Chapter 24 – Apology
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"I'm sorry!" I bow not only my head but my whole body down to the hips.

"Please Morus it's alright!" Marina quickly gets flustered and is trying to stop my actions. 

"Morus-sama please it's undignified..." Kumo tries to stop me as well but doesn't dare to act out. 

"Mori-sama you did not do anything wrong!" But Itia did, and is practically begging. 

"That's right Mori-san!" Mary sides with Itia and joins in.

"Hmmm guys I think we should let her take it in for now." Only Leonon doesn't seem to mind my actions.

[That's right...] I look at Mary and gave her an sorry look. [Sorry Mary I have to do this.] I thought stricken with guilt. 

I have told that I have put Mary in danger, by being by my side she was put into a situation in which she would have been kidnapped by a priest, and that's she was almost kidnapped. [If only I didn't brought her with me...] She would have been fine and enjoying herself. Yes although she is fine and didn't sustain any sort of injuries but she would have never been put into that situation in the first place if it wasn't for me. 

"Dear but—" Marina still tries to stop me by looking at Leonon angrily but he doesn't seem fazed by it. "Marina in Morus's heart she did something terrible, even if we don't think much of it, which honestly we do, that guilt would have still remained in her heart." He pauses and looks at me. "This is her repenting for us, so please Marina let her do this to clear that cloud." He looks at Marina again with a much less tense face. "I think Morus is a pretty responsible person." He ended his speech with a wide smile. 

[That's right.] I have always taken responsibility since I was put in charge of taking care of my family. It is difficult but I've learned to swallow my pride and apologize sincerely if I felt I have done something wrong. I could have not told them and lied about it but that is out of the question. It's a part of me that I have always been proud of, you may even call it stoic. 

[It's a pretty manly trait after all.] Which is probably what made Leonon understand my plight. I'm a former dude after all. 

"...Fine..." Marina finally folded. "Alright yes I was shock to here that you have put my little Maria in danger, even mad for instance..." She tooks a deep sigh. "Please rest your head up Morus, I can't talk to you properly if your in that state." She told me with concern. 

"Alright." I finally stand up right and then seeing the worried faces of Itia and Mary, [I'll pat their head afterwards.] I remind myself as I look back at Marina. 

She looks at me with a warm and calm look. "Yes I was very upset when you told me that my little girl was almost kidnapped. I could have slap you, kick you out the inn and call in the guard but..." Marina looks at the red headed girl behind me. "But she's fine, she didn't get injured and she didn't get hurt. You properly protected her." She looks back to me. "So here." Marina got close, holds my my cheek and... 

Smack. 

"That's your punishment." Marina touch the side of my other cheek and hit it with her palm. [That's...] It almost didn't feel like a slap at all. She practically just touch my face and... 

"Eeehhhheyy~" She pinches both of my cheeks outwards making my face wide. "Fufu this is your punishment." Marina said with a giggle like she's fully enjoying this. "My daughter got into a danger and you saved her without even having a scratch. But you did cause that to happen in the first place so the only thing I could say to you is be more careful okay?" She told me that warning with the kindest face possible as she let's go of my cheeks. "Alrighty then let's move on and have dinner shall we?" Marina completely switches personality as she suddenly becomes cheerful and hops along to the kitchen. 

"..." I am speechless. 

Leonon quickly comes in to my aid and talks to me in a apologetic manner. "Sorry about that Morus." He makes a cheerful smile while scratching his head. "Marina's not the type that holds something up so she always wants to move on from something unpleasant." He explains with a smile. 

"Yeah, you got yourself a good wife." I immediately told him. "Yes that's right— wait what?" Leonon seems surprised by what I said as I hold him by the shoulders.

[Damn...] Playful and seductive, as well as a bit of a tease. She looks up to me with her seductive eyes and pinch me smack me teasingly before playfully pulling my cheeks. With elegant and flowy movements and let's not forget look incredibly young by her age Marina has become an S tier milf waifu in my eyes. Kakyoin approves of this message in heaven.

"I feel like you're thinking something bad for me hehe..." Leonon said to me with a confused look as I repeatedly pat his shoulder. [Lucky bastard...] Each pat being a little bit harder.

Eventually the wife couldn't wait for the husband anymore and showed up with a large wooden ladle and a fish on both her hands. "Leo! Don't stand there and help me out! Also Maria dear help out as well, you can play with Itia-chan later!"

"Alrighty dear!" Leonon immediately answers. "Let's chat on the table okay?" He told me with a smile looking at Mary. "Alright little missy come help your father out!" He said playfully with the sound of his cane coming towards her. 

"Papa I wanna play more— uwah!" Unfortunately for Mary even with Leonon's handicap he can still carry her with one hand. "Alright alright papa!" Mary repeated hits his back but to no avail. "Itia-chan let's play later okay?!" She gives out and shouts out to her as she looks from her father's shoulder. 

"Okay!" Itia shouted in response as Mary finally goes into the kitchen door. 

Now it's just all three of us. 

Itia was the first to break the silence, "Mori-sama, why have you bowed to a human?" She ask tilting her head. 

Kumo also joined in. "That's right Morus-sama, it is not fit for you to be so... Apologetic towards such beings." Supporting Itia. 

"Well..." I look at them thinking, [It's the right thing to do.] But I know for a fact that such an excuse is unacceptable so... "Be kind to others as they are to you." I answer them the golden rule. 

[Close enough I suppose.] I thought as I look at them with wide eyes.

"I see!"

"So that's what it meant!" 

The two of them seem to be happy with that answer. "If the humans were to receive Morus-sama's kindness..." Kumo starts thinking. "...Then they would be obligated to serve Mori-sama without force!" Then Itia concluded. 

""It's genius!"" The both of them said at the same time. 

[You guys... Are thinking way too dangerous right now.] It's like everything I do is evil if put in their lenses. 

[Well, at least that storm was finally been cleared up.] I remember what happened to me like a flashback when I open the door to the 'Starting Point' Inn and remember the fact that Mary was almost kidnapped by a priest. Which made my heart stomp all of a sudden so I couldn't wait to open the door and explain what happened and apologize to clear that of my heart. [So glad it worked out.] I smile. 

"Sigh..." I breathe a sigh of relief while the two were still talking I look down beside me as I notice something smells good and see a grinning Gabril looking at me in a sexy pose. 

She's back. "Did you check the place out?" I ask Gabril who finally got up from the floor and got close to me. 

"Yes Morus-sama~" Gabril begins to explain very close to me. "The place was very... Exciting I should say..." She's increasingly becoming redder and redder as she continues on and squirms in the end. 

But after hearing Gabril's report, the only thing I could say is... "Sorry that I keep having you do this kinds of things for me and not really interacting much." I said to her as I rub her head.

"Hehehe~" She seems to like my rubbing though as she holds herself like a worm looking at me as she bit her index finger, "T-then Morus-sama...!" It seems she couldn't hold it anymore. "A reward for my work would be nice." It seems she doesn't hide it anymore and begins rubbing herself. 

[Yeah she's definitely a pervert.] Itia specifically reported that to me after she left. At first I couldn't believe it but now... [How did I have such a naughty character?] I never put that in her synopsis when I first made her. 

I look at Gabril again to see her almost climaxing. "Hehe sorry... Morus-sama... I-I ah~ watch them too much..!" She seems like she couldn't hold it anymore. "Hehe... Is that too mu— eh?!" She was surprised for a moment as she was invaded by my arms. 

"Sure Gabril." I capture her and hug her this angel tight. 

"Hmmnnn Morus-sama why...." Gabril looks at me as she bit her lips. 

"Well you need a reward right?" I casually told her, which she seems satisfied with as she gave me a smile. "But what kind of reward so you want?" I ask her, curious as to what she specifically want. 

"Hehehehe..." Gabril makes a very wide smile as she also hugs me tight and whisper to my ear. "...Something physical and involves my beloved master hehe..." She roughly says all that while breathing heavily and spreads her legs and hug her thighs around my waist, a beer warm aura around her as her hand rubs in between. 

[What a naughty angel.] I never raised a character like this. So she needs punishment.

Smack!

I properly smack Gabril's ass cheeks. "...Aaaauuhhhaahhh..?!!!" But it seems that it only produce the opposite effect. 

"Morus-sama!"

"Pervert!"

Even Kumo and Itia notice her scream and come rushing to me. 

[What am I to do with you?] I wonder as I look at the half naked angel with her tongue out as her limbs are hanging to me with her back arch back from my body.

•••

"Oh really... Nyom!" Marina ask me in surprise as she bites down the fish meat. 

"Hmm~" The sound I made as I felt the savor of Marina's soup.

"Hmm this here is usually what we eat for supper, yesterday was an exception." Marina told me as she gives me a look at her spoon before taking another bite. 

[Delicious as always...] Eating Marina's dinner sitting with them in this dinner table is increasingly becoming a favorite pastime of mine. 

Today Marina made us a fish fish, fish stew as I bite onto the fish chunks of the stew and chewing the brown hearty bread dipped in fish sauce is an amazing combination.

I've always heard that of old people's cooking using local ingredients are the best dishes. The raw and wholesome feel of her dishes is something that the city life I've lived in could never compare to. 

Anyways, I'm not gonna add food filler any longer and, "Yeah, it's delish." I continue to talk to Marina.

The rest of the table though is moving just fine.

"Hehe I'm still jealous you've seen a—!" Mary was about to say something confirmational so Itia gave her a spoon to her mouth.

"A bug! Mary you're seeing a bug!" Itia further covers up Mary's slip up. 

"Marvelous..." Kumo meanwhile keeps saying for more extras as he drinks another bowl of soup. "I never knew humans could make such delicacies." He gulps down as he looks at the empty bowl. "As a servant I need to know the secrets of this dish!" He shouted as he gives out the empty bowl to...

"Yeah yeah here you go." Leonon. As he grabs Kumo's bowl and adds yet another one inside. "But I ain't lettin' you steal my wife's recipe." He said as a warning as he gives the hot soup to Kumo.

[What a great atmosphere.] Me and Kumo and Itia went on to our rooms and change our outfits to a more casual ware, so right now it's like we're truly a regular family. I look on with a smile as I see my companions enjoying their time and having fun while the smell of Marina's dishes lingers in the air with Leonon's laughter reverberating throughout, the childish smile of Mary and Itia fluttering in my ear, Kumo's plates stacking up, and Marina's quiet but elegant eating posture. [What a life...] I thought in bliss, as this is the closest to an ideal dinner as you can get. 

"Hehehe..." But there is one thing disrupting it though. "For the love of god please stop clinging to me..." It's Gabril. "Hehe the love goddess said that I must cling to you hehe Morus-sama." The naughty angel is disturbing this atmosphere. 

My right shoulder is in Gabril's large breast as she smothers her face onto my back as her body is floating but hanging tightly on my side. Her drool from her mouth and lower mouth is leaking on my body. [I know she's invisible but this is still uncomfortable.] She is so uncomfortable right now that I ordered her to not be able to see Mary again as she is not old enough to let her see this sort of thing. 

Although the mucouses she's secreting out is not real and not technically on my body but nonetheless a perverted angel clinging to me is annoying to say the least. 

But... "I'm Morus-sama's pet for today hehe." I have been neglecting her recently, making her do task that would make her see me less, so just for today, "Ah!" I would please her by teasing her a bit. 

[Are you really that sensitive Gabril?] I look at her ecstatic face as she goes out again, but still... [That face.] Since I'm a succubus and all its turning me on slightly. [How did you become such a slut?] I ponder deeply.

"I want to know the truth..." I mutter to myself as I thought of it. 

I don't know what will happen to me afterwards but I look back into reality again, "Gulp! I see..." Marina finishes eating as she eats up the last fish and brings her spoon down. "I guess it's time for you to know about it." It seems that what I said accidentally triggered a chain reaction. 

"Marina you don't have to answer..." Leonon tries to persuade to Marina about something. 

As I look around it seems to be that everybody has about just finished their food, even Kumo finishes his five bowls of soup with even Leonon commenting, "How can you have such a physique with this much in ya?" He wonders as he grabs the bowls but still looks intently at her. 

So Marina still answers his husband's worries. "No dear this is something Morus needs to know." She pauses. "No, has a right to know." She told straight to Leonon. 

"...There's no stopping you huh?" Leonon gives up as he scratches his head. "Yup."

But I am left here adazed. [I wonder what they are talking about...] I scramble for my head as I wonder what made them into that worried state as I then remember and go through what I told them what happened to me today and then... [I see!] I said that I was going to ask them about it today. 

Marina stood up as I finally realized what made them worried. "Alright everyone we'll clean up the table now and also." She looks at Mary, "Maria dear you need to stay with Itia-chan for now okay?" She sincerely told her so. 

"Okay!" But Mary happily agrees to it as she looks excitedly at Itia. "Don't call me -chan!" She said angrily but no one notice.

"Morus, we need to talk later." Marina looks at me with serious and worried eyes. 

"Okay..." I agreed as well, I mean why wouldn't I? 

•••

"Knock knock." I made a sound as I enter Mary's parents room.

"We're here." Marina answer my call as she sits idly by on the edge of her bed. 

"Yo Morus." Leonon shows up beside Marina with a long wooden box in his hand. 

That's what the two are doing as I entered inside and close the door. 

[It somehow feels like I'm being interrogated.] After supper and cleaning up the table. Mary, Itia, and Kumo all went ahead without me to a separate room as Marina told Mary to stay with them, also for Marina's privacy I also ordered Gabril as well to not follow me inside this room, much to her dismay. Now I enter here alone in this relatively large room with Marina and Leonon, [This feels quite awkward.] I feel like this could go into a sex scene at any moment. 

"Well then Morus sit on this chair here." Beside the two of them Marina points to a chair beside her. 

"Okay..." I follow her orders since I don't know what to do and sat down this wooden chair and now I'm looking at Marina eye to eye. 

Though she's the first one to break eye contact with me. "Leonon." Marina look to her husband as she open up her palms. "Here ya go." Even though Leonon struggle for a bit he bends down to give her the long wooden box holding onto his cane. "Sorry honey." She looks apologetic towards him as he smiles and backs off to the back and sat down. 

Marina looks back at me. "Alright Morus, I think you know why you're here." She said to me as she unlocks the box. 

Even if I don't know what the box is for I still know why I'm here. "It's about Juno and that Krissa woman." I told her blankly. 

I remember when I was talking to Krissa and her party, it didn't seem as though she was all that malevolent of a person. Either she's really good at hiding her true intentions or she's genuine, and I decided to pick the latter for now. 

Marina looks down at the box, with peering eyes and a tight lip, she quietly says, "Yes, that." And opens the box. 

I look inside and see a... "Wand?" A finely crafted and weave wand with small gems inside it and a tip made of some kind of magical metal, swirling patterns and circles around it. [That's a nice wand.] It's certainly better than the other wands I've seen bought by the two of them, one even has cracks in it! 

But still, [I wonder why she has this though?] A family heirloom? A gift? All my questions would be answered as I look at Marina again. 

Marina finally looks at me in the eye, albeit  uncomfortably so. "You see, the reason why me and Juno drifted farther and farther apart, why I despise that Krissa girl even when she's honestly not doing anything wrong. The reason of all that is..." She pauses. "A long story."

[What a cop out.] I immediately thoughtbefore she spokes up. 

"But I believe you need to know." Marina now looks at me with determination. 

[Yes.] It's not a cliffhanger. "Okay then..." I arch back and look at her closer, as I begun to tune my ears. 

"You see......." 

And it is a long one.

•••

It's about 20 years or so ago, before my children and even my husband, It was back during at the Adventurer's guild. 

"It's Marina The Aqua Strider!" 

"So cool! So young!"

"A genius of our time!"

I was called Marina The Aqua Strider back then. An elegant mage that has the special ability to walk on water and cast powerful water-type spells. At age 24 I was already a rank 5 mage, which is thought to be very impossible to do and only a prodigy could achieve, so they called me a prodigy back then. 

A mage that can cast quick and powerful water type and ice type spells, at a very young age no less which is why everybody wanted my attention. In hindsight I should have not showed off my skills so carelessly. 

Of course with attention came bad applebarries. "Hello Marina-chan." I could never forget that voice. It's a man slightly older than me and wearing fancy outfits and weapons, it's a noble adventurer.

"My name is Jhsovenne Du Tranchant, the young heir of the Tranchant family. I have heard of your exploits so it is a pleasure to meet you." He's a sharp young man filled with ambition, I should have rejected his advances at the time but I was still too naïve. "Hello there." And we met. 

He is already rank 7 at the time so even back then I was suspicious. Although I am an exception but typically adventurer's that I have never heard of reaching rank 7 is incredibly fishy. For me I have gained my rank through both talent and hard work, but this man reaching so fast without even hearing of his achievements in the bar is dubious. The only things acceptable if that man was from another branch outside the city or... A noble. 

It is a known fact that nobles typically are prioritized more and ranked up more easily than commoners have, either bribing or threatening that noble adventurer's family would make sure that their sons would gain favorable treatment. Which thankfully doesn't apply for more higher ranks since it'll ruin that guild's reputation. So the most they could bribe is for rank 7, which this young nobleman named Jhsovenne did. 

Of course we couldn't just voice our complaints willy nilly since we'll be in deep trouble. Only the higher rank adventurers have enough right to complain about it but I didn't reach that point yet.

I should have had a party with me back then so that he'll back off, I typically work and join with many adventurer parties back then but with a perfect timing that was where I was vacant of all times. Of course with me being young and dumb back then I didn't realized what's happening and decided to let him join with me and a few others for a quest. 

That was the start of our many adventures together. Although I didn't trust him much at first, which I shouldn't have, eventually after many quests and adventurers together I finally began to trust him. Jhsovenne honestly was a pretty good swordsmen, although he was very frilly and pretentious he knows how to do a kill, which in my mind at the time I thought of him as being different from the other noble adventurers. I should have.... But it was too late at that point. 

On a certain day at a certain time that I swore to forget, Jhsovenne told me this. "Marina I love you! I wanna marry you! I love you to the very bottom of my heart!" He confessed to me, garishly in front of the Adventurer's Guild. 

I was nervous, shaking in fact, as I don't know what to say to him. Although he was frequently adventuring and travelling with me, I never thought he will ever confessed to a commoner like me, so I very much never considered the possibility of him doing that in front of the whole guild. 

Although there was another reason too. "I'm sorry Jhsovenne but I'm in love with Leo!" And that was one thing that I never regretted back then. 

Leonon and I knew each other for as long as I can remember, since both of us were next door neighbors in the same fishing slum. Like me he was also talented but on terms of strength, with me being magic. Unlike me though he was never interested in being an adventurer, saying that they were pussies and that criminals and thugs were the real monsters to hunt. So he joined the city guards instead and was already a vice-captain in it. So for being a poor commoner he was already pretty influential. 

But it seems Jhsovenne cannot accept that. "You... You... Traitor!" He slaps me in the face. "You will understand this pain you've given me... You low life trash!" He threw his gloves towards me. "I will make sure you understand the authority of nobles and why you should never cross between us ever again!" And he walks away. 

On second thought, while I was crying at the strength of his slap, the pain he had given me on that day was only the very beginning.

Next day.... 

While I was walking the street it was late at night and was about to head back home after finishing my quest, my mind was still filled of what happened that day. My last regret was that I should have Leonon or my party to attend to me because. "Grab her!" I group of armed men dressing as thugs lunged at me and restrain me down.

"How dare you disrespect the house of Tranchant!"

One of them said, I realized what happened but, "Well well well..." I was way too late. 

"Looks like you guys caught the peasant bitch well." It's Jhsovenne, with a more sinister look than even yesterday. 

"I'll pay you well but first...." In his hands is a small ornate bottle, he opens the cap with a sound and grabs something inside. "I won't let you have the blessing of dying, I want to make sure you feel my anger the same way you did to me for the rest of your puny existence." He holds that something in his fingers and slowly puts it to my face. "Here's my parting gift to you, Ma~ri~na-chan." That something was a translucent worm-like thing and as he let's it go.

"AAAARRGGGHHH...!!!!!!!!"

It was a pain that I could never describe, it's not a physical pain like that slap, but a more fundamental and basic pain within myself. Like something was pulled out of me and has been put on a lock. 

"Now suffer without your magic Marina, now you are just like the rest of these fools. A commoner." He walks away along with his men, leaving me behind spasming on the ground. 

The next day..... 

It's not long until someone found me and quickly brought me back home as Leonon immediately went in to check in and realized it as well. 

"My-my... Magic..." When I try to activate it only small sparks of mana comes out, I can't control it, I can't cast it, I can't even feel it. "......Why... Why... Why! why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why why....!" Jhsovenne Du Tranchant put a curse on me, that day was the end of my Adventuring career. 

I remember hugging Leonon very tight that day, about what happened, I tried telling others as well but they didn't believe me, but from that one thing was for certain. It was.... 

The end of The Aqua Strider Marina. 

I always had the tendency to move on but to this day that's the only thing I couldn't budge myself out of. 

•••

Back to the present. "Why? What have I done wrong to deserve such a thing dear? Why must a commoner like me have to suffer much....?" After telling that story Marina was in tears. "...You don't need to think about that day Marina, don't make yourself suffer through that again." Leonon moved beside her to comfort her down by hugging her. 

"B-but dear...! That man's... That man is going to take Juno with that Krissa woman as well!" Marina shouted out loud in Leonon's shirt. 

"..." While I was speechless.

Hey guys! And gals too! It's me just finished this chapter! Yeah sorry for the late release guys, had some things to do and stuff but yeah... 4550 words! This is now the longest chapter I've ever written! I wonder where 5k will be hehe. Well anyways this was a pretty dynamic chapter, the first half is light hearted and the other half is not, it's great! What do you think about Marina's backstory? Like it? Hate it? Lemme know we'll anyways arigatou and goodbye! xD :D :)

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