Chapter 40 – A Pleasant Bath with Friends
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After we are done cleaning the main hall, I move with Sirgia and the slimes to the workshop to pick up some tools that will help us in repairing the broken floor. The rest of the girls leave to tend to their own small chores or whatever they have been doing before this unexpected encounter.

I assure Cornelia that everything is now fine with my body. Having someone with real healing abilities is already starting to show its benefits. My Rejuvenate is great, but it’s not something that can save lives, so Elea's specialization is a truly valuable addition. All the other girls seem to have much more offensive-like Classes, with four of them using physical weapons and two with magical focuses. Elea counts into the latter.

We bring the stuff to the main hall and scrape all the shattered and broken parts of the solid floor. Sirgia works the fastest with her already great strength, additionally supplied with strengthening skills. I and the slimes take care of the most damaged areas and leave the less crushed parts to her. In around an hour we scoop everything clean and a shallow hole is all that’s left in the spot.

Next, we move back down, and to not leave everything to our only craftsman, we assist Sirgia in melting the broken pieces and then preparing a mixture of materials with a similar style and structure. Safi and Emi get completely absorbed in her craft, curiously following every small movement Sirgia makes during every single process of crushing, mixing, melting, planning, checking books, etc. It’s fun working together like that and seeing the girls being interested in each other’s areas of expertise.

Within another hour, Sirgia creates a mass of liquid stone and pours it into a container ending in a funnel. She tells me to ask Cornelia if she could help and I go get her while the girls walk to the main hall. She comes back with me, eager to give us a hand and curious what Sirgia needs her for.

When we gather together, our little dwarf pours the melted stone into the gap in the floor and smooths it out with a big spatula. Confirming that there are no uneven parts anywhere she turns to Cornelia and asks her to cast Chilling Breeze. While she does so, Sirgia attentively observes the material which is being cooled down and instructs Cornelia on increasing or reducing the intensity of her spell accordingly.

In a few minutes, the floor is fixed. You need to glance at the spot where it was broken from really up close to see the outline of the now non-existent hole. It was quite smart of her to utilize our ice magician's skillset to speed up the process. I give Sirgia a lot of pats for it. 

Noticing a slight pout on Cornelia's mature face before she leaves, I sneakily catch up to her in one of the corridors, embrace her from behind and surprise her with a kiss when she looks back at me over her shoulder. She elbows me into the stomach playfully and backs off, just to pull my face up for a kiss of her own. We both laugh and walk together while discussing some things linked to the brothel and the rules.

We all meet again during dinner. The dragonewt girl is naturally present too. She looks much better and cleaner now that Elea has taken care of her, also giving her some fresh clothes so she can cover herself. She keeps glancing at me for the whole duration of our little feast. Why feast? Because it looks like Roseni and Cinra were really happy with receiving the marks and prepared some nice dishes with Sirgia’s help.

Nevertheless, our new guest still has some doubts about me and I’m not that surprised. I’ll let the girls handle her for the rest of the day and speak with her tomorrow. She might get less suspicious of me if she spends a bit more time around us. I just mention to her that she can rest properly in one of the rooms and we will discuss her case later. She definitely didn’t have too many chances to relax recently. I ask Elea to keep her company for the night so that she won’t worry about me trying something underhanded while she sleeps, although, Elea being pretty much my servant, could always be doing things according to my wishes.

But, the girl somehow agrees so I guess we are fine. After dinner, I take care of some documents in my room, check my status a bit and decide to walk around to check on everyone. I find all the elves besides Elea in the underground arena, sparring with each other.

They wear short and tight tank tops and shorts. A lot of their belly area is exposed. Most of them train in doubles. Longbow using Filue is practising on some wooden targets placed near one of the far walls, accompanied by a catalyst user Neira who shoots bolts of lightning by her side. A shortsword wielding Roseni fares against double daggers of Cinra. Only Leyne is currently revising some of her spear techniques by herself.

I approach her and observe the clearly skilful thrusts and slashes. She continues her set of exercises for a few more minutes before finally taking a breather and turning to me. I pass her a towel and a waterskin from my ring so that she can wipe her face out of the sweat. She really must have been pushing herself hard even though it wasn’t obvious from just looking to be covered in it so much.

“I’m sorry for showing myself in such an unsightly state, Master.” She hastily tries to wipe her whole body with the small towel and steals some glances at me.

“It just shows that you are serious about training. And, it doesn’t impoverish your beauty in any way, I’d rather say that it accentuates your amazing body.” I shake my head at her.

She smiles and her ears twitch a little. “Thank you. Ekhm. How can I help you then, Master?”

“I was wondering if I could perhaps join you to receive some pointers. You girls seem to know how to handle yourselves pretty well.”

Leyne makes a slight bow. “I’ll gladly be of use to you, Master. It would be an honour to spar with you.”

I wave my hand. “Haha, stop that, I’m much worse than any of you when it comes to combat. Even my Class is pretty much useless, besides a few decent tricks.”

“Please, don’t say that! We all have seen your fight with the Berserker, Master! Considering the fact that your Class isn’t mainly an offensive one, you showed some amazing battle prowess and judgement.”

“Well, if you say so then I won’t argue anymore. Anyway, I would be happy to learn from you. Shall we start?”

Leyne agrees and asks Neira to cover the blade of her spear with a coating of mana to turn it into a blunt weapon. First, I use the shortsword form of my artifact, and fortunately, I have enough control over the mist to materialize it with a blunt edge too. We begin our sparring.

As expected, her movements are completely out of my league and I barely react in time to block or parry her thrusts. She commends me for being able to keep up with her and soon we switch to a more equal bout where Leyne instructs me on what to focus on while facing a spear user. She shares with me much more techniques and how to counter them than my old instructor from the castle.

In thirty minutes, all other girls stop their activities and come closer to observe how I try my best to get through Leyne’s guard, according to her guidance on the spear’s weak spots. I can visibly discern my slow progress since I don’t think she would intentionally start acting like my slashes throw her weapon around much more than before. That would be pointless in a training bout.

Next, I switch to my new weapon, which is the sword whip mode, and we change roles. Leyne starts trying to get me while I do my best to defend and possibly counter. Still not being that proficient with it, I naturally let myself get hit a few times, but not without giving her some troubles. The always writhing, sharp line threatens to cut her from multiple angles, slowing her advances considerably.

I somehow manage to sneakily position part of it on the floor while creating a loop and then luring her to step into it, which of course results in Leyne falling down after I pull the whip back and me closing the distance to pin her down before she gets up. The girls start clapping at my little victory. I step off Leyne and help her up, receiving congratulations from her too.

The next two hours are spent with me exchanging pointers with everyone while I work on my proficiency with all the Formless Blade shapes. I spend most of the time with Roseni since she uses a shortsword as her main weapon and it’s just the most beneficial for me to learn more about when I also partially use that weapon type. She is goddamn fierce though. I have thought that my movements are getting quite good, but when I begin exchanging pointers with her, she utterly wipes the floor with me. 

We finish with a little challenge where they all attack me at once, of course without going all out or I would get shredded in a blink, while I try everything to repel their assault. If not for the Filue's longbow and magic using Neira, I could actually have a chance to compete, as utilizing all my blade forms and abilities I somehow survive 3v1, but when these two joins, it’s just too much to keep track of.

I end up completely exhausted and bruised all over. That said, before falling on my back, they all surround me and I get a lap pillow from Leyne while panting heavily. No, rather than a lap pillow, I’d say it’s a body bed since pretty much every limb of mine is lying either on someone’s chest, belly or thighs. Looking up, I’m met with five alluring smiles of dark-skinned girls in tight clothes, almost akin to sportswear, completely drenched in sweat and breathing a bit less rough than me.

This naturally evokes a proper reaction in my body and they obviously don’t miss that not-so-little detail, giggling to each other while I can’t do literally anything to hide it with how I’m positioned. Well, whatever, not like they mind at least. Rather it seems to amuse them.

I suggest that we go take a bath after this extensive training and they all agree. While I plan on going to the men’s section, they literally drag me with them into the mixed one by surrounding me from all sides and not letting me split up from them in the intersection, saying that there’s no need to heat up two parts and Dark Elves are used to coed facilities.

In the changing room, they quite literally don’t care that I’m there and strip naked while chatting with each other about random things. I try my best not to leer over their seductive bodies but that’s insanely hard with five dark-skinned world-class beauties acting all gingerly in front of you.

Not wanting to look like some shy boy, I follow suit. The moment I completely take my top off, some whistling takes place. I glance over my shoulder since I have been showing my back to them to hide my boner, and see two of the girls showing thumbs up. I smile and shake my head before getting naked too.

I have been expecting them to jump at me the moment we enter the bath, fighting over the right to wash my body, but somehow after Neira asks if they could do it and I say that it’s not necessary, they move to take care of each other without pressuring me. Perhaps I was slightly mistaken about their goals. 

Without much fuss, they happily wash each other’s back and hair. I get the feeling that they did it quite often in the past. Most likely all of the Princess’s servants were close with each other and her too and took many baths together. Trying to ignore a group of enticing girls to my side, I focus on myself. Fortunately, they get done pretty quickly and move into the main pool to relax a bit.

But, while I’m taking care of my hair, I hear steps behind me which soon stop and a gentle palm grazes my back from the top to bottom. I begin turning around.

“I thought we’ve already agreed on not—”

I stop mid-sentence as two voluptuous peaks enter my sight, hanging down pretty much in front of my face. I stare absentmindedly at the breathtaking sight of the round, chocolate delicacies with lighter but also dark toppings until a chuckle arrives from above. It turns out that those belong to Elea, who seems to have joined us on our bath time and is currently leaning forward behind me sitting on a stone stool in the side area of the chamber.

“Are they that pleasant to look at, Master?” she asks, still chuckling.

I sigh and smile. “How could they not be, hmm? You can’t convince me that you are not aware of how powerful your womanly charms are. And this is coming from someone who has a quite high Charm Resistance.”

She laughs at my little joke. “Thank you for the compliment and I guess you are right. Would you mind if I assisted you, Master?”

“Wouldn’t it be a little too indecent for a Priestess to wash some man’s body, hm?” I ask teasingly.

She straightens up and puffs her chest out. “Former Priestess. I’m now Master’s personal maid. And there’s nothing indecent in taking care of someone’s wellbeing.”

I chuckle and spread my arms in a ‘do as you wish’ way. I have a feeling that it would be a little bit harder to argue with her than how it went with the other girls. Elea, content with my response, sits behind me and takes over the duty of washing my hair.

“So, how is the new girl?” I strike up a conversation.

“I did my best to explain to her that Master is not a bad person and that she could leave whenever she wants after consulting it with you. I think she is still a little wary of Master, but that won’t stay for long, I promise.”

“Just how much did you tell her?”

“Everything.”

“Ha?” I furrow my brows and glance back at her again just to see a proud smile and a little bit of her jiggling breasts. “What do you mean by everything?”

“Of course, I didn’t disclose Master’s real identity. I won’t do that without your permission. I just spoke how you saved us and took us in, I told her some things I learned about Master from the other girls and whatever I felt like could ease her worries. She finally calmed down a little after I mentioned how Master welcomed Safi, Emi and Sirgia into his embrace even though they are not Humans.” 

I sigh again. “So that’s why she was eyeing me like that during dinner. I bet she now sees me as some weirdo who has a thing for demi-humans and she is the next target on my list.”

“If that’s true, then I will have to correct that misconception since that’s unacceptable.”

“Just don’t be too hard on her. Don’t force her to change her beliefs in a day. Remember, we are not trying to lure her in so that she stays here. She is free to leave. If she was captured then she may have relatives she wants to get back to.”

“It would be rude of me to speak about someone else's situation without their permission so unless Master order’s me, I’ll just leave it to her.”

I chuckle. “It would be rude, yet you are willing to do it if I ask?”

“Of course, I’m your servant so I’m obliged to follow my Master’s orders.”

“You are taking your maid role too seriously, Elea.” I raise my voice a bit more so that all the girls hear me. “Never forget that you are a free person even though you all have my mark. You are a friend. All of you are. I don’t mind having you as maids and acting as servants, but you will always be FRIENDS to me first and foremost. And friends aren’t obliged to follow orders. They accept or deny requests.”

Considering the silence from the other side of the chamber, I assume that they heard me properly. Elea definitely did as two, soft objects press onto my back and her hands appear on my chest. There’s nothing lewd in her action. Despite our naked bodies and me experiencing quite a nice sensation on my skin, I can feel the kindness and sincerity of this hug.

“I thank you again on behalf of all of us,” she calmly conveys her gratitude.

“You are welcome.”

A bit later, we share a pleasant time all together in the pool. It actually feels nice to spend time without having to worry what the girls would think about me or with them getting all shy, embarrassed or just not being able to relax with that being openly visible. 

The elves keep up a nice, chatty atmosphere which really feels like we are kind of a family, or as I presented it, friends. I do catch them stealing a glance now and then at down there, but it’s not like I am not doing the same. It’s just impossible for eyes to not wander into some places when talking to each other and it seems as true for them as it is for me.

After the bath, we all go our ways. Before I head to bed for the day, I have one more thing to take care of. I come to my room, which is already occupied by the colourful duo as Sirgia informed me previously, and ask them to wait for a moment while I write a short letter to Ross, explaining the situation on the square and sharing some of my suspicions.

I exit the mansion and enter one of the nearby shops, a cafe. Just like usual, a man I recognize from seeing pretty much every day around it is sitting by one of the tables and reading something. I inconspicuously slip him the letter while passing by to the counter and ordering two pieces of a chocolate pie. He signals to me on my way back, confirming receipt of it.

Arriving back in my room, I quickly pass through the door to Cornelia’s room and give her one of the pieces. She always loved the chocolate ones. She accepts it with a smile, slightly blushing since she already got into her negligee and I guess this particular one brings forth some nice memories. 

Discerning a bit of hesitation in her mind through our link, I act as if I’m just leaving without a word after presenting her with the gift. A tinge of disappointment surfaces there and I think she even takes a step to stop me but doesn’t manage to do so. I fake closing the door behind me and focus my senses, waiting for Cornelia to drop her guard.

She falls onto her bed face first, most likely cursing her tsun behaviour. I don’t waste this precious chance and very carefully pull the door open again and move on my tiptoes to her location, crouching so that my face is on the level of her head. I can hear her mumbling something into the pillow.

I gently blow some air into her ear and she turns her head towards me, revealing those delicate lips which I instantly steal with a quick and soft peck, backing away right after. She freezes and her eyes widen in surprise while I just stare at her with a mischievous smile.

“Damned rogue… you knew...” she quietly says and more crimson paints her cheeks.

“Who is not being honest with herself again, hmm?” I raise one of my eyebrows.

She looks away. “One more… as an apology.”

I gladly fulfil that request and we share a slightly more intense dance of tongues. Saying our goodnights, I get back to the patiently waiting slimes and we consume the other piece while cuddling lots and lots. 

The next day after breakfast, I ask Neira to accompany me to the underground. She must have been thinking that I want to practice more, but I can sense her confusion and curiosity when we enter a different corridor and arrive in front of a door to a chamber she hasn’t yet been into.

I open it and invite her inside. A small but quite packed with tables, desks, painting frames, shelves full of various utensils and cabinets of materials room can be found inside. She glances all around wide-eyed from amazement.

“How do you like your new studio?” I say with a smile.

This was done by chance when the crafters had some spare time and I waited a bit to show it to her. She spins around and jumps at me for a hug.

“It’s more than I could ever wish for! Thank you so much!” She enthusiastically spins both of us.

“Hahaha, no need to thank me, it wasn’t completely selfless. I would like to ask you to draw a few things for me in your spare time.”

She stops the movements and starts nodding fervently. “Absolutely! Whatever you need!”

After one more hug, Neira jumps back and begins examining all the stuff in here. I leave her alone so that she can explore her new cave uninterrupted. I will give her details on my little projects a bit later. Hopefully, we’ll get done with that for the opening.

While I’m walking through the corridors already on the surface, Cornelia approaches me, holding some piece of paper. She hands me a letter.

“You got a message. You can guess the sender.” She smiles.

“That was fast. Did you check it?”

She shakes her head. “No, it’s yours, not mine.”

I pull her close and our faces almost touch each other. “Whatever is mine, is also yours.”

Cornelia smirks and her hand wanders over my chest, slowly reaching the lower regions of my body. “Is this also mine?”

“Only if you are brave enough to take it.” 

I go for a quick peck on her lips, making her laugh a little. Then, we separate and open the letter to read it together. It naturally came from the King.

{Damn. Thanks for letting me know. To think that something like that took place in the middle of the street in broad daylight. I’m going to investigate this. How could you allow such a thing? There definitely were plenty of children running around. I’ll also check that guy. Thank you for stopping them, even if a little late. Next time if you see something unsightly happening, just show the sigil I’ve given you and threaten the idiots with beheading! 

Also... Al... what the hell have you done to mother?! Did you develop some insane stealth or teleport skills and sneak into her chamber each night?! I had to literally change my usual sleeping room with how loud she screams EVERY BLOODY NIGHT! It’s even worse than when father was around in the past! But well, whatever you are doing, she at least looks much livelier and brightened in the mornings. I really missed seeing her beautiful, genuine smile. Thank you. Just… maybe try to tone it down a little… Now, I am the one starting to get awkward around her…

I hope you are doing good. Let me know when you are ready to open, I’ve prepared some channels to push the information out.}

Cornelia laughs after we finish and hits my shoulder with her fist. “Are you hiding something from me, mister I’m-not-trying-to-seduce-the-Queen?”

“Ow! Of course not, hahaha. How could I sneak out during nights when my real queen is just by my side?”

She pulls me into a kiss, pushes me back and begins walking away. “You better start preparing yourself to take responsibility.”

“What? It’s just a toy. What’s the connection there?”

She chuckles as she disappears around the corner. “You will see in time.”

I stand there confused while scratching my head. There definitely is something she is not telling me and she is having a lot of fun with it. Well, it’s not like I will be abducted one night and wake up with the Queen on top of me… Right?

While visiting my room to check some of my to-do lists and reminders, I gaze through the window and notice the dragonewt girl slowly wandering around the garden. She sits down in one of the bowers and sighs heavily. Deciding that this should be a good time to have a talk with her, I head down to join her.

She naturally notices my approach and I sit on the opposite side of the round alcove with a hanging table in the middle. I try not to stare too much at her, but you can’t really expect me not to be curious when seeing a real Dragonewt for the first, maybe second now, time. The shimmering, crimson scales perfectly accentuate and suit her fierce-looking face. She looks feminine and badass at the same time. And her vertical pupils can send shivers down your spine when you make eye contact. I really wonder how her slightly scaly on the edges and their backs, pointy ears feel in touch.

I’m not really sure how to strike up a conversation, but fortunately, she speaks up first.

“Your elf maid has already told me a lot about you and this place so there’s no need to repeat all that. I’m… sorry for attacking you.”

I wave my hand and smile. “It’s okay. You only wanted to protect yourself. And I’m fine already.”

“Mhm. Thank you for saving me. I was a bit confused by your words back there, but the fact that I’m alive thanks to you persists. You are quite a good talker…” She looks at me, visibly considering how to address me.

“Alastair or Al is fine. Don’t worry yourself over such details. If you don’t mind, I’d like to know your name too.”

“Teffith. Thank you again… Alastair.”

I sigh. “And I’m sorry I didn’t step in much earlier. I could have stopped them before your… comrades? Were slaughtered.”

A slight grimace appears on her face and she looks to the side. “I’m not going to blame you for their deaths. I understand that you seem to think differently from most of the Humans. Nothing that I or you say will bring them back so there is no need to talk about it. I only wished they could have died fighting instead of in that… shameless display!”

She slams her fist on the hanging table while gritting her teeth. I give her a moment to calm herself down. After she sits back limply and drops her gaze, I continue.

“I will understand if you don’t want to speak about it, but were you all abducted by them from somewhere? I told you that I can help you leave the city. I will not hold you back from returning home… and perhaps informing your families about the deaths of your people.”

She exhales heavily and rubs her temples. “I… I don’t think there’s a home I can get back to. These other Dragonewts you’ve seen back there were my only friends, or rather family. Umm… most of our kind follow a nomadic lifestyle and travels in small groups, gathering together from time to time around well-known hubs to us. There are some villages here and there, but most of those who wish to settle down, usually do it in other races’ cities.” She slowly shares some details with me.

“Anyway, one evening these Humans stumbled on our camp. We were suspicious of them the whole time, but they acted like they didn't care who we were and set their own just by ours. In the morning, we all woke up feeling sluggish, most likely drugged by them somehow and with all our valuables stolen. One of us was a Charlatan so we quickly recovered and pursued them. Unfortunately, they only laughed at us and after we fought, they came out victorious and captured us. The man conducting our execution whipped and hit us for the whole way here, clearly enjoying the time he spent on beating up monsters as he called us. And then we jump to yesterday, with some minor details omitted.”

She clicks her tongue and looks away again. I can feel the anger emanating from her tensed posture. I swear that I have seen the visible part of her scales do something like a very faint wave from up to down.

“Do you seek revenge?” I put both my hands under my chin and stare at her.

Teffith looks straight at me and furrows her brows. “It’s not like I can get that bastard in the middle of the Human kingdom capital.”

“And if I told you that I can make it happen?”

Her eyes widen in surprise and she averts her gaze, definitely thinking about her answer. I stand up and begin walking away, stopping by her side and placing my hand on her shoulder. She looks up at me.

“Think about what you want to do now. What is your goal? What are your options? And take your time. You can stay here as long as you want. If you find yourself lost within indecisiveness, come to me. I might have a proposition for you. But don’t worry, I will not force you into anything against your will, especially not into sexual stuff.” I give her a few reassuring pats on the shoulder and leave with a kind smile.

I should give her some time to work through the chaos that may be taking place in her head right now. A lot has happened and she lost people she found close. 

After getting something to drink from the kitchen, I move down to the underground again, this time entering my hard-working dwarf’s den. She’s tirelessly carving something out in a blank slate. I lean over one of the walls and observe. Sirgia definitely notices my presence as her ears twitch a little while she tries not to lose focus. I think she already understands why I’m here. Let’s see if she will take the first step.

 

I sense a very fiery forging session in that little workshop ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) 

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Enormous gratitude towards our S-rank Guild Member - Magiwarrior and Rury! We couldn't have such epic adventures without your support! This Guild Master is greatly honoured by your presence!

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