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  • #91
    Chapter 77: Isekai Life & Quiet Moment

    When I awoke, it was by bright red rays of dawn sunlight angling into the treasure room from an arrow slit. It just so happened, my face was lying directly in the path of the beam. I shielded myself with my hands as I blinked the sleep from my eyes, and rolled over to face the darker half of the room. Awareness gradually came back to me, and I realized I could hear the soft sounds of snoring. Raszil was still sitting in place across from me, now with his chin resting on his chest as he slept.

    I also noticed that someone had thoughtfully dropped off our packs just inside the doorway. As quietly as I could, I scrambled across the floor and carefully withdrew my spellbook. If I wasn't dead, and it was dawn, that meant we had all survived the first night of the siege, and if I was to be any use going forward I'd have to memorize a new host of spells. And with seventy minutes' worth of spell memorization ahead of me, there was no time to waste.

    I mainly kept to what were quickly becoming my “classics”, spells that would let me control the battlefield or deliver lots of damage. Magic Missile in case I needed to damage a worg without hurting my allies, also Knock because one spell slot per level was exclusively for my school, so I had no choice in that regard.

    As I studied, my thoughts drifted to what Raszil had said the night previous, about me not knowing what my followers really wanted... and to Calliope's spellbook. Once I had my spells for the day memorized, I lifted the more slender tome gently out of my pack, and flipped through until the beginning of the ESP spell. Would it be okay, to go around sensing the thoughts of my own followers, as a way to better lead them? Could I manage to keep my knowledge of that spell secret, if I did? I didn't have pen and ink ready at the moment, but with a bit of privacy it'd be easy to transcribe the spell and just never mention it.

    I slipped both books away. The issue would have to wait, for now. We were in a siege, and there wouldn't be any point to worrying about this if we all died horribly.

    In the time that I was concentrating on spellbooks, Raszil had slipped out, probably to do his own prayers and ask for his spells the day. Hopefully, healing spells- we needed them, badly, with Voss, Yua, and Raszil himself almost out of action. But even before we allocated our small amount of magical healing, I needed to know what the situation was, so I headed downstairs to figure out what the situation was.

    Now that they were no longer boxed up in the one room, it seems that the former slaves of the goblins were taking the time to enjoy stretching their legs- Not only were there packs of farmers murmuring quietly to one another hanging out in the hall when I left the treasure room, the stairs were busy with people going up, down, or even just sitting on the steps.

    I almost tripped over one of the latter, an old woman helping herself to some kind of soup or stew, and had to dance quickly down a few steps to keep my balance. Behind me, I heard the old woman given a throaty chuckle. “Didn't know you were the acrobatic type, boy.”

    “I'm not,” I replied, turning to face Moruca. “You know it's dangerous to get in people's way when they're climbing stairs.”

    Although it occurred to me that, as a bunch of country folk, these people weren't particularly practised in stairway etiquette.

    The old woman grunted at me in turn, having another spoonful of soup. “These slaves have been eating better'n we have. I would die if I had to have another slice of sawdust bread.”

    “I don't know if many of them would agree with you,” I replied, thinking of the mystery meat that was in the kitchen yesterday.

    The old woman shrugged. “Being driven to rat once in your lifetime is good for you. Builds character. Makes you appreciate what hunger really feels like.”

    I sighed. “Yeah, I guess so. Sorry I didn't check on you before I fell asleep last night.”

    Moruca chuckled. “Somehow I've made it over sixty years without being tucked in by you, pretty sure I don't need it.”

    “Fair enough. Do you know if the goblins attacked last night?”

    “Aye,” she replied, around another mouthful of stew, “They charged us a couple times, but couldn't get ''round the barricade. Managed to spear a half-dozen or so through the murder holes. Got a few more when they retreated, but we had no light to see by when they retreated.”

    “Retreated?” I asked, “You mean, back downstairs?”

    The old woman shook her head. “In wee hours, there was a baying of wolves from the tree line. Their raiders comin' back, and somehow they figgered out what was going on in here. So they set their wolf buddies to howling, and all the goblins came streaming out of the tower. Those of us on guard at the battlements chucked some rocks and boiling water down on 'em. Only about twenty or so bodies left out in the mornin'.”

    I rubbed my chin, and then had to dodge a cluster of laughing children going running down the stairs. “Where did they go?”

    “Coins to cabbages that they're waiting inside the treeline, making ready to push on us tonight,” Moruca replied, toying with her spoon idly. “Find out real fast if we go huntin'.”

    “We're not in a great position to sortie, while our best fighters almost on their knees,” I said thoughtfully, “We need to conserve our strength.”

    “Aye, that tall dark elf-man Haseth told me your plan,” Moruca replied, “It's a good plan. Needs more dead goblins, though. Not sure about running off just because their wolves are dead.”

    “Well, ideally, I'd like to nail the chieftain, too.”

    The old woman chuckled again. “Nail him. I like that word. Nail him to the side of the tower and let the wind and rain and hunger do for him.”

    “Uh, yeah, I guess,” I replied, suddenly uncomfortable. “I'm, uh, going to check on the others.”

    I backed carefully away from Moruca and heading down the stairs still further, while the old woman chuckled at my sudden departure. “Hope you can get be some nails, Theodore, some good long ones!” she teased as I fled.

    By then my stomach realized exactly what time it was. I slipped through the bent bars into the kitchen area, and got in queue for the vegetable stew that some of the ex-slaves were handing out. Once I had the hot bowl steaming in my hand, feeling a little like being in high school all over again, I glanced around for someone to sit with. I spotted Nievan and a few of the Ravenswatch sitting with Princess Kythaela at the far end of the room, and headed over there.

    “Ah, Sir Theodore,” Nievan said with a nod as I sat cross-legged across from the princess, “We were just discussing you and your, ah....”

    “Team,” I suggested, with a shrug, “Team is fine. Only good things I hope?”

    “Actually, Her Grace was concerned about the level of disorganization among the former human slaves,” said one of the other Ravenwatch...men? “This is a tactical and logistical liability.”

    “Yeah, you're right,” I replied between sips of the stew- it was a thin but salty, earthy mushroom broth, but it hit the spot just fine. “I'll talk to that old guy, Boss Gull. We should be prepared to leave as soon as possible once we have our opening, anyway, and these farmers wandering around doing whatever will be a problem when the goblins attack.”

    A sudden thought occurred to me. “You said two of your Ravenwatch could use magic, correct?” I mentioned, “Do either of the know how that spell... I don't know it's name in Elven, but it creates the magical bolt that will always hit it's target?”

    It was subtle, but Nievan's eyes darted in the direct of the princess for a moment before he replied. “Yes, most of our mages know that spell. I believe they may even had prepared it today. Why do you ask?”

    “The goblin leader may be wise enough to actually besiege us than attempt an assault,” I explained, “So if that's the case, we may need to cut off the head, and then let one of their lieutenants make the stupid mistake-”

    “Excuse me,” Princess Kythaela said suddenly, rising to her feet and striding off to one of the side rooms. Silently the two Ravenwatch other than Nievan rose and followed her obediently.

    The two of us remaining had a long, awkward pause. Then, Neivan spoke, “Please forgive Her Grace, her time after being captured has been difficult on her.”

    “Of course,” I replied, a little bewildered, “Can I ask what happened? I'm still a little foggy on the details of how you all came to be here.”

    It was Nievan's turn to frown. “It's a long story... are you sure that you can time?”

    “We're under siege, aren't we?” I shrugged, “Besides, the details might be important.”

    Nievan took a deep breath, steeling himself to share the tale.

    “His Grace the Mist King and the royal court learned of what was happening in what humans called the Lakelands some weeks ago,” he began, “That, well, it was only two back then, but two human villages had vanished. Most of the Mist King's ministers, as well as Prince Alwyn, His Grace's heir, argued that human problems were no real concern of ours, that we should look the other way. The minority of the court argued for some kind of investigation, or intervention, but they were supported by Princess Kythaela and the middle child, Prince Falaen. In the end, His Grace sided with the non-interventionists, and let it be.

    “Then, we received word about the third village. The Princess was so incensed by her father's lack of action while people suffered, she ordered her bodyguards to accompany her while she did something about it.”

    “That's you guys? The Ravenwatch?” I asked.

    “The Ravenwatch serves the entire royal family,” Nievan explained, “We are the guardians of the entire royal family, but Sir Haseth and the rest of us here are from the unit that was assigned to protect Princess Kythaela. There were twenty of us, but now... well, we are sworn to protect Princess Kythaela, and Princess Kythaela was going to help the humans. So, too, must we go.

    “With the amount of ground we were able to cover with our griffon mounts, we were able to identify the goblin threat and track down their source to this tower easily. We then made a plan- fly up under cover of darkness, to hide the griffons from their sentries, land two at a time on the roof, and then fight through the tower.”

    I nodded. Maybe against normal enemies that would be a smart plan, but goblins were nocturnal and could see fine in the dark. They were also pitting twenty elves against hundreds of goblins, dozens of warg, the bugbears, and everything. We had the advantage of slowly whittling away goblin raiding parties for days, this assault Nievan described did not.

    “Once they realized what was happening, the goblins and their allies came against us, hard. We were badly outnumbered. We would fight to the bitter end- we weren't stupid- but many of us were overwhelmed by charging goblins or brought to the brink of death and then healed by their shaman. Those of us who didn't die or escape, were trapped here. Don't misunderstand me, we fought well, extremely well, but the entire situation was a mistake.

    “I and the other members of the Ravenwatch will help you to get get these humans away from here, to exterminate the goblins, and to rescue Her Grace the princess. You saved us from the very brink of despair, so we owe you that much.”

    I nodded. “Sorry if this brought up any bad memories.”

    The elf sighed. “Worry not. I hope knowing all the relevant details helps you. If you'll excuse me, I should check in on my charge. Please take the time to speak to Boss Gull and make your preparations for tonight. It seems like we have all day, but trust me when I say that there just never seems to be quite enough time to go around.”

    ---------------------------

    Character Name: Theodore Esche
    Race: Human
    Class: Transmuter
    Level (XP): 3 (7783/10000)
    Hit Points: 7/7

    Ability Scores
    Strength 11
    Dexterity 17
    Constitution 8
    Intelligence 17
    Wisdom 13
    Charisma 14

    Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
    Nonweapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

    Spells Per Day:
    1st Level- 3
    2nd Level- 2

    Spellbook:
    (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
    (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

    Spells Prepared:
    (1st Level): Burning Hands, Magic Missile, Sleep
    (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

    Equipment: Belt, Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots, Darts (23), Robes, Dagger, 5 Unidentified Gems, Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Pearl (worth 100gp), Rations (10 meals), Robes (2), Signet Ring, Wedding Ring, Small Tent, Oil of Acid Resistance, mint green potion, Potion of Rainbow Hues

    Money: 320 gp, 791 sp, 7 cp

    Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

    Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Moruca (Level 3 Ranger), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Yua (Level 3 Paladin)

    Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler)

    Sexual Partners: 5

    Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
    Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
    Currently Working On: Banter and chats
    Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

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    • #92
      Chapter 78: Isekai Life & Battle of the Tower

      They came for us that night.

      I was up and waiting for them. It had taken all afternoon to get the farmers organized into something resembling readiness- which ones were going to be part of the defence, which ones were in charge of cataloguing our food reserves and get as much of it packed and ready to go as possible, and which ones were to be in charge of wrangling the children during the battle. Everyone had an opinion about how things should be handled, and weren't afraid to share them whenever I stopped to take a breath.

      I was standing guard on the battlements with Loudo and Elcair, the two fighter/mages in the Ravenwatch, as well as Moruca and Voss. Yua, Raszil, Haseth, Nievan and the majority of the Ravenwatch were on the landing inside the tower, prepared for the goblin's assault up the stairs. Princess Kythaela was... somewhere. Given the way that the Ravenwatch sorted their priorities, I wouldn't be surprised to find out they had a backup defensive position somewhere with a couple extra guards. I didn't try and figure it out because I had other things to occupy me.

      I was probably close to midnight- hard to tell, without sun or, well, clocks- when the goblins emerged from the trees, forming a loose semi-circle around the tower. For the past hour or two, we had heard someone yelling in the woods, as if giving some kind of speech. The chieftain was rousing up his forces, convincing them to come out in a show of force. And they did- hundreds of them, far more than we knew he had warriors. He had all the “civilian” goblins out as well, just to intimidate us.

      I had word passed around that afternoon that something like this would be bound to happen. We had the strategic advantage, but they had numbers, so they'd probably try to come out in force to try and break our morale. Hopefully, knowing the trick would help protect some of the farmers from it.

      One of the goblins mounted on a warg rode forward, ahead of the larger swarm. He was the only one to get within bowshot, but when Moruca drew back her bowstring, I motioned at her to wait.

      The goblin chieftain wasn't the only one capable of manipulating enemy morale, after all.

      “The Mighty Chieftain Warq,” it called out in a rasping voice, speaking common, “Has decided to grant you mercy, in exchange for our tower. Throw down your weapons and leave, and we will not hurt you.”

      Moruca chuckled. “Liar. He think we'll walk unarmed into a crowd of goblins?” she muttered.

      I motioned with my hand and chanted. Two darts of pure magical energy flew from my hand, arcing down and slamming into the goblin, blasting him off his mount. It was not the most efficient use of that spell- I had wanted to snipe out the chieftain- but for the chieftain to get close enough, they needed to be angry enough to assault the tower. So, killing his herald in a big, flashy way was necessary.

      The effect was immediate. The goblin horde immediately began howling for blood, and surging forward towards the tower. Behind their lines, I could see the wargs running back and forth like sheepdogs, herding the horde forward. I grimaced. Part of my hope was that the wargs would be on the front lines of the attack, but, no, it looks like the chieftain was canny enough to use his greatest advantage- his numbers.

      I'd have to be careful fighting this guy.

      Moruca and the two Ravenwatch elves started letting loose, hardly able to miss for her target rich environment. When the goblins got close enough, me and the handful of other farmers there started heaving down chunks of rubble at them. Not the most effective weapons, but we had a lot of nice, heavy rocks to toss down at them, and even just damaging a goblin and making it easier for the other defenders was good enough.

      But there were a lot of goblins. Below us, the crude ramp of piled stone swarmed with black shapes, bottle-necked at the entrance to the tower. That's when I gave the signal, and four burly farmer upended a steaming pot of boiling seawater down onto the swarm. The screams that followed were chilling, but they were out for blood.

      Inside, I knew, the first goblins would be encountering our next line of defence, a series of simple rope traps intended to trip them on their way up the stairs. Peevish and maybe a little juvenile, but every little bit to break their moment, and possibly even cause damage, helped.

      Shortly after that, I could see Moruca and the elves raise their bows, aiming a little higher with their arrows. The wargs, our primary target, were finally close enough for them to shoot. I saw one of the huge grey wolves go down at the edges of the crowd. Maybe we would have a chance to kill enough of their leaders that the goblins would break and run.

      My life became simple. Grab a hefty bit of rubble, raise my arm, and launch into the crowd of goblins. Over and over, lift, aim, launch, lift, aim, launch. It didn't take long before my arm began to ache. The hair was filled with the sound of rock hitting flesh, the howl of the wargs and goblins, the sizzle of boiling seawater splashing down.

      “I'm dry,” Moruca said, breaking me out of my combat fugue.

      I looked up in time to see one of the Ravenwatch loose his last arrow, bringing down a warg on the periphery of the swarm. The crowd pressed up against the tower was much smaller than before. The majority of the goblins must be inside the tower, and I realized I could here the sounds of combat within. All three of our caudrons of boiling seawater have been expended, and even our rubble piles were significantly smaller... but there were only three wargs still standing outside the tower, their riders glowering at us even as the mounts snapped and barked at the crowd to press on.

      “Good job,” I said, whistling my approval, “You did really well. I think we're going to win this.”

      The two elves of the Ravenwatch saluted, but Moruca just gave me a bitter smile. “Permission to use our spells offensively, sir?” one of the Ravenwatch- Loudo, I think- asked me.

      “Granted,” I replied, nodding at the wargs, “You know what to do. Moruca, why don't you get our little friend ready? I think it's time we paid evil unto evil.”

      Moruca gave me an evil smile, and went around to the rear of the tower. Loudo and Elcair gestured and chanted the words of magic, sending a pair of magic missiles streaking towards one of the mounted goblins, the one in the centre of the trio, knocking the creature off it's mount. I guess they didn't roll very high for damage, because the goblin stood and shook it's fist at us. The third magic missile finally killed it. Hopefully that was the chieftain, but only time would tell.

      Moruca returned, with a quartet of farmer carrying a heavily bound cauldron, capped with a crude lid made of one of the Ravenwatch's shields. Boss Gull, one of the cauldron bearers, directed the effort, muttering “easy, easy...” as they lowered the cauldron into place, balanced precariously on the edge of the battlement. I drew Calliope's dagger, and with Moruca's help, we sliced through several of the ropes tying the lid in place, before Boss Gull and the farmers tilted the thing over and down into the crowd of goblins.

      When they were slaves, the goblins' captives had been granted the use of four big cauldrons to make the stews and gruels that fed the whole tower, with the captives themselves having to make do with whatever scraps were left over after. After the farmers had served our last meal of the day, we used a system of ropes to lower each cauldron down and scoop up big pots of seawater to help us in our defence. One of the pot held a nasty surprise- an angry lacedon that, thankfully, made it's ire known well before we got the pot up to the battlement. It took some doing, but with Raszil's help using his power to turn undead, we managed to secure it.

      Now, it flopped out of it's iron prison like a dead fish, scatter the goblins before it. It moved ungainly- it was an aquatic creature, after all- but was able to latch onto one of the goblins and begin feasting. One goblin warrior that moved in to fight it got it's throat slashed open by an backhanded strike of the ghoul's claws.

      It's presence was having an effect... but not enough of one. I suppose it made sense- these goblins were fighting for their home- but they kept stubbornly coming on.

      I decided to help the lacedon out. I reached into one of my component pouch for a pinch of sand, and canted. A half dozen goblins surrounding the ghoul keeled over, sound asleep. But I didn't have long to focus on what was going on below, as my attention was taken off the battlefield by an angry shout from inside the tower.

      I ran for the archway, one step behind Elcair. When we arrived at the entrance to the tower, I could see Sorrel dragging one of the Ravenwatch away from the landing, as he desperately tried to stop the blood pouring from a gash in his neck. Yua and Voss were barely holding back the howling crowd of goblins pouring up the stairs. Some had gotten some lucky hits in, I guess. Now that the front line had started to cave, the goblins were throwing themselves forward with renewed frenzy.

      Stepping up next to Yua, I gestured and chanted words of magic, hosing a spray of magical fire over the densely packed enemies crowding up the stairs. Goblins burned and died, but still they came, clambering over the scorched bodies of their former comrades to get to us.

      I was seriously beginning to have complaints about the morale system in this game!

      Yua gently pushed me back as she resumed her stance, and, not having any further spells of use in this situation, I stepped back to make room for Nievan, joining the fray. The situation seemed back under control, relatively speaking.

      “Thank you, Sir Theodore,” Haseth told me as he stepped back from the front to take a quick breath. “Please return to you post, in command of the battlements. We can still hold.”

      I gave him a brief nod and headed back outside.

      Here, the situation was mostly unchanged. Farmers still launched rocks down into the goblins, though targets outside of the tower were a little less dense, and the lacedon still flopped around, attacking goblin after goblin as it sought living meat.

      “Theodore, look,” Moruca said as she noticed my approach, and pointed.

      The warg-mounted goblins were drawing closer, forcing their way through the crowd, heading towards the lacedon. I'm not sure why they had a sudden interest in fighting the ghoul, but I'll take it.

      “Is there anything we can hit them with?” I asked, looking around, “We're out of arrows, and I don't think a stone can reach that far.”

      Moruca frowned. “You don't have any fancy magic spells?”

      “Maybe...” Stinking Cloud could work, theoretically. “They just need to pull closer.”

      Pull closer they did, full on charging the lacedon. The ghoul saw them coming, and eagerly ran to meet their charge, only to have a warg's jaws clamp around it's arm and shake it like a rag doll.

      Moruca hefted her hatchet, and let fly. It seemed to arc almost gracefully down, before planting itself in the warg rider's body with a spray of blood. The rider howled in pain, as I chanted and cast, my hand crunching down on a handful of skunk cabbage.

      Because of the limitation of range, I could only barely catch the area of the lacedon with one edge of the area of effect of the cloud, the rest hung in the air like a noxious, roiling column. The thick yellow gas obscured the battle, but hopefully the lacedon was immune.

      While the battle raged on around us, Moruca and I stood at the edge of the battlement, staring, waiting to see if that billowing cloud of vapour would disperse. I hardly noticed that, without the wargs and their leaders to drive them forward, in clumps the goblins outside the tower had started to break and flee into the woods. Every minute stretched on like a century, to see if my final gambit had paid off.

      When the cloud dispersed, there were only a trio of warg corpses, on a battlefield strewn with dead goblins already, so there was no way to tell if the dead nearby were fresh or not. The lacedon busied itself with gnawing into the stomach of one of the massive beasts. The wargs were them, and with them, likely also the chieftain. And seeing their leaders dead, panic had begun to spread amongst the goblins, and they began to run, at first retreating in little clusters, until eventually a steady stream of little green figures fled into the night.

      After all the raids, ambushes, all the dungeon crawling and infiltration, we finally did it. We had won.

      ---------------------------

      Character Name: Theodore Esche
      Race: Human
      Class: Transmuter
      Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
      Hit Points: 7/7

      Ability Scores
      Strength 11
      Dexterity 17
      Constitution 8
      Intelligence 17
      Wisdom 13
      Charisma 14

      Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
      Nonweapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

      Spells Per Day:
      1st Level- 3
      2nd Level- 2

      Spellbook:
      (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
      (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

      Spells Prepared:
      (1st Level):
      (2nd Level): Knock

      Equipment: Belt, Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots, Darts (23), Robes, Dagger, 5 Unidentified Gems, Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Pearl (worth 100gp), Rations (10 meals), Robes (2), Signet Ring, Wedding Ring, Small Tent, Oil of Acid Resistance, mint green potion, Potion of Rainbow Hues

      Money: 320 gp, 791 sp, 7 cp

      Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

      Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Moruca (Level 4 Ranger), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Yua (Level 4 Paladin)

      Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler)

      Sexual Partners: 5

      Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
      Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
      Currently Working On: Banter and chats
      Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

      Comment


      • #93
        Chapter 79: Isekai Life & Drink Circle

        The funeral was held by midmorning. We scavenged a few leaky derelicts from the ancient boat house in which our party hid our perfectly good boats. I was able to use Mending to make them seaworthy, and the bodies of Nievan and the other member of the Ravenwatch who died, Galtrath, were laid in. Their armor and shields were kept to be delivered to their families, but the mist elves did not send their people to the grave unarmed, and so each one clasped at their breast a shining longsword. After, earth and stones were packed around the body, covering their legs and abdomen.

        I didn't know Nievan well, and I didn't know Galtrath at all. But as Raszil spoke some quiet words of prayer over the two bodies, I couldn't help but reflect on my own mortality. These two men had given up centuries of their lives to protect a handful of human farmers and a princess who had led them to their doom. It was difficult to comprehend the enormity of it. I couldn't tell if they were heroes or fools, to have sold so much for so little.

        If only we had access to some of their griffons still, they could be whisked off to the Mist Kingdom in time to be resurrected, but in our current situation it was impossible to get them to a strong enough cleric within a week.

        “Interred in earth, water or sky, the destination is the same for all mortal beings who walk this earth,” Raszil said solemnly, “Suleyar, we ask that you greet these men as brothers, give to them the final Answer, and lay bare all earthly secrets to them, so they may rest at peace, full of the knowledge that they had served their purpose under the heavens.”

        Haseth, as their commanding officer, waded out into the river, holding each skiff steady so that Kythaela could kiss each man on the brow, before sending them on their way, out to sea.

        It was a solemn moment for us all, but unfortunately that didn't get to last.

        By noon, our number of farmers on hand had been cut in half. A few strong rowers had taken a quarter of the supplies and all the teenagers and children onto our commandeered goblin boats, and started off upstream to Rhymer's Cross. They would arrive a few days ahead of the rest of us, and bring news to the town of the goblins' defeat.

        The rest of us would be travelling overland, on a meandering course that would take us days to find the closest road. Boss Gull swore that he knew these woods like the back of his hand, and could get us town within a week. As escorts against the threat of goblins, my party and the Ravenwatch would be accompanying them.

        However, not all of us would be going.

        “I'm staying here,” Moruca told me in a defiant tone, as we were distributing the supplies evenly among everyone travelling, “You lot are leaving the job half-done.”

        “What do you mean?” I asked, “The goblins are done. It'll take years before they get together into a concentrated force, and that might never happen, depending on how winter turns out. They're certainly no longer a threat to the people here.”

        “I signed up to kill goblins, and there are still goblins, hundreds of them,” was all she offered as explanation.

        That was partly my fault. I didn't truly appreciate just how many goblins there were. We killed hundreds over the course of the battle- the goblins had even gone so far as to send their own children against us, a fact I had mixed feelings about- but as far as anyone could tell from the tracks and their own recollections, it was only about half their total number. The rest were scattered and leaderless, but still vastly outnumbered us.

        It suddenly dawned on me what might be going on here. “...You used to have grandchildren, didn't you?”

        It didn't seem possible, but Moruca's face hardened even more. Where before she resemble a tough old tree root, now she seemed to be chiselled from stone. “Maybe, maybe not. If I did, they ain't around no more.”

        I had been thinking about what Raszil had said to me two nights previous. I put a hand on the old woman's shoulder. “Take as many arrows as you think you'll need.”

        Her eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What do you mean?”

        I gestured at everyone here, rigging up makeshift packs on the bottom floor of the tower. “Voss, Yua and I need to go take care of our companion, Calliope. The elves need to get their princess home. The farmers need to get to work on their crops before autumn. For the rest of us, this job is done, and it's time to move on.” I turned back to Moruca. “If you say your calling is to hunt down the rest of these goblins, we'll leave you with whatever we can spare, and all the arrows you need. You will want to avoid camping near the coast here, because of the lacedons, of course.”

        She was silent for a while, then turned away. “Good.”

        I took that as thanks, and went back to helping people with their packs.

        We set off shortly after noon, heading into the forest, moving east and slightly north towards the nearest ford. The goblin encampment wasn't abandoned, but the handful of goblins there avoided us, fleeing out of their crude lean-tos and shelters as we went. Nobody bothered them- after all, we had just left the tower which, at this point, was almost a charnel house with all the dead clustered around it.

        Once we were past that point, I hustled ahead a bit and fell in beside Haseth and Kythaela. The princess didn't react to my presence, although Haseth gave me a nod. “Sir Theodore. To what do I owe the honour?”

        “Um, sorry if this is awkward,” I began, “But I just wanted to make sure you got word to Seran that we rescued your princess. So he can arrange to have Calliope raised from the dead.”

        “How would I do that?” Haseth asked, confused, “I don't have a messenger bird or anything....”

        My dismay must have been obvious, because the battle-scarred elf allowed himself a small smile. “Ah, I see. Our agreement was to raise your lady in exchange for your cooperation. I never intended to hold her life hostage in exchange for the rescue of Princess Kythaela.”

        I shook my head, disbelieving. “What exactly do you mean?”

        “If the winds favoured Seran's flight, and the king accepted Seran's explanation, Lady Calliope should have been among the living since the day before last.”

        “Wait, what? Why would you...?”

        Haseth help up a hand to stop me. “You agreed to lend your cooperation, we agreed to raise Lady Calliope. Actually freeing the prisoners is merely a happy consequence of our agreement. Had we failed, your lady will have still returned to the living.”

        “Ah, I see.” This must be what it feels like to make a deal with a straight-up Lawful Good person. It had never even occurred to me that our deal would play out that way.

        Abruptly, I realized that the elven princess was staring at me, with that wide-eyed, owl look of hers. I thought initially it was from her being shell shocked within the tower, but it seemed like it was more of a habit of hers.

        “Uh, sorry,” I replied, running a hand through my hair, “I didn't... I mean, I guess I didn't full think things through.”

        “It is alright, Sir Theodore,” Haseth replied, “I am a man of honour, I would never ask someone to put their life on the line for a reward they may never get to enjoy. A fool pays for victory, a wise man pays for loyalty.”

        “Your Lady Calliope must be very fortunate, to have someone dote on her so,” Kythaela chimed in, which made me flush deeply with embarrassment. I realized what an awkward scene I must have made... but the news did put a spring in my step.

        By that night, we made camp by the riverside, only a few miles downstream of the ford that Boss Gull knew about. For the first time in awhile, we had something resembling privacy. The farmers, about forty of them with us, built their own fires, as did the Ravenwatch, although we did collaborate on setting a proper watch.

        As it happened, first watch that night didn't involve any of my little quartet. So we just enjoyed a chance to relax together around a fire. Raszil produced a flask from his pack and took a sip before passing it to Voss.

        Voss sampled the flask, and made a face. “What in the All-Father's name did I just drink? It tastes like... vinegar and cloves? But not in a good way.”

        Raszil chuckled. “Let's just call it an old gnomish recipe. I'd tell you what went in it, but then I'd have to kill you.”

        Voss passed the flask over to me. “Priest of secrets, huh?” I asked Raszil, before taking an exploratory sip. The taste of the cloves was cloying, and the liquor taste was very strong, but it had a way of warming you in the chest rather than simply burning your throat.

        “That's right,” Raszil replied with a wicked grin.

        I passed the flask on to Yua, before taking a look around at my allies gathered around the campfire. “I wanted to say thank you, to all of you,” I said, making eye contact with each of them in turn, “I know we had all agreed to fight the goblins, but the last few days... I really appreciate that you all decided to come with me, putting everything on the line to get Calliope back.”

        Yua coughed slightly and wiped her mouth with a sleeve as she passed the flask back to Raszil, and inclined her head towards me. “You are welcome,” she said, in strongly accented Common.

        Voss' eyes shot up. “Whoa, she can talk!?”

        “She could always talk,” Raszil told him wryly, “It's just now she's finally learned the common tongue.”

        “Only some, Raszir friend,” she she softly, “I have try best to learn, but I am slow learner sometimes.” She bowed her head again. “Thank you for patience.”

        “I'll drink to that,” the gnome replied, before sending the flask around for another journey.

        “Hey, it's great,” Voss said, “I'm sure Calliope will be in for a huge surprise, huh?”

        “Yeah I guess so,” I replied, before helping myself to a second sip. “Anyway, now that this is done, I'm going to try to be less selfish as your... leader,” I barely corrected myself in time, “I want to help you to achieve your goals as well as mine. So if there's anything you'd like to do, just ask.”

        Raszil shrugged. “Now that the goblins are disorganized, and the roads should be clear, I have no reason for being in Rhymer's Cross any more. I was actually going to ask to sign on with you, for a time, if that's alright.”

        Voss gave me a careful look, and I gave him a brief nod in return. “For a time, certainly. Once we've rejoined with the other half of our party, I'd like to revisit the issue, just in case. I don't want to neglect their opinion when it comes to adding to our number. I'm sure it won't be an issue, but I want to be fair.”

        “Fine enough,” the gnome replied, with a chuckle and a sip of his flask, “I'll make sure to wear my good shirt.”

        When it was passed to him, Voss shook his head and sent the flask straight on to me. “I'm on third watch, remember?” he explained.

        Raszil shrugged. “One of the advantages of being from a small people is that you big ones always seem to think we can't handle real work,” he said, “And I hope you'll pardon me if I don't remind Haseth about that.”

        While Raszil and Voss bantered, Yua had shifted over to where I sat, and gently tugged at me sleeve. “My Lord, there is something I want you to know,” she said in her native language.

        “Alright, please,” I responded in kind, “Go ahead.”

        She paused for what seemed like a long time, and then pounced forward, her hand darting out to seize the flask from me before I could do anything. She very quickly pounded back two drinks, then added a third before she started coughing, pushing the flask at Raszil. I was speechless about this sudden change in her behaviour. She blinked at me, suddenly unsteady, and grabbed the collar of my robe.

        “You... you dishonoured me!” she stated, jerking me closer.

        “I... I didn't...!” I desperately said, but her sheer strength was incredible. I don't know what about Dragonborn physiology was causing this sudden reaction to the liquor, but soon my face was inches from hers, close enough that I could feel her breath on my lips.

        “You are my lord,” she explained, “I am to protect you. So, when you run off without telling me, you are dishonouring my wishes.”

        “R-right....”

        “So... don't do that.”

        “Uh, yeah, I'll try to, uh, keep that in mind.” Also, her apparently quite low Constitution score. Both good, relevant things to remember.

        “Good,” she said, licking her lips. Her eyes darted down at my body, before returning to my eyes. A blush spread across her cheeks, and she very deliberately released by collar. “Good,” she added.

        Feeling the cold air on my chest from where she tugged everything out of place, I put my clothes to order, resolving to be careful around buzzed Yua in the future.

        ---------------------------

        Character Name: Theodore Esche
        Race: Human
        Class: Transmuter
        Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
        Hit Points: 7/7

        Ability Scores
        Strength 11
        Dexterity 17
        Constitution 8
        Intelligence 17
        Wisdom 13
        Charisma 14

        Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
        Nonweapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

        Spells Per Day:
        1st Level- 3
        2nd Level- 2

        Spellbook:
        (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
        (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

        Spells Prepared:
        (1st Level): Burning Hands, Sleep
        (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

        Equipment: Belt, Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots, Darts (23), Robes, Dagger, 5 Unidentified Gems, Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Pearl (worth 100gp), Rations (10 meals), Robes (2), Signet Ring, Wedding Ring, Small Tent, Oil of Acid Resistance, mint green potion, Potion of Rainbow Hues

        Money: 320 gp, 791 sp, 7 cp

        Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

        Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin)

        Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler)

        Sexual Partners: 5

        Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
        Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
        Currently Working On: Banter and chats
        Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

        Comment


        • #94
          Chapter 80: Isekai Life & Victory Surprises

          Despite, or maybe because of, our precautions when it came to protection against ambush, we were entirely unmolested on our five-day journey from the coast to Rhymer's Cross. It was a long trudge, to be sure, but Voss, Yua and I had something that we hadn't felt in weeks, since we first encountered the goblins that night on the road- a sense of victory.

          Because of that, it was also an opportunity to get done some chores that I wouldn't have had time for otherwise. Using my Mending spell to repair battle damage to my allies' armour. Renewing my own Armour spell. Using Detect Magic to ensure that none of the gemstones I picked up were magic (they weren't). Developing a new appreciation for Tenser's Floating Disc every time we had to ford a river with our massive amount of supplies. It ended up being a fairly good exercise for the logistical aspects of my spell list, and I even ended up neglecting defensive and offensive spells entirely in favour of Mending and the Floating Disc. I became very popular among the old timers travelling with us for that- using the Floating Disc as an impromptu wheelchair when we were getting close to the end of a day's march and wouldn't need it for ferrying supplies.

          Yua, in spite of being a certified lightweight, didn't seemed too fazed by her brush with drunkeness. She was quiet the entire rest of the night, and in the morning didn't seem hindered by any hangover or anything. She also just started following me around everywhere again, always a few steps behind. It was kind of nice, and made me feel safe. Not that I was feeling particularly unsafe, but I knew she was always there.

          Voss, meanwhile, always seemed to have something else to do. He insisted on volunteering for everything, so he spent his days helping forge a path, kept watch at night, and when he wasn't busy with any of those fell back to support the rear guard. It was almost dizzying, watching him go back and forth.

          Razsil, for the most part, just tried to focus on keeping up. His shorter legs (and the lower base speed of the Gnomish race) meant that he always had to hustle to keep up, and by the end of the day he was complaining about how his legs ached. You'd think he would be using his cleric magic to heal these aches, but instead he used his spells to purify water for us all to drink, because if anyone actually fell sick on our journey, we'd probably have to abandon them in the wild. Instead, Yua would lay on hands, soothing his aches at the end of the day... and being tended too by the beautiful dragon girl probably also factored into his calculus.

          While our reception in Rhymer's Cross was subdued, we were welcomed much more warmly. The people we sent upriver had arrived three days prior, and warned everyone of our coming, but they didn't know exactly when we would get there so nothing was really planned. Estrid and the guards greeted us at first, but soon word got around, and people were trickling in to greet us all. There were many reunited friends and family between the ex-slaves and the people sheltering from the goblin raiders, and my hand was shaken so much that I felt as though it would snap off at the elbow.

          What happened with the Mist Elves was even more remarkable. At first they were given the stink eye by the townsfolk, and someone even spit in their direction. But as ex-slaves and townsfolk reunited, the truth of what the Ravenwatch had done to protect the farmers, even if it was only a byb-blow of protecting their princess, came it. It helped that Kythaera shed her haunted look temporarily to put on a smiling facade, and do her best to look the graceful, gentle elven princess when speaking to people. She even went so as to curtsy to Estrid and thank her for selflessly protecting such fine people. You wouldn't have thought it possible, but the animosity between the two races was shed, at least temporarily.

          Big Dap and Ina once again offered to put us up, and while we didn't have a massive feast or anything, this time there was a beef and barley stew, pickled vegetables, fruit jam, and a wildberry pie for dessert. Once news had arrived of our victory, the restrictions and rationing were eased up immediately, and while it would be a lot of hard work for the town to recover enough to survive the winter, for this special occasion there was enough food for everyone.

          Late in the evening, Big Dap tapped Raszil, Voss and I, and said it was time for “men to be men”. That sounded really strange to me at first, but I didn't want to baselessly refuse, so I went along. It turned out to just be sharing cider on the front porch.

          “I shouldn't have this,” the big baker explained, “All the alcohol was supposed to be taken in the rationing, but I hid a few things. After all, I make the bread in this town.”

          There was a problem with what he said, but I didn't say anything about it. Instead I patiently waited someone to pass the cider bottle to me, and noted, “We're sure sitting around drinking alcohol a lot lately.”

          “That's what victory is like,” Raszil pointed out as he finally handed me the bottle, “You relax and enjoy the taste of victory.”

          The cidar was nice and tart, and didn't taste very strong at all. After Raszil's moonshine or whatever that was, it was a welcome difference. “We're not finished our primary mission, though.”

          “Yeah, that's true,” Voss replied, “We couldn't ignore this goblin situation, but it doesn't seem like they had enough slaves to account for all the towns disappearing.”

          “Sorry,” Raszil said, “Did you say you had a larger mission?”

          It was easy to forget, after so long. “Yeah, Ricard and Mia Parett of Pendleton hired us to look into some villages that have vanished,” I explained, “We thought at first these goblins might have something to do with it, but Voss is right. It was a side mission, and I'm glad we did it, but....”

          “The gods make fools of us all,” Raszil said with a note of wonder in his voice, “Theodore, would you believe me if I said I was present in the town of Birchen when it was attacked?”

          I nearly dropped the cider in surprise. “That would be quite a coincidence....”

          “Not at all,” Raszil said with a shrug, “I happened to be travelling from the north, and the lack of centralized law in the Lakelands appealed to me. I was cooling my heels for a few days in the Sparrow's Rest Inn when the storm happened.”

          Voss frowned. “A storm vanished a town?”

          Raszil shook his head. “I don't know about any vanishing. That storm wiped the town off the map. It started in the dead of night, after a clear day. The inn had a cellar, thank the gods, but even then I had to hide myself in an empty barrel when the cellar doors were ripped away.” He breathed a heavy sigh. “It was... apocalyptic. The sort of thing you read about in scripture, not one stone standing on another. A town of hundreds reduced to a few dozen in hours.”

          “You didn't stay to help?” Big Dap asked.

          Raszil shrugged again. “What can one small man do in that situation? I healed some of the worst injured, did rites over the dead, but Suleyar is not a god that builds. I did what I could and left them to their grief.”

          Voss looked at me. “A powerful, magically-enhanced storm....”

          I nodded. “Elven supremacists who called themselves storm elves.”

          He sighed. “But... they seem alright, those Ravenwatch guys.”

          “It could be that they're not in on it,” I replied, “The entire kingdom had a huge sea change, if what Haseth said was true. So, we need to find out for ourselves.”

          “...And the princess is our ticket in.” Voss knocked back a big swig of cider. “Calliope, too, I guess. And then more conspiracies and liars. Well, I guess smashing gobbos was just a break from all of that.”

          “You two have an... interesting history, don't you?” Raszil dryly asked.

          “Rasz, you don't even know the half of it,” Voss replied.

          We were silent for a long while.

          Eventually, we noticed a light bobbing towards us in the evening dark. Someone was coming up the road, andwe heard the jangling of metal against metal. When it got close enough to make out the shape of a lantern being held in a man's fist. Big Dap got up from his seat and casually leaned against the rail of his porch. “Ho, there.”

          “Ho, Dap,” came a familiar voice.

          “Gull,” Big Dap confirmed, “How can I help you? Bakery's closed til tomorrow morn.”

          “Ain't here for you, sir,” Boss Gull was finally closed enough that I could see he was carrying what appeared to be one of the sacks we rescued from the goblin tribe. “Need to speak with your house guests, there.”

          I frowned and rose myself. “What about?”

          “Well...” in the flickering lantern light, Boss Gull looked uncomfortable, even embarrassed. “We could use this for the town, you know. And that was my initial thought. But that girl Estrid... No, no... the Shire-Reeve, she is now, ain't she? She made a convincing argument.”

          “For what?” I said, getting a little annoyed with the old man.

          In response, he sung the sack onto the porch, which landed with a distinct metallic ring. “When you and yours were recovering from that battle, me and mine were dealing with the dead gobbos. That's pretty close to half of what we found, by weight. As thanks and bless yous for what you did.”

          Voss crouched by the sack, undid the laces, and whistled, impressed. I leaned to peek over his shoulder. The sack- a good-sized flour sack- was filled with shining silver coins. In all the rushing around and battle, I had totally forgotten that goblins dropped 3d6 silver coins each.

          “Th-Thank you very much,” I managed to stammer out after awhile. But that didn't seem quite enough. I had much more gold stashed away in my large chest, but for people such as these, even this was a fortune. So, instead, I bowed my head. “It was an honour to help you in your time of need. I only regret that we couldn't do more, sooner.”

          Raszil coughed, for some reason- I guess the cider went down the wrong pipe when he managed to get a glimpse of the coin himself. Boss Gull just rubbed his head, looking chastened. “Well, now, that's no fair. Now I just feel worse for trying to cut you out. Ah, I'm going back to my brother's house before you get me again, Sir Theodore. Enjoy your evening.”

          And like a strange fairy dropping off coins to good children, he vanished into the night.

          Voss ended up elbowing me a little. “You know, men who are lucky with women shouldn't be rich, too.”

          “Theodore is lucky with women?” Big Dap asked, pressing the bottle into my hand, “How do you mean?”

          “Well, I shouldn't go into it, but he is,” Voss said with a sad smile. “Out of every lady in our whole party, there's only one who doesn't have a torch for him. He promised that if someone had their eye on me, he's stay out of it, but....”

          That last remark surprised me. “I thought you and Enna might have been a thing,” I replied.

          Raszil coughed again. “Ah, pardon me,” he said, “I'd better go inside. Wouldn't want to catch a cold when we're leaving soon.”

          “Enna?” Voss laughed, “Yeah, I made a pass at her when we were stopped in that one village in the mountains, the one with all the sheep? She said she wasn't interested, that I was too pretty and she liked a man who had a little bit of weathering.” He shrugged. “That's fine, I was just being drunk and frisky, and it was nice to be called pretty, even if I was being rejected.”

          “There's hope for you yet,” I replied, helping myself to a long pull of the cider.

          “Hey, Dap, what day is it?”

          The big baker crossed his arms, and frowned. “Can't be too sure, what with everything, but I think it's the third of Latesummer. Why?”

          “The third? Already?” Voss replied with wonder in his voice, “There you go, Theodore. Happy birthday, here's a big sack of coin.”

          “My birthday, huh...?” I looked up at the starlit sky. I suppose it was. For the second time in my “life”, I was twenty again.

          “I didn't get you anything, though.”

          “Are you kidding?” I smiled at the knight, “You give me all your chances at women, what more could I ask for?”

          The three of us all shared a hearty laugh. It wasn't that good of a joke, but we had that kind of atmosphere that made it better.

          It was crowded that night, all of us under one roof, sleeping at the same time as Big Dap's family, but we made it work. It even helped us, rising with the bakers in the very early morning, since Voss, Yua and I ended up spending most of that day travelling out to the riverside and rounding up all our horses. They seemed only a little worse for wear after being pastured alone for so long, and I made sure to give Snacks and Custard lots of affection. Buttermilk was his usual snappy self, his mood not improving after being away from Calliope for so long.

          We were packing up our wagon outside the Shire-Reeve's office late that night when Haseth came walking towards us.

          “Sir Theodore, Sir Voss, Lady Yua,” he said, taking us all in with his good eye, “I see we are of one mind.”

          “Yes, I thought you might want to leave as soon as possible, to get your lady home,” I replied, “Sorry for taking so long getting our things together.”

          “It is nothing, Her Grace and I had to negotiate with the Lady Estrid for mounts of our own to borrow for the trip.”

          Voss frowned. “Wait, only you and the princess are coming? Did I hear that right?”

          The grizzled elf nodded. “Princess Kythaela has ordered the remainder of the Ravenwatch to stay here for now, recover from their malnutrition, and assist the people of Rhymer's Cross with any further problems with goblins or other marauders. However, she is required in the Kingdom of Mist as soon as possible, and so cannot delay for her own recovery.”

          “Tomorrow morning, then?”

          “Until then, Sir Theodore.”

          That night, after another hearty meal, Voss and I sat down and explained the situation to Yua, which sitting behind Dap's house on a few logs. Everything- why we were travelling the Lakelands, why we were going to the Misty Kingdom, even why we had left Enna, Katriana, Ashryn and Bekkar behind. Yua was very much in the dark about everything still, since at the last time we discussed this among ourselves in detail, we still had a firm language barrier between us.

          “I understand,” she said simply, “We are going to a place with strangers, some of which are our enemy, and some of which could be friends. We can probably trust the warrior Haseth, and his lady, but that is not completely certain and I should trust them to a degree without leaving myself vulnerable unnecessarily. We must destroy our enemies. It shall be done, my lord.”

          Well, when you summarize it that simply....

          When we were done, and Voss had already departed inside, Yua tugged on my sleeve again before I could leave. “My lord, there is part that I request you explain again.”

          “Oh, certainly,” I said, seating myself, “What do you need to know?”

          “Lady Katriana is my lord's sister... but also his wife and is carrying his child.”

          I shifted uncomfortably. “Does that bother you?” I asked.

          “And... Lady Ashryn will also be Lord Theodore's wife, and is also carrying his child.”

          “Yes....”

          “And Lady Calliope is also my lord's lover and wife-to-be.”

          It was firmly fixed in my mind that Yua was technically a paladin and could lose all her nifty powers and abilities for not striking off my head, if this was somehow against her god.

          “Does that make you uncomfortable?” I repeated.

          “No. It is good to know what kind of man my lord is,” she said, although she did rotate her body away from me and looked up at the stars. “It is usual for the emperor of my homeland to marry back into the royal bloodline, and while they are usually our enemies, there is a great nation not far from my home where the king routinely keeps concubines and multiple wives. So... it is good to know what kind of man my lord is, that he does such things.”

          “Ah... thanks, Yua,” I replied, relaxing, “It means a lot to me that you don't judge my family.”

          “Of course,” she replied, “May I be excused, to engage in my meditations, my lord?”

          “Ah, yeah.”

          Yua headed inside, leaving me to look up at the stars. Shortly, I heard her yell, but it didn't sound like surprise or fear. Some kind of “hi-ya” karate thing, I mused.

          After another somewhat crowded night, we were finally ready to leave, just the six of us. Voss and Raszil lead the way, then Haseth and Kythaela, and finally I rode beside the wagon and Yua in the rear. The sky was clear, the sun was warm (but tempered by a cool breeze), and many of the people of the town came out to say goodbye.

          Among them was the always taciturn Estrid. She shook my hand, and gave me a brief, small smile. “You did okay, for city-folk,” was all she said.

          “Happy to be of service,” I replied.

          Dap and Ina handed over a cold but fresh meat pie for the road, and the big baker slapped me on the back hard enough, that I was certain it cause me temporary damage. It felt good, to leave behind smiling people, who were hopeful for the future. It also felt good to be journeying back to Calliope.

          We were fairly well provisioned, now that our trail rations had been returned to us, and the roads should be safe. I found myself wondering about Moruca, if she was still alive, tearing up goblins to the west of us.

          The remaining members of the Ravenwatch were lined up along the road out of town, raising their swords in a salute. I waved as we went by, but they remained stoic. That's fine, they fought off a small army despite being malnourished and mistreated for weeks. They had every right to act like tough guys.

          It's only then that it struck me as odd. They were all guys. Nobody seemed to bat an eye at the mention of a female knight until now, although they did seem slightly less common... out of the dozen members of the Ravenwatch I'd met to date, why were all of them men? I resolved to ask Haseth later, if only just to make conversation.

          We made good time. We didn't exactly have a local guide or anything, but according to our map, we should be able to cut the corner of the map, skip the Birchen area entirely and rejoin the road running across the north somewhere west of Temple Meadow. It was easy travel, for once, and shortly after noon we ended up crossing the first bridge taking us away from the area of Rhymer's Cross, and once we were on the other side, we found a peaceful stretch of shoreline to rest the horses and have a midday meal, just out of sight behind a copse of trees.

          “Mmm, I'd almost forgotten how peaceful travel could be,” remarked Voss as he sliced up a bit of hard cheese to hand out slices to have with our meat pie. The pie was greasy and spicy, and put me in the mind of Italian sausage from back in my previous life.

          “Yeah, this isn't bad at all-”

          “Hsst!”

          Yua shushed us all sharply, her hand already on the hilt of her greatsword. That's when we all heard it- the sound of footsteps on the bridge.

          Haseth drew his sword almost silently, and rose to stand in front of his princess, who just had that same, haunted stare, although she was focused on the bridge. Voss, who had been hoping to shoot a bird or squirrel or something for dinner, eased an arrow from the quiver at his him, and groped for his bow on the ground.

          When someone finally appeared, it was to a knocked arrow, an armed warrior, and an angry wizard staring them down. But I relaxed almost immediately. Truth is, I wanted to put my head in my hands and groan, but I somehow restrained myself.

          Leading a patchy old mule was a familiar teenage girl.

          “Um, I come in peace,” Sorrel squeaked nervously.

          ---------------------------

          Character Name: Theodore Esche
          Race: Human
          Class: Transmuter
          Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
          Hit Points: 7/7

          Ability Scores
          Strength 11
          Dexterity 17
          Constitution 8
          Intelligence 17
          Wisdom 13
          Charisma 14

          Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
          Nonweapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

          Spells Per Day:
          1st Level- 3
          2nd Level- 2

          Spellbook:
          (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
          (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

          Spells Prepared:
          (1st Level): Featherfall, Mending, Tenser's Floating Disc
          (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

          Equipment: Belt, Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots, Darts (23), Robes, Dagger, 5 Unidentified Gems, Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Pearl (worth 100gp), Rations (10 meals), Robes (2), Signet Ring, Wedding Ring, Small Tent, Oil of Acid Resistance, mint green potion, Potion of Rainbow Hues

          Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

          Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

          Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage)

          Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler)

          Sexual Partners: 5

          Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
          Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
          Currently Working On: Banter and chats
          Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

          Comment


          • #95
            Chapter 81: Isekai Life & Several Reflections

            “Sir Voss, please make your squire and teach me how to be a knight!”

            Just like that, this bratty kid started an argument between Voss and I.

            “We can't take her along, she's just a teenager.”

            “We're you technically just a teenager until a few days ago?”

            “There's a world of difference between thirteen and nineteen!”

            “Actually, I'm fourteen,” Sorrel interjected, sounding hurt.

            I ignored her. “Besides, all our spare weapons are with the storage chest in Pendleton.”

            “Well, I need to get better with the halberd, so she can use my spear.”

            That presented it's own logistical hurdles, but I couldn't just say 'you have a weapon specialization for spears and not halberds'. But, I also realized he had a longsword in his kit somewhere but that didn't exactly help my case. So I tried from a different attack angle. “She doesn't know how to listen!” I said.

            “At the time she wasn't listening, we needed her help. You were just being stubborn, like you are now.”

            That really made me feel furious. “Well, that suited you just fine when...!”

            Through this entire exchange, Voss and I had closed in on each other, until we were yelling in each other's faces. Suddenly, an iron hand seized each of us by the shoulder, and pulled us apart.

            “Gentlemen! I do not think we need this situation to escalate further!” Haseth said sternly, even as he pulled us apart.

            I was still fuming at Voss, but my two-layer personality meant that one part of me could see that this situation was getting out of hand. Voss and I had never argued before, and now that we had something causing strife between us, the “real” Theodore was experiencing the first time a subordinate went against him in such a strong way.

            “Sir Voss, why don't you take a short walk with the young miss, and find out if she's serious about becoming your squire,” Haseth suggested in a way that made it sound like it wasn't a suggestion at all.

            “Fine, I'll do it,” Voss replied before turned around and stalking off.

            Voss turned, grabbed Sorrel by the wrist, and stalked off down the bridge. Haseth waited until they were out of sight before turning on me.

            “What is your problem?”

            “Huh?” I felt shocked. I was causing the problem? “We can't take care of some kid!”

            “She isn't asking to be taken care of,” Haseth explained calmly, “She is asking Voss to assist him, evidently after she was helpful to you back in that tower. So why are you angry?”

            “I... uh...” I scrmabled to think of why precisely I was mad, “Because... she'll slow us down!”

            “We are not in a particular hurry, and we are also well-provisioned,” Haseth pointed out, “So why do you hate this girl so much that you'll have a fight with one of your closest allies?”

            I relaxed a little. “I... I guess she just got on my nerves, the first time we met.”

            Suddenly, a hand clamped down on Haseth's wrist. Yua was standing next to us, smiling a forced smile, but her eyes started daggers at Haseth.

            “You will release.”

            “Of course, Lady Yua, forgive me for being rough with your master.”

            Haseth let me go, and I stumbled a bit, recovering myself.

            “Think on what I said,” Haseth said before turning back to his princess... but Kythaela was alright there, staring at me.

            What now? I thought to myself.

            “Sorrel is a good girl,” the princess said flatly.

            “I-is she?” I stammered back.

            “She was captured for longer than I was...” the princess look away as she said it, “She spoke each day of fighting back, or poisoning them. The goblins. She's a spirited girl.”

            “Uh, okay...” I sighed, “Yeah, okay I see what you mean. I'm sure she'll be a good squire.”

            Kythaela nodded her head once, and silently returned to her meal.

            I sighed, straightening up. “I'm going to go find Voss, and apologize,” I said, to no one in particular, before turning to Yua, “Stay here for a bit, okay?”

            “I am your servant, my lord.”

            I headed down the bridge, to where I saw Sorrel and Voss speaking at the far side. The bushy-haired teen looked upset about something, but was nodding in response to what Voss said. When the knight saw me coming, he left her at the end of the bridge to dry her tears, and met me in the middle.

            “Hey.”

            “Hey,” I said, rubbing my nose for second, “Uh, sorry about that. I'm not sure what came over me, but it... wasn't good.”

            “Yeah, you can saw that again,” Voss leaned on the railing, and looked down into the river. “I told her if you were a firm no, that she would have to go back, but... she doesn't have anywhere to go back to. Her whole family was killed by the goblins. It's kind of amazing she's here at all.”

            “That's not necessary,” I replied, “If you want her to be your squire, that's good enough for me.”

            Voss nodded. “Thank you. I'll make sure she won't let you down.”

            “When you knight her, she might not choose to swear to me,” I reminded Voss, “Which could end up being an issue for our secrecy, but I guess I don't have to worry about that for awhile.”

            “Yeah, that's a fair point. Let's go finish our lunch, okay?”

            It wasn't completely over just like that- I didn't really see the value Voss saw in the awkward, bushy-haired teen who couldn't restrain herself from talking back. But it was over for now. I still found the girl annoying, but Voss kept her busy. Every time we stopped it seemed that soon after, he would have Sorrel on her feet making practice cuts with a branch.

            Our journey was mostly uneventful. For two days we travelled northeast, before we met a larger road running west to east. We passed through the deserted ruin of Temple Meadows, a tiny speck a third the size of Rhymer's Cross built around a sizeable stone edifice... which lay in complete and utter ruin. Raszil's analogy struck home- it was an absolutely biblical level of destruction, and I could believe that no stone would be found stacked on another. Unlike what he had implied about Birchen, there wasn't anyone here trying to rebuild. We could see where the limbs of the dead were poking out from this or that pile of rubble, and heeled our horses a little faster. Thankfully, the main thoroughfare through town wasn't so badly choked that we had trouble with the cart- the tooth marks on some of the corpses told us that the ghouls would be out once the sun had set, and nobody wanted to deal with that.

            Two days later, when we saw the first signs that we were drawing close to Felldarrow, we agreed to swing south and follow river rather than remain on the road. Haseth made an excuse of wanting to avoid trouble with humans living so close to the Misty Kingdom, but I, at least, had seen enough death.

            We followed the river for two days, until the river met up with a long, narrow lake surrounded by tall willows and ash-pale birch trees, and beyond them, the peaks of the northern mountains. It was drawing late, and the sun glowed on the still waters of the lake like a dying ember.

            Haseth reined up to me. “We should camp here. This is Shaen Minarea, the last patch of wild before we arrive at the gates of the kingdom. This water is clean, drawn from the snowmelt, so we shall have a chance to bath and collect ourselves before you have to present yourself to His Grace.”

            I nodded. Shaen Minarea meant “Sea of Willows”, it hardly seemed like a dire place to relax a little. “That seems like good council. Thank you for the recommendation, Sir Haseth.”

            Sorrel had graduated to making practice cuts with actual steel in her hand, and was to one side, making lunges at thin air while Voss stood wide to one side and gave her instruction. Yua obediently went around making a fire without being asked, so I decided to hop on the the cart and portion out oats and the day's opportunistic hunting for a porridge. Travelling together for so long, it was easier to pitch in and just do something rather than laze around and cause problems. Haseth was busy hobbling and rubbing down the animals, Raszil was at the lakeside gathering water, and although Kythaela was simply sitting on a blanket staring out at the lake... well, she had been through a lot lately, so I was a little more forgiving.

            After a brief, simple supper of squirrel-meat-and-berry porridge, Kythaela stood up and dusted her hands off. “I am going over there,” she announced, indicating place a bit further down the shoreline, “To bathe.”

            Haseth tossed the remains of his supper into the fire and a made as if to rise and follow her, but the elven princess held out a hand. “That is not necessary, Sir Haseth,” she chided gently, “We haven't seen another living soul for weeks, and I trust our companions. The gentlemen can bathe in the opposite direction.”

            “Ah... As you, wish, Your Highness,” Haseth replied awkwardly, “If you require anything....”

            “You will hear it, I promise you.”

            “Well, there's no sense in standing on ceremony, then,” Raszil said, “I'm going.”

            “I'll join you,” Voss said, “I'd like to be done before dark.”

            The two men and one princess went opposite directions. I idly played with the embers of our little fire, poking them with a stick. I still wasn't quite used to the idea of bathing with other men. I avoided locker rooms like the plague in my previous life, and, well, I figured as I prince I could be forgiven for being a bit picky in this regard. When the two men returned, as dark began settling over the lake, I glanced at Haseth. “Are you going?”

            He frowned. “I'd prefer to wait for the Princess before taking my ease,” he replied, “Please, don't wait on me.”

            I shrugged at him, and headed out, eager to wash off the mud and stink that I'd accrued from almost a week on horseback.

            I found a little stretch of sandy beach, just hidden from the campsite by a stand of willows, and stripped off. The water was cold, but not uncomfortable, and the bottom of the lake was just the right consistency that wading out didn't raise a lot of mud. It was more or less perfect for bathing, and I could see why Haseth picked this place for camping tonight.

            I had been going through the process of scrubbing off the travel stains from my body when I heard a rustling coming the shoreline. I glanced over, dreading to see Haseth... and instead saw a naked woman wading towards me. I had the initial gut reaction of running through all the aquatic monsters I knew of in my head- rusalka, aloja, nereid... before realizing that it was Princess Kythaela.

            I blinked, wondering if hallucinations are part of hypothermia or something, when she spoke. “Do you want this body?”

            I couldn't help but glance her over in response to that. She was very beautiful, though her ribs still stood out from her malnutrition, and she was overall very underdeveloped to what I preferred, with skinny legs and a flat chest, although her nipples stood out, puffy and tantalizing, in the night air. It was full dark by this time, and the mirrorlike surface of the lake reflected the moon and the stars. The effect could only be described as ethereal.

            “Um,” was all I managed as a response.

            “That girl you are trading me for... she was your lover, right?” she said as she slipped towards me through the still water. “It must be hard, going without... that... for so long. Do you want to make use of me? Possess me? Violate me?”

            “H-how did you get over here?” I managed, slowly backing away, deeper into the lake. My mind spun, trying to figure out if this turn of events was real, or some kind of trap.

            “I swam, of course,” she softly, “How else? I am going to be dead soon. If someone could enjoy this body, it may as well be you.”

            When I was up to my neck, Kythaela kicked off the bottom of the lake, and wrapped her arms around my neck, and her legs around my torso, lightly clinging to me as a child or a lover might. I realized I did want her, badly, as I felt the hot bar of my erection pressed between us. Kythaela's eyes seemed larger in the moonlight, deep and mysterious.

            “I-I'm sure, I mean, you're an elf, surely you're not going to die soon.”

            She looked away. “Sure,” was all she offered as a response.

            “A-anyway, isn't this a little forward for a princess?” I responded, extending my arms out to give us some stability, so I wouldn't lose my footing. “Y-you should go back, I'm sure Haseth will be here any moment.”

            “Why won't you use me?” she asked, wiggling her hips in a way that sent shivers up my spine. “All I am is meat, and you seem nice... so just fuck me already.”

            Abruptly it occurred to me that Kythaela wasn't doing anything. It was taking all of my attention to remain standing and reply to her, and she had her teeth and arms within easy reach of my neck... she wasn't some kind of monster, or possessed, or something strange like that. She was... something that had never been described in any Monster Manual that I've ever read. The constant unfocused stares, her complete detachment from anything except what Haseth told her to do... it was all adding up.

            “Listen, Kythaela...” I said, swallowing hard, “I won't pretend that you aren't beautiful. I mean, you can tell that I'm attract to you, but, uh... you're sick, Kythaela. You've been through a lot, I mean, a lot of terrible things have been done to you, and whatever you think you should do... I don't want you to die, and I don't want to have sex with you. At least, not when you're like this.”

            Now I was mentally flailing even more. There was no challenge rating for “elves with PTSD”, no entry in a book somewhere covering this situation, I didn't even know if there was a “cure mental illness” spell in AD&D.

            “I'm not good enough for you?” Kythaela asked, staring at me with those dark, mysterious eyes of hers.

            “N-no, I mean, you are,” I replied, “It's just that... I don't want it to be like this, with you throwing yourself at me, acting like what you choose to do with your body doesn't matter. You're not going to die, I promise. Not by your hand, or anyone else's.” I sighed. “All I want right now is for you to live, and get better, if you can. I-If you're in your right mind, and you still want to do this later, then let's, uh, revisit the issue.”

            I felt Kythaela shuddering as she cling to me, and I wasn't sure if she was was crying or shivering. I ground my toes into the lake bottom, and pushed forward, somehow managing to swim over to where it was shallower, and staying upright was less of a problem. The motion made her cling to me even tighter, and once I was on more solid footing, I wrapped my arms around and just held her in my arms, as she silently trembled.

            ---------------------------

            Character Name: Theodore Esche
            Race: Human
            Class: Transmuter
            Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
            Hit Points: 7/7

            Ability Scores
            Strength 11
            Dexterity 17
            Constitution 8
            Intelligence 17
            Wisdom 13
            Charisma 14

            Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
            Nonweapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

            Spells Per Day:
            1st Level- 3
            2nd Level- 2

            Spellbook:
            (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
            (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

            Spells Prepared:
            (1st Level): Featherfall, Mending, Tenser's Floating Disc
            (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

            Equipment: Belt, Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots, Darts (23), Robes, Dagger, 5 Unidentified Gems, Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Pearl (worth 100gp), Rations (10 meals), Robes (2), Signet Ring, Wedding Ring, Small Tent, Oil of Acid Resistance, mint green potion, Potion of Rainbow Hues

            Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

            Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

            Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage), Sorrel (Squire)

            Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler)

            Sexual Partners: 5

            Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
            Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
            Currently Working On: Banter and chats
            Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

            Comment


            • #96
              Chapter 82: Isekai Life & Elven Kingdom

              “There you are, princess! Thank the gods!”

              “It's alright, Sir Haseth, what's the matter? I was enjoying finally getting to have a little swim....”

              The words of elvish faded as I swam back to where I was supposed to be bathing, as silently as I could. Kythaela and I ended up, I don't know, cuddling I guess? For quite awhile, until we heard the sounds of Haseth calling her name in the distance.

              “You really think I'm not going to die?”

              “I promise.”

              Those were our parting words, although I was a little uneasy about it. It seemed like quite a promise to make, but it also seemed like what the princess needed to hear at that time. I don't know if it was right for me to take that responsibility... but, I guess I just had to.

              When I spotted by dark pile of clothing on the beach, I swam up and flopped onto by back in the shallows. With the water surrounding all around me, I grabbed my cock and masturbated with a ferocity that, well, men who three different lovers rarely knew.

              Can you blame me? “Violate me, use me...” That was like catnip, and fit exactly into my personal fetishes. The princess was not exactly my body type but she was still very attractive. If it wasn't for the general weirdness of the situation, maybe my behaviour would have been different... but in order to treat her tomorrow with the kindness that she required, it demanded that right now I think about how good it would feel to have her riding my cock and looking at me with her dark liquid eyes, half-lidded and aroused.... This wasn't just self-gratification, it was almost like an exorcism for my lust.

              When I was finished, I washed off all the semen in the lake, which felt a little like I was violating a sacred place. I felt kind of dirty in general, having to do that, but at least a certain kind of pressure was off. For now.

              What exactly did I even get myself into, I wondered?.

              When I returned to camp, Kythaela was already wrapped up in blankets and laying with her back to the fire- I guess the cold lake water took it's toll of her, after all. I nodded to Haseth. “Are you going to wash, now?”

              “No point washing in the dark,” he said, “We'll have to dally in the morning for me and the rest of the women to get cleaned up.”

              Huh, I guess that's right, Yua and Sorrel didn't wash up either, I guess trying to give Kythaela her space.

              I dragged my bedroll over close to the fire, and settled down for the night. As usual, Yua moved her own bedroll closer to mine, not close enough to be considered intimate, but close enough I could roll over, reach and touch her. I guess she was just looking out for her lord.

              I thought sleep would prove evasive after all that, but all the travel had left me saddle-sore and weary. It didn't take long for me to black out.

              The next day, I slept late as usual. Because Haseth, Yua and Sorrel didn't have a chance to bathe, we we're in a hurry to leave, and for lack of anything better to do Voss ended up making all the preparations himself. When I finally roused myself, it was to a campsite that was already mostly packed up. I expected things to be awkward with Kythaela... but if she felt anything about the previous night, she made no sign, simply giving me a polite “good morning” and then staring off into space like usual. It was a little surreal, after the previous night.

              “Finally we get to join back up with Calliope, huh?” Voss asked as he helps me strap my bedroll in place behind Snacks' saddle.

              “Yeah, I'm a little nervous,” I replied, grateful for the opportunity to distract myself from Princess Kythaela, “It's been awhile.”

              “Really?” he snorted in response, “You'll do fine. No doubt you'll already find her-”

              “Be careful what you say, Sir Voss,” I interrupted him, “There is a lady present.”

              He grimaced. “Still... what do you think are the chances there will be any single elf-maids around?”

              I shrugged. “Pretty good, probably? Only one way to find out.”

              “True enough.”

              When camp was finally packed up, and all our errant bathers had dried and dressed, we headed up into the forested hills of the Sea of Willows. As Haseth and Kythaela lead us through, our path took us up winding trails, going climbing up the occasional incline, as if this terrain was once a series of carefully cultivated terraces that have since begun to fade into the natural terrain. Clouds of butterflies with wings of rust-brown and yellow danced lazily in the gaps between the trees, and our hoof-beats and the creak of the wagon axles seemed somehow muffled by the trees, highlighting the strangely harmonious song of birds. It really did feel like we were travelling into an enchanted land.

              Sorrel sighed wistfully as only teenage girls can. “It's beautiful... I had no idea that a land like this was so near my home.”

              “It is,” Kythaela responded, “I love this place.”

              “These trees were planted at the height of the old empire,” Haseth explained, “And with them, the spells that enhanced the natural beauty of the land. The gates to the core of our kingdom were designed to delight and entrance our citizens.”

              “Enjoy it for what it is,” Kythaela finished, “But hold in your hearts this lesson- that even the wicked long to create things of lasting beauty. Judge a society not by their monuments, but by their actions.”

              We all fell silent. I was left to contemplate how it must feel to be a relatively “young” mist elf, living in the ruins of a great but terrible empire. No wonder that so many of them wanted to rebuild what they had, no matter how awful it was.

              When we reached the apex of the ridge we were climbing, elven warriors with dark green cloaks and hoods seemed to melt out of the shadows to surround us. Their archers had arrows knocked, but not drawn, and their warriors had hands on weapons but did not draw. Their leader approached Haseth and Kythaela, and knelt before his princess. I strained to listen in on their conversation.

              The first part of their conversation in elvish seemed to be some kind of formal exchange.

              “Your Grace. For you, ever does the way stand open, for that is why the sentinel waits and the watch-fire burns.”

              “We who stand in the light give thanks, for the burning wood never grows and the sentinel does not slumber,” Kythaela replied.

              Then, they moved to a less formal tone: “You have been missed, Princess. It would be my honour to see you escorted before the Throne of Mist.”

              Kythaela gave a wan smile. “As you can see, I have escorts aplenty. The gateway to our home should no go undefended.”

              The leader of the guards eyed us warily, and when he saw me watching him, shot me a glare. “Word has come from the High Commander that no humans are to enter the vale. I would assume this applies to gnomes as well, and... other species.”

              Haseth opened his mouth as if to speak, but Kythaela silenced him with a hand on his shoulder. Instead, she spoke for herself. “Has my father given you any commands in that regard, captain?”

              The leader of the guards winced, and shook his head, defeated. “No, Your Grace.”

              The difference in Kythaela's bearing as she drew herself up was almost staggering. She straightened her back, tilted her nose up, and looked down at the guard captain imperiously. “Then you will allow my guests to pass unharmed. They have done more to protect my person than any sentinel has in years,” she commanded in a way that put 'sentinel' on roughly the same level as 'pig farmer', “And I will not allow them to experience any affront to their honour while within my father's kingdom.”

              That was also when I realized that “Sentinel” was a proper noun to the mist elves. It must be another kind of order within the mist elf army, and I idly wondered how they would stack up to the Ravenwatch.

              “Your Grace...” the Sentinel captain said, shaking his head, “My men have families. I have a family, a young wife, you know what may-”

              “Then honour your family by letting my guests through.”

              The captain winced again, by waved his hand and shouted a command. “The guests of Princess Kythaela shall pass!” With extreme reluctance, the other Sentinels stood down and back away, some of them shooting glares at their vacillating commander.

              Once we had travelled sufficiently through the foliage that we were out of sight of the checkpoint, Kythaela slumped in her saddle, as if intimidating the Sentinel captain had taken something physically out of her. Haseth reached out a hand to steady her, but after last night, well, I felt a little personal responsibility towards her, so I heeled Snacks forward to catch up to them.

              Haseth was whispering something to her that I couldn't make up, but when I caught up he stopped and gave me a startled look. Kythaela tried to sit up straighter in her saddle. “Theodore,” she said at once, “I apologize for the Sentinels' rudeness. They should not have advanced like that on my guests and treated you with such hostility.”

              “Oh, I don't care about that,” I replied, “I'm worried about you. That seemed to take a lot out of you.”

              “Oh.” It was Kythaela's turn to look a little surprised. “Ah, I'm sorry, it's just... confident is the last thing I feel right now, never mind acting... royal, or authoritative. There's....” She bit her lip, looking anxious. “Just... you don't have to keep your promise, alright? There 's a very good chance that you won't be able to.”

              That was a shock to hear. Did she fear some kind of assassination? “Well, if it's all the same, Princess, I should like to try anyway. You've been through a great deal of hardship, and I'd like to help if I could.”

              She gave me a wan smile. “Thank you, Theodore. Perhaps it will be unnecessary.”

              I was at a loss or what to say right then, so I just gave her a friendly nod and fell back to my previous position in the marching order. As I slowed Snacks, I could hear Haseth and Kythaela whispering in elvish.

              “What promise did he make you, Princess?”

              “It is nothing, Haseth.”

              Raszil gave me a raised eyebrow as I settled back into place. I could understand why, we had been travelling almost exclusively as two groups who happen to be sharing the same road and same fires for most of the way there, and suddenly I was doting on Kythaela. I just shook my head at him, though. I didn't want to explain, and there was going to be enough to distract him soon enough.

              Abruptly, we came upon a gently curving road paved with some kind of polished blue stones, quartz perhaps. Haseth guided us onto the road, and as we travelled, slowly the endless willow trees gave way to more signs of civilization. Here and there, through the woods, I could see distant buildings made of some kind of sparkling white brick. You'd think the elements would wear away the rock used in the construction and the shininess of the polish would dull, but whatever magic that was used on the Sea of Willows must have also been used on the elves' constructions.

              The buildings slowly grew more and more frequent, until seemingly out of nowhere we were in the downtown of the Mist Elf capital. The road turned around one of the elegant, slope-sided white stone buildings, and suddenly the lane was surrounded by shops, larger homes, and a network of branching blue stone roadways, all of which had been artfully hidden by the trees and foliage. All around us, dark-haired elves went about their daily business, although there were a few gasps and a bit of commotion as the people going about their day realized who we were. After the incident with the Sentinels, I am very sure that their Princess at the head of a small group of humans, a gnome and a dragonborn was scandalous.

              As we weaved through the streets of the town, I was struck by how normal it all was. For all the elves liked to put on airs sometimes, and for all that we were surrounded by carefully crafted beauty in the form of the streets, the trees and the buildings, what people were actually doing remained the same. Here a forge rang with the sound of hammers on steel, there was a tavern that filled the air with rancorous singing and the bustling sounds of people drinking and merrymaking together, and there again a white stone stable where a farrier was bent to the task of measuring a horse's hooves for shoes.

              When then the castle came into view, I was awestruck again. A massive shining white dome rose above the trees, decorated with golden, twisting branches and blue stone leaves. Two huge wings swept forward from the main building, enclosing a circular courtyard on three sides. The open side of the courtyard was enclosed by a silver fence and a simple gate, guarded by yet more elven Sentinels. How a building so massive was hidden in this forest could only be chalked up to whatever geographic magic had been used on the whole vale.

              The Sentinels bade us halt as we drew nearer to the palace, and bowed deeply to Princess Kythaela. They exchanged some words, but unlike the guards we encountered earlier, for these Sentinels there was no questioning, no disobedience. One went running immediately at Kythaela's order, and the other waved us through the gate.

              Haseth lead us through to a side building in the courtyard that served as a stable. It was surprisingly locked down, with silver bars over the windows and barred gates at every entrance. A male and female pair of stablehands greeted us politely, and helped us unpack and unsaddle the horses. The stablehands took away our horses for a good brushing down, and Haseth waved us all aside to where he and Kythaela were standing with another trio of elven servants, two women and a man, in purple and blue livery.

              “Thank you again for seeing me home, my friends,” Kythaela told us with a nod. “I must meet with my father and brothers immediately, but this is Siora, Dara and Lewel. They are trusted servants of my house, Siora was practically a sister when I was younger, and they will be pleased to show you to the guest wing. We will see you again tonight, as I'm sure that father will want to have a state dinner to thank you.”
              Siora was a slender girl- well, I say girl even though she's probably at least eighty, but in terms of her body she would seem like a human teenager- who kept her shiny black hair short and tucked behind a demure cream scarf. She didn't have Kythaela's large, liquid eyes, and had high cheekbones that get her a more sophisticated look than even her mistress. Of her companions, Dara was a cheerful and slightly chubbier elf wearing a similar uniform, and Lewel was a tall, severe man who seemed a little snooty.

              Introductions made, Siora and Dara offered a curtsy while Lewel bowed deeply at his waist. “Please, no doubt you are tired from such a long journey,” Siora offered in a smooth, breathy voice, speaking barely accented Common, “We will be happy to attend to your needs while you are here.”

              “Well, uh, alright,” I answered, but then directed my attention to Kythaela. “You're going to be alright, right?”

              The princess gave me a smile that never quite touched her eyes. “Of course. I am home, what danger could possibly befall me? Excuse me.”

              She left, heading with Haseth towards the main entrance. Siora and company were already heading towards one of the wings, so there was nothing to do but follow.

              We were guided up to the second floor on the wing, and each of us was directed to separate rooms. All off of the same hall. I couldn't really comment on the others', but my room was relatively simple, if luxurious- a sitting room and antechamber with a fireplace, desk and small library, and beyond that a large bedroom dominated by a huge four-poster bed, a washstand, and a heavy chest for my belongings.

              Lewel had been the one to show me around my room. “A bath and tea will be brought up shortly, sir,” he informed me, “If you require anything else, Siora and Dara will be just out in the hall. I generally will be available at nights, if there is anything sir requires after dark.”

              “Uh, there is something, if you don't mind,” I asked as I stripped the saddlebags from my shoulders and got ready to unpack, “There should be another human staying here, a woman named Calliope....”

              “Ah, of course, sir,” Lewel replied with a short bow. “Forgive me. I understand Lady Calliope has asked after you often, though her activities rarely intersect with my shift. Although if you don't mine my saying so, sir,” he added with a wrinkle of his nose, “You may wish to bathe and await the services of the royal tailor before you complete your reunion.”

              “I... thank you,” was all I could reply. I felt a rush warm rush of relief, as if some tension deep in my gut and in my shoulders had just unwound all at once. Calliope had survived being revived.

              It also occurred to me that I had just bathed the night before, although I suppose rinsing off dirt in a wild lake in the middle of nowhere left a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness. “I'll do that.”

              So I unpacked and waited patiently for the bathing equipment to arrive. With little else to do, I drew Calliope's dagger and made sure it was clean, and there was no dried blood or anything in the corners and recesses. I pulled her spellbook out of my saddlebag, laid the dagger on top, and set them aside.

              Finally, after half an hour, the tub arrived, a great copper cauldron six feet across being carried by Lewel and a half-dozen other servants. They set it up on the tiled floor on the antechamber, and soon a stream of various servant with steaming buckets of hot water came through to fill the tub. I was half expecting some sort of magical means of heating the water, but I guess even the elves have to do this thing the hard way.

              Once the tub was most of the way full, and the servants had mostly gone, Lewel gave me another of his deep bows. “There you are, sir,” he said, “Soap is wrapped in wax paper on the floor, and the tailor shall be around just outside of an hour. I will withdraw from your service until tonight. Farewell.”

              As soon as he was gone, I stripped out of my travel stained robes and happily slipped into the warm water. After a week without proper hot water, it felt divine. I closed my eyes and simply soaked for awhile, deciding that despite his snooty looks, maybe Lewel wasn't so bad after all.

              I felt I must have dozed, suspended in the water, steaming water, and relaxing from the long journey here. All the aches from spending so much time ahorse seemed to be diffused away by the water itself, and even without even touching the cake of soap that was left for me I somehow felt cleaner already. I was only roused from my stupor when I heard the door to the hall open. “Oh, the tailor, right?” I asked, without opening my eyes, “I'm not quite ready yet, sorry, why don't you go see one of the others?”

              A familiar, feminine voice replied, “I don't want any of the others.”

              I immediately sat up, splashing water down to the tiled floor. There she was, whole and healthy, her hair tied back with a frilled ribbon and wearing a royal blue courtly gown with a long flared skirt. Calliope gave me a warm smile. “Of course, if you don't want me anymore, I could leave. I know it's been awhile, my prince, but you haven't forgotten me already.”

              “I, uh....” I wanted to get up and hug her, but I was sopping wet and still hadn't even cleaned besides. “Sorry, but Lewel, the butler, he recommended that I get proper clean before finding you, and, well....”

              Calliope giggled and shook her head. “You remember I was raised on a farm, right? My first crush before you was an older farmhand who smelled like a barn and had the dirt on his hand so worked in that it wouldn't even come out with soap.” She sashayed over to me, leaning over the tub to kiss me. I kissed her back, relishing the feeling of the softness of her lips, her tongue slipping into my mouth and mingling with my own. I could feel myself hardening in the warm water.

              When she finally broke the kiss, it was only to plant a second one on my forehead. “I missed you so, Theodore. Dying was... frightening. All I can remember about it is a cold, dark nothingness.” She shook her head, as if that would dispel the bad memory. “And when I came back, it was to strangers. The only thing I wanted was to return to you, but they wouldn't just send me back on a griffon, not knowing exactly where you were. I even begged to go on to Pendleton, and at least meet up with Ashryn and Katriana, but they all but outright said I was being held prisoner for the return of that princess.”

              “I missed you, too,” I said, but it didn't seem like enough. “As soon as you were gone, I knew I just had to cut right to the core of the problem. I couldn't stand anything else. I'm just... I'm just so happy to have you back.”

              Calliope smiled at me, and caressed my cheek. “I'd love to get reacquainted properly... but we're not going to have a lot of time until tonight, if what Siora told me about dinner is true. I promise, tonight we'll have all the private time we need to catch up.” Her eyes went to the door to my bedroom. “Did you remember to bring my things?”

              “Oh, yes, they're in the chest, although I pulled out a few important things and set them aside for you.” I frowned a little, though. It was a little bit of a letdown to find out she was prioritizing getting her stuff back.

              Calliope smiled, took one more moment to caress my chest, and kissed me again. “Please don't be jealous, Theodore,” she said, intuiting what I was think, “Later, I promise. I've had a long time to think about what I've wanted to... to communicate to you, and I'm looking forward to catching up.”

              She gave me one last kiss and went to retrieve her things. I went for the soap. All of a sudden, I had a lot to look forward to.

              ---------------------------

              Character Name: Theodore Esche
              Race: Human
              Class: Transmuter
              Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
              Hit Points: 7/7

              Ability Scores
              Strength 11
              Dexterity 17
              Constitution 8
              Intelligence 17
              Wisdom 13
              Charisma 14

              Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
              Non-weapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

              Spells Per Day:
              1st Level- 3
              2nd Level- 2

              Spellbook:
              (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
              (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

              Spells Prepared:
              (1st Level): Featherfall, Mending, Tenser's Floating Disc
              (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

              Equipment: Belt, Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots, Darts (23), Robes, Dagger, 5 Unidentified Gems, Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Pearl (worth 100gp), Rations (10 meals), Robes (2), Signet Ring, Wedding Ring, Small Tent, Oil of Acid Resistance, mint green potion, Potion of Rainbow Hues

              Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

              Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

              Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage), Sorrel (Squire)

              Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler)

              Sexual Partners: 5

              Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
              Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
              Currently Working On: Banter and chats
              Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

              Comment


              • #97
                Chapter 83: Isekai Life & State Dinner

                After the bath was done the royal tailor had come and gone, I was outfitted with a new set of clothes that I wasn't entirely comfortable with. I suppose it was true to the setting, but first I was given a set of black hose- a tight clingy pair of pants that were more or less pantyhose, only it wasn't sheer. After months of wearing nothing but robes, the close fabric was hot, itchy and tight in all the whole places. On top on that I was to wear a puffy-sleeved red tunic, which was at least long enough to cover my ass, and a heavy leather belt with bronze studs. They even had given me a new pair of freshly shined boots to wear to dinner. Compared to my usual daily wear, it felt tight and suffocating, but on the other hand....

                With the tailor came Dara, looking to gather up my clothes for the laundry. After weeks of fighting goblins and travelling on horseback, they were stained and faded and probably smelled as bad as the rest of me. The only thing they weren't was threadbare or torn- my Mending spell had been put to work frequently during the easier days of our travels to ensure that our clothes weren't falling to tatters- but the cheerful maid clicked her tongue over them nonetheless. But, at least it was being taken care of. She even offered to take my hat and try to scrub a few of the stains out of it, which was fine by me. It had never even occurred to me that a hat would need washing from time to time.

                Following all that, I had a little time before dinner, so I figured it was as good a time as any to clean out my bags. I spread everything out on the bed, and took careful inventory. I had snacked through my personal store of iron rations on the road here, but the bottom of my bag was littered with old nuts and dried berries that I was happen to tip out into the chamberpot. My mostly-unused lantern was a little dinged up from travel, and my hand mirror had developed a small crack, but it was tactical hand mirror anyway and would still function just fine.

                Since I still didn't have a lock or the Wizard Lock spell, I couldn't anything about my valuable other than trust they still be here. Kythaela seemed to trust these servants, so I decided that I ought to as well, and simply left all my belongings spread out on my bed while I tried in vain to purify the stink of my leather backpack with a bit of leftover soap and my washstand, careful not to splash on my fancy new clothing.

                Soon after giving up on that, Dara knocked on my door and announced my formal invite to dine with the royal family. I silently thanked Dog that among the conveniences of “my Heaven” included that my hands didn't become chafed or peeling after all that scrubbing, and went to join my allies who were gathering in the hall.

                As usual, I was the last to arrive. I never realized how slow I was to get ready in my life before becoming Theodore, but I guess that's because I was unused to people wanting to wait for me. I didn't exactly have friends then.

                Voss and Raszil were dressed basically like I was, though Raszil's tunic was far too long for his body and dangled down below his knees. Voss' tunic was a dark forest green while Raszil's was a bright blue. Sorrel was wearing a blue dress that hung on her underdeveloped figure in an awkward way that kind of reminded me of cheap prom dresses. Calliope was dressed as she was before, although she had added a gold inlaid choker that it took me a moment to realize was the choker I had given her months before. She barely wore it except occasionally to bed with me, so I was a little surprised to see it out now.

                But Yua was a revelation. When we first met her, she was scrawny and badly malnourished to a point where the hunger endured by Kythaela could be called a “rough week”. Recovering was a slow process, especially given how much energy she had to be burning as an adventurer, but over the month or so since then she had begun filling out to a noticeable degree. It was easy to overlook given how she wore Katriana's old scale mail pretty much all the time, but now she was in a pale yellow dress. A tailored dress that expertly followed her curves, and showed off just how sensual her figure was. The dress pushed up her bust at the top, with only a scrap of lace to hide her cleavage, and she was surprisingly busty, easily beating Calliope's modest chest. Her waist was pleasingly tight, though with the strength that Yua has displayed on occasion I would be willing to bet she had a decent set of abs under there. The dress then followed the wide curve of her hips and her full thighs before finally melting into a flared skirt. She looked incredible.

                Adding to the overall effect was the fact that she was blushing furiously, staring at the floor, and fidgeting with her skirt. It was pretty adorable.

                I tried to tear my sight away from the adorable dragon girl and focus on Calliope. I strode over to her, and took her hands in mine. “You look gorgeous,” I told her, “I'm happy to see you wearing that.”

                Calliope smiled shyly and giggled. “You have a strange idea of what I consider important. I understood the spellbook, but... you know that dagger is just a belt knife I stole from my brother when I was twelve, right? It's the least important thing in the world to me.”

                I was taken a little aback by that. “Well... I guess it ended up being important to me,” I explained lamely.

                “Well, I hope it protected you and served you well,” she replied.

                I was trying to think of what to say in reply, when Raszil cleared his throat noisily. I looked up in time to see Siora approaching us.

                “Excellent, I'm happy to see that you all are ready,” she said, “The tailor has done his work, then, good. Please, come this way.”

                And so, we were whisked off through the halls of the palace, lead by the maid Siora. I realized that I was actually quite hungry, and that with everything going on I had missed lunch entirely. But while I was busy thinking about my stomach, Raszil, who evidently had other things on his mind, hurried forward to walk next to the elven maid.

                “Pardon me, miss, but I was wondering who precisely we were going to be having dinner with,” he asked.

                “His Majesty the King, of course, as well as Princess Kythaela and the rest of the royal family.,” the maid responded, “Also some high officials of the court. The High Commander, Prime Minster, High Priest and the Court Wizard.”

                “I see,” Raszil replied, “And, please, neither myself nor my companions would want to make offence, which of these people should we expect not give us a warm welcome to table?”

                Siora paused. “Of course it is not for me to cast aspersions on the royal court, you understand,” she replied, after a short hesitation.

                “Of course.”

                “But His Grace the second Prince and the Court Wizard should be glad to see you, seeing as how you returned Princess Kythaela to us.”

                I grimaced. If I was reading between the lines correctly, that would mean that the majority of these high officials were racist against humans, if not actually part of this conspiracy we suspect might be behind the deadly storms.

                Calliope, who had taken my arm for the trip, leaned close and whispered in my ear. “Court Wizard Ailluin has been a particular good host for me. He has even offered to give me some tutelage in new spells, once I had my spellbooks back.”

                I frowned. “I hope he hasn't given you too many private lessons....”

                She gently squeezed my arm in response. “Now, now, don't be jealous. He is a friend, and possibly an ally. Besides, I am not here wearing his collar, now am I?”

                That did settle my jealousy somewhat. I was a little surprised at how strong the urge was when it arose. I guess I'm just a bit hypocritical about my women.

                Eventually the tiled floor gave way to polished marble, as we left the wing of the palace and entered the central hub. Siora lead us up a flight of stairs and into a massive hall right under the interior of the dome. The room was lit by the fading sun, reflected into the chamber by cunningly placed bronze panels in the shapes of heroes and animals engaged in an eternal hunt around the inside of the dome. Surrounding the room were columns, between which were suspended tapestries of what I assumed were important moments in mist elf history, coronations, weddings, and speeches.

                In the centre of the room, a long stone table was being set by servants. Already seated were three elven men, though none of them occupied the royal seats at the head of the table. They all had the characteristic glossy black hair, and wore fancy courtier outfits. One of them, wearing a dark blue half-cape and a cream coloured tunic, rose and smiled broadly, heading towards us. The other two, wearing forest green and a very light grey respectively, glanced our way but remain seated.

                “Ah, Miss Calliope,” the mist elf approaching us said, reaching out to take her hand and kiss it. She smiled warmly at him in response. “And this must be the most famous Theodore,” he followed, offering me a hand to shake, “It is a pleasure to finally meet you. And this must be the mighty Sir Voss, the indomitable Raszil, and this lovely lady the mysterious Yua. Welcome, welcome. I am Ailluin of House Miarix, humble court wizard to His Grace. I do not know the young woman there, but I am honoured to make your acquaintance as well.”

                The man's rapid-fire pace of introducing himself to all of us was a little overwhelming, but as I shook his hand in return I tried to recover. Before I could reply, he had already moved on, however.

                “This is Sorrel, my squire,” Voss was explaining, while Ailluin seemed to be focused on them. Meanwhile, I noticed, another mist elf, this time a women in a bright green dress decorated with bronze embroidery, joined the two remaining seated at the table.

                When the court wizard's pompous introductions were over, he lead us over to the table. “Please, Sir Voss, Master Theodore, allow me to introduce you to rest of of His Grace's highest advisors,” he said, gesturing at the other three elves. “This is High Priest Travaran of House Trisric, High Commander Sundamar of House Beirin, and last but far from least, our esteemed Prime Minister Caeda Vasys.”

                The High Priest and High Commander gave us tight, unfriendly nods of greeting. I could tell them apart by their hairstyle- the man I assume was the High Commander had a short military cut, but the High Priest had long, wavy locks that he held back from his face with a silver circlet, but flowed own the rest of his head in a thick cascade. Now we were closer, I could see there were badges pinned to their chests, the High Commander a blackbird on a white background, and the High Priest a green tree with outspread branches on a field of pale yellow.

                The woman, whose own hair was bound in a tight bun, offered a warmer smile. She was definitely on the older side for an elf, with fine crow's feet former at the corners of her eyes despite her ageless elven features. Her dress was fine but conservative, and her badge was a rust red dragon on brown.“I've been told you are the people we have to thank for bringing our itinerant princess back to us. Thank you for your service. It is uncommon to find such bravery, prowess and kindness among your kind.”

                “Uh... thank you,” I replied, ducking my head in acknowledgement. I was content to leave it at that, but not everyone felt the same.

                “Thank you, Minister Caeda,” Raszil replied, sitting up straight enough on his vastly oversized chair to give her a positively venomous smile across the place settings, “We count ourselves very fortunate to be here, being feted by the legendary hospitality of the elves.”

                The Prime Minister's expression sharpened like a knife. She opened her mouth to respond, but that's when one of the door opened, admitting a herald who, in elven, announced, “Presenting, Princess Kythaela! Prince Falaen! Prince Alwyn! His Majesty, Kindroth Ilistina, the Mist-King!”

                We all rose, of course- that part of protocol was the same here as elsewhere. The royal family entered in procession, the children in ascending order of birth, followed by the king himself. Kythaela was wearing a lilac purple and blue gown that seemed much better suited to her figure than Sorrel's, despite having a similar lack of curves. Her layered skirt compensated for her lack of hips, and a strapless bodice would have to be tight even on a busty woman, so it pushed up what little assets she had. Her two older brother wore outfits similar to the rest of the men, in the same purple and silver colour scheme, but with badges featuring a blue fox on a background of that same shade of light purple. Kythaela's brothers were of a pair, nearly identical as far as I could tell. The younger brother had an easy smile and an air of grace, while the elder had a strict, grim look and a prominent birthmark near the corner of his mouth. Kythaela herself... had the same expression she ever did, but now her eyes were downcast, focused on the floor a few feet in front of her.

                The king was an older, somehow more severe version of his eldest son. His ensemble was topped with a heavy velvet cape and, of course, a silver crown studded with black onyx. As his daughter and two sons took up their proper positions at the table, the came a stood before the high seat.

                “Welcome, councillors and friends alike. Today is a momentous occasion. My daughter, Princess Kythaela, has been returned to me,” he announced in a deep, booming voice. “The people who have to thank for this are the ever-vigilant Ravenwatch, and these handful of strangers, who put their lives at risk to rescue my daughter from peril. Please, your fallen friend has been returned to you, so let us enjoy dinner tonight as friends.”

                We muttered our thanks. Despite his kind words, it was still a chilly atmosphere, with these officials frowning at us. But it was nice that he was granting us a reward in addition to raising Calliope.

                The king sat, and gestured for everyone else to sit also. The only one who refused was the elder Prince.

                “Forgive me, father, but something has put me off my food,” he said imperiously, “Something in here smells... rank. I'll take my meal in the solar.”

                The king gave the prince a stern look, narrowing his eyes. I braced myself for an argument to break out, but the king simply waved a hand and slumped in his chair. “Very well,” was the only response.

                “If it pleases Your Majesty, a member of the royal family shouldn't dine alone,” The High Commander said, also standing.

                “Yes, yes, fine,” the king allowed, waving his hand to dismiss the commander as he and the prince left. “Well, now, let's get on with the dinner.”

                The dinner was miserably awkward from there. I don't think anyone enjoyed themselves. On our end of the table, it was quite clear to my companions and I that we were not wanted by the majority of people here. Of the remaining three members of the royal court, two of them very obviously did not want us here, either.

                Dinner was surprisingly sparse. I'm not sure what I expected, but there wasn't really a main course so much as a long line of salads and vegetable dishes, accompanied by nuts and delicate cheeses. It was delicious, certainly, and I ate more than my fill, but after so long it felt really odd not to eat a meal that wasn't centred on a course involving meat or bread in some form.

                There wasn't a lot of conversation until dessert was served, some kind of baked apple half, roasted in honey and topped with melty cheese that tasted pretty close to brie. That was when the remaining prince chose to speak up, giving me a friendly smile down the dinner table. “How long are our heroes going to be staying? I think it would be appropriate if you were to hold an official ceremony thanking them, don't you think, Father? Perhaps on the morrow?”

                The king cleared his throat. “I had thought to give you all a reward for the return of my daughter,” he said thoughtfully, “Perhaps a ceremony before the court would be appropriate, to thank you all. I shall have to think on how to best thank you all.”

                “Um,” interjected Sorrel, “I didn't really do anything, so, please, skip me when it comes to rewards.”

                “And so humble!” Prince Falaen replied with approval. “Surely, Father, we must celebrate such grand adventurers.”

                “Yes, I should think so,” the king agreed, “You can enjoy the last few days of summer here, and when you choose to leave I'll see you amply rewarded for the return of Kythaela.”

                “Thank you, Your Grace,” I replied carefully, but before I continue I was interrupted by the sound of a fist slamming on the table.

                The High Priest stood, looking at the king. “I must protest, Your Majesty. I cannot abide this any longer,” he said in elven, pointing a finger in my direction. “The only reward they have earned is perhaps their lives. Bad enough that you asked me to arrange for the raising of your other pet human. Their unclean presence befouls our sacred soil, and to give them what rightfully belongs to our people as a reward is a foolish waste akin to showering a dog with gold. I beg of your grace, please dispose of your... guests... before they taint our land further!”

                Silence reigned. We all froze. The king, who looks so powerful at the beginning of the meal when he strode into the room, was staring at his hands, as if wishing that the situation would just go away.

                “Please, Priest Travaran, these people saved my sister's life,” the prince replied when it became clear his father didn't intend to reply. “Does Princess Kythaela's life mean so little to you?”

                “Does it mean so much to you?” the priest accused in return. “Perhaps a month ago, before Kythaela disappeared with her bodyguard, but who knows what 'rewards' she has already doled out to her rescuers in the time since. The lust and perversion of the human species is quite well known.”

                “What precisely are you implying?”

                “I imply nothing!” the priest roared, “I am outright telling you, humans do nothing without promise of reward! They are nothing but greedy, lustful savages, this is well known. There are two human men here and If they have escorted the princess here, then likely they have already helped themselves.” He switched to pointing at Kythaela. “I accuse Princess Kythaela of the crime of high treason, for offering her body to her so-called 'rescuers' and thereby defiling the royal bloodline. She is nothing but a whore for humans, whose presence is as filthy and intolerable as the rest!”

                A lot of things happened at once. Voss rose to his feet, hands balled into fists, and started moving around the table towards the High Priest. Prince Falaen began shouting something, but I wasn't paying attention to what it was, because Kythaela put her head in her hands and began wailing loudly. Calliope glanced in my direction, but I had no idea what to do.

                I heard the chanting of magic, and Ailluin gestured, and an unseen force whisked Voss off his feet and left him hanging in the air a foot off the ground, unable to move any closer to the High Priest. This didn't get unnoticed by him, who now gestured at Voss and entreated the king, “Wee? Look at what these barbarians have tried to do in your presence, violating the sanctity of your hospitality. Your Grace, throw these dogs out of our sacred home and have your daughter examined for violation as the Old Law demands!”

                “Enough!” The king roared, rising from the table, “I have had it! The lot of you, get out! Falaen, see your sister to her room, and servants, bring our guests back to their chambers! As for you, Travaran, we will deal with your accusations on the morrow, but for now I have had enough!”

                ---------------------------

                Character Name: Theodore Esche
                Race: Human
                Class: Transmuter
                Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
                Hit Points: 7/7

                Ability Scores
                Strength 11
                Dexterity 17
                Constitution 8
                Intelligence 17
                Wisdom 13
                Charisma 14

                Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
                Non-weapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

                Spells Per Day:
                1st Level- 3
                2nd Level- 2

                Spellbook:
                (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
                (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                Spells Prepared:
                (1st Level): Featherfall, Mending, Tenser's Floating Disc
                (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                Equipment: Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Belt (2), Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots (2), Darts (23), Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Oil of Acid Resistance, Pearl (worth 100gp), Potion of Rainbow Hues, Robes (3), Signet Ring, Small Tent, Tunic and Hose, Unidentified Gems (5), Unidentified Mint Green Potion, Wedding Ring

                Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

                Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

                Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Sorrel (Squire)

                Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage)

                Sexual Partners: 5

                Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
                Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
                Currently Working On: Banter and chats
                Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

                Comment


                • #98
                  Chapter 84: Isekai Life & Stark Realities

                  “Well, that was just short of a disaster,” Raszil muttered, eyeing Voss as we were escorted through the halls of the Mist King's palace, escorted by Siora... and now two armed guards. Sentinels, I noted, not the Ravenwatch which supposedly served the royal family directly.

                  “He was accusing us of turning that poor girl into some kind of sex slave,” Voss replied, “What was I supposed to do, just let that happen?”

                  “I understand your feelings, Voss, but attempting to assault the king's High Priest was not the way to handle that,” Calliope pointed out.

                  “If you allow a lie to rest unanswered, it will put out roots,” Yua countered.

                  “Well, there are better ways of going about it.”

                  “Let's focus on the important things here, everyone,” I interjected before people could get to arguing, “Princess Kythaela is accused of treason, and our heads might be on the chopping block next.” I turned my head to look at one of the Sentinels, and switched to elven. “Pardon me, but are there any charges being levied at us?”

                  “None... yet,” came the response, “We will see how the assembly finds you in the morning.”

                  “We're not being charged yet,” I translated for everyone else, “But the guard implied that we might be on the hook as of tomorrow, so we had best think of our defence now.”

                  “Oh, good,” Voss replied, “If only we knew a damn thing about their system of law. Where the hell is Haseth, anyway? He's a witness in our favour, and you know he wouldn't take this accusation against Princess Kythaela lying down.”

                  That was a good question- the elven knight hadn't been seen since we arrived that morning. I hoped he didn't get caught up in some kind of conspiratorial masterstroke by these guys who obviously had it out for both us and Kythaela.

                  “We're going to have to sit down and share information,” Calliope suggested, “Obviously I've missed something with regard to the princess and this... other fellow. And I can catch you up on what I know about what's going on here.”

                  I nodded to that, but I was acutely aware of the Sentinels walking with us. Just because they refused to speak in common, that didn't mean they couldn't understand it.

                  When we had returned to “our” corner of the palace, the Sentinels took up guard positions- one at the top of the stair at the far end of the hall, that we ascended earlier to get up here from the courtyard, and the other standing in the middle of the hallway from where we just came. The intention was obvious- we weren't going anywhere with one of the Sentinels knowing.

                  “Come on,” I said, waving people towards me, “We can discuss things in private in my room. Siora, would you please get us refreshments? Thank you.”

                  The elven maid bobbed a brief curtsy and gave me a small smile. “Of course, Sir Theodore, I'd be honoured to.”

                  In the meantime, I was herding my entire party into the sitting area of my little suite, away (hopefully) from the hearing of those guards. I realized that could have some obscure or setting-unique magic item that left them spy on us... to say nothing of just standard scrying. This whole situation was making me feel paranoid.

                  Once the door was shut and we were (theoretically) alone, I rounded on the party. “Okay, so, this is bad. The guards that were escorting us seemed to think that we're going to be charged tomorrow during this... trial? Hearing? Whatever it is that's happening tomorrow.”

                  “Of course we're going to be charged,” Raszil replied bitterly, “We already know what they'll find when they examine that poor girl, after the hell she's been through. And we also don't know this kingdom's laws, so we haven't the least idea of how to defend ourselves.”

                  “But you're... we're... everyone here is innocent, right?” Sorrel asked, “That should count for something, right?”

                  “When you are seated before the God of Judgement, perhaps,” Raszil replied patiently, “But in my experience laws serve the people who write them, not some larger idea of 'right' or 'justice'.”

                  “Excuse me, but I think it would help a little if everyone were to catch me up,” Calliope interjected, “What happened to the princess, and what does it have to do with you all?”

                  “After you... after we sent you here with Seran, we recovered for a day, then immediately went with this other elf-knight to deal with the goblins directly,” I explained, still finding it difficult to speak about Calliope's death, even though she was standing right in front of me, whole and healthy, “We infiltrated the tower that the goblins were using as a base, and after... well, a lot of fighting, we managed to rescue Princess Kythaela and a number of other people enslaved by the goblins, including some of Kythaela's bodyguard.”

                  “That's the missing company of Ravenwatch, right?” Calliope asked, “All the royal guards are technically Ravenwatch, but I understand that the ones assigned to the Princess vanished with her?”

                  “Yeah, we don't have a complete story, but from what it sounds like the princess ran off with her personal bodyguard,” Voss explained, “They attacked the goblin camp, and mostly got captured or killed, including Princess Kythaela. Two of them, a man named Haseth and the knight who brought you here, Seran, got away. We made a deal, Seran would get you raised from the dead while we helped Haseth free the princess.”

                  “Alright,” Calliope nodded, “I think I understand. And from what Raszil said, you rescued the princess, but not before....”

                  “Yes.” Sorrel's voice suddenly sounded thick and strained. I turned to her, and was surprised to see a pained expression on her face. Normally she was bratty and defiant, but now I could see that was just a front, and right now, that front was lifted. “The goblin chief would take women. Always one at a time. And after a few days, come get another. We never saw the others. At first it was farmwives and girls, but the chief, he was mad at the elves. Really mad.” Her voiced cracked then, and the young squire squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath before continuing, “There were three women among the princess' bodyguards. One by one, they all volunteered, to protect her.”

                  Silence reigned as the implication of that statement settled in. No wonder Kythaela looked so haunted all the time. Three people who she had probably known her entire life had submitted to rape and torture for her, just to buy her a little more time. And in the end, it almost didn't save her- who knew how much longer she would have held out before I rescued her?

                  Calliope shook her head, and approached the younger girl. “I'm sorry you had to live through that, Sorrel, was it?” Gently, Calliope took Sorrel in her arms, and held her, while the younger girl shook like a leaf. Soon, the unmistakable sound of the young girl crying filled the room.

                  I felt a tug on my sleeve. It was Raszil, who had sidled up to me while I was in thought. “Theodore, it occurs to me that this is all very neat,” he said in a hushed voice, “Accusations about Kythaela's virginity after her... encounter... with a goblin chieftain who has preferences outside his species.”

                  I did a double take, looking at Calliope trying to comfort Sorrel then back to the gnome. “What are you getting at?” I asked, similarly hushed.

                  “I'm wondering about how Kythaela learned about these goblins, who told her,” Raszil replied, “And I'm suddenly worried about our missing friend Sir Haseth, and what has happened with him now that he's suddenly and inconveniently showed up with an mostly-intact princess, and the complete strangers who rescued her.”

                  I frowned. “You think someone would try to kill him?”

                  “If I'm correct in my suppositions, and he is what he seems to be, he would be a reliable witness for us of good reputation, not to mention a steadfast ally of the princess,” he replied, “And unlike the princess, one knight going missing in the night is not likely to stir the king into a rage.”

                  “I understand what you're getting at, but we're under guard right now. What can we do?” I asked.

                  Raszil patted my arm. “Suleyar will provide. I was mainly wanting you to know where exactly I intended to be.” Then, the gnome added with a grin, “Avenge my death if I never return, would you?”

                  With that, the gnome headed for the door to the hall. I heard a brief, “Gentlemen! There you are! I think we....” before Raszil shut the door with a soft click.

                  My that time, Sorrel had calmed down a bit. Voss had joined Calliope, and the two flanked the poor girl, talking soothingly to her while she wiped her running eyes with a handkerchief. As she noticed my conference with Raszil was concluded, Calliope crossed the room back to me. “Sorrel seems a little... finished for today. Voss and I are going to get her ready for bed, alright?”

                  I nodded in reply, then remembered what Raszil had said about inconvenient people. “It's probably for the best that nobody sleeps alone tonight. I hate to ask, but do you mind looking after her all night?”

                  Calliope looked back to the girl and the knight, then back to me. “I do mind,” she said, squeezing my hand, “I've been away from you so long, don't ask me to pass up the chance to sleep beside you again. We can trust Voss, can't we?”

                  I gave it some thought. “Yeah, I think we can. He definitely didn't take her on because she titillated him, and he's not the kind of guy who's into little girls anyway. It should be fine as long as Sorrel is comfortable with him sleeping in the same room. She's the one we ought to be concerned about.”

                  Calliope nodded briefly, then looked around before tilting her head. “Where did Raszil go?”

                  “He wanted to go...” I started, but then had to stop myself. Raszil wanted me to know where he went... but what if something happened to Calliope? If she was questioned? It seemed to me it was better if only one of us had to lie. “...Get an early night,” I finished smoothly, “After all, we all have to get our magic out to have spells better suited to this situation, and his holy rituals work best when he's alone, it seems.”

                  “That... makes sense. Certainly he's never spoken of his spellcasting or religious rituals to me,” she shrugged in reply, “I suppose that comes with the territory, being a priest to the literal God of Secrets.”

                  “Yeah, so, why don't you get Sorrel squared away,” I suggested, “Meanwhile, I'll stay here and explain the situation to Yua. A lot of this probably went over her head, and, well, I may need to be diplomatic. Who knows what strange culture mores she might have that relate to this whole situation.”

                  “It might also take some convincing to make her go sleep on Raszil's floor,” Calliope added, “She is so protective of you, after all.”

                  I hadn't even thought of that. I couldn't very well send Yua to go sleep in Raszil's room alone, but with my lie I couldn't send her to stay with Voss and Sorrel either, and while the mood wasn't great for sex, I doubt Calliope wanted another girl who wasn't a wife or lover in the room with us as we slept.

                  “Uh, yeah, that too,” was the lame response I offered, wondering just how I was going to figure my way out this without admitting to Calliope on our first day back together that I was already lying to her.

                  ---------------------------

                  Character Name: Theodore Esche
                  Race: Human
                  Class: Transmuter
                  Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
                  Hit Points: 7/7

                  Ability Scores
                  Strength 11
                  Dexterity 17
                  Constitution 8
                  Intelligence 17
                  Wisdom 13
                  Charisma 14

                  Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
                  Non-weapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

                  Spells Per Day:
                  1st Level- 3
                  2nd Level- 2

                  Spellbook:
                  (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
                  (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                  Spells Prepared:
                  (1st Level): Featherfall, Mending, Tenser's Floating Disc
                  (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                  Equipment: Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Belt (2), Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots (2), Darts (23), Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Oil of Acid Resistance, Pearl (worth 100gp), Potion of Rainbow Hues, Robes (3), Signet Ring, Small Tent, Tunic and Hose, Unidentified Gems (5), Unidentified Mint Green Potion, Wedding Ring

                  Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

                  Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

                  Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Sorrel (Squire)

                  Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage)

                  Sexual Partners: 5

                  Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
                  Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
                  Currently Working On: Banter and chats
                  Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

                  Comment


                  • #99
                    Chapter 85: Isekai Life & Comfort Sex

                    As it turned out, I shouldn't have worried so much about explaining things to Yua.

                    “Someone is trying to have the sharp-eared princess killed, and since the goblins failed to do it, they are accusing her of terrible things,” she said in her own tongue as she summed up my explanation, having a little difficulty with the 'goblin' and avoiding the use of 'elf' entirely. “My lord and his loyal knight may also be implicated, but even if that is not so, we cannot allow this injustice to stand.” That last was a statement, not a question. It made me even more certain than ever of her paladin-hood.

                    “Right, and, well, for protection, the rest of us have decided that none of us can be left alone, in case of someone trying to kill us when we're separated,” I began, but as it turned out I needn't have worried about continuing my lie.

                    “I insist I stay with you, my Lord,” Yua said firmly, reaching out to grasp my sleeve. Her expression seemed... conflicted, however. I was expecting her to be determined, or to have a begging look as she prepared to deny being dismissed, but instead her eyes flickered between meeting my gaze and looking away, almost as if she was ashamed of something.

                    “Are you sure? I'll have Lady Calliope with me, so I won't be alone,” I explained.

                    “Y-yes, my Lord,” she said, again appearing torn. “I am sorry to come between you and your lady, and I know I will be an.. inconvenience, but for the sake of my honour I must insist.”

                    I sighed with relief. At least Yua wasn't dense, and knew what her staying here meant for me. “Alright, I'll explain things to Calliope. I'm sure she'll understand.”

                    In the meantime, I had to get rid of some of my spells. Knock, Featherfall, Mending, Floating Disc... excellent choices for travelling overland, even day to day life, but not good ones for defending oneself in a trial, maybe even having to fight our way out of enemy territory. So, while we waited for Calliope to return, I did the only thing a wizard in AD&D could do when he had spell slots he wanted to free up: cast them. Luckily, all the spells except for the one I wanted to keep were harmless. Plus, AD&D had comparatively loose targeting restrictions compared to other editions- I didn't have to be falling to make myself the target of Featherfall, for example.

                    Yua was giving me strange looks so I had to explain what I was doing, though. That was a little embarassing.

                    Soon enough, Calliope returned, giving me a little smile. “Sorrel is trying to get to bed a little early,” she explained, “Voss is going to be up for awhile, but he said he has a lot of weapon maintenance to catch up on from the past week of travelling, so he'll be fine for awhile.”

                    I wonder why Calliope thought to add that last bit? “Uh, about Yua,” I said gesturing at the dragonborn girl, “She refuses to sleep anywhere else tonight, says it would dishonour her to abandon me when there's danger.”

                    Calliope gave Yua a sidelong look. Yua stared back for a moment, but eventually looked away and started fidgeting under my lover's stare and started fidgeting. There was a long silence, where I was beginning to wonder if Calliope was angry or something, but eventually she relented. Sighing under her breath, she muttered something- I think part of it was “Katriana”- and then pointed at the one of the sofas in the room.

                    “You may sleep here, and guard the door,” she said firmly, “But Theodore and I staying in the bed.”

                    Yua nodded wordlessly, even seeming to bow deferentially before she caught herself. “Yes, I... I understand,” she added hastily.

                    Calliope smiled warmly. “Good,” she said, taking me by the wrist, “Now, Theodore and I are getting an early night, you should consider doing the same. Tomorrow is going to be a long, hard day.”

                    I found myself getting pulled into the bedroom by Calliope, a little bewildered considering the topic of conversation in our group chat, just an hour previous. My assumption about her intentions proved true, when, the moment the door to the bedroom clicked shut behind her, she practically leapt into my arms, pushing my back against the door and kissing me deeply. It wasn't merely a passionate kiss, either- her tongue played against my lips for a moment before slipping in to meet mine, before she broke off just as abruptly.

                    “Sorry, for that,” she breathed, almost panting as she released me and stepped back, “You must think I'm so terribly slutty for doing that.”

                    “I am a little confused,” I said, shaking my head, “Not that I mind kissing you, Calliope, but what's gotten into you? We were just talking about... what happened with the princess, and now you're like this. What happened?”

                    Calliope fidgeted nervously. “I know, I know, there must be something wrong with me... it's just...” she trailed off, collecting her thoughts. “I've been away from you for so long,” she finally began anew, “And finally when I had a chance to get you all to myself, without your sister or Ashryn in the way, we spend so much time travelling and crowded in with others, that we hardly get to do anything, and... I've been waiting for this for so long, when you'd come back to me and we'd finally would have a measure of privacy again.”

                    “There's more,” she added after a moment, “I know Sorrel got upset and what she and the princess went through was awful, but... it made me realize all the more how important you are to me. How blessed I am to be a part of your life, even if I can't have you entirely to myself.” She shook her head, as if to dismiss a bad thought. “It makes me sound like a flighty bookworm who's read too many romance novels, but... I need you to make love to me. I want to connect with you, to be reminded that, no matter how ugly the things we see as adventurers are, there are people in this world who can love each other and care for one another no matter how awful this world gets.”

                    I was stunned, and could only stand and gape at her with my mouth open. She must have seen my expression, because suddenly she looked away and shuffled her feet. “Sorry, I guess that's been building up for awhile....”

                    I stepped forward and took her into my arms. One my hands softly cradled her head, enjoying the silky feeling of her hair. I wrapped my arms around her shoulders, and brought her close, kissing her lightly on the bridge of her nose.

                    She put her arms around my wait and clung to me. “I love you, Theodore,” she sighed into my arms.

                    “I love you, too,” I whispered in reply.

                    We stayed like that for a long time, with me just enjoying the warmth of her hug and and the sweet scent of her body. Outside, I could see the moon rising very the trees just outside the palace gates, reflecting off the pale white quartz of the buildings beyond. I took a deep breath, and decided that, yes, despite everything, I wanted to be with Calliope, too.

                    I moved by hands to her shoulders, and eased the straps of her gown off, down her arms. She sighed in my arms, her hands travelling behind her back to pull at the laces back there that help her gown in place. The heavy layered fabric of the court dress tumbled to the ground, and the way that the moonlight highlighted the contours of her body, naked except for her hair ribbon and choker, took my breath away.

                    Getting me out of my court dress was a much less romantic affair. Why would I ever bother wearing pants again after how easy it was to get in and out of a robe? By the the time I was able to kick my bunches up hose away, Calliope's hand was already cradling my cock, stroking me softly as she coaxed me to readiness. Her lips kissed a staccato pattern down my neck and chest, and I shivered from the contact. Such intimacy after so long without had a euphoric effect on me, and soon I had seized her around the shoulders once more, this time to kiss her deeply, our tongues dancing.

                    Calliope took over from there, pulling me eagerly towards the bed and gently pushing me down upon it. I scooted up so my head and shoulders rested on the pillows, meanwhile Calliope stalked up on all fours to bring her warm, moist mouth down over the tip of my cock.

                    The pace of her blowjob was long, slow and deliberate compared to the passionate exhalation of previous confession. Her tongue swirled across the head of my cock on every upstroke, and on every down her lips tightened invitingly around the girth of my shaft. I moaned as softly as I could. Part of me wanted to grab her head and drive my hips upwards, using her for my pleasure and ending it right there, but I struggled to remember that this is what Calliope had wanted- a slow, intense expression of our love.

                    When my rod popped free of her mouth and she began to move up my body it was almost a relief. My whole body seemed to throb with need, but I also knew my personal predilections, and if I took back the initiative, it'd be to control and get what I wanted, how I wanted it. Not that doing that couldn't be loving, but Calliope seemed to know what she had in mind.

                    When she delicately took hold of my cock, and placed it at the entrance to her pussy, I was already aching for her to continue. I slid into her hungry sex with ease, and Calliope and I intertwined our fingers so she could keep balance while she rode me. The soft, wet velvet of her pussy felt like a dream, and we moaned together. Like the blowjob, Calliope set a languid pace, and together we simply enjoyed what it meant to be connected as lovers, and how it felt.

                    I was so lost in the sensation, I almost didn't hear the click of the door. My eyes darted away from Calliope's body to the door to the bedroom. I couldn't see much because of the darkness, but I did see a shadowy figure outlined by the candlelight of the other room.

                    Calliope sighed, although it wasn't entire frustrated. “I thought this might happen,” she explained to me in a hushed voice, “”You seem to have that way around women, somehow.”

                    I shook my head, finally realizing just what was going on. “Oh... sorry...”

                    “It's alright. You're her rescuer, after all,” Calliope said, twisting herself on my cock enticingly, “No wonder she takes to you like a lost pet. You may as well invite her in. That is, if you want her.”

                    Did I want Yua? It felt a little dirty, since our entire group were basically all that she knew until she found her home. But at the same time, she was very sweet and very sexy. “Yes, I think I do want her,” I replied, and then I cleared my throat. “Yua, come in where I can see you.”

                    The dragonborn girl slipped inside, candlelight glittery briefly on her skin. She came and stood a respectful distance away, looking flushed and flustered. Immediately she went down on her knees, pressing her forehead to the floor, and mumbled something I could hear.

                    “Louder, please,” Calliope asked, “If you're going to say something to us, please do it so we can hear.”

                    It bewildered me a little to be in this situation where my cock was still jammed inside Calliope while she gave orders to someone else, but I can't say that I minded that.

                    Yua raised her head a little. “I'm sorry, My Lord, I was only coming to see what was the commotion, to make sure you were safe....”

                    Calliope chuckled. “Darling, don't lie, to yourself or to us. If you we seeking to protect my prince, where is you weapon and why are you wearing only a slip?”

                    Yua flushed somehow even more deeply. I realized she was only wearing the thin undergarment of the court dress that had been forced on her- not unusual, as pajamas went, but she had hardly girded herself to fight an assassin. I suppose she couldn't have instantly donned her armour, but she did have a sword, which as Calliope noted was absent.

                    The dragon girl just fidgeted, maintaining her silence.

                    Calliope sighed again, a little more annoyed. “Yua, dear, it's alright. We have a complicated relationship, Theodore and I, and others. If it's what you want, maybe you can be part of it, too.”

                    “R-really?” Yua sat up straighter, startled by this new information.

                    “Yes,” Calliope continued, “Katriana is Theodore's wife, and Ashryn is... Ashryn and I are betrothed to Theodore. He is kind and loving to us all, and we support each other.” Calliope's easy smile widened into a naughty smirk. “And we all share Theodore's bed, sometimes together, sometimes alone with him.”

                    “Together!?” Yua squeaked. I had to admit it was cute, seeing her normal stoicism completely absent, and the mixture of scandal, shame, and interest warring for supremacy on her face.

                    “Yes, together,” Calliope confirmed.

                    “Sorry if this isn't what you were dreaming about, Yua,” I said softly, feeling a bad for the poor girl, “But one day I'm going to be a king, and I already have a king's appetites.”

                    “M-m-my Lord can do as he pleases, and... oh... a king!?” she once again dropped to the floor, pressing her head against the ground.

                    Calliope shook her head. “It's okay, Yua, really,” she explained, “He's a king in exile. One of the things we want to do is to take back his throne, eventually. And even if he was a full king, he wouldn't want you to behave like this, please look at us.”

                    Reluctantly, Yua straightened once again, though she didn't look directly at us.

                    “She's going to take some training, I guess,” Calliope remarked.

                    “I suppose so,” I replied, “But I'm willing to be patient. Let me try.” I turned my head back to the dragonborn girl, tried to summon up an authoritative tone of voice, and said, “Yua, I'm willing to be with you if you want, but Calliope gets first turn tonight. Alright?”

                    “N-no...” Yua squeaked, fidgeting and looking more ashamed than ever, “You can't do that before marriage, it wouldn't be right... I-I don't want to be impure....”

                    She's not saying no, I realized. “Well, alright, Calliope and I will finish, and you can decide for yourself how long you want to stay there.”

                    Without needing any more invitation, Calliope started sliding her hips again. My penis had gone slack from the distraction, but it didn't take long for her to coax me back to hardness. I thought it would be a bit awkward, with Yua watching, but I guess because we had group sex so often with Ashryn and Katriana it seemed perfectly natural.

                    Once I was fully erect, Calliope released my hands, leaning over so that she could kiss me while I thrust my cock up into her. But after a few soft kisses, she whispered in my ear, “Katriana would be very unhappy with you if you went ahead and started doing things with Yua without her approval.”

                    I grimaced. That was true. It was easy to forget my promise to her, with how submissive my wife-sister was. “Yeah, okay, I'll keep it restrained, alright?”

                    “I don't know,” Calliope sighed into my ear, “I kind of want to see you take Yua's virg- ah, right there, just like that, please!”

                    I must have hit some kind of perfect rhythm, because Calliope could only hold herself still and moan while I thrust deep into her. Eventually, her back arched and and pushed back against my cock. At this rate I didn't know much much longer I cold take it.

                    I abruptly realized that Yua had gotten up off the floor. She was standing at the corner of the bed, watching us with lidded eyes, and panting as she rubbed her sex against the the tapered end of the bedpost. She wasn't penetrating herself- “too impure”, I guess- but she was grinding hard and moaning herself as she watched us.

                    All three of us climaxed nearly at once. I can't remember who started- if I finally exploded into Calliope, if Calliope's climaxing pussy triggered me, or if Yua's noisy orgasm set us both off. With a deep groan I unleashed a hot wave of semen into Calliope's wet, trembling sex while Yua moaned and humped the bedpost. It had been so long that my orgasm seemed long and lingering, pumping up more than a week's worth of pent-up passion and frustration- and sperm- into Calliope's loving, warm, soft body.

                    Maybe it was the long day, maybe it was the intensity of the act, but as it turned out, as Calliope roll off to the side and cuddled up against me, all I want to do was sleep. I wasn't entirely inconsiderate of Yua's needs, though. Almost vacantly, I patted the bed next to me, and a moment later the paladin girl obediently crawled into bed and cuddled up opposite of Calliope. She, too, seemed spent.

                    Surrounded for the first time in a long time by loving women, it was easy to sleep quickly, deeply and well.
                    --------------------------

                    Character Name: Theodore Esche
                    Race: Human
                    Class: Transmuter
                    Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
                    Hit Points: 7/7

                    Ability Scores
                    Strength 11
                    Dexterity 17
                    Constitution 8
                    Intelligence 17
                    Wisdom 13
                    Charisma 14

                    Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
                    Non-weapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

                    Spells Per Day:
                    1st Level- 3
                    2nd Level- 2

                    Spellbook:
                    (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
                    (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                    Spells Prepared:
                    (1st Level):
                    (2nd Level): Stinking Cloud

                    Equipment: Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Belt (2), Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots (2), Darts (23), Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Oil of Acid Resistance, Pearl (worth 100gp), Potion of Rainbow Hues, Robes (3), Signet Ring, Small Tent, Tunic and Hose, Unidentified Gems (5), Unidentified Mint Green Potion, Wedding Ring

                    Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

                    Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

                    Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Sorrel (Squire)

                    Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage)

                    Sexual Partners: 5

                    Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
                    Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
                    Currently Working On: Banter and chats
                    Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

                    Comment


                    • Chapter 86: Isekai Life & The Trial

                      I was gently shaken awake, earlier than usual, by a concerned Calliope. “I'm sorry, Theodore, I know you like to sleep in, but we need to be ready for anything, today,” she reminded me, her voice low nd conspiratorial. I nodded numbly as I sat up and rubbed the sleep from my eyes. Kythaela's... trial, or whatever it was, would be happening today, and I had to make ready.

                      I was prepared for things between Yua, Calliope and I to be awkward after the previous night, but she actually greeted me fairly warmly, smiling to when I stumbled into the sitting room after getting dressed. She was already armed and armoured, the black alchemically treated steel of her greatsword sitting across her lap as she knelt before the fireplace. Her smile was a quick flash and then gone, as she lowered her head in some kind of meditative pose. I couldn't blame her for doing it, though, we'd all need our focus today.

                      Thanks to Calliope diligently waking me up when the dawn was still fresh outside, we had plenty of time to prepare spells and make ourselves presentable. While Calliope stuck to the court gown she had worn the night before, after brushing it down with a damp cloth to smooth out some of the wrinkles, and while I wanted nothing to do with the silly looking elven court garb, I did slip into one of my more presentable robes. For armaments, I slipped a few darts up one of my sleeves, and Calliope strapped her dagger into place around her ankle. And of course, we conferred quietly before prepared what spells we could that might be useful in court... or in fighting our way free.

                      When the elven Sentinels stormed into the room, intending perhaps to find us indolent and caught off guard, instead we were well prepared and ready for them.

                      “The King desires your presence, sir,” the leader of the Sentinels, one of the guards who happened to escort us back to our rooms last night, sneered at us in elven.

                      “As His Grace desires,” Calliope replied smoothly, and the three of us filed out of the room obediently, but not meekly, ahead of the Sentinels.

                      Raszil, Sorrel and Voss were already roused from their rooms, but I was gratified to see that Voss and Sorrel, at least, were not taken by surprise. Voss looked downright resplendent in freshly polished plate, with his spear and magical shield strapped in place at his back. Sorrel only wore her simple farmer's blouse, but she had found a pair of trousers somewhere, and seemed a little more confident with Voss' spare longsword strapped to her back. Only Raszil look ruffled at all, with dark circles under his eyes, but he greeted us in good spirits.

                      “Good morning, Theodore, and the good lady Calliope,” he said with a small bow, “And thank you again, Lady Yua for, leaving me alone to rest last night. I do have so much trouble sleeping when I don't get a mattress to myself.”

                      The reasoning was thin, and between Voss and the Sentinels I wasn't sure exactly who he was trying protect Yua's reputation from, but I'm glad he attempted something. Yua, for her part, looked away and mumbled her thanks.

                      I gave Raszil a nod, then looked to Voss. “Are you ready?” I asked.

                      “Yeah, as ready as we're going to be,” Voss said, giving me a nod in turn, “I know this all seems dire, but I think we've been in a worse fix.”

                      “Remember, though, that Enna, Ashryn and Katriana isn't only a few minutes away to save us,” Calliope added bitterly.

                      Voss cracked a smile at that, “Fair enough, but these guys haven't ever killed a dragon before, so I think that puts a mark up on us.”

                      “Get moving,” the lead Sentinel barked in elven, forcing us to follow him, surrounded by our escort of Sentinels, down the stairs and through the corridors of the palace. There were a dozen of them, which seemed to me like an unnecessary display of strength, but at least they weren't so nakedly trying to intimidate us that they'd order us disarmed.

                      Raszil matched his pace to mine. “I met with our friend last night,” he said to me, quietly, in dwarven, “He was in a cell, but seems healthy enough.”

                      I blinked in surprised. How did Raszil find out I knew dwarven? “Good,” I replied, “I'm glad he's healthy. Not happy about the cell part, though.”

                      “I have a feeling that it might not be just the princess we end up having to rescue,” Raszil shot back.

                      I nodded. Whatever happened to Kythaela, her protector might end up responsible for allowing to happen. It made a slightly twisted kind of sense. “You weren't caught, then?”

                      “Oh, I was caught almost immediately,” Raszil said, “But I had a timely rescuer from our good friend, the maid Siora. It was her who helped escort me to our good friend.”

                      The guard leader turned to glare over his shoulder, and barked at us again. “No talking!”

                      Well, at least it seemed like we might have more real allies than we thought, if the maid was willing to help Raszil sneak around the palace. I couldn't even imagine what kind of danger that would put her in, from her own people.

                      We arrived outside a pair of tall, wooden doors, carved with geometric patterns and flanked with purple-caped members of the Ravenwatch on guard. There were glares exchanged between the two groups of elven soldiery- clearly there was an element of inter-service rivalry at play, to say nothing of their possible political divide. But whatever was at the heart of that rivalry, it didn't stop the Ravenwatch guards from pushing the huge doors open and allowing us entrance into the palace's throne room.

                      The room was round, obviously the lower level of the huge domed space on the level above that we had dined in the night before. On a raised dais at the far side of the room, King Kindroth sat in a tall, polished wooden throne carved in a similar manner to the doors we just passed through. Next to his throne stood the severe figure of Prime Minister Caeda, holding, for some reason, an ornate leaf-bladed spear and a hand bell. Behind him hung down a massive purple banner with the image of a blue fox rampant. The walls were otherwise bare except for the ubiquitous bronze panels reflecting sunlight from the handful of tall windows.

                      In the centre of the room, her face red and puffy as if she was crying, was Princess Kythaela. She looked like she hadn't slept, with dark, red rimmed and bloodshot eyes. The chair she was sitting on was made to match the King's throne, only not quite so tall, but Kythaela was so small and slender that she seemed a child in an adult's chair rather than a adult on a throne.

                      Lining the walls were various elves in different courtly outfits, similar the ones we our party had been given the previous night. Scattered among them were Sentinels on guard, watching over the proceedings.

                      In front of the the King and Princess both was that High Priest, Travaran. He was watching us with a sneer on his face as we filed in to the room, before he turned back to the King. “ Here are the very villains themselves, sire, here to receive your judgment,” he said in elvish, addressing the room as much as King Kindroth.

                      I blinked and shook my head. Stepping forward, I said, “Pardon me, but am I correct is assuming that means our guilt has already been determined?

                      Travaran turned back to me, with a smug expression. “We have already examined the Princess to the satisfaction of the court. It has been determined that she is no longer a maiden. Sir Haseth has already testified that he he was not the one to rob Princess Kythaela of her purity, so it must have been your party, acting in concert to pull the wool over Sir Haseth's eyes.”

                      That's when I noticed Haseth, standing near the King's throne. “That's not...!” he began, stepping forward, but the Prime Minister gestured down at him with her ceremonial spear, ringing her bell. “One more interruption, Sir Haseth, and you will be found in contempt of the King for the second time today,” she said, and the Ravenwatch knight shut his mouth with an audible click.

                      As for myself, I could scarcely believe what I had heard from the priest. “Excuse me,” I said, stepping forward to address King Kindroth, “But did I hear that right? You examined the Princess for proof of her maidenhood in a crowded room full of all these people? Are you insane?”

                      The bell rung again, and Caeda pointing her spear at me this time. “It is improper to question the sanity of the King! Watch yourself, human.”

                      I shook my head. “That's a Gods-be-damned barbaric thing to do, given everything that Kythaela has lived through these past two weeks.” That created a stir. The air filled with angry murmurs from the assembled crowd but I waved them away. “Your Majesty, I'm sorry but this situation makes me unspeakably angry. I have no idea how, as a father, you can allow your only daughter to be assaulted in that way.”

                      “The purity of the royal line but be preserved, according to the Old Law!” Travaran shot back, “Who knows what manner of unwholesome spawn we might allow into our ranks if we-”

                      Unwholesome spawn? What the hell was wrong with this guy? “Is this the same Old Law that let you lot justify trying to enslave half the world?” I asked, “I thought you were supposed to be the reformed 'Mist Elves' now?” More angry mutters. I was losing popularity fast, but I didn't particularly care. What I wouldn't do for a few extra levels and the Fireball spell right now.

                      “Enough!” The King intoned from his throne, “My people are not the ones who are on trial. You have been accused of violating the princess, human.”

                      I couldn't help but note 'the princess' was the language he used for his own daughter. I shook my head. “Neither myself nor any of my companions ever touched Princess Kythaela in an improper way.” This was true- when it came to a meeting on the waters of a certain lake, it was Kythaela who was touching me, not the other way around. “I am not going to go into details, because she has been traumatized enough by this farce, but I witnessed the aftermath of the assault on the Princess. It occurred during her captivity, and the one who attacked her is already dead, at the hands of a ghoul.”

                      “You expect us to believe such lies!?” the High Priest demanded, but I ignored him, instead focusing on the king.

                      “Your Grace, we're speaking of an attack on your own daughter. She has been through hell in the last few weeks, and now she sits here on display as though she is the one on trial,” I said, my tone accusatory, “Please, hasn't she experienced enough suffering?”

                      The King blanched and looked away from me, shamed by my words. But unfortunately, my words had little effect on the people around him. The Prime Minister's spear was levelled at me again. “You have been accused of perjury by the eminent High Priest Travaran, human,” she intoned, “What say you?”

                      I could hardly believe my ears. “I was actually present for the rescue of Princess Kythaela and returning her to her home,” I replied, “While your High Priest was here. Your own knight, Sir Haseth, will confirm the truth of what I'm saying. Why would my word not be taken over Travaran's?”

                      Caeda's eyes narrowed at me, but it was Travaran who spoke. “There is a way of dealing with this, as spoken of in the Old Law. We shall let the gods decide with a trail by combat!”

                      I gave an aside glance to the High Priest. He had a smug expression, as if he had actually won something by making this challenge. I just shrugged. “Yes, let us allow the gods to decide, with steel alone. No spellcasting to tip the scales.”

                      “Let it be done,” the king ordered, “This process threatens to drag, and I would have it over with. Choose your champion, human, and they will fight or die with steel and faith alone.”

                      The High Commander, Sundamar, stepped out of the crowd, and bowed briefly to his king. “It would be my honour to represent the royal interest in this, Your Grace. It is known that I have never had time to attend magical instruction, and I have no spells to tempt me.”

                      “Very well.”

                      I turned back to my allies. That was less than ideal, he might actually have real battlefield experience, perhaps magical weapons, too. Most of these elves seemed to be lightweights compared to my party up to this point, but the High Commander was an unknown factor.

                      “So, my elvish isn't that good, but I am correct in picking up that this whole thing is a fucking joke?” Voss asked in Common.

                      “Basically,” I replied shaking my head, “These pro-Storm Elf people really want that princess dead, and this whole court 'process' doesn't make any sense to me.” I glanced over my shoulder, and was relieved to see that the High Commander was pulling on an elven chain shirt but didn't seem to have any other armour. “Think you can take him?”

                      Yua would probably be best for overwhelming him quickly, but Yua didn't have a magic shield for proper plate mail. I didn't want to just win, I also wanted my friends not to be hurt, and while I could see Yua giving me a hurt look for picking Voss over her, Voss' Armour Class had to be floating somewhere close to zero. Lower numbers being a good thing, in AD&D, of course.

                      “Beat up some old elf, who is one of these jackasses giving the Princess and Haseth a hard time?” Voss asked in reply, as he strapped on his shield, afteranding off his spear to Sorrel, “You just try to hold me back.”

                      “Don't try to spare him, though,” Calliope leaned in to hiss in Voss' ear, though it was loud enough I could hear, “The High Commander is at least sympathetic to the elven supremacists, and he will aim to kill you. And remember that it's more than your life on the line in this duel.”

                      Voss nodded. “I'll keep that in mind, thanks, Calliope,” he said, and then clapped me on the shoulder. “Thanks for believing in me, Theodore.”

                      I nodded. “Good luck, friend.”

                      While we were conferring, Kythaela's seat was pulled back to the base of the dais. She was still made to sit in it, but at least it wasn't the visual centre of the room. The princess herself seemed... vacant, staring off into space a couple feet in front of her feet. I couldn't blame her. A lot was resting on this duel, but at least now Sir Haseth was allowed to step forward and stand by her side, and I could only hope that gave her some comfort.

                      Commander Sundamar stepped forward, armed with a sword and shield and wearing his silvery chainmail. I could see he also protected his hands with some kind of heavy silver gauntlet that seemed out of place- I could only hope that they weren't Gauntlets of Ogre Power, a popular magic item that would give a warrior a significant bonus to hit rolls and damage. Voss walked over to stand across from the Commander, whistling a jaunty tune and lazily spinning his spear with one hand. I don't know if his confidence was real or feigned, but it did earn a sneer from Sundamar.

                      Right before the match began, the High Priest stepped forward and blessed the proceedings, intoning a prayer to Asanke, Goddess of the Oceans, to watch guide the warriors to fight fairly and may the knight who is most just win, all that sort of thing. I thought it was weird that here, a week's travel from the coast, that the High Priest would be devoted to a goddess that presided over the ocean, but so little of this whole day made any sense to me that it was just another weird thing at this point.

                      When the king finally ordered the match to begin, both men exploded into action. Voss' reach with his spear allowed him to get in the first two hits- a quick jab of the spear under the High Commander's guard that struck the elf in the midsection, followed by a second strike that caromed off the Commadner's shield in such a way that the lip of the shield smashed the elf in the face.

                      The Commander cursed in elven as he realized just how skilled his opponent was, and he retaliated with two savage chops that knocked away Voss' attempt to parry and slammed into the more weakly armoured bits at Voss' armpit and elbow. The viscious blows drew sparks and sent Voss tumbling to the ground- at this point, I realized it had to be true that those gauntlets were augmenting the elf's strength. Even when fighting killer apes I had never seen Voss be driven back like that.

                      Voss pushed himself up to one knee as the High Commander closed in for another round, and was able to use his lower vantage point to drive his spear up and once again into the Commander's midsection. While the Commander stared at the shaft protruding from his middle in surprise, Voss rose to feet and flicked his spear, biting deeper into the wound and driving the elf back a half step before yanking it free again. At this point, the High Commander was bleeding freely, the blood oozing out around the silver of his chainmail. The only question that remained was, couple Voss outlast him?

                      When the Commander came on, Voss threw both arms behind his shield to absorb the heavy blow, but the maneuver only left him vulnerable when the Commander reversed his strike to stab in from the other side, cutting deep into Voss' thigh. Voss growled against the pain, and lashed out with his spear, bashing the Commander across the face with the butt of the shaft long enough to back off and get some breathing room. Both warriors were on their last legs, but with the advantage of his enchanted gauntlets, Commander Sundamar was not letting up.

                      He came on Voss again, slashing with absolutely brutal cuts at Voss, but my knight had learned from this fight, expertly deflecting both blows with his magical shield while carefully backing away, using the shield to redirect the High Commander's strength rather than intercepting them directly. The High Commander grimaced, his fury plain on his face as he pressed forward, pushing Voss back towards the crowd. But even as he was backing away, Voss was striking back, flicking his spear into the High Commander's face, body, groin, forcing the the Commander to only approach on Voss' terms.

                      And then, just as suddenly as it started, it was done. The blood loss was causing Sundamar to slow. Even though his strikes were powerful, his stamina couldn't keep up. While an almost casual flick of his spear, the one time that the High Commander couldn't keep up , Voss planted three inches of speartip into the elf's throat. Grimly, I was reminded of Calliope's own death for moment, but them Voss kicked the High Commander to the ground, spat on him, and pointed his spear up at the Prime Minister.

                      “Your Goddess was spoken, we speak the truth,” was all he said.

                      Limping badly, he returned to our little group, handing off his spear and shield to Sorrel before allowing Raszil to lay on hands. He gave me a pained smile and a nod as if to say, 'I did my job, I'm tagging you back in', so I gave him a smile back.

                      “It is decided, then,” King Kindroth announced, “By the will of the Goddess Asanke, the humans Sir Voss and Sir Theodore, as well as the gnome Brother Raszil and our own Sir Haseth, are pronounced innocent of the crime of rape against my daughter, Princess Kythaela. High Priest Travaran, you will arrange for the Goddess to bless us with the return of the High Commander as soon as possible. For now, I consider this matter settled.”

                      “Actually, Your Majesty,” the High Priest said as he stepped forward, a triumphant grin across his face, “The matter is not over. Now that Sir Voss has so kindly proved Sir Theodore's recitation of events to be true, we know have it confirmed that the Princess Kythaela has been defiled by goblinkind.”

                      I glared at the High Priest. What the hell was the slimy bastard up to now?

                      “According to the Old Law,” the High Priest went on, “In the case of a royal child being so brutalized, if she cannot be wed and her honour restored within a turning of the moon, then it falls upon her father to restore that honour by force.”

                      It dawned on me with a growing sense of dread what the High Priest was getting at. “Oh, you have got to be fucking kidding...” I muttered in disbelief.

                      “What do you mean, Travaran?” the King demanded, “Get to the point!”

                      “The only way the royal family's honour can be cleansed is with blood,” Travaran demanded, “If someone cannot be found to take responsibility for the Princess in her unclean state, her impurity must be scourged out of the royal family!”

                      I could only stare in disbelief as the elven nobles around us exploded into noise, some calling for the Princess to be scourged to death. They were talking about an honour killing. Murdering Princess Kythaela for the misfortune of her assault. No wonder her female guards were willing to give themselves up to protect her- they perhaps would have had the defence of relative anonymity, but in this crazy, brutal society being raped could have you marked for death.

                      Suddenly, there was a tug at my sleeve. I looked down to see Raszil, looking up at me intently.

                      “Do you want to save the Princess?” he asked.

                      “Do you know how?” I asked, as the Prime Minister demanded quiet hammering the dais with the butt of her spear.

                      “Let's just say, Suleyar provides,” he said with a grin, “I think I can save her, but I want to be absolutely certain you're willing to do whatever it takes to rescue her.”

                      I recalled what Raszil had done to save me from the mob way back in Rhymer's Cross, right after we first met. “Yes, whatever it is, let's do it,” I replied, “We've come this far, I'll be damned before I let that odious priest get his way.”

                      “You got it,” the gnome replied, stepping forward into the open area before the throne, the tiles still bloody from the recent bout.

                      “People of the Kingdom of Mist, please, hear me out,” he said, and immediately everyone fell silent, watching the gnomish priest with rapt attention, “While my friends and I absolutely and thoroughly condemn the barbaric practices being discussed today- we have no stomach for things such as trial by combat and considering the victim of an assault to be impure, we do however want what is best for the young Princess whom we have worked so hard and sacrificed so much to rescue.” The gnome turned and bowed to High Priest Travaran. “Excuse me, exalted high priest, but am I correct in assuming that, now that the good Princess Kythaela has been defiled, that a husband of appropriate station must be found for her, soon, or else her unmarried existence is a stain on the honour of the royal family?”

                      The High Priest glared daggers down at the little gnome. “That is correct,” he replied, “The Old Laws must be satisfied, and so the would-be husband must have sufficient standing to salve the royal family's honour.”

                      “So I assume, then, that the proposed husband would ideally be another Mist Elf?”

                      “Of course,” Travaran added with a sly grin, “If such a thing were possible. Even now the girl might be harbouring some kind of half-goblin aberration, so say nothing of everyone knowing that she has been defiled. I wish you good fortune finding someone will to bear such a burden in their own house.”

                      Raszil nodded along, before turning to King Kindroth. “Your Grace, I present to you an opportunity. There is someone here, who, although an outsider, may make a suitable match to resolve this situation without further loss of life.”

                      “Oh, don't bother,” Travaran shot back, “A mere hedge knight, even one from a significantly noble human lineage would not be enough.”

                      “Oh, of course not,” Raszil replied, his grin widening, “I would never even entertain that a merely nobleman would be sufficient to, what did you say? Salve the honour of the royal house of the Kingdom of Mist.”

                      Raszil gestured expansively, before extending an arm to me. “Your Majesty, it is my extreme honour to introduce to you my good friend Prince Theodore of the House of Esche, heir to the Starfallen Throne of Eschat, and one of the Heroes of Tresens. May he live one thousand years.”

                      --------------------------

                      Character Name: Theodore Esche
                      Race: Human
                      Class: Transmuter
                      Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
                      Hit Points: 7/7

                      Ability Scores
                      Strength 11
                      Dexterity 17
                      Constitution 8
                      Intelligence 17
                      Wisdom 13
                      Charisma 14

                      Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
                      Non-weapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

                      Spells Per Day:
                      1st Level- 3
                      2nd Level- 2

                      Spellbook:
                      (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
                      (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                      Spells Prepared:
                      (1st Level): Detect Magic, Enlarge, Sleep
                      (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                      Equipment: Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Belt (2), Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots (2), Darts (23), Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Oil of Acid Resistance, Pearl (worth 100gp), Potion of Rainbow Hues, Robes (3), Signet Ring, Small Tent, Tunic and Hose, Unidentified Gems (5), Unidentified Mint Green Potion, Wedding Ring

                      Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

                      Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

                      Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Sorrel (Squire)

                      Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage)

                      Sexual Partners: 5

                      Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
                      Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
                      Currently Working On: Banter and chats
                      Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

                      Comment


                      • Chapter 87: Isekai Life & Royal Vow

                        You could have picked my jaw off the floor. And judging by the mood of the room, I wasn't the only one. The various elven nobles were whispering to one another. I noticed the High Priest himself was just as dumbstruck as I was, shaking his head in denial. Meanwhile up on the dais, the Prime Minister had leaned over to confer quietly with the King.

                        “That's not possible...” Travaran eventually said.

                        “Why, even now Prince Theodore is wearing his signet ring, if you care to check for yourself,” Raszil offered, rubbing his chin with a satisfied look on his face.

                        I was, at that. I had taken to wearing both my signet ring and my marriage band through all my travels in the Lakelands, because I assumed that this was far enough from home that I shouldn't have to worry about hiding it. Turns out I underestimated the breadth of Raszil's knowledge, or maybe the interest that Suleyar himself had in me.

                        Whatever conditions that Travaran's Old Laws demanded must have been satisfied by my royalty, because he practically tried to run out of the audience room. I noticed that nobody stopped him despite not being dismissed or paying respects to his king. Soon after, most of the Sentinels, two laden with the body of the High Commander, followed.

                        Meanwhile, my own companions were processing the news. Sorrel was shaking her head, barely managing to stutter out, “H-h-he's a prince?” in stunned disbelief. Yua was taking it a little better, having had moved up next to me now that Voss was leaning against one of the columns, taking a breather after his fight. But, then again, Yua's estimation might have changed little by the news, I had little idea what was going on in her head, and even less than I thought judging by the night previous.

                        Eventually, King Kindroth rose, and faced the assembled crowd. “That is all for today, I have serious things to consider in this matter,” he said, waving away the assembled nobility, “Prince Theodore you and one of your attendants may stay, as should my daughter and Sir Haseth.”

                        I nodded, turning to my friends. “Calliope, take everyone and go see that Voss gets some proper rest and care,” I gave an aside glance to Raszil, “And make sure nobody goes missing. I'll take Yua with me in case of danger.”

                        Calliope nodded, looking a little pale. “That's certainly not how I expected this trial to end,” she muttered.

                        “That makes two of us,” I replied with a sigh, “Get going, I think with the High Commander out of commission for awhile, we should be safe enough for a bit.”

                        Calliope reached over and gave my arm a brief squeeze, before ordering Sorrel to follow her. The fourteen year old farmgirl, laden with weapons at this point, made for an odd attendant as Raszil and Calliope helped Voss limp his way out. The layout of the palace seemed pretty simple, so hopefully they wouldn't get lost.

                        I couldn't help but notice that Prime Minister Caeda didn't move at all, either. Instead, she was giving me a long, considering look. King Kindroth was simply standing there, watching people file out. As for below the dais... Haseth had his usual stoic expression, but Kythaela was staring right at me, unblinking.

                        Once the main doors had finally slammed shut, Kindroth sat back down on his throne, and slumped, looking utterly exhausted. He sat there a moment with his face n his hands, and the Prime Minister looking down on his with concern. Eventually, he raised his eyes, to mine and asked, “You have some way of proving that you are who you say you are, yes?”

                        “Of course,” I said, stepping forward raising my hand with it's signet ring to show the Prime Minister, who had stepped forward to examine it with interest. She took my hand and examined the ring carefully, and from several different angles. Eventually she nodded, and said, “Be still, I am going to cast several spells on you. They are harmless, and you need not be worried.” I nodded, and the Prime Minister began to sing elven prayers, asking the Ysiphine for guidance. I didn't feel anything, but she nodded with satisfaction.

                        “Well?” King Kindroth asked.

                        “He has some magical items on him, nothing large. Potions or scrolls, I expect,” she reported back, “And while I cannot discern if he is lying, he is not of evil intent, nor does he have a history of evil actions. I think it's likely, given the presence of the ring, that he is who he says he is.”

                        I had no idea that she was at least a part-time priestess. She must have cast Detect Magic and Know Alignment on me, given the context of what she said.

                        The king nodded, satisfied. “My Prime Minister who deals more extensively in such things tells me you are a Prince in exile. Tell me, what brings you here, so far from home.”

                        I decided to be honest. No sense keeping up a deception now. “My sister and I are travelling the land, gathering people of talent and allies with which to one day take back my homeland,” I told him, “We had made contact in Tresens with a retried adventurer named Ricard Parett, and he hired us in turn to investigate the disappearances of villages in the area. Fighting the goblins and rescuing Princess Kythaela was a result of that investigation, although it is my true desire to not see her killed unnecessarily.”

                        The Prime Minister seemed incredulous. “You would marry an elf, who will long outlive your short life, just to save her from death, on a whim? That beggars belief.”

                        “Ah, well... polygamy is a tradition of my house,” I explained, which was technically true, every living member of my family did look forward to practising polygamy. “If a position by my side as one of my wives would rescue Princess Kythaela from this situation, I will do it,” I continued looking over where Kythaela was sitting, “If she will have me as her husband, of course.”

                        Kythaela slowly rose from her chair and came towards me. But when her mouth opened as if to say something, all that came out was a loud sob. I reached for her and she collapsed into my arms, crying, her sobs echoing in the vast, empty chamber. I pulled her close and stroked her hair. It was a bit of a shock, for her to do something so intimate as seek me for comfort when we weren't all that close, but if it made her feel better, it was fine by me.

                        “I think Princess Kythaela's choice is clear,” the Prime Minister said, looking at King Kindroth, who nodded in return.

                        The King looked back to me. “I will allow this, on one condition, Prince Theodore.”

                        “Go on,” I asked, noncommittally. Sorry, but I'd like to hear your condition first before I agree or not.

                        “When you have married Princess Kythaela, I will give you her dowry,” King Kindroth explained, “But once that is done you are to leave and not return. You are aware, no doubt, of this conflict between the reformers in my court, and the people who wish to go back to the terrible days of the Storm Elves. It is tearing my people apart, and the farce of this morning was a naked attempt to have me condemn my own daughter to death with my own hand.” He sighed heavily. “I would spare Kythaela from any further harm, so swear to me that once you two are married, you will take her, keep her safe and happy, and leave, never to return.”

                        This King hadn't really impressed me up to this point, but my opinion of him bottomed out with that. He'd sooner send his daughter away, forever, than fight back against the people who want to turn the Kingdom of Mist back into a raider nation who wanted to kill her? I wasn't a king or a father yet, but I made a silent promise to my unborn children and the people that I would someday rule that I'd do better than this.

                        “Very well,” I released Princess Kythaela and knelt before King Kindroth. “On my name and my title as a Prince, I solemnly swear that, following my marriage with Princess Kythaela, I will take her and leave immediately, never to return.”

                        Of course, I had no intention of following through on that vow. Neutral good, bitch. I don't have to take your ridiculous vow seriously if it prevents me from doing good in the world.

                        “However, I do have two requests of my own,” I said as I rose. If this so-called King was so easily bullied, I decided to take advantage of that.

                        “What is it that you require?” the Prime Minister asked.

                        “First of all, I cannot rest easily knowing my retainers and my wife to be are in a palace plagued with enemies,” I explained, “So I demand that you expel all Sentinels from the palace and it's grounds, barring them from entry until Princess Kythaela and I are married. The Ravenwatch exists to protect the royal house, the Sentinels should focus on doing their usual duties.”

                        The King shifted uncomfortably, and the Prime Minister grimaced at me. “There would be... consequences to that action,” the Prime Minister replied.

                        “I frankly don't give a damn,” I said, cutting the air with a gesture, “They can crawl all over the palace as soon as we are gone. The Old Laws need to be satisfied with a moon's turn, right? If they can't handle not standing in a fancy building for a couple weeks, then they make for awfully sensitive soldiers.”

                        Of course, the symbolic nature of being kicked out of the palace would burn them, but if this situation gets violent earlier than I expected, then the King shouldn't have any problem framing the Sentinels as insurrectionists or something.

                        “My second demand,” I went on, “Is that Ravenwatch griffon riders be engaged immediately to retrieve the remaining member of Princess Kythaela's bodyguard from the town known as Rhymer's Cross. No doubt with the Sentinels expelled from the palace, everyone would rest easier knowing that the Ravenwatch are as close as possible to full strength.”

                        This caused the King and the Prime Minister to exchange glances. “That could be arranged,” Prime Minister Caeda allowed, “Is there anything else?”

                        “Yes,” I continued, “I require the services of Sir Seran and the griffon Barador, as well as sufficient griffons to transport two other people, for perhaps no longer than a week. I have a small bit of personal business to take care of before the wedding, and I will be returning with one of my retainers to assist in the security of the event.”

                        King Kindroth seemed to hesitate, so I stepped forward, putting one foot on the dais. “I took your vow without hesitation, even if it is inconvenient for me not to make an ally out of this situation,” I said, letting a little threat creep into my voice, “Surely you can do this much for me, King Kindroth.”

                        There was a long moment, then the king waves his hand. “Very well, it will be done, you have my promise.”

                        “Good,” I said as I stepped back, “I hope that the Sentinels will be out of the way within the day.” I took Princess Kythaela by the hand, and when I I did she seemed surprised for a moment, before squeezing my hand back. “I will take the Princess back to my retainers, so we can discuss what preparations need to be made. Sir Haseth, will you please come along to chaperone.”

                        I didn't even wait for the king to respond, instead I turned about and walked out. It was arrogant of me, sure, but if Kindroth was offended maybe it would put a little more spine in his back.

                        Once we were outside the throne room, I was happy to see that the only people waiting without were the two members of the Ravenwatch who had been tasked with guarding the door. I turned to Kythaela and let go of her hand. “Sorry about all that,” I said, “You didn't deserve any of it, and I wish I could have avoided having you in that situation.”

                        The princess shook her head. “You were not the ones who... who brought all that stuff up, and made those accusations,” she said thickly as she looked away, staring off into the distance again. “Now you see why I thought I was going to die....” she trailed off into silence.

                        “I told you, I don't want you to die,” I said, producing a handkerchief from an inner pocket and handing it to her, “Go on and clean up a bit, blow your nose.”

                        While Kythaela turned away to do that with her back to me, Haseth stepped forward and bowed to me. “Thank you so much, Prince Theodore. I am so grateful that you've stepped up and taken responsibility for my charge.”

                        His voice was a little thick, too, so I guess Kythaela wasn't the only one who was on the verge of tears.

                        “Let's just get back to the guest rooms, please,” I said, trying not to sound dismissive, “There's a lot for us all to discuss, and I want everyone to be on the same page for once.” After all, if Raszil already blew my secret about being a prince, I may as well just come clean about everything. At least way I'd have to stop explaining myself over and over.

                        When we returned to the guest area, Siora was waiting in the hall for us, and gave me and Kythaela a curtsy when we appeared out of the stairway. “You knight and retainers are waiting for you in Sir Voss' room,” she said as she bobbed, but before I could reply, Kythaela dashed forward and threw her arms around the maid, hugging her tight.

                        Siora didn't seem surprised, although she blushed a little, and stroked Kythaela's hair comfortingly. “I'm happy that you made it, Ky,” I heard her whisper.

                        “I'm glad to be home, Si,” Kythaela replied, sounding like she was about to cry again, “I'm sorry for making you worry.”

                        “You're back, and that's all that matters.” Siora let the Princess go and stepped back, “This is no time for a reunion, though. Time to be a princess, right?”

                        Kythaela nodded glumly. “Always, it seems,” she said, before turning back to me. “Siora and I grew up together, she's my closest friend, and I trust her like I trust Haseth. That's why I asked her to take care of you and your party personally.”

                        “Ah, thank you,” I replied, as Siora offered a second curtsy.

                        We headed inside Voss' room, where my remaining companions were gathered in the sitting room. Even Raszil, who I expected might have tried to run off. I greeted them all, and and herded everyone into Voss' bedroom, where the man was resting at his ease.

                        “Thanks to Brother Raszil's healing, I did not need to do much,” Siora reported, “But I have some skill in nursing, so I'll make sure his bandages get changed and he's properly taken care of.”

                        I nodded, although Raszil might finish topping off Voss' HP tomorrow. “Good job, Voss, I'm seriously impressed with your skill at fighting.”

                        Voss grinned at me. “I think I got lucky, more than anything. With that's guy's strength, he should have taken me seriously from the start. He would have finished me right off.”

                        I gave me a nod and a smile. “Lucky or not, thank you for fighting so hard for all our benefit,” I replied, “Now, we need to catch everyone up so we're all on the same page.”

                        I started from the beginning, explaining who Katriana and I were, where we had come from, how we had met Calliope, Voss, Ashryn and Enna. Calliope jumped in briefly to explain what happened to her after I left the magic academy and before we met up again, which wasn't super interesting but it was nice to know, to fill out the story, I suppose. But when I got to explaining everything that happened at the arena....

                        “Malgarath!?” Yua replied incredulously.

                        “You know about Malgarath?” Calliope asked, surprised.

                        “The Dragon God of Destruction?” Yua replied, “Yes, he is familiar to me. He is part of the pantheon of gods my people worship, although this 'Dragonslayer Leyneid' is not known to me.”

                        “That's 'Reyneid',” Raszil corrected, “Although it's a little hard to believe that you managed to kill any god, dragon or not, regardless of how weakened they are.”

                        “I thought as much,” Calliope replied, “It seems to me that it might be a situation where Malgarath returned to where he was sealed, or was banished temporarily somehow.”

                        “Perhaps,” Raszil replied, stroking his chin thoughtfully, “I'll have to look into it, perhaps collaborate with this girl, Ashryn?”

                        I didn't know that would be useful, given how ditzy Ashryn could be, but I tried to dismiss the thought. Going back over all of this made me realize just how much I missed Katriana, Ashryn, even Enna and Bekkar. I took a deep breath and pressed on, explaining how Katriana and I got married.

                        “Aw, gross!” Sorrel, cried out, “Your own sister?”

                        “It is not so unusual, when a royal family is reduced to a few members,” Haseth said with a nod, “Our own royal family married niece to uncle once, shortly after the fall of the old empire, in order to ensure that the royal bloodline stopped branching.”

                        “Wouldn't branches make for a stronger royal family, though?” the young squire asked, “I mean, if a man dies with no children, then his sister can inherit the farm and keep providing crops, right? Otherwise people might starve.”

                        “You're not thinking about it politically, child,” Raszil explained, “In the case of the Kingdom of Mist, probably what would have happened otherwise is that the uncle would marry and make one branch, and the niece another, and then their children could get to fighting over the throne. Better to make it one branch to provide stability, or you might end up with a civil war one generation later while your country is still recovering.”

                        I never thought of it that way, but it made a bit of sense. I just shrugged it off and persisted, explaining about our travels through the mountains, our rescue of Yua, and finally our arrival in Pendleton and receiving our mission from Ricard and Mia.

                        “Ah!” Calliope said suddenly, “Wait, our information doesn't match up. Didn't Ricard say that the villages we heard about were simply abandoned?”

                        I thought about it a bit. “It could be that there's a bit of confused information in the mix,” I finally said, “Where I grew up, there's a children's game that involves standing in a line and whispering a story from person to person, and seeing how it changes and mutates as it gets passed along. If Ricard had second- or third-hand information, it could have just gotten confused or exaggerated at some point.”

                        Calliope nodded. “Still, let's be careful, there might be even more problems on top of the goblins and whatever the Storm Elves are doing.”

                        Finally, we got to Rhymer's Cross. I explained about how we spent most of the trip north fleeing from goblin raiders, and what all happened when we got to the little town.

                        “And I,” I added, looking at Raszil, “Would be very grateful if you told me how you knew I was a prince.”

                        Raszil grinned. “You wear that signet ring everywhere you go. I knew who you were the second we shook hands, my prince,” he sketched a mocking bow, “Although I didn't work out most of the other details, including you marrying your sister, til that night us and Voss were drinking with Big Dap.”

                        From here, Haseth jumped in, explaining about how Princess Kythaela and Prince Falaen learned about what was happening to the human villages from the few peddlers who ostracized themselves to do the small amount of trading the Kingdom of Mist required with outsiders. The Princess was moved to do something, anything, to help and sent out her bodyguard to find out what was going on. When she learned about the goblins, that's when she planned her disastrous attack on the coastal tower.

                        “I'm... not much of a tactician, I suppose,” she confessed with a sigh, “I got so many people killed....”

                        Haseth put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “We have not made war in a generation, my lady,” he said soothingly, “None of us had the expertise to do any better.”

                        “Besides, we may make something of this situation yet,” Siora added, before offering us all a smile, “IF you'll pardon me, I should go see to your meal arrangements.”

                        Suddenly I realized how hungry I was. I hadn't eaten since the dinner we had the night before, and that was mostly fruit and cheese. The lack of pain present in my “Heaven” certainly made it easy to skip mealtimes.

                        So, I went on to explain about hunting goblins, the death of Calliope, meeting Haseth and Seran, and the second attack on the tower. From there, Calliope took over again, telling us all about being raised in the temple to Asanke in the Kingdom, her experiences with the priests, and how the Court Wizard Ailluin had looked after her, making sure that her stay in the palace was as free of harassment as possible.

                        “You really should sit down with Ailluin at some point, Theodore,” she explained, “He really is a nice guy, though he comes off as disingenuous at first.”

                        “Yes, we should all sit down with Ailluin and Falaen at some point,” Kythaela added, “We three are the main reformists in my father's court, and it would do well for us to coordinate... whatever it is that we're going to do.”

                        “Well, that's a good question, then,” Voss said from the bed, “What exactly are we going to do?”

                        “Well, part of why I wanted to catch everyone up is because I do have a plan,” I said, “Hopefully, one that will put us on the footing we need to bring the fight to the Storm Elf faction, stop the attacks on the human villages, and keep Princess Kythaela safe.”

                        “The first step is retrieving the Ravenwatch from Rhymer's Cross. That will give us six Ravenwatch we know are loyal to Princess Kythaela, including Haseth and Seran, two of whom are also mages. That almost doubles our current manpower, in terms of front line fighters and magic users, not counting anyone loyal to Ailluin and Prince Falaen, of course.

                        “Second, I will take Seran and two other griffons and return with Raszil to Pendleton. Ricard and Mia deserve to be caught up on the situation, who may have some other support they can offer us, plus there I will retrieve Enna and bring her back here.”

                        Voss laughed and clapped his hands. “These Storm Elves won't see what hit 'em, with Enna around,” he said with a grin, “It'll be nice to see her again.”

                        “This Enna must be an accomplished warrior,” Haseth mused.

                        I nodded. “She'll be a major asset to us here. Anyway, while we're gone, I want Calliope, Sorrel, Yua and Voss to return to Temple Meadow. You're going to go hunting for me.”

                        Yua frowned. “Hunting...?”

                        “When we passed through town, there were signs of ghouls feasting upon the dead inhabitants. They deserve better. Also, I want you guys to check out the ruins of the temple there, there could be some relic or something that might turn out to be useful. Until we return it to another temple, of course,” I added hastily, “Just make sure that you check carefully, the ghouls and the village ruins alike, for anything magical we could use.”

                        I also wanted Calliope to get caught up in experience, but I couldn't explain that. Also, having a place where we could feasibly “farm” ghouls was pretty huge, as they were listed in the Dungeon Master's Guide as being Treasure Type T- that is, each ghoul inexplicably carried between one and four magical scrolls, which could be an incredible boon to what we were trying to do.

                        “Just be careful, ghouls are serious business, alright?” I asked.

                        “It's not ghouls that worry me, it's the Sentinels,” Calliope pointed out, “Only Kythaela got us past the border last time, and they might take the opportunity to hunt us down.”

                        “Take the griffons,” Kythaela said, “They're stabled on the ground of the palace, and Prince Theodore made my father kick all the Sentinels out of the palace until the wedding. You won't even have to cross paths with a Sentinel, and you'll have four Ravenwatch knights to help you if you get in trouble.”

                        Not that the Ravenwatch have proven super competent by this point... but that wasn't a terrible idea. I turned to Kythaela. “Just so you know, once we're gone from here, I plan to give you back your dowry,” I explained, “From there, you can do as you like, but I don't intend to hold you to a marriage since you've only known me for a little over a week.”

                        The princess nodded thoughtfully. “There is a lot to do between now and then,” she said after a moment, “Perhaps, if we prove to be incompatible, I'll take you up on that.”

                        Good enough for now. Actually marrying her just to save her life didn't seem like a great way to start a relationship, but at least she knew that I'd release her without complaint at her request.

                        “Alright, so that's a lot of preparation,” Sorrel said, “But what are we actually going to do once that's all done?”

                        I took a deep breath. “First we capture one,” I said simply, “Then, we find out how they're destroying towns, and we disarm them. And after that, we bring them to justice.”

                        --------------------------

                        Character Name: Theodore Esche
                        Race: Human
                        Class: Transmuter
                        Level (XP): 3 (8153/10000)
                        Hit Points: 7/7

                        Ability Scores
                        Strength 11
                        Dexterity 17
                        Constitution 8
                        Intelligence 17
                        Wisdom 13
                        Charisma 14

                        Weapon Proficiencies: Darts
                        Non-weapon Proficiencies: Direction Sense, Etiquette, Reading/Writing, Swimming, Tailoring

                        Spells Per Day:
                        1st Level- 3
                        2nd Level- 2

                        Spellbook:
                        (1st Level): Armor, Burning Hands, Detect Magic, Detect Undead, Enlarge, Featherfall, Magic Missile, Mending, Read Magic, Sleep, Tenser's Floating Disc, Wall of Fog
                        (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                        Spells Prepared:
                        (1st Level): Detect Magic, Enlarge, Sleep
                        (2nd Level): Knock, Stinking Cloud

                        Equipment: Backpack, Bag of Fine Sand, Belt (2), Belt Pouch (Large, 3), Belt Pouch (Small, 4), Boots (2), Darts (23), Hand Mirror, Hat, Hooded Lantern, Oil of Acid Resistance, Pearl (worth 100gp), Potion of Rainbow Hues, Robes (3), Signet Ring, Small Tent, Tunic and Hose, Unidentified Gems (5), Unidentified Mint Green Potion, Wedding Ring

                        Money: 320 gp, 2815 sp, 7 cp

                        Languages: Common, Elven, Dwarven, Orc, Goblin, Draconic, Dragonborn

                        Companions: Voss (Level 4 Fighter), Raszil (Level 3 Cleric/Level 3 Thief), Yua (Level 4 Paladin), Calliope (Level 2 Evoker, fiancee), Sorrel (Squire)

                        Elsewhere: Katriana (Level 3 Fighter, sister & wife), Ashryn (Level 3 Cleric, fiancee), Smokey Enna (Level 4 Fighter/Level 4 Thief), Bekker (Butler), Haseth (Level 3 Fighter), Kythaela (Level 2 Fighter/Level 2 Mage)

                        Sexual Partners: 5

                        Storage Chest: Alchemical Steel Broadsword, Alchemical Steel Bastard Sword, 299 pp, 2386 gp, 16 sp, 50 cp
                        Currently Playing: Dragon Star Varnir
                        Currently Working On: Banter and chats
                        Current Waifu: Katarina Claes, My Next Life As A Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

                        Comment


                        • Suggestion :

                          Adding Elf sub race - Pink Elf

                          Special Ability - petal blades like the bleach guy or Templar Assassin powers

                          Habitat - Cherry blossom Forest


                          Any idea in adding Changeling ?

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