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The Secret of the Castle

Chapter Text

"Surprise inspection!" yelled someone slamming the door open, letting sunlight enter the pub and startling some of the customers.
"Right, sure, whatever." responded the bartender a second later in a resigned tone; he knew that procedure to a T by that point "Everyone, continue what you were doing while the soldiers do their job, there's nothing to be afraid of."
For Freya Crescent it was easy, she just needed to stay put at the counter and keep drinking her stress away, one pint after the other. Two years and a half had passed since Zidane had led her and the others to the center of the world, defeated Kuja and the avatar of Death itself and purged Gaia from the mist apparently forever; after that, the monkey boy was declared dead but in secret had prepared a good facade in order to confess himself to the new queen of Alexandria, Garnet, and it had worked out. Freya was there in the audience, applauding for the future of the kingdoms, where peace may prevail.
But a dragoon's job is never done; even after the disappearance of the mist, dragons roamed around the world terrorizing caravans and people alike. And it was her job to protect them and defeat the monsters.
Hers and...
She quickly casted away that thought and emptied her current pint before asking for another. Inspections like the one that was happening at the moment were nothing new, just a simple routine the Alexandria guards had to perform once in a while; with no real wars on the horizon, it was good exercise and kept fresh the protocol for the recruits, and the people of Alexandria had adapted to that almost immediately because there was nothing to hide and there was no enforcement or brutality. Usually after that the soldiers were allowed a free round (despite being in service, but crime had reduced so much they could allow that at this point) and were able to take a break chatting with each other or the people in the pub. When Alleyway Jack was present, there were even mini-tournaments of Tetra Master, and everyone was always fired up for it. Well, almost, since when present, the captain of the Pluto Knights Adelbert Steiner was always keeping his sturdiness and allowed only his troops to enjoy the game.
"How can a bunch of soldiers take a children's card game this seriously is beyond me." thought Freya while thanking with a gesture the bartender for giving her a new pint. The day was far from over yet she wanted it to end so badly so that the next one she could be on the road again.
"Alright, that's enough. Dismissed, we're resuming in half an hour. Don't forget to be ready for tonight." said the voice from before, then Freya heard footsteps coming behind her. At that point, she recognized the voice, there was only one woman in the city with that tone and melody.
"It's rare to see general Beatrix herself show up for these rounds," the Burmecian said without turning her head, only her tail moving lazily "or so i have heard. I take it's because of the fireworks tonight?"
Beatrix took the seat near Freya's and ordered milk; unlike her soldiers, she wanted something more sober, but unlike Steiner, she wanted her own piece of relax. "It's been a while, miss Crescent, i'm glad to see you again. It's like you said, but i also heard you were in town, and you hadn't showed up in a while." responded with a little smile "So, are you coming tonight? Everyone else is here, apparently, and i've heard the queen wanted to speak with you."
"Maybe, but i'm not in a good mood. I have managed to avoid Zidane, otherwise he would pester me to no end until i accepted, but i ran into Amarant. He went away half an hour ago actually, i think, i haven't told him if i'll come."
"Why not, Freya?" asked Beatrix "Is something wrong?"
Freya sighed and took another shot at her pint before answering.
"Life has become... empty for me, i'm bound by a routine where i don't see much the people i knew and loved, and the few times i do it's just for quick catchups. The best i get are the thanks of the people i save from dragon ambushes, but it's only a passing thing; 'tis the fate of a dragoon, to walk the planet alone and hunt. I used to tolerate that, but now after Zidane made me travel the world with him and the others, after what happened to Cleyra and Burmecia... that void has been filled with the fatigue and stress of what i do, hence why i come to pubs like this. To wash it away."
Beatrix thought for a second, then asked if she may just needed a break from that life, take some time to just stay in a city like Alexandria for a while. "I'm sure the queen can find you something to keep you busy." she added.
"Would be worse, i need to be on the move like this. I was born for this job, if i stop now things will get worse, i'll get lazy and end up like any of the mothers in Lindblum, useful only to repopulate my species. On top of that, it's a job i need to survive. I just lack the motivation and someone to vent with right now, that's all. I was considering going to the festival tonight in order to catch some fresh air, but my mood has gone since."
"Wait, what about Sir F-"
"We're not seeing each other anymore." Freya cut her shortly "He eventually regained his memories but circumstances have separated us time and time again until we decided it wasn't worth anymore keeping our relationship." She avoided mentioning that after that she had tried to have "minor entertainment" with what cities like Treno or Lindblum had to offer, but they were just distractions that went nowhere. She was longing for something more, but didn't knew what could it be.
Beatrix finished her milk and took some minutes to think, then turned back to Freya, placing a hand on her shoulder.
"Le me understand this:" asked seriously "you just need to find a way to relieve you from your stress and at the same time have someone to stay with for a while while avoiding crowded places or someone that may annoy you?"
"Yeah, more or less."
The general thought some more, placing a hand under her chin, then came close to the dragoon and whispered in her ear with an almost seductive tone "I may have the solution to that, but you have to trust me completely. Are you ok with that?"
Freya had no more grudges against the Alexandrian since back then she was only following orders and ever since always expressed repenteance for her actions; in addition, thanks to the refugees in Lindblum, the Burmecian species was barely saved from extinction and was now repopulating its kingdom, and after an year, while there was still some minor resentment, the population had agreed on emitting an official pardon to the general, wich in turn had dedicated her duties outside of Garnet's assitance in helping the mice communities by sending troops and privisions for the kingdom reconstruction.
And even taking all of that aside, for this context, the dragoon had nothing more to lose and was frankly curious about the intention of Beatrix, so she confirmed with a head gesture.
"Good. Then don't go to the festival tonight. Stay put until the streets are deserted and wait for me at the docs after the square. You can come dressed the way you prefer," and looking at her pint added "but i'd prefer you sober if possible."
Freya raised an eyebrow under her helmet; that was certainly a weird request. "What about you though? Aren't you supposed to be on duty with your guards for the event?"
"I have someone that can replace me, and Steiner can cover my absence, it has happened already in the past. The queen knows situations like this one, she understands." Beatrix responded while putting her hair behind her back confidently. "I take it as a yes then?"
"Sure."
"Good." said the Alexandrian with a grin and a generous hand on the Burmecian's back "I'd prefer if you mentioned to noone about this, if you have to tell someone like king Zidane that you can't come, make up an excuse. I can count you on that, right?"
"Definetly." Freya responded with a mixture of amusement and glaciality in her tone.
Beatrix smiled, then called back her soldiers and started walking out of the pub. Freya admitted looking at her from behind that she really was as beautiful as she was strong; she still remembered the times thes general had inflicted almost mortal damage to her and her companions, but even in those situations there was something she was admiring about the opponent, something she wanted to discover. And maybe that was what she was searching in the stagnation of her current life.
Now she was definetly curious to see what she had in store for the night.

-0-

She paid her drinks eventually and was just exiting the pub when she heard a voice she was hoping to avoid, along with the movement of happiness of a tail.
"Hey Freya, long time no see!"
Zidane was standing in the middle of the main Alexandrian street with no escort and in his elegant robes who clearly did not suited his look. The life of a thief was more fitting for how the dragoon remembered him and the few nights she had spent together with him before embarking in the world-saving quest. Almost every eye was pointed at him right now.
"King Tribal, i must say you look fabolous. How are you, your majesty?" said Freya sarcastically while faking a bow, clearly more in a mockery tone than anything.
Zidane just laughed and clapped his hands in amusement, then went for a hug. "Oh, you never change. I missed you so much, and Garnet and the others too: they keep asking me about you all the time, but i had no word outside of your heroic feats. I should give you a medal for how you keep the roads cleaned and allow peace outside of the capitals, you know. Wait, i wonder if we have medals for that. Do we? I'd have to ask Rusty about it."
She only responded with a sigh, a small smile and then ruffled the head of the Genome, to wich he did not complain. She admitted to herself that as much as he was annoying to her, she missed him and his excessive optimism; only once she had to repay the favor when he was having an existential crysis in Terra, but it had been the only exception. Ever since his return and his marriage with Garnet, Zidane had been surprisingly a good and responsable king, to the point that even Steiner had changed his opinion on him... slightly at the very least. The hijinks when the Pluto Knight captain was yelling at the monkey boy for "not applying with the proper decorum" were frequent, or so she heard.
"So, are you joining us for tonight's festivities?" Zidane interrupted her thinking "Everyone's here, Quina has even managed to prepare the feast without eating anything at all. Can you believe that?"
The thought made her giggle a bit; she was actually regaining some mood, and the prospective of talking with people like Garnet again was picking up. But then she remembered Beatrix' words, so she had to think quickly of something.
"Well, Zidane, i would really love to, but i can't. I have a task near Dali and tomorrow morning i have to wake up early." she muttered. Good thing her helmet was hiding her blush.
"Oh, really? That's a shame, the others wanted a full-on reunion. Especially Amarant, if you've seen him then you probably know."
Boy howdy she knew; Coral was dry as usual, and while Freya had enjoyed a bit the banter she had with him on their journey, she wasn't interested at all in the salamander man, and him spending an hour at the pub getting wasted and telling how his training was going had her wished to tie him up like a pig and left him as bait for the Grand Dragons of the Popos Heights.
"Sorry, my little king," she said "i'll be sure to make up for it. But before i go, tell me how's the queen doing; i have heard she wanted to speak with me."
"Sure. I dunno about that last bit, but like i said, Garnet is missing you too, but the kingdom is safe so far thanks to her and me. I admit i couldn't do half of my stuff without her suggestions, eh-eh."
The ruler of one of the most powerful nations of the world was a whipped klutz in the end. The dragoon was repressing a laugh at the thought.
"Even Mikoto got attached to us," Zidane continued "she's like a little sister to me after all. Garnet takes care of her, some times they even just up and disappear, you know."
This made Freya slightly curious, there weren't reports or gossips about the queen disappearing for periods of time. Maybe Beatrix knew something about it, she was Garnet's protector after all.
"Eh, maybe they just go up to a tower and sing together." dismissed Zidane with a hand gesture "Girls, you know. Well anyway, i hope i'll see you soon Freya. We'l miss you tonight."
And with that, the king ran up the street while the people around turned their heads noticing he was walking and talking there alone like a commoner.
"Y-yeah, i'll see you soon..." was all that Freya could muster after Zidane was way out of earshot.
Whatever Beatrix wanted to show her had better be good.

-0-

The night was cold, so Freya was waiting moving a bit on place. Fireworks were lighting up the night, but noone was in the streets or the city square, just like Beatrix had said. The dragoon was still wondering if what she was hinted at and the disappearances of Garnet and Mikoto were connected in some way.
While she was pondering, she noticed someone arriving from the square, so she hid behind one of the stone coloumns. "Of all times, probably a drunkard." she thought to herself.
But instead, what she saw was Alleyway Jack, or as she, Zidane and the others had discovered by his own admission in Daguerreo, Gilgamesh. What was the four-handed treasure hunter doing there at this time instead of going to the festival though?
Freya catched him admiring a lustrous sword, wich was shining the light of the moon and the fireworks, a beauty that any warrior would have wanted; then he did a strange gesture with his right hands and a portal suddenly appeared in front of him. Being too distant, Freya could only get the words "done... here..." before a hand pulled her away from behind her cover.
It was Beatrix of course, sporting a black cloak that was covering her entirely, similar to the one Zidane had used before to trick Garnet; only her size, of course. While repressing a scream from the surprise, Freya noticed from the touch she wasn't wearing her metal mittens.
"What were you watching, peeper?" the general asked in a playful tone. Before Freya could answer, she turned and see noone was in the road near the docs anymore.
"Nothing," she answered, "i thought i heard something. So, what are we doing?"
"I got a gondola, my guards are all up in the castle for the festival, they're not patrolling the outskirts tonight so we can use it."
"Yeah, but for what purpose?"
"I'll explain while getting there, jump up for now." the general said poking her with the tip of the paddle used for the boat.
The gondola followed the usual route in order to get to the castle courtyard, but once there, Beatrix moved the boat to follow the canal in one of the tunnels nearby; Freya already hadn't been much in the castle itself and it had been a while since the last time, so she had no idea where they were going.
The boat finally stopped at a small doc connected to a side tunnel with torches to pic; the general took one, lit it up and asked with a gesture the dragoon to follow, while she started explaining. The cheers of the people and the booming of the fireworks could be heard muffled in the distance.
"It happened seven months ago, while we were studying new ways to amplify the Gargan Roo and as such we were inspecting the less used parts of the palace. As you know, the castle itself is the body of the mighty eidolon Alexander, wich saved us from the destruction of Bahamut when Kuja unleashed it upon the city; under our nose, apparently after the Invincible attack, Alexander managed to remain alive, albeit in a dormant state, and during that inspection time we managed to find a room connected to its core."
Freya was more than surprised, she never thought the machine was still kicking after what had happened years before, and now the Alexandrians had found its heart.
"Apparently it was a room used for storing emergency weapons and armors for the troops in case of siege," continued Beatrix "so when we arrived, the heat had melt most of the equipment. Cleaning that mess was not fun at all, believe me, but it was at that moment that queen Garnet, looking at the place had an idea. She quickly dismissed most of the staff and using a combination of selected Lindblum engineers and the magic of Vivi's children, Eiko and herself, transformed the place into something she thought might have been... helpful."
"And what it may be, if i can ask?" said Freya puzzled. She noticed at that point that Beatrix had stopped in front of one of the tunnel walls; the Burmecian peeked her eye and noticed there were two series of wet footprints on the floor running from that wall to the other side of the tunnel, wich probably was connected to the rest of the castle.
"Just a moment... good, it seems it's usable. One second..." the general touched some of the bricks in the wall, then placed the torch into a handle and like magic, the stone moved to reveal a secret passage. An intense light was shining at the end of it.
"They transformed it into... this." pointed Beatrix, allowing with a gesture Freya to enter before her.

-0-

The festival was amazing this year, the Tantalus had parked the Primavista in front of the castle as usual, and for once they had performed something different than I Want to Be Your Canary; Quina had delivered one of the best feasts the kingdom had seen, showing the master chef the Qu had become, and thanks to Regent Cid Fabool IX and the Lindblum airship fleet, the fireworks were now a non-stopping barrage of colors and shapes. With Garnet at his side, Steiner guarding over them and Mikoto near the queen's throne, Zidane couldn't have been happer.
Barely three years before he didn't even knew who he was, just roaming around the world with a woman in every port and a ragtag band of thieves for family, and now he was the leader of one of the most poweful nations of Gaia, with a woman he genuinely loved and that loved him in return, a sister of sort and with loyal friends by his side, knewing that despite being an artificial life form from a parallel world, he was capable of doing good for others. This was truly his happy ending, the crown wasn't heavy at all on his head.
The Genome took a sip from his chalice; he had saved alcohol for later, for now he was ok with that new fizzy sweet drink Alexandria has discovered some months before, when Zidane had to chase a floating red button over the rooftops of the city. Fun times.
"Tribal." said a voice, interrupting his memories. It was Amarant, with his usual massive red dreadlocks.
"Learn thy manners, Coral!" stepped in Steiner before Zidane could reply. A classic. "You'll adress the king with the respect his position demands!"
"Fine then: hi, monkey butt." Zidane couldn't help but laugh at the monk's usual sharp tongue and dry humor, especially towards him. While the charges against him were pulled thanks to his contribution in saving the world, some were still frightened by his towering appearance and not very orthodox manners.
Before Steiner could launch himself over Amarant, Zidane pulled a gesture and spoke "My friend, forgive Rusty, he's obsessed with protocol. But really, i'm happy you could be here right now."
"...thanks." he answered with a faint smile "I've seen the whole gang his here, but i still haven't caught up with Crescent since i spoke with her at the pub."
"Oh, Freya? She said she was busy with a mission tomorrow, so she had to depart early or something. She told me she'll make up for it, so if it happens i'll be sure to inform you, i know your interest in her."
Zidane couldn't resist making the last bit intentional just to see the faint blush forming on the stoic salamander man.
"Oh, sure," he answered quickly "i'd be in your debt again in the case, and-HEY!"
Eiko had almost made him fall for how she had sprinted under him followed by Vivi's children, all chasing her since she had took a big piece of the festival's cake. And Amarant wasn't happy at all about it.
"I am NOT a tunnel for children! I'll show you... Sorry, "your majesty", i'll pass again later." Amarant dismissed "Right now i have to teach these kids some manners."
While the monk started chasing the children, Zidane noticed Steiner grinning at the event, he was probably finding it karmic. But with that, the Genome got a reminder that someone else was missing.
"Hey," he asked "where's Beatrix? I haven't seen her either."
"Oh, Lady Beatrix told me she felt ill after today's round in the city." explained Steiner "She asked Liutenent Artemis to replace her stead for tonight while she's recovering her fatigue."
The king threw his arms in the air with no worry "I see. Oh well, i'm sure she can take a break, and we really are not in danger right now anyway."
Garnet and Mikoto who had listened to the whole thing exchanged a quick look at each other, then started giggling; only then, Zidane noticed that the other Genome's feet were slightly wet, like she had not the time to dry after a bath.
"What's with you two?" he asked with a fake frown on his face.
"Oh, nothing," Garnet answered "it's just, it's something you would say, Zidane."
It was clear they knew something, but he dismissed the thought as just girly stuff. And like he said, Beatrix could have used a break, and if Rusty had nothing to complain, the better.
"I guess so. Well then, what's next in the program?"

-0-

Just taking the first step in the passage, Freya knew she was about to experience something completely new: an intense aroma and heat pervaded her as steam vapors rushed to her direction, pulling her worries and tireness away, letting her feeling as if her body had no weight. She only needed to take a few more steps before seeing a spectacle that left her speechles.
It was an enormous hot spring like she had never seen before, it paled in comparison to the main cities' bath houses and even to the sacred room in Master Gizamaluke's Grotto; statues of the edilon Leviathan were constantly spewing water from the side and in the back of the room, an intense red glow was pulsating from the wall, meaning that Alexander's core must have been behind that. She noticed that the spring looked more like a miniature lake, since the floor had a diving curve, leaving the far end of the place with more water than the one on the side she was on. The water, a crystal clear transparent over the cyan of the spring floor, was constantly emitting vapors, no doubt thanks to the heat of the core, and the air was filled with a pleasent smell of roses, vanilla, levander and wolfsbane.
Beatrix closed the passage behind them and put a hand on the dragoon's shoulder. "Isn't it beautiful?" she said "The perfect place to relax undisturbed, with water pulled from the moat and purified by the eidolon's blessing."
"This has to consume a lot of water, and the steam has to come out of somehwere;" said the dragoon pointing at the various statues "they managed to make it unnoticeble?"
"Well, i'm not an expert, but apparently the Lindblum engineers took inspiration from designs in Daguerreo and built a series of underground tubes that push the vapors up in the mountains without being noticed. There, the steam condenses, rains on top of the peaks and it reinforces the rivers including the one that helps the castle's moat. Of course, we had to redirect some of the airship traffic because of that, but there have been no losses so far and noone suspects anything."
Freya remembered someone telling during her travels that the peaks between Alexandria and Lindblum were not safe anymore because of constant heavy rains and snowings, and some dragons had to move their nests from there as a result, but she never guessed that phenomenon would have been done artificially.
She turned towards Beatrix and asked with a smile "So you brought me here secretly to have a bath with you? It's impressive, i admit, but you think this is what will make me feel better?", only to realize the general had startet stripping already, revealing her body. While her normal combat uniform wasn't super tight or covering like a suit of armor, the Burmecian wasn't expecting her physique to be this toned, with byceps and abs forged by the training and the countless fights, wich had also procured the many scars on the general's shoulders, back and even some on her sides and the generous breasts. Even without her silver eyepatch, the scar over her right part of her face somehow contributed in the warrior's beauty. Overall, immersed in all that steam, the Alexandrian was a gorgeous war goddess, and Freya was feeling her heart galloping at her sight.
"Well, is it working?" asked Beatrix playfully.
"Y-yes..." was all that Freya could muster.
"Then take off your heavy armor, soldier, and join me; the water is great, trust me. I hope you can swim!" said with a wink. Then she slowly entered the spring and started swimming towards the other side.
The Burmecian recomposed herself and decided since the steam and perfumes had gave her a good first impression it was worth a try after all, so she removed her coat, her amor, her helmet and her clothes one by one, wich she put in a corner, spearated from the general's. Her spear next to the Save the Queen greatsword resting on the wall were kinda cute, she thought as she removed the last thing, her greaves. She had no problem standing naked in the presence of other people, her military training had included adapting to that situation, and it was there she had discovered she was attracted to females as well; a "rite of passage" as it was called by the other recruits at the barracks. While in the years she had developed strong romantic feelings for Sir Fratley, for one reason or the other she never had the occasion to consume with him, and as such almost all her sexual experiences had been with other female Burmecians and humans alike, with Zidane being the only exceptions in the times they had med before the war. Ironically, what had been the strongest love of her life had turned out to be the sourest in the end.
With a bit of hesitation, Freya dipped her feet in the spring, and while she started walking more and more into it, she felt as if more and more of her fatigue was melting away, her body so light that when she started swimming, she thought she was flying. Beatrix had already made two rounds of the place, but she slowed the pace to stay near the dragoon for a while; they kept like that for some minutes, then went to rest to the shallow end, sitting on the floor and submerged to their shoulders.
"Can you feel it?" asked Beatrix after taking a deep breath, her wet hair leaning on one side "All the day's stress, all the fatigue, all the impurities, dissolving like dust and letting you enjoy life, being happy with no worries."
Freya had to agree, she was feeling great, full of energy, with renewed desire to put her speed and strenght to the test once more. From top to bottom, her body was feeling new life, almost as if this was a baptism of sort, and she owed this to a woman that had some years ago wanted dead at all costs. She smiled at the irony.
"Who knows about this place other than you?" she asked after a minute.
"Everyone who worked on it, essentially:" answered the general "some engineers of Lindblum, including Erin, queen Garnet, Vivi's children and Eiko. We made sure to not spread the word too much, we wanted this place to remain a secret for few, but we are allowed to invite those who we think we can trust; i was introduced here by the queen, and so was Mikoto."
She put some water on her head to keep her hair wet before continuing "Eiko is too young for this place, and while it took a while to convince her, she understood in the end, although i was mentioned she said "she was gonna work on it", no wonder what she meant by that. And Vivi's children can keep secrets just fine, but in general we maintain a sacred rule of Alexandria, allowing only women in here. It is a very private place, if you get me."
"And you did this just to help me?" suddenly Freya realized that the general may have done that not just for her, but also for herself.
"Well... when i saw you at the pub reduced like that, i knew i had to do something, i barely recognized your spirit; and you know i'm still atoning for my actions..."
"You know time has passed and the wounds are healing, you didn't have to. It's true that not every Burmercian can forgive you, and i don't blame them since it's their choice, but i know personally well that you are honest about your will to make amends, so you don't have to prove anything to me." said Freya while watering her hair as well. "Vengeance... is something so futile, i realized that in my journey. If there is even an inkling of possibility of help in order to rebuild what was destroyed, that's what matters the most. More violence doesn't bring back the deads of violence."
"Thank you. But reguardless, i thought this might have been... helpful to you. And i can see it's working," added with a smile "so i'm not regretting it at all."
"Y-yeah, thanks..."
It had begun for a while now, but the combination of the heat, the perfumes, the tightness of the water on her body and the presence of the general's body nearby were starting to make Freya extremely excited, but she didn't knew how to openly act in front of the Alexandrian, so her face was slightly in pain. Beatrix noticed that and giggled a bit before taking the hand of the Burmecian.
"You are feeling "that" too, right? A progressive sense of arousal, yeah. The queen has built this place also for women to... enjoy themselves, if you know what i mean. A sort of callback to the old Alexandrian civilisation's habits."
Freya blushed; is this what was really happening? And while she had sex with other girls before, like the prostitutes of Treno, the idea of doing it with Beatrix was making her feeling... something more.
"Do not worry," added quickly the Alexandrian "what happens here stays in here if you want; the queen partakes in these activities as well, but her love and loyalty for the king has not dimished one bit. This is also why we haven't allowed Eiko in here for now."
"I..." tried to say Freya, blushing even more "...i don't know what to say. I feel so better right now, i owe this much all to you, and you're so beautiful." She was losing more and more control.
"I'm flattered." the general responded docily, while getting close to her, the water now separating them only a bit. "They say these waters have magical properties because of the eidolon's blessing, that they can heal physical wounds other than spirits, but my right eye is still blind and my scars are still present." She slowly touched one she had on her right shoulder while saying it.
Maybe because of the hotness, maybe for the escalating situation, Freya took courage, positioned herself in front of the general and touched the scar as well, playing her finger on its curve and closing in. "I don't think they're bad, they are a testament to all your accomplishments, mementos of your life," then whispered in her ear "and they are making you look so hot right now."
This prompted Beatrix to giggle. "I told you to come here sober, you know." she said in a fake apprehensive tone.
"This place makes me drunk on its own, and i want to get drunk on you now."
And with that, Freya closed the distance and planted a kiss on the general's lips, a simple one to start but that quickly evolved when Beatrix showed she liked what was happening by opening her mouth and pushing with her tongue. Freya had kissed humans before, so despite their species' different facial shapes, she had managed to learn quickly how to make out, so the invitation she was recieving was welcomed in the best way possible. Their tongues twisted and danced in the intensity as the Burmecian felt electric jolts coursing through her spine, a sensation she hadn't felt in ages.
"Mh! Mh! Mh!" Freya kept moaning as her mind was melting from that ecstasy alone.
While keeping the kiss, Beatrix pushed the next step by firmly grabbing one of Freya's breasts, wich made her give even more muffled moans as the hand rotated and pinched the nipple, tormenting it; the other hand grabbed one of the Burmecian's asscheeks, playing with her tail a bit and making sure she would stay in place. The dragoon on the other hand rested her arms around the woman's neck.
Finally the two had to break the kiss for a bit in order to catch up on air, but the human did not stopped her groping, and in fact, went for the other nipple by taking it into her mouth. Both of the girls were still heavily breathing.
"W-wait-ah!-..." tried to say Freya between breaths "what if some-AH!-n entered now, -ah!-..."
"It's ok, when someone is in the place, the door can be locked from the inside, and people who come then know that it's occupied because the mechanism doesn't work." answered calmly "It's like a "Do not disturb" sign. We are all alone here" added with a grin.
"You cheeky cyclops..." Freya knew she had been played like a fiddle, but at that point coulnd't care less and she had agreed despite suspicions anyway. She faked an angered look only to kiss her briefly again. Those red rose lips were so unresistable now.
"I knew it was sexual tension in the end."
"What?" she asked with small perplexion.
"Your angst at the pub. You are just not feeling satisfied, i could recognize that. I've been there too."
"You are so diabolical, you know that?" said Freya with a fake death glare.
"Does that mean we should stop?"
"I haven't said that."
"Then come, turn and sit here on my lap," continued Beatrix while pulling away from her chest "i promise you'll not regret it."
The dragoon reluctantly did that, since she would have preferred to continue the kiss. She adjusted her hair on one side and sit giving her back to the woman, feeling her breasts pressed against it. After hugging her for a bit and kissing her head, Beatrix quickly used her left hand to massage the Burmecian's shoulder and back, while descending onto her breasts, while the other started caressing her belly underwater before moving onto her right leg, all the while planting small kisses on her neck and behind her ears. Freya felt the jolts once more and started breathing heavily again and covered her mouth, barely able to speak at all but afraid of screaming: she was completely at the mercy of the general.
Then Beatrix proceeded to attack directly by moving her right hand near her victim's crotch, at first moving slowly, then caressing the clitoris for bit, and then planting two fingers insider her. The dragoon was pressing her back against the woman, her body almost completely submerged in the hot water.
"Noone can hear us," whispered Beatrix in one ear, slowing her movements "you can scream to your heart's content."
"I... I...." she tried to say, but couldn't for how her mind was scrambling at the moment.
"Say it. " she wanted to toy with her so badly. "Say you're mine and i'll let you come."
"I... anf... please..."
"I can't hear you."
The pressing of the fingers on her fur and skin underwater combined with how the liquid was pressing against her was driving her crazy.
"I... i'm yours..."
"Say it louder."
The teasing was agonizing.
"I'm yours!"
"Louder!"
And in a mutual understanding, Freya played her part "I... I'M YOURS!"
Responding to her command, the human resumed her assault, her fingers squeezed inside the other's vagina and in a few seconds, the Burmecian's body spasmed violently while starting to emitt a glow, until with a burst of light, she came while changing her appearance. Just like in battle, she had entered a purple Trance state thanks to the surge of emotions and the constant excitment she was feeling. It was a spectacle like no other, and Beatrix basked into that.
While Freya was turning back to normal, Beatrix released her only to sustain her head for fear of her being too weakened, but that wasn't the case; the Burmecian just took a deep breath, passed a hand on her head in order to readjust her hair, then sit back near the general, this time resting on her shoulder. "That..." she said after a minute or two "that was amazing, i don't think i have felt this good at all in my life."
"Glad to know. I win my battles on the field and in bed if i want." answered the Alexandrian with a smile while adjusting her own hair, then kissing her on her forehead.
The dragoon was watering her hair when she realized something: "I have never done it in the water, actually, now that i think of." she said "Maybe it was that, it's like a new sensation altogether."
This made Beatrix' eyes shine: "If you thought that was amazing," she said "you have yet to experience the best this place can offer."
Freya startled a bit: if with just a simple romantic fingering she got those results, what could have happened with kink applied to the equation? She wasn't a stranger to playful games when it came to make love, hence why also she had understood in letting the human be the dominant in her session. She still remembered one of the times she had been with Zidane where she had doned a full on corset, garter belt and whip, that surely had been a night to remember.
"You see," continued Beatrix "ever since i was introduced to this place, i've started enjoying pleasuring myself while completely submerged underwater, it seems it's something that everyone who enter here eventually experience and can't go back from. Can you hold your breath for long, Freya?"
She didn't knew exactly: while she had been trained to resist high mountain places with scarse oxygen and knew how to swim, she hadn't put these combined skills to the test in diving, as there were no water dragons that had required her assistance. And while she had experienced a new type of pleasure just now, doing that with a costriction like the lack of breathing was a different thing altogether.
When she responded to the human, her reaction was of understanding. "I can tell you the lack of air multiplies the pleasure exponentially, but it's not a practice that can be treaded lightly: there are many dangers, and i cannot guarantee you'll end up liking it. You have to be ok with taking that risk."
The Burmecian thought deeply for a bit, then nodded her consense: she had experienced weirder and more dangerous things and so far she had felt like in heaven, so this was worth trying.
"Good, since i know a way to test things out on an easy level."
"How so?"
"First of all, are you ready for another round?", said raising an eyebrow with a smile.
Freya hugged herself for a second, almost to check both internally and externally, then she nodded positively again.
"And are you still ok with me being in charge?"
She nodded once more. In response, Beatrix grinned again while holding herself on the border of the spring, moved her back and her hips so that she could float on the surface, spreading her legs to reveal her vagina, wich was already internally wet. "Then i think it's my turn to feel good, don't you think?" she said while making an invitation gesture "Be a good girl and claim your reward. We start from the surface, then i'll dunk you under. When you think you cannot hold it anymore, tap me two times. If i ask and you think you can keep going, tap once. Understood?"
Freya gulped down and nodded one last time, determined, then she swam slowly towards Beatrix until she found herself between her legs. The water wasn't still too high, so she sat on her knees and held her arms on the woman's toned abs, caressing her with one of her long fingers.
She started by planting small kisses and licks on the right thigh, then on the left one, and then slowly and getly began to lick the lips in front of her. Beatrix started shivering in pleasure, and resisted her instincts in order to stay afloat for the moment.
"Ah, that's it, that's the spot-oh!-"
This went on for a bit, Freya wanted to go easy at first and only start seriously when she would have had to dive under, wich she knew may have happened at any moment now. And a few seconds later, Beatrix looked at her, put a hand on her hair while telling it was time, and after taking a deep breath, she was pulled under the water opposing no resistance, with the general's thighs locking on her back and pressing on her neck. On her part, the human had now the chance to stand on a more comfortable position, while keeping an eye on her dominated companion, all the while feeling the ripples of pleasure from her work.
While it gave her a slight blurry vision, the water wasn't hurting Freya's eyes. Everything went fine at first, she kept eating Beatrix out, only now with a finger slipped in to make her feel even better, while as for herself, she wasn't feeliing too different from before, only a few small bubbles escaped from her mouth while using her tongue on the sex in front of her, her body pressed on the spring's floor by those beautiful legs. Soon enough though, the lack of regular breathing started taking its tool both ways, as the dragoon felt both a small pain in her chest and at the same time an increased sense of excitment, just like before.
"Ughl-"
She left some bubbles out of her mouth accidentally for the surprise, but she could still keep going, so she tried to speed things up. But she was new to this, so the pain kept increasing.
"Mmhplg-"
She lost more air after her cheeks puffed up, but she could still make it. Beatrix in the meantime was in pure ecstasy, but she was still keeping an eye on Freya and saw that she was spewing bubbles regularly now. She tapped her to check if everything was alright and recieved one tap, meaning they could continue, although the general feared her partner may have been too overconfident.
"Heavens, you know how to please someone, dear." she said between one heavy breath and the other; then she felt the movements slowing down and tapped Freya again. Not recieving an answer, she opened her legs and used her arms to pull up the Burmecian, wich turned out to still be fine while coughing some minor spurts of water.
"w-why did you picked me up?" she said weakly between one coff and the other.
"You didn't responded to my asking: it is important that you do that, because otherwise i may think you're drowning, and that's the last risk you want to take for this."
"i... had everything under -sniff- control, you know."
"No you didn't. Look, you're new to this and i know it can be intoxicating, but take things slowly and everything will be fine..."
"...put me back down, i'm not done."
"...You're not even listening to me, are you?"
"no."
One small pause later, Beatrix shook her head. "Fine, as you wish. But i warned you." and allowed her to take another deep breath before submerging her again. Freya immediately put her mouth to use again, causing the human to convulse in pleasure again.
"Oh you are one sick pervert-" she said through her teeth, while she was experiencing vibrations from head to feet. She grabbed the hair of the Burmecian and pushed her more onto her body.
The sudden shift made Freya lose some bubbles, but she was still fresh; in the meantime, she had put her free hand on her own crotch, pleasuring herself while pleasuring her partner, the tightness of the water surrounding her entirely. Her tongue danced with her finger, as the emotional surge started building up again inside her.
She didn't knew how much time passed exactly, but the pain in the chest returned as well eventually, forcing her to puff her cheeks slightly. She was determined to succeed at all costs now.
"Mmmh-"
Resisting the urge to expelling air was difficult now, a small bubble trail was already escaping her nose.
"Mh... glorp-"
She released some air wich gave her small release, only for the pain to come back immediately after. The hand on her hair tapped to see if everything was alright, and she responded with one tap; she was so close now.
"Ugh... rubl-"
More air escaped her mouth as both her and the human were reaching their climax. Freya could feel her tongue and finger getting squeezed so she prepared to recieve her reward, while on her part, the Trance glow started building again. And not too long after, both came, as a Tranced Freya recieved both Beatrix' juices and water in her mouth, the rest of her air escaping in a flurry of bubbles as she let a gurgling scream of her immense pleasure.
"Glaaahrgr!”
Instinctively, she tried to breath, only to get water in retun, wich made her choke and place a hand on her mouth, but it was already too late. Spasm after spasm, what remained of her air dissipated, her lungs emptied. When the legs started releasing her, she was feeling too weak and her vision started fading away, her mouth open as water rushed through her. "Am i... dying?" thought while on the hot spring floor. "If so... i wouldn't mind..." The last thing she felt was a pair of hands taking her.

-0-

Freya woke up discovering she was clothed again, in her battle uniform, and looking around quickly discovered she was in a familiar place, one that she had been with Zidane and the others before. And just as she was getting up using her spear as help, then she heard a familiar voice from above.
"We haven't met in a long time, child."
"You..." she said "you're the one we had to fight after Kuja killed us!"
"It is i, Necron, spirit of the Void."
She put a hand to her chest, almost to confirm if her heart was still beatingl. No vibrations.
"So is this it? Am i dead?"
"Not quite, child;" said the voice "albeit eventually you'll return to me like everyone and everything, you're just here temporarely, i cannot touch you. Your companion is strong, she's doing all in her power to bring you back and so i shall grant her request. Now breathe."
"...what?"
"Breathe."
"I don't understand, i am breathing right n-"
"BREATHE!" the voice thundered a third time, shattering the world around like it was made of glass, leaving a black void.

-0-

"Breathe, damn you!" was shouting Beatrix, pushing her hands on Freya's chest and administrating CPR in her mouth. "You stubborn fool, i knew i should have trusted my instincts!"
At that moment, a convulsion pervaded the Burmecian and she started expelling water, taking in huge breaths after. She weakly got up to discover she was on the floor near the water, the Alexandrian near her hugging her, both still naked.
"What did i told you?" yelled the general "You almost died down there, you had a death wish or something?!"
Freya stopped looking her in the eyes, moving her face to a side. "I'm... i'm sorry," she said "it's just that... it's like you said, i was feeling -coff- even better than before. There really is something more in doing it under this con-coff- constriction."
"Yes, but you still need to look after yourself, dammit!"
A moment of silence passed, before the dragoon put herself together and spoke again.
"Was i... at least good for you?"
Beatrix kept looking angerly at her for a couple of second, then sighed. "...yeah." she said, resigned "You're the one who has satisfied me the most in a long time, i have to admit."
"So technically, i won this battle?" she asked with a faint smirk.
"Don't get cocky, soldier." the general replied "I call it a draw at best."
"Then i guess i'll need my chance another time."
"Yeah."
"..."
After another moment of silence, both of them laughed, sitting there on the hot floor still soaked, their forehead pressed against each other. Two souls of different species that once were in stark contrast, now kindred in that steamy room.
"Hey." said Freya after.
"What?"
"Thank you. For everything. You have brought me back to life twice now." and gave her a long chaste kiss.
"You are welcome, Freya. I'm happy to see you relieved of your burdens." said caressing her cheek with a hand. "So what are you gonna do now?"
"I don't even know what time it is, but i'll have to get ready for my mission in the morning..."
"Poppycock!" said Beatrix with a small laugh "I'll send an infiltration team to do that and will give you the reward later. You need to rest now, girl."
"But i need to get back to the tavern, and..."
"Hush, i know what to do, don't worry."

-0-

Freya woke up in the feathery bed of Beatrix' room; the general had managed to have them sneak back in since the tunnel was connected among other places the queen's room, and noone had noticed them. After that the Burmecian had one of the best nights of sleep she had in years, while having the heat of the human's body next to her keeping her company.
When she woke up, she discovered she was alone in the bed, but the room wasn't empty at all. Other than Beatrix in full uniform, Garnet and Mikoto were there, the former sitting on a chair with her hands united in curiosity.
"Good morning, Freya." said the queen in a peaceful tone "I hope you slept well."
"Y-your majesty... i..." she scrambled a bit with the night dress she had been given and jumped off the bed immediately to kneel, but Dagger reassured her with a gesture.
"Don't worry, my friend, you can be at ease here. So," she continued "Beatrix informed me you have come to know our castle's... little secret."
Freya looked at the general, wich was blushing slightly and trying to avoid eye contact.
"I'm sorry if i caused any prolem, i..." started saying the dragoon, but Garnet interrupted her again.
"On the contrary, i was considering inviting you personally one of these days, i guess my general had more sagacity.", said giggling. "Of course, i'll need your complete discretion on the subject, but i know i can count on you."
"Indeed you can, and i extend my thanks to you as well for creating that room. It brought me a new desire for living."
"Oh, i am so happy to hear that," the queen answered while clapping her hands "it was one of the reasons i reconstructed that room with the help of Alexander. So, i take you'll be back soon? Me and the others are curious to see you... maintaing your relax, if you understand my words." the last bit spoken with a pint of seductiveness.
Mikoto just nodded, confirming what Dagger was saying, and so did Beatrix.
"If it's ok with you, your highness, it will be my pleasure." Freya answered with a smile, deepening her kneeing. Garnet clapped again, giggling like a little girl who had recieved a present.
"Splendid! Now, Beatrix told me you had a mission, but we're taking care of that now. If you don't mind dressing up again, can you come with us in the main hall?" the queen winked "I want to give a surprise to my king".

-0-

Zidane was still recovering from the hangover of the night before, resting his head on a head while sitting on the throne. It was a good thing there were supposedly no audiences that day, because his head was as if a storm of Hilgigars had decided to play a game of jump the rope. The festival had been a complete success and everyone had left calmly after things had calmed down, and he and Garnet had spent a fantastic night in bed. But now he was feeling like trash.
"I'm getting old, jeez..."
At that moment, Steiner entered the room, so the Genome had to stand up and pretend to be receptive, lest Rusty would give him a lecture again.
"Ahem! Your highness, it seems you have a visitor today, an old friend of yours."
"Oh?" Zidane was surprised, he wondered who could it be "Let it in, i'm... ready to recieve it. I think."
The door of the room opened to reveal Garnet, Mikoto and Beatrix leading his old companions, and Freya was there too. "I though yesterday's festival wasn't really enough for a reunion," explained the queen "so, since today we were free, i managed to gather the gang back together for a more private party. I thought you would have loved it."
Suddenly, the headache was gone like dust in the wind. "Now this is a surprise!" he exclaimed, jumping off the throne and running towards his friends, welcoming them one by one. He especially thanked Freya, and she mentioned that her mission had been taken care of already, allowing her to be present. By how she smelled it was almost as she had killed a marshmallow more than a dragon.
The party had a small feast with what had remained of the night before, wich was still in pristine conditions. Eiko was tormenting Quina on how the Qu had become so good, but the cook as usual was responding in the cryptic way of the tribe. Freya was talking a bit with Amarant, both of them smiling and then she gave him a generous pat on his back, while chugging away dwarven beer from Conde Petie. Zidane noticed also that the dragoon had set near Beatrix, and occasionally the two were talking openly; "It's good that they've buried their animosity," thought the Genome "and Freya looks much more solar than yesterday. I wonder what happened for her to change like that so soon."
The king raised from his chair and lifted his cup for a toast. "Guys," he said "i... i'm humbled to have friends like you who could join me in this day after everything we went throught. I couldn't ask for better companions, truly. To the prosperity of Gaia and to us!"
"Spoken like a true king!" approved Steiner, wich made the others giggle a bit.
Freya raised her chalice, looking briefly at Beatrix while she looked back at her smiling. Near Zidane, Garnet quickly winked at them. It truly was feeling like a new beginning towards something great.
"To the prosperity of Gaia and to us!" toasted everyone.

Chapter Text

The storm was brewing in full force, and the crew was barely able to steer the ship in the direction they wanted. Erin was trying her best to hold the ropes, but the rain was making everything slippery and her clothes heavy on her. She felt weak, and tried asking for help, but noone came to her aid. The rope pulled her and she got catapulted on the other side of her ship, banging her head on the floor. The impact left her dizzy, and she barely got up, only to not notice the boom, moving like a missile due to having lost control, hand hitting her in the chest, causing all her air to rush out her lungs instantaneously.
The force this time pulled her off board, plunging her into the ocean, the roaring of the storm and the moving ship reduced to muffled sounds the moment she started to go under.
She had no more strenght or air in her lungs, so she was sinking like a stone, barely able to experience what was happening around her.
"ERIN!!!"
Someone called her name, but she was already gone, raptured by the coldness of the sea.

-0-

Erin woke up panicking, her head sweating profusely. It was a miracle she didn't screamed, but she knew better than disturbing her companions, still asleep in the dark room. It was the second month of work in Alexandria for her and the other engineers of Lindblum on this room queen Garnet wanted to construct, an ambitious project that involved tubes both in and out of the castle, all done in absolute secrecy. And ever since, she had started having those nightmares again, plaguing her dreams; her companions had deemed them as just stress, but she thought there was something more than that. Besides, she was more navigated with veichels and usually preferred piloting them, this wasn't what she had studied for.
She forced herself to calm down: the job was almost done, then she could go back to Lindblum and pilot the Hilda Garde IV, there was nothing to be worried about.

-0-

"And with that, the preparations should be completed, queen Garnet." reported the lead engineer. The queen had took time from her royal duties to personally supervised the work and to make sure none of the workers had trouble with the core of the eidolon. Along her were Vivi's children, standing silently in group not too distant from her, and the other remaining summoner of Gaia, Eiko Carol, analyzing the room with her big child eyes.
"Splendid!" exclaimed Dagger, radiantly "Then we need to test it out. Do you mind if i ask for a volunteer from you guys?"
"Ooh, why can't i be the volunteer?" puffed Eiko tugging her dress "I helped too you know."
The queen kneeled down and put her hands on her shoulders: "Only when you grow up, Eiko." answered her "Now this is where the adults take over."
The little summoner planted her feet on the ground "Really? Then i'll work hard over this and grow up before you know it!" and ran out of the room. The little black mages looked briefly at Garnet, nodded, understanding what they needed to do and went away as well.
The engineers were a little embarassed, didn't knew how to answer after that. Then one of them felt the need to be a prankster.
"Actually, your highness," said "Erin here has been stressed the most from what she told us, she's perfect for testing things out."
Erin instantly became red from the embarassment, and took mental note of kicking the guy's ass when they would have got back to Lindblum.
"Ah, Erin, i remember you." spoke the queen "Is it true?"
She took a bit to answer, but finally said "Y-yes, the working fatigue and some personal stuff have weakened me a bit. B-but i can assure you i did my job and the room should work flawlessly!"
"We shall see." answered Garnet with a smile, then turned to the other engineers "I already mentioned this to you, but it bears repeating: on your Lindblum military code, the level of secrecy for the construction of this room is Hildagarde tier. Noone has to know it, Cid will recieve an official report stating that your work was in fixing our airships and the castle's pipes, as will my king Zidane. Each of you will recieve adequate compensation for your discretion on the subject, so rest assure your efforts are appreciated."
Each of the engineers left the room one by one saluting Garnet and telling Erin they'll catch up later; she was almost boiling in her dress for the shame, this was literally the last thing she wanted to happen.
When the last Lindblumian left the room, the queen closed it and tested if the locking mechanism worked, then turned to Erin. "So, how does this thing start?" she asked.
Erin quickly recomposed herself as best as she could and answered. "Yes, right. Here, your majesty, it's all in this control panel." she pointed "If you wish to start the water cycle, you have to pull this level. The castle's moat will decrease its level, but according to our calculations, with the cycle we constructed it should recoup its normality in a day or two. I'd suggest personally to warn any airship traffic to stay out of the peaks when it happens, such high concentration of rain would be lethal for a travelling veichle."
"And how about the perfumes?"
"They need to be recharged every 4 month of use, we placed the barrels behind a fake moving wall in order to not occupy space in the room."
Garnet was extremely pleased by this. "Excellent." she said giggling "Then pull the lever, Erin."
"...your highness?" she was fearing this was gonna happen.
"Might as well give a complete test here, i chose you as volunteer for a specific reason."
With a sigh, the sailor pulled the contraption: in just a couple of seconds, the Leviathan statues started pouring water in the spring that had been digged, filling it just at the right amount.
"Right, while we wait for the water to heat," continued Dagger "why don't we talk a bit and you tell me what's bothering you?"
Erin kept blushing; she feared her nightmares at this point were an omen for this moment. She wanted to be everywhere but there now.
And then the heat of Alexander's core started heating the water, and a mixture of steam and perfumes started pervading the air, and as soon as she inhaled it she felt more at ease for some reason. Almost as she could confide herself with Garnet. Was the project she and the others had worked on for months that effective in how theurapetic was described by her?
The queen had arrived behind her in the meantime and had put her hands on her shoulders, massaging them a bit. "Come on," she said "you can tell me everything. You and the others made the room soundproof as well anyway, remember?"
"W-well..." Erin started mumbling "it's been a while since i had some nightmares tied to somthing that happened when i was a kid."
"I see." she responded understandingly "Please, continue."
"I was like 16 back then, was serving under one Regent Cid's fleet captains; we were out there in the ocean for training. Due to the mist, we couldn't see too much and had to rely on our equipment, but weather was something we couldn't predict and so we couldn't see a storm coming."
There was a small pause, before she could continue.
"We were in a bad spot, the storm was throwing us around like a log on a river, with no control. And supposedly at the peak of it, i got thrown overboard and drowned."
"You didn't knew how to swim?"
"I knew, but the currents were too strong and i was weakened by the storm itself. I dunno who saved me, but when i woke up i was back in Lindblum, being told they had found me on the port' shore unconcious."
Garnet stopped for a second and turned Erin around. "And you still pursued your carreer?" she asked. She remembered how the engineer had become eventually the pilot for veichles like the Blue Narciss and the Hilda Garde III, and even after the disappearence of the Iifa Tree she still maintained her job.
"I couldn't let an accident affect my life, my parents were counting on me succeeding. And until now, i thought i had put past all that, but..."
"But...?"
"...ever since i started working on this room i had these nightmares where i re-live that moment only as myself now. And it doesn't get less stressing than then."
Garnet left her stay silent for a while, then asked "Well, thanks for telling me, and i think it was for the best; one reason i've made you people build this room is for women to relieve themselves from their stress, and you seem to fit the bill nicely. So", she continued "i think the water's ready. Do you mind keeping me company?"
Erin blushed again. "R-right now? Your highness, i..."
"Please, call me Garnet here." the queen interruppted "And yes, please. Don't worry, i'm here to help you. This is a moment of privacy for us, so relax."
That being said, she started stripping completely and put her royal clothes on a bench on one of the borders. Then turned to the sailor and invited her with a hand gesture, while she started descending into the spring. Erin was astounded by the queen's beauty, and she couldn't believe she was seeing her naked.
She finally gathered courage and started stripping herself, placing aside her grease and dust-smelling fatigue suit and baggy pants on another bench and revealing her body to Dagger; compared to the queen, she had smaller breasts, a thinner physique, pubic hair and freckles all over her shoulders, back and chest. When she timidely started descending in the spring as well, Garnet took her hand.
"Oh gosh, you're so cute." she said "You should treat yourself better, girl, believe me. Come, follow me."
They swam the place for a bit to ease the body tension, and Erin felt as if something was happening to her, she was feeling lighter and the queen was looking more and more beautiful. They finally stopped and rest in the shallow end.
"Ah, this feels great." said Dagger "It's exactly like i imagined it, i can't wait to fully use this place. So, are you feeling better, Erin?"
"I, i think so, actually." said the sailor after a second, more surprised than skeptic "I'm not feeling tired anymore from the fatigue of today."
"That's great to hear, darling. You see, those nightmares meant nothing after all." and put a hand on her shoulder
At that moment, a flash ran through Erin's spine and mind, as she started reliving her memory again. Only that the cold, brewing seawater plagued by the storm was now replaced by the calm, steamy water of the spring. She felt a jolt almost like a cramp, as she ended up under the surface, unable to move, blowing her air from her mouth with no control. Once more, she heard someone yelling her name and then she saw a giant fish eye staring at her like it was judging her death.
She suddenly regained conscience and with her last energy pulled herself up in time, sputtering water while clenching her throat. Garnet was there holding her up, asking what happened, and when she explained, the queen thought of something.
"Wait, could it be?" she said to herself "Erin, i think i know what happened that day. Someone saved you from that accident and brought you back to Lindblum, and i know who it is."
"Really?" said the sailor between coffs "And who is it?"
"The eidolon Leviathan you see statues of in this very room. Now it makes sense why you'd have those nightmares: i'm bound to him ever since i formed a covenant with him, and this project got you close to me, but you were'nt able to figure out what was happening. He was trying to tell you."
"Leviathan saving sailors? Now that's new, it's a sea monster that swallows ship entirely, why would he want to help me?"
"The eidolons work in mysterious ways." said the queen "My race knew more about them, but only i and Eiko are left and we still don't know much, most of the knowledge has been lost. If i have to guess, he knew you'd have been important in helping me and Zidane saving the world." added with a smile.
"I, i don't think i did much, your h-ehm, Garnet." but she admitted to herself that now that the queen had explained her theory, she was feeling less burdened like a minute before. In addition, the effect she had before about being enticed by the queen's beauty was increasing, making her feel hot between her legs.
Almost to answer that, Dagger said "Boy, all this tension and the steam are making things hotter, Erin, let's ease things up. Tell me, do you have someone to return to when you'll go back to Lindblum?"
She shook her head "No, miss. My family is gone, i live my life for the city and the Regent; if i want leisure i go play Tetra Master in the districts."
"But you don't have a special one? A boyfriend?" Garnet got close "A girlfriend maybe?"
"N-no, sorry." she answered "Never had a love interest. I don't think i'm pretty enough and i never liked boys, but there's no place for... you know... someone like me in the engineer's guild, so i prefer staying alone."
Garnet pouted at that "That's awful!" she said "You're doing a disservice to you! Now i know i picked the right choice for this test."
"Wa... what do you mean?"
"You have great potential inside you, but you repress it, you need to let it roar, and i think you're in the right place with the right person."
Erin pulled some sweat from her forehead. She thought she understood where the queen was going, but wanted to ask anyway to be sure. "And... what do you suggest?"
Dagger got close to her until their bodies almost touched. "Just leave things to me, i promise you'll get out of here as a new person." whispered before closing the distance and kissing her.
Her lips tasted like cherry and were soft like a flower's petals. Erin had never been kissed in her life, so this was a complete new experience from her, immersed in that hot liquid she herself helped create. And to top it off, she was being kissed by the queen of Alexandria, of all people! Wars had been fought for less, she had to be very confident to not being found out.
Erin basked in that kiss until the queen pulled away. "Let me guess," se said "your first?"
"Y-yeah..." answered the sailor with a soft smile.
"Gah, you're so adorable! So, did you liked it?"
"I... yeah, i did," said Erin "but q-Garnet, you're married and you're royalty. You know-"
"Hush." she shut her by placing a finger on her lips "I said already this is a moment of privacy for both of us. My love for Zidane hasn't dwindled nor is being compromised. The old queens of Alexandria used to partake in... private moments like this with other women all the time, without halting their engagements. So please," she said taking her hands and kissing one of them "endulge me and i shall repay you in kind in this place. It will be our little secret, like friends with benefits, i think you call the term."
"Friends with benefits..." repeated Erin slowly. She was liking the term with each second, and so the hotness in her was growing: this may have been her chance after all. She smiled and nodded positively.
"Of course, the only thing i ask you is to not make mention of this to anyone, but it was already in your working contract, so it's just another thing added for that." continued Garnet with her hands clasped together.
The sailor swallowed a lump and nodded again, then took some courage and leaned forward, kissing the queen again. Dagger was taken by surprise, but immediately adjusted, and teased the girl by opening her mouth, inviting her. Erin was clumsy, but knew how to adapt, so she timidely poke her tongue out and danced with Garnet's for a while, enjoying each passage she was making. The queen pushed her while holding her hands with hers, both of their heads being the only thing sticking out of the water surface.
When they finally break out, Erin held herself on the edge of the spring, breathing. "Wow," she gasped "is this real?"
"Very real, my dear, and we only started." said the queen playfully. The sailor looked at her puzzled, then connected the dots and blushed again a bit.
"As you said, Garnet, it's my first time. Are you sure it's ok?"
"Absolutely," she answered "and it gives me a reason to test another thing tied to this place. Do you trust me?"
"Yes, completely."
"Then please, stay in a floating position."
The sailor did just that, admiring in the meantime how the ceiling had been painted, using the combined black and white magic of the summoners and the black mages. Then she felt Garnet picking her one hand on her armpit, the other on her thigh, and proceeded to move towards the deep end of the spring. The water kept rising over the queen until it was touching her chin, at wich point she only said "Take a deep breath." before moving on and submerging them both.
Erin had managed to breath in enough, but she still put a hand over her mouth just for precaution, small bubbles tickling from it only once in a while; she had no idea what the other wanted to do, but she said to trust her and so she was doing. When the two arrived in the lowest point of the sping, she took a blurry look at Dagger and saw that she was doing just fine, it was almost as she wasn't even holding her breath. And then she did the impossible and started talking, albeit very slowly since most of the sound was coming out distorted.
"Surprised, right? It's the blessing of Leviathan i got when i forged a covenant with it under the Iifa Tree: now i can breathe and speak underwater freely, and i can adjust my air weight to sink and rise how i want in places like this."
"Blurgh!"
But at this point, Erin was at the end of her breath holding, she was letting more and more precious bubbles escape her mouth and wanted to spring towards the surface, but Garnet's grip was holding her tight. She put her other hand on her throat to communicate this.
"Oh, right, sorry." said the queen and leaning over, kissed the sailor again, sealing their mouths shut and breathing in air in her lungs. "Yeah, i can do this too." she said when she pulled away "Now, the reason i wanted to do it underwater is because i believe this situation may enhance our pleasure. You don't have to worry, when you need to breath remind me and i'll help you. Ok?"
The sailor nodded, then relaxed entirely, in the arms of the royal, who moved her hands on top of her. "There, like this, close your eyes and leave it all to me." said calmly, the only other sound Erin was hearing was the hot water running all around her suspended body, the hair of the two girls floating like man-o-wars.
Dagger started by passing two fingers on her face, tracing from her forehead, the closed eyes, the nose, arriving onto the sealed lips, pushing between the two in order to enter her mouth. Reluctantly, she opened it and allowed a bit of air to escape in exchange of those fingers, wich started to play with them; she sucked them and run her tongue around them, the lack of oxygen emphasising her increasing internal heat.
"Mmmh!"
She moaned loudly while trying to not lose more air, until Garnet thought it was enough: the queen pulled her fingers from the mouth and started running them again on her chin, then her neck, the small cavity between her shoulder and the base of her neck, and the middle of her a-cup chest. There, she toyed with her some more by slowly caressing her underboob, then trailed up until arriving at the nipple, wich she played with and pinched.
"Ahgrl!"
The surprise of novelty and intense arousal made Erin release a flurry of bubbles, but Garnet noticed that immediately and replenished the sailor's lungs while taking the chance to make out with her a bit. When she pulled off she traced back the finger trial with her tongue, licking the neck, the shoulder until she arrived at the breasts, taking a nipple in the mouth and sucking it. Her own bubbles emissions were more calm and controlled, reflecting how she was breathing through the liquid. Erin instead was reacting to her stimulation by expelling small bubbles in a tiny coloumn, floating upward to the surface.
"Uhhmmmrlr."
Garnet stopped for a second, admiring the bubbles and giggling a bit, then started moving again her fingers from the sailor's breast to her belly, her belly button, until she arrived at her pubic area, caressing her hair down there, wich was floating lazily in the water.
"You don't shave, i see. Cute." said the queen. Erin was preferring keeping it that way since she wasn't planning on having a partner and it wasn't causing her problems.
Dagger caressed the area around her crotch for a bit, playing with her hair, then moved onto her vagina, caressing the lips around, stopping on the clitoris for a second to give an extra pleasure boost, then said "And now, let it all out. Cast all your inhibitions and let passion run wild." and slowly pushed her fingers inside her. The sensation had Erin almost explode on the spot, she convulsed deeply while sputtering bubbles again; Garnet helped her not drowning once more, hearing her moans while distributing her air.
"Ahn! Ahn! Ah-"
The queen admired her victim for a second when she pulled off, the expression of pain and pleasure on her face with her puffed cheeks, her floating hair moving with each convulsion, her shoulders and chest covered in freckles spasming with her faster-beating heart, her hips moving rhythmically with her pushing and her toned legs running wildly in the water.
Erin was at her limit, she felt a glow inside her while the hotness of her body was about to explode from the torture of the summoner's fingers. And finally, she came opening her eyes and screaming a gurgling torrent of bubbles, as her juices flew out and mixed with the water. At that moment she swore she was seeing the giant eye from her dream, in that state of pure ecstasy immersed in those hot waters.
"AAAHRGHAAALGH-"
She felt herself being let go and she got a reminder that almost all her air was gone, she might as well go for the surface, while covering her mouth with her right hand. But as soon as she started ascending, something yanked her down.
"Mhlrg?"
She turned, surprised to see Garnet captured her ankle with a hand, while sucking on the other the juices she had just released that got stuck on them. The queen now was sporting a sinister grin as she turned up to see the distressed sailor.
"Sorry, we're not done here." said before pulling her down; Erin was surprised on how strong she could be, but imagined it was aplified underwater thanks to Leviathan's blessing. She even had small glowing eyes now that she got back to see her up close.
The queen kissed her again, then said "I want to play a game with you now. This is your last air replenishment for a while: you have to satisfy me before you run out or suffer... penalties." adding a smirk. Erin clearly had no choice in the matter so she had to nod agreement.
Garnet then pulled them up close, positioning herself so that their legs were not in each other's way but their crotches were able to touch each other, then grabbed her by the back of her head. "Of course it doesn't mean we can't kiss." said before doing just that "Just that you're on your own for now."
"Ughl."
Dagger started moving her hips up and down, rubbing her sex with Erin's, producing pleasure for both. Even if she just had an orgasm, she felt again immediately the fire in her, probably thanks to her youth and abstinence.
"Buhlrg-"
The rapid movements and the stress were bearing their fruits, since she started losing some bubbles from her mouth.
"Don't give up-" said Garnet between pushes "You're more talented for these things than you believe, trust me. Oh, you are indeed-AHBL"
The summoner was clearly enjoyng this with her bubbly exclamation, and while in pain, the sailor was too building up ecstasy.
"Uh-glarb-"
But that wasn't going to last forever, so she had better hurry. Shutting her mouth with a hand and with an adreline boost dictated by the urgency, she grabbed the queen's shoulder and started rubbing on her own, immediately feeling the difference.
"See-abl- i told you-abl- that." said Garnet, intending she approved.
The glow and heat were building up again, but this time Erin felt a similar source from her captor. She only had heard of the Trance state, a gift for the few who could master emotional surges into powerful combat forms, and the queen had that gift. The circumstances to see it in action though could have been better, since the sailor lost another gulp of air, but now she was so close, and felt Garnet was too. She needed to hurry.
"Graaagh!"
With her remaining strenght and air, she concentrated her activities until she felt movement building up inside her again. Only this time, Garnet bursted into light at the same time she came, revealing her golden form. Erin lazily tried to reach her with her hand, but her vision darkened out...

-0-

...only to pop up again not too long after, the now yellow queen had given her another breath. "You deserved it." she said "But now i think it's time you return to breathe normally. Come." and grabbed her while swimming for the surface, returning to her usual appearance in the process.
When they broke, Erin let out a scream and started breathing heavily again while she was returning on the ground. The queen was right beside her, adjusting her wet hair and planting a kiss on her freckled shoulder.
"You have been amazing down there, you know that?" she said "I'm so happy on how you handled the situation."
"I..." the sailor tried to said now that she had regained a rhythmic breath "...i'm glad to hear that. And i feel like my nightmares are over. Thanks, your highness."
"It's Garnet, come on." responded the other jokingly "Hey, i'd be glad if you came back once in a while, you know?"
"R-really?"
"Yes, i believe we can have more fun with this place, and not just us. I know a person or two who would be interested in here, you'd love them."
The engineer put a hand on her chest by surprise, she was definetly curious to know who these may turn out to be.
"Besides," the queen continued "i'm planning to work on a spell that can help one to have better breath holding, it would certainly come in hand."
"Y-yeah, definetly." said Erin, laughing.
The two stayed like that for a bit, their feet immersed in the hot water.
"Thanks again... Garnet." said the sailor after a while "I... i think i can find the courage i needed."
"You're welcome," she responded "and i don't regret choosing you for this test at all. Hope our next times will be even better than this!"

-0-

"Yo, Erin. So what happened?" asked one of the engineers once the sailor finally came back on the airship directed to Lindblum.
"Not much." she lied "She asked me to test the controls threw some steam in my face and then sent me to relax in the library with a meal from the royal kitchen."
"Oh you cheeky waffle!" said another one "Shame you couldn't catch the queen in a swimsuit, i bet she looks fabolous in that."
Erin smiled "Yeah, who knows?" the breeze of the wind running through her hair and face.
She knew what to do once back in Lidblum, and Garnet would have needed to know, for fairness.

-0-

"...and in conclusion, your highness, i believe the correct approach for recieving the Esto Gaza ambassador would be on the city square."
"Did i need to hear this again? Rusty, it's the tenth time you repeated it."
"And i'd gladly do that again ten more times to get that in your skull... your majesty."
A metallic sound was heard after, making Garnet giggle: Zidane and Steiner were at it again with the protocol. She adjusted her hair briefly and breathed in the high noon spring air that was entering from the castle's open windows. Beatrix right near asked if everything was alright and she nodded while looking at the letter she had recieved from Lindblum, two pink hearts on a corner of it. Everything couldn't have been more perfect now.
"Say, Beatrix," she said "do you know by chance how to swim?"
The phrase took the general by surprise: "Y-yes your highness, of course," she said "but i'm not sure i understand why you ask that."
Garnet's smile turned into a grin, her eyes shining.
Things were definetly going to get better now.

Chapter Text

Eiko Carol was toasting with her friends in the luxurious Alexandrian castle: despite the festivities of the night before, the little summoner had enough stamina to be ready on the spot the morning after, and under request of Garnet she had come to the more private party in honor of Zidane. And hey, Freya and Beatrix had joined them as well, making the reunion complete.
Eiko could not help but notice that the queen, her protector, Mikoto and the Burmecian had exchanged rapid stares at each other, as if they knew something of their own they couldn't speak about. "It's that damn bath house." thought the little girl puffing "i just know that; but now i know what to do, they're surely gonna be surprised."
After the toast, everyone started talking with each other between one meal and the other, and at some point Garnet accosted Eiko, who couldn't help but notice the queen had an intense perfume, a sensation she knew in the air when she had entered the room but now knew the source, or at least one of them. "Hey, Eiko," she said "thanks for showing up. So, i hope everything's ok in Lndblum."
"Y-yeah." the almost 9-year old horned girl responded distantly. Cid and Hilda had been very good adoptive parents in these almost three years, but she had been accustomed to live alone with her moogles since she was little, having to adjust for a life of nobility and rules had been a tad too much for her during this time.
"I hope you're not angry at us for not having you yet in our "private meeting"," continued the queen, the voices of the others covering her enough to speak a bit about the subject "we can wait until you've grown up. It's not too much and time will pass without you even knowing it."
"Oh, i know that." she replied "And in fact, i know already what to do, i promise you and the others will be surprised. But i'll need to ask you a favor in the meantime."
That remark left Dagger with a raised eyebrows. She already mentioned that before, but what could she have meant by that.
"And what that would be?"

-0-

Later that day, the young girl was roaming around the streets of Alexandria, until she reached a home marked with a symbol she recognized; looking around to see if there was anyone who could have recognized her, she quickly entered the place and closed the door behind her. Awaiting her there was already someone, who raised a hand.
"So you've decided to come after all. Very well." spoke the man with four arms.
"I take the preparations are complete now, Jack." she said putting her hands on her hips. The treasure hunter nodded, then sighed and spoke to her again.
"I know it's annoying to tell you again, but it bears repeating one last time. Once i take you to the place i mentioned, your growth will be faster only for this world, you will still have to live all the years that you want to spend there in real time, and i can't guarantee you'll have great company. Are you really sure is this how you want to handle your youth and teenage years?"
Eiko looked down on the floor, reflecting one last time, then decided: there was no turning back at this point, it was better if things happened this way.
"Yes." she said "I left instructions for the period i'll be gone like you said. I am ready."
"So be it then." answered him, opening a glowing portal with a gesture. Eiko could feel the distant chime of a bell from the other side. "Just to be clear, i assume no responsability for this, if your friends will complain, it had been your fault entirely. I don't care if you're a child, you demonstrated rationality and wisdom in the past so it's up to you."
She touched the ribbon Mog gave her and raised her head, her eyes filled with determination "I understand. Now let's move already."

-0-

Two weeks later, it was a rainy day in Alexandria, it almost looked like Burmecia; everyone had preferred to stay at home, the usual crowd-filled streets and plazas were now deserted and blasted incessantly by the rain. Suddenly, a huge flash of light broke the grey of the atmosphere in one of the houses, and a minute later a hooded figure with a racket-like cane emerged from one of the doors, something poking under the cloth that was covering the head. It standed in the middle of the street and basked in the rain as if it was a new thing never seen before, like a shower in the open, then smiled. Small gemstones were shining on different rings on one of its hands.
"Nothing has changed in all this time, oh how i missed it. Well, it's time to pay a visit to the castle."

-0-

Garnet and Mikoto were standing on the shallow end of the hot spring, after having emerged from the deep end, the Genome panting visibly.
"Are you ok?" asked the queen, to wich the younger girl just nodded, with a small smile.
"You were fantastic down there," continued the summoner "your breath holding skills are improving with each day, although when my spell will be finished you would be able to stay down even more without my aid. And..."
She stopped for a second and looked behind them, to one of the room's walls. There was nothing yet she had heard something and she had felt they were being watched; but noone was with them when they entered the room, and the locks had to work, so what happened?
Before she could get out of the water to investigate, she heard a familiar voice, albeit altered.
"Dispel!"
Out of nowhere, a cloaked figure appeared, no doubt concealed by an invisibility spell until that moment. Then it removed the hood to reveal a familiar face with blue hair and a pointy horn: Garnet was astonished to say the least.
"E-e-e... Eiko?" she struggled to say, barely recognizing the grown woman in front of them as their comrade. Mikoto was just standing behind her, speechless.
"Nice trick, uh?" the summoner responded with a smirk "With these jewels i'm able now to select what to have Carbuncle do when i summon him, so i decided to give you a surprise by following you while invisible." Then she took a better look at the fact the other two girls were naked and laughed "I should have imagined this was the reason you built this room."
"I... i have no idea on what to say." responded timidly the queen "I have so many questions..."
"And i will give you the answers you need, but mind if i join you there? I'm tired from my journey and soaked from outside's rain, a hot bath is just what i need."
The two nodded hesitantly and the Madain Sarian started stripping and put her things in a corner: her body had become similar to the one of Erin, Dagger noted. While she had grown into an adult, Eiko still had small proportions on chest and butt, and her skin was paler than when she had seen her two weeks prior. However she had become taller, slightly more than Mikoto, and her face had slimmed a bit, now wearing a particular type of make-up.
The summoner, entered gently the spring and swam to the other two girls, splashing them playfully for a second before resting herself.
"So, what happened, Eiko? How have you aged this much in such a short time?"
The horned girl poured water on her head and horn and started explaining "I wanted to back up my words and find a way to grow up faster, and at first i thought to create a spell that could help me, but i found nothing no matter where i looked, Lindblum, Esto Gaza or Daguerreo. That's when and where i found Alleyway Jack out of nowhere."
"The four-handed thief that tried to mug me in Treno?"
"Him. He said he knew of a place where time flows differently, a place almost fitted for summoners where i could spend my time and while i was there, hone my skills. And so i travelled there, for fourteen long years, until i decided i was ready to come back."
"But, but what about Cid and Hilda? I told them you were staying here during this time, like you asked, but-"
"They sorta already know," answered Eiko giggling "i took my time in reflecting on the offer of Jack, and i told them i was going to go there mostly for training purposes. They looked worried, but ended up giving me their blessings, so they understood in the end."
"And you did this just so you could come here with us?" asked Mikoto, curiously.
"Yes, but truth be told, i needed the training as well. Life in Lindblum had become oppressing for me, i wasn't born to stay closed in a castle. This period allowed me to grow also internally, you'll find i'm not a child anymore on everything." She added a wink at the end.
Garnet didn't knew what to say. Zidane and Amarant would have probably died of shock knewing this, but maybe the training excuse would have worked with them too. Hopefully.
She took a deep breath and turned to Eiko to look at her better, finally starting to accept this is how she looked now, older than her to boot; she always had though she would have ended up outliving her and teach her some things about white magic and offensive summons, but now it looked like the roles had been reversed, and all because she wanted to be with her and the others so badly. The though moved the queen, who hugged her friend while shedding a tear.
"You must have missed us so much, Eiko" she said "forgive me for having made you do this."
"It's ok." the summoner answered with a smile "besides, i wasn't alone. There was another summoner like me who grew with my pace, and the queen of the local Eidolons... helped us when we reached adult age."
"Oh my" giggled Mikoto putting a hand on her mouth.
"You should have seen them," continued the Madain Sarian "there are spirits like ours but look completely different. Their king is Leviathan, and allowed me to forge a covenant with all of them, it felt so surreal to use summons who were out of my league."
"Wait a minute," said Dagger "you recieved Leviathan's blessing?"
"Yeah, although i haven't tested all of these new summons-"
The queen started looking at her with a slight blush; she couldn't believe what she was about to ask. "You... you have seen what me and Mikoto do in this place, right?"
"Yeah. Like i said, i'm not a child anymore, i have been properly educated. The Eidolon queen has been very gentle with me."
"Uhm, good." Dagger continued hesitantly "And are you still interested knowing this?"
"... yes, actually." said the summoner "I always had my big crush on Zidane, but this experience had made me appreciate also the company of other women. So for the last couple of years, i actually imagined how would have it been with you, or Freya."
Garnet gulped down, still blushing, then took Eiko's hand and said "Then, i want to officially introduce you to this place. Do you trust me?"
"Of course."
"Then follow us. You too." said to Mikoto, wich nodded and started swimming with them until they reached the deep end. Eiko seemed like a good swimmer, being raised in a village near rivers and the sea may have helped.
"Let's test if your Leviathan's blessing is like mine's. Mikoto!" said Garnet, with the Genome responding to the comand immediately: she positioned herself behind Eiko and grabbed her by the arms, locking her legs onto hers.
"Wait, what are you-AGHL-" was all Eiko could manage to say before being dragged down under the surface, closing her mouth immediately. This was the first time she had submerged in a while, the place she had been had only showers and no baths. This also meant she hadn't took a big breath, so her chest was already in pain for not breathing.
Garnet floated in front of her, then to her surprise started speaking slowly. "Let go of your air, if i'm right you should be fine." said, Eiko noticing she sounded like a siren, her voice being an echo rippling through the hot waters and her movements graceful, not impeded by weight or pressure. Mikoto was holding her firmly in the meantime, doing a good job in not letting emotions transpare her face as the Genome had been programmed to do from its creation.
"Nnh- Nnnohlb-"
As her cheeks puffed and she lost a bit of air, she tried to free herself but the grip was too tight. Why was Garnet trying to drown her after what they just said to each other? She wasn't understanding; yet the situation was kinda exciting, the hot water pressing all around her, the body of Mikoto firmly pressed onto her back, the sight of the other summoner naked in front of her and now the lack of air in her lungs. She was starting to feel good and couldn't explain why; was this the effect of the spring as Garnet intended when she built the room near Alexander's core?
The queen got closer to her and albeit hesitantly a bit, caressed her on the neck and the shoulder; she was probably still adapting to her new adult body.
"Here, let me try to... help you." she said moving then her hand onto her body until it reached her belly: there, she started pressing lightly, forcing the pain in Eiko's chest even more.
"HMBLRG-"
Her eyes widened as she started panicking and released more air while effortlessly trashing around, and then the pressure felt too much, making her scream all her remaining breath in one last jolt of pleasure. Instinctively she kept her mouth open, breathing in water and knewing it was the end...
...only for nothing to happen. She felt confused as she kept inhaling and expelling the liquid among huge bubbles, and looked around to see her vision was now adjusting, removing the blurriness and seeing in more defined way the body of Garnet in front of her, a reassured expression on her face. At the same time, she felt the grip on her lift as Mikoto unhanded her and moved in front to check her.
She was breathing underwater! And was managing to stay in place easily too! But how?
She tried to experiment by uttering some words.
"Hoblw ish blis blossiblle?"
Garnet laughed for a second, then responded "Don't worry, it's like this the first time, you'll have to adjust on your own, but try to do like me and talk slowly."
Eiko looked at her for a second, then squeezed her eyes in a stare and swam closer to her to throw a weak punch on her head. "Youbl-" started saying but then paused and tried again as she had told to her "You coulb have killed meb! What were you blinking?!"
The queen scratched the hit part with an apologetic smile and responded "Sorry, i just wanted to know. If it can console you, it was like this for my first time too, when i discovered Leviathan's blessing."
"Uh?"
"It seems us summoner can gain special passive skills if we are in tune with specific Eidolons, and the Leviathan you encountered gave you one identical to mine, perfect for a place like this."
Now that she mentioned, the hotness in her body hadn't been gone, Eiko felt it resurge again as she almost hug herself in order to resist a convulsion. When she opened her eyes again, she saw Garnet was kissing Mikoto, no doubt passing air into her since she wasn't posessing their skills.
"In time you'll be able to fully grasp your powers," continued the queen "and i'll give you all the occasions you need with this room. But now i think it's time to make amends for how sudden we have been with you, don't you think?"
"Whablt?"
Mikoto nodded again and once again positioned herself behind Eiko, this time her grasp was much more gentle, while Dagger stayed in front of her, taking her chin with her right hand. "I never though i would have been able to do this soon, you know." sayed slowly before gently planting her lips onto hers. The sensation gave the summoner more arousal, as she watched to not hurt Garnet with her horn.
"I..." said once the kiss was over "...i came here forbl this, and the morble time passed, the morble i wanted it."
"That makes me very happy." replied the queen with a heartwarming smile. Then she turned to Mikoto behind the Madain Sarian and said "Mikoto, please, show her what you're... capable of doing."
The Genome smiled on her own, then spread her legs so Eiko's could also be open, exposing her in that vast body of water; the summoner looked down to see the other girl's unique tail moving slowly from under, like a serpent studying its surroundings. Then, it started gently caressing her legs, making her shiver at the touch of the furred tail, moving up and down on the inside of her tigh, until it reached her already wet sex. It started gently, the tip rubbing on the lips and stimulating the clitoris, giving more shivers and bubbles to blow to Eiko, then moved back a bit as if to adjust aim only to plunge into her in a rough way.
Eiko gurgled bubbles in ecstasy, her eyes rolling upwards as the jolts of pleasure were consuming her: her already scarse sexual experience was now being challenged with something completely new, and so close to her child fantasies when she was flirting on Zidane. Truly, this was paradise for her.
After a while, she noticed the movements were slowing down, so she turned her head a bit to see Mikoto was struggling on her own. "She needs to recharge air," said Garnet who was enjoying the spectacle in the meantime "why don't you help her?"
Timidely, Eiko turned more and met the Genome's reddish face consumed by the lack of oxygen, and instinctively, she locked lips with her, blowing air into her lungs and recieving some tounge play in the process. When they broke, the young girl timidely thanked her with a kiss on the cheek and then reprised her work. Eiko felt as if it was unfair only her was feeling good, so she moved one hand behind her, exploring Mikoto's body until she found her crotch, studying it and teasing it before slipping a pair of fingers into her on her own.
She felt the surprise of her lover behind her as a burst of bubbles got released suddenly with a squeak, but the Genome did not stop the hand, while she continued her work with her tail, the body of both intertwined in this lustful dance suspended underwater in the hotness of the liquid. Eiko was still feeling a bit dizzy now that water was filling her mouth and nose completely without harming her, but the jolts of pleasure she was recieving were bypassing all other stimulations.
As she was about to climax, almost glowing for her Trance state, she felt her fingers behind her getting squeezed as Mikoto came gurgling the rest of her air, releasing her grip and her tail to clench her throat in desperation, but to no avail; she istinctively tried to breath, only to swallow water, her face turning blue and her movements slowing down.
"Ohbno!"
Eiko grabbed the Genome and swam as fast as she could to the surface, breaching it and expelling her own inside water in the process, re-adapting to the air enviroment instantaneously. Mikoto wasn't breathing however, so the summoner quickly raised her on the edge of the spring and started administrating CPR. It didn't produced results at first, but at the fourth attempt, she felt something as the young girl convulsed and vomited water, taking in deep breaths afterwards.
"A-are you ok?" asked the summoner after a sigh of relief, lowering herself again in the water.
"Yes... yes... this happened already, do not worry." responded Mikoto "Sorry if i could not satisfy you entirely."
"It's ok, you shouldn't have pushed yourself, you know."
"The queen... usually gives me air after this... i do not mind. I will rest here if you please, you two go ahead for now."
"Wha-?"
Garnet hadn't emerged come to think of it, and at that moment, Eiko felt a pair of arms and hands creeping up her sides and grabbing her shoulders, pulling her down again. She was able to only produce a small sound of surprise before her voice blurbed again in a flurry of bubbles, but at least, this time she adapted immediately to her new breathing capacity. Dagger had pulled her down, now her face was resting on her belly as her hands had moved to hug her back.
"Don't be alarmed for Mikoto," she said "this happens all the time, she got used to it."
"You surble about it? You soubld like you've been bloing this for a longbl time."
"Well, i planned in advance some things, while others were improvised. Now, let's get you back to where you were, shall we?"
She was about to move her head down, but Eiko took the initiative and told her to stop for a second: with a bit of awkward movement, she swam to position herself on top of the queen, their bodies aligned in a yin-yang pose.
"I like the way you think." said Garnet with a smirk before planting small kisses on the legs on top of her, small bubbles trickling from her mouth with each kiss; on her hand, Eiko resisted the moans given by the pleasure impulses and reached her partner's crotch, stimulating it delicately before licking the upper lips and the clit.
Taking advantage of her abilities and her position, Dagger produced a stream of bubbles who got directed right on the other summoner's crotch, causing a new sensation altogether in her: it was like getting tickled and pleasured at the same time, her inner heat growing exponentially. Both summoners were now at their limit, starting to glow and only getting more and more intense, until with melodic screams echoing through the water and flurry of bubbles, both came at the same time, reaching their Trance and shining; Garnet took a good look at Eiko to notice how her golden form was fitting her adult body.
They both put themselves back into position and concluded with a chaste kiss, before turning back to their normal forms.
"You have a natural talent for this, Eiko." said Garnet "you have to come back. Freya and Beatrix will love you too, i'm sure of it, and i still have a name or two i'm considering bringing here."
"Thank youbl. I thinbk-" she paused for a second trying again to speak slowly "i think i can get used to this easily."
The queen gave her a thumbs up for answer, then invited her to ascend back to the surface, Mikoto waiting the two on the edge of the spring. "Well, hope you had fun down there." she said smiling.
"Oh, definetly." answered Dagger, with Eiko nodding on her own.
"I wonder though..." said after a second the Genome, an index finger on her chin "ho do we explain her growth to my brother Zidane and the others?"
The two summoners looked at each other, then answered simoltaneously "Summoner training-" before laughing for having said that at the same time, Mikoto giggling on her own.
"But really," said the Madain Sarian to Garnet "it's good to be back, and to finally be able to be with you here. Thank you."
"You surprised me, i admit i wasn't expecting you at all now," she answered "but you've proven to be a very precious addition to our secret group. It's getting better and better, i can't wait for what will come next."
"I'm curious though:" interrupted the monkey girl "Eiko, can you tells us more on how did you... well, learned about sex? I mean, queen Garnet taught me, but i know normal female humans have some... trouble in discovering themselves."
The horned girl smiled.
"Well..."

-0-

Another time, another place...
A grown blonde woman in clear advance state of pregnancy was combing the hair of a younger one, a vibrant green-colored lady with a whip at her side. It was a beautiful day outside, the sun was irradiating the castle's exterior and basking it into a warm embrace. The older girl stopped moving the hairbrush for a second, letting the young one rest her head for a second on her, raising a hand to see if she could feel movements from the baby.
"Have you and Cecil already decided for a name, Rosa?" asked the younger girl.
"I think so, Rydia," she responded "but there's still time before our little heir will meet us, i think."
They both giggled and stayed there for a minute, basking in the warmth and delicate wind typical of the region.
"Rydia," said Rosa after a while "there's something i wondered for a while, if i may ask."
"Yes? Go on." she allowed.
"Well, you said you grew up and became an adult in the Feymarch before returning to us. It probably took a lot of your life."
"Yes. King Leviathan and Queen Asura helped me so much, i owe them my life."
"Alright, but..." the older woman hesitated for a second before continuing "...you know... that a woman has a lot of changes when she grows up... body changes, i mean..."
"Oh! That. Yes," she answered "i had to face "that", but i wasn't alone to discover myself if that's what you're curious about."
"Really?" that answer had left her both puzzled and amused at the same time.
"Yes. Queen Asura... had a special way to help me, and there was another summoner like me who had to grow up alongside. We got instructed and... "helped" each other understanding."
Rosa blushed, not believing in what she just heard; this was a side of Rydia she had never seen and certainly wasn't expecting.
"She left around the same time i did, our training was similar after all." continued the summoner "I don't know where she went, she mentioned something like another world; i hope i'll see her again someday, she really looked strange with that horn on her head, ah ah."
While the green-colored girl finished her sentence with a chipper smile, Rosa just sighed, shook her head and reprised combing her hair.
"Edge is probably gonna have a bad time trying to flirt on Rydia at this point."

Chapter Text

"So Erin, how are things with your new girlfriend in Lindblum?"
Garnet was chilling on the edge of the hot spring while the sailor and Mikoto had just finished pleasuring each other and were joining her.
"It's going great, actually." she replied with enthusiasm "It helps we have the same interests, we especially love to engage in strip Tetra Master challenges."
The queen laughed at the idea, and the thought of trying something similar entertained her for a bit. But now she had more important things to ponder about, so she called the girls, dried up, put back the clothes and got back to the palace.
Explaining to Zidane and the others the sudden age lift of Eiko had been surprisingly easier than Dagger had expected; things had gone smoothly ever since, although Amarant was still treating the Madain Sarian like a child. Freya and Beatrix had been also accepting of the new addition to the team, though they still had to enjoy her company properly. Garnet found the other three women as per request and with Erin and Mikoto went sure noone would have eavesdropped before talking.
"Greetings, ladies." she started "I hope our... relaxing bath times have been of your liking so far."
Everyone nodded in agreement, smiles on their faces.
"Good to know," continued the queen "and the good news is i have two more names on my list of possible candidates that can join us. Though i fear only one of them may be the lucky one."
She produced a small sheet of paper that had a series of names barred, certainly of the people present, and two more clear yet with question marks near them. "One is Ruby, Zidane's female co-worker at the Tartarus. Yet i wondered for a long time and i can't see asking her right away, none of us have a great connection with her. Only my husband would know, so i considering everything, i believe that for our female-only club she's out of the question right now."
"And what about the other name? Who is she?" asked eagerly Eiko. The queen took a small sigh before answering.
"...it's Lani."
Everyone except Mikoto looked at each other in a puzzled way and wishepered something.
"Are you... sure, your majesty?" said Beatrix after a bit "Time has passed, indeed, yet i'm not certain she is to be trusted with this."
The Genome raised her hand "I'm sorry," she asked "i may have heard her name before, but who's this Lani?"
Freya explained quickly that she was a bounty hunter who the team had engaged in the past while on route to Madain Sari and how ultimately she had been stuck there for a long time until a mercyful ship from Lindblum had come to rescue her.
"Ever since then we had some minor contacts with her, but to my knowledge she hasn't changed much." kept going the Burmecian "Since i roam Gaya more frequently i know her movements and her behavior better, but i can tell she's still cocky and probably with a bone to pick with Garnet and Eiko."
"Then it's settled as out of the question." intervened Beatrix, moving her hair "She's too much of a wild cannon to ask her to share a secret like ours."
"Uhm, if i may..."
Erin had raised a hand, with everyone turning towards her.
"Didn't we all had some inner problems before joining and the hot spring healed us inside? Can it happen also for Lani? Granted, i haven't met her as much as you, but that's why i'm asking."
"Well said, Erin, she needs a sort of baptism." said Garnet "And this leads to what i had in mind."

-0-


"Hey honey, did you had a bad day? I've seen you around here, maybe i can show you a place where you can relax with me."
"Piss off, wench, and let me finish my drink!"
Lani brushed off the other woman from her table and sipped her beer. The whores of Treno were the worst for her, always assuming she was seeking a night with one of them so casually. She had learned in her life about being invested in both men and women alike, but right now she wasn't caring about flat experiences of one night stands like that.
Ever since the disappearence of the mist things still were going at a decent pace, crime was still a thing and so were bounties, so her job was still going; occasionally she had butted with Amarant, but she hadn't recieved news from him in a long time. Always hanging around with the royals of Alexandria and their merry gang...
The thought made Lani cringe and finish her drink quickly. She would have checked the hunting board to see if there was something easy she could have take for the time being, especially since nowadays all the dragon preys were always taken by the dragoons.
A hooded figure approached her table and saluted her silently. Lani wasn't recognizing it but could tell it was female, and something odd was poking under the hood.
"Look, i already answered your colleague, i don't care about-"
"I'm not a mere prostitute, i'll have you know," interrupted the figure, her tone sounding surprisingly young contrasting the appearance "rather, an employer. I need your services as a bounty hunter."
Her voice sounded slightly familiar, but Lani didn't paid much attention to it. "Go on." she said with a dismissive hand gesture.
"I'm not talking about an easy task, but something very particular and dangerous. It can result in your death or public humiliation. You understand this?"
Lani nodded, but she was a bit worried. What could have been this important and perilous task?
"It's simple in concept:" said the figure "i want you to find and execute Queen Garnet Till Alexandros XVII."
The huntress had just ordered a new drink and at phrase contained herself for not spilling it all over the table. Was this stranger insane or what?
"You must be either very stupid," she said confirming her thoughts "or with a death wish for the entire fucking planet. You have any idea what you just asked?!"
"Yes." the figure answered calmly "And i think i know the most efficient way for you to do it."
Lani took a minute to process the entire situation.
"...holy fuck, you're serious." she commented at the end of it. The hooded woman nodded.
"...you better have a good pay ready because you're asking me to destabilize a peace that has been lasting for years, you know. Noone is gonna like this."
The mysterious figure threw in answer a sack of guil onto the table, wich attracted some eyes of the Treno tavern. Lani needed another minute to process all that money in front of her.
"You'll get double that amount once your job is done." stated the figure "However, you have to follow the instructions i'll give to you."
The huntress thought for a second. Was halting the equilibrium of the kingdoms worth of all that gold? On the other hand though, it would have been one last job and she could retire after that...
...assuming the world would still be in one piece.
...but to be fair, Gaya had survived centuries of civil ward and the near destruction from Kuja, what was one more bit of chaos?
"...i'm in." she stated finally.
"Good to know." answered the hooded stranger "Now, do you know how to swim?"
Lani's head picked up. This was about to get interesting.

-0-

The bag was heavier than her traditional 2-hand axe, wearing on her back, but the tools were necessary, apparently. Lani had managed to get into Alexandria and now had waited until night had settled to sneak into the docks and steal a small boat in order to guide it through the canal of the moat. According to her indications, she was supposed to find a corridor in a specific point in the gallery near the castle's fountain.
After a bit she found what she was looking for, and she started proceeding in the dark; torches would have given away her position, so it was best if she was as discrete as possible.
She reached a particular place in the stone wall she had been indicated by and checked the combination she had to press on the bricks; like magic, part of the wall lifted and opened to her, revealing a long corridor inside; it seemed noone was occupying the room so she closed the wall behind her making sure it could be used again to make her trap work. As she proceeded forward, her plumed hat almost flew away when she saw the gigantic room in front of her with a pulsating red glow emanated from the other side's wall, heat permeating the air regularly.
"It's all... true..." she whispered in awe "the eidolon is really here..."
There was no time for contemplation though, so she studied the room: potential sources of light everywhere and no good hiding spot, meaning she would have had to use a Vanish spell camouflage. Fair enough, otherwise this would have become too suspicious for how quiet and smooth things had got until now.
Now she only had to wait, tools in hand.
Thankfully it seemed things didn't took long to move, as after a bit the secret passage opened again in the distance and Lani heard a series of footsteps coming to her direction; hugging the wall, she saw it was her target, queen Garnet, and alone to boot.
Her victim pressed some buttons on a contraption and all of a sudden the Leviathan statues in the room started spewing water, filling the caved part and transforming the place into a hot spring. Fragrances and a persuading heat tickled the huntress senses, but she forced herself to stay concentrated. However, when the royal started stripping in order to get into the spring, Lani had to repress a sense of arousal that the sight and the place were giving to her.
She let her target swim for a while, then when she was close to the edge of the spring where she had been hidden, she decided to strike, jumping in the water with a huge splash. She quickly overpowered Garnet who was too shocked by the event to react, and tied her hands behind her back before dragging her to the edge, where she also tied her feet, placed a tissue gag and started looking for the other tools she needed in her bag.
"Well well, your majesty, it seems traditions are hard to die in this world. We meet again." she told to her victim "Gotta be honest, you look so damn adorable like this; it's a shame i have to kill you know, but you know, this job is paying me for the rest of my life so i couldn't exactly refuse."
Garnet tried effortlessly to squirm and scream but her captor had done a good job with the ropes, she barely could move at all in that state.
Lani checked to see that her dress was completely drenched from her ambush. "Oh well," she said "it will dry up tomorrow. Now, i hope you're ready, 'cause i have been given specific instructions on how to handle things, so we're gonna have some fun."
That said, she turned the naked queen on her back, tied a long rope to where the wrists were bound already and let that pass through the heaviest of the objects she had been carrying, a huge iron disc-like weight with a ring  on it, used normally to hold down tents. Lani whistled while passing the rope through the ring, and when enough had been secured, she pushed the weight into the deep end of the spring, who sinked immediately.
Dagger watched in horror as she realised what was about to happen, then tried more to free herself, only obtaining muffled sounds that came out more as moans than everything; that rope pressing on her skin was starting to feel funny after all.
Lani licked her lips and while holding the other hand of the rope, she pushed her victim into the pool, only for her to float desperately since she couldn't swim properly in that condition.
"Now i hope you're good at breath holding, highness," said the huntress "because you're going down for a bit."
Then she pulled the rope wich tugged Garnet straight under, in a flurry of bubbles. Lani couldn't see her clearly under the surface, but she could define her struggling and her losing breath, so she timed the right moment to let the rope loose so her victim could barely surface again.
"Had fun?" she said "Because it's round two soon enough."
She let the Alexandrian sputter for a bit before pulling her down again, this time her struggle being more fainted due to the straining applied onto her. Maybe because of the situation or because the hotness in the room, Lani was starting to feel more aroused, and roughplay was one of her fetishes, she even had schooled Amarant with that once.
"You know, you're so fucking hot right now," she said to Garnet when she let her victim surfaced up again, recieving a death stare for that "if i didn't had to kill you i would be joining you for pleasure. But i have to put buisness before everything, so round three. It's time to go, little Garnet."
Another yank. This time there weren't many bubbles since the cloth gag hadn't allowed the queen to breath properly in her state when surfaced; she was getting close to the request she had been asked and she couldn't toy too much with her, who knows if anyone else was about to come in.
So after one last mercyful rebreath, she pulled one last time the rope and let her prey stay down, contorting and dancing in the hot water as the breath was escaping her gagged mouth and nose, the ropes squeezing her body.
After Lani spotted no more movements under the surface she pulled up her drowned victim and placed her on the edge, removing the gag in order to make sure she wasn't breathing.
And then the queen opened her eyes suddenly and uttered a single word, smiling.
"Gotcha."
Then something hit the huntress behind on the head and everything became black.

 

-0-

When she woke up, she felt something on her entire body while her head was still spinning. First she realized she was completely naked, then that she was tied up in a body rope play more contorted than the one she had used on the queen, and then that she was submerged partially in the hot spring, her head protunding over the surface. Looking around she noticed she was held by the captain of the guards Beatrix and the dragoon that had traveled with Zidane, the rat Freya. Then she finally noticed Garnet, still naked but free and with no signs of fatigue whatsoever, knelt in front of her on the edge of the spring.
"So you're finally awake. Sorry about the rude welcome, but we had to make sure everything was prepared in the right order." she said patting her head "Right now i think you have so many questions rolling into your head, but let me answer the most obvious one: yes, the murder request was staged by me."
Lani was confused to say the least. She was about to speak when someone appeared near the queen, and through her voice, she recognized as the hooded figure she had speaked with in Treno.
"We needed someone you wouldn't know," said Eiko "and since my age progression isn't exactly public material yet, i was the perfect candidate. And thanks to the eidolons' blessings, you never stood a chance in succeding. Gotta say, Dagger played the part perfectly."
"B... but why?" she tried to muster after more confusion, anger fueling her "Why this fucking sharade?! And what's whit this place and all of us being naked?!"
"Ah yes, that's exactly the point, Lani." continued Garnet "You see, we actually wanted you to join our little gang of users of this... relaxing place, but you see..." she took a pause as in to convey the right words "...we couldn't exactly trust you, you know."
"...trust?"
"Yes, and you showing more affection to your coins than mercy dictated by your desires has told us you're not exactly to be trusted." continue the queen, in a more severe tone.
Beatrix' grip on her right arm tightened, Lani was fearing on what was about to happen.
"However," said Garnet "your mentioning on liking the little show we allowed you to do piqued my interest and was instead telling us you would be perfect for a place like this. Tell me, did you happen to have past experiences involving drowning or something?"
The huntress denied, at least for herself, shaking her head. She had to learn to swim when she was little but had never been in danger; she just happened to kill some of her targets that way and the sadism brought by the sensation was stimulating. "Like i said, i like it rough." concluded with a spiteful tone, to wich Garnet smirked.
"Well," she said "i believe you on that, so how about you get to be on the other side of your fence for once? I'll have Beatrix and Freya enjoying themselves with you and see how much you last, then we'll talk some more."
Lani gulped down. Things had taken definetly a bad turn for her.
"Have fun, girls, but don't waste her too much." the queen concluded with a dismissive hand gesture while she turned to get on a bench. The huntress' captors turned simoltaneously to her and grinned before dragging her in the center of the deep end part of the spring.
They started easy by dunking her completely and holding her in place in short bursts for a while; the water stinging her eyes and messing with her hair was annoying on its own, but the lack of air was a problem, and the ropes surrounding her body and limbs felt like they were tightening, giving her a sense of constriction and excitment at the same time. Between spurts she was given small times to catch a breath, but they were never long, so her strenght was diminishing with each dunking.
However, she was starting to feel excited about the ordeal, with a rope covering her crotch certainly helping too, as the captors were pulling it from time to time to torment her.
At some point, Beatrix let her stay up longer, then asked Freya to change position and stay behind while she would have stayed in front of Lani. After that, they took a deep breath and submerged with her as well, this time sinking more than the previous tortures.
When reaching almost the floor, Beatrix gave a sign to Freya and she took the part of the rope that was passing on Lani's back in one hand and the rope passing on her crotch to her belly with the other, then started to pull gently. The huntress squirmed in pain and ecstasy and barely kept her breath in, as some bubbles escaped her mouth with a moan.
"Hhhmbl!"
But the Burmecian wasn't stopping, and the pain in her chest was increasing with each passing second. Then Beatrix clamped her neck with a hand, not to choke her, but with enough strenght to still squeeze the air stored in her lungs, applying pressure bit by bit.
"No, please, don't do this!" was all Lani was thinking and wanted to yell, but the general and the dragoon were not halting their game, and soon enough, Lani's body convulsed as she had to spew her air while coming at the same time, exhaling like a broken bottle.
"G-GAAAHLGL!"
But before she could have her lungs invaded by water, she felt the hand on her neck shifting position to the back of her head, as Beatrix came close and sealed lips with her, passing a bit of her air in the process while forcibly dominating her victim with her tongue.
Lani had no choice but to accept, so after a bit she reciprocated the kiss, as she started to enjoy that. The peril, the struggle, the pain, the teasing from her captors, everything was getting her turned on more and more despite the first impression. Was it because of the hot water and perfumes or she just hadn't tried this before?
While she was thinking this, she noticed Beatrix and Freya switching places, and now it was the general holding the ropes on her back. The Burmecian however opted for a game of teasing, as she started to move the tip of her long fingers on Lani's body, from the side of her neck to her breasts, following the ropes and teasing some more by pulling one here and there. The huntress was already almost out of breath, so she didn't knew how long she would have kept things going, trying to communicate this by expelling a large bubble.
"Mlorp-"
Freya saw that and she smiled maliciously, although Lani noticed her cheeks were starting to bulge a bit as well. Figures, even if they were more navigated of the place, they were still bound by a limit as well, so hopefully it wouldn't have taken long for things to be over.
The dragoon kept her teasing by moving her hand on the torso of her prey, then the belly, and then her crotch, still constricted by the rope and fresh from the previous climax; all of a sudden, the Burmecian plunged her head between Lani's legs, tasting her juices mixed with the water and sucking her out almost with ferocity.
The huntress could only spasm while desperately holding whatever breath had remained in her, but felt as if resistance on her back had diminished, and throwing a look during the few moments she could, noticed Beatrix was holding her with one hand only, the other firmly clamped on her mouth as her face was turning red and tiny bubbles were escaping her nose. It was clear the kiss of life given before had drained her before what she expected, but she still seemed determined in holding her position.
Not that Lani could do anything else aside from contorting in the water, since now Freya had upped the anty by slipping one of her long fingers along with her mouth, so it didn't took long for the bounded victim to give up and expel her lungs' content with a jolt of pleasure, this time screaming unvoluntarely.
"N-NOBTL AGAINL-"
She then expected the sweet release from her predicament as her vision darkened.
When she opened her eyes again and sputtered water weakly, she noticed she was back on the surface, but still bound and held by her captors, Garnet in front of her applauding theatrically. "So, you seem to have relaxed a bit. How do you feel, Lani?" she asked while Beatrix and Freya raised the huntress up from the water placing her in a sitting position on the edge of the hot spring.
"...like a flock of chocobos stomped on me while i was face-down in a puddle." she answered weakly.
"Good, that means you're more in position to talk calmly." replied the queen, then turned to the other women in the room "Entertain yourselves while i have a little chat here with Lani, please."
Eiko, Mikoto and Erin obliged and joined Freya and Beatrix in the water, disappearing under the surface after a bit. Now that the pleasure was over, the ropes on Lani were starting to be more annoying.
"Can you untie me, please?"
"Depends, will you jump on me again if i do that?"
"...i don't even have the strenght right now to insult you properly -and i should-, so no."
Dagger smiled in return and managed to quickly undo the knots giving freedom to the huntress' limbs, who in return crumbled on the floor for the fatigue before getting up and sitting next to her.
"You know you could have killed me, right?"
"Not exactly," said the queen "even if you had drowned, i would have been able to revive you thanks to the blessing that permeates me. You were not in real danger."
The huntress smirked at that and said "You're almost more sadistic than i am, i'm impressed." before laughing weakly and folding her legs onto her, hugging them.
"Highness," Lani asked after a minute of silence "why did you do this for me? Why wanting me here? This whole thing feels so..."
"Wrong?" she interrupted, with a bit of curiosity in the question.
"...yeah, but also, so... right at the same time. Somehow. You brought me here with deception and had me tortured, almost killed, and yet..."
"...yet?"
"...and yet i still enjoyed it. My life has always been about being faster and better than the competition, no pauses, no quarter. Stopping for a second and being able to do what turned me on felt... refreshing, something i wanted in a long time."
"Freya told me a bit about you and your desires, she was keeping an eye on you for a while;" said Garnet "and besides, remember when me and Zidane met you again in Madain Sari? When i discovered my true name on the wall of the summoners? I saw something in you, a melancholy i knew i would have been able to heal, but just didn't knew how. And when i built this place, i immediately thought about you, but i wasn't sure if you were still bloodthirst after your defeat or not, so i wanted a precaution. Forgive me."
"It's... it's ok," answered Lani after a bit, resting her head on her bent knees "you didn't killed me or anything in the end. Besides, it's like you told, i got to experience how's on the other side of the fence for once and it was stimulating. I really like it rough."
"Sooo..." asked the queen awkwardly after a while "do you mind joining us? The others are not used to more kinky stuff, but they can adapt i'm sure, and all of them would be ok with you."
Lani laughed weakly and put a hand on her shoulder "As long as you don't surprise me every time, sure."
Garnet giggled and took the hand in her own, kissing it. "Thanks," she said "you being here with us makes me and the others grateful, we were hoping you would have stayed."
The huntress moved closer to the Alexandrian and rested her head on her shoulder. "Still," she said "i'm so tired, the experience and the other girls have drained me."
"Nothing that a little healing spell can't fix, you know." replied the queen.
"Your general gave me a kiss before and that helped, maybe you could try that." said Lani adding a smile.
"Hmm, maybe i can do both."
And while the two met their lips, Dagger circled her left hand around conjuring a small magic current who permeated the other woman's body, filling her and forcing her to take a huge breath of relief after she separated from the kiss. She then stood up and stretched herself to see if everything was fine.
"Good as new; guess i owe you this, queen."
"Please, call me Garnet here, it's a place of relax after all." she responded. "Perhaps you wanna go for another round? Maybe this time with someone else?"
Lani pondered for a second and then agreed, slapping a hand on her hips to show how full of energy she was. In responde, the Alexandrian called back Freya and Beatrix in order to give them some relax, while allowing the new member of the team to have fun with Erin, Eiko and Mikoto.
"If you wanna use the other tools we asked you to bring, go ahead," Dagger finished before allowing her to go "but don't push them too hard, they need a gradual introduction, you know."
"Absolutely." the huntress replied with a grin. The other three girls were standing on the edge of the spring with different expressions: Mikoto was a bit scared, Erin curious, and Eiko smiling with excitment.
Lani wanted to go easy for the moment, so she pulled from the bag a small ball with holes in it that would have fit someone's mouth, a pair of leather handcuffs and a simple collar with a rope attached to it. "Alright, ladies, who wanna try this on first?" she asked maliciously.
Eiko immediately raised her hand and in a minute she was dawning the set, hands behind her back and unable to speak. Lani in the meantime approached the other two.
"I don't know you as much as the others," she said "but i hope we can all enjoy our time here, agreed?"
They nodded, with Mikoto timidely kissing one of her cheeks as a sign of trust, making the huntress blush slightly. She turned her attention to Eiko to maintain her composure and noticed how hot her new adult body looked. "So," she said "if i understand you have the same powers of the queen."
She nodded, still enthusiastically.
"And so you shouldn't be able to drown no matter what, right?"
She nodded again.
"Then, for the final touch..."
A simple black cloth was put around the summoner's head, covering her vision and causing her to moan in confusion. Lani took a look at her and already started feeling excited on what was about to happen.
"Alright," she said "let's get going then. You two can provide me support."
Tugging the rope of the collar, she took a deep breath and dove under, dragging the summoner while the other girls followed suit on their own. Lani still wasn't completely used this so she reached a middle point rather than the floor of the spring just so they could have an easy ascent in case of emergency; Eiko seemed to be doing just fine, exploring her new condition while her underwater breath was having her blow bubbles from the holes in the gag regularly.
Lani got close to her, almost face-to-face, then tugged the rope behind the summoner's back so she would be forced to pull back her head with a whimper, then started kissing and licking her neck and part of her jaw, while using her free hand to torment and twist one of her nipples. Eiko apparently was enjoying that, as among her breaths released moans of pleasure while her body was shaking.
However, the huntress still wasn't used to stay underwater for long periods, so soon enough the pain in her chest started becoming unbearable.
"Uhmgl-"
She expelled some bubbles to ease the pain while her face turned slightly red, forcing her to clamp her mouth with her free hand; Erin noticed that and she quickly swam over her and refilled her lungs with a kiss, shooting for the surface after that.
"Don't know much about the kid, but she's good at this." thought Lani while reprising her assault on Eiko. In a disaplay that shocked the captor, Mikoto took the head of the summoner between her hands and started gently sucking her horn, making her excitment more noticeble to Lani. "Must be one of her specific weak spots. Interesting." she thought smiling evily. Then she passed onto the action by roughly sticking two fingers up her victim's crotch, moving them frantically in rhythm with her body, and noticing the Madain Sarian was starting to glow, a process she had already seen in combat different time: the Trance state.
Erin in the meantime had come back and had started making herself useful by hugging from behind Lani and caressing her body, making tough for her to keep her concentration. Still, she was almost there, she wanted to go entirely through with it.
"A-aghl!"
Lani let escape a bubbly moan of excitment from the teasing she was recieving, while Eiko in front of her was almost like a constant jet stream due to the intense stimulation she was recieving from both sides and her hindered senses. The huntress took advantage of a moment where Mikoto had to swim to the surface to breath and took the chin of the summoner in her hand, pressing her mouth on her and letting her breath into her with her constant moans. At that moment, Erin pushed her fingers deeper inside Lani, wich took her by surprise and accidentally slip from the kiss and inhale some whater.
"No, i'm so close-" the huntress thought while her breath was escaping her, one cough after the other. "N-NOHBL!" cried while her own body was shaking from the orgasm.
Erin noticed that, letting a few bubbles escape in a gasp, then grabbed Lani by the shoulders and started pulling upward, noticing Mikoto was instead descending again, just so Eiko would have not been left alone.
The two broke the surface with Lani heavily gasping, held by Erin who asked if she was ok. After a few more heavy breaths, the huntress grabbed her by the back of her head and pulled her in a passionate kiss, forcing her tounge inside her and causing her to moan.
"Honey," said Lani "that felt amazing, but warn me next time. I'm the one in control, remember. Now you need to be punished"
She grinned, then quickly swam behind Erin's back and before the sailor could question what she was doing, she grabbed her wrists with one hand pulling them behind her back and the hair with the other hand, and dove under pulling her in the process.
"Wha.. ABL-"
Erin barely had time to speak that she felt the water covering her. As the two descended, the saw that Mikoto had managed to keep Eiko busy, as the summoner was glowing with the colors of her Trance and was erupting bubbles like mad from the gag.
Lani began her assault immediately taking Erin by surprise and letting her lose some of her breath, but the huntress wanted to be quick with this. Her ruthless thrusting while pulling the head of her victim behind and teasing her by leaving bite marks on her shoulder and her earlobe was doing the expected effect and in no time, the sailor came while expelling what had remained of her air while screaming her name, her face stunned in an expression of dizziness and exstasy.
"L-LHABNIBLL-"
This time it was up to the huntress to carry her companion to the surface, and up there, she slapped her a bit and gave her some air since she didn't started to breath immediately.
"Did you get the message?" asked Lani in a fake cute tone.
"ACH- yes... yes, i COFF- got it." answered Erin while catching her breath. She planted a chaste kiss on her lips to confirm that.
Mikoto and Eiko had managed to surface as well in the meantime, and now the summoner had been freed from the tools that now she was carrying.
"I admit," she said ecstatically "i'm a bit new to all of this, but this stuff was something else, i can't wait to try it again!"
From the edge of the spring, Garnet started clapping, then called all of them there.
"Very good to all of you." she said "I think we can now officially agree to have Lani as the newest member of our little group, don't you think?"
Everyone else agreed and cheered, with the huntress blushing a bit.
"T-thanks." she said quietly "This still feels surreal, but i admit i wasn't having fun like this in a long time. Hope it will be ok for all of you."
As the cheering reprised, Garnet smiled with a malicious expression in her eyes. Now she had pretty much everyone she wanted.
The last phase was ready to begin.

-0-

"Where the hell is everyone?" asked lazily Zidane sitting horizontally on his throne, the room almost completely deserted except for Steiner and the door's guard.
"I'm sure, your majesty that queen Garnet has a good reason for asking to be left alone." answered the Pluto knight in an encouragin tone.
"I suppose, but you have to admit strange things have happened in the last couple of weeks." answered the Genome "First we get reports of storms in the north, then Beatrix starts smiling more often, then Freya comes back after years of absence, and then Eiko decides to take a training that ages her up in a very short time. Seriously, what's next?"
"I may be able to answer that." said a voice entering the room unnanounced. It was Amarant.
"I had news my old colleague, Lani, is in town, so i came to check if she was going to play nice or not." continued "But it seems i can't find her anywhere."
"Maybe you had a wrong lead?" asked Zidane.
"No." the monk responded dry "I think there's something we're all missing from the picture."
Steiner and Zidane exchanged looks in a puzzled way, then turned to Amarant and asked what was his theory.
"Well, "majesty"," he said "don't you think it's a bit weird most girls of our group are getting more and more moments of privacy where none of us can't find them? What does this tell you?"
"You..." answered Zidance "you think there's a girls-only club and she has been invited?"
"I dunno, i have no evidence, but the leads seem to point to that, although i can't think a good reason for this to happen."
The room fell into silence for a while, then Coral noticed a painting on the wall behind the throne, portraying Kuja in the clothes he had used as a Treno noblemen when he owned the Auction House. "How long ago did you got that?" he asked.
"Oh, this?" Zidane answered lazily "I had it commissioned a few months ago. Kuja has done terrible things, be he was also technically my big brother, and we know what he also did for us in the end and what was the true goal of his actions. And it's good for the people as a reminder, so they can't forget the atrocities of the war."
Then after another minute of reflection, Zidane added something "You know, Garnet also got a similar painting, although in her case, she wanted something completely different to use for our room."
"Really?" asked Amarant, perplexed "And what's it about?"
"A beautiful radiant woman with a long blue vest and closed eyes, the caption under was something like Lak... Lucky... something like that, i don't remember. I mean, it's good looking and Dagger herself requested it, so i don't mind."
Amarant facepalmed before taking his leave. "If i discover something more, i'll be sure to tell you. Be careful, monkey." said before passing over the door.
The king went back to his original position on the throne, more puzzled than before.
"This is such a hot day, i would give anything for a bath."

Chapter Text

She was in her royal bathroom, after a long day of work; it was difficult teaching Zidane how to rule a country without getting transported by the emotions, but he was learning little by little. It was just a matter of time.
As with everything.
She smiled seeing her reflection in the mirror, the years were shaping her to be even more beautiful than she had been. She had kept her hair growing but not to the point of reaching the lenght she had before embarking in the world-saving journey. A more modest lenght, that didn't even needed to be tied up. The water in the bathtub was filling it, but she thought of giving a small touch-up to her face in preparation.
However, suddenly she felt almost as if someone pulled the carpet under her feet, since she lost her balance and fell butt-naked as she was into the tub with a loud splash. Panic surged in her, trying to levering herself up but finding her hands slipping from the edges of the tub, the pain in her chest growing at an alarming rate. However, the pain was now being accompanied by a strange sense of excitement, probably due to the lack of oxygen and the adrenaline rush.
She came close to pull her head out but not to the point of managing to take a breath, feeling dragged down of the tub's floor. Finally, she felt as if she couldn't hold in anymore and opened her mouth to scream her breath away... only to find she wasn't feeling in danger at all. She felt the water coursing through her throat and lungs and then out of her mouth with some bubbles, just like with regular breathing. The blurriness of her eyesight was also adjusting to remove the sting in her eyes and giving her a better view under the water. She put a hand in front of her to look better at it, rotating it.
But how was this possible? Surely summoners weren't born with this ability on their own, otherwise her parents would have had survived the storm that brought her to Alexandria. Maybe she needed to research that in the castle's library afterward.
She was still feeling that sensation of arousal though, so she temptively touched herself to confirm that. And indeed, the warmth and small pressure of the water were increasing her pleasure much more than when she was used to. Zidane was keeping her sexually active, for sure, but occasionally she was feeling the need to stimulate herself when she was alone, and now she had apparently discovered a new way to do it. Staying under the surface she started caressing herself, exploring her body in that new state in that limited space, her moans muffled by the water; soon enough she was hit by convulsions and came, mixing her juices into the water while emitting a flurry of bubbles in ecstasy.
Finally, she calmed down; the situation certainly had taken a turn she wasn't expecting, but her discovery had made her determined to find a way to experiment better these new capabilities. And maybe not just for her...
Managing to get a grip on the handles of the tub, she rose from the water, instantly expelling it from her body and reprising her normal breathing as soon as she hit the surface, as expected.
What she wasn't expecting was an enourmous woman knelt on the tub and staring at her with closed eyes and a malicious smile, giving the vibe she was ready to murder her at any moment.
"So, was it good for you?"

-O-

Garnet suddenly woke up repressing a scream. She was in her royal chambers, in her bed near Zidane, and the night was still young out there; she touched her forehead to discover she was sweating, probably from the panic, but also felt a slight wet sensation between her legs.
She had dreamed the first time she had discovered Leviathan's blessing, alone and casually, a bit before bulding the secret room of the castle and inviting all her friends to her lustful breaks. Yet she was still having that recurring nightmare, in all her dreams now someone was showing out of nowhere with that sinister appearance, a woman suspiciously similar to the one in the portrait she had commissioned for the bed chamber. Could it be she had been suggestioned by the figure portrayed by the oily colors?
She turned to see that Zidane was severely snoring, not noticing his wife had woken up; Garnet smiled at the sight of that, then stood up from the bed and went near the open window to catch some fresh air, the nightly breeze caressing her gently.
She tried focusing on something else: her new spell was practically complete, she only had to test it on one of the others the next time. She didn't noticed the woman in the portrait on the wall behind her slightly extended her smile, almost as if she had read her thoughts, the plaquette under it having a single word inscribed onto it.


"Lakshmi"

-O-

Some time before, in another place far far away...

Eiko had just finished preparing her bag and was putting on her rings when a tall gentle woman entered the room after knocking.
"Ah, queen Asura," said the summoner with a simple salute "i was just about to say goodbye. Is Rydia gone too already?"
"Not yet, child." responded calmly the eidolon "She'll stay a few more days before joining her friends. Yet indeed your time seems to be now. It feels like yesterday when you first came here seeking enlightenment and maturity" continued by putting her hands on the Madain Sarian's shoulders, a proud smile on her face " and look at you now, a proper summoner walking head tall with the pride of her species on her back."
She had been waiting this moment for a long time, but couldn't say her permanence in the Feymarch had been boring; the spirits were always fond of conversing with her, the green-haired summoner Rydia had been someone she could relate to, and the rulers Asura and Leviathan had been treating her with all the comfort and the instruments needed for her training. Asura especially had become close to both her and Rydia once they had become adults to have more... "private" talks about body changes and desires. Now she was about to leave all of that behind, possibly forever, but she knew this was bound to happened from the start.
"Thanks. I'm gonna miss you, queen Asura." said Eiko with a sad smile.
"You'll always be welcome in the Feymarch, little summoner." responded the queen before planting a small kiss on her horn, one of her more sensitive spots, making her shiver "However, we came here to tell you something before your departure." Eiko sit on the bed, curious of what could that be.
"Along with our husband," the queen continued "we have felt a presence in your world from the portal that... bizarre friend of yours created. A sinister presence, something that shouldn't be there and probably has ill intentions."
"But me, Zidane and the others have managed to repel the Mist and all the evil attached to it years ago, how can this be?" asked the Madain Sarian while trying to think of something that they may have left unfinished from their quest.
"No," answered Asura "we suspect it is something alien to your world, like you are from ours, yet we are certain it wants chaos and discord. Seek this presence and purge it as soon as you get back, we fear it could cause unimaginable catastrophes if left growing."
Eiko looked the ground for a second to ponder on those words, then rose up filled with determination. "I'll do it." she simply said.
"Thank you, child." answered the queen with a smile "We won't forget you and eagerly wait your return someday."

-O-

"And how far has your investigation gone until now, horny?" asked lazily Lani before gulping down her pint, the other girls in the room having the same question in mind.
"Not much, unfortunately;" responded Eiko while folding her arms "i asked around during these weeks but aside from the usual wildlife activities that you and Freya regulate, there haven't been reports on evil spirits, disappearances or similar problems. The worst i could find was that the post moogles have ran out of oil again."
The group collectively sighed. It had been kind of a tradition at this point for all of them to take a night at a tavern in Treno just so they could discuss what was going on in their lives and when could they go back to the hot spring. Garnet and Mikoto were the only ones not partecipating in the meetings, being busy with royal life and all, but Beatrix functioned as their eyes ears and mouth, carrying messages and organizing the apointments. Freya noticed with a smile that the general was looking good even in more casual clothes different from her military garb.
"So at least it's not the return of Kuja, i suppose." said the Burmecian "No ghosts from the past to deal with."
"Don't push yourself too hard, Eiko," reassured Erin while putting her hand on the summoner's shoulder "you'll find your culprit eventually; i'm sure an eidolon like that can't be wrong on a subject this important. Maybe this evil is really good at camouflaging between us Gayans."
"Perhaps." resigned Eiko pulling herself back on her chair, her hands now behind her head "So Beatrix, any news from Dagger?" said to change the subject.
"The usual, i suppose." responded the general while putting on the table an envelope with the alexandrian wax seal. Garnet usually preferred to communicate officially like this. However, when they opened the letter, it wasn't containing just paper, but a small iron key that Erin immediately recognized.
"That's the secret chamber's passepartout, it opens the passageway in case of emergency and regulates the contraption directly. Why giving it to us here?" she asked perplexed. The letter didn't seem to have anything unusual, Garnet had renewed her usual invitation saying that now she was going to try testing her new spell to extend the capacity of one's breath holding abilities, wich sounded very promising. However, Beatrix noticed a small series of words tucked in a corner, distant from the main bulk of the paragraph and written hastily.

"help me she is coming..."

Silence fell on the group for a few seconds, noone knowing what to think at first. Finally, Freya asked the question everyone was wondering.
"Beatrix, did Garnet appeared... strange to you when she gave you the letter?"
"Can't say she was;" responded the general "maybe her highness was a bit tired, but not scared or stressed. Though she has given me the letter very quickly, and i haven't seen her since."
"Reguardless, i have to admit this is the first real hint i had since i came back in this world." said Eiko pondering "Even taking aside our previous journey, we have managed to know Garnet detaildly through these months, this is not something she would write accidentally or to prank us. It's best if we go armed."
"Don't have to tell me twice, sugar." said groggily Lani "But if you want my opinion we might as well respect the appointed date instead of bum rushing now. If indeed there's an evil boogeyman, we don't want to cause accidental victims."
"I sadly have to agree." concurred Beatrix "Besides, thanks to my duties as the queen's protector, i can notice if something's wrong and send you a message, you'll just need to be around for your own reasons."
Everyone agreed and finished the drinks before saying goodbye to each other. Usually one or two of them would have stayed with Lani to pass the night together, but the foreboding news had clearly broke any mood they might have had.

-O-

A few days later, Zidane had just begun sorting some minor burocracy when Garnet passed near him. He hadn't seen her since the morning when they had woken up, so he gestured a quick hello, but she stragely didn't respond, proceeding instead straight to their bedroom and closing the door behind her. The Genome was perplexed by that, remembering that for a while now his wife had started accusing several nightmares; he was always there to reassure her, but now it was almost with a once-per-night rhythm and she clearly was lacking sleep. Zidane took mental note to contact Doctor Tott after being done with the rest of the papers of the day.
After a few minutes, Garnet exited the room and while she didn't seem different, she was carrying her staff, the Whale Whisker that the Genome had found years before in a treasure in the sea. When passing near her husband, she placed a hand on his shoulder, wich he kissed. "I'm gonna go practice some magic," she said "i may have discovered a new spell that could be useful for us."
"No problem, i'll handle the busy work here." he said with his usual open smile. After assuming a more serious expression, he asked "Dagger, is everything alright?" She seemed a bit distressed by that question, but brushed it off by nodding. "It's just that... a lot of weird things have happened recently, and i'm not sure what the cause is." said Zidane with a sigh "If you knew something you would tell me... right?"
"Of course, you dummy." she responded pinching his cheeks "You worry too much.". They both laughed it off for a second before Garnet gave him a passionate kiss and said she needed to go.
"Alright." said Zidane "I love you."
"...i love you too..."
She said that almost as a whisper and with a bit of melancholy attached to it. While she was disappearing in the corridors, Zidane swore he could hear a sinister laughter, something that made his blood freeze for a second. Then he felt incredibly tired, as if he had been invited to sleep. He thought that the papers wouldn't have run away anyway before having his head falling on the desk.

-O-

An energy cloud had formed on top of Alexandria and while it wasn't damaging anything, the rumbles created by it were throwing the citizens in a fit of panic. Everyone was running away, trying to take refuge outside the gates on boarding airships to safer places, leaving houses and streets deserted. Strangely, the guards of the castle were absent from all of this, causing even more chaos to spread.
It was in this climate that Beatrix, running with heavy breath, met the other girls in the main square, an ominous wind brushing her from behind. "It is time!" she yelled towards the others "And things have taken a turn for the worse! We have to hurry!"
"And where do you think you're going?"
The voice had spoken behind the ticket stand, and a second after, Amarant slowly walked out in the open, a claw ready on his right hand. "Amarant!" said Freya "There's no time, i can explain you later, but right now..."
"No need, Crescent." said the monk in a dry tone "I made my investigations and the events of today, combining with Dagger and Mikoto's disappearance, confirm it. You think your activities were kept in complete secrecy, didn't you?"
The girls exchanged rapidly looks with Erin showing some panic.
"I know everything:" continued Amarant "you made a secret cabal just so you could take control of the queen and reign Alexandria from the shadows as you see fit!"
There was a stunning silence for a few seconds, even the wind and the rumbling had ceased a bit. Lani visibly facepalmed. "Listen, Scruffy," she said "i don't know what conspiracy theories have you built up, but you're way off road. Now be useful and help evacuate the citizens, we'll solve things out."
"I don't think so." he answered coldly, adjusting the claw "Friend or not, you're gonna answer me and-"
"Float!"
Eiko moved her racket for a second and Amarant started fluctuating in the air. Unfortunately the wind had reprised its howling, so by not having his feet anchored to the ground, the push catapulted him on the other side of the square with a scream, leaving him attached with his claw on the side of a building, helpless. "DAMN YOU!" he yelled distantly "YOU WON'T GET AWAY WITH THIS!"
"Let's just move on, please;" finished Freya "we'll sort things out with him once we're done." Everyone nodded and started moving, Lani throwing a look at the poor state of Amarant and then at the colored clouds on top of the castle.
"I got a bad feeling about this."

-O-

Beatrix explained on the road that as soon as the clouds had started forming, the entire castle, Zidane and Steiner included, had been subjected to a sleep spell to wich she had escaped thanks to her own white magic. Garnet and Mikoto were missing but the letter made clear where their current location was. The girls just had no idea what to expect from the situation. Erin was still holding the key given among the letter, not having any idea what her use was for.
Finally, they found the secret passage with its door surprisingly left open, the aroma of the room leaking, though with an extra pinch of... seduction. They quickly rushed in to find an almost horrifying scenario: floating above the water in the middle of the spring, a giant woman in a blue dress held partially in the air was grasping Garnet in her embrace, making out with her while glowing a dark blue aura, not too dissimilar to the one of the clouds. Mikoto was in a corner, unconscious and looking like someone had beaten her up.
"HEY YOU!" yelled Lani readying her axe "GET AWAY FROM HER YOU BITCH!"
The woman stopped, pulling away from Garnet who looked visibly exhausted yet was holding her magic staff firmly, then turned to the source of the voice, tossing the summoner in that direction. Her eyes were always closed and her smile was clearly just a façade covering malicious intents. "Welcome, children." she started speaking, her voice booming through the entire room "I have observed you for long, but now i am finally able to meet you in person. It is a pleasure for me."
Beatrix was not in the mood for conversation though, so she pointed her Save the Queen towards the woman. "Make your intentions clear. Who are you and what have you done to the queen and Mikoto?"
"I am Lakhsmi, the Lady of Bliss, primal sovereign of the Ananta people in a distant land." she said before pointing at the tired Garnet on the ground "My existence is fleeting in the material realm, but i have managed to enter in this world from the wishes of this young girl. She had so many dreams, so many... desires, and my essence just happened to intercept them. So when she asked a painter to draw something for her bedroom, i used that as a catalyst to get closer to her. More... intimately."
"So you manipulated her? Is that what you're saying?" said Erin with a tremble in her voice. The spirit shook her head before answering.
"No, unfortunately my tempering abilities are not working in this world; no, she had those desires for her and for all of you already. I simply stimulated her lust drive and then had to wait for my powers to grow until my moment to manifest would have come, and that time is now. The power i search to be complete is right here, in this very room," she said pointing at the pulsating heart of Alexander "and by absorbing it, i'll become the new god of this world. Everyone will adore me for all eternity, i shall have my beloved children migrate in this paradise and noone will have to suffer or be sad ever again!"
An air shockwave rippled through the room, investing the girls who took repair behind their weapons. The being's laughter was joyous yet sinister. Erin managed to drag Garnet away near a wall because she knew things were about to heat up, but unfortunately, Mikoto was too far for her to try the same move again.
"What a nice speech." said Freya, clearly sarcastic while balancing her spear on her shoulder "Truly. It would move me to tears of joy if i did not realized how insane you are."
"Yeah." backed her Eiko "And you're not even the first god we have fell, so you have picked the wrong world for your planned vacation!"
Beatrix smiled and rotated the Save the Queen on her hands. "You have heard us, monster," she said "now go back from whence you came or die. You do not belong in this world!"
The being shook its head in disappointment. "Such resistance, how disheartening." she said before moving her hands in a precise pattern. The air felt heavy as energy was gathered up, mixed with the already present heat; Erin embraced the still unconcious Garnet in order to stay away from the chaos that was about to ensue.
The fight begun when Lakshmi summoned a small energy coloumn under Beatrix, wich she dodged just in time. Freya took the opportunity and jumped to gave herself momentum before stabbing the being on a shoulder; golden ichor erupted from the wound while a hateful hissing noise echoed through the room.
Lani was the next to jump on the action, intent of giving a more significant blow: near her victim, she started rotating and cut right through the right arm of the being, who let out another shriek. Unfortunately, the bounty hunter had not planned her landing because she fell into the water of the spring behind the monster. "Ach, not again!" she said sputtering after resurfacing, noticing her clothes were soaked once more, the axe heaving her. Eiko noticed that and casted a Float spell so she could get back on her feet above the water, with the Madain Sarian planning on doing the same to the others.
Enraged by all the violence, Lakshmi grabbed Freya with her left hand and tossed her against a wall near Mikoto, the impact shaking the Burmecian who standed down to catch her breath for a second. Imbued by the floating spell, Beatrix tried to charge but the woman released an energy wave that knocked her out as well.
Then, to the shock of everyone, she started healing her wounds with a chant, her right arm magically regrowing where it was once missing. "This is a problem." commented the general before trying to get up, using her sword as leverage. The chant ended abruptly on a high note that surprised everyone, since following it everyone in the room was frozen from an energy spell.
"You are surprisingly more tenacious than you look, i'll give you that," said calmly the spirit "but it's time for me to show you my love." Then she turned towards Freya, who had lost her helmet and had been trying to get Mikoto before freezing up; the monster picked both easily like toys, then tossed the Genome the same way she had done with Garnet, letting her land near the other girls. Freya could only look in terror as Lakshmi caressed her and then started to kiss her forcefully, her tounge invading her mouth. It was as if her own soul was being ripped apart, yet the situation was equally giving her arousal, hazing her mind and making her head heavy.
She weakly tried to move an arm but instead let it fell through, abandoning herself. It was just her and Lakshmi now.
Freya lost the grip of her spear, letting it fall with a heavy splash in the spring below.
Beatrix was trying her hardest to break from the spell, not even able to cry from the situation.
All had lead to this.
Her invitation to the dragoon that night had lead to this.
It was her fault.
She had sworn to protect the royals of Alexandria but she hadn't been able to protect someone she loved deeply.
Would have she able to stand the stares of Garnet or everyone else?
If they even survived for that matter.
She needed just one chance, one opening.
She suddenly felt as if the spell was weakening around her: it was her occasion.
With a roar, she struggled to move her arms until something invisible shattered with a loud crack. Not even giving a moment of truce, she took her one occasion and threw her Save the Queen like it was a javelin towards the creature, finding her target square in the left lobe. Lakshmi this time fell silently, losing contact with Freya, both plummeting in the water below. Beatrix dived in as well and started swimming frantically, the adrenaline giving her the strenght she needed.
She found Freya's almost unconcious body on the floor, blocked by what appeared to be the primal's lower body, a snake tail. "Heavens, this thing is a lamia?!" thought to herself while trying to move the tail to free the dragoon, who was barely holding her breath at this point. "Come on, move!" she yelled mentally, bubbles escaping her due to the force she was applying.
It was at that point that she noticed the Burmecian's spear near her, so she grabbed it and used it as a lever, not too preoccupied if it had jammed in the beast's flesh. It produced better results and just as Freya was starting to lose the last of her air, she got free. Beatrix grabbed her and passed some of her air with a kiss while ascending, though the noticed with her eye's corner that the submerged Lakshmi was also expelling bubbles.
Breaking the surface, she noticed the Burmecian wasn't breathing, her white hair floating in the water below. "No no no no." she thought panicking before trying again to breathe into her. "Breathe, damn you!"
She then grabbed her from behind and tried abdominal thrusts, wich produced better results in water being spewed over.
"Uhb-blarg-"
After that, the general was happy to notice Freya was managing to breath again, though she was looking visibly tired. "Th... thank you..." she said weakly while the two were reaching the shallow end where the other girls had been freed from the spell.
"I swear i will not let this happen again!" Beatrix told her while crying, their foreheads touching.
"Relax, general." she responded while weakly caressing her face, moving a string of wet hair "It's over now, isn't it?"
The Alexandrian shook hear head: it was too good to be truth, but they had at least regained a moment of rest. Eiko was taking advantage to heal the wounded and tired, including Mikoto and Garnet. The queen pulled up using her staff for sustain herself, then rested her back on the wall, her face a mask of regret and sadness.
"Your highness!" yelled Beatrix leaving Freya to the mercies of Eiko "Are you alright?"
"...i told you to call me Garnet here." she answered with a fake smile "I'll explain all of this later, but now there's no time to waste. Erin, do you have the key i sent with the letter?"
The sailor nodded while showing her the iron key she had kept in her pocket.
"Good. Then i need you to unlock the control panel, then get Mikoto and get out of here locking the secret passage behind you."
Erin was confused and worried by that statement. "G-Garnet, why are you saying this?" she asked timidely.
"You and Mikoto are not suited for combat, and besides, i need you to find me someone. You must know Alleway Jack, right?"
"The Tetra Master pro player? Of course i know him, but why-"
The queen gave the Lindblumian a small letter with the Alexandria symbol on it. "I know he has a home here in the city. After you've brought Mikoto to safety, just give him this," she said "and follow him in case he needs assistance. Please, it's a life or death matter, trust me."
Erin noticed extreme seriousness in her eyes: in the years, Garnet had managed to truly become a monarch capable of taking important decisions and the consequences tied to them. Reluctantly, she nodded, then took a recovering Mikoto and put the iron key in the control panel, wich flashed briefly to signify all functions had been unlocked. Then she started to walk to the door at the end of the corridor, turning one last time with a worried smile on her face.
"I'll see you all again on the other side, right?" she asked. Dagger just smiled and nodded.
Just as the door was being locked from the outside, Lakshmi emerged from the spring with a roar, the Save the Queen still jammed in her head. She grabbed it with two fingers and painfully pulled it away before throwing it at the owner, thankfully with poor aim enough to miss the target. "You petulent worms!" she yelled "I had enough of you! Now you will bow before me!"
The group standed tired in front of the spirit, Garnet in front of everyone, the heat and steam of the place permeating the air. "You won't do anything, Lakshmi." said the queen calmly "You think you have won, that you are a master manipulator, but you haven't counted our resolve and adaptability. It is you who will go down now, and this time you'll never infest our world again!"
"We are at your side, queen Garnet." said Beatrix posing a hand on her shoulder while picking the Save the Queen from the ground "You have my sword, as always."
"And you have my racket." said Eiko enthusiastically.
"And my spear." nodded Freya with a smile, her weapon resting on her shoulder as usual.
"AND MY AXE!" yelled Lani for last, planting her weapon in the ground.
Garnet now had a more sincere smile on her face. "Thank you, my friends, really." she said almost in tears. Then she turned towards Eiko and said "I need you to go to the control panel and raise the blue lever to its limit while deactivating the purple one. We'll keep Lakshmi busy in the meantime." The Madain Sarian wasn't understanding what would have happened but complied by running towards the machine.
Dagger then turned to the other three. "I think it's time i finally put to use the spell i've been working on." she said "There's no guarantee it will work but it's the best shot we have right now." Lani was the more concerned one.
"Wait, what are you-?" she tried to say before stopping for a second, connecting the dots. Her expression changed quickly to panic.
"Our enemy is able to regenerate," said Beatrix "so we need an unconventional way to kill her and prevent the healing. I think queen Garnet's idea is the only thing i can think of that can work, unfortunately."
"Still, i understand the responsability i'm taking with this." said the summoner tightening her grip on her staff "Me an Eiko will try our best in case something goes wrong, it's the least we can do." Still slightly worried, Lani nodded, then dodged a light beam directed towards her.
"Then let's keep this monster company for now." she said before launching into the frey once more.

-O-

It seemed the storm had stopped at least for a while. Pulling himself up from the ground he had plummeted onto, Amarant dusted his clothes wondering what should he do; the girls had certainly disappeared somewhere but good luck knowing the location.
The monk cursed them and their trickery, then started to go towards the castle, probably the best source of clues, wondering if Zidane and the others were still in their deep sleep. Just as he was reaching the moat, he noticed a boat coming from the castle, piloted by the engineer Erin and with Mikoto on it too. Just what was going on?
Erin noticed him first so as soon as they got off the boat, she stated to him what they were supposed to do, much to his skepticism. "You seriously think i'm gonna believe you after what you've done to me?!" he almost yelled at them "I should give you to the guards until you confess what you've done to the queen!"
"Please, Amarant." said Mikoto weakly "The life of Garnet and all of us depends on this."
He was about to roar some more but just then he noticed that strangely enough, every single fish in the moat was escaping very fast towards the falls who lead to the lake below the city. Then a huge roaring sound echoed through the air as if someone had detonated a bomb monster underground and to the eyes of the three, the moat started draining considerably, to the point where only a few inches of water had remained.
"This is what we feared!" pleaded Erin "Please, help us getting to Jack, mister Amarant!" The monk looked around for a second, almost to collect his thoughts on the whole affair, then growled.
"Fine." he said reluctantly "But you better tell the truth once we're done."
The two girls nodded and along with him started sprinting towards the houses of Alexandria.

-O-

It happened too quickly for Lani to process it entirely. A huge thundering roar shook the room like it was a doll house, then as if they were animated to life, the Leviathan statues started emitting water with a much higher pressurized jet than the usual, and immediately the level of the hot spring got over the borders of the edges, flodding the entire room and from there started rising with nothing letting the liquid escape. Soon all the girls had to float with their heads above the surface, though with the warriors it was harder due to the equipment.
"Garnet, please, do something!" yelled the bounty hunter sputtering water in her efforts to try staying above, the ceiling getting closer and closer.
"...here goes." answered the queen after a brief sigh before pointing her staff towards her, Beatrix and Freya "Bubblega!"
Three strings departed from the Whale Whisker's fin and wrapped themselves around the heads of their targets, giving them a small cover that was similar to an air bubble yet closer in shape to their heads. Just in time too, since the water level had reached the ceiling leaving no air pockets to use. Beatrix was the first to try out the new buff on her and reported the spell was allowing her to breath, acting as a sort of magical filter; the other two followed suit before dodging another magic beam tossed by Lakshmi.
The spirit had been surprised by the whole event and had not managed to react swiftly, so now she was trying to hit the walls of the room with her fists and her spells, all in vain.
"It's no use, Lakshmi." spoke slowly Garnet to her, floating in the middle of the flooded room "This place is right next to the core of Alexander, the very foundations of this building, reinforced through the work of the engineers of Lindblum: there is no magic nor strenght that can break these walls." Then she pointed her staff as the other girls gathered around her. "This will be your tomb, the very thing you allowed me to desire shall be your undoing!"
The entity could respond only with a small bubbly growl. Beatrix noted as before that it seemed she needed to hold her breath as well, though she suspected her capacity outlasted the average human limits. In the meantime, they should have kept her busy.
Moving her axe in the water was more taxing than usual, but Lani was strong enough to keep it and swim at the same time; Freya and Beatrix seemed much more at ease despite having heavier armor sets on them. Now she had just resigned to the fact that the place hated keeping her clothes dry. She charged in with another yell, though it seemed the spell casted on them didn't allowed their voices to echo through the water like with the case of Garnet and Eiko's gift. The bounty hunter rotated horizontally this time around while Lakshmi was busy dodging a sword slash from Beatrix, and hit the pointy end of the snake tail, slicing it and causing the spirit to grunt away some bubbles in pain, biting her lower lip.
"Blagh!"
Freya took advantage of that, bending her legs on a wall before propelling herself like a projectile, her spear firm in her grasp and the water swirling around her, trepassing a shoulder like an harpoon finding its target in the sea. Lakshmi shrieked again in pain, her muffled voice reeking of sensuality, almost as if she was enjoying her pain.
"AUGHBL-"
Beatrix recovered from the missed blow and slashed the chest of the creature, causing a deep cut that ruined dress, flesh and muscle, the ichor mixing with the water. This time however, the primal grabbed her just as she was pulling the Save the Queen from the wound, and the general dreaded while not being able to move what was about to happen next. It wasn't just her vital essence, this time she would have sucked away her air too. However, just as the entity was opening her mouth for her deadly kiss, Garnet and Eiko arrived at high speed, their weapons at hand before yelling together an echo that resonated in the entire chamber.
"IT'S-OVER!!!"
And with that, they jammed the pointy ends of staff and the racket in the being's throat, causing Lakshmi to gag due to the pain and start losing uncontrollably air mixed with godly blood. Dropping Beatrix and clasping a hand on her mouth was pointless, as the wound was letting whatever had remained in her lungs go out like in a broken pipe. For good measure and probably for taking more credit for herself, Lani arrived from behind and planted her axe in the back of the being, though now it wasn't necessary anymore: her death was imminent. And it didn't take long indeed for Lakshmi to just give up and let a scream of pain and pleasure pervade the room, making the girls cover their ears. While her figure was sinking to the floor of the spring like an autumn leaf, she tried to utter some words in her remaning breath.
"Blidrben... i'bl comb-black for blu... blu... arebn't... safbg... bany... boreblblbl."
And with that, her body began to glow an intense light until it disappeared, leaving no trace of golden ichor or body parts anywhere: the being had returned to the immaterial realm from whence she came.
"She said she would find a way to return." summarized Garnet, floating calmly towards the floor "However, i will not allow that to happen, i swear."
"Here's hoping." echoed Eiko coming near her "Now what though? We made quite the mess."
"We need to reactivate the purple lever, that should make the pumps drain the water back to normal levels."
Freya went to the control panel to do that, noticing that apparently the machine had not been damaged by the influx of water. However, when she turned the purple lever, nothing happened, causing a look of worry on everyone's faces. The Burmecian signaled that it wasn't working.
"Garnet, what do we do? We can't keep up being stuck here." said worryngly Eiko. The other summoner didn't seem to have an answer, her face showing the same preoccupation that was in front of her.
Just in that moment, with a soft popping sound, the spell around Freya, Beatrix and Lani broke, exposing them to the water again. The bounty hunter had dropped to the ground due to the weight of her axe and the combat having tired her and was weakly trying to contain her breat with her free hand on her mouth. Garnet reached her and gave her extra air with a kiss, noticing in the meantime Beatrix had reached Freya and embraced her.
In this moment of desperation, Garnet could only pray that her gambit worked.
It was then that it happened.

-O-

"How long is this pantomime gonna go?"
Amarant was losing his patience again, as Erin and Alleyway Jack were almost at the moat again. They had found him in his house on the main road and as soon as he read the letter from Garnet he had told them to accompany him to where they had come from, leaving Mikoto in the house to rest.
"Patience, monk. Isn't that a virtue you should follow?" said Jack with the deliberate intention of punctuate his flaw. The four-handed treasure hunter was looking at the castle, almost as if he was searching a specific point; then he felt something, turning slightly to the left and with an exclamation shaped his fingers as if he wanted to take a picture.
Erin was near Amarant, worried; she had not the time to read the content of the letter and had no idea what that Tetra-Master player was capable of doing to help the others. And as if it wasn't enough, they would have had to explain everything to the monk afterwards anyway: simply put, the day had taken an even worse direction than they thought, even now that the clouds seemed to be dissipated entirely.
Jack made one of his right arms rotate as if he was about to toss a ball and then pointed it at the floor of the moat, where a dark disk-like portal appeared with a loud swooshing sound: it was as if he had opened a geyser hidden in the bowels of the earth, because clean water started erupting from it, and a few seconds later, Garnet, Beatrix, Freya and Lani followed suit, falling afterwards with loud splashes.
"What the-" yelled Amarant in surprise before launching himself in the moat to get the girls on land, followed by Erin. Soon enough, the four were safe and while visibly tired, they seemed to not be in critical conditions.
"Let's-" said Garnet slightly gasping "let's go to my chamber in the castle, we can discuss everything better there."

-O-

Garnet was resting in her bed while the other girls had been placed on chairs all around it, wrapped in blankets with some hot tea in hand; even Mikoto had been brought back by Jack just so everyone could be there.
"...and that's all." concluded the queen with a sigh. Amarant was standing in front of the bed, arms crossed and a stren look on his face.
"And i should believe all of this?" said the monk, more desperate than angry "Even so, you know how your actions have almost doomed the world? Not to mention all of the secrecy behind your husband's back; i'm the first for pranking monkey-butt there, but i think your standards are too far gone."
"Like we said though," interveened Beatrix "we know what we're doing and it's not meant to backstab anyone, yet we wanted absolute privacy for this."
"Do i need to remind you that THE ENTIRE CAPITAL OF A KINGDOM ALMOST COLLAPSED IN ONE DAY?!" yelled the monk, making everyone jump on their spot "You are fooling yourselves with the illusion of control, yet are missing potential danger that is under your nose! What if it happens again? Or what if something else pops up? What then?! Will you destroy a continent just to have your private orgies?!"
He waited a few seconds of silence before finishing his rant "You make me sick."
"You're not wrong, Amarant," said Eiko calmly after a few more seconds of silence "but you must understand in the other way. Let's say you or us tell everything to Zidane as soon as he wakes up: what benefits will happen from that aside from more misunderstandings and unnecessary angst? We can make sure events like this won't happen again, but we can't compromise the secret we have built here."
The other girls in the room nodded, including the queen. Amarant looked at all of them and then let out a small yell of frustration, then took the now blank painting where Lakshmi used to be. "Go to hell, all of you." he growled while exiting the room "I'm done with this, sooner or later you'll see how i was right." His rumbles of frustration could be heard even while he was getting through the castle corridors.
"He'll be fine;" said Lani with a dismissive getsure "though don't you two have a memory-erasing spell or something that could have come in hand?" asked to Garnet and Eiko.
"No, Lani." answered stern the Alexandrian "That would have been really stepping over the line. Amarant had all the rights to be angry at us, even if it won't change our decisions."
After that sentence, Jack waited if anyone else had anything to add, then stepped forward. "If you're done then," he said "i'll take my payment and be gone myself."
Everyone looked at Garnet puzzled, but she simply nodded and put the Whale Whisker on her bed so that he could take it. "It was the only way." she said "I know you prefer swords, but i think this should suffice enough for what you did for us."
The four-armed treasure hunter took it and roteated it to feel its weight and balance, then nodded with a satisfied smile. "Yes, you're correct." he answered "But i'll also uphold my part of the bargain and just keep it for myself for now. Not that i think you'll be able to take it back from me, ah ah ah." While he was laughing, Dagger exchanged looks rapidly with Erin. Then he left the room with his new treasure balanced on his shoulder.
"The sleeping spell should be lifted off in a few hours," said Garnet "and with Amarant taking the painting, we shouldn't have the problem of that mad eidolon again."
"About that:" asked Freya "is it true what she said to us? That she didn't manipulated you at all?"
"You're correct, Freya. My desires and love have always been my own, though i guess she... i think pushed my lust more of what i would have thought. Yet weirdly enough, it felt good. Look at all of us: we had problems and stress of all kind before our meetings, and now we are stronger in body and spirit. And i think in the end that's what matters."
"Still," said Beatrix "Amarant was right, we almost doomed the world without knowing it until it was nearly too late. We should be more precocious on our decisions."
"So," said timidely Mikoto after having empties her teacup "now what do we do?"

-O-

Ruby had just finished her performance for one of her comedies and had headed to her changing room to put up her regular dress.
A few weeks had passed since "The Accident" as Queen Garnet and King Zidane had called it, apparently a simple discharge of magic gone wrong, but in 48 hours the citizens of Alexandria had managed to get back to their homes and reprise their lives calmly, as if nothing ever happened. And it might as well be, since neither the town nor the castle had reported significant damage anywhere.
But now people needed something to distract themselves and that to Ruby meant more clients for her theatre: with this rhythm, she would have had enough to expand herself and gain more notoriety. Who knew what would have happen next, maybe a side theatre in Lindblum or Treno? Or maybe a full airship like the Prima Vista with her as the company leader? She was giggling like a schoolgirl just at the thought. It seemed her hard work to make her passion project worth it had paid off all the stress and fatigue she have had to endure all these years.
A loud knocking at her door made her recover from those fantasies; she was still in a presentable state, so she allowed whoever was outside to enter. It turned out to be Blank, still stitchy as ever yet with a new fancy sword behind his back. "How's it going, Ruby lips?" he said with a hand gesture.
"Not to shabby, boy." she answered with a wink and curiosity "Company's goin' strong as a good bred horse. What brings you 'round my home now?"
The performer answered by giving her a letter with the royal Alexandrian wax sigil on it. "The queen's general, Beatrix, gave it to me this morning." he said "No idea what's on it but she said it was exclusively for you."
Ruby raised an eyebrow hearing that: what could Zidane and his wife wanted from her anyway? She quickly opened the letter noticing the particular perfume it was imbued with, and the more she read, the more her eyes started to shine.
"So what do they want?" asked Blank "Is Zidane getting tired of his old family and wants another theatre company for one of his parties?"
"None of your darn buisness, bucko, now out!" she answered with a scuffle, pushing away the poor Tantalus out the door despite his protests. After closing the door, she turned and had another smell at the letter, almost to confirm something, then she started looking in her wardrobe what to wear, the letter resting near her mirror, the light of the candle showing a single signature, the one of queen Garnet Til Alexandros XVII.