Astoreth looked around the abandoned church. The people of Svyatylysche had a strange obsession with constructing and then abandoning churches… Then again, they tended to draw attention from the celestial and infernal quarrelers and suffer damage that made them no longer worth maintaining. What a delightfully mad city.

"You've done well for yourself, Rusalka." Astoreth was speaking to a projection, a magical image of a Masui. The last Masui, just like Astoreth herself was the last Hild.

Rusalka was clever, more clever than Nocnitsa, the Hild who brought her into the coven that served the legendary Hild. Rusalka was held back by severe attachment issues though, which Nocnitsa exploited to their fullest.

The near human Masui did not look like she was doing well. Astoreth couldn't even tell if the Masui was lucid. Her bloodshot eyes switched from aggressive focus to distracted searching at random intervals. Her visible skin was covered in scars, scabs, and fresh lacerations where it appeared she had been clawing at her own flesh. Her clothes were stained to match the color of sewage water and the rust of the pipes it flowed through. Her hair had grown wild like an ivy consuming the ruins of an old home and was too filthy to perceive the coloration. Her body was gaunt from malnourishment.

Astoreth continued her greeting. "Very well, given Nocnitsa told me she had done away with you like the rest of her 'unnecessary baggage.' Did she lie to me for your sake or did you survive in spite of her efforts to liberate herself from past attachments?"

Nocnitsa had broken her protege's mind completely so that Rusalka couldn't even feed herself by her own volition. At least, that had been the goal. The Masui must have rediscovered some shreds of her individuality after the death of her cherished tormentor.

She survived for ten years after all. All to throw life away by making the same mistake as those she aspired to join.

They could have left Astoreth alone as well. They could have accepted that she truly was different from them and wanted nothing to do with their teacher's profane legacy.

"Mistake…" The Masui croaked. She'd always been a charming one. Perfectly capable of playing any part but when she had no role it was this broken speech. "Your creation… mistake. Your survival was… a mistake. Your admittance into the coven was… mistake. Even your name… a mistake."

Astoreth shrugged dismissively. It wasn't the first time she'd heard any of these accusations and she'd even named herself after a typographical error to embrace the ideas. Why would she care about living up to the ideals that lead her legion and later coven to their destruction? "I am what I am."

Astoreth lifted her hand up to study her fingernails. With a wave of her fingers and twirl of her wrist her dark claws manifested over the digits. "I considered recruiting you, briefly, but even before seeing you like this I decided that was a mistake. Why did you dupe those pathetic celestials into attacking my home, Rusalka? You must know how this will end."

The Masui sneered. "Hurt you. Take from you. You took her from me." There was an emptiness in her eyes that would have broken Chandrakanta's heart. Astoreth felt little grief for her enemy. She was an enemy.

Astoreth prodded the conversation along. She needed more time to finish tracing the source of this communication spell. Another point of evidence for Rusalka's complete descent into madness; she wasn't taking steps to prevent herself from being found this way. "Why now? You've had ten years."

The Masui blinked slowly and then stretched her lips into a deranged smile. "Now you are weak."

Astoreth's eyebrow twitched. "I'm weak now, am I?"

Rusalka laughter sounded like a bullfrog choking. "You gave yourself to a human. They are weak. Made you weak."

Astoreth flexed and then curled her fingers without making a fist to avoid driving the points of her gauntlets into her palm. "We'll see if I'm weaker or not. I'm done with your rambling," meaning Astoreth had finished her tracing spell and knew where she had to hunt next. "I'm assuming you set some sort of trap for me, Rusalka. You certainly didn't go through all of this effort to chat."

Rusalka's eye twitched and her head listed to the side dramatically. "Trap you. Yes. Yes I did. Die." A pokeball popped into existence from where it had been stored in a temporary extra-dimensional pocket. The capture device disgorged its occupant with a torrent of red energy.

The figure that coalesced was a very near human female with burnished bronze skin. Following the contours of her body were flowing, gold colored, calligraphic tattoos that evoked images of wind and water currents, flowers, trees, stone architecture, and abstract geometric patterns. She was nearly as ragged as the Masui who had been holding her captive and also covered in wounds of varying freshness. Much more diverse and numerous than those upon her host. Her hair was white and trimmed close enough to the scalp that the gold patterns on her crown could be seen through the fuzz. The pokegirl alertly scanned her surroundings with frantic energy. Her silver-white eyes met Astoreth's gold and the blue skinned infernal veteran felt the same sensation she perceived when she stared at her own reflection in the mirror for too long. A primal recognition of an imminently dangerous creature.

Six wings billowed into existence and bit the air to launch the Seraph forward for her first strike. Astoreth was caught off guard twice, once when she failed to detect any psychic giveaway that the attack was coming and another when the Seraph moved far swifter than any member of her breed had any right to. Astoreth had fought faster foes, and managed to twist away from the punch to her solar plexus.

One of the wings shimmered with energy and smashed into Astoreth’s upper arm. The veteran infernal recognized the pain of a fresh fracture in her humerus. The Seraph’s other five wings all beat in varying directions which corrected her momentum. A leg swept for Astoreth’s ankle, the infernal pulled her foot back but too slowly as her celestial opponent beat her wings once more and accelerated the turn of her body. Astoreth shifted her balance and manifested her own wings to help her correct while keeping her arms up to protect herself. The celestial warrior rocketed up and forward with another six powerful downbeats, breaking through Astoreth’s guard with another uncanny burst of speed. One hand pushed both of the mighty infernal’s away, the other shot for the throat. Astoreth tensed with all the might she could to buy more time with an open airway.

The Seraph’s razor focus faltered and her knees buckled. The overwhelming strength and speed were gone. Impotent fury filled her eyes as the blow failed to cause any damage and she squeezed with her dwindling might. One after another, her muscle’s failed and she was soon grasping at Astoreth’s shoulders to stay upright rather than her throat to asphyxiate. Her grip slipped and she started to fall when a blue hand seized her wrist and pulled her to dangle upright.

"Stupid girl," Astoreth snarled under her breath. "Your little surprise could have done the trick if you hadn't tortured her to the brink of death beforehand." The infernal pressed her other palm into the Seraph’s chest and poured in healing energy.


The milk pail and canister were sat out in their place, one of Elena's dining chairs was pulled away from the table with a tiny stool at its feet for Chandrakanta. Everything was ready to begin the daily ritual of Isaac milking the buxom Megami, but before they had begun they had an audience of one.

"Candi… Isaac," Elena was in a robe with a cup of tea with dwindled contents. "I know I'm interrupting your time together but…" The Grandelf shifted nervously and toyed with a lock from her bangs. She let it go without tucking it behind her ear when she continued speaking. "Candi, I… miss you pes- asking for my help with your lactating. I thought it was refreshing for you to always go to Isaac for a while but… I miss you."

Chandrakanta darted over and gently hugged the Grandelf. "It's okay, Nel. I can get rather persistent and you have a strong dislike for interruptions."

Elena pulled herself deeper into the Megami's embrace for a half second and then lifted herself up to face Isaac. "Well, Isaac, is it alright with you if I poach some of your time away? Candi, is it alright with you?"

Isaac and Chandrakanta had actually discussed this eventuality, at least according to the prescient celestial, after Astoreth made the same request a few weeks back. The blue skinned infernal also missed the attention from her celestial bosom buddy. So it took nothing more than a shared look to agree to Elena's request. Chandrakanta answered verbally. "That would be fine, Nel."

"If you want, you could have every Wednesday," Isaac offered.

Elena's ears twitched as her expression quickly shifted from surprised to speculative. "I wasn't thinking about making this a regular thing, but Wednesdays might be nice. I'm struggling to fill my days with meaningful activity since…" She finished her thought with an inarticulate sound of exasperation.

Chandrakanta's prismatic eyes vanished behind the smile after a brief glimmer. "Well, I can't give you every day, I'd miss Isaac's touch too much." Her eyelash fluttered as she winked at him. "He has very good hands."

Isaac felt an embarrassed laugh bubbling up, but then he felt the crack of Astoreth's bone from the Seraph's Steel Wing strike. He dropped into the empty chair, clutching his arm and bit down on the scream of pain that would otherwise escape. Something in his mind then released its grip on his speech so he emphatically made use of his favorite piece of profanity, the venerable, “Fuck!”

"Isaac," both Grandelf and Megami called out with voices heavy with concern.

"It's Star," he explained through clenched teeth. "The bond. She's fighting someone and…,” Isaac suddenly relaxed. “She was fighting someone. It feels like it's over now."

He reached out across the bond. 'Star, are you okay? Your-'

'Sorry, Isaac. I was caught off guard and didn't stop the pain from slipping through. I'm fine, but I do have a unique issue I could use Candi's help with. She's there with you; it's milking time, correct?'

More information was telepathically transferred before Isaac shared with the other two Big Sisters. "Star is safe and Honorata can take us to her. She's mending a fractured humerus, wants me to bring my gear, and has a ‘guest’ she needs Candi's help making welcome."

Chandrakanta's eyes opened enough that the whites could be seen. "Star said she needs help? With a guest? Oh dear…"

A hop, skip, and teleport later and Isaac and Chandrakanta were on Astoreth’s property. An especially grim looking Honorata was waiting with a rented electric car. She drove them to the abandoned church. Inside was Astoreth looming over her defeated opponent. The Seraph was sitting in a meditative posture on a pew that still survived; partially cocooned in Rune Chains. She had her eyes closed and her breaths were as slow as the minute hand traveled around a clock face.

She was dressed in a hoodie cut in a style to emphasize the female form. The fabric was far too stretched out about the chest for the Seraph and the seams in the sleeves were threatening to burst in many locations. It belonged to Nadezhda, one of many, but it wasn’t a Saturday so the Succubus wouldn’t be wearing any of them and this was her oldest. The imprisoned celestial’s pants belonged to Astoreth. They were comically oversized on the pokegirl but she had refused skirts and no one else had pants with wide enough thighs. So the excess waist had been tucked in and held in place with safety pins. The same ingenious devices kept the legs rolled up around her ankles.

None of her wounds were fresh but she was not clean enough to evaluate for scarring. Her body was wiry and tense, she looked like she was suffering the beginnings of starvation. She opened her eyes, very bright eyes, almost white. Isaac was reminded of something he’d recognized before in a few people but never knew what to call. It wasn’t a happy thing in her eyes. Far from it.

“A tamer,” she spoke clearly and her words brought the sensation of force with them. Her tone was deep, not as deep as Astoreth's and lacking the resonation that made it even deeper. It reminded Isaac of women imitating a stereotypical tough guy. Low and tight in her diaphragm. “And your Megami friend. My captor appeared to be a Megami. I followed her when I sensed she was false.”

Astoreth rolled her eyes and spoke without turning to face the Seraph. “And you were careless and got caught in one of Rusalka’s traps.”

“As were you, Samaritan.”

Astoreth’s voice gained a dangerous edge. “Yes, but I got myself out of mine." The infernal locked eyes with her Megami friend's. "Candi, be a dear and find the off button on this one.”

Chandrakanta was keeping her face carefully neutral. She was studying the captive Seraph intently, examining her internal energies as she approached. "You said you could feel the deception in your captor's illusion. Do you sense the same thing in me?"

The Seraph remained standoffish for a moment but then broke away eye contact by shifting her stare to the left. "I do not, but I am weak and my senses are dulled."

"Would it help if Astoreth used the same concealment spell to appear as if she was a Megami," Chandrakanta asked. "You could then compare the genuine article against the counterfeit."

"You said you were not with her yet you share spells?" The Seraph was back to focusing on the towering Hild and once more assumed defensive hostility.

Astoreth sighed and buried the fury where only a delta bond or aura sight could reveal. "Not that it's any of your business but I am the last surviving Hild in existence. Rusalka, your former captor, is likewise the last Masui, the evolutionary step before becoming a mundane Hild. We received the same instruction, directly for myself and by proxy for Rusalka, by the creator of both breeds. That would be the legendary infernal mage, Hild, who  thankfully has been absent and by all indications dead for eleven years now. I thought we'd have a solemn and quiet service but the others decided betrayal and murder were a better way to memorialize the passing of our teacher." Astoreth glared at a spot on the floor and darkly muttered. "She probably would have preferred their style." Her glare transferred to the Seraph. "Impersonating a Megami allowed us to better serve her designs so we were all instructed in creating that specific glamour."

Chandrakanta put a hand on her infernal friend's dangerously tight shoulder and dug her fingers into the bundle of muscle fibers with a firm massage. "Star, she's just scared."

"Then she can act scared and not like she's trying to convince me I made a mistake sparing her life!" It suddenly clicked on Isaac's mind what was going on. The Seraph was afraid of Astoreth, Astoreth held all of the power by keeping her captive. Astoreth was afraid of the Seraph. The infernal veteran had been totally overwhelmed by her opponent and would likely be dead if not for a miscalculation.

She had a tiger by the tail and now was trying to negotiate letting it go. Or, it seemed, get someone else to grab hold.

She was a pretty tiger… The tattoos just begged to be discovered. They were all one coherent style and theme, which was more than Isaac could say regarding many tattoo enthusiasts. He shepherded his thoughts away from contemplating what statement was being made when it seemed to be more about getting the next tattoo and not the contents of the tattoo itself.

The Seraph sighed. She spoke with very little rhythm. “I’ll see you demonstrate your spell and use that knowledge to determine if your friend is true.”

Astoreth showed no response for a few seconds. Then a curtain of sulphuric smoke rolled over her body, which warped and compressed. Lightning the color of a harvest moon played over her skin.

Astoreth the Megami was shorter than Chandrakanta but still taller than Isaac. At the same time Isaac observed this he also noticed something that wasn't necessarily obvious while her skin was blue. Her skin was darker than her Seraph prisoner's. It was her nose that threw him off, it wasn’t what he expected. Much of Ethiopia was highlands and the region was also an early point of contact with Arabic peoples, so once he knew of her specific origins and it's ethnic history it would make sense to him. Her eyes were still gold, but they looked much dimmer with white sclera. She was lacking her horns but had two marks similar to their shape on her cheeks. They were the same shade of blue as her true skin color.

The Seraph rose with impeccable grace given the extent with which she was bound in conjured chains. She moved with a single potato sack hop. The jump placed her as close as she could be to the subject and the control. She was silent and unmoving again for a few seconds before she exhaled and slumped with defeat. “I am unable to determine more than the fact that your friend is different from both you and the one you call Rusalka while also being different from the other Megami I have known.” Astoreth and Honorata both became alert when the Seraph inclined her head and muttered, “There is only one bloodline among the Righteous, after all.”

“You’re Docheri?”

The Seraph answered Astoreth’s question instantly. “Former.”

Isaac felt lost and was about to ask for help when the information just sprang up from the recesses of his mind. Dwarfed in power and influence by the international Celestial Alliance; the Docheri Pravednika were notorious in Eastern Sapphire, Western Ruby, and Northern Crescent Moon for their reputation as an anti-infernal terroristic cartel. Orphans turned into child soldiers within the ranks of lesser cells of Celestial extremists, the most promising fighters were poached and groomed as assassins. All of them started out as victims of violence committed by infernal pokegirls; their induction only amplified their hate.

Astoreth’s eyebrows ratcheted up one click. “That’s not the type of organization that one walks away from.”

“No, but they don’t go looking for their dead.”

“Don’t play cute with me, I fixed your pulse.”

The Seraph was expressionless for a second. "Not the death of the body. I was executed in spirit for… questioning, and sent on my final mission to die in body. There is no room for doubt among the Righteous."

Chandrakanta reached out and started to dispel the Rune Chains link by link. Astoreth followed her movements with narrowed eyes but returned her focus to her prisoner with a tiny shrug. The Megami then asked the captive, “Would you please tell me your name?

The Seraph sadly shook her head. “My name was given to me by the Docheri. It is a part of myself that died." She looked a little thoughtful for a moment and then shared, "An elderly Angel who gave me shelter once thought ‘Ana’ suited me.”

“I see,” Chandrakanta responded while bowing her head. “You survived your final mission. Where did you go after not returning to the Docheri?”

“I returned East, where I was trained. My old masters put me on the path towards finding a new balance. After my time there, I returned to this city and tried to find a new way to live. It was not very long before I encountered her… classmate,” she said with a more delicate inflection than her usual tone.

Astoreth performed an incredibly subdued Gallic shrug. It was barely a roll of her eyes and shoulders, with a flex in her wrists while keeping her arms crossed. The corners of her mouth twitched.

Chandrakanta continued her gentle interrogation. “How long were you held? Would there be anyone looking for you?”

The Seraph’s tone was much gentler with Chandrakanta than when Astoreth had been the one communicating. “No, I did not stay anywhere for more than a single night. They were all very generous and I did not wish to impose. No one would know to look for me.”

Chandrakanta's eyes suddenly gleamed with a scheming light Isaac was easily able to interpret. "Well, I believe you need a proper name and home, and for that, you need a tamer."

The Seraph nodded, then froze mid-motion and her eyes became a little wide. Her moderately darkened skin flushed with deep red from her hairline to below the neckline of the poorly fitting hoodie she had been lent. Her attention snapped to Isaac but the focus of her platinum eyes was everywhere but the face of the only human in the room. Down at the floor, past his shoulder, over top of his head.

'Well, Isaac,' Chandrakanta's telepathic voice entered his mind. 'She is a very powerful fighter and pleasant enough.'

'What about her ties to the Daughters of the Righteous?' Isaac didn't want to deal with crazed zealots coming to reclaim their wayward member.

'I can help with that. You would be making Star very happy if you were to care for her.' Isaac looked towards the infernal who must have been including herself in the conversation because she was giving the meddlesome Megami the most intense glare of the morning. 'You want to keep her already, Star. We both know she is exactly your type, except she has the wrong sort of wings.'

Isaac felt a bit of confusion. 'What's wrong with her wings?'

'Bird, not bat,' Astoreth's mental voice was a low mutter.

'But Augusta…' Isaac let slip through.

'It's not actually about the wings, Isaac,' Astoreth replied with a mix of weariness and mirth. 'I do want to help her. Celestials in general do not integrate into my home very easily. I've given up on having them live with me. Candi has helped me with any of ‘my type’ I run into who are celestials before but a Docheri… Even other celestials won't want to associate with her.

‘It’s no exaggeration to say she’s a victim of brainwashing and while she knows she’s shaken most of it, she still feels its grip on her.’

‘She shared all of this with you,’ Isaac questioned with a feeling of incredulity layered underneath.

‘She’s a dark type so yes, she had to willingly share with me.’ The first thought was lip curlingly smug. The one that followed it was puzzled. ‘She’s a dark type but not a Fallen Angel. She still makes me feel all tingly the way only celestials do…’

‘Tenebrous Seraph,’ Isaac instantly shared.

Astoreth’s eyes gleamed as she intently locked onto him. That was the only revelation she needed to make sense of what had happened. She adjusted her shoulders, subtly using the movement to disguise the shift to a much more relaxed posture. ‘Tenebrous… Not exactly what I was expecting. I should warn you though, she was brought up in Crescent Moon.’

‘What’s wrong with that?’

‘Technically nothing, but she has some very traditional expectations that aren’t based on your traditions.’

Isaac was hesitant and considered things deeply and rationally before, during, and after discussing the matter openly with the Tenebrous Seraph, but, ultimately, of course he wound up adding her to his harem. The culture shock would come soon.


Crescent Moon was one of those cultures that viewed the relationship between pokegirl and human to be that of marriage, though not a marriage of equals. The first manifestation of this belief in Anahita, as she would come to be named through collaborative effort between Isaac and an anonymous Angel, was discovered one morning by Elena as she strolled through her now heavily occupied home.

Things were tidy. Pillows had been arranged, blankets had been folded. Dust removed. Floors swept, rugs cleaned. Isaac and his girls were not slobs but they almost always let chores pile up until a single day over the weekend. It was a Thursday and everything was already done.

What was more, there was a delicious smell of baking bread coming from the kitchen. When Elena entered the room to get her tea she found a Tenebrous Seraph chopping vegetables. She was humming, sometimes singing under her breath. It was in a language foreign to Elena, but she could recognize it was one of those spoken from the Seraph's home region. The tea kettle started to whistle before Elena could offer a morning greeting.

The shrill sound of steam escaping through the spout broke Anahita's concentration and she suddenly became alert. "Ah! I- I wasn't, I'm sorry I didn't mean to-"

Elena held up her hand. "Anahita, what are you apologizing for?"

The newly recruited celestial was confused to encounter Elena's confusion. "The… Singing was forbidden outside of the times we would assemble. I… still forget I'm not with them anymore."

Elena moved to the stove and started pouring hot water into the steeping kettle. "I don't mind your singing. You are very quiet and you have a pleasant enough voice. You cleaned the entire house. You're also making breakfast which is usually my job since I'm the first up. Did you sleep at all?"

The Tenebrous Seraph adopted a meek and embarrassed expression, girlish. "No. I do not sleep."

Elena felt slightly sheepish when she remembered a key detail. "Ah, right. The Tenebrous template grants the sleeplessness enhancement."

"Tenebrous template? That is what you call it, yes," Anahita performed a gesture with her head that was a quick bobbing bow. "I… don't want to fight, so I thought I could earn my keep like this." Elena's ears twitched. A Tenebrous Seraph who didn't want to fight? Her focus returned to Anahita's words as the words continued. "I can't find the foods I would use for breakfast. Will you show me what you would make?"

Elena moved towards the wash basin and grabbed the nearby block of soap. "Sure, Kuritsyns just dropped off three dozen eggs so omelets were going to be my plan."


"Her body is incredible," Jin muttered at a volume only Isaac could hear. They were at 'the Pit' outside of Dnipro.

The Vershnyk Elves wanted to learn how to fight, a lot of them. Their liberating Elfqueen wanted them to act on their own initiative and not concern themselves with her wishes. So they followed the leads of Luljeta and Golloriel and acted to serve Neasa in spite of her insistence that she was not their queen. There wasn't really a counterargument to be made, just a lot of grumbling. That was why Neasa approached her new harem sister with the request to provide some instruction.

Gabi and Mandi were also there, the gender-bending Titto eager to spend time with Isaac and his girls and the Oddtits dutifully following her master. Today Gabi was a few centimeters taller, more muscled, with broader shoulders than a week and a half ago. Eyes and hair color were both custard yellow and his skin was the average light shade of the region. All of the Voronas were still referring to the Titto using masculine language and Isaac's first impression was still deeply ingrained. So Isaac found himself defaulting on assuming the impossible as well.

One might think that having gone to bed with the Titto would make pronoun usage an easy matter. It didn't. There it was simply 'you,' 'I,' and 'we.' Gabi thought the matter was incredibly simple, just be whatever felt right in the moment, or whatever Isaac wanted. Except, as he had shared, Isaac didn't know what he wanted. Gabi took joy in the chaos of his identity. Her identity. Isaac did as well, except when it came to matters of diction.

Returning to the present commentary on physiques, Isaac had ran Anahita through a healing cycle first thing and it had restored her body to ideal health. Jin's evaluation was not off the mark. The cut of her muscles was no longer obvious while standing and relaxed, but every motion revealed the latent power and grace.

Right now Anahita was demonstrating guarding techniques with Oleksandra helpfully providing the incoming strikes. There were two obvious problems that quickly emerged. The first was that Anahita drastically outclassed the BATTLE Battle Angel in every physical capability. She had to hold back so that those watching the demonstration could even follow along and that restraint made her movements stiff.

The second was that the Seraph struggled to describe processes. Poor verbal communication skills overall, actually. Anahita’s struggles came from hesitation before each sentence, every pause to consider her words made the message seem a little less genuine. Her word choice was never very complex, either.

Neasa was as sharp as ever though and at least the Elfqueen was catching on and helping the others gain their own understanding.

"Do you think if I asked she'd let me… touch her? Her arms or her thighs or her back?" Jin's focus was lost and she became introspective. "Could I get muscles like that?" 

Isaac raised an eyebrow. Jin fixating on the new girl was not unexpected. This wasn't her usual jealousy though. Isaac decided to investigate the matter. "She's not really stronger looking then Astoreth and you don’t get like this around her."

"Astoreth isn't brimming with enchanting magic. I think she has at least three layers and I can't think of how to figure out what's going on with them unless I can get my hands on her and when I think about that I…" Jin's posture got straight and rigid. She squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head, causing her ponytail to whip back and forth behind her. A frustrated growl that was usually reserved for when Isaac felt like teasing her in the bedroom issued forth from the Enchantress' throat. "I just want to get her naked!"

Jin was being shy? What had gotten into her? "Did you ask her?"

"I can't just ask her, that's… that. I just can't."

Well this was an interesting reversal. Isaac still occasionally puzzled over why he had been so attracted to Vardan. He thought a lot of it might have been the recognition of masculine traits he admired, that he wanted for himself. This desire got tangled up in Isaac's more effeminate facets and sexual curiosity. Then there was Vardan's superhuman charm and compassionate support. Rationally, all it really took to enjoy sex was two adults willing to communicate their wants and needs. It was a naturally enjoyable experience. The trick was navigating all of the costs and benefits, both social and personal, short term and long.

Here in the world of pokegirls, the sexual market was abundant and forgiving. Perfect to explore.

Now the one hearing the call to expand her horizons was Jin and Isaac was the one offering affirmation and encouragement. What risks were there? Isaac wasn't sure, but he wasn't inclined to be quite so 'supportive' as Jin had been; not his style. Isaac settled on stating the obvious. "You have to make your interest known somehow."

"Maybe if we practiced I could sneak in a feel…" Jin said speculatively while Isaac was pretty sure the Enchantress' eyes were tracking Anahita's ass through the plain cloth trousers the Seraph chose to wear. Another manifestation of her traditional mindset, traditions long predating pokegirls, was what she felt was proper to wear. There was some conflict in that she couldn't move the way she wanted in a skirt, but her pants were long enough to hide her ankles and she also insisted on long sleeved blouses with a high neck. She even requested a head scarf to cover her shortly cropped hair. It left her tattoos almost entirely concealed and her fitness understated, at least until she moved. It would take a few more layers of cloth to hide what she was working with.

"For the record, I think that's a bad idea," Isaac said as he watched the demonstration wind down. "But if that's something you really want to try, now's your chance."

Jin pulled the black ribbon her ponytail was tied up in out. Her hands worked quickly to tie a top knot. With one last tug to snug up the hair tie, accompanied by a determined puff of air snorted out of her nose, the Edo born Enchantress stepped forward to issue her challenge. "Anahita," Jin called out with a tiny nervous crack in her voice, "want to spar?"

The incredibly pacifistic Tenebrous celestial appraised her challenger hesitantly. "I was going to watch the Elves practice and help them with the movements."

Jin made a show of sweeping her gaze over the assembled Elf militia, for what it was worth. The magic type rolled her shoulders as her head turned from right to left. "They're doing fine and I want to see what you can do. You're supposedly a match for Star-nee-"

"Starnay?" Anahita hadn't encountered Jin's idiosyncratic use of Japanese honorifics yet.

Jin rolled her eyes and made an inpatient noise in her throat. "Astoreth. You fought with her, right?"

"I wasn't in my right mind, I don't want to fight."

Jin tried to goad the Seraph into accepting the challenge. "Afraid of getting hurt?"

"No." Anahita said with a clear and firm voice and unflinching resolve.

It would soon become clear that Anahita's hesitance came from a desire not to harm her opponent. Jin interpreted her response differently, however. "Oh, you don't think I can, is that it?" The fiery Enchantress was getting hot. "I'm not asking anymore, you and I are going to face off."

Anahita protested meekly, which only provoked Jin more. The Enchantress was determined to have this fight happen, so much so that she had forgotten all about her lecherous initial motivations. So the two of them squared off inside of the Pit with everyone else moving out to the top of the edges. The trash that was dumped inside never accumulated too much. First it was stripped of any salvageable materials and then used as target practice by countless pokegirls eager to hone their combat skills. What remained after that was pushed up against the walls so that the middle was kept clear.

"Isaac, start us."

Isaac wearily complied with his Enchantress' undiplomatic request. "Jin ready? Anahita ready?" He had a positive response from both. All that was left was to shout out for them to, "Begin!"

True to herself and her habits, Jin opened up with a Mana Bolt. Based on the size and brightness Isaac estimated she had stopped at a half charge. The missile composed of raw magical energy raced through the air straight for Anahita. The Tenebrous Seraph extended a hand and caught the Mana Bolt in some sort of swirling field projected from her palm. The fighting celestial appeared to dance around the projectile and it followed her spin, like a comet caught in the orbit of a planet it passed by. With a flick of her wrist Anahita released the spell back at its caster after one hundred and eighty degrees of turning.

Jin's eyes shot wide open but with grit teeth and determinedly set brows she focused her concentration on dispelling her own energy before it impacted her. Anahita didn't follow up at all. A shift in Jin's jaw ground her frustration deeper into her molars.

Jin cast Rune Chains. Anahita redirected those as well, leaving the magical links coiled on the ground around her feet.

A burst of three Mystic Bolts, a Fireball, a second, fully charged Mana Bolt, and even a mundane, thrown rock were all deflected harmlessly. Anahita's gestures were graceful, flowing and sweeping. Like the currents of golden colored ink that flowed over her body. Isaac could sense that she was manipulating the magic somehow but she wasn't using magic of her own, so Isaac had no idea how she was accomplishing the feat. Even the thrown rock was directed away from her without catching it by applying an incredible amount of spin to its flight with a Flying type technique.

The Tenebrous Seraph was surrounded by an invisible defensive vortex, and Jin was enraged enough to charge for the eye of the storm. She pooled all of her magical reserves into an enchantment to boost her speed and dashed straight for her opponent with reckless abandon. With the bulk of her available magic tied up in boosting her enhancements, Jin fell back on her autodidactic meditative casting style, charging her touch with electric energy.

Anahita's image wavered and there was a shimmer and gust of wind all around the brash Enchantress. Jin found herself flying with no sense of how she came to be tumbling through the air after seemingly pushing through her target. She couldn't breath and her arm was bending too much.

Dust exploded into the air and Anahita suddenly appeared to intercept Jin's inevitable crash into the piles of scrap lining the Pit. The motion was something that didn't seem possible. The Seraph caught Jin and spun around with her in a way that robbed the Enchantress of the momentum granting her temporary status as a ballistic object.

Isaac didn't understand much beyond the fighting was over, the field hadn’t been altered or charged, and Jin looked hurt. He broke into a run to get to her and see what the damage was. Neasa followed, as did Oleksandra and Gabi with Mandi following along.

There were two situations where Jin's inner light shined. There were times where she was happily pouring her all into magic. Happy, energetic, and warm.

Then there were the times like now. Her eyes were wide open, so much that blood vessels normally concealed by the eyelids made them look bloodshot. The light was blazing and sputtering, a torch in a storm. She was trying to thrash but was held totally immobile by Anahita's overwhelming strength. Her left arm, the one she had extended for her Shocking Grasp spell, was bending in a direction impossible for healthy joints to bend. She had blood on the corners of her mouth and out of her nose. Her breathing was short, ragged gasps in and coughs out at the pace of hyperventilation.

Anahita was keeping the Enchantress immobilized while trying to heal her, but Jin's frenzy was only building. The air was starting to waver and spark around her as it became charged with the magical power she was desperately releasing in order to escape.

"Jin, Jin stop fighting I’m recalling you.” Isaac didn’t wait for a response, she would process the message inside the ball while she healed.

The red mass of energy lifted off of the Tenebrous Seraph, who rose to standing once she no longer had a panicked spellcaster to restrain. "I didn't want to fight," Anahita said in a voice begging for understanding. "I struggle to restrain myself and her technique surprised me."

"That's Jin," Isaac said in a voice heavy with emotional exhaustion as his lower mental processes wound down. "Full of surprises and starting things she can't always finish. Her entire style of magic is pretty wild."

The newest addition to Isaac's harem slightly pursed her lips in a frown and raised inquisitive eyebrows. "She was using a spell? I do not recognize it."

Isaac let out a breath that manifested as both a sigh and laugh while he sat the ancient PPHU that belonged to him on the ground. As he lifted the lid and placed his Enchantress' pokeball in the slot he responded with, "Yeah, no one else does either. Jin taught it to herself while she was mastering meditative casting." Speaking of not understanding techniques used…

Isaac looked from one point of Anahita's path of movement to the other, "Did you teleport there? You just disappeared and reappeared somewhere else."

Anahita’s face went blank as it always did when she was considering her words, but she never got them out before Neasa attempted to answer in her place.

“No, that wasn’t instant. I think she took three steps," said the tiny Elfqueen.

Oleksandra shared her observation. “There were five steps, she included a smaller initial step when she began and stopped.”

“It was seven," Isaac stated.

Neasa gave him a questioning look and then smiled knowingly, “How do you know? You thought she teleported.”

Isaac pointed at the ground between Anahita’s start and stop points “When you two mentioned steps I was able to make sense of the way the dirt flew. So I counted.” There were seven impact craters in the dry and compressed dirt. In the center of each was an imprint; about the size of the ball and toes of one of Anahita’s feet. Dirt was thrown in a wide fan in front of every step and in a narrower but longer spray behind.

The chime on the healing machine sounded so Isaac’s attention returned to the device. A flip of the latch and a press of a button saw a restored Enchantress from the Eastern coast of Edo materializing. Anahita brought her hands and feet together, slumped her shoulders, lowered her head, and raised her eyes as she began her apology. “I’m sorry, I overreacted when I sensed you-”

“I don’t care!” Jin shouted with a burst of wild aggression. Her hair tie had come out so her hair flew wildly as she turned away and stormed off. Isaac recognized the tightness in her back and arms, the tension in her face, and the moist glimmer in her eyes.

With a sigh the tamer turned to Anahita. “Sorry. Jin takes losing really hard and she doesn’t warm up to newcomers very quickly. I’ll go talk to her.” He followed the Enchantress towards a line of trees that had once been a wind break before half of the roots gave out from the sinkhole forming.

Anahita’s body language stayed meek and subdued. Neasa took a step towards the Seraph and patted the fighting type’s bicep gently. “Isaac kinda spoils Jin, probably without realizing it. We don’t bring it up because she’s pretty difficult to get along with if she doesn’t get the extra attention.”

Oleksandra’s ear tips touched together as she nodded her agreement. “I believe it is his fondness for her occasional usage of phrases from her native languages.”

Neasa made a half-hearted smirk. “Yeah, she definitely plays that up because he thinks it's cute. She’s his first pokegirl too. Plus, you know, Enchantresses.”

“No,” Mandi began ponderously. “Master says Isaac wants to help Jin because Jin reminds Isaac of hims-” Gabi cut off the Oddtits by clapping a hand over her mouth. Gabi’s social intuitions allowed the Titto to solve this puzzle ages ago, and Mandi had played the role of a sounding board. She was yet to grasp the meaning of things shared in confidence, though.