A/N: Hello out there, my readers! I'm finally starting to make good on my promise to you all! Here's the 22nd S2 one-shot after so many weeks of delays. I told you all that I would finish the S2 Collection before leaving and I didn't lie. It turns out that I'll be leaving my work behind on 10/19/15 and will be in-flight to basic training on 10/20/15. That means that I have even less of a time frame to release these one-shots. However, due to the consistent support I'm getting from you guys, I'm confident in my ability to deliver quality as well as speed. This Mimic one-shot was something that started out as a small idea, but it grew into something bigger since this is actually the start of the ending miniseries which I call: The Party. Not a bad name, eh? The miniseries will include this one-shot and all of the ones afterwards. However, I must be serious with you all for this moment. If you haven't read my latest (and last) profile announcement, please do so. One of the main reasons I've had such long delays between one-shots is family issues. I've always been the 'black sheep' of my family, always someone that's known to cause trouble and be a maverick. Of course, causing trouble is the equivalent to being different in Asian families. Yep, the secret's out, I'm Asian. All the rumors about how dysfunctional Asian families are, they're all true. 'Deeply rooted in rational thought, but blinded by appearances and social influence' is how I describe Asians on a daily basis. It's the harshest curse that can fall on anyone in my opinion. That's why I was so happy when you guys cheered me on when I first started these one-shots. My own family doesn't believe in me, but you guys did without any hesitation. So, thank you all for your ongoing support in my otherwise hellish life. Enjoy the chapter! :)
“Crap!” I exclaim in surprise.
I slam my back to the dungeon floor just in time to dodge the incoming ax. That was one trap I had not yet seen before. I'm more used to arrows flying out of walls, but axes!? I'm starting to see why this dungeon has only been attempted twice: there's far too many traps for anyone to have a chance at survival. I've already dealt with my fair share of acid pits, spiked walls, hails of arrows, rooms full of lusty monster girls, and portals to oblivion. Were it not for my best friends clearing the dungeon with me, I would have probably died somewhere along the way. I make a mental note to tell them that drinks are on me once we get out of here. It's the least I could do for dragging them into this mess of a dungeon. With this last hallway cleared, there should only be one more room left until this dungeon is cleared for the first time: the boss room. I ask my friends if they are ready to move on, but they are already starting ahead without me, effectively answering my question. I walk back to the head of our group, taking the first steps into the wide and spacious final room. A hand is kept on my sword as I lead us into the center of the room. The tension is high for us, waiting for anything to jump out at us. As a group, we slowly shuffle to the far end of the room with caution. I have my sword, with a crossbow to my left and a magic wand to right and everyone ready to fight at a moment's notice. At the back of the room, I spot an old musty chest about three feet tall. It must have been quite elegant in its prime, but time has certainly taken its toll here. We pause for about 30 minutes before slowly lowering our weapons and turning to the chest. With a short swallow, I step forward with an outstretched hand and carefully clasp my hands underneath the lid. I open the chest and-
“Kenneth! Pay attention!” A woman's voice snaps me out of my fantasy.
I shake my head free of distraction as I reset my focus on my boss. Her extensive insect-like body rears back, easily allowing her body's human half to tower over me by about five feet. I can't help feeling insignificant not only to her current height, but also to her vast pairs of poisonous 'legs'. The name of her species escapes me, probably because of my fear.
“Yes Ma'am! Sorry for not listening!” I hurriedly answer.
“Young man, it's perfectly fine to reminisce about old times, but do not waste another person's time with it! Now as I just said, you are assigned to clean out the basement and to make sure there are no dangerous objects left down there.” The older woman commands.
“It will be done, Lady Kaede.”
I bow deeply before leaving the parlor and heading down the stairs to the basement. It's been 10 years since those times where my friends and I would just get into all sorts of trouble. The age of dungeon-diving and questing is over, at least in this part of the country. It turns out that there are a lot of health-related risks involved when one is in possession of a mysterious artifact of unknown value. Yes, it's sad when treasure hunters realize that while they are excellent at finding the pieces, their salesmanship is conversely pitiful. That's basically how my group got to where we are now, as live-in servants to an anonymous Lord and his monster wife, Lady Kaede. I stop my stride for a moment when the path in front of me becomes too dark to see. Normally this is where I would use my cellphone's flashlight, but I opt to take a torch from on the sconces nearby. From what I'm told, there hasn't been anyone in the basement for at least six months, so anything can happen down here. I keep a tight grip on the burning torch, taking a defensive stance for my approach.
It's not a sword, but it'll do. I just hope Lady Kaede isn't sending me into something dangerous. There's something off about that woman, aside from the obvious fact that she's a monster. What was her species called again...?
While having these random thoughts, I don't seem to notice a solid object approaching dangerously close to my legs until-
“Ow, fuck!” I scream in pain as I pick my self up from the fall.
I hit my head quite hard on the stone floor, but not to the point of concussion. Even so, my mind is indecisive between being alert or unconscious, so with effort I use my torch to individually light the sconces around the room. The combined light is still somewhat dim, but at least it gives my mind something to focus on. I check myself for any meaningful injuries, but luckily I didn't sustain any from tripping. A small bit of anger wells up within me as I snap my head back at the object I failed to spot a few seconds ago. It looks like an old chest with various bits of faded gold.
“I'm saving you for last.” I mutter as I start sorting out all of the old belongings in the basement.
After an hour of organizing piles of letters, old books, stray bottles, and general miscellany, I finally get a chance to inspect the chest in the middle of the now-tidy room. Something about it all feels oddly familiar, and nostalgic in a sense. It's like when someone tries to unlock a repressed memory in a way. Before I even attempt to touch it, I locate the duster hanging on the wall and make a quick sweep of the chest's entirety. To my surprise, there isn't too much dirt on the surface; only about an inch or so. I check the time on my phone: '5:00 PM', the time when all of the staff members have dinner. Normally I would be one of the first arrivals, but this task from Lady Kaede is much more important. I take a slow approach to opening the chest, drawing from my dungeon-delving experiences. I think back to the classes I took with my friends when we were kids.
First, check for any traps near the chest. Tells include loose stones, tripwires, oddly-placed chairs, and holes in the floor. If there are any traps, proceed to disarm them. Once the chest is secure, slow your breathing and carefully inspect the surface of the chest. Pay close attention to the hinges and keyhole. Gently insert a small knife under the lid and drag it across the chest's opening to disable any wire traps. Now, try picking the lock. If the chest unlocks, loot it. If not, move on to Plan B: lightly kick the chest, repeatedly.
-Bang- -Bang- -Bang-
I feel terrible for doing this, especially since it belongs to the Lord, but I couldn't find the key to this chest at all. I searched the room twice over for any hidden crawlspaces, but to no avail. I won't even try to pick the lock since I more-or-less failed most of my lock-picking classes back in school; it was quite pitiful, really. Luckily, I passed all the other classes with relatively high marks including wall breaking. The chest still doesn't show any hints of opening. For some reason, I start to hear pained whimpering from the chest instead. I mentally kick myself for not even considering the possibility of a living creature inside the chest! Quickly adopting this new assumption, I back away from the chest and do something that even a complete idiot could figure out: try opening the chest. With a steady, but cautious set of hand movements, I align my fingers under the lid. A memory flashes in front of my eyes for a brief moment. This sequence of events feels familiar, like an almost-perfect mirror of my daydream earlier. If my memory is clear, then what is contained in this chest is-
“Hey Ken! We've got another job for you up here.”, one of my former party members, Kylie, comes down the stairs, “Lady Kaede said to leave the basement as it is for now.”
“Oh, alright then. I'll be up in a minute.” I answer, putting my hands on the chest lid.
Kylie turns around to go back, but pauses after a few steps.
“You...doing okay? You seem kinda flustered, Ken.” She looks back at me with slight concern.
“Er...uh...y-yeah. I'm perfectly fine. It's probably the air down here messing with my health.” I justify, hoping the excuse will work.
“Jeez, you've gotta be more careful with yourself. I can keep watching over you forever, you know?” Kylie warns as she goes back up the stairs.
I follow her, but take one last glance back at the closed chest. It looks strikingly similar to the one in my memory, but that happened so long ago. With a quick decision, I opt to leave it alone and ask Lady Kaede about it later.
The chest, no matter how tempting it may be, still belongs to the Lord and shouldn't be opened carelessly.
That's what I tell myself as I head up the stairs behind Kylie. I make a few fine adjustments to my suit as we get closer to the foyer, thinking back to Lady Kaede's rule of 'always looking your best'. My tie is now straight, blazer free of any noticeable dust, and the short, dark-hazel hair on my head is as clean as possible. Everything looks to be in order when I approach Lady Kaede with Kylie. Even the freshly cleaned chest right next to-
“...!” I gasp, alerting both women.
“Ken, what is it!?” Kylie probes, darting her eyes in the direction I'm looking.
“Kenneth, what has you so alarmed...oh. I hadn't expected her to take such a liking to you. Kylie, you are dismissed to you duties. There's no longer any reason for your presence here.” The monstrous Lady commands with a subtly kind, but icy tone.
“As you wish, Lady Kaede.” Kylie bows and leaves to attend dinner with the other servants.
With only the Lady and myself left in the foyer, I clear my throat a bit to possibly dispel the awkward silence between us. I occasionally steal a peek at the chest resting beside her, wondering how it got here and who Lady Kaede meant by 'her'.
“What is next task, Lady Kaede?” I tentatively ask her, hoping in vain that it doesn't involve the mystery chest.
Lady Kaede gives no response at first, only smiling with pride and genuine happiness.
“Here you go! Be sure to remember the date!” I call with practiced gratitude as the one-eyed knight takes the letter, a Wyvern holding onto his arm.
I hop back onto my horse and ride to the next delivery point somewhere in the forest. I look back at the chest strapped on the horse's rear, worried about the vague prediction that Lady Kaede made before sending me off.
“Kenneth, since are familiar with the surrounding regions, I'd like you to deliver invitations to everyone on this list at these locations. There is a horse set up in front of the manor which should help you make all the deliveries. I'd also like you to take this chest along as well. Open it once you've made all the deliveries. Don't worry about dinner either; the horse has it covered.” Lady Kaede hands me the list after her explanation.
“Uh...Lady Kaede, this job is going to take me all over the country. How exactly am I supposed to do this in one night?” I ask in disbelief, common sense apparently being disregarded.
“Let the horse handle everything. It's a special breed that is normally only used by my husband. However, he has permitted me to allow you to use it just this once. A warning, though: do not fall asleep while riding.” The mistress' dark face exudes seriousness on every level.
“Okay...I'll do what I can, then. Are you sure I'll be able to do this? It hardly seems feasible, let alone reasonable.” I ask, wanting to confirm if it's wise to put faith in my employers.
“My husband's done it many times in the past and even I have accomplished it on one occasion. You should have no difficulties as well.”
I sigh, not knowing how I'm supposed to be feeling right now. Much to anyone's surprise, the secret to the horse's impressive record is that it's actually a Pegasus. It doesn't need to worry about losing time since it can just fly to its destinations. At this point in my life, I've learned to appreciate the sight of ordinary monsters that aren't actively trying to rape me. Looking at the list, it seems that my destination is a lake in the middle of the forest. As the Pegasus lands gently, I climb off and approach the lake, looking a certain fisherman on the list. I hear a rumbling from the Pegasus' rear, likely from the chest. It's been shaking violently ever since I started this trip, but I choose to follow Lady Kaede's instructions to the last detail.
“Hey there. You lost?” A voice rings out from the dim lighting near the lake.
I turn to face the voice and find a man dressed in fishing gear, a proud smirk on his face. I take this moment to check my list for his face; and sure enough, it's there.
“Actually, I was looking for you.”, I hand an invitation to the man, “Here, you'll definitely want to attend with your spouse. It'll be a fun night and you'll get to meet people from all over the country. You'll have to provide your own transportation, sorry.”
“Ah, okay, I understand fully. I'll look over this with my wife and if all goes well, we'll be at the place!”
He waves me off as I move onward aboard the Pegasus.
“Let's see, next is...” I consult the list for the next spot.
“That...does not sound good.” Are the first words that run through my head.
I look back to where the chest is strapped, only to find it dangerously sliding off of the Pegasus! I let go of the reins and dive for the falling chest out of instinct. In doing so, I myself slide right out of my saddle while we are flying a few thousand feet in the air. My eyes widen to the size of the moon as I gape in shock at the oncoming ground ready to take my life. No matter how much I've escaped death, there's no Human who can survive a fall from this height! I clutch the chest close to my form, hoping to find some final form of comfort before I die. However, the chest opens in a flash of light and a petite girl rises out of it. I don't have any time to react before I'm pulled headfirst into the chest by the girl from within.
“Ah! Hah...huh...haah...” I breathe heavily, astonished that I'm still able to wake up.
Everything I can see is just an endless wash of...white. Regardless of where I look, the same white color stains the world that surrounds me. It brings a certain fragility to everything, like this place could collapse with just an out-of-place breath.
So this is what Heaven's like...
With that thought as my only rational conclusion, I wordlessly lie back down and look up at the pure whiteness. I always used to think that dying is painful, but it seems I was wrong. This place brings a sense of gentleness with it that eases away all the tension that I felt while I was falling.
“You look like you enjoy it here.” A small voice whispers from beside me.
“Yeah, it's kind of relaxing once you get used to it.” I answer, not really paying attention.
“I'm glad. It's been so long that I thought you had forgotten the times we've had in here...” The voice muses.
I prop myself up on my elbows and look over to the curious individual. It's the same girl who dragged me into this place. Now that my mind's at rest, I can fully appreciate just how cute she looks. Her brownish-blonde hair is tied back in a braid, keeping my focus on the vibrant ocean-blue color in her eyes; the kind of eyes that are equally loving and distant. She's smiling gently at me with a grace that unlike anything I've ever seen before. There's a hint of longing in her whole expression, but it's difficult for me to understand why I'm the object of her affections. I've only just met her, after all.
“The times we've had here? What do you mean?” I ask innocuously.
“It's me, Ashelyn. You couldn't have forgotten me after 10 years, right?” She asserts confidently.
“Er...no, sorry. I have no idea what you're talking about. I do remember opening a chest much like yours in a dungeon back then; it's all a blank after that.” I think back, but nothing comes to mind about this odd girl in front of me.
“Well, do you remember...this?”
Ashelyn scoots a few feet away from me, giving me a full view of her attire. My jaw drops at the sight of her almost stark-naked body that only has a long ribbon covering her modest bust. She smirks with seductive charm and puts one end of the ribbon in her hand. In an agonizingly slow motion, Ashelyn undoes the ribbon to reveal increasingly more of her lustrous pearly skin. My breath catches in my throat, leaving unable to speak while my eyes and hands are unconsciously reaching towards her. I still don't remember what exactly happened between us, but now I'm mentally kicking myself for being unable to. Ashelyn leans forward, somewhat blocking my view just as the last piece of ribbon falls to free her sensual breasts.
“Do you remember now? We had our first time...just~like~this.” She whispers in my ear, with a deep red blush that matches my own.
“S-Something's starting to come back to me. Maybe we should...relive our first time, just in case?” I tempt her, lust completely taking over my mind.
“...” Ashelyn looks away, apparently embarrassed at my forward approach.
“Ashelyn...” I purr before bringing her into a soft kiss.
“Jeez, you really know how to make a girl melt into your arms.” She comments before pushing me down with a wild, more passionate kiss of her own.
“I still don't remember much, but I must have loved you very much.” I say between kisses.
“Yes, you made me the happiest girl in the world; just like you're doing now.” Ashelyn whispers as she hurriedly starts to strip me.
A/N: "Hmm, this needs a little something...more. Now what could it be..." *Drake gets pushed out of his chair* "Drake, aren't you forgetting something?" "Wait, why are you here, Magnus? Where's Pon and Sigfred?" *Magnus glares* "They're out shopping along with the other guys for your party." "What? My party? Did we plan something like that?" *Magnus punches Drake* "Yes, we discussed it at the last staff meeting." "Oh...right. Um, I was drunk all last week, so I have no memory of it at all. Hehehehe..." *Magnus quietly fumes with raw rage* "Now I know why Pon wants to kill all the time..." So, that was great chapter right? I know what you're all thinking, "What actually happened between those two?" Well, that will be explained later on in The Party as well as the part where he was delivering invitations. Remember when Alexander got a letter in the last one-shot (at the beginning)? Yep, that was a sort of teaser for this miniseries for those who paid attention. I'm all set on the serious stuff, so there won't be any here. Anyways, the next part of The Party will use a Ghost as the main heroine. This is gonna be a tearjerker, so I hope you all bring some tissues with you for the next one-shot!