Despite the jubilations and strange motions of the ancient tree in the Main District square for the second time in a month, no one bothers to deal with the commotion. There’s been a lot of strange things happening in town recently, and frankly the mayor’s corruption scandal really dampened the mood of the Town Guard. Honestly, it wasn’t worth the effort, and besides, the troublemakers left soon after and the tree returned to normal. It’s hard to say anything happened at all, and that’s just fine.
You watch the Guardsman staring at you with tired eyes as you leave the square, but when they don’t go after you, you just shrug and leave. This town is way, way too sleepy. This is fine though, as it allows you to go along at a slow pace with the tired Richard, even going so far as to board two gondolas to head back to the residential district. You flinch as the one of the oarsmen is that Mantis again, remembering the pink thing, but she says nothing and the trip is fine.
It’s the dead of night when you return to the inn, but not even a second after you turn the corner down the street does the door slam open and Hannah tackles Richard, taking the poor man to the ground. She hugs him so tightly that you’re afraid he’ll actually die this time, and it takes both you and Saya to drag her off of your mentor and back into the inn. She spends the next hour crying over the fact that she thought she’d never see him again while the rest of you eat (again) and her husband sighs, patting her head.
You spend the evening regaling Richard of your travels since you last saw him, leaving out only a few details about some more embarrassing and lewd happenings of course. He seems impressed by some of your feats while he has to order another drink at others. He seems most interested in your fight with Fiora and asks you to go over it multiple times before he seems satisfied.
“And then I had to use the [Eye of Fear] to get into Ginelle’s head and help her out.” You say, sighing as you look over to the Badgergirl. She looks down at her half full bowl and nods her head, still seeming somber.
Richard reaches over and grips her shoulder, giving her a reassuring smile. “I know it seems real, and I know it will stick with you, possibly forever, but you are one of the strongest young women I’ve ever met. You’ll be back to yourself in time.”
She smiles softly back and nods her head. Clint nods to the man and takes Ginelle’s paw in his hand before speaking. “Thank you Mr. Dennerman.”
“Bah, please, call me Richard.”
“Hey, you always made me call you Mr. Dennerman.” You say, pouting.
Richard gives you a flat look before saying, “Well that’s because you need to learn respect.”
“You say that like it’s in the present tense.”
“That is intentional.”
You sigh while the others chuckle, Clint the loudest, that bastard. Still smiling, he asks, “How are you feeling though? What will you do from here?”
Richard leans back in his chair and folds his arms, sighing. “I don’t know. My mind is much more clear than before.” He turns his head to side and smirks, “You can come out you know. You’ve been hiding for too long.”
Abigail huffs and appears out of thin air. Hannah and her husband jump some but they get over it quickly enough. In fact, her husband quickly runs out and gets a bowl of food to Abigail while Hannah pulls her up a chair. The Titania looks uncomfortable about the whole situation, but when you remind her that she showed herself in full view in a damn plaza, her face goes absolutely scarlet.
“You know, I’ve been wondering.” You ask as she gets settled. “Why did you always hide all the time?”
Abigail fidgets and mumbles, “I don’t like crowds…”
You blink in surprise for a moment before blurting out, “You’re joking. You hid this entire time because you were shy?”
“YES I AM SHY!” She shouts, hiding her face in her hands. All of you just stare at her while Akela pats her on her back gently.
Everyone goes quiet for a long while, feeling awkward before Richard coughs into his hand. “Well then, uhh, thank you again for helping with that insanity thing. Do you think you can do it again?”
“No.” She says through her hands. “Not on you or Tobias. I can’t explain why, but there’s a certain level of implicit harm you’ve done to yourselves that can’t be absorbed.”
“I see.” Richard says before shaking his head. “Well, that’s fine then. I thank you anyway. As far as what I’m to do, well… Tobias kind of took my job.” He rubs his chin and gives you a funny look. “Do you still my savings?”
“Yeah, yeah…” You say, taking out the pouch and placing it on the table. He looks through the bag before scoffing.
“Dear Gods boy, what were you buying?!”
“Leyway tickets mostly.” You say, shrugging. Richard grumbles about kids these days before securing the pouch.
“Fine, fine. Well, I never really considered retirement, but I guess relaxing sounds nice.” He eyes you curiously. “Do you actually plan on continuing this path?”
You shrug, “I told Jackor I’d do it, I guess.” You sigh. “Though that would be in between my more important task.” You take Saya’s hand and she blushes before looking down.
“Honestly Tobias, you’ve really changed that it means to be an Illusionist.” Richard sighs, a look of pain coming to his face. “But the world is changing so rapidly too, leaving us all behind. I think a quiet life would suit me nicely. Maybe I’ll still raise little shits like you, I don’t know.”
“Are you returning to Kasin?” Clarissa asks, and Richard shakes his head.
“I don’t think so. I think I might just move to Loveura, spend my twilight years here…”
“Richard, you’re like, forty-five. You’re not in your twilight years.” You say, rolling your eyes.”And what about your house? What makes you want to move here?”
Richard hesitates, allowing Abigail to fill the void. “It’s for that Dryad.” When everyone gives her surprised looks, she frowns and says, “Oh come on. It’s obvious, weren’t you watching? Besides, being inside a Dryad for so long is a very… intimate experience.”
Everyone snaps back to Richard whose face is beet red. “W…well, I mean it has been awhile, and I was out of my mind some, but Ulala is nice and I thought, maybe…”
“Oh my gosh, good for you!” Clarissa says, flapping her wing hands without thinking and making a mess. Hannah gives her a disapproving look, but even she looks happy for Richard.
“It will be nice to have you living here.” Ophelia says, smiling broadly. “I can pull some strings and perhaps find you a nice place in the Main district.”
“That would be appreciated.” Richard says, though Ophelia’s eyes glean.
“And maybe I could consult you every so often on magical applications of illusion magic in magitek and…” She trails off as you frown at her before she coughs into her hand. “Sorry. Uhm, well I’m going to be staying here for now. While that trip was fun at times, it was quite…”
You nod at her and smile. “I understand. It was really nice having you with us Ophelia. I’m sorry about before, putting you in so much danger…”
“Oh, well.” Ophelia says, looking over her shoulder and chuckling. “It’s not so bad. Tingles every so often and left a scar but I hear guys like those sort of things.” When you look at her incredulously, she huffs, “Oh come on, I can’t stay cooped up forever, I AM a Rabbit afterall.”
“Yep.” Abigail says, finally getting out of her slump and eating her stew, the bottomless pit. “She lusted after your D anyway.”
“Abigail, there’s a child here!” Saya says, folding down Akela’s ears. The little Anubis looks at her oddly, clearly able to hear normally.
“What, Abigail’s told me about the D already. It stands for Delicious. Tobias taught her the magic of deliciousness.”
She says this with a completely straight face and all three of you slowly turn your heads to Abigail who looks at you smugly. You cough into your hand before turning to the beet read Ophelia. “Yeah, I remember and uh… well, I wish you luck.”
“Y…yeah.” Ophelia says, looking down into her glass. “Maybe you can come to visit? Or maybe you’ll settle down here?…”
You and Saya exchange glances before looking down at Akela. You sigh and shake your head. “Well, first off we need to go back and take care of some business in Sanctifrond, but afterward…” Saya nods her head and you continue. “Maybe somewhere small and cozy.”
“Like Kasin?” Richard says, smirking. “You know, there’s a nice house out there, Plenty of room for a family.”
“Richard…” You say, looking abashed. “I can’t take your house!”
“Eh, I won’t be using it anyway.” He says, shrugging. “You deserve it. Besides, you’ll get to be near your best friend, Clarissa!~”
“You’re never going to let this go. You’re going to keep bullying me forever, aren’t you?”
“Yes.” Richard chuckles. “Yes I am.” He turns to Clarissa and asks, “What are you going to do then?”
“Uhm, well.” Clarissa says, scratching her head. “I guess I’ll return to my job. I’m pretty good at it you know. It’s also a LOT less dangerous than fighting.”
“Sounds good.” You say, nodding your head. You look to Clint and Ginelle, and the man gets your meaning immediately.
“Like I said before, we’re boarding a Leyway to Sanctifrond. Give us both some time to recover, and I suppose I can’t avoid my family forever.”
“What about Ginelle’s family?” Ophelia asks, and both you and the Badger go quiet.
“It’s fine. They’ll understand.” Ginelle whispers quietly. Ophelia looks at her with a concerned look before slowly nodding her head.
“Well, we’ll have to meet when we’re in town.” Saya says, bringing up the mood. “Besides, if you ever need anything, I’m your friend, right?”
Ginelle blinks a few times before some of her old energy seems to appear back in her voice. “Yeah. You are.” A small shine comes to her eyes. “Though I’ll be much better at this girlfriend thing than you.”
Saya huffs before arguing with Ginelle, the two smiling the whole time. Clint watches with amusement while Ophelia and Clarissa talk amongst themselves as Hannah and her husband clean up the table. You briefly hear Akela whispering to Abigail but you let the two have their fun before you turn to Richard to find the man smiling at you.
“Tobias… You’ve really grown.”
“It’s been like, three weeks or something since we last saw each other.” You say, shrugging. “I can’t have grown that much.”
“You know what I mean. Look at all these people you’ve gathered, all the adventures you’ve gone on. You’re a regular Grand Wizard.”
You blush. “No, I’m not that great. I would have gone to the Cradle, or found a way to save the Fort or…or…”
He puts a hand on your shoulder and squeezes tightly. You look up into his eyes, finding that despite it all, you still feel like a child before him. He smiles warmly at you and says. “You gathered a group and fought things no one else would. You did everything asked of you, more even, and came out on top. Not even the Grand Wizard could protect everyone, and he had to make choices too, didn’t he?”
You nod your head slowly as he continues. “I can tell just by looking at you and the way the others look up to you. Fiora… she was a master of illusions, but like you told her, there was just something she never understood. It’s not being a trickster, though it is related. Being an Illusionist is being someone who can adapt to their situation change to fit the need. You took up the mantle of a leader, of a lover, of a father, and of a savior.”
You feel your heart pounding in your chest as his praise washes over you. “Out of all my students, you’re the one I feel most comfortable leaving my legacy to. Tobias, I’m proud of you.”
You pause for a long time before closing your eyes and nodding your head slowly. “You have no idea what that means to me. I… thank you Richard. For everything.”
“Haha. Well, you’re not a master yet, but you’ll get there.” Richard says, chuckling. He looks about at the others and leans in to whisper, “I have one last thing to ask as your Master.”
“Hmmm?” You say, leaning in for him to whisper into your ear.
“You better include me in your wedding you little shit.”
You sit there, stunned as Richard pulls away, laughing like you’ve never seen before.
“Uhm… Master Shady? Your son and the daughter of the Monster Lady are here to see you.”
No response is heard on the other side of the large, rosewood doors leading to your father’s study. You sigh, expecting this response, and Saya squeezes your hand for reassurance. You smile at her and walk up to the door, pounding on it with your fist.
“Father, open up. I know you’re in there, you’re ALWAYS in there.” You wait a few moments before pounding on the door again and then sighing, moving your hand to the handle. Innes panics some, but with a glance from you he freezes and then shrinks backward. Shaking your head, you continue to the handle and turn it, opening the door.
“One of these days, you’ll learn some manners.” Lord Shady says, sighing as he puts down some papers. “But I suppose I must entertain you.”
“You could tell us to leave.” You say with an expressionless face.
“Yes, but that would be rude, and your Mother is in the room.”
You cock your head as he holds out his hand and turn to see your mother sitting at the end of your father’s desk, going over some papers of her own. She’s set them down already and is in the process of standing up to greet you when she pauses and turns to her husband. He rolls his eyes and waves his hand, and she walks over to you to give you a hug.
“Oh, it’s so nice to see you again dear.”
“Thank you, mother.” You say, noting the lack of love in her voice. She smiles as if she sees your lack of feeling as well before she turns to Saya.
“My my, and this must be the famous Saya. Daughter of the Monster Lady and the Grand Wizard.” She bows as much as is proper to Saya, no more, and says. “It is a pleasure to welcome you into our home.”
Saya, for her part, gives a warm smile and replies, “Of course, you have a wonderful home. It is a pleasure to be a guest here.” She bows in return before saying, “I can see where Tobias gets his looks from.”
“Oh my, you Monsters are so full of flattery!” Lady Shady says, putting a hand to her mouth as she false chuckles. “My, what brings the two of you here, without invitation or notice?”
The insult is there, you know it’s there. You begin to wonder just how long it will be until they stop veiling them. Oh well, better play the game too. You smile back at her and say, “Well, I merely wished to introduce my girlfriend to you. See, I really do like her, and when that is the case, you introduce them to your parents.” You emphasize this, you take Saya’s hand, and your Mother gasps, stepping backward as her face grows red.
You father stands up and slams his hands on the table as he shouts, “You DARE come in here and show us such SMUT with this…this abhuman creature!”
Ah, so that’s how long it would take. You chuckle and pull Saya toward you, kissing her on the lips before turning to your parents. “Come now, it’s some harmless affection between two lovers…”
“Tobias…” Saya mutters, her face going red. “Is this a good idea?”
Your Mother stammers, “M…my own son! Doing such a thing with…with!”
Smirking with some satisfaction, you turn back to your father, ready to push your little vengeance in further when you see him take a shuddering breath and then slowly sit back down in his chair. You, Saya, and your Mother all stare at him in surprise as he slowly folds his hands on his desk and takes a deep breath before exhaling. Everyone waits in silence as he slowly begins to say,
“Fine. You want to have relations with her, then go ahead. I don’t care.”
“D..dear…” Your Mother says, looking a little faint. “What are you saying? He’ll pollute our line with… with some kind of… abominations!”
“I’m in the room you know…” Saya mutters under her breath, though the way she squeezes on your hand, you know that she wants to go off on them.
“He may do what he wishes.” Your father says, looking into your eyes. “Forgive my outburst before, you know my opinions on the matter.”
“Yes, I do.” You say, nodding your head. “But I stand by my earlier assertions. It is the standard course. Besides, shouldn’t you be happy? The son of the hated Monster killers, having relations with the Daughter of the two most powerful people in the country.”
Your father’s mouth quirks. “That’s what you think? Well, I suppose you would.” He shakes his head and says, “Fine, you want to marry her right? Go ahead, you’re going to do it anyway.”
You narrow your eyes, watching your father. Your mother is busy muttering to herself about something, but him… he looks unconcerned now, as if he had everything in hand. You look at him askance and ask, “What are you hiding.”
“Business.” He says, tapping the desk. “I don’t need you anymore. You’re improving our political status, especially with your becoming friends with the Fullvora boy, but I don’t need you any longer. Soon enough, the Shady house will be back on top and it won’t matter what you do.”
You frown deeply, not understanding what he’s meaning. You mother, still a little stunned, manages to pull herself up enough to nod her head slowly. “Yes… he’s right. Your father is always right, a lesson you should have learned long ago.”
Saya, losing some of her cool, lets her skin blacken, but you squeeze her hand and shake your head. She looks into your eyes before looking aside and returning to her normal human colorations. You slowly turn back to your parents, putting the full formality back on as you say, “Very well then. I trust I am disowned then?”
“Of course not. Though don’t think about asking for money.” You father says, sneering.
“I see. Very well then, because I have plenty of funds from my work with the crown.” You nod to your father and say, “I thank you for your blessings and your kind words to Saya.”
“Mrmph.” You mother grunts before nodding her head. “Of…course. Perhaps you’ll bring this… daughter of yours here one day too.”
“No, I’d rather not bring her to toxic places until she’s old enough to understand the risks.” You say, smiling. “Well, if that’s that then, we’ll be on our way.”
“You know the way out.” You father says, waving his hand before shouting, “Innes!”
The door opens a moment later and the servant walks in, bowing deeply. “This way, Master Shady.”
You nod your head and follow after the man, Saya’s arm through your own. You pause at the door and turn your head back to your father one last time.
“Oh, yes. My employers are quite interested in watching me and those I’m related to. Agent Anderson says hello.” You turn about before you hear a reply, letting Innes close the door behind you.
“Tobias, really, did you have to antagonize them?” Saya sighs, putting her hand to her head as she leans back in the carriage you hired.
The slow clopping of the horse’s hooves across the paving stones of Sanctifrond beat in a steady rhythm, though it does not put you at ease. You watch as your family’s lands dwindle in the distance a frown plastered on your face. You sigh and say, “I don’t like it. They were too calm about all of this.”
“Your father called me an abhuman.”
“Yes, and that’s normal.” You say, frowning deeper. “The rest of it… he’s always so concerned with playing any advantage, I don’t get it.”
“Well. It’s nothing to worry about now.” Saya says, sliding up next to you and leaning her head on your shoulder. “I promise you that my parents will be much nicer. Well, assuming you don’t badger my dad to death with your fanboy nature.”
You turn to give her a flat look and she giggles, kissing you on the lips. You can’t help but smile and say, “Bah… well, at least we got this out of the way before the feast tonight.”
“Yeah, I’m kind of surprised they managed to get this all ready in only a week after us getting here.” Saya says, looking out the window. “I’m also surprised the Hero’s hall wants to do this. We didn’t really do anything for them.”
You shrug, “I don’t know. I mean, we did work with Patricia as well as a genuine Hero, Alice. Maybe Anderson pulled some strings? Wants to make us rewarded somehow?”
“I guess.” Saya sighs. “It’s been a week and you haven’t seen him, right?”
You frown. “No. All I can get is that he left out to the west. I can’t get any other information about him or what he’s doing. At least he paid me pretty well before vanishing.”
Saya chuckles. “Oooo, Mr. Moneybags!”
“Bah. Don’t even start. Besides, I gave a bunch to Clarissa to help maybe get her own delivery service off the ground.”
“Didn’t you try to give some to Clint, Ginelle, and Ophelia too?”
“Well. Yeah. But Clint just smiled at me and called me cute while Ophelia sent a very smug Leymail.” You throw your hands up. “Fucking Nobility, am I right?”
“Aww, you’re so cute when you’re an idiot.” Saya says, patting your head. You roll your eyes and she chuckles. “Well, you did invest in that art studio for Abigail, yes?”
“Hah, yeah. Color me surprised when I offered her freedom and she said she wanted to teach art. Honestly, I think with those fairy attendants of hers she’s going to do amazingly well. I’m thinking about sending Akela to study with her once she’s set up.”
“Ah, ah, ah. We have to think about Akela’s other education first.”
“Well, what about with Xanthia? I mean, she raised you well.”
Saya’s expression falls and she looks to the floor. “I don’t want to talk about Xanthia at the moment.”
“Ah… right.” You say, rubbing her shoulder. You’d gone to visit Xanthia earlier and she pretending like nothing ever happened, though you always felt like she was staring at Saya even when she looked directly at you. It was unnerving to say the least, but damn if that orphanage hadn’t been getting those poor kids out to wonderful homes in such a short period of time. Yes, people were a little creeped out by the Eldritch Horror in their midst, but once they saw how happy the children were, they went with it.
“Onto happier subjects.” You begin, smiling. “So, I hear that The Lord Commander and his Wife will be in attendance tonight.”
Saya exhales and rolls her eyes. “You are suuuuuchhhh a fanboy!”
“You know you love it.” You say and she chuckles, snuggling up against you.
“Yeah. I guess I do.”
You arrive at the Hero’s Hall from the inn a little after dark, both of you wearing your finest clothes. Of course, Akela and Abigail come with you, the little Anubis dressed in a cute outfit of cream while the Titania wore a much more distinguished dress of deep blue. She’s still wearing that hat though, paint stains and all. Despite her embarrassment, she’s been getting better over the short period of time, though she does still vanish every now and then.
Your carriage pulls into the roundabout and after you help the ladies out of your carriage, you stare in wonder at the sights before you. You’d been inside the Hero’s Hall before, but not like this. The place is done up with lights hanging everywhere, festive colors shining over the glass, creating a wonderful atmosphere. All about people in fine clothing and armor mill around, chatting over various drinks and the like, the disparity in their positions lost amongst the revelries.
You almost miss the sound of someone calling to you as you stand there, taking it all in. Noticing the voice, you turn and almost do a double take as you see Sergeant Fellows standing there, decked out in the uniform of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood. Beside him stands an older woman in a fine dress, and about them are three others, clearly related to Fellows due to their powerful jaw lines.
“I dare say, if it isn’t Tobias. Or should I rather, Lord Shady?”
“Sergeant Fellows?” You say, a smile coming to your face as you take the man’s hand. His grip is firm as iron, but you don’t mind.
“Hah, no, I’m now Hero Fellows! Took a little but to move out here, but when I applied, it seemed I had good references.” He pats his chest. “Seems they like a man with a sense of honor too, ohoho!”
“Congratulations.” You say, meaning it. “Though Loveura is much improved now. I’m sorry you had to change things so drastically.”
“Bah, never you mind that.” He says, chuckling. “My wife and kids are enjoying the city life and it’s good work. I feel twenty years younger!” He laughs louder before coughing. “Well, maybe fifteen years.”
Everyone chuckles and you exchange pleasantries before Fellows waves you off, saying that he’s looking forward to the presentation. Saya cocks her head, asking you what he means, but you just shrug. “Must be some kind of award ceremony.” You say before pointing to the dining hall.
“Hells yes, I’m starving.” Abigail says, fluttering into the air some before dropping and blushing. She puts a hand to her mouth, but no one seems to notice. The whole of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood changed quite radically since the inception of the Blake Beauregard and the Ascendant, Veronica. You can feel your copy of [Wizardquest] almost tingling in your pocket.
The inside of the dining hall is about what you expected it to be. Filled with tables hurriedly converted for finer diners with a variety of food across the walls and drinks as far as the eye can see. Heroes and nobility, with a few Hospitaliers every now and then, meander about, drinking or dancing to the music playing at the makeshift stage in the far corner of the building.
“Tobias!” You hear right before someone bodily tackles you, almost sending you to the ground. You manage to catch yourself before crashing and you flash to using an illusion before stopping as you realize just who ran into you.
“G…Ginelle, nice to see you here.”
She smirks up at you, gives your spine a little cracking and then pulls away, chuckling. “Been awhile, huh?”
“Honey, it’s been three days.” Clint says, walking up with wine glasses in each hand. He hands one to Ginelle who stares at it and drinks it all in one gulp. The man sighs and shakes his head, looking to you in apology. “I’m trying to teach her culture, but as you can clearly see…”
“I ain’t no lady…” Ginelle says, huffing. “Besides, wine still tastes a little funny. I like that honeyed mead we had a few nights ago.”
“You’ll never lose that sweet tooth, huh?” Clint says, chuckling. “Well, I don’t love you any less because of it.”
Ginelle blushes furiously and hides her face. “S…stop, we’re in public.”
“Ah, so maybe I can teach you some propriety.” He says, shaking his head, though he had a smile on.
“How are you feeling?” You ask Ginelle and she shrugs.
“Better, I suppose. I still have some nightmares but it’s nice to have someone next to me when I wake up.” She blushes some. “I’m sorry, this has to be a little awkward after… well.”
“Ginelle, please. I’m happy for you. I’m just glad you found someone that makes you happy.”
“Aye.” She says, smile coming to her lips. She shakes her head and looks at you, the smile becoming goofy. “Still, I can’t believe they’re having a party all for you.” She leans forward and winks so obviously at you that you almost groan. Clint saves you the trouble and puts a hand to her shoulder.
“Come now dear, let’s let them have some time around the party. Besides, I think Ophelia is around here somewhere.”
“Yes sir, I am!” Ophelia says, almost hopping up to the crowd from out of nowhere, her ears flopping about. She wears that lovely blue dress again, tailored some to be a little less tasteful, and she smiles at all of you.
“Has it really been a week? It feels like agggeesss.” She hugs Saya and Ginelle before smirking. “Clarissa is around here too I think. I thought I heard some squawking. Still, I think the gang is all here, right? I couldn’t miss a summons like this. A party in the Hero’s Hall? Think of all the connections I can make!”
“And all the cute boys, hmm?” Abigail says slyly, and Ophelia blushes. “C…c’mon Abigail…”
“It’s fine.” You say, shaking your head. “We’ll catch up with you later, alright?” They nod and wave to you as you head over to get food, your family loading up and moving to a table to eat the rather amazing food. Gods, being celebrated is wonderful. You look about the room when you hear someone sit down next to Akela and you turn to see Patricia sitting there, paws to her face.
“Oh my Gods, Saya is this your daughter? She’s ADORABLE! Can I hug her?”
“Uhhh.” Akela says, looking worried, but Patricia hugs her anyway. The Anubis wheezes some but doesn’t fight back as she’s dropped back into her seat by the overeager Wolfgirl. You shake your head and look in surprise to see Patricia dressed in an actual dress instead of her scholarly attire. You must say, the green looks good on her.
“Damn, now you make me want to have one. That Xanthia is still adopting, right?”
“Yeah, but you have to find a man first.” Saya says, sticking her tongue out to Patricia who huffs.
“Oh, you may have found a man first, but I’ll find a better one, you’ll see!”
“Oh, will your man have a celebration at the Hero’s Hall for saving the world?”
“Oh that is SO LIKE YOU.” Patricia says, scoffing.
“Children, please. This is a happy event.” A firm man’s voice says.
All of you turn and stare in shock as a tall man in a rich dress uniform walks up, an expertly crafted blade at his hip. On his chest is the symbol of the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood, and you don’t even have to guess at who he is.
“T…th…the G…gre…” You stammer, but he holds out a hand, laughing such a rich, beautiful laughter.
“Peace. I have heard much about you from my daughter.” The Lord Commander says, nodding to Patricia. “I must say, you do have the bearing of a man who’s braved dangers. A fine partner for Saya, the daughter of my best friend.”
“I…t…thank you.” You say, blushing furiously. You fumble for your book when you hear a wolfish voice squeal,
“Oh my Gods, she IS cute, isn’t she?”
You turn about to see Akela yelp again as another Wolfgirl, this one looking much more well-figured and mature, hugs Akela. “You remind me of my fourth daughter!”
Blake sighs and turns to the newcomer. “Honey, we talked about this.”
Hala turns to him and pouts. “Oh… very well then.” She sighs and stands up to curtsey to you. “A pleasure to meet you, Lord Shady. I am terribly sorry we could not meet beforehand.”
“Wow, Hala using manners.” Saya says, chuckling. “I never thought I’d see the day.”
“Hey, listen here young lady, I’m a bone-a-fide lady now. My husband says so.”
“Uhhhh.” Blake begins but cuts off as Hala shoots him a dirty look. “Anyway. It is a pleasure to have you here, and behalf of all the Order of the Heroic Brotherhood. I salute you for your bravery.” He puts a fist to his chest in salute and you almost feel faint.
“Come now Blake, the child is about to faint, can’t you see?” A matronly voice says. You turn slowly to see Veronica, the Ascendant approach, clad in a light dress of pure white. She grabs a roll off your plate as she approaches and bites into it. “You have to use subtlety.”
You do actually faint for a moment before Saya snaps you back to reality. You begin to tremble some as all your heroes stand about you, and you quickly pull the book out and say, “PLEASE CAN YOU SIGN THIS.”
They all look to each other and giggle, Blake taking the book and looking it over. “Ah, you chose my copy. Good eye, I knew I liked you.” He opens the book and pauses before saying, “Although the fact that you forged a signature from Delilah seems weird.”
“Huh?” You say, snapping of your dream-like state. “What do you mean?”
Blake turns the book to you and both you and Saya look at in surprise. Blake’s eyes go wide and he says, “Holy hells, you saw Delilah? How was she?”
“Long story Blake.” Saya says, shaking her head. “But needless to say, looks like she snuck into camp and signed your book.”
“How in Nerg’s name did she know I wanted her signature?” You mutter, and in the distance you hear dark laughter. Clearly, it’s nothing. C…clearly.
Everyone takes turns writing in your book and handing it back to you. You cradle it in your arms for awhile, trying to stop from giggling, though some sound escapes. Saya shakes her head while Blake and Veronica chuckle as Hala addresses Saya.
“A shame your parents couldn’t be here. Been awhile since everyone was together.”
“Yes…” Saya says, sighing. “Important mission out in the West where the leylines aren’t set well.”
“The Black Forest mission?” Blake asks, and she shakes her head.
“I don’t think so. They should be back soon though.”
“Aye, let’s hope.” Veronica says before clapping her hands. “Alright then, that’s enough from us codgers. Let’s let the young have their moment. It’s almost time you know.”
They all smirk at each other and you begin to sweat some as Saya looks about in confusion. You clap your hands together and hurriedly say, “Soooo, where’s Alice? I thought she’d be here?”
“Alice? Ah, yes… her.” Blake says, sighing. “She said she was going to find Tabitha. Would be a miracle as the only person who ever knows where she is would be the Wizard.”
“Oh. I see.” You say, sighing. “Well, I wish her good luck then. She’s a real demon with that sword.” Blake nods his head in agreement and you exchange a few more pleasantries before they head away. You finish your food with one hand, the other clutching your book tightly, despite Akela giving you worried looks.
“Don’t worry sweetie.” Saya says, sighing. “Maybe he’ll love us that much one day.”
“Don’t count on it.” You say, and the both give you level stares. You laugh as the music dies down and everyone turns to the stage where Blake stands, flanked by Hala and Veronica.
“Welcome, one and all. Be at peace here in the Hero’s Hall, where all with the spirit of a Hero are welcome, whether they be man or Monster.” He squeezes Hala’s hand at that and she blushes before he returns to the crowd. “Today, we have called this great celebration in honor of the heroic deeds a group whose deeds saved many lives and furthered peace in this Kingdom.” He points toward you and you feel faint again.
“Now then, the two of you, would be please come up to the stage?”
Everyone claps as you rise slowly, heading up to the stage to stand next to your idols. You notice Ginelle, Clint, and Ophelia doing the same and in moments both you and Saya are standing center stage. You take a deep breath before turning to the crowd and addressing them.
“People of Sanctifrond. Heroes of the Order. It is with a great honor that I address you. Some of you may know me, or of my family, but that is neither here nor there. We did not go about this quest seeking honor or glory, but instead with a devotion to do what needed to be done. A conviction shared through all the people in this room.”
People murmur to themselves at this and you turn to Saya and your other friends. “But that is not the main reason we are here, is it?”
Saya looks at you with surprise and then confusion. She looks about to the others who merely smile before turn she turns back to you. “Uh… what are you talking about?”
Your hands shaking, you gulp and slowly go down to a knee. Saya’s eyes go very wide at this, and you hold your hand high into the air, where a jubilant cry rings out and Clarissa flies by dropping a ring into the palm of your hand. She settles down next to the others, her dress ruffled, but you’d never know by the smile on her face.
Saya put a hand to her mouth, tears forming as you say, “Sorry about the trick. But I thought you deserved something grand like this. You’re just that special of a woman to me Saya. That being said…” You take in a deep breath before saying with perfect clarity:
“Saya, will you marry me?”
Tears begin to roll down her cheeks as she nods her head and chokes out, “Yes, I will. Oh… oh gods, I will!”
You stand up and she presses forward to kiss you deeply. Everyone begins to clap in the hall at your surprise proposal and from behind you a dazzling light show begins as Abigail flies into the air and plays her powers through the Hall. You notice in the corner Richard standing there, holding out a thumbs up, though you have no time to respond when Saya pulls away from you and laughs, her words choked by happy tears.
“You bastard. Trickster to the last, huh?”
“I fooled you into marrying me, didn’t I?”
“Are you sure you’re not just using an illusion to make yourself a wonderful man?”
“Too much effort. Besides, I’d never be certain if the woman I’m holding is just an insane delusion of mine.”
“Well, I guess we’ll just have to believe this is reality then.”
“I guess so.” You both kiss again to the raucous applause of the crowd.
You return to your inn a few hours later, after going through much more wine and congratulations than you ever thought you’d see. Saya was smiling the whole time, and she seem positively shocked to find out that you’d orchestrated the entire thing, even going so far as to get help from Blake via Patricia.
“Remember when I vanished right after we got into town?” You say, closing the door to the room where Abigail and Akela were sleeping. “Well, that’s when I went to see Blake, and man, he’s a harsh judge of character. Said since your dad wasn’t here, he’d have to be the judge.”
“Mom already told him about you though.” Saya says, rolling her eyes while looking at the ring on her finger. It cost you a fair chunk of change, though with your connections formed over your journey, you got it for a pretty good price. The single diamond in the center shines beautifully amidst the gold of the ring.
“Still… what a surprise.” Saya says as you open the door to your room. “You had me utterly in the dark. I should have guessed after that visit to your parent’s place.”
“Yeah, sorry about that.” You say, taking off your jacket. “Formalities, you know? But it turned out fine, right? I was worried you might think I was being too forward or something.” You turn about, undoing the top button of your undershirt. “But I felt it was right and…uh…”
You go quiet as you see Saya laying on the bed, somehow having gotten out of her clothing before you, her naked body a stark contrast to the dark comforter. She gives you a come-hither crook of the finger and before your eyes she changes form to that of a Cat-o’Nine-tails. You feel your boner trying to tear your pants into shreds, and you hurriedly tear off the rest of your clothing before almost jumping onto the bed.
Wrapping your arms around her, she squeals in delight, the two of you rolling about on the bed before she comes out on top and presses her lips to yours with a fiery passion. She pulls away before you faint, having gotten used to the amount of breath you can hold in your lungs and smiles. “You had me so flustered there beforehand that I couldn’t thank you properly. Of course, now that we’re to be husband and wife, there’s only one proper course.”
“Plan our mortgage?”
“If that’s what you mean by rough sex, then yes. Yes it is.”
“Oh, alright the-ah!” You yelp as Saya moves, quick as a cat to lay before you, her modest chest pressed firmly against the shaft of your member. She chuckles softly as her breasts expand some to encompass your cock and you groan, “Saya, come on, I told you that you don’t need to-“
She presses them against you and your objections cut off as she begins to rubs your member delicately with her breasts, using her tongue to tease your tip. She giggles, the soft vibrations of her voice sending ripples across the tender flesh of your rod and you let out a little moan of pleasure. Using this as encouragement, her feline eyes glitter and she continues the assault upon you, sending waves of pleasure through you while you only become stiffer in her grasp.
You begin to feel yourself twitching as she brings you close to a climax, but before you hit the point of no return, she quickly pulls away, leaving you with a deep sense of longing. You look at her, hurt, and she shakes her head, waving a finger at you.
“Uh uh uh. As your fiancé, I can’t waste any of your semen. We are going to give Akela a sister, aren’t we?”
You blink a few times before smiling broadly, feeling yourself get stiffer for some reason. “Just one?”
She laughs in delight and positions herself atop you, placing the wet opening of her slit against your cock and slowly feeding it into her. You feel the perfect mold of her vagina fit your cock like a lock and key once more and you shudder, half from pleasure and half from the knowledge that her body has memorized you. You smile in delight, though this quickly turns to mild terror as her bladed tails rise up behind her and shoot down before you can so much as yelp, pinning you to the bed. If you so much as move, you’d get sliced!
“U…uh Saya?” You say, sweating some. “What’s this?”
“Traditional Cat-o’Nine-Tails raping ritual.” She says, chuckling. “It’s very cultural.”
“Aha….ah. Hmm.” You say, thinking that perhaps you’re glad society has progressed past such barbaric days. Of course, as she starts to move her hips up and down and the lewd noises begin to sound, the extra adrenaline in your body seems to double the pleasure, and you find yourself rocking your hips in time with her.
She leans back, moaning in delight as she continues to rock on you, breasts moving up and down with every motion. Due to her early work though, you can only savor her pussy for so long before you feel yourself ready to blow. She knows it instinctively though and she chuckles, riding you even harder until you thrust your pelvis up into her and release a torrent of your sperm into her, her vagina milking you for all your worth.
You hips collapse to the bed and you pant some as she sighs in delight, gently rubbing her snatch, your cock still inside her. She slowly releases the blades caging you in and she leans forward to kiss you, though the sensation on your already sensitive manhood makes you grunt as she does so. She pulls back and says, “Hmmm, done already?”
“I mean, give me a moment and I can-” You cut off as Saya’s form shifts again, her feline features becoming canine, her pale skin becoming an olive tan. In moments, you find yourself dick first inside an Anubis with Saya’s face.
“What if I took this form and asked for cute little puppies?” She gives you puppy dog eyes and you have no choice but to get hard again. Saya’s canine tail wags furiously as you prepare yourself, but before she can use those mangrabbers of her to push you down, you use a quick little illusion to overbalance her and place her on her side, where you grab her leg in one hand and her tail in the other. She looks at you in shock and you smirk, “What, thought I’d do this doggy-style?”
“No, but-ahn!” She starts, but is cut off as you begin to thrust into her, your rapidly expanding manhood cutting off all complaints. Watching her cute expressions and moans as you slide in and out, pushing yourself as far as you can go gives you impetus to drive into her. She clearly has no objections, flowing into your rhythm, canine tongue lolling from her mouth as you continue the pressure into her.
Feeling adventurous, you lean down to her tall, canine ear and nibble on it, making her let out a little yip of surprise before you feel her shudder and clamp down harder on your cock. You whisper into her ear, “Did you just come from me nibbling your ear?”
“S…shut up a…and keep-” She ends up shutting up as you pick up the pace, forcing her to place a paw over her mouth to muffle her cries of delight. You feel yourself once again build up for an explosion of a climax and she sighs, “Gods, yes, yes, please let it all out into me.”
“So lewd.” You say, smiling. “But if that’s what you want.” You begin to piston pace within her until you reach your limit, spraying her insides with another coat of your white paint. Though you feel a little tired, it’s her turn to lay there, looking dazed from your rough pounding. You chuckle and slowly pull out of her, but before you can get far, she grabs your dick and whispers,
You stop, watching as her fluffy paw gently transforms into a human hand that caresses your shaft. You look down upon Saya’s human form, the one you first fell in love with, watching that beautiful chest of her rise and fall in slow motions as she stares into your eyes with a mix of lust, passion, and a deep love.
“Tobias I…” She pauses, then looks to the side, face growing red.
“Ah, I see.” You say, leaning over to kiss her. “It’s fine Saya. I love you no matter how you look.”
A tear forms in her eye as she slowly nods her head and her skin turns black, one eye becoming the red, arachnid eye. Though the texture of her skin becomes a little more gooey, it doesn’t burn, and she managed to hold the form of a human fairly well. You marvel at her, once more looking upon her true form, and you can’t help but feel this is the most intimate thing she’ll ever share. You hang your head, grateful to have me such a wonderful woman and whisper,
“F…for what?” She says, sounding embarrassed.
“For being you.” You say, rousing yourself for another bout. You gently lean over and kiss her on the “mouth”, the sensation a little cool, but not unpleasant. She reciprocates as you feel yourself come to full mast, and when the time is right, you hold your cock out toward her opening, which is marked by rivulets of ivory across a sea of ebony.
She nods her head slowly as you enter her, feeling somehow much more lewd than before. You position yourself in the missionary position and gently take her hands in yours as you rest inside her for a moment, taking the scene in. Like clockwork, both of you begin your motions at the same time.
Maybe it’s the hands intertwined or perhaps having sex in the missionary position for the purpose of procreation, but something about this scene feels far more lewd than anything you’ve done before. This drives both of you and you pick up the tempo, each savoring the flavors of each other’s sex, taking pleasure in the simple motions of the sex.
It is not rough, it is not fast, it is not strong. It is just right for both of you, and when you feel yourself coming to a close, you can tell Saya is on the verge too. Moving faster and faster, you lean down to kiss her firmly, your hands pressing into the semi-solid mush of hers. With a powerful thrust, you ejaculate for a third time, yet it feels far more powerful than the last two, as if there is more purpose behind it.
You both pull away from each other, smiling and panting as you pull out and lay down beside her, catching your breath. She squishes up next to you and sighs, reminiscent of your first time together, though without the furrows in your back (save some from the blades.) She traces a lazy finger across your chest and sighs, “Do you think things will stay this happy?”
“Who knows.” You say, pushing aside Jackor’s last words of warning. “All I know is that we’ll damn well try.”
“Good answer Mr. Hero.” She says, snuggling her head against your chest. “Good answer.”
>6 months later
You sigh and put down the paper, having finished your morning read. It’s strange, you used to hate reading such things, but recently you found the quiet simplicity of print to be nicer than reading from the Communion Matrix. Besides, now that you’re a member of the community, might as well get to know what’s happening locally, right?
Looking out the window, you see the idyllic little town of Kasin, where you’d settled down after your wedding. The golden band on your finger shines brightly in the sunlight and you’re reminded of your wedding day a few months back in Loveura. All of your friends were there, even Richard and Ulala, and the memory of Saya in her wedding dress…
You shake your head, still smiling at the thought of such happy times. It’s hard to believe that in such a short period of time you went from the impetuous young trickster to a family man. Of course, Akela was off with her studies with the other children in town, with plans to send her off to see Abigail in the summer for art courses. You’ll miss her happy smile and wagging tail as she comes home from school, eager to tell you about what she’s learned, but she still practices art all day. You’ll do whatever she wants.
You feel a little thirsty and get up to make something to drink when you hear a knock at the door. Cocking your head, you head over to open it when you hear from upstairs, “Coming!”
A thunderous chorus of steps rumbles from the stairs followed by a shout and a crash. Your heart thunders hard in your chest as you run to the front of the house, yelling, “SAYA?!”
“Ach, I’m alright, I’m alright.” Saya says, sighing as she transforms her hand back to that of a human. It had been protecting her from the fall by becoming fairly impact resistant, but you see her muttering to herself as she has some difficulty putting everything back in place. Recently she’s been having problems shapeshifting, but given the circumstances, you figure that’s normal.
You place a hand to your chest and breath out a sigh of relief as you help her up. “Saya, Gods, you scared me. Are you alright?”
“Tch, as if a little fall could hurt me. A little shaken up, but fine.”
“Are you sure? I can help you lie down, maybe-“
“Dear, it’s fine.” She says, rolling her eyes. “You’re way too protective these days.”
“Don’t I have the right to be? Besides, I was gone for a few weeks on that mission and I was worried sick about you two.”
“Just us two, huh?” Saya says, lip curling in a smirk. “Well, we might as well not keep Clarissa waiting.”
“Eh? Clarissa? How do you know it’s Clarissa?”
“Uhhhh, because I opened the door when I heard the shout.” Clarissa says, coughing into her wing-hand. “You two uh… need a moment?”
Your cheeks flush as Saya and Clarissa laugh at your expense. You take a deep breath and then exhale before turning fully to Clarissa. “Well, what brings the best private courier to this neck of the woods?”
Clarissa clacks her tongue and rolls her eyes, apparently the popular thing these days. Her outfit, black like her wings, but trimmed with white and lined with fur for cold weather was very stylistic. She digs into her messenger bag monogrammed with a crow wing over a field and pulls out a few letters. “Just doing my job. Also, I need to look after the new recruits, do some paperwork-“
“You need to fire those Danuki.” You say flatly.
She rolls her eyes. “Yes, yes, I’ll get around to it once they stop making me money. Anyway I also wanted to say hello to my friends before getting some sleep at home. Besiiiiddddesssss-” She says, shoving the letters into your hands before hopping over to Saya and kneeling down. “I wanted to say hello to the little one!”
Saya chuckles and places her hands on her belly, which had become quite swollen with child. Your child, that is. Seeing her happy expression when she began to see the signs of pregnancy was another moment you’ll cherish forever. Of course, the way that she’s smiling now with Clarissa also makes you happy. Hells, the only things that DON’T make you happy these days are bills, your work, and the news.
Your mind drifts to the paper from earlier today, and the reports of crop yields becoming much higher than expected. This is a good thing, but the with reports of trees growing faster, fields expanding rapidly, and other accelerated plant growth, you have to wonder if there’s something more to all of this. The Cradle has been silent since six months ago and no one can figure out exactly what’s going on. Not even Anderson, who has been elusive since then can find a good reason.
“Oh! I felt her kick!” Clarissa says, chirping happily. “Or her think… it kicked. Uhm, what exactly are you going to give birth too anyway?”
“A Monster just as hideous as her mother.” You say, stuffing the letters into your vest pocket for later.
“Dear, I swear to Nerg, I’ll keep you locked outside when the birthing happens if you don’t stop with that.” She sniffs and places her hands on her hips. “Besides, she’ll have that terrifying smile of yours.”
Your teeth shine like a beacon as you say, “Oh, however will she go on in this world?”
“It will be hard for her.” Saya says, patting her belly. “I just want to make sure she has a better time figuring out what she is than I did when I was young.”
“Ah, if anyone can raise a strong, dysfunctional child, it’s you two.” Clarissa says, chuckling. “Not to say that Akela is dysfunctional or anything!”
“What high praise.” You say, smirking. “But I wonder Clarissa, when you are going to find a nice man? What about Davis down the block? He looks nice.”
“Ugghhh you sound like my Mother and Richard!” She huffs and crosses her wings. “I’ll find someone in my own time, and my babies will be ten times cuter than yours!” She realizes what she said a moment later and blushes furiously, hiding her face.
“Mmm, well, you’ll have competition with that.” Saya says. “Ginelle made the same boast, though as far as I can tell, she’s not pregnant. Apparently she doesn’t want to give up drinking at the moment and she’s started sparring with the Order Heroes so spitting out little honey addicts isn’t really on her list of important things at the moment.”
“Yeah, and Clint is up to his ass in his family’s affairs.” You say, sighing. “Haven’t even finalized the marriage contracts, have they?”
“Nobility, dear.” Saya says, sighing. “I like our nice little place out here.”
“Well, I think it suits both of you.” Clarissa says, beaming. “Well, I have to be off, take care you two!”
You wave to her as she leaves and flies off, a certain sense of confidence in her wingbeats she lacked before. You shake your head and close the door before turning to your pregnant wife, beaming. She narrows her eyes and turns her head to the side. “Uhhh, why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because I just saw the most beautiful thing in the world.”
“So I’m a thing, huh?” She says as you walk up and put an arm around her waist. She chuckles as you lean in to kiss her, but before you can reach, she places a finger to your lips. You blink in surprise as she pulls out the letters from your pocket, three of them, and looks them over. “Mmm, one from Ophelia, another from Richard, and the last one…” She turns it over in her hands. “Not certain actually.”
“Bills probably…” You mutter darkly before opening up Ophelia’s letter and reading it aloud.
How are you? Things are great here! We’ve started work on a new line of Magitek resistors for an application I’m not supposed to talk about, as well as some new Leyway components. Think the Gulanz was fast? This is going to blow that all out of the water. Beyond that, things are good! Been on a few dates now and uhm, well, no one really understands magitek these days. I fear I’ll have to look to Sanctifrond sometimes, but I will persevere!
Anyway, you’re probably wondering why I’m sending this via mail. Well, because Clarissa is fast, and also because I don’t want anyone to see it. Sorry, but I still think Anderson is spying on you. See, I wanted to talk about the Blitzers. We only just finished decommissioning them when they were scooped up by crown officials and taken away to who knows where. I’ve tried talking with everyone I can, but Mother says it’s out of her hands. Of course, a LARGE sum of gold appeared in our accounts the next day, so I think she knows more than she’s letting on.
I know you’re out of the business of being a hero, what with Saya being pregnant (Say hi to her for me), but I was hoping maybe you could let her parents know? I bet Anderson is involved and honestly, I’d rather the crown have them than some renegades but I don’t know what to say. This smells wrong for some reason.
Ah, but enough of my ramblings. I’ll see the two of you next month for the ball, yes? I hear Richard will be in attendance! Did you hear he found a way for one of Ulala’s roots to grow into his place? I hear they’re finally able to sleep together! Not like that, though I don’t know… people say they hear strange things around her tree at night.
Well, until next we meet, have a good one!
Ophelia Persephone Illoma”
You frown at the letter as you finish reading, going over it again with your eyes before looking up to Saya who sighs and shakes her head. “Contact Mom and Dad huh? A little easier said than done.”
“Still no word from them?”
“No, last I spoke with them was a short Leymail from dad about two months ago, saying he was on the border of Ectria to the east. He wouldn’t speak about what they were doing, but he was utterly devastated again that he had to miss our wedding.”
“And he still hasn’t signed my copy of his book!” You say, frustrated.
“He said he’d runically sign it, if that makes you happy.”
“Not the same thing, and you know it!”
“I know, I know.” Saya sighs. “But we have to trust he’s doing something important out there. Besides, you still don’t have Tabitha’s signature either.”
“No one knows where Tabitha is…” You grumble. “She’s more slippery than an eel-girl.”
“Nothing is that slippery.” Saya says, smirking and rubbing your shoulder. “Come on, read the next one.”
You roll your eyes and open the letter from Richard, reading it allowed as well.
Greetings from Loveura! Things are going well here for both myself and Ulala, and since it’s been a while since our last letter, I thought I’d send one. You know I don’t care for that Communion Matrix anyway.
I’ve found myself a little restless after going into retirement, but with the money I have saved up I’ve been living comfortably. My old connections, or well, YOUR old connections have located a few children I can teach, so I might take up another pupil. Of course, with Ulala around, I might not have as much attention for them as I did with you.
Speaking of which, Ulala’s experienced some rapid growth, and not in that way you little shit, which has allowed her to reach her roots further through the town and even into my little place. She’s able to project herself in there now, which is great, especially since she feels super invigorated for some reason. In fact, all the plant Monsters recently have been extra frisky. None of them can really describe why they feel this way, and not even Abigail is able to coax a satisfactory answer out of them.
I find it a good thing though, and wished to send my regards to you and Saya once again. I hope to see both of you next month, with little Akela in tow also! Ophelia will be present as well, so I’m told. That rabbit has been bouncing around everywhere after she met you, and she’s become quite the belle of the town, though I don’t thinks he sees it herself. Some things never change I suppose.
With best regards,
“Again with the plants.” You mutter to yourself before closing the letter and sighing. “Well, I’m glad things are going well for him otherwise.”
“After everything that happened to him, me too.” Saya says before sighing. “I do wonder what happened when he was inside of her for so long though.”
“Same thing that happened with Lor when I went and freed him a few months back.” You say, shrugging. “Abigail managed to get him feeling better and with Patricia’s notes, we killed the plant in his brain. Khloe is jealous as the hells, but she supports them at least.”
“Mmm, and the rapid growth of trees with her directing it certainly makes the logging operation more profitable than it was before, right?”
“Yeeeep. Still have my lifetime pass on the Leyways because of it too.” You say, chuckling. “Seriously, tickets are expensive!”
“I know, I know, you worry-wort. Maybe if you didn’t buy fancy, arachne-silk clothing, you wouldn’t have to worry about these things.”
“Saya, I went through hell and killed many people while wearing that suit and never once did it stain. I can’t imagine buying any OTHER kind of clothing.”
“Well, you made one rich and happy Lizardman.” She sighs. “Oh, speaking of Patricia, I hear she still hasn’t gotten out of her books long enough to find a man.”
“Mmm, actually she’s dating someone. A graduate in theological studies.” You say, shrugging.
“Whaaaaaaat, I didn’t hear that!” Saya says, pouting. “She normally gloats to me about these things!”
“I thinks he wanted more ammo first.” You say, chuckling. “Besides, her side job researching the materials brought back from the Black Forest has kept her very much busy.”
“Well, good for her then.” Saya says. She looks to the other letter and says, “Might as well open it and get it out of the way.”
“Oh, right.” You pull the letter out and flip it over in your hands. The paper seems weathered badly, and the script addressed to you and Saya seems hurriedly scrawled, almost illegible. You go to open it when the door swings open again and Akela shouts,
You blink and tuck the letter away, smiling as you kneel down with your arms wide to scoop up Akela as she leaps into your arms for a hug. It’s only been a few months, but she already seems larger and certainly more confident. She hugs you tightly with her strong, black paws and you let her down to see her tail wagging fiercely.
“Hi honey, school’s already out?”
“Yup! We went over multiplication today, though it was dreadfully boring after what Ophelia taught me, though ancient Deleorian history was neat.”
“Gosh, we might just have to pack you up and send you off to university already!” You say, ruffling her hair. She chuckles and pushes you away, fixing her bangs before putting her paws back on her little backpack straps.
“Well, playing with Patricia might be fun, but I like my friends here. Except for Robbie Jenkins. He’s a jerk.”
“Ohhhh, looks like someone has a crush.” Saya says, smiling broadly. Akela turns her nose up in the air.
“If you say so.”
“Oh, you’ll figure it out someday.” Saya chuckles, holding her arms out. “Come on, give me a hug too.”
“What about the baby?” Akela asks, but walks over and hugs her anyway before leaning down and placing her canine ear against Saya’s belly. She giggles and says, “I hear her moving around. I mean, being up with the other orphans was nice, but having an actual sister…” She watches Saya’s middle and whispers, “Wow.”
“Exactly how I felt when your Grandmother was pregnant.” Saya says before sighing. “I remember being so happy when your aunts were just little babies myself. And now they’re all grown up, though they still live at home.”
“Oh yeah, I remember. They came the wedding. I liked Sylphie, she was fun and could do some cool magic tricks!”
“What about Sophie?” You ask, joining the conversation. “She was drawing all the looks from the single men there.”
“They’re twins, dear.” Saya says, rolling her eyes. “And Sophie just knows how to wear a dress is all. Sylphie could do it too if she didn’t like robes so much.”
“Well, I think they were both very pretty.” Akela says before getting quiet and looking up at the two of you. “Do you think Grandpa will be back soon?”
You and Saya get a little uncomfortable at the question, but you keep a reassuring look on your face as you say, “Yeah, of course he will. He wants to see you and your little sister as much as you want to see him.”
“I don’t think anyone wants to see him as badly as you do though.” Akela says, smile back on her face. Actually, it’s more of a shit-eating grin, and you frown deeply, casting a glare to Saya. She shares the same look and you throw your hands up into the air.
“BAH! WOMEN!” They laugh and you sigh out, joining them a moment later. When it dies down, you say to Akela, “Go upstairs and do your homework.”
“I already did my homework.” She says, smirking.
“Uhhh, then do your chores.”
She sighs and walks upstairs to do some good, quality character building. Saya snorts at this and says, “Honestly, I never would have pegged you for the fatherly type when we first met.”
“When we first met, you ran from me and I had to catch you while you wore the bones of a Catgirl hooker.”
“Point taken.” She nods to the letter. “Anyway, the letter?”
“Hmm? Oh, right.” You say, opening it up. Inside is a single piece of parchment, and you open it up, a small amount of sand falling out. Both you and Saya cock your heads to look at it before you read aloud.
“Tobias and Saya.
This is your father and mother. I’m sorry we couldn’t communicate in another fashion, but the circumstances demand otherwise. I know we’ve been quiet, though it hasn’t been by choice. We have crossed the border into Ectria, and there are no operational leylines where we are. I begin to think there are none in this blasted waste. I am only able to get this message out to you via a traveling merchant caravan who we have met on our journey.
I hope this message actually reaches you. I have sent a letter to Blake and the twins as well, for the time for secrecy is over. The Prophet of the Twins, a powerful Pharaoh of the Ectrian wastes who has been gathering influence has begun to make plays in response to the changes in the mana of the land. I noticed it months ago and thought I could get away with just monitoring it, but even with your mother present, we’ve been dealing with far too many nuisances here. It’s like before my quest out here, the Monsters not responding to anything but force. Piecing the story together has been a pain, but it’s becoming clear that something is causing her to mobilize. Something has changed drastically, and her rants about the balance shifting have caused her to being mobilizing her people. It’s a dangerous time to be a Deleorian here, and only the merchants are able to get in and out alive.
Our goal is to make it to Atlak and speak with her without any bloodshed, perhaps easier said than done, but nothing we can’t handle. Without having to skulk about, we should be home by the end of Winter though. You better not pop that baby of yours until we get back! And you’re having a proper wedding with us present, your mother demands it!
Please do not worry about us, because I’m sure you have been. Please make sure the letters arrived to Blake and the twins as well, I don’t want them worrying for no reason, and your mother wants me to tell you that she loves both of you and can’t wait to grill both of you mercilessly. She worries that the representatives she’s left in the Monster Embassy won’t be taking appropriate leadership, but no one leads quite like she does, do they?
Well, we’ve saved the world before, we’re off to do it again. Tobias, son, when we get back, I’ll sign that book of yours for real. Look forward to it.
-Mom and Dad”
You slowly drop the letter and it tumbles from your fingers to the ground. Both of you sit there, stunned to note the last part, a date left unspoken. The letter was written two months ago. Ectria is large, but not that large, especially not for Selene.
“Oh Gods, do you think something’s happened to them?” Saya asks, alarmed. “Oh Gods, we have to get out there and help them, what if this Prophet found a way to trap or even…even…”
“Hey, hey!’ You say, putting your hands on Saya’s shoulders. “Don’t you dare think that way. Your parents are the strongest people in the damn world! They’d never just roll over and get caught like that. Maybe they’re playing the long con or something or…or…”
You put a hand to your forehead and whisper, “Shit.”
“Tobias, we have to go. Come on, I bet everyone else would be willing to gather up and go to the wastes and-“
“Saya, we can’t.” You say, running your hands down your cheeks. “I want to, I really do, but we can’t.”
“Why not?!” She nearly shouts before grunting and putting a hand to her belly. She looks down at her pregnant state, as if seeing it for the first time before growing sullen. She whispers, “What do we do?”
“We’ll contact the Order, see if they’ll send anyone to help. I bet Blake will go himself if it means saving your Dad.”
“Yeah… yeah.” Saya says, taking a deep breath. “I feel so helpless though. Gods, what must Sophie and…” She trails off before her eyes grow wide. “Oh my Gods, Sophie and Sylphie. They got a letter too! What if they decide to go out there on their own?!”
“Come on, they have more sense than that, right?” You say, thoughts going back to your wedding. You remember clearly Sylphie performing a spell to light both your names in the sky that backfired horribly while Sophie spent the whole time flirting. They one thing they shared in common was a clear interest in your adventures, and you got the distinct impression that they both shared the same feeling.
Both of you share a knowing look before Saya runs her hands through her hair and groans.
“Uhh… well.” You say, gulping. “Maybe not.”