single arm around her for support, she started to understand why.

It was kind of like changing the wrappings on an old wound. It was both a relief and a pain. In truth, Mahlua was just happy that when the first tremble hit her that the maid said nothing. After a few more little twitches, Norberta’s arm pulled her closer. Fabric and flesh pressed softly against her back, and no amount of breath control could hide tears at this closeness. Mahlua felt a little squeeze around her waist, and a pull. Memories of body language passed and she instinctually turned around and buried her face in the maid’s neck. A familiar hand rested on her head.

There were no words, no sex. Just the fulfillment of an unspoken fantasy.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on June 11, 2018, 09:26:12 PM
Impossible. I have just appreciated an ecchi scene precisely because there was no sex.

What witchcraft is this. I might as well remove the paper bag from my head and admit that I am -

never mind.  I am rubixmaestro, and I approve of this chapter.



Was a fun read for sure. I feel like the floor hasn't been quite cleared yet, but the ecchi situation was quite welcome. Still want to know what other challenges happen after the maids though. If not, it's cool to see more of this because hell yeah fabric against skin. That's always awesome.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 11, 2018, 09:32:14 PM
And here I thought the point of ecchi was to be pleasing without direct sex.

Well I am a witch, so I suppose it's my witchcraft?

Yeah no the floor isn't quite cleared but this was one of the scenes that I really needed to have before moving on. I think and I kinda hope that the other levels won't take up so many chapters, but I mean, it will do what it will do, I guess. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. Hopefully Last will feel made up for the filler chapter that came previously.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on June 11, 2018, 10:35:46 PM
Nothing to make up for. As counterintuitive as it may sound, I'm not actually here for the ecchi aspect of ecchi, so much as I am here to absorb the story telling aspects of the genre, so I can turn them to my own devices as the need arises. But I digress.

It was a nice little chapter, and I definitely feel that we're getting somewhere. But I do agree with your own sentiment that we could do with a change in pace. They can't all be slow burners.

Additionally: (https://pbs.twimg.com/media/C_Avs-RXsAEDL7c.jpg)


And to clarify, that saga of mine got so long because I am apparently incapable of telling a short story. And despite outward appearances, isn't about myself. *He says, somewhat unconvincingly* I mean that though.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 11, 2018, 11:19:04 PM
Wow it me. We'll see what I get on board with tomorrow, or if I start a couple of other projects I have in mind. One of them would be a oneshot, which would get me ready for some faster paced stuff.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: TinTin on June 12, 2018, 02:13:37 AM
Well done Mahlua !!!  I have no idea how have you found energy to write all these chapters soo fast !!!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: devola on June 12, 2018, 03:11:15 PM
Holy shit you weren't kidding when you said "productive" god damn!

Keep it up!
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 12)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 25, 2018, 01:42:00 AM
And now hopefully with my re-written outline I can be as productive as I was again. No promises, though. Lol, I must love putting myself in awkward call-out positions.

Chapter 12

Mahlua was pulled from her sleep by the long fingers gently combing through her hair. She cracked open a tired eye as her other sensations slowly returned to her. Norberta smiled down to her. With her hair disheveled from sleep, and without the whole maid attire, Mahlua couldn’t help but find her all the more beautiful. The extra weight and warmth of another body nearby rattled something hollow in her chest.

“I’m sure breakfast is nearly ready. It’s about time to get up,” Norberta said softly.

Mahlua averted her eyes and burrowed herself further into the mattress. With sleep still clouding her mind, she couldn’t imagine leaving so soon. Being close to someone like this would make going back to being alone unbearable. She wondered if she should have thought that through last night, if it wouldn’t have been better to have declined the offer. It was too early for deep thoughts. Her chest hurt, and a little at the back of her eyes, too. The pain felt…bittersweet somehow.

Norberta sighed and tucked a stray lock of hair behind Mahlua’s ear. “It would not fare well for either of us to stay here for much longer,” she said.

A pang of guilt settled into Mahlua’s gut. She certainly didn’t want the maid to get into any trouble for her sake. Begrudgingly, the witch peeled herself away from the embrace and sat upright. She felt the weight shift next to her as Norberta did the same.

“Would you like me to gather your things for you?” Norberta asked, voice still barely above a whisper.

“Yeah,” Mahlua nodded. The word tasted like iron in her mouth.

Norberta slid out of bed and quickly dressed herself before arranging Mahlua’s belongings at the foot of her bed, even laying out her day clothes. In a little less than a minute, she completed the task and moved to the door.

“I’m sure you would like to dress privately. Breakfast should be ready by the time you arrive at the dining hall, or just after,” Norberta said. She then gave a small bow and exited the room.

Silence hung in the air after her absence. Mahlua rubbed the back of her neck. She made a mental note to try to get out more in MR City, and maybe get herself an actual girlfriend. Clearly loneliness was starting to affect her in ways she had been ignoring. She brushed the ideas from her mind and crawled to the foot of the bed to gather her clothes and tried to keep them away as she dressed herself, armed herself, put on her backpack, and headed to the dining hall.

---

Once inside the massive double doors, the Master of the household met her at the head of the table once more. He rose from his seat, both hands still on the table, and smiled with an intent Mahlua couldn’t place.

“I’m glad you could make it. When Norberta did not check in for the evening, I was a little concerned. She often takes the boldest route,” the Master said.

Mahlua rested a hand on the chair she sat in before. The Master shook his head and gestured to the seat next to him at the head of the table. “You are no stranger anymore. Please, join me.” Mahlua quirked an inquisitive eyebrow, but said nothing and obeyed.

As she sat, Mahlua asked, “So, what exactly about Norberta’s decision was concerning to you?”

The Master gave a half smile that showed that he knew more than he would say. “I believe you are quite a lucky guest. You must be truly special to have drawn out her sympathetic side. She could very easily have been your demise.”

“What exactly do you mean?” Mahlua pressed, eyebrows scrunched together.

The Master waved a dismissive hand. “There is no need to worry about that. You sit next to me this morning, victorious. You are the first guest that the maids have unanimously agreed upon. Really, you should have heard some of the bickering between Nora and Nori when they realized Norberta had taken you to bed.”

“Was that the end goal?” Mahlua blinked in confusion.

“No, but it is one of the more positive outcomes. All it takes to pass is for at least two of the maids to agree that they would serve you. As I said, you’re the first guest for which all three have agreed. According to the information they gathered, you are grateful for little things and watchful over them. They know you would care for them as charges and respect their service, although it would appear you’ve gone a step further and tugged at their heartstrings in different ways,” the Master explained. He closed his eyes and smiled, crossing his arms. “Something tells me you already know power dynamics from experience or instinct.”

Searing heat raced up Mahlua’s neck, dying her ears redder than her hair. Tears pricked at her eyes from the rush of blood. “Uh…something like that,” she said, turning her gaze to her hands.

The Master let out a hearty laugh. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, you could take pride in how quickly these three trusted you. They have some pretty high standards, and their instincts are always on the mark. You would make a good dom.”

Mahlua coughed to relieve the pressure building up behind her face. “I, uh…tend to identify…in the, um. Other direction.”

“As a sub?” the Master asked. His eyebrows disappeared into his bangs with surprise. “Well, that explains Norberta’s particularly pointed interest. I would say to keep the option on the table. Either side you take, or both if you find yourself with another switch, I’m sure you will make your partners happy.”

“Uh, you said—”

“Yes. Partners. Do you think I can’t see the polyamory in you? If it weren’t, every instance of a charm from anyone but the first sender would have caused internal distress, considering theirs is a charm that pulls out the emotion of love. Most people get confused in such an event and feel like they are betraying their feelings. You exhibited far less stress than average over being charmed from all sides—almost none, actually. That is due in part to your familiarity with magic, but not entirely.”

Mahlua sank into her chair. “So, what’s on the menu this morning?”

The Master chuckled and turned his head to a small set of doors, out of which came the three maids, carrying trays with the food. Mahlua couldn’t help but notice the nasty side-eye Nori was shooting at Norberta.

“Today, we have French toast with mixed fruit,” Nora announced.

Mahlua was always happy to wake up to breakfast, but she could not have been happier for it in that moment.

---

After the meal, Mahlua sat back in her chair and dabbed her mouth with the fancy napkin. Beside her, the Master turned to address her.

“Now, when you’re ready, I can take you up the grand staircase to the next level,” the Master said.

Mahlua nodded and rose from her seat. “Yeah, let’s get a move on. I do have a grand quest and all that.”

The Master’s lips curled into another smile as he stood. “All right then. Please, follow me.” He strode out of the dining hall and turned up the massive stairs. “Had you tried to go up these stairs without me, you would simply find more of my mansion,” he explained as Mahlua trailed behind him. “But, with me here,” he said as he stopped at the first landing. He held his gloved hand to the wall. Reality cracked vertically above and below it, and a door formed. With the job done, he stepped aside.

“Best of luck to you,” the Master said. He offered a small bow with his hand over his heart and kept in position as Mahlua pushed the door open and stepped through the pouring white light.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on June 26, 2018, 09:45:56 PM
Nice to finally move out of that mansion. It was a very direct conversation for breakfast, but works. At least it finally answered what the deal was with the level. That was something that felt kinda strained after being dragged out for so long.

Good luck on the next level!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 26, 2018, 10:04:27 PM
Yeah, I'm about halfway done with the next chapter. Now it's a matter of hunkering down and writing. I tried to make playlists but they didn't quite work as well as I'd hoped while writing.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Froneezy on June 26, 2018, 10:37:02 PM
Well at least you're more productive than I can ever hope to be at the moment. All that steam I had when I first started Drifter has pretty much waned itself thin.

Glad to see that things will indeed be picking up again. I'm sure the next trope will something special.

Also, If you ever need a wingman to help you pick up chicks outside of MR City, holla at me  ;)
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 27, 2018, 04:07:09 PM
We'll see how that goes.

Heads up: after I complete chapter 13, I'm going to try to draw all of the new characters that come with it. Get ready for incoming tropes--I hope to have it out tonight.
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 13)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 27, 2018, 05:06:43 PM
Well, that didn't take as long as expected.
Here's a little playlist (https://imgur.com/a/w4ln2qd) I tried to make to capture a "fantasy"-esque feel, but it doesn't do as great a job. A few of the tracks are good, though, so feel free to look up some of them for listening pleasure.


Chapter 13

White light gave way to sunlit forest. Mahlua raised a hand to block the sudden assault on her eyes.

“Welcome,” a gentle, feminine voice said.

Mahlua turned and found herself in the middle of a path that cut through the woods. Behind her, a woman in a long, brown, hooded robe smiled, holding a woven basket of fruit.

“You must be from the Tower,” the woman said, pulling back her hood. As it fell, it revealed two pointed cat ears that matched her black hair.

Mahlua gave a tired smile and shrugged.

“We don’t typically receive many visitors from your world,” the nekomimi explained, “But, I can take you where you might find more helpful people.”

“Right,” Mahlua said dumbly. Seeing a nekomimi in real life rattled her brain. The twitch of the ears looked unnatural and natural all at once. She could begin to understand the Maestro brothers’ fascination with them.

The nekomimi smiled and twirled past Mahlua, walking on the balls of her feet. “Follow me,” she chirped. Her bare feet made no sound against the dirt, and she swayed gracefully from step to step. She moved in such a feline manner, too…

Mahlua shook her head and followed the woman, suddenly self-conscious of her own gait.

---

Twenty minutes later, the trees began to thin and over the hill, Mahlua could make out wooden farm fences and small cabins. Ahead of her, the nekomimi picked up the pace, excited by the sounds of the bustling little village. Mahlua had to jog to catch up. As they approached the town center, a shirtless man with bull horns and ears wiped his forehead with his arm and waved.

“Yo, Salem!” he called.

“Heya, Angus,” the nekomimi replied, “Look what I found on the way back home.” She twirled again and made a playful gesture towards Mahlua.

The bull man rested his hands on his hips and gave a hearty laugh. “We haven’t had a visitor here in a long time. Hey, newcomer, let’s take you to the inn and get you caught up to speed. Salem here probably didn’t tell you much, knowing her.”

Mahlua blinked. “Sure,” she said, although the only thing she was sure of is that she was probably experiencing some stage culture shock. Angus turned and started walking further into town, his tail flicking lazily through a specially designed hole in his shorts. With little choice, Mahlua followed him dumbly.

The sound of children playing pulled her out of her funk. Curious, she turned to see a group of about five children playing around a massive oak tree on the outskirts of town by a small building that must have been the school. To her further shock, it was plain as day—the children looked perfectly human. No animal ears or tails about them at all.

“Cute, ain’t they?” Angus said loudly.

“They don’t…” Mahlua trailed off.

Angus made a confused noise, then rubbed the back of his hair. “Oh, yeah. That’s the thing about being a kemonomimi. We are human, after all. As we grow up, we take on the traits of our animal parent,” he explained. He let Mahlua stand and take in the information for a moment before leading the way to the inn again.

It was a large building, with two stories and a wide porch. Angus pushed the door aside with ease and held it open for the newcomer. “Hey, Savannah, Salem came home with a newcomer today,” he called over his shoulder. From somewhere inside, Mahlua could hear a whinny. As she stepped through the door, she suddenly found herself tackled to the ground.

“Max, no! Get down!” A woman yelled.

Mahlua looked up to see a rather odd sight. Angus lifted up the young man who tackled her by his armpits. He had sandy blonde hair, little tufts for ears, and a curly, floofy tail that waved so quickly from side to side she worried it might fall off. What struck her most was that he was also completely naked. A woman crouched next to her and offered a hand.

“Sorry about that. Max is a bit of an idiot, but we love him anyway,” the woman said.

“And a nudist, apparently.” Mahlua took her hand and sat upright. On closer inspection, she figured that this was the woman that caused the whinny. Her horse ears stuck out even more with her dark auburn hair styled into a long, loose mohawk.

“I’m Savannah, the owner of this inn. Can I get you something to drink?” she asked.

“If you got a hard cider, that’d be great,” Mahlua grumbled as she stood up shakily.

Savannah let her lips vibrate against each other in amusement. “You’re too young for that; you don’t even have your ears yet.”

“They’re from the outside,” Max piped up. “I still smell the Master on them.”

Savannah looked from Max, to Mahlua, and back again. She let out a slow sigh. “Welp, I ain’t changin’ my rules. They’ll have to earn their ears if they want a grown-up drink around here.”

Mahlua’s eye twitched. “How’s a regular cider while someone explains what you mean by earning ears?” she asked.

Savannah rested a hand on her hip and shifted her weight to one foot. “Now that, I can do,” she smiled.

---

Angus returned to his work, so the rest of the odd group sat around the bar, Max still without clothes. He protested and detested them, and no amount of coaxing from Savannah could convince him to be decent for the guest. Mahlua, for her part, just tried to ignore it and focus her glass of sparkling apple cider. Non-alcoholic.

Savannah leaned her arms on the counter and sighed and a dismissive flick of the tail. “So, you folks from the outside aren’t used to seeing kemonomimi around, and so you don’t know a lot about how we work.”

“That’s about right. You’re kind of viewed as like, mythical creatures,” Mahlua said.

Savannah raised an eyebrow. “Like witches?”

“Well…I mean, I’m a witch, but that’s a little beside the point.”

Savannah’s face went blank. Next to her, Max flinched and scooted his barstool away, tucking his tail to the side.

Mahlua shook her head. “To answer the never-ending question before it begins, I seem to be more of a good witch than a bad one. We’re still viewed as mythical creatures to an extent.”

“You don’t like, sacrifice animals and stuff, right?” Max asked.

Mahlua pressed her fingers to her temples. “No. We tend to love and get along with animals, usually.” She could have went on to explain how that works in some traditions, and that the sacrificial animal is treated with the utmost honor for all its living life before being killed painlessly by a trained professional, but scaring the dog boy was not on her to-do list. He did visibly relax, at least.

“Well, if you can do magic and such, what I’m about to tell you will probably make more sense,” Savannah said. “When a kemonomimi is born, they look completely human. They don’t necessarily obtain the ‘animal’ traits of their parents, who may or may not have the same animal parents. The whole point of an animal parent is that it’s tied to you, your self, your soul, if you will. As a kemonomimi grows up, they start to take on traits of their parent. It can be hard to tell exactly what animal the parent is just given the traits, so when they’re ready, a kemonomimi will take a pilgrimage up to the mountain shrine, where the priestess will help them do the proper meditation to get in touch with their parent. When the connection is made, that’s when we earn our ears and tails. It almost never happens before the age of twelve, so it’s seen as a mark of adulthood.”

“And that’s why even though I’m legally able to drink in my world, I wouldn’t be able to here,” Mahlua said. “I take it some people take longer to connect?”

“If a person is too scared of their parent, or of the traits they show, or is ashamed of themselves for any reason related to it, then yes. It can take a few trips to the shrine to get it sorted out,” Savannah explained.

“I got mine on the first try!” Max said proudly. His tail began to wag.

“No surprises there. We all knew Max had some dog in him. He’s been running around naked since he was able to run around. Probably the freest free bird I’ve ever met,” Savannah said.

“So, if I have this right, for people coming through the tower, the rite of passage is to earn our ears?” Mahlua asked.

“Seems so, but we’ve rarely had anyone pass though from the level below. Sometimes it gets to be so long that it feels like an old legend,” Savannah replied.

“Except when the Master visits! He goes from level to level sometimes, just to do business and stuff,” Max said. His tail wagged even faster at his mention.

“That’s why you recognized his scent. Has he come by recently?” Mahlua said.

“Just yesterday, actually. Said he had a visitor that might be making it up here. That must be you,” Max replied. He grinned and bobbed his head from side to side.

“Boy, calm down. Your taill’ll knock you right out of that chair,” Savannah said.

Ignoring them, Mahlua took a swig of her drink. “Well, it looks like I’ll have to start preparing for a shrine visit. Are there any special items I should bring? Like an offering or something?”

“Nah. Just provisions, and I can set you up with those, under one condition,” Savannah said. Max groaned.

“What’s that?” Mahlua asked.

“You’ll be helping me with the inn for a day or two. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, the whole deal.”

“Can’t complain there,” Mahlua said, holding out her hand.

Savannah took it and gave it a firm shake. “There’s a girl from here who’s preparing for the journey too. You can leave with her when she’s ready.”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Froneezy on June 27, 2018, 07:17:15 PM
Our protagonist is getting a little sassy I see. Curious as to who this other girl could be.

Also...
Quote
She could begin to understand the Maestro bothers’ fascination with them.

Pretty sure you meant "brother's or brothers'.

And I'm not really harsh on writers for using adverbs because I'm super guilty of using them myself, but the word 'dumbly' popped up twice and it kinda stood out to me as a weird adverb to use. I don't see it used too often which is why I probably zeroed in on it. Nothing major though. Just felt a little weird about it.

Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 27, 2018, 07:20:16 PM
Yeah, I usually try to avoid adverbs too, but I lean on them a lot for various reasons. I hadn't noticed that I used the same one twice, though.

Good catch on the brothers'/bothers' typo that I glossed over. Man I gotta up my proofreading skills.

Hopefully we'll get to the other girl in the next chapter. I just gotta start it and follow my outline.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on June 27, 2018, 10:46:40 PM
I liked the chapter! Better character dynamics in this one. The whole mansion felt pretty stale in that regard, so it's refreshing!


Although, all I keep thing is "The Brothers Maestro. The two brothers named Maestro. Maestro, and his brother Maestro."
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 27, 2018, 11:28:36 PM
IS THIS WHAT HE WANTED WHEN HE SAID HE WANTED TO BE CALLED MAESTRO ALL THOSE YEARS AGO? LOOK AT WHAT YOU'VE DONE.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on June 28, 2018, 11:17:12 PM
Meh. Probably. But let's be honest, his fate is sealed. Out of respect I won't say it here, but he'll have that nickname until either the day he dies, or I do.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on June 29, 2018, 09:31:05 AM
On behalf of my brother, I curse you to a life devoid of any nekomimies in your dreams. You took everything from me T_T


Also NEKOMIMIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII A rustic one too.  Sweet applesauce.


Also Maid Mahlua The Cleaning Witch?


Your productivity is on point Mahlua. Interesting in depth-discussions for this chapter and the other. Er... Now I know some terms to BDSM for some reason. TIL what sub means. *Pulls paper bag tighter around head*
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 29, 2018, 03:51:56 PM
Glad to be of help in the learning all things BDSM department. I try to keep this as a fun little story, but I also like to explore the reason why the tropes presented are so common and well loved. I hope my social commentary doesn't override all the fun.
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 14)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on June 30, 2018, 10:59:11 PM
Lol whoops.

Chapter 14
Spoiler tag (now that they work) so you guys
don't have to keep scrolling for ages.
Mahlua wondered if she hadn’t been spoiled for far too long at the mansion. The work for the inn wore her out, although, in some ways, she enjoyed it. There was a method for everything, a pattern in what needed to be done, and none of the work was particularly labor-intensive or difficult. She had been put to work immediately, and by nightfall, her arms felt lighter, which was a good sign that they’d be sore the next day, and of course they were.

Savannah left her to sweeping the main lobby of the inn that morning while she went shopping in town. Mahlua took to the task despite her arms’ protest, still tired from the previous night’s work. By the time she made it to the bar area with the broom, the soreness felt less painful—gods bless endorphins.

“She’s a real workhorse, isn’t she?” a familiar voice teased from the door.

Mahlua looked up. “Oh, good morning, Salem,” she said.

“You know, if you ever need a break,” Salem said as she hoisted herself to the bar, tail flicking playfully, “I could help mellow you out.”

In that moment, Mahlua couldn’t help but notice faint dark circles under the cat girl’s eyes, and suddenly it clicked. Mahlua cleared her throat and continued her work. “I don’t think Savannah appreciates people sitting at the bar when it’s closed. Besides, it looks to me like you need to take care of yourself a little more before you go worrying about me.”

Salem rolled her eyes. “Oh well. It was worth a shot, I guess. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so direct…” she trailed off, the tip of her tail still flicking from side to side.

With her main task complete, Mahlua turned her attention to sweeping the stairs. She would be asked to do it later anyway. Meanwhile, Salem stretched out across a few barstools and fell into a doze. All things considered, Mahlua didn’t have the heart to tell her to move somewhere else. When Mahlua finally got to the second floor, she heard Savannah return below.

“Floor looks good,” she called up, “But you somehow missed an entire cat!”

Salem groaned and tried to roll over at the noise. Instead she made an ungraceful thud on the ground.

“I tried to tell her you wouldn’t want her sitting at the bar, but she didn’t move, so,” Mahlua shrugged as she came down the stairs.

“I believe it,” Savannah sighed. Her tail swished to one side. “Well, since that’s done, you gonna help me get all these crates in the cellar?”

“Yup,” Mahlua said, walking around the bar to put the broom away. As she passed, she noticed that somehow Salem had either gone back to sleep or the tumble hadn’t woken her up at all.

---

Savannah adjusted the last crate on the shelf and dusted her hands off. “Now, I know you probably have a couple of questions about Salem, so I’m going to clear them up for you. She’s not from this village. She does some odd jobs here and there to earn her keep, but for the most part, she has a bad reputation. People just don’t trust black cats. In her hometown, when things went missing, they ran her out. Ain’t nothing gone missing here, so it probably wasn’t fair, and we keep her up. Seeing as her situation is so rough, she’ll take to any kind of work, and not many people are fond of that, ‘specially for the dirtier work. Frankly, she don’t have the pleasure of denying it. She stays here a lot, and I don’t mind it. She’ll run errands for me every now and then. Dunno where she goes when she’s not here, though.”

Mahlua sighed and rubbed the back of her neck. “I got a vibe like that when I saw her eyes this morning.”

“Did she try to put the moves on you, too?” Savannah asked as she turned to inspect produce on another shelf.

“She offered to give me a break from work, if that’s what you mean,” Mahlua said.

“I was afraid of that,” Savannah sighed. “The game is getting to her head.” She withdrew a few tomatoes from a crate and gave them a squeeze, testing for bruises. “Can’t say that I blame her, though. There’s good money in it. Dirty money, but more than a simple livin’ like I get.”

“All this because she has black hair and a cat parent?” Mahlua asked, shaking her head.

“She wasn’t always black-headed. She used to be the spittin’ image of her brother,” Savannah said, moving on to the old carrots.

“Her brother?”

“Max followed her here. He hates that she’s like that, but that’s still his sister. The fact that her hair started to change to match her ears and tail proves that her parent is specifically a black cat. Doesn’t always happen like that, y’know? Usually it’s just the ears and tail. Some people just take after their parents more than others.”

Mahlua stood silently for a few moments, trying to imagine Salem with dusty blonde hair. Now that she thought about it, there was a bit of a similarity. Before she could think too hard about the pit of lead that dropped in her stomach, Savannah drew her back to the present.

“How do you feel about some tomato sandwiches for lunch?”

---

After lunch, the guest from one of the rooms softly padded down the stairs. The girl kept her hair in a short bob and wore a simple sweater and long skirt. Her full moon glasses slid down to the tip of her nose. Most notably, she lacked any animal ears or corresponding tail.

“Ah, there she is. The one going on the journey with you,” Savannah said. She smiled and waved the guest over. “Can I get’cha a bite to eat, Marissa?”

The girl pushed up her glasses and nervously tugged at her sweater. “Uh, sure,” she said. She sat at the far end of the bar and kept shooting Mahlua glances, as if trying to size her up.

“I should have all the supplies to get y’all on the road by tomorrow,” Savannah said, leaning on the counter. “I got high hopes for both of you. Now, if y’all will look after the place while I go out and get some things this evening, that’d be much appreciated.”

“You got it,” Mahlua said. Marissa simply gave a small nod.

“Good,” Savannah said as she stood up for a stretch. “I’ll start heading out then, see if I can make it home before nightfall.”

As the horse woman headed for the door, Max stumbled in. “Hey, have you seen Salem?” he asked, breathless.

“She had a nice nap on my bar floor this morning, looks like,” Savannah said. “Come on, now, Max, you know she’s probably chasing money."

Max paced back and forth and scratched behind his ears with both hands, clearly frustrated. He turned back to face Savannah. “Did she say she’d be back?”

“Boy, she was out like a light. Wouldn’t’a said nothin’ unless she were sleeptalking.” Savannah’s tail swished. “Go try with Angus. He usually has honest work for her.”

“I just came from there,” Max retorted, voice raising in pitch.

“Leave it be, Max. She goes around sometimes, but she always comes back.” Savannah rested a hand on his head. “Now, I gotta go for a bit. You can have yourself a drink or two—no more than two—while I’m gone. Just don’t make a mess.”

“But, Savannah!”

Ignoring him, she kept walking and waved on her way out. “We’ll get it sorted out. Don’t worry about it.”

All the while, Marissa’s shoulders had tensed so much that she practically curled in on herself.

“Are you all right?” Mahlua asked.

“No,” Max interjected. The nude man threw himself into the seat next to Mahlua and held his head in his hands. “She usually tells me if she’s going to go off somewhere.”

Not who I was trying to talk to… Mahlua thought. “I’m sure she didn’t mean to worry you. Come on now. Let’s get you something to drink. Do you want anything, Marissa?” she said.

“Just water,” the girl replied, looking at her hands in her lap.

“And I guess I’ll just have a bottle of cider. None of that crazy alcohol stuff, though,” Max added.

---

Night had started creeping across the horizon when Savannah finally returned. Max already left to continue his search for Salem, and Mahlua cleaned up the drinks.

Savannah surveyed the place and gave an approving nod. “Looks like you two managed to take care of things just fine,” she said. “Now, I can have you out of here as early as tomorrow afternoon. The closest shrine is only about a day and a half away on foot, so I hope you can keep camp well.”

Mahlua nodded. Marissa remained quiet.

“Good. Tomorrow morning we’ll gather the rest of the materials and get you all packed. You two have helped me out quite a bit, even if one of you has only been here for a day.”

“Thank you,” Marissa said. She still sounded tense. Mahlua wondered if the ruckus earlier had spooked her that badly, or if she was just nervous by nature.

“Ease up. I’m sure you’ll do fine. And even if it doesn’t—you can go back as many times as you need to. It took even me three visits,” Savannah said. She clapped a hand on Marissa’s shoulder.

Mahlua’s ear twitched in disbelief.

“Now, both of you probably need a good night’s rest. If you need anything in the night, just give me a holler,” Savannah said. She turned and disappeared into the back room.

Marissa stood and steadied herself. “I guess I’ll be off to bed, then,” she said. She gave a small nod before heading up the stairs.

Mahlua sat and contemplated. She could go to sleep, but with all that happened in that day, she needed a moment to process. After a few minutes, the witch got up and headed to her own room, where at the very least the stars would keep her thoughts company. A few questions fuddled her mind, but she would save those for tomorrow, before she left on the journey. Surely there would be time.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on July 01, 2018, 11:03:15 PM
Hm. Just for fun, I started reading so.e of the longer speeches out loud. Got a bit hard to not trip up during some of them. People just don't tend to say that much in one breath, so think about breaking it up with small actiond. It doesn't have to be much, but sometimes you reach a point and it's like "are they really still talking? Take a breath already."


Also, right at the end there. I'm pretty sure "starts" should be "stars".
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 01, 2018, 11:10:57 PM
You're totally right with the typo. And probably about all the dialogue. I guess I fell into that trap of thinking like a scriptwriter again. It's easy for me as someone who has acted out and written my own scripts to feel where the pauses and tension go, but when writing prose, I have to remind myself that those things need to be made explicit. I caught myself towards the tail end (lol) of it in this one and started breaking it up with action, but it felt super forced for me to do it. I'm not sure if that adjustment helped or highlighted the problem. I'm sure it would've been worse if all of Savannah's speech there had been in one paragraph.

Welp, first too much introspection, then too much jabbering...maybe by the end of this damn fic I'll figure out where the balance is lmao.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Froneezy on July 03, 2018, 12:22:18 AM
After giving this another quick read, I'm convinced that Salem is gonna be extremely relevant throughout the rest of this level.

I'm also convinced that girls with glasses who are naturally shy like Marissa is another weakness of mine...

Gotta love a chick with glasses, man...

Looking forward to the next installment!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 03, 2018, 01:36:08 AM
If there are still questions for Salem's relevance after the level is over, I will be happy to answer them. For now, I'm not doing so well mentally so I've been trying to work through that before picking up the next chapter. Might be a few days before any more activity. Or maybe not. Depression is a fickle mistress.
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 15)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 19, 2018, 04:31:59 AM
Haha, there is finally a productive spurt! Chapter 15 is almost 2,000 words, but here it is. Looks like there should only be about one or two more chapters left for this level. Enjoy, leave comments, feedback, smart remarks, and all that.

Also, while I was working, I had this mix (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jiwuQ6UHMQg) playing in the background. Lol, I bothered to make an iTunes playlist, and I still listen to other mixes.


Chapter 15

You're welcome for not making you have to scroll forever through the thread again.

The sunlight that filtered through Mahlua’s window still clung to the darkness of pre-morning blue when Savannah came to wake her. Still groggy from late-night anticipation, the raider dressed herself and gathered her things. She hadn’t been able to carry her weapons on her person while working, but with the adventuring ahead, she figured they’d come in handy. As she exited the room, Savannah made no comment about them.

At the bottom of the stairs, Marissa sat with two bags at her sides. She rubbed an eye under her glasses and yawned.

“Now that you’re both awake, let’s get you some food together. Last thing we need is a tarp in case you need to camp out and the weather turns foul,” Savannah said. She passed Marissa and led the way to the back room at the bar. “We have plenty of apples and peanuts, some cheese and jerky, and probably enough carrots and celery to last you.” She grabbed two drawstring bags from the wall and handed one to each guest. “You should only be travelling for a couple of days, and they’ll have food at the shrine for your trip back. Have at it.”

Mahlua went for the jerky and apples first, and between her and Marissa, a good portion of the cheese was taken.

“Ah, I see you, too, are a woman of taste,” Mahlua winked.

Marissa gave a confused look before continuing to pack her bag. Mahlua sighed and examined carrots and celery for the trip. It was a shame they didn’t have ranch dressing to go…

---

With the food properly packed and thrown over their shoulders, Mahlua and Marissa followed Savannah along the dirt roads to a cozy little house on the outer edge of the village, backed by fields of crops. Savannah knocked on the door, and after some bustling inside, Angus poked his head tiredly out from the crack in the door.

“You sure are a mornin’ bird,” he yawned. “Suppose you’re here about the tarp we discussed for the shrine-goers?”

“Yup,” Savannah nodded.

Angus hefted his large body through the door and stepped onto the porch. “It’s in the shed out back. Come with me,” he said, then awkwardly shuffled past the group down the porch stairs. “Might smell a bit,” he said over his shoulder. “I use it to keep the crops dry when the barn roof springs a leak. Big enough for a tent, though.”

“Thank you,” Mahlua said.

“Naw,” Angus said with a dismissive wave and a laugh. “You’ll only be gone a few days, so it won’t be a problem.” He fiddled in his pocket for a jingling set of keys. When he finally fished out the one he was looking for, the group had reached the padlocked door to the shed. He opened it and ducked inside.

Farm equipment sat in neat racks and along shelves build into the walls. From one of the shelves, he drew out a large roll of a dark brown tarp. “It’s a little heavy, so you might wanna take turns carrying it on the way,” he said, passing it to Mahlua.

It definitely had weight to it, but Mahlua managed to fit it over her shoulders without too much effort.

Angus turned his attention to thin rope in coils around a nail. “This should help you pitch it up,” he said, taking it down and handing it to Marissa, who bit her lip and gave a shy nod.

“Y’all have a safe trip out there. We look forward to having you back,” Angus said with a smile.

Before Mahlua could thank him again, Savannah spoke up.

“By the way, any word on Salem this mornin’?” she asked.

Angus sighed and rubbed the back of his neck. “I didn’t get up too long ago, so I haven’t heard yet. Max sure was losing his mind yesterday, though. I’ll keep an eye out for her, but you know she might’ve—”

“We’ll give her a couple of days before we start thinking like that,” Savannah interrupted. “Besides, with these two going to the shrine, if that’s the case, they might run into her.”

Angus let out a slow breath through his nose and shrugged his shoulders.

After that, Savannah led the two adventurers back to the main road. The morning dew started to dry on the grass, and the outline of the nearby forest became more clear. They stopped by the big tree in the center of the village.

“Best way to get to the shrine from here is to follow along the road that passes through here towards the mountain,” Savannah said, gesturing to the path opposite of the way Mahlua had entered the world. “Weather’s been fair, so shouldn’t be too bad. If it rains too hard, sometimes the rocks like to tumble a bit, so be on the lookout.”

Mahlua and Marissa nodded.

“You’ll see signs for the shrine probably on your second day of travelling. They’ll guide you right,” Savannah continued. She leaned against the tree and crossed her legs. “That should be about it. Any questions before you go?”

Mahlua shrugged, but Marissa made a small noise.

“Um..?”

One of Savannah’s ears twitched. “Yes?”

“Salem…should we be on the lookout for her? You said something about it,” Marissa asked, keeping her eyes on the ground.

Savannah’s shoulders slumped. “I dunno. The girl’s been a mess since she got here, and probably before that. Some of us have been worried for a while that she might go back to the shrine.”

Marissa’s eyes widened, and she looked up. “You think she might…cut ties?” A tremble in her voice gave away her concern.

“I don’t know if she’d go that far. She knows her brother would be devastated. But, I also don’t know if even she knows what she’s going to do,” Savannah replied.

Mahlua looked between the two and made a mental note to ask later what any of the conversation meant.

“But, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you do run into her, tell her to get her tail back here. If you don’t see her, we’ll deal with it,” Savannah said, uncrossing her legs and then crossing them the other way. “Now go on. Y’all have a long day ahead of you.”

Marissa stood still for a moment, as if she were going to say something else, but then relaxed and turned to Mahlua. “Yeah,” she said, to no one in particular. Mahlua swore she could almost see sweat on her brow.

---

The sun had risen almost to its zenith by the time the two adventurers decided to stop for their lunch break. As expected, Marissa didn’t talk much during the trek. It started to drive Mahlua a little out of her mind.

Mahlua took a bite from one of the apples and pondered how to make small talk, but to her surprise, Marissa spoke up.

“So…you’re not from here, are you?” she asked, nibbling on her cheese.

“What gives it away?” Mahlua asked, leaning back against a tree.

“Your weapons,” Marissa pointed out, “They’re forged with fine detail, foreign, even, and yet, you had to work for money here.”

Mahlua chomped on the apple again. “I suppose you have a point there. Even where I’m from, this is considered something of a ‘foreign’ weapon,” she said, giving her khopesh a firm pat.

“Do you fight a lot?” Marissa asked. She still didn’t exactly meet the raider’s eyes, but she seemed more relaxed and comfortable.

“Sometimes there are…” Mahlua paused to figure out how to explain spam ninjas. “…These creatures that try to mess with the order of things. They’re not necessarily dangerous, except in large numbers, but I’m something of a protector of the two big cities I call home. One of those cities is the one with the portal that brought me here.”

“Is it scary?” Marissa asked, tucking her legs closer to herself.

“Not really. I mean, a little, sometimes. There are scarier things than those creatures that I’ve been against, but I’m still here.”

“Like what?”

Mahlua finished off the apple and kept the pit in her bag. “Well, let’s see. There have been zombies, giant monsters, an organization of people who wanted to exterminate anyone who didn’t think like them…a few others, too,” she explained.

Marissa sat wide-eyed for a moment, letting it sink in. Then, with the faintest tremble, she started to laugh. “I think I like my world a lot better,” she said.

“Can’t say that I blame you,” Mahlua said, gnawing away at a slice of jerky. “I like it here too. People seem more connected and aware. Like, you listen to yourselves a lot more.”

“That’s right,” Marissa said, “Kemonomimi aren’t common where you’re from.”

“Almost non-existent, I think,” Mahlua agreed.

“I wonder if you’ll be able to have a parent at all, then,” Marissa said, resting her hands on her knees.

“I’ve bent the laws of reality before. Don’t see why it’d be any different here.”

Marissa actually looked the raider in the face with that.

“Well, I am a witch, after all, although I think what that means in my world is a little different than what it means here,” Mahlua explained.

“I heard,” Marissa said. She gave a small half smile. “It still sounds kind of silly, though.”

“Believe me, it doesn’t get less silly by living it,” Mahlua said. It was her turn to laugh. After all, it was true, when she thought about it—the whole witch thing, and the entirety of her universe—it was all at least a little silly.

She noticed that Marissa was making a face, so she quieted down.

“You wanna get on the road now?” Mahlua asked.

Marissa started to gather her things and stand up. “Yeah…it’s just…”

“Hm?” Mahlua prodded, gathering her own things.

“When you laugh, somehow, you still sound sad.”

Mahlua gulped. “Well, I suppose my life has been more of a tragedy than a comedy,” she said, turning her eyes to the horizon.

---

The trek wore down on the duo, and by the time the sun started to dip below the horizon, Mahlua at the very least was exhausted. The two decided to set up camp a little ways off the path. With the rope and tarp Angus let them borrow, the two eventually figured out a way to pitch a tent using a couple of fallen tree limbs for support. It did smell a little like old barn, but the scent welcomed them in for the night.

After a small meal, Mahlua’s mind returned to the odd conversation between Savannah and Marissa that morning. She turned to her companion, who had already taken off her glasses for the night, and whispered.

“Hey.”

Marissa stirred. “Yes?”

“This morning, you said something about ‘cutting ties’. What exactly does that mean?”

A pained look crossed Marissa’s face as she sat up.

“Sometimes,” she explained, “People don’t want to connect to their animal parent. Salem’s being a black cat, I can understand, but…it’s supposed to be incredibly painful, and you lose your ears and parent forever.”

Mahlua felt a pang of guilt. “Maybe I shouldn’t have asked,” she said.

“No,” Marissa said quickly. “I mean, it’s certainly taboo to do, but it’s not like people don’t talk about it. They say people who go through with it are never the same.”

“I take it they become hermits or something?”

“Yeah,” Marissa nodded.

An uncomfortable silence fell, and Marissa rolled over to her side. “We can worry about all that tomorrow. Besides, we still haven’t met our parents yet.”

Mahlua lied back on the tarp, but sleep eluded her for a long time. That thing about Salem’s eyes haunted her. It made sense. It was loneliness, after all.
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 16)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 19, 2018, 09:58:46 AM
Oh boy, not even noon here and I've done TWO chapters? What a day this is!
I wrote this chapter to this mix (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmgpOKi2P3k) this time, and I think it really affected the mood of the work. It added something more somber than I was expecting.

This one is also a little longer than the last one, but, ah, well, at least it looks like level three only needs one more chapter. Enjoy, guys.


Chapter 16


Putting more random text here so the spoiler box doesn't take massive hand-eye coordination to click~

Morning mist shrouded the path when Mahlua and Marissa woke up the next morning, so they took their time taking down the tent and eating a nice breakfast. The chill in the air finally began to fade around mid-morning, and by that time in their hike, the forest path slowly turned uphill and more into rock. It was there that they found the first simple sign, carved in wood. “Shrine to the Animal Parents” it read, with an arrow pointing up the mountain path. The two shared a look and continued in the direction the sign pointed.

The type of trees began to change, and the altitude caused the air to become lighter as the hike droned on. The environment felt unmistakably clean, and Mahlua found herself grounded with every step. Of course her mind began to wonder if the path formed some sort of meditative sigil, or if perhaps the land itself were sacred, or if the mountain contained massive quantities of valuable ores, such as hematite. Hematite would ground someone like this.

The sound of her companion stopping for breath pulled the witch from her thoughts. “You okay?” Mahlua asked, turning to face her.

Marissa smiled and adjusted her glasses. “Yeah. It’s just, today’s hike seems a lot more harsh than yesterday.”

“You want me to carry anything for you?” Mahlua offered.

Marissa waved a dismissive hand. “No. I’ll be all right. We may just have to take a few more short breaks than yesterday.”

Mahlua nodded.

---

Come mid-day, the two passed another sign directing them to the shrine. A small stream gurgled near the path, allowing them to refill their waterskins. They took their lunch by it, but anticipation clung to the crisp mountain air and stifled any hopes of conversation. Little twitches of movement gave away Marissa’s restlessness. Mahlua had to admit, after the comment yesterday about her sad laughter, a heavy feeling draped over her.

They started on their way again, almost without discussion. With the shrine so close, Mahlua started to think more about the kemonomimi, and the possibilities of animals that would step forward for her. She had a couple of ideas from the gods and goddesses she served, but, knowing her luck, she might wind up with a black cat as well. More than one of her deities had a feline aspect, after all. Before she could fixate on the idea, she got a creeping feeling that it wouldn’t do well to worry about it, and that meditation should wait for whatever ritual lie ahead. Instead she turned her attention back to Marissa.

“Still hanging in there?” she asked.

Marissa blinked in surprise before giving a sure nod.

“Cool,” Mahlua said. “I think we’re getting close.”

“What makes you say that?” Marissa asked, keeping an eye on her feet as she stepped over a few uncertain-looking rocks.

“I have a bit of a knack for sensing the divine. It’s tickling the edge of my senses, so my guess is that we’ll be there by nightfall.”

“Are you sure that isn’t just the pent-up excitement?”

Mahlua gave her companion a sly smirk. “Who says the two are mutually exclusive?”

Marissa returned the look with a confused one of her own, but continued on the path, going on ahead. Mahlua, meanwhile, drew a small slice of jerky from her bag and made a small prayer for wisdom and snacked on it as she walked.

---

The water’s gurgling crescendoed to a dull roar as the warm saturated colors of day turned their way to the deep oranges and stark blues of dusk. Another sign met them at a fork in the road, stating shrine to the left, and nothing noted for the right. Sure enough, just up the hill, an Asian style temple clung to the side of the mountain. Beside it, a water wheel made its slow, arching laps around its axel, feeding on the river that no doubt led to or drew from a waterfall nearby.

“We made it,” Marissa said with a happy sigh.

“Yeah, let’s get you in. You’ve gotta be exhausted,” Mahlua said.

Wooden planks eased the trail more into stairs, making the last bit of hike easier for the two travelers to ascend. Along the final stretch, Mahlua noticed small animals carved into the bark of trees, and ornaments of animal figures hanging from the branches. She reached out her hand, but looming intuition whispered to her to not touch what isn’t hers, so she turned her attention back to the path. Once they finally reached the deck, a sliding door opened.

“Welcome,” a woman’s voice called. “I’ve been expecting you two.”

Mahlua stepped forward to see who had spoken. She knelt on the floor and wore the attire of a traditional Japanese shrine maiden. Her fox ears faded into her silver hair, and her tail curled elegantly at her side. Marissa also stepped forward.

“For tonight, the two of you shall rest. Tomorrow, we will prepare for the ritual. Please, bathe yourselves well and let your travels be cleared from your mind,” the priestess said.

The hair on Mahlua’s arms raised. Marissa gasped, and Mahlua looked down. Surely enough, the old hieroglyphs glowed as the priestess spoke and began to fade when she stopped.

“So there is the breath of the divine here,” Mahlua muttered to herself.

The kitsunemimi raised her head, revealing her white eyes. “Yes, lightning child. As you know, the divine is in everything. No matter how far you are from home, it will find you.”

Mahlua took a shaky step back. “How did you—?”

“It’s how you look to me. Soft lightning circles you,” the priestess said. “Now, a new priestess in training will guide you to your rooms. Please leave your belongings there. Once you are settled, she will take you to the nearby hot spring.” A knowing smile etched into her face.

From around the corner, another woman emerged, wearing the same shrine maiden attire, with familiar black hair, ears, and tail. Marissa gasped.

“Salem!” Mahlua said in shock.

Salem looked up, then looked to the side when she realized. She must have expected the duo to come later. The kitsunemimi priestess chuckled.

---

The initial shock finally died down by the time the travelling duo were shown to their rooms. During the walk to, Salem said nothing. It wasn’t until Mahlua’s and Marissa’s belongings were safely put away that she actually spoke at all.

“Come with me,” she said.

Salem led the two back down the stairs to the fork in the road and down the unmarked path, which led to the hot spring on the right.

“So,” Mahlua said, trying to pull her into conversation, “You’ve decided to help out at the shrine?”

Salem’s tail flicked from side to side in agitation. “It’s better this way,” she said simply. Now, there are baskets to hold your clothes while you bathe and fresh towels. When you’re finished, I will lead you back.”

“If you have to wait for us anyway, why don’t you join us?” Mahlua asked. As the words fell out of her mouth, she realized the probability of a ritual taboo and cringed at herself. Salem gave her a blank stare for a few moments, and then shrugged.

“I suppose,” she said, rolling her eyes.

The trio stepped inside the bathhouse with Salem in the lead. She began pulling away her traditional garb, and Mahlua followed. Marissa shuffled awkwardly and tugged at the bottom of her sweater.

“If you’d like, the two of us can go on in ahead and you can wrap yourself in a towel,” Salem pointed out. Marissa bit her lip and nodded.

As Salem peeled away the rest of her garb, Mahlua couldn’t help but notice deep bruises on her back, sides, and thighs. In fact, Mahlua got tangled in her shirt due to the distraction. She did figure out how to get her clothes into the basket, but what she saw shook her. The steam from the spring helped relax her tense muscles as she stepped through the door. She tried not to make a big deal of the knot in her stomach, though.

Salem turned to face her. “I assume my brother was throwing a fit by the time you two left the village?” The nekomimi already sat in the water up to her shoulders, leaning against the wall of the spring.

Mahlua slid in, grateful for the heat of the water. “Yeah. Looks like Savannah and Angus were worried too.”

“They worry about everything,” Salem said, leaning her head back.

“Well, not giving a heads up certainly doesn’t help that,” Mahlua said. She shook her head. “Did you think they’d stop you?”

“Probably. They don’t get it. Money, status, domesticity, none of that stuff really matters to me.”

The door slid, revealing Marissa, wrapped in a towel.

“I know Max will throw a tantrum over it, maybe even run up here to try to join me, but can I trust you two to bring the news back to the village?” Salem asked.

Mahlua pressed her lips into a flat line. She had no way of knowing if she’d make it back to the village. Next to her, Marissa slid into the water, flinching at first.

“I’ll tell them,” Marissa said.

Salem leaned further into the water for a few moments before she resurfaced. “Good. That should stop them from worrying too much.” She looked between the two visitors, and her face looked tired again. “You two worry too much, too.”

Marissa’s eyebrows touched. “Maybe so, but it’s not a crime to have concern for others.”

“And it’s not a crime to have concern for yourself, either,” Salem countered.

The knot returned to Mahlua’s stomach. She hated to ask, but she forced the words out of her mouth. “Just what were they doing to you?”

The blankness on Salem’s face pierced more painfully than any real answer would have. Mahlua could feel Marissa tense next to her. It seemed like the heaviness in the air would never subside, until Salem turned her gaze away.

“Nothing that has to bother anyone anymore,” she said.

Mahlua moved on instinct. She hardly realized she had moved until her senses returned to her, and she could feel the soft body trembling in her arms. Behind her, Marissa made a small gasp. No words would come, so Mahlua let her arms talk. They served as a barrier, keeping the past out. They served as a weapon, slicing through the lingering pain at the core.

Despite the faint tremor to her limbs, Salem gave a small “Ha,” and rested her hands on the arms that held her. “I told you you worry too much.”

---

The rest of the bath went by without event. Mahlua let go when Salem stopped trembling, the air lightened, they cleaned themselves, and got dressed again. The group followed the now dark path back to the shrine, and Marissa returned to her room immediately. Mahlua, however, stayed on the deck, gazing at the stars. Salem stood nearby.

“You know,” Salem said. Mahlua turned, surprised at how close the priestess in training became. The cat girl rested her head on Mahlua’s shoulder. “My offer from before…I think I’ll leave it open for you.”

Air caught in Mahlua’s throat. She coughed, accidentally shaking Salem off her. Before she could say anything, Salem gave a sly smile and padded away in near-silence.

Still dazed and confused, Mahlua returned to her room and stared at the ceiling. Shuffling in the next room caught her attention. One door opened and closed, and then hers slid, revealing Marissa, who stood biting her lip and looking concerned.

“Why did you…do that, at the bath?” Marissa asked, sitting at the foot of Mahlua’s bed.

Mahlua sighed. They had a big day tomorrow, and now the girl wanted to get talkative. She supposed the sudden snaps of tension could do that to a person.

“I don’t know, really. I just knew she was hurt, and it hurt me. I wanted it to stop,” Mahlua said.

“You do it to me, too,” Marissa said, shaking her head.

Mahlua propped herself up on an elbow. “What do you mean?”

“You don’t ask the normal questions. You just…do things, it seems like. You don’t ask people to talk, but what you do hits deep. You include people who usually get overlooked. You take up their problems, too, but you don’t think twice. How?” Framed by the starlight behind her, it was clear that Marissa was shaking.

Mahlua let out another sigh and flipped the corner of her bedsheet over and patted it, inviting the girl to join her. “Whatever it is,” Mahlua said, “It’s probably the same thing that makes my laugh sound sad.”

Marissa hesitated, but slid past the door and closed it before curling up in the spot Mahlua made for her. “I wish I could be that brave,” Marissa murmured.

Mahlua patted her head. “Is it bravery, or foolishness?”
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on July 19, 2018, 10:19:59 PM
I'm sorry, but all I can think of is how disgusting ranch would be after sitting in a warm pack for half a day's hike.

Nice to see things moving along, and a bit more naturally too. Although to be honest, there's a recurring trend where you come across as a bit...I don't know. Talk down upon-ey? Especially after getting up to the shrine, it feels like you're trying to beat the reader over the head with the "magic is in everything" angle. I understand it's a theme, but you're being maybe a little too blunt with it. Too much telling, not enough showing.

It's a trend, but not like, a deal breaking one. Maybe experiment with conveying the same idea without using the word "divine". It's probably the most heavily recurring, and stands out after a while.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 20, 2018, 06:18:10 AM
Yeah, that would be the issue.

Huh, thanks for the heads up. I guess as someone who lives it I'm kinda used to it being so...everywhere, I guess, that I don't quite see how different it is for others to read it. I'll keep that in mind for future dialogue and descriptions so it doesn't try to take over the fic. I'm quite not sure what you mean by talk-down-upon-y, but I assume that will also go away if I stop sounding so...textbook-y maybe?
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on July 20, 2018, 07:50:30 AM
That's probably a way out of it, yeah. Try thinking about it from the point of view of someone who knows absolutely nothing about it. Not in the sense of "I know nothing so I must learn", but in the sense of "I know nothing so I must marvel".

It might not be the best way to put that, but it seems like a more natural way for the usual reader to encounter something magical.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 20, 2018, 08:44:12 AM
Good thing you caught this now as opposed to later when I start working on the fourth level, which is a little heavier on the supernatural element. I guess I was afraid if I just "showed" it, it might seem a little random to those who aren't familiar with the experiences, so I felt a weird need to explain it. Maybe with these chapters having been so heavy, I can drop that explanation later, since there's a precedent. From what I understand, normal people don't seem to like having magic explained to that degree, is that about right?

If all goes well, we can expect a chapter 17 out today or sometime this weekend.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on July 21, 2018, 10:37:43 AM
I'm fairly confident that your average person's understanding of magic begins and ends with Harry Potter (or whatever piece of pop culture you choose).

Real world magical ideas are ****ing dense. I've looked at it a bit, but that definitely puts me in the minority. If you asked most people, I think you'd get a response about "crystals and candles or some shit right?" Because they saw a local news piece about Wicca or something. They don't have a frame of reference, so you have to start at the beginning, and spoon feed from there until you get to the ideas you want.

Or if you want to skip ahead, then explain concepts in metaphor as they become appropriate. Of course, don't overrun people either. Even if an idea is boiled down, you can ruin the effect by tossing in too many different ideas all at once. Like any good power, you can't give away the whole shtick in the first fight. So to speak.

Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 21, 2018, 10:56:22 AM
I think I'll stick to the latter form. Having been surrounded by sort of the deeper magical concepts for so long, it's bizarre for me to try to think of the basics as anything but a given. It'd be like going to a foreign country and trying to explain my American mannerisms. "You mean you don't do this?" lol.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on July 22, 2018, 09:50:10 AM
That is honestly the best metaphor you could have come up with I think.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 22, 2018, 10:22:38 AM
Good. That solidifies the point that I should stick to metaphors. :D

Hopefully I'll get chapter 17 out tonight. Just gotta get in the zone.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on July 29, 2018, 10:09:38 PM
Hmm....I ended up having an extremely vivid dream about the last chapter of this level last night. Half expected it to be up when I logged in today. Honestly that'd maybe be too much of a coincidence for my poor brain to handle.


dream deets/spoilers if it turns out I'm psychic (if anyone on the planet actually cares)
Long story short: Mahlua comes out a bit chimera-d, a whole bunch of people show up from the village (I was one of them? But also not? Maybe just along for the ride in someone else's body) Drama goes down. Something about not letting contrasting parts of yourself conflict with each other. Very special episode ends along with dream.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on July 29, 2018, 11:36:55 PM
Hilariously...
While the main reason I'm so behind is due to depression(tm), another reason has been that while I have it written in my plan how Mahlua is supposed to turn out, I've been thinking a lot about whether or not it's the "right" choice--which is kind of silly considering that it's my piece and there can really not be a "wrong" choice about a fictionalized aspect of myself. You seem to have picked up on my personal conflicted-ness, and not necessarily that of the story itself.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on July 30, 2018, 10:05:59 PM
Well it's not like that hasn't creeped in before.

That's beauty of story telling though. You don't have to make the choice at all if you really don't want to. Lots of ways to have something happen without ever showing it directly.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on August 15, 2018, 09:32:01 PM
Thoughts on Chp.14

Spoiler
1. Savannah left her to sweeping the main lobby of the inn that morning while she went shopping in town. Mahlua took to the task despite her arms’ protest, still tired from the previous night’s work. By the time she made it to the bar area with the broom, the soreness felt less painful—gods bless endorphins.
- Didn't expect Mahlua to be the type to be patient enough to do menial labour. Is it due to her dedication to her task or is she just that humble?

2. “You know, if you ever need a break,” Salem said as she hoisted herself to the bar, tail flicking playfully, “I could help mellow you out.”
- Start smexy music?

3- Salem rolled her eyes. “Oh well. It was worth a shot, I guess. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so direct…” she trailed off, the tip of her tail still flicking from side to side.
- No start smex music. *Sad face*

4-“Yup,” Mahlua said, walking around the bar to put the broom away. As she passed, she noticed that somehow Salem had either gone back to sleep or the tumble hadn’t woken her up at all.
- Too kawaii for words.

5. “Did she try to put the moves on you, too?” Savannah asked as she turned to inspect produce on another shelf.
“She offered to give me a break from work, if that’s what you mean,” Mahlua said.
- No that's not what she meant dammit. Or at least I hope so.

6. “How do you feel about some tomato sandwiches for lunch?”
- I prefer tomatosauce sandwiches personally, but to each their own.

7. “But, Savannah!”
Ignoring him, she kept walking and waved on her way out. “We’ll get it sorted out. Don’t worry about it.”
- Haha, Savannah looks like she has to deal with so much ish that she doesn't care. So aloof. Melike.

8. “And I guess I’ll just have a bottle of cider. None of that crazy alcohol stuff, though,” Max added.
- I'll have you know, ciders are alcoholic too (At least as far as I know).

9. Night had started creeping across the horizon when Savannah finally returned.
- Funny, I never see night mentioned as 'creeping in'

10. Mahlua sat and contemplated. She could go to sleep, but with all that happened in that day, she needed a moment to process. After a few minutes, the witch got up and headed to her own room, where at the very least the stars would keep her thoughts company. A few questions fuddled her mind, but she would save those for tomorrow, before she left on the journey. Surely there would be time.

- Everyone thinks that there is time, but there never is, not really, because everyone spends time thinking they have time for so long that the time runs out and - *cough*
Good chapter!



Thoughts on Chp.15
Spoiler
1. “Now that you’re both awake, let’s get you some food together. Last thing we need is a tarp in case you need to camp out and the weather turns foul,” Savannah said. She passed Marissa and led the way to the back room at the bar. “We have plenty of apples and peanuts, some cheese and jerky, and probably enough carrots and celery to last you.” She grabbed two drawstring bags from the wall and handed one to each guest. “You should only be travelling for a couple of days, and they’ll have food at the shrine for your trip back. Have at it.”
- Always loved travelling snacks in stories. Jerky, cheese and bread, and open air and campfires and rolling hills and everything else in between. Good stuff.

2. It definitely had weight to it, but Mahlua managed to fit it over her shoulders without too much effort.
- Random question, but can Mahlua lift? As in are her physical abilities as impressive as her magic?

3. “Salem…should we be on the lookout for her? You said something about it,” Marissa asked, keeping her eyes on the ground.
Savannah’s shoulders slumped. “I dunno. The girl’s been a mess since she got here, and probably before that. Some of us have been worried for a while that she might go back to the shrine.”
- Dun dun duunnn.

4. “But, I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you do run into her, tell her to get her tail back here. If you don’t see her, we’ll deal with it,”
- Her 'sweet, sweet' tail you mean.

5. “That’s right,” Marissa said, “Kemonomimi aren’t common where you’re from.”
- Unfortunately.

6. Mahlua gulped. “Well, I suppose my life has been more of a tragedy than a comedy,” she said, turning her eyes to the horizon.
- Oh nooes

7. Mahlua lied back on the tarp, but sleep eluded her for a long time. That thing about Salem’s eyes haunted her. It made sense. It was loneliness, after all.
- Hmmm

Thought: I feel like this and Chap 14 could be one in the end, since not a lot happened, but perhaps all the questions and whatnot shall be answered in the next installment. Solid writing as always.


Thoughts on Chp.16
Spoiler
1. The type of trees began to change, and the altitude caused the air to become lighter as the hike droned on. The environment felt unmistakably clean, and Mahlua found herself grounded with every step. Of course her mind began to wonder if the path formed some sort of meditative sigil, or if perhaps the land itself were sacred, or if the mountain contained massive quantities of valuable ores, such as hematite. Hematite would ground someone like this.
- Googled hematite. Stuff can look really nice. Also descriptions of hikes make me think of hikes and I sort of miss mountain air. I need to get out more.

2.“Are you sure that isn’t just the pent-up excitement?”
Mahlua gave her companion a sly smirk. “Who says the two are mutually exclusive?”
-Indeed

3. Mahlua stepped forward to see who had spoken. She knelt on the floor and wore the attire of a traditional Japanese shrine maiden. Her fox ears faded into her silver hair, and her tail curled elegantly at her side. Marissa also stepped forward.
- I'm nekomimi for life but after Spice and Wolf I'm not immune to kawaii fox girls. They are so... Foxy.

4. “For tonight, the two of you shall rest. Tomorrow, we will prepare for the ritual. Please, bathe yourselves well and let your travels be cleared from your mind,” the priestess said.
- ... Do I see the word... Bathe? *Nose tingles*

5. “It’s how you look to me. Soft lightning circles you,” the priestess said. “Now, a new priestess in training will guide you to your rooms. Please leave your belongings there. Once you are settled, she will take you to the nearby hot spring.”
- *Breathing intensifies*

6. “If you have to wait for us anyway, why don’t you join us?” Mahlua asked. As the words fell out of her mouth, she realized the probability of a ritual taboo and cringed at herself. Salem gave her a blank stare for a few moments, and then shrugged.

“I suppose,” she said, rolling her eyes.
- *Heavy breathing*

7. Salem leaned further into the water for a few moments before she resurfaced. “Good. That should stop them from worrying too much.” She looked between the two visitors, and her face looked tired again. “You two worry too much, too.”
- Salem chaaaaaaan. Mellorinneeeee

8. The rest of the bath went by without event.
- I don't believe you!! *nosebleed*
- Also touching moment there.

9. Mahlua patted her head. “Is it bravery, or foolishness?”
- The important questions

Thoughts on Chp.17

1. Why haven't you written it yet?

General Thoughts

Spoiler
I definitely skimmed more than I should have, though I read every word I couldn't really settle and read, but I do like the build up and slow exploration. Especially love the whole hiking thing. I just felt like things went in circles sometimes. Mahlua is perhaps thoughtful and melanchony, but nothing is truly happening to her - she's not risking or losing anything. Which is pretty close to how real life is - there's not always a grand explosion or life and death situation here and there - but I just kept on thinking 'I love seeing the chillness, but could something huge happen?'

Chap 16 was my favourite on that bit though, and I'm quite impressed at how you can make ecchi situations quite tasteful and wholesome. Serious props on your wordcount (How many have you written by now?). Here's to another bout of inspiration such that you finish the entire story in one fell swoop muhuhahahaha.


Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on October 30, 2018, 10:24:36 PM
Yeah, the writing has been quite slow as of late, and I'm sorry that school and life and depression(tm) totally punch me in the gut and elsewhere, but I assure you, once I finish some editing work and that diddly-darn cosplay show script of mine, Reset will be coming back full force. I just haven't exactly planned the ending, but I am at least two steps (entire levels) ahead in the game. I'm sure once I sit myself down and write, write, write, that it will come to an end eventually. Who knows? Maybe I'll start working on it in the car and on breaks at work and pull a huge whopping wordcount out of my ass. Right now I think it's something close to 30k.
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 17, FINALLY.)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on November 21, 2018, 09:34:14 PM
Hey, look, I still exist. Sorry for all the delays, and if this chapter is a little rough. I'm picking up the pen again, slowly but surely. I have a lot on my plate lately between therapy, working full time, and another writing project or two. I feel like maybe this chapter is a little shorter than I'd want it to be, but I've kept you guys waiting long enough, and there is enough of a transition happening for it to work. Without further ado...

Chapter 17
Enjoy the small burst of my activity while it lasts, lol.
Dreams are an odd thing to deal with, especially for a witch. Sometimes they can show slivers of the future of what could and might be, and, other times, they simply replay the mundane expectations of life. Being in a holy place, Mahlua expected something more like the former, what with the upcoming ritual, but instead, midway through a bizarre turmoil of dream substance, a path opened to her, vibrating with anticipation. She heard her name and felt the longing of her presence, so she followed it.

The MR Fighter’s Division gym began to come into focus around her. Feelings of awe and pride swelled until clarity snapped her to full, lucid attention. She couldn’t “see,” exactly. At least, not in the normal sense. Rather, she sensed the movement and energies in the room, and “heard” the most intentionally “loud” thoughts and statements made by those around her.

“You sure know how to make an entrance,” Fro teased.

By the time Mahlua figured out that the new class had in some sense “graduated” and received new uniforms, her limbs felt heavy and her senses dulled. She bade a quick goodbye after Fro’s extravagant speech and followed the dream trail back to her body. It was time to wake up.

---

It took a few minutes for Mahlua to stretch into wakefulness. A heavy yawn probed her senses back into the physical world. Warm early-afternoon colors filtered light into the small temple guest room. So they let me sleep in…

The door shuffled to the side with a gentle push, and Mahlua stepped out onto the path connecting the lodgings to the main temple area. Crisp mountain air warmed up under the touch of a bright sun and carried with it the fresh smell of leaves. In the distance, the water wheel kept perfect time as it clattered.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” A voice murmured beside the witch.

Mahlua jumped. Salem giggled at her handiwork.

“Marissa has already gone on ahead, and the ritual can take a long time,” Salem explained, “So you’ll be free to explore this forest’s bounty at your leisure at least until evening.”

Mahlua raised an eyebrow. “Was that an innuendo?”

A coy smile played on Salem’s lips. “I mean, if you want it to be,” she drawled, swishing her tail.

A lazy silence fell as Mahlua droned in an inner monologue. When she returned to the present, she leaned on the railing and turned to Salem.

“Where I come from, it’s common for priests and priestesses to take vows of celibacy to remain pure and clean, which often enhances the power of their rituals. Looks like that’s not the case for you?” Mahlua probed.

This time, Salem let out a hearty laugh. “People from where you’re from are silly. Don’t they realize that sexuality is more important for people than for other creatures?”

Mahlua rubbed the back of her neck. “Actually, they consider it more animalistic. Unclean, even. I think it’s stupid, too, but that’s the taboo.”

“Your people must not have children often, then,” Salem mused.

“It’s kind of the opposite. Because it’s taboo, society is simultaneously obsessed with it and repulsed by it. Sort of,” Mahlua shook her head. She was at a loss for words to explain. “It’s…really weird.”

Salem’s face scrunched up in indifferent confusion. “Sounds like it. I guess that explains why you worry so much.”

It was Mahlua’s turn to look confused. “How do you connect those dots?”

“Easy. You said priestesses tend to be celibate?”

Mahlua gave a blank look.

“Oh please. You’re so repressed, it’s painful to watch. Do you think holding back physical affection will make you stronger?”

Salem’s words cut deep. Mahlua’s gaze found the ground. An uneasy silence heaped on the pressure for her to respond. It felt like ages before words came into focus enough for use.

“It’s more a matter of guilt. The taboo makes most people uncomfortable with exploring sex openly,” Mahlua said.

“See what I mean? You worry too much,” Salem said. She punctuated her statement with a soft laugh. “You put other people’s possible discomfort over making your point.”

Mahlua’s eyebrows knitted together, and she turned to face the priestess again. “If that’s the case…what’s your point?”

Salem leaned in, almost touching nose to nose with the witch. “Would you like to know?”

A searing blush dyed Mahlua’s ears and nose crimson, but she felt a surge of need to prove that she wouldn’t be gotten the better of here. Her voice was more of a whisper than she expected. “I guess.”

Salem turned her head to the side and brought a hand to Mahlua’s shirt collar, pulling her close. Mahlua’s heart squirmed. Against her lips, Salem breathed, “I’m really looking forward to the outcome of your ceremony.” Her breath smelled like fruit.

---

Green tea and a tangled mess of arms wrapped around bodies kept the evening chill away. It had taken a while for Mahlua’s muscles to finally relax into the playful touch of the nekomimi priestess-in-training. In the grand scheme of things, she supposed her current condition was rather anticlimactic. As she inhaled the sweet scent that clung to Salem’s robes, she dismissed the thought. Anticlimatic or not, cuddles were a pleasant luxury she’d almost forgotten.

“It makes sense, now, why so few outsiders make it through to here,” Salem murmured into Mahlua’s hair.

“How so?”

Salem shifted, drawing her face away from the crux of Mahlua’s neck to meet eyes with her. “The whole idea of ‘ecchi’ for you guys is based on restraint, right? For us, restraint isn’t exactly a virtue. For some of the levels, ours especially, acceptance is the key.” Salem’s eyes drifted to the window. The fireflies were starting to come out. “I think you guys expect the rules that ‘ecchi’ has for itself align with your idea of it.”

Mahlua’s head tilted to the side. “Just how much do you guys know about the other levels, anyway? It seems like you’re supposed to be self-contained universes, and yet, you’re aware of the other levels and even their purposes. Isn’t that breaking the fourth wall?”

A small chuckle gave heat to the space between the two sets of lips. Salem’s eyes returned to Mahlua’s as her tail flicked mischievously. “You could say we’re like different functions of the same initial program. It’s not as meta as you think.”

Mahlua groaned. “Now I’m even more confused.”

“Don’t worry about it.” Salem curled her fingers into the shaved part of Mahlua’s hair. “There’s a reason the Twins set this up to be so convoluted.” She punctuated her statement with a dry, chaste kiss. The kiss dulled Mahlua’s mind away from the esoteric questions that fluttered through it and drew her to the material present. Her breathing deepened, and she let out a sigh as Salem pulled away.

Another voice jolted the duo out of their languid comfort.

“Ah, there you are. I see you two found something to do,” the High Priestess said, lips curling into a coy smile. “The time has come for an announcement.”

Salem sat upright, causing Mahlua to awkwardly stumble into her chest. “You mean she went through?”

The High Priestess’s smile turned warm as she stepped aside, extending her hand as if the gesture answered the question. From the doorway, Marissa stepped forward with a grey hood drawn over her face. Under the cloak, a distinct tail hung behind her legs. Salem leaned forward with interest, her ears flattening and rotating back. Mahlua, meanwhile, finally untangled herself from the cuddly mess and adjusted her glasses.

Marissa’s hand drew back the hood with care, a pink blush painting her cheeks and the tip of her nose as she smiled. As the hood fell, it revealed two large, circular ears.

“Child of the mouse, tell us the name your parent has given you,” the High Priestess called.

“My new name is Feta,” she replied.

“Welcome home, Feta,” the two priestesses said in unison.

Figuring it was some part of the ritual, Mahlua nodded and added, “Welcome home, Feta.” That answered the question of where the stereotypical names came from, at least.

“Thank you, everyone,” Feta said. Her gentle smile radiated with pride.

“If you aren’t completely worn out by Salem’s antics, you can also begin your rites this evening, Lightning Child,” the High Priestess said, folding her arms into her sleeves.

“It’s not—we didn’t—” Mahlua stumbled, shaking her head with a furious blush.

Albeit with a laugh, Salem came to her rescue. “Don’t tease the poor outsider. Apparently, in her world, sex is something of a taboo.”

“Oh? How strange…” The High Priestess turned to Mahlua and appeared to reevaluate her. “In either case, when you feel you are ready, join me by the water wheel. There are lanterns by the entrance.”
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 18)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on November 22, 2018, 04:01:16 PM
Well, I work tomorrow, so don't expect this to go back to daily uploads. But, I had a lot of fun writing this one. There's a lot of self reflection that went on behind this chapter, and maybe some of my depression seeped into some of the scenes. Also yay for vague descriptors. I apologize in advance if some of the scenes are...difficult. I'm still surprised that I even wrote one of them, but...well...FOR LEWDNESS.

I've definitely spent more time in level three than I'd like, but with this, it looks like one more chapter will push me to level four. Finally. Gods. We're almost halfway through, and the word count is 30,607.


Reset Chapter 18
In which animals can talk.
Night had fallen, casting indigo shadows to obscure the dirt path and animal charms that hung, swaying in the chilled night breeze. The water wheel clattered at its trance-like pace, churning a thin mist that made either bank of the mountain river fuzzy. Amidst the foggy glow, a lantern shone by the door of a smaller building surrounded by stone pillars, which had a quartz vein running through them, showing their relation. Under the guiding lantern, the High Priestess stood, arms still folded into her robes. She nodded and ducked inside as Mahlua approached. Mahlua hesitated at the door and pressed her lips together, and then stepped inside.

The interior was more bare than Mahlua expected. No windows, just a few thick pillar candles hanging from the corners for light, or perhaps for ritual. Inside, the droning from the water wheel subsided. In the middle of the room, there was a small pit in the floor for a fire. The High Priestess stood at the wall to the right and gestured for Mahlua to do the same on the opposite side. As the raider did so, the High Priestess pulled a few items out of a pouch at her side and began to light incense with the candles of the four corners. When she came back to her place, she sat.

“Generally speaking,” the High Priestess began, “this ritual, when successful, lasts a few hours. Sometimes the full process takes days, although that is rare.”

Mahlua slid against the wall and sat, absorbing the information and preparing to ground, as per her witch’s instinct.

“There is also the likelihood of failure. Some people have a difficult time reconciling their animal parent possibilities with the future they envisioned for themselves. You may be surprised at which animal spirits approach you, and what they have to say. There may be many, or maybe your parent will be the first and only,” the High Priestess continued. She gave pause, as if anticipating a question.

“Am I right to assume that at the time I was born, a parent had already stepped forward, and that this process is to unite me to them?” Mahlua asked, drawing upon her knowledge of parent deities.

The High Priestess smiled. “Yes. And if others approach, it is because they have some meaning to your life, whether or not you understand why at first. Remember, every animal has its place, and none are insignificant.”

Another pause drifted through the room as the High Priestess began working among the fire pit. The incense started to dull Mahlua’s senses, and the constant beat of the distant water wheel began to feel like the pulse of the world getting stronger with each beat.

“It seems you are already familiar with how to meditate, so I’ll be brief. This ground buzzes with the energy necessary for the primal and human natures to blend and reconnect us to our animal parents. The object of the ritual is to have your own instincts sharpen. That is why so many fail.” The High Priestess closed her eyes and leaned back, then lolled her head from side to side. “The raw emotion of those instincts may prove too much. My job is to calm you if that happens, and remove you, if necessary.”

“So it’s all me,” Mahlua said. Her voice sounded far away, like she was talking through water.

“It’s starting now. Close your eyes and let come what will.”

Mahlua hardly needed the command. Her eyelids felt heavy.

---

It was like sleeping at first, until suddenly a terrible scream ripped through her vocal cords. All around her, nothing but bones. Each one, she felt with every fiber of her being, belonged to someone she once loved or called friend. In that moment, what was left of her heart felt like it shattered and scattered to the wind. Even though her throat was raw, she raised her head to the dangerous grey sky and shrieked again. Grief overwhelmed her, and she tumbled to the ground. She curled into fetal position with another scream threatening to break free of its prison in her lungs. A scratchy voice at her shoulder soothed her.

“Much loss, yes. So much loss.”

Confused, Mahlua turned slightly, trying her best to avoid landing her eyes on any of the bleached-white relics of the past. On her shoulder sat a massive raven, pruning its wings.

“You fight. You die. You survive,” it said, turning its black gaze to the girl. It cocked its head to the side. “Friends die. Hope die. Strength there, yes. You survive.”

“I don’t understand,” Mahlua said, trembling as she sat up. The raven fluttered its wings for balance as she moved.

“Much loss, yes. So much loss. But, still live,” it said. “No hope. Still live. Strength there, yes.”

“Are you saying…I’ve lost hope?” Mahlua asked.

The raven bobbed up and down. “Many time. Many time hope die.” It spread its massive wings. “But, still live, still live. Still live, still fight.”

Mahlua struggled to swallow against the dryness in her throat. “I’m still alive, huh?”

The raven bobbed up and down again, then hopped around Mahlua’s shoulder to face away from her. “Hope die, hope die, but, still live. Strength there. See strength. Live more,” it said, and then abruptly leapt into the sky and flew away, casting its shadow over the field of remains.

Bones turned to dust and swirled upward into a whirlwind, reforming matter into sand. The dust devil thundered and swallowed the unsuspecting raider whole. Mahlua braced herself, covering her eyes. After a few moments of nothing, she peeked past her arm. Before her sprawled a vast plain, and though lingering pangs of grief stung in her heart, her shoulders untensed.

“All this is yours,” a voice growled behind her.

Mahlua turned to find a lioness prowling a hill of giant wind-worn rocks. The beast moved with majestic grace, her powerful muscles rising and falling to her own rhythm. She turned her piercing amber eyes on Mahlua and leapt. Mahlua flinched and took a step back, but the lioness landed a couple of feet in front of her.

“Don’t fear. You have the makings of a great king,” the lioness said, her voice still a low rumble. She lowered herself to the ground and crossed her massive paws.

Mahlua blinked in disbelief. “A king?”

“Not yet, else I would be your mother,” the lioness said. Her tail flicked against the sand. “But, the makings, yes. Let go of fear. Let your anger be righteous. Let your self-loathing burn away with pride.”

Before Mahlua could ask how, tears welled up and spilled from her eyes. She touched her face, confused.

The lioness rested her head on her paws. “It is a lonely place, to be king. No matter how much support you receive, your strength must be your own.” She explained no further, but kept her eyes locked on the girl.

Sorrow tore through the beaten and bloody remains of Mahlua’s heart with force that knocked her to her knees. She couldn’t comprehend the depths of this agony, and the ground seemed to swallow her tears as quickly as they dripped. “H-how can someone this broken ever be king?” she asked. Her voice surprised her. She had only meant to think.

“Erase self-doubt. Turn misery into your ally. Turn it into your righteous anger,” the lioness said. With that, she rose and padded towards the girl. For a moment, Mahlua feared the great beast would have her for dinner. Worse still, the lioness sauntered past her with an expression of indifference.

Mahlua pounded a fist into the dirt. The sobs that caused her to tremble changed in nature. She ground her teeth and her eyebrows knitted together, contorting her face. Her hand shot to where she normally kept her khopesh, but only found air. Seething, she felt her throat brace for pain. Was it that she felt betrayed as the lioness walked away? Or was it that she felt that her self-hatred was a betrayal of herself? She couldn’t tell. In either case, that rage consolidated and erupted as a full cry of fury that emptied the raider’s lungs. The lack of oxygen left her dizzy, and she toppled the rest of the way to the ground, gasping.

It was impossible to tell how long she lied there. Breathing never got easier with her raw throat. The sound of padded paws on the ground caught her attention. She tried to sit up, but found her body heavier than usual. To her surprise, it was not the lioness that met eyes with her. Instead, a pale pink tongue wiped away a dried tear at her chin.

The dog sat and panted, smiling at her with big brown eyes. Mahlua blinked a few times, and then lifted a hand to rest on the dogs head. Its tail wagged furiously. Just watching it, Mahlua felt some strength return. “So, you got something to say, too?” Mahlua asked.

The dog nuzzled closer. “Friend.” His voice was so liminal, neither young nor old, and yet, both at once. “Care,” he added. “Loyal. Here for you.”

Mahlua scratched at his ears. He rolled over in ecstasy, tongue rolling off to the side. Mahlua couldn’t help but smile and indulge him, rubbing his exposed belly.

“Friends. Feel better,” he said.

“Yeah, I guess friends do make things easier.” Mahlua murmured. Her voice burned to use. She found the spot to make his leg thump madly in the air. He squirmed with glee.

“Love friends. Here for you. Forever,” the dog said, rolling back over and shaking his fur free from the dirt.

A smile still painted Mahlua’s lips, even with the dull ache resonating in her chest. “I guess that goes for me, too. For my friends,” she said.

“Yes. Much good,” the dog said, running in a small circle and then sitting again. “Go now. But here forever.”

His words continued to hang in the air as the world shifted and reformed again, this time into the deep greens of a thick jungle. Mahlua sat back against a mossy tree and waited. Fear tickled the back of her mind, but she couldn’t place why. Minutes passed, and the feeling continued to resurface. Mahlua got the distinct feeling of being watched. She waited a minute more before breaking the silence.

“Come on out,” she said.

A low growl rumbled in the bushes next to her, and from their depths emerged a great striped beast, flashing with orange and white fur. The tiger took languid steps and kept its fierce golden eyes on the girl. Behind the fear, something else tugged Mahlua’s senses. Something familiar. As their eyes locked, a deep connection forged, like a bridge suddenly sprung up between them. Heat swelled through Mahlua’s body. She wondered if this was the beginning of the parental connection.

“Not quite,” the tiger said, responding to her thoughts.

“Then what?” Mahlua asked, trying to save her voice.

The tiger paced the width of the path. “You’re getting closer,” it said. “We have much in common. There’s a fire in you.”

The mysterious, familiar feeling started to take shape. Mahlua recognized it, all right. Its warmth prodded her, caressed her from the inside out.

“Still,” the tiger said, with a hint of sadness in its voice, “You fight me.”

“Who are you?” Mahlua said, then she bit her lip. “Who is the me in you?” she corrected.

As if to answer her question, the heat in her body rose to an almost painful degree. She gasped, and a faint tremble took her limbs. The tiger lowered its head and stepped forward, almost coming face to face with her.

“You could tame me, if you weren’t so scared,” it said. “But, you don’t want to be.”

The tremble turned to a shake as Mahlua lifted her hand. It felt like the tiger would bite it clean off, and yet, when she raised it high enough, instead the tiger rested its cheek against her. Under its soft fur, a low purr vibrated the flesh. Thinking became difficult.

“Have you found your answer for who we are?” the tiger asked, almost in a whisper.

Mahlua nodded, and, despite her lingering trembles, rested her forehead against the great beast’s. Its purr crescendoed. To her surprise, a wall of energy rattled her. She didn’t know what she expected, but it wasn’t that. A gasp pried her jaw open, and left no room to contain the strangled moan that escaped with it. Shame colored the edges of her vision gone white.

“Even now, you fight. Relax, and let it be.”

Still recovering from the first wave, Mahlua was slapped with another, and then another. She couldn’t explain where it was coming from, and that made her pull away. The tiger had other plans, and padded even closer, pinning her to the tree. Mahlua’s vision blurred, and the tiger changed form into a beautiful woman. Her golden eyes still held the ferocity, and her long orange hair held just as many black stripes as the tiger had on its back. Her ears rotated back and her tail flicked in annoyance. She took Mahlua’s wrists in her lithe, tough hands. Mahlua couldn’t help but notice the sharp, black, talon-like nails that threatened her skin. The woman pressed her weight down, which was just the same as the fully grown tiger. Finally, Mahlua realized they were one in the same creature.

“Submit,” the woman growled. Engraved in the ridges of her scrunched nose and eyebrows, Mahlua could see the beast within, and she knew this was the embodiment of a tiger-child, its archetypal, primal, original form.

Heat rose again, and this time overtook Mahlua’s senses entirely. She arched back and let out another sharp cry. Her lungs and throat protested, but Mahlua barely noticed them as the world dissolved.

It seemed like an eternity that she was held in that state. The weight of her body tugged and then grounded her. Her chest rose and fall, and each breath cleared a meager fraction of the cotton that clouded her thoughts. She licked her lips and groaned. When she could finally crack open one eye, Mahlua found herself bathed in a white light. She shook her head and willed her body to move. Without the tigress’s mighty weight to stop her, she sat up. In her lap, a small creature flinched and made a little puff of a hiss sound.

Mahlua’s heart swelled. Puzzle pieces fell into place. With great precision and care, Mahlua rested one hand on the creature’s prickly back. It curled into a tight ball, and Mahlua brought her other hand to catch it before it rolled down her legs. She held the tight little ball until it poked its eyes and snout out from its protective quills.

“Hey,” Mahlua smiled. Her voice really hurt, but seeing the hedgehog start to unfurl eased her pains.

“It’s about time,” it said with another flinch and a huff.

“Sorry,” Mahlua said. “It looks like everybody had a lot to say.”

“Yeah, well,” the hedgehog said, poking its front legs out, and then wobbling as it freed its hind legs from its armor. “You actually made it, so it’s whatever.”

Mahlua turned her hands and let the hedgehog crawl along her hand. It turned its snout to her, then stuck its tongue out for a long yawn, rustling its quills in the process.

“I’m tired. Let’s go to sleep,” it said.

“I can certainly agree with that,” Mahlua said, stifling a yawn of her own.

---

Many times, the High Priestess considered stepping in. Screaming wasn’t unusual for those undergoing the rite, and she herself had done so a few times. This outsider, though…there were so many emotions overwhelming her from the inside. But, just as soon as the screaming started, it stopped. Grief. Agony. Rage. Sorrow. Passion. She couldn’t help but wonder which animals possessed the poor child. They met plenty of resistance along the way, regardless.

The fire’s ember’s warmth began to fade, and the High Priestess considered starting another. A thud from across the room caught her attention. The sounds of heavy breathing reached her fox ears, and she smiled. Another presence joined the outsider. It was small, and hard to place at first. Both it and the girl dozed on the floor.

The High Priestess smiled and rose from her place to procure a robe for the trip back to the main temple. She let the girl rest as she did so. The night had been hard for her. Still, it would be better to get her back to the temple to sleep in a real bed.

---

Mahlua roused into wakefulness as a hand gave her shoulder a shake. As she sat up and rubbed her eyes, something felt off about her body.

“Congratulations. Quite a rare parent indeed,” the High Priestess said. “In fact, you’re the first harinezumimi I’ve overseen.”

“Harinezumimi?” Mahlua asked, cocking her head to the side. The word was too foreign, even for her weeaboo ears.

“Hedgehog Child,” the High Priestess clarified, “From harinezumi—needle mouse.”

Mahlua wanted to reply, but yawned instead.

The High Priestess chuckled, holding up the cloak in her lap. “Let’s get you back. We can welcome you in the morning. I’m sure the others are asleep by now.”

Mahlua gave a sheepish smile and nodded.

Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on November 26, 2018, 04:21:28 AM
Review for Chap 17

Spoiler
1. Mahlua expected something more like the former, what with the upcoming ritual, but instead, midway through a bizarre turmoil of dream substance, a path opened to her, vibrating with anticipation
-I mean, I know its a dream but I wasn't sure what was being shown here. Was she just seeing colour and glowy stuff or any actual imagery?

2. The MR Fighter’s Division gym began to come into focus around her. Feelings of awe and pride swelled until clarity snapped her to full, lucid attention. She couldn’t “see,” exactly. At least, not in the normal sense.
- Oh, nevermind about 1.

3. “You sure know how to make an entrance,” Fro teased.
- I don't think any Raider has ever just walked into a room normally. It's law.

4. She bade a quick goodbye after Fro’s extravagant speech and followed the dream trail back to her body. It was time to wake up.
- Wait she was in dream form and Fro could see her? Is she that coopereal? Also who graduated. Also speech or it never happened! jj. Just curious how it was, but it's not necessary to the story.

5. It took a few minutes for Mahlua to stretch into wakefulness. A heavy yawn probed her senses back into the physical world. Warm early-afternoon colors filtered light into the small temple guest room. So they let me sleep in…
- Not sure if forum's fault but thoughts are usually italicized to seperate from normal text. Something you obviously know but yeh let me be a douchey critic muhuhahaha.

6. Crisp mountain air warmed up under the touch of a bright sun and carried with it the fresh smell of leaves. In the distance, the water wheel kept perfect time as it clattered.
- Idyllic scene is idyllic.

7. “So you’ll be free to explore this forest’s bounty at your leisure at least until evening.”
Mahlua raised an eyebrow. “Was that an innuendo?”
- I didn't see the innuendo but now i do.

8. A coy smile played on Salem’s lips. “I mean, if you want it to be,” she drawled, swishing her tail.
- Now I do even more.

9. Salem turned her head to the side and brought a hand to Mahlua’s shirt collar, pulling her close. Mahlua’s heart squirmed. Against her lips, Salem breathed, “I’m really looking forward to the outcome of your ceremony.” Her breath smelled like fruit.
- Jeez Mahlua there are children here! What if they're reading! *Sees that scene ends here. Is not happy. Is depressed* You know what fine! It's not like I wanted to see a lewd scene or anything!

10.  Anticlimatic or not, cuddles were a pleasant luxury she’d almost forgotten.
- Ah, it was cuddling.

11. Salem shifted, drawing her face away from the crux of Mahlua’s neck to meet eyes with her. “The whole idea of ‘ecchi’ for you guys is based on restraint, right? For us, restraint isn’t exactly a virtue. For some of the levels, ours especially, acceptance is the key.” Salem’s eyes drifted to the window. The fireflies were starting to come out. “I think you guys expect the rules that ‘ecchi’ has for itself align with your idea of it.”
- I mean, spot on with the taboo nature of sex all and all but I think ecchi from at least I, rubixmaestro's perspective is a bit more nuanced than that. As a fully nude bod becomes more anatomical than ecchi and a ruffled shirt makes one's nose bleed, it's all about the play between full on in-your-face stuff and the imagination evocation of true ecchi. It really can get animalistic i.e just-for-the-sake-of-the-biology and of no interest at all to the true conniseur. Without taboo to be broken the Priestesses would be as bored as any conservative opinion on the matter.

12. “Oh? How strange…” The High Priestess turned to Mahlua and appeared to reevaluate her. “In either case, when you feel you are ready, join me by the water wheel. There are lanterns by the entrance.”
- Since your haitus and all I thought you'd have a problem with the output of your chapter but writing is still pretty good, and it made an easy read. It felt actually more streamlined than before and I can divide the scenes up easily in my head (Intro - dream, Middle -discussion with Salem, End - lead up to Mahlua's ritual) so solid chapter here.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on November 26, 2018, 01:10:38 PM
to answer your questions 1-4
Go read Fro's story Return of the Drifter. He kind of dragged me into it and canonized Reset, so in turn, Reset has to canonize Return of the Drifter.

Oh, and by the way, "So, they let my sleep in" does show up as italicized when I view the chapter under the spoiler.
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 19)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on November 29, 2018, 01:36:52 PM
Aha! Finally. It's been a little over a week since the last chapter, but I seem to be back on the ball now, sort of. If all goes really, really well, I'd like to also start chapter 20 today, and if a miracle happens, we might have that tonight as well. But again, we're talking miracles at that point. :angel:

Chapter 19
And slowly we see plot progressing
And "plot" progressing
The next morning, the sound of voices outside her door tickled Mahlua’s senses into wakefulness. She felt an ear twitch and jolted upright. Her hand flew to the area of the twitch to confirm the odd feeling and met with short, fluffy fur. Over the course of the night, she must have grown the new hedgehog-y appendages. A long stretch alerted her to the short tail that completed the set. Outside, the High Priestess’s voice came clear.

“All right, Salem, all right. Since you’re so eager, I’ll check if she’s awake.”

“Thanks, Juniper,” Salem’s voice replied. There was a hint of flirtation in her tone.

A gentle knock tapped on the door to the guest room, followed by the High Priestess rolling the door to the side. Mahlua flinched and felt the shaved part of her hair prickle upward.

“Good morning,” the High Priestess nodded. She smiled with a motherly warmth. “It looks like you’ve already started to take after your parent.”

Confused, Mahlua got up for another stretch. “Uh, thanks?”

“Juniper,” Salem whined, drawing out the name.

The High Priestess chuckled. “Yes, yes. We’ll be out in a moment,” she called back, and then, where only she and Mahlua could hear, she whispered “That girl can be so impatient.”

“Did you tell her the result, or is she impatient for other reasons?” Mahlua asked.

“I did not. It is for you to do. Please put on the robe so you can introduce yourself,” the High Priestess gestured to the folded cloth beside the bed. Mahlua nodded and obeyed.

Once Mahlua donned the hood, the High Priestess led her into the main living area where Salem and Feta were waiting. “Oh, and there is tea. I’m sure you will appreciate it,” the High Priestess added before she moved the door. Once she mentioned it, Mahlua’s throat did feel dry and raw.

Like she saw Feta do before her, Mahlua lowered her hood after she stepped into the room. “Child of the hedgehog,” the High Priestess said, folding her arms into her robes, “Tell us the name your parent has given you.”

A whisper warmed the air by one of Mahlua’s large ears. She smiled at its familiar small, nasal tone.

“My new name is Spike,” Mahlua replied.

“Welcome home, Spike,” everyone said. A glint sparkled in Salem’s eye as she stood up. Mahlua braced herself for the inevitable pounce. Sure enough, Salem rushed her and threw her arms around her, knocking her to the ground.

“You’re so cute! I’ve never seen a harinezumimi before,” Salem purred, nuzzling her head into Mahlua’s chest.

“At some point, we’re going to have to teach you some manners, Salem” the High Priestess chuckled.

---

By midday, preparations were under way for Feta to return to the village and for Mahlua to continue her journey. Feta agreed to carry news of Salem’s new position to the town, while Mahlua would travel up the mountain even further to find the way to the next level. Since Mahlua would be leaving the plane soon, she needed fewer supplies, and therefore could leave sooner.

Mahlua adjusted the straps on her hip harness for her weapon sheathes and backpack. As she turned around, Salem caught her arm.

“I hope we get to see each other again,” Salem said. “I’ll get you for sure, then.”

A hot chill skittered sweat down Mahlua’s back. “You’re really set on that, aren’t you?” she asked. Her face softened. “I’m not sure if we will, but, then again, I’ve not been sure of much of anything since I stepped inside this crazy tower. At this point, I don’t know if anything would surprise me.” She started to turn, but Salem’s grip turned her back.

Mahlua didn’t have time to process the pair of lips that caught hers. Salem shifted and wrapped her arms around Mahlua’s neck, then pressed in for another, longer kiss. This time, Mahlua didn’t fight. She rested her hands on Salem’s hips and drew them to meet hers. Two kisses rolled into three, and then, just before she pulled away, Salem slithered her tongue between her teeth. Mahlua leaned forward for more, but Salem put up a hand between them.

“If we keep going, I don’t think you’ll be leaving today,” Salem pointed out. Her tail flicked at an agitated pace. Mahlua’s cotton-headed feeling made it both easier and harder to agree.

“Well, whose fault would that be?” the High Priestess interjected.

Mahlua flinched and released Salem’s hips. She still wasn’t used to how her hair prickled when she was surprised.

“When did you get there?” Salem asked.

“Long enough ago,” the High Priestess said with a dismissive wave of the hand. “I knew you’d pull something like this. But, we’ll have plenty of time to deal with your frustrations later. For now, let’s bid our new friend farewell.”

A spark shifted the air. Something about how Salem’s posture changed tipped Mahlua off. She coughed to dismiss the flood of mental images of the two priestesses and whatever power dynamic they probably had.

“Thank you for your hospitality. I’ll be sure to use this new knowledge well,” Mahlua said.

“May it guide you well,” the High Priestess replied. She made a gesture with her hand and Salem joined her at her side.

Mahlua waved, and then turned to head up the path outlined for her. She wished she could have Feta along with her to ask if what she picked up on was normal among kemonomimi priesthoods, or if she had just been imagining things.

---

As the High Priestess had said, the path was not difficult to follow, and as the forest engulfed her, the raider noticed a shift. Day quickly turned to night around her, and lights emerged from the distance. Mahlua hiked closer, and the woods grew thinner. The bright lights were streetlights, it turned out, and the path she followed led to an old bus stop littered with graffiti writers’ names in an array of colors and styles. She took a seat on the old wooden bench to rest, and waited.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on December 01, 2018, 02:12:08 PM
Review for Chap 18

Spoiler
1. Night had fallen, casting indigo shadows to obscure the dirt path and animal charms that hung, swaying in the chilled night breeze. The water wheel clattered at its trance-like pace, churning a thin mist that made either bank of the mountain river fuzzy. Amidst the foggy glow, a lantern shone by the door of a smaller building surrounded by stone pillars, which had a quartz vein running through them, showing their relation. Under the guiding lantern, the High Priestess stood, arms still folded into her robes. She nodded and ducked inside as Mahlua approached. Mahlua hesitated at the door and pressed her lips together, and then stepped inside.

- Nice descriptions. Nice opening scene.

2. The High Priestess smiled. “Yes. And if others approach, it is because they have some meaning to your life, whether or not you understand why at first. Remember, every animal has its place, and none are insignificant.”
. Mysterious like. I wonder what your inspiration for the ritual is.

3. “It’s starting now. Close your eyes and let come what will.”
- Begin power up training. I like seeing such scenes in manga especcially. My favourite ones are from Bleach.

4. It was like sleeping at first, until suddenly a terrible scream ripped through her vocal cords. All around her, nothing but bones.
-Yikes

5.“Not yet, else I would be your mother,” the lioness said. Her tail flicked against the sand. “But, the makings, yes. Let go of fear. Let your anger be righteous. Let your self-loathing burn away with pride.”
- Cool lines. Cinematic

6.“Harinezumimi?” Mahlua asked, cocking her head to the side. The word was too foreign, even for her weeaboo ears.
- rolls off the tongue somehow. Unique animal for sure.

- Good chapter here. Love the descriptions. Solid writing and great emotional weight. Good stuff! And dat wordcount just keeps on getting larger and larger. Coolbeans.


Review for Chapter 19
Spoiler
1.  Over the course of the night, she must have grown the new hedgehog-y appendages.
- Mahlua got a kawaii upgrade I see.

2. “My new name is Spike,” Mahlua replied.
- Cool name

3. “At some point, we’re going to have to teach you some manners, Salem” the High Priestess chuckled.
- Nein. Let nekomimi be nekomimi and harenezumimi be harenezumimi (im pretty sure i mispelt that)

4. “I hope we get to see each other again,” Salem said. “I’ll get you for sure, then.”
- Drumroll

5. Mahlua didn’t have time to process the pair of lips that caught hers. Salem shifted and wrapped her arms around Mahlua’s neck, then pressed in for another, longer kiss. This time, Mahlua didn’t fight. She rested her hands on Salem’s hips and drew them to meet hers. Two kisses rolled into three, and then, just before she pulled away, Salem slithered her tongue between her teeth. Mahlua leaned forward for more, but Salem put up a hand between them.
- *wolf whistles*

6. “Long enough ago,” the High Priestess said with a dismissive wave of the hand. “I knew you’d pull something like this. But, we’ll have plenty of time to deal with your frustrations later. For now, let’s bid our new friend farewell.”
- Spoilsport.

7. As the High Priestess had said, the path was not difficult to follow, and as the forest engulfed her, the raider noticed a shift. Day quickly turned to night around her, and lights emerged from the distance. Mahlua hiked closer, and the woods grew thinner. The bright lights were streetlights, it turned out, and the path she followed led to an old bus stop littered with graffiti writers’ names in an array of colors and styles. She took a seat on the old wooden bench to rest, and waited.

- Grafitti makes the world go round
- Dope stuff. Love the transition. I can imagine how cool it'd be in animated feature or so.
- Your output is off the chain. Cool stuff!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on December 01, 2018, 02:16:10 PM
I'm glad you've enjoyed it. And now I just need to get to work on the chapter I've been anticipating for a long time. Someone's been lurking in the shadows reading and not commenting, but according to that person, I need to ramp up the ecchi, and I told them, "just wait...level four is going to be wild, and level five is going to top even that".
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 20)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on December 02, 2018, 11:55:41 PM
Haha! Uploaded just before midnight. Now there has been a post a day for at least the first two days of December. Let's see if I can keep that up.

Chapter 20:
A Whole New World
A bite of cold cut through the bus stop in the night breeze. Mahlua tucked her hands between her legs for warmth as she looked down the road. She wondered if a bus would even come by this late, or if this route was even still active. She’d give it fifteen more minutes, she figured. Not that she knew what she’d do after that fifteen minutes was up. Figure out what to do, probably. To her favor, a few minutes later, headlights lit up around the curve of the woods and a bus hissed into view. It squeaked to a halt at the stop and the doors open.

“Out on a night hike?” the bus driver asked. He was a big man with long, fluffy blonde hair and cool grey eyes. “Looks like it brought somethin outta ya. Might wanna put your defenses back up before you go to the city.”

Mahlua rubbed the back of her neck. “Sorry,” she said, giving the best awkward smile she could muster. “I’m not really from here, so…what do you mean by ‘defenses’?”

The bus driver blinked a few times as he processed the information. He sighed and gestured to the seat behind him. The rest of the bus was empty. Mahlua sat where he pointed and he started up the metal beast again.

“Monsters and humans live together in harmony in the city, but, only because certain laws are in place. It looks like you’re a kemonomimi, which means you just came from that place. Makes sense that you’re not familiar…” He trailed off and popped his neck, shifting his head between his broad shoulders. “Anyway, one of ‘em is to appear as human as possible. There are other ones about magic and hunting, but I don’t think you’ll need those.”

Mahlua shrugged. “I might actually need to know the ones about magic,” she admitted, “But how to I appear more human, exactly?”

“Well,” the bus driver said, keeping one hand on the wheel as he rubbed the back of his neck, “If you’re familiar with magic, you know about visualization. That’s your biggest tool here. Gotta put up a shield. Or, maybe distance yourself from whatever animal you got parts of.”

“Hedgehog,” Mahlua explained.

“Right,” the bus driver said, drawing out the word. From the rearview mirror, Mahlua could see his eyes narrow in apathy. “Regardless, you got about five minutes to get somethin goin. I know a good place to let’cha off. Just be careful who you get caught up with, okay, kiddo? Folks around here is dangerous.”

Five minutes was a pretty short time to figure out an entire new method of magic, even for a seasoned witch. Mahlua closed her eyes and exhaled. She let the world around her fade as she focused on herself and brought her most human attributes to the forefront. Little bumps in the road made things difficult, but after a couple of attempts, Mahlua felt her ears and tail start to recede. She could cross willful shapeshifting off her magic bucket list. In perfect time, too. The city crept up from the horizon, neon lights glittering just past a bridge over the sea.

The bus driver glanced up to the rearview mirror. “There ya go. Now, about magic,” he said, careful with the sharp turn onto the bridge, “Pretty simple stuff. Basically just don’t be obvious. Keep gesture and verbal magic to emergency basis. Oh, and don’t graffiti sigils. Cops hate that.”

That’s oddly specific advice, Mahlua thought to herself. Must be a common problem… She didn’t have time to think on it for too much longer.

“I’m lettin you off at the next stop,” the bus driver said. He eyed the yellow stoplight on the other side of the bridge and slowed down. “Keep going straight for two blocks, then take a right. There’ll be an alleyway with a little sign for a place called the Crow’s Murder. Hop in there. Tell ‘em you’re new in town and that Noel sent’cha. They’ll do ya fair.”

“All right,” Mahlua said, stretching to test her body, now that it was back to normal.

The bus screeched to a stop at another bus station, this one made of metal beams and fiberglass, again littered with graffiti. As she thought, there were a few sigils among the names. “Thank you, sir,” she nodded to the bus driver and hopped down to the sidewalk.

“Humph. Don’t thank me yet,” he said. He tipped his hat and closed the bus doors, then went on his way.

With that ominous statement hanging in the air, Mahlua took to the instructions she’d been given. After the first block, more people appeared to be walking around the city. In a shop window, she caught the time. Quarter till nine. It was a good thing the bus driver called it a little sign, otherwise Mahlua would have missed the entrance to the Crow’s Murder. As she approached the rusty green metal doors, a deep bass reverberated in the alley. Her hand went for the handle, but the door slid open, revealing a hairy, shirtless man with shaggy brown hair and dark circles under his eyes.

“Who’re you?” he asked.

“Oh, um,” Mahlua gulped. “I’m new here. A guy called Noel told me to come here.”

“Noel, huh? Jeez, that guy ain’t doin us any favors for keepin it quiet,” the man growled, kicking at the ground with untied boots. “What’chu got goin on?”

“Huh?” Mahlua asked.

“This ain’t just any place, y’know. It’s kind of a safe haven for non-humans,” he explained. “So, what’chu got goin on?” he repeated.

“Well, I’m a witch, firstly and foremostly,” Mahlua said.

“A witch?” the man groaned, ruffling his bangs. “You ain’t part of no coven are ya?”

“N-no,” Mahlua replied. Her eyebrows knitted together in concern. She couldn’t tell if this guy was angry at her, Noel, or something else. But he was certainly angry about something.

“Good. They’re like gangs around these parts. Big fat nuisance. Anything else I should know about?”

“Well, I’m also a kemonomimi,” she said, “And, uh,” she gestured to the weapons at her hips.

He cocked an eyebrow. “Anything in that backpack?”

“A few magic items, and some camping supplies,” she said.

“All right. As long as it ain’t nothin drug-like or outside food ‘n drink,” he said, stepping aside. He thrust his calloused hand out. “The name’s Darren.”

“They call me Mahlua,” she said, taking his hand. Upon physical contact with him, she felt something shift, and his eyes flashed gold. Startled, she pulled her hand back.

Darren made a face like a soggy, rancid shoe had been shoved under his nose. “Always nosy, you witches. It’s like you guys got to know everything,” he muttered.

“Sorry,” Mahlua said, “I wasn’t even trying to do anything.”

“Might want another layer of shields before goin in then,” Darren said with a shrug. He stepped inside and held the door open for her. From inside, haunting synth music throbbed at an industrial beat. Mahlua got the feeling she was going to like this place.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on December 28, 2018, 12:16:47 PM
Ah, seems I need to catch up. Probably get to it tonight once I'm back in my own place. Looking forward to it!
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on December 29, 2018, 01:15:31 AM
Chapter 17/18:

There's got to be some collective unconsciousness department just for writing birds speaking. Because that is exactly what I imagine a raven would sound like if it spoke English.

Honestly this is probably the best chapter in all of reset so far. Once you were actually in the trance, the magical nature of the thing flowed much more naturally than in previous chapters. Maybe just being able to describe it visually and physically is the puzzle piece that was missing.

I look forward to catching up on the rest, and to finally escape this level. No offense of course.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on December 30, 2018, 12:09:08 AM
Chapter 19/20:

It is like a breath of fresh air to get onto something new. Probably has more to do with the hiatus of course. Grand scheme we really didn't spend all that long there.

And oh my, I'm picking up on the distinct flavor of R+V. A mysterious bus ride into a city of monsters pretending to be humans. That sounds about right.

With the pretext out of the way, please for the love of God give us some good monsters. None of this Monster Musume, "they're mostly just sexy girls", crap. Give us the real shit. No cowards here.


Chapters aside, it's occurring to me that this tower must cater itself to whoever is passing through it. I mean, maybe I'm getting too meta with it, but if the point is to test your ecchi mettle so to speak, it wouldn't make sense for it to be all magic. Makes sense for you, sure, but that's about it as far as the dramatis personae goes. I mean, ecchi isn't innately magical (at least, not in the sense you use the word). And well, the thing would have to come back to Hasith eventually, and the man doesn't have a magical bone in his body. He's about as tech based as it gets. So it only makes sense for it to be a fluid experience.

So yeah, that's my theory on it.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: MahluaandMilk on March 03, 2019, 07:36:08 PM
That's a good theory. I was kinda thinking something like that, yeah. I'm glad that it's starting to make sense. And yes, I was planning for some real monster goodness. They aren't all girls, either.

I think of it as being programmed something like an RPG, in that the choices you make early on are recorded in the data and used to produce aspects of the next levels to make it so immersive that you can risk losing yourself. That would answer that lingering question of what would happen if a passer-through failed: they just kinda get stuck in a false reality.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: Last on March 06, 2019, 11:00:32 PM
Oh my, I hope someone comes by and pulls them out on occasion. Like cleaning out the lint trap.
Title: Ecchiverse: Reset (Chapter 21)
Post by: MahluaandMilk on March 13, 2019, 08:58:26 PM
My, my, it has certainly been a while. And here I have something that might make the wait almost worthwhile. I believe this is now the longest chapter of Reset at nearly 3,400 words. Just what stupid nonsense has Mahlua gotten herself wrapped up in now? Muahahahaha.

Chapter 21
Which I am tempted to subtitle "Mindless Self Indulgence"
Darren had a point about putting up another shield. Just past the music, a huge burst of supernatural energy charged the air. It was clear that the people inside were more than they seemed, and that their defenses were next to nonexistent. Mahlua would also have to be careful of the music; its rhythm might send her into a trance if she didn’t keep an eye on herself.

Dim red and purple lights hung over the bar, while flashy cyan and magenta strobe lights illuminated the dance floor. As Mahlua took a seat on one of the cracked leather barstools and observed the dancers, she noticed more than a few styles she was familiar with.

“Oh, a newbie,” an androgynous voice cooed with delight. The bartender leaned over the counter and flashed a smile as dangerous as their red eyes. “First timers get one shooter on the house for dropping in. Can I get you something, sweetie?”

“Uh,” Mahlua stumbled. She had a difficult time focusing on drinks when the bartender sported nothing but scant PVC and fishnets. “A Starry Night should be fine.”

The bartender snapped elegant fingers and winked. “You got it, fam,” they said. Mahlua couldn’t tell if the way the bartender’s hips turned as they walked was intentional or not. Long black hair swayed behind them, matching their sculpted and pristine fingernails and what little clothing there was. Closer inspection revealed a slight point to their ears, and the longer Mahlua stared, the more she became convinced that the bartender was one of the most shielded people in the room. With good reason, she figured. Even with their defenses, a sickly sweet aura oozed off them.

A sharp clack of glass on wood snapped Mahlua back to the present. “Here you go, sweetheart,” the bartender said.

“Thanks,” Mahlua grumbled, reaching for the small glass. Her fingers brushed against the bartender’s, and her gut suffered a horrible stabbing feeling. With a devilish smile, the bartender drew back.

“Let me know if I can get you anything else tonight,” they said. They dropped their voice to a whisper. It shouldn’t have been audible over the music, but it sounded so close Mahlua could almost feel the breath on her ear. “Anything at all.”

The raider shivered and looked at the glass. She saw every wrinkle of concern etched into her reflection. She was hot under the collar, and she hadn’t even drunk her liquor yet. She remedied that by throwing her head back and letting the blend of two simple alcohols light a fire in her stomach.

It took a few minutes for the witch to adjust to the harsh, throbbing ambience. After the music washed away her initial social anxiety, Mahlua found herself grounded and centered with astounding clarity. She rose from her seat and stretched. If she had any way of knowing that what little cash she carried on her would work in this world, she would have bought another drink, but rather than risk making a fool of herself, she made her way to the dancefloor. The DJ had a perfect groove going, and Mahlua had been starved for a good dance. Moves came naturally in the buildups and drops. Industrial, shuffle, jumpshuffle, jumpstyle, and a little bit of breakdance wreaked brutal havoc on her body, and Mahlua would’ve continued to push, if not for a solid tap on her shoulder. Mahlua turned to face whoever had touched her. The woman behind her waved with a wink and repeated her last dance phrase, and then continued in the style, finishing out the melody of the chorus. As the music lulled into another verse, the woman shouted. “You new?”

“Yeah,” Mahlua hollered.

The woman laughed. “You’re an interesting one. C’mon,” she shouted back, gesturing with her thumb to a side door. “Hard to talk here,” she added.

Mahlua nodded and followed her, despite the challenges the flashing lights and heartbeats of darkness posed. Once outside, her ears rang in the newfound quiet. She blinked a few times to clear the spots burned into her vision. It made it easier to examine the woman who brought her to the side alley.

“The name’s Zal,” she said, fishing in the pocket of her leather jacket. She sported a fashionable maroon overbust corset under the jacket, along with a plaid miniskirt, striped stockings, buckled platform boots, and a simple choker. From her pocket, she pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. With her free hand, she flipped her long blonde bangs out of her face to bring one of the carcinogens to her red painted lips.

As Zal lit her cigarette, Mahlua replied, “Mine’s Mahlua. Nice to meet you.”

Zal released a cloud of smoke from her lungs. “So, Mahlua, who told you about our little club?” Behind the bangs that still hid almost half the woman’s face, the witch could feel her emerald green eyes scrutinizing her.

“When I first showed up to the city, a guy called Noel recommended the place to me,” Mahlua explained, trying hard not to gulp or shiver under the woman’s intense gaze. She reminded herself that she had done nothing wrong…yet. Probably, anyway.

At the mention of the bus driver, Zal’s shoulders relaxed. “Noel, huh?” she said. She took another pensive drag of her cigarette and held the smoke before releasing a much thinner cloud. “I can never tell what that guy’s thinking,” she said, more to herself. Her gaze shifted to the tips of her boots. Ashes crackled and dripped from her ember. “What’s a girl like you doing in a city like this, anyway?”

“I’m not really sure myself,” Mahlua answered. “For the past week or so, I’ve been drifting around from place to place, and that’s landed me here.” As someone once said, honesty is the best policy.

“Not all who wander are lost,” Zal countered, leaning against the wall. “Is there a purpose behind your drifting?”

Mahlua paused for a moment to consider the best explanation. “You could say I’m on a mission to prove something to these two powerful friends of mine. I don’t really know what they want from me, but if I somehow amuse them enough or whatever, they’ve promised a reward I can’t resist.”

“Ah,” Zal drawled. “You must be one of the Ecchi Twins’ contestants.”

“Contestants?” Mahlua prodded.

“Yeah. How are they doing, anyway?” Zal asked.

“What?” Mahlua blinked. She swore that each level of the Tower became stranger and stranger with how they related to the outside world.

“I see. They’re still not the greatest and explaining themselves,” Zal said. She shook her head. “Well, the long and short is that they had far bigger plans for EcchiWorld than they were able to accomplish, so a lot of the smaller ideas got turned into AI and put in the Tower for safe keeping in the hopes that one day they’d be able to unlock their full potential.”

“And do all of the Tower’s inhabitants, on all the levels, just walk around with this knowledge in their everyday life? Or just the ones set up to meet the contestant?” Mahlua asked, blank-faced.

“Pretty much the first,” Zal shrugged.

Mahlua let out a heavy sigh and rested her weight on the wall beside Zal. Zal shifted and extended her box of cigarettes. “You look like you could use one of these,” she said.

“You know what? Why not,” Mahlua said as she took the box. She flipped the lid and discovered two of the remaining cigarettes were flipped tobacco side up. The witch took one of the other cigarettes and held it to her lips. “I think I’ve heard of an old saying, something like ‘One for good luck, two for a good suck’,” Mahlua said, handing the box back over.

“Yeah, ‘and three for a good f*ck’. Same principle. Probably means something a little different to me than it does to you, though,” Zal nodded. She passed over the lighter. As Mahlua grabbed it, her gut once again suffered a stabbing sensation.

Mahlua rolled her eyes to shake the feeling and fortified her shields as she brought the flame to the end of her cigarette. “Let me guess, vampire?” She asked, letting the smoke tickle her lungs. The immediate rush of nicotine altered her brain, albeit not quite enough to knock her off balance. “Damn, these are strong…”

Zal feigned disappointment. “Aww, what gave it away?” she pouted. At Mahlua’s reaction to the smoke, she let out a small chuckle. “Well, when you’re undead, you need a helluva lot more of any drug to actually affect you.”

“Makes sense,” Mahlua said. It probably made the most amount of sense out of everything she had experienced in this level so far.

“That said, you wouldn’t be willing to help me out with that, by any chance?” Zal asked.

The implication caused Mahlua to choke on her next drag, earning a giggle from her new vampire friend.

“Sorry, I’ve been a little lacking on money lately, and normally I’d just buy the blood that’s about to expire or separate from the local hospital, but even that’s getting pricey lately. Well, with my appetites, anyway,” Zal explained. Her smile said she was being playful and joking around. Her green eyes, though—they betrayed the real intensity. “Besides, even if it goes against certain regulations, a good bloodwhore is still the best, most fulfilling experience.”

It was difficult to hide the tremor in her hand as Mahlua took another drag. The nicotine clogged her brain for sure, but even through it, she made the connection between the stab in the gut she experienced mere moments ago and the one earlier from the bartender. It wasn’t just shield breaking. It was pure survival instinct and adrenaline trying to tell her that she was in actual, possibly life-threatening danger.

“Hey, you don’t have to be so afraid. If you say no, that’ll be the end of it. I can’t afford an assault charge on my record, in any case.” Zal’s voice sounded much softer.

“What exactly would I gain out of the exchange?”

Zal’s eyes widened in shock, but then her whole expression became calm and controlled. “You really are a spunky kid. Like I said, I don’t have much in terms of money, but I’m willing to offer up a place to stay tonight. Especially since I have stuff at home to take care of vampire bites and all their possible side effects.”

“Sounds like I don’t really have anything to lose, then,” Mahlua said. A sick thrill shot through her veins. Her survival instincts launched one final coup d’etat, screaming at her to run. They failed the instant Zal approached. Amidst the nicotine high, smell of tobacco, Zal’s iridescent emerald eyes, and Mahlua’s high-key fangbanger status, the vampire didn’t have to put her hands on the crusty wall behind the witch to cage her in, but it certainly heightened the experience.

“You’re a real sweetheart,” Zal cooed, nuzzling her cold nose against Mahlua’s jaw. A blush threatened to creep up, and Mahlua became acutely aware of her racing heartbeat. Zal must have noticed too, because she traced down a neck vein with her lips and followed the pulse to the subclavian artery.

Dull pain became white fire as Zal’s fangs penetrated flesh. Mahlua cried out a ragged sound somewhere between a scream and a moan. Zal leaned in and angled herself, which caused Mahlua to fear that those fangs were about to tear her shoulder off. After the initial bite, though, the pain subsided and the adrenaline and endorphins mixed with the nicotine for a high unlike anything Mahlua had ever experienced. She figured there had to be some sort of vampire endorphins also working on her, but it was only the vague construct of a thought. Words and other such trivialities failed to reach her. It was nothing short of a dream come true for the witch, and so she soaked up the feeling with all she could muster. She stayed that way until a faint tingle from her fingertips registered a chilling thought. Right, blood loss wasn’t actually good for you.

“Hey, uh, Zal,” Mahlua said, voice rough and groggy.

Against her neck, Zal gave an inquisitive hum.

“Fingertips…” Mahlua struggled to enunciate.

The vampire grunted in acknowledgement and pulled away. Zal was breathing heavily, and a thin trail of blood trickled down her smeared lipstick. Her eyes looked both more blank than before, and yet, even more saturated. If Mahlua wasn’t mistaken, there was a blush above her choker and under the thick eyeliner.

“Good thing you knew to look for that,” Zal huffed. She swallowed thickly, and then pushed away from the wall to stand upright. “I completely forgot. Too used to bloodwhores.” Without bothering to wipe the blood from her chin, she brought the last bit of her cigarette to her lips. “You could’ve warned me that you were part witch, you know.” She fished in her pockets and pulled out a small box of square bandages, just the right size for the bite.

Mahlua took the box with a nod of thanks. “Sorry, I didn’t know what would and wouldn’t make a difference.”

Zal gave a half-smile of amusement. “Sorry? Don’t be. Sure some vampires can’t stand it, but I’m what you might call an epicurean connoisseur. I’ve tried blood samples from all sorts of people and monsters alike. Witch blood is generally hard to come by on account of how sacred blood is to them.”

“Fair enough,” Mahlua said. She went to take another drag of her cigarette, but as she tried to stand, the weakness in her knees made her decide against it. “Can you tell what all else is in me, aside from witch?”

“You’re an interesting mutt for sure,” Zal said, then squinted, as if glaring at her own statement. “Pardon, do you prefer the term chimera? ‘Mutt’ is kind of a slur.”

“I’ve never really thought about it. I’ve always just kind of been me. Then again, even witches are rare where I’m from, so most people just call me that.”

“I see.” Zal hummed. “Considering that you mostly tasted like an energy drink, I’m guessing you’re first and foremost and electric elemental. The amount of lymphatic bits and the like leads me to believe there’s also some part of you that is almost wholly animal.”

“Right on both accounts,” Mahlua said. She carefully took one of the bandages and applied it to her neck, making sure to cover the whole bite. Even Zal’s front teeth penetrated skin a bit. “The animal bit must be new. I recently acquired harinezumimi status.” That probably explained the heightened fear response, now that she thought about it. “But what about it tells you about the witch bit?”

“Witch blood doesn’t really make itself known through taste, texture, or other chemical properties. Plain and simple, there’s magic in it. The kind of magic depends on the witch. Basically, if a vampire drinks witch blood, that vampire can perform that witch’s magic for as long as that witch’s blood is in their system,” Zal explained. “That’s most of the reason why witches can’t legally be bloodwhores.”

“So, wait, was this an illegal exchange?” Mahlua asked, eyes wide in horror.

“Not if nobody finds out about it,” Zal said, putting a finger to her lips and giving a little wink.

“And how exactly is no one going to find out about this,” Mahlua asked, aggressively pointing to the obvious bandage on her neck.

“That’s pretty easy. You stay with me until it heals, and I don’t use any of your magic while your blood is in me. Although…” Zal flicked the last of her cigarette away and rested her hands on her hips. “…My boyfriend might be a bit of a wrench in that plan.”

She should have seen it coming, but Mahlua’s heart sank. “Do you live with him?” she asked.

“Yeah. I’ve taken bloodwhores home before, but that’s almost never ended without at least a little fuss. He’s been better about it lately, but I can tell it bothers him.”

“And why’s that?” Mahlua couldn’t stop herself from asking.

“I think he just gets jealous that I take care of them. Then again, he should’ve known better than to get with me if he wants to be possessive. Like I said, epicurean connoisseur here.”

With that, Mahlua’s heart rose back up higher than it was before. She may have only just met Zal, but when she considered the mere possibility that hung on to the end of that statement, it produced all kinds of images in her mind. Mahlua had to remove herself from her thoughts for a moment and recenter, then look at the woman in front of her as if for the first time. Somehow it was even more awe-inspiring now. Long blonde hair, leather jacket, corset—the whole look just screamed her type. And lest she forget the vampire bit.

“You seem a little dazed. You sure I didn’t take too much out of you?” Zal asked, eyebrows knitting together in concern.

“Huh?” Mahlua was predictably thrown by the innuendo her brain made out of the ‘taking a lot out of you’ statement. “Oh, yeah. I’m just a little…amazed, is all. I’ve always been curious what a vampire bite was like, so, yeah. It’s…It’s a lot.”

Zal made a face that screamed I-don’t-believe-that-for-one-second. “Maaaaybe I should go ahead and take you home. You might be having an adverse reaction to the bite.”

“I don’t think there’s anything adverse about this reaction,” Mahlua quipped.

Zal blinked a couple of times, and then facepalmed. “Oh. One of those reactions. How is it that it’s allegedly a 15% of the population thing and yet I always seem to find you people?”

Two and two were starting to make four in Mahlua’s head. “Uh, what do you mean by ‘one of those reactions’?”

The vampire shook her head and started walking down the alley, making a gesture for Mahlua to follow. “Let’s see if I understand how this went. We met on the dancefloor and then went outside. I was skeptical of you, you were a bit confused by me, and conversation led to the bite, and now I’m guessing your mind has taken up residence in the gutter.”

Mahlua had to take long strides to keep up with her. “Well, yeah, but, I mean, my mind is pretty much always in the gutter. Like, this isn’t unusual for me.”

“But was it in the gutter on the dancefloor?”

“Well, no, but I was kind of more focused on dancing and the music at the time.” Mahlua paused. “And give yourself a little credit here. You are attractive. Bite or not, I’d still probably consider some things.”

They turned a corner that led them back to bright city lights and an empty street. How long had she been in the club and then out in the alley, Mahlua wondered. Zal lowered her voice in case of any passersby.

“What has me most stuck on the bite is the sound you made. I understand that many people have a sort of ‘vampire fetish’ and always wonder about what it’d be like to be bitten, but I assure you, even most of them experience nothing but excruciating pain and the general grossness that is like donating blood through a needle,” Zal explained.

“So that’s where the 15% thing you mentioned earlier comes in?” Mahlua deduced.

“Yup. With or without that ‘fetish’, there are some people whose physiology reacts with the natural antibodies we vampires produce when we bite. There’s debate on whether or not vampires developed those antibodies as an evolutionary trait to keep their prey hostage for extended periods of time, but that’s neither here nor there,” Zal continued.

Mahlua opened her mouth to speak, but Zal punctuated her statement with something that shattered the witch’s logical communication functions. “Don’t worry about it. Like I said, I have stuff at home to take care of all possible side effects.”

Mahlua remained silent for the rest of the trip back to Zal’s apartment, although it took some self-restraint to not make some sort of comment about not minding the hostage idea in the slightest.
Title: Re: Ecchiverse: Reset
Post by: rubixmaestro on March 20, 2019, 06:57:50 AM
Ch 20

Spoiler
1. A bite of cold cut through the bus stop in the night breeze. Mahlua tucked her hands between her legs for warmth as she looked down the road. She wondered if a bus would even come by this late, or if this route was even still active.
- Random not important question due to her battle prowess I'm not sure but Mahlua can feel cold?

2. It squeaked to a halt at the stop and the doors open.
- I mean I know what you mean but is sqeak the right word for how busses come to a stop? Squeak always feels like a short noise rather than that 'iiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii' sound that comes from busses. Come to think of it why the hell does that happen? Is it the brakes?

3. “Out on a night hike?” the bus driver asked. He was a big man with long, fluffy blonde hair and cool grey eyes.
- Anime bus driver is anime

4."Right,” the bus driver said, drawing out the word. From the rearview mirror, Mahlua could see his eyes narrow in apathy. “Regardless, you got about five minutes to get somethin goin. I know a good place to let’cha off. Just be careful who you get caught up with, okay, kiddo? Folks around here is dangerous.”
- Nice slang

5. Five minutes was a pretty short time to figure out an entire new method of magic, even for a seasoned witch. Mahlua closed her eyes and exhaled. She let the world around her fade as she focused on herself and brought her most human attributes to the forefront. Little bumps in the road made things difficult, but after a couple of attempts, Mahlua felt her ears and tail start to recede.
- I wonder who taught Mahlua magic. Never really got a backstory for that.

6. The city crept up from the horizon, neon lights glittering just past a bridge over the sea.
- I like this sentence quite a bit. It reminds me of a lot of scenes I've seen in anime where the character comes up upon a city at night while sitting in a car or riding a motorbike. This really captures that in few words.

7. Oh, and don’t graffiti sigils. Cops hate that.”
- But Graffiti is AWESOME

8. “Humph. Don’t thank me yet,” he said. He tipped his hat and closed the bus doors, then went on his way.
- Dun dun DUUUN

9. “A witch?” the man groaned, ruffling his bangs. “You ain’t part of no coven are ya?”
- Haha what would be wrong with being part of a coven?

10. “Good. They’re like gangs around these parts. Big fat nuisance. Anything else I should know about?”
- Ah, now I know.

11. “All right. As long as it ain’t nothin drug-like or outside food ‘n drink,” he said, stepping aside. He thrust his calloused hand out. “The name’s Darren.”
- Eh? No drugs at a party place? Interesting.

12. Darren made a face like a soggy, rancid shoe had been shoved under his nose. “Always nosy, you witches. It’s like you guys got to know everything,” he muttered.
“Sorry,” Mahlua said, “I wasn’t even trying to do anything.”
- Hm, what happened there? She tried to read him by accident and he defended against it?

13.
“Might want another layer of shields before goin in then,” Darren said with a shrug. He stepped inside and held the door open for her. From inside, haunting synth music throbbed at an industrial beat. Mahlua got the feeling she was going to like this place.

- God I haven't listened to industrial in too long


Ch 21
Spoiler
1. Mahlua would also have to be careful of the music; its rhythm might send her into a trance if she didn’t keep an eye on herself.
- Hm, it read weird for some reason? I think it's the word 'might' sounding like present tense in this. I'd add 'have' but sentence might still feel clunky.

2. Dim red and purple lights hung over the bar, while flashy cyan and magenta strobe lights illuminated the dance floor.
- I love such dance floors. I've had the greatest of times in them.

3.  As Mahlua took a seat on one of the cracked leather barstools and observed the dancers, she noticed more than a few styles she was familiar with.
- I still haven't learnt to dance properly to such styles.

4.“Uh,” Mahlua stumbled. She had a difficult time focusing on drinks when the bartender sported nothing but scant PVC and fishnets. “A Starry Night should be fine.”
- Dat outfit

5. Even with their defenses, a sickly sweet aura oozed off them.
- Wait is sickly sweet good or bad?  Makes me think of overripe fruit for some reason.

6. A sharp clack of glass on wood snapped Mahlua back to the present. “Here you go, sweetheart,” the bartender said.
- Like in chapter 20 this is a very nicely descriptive sentence of things that I never quite have the words for but happen. Nice. I'm stealing this.

7. “Thanks,” Mahlua grumbled, reaching for the small glass. Her fingers brushed against the bartender’s, and her gut suffered a horrible stabbing feeling. With a devilish smile, the bartender drew back.
- Haha. Mahlua shy? Or were those the bartenders' defenses.

8. “Let me know if I can get you anything else tonight,” they said. They dropped their voice to a whisper. It shouldn’t have been audible over the music, but it sounded so close Mahlua could almost feel the breath on her ear. “Anything at all.”
* nosebleed

9. The DJ had a perfect groove going, and Mahlua had been starved for a good dance. Moves came naturally in the buildups and drops. Industrial, shuffle, jumpshuffle, jumpstyle, and a little bit of breakdance wreaked brutal havoc on her body, and Mahlua would’ve continued to push, if not for a solid tap on her shoulder.
- I used to think I knew what dancing till you dropped meant until I met the industrial scene. Jesus people bring water bottles because they know they'll get dehydrated. And they don't stop. It's awesome. I'll note down these dance terms for future research.

10. “Yeah,” Mahlua hollered.
- Haha. Welcome to clubs.

11. “The name’s Zal,” she said, fishing in the pocket of her leather jacket. She sported a fashionable maroon overbust corset under the jacket, along with a plaid miniskirt, striped stockings, buckled platform boots, and a simple choker. From her pocket, she pulled out a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. With her free hand, she flipped her long blonde bangs out of her face to bring one of the carcinogens to her red painted lips.
- Okay I like Zal quite a bit. Trifector of sexy: Awesome outfit, long hair bang flip and cigarettes. When I meet people like this I become a puddle.

12. Zal released a cloud of smoke from her lungs. “So, Mahlua, who told you about our little club?”
- This line didn't quite work as well to describe puffing smoke. Also, she seemed to slow down from the 'names Zal' vibe I got. Not sure what's wrong with it per se but it felt at odds with her cool introduction.

13. “When I first showed up to the city, a guy called Noel recommended the place to me,” Mahlua explained, trying hard not to gulp or shiver under the woman’s intense gaze. She reminded herself that she had done nothing wrong…yet. Probably, anyway.
- Timid Mahlua is timid.

14. At the mention of the bus driver, Zal’s shoulders relaxed. “Noel, huh?” she said. She took another pensive drag of her cigarette and held the smoke before releasing a much thinner cloud.
- This worked much, much better in describing her coolness and smoking.

15. Mahlua paused for a moment to consider the best explanation. “You could say I’m on a mission to prove something to these two powerful friends of mine. I don’t really know what they want from me, but if I somehow amuse them enough or whatever, they’ve promised a reward I can’t resist.”
- Haha to explain Mahlua's entire quest to people would be hilarious.

16. “Ah,” Zal drawled. “You must be one of the Ecchi Twins’ contestants.”
- Wait Zal knows the Ecchi twins?!

17. “I see. They’re still not the greatest and explaining themselves,” Zal said. She shook her head. “Well, the long and short is that they had far bigger plans for EcchiWorld than they were able to accomplish, so a lot of the smaller ideas got turned into AI and put in the Tower for safe keeping in the hopes that one day they’d be able to unlock their full potential.”
- Ecchiworld is very low key but has a huuuge amount of potential. It's almost as long lived as MR and the faithful amounts of visits there is ridiculous. On a meta level, if you have any 'big plans' I'm looking forward to seeing them. It's the members that make a forum work.

18. “You know what? Why not,” Mahlua said as she took the box.
- No Mahlua dooon't! But yessss the coolness. But nooooo.

19. She flipped the lid and discovered two of the remaining cigarettes were flipped tobacco side up. The witch took one of the other cigarettes and held it to her lips. “I think I’ve heard of an old saying, something like ‘One for good luck, two for a good suck’,” Mahlua said, handing the box back over.
- Hahaha that line.

20. Zal feigned disappointment. “Aww, what gave it away?” she pouted. At Mahlua’s reaction to the smoke, she let out a small chuckle. “Well, when you’re undead, you need a helluva lot more of any drug to actually affect you.”
- DUN DUN DUN. Cool twist haha. My eyes widened at this.

21. “Makes sense,” Mahlua said. It probably made the most amount of sense out of everything she had experienced in this level so far.
- Aaaand she's taking that revelation well.

22. “Besides, even if it goes against certain regulations, a good bloodwhore is still the best, most fulfilling experience.”
- Wow.

23. “Hey, you don’t have to be so afraid. If you say no, that’ll be the end of it. I can’t afford an assault charge on my record, in any case.” Zal’s voice sounded much softer.
- Woowwwww.

24. Especially since I have stuff at home to take care of vampire bites and all their possible side effects.”
- Wowwwwwwww.

25. Dull pain became white fire as Zal’s fangs penetrated flesh. Mahlua cried out a ragged sound somewhere between a scream and a moan. Zal leaned in and angled herself, which caused Mahlua to fear that those fangs were about to tear her shoulder off. After the initial bite, though, the pain subsided and the adrenaline and endorphins mixed with the nicotine for a high unlike anything Mahlua had ever experienced. She figured there had to be some sort of vampire endorphins also working on her, but it was only the vague construct of a thought. Words and other such trivialities failed to reach her. It was nothing short of a dream come true for the witch, and so she soaked up the feeling with all she could muster. She stayed that way until a faint tingle from her fingertips registered a chilling thought. Right, blood loss wasn’t actually good for you.
- I am not a vampire ecchi person or anything, but this paragraphy was legit stuff Mahlua. Great writing here.

26. She fished in her pockets and pulled out a small box of square bandages, just the right size for the bite.
- I see Zal really knows her stuff. Interesting, I've seen thousands of vamps intergrating with society in thousands of stories. I mean True Blood is a great example of it becoming 'the norm'. But I've never seen them carrying kits and the like to deal with the whole bloodsucking thing. Cool concept.

27. Mahlua remained silent for the rest of the trip back to Zal’s apartment, although it took some self-restraint to not make some sort of comment about not minding the hostage idea in the slightest.
- People want what people want


Glad to see you plugging away at the chapters. Solid scene placement and really interesting introspective in Mahlua's character and journey. Also some gold writing moments I'm definitely stealing from. Also Zal is hot.