When Aizen woke up, he found himself pressed under a familiar weight. Liafina was lying on top of him with her head nestled on his heart. He lightly stroked her head and did not disturb her sleep.
“She stayed up all night, and only fell asleep after I came here.”
He turned to the voice and saw Viara sitting by his side with her back resting against the headboard. Her eyes were locked on him, and her lips were curved in a gentle smile. Before he could pull her to him, she had already leaned in and captured his lips.
She lightly sipped them and playfully bit his lower lip.
“Good Morning!” She sweetly said.
Aizen took in a deep breath of her aroma and exhaled softly.
“Good Morning, Love.”
She blushed at his call and then got off the bed.
“Let her sleep some more. I will go and order breakfast.”
She left the room with those words.
Aizen couldn’t describe how happy he felt at the prospect of finally getting to eat something. He was worried about the rest of them as well. They hadn’t eaten anything for more than a day and had slept through the night on empty stomachs. He felt guilty as he could only blame himself for that.
He could not bring himself to move and break the sleep of his little Shadow. He loved watching the peaceful expression on her face. Time passed by, and he finally decided to close his eyes and focus on his combat style. He could practice in his mindscape without getting tired, and it also helped him see some flaws and correct them. He was fine in his hand to hand combat and could protect himself if needed, but without weapons in his hands, he couldn’t be considered dangerous.
An hour passed by, which felt like a day in his mindscape. He wasn’t tired, and the mental load wasn’t heavy. He could practice for an entire day in his mindscape, without pushing his mind to the limits, but that would only be a waste. Without actual combat experience and memories, it was useless to practice in his mindscape. He wouldn’t even know where his faults lied if he didn’t face an opponent.
He raised his right hand and decided to play with his Elements. His hand shimmered with Violet lightning, and his thoughts made him remember a certain person. A small cage of lightning formed around his hand as it relentlessly rained on it. He had already stopped the flow of air in Liafina’s ears, so he wasn’t worried about her waking up to the crackling sound of this rain. Inside the cage, he formed a lady with his light element. Her hands were drawn to her sides, and her head was looking up to the sky. It was as if she was guiding this storm of lightning or perhaps she was the storm. But something still felt off.
“Purple.” He lightly whispered. Yes, the color was different. It was a difference of only a shade, but it just couldn’t make up for what he had in mind. The raging purple lighting in his memories was just too beautiful.
He waved his hand, and the scape vanished like it never existed. The black flame covered his hand ever so gently, its flare ever so silent. It didn’t even burn as it was neither hot nor cold. It was just darkness that had taken the form of a flame, and even the air around it avoided it. He formed his shade with the light element on his palm. He watched himself surrounded by the flame that tried to engulf him at first but then danced around him peacefully.
“It’s beautiful.” A sweet voice softly called out and all the thoughts that were running in his mind were put to rest.
Aizen planted a kiss on her light blonde head and squeezed her gently. He formed her shade as well. And together the two shades stood holding each other’s hand inside the dancing black flames.
“Not so beautiful without you.” He softly whispered.
Liafina’s eyes were locked on those two forms. She felt an inexplicable feeling in her heart when he had formed her shade as well. His lonely shade now had her to accompany him midst of all that flame. She kept marveling at the contrast the black flame and violet light provided. It was beautiful. Her heart sped faster, and her cheeks warmed up when she saw the two shades kissing each other and then bind together in their intimate indulgence. She shoved his hand away, and the scape vanished. Her ears caught his heartfelt laugh, and she just closed her eyes.
When they both arrived in the lounge, the three ladies were discussing some things. Well, it was just Lysaria and Viara discussing, and Yuliya was just listening. Viara saw them coming and smiled brightly.
“Oh, you came at the right time. Come let’s have our breakfast.” She said and got up from her seat.
Aizen looked curiously at the ladies and found that all of them had something on their mind. They all sat down on the dining table and started with their meal.
“What’s on your mind?” Aizen couldn’t help up but ask.
“You promised to take us shopping. I hope you haven’t forgotten that.” Viara said and smiled brightly.
“Of course, I haven’t forgotten that.” Aizen couldn’t help but frown. Did they like to shop so much? He asked himself.
“Well, I asked Melia to provide us with all the information regarding the snowfield city and everything that is sold here,” Viara said and continued. “There are a lot of Jewelry Shops, but regretfully right now there’s nothing as special as the one you bought Lysaria.”
She didn’t linger on it for long. “But there’s a wide variety of Clothes sold here, and we have decided on visiting some shops. The Auction houses here daily auction off different Metals that could be forged in weapons or can be used to make armors and also blend in with the Battlesuits.”
“We plan on getting some if possible.” Lysaria nodded to her words.
“Other than these there is the famous Snowfield Ale. It is only sold in the Snowfield city.” She added.
“And we got news about something from Melia,” Viara said and paused. Aizen could see that all three of them were now looking at him with anticipation in their eyes.
“Some Direwolf puppies were found by someone of Azereus Clan, and they are going to be auctioned tonight!” Viara announced happily.
“Direwolves?” Aizen was surprised. They were one of the most dangerous beasts and were wild. They were known as the beasts that could not be easily domesticated. They were prideful creatures, but it was not a problem for them.
“Yes! Can we have them, please?” Viara asked in anticipation. It was all clear on their faces that they all wanted them.
Aizen looked at Liafina and saw the same anticipation in her eyes. Well, Direwolves were beautiful creatures, so it was understandable why they all were so excited.
“Of course” Aizen nodded and received an excited response. However, his thoughts were on why Azereus would auction Direwolves. Azereus were Monster Blood and Wolfkin. For them to tame Direwolves was not difficult. And the strength those Direwolves would bring their clan was significant.
He didn’t bother with these thoughts for long. Auction meant that he only needed to spend money and he was fine with any price he could get those beasts for. Whatever Azereus were up to, didn’t matter to him.
They had left for shopping right after breakfast. Moonlight Inn had provided them with a Wagon that was quite spacious, and they didn’t need to be seen by people on the streets. It wasn’t a concrete safety measure but still counted for something.
The girls shopped enthusiastically, and even Yuliya who was keeping to herself didn’t shy when it came to buying clothes. It could be said that pretty clothes are a weakness of all girls. They were all very pretty confident in their choices, and Yuliya never asked for his opinion. Lysaria and Viara seldom did, but Liafina would always just leave the choice to him. She would select some set of dresses and gesture him to choose from them. She would occasionally put in some shabby ones as well, so he would seriously think when making his choice. He was not sure if she was deliberately acting like a child or if she was treating him as a child. However, he didn’t feel annoyed but liked it and enjoyed himself.
When they were finally done with the clothes, it was early afternoon. They decided to have lunch at a restaurant to settle their appetite. It had risen after some tiresome time spent on choosing so many dresses. During lunch, they discussed where they would go next. They decided to go to Auction Markets. This was the street in the Snowfield city were most of the Auction houses were.
Their goal was to acquire some good metals that could be used to customize their battle suits. It was not easy to find a valuable metal to forge weapons or armors. Star Palace’s armory was full of precious armors and weapons, so they weren’t looking for them. All they wanted, were some metals to plate their battlesuits.
They spend quite some time on the Auctions, but nothing caught their interest. It was not until late evening when they finally found a few pieces of Ardinum, which was one of the most desired metals for plating Battle Suits. It was flexible enough to not restrain your movements and sturdy enough to provide sufficient safety. The few pieces that they won were enough to plate 3 battlesuits. They were satisfied. Ardinum was quite rare, and it was not every day that you found it up for auction.
After that, they headed for the Liquor Houses. They all tasted the Snowfield Ale, and couldn’t help but admit that it was chillingly delicious. The quantity they ended up buying was sufficient to last for a year.
There was still an hour before the Direwolves were to be put on Auction. They decided to head to the Auction house earlier. The girls were worried that they would miss on the seats and the chance to acquire those puppies. Aizen remembered that if he ever needed to contain a situation in the future, all he would need to do was get some pretty puppies for them.
To his surprise, the girls had proven right. Azereus Auction House was already packed full, and there were no seats left in the Hall. Thankfully, there were still cabins on the Gallery which were not yet occupied. He paid a hefty charge of 10 purple gems just for a cabin. He was not stingy, but he felt that 10 purple gems were too much.
The cabin, however, took his dissatisfaction away. It was quite spacious, and no one else could see them from here. The Auction platform was visible on the large screen in their cabin, and all they had to do was mention the sum on their virtual pad and their bid would be put on. There was also the list of the things that were still to be auctioned tonight, with their order of being presented. This list was not available to anyone in the hall below and was the privilege of people occupying these cabins.
They all went through the list and saw that Direwolves were not the most prized object. There was an entire mine of Cold Stone up for auction. The cold stone was used in constructing buildings as well as furniture. It was quite valuable, and the price for it was not going to be cheap. They had no interest in the mine as they didn’t run a construction or creation business nor did they intend on buying it just to sell it for more price in the future. There were also a few pieces of Jewelry, but after going through the pictures, none of them settled on anything.
The auction went on and the turn for the Direwolves finally arrived. The host on the Platform announced it as the second most precious thing on Auction tonight, but to Aizen and the rest, they were the most precious thing.
A large caged basket was brought to the platform that contained the litter of four Direwolf puppies. All of them had white coats with a Black kite-shaped mark on their heads. They were no older than a couple of weeks, and the girls felt bitter in their hearts. For them to be here meant that their parents had either been killed or were still grieving their loss.
The host soon announced the starting bid and it was set on 500 Purple gems. This amount was modest for a starting price for four puppies. The price could only be increased by adding at least 100 purple gems on each call.
Just in a blink of an eye, the price had reached 2200 purple gems. The competition for the puppies soon only remained between the people in the cabins. Aizen had not bid as he only observed for now.
Later the competition thinned down to only three people after it hit 6300 purple gems.
When the person with the last bid of 7800 purple gems didn’t receive the call from the competing groups, the host went on for the count. It was then that Aizen made his bid.
The screen showed to the host, and he stopped the count. He gestured towards Aizen’s cabin and announced the new bid to the Hall.
No one replied to his bid, and the host went to the count again and announced him the winner.
A few minutes later a knock was heard on the door, and the basket of puppies was brought in their cabin.
Aizen paid 10 Black Gems and received the key of the cage. The manager then left after congratulating them.
They had stayed in the cabin as the girls opened the cage and took the puppies in their laps. Aizen’s eyes were concentrated on the screen as he saw the bid for the mine rise. It was finally sold off to someone for 25000 purple gems. That was 25 Black Gems.
The auction came to an end, and after waiting for the people in the Hall to leave first, they moved out of the Auction House and arrived back at the Inn in their wagon. Aizen tipped the coachman and led the girls in.
“I will come upstairs after dealing with something. You go ahead.” He told the girls and headed to the reception.
None of them listened to what he had said and stayed there to wait for him. He just shook his head and palely smiled.
“What can I do for you, Lord Aizen?” Melia politely asked when she saw him arrive.
“I need all the information you can gather up concerning the financial activities of Azereus Clan as well as any other information that I might find interesting.” He told her in a serious tone.
“How soon do you need this Information?” She nodded at him and asked.
“Take your time, but do not delay it past tomorrow night,” Aizen said to her and walked back to the girls.
“I have just asked her to gather some information on Azereus Clan.” He answered Viara’s concerned look.
She nodded to him and followed him to their suite.
The puppies had been sedated and were still asleep. After they had their dinner, they lied down the puppies on the couch, and Liafina used her life magic to wear off the sedatives. The four of them woke up and nestled together as they observed the people surrounding them. They didn’t make a noise like Aizen had feared and also seemed quite smart.
It was the first time for all of them to watch Liafina converse with the beasts. Soon the puppies were lunging to get a place in her lap. Girls had then gathered around her as they found themselves fascinated by her ability, and bombarded her with their excited questions. She seemed to be in a good mood today as she stroked the coats of the puppies and also replied to them in few words rather than nodding or shaking her head.
He could only watch as they all busied themselves with the little puppies and even forgot that he was present there as well. Even his shadow was paying no attention to him, but he felt quite happy and satisfied as he watched them laugh and smile. He quietly left the lounge and went to his room. He soon drifted off to sleep after wondering if the future will be the same as this day.
♛ Author’s Note:
Well… Everyone needs the calm before the storm!
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