This is so freaking awesome.
I'm in the Grand Hall of Lions Keep. The sun has long set and the Welcoming Ball is in full swing. Almost all the new fist years and a scattering of 2nd, 3rd, and 4th years are here.
With two eight-weeks left before the school year starts. Many returning students are still, well, returning. So tonight its mostly the 1st years plus their families, friends, and servants.
The band tonight is the biggest one yet and is playing one of the pieces Sayo wrote. Or copied from what she remembered. This one she called the Waltz of the Flowers1https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QxHkLdQy5f0? Sounds familiar but that's only because I remember it from a movie. I think.
Watching many in their new uniforms and others in fancy ball outfits spinning around the dance floor is pretty damn amazing. The lighting from the chandeliers. The breeze and smells from the gardens and open windows.
In my arms at the moment is Milti. Who is being quite selfish. And she's not the only one. Both the princesses, Sis, and Blue, are demanding dances with me as rewards for their exam week success.
And if they are rating a dance with me that highly? Who am I to say no.
Dancing with Milti is a bit difficult since she can't merge with Juri here. But by using one of my hands as a seat? We manage. She has quite the glowing face and I've already had that talk with her father tonight.
"My Lord Barton. Please forgive this old fool but my daughter has already told me she will accept no other."
"Damn. Sorry. Is she really that set on me?"
"So it would seem. You know there are three portraits of you in her room? One of them she painted."
"Uh... Wow. Well. How about this? She is younger than I, prefer right now. If she finishes her education and still wants to be mine? Then I will make her a concubine. And do my best to give you grandchildren before the year is over."
"Hey, uh, why are you crying? Dude, get a hold of yourself. Do you hate me that much?"
"My angel is the crippled daughter of an unsuccessful merchant. Having someone as powerful as Lord Barton protecting and providing for her? A dream I never dared to have."
Yeah, that was an awkward conversation. Like with Juri I was hoping she would meet a nice half-dead boy and have some healthy half-dead kids. Maybe it wasn't meant to be.
Milti does have a beautiful laugh. Well this round is over so I return her to the harem and her wheelchair. Only to be dragged right back to the dance floor by Blue. Bless my women, the harem has been very understanding.
The only ones missing seem to be Hitomi and Frosty. Frosty I can understand because she's a Dean so has lots of stuff to do. But Hitomi? Did I do something wrong? After a kiss like that? Is she mad I didn't go after her?
Fuck. I don't know.
Back home I had women offer themselves, every now and then, that I would turn down. Admit I screwed up my first marriage. Was determined not to screw up my second one. But here? In medieval land?
Hey. It ain't right but its helped me stay sane. This isekai world is a wee bit on the fucking stressful side. And fucking can help deal with stress. Even though it feels more like reverse rape sometimes. Still helps to have beautiful women wanting me.
No matter how twisted their reasons might be.
Shit. Isn't she in that sword hero's harem. What's his name? Kobo? Shmobo? Kojo? Godzilla? I don't know. Oh crap. Am I the NTRing asshole? Man, that would be so wrong.
Yeah, I'm a guy and she's a hot japanese senior high school girl. 'Turning down' really isn't an option in that dropdown topoff menu. Would not be cool to do that to some lost messed up kids though.
I'm sure he didn't put a hit on her. Gotta be one of the other chicks. If its the heroes who sold her out. Which is a safe bet in my opinion.
Guide Blue back to the harem and wave off the dynamic duo. I need a break. Grab a seat and Frankie immediately has a whiskey in my hand while Red lights a cigar and even licks it for me first. Such polite girls.
Holy crap. The shit is really gonna have to hit the fan to balance this out. Though I may still have some credit on the balance sheet thanks to the 343 disaster. Ugh.
Seriously though, I am not cool with NTRing some poor schmuck who also got dragged into this shitty world. So its going to be hands off from here on. Hitomi is probably feeling guilty over it anyway.
But damn that was one hell of a kiss.
Still, where is she? Not showing up in the normal places. Juri? She's where?
Yep. Now that Frankie and Frosty have 'edited' Stormgarde's wards and barriers my shadows can go wherever they want too. And Hitomi? Is in the museum. Fuck, she's watching the videos. Damn, the girl is messed up enough as it is right now.
Watching someone she could have known just a few months ago go thru their whole life on this dirty ball of shit? Jesus. Gotta stop this.
A delicate grey hand on my shoulder.
"Please master. She needs this." God dammit Frankie.
"Are you insane? Watching Sayo spend her life here nearly broke me. Almost chose to put this whole planet too the torch. Still might." Yeah I'm pissed. "And you are putting someone a lot more vulnerable than me thru it?"
Stand up from the chair. Grab Frankie's wrist and lift her by it till she's eye level with me.
"Ow... P-please m-master."
Can sort of feel her intent thru our link. I just don't agree with it. Nor her methods.
"Enough." Quiet but strong. "This is the last time. Understand? Its bad enough you are always manipulating me. Always trying to pull all the strings. Fuck with her again?" Bring her closer to my eyes. "And I'm out."
"W-what?" She can feel what I mean. Which is probably why she's suddenly pale.
"You heard me. I'm out. Gone. I'll go so far away, so fast, that you will never find me again. Never see me again."
Frankie starts squirming against my grip. Like trying to pull her leg out of a bear trap.
"No no no. You can't. You won't. Please. I can't. Please don't. No. I need master. Die without master."
Frankie's eyes are filling with tears.
"Then what will you do?"
"I. I will s-stop. Ch-ch-changing her. N-no more. I s-swear." Looks me in the eyes. "Swear on y-you."
Put her down and release her wrist.
Can feel the other wives are pissed. Not at me. At Frankie. Whatever their fucked up reasons may be? They do need me. Maybe even want me. Ushi has always been the schemer. The puppet master.
Ha! Always? I haven't even been here two months yet. Have I? Christ. Already feels like forever.
Whoa. I'm bleeding? Huh. Shattered my glass. Damn. Wasting good whiskey.
Milti has somehow navigated her wheelchair next to me and is already using a handkerchief and spit to clean my bleeding hand. Huh. Is anyone around me sane? Like I got room to talk.
She looks up at me to speak. Uh. You really don't need to lick my hand. And, uh, got some of my blood on your face there. Okay.
"My One Lord. Please be at ease. Juri and Dean Frost are there."
I've already stopped the bleeding so cup her face with that hand.
"Juri is one thing. Frosty? She's looking for a Sayo doll. A japanese school girl? Probably a good fit."
Frankie has kowtowed in her pretty purple dress. Speaking with her face down.
"Dean Frost knows she will face your wrath if she, 'corrupts' her. Please master. It will be over soon."
What will be over?
Its already to that video? How long has she been watching already? Since the ceremony? Fuck. She's bawling her eyes out.
I watch as Hitomi is wrapped in shadows. Eventually the bawling drops to crying. Then to sniffling. Frosty is there too. Whispering to her. I can't here what she's saying. The wards and barriers still cause some interference.
Why is Hitomi nodding?
Oh shit. Frosty don't bring her the guitar. Hitomi's holding it. Just staring at it? Why doesn't she try to play it? Its a magic guitar. Isn't it every kid's dream to play one?
Careful, the combat maids may not let you leave with it.
They let her leave with it.
Where is she going? Here? I'll meet her. Why is Frankie holding my ankle?
"Please master. Just wait a little while longer. This is the last time I swear. I beg you. Please watch for a bit longer."
Fine. I sit back down and go back to watching a hero in disguise running across the campus towards Lions Keep. Meanwhile the party continues swirling around us. Their mood and mine are now in very different places.
Blue hands me a new glass of whiskey. Red replaces the cigar I ground into pulp.
Huh. Thief hero isn't going to the Grand Hall? Nope. Making a beeline for the Grand Suite?
Shinobi girl rounds the last corner before the Grand Suite and and almost runs into butler.
"Good evening Lady Hanneman." Oh yeah, her new disguise name. "How may I be of service."
"Please let me thru."
"My lady. If you are looking for Lord Barton? He is seated in the Grand Hall."
"I... I will wait for him inside."
Thru the shadows I see a 360 view of the back and forth. Not-sebastian tilts his head.
"Why, my lady."
"I. H-have to do this."
"That is not a very good answer lady Hanneman."
'Livina,' that's her new first name, looks up at butler.
"Does he know w-what you are?"
The most dignified man I know in completely unfazed.
"I suspect he does, My Lady. Lord Barton's knowledge and intuition are vast and powerful. Despite him also having the most inexplicable, gaps. Are you planning to tell him what you are? What you've done?"
Hitomi has both arms wrapped around the guitar and she hugs it tight to her.
"It was just a game. A terrible horrible unfair game, but a game. We needed to get better at the game. Needed, practice."
Wow, she looks like she's about to throw up. Butler? I've never seen an evil look on his face before. See one now.
"My lady. You could have kept your, 'practice' to humans at least."
"This humble manservant heard reports of your, 'exploits' shall we say, all the way in Raelera. All the heroes, in fact, seemed quite 'zealous' to improve their... skills."
Hitomi isn't looking very steady. Her back is leaning against a wall.
"Have to know. If its true... If what I've done was... If who I've done was... Real."
Another new look for not-sebastian. Sympathy?
"Well, my lady. From what this soul has heard? Slaves tend to not live very long anyway." Can hear the japanese girl throw up in her mouth a little. "You should 'confess your sins' to Lord Barton. He is unusually understanding."
"Fufu. Why? If they were, real? If all that was, real? Then, I'm not human anymore anyway. Just a game. Once we started. More and more and more. Why were we so sure, it was a game?"
"Lady Hanneman. You and your friends were put into impossible circumstances. You did the best you could."
Ninja girl start frantically shaking her head.
"No! That's a lie! I've seen the videos Kashiwa-sama made. She didn't... She? Stayed human. Even saved herself for her boyfriend! Waaahh!"
Hitomi's fallen to her knees now and wails.
"No! We were weak. I was weak. Disgusting. Unforgivable. I... I am not worthy. Unworthy of him. Of anyone. Once... Once I know the truth? I will leave. Cannot pollute him anymore. Go, someplace. Away from, everything. Die there."
Butler still looking sympathetic.
"For your education Lady Hanneman? I have yet to hear a woman say she is worthy of him. They all need his lordship for something. In this humble servant's experience. Unconditional love is something that only a parent can give to a child."
"This butler would not dream of obstructing a lady in despair. However, I should remind you that the acting skills of the Heroes' spy are renowned."
"If the lady's performance here is not authentic? While he may not kill you? Those who love him will. Including this humble manservant. Some say the Beast will bring salvation or damnation. I suspect it will be both. Be honest with him, and yourself."
In the next eye blink, not-sebastian is gone and a death knight opens the door for Hitomi.
As the hero in disguise enters the Grand Suite I look down at my 2nd wife who is still kowtowing.
"Frankie? What was the point of that?"
Her face is still on the floor but I can see the spreading tears.
"Master. You see many of us as children. And you as our parent. Our father. So, you treat us kindly. No matter how filthy, stained, and sullied we are. Another reason we love you."
"Your kindness is also your weakness, master. Please, I beg you. Be less kind."
We left the Grand Hall soon after. Thru shadow I see Hitomi rocking on her chair. Is this PTSD? Buyer's Remorse? Stockholm Syndrome? I'm no shrink but she sure as shit looks traumatized to me.
I could have ended up like that. Murder orgies, snuff, ryona? At least that's the impression I got from what they were saying. Aquecia is full of slaves. Four overpowered naive kids? Yeah, they could have ended up in a really bad place. Apparently did.
Will be having nightmares now over what my son might have turned into.
Almost to the Grand Suite and have the harem with me. Including Frosty. She apologized, a lot, but I get it. They are trying to protect me from someone who has an inside track. Someone from my hometown, so to speak.
I get why they are scared and maybe Hitomi has a magic pussy like Sayo did. Or developed one after practicing on every species they could get their hands on. Yeah, not gonna lie, kind of grossed out.
Again though. I've been here less than two months and the number of women I've done. May be over a hundred by now. Especially if we count the times I was unconscious. They've been here for over half a year.
Maybe she doesn't deserve a second chance. Maybe this is all a trap. This is a shitty world. But I need to protect my son. Need to avenge Sayo. And for that? I need resources.
Even if this is all a lie? An overpowered asset is still a valuable asset. Think I know what to say. Not sure if it will reach her. But I think it fits.
Nine women and I enter the Grand Suite. The night shift maids are cleaning. My undead are guarding or lounging. And one disguise-less japanese girl is sitting on a chair with her knees in her chest and arms wrapped around Cheri. Sayo's magic guitar.
"Lady Chigusa. What can I do for you." Keep it cool.
She won't look at me. Just holds out Cheri.
"Just. Play... Please."
I walk over and pick up the guitar. Put the strap over my shoulder and walk over to the western window. Turn to see everyone, even maids, take seats.
Have to sub something for the piano but lets give it a shot.
♫...you see a lights about to break and every cell is gonna change, just hold on gonna make it through, i know you feel that it's too late that all these chains have you enslaved just hang on, gonna see the truth...3https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U4x3cPzOy9c♫
Not a short piece but I hope it was the message she needed.
I look up to see Hitomi in front of me. She reaches out and takes off the shoulder strap and sets the guitar down. She takes my hand and looks me in the eyes.
Is all she says as she starts pulling me towards the stairs up to the loft. Blue gets up to follow but Red motions her back down.
"Ali. Stop. She needs him more than we do right now. Give her tonight."
As this beautiful japanese girl guides me up the stairs. I want to stop her. And I don't want to. I want her to get a second chance. And my record with women and second chances isn't the best.
Wow we reached the bed fast. I should stop this.
Yeah, she is a really good kisser. When she finally lets me breathe again, she looks me deep in the eyes. Really really deep. Those amazing lips part and one word comes out.