The heavens are dyed with the ominous color of blood. A series of red-brown mountains line the landscape; there are flames billowing everywhere and rivers of lava flow in all directions.
Hell – No, this place that is overflowing with scorching heat should be called a purgatory. When Fiona comes to her senses, she finds herself in such a place.
「This place is...」
Looking around, she cannot detect any signs of life at all, let alone the shadow of a person.
Her surroundings remind her vividly of the volcanic zone dungeon that she visited when she was a student.
It was so dangerous that one should bring at least a party of four and exercise great caution, but she remembers that she had explored all the way into its depths by herself.
She is not sure whether such a destructive volcano exists on the continent of Pandora, and as she gazes at the strangely burning skies, she gets the feeling that this is not the real world.
With this doubt in mind, she quickly arrives at the conclusion that this is a dream.
Thinking back, she remembers getting into bed with Lily but has no recollection of waking up. Considering the chronological order of things, it makes sense that this is a dream.
As she feels disappointment that her dream is not a more pleasant one –
「Welcome, young witch. It has been a long time since I had a visitor; I welcome you to this place.」
A woman’s voice echoes out from no direction in particular.
It is a bewitching voice that sounds as if it is melting; however, it lingers in the ears like a sweet poison.
The owner of this voice could surely apply Charm to a man with a single world, if she so desired.
Its existence itself is a danger. Fiona feels this intuitively, and her body takes a defensive stance even before she processes the meaning of the words that are spoken.
Fortunately, she is currently fully equipped with her three-cornered hat, her witch’s robe and『Ainz Bloom』; even if a battle were to occur, she would be prepared.
「Kukuku, you do not need to be so cautious. You are the one who wished to come to this place, are you not?」
The sweet voice echoes out again, yet Fiona still has no idea where it is coming from.
But she finally realizes the meaning of its words.
「Could it be... You’re a god?」
Despite it being an absurd question to ask, the voice answers her earnestly.
「Indeed; I am one of the black gods, answering your prayers. Though you are before a god, you do not need to be so reserved. Now, come closer.」
The god’s tone is pompous and yet overly friendly. Since it is a female’s voice, perhaps she should be referred to as a goddess. In any case, Fiona cannot disobey her command.
Fiona already understands. She knows that this is not a mere dream; she is now in a sanctuary where gods invite those that they wish to grant their divine protection.
If it were a good god that is full of compassion, they would forgive any impoliteness shown towards them, but this is an evil god that Fiona sought of her own accord.
If she were to anger the god, her death would be certain. Even if she does not, the god might cause her harm on a whim.
But Fiona is not an airhead; she is able to keep her words and actions in check.
With the resolve to risk her life here, she responds to the goddess’s invitation by stepping forward.
Looking closely, she can see that she is not walking up the slope of a rocky mountain. She is climbing a stone staircase that looks to be artificially made.
She has a clear view of the burning earth and mountains spitting fire in the background; this volcano whose summit she is approaching appears to be the tallest, towering above the others.
It is likely that the evil goddess is waiting for her on the top of the mountain in this purgatory.
As Fiona reaches the summit, what is reflected in her eyes is –
「I’m familiar with temples of this structure.」
It is a white-walled cathedral – or it might have been called that once, but now it is a crumbling ruin of a temple.
A veteran adventurer would be able to tell from its deteriorating condition and architecture that it is one of numerous ancient ruins.
「It looks exactly like the Elysion Cathedral.」
But Fiona has spent time as a student in the Elysion Cathedral, the main temple for the believers of the Cross, in the holy city of the Sinclair Republic. That is why she has an accurate knowledge of what this ruin is.
「This was the former Elysion Cathedral.」
Fiona shows considerable fright as the voice unexpectedly gives a reply to her murmurs.
「What do you mean by “former”?」
「That is a story of a time that has long since passed. One that is not worth telling.」
「... I see.」
Fiona feels a little disappointment as she passes through the enormous, crumbling archway, but is in agreement that telling stories of the past is not important.
The statue of the Holy Mother Aria that is enshrined here has had its head cleanly broken off; there is no trace of holiness left in this place.
Fiona is not a devout follower of the Cross; she does not even have a shred of belief in the white god. This sight does not bother her in the slightest.
She disinterestedly continues walking straight through the giant ruins of the former Elysion Cathedral.
There are no obstacles blocking her path. Unlike the cathedral in the real world, there is not a single Temple Knight on guard duty, nor are there the twenty wide-area barriers made using Ancient Magic.
Before long, she reaches the innermost depths of the cathedral.
The enormous double-doors made of Mythril open on their own, inviting Fiona within.
There is nothing here. It is a spacious room enclosed by white walls, but it feels more like a prison than a holy place.
A single black silhouette is standing there.
「Well then, I suppose I will introduce myself. I would like to think I am quite famous, but you have come across the sea from the distant land of Ark.」
A large, black, three-cornered hat and a pitch-black robe.
These are not Fiona’s own clothes, but what the goddess before her eyes is wearing.
Those are the only features that immediately draw attention, but in the next instant, it becomes apparent that her witch’s clothing is completely different from Fiona’s.
Because the goddess’s white body is completely exposed.
The robe covers her back like a cloak but is open at the front. The goddess’s body that is freely exposed through the open robe is alluring and sensual enough that it would make any man its slave, and become an object of envy for any woman.
Her breasts resemble the mountains of this purgatory, with a deep valley in between whose bottom cannot be seen.
These are tightly contained by a piece of clothing that is similar to the top half of a bikini, made out of an unknown black material that absorbs all light.
As Fiona manages to lower her gaze away from this irresistible sight, what enters her view is not a thin waist, but the toned abdomen of a warrior – no, of an ancient hero.
Lowering her gaze further still, she sees the bottom half of the goddess’s body, which a small piece of clothing barely covers.
The goddess’s hip lines are drawn with an incredibly attractive curve and her legs are as tight as her hips, giving off an appearance of strength, beauty and obscenity.
High-laced boots made of black leather extend up to her knees. Her already long legs, when combined with the heels of these boots serve to further increase her height above even that of the taller-than-average Kurono.
The beauty of this goddess’s body ridicules even those of popular dancers and high-class prostitutes. The only one whose body could rival this is perhaps the Succubus Queen of legends, who was said to have seduced the demon king Mia – no; Fiona earnestly believes that this person must be the Succubus Queen herself.
「How rude; her body is far more vulgar and dirty than mine. Do not compare me to her.」
It is not surprising that her mind has been read. Even Lily could do so if she wanted to; it is to be expected that a goddess is capable of doing it.
「So, umm, goddess-sama. What is your name?」
Even though she is in the presence of a goddess, Fiona does not show any restraint as she asks her name. With her usual expression, she tries to look into the goddess’s eyes - but she cannot.
The goddess’s hat is seated firmly on her head, so her eyes are not clearly visible.
No, her eyes are unnaturally difficult to see. It is likely that she is using magic that obstructs others from perceiving them.
Even so, Fiona can tell from the bottom half of the goddess’s face that she can see – the tall nose bridge, the thin jawline and erotic, soft lips – the goddess possesses a beautiful face.
The goddess’s lips, which are a deep crimson as if she has used fresh blood in place of lipstick, twist in an amused smile as she opens her mouth to speak.
「Oh, I remember now, fufu. I have no intentions of pretending that my name is of any importance. It is a false name, anyway.」
「My name is –」
Fiona has a feeling that the goddess just casually said something outrageous. No, she has definitely noticed. The goddess shows an incredible lack of respect for other gods as she introduces herself with a false name.
「Endymion, a black witch formerly in the service of the demon king.」
Her long, beautiful black hair flows behind her, sparkling like the night sky.
And Fiona sees, only for an instant, the crimson glow of the eyes hidden beneath the goddess’s hat.