It was just after dark when they had finished dinner, but even without any time or clock to refer to, he would say it was around eight, maybe. Who even knew how many hours to make it a full day in this world? It was one of the excuses he used to ensure himself that he needed to go to the so-called ‘academy’.
The night street was not that busy compared to the day time. All he could see were adventurers, or what they called ‘Divers’ walking around. There were a few stands of street food along the road but he was already full. Light stone street lights lit the wet-looking pebble-packed street while the back alleys remained dark.
He continued walking without much thought, and before he knew it, he had arrived at his destination. A warm looking place where he had sent a warm looking girl home. The outside might have looked plain, but it was the inside what mattered to him. Just like people.
The door swung open before the girl in her nightdress rushed out. She hesitated for a moment as she arrived right before she jumped into his arms. Of course, he welcomed her excitement with both hands on her large soft butts. They both knew that there was no love involved in this second meeting. They were only using each other and they both were happy about it. The Spirit in him found it strange, perhaps even alien, but for some reason, he didn’t mind it at all.
This was what the people called partners in this world or future partner in her case.
“Thank you for remembering me,” she said with a little teary-eyed.
“I’m a bit hurt when you hesitated,” he replied like a snobbish nobleman. It was all an act, of course. No one needed to tell them that.
“I’ve waited a lot longer than you have,” she countered with a huff. “Let’s go inside, or shall we rent a room for the night?”
“Anywhere is fine, but I thought you would never ask,” he said while the girl dragged him by the arm. It felt very nice to be wanted.
His gropes had become a sign of acceptance rather than being called a pervert. He got a kiss on the cheek for giving false hope, and the other two girls had even followed him to Paige’s house. Renting a room might cause him to be ambushed if he didn’t know any better.
But he had to admit, it could not become any crazier. Well, he was wrong.
Artus was welcomed by Paige’s mother when he got into the house while her younger siblings were staring at him with goggled eyes. He ruffled the hair of the little boy and little girl. There was no surprise if everyone already learned everything she knew about him.
Their older sister chased them away before a slightly older man nodded to him before he excused himself for the night. He learned that the man was her older brother and that their fathers had left the family for an adventure in other places.
Artus didn’t know if that was completely normal as there was no bad vibe when the story came out of the mother’s mouth. He only learned the odd truth when Paige went away and he had a little talk with the older lady. She had said the usual thing a mother would say, asking him to take care of her daughter, but what she said next was nothing but the usual. Well, at least to him.
“You see, I worked as a maid in a household, and two of my children are the household master’s,” the mother said. “Paige is one of them but she has never complained. She is a very good daughter.”
Artus was taken aback by the statement and the mother noticed.
The older woman slapped his shoulder, “don’t worry, their fathers still honored the tradition and send money every month. That’s how I could keep feeding their large stomachs,” she giggled.
He couldn’t say anything but okay. Artus wondered if she let herself pregnant with different men just to keep her family well-fed. It was possible but it sounded uncomfortably close to the situation in the world his Spirit came from.
Then again, he didn’t think the women had access to online dating and free to choose who she wanted to bed. Those men who might have approached the older lady over the years because, well, she was pretty. The story also made him wonder if the three farm girls would end up in a similar fashion.
At least he knew that those girls had some pride, as they wouldn’t just throw themselves to anyone who came asking. They would have had an easier life before they met him even if it was just temporary.
“My room is the first down the hallway, well, if you don’t have enough,” the mother added with a whisper and a wink.
In an instant, the situation just got even crazier.
He couldn’t even react to that, and he almost jumped when Paige’s voice came from their backs. Honestly, he didn’t know why he had reacted in such a way and the mother wasn’t that bad for a woman of her age.
Artus hit himself inside his head for thinking like that. He was not here for sex.
‘God-damned testosterones,’ he blamed inside his head.
“Mama, why are you whispering to him?” Paige said accusingly. “Don’t scare him away, please.”
The mother chuckled. The mother was testing him, of-the damn-course.
“Go and rest in her room while I prepare supper,” the older woman said while she pushed his surprised back. Paige grabbed his hand when she reached him and pulled him away, and he imagined, towards her room.
He entered the room on the second floor after her and she locked the door as soon as they were both inside. The room was smaller than he imagined which could only fit one single bed and a small table at the corner but it was big enough to not feel cramped. He could see the hastily made bed and random things tucked under them.
Artus was about to check the window when her hands wrapped around him from the back. Her body and hands shook as they tightened up around him. Artus sighed inside and placed his hand on hers.
He was reminded that normal people's lives were not the hero’s or heroine's journey. No one would shower a commoner like her with help and support just because she was prettier than the average. No young chivalrous men would be so kind and brave enough to fight against the system just for her. If it did happen, it would be a rare sight and usually, it had an ugly ending.
The lust for power and greed would make sure of it.
He won’t deny that there could be kind people in the upper class, but those who weren’t tempted by power and money were very little in number. Artus was sure that they would try to do some good but their resources and influence also had its limit. They could never reach everyone even if they had wanted to.
Random girls like her could only hope for a miracle. Love was a luxury which they couldn’t afford. They would grab on to anyone who came with a good enough offer.
“I’m sorry that I made you wait, but I’m just looking for someone who has the right mindset to be called friends. It is just that my [Awakened] spirit had a bad history with people, and in the matter of fact, you don’t have to do anything more than this.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you have someone that you like but couldn’t afford to love?”
“Why do you ask that!?” her voice changed as she began to worry.
“I’ll be honest, Paige. I want we to be partners but I don’t want anything to bite me in the back, and another man with an unacquainted love will bite me back.”
He would avoid any flags as long as he could.
“I-I had, once, but... But I don’t know where he is, and even if he is still alive. He gave himself up in order to let me escape.”
“That’s worrying some,” he said before turning to look outside the window and sighed.
“We will find this man, and he could also earn my support together with you if he wanted to. We all could be friends,” Artus let out a dry chuckle at the end.
Paige was silent when she heard this. She also had a lot of thinking to do, life-affecting decisions needed to be made.
And to be honest, he was a bit disappointed to hear that she had someone she liked. He was just being unreasonably greedy. Artus also wondered if he had friend-zoned himself.
That would’ve been weird.
“I’m sorry,” she said. “I’m sorry for whatever those people had done to you.” The girl hugged him from the back, comfortably, this time around. “It must be really hard on you.”
Artus didn’t expect to hear that from her. He didn’t know what to say.
Paige wanted to comfort the battered heart of the young man. She would have never even imagined that he had such trouble if they didn’t have this talk. No one she knew could have carried such burden and still smile.
Behind those smiles and smarts was such a sad soul, no doubt haunted by the Spirit he had inherited from his awakening. It was common among the awakened to be burdened by the memory that came with its gifts.
The Awakening could also be a curse. She was lucky that hers didn’t have such a burden but she could understand his struggles. She dragged the man to her bed before she sat him down and pushed him onto his back.
“Paige, you don’t have-”
“Don’t misunderstand,” she said as naturally as possible while she moved her leg over him.
“I’m just teaching you how to make a proper Oath, nothing personal,” she said as she settled on him. “It’s a crucial tool for someone who has awakened with a troubled spirit like you. You also don’t want to make a mistake pushing your mana into others and cripple your other future partner, right?”
Reiterating from a book she had read made the words flow out of her mouth much smoother, and it helped that she had practiced it. Regardless, she still didn’t have the courage to look into his eyes and distracted him by unbuttoning her clothes.
A nudge came from below and she almost let out a gasp. Well, at least she was able to get him hard. It would be really bad otherwise.
She had men inside her before but she rather not remember the incident. Paige had never felt any lower about herself as she began to feel good when such an awful thing that they had forced her to experience.
She had been lucky when she knew how to react. Her stone-cold act had worked and the men lost interest almost immediately.
But she honestly thought she had gotten over the decade long history. She clearly had not when her body shook as she froze in fear while right on top of him.