Book 2 Chapter 31: Adapting to a new life
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Author's note
 
Well, just a week into the new school year and I'm already out of buffer chapters now. Well, there are other reasons for that though. I am having a bit of a difficult time with the mid-chapter transition for chapter 35. I got a solid conclusion 1600 words in, and now I have to come up with something else that fits as part of the same chapter for the second half, and I had to sleep on it to think about what to write. That's the only reason I didn't have the new buffer chapter up before posting this one.
 
Well, one thing is certain. The new term is not speeding up my writing pace.

Esgal’s POV
 
Some fruit, wild herbs, and a few odd nuts. This was all that Esgal was able to find in the woods around the capital at the base of the great tree. This hardly seemed like food appropriate for the princess’ pets, it was certainly not good enough to make much of an effective first impression.
 
She remembered her time as a human, barely. She was not too certain what appropriate food for children at that age would be, but the cooked meat of animals was always something highly prized by humans. A delicacy that only the rich could afford to have on a regular basis. Of course, as a former mage, she had access to this in her meals quite regularly before passing on to her current life. However, she had never actually had to hunt for her own.
 
This is troubling. The animals in the capital are small, things like squirrels. These animals were commonly only eaten by the poor due to how tough the meat was. It would likely be better to have a meal lacking in meat all together than to present the princess’ pets with squirrel meat. However, the only source of larger game was way out bast the stripped lands of the scar. It would take at least an hour or two just to hunt the meat and bring it back, even with her wings.
 
There was also the question of whether any game could be found at all. Demons would be quite common in the forest near this battle ground, even at such a distance. Those demons would first target others of their own kind after they had transformed. Demon meat would be equally unacceptable. Those humans had unusually strong spirits, but even for them eating demon meat would be like poison. It wouldn’t be as bad as it would be for a normal human, they might be fine with one or two meals of it, but there was still no excuse to even risk such a thing. If she was going to hunt for those humans, she would likely need to hunt out even further. It could become an all day affair.
 
It really seemed like there was no other choice but to give up on getting extravagant with this meal. She would have to apologize for its simplicity and simply bring something better later on. Perhaps she could hunt during the night when the humans were asleep? That would buy her far more time.
 
There were rarely ever humans at the capital, and when there were there was usually a lot more warning ahead of time as it was the members of some kind of delegation from a human kingdom. The capital had no need of humans, the great tree gave off enough spirit energy to feed everyone an abundance. The fey dragons also did not like humans, they were unable to hear the spirit voice, the dragon’s only means of communication. This frustrated the dragons. There was no rule forbidding humans from entering the capital, but it had become such a rare thing that there might as well be such a rule. Because of this, there was no store of food for humans or anything else necessary to care for or sustain them here. The guest rooms at least had the chamber pots necessary for beings that could not sustain themselves purely on spirit energy, but that was about as far as it went.
 
With a sigh, she went back to the trunk of the great tree and stood in the circle of rocks right at the base. This represented a more permanent version of the transport circles that were used to get around within the great tree. She focused on her destination, the high guest level, which would now be re-purposed to the royal level. Once she was there, she went to the storage and pulled out one of the eternal silver serving trays, a silver that never tarnished no matter how much time passed, and ran a cloth over it to remove the thick layer of dust that had built up on it. 
 
She meticulously arranged the fruits, leafy greens, and nuts she had collected onto the platter, and then proceeded back toward the princess’ room. When she arrived, the first thing she saw was the changeling from the court walking toward her.
 
“Thank you, I will accept this.” He said to her, taking the serving platter from her hands. “I think you had best attend to your associate, Gwilitphen.” What!? What had happened to Gwilitphen!? She looked about the room and saw her baron ranked companion laying on the princess’ bed. “Don’t worry, she has permission to be there. Aerien insisted upon it since she feels at fault for what happened to her.”
 
Aerien? That was… that was the princess’ name, correct? Yes, that sounded like the name that was said at the court. But, what had the princess done that caused Gwilitphen to need the bed? Fairies had no need for sleep, only the occasional need to rest. So, what had happened to Gwilitphen? Esgal looked over to the princess who was sitting with a rather downcast expression in a chair, leaning heavily against an arm. She seemed to sense Esgal’s eyes on her though, and immediately turned and gave a weak smile before looking off again.
 
Well, it’s clear that something did happen, it happened to Gwilitphen, and the princess seems rather broken up about it. Well, truth be told, Esgal did not actually know enough about the princess to know just what this behavior from her really represented, but it did look like she was rather upset.
 
Figuring it was best to just do as the changeling said, Esgal crossed the room over to the bed. There, she found that Gwilitphen actually was laying on her side and asleep. What had happened? After staring at the soundly sleeping fairy for a while, the changeling approached from behind her.
 
“It seems Aerien has a very powerful dragon aura, enough to do this even to a noble level fairy.” He said. “She grew upset when Levin and Rolwen were called pets. I am not certain how long you have lived your current life, but Aerien was just recently born into hers, and it was very recent that she was a human herself. She finds the very concept of humans being viewed as pets very upsetting.”
 
“This was done with a dragon aura?” Esgal questioned, “but, if her aura is so powerful, why do I…” she looked back in the princess’ direction. It wasn’t just a matter of the aura she sensed being too weak to have damaged a great fairy, she could sense absolutely nothing coming from the princess at this moment. She was so confused by events when she had entered the room, she had not even noticed. The princess was not releasing even the smallest aura, let alone one strong enough to match the powerful aura of dragons and even be sensed by humans, causing them to quake in fear.
 
“She is able to suppress it somehow, I guess her cultivation must have some rogue aspects powerful enough to match that phenomenal power. Come to think of it, perhaps that is why her cultivation summons energy? If they are a rogue-based cultivation in some way, but still need a lot of power, the ability to summon the power instead of contain it inside their own body would make it easier to suppress their power later.”
 
“Summoning, and a rogue? And… this powerful. Just what…” Esgal caught herself, realizing she was talking about the princess in this way in the presence of the very person being discussed. It might be bad to continue that sentence while the person could overhear it. “So, how did she do this then if she didn’t mean to?” She asked. Indeed, if she only had that kind of power if she went to the effort of summoning it, how had she just accidentally released enough to do this kind of damage? What she was just told would suggest it had to be intentional.
 
“I asked her about that.” The changeling said. “Remember, she lived her last life in another world. It seems the humans there were all as powerful as the boys over there.” He indicated the princess’…. the humans slowly picking at the food she had brought earlier. Their power was, indeed, amazing. A genuine waterfall of spirit energy. And he is saying that EVERY human in that world had this kind of power? It sounds like that world must have been an absolute paradise for the fey races living there. There must have been a constant abundance of spirit energy in that world.
 
“Anyway,” the changeling continued, “she practiced and perfected the use of her aura in that environment, and trained it against humans of that level. She grew used to an aura of her power only being able to make the target a little nervous. In fact, there was no person in that world that could actually be damaged by an aura based attack, it was a technique only used during negotiation as an intimidation tactic. It could make a human a little bit nervous, or it might be a demonstration of strength to turn away a fight. It was never used as an attack in and of itself because it was incapable of damaging anything. It came as quite a surprise to her that she was inflicting serious harm to Gwilitphen when all she wanted to do was intimidate her a little bit.”
 
“I see…” Esgal replied, casting a quick glance back over toward the princess. “Well, I shall tend to her injuries then. Perhaps the princess’ mood will improve when she sees Gwilitphen is no worse for the experience.”
 
“I see, that sounds good.” The changeling said. With that, Esgal let out a sigh and began focusing her spirit energy into her hands. She would have to expend a lot of energy to do this. It’s a good thing that, by the sounds of it, the princess is not one to make a habit of being short tempered and causing damage of this sort. It would be a disaster for the court if that were the case.
 
-
 
Aerien’s POV
 
I’d had my doubts about suddenly having this changeling guy attached to me like this. I had never even seen or spoken to him before the moment I was supposed to make this soul contract thing. However, so far, he had given me a fair amount of useful information and, more importantly, prevented me from accidentally doing something terrible. And, right now, he was expertly smoothing everything out in order to resolve the situation in the best way possible.
 
As I watched him work, I couldn’t help but be bothered by something. That expert role of the mediator. That was the role I was always in back during my previous life. Now, I was the child who had to have their mistakes, terrible mistakes at that, cleaned up after.
 
For the fifth time since the caretaker, Gwilitphen, collapsed I found myself wishing I could help her. According to Sagel, all she needed was to absorb some extra spirit energy, preferably from another fey who had a highly dense spirit, in order to heal her wounds. I easily fit the bill for that and could readily provide more than enough energy. However, the queen… my new mother had warned me. I should not make too much of a show of power. I had already messed up with the hostility, but that could likely be excused as a lack of control. Healing, however, is a thing that is always more complex than causing injury. If I were to demonstrate I had the fine control for that, it would definitely get the attention of the dryad of this tree. I did not know what they would do to me, but from what I understand, my new mother is the one in the best position to know and it was her who told me to keep a lid on my abilities.
 
Well, it appears as though the situation is being handled now. The boys are eating now. Gaerien has been looking at me for a while now. Perhaps I should go and chat with her. I have been doing nothing but sitting here and indulging in self pity for my mistake after all. I was unsure as to how much of it was genuine and how much was a performance as now that I had been seen in this state by the other attendant, I felt suddenly like I could get up and do other things. Well, knowing my personality, it likely started out genuine and then it was a performance that I kept it up until the other woman arrived. I feel the old me would have wanted to get up and get things done a lot sooner than this.
 
Self awareness was a terrible thing at times. It means the ability to see yourself for how ugly you really are, especially in situations like this. The only solace is the realization that everyone is quite ugly on the inside. Everyone has their inner demons that they wrestle with. Getting consumed by it though is to be consumed by hell itself. Satan is, after all, known as the great accuser.
 
I took a deep breath and allowed my mind to be freed from this dark place, and then I went over to Gaerien who’s face lit up in some kind of astonishment when she saw me. She seemed dazed as she was climbing onto my lap. ‘Well,’ she said in our private form of the spirit speech, ‘I guess you must have dealt with what was bothering you now, huh?’
 
‘What do you mean?’ I asked. She was correct, but how did she know I had dealt with it? She should have not seen much more than me moping for a while. Did she really have such a sensitive read on me that she could tell the moment I got my head on straight?
 
‘Your meditation has been completely shut down for the past half hour.’ She told me. ‘It was active even while you were comatose, but it just shut down as soon as you got upset about doing that to the fairy lady there.’
 
Ah, yes. Well… ‘Gaerien, thanks.’ I said, hugging her to my chest.
 
‘What for?’ She asked.
 
‘I didn’t even realize I had stopped. I was just a little worried the emotions I was showing were not genuine in the face of what I had done. I did not even realize I had stopped my meditation. I guess I must have been pretty genuinely upset.’
 
‘You worry about weird things.’ She chastised me. She was probably right about that.
 
‘I guess I think too much.’
 
‘You have too much guilt, that’s the problem. That kind of mind-set is the result of holding guilt in your heart. It can do crazy things to you.’
 
‘Ha! I guess human psychology is one of those timeless characteristics that was relevant even in your time.’
 
‘No one understands the heart of a human better than a god after all.’ She says in a rather triumphant sounding tone.
 
I suppose that would be true. Gods and demons alike both know the human heart and human psychology far better than any living person. Demons to deceive, and God to bring peace. Both require unparalleled understanding of these things.
 
‘But what about those Greek gods or others famous for acting like modern human two year olds throwing a temper tantrum?’ I asked her, wanting to poke and tease a little.
 
“Ahahahaha!” Gaerien burst out in a cute little baby laugh. ‘That…’ “hahaha!” ‘Oh, I can’t!’ “hahaha!”
 
Wow, looks like I broke Gaerien.
 
‘Are you Ok?’
 
‘Oh boy!’ “hahaha!” ‘Is that seriously how humans of Earth see the gods of the past!? I always thought the lead gods and the more powerful gods flew off and threw their weight around a little too much, but to think they would actually be remembered like that! It’s just too perfect!’
 
‘I heard an Atheist friend of mine make the criticism once, it’s something that kinda sticks with you.’
 
‘Atheist? What’s that?’
 
‘Someone who does not believe in or worship any god.’
 
‘Oh! Yes, those who have lost their faith. You actually have a name for them?’
 
‘They are an entire organized movement onto themselves. There are faithful who like to discuss their organization almost like they are an actual religion based around disbelief.’
 
‘That is unimaginable! How do they rally around a lack of belief!?’
 
‘I thought you were the one who knew human hearts well. Humans will rally and congregate around anything.’
 
Ahh… yes, I had missed this. I had been able to talk with Gaerien while I was trying to keep my younger half alive, but due to the seriousness of the situation I was unable to truly unwind and enjoy my usual philosophical conversations with my sister. Finally! Even if everything else had changed, it finally felt like I really was back in the world of the living.
 

Subscribers' comments of the chapter
 
"Yay sister time!"
 
                          -meowingLexi
 
"Ahhh the human heart, capable of great stupidity"
 
                          -NohVoha
 
"watch as the younger sis falls down a siscon root and spoils this loli big sis rotten, and maybe softens her up a bit doing so."
 
                          -Roy
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