After Finn had joined Ais and Isaac on their new sofa, the interrogation soon proceeded to focus on Titania, who had been doing her absolute best to stay quiet and unassuming all this time. Maybe it was because she remembered her prior opponent's words, but she didn't show any ounce of greed or hostility towards 'Aria' anymore when the golden haired beauty in question started to demand answers. With her very fate depending on the mood of someone that she had considered mere prey before, she was trying her hardest to redeem herself and be as truthful as she could be.
At a few points, Revis' brows furrowed slightly, but the cold woman ultimately didn't interfere. It was likely that she wasn't all too pleased with what information was revealed, but she ultimately judged it to be not vital enough to make an, albeit futile, last-ditch effort.
Titania's life began after a Jewel Fetus had been used to contaminate a Titan Alm, the plant monster species that half of her body represented. Her first memory was from far before that, however. It was the still image of a beautiful golden haired Spirit, who looked to be a young woman. Both the woman's name, Aria, and the desire to devour her were intrinsically connected to this very first memory.
From what Isaac could guess, this wasn't a memory that the sof--- ahem, the Demi Spirit, had made in her state as a Jewel Fetus. It sounded more like a mission that was implanted in her mind by somebody. As to who exactly, he couldn't say, although he had a plethora of guesses and theories at hand. Still, as they were entirely unsubstantiated for now, he wasn't sure which of them would turn out to be true.
The entire time that Titania had been down here, she had mostly been in the company of Revis, who was her tamer. Maybe it was because only half of her could be considered to be a monster, but the woman didn't actually have too huge of an influence over her. She could freely decide whether or not she would heed her tamer's orders.
Aside from Revis, only one other 'person' had made their way down here before - a black robed figure who was called 'Ein'. They had never interacted, and she only knew their name because she had listened to Revis complain about them. Speaking of that tamer of hers, as they had spent most of their time together, she could be considered to be the Demi Spirit's only 'friend'. Or, well, 'acquaintance' would be the more fitting term.
As she had primarily been feeding on monsters, her life was anything but interesting. Her sole pursuit was growing stronger by devouring her prey, or to be more precise, their magic stones. Aside from that, the only relevant information that Titania had to share was that besides the Jewel Fetus that was currently on the 59th floor, there existed at least one other one. Originally, there had been three of them in this base, and she was the first one to be born. Close to a year later, Revis had disappeared with the second one to an unknown place, and now only the third one was left here.
Because the tamer in question didn't let even a single word slip when asked about this matter, the group could only reluctantly accept her silence. Nonetheless, Revis couldn't help but grow more nervous, as she could clearly feel that she became progressively less important in the eyes of her captors.
Suddenly, while Isaac was curiously sizing up his new sofa in relative boredom - mostly because being a mere bystander required basically no focus from him at all - his eyes widened in elation. A pleasant idea seemed to have come to his mind. When Ais' interrogation was basically over, he took this chance to ask a question.
"Titania, can you use those tentacles of yours to grasp objects precisely?"
Stressed about suddenly having been addressed by him, and perplexed by the seeming haphazardness of the inquiry, the sofa stiffened, then the Demi Spirit nodded her head. In an effort to reduce the number of questions that might be sent her way, she carefully explained the gist of the matter.
"Y Yes. They are just like additional hands."
A relieved smile spread across Isaac's face and he nodded happily, then he theatrically waved his hand, causing a small table to appear on the ground in front of them. On top of it, there was a tea set, a container full of steaming hot water, as well as a box full of tea leaves. Due to his almost ridiculous wealth, he had occasionally bought various odds and ends during his strolls through Orario.
"Great! Then please, make us some tea. I noticed that the Captain seems a little bit out of breath, and we could all use a small relaxing breather."
Isaac's words didn't only stump Titania, everyone else was also baffled, albeit for different reasons. Ais and Finn were briefly stunned due to the apparent randomness of the request, while Revis' mind was even further blown than before. Not only had objects appeared out of nowhere, but asking a monstrous existence like a Demi Spirit to perform an act this subservient appeared absurd.
At first, Titania almost instinctively felt a slight urge to retort, but when she recalled what situation she was currently in, she stiffly nodded her head and moved clumsily to meet Isaac's expectations. Although she struggled a little at first, as she had rarely handled such delicate tools, the control that she had over her own body was astonishing, so she didn't break anything and soon adjusted. Even the basics of how to make tea weren't hard to guess. After all, there were only hot water and tea leaves here - it didn't take a genius to figure out that the leaves would have to be placed within the water.
Thankfully, Isaac wasn't completely unreasonable. Sometimes. Like a generous saint, he patiently explained that she had to put some leaves in the tea pot first, then she would have to add the water and let the leaves steep for about five minutes. He carefully laid out every step, but it would have been slightly more complicated if the tea pot hadn't been preheated. The reason for this was that he hadn't wanted to waste much time while making tea, so before putting various tea pots into his inventory, he had warmed them up to the correct temperatures. Sadly, since then, he hadn't found the time to actually make any tea, which was why he didn't have any readily available. Yet.
During his tea making lesson, his companions looked at him oddly, but also with interest. Ais, at first, hadn't figured out his goal, but it didn't take her long to understand what he was aiming for, which caused a small smirk to play across her lips as she nodded to herself. Finn, on the other hand, didn't have nearly as well of a grasp on Isaac's thoughts as Ais did, so he couldn't be entirely certain about what was going on. In typical strategist fashion, however, he already had multiple theories about the young man's potential motives.
While Isaac had Titania give the first cup of tea that she had ever poured to Finn, he patiently waited for the Pallum's evaluation. No, he didn't use his Captain as a lab rat, banish the thought!
After taking a sip, Finn closed his eyes for a moment, before opening them again and showing a small smile. At this point, he didn't even bother going against the flow anymore, and just followed along with what his two young companions had in mind. It felt relaxing to not have to be steering the ship for once.
"Quite delectable, an outstanding first try."
Hearing this, Isaac smiled a little smugly and nodded to himself, as if he had just accomplished something grand. Well, his input had indeed led to this positive result, but it still hadn't been him who had performed the actual labour. Not that anyone really cared about that point. Besides Titania, who felt slightly offended at the sight of that damn smile.
'He praised me, okay!? Not you!'
Only after Ais and Isaac had also been handed their cups of tea did the totally legitimate 'saint' face the poor sofa again.
"I'm impressed, you're quite useful. Although we were enemies before, your reason for offending us makes sense, and can be forgiven. You have potential."
Completely taken aback by what she was hearing, Titania blinked her terrified golden eyes in disbelief. Finn only showed a surprised look, before silently nodding to himself. As for Revis, she was outwardly taken aback, but sported a condescending sneer on the inside.
'No matter what you do, you won't be able to control her. I wonder what face you will make when you realize that? I can't wait to see it.'
Due to the absence of any interruptions, Isaac's words continued unabated.
"I can make you a deal. Swear your absolute loyalty to me, and you will live. But if there ever comes a day when you truly want to betray me, I will eradicate your very existence immediately. In other words: Serve me, or die. I believe this offer is already generous enough."
This decision of his hadn't been made out of the blue, far from it. First of all, Titania was strong, which was never a bad thing. Still, it wasn't a requirement, as anybody could become strong given the time and opportunities. What was so great about her was her peculiarity. Not only could she function as a sofa, there were also multiple purposes that she could be used for, the most obvious of which would be to have her be a mount. Not only that, she could also work as an autonomous defense system for anyone relaxing on her back. Even better, she could even perform the chores of a maid or servant of sorts - heck, even a whole group's worth of chores, considering how many tentacles that she had.
On closer look, those were entirely selfish reasons, but so what? She was his enemy, and she could already be glad enough that he didn't kill her for the offense of aiming for Ais' life. An eternal existence in servitude was undoubtedly a blessing compared to what grim fate would have otherwise awaited her.
Of course, he had already asked Ais about her opinion beforehand, during the time where they had waited for the tea to be ready. Although she hadn't been entirely enchanted by the idea, she also saw how useful this Demi Spirit could be. Additionally, now that she had heard Titania's side of the story, she didn't really blame her for her actions anymore. Sure, her mother had been aimed for and she had been angered, but in the end, this woman was just a tool being used by someone unknown. It was foolish to blame the weapon, and wise to blame the murderer. While this statement wasn't one that was universally true, it did apply in this case. Because of this reasoning, she agreed to Isaac proposing this offer.
The young man's words had flabbergasted Titania, and she fell silent for a long while. It would be a lie to say that she was at all enthusiastic about his proposal, but she also knew that there was no other way that she could even hope to survive. In her heart, she had long since made her decision, like a drowning woman grasping a piece of floating wreckage and holding on for dear life in a rapid stream that threatened to submerge and devour her. Still, she was afraid. After all, she knew that she wouldn't be capable of swearing true allegiance to this man immediately. They had just fought each other, and she resented him and everything that had caused her to be in this position. So if she allowed these thoughts to reign, wouldn't she be eliminated very quickly? Her only choice was to consciously try her hardest to adapt to her new life which would be difficult.
With clenched teeth, she finally nodded and lowered her head in a gesture of forced servility.
"I, Titania, hereby swear my absolute loyalty to you."
As if it had taken her all the energy that she had left, she grew silent and exhausted like a deflated balloon, but Isaac didn't mind her defeated expression, as some new system notifications had sprung up before his eyes.
[ Titania has sworn her loyalty to you.
Quest 'Have five retainers.' completed. 500 AP rewarded. ]
[ It has been detected that three entities have varying degrees of control over your new retainer, Titania. These connections will automatically be severed in one minute.
Warning! One of them is divine in nature, and the act of severing it would be noticed. Cost of preventing this: 1,000 AP ]
A calculative glint flashed past Isaac's eyes momentarily.
'Three connections, huh? As expected.'
One of these was undoubtedly the one with Revis, who was Titania's tamer. The divine one should be leading to whatever god Revis was working for, the mastermind of this particular antagonistic force. Lastly, that other non-divine one was likely to be connected to whoever had created the Jewel Fetuses. Simply by their names, it was quite obvious to guess that they were 'birthed' or 'created' by a Spirit of some sort, but more couldn't be said for certain yet. In any case, the last connection should lead to the Spirit who had implanted the goal of hunting down Ais' mother in Titania's mind.
Without even sparing a glance at his copious savings of AP, Isaac paid for the option that the system had offered. Truthfully, he didn't actually need to do this, as even with just the power that he commanded now, he was certain that he could lay waste to this particular antagonistic force all by himself.
There were a few reasons as to why he had decided that he would rather spend the AP, however. Even though the deity at the other end of the connection would only know that they had lost their connection to Titania, and not exactly what had happened to her, this alone was enough to arouse their attention. After all, in that deity's eyes, Titania would have most likely died, which meant that powerful foes had to have invaded one of their bases. In the end, while trying to contact Revis, they could potentially also take manual control of all of the strange new monster species here.
Isaac was certain that not only Revis held their reins, as he would certainly leave a backdoor for himself should he ever decide to create a monster species - so it was likely that this deity would have done the same. As long as one wasn't an idiot, one would always leave themselves an ace up their sleeves. It was that simple. Anyway, he wouldn't want those monsters to run away and evade his research, so he would much rather spend some AP to keep their ultimate puppeteer in the dark for a while longer.
Not bothering to ask for her permission, as this specific subordinate's wishes didn't truly matter to him, Isaac stood up and walked on the sofa part of Titania, all the way until he came face to face with her humanoid half.
With a slight smile but a commanding tone, he had the Demi Spirit show her back to him, then he blurred the existence of the area around his hand, as well as Titania's back. A moment later, now that nobody else but him could pay any attention to this area or what was happening, he extracted a drop of ichor and painted a familiar symbol, an 'I' with an ornate crown on top. Yes, he had given her a Falna. To make sure that the dungeon wouldn't detect his blood, and also to hide this part of his identity from Revis, just in case she could transmit information telepathically over long distances or had any other annoying ability, he had made sure to use a foolproof method of concealment.
[ Titania has joined your familia.
Quest 'Have five familia members.' completed. 500 AP rewarded. ]
And with that, she had at least paid for the expenses that her circ.u.mstances had caused.
"Alright, I'm done. You can turn back around."
Giving Titania his blessing hadn't actually increased her stats in any way, as she already had the ability to grow them previously. There was no stored-up excelia that he needed to channel into her various stats, neither were there any Skills or Magics that she hadn't yet had access to. As for Development Abilities, she had already naturally acquired some, but there were others which she could choose in the future.
Because Titania hadn't actually felt anything happening to her back, as it had been blurred from existence, she hadn't even felt Isaac touching it. Even though her entire being had been suffused by the Falna, she hadn't been able to detect it at all, mostly because no major or minor changes besides the simple addition of its presence had actually occurred. So, with a confused look on her face, she turned back around, only to find Isaac sitting back in his old spot again, right next to Ais.
Noticing that she was looking at him in confusion, he didn't bother to explain. He just gave her a nod and raised his cup.
"Another one, please."
Just because she was now his servant didn't mean that he would mistreat her and act as if he didn't have any manners.
'He is probably thinking along these lines now, right? I wonder how long it will take for him to start caring about this child as well'
An amused smile played across Ais' lips as she observed her beloved. She knew that originally, he hadn't cared about his subordinates at all, but at one point or another, they had all silently wormed their way into the outer edge of his conscience. He somewhat cared about them, even if it was infinitely less than for the people which occupied a spot in his heart. Still, should anyone truly harm them, there would be hell to pay. Regarding this newest addition to the growing subordinate force, while they were basically still mostly hostile to and distanced from each other, should Titania grow more loyal to him, she would undoubtedly join the others' ranks in his mind.
'Still, he will excuse it by saying that he just appreciates how versatile of a sofa she is.'
Taking a sip from her tea cup to hide her wide smile, Ais giggled inside.
In the meantime, Isaac was carefully taking another look at this glorious multipurpose tool's Status.
[ Name: Titania ]
[ Familia: Isaac Familia ]
[ Affiliation: Isaac Blackshaw's Subordinate (Retainer, Familia) ]
[ Race: Demi Spirit ]
[ Level: 6 ]
[ Age: 5 ]
[ Loyalty: 25/100 ]
[ Stats ]
[ Strength: E-404 (52453) ]
[ Endurance: F-369 (49008) ]
[ Dexterity: F-350 (48400) ]
[ Agility: E-401 (52357) ]
[ Magic: E-452 (56314) ]
[ Magic ]
[ Firestorm ]
[ Meteor Swarm ]
[ Thunder Ray ]
[ Icicle Edge ]
[ Light Burst ]
[ Caelum Veil ]
[ Dark Roar ]
[ Skills ]
[ Creature - Origin ]
[ Development Abilities ]
[ Mage: E ]
[ Spirit Healing: F ]
[ Can be chosen from when ranking up: Abnormal Resistance, Magic Resistance ]
Obviously, her stats and Level far surpassed any of his other subordinates', and this was expected, just like her pathetically low Loyalty. Not even the huge amount of Magics in her repertoire caused Isaac to raise an eyebrow - only her age and her Skill did. Before, he hadn't known exactly how long she had spent down here - the time was a little shorter that he had expected. Seemingly, she had only been born shortly before the end of that period of danger that Finn had told him about, the one when Evilus had been wreaking havoc.
Then, there was her Skill.
[ Creature - Origin: The user of this Skill can contaminate magic stones with their lifeforce, turning them into the same kind of magic stone that they harbour themselves.
If a compatible living being consumes these contaminated magic stones, their race will change into 'Creature'. Creatures are beings who have up to two vastly enhanced senses and the ability to consume magic stones to obtain excelia, which can be used to directly strengthen their stats. If the living being consuming the contaminated magic stones isn't compatible, their body will experience a strong rejection reaction which can lead to death. ]
Curiously, Titania seemed to have at least some things in common with these Creatures, as she could also feed on magic stones. It was quite likely that this ability of hers was an inherent ability of Demi Spirits.
Looking at it from that angle, Creatures seemed like a somewhat lesser fusion of a being sporting a Falna and a Demi Spirit - after all, some of their senses would be vastly enhanced. Adventurers would usually gain boosts to all of their senses with each rank up as well, while these Creatures were restricted in the number of senses that could be boosted. On the flip side, if Revis was any indication, these sense boosts were far stronger than what regular adventurers would be blessed with. Just how a blind person would have far better hearing than a regular person, if less senses were getting boosted and the total boost amount stayed the same, then the ones who did get boosted would far surpass those of regular adventurers.
But why did Isaac think that Revis was a Creature? To be honest, the 'enhanced senses' had given it away. She had been able to detect him before he had detected her, which was simply ridiculous, especially considering that he had kept his Eyes of Hermes active at close to half of his maximum range at the time. There were still many other possibilities, for example that she had the ability to use the trees of the jungle as extensions of her senses, but it was far more likely that she was a Creature. That is, if he applied the principle of Occam's razor to his reasoning this time. He couldn't be absolutely certain yet, but it seemed to be an incredibly likely estimation.
"I guess congratulations are in order. A subordinate like this is unique, to say the least."
Finn showed an amused smirk as he observed from the side. He wasn't at all worried about his familia becoming the target of a brainless witch hunt for the perceived sin of harbouring a Demi Spirit like this one, because Isaac well, he could just put her into his inventory to carry her around. And he could also teleport her to any place that he aimed for. Unless a major slip up happened, nobody would be able to find out about this until Isaac was ready to face the consequences that publicizing his subordinate choices would bring. At least, that was what the Pallum believed.
As Isaac was exchanging pleasantries with his Captain, Revis' face was completely ashen. Although she hadn't understood what had happened, she had clearly felt her connection to Titania being severed. Never before had she encountered something like this! She was aware that her master also had a connection to all of their monsters, but if she could be cut off just like that, wouldn't her master be in the same boat? After all, this was an unknown, never before seen phenomenon! Usually, she would only lose contact to her monsters like this when they died, but Titania here was very much still alive
While the red haired tamer was being plagued by her justified worries, the voice of the golden haired 'monster' that had defeated her with ease resounded in her ears.
"Lead us to the Jewel Fetus."