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My fingers traced gently over a scar on Hector’s chest. “How did you get this one?”
Hector looked down at chuckled. “I wish this scar showed my bravery, but I’m afraid it was given by a former lover.”
I chuckled. “A former lover? You’re going to make a girl feel the need to carve her own scars into your body. Why, I’ve barely made a mark.”
“I think my back would have to disagree with you.” Hector snorted, squeezing my shoulder and leaning down to kiss the top of my head. “Why couldn’t I have met you when I was a hundred years younger.”
“If you were one hundred years younger, then I’m not sure you could properly satisfy me…” I responded mischievously. “Like that thing that you do with your tongue…”
It had been three days since the meeting that separated me from my slave color. After being brought into Hector’s home, I had made myself a home in his bedroom. Regrettably, I was being watched at all times, and I had yet to make contact with my goblin forces outside of town. As for how the talks were going, I wasn’t privy to such information.
“I’m sorry…” Hector sighed, sitting up. “I must go.”
“Don’t leave…” I purred, gently pushing my chest against his arm and kissing his shoulder. “I’m not done with you yet.”
“I have the distinct feeling you’re only done with a man when there is nothing left of him but a husk…”
“Only three days, and you know me so well.” I chuckled.
Hector joined me, letting out a few laughs as he kissed the fingers of my hand. Then, he let out a regretful moan and went to put on his clothing. I gave a pouting look, but I had no intention of keeping him. Hector had his own problems. He was the leader of the elf tribe. He was somber man, long-lived, with a deep sadness in his past I hadn’t dared to touch on after only knowing him for three days. I comforted him in the bedroom, but neither of us took this as any kind of lasting relationship.
After watching him dress, and enjoying the fine physique of an older elf gentleman, I also began to put on my clothing. The dresses I had acquired as a slave were still in the demon camp. Thus, all of my new clothing was leaned by the elvish. This clothing was similar to what Min used to make me, and it felt a bit reminiscent of that. It was made of a very light, floaty material that wrapped snuggly on the skin. At the very least, I could see where her influences had come from when she made her outfits. It felt good to be in these kinds of clothes once again.
Hector had left before I finished up. That was the way of things. He had work to do while my job seemed to be to stay out of the way of everyone else. Well, that was just fine with me. I had my own path and desires. Heading out of the tent, I let out a little sigh. It was just a shame that I couldn’t follow through with my desires. I was being watched by the elf guard. Being about to avoid them was near impossible. Even if I had a mind to use my abilities, Rock A Bye required that I at least see my target. Releasing Pheromones are putting them into a frenzy also seemed like it would cause more trouble than it helped.
What I needed more than anything was a boss monster. I needed someone with intelligence who could command my army when I was unavailable. If I could successfully manage to control a boss, then I was certain I could protect myself properly. I grew more and more excited over the idea of being a monster tamer. Up until now, I spent so much time trying to manipulate humans and demihumans. However, people were too unpredictable. The scene of a certain Kappa bashing his head into a tree came to mind. Yet, the most successful my skills had ever been were when I was using them on those wolves. This was the path to living a free life.
As I dwelled on these concepts, I heard the grunts of men exerting themselves and the sounds of swords clanging together. Instantly, my interest was piqued and I followed the noises to a clearing. Baron, the man who had escorted me a few days prior, was using a sword against another man. Something seemed a bit familiar about the way he moved. A flash of Min fighting seemed to come to mind. As much as she ran from the elvish tribe, her ways truly were elvish, weren’t they?
Their swords flashed left and right. Baron was incredibly fast, and if I had still been a first-classer, I might not have been able to follow all of those movements with my eyes. In fact, had I not been training carefully under Fanreek, I might have been at a complete loss. The young man fighting against Baron seemed to have noticed me out of the corner of his eye. He shot me a grin and smiled politely back. Then, he made a shout, swinging his sword down high. It was a feint, and he went into a flourish, spinning his sword around and swiping it toward Baron’s legs.
Baron was faster, and with his eyes only on his opponent, he managed to parry the sword block, pushing his shoulder into an upswing. This unbalanced the other man, who fell back a few steps and let out a cry. Baron didn’t let up though, charging forward as he stabbed out with his sword. It took everything in the other man’s power to bring his own sword down and block it. The cost was that his sword was flung away, and he stumbled back before falling on his butt. Showing no mercy, Baron followed him and brought the sword to his neck, definitively ending the match.
“Perhaps if you spent as much time practicing your forms as you do grinning at girls, you’d have lived another day. Dead men can’t ogle women.” Baron spoke flatly.
The other man’s face turned red, shooting me an embarrassed look.
“Don’t look at me,” I shrugged. “You shouldn’t have dropped your sword. That was the mistake that cost you.”
The guy’s mouth fell open, while Baron glanced over and raised an eyebrow. “Oh? And what would you have done in that situation?”
“I’d have let you stab me,” I explained. “You were aiming for a nonvital area. Once I had your blade inside me, I could have stabbed you in the back. You wouldn’t have survived.”
“G-get stabbed!” The other elf cried out, his eyes widening. “That’s crazy!”
“That might have worked in this situation,” Baron admitted. “But the only reason I was aiming for nonvitals was because he is a kinsman in my tribe, and then was a simple spar. In a real fight, I would have not been so lenient.
The other elf looked down, realizing how much more advanced Baron was than him.
“That’s your problem. You chose to not commit, and thus leave a weakness. Just like I would have chosen to exploit it. Besides, who’s to say with his life on the line, if this soldier would have chosen to show off in the first place. It’s impossible to consider what would have happened. Rather, we should focus on what choice we will make next time.”
Baron gave an approving look, and then glance down at the guard, still a little dazed over the conversation the two were having. “You… keep that in mind. Go, clean off!”
With that order, the man stood at attention and then left the clearing. He didn’t shoot me another look. It was a shame; he was a bit cute. Perhaps I came on a little too strong.
“Why have you come?” Baron asked when the other man left.
The civility he was wearing before seemed to melt away now that he had me by myself. I frowned and crossed my arm. This man was very bipolar, and it was getting a bit on my nerves.
“I’d like to go on a hunt,” I responded simply.
Baron blinked, clearly not expecting me to ask for something such as that. “A hunt? Like for food?”
“No.” I gave him a wry look. “I want to kill monsters. I used to train every day in the demon camp. I’ve been getting rusty.”
“So, you are learning the sword,” Baron responded, scratching his chin. “I thought you might have just gotten lucky earlier.”
I sniffed, “I know a thing or two about fighting.
“Very well… if you want… there is a mission some of the younger men are undertaking.”
Baron sighed. “It’s a dangerous one. It hasn’t even been officially sanctioned by the elf tribe. However, if you want to involved, I can put your name on the roster.”
“Whatever it is, I can handle it!” I reassured him.
“Hector wouldn’t approve…”
I sniffed. “I’m not Hector’s slavegirl. You elves have already been restricting my freedom more than I would like, considering I am supposed to be a free woman now.”
Baron shook his head. “Very well… no one can blame me for not giving you ample warning.”
“What is this mission, after all?” All of his talk was starting to make me worry just a bit.
The nearby Nyphum labyrinth has been left here to satisfy the adventurer’s and help provide support for this village. However, it is a constant burden on the tribe having to watch after it and babysit the adventurers. Some of our numbers believe that a certain course of action would be best when it comes to the labyrinth.”
“What is that?” I asked.
“To destroy it completely.”
I gasped. “Destroy the labyrinth? Won’t that piss a lot of people off?”
Baron shrugged. “It won’t do the peace talk any favors, but it will lighten the load on the elves. Unlike some labyrinths, there is no national decree that protects this labyrinth. Besides, no one has ever managed to make it to the boss level and survive. So, if someone did succeed, no one could blame them for eliminating an unknown dungeon core, especially if it is a hostile one. So, will you-”
“Yes…” I immediately said, my eyes flashing excitedly.
A solution came so easily to my problem. I needed a leader for my army. I needed a boss. Somewhere, at the bottom of that labyrinth was the perfect one for me. My followers wouldn’t be able to follow me to the bottom of a labyrinth, would they? Well, either way, it was the only solution I could find. I could go with these foolhardy elves. If they didn’t all die on the way down, then perhaps I would separate from them myself. With my abilities, I didn’t fear monsters like other men. I had full confidence I could reach the bottom of that labyrinth and seduce the monster boss lying at the bottom.
As for Baron, I was pretty certain by the look of his eye that he expected all of the men to die in this journey. Since he was willing to send me on it too, that meant he was trying to kill me. I gave Baron a grin while he continued to watch me cautiously. I would have my freedom, whatever the cost.