Chapter 46 – A Fragrant Pursuit
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We all work together to clean the place up after our opening night. I wouldn’t call it a successful one, but at the same time, it definitely wasn’t a failure… I think. Yeah, the only guest being Barren shouldn’t be considered a win, but there were a few other people lingering around the gate, so the interest is definitely there. And it was great for the girls to practice on someone who isn’t a complete jerk or buffoon. 

Everything gets swept up from the tables in the main hall and moved to the kitchen where most of the girls are dealing with the plates and cutlery. Anything that can be preserved for longer than just this day is being stored in our giant fridge and freezer. We certainly feasted tonight. I can tell by their expressions how happy everyone is. Seeing them work together like this also brings a smile to my face. They really get along great.

After we are done, each of us heads to our respective rooms for a well-deserved rest. My sweet slime girls accompany me to the bed. I get Safi to share some more details about her first job with me now that we are alone and, oh boy, no wonder she said that he almost fainted at a certain point. 

It looks like Barren was quite confident in his stamina. I mean, judging by his muscular body, I’d say it wasn’t baseless, but… yeah. He asked Safi for a little bit more than he could handle. Hell, from her description, I am starting to have doubts for how long I would last with how fierce she got, even with my Title’s ability.

Surrounded by the lovely and squishy gel from both sides, I have a pleasant and relaxing night. In the morning, I thank them both for their care with deep, mana-imbued kisses and we move to the dining room after dressing each other up. 

They are starting to take the maid responsibilities quite seriously recently. I can’t even put my clothes on by myself if they are present. Well, I have nothing to complain about. Okay, maybe the accidental, chilly brushes over some specific areas while they carry out the task. 

Seriously, looks like I’ve corrupted those pure and innocent beings way too much with my lessons. I send a few waves of mana straight at their cores through their soft bellies to show my thanks again, which naturally ends in both of them shivering and wobbling from the pleasure while they try their best to hold onto me with ecstatic expressions. 

The breakfast is already prepared. I have no idea how early I would have to wake up to not be greeted by the sight of Roseni and Cinra in the kitchen, sometimes alongside Sirgia, but they are good enough to work on the food alone, letting our main chef get the necessary sleep after she always overworks herself in the workshop.

I and the slimes help them a bit until everyone comes down to the dining hall and we partake in our usual morning meal together. Some casual chatting amongst the girls accompanies it. Another great proof of their improving relationships. Even Teffith is way less tense now after she officially joined as our bouncer and guardian. 

Since Leyne sits relatively close to me, I take this chance to strike up a conversation with her. Of course, my closest sides are completely occupied by Cornelia and the slimes. Sirgia, even though still very shy around others, sits happily on my lap, feeding me a bite from time to time. How could I have rejected such a request from her with how giddy her usual, almost barren of expressions face gets from this joy of serving me food.

“So, Leyne, how was the bath yesterday?” I start, opening my mouth wide for the cute dwarf to drop a tiny tomato there with her slender fingers.

The elf turns to me with a wide smile and nods her head. “There’s nothing you have to worry about, Master. Everything went perfectly well. The bathing uniforms are really comfortable, much better than your usual clothes that would inconvenience the washing after getting completely drenched.”

I nod too. “Thanks for the info, but that’s not exactly what I’m asking about.”

She takes a sip of her orange juice before continuing. “There were no issues with the service, Master. Your friend didn’t create any trouble. He wholeheartedly enjoyed my company. And I’ve made sure that he could do so to the best of my abilities. Judging by the state of the towel over his waist, I can proudly say that it was quite effective, fufufu~.”

Hearing her giggle, I chuckle myself and shake my head. Who wouldn’t get hard over a beautiful Dark Elf in a skimpy bathing suit washing them all over while definitely making some quite alluring poses?

“Unfortunately, I’m not yet proficient enough in Common to hold a proper conversation, so I barely responded to his banter. I will keep working on it in my free time so that I can do even better, Master.” A glint of determination can be spotted in her eyes.

“As long as you are fine with it, that will definitely be helpful in the future. Thank you for taking this initiative. Anyway, back to the main topic, I’m glad that it went well, but we shouldn’t let this cloud our judgement. People like him aren’t exactly common. Don’t forget that.”

She looks around at the other elf girls and then they all turn to stare at me with smiling faces. “Master. We aren’t some weak maidens easy to abuse. Especially now, after you removed our restraints. That’s why don’t worry. We appreciate the right to protect ourselves you have given to us and we promise that we won’t hold back from using it. We definitely don’t want to make Master sad about something happening to us.”

I glance over all of them and can clearly sense both appreciation and confidence from them. “Right. You girls roughed me up pretty hard the last time we sparred.”

Most of them giggle. “We only want for Master to grow stronger and there’s no better way to help than letting Master experience what we know on Master’s own body,” Elea adds.

“And I’m thankful for that.”

We finish breakfast and everyone leaves to do their thing. Sirgia returns to her workshop. She is currently working on the Spatial Enchantments for the crystal hearts from the collars. Elea and Cornelia do their best to help as they are the most well-versed magic users here and the latter has access to some decent information too.

Neira most likely will be having fun in her studio. She told me that she is working on a great piece of art to return the favour. I told her that it’s not necessary, but wasn’t able to change her mind. I am looking forward to it a bit. She hypes it up a lot, even requiring help from all the other elves at times. I wonder what it will be.

As for me, I decide to head out to town and pay a visit to a certain business I haven’t been at in a while. Madam Selina was quite fond of me the last time, but I didn’t buy even a single slave after that day. Hopefully, I won’t get my card revoked or worse. 

Well, no point in thinking about all that when I will see for myself shortly. It would be great to find someone willing to work among the slaves there, but I’m afraid it will be difficult. Most of them dream about getting free, not ending up as a sex slave in a brothel. I don’t think I will be able to explain things properly and convince them of my good intentions right on the spot. Perhaps I should have taken one of the girls with me.

I arrive in front of the peculiar, reddish building and stop to fix my suit and bowtie. Last time I came here in my adventuring gear. Ah, memories. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Well, it wasn’t that long ago. But still, I would have never imagined that my search for a chef would end up like this. With an adorable and loving Dwarf by my side. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened if I didn’t pass near her on that day.

Shaking my head to drive away all negative thoughts, I make my way through the entrance. Nothing changed since the last time. The same two counters with employees behind them. 

Oh, if I’m not mistaken, one of them seems to be Lucas. It must be his shift to work at the reception today. I’m curious if he still remembers me.

That question gets answered instantly. The man notices me coming closer and looking at both of the queues. To my surprise, he stands up, quickly bows to his current customer and hastily walks away through one of the doors, to everyone’s confusion. The woman at the other counter apologizes and explains that it’s a sudden, urgent matter and that he will soon be replaced. I have a weird feeling that I might have been the reason behind his escape.

Just a moment later, the door to my right opens halfway and Lucas is signalling to me to come. I raise one of my eyebrows and look around. Quite sneaky. Using a door that’s behind all the other people so that they don’t spot him. I comply with the request and pass through the entrance to the corridor.

“Welcome back, Sir Carter.” He bows courteously right after closing the door.

I nod at him. “Hello. Should you really leave the customers hanging like that?” I ask while pointing with my thumb behind me.

“I’m your personal advisor, Sir Carter. Tending to the wishes of someone of your status is my highest priority.”

Looks like I’m still a VIP.

“I see. Thank you.” I nod my head again.

“Also, I’ve been instructed by Madam Selina to bring you to her private office right after you visit us again.”

Uh oh. I might have just jinxed it. Shit.

“Well then, lead the way. We shouldn’t make the lady wait too long.”

He guides me through the familiar passages until we reach the floor where Selina’s chamber is located. Lucas then knocks on the door and announces my entrance while holding it open for me to walk inside. He bows again and quickly closes the door, leaving me alone in the magnificent room.

Madam Selina stands on the other end of the chamber while looking through the huge window and smoking a cigarette on one of those fancy pipes or poles I sometimes saw rich ladies use in movies. It was always more funny than dignified to me.

She turns around with one hand on her hip. She wears the same dress I’ve seen her in during the last time. Her love for all that’s crimson didn’t change even a little bit.

“Long time no see, Sir Carter,” she says in an elegant yet playful tone.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you again, Madam Noint,” I answer with a bow with a hand over my heart.

She chuckles lightly. “Oh please, there’s no need to be this official. It’s Selina’s Splendid Servants, not Noint’s.” 

She walks closer from the window and sits in her fancy chair, gesturing at me to do the same on the opposite side of her desk. Naturally, I comply. It’s nice and comfy.

“I’ve heard from Lucas that you wished to see me. Is there perhaps something important for us to discuss?” I begin.

“It’s not that crucial, although… I’ve heard some interesting rumours about you and your newly opened business recently. Ones that include a lot of other races…” she says while taking the golden pipe into her hands by both ends and glancing all over it in front of her face.

“I see. That was unavoidable. I can imagine how having someone like me on your VIP list could be troublesome for a person of such status and publicity. I have the card with me so I can return it to you right away.” I begin reaching into my inner pocket to summon the slate from my ring.

Selina starts waving her hands at me. “Oh, no, no, no. You got it all wrong, Sir Carter. I didn’t summon you here to revoke your VIP privileges.”

I stop. “Then?”

She places her pipette down and joins her hands together with an impish smile. “To verify those rumours of course! I told you that I have a good nose for great people and you again proved it to be working splendidly. I’m itching from my curiosity to know how much truth is hidden in the commonfolk’s words. By all means, I have nothing against your chosen use of demi-humans if that part is indeed true. It’s really… what was the word… eccentric, yes! I knew during our first meeting that you were meant for something extraordinary and that hasn’t changed in the slightest.”

A wry smile makes its way onto my lips. Rather than getting kicked out, it seems like I scored additional points in her eyes. Well, she definitely is special and she did tell me that she has a great intuition for people worthy of doing business with. Good. Let’s not waste this opportunity. I should try to forge the best possible relationship between us. Having the support of the biggest and most respected slavery company would definitely be a huge image boost for my brothel.

“I apologize for my rude assumptions then, Madam Selina.” I lower my head a bit. “Now that I think about it, it was foolish of me to label such an individual dealing with a prospecting business with the best quality merchandise similarly to other people I met. I already knew that you are able to see past those limiting common beliefs or you wouldn’t be able to build such an empire. Wasting potential business opportunities is not your style.”

A wide smile starts growing on Selina’s face. “Ohohoho~. You are quite good with your tongue, Sir Carter.” She explodes into a small fit of lady-like laughter.

“I hear that a lot.” I give her a very cheeky smile.

It looks like Madam Selina gets what I mean as she covers her mouth with one hand and chuckles naughtily. It feels a bit strange flirting with a woman like twenty years older than me.

“Well then, what kind of rumours did you encounter, Madam?”

She proceeds to list what she heard on the streets. As expected, it’s about the opening, my slimes, some rules and regulations that were spread through them and also again about that group of wandering reviewers. I can’t help but chuckle and shake my head whenever I hear about that.

Since I have decided to develop this partnership, I confirm what I can and also support all that information with more details about my business and my stance on the whole idea, omitting the part about the shelter goal, breaking the seals, my relationship with some residents and other crucial key elements, but making sure that she understands that I’m quite kind to my employees. She looks fascinated the whole time.

“That’s such an amazing idea. You are assuring the highest quality of your services by scrupulously tending to the mental health of your merchandise. You don’t force the girls to prostitute themselves against their will but take time to slowly change their minds. Everyone dealing in human resources knows that efficiency is much higher when the employee does their job happily rather than out of coercion. Ohohohoho~, I was so right about you! I don’t believe that there’s even one man who would look at demi-humans the way you do in the capital. This is an unimaginable opportunity!”

Selina’s expression turns much livelier as she rains praises at my way of doing things. The part about changing the minds of others makes me feel slightly guilty as if I’m brainwashing them, but I really shouldn’t think of it like that. All I am doing and planning to do is to show and explain to the girls that there’s nothing shameful or bad in working that way. I can even bring the argument that my mother is a prostitute. Well, it would work way better if she wasn’t a complete bitch at the same time, but the point still stands and it has nothing to do with her field of work. She really is a rotten apple ruining the image of that field.

“It’s definitely a huge opportunity, but also an equal risk with the current views on demi-humans and other races, Madam Selina. A risk I am willing to take nevertheless. But, to minimize that risk as much as I can, I need a source of the best possible demi-human slaves. Now, I wonder where could I find such a thing?” I confidently lean back into my chair and look at her with both eyebrows raised.

Selina crosses her arms, accentuating her quite decently sized chest and gives me a side-glance while also leaning back. “Oh, I wonder that too. If only there was some big and well-known company in the capital dealing in such things, I could perhaps introduce you to them.”

We match our gazes and start chuckling. “So, should I take this as a confirmation of our very promising partnership?” I ask.

She extends her hand over the desk with a smile. I stand up from my chair, walk closer and grab it with mine, but instead of shaking it, I lean down and leave a kiss on the back of it, like a true gentleman.

Madam Selina chuckles again after I let her take it back. “You really know how to please the ladies, Sir Carter.”

“What can I say. Sometimes I feel like I am destined for it.” I laugh a little too.

She claps her hands. “Okay, enough of this flirting, I’ve already taken a lot of your precious time, Sir Carter. Are we talking some business today or am I perhaps going a bit too fast?”

I ponder for a moment while stroking my chin. “Hmmm… Certainly, I did come here today with such intention, but I’m not really sure what I exactly want.”

“Let’s do it like this then. I will order my men to round up some nice girls around for your next visit, which we could register at the day after tomorrow if you are fine with waiting,” she suggests.

“That does sound promising, but…”

But I’m not sure about their ability to pick the nice girls out of demi-humans when I recall Lucas’s stance on them. I’d prefer to do that myself if there’s a possibility more of them share such views.

“You are not sure about us being able to select the proper goods for you, right?” Madam Selina reads through my thoughtful expression with ease. “Don’t worry, I will personally ensure that the people undertaking the task won’t have any deep prejudice against demi-humans. Trust me, we will find the most beautiful girls for you. That aspect is quite universal, even for Human men.”

“Is that so. I will leave this in your hands then, Madam Selina. I’m not sure about the number though. I may very well end up buying ten or one, I can’t say.”

“That’s not a problem. Look forward to our best products. Can I assume that the location of the brothel is your home address?” she asks.

“Yes, you can.”

“Then I will send a notice there when everything is ready or if there will be any changes. Thank you for your time, Sir Carter. It was a pleasure speaking with you again.” She stands up and nods her head.

“The pleasure is all mine, Madam Selina. Till the next time.”

After a polite bow, I leave her office and Lucas escorts me back to the exit. I think I should ask Selina to change my personal assistant if we are going to focus on the non-human part of our partnership. He’s not exactly fitting the role here. There’s no need to tell him that though.

Next, I take a stroll around the city, visiting some places I usually come to, like the weapon shop or my favourite alchemist. It’s a good idea to pick up a few things for Sirgia now and then. I communicate with her using the Sweet Whispers skill and ask if she needs anything. Given a few instructions, I hunt for the ingredients.

While visiting our usual tailor, I spot a few interesting outfits he is currently working on. Not for us of course. They look kinda like nun habits but designed in a way that doesn’t restrict a lot of movements. I can tell that it would look quite sexy on the wearer. 

Asked about that project, the artisan explains that it’s an order for one of the temples of the Goddess in the capital. Some priestesses are also working as adventurers, or more like mercenaries. You can hire them to join your party if you have enough funds and are looking for a healer. 

This… gives me a certain idea which could definitely be used in the future. I really would need my personal tailor though, with what I have in mind. Maybe I can find a slave with an interest in that? Eh, after getting Sirgia with her passion for artifacts and cooking, I don’t think it will be this easy to find someone with a talent for sewing. I don’t have enough main character aura to attract such lucky events so often. I should have read even more isekai novels back at home to raise it.

It’s already past noon so I start heading back. On my way home, I decide to step into Barren's shop, because why not. We haven’t talked much about his experience previously since that would be improper with everyone around and a bit in a bad taste, but I’m curious what he thinks.

With the sound of a hanging bell above the door, I enter his store.

“Welcome—, oh Al! Already missing me? You are coming here quite often recently, hahaha.” The burly owner greets me with a Roman-style handshake.

“I am just passing by. Why not visit for a moment. I have been neglecting you quite a lot in the past weeks,” I reply.

“Ahahaha, that’s just like you. We both run our own businesses so that’s granted. Well then, what can I do for you?”

“Just wanted to make use of some alone time together to chat about your time at my humble abode.”

“What’s there to say? I definitely didn’t expect to get done that easily, hahaha. That slime, ah sorry, that girl was really something. She made me lose my guard with how ladylike she was with all that caring and docile act of hers. I swear I’ve seen the Goddess reveal herself to me for a moment there, I was this shaken.”

I smile at him. “Yeah, that’s Safi for you.”

“I’ll definitely pass the word to some of my friends and such. I’ve also gotten that business card of yours which was handed to me by the elf girl, so I will make use of it too. It looks damn nice. Whoever made it has great talent.”

He brings out the small card that Neira prepared. It was one of my ideas for promotion. Just as they usually do, it has location info, business hours and some nice, sexy ladies on it, of course, my jiggly two ladies. Don’t want to use false-advertisement.

“Ah, speaking of elves, the bath! I don’t know if you taught all that to her or if she is a natural, but oooooh brother, she knows exactly how to angle herself to make a man’s heart skip a beat, without any damn touching! I thought I was going to burst even before we moved to the real thing!”

I laugh. “Or maybe you just have a thing for Dark Elves, hahaha.”

“Maybe, who knows. There’s no way to test that yet, right? Well, let me know if that changes in the future. I’ll still pay a visit from time to time. It’s so damn relaxing at your place that a whole month’s worth of stress and tension just went poof. Just that is really enticing. I tell you, after they work over the first uneasiness, people will start flocking there, so you better start preparing.”

“I’m working on that even right now. I’m aware of the shortage in that department, but I can’t rush some things,” I inform him.

“Ye, ye, naturally.”

Our little chat moves onto the topic of potential girls in my humble abode and we spend an hour or two discussing various races and possibilities their characteristics could bring into those love sessions. It’s fun having an open talk like this with someone who doesn’t get all weird at the mention of non-humans or explicit stuff.

“Alright, time for me to go, I had a great time,” I finally decide to head back.

“Wait a moment.” He stops me and disappears behind a curtain, soon coming back with a small, paper bag. “Here, have this, I kid you not, this is the tastiest bread you can get. It’s best to eat hot so I’ll give this one baguette to you since I have a few more. You should be able to share it with your girls before it gets cold.”

He hands me it and I take a peek inside. As he told me, there’s a tasty-looking lance of bread there, alongside a few other things he didn’t mention. I shake my head and graciously accept the gift.

I move out with the bag in my arms in front of me. The smell… it’s just so damn juicy… I couldn’t hold it anywhere else than in front of my face. This is just bliss… I can feel myself drowning in my own saliva. 

Sorry everyone, but I don’t think this treasure will survive until I get ba—

*WHOOSH*

“Wha—?!”

Suddenly, my perspective changes and the blue sky surrounded by various rooftops enters my vision. I think I can also see my feet on the bottom there.

*THUD*

“Ugh!”

Soon after, I slam the ground with my back. I lie down in a cross position, with both my legs raised upwards. Realizing what might have put them in this state, I quickly raise my head and spread them to the sides. I catch the very last bit of someone’s short figure disappearing in the nearby alley. And… I’m sure I saw a tail too.

“Haaaaaaaaah… Some people just never look where they run.” I sigh heavily and raise myself to a sitting position.

I look down to see the state of my fragrant merchandise… just to not see it anywhere on my lap. It’s not around me either. Even slightly further on the sides of the road. It vanished. Not even crumbs are left.

“Did I just… get robbed out of my bread?”

I laugh inwardly at the situation. It looks like the baguette really was a one of its kind for some thief to tackle me down just to get their hands on it. I’m kinda bummed. I didn’t even get a bite of it.

Curse you whoever stole my baguette! If only I was able to find you, I would ki—… wait. I am?

A sudden idea dawns on me and I summon the description of a certain skill.

【Sexual Predator】

You are the Alpha of all males. Your insatiable carnal desire pushes all your senses to their very limits and no female that earns your interest is able to hide or run away from you. You can effortlessly track your target even with just a whiff of their scent, taste of their sweat or blood, or any other bodily fluid.

I mean… there’s a chance… right?

I stand up, brush away some dust from my suit and glance around. No one is here at this moment. Looks like it’s time to try this ability out. Let’s pray for the thief to be a girl.

Invoking the skill causes my vision to suddenly turn into greyscale. Everything around me is of a different shade of black and white. If I were to follow the description’s hints, that’s most likely how some beast sees the world when chasing their prey, but… what now.

In all these bleak surroundings, I notice a faint puff of pinkish smoke swirling a little bit behind my back. I move closer to it and poke the mist with my fingers, but nothing happens. Getting another weird idea, I lean down and try to sniff it a little.

The moment I get a whiff of the mysterious smoke, my nostrils get filled with an insanely sweet and… intoxicating fragrance. I instantly know that the owner of this criminal evidence is a female. My body starts getting all hot and I swear there is a ferocious roar reverberating through my head. I have to hold it for a moment as I keep shaking from it.

When I regain my composure, the puff of pinkish mist has changed into a trail leading to the corner of the alley where the thief disappeared.

Gotcha. Time to play a little game of cat and mouse.

I start jogging where the line leads me. There are tens of turns and changes of direction, but I never feel like I have a hard time keeping up with the trail. It’s truly like she has no chances of escaping after I laid my eyes on her. Or my nose in this case.

After twenty minutes of running, I arrive in some side alley of the Artisanal District. I see the scent leading me towards another turn, but I know deep down that this is the last one. My target is just behind that corner.

I start slowly approaching it since I do not know what I am dealing with. Besides the fact that it’s a girl. I don’t want to get instantly deleted from this world by some pro assassin that got a little hungry.

A pile of big, wooden crates enters my vision and I can hear the rustling of the paper bag behind them. Step by step I move closer, trying to be as sneaky as possible. Soon, I’m able to lean myself over them and a peculiar sight appears in front of my eyes.

A grey-haired girl of short stature, I guess somewhere near Emi’s height, dressed in completely tattered rags in the form of a shirt and short pants, lively munching on my precious baguette like it’s her last meal. She looks really dirty, but first of all… she has cat-like ears on top of her head, twitching every time she takes a bite. The tail I’ve seen previously is also there, behind her back.

I wonder which one of us was the cat here, haha.

Beastkin have much better senses than Humans so this piece of bread must be really extraordinary for her to not notice me come this close. Or she was extremely hungry. I bet it’s both. You don’t need to be a genius to figure out how her everyday life looks.

I’m not sure to which tribe she belongs, so I try to use the universal language most of Beastkin should understand, which is Sylvan.

“Is it really that good?” I ask with a calming tone.

Her ears and tail instantly spring up and she shoots her gaze upwards at me with wide eyes while mid-bite. She curls into herself and starts pushing with her legs to escape by sliding along the wall.

“Wait, wait, wait! I mean no harm! Can you even understand me?” I walk out from behind the crates and take a step back to the other side of the alley with my hands raised.

She stops and attentively looks me all over. Still clearly vary of me, she takes a hesitant bite of the bread while not dropping the eye contact. A moment later, she faintly nods.

I lean my back on the wall and slide down to not tower over her. We sit on the opposite sides. She observes me carefully.

“So… I’m not sure if you recall, but I’m the owner of that loaf.” I point at the paper bag. She instantly realizes it and squeezes the remaining bread closer to herself. “Ah, it’s okay, I won’t try taking it back against your will. You look like you need it way more than me. Hmmm… can you perhaps speak?”

Silence falls as she keeps nibbling on the piece. I start assuming that maybe she can’t, but then the girl finally moves her mouth away from her snack and replies in a very soft but hoarse voice.

“Yes…”

I instantly realize how dried up her throat is. Without a word, I bring out a waterskin from my ring and to her surprise, throw it at her. As expected, she catches it with ease.

“It’s water. You can drink it all.”

The girl looks at me doubtfully and then at the object. She uncorks it and very carefully sniffs the contents. Still keeping her eyes on me, she moistens her lips just a little bit. After finally confirming it for herself, her eyes widen again and she begins chugging the water down. My waterskin gets emptied in a blink.

Finished, she takes a long sigh and glances back at me confusedly, with a tinge of curiosity in those cute, grey eyes.

“Do you need more?” I ask and she shakes her head.

“Why?” she finally speaks on her own.

“Because that’s the right thing to do.” I smile gently.

She tilts her head adorably, definitely not used to such views. “How… did you find me?”

“I have some… questionable abilities.” I chuckle. 

The catgirl glances at the remaining bread and back at me.

“Go on, you can finish it. It’s a shame I couldn’t get a taste, but it’s okay.” I try being kind but not too fake.

She visibly hesitates. Then, she slowly stands up and very carefully walks up to me, tearing off a bit of the loaf and extending her hand with it as far as she can towards me. I smile again and place mine under it so she can drop it down. After doing so, she moves back to her wall. I throw the piece into my mouth. Hot damn… it truly is a work of art.

We again sit in silence. I take it on myself to break it. “What’s your name?”

The girl ponders for a moment, but answers. “As... trea.”

“Astrea, huh. It’s a very cute name. Nice to know you, I’m Alastair. Al for short.”

“Ala...stair…” she adorably repeats my name to herself.

“So… is this… how you live? On the streets… stealing stuff?” I ask.

She nods.

“Family?”

She shakes her head.

“Home?”

Shaking again.

I sigh. Just as expected. I don’t think I’ve earned enough of her trust to ask this, but…

“Say… do you want to have one? Mine is very big so there’s a lot of space and there are even other demi-humans, like Elves, a Dwarf or even Slimes.”

Her eyes open a bit more again to that revelation, but I can see that she is still very wary. 

“I know I look like those trashy nobles, but I promise you I’m not like them. You know what? I actually run a brothel. With demi-human girls. Isn’t that weird? And they aren’t my slaves. They are really happy to live there and help me with the place. You can come to see if you want. Or, if you are still afraid of me, I can come here with my cute Dwarf friend so that you can speak with her. What languages do you know?” I do my best to smile and talk politely.

She definitely looks curious after hearing my story. “This one… and… Common too. I learned it from people on the streets. Why do you know Sylvan, mister?”

“Just call me Al. I learned it because I was curious about Beastkin. It looks like it paid off, right? I’m a very weird Human who likes to learn all about other races because he finds them really interesting. I know a lot of languages. I can confidently say that I know the most in this world.” I boast a little. “So… what do you say? Want to come with me”

Silence falls onto us again. She does look to be contemplating the offer, but I guess it’s really too good to be true in her eyes. Who knows what kind of atrocities she experienced from Humans. I sigh and raise myself up with the help of my wall. I step closer to her and point at the waterskin. She passes it to me and I use Livelihood Magic to fill it with water again before giving it back to her.

“Here. For later. I’ll take a stroll around here now and then if you ever want to speak again.” I smile at her for the last time and turn around to walk away.

After I take a few steps, I can hear her standing up. “Wait…” she calls to me so I glance back. “Are you really… not lying?”

Now, a glimmer of hope can be recognised in her eyes. It’s heavily obstructed by cautiousness, but it’s there. I move back to her and kneel down onto one knee so that I am the one needing to raise my head instead of her.

“Unless you can discern lies, there’s no way for you to know for sure. But yes, everything I’ve told you was true. It’s up to you to decide if it’s worth believing me.”

She gazes down at my smiling face, hesitating a lot. She steps closer to me and places her slender hands around my neck, starting to slowly squeeze harder and harder, carefully watching my reaction. It’s obvious that she is testing me according to something she has experienced in the past. As much as it is painful, I try my best to not lose eye contact with her, hoping that she won’t crush my throat.

Noticing tears forming in the corners of my eyes from the lack of oxygen, she quickly releases her grasp and I wheeze for air.

Damn… That was quite… risky.

Looking back up, I see her expression ease up a little bit. “I will… trust you. But if you are lying… know that I can easily snap the neck of Humans twice your size.”

Chills run down my spine. I’m quite sure from the previous showcase that she is telling the truth. She definitely had killed before. Most likely in self-defence. I stand up again and bring out a cloak from my storage ring. I extend my hand with it towards her.

“I’ll do my best to not give you any reasons for that then.” I smile. “Cover yourself with this. We’ll draw less attention this way.”

She nods and dons the caped cloak of dark sapphire. I begin walking away and she soon appears by my side. Looks like we are getting a Catkin as our new resident. A cute one at that.

 

It's time to (possibly) welcome a new member to the family. Also, sorry for all the cringy jokes and references, hah. I don't know why there's so many this time.

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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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