A Humble Merchant Of Herbs And Spices
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Author: Side chapter coming some time later. It'll progress from where this leaves off tho dont worry, not just fillwe. Ahem.


"...Oi. I'm the only big bro around here, understand?"

The dude who spoke just a moment before me was a young man. Tall and slender with a head of chocolate-colored hair. Together with a pair of piercing blue eyes that shone with a fierce intelligence, he created a picture that felt somewhat familiar.

He was also a very handsome guy, I had to admit. It was as if every line and edge had been carefully sculpted by a master craftsman. He reminded me of a less potent version of Damien from the sixth game. A bit thinner, more "scholarly."

The man floated on air unaided, hands behind his back, incomparably regal.

If not for the slight red in his sclera and the fact that he was munching on a brownie that was entirely out of place you'd definitely mistake him for a young Lord.

What was that he said about drugs?

He tilted his head at me. "You can still move, can you? Interesting, takes a certain level of strength and will. Also no. You can be a little big bro, but the big bro title is mine."

Did he dare call himself big bro in front of me? The arrogance!

"Acting all high and mighty in front of this Venerable Self, hmph." I gave him a baleful glance. "And what little big bro? Ah, forget it. I can let you have it...that is if you admit me as your papa."

"I don't have such a snot-nosed little brat for a father." The man waved away the compromise without a second of consideration.

"Would you like one? Where's your mother, we can have it done before nightfall."

I saw his eyebrow twitch. Asshole 0, me 1.

"Fertilizer it is then." The man nodded indifferently.

"New sister it is then. Would you like a brother too?"

The guy didn't let it show on his face but the vein in his forehead was all the indication I needed to know I got under his skin. Maybe he's a mothercon.

He suddenly raised a hand. From behind there was a solid icy tentacle that had shot out from below ready to impale him on the spot.

The hand stopped it before it could even touch him.

"A Grand Slime, is it? And a variant, no less." He calmly touched the tendril and made it crack. I could vaguely see the entire appendage break apart and travel down to it's main body. "It's somewhat human-shaped. Your handiwork?"

"I made the thing, yeah."

"You tried to have it attack me just now." The man looked almost amused. "You sneaky little shit."

"Maybe it just didn't like you. Bubble Buddy does what Bubble Buddy wants."

Which might be the case, since I really wasn't able to do much to control him. I could only roughly send it some "intent" if that's what you wanna call it.

I think the rest was just it not finding the guy likable. I agree. He was being a shithead right now. But maybe that's just because we broke into his territory, unleashed a supposedly disaster-class monster, threatened to marry his mom and give him new siblings.

I'd be sour too if someone did all that. In fact I'd have already slapped the guy's teeth out. I'm kind like that.

"Cute name." The man stepped--yes, stepped--forward. He made the air seem like a physical substance. Then he just peered at me studiously. He completely ignored Charlotte and Chelsea who were wrapped around my body.

"Young. Violet-eyed. A powerful affinity for water....You even carry the scent of my Okeanos family. And this Aura..." He rubbed his chin thoughtfully.

He stepped back just as a knife was about to gut him. "Vicious too." A chuckle. "I see. Definitely that girl's child, to be sure. Alright, forget the fertilizer bit." He spoke magnanimously. "The name's Llyr. Nice to meet you, nephew. "

"About damn time you realized."

He raised a brow. "You knew?"

"Mother once let out a comment about her big bro having some drugs. Those are pretty specific words. Plus you look just like her. Not hard to figure out."

His eyes burned a moment before settling down. "I don't sense a lie. Impressive. Most wouldn't come to that conclusion so fast."

"Also I've got two cuties here and you didn't even look at them."

This "uncle" flicked his wrist dismissively. "Women don't interest me."

"And see, a beautiful fatty like Bubbles here--"

"Fatty?" The girl huffed. "Listen here you little--"

Ignoring her. "--would at least earn a second look. I heard about the whole lack of libido thing, uncle of mine. I'd say I would be able to tell from that alone."

Wanna know who's a Dragon? Show up with a cute girl and the guy who ignores her might have a bit of lizard in him.

And I felt a special sort of feeling towards the guy since the beginning anyway. It was weird, like a sense of comfort in proximity.

"Oh, and there was a letter saying she wanted me to meet some rascal she knew. Which exploded. I'm assuming the rascal is you. She says Hi."

The mysterious force keeping my from moving freely was dropped. Well, kinda. He seemed to be using it to slowly bring us down.

On our way I saw that Bubble Buddy was currently falling to pieces. It became a scattering of rain over the lush plantlife. I had no idea what effect that might have. He wasn't exactly a normal creature. Is it safe to let him dissolve like that?

"She's still doing those damn letters?"

"Apparently. She was spying on me too. "

"That brat. Really lacking discipline." The man grumbled. "That's Father's fault, spoiling her rotten. Don't worry, this place is cut off from things like that. No spying here."

We descended quickly. When he snapped a finger--Personally I think he didn't need to and only did it to look coo--a lcluster of thick foliage rippled and disappeared to reveal a giant glass structure encircled by numerous fields that stretched for maybe half a mile in each direction.

Our feet touched solid ground. Charlotte hopped out of my arms quietly, still admiring that feather. Chelsea also got down and excitedly ran to and fro between lanes of bright, vibrant flowers, grass topped with sparkling dew and trees lined with ripe berries.

"This place is amazing, I've never seen so many strange looking medicinal herbs!"

Llyr nodded at her, seemingly satisfied, but didn't deign to respond further.

He merely placed a hand to my back and guided me through.

"Behold, nephew. The fruits of my labor." He cracked what may have been a rare smile and gestured widely. You could just hear the pride in his voice.

"So what are all these?" The young woman asked, examining a certain herb I felt suspiciously familiar.

He pointed. "Ah, a fine choice. Those are a very special strain, one I've come to name Honeydew Daydream. Sweet, fragrant, fruity and good for any occassion. The oil they produce is simply divine."

I felt my mouth drop.

This dude was growing weed!

"I don't really get it but they sound great!" The woman's eyes shined like the blazing sun. "And those?"

"Coca plants. I like to bruise them and let the leaves steep in hot spring water. Gives you that extra boost for a nice morning hike. After processing it's a great topping for any sort of baked good. Or meat. Especially meat."

He's using coke as pepper and powdered sugar! This guy's insane!

"You're a goddamn drug dealer?!" I interjected, not knowing what else to say.

A snort. "Please. I'm a merchant. " His smile turned serene. "I supply our race with naught but the highest quality herbs and spices!"

"Herbs and spices!" I nearly coughed up blood just then. What a unique way of calling it. I was stunned.

"But it's more a hobby, really. Helps fund my research." He continued down the beaten path.

...He's treating drug dealing as a hobby. I'm so done.

Now. Enough of that. Onto business.

"Got any Purple Haze? " I asked.

"What's that?"

Disappointment hit me hard. I sighed heavily. "Nevermind." I perked up fast. "Family discount?"

"For you, nephew, the first bags are free. I am a generous God."

Oi, that's my line....I wanted to say, but chose not to. Uncle's giving me drugs, after all.

" I need to make up for all those missed birthdays somehow." He went on. "And you're gonna help me advance the world of science. Compensation is, of course, required."

Haha. What the heck?

"Yeah. What? What do you mean, advance science?"

"I heard from your mother. You're the only male Dragon born with a strong libido in many, many years. The rest of us have already lost that urge, even my own father is no longer how he once was. You're a subject for study, nephew."

i stopped. "This research of yours..."

Llyr nodded. His calm, cool eyes stared at me like a fat piece of meat in front of a lion. "I'm going to make our men horny again."

"That sounded so wrong."

"Maybe, but it's true. If not me, then who? I'm not going to let out race's bloodline, our family's bloodline, just slowly wither away. There won't be any true Dragons left in the Mortal Plane were we to let this trend continue. Your mother has her Reproduction Plan, wanting to spread our genes across all the lands through the strongest of concubines to create new and equally powerful variants of our race. Me, I'm trying to fix the root of the problem to protect our noble heritage. Even if the Dragon bloodline is almost always dominant it won't be long until Dragons as they are now known become a thing of the past. Before our illustrious bloodine becomes pisswater I'll definitely cure the flaws in our mens' bodies! And you, my good nephew, are just in time to help me."

With that, he directly dragged me off into the glass structure.

Or tried to.

Before Chelsea or Charlotte even noticed what was going on a new voice entered the ears of everyone present.

"Lord Llyr, please release the Young Master. You'll find forceful methods less than ideal."

All of a sudden, just as I was gonna use the blue-bladed dagger to sever the guy's spinal cord, a wild Vera appeared!

In much the same fashion as her mother.

"Vee!" I exclaimed, never before being so happy to see her. With that teleportation thing she's obviously got going on we won't have to take so much time to ride back!

Chelsea was less than enthused and more surprised. "A little girl just appeared out of thin air!"

As for Charlotte, that girl was also stunned. "Mosshead!" She yelled softly, making the other give her a glare.

Meanwhile good ol' uncle Llyr revealed a complicated expression. "Mary?" He nearly frowned. "No...not quite. Her sapling, yes?"

"You are correct."

"I see. You look so much like her. You know me?"


Alright, hold on. "You know him?" Why the hell does this girl know shit I didn't? Pretty damn sure she knew all about the Dragon stuff way, way before I did. Does that mean Baz did too?

"How the hell do you know him? I didn't even know him until five minutes ago!"

I inwardly cursed Baz, thinking if Vee knew then he had to have known as well. Next time i see him I'm holding that ahoge hostage and gettin' answers!

In response to my question Vera merely shook her head. "I've never met nor ever been told of Lord Llyr before. But mother knows him. Naturally I do as well."

"Fine then, keep your secrets."

Vee scrunched her brows. She opened her mouth to speak but Llyr beat her to it.

"She speaks the truth." He said. "During this child's growth period Mary could have shared much of her own experiences. This is how their kind passes down important knowledge and understandings, not only of their abilities but of the world and it's people as well." He explained shortly. " It helps the child mature faster and learn quicker. I've heard she had another sapling, that Mary. For her to pass on her inheritance not to her eldest but to the younger instead...It's quite strange. She must feel especially close to this one. I wonder why that is?"


The man posed a question of his own but got no answer.

"No matter. It's nothing to do with me. Anyway, little Missy, I've research to conduct. Rest assured he will not die or have any limbs taken off. Justa bit of dissection, nothing he can't recover from. Move along now."

I was dragged yet again. Also yet again I prepared the dagger. I wasn't gonna kill him, just cripple him. He is my uncle, after all.

I'm probably gonna steal all the ganja my hands could carry too. As my compensation.

Vera was very casual as she said, "This really is a nice little garden you have. It'd be such a shame if it all...withered away."

He paused. "You wouldn't."

"You want to bet years of trial and error on that, my Lord?"

I couldn't believe what I was hearing.

My ganja!

"You only need a bit of the Young Master's blood, don't you?" The face of mercy! Or lack thereof!

"...Not really ideal, but..." He sighed, almost as heavily as I did at finding out there was no Purple Haze. "Fine. But really, what did you think I was going to do? I was joking about the dissection bit. Look, even the kid himself wasn't scared. Aren't you being too overprotective?"

I coughed. "Yeah. I mean I couldn't sense any bad intentions, you know? I'm happy you're here in my time of need." I said, refering to the fact I wouldn't have to walk all the way back to the city. "Truly like a young heroine from tales of old. But settle down, okay? This Prince ain't in need of saving. Although," I added. " it's the thought that counts, I guess, so thanks regardless."

If you ruin my weed, I'm pinching your cheeks till they turn blue! I quietly repeated this in my heart.

The girl stiffened. "Ridiculous. I only came because your mother couldn't find you after the fall. Who's thinking about you? Don't get so full of yourself." She said without a single inflection.

"Now, now, no need to be so dishonest." I chided. " I know you've got a thing for this big bro. It's alright. But, sadly, I don't think of you that way so I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you down. I feel it's best we remain friends anyway, eh? Oh. And no more spankings for you. I've indulged your fetishes too long already. You're too young for such adult tastes."

She stared at me in wonder. "...Young Master's delusions are truly impressive. What on earth could lead you to believe I would have such feelings? From the start, in my eyes, you're merely the unruly older sibling of my Mistress. Please do not mistake my current good will for anything other than what it is." Her tone was dead even. "And I can assure you I will repay ten fold all the beatings you so unjustly dealt me in the past."

That's not the same tune she was playing when she was butting heads with Yesmina.

I opted not to call her out on it though.

I squinted. "You know, I can't tell if you're bluffing or not. But maybe you ain't. In the end maybe it's just me who's too sinful, using the Devil's Left on such a young girl and opening a world that shouldn't have been known to someone your age, not understanding it's power until it was too late." Yet another large sigh echoed out. "Alright. Actually, you liking me in that way WOULD be pretty weird considering we basically grew up together. Still, Mistress' older sibling? That's cold, kid, real cold. And here I am thinkin' we was tight."

On one hand I really thought that people who were raised together as closely as we were, almost like family ourselves, would find it hard to think of the other person in a romantic light.

On the other Damien is that kinda character and a developement like that is pretty much standard in a story such as this.

But there was no real need for me to give it that much thought. After all Vera probably DIDN'T like me, at least not in that way. It's more likely the only special feelings she might have stemmed only from the Devil's Left, turning her into a masochist the same way it did Bubbles.

Right? Hah...yeah, let's go with that. It's a reasonable assumption.

it's not like I didn't consider the possibility she was lying to me. I just chose to believe she wasn't.

What was that? Denial, you say? Hey, you. Yeah, you. Shut up.

I already made my stance clear either way. Whether she was telling the truth or not didn't matter.

There's nothing more that need be said, now is there?

Vera refocused on Llyr. "More importantly than that nonsense, with you who can say for sure what was on your mind?"

A flick of the wrist. "Really that girl's offspring, so quick to condemn others. In any case let's head inside so I can get a blood sample. Also," He gave Vera a long look. "I think I've a deal you may wish to consider. "

"A deal?"

"Indeed. " He began walking, not looking back. "Let's just say that what I'm going to give will be something you'll have a vested interest in."

While I was busy ushering a hesitant Charlotte and Chelsea along with us, Vera conversed with Llyr.

"No thank you, Lord Llyr. I'm certain you have nothing to offer that I could possibly want."

He chuckled lightly. "Don't be so quick to assume things, little tree. We'll discuss it in more detail later." There was something strange to his tone that I didn't like. However I also didn't think he meant anything bad either.

This deal is shady is fuck and he's an oily bastard who reminds me of Will, but still. I trust Vee to make her own choices.

As for what that deal might be, I think I could guess. I'm sure Vera must have a lot of strange powers I'm not aware of and considering this dude's an "herbalist" I'd say he wants her help growing a few things.

After all if you're someone who's studying botany who better to help you than a Dryad? And from what Mary said they're a special sort.

Born from a World Tree, huh.

Since Damien's ancestor, Okeanos, is responsible for their creation it makes sense that they serve his descendants.

Though it's weird, me and Dolly have each have one as attendants but it doesn't look like Llyr himself does. If he did he wouldn't need Vera.

How was it decided who got one and who didn't? And I couldn't help but feel Vera may have been a tad hostile towards this uncle of mine. Her words were just slightly sharper than normal and that was odd.

What was that about sharing experience? I thought perhaps Mary had a falling out with this Llyr person. Because Vee never met the guy, so how else would she have a bad impression if not for Mary's own thoughts and feelings being passed down?

He could have asked Mary, who was older and presumably stronger and more masterful in the abilities her race possessed, for help with his studies. Yet he didn't and instead asked Vera as soon as the opportunity presented itself, even enticing her with some sort of reward.

If that isn't an indication of a strained relationship I don't know what is.

See? i can do simple deductions.

Real question is why the hell my left nut got a tingle when they were talking. The nut never lies! This was a bad omen, I could tell.

I dozed off, inadvertently staring at Chelsea's back.

"What?" She asked, feeling my eyes.

I snapped back to reality and shook myself "Nothing." I replied steadily. "I was just wondering why Mother wanted me to bring you along. I think I get it now."

"Eye candy?"

"Nope. Food." I gave a small flash of canines. "I'm feeling peckish and you're standing there lookin' like a snack."

She laughed. "Oh, Your Grace, such a kidder."

My stomach rumbled just then, at a time that couldn't be more perfect.

The laughter died. "No, no, you can't actually be serious, can you?" Her face paled. " H-hey now, d-don't be getting any weird ideas, you hear me? I don't taste good at all, you know?!"

I smirked. "I'm in the mood for fish fillet. Would you like to be breaded or buttered?"

The woman was terrified, backing up with widened eyes. "Neither!" She shouted.

"Buttered it is."

"No!" She cried. "Your Grace, calm down, I'm not food!"

"Looks like dinner to me."

"Eh? No, you're wrong. I-I'll give you indigestion!"

"Nah, it's okay. I've got a strong belly. Don't be so stingy. It'll just be a couple of bites."

" I'd prefer if you didn't take a bite at all!"

"Tsk. Don't say that, my beautiful honey garlic glazed fish fillet--"

"You're already thinking of way to cook me?!"

"--I spent all that time to tender you up, so of course I am."

"That was you tenderizing me?! Oh gods...!" She was bug-eyed, her face a sickly ghost-white.

"Although maybe we should fatten you up a little." I gave her a long, appraising look.

"Your Grace..."

"Or not. Actually I don't think I gotta cook you at all. I haven't had sushi in a while. Perhaps I should eat you raw?"

"I don't know what sushi is, but it sounds terrible!" She shivered.

"Alright, enough playing with the food." I took a step forward, making her jump.

"@#$%^&!" She directly ran away, making me give chase.

I was a lot faster and easily caught up. She was captured quite readily, causing quite a scene with her pitiful struggles.

"Your Grace, let's talk about this, eh? I'm really not appetizing at all! I'm all sweaty and gross, not fit for consumption!"

"Don't worry so much, it's just tiny little nibble." I licked my lips hungrily.

The move drove her to tears. "Noooo.....!!!" She screamed miserably.

I then bit down on her ear and tugged gently.

She froze.


After a final slightly harder bite that made her yelp, I let her go, enjoying the sobbing beauty's confusion.

"Y-You're not gonna eat me?"

I ruffled her hair affectionately. "'Course I won't.."

Light came back to her eyes. "Your Grace....!"

"...Yet." The light, it died. " I enjoy the hunt. I'll give you five minutes. Run."

She gave a shaky smile. "Your Grace, that's not funny at all."

"I found it pretty funny." Charlotte stepped in, a little small corner of her lip lifting in a suppresed grin.

"Well it wasn't!" Chelsea croaked. "I really thought I was going to be devoured!"

"I don't know, I'm still considering it. I bet you'd taste delicious.

A vigorous shake of the head. "Not at all!" She insisted forcefully.

I let out a small laugh. "Actually, you're right. You were a bit too salty. Let's wash you up, then I can eat you."

"I'll never shower again! You can't make me!" She backed away hastily.

The girl looked like she was developing a trauma. "Alright, alright, I won't eat you. No, actually, did you really think I would? Lottie's right. That's hilarious."

A glare. "Dragons are notorious foodies, okay?! It wasn't funny, dang it!" She hit me. "I nearly peed myself!"

"Okay, calm down." I raised a hand to placate her.

Didn't work. "Calm down?" She started. "Calm down?! You try calming down after someone says they wanna eat you! Why don't I eat you instead and see how you like it?"

"Bubbles!" I yelled scandalously. "How shameless! And in front of the kids, no less!" I went over and covered Charlotte's ears. "Vera, cover yours too!"

She was observing the whole act with a face of pure annoyance. Which was indicated by the slight downward slope of her brows.

Bubbles belatedly realized her own words and kicked a stone in anger. "That...that's not what I meant!"

"Absolutely disgusting." Vera turned away.

"Women truly are vulgar creatures." Llyr spoke calmly, not even sparing her a glance. "A pity we need them to carry on the bloodline."

Bubble's face was, by this point, entirely red. Whether in anger and embarrassment it was unknown.

"But...but he was the one who...I didn't...." A stomp of the foot. "Why is it my fault?!"

"To be fair you're the one with a spanking fetish." I added helplfully. "They were spying. You heard me talking about that, didn't you? Which means you're also an exhibitionist. A pervert through and through. How can it be helped if people misunderstand you?"


"Don't be so glum there, Bubbles. I accept you for who you are. Who cares if you're a pervert? You're my pervert." I squeezed her shoulder comfortingly. "After all you're my Plan B, you know?"

As we walked the woman was suddenly a lot more depressed than when we started.

This is fun. I'm going to have to tease her more often, she had the best reactions.

Should I start looking for fish bowl?


"Wait a minute." Chelsea stopped as we were led into a vast jungle-like greenhouse. "You're the one stealing all the life energy!" She recalled. Bit late, wasn't it?

"It's needed for the continuation of my research. How else am I to cultivate rare and exotic plantlife?"

"You're killing an entire land!"

"Do you care for the ants beneath your feet?"

"Ants? They're people!"

"Who will likely die in a matter of decades even if they don't meet an unfortunate accident."

"Well I'm the one who has to take care of them! And you're making that job pretty dang hard."

Llyr waved her off. "The troubles of lower existences are none of my concern. Especially not the woes of a vulgar fish like you."

"I really wanna fight you." She grit her teeth in rage.

"You can't even handle my nephew, let alone me." He said in contempt. "Thinking I don't know of you, hmph. If even that crazy woman couldn't beat me, you have no chance. Although you're sisters your abilities are much too far apart, don't even try. Patiently wait until my work here is done, I'll destroy the barrier myself at that point."

"You...you know Becks?" Bubbles was stunned. Her eyes went dark. "Are you the reason she came back all bloodied up that one day?"

"Which day in particular? She assaulted me several times." He idly shot a stream of water towards a giant, bulbous flower. " Stubborn little sardine, she really frustrates one to death." He muttered. " A whole field of high-quality spiritual herbs, buried under a goddamn glacier. Blasted thing still hasn't thawed. She's lucky I only took an eye. Stupid woman. Who the hell was she callin' an in-law? I see her again and I'm taking the other one too!"

At that point the man was so worked up the stream became a jet and hacked the strange flower apart. The entire space seemed to slightly distort.

"Uncle, uncle, uncle. Calm down. Here, have some Honeydew Daydream." I slipped him a blunt conveniently found in a box full of the stuff.

"Don't be getting into my things. Those are for Fire Lord Aodh."

"He won't miss one."

"Last time I forgot to ship a full box the Freezing Wastes melted."

"What Freezing Wastes?"

"Exactly. Such a drama queen." He rolled his eyes.

"Don't worry, uncle, I'll protect you from the big bad firebug."

"Tch. Who'll protect me? Just a spicy chicken, who's scared of him?"

Chelsea looked like she was about to faint. "Fire Emperor Aodh is an overlord of over fifty realms!"

"So?" Llyr asked. "I'm an overlord of over a hundred and you don't see me bragging. That upstart was still sucking milk from his mother's teat when I and his grandpa were out plucking herbs from Jade Mountain." He seemed to be reminiscing with a far-away look to his eye. "Those adorable bunnies chased us for a solid year back then. Good times. They really can't handle their drugs, those guys."

"Wait, you're telling me that was you? The Great Nemesis of the Lunar Jade Hares?"

Lunar jade hares. Hah. This was starting to sound like a xianxia novel now. Wait, did that mean bunny girls?!

I haven't met one of those yet. I did see beastkin with several different types of ears or other animal traits but haven't found any bunny-girls so far.

I haven't the faintest of clues what the difference would be between them and other mutated beastkin either.

Maybe they were just really strong, smart bunnies?

If so that's ANOTHER disappointment. First no Purple Haze, now maybe no bunny-girls.

"Oh, you heard? Yes. I got angry at the run around so I set fire to their mountain range. They have some great herbs there. Whole realm was pretty chill for weeks after that. They were cute, all passed out and hallucinating." He sipped his "tea" in tranquil silence after that, quietly laughing at the resurfacing of old memories.

It sounded like there was a mountain of ganja--and other equally valuable herbs, most likely--and this guy lit everything up into one giant ganja smokehouse. I could only imagine how high the people trapped inside were when all was said and done.

A good few of them probably reached enlightenment.

"The whole family is weird!" Charlotte lamented softly. She was following along with the conversation, it seemed. "I really can't let Alex marry into these oddballs after all."

As that was going on I wandered around, inspecting all the pretty flowers. Some gave off a rather nice scent. I called out to uncle Llyr to ask about one in particular that had a dark blue shade and star-like spots on it's petals. It was like a night sky in the form of a flower.

"Don't get too close, that one has strong--"


"Ah, gross!" I coughed. The damn thing sprayed me! "Now I got flower jizz all... over...me...Woah." My words slurred.

My vision swam.

"--knockout gas. Shit. Well. See you in a few hours, I guess?"

"Your Grace!" Bubbles shouted, alarmed.

I promptly fell back, the world having long since gone dark.