The blow landed, and the deafening noise that sprung forth in doing so was all too reminiscent of a great explosion. Things would have undoubtedly played out differently had this been the same strain of plants that often took the stage whenever the members of Yelquchira attempted to end each other’s lives, but only a fraction of Laladi’s power had been used to summon this particular specimen. The ogre’s attack split it in two without much effort.
Laladi was knocked out of her position atop the plant and launched skywards.
“Ah… Lala messed it up…”
While she had thus far looked at the ogre – or rather, the acquaintance manipulating the creature – with nothing but hatred, her temper had simmered down to an awful silence. She had reached a point where she could do little apart from admitting surrender.
The girl was an Alraune, and her legs were therefore greatly hampered in their mobility. In fact, had she never encountered the Master, and had he never been so gracious as to take her into his custody, she would have spent her life glued to a single spot in some cranny of the woods, doing absolutely nothing as she continued to grow.
The staggering majority of the Alraune species – scarce though its members were – had no interest in uprooting themselves or walking about on their own legs. It was hardly inaccurate to say that the natural strength of their legs had undergone some form of degeneration as a result, and though Laladi could be considered a marvelously unique Alraune, she was not unaffected by this trait.
“Urgh… That’s so gross…”
She was falling, set to hit the ground head-first, but she still had some time to look at the ogre as he lied in wait below. Saliva dribbled from his mouth as his expression morphed into one of sheer delight, ecstatic that this much-reviled prey was finally at his mercy.
Laladi felt her tension unwind at the sight of the ogre in this state. While it would not be impossible for her to summon a new plant, the only time an Alraune could utilize enormous power was when their legs were firmly on solid ground.
As one might have expected of a member of Yelquchira, a guild notable for its gathering of absurd characters, Laladi was still perfectly capable of calling upon a portion of her power without letting her feet touch the earth. Had she been facing a plain old ogre, that power would have been more than enough.
But that creature that lurked beneath her, that ogre whose strings were being pulled by a certain woman with breasts so oversized they might as well have been udders, was a far cry from being a plain ogre. Whatever plant she could send at him now would be, in all likelihood, knocked aside without trouble.
“Phew… It’s just too much trouble…”
In light of that, Laladi simply opted for dropping out of the fray. She had already lost the will to fight back. Had it been a more vulgar species of monster, perhaps one of those that delighted in their excessively salacious conduct, then she would have offered some resistance in the form of a secret technique or a series of attacks that were sure to kill, but ogre had no such predilections. He only ever killed his prey.
“Well, Lala’s already made her ‘preparations’ anyway. Dying once shouldn’t be too much of a problem.”
There was no one there to hear her whispers but herself. That was well within reason – it could hardly be expected of anyone to be there and listen while this girl plummeted from a worrying height, and even if someone’s presence could somehow be ensured, her words would likely sound like pure gibberish.
Alraune were monsters, true, but they were hardly immortal beings. They died once, and that was the end of it. Given what Laladi had said, however, it could almost be assumed that she had managed to find some way of stocking up on lives…
“Oh, it’s almost time…”
Her soft green hair fluttered wildly in the wind. She looked at the ogre, seemingly without interest. He had already hoisted his club, clearly ready to swing it with all of his might the minute Laladi’s fall brought her in his range. Having already prepared herself for this eventuality, Laladi closed her eyes.
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The pain she was steeling herself for never came. Instead, she found herself exposed to a strangely warm and pacifying sensation, followed by a scent that she could see herself taking in for eternity.
It was all something incredibly dear to the girl. Both the scent and the warmth were, after all, familiar to her. She always basked in both whenever she clung close to its source.
Now, finally, Laladi realized that she was being held close by none other than the Master himself. He carried her in a bridal style, her petite frame fitting almost perfectly into his arms. Not only that but as she found herself in his arms, she noted that the Master was, quite literally, flying.
The waiting ogre was not the only one to be caught by surprise. Joining him in his astonishment was Maho, and both of them stared upward at the sight of the Master and Laladi. Why, Laladi herself was in a similar position.
How in the world had he found his way out of her plant’s confines? What she had used to lock the Master away was essentially meant to be an impregnable fortress. Just as none could enter it, none could leave.
Laladi had been planning on using this plant to abduct the Master and cage him, after all. It was only logical that it would be just as impervious to attacks from the inside. Furthermore, while its main function was to seal away, its strength was still significant enough to not be waved away and forgotten. How had he managed to…
– – – – – Are you alright?
Those words were enough to wipe Laladi’s mind clean of thought. The Master looked down at the small girl he held in his arms and gave her a warm smile as he asked about her well-being.
Well aware of the clear blue eyes that peered down at her, Laladi’s emerald-colored skin immediately changed to a pure crimson. It was like something straight out of a fairytale – the Master had saved Laladi from danger like a gallant prince rescuing a distressed princess.
Laladi, now in her true Alraune form, had nothing in the ways of clothing. Most of her skin was now bared for the world to see in all its light viridity.
Her chest may have been rather modest in terms of size, but there was nevertheless a swelling to that area that was wholly undeniable. Her abdomen showed neither great recession nor extreme protrusion, its gently curving outlines complementing her outward youth.
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Somewhat removed from the themes shared by her stomach and breasts was her backside which, though small, was of a rather perky shape and served as a strong reminder to onlookers that she was, despite all, indeed a woman.
It was all of these aspects that were now so brazenly exposed to the Master.
“W-Wait a minute…! Lala wants you to look, but she needs to prepare herself first…!”
The Master inclined his head to the side as Laladi squealed and, in her shame, buried her face into him. Despite her apparent embarrassment, she still managed to hold on to the Master’s clothes with an iron grip, refusing to let go.
One could point out just how odd it was that Laladi, after all she had done, would act so abashedly. It would be just as possible to point out that the girl in question, when exposed to certain, overwhelming stimuli that tugged at her heartstrings, was prone to showing a much more feminine side of herself.
“Phew… Is it already over…?”
The Master and Laladi’s shared journey through the skies came to an end, brief as it had been. Laladi, though more than willing to express her disappointment with this, still made no attempt to remove herself from the Master’s bridal carry. She had, quite to the contrary, made a show of wrapping her arms around his neck and did her best to convince him that she should not be put down.
The ogre belched another enraged cry, this time directed at the Master just as he had finished his landing. Just when then ogre was so sure that he would finally put an end to his prey, this man had gotten between him and his goal in ways he had not conceived of.
Now that it had all come to this, the ogre was sure he would kill them both. Then, just as the thought crossed his mind…
“If you even think about laying a hand on the Master, you’re done for.”
The words had been projected directly into his mind, and the voice that had spoken them made the ogre shudder in fright.
It was only natural for a beast to fear those far above his station. The only reason that the ogre was even capable of facing Laladi despite her clear superiority was that his fear of her had been quelled, all through the power of the red-headed woman who had exerted her control over him.
The ogre advanced towards Laladi and the Master with its savage lope. The only one it aimed to harm, however, was Laladi. It did not set its sights on the Master.
He was entirely subservient to the voice in his head. This seemed to have been a sound judgment on his part, as he found himself feeling much better rather than close to death by someone’s hand.
This had to be what the voice desired. He only had to kill Laladi.
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“Lala’s fine, Master. You’re holding her and making her happy – Lala can’t lose now. Don’t worry, just keep holding Lala close… Master?”
Now, with the Master’s warmth and scent so close, and with the additional benefit of being carried in his arms – all things Laladi made sure to enjoy to the fullest – Laladi could feel all the magic she had spent come rushing back to her. The principles underlying this phenomenon remain a pure mystery.
If you were to tell any self-respecting scholar ‘The Master’s love revived her!’ or anything along those lines, the best reaction you might expect would be a dry smile. Laladi grew silent when the Master pressed a finger against her lips. She looked up at the Master, her heart vigorously thumping away in her little chest, and listened closely as he told her, smilingly, that he would take care of things. It all sounded incredibly reassuring.
Laladi’s whole body, still in the Master’s arms, was completely overtaken by a series of unnatural spasms. It was perhaps a stroke of luck that the Master had chosen that same moment to turn his attention to the ogre and his impending arrival. Using this to her advantage, Laladi quickly summoned a plant with immense absorptive capabilities and wiped herself clean in places which best remain vague.
The ogre continued to roar, dead set on being a nuisance. The cry was enough to force people of Maho and Yuuto’s caliber to draw back, but it only elicited the usual gentle smile from the Master.
It only took the blink of an eye, but the ogre, that sizeable creature with its enviable resilience, became immediately obscured when flames engulfed its body.
One had to wonder just who had been so surprised. Both Yuuto and Maho looked on with their eyes wide and mouths agape. Even Laladi, who had been in the Master’s company far longer than either of them, stared with eyes as round as saucers.
While the others displayed their shock, the ogre somehow managed to hold on to its lucidity even as his body crackled and charred in the fire. He realized the danger the man posed.
If he wanted to kill Laladi, then he had no choice but to kill the Master. The voice that had spoken to him earlier may have commanded him against doing so, but he had already made up his mind.
The voice in question, it appeared, was just as horribly confused as the others. Now was his chance.
With a gut-wrenching howl, he let his posture change as he took to the air. He would stick a clean landing, then immediately go to attack the Master…
The ogre was, once again, engulfed by an explosion. It struck the ogre with a sound so stupefying it was as if space itself had ruptured. Just as it seemed that the ogre would crumple onto the floor, the branches that jutted from the trees reached for his arms and wrapped themselves around them until he was completely bound, his figure almost like that of a man being crucified.
“That’s Lala’s move…!”
Laladi had always assumed that she alone had proficiency when it came to manipulating plants. The Master had just shattered those assumptions without much ado.
Laladi looked up at him in disbelief. He offered her a somewhat strained smile before manipulating the earth beneath him to form spears. There were five of these spears in total, and all flew straight for the ogre.
The ogre’s hide was thick enough to resist the onslaught of a sacred blade, but that did little to help as he found himself pierced by one earthy spear after another. With one last agonized howl as he neared death, the ogre, for all his former ferocity, fell prone and moved no longer.