LOTA CH54 — Power Intrigue

The humongous door opens, where lies the most renowned and cherished position a man could be in, second to being a nobleman — a guild master. To think I’ll meet him face to face. It warrants me that the job or task that I am about to be assigned must be so important or crucial enough that I have to report directly to the guild master himself.

「 After you, sir Renald. 」

I step into the room at a slow, but steady pace. The afternoon light that shines through the window across the room, hazes me for a moment. It takes a while before it adjusts itself to reveal the interior of the room.

And there he is in front of the huge window. The one and only, the《Veinard Trading Guild》guild master of the Kasanra branch.

I’m used to guild masters with muscles shaped from years of training. Scars from years of fighting. Flowing mustaches and beards with little maintenance. For me to see the guildmaster with a thin figure and wearing monocle glasses, is quite shocking. Albeit in a good way.

Especially as there’s no advisor or secretary beside him. A positive trait in my book. As the existence of them, commonly in the adventurers guild is due to the ineptness of the guild master in handling administrations and managing the guild operation.

The room is not that different from an adventurer guildmaster with its array of weapons and other items on display. Though there is a huge map with the center of it being most likely the Kasanra region.

It’s been seconds after the attendant and I entered the room but he still didn’t take heed of our present, opting out instead to meticulously pay attention to what’s on his table. A checkered board with rows of pieces at each end. The chess. A rather out of placed possession. As this is the first time I’ve ever seen such a once common item in my previous life in this new life of mine.

Wasn’t chess supposed to not exist in this world? If so, why after all these years living in this world, this is the first time I ever see one? The strategic nature of the game would’ve made it quite the popular game for nobles.

「 You know… 」He starts slowly, his whole attention still with the chess pieces,「 I always wonder about those who have come before us. They live lives that are beyond our imagination. Surviving beneath the dark and harsh earth, continuously running away from the threat of the almost omnipotent monsters. Compared to them, our experience on the surface surely must be heaven for them. 」

He picks up the king’s chess piece up to his eye level, looking meticulously at it, prying deeply to its core beneath its silver exterior.

「 They say pressure creates diamonds, 」He continues,「 Beneath humanity’s darkest era, I’m sure, lies the most valuable lessons and wisdom of our ancestors that none of us — spoiled descendants — can learn. Like a miner seeking diamonds, I want to dig deep. Unearth its core, and reveal the diamonds of the wisdom they’ve obtained from their endless struggles. 」

He slowly looks at me.

「 Have you seen this board game before? 」He diverts its eyes directly towards me, looking at me as if I’m just another chess piece.

「 Quite so, sir. 」I plainly reply.

「 I hear doubts within you, so I will explain. 」

It looks like my facial expression betrays me.

「 This… is a board game called chess. 」He puts down the king piece,「 a game for generals and kings, from a once extinct ancient human board game. With how rare and unheard of this game is, you wouldn’t be wrong to call it a historical artifact. If it weren’t for an ancient book on how to play chess, we would not know that this is a game. They say it is a game to imitate warfare. 」

His expression then changes. To the worst.

「 What a load of bullshit. 」He curses with a mocking smirk, his eyes scanning through the rows of individual pieces,「 every enemy’s moves and position are well known, and they are completely loyal with no pieces changing sides. How does this reflect real-life warfare? And most important of all the king is as weak as his lowest vassal, the pawn… 」

He snarls and looks far out through the window, trying to divert away from the chessboard.

「 I wonder what our ancestors were thinking when they devised this… this puzzling game… 」He says out loud, with a very stretched falling tone as if subtly asking for my input.

Multiple ways on how to answer it flashes across my mind. Should I boast about our ancestors’ unorthodox thinking? Explaining how they might have such fascinating thoughts that are beyond our experience? Or should I jump on his hatred bandwagon and ridicule the creator of this game?

So many answers to sort through. So many possibilities to think of. The lingering silentness forces me to speed through it all, leaving me panicking on the inside as I scramble on how to answer back.

In the end, the simplest, most authentic, yet riskiest answer wins.

「 Rather than it is a game to imitate warfare, perhaps it’s a game that symbolizes our ancestors ideal social structure? That a king must be wise and is capable of strategic thinking. To let his stronger, powerful vassals be the one to fight for him in the frontlines. 」

「 Hmmm… Interesting….  」He says intriguingly.

「 I’ve experienced it myself. 」I continue my point thanks to his positive reaction,「  The adventurer guild master in my area, although definitely powerful and a master in 《School of Assault Magic》, seems to be rather clueless regarding administration and high-level thinking for the organizations as a whole. 」

「 Of course… Of course…. 」He says slowly, holding his laugh with a big smirk,  「 There are only two criteria that are considered in becoming an adventurer guildmaster, his track record of quest accomplishment and the level his school of magic is. They excel in tactics on how to deal with monsters and warfare, no doubt. But the big picture strategy and dealing with the mundane — yet almost equally as important — guild operation is an arcane art for them. 」

「 Sometimes, I wonder… Why have we become such power and magic obsessed when our ancestors survive using every bit of their brain? 」

「 Perhaps… A somewhat subconscious inferiority complex to the same monsters who now adopt human-like characteristics. It is no secret that we used to be inferior to them. We are just lucky that now we are at the top. 」

「 Indeed, 」He nods, then he looks back at the chess.

He flicks the king piece, causing it to crash into other pieces. His demeanor stayed relatively the same.

「 A king doesn’t need to be the most powerful being in the world of course, but it does need a decent amount of strength to earn the respect of its vassals. Nobody wants to serve a powerless king. Do you know who is the weakest king in the Veinard Kingdom history? 」

「 I assume it is the late majesty, King Pollard Veinard. 」

「 That is right. The late majesty, may his soul rest in peace, was an Intermediate level in the《School of Aegis Magic》. But even then intermediate level is nothing to scoff at. As low-level adventurers wouldn’t be able to pluck even a single strand of hair from him. Unless…  What truly defines a king? 」he says slowly as he looks directly at me, seemingly savoring the thought.

Another ambiguous question directed to me. Is this some sort of an interview test? I hold the temptation of saying the obvious answer ‘they have the royal bloodline’ as that won’t get me anywhere.

「 On the contrary the Queen piece is the most powerful piece in this game. 」he goes off to another topic on a whim,「 his wife, his champion, is much more powerful than him. What a strange notion our ancestors can come up with. 」

I need to move the conversation forward somehow.

「 Doesn’t that further prove the point that our ancestors thought that the strong should be the one in the frontline, instead of behind the lines. 」

「  If that was the case, my job here would be much easier. 」 He laughs wholeheartedly, although I can’t help but spot a bit of sarcasm within it,「 The Woso Canids is hard to deal with. If we can get the abundant resources the headquarters have, dealing with the Woso canids would’ve been much easier. 」

The Woso canids huh… I don’t have much clue regarding them, even Sir Aston is a bit clueless. From his explanation, they seem to be quite isolated. With how the guildmaster seems to always be fussing around Woso Canids, it seems very likely that my diplomatic task would be regarding them.

I can’t help but feel there’s something off with this, however. When dealing with a bad hand most people would subtly hide it, or present it in more favorable terms, and might even go as far as completely lying about the real situation.

Is he trying to open up and to advertise the guild to be a transparent and open organization? Or am I just in a unique case where the guildmaster emotions somehow leak through?

For him to be very transparent regarding the situation…

…That means the guild is in a desperate and dire state.

「 If it doesn’t cross my boundaries, may I ask a question? 」

「 Hmm? Go ahead, I’m listening. 」

「 Woso kingdom used to not be in our attention, so what happened that changes this?   」

「 You will learn the details from your seniors. But to give you a general idea, we’ve recently discovered the Woso Canids hold vital resources for the growth of our Veinard kingdom. Trade talk ensues… Although it’s not going anywhere. 」He says quite slowly, as if choosing his words carefully.

「 Is it due to incompetent diplomats? To relate to our ancestors’ thinking in chess, you want to make sure to put the best in the frontlines. Queens in the front you would say… If the trade talk or any important mission then send in the top envoys.」

「 A weak, but wise king with multiple powerful loyal queens? 」He laughs sardonically,「 Such an unconventional concept wouldn’t happen in this era. As it would shake the very foundation of human society. Proven by how little the headquarters gives to us. 」

Another long silence begin, with what seems to be in his state of deep thinking, I’m starting to realize how long we have been talking about these ambiguous concepts. I think it’s about time to ask the real question.

「 …Is talking such an obscure philosophical question to a new hire how things are done here? 」I can’t help but raise a question after his remarks.

「 That’s unimportant. I presume you are the new official hire from the headquarter? 」

He says with a small smile out of thin air.

「 Yes, sir. 」I follow along with his sudden change of subject. It’s best to ask questions later after my employment is finalized and stable,「  I’m Renald Alderhide. The headquarter deemed me the perfect man fit for your diplomatic purposes. 」

I step closer to him as I reach out the paper to him.

「 Here are the papers from the headquarters. 」

He grabs the paper nonchalantly, silent fills the room, as I dread the result of this very unusual style of interview. He finishes and puts down the letter, leaving him eyeing me particularly judgmental with one of his eyebrows raised.

Shit.

「 I initially had my doubts when the letter first mentioned you were a former adventurer but I decided to still give you a chance since you’re the top graduate in your class at《School of Wits Magic》And from this initial conversation of course. 」

He lets out another familiar small smile, a knowing, slightly mocking smile instead of a polite smile. A tease.

I’ve been played like a fool.

「 As what this position requires is not brawn but strategic thinking. That most adventurers simply don’t have. 」He continues,「 oh, and also a nobility background. As you will be assigned with the most two-faced being you will ever meet. 」

He stands up, walking to the wall where the huge map and numerous exotic items are on display.

「 Renald right? Did I get your name correctly? 」He says as he pays attention through the arrays of exotic items.

「 Yes, sir. 」

「 Have you ever met a Woso Canid before? 」

「 Other than the Canids slave on a sale show then no, sir. 」

「 I thought so. You will learn more of the characteristics of the Woso Canids, but this… will give you a general idea of their kind. 」

He grabs what seems to be a short sword or a dagger. Its wooden sheat is emboldened by a layer of intricate gold on some sides. With a rather distinctive curve that goes up near the grip. The handle grip closely reminds me of firearm grips from my past life.

「 This is the Woso Canids most distinctive weapon — the keris. Other than it being a rather unusual design of a dagger, 」He inspects it with a mix of awe and disgust contempt,「 it also acts like a wand. They cast spells and circulate mana through this weapon. Holding magical powers that are unheard of to us Veinardian. 」

He slowly unsheathes the unusual dagger, revealing the wavy design of the blade that twists like a snake. What’s more is the distinctive black and silver Damascus pattern. The silver lining that contrasts its dark base stood out and shines brightly — like veins pumping live to this very dagger.

Just when I thought I finally comprehend how different this world is, this dagger comes and ruins it.

…Why a dagger out of all things instead of the classic sword?

Most civilizations have their own version of the sword. For the Woso Canids to create an intricate design of a dagger, it definitely means something to these people…

Without a word, he sheathes the dagger back and places it on its original stand. Completely throwing me off. The suddenness of it leaves me with more questions as to why he would display the Canids weapon of choice.

A forefront? A warning? Or something else?

Although it indeed does pique my curiosity, I can’t help but feel if it was done to any other people they would lose moral and motivation to follow through the diplomatic mission. If not then leave them confused as I am right now.

He goes back to sit in his usual chair, and starts to write on a piece of paper.

「 You will be assigned with one of our senior envoys. 」he says, without breaking the momentum of his writing, his eyes still focusing on the paper,「 he will be your impromptu mentor while together on your diplomatic mission. Remember, diplomacy is a cat and mouse game between noblemen. You would need all the grace and refinement you could muster to excel in it. Speaking of which, which noble family are you from? 」

He asks, while putting down his pen and stamps the paper.

「 Count Alderhide, sir. 」

「 Ahhh, 」He says, seemingly reminiscing into the air,「 I’ve talked and met with the great Count Fabien Alderhide a couple of times in the annual noble gatherings. He’s a fine man, although becomes quite the prudish person from a mere few sips of wine. 」

He lets out a small grin but is immediately followed by a raised eyebrow, presumably as he notices how he just casually talks bad about my “father” in front of his son.

「 Forgive me, for giving off remarks about your father. 」

「 Please sir, relax. I’ve taken no offense from you. 」

By no means I am offended by that offensive remark of that father of mine. I don’t consider him as my father as he rarerly pay attention to me. He can go to hell for all I care.

「 You should report to your senior envoy as soon as possible. 」He gives me the freshly written paper, where I gladly take it,「 Find a temporary housing near the guild for your stay while you’re on training. The budget for your housing is listed in this paper, which should be enough to rent a decent house for a couple of months before your diplomatic duty departure. After you find the house of your liking, give the rental contract alongside this paper to the treasury for reimbursement. 」

「 Thank you, sir. I should be on my way then. 」I say as I nod.

「 Renald. A last reminder.  」

He calls me out in a hurry, stopping me on my track as I look back to see him.

「 They are a cunning and subtle kind. There’s a reason why they always tucked their dagger — keris — behind their backs after all. 」

He nods with full conviction, then he looks behind me. Presumably to the attendant that escorted me before.

「 Marvin. 」

「 Yes, sir. 」

「 You may escort the official envoy, Renald Alderhide to his senior, Werner Duvine. And help him to get acquainted with our organization and his duties. 」

「 Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. 」With a loud step, he walks until he’s beside me where I can see him,「 sir Renald, if you please. 」

With the escort of the same attendant, I walk out of the room. Though with less vigor than when I entered it before. The bizarre reflection of the uncanny dagger is still fresh in my mind, as I thought of how just deeply I’ve gotten myself into.

 

Previous Chapter

LOTA CH53 — The Land of the Canids

As the storm passed away and the ship weighed a bit less, the ship sails at a faster pace, cruising through the mighty waves that did little to stop the ship from breezing through thanks to the supporting wind. The breezy wind cools me down and for a while, I am able to just relax and enjoy what life has to offer.

Even with this speed that is above the usual, it doesn’t deter the sailors from working harder than usual. Too hard; Too rushed I must say. And that’s fair, after all…

We are running three days late from schedule.

The harpies attack dwindles the sailor manpower needed to operate the ship, taking the simplest work on configuring the sail twice as long as it normally would. It’s so bad that I even see some of Caedric’s party helping out doing menial tasks, such as mopping the floor.

I’m just thankful they didn’t ask me to help man the ship, although it is most likely due to my noble background no doubt.

「 Look, sir Renald! We’ve finally arrived! 」

Aston is beside me in the captain’s deck with a grin on his face, looking out to the far distance. He is quite a friendly man, but I can’t help notice that he has become overly friendly and deferential towards me now.

「 Indeed, we have. 」I simply respond.

In the horizon between two different shades of blue, lies land — civilization. With buildings and architecture that is unknown to me. Angled brown roofs that seem to be made from hardened clay. Walls and foundations made of dark wood. All are an alien or unusual material for Veinardian.

With all of these different styles of structures, it’s hard to tell for me where we are exactly. But there’s one thing for sure, we have arrived somewhere in Kasanra safe and sound.

And that sentiment is shared throughout the ship as sailors shouts cheerfully. Grateful that they’ve met their destination, their expression filled with what seems to be hope that they can finally get some real good rest on land.

「 What are you all shouting and buzzing about?! 」Aston shouts, affronted by the sailors behavior,「 prepare to dock! 」

For a second their expression becomes disrelish but knowing the obvious duty that lies it is immediately replaced with a hardened serious expression.

「 Aye aye, Sir! 」 「 Aye aye, Sir! 」 「 Aye aye, Sir! 」

The sailors shout in unison, heading back to their duties. The ship becomes even livelier than ever once more with no man being idle except for me. Even Sir Aston is directly in the field, managing each man and supervising the whole operation.

With the ship’s preparing to dock, and with me being left alone I think it’s about time I go back to my quarters and pack my stuff. It’s a relatively short path to take, walking down the steep stairs and turning to the right, the door to my quarter is already in sight.

I open the door and reveal the humble place that I stayed throughout this voyage. I might spend most of my time in the Sky Palace, but I can’t help but feel oddly infatuated with this place.

It’s simple sling bed with modest furniture such as a chair and small table obviously pales to the extravagant furnishing that adds comfortable cushions that screams comfort and wealth. After all, this quarter reminds me of my once past life, away from the luxurious life of a noble, to my once humble and poor origin in my previous life.

There’s nothing much to pack, only several clothes that are in dire need of washing. I easily fold and shove them into my luggage. Oh, I almost forgot, some empty potion bottles that are not on the table that I once thought of….

The very same potions that I use to quickly regain mana after I depleted it and vitality potion to numb the headache. Those bottles aren’t worth that much, but it’s still better to resell it if given the chance.

Looking around, I found them on the corner down on the floor next to my sword. Did it by chance roll down when the ship sways? The potion bottle is quite cylinder by design…

There’s no scratches whatsoever so it’s fine either way. Just have to insert it into the outer pockets of the luggage and now I’m ready to go.

「 Sir Renald, the ship has been docked. 」Caedric says unexpectedly.

I look to my back and indeed it is Caedric leaning to the side of the opened door.

「 Thanks for the heads up. 」I say as I carry my bag and my sword, ready to go,「 have you told your party you’re retiring? 」

「 I’ve taken your advice to heart and I’ll tell them after our contract is over. 」

「 Woah, what’s the rush Sir Renald? 」Aston suddenly appears as he walks down the stairs hurriedly. Like a butler dashing over to hear his lord command.

「 Well, it’s about time for the ship to be docked, and I’m ready to go now. I know all of you are in a hurry since you still have other places to ship goods around Kasanra. So I took the liberty to prepare in advance to not disturb your continuous voyage. 」

「 That doesn’t mean we can’t have a few drinks at the local bar right? 」

「 Although that sentiment is appreciated, reporting to my guild or higher ups took precedence over any other matter. That doesn’t factor the account that I have a lot of meetings or training that I need to do in my guild. 」

「 I see… So not even that… 」Caedric responds quite slowly.

What’s up with Caedric disappointment? Does he have more to say and needs some adventuring advice?

「 It’s quite the shame we can’t repay back your heroic deeds, even less a simple celebration. This event will always be . We owe you a debt sir Renald.  」

「 My men owe you their lives. 」

「 And I owe you my ship. 」Aston chimes in.

They all are wearing thankful bright smiles. Their intentions are welcomed and appreciated; their inflated gratitude, however, is not.

「 If I need help I will surely ask all of you. 」I say, trying to stop this ludicrousness,「 but please don’t be so generous. In all honesty, I merely did what was necessary to get to my destination as fast as possible. 」

「 You clearly underestimated the harpies, Renald. Harpies are the most threatening monsters next to the kraken. 」Caedric retorts.

「 I wish I could escort you to the《Veinard Trading Guild》branch by myself or by one of my men, but we are running late on schedule due to that harpies encounter. I can’t even spare Caedric’s party members to escort you. Please forgive me. 」

Aston adds in, being extremely apologetic. The once confident captain that always holds his head high is now slightly looking down.

「 That is fine. I can go there myself. Where is it anyway? 」

「 Straight from the dock, you only need to go straight and you’ll reach it in ten minutes walking. Don’t worry, you’ll find it easily. It’s almost exactly like any building in Veinard with its classical white paint, and it will stand out like a sore thumb in the midst of the natives’ Canids buildings. 」

「 Alright. Thank you all for the journey. 」I offer my hand to them and soon they are greeted with a handshake by both of them,「 I sincerely hope this won’t be the last time we meet. 」

「 We too, sir Renald. Go ahead, the sailors are all waiting for you. 」Aston says extending his hand that leads to the stair.

Confused with Aston’s statement, I simply go upstairs to the ship deck. To be greeted by the lines of sailors and Caedric’s party member.

「 Here it comes lads! 」The sailor on top of the barrel shouts, brimming with excitement.「 Three cheers for Sir Renald Alderhide! Hip hip! 」

「 Hooray! 」「 Hooray! 」「 Hooray! 」

Between the lines is an empty space that might be meant for me . Huge smile and even louder shouts compared to last time.

「 Hip hip! 」

「 Hooray! 」「 Hooray! 」「 Hooray! 」

「 Hip hip! 」

「 Hooray! 」「 Hooray! 」「 Hooray! 」

What a way to send me off. A useless act of celebration. I understand that they want to show their appreciation towards me, but this flashy over the top way is not my thing.

 


For mere mongrels, they sure know how to praise my great and honorable master!


 

The cheering didn’t stop with just that. For they all now start singing praises to me.

「 Good luck with your duties sir! 」

「 If I ever have a son I’ll name him Renald. 」

「 We will all drink and pray for your success, sir! 」

One of the sailors’ face is full of red with a drink in his hand. I’m pretty sure he’s already drunk before the rest could join. They don’t even spare me as they all somehow take turns patting my shoulder and dilly-dagging. Are those people in the corner dancing?

Okay, this is getting way out of hand.

「 Okay, okay… that’s enough. 」I turn my back and face the cheering crowd.「 Return to your duties as I shall go to mine. And thank you all for the wonderful journey. 」

With that said the sailors cheerfully shouts for one last time, where they finally return to their post, to their duty. The needed peace finally makes me able to walk off the plank and finally to the dock on land. Only to be greeted by the curious gaze of onlookers in the dock.

「 Dear god… What happened to that ship… 」

I look to my back and now I can see why they all are shocked. I’ve never thought the ship would be in such a bad state. Those big scars on its hull would indeed shock almost anyone.

I meddle past the many crowd onlookers before many more come, and push through straight ahead.

My body and my whole sense overwhelmed with how crowded the road is. Must be because it’s near the harbor.

Two months in the sea does take a toll on people. But It doesn’t deter me much from walking through experiencing what this new land has to offer.

People from all sorts of life are mashed all together on this road. Humans are less apparent, replaced with the obvious Canids people with their canine ears and tails. Man going to their workplace, woman seemingly going back home carrying a basket filled with groceries.

Even a young Canids couple holding hands to one another with such joy.

Seeing them soo happy, seemingly so into their own little world and out of touch with the rest of the outside world, it somehow causes me to reflect on my whole view towards romantic relationships.

Perhaps… I did have a part in why she cheated on me…

I remember being so busy with work that I rarely paid attention to her. Only at the weekends and the occasional trips abroad did I ever spend my time with her. Perhaps she seeks out a man that was simply available to her when she wanted attention and affection when I wasn’t there for her…

Indeed it was her fault, but I might have played a role in why she became like that…

…Love and loyalty is dead.

So why bother being kind? The world is full of people caring about their own self-interest and won’t spare anyone if it means attaining their interest. I’ve even experienced this in the cutthroat office politics in my company.

Morality? As long as nobody finds out and doesn’t affect the outcome then who cares.

I fully understand this and yet, at the end of the day…

I’m still naive.

I’m still sentimental.

I’m still delusional.

Even knowing the reality and the way the world works, I… I still want to believe true love and loyalty exist.

That’s why I thought. If I can’t control the world then at the very least I can control myself then. If the world doesn’t want to then I’ll be the one who does it instead.

That’s why I won’t take advantage of Shen’s distorted love for me.

I know I will be taken advantage of for being too kind. Inevitably she will find a better man. And well… I’m somewhat fine with that. Very somewhat. I know it will happen in the future. I’m prepared for that. But that’s not an excuse to not treat her well.

I will suffer and die by my ideal.

Perhaps… It will make the world a bit better place. Or cause the lucky man that Shen genuinely chose to have a better fate than me.

Amidst my pondering regarding my situation, a building stood out like a sore thumb. A white building with glass panes covering almost half of the building. A complete contrast with the natives buildings.

The building is almost the exact same as a typical Veinardian building. For a second, I thought I’m back in Veinard but other than the occasional Canids people

I stand in front of the door that seems to be quite intimidating with its humongous size and sleek polished brown color.

Before I even knock, the door already opens, revealing a man with a distinctive uniform that I remember from back then in the《Veinard Trading Guild》headquarter.

「 Welcome to the 《Veinard Trading Guild》how can I help you? 」He asks with no pause, getting straight to the matter.

「 I came from the headquarters, here is the letter. 」

He takes the letter and briefly skims over it before he puts a smile bigger than the previous one.

「 The guild master has been expecting a person of your caliber. Please follow me. 」

Wait.. I am to report directly to the guild master himself?

 

Previous ChapterNext Chapter

LOTA CH52 — Burial at Sea

The cloudy storm passed away just like that. Now, the blue skies with its occasional clouds greet us in the sky. The waves are calm to the point of barely any. Back to the usual calm weather before the harpies came in. As if what happened before wasn’t real and didn’t happen. Just a passing thought.

The mast sail was hastily replaced with a new one as soon as the harpies retreated. Leaving the evidence of that horrific encounter of numerous scars of the harpies, monstrous nails, and stained blood in the ship’s wood. And dead bodies.

The casualties in total are three injured sailors, two deaths, a sailor and an adventurer. That doesn’t even factor in the missing people; a whopping three sailors are missing.

Missing is an understatement. Everybody knows deep inside that the missing are very much dead. Taken by the harpies to their nest to be eaten for their starving children or sunk to the deep sea left to its own fate by either drowning or eaten by the sea monster. Their bodies never to be discovered alongside their ultimate moments before their death.

If only I helped a little earlier, maybe the casualties wouldn’t be this high.

My mewling of the past however, is a very dark contrast to the sailors who simply shrug it off. At first I thought it was insane how there’s no outburst of mourning, no tears, or any signs of grief. How easy it is for them to accept the death of their comrade who slept close to one another in their hang bunk, sharing the smell of their sweats and the sourness of the sea for most of their entire life.

But I guess it’s just their nature to simply accept that it’s how it is in life on the harsh sea.

Nevertheless, a mourning is necessary, and here lies a burial at the sea… of some sort. A tradition for all men who lived and passed away in the middle of the sea.

To give some sort of meaning to the death of these people. A last farewell before their bodies were thrown off the ship, leaving it to sink to the deep dark blue sea. Leaving no trace of their existence.

At least on land, there will be a stone with their name on top of where they buried the body. Ashes of the cremated dead bodies if it were in Japan. A proof of their existence. A remnant to be remembered for their predecessors.

I understand why they must do it. Left alone and the body will rot, causing infectious disease that puts the ship and the whole crew in danger. But I can’t help but think that this is just too… heartless.

The tradition feels like it’s just a facade. To give a sense of grandeur and meaning to their death. Even though in reality, what little remains of them will be discarded off the ship like unwanted trash.

The dead bodies are all on top of a plank on the side of the ship, covered in a plain white cloth, from the scavenged damaged sail. With nothing attached to their bodies except the same little intact clothing they wear at the time of their passing.

It was a disaster. The deceased adventurer’s body was in a horrible state. It’s body was plucked piece by piece, like a scarecrow slowly nibbling the meat out of a corpse. The harpies, when left alone, eat their prey. There’s little they can do to clean or fix the body to its prime or proper state.

If there’s one monster you should fear the most, it isn’t the strongest or the one with the most magical prowess. Rather, the one that thinks humans are a delicacy meat.

The mourning and the burial starts with devout prayers by Sir Aston. Standing on the captain’s deck with his hand grouped together. Sailors, adventurers and including I are all on the main deck, looking down serenely. For a while there’s no words or voice, only the occasional gushes of the waves resonating during the burial session.

「 O goddess of the sea — Pontus — I beg of thee. 」Aston begins the prayer, 「 Take these souls — your children, gently. To be consumed tenderly by your mighty waves. To your vast blue kingdom of the sea. Where we will all inevitably return to as humble mortals alongside our ancestors. Amen. 」

『 Amen. 』『 Amen. 』『 Amen. 』

With just a single nod from Sir Aston. The plank lifts and the bodies drop to the sea.

And just like that, they are gone in a matter of seconds.

The people that once stands at the center of the ship moves to the edge. And from the few bowls attached to the side of the deck, grabs a fistful of dried red petal flowers and scatters it to the sea. Throwing might as well their cherished memories with their deceased brothers. A last farewell.

That reminds me…

I wonder how they treated my dead body in my past life?

She must be the first one to see my lifeless body. What would she feel the moment she found out?

Would it be a feeling full of regret? No… Knowing her, she must’ve been relieved — delighted even. Jumping out of pure joy with the nice house in mind most likely.

Sadly, I won’t be able to truly know what that woman’s expression would look like when she first discovered it.

「 Sir Renald, a word with you if you please. 」Caedric reaches out to me, while simultaneously gesturing to me to follow him.

…Is he going to reprimand my action of taking over his command over his party? But surely it was out of necessity and didn’t really overtake his authority by much. I don’t see why I have become the center of his attention, but might as well see it to the end.

「 Lead the way. 」I reply with a nod.

Caedric wastes no time and goes straight to the stairs and down to the quarterdeck, where I follow his lead.

Where one of the sailors, in hand with a filled pouch bag, rises on top of the box crate. Calling for attention.

「 Gather around now, men. Dig into your pockets — dig deep. And be generous to the dead man’s widow. 」

The auction of the dead man’s belongings has started so it seems. I remember from one of the sailors they will use the money gotten from the auction to be given to the dead’s widow.

Well it’s not like I have something I want to get. I have a more concerning business here with Caedric.

I follow him down the stairs to the quarterdeck, a place of relative peace and quiet, with just the two of us. Away from the commotion that’s happening on top. I sincerely hope nothing bad is going to happen here.

He takes a seat and I follow suit, and before I’m about to address why he wants to talk with me, he faces me with a rather solemn expression.

「 Back then… How were you… how were you able to stay calm when facing those harpies? 」

「 What? 」

「 When one of the sailors screamed for his mother… I… I panicked. I knew I was doing it. But… But I couldn’t stop… 」

「 I’m pretty sure we were all are afraid- 」

「 But a party leader… 」He cuts me off, immediately.「 Has no business in panicking… It led to the loss of some good men. 」

「 And as such we will always remember them. 」I start talking after he calms down,  「 How’s your party holding up? I’m sure nobody blames you. Although it is quite hard to accept the death of your comrade. 」

「 Sort of… Nobody is in a good mood. Kataryna took it the hardest of it all. 」

「 All of you are adventurers. I’m sure they know what they signed up for. 」

「 They signed up for adventure, loot, legendary tales to share; not to die horribly in the sea! 」He shouts, banging the table.

「 His death can be easily avoided. 」He continues, slightly frowning,「 if I just… stayed calm… like you. 」

Is he asking for comfort or advice? Nevertheless, this is not necessarily the first for someone to randomly come to me and act this way. There was that time where multiple junior engineers rely on me in mentoring and training them, getting them used to the company engineering effort.

「 We all make mistakes. When someone feels that things go awry for the first time, it’s hard to calm down. The only cure for it is experience. 」

「 I… I’ve fought goblins that outnumbered us five to one. Orcs that’s the size of three men combined. 」

For him to only mentions common low-level monsters and not the unusual hazardous kind such as the killer worms that he once used to boast about, perhaps my prediction of his empty boast was correct.

「 But those goblins, orcs, and others aren’t as terrifying as the harpies right? For the first time, you’ve realized there’s nothing you can do to fight against them, especially when they are above you, immune from everything you can throw at it. Leaving you all helpless to the core. 」

「 Even then… His death was due to my carelessness in the end… 」

From that last sentence of his, I know what he wants is comfort. I still truly don’t know why he consulted with me instead of Aston who’s far more credible. But somehow, I think an advice would be more appropriate than just soothing, comforting words.

「 I’m afraid that is the price of command. The only way to make sure his sacrifice never goes in vain is to always remember him — to learn from your mistake — and never repeat this incident to ever happen again. 」

Silence ensues. He seems quite perturbed with what I said but slowly starts to get it the more he silently thinks of it.

「 I’m thinking of retiring after this contract is over. 」He breaks the silence, 「 let everything here be bygone. And set out back to my hometown. Maybe follow my father’s wishes in inheriting his blacksmith shop and craft. 」

「 This is quite the very big news… Have you ever talked about this with your party? 」

「 I’m planning to, after I talk with you. 」

「 I am just an outsider to your adventurer party but if you are very certain to retire then I highly suggest you tell the news almost at the end of this contract. Telling the news right now would drop the morale even further. 」

「 Huh… You think the death of our comrade wasn’t enough? 」

The place succumbs to a quiet silence once more, leaving only the chime waves of the sea and the occasional creaking of the ship’s wooden hull. Mostly due to nonresponse to my end. I want to further move the conversation forward, but he seems to be processing everything that I just said, even more this time. Perhaps it’s about time we end this conversation.

「 You seem to have a lot in your mind. I will leave first, if you ever need help, you can always knock on my quarter. 」

He nods seriously while still looking down. With nothing left to do, I walk to my quarter.

「 How… 」He starts speaking slowly again, stopping me on my track,「 How can you be so sure and confident regarding this whole adventurer’s business? Are all scholars as wise as you? But this is nowhere close to books and that mind wizardry of yours…  」

「 That is easy. 」I look back to him,「 before I was a ‘scholar’, I used to be an adventurer like you. 」

I finally left him. It’s important for him to digest and internalize those thoughts himself. Only by then he can learn and hopefully grow into a better person.

 

Previous Chapter  Next Chapter

LOTA CH51 — Death From Above

「 Master! Have I displeased you in any way?! 」Shen asks, letting out those puppy eyes that make it even harder to look at her.

It’s only been a day since that transgression happened. Every time I see Shen, it reminds me of that time; I almost let my violent desire get out of control.

So I’ve tried making myself scarce in the Sky Palace, whether that’s sneaking in the greenhouse’s corner, covered by the lavish greenery as I read a book or in one of the many bathrooms available. To my luck, however, she could always find me and long were my hours suffering from her constant pestering.

I have to admit I am quite astonished at her persistence, as this is the gazillion times she asks me; And as such, I shall persistently answer the same way as I do.

「 You’ve done nothing wrong, Shen. 」

「 Then why did you sleep in a different room? Surely something must have happened before! 」She squirms, yet her gaze unflinches.

It pains me to see her react this way, but this is necessary. For the both of us.

「 Something did just happened, but it’s not because of you. It’s because of me. 」

「 No matter who it comes from, please just tell me, master! And I will correct it in no time! 」

「 Why are you so obsessed with sleeping in the same bed as me anyway?! 」

As soon as the words left out of my mouth, I realize that I’m sounding more and more immature. This is not good.

「 Because I sincerely love you master! I love sleeping beside you. It makes me happy, and you too right, master?  」She offers a small smile amidst her face full of uncertainty.

「 That is right, Shen. 」I calmly reply,「 but sometimes, you must do something that makes you unhappy in the short-term so that you can be happy in the long run. 」

「 Master… Why are you like this…? I can tell that you were holding back… That you are… Afraid of me…? 」

Her last few words become much more hesitant, seemingly afraid of the answer that lies. Of course she’s smart. She’s a dragon, for crying out loud. She must’ve noticed something’s off with me.

「 Is that correct, master…? 」She eyes me cutely and nervously.

I nod lightly. The way she asks brings me to the spotlight, causing me to be uncomfortable and forcing me to answer. Despite that, however, I don’t blame her. I can tell from our interaction that the only way to deal with her is to do so in a direct manner. Something that I’m not used to, but so be it.

Then…. Should I directly tell her why I’m so hesitant?

Here goes nothing…

「 Sir Renald Alderhide! Please wake up! 」

An unknown stranger’s voice comes within me, shouting, panicking with great worry. The courage to tell her was thrown out of the window, replaced with a great deal of attention and caution to that alarming voice.

「 We need your help, sir! 」

There it goes again, the same voice, affirming once more that it’s not something that I’ve just made up in my mind about. Then there’s no time to lose. Something dire must have happened. But what the hell could’ve happened when I’m away.

「 You will understand in the future… For now I must help the other humans on the ship. You’ve heard it too don’t you? 」

「 Is master talking about those lowly insects that dare to take our precious time together? 」

I sure am glad it was the right decision to never disclose Shen’s existence to them. Imagine what would happen when she boards on the ship.

「 That is correct Shen. 」I reply, knowing she’s definitely not pleased with my answer.

「 Who cares about those imbecile humans! They all can rot to the deepest earth for all I care and never bother us! 」

Her words, although weren’t directed at me, somehow hits me to the core. It reminds me of the supreme dragon that I once remembered. A dragon that is arrogant and puts little to no care to things that are below her; who flaunts her supreme prowess and does not hesitate to boast her legendary tales.

Yet, those very same feelings of her superiority and arrogance are not directed at me, even though I’m a human as well. Even though I’m nothing special.

「 Shen…. I’m a human too. I am one of the very things you call imbeciles… 」

Those words that I spat out with little thought, surprisingly does wonders to Shen. She couldn’t retort back. Merely standing frozen with eyes wide open and raised eyebrows.

「 I…. I… 」

「 It’s okay Shen… 」I say, my hand on her shoulder, trying to reassure her,「 we’ll continue this conversation later on, okay? 」

She lightly nods, now staring at the ground with slumped shoulders. Gone was her cheery mood. I never thought she would be feeling this way just from merely offending me.

Only time and solitude can heal this. Fortunately I’m already sitting on the throne of the Sky Palace, it doesn’t take much for me to close my eyes and drift to nothingness as I chant my spell.

 

…..

 

I open my eyes, greeted with the same old wooden roof and the look of a man decked in the classic sailor uniform of white and blue stripes. His eyes widen, showing a great deal of fear, coupled with a hint of hope.

「 Sorry to disturb your sleep sir, but the ship is in danger! 」The sailor reminds me again, shaking my shoulder abruptly. In an attempt to wake me up no doubt.

Knowing his great deal of urgency, I spare no time and immediately get out of bed.

「 What’s going on?! Pirates are attacking the ship? 」

A screeching beast howl haunts the ship, as though those same beast knows my question and answers it. It’s the roar that bypasses the ears to speak right to the heart and instill fear.

Then followed by the scream of a man out of the top of his lungs, desperate for help. The type of scream desperate for help and an attempt to distill a bit of pain.

Damn, this is bad.

「 M-monsters? 」I say, knowing the full answer.

「 It’s better for sir to see it with your own eyes! Sir Aston will explain the situation better than me. 」

He hastily opens the door. I grab my sword and follow his lead to what seems to be the captain’s quarters. The sight that beholds on the room, is not pretty in the slightest.

It’s supposed to be an extravagant place, filled with papers and alcohol, but now wounded sailors laid on the table. Unattended spilled blood almost goes everywhere in this room.  Their pitiful mewls of pain and suffering taunt this place that was once a place full of laughter and cherry-mandering of the sailor’s singing.

「 Sir Renald! Oh, thank the goddess, it’s you! 」Aston shouts, a mix of worry and fear clearly plastered in his face.

He walks to me and greets my presence quite cheerfully. His eyes glittered with slight hope.

「 Sir Aston, what’s happening?! What kind of monsters did we encounter?! 」

「 It’s… It’s the harpies! Terrifying semi-intelligent beasts that toy their prey as they fly in the air. I… I can’t believe we’ve encountered them, I set the course three degrees to the southeast from last time. Was it due to that storm we went in a different direction?! It’s all my fault!  」

「 Calm down Sir Aston. There’s no point bickering about what has been done. 」

As if to remind us, the harpies howl once more, haunting the crew as I see them shivering, frailly. Aston sadly is not immune to this either.

「 Are the adventurers on top? 」I ask, urging him to focus on the situation.

「 Yes they are! Up there on the deck, trying to defend the ship. It’s… It’s hopeless… They won’t be able to stop them…. 」

「 I shall join with the adventurers and see if I can support them. 」

It will be hard to join an already established group of adventurers and move as a unit as an outsider, but it does me no good to stay still here. I can’t do anything to the wounded sailors and even though I’m not an expert in combat, I at least have a myriad of experiences in dealing monsters back when I still did adventuring with Elras.

「 Many are injured and few are dead! It’s a suicide to go up there! 」Aston shouts filled with despair.

His subordinates, the sailors, are all staring at us. Their expressions are full of dread and unease. Seeing even their leader that is supposed to instill hope and confidence full of despair and doubts of course does no wonder to their current morale.

His expression is not fit for that as a leader, a man in conrol. I grab both of his shoulders, and lean in closely to the side.

「 Control yourself! 」I hushly whisper, not withdrawing my emotion,「 at least for the sake of the men. if you, the captain of the ship, loses it, then the men will follow suit. 」

I let go of him and soon climb up the stairs, revealing the harsh weather of the stormy clouds. The sky is covered in grey clouds but with no rain or thunder. On a closer look monstrous birds with dark grey feathers — Harpies are flying in the sky. Forming what seems to be two encirclements. The first encircling the ships above is quite near, and the second one is quite far from the ship. All are moving in such an organized and timely manner that I can’t help but be slightly afraid with what we are up against. This sight would surely demoralize anyone who’s inexperienced.

「 Fire! 」A man shouts,「 Fire!!! Keep casting your fireballs! 」

I stop looking at the sky and down to the ship where the voice originates from.

Cedric with what seems to be a mage from his baggy robes.

「 Caedric, no matter how much I keep casting fireballs at them, none of them hits! 」

「 Just do as I tell you! 」he glares at the man feverishly

「 F-fine..! 」The magician relents, and closes his eyes to prepare a spell.

『 Aeogus! 』

A fire spark sprouts from his hand and in a mere second it forms into a ball of fire the size of his head. The magician throws it into the general direction of the harpies. Not hitting any one of them.

「 Don’t let these fuckers get anywhere near us! 」Caedric scowls, turns to stare at the sky full of harpies.

My eyes roams throughout the ship’s deck and the weight of the situation completely hit me, the situation here is in complete shambles. Blood paints the wooden deck on almost every nook and cranny. Dead bodies still lying on the place. And worse of all, the ship’s mast is torn apart, rendering it useless to sail.

The adventurers are disorganized with each doing whatever they think is the best. Both the archer and the mage keep firing at them without any care and keep missing. The spearman and swordsman are sitting ducks as they can’t even reach the harpies.

There’s no unit cohesion. Caedric becomes hasty in giving orders, causing the others to doubt his leadership.

「 What is going on?! 」

「 Caedric, report the situation! 」

「 CAEDRIC!!! 」

He finally looks at me, eyes surprised.

「 S-sir… 」he slowly regains his composure, taking a deep breath,  「 the harpies took us by surprise. They… They came out of nowhere. We’ve lost several sailors and our brother — Lucas… We’ve tried everything we can throw at them but nothing hits them since they are almost always airborne. 」

「 Good work, Caedric.」

That look of his is not good. He’s tunneled vision. The death of their brethren must’ve taken a toll at him. Causing him to easily panic and not think of things thoroughly.

This is not the end of the problems that we are facing. From what he described, the adventurers can’t deal with the harpies because of their flying capabilities. Not surprising, considering airborne monsters are very rare and .

I need to instill order and confidence to this shattered group of adventurers but how do I deal with the harpies…

If we can’t hit them because they are airborne… Then perhaps… What if I force them to fall to the ground, the ship?

「 Sir Renald! 」

Caedric shouts and halts me from my thoughts. In front of me, a harpy descends right to me at an alarming speed. In a nick of time, I roll to the side. The harpies misses me. It flies away without slowing, leaving scratches on the wooden ship floor.

One of the harpies swoops in and with its two fowl legs, holds one of the lying dead sailors and carries it away.

W-where is he being taken to…?

 


Master! Please let this servant fight in your stead. I have been itching to put my swordsmanship to the real test. 

…No can do, Shen. I won’t risk your presence to be known by the people here. Besides, the situation is under control. I have a trick up in my sleeve.


 

「 Caedric! I know a spell that will stun the harpies all at once, but I need time to prepare it. 」

By causing mental shock to the harpies, theoretically it could cause them to be frozen and fall down either to the ship or to the sea. It’s risky though. I understand it conceptually and theoretically but whether it works in practice is unknown. Still, it’s worth the try. There’s not much choice either.

「 A spell that can stunt?! This is news to me! 」Caedric shouts, giving me a look full of doubts.

「 I’ve learnt it in my time in academia. It’s not surprising for you to not have heard of it. Only scholars know of this. 」

Caedric face turns to the worse, doubt clearly plastered on his face.

「 You just have to trust me. 」I continue,「 as soon as the spell is activated the harpies will fall down to the ship, by that time you and your fellow adventurers must kill every single one of them! Is that understood?! 」

「 Ughhh.. Fine!  」He replies back.

「 All of you heard me right! Be ready for the fallen stunned harpies as soon as I cast the spell! 」I shout to the general direction of Caedric team members. They all replied with a slow nod.

『 Iugum! 』

I cast the spell, subtly prying the mental state of one of the harpies. This spell is originally used to determine the emotions of a sentient target. But this spell could also tell the wavelength of the target that would help me to adjust my next spell.

Monsters’ mental wavelength is different from humans, no doubt from this spell of mine. With the intel that I got it’s easy to deliberately calibrate the adjustment and configuration on my next spell. I hope what I have will link to the harpies mind and shock any of their mental capabilities for a moment.

With the flick of both of my hands gesture, I cast the Wits shocking spell.

『 Caecasur! 』

The sound of the cast echoes throughout the place. A sound boom.Forming a somewhat small force of wind, breezing to all corners. The mental connection that I forcefully send to the harpies impacts them,

All of the inner encirclement harpies drops down and most hits the ship, rendering them stunned and feeble enough for the kill.

Associating with the mind of an incomprehensible beasts starts to take a toll on me, as light headaches start to occur to me. This side effect thankfully is manageable as long as I don’t have to do such a straining spell again.

「 Go! Go! Go!  Fucking stab them to death! You, the one with the big sword! Focus on the harpies at the far end! 」I shout.

The adventurers including Ceedric rush to the fallen stunned harpies. Where they all plunge their sword, spear, or daggers towards the harpies. Dying screeching screams of the harpies follows.

They do quick work on each of the harpies, thank the goddess I don’t have to summon my shadow minion. Everything goes pretty well, until I notice the two harpies on the far edge corner of the ship standing on their two feet, flocking their wings, preparing to lift off. Even though I already fucking told one of them to focus on the far end…

「 Bugger it! The two harpies are not stunned anymore and flock off again! 」One of the adventurers says.

「 Kataryna! Shoot them! 」Caedric commands.

The archer prompts from his command, and lifts her bow and shoots. None of her arrows are nowhere even near the two harpies. The harpies, noticing the flying arrows, lets out another fearful screeching howl, and flies out to the sky.

Damn it all. I have to cast another spell then.

「 I-I-I… I’m sorry… 」The archer cries.

I still have enough mana for one more spell but the complexity and the arcane usage of the spell starts to take the toll on my head.

「 Sir Renald! Do one more!  」Caedric pleads.

Fuck it. I should still be fine if it’s just one more.

Focusing on the mind and the linkage to the harpies mind, I cast my spell.

『 Caecasur! 』

A more powerful headache strikes me like a lightning that jolts directly at my head. It takes my entire conscious effort to appear calm and stand still.

A loud thump reverberate next to me. One of the harpies lands quite close to me. The headache makes it quite difficult to gain my composure and focus on the task at hand, but with sheer will, I close the gaps, unsheathing my sword, and go in for the kill. My sword thrust downwards to the harpie’s neck.

It screams a little, but soon turns silent and its eyes blacked with lifelessness. Its throat is clogged by its own blood.

「 Sir Renald, we fucking did it! Look, the rest of the few harpies are going away! 」

The harpies indeed go away. The encirclement above the ship is no more and the few of the surviving harpies fly away in a v-shape formation, like flocks of immigrating birds.

The adventurers cheer and the surviving sailors from the deck down below climb up to see the commotion, joining in the adventurers in cheering when they notice the harpies are finally gone away. Relieved they survived and can live another day.

「 Bless the goddess Maria! What kind of magic school was that?! 」

「 It’s… 」I say numbingly,  「 It’s… The《School of Wits Magic》」

Everything goes well, until I unknowingly almost trips to the ground.

One of the adventurers is able to catch me when I almost fall to the ground in a timely manner. Thanks to him, I’m able to get on my feet with ease.

「 Woah woah… Are you alright, sir Renald? 」

「 I’m okay…. Just a little headache… 」I say as I force a smile.

This is the worst. The overuse of such a straining and complex spell takes a toll on me now. My brain turns into an overloaded, ringing and beating inside my very damn skull. It’s a miracle I haven’t passed out from mana exhaustion.

But I can’t pass out now. It won’t be good for the people’s morale if I’m out now and who knows whether there will be more harpies coming. All I can do is to endure this for now.

And hopefully, a crack amidst the grey clouds occurs that shall reveal the sun that will shine on this ship once more.

 


M-m-master……………………..


 

Previous ChapterNext Chapter

LOTA CH50 — Crippling Desires ♡♡♡

The ever-lasting pleasure was over, and with Shen seemed satisfied, we spent the rest of the night inside the same spacious bedroom we made love in.

Her last request is for us to cuddle or sleep on the same bed. Which I oblige, but with one condition: a very minimum skin contact is to be maintained as we sleep. It’s something easy considering the bed is ridiculously big, big enough to hold four people sleeping, and this is the smallest bed we can find in the palace.

At first, she disagrees as expected, throwing a tantrum about what according to her is an ‘unfair’ condition. What surprised me however, after a few seconds of obvious temper squirming, she suddenly stops for a moment and then smiles agreeing to my terms. It’s honestly quite scary how eagerly she jumps to agreeing pretty easily and also easily falls asleep. Is this correlated with my Sky Palace brainwashing power?

Nevertheless, this place is somehow cold. Way too cold. It wasn’t this cold as far as I remember. Was my repressed lust throughout our love-making heated me before? Tucking into the bed’s heavy blanket does little to provide warmth either, it pervades this empty heart of mine.

I wish I could just shut my eyes and fall asleep. But I can not, not with this coldness, even more so with Shen so close to my side. The almost freezing temperature compels me to detect anything that resembles warmth and it so happens to be the beautiful goddess, Shen.

She’s sleeping beautifully while facing me, and so peacefully too. Throughout my attempt to force myself to sleep, she inches closer to me in her sleep. I don’t know if she does so since she’s awake or it’s just instinct. Just with her presence so close to me, it’s so hard to not pay attention to her. It is one of these moments where I can truly marvel just how beautiful she is.

It’s hard to believe she was once a powerful dragon, or rather… is a powerful dragon; she can always transform back to her original dragon form. We are completely different beasts altogether. The disparity between me and her is just too high. She’s gorgeous and powerful, whereas I’m just a normal human that you could find anywhere.

Almost everything she does is divine in itself. Beyond devoted and most important of all eager to please. The only reason why I think she doesn’t delve into full-blown selfless servitude is because she notices my reluctance.

It feels… Too good to be true. Too good to be mine.

But no, of course it was not enough. It was never enough.

This high virility of mine, it is both a blessing and a curse. On the right person, it can be such a wonderful and thrilling experience; left alone, however, my mind deviates to thoughts that are… wild. Extremely wild.

Mutating into an urge. A fierce and violent urge. A feeling similar to hunger; a craving so close to a thirst. Which then transforms into deprivation.

An unfathomable desire to taste the prey in front of me to the very core of her bones. Having shen on top is great on its own, but what I love the most is when I’m the one in charge and in control.

Her existence and devotion lights a fire to the once extinguished fire pit before. It’s as if she is the personification of my ultimate fantasy. My wildest desire for absolute, unwavering devotion. For that someone to stay obedient with me, and thinks nothing else but me and only me. To always stay with me.

The feeling of power. The feeling of controlling and owning someone, where I don’t have to care about their being and I can be my true self.

There’s just this desire, a need to destroy something so perfect and to reduce her to be just a thing.

She’s so perfect, a goddess materialized, that it compels me to destroy her.

I want to break her and ruin her. To not treat her as a dragon princess but rather as a cheap sex toy that have no value and only deserves rough fucking.

I want to dominate her; put her into her true place. A little plaything in my hand, reducing her into a mere three-holes cum dumpster slut.

I want to rape her non-stop, fucking make her moan both in pleasure and pain. To not care of her pleasure and just fuck her pussy without care and purely for my own pleasure.

I’ll lock her in chains so she won’t be able to resist whatever I wish to do upon her. All she can do is to accept the fate that she is just a mere masturbation toy to be used.

If she truly loves me and serves me, then surely she would be willing and even eager to fulfill my wish, won’t she? Where my needs are absolute and be in absolute joy for fulfilling my desires.

Her long swan-like neck is so ideal and perfect to rest my hand and just… squeeze. She would be desperate to breathe, and her eyes would flicker mixed with pleasure and despair, Tears dripping out of ecstasy of being put into her true place of being a lowly slut.

Or even better, I’ll force my dick into her soft lips, straight into her throat. Plant her face deep into my crotch, forcing my pubes to penetrate her nose. Savoring the unbelievable, taboo-wrecking sensation of selfishly using her throat for my own pleasure while she’s desperate to breathe, fucking her face like I’d fuck her pussy — roughly, without a worry about how she feels, uninhibited by her feelings and conscience.

And then she will truly know how it feels to be owned by me. Her true place. To be below me. To be mine.

「 Master~ 」

Shen’s soothing calm voice snaps me out of my lustful desires… As I begin to slowly but surely regain my awareness I realize I’m… I’m on top of her… My hands are wrapping around her throat.

She looks at me very innocently, merely asking about me, even though I’m just about to hurt her.

「 Master? Is everything okay? You seem to be… hurt?  」

H-hurt?

…God, I’m such a terrible being.

How can a degenerate like me be able to get such an understanding perfect girl?

I… I’ve thought so many terrible things and was so close to choking her out…

This is… this is… getting too far…

Fuck….

What was I thinking?

「 Shen… you’re not hurt aren’t you? 」

What am I talking about…? Of course she’s hurt. I’ve been sitting and putting all of my weight on top of her belly. I might’ve not choked her at the last minute but what if I did?

「 Master, I’m doing great~ Please continue whatever you want to do to me. 」

No… No…. No…

「 Sorry Shen… I’m just feeling a bit under the weather just now… 」

「 What are you apologizing for, master? There’s nothing and there won’t be anything you need to apologize for. 」

I get off the bed, trying to find my clothes but soon realized that my clothes were scattered around the room. I should just go out as soon as I can without bothering to dress myself. Even while still being naked I don’t let the cold bother me and calmly walk towards the door.

「 Starting from today, we will be sleeping in separate rooms. 」

「 M-master, please wait! 」

Shen shouts went muffled midway before she could finish the sentence as I shut the door closed.

Plans of sleeping in another random bedroom of the sky palace pops up, however, she might chase after me immediately so it’s best if I continue sleeping in the ship instead. Not a great place to sleep in all honesty with it’s uncomfortable canopy like bed and constant sway due to the waves, but it will do for now. As long as I get away from her and calm down my mind then it is fine.

I am her master, but that doesn’t mean I can abuse her servility for my own selfish desires.

Absolute power, corrupts absolutely indeed.

 

(3rd POV; Close Narrator, Shen-focused)

 

With the door shut closed with a loud bang, Shen could only do naught but stop in her tracks. She’s so close to jumping off the bed and going after her master, but decides to stop at the last second with the fear it would only escalate his reluctance.

Emotions she never experienced in her past life before start festering. Anger? Shame? Regret, but most important of all–doubtness towards herself. Is she even worthy of being his servant for allowing such a stupid mistake? To fail to comfort her master, her creator?

She recalls from one of his mother’s lessons that to win a man’s heart is to maintain a delicate balance of being assertive and submissive at the same time. Submissiveness was a no brainer. What kind of servant is not submissive towards its master, towards its creator? But assertiveness… Assertiveness was not something she truly thought of, even though it fits so well with her original way of doing things.

Now she fully understands what his mother meant by balance.

It was the right idea to subtly cast a spell that would cause the room to grow colder slowly but surely. A little devious trick for him to search for warmth; that would inevitably turn into him seeking out for her embrace. While she submissively pretends to sleep, waiting for his move.

What was not is stopping the act and calling him out. She foolishly thought since  master has taken his first step, it wouldn’t be wrong to be clear and assertively encourage him to continue.

It was going so well. She was more ecstatic than ever before when master was on top of her, doing what he truly wanted to do without holding back.

Like a key inserted to its designated lock. It feels so right; like the way it should be.

It’s such a fantastic feeling, the purpose instilled on her very soul. Life is not hazy, ambiguous clouds full of uncertainty anymore. The path is already there, provided with guaranteed satisfaction and happiness, lying all across in this path that goes forever long.

It wasn’t like her past life where, even if she was fully certain of a choice, it would always turn out to be the wrong one either way. Even when she thinks a choice is the most correct one, there’s always something that is not ideal. Stuck between the choice of two lesser ideal choices, it always leaves her unsatisfied and regretful.

This second life was different, further proven by how she quickly recovers from this failure.

So what if she failed? She has all the time in the world, and master is not going anywhere. What she needs now is not just attentiveness but also persistence. Both of which are completely new to her. Both of which she doesn’t have much experience in her past life as Naga.

But isn’t this what makes this second life so interesting?

Back then, everything just fell to her slightest whim, making everything rather boring. Thousands of dragons fought her and it only took a day to defeat all of them, coming out with miniscule injuries. Claiming the peak of the tallest mountain that was reserved to the most supreme beings was also too easy. There’s little to no excitement in that world. Only the vainness of it all.

Now, she actually has to push effort to fight and conquer master’s heart. There’s thrill in the chase like nothing before. The challenge to fulfill her purpose fuels her drive and leaves her excited to earn her price. The failures and setbacks doesn’t even demotivate her the slightest bit — it further drives her yearn for master’s love even more.

Recalling how close she was to fulfilling master’s desire, she can’t help but notice the corners of her lips curving up.

 

I will earn my master’s love, and my master’s trust. And soon master’s heart will be mine, and only mine.

 

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LOTA CH49 — Enkindling a Spark ♡♡♡

Before I can even process her audacious request, she jumps on me and wraps me around her embrace, causing me to fall to the ground. Her assertiveness to get down and dirty truly comes unexpected, although I’m quite nervous with what she has on store.

Not stopping with a mere hug, she presses on me even more, squishing her big breasts to the point I couldn’t help but feel and think only of her breasts, soft like vanilla pudding. Even with two fabrics in-between, her passionate warmth still seeping through.

「 S-shen, s-stop! I’m quite sweaty, you know? 」

「 I love everything about you, master~♡ Your smell, your voice, your kindness, your entire existence. 」

She runs her tongue on my neck and even around my ear, licking up all the sweat like she’s desperate for water.

「 Shen, it tickles… 」

「 Master~~ ♡ 」She whispers sensually into my ear, causing me to shiver out of excitement.

After her words penetrate deep into my ear, her tongue slips in. Probing my ear, deeper, and more intimate, causing my ear to be sensitive to the slightest sweet moans.

Warmth. It’s such a beautiful feeling, it mellows you down, releases your tension, and just relaxes you and makes you want to snug it forever. However, like a fire, if left too long absentmindedly, it will burn you.

「 Haaa~…. Haaa~…. 」

This is bad, I shouldn’t be the one feeling good the most.

I look down at Shen’s hand, running her fingers along my stomach, prying beneath my shirt, unbuttoning it. Does she like my stomach or something? Sure there’s some abs there but not that much…

On the corner of my view, Shen’s dragon tail lingers on the floor. Out of desperation of not wanting to lose, I grab her tail, hoping it could be my crutch for a comeback.

Like being struck by lightning, she jolts and welps in a high pitch voice.

「 M-m-master! 」She yelps out of surprise with a tinge of excitement 「 w-what are you doing…. 」

I press harder and begin to lightly fondle her tail.

「 Ahhh~~ Master~ 」

She moans uncontrollably, seemingly trying to hold back her moans. Her tail must’ve been one of her few erogenous parts.

「 Your tail is such a lively one~ 」

I begin my counter-attack and whisper to her ears this time.

「 Does it feel good? Me caressing your tail? 」

「 MmmHHhhmmm~ it… It tickles.. P-please stop! 」

She says that, but her twitching tail is being more truthful in her answer.

「 Should I stop then? 」

「 N-no, no!  」

「 Then don’t hide it, Shen. Tell me your honest feelings. 」

I stroke the tip of her tail furthermore, applying all sorts of gentle administration on her, stroking wider and longer. Although seeing Shen squirming in pleasure is a sight to behold itself, I have to hold back my desire. Desires that should not be laid upon her.

「 I-it feels good, master~ mmmmhh!! I love it when you caress my tail! AAhhh~~ I wish this moment would last forever! I wish master can experience what I’m feeling right now… Even more than what I’m feeling right now, ahhhhh…. 」

「 Good girl~ 」I whisper directly to her ear, where Shen’s body shivers at my word. She likes being praised a lot.

I will give her all the praise she deserves.

「 You are such a good girl, Shen. I am here. I won’t go anywhere. 」

She shivers more, quivering over a slight touch. Her eyes literally shine with great joy.

「 Master~ I want a kiss from you. 」

Without any more words, Shen leans over and starts kissing me. She’s so aggressive. Her tongue pushes deeper into my mouth and coils around my own tongue.

「 K-haa… 」 She lets go of my mouth after a full minute, a thin strand of saliva extending between our lips.

「 Haaaaaa… Master’s saliva… it’s so tasty~ 」

Shen pants quite excitedly, is she already in deep ecstasy?

My dick is fully erect at this point, and I could think of nothing but releasing that urge inside me.

「 Master~ may we move to bed? 」She suggest.

Her voice stops me from my feverish haze. Of course she doesn’t want to do it here, a beautiful goddess like her definitely doesn’t want to be fucked like a cheap slut in a dirty alley. I really want to ravage her now, but her feelings are top priority.

「 Of course, if master doesn’t want to, then that is fine. All I want is to please you~ 」

She must’ve detected my discomfort, that’s why she starts to change her mind, that won’t do.

「 No… That’s exactly what I was thinking about, Shen. Let’s go to bed. 」I stand up and reach my hand to her.

「 Ummm… 」She starts nervously, 「 If that’s the case could you please carry me like before? My master~ 」

She extends and opens her arm widely. Reddened cheeks and turns slightly out of embarrassment. I’ve never thought such an assertive girl like her could make such an expression. Yet, a part of me, deep from within, becomes disappointed with this turn of event.

What the hell was I thinking…. She’s not Siana, who’s willing at first appearance. She might say that she’s a servant, but what she ultimately wants is to be spoiled and loved.

「 Of course, 」I lightly laugh,「 anything for my little dragon princess. 」

For a split second, she looks disappointed as if she realizes she made a mistake. But it’s all gone without a trace, replaced with a face full of smiles. Maybe it’s just my eyes deceiving me.

「 M-master… On second thought, I want it now. I can’t hold back anymore…. 」

「 No can do Shen. Be a good girl and let me carry you to bed. 」

Without much effort, I gently pick her up, carrying her in the same princess carry as last time. Even though this is the second time I carried her, I still can’t quite fathom how such a powerful dragon girl is this light.

「 N-no, master put me down! 」

「 Getting embarrassed already, Shen? Take it in like a good girl~ 」

She responds by snuggling closer to my chest to hide her embarrassment.

「 M-mooo…. Master~  」She purrs.

Before long we reach the bedroom where I place Shen carefully in the bed.

「 Is there anything you want to do, Shen? 」I say still knees on the floor beside the bed, 「 whatever you like? Do you want me to caress your tail again? 」

「 C-could you go down n-no! No… I… I want whatever master wants. Whatever pleases master the most. 」

There she goes again. Why can’t she just be honest? Why does she have to answer in such a convoluted way? It’s up to me to find what she likes the most then. Well it doesn’t matter. I know what Shen likes anyway.

「 Don’t worry Shen, I know what you love. 」

I need to make sure that she feels cherished and loved.

I start by nibbling her earlobe, slowly trailing down her body. Even wrought with sweat, her body excites me further. It seems Shen has a weak spot in her left clavicle, each oral stroke earned me a restrained whimper from the dragon princess. By the time I made it down to her thigh, Shen’s already been reduced to a shrilling mess.

All of that effort was definitely worth it. As her wetness gives me the recognition that I am able to please Shen. And now for the ultimate price of her wet pussy.

「 Noooo~! Don’t look at it! Master~~~ ♡ 」

I crawl my tongue in Shen’s secret place, making it even wetter.

「 …This… This part of Shen is tasty too. 」

Why did I hesitate to say that?

「 D-don’t say that… aahhhhh~! 」She moans back.

Of course I know the answer deep inside.

I’m… genuinely not fond of doing this. The only joy I do from this is hearing her sweet moans and her body squirming out of pleasure. The sour taste of her love juice, although not really off-putting, is quite hard to get used to.

But this is an easy compromise to make Shen enjoy sex too. I must please her too.

「 It’s very wet down here. Shen. It won’t be wrong to call it a flood. You must be enjoying this aren’t you Shen. 」The gentle tone and praise seems to fuel Shen’s fire as she shudders in pleasure.

Last time I inserted my finger, this time let’s try only using my mouth and tongue. I dig deeper this time with my tongue, exploring her crevice, nose deep in her clitoris.

Slowly, her moans become more disorganized. Her legs widen as my motion grows in intensity.

「 Master! I’m cumming master~! I’m CUMMING!!! 」

With screams of euphoria, she squirts and squirts and squirts, drenching my face with her love juice. I didn’t stop even as she came, riding over her orgasmic high for several seconds.

「 Haaaaaa~~…. Haaaa~….. 」

Shen’s breathing becomes quite ragged, and her eyes quite empty, gazing at the void.

She must’ve been quite satisfied. Even in her more disheveled state, she still looks absolutely beautiful. My crotch begins to go hard again.

「 Master~~♡ 」She mewls sultry,「 Thank you for letting this servant cum. But I’m still not feeling full yet… 」

She stretches her labia open, revealing all of her vulnerable inner folds. Is she hinting at me to go further? But she’s still in a quite daze.

「 You don’t have to force yourself Shen. I know you are satisfied and tired by now. You should relax and take it easy. 」

「 No… It’s not enough…. I want more… Master hasn’t came inside me yet~ ♡ 」

Her eyes are full of anticipation, making it a little difficult to reject her. Even more so when my cock is begging me to go.

「 Is… that what you truly want? 」I ask, secretly doubting her.

「 Yes! A thousand times yes! Please come inside your servant, master! 」

「 Then… be a good girl and let master take care of you. 」

With her request and a quick undressing on my part, I loom over her gorgeous body. It’s a sin how a normal person like me can be so close to such perfection. Being so close with her at this moment truly reminds me of how little I am compared to her.

Yet, when I look at her, her expression is one full of gratefulness. One full of worship.

Her full perky tits visibly jiggles. And she smiles demurely, eyes fixated right onto me. As if I’m the only one that truly matters to her in the whole wide world.

Her long neck looks appetizing. My hands wrap around Shen’s throat. For a moment, it’s just the two of us in silence, me looming above her, her yearningly stares up at me.

I quickly let go of her neck. I haven’t applied any pressure but it already feels like in any second, I will choke her out. I let go of these thoughts. She needs to be treated gently, not roughly.

「 Master… Can I try doing it on top this time? 」

「 Eh? Sure, of course. 」I reply, her request astonishes me.

I comply with her request this time, curious with what she have in store. Shen hovers above me, carefully straddling herself to envelop me. I can tell she’s having a hard time with all of this. Her face writhes and contorts as she desperately tries to ride my manhood.

It’s only until I hold my member and assist her that it’s able to find its place. And without warning, Shen immediately sinks her body down onto my cock.

「 Ahhh~ Finally… finally master is inside me again~ ♡ 」

The sudden sensation of a quick thrust makes my crotch throbs even further.

A far more passionate smile blooms on her face as she looks at me, her eyes beaming with not just lust… but also bliss.

How can she smile so passionately?

「 It feels so good~ having master inside. 」

The plump flesh tightens around me, my cock pushes deeper against the entrance of her womb.

After she swallows my whole length, Shen stops moving, getting used to being on the top. I’m gradually getting impatient but it’s already very intoxicating just by being enveloped in her warmth.

I’m gradually getting impatient but it’s already very intoxicating just by being enveloped in her warmth.

「 Master~ Am I doing great? Am I pleasing you? ♡ 」She asks between breaths.

「 Of course you’re doing great Shen… It feels good. 」

「 Hehehehe… ♡ 」

With a renewed vigor, Shen attacks my cock, moving up and down so vigorously that I almost blank out. There is now a small pool of fluids drenching onto my thighs.

Her inner walls clenches around me and try to pull every bit of pleasure that it can from me as well, tempting me into returning again and again and again.

It all arouses me to the point I want to move my hips as well and return attacking her. But I stop my urge, as I have a feeling the reason why she wants to be on top is because she wants to be in control of her pleasure.

She moves and works up in a steady rhythm. Seeing her with a reddened cheek, sultry smile, coupled with bouncing perky tits, my cock keeps thrusting for what feels like twenty minutes. Inching closer and closer to release, but nowhere near close to cumming, as if there’s a mental barrier that holds me back from cumming.

「 Master… Why are you so stiff…. Here… 」She reaches for my hands and places them on her tits, seemingly noticing the barrier,「 I heard men love big breasts. Go ahead, grab them… You don’t have to be shy~ 」

Her tempo becomes much slower with my hand full of her breast in my grasp.

「 Master… They ache for your touch~  」

I observed the subtle changes in Shen’s expression and made adjustments in order to make her feel more pleasure. Slowly teasing and pinching her nipples with great care. Kneading and playing with her gorgeous breast.

「 Ahhhnnn! 」Shen almost screams out of pure euphoria.

「 Yesshhh… My master I am all yours~ ♡ 」

Her sweet words send shivers to my spine. My dick twitches harder, such assuring words caught me entirely off guard.

「 Ahhhnnn… Master~ Your dick is twitching so much. Are you enjoying my praise towards you? Fufufu 」She says, with a knowing smile.

Shit. She found my weakness.

「 Having master’s cock inside me is a hundred times better than teasing my tail! 」

「 I live to serve you! I live to worship you!  」

「 Master is my everything! ♡ 」

Honeyed words that I wish to believe didn’t really mean for me, however, penetrates my heart to the core, pushing me closer and closer to the inevitable release. The barrier broke down.

It almost becomes a challenge to deny her constant honeyed words that I wish to believe didn’t really mean anything for me. Just lip service with no actual earnestly, purely for the sake of ending this quickly. Yet, her words are able to penetrate deep into my heart, pushing me closer and closer to the inevitable release. The mental barrier breaks down.

Fuck. I could feel it, I’m getting close. Too close.

「 Master, are you going to cum? Please cum, master~! 」

Her assault becomes more rapid, moving her hips faster and clenching down even harder.

「 Give me your seed! Release your desire into me! Let this servant please you! 」

I can’t hold it in anymore.

「 Ahhh~~! Shen cum for me! Cum with me! Be a good girl for me, Shen!  」

「 M-master~! I’m… I’m cumming! CUMMING!!! 」

With my teeth clenched, the dam breaks. The first shot feels like a burst from an over-charged fire hose. Her body convulses until she falls down numbingly. Her entire body embraces me, as I feel her entire weight on me, strangles scream of pleasure coming out of her with every new shot.

Stream after stream of white river spills deep into her as I come, lasting what seems to be eternity before it ends. as I slide myself out of Shen’s pussy, spilling the cum out of her hole that stains the bed.

「 Haaa…. Haaaaaa…. Masteeerrrr~ I love you~ ♡ 」

Shen’s mind incoherently mewls sweet nothingness to my ear.

I still can’t believe we came at the same time, even though I was the one feeling it the most. With how tired she is, there’s no way she’s faking her orgasm.

But this is bad…

My dick is still hard and raring to go.

 

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LOTA CH48 — The Dancing Blades

CLANG!

The sword slips out of my hand. Flying high in the air. The suddenness of it makes me stunned, the mind solely thinking of the shiny reflection of the sword that beats even the sunlight.

A loud thump snaps me out of my stunned moment, coupled with a painful impact in my bottom. Only when a sharp blade touches my neck that I return to reality and the severity of it. The holder of that sword is nonetheless Shen herself. A deadpan stare comes from her.

「 I’ve lost. 」I faintly let out the words,「 you’ve done well, Shen. 」

「 Finally. I’ve won! 」

Both her arms and sword raise up to the air. She lets out a smile. A different smile. Not the previous gentle and soft smile she usually shows. One filled with ecstasy and gleaming joy. A victorious smile.

When I’m away, socializing with the people on the ship. Shen continuously and meticulously trained in the art of swordsmanship.

To think, with just another few weeks of teaching her the basics and a lesson about human anatomy combined with her self-taught and perseverance, she’s already able to beat me. A week left before we arrived in Jayavia city.

At first, I oblige with Shen’s request for swordsmanship training purely so she can have something to do amidst this voyage full of boredom. As if left alone without much to do, her default state would be in pestering me on how to better worship and serve me.

「 Master… 」

「 Yes, what is it? 」

「 I believe I’ve offended you earlier, by winning against you. 」

She found out huh…

When Shen triumphs over me, it wasn’t just my almost non-existent ego that was lost. A fabricated, made-up reason on how I can become a master to such a formidable dragon.

An edge over the art of swordsmanship.

Rulers must have some sort of a reason why they are the nobles, the superiors that can command over the lesser one. A “why” that established the hierarchical structure.

Rulers often proclaim themselves to be the direct descendant of a divine being or simply declare that they are the god themselves. All of them establish how set apart they are from the common people. How they are the “chosen”, the “divine” one that is clearly the opposite from the lowly peasant. At least that’s the way it was in the old times where autocracy or monarchy is the common government system in the world.

If not then, simply due to strength. Strength can be in any form. Whether that’s military strength, economic strength or in this world — magic prowess.

Swordsmanship is where I am superior compared to Shen. In the grand scheme of things, swordsmanship alone won’t be of use. But it was something that I excel at more than Shen. A small difference in superiority. A small pride to reassure myself why I can be the master of what is most likely to be the most powerful dragon in existence.

And now…. I lost it.

「 It’s very normal that one day the student surpasses its teachers or mentor. In fact, it brings great pride and joy to the mentor that their student is able to reach new heights they couldn’t achieve. 」I say as I let out a small smile, to reassure her「 there’s not much else I can teach you regarding swordsmanship. If you want to perfect the art, then I will try to find some resources or even other mentors for you to learn from.  」

「 Me winning from you doesn’t change anything. You are still my revered master, my master. 」She says affectionately.

What kind of master is weaker than his subordinates?

「 It brings me joy that I can be just a tiny bit more useful to you in this human form. 」

She says getting closer, desperately trying to assure me, like what she always likes to do.

「 Of course Shen…. Whatever it is you want to pursue, I will try my best to support you. And remember. You winning from me is not an excuse for you to stay relaxed. 」

I may have lost that edge. But so be it. I’m not that petty to want to nit pick her from the bud.

She has a talent for it and is more than worthy enough to flourish it. It won’t do anybody justice to not develop it further. Besides, she seems to have fun and is genuinely interested in it. That’s why I should always support her, even if the disparity between her and I deepens.

Shen should’ve feel relieved or back to her cheerful mood. More so with my declaration to keep supporting her path in swordsmanship. But she looks nervous, seemingly trying to desperately hold the temptation to say a word.

「 Shen, 」I call her out,「 Is there something wrong? 」

「 It’s nothing, master… 」

「 Shen, you know that you can be honest with me right?  」

「 Master… There is something else I want to show you. 」

She walks to the bench and picks up the second sword. An almost exact copy of the first one, except that it is shorter.

Wait… Don’t tell me, she wants to dual-wield?

「 Shen… You know that dual-wielding is very impractical right? 」

「 I’ve been practicing dual-wielding swords secretly from you… A-are you mad?  」

「 No. I’m just worried you will waste time training an impractical style. Not a lot of people dual-wield swords for a reason Shen. There needs to be a free hand to cast a spell and dual-wield swords require very excellent coordination. 」

「 I know very well, master. Those challenges doesn’t stop me and I’ve already quite excelled at them. I would like to demonstrate it to you. Please summon five shadow minions for me to fight against, master. 」

Five shadow minions? Is she going to spar against all of them at the same time? Is this going to be safe?

Ahh whatever. She definitely knows what she’s doing. I must trust her.

With a simple thought five shadow minions surround her. No reaction comes out from her when they surround her. Only the same gentle small smile towards me

「 Master, command them to attack me with all their might. 」

「 What?! Are you sure? 」

「 Trust me, master. If I can’t even defend myself against several weak foes then I do not deserve to be by your side and serve you. 」

 


You’ve heard her. Attack her seriously with all of your might. Injuring her is encouraged but keep her alive.

Yes, my lord.


 

With a dash, all of the shadow minions jump to her at once. All at the same time.

Seeing the shadow minions’ aggressive attack, I start to regret ordering them and fear for the worst. With a flash my worries are dismayed with shen’s swirl, fending off the shadow minions’s blade. Knocking them off slightly.

The style of swordsmanship she created is truly amazing. Traces of my style are apparent in her but it is now much more fluid. With no awkward and wasted energy.

Elegant and beautiful.

The two swords swing ands moves with harmony. The short sword controls the space and fend off any oncoming attacks, while the long sword with its long reach assaults and exploit any weakness that comes from the split second parry of the short sword.

Her strike with the sword is the embodiment of an ice storm.

There’s rhythm in her movement and swings. Like a ballerina dancing to the song’s rhythm. Swift and dazzling. Only that the supposed beat of the musical instruments are replaced with the sounds of steel clashing.

With two swords on her hands, combined with meticulous coordination, she controls the space very well. Creating distance from the shadows on all sides.

None of the shadows attack, reaches her. Whether it’s a swift strike from behind where she should least expect it, or whether all the shadow minions attack her at the exact same moment. All are fended off with ease.

Supreme, peerless…

Untouchable.

…How do I want to go on with Shen from now on?

She says she loves me. But will that always hold through? She is clearly way better than me in almost every aspect.

It is clearly only due to the circumstances of my power that she falls in love with me.

If not then, it is most likely because she met me first. From the way she describes her previous life, nobody accepts her and treats her with kindness.

Like a freshly born bird that will acknowledge something it sees first as its parent, she only loves me because I am the first one who treats her kindly like any decent normal being would do.

Sooner or later she will experience the world and she will find out that anyone would treat her kindly – maybe even treat her far better than me.

I need to always prepare for that inevitable outcome. To never be swayed by emotions. To always think rationally with a heart of steel.

「 M-master… 」

I snap out of my thoughts, and look to Shen. Behind her, the shadow minions are in shambles, laying flat down on the stone floor of the courtyard.

「 Ah, do not worry master. 」She notices me looking behind her and looks back also, giving a glimpse of her slender back,「 They are not fatally injured. I’ve made sure to be careful and not lay waste to any of your shadow minions. 」

「 I see… Thank you, Shen. 」

「 Master… I am still your faithful servant. Please believe me… 」

She moves closer once more. Too close as she enters my personal space.

「 Enough of the sad part. 」I say, as I stop her from her tracks. Knowing well that the conversation is moving in a direction that I don’t want.

「 Your accomplishment in being able to dual-wield swords is worthy of a celebration. 」I continue,「 Is there anything you want as a reward? We are still on a voyage but as soon as we reach our destination I can get anything you want within my power. 」

「 R-really? Anything? 」She jolts up, her eyes flash out of excitement.

「 Yes. As long as it is within my capability, Shen. 」

「 T-then… 」She says hesitantly, looking downwards. Her cheeks becoming pink in color.

Knowing Shen, she might request for a book containing the art of a legendary swordsmanship that fits with her dual-swords style.

「 C-can… Can I receive your tender love and affection? 」

Wait… what?

She unknowingly comes closer to me, her head slightly leaning to the side.

「 Let’s make love, my master~ ♡」

Shit. Am I hallucinating or her pupils are now heart shaped?

 

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LOTA CH47 — Reflection & Guidance

「 Let your blade be swift and your mercy true. 」

「 Let your blade be swift and your mercy true. 」

Shen starts with a wide swing and rushes into me. First to strike. Very much like her.

I already expected her to start with a swift swing but I still barely parried it. The impact is so great that my sword vibrates along with my arm. A testament to the durability of the sword as any normal ones would’ve been broken from that impact alone.

My sword almost flew out of the way. Only by a firm grip and anticipating it that I’m able to still get a hold of it.

It knocks me back slightly and forces me to retreat and give her space.

I reposition my foot work and before I’m ready for the second round, she dashes straight to me once more, with a wide swing nonetheless. Take me by surprise. Leaving no room for me to counterattack.

She swings fast. Left and right. In a flick of the eye. Speed that could only be achieved thanks to body tempering magic spells, was achieved by her simply due to her dragonic nature.

Her lithe arms carry the dragon strength she possesses. Her eyes full of sheer intent and a concentration of will — as sharp as a dragon.

So suitably aggressive. So suitably calculating. So suitably like a dragon.

If it weren’t for her direct textbook copy movement that I’ve taught to her, I wouldn’t be able to counter and definitely lose the first five seconds of the round.

In the myriad of her offenses, a blocked parry comes. Our blades stuck to one another. I push our stuck, jumbled sword to her zone. Shen retaliates by moving our blades upwards. A beginner’s mistake. With her attention focused on our blades, her space down below leaves exposed. An exploit left in the open.

I swiftly kick her in the crotch. Pushing her backwards.

Shen squirms a little in both pain and shock.

With no resistance on my sword this would be the perfect time to strike her head. But of course I won’t do that.

I let her fall completely to the ground, bottom first. Her eyes widened, clearly out of shock and also pain. My heart twitches seeing her expression.

With her attention completely thrown out of the window and laying down on the ground, I thrust my sword. And the tip of the blade stays still closely to her neck.

「 I surrender. 」She let loose the grip of her swords and also let out a bittersweet smile.

Shen is much more agile and has more strength no doubt. But Shen at its current state is still a bit clueless regarding human’s nature along with its weakness and anatomy.

Careless swings and pure brute force might work against unintelligent monsters but against experienced humans that kind of technique won’t stand a chance. Maybe it’s due to my fault for focusing her on textbook techniques and rigid training. However it should be something easy to fix with enough ample amount of time and experience.

There is no doubt however in just three weeks she’s already almost on par with something I must train myself for three years. Yes, time travels much slower in the time palace but it’s only roughly three times slower, so technically nine weeks, which is still a miraculous performance. She’s a genius in a way. She must not just be dragonic in body strength but also in the mind.

「 Did you notice your mistakes, Shen? 」

「 Yes- 」she coughs mid sentence. Shit. Looks like I kicked her with too much strength,「 I was so absorbed with our blades that I didn’t pay attention to anything else. I’ve never thought the feet could be used to attack as well. 」

「 You’ve done well, Shen. Let’s take a break and sit down on the bench nearby. 」

I offer my hand and help Shen stands up, and carry her to the bench.

「 Are you alright, Shen?  」I ask her now after we sit down relax fully in the bench.

「 There is no reason for you to apologize, master. And I’m being honest when I say that this is nothing… Nothing compared to my previous life fights. 」

Seeing her being eager about it, I can only take her words of being truthful.

I let silence take place, to calm things down after the sparring match for a moment.

This Sky-Palace courtyard’s humongous size, although appreciated, gives the impression of a desolate place. The only thing missing to liven things up would be butterflies laying on the diverse flowers and birds chirping in this courtyard. Although that kind of thing might be much more suited in the greenhouse as the greenery here is minimal.

「 Although our training is focused on swordsmanship without any magic in play, anything else is a free game. 」I start my lecture,「 What I just did, such as using a foot to knock you out, is considered by others as barbaric with no honor attached. But in a situation where it costs your lives, honor will be thrown out. 」

「 I understand, 」she responds quickly and tactfully, like a disciplined eager student,「 does that mean I should also use my feet to attack? 」

「 Not necessarily. What I am trying to say is that, don’t always focus on the swords too much. Focus on your surroundings. Others will use any tricks or hidden trump cards that you won’t expect. I am guessing your sense of perception in your human form is not as good as when you are in your dragon form. 」

She nods, and her expression is filled with understanding and contemplation.

「 There’s also the fact that swords are complementary to the user’s magic ability. Other than trading sword blows, there’s obviously magic spells involved. That’s why perception and the ability to multitask is important. 」

「 Indeed I’m still not used to swordsmanship, more so with perceiving my surroundings in my human form.  」

「 I still do not understand, Shen. If it’s about fighting in your human form, I’m sure you can still cast the same powerful spells as you before in your dragon form. In fact, how about you try to cast any impressive spells but not the harmful kind right now, Shen. 」

Shen nods, and faces towards the largest empty space this Sky-Palace courtyard can offer.

With no warning whatsoever, a wall of towering ice spikes soars from the ground. The glistening ice reflects the light sharply, as sharp as the thrones on it. Splitting the courtyard by half.

No incantation nor a magic circle rune. Not even the slightest hand gestures. It just springs out of nowhere.

I’m pretty sure even an expert would be hard-pressed to do incantation-less spells for  complex and grand-scale spells like this.

「 So how was it, master? This is just a tiny portion of my arsenal of magic spells, my magic ability in my human form is quite limited, so this is what I can only do. 」

Now I understand why humans never went to the surface back in the ancient times — Verum Shihi Era. Humans don’t stand a chance against them.

「 Even with your limited magic capability alone, you are still a formidable foe for almost any expert. There’s not much need for you to complement it with swordsmanship. 」

「 Swordsmanship is interesting… It is a novelty for me who was once a dragon. The idea that this piece of steel is worked on and crafted to try to increase human’s strength to mitigate their lack of magic capabilities is quite amusing. 」

Her smooth hand unknowingly makes its way to me and holds my hand resting in my lap. She’s been training for quite a while and even progresses rapidly, but surprisingly no rough calluses have formed in her hand. Remaining perfectly smooth. As if she’s like a doll.

She leans towards me. Resting her head on my shoulder, like she always does if there’s a chance.

…This is not good.

「 And well… I have fun learning this art. More so when you’re here with me, master. 」She shakes with laughter.

「 I’m glad that you are having fun. 」I correct my sitting posture and with both of my hands placed on her shoulders, position her to sit straight,「 you have talent and potential in swordsmanship. With your swift, wide and fluid movement like a flowing river, your unique style of swordsmanship is as if you are dancing. Striking down enemies not just with your swords or magic, but also with your presence as you dance elegantly and beautifully. 」

I say, praising her, to what obviously is an over exaggeration. And well… an overwhelmingly positive feedback never hurts.

「 Hoooo… Is that so? Dancing…. 」

Ah, does she not know what dancing means?

「 I shall keep that in mind, my master. 」She says with a wide smile. Radiating the same elegance that just melts you into her.

「 That’s it for today’s lessons from me. 」I say suddenly, trying to stop myself from getting too chummy with her,「 we’ve been sparring for tens of times anyway. 」

「 Only one of them I’ve won… And even then it was due to you surprisingly slipping in the middle of our spar…. 」

She says a bit meekly. Dissatisfied with her result while simultaneously still eager and enthusiastic to learn and put more effort.

「 If you still insist on continuing your training then do you want to spar with the shadow minions again? 」

「 O-of course, master.  」

Without further ado, I summoned two shadow minions.

 


Have a sparring match with Shen. And remember, no lethal attacks.

Yes, my lord.


 

「 Have fun, Shen. And don’t be too excessive. It’s about time I head over to have lunch with the captain. 」

Shen rises from the bench and is already holding her sword. Heading towards the two shadow swordsmen on their knees.

The encounter also provides an interesting insight. Shen could command the shadow minions and were given almost the same authority as I. Although my commands always surpasses and prioritizes over hers and her commands cannot in any way be used to harm me.

I leave Shen in the courtyard accompanied by her sparring partners. The sound of the sword clashing starts ringing once more.

Let’s hope she won’t accidentally kill a shadow minion or two, like last time. I would like to not waste them more than necessary.

Thankfully after a few weeks passed by, I’ve never felt nauseous anymore but I make sure to stay up on the deck to make my presence known to the others and to not raise suspicion of being holed up down in the quarter. Lunch with Sir Aston and the adventurer being the time to go back to the deck and greet everyone with my presence.

However, it’s too early to head over lunch. An excuse to leave early, away from Shen. An important one to sort things out with what occurred in the spar with Shen previously. As I thought of something rather dangerous at that moment…

I enjoy seeing Shen squirming in pain.

When Shen falls down, my heart twitches not because I feel guilty, but because I was ecstatic. I became excited seeing Shen down on the ground.

It’s intoxicating seeing a beautiful girl such as her on her knees, defend-less…

Her once beautiful determined eyes change to a shocked, twisted one.

It all makes me feel very alive and excited…

I wish I did not have to keep thinking about it. But this moment for sure will always be stuck in my mind. Clenching to her image in that moment, rewinding it over and over again for days to come-

Bang!

Out of frustration I punch the wall beside me.

The slight stinging pain in my fist proving to be able to divert my attention out of her image…

I must force myself to think of something else.

Ohhh.. I know what it is…

The overall summary of this second life of mine. The fact that I acted like an idiot.

Immature.

I wish I could blame it all on the raging hormones this body generates in its peak puberty age that was originally wasn’t mine, but blaming things you can’t control is in itself an immature act.

This is what happens when I get my feelings and emotions way too overboard. I shouldn’t let my emotions and feelings get ahead and carry my reasoning away…

This is what happens when I can’t get a tight grip of my emotions…

It is so unlike me to be so full of emotions. I remember in my past life, I always took it like a man with a steel of heart. I never complained and always accepted things as they were.

I accept and never retaliate to my father’s enraged anger for not getting first place in some instances throughout my school experience. To the point of being punished by being starved for three days.

I accept and never retaliate when my wife shouts angrily at me for any little inconveniences or when things doesn’t go the way she wants.

I always accept it and never let these things make me emotional or make an impact on me.

The only time I didn’t accept things the way they were and let emotions get the hold of me was when my wife cheated on me.

And then I forgot my principle and always let my emotions get the hold of me throughout this second life of mine.

I guess I indeed somehow changed in this second life of mine, although for the worse.

I continue walking again. Towards the throne. As I plan on what to do when that adventurer will tell another tale of his bullshits. Leaving this sky-palace and hopefully, forgetting what transpired in today’s sparring match with Shen.

 

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LOTA CH46 – Disrelish Journey [Palliative Arc Start]

“ Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. ” – Abraham Lincoln

The ship sails smoothly. Passing through the wavy blue terrain with the help of the calm but steady wind. Sailors passing by through the deck, performing their own assigned duties. Whether that’s sweeping the wooden floor or configuring the sail. The sailors perform it with the excellence of one’s experience one does throughout their lifetime.

To them it might be a dull monotonous routine and duties, a means to an end to live and get their pay, but it’s definitely something that I would much rather have compared to the one I am about to do as soon as I sense a fuzzy sensation in my stomach.

Here it comes again…

B-bllarrrggghhh! bllarrrghhhh!

Ughh, I hate the damn sea…

It’s been only two days I’ve been stuck in this ship, and I still can’t shake off this damn sea fever. Throwing up both out to the side and the bucket. A new unwanted routine to my daily life at the sea. I just dearly hope to the goddess of this world to not experience this for the rest of the two month voyage.

It always happens after I eat lunch or dinner with Sir Aston and oddly, the leader of the adventurers on this ship. To be specific, one of the few《Maxim’s Fang》adventurers on a long-term contract to protect the ship from any threats such as pirates.

If there’s one thing in common between the adventures of all sorts of guilds is how they like to boast their adventure tales to the same matter of fairy tales — unbelievable. Reminding me of that instructor of mine. I’m honestly surprised Sir Aston is even willing to sit down, and eat while listening to his stories that might as very well be fantasies of his. Like come on, on his first adventure contract to guard a merchant’s trade route, he encountered a village being attacked by a few giant killer worms.

Killer worms are very deadly with their agile maneuvers and ability to hide underground but it almost never goes up to the surface, they almost always stay underground, where most adventurers usually encounter them in the caves. And this person is telling me he encountered few on the surface, what’s more actively attacking a village?

Not only that, the unrealistic and unlikely scenario scores him to sleep with the village chief’s wife and daughter at the same time?! And worse of all, the village chief willingly allows it…

It’s either Sir Aston is in dire need for any sort of entertainment in this long boring voyage or it’s because he wants to maintain a friendly relationship with that prideful adventurer. He even went as far as enthusiastically asking questions about his legendary adventures. “So how was your experience with them?! Don’t leave me hanging here!” “You sure are unlucky to encounter monsters on your first quest, or should I say lucky?” If it weren’t for Sir Aston’s enthusiasm, I would’ve debated his stories’ authenticity.

That and coupled with the ridiculous amount of feast that would trigger me to vomit, eating has become not a really enjoyable thing. However, dining with them is crucial as it is the only fitting chance I can get to comfortably converse with them. What I lack right now is information on what lies in Kasanra. The land of the Canids. Floating islands filled with its native inhabitants having feline ears and tails.

And thankfully amidst the adventurer boasting stories I was able to inquire about some information about Kasanra and Canids in general.

Kasanra, although littered with floating islands, remain uninhabited as there’s no means to travel in the air. But this allows some of the floating islands to become airborne monsters’ nests. The monster nest resided in the northern part of Kasanra, where no ground island existed, causing most of the active part of Kasanra to be situated on the south and its biggest islands became the home of the Canids and its two kingdoms.

Pasujan Kingdom — Jayavia, the city which 《Veinard Trading Guild》is situated in, is also the capital city of the Pasujan kingdom. Ruled by the Sujan Canids, with their distinct physical appearance of pale skin thanks to its mountainous region with black hair and furs. And due to its being in the center of an international trade route, it is very internationally assimilated and its native Canids inhabitants comprises half of its population.

Mojowoso Kingdom — Unlike the Pasujan kingdom counterpart, they are more isolated from the international world. Ruled by the Woso Canids, which comprises a huge portion of their population with its opposite physical appearance of olive skin with white hair and furs. Famous for their high quality molasses and sugar that is limited in supply and can only be bought through the Sujan Canids traders.

I wish there’s more details and information I can gain from Sir Aston but due to his trade specialization doesn’t focus much on Kasanra, especially about Mojowoso Kingdom, his knowledge is rather minimal.

Knowledge regarding Kasanra is important but I also heard some rather interesting information as he rant over the increased merchant tax this year that set him back a few years to renew his nobility title. Sir Aston Marcht is a nobleman no doubt, but apparently his nobility title is a non-hereditary one from his father that he must buy another one for his son to continue the family noble title of “Marcht”.

No wonder there’s a surprising quite large amount of nobility in the kingdom. The Veinard kingdom’s size is huge undoubtedly but I always thought the size of its nobility was a bit too much.

With a huge sum of money, a commoner can buy a noble title that lasts for two generations. They won’t be given land and expected to manage commoners naturally, but they certainly gain the privileges of a noble. Socially acceptable for nobility to marry more than one woman, connection to influential nobility society, premium access to Associations of Magicians, and being able to enroll their children to the Bosart University.

The only way a commoner can truly gain a real and hereditary title if they made a grand militaristic achievement or somehow advanced the magic system. And even if they could attain those extremely difficult achievements, at best they will be granted the title《Count》There’s very little social movement above and the upper nobility family lineage can be traced back to the founding of the Veinard kingdom itself.

This whole buying non-hereditary noble titles system surprisingly reminds me of the Shogun Tokugawa era where the rich — shoonin — merchant class bought the — bushi — samurai prestige by marrying their son to the samurai daughters. Even at the cost of stripping their merchant sons of their original family name. The shinokosho social system.

The reason why the practice of the rich merchant pays the samurai to marry their son in order to gain prestige to begin with was because the samurai class usually becomes poor trying to keep up with the extravagant lifestyle they had and in need of money to maintain their prestige and wealth.

Which leads me to think… Is the Veinard Royalty family lacking in wealth? Or this whole system is just for them to accumulate extra wealth that is not really in dire need?

Although it is a fruitless curiosity and something that is unrelated to my current situation, I can’t help but to ponder about it. As this imbalanced system shouldn’t be sustainable. It started from the beginning of Veinard kingdom existence and even may very well be at the start of the Minimus Shihi Era.

It also surprised me that Sir Aston is willing to talk about this noble title purchasing system in front of that adventurer.

「 You okay there, sir? 」

Speaking of the devil, look who comes. The leader of the adventurer himself — Caedric. Looking haughty as ever. His features resembles a distinct rogue attractiveness. The tattoos on his cheeks and a pair of knives tucked in his hip adds even more to his delinquent charm.

If what he said is true, he learned a few spells “here and there” that allowed him to be on par with Intermediate proficiency in《School of Assault Magic》. With his history of boasting stories with lies, however, I wouldn’t trust his words to be true.

「 Doesn’t it look quite obvious to you? 」I retort back.

「 Forgive me, Sir Alderhide. I thought you were in the midst of throwing up, but when up close you seem to be staring blankly in deep thought. 」His voice slightly raised with the wind gushing down the sail. 「 Like what a scholar would do. 」

There he goes again. When I told him that I specialize in the《School of Wits Magic》he immediately thought of me as a scholar. A mix of both jest and a sign of respect from the seems of it.

「 A man like you should’ve stuck to the books rather than going to a far away land. 」

Nevermind, it’s definitely the former.

「 So, is there something you need from me? 」I glanced at him,「 it’s very out of touch for you to look for me outside of lunch. 」

「 I’ve just remembered a herb mix that I bought a long time ago that could be useful in lowering your sea sickness pangs. It’s name is《Karimin》It might not be as potent as the fresh ones but should do the job. 」

「 I’m very grateful for you to give me this, but why didn’t you offer me this way sooner like yesterday? 」

「 Two things. I didn’t know your condition was that severe as from my personal experience boarding a ship for the first time, I had the sea fever only on the first day. And because this herb mix has a side effect of causing the taker to be unnaturally calm if overused. 」

「 I will try not to depend on it too much then. Thank you. 」

He hands me a pouch filled with herb mix presumably. I take it and indeed it is light enough for the herb mix to be filled in.

「 Is there anything you want in return for giving me this? 」I ask as I know there’s no such thing as something truly free.

「 Just think of it as a good will of mine, and my thanks for willingly listening to my adventure tales. 」

It sounds like a jest, particularly with that cheeky smile of his. As if he knows something. Unless…

Shit, does he know that I know that his stories are bullshit?

「 Well without further ado, I shall head back to my quarter and get some rest after taking this herb mix. 」

「 Of course, sir. Oh, and make sure to only get a small spoonful of the herb mix every day! 」

With his reminder and my mind still a bit fuzzy I head off to my quarter. I need to check up with Shen either way. She can be rather… Upset if I stay away from her for far too long. It is undeniable that time runs slower in the Sky Palace, but I wish she can be more patient.

I quickly walk down the stairs to the lower level of the ship where a short walk leads me to my quarter, a surprisingly modest place with a bed fit for one person only and a small window that gives a relatively nice view to the calm sea. It is also equally surprisingly much better compared to the common quarters where sailors have very little privacy and have to sleep side by side with their peers in hammock beds.

And the stench of months long sailors unbathed sweats in that place would make me throw up all over again.

With the door shut and a quick gulp of the herb mix that leaves a very earthy and bitter taste on my tongue, I rest in the bed and chant my spell as my eyes closed naturally.

I open my eyes, the view of the palace throne hall springs up, decked in the same personally picked banner design of mine of a skeleton frame forming a heart shape. And most important of all, I’m leisurely sitting at this magnificent throne. Affirming that I really am the master and the owner of both palaces, and of course — Shen.

「 Master~ welcome back. 」

I look slightly to the side, where Shen is standing, looking happy to see me, with that bright serene smile of hers. Something I’ve never experienced.

When I come back home after work, that woman would either be calling with her friends or going outside. And even if she’s at home and not doing anything or simply watching TV, it would almost certainly be a flat greeting without a smile or any sign of effort. As though it was just to acknowledge my existence. I’ve always asked her to be a little bit more welcoming when I get back home, but she always shrugs it off… Is it too much to ask for?

It all still feels surreal. This palace is truly wonderful with its extravagant aesthetics that I wouldn’t dare to dream of but it always feels empty and cold — lifeless. Shen’s presence, however, changes everything. She brings life to this place and adds a spark way more than intricate furniture could do.

She becomes another glimpse of hope. One that I don’t dare to think and be hopeful of.

Every time I come back to the Sky Palace, I always have a doubt that Shen might just be a figment of my imagination. That somehow materialized with how pathetic my current situation is.

「 Master, why are you staring blankly? 」

「 Ahh… It’s nothing. I’m just deep in thought. And yes… I’m back, Shen. 」

I look to her again, where I now realize Shen is holding the very two swords that caused her appearance and summoning.

「 Hmm… Why are you holding those swords, Shen? 」

Does she have some questions regarding these swords that cause her summoning?

「 Master, if it doesn’t bother you too much… Can this humble servant request your teaching in the art of human swordsmanship? 」

 

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LOTA CH45 – The Start of Voyage [Disheartening Arc End]

Inside the carriage, the harbor view springs up. The glass and the wall of the carriage that should’ve separated us from the outside world, fails to do so as the liveliness and chatter resound within.

Time flies as fast as the flocks of seagulls flying around in this perfect weather with clear blue sky.

It feels as though it was yesterday when I held Shen, idling away in the palace, and learned of her sorrow and solitude. But in a flash, days have passed by and the inevitable voyage has come.

And now mother is here to accompany me on my departure, even though it is clearly unnecessary.

「 Sweetie, are you mad at me? 」Mother asks, giving me her usual reassuring, but deeply guilt ridden smile.

「 No, I am not. What is it? 」I say, realizing that I fail to hide my annoyance.

「 Then why are you not saying anything? 」

「 Nothing, mother. I’m just… nervous. 」

「 Nervous to leave your lover behind? 」She asks, letting out a wide smile.

「 M-mother! 」I shout in protest. Before I know it, my cheeks are burning. Hopefully that doesn’t show…

「 Hmph! 」She mildly protests back with a puffed cheek,「 you should be thankful to your mother that I teach your innocent dragonkin lover the art of making love. She even told me you never make a move on her. Oh… poor girl to have fallen in love with my dense, idiotic son. 」

「 Yes, yes yes… I’m the fool who somehow got a beautiful girl to fall in love with me, 」I forcefully let out a light laugh,「 what did you talk about with Shen, anyway? 」

「 Ara-ara~ you should never pry into a woman’s secret and conversation, Renald. You might be a grown up man now, but you are still as clueless as the childish boy that I knew of. 」

Well, how am I supposed to know the intricacies of women, mother?

The carriage stops, a slight knock on the carriage’s door telling me that the helmsman has jumped off and will open the door in a moment. I look out the window and indeed we are already in the spot with multiple ships and decks.

The door opens and I swiftly get out of the carriage, the helmsman passes me my luggage, where I continue to carry them.

「 Hurry now, sweety. 」Mother hops out of the carriage, surprisingly,「 Your new life awaits. Mother will accompany you to the ship at the very least. 」

「 Mother. 」I say seriously,「 You know you can’t stay here for much longer. Father is waiting for you to come back and join the rest of the family on a trip going back to the Alderhide territory. 」

「 S-sweetie… 」mother looking nervous,「 A minute or two is fine. Wh-what if you got lost in the harbor? What if you got the wrong person? I must accompany you. 」

I hold her hand that I notice to be shaking. Of course, she would. Her only son is going to a foreign place, very far away.

「 Mother… I will be fine. 」I say affectionately and calmly, trying to assure and comfort her.「 You can’t make father wait for much longer. Who knows what he’s up to. You belong with father. And I will make do by myself just fine. 」

She holds my hand tighter as she forces a wide smile.

「 My little boy has grown up to be a fine man huh… I know this time will come sooner or later but I’ve never thought it will be in this way… 」

She pulls me into a tight embrace. My hand that holds my luggage is let go as I return the favor and hold my arm around her.

Feeling her warmth that contrasts from her peaceful blue hair as if it’s the flame I’ll ever need to remain cosy for life.

Is this… Is this the feeling of having a genuine loving mother? To think I would only realize this now…

「 Alright… I love you, my sweet boy. Promise me you will be back safe and sound. 」

「 I promise, mother. 」

She let go of the hug and with her face facing me, let out a wide smile once more. It should be a happy one for sure, but the emotion of sadness is clearly noticeable and can’t be hidden away.

「 I know I haven’t always been a good mother to you. I know something must have happened to you lately and in the past that you don’t want to tell me about. 」

How… How did she know? Is she talking about that time because of Hyledd?

「 A mother can sense these things, 」she says with a sad smile.「 Maybe you don’t trust me with the truth, but whatever the case it may be, I want you to know that I love you, and that I will always be here when you want to come home. 」

She goes back to the carriage, with steps that I notice to be taken quite hesitant.

I’m the one who hasn’t always been a good son to you… mother. But I can’t say that out loud.

Dammit what would a loving son say to a mother…?

「 I… I love you, mother! 」I shout as loud as I can, hoping that my very late farewell words reach her.

No voice comes from her and her lips doesn’t budge but she waves back with more enthusiasm, the glass window carriage doesn’t obscure her eyes that are now sparkling.

The horse neighs as the carriage starts moving. The carriage moves to the middle of the swarm filled with other carriages and pedestrians, where I see a glimpse of mother crying…

I want to run, catch up to the carriage, and try to comfort mother. But it’s too late. The carriage already engulfed itself in the crowd in the street.

Even in our farewell meeting she had to cry…

Shen’s love might be uncertain and fleeting. But my mother’s love towards me is as certain and as strong as the brightest diamond.

By the time I come home to the Veinard kingdom and meet with my mother once more, I must be a person that is worthy to be her son. A successful man and one that she won’t be ashamed of. Just like what I did in my past life.

I must make her happy and never make her cry again…

With the carriage nowhere in sight, I carry my large luggage and start wandering around the harbor like a drunken lost sailor. I’m a complete idiot to have forgotten to ask at which specific location do I meet with the merchant.

I try myself to stop dwelling on mother and focus on the present matter. On the bright side of it, at least this lonely moment gives me time to enjoy this one-of-a-kind harbor.

Usually harbor docks are made of wood, but everything here is made entirely with pristine grey stone, showcasing just how prosperous the sea trade route is.

The harbor is very much alive with rowdyness of the sailors passing by and diverse merchants conversing with their cargo goods on deck. Colorful banners of different kingdoms on each of the ships on display.

Then as I walk I stumble upon a decently sized magnificent ship that draws me in. There are much larger ships than this, but the decorations ooze out something that make me take notice.

「 Quite a beauty, isn’t she? 」

The voice lightly startles me, I look at the direction of the voice. A middle-aged man, with blonde hair. The outfit the man’s wearing on a glance might seem to be modest with its lacking decoration but it is dyed in dark blue, one of the most expensive color dyes. Usually reserved only for the nobility.

The man also wears a tricorn hat, which might’ve indicated he’s the captain of this ship.

「 She’s a beautiful fifty meters, three-masted, ocean-going sailing ship, capable of carrying up-to six hundred tons of cargo. 」He says looking lovingly to what seems to be his own ship,「 Layered in some manaritium in it’s hull and keel with the latest invention of the《Associations of Magicians》《School of Enchantment Magic》department  to provide protection and faster speed. It’s figurehead, a golden roaring lion to symbolize the great pride of our Veinard kingdom. 」

「 I am Aston Marcht. Judging from your demeanor, may I assume the young gentleman is the《Veinard Trading Guild》official who’s to accompany me to Kasanra?  」

「 Ah, that’s right, 」I show him the guild’s insignia and give him the letter 「 this is the letter from Dorlad. 」I add.

「 Indeed… 」He opens and proceeds to skim the letter.「 From the famous Dorlad himself – the right-hand of the《Veinard Trading Guild》guildmaster. 」

He stops reading the letter and faces back to me again, with a warm smile.

「 Welcome aboard, young gentlemen, Sir Renald Alderhide. I’m delighted to be your acquaintance. 」He offers his hand and I return the favor by giving a firm handshake.

「 You’ve come just in time, 」he continues,「 in a few minutes the ship is ready to set sail. Is your luggages with you? 」

「 Just the one in my hand thankfully. I carried not too much since I don’t want to burden your ship and men too much. 」

「 My… 」He looks slightly down at the luggage in my hand,「 where’s your servant? Why are you carrying your own luggage? Aren’t you of a noble blood? This won’t do… Edrington! Bring our guest luggage to our finest quarter. 」

A man hurriedly comes in front of us, wearing the classic striped blue shirt that screams sailor identity.

「 Aye aye, sir. 」

He offers me a hand, presumably for the luggage I have in hand. I hand the sailor the luggage, which he immediately takes into the ship.

「 Renald! There you are! 」

I look towards the shout that calls my name.

「 Elras? Aaron? 」

「 What were you thinking… Seriously, Renald. You think just sending us farewell letters is fine? 」

Elras and Aaron unknowingly come to me. Aaron looking pleasantly surprised while Elras looks obviously annoyed with his usual narrowed eyebrows.

How did they come here? When I didn’t even know what ship I specifically needed to go to? They even brought their servants from the looks of it.

「 Well, I assume all of you will be busy with your other duties as our education is finally over. 」I add, trying to reason with them as well as to myself.

「 That may be so, Renald. 」Elras replies,「 but nevertheless you are our cherished friend, and it saddens me that you will have to travel far away to the land of Canids, while I’m going to be stuck in my fief dealing with those damn elves. 」

The butler behind Elras steps forward and elegantly brings a wooden case up to his chest, where he opens it slowly to reveal the item inside.

A sheathed sword in its black and white sheathe with gold decorations.

This sword is quite similar to Elras’s sword… Wait, don’t tell me.

「 Isn’t this your sword, Elras? 」

On closer inspection, this is exactly his sword, minus the Reinhardt emblem of two eagles head, replaced with a normal ball-like shape at the pommel of the sword. I slowly take it out from the case and I unsheathe the sword. The blade gleams brightly, as well as the unique and far more complex manaritium runes. Oiled and sharpened, to the point of being almost new.

The magic runes, if I remember correctly, act as a mana storage and amplifier. Allowing the wearer to cast more spells as well as more intensive spells. Not only that, the mana runes act as burning coal, for the damage it inflicts leaves burns marks and flesh turns to ashes. And it swings leaves a trail of blue fire.

Truly befits a noble magic swordsman.

「 Yes. You deserve a far better sword than that “bastard” sword. Given more time, I would’ve commissioned the finest sword from one of the best Reinhardt blacksmiths, but this sword will do just fine for you. 」

Sword symbolizes one’s authority. A noble’s weapon. An expansive and versatile weapon that sets them apart from the commoner’s weapon, the spear.

The sword doesn’t have the Reinhardt emblem anymore thankfully, but this is still a serious matter.

For Elras giving me his sword is the same as him giving me his core identity and a bestowment of deep respect.

「 But this is your personal sword, Elras… I can’t take it… You won’t have a sword anymore then. 」

「 If there’s one thing that you should’ve learned other than that《School of Wits Magic》of yours, it should’ve been the noble society. The Reinhardt family prides itself with its legendary weapon. It was made by Reinhardt’s first founding father. Reinhardt broadsword. Layered almost entirely in manaritium. Unbreakable and Supreme. Revered to only the successor of the Reinhardt family. And I will receive the honor to call it my own soon. 」

「 W-wait… does that mean?! 」

「 Yes. 」Elras smiles visibly becoming wider,「 The next time we meet, you will have to call me, the Marquis of Reinhardt. 」

「 I… I don’t know what to say… Congratulations! And… and thank you for the gift… 」

He turns to the ocean, an unusual melancholic air engulfing him.「 So this is it, huh? Where we’ll part ways. 」

I want to respond to him, but before I can figure out what to say, his face contorts into a cocky grin.「 Hopefully you won’t be a virgin the next time we meet up. Heard those Canids have mating heat cycles. 」

He pats me on the back, then makes way for Aaron who holds a box of his own and is currently shaking his head at Elras’ comment.

「 I also have a farewell gift, my dear friend. I hope you receive it well, as I’m sure you will need this more than I in your adventure. 」

Inside the mahogany box, is a heavily decorated potion, with the very distinctive enneagram stars that symbolizes the Goddess Maria religion at the cap of the potion. Inside the clear glass, is a very bright red liquid, it might even very well be almost pink with how bright it is.

Red means it’s a vitality potion, but I’ve never seen this kind of red before.

「 Aren’t you also being too generous, Aaron? 」Elras taunts, letting out a presumptuous grin,「 giving him the《Elixir of Life》a legendary vitality potion. Rumored to be ten times more effective than a normal potion and can cure almost any disease. Reserved for the pious priest who devoutly follows the Goddess Maria words. 」

「 Forgive my prudence, Elras, but for once you could’ve just shut your lips. 」Aaron says sternly,「  Look at him. Now he will be burdened to receive my meager farewell gift. 」

What’s up with them? Why are they all showering me with extravagant and priced items? We are friends, but nonetheless it’s not something so significant. A friendship forged only by circumstances and coincidence.

「 Does this mean you’ve officially become a priest? 」I ask, hoping to slightly convert the conversation.

「 Yes, I’ve officially become a priest, the devout follower of Goddess Maria. This potion will be in better use for you in travelling in unknown areas than a priest who would be stuck in the cathedral headquarters for what is most likely for my entire lifetime. 」

「 I know… But still- 」

「 Ahem… 」Aston draws our attention. Stopping our conversation.

「 I’m sorry to disturb the gentleman’s talk, but my ship is ready to go and is waiting for Sir Renald Alderhide to go onboard. And I’m also sorry to say but I can’t delay much longer. As you know for merchants time is money and time is at the essence. 」

Aston politely adds, a tinge of suppressed hurriness is noticeable from his tone, however.

「 Well? What are you waiting for? Take my gift as well. You can’t delay much longer. If you feel burdened make sure to bring back exotic gifts from there. I heard their herbs are potent and teas a delicacy. 」

Feeling cornered from both sides, I reluctantly accept Aaron’s gift as well. While making a mental note to bring back gifts to both Aaron and Elras. As being in debt too much is rather a bad thing.

「 Elras. Aaron. 」I look at them,「 Thank you… All of you. For the useful gifts. I will treat it well and I hope that we will meet again one day. 」

「 You’re a genius, so don’t let random idiots step on you! 」

「 Return back safely, my dear friend. With honor and glory. 」

As the sailors around us turn busy to prepare for departure, the two take a few steps back to avoid being in the way and I climb the ramp that leads up to deck. When I turn around, they’re already gone from the pier.

And the ship sets sail, to Kasanra.

 

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