Ch. 33 – My Way To You
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Chapter Thirty-Three – My Way To You

“Are we just going to sit around here, getting high on delicious food and fluffy pillows, without doing anything?” Milo asked Kai after dinner was over, and they were allowed to roam freely, at Galien’s encouragement, but with the promise not to leave the estate.

It looked like Galien had important matters to attend to, so he was letting his guests to their own devices, and Kai had a feeling that Sebastian’s cousin was searching for ways to solve their situation. That meant that, at one point, they would travel back to their world and leave this fantastical one behind.

And Pepin. And the tiny shard that was supposed to turn into a baby. Kai sighed. What was he supposed to do? So, on the one hand, it was logical that they couldn’t stay here forever. Their parents must have noticed their disappearance by now, and they were probably worried sick. But how could he leave Pepin behind? And forever? The thought alone was enough to open something in the pit of his stomach, something that felt like fear and sadness mingled together. Kai didn’t care for feelings like that; he was used to putting the lid on whenever they emerged. It was much easier to get lost in a world of fantastic creatures and be the hero instead of dealing with things like that. And now he was in such a world, but he still wasn’t safe from such feelings.

“Hey, man, are you listening?” Milo asked and bumped into him to shake him off those unpleasant thoughts. That was one of the reasons they were friends. Milo had a unique sense that let him know when those around him had soul trouble; that was what Kai had noticed over the years.

“I totally am. I need to see Pepin,” Kai replied, “but I don’t think Galien would be too happy to hear about that. He wants us to stay put.”

“And are we going to do that?” Tani asked.

“Of course not,” Kai said. “I mean, I get it that it’s dangerous and all, but Pepin is like pregnant, and maybe Sebastian is hard on him right now--”

“But Seb’s a good guy,” Tani insisted. “I mean, he’s like a warrior for good. You should have seen yourself beating the crap out of those bullies. He was epic,” she added and brought her closed hands under her chin with a dreamy look on her face.

“I bet,” Kai said wryly. “You had the chance to get to know him, not me.”

“Are you jealous?” Milo snickered and nudged him in the ribs again. “That Tani likes Sebastian more than you?”

“If he wants a sister, I’m willing to give up on mine,” Kai said. “Ouch!”

Tani promptly hit him in the shoulder. “Whatever the people around here say about him, I don’t care. He’s cool and reliable.”

“He sure is, in a nutshell,” Kai admitted. “I mean, I do think that the people under his rule should be a little more grateful. The guy’s been fighting for Ifigia all his life, and all they do is write retarded songs about his butt.”

“About his what?” Tani asked.

“Moron says what?” Kai joked.

“What?” Tani asked again.

Kai smacked her upside the head playfully. “Moron.”

Tani drove one punch into his stomach, making him double over.

“We should find a way to the royal palace so that you can see Pepin,” Milo offered promptly, making the siblings stop bickering.

“That’s totally what I have in mind,” Kai said and grabbed Tani’s hands to stop her from attacking him again. “When I met Galien, he was without a horse.”

“How’s that relevant?” Milo asked.

“Right, context,” Kai said. “Well, I was riding around, and he jumped in front of me. And he told me that he had just come from Kelonia – which is here – to Ifigia – which is where Pepin and Sebastian are. And he was on foot. Which means--”

“—that there should be a reasonably short way between here and there,” Milo concluded.

“Exactly,” Kai replied. “Now, I can’t ask Galien directly, or he’ll say something about walking straight into danger, and blah, blah, blah.”

“Yeah, who cares about the blah, blah, blah part?” Tani said matter-of-factly. “No one ever. We should search for a secret passage then.”

Kai threw his sister a pointed look. “What if it’s like a passage full of spider webs and other creepy crawlers?”

Tani pondered for a moment and looked at her pretty clothes. “Did Galien look like he just left some filthy corridor when you met him?”

“No,” Kai admitted.

“Then I should be fine,” Tani drew her conclusion, and by how she set her chin high, she wouldn’t be swayed from her decision.

“Guys, I should tell you,” Kai started. “This world may be like something from an isekai anime, but there are actual dangers in it. I mean, at first I thought I was protected against everything since Sebastian is so OP, but Conrad was about to die when he got stabbed by an assassin, and also those dark magic jerks from Uxilan are pretty scary.”

“We only want to go to Seb’s palace, right? It’s not like the royal palace is the headquarters for those guys,” Tani said promptly.

“No, but they tried to kill Sebastian, and I really suspect that they’ve never given up. I kind of got rid of them, but there might be some left. I don’t know for sure.”

“Who are these guys?” Milo asked. “And you said that Sebastian is OP, so he should be safe, right?”

There was something like anxiety in Milo’s voice as he asked that. Surely, Milo couldn’t see himself in love with the ice prince of Ifigia, but that didn’t mean that there were zero feelings there. Kai decided to keep his mouth shut for once and not make any allusion to the apparent interest his friend took in Sebastian’s wellbeing.

“You’re so totally in love with him,” Tani said excitedly.

This time, Kai grabbed a handful of his sister’s sophisticated hairdo, making her freeze as he had just activated a time stop device. “Tani, zip it.”

“Yeah, yeah, just let go of my hair, you’re ruining it,” she complained.

He stole a quick look at Milo. His friend’s face was turned, and he appeared lost in thought for a moment. Even if Tani did a lousy job of barging in on his feelings like that, just as Kai suspected, something could be there. Only that, unlike his sister, he thought of letting Milo figure out things in his own time. If one trait of character could be considered a flaw, Milo’s stubbornness had to be it. Nonetheless, Kai was grateful for that so-called flaw, as that must have convinced Milo to remain friends with him when he could hang out with all the popular kids and do whatever he wanted.

That didn’t mean that he and Tani wouldn’t conspire later to see what they could do to bring Milo and Sebastian in the same room so that they could figure out if they still liked each other. According to Tani, Sebastian was crazy about Milo, so there were no obstacles in that part of the universe. However, Milo’s legendary stubbornness would get in the way if they insisted when they shouldn’t.

“So,” he said, trying to sound cheerful and not at all worried about everything starting with Pepin and ending with Milo’s feelings for Sebastian, “where do you guys think we should start searching for a secret passage?”

“Maybe it is as simple as following the one person that knows about it,” Milo said quietly and stopped them as he pointed at a shadowy figure slinking around a corner at a fair distance from them.

“Was that Galien?” Tani whispered.

Kai grinned. “He’s going to see Conrad,” he concluded. “Let’s follow him, guys. He’ll take us straight to Ifigia.”


“Maybe you should consider starting with someone the closest to home,” Pepin suggested.

“If you mean Luna Celeste, I just talked to her,” Sebastian said as he examined the map and placed small cues over the places he knew to be inhabited by people with magic knowledge. He would still have to enlist the others’ help. “I will have to consult the council on this.”

“I don’t think you should,” Pepin argued.

Sebastian quirked an eyebrow and examined his servant’s face but saw no signs of rebellion, only concern. “And why is that, Pepin?”

“Because the last time Kai talked to them, councilman Madigar, as well as a few other voices, did nothing short of pushing him into going to confront Uxilan on his own. Which Kai did.”

“Hmm,” Sebastian let out and tapped his right index finger against his lips. “Brave thing to do for a boy like him.”

“He might have found his courage while being in your shoes,” Pepin suggested. “But what kind of boy are you talking about?”

Sebastian waved. He hadn’t known Kai Martin despite spending a reasonable amount of time in his skin. “Of course, he must have been terribly glad that I was OP enough for him to fool around without a care.”

“What’s OP?” Pepin asked eagerly. “Kai also used the word.”

Sebastian cleared his throat. Lecturing Pepin on the things from Kai’s world felt a little too much like fun, but he couldn’t help it. “It means overpowered, and it is a way to describe a character with such abilities that he or she can face enemies of all levels without fear of defeat. One particular such character I learned about while in the other world was the hero of a popular series. All he needed to do was to throw a single punch and win against any foe.”

“A single punch? The people in Kai’s world must be so strong,” Pepin said.

“No, not at all. This character is fictional, and boys like Kai believe him to be the ultimate hero or something like that. Actually, in general, people of Milo’s world rarely train in martial arts, and it is more a matter of choice and a terrible need for flexing by posting small videos of their demonstrations.”

Pepin was staring at him, his jaw slack. “What is that, flexing, Sebastian? What about videos?”

They had no time for such trivial matters. Sebastian shook his head. “Unimportant. We must concentrate our efforts in finding a solution. What were you saying about councilman Madigar?”

Pepin came closer, and his voice dropped to a whisper. “Far from me to spread baseless rumors, but it appears to me that councilman Madigar and his close friends on the council were more than eager to send you to certain death. They couldn’t know it wasn’t you, and Kai survived, but don’t you find their position suspicious? They knew very well that Uxilan was powerful enough to take away your magic. Why send our lord and protector to certain defeat?”

“They didn’t defeat me,” Sebastian pointed out. “And the council, I believe, is quite used to by now with my rushing into any danger if the fate of Ifigia is at stake.”

“A bit too used to that if you’re asking me,” Pepin insisted.

“An accusation of betrayal of such magnitude must have more to base on than your displeasure of the council’s attitude toward me,” Sebastian said.

“You cannot be this blind, Your Majesty, with all due respect. How could an Uxilan assassin sneak inside the palace so easily that day? And why that day in particular? Did they believe your body was weakened somehow? By a curse they placed on you?”

“Your evidence is merely circumstantial, Pepin,” Sebastian said sternly.

“What do you mean?”

Sebastian sighed. “Something I picked from some law shows. While you may be eager to point fingers, we cannot turn a blind eye to the rest of the possibilities.”

“Which are?” Pepin insisted.

Sebastian placed his palms flat on the map. “Luna Celeste admitted to have placed a wish with the last charm she gave me. She also believes that someone meddled with her magic, and she assumes that my sudden exchange of bodies with Kai Martin was caused by that meddling. Now, who could get close enough to Luna Celeste to achieve such an impossible feat?”

“She always appears to those who need her,” Pepin said. “But she’s a charming lady with charms, and her charms deal with happiness and joy. If anyone approached her directly, they must have come with a matter concerning the heart.”

“You approached her, didn’t you?” Sebastian asked.

Pepin stiffened. “Your Majesty, you cannot possibly think--”

Sebastian put a hand up. “I don’t suspect you in the least, Pepin. Circumstantial, see? That is why I cannot jump to conclusions and consider councilman Madigar and his associates, enemies of Ifigia so easily. It would be nothing but rash thinking on my part.”

Pepin sighed, and his shoulders dropped. “Consider it, Sebastian, please. At the last war council, he did nothing short of pushing Kai into doing something that could only be described as rash.”

“And it worked, apparently, only that Kai, despite his clumsiness and cluelessness, somehow managed to succeed in my stead.”

“He fears there are still Uxilan dark magic wielders still alive. And so do I. What kind of wish did Luna Celeste put in your charm?”

Sebastian pondered for a moment. He continued to stare at the map as he talked. “She wished for me to love and be loved back.”

“Oh,” Pepin said.

“Oh indeed,” Sebastian commented dryly. “Quite a meddlesome woman. And on top of everything, she somehow failed to protect the charm from being tampered with, hence the entire predicament that followed.”

“Do you regret it, Sebastian?” Pepin asked in a quiet voice. “Having fallen in love with Kai’s friend?”

A difficult question. “No,” he replied without hesitation.


“All right, guys, we need to be extra quiet,” Kai suggested as he felt the wall through which Galien had disappeared a couple of minutes ago. “We don’t want Galien to suspect that we’re on to him. How is this magic door supposed to work?”

“It’s not magical,” Milo said and grabbed the small torch on the wall, making it drop like a lever.

Kai straightened up as the wall gave way without a sound to a narrow corridor. “Not very imaginative,” he commented. “I would have used magic.”

“Let’s go,” Tani whispered and threw a long look inside. “It’s pretty dark in there, isn’t it?”

“We’ll take one of these things,” Milo said and pointed at the many torches aligned along the wall.

“And risk being seen? Galien might have to tie a shoelace or something, and he might turn, and he might see us,” Kai said in one breath.

“Are you sure you want to risk having your sister squeal at every creepy crawler climbing her foot?”

“Eww.” Tani scrunched up her nose in disgust. “Hey, wait, there aren’t any creepy crawlers. We so decided.”

Kai made a sign for Tani to climb on his back. “Let’s not risk it. Get on. Better to walk with you like this than have you scream every second.”

He knew his sister well. Even if she might get annoyed at him, she couldn’t ignore the temptation of piggybacking. Tani did mumble something, but she was quick to climb when he bent and gestured for her to hurry.

“I’ll walk in front,” Milo said. “Kai, hold on to me. It looks like these weird long tails on this coat could have a practical purpose.”

The air inside the corridor felt breezy, which only meant that it was connected to an exit that couldn’t be that far off.

“How far is Kelonia from Sebastian’s palace?” Milo questioned in a whisper.

“I don’t know exactly,” Kai replied. “It didn’t come up in conversation and such. I hope we don’t have to walk for hours, though. Tani clearly didn’t lay off the pudding lately.”

That earned him an instant smack over one ear.

“Watch it, butthead,” Kai growled at her. “I bet I can run faster than you in your princess dress. I could leave you here, all alone, in the dark,” he added in a low, hollow voice.

“Don’t you dare,” Tani warned him and wrapped her arms tighter around his neck.

“Okay, okay, you don’t have to strangle me.”

“You two, quiet. Do you want Galien to realize he’s not alone?”

“And what are you three doing here?”

They all jumped back and cried out at Galien’s voice. The duke held a torch and examined them with judgmental eyes. They had been so caught up in their argument that they hadn’t noticed him getting close.

Kai took a better look at Galien and squealed. “Is your hand burning?”

Galien laughed and moved his hand around, leaving trails of molten light that faded after a moment. He wasn’t holding a torch, not really, but the tips of his fingers looked like hot steel, and they were the actual source of light. “I also learned a few tricks from my dear mother.”

“I knew it,” Kai exclaimed. “But why do you say that you have no magic?”

Galien snorted. “And get saddled like Sebastian with everyone’s happiness and safety? My mother taught me to hide it save for extreme emergencies. Plus, it’s not by far as powerful as what Sebastian yields. By comparison, mine looks like a collection of mere parlor tricks. Now, if you care to enlighten me,” he emphasized the last word and chuckled, “what are you doing here, following me?”

“I need to see Pepin,” Kai said promptly.

“All right. What about your sister and your friend? Do they also need to see Pepin?”

“Not just Pepin,” Tani said. “I mean, come on, I’m here for who knows how little time, and I totally need to see Seb’s palace.”

“I see. What about you, young man?” Galien turned toward the last member of their group.

“Wherever my friends go, I go,” Milo replied.

“Ah,” Galien let out with obvious disappointment. “And here I thought you wanted to see a certain someone.”

“I have no business with that dude, sorry,” Milo said, yet his voice was not that indifferent and held in it the shadow of a doubt that wasn’t easy to shake off.

Yeah, there was a bit too much denial in Milo’s words to ring true. It wasn’t like his best friend to become defensive, and he always met every challenge head-on, but clearly, now wasn’t the case. There was conflict inside his heart and mind, and Kai was curious about it but couldn’t push Milo to talk. Better to leave things like that to settle on their own; that was what he believed.

“Fate has a strong sense of irony, then,” Galien said.

“Why?” Tani asked.

Galien gestured for them to follow. “Because, adorable little girl, Sebastian used to be a heartbreaker, and it appears that it’s now his turn to suffer the same ordeal he inflicted upon his past lovers.”

“Did he have a lot of lovers?” Milo asked.

Kai grinned but held his face away. Why did Milo have to know such a thing unless he was interested? Tani was squeezing his shoulder, a sign that she, too, was all eyes and ears.

“It depends on what you mean by a lot,” Galien said airily.

“I don’t know, how often did he change lovers? Like once a month or so?” Milo asked.

“Or so,” Galien replied in the same manner.

Milo groaned. “I slept with a manwhore.”

Kai snickered, Tani let out something along the lines of ‘oh, no, he didn’t’, and Galien laughed wholeheartedly. “A manwhore? Are there many such men in your world?”

“I don’t know, but I wouldn’t sleep with one,” Milo said.

“It looks like you did, though,” Galien served it right back at him. “I would ask if it were enjoyable, but there are young ears present so I won’t.”

“You can ask,” Tani said eagerly.

“No, he cannot,” Kai intervened. “Ignore my sister. She’s just too much into BL for her age and own good.”

“BL?” Galien questioned as he walked purposefully in front. It looked like the duke didn’t mind having company on his way to his lover after all.

“Boys Love,” Kai explained. “It’s just a fiction genre, with illustrations and everything,” he tried to offer a short clarification.

Tani groaned. “BL is much more than that,” she complained. “BL is love; BL is life.”

Galien laughed again. “I believe I would enjoy this BL a lot if I ever had the chance. A word of advice, young people. We must make sure that Sebastian doesn’t catch whiff of our being in his palace. He would never forgive me for bringing you along, especially Milo.”

“Why? Doesn’t he love him anymore?” Tani asked.

“It’s because of that he prefers all of you to stay away from danger. I know Sebastian well. As we speak, he is most probably searching for ways to send you back to your world, and that without seeing Milo even once.”

“But why?” Tani insisted.

“Because, my dear guest,” Galien replied as he moved his hand around to illuminate the path ahead, “there is no one nobler than Sebastian in the entire land. He doesn’t want to jeopardize any of you, but especially Milo, not for a moment, and also must believe by now that his love is doomed, anyway.”

“Why?” Tani moaned, more exasperated this time.

“He sealed his union with Pepin for the good of the realm. And yours. Sebastian is a man of duty, he lives for it.”

“Oh, no,” Tani whispered. “He has just forced himself into a loveless marriage? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Not only,” Galien explained. “Unlike me, he must know Milo very well by now. And I can only assume that he imagines that Milo cannot be in love with him anymore.”

Kai turned his head slightly toward his best friend, expecting him to say something like how he had never been in love with Sebastian anyway, but Milo remained pensive and quiet. Tani squeezed his shoulder again to let him know that she saw all that, as well.

“Now, visitors from another world, I’m glad that I caught you in the act of following me,” Galien started, “because you would have never passed through here without my help.”

“Cool,” Tani whispered as they stopped in front of a door that appeared to have been made from liquid flames.

It was enough for Galien to deep his fingers in the door, and the flames parted, allowing them to go through.

“This is the best trip ever,” Tani concluded as they walked in single file after Galien.


“Wait here,” Galien told them, as soon as they were on the palace ground, after walking in through a side gate that took them to a small secluded garden. “I’ll bring Pepin to you,” he addressed Kai, “but let’s make sure that no one else sees you.”

“Fine by us,” Kai said, speaking for the entire group.

Milo appeared as lost in thought as he had been since the conversation about Sebastian’s feelings with Galien, and he didn’t care to disturb him. Plus, he had more pressing matters to think of, such as seeing Pepin while in his actual body.

Great, he had been so taken with how to find a way to here that he had forgotten to worry about how disappointed Pepin would be once he saw him from up close.

“What if he won’t like me, the real me?” he said out loud, turned toward Milo and Tani.

“Pftt, he totally will,” Tani asked. “You’re a catch. Just tell him your level in World of Nocraft, and he’ll fall head over heels.”

“Stop being mean to your brother,” Milo scolded her. “I don’t think you have any reason to worry. After all, the dude decided you were worthy making a baby with. As weird as that must sound, it has to mean a lot.”

“Yeah, but I’m… me,” Kai said and gestured at his body. “I mean, I’m skinny and cannot throw a punch, and I’m pale like a vampire for not sleeping at night almost at all, and I’m not even particularly funny or fun--”

“Dude, chill,” Milo stopped him. “Why not let Pepin tell him why he likes you?”

“And force him to lie?” Kai complained.

“I never lie,” a well-known voice replied his question from behind.

Kai pivoted on his heels so fast he almost ended plastered, face first, against the flowerbeds, but Milo caught him in time and then pushed him toward Pepin, who hurried to him with the most beautiful smile in the world on his face.

Kai didn’t even think as he took Pepin in his arms and kissed him. Pepin held his face in his hands and looked at him lovingly. “Kai, what are you doing here?” he asked, his voice full of joy.

“Finding my way to you,” Kai replied.